The Marquis of Lossie/Chapter VI

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The Marquis of Lossie - Chapter VI
by George MacDonald



He was interrupted by the sudden opening of the door and the voice of the factor in exultant wrath. "MacPhail!" it cried, "come out with you. Don't think to sneak there. I know you. What right have you to be on the premises? Didn't I turn you about your business this morning?"

"Ay, sir, but ye didna pey me my wages," said Malcolm, who had sprung to the door, and now stood holding it half shut, while Mr. Crathie pushed it half open.

"No matter. You're nothing better than a housebreaker if you enter any building about the place."

"I brak nae lock," returned Malcolm: "I hae the key my lord gae me to ilka place 'ithin the wa' excep' the strongroom."

"Give it me directly: I'm master here now."

"'Deed, I s' du nae sic thing, sir. What he gae me I'll keep."

"Give up that key, or I'll go at once and get a warrant against you for theft."

"Weel, we s' refar 't to Maister Soutar."

"Damn your impudence — 'at I sud say 't! — what has he to do with my affairs? Come out of that directly."

"Huly, huly, sir!" returned Malcolm, in terror lest he should discover who was with him.

"You low-bred rascal! who have you there with you?"

As he spoke, Mr. Crathie would have forced his way into the dusky chamber, where he could just perceive a motionless, undefined form. But, stiff as a statue, Malcolm kept his stand, and the door was immovable. Mr. Crathie gave a second and angrier push, but the youth's corporeal as well as mental equilibrium was hard to upset, and his enemy drew back in mounting fury.

"Get out of there," he cried, "or I'll horsewhip you for a damned blackguard!"

"Whip awa'," said Malcolm, "but in here ye s' no come the nicht."

The factor rushed at him, his heavy whip upheaved, and the same moment found himself, not in the room, but lying on the flower-bed in front of it. Malcolm instantly stepped out, locked the door, put the key in his pocket and turned to assist him. But he was up already, and busy with words unbefitting the mouth of an elder of the kirk.

"Didna I say 'at ye sudna come in, sir? What for wull fowk no tak a tellin'? " expostulated Malcolm.

But the factor was far beyond force of logic or illumination of reason. He raved and swore. "Get out o' my sicht," he cried, "or I'll shot ye like a tyke."

"Gang an' fess yer gun," said Malcolm, "an' gien ye fin' me waitin' for ye, ye can lat at me."

The factor uttered a horrible imprecation on himself if he did not make him pay dearly for his behavior.

"Hoots, sir! Be ashamet o' yersel'. Gang hame to the mistress, an' I s' be up the morn's mornin' for my wages."

"If you set foot on the grounds again I'll set every dog in the place upon you."

Malcolm laughed: "Gien I war to turn the order the ither gait, wad they min' you or me, div ye think, Maister Crathie?"

"Give me that key, and go about your business."

"Na, na, sir! What my lord gae me I s' keep, for a' the factors atween this an' the Lan's En'," returned Malcolm. "An' for lea'in' the place, gien I be nae in your service, Maister Crathie, I'm nae un'er your orders. I'll gang whan it shuits me. An' mair yet: ye s' gang oot o' this first, or I s' gar ye, an' that ye'll see."

It was a violent proceeding, but for a matter of manners he was not going to risk what of her good name poor Lizzy had left: like the books of the Sibyl, that grew in value. He made, however, but one threatful stride toward the factor, when the great man turned and fled.

The moment he was out of sight Malcolm unlocked the door, led Lizzy put, and brought her safely through the tunnel to the sands. Then he turned his face to Scaurnose.