THE BADGE OF THE FOURTH FOOT
"Just hold your tongue, laddie, and let me get reading my book," interrupted the grandfather petulantly. "You're aye putting in your word. A body can do no reading with such chatter for ever dinging in his ears."
"There it is again!" cried Colin, not heeding the old man's complaint. "It was some one hammering at the castle door."
"Hoots, bairn. Who would be out travelling and knocking at folk's doors on a night like this?"
Colin approached the hearth and leaned his arm against the cheek of the chimney, staring into the glowing fire.
"It was some one on horseback," said he; "I heard the horse's hoofs on the stones just before you said 'What a night it is!'"
Sir Donald Leslie continued reading under the dim light of the lamp that hung above his head. Presently Elspeth Macdonald left the room on tiptoe, closing the door behind her. Colin applied himself to casting a new log upon the fire. Regardless of his grandfather, he began to whistle the lightsome air of a certain Jacobite song. Soon his whistling changed into the song itself and he chanted, half under his breath, the words—
"Oh, Charlie is my darling,
Suddenly a fluttering book flew past his curly head.
"How dare you? How dare you sing that accursed Jacobite song in my hearing?" cried his grandfather, red with rage. "Have I not told you a hundred times that I'll have none of your rebel rantings in my house?"
"I meant no harm, grandfather," said Colin, picking up the book and placing it on the corner of the table near the old man's elbow, "I was not thinking of the meaning of the words."