But how could old Hamish go down to the quay? He was in his own person skipper, head keeper, steward, butler, and general major-domo, and ought on such a day as this to have been in half a dozen places at once. From the earliest morning he had been hurrying hither and thither, in his impatience making use of much voluble Gaelic. He had seen the yacht’s crew in their new jersies. He had been round the kennels. He had got out a couple of bottles of the best claret that Castle Dare could afford. He had his master’s letters arranged on the library table, and had given a final rub to the guns and rifles on the rack. He had even been down to the quay, swearing at the salmon-fishers for having so much lumber lying about the place where Sir Keith Macleod was to land. And if he was to go down to the quay now, how could he be sure that the ancient Christina, who was mistress of the kitchen as far as her husband Hamish would allow her to be, would remember all his instructions? And then the little granddaughter Christina, would she remember her part in the ceremony?
However, as Hamish could not be in six places at once, he decided to obey his mistress’s directions, and went hurriedly off to the quay, overtaking on his way Donald the piper lad, who was apparelled in all his professional finery.
“And if ever you put wind in your pipes, you will put wind in your pipes this day, Donald,” said he to the red-haired lad. “And I will tell you now what you will play when you come ashore from the steamer: it is the ‘Farewell to Chubraltar’ you will play.”
“The ‘Farewell to Gibraltar!’” said Donald, peevishly, for he was bound in honor to let no man interfere with his proper business. “It is a better march than that I will play, Hamish. It is the ‘Heights of Alma,’ that was made by Mr. Ross, the Queen’s own piper; and will you tell me that the ‘Heights of Alma’ is not a better march than the ’Farewell to Gibraltar?’”
Hamish pretended to pay no heed to this impertinent boy. His eye was fixed on a distant black speck that was becoming more and more pronounced out there amidst the grays and greens of the windy and sunlit sea. Occasionally it disappeared altogether, as a cloud of rain swept across toward the giant cliffs of Mull, and then again it would appear, sharper and blacker than ever, while the masts and funnel were now visible as well as the hull. When Donald and his companion got down to the quay, they found the men already in the big boat, getting ready to hoist the huge brown lugsail; and there was a good deal of laughing and talking going on, perhaps in anticipation of the dram they were sure to get when their master returned to Castle Dare. Donald jumped down on the rude stone ballast, and made his way up to the bow; Hamish, who remained on shore, helped to shove her off; then the heavy lugsail was quickly hoisted, the sheet hauled tight; and presently the broad-beamed boat was ploughing its way through the rushing seas, with an occasional cloud of spray coming right over her from stem to stern. “Fhir a bhata,” the men sung, until Donald struck in with his pipes, and the wild skirl of “The Barren Rocks of Aden” was a fitter sort of music to go with these sweeping winds and plunging seas.