“You think you could not marry her without?” she asked. “Or else get her to offer?”
“You see you cannot be serious,” said I.
“I shall be very serious in one thing, David,” said she. “I shall always be your friend.”
As I got to my horse the next morning, the four ladies were all at the same window whence we had once looked down on Catriona, and all cried farewell and waved their pocket napkins as I rode away; one out of the four I knew was truly sorry; and at the thought of that, and how I had come to the door three months ago for the first time, sorrow and gratitude made a confusion in my mind.
* * * * *
FATHER AND DAUGHTER
* * * * *
THE VOYAGE INTO HOLLAND
The ship lay at a single anchor, well outside the pier of Leith, so that all we passengers must come to it by the means of skiffs. This was very little troublesome, for the reason that the day was a flat calm, very frosty and cloudy, and with a low shifting fog upon the water. The body of the vessel was thus quite hid as I drew near, but the tall spars of her stood high and bright in a sunshine like the flickering of a fire. She proved to be a very roomy, commodious merchant, but somewhat blunt in the bows, and loaden extraordinary deep with salt, salted salmon, and fine white linen stockings for the Dutch. Upon my coming on board, the captain welcomed me, one Sang (out of Lesmahago, I believe), a very hearty, friendly tarpauling of a man, but at the moment in rather of a bustle. There had no other of the passengers yet appeared, so that I was left to walk about upon the deck, viewing the prospect and wondering a good deal what these farewells should be which I was promised.
All Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills glinted above me in a kind of smuisty brightness, now and again overcome with blots of cloud; of Leith there was no more than the tops of chimneys visible, and on the face of the water, where the haar lay, nothing at all. Out of this I was presently aware of a sound of oars pulling, and a little after (as if out of the smoke of a fire) a boat issued. There sat a grave man in the stern sheets, well muffled from the cold, and by his side a tall, pretty, tender figure of a maid that brought my heart to a stand. I had scarce the time to catch my breath in, and be ready to meet her, as she stepped upon the deck, smiling, and making my best bow, which was now vastly finer than some months before when I first made it to her ladyship. No doubt we were both a good deal changed; she seemed to have shot up taller, like a young, comely tree. She had now a kind of pretty backwardness that became her well, as of one that regarded herself more highly and was fairly woman; and for another thing, the hand of the same magician had been at work upon the pair of us, and Miss Grant had made us both braw, if she could make but the one bonny.