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and hand and brain. Even amid the rush of work, to get the field cleared before Sundown, my head was busy thinking, thinking
“Here is the miniature of what this Earth would become, if the work of the World could be done thus, and ruled by motives such as these."
Besides the Miller's own circle, there were from fifteen to twenty workers, mostly younger men and women, though some few were newly married, and one or two were quiet aged couples,—there, not for any work they could possibly do, but just for Auld Lang Syne. The Miller took special charge of the Bairns and Youngsters, of all ages, from Wee Tots of four or five, rolling on the grass, up to the big Laddies and strapping Lassocks, in their early teens, ready for any prank. The Leddy devoted herself to the married Couples, and very particularly to the Aged Pairs and the more genteel bodies, like Jenn o' The Cottage. Their sons and daughters were also everywhere, and made all the louts o' Lads and bashfu' Lasses—more at home on the rigghead behind the plough or in the byre among the Cows—forget themselves for one blink of life, laugh their loudest, sing their sweetest, work their hardest, and by-and-bye sleep their soundest, thoroughly tired and thoroughly happy.
As I Aung the fow into the last cart and resumed my coat, about half-seven in the evening, I saw the Miller at the head of the field, making his way for the Stack-Yard, with a bonnie bare-headed Bairn cocked high on either shoulder, one hanging on his back, one clasping him round either knee, half a dozen scampering before him and another half-dozen
tumbling over each other behind him, and the tall, slim, cheery Master of Millerston, glorying in all the row !
Moudie Jamie and Wull of Clay-Biggin' were toshing up the last ricks,“theekin' and raipin'" them with both skill and speed, when the Leddy came round and formally invited us all to the Kirn. The Bairns and Youngkers would be accommodated in the Kitchen, and the Big Folks in the Parlour.
"Choops me the Kitchen!” shouted the Miller, and pirouetted round and round on his great toe, swinging a stoury Bairn at arm's length, who yelled with louder and louder glee at every swirl.
"Conteen yersel', man, M'Cormack," said the Leddy, assuming an indignant air, “Ye'll no disrespeck the Laird, that gate, wha has dune ye the honour to gie us a haun' at the Hairst, an' to be oor guest at the Kirn.”
"Indeed, Mrs M'Cormack, if I must tell you all that's in my heart,” interposed I, with a merry twinkle, “I was also saying, 'Choops me the Kitchen'; for never in all my life, nor in all my travels, saw I Children half so happy; and it is a right gladsome sight to see the Miller playing host to the Bairns.”
“Hoot-toots,” answered the Leddy, full of pride at the compliment paid to her husband, but trying to look aggrieved, “thae Kirns are bad for breakin' doon gude mainners! The verra Laird has been infected by the Miller. But I maun be Mistress o' ma ain Hoose, and gar ye a' dance tae ma biddin'!"
The fun broke out at a very early stage in the Farm Kitchen ; and the Elders, ben in the Room, began to laugh with glee at the uproarious laughter which they heard, more than for any other reason. They really did not know why they were all getting so hilarious, it was the thrill from young voices, it was the throb from happy hearts !
It was supposed that Angell Jenn o' The Cottage was presiding in the Kitchen ; and, for the first ten minutes, or less, she had some appearance of control, leading their voices whilst they sang, by way of Grace before Meat, “ O God of Bethel.” But long before the next five minutes had elapsed, the Miller, despite the down brows of his Leddy, found or invented some excuse for leaving “Parlour and Laird and a'," and planted himself in the very midst of the Bairns, full of bubbling glee. Nay, to tell the truth, Angell Jenn herself had privately sent him a message that she “coonted on him for a Programme”; and her Motherly face beamed with as pure a joy as the blythest Younker there, or even the Cheery Miller himself.
“ Hillo, Jocksey, Ye've drappit yer spune!”
And while Jocksey innocently looked for the spoon on the floor, instead of in his cup, where it was all the time, the Miller had whipped the bread off his plate and emptied thereinto half a dish of jelly. When Jocksey turned to lift and eat his bread, and planted his finger and thumb into the jelly, instead, his face of surprise and disgust sent all the Youngsters into fits of laughter. But the Miller was, of course, the first to rush to Jocksey's relief, all the time banning “thae mischeevous Laddies and Lassocks that wunna let a boddy enjoy his Kirn.”
“Steady a meenut, Bell! That bonnie ribbon o' yours is lowse, an' yer hair's fa'in doon. I'll knot it up for ye. There !” And the Miller managed, in the crack of a whip, to pin a label right across Bell's shoulders, inscribed in loud letters-
“Heather Bell—Kiss me wha daur !”
The Girls all clapped their hands, and laughed merrily. And the Lads, looking at each other, blushed redder and redder, wondering who would lift the gauntlet. And poor Bell was growing angry, with their eyes all gazing at her, and she un-dreaming of the cause. At that moment, I, suddenly slipping in from the Parlour to see the fun, took in the ploy at a glance, whipped the label off, held it before her eyes, and, while she was reading it, taking her unawares, gave Bell a right hearty smack. All the Youngkers yelled with delight; and Heather Bell blushed crimson, looking, though she knew it not, a very Goddess of Beauty
"Come awa', Geordie ; anither Cup, afore ye gie in! Ye've only drunk seeventeen, an' eaten sax scones an' three farels o' cake an' yae slice o' breid, no tae mention a sperk or twa o' jeely an' a whang o' cheese. That's naething for a man that has wrocht sin' four o'clock i' the mornin', an' has tae dance half a dizzen reels wi' Bett M'Quha, this nicht, an' 'll no sleep till he has seen her safe at the Shiels, an' has kissed her fowerteen times afore he can say GudeNicht. Help Geordie tae anither Cup. It's het wark coortin'; an’ Geordie's thirsty wi’ love !”
Every one at the table knew that Geordie Cawmle was daft about Bett M'Quha; and this rollicking sally set all the Lads and Lassocks a-roaring; which Geordie greatly increased by sheepishly pro
testing against the Miller's arithmetic, and minutely detailing what he had eaten, to defend himself from the suspicion of gluttony! This the worthy Miller greatly enjoyed, and crowned the episode, by a mock pathetic appeal to his Sweetheart:
"Think nane the waur o' him, Betty, that he gets a wee mixed in his figures! Wiser men than Geordie hae lost mair than arithmetic in siccan a splore. If I was a Youngker, I'd try a race wi' him yet for the love o' bonnie Betty MQuha.”
And so, with good-humoured banter and innocent trickery, which the rest, thus led, were incited to imitate, the whole company, young and old, were kept in boisterous glee, and feasted to their hearts' content; coming at last to the pancakes and the cookies and the snaps, the shortbread and the gingerbread and the sweeties; till the most omnivorous School Boy had lost his appetite, and the fourand-five-year-Olds were bespattered with Toffee Stick from ear to ear, in the vain attempt to swallow everything!
No time was lost at the table, once the eating was past. “Wha says a game at Tig roon the new Stack Yaird, afore the Sun gangs doon, follow me,” quoth the Cheery Miller. His resources, thus far, had scarcely been begun to be drawn upon; where I, amidst such surroundings, would have been puzzling my brain what on Earth to do next to entertain these Young Folks.
We were all swept into the current, the doucest and elderliest in the crew instinctively following the Youngsters from Parlour and Kitchen alike, and making for the Stack Yard. But long ere some of