THE next day, Donal put on his best coat, and went to call on the minister. Shown into the study, he saw seated there the man he had met on his first day's journey, the same who had parted from him in such displeasure. He presented his letter.
Mr. Carmichael gave him a keen glance, but uttered no word until he had read it.
|Well, young man,| he said, looking up at him with concentrated severity, |what would you have me do?|
|Tell me of any situation you may happen to know or hear of, sir,| said Donal. |That is all I could expect.|
|All!| repeated the clergyman, with something very like a sneer; | -- but what if I think that all a very great deal? What if I imagine myself set in charge over young minds and hearts? What if I know you better than the good man whose friendship for your parents gives him a kind interest in you? You little thought how you were undermining your prospects last Friday! My old friend would scarcely have me welcome to my parish one he may be glad to see out of his own! You can go to the kitchen and have your dinner -- I have no desire to render evil for evil -- but I will not bid you God-speed. And the sooner you take yourself out of this, young man, the better!|
|Good morning, sir!| said Donal, and left the room.
On the doorstep he met a youth he had known by sight at the university: it was the minister's son -- the worst-behaved of all the students. Was this a case of the sins of the father being visited on the child? Does God never visit the virtues of the father on the child?
A little ruffled, and not a little disappointed, Donal walked away. Almost unconsciously he took the road to the castle, and coming to the gate, leaned on the top bar, and stood thinking.
Suddenly, down through the trees came Davie bounding, pushed his hand through between the bars, and shook hands with him.
|I have been looking for you all day,| he said.
|Why?| asked Donal.
|Forgue sent you a letter.|
|I have had no letter.|
|Eppy took it this morning.|
|Ah, that explains! I have not been home since breakfast.|
|It was to say my father would like to see you.|
|I will go and get it: then I shall know what to do.|
|Why do you live there? The cobbler is a dirty little man! Your clothes will smell of leather!|
|He is not dirty,| said Donal. |His hands do get dirty -- very dirty with his work -- and his face too; and I daresay soap and water can't get them quite clean. But he will have a nice earth-bath one day, and that will take all the dirt off. And if you could see his soul -- that is as clean as clean can be -- so clean it is quite shining!|
|Have you seen it?| said the boy, looking up at Donal, unsure whether he was making game of him, or meaning something very serious.
|I have had a glimpse or two of it. I never saw a cleaner. -- You know, my dear boy, there's a cleanness much deeper than the skin!|
|I know!| said Davie, but stared as if he wondered he would speak of such things.
Donal returned his gaze. Out of the fullness of his heart his eyes shone. Davie was reassured.
|Can you ride?| he asked.
|Yes, a little.|
|Who taught you?|
|An old mare I was fond of.|
|Ah, you are making game of me! I do not like to be made game of,| said Davie, and turned away.
|No indeed,| replied Donal. |I never make game of anybody. -- But now I will go and find the letter.|
|I would go with you,| said the boy, |but my father will not let me beyond the grounds. I don't know why.|
Donal hastened home, and found himself eagerly expected, for the letter young Eppy had brought was from the earl. It informed Donal that it would give his lordship pleasure to see him, if he would favour him with a call.
In a few minutes he was again on the road to the castle.