Had it not been for the handsome binding of the book in her daughter’s hand, it would neither have caught the eye, nor roused the suspicions of Janet. David glanced at the book in his turn, and a faint expression of surprise, embodied chiefly in the opening of his eyelids a little wider than usual, crossed his face. But he only said with a smile:
“I didna ken that the tree o’ knowledge, wi’ sic fair fruit, grew in our wud, Maggy, my doo.”
“Whaur gat ye the beuk?” reiterated Janet.
Margaret’s face was by this time the colour of the crimson boards of the volume in her hand, but she replied at once:
“I got it frae Maister Sutherlan’, I reckon.”
Janet’s first response was an inverted whistle; her next, another question:
“Maister Sutherlan’! wha’s that o’t?”
“Hoot, lass!” interposed David, “ye ken weel aneuch. It’s the new tutor lad, up at the hoose; a fine, douce, honest chield, an’ weel-faured, forby. Lat’s see the bit beuky, lassie.”
Margaret handed it to her father.
“Col-e-ridge’s Poems,” read David, with some difficulty.
“Tak’ it hame direckly,” said Janet.
“Na, na,” said David; “a’ the apples o’ the tree o’ knowledge are no stappit wi sut an stew; an’ gin this ane be, she’ll sune ken by the taste o’t what’s comin’. It’s no muckle o’ an ill beuk ’at ye’ll read, Maggy, my doo.”
“Guid preserve’s, man! I’m no sayin’ it’s an ill beuk. But it’s no richt to mak appintments wi’ stranger lads i’ the wud sae ear’ i’ the mornin’. Is’t noo, yersel, Meg?”
“Mither! mither!” said Margaret, and her eyes flashed through the watery veil that tried to hide them, “hoo can ye? Ye ken yersel I had nae appintment wi’ him or ony man.”
“Weel, weel!” said Janet; and, apparently either satisfied with or overcome by the emotion she had excited, she turned and went in to pursue her usual house-avocations; while David, handing the book to his daughter, went away down the path that led from the cottage door, in the direction of a road to be seen at a little distance through the trees, which surrounded the cottage on all sides. Margaret followed her mother into the cottage, and was soon as busy as she with her share of the duties of the household; but it was a good many minutes before the cloud caused by her mother’s hasty words entirely disappeared from a forehead which might with especial justice be called the sky of her face.
Meantime David emerged upon the more open road, and bent his course, still through fir-trees, towards a house for whose sake alone the road seemed to have been constructed.
David Elginbrod and the new tutor.
Concord between our wit and will
Where highest notes to godliness are raised,
And lowest sink not down to jot of ill.