"He sailed away to foreign lands, to the East and West Indies, Australia, and the wide Pacific, and though he may have visited English ports in the meantime, many a long year passed before he again saw the home of his youth.
"He at length came back with a young wife, and some money in his pocket. He had undoubtedly pictured in his imagination his cottage on the wild moor as an earthly paradise, and had described it as such to his wife. When she saw it, she expressed a very different opinion, and complained of the wretched hovel and savage region to which he had brought her. Poor Alec told her with all sincerity that he had believed it to be very different to what he owned it really was. He promised to take her back to the town where her father lived, although in order to support her he must again go to sea. His relation was an honest man and promised to take charge of his property as before, for Alec would not sell it, and leaving his young wife he once more went to sea.
"On his return from his first voyage, he found that she was dead, and had left behind her a daughter. He had still the little damsel to work for, and so the brave sailor placed her under charge of her grandmother, and again sailed away over the ocean.
"His thoughts often wandered back to his little daughter for whose benefit he was enduring hardships and dangers—twice he was wrecked, and many years passed by before he again got home, and found his daughter no longer a little child but a full-grown woman, and as ready I am afraid to spend the old sailor's money as her mother had been. He had not, however, much to give her, and so in a short time off to sea he went again to get more. Next time he came back feeling that this voyage must be the last, for he was getting too old to endure the hardships of a life on the ocean, he found his daughter married to a sailor. Her husband had soon to go away to sea, and shortly afterwards news came that his fine ship had foundered, and all on board had perished. His poor young wife was heart-broken at the news, and not many weeks afterwards she was taken away, leaving her little boy who was born at the time to the charge of her father. Her mother's family were all dead, and Alec Morrison found himself alone in the world with his little grandson Robby, and possessed of but scanty means of support. He had just money enough to bring him to his old home in the Highlands.
"His cousin though a poor man had done his best to keep the cottage in repair, and to preserve a few head of cattle which he handed over to him.
"The old sailor took up his abode with little Robby in the cottage, hoping with the small plot of ground surrounding it and his cattle to obtain the means of supporting himself and his grandson. He, often, I fear has a difficulty in doing so, but he never complains, and recollecting how he lived as a boy, often I believe fancies himself one again.
"He employs his spare time in taming birds and making cages for them, and in cutting models of vessels and boats, and manufacturing other articles; indeed, I believe he is never idle, and seems as contented and happy as if he had been prosperous all his life, and never met with a misfortune.
"There, I have told you all I know about old Alec and his ancestors and descendants—four generations if I reckon rightly. I daresay as I before said, if you ask him that he will be happy to narrate some of the many adventures he has met with during his voyages. I suspect that he often, while enjoying his pipe, tells them to Robby as he sits on his knee during the long winter evenings, though the little fellow must be puzzled to understand whereabouts they take place, unless he knows more about geography than probably is the case."
"Thank you, Mr Maclean," exclaimed Fanny, "I long to see old Alec again, after the account you have given us of him; I feel so sorry for him that he should have lost his father and mother, his wife and daughter, and all the money he has gained with so much toil and hardship, and now to be compelled to live alone with a little child to look after."
"I am very sure he thinks the little child a great blessing, and would much rather have it than be without its companionship," observed Mrs Leslie. "From the account you gave of the boy, he is very intelligent and obedient."
"Oh yes!" answered Fanny, "he seems to understand what his grandfather wishes him to do, and does it immediately. When he was sent back, before going he sprang up into the old man's arms, and gave him a kiss, and then ran off across the moor singing merrily."
"I thought him a stupid little brat," muttered Norman. "When I ran out while you were drying your clothes, Fanny, and told him to draw me about in the carriage, he said that he could not till he had asked his grandfather's leave, as he had to run after one of the cows which was straying further than she ought."
"That, instead of showing that he is stupid, proves that he is sensible and obedient, and I wish that another little boy I know of, was equally sensible and obedient," observed Mrs Leslie, looking at Norman.
Norman tried to appear unconcerned, but he knew very well that his grandmamma alluded to him.
"I will make him do what I want, the next time I go there," said Norman, but he took care that Mrs Leslie should not hear him.
The account which Fanny had heard, made her eager to set off that morning to visit the old sailor and his grandchild.
"May we have the carriage, Mr Maclean?" she asked. "I should so like to take little Robby some toys, or picture-books, or fruit, or something that he would like it would make him happy, and, I hope, please the old man."
"We shall be very glad to give you some things to take," said Mrs Maclean, "and though I do not think we have any toys, we may find some picture-books, at all events we can send some fruit and cakes which will be welcome."
"Oh, thank you, thank you," exclaimed Fanny, "if we go as soon as we have had our reading, we shall be back by luncheon-time, and now I think I know the way too well to run the risk of losing it."
"You must take care not to tumble into the water again though," said Mrs Vallery.
"I will take care not to do that, mamma; indeed, there is no risk of it, as old Alec showed us a safe way across the stream, and I can easily carry Norman over, so that there will be no chance either of his tumbling in, if he does not kick about while I have him in my arms."
"Will you behave properly, and do as your sister tells you?" asked Mrs Vallery, turning to Norman.
"I always behave properly," answered the young gentleman, looking indignant at the idea of his ever doing otherwise.
"Norman will be very good I am sure," said Fanny, fearing that any difficulty might arise to prevent the intended excursion.
Just as they left the breakfast-room, however, Sandy Fraser came to the door.
"It's a fine day for the young folks to take a row on the loch, and so I just came up to see if they were willing to go," he said, as he pulled off his bonnet and wished the laird and ladies good morning.
"Oh, I shall like that much better than bumping over the moor in the little cart," exclaimed Norman. "Fanny, I am going with Sandy Fraser on the loch, and you can pay your visit to old Alec and his stupid little grandson another day. It will be much better fun to row about on the water, and I will take a rod and line, and I am sure I shall catch I don't know how many fish in a short time."
These remarks were not heard by the rest of the party.
"Mamma, do let me go with Sandy Fraser," exclaimed Norman, as Mrs Vallery appeared from the breakfast-room. "Fanny does not care about the trip over the moor I am sure, and we shall both like a row in the boat much better."
"In that case, as Sandy has come up for you, I certainly would rather you accompanied him," said Mrs Vallery, and going to the door without waiting to hear what Fanny had to say on the subject, she told Sandy that the children would soon be ready, if Mr Maclean approved of their going.
"That's jolly," cried Norman. "Mr Maclean can you lend me one of your rods? I want to catch some fish for you."
"You would find it a hard matter even to hold one," answered the laird, "but I will get a long thin stick cut, which you will be able to manage better than one of my rods. And let me advise you to sit quiet in the boat, and do what Sandy tells you, or you will get into mischief. If you promise me this you may go."
"Oh yes, I promise to sit quiet," answered Norman, "and you may be sure I will not get into mischief."
Fanny though she liked going on the water, would much rather have paid a visit to old Alec, but she was always ready to give up her wishes to please others, and as Norman seemed so eager to take a row in the boat, she agreed to accompany him.
Sandy undertook to dig for some worms for bait, and to cut a rod. When he brought it back, Mr Maclean fastened a line with a float and a hook to it.
"There, young gentleman, you are fitted out as an angler," he observed, as he gave it him. "Would you like a very large basket to bring back your fish in, or will a small one do?"
"I think I had better take a large one," answered Norman. "Fanny can carry it down to the boat, and Sandy and I will bring it back slung on a thick stick when it's full of fish."
The laird laughed heartily. "You must not blame your fishing-rod if you are not successful, for you will catch quite as many with it, as you would were I to lend you one of mine," he observed. "Now good-bye, and remember your promise to behave properly, and Sandy will do his part in looking after you."
Fanny came down ready to set off.
While she walked on by the side of the old man, Norman frequently started ahead, flourishing his fishing-rod in the way he had seen Mr Maclean flourish his, and eager to begin drawing in the fish he expected to catch.
They soon reached the boat.
"Now, Miss Fanny, do you sit in the stern, and Master Norman, you keep by me in the middle of the boat, and take care that you do not hook your sister when you are whisking about your rod. We will gang to the end of the loch first, where I promised to take you, and then you can begin to fish on the way back."
"But why should I not begin to fish at once?" exclaimed Norman. "That's what I want to do, I do not care about the scenery."
"But the young lady maybe does," observed Sandy, "and I wish to do what she likes best."
"But I want to fish, I say," exclaimed Norman. "Why cannot I begin while the boat is going on? I wish you would put some bait on my hook, for I don't like to touch the nasty worms—then you will see how soon I shall catch a fish."
Sandy gave a broad grin, as he put on a worm, and then throwing the line into the water, let Norman hold his stick, while he again took the oars, and rowed slowly along towards the end of the loch.
Fanny sat in the stern of the boat, looking like a bright little fairy— admiring the scenery, even more than she did on her first excursion with the laird. She wished that Norman could admire it too, but he kept his eye on the float, thinking much more of the fish he expected to catch than of the mountains and rocks and tree-covered islets.
"I am so very much obliged to you for bringing us," she said to Sandy. "This is indeed very beautiful."
"Oh yes, its very braw," answered Sandy,—but she could obtain no further expression of admiration from him, for having lived near the loch nearly all his life, he saw nothing very remarkable about it.
"I wonder whether there is any other place equal to this in all Scotland," exclaimed Fanny, after they had gone a little further, and had come in sight of a deep valley opening up on one side, down which a sparkling stream rushed impetuously into the loch, while a waterfall came leaping down from rock to rock among the trees which clothed the valley's side, now appearing, now concealed from sight by the overhanging foliage.
"Oh yes!" answered Sandy, "there are mony streams and lochs in the He'lands, but ye maun gang far to find one with fish bigger than swim in Loch Tulloch."
"But I was speaking of the scenery," said Fanny, "I dinna ken much about that," said Sandy, not exactly understanding her.
Still Fanny continued to make her remarks, and to utter exclamations of delight, and Sandy was at all events satisfied that she was well pleased.
"I wish you would not talk so much, Fanny," cried Norman. "I have been fishing away for I don't know how long, and I have not caught anything yet, and I am sure it is all your fault. You frighten the fish away."
"Unless the fish come to the top of the water, they are not likely to bite at your hook," she replied, "for I have seen it floating there, ever since Sandy began to row."
"Can't you stop rowing then, and let me catch some fish," exclaimed Norman, turning round with an aggrieved look to the old man. "It matters much more that I should catch fish, than that we should get to the end of the loch just to please Fanny."
"I have no objection to stop rowing if you wish it, young gentleman," said Sandy, "though I would rather hear you say that you wanted to please your sister more than yourself."
Norman did not heed the rebuke, but seeing his hook sink down fully believed that he was going to catch a fish. He waited and waited with unusual patience for him, but still his float rested without moving on the calm waters.
"There are no fish here, young gentleman, that have a fancy for your hook. We will go on to the end of the loch as I promised your sister, and try what we can do when we come back. Just sit down and let your line hang out if you like. There will be no harm in doing that, though the fish may not be the worse for it."
As Sandy began to move his oars, Norman was obliged to do as he was told. He looked very sulky and angry however, and would not even answer Fanny when she spoke to him.
At last they reached the end of the loch. Here the mountain appeared to be cloven in two—a narrow channel running at the bottom of the gorge and uniting Loch Tulloch to another larger loch beyond. Fanny was delighted, especially when Sandy poling the boat along proceeded onwards till the loch and bright sunshine being left behind, they found themselves in the gloom of the narrow gorge with lofty cliffs arching overhead, so that when they looked up, all they could see was a narrow strip of blue sky above them.
"We cannot go further," said Sandy, "for some big rocks stop the passage, or I would take you a row through a larger loch than our ain. If you stand up you can just see its blue waters shining brightly at the head of the gorge."
"I want to go back and begin fishing," cried Norman, in an angry tone, "we are wasting our time here."
"Yours is very valuable time, young gentleman, I doubt not," remarked Sandy, standing up in the bow of the boat, which having turned round, he began to pole out by the way they had entered.
They were soon again in the loch, which looked brighter and more beautiful than ever after the gloom of the gorge.
They had not gone far when Norman again insisted on stopping.
"You promised that you would let me fish on our way back, and I am sure there must be numbers about here," he said, throwing in his line.
"I should not wonder that there was no worm on your hook," observed Sandy, after they had waited some time. "I thought so," he continued, when Norman pulled up his line; "you canna expect ony fish to bite at a bare hook."
"But put on another worm," said Norman, who again tried for some time with equal want of success.
He was beginning to lose patience.
"Try deeper, young gentleman, fish swim further down than you think for," observed Sandy.
Norman did not know what he meant, and so Sandy slipped the float considerably higher up the line. Still no fish were to be tempted by his worm.
"I wish you would make them bite," Norman exclaimed petulantly. "I shall never catch anything with this stupid stick and string; Mr Maclean ought to have lent me one of his own rods, and then I should have caught some fish for him."
Sandy who would never allow anything to be said against the laird in his presence, felt very angry with Norman at this remark.
"You are very ungrateful, young gentleman, to say that," he remarked. "I have let you fish long enough already, though if you were to try till nightfall, you would go back with your basket empty, so just draw in your line and pit quiet, it's time to be making our way back."
Norman looked somewhat surprised at this address.
"It's all the fault of the stupid stick," he exclaimed, and standing up he threw it away from him into the loch, and began dancing about to give vent to his anger and disappointment.
The old man rowed on, taking no notice of his foolish conduct. Fanny, however, felt very much ashamed of him, and begged him to be quiet, but he only jumped about the more, declaring that he would complain to his mamma of the way Sandy had treated him.
After he had thus given vent to his feelings for some time, and had become more quiet, Sandy, who was really good-natured, and was sorry for his disappointment, promised that if he would be a good boy, he would take him out in the evening when the fish were more ready to bite, and show him how he himself caught them. This pacified him, and he sat quiet for some time. Still, as he thought how foolish he would look going back with his big basket and no fish in it, he began again to grow angry.
"It's all Fanny's fault," he said to himself, "if she had not wanted to row about the lake, I should have had time to catch some fish."
Not knowing what was passing in his mind, Fanny, whose eyes fell on the basket, laughingly said to Norman.
"Shall I carry it home again, or will you and Sandy carry it between you on a stick, as you proposed?"
"Why do you say that?" exclaimed Norman, jumping up, "you are sneering at me; you will go and tell them I daresay that I threw my rod into the water."
"Indeed, I will not," said Fanny, "I do not wish that any one should laugh at you."
"You are always laughing at me yourself," he answered, growing more angry. "But I will keep you in order, you are but a girl, and girls should always obey their brothers, that's what I think."
"You are but a little boy, though you think yourself a big one," said Fanny, somewhat nettled at the way he spoke. "I wish to be kind to you, but I will not obey you, especially when you are angry, as you appear to be now, without any cause that I can see."
Fanny was not aware how very angry Norman was.
Suddenly darting at her, he seized her hat and tore it off her head.
"Take care, young gentleman, what you are about," cried Sandy, putting in his oars and about to take hold of Norman, who with Fanny's hat in his hand, had jumped up on the seat.
"Your hat shall go after my fishing-rod," he cried out, and was about to throw it as far from him as he could into the water, when, in making the attempt, he lost his balance and overboard he fell.
For a moment the water which got into his mouth as he struggled and splashed about, prevented him from uttering any sound. When he came to the surface he quickly found his voice.
"Help! help! I am drowning!" he shrieked out. "I am drowning! I am drowning! Oh save me, save me!"
Sandy quickly leaning over the side of the boat caught hold of him, and dragged him in, though he continued to shriek lustily, and struggle as if he was still in the water.
Poor Fanny gave a cry of alarm.
"He is all safe, young lady, and the cold bath will cool his anger, and won't do him any harm," observed Sandy. "But we will just pull off his wet clothes, and I will wrap him in my jacket."
Norman who soon regained his senses, and became quieter when he found himself safe in the boat again objected to this, but Sandy insisted on doing what he proposed, and in spite of his struggles, took off his wet things, and made him put on his jacket, which he fastened round his waist with a handkerchief.
Fanny who had recovered from her flight, could scarcely help laughing at the funny figure he presented, dressed in the coat with the sleeves turned half way back, so that he might have his hands free.
"You will keep quiet now, young gentleman, I hope, or you will be tumbling overboard again," said Sandy. "I don't know what the laird will say to you, when he hears how it happened."
Norman looked foolish, and made no reply.
Sandy had in the meantime picked up Fanny's hat, and he now spread Norman's clothes out on the seats that they might dry in the sun. Having done this, he pulled away as fast as he could towards the landing-place near the house.
As Norman's clothes were not nearly dry by the time they reached the shore, he packed them away in the basket, which was thus made useful, though in a different way to what Norman expected. Having secured the boat, and helped Fanny out, Sandy took Norman up in his arms and marched away with him to the house.
The laird saw them coming, and of course inquired what had happened.
Fanny would as usual, have tried to save her brother from being blamed, but Sandy told the whole story.
"You brought it upon yourself, by disobeying orders, Norman," observed Mr Maclean. "I will go in and tell your mamma and Mrs Leslie what has occurred, that they may not be alarmed, and the best thing you can do is to go to bed, and to stay there till your clothes are dried. You must not expect to go out in the boat again, as I see you cannot be trusted."
"It was all Fanny's fault, she had no business to make me angry," answered Norman; "it is very hard that I should be punished because of her."
The laird made no answer, but telling a maid-servant who appeared at the moment to carry Master Vallery upstairs and put him to bed, he entered the drawing-room where the ladies were sitting.
The laird took care not to alarm them when he described what had happened.
"Sandy did not tell you that I laughed at Norman, and that made him angry," said Fanny.
"He had no business to be angry, young lady," observed the laird. "Let me advise you, my dear Mrs Vallery, to allow him to remain in bed till he becomes more amiable. His tumble into the water may perhaps be an advantage to him, and teach him the consequences of giving way to his anger."
Mrs Vallery, however, though assured that no real harm had happened to her boy, could not refrain from running upstairs to see him.
Norman did not appear at all sensible that he had brought the accident upon himself, and declared that it was all Fanny's fault, and that he would not stop in bed.
Mrs Vallery at last yielded to his entreaties to be allowed to get up, and obtaining some fresh clothes, led him down to dinner, after he had promised that he would tell Mr Maclean he was sorry for having disobeyed his orders. Norman did so, though not with a very good grace, and he could not help feeling for the rest of the day that he was out of favour with the laird.
Mrs Leslie did not allude to the subject, for she hoped that his mamma had said all that was necessary, and Norman congratulated himself that he had got off more cheaply altogether than he had expected.
Poor Fanny was the chief sufferer, for she longed to say how delighted she was with the scenery, and yet she did not like, on account of her brother, to mention the subject. Norman, however, tried to look as unconcerned as possible, as if he had done nothing to be ashamed of.
Fanny, who wished very much to carry the presents to little Robby, and to see the old sailor again, begged the next morning that she might take Norman, as had been before arranged, with the little carriage.
"But I do not know if we can trust Norman," observed the laird; "he may be scampering off by himself across the moor, and give you a great deal of trouble to catch him."
"Oh! but I am sure Norman will behave well to-day," pleaded Fanny. "Won't you, Norman? You will promise Mr Maclean that you will do as he tells you."
"Of course I will," answered Norman. "Because I happen to do one day what you don't like, you fancy that I must always do what you think wrong."
"If you promise me that you will obey your sister, you shall have the carriage, as I hope that I may trust to your word."
Norman promised that he would do whatever Fanny told him.
"Will you cut me a whip, Mr Maclean?" he added, "I cannot drive a carriage without one."
"Pray let it be short then, the horse is not very far off, and a large one may tickle its shoulders and ears more than it likes," said Fanny, looking archly at Norman, showing that though she had forgiven him, she had not forgotten the way he had treated her on their former excursion.
The laird cut a short thin wand which could not do much harm in the hands of Norman, and kindly saw them off as before on the road.
The day was fine and bright, and the pure Highland air raised Fanny's spirits. She drew on the little carriage at a quick rate, singing merrily as she went. Norman felt unusually happy, he flourished his stick without attempting to beat Fanny, and shouted at the top of his voice. When the ground was rough, and the carriage bumped about, he held on to the sides with both his hands, but even that he thought very good fun. Quite regardless, however, of the exertion Fanny had to make on his account, he told her to go faster and faster.
"I like the bumping and tumbling. It puts me in mind of being at sea,— go on, go on," he shouted.
Fanny proceeded for some distance, and at last felt so tired, that she was obliged to stop.
"I must rest for a few minutes, Norman," she said, "for really it is very hard work going over this rough ground."
"Oh, nonsense! you are lazy, you see how I like it, and so you ought to keep going on, I cannot give you many minutes to rest," he replied.
"That's a good joke," said Fanny, "if you will drag the carriage and let me get into it, you will soon find that it is not so easy as you suppose to drag it over this ground."
"You are heavier than I am, so that would not be fair, and besides, you promised to draw me, and you say you always do what you promise."
"That is true," said Fanny; "I am much heavier than you are, and I have really no wish that you should draw me, but pray have patience, and I will go on again."
Norman got out of the carriage and ran about, he might just as well have gone on in front, and saved Fanny the trouble of dragging him so far; that, he did not think of.
At last Fanny proposed that he should get in again, and on they went. The ground was, however, still rougher than what they had passed over. Norman cried out to Fanny, who was going somewhat slower than at first, to move faster.
"I cannot, Norman; indeed I cannot," she answered.
"I shall run the risk of tumbling down, if I do."
"Then I'll make you," he shouted out.
As he could not reach her with his stick from where he sat, he jumped up to lean forward that he might do so. Just then the carriage gave a violent bump, and out he tumbled, falling on some hard stones. He shrieked out, fancying himself dreadfully hurt, and very angry at what had happened to him.
"You did it on purpose, I know you did," he exclaimed, as Fanny came to pick him up.
Fanny was a little alarmed at first, but she soon found that a slight bruise or two was all the harm he had received, so, after stopping a short time till he had ceased crying and complaining, she put him into the carriage again, and went on more carefully than before. Norman did not again insist on her moving faster, as he was occupied in feeling his elbows and shoulders and wondering whether he was much bruised.
Soon after crossing the stream, they came in sight of Alec Morrison's cottage. The ground was smooth near it, so Fanny was able to go on pretty fast, and Norman got into better humour, and shouted and sang as at first.
As they approached the cottage they saw Robby, who had heard their voices coming out to meet them. Poor little fellow, as he did not expect visitors, and the weather was hot, he had very few clothes on, but he did not think about that.
Fanny, stopping, made Norman get out of the carriage that she might take out the things which were placed under the seat.
"Here, Robby," she said, as the little boy came up, "we have brought you some nice fruit, and some cakes, and some picture-books, which Mrs Maclean gave us for you."
"Thank you, young lady, thank you," exclaimed Robby, receiving them with delight, as Fanny took them out of the carriage, while Norman stood by, feeling somewhat jealous that the little beggar boy, as he chose to think Robby, should have so many things given him.
"Is your grandfather at home?" asked Fanny. "I have been longing to come and see him, and to thank him for helping us on our way back the other day."
"No; I am keeping house alone, but grandfather will soon be back, so don't go away, please, till he comes," answered Robby, who was holding the things which Fanny had given him in his arms. "Won't you come in, young lady, and rest?"
"No, thank you, I would rather stay outside in the shade till your grandfather comes back," said Fanny, as she did not like to go into the old man's cottage without an invitation from him. "Do you, Robby, go in with the things, and put them away," she added, for she rather mistrusted Norman, who continued eyeing the little boy with no very kind looks.
Robby ran in with his treasures.
"Stupid little brat," observed Norman, "I wonder Mrs Maclean sent him all those things, I should have thought a piece of bread and cheese was quite enough for him."
"When we make presents we should try and give nice things, such as people who receive them will like," said Fanny. "Old Alec could give his grandson bread and cheese, but he probably would be unable to obtain the sort of things we have brought. I wish when I make a present to give something that I myself like."
"I do not understand anything about that," answered Norman, turning away, and flourishing his stick as he walked up and down.
Old Alec soon appeared, with a basket containing food for himself and Robby, which he had gone to the village to purchase.
"It does my heart good to see you and your brother," he exclaimed, as he came up.
"Grandfather!" cried Robby, "they have brought me all sorts of nice things—look here, look here!" and Robby led the old man into the cottage that he might exhibit the gifts he had received. "They would not come in themselves, but said they would wait till you returned. I think the young gentleman would like some of the fruit, for he looked at it when his sister gave it to me. Can I run out and offer it to him? Perhaps, though, he will be offended, for he looks very proud."
"Yes, Robby, go and give the young gentleman some fruit," said old Alec, who was at the time turning his eyes towards several cages which hung against the wall, with birds in most of them.
He first looked at one, and then at another and another. At last he selected one neater and prettier than the rest, containing a linnet.
"This will be the thing for the little damsel," he observed. "If it was made of gold it would not be too good for her."
Fanny and Norman had still remained outside seated on a bench in the shade. They did not observe Robby, who came back with some of the fruit, intending to bring it to them, but feeling somewhat shy of presenting it, he placed it in the carriage, where he thought they would soon see it.
The old man, going to a window which overlooked the spot where they were seated, called to Fanny.
"Here, my dear young lady; an old man such as I am has but few things which you would care for, but I shall be greatly pleased if you will accept this little bird and its cage. Hang it up in your room where it can enjoy sunlight and air, and if you feed it and give it water regularly, it will sing sweetly to you in the morning and at all times of the day."
"Oh, thank you! thank you! what a dear, sweet, little bird! There is nothing I shall like to have so much, and I hope mamma and granny will allow me to receive it."
Fanny was so delighted with the gift, that she felt she could not find words enough to thank old Alec for it.
"The gift is a very poor one, but I shall be just as much pleased as you are, if you will receive it," answered the old man, as he put the cage into Fanny's hands.
The bird did not seem at all startled or afraid of her, but hopped about from perch to perch, and uttered a few gentle notes, as if it was much pleased at having her for its future mistress.
"But I have kept you waiting a long time outside," said the old man. "You must come in for a few minutes to rest, before you begin your journey home; and I have got some sweet milk and a fresh bannock—a better one than I had to offer you the other day. You will go back all the merrier for a little food."
Fanny thought it would please the old man to accept his invitation, and perhaps too, she might be able to get him to tell her and Norman some of the adventures which the laird said he had gone through, so calling to Norman, and holding the cage in her hands, she went into the house.
THE SAILOR'S STORY.
Norman having done nothing to tire himself, thought he should like best to play outside the cottage instead of going in to rest. He followed his sister, therefore, in a discontented mood.
Old Alec begged Fanny to sit down in his arm-chair near the table, on which he placed the bird-cage, so that she could see it, and watch its little occupant hopping about, while it now and then uttered its sweet song. He offered a stool to Norman, who sat down with his hat on looking very grumpy and somewhat angry. Old Alec, however, did not appear to remark this, but busied himself in pouring out some cups of milk, which he brought to Fanny and him, and then offered them the bannock of which he had spoken.
"You see that Robby and I are not all alone," he observed, as he pointed round the room to the birdcages. "I like to listen to their talk more than I do to what many of my fellow-creatures say. It always seems to me that birds are praising God, when I hear them singing, and that is more than many people do, when they talk. But perhaps, young lady, you think it is cruel in me to keep them shut up, when they might be flying about in freedom amid the woods and over the moors; I think I should be cruel, if I took them after they had been accustomed to a free life, but every one of those birds has been brought up from a fledgling. I have never taken more than one or two from the same nest, and in truth have saved the lives of most of them which would otherwise have been killed by careless boys or cats or dogs, or shot by the farmers who think they rob them of their grain. Here they have air and sunlight and food and the company of their kind, and are safe from danger, and if I part with them, I know that they go into kind hands. But I must show you my oldest friend; I keep him in another room, as he is apt to talk too much, and my little songsters there don't understand him. I got him from foreign lands years ago, and he and I have never parted company."
"Oh, I should so like to see the bird," said Fanny. "Can we come and look at him?"
"I will bring him in here, young lady," answered old Alec, opening a door which led to an inner room.
He quickly returned with a bird on his wrist, and Fanny thought she had never seen one of more beautiful colours. Most of its plumage was of the richest scarlet, while the top of its head was of a deep purple. On its breast was a broad yellow collar; the wings were green, changing to violet towards the edges, and while the feathers on its thighs were of a lovely azure, those of the tail were scarlet, banded with black and tipped with yellow. Its beak which by its shape showed that the bird was a species of parrot, was of a deep rich yellow.
"I got this from the coast of New Guinea," said old Alec. "It is a very hot country, and I always keep my pet as warm as I can, for fear of its catching cold. I call it 'Lory with the purple cap.' Speak to the lady," said old Alec, stroking the head of the beautiful bird which walked up and down his arm for a minute, and then stopping and looking at Fanny, greatly to her delight said very clearly, "Good morning, pretty one."
The bird repeated the sentence two or three times, and then mounting to the top of its master's head cried out "Pipe all hands, hoist away boys, belay there!" Then as if satisfied with its nautical performance, descended to old Alec's hand, and sang two or three tunes very distinctly.
"Lory can say a great deal more than you have heard, but he is not always in the humour to talk, though he is an obedient bird, and generally does what I tell him. Ah, Miss Fanny, I am very fond of my Lory, he is as good as he is beautiful, yet in the land from which he comes, there are birds still more beautiful than he is, with long tails which glitter in the sun like jewels, and crests on their heads which I doubt if the crown of our queen can beat, and when their wings are spread out and they are flying through the air or dancing on the tips of the trees, they look as if they could scarcely belong to this earth. They are called Birds of Paradise. To my mind the name is a very proper one, though strange to say the people who live in the country where they are found, are as perfect savages as any in the world—black-skinned fellows with the hair of their heads frizzled out, and scarcely a rag of clothing on. I had once the misfortune to be wrecked on their shore, and it's a wonder to me that I got away with my life, for they generally kill all strangers who fall into their hands; yet savage as most of them are, they are not all alike.
"The ship I was on board, was sailing along the coast of New Guinea, when she was caught in one of the hurricanes which sometimes blow in those seas. Away she flew before the fierce winds, the waves hissing and leaping up on either side of her, and threatening to break on board and send her to the bottom. The captain did his best, and so did every man belonging to her, but after we had shortened sail, and sent down our loftier spars and secured the remaining ones, there was nothing more we could do. All we could hope for was that the hurricane would abate before we neared the shore.
"That night was indeed a terrible one, few of us ever expected to live through it.
"When daylight broke the shore was seen not a league off, with lofty mountains rising in the distance. Still the hurricane continued, the ship drove on, and no break could be discovered in the long line of wild surf which burst on the shore. As there were many coral reefs running along the whole coast, we expected every moment that the ship would strike, and we knew that the fierce waves which would dash against her would soon knock her to pieces.
"A boat could scarcely live in such a sea, still less get through the foaming surf. Most of the men however, had put on their best clothes and filled their pockets with whatever they most valued, hoping somehow or other to get safe to land. I thought to myself, it matters little what I have on, and I would not weight my pockets with what would send me to the bottom, so I continued in my trousers and shirt and jacket, intending to throw off the last should I have to swim for my life.
"The awful moment we were expecting came, and the ship with a tremendous crash, was sent right against a reef of coral rocks, which in an instant forced their way through her planking, and let the water rush in like a mill-stream. At the same moment down came all the three masts, while the sea swept over her, carrying away several of our poor fellows. We could do nothing to help them, for we could not help ourselves. Most of our boats were crushed by the falling masts. The captain ordered the only uninjured one to be lowered, I with a few others did our best to obey him, though there seemed no chance that a boat could live a minute in such a sea—it was, however, better to trust to her than stay on board the ship, against which the waves were dashing so furiously, that we expected her every moment to go to pieces, when we should all be cast into the foaming waters, with the pieces of wreck dashing around us, and coming down upon our heads.
"Another man and I were ordered into the boat to unhook the falls, as the tackle is called by which the boat is lowered. Just as we had got into her a tremendous sea came roaring up, and striking the ship, broke over her and the boat, and very nearly washed us out. A loud noise was heard of the crashing and rending of the timbers and planks, above which rose the cry of our shipmates. Three or four leaped into the boat after us, and we got her clear of the ship, which seemed suddenly to melt away. We had got our oars out, and now pulled away for our lives—how the boat escaped, and how she kept afloat in that tremendous sea seemed a wonder then as it does now. We had four oars, and the first mate, who was saved, took the helm. To return to the wreck to try and save any of our drowning shipmates was impossible, and it seemed equally impossible that we should reach the shore through the boiling surf we saw before us. Closer and closer we were borne to it—when just as we had given up all hope of saving our lives, the mate declared that he had discovered an opening through which we might pass. He steered towards it, the surf rose like a wall on either side, but there was a narrow passage where the water was smoother. We pulled with all our might, and in a few minutes found ourselves in the mouth of a river. After rowing a short distance, we were in perfectly smooth water. The river which widened out greatly was bordered on either side by curious-looking trees, which seemed to have branches growing downwards as well as upwards, with the stem between them. These are what are called Mangrove trees.
"On we rowed, but could find no place where we could land. At last we came to the mouth of a smaller river which ran into the larger one. After going some way, we saw an open space on the shore covered with what looked in the distance like a number of bee-hives standing on posts several feet above the ground. On getting nearer, we discovered that they were houses, and that a number of ugly black-looking fellows were moving about among them. As they saw us they gathered on the bank, flourishing their bows and spears, showing, as we feared, that they would very likely kill us if they got us into their power. Some of our people proposed pulling back, but where were we to go to? We were faint from hunger and thirst, we had not seen a spot where we could land to obtain food, and we had the raging sea barring the mouth of the river. We were caught in a trap, we had no arms to defend ourselves with, and our only chance, therefore, was to make friends with the savages.
"'Come lads,' said the mate, 'we will try what we can do—they may not be as bad as they look.'
"He stood up in the boat, and spread out his hands wide to show that we had no arms, then he stretched out one hand as if to shake those of the black people, then he took off his hat, and waved it and bowed to them, indeed he did everything he could think of, to show them that we wanted to be friendly.
"While he was doing this, I and another man, feeling our tongues parched with thirst, could not help leaning over the side of the boat to take up some water in our hands, for even though we supposed that it was salt, it would at all events moisten our lips. It was less salt than we expected, and soon all of us, as well as the mate, was lapping away at the water, while, to cool our heads, we threw some of it over them. What was our surprise, while we were so employed, to see the natives stoop down and sprinkle their own heads with water, in the same fashion. Having done this, they placed their bows and spears on the ground, and beckoned us by signs which we could not mistake to approach.
"'We must chance it, lads,' said the mate, 'it is better to be killed outright by the blacks, than die by inches from hunger and thirst. I am ready to step on shore first, and you may shove off, and wait till you see what becomes of me.'
"'I will go with you, sir,' I exclaimed, 'and share whatever fate befalls you.'
"All, on this, agreed to do the same.
"Giving way again, we were soon close up to where the savages stood. We all jumped out except one man, who remained to take care of the boat, and stepped boldly in among the blacks, putting out our hands to show that we wished to be friends. They seemed to understand what we meant, and several of their chief men shook our hands in return; when we made signs that we were hungry and thirsty, four or five of them ran off, and quickly returned with some water in calabashes, and some baskets with cooked meat and yams. The people seemed to live in plenty, for we saw a number of funny little pigs running about, and two or three girls carrying them in their arms and talking to them, and caressing them, just as an English girl does her doll. We were too hungry, however, just then to think of that, or anything else, and sitting down on the grass, fell to on the provisions the blacks had brought us. The food soon restored our spirits, and we began to hope that things would not be as bad as we expected. Still, we could not help thinking of our poor shipmates who had remained on the wreck, and whom we felt sure must all have been drowned. The people too, seemed not so ill-looking, and much more good-natured, than we had at first thought.
"Their hair was frizzled out, and they had earrings and necklaces, but very little clothing, except a petticoat of long grass or leaves round the waist. They were not black either, but rather a dark chocolate colour, with broad long noses, with the tips hooking down almost over the upper lip.
"Their houses are curious. First they were built on posts, on the top of which the flooring was placed. On each post below the flooring was a large flat disc, this was to prevent the snakes and rats from getting into the houses. Above the flooring, after the poles had risen some distance, they were bent over and covered thickly with grass or cocoanut leaves. Some were small, and others as much as twenty feet long and twelve feet wide. They had no doors, but were entered by a trap through the flooring.
"As there are numerous snakes in the country, the steps or ladder by which the trap is reached does not go up to it, but only rises from the ground for a sufficient height to enable a person to lift himself in by his elbows. The upper part of this curious ladder consists merely of a polo resting on two forked sticks, and a plank with one end leaning on it and the other on the ground. When a person wants to get into his house he runs up the plank, and is then high enough to reach the entrance of the trap.
"I told you how we happened to throw water on our heads, and then saw the natives doing the same. This we afterwards found was the very sign they use to show that they wish to be on good terms; and so it happened, that without knowing it we did the right thing, and at once gained their friendship.
"They treated us very kindly, and though they had no notion of working for us, they showed us how to build a house for ourselves after their fashion.
"We hauled up our boat and thatched her over, to keep her from the sun, for we, of course, hoped to escape in her when we had collected enough provisions for a voyage. The natives, however, had no intention of letting us go, for they believed that we benefited them by living among them. Though they did not treat us as slaves, they made us, as I have said, work for our livelihood. It was not hard work, but the sun was very hot, and we, all of us, often felt ill, and unable to do anything, but lie down in the shade in our houses.
"First one of my companions died, and then another, and another, till the mate and I alone remained. We buried the poor fellows, and felt very sad when we put the last into the ground. We could not help thinking that one of us would go next, but which it would be, we could not tell. I daresay the mate looked at my sallow face and thought I should die first, and as I looked at his, I fancied he had not many weeks to live.
"We had got ground under cultivation, and as we had now only two to eat its produce, and the natives had given us some pigs, we had plenty of provisions. If we had had salt, we should have killed some of our pigs and salted them down, but though we were near salt water, there were no rocks, or any flat place where we could manufacture salt.
"Day after day we talked about getting away, and indeed, it was the only subject we could talk of. We had no sail in the boat, so the first thing we had to do was to make one. The natives, like most of the people in those parts, manufactured fine mats; these would answer for what we wanted, but the difficulty was to get them. We could now make ourselves understood, so under the pretence that we wanted them for bedding, we obtained several in exchange for most of our pigs, and yams, and other produce of our garden.
"We tried drying some of the pigs' flesh in the sun, but that did not answer, we next tried smoking it, but it was very dry, and tasted strongly of the smoke; still, we hoped that it would last us till we could get to one of the Dutch settlements. The mate warned me that even should we get away, we should have many dangers to encounter, from tempests, and from pirates, which cruise with large fleets in those seas, and from having no chart or compass, with which to find our way.
"As we had much idle time, I amused myself by collecting birds, of which there are a great number in the country; birds of paradise, and parrots of many colours, and among them a big black parrot, a magnificent fellow, and others, even more beautiful than my pet, Lory, which I got at that time. Our house was like an aviary, and the mate, though he did not know how to tame them himself, liked to see me do so.
"At last we found our friends were setting out to make war on another tribe. They wanted us to go with them, but we told them we were too ill to march, and so we were, and I do not think we could have walked half-a-mile.
"They were all very busy in preparing their bows and arrows and spears and clubs, and allowed us to do as we liked. We took the opportunity of examining our boat, and patching her up. As we knew she would leak, we brought water from the river and dashed it over her as often as we could, and then we smoothed the way down the bank, so that we might launch her, for though when all the crew were alive we had strength to haul her up, we should never otherwise by ourselves have got her into the water. We also killed another pig, and smoked the flesh, and collected a quantity of yams and other roots and fruits in our house.
"Our friends at last set out to fight their enemies, leaving only very old men and some of the women and children behind.
"We had sewn our mats together to form a sail, and the mate cut a long spar for a mast.
"The night was fine, and we hoped that we should get out of the river without danger from the breakers. We waited till everybody in the village was asleep, and then stole down to the boat, carrying our sail and spar and provisions. We had to make several trips, but at last we had collected everything, and as silently as we could we got the boat into the water. The last time I brought down my Lory and three other birds. I was afraid, however, that they would scream out, but still I could not bring myself to leave them all behind.
"We shoved off, and managed to drop slowly down the stream without making any noise. As soon as we got out of hearing of the village we began to row faster, though we had but little strength to use our oars. Our great wish was to be out of the river, and at a distance from the shore before daylight, lest any of the natives in their canoes might fall in with us. We rowed as hard as we could, till our oars were nearly dropping from our hands. After a long pull we got near the mouth of the river—the land breeze was blowing out of it. We hoisted our mat sail, and now glided on more rapidly than before. I do not think we could have rowed another ten minutes. The surf was breaking on the shore, but we passed safely through the passage.
"How thankful we felt when we found ourselves at last in the open sea. A line of white foam showed us where the reef was on which our ship had struck, but not a vestige of her remained.
"The mate judged it best to steer to the southward, but we had no chart and no compass, and had to trust to the sun by day and the stars by night. The mate knew them well, but I began to fear that he would not be long with me, for the exertions he had made had been too much for him. By the time morning had dawned he was unable to sit up. As long as he could he steered the boat, while I baled, for, notwithstanding the care we had taken, she still leaked very much. I looked anxiously at my companion every time I lifted up my head, still he kept his eye on the rising sun, which in a deep red glow appeared above the horizon. Then he gazed up at the sail, and then ahead. Gradually his hand let go of the tiller, his head fell down on his chest. I sprang aft, when, to my grief and dismay, I found that the poor fellow was dead.
"I had now not only to steer the boat, but to bale her. How could I hope by myself to reach any friendly shore? I began to be sorry that we had left the native village, the people were at all events kind to us, and some day or other traders might have come to the place and taken us off. It was too late now, though, to think of this. I could not have gone back even if I had wished it, for the wind was against me, and I had not strength to use the oars. I looked at the poor mate, and tried to pour some water down his throat, but it was of no use, he was really dead. For some time I had not the heart to throw him overboard, but I knew that it must be done, and at last I managed to accomplish the sad act.
"I was now all alone in the boat. As the sun rose the wind fell, and it became perfectly calm. As the sail was of no use, I lowered it. Still I had to bail, for the water continued to leak through the seams. The hot sun came down on my head and nearly roasted me. Fortunately I had manufactured a straw hat, with a thick top, this very one you see me wear, it assisted to save my head, and I value it as a friend which has done me service.
"Well, I must cut my yarn short. Day after day I sailed on. When it was calm I hauled down my sail and went to sleep, for the leaks in the boat lessened by degrees, and at last I was saved the trouble of baling. I began, however, to think that I should never get to land. The meat we had brought turned so bad that I could not eat it, the roots and fruits lasted me better, and assisted to feed the birds, but they were also coming to an end. Without them I knew that I could not preserve my birds, so very unwillingly, I killed my big black parrot. I had no means of lighting a fire, so I had to eat the bird raw; but a hungry man is not particular.
"I should have said that we had stowed our water in a number of gourds, but I had already emptied most of them, and I dreaded the time when my stock would come to an end, for I knew that without it, I could not live many days. Under the burning sun of that region, water is the chief necessary of life, my birds too, required as much as I did. I anxiously looked out for land. I made but slow progress, for the weather was unusually calm, and sometimes the wind was contrary. Thus, I could not tell how long it might be before I could reach a friendly harbour. I had to kill another and another of my birds, till at last only my pretty Lory remained. He was so tame that he would come and sit on my shoulder while I was steering, and put his beak into my mouth, and talk to me. He was my only companion you see, and I fancied he could understand what I said, and I was sure he was very fond of me. I would rather have done anything than kill him, still I was getting very faint and weak, and I could scarcely crawl from the stern to the mast to lower the sail when I wanted to get to sleep. At last I had but a pint of water remaining and only a yam or two. I steered on as long as I could, when I felt my head bending down to my breast. I knew that I could not keep awake many minutes longer, so I lowered my sail and lay down to go to sleep. I felt that it was very likely I should never wake again, or if I did that it would be only to lie down and die. Evening was coming on, I suffered generally less at night than in the day-time, because it was cooler. I slept on and on; I was completely exhausted. At length, I was awoke by Lory putting his beak into my mouth; I opened my eyes. The sun had already risen, and a fresh breeze was blowing. I dragged myself to the mast, and hoisted the sail, and then made my way to my seat aft. I had scarcely got there, when I saw nearly ahead, a large vessel crossing my course. I eagerly steered towards her; I hoped and prayed that I might be seen by those on board, and my heart beat with anxiety lest I should not be observed. Every moment I drew nearer and nearer, but still I knew that when she got the breeze, she would rapidly sail away from me. In my eagerness, I tried to shout, but my voice sounded weak and hollow. My heart bounded with joy, when I saw the ship's course brailed up, and she hove to, showing that I was seen. I was soon alongside, but I was too weak to do more than just lower my sail, and sink into the bottom of the boat, just as a couple of seamen from the stranger jumped into her. I was scarcely conscious of what else happened. When I came to myself, I found Lory perched on my hammock looking at me, and I was told that I was on board the Ringdove, and that after she had touched at a few of the East India Islands, she was homeward bound. I was treated very kindly till I got well, and then as I had no wish to be idle, I told the captain I was ready to work with the crew.
"We had several passengers on board, and one of them who was a naturalist, and had been out to these regions to collect birds and creatures of all sorts, offered to buy Lory, but though he was ready to give a large sum, I would not part with my friend. Lory came safely home with me, for I took great care of him, and when we got into northern latitudes, I kept him always out of the cold and damp.
"So, Miss Fanny, you have the history of my pet."
"Oh, how I wish you had been able to bring the other birds home," said Fanny. "I should so like to have seen them."
"Well, Miss, I tell you it went against my heart to kill them, but when a man is suffering from hunger, his nature seems changed, but I often used to think afterwards, how I could have killed the pretty creatures."
"I am very much obliged to you, for the account you have given me, and I should like another day to hear as many more of your adventures as you can tell me, for I daresay that is not the only one you have met with."
"No, indeed, Miss Fanny, I could tell you many more, and will try and recollect them for you when next you come."
Norman had been almost as much interested as his sister in the old sailor's story, wondering in what part of the world the adventures took place, for although, as he boasted, he had come all the way from India, he had a very slight knowledge of geography.
Rob by had all the time been outside playing with the little carriage, and thinking how nice it would be if he could have one like it to drag to market with his grandfather, and bring back the things they bought.
Just as old Alec had finished his story, a stranger arrived. He was a drover, who went round the country to purchase the cottagers' cattle, picking up here one and there one, or taking a hundred at a time from the more wealthy proprietors.
"I am somewhat in a hurry," he said, "but if you have any beasts to dispose of, I daresay that I shall be able to offer you a price you will be ready to take."
As old Alec could not detain the drover, he begged Fanny and her brother to wait till his return that he might accompany them part of the way home.
While he and the drover went out to look at the cattle, Fanny took up her bird with its cage, and thought how much it would like to enjoy the fresh air and sunlight.
"I am not going to stay here any longer," said Norman, and he ran out to join little Robby in playing with the carriage.
Fanny followed with the bird-cage, and seeing the two boys amusing themselves, went on talking to the bird, which as she thought whistled to her in return.
"What are you doing with my cart?" exclaimed Norman, turning to Robby.
He was not in a good humour, he considered that old Alec ought to have given a bird to him as well as to Fanny, and was inclined to vent his ill-feeling on poor little Robby. Robby, who did not understand that he was angry, without replying, taking out the two apples which he had put back into the carriage, held them up to Norman wishing to offer them to him.
"Where did you get those from?" exclaimed Norman.
"I thought you would like to have them, young master," said Robby, "I brought them back for you."
Norman instead of saying that he was much obliged, not wishing at the moment to eat any fruit and feeling very angry, knocked them out of the little boy's hands.
Robby was too much astonished even to offer to pick them up as they lay on the ground.
"I am tired of waiting for that old man," said Norman, taking the pole of the carriage; "Fanny come along."
Fanny was too much occupied with her bird to hear him, and Norman began to drag off the carriage.
Robby thinking that he had no business to run off with it, on the impulse of the moment seized the hinder part of it, and attempted to stop him.
"Please don't go away, young master, till grandfather comes back," he said, "he wants to go with you. Miss Fanny, O Miss Fanny, won't you tell your brother to stop?"
"Let go the carriage," cried Norman, now more angry than ever, especially at finding that though Robby was so little, his sturdy arms and legs were able to prevent him from drawing on the carriage. "If you do not let go, I will give you such a box on the ears, as you never before have had in your life."
Little Robby, who had a spirit of his own, was not to be daunted by the threats of Master Norman.
Fanny had by this time got to some distance, or she would have heard what her brother was saying and have interfered.
Norman again cried out and threatened Robby, but still the little fellow held on tightly, while he pulled back. Norman tugged and tugged in vain to get on. At last he stopped pulling, and threatened to beat Robby well if he would not let go. Robby looked up at him, and shook his head. Norman at that moment turning round gave a sudden tug at the pole, and started off at full speed. The jerk had the effect of making poor little Robby lose his hold, and back he fell with his legs in the air, and his hands stretched out, while Norman scampered on, turning his head round to laugh at him maliciously.
"I told you you had better not!" he shouted. "Now you have got your desert, you will not attempt to play tricks with me again, you young monkey! ah! ah! ah!" and he laughed and jeered at poor little Robby.
"Come along, Fanny," he cried out, "I am not going to stop longer for the old man."
Fanny though she heard his voice did not understand what he said, and still thought that he and Robby were playing amicably together. She went on talking to her bird which at that moment was to her of more importance than anything else.
Norman, not looking to see whether she was coming, scampered off, dragging the carriage behind him, and believing that he knew the way as well as she did.
Robby soon got up, and felt more vexed at the way he had been treated by the young master, than hurt by his tumble. Fanny had gone round into the garden, where she sat down on a bench in the shade, and planed her bird by her side, quite unaware of what had happened. The bird, which was unusually tame, seemed from the first to understand that she was to be its future mistress. It came at once to the bars of the cage, and put out its beak to receive the seed with which old Alec had provided her, that she might feed it. She would have liked to have taken it out of its cage that it might perch on her fingers, but she thought that would not be wise, in case it might take it into its head to fly off for an excursion, and perhaps not be willing to return to captivity.
"I wonder what name I shall give you," she said, talking to the bird. "Old Alec did not tell me if you have got one. Shall I call you Dickey, Flapsey, or Pecksy? I must have a name for you. Perhaps granny will help me to find one. What name would you like to be called by, pretty bird? I wonder what are the names of birds; I know that parrots are called Poll and Pretty Poll, and jackdaws and magpies Jack and Mag, but such names would not do for you. I want something that sounds soft and pretty just like yourself." Thus she ran on, and the time went by till at last old Alec returned to the cottage, and not finding her there, came into the garden to look for her.
"Why, Miss Fanny, what has become of your little brother?" he inquired.
"Is not he playing with Robby on the other side of the house?" asked Fanny, somewhat astonished.
"I can neither see him nor Robby," answered old Alec. He shouted out, "Robby! Robby!" but received no answer.
"It seems very strange," said Fanny; "I heard them playing happily together not long ago."
At last old Alec went round the house and again shouted. A faint cry came from a distance, and he saw Robby running towards him.
"What is the matter?" asked old Alec, as soon as Robby got up to him.
"The young master went off with the carriage, and I ran after him to call him back, and instead of going towards home, he has taken the way to the peat bog. I called to him to stop, but he only went faster, and so I came back to get you, grandfather, to follow him, for if he once tumbled in I could not help him out again."
"You are a wise boy, Robby," answered his grandfather. "Miss Fanny, if you will stay here I will go and look after the young gentleman, for if he tumbles into the bog he will not get out again without help. There is no danger, only we must not lose time."
Saying this, old Alec hurried off in the direction from which Robby had appeared.
Fanny for a moment forgot all about her bird which she had put down in its cage on the window-sill, and ran after old Alec. He strode on at a rapid rate, so that she had a difficulty in overtaking him. After some time she heard him shouting, "Stop, boy, stop!" and saw him waving with his hand.
Again he went on even more eagerly than before.
Fanny, who had just then reached a rise in the ground, caught sight of Norman, some way off in the hollow below her, floundering about and holding on to the cart, towards which Alec, yet at a little distance, was making his way. The old man had to do so cautiously, for as the ground was very soft, he sank at each step he made above his ankles; but Norman, being much lighter, had passed over places which would not bear his weight.
As she got near she heard Norman crying lustily for help, and she began to fear that before old Alec could reach him, he might sink below the soft yielding earth. Just then she heard a shout behind her, and, looking round, she observed little Robby approaching with a long thin pole on his shoulder. He was quickly up with her.
"Don't go farther, Miss," he said, "you will be sticking in the bog, too, if you do; we will soon get out the young master."
Robby quickly joined his grandfather, and by placing the long pole on the top of the hog, Robby was able to make his way over the peat with a rope.
"Here, young master!" he exclaimed, "catch hold of the pole and crawl along it as I do, and you will soon be out of the bog."
Norman, though at first too much frightened to do anything but shout and struggle, at last comprehended what Robby said, and following his advice, crawled along the pole. He soon got on firmer ground.
Robby then went back and fastened the rope to the carriage, which old Alec was thus able without much difficulty to drag out of the bog.
Fanny soon recovered from her alarm.
"What made you run there?" she asked, as Norman, wet and muddy, came up to her, looking very foolish and very angry too.
"It was all your fault," he answered; "I wanted to go home, and I told you that I did not want to wait for the old man, or to play any more with the stupid little boy, and if you had come when I called you, I should not have got into this mess."
"If it had not been for the old man and the little boy you would have been suffocated in the bog," answered Fanny; "you ought to be very grateful to them for saving you, and see what trouble they are taking to get the carriage out."
"I won't be lectured by you," answered Norman, "and I will go home as soon as I can get the carriage. The old man will be scolding me if I stop here, because I upset his little grandson, and I do not choose to submit to that."
"Nonsense, you foolish boy," answered Fanny, "if you remain in your wet clothes you will catch cold, and mamma and granny will be much more angry with you than old Alec is likely to be."
"I daresay they will if you go and tell them that I ran away from you, and you always take pleasure in getting me into scrapes."
"O Norman, how can you say that?" exclaimed Fanny, "you know I am always anxious to prevent you from being punished. Here come old Alec and Robby with the carriage. I hope that you will thank them for pulling you out of the bog, and that you will go in (should old Alec ask you) to get your clothes dried before we set off. I am very thankful you have escaped, but I am afraid we shall not be allowed to come again by ourselves over the moor to visit the cottage. The first time I tumbled down and wetted my clothes, and now you are in a worse plight, for your clothes are all muddy and spoilt, and you might have lost your life if old Alec had not come to help you."
This Norman would not acknowledge, but declared that he could have got out very well by himself. Notwithstanding what Fanny had said, he still insisted on returning home at once.
"Oh no, you must come back and have your clothes dried, as Mr Morrison wishes you," she said.
"As you, Miss Fanny, think that your brother ought to go back, there is a very easy way of settling the matter," said Alec; and before Norman know what was going to happen, the old man tucked him under his arm and carried him along as a farmer sometimes carries a refractory pig, while Robby followed with the carriage. In vain Norman shrugged and grumbled, and squeaked out.
Alec soon had him seated on the bench before his kitchen fire, which he made blaze merrily up. He then quickly took off his clothes, and wrapped him up in a clean shirt, and his Sunday coat.
"The clothes won't take long drying, young gentleman, and you must have patience till they are dry," he observed; "the shoes, however, will be somewhat tight, even if they are at all fit to be put on again, but that won't matter, as you can sit in the carriage while I drag you."
Norman now sat quietly, for he hoped that if his clothes were clean, no one at home would hear of his misconduct.
"You will not go and tell them that I ran away, will you Fanny?" he asked, looking round at her as she sat near the table with her bird.
"I cannot make any promise," she answered; "I am, however, very sure that you ought to tell them how Mr Morrison and little Robby pulled you out of the bog."
"I would not wish the young gentleman to say anything to get himself into trouble, but at the same time, I would wish him to speak the truth, whatever happens," observed old Alec.
Norman did not reply to her, but muttered to himself, "she cares more for her bird than she does for me, but I will take care she has not much pleasure from it."
Fanny did not overhear this, and had no idea that her new little friend was in danger from the jealousy of her brother.
As it was already late, as soon as Norman's clothes were dried old Alec put them on him again, with Fanny's assistance, and little Robby having in the meantime washed the carriage, they were ready to start. Robby, as before, had to take care of the house while old Alec insisted on accompanying his young visitors.
"You know, Miss Fanny, you must carry the bird, and we shall be able to get over the ground faster if I drag the carriage."
Fanny was very glad to agree to this arrangement, for as Norman was in a bad humour she could not tell how he might behave to her, but she knew that he would be quiet if old Alec was with her. They accordingly set off, Robby giving them a parting cheer. They went on pretty fast, Norman having to hold himself into the carriage as it bumped and thumped over the rough ground.
As Fanny had to carry the bird-cage, Alec went the whole way to the yard at the back of Glen Tulloch. Norman scarcely thanking him, jumped out, and ran into the house.
"Oh! do stop, Mr Morrison, till my mamma, and granny, and Mrs Maclean can see you," said Fanny, "they will wish to thank you, as I do, and as Norman was much frightened, I hope that they will not think it necessary to punish him."
"But I did nothing worth speaking of," answered old Alec, "and so just give my respects to the ladies, and tell them that I would have been happy to have had a talk with them if they had wished, but I must go back to look after my little boy, for I never like to be away from him longer than I can help. Bless you, young lady! it does my heart good to see you, so pray come and pay me a visit whenever you can."
The old man hurried away, and Fanny ran in to show her bird, hoping that no questions would be asked her about Norman's behaviour till she had persuaded him, as she wished to do, to tell his own story, so that old Alec and Robby might be properly thanked for the service they had rendered him.
THE PET BIRD.
"O mamma! granny! Mrs Maclean! see what a beautiful bird old Alec has given me!" exclaimed Fanny, as she ran into the drawing-room, and went round exhibiting the little prisoner, first to one and then to the other. "He has been so kind too, he showed us all his other birds, and gave us such an interesting account of the way he got one of them, but I would rather have this one than all the others."
The bird was duly admired.
"Where is Norman?" asked Mrs Vallery.
"He ran into the house before me, I suppose he will soon be here."
Norman, however, did not come immediately, and at last Mrs Vallery went to look for him. She found him in his room rubbing away at his clothes.
"What has happened?" she asked; "why did you not come into the drawing-room at once?"
"I tumbled down in the mud and dirtied my clothes, so I wanted to clean them," answered Norman, and he said no more.
"That was awkward of you, but as they appear dry, you might have come in to see us all as soon as you returned," observed Mrs Vallery; "how did you manage to tumble down?"
"That stupid little brat Robby ran after me, and Fanny would not come home. I can take very good care of myself, and so I don't want her to go out with me any more."
"I am afraid, Norman, you were not behaving well. I must learn from Fanny what occurred," said Mrs Vallery. "I will assist you to change your clothes; these are certainly not fit to appear in at dinner."
Norman was very taciturn while his mamma was dressing him. As soon as she had done so she led him downstairs.
To his grandmother's questions he made no reply, and she consequently guessed that something had gone wrong. When Fanny who had gone upstairs to dress, returned, Mrs Vallery inquired how Norman had managed to tumble into the mud.
"I wish to have the whole account from you, Fanny, for his is not very clear," she observed. "He says that little Robby ran after him."
"Oh, how can you say that?" exclaimed Fanny indignantly. "If it had not been for little Robby you know perfectly well that you might have lost your life;" and then without hesitation she gave the exact account of what had occurred.
"I am deeply grieved to find that instead of expressing your gratitude to the little fellow, you should have wished to throw blame upon him," said Mrs Leslie, looking very grave as she spoke; "you were wrong in running away without your sister, but that fault might easily have been overlooked. I feel ashamed of acknowledging you as my grandson in the presence of my old friend here, and I grieve that they should find you capable of acting so base a part."
Norman could say nothing in his defence. He did not like being scolded by his grandmamma as he called it, but still he did not see his behaviour in its proper light, and instead of being sorry, he felt only vexed and angry and more than ever disposed to vent his ill-feeling on Fanny.
His poor mamma was very unhappy, but she did not know what to say to him more than what his grandmamma had already said.
"I will talk to him in his room by-and-by, and point out to him the sin he has committed," she observed to Mrs Leslie.
The laird soon after came in, and the party went to dinner. He saw that something was wrong, but refrained from asking questions.
Norman ate his dinner in silence, and no one felt disposed to speak to him. He did not like this, and it made him feel more and more angry with Fanny.
"Why should she say all that about me! why could not she let my story be believed! It could not have done that little brat any harm, if they had thought I tumbled down because he ran after me. He did, he did run after me, for I saw him. But I am determined that Fanny shall not tell tales about me; I will punish her in a way she does not think of. She will grow very fond of that stupid little bird, but I will take care that she does not keep it very long. Perhaps some day the door of the cage will be open, and it will fly away. Ah! ah! Miss Fanny, I am not going to let you tell tales of me."
Such were the thoughts which passed through the mind of the little boy. He had never been taught to restrain his evil feelings, and to seek for help from God's Holy Spirit to put them away immediately they came to him. Instead of doing that, he allowed them to remain and to grow and grow, and a bad thought, however small it may appear at first, must always grow till it becomes so great, that it makes a slave of the person who allows it to spring up within him.
Poor Fanny had no idea of the harm which her brother was meditating against her and her bird, nor indeed had any one else at table. After dinner, the whole party went into the grounds. The kind-hearted laird was sorry to see Norman looking so dull.
"He is a manly little fellow, and ought to have boy companions. I will do what I can to amuse him," he thought. "Come along, Norman, with me, and we will try to find something to do." The laird kindly took him by the hand, and led him along.
"When I am old enough, papa promises to give me a gun, that I may go out and shoot tigers," said Norman. "Have you got any tigers here?"
"No, I am glad to say we have not. We should find them very troublesome, as they would commit great havoc among our sheep and cattle, and perhaps carry off the little boys and girls on their way to school as well as grown-up people."
"We have plenty of tigers in India, and I think it a much finer country than England on that account," remarked Norman in a contemptuous tone.
Mr Maclean laughed and replied—
"There were once wolves in the wilder parts of the country, but they have long since been killed, because they did so much mischief. The only large animals which now remain in a wild state, are deer, and they belong to the proprietors of the land, so that those alone to whom they give permission may shoot them."
"But have you not got some deer?" asked Norman, "I should so like to see you shoot one."
"My days for deer-stalking are over," answered the laird. "There are a few on my estate, but I do not allow them to be shot. They are beautiful creatures, and I like to see them bounding across the hills and moors, and enjoying the existence God has given them."
"I should like to shoot one though," said Norman, giving his head a shake in an independent way. "Won't you lend me your gun."
"A gun would tumble you over oftener than you could bring down a deer, laddie," answered the laird, laughing heartily. "As you are so determined to be a sportsman you shall come with me on the loch this evening, and we will try and catch some fish, only you must promise me not to fall overboard again."
"I will take good care not to do that; I did not like it the last time," said Norman.
"I suspect that what the boy wants is careful training to turn out better than he promises to do at present," thought the laird. "He has been allowed to do what he chooses, and has not been shown by the argument of the rod, as Solomon advises, when he has chosen to do wrong. I wish his father would let me take him in hand for a few months, I think something might be made of him."
"Come along, laddie," said the honest laird aloud, "we will get my fishing-tackle, but we will not carry a big basket this time. I will show you how to string up your fish to carry them home without one."
The laird was quickly equipped, for his fishing-tackle was always kept in readiness for use, and Norman being allowed the honour of carrying his landing-net, they took their way down to the loch. The laird told Norman to jump into the boat, and lifting the grapnel which held her to the bank, he stepped in after him, then taking the oars he pulled away up the loch.
"What! can you row?" exclaimed Norman. "I thought only sailors and boatmen could do that."
"You have a good many things to learn, laddie. I could pull an oar when I was no bigger than you are. It is what every English boy ought to be able to do, and I will teach you if you try to behave yourself properly."
"I should like to learn; can you teach me now?" asked Norman.
"I cannot teach you and fish at the same time," said the laird. "Besides these oars are too heavy for you, but I will get a small one made that you can handle. Remember, however, that I make the promise only on condition that you are a good boy, and try to please not only me but everybody else."
"I will try," said Norman, but still he did not forget his evil intentions against Fanny and her bird.
People often promise that they will be good, but they must have an honest desire to be so, and must seek for help from whence alone they can obtain it, in order to enable them to keep their promise. Norman had never even tried to be good, but had always followed his own inclinations, regardless of the pain or annoyance he inflicted on even those who were most kind to him. He could appear very amiable when he was pleased, and had everything his own way, but that is not sufficient. A person should be amiable when opposed, and even when hardly treated should return good for evil.
He sat in the boat talking away very pleasantly to Mr Maclean, who began to think that he was a much nicer boy than he had supposed, and felt very glad that he had brought him out with him that evening.
The laird rowed on for some distance, till he came to the spot where he proposed fishing. He then put his rod together, and told Norman to watch what he did, that he might imitate him as soon as he had a rod of his own.
"I must get a nice light one which you can handle properly," observed the laird kindly.
"Oh, but I think I could hold yours, it does not seem very heavy," said Norman.
"You might hold it upright, but you could not move it about as I do, and certainly you could not throw a fly with it," answered Mr Maclean. "However, I like to see a boy try to do a thing. It is only by trying that a person can succeed. But trying alone will not do, a person must learn his alphabet before he can read; unless he did so, he might try very hard to read, and would not succeed. In the same way you must learn the a, b, c of every handicraft, and art, and branch of knowledge, before you can hope to understand or accomplish the work. The a, b, c of fly-fishing is to handle your rod and line, and I must see you do that well, before I let you use a hook, with which you would otherwise only injure yourself or any one else in the boat."
"But I should feel so foolish throwing a line backwards and forwards over the water," answered Norman, "I should not like that."
"You would be much more foolish throwing it backwards and forwards and not catching anything," remarked the laird. "Will you follow my advice or not? I want your answer."
"I will do as you wish me," said Norman, after some hesitation.
"Then I will teach you how to become a fly-fisher, and perhaps another year when you pay me a visit, you will be able to catch as many fish as I am likely to do this evening."
The good laird had now got his tackle in order, and applied himself to the sport, telling Norman to sit quiet in the stern. Norman watched him eagerly.
"I cannot see what difficulty there is," he said to himself. "I think in ten minutes or so I should be able to make the fly leap about over the water just as well as he does. Ah! he has caught a fish, I should like to do that! I must try as soon as he will let me have a rod."
The laird quickly lifted the trout into the boat, and in half-an-hour caught five or six more.
It was now growing dusk, and observing that the fish would no longer rise, he wound up his line, and again took to his oars. They soon reached the shore. Norman begged that he might be allowed to carry the fish, which the laird had strung through the gills with a piece of osier which he cut from the bank.
Norman felt very proud as he walked away with the fish, persuading himself that he had had some part in catching them. They were, however, rather heavy, and before he reached the house his arms began to ache. He felt ashamed of acknowledging this, but continued changing them from hand to hand. The laird observed him, and with a smile, asked if he should take them. Norman was very glad to accept his offer.
"You will find playing a fly much harder work than carrying the fish you catch with it, young gentleman," he remarked.
Before entering the house, Norman begged that he might have the fish again, to show them to the ladies in the drawing-room. He rushed in eagerly holding them up.
"See mamma! see Mrs Maclean! see granny! what fine fish the laird and I have caught," he exclaimed.
"I congratulate you, my dear," said his grandmamma, "which of them did you catch?"
"Oh, the laird hooked them, and I sat in the boat, and brought them some of the way up to the house!" answered Norman.
Fanny burst into a merry laugh.
"You are always grinning at me," exclaimed Norman, turning round and going out of the room.
Again his evil feelings were aroused.
"I won't be laughed at by a girl," he said to himself, as he made his way towards the kitchen to deliver the fish to the cook. "I will pay her off, and she will be sorry that she jeered at me."
"Well, young gentleman. These are fine fish," said the cook, "did you catch them all?"
"No I didn't," answered Norman turning away, for he was afraid the cook would laugh at him, as Fanny had done, if he boasted of having caught them.
"Fanny, you should not laugh at Norman," observed Mrs Vallery, "he cannot endure that sort of thing, as he has not been accustomed to it."
"But, my dear Mary, don't you think it would be better that he should learn to endure it, and get accustomed to be joked with?" said Mrs Maclean. "When he goes to school he will be compelled to bear the jokes of his companions, if he gets angry on such occasions, they will only joke at him the more, and he will have a very uncomfortable time of it."
"Poor boy! I am afraid what you say is true, but still, I do not consider that his sister should be the person to teach him the unpleasant lesson," answered Mrs Vallery.
"I did not intend to hurt his feelings, and will find him and try to comfort him as well as I can," said Fanny, putting up her work.
Fanny found Norman just going into his room to get ready for tea. "I am so sorry I laughed when you told us about the fish just now, Norman," she said putting her hand on his arm; "I did not intend to laugh at you, but only at what you said."
"I do not see why you should have laughed at all, I don't like it, and won't stand it, and you had better not do it again," he answered, tearing himself away from her, and running into his room. She attempted to follow, but he slammed the door in her face, and shot the bolt, so that she could not enter.
"My dear brother, do listen to me, I am very very sorry to have offended you, and will not, if I can help it, laugh at you again," she said, much grieved at his petulant behaviour.
Norman made no answer, but she heard him stamping about in his room and knocking over several things.
Finding all her efforts vain, she got ready for tea, and went to the dining-room, where that meal was spread in Highland fashion.
Norman who was hungry, at last made his appearance. He went to his seat without speaking or even looking at her. Mr Maclean who knew nothing of what had passed, talked to him in his usual kind way, and promised to take him out the next morning that he might commence his lessons in fly-fishing. Norman being thus treated, was perfectly satisfied with himself, and considered that Fanny alone was to blame for the ill-feeling in which he allowed himself to indulge towards her. She made several attempts to get him to speak, but to no purpose.
How sad it was that Norman should have been able to place his head on his pillow and not experience any feeling of compunction at doing so without being reconciled to his gentle sister.
Next morning he was up betimes, and went off soon after breakfast with Mr Maclean to the loch.
Fanny amused herself for some time with her little bird. It now knew her so well that when she opened the door of its cage, it would fly out as she called it, and come and perch on her finger, and when she put some crumbs on the table, it would hop forward, turning its head about, and pick them up one after the other, watching lest any stranger should approach. If any one entered the room it immediately came close up to Fanny, or perched on her hand, and seemed to feel that it was perfectly safe while under her protection. It would not, however, venture out if any one else was in the room. Fanny kept its cage hung up on a peg near the window of her bedroom. She brought it down that morning to show to Mrs Leslie.
"I must give it a name, dear granny," she said; "can you help me? Do you recollect the pretty story you used to read to me when I was a very little girl, about the three robins—Dickey, and Flapsey, and Pecksy. I have been thinking of calling it by one of those names, but I could not make up my mind."
"Which name do you like the best, my dear?" asked Mrs Leslie.
"I think Pecksy. Pecksy was a good, obedient, little bird, and I am sure my dear little bird is as good as a bird can be."
"Then I think I would call it Pecksy, dear," answered Mrs Leslie; and Fanny decided on so naming her little favourite.
"Now you shall see, granny, how Pecksy will come out when I call it, if you will just hold up your shawl as you sit in your arm-chair, so that it may not see you; yet I am sure it would not be afraid of you if it knew how kind you are, and I shall soon be able to teach it to love you;" so Fanny placed the cage on a little table at the farther end of the room, and, opening the door, went to some distance and called to Pecksy, and out came Pecksy and perched on her fingers. She then, talking to it and gently stroking its back, brought it quietly up to her granny. Greatly to her delight, Pecksy did not appear at all afraid.
"There, granny! there! I was sure Pecksy would learn to love you," she exclaimed; and Pecksy looked up into the kind old lady's face, and seemed perfectly satisfied that no harm would come to it.
"Oh, I wish Norman would be fond of the little bird too," she said, "but he does not seem to care about it, and thinks it beneath his notice; and yet I have heard of many boys—not only little ones, but big boys, and even grown-up men—who were fond of birds, and have tamed them, and taught them to come to them, and learn to trust and love them."
"I do, indeed, wish that Norman was fond of your little bird," observed Mrs Leslie; "many noble and great men have been fond of dumb animals, and have found pleasure in the companionship even of little birds. It is no sign of true manliness to despise even the smallest of God's creatures, or to treat them otherwise than with kindness. You remember those lines of the poet Cowper which begin thus—
"'I would not enter on my list of friends (Though graced with polished manners and fine sense, Yet wanting sensibility) the man Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.'
"They refer rather to cruelty to animals, but they occurred to me just now when thinking of Norman, and we must try to get him to learn them, as I am afraid that he does not consider that all God's creatures have feeling, and that he would carelessly injure them if they came in his way."
"I fear that at present he would do so, but then, he is very little," said Fanny, "and perhaps if he learns those lines they may teach him to be kinder than he now is to dumb animals; still, I am sure he would not have the heart to hurt little Pecksy."
Poor Fanny judged of Norman by herself, notwithstanding the way he had so constantly behaved. She little thought of what he was capable of doing, still less of what he would become capable as he grew older, unless he was altogether changed.
Fanny had just returned Pecksy to his cage when the laird and Norman entered. Norman boasted of the way in which he had handled his rod.
"Mr Maclean says that I shall soon become a first-rate fly-fisher," he exclaimed. "I should have caught some fish to-day if I had had a hook. He would not let me put one on for fear I should hook him or myself, but I am determined to have one next time, and then you will see I shall bring back a whole basketful of fish."
Fanny did not laugh at what Norman said, though she felt much inclined to do so. She remembered too well the effect her laughter had produced on the previous evening, and she was most anxious not to irritate his feelings.
The laird had now, as he called it, taken Norman in hand, and for several days allowed the boy to accompany him when he went fishing on the loch. On each occasion he made him practise with his little rod and line, but would not permit him to put on a hook, in spite of the earnest request Norman made that he might be allowed to use one.
"No, laddie, no; not till I see that you can throw a fly with sufficient skill to entice a fish shall you use a hook while you are with me," he answered.
His refusal greatly annoyed Norman, who one day, losing his temper, declared that unless he was allowed to have a hook he would not go out any more in the boat.
"Very well, laddie, ye maun just stay at home and amuse yourself as best you can," was the answer he received from the laird, who, taking up his rod, went off, accompanied by old Sandy, without him.
Norman walked about the grounds in a very ill-humour, wishing that he had kept his agreement with his good-natured host. At last, growing tired of his own company, he returned to the house, thinking that a game of some sort or other, even with Fanny, would be better than being all alone. She, supposing that he had gone off with the laird, did not expect to see him, and having brought Pecksy down to the library, was amusing herself by playing with her little favourite. Having collected some crumbs after breakfast in a paper, she brought them with her, and seating herself in a large arm-chair at the library table, placed the cage by her side, and took Pecksy out of it. Having given him one or two crumbs, she thought she would make him run round and round the table, and then from one end to the other, so she placed the crumbs at intervals round the edge, and then in a line down the centre.
"It would amuse granny to see Pecksy at my word of command hop round the table, and then come back to me, and as she would not observe the crumbs, she would wonder, till I told her how very obedient he has become. But I would tell her directly afterwards, for I would not really deceive her even in that way," Fanny said to herself.