Scottish Sketches by Amelia E. Barr
Facing His Enemy.
So that evening the three men went in a coach to the Broomilaw together. A boat and two watermen were in waiting at the bridge-stair, and though the evening was wet and chilly they all embarked. No one spoke. The black waters washed and heaved beneath them, the myriad lights shone vaguely through the clammy mist and steady drizzle, and the roar of the city blended with the stroke of the oars and the patter of the rain. Only when they lay under the hull of a large ship was the silence broken. But it was broken by a blessing.
"God bless you, Robert! The Lord Jesus, our Redeemer, make you a gude man," said Dr. Morrison fervently, and David whispered a few broken words in his friend's ear. Then Captain Laird's voice was heard, and in a moment or two more they saw by the light of a lifted lantern Robert's white face in the middle of a group on deck.
"Farewell!" he shouted feebly, and Dr. Morrison answered it with a lusty, "God speed you, Robert! God speed the good ship and all on board of her!"
So they went silently back again, and stepped into the muddy, dreamlike, misty streets, wet through and quite weary with emotion.
"Now gude-night, David. Your uncle is waiting dinner for you. I hae learned to love you vera much."
"Is there anything I can do, doctor, to show you how much I love and respect you?"
"You can be a good man, and you can let me see you every Sabbath in your place at kirk. Heaven's gate stands wide open on the Sabbath day, David; sae it is a grand time to offer your petitions."
Yes, the good old uncle was waiting, but with that fine instinct which is born of a true love he had felt that David would like no fuss made about his return. He met him as if he had only been a few hours away, and he had so tutored Jenny that she only betrayed her joy by a look which David and she understood well.
"The little folks," said John, "have a' gane to their beds; the day has been that wet and wearisome that they were glad to gae to sleep and forget a' about it."
David sat down in his old place, and the two men talked of the Russian war and the probable storming of the Alamo. Then John took his usual after-dinner nap, and David went up stairs with Jenny and kissed his children, and said a few words to them and to the old woman, which made them all very happy.
When he returned to the parlor his uncle was still sleeping, and he could see how weary and worn he had become.
"So patient, so generous, so honorable, so considerate for my feelings," said the young man to himself. "I should be an ingrate indeed if I did not, as soon as he wakes, say what I know he is so anxious to hear."
With the thought John opened his eyes, and David nodded and smiled back to him. How alert and gladly he roused himself! How cheerily he said,
"Why, Davie, I hae been sleeping, I doot. Hech, but it is gude to see you, lad."
"Please God, uncle, it shall always be gude to see me. Can you give me some advice to-night?" "I'll be mair than glad to do it."
"Tell me frankly, Uncle John, what you think I ought to do. I saw Robert off to America to-night. Shall I follow him?"
"Davie, mind what I say. In the vera place where a man loses what he values, there he should look to find it again. You hae lost your good name in Glasgow; stay in Glasgow and find it again."
"I will stay here then. What shall I do?"
"You'll go back to your old place, and to your old business."
"But I heard that Deacon Strang had bought the looms and the lease."
"He bought them for me, for us, I mean. I will tell you how that came about. One day when I was cross, and sair put out wi' your affairs, Davie, Dr. Morrison came into my office. I'm feared I wasna glad to see him; and though I was ceevil enough, the wise man read me like a book. 'John,' says he, 'I am not come to ask you for siller to-day, nor am I come to reprove you for staying awa from the service o' God twice lately. I am come to tell you that you will hae the grandest opportunity to-day, to be, not only a man, but a Christ-man. If you let the opportunity slip by you, I shall feel sairly troubled about it.'
"Then he was gone before I could say, 'What is it?' and I wondered and wondered all day what he could hae meant. But just before I was ready to say, 'Mr. MacFarlane, lock the safe,' in walks Deacon Strang. He looked vera downcast and shamefaced, and says he, 'Callendar, you can tak your revenge on me to-morrow, for a' I hae said and done against you for thirty years. You hold twa notes o' mine, and I canna meet them. You'll hae to protest and post them to-morrow, and that will ruin me and break my heart.'
"David, I had to walk to the window and hide my face till I could master mysel', I was that astonished. Then I called out, 'Mr. MacFarlane, you hae two notes o' Deacon Strang's, bring them to me.' When he did sae, I said, 'Well, deacon, we a' o' us hae our ain fashes. How long time do you want, and we'll renew these bits o' paper?'
"And the thing was done, Davie, and done that pleasantly that it made me feel twenty years younger. We shook hands when we parted, and as we did sae, the deacon said, 'Is there aught I can do to pleasure you or David?' and a' at once it struck me about the sales o' the looms and lease. Sae I said, 'Yes, deacon, there is something you can do, and I'll be vera much obligated to you for the same. Davie is sae tied down wi' Robert's illness, will you go to the sale o' Callendar & Leslie's looms and lease, and buy them for me? You'll get them on better terms than I will.' And he did get them on excellent terms, Davie; sae your mill is just as you left it--for Bailie Nicol, wha took it at the accountant's valuation, never opened it at all. And you hae twenty months' rent paid in advance, and you hae something in the bank I expect."
"I have L3,600, uncle."
"Now, I'll be your partner this time. I'll put in the business L4,000, but I'll hae it run on a solid foundation, however small that foundation may be. I'll hae no risks taken that are dishonest risks; I'll hae a broad mark made between enterprise and speculation; and above a', I'll hae the right to examine the books, and see how things are going on, whenever I wish to do sae. We will start no more looms than our capital will work, and we'll ask credit from no one."
"Uncle John, there is not another man in the world so generous and unselfish as you are."
"There are plenty as good men in every congregation o' the Lord; if there wasna they would scatter in no time. Then you are willing, are you? Gie me your hand, Davie. I shall look to you to do your best for baith o' us."
"I have not drunk a drop for two months, uncle. I never intend to drink again."
"I hae given it up mysel'," said the old man, with an affected indifference that was pathetic in its self-abnegation. "I thought twa going a warfare together might do better than ane alone. Ye ken Christ sent out the disciples by twa and twa. And, Davie, when you are hard beset, just utter the name of Christ down in your heart, and see how much harder it is to sin."