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into the house.
his mouth and turned to go "For Scotland! Ah, nonsense! What notion is this you took? Put back the things this minute, now."
"What are you looking now?" Robert asked sharply. "I was thinking I would. write a letter to Mr Guthrie to see would he be wanting me this harvest."
Robert swung round with a gesture of angry impatience, as if refusing to argue with a troublesome child.
"Ach, go to pot!" he said; and with that he strode away down the lane.
Johnny did not follow, but paused for a space looking at the retreating figure. His face was dour and stubborn. Then he turned again to enter; and, as he did, his mother came out of the house with food for the pigs.
"Give me the key of the box," he said.
Manners are curt in Ulster; Annie Corscadden was active bustling woman, and, without more words, she handed him the key of the chest in which were kept all the household's less often used possessions. When she came back, after a quarter of an hour spent in byre and pigstye, she found Johnny dressed in his Sunday clothes, tying up a bundle in a red and green handkerchief.
"Save us, Johnny, what are you doing with them on you?" she said.
The boy did not turn his face to her. "I'm for Scotland," he answered.
Annie put down suddenly the bucket which she carried, and caught her hand to her breast. Then she recovered herself.
She ran over to him and tried to snatch away the bundle. But the boy thrust her aside, and, knotting the ends of the handkerchief, he lifted it in his hand.
"Quit talking," he said. "I'm for Scotland this day." "And did you tell Robert this?" she asked, her voice still pitched to scolding.
"Never mind Robert," the boy answered, sullen as a snarling dog.
Quickly Annie's tone changed. "Sure, I know all about it now. You and your father had some fall-out. Ah, be sensible now, Johnny. You wouldn't do the like of that—to ask to go away and leave us with the throng time coming. Who's to help Robert? Sure you know old John can't do a hand's turn.”
"How did he do before? Didn't you send me to Scotland the other time? And didn't I send back the money I earned?"
Johnny's eyes were flaming, and stubborn lines showed about his mouth. His mother's face was written over with a conflict of feelings. Unable to command, unable to let him go, she tried persuasion, yet with little confidence.
"You did so, Johnny," she said. "No boy could do more than you did, when we asked you. But why would you go now, and vex us?"
"It's because I'm a man there and I'm a slave here, and that's the long and the short
it you when I have it earned, and more to it."
But at that the instinct of parental authority rose again, outraged in Annie.
Indeed, then, and I'll do no such thing. Go back to the field, I tell you," she cried, breaking again into anger. "I never heard the like of it,— you to go off and not say as much as goodbye to your father."
Johnny's lips knit tight and his cheeks flushed.
"If you don't give it me," he said, "I'll go to the shop and borrow it off them, and tell them you were afraid I'd steal it. They won't be frightened to trust me, I'm thinking. And a good name that will leave on you in the country."
Annie's eyes filled with tears. "You wouldn't do the like of that, Johnny."
"I would, then, if you drove me to it, and wouldn't trust me with a pound or two."
"Indeed, then, it's not for the money I'm frightened," cried
Annie, breaking into sobs. "You may have the money, since you force me, but I doubt it's little good will go with it. I wouldn't believe it of you, Johnny, to go away and leave your father without help. What way will he get the crops in, with wee Annie out at service and the other childer too young to labour?"
"If he has more nor he can work, let him set a field of it. There's plenty would take it. The crops are in the ground. Let him sell them in the ground."
“Well you know your father
would never do the like of that."
'Why wouldn't he? Many another man does it. But let him mind his own business. Give me the money now, mother, and don't be keeping me."
With a sad heart Annie fetched the couple of sovereigns from her store and gave them to the boy. "And may God forgive me if I'm doing wrong," she said. With a heavy heart she kissed him; with a heavy heart she watched him walk down the lane; and with a heavy heart she waited for his father's coming.
Robert came back to his dinner looking fatigued and vexed. "What came on Johnny that he wasn't back in the field?" he asked.
Then Annie told him the story of what had happened. Robert was deeply moved.
"To think now he would do the like of that," he said at last. "It's not for his leaving me I would mind so bad though the dear knows, it's bad enough. But for him to go off without a word. I knew no more of what he was doing nor the cattle."
Annie seized the opening to make an appeal. Yet even as she pleaded, the certainty of rebuff was written in her eyes.
"Surely now, Robert, you'll follow him and bring him back. The boat won't be leaving, maybe, till the morrow. Ah, Robert, go now, and he won't refuse you!"
But Robert's face set hard, and a new bitterness came into his voice.
"I will not," he said. "If he wants to go, let him. Maybe I done wrong to keep him. Maybe he's right. Maybe he's better to be a labourer in Scotland nor a farmer's son in this country. We must just shift without him. But the dear God knows how we'll do it. We're back again in the ditch, the very time I thought we had the road clear before us. What does Johnny care, though? He can make his own way, he's a good workman, I taught him. What need he care?"
"Ah, now, Robert," Annie broke in, "don't be hard on the boy. He gave thought to it, surely. Maybe you mightn't hold with what he thought, but he had a plan made out.
"And what plan was that?"
"For you to set the crop that is down in the fields, and let you get in yourself what you could."
Robert's face grew as dark as thunder-clouds.
"Is that the plan, then? Well he knew, and well you know, that I would sooner kill myself mowing and carting. Is there no pride in him, that he would let strangers in on the farm that we wrought to keep for him since he was born, and before he was born? Next year it would be a field I would let— to strangers that would abuse the land-and what would he care?"
"Ah, sit down out of that and take your tea," said Annie half crying, as she pushed her man to a seat. "Sit down and don't be standing up there and working yourself into a rage about notions poor Johnny
never gave a thought to. He's nothing of it," said Annie, still not like you, all for pondering and reading, and planning away far beyond you. But he's a good, decent, steady boy, and it's my belief he'll send us his earnings just the same as he did before. He's not like a son that would drink or spend money reckless. It's just you that are too stubborn and he that is too stubborn. Take your potatoes now: there's the milk to them. Johnny 'll get better than potatoes where he's going."
"Ay," said Robert, "and that's the truth. Why would he stay when the land won't afford a meal of meat to them that work it. What had he ever but slavery and hardship? And if I could leave the farm clear to him, itself, what would he make out of it but slavery?" "Ah, what nonsense," Annie cried. "You have yourself worn out on the land, and sickened with it, like. But if you had the chance Johnny has, the time you and me was young, mind me now, you would have thought yourself well off. Ay, and there's many a one yet would think him well off. Troth, and I'm not sorry to have him out of the way of some of them that would be glad to get him for their lump of a girl. And Johnny's that soft he would be easy taken in." Annie scoured a pan with great vehemence while she spoke, and Robert looked at her with open surprise.
"What's this now?" he said. "I heard nothing of this. Sure the boy's a boy yet."
"Ay, to be sure, you heard
working with vicious energy. "And you saw nothing-nor wouldn't see if it was under your nose. Wasn't Johnny for ever slipping away to that mountainy place of the M'Cormicks, and what would take him there, will you tell me?" "Woman, dear, have you no It was to buy his dirty tobacco he was dodging up there-and many's the time I checked him.-Well, he may smoke his fill now," Robert added angrily. "Give me my cup of tea."
"Ay," said Annie, lifting the teapot from where it stood stewing, "and do you know now, Robert, it's that, and the like of that, he's gone for. You could never see he wasn't the same kind as yourself. He's a man grown, and full of foolishness the same as any other young man."
"Well, now," said Robert, as he gulped his hot tea, "it's little enough a man knows of his own son, and him working beside him in the fields since he was that high. I never thought, any way, Johnny would throw one look to the girls. He was backward like.”
"Ay, indeed, backward!" said Annie. "Backward enough when you or me would be there. But if there was one leading him on―
"Surely to God it's not Jimmy M'Cormick's Mary you're talking about now, Annie," said Robert, pushing away his plate. "A decent wee girl she is, and always was friendly with Johnny since she was herding for Pat M'Daid
over by. But what are they, only a pair of childer."
"Childer or no," said Annie, catching up her pot of potatoes with an angry jerk, "there's them would like to put notions in Johnny's head. And that would be a fine thing to see him to marry with a girl that was out herding for a common man, and her a child."
Robert rose and stretched himself wearily, as he prepared to go out.
"There's no call for you to vex yourself now, any way," he said. "Maybe it might be better if there was. But I've no call to stand talking, with my work to do, and his to the back of it. It's a black day, God knows."
For a matter of three miles Johnny Corscadden tramped stoutly up the main road which was leading him to the distant railway station. But when he reached a divergent path or cart track, roughly metalled, that pointed away to the heathy hills on his right, he paused, hesitated a moment, then struck up it.
For half an hour he walked hurriedly, looking self-conscious as he passed one cottage after another on the wayside, and here and there folk recognised and greeted him. At last he sighted a cabin, enclosed in bushes, and standing a little back from the road. Over the door in wavering letters was the legend stating that James M'Cormick was licensed to sell groceries. In the window was the usual jar of cheap sweets, making a patch of colour among the drab miscellany of objects offered for sale. Johnny looked at the door from a distance it seemed to repel rather than attract him. Then
suddenly his eye caught something. Scrambling across the bank which enclosed a field of
poor pasture, he walked up the hill to where he had espied, on another fence, a dark-haired girl sitting bareheaded, with her eyes mechanically following the motions of two or three meagre cows as they explored round the outskirts of the tillage, constantly threatening raids on a field of young oats.
"How's Johnny?" she said, raising her voice in the habitual greeting. Then, as she noted his clothes and bundle, "Where are you for this day?"
Her eyes had a touch of anxiety in them which did not fit the careless tone.
"For Scotland," Johnny answered, with some embarrassment.
"I wish you good luck," she said. "Dear, oh, but that's sudden. There wasn't the talk about it this time there was before."
"I'll wager, now, Mary, you're put out with me for not telling you," said the boy, with an awkward laugh.
"'Deed, then, why would I be put out?" cried Mary, with a toss of her head. "What call have I to know if you go