"Closer, and I'll whisper." The little ear, peeping from its nest of brown, was tremblingly approached to his lips. The little man lent forward and whispered one short, sharp word, then sat back, grinning, to watch the effect of his disclosure.
He had his revenge, an unworthy revenge on such a victim. And, watching the girl's face, the cruel disappointment merging in the heat of her indignation, he had yet enough nobility to regret his triumph.
She sprang from him as though he were unclean.
"An' yo' his father!" she cried, in burning tones.
She crossed the room, and at the door paused. Her face was white again and she was quite composed.
"If David did strike you, you drove him to it," she said, speaking in calm, gentle accents. "Yo' know, none so well, whether yo've bin a good feyther to him, and him no mither, poor laddie! whether yo've bin to him what she'd ha' had yo' be. Ask yer conscience, Mr. M'Adam. An' if he was a wee aggravatin' at times, had he no reason? He'd a heavy cross to bear, had David, and yo' know best if yo' helped to ease it for him."
The little man pointed to the door; but the girl paid no heed.
"D'yo' think when yo' were cruel to him, jeerin' and fleerin', he never felt it, because he was too proud to show ye? He'd a big saft heart, had David, beneath the varnish. Mony's the time when mither was alive, I've seen him throw himsel' into her arms, sobbin', and cry, 'Eh, if I had but mither! 'Twas different when mither was alive; he was kinder to me then. An' noo I've no one; I'm alone.' An' he'd sob and sob in mither's arms, and she, weepin' hersel', would comfort him, while he, wee laddie, would no be comforted, cryin' broken-like, 'There's none to care for me noo; I'm alone. Mither's left me and eh! I'm prayin' to be wi' her!'