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Foes   By: (1870-1936)

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Books by

Mary Johnston

Foes Sir Mortimer

Harper & Brothers, New York [Established 1817]


A Novel



Author of "To Have and to Hold" "Audrey" "Lewis Rand" "Sir Mortimer" "The Long Roll"

Harper & Brothers Publishers New York and London




Said Mother Binning: "Whiles I spin and whiles I dream. A bonny day like this I look."

English Strickland, tutor at Glenfernie House, looked, too, at the feathery glen, vivid in June sunshine. The ash tree before Mother Binning's cot overhung a pool of the little river. Below, the water brawled and leaped from ledge to ledge, but here at the head of the glen it ran smooth and still. A rose bush grew by the door and a hen and her chicks crossed in the sun. English Strickland, who had been fishing, sat on the door stone and talked to Mother Binning, sitting within with her wheel beside her.

"What is it, Mother, to have the second sight?"

"It's to see behind the here and now. Why're ye asking?"

"I wish I could buy it or slave for it!" said Strickland. "Over and over again I really need to see behind the here and now!"

"Aye. It's needed mair really than folk think. It's no' to be had by buying nor slaving. How are the laird and the leddy?"

"Why, well. Tell me," said Strickland, "some of the things you've seen with second sight."

"It taks inner ears for inner things."

"How do you know I haven't them?"

"Maybe 'tis so. Ye're liked well enough."

Mother Binning looked at the dappling water and the June trees and the bright blue sky. It was a day to loosen tongue.

"I'll tell you ane thing I saw. It's mair than twenty years since James Stewart, that was son of him who fled, wad get Scotland and England again intil his hand. So the laddie came frae overseas, and made stir and trouble enough, I tell ye!... Now I'll show you what I saw, I that was a young woman then, and washing my wean's claes in the water there. The month was September, and the year seventeen fifteen. Mind you, nane hereabouts knew yet of thae goings on!... I sat back on my heels, with Jock's sark in my hand, and a lav'rock was singing, and whiles I listened the pool grew still. And first it was blue glass under blue sky, and I sat caught. And then it was curled cloud or milk, and then it was nae color at all. And then I saw , and 'twas as though what I saw was around me. There was a town nane like Glenfernie, and a country of mountains, and a water no' like this one. There pressed a thrang of folk, and they were Hieland men and Lowland men, but mair Hieland than Lowland, and there were chiefs and chieftains and Lowland lords, and there were pipers. I heard naught, but it was as though bright shadows were around me. There was a height like a Good People's mount, and a braw fine clad lord speaking and reading frae a paper, and by him a surpliced man to gie a prayer, and there was a banner pole, and it went up high, and it had a gowd ball atop. The braw lord stopped speaking, and all the Hielandmen and Lowlandmen drew and held up and brandished their claymores and swords. The flash ran around like the levin. I kenned that they shouted, all thae gay shadows! I saw the pipers' cheeks fill with wind, and the bags of the pipes fill. Then ane drew on a fine silken rope, and up the pole there went a braw silken banner, and it sailed out in the wind. And there was mair shouting and brandishing. But what think ye might next befall? That gowden ball, gowden like the sun before it drops, that topped the pole, it fell! I marked it fall, and the heads dodge, and it rolled upon the ground.... And then all went out like a candle that you blaw upon. I was kneeling by the water, and Jock's sark in my hand, and the lav'rock singing, and that was all."

"I have heard tell of that," said Strickland. "It was near Braemar."

"And that's mony a lang league frae here! Sax days, and we had news of the rising, with the gathering at Braemar... Continue reading book >>

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