“But surely,” said Hugh, “putting other considerations aside, you must allow that the colour, especially when mingled with that of the corn, is beautiful.”
“Deil hae’t! It’s jist there ’at I canna bide the sicht o’t. Beauty ye may ca’ ’t! I see nane o’t. I’d as sune hae a reid-heedit bairn, as see thae reid-coatit rascals i’ my corn. I houp ye’re no gaen to cram stuff like that into the heeds o’ the twa laddies. Faith! we’ll hae them sawin’ thae ill-faured weyds amang the wheyt neist. Poapies ca’ ye them? Weel I wat they’re the Popp’s ain bairns, an’ the scarlet wumman to the mither o’ them. Ha! ha! ha!”
Having manifested both wit and Protestantism in the closing sentence of his objurgation, the laird relapsed into good humour and stupidity. Hugh would gladly have spent such hours in David’s cottage instead; but he was hardly prepared to refuse his company to Mr. Glasford.
The laird’s lady.
Ye archewyves, standith at defence,
Sin ye been strong, as is a great camayle;
Ne suffer not that men you don offence.
And slender wives, fell as in battaile,
Beth eager, as is a tiger, yond in Inde;
Aye clappith as a mill, I you counsaile.
Chaucer.—The Clerk’s Tale.
The length and frequency of Hugh’s absences, careless as she was of his presence, had already attracted the attention of Mrs. Glasford; and very little trouble had to be expended on the discovery of his haunt. For the servants knew well enough where he went, and of course had come to their own conclusions as to the object of his visits. So the lady chose to think it her duty to expostulate with Hugh on the subject. Accordingly, one morning after breakfast, the laird having gone to mount his horse, and the boys to have a few minutes’ play before lessons, Mrs. Glasford, who had kept her seat at the head of the table, waiting for the opportunity, turned towards Hugh who sat reading the week’s news, folded her hands on the tablecloth, drew herself up yet a little more stiffly in her chair, and thus addressed him:
“It’s my duty, Mr. Sutherland, seein’ ye have no mother to look after ye—”
Hugh expected something matronly about his linen or his socks, and put down his newspaper with a smile; but, to his astonishment, she went on—
—“To remonstrate wi’ ye, on the impropriety of going so often to David Elginbrod’s. They’re not company for a young gentleman like you, Mr. Sutherland.”
“They’re good enough company for a poor tutor, Mrs. Glasford,” replied Hugh, foolishly enough.
“Not at all, not at all,” insisted the lady. “With your connexions—”
“Good gracious! who ever said anything about my connexions? I never pretended to have any.” Hugh was getting angry already.
Mrs. Glasford nodded her head significantly, as much as to say, “I know more about you than you imagine,” and then went on: