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A four-inch black-satin ribbon.
ND two and a half o' In Drumorty a bonnet with strings
tied below the chin means that youth Jessie MacLean added this last fatal is over.
is over. About the time the second item with an upward jerk of her head baby is born the gooodwife abandons lest Mistress MacKenty, at the other her hat forever and appears in a bonside of the counter, should think she net with ties. She may be of any age was ashamed of her purchase. But from eighteen to twenty-five, for matriMistress MacKenty had a nose for mony and motherhood and age come news rather than an instinct for trag- early in Drumorty. The spinster edy, and by the suppressed eagerness clings longer to her hat, for while she in her voice as she asked, “And ye 'll wears it, any bachelor may take heart want it silk on both sides I 'll war- and "speer" her, and if she be "keeprant?" you could see that she was al- ing company,” she may cling to her ready half-way down the road to the hat until she be thirty “and bittock"; smithy to spread the news that "Jessie but after that, if she would hold the MacLean had lost heart, and would be respect of her community, she must out in a bonnet in the morn, so help cease to "gallivant” about “wi' a hat" her Davey.”
and dress like a decent woman in a "Aye, silk both sides," Jessie an- bonnet with ties. swered, letting her eyes range the And Jessie MacLean was six and shelves carelessly to prove that there thirty, as Baldie Tocher could tell you, was nothing momentous in her buying for did he no have the pleasure of burybonnet-strings.
ing the exciseman the very morning Silk both sides proved it. A satin- that Jessie first saw the light of day, faced ribbon might have many uses, and was it no the very next year that but silk on both sides was a bonnet- Nancy MacFarland's cow got mired in string by all the laws of millinery the moss? known to Drumorty.
Drumorty had been very lenient with Telling about it five minutes later, Jessie. Many a goodwife thought it Mistress MacKenty said:
was high time that Jessie laid aside her "I might hae been wrang when she hat, but always she held her peace, rebought the silk geraniums, and I may membering her bridal gown and the hae been over-hasty when she said care with which Jessie had made it; for 'half a yard o' black lace,' but silk both Jessie was the village seamstress, and sides is as good as swearing it on the it was a secret, whispered, that Jessie Bible."
charged only half-price for making wedding-gowns, because she liked to “Goodman, hae ye forgotten the make them so much.
scraper?" was abandoned because it Another reason for their lenience was n't strictly honest, for Jessie knew was Jock Sclessor. For fifteen years full well that he always forgot the Jock had “kept company" with Jessie; scraper. "Gang back and clean your not one Sunday morning had he missed feet," was set aside also, because it was "crying by” for Jessie to go to morning too commanding, and “Dinna forget service. He would come round the the scraper" was also discarded because bend of the road from Skilly's farm it is n't good to nag a man before he has just as the sexton gave the bell that set foot in the door. But none of the first introductory ring which meant, expressions had been tried out yet, for “Bide a wee till I get her goin' full when Jock dropped in with her after swing, and then bide at hame frae the service, Jessie hurried him by the kirk if ye dare”; and Jessie would come scraper as if it might shout at him, out of her door and mince down the “She expects you to speer her!” and so sanded walk between the rows of box- put her to shame. wood to the gate, and affect surprise at But now threshing had been over for seeing Jock, just as if she had not been weeks, and every Sunday since then watching for him behind her window- Jessie had looked for the white gowan curtain the last five minutes.
in Jock's coat; for what swain "worth Jock was the cotter on Skilly's farm. his ears full of cold water" ever asked Every year he intended to speer Jessie the question without that emblem of when threshing was over. Tammas, courage in his buttonhole? It is a his dog, might tell you how many signal to the world that he means to times he had been on the very point of propose, that he is going in cold blood asking Jessie the very next day; but al- to do it, and forever after his goodwife ways the question of adding another can remind him of that, should he sugroom came up, and not for the life of gest that he was inveigled into it by him could he decide whether to level some female wile. the rowan-tree and build it on the east, Last Sunday, on their way to church, or to move the peats and build it on Jessie cleared her throat nervously and the west, and by the time he had made grasped her New Testament, bracing up his mind to cart the peats down be herself as she asked in a thin voice that hind the byre and build it on the west, was much too offhand: "Would your lambing was round again, and he let it peats no be better sheltered in the go by for another year.
lea o' the byre?" and Jock replied: And every year Jessie was in a flut- “Na, na; they are better where they ter as threshing was nearing the finish. are.” One year she had been so sure that he And so a hope, nourished fifteen would speer her that she bought a new years, died, and through the service scraper; for Jock could make your very she sat gazing straight ahead, with her heart stand still, he was that careless eyes wide open, for the wider eyes are about scraping the mud off his boots. open, the more tears they can hold Often, when Jessie was alone, she would without spilling over. And next Satpractise ways of telling Jock that he urday she bought black satin ribbon must clean his boots before he came in. “silk both sides," and the world
meaning Drumorty-knew that Jes- latch to keep herself from tearing the sie's tombstone would not read "Be bonnet from her head. O Fate, that
“ loved wife of"
sits high and laughs, have you the
heart to laugh now? Jock was wear§ 2
ing a white gowan. It was just a In Jessie's cottage the blinds were dozen steps or so back to the house and drawn on Saturday evening, and you a hat and happiness; but the world who have suffered will not ask me to knew that she had bought bonnetpull them aside and show you how a strings, and was that not Mistress faded spinster looks when she weeps, MacKenty watching from behind her or how her fingers tremble when she curtain? Go forward, Jessie! There sews upon bonnet-strings; but let me is no turning back; and go proudly! tell you how bravely she stepped out Open the latch and answer his "guidnext morning wearing her bonnet, with morning" and smile; and don't let never a look through the curtain to see your hands tremble, or he will guess! if Jock was on his way, or a glance to Look your fill from behind the cursee if the neighbors were watching. tain, Mistress MacKenty! You canHer step was just as firm upon the not see a heartache when it is hidden sanded path, and her head just as high. by a black alpaca gown and when the Perhaps she grasped her Testament heart belongs to Jessie MacLean. more tightly than usual, but what Jock Sclessor, your one chance of soul on the rack would not do that? happiness is now. Lead her back into
Jock came round the bend as she the house and take the bonnet from her reached the gate. She clung to the head! No, laggard and fool that you
are, you are wondering if she has long years. But you have gone too noticed the gowan! Has she not! She far, Jessie; he needs help. has watched for it for fifteen years. “I-oh-I thought I'd build a shed Speak, you fool! Don't keep staring for peats.” at her bonnet! You dullard, Jessie Thud! That was Jessie's heart you must come to your rescue; and she heard, and that queer, thin voice is does.
Jessie's, saying: "Is the sexton no late this morning?" "I thought-ye were minded to Jessie turned out of the gate as she leave the peats the other side o' the spoke, snapping the latch with the house." right amount of care.
“Aye, I am minded to leave them "Aye, later than usual,” Jock agreed. there, but a body can na hae too many The sexton was never late in his life, peats." and at that moment the bell rang out And as they knelt in kirk he slipped to give Jock the lie. But Jock was so the gowan out, and Jessie did not need dazed he would have agreed if she had to widen her eyes to hold the tears this said, “Let us choke the minister.” time. That sorrow was past; she
As they walked to the church, he would never weep over it again. meditated:
"Evidently she never expected me to speer her, and she's never so much as At home she brewed her tea, looking glimpsed the gowan. I 'll slip it out round at her rag rugs and white tidies when we kneel in the kirk. But may- with pleasure. The tidy on the big be I better sound her out first. It's chair was as white and smooth as when gey and lonesome for a man biding by she pinned it there in the morning, and himself."
there was no mud to be carefully They were just turning round by the washed off the rug by the door. There town hall, where the rowan-trees are was a certain contentment in knowing red, when he said:
that it would never be, a certain exhila“I had been thinkin' o' levelin' my ration in knowing that next Sunday rowan-tree."
she could not be disappointed, because Jessie's heart thumped. Here it next Sunday she would not hope. She came! That was why he would n't sipped her tea peacefully, and smiled move the peats. But she would n't at the bonnet sitting restful-like on help him a foot of the road; she had the dresser, and at the tidy on the waited too long. He must come every big chair, spotless and smooth, and step himself.
thought: “Oh, that would be a pity! It 's a "Jock Sclessor would have been a bonnie tree," she answered.
mussy man to have about a house. Not much help here, but he would I 'm thinkin' his mother was overtry again.
lenient when she brought him up." “I was thinking o' building."
And Jock, at Skilly's, was thinking: “Building? My certies! What “I would na had time to build it, anycould ye be building so near the house?" way. Lambing is here, and that is too This with some malice for all the fifteen bonnie a tree to be cut down."