“Thank you, sir,” said Margaret, gratefully; but her whole countenance looked troubled, as she turned towards her home. Doubtless, however, the trouble vanished before she reached it, for hers was not a nature to cherish disquietude. Hugh too went home, rather thoughtful.
In the evening, he took a volume of Wordsworth, and repaired, according to his wont, to David’s cottage. It was Saturday, and he would stay to supper. After they had given the usual time to their studies, Hugh, setting Margaret some exercises in English to write on her slate, while he helped David with some of the elements of Trigonometry, and again going over those elements with her, while David worked out a calculation—after these were over, and while Janet was putting the supper on the table, Hugh pulled out his volume, and, without any preface, read them the Leech-Gatherer. All listened very intently, Janet included, who delayed several of the operations, that she might lose no word of the verses; David nodding assent every now and then, and ejaculating ay! ay! or eh, man! or producing that strange muffled sound at once common and peculiar to Scotchmen, which cannot be expressed in letters by a nearer approach than hm—hm, uttered, if that can be called uttering, with closed lips and open nasal passage; and Margaret sitting motionless on her creepie, with upturned pale face, and eyes fixed upon the lips of the reader. When he had ceased, all were silent for a moment, when Janet made some little sign of anxiety about her supper, which certainly had suffered by the delay. Then, without a word, David turned towards the table and gave thanks. Turning again to Hugh, who had risen to place his chair, he said,
“That maun be the wark o’ a great poet, Mr. Sutherlan’.”
“It’s Wordsworth’s,” said Hugh.
“Ay! ay! That’s Wordsworth’s! Ay! Weel, I hae jist heard him made mention o’, but I never read word o’ his afore. An’ he never repentit o’ that same resolution, I’se warrant, ’at he eynds aff wi’. Hoo does it gang, Mr. Sutherlan’?”
said I, ’be my help and stay secure!
I’ll think of the leech-gatherer on the lonely moor;’”
and added, “It is said Wordsworth never knew what it was to be in want of money all his life.”
“Nae doubt, nae doubt: he trusted in Him.”
It was for the sake of the minute notices of nature, and not for the religious lesson, which he now seemed to see for the first time, that Hugh had read the poem. He could not help being greatly impressed by the confidence with which David received the statement he had just made on the authority of De Quincey in his unpleasant article about Wordsworth. David resumed:
“He maun hae had a gleg ‘ee o’ his ain, that Maister Wordsworth, to notice a’thing that get. Weel he maun hae likit leevin’ things, puir maukin an’ a’—jist like our Robbie Burns for that. An’ see hoo they a’ ken ane anither, thae poets. What says he aboot Burns?—ye needna tell me, Mr. Sutherlan’; I min’t weel aneuch. He says:—