“Ay, Rob, I’m vexed for your sake—but it was a’ a mistake.” She went on halting and very weak. “It was a’ a mistak’—an’ naebody is to blame. We are just—driven alang, an’—we canna help oorsel’s—it’s awfu’ to hae—sic feelin’s—an’—an’ no’ hae any poo’er—to guide them richt—it’s ay the things we want maist—that we dinna get. Kiss me, Rob—kiss me, as you kissed me—yon—nicht on the muir. Haud me like you—an’ I think I can—gang content. Oh, Rob,—ay liket you—it was you I wanted a’ the time!”
He clasped her tenderly in his arms as he kissed her mouth, her eyes, her brow, her hair, stroking her and fondling the dear face, catching hungrily the smile that came to the pale lips, and lingered there like a blink of sun upon a hillside after the rest of the landscape is clothed in shadow.
Again there was a pause while he searched the pale face with the lingering smile, noting the veined, almost discolored eyelids, transparent and closed over the tired suffering eyes. Then a burst of coughing again and the blood in thick clots gurgled up from the throat. Then after a little she spoke again.
“Oh, Rob, you hae made me very happy. But I’m vexed aboot you—an’—an’ Peter. He tried to dae what was richt; but it wasna to be—I hope you’ll—no’—be angry wi’ him. He was like me—he couldna’ help it.”
“Oh, Mysie, I’m no’ angry wi’ him,” he replied brokenly, trying hard to make his voice sound dearly. “I’m no’ angry wi’ onybody.”
“I’m glad o’ that, Rob,” she said, her hand caressing his head. “You was ay a guid hearted laddie—I’m awfu’ glad.” Then her mind began to wander and she was back in Edinburgh speaking of her father and John.
“Oh, faither,” she rambled on. “Dinna be angry wi’ me. There’s naebody to blame. Dinna be angry.”
Then Robert was conscious that others were in the room, and looking up he beheld his mother and Jenny Maitland and behind them with anxious face and frightened eyes stood Peter Rundell, the picture of misery and despair.
“She’s kind o’ wanderin’, puir thing,” he heard the mother say in explanation to the others. “She’s kind o’ wanderin’ in her mind.”
It was a sad little group which stood round the dying girl, all anxious and alarmed and watchful. Then after a while she opened her eyes again and there was a look of startled surprise as if she were looking at something in the distance. Then she began to recognize each and all of them in turn, first Robert, who still held her hand, then her mother and Nellie, and Peter. A faint smile came into her eyes and he stepped forward. Her lips moved slowly and a faint sound came falteringly from them.
“Dinna be angry wi’ onybody,” she panted. “It was a’—a—mistake.”