On such occasions Mysie’s mother would remonstrate with him, reminding him with wifely wisdom of his family responsibilities; but under all her admonishings Matthew’s only reply was:
As I gaed doon the water side,
There I met my bonnie lad,
An’ he rowed me sweetly in his plaid,
An’ ca’d me his dearie, O!
and as he sang, he would fling his arms around Mysie’s mother and turn her round upon the floor, in an awkward dance, to the tune of the song, and finally stopping her flow of words with a hug and a kiss, as he repeated the chorus:
Ca’ the yowes tae the knowes,
Ca’ them where the heather grows,
Ca’ them where the burnie rows,
My kind dearie, O!
So that, when the words of the old song floated up through the noise of the street, Mysie’s heart filled, and her eyes brimmed with tears; for she saw again the old home, and all it meant to her.
“There now,” said Mrs. Ramsay, noticing her tears, and stroking her hair with a kindly hand. “Mr. Rundell has told me all about it, and I am your friend and his. I deeply sympathize with you, my dear, for I know how much you must feel your position; but Mr. Rundell is a good-hearted young man, and he’ll be good to you, I know that. Don’t cry, dearie. It is all right.”
Thus the words of an old song, sung by a drunken street singer, brought a stronger and deeper stab to the heart of this lonely girl, than to the exile in the back-blocks of Maori-land, or on the edge of the golden West, eating his heart out over a period of years for a glint of the heather hills of home, or the sound of the little brook that had been his lullaby in young days, when all the world was full of dreams and fair romance.
In a sudden burst of impulsiveness, Mysie flung her arms round the neck of the older woman, pouring out her young heart and all its troubles in an incoherent flood of sorrow and vexation.
“There now, dearie,” said Mrs. Ramsay, again stroking Mysie’s hair and her soft burning cheek. “Don’t be frightened. You must go to your bed, for you are tired and upset, and will make yourself ill. Come now, like a good lass, and go to your bed.”
“Oh, dear, I wonner what my mither will say aboot it,” wailed the girl, sobbing. “She’ll hae a sair, sair heart the nicht, an’ my faither’ll break his heart. Oh, if only something could tell them I am a’ richt, an’ safe, it would mak’ things easier.”
“There now. Don’t worry about that any more, dearie. You’ll only make yourself ill. Try and keep your mind off it, and go away to bed and rest.”
“But it’ll kill my mither!” cried Mysie wildly. “Her no’ kennin’ where I am! If she could only ken that I am a’ richt! She’ll be worryin’, an’ she’ll be lyin’ waken at nicht wonderin’ aboot me, an’ thinkin’ o’ every wild thing that has happened to me. Oh, dear, but it’ll break her heart and kill my faither.”