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- What's Mine's Mine V3 - 4/30 -
"He would sooner see son of his marry the daughter of a cobbler than of a brewer!"
"So would I, mother!" said Alister.
"I too," said lan, "would much prefer that my sister-in-law's father were not a brewer."
"I suppose you are splitting some hair, lan, but I don't see it," remarked his mother, who had begun to gather a little hope. "You will be back by supper-time, Alister, I suppose?"
"Certainly, mother. We are only going to the village."
The brothers went.
"I knew everything you were thinking," said lan.
"Of course you did!" answered Alister.
"But I am very sorry!"
"So am I! It is a terrible bore!"
A pause followed. Alister burst into a laugh that was not merry.
"It makes me think of the look on my father's face," he said, "once at the market, as he was putting in his pocket a bunch of more than usually dirty bank-notes. The look seemed almost to be making apology that he was rny father--the notes were SO DIRTY! 'They're better than they look, lad!' he said."
"What ARE you thinking of, Alister?"
"Of nothing you are not thinking of, lan, I hope in God! Mr. Palmer's money is worse than it looks."
"You frightened me for a moment, Alister!"
"How could I, lan?"
"It was but a nervo-mechanical fright. I knew well enough you could mean nothing I should not like. But I see trouble ahead, Alister!"
"We shall be called a pack of fools, but what of that! We shall be told the money itself was clean, however dirty the hands that made it! The money-grubs!"
"I would rather see you hanged, than pocketing a shilling of it!"
"Of course you would! But the man who could pocket it, will be relieved to find it is only his daughter I care about."
"There will be difficulty, Alister, I fear. How much have you said to Mercy?"
"I have SAID nothing definite."
"But she understands?"
"I think--I hope so.--Don't you think Christina is much improved, lan?"
"She is more pleasant."
"She is quite attentive to you!"
"She is pleased with me for saving her life. She does not like me--and I have just arrived at not disliking her."
"There is a great change on her!"
"I doubt if there is any IN her though!"
"She may be only amusing herself with us in this outlandish place! Mercy, I am sure, is quite different!"
"I would trust her with anything, Alister. That girl would die for the man she loved!"
"I would rather have her love, though we should never meet in this world, than the lands of my fathers!"
"What will you do then?"
"I will go to Mr. Palmer, and say to him: 'Give me your daughter. I am a poor man, but we shall have enough to live upon. I believe she will be happy.'"
"I will answer for him: 'I have the greatest regard for you, Macruadh. You are a gentleman, and that you are poor is not of the slightest consequence; Mercy's dowry shall be worthy the lady of a chief!'--What then, Alister?"
"Fathers that love money must be glad to get rid of their daughters without a. dowry!"
"Yes, perhaps, when they are misers, or money is scarce, or wanted for something else. But when a poor man of position wanted to marry his daughter, a parent like Mr. Palmer would doubtless regard her dowry as a good investment. You must not think to escape that way, Alister! What would you answer him?"
"I would say, 'My dear sir,'--I may say 'My dear sir,' may I not? there is something about the man I like!--'I do not want your money. I will not have your money. Give me your daughter, and my soul will bless you.'"
"Suppose he should reply,' Do you think I am going to send my daughter from my house like a beggar? No, no, my boy! she must carry something with her! If beggars married beggars, the world would be full of beggars!'--what would you say then?"
"I would tell him I had conscientious scruples about taking his money."
"He would tell you you were a fool, and not to be trusted with a wife. 'Who ever heard such rubbish!' he would say. 'Scruples, indeed! You must get over them! What are they?'--What would you say then?"
"If it came to that, I should have no choice but tell him I had insuperable objections to the way his fortune was made, and could not consent to share it."
"He would protest himself insulted, and swear, if his money was not good enough for you, neither was his daughter. What then?"
"I would appeal to Mercy."
"She is too young. It would be sad to set one of her years at variance with her family. I almost think I would rather you ran away with her. It is a terrible thing to go into a house and destroy the peace of those relations which are at the root of all that is good in the world."
"I know it! I know it! That is my trouble! I am not afraid of Mercy's courage, and I am sure she would hold out. I am certain nothing would make her marry the man she did not love. But to turn the house into a hell about her--I shrink from that!--Do you count it necessary to provide against every contingency before taking the first step?"
"Indeed I do not! The first step is enough. When that step has landed us, we start afresh. But of all things you must not lose your temper with the man. However despicable his money, you are his suitor for his daughter! And he may possibly not think you half good enough for her."
"That would be a grand way out of the difficulty!"
"It would leave me far freer to deal with her."
"Perhaps. And in any case, the more we can honestly avoid reference to his money, the better. We are not called on to rebuke."
"Small is my inclination to allude to it--so long as not a stiver of it seeks to cross to the Macruadh!"
"That is fast as fate. But there is another thing, Alister: I fear lest you should ever forget that her birth and her connections are no more a part of the woman's self than her poverty or her wealth."
"I know it, Ian. I will not forget it."
"There must never be a word concerning them!"
"Nor a thought, Ian! In God's name I will be true to her."
They found Annie of the shop in a sad way. She had just had a letter from Lachlan, stating that he had not been well for some time, and that there was little prospect of his being able to fetch her. He prayed her therefore to go out to him; and had sent money to pay her passage and her mother's.
"When do you go?" asked the chief.
"My mother fears the voyage, and is very unwilling to turn her back on her own country. But oh, if Lachlan die, and me not with him!"
She could say no more.
"He shall not die for want of you!" said the laird. "I will talk to your mother."
He went into the room behind. Ian remained in the shop.
"Of course you must go, Annie!" he said.
"Indeed, sir, I must! But how to persuade my mother I do not know! And I cannot leave her even for Lachlan. No one would nurse him more tenderly than she; but she has a horror of the salt water, and what she most dreads is being buried in it. She imagines herself drowning to all eternity!"
"My brother will persuade her."
"I hope so, sir. I was just coming to him! I should never hold up my
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