“It is strange that our old friend Lewis Elliot is living near Priorsford, at a place called Laverlaw, about five miles up Tweed from here. Do you remember what good times we used to have with him when he came to stay with the Greys? That must be more than twenty years ago—you were a little boy and I was a wild colt of a girl. I don’t think you have ever seen much of him since, but I saw a lot of him in London when I first came out. Then he vanished. Some years ago his uncle died and he inherited Laverlaw. He came to see me the other day, not a bit changed, the same dreamy, unambitious creature—rather an angel. I sometimes wonder if little Jean will one day go to Laverlaw. It would be very nice and fairy-tale-ish!”
“You that are old,”
Falstaff reminds the Chief Justice, “consider
not the capacities of us that are young.”
One afternoon Jean called for Pamela to take her to see Mrs. Hope.
It was a clear, blue-and-white day, with clouds scudding across the sky, and a cold, whistling wind that blew the fallen leaves along the dry roads—a day that made people walk smartly and gave the children apple-red cheeks and tangled curls.
Mhor and Peter were seated on The Rigs garden wall as Pamela and Jean came out of Hillview gate. Peter wagged his tail in recognition, but Mhor made no sign of having seen his sister and her friend.
“Aren’t you cold up there?” Pamela asked him.
“Very cold,” said Mhor, “but we can’t come down. We’re on sentry duty on the city wall till sundown,” and he shaded his eyes with his hand and pretended to peer into space for lurking foes.
Peter looked wistfully up at him and hunched himself against the scratched bare knees now blue with cold.
“When the sun touches the top of West Law,” said Jean, pointing to a distant blue peak, “it has set. See—there.... Now run in, sonny, and tell Mrs. M’Cosh to let you have some currant-loaf for tea. Pamela and I are going to tea at Hopetoun.”
“Aw,” said Mhor, “I hate when you go out to tea. So does Jock. So does Peter. Look out! I’m going to jump.”
He jumped and fell prostrate, barking his chin, but no howl came from him, and he picked himself up with dignity, merely asking for the loan of a handkerchief, his own “useful little hanky,” as he explained, having been used to mop up a spilt ink-bottle.
Fortunately Jean had a spare handkerchief, and Pamela promised that on her return he should have a reel of sticking-plaster for his own use, so, battered but content, he returned to the house, Peter remaining behind to investigate a mole-heap.
“What a cheery day for November,” Pamela remarked as they took the road by Tweedside. “Look at that beech tree against the blue sky, every black twig silhouetted. Trees are wonderful in winter.”