Read CHAPTER XVIII - PITY THE POOR PARENTS! of Wee Macgreegor Enlists, free online book, by J. J. Bell, on

‘It’s a peety Macgreegor didna see his intended the nicht,’ Mr. Robinson observed when his son, after a couple of hours at the parental hearth, had gone to bed, ‘but we canna help trains bein’ late.’

Mrs. Robinson felt that it was perhaps just as well the two young people had not met that night, but refrained from saying so. ’Hoo dae ye think Macgreegor’s lookin,’ John?’ she asked after a pause.

‘I didna notice onything wrang wi’ him. He hadna a great deal to say for hissel’; but that’s naething new. Queer hoo a noisy, steerin’ wean like he was, grows into a quiet, douce young man.’

‘He’s maybe no as douce as ye think,’ said Lizzie under her breath.

‘What’s that?’

‘Naething, John.’ She sighed heavily.

‘What’s wrang, wife?’

‘I was wishin’ we had a niece called Maggie. . . . I suppose it’s nae use askin’ if ye ever heard o’ Macgreegor ha’ein’ an acquaintance o’ that name.’

’Maggie? Weel, it’s no what ye would call a unique name. But what ’

‘Listen, John. When Christina was here the day, a wee paircel cam’ for Macgreegor, an’ when I opened it, there was a pair o’ socks wi’ wi’ fondest love from Maggie.’

’Hurray for Maggie!

‘But, John, Christina read the words!’

‘Oho!’ John guffawed. ‘She wudna like that eh?’

‘Man, what are ye laughin’ at? Ye ken Christina’s terrible prood.’

‘No ony prooder nor Macgreegor is o’ her. Lizzie.’

‘That’s no what I meant. Christina wud never put up wi’ Macgreegor lookin’ at anither lass.’

‘Weemen was born jealous; but it’s guid for them.’

‘John Robi’son! ha’e ye the face to tell me ye wud approve o’
Macgreegor cairryin’ on wi’ anither lass when he’s engaged to

‘Of course I wudna exac’ly approve o’ it.’ Mr. Robinson scratched his head. ‘But surely ye’re raisin’ an awfu’ excitement ower a pair o’ socks.’

‘It wasna the socks, ye stupid: it was the fondest love!’

John laughed again, but less boisterously,

’Maggie’s no blate, whaever she is. Did ye no speir at Macgreegor aboot her?’

‘Oh, man! ha’e ye nae sense?’ I jist tied up the paircel again an’ left it on his bed.’

‘Weel, that ends it,’ John said comfortably. ’But’ with a wink ’let it be a lesson to ye never to tamper wi’ yer son’s correspondence. Ye’re pretty sure to find mair nor ye expec’.’

Mrs. Robinson clasped her hands. ’Oh, dear! hoo can ye joke aboot it? What if Christina breaks her engagement.’

‘What?’ he cried, suddenly alarmed. ’Break her engagement! Surely ye dinna mean that! Did she say onything? Did she seem offended? Did she ’

’Never a word but her look was different. But whatever stupid thing the laddie may ha’e done, his heart’s set on Christina. It wud break his heart if ’

‘This is bad,’ said John, all dismayed. ’I didna think it wud be that serious. But I’ll tell ye what I’ll dae, Lizzie. I’ll gang the morn and see Christina an’ tell her ’

‘What’ll ye tell her?’

‘Dear knows! What wud ye say yersel’?’

’Neither you nor me can say onything. Macgreegor’ll ha’e to explain if he can.’

Mr. Robinson groaned, then brightened. ’I yinst had a cousin called Maggie,’ he said; ’unfortunately she’s been deid for fifteen year. Still ’

’It’s time ye was in yer bed, John. Ye canna dae onything, ma man, excep’ hope for the best.’

At dead of night




’Eh? what is ‘t, John?’

‘I was thinkin’, wife; I was thinkin’ it’s no sae bad since her name’s Maggie. Ye see, if it had been Henrietta, or Dorothea, or ’

‘Mercy! Are ye talkin’ in yer sleep?’

‘I was gaun for to say that a Henrietta an’ so forth wud be easier traced nor a Maggie, Maggies bein’ as common as wulks at Dunoon, whereas ’

‘D’ye imagine Christina oh, dinna be silly, man!’

‘But, Maggie I mean Lizzie ’

‘Oh, for ony favour gang to sleep an’ rest yer brains.’

When Macgregor, alone save for the slumbering Jimsie, had opened the parcel he muttered savagely: ‘Oh, dash it! I wish she had kep’ her rotten socks to hersel’!’ and stuffed the gift behind the chest of drawers. The message he tore into a hundred fragments. Then he went to bed and slept better, perhaps, than he deserved. He expected there would be a letter in the morning, for Christina had left no message with his mother.

But there was no letter, so, after breakfast, he made a trip to the camp on the chance, and in the hope, that one might be lying there. Another blow! Managing to dodge Willie, he hurried home to meet the second morning delivery. Nothing again! . . . His mother’s anxious questions as to his health irritated him, and he so far lost his temper as to ask his sister why she was wearing a face like a fiddle. Poor Jeannie! For half the night she had been weeping for her hero and wishing the most awful things for the unknown Maggie.

‘Ye’ll be back for yer denner, laddie?’ his mother called after him as he left the house.

‘I dinna ken,’ he replied over his shoulder.

Mrs. Robinson felt that her worst forebodings were about to be realized.

‘Never again!’ she muttered in the presence of her daughter, who was helping her with the housework.

‘What, mither?’

‘Never again will I open a paircel that’s no addressed to me.’

‘But it it might ha’e been a a fish,’ said Jeannie, who would have sought to comfort the most sinful penitent in the world. ’Some girls,’ she went on, ’dinna mean onything special by “fondest love.” They dinna mean onything mair nor “kind regairds."’

Mrs. Robinson sighed. ’I wud gi’e something if it had been a fish wi’ kind regairds. I wonder what he did wi’ the socks.’

‘I got them at the back o’ the chest o’ drawers. Weel, mither, that proves he doesna care for her.’

‘That’s no the p’int, dearie.’ Mrs. Robinson paused in her work. ‘I’m beginnin’ to think I should ha’e tell’t him aboot the paircel bein’ open when Christina was here. It’s maybe no fair to let him gang to her ’

‘I’ll run efter him,’ said Jeannie promptly. ’I’ll maybe catch him afore he gets to Miss Tod’s shop.’

‘Ay; run, Jeannie; run as quick’s ye can!’

So Jeannie threw off her apron, tidied her hair with a couple of touches, and flew as though a life depended on her speed.

And, panting, she came in sight of Miss Tod’s shop just in time just in time to see the beloved kilted figure disappear into the doorway.