| The Laird And The Man Of Peace |
HE LAIRD THANKED him heartily, and after a while the Dwarf became more liberal-spirited still. "Yese no have to say that ye've been with the 'Daoine Shi' and are no the better for it," he said. "I'm thinking I'll grant ye three wushes. But choose wisely, man, and dinna throw 'them' away. I hae my fears that ye're no without a bee in your bonnet, Brockburn."
Incensed by this insinuation, the Laird defended his own sagacity at some length, and retorted on his companion with doubts of the power of the 'Daoine Shi' to grant wishes.
"The proof of the pudding's in the eating o't," said the Man of Peace. "Wush away, Brockburn, and mak the nut as hard to crack as ye will."
The Laird at once began to cast about in his mind for three wishes sufficiently comprehensive to secure his lifelong prosperity; but the more he beat his brains the less could he satisfy himself.
How many miles he wandered thus, the Dwarf keeping silently beside him, he never knew, before he sank exhausted on the ground, saying:
"I'm thinking, man, that if ye could bring hame to me, in place of bringing me hame, I'd misdoubt your powers nae mair. It's a far cry to Loch Awe, ye ken, and it's a weary long road to Brockburn."
[Footnote 7: "It's a far cry to Loch Awe."--'Scotch Proverb'.]
"Is this your wush?" asked the Man of Peace.
"This is my wush," said the Laird, striking his rung upon the ground.
The words had scarcely passed his lips when the whole homestead of Brockburn, house and farm buildings, was planted upon the bleak hill-side.
The astonished Laird now began to bewail the rash wish which had removed his home from the sheltered and fertile valley where it originally stood to the barren side of a bleak mountain.
The Man of Peace, however, would not take any hints as to undoing his work of his own accord. All he said was:
"If ye wush it away, so it'll be. But then ye'll only have one wush left. Ye've small discretion the nicht, Brockburn, I'm feared."
"To leave the steading in sic a spot is no to be thought on," sighed the Laird, as he spent his second wish in undoing his first. But he cannily added the provision:
"And ye may tak me wi' it."
The words were no sooner spoken than the homestead was back in its place, and Brockburn himself was lying in his own bed, Jock, his favourite collie, barking and licking his face by turns for joy.
"Whisht, whisht, Jock!" said the Laird. "Ye wouldna bark when I begged of ye, so ye may hand your peace noo."
And pushing the collie from him, he sat up in bed and looked anxiously but vainly round the chamber for the Man of Peace.
"Lie doun, lie doun," cried the gudewife from beside him. "Ye're surely out o' your wuts, Brockburn. Would ye gang stravaging about the country again the nicht?"
"Where is he?" cried the Laird.
"There's not a soul here but your lawful wife and your ain dear doggie. Was there ae body that ye expected?" asked his wife.
"The Man o' Peace, woman!" cried Brockburn. "I've ane o' my wushes to get, and I maun hae't."
"The man's mad!" was the gudewife's comment. "Ye've surely forgotten yoursel, Brockburn. Ye never believed in the 'Daoine Shi' before."
"Seein's believin'," said the Laird. "I forgathered with a Man o' Peace the nicht on the hill, and I wush I just saw him again."
As the Laird spoke the window of the chamber was lit up from without, and the Man of Peace appeared sitting on the window-ledge in his daisy-lined cloak, his feet hanging down into the room, the silver shoes glittering as they dangled.
"I'm here, Brockburn!" he cried. "But eh, man! ye've had your last wush."
And even as the stupefied Laird gazed, the light slowly died away, and the Man of Peace vanished also.
On the following morning the Laird was roused from sleep by loud cries of surprise and admiration.
The good wife had been stirring for some hours, and in emptying the pockets of her good man's coat she had found three huge cairngorms of exquisite tint and lustre. Brockburn thus discovered the value of the gifts, half of which he had thrown away.
But no subsequent visits to the hill-side led to their recovery. Many a time did the Laird bring home a heavy pocketful of stones, at the thrifty gudewife's bidding, but they only proved to be the common stones of the mountain-side. The 'Shian' could never be distinguished from any other crag, and the 'Daoine Shi' were visible no more.
Yet it is said that the Laird of Brockburn prospered and throve thereafter, in acre, stall, and steading, as those seldom prosper who have not the good word of the People of Peace.