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ploughman's fruitless attempts to mould the refractory metal to his will.
“Never fear me, Davie," answered the youth; "I'll manage it yet,” putting, as he spoke, more strength to his work, but without any better success, the perspiration in the meantime dropping from his face, which he wiped off with the sleeve of his fustian jacket.
“Deed, an' ye winna, Rob," persisted the boy, drawing forth a red-hot bar of iron, which made a fiery flash in the air and lighted up his bright countenance for a moment, adding, as with a great blow of his hammer he made the sparks fly,“ See here, take you the bellows, an' I'll help you with your job."
“Weel, I think if I canna do it, it's no a brat like you that will,” was the ungracious reception the boy's kind offer of assistance obtained from the sulky ploughman.
“It's no sae much strength o' arm as sleight o’ hand that's needed,” retorted Davie. “ But I'm content to do my ain work, an' ye'll take my offer the next time I make it;" and so saying, he put back the bar of iron into the fire, and leaning upon the handle of the bellows, watched the inexperienced Rob working away vigorously to no purpose.
“I can see the harrows will be mended before Martinmas," added the boy, after a pause of some minutes.
“An' what's your business?” cried Rob, now waxing wroth, provoked by his own bad success in his work, and the contempt for his powers which he saw expressed in Davie's face, adding, “ If ye take my advice, Davie Gordon, ye'll keep a civiler tongue in your head when ye speak to better folk than yoursel.”
“Better than yoursel!" repeated the boy with a smile. Then feeling it to be a useless work to keep on good terms with the enraged ploughman, he added sarcastically, “Rob, were ye seeing Jenny last night? an' did she play her auld trick, an' put the dish-clout into yer pocket? Eh! but you were illoff at Sandyknowe for ane when ye had to carry it
This allusion to some luckless adventure in Rob's courtship fairly roused the young man, and seizing an oak cudgel, he, with a volley of oaths, sent it spinning at his tormentor's head. But Davie was too quick for him, so quietly ducking behind an old barrel, as the weapon flew past without touching him, he exclaimed, “I see, Rob, you're as clever a marksman as ye are a smith : dinna aim sae high the next time.”
What reply Rob would have made to this piece of advice we know not, for the conversation was here interrupted by the entrance to the smithy of a little girl, who exclaimed breathlessly,
Uncle, uncle, ye’re to come to the house directly!”
“ Yer uncle's no here, daughty!” exclaimed Davie, in the mischievous tones he had used to Rob; " but if ye want a nice bit o'smith's work done, there's yer man!” pointing to his neighbour, who by this time had ceased from his labour, and was looking quietly on.
“O Davie!” cried the girl," tell me where my uncle is, if he's no at hand.”
But all Davie's reply was a somersault on the floor.
Rob, can ye no tell me,” said the girl, for the first time appealing to the ploughman in her distress; and then fairly overcome she burst into a flood of tears; upon perceiving which, Davie stopped his fun, and asked kindly,–
“What ails ye, Tibbie, lassie ? Hae ye broken your doll's arm, or lost the grand bonnet ye were trimmin' wi' gum flowers last night ?”
Oh no, no!” cried Tibbie, sobbing bitterly and hiding her face in her apron, “it's no that, it's my auntie that's ill, an' grannie sent me for my uncle. O Davie! I doubt auntie's awful bad.”
“ Ye stupid wee cat that ye are !” cried Davie with alarm,“ what for did ye no tell me this at first, an' I wadna have put off as lang; yer uncle's no' at hand, he was sent for express awhile since to see
the laird's horse at Fairshiels that was ill, an' he thought when he was that length he might gang on to Arton for some things he needed frae the foundry. I'm sure I dinna ken what's to be done,” he added thoughtfully. “I doubt I couldna reach him before he left Fairshiels, it's mair than twa hours since he gaed frae here; I can but try though, an' if Rob will look after the smithy in my absence, I'll run off, an' see if I can overtake him.”
Rob, who had by this time fairly recovered his good temper, faithfully promised that no harm should happen to the place in Davie's absence; so the boy, throwing aside his shoes, waited not to wash the soot from his face, but sped off with the fleetness of a young roe in the direction of Fairshiels.
“ But when the morn came dim and sad,
And chill with early showers,
“ We will be patient and assuage the feeling
We may not wholly stay ;
HE Den of Grey Craigs through which
Davie now passed was the pride of the
neighbourhood. It was a secluded spot—unseen until you entered it, being a ravine between the two hills which made a beautiful background to the town lying at their base. Wherever the eye wandered in this spot, it fell upon feathery banks tufted with ash and beech, and intermixed with many a hazel and thorn, and lighted here and there by the thread-like silver burn which wound its way from the mountain tarn, a little distant.
A soft wind was passing over the uplands, and