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oned bonnie, but, for a' that, I was mair than bonnie — I never saw a lassie sa weel favoured as I was in my youth. Wi' a face like Juno, and a heart as proud, I was mair than five-and-twenty before I ever thought o' love, and not then till Donald o' the Brae, having faen ill at our house, I nursed him, I little dreamed o' the danger!....”
Ellen started, and a slight smile curved her lip, for she remembered that Donald o' the Brae fell ill at Tibby's house too, and she began to suspect the idol of these two old hearts was some sly flirt, one of those odious male coquettes who think no disguise too troublesome, no labour too great, to win a woman's heart, yet with no nobler object than to break it when won, or to cast it carelessly away.
“ Ye smile,” she said, to Ellen; “ah, ye smile, looking at me noo, to hear me talk of the danger o’ noorsing a young callant like Donald, but, to mak a long story short, as the song says
• She fell sick as he grew well.'
I had noorsed not only Donald, but the purest, truest flame wi' which a woman's heart ever beat. Weel, we met agen and agen; my friends did na approve o', and would na' receive him, sae I met him o' moonlit nights, and at early dawn, and his was true love, timid and respectfu'. He would have married me, but I could na consent: I had my mither, anither sister (now nae mair), and Babie, and, though we're o' a proud and noble family, we had naething to live upon but twa hoondred a year, which had been left me by an auld aunt. I loved him dearly, but I could na forsake my ain mither, my ain sisters, and leave them to dee of want. Oh! it was a hard struggle; he said, if I would be his, we could live on naething, and give it a’ to them: but they were unco’ proud, and, though I did na' doot him, I kenned full well that what my mither gladly accepted from a dutiful daughter, she would suner dee than receive from a disobedient one. He tried hard mony, mony times to mak me change my mind, but I wudna, particularly as my mither
gare us hopes, if we remained faithfu’ for a year or twa, she might be brought to consent and so he went awa', as he said wi' a broken heart, to try his fortune. He vowed he had nerer lured anither, never could luve anither, and never would -I vowed the same. He wrote to me once to beg me to change my mind, and gang over to him in America. My mither was on a sick bed, and I couldna break her heart. I never heard fra' him mair.
“Mony, mony times I have wept a' night over his uncertain fate. I ha' never given a thought to anither, never forgot to pray for him at morning, at evening, and at noon-day. I never for one moment dooted his truth, his lure, his constancy; I ha' often thought him dead, but I nerer dreamed he could be fause. Lang, very lang I ha' lived only in the past, and noo there is na past for me. Judge then, my dear Ellen Lindsay, what your cousin has done to me! I find the love o' my youth, the idol o' my life, was just a trifling, flirting, deceitfu' crater; na mair attached to me than to that flauntering, flighty Tibby. You canna’ think that at my age I had any notion o' marrying, I am na' fule ; but I did hope to carry to my grave the luve which has been my only luve through life. I am too auld for this great change in a' my habits, and feelings, and thoughts; I canna’ pray for him noo; him I ha' prayed for for thirty years. I canna' hope to meet in heaven him who sae deceived me on earth...."
Grizzy wept, and Ellen wept with her. After a while the old spinster said, calmly, “So you see, dear Ellen Lindsay, I canna’ hope lang to survive this shock. I ken na' what to do, and I havena mickle rest, but I wish to ken it a'; when he first luved her, when he gave her that pictur, whether he ever wished to marry her; let me ken it a', it may do me some gude, and if not..... Why, I have no tie, no care but puir Babie ; and I feel sure she wull ha' a friend in you. If you canna' come agen ; write to me a’ Tibby confesses to you, but cross-question her noo and then; for where vanity and men were concerned, she never minded a wee bit fibbing. Had she na’ his pictur and his hair, I would na' ha' believed her, on her bible oath, that Donald had ever luved ony lassie but myself, particularly at that very time. Oh! how often has he ca'ed Heaven to witness he never did. No, no, he is foresworn ...... fause—and I can never hope to meet him there. Excuse me for a few minutes, my dear; I am ashamed thus to weep for one sa fause.”
Grizzy quitted the room; it was more than an hour before she returned; when she did so, she was calm. Ellen was growing very impatient for Babie's appearance with the carriage. Fully intending to be back in time for her uncle's breakfast, she had left no message, and she feared that her unexplained absence, if prolonged, might cause serious uneasiness. Ellen required all her amiable philosophy and ladylike self-possession not to grow very impatient and angry with the antiquated Babie-particularly as Grizzy filled up the time with long anecdotes of her many similar discrepancies, and prophesied that she