Colonel Brownlow’s severe command to open the door was not resisted for one moment, and forth rushed a cloud of dust and feathers, a quacking waggling substratum of ducks, and a screaming flapping rabble of chickens, behind whom, when the mist cleared, were seen, looking as if they had been tarred and feathered, various black and grey figures, which developed into Jock, Armine, Robin, Johnny, and Joe. Jock, the foremost, stared straight up in his aunt’s face, Armine ran to his mother with-"Did you see the old king, mother, and his little page? Wasn’t it funny-”
But he was stopped by the sight of his uncle, who laid hold of his eldest son with a fierce “How dare you, sir?” and gave him a shake and blow. Robin stood with a sullen look on his face, and hands in his pockets, and his brothers followed suit. Armine hid his face in his mother’s dress, and burst out crying; but Jock stepped forth and, with that impish look of fearlessness, said, “I did it, Uncle Robert! I wanted to make Aunt Ellen laugh. Did she laugh, mother?” he asked in so comical and innocent a manner that, in spite of her full consciousness of the heinousness of the offence, and its general unluckiness, Mother Carey was almost choked. This probably added to the gravity with which the other lady decreed with Juno-like severity, “Robin and John must be flogged. Joe is too young.”
“Certainly,” responded the Colonel; but Caroline, instead of, as they evidently expected of her, at once offering up her victim, sprang forward with eager, tearful pleadings, declaring it was all Jock’s fault, and he did not know how naughty it was-but all in vain. “Robert knew. He ought to have stopped it,” said the Colonel. “Go to the study, you two.”
Jock did not act as the generous hero of romance would have done, and volunteer to share the flogging. He cowered back on his mother, and put his arm round her waist, while she said, “Jock told the truth, so I shall not ask you to flog him, Uncle Robert. He shall not do such mischief again.”
“If he does,” said his uncle, with a look as if her consent would not be asked to what would follow.
CHAPTER VIII. THE FOLLY.
There will we sit upon the rocks,
And see the shepherds feed their flocks
By summer rivers, by whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.-Marlowe.
“How does my little schoolfellow get on?” asked Mary Ogilvie, when she had sat down for her first meal with her brother in her summer holidays.
“Much as Ariel did in the split pine, I fancy.”
“For shame, David! I’m afraid you are teaching her to see Sycorax and Caliban in her neighbours.”
“Not I! How should I ever see her! Do you hear from her?”
“Sometimes; and I heard of her from the Actons, who had an immense regard for her husband, who, they say, was a very superior man.”