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- The Lilac Sunbonnet - 1/56 -


THE LILAC SUNBONNET

A LOVE STORY

BY S. R. CROCKETT

AUTHOR OF THE STICKIT MINISTER, THE RAIDERS, ETC.

CONTENTS.

PROLOGUE.--BY THE WAYSIDE I.--THE BLANKET-WASHING II.--THE MOTHER OF KING LEMUEL III.--A TREASURE-TROVE IV.--A CAVALIER PURITAN V.--A LESSON IN BOTANY VI.--CURLED EYELASHES VII.--CONCERNING TAKING EXERCISE VIII.--THE MINISTER'S MAN ARMS FOR CONQUEST IX.--THE ADVENT OF THE CUIF X.--THE LOVE-SONG OF THE MAVIS XI.--ANDREW KISSOCK GOES TO SCHOOL XII.--MIDSUMMER DAWN XIII.--A STRING OF THE LILAC SUNBONNET XIV.--CAPTAIN AGNEW GREATORIX XV.--ON THE EDGE OF THE ORCHARD XVI.--THE CUIF BEFORE THE SESSION XVII.--WHEN THE KYE COMES HAME XVIII.--A DAUGHTER OF THE PlCTS XIX.--AT THE BARN END XX.-"DARK-BROWED EGYPT" XXI.--THE RETURN OF EBIE FARRISH XXII.--A SCARLET POPPY XXIII.--CONCERNING JOHN BAIRDIESON XXIV.--LEGITIMATE SPORT XXV.--BARRIERS BREAKING XXVI.--SUCH SWEET PERIL XXVII.--THE OPINIONS OF SAUNDERS MOWDIEWORT UPON BESOM-SHANKS XXVIII.--THAT GIPSY JESS XXIX.--THE DARK OF THE MOON AT THE GRANNOCH BRIDGE XXX.--THE HILL GATE XXXI.--THE STUDY OF THE MANSE OF DULLARG XXXII.--OUTCAST AND ALIEN FROM THE COMMONWEALTH XXXIII.--JOCK GORDON TAKES A HAND XXXIV.--THE DEW OF THEIR YOUTH XXXV.--SUCH SWEET SORROW XXXVI.--OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY XXXVII.--UNDER THE RED HEATHER XXXVIII.--BEFORE THE REFORMER'S CHAIR XXXIX.--JEMIMA, KEZIA, AND LITTLE KEREN-HAPPUCH XL.--A TRIANGULAR CONVERSATION XLI.--THE MEETING OF THE SYNOD XLII.--PURGING AND RESTORATION XLIII.--THREADS DRAWN TOGETHER XLIV.--WINSOME'S LAST TRYST XLV.--THE LAST OF THE LILAC SUNBONNET

PROLOGUE.

BY THE WAYSIDE

As Ralph Peden came along the dusty Cairn Edward road from the coach which had set him down there on its way to the Ferry town, he paused to rest in the evening light at the head of the Long Wood of Larbrax. Here, under boughs that arched the way, he took from his shoulders his knapsack, filled with Hebrew and Greek books, and rested his head on the larger bag of roughly tanned Westland leather, in which were all his other belongings. They were not numerous. He might, indeed, have left both his bags for the Dullarg carrier on Saturday, but to lack his beloved books for four days was not to be thought of for a moment by Ralph Peden. He would rather have carried them up the eight long miles to the manse of the Dullarg one by one.

As he sat by the tipsy milestone, which had swayed sidelong and lay half buried amid the grass and dock leaves, a tall, dark girl came by--half turning to look at the young man as he rested. It was Jess Kissock, from the Herd's House at Craig Ronald, on her way home from buying trimmings for a new hat. This happened just twice a year, and was a solemn occasion.

"Is this the way to the manse of Dullarg?" asked the young man, standing up with his hat in his hand, the brim just beneath his chin. He was a handsome young man when he stood up straight.

Jess looked at him attentively. They did not speak in that way in her country, nor did they take their hats in their hands when they had occasion to speak to young women.

"I am myself going past the Dullarg," she said, and paused with a hiatus like an invitation.

Ralph Peden was a simple young man, but he rose and shouldered his knapsack without a word. The slim, dark-haired girl with the bright, quick eyes like a bird, put out her hand to take a share of the burden of Ralph's bag.

"Thank you, but I am quite able to manage it myself," he said, "I could not think of letting you put your hand to it."

"I am not a fine lady," said the girl, with a little impatient movement of her brows, as if she had stamped her foot. "I am nothing but a cottar's lassie."

"But then, how comes it that you speak as you do?" asked Ralph.

"I have been long in England--as a lady's maid," she answered with a strange, disquieting look at him. She had taken one side of the bag of books in spite of his protest, and now walked by Ralph's side through the evening coolness.

"This is the first time you have been hereaway?" his companion asked.

Ralph nodded a quick affirmative and smiled.

"Then," said Jess Kissock, the rich blood mantling her dark cheeks, "I am the first from the Dullarg you have spoken to!"

"The very first!" said Ralph.

"Then I am glad," said Jess Kissock. But in the young man's heart there was no answering gladness, though in very sooth she was an exceeding handsome maid.

CHAPTER I.

THE BLANKET-WASHING.

Ralph Peden lay well content under a thorn bush above the Grannoch water. It was the second day of his sojourning in Galloway--the first of his breathing the heather scent on which the bees grew tipsy, and of listening to the grasshoppers CHIRRING in the long bent by the loch side. Yesterday his father's friend, Allan Welsh, minister of the Marrow kirk in the parish of Dullarg, had held high discourse with him as to his soul's health, and made many inquiries as to how it sped in the great city with the precarious handful of pious folk, who gathered to listen to the precious and savoury truths of the pure Marrow teaching. Ralph Peden was charged with many messages from his father, the metropolitan Marrow minister, to Allan Welsh--dear to his soul as the only minister who had upheld the essentials on that great day, when among the assembled Presbyters so many had gone backward and walked no more with him.

"Be faithful with the young man, my son," Allan Welsh read in the quaintly sealed and delicately written letter which his brother minister in Edinburgh had sent to him, and which Ralph had duly delivered in the square, grim manse of Dullarg, with a sedate and old-fashioned reverence which sat strangely on one of his years. "Be faithful with the young man," continued the letter; "he is well grounded on the fundamentals; his head is filled with godly lear, and he has sound views on the Headship; but he has always been a little cold and distant even to me, his father according to the flesh. With his companions he is apt to be distant and reserved. I am to blame for the solitude of our life here in James's Court, but to you I do not need to tell the reason of that. The Lord give you his guidance in leading the young man in the right way."

So far Gilbert Peden's letter had run staidly and in character like the spoken words of the writer. But here it broke off. The writing, hitherto fine as a hair, thickened; and from this point became crowded and difficult, as though the floods of feeling had broken some dam. "O man Allan, for my sake, if at all you have loved me, or owe me anything, dig deep and see if the lad has a heart. He shews it not to me."

So that is why Ralph Peden lies couched in the sparce bells of the ling, just where the dry, twisted timothy grasses are beginning to overcrown the purple bells of the heather. Tall and clean-limbed, with a student's pallor of clear-cut face, a slightly ascetic stoop, dark brown curls clustering over a white forehead, and eyes which looked steadfast and true, the young man was sufficient of a hero. He wore a broad straw hat, which he had a pleasant habit of pushing back, so that his clustering locks fell over his brow after a fashion which all women thought becoming. But Ralph Peden heeded not what women thought, said, or did, for he was trysted to the kirk of the Marrow, the sole repertory of orthodox truth in Scotland, which is as good as saying in the wide world--perhaps even in the universe.

Ralph Peden had dwelt all his life with his father in an old house in James's Court, Edinburgh, overlooking the great bounding circle


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