"There's ae thing, mither," he said, entering the kitchen, covered with mud, a rabbit in one hand and a large salmon in the other, "we're no like to sterve, wi' sawmon i' the hedges, an' mappies i' the trees!" His master questioned him with no little incredulity. It was easy to believe in salmon anywhere, but rabbits in trees!
"Sanna!" she repeated contemptuously. Then, with a sudden change of her tone to one of would be friendliness "But what'll ye be seekin' for that bit sawmon trooty, man?" she said. As she spoke she approached his basket, and would have taken the fish in her hands, but Malcolm involuntarily drew back. "It's gauin' to the Hoose to my lord's brakfast," he said.
"Hoot, mon!" cried Master Pearson, loud enough to be heard through the brawling of the weir; "you have time enough to learn how to strike a `sawmon; but come, I will show you another trick, since we have joined company for the night." Saying this, he returned to the boat, and, putting on his coat and boots, produced a small lantern from his capacious horseman's pocket.
The porter came to him and said: "'Hae ye ony mind, Colonel, o' yon big fush ye slippit in the Tod Holes yon nicht? "'Oh, I mind him well, replied the Colonel; 'a good lump of a fish he was, I believe, but I never saw him rightly. "'Ay, said the other dryly; 'yon wad be the biggest sawmon that ever cam oot o' the water o' Tweed, I'm thinking.
"Ye son o' a deevil's soo!" cried the woman; "I s' hae amen's o' ye for this, gien I sud ro'st my ain hert to get it." "'Deed, but ye re duin that fine a'ready! I wonner what he thinks o sawmon troot noo! Eh, mem?" "Have done, Malcolm," said Florimel. "I am ashamed of you. If the woman is not hurt, we have no business in her house." "Hear till her!" cried Mrs Catanach contemptuously. "The woman!"
"Well, I wad rather be up ear'," said Malcolm; "a heap raither. I like fine to be oot i' the quaiet o' the mornin' afore the sun's up to set the din gaun; whan it's a' clear but no bricht like the back o' a bonny sawmon; an' air an' watter an' a' luiks as gien they war waitin' for something quaiet, verra quaiet, but no content."
No colds, quinsies or asthmas follow his incursions into the realms of fancy where in cool streams and peaceful lakes a legion of chubs and trouts and sawmon await him; in fancy he can hie away to the far-off Yalrow and once more share the benefits of the companionship of Kit North, the Shepherd, and that noble Edinburgh band; in fancy he can trudge the banks of the Blackwater with the sage of Watergrasshill; in fancy he can hear the music of the Tyne and feel the wind sweep cool and fresh o'er Coquetdale; in fancy, too, he knows the friendships which only he can know the friendships of the immortals whose spirits hover where human love and sympathy attract them.
Whaur's the gude o' greetin? It's no worth the saut i' the watter o' 't, Ma'colm. It's an ill wardle, an micht be a bonny ane gien't warna for ill men." "'Deed, mem! I'm thinkin' mair aboot ill women, at this prasent," said Malcolm. "Maybe there's no sic a thing, but yon's unco like ane. As bonny a sawmon troot 's ever ye saw, mem!
It was fortunate for me that I had my "Noctes Ambrosianae" along, for when I had exhausted my praise of the surrounding glories of nature, my bookseller would not converse with me; so I opened my book and read to him that famous passage between Kit North and the Ettrick Shepherd, wherein the shepherd discourses boastfully of his prowess as a piscator of sawmon.
Mind your lady and the poor bairns like a godly handmaiden, and I'll buy the ring when the sawmon fishing's over, and we'll just be married ere I start for the Crimee" "The sawmon!" cried Clara. "I'll see you turned into a mermaid first, and married to a sawmon!" "And ye won't do anything o' the kind," said Bowie to himself, and shouldered a valise.