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   Chapter 45 ANOTHER HARVEST.

Warlock o' Glenwarlock By George MacDonald Characters: 19464

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


The harvest brought again the opportunity of earning a pound or two, and Cosmo was not the man to let it slip. But he would not go so far from home again, for, though his father never pined or complained, Cosmo could see that his days shrunk more rapidly when he was not with him: left alone, he began at once to go home the faster-as if another dragging anchor were cast loose, and he was drawn the more swiftly whither sets the tide of life. To the old and weary man the life to come showed as rest; to the young and active Cosmo it promised more work. It is all one; what we need for rest as well as for labour is LIFE; more life we want, and that is everything. That which is would be more. The eternal root causes us to long for more existence, more being, more of God's making, less of our own unmaking. Our very desire after rest comes of life, life so strong that it recoils from weariness. The imperfect needs to be more-must grow. The sense of growth, of ever enlarging existence, is essential to the created children of an infinite Father; for in the children the paternal infinite goes on working-by them recognizable, not as infinitude, but as growth.

The best thing in sight for both father and son seemed to Cosmo a place in Lord Lick-my-loof's harvest-an engagement to reap, amongst the rest, the fields that had so lately been his own. He would then be almost within sight of his father when not with him. He applied, therefore, to the grieve, the same man with whom he had all but fought that memorable Sunday of Trespass. Though of a coarse, the man was not of a spiteful nature, and that he had quarrelled with another was not to him sufficient rea-son for hating him ever after; yet, as he carried the application to his lordship, for he dared not without his master's leave engage to his service the man he counted his enemy, it gave him pleasure to see what he called poor pride brought to the shame of what he called beggary-as if the labour of a gentleman's hands were not a good deal further from beggary than the living upon money gained anyhow by his ancestors!

Lord Lick-my-loof smouldered awhile before giving an answer. The question was, which would most gratify the feelings he cherished towards the man of old blood, high station, and evil fortunes-to accept or refuse the offered toil. His deliberation ended in his giving orders to the bailiff to fee the young laird, but to mind he did not pay workmen's wages for gentleman's work-which injunction the bailiff allowed to reach Cosmo's ears.

The young laird, as they all called him, was a favourite with his enemy's men-partly, that they did not love their master, and were the more ready to side with the man he oppressed; partly, because they admired the gentleman who so cheerfully descended to their level, and, showing neither condescension nor chagrin, was in all simplicity friendly with them; and partly, because some of them had been to his evening-school the last winter, and had become attached to him. No honest heart indeed could be near Cosmo long and not love him-for the one reason that humanity was in him so largely developed. To him a man was a man whatever his position or calling; he beheld neither in the great man a divinity, nor in the small man a slave; but honoured in his heart every image of the living God it had pleased that God to make-honoured every man as, if not already such in the highest sense, yet destined to be one day a brother of Jesus Christ.

In the arrangement of the mowers, the grieve placed Cosmo last, as presumably the least capable, that he might not lower the rate of the field. But presently Cosmo contrived to make his neighbour in front a little uneasy about his legs, and when the man humourously objected to having them cut off, asked him, for the joke of the thing, to change places with him. The man at once consented; the rest behaved with equal courtesy, showing no desire to contest with him the precedence of labour; before the end of the long bout, Cosmo swung the leading scythe; and many were the compliments he received from his companions, as they stood sharpening for the next, in which they were of one mind he must take the lead, some begging him however to be considerate, as they were not all so young as he, while others warned him that, if he went on as he had begun, he could not keep it up, but the first would be the last before the day was over. Cosmo listened, and thereafter restrained himself, having no right to overwork his companions; yet notwithstanding he had cause, many a time in after life, to remember the too great exertion of that day. Even in the matter of work a man has to learn that he is not his own, but has a master, whom he must not serve as if he were a hard one. When our will goes hand in hand with God's, then are we fellow-workers with him in the affairs of the universe-not mere discoverers of his ways, watching at the outskirts of things, but labourers with him at the heart of them.

The next day Lord Lick-my-loof's shadow was upon the field, and there he spent some time watching how things went.

Now Grizzie and Aggie, irrespective of Cosmo's engagement, of which at the time they were unaware, had laid their heads together, and concluded that, although they could not both be at once away from the castle, they might between them, with the connivance of the bailiff, do a day's work and earn a day's wages; and although the grieve would certainly have listened to no such request from Grizzie in person, he was incapable of refusing it to Aggie. Hence it followed that Grizzie, in her turn that morning, was gathering to Cosmo's scythe, hanging her labour on that of the young laird with as devoted a heart as if he had been a priest at the high altar, and she his loving acolyte. I doubt if his lordship would have just then approached Cosmo, had he noted who the woman was that went stooping along behind the late heir of the land, now a labourer upon it for the bread of his household.

"Weel, Glenwarlock!" said the old man, giving a lick to the palm of his right hand as he stopped in front of the nearing mower, "ye're a famous han' at the scythe! The corn boos doon afore ye like the stooks to Joseph."

"I hae a guid arm an' a sharp scythe, my lord," answered Cosmo cheerily.

"Whisht, whisht, my lord!" said Grizzie. "Gien the corn hear ye, it'll stan' up again an' cry out. Hearken til 't."

The morning had been very still, but that moment a gust of wind came and set all the corn rustling.

"What! YOU here!-Crawford, you rascal!" cried his lordship, looking round, "turn this old cat out of the field."

But he looked in vain; the grieve was nowhere in sight.

"The deil sew up yer lordship's moo' wi' an awn o' beer!" (a beard of barley) cried Grizzie. "Haith, gien I be a cat, ye s' hear me curse!"

His lordship bethought himself that she would certainly disgrace him in the hearing of his labourers if he provoked her further, for a former encounter had revealed that she knew things not to his credit. They were all working away as if they had not an ear amongst them, but almost all of them heard every word.

"Hoots, wuman!" he said, in an altered tone, "canna ye tak a jeist?"

"Na; there's ower mony o' ye lordship's jeists hae turnt fearsome earnest to them at tuik them!"

"What mean ye, wuman?"

"Wuman! quo' he? My name's Grisel Grant. Wha kens na auld Grizzie, 'at never turnt her back on freen' or foe? But I'm no gaein til affront yer lordship wi' the sicht o' yersel' afore fowk-sae long, that is, as ye haud a quaiet souch. But gie the yoong laird there ony o' the dirt ye're aye lickin' oot o' yer loof, an' the auld cat 'll be cryin' upo' the hoose-tap!"

"Grizzie! Grizzie!" cried Cosmo, ceasing his work and coming back to where they stood, "ye'll ruin a'!"

"What is there to ruin 'at he can ruin mair?" returned Grizzie. "Whan yer back's to the wa', ye canna fa'. An angry chiel' 'ill ca' up the deil; but an angry wife 'll gar him rin for's life. When I'm angert, I fear no aiven his lordship there!"

Lord Lick-my-loof turned and went, and Grizzie set to work like a fury, probably stung by the sense that she had gone too far. Old woman as she was, she had soon overtaken Cosmo, but he was sorely vexed, and did not speak to her. When after a while the heat of her wrath was abated, Grizzie could not endure the silence, for in every motion of Cosmo's body before her she read that she had hurt him grievously.

"Laird!" she cried at last, "my stren'th's gane frae me. Gien ye dinna speyk to me, I'll drap."

Cosmo stopped his scythe in mid swing, and turned to her. How could he resist such an appeal!

"Grizzie," he said, "I winna deny 'at ye hae vext me,-"

"Ye needna; I wadna believe ye. But ye dinna ken yon man as I du, or ye wadna be sae sair angert at onything wuman cud say til 'im. Gien I was to tell ye what I ken o' 'im, ye wad be affrontit afore me, auld wife as I am. Haith, ye wadna du anither stroke for 'im!"

"It's for the siller, no for HIM, Grizzie. But gien he war as ill as ye ca' 'im, a' the same, as ye weel ken, the Lord maks his sun to rise on the evil an' on the good, an' sen's rain on the just an' on the unjust!"

"Ow ay! the Lord can afoord it!" remarked Grizzie.

"An' them 'at wad be his, maun afoord it tu, Grizzie!" returned

Cosmo. "Whaur's the guid o' ca'in' ill names,'uman?"

"Ill's the trowth o' them 'at's ill. What for no set ill names to ill duers?"

"Cause a christian 's b'un' to destroy the warks o' the evil ane; an' ca'in' names raises mair o' them. The only thing 'at maks awa' wi' ill, is the man himsel' turnin' again' 't, an' that he'll never du for ill names. Ye wad never

gar me repent that gait, Grizzie. Hae mercy upo' the auld sinner,'uman."

The pace at which they were making up for lost time was telling upon Grizzie, and she was silent. When she spoke again it was upon another subject.

"I cud jest throttle that grieve there!" she said. "To see 'im the nicht afore last come hame to the verra yett wi' Aggie, was enouch to anger the sanct 'at I'm no."

Jealousy sent a pang through the heart of Cosmo. Was not Aggie one of the family-more like a sister to him than any other could ever be? The thought of her and a man like Crawford was unendurable.

"She cudna weel help hersel'," he rejoined; "an' whaur's the maitter, sae lang as she has naething to say til 'im?"

"An' wha kens hoo lang that may be?" returned Grizzie. "The hert o' a wuman's no deceitfu' as the Buik says o' a man 's, an' sae 's a heap the easier deceivt. The chield's no ill-luikin'! an' I s' warran' he's no sae rouch wi' a yoong lass as wi' an auld wife."

"Grizzie, ye wadna mint 'at oor Aggie's ane to be ta'en wi' the luiks o' a man!"

"What for no-whan it's a' the man has! A wuman's hert's that saft, whiles,'at she'll jist tak 'im, no to be sair upon 'im. I wadna warran' ony lass! Gien the fallow cairry a fair face, she'll sweir her conscience doon he maun hae a guid hert."

Thus Grizzie turned the tables upon Cosmo, and sheltered herself behind them. Scarcely a word did he speak the rest of the morning.

At noon, when toil gladly made way for dinner, they all sat down among the stooks to eat and drink-all except Grizzie, who, appropriating an oatcake the food she and Aggie had a right to between them, carried it home, and laid the greater part aside. Cosmo ate and drank with the rest of the labourers, and enjoyed the homely repast as much as any of them. By the time the meal was over, Aggie had arrived to take Grizzie's place.

It was a sultry afternoon; and what with the heat and the annoyance of the morning from Grizzie's tongue and her talk concerning Agnes, the scythe hung heavy in Cosmo's hands, nor had Aggie to work her hardest to keep up with him. But she was careful to maintain her proper distance from him, for she knew that the least suspicion of relaxing effort would set him off like a thrashing machine. He led the field, nevertheless, at fair speed; his fellow labourers were content; and the bailiff made no remark. But he was so silent, and prolonged silence was so unusual between them, that Aggie was disquieted.

"Are ye no weel, Cosmo?" she asked.

"Weel eneuch, Aggie," he answered. "What gars ye speir?"

"Ye're haudin' yer tongue sae sair.-And," she added, for she caught sight of the bailiff approaching, "ye hae lost the last inch or twa o' yer stroke."

"I'll tell ye a' aboot it as we gang hame," he answered, swinging his scythe in the arc of a larger circle.

The bailiff came up.

"Dinna warstle yersel' to death, Aggie," he said.

"I maun haud up wi' my man," she replied.

"He's a het man at the scythe-ower het! He'll be fit for naething or the week be oot. He canna haud on at this rate!"

"Ay can he-fine that! Ye dinna ken oor yoong laird. He's worth twa ordinar' men. An' gien ye dinna think me fit to gather til' 'im, I s' lat ye see ye're mistaen, Mr. Crawford."

And Aggie went on gathering faster and faster.

"Hoots!" said the bailiff, going up to her, and laying his hand on her shoulder, "I ken weel ye hae the spunk to work till ye drap. But there's na occasion the noo. Sit ye doon an' tak yer breath ameenute-here i' the shaidow o' this stook. Whan Glenwarlock's at the tither en', we'll set tu thegither an' be up wi' him afore he's had time to put a fresh edge on's scythe. Come, Aggie! I hae lang been thinkin' lang to hae a word wi' ye. Ye left me or I kent whaur I was the ither nicht."

"My time's no my ain," answered Aggie.

"Whause is 't than?"

"While's it's the laird's, an' while's it's my father's, an' noo it's his lordship's."

"It's yer ain sae lang's I'm at the heid o' 's lordship's affairs."

"Na; that canna be. He's boucht my time, an' he'll pey me for 't, an' he s' hae his ain."

"Ye needna consider 'im mair nor rizzon: he's been nae freen' to you or yours."

"What's that to the p'int?"

"A' thing to the p'int-wi' me here to haud it richt atween ye."

"Ca' ye that haudin' o' 't richt, to temp' me to wrang 'im?" said Aggie, going steadily on at her gathering, while the grieve kept following her step by step.

"Ye're unco short wi' a body, Aggie!"

"I weel may be, whan a body wad hae me neglec' my paid wark."

"Weel, I reckon ye're i' the richt o' 't efter a', sae I'll jist fa' tu, an' len' ye a han'."

He had so far hindered her that Cosmo had gained a little; and now in pretending to help, he contrived to hinder her yet more. Still she kept near enough to Cosmo to prevent the grieve from saying much, and by and by he left her.

When they dropped work for the night, he would have accompanied her home, but she never left Cosmo's side, and they went away together.

"Aggie," said Cosmo, as soon as there was no one within hearing, "I dinna like that chield hingin' aboot ye-glowerin' at ye as gien he wad ate ye."

"He winna du that, Cosmo; he's ceevil eneuch."

"Ye sud hae seen sae rouch as he was to Grizzie!"

"Grizzie's some rouch hersel' whiles," remarked Aggie quietly.

"That's ower true," assented Cosmo; "but a man sud never behave like that til a wuman."

"Say that to the man," rejoined Aggie. "The wuman can haud aff o' hersel'."

"Grizzie, I grant ye,'s mair nor a match for ony man; but ye're no sae lang i' the tongue, Aggie."

"Think ye a lang tongue 's a lass's safety, Cosmo? I wad awe nane til 't! But what's ta'en ye the nicht,'at ye speyk to me sae? I ken no occasion."

"Aggie, I wadna willinl'y say a word to vex ye," answered Cosmo; "but I hae notit an h'ard 'at the best 'o wuman whiles tak oonaccootable fancies to men no fit to haud a can'le to them."

Aggie turned her head aside.

"I wad ill like you, for instance, to be drawn to yon Crawford," he went on. "It's eneuch to me 'at he's been lang the factotum o' an ill man."

A slight convulsive movement passed across Aggie's face, leaving behind it a shadow of hurtless resentment, yielding presently to a curious smile.

"I micht mak a better man o' 'im," she said, and again looked away.

"They a' think that, I'm thinkin'!" returned Cosmo with a sad bitterness. "An' sae they wull, to the warl's en'.-But, Aggie," he added, after a pause, "ye ken ye're no to be oonaiqually yokit."

"That's what I hae to heed, I ken," murmured Aggie. "But what do ye un'erstan' by 't, Cosmo? There's nae 'worshippers o' idols the noo, as i' the days whan the apostle said that."

"There's idols visible, an' idols invisible," answered Cosmo. "There's heaps o' idols amo' them 'at ca's themsel's an' 's coontit christians. Gien a man set himsel' to lay by siller, he's the worshipper o' as oogly an idol as gien he said his prayers to the fish-tailt god o' the Philistines."

"Weel I wat that!" returned Agnes, and a silence followed.

"You an' me's aye been true til ane anither, Aggie," resumed Cosmo at length, "an' I wad fain hae a promise frae ye-jist to content me."

"What aboot, Cosmo?"

"Promise, an' I'll tell ye, as the bairnies say."

"But we're no bairnies, Cosmo, an' I daurna-even to you 'at I wad trust like the Bible. Tell me what it is, an' gien I may, I wull."

"It's no muckle atween you an' me, Aggie. It's only this-'at gien ever ye fa' in love wi' onybody, ye'll let me ken."

Agnes was silent for a moment; then, with a tremble in her voice, which in vain she sought to smooth out, and again turning her head away, answered:

"Cosmo, I daurna."

"I want naething mair," said Cosmo, thinking she must have misapprehended, "nor the promise 'at what ye ken I sail ken. I wad fain be wi' ye at sic a time."

"Cosmo," said. Aggie with much solemnity, "there's ane at's aye at han', ane that sticketh closer nor a brither. The thing ye require o' me, micht be what a lass could tell to nane but the father o' her-him 'at 's in haiven."

Cosmo was silenced, as indeed it was time and reason he should be; for had she been his daughter, he would have had no right to make such a request of her. He did it in all innocence, and might well have asked her to tell him, but not to promise to tell him. He did not yet understand however that he was wrong, and was the more troubled about her, feeling as if, for the first time in their lives, Aggie and he had begun to be divided.

They entered the kitchen. Aggie hastened to help Grizzie lay the cloth for supper. Her grandfather looked up with a smile from the newspaper he was reading in the window. The laird, who had an old book in his hand, called out,

"Here, Cosmo! jist hearken to this bit o' wisdom, my man-frae a hert doobtless praisin' God this mony a day in higher warl's:-'He that would always know before he trusts, who would have from his God a promise before he will expect, is the slayer of his own eternity.'"

The words mingled strangely with what had just passed between him and Agnes. Both they and that gave him food for thought, but could not keep him awake.

The bailiff continued to haunt the goings and comings of Agnes, but few supposed his attentions acceptable to her. Cosmo continued more and less uneasy.

The harvest was over at length, and the little money earned mostly laid aside for the sad winter, once more on its way. But no good hope dies without leaving a child, a younger and fresher hope, behind it. The year's fruit must fall that the next year's may come, and the winter is the only way to the spring.

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