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Part Fifth

Part Fifth.

I find I am still like the bairnie that pits aff the fatal moment o' pairtin’ wi' his bawbee. The sweetest honey-drop o' my story has yet to be distilled. The page 27 simple truth is that afore the week was gone past, Colin an' mysel were deeply in love wi' ane anither. I dinna richtly ken how it came aboot, for the growth o' pure affection is just one o' thae things that canna be sought out. It springs up a' at ance, like the flowers o' the field, an' needs nae fosterin'. As Mr. McGelpin said at Maggie's weddin' (which I hae yet to speak o') “wha can comprehend the delicate organism o' a maiden's heart?” The well-spring o' love that rises unsought in her breast sweels intil a mighty stream, down which she floats wi' content an' pleasure as her portion, till she passes through the gates o' life intil the vast ocean o' eternity; or it becomes a ragin' torrent wherein the distressed soul is tossed to and fro, and against cruel rocks, only to find peace and ealm in the silence o' the grave. But the first outgoin' o’ the heart is aye the same; the result is aften a matter o' guidance.

I hae to thank the ill manners o' Mistress Maggie for the happiness o' my ain voyage through life. It was her shairp answer to Colin that brought it round. If she hadna doubted Colin's word aboot far-awa’ countries there wadna hae been ony occasion to draw out my sympathy for him. An' if I hadna obeyed the natural instinct o' my heart to comfort the puir laddie in his distress, aiblins his heart might no hae turned to me.* Did I ne say how strangely things were ordered for our good by a Higher Power?”

page 28

Nae words had passed atween us, but Colin was aye at hand to do ony service he could for me. And ilka time we forgathered, the beautiful lowe o' love shone out frae his een, and lichted up his countenance. I hae little doubt but my ain made answer. We baith were simple, unaffected, country folk, who kent nae reason why we should strive to subdue the natural expression o' our thochts—an art practised I am tauld by toun-bred folks, an the mincin' belles o' fashion. It just came to a head in a very common-place manner. One mornin' I was milkin' a camstairy beast o' a coo in the byre. The silly creature was fast in the bails, but she wouldna be still, and must needs endeavour to pit her dirty hoof in the pail, a feat which she maist certainly would hae accomplished had it no been for Colin, who keepit her quiet till the milking was done. When I raise up frae my work I said till him (I couldna help daein' it—it was just inspiration): “Your help's aye worth hae'in', Colin, an' ye dinna spair't. How will I thank ye?”

There was a hungry leok in his een that gart me turn my face aside; but the next moment he pit his strong arm round my waist, an' I didna show mair resistance than was becomin' in a maiden when he prented the first best kiss o' love on my willing lips. “I'm thankit noo,” quo he.

Frae that hour Colin and I were betrothed in the sicht o' Heaven. There was nae ither witness till't,—forbye the coo.

Eh! the happy—happy hour! Frae that time a' the earth seemed brighter an' better. I walkit on air, an' dwalt in an undefiled Paradise, intil which no serpent page 29 entered to disturb my peace. I heard the voice o' love in the sang o' the merle, an' in the lilting o' the laverock. The whisper o't was borne on ilka breeze, an' echoed in the brattlin' o’ the burn. The very nicht was glorified by the knowledge that I had gotten the maist choice gift an' blessing o' a woman's life—the pure love o' a gude an' honest man.

* Note by Colin.—That's no just the way o't. I aye lo'ed her for her goodness, no to speak o' her bein' sae winsome an weel-faured lang afore the nicht Maggie flyted at me. But I'll no deny that lanet's kindness on that occasion helped matters on a wee bit.—Colin.