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´╗┐Title: Freaks on the Fells - Three Months' Rustication
Author: Ballantyne, R. M. (Robert Michael), 1825-1894
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Freaks on the Fells - Three Months' Rustication" ***

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FREAKS ON THE FELLS, BY R.M. BALLANTYNE.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 1.

MR SUDBERRY IN HIS COUNTING-HOUSE.

Mr John Sudberry was a successful London merchant.  He was also a fat
little man.  Moreover, he was a sturdy little man, wore spectacles, and
had a smooth bald head, over which, at the time we introduce him to the
reader, fifty summers had passed, with their corresponding autumns,
winters, and springs.  The passage of so many seasons over him appeared
to have exercised a polishing influence on the merchant, for Mr
Sudberry's cranium shone like a billiard-ball.  In temperament Mr
Sudberry was sanguine, and full of energy.  He could scarcely have been
a successful merchant without these qualities.  He was also extremely
violent.

Now, it is necessary here to guard the reader from falling into a
mistake in reference to Mr Sudberry's character.  We have said that he
was violent, but it must not be supposed that he was _passionate_.  By
no means.  He was the most amiable and sweet-tempered of men.  His
violence was owing to physical rather than mental causes.  He was hasty
in his volitions, impulsive in his actions, madly reckless in his
personal movements.  His moral and physical being was capable of only
two conditions--deep repose or wild activity.

At his desk Mr Sudberry was wont to sit motionless like a statue, with
his face buried in his hands and his thoughts busy.  When these thoughts
culminated, he would start as if he had received an electric shock,
seize a pen, and, with pursed lips and frowning brows, send it careering
over the paper with harrowing rapidity, squeaking and chirping, (the
pen, not the man), like a small bird with a bad cold.  Mr Sudberry used
quills.  He was a _tremendous_ writer.  He could have reported the
debates of the "House" in long-hand.

The merchant's portrait is not yet finished.  He was a peculiar man, and
men of this sort cannot be sketched off in a few lines.  Indeed, had he
not been a peculiar man, it would not have been worth while to drag him
thus prominently into notice.

Among other peculiarities in Mr Sudberry's character, he was afflicted
with a chronic tendency to _dab_ his pen into the ink-bottle and split
it to the feather, or double up its point so as to render it
unserviceable.  This infirmity, coupled with an uncommon capacity for
upsetting ink-bottles, had induced him to hire a small clerk, whose
principal duties were to mend pens, wipe up ink, and, generally, to
attend to the removal of _debris_.

When Mr Sudberry slept he did it profoundly.  When he awoke he did it
with a start and a stare, as if amazed at having caught himself in the
very act of indulging in such weakness.  When he washed he puffed, and
gasped, and rubbed, and made such a noise, that one might have supposed
a walrus was engaged in its ablutions.  How the skin of his head, face,
and neck stood the towelling it received is incomprehensible!  When he
walked he went like an express train; when he sauntered he relapsed into
the slowest possible snail's-pace, but he did not graduate the changes
from one to the other.  When he sat down he did so with a crash.  The
number of chairs which Mr Sudberry broke in the course of his life
would have filled a goodly-sized concert-room; and the number of
tea-cups which he had swept off tables with the tails of his coat might,
we believe, have set up a moderately ambitious man in the china trade.

There was always a beaming smile on the merchant's countenance, except
when he was engaged in deep thought; then his mouth was pursed and his
brows knitted.

The small clerk was a thin-bodied, weak-minded, timid boy, of about
twelve years of age and of humble origin.  He sat at Mr Sudberry's
double desk in the office, opposite and in dangerous proximity to his
master, whom he regarded with great admiration, alarm, and awe.

On a lovely afternoon towards the middle of May, when city men begin to
thirst for a draught of fresh air, and to long for an undignified roll
on the green fields among primroses, butter-cups, and daisies, Mr
Sudberry sat at his desk reading the advertisements in the _Times_.

Suddenly he flung the paper away, hit the desk a sounding blow with his
clinched fist, and exclaimed firmly--

"I'll do it!"

Accustomed though he was to nervous shocks, the small clerk leaped with
more than ordinary tremor off his stool on this occasion, picked up the
paper, laid it at his master's elbow, and sat down again, prepared to
look out--nautically speaking--for more squalls.

Mr Sudberry seized a quill, dabbed it into the ink-bottle, and split
it.  Seizing another he dabbed again; the quill stood the shock; the
small clerk ventured a sigh of relief and laid aside the inky napkin
which he had pulled out of his desk expecting an upset, and prepared for
the worst.  A note was dashed off in two minutes,--signed, sealed,
addressed, in half a minute, and Mr Sudberry leaped off his stool.  His
hat was thrown on his head by a species of sleight of hand, and he
appeared in the outer office suddenly, like a stout Jack-in-the-box.

"I'm away, Mr Jones," (to his head clerk), "and won't be back till
eleven to-morrow morning.  Have you the letters ready?  I am going round
by the post-office, and will take charge of them."

"They are here, sir," said Mr Jones, in a mild voice.

Mr Jones was a meek man, with a red nose and a humble aspect.  He was a
confidential clerk, and much respected by the firm of Sudberry and
Company.  In fact, it was generally understood that the business could
not get on without him.  His caution was a most salutary counteractive
to Mr Sudberry's recklessness.  As for "Co," he was a sleeping partner,
and an absolute nonentity.

Mr Sudberry seized the letters and let them fall, picked them up in
haste, thrust them confusedly into his pocket, and rushed from the room,
knocking over the umbrella-stand in his exit.  The sensation left in the
office was that of a dead calm after a sharp squall.  The small clerk
breathed freely, and felt that his life was safe for that day.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 2.

MR SUDBERRY AT HOME.

"My dear," cried Mr Sudberry to his wife, abruptly entering the parlour
of his villa, near Hampstead Heath, "I have done the deed!"

"Dear John, you _are_ so violent; my nerves--really--_what_ deed?" said
Mrs Sudberry, a weak-eyed, delicate woman, of languid temperament, and
not far short of her husband's age.

"I have written off to secure a residence in the Highlands of Scotland
for our summer quarters this season."

Mrs Sudberry stared in mute surprise.  "John! my dear! are you in
earnest?  Have you not been precipitate in this matter?  You know, love,
that I have always trusted in your prudence to make arrangements for the
spending of our holiday; but really, when I think--"

"Well, my dear, `When you think,'--pray, go on."

"Don't be hasty, dear John; you know I have never objected to any place
you have hitherto fixed on.  Herne Bay last year was charming, and the
year before we enjoyed Margate _so_ much.  Even Worthing, though rather
too long a journey for a family, was delightful; and, as the family was
smaller then, we got over the journey on the whole better than could
have been expected.  But Scotland!--the Highlands!"--Mr Sudberry's look
at this point induced his wife to come to a full stop.  The look was not
a stern look,--much less a savage look, as connubial looks sometimes
are.  It was an aggrieved look; not that he was aggrieved at the dubious
reception given by his spouse to the arrangement he had made;--no, the
sore point in his mind was that he himself entertained strong doubts, as
to the propriety of what he had done; and to find these doubts reflected
in the mind of his faithful better half was perplexing.

"Well, Mary," said the worthy merchant, "go on.  Do you state the
_cons_, and I'll enumerate the _pros_, after which we will close the
account, and see on which side the balance lies."

"You know, dear," said Mrs Sudberry, in a remonstrative tone, "that the
journey is fearfully long.  I almost tremble when I think of it.  To be
sure, we have the railroad to Edinburgh now; but beyond that we shall
have to travel by stage, I suppose, at least I hope so; but perhaps they
have no stage-coaches in Scotland?"

"Oh, yes, they have a few, I believe," replied the merchant, with a
smile.

"Ah! that is fortunate; for wagons are fearfully trying.  No, I really
think that I could _not_ stand a wagon journey after my experience of
the picnic at Worthing some years ago.  Think of our large family--seven
of us altogether--in a wagon, John--"

"But you forget, I said that there _are_ stage-coaches in Scotland."

"Well; but think of the slow and wearisome travelling among great
mountains, over precipices, and through Scotch mists.  Lady Knownothing
assures me she has been told that the rain never ceases in Scotland,
except for a short time in autumn, just to give the scanty crops time to
ripen.  You know, dear, that our darling Jacky's health could never
stand the Scotch mists, he is so _very_, delicate."

"Why, Mary!" exclaimed Mr Sudberry, abruptly; "the doctor told me only
yesterday that for a boy of five years old he was a perfect marvel of
robust health--that nothing ailed him, except the result of over-eating
and the want of open-air exercise; and I am sure that I can testify to
the strength of his legs and the soundness of his lungs; for he kicks
like a jackass, and roars like a lion."

"It is _very_ wrong, _very_ sinful of the doctor," said Mrs Sudberry,
in a languidly indignant manner, "to give such a false report of the
health of our darling boy."

At this moment the door burst open, and the "darling boy" rushed into
the room--with a wild cheer of defiance at his nurse, from whom he had
escaped, and who was in full pursuit--hit his head on the corner of the
table, and fell flat on the floor, with a yell that might have sent a
pang of jealousy to the heart of a Chippeway Indian!

Mr Sudberry started up, and almost overturned the tea-table in his
haste; but before he could reach his prostrate son, nurse had him
kicking in her arms, and carried him off howling.

"Darling child!" said Mrs Sudberry, with her hand on her heart.  "How
you do startle me, John, with your violence!  That is the fifteenth
tea-cup this week."

The good lady pointed to a shattered member of the set that lay on the
tray beside her.

"I have just ordered a new set, my dear," said her husband, in a subdued
voice.  "Our poor dear boy would benefit, I think, by mountain air.  But
go on with the _cons_."

"Have I not said enough?" replied Mrs Sudberry, with an injured look.
"Besides, they have no food in Scotland."

This was a somewhat staggering assertion.  The merchant looked
astonished.

"At least," pursued his wife, "they have nothing, I am told, but
oatmeal.  Do you imagine that Jacky could live on oatmeal?  Do you
suppose that your family would return to London in a condition fit to be
looked at, after a summer spent on food such as we give to our horses?
No doubt you will tell me they have plenty of milk,--buttermilk, I
suppose, which I abhor.  But do you think that I could live with
pleasure on sawdust, just because I had milk to take to it?"

"But milk implies cream, my dear," interposed the merchant, "and
buttermilk implies butter, and both imply cows, which are strong
presumptive evidence in favour of beef.  Besides--"

"Don't talk to me, Mr Sudberry.  _I_ know better; and Lady Knownothing,
who went to Scotland last year, in the most unprejudiced state of mind,
came back absolutely horrified by what she had seen.  Why, she actually
tells me that the natives still wear the kilt!  The very day she passed
through Edinburgh she met five hundred men without trousers!  To be
sure, they had guns on their shoulders, and someone told her they were
soldiers; but the sight was so appalling that she could not get rid of
the impression; she shut her eyes, and ordered the coachman to drive
straight through the town, and let her know when she was quite beyond
its walls.  She has no doubt whatever that most, if not all, of the
other inhabitants of that place were clothed--perhaps I should say
unclothed--in the same way.  What surprised poor Lady Knownothing most
was, that she did not see nearly so many kilts in the Highlands as she
saw on that occasion in Edinburgh, from which she concluded that the
natives of Scotland are less barbarous in the north than they are in the
south.  But she _did_ see a few.  One man who played those hideous
things called the pipes--which, she says, are so very like little pigs
being killed--actually came into her presence one day, sat down before
her with bare knees, and took a pinch of snuff with a salt-spoon!"

"That is a dreadful account, no doubt," said Mr Sudberry, "but you must
remember that Lady Knownothing is given to exaggerating, and is
therefore not to be depended on.  Have you done with the _cons_?"

"Not nearly done, John, but my nervous system cannot stand the sustained
contemplation of such things.  I should like to recover breath, and hear
what you have to say in favour of this temporary expatriation, I had
almost said, of your family."

"Well, then, here goes for the _pros_," cried Mr Sudberry, while a
gleam of excitement shot from his eyes, and his clinched hand came
heavily down on the table.

"The sixteenth cup--_as near as possible_," observed his wife,
languidly.

"Never mind the cups, my dear, but listen to me.  The air of the
Highlands is salubrious and bracing--"

"And piercingly cold, my dear John," interrupted Mrs Sudberry.

"In summer," pursued her husband, regardless of the interruption, "it is
sometimes as clear and warm as it is in Italy--"

"And often foggy, my dear."

"The mountain scenery is grand and majestic beyond description--"

"Then why attempt to describe it, dear John?"

"The hotels in most parts of the Highlands, though rather expensive--"

"Ah! think of _that_, my dear."

"Though rather expensive, are excellent; the food is of the best
quality, and the wines are passable.  Beds--"

"_Have_ they beds, my dear?"

"Beds are generally found to be well aired and quite clean, though of
course in the poorer and more remote districts they are--"

"Hush! pray spare my feelings, my dear John."

"Remote districts, they are not so immaculate as one would wish.  Then
there are endless moors covered with game, and splendid lakes and rivers
full of fish.  Just think, Mary, what a region for our dear boys to
revel in!  Think of the shooting--"

"And the dreadful accidents, my dear."

"Think of the fishing--"

"And the wet feet, and the colds.  Poor darling Jacky, what a prospect!"

"Think of the glorious sunrises seen from the mountain-tops before
breakfast--"

"And the falling over precipices, and broken necks and limbs, dear
John."

"Think of the shaggy ponies for our darling Lucy to ride on--"

"Ah! and to fall off."

"And the dew of early morning on the hills, and the mists rolling up
from the lakes, and the wild uncultivated beauty of all around us, and
the sketching, and walking, and driving--"

"Dreadful!"

"And bathing and boating--"

"And drowning!"

"Not to mention the--"

"Dear John, have pity on me.  The _pros_ are too much for me.  I cannot
stand the thought--"

"But, my dear, the _place is taken_.  The thing is _fixed_," said Mr
Sudberry, with emphasis.  Mrs Sudberry was a wise woman.  When she was
told by her husband that a thing was _fixed_, she invariably gave in
with a good grace.  Her powers of dissuasion having failed,--as they
always did fail,--she arose, kissed Mr Sudberry's forehead, assured him
that she would try to make the most of it, since it _was_ fixed, and
left the room with the comfortable feeling, of having acted the part of
a dutiful wife and a resigned martyr.

It was towards the close of a doubtful summer's evening, several weeks
after the conversation just detailed, that a heavy stage-coach, of an
old-fashioned description, toiled slowly up the ascent of one of those
wild passes, by which access is gained into the highlands of Perthshire.

The course of the vehicle had for some time lain along the banks of a
turbulent river, whose waters, when not brawling over a rocky bed in
impetuous velocity, or raging down a narrow gorge in misty spray, were
curling calmly in deep pools or caldrons, the dark surfaces of which
were speckled with foam, and occasionally broken by the leap of a yellow
trout or a silver salmon.

To an angler the stream would have been captivating in the extreme, but
his ardour would have been somewhat damped by the sight of the dense
copsewood which overhung the water, and, while it added to the wild
beauty of the scenery, suggested the idea of fishing under difficulties.

When the coach reached the narrowest part of the pass, the driver pulled
up, and intimated that, "she would be obleeged if the leddies and
gentlemen would get down and walk up the brae."

Hereupon there descended from the top of the vehicle a short, stout,
elderly gentleman, in a Glengarry bonnet, green tartan shooting-coat,
and shepherd's-plaid vest and pantaloons; two active youths, of the ages
of seventeen and fifteen respectively, in precisely similar costume; a
man-servant in pepper and salt, and a little thin timid boy in blue, a
sort of confidential page without the buttons.  All of them wore drab
gaiters and shoes of the thickest conceivable description.  From the
inside of the coach there issued a delicate elderly lady, who leaned, in
a helpless manner, on the arm of a young, plain, but extremely fresh and
sweet-looking girl of about sixteen, whom the elder lady called Lucy,
and who was so much engrossed with her mother, that some time elapsed
before she could attend to the fervent remarks made by her father and
brothers in regard to the scenery.  There also came forth from the
interior of the coach a large, red-faced angry woman, who dragged after
her a little girl of about eight, who might be described as a modest
sunbeam, and a little boy of about five, who resembled nothing short of
an imp incarnate.  When they were all out, the entire family and
household of Mr Sudberry stood in the centre of that lovely Highland
pass, and the coach, which was a special one hired for the occasion,
drove slowly up the ascent.

What the various members of the family said in the extravagance of their
excited feelings on this occasion we do not intend to reveal.  It has
been said that the day was doubtful: in the south the sky was red with
the refulgent beams of the setting sun, which gleamed on the mountain
peaks and glowed on the purple heather.  Towards the north dark leaden
clouds obscured the heavens, and presaged stormy weather.  A few large
drops began to fall as they reached the crest of the road, and opened up
a view of the enclosed valley or amphitheatre which lay beyond, with a
winding river, a dark overshadowed loch, and a noble background of
hills.  In the far distance a white house was seen embedded in the blue
mountains.

"Yonder's ta hoose," said the driver, as the party overtook the coach,
and resumed their places--the males on the top and the females inside.

"Oh, my dear! look! look!" cried Mr Sudberry, leaning over the side of
the coach; "there is our house--the white house--our Highland home!"

At this moment a growl of distant thunder was heard.  It was followed by
a scream from Mrs Sudberry, and a cry of--

"You'd better send Jacky inside, my dear."

"Ah, he may as well remain where he is," replied Mr Sudberry, whose
imperfect hearing led him to suppose that his spouse had said, "Jacky's
inside, my dear!" whereas the real truth was that the boy was neither
out nor inside.

Master Jacky, be it known, had a remarkably strong will of his own.
During the journey he preferred an outside seat in all weathers.  By
dint of much coaxing, his mother had induced him to get in beside her
for one stage; but he had made himself so insufferably disagreeable,
that the good lady was thereafter much more disposed to let him have his
own way.  When the coach stopped, as we have described, Jacky got out,
and roundly asserted that he would never get in again.

When the attention of the party was occupied with the gorgeous scenery
at the extremity of the pass, Jacky, under a sudden impulse of
wickedness, crept stealthily into the copse that lined the road,
intending to give his parents a fright.  In less than five minutes these
parents were galloping away at the rate of ten miles an hour, each happy
in the belief that the sweet boy was with the other.

Somewhat surprised at the prolonged and deathlike silence that reigned
around him, Jacky returned to the road, where he actually gasped with
horror on finding himself the solitary tenant of an apparently
uninhabited wilderness.  Sitting down on a stone, he shut his eyes,
opened wide his mouth, and roared vehemently.

At the end of about five minutes he ventured to re-open his eyes.  His
face instantly assumed an expression of abject terror, and the roar was
intensified into a piercing shriek when he beheld a fierce little black
cow staring at him within a yard of his face.

A drove of shaggy Highland cattle had come suddenly round a turn in the
pass while Jacky's eyes had been shut.  They now filed slowly and
steadily past the transfixed boy, as if they were a regiment and he a
reviewing general.  Each animal as it came up, stopped, stared for a few
seconds, and passed slowly on with its head down, as if saddened by the
sight of such a melancholy spectacle.

There were upwards of a hundred animals in the drove; the prolonged and
maddening agony which Jacky endured may therefore be conceived but
cannot be described.

Last of all came the drover, a kilted, plaided, and bonneted Highlander,
quite as shaggy as the roughest of his cattle, and rather fiercer in
aspect.  He was not so in reality however, for, on coming to the place
where the poor boy sat, he stopped and stared as his predecessors had
done.

"Fat is she doin' there?" said he.

Jacky paused, and gazed for one moment in mute surprise, then resumed
his roar with shut eyes and with tenfold vigour.

As it was evident that any farther attempt at conversation must prove
fruitless, the drover took Jacky in his arms, carried him to the
extremity of the pass, set him down, and, pointing to the white house in
the blue distance, said--

"Yonder's ta hoose; let her see how she can rin."

Jacky fixed his eyes on the house with the stare of one who regarded it
as his last and only refuge, and ran as he had never done before,
roaring while he ran.

"She's a clever callant," observed the drover with a grim smile, as he
turned to follow his cattle.

Meanwhile the Sudberry Family reached the White House in the midst of
increasing rain and mists and muttering thunder.  Of course Jacky's
absence was at once discovered.  Of course the females screamed and the
males shouted, while they turned the mail-coach entirely inside out in a
vain search for the lost one.  The din was increased by nine shepherd
dogs, which rushed down the mountain-side, barking furiously with
delight, (probably), and with excitement, (certainly), at the unwonted
sight of so many strangers in that remote glen.  Presently the coach was
turned round, and the distracted father galloped back towards the pass.
Of course he almost ran over his youngest son in less than five minutes!
Five minutes more placed the recovered child in its mother's arms.
Then followed a scene of kissing, crying, laughing, barking, and
excitement, which is utterly indescribable, accompanied by thunder,
lightning, and rain, in the midst of which tempestuous mental and
elemental commotion, the Sudberry Family took possession of their
Highland home.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 3.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS.

Next morning the Sudberrys were awakened to a sense of the peculiar
circumstances into which they had plunged, by the lowing of cattle, the
crowing of cocks, and the furious barking of collie dogs, as the
household of Donald McAllister commenced the labours of a new day.

Of course every member of the Sudberry Family, with the exception of
"mamma," rushed to his or her respective window.

"Oh! how beautiful!" gushed from the heart and lips of Lucy, as she
gazed in wonder through the casement, and a shriek burst from Jacky, as
he stared in wild delight upon the gorgeous scene that met his view.

We have said that the White House was embedded among the blue hills.  It
was an old and extremely simple building, having an oblong front, two
sides, and a back; two stories, six windows, and one door; which last,
imbued, apparently, with a dislike to being shut, was always open.  The
house appeared to have an insatiable thirst for mountain air, and it was
well supplied with this fresh and exhilarating beverage; for it stood in
an elevated position on the slope of a mountain, and overlooked a wide
tract of flood and fell, on which latter there was little wood, but a
luxuriant carpet of grass and heather.

The weather had evidently resolved to make amends for its surly
reception of the strangers the previous evening, by greeting them with
one of its sweetest Highland smiles in the morning.

When Mr Sudberry, in the exuberance of his delight, ran without hat or
coat to a neighbouring knoll, accompanied by all his children, the scene
that met his eye was one of surpassing grandeur and beauty.  The mists
of early morning were rolling up from the loch in white, fleecy clouds,
which floated over and partly concealed the sides of the mountains.  The
upper wreaths of these clouds, and the crags and peaks that pierced
through them were set on fire by the rising sun.  Great fissures and
gorges in the hills, which at other times lay concealed in the blue haze
of distance, were revealed by the mists and the slanting rays of the
sun, and the incumbent cliffs, bluff promontories, and capes, were in
some places sharply defined, in others luminously softened, so that the
mountains displayed at once that appearance of solid reality, mingled
with melting mystery, which is seen at no period of the day but early
morning.  The whole scene--water, earth, and sky--was so involved, that
no lines of demarcation could be traced anywhere; only bold startling
points, melting into blue and white masses that mingled with each other
in golden and pearly greys of every conceivable variety.  Having said
thus much, we need scarcely add that the scene cannot be adequately
described.

A light fragrant air met the stout Englishman as he crested the hill,
and filled his unaccustomed nostrils with sensations that could not have
been excelled had he been greeted by one of "Afric's spicy gales."  The
same air, with telegraphic speed, conveyed to the collie dogs of the
place the information that the Sudberrys were abroad; whereupon the
whole pack--nine in number--bounded open-mouthed up the hill, with noise
and ferocity enough to have alarmed the bravest of the brave.  No wonder
then that poor Jacky rushed into his father's knees, being too small to
run into his arms.  But these seemingly ferocious dogs were in reality
the gentlest and meekest of animals.

"Down, Topper, down! down, Lively, lass; come into heel, Swaney," cried
Donald McAllister, as he approached his tenants.  "Good-mornin', miss;
mornin', gentlemen.  The Ben has on its nightcap, but I'm thinkin' it'll
soon take it off."

Donald McAllister's English was excellent, but he spoke in a slow,
deliberate manner, and with a slightly nasal drawl, which sounded very
peculiar in the ears of the Sudberrys,--just as peculiar, in fact, as
their speech sounded in the ears of McAllister.

"Ah! you call the white cloud on the mountain-top a nightcap?--good,
very good," cried Mr Sudberry, rubbing his hands.  "What a charming
place this is, a paradisaical place, so to speak.  The dogs won't bite,
will they?" said he, patting the alarmed Jacky on the head.

"No fear o' the dogs, sir," returned McAllister; "they're like lambs.
It's just their way.  Ye'll be for a row on the loch the day, no doot."
The Highlander addressed this remark to George and Fred.

"What!" exclaimed the former, "is there a boat that we can have the use
of?"

"'Deed is there, a good safe boat too, that can hold the whole of ye.
I'll show you where the oars lie after breakfast."

"Capital," cried Mr Sudberry, rubbing his hands.

"Charming," exclaimed Lucy, with sparkling eyes.

Master Jacky expressed his glee with a characteristic cheer or yell,
that at once set fire to the easily inflamed spirits of the dogs,
causing them to resume their excited gambols and furious barking.  This
effectually stopped the conversation for five minutes.

"I delight in boating," observed Fred, when McAllister had quelled the
disturbance.

"So do I," said his father; "but fishing is the thing for me.  There's
nothing like fishing.  You have fine trout in the lake, I believe?"

"Ay, an' salmon too," answered McAllister.

"So I've heard, so I've heard," said Mr Sudberry, with a glow of
excitement and pleasure on his round visage.  "We must get our rods and
tackle unpacked at once, George.  You are a great fisher, no doubt, Mr
McAllister?"

"Well, not just that, but I do manage to fill a basket now and then, an'
whiles to land a g'ilse."

"A gilse!" cried George in surprise, "what is that?"

"It is a small salmon--"

"Oh! you mean a grilse," interposed Mr Sudberry.

"Yes, I mean that, an' I said that," returned McAllister, slowly and
with emphasis.  "Scienteefic men are not agreed whether the g'ilse is a
small salmon or not; I'm of opeenion that it is.  But whether or not,
it's a famous fish on the table, and lively enough on the line to
delight the heart of every true disciple of Isaac Walton."

"What, you have read that charming book?" exclaimed Mr Sudberry,
looking at the rugged Highlander in some surprise.

"Yes," replied the other, in the grave quiet manner that was peculiar to
him; "I took to it one winter as a sort o' recreation, after readin'
through `Paley's Evidences.'"

"What!" cried Mr Sudberry, "whose Evidences did you say?"

"Paley's; ye've heard o' him, dootless."

"Why, yes," replied Mr Sudberry, "I have heard of him, but I--I must
confess that I have not read him."

At this point, Jacky's eye fell on a shaggy little cow which had strayed
near to the party, and stood regarding him with a stern inquisitive
glance.  Remembering the fright he had received so recently from a
similar creature, he uttered a tremendous roar, and again sought refuge
in his father's knees.  The discussion on Paley was thus cut short; for
the dogs--whose chief delight was to bark, though _not_ to bite, as has
been libellously asserted of all dogs by Dr Watts--sprang to their
feet, divided their forces, and, while two of the oldest kept frisking
round and leaping upon the party in a promiscuous manner, as if to
assure them of protection in the event of danger, the remainder ran
open-mouthed and howling at the cow.  That curly-headed, long-horned
creature received them at first with a defiant look and an elevated
tail, but ultimately took to her heels, to the immense delight of Jacky,
whose soul was imbued with a deep and altogether unutterable horror of
cattle, especially black cows.

The service which the dogs rendered to him on this occasion induced the
boy to make advances of a friendly nature, which were met more than
halfway, and the result was the establishment of a good understanding
between the Sudberrys and the collie dogs, which ultimately ripened into
a lasting friendship, insomuch that when the family quitted the place,
Lucy carried away with her a lock of Lively's hair, cut from the pendent
tip of her right ear.

Presently Mr Sudberry pulled out his watch, and, exclaiming that it was
breakfast-time, trotted down the hill, followed by his family and
escorted by the dogs.

We will pause here to describe Mr Sudberry's family briefly.

George was the merchant's eldest son.  He was bold, stout, active,
middle-sized, and seventeen years of age; full of energy and life, a
crack rower, a first-rate cricketer, and generally a clever fellow.
George was always jolly.

Fred was about the same height as his brother, two years younger,
slender in form, and gentle in disposition, but active, too, when
occasion required it.  His forte was drawing and painting.  Fred was
generally quiet and grave.  Both brothers were musical.

Lucy had reached the interesting age of sixteen.  She was plain,
decidedly, but sweet-tempered in the extreme.  Her mouth was good, and
her eyes were good, and her colour was good, but her nose was a snub,--
an undeniable and incurable snub.  Her mother had tried to amend it from
the earliest hours of Lucy's existence by pulling the point gently
downwards and pinching up the bridge,--or, rather, the hollow where the
bridge ought to have been,--but all in vain; the infant turned up its
eyes when the operation was going on, and still turned up its nose when
it was over.  Yes, although there were many of the elements of beauty
about Lucy, she was plain--but sweet; always bear that in mind.  She was
funny too.  Not that she made fun of her own free will; but she
appreciated fun in others so intensely that she looked funny herself;
and she giggled.  This was her only fault, she giggled.  When the spirit
of fun was roused, nothing could stop her.  But don't suppose that she
was always giggling; by no means.  She was always good and amiable,
often grave, and sometimes deeply serious.

Matilda, commonly called Tilly, was a meek, delicate, pretty little girl
of eight years old.  She was charmingly innocent and ignorant.  In the
last respect she resembled her mother, who was the only other stupid
member of Mr Sudberry's family.  Being deeply impressed with the fact
of her ignorance and stupidity, Mrs Sudberry went on the tack of boldly
admitting the same, and holding, or affecting to hold, ability and
general acquirements in contempt.

Mrs Brown was a female dragon, nurse to Master Jacky and Miss Tilly;
she tormented the former, whom she disliked, and spoiled the latter,
whom she loved.

Hobbs was the man-servant of the family.  He was characterised chiefly
by a tendency to drop his h's in conversation, out of words to which
they naturally belonged, and to pick them up and insert them in the most
contradictory manner, in words with which they had no connection
whatever.  He was also marked by the strong regard and esteem which he
had for his master and family; the stronger regard and esteem which he
had for himself; and the easy, good-humoured way in which he regarded
the remainder of the world at large as an inferior order of beings.

As for Peter, he has already been described as the timid clerk of humble
origin, whose chief duties, while in London, were to wipe up ink and
clear away _debris_.  He had been taken with the family to act the part
of a page in buttons without the buttons--and to make himself generally
useful.  Hitherto the page's bosom had, since leaving London, been a
chamber of indescribable terrors.  Truly, if, as is said, the
anticipation of death be worse than the reality, poor Peter must have
suffered a prolonged and continuous death during the last few days.
Never having been on a railway before, the first shriek of the whistle
pierced him like a knife, the shock of starting rent him,
(figuratively), like a thunderbolt.  Thereafter, every passing train was
an excruciating arrow in his quivering heart, every tunnel was a plunge
into the horrible anticipation that "here it was coming at last!"  But
Peter's trials were now, for a time, he fondly hoped, at an end.  Poor
boy! he little knew what was in store for him.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 4.

FIRST COMERS SERVED FIRST, ETCETERA.

When Mr Sudberry reached the breakfast parlour, and put his head in at
the door to see whether his faithful wife were there, he was struck
absolutely dumb by the amazing _tableau vivant_ that met his vision.

There was nothing in the aspect of the room itself to surprise him.  It
was homely and neat.  The table was spread with a clean white cloth, on
which the breakfast equipage was displayed with a degree of care and
precision that betrayed the master-hand of Hobbs; but on the edge of the
table sat a large black cat, calmly breakfasting off a pat of delicious
fresh butter.  Beside the table, with its fore-legs thereon and its
hind-legs on the floor, stood a large nanny-goat, which was either
looking in vain for something suited to its own particular taste, or
admiring with disinterested complacency the energy with which two hens
and a bantam cock pecked out the crumb of a wheaten loaf.  If the latter
were the goat's occupation, it must have been charmed beyond expression;
for the half of the loaf had been devoured by the audacious trio, and,
just at the moment of Mr Sudberry's appearance, the bantam's body was
buried over the shoulders, and nothing of it was visible to the
horrified master of the house save its tail, appearing over the edge of
the loaf.

"She-ee-ew!" roared Mr Sudberry, rushing into the room and whirling his
arms like the sails of a windmill.  The cat vanished through the window
like a black vision galvanised and made awfully real.  The poultry,
thrown into convulsions of terror, flew screaming round the room in
blind haste, searching for a door or window of escape; while the goat,
true to its nature, ran at the enemy on its hind-legs, and, with its
head down, attempted to punch him on the stomach.  By an active leap to
one side, the enemy escaped this charge; but the goat, nothing daunted,
turned to renew the attack; next moment George, Fred, and Hobbs, rushing
into the room, diverted its attention.  Intimidated by overwhelming
numbers, the animal darted through the doorway, along the passage and
out at the front door, where it met Peter unexpectedly, and wreaked its
disappointed vengeance on him by planting on his chest the punch which
had been intended for his master.  By this means that timid and hapless
youth was laid flat on the green grass.

"Is Jacky safe?" cried Mrs Sudberry, running into the room with terror
on her countenance, and falling down on the sofa in a semi-swoon on
being informed that he was.  She was followed by Lucy and Tilly, with
scent-bottles, and by nurse, who exhibited a tendency to go off into
hysterics; but who, in consequence of a look from her master, postponed
that luxury to a more convenient season.

Thus the "expatriated" family assembled to morning prayers, and to
partake of their first Highland breakfast.

Of course that day, being their first, was spent in an excited and
rambling endeavour to master the localities and ascertain the most
interesting points about their new home.

Mrs Sudberry and her daughters examined the interior accommodation of
the White House minutely, and, with the assistance of Mrs Brown, Hobbs,
and the page, disposed their goods and chattels to the best advantage;
while her husband and sons went out to introduce themselves to the
farmer and his family.  They lived in a small cottage, or off-shoot, at
the back of the principal dwelling, in close proximity to which were the
byre, stable, and barns.

It would occupy too much space to relate in detail all the things and
sights that called forth the delight and surprise of the excitable Mr
Sudberry.  How he found to his amazement that the byre was under the
same roof with the farmer's kitchen, and only separated therefrom by a
wooden partition with a door in it.  How he was assailed by the nine
collie dogs the moment he entered the kitchen, with threats of being
torn to pieces, yet was suffered to pass unscathed.  How he and his sons
were introduced by Mr McAllister to his mother, a grave, mild old
woman, who puzzled them beyond measure; because, although clad in homely
and unfashionable garments, and dwelling in a hut little better than the
habitation of the cattle, except in point of cleanliness, she conversed
and conducted herself towards them with a degree of unaffected ease and
urbanity that might have graced any lady in the land.  How this old lady
astonished them with the amount of general knowledge that leaked out in
the course of a few minutes' talk.  How she introduced the dogs by name,
one by one, to Jacky, which delighted him immensely; and how, soon after
that, Jacky attempted to explore out-of-the-way corners of the
farm-yard, and stepped suddenly up to the knees in a mud-hole, out of
which he emerged with a pair of tight-fitting Wellington boots, which
filled him with ecstasy and his father with disgust.

All this and a great deal more might be dilated on largely; but we are
compelled to dismiss it summarily, without further remark.

In the course of that day Mr Sudberry and his boys learned a great deal
about their new home from McAllister, whom they found intelligent,
shrewd, and well-informed on any topic they chose to broach; even
although he was, as Mr Sudberry said in surprise, "quite a common man,
who wore corduroy and wrought in his fields like a mere labourer."
After dinner they all walked out together, and had a row on the lake
under his guidance; and in the evening they unexpectedly met Mr Hector
Macdonald, who was proprietor of the estate on which the White House
stood, and who dwelt in another white house of much larger size at the
head of the loch, distant about two miles.  Mrs Sudberry had expected
to find this Highland gentleman a very poor and proud sort of man, with
a rough aspect, a superabundance of red hair, and, possibly, a kilt.
Judge, then, her surprise when she found him to be a young gentleman of
refined mind, prepossessing manners, elegant though sturdy appearance,
and clad in grey tweed shooting-coat, vest, and trousers, the cut of
which could not have been excelled by her own George's tailor, and
George was particular in respect to cut.

Mr Macdonald, who carried a fishing-rod, introduced himself; and
accompanied his new friends part of the way home; and then, saying that
he was about to take a cast in the river before sunset, offered to show
the gentlemen the best pools.  "The gentlemen" leaped at the offer more
eagerly than ever trout leaped at an artificial fly; for they were
profoundly ignorant of the gentle art, except as it is practised on the
Thames, seated on a chair in a punt, and with bait and float.

Hector Macdonald not only showed his friends where to fish, but _how_ to
fish; and the whole thing appeared so easy as practised and explained by
him, that father and sons turned their steps homeward about dusk,
convinced that they could "do it" easily, and anticipating triumph on
the morrow.

On the way home, after parting from Hector, they passed a solitary hut
of the rudest description, which might have escaped observation had not
a bright stream of light issued from the low doorway and crossed their
path.

"I would like to peep into this cottage, father," said Fred, who
cherished strong sympathies with poor people.

"Come then," cried Mr Sudberry, "let us explore."

Jacky, who was with them, felt timid, and objected; but being told that
he might hang about outside, he gave in.

They had to bend low on entering the hovel, which was mean and
uncomfortable in appearance.  The walls were built of unhewn stones,
gathered from the bed of the river hard by; and the interstices were
filled up with mud and straw.  Nothing graced these walls in the shape
of ornament; but a few mugs and tin pots and several culinary implements
hung from rusty nails and wooden pegs.  The floor was of hard mud.
There was no ceiling, and the rafters were stained black by the smoke of
the peat fire which burned in the middle of the floor, and the only
chimney for which was a small hole in the roof.  A stool, a broken
chair, and a crooked table, constituted the entire furniture of the
miserable place; unless we may include a heap of straw and rags in a
corner, which served for a bed.

Seated on the stool, and bending over the fire,--was an old woman, so
wild and shrivelled in her appearance that a much less superstitious
urchin than Jacky might have believed her to be a witch.  Her clothing
may be described as a bundle of rags, with the exception of a
shepherd's-plaid on her shoulders, the spotless purity of which
contrasted strangely with the dirtiness of every thing else around.  The
old creature was moaning and moping over the fire, and drawing the plaid
close round her as if she were cold, although the weather was extremely
warm.  At first she took no notice whatever of the entrance of her
visitors, but kept muttering to herself in the Gaelic tongue.

"A fine evening, my good woman," said Fred, laying his hand gently on
her shoulder.

"How do ye know I'm good?" she cried, turning her gleaming eyes sharply
on her questioner.

"Don't be angry, granny," put in Mr Sudberry, in a conciliatory tone.

The effect of this remark on the old woman, was the reverse of what had
been expected.

"Granny! granny!" she shrieked fiercely, holding up her skinny right arm
and shaking her fist at Mr Sudberry, "who dares to ca' me granny?"

"My dear woman, I meant no offence," said the latter, much distressed at
having unwittingly roused the anger of this strange creature, who
continued to glare furiously at the trio.

Jacky kept well in the background, and contented himself with peeping
round the door-post.

"No offence! no offence! an' you dare to ca' me granny!  Go! go! _go_!"

As she uttered these three words with increasing vehemence, the last
syllable was delivered in a piercing scream.  Rising suddenly from her
stool, she pointed to the door with an air of command that would have
well become the queen of the witches.

Not wishing to agitate the poor woman, whom he now regarded as a
lunatic, Mr Sudberry turned to go, but a wonderful change in the
expression of her face arrested him.  Her eye had fallen on the round
visage of Jacky, and a beaming smile now lighted up and beautified the
countenance which had so recently been distorted with passion.  Uttering
some unintelligible phrase in Gaelic, she held out her skinny arms
towards the child, as if entreating him to come to her.  Strange to say,
Jacky did not run away or scream with fright as she approached him and
took him in her arms.  Whether it was that he was too much petrified
with horror to offer any resistance, or that he understood the smile of
affection and reciprocated it, we cannot tell; but certain it is that
Jacky suffered her to place him on her knee, stroke his hair, and press
him to her old breast, as unresistingly and silently as if she had been
his own mother, instead of a mad old woman.

Fred availed himself of this improved state of things to attempt again
to open an amicable conversation; but the old woman appeared to have
turned stone deaf; for she would neither look at nor reply to him.  Her
whole attention was devoted to Jacky, into whose wondering ears she
poured a stream of Gaelic, without either waiting for, or apparently
expecting, a reply.

Suddenly, without a word of warning, she pushed Jacky away from her, and
began to wring her hands and moan as she bent over the fire.  Mr
Sudberry seized the opportunity to decamp.  He led Jacky quietly out of
the hut, and made for the White House at as rapid a pace as the darkness
of the night would allow.  As they walked home, father and sons felt as
if they had recently held familiar converse with a ghost or an evil
spirit.

But that feeling passed away when they were all seated at tea in the
snug parlour, relating and listening to the adventure; and Jacky swelled
to double his size, figuratively, on finding himself invested with
sudden and singular importance as the darling of an "old witch."  Soon,
however, matters of greater interest claimed the attention of Mr
Sudberry and his sons; for their bosoms were inflamed with a desire to
emulate the dexterous Hector Macdonald.

Rods and tackle were overhauled, and every preparation made for a
serious expedition on the morrow.  That night Mr Sudberry dreamed of
fishing.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 5.

SOME ACCOUNT OF A GREAT FISHING EXPEDITION.

There was an old barometer of the banjo type in the parlour of the White
House, which, whatever might have been its character for veracity in
former days, had now become such an inveterate story-teller, that it was
pretty safe to accept as true, exactly the reverse of what it indicated.
One evening Mr Sudberry kept tapping that antique and musical-looking
instrument, with a view to get it to speak out its mind freely.  The
worthy man's efforts were not in vain, for the instrument, whether out
of spite or not, we cannot say, indicated plainly "much rain."

Now, it must be known that Mr Sudberry knew as much about trout and
salmon-fishing as that celebrated though solitary individual, "the man
in the moon."  Believing that bright, dry, sunny weather was favourable
to this sport, his heart failed him when the barometer became so
prophetically depressed, and he moved about the parlour with quick,
uneasy steps, to the distress of his good wife, whose work-box he twice
swept off the table with his coat-tails, and to the dismay of George,
whose tackle, being spread out for examination, was, to a large extent,
caught up and hopelessly affixed to the same unruly tails.

Supper and repose finally quieted Mr Sudberry's anxious temperament;
and when he awoke on the following morning, the sun was shining in
unclouded splendour through his window.  Awaking with a start, he
bounced out of bed, and, opening his window, shouted with delight that
it was a glorious fishing-day.

The shout was addressed to the world at large, but it was responded to
only by Hobbs.

"Yes, sir, it _is_ a hexquisite day," said that worthy; "what a day for
the Thames, sir!  It does my 'art good, sir, to think of that there
river."

Hobbs, who was standing below his master's window, with his coat off,
and his hands in his waistcoat-pockets, meant this as a happy and
delicate allusion to things and times of the past.

"Ah!  Hobbs," said Mr Sudberry, "you don't know what fishing in the
Highlands is, yet; but you shall see.  Are the rods ready?"

"Yes, sir."

"And the baskets and books?"

"Yes, sir."

"And, ah!  I forgot--the flasks and sandwiches--are they ready, and the
worms?"

"Yes, sir; Miss Lucy's a makin' of the san'wiches in the kitchen at this
moment, and Maclister's a diggin' of the worms."

Mr Sudberry shut his window, and George, hearing the noise, leaped out
of bed with the violence that is peculiar to vigorous youth.  Fred
yawned.

"What a magnificent day!" said George, rubbing his hands, and slapping
himself preparatory to ablutions; "I will shoot."

"Will you--a-ow?" yawned Fred: "I shall sketch.  I mean to begin with
the old woman's hut."

"What! do you mean to have your nose plucked off and your eyes torn out
at the beginning of our holiday?"

"Not if I can help it, George; but I mean to run the risk--I mean to
cultivate that old woman."

"Hallo! hi!" shouted their father from below, while he tapped at the
window with the end of a fishing-rod.  "Look alive there, boys, else
we'll have breakfast without you."

"Ay, ay, father!"  Fred was up in a moment.

About two hours later, father and sons sallied out for a day's sport,
George with a fowling-piece, Fred with a sketch-book, and Mr Sudberry
with a fishing-rod, the varnish and brass-work on which, being perfectly
new, glistened in the sun.

"We part here, father," said George, as they reached a rude bridge that
spanned the river about half a mile distant from the White House.  "I
mean to clamber up the sides of the Ben, and explore the gorges.  They
say that ptarmigan and mountain hares are to be found there."

The youth's eye sparkled with enthusiasm; for, having been born and bred
in the heart of London, the idea of roaming alone among wild rocky glens
up among the hills, far from the abodes of men, made him fancy himself
little short of a second Crusoe.  He was also elated at the thought of
firing at _real_ wild birds and animals--his experiences with the gun
having hitherto been confined to the unromantic practice of a
shooting-gallery in Regent Street.

"Success to you, George," cried Mr Sudberry, waving his hand to his
son, as the latter was about to enter a ravine.

"The same to you, father," cried George, as he waved his cap in return,
and disappeared.

Five minutes' walk brought them to the hut of the poor old woman, whose
name they had learned was Moggy.

"This, then, is my goal," said Fred, smiling.  "I hope to scratch in the
outline of the interior before you catch your first trout."

"Take care the old woman doesn't scratch out your eyes, Fred," said the
father, laughing.  "Dinner at five--_sharp_, remember."

Fred entered the hovel, and Mr Sudberry, walking briskly along the road
for a quarter of a mile, diverged into a foot-path which conducted him
to the banks of the river, and to the margin of a magnificent pool where
he hoped to catch his first trout.

And now, at last, had arrived that hour to which Mr Sudberry had long
looked forward with the most ardent anticipation.  To stand alone on a
lovely summer's day, rod in hand, on the banks of a Highland stream, had
been the ambition of the worthy merchant ever since he was a boy.  Fate
had decreed that this ambition should not be gratified until his head
was bald; but he did not rejoice the less on this account.  His limbs
were stout and still active, and his enthusiasm was as strong as it was
in boyhood.  No one knew the powerful spirit of angling which dwelt in
Mr Sudberry's breast.  His wife did not, his sons did not.  He was not
fully aware of it himself, until opportunity revealed it in the most
surprising manner.  He had, indeed, known a little of the angler's
feelings in the days of his youth, but he had a soul above punts, and
chairs, and floats, and such trifles; although, like all great men, he
did not despise little things.  Many a day had he sat on old Father
Thames, staring, with eager expectation, at a gaudy float, as if all his
earthly hopes were dependent on its motions; and many a struggling fish
had he whipped out of the muddy waters with a shout of joy.  But he
thought of those days, now, with the feelings of an old soldier who,
returning from the wars to his parents' abode, beholds the drum and
pop-gun of his childhood.  He recalled the pleasures of the punt with
patronising kindliness, and gazed majestically on crag, and glen, and
bright, glancing stream, while he pressed his foot upon the purple
heath, and put up his fishing-rod!

Mr Sudberry was in his element now.  The deep flush on his gladsome
countenance indicated the turmoil of combined romance and delight which
raged within his heaving chest, and which he with difficulty prevented
from breaking forth into an idiotic cheer.  He was alone, as we have
said.  He was purposely so.  He felt that, as yet, no member of his
family could possibly sympathise with his feelings.  It was better that
they should not witness emotions which they could not thoroughly
understand.  Moreover, he wished to surprise them with the result of his
prowess--in regard to which his belief was unlimited.  He felt, besides,
that it was better there should be no witness to the trifling failures
which might be expected to occur in the first essay of one wholly
unacquainted with the art of angling, as practised in these remote
glens.

The pool beside which Mr Sudberry stood was one which Hector Macdonald
had pointed out as being one of the best in the river.  It lay at the
tail of a rapid, had an eddy in it, and a rippling, oily surface.  The
banks were in places free from underwood, and only a few small trees
grew near them.  The shadow of the mountain, which reared its rugged
crest close to it, usually darkened the surface, but, at the time we
write of, a glowing sun poured its rays into the deepest recesses of the
pool--a fact which filled Mr Sudberry, in his ignorance, with delight;
but which, had he known better, would have overwhelmed him with dismay.
In the present instance it happened that "ignorance was bliss," for as
every fish in the pool was watching the angler with grave upturned eyes
while he put up his rod, and would as soon have attempted to swallow Mr
Sudberry's hat as leap at his artificial flies, it was well that he was
not aware of the fact, otherwise his joy of heart would have been turned
into sorrow sooner than there was any occasion for.

Musing on piscatorial scenes past, present, and to come, Mr Sudberry
passed the line through the rings of his rod with trembling and excited
fingers.

While thus engaged, he observed a break on the surface of the pool, and
a fish caused a number of rings to form on the water; those floated
toward him as if to invite him on.  Mr Sudberry was red-hot now with
hope and expectation.  It was an _enormous_ trout that had risen.  Most
trouts that are seen, but not caught, are enormous!

There is no pleasure without its alloy.  It could not be expected that
the course of true sport, any more than that of true love, should run
smooth.  Mr Sudberry's ruddy face suddenly turned pale when he
discovered that he had forgotten his fishing book!  Each pocket in his
coat was slapped and plunged into with vehement haste, while drops of
cold perspiration stood on his forehead.  It was not to be found.
Suddenly he recollected the basket at his back: wrenching it open, he
found the book there, and joy again suffused his visage.

Selecting his best line and hooks--as pointed out to him by Hector--Mr
Sudberry let out a few yards of line, and prepared for action.
Remembering the advice and example of his friend, he made his first
cast.

Ha! not so bad.  The line fell rather closer to the bank on which he
stood than was consistent with the vigour of the cast; but never mind,
the next would be better!  The next _was_ better.  The line went out to
its full extent, and came down on the water with such a splash that no
trout in its senses would have looked at the place for an hour
afterwards.  But Mr Sudberry was ignorant of this, so he went on
hopefully.

As yet the line was short, so he let out half a dozen yards boldly, and
allowed the stream to draw it straight.  Then, making a violent effort,
he succeeded in causing it to descend in a series of circles close to
his feet!  This, besides being unexpected, was embarrassing.  Determined
to succeed, he made another cast, and caught the top branch of a small
tree, the existence of which he had forgotten.  There the hooks remained
fixed.

A deep sigh broke from the excited man, as he gazed ruefully up at the
tree.  Under a sudden and violent impulse, he tried to pull the tackle
forcibly away.  This would not do.  He tried again till the rod bent
almost double, and he was filled with amazement to find that the
casting-line, though no thicker than a thread, could stand such a pull.
Still the hooks held on.  Laying down his rod, he wiped his forehead and
sighed again.

But Mr Sudberry was not a man to be easily thwarted.  Recalling the
days of his boyhood, he cast off his coat and nimbly shinned up the
trunk of the tree.  In a few minutes he reached the top branch and
seized it.  At that moment the bough on which he stood gave way, and he
fell to the ground with a terrible crash, bringing the top branch with
him!  Gathering himself up, he carefully manipulated his neck, to
ascertain whether or not it was broken.  He found that it was not; but
the line was, so he sat down quietly on the bank and replaced it with a
new one.

Before Mr Sudberry left that spot on the bank beside the dark pool, he
had caught the tree four times and his hat twice, but he had caught no
trout.  "They're not taking to-day, that's it," he muttered sadly to
himself; "but come, cheer up, old fellow, and try a new fly."

Thus encouraged by himself, Mr Sudberry selected a large blue fly with
a black head, red wings, and a long yellow tail.  It was a gorgeous, and
he thought a tempting creature; but the trout were evidently not of the
same opinion.  For several hours the unfortunate piscator flogged the
water in vain.  He became very hot during this prolonged exertion,
stumbled into several holes, and wetted both legs up to the knees, had
his cap brushed off more than once by overhanging branches, and
entangled his line grievously while in the act of picking it up, bruised
his shins several times, and in short got so much knocked about,
battered, and worried, that he began to feel in a state of mental and
physical dishevelment.

Still his countenance did not betray much of his feelings.  He found
fishing more difficult in all respects than he had expected; but what
then?  Was he going to give way to disgust at the first disappointment?
Certainly not.  Was he going to fail in perseverance now, after having
established a reputation for that quality during a long commercial life
in the capital of England?  Decidedly not.  Was that energy, that
vigour, that fervour of character for which he was noted, to fail him
here--here, in an uncivilised country, where it was so much required--
after having been the means of raising him from a humble station to one
of affluence; after having enabled him to crush through all
difficulties, small or great, as well as having caused him to sweep
hecatombs of crockery to destruction with his coat tails?  Indubitably
not!

Glowing with such thoughts, the dauntless man tightened his cap on his
brow, pressed his lips together with a firm smile, frowned
good-humouredly at fate and the water, and continued his unflagging,
though not unflogging, way.

So, the hot sun beat down upon him until evening drew on apace, and then
the midges came out.  The torments which Mr Sudberry endured after this
were positively awful, and the struggles that he made, in the bravery of
his cheerful heart, to bear up against them, were worthy of a hero of
romance.  His sufferings were all the more terrible and exasperating,
that at first they came in the shape of an effect without a cause.  The
skin of his face and hands began to inflame and to itch beyond
endurance--to his great surprise; for the midges were so exceedingly
small and light, that, being deeply intent on his line, he did not
observe them.  He had heard of midges, no doubt; but never having seen
them, and being altogether engrossed in his occupation, he never thought
of them for a moment.  He only became aware of ever-increasing
uneasiness, and exhibited a tendency to rub the backs of his hands
violently on his trousers, and to polish his countenance with his cuffs.

It must be the effect of exposure to the sun, he thought--yes, that was
it; of course, that would go off soon, and he would become
case-hardened, a regular mountaineer!  Ha! was that a trout?  Yes, that
must have been one at last; to be sure, there were several stones and
eddies near the spot where it rose, but he knew the difference between
the curl of an eddy now and the splash of a trout; he would throw over
the exact spot, which was just a foot or two above a moss-covered stone
that peeped out of the water; he did so, and caught it--the stone, not
the trout--and the hooks remained fixed in the slimy green moss.

Mr Sudberry scratched his head and felt inclined to stamp.  He even
experienced a wild desire to cast his rod violently into the river, and
walk home with his hands in his pockets; but he restrained himself.
Pulling on the line somewhat recklessly, the hook came away, to his
immense delight, trailing a long thread of the green moss along with it.

Mr Sudberry now took to holding a muttered conversation with himself--a
practice which was by no means new to him, and in the course of which he
was wont to address himself in curiously disrespectful terms.  "Come,
come, John, my boy, don't be cast down!  Never say die!  Hope, ay, hope
told a flatter--Hallo! was that a rise?  No, it must have been another
of these--what can be the matter with your skin to-day, John?  I don't
believe it's the sun, after all.  The sun never drove anyone frantic.
Never mind; cheer up, old cock!  That seems a very likely hole--a
beautiful--beau-ti--steady!  That was a good cast--the best you've made
to-day, my buck; try it again--ha! s-s-us! caught again, as I'm a
Dutchman.  This is too bad.  Really, you know--well, you've come off
easier than might have been expected.  Now then, softly.  What _can_ be
the matter with your face?--surely--it cannot be," (Mr Sudberry's heart
palpitated as he thought), "the _measles_!  Oh! impossible, pooh! pooh!
you had the measles when you were a baby, of course--d'ye know, John,
you're not quite sure of that.  Fevers, too, occasionally come on with
extreme--dear me, how hot it is, and what a time you have been fishing,
you stupid fellow, without a rise!  It must be getting late."

Mr Sudberry stopped with a startled look as he said this.  He glanced
at the sun, pulled out his watch, gazed at it with unutterable surprise,
put it to his ear, and groaned.

"Too late! half-past five; dinner at five--punctually!  Oh!  Mary, Mary,
won't I catch it to-night!"

A cloud passed over the sun as he spoke.  Being very susceptible to
outward influences, the gloom of the shadow descended on his spirits as
well as his person, and for the first time that day a look of deep
dejection overspread his countenance.

Suddenly there was a violent twitch at the end of the rod, the reel spun
round with a sharp whirr-r, and every nerve in Mr Sudberry's system
received an electric shock as he bent forward, straddled his legs, and
made a desperate effort to fling the trout over his head.

The slender rod would not, however, permit of such treatment.  It bent
double, and the excited piscator was fain to wind up--an operation which
he performed so hastily that the line became entangled with the winch of
the reel, which brought it to a dead-lock.  With a gasp of anxiety he
flung down the rod, and seizing the line with his hands, hauled out a
beautiful yellow trout of about a quarter of a pound in weight, and five
or six inches long.

To describe the joy of Mr Sudberry at this piece of good fortune were
next to impossible.  Sitting down on his fishing-basket, with the trout
full in view, he drew forth a small flask of sherry, a slice of bread,
and a lump of cheese, and proceeded then and there to regale himself.
He cared nothing now for the loss of his dinner; no thought gave he to
the anticipated scold from neglected Mrs Sudberry.  He gave full scope
to his joy at the catching of this, his first trout.  He looked up at
the cloud that obscured the sun, and forgave it, little thinking,
innocent man, that the said cloud had done him a good turn that day.  He
smiled benignantly on water, earth, and sky.  He rubbed his face, and
when he did so he thought of the measles and laughed--laughed heartily,
for by that time he had discovered the true cause of his misery; and
although we cannot venture to say that he forgave the midges, sure we
are that he was greatly mollified towards them.

Does any ignorant or cynical reader deem such an extravagance of delight
inconsistent with so trifling an occasion?  Let him ponder before he
ventures to exclaim, "Ridiculous!"  Let him look round upon this busy,
whirling, incomprehensible world, and note how its laughing and weeping
multitudes are oft-times tickled to uproarious merriment, or whelmed in
gloomy woe, by the veriest trifles, and then let him try to look with
sympathy on Mr Sudberry and his first trout.

Having carefully deposited the fish in his basket, he once more resumed
his rod and his expectations.

But if the petty annoyances that beset our friend in the fore part of
that day may be styled harassing, those with which he was overwhelmed
towards evening may be called exasperating.  First of all he broke the
top of his rod, a misfortune which broke his heart entirely.  But
recollecting suddenly that he had three spare top-pieces in the butt,
his heart was cemented and bound up, so to speak, in a rough and ready
manner.  Next, he stepped into a hole, which turned out to be three feet
deep, so that he was instantly soaked up to the waist.  Being extremely
hot, besides having grown quite reckless, Mr Sudberry did not mind
this; it was pleasantly cooling.  He was cheered, too, at the moment, by
the re-appearance of the sun, which shone out as bright as ever, warming
his heart, (poor, ignorant man!) and, all unknown to him, damaging his
chance of catching any more fish at that time.

Soon after this he came to a part of the river where it flowed through
extremely rugged rocks, and plunged over one or two precipices, sending
up clouds of grey mist and a dull roar which overawed him, and depressed
his spirits.  This latter effect was still further increased by the
bruising of his shins and elbows, which resulted from the rough nature
of the ground.  He became quite expert now in hanking on bushes and
disentangling the line, and experienced a growing belief in the truth of
the old saying that "practice makes perfect."  He cast better, he hanked
oftener, and he disentangled more easily than he had done at an earlier
period of the day.  The midges, too, increased as evening advanced.

Presently he came upon a picturesque portion of the stream where the
waters warbled and curled in little easy-going rapids, miniature falls,
and deep oily pools.  Being an angler by nature, though not by practice,
(as yet), he felt that there must be _something_ there.  A row of
natural stepping-stones ran out towards a splendid pool, in which he
felt assured there must be a large trout--perhaps a grilse.  His modesty
forbade him to hint "a salmon," even to himself.

It is a very difficult thing, as everyone knows, to step from one stone
to another in a river, especially when the water flowing between runs
swift and deep.  Mr Sudberry found it so.  In his effort to approach
the pool in question, which lay under the opposite bank, he exhibited
not a few of the postures of the rope-dancer and the acrobat; but he
succeeded, for Mr Sudberry was a man of indomitable pluck.

Standing on a small stone, carefully balanced, and with his feet close
together, he made a beautiful cast.  It was gracefully done; it was
vigorously, manfully done--considering the difficulty of the position,
and the voracity of the midges--and would have been undoubtedly
successful but for the branch of a tree which grew on the opposite bank
and overhung the stream.  This branch Mr Sudberry, in his eagerness,
did not observe.  In casting, he thrust the end of his rod violently
into it; the line twirled in dire confusion round the leaves and small
boughs, and the drag hook, as if to taunt him, hung down within a foot
of his nose.

Mr Sudberry, in despair, made a desperate grasp at this and caught it.
More than that--it caught him, and sunk into his forefinger over the
barb, so that he could not get it out.  The rock on which he stood was
too narrow to admit of much movement, much less to permit of his resting
the butt of his rod on it, even if that had been practicable--which it
was not, owing to the line being fast to the bough, and the reel in a
state of dead-lock from some indescribable manoeuvre, to which it had
previously been subjected.

There he stood, the very personification of despair; but while standing
there he revolved in his mind the best method of releasing his line
without breaking it or further damaging his rod.  Alas! fortune, in this
instance, did not favour the brave.  While he was looking up in rueful
contemplation of the havoc above, and then down at his pierced and
captured finger, his foot slipped and he fell with a heavy plunge into
deep water.  That settled the question.  The whole of his tackle
remained attached to the fatal bough excepting the hook in his finger,
with which, and the remains of his fishing-rod, he floundered to the
shore.

Mr Sudberry's first act on gaining the land was to look into his
basket, where, to his great relief, the trout was still reposing.  His
next was to pick up his hat, which was sailing in an eddy fifty yards
down the stream.  Then he squeezed the water out of his garments, took
down his rod, with a heavy sigh strangely mingled with a triumphant
smile, and turned his steps home just as the sun began to dip behind the
peaks of the distant hills.

To his surprise and relief; Mrs Sudberry did _not_ scold when, about an
hour later, he entered the hall or porch of the White House with the
deprecatory air of a dog that knows he has been misbehaving, and with
the general aspect of a drowned rat.  His wife had been terribly anxious
about his non-arrival, and the joy she felt on seeing him safe and well,
induced her to forget the scold.

"Oh!  John dear, quick, get off your clothes," was her first
exclamation.

As for Jacky, he uttered a cheer of delight and amazement at beholding
his father in such a woeful plight; and he spent the remainder of the
evening in a state of impish triumph; for, had not his own father come
home in the same wet and draggled condition as that in which he himself
had presented himself to Mrs Brown earlier in the day, and for which he
had received a sound whipping?  "Hooray!" and with that the amiable
child went off to inform his worthy nurse that "papa was as bad a boy as
himself--badder, in fact; for he, (Jacky), had only been in the water up
to the waist, while papa had gone into it head and heels!"



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 6.

THE PICNIC.

A Vision of beauty now breaks upon the scene!  This vision is tall,
graceful, and commanding in figure.  It has long black ringlets,
piercing black eyes, a fair delicate skin, and a bewitching smile that
displays a row of--of "pearls!"  The vision is about sixteen years of
age, and answers to the romantic name of Flora Macdonald.  It is sister
to that stalwart Hector who first showed Mr Sudberry how to fish; and
stately, sedate, and beautiful does it appear, as, leaning on its
brother's arm, it ascends the hill towards the White House, where
extensive preparations are being made for a picnic.

"Good-morning, Mr Sudberry," cries Hector, doffing his bonnet and
bowing low to Lucy.  "Allow me to introduce my sister, Flora; but,"
(glancing at the preparations), "I fear that my visit is inopportune."

Mr Sudberry rushes forward and shakes Hector and sister heartily by the
hand.

"My dear sir, my dear madam, inopportune! impossible!  I am charmed.  We
are just going on a picnic, that is all, and you will go with us.  Lucy,
my dear, allow me to introduce you to Miss Macdonald--"

"_Flora_, my good sir; pray do not let us stand upon ceremony,"
interposes Hector.

Lucy bows with a slight air of bashful reserve; Flora advances and
boldly offers her hand.  The blue eyes and the black meet; the former
twinkle, the latter beam, and the knot is tied; they are fast friends
for life!

"Glorious day," cries Mr Sudberry, rubbing his hands.

"Magnificent," assents Hector.  "You are fortunate in the weather, for,
to say truth, we have little enough of sunshine here.  Sometimes it
rains for three or four weeks, almost without cessation."

"Does it indeed?"

Mr Sudberry's visage elongates a little for one moment.  Just then
George and Fred come out of the White House laden with hampers and
fishing-baskets full of provisions.  They start, gaze in surprise at the
vision, and drop the provisions.

"These are my boys, Miss Macdonald--Hector's sister, lads," cries Mr
Sudberry.  "You'll join us I trust?"  (to Hector.)

Hector assents "with pleasure."  He is a most amiable and accommodating
man.  Meanwhile George and Fred shake hands with Flora, and express
their "delight, their pleasure, etcetera, at this unexpected meeting
which, etcetera, etcetera."  Their eyes meet, too, as Lucy's and Flora's
had met a minute before.  Whether the concussion of that meeting is too
severe, we cannot say, but the result is, that the three pair of eyes
drop to the ground, and their owners blush.  George even goes the length
of stammering something incoherent about "Highland scenery," when a
diversion is created in his favour by Jacky, who comes suddenly round
the corner of the house with a North-American-Indian howl, and with the
nine dogs tearing after him clamorously.

Jacky tumbles over a basket, of course, (a state of disaster is his
normal condition), bruises his shins, and yells fearfully, to the dismay
of his mother, who runs shrieking to the window in her dressing-gown,
meets the gaze of Hector and Flora Macdonald, and retires precipitately
in discomfiture.

No such sensibility affects the stern bosom of Mrs Brown, who darts out
at the front door, catches the unhappy boy by one arm, and drags him
into the house by it as if _it_ were a rope, the child a homeward-bound
vessel, and _she_ a tug-steamer of nine hundred horse-power.  The sounds
that proceed from the nursery thereafter are strikingly suggestive: they
might be taken for loud clapping of hands, but the shrieks which follow
forbid the idea of plaudits.

Poor Tilly, who is confused by the uproar, follows the nurse timidly,
bent upon intercession, for she loves Jacky dearly.

The nine dogs--easy-going, jovial creatures--at once jump to the
conclusion that the ham and cold chicken have been prepared and laid out
there on the green hill-side for their special entertainment.  They make
a prompt dash at the hampers.  Gentlemen and ladies alike rush to the
rescue, and the dogs are obliged to retire.  They do so with a surprised
and injured look in their innocent eyes.

"Have you one or two raw onions and a few cold boiled potatoes?"
inquires Hector.

"I'll run and see," cries George, who soon returns with the desired
edibles in a tin can.

"That will do.  Now I shall let you taste a potato salad; meanwhile I
will assist in carrying the baskets down to the boat."

Hector's and Lucy's eyes meet as this is said.  There must be some
unaccountable influence in the atmosphere this morning, for the meeting
of eyes, all round, seems to produce unusual results!

"Will Mr McAllister accompany us?" says Mr Sudberry.

Mr McAllister permits a quiet smile to disturb the gravity of his
countenance, and agrees to do so, at the same time making vague
reference to the groves of Arcadia, and the delight of dining
_alfresco_, specially in wet weather,--observations which surprise Mr
Sudberry, and cause Hector and the two brothers to laugh.

Mrs Sudberry is ready at last!  The gentlemen and Hobbs load
themselves, and, followed by Jacky and the ladies, proceed to the margin
of the loch, which sheet of water Mr Sudberry styles a "lock," while
his better half deliberately and obstinately calls it a "lake."  The
party is a large one for so small a boat, but it holds them all easily.
Besides, the day is calm and the water lies like a sheet of pure glass;
it seems almost a pity to break such a faithful mirror with the plashing
oars as they row away.

Thus, pleasantly, the picnic began!

George and Fred rowed, Hector steered, and the ladies sang,--Mr
Sudberry assisting with a bass.  His voice, being a strong baritone, was
overwhelmingly loud in the middle notes, and sank into a muffled
ineffective rumble in the deep tones.  Having a bad ear for tune, he
disconcerted the ladies--also the rowers.  But what did that matter?  He
was overflowing with delight, and apologised for his awkwardness by
laughing loudly and begging the ladies to begin again.  This they always
did, with immense good humour.  Mrs Sudberry had two engrossing
subjects of contemplation.  The one was the boat, which, she was firmly
persuaded, was on the point of upsetting when any one moved ever so
little; the other was Jacky, who, owing to some strange impulse natural
to his impish character, strove to stretch as much of his person beyond
the side of the boat as was possible without absolutely throwing himself
overboard.

The loch was upwards of three miles in length; before the party had gone
half the distance Mr Sudberry senior had sung himself quite hoarse, and
Master Sudberry junior had leaped three-quarters of his length out of
the boat six times, and in various other ways had terrified his poor
mother almost into fits, and imperilled the lives of the party more than
once.

"By the way," said Fred, when his father concluded a fine old boat-song
with a magnificent flourish worthy of an operatic _artiste_, "can any
one tell me any thing about the strange old woman that lives down in the
hut near the bridge?"

"Ha! ha!" laughed George, "I can tell you that she's an old witch, and a
very fierce one too."

A slight frown gathered on Flora's white forehead, and a flash shot from
her dark eyes, as George said this, but George saw it not.  Lucy did,
however, and became observant, while George continued--

"But methinks, Fred, that the long visit you paid her lately must have
been sadly misapplied if you have not pumped her history out of her."

"I went to paint, not to pump.  Perhaps Mr Macdonald can tell me about
her."

"Not I," said Hector, lighting a cigar.  "I only know that she lost her
grandson about six years ago, and that she's been mad ever since, poor
thing."

"For shame, Hector," said Flora; "you know that poor old Moggy is no
more mad than yourself."

"Possibly not, sweet sister, but as you often tell me that I _am_ mad,
and as I never deny the charge, it seems to me that you have said
nothing to vindicate the old woman's character for sanity."

"Poor thing," said Flora, turning from her brother, and speaking with
warmth to Fred; "if you knew how much that unhappy old creature has
suffered, you would not be surprised to find her somewhat cross at
times.  She is one of my people, and I'm very glad to find that you take
an interest in her."

"`My people!'  Flora then takes an interest in the poor," thought the
observant Lucy.  Another link was added to the chain of friendship.

"Do tell us about her, please," cried George.  "There is nothing that I
love so much as a story--especially a horrible one, with two or three
dreadful murders to chill one's blood, and a deal of retributive justice
to warm it up again.  I'm dying to know about old Moggy."

"Are you?" said Flora saucily.  "I'm glad to hear that, because I mean
to keep you in a dying state.  I will tell the story as a dead secret to
Lucy, when I take her to see my poor people, and you sha'n't hear it for
weeks to come."

George cast up his eyes in affected despair, and said with a groan, that
he "would endeavour to exist notwithstanding."

"Oh!  _I_ know all about old Moggy," cried Jacky with energy.

Everyone looked at the boy in surprise.  In the midst of the foregoing
dialogue he had suddenly ceased to tempt his fate, and sat down quietly
with a hand on each knee and his eyes fixed intently on Flora
Macdonald--to the surprise and secret joy of his mother, who, being thus
relieved from anxiety on his account, had leisure to transfer the agony
of her attention to the boat.

"What do _you_ know about her, child?" asked Flora.

"She's jolly," replied the boy with prompt vivacity.

"Most genuine testimony in her favour," laughed Hector, "though the word
is scarcely appropriate to one whose temper is sour."

"Why do you think her jolly, my boy?" said Flora.

"'Cause I do.  She's a old brick!"

"Jacky, darling," said Mrs Sudberry, "do try to give up those ugly
slang words--they're _so_ naughty--that is to say--at least--they are
very ugly if they're not positively naughty."

"She's a jolly old brick," retorted Jacky, with a look at his mother
that was the concentrated essence of defiance.

"Dear child!"

Lucy snickered and coughed somewhat violently into her handkerchief;
while Flora, repressing a smile, said--

"But why does Jacky like old Moggy so much?"

"Hallo! don't run us ashore," shouted Mr Sudberry, starting up with a
sudden impetuosity which shook the boat and sent a pang to the heart of
his wife, the sharpness of which no words can convey.  A piercing
shriek, however, betrayed the state of her feelings as the boat was
swept violently round by George to avoid a point of rock.  As they were
now drawing near to the spot where it was proposed that they should
picnic, Jacky suddenly became alive to the fact that in his interest
about old Moggy he had been betrayed into a forgetfulness of his
opportunities.  No time was to be lost.  Turning round with a cheer, he
made a desperate plunge at the water and went much farther over than he
had intended, insomuch that he would certainly have taken a "header"
into its depths, had not McAllister grasped him by the baggy region of
his trousers and gravely lifted him into his mother's lap.  Next moment
the boat's keel grated sharply on the gravel, to the horror of Mrs
Sudberry, who, having buried her face in the bosom of her saved son, saw
not what had occurred, and regarded the shock as her death-warrant.

Thus agreeably the picnic continued!



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 7.

THE PICNIC CONCLUDED.

What a glorious day it was, and what spirits it put everybody in!  The
sun shone with an intensity almost torrid; the spot on which they had
landed was green and bright, like a slice out of the realms of
Fairy-land.  No zephyr dared to disturb the leaves or the glassy water;
great clouds hung in the bright blue sky--rotund, fat, and heavy, like
mountains of wool or butter.  Everything in nature seemed to have gone
to sleep at noon, as if Spanish principles had suddenly imbued the
universe.

And what a business they had, to be sure, with the spreading of the
viands and the kindling of the fire!  The latter was the first duty.
Hector said he would undertake it, but after attempting to light it with
damp sticks he gave it up and assisted the ladies to lay the cloth on
the grass.  Then George and Fred got the fire to kindle, and Mr
Sudberry, in attempting to mend it, burnt his fingers and put it out;
whereupon McAllister came to his rescue and got it to blaze in right
earnest.  Jacky thereafter tried to jump over it, fell into it, and was
saved from premature destruction by being plucked out and quenched
before having received any further damage than the singeing of his hair
and eyelashes.  He was thus rendered a little more hideous and
impish-like than Nature had intended him to be.

Jacky happened to be particularly bad that day.  Not only was he more
bent on mischief than usual, but Fortune seemed to enhance the value,
(so to speak), of his evil doings, by connecting them with disasters of
an unexpected nature.  He tried to leap over a small stream, (in
Scotland styled a burn), and fell into it.  This necessitated drying at
the fire--a slow process and disagreeable in all circumstances, but
especially so when connected with impatience and headstrong obstinacy.
Then he put his foot on a plate of sandwiches, and was within an ace of
sitting down on a jam tart, much to his own consternation, poor boy, for
had he destroyed _that_, the chief source of his own prospective
felicity would have been dried up.

It is not to be supposed that everyone regarded Jacky's eccentricities
with the forgiving and loving spirit of his mother.  Mr Sudberry, good
man, did not mind much; he was out for a day's enjoyment, and having
armed himself _cap-a-pie_ with benevolence, was invulnerable.  Not so
the other members of the party, all of whom had to exercise a good deal
of forbearance towards the boy.  McAllister took him on his knee and
gravely began to entertain him with a story, for which kindness Jacky
kicked his shins and struggled to get away; so the worthy man smiled
sadly, and let him go, remarking that Ovid himself would be puzzled to
metamorphose him into a good boy--this in an undertone, of course.

Hector Macdonald was somewhat sanguine and irascible in temper.  He felt
a tingling in his fingers, and an irresistible desire to apply them to
the ears of the little boy.

"Come here, Jacky!" said he.

Flora, who understood his feelings, smiled covertly while she busied
herself with cups, plates, and pannikins.  Lucy, who did not understand
his feelings, thought, "he must be a good-natured fellow to speak so
kindly to a child who had annoyed him very much."  Lucy did not admit
that she herself had been much annoyed by her little brother's
pertinacity in interrupting conversation between her and Hector,
although she might have done so with perfect truth.

Jacky advanced with hesitation.  Hector bent down playfully and seized
him by both arms, turning his back upon the party, and thus bringing his
own bulky figure between them and young Hopeful.

"Jack, I want you to be good."

"I won't!" promptly said, and with much firmness.

"Oh, yes, you will!"  A stern masculine countenance within an inch of
his nose, and a vigorous little shake, somewhat disconcerted Jacky, who
exhibited a tendency to roar; but Hector closed his strong hands on the
little arms so suddenly and so powerfully, that, being unexpectedly
agonised, Jacky was for a moment paralysed.  The awful glare of a pair
of bright blue eyes, and the glistening of a double row of white teeth,
did not tend to re-assure him.

"Oh, yes, you will, my little man!" repeated Hector, tumbling him over
on his back with a smile of ineffable sweetness, but with a little touch
of violence that seemed inconsistent therewith.

Jacky rose, gasped, and ran away, glancing over his shoulder with a look
of alarm.  This little piece of by-play was not observed by any one but
Flora, who exchanged a bright glance and a smile with her brother.

The imp was quelled--he had met his match!  During the remainder of the
picnic he disturbed no one, but kept at the farthest possible distance
from Hector that was consistent with being one of the party.  But it is
not to be supposed that his nature was changed.  No--Jacky's wickedness
only sought a new channel in which to flow.  He consoled himself with
thoughts of the dire mischief he would perpetrate when the dinner was
over.  Meanwhile, he sat down and gloated over the jam tart, devouring
it in imagination.

"Is that water boiling yet?" cried Mr Sudberry.

"Just about it.  Hand me the eggs, Fred."

"Here they are," cried Flora, going towards the fire with a basket.

She looked very sweet at that moment, for the active operations in which
she had been engaged had flushed her cheeks and brightened her eyes.

George and Fred gazed at her in undisguised admiration.  Becoming
suddenly aware of the impoliteness of the act, the former ran to relieve
her of the basket of eggs; the latter blushed, and all but upset the
kettle in an effort to improve the condition of the fire.

"Fred, you goose, leave alone, will you?" roared George, darting forward
to prevent the catastrophe.

"This is really charming, is it not, Mr Macgregor?" said Mrs Sudberry,
with a languid smile.

"Macdonald, madam, if I may be allowed to correct you," said Hector,
with a smile and a little bow.

"Ah, to be sure!"  (with an attempt at a laugh.) "I have such a stupid
habit of misnaming people."

If Mrs Sudberry had told the exact truth she would have said, "I have
such difficulty in remembering people's names that I have made up my
mind to call people by any name that comes first into my head rather
than confess my forgetfulness."  But she did not say this; she only went
on to observe that she had no idea it would have been so charming.

"To what do you refer?" said Hector,--"the scenery, the weather, or the
prospect of dinner?"

"Oh! you shocking man, how _can_ you talk of food in the same breath
with--"

"The salt!" exclaimed Lucy with a little shriek.  Was there ever a
picnic at which the salt was not forgotten, or supposed to have been
forgotten?  Never!

Mr Sudberry's cheerful countenance fell.  He had never eaten an egg
without salt in his life, and did not believe in the possibility of
doing so.  Everyone ransacked everything in anxious haste.

"Here it is!"  (hope revived.)

"No, it's only the pepper."  (Mitigated despair and ransacking
continued.)

"Maybe it'll be in this parcel," suggested McAllister, holding up one
which had not yet been untied.

"Oh! bring it to me, Mr Macannister!" cried Mrs Sudberry with unwonted
energy, for her happiness was dependent on salt that day, coupled, of
course, with weather and scenery.  "Faugh! no, it's your horrid onions,
Mr MacAndrews."

"Why, you have forgotten the potato salad, Mr Macdonald," exclaimed
Lucy.

"No, I have not: it can be made in five minutes, but not without salt.
Where _can_ the salt be?  I am certain it could not have been
forgotten."

The only individual of the party who remained calmly indifferent was
Master Jacky.  That charming creature, having made up his mind to feed
on jam tart, did not feel that there was any need for salt.  An
attentive observer might have noticed, however, that Jacky's look of
supreme indifference suddenly gave place to one of inexpressible glee.
He became actually red in the face with hugging himself and endeavouring
to suppress all visible signs of emotion.  His eye had unexpectedly
fallen on the paper of salt which lay on the centre of the table-cloth,
so completely exposed to view that nobody saw it!

"Why, here it is, actually before our eyes!" shouted George, seizing the
paper and holding it up.

A small cheer greeted its discovery.  A groan instantly followed, as
George spilt the whole of it.  As it fell on the cloth, however, it was
soon gathered up, and then Mr Sudberry ordered everyone to sit down on
the grass in a circle round the cloth.

"What a good boy Jacky has suddenly become!" remarked Lucy in some
surprise.

"Darling!" ejaculated his mother.

"A _very_ good little fellow," said Flora, with a peculiar smile.

Jacky said nothing.  Hector's eye was upon him, as was his upon Hector.
Deep unutterable thoughts filled his swelling heart, but he spoke not.
He merely gazed at the jam tart, a large portion of which was in a few
minutes supplied to him.  The immediate result was crimson hands, arms,
and cheeks.

While Hector was engaged in concocting the potato salad the kettle
upset, extinguished the fire, and sent up a loud triumphant hiss of
steam mingled with ashes.  Fortunately the potatoes were cooked, so the
dinner was at last begun in comfort--that is to say, everyone was very
hot, very much exhausted and excited, and very thirsty.  Jacky gorged
himself with tart in five minutes, and then took an opportunity of
quietly retiring into the bushes, sheltered by which he made a detour
unseen towards the place where the boat had been left.

Alas for the picnic party that day, that they allowed Hector to prevail
on them to begin with his potato salad!  It was partly composed of raw
onions.  After having eaten a few mouthfuls of it, their sense of taste
was utterly destroyed!  The chickens tasted of onions, so did the cheese
and the bread.  Even the whiskey was flavoured with onions.  The
beefsteak-pie might as well have been an onion-pie; indeed, no member of
the party could, with shut eyes, have positively said that it was not.
The potatoes harmonised with the prevailing flavour; not so the
ginger-bread, however, nor the butter.  Everything was oniony; they
finished their repast with a sweet onion-tart!  To make things worse,
the sky soon became overcast, a stiff breeze began to blow, and Mr
McAllister "opined" that there was going to be a squall.

A piercing shriek put an abrupt termination to the meal!

Intent on mischief; the imp had succeeded in pushing off the boat and
clambering into it.  For some time he rowed about in a circle with one
oar, much delighted with his performances.  But when the breeze began to
increase and blow the boat away he became alarmed; and when the oar
missed the water and sent him sprawling on his back, he gave utterance
to the shriek above referred to.  Luckily the wind carried him past the
place where they were picnicking.  There was but one mode of getting at
the boat.  It was at once adopted.  Hector threw off his coat and vest,
and swam out to it!

Ten minutes later, they were rowing at full speed for the foot of the
loch.  The sky was dark and a squall was tearing up the waters of the
lake.  Then the rain came down in torrents.  Then it was discovered that
the cloaks had been left at Hazlewood Creek, as the place where they had
dined was named.  To turn back was impossible.  The gentlemen's coats
were therefore put on the ladies' shoulders.  All were soaked to the
skin in a quarter of an hour.  Jacky was quiet--being slightly overawed,
but not humbled!  His mother was too frightened to speak or scream.  Mr
Sudberry rubbed his hands and said, "Come, I like to have a touch of all
sorts of weather, and _won't_ we have a jolly tea and a rousing fire
when we get home?"  Mrs Sudberry sighed at the word "home."  McAllister
volunteered a song, and struck up the "Callum's Lament," a dismally
cheerful Gaelic ditty.  In the midst of this they reached the
landing-place, from which they walked through drenched heather and
blinding rain to the White House.

Thus, drearily, the picnic ended!



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 8.

CONCERNING FOWLS AND POOLS.

One morning the Sudberry Family sat on the green hill-side, in front of
the White House, engaged in their usual morning amusement--feeding the
cocks and hens.

It is astonishing what an amount of interest may be got up in this way!
If one goes at it with a sort of philanthropico-philosophical spirit, a
full hour of genuine satisfaction may be thus obtained--not to speak of
the joy imparted to the poultry, and the profound glimpses obtained into
fowl character.

There were about twenty hens, more or less, and two cocks.  With
wonderful sagacity did these creatures come to perceive that when the
Sudberrys brought out chairs and stools after breakfast, and sat down
thereon, they, the fowls, were in for a feed!  And it was surprising the
punctuality with which they assembled each fine morning for this
purpose.

Most of the family simply enjoyed the thing; but Mr Sudberry, in
addition to enjoying it, studied it.  He soon came to perceive that the
cocks were cowardly wretches, and this gave him occasion to point out to
his wife the confiding character and general superiority of female
nature, even in hens.  The two large cocks could not be prevailed on to
feed out of the hand by any means.  Under the strong influence of
temptation they would strut with bold aspect, but timid, hesitating
step, towards the proffered crumb, but the slightest motion would scare
them away; and when they did venture to peck, they did so with violent
haste, and instantly fled in abject terror.

It was this tendency in these ignoble birds that exasperated poor Jacky,
whose chief delight was to tempt the unfortunate hens to place unlimited
confidence in him, and then clutch them by the beaks or heads, and hold
them wriggling in his cruel grasp; and it was this tendency that induced
him, in the heat of disappointment, and without any reference whatever
to sex, to call the cocks "big hens!"

The hens, on the other hand, exhibited gentle and trusting natures.  Of
course there was vanity of character among them, as there is among
ladies; but, for the most part, they were wont to rush towards their
human friends in a body, and peck the crumbs--at first timidly, then
boldly--from their palms.  There was one hen--a black and ragged one,
with only half a tail, and a downtrodden aspect--which actually went the
length of jumping up on little Tilly's knee, and feeding out of her lap.
It even allowed her to stroke its back, but it evidently permitted
rather than enjoyed the process.

On the morning in question, the black hen was bolder than usual; perhaps
it had not breakfasted that day, for it was foremost in the rush when
the family appeared with chairs and stools, and leaped on Tilly's knee,
without invitation, as soon as she was seated; whereupon Tilly called it
"a dear darling pretty 'ittle pet," and patted its back.

"Why, the creature seems quite fond of you, my child," said Mrs
Sudberry.

"So it is, mamma.  It loves me, I know, by the way it looks at me with
its beautiful black eye.  What a pity the other is not so nice!  I think
the poor darling must be blind of that eye."

There was no doubt about that.  Blackie's right eye was blinder than any
bat's; it was an opaque white ball--a circumstance which caused it no
little annoyance, for the other eye had to do duty for both, and this
involved constant screwing of the head about, and unwearied
watchfulness.  It was as if a solitary sentinel were placed to guard the
front and back doors of a house at one and the same time.  Despite
Blackie's utmost care, Jacky got on her blind side more than once, and
caught her by the remnant of her poor tail.  This used to spoil Tilly's
morning amusement, and send her sorrowful into the house.  But what did
that matter to Jacky?  He sometimes broke out worse than usual, and set
the whole brood into an agitated flutter, which rather damaged the
happiness of the family.  But what did that matter to Jacky?

Oh! he was a "darling child," _according to his mother_.

For some time the feeding went on quietly enough.  The fowls were
confiding.  Mr Sudberry was becoming immensely philosophical; Mrs
Sudberry was looking on in amiable gratification; George had prevailed
on a small white hen to allow him to scratch her head; Fred was taking a
rapid portrait of the smallest cock; Lucy had drawn the largest
concourse towards herself by scattering her crumbs on the ground; Jacky
had only caught two chickens by their beaks and one hen by its tail, and
was partially strangling another; and the nine McAllister dogs were
ranged in a semicircle round the group, looking on benignantly, and
evidently inclined to put in for a share, but restrained by the memory
of past rebuffs--when little Blackie, standing on Tilly's knee, and
having eaten a large share of what was going, raised itself to its full
height, flapped its wings, and gave utterance to a cackle of triumph!  A
burst of laughter followed--and Tilly gave a shriek of delighted
surprise that at once dissolved the spell, and induced the horrified
fowl to seek refuge in precipitate flight.

"By the way," said Mrs Sudberry, "that reminds me that this would be a
most charming day for your excursion over the mountains to that Lake
What-you-may-call-it."

What connection there was between the little incident just described and
the excursion to Lake "What-you-may-call-it" we cannot pretend to state;
but there must have been some sort of connection in Mrs Sudberry's
brain, and we record her observation because it was the origin of this
day's proceedings.  Mr Sudberry had, for some time past, talked of a
long walking excursion with the whole family to a certain small loch or
tarn among the hills.  Mrs Sudberry had made up her mind,--first, that
she would not go; and second, that she would get everyone else to go, in
order to let Mrs Brown and Hobbs have a thorough cleaning-up of the
house.  This day seemed to suit for the excursion--hence her propounding
of the plan.  Poor delicate Tilly seldom went on long expeditions,--she
was often doomed to remain at home.

Mr Sudberry shouted, "Capital! huzza!" clapped his hands, and rushed
into the house to prepare, scattering the fowls like chaff in a
whirlwind.  Fired by his example, the rest of the family followed.

"But we must have our bathe first, papa," cried Lucy.

"Certainly, my love, there will be time for that."  So away flew Lucy to
the nursery, whence she re-issued with Jacky, Tilly, Mrs Brown, and
towels.

The bathing-pool was what George called a "great institution."  In using
this slang expression George was literally correct, for the bathing-pool
was not a natural feature of the scenery: it was artificial, and had
been instituted a week after the arrival of the family.  The loch was a
little too far from the house to be a convenient place of resort for
ablutionary purposes.  Close beside the house ran a small burn.  Its
birthplace was one of those dark glens or "corries" situated high up
among those mountains that formed a grand towering background in all
Fred's sketches of the White House.  Its bed was rugged and broken--a
deep cutting, which the water had made on the hill-side.  Here was quite
a forest of dwarf-trees and shrubs; but so small were they, and so deep
the torrent's bed, that you could barely see the tree-tops as you
approached the spot over the bare hills.  In dry weather this burn
tinkled over a chaos of rocks, forming myriads of miniature cascades and
hosts of limpid little pools.  During heavy rains it ran roaring
riotously over its rough bed with a force that swept to destruction
whatever chanced to come in its way.

In this burn, screened from observation by an umbrageous coppice, was
the bathing-pool.  No pool in the stream was deep enough, in ordinary
weather, to take Jacky above the knees; but one pool had been found,
about two hundred yards from the house, which was large enough, if it
had only been deeper.  To deepen it, therefore, they went--every member
of the family.

Let us recall the picture:--

Father, in shirt sleeves rolled up to the shoulders, and trousers rolled
up to the knees, in the middle of the pool, trying to upheave from the
bottom a rock larger than himself--if he only knew it!  But he doesn't,
because it is deeply embedded, therefore he toils on in hope.  George
building, with turf and stone, a strong embankment with a narrow outlet,
to allow the surplus water to escape.  Fred, Lucy, Tilly, and Peter
cutting turf and carrying stones.  Mother superintending the whole, and
making remarks.  Jacky making himself universally disagreeable, and
distracting his mother in a miscellaneous sort of way.

"It's as good as Robinson Crusoe any day!" cries father, panting and
wiping his bald forehead.  "What a stone!  I can't budge it."  He stoops
again, to conquer, if possible; but the great difficulty with father is,
that the water comes so near to his tucked-up trousers that he cannot
put forth his full strength without wetting them; and mother insists
that this must not be done.  "Come, George and Fred, bring the pick-axe
and the iron lever, we _must_ have this fellow out, he's right in the
middle of the pool.  Now, then, heave!"

The lads obey, and father straddles so fiercely that one leg slips down.

"Hah! _there_, you've done it now!" from mother.

"Well, my dear, it can't be helped," meekly, from father, who is
secretly glad, and prepares to root out the stone like a Hercules.
Jacky gets excited, and hopes the other leg will slip down and get wet,
too!

"Here, hand me the lever, George; you don't put enough force to it."
George obeys and grins.  "Now then, once more, with will--ho! hi! hup!"
Father strains at the lever, which, not having been properly fixed,
slips, and he finds himself suddenly in a sitting posture, with the
water round his waist.  As the cool element embraces his loins, he
"h-ah-ah!" gasps, as every bather knows how; but the shock to his system
is nothing compared with the aggravation to his feelings when he hears
the joyful yell of triumph that issues from the brazen lungs of his
youngest hope.

"Never mind, I'll work all the better now--come, let us be jolly, and
clear out the rest of the pool."  Good man! nothing can put him out.
Gradually the bottom is cleared of stones, (excepting the big one), and
levelled, and the embankment is built to a sufficient height.

"Now for the finishing touch!" cries George; "bring the turf; Fred--I'm
ready!"  The water of the burn is rushing violently through the narrow
outlet in the "dike."  A heavy stone is dropped into the gap, and turf
is piled on.

"More turf! more stones! quick, look alive!--it'll burst everything--
there, that's it!"

All hands toil and work at the opening, to smother it up.  The angry
element leaks through, bursts, gushes--is choked back with a ready turf;
and squirts up in their faces.  Mother is stunned to see the power of so
small a stream when the attempt is made to check it thoroughly; she is
not mechanically-minded by nature, and has learned nothing in that way
by education.  It is stopped at last, however.

For a quarter of an hour the waters from above are cut off from those
below, as completely as were those of the Jordan in days of old.  They
all stand panting and silent, watching the rising of the water, while
George keeps a sharp eye on the dike to detect and repair any weakness.
At last it is full, and the surplus runs over in a pretty cascade, while
the accommodating stream piles mud and stones against the dike, and thus
unwittingly strengthens the barrier.  The pool is formed, full three
feet deep by twenty broad.  Jacky wants to bathe at once.

"But the pool is like pea-soup, my pet--wait until it clears."

"I won't--let me bathe!"

"O Jacky, my darling!"

He does; for in his struggles he slips on the bank, goes in head
foremost, and is fished out in a disgusting condition!

So the bathing-pool was made.  It was undoubtedly a "great institution;"
they did not know at the time, that, like many such institutions, it was
liable to destruction; but they lived to see it.

Meanwhile, to return from this long digression, Lucy, Tilly, and Jacky
bathed, while Mrs Brown watched and scolded.  This duty performed, they
returned to the house, where they found the remainder of the party ready
for a journey on foot to Lake "What-you-may-call-it," which lake Lucy
named the Lake of the Clouds, its Gaelic cognomen being quite
unpronounceable.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 9.

A GRAND EXCURSION OVER THE MOUNTAINS.

Little did good Mr Sudberry think what an excursion lay before him that
day, when, in the pride of untried strength and unconquerable spirits,
he strode up the mountain-side, with his dutiful family following like a
"tail" behind him.  There was a kind of narrow sheep-path, up which they
marched in single file.  Father first, Lucy next, with her gown prettily
tucked-up; George and Fred following, with large fishing-baskets stuffed
with edibles; Jacky next, light and active, but as yet quiescent;
timorous Peter bringing up the rear.  He, also, was laden, but not
heavily.  Mr Sudberry carried rod and basket, for he had been told that
there were large trout in the Lake of the Clouds.

Ever and anon the party halted and turned round to wave hats and
kerchiefs to Mrs Sudberry, Tilly, and Mrs Brown, who returned the
salute with interest, until the White House appeared a mere speck in the
valley below, and Mrs Brown became so small, that Jacky, for the first
time in his life, regarded her as a contemptible _little_ thing!  At
last a shoulder of the hill shut out the view of the valley, and they
began to _feel_ that they were in a deep solitude, surrounded by wild
mountain peaks.

It is a fact, that there is something peculiarly invigorating in
mountain air.  What that something is we are not prepared to say.
Oxygen and ozone have undoubtedly something to do with it, but in what
proportions we know not.  Scientific men could give us a learned
disquisition on the subject, no doubt; we therefore refer our readers to
scientific men, and confine our observations to the simple statement of
the fact, that there is something extremely invigorating in mountain
air.  Every mountaineer knows it; Mr Sudberry and family proved it that
day beyond dispute, excepting, by the way, poor Peter, whose unfortunate
body was not adapted for rude contact with the rough elements of this
world.

The whole party panted and became very warm as they toiled upwards; but,
instead of growing fatigued, they seemed to gather fresh strength and
additional spirit at every step--always excepting Peter, of course.
Soon a wild spirit came over them.  On gaining a level patch of springy
turf, father gave a cheer, and rushed madly, he knew not, and cared not,
whither.  Sons and daughters echoed the cheer, and followed his example.
The sun burst forth at the moment, crisping the peaks, gorges, and
clouds--which were all mingled together--with golden fires.  Each had
started off without definite intention, and they were scattered far and
wide in five minutes, but each formed the natural resolve to run to the
nearest summit, in order to devour more easily the view.  Thus they all
converged again and met on a neighbouring knoll that overtopped a
terrific precipice which over hung a small lake.

"The--Lake--of the--Clouds!" exclaimed Lucy, as she came up, breathless
and beaming.

"Impossible!" cried her father; "McAllister says it is on the other side
of the ridge, and we're not near the top yet.  Where are Peter and
Jacky?"

"I cannot see them!" said George and Fred, in a breath.

"No more can I," cried Lucy.

No more could anybody, except a hunter or an eagle, for they were seated
quietly among grey rocks and brown ferns, which blended with their
costume so as to render them all but invisible.

The party on the knoll were, however, the reverse of invisible to Jacky
and his exhausted companion.  They stood out, black as ink, against the
bright blue sky, and were so sharply defined that Jacky declared he
could see the "turn-up of Lucy's nose."

The reader must not suppose that Master Jacky was exhausted, like his
slender companion.  A glance at his firm lip, flushed cheek, sturdy
little limbs, and bright eyes, would have made that abundantly plain.
No, Jacky was in a _peculiar_ frame of mind--that was all.  He chose to
sit beside Peter, and, as he never condescended to give a reason for his
choice, we cannot state one.  He appeared to be meditatively inclined
that day.  Perhaps he was engaged in the concoction of some excruciating
piece of wickedness--who knows?

Suddenly Jacky turned with a look of earnest gravity towards his
companion, who was a woebegone spectacle of exhaustion.  "I say, we'd
better go on, don't you think?"

Peter looked up languidly, sighed heavily, and laid his hand on the
fishing-basket full of sandwiches, which constituted his burden.  It was
small and light, but to the poor boy it felt like a ton.  Jacky's eyes
became still more owlishly wide, and his face graver than ever.  He had
never seen him in this condition before--indeed, Jacky's experience of
life beyond the nursery being limited, he had never seen any one in such
a case before.

"I say, Peter, are you desprit blow'd?"

"Desprit," sighed Peter.

Jacky paused and gazed at his companion for nearly a minute.

"I say, d'ye think you could walk if you tried?"

"Oh, yes!"  (with a groan and a smile;) "come, I'll try to push ahead
now."

"Here, give me the basket," cried Jacky, starting up with sudden and
tremendous energy, and wrenching the basket out of Peter's hand.  He did
it with ease, although the small clerk was twice the size of the imp.

Peter remonstrated, but in vain.  Mrs Brown, a woman of powerful frame
and strong mind, could not turn Jacky from his purpose--it was not
likely, therefore, that an amiable milk-and-water boy, in a state of
exhaustion, could do it.  Jacky swung the basket over his shoulder with
an amount of exertion that made him stagger, and, commanding Peter to
follow, marched up the hill with compressed lips and knitted brows.

It was an epoch in the mental development of Jacky--it was a new
sensation to the child.  Hitherto he had known nothing but the feeling
of dependence.  Up to this point he had been compelled by the force of
circumstances to look up to everyone--and, alas! he had done so with a
very bad grace.  He had never known what it was to help any one.  His
mother had thoroughly spoiled him.  Strange infatuation in the mother!
She had often blamed the boy for spoiling his toys; but she had never
blamed herself for spoiling the boy.  "Darling Jacky! don't ask the
child to do anything for you--he's too young yet."  So Jacky was never
asked to help any one in any way, except by Mrs Brown, who did not
"ask," but commanded, and, although she never rewarded obedience with
the laurel, either literally or figuratively, she invariably punished
disobedience with the _palm_.  Little Tilly always did everything she
wanted done herself; and could never do enough for Jacky, so that she
afforded no opportunity for her brother to exercise amiable qualities.
Thus was Jacky trained to be a selfish little imp, and to this training
he superadded the natural wickedness of his own little heart.  But now,
for the first time, the tables were turned.  Jacky felt that Peter was
dependent on him--that he could not get on without him.

"Poor Peter, I'll help him--he's a weak skinny chap, and I'm strong as a
lion--as a elephant--as a crokindile--anything!  Come on, Peter, are you
getting better now?"  Thus they went up the hill together.

"Ha! there they are at last, close under this mound.  Why, I do believe
that Jacky's carrying the basket!"

Mr Sudberry was bereft of breath at this discovery; so was everyone
else.  When the boy stumped up the hill and flung down the basket with
an emphatic, "there!" his father turned to the small clerk--

"How now, sir, did you bid Jacky carry that?"

"Please, sir--no, sir;" (whimpering), "but Master Jacky forced it out of
my hand, sir, and insisted on carrying it.  He saw that I was very
tired, sir--and so I am, but I would not have asked him to carry it, if
I had been ever so tired--indeed I would not, sir."

"I'm not displeased, my boy," said Mr Sudberry, kindly, patting him on
the head; "I only wanted to know if _he offered_."

"Of course I did," cried the imp, stoutly, with his arms akimbo--"and
why not?  Don't you see that the poor boy is dead beat; and was I goin'
to stand by and see him faint by his-self; all alone on the mountain?"

"Certainly not!" and Mr Sudberry seized Jacky and whirled him round
till he was quite giddy, and fell on the heather with a cheer, and
declared that he would not budge from that spot until they had lunched.
Need we say that Mr Sudberry himself was the subject of a new sensation
that day,--a sensation of a peculiarly hopeful nature,--as he gazed at
his youngest son; while that refined little creature crammed himself
with sandwiches and ginger-bread, and besmeared his hands and visage
with a pot of jam, that had been packed away by his mother for her own
darling's special use?

"My poor lad, you must not come any farther with us.  I had no idea you
were so much fatigued.  Remain here by the provisions, and rest in the
sunshine till we return."

So Mr Sudberry gave Peter a plaid that had been carried up to serve as
a table-cloth, and told him to wrap well up in it, lest he should catch
cold.  They left him there on the knoll, refreshed and happy, and with a
new feeling in his breast in regard to Jacky, whom, up to that day, he
had regarded as an imp of the most hopelessly incorrigible description.

"Over the mountain and over the moor" the Sudberrys wandered.  The ridge
was gained, and a new world of mountains, glens, gorges, and peaks was
discovered on the other side of it, with the Lake of the Clouds lying,
like a bright diamond, far below them.  They descended into this new
world with a cheer.  A laugh or a cheer was their chief method of
conversation now--their spirits as well as their bodies being so high.
"Not a house to be seen! not a sign of man! the untrodden wilderness!"
cried Mr Sudberry.

"Robinson Crusoe!  Mungo Park!  Pooh!" shouted George.  "Hooray!" yelled
Jacky.  The whole party laughed again, and down the slope they went, at
such a pace that it was a miracle they did not terminate their career in
the lake with the poetic name.

At this point everyone was suddenly "seized."  Mr Sudberry and George
were seized with an irresistible desire to fish; Fred was seized with a
burning desire to sketch; Lucy was seized with a passionate desire to
gather wild flowers; and Jacky was seized with a furious desire to wet
himself and _wade with his shoes on_.  He did it too, and, in the course
of an hour, tumbled into so many peat-bogs, and besmeared himself with
so much coffee-coloured mud, that his own mother would have failed to
recognise him.  He was supremely happy--so was his father.  At the very
first cast he, (the father), hooked a trout of half a pound weight, and
lost it, too! but that was nothing.  The next cast he caught one of
nearly a pound.  George was equally successful.  Fortune smiled.  Before
evening began to close, both baskets were half full of splendid trout;
Lucy's basket was quite full of botanical specimens; Fred's sketch was a
success, and Jacky was as brown as a Hottentot from head to foot.  They
prepared to return home, rejoicing.

Haste was needful now.  A short cut round the shoulder of the ridge was
recommended by George, and taken.  It conducted them into a totally
different gap from the one which led to their own valley.  If followed
out, this route would have led them to a spot ten miles distant from
their Highland home; but they were in blissful ignorance of the fact.
All gaps and gorges looked much the same to them.  Suddenly Mr Sudberry
paused:--

"Is this the way we came?"

Grave looks, but no reply.

"Let us ascend this ridge, and make sure that we are right."

They did so, and made perfectly certain that they were wrong.
Attempting to correct their mistake, they wandered more hopelessly out
of their way, but it was not until the shades of night began to fall
that Mr Sudberry, with a cold perspiration on his brow, expressed his
serious belief that they were "lost!"



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 10.

LOST ON THE MOUNTAINS.

Did ever the worthy London merchant, in the course of his life, approach
to the verge of the region of despair, it was on that eventful night
when he found himself and his family lost among the mountains of
Scotland.

"It's dreadful," said he, sitting down on a cold grey rock, and
beginning slowly to realise the utter hopelessness of their condition.

"My poor Lucy, don't be cast down," (drawing her to his breast), "after
all, it will only be a night of wandering.  But we _must_ keep moving.
We must not venture to lie down in our wet clothes.  We must not even
rest long at a time, lest a chill should come upon you."

"But I'm quite warm, papa, and only a very little tired.  I could walk
for miles yet."  She said this cheerily, but she could not help looking
anxious.  The night was so dark, however, that no one could see her
looks.

"Do let me go off alone, father," urged George; "I am as fresh as
possible, and could run over the hills until I should fall in with--"

"Don't mention it, George; I feel that our only hope is to keep
together.  Poor Peter! what will become of that boy?"

Mr Sudberry became almost, desperate as he thought of the small clerk.
He started up.  "Come, we must keep moving.  You are not cold, dear? are
you _sure_ you are not cold?"

"Quite sure, papa; why are you so anxious?"

"Because I have a flask of brandy, which I mean to delay using until we
break down and cannot get on without it.  Whenever you begin to get
chilled I must give you brandy.  Not till then, however; spirits are
hurtful when there is hard toil before you, but when you break down
there is no resource left.  Rest, food, sleep, would be better; but
these we have no chance of getting to-night.  Poor Jacky! does he keep
warm, George?"

"No fear of him," cried George, with forced gaiety.  "He's all right."

Jack had broken down completely soon after nightfall.  Vigorously,
manfully had he struggled to keep up; but when his usual hour for going
to bed arrived, nature refused to sustain him.  He sank to the ground,
and then George wrapped him up in his shooting-coat, in which he now
lay, sound asleep, like a dirty brown bundle, on his brother's
shoulders.

"I'll tell you what," said Fred, after they had walked, or rather
stumbled, on for some time in silence.  "Suppose you all wait here for
ten minutes while I run like a greyhound to the nearest height and see
if anything is to be seen.  Mamma must have alarmed the whole
neighbourhood by this time; and if they are looking for us, they will be
sure to have lanterns or torches."

"A good idea, my boy.  Go, and pause every few minutes to shout, so that
we may not lose you.  Keep shouting, Fred, and we will wait here and
reply."

Fred was off in a moment, and before he had got fifty yards away was
floundering knee-deep in a peat-bog.  So much for reckless haste,
thought he, as he got out of the bog and ran forward with much more
caution.  Soon those waiting below heard his clear voice far up the
heights.  A few minutes more, and it rang forth again more faintly.  Mr
Sudberry remarked that it sounded as if it came from the clouds: he put
his hands to his mouth sailor fashion, and replied.  Then they listened
intently for the next shout.  How still it was while they sat there!
What a grand, gloomy solitude!  They could hear no sound but the beating
of their own hearts.  Solemn thoughts of the Creator of these mighty
hills crept into their minds as they gazed around and endeavoured to
pierce the thick darkness.  But this was impossible.  It was one of
those nights in which the darkness was so profound that no object could
be seen even indistinctly at the distance of ten yards.  Each could see
the other's form like a black marble statue, but no feature could be
traced.  The mountain peaks and ridges could indeed be seen against the
dark sky, like somewhat deeper shadows; but the crags and corries, the
scattered rocks and heathery knolls, the peat-bogs and the tarns of the
wild scene which these circling peaks enclosed--all were steeped in
impenetrable gloom.  There seemed something terrible, almost unnatural,
in this union of thick darkness with profound silence.  Mr Sudberry was
startled by the sound of his own voice when he again spoke.

"The boy must have gone too far.  I cannot hear--"

"Hush!"

"Hi!" in the far distance, like a faint echo.  They all breathed more
freely, and Mr Sudberry uttered a powerful response.  Presently the
shout came nearer--nearer still; and soon Fred rejoined them, with the
disheartening information that he had gained the summit of the ridge,
and could see nothing whatever!

"Well, my children," said Mr Sudberry, with an assumption of
cheerfulness which he was far from feeling, "nothing now remains but to
push straight forward as fast as we can.  We _must_ come to a road of
some sort in the long-run, which will conduct to somewhere or other, no
doubt.  Come, cheer up; forward!  Follow close behind me, Lucy.  George,
do you take the lead--you are the most active and sharp-sighted among
us; and mind the bogs."

"What if we walk right over a precipice!" thought Fred.  He had almost
said it, but checked himself for fear of alarming the rest
unnecessarily.  Instead of cautioning George, he quietly glided to the
front, and took the lead.

Slowly, wearily, and painfully they plodded on, stumbling at times over
a rugged and stone-covered surface, sometimes descending a broken slope
that grew more and more precipitous until it became dangerous, and then,
fearing to go farther--not knowing what lay before--they had to retrace
their steps and search for a more gradual descent.  Now crossing a level
patch that raised their hopes, inclining them to believe that they had
reached the bottom of the valley; anon coming suddenly upon a steep
ascent that dashed their hopes, and induced them to suppose they had
turned in the wrong direction, and were re-ascending instead of
descending the mountain.  All the time Jacky slept like a top, and
George, being a sturdy fellow, carried him without a murmur.  Several
times Fred tried to make him give up his burden, but George was
inexorably obstinate.  So they plodded on till nearly midnight.

"Is that a house?" said Fred, stopping short, and pointing to a dark
object just in front of them.  "No, it's a lake."

"Nonsense, it's a mountain."

A few more steps, and Fred recoiled with a cry of horror.  It was a
precipice full a hundred feet deep--the dark abyss of which had assumed
such varied aspects in their eyes!

A long _detour_ followed, and they reached the foot in safety.  Here the
land became boggy.

Each step was an act fraught with danger, anxiety, and calculation.
Whether they should step knee-deep into a hole full of water, or trip
over a rounded mass of solid turf, was a matter of absolute uncertainty
until the step was taken.

"Oh that we had only a gleam of moonshine," said Lucy with a sigh.
Moonshine!  How often had George in the course of his life talked with
levity, almost amounting to contempt, of things being "all a matter of
moonshine!"  What would he not have given to have had only a tithe of
the things which surrounded him at that time converted into "moonshine!"

A feeble cheer from Fred caused an abrupt halt:--

"What is it?"

"Hallo!"

"What now?"

"The lake at last!--Our own loch!  I know the shape of it well!
Hurrah!"

Everyone was overjoyed.  They all gazed at it long and earnestly, and
unitedly came to the conclusion that it was the loch--probably at the
distance of a mile or so.  Pushing forward with revived spirits, they
came upon the object of their hopes much sooner than had been
anticipated.  In fact, it was not more than two hundred yards distant.
A wild yell of laughter mingled with despair burst from Fred as the lake
galloped away in the shape of a _white horse_!  The untravelled reader
may possibly doubt this.  Yet it _is a fact_ that a white horse was thus
mistaken for a distant lake!

The revulsion of feeling was tremendous.  Everyone sighed, and Mr
Sudberry groaned, for at that moment the thought of poor Peter recurred
to his mind.  Yet there remained a strange feeling of kindliness in the
breast of each towards that white horse.  It was an undeniable proof of
the existence of animal life in those wild regions, a fact which the
deep solitude of all around had tempted them madly to doubt--unknown
even to themselves.  Besides, it suggested the idea of an owner to the
horse; and by a natural and easy process of reasoning they concluded
that the owner must be a human being, and that, when at home, he
probably dwelt in a house.  What more probable than that the house was
even then within hail?

Acting on the idea, Mr Sudberry shouted for two minutes with all his
might, the only result of which was to render himself extremely hoarse.
Then George tried it, and so did Fred, and Jacky awoke and began to
whimper and to ask to be let down.  He also kicked a little, but, being
very tired, soon fell asleep again.

"You _must_ let me carry him now!" said Fred.

"I won't!"

Fred tried force, but George was too strong for him, so they went on as
before, Lucy leaning somewhat heavily on her father's arm.

Presently they heard the sound of water.  It filled them with mitigated
joy and excitement, on the simple principle that _anything_ in the shape
of variety was better than _nothing_.  A clap of thunder would have
raised in their depressed bosoms a gleam of hope.  A flash of lightning
would have been a positive blessing.  Mr Sudberry at once suggested
that it must be a stream, and that they could follow its course--wade
down its bed, if necessary--till they should arrive at "something!"
Foolish man! he had been long enough in the Highlands by that time to
have known that to walk down the bed of a mountain-burn was about as
possible as to walk down the shaft of a coal-mine.  They came to the
edge of its banks, however, and, looking over, tried to pierce its
gloom.  There was a pale gleam of white foam--a rumbling, rustling sound
beneath, and a sensation of moisture in the atmosphere.

"It rains!" said Mr Sudberry.

"I rather think it's the spray of a fall!" observed George.

Had Mr Sudberry known the depth of the tremendous gulf into which he
was peering, and the steep cliff on the edge of which he stood, he would
have sprung back in alarm.  But he did not know--he did not entertain
the faintest idea of the truth so he boldly, though cautiously, began to
clamber down, assisting Lucy to descend.

Man, (including woman), knows not what he can accomplish until he tries.
Millions of glittering gold would not have induced any member of that
party to descend such a place in the dark, had they known what it was--
yet they accomplished it in safety.  Down, down they went!

"Dear me, when shall we reach the foot?  We must be near it now."

No, they were not near it; still down they went, becoming more and more
alarmed, yet always tempted on by the feeling that each step would bring
them to the bottom.

"What a noise the stream makes! why, it must be a river!"

No, it was not a river--it was a mere burn; quite a little burn, but--
what then?  Little men are always fussier and noisier than big men;
little boys invariably howl more furiously than big boys.  Nature is
full of analogies; and little streams, especially mountain streams,
always make more ado in finding their level than big rivers.

They got down at last, and then they found the stream rushing, bursting,
crashing among rent and riven rocks and boulders as if it had gone
furiously mad, and was resolved never more to flow and murmur, but
always to leap and roar.  It was impassable; to walk down its banks or
bed was impossible, so the wanderers had to re-ascend the bank, and roam
away over black space in search of another crossing.  They soon lost the
sound in the intricacies of cliffs and dells, and never again found that
stream.  But they found a narrow path, and Fred announced the discovery
with a cheer.  It was an extremely rugged path, and appeared to have
been macadamised with stones the size of a man's head.  This led them to
suspect that it must be a ditch, not a path; but it turned out to be the
dry bed of a mountain-torrent--dry, at least, as regards running water,
though not dry in respect of numerous stagnant pools, into which at
various times each member of the party stepped unintentionally.  It
mattered not--nothing could make them wetter or more miserable than they
were--so they thought.  They had yet to learn that the thoughts of men
are forever misleading them, and that there is nothing more certain than
the uncertainty of all human calculations.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 11.

STILL LOST!

Meanwhile, Mrs Sudberry was thrown into a species of frenzied horror,
which no words can describe, and which was not in any degree allayed by
the grave shaking of the head, with which Mr McAllister accompanied his
vain efforts to comfort and re-assure her.  This excellent man quoted
several passages from the works of Dugald Stewart and Locke, tending to
show, in common parlance, that "necessity has no law," and that the
rightly constituted human mind ought to rise superior to all
circumstances--quotations which had the effect of making Mrs Sudberry
more hysterical than ever, and which induced Mrs Brown to call him who
offered such consolation a "brute!"

But McAllister did not confine his efforts solely to the region of mind.
While he was earnestly administering doses of the wisdom of Stewart and
Locke to the agitated lady in the parlour, Dan and Hugh, with several
others, were, by his orders, arming themselves in the kitchen for a
regular search.

"She's ready," said Dan, entering the parlour unceremoniously with a
huge stable lantern.

"That's right, Dan--keep away up by the slate corrie, and come down by
the red tarn.  If they've taken the wrong turn to the right, you're sure
to fall in wi' them thereaway.  Send Hugh round by the burn; I'll go
straight up the hill, and come down upon Loch Cognahoighliey.  Give a
shout now and then, as ye goo."

Dan was a man of action and few words: he vouchsafed no reply, but
turned immediately and left the room, leaving a powerful odour of the
byre behind him.

Poor Mrs Sudberry and Tilly were unspeakably comforted by the grave
business-like way, in which the search was gone about.  They recalled to
mind that a search of a somewhat similar nature, in point of manner and
time, was undertaken a week before for a stray sheep, and that it had
been successful; so they felt relieved, though they remained, of course,
dreadfully anxious.  McAllister refrained from administering any more
moral philosophy.  As he was not at all anxious about the lost party,
and was rather fond of a sly joke, it remains to this day a matter of
doubt whether he really expected that his nostrums would be of much use.
In a few minutes he was breasting the hill like a true mountaineer,
with a lantern in his hand, and with Hobbs by his side.

"Only think, ma'am," said Mrs Brown, who was not usually judicious in
her remarks, "only think if they've been an' fell hover a precipice."

"Shocking!" exclaimed poor Mrs Sudberry, with a little shriek, as she
clapped her hands on her eyes.

"Poor Jacky, ma'am, p'raps 'e's lyin' hall in a mangled 'eap at the foot
of a--"

"Leave me!" cried Mrs Sudberry, with an amount of sudden energy that
quite amazed Mrs Brown, who left the room feeling that she was an
injured woman.

"Darling mamma, they will come back!" said Tilly, throwing her arms
round her mother's neck, and bursting into tears on her bosom.  "You
know that the sheep--the lost sheep--was found last week, and brought
home quite safe.  Dan is _so_ kind, though he does not speak much, and
Hugh too.  They will be sure to find them, darling mamma!"

The sweet voice and the hopeful heart of the child did what philosophy
had failed to accomplish--Mrs Sudberry was comforted.  Thus we see, not
that philosophy is a vain thing, but that philosophy and feeling are
distinct, and that each is utterly powerless in the domain of the other.

When Peter was left alone by his master, as recorded in a former
chapter, he sat himself down in a cheerful frame of mind on the sunny
side of a large rock, and gave himself up to the enjoyment of thorough
repose, as well mental as physical.  The poor lad was in that state of
extreme lassitude which renders absolute and motionless rest delightful.
Extended at full length on a springy couch of heath, with his eyes
peeping dreamily through the half-closed lids at the magnificent
prospect of mountains and glens that lay before him, and below him too,
so that he felt like a bird in mid-air, looking down upon the world,
with his right arm under his meek head, and both pillowed on the plaid,
with his countenance exposed to the full blaze of the sun, and with his
recent lunch commencing to operate on the system, so as to render
exhaustion no longer a pain, but a pleasure, Peter lay on that knoll,
high up the mountain-side, in close proximity to the clouds, dreaming
and thinking about nothing; that is to say, about everything or anything
in an imbecile sort of way: in other words, wandering in his mind
disjointedly over the varied regions of memory and imagination; too
tired to originate an idea; too indifferent to resist one when it arose;
too weak to follow it out; and utterly indifferent as to whether his
mind did follow it out, or cut it short off in the middle.

We speak of Peter's mind as a totally distinct and separate thing from
himself.  It had taken the bit in its teeth and run away.  He cared no
more for it than he did for the nose on his face, which was, at that
time, as red as a carrot, by reason of the sun shining full on its tip.
But why attempt to describe Peter's thoughts?  Here they are--such as
they were--for the reader to make what he can out of them.

"Heigh ho! comfortable now--jolly--what a place!  How I hate mountains--
climbing them--dreadful!--Like 'em to lie on, though--sun, I like your
jolly red-hot face--Sunday! wonder if's got to do with sun--p'raps--
twinkle, twinkle, little sun, how I wonder--oh, what fun!--won't I have
sich wonderful tales--tales--tails--stories are tails--stick 'em on the
end of puppy-dogs, and see how they'd look--two or three two-legged
puppies in the office--what a difference now!--no ink-bottles, no
smashings, no quills, plenty of geese, though, and grouse and hares--
what was I thinking about?  Oh, yes--the office--no scribbles--no
stools, no desks, No-vember--dear me, that's funny!  No-vember--what's a
vember?  Cut him in two can't join him again--no--no--snore!"

At this point Peter's thoughts went out altogether in sleep, leaving the
happy youth in peaceful oblivion.  He started suddenly after an hour's
nap, under the impression that he was tumbling over a precipice.

To give a little scream and clutch wildly at the heather was natural.
He looked round.  The sun was still hot and high.  Scratching his head,
as if to recall his faculties, Peter stared vacantly at the sandwiches
which lay beside him on a piece of old newspaper.  Gradually his hand
wandered towards them, and a gleam of intelligence, accompanied by a
smile, overspread his countenance as he conveyed one to his lips.
Eating seemed fatiguing, however.  He soon laid the remnant down, drew
the plaid over him, nestled among the heather, and dropped into a heavy
sleep with a sigh of ineffable comfort.

When Peter again woke up, the sun was down, and just enough of light
remained to show that it was going to be an intensely dark night.  Can
anyone describe, can anyone imagine, the state of Peter's feelings?
Certainly not!  Peter, besides being youthful, was, as we have said, an
extremely timid boy.  He was constitutionally afraid of the dark, even
when surrounded by friends.  What, then, were his sensations when he
found himself on the mountain alone--_lost_!  The thought was horror!
Peter gasped; he leaped up with a wild shout, gazed madly round, and
sank down with a deep groan.  Up he sprang again, and ran forward a few
paces.  Precipices occurred to him--he turned and ran as many paces
backward.  Bogs occurred to him--he came to a full stop, fell on his
knees, and howled.  Up he leaped again, clapped both hands to his mouth,
and shouted until his eyes threatened to come out, and his face became
purple, "Master!  Master!  George! hi! hallo-o!  Jacky! ho-o-o!"  The
"O!" was prolonged into a wild roar, and down he went again quite flat.
Up he jumped once more; the darkness was deepening.  He rushed to the
right--left--all round--tore his hair, and gazed into the black depths
below--yelled and glared into the dark vault above!

Poor Peter!  Thus violently did his gentle spirit seek relief during the
first few minutes of its overwhelming consternation.

But he calmed down in the course of time into a species of mild despair.
A bursting sob broke from him occasionally, as with his face buried in
his hands, his head deep in the heather, and his eyes tight shut, he
strove in vain to blind himself to the true nature of his dreadful
position.  At last he became recklessly desperate, and, rising hastily,
he fled.  He sought, poor lad, to fly from himself.  Of course the
effort was fruitless.  Instead of distancing himself--an impossibility
at all times--doubly so in a rugged country--he tumbled himself over a
cliff, (fortunately not a high one), and found himself in a peat-bog,
(fortunately not a deep one).  This cooled and somewhat improved his
understanding, so that he returned to the knoll a wiser, a wetter, and a
sadder boy.  Who shall describe the agonies, the hopes, the fears, the
wanderings, the faggings, and the final despair of the succeeding hours?
It is impossible to say who will describe all this, for _we_ have not
the slightest intention of attempting it.

Towards midnight Dan reached a very dark and lonely part of the
mountains, and was suddenly arrested by a low wail.  The sturdy Celt
raised his lantern on high.  Just at that moment Peter's despair
happened to culminate, and he lifted his head out of the heather to give
free vent to the hideous groan, with which he meant, if possible, to
terminate his existence.  The groan became a shriek, first of terror,
then of hope, after that of anxiety, as Dan came dancing towards him
like a Jack-o'-lantern.

"Fat is she shriekin' at?" said Dan.

"Oh!  I'm _so_ glad--I'm so-o-ow-hoo!"

Poor Peter seized Dan round the legs, for, being on his knees, he could
not reach higher, and embraced him.

"Fat's got the maister?"

Peter could not tell.

"Can she waalk?"

Peter couldn't walk--his limbs refused their office.

"Here, speel up on her back."

Peter could do that.  He did it, and hugged Dan round the neck with the
tenacity of a shipwrecked mariner clinging to his last plank.  The
sturdy Celt went down the mountain as lightly as if Peter were a fly,
and as if the vice-like grip of his arms round his throat were the
embrace of a worsted comforter.

"Here they are, ma'am!" screamed Mrs Brown.

She was wrong.  Mrs Brown was usually wrong.  Peter alone was deposited
before the eager gaze of Mrs Sudberry, who fainted away with
disappointment.  Mrs Brown said "be off" to Peter, and applied
scent-bottles to her mistress.  The poor boy's grateful heart wanted to
embrace somebody; so he went slowly and sadly upstairs, where he found
the cat, and embraced _it_.  Hours passed away, and the Sudberry Family
still wandered lost, and almost hopeless, among the mountains.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 12.

FOUND.

We left Mr Sudberry and his children in the nearly dry bed of a
mountain-torrent, indulging the belief that matters were as bad as could
be, and that, therefore, there was no possibility of their getting
worse.

A smart shower of rain speedily induced them to change their minds in
this respect.  Seeking shelter under the projecting ledge of a great
cliff, the party stood for some time there in silence.

"You are cold, my pet," said Mr Sudberry.

"Just a little, papa; I could not help shuddering," said Lucy, faintly.

"Now for the brandy," said her father, drawing forth the flask.

"Suppose I try to kindle a fire," said George, swinging the bundle
containing Jacky off his shoulder, and placing it in a hollow of the
rocks.

"Well, suppose you try."

George proceeded to do so; but on collecting a few broken twigs he found
that they were soaking wet, and on searching for the match-box he
discovered that it had been left in the provision-basket, so they had to
content themselves with a sip of brandy all round--excepting Jacky.
That amiable child was still sound asleep; but in a few minutes he was
heard to utter an uneasy squall, and then George discovered that he had
deposited part of his rotund person in a puddle of water.

"Come, let us move on," said Mr Sudberry, "the rain gets heavier.  It
is of no use putting off time, we cannot be much damper than we are."

Again the worthy man was mistaken; for, in the course of another hour,
they were all so thoroughly drenched, that their previous condition
might have been considered, by contrast, one of absolute dryness.

Suddenly, a stone wall, topped by a paling, barred their further
progress.  Fred, who was in advance, did not see this wall--he only felt
it when it brought him up.

"Here's a gate, I believe," cried George, groping about.  It _was_ a
gate, and it opened upon the road!  For the first time for many hours a
gleam of hope burst in upon the benighted wanderers.  Presently a ray of
light dazzled them.

"What! do my eyes deceive me--a cottage?" cried Mr Sudberry.

"Ay, and a witch inside," said George.

"Why, it's old--no, impossible!"

"Yes, it is, though--it's old Moggy's cottage."

"Hurrah!" cried Fred.

Old Moggy's dog came out with a burst of indignation that threatened
annihilation to the whole party; but, on discovering who they were, it
crept humbly back into the cottage.

"Does she never go to bed?" whispered George, as they approached and
found the old woman moping over her fire, and swaying her body to and
fro, with the thin dirty gown clinging close to her figure, and the
spotlessly clean plaid drawn tightly round her shoulders.

"Good-evening, old woman," said Mr Sudberry, advancing with a
conciliatory air.

"It's mornin'," retorted the old woman with a scowl.

"Alas! you are right; here have we been lost on the hills, and wandering
all night; and glad am I to find your fire burning, for my poor daughter
is very cold and much exhausted.  May we sit down beside you?"

No reply, save a furtive scowl.

"What's that?" asked Moggy, sharply, as George deposited his dirty wet
bundle on the floor beside the fire opposite to her.

The bundle answered for itself; by slowly unrolling, sitting up and
yawning violently, at the same time raising both arms above its head and
stretching itself.  Having done this, it stared round the room with a
vacant look, and finally fixed its goggle eyes in mute surprise on
Moggy.

The sight of this wet, dirty little creature acted, as formerly, like a
charm on the old woman.  Her face relaxed into a smile of deep
tenderness.  She immediately rose, and taking the child in her arms
carried him to her stool, and sat down with him in her lap.  Jacky made
no resistance; on the contrary, he seemed to have made up his mind to
submit at once, and with a good grace, to the will of this strange old
creature--to the amazement as well as amusement of his relations.

The old woman took no further notice of her other visitors.  She
incontinently became stone deaf; and apparently blind, for she did not
deign to bestow so much as a glance on them, while they circled close
round her fire, and heaped on fresh sticks without asking leave.  But
she made up for this want of courtesy by bestowing the most devoted
attentions on Jacky.  Finding that that young gentleman was in a filthy
as well as a moist condition, she quietly undressed him, and going to a
rough chest in a corner of the hut drew out a full suit of clothing,
with which she speedily invested him.  The garb was peculiar--a tartan
jacket, kilt, and hose; and these seemed to have been made expressly for
him, they fitted so well.  Although quite clean, thin, threadbare, and
darned, the appearance of the garments showed that they had been
much-worn.  Having thus clothed Jacky, the old woman embraced him
tenderly, then held him at arm's-length and gazed at him for a few
minutes.  Finally, she pushed him gently away and burst into tears--
rocking herself to and fro, and moaning dismally.

Meanwhile Jacky, still perfectly mute and observant, sat down on a log
beside the poor old dame, and stared at her until the violence of her
grief began to subside.  The other members of the party stared too--at
her and at each other--as if to say, "What _can_ all this mean?"

At last Jacky began to manifest signs of impatience, and, pulling her
sleeve, he said--

"Now, g'anny, lollipops!"

Old Moggy smiled, rose, went to the chest again, and returned with a
handful of sweetmeats, with which Jacky at once proceeded to regale
himself, to the infinite joy of the old woman.

Mr Sudberry now came to the conclusion that there must be a secret
understanding between this remarkable couple; and he was right.  Many a
time during the last two weeks had Master Jacky, all unknown to his
parents, made his way to old Moggy's hut--attracted thereto by the
splendid "lollipops" with which the subtle old creature beguiled him,
and also by the extraordinary amount of affection she lavished upon him.
Besides this, the child had a strong dash of romance in his nature, and
it was a matter of deep interest to him to be a courted guest in such a
strange old hovel, and to be fondled and clothed, as he often was, in
Highland costume, by one who scowled upon everyone else--excepting her
little dog, with which animal he became an intimate friend.  Jacky did
not trouble himself to inquire into the reason of the old woman's
partiality--sufficient for him that he enjoyed her hospitality and her
favour, and that he was engaged in what he had a vague idea must needs
be a piece of clandestine and very terrible wickedness.  His long
absences, during these visits, had indeed been noticed by his mother;
but as Jacky was in the habit of following his own inclinations in every
thing and at all times, without deigning to give an account of himself;
it was generally understood that he had just strayed a little farther
than usual while playing about.

While this was going on in Moggy's hut, George had been despatched to
inform Mrs Sudberry of their safety.  The distance being short, he soon
ran over the ground, and burst in upon his mother with a cheer.  Mrs
Sudberry sprang into his arms, and burst into tears; Mrs Brown lay down
on the sofa, and went into quiet hysterics; and little Tilly, who had
gone to bed hours before in a condition of irresistible drowsiness,
jumped up with a scream, and came skipping down-stairs in her
night-gown.

"Safe, mother, safe!"

"And Jacky?"

"Safe, too, all of us."

"Oh!  I'm _so_ thankful."

"No, not _all_ of us," said George, suddenly recollecting Peter.

Mrs Sudberry gasped and turned pale.  "Oh!  George! quick, tell me!"

"Poor Peter," began George.

"Please, sir, I've bin found," said a meek voice behind him, at which
George turned round with a start--still supporting his mother.

Mrs Brown, perceiving the ludicrous nature of the remark, began to grow
violent on the sofa, and to kick a little.  Then Mrs Sudberry asked for
each of the missing ones individually--sobbing between each question--
and at each sob Tilly's sympathetic bosom heaved, and Mrs Brown gave a
kick and a subdued scream.  Then George began to tell the leading
features of their misfortunes rapidly, and Mrs Brown listened intently
until Mrs Sudberry again sobbed, when Mrs Brown immediately
recollected that she was in hysterics, and recommenced kicking.

"But where _are_ they?" cried Mrs Sudberry, suddenly.

"I was just coming to that--they're at old Moggy's hut, drying
themselves and resting."

"Oh!  I'll go down at once.  Take me there."

Accordingly, the poor lady threw on her bonnet and shawl and set off
with George for the cottage, leaving Mrs Brown, now relieved from all
anxiety, kicking and screaming violently on the sofa, to the great alarm
of Hobbs, who just then returned from his fruitless search.

"My son, my darling!" cried Mrs Sudberry, as she rushed into the
cottage, and clasped Jacky in her arms.  She could say no more, and if
she had said more it could not have been heard, for her appearance
created dire confusion and turmoil in the hovel.  The lost and found
wanderers started up to welcome her, the little dog sprang up to bark
furiously and repel her, and the old woman ran at her, screaming, with
intent to rescue Jacky from her grasp.  There was a regular scuffle, for
the old woman was strong in her rage, but George and Fred held her
firmly, though tenderly, back, while Mr Sudberry hurried his alarmed
spouse and their child out of the hut, and made for home as fast as
possible.  Lucy followed with George almost immediately after, leaving
Fred to do his best to calm and comfort the old woman.  For his humane
efforts Fred received a severe scratching on the face, and was compelled
to seek refuge in flight.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 13.

VISITING THE POOR.

For some time after this the Sudberry Family were particularly careful
not to wander too far from their mountain home.  Mr Sudberry forbade
everyone, on pain of his utmost displeasure, to venture up among the
hills without McAllister or one of his lads as a guide.  As a further
precaution, he wrote for six pocket compasses to be forwarded as soon as
possible.

"My dear," said his wife, "since you are writing home, you may as
well--"

"My dear, I am not writing--"

"You're writing to London for compasses, are you not?"

"No," said Mr Sudberry with a smile.  "I believe they understand how to
manufacture the mariner's compass in Scotland--I am writing to my
Edinburgh agent for them."

"Oh! ah well, it did not occur to me.  Now you mention it, I think I
have heard that the Scotch have sort of scientific tendencies."

"Yes, they are `feelosophically' inclined, as our friend McAllister
would say.  But what did you want, my love?"

"I want a hobby-horse to be sent to us for Jacky; but it will be of no
use writing to Edinburgh for one.  I suppose they do not use such things
in a country where there are so few real horses, and so few roads fit
for a horse to walk on."

Mr Sudberry made no reply, not wishing to incur the expense of such a
useless piece of furniture, and his wife continued her needlework with a
sigh.  From the bottom of her large heart she pitied the Scottish
nation, and wondered whether there was the remotest hope of the place
ever being properly colonised by the English, and the condition of the
aborigines ameliorated.

"Mamma, I'm going with Flora Macdonald to visit her poor people," said
Lucy, entering at the moment with a flushed face,--for Lucy was addicted
to running when in a hurry,--and with a coquettish little round straw
hat.

"Very well, my love, but do take that good-natured man to guide you--Mr
What's-his-name, I've _such_ a memory!  Ah!  McCannister; do take him
with you, dear."

"There is no need, mamma.  Nearly all the cottages lie along the
road-side, and Flora is quite at home here, you know."

"True, true, I forgot that."

Mrs Sudberry sighed and Lucy laughed gaily as she ran down the hill to
meet her friend.  The first cottage they visited was a little rough
thatched one with a low roof; one door, and two little windows, in which
latter there were four small panes of glass, with a knot in each.  The
interior was similar to that of old Moggy's hut, but there was more
furniture in it, and the whole was pervaded by an air of neatness and
cleanliness that spoke volumes for its owner.

"This is Mrs Cameron's cottage," whispered Flora as they entered.  "She
was knocked over by a horse while returning from church last Sunday, and
I fear has been badly shaken.--Well, Mrs Cameron, how are you to-day?"

A mild little voice issued from a box-bed in a corner of the room.
"Thankee, mem, I'm no that ill, mem.  The Lord is verra kind to me."--
There was a mild sadness in the tone, a sort of "the world's in an awfu'
state,--but no doot it's a' for the best, an' I'm resigned to my lot,
though I wadna objec' to its being a wee thing better, oo-ay,"--feeling
in it, which told of much sorrow in years gone by, and of deep humility,
for there was not a shade of complaint in the tone.

"Has the doctor been to see you, my dear granny?" inquired Flora,
sitting down at the side of the box-bed, while Lucy seated herself on a
stool and tried to pierce the gloom within.

"Oo, ay, he cam' an' pood aff ma mutch, an' feel'd ma heed a' over, but
he said nothin'--only to lie quiet an' tak a pickle water-gruel, oo-ay."

As the voice said this its owner raised herself on one elbow, and,
peering out with a pair of bright eyes, displayed to her visitor the
small, withered, yet healthy countenance of one who must have been a
beautiful girl in her youth.  She was now upwards of seventy, and was,
as Lucy afterwards said, "a sweet, charming, dear old woman."  Her
features were extremely small and delicate, and her eyes had an anxious
look, as if she were in the habit of receiving periodical shocks of
grief, and were wondering what shape the next one would take.

"I have brought you a bottle of wine," said Flora; "now don't shake your
head--you _must_ take it; you cannot get well on gruel.  Your daughter
is at our house just now: I shall meet her on my way home, and will tell
her to insist on your taking it."

The old woman smiled, and looked at Lucy.

"This is a friend whom I have brought to see you," said Flora, observing
the glance.  The old woman held out her hand, and Lucy pressed it
tenderly.  "She has come all the way from London to see our mountains,
granny."

"Ay?" said the old woman with a kind motherly smile: "it's a lang way to
Lunnon, a lang way, ay.  Ye'll be thinkin' we're a wild kind o' folk
here-away; somewhat uncouth we are, no doot."

"Indeed, I think you are very nice people," said Lucy, earnestly.  "I
had no idea how charming your country was, until I came to it."

"Oo-ay! we can only get ideas by seein' or readin'.  It's a grawnd
thing, travellin', but it's wonderfu' what readin' 'll do.  My guid-man,
that's deed this therteen year,--ay,--come Marti'mas, he wrought in
Lunnon for a year before we was marrit, an' he sent me the newspapers
reglar once a month--ay, the English is fine folk.  My guid-man aye said
that."

Lucy expressed much interest in this visit of the departed guid-man,
and, having touched a chord which was extremely sensitive and not easily
put to rest after having been made to vibrate, old Mrs Cameron
entertained her with a sweet and prolix account of the last illness,
death, and burial of the said guid-man, with the tears swelling up in
her bright old eyes and hopping over her wrinkled cheeks, until Flora
forbade her to say another word, reminding her of the doctor's orders to
keep quiet.

"Oo-ay, ye'll be gawin' to read me a bit o' the book?"

"I thought you would ask that; what shall it be?"

"Oo, ye canna go wrang."

Flora opened the Bible, and, selecting a passage, read it in a slow,
clear tone, while the old woman lay back and listened with her eyes
upturned and her hands clasped.

"Isn't it grawnd?" said she, appealing to Lucy with a burst of feeling,
when Flora had concluded.

Lucy was somewhat taken aback by this enthusiastic display of love for
the Bible, and felt somewhat embarrassed for an appropriate answer; but
Flora came to her rescue:

"I have brought you a book, granny; it will amuse you when you are able
to get up and read.  There now, no thanks--you positively _must_ lie
down and try to sleep.  I see your cheek is flushed with all this
talking.  Good-day, granny!"

"The next whom we will visit is a very different character," said Flora,
as they walked briskly along the road that followed the windings of the
river; "he dwells half a mile off."

"Then you will have time to tell me about old Moggy," said Lucy.  "You
have not yet fulfilled your promise to tell me the secret connected with
her, and I am burning with impatience to know it."

"Of course you are; every girl of your age is set on fire by a secret.
I have a mind to keep you turning a little longer."

"And pray, grandmamma," said Lucy, with an expressive twinkle in her
eyes, "at what period of your prolonged life did you come to form such a
just estimate of character in girls of _my_ age?"

"I'll answer that question another time," said Flora; "meanwhile, I will
relent and tell you about old Moggy.  But, after all, there is not much
to tell, and there is no secret connected with her, although there is a
little mystery."

"No secret, yet a mystery! a distinction without a difference, it seems
to me."

"Perhaps it is.  You shall hear:--

"When a middle-aged woman, Moggy was housekeeper to Mr Hamilton, a
landed proprietor in this neighbourhood.  Mr Hamilton's gardener fell
in love with Moggy; they married, and, returning to this their native
hamlet, settled down in the small hut which the old woman still
occupies.  They had one daughter, named Mary, after Mr Hamilton's
sister.  When Mary was ten years old her father died of fever, and soon
afterwards Moggy was taken again into Mr Hamilton's household in her
old capacity; for his sister was an invalid, and quite unfit to manage
his house.  In the course of time little Mary became a woman and married
a farmer at a considerable distance from this neighbourhood.  They had
one child, a beautiful fair-haired little fellow.  On the very day that
he was born his father was killed by a kick from a horse.  The shock to
the poor mother was so great, that she sank under it and died.  Thus the
little infant was left entirely to the care of his grandmother.  He was
named Willie, after his father.

"Death seemed to cast his shadow over poor Moggy's path all her life
through.  Shortly after this event Mr Hamilton died suddenly.  This was
a great blow to the housekeeper, for she was much attached to her old
master, who had allowed her to keep her little grandson beside her under
his roof.  The sister survived her brother about five years.  After her
death the housekeeper returned to her old hut, where she has ever since
lived on the interest of a small legacy left her by her old master.
Little Willie, or wee Wullie, as she used to call him, was the light of
old Moggy's eyes, and the joy of her heart.  She idolised and would have
spoiled him, had that been possible; but the child was of a naturally
sweet disposition, and would not spoil.  He was extremely amiable and
gentle, yet bold as a young lion, and full of fun.  I do not wonder that
poor old Moggy was both proud and fond of him in an extraordinary
degree.  The blow of his removal well-nigh withered her up, body and
soul--"

"He died?" said Lucy, looking up at Flora with tearful eyes.

"No, he did not: perhaps it would have been better if the poor child
_had_ died; you shall hear.  When Willie was six years old a gang of
gypsies passed through this hamlet, and, taking up their abode on the
common, remained for some time.  They were a wild, dangerous set, and
became such a nuisance that the inhabitants at last took the law into
their own hands, and drove them away.  Just before this occurred little
Willie disappeared.  Search was made for him everywhere, but in vain.
The gypsies were suspected, and their huts examined.  Suspicion fell
chiefly on one man, a stout ill-favoured fellow, with an ugly squint and
a broken nose; but nothing could be proved either against him or the
others, except that, at the time of the child's disappearance, this man
was absent from the camp.  From that day to this, dear little Willie has
never been heard of.

"At first, the poor old grandmother went about almost mad with despair
and anxiety, but, as years passed by, she settled down into the moping
old creature you have seen her.  It is five years since that event.
Willie will be eleven years old now, if alive; but, alas!  I fear he
must be dead."

"What a sad, sad tale!" said Lucy.  "I suppose it must be because our
Jacky is about the age that Willie was when he was stolen, that the poor
woman has evinced such a fondness for him."

"Possibly; and, now I think of it, there is a good deal of resemblance
between the two, especially about the hair and eyes, though Willie was
much more beautiful.  You have noticed, no doubt, that Moggy wears a
clean plaid--"

"Oh, yes," interrupted Lucy; "I have observed that."

"That was the plaid that Willie used to wear in winter.  His grandmother
spends much of her time in washing it; she takes great pains to keep it
clean.  The only mystery about the old woman is the old chest in one
corner of her hut.  She keeps it jealously locked, and no one has ever
found out what is in it, although the inquisitive folk of the place are
very anxious to know.  But it does not require a wizard to tell that.
Doubtless it contains the clothing and toys of her grandson.  Poor old
Moggy!"

"I can enlighten you on that point," said Lucy, eagerly opening the lid
of a small basket which hung on her arm, and displaying the small suit
of Highland clothing in which Jacky had been conveyed home on the night
when the Sudberrys were lost on the hills.  "This suit came out of the
large chest; and as I knew you meant to visit Moggy to-day, I brought it
with me."

The two friends reached the door of a small cottage as Lucy said this,
and tapped.

"Come in!" gruffly said a man's voice.  This was one of Flora's
difficult cases.  The man was bed-ridden, and was nursed by a
grand-daughter.  He was quite willing to accept comfort from Flora,
especially when it took the shape of food and medicine; but he would not
listen to the Bible.  Flora knew that he liked her visits, however; so,
with prayers in her heart and the Bible in her hand, she persevered
hopefully, yet with such delicacy that the gruff old man became gruffer
daily, as his conscience began to reprove him for his gruffness.

Thus, from hut to hut she went, with love to mankind in her heart and
the name of Jesus on her lip; sometimes received with smiles and sent
away with blessings, occasionally greeted with a cold look, and allowed
to depart with a frigid "good-day!"

Lucy had often wished for some such work as this at home, but had not
yet found courage to begin.  She was deeply sympathetic and observant.
Old Moggy was the last they visited that day.  Flora was the only female
she would tolerate.

"I've been tryin' to say't a' night an' I _canna_ do't!" she said
stoutly, as the ladies entered.

"You forget the words, perhaps, dear Moggy--`The Lord gave, and the Lord
hath--'"

"Na, na, I dinna forget them, but I _canna_ say them."  So Flora sat
down on a stool, and gently sought, by means of the Bible, to teach the
old woman one of the most difficult lessons that poor human nature has
got to learn in this world of mingled happiness and woe.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 14.

A SURPRISE AND A BATTLE.

"Here! halloo! hi!  Hobbs!  I say," shouted Mr Sudberry, running out at
the front door, after having swept Lucy's work-box off the table and
trodden on the cat's tail.  "Where has that fellow gone to?  He's always
out of the way.  Halloo!"  (looking up at the nursery window), "Mrs
Brown!"

Mrs Brown, being deeply impressed with the importance of learning,
(just because of Mrs Sudberry's contempt thereof), was busily engaged
at that moment in teaching Miss Tilly and Master Jacky a piece of very
profound knowledge.

"Now, Miss Tilly, what is the meaning of procrastination?"  ("Ho! hi!
halloo-o-o-o," from Mr Sudberry; but Mrs Brown, supposing the shout is
meant for any one but herself; takes no notice of it.)

_Tilly_.--"Doing to-day what you might have put off till to-morrow."
("Halloo! ho! don't you hear? hi!" from below.)

_Mrs Brown_.--"No, you little goose!  What is it, Jacky?"

_Jacky_.--"Doing to-morrow what you might have put off till to-day."
("Hi! halloo! are you deaf up there?")

_Mrs Brown_.--"Worse and worse, stupid little goose!"

_Jacky_, (indignantly).--"Well, then, if it's neither one thing nor
t'other, just let's hear what _you_ make it out to be--" ("Hi! ho!
halloo!  Mrs Bra-a-own!")

"Bless me, I think papa is calling on me.  Yes, sir.  Was you calling,
sir?"  (throwing up the window and looking out.)

"Calling! no; I wasn't `calling.'  I was shrieking, howling, yelling.
Is Hobbs there?"

"No, sir; 'Obbs is not 'ere, sir."

"Well, then, be so good as to go and look for him, and say I want him
directly to go for the letters."

"'Ere I am, sir," said Hobbs, coming suddenly round the corner of the
house, with an appearance of extreme haste.

Hobbs had, in fact, been within hearing of his master, having been,
during the last half-hour, seated in McAllister's kitchen, where the
uproarious merriment had drowned all other sounds.  Hobbs had become a
great favourite with the Highland family, owing to his hearty good
humour and ready power of repartee.  The sharp Cockney, with the
easy-going effrontery peculiar to his race, attempted to amuse the
household--namely, Mrs McAllister, Dan, Hugh, and two good-looking and
sturdy-limbed servant-girls--by measuring wits with the "canny Scot," as
he called the farmer.  He soon found, however, that he had caught a
Tartar.  The good-natured Highlander met his raillery with what we may
call a smile of grave simplicity, and led him slyly into committing
himself in such a way that even the untutored servants could see how far
the man was behind their master in general knowledge; but Hobbs took
refuge in smart reply, confident assertion, extreme volubility, and the
use of hard words, so that it sometimes seemed to the domestics as if he
really had some considerable power in argument.  Worthy Mrs McAllister
never joined in the debate, except by a single remark now and then.  She
knew her son thoroughly, and before the Sudberrys had been a week at the
White House she understood Hobbs through and through.

She was wont to sit at her spinning-wheel regarding this intellectual
sparring with grave interest, as a peculiar phase of the human mind.  A
very sharp encounter had created more laughter than usual at the time
when Mr Sudberry halloed for his man-servant.

"You must be getting deaf; Hobbs, I fear," said the master, at once
pacified by the man's arrival; "go down and fetch--"

"Pray do not send him away just now," cried Mrs Sudberry: "I have
something particular for him to do.  Can you go down yourself, dear?"

The good man sighed.  "Well, I will go," and accordingly away he went.

"Stay, my dear."

"Well."

"I expect one or two small parcels by the coach this morning; mind you
ask for 'em and bring 'em up."

"Ay, ay!" and Mr Sudberry, with his hands in his pockets, and his
wideawake thrust back and very much on one side of his head, sauntered
down the hill towards the road.

One of the disadvantageous points about the White House was its distance
from any town or market.  The nearest shop was four miles off, so that
bread, butter, meat, and groceries, had to be ordered a couple of days
beforehand, and were conveyed to their destination by the mail-coach.
Even after they were deposited at the gate of Mr McAllister's farm,
there was still about half a mile of rugged cart-road to be got over
before they could be finally deposited in the White House.  This was a
matter of constant anxiety to Mr Sudberry, because it was necessary
that someone should be at the gate regularly to receive letters and
parcels, and this involved constant attention to the time of the mail
passing.  When no one was there, the coachman left the property of the
family at the side of the road.  Hobbs, however, was usually up to time,
fair weather and foul, and this was the first time his master had been
called on to go for the letters.

Walking down the road, Mr Sudberry whistled an extremely operatic air,
in the contentment of his heart, and glanced from side to side, with a
feeling amounting almost to affection, at the various objects which had
now become quite familiar to him, and with many of which he had
interesting associations.

There was the miniature hut, on the roof of which he usually laid his
rod on returning from a day's fishing.  There was the rude stone bridge
over the burn, on the low parapet of which he and the family were wont
to sit on fine evenings, and commune of fishing, and boating, and
climbing, and wonder whether it would be possible ever again to return
to the humdrum life of London.  There was the pool in the same burn over
which one day he, reckless man, had essayed to leap, and into which he
had tumbled, when in eager pursuit of Jacky.  A little below this was
the pool into which the said Jacky had rushed in wild desperation on
finding that his father was too fleet for him.  Passing through a
five-barred gate into the next field, he skirted the base of a high,
precipitous crag, on which grew a thicket of dwarf-trees and shrubs, and
at the foot of which the burn warbled.  Here, on his left, stood the
briar bush out of which had _whirred_ the first live grouse he ever set
eyes on.  It was at this bird, that, in the madness of his excitement,
he had flung first his stick, then his hat, and lastly his shout of
disappointment and defiance.  A little further on was that other bush
out of which he had started so many grouse that he now never approached
it without a stone in each hand, his eyes and nostrils dilated, and his
breath restrained.  He never by any chance on these occasions sent his
artillery within six yards of the game; but once, when he approached the
bush in a profound reverie, and without the usual preparation, he
actually saw a bird crouching in the middle of it!  To seize a large
stone and hit the ground at least forty yards beyond the bush was the
work of a moment.  Up got the bird with a tremendous whizz!  He flung
his stick wildly, and, hitting it, (by chance), fair on the head,
brought it down.  To rush at it, fall on it, crush it almost flat, and
rise up slowly holding it very tight, was the result of this successful
piece of poaching.  Another result was a charming addition to a dinner a
few days afterwards.

At all these objects Mr Sudberry gazed benignantly as he sauntered
along in the sunshine, indulging in sweet memories of the recent past,
and whistling operatically.

The high-road gained, he climbed upon the gate, seated himself upon the
top bar to await the passing of the mail, and began to indulge in a
magnificent air, the florid character of which he rendered much more
effective than the composer had intended by the introduction of
innumerable flourishes of his own.

It was while thus engaged, and in the middle of a tremendous shake, that
Mr Sudberry suddenly became aware of the presence of a man not more
than twenty yards distant.  He was lying down on the embankment beside
the road, and his ragged dress of muddy-brown corduroy so resembled the
broken ground, on which he lay that he was not a very distinct object,
even when looked at point-blank.  Certainly Mr Sudberry thought him an
extremely disagreeable object as he ended in an ineffective quaver and
with a deep blush; for that man must be more than human, who, when
caught in the act of attempting to perpetrate an amateur concert in all
its parts, does not _feel_ keenly.

Being of a sociable disposition, Mr Sudberry was about to address this
ill-favoured beggar--for such he evidently was--when the coach came
round a distant bend in the road at full gallop.  It was the ordinary
tall, top-heavy mail of the first part of the nineteenth century.  Being
a poor district, there were only two horses, a white and a black; but
the driver wore a stylish red coat, and cracked his whip smartly.  The
road being all down hill at that part, the coach came on at a spanking
pace, and pulled up with a crash.

The beggar turned his face to the ground, and pretended to be asleep.

Mr Sudberry noticed this; but, being interested in his own affairs,
soon forgot the circumstance.

"Got any letters for me to-day, my man?"

Oh, yes, he has letters and newspapers too.  Mr Sudberry mutters to
himself as they are handed down, "Capital!--ha!--business; hum!--
private; ho!--compasses; good!  Any more?"

There are no more; but there is a parcel or two.  The coachman gets down
and opens the door of the box behind.  The insides peep out, and the
outsides look down with interest.  A great many large and heavy things
are pulled out and laid on the road.

Mr Sudberry remarks that it would have been "wiser to have stowed _his_
parcels in front."

The coachman observes that _these_ are _his_ parcels, shuts the door,
mounts the box, and drives away, with the outsides grinning and the
insides stretching their heads out, leaving Mr Sudberry transfixed and
staring.

"`One or two small parcels,'" murmured the good man, recalling his
wife's words; "`and mind you bring 'em up.'  One salmon, two legs of
mutton, one ham, three dozen of beer, a cask of--of--something or other,
and a bag of--of--ditto, (groceries, I suppose), `and mind you bring 'em
up!'  How! `_that_ is the question!'" cried Mr Sudberry, quoting
Hamlet, in desperation.

Suddenly he recollected the beggar-man.  "Halloo! friend; come hither."

The man rose slowly, and rising did not improve his appearance.  He was
rather tall, shaggy, loose-jointed, long-armed, broad-shouldered, and he
squinted awfully.  His nose was broken, and his dark colour bespoke him
a gypsy.

"Can you help me up to yonder house with these things, my man?"

"No," said the man, gruffly, "I'm footsore with travellin', but I'll
watch them here while you go up for help."

"Oh! ahem!" said Mr Sudberry, with peculiar emphasis; "you seem a stout
fellow, and might find more difficult ways of earning half a crown.
However, I'll give you that sum if you go up and tell them to send down
a barrow."

"I'll wait here," replied the man, with a sarcastic grin, limping back
to his former seat on the bank.

"Oh! very well, and I will wait _here_," said Mr Sudberry, seating
himself on a large stone, and pulling out his letters.

Seeing this, the gypsy got up again, and looked cautiously along the
road, first to the right and then to the left.  No human being was in
sight.  Mr Sudberry observed the act, and felt uncomfortable.

"You'd better go for help, sir," said the man, coming forward.

"Thank you, I'd rather wait for it."

"This seems a handy sort of thing to carry," said the gypsy, taking up
the sack that looked like groceries, and throwing it across his
shoulder.  "I'll save you the trouble of taking this one up, anyhow."

He went off at once at a sharp walk, and with no symptom either of
lameness or exhaustion.  Mr Sudberry was after him in a moment.  The
man turned round and faced him.

"Put that where you took it from!" thundered Mr Sudberry.

"Oh! you're going to resist."

The gypsy uttered an oath, and ran at Mr Sudberry, intending to
overwhelm him with one blow, and rob him on the spot.  The big blockhead
little knew his man.  He did not know that the little Englishman was a
man of iron frame; he only regarded him as a fiery little gentleman.
Still less did he know that Mr Sudberry had in his youth been an expert
boxer, and that he had even had the honour of being knocked flat on his
back more than once by _professional_ gentlemen--in an amicable way, of
course--at four and sixpence a lesson.  He knew nothing of all this, so
he rushed blindly on his fate, and met it--that is to say, he met Mr
Sudberry's left fist with the bridge of his nose, and his right with the
pit of his stomach; the surprising result of which was that the gypsy
staggered back against the wall.

But the man was not a coward, whatever other bad qualities he might have
been possessed of.  Recovering in a moment, he rushed upon his little
antagonist, and sent in two sledge-hammer blows with such violence that
nothing but the Englishman's activity could have saved him from instant
defeat.  He ducked to the first, parried the second, and returned with
such prompt good-will on the gypsy's right eye, that he was again sent
staggering back against the wall; from which point of observation he
stared straight before him, and beheld Mr Sudberry in the wildness of
his excitement, performing a species of Cherokee war-dance in the middle
of the road.  Nothing daunted, however, the man was about to renew his
assault, when George and Fred, all ignorant of what was going on, came
round a turn of the road, on their way to see what was detaining their
father with the letters.

"Why, that's father!" cried Fred.

"Fighting!" yelled George.

They were off at full speed in a moment.  The gypsy gave but one glance,
vaulted the wall, and dived into the underwood that lined the banks of
the river.  He followed the stream a few hundred yards, doubled at right
angles on his course, and in ten minutes more was seen crossing over a
shoulder of the hill, like a mountain hare.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 15.

A DREAM AND A BALL.

That evening Mr Sudberry, having spent the day in a somewhat excited
state--having swept everything around him, wherever he moved, with his
coat-tails, as with the besom of destruction--having despatched a note
to the nearest constabulary station, and having examined the bolts and
fastenings of the windows of the White House--sat down after supper to
read the newspaper, and fell fast asleep, with his head hanging over the
back of his chair, his nose turned up to the ceiling, and his mouth wide
open.  His loving family--minus Tilly and Jacky, who were abed--
encircled the table, variously employed; and George stood at his elbow,
fastening up a pair of bookshelves of primitive construction, coupled
together by means of green cord.

While thus domestically employed, they heard a loud, steady thumping
outside.  The Sudberrys were well acquainted by this time with that
sound and its cause.  At first it had filled Mrs Sudberry with great
alarm, raising in her feeble mind horrible reminiscences of tales of
burglary and midnight murder.  After suffering inconceivable torments of
apprehension for two nights, the good lady could stand it no longer, and
insisted on her husband going out to see what it could be.  As the sound
appeared to come from the cottage, or off-shoot from the White House, in
which the McAllisters lived, he naturally went there, and discovered
that the noise was caused by the stoutest of the two servant-girls.
This sturdy lass, whose costume displayed a pair of enormous ankles to
advantage, and exhibited a pair of arms that might have made a
prize-fighter envious, was standing in the middle of the floor, with a
large iron pot before her and a thick wooden pin in her hands, with the
end of which she was, according to her own statement, "champin'
tatties."

Mrs McAllister, her son, Hugh and Dan, and the other servant-girl, were
seated round the walls of the room, watching the process with deep
interest, for their supper was in that pot.  The nine dogs were also
seated round the room, watching the process with melancholy interest;
for their supper was _not_ in that pot, and they knew it, and wished it
was.

"My dear," said Mr Sudberry, on returning to the parlour, "they are
`champing tatties.'"

"What?"

"`Champing tatties,' in other words, mashing potatoes, which it would
seem, with milk, constitute the supper of the family."

Thus was Mrs Sudberry's mind relieved, and from that night forward no
further notice was taken of the sound.

But on the present occasion the champing of the tatties had an unwonted
effect on Mr Sudberry.  It caused him to dream, and his dreams
naturally took a pugilistic turn.  His breathing became quick and short;
his face began to twitch; and Lucy suggested that it would be as well to
"awake papa," when papa suddenly awaked himself; and hit George a
tremendous blow on the shoulder.

"Hallo! father," cried George remonstratively, rubbing the assaulted
limb; "really, you know, if you come it in this way often, you will
alienate my affections, I fear."

"My dear boy!--what?--where?  Why, I was dreaming!"

Of course he was, and the result of his dream was that everybody in the
room started up in surprise and excitement.  Thereafter they sat down in
a gay and very talkative humour.  Soon afterwards a curious squeaking
was heard in the adjoining cottage, and another thumping sound began,
which was to the full as unremitting as, and much more violent than,
that caused by "champin' tatties."  The McAllister household, having
supped, were regaling themselves with a dance.

"What say to a dance with them?" said George.

"Oh!" cried Lucy, leaping up.

"Capital!" shouted Mr Sudberry, clapping his hands.

A message was sent in.  The reply was, "heartily welcome!" and in two
minutes Mr Sudberry and stout servant-girl Number 1, George and stout
girl Number 2, Hugh and Lucy, Dan and Hobbs, (the latter consenting to
act as girl Number 3), were dancing the Reel o' Tullochgorum like
maniacs, to the inspiring strains of McAllister's violin, while Peter
sat in a corner in constant dread of being accidentally sat down upon.
Fred, in another corner, looked on, laughed, and was caressed furiously
by the nine dogs.  Mrs Sudberry talked philosophy in the window, with
grave, earnest Mrs McAllister, whose placid equanimity was never
disturbed, but flowed on, broad and deep, like a mighty river, and whose
interest in all things, small and great, seemed never to flag for a
moment.

The room in which all this was going on was of the plainest possible
description.  It was the hall, the parlour, the dining-room, the
drawing-room, and the library of the McAllister Family.  Earth was the
floor, white-washed and uneven were the walls, non-existent was the
ceiling, and black with peat-smoke were the rafters.  There was a
dresser, clean and white, and over it a rack of plates and dishes.
There was a fire-place--a huge yawning gulf; with a roaring fire, (for
culinary purposes only, being summer),--and beside it a massive iron
gallows, on which to hang the family pot.  Said pot was a caldron; so
big was it that there was a species of winch and a chain for raising and
lowering it over the fire; in fact, a complicated sort of machinery,
mysterious and soot-begrimed, towered into the dark depths of the ample
chimney.  There was a brown cupboard in one corner, and an apoplectic
eight-day clock in another.  A small bookshelf supported the family
Bible and several ancient and much-worn volumes.  Wooden benches were
ranged round the walls; and clumsy chairs and tables, with various
pails, buckets, luggies, troughs, and indescribable articles, completed
the furniture of the picturesque and cosy apartment.  The candle that
lighted the whole was supported by a tall wooden candlestick, whose foot
rested on the ground, and whose body, by a simple but clumsy
contrivance, could be lengthened or shortened at pleasure, from about
three to five feet.

But besides all this, there was a world of _materiel_ disposed on the
black rafters above--old farm implements, broken furniture, an old
musket, an old claymore, a broken spinning-wheel, etcetera, all of which
were piled up and so mingled with the darkness of the vault above, that
imagination might have deemed the spot a general rendezvous for the aged
and the maimed of "still life."

Fast and furious was the dancing that night.  Native animal spirits did
it all.  No artificial stimulants were there.  "Tatties and mulk" were
at the bottom of the whole affair.  The encounter of that forenoon
seemed to have had the effect of recalling the spirit of his youth to
Mr Sudberry, and his effervescing joviality gave tone to all the rest.

"Now, Fred, you must take my place," said he, throwing himself in an
exhausted condition on a "settle."

"But perhaps your partner may want a rest?" suggested Fred.

Lass Number 1 scorned the idea: so Fred began.

"Are your fingers not tired?" asked Mr Sudberry, wiping his bald
forehead, which glistened as if it had been anointed with oil.

"Not yet," said McAllister quietly.

Not yet!  If the worthy Highlander had played straight on all night and
half the next day, he would have returned the same answer to the same
question.

"You spend a jolly life of it here," said Mr Sudberry to Mrs
McAllister.

"Ay, a pleasant life, no doot; but we're not _always_ fiddling and
dancing."

"True, but the variety of herding the cattle on these splendid hills is
charming."

"So it is," assented Mrs McAllister; "we've reason to be contented with
our lot.  Maybe ye would grow tired of it, however, if ye was always
here.  I'm told that the gentry whiles grow tired of their braw rooms,
and take to plowterin' aboot the hills and burns for change.  Sometimes
they even dance wi' the servants in a Highland cottage!"

"Ha! you have me there," cried Mr Sudberry, laughing.

"Let me sit down, pa, pray do!" cried Lucy.  Her father rose quickly,
and Lucy dropped into his place quite exhausted.

"Come, father, relieve me!" cried Fred.  "I'm done up, and my partner
_won't_ give in."

To say truth, it seemed as if the said partner, (stout lass Number 1),
never would give in at all.  From the time that the Sudberrys entered
she had not ceased to dance reel after reel, without a minute of
breathing-time.  Her countenance was like the sun in a fog; her limbs
moved as deftly and untiringly, after having tired out father and son,
as they did when she began the evening; and she now went on, with a
quiet smile on her face, evidently resolved to show their English guests
the nature of female Highland metal.

In the midst of all this the dogs suddenly became restive, and began to
growl.  Soon after, a knock came to the door, and the dogs rushed at it,
barking violently.  Mr McAllister went out, and found that a company of
wandering beggars had arrived, and prayed to be allowed to sleep in the
barn.  Unfortunate it was for them that they came so soon after Mr
Sudberry's unpleasant rencounter with one of their fraternity.  The good
man of the house, although naturally humane and hospitable to such poor
wanderers, was on the present occasion embittered against them; so he
ordered them off.

This incident brought the evening to an abrupt termination, as it was
incumbent on the farmer to see the intruders safely off his premises.
So the Sudberrys returned, in a state of great delight, excitement, and
physical warmth, to their own parlour.

The only other fact worth recording in regard to this event is, that the
Sudberrys were two hours late for breakfast next morning!



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 16.

THE EFFECTS OF COMPASSES.

The first few weeks of the Sudberrys' residence in their Highland home
were of an April cast--alternate sunshine and shower.  Sometimes they
had a day of beaming light from morning till night; at other times they
had a day of unmitigated rain, or, as Mr Sudberry called it, "a day of
cats and dogs;" and occasionally they had a day which embraced within
its own circuit both conditions of weather--glorious bursts of sunshine
alternating with sudden plumps of rain.

Thus far the weather justified and strengthened the diverse opinions of
both husband and wife.

"Did I not tell you, my love, that the climate was charming?" was Mr
Sudberry's triumphant remark when a dazzling blaze of light would roll
over flood and fell, and chase the clouds away.

"There, didn't I say so?" was the withering rejoinder of Mrs Sudberry,
when a black cloud rolled over the sky and darkened the landscape as
with a wipe of ink.

Hitherto victory leaned decidedly to neither side, the smile of triumph
and the humbled aspect of defeat rested alternate on either countenance,
so that both faces taken together formed a sort of contradictory human
barometer, which was not a bad one--at all events it was infinitely
superior to that instrument of the banjo type, which Mr Sudberry was
perpetually tapping in order to ascertain whether or not its tendencies
were dropsical.

When father was up at "set fair," mother was certain to be depressed,
inclining to much rain; yet, strangely enough, it was on such occasions
_very dry_!  When mother was "fair," (barometrically speaking, of
course), father was naturally down at "changeable"!  Yet there was
wonderful contradiction in the readings of this barometer; for, when
mother's countenance indicated "much rain," father sometimes went down
to "stormy," and the tails of his coat became altogether unmanageable.

But, towards the middle of the holidays, father gained a decided
victory.  For three weeks together they had not a drop of rain--scarcely
a cloud in the sky; and mother, although fairly beaten and obliged to
confess that it was indeed splendid weather, met her discomfiture with a
good grace, and enjoyed herself extremely, in a quiet way.

During this bright period the Sudberry Family, one and all, went ahead,
as George said, "at a tremendous pace."  The compasses having arrived,
Mr Sudberry no longer laid restrictions on the wandering propensities
of his flock but, having given a compass to each, and taught them all
the use of it, sent them abroad upon the unexplored ocean of hills
without fear.  Even Jacky received a compass, with strict injunctions to
take good care of it.  Being naturally of an inquiring disposition, he
at once took it to pieces, and this so effectually that he succeeded in
analysing it into a good many more pieces than its fabricator had ever
dreamed of.  To put it together again would have taxed the ingenuity of
the same fabricator--no wonder that it was beyond the power of Jacky
altogether.  But this mattered nothing to the "little darling," as he
did not understand his father's learned explanation of the uses of the
instrument.  To do Mr Sudberry justice, he had not expected that his
boy could understand him; but he was aware that if he, Jacky, did not
get a compass as well as the rest of them, there would be no peace in
the White House during _that_ season.  Moreover, Jacky did not care
whether he should get lost or not.  In fact, he rather relished it; for
he knew that it would create a pleasant excitement for a time in the
household, and he entertained the firm belief that McAllister and his
men could find any creature on the hills, man or beast, no matter how
hopelessly it should be lost.

There being, then, no limit to the wanderings of the Sudberrys, they one
and all gave themselves over deliberately to a spirit of riotous
rambling.  Of course they all, on various occasions, lost themselves,
despite the compasses; but, having become experienced mountaineers, they
always took good care to find themselves again before sunset.  George
and Fred candidly declared that they preferred to steer by "dead
reckoning," and left their compasses at home.  Lucy always carried hers,
and frequently consulted it, especially when in her father's presence,
for she was afflicted, poor girl, with that unfashionable weakness, an
earnest desire to please her father even in trifles.  Nevertheless, she
privately confided to Fred one day that she was often extremely puzzled
by her compass, and that she had grave doubts as to whether, on a
certain occasion, when she had gone for a long ramble with Hector and
Flora Macdonald, and been lost, the blame of that disaster was not due
to her compass.  Fred said he thought it was, and believed that it would
be the means of compassing her final disappearance from the face of the
earth if she trusted to it so much.

As for Mr Sudberry himself; his faith in the compass was equal to that
of any mariner.  The worthy man was, or believed himself to be, (which
is the same thing, you know!) of profoundly scientific _tendencies_.  He
was aware, of course, that he had never really _studied_ any science
whatever; but he had dabbled in a number of them, and he felt that he
had immense _capacity_ for deep thought and subtle investigation.  His
mind was powerfully analytical--that's what it was.  One consequence of
this peculiarity of mind was that he "took his bearings" on short and
known distances, as well as on long venturesome rambles; he tested
himself and his compass, as it were.

One day he had walked out alone in the direction of the village, four
miles distant from the White House, whence the family derived their
supplies.  He had set out with his rod, (he never walked near the river
without his rod), intending to take a cast in what he styled the "lower
pools."  By degrees he fished so near to the village that he resolved to
push forward and purchase a few books.  Depositing rod and basket among
the bushes, he walked smartly along the road, having previously, as a
matter of course, taken his bearings from the village by compass.  A
flock of sheep met him, gazed at him in evident surprise, and passed on.
At their heels came the collie dog, with his tongue out.  It bestowed a
mild, intelligent glance on the stranger, and also passed on.  Close
behind the dog came the shepherd, with plaid bonnet and thick stick.

"A fine day, friend," said Mr Sudberry.

"Oo, ay, it _is_ a fine day."

He also passed on.

Another turn in the road, and Mr Sudberry met a drove of shaggy cattle,
each cow of which looked sturdy and fierce enough for any ordinary bull;
while the bull himself was something awful to look upon.  There is
nothing ladylike or at all feminine in the aspect of a Highland cow!

Mr Sudberry politely stepped to one side, and made way for them.  Many
of the animals paused for an instant, and gazed at the Englishman with
profound gravity, and then went on their way with an air that showed
they evidently could make nothing of him.  The drover thought otherwise,
for he stopped.

"Coot-tay to you, sir."

"Good-day, friend, good-day.  Splendid weather for the--for the--"

Mr Sudberry did not know exactly for which department of agriculture
the weather was most favourable, so he said--"for the cattle."

"Oo, ay, the w'ather's no that ill.  Can she tell the time o' day?"

Out came the compass.

"West-nor'-west, and by--Oh!  I beg your pardon," (pulling out his watch
and replacing the compass), "a quarter-past two."

The drover passed on, and Mr Sudberry, chuckling at his mistake, took
the bearings of a tall pine that grew on a distant knoll.

On gaining the outskirts of the village, Mr Sudberry felt a sensation
of hunger, and instantly resolved to purchase a bun, which article he
had now learned to call by its native name of "cookie."  At the same
instant a bright idea struck him--he would steer for the baker's shop by
compass!  He knew the position of the shop exactly--the milestone gave
him the distance--he would lay his course for it.  He would walk
conscientiously with his eyes on the ground, except when it was
necessary to refer to the compass, and he would not raise them until he
stood within the shop.  It would be a triumphant exhibition of the
practical purposes, in a small way, to which the instrument might be
applied.

Full of this idea, he took a careful observation of the compass, the
sun, and surrounding nature; laid his course for the baker's shop, which
was on the right side of the village, and walked straight into the
butcher's, which lay on its left extremity.  He was so much put out on
lifting his eyes to those of the butcher, that he ordered a leg of
mutton and six pounds of beefsteaks on the spot.  The moment after, he
recollected that two legs of mutton and a round of beef had been
forwarded to the White House by coach the day before, and that there was
a poached brace of moor-fowl in the larder at that moment; but, having
given the order in a prompt, business tone of voice, he felt that he
lacked moral courage to rescind it.

"Ye'll ha'e frien's comin' to veesit ye," observed the butcher, who was
gifted with a peculiar and far-sighted faculty of "putting that and that
together."

"No; we have no immediate prospect of such a pleasure."

"Ay?  Hum! it's wonderfu' what an appeteet the hill air gives to
strangers."

"A tremendous appetite!  Good-day, friend."

Mr Sudberry said this heartily, and went off to the baker's--by dead
reckoning--discomfited but chuckling.

The butcher pondered and philosophised over the subject the remainder of
the afternoon with much curiosity, but with no success.  Had the wisdom
of Plato been mingled with his Scotch philosophy, the compound reduced
to an essential oil of investigative profundity, and brought to bear on
the subject in question, he would have signally failed to discover the
reason of the Sudberrys' larder being crammed that week with an
unreasonable quantity of butcher-meat.

Yes! during these three weeks of sunshine the Sudberrys made hay of
their time as diligently as the McAllisters made hay of their grass, and
the compasses played a prominent part in all their doings, and led them
into many scrapes.  Among other things, they led them to Glen Ogle.
More of this in the next chapter.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 17.

THE TRIP TO GLEN OGLE.

Without entering into minute comparisons, it may be truly said that Glen
Ogle is one of the grandest and wildest of mountain passes in the
highlands of Perthshire.  Unlike the Trossachs, which Sir Walter Scott
has immortalised in his "Lady of the Lake," Glen Ogle is a wild, rugged,
rocky pass, almost entirely destitute of trees, except at its lower
extremity; and of shrubs, except along the banks of the little burn
which meanders like a silver thread down the centre of the glen.  High
precipitous mountains rise on either hand--those on the left being more
rugged and steep than those on the right.  The glen is very narrow
throughout--a circumstance which adds to its wildness; and which, in
gloomy weather, imparts to the spot a truly savage aspect.  Masses of
_debris_ and fallen rocks line the base of the precipices, or speckle
the sides of the mountains in places where the slopes, being less
precipitous than elsewhere, have served to check the fallen matter; and
the whole surface of the narrow vale is dotted with rocks of various
sizes, which have bounded from the cliffs, and, overleaping every
obstacle, have found a final resting-place on a level with the little
stream.

The road follows the course of the stream at the foot of the glen; but,
as it advances, it ascends the mountains on the right, and runs along
their sides until the head of the pass is gained.  Here it crosses, by
means of a rude stone bridge, a deep chasm, at the bottom of which the
waters of the burn leap and roar among chaotic rocks--a foretaste of the
innumerable rushes, leaps, tumbles, and plunges, which await them all
down the glen.  Just beyond this bridge is a small level patch of
mingled rocky and mossy ground.  It is the summit of the mountain ridge;
yet the highest peaks rise above it, and so hem it in that it resembles
the arena of a rude amphitheatre.  In the centre of this spot lies a
clear, still lake, or tarn, not more than a hundred yards in diameter.
This is the fountain-head of two streams.  From the pools and springs,
within a stone's cast of the tarn, arise the infant waters of the burn
already mentioned, which, descending Glen Ogle, find their way to the
Firth of Tay, through Strath Earn.  From the opposite side of the tarn
issues another brook, which, leaping down the other side of the
mountains, mingles its waters with Loch Tay, and finds its way, by a
much more circuitous route, to the same firth.  The whole region is
desolate and lonely in the extreme, and so wild that a Rocky Mountain
hunter, transported thither by fairy power, might find himself quite at
home, except in the matter of big-horned goats and grisly bears.  But,
for the matter of that, he would find mountain sheep with very
respectable horns in their way; and, as to bears, the hill-sides are
bare enough to satisfy any hunter of moderate expectations.

Up to this elevated tarn, among the hoary mountain peaks, the Sudberry
Family struggled one hot, sunny, lovely forenoon.  Bent on a long and
bold flight, they had travelled by the stage-coach to the foot of the
glen, near the head of Loch Earn.  Here they were deposited at the door
of a picturesque white-washed house, which was styled the Inn, and from
this point they toiled up the glen on foot, intoxicating themselves on
the way with deep draughts of mingled excitement, fresh air, and
romance.

The whole family were out upon this occasion, including Mrs Brown,
Hobbs, and Peter.  The delicate Tilly was also there, and to her Master
Jacky devoted himself with an assiduity worthy of even a _good_ boy.  He
took occasion several times, however, to tell Peter, in a grave way,
that, whenever he felt tired, he would be glad to carry his basket for
him, and himself too, for the matter of that, if he should get quite
knocked up.  He indemnified himself for these concessions on the side of
virtue by inflicting various little torments on the bodies and minds of
Mrs Brown and his mother, such as hiding himself at some distance
ahead, and suddenly darting out from behind a rock with a hideous yell;
or coming up behind with eyes staring and hair flying, and screaming
"mad bull," with all the force of his lungs.

Hector and Flora Macdonald were also of the party.  George and Fred were
particularly attentive to Flora, and Hector was ditto to Lucy.  He
carried her botanical box, and gave her a good deal of information in
regard to plants and wild flowers, in which Lucy professed a deep
interest, insomuch that she stopped frequently to gather specimens and
listen to Hector's learned observations, until they were more than once
left a considerable way behind the rest of the party.  Indeed, Lucy's
interest in science was so great that she unwittingly pulled two or
three extremely rare specimens to pieces while listening to these
eloquent discourses, and was only made conscious of her wickedness by a
laughing remark from Hector that she "must surely have the bump of
destructiveness largely developed."

Arrived at the tarn, each individual deposited his and her basket or
bundle on a selected spot of dry ground, and the ladies began to spread
out the viands, while Mr Sudberry took the exact bearings of the spot
by compass.  While thus philosophically engaged, he observed that fish
were rising in the tarn.

"Hallo!  Hector; why, I see fish in the pond."

"True," replied the young man, "plenty of trout; but they are small."

"I'll fish," said Mr Sudberry.

"So will I," cried George.

And fish they did for half an hour, at the end of which period they were
forcibly torn away from the water-side and made to sit down and eat
sandwiches--having caught between them two dozen of trout, the largest
of which was about five inches long.

"Why, how did ever the creatures get up into such a lake?" inquired Mr
Sudberry, eyeing the trout in surprise: "they could never jump up all
the waterfalls that we have passed to-day."

"I suppose they were born in the lake," suggested Hector, with a smile.

"Born in it?" murmured Mr Sudberry, pondering the idea; "but the
_first_ ones could not have been born in it.  How did the first ones get
there?"

"The same way as what the first fishes came into the sea, of course,"
said Jacky, looking very pompous.

Unfortunately he unintentionally tried to perform that impossible feat,
which is called swallowing a crumb down the wrong throat, thereby nearly
choking himself; and throwing his mother into a flutter of agitation.

There was something so exhilarating in the atmosphere of that elevated
region that none of the party felt inclined to waste much time over
luncheon.  Mr Sudberry, in particular, was very restless and migratory.
His fishing propensities had been aroused, and could not be quieted.
He had, in the course of a quarter of an hour, gobbled what he deemed it
his duty to eat and drink, and, during the remainder of the meal, had
insisted on helping everybody to everything, moving about as he did so,
and thereby causing destruction to various articles of crockery.  At
last he declared that he was off to fish down the burn, and that the
rest of the party would pick him up on their way back to the coach,
which was to start from the inn at Loch Earn Head at five in the
afternoon.

"Now don't be late," said he; "be at the inn by half-past four
precisely."

"Ay, ay; yes, yes," from everybody; and away he went alone to enjoy his
favourite sport.

The rest of the party scattered.  Some went to good points for
sketching, some to botanise, and others to ascend the highest of the
neighbouring peaks.  Mrs Brown and Hobbs were left in charge of the
_debris_ of luncheon, to the eating up of which they at once devoted
themselves with the utmost avidity as soon as the others were gone.

"Come, this is wot I calls comfortable," said Hobbs; (he spoke huskily,
through an immense mouthful of sandwich.) "Ain't it, Mrs Brown?"

"Humph!" said Mrs Brown.

It is to be remarked that Mrs Brown was out of temper--not that that
was an unusual thing; but she had found the expedition more trying than
she had anticipated, and the torments of mind and body to which Jacky
had subjected her were of an uncommonly irritating nature.

"Wot," continued Hobbs, attacking a cold tongue, "d'you think of the
natives of this 'ere place?"

"Nothink at all," was Mrs Brown's prompt rejoinder.

Hobbs, who was naturally of a jolly, sociable disposition, felt a little
depressed at Mrs Brown's repellent manner; so he changed his mode of
address.

"Try some of this 'ere fowl, Mrs Brown, it's remarkably tender, it is;
just suited to the tender lips of--dear me, Mrs Brown, how improvin'
the mountain hair is to your complexion, if I may wenture to speak of
improvin' that w'ich is perfect already."

"Get along, Hobbs!" said Mrs Brown, affecting to be displeased.

"My dear, I'm gettin' along like a game chicken, perhaps I might say
like Dan, who's got the most uncommon happetite as I ever did see.  He's
a fine fellow, Dan is, ain't he, Mrs Brown?"

"Brute," said Mrs Brown; "they're all brutes."

"Ah!" said Hobbs, shaking his head, "strong language, Mrs Brown.  But,
admitting that, (merely for the sake of argument, of course), you cannot
deny that they are raither clever brutes."

"I do deny it," retorted Mrs Brown, taking a savage bite out of the leg
of a chicken, as if it represented the whole Celtic race.  "Don't they
talk the most arrant stuff?--specially that McAllister, who is forever
speakin' about things that he don't understand, and that nobody else
does!"

"Speak for yourself; ma'am," said Hobbs, drawing himself up with as much
dignity as was compatible with a sitting posture.

"I _do_ speak for myself.  Moreover, I speak for _some_ whom I might
name, and who ain't _verra_ far away."

"If, ma'am, you mean that insinivation to apply--"

"I make no insinivations.  Hand me that pot of jam--no, the unopened
one."

Hobbs did as he was required with excruciating politeness, and
thereafter took refuge in dignified silence; suffering, however, an
expression of lofty scorn to rest on his countenance.  Mrs Brown
observed this, and her irate spirit was still further chafed by it.  She
meditated giving utterance to some withering remarks, while, with
agitated fingers, she untied the string of the little pot of
cranberry-jam.  Worthy Mrs Brown was particularly fond of
cranberry-jam.  She had put up this pot in her own basket expressly for
her own private use.  She now opened it with the determination to enjoy
it to the full, to smack her lips very much and frequently, and offer
none of it to Hobbs.  When the cover was removed she gazed into the pot
with a look of intense horror, uttered a piercing shriek, and fell back
in a dead faint.

This extraordinary result is easily accounted for.  Almost every human
being has one grand special loathing.  There is everywhere some creature
which to some individual is an object of dread--a creature to be shrunk
from and shuddered at.  Mrs Brown's horror was frogs.  Jacky knew this
well.  He also knew of Mrs Brown's love for cranberry-jam, and her
having put up a special pot.  To abstract the pot, replace it by a
similar pot with a live frog imprisoned therein, and then retire to
chuckle in solitude and devour the jam, was simple and natural.  That
the imp had done this; that he had watched with delight the deceived
woman pant up Glen Ogle with the potted frog on her arm and perspiration
on her brow; that he had asked for a little cranberry-jam on the way,
with an expression of countenance that almost betrayed him; and that he
had almost shrieked with glee, when he observed the anxiety with which
Mrs Brown--having tripped and fallen--opened her basket and smiled to
observe that the pot was _not_ broken; that the imp, we say, had been
guilty of all this, was known only to himself; but much of it became
apparent to the mind of Hobbs, when, on Mrs Brown's fainting, he heard
a yell of triumph, and, on looking up, beheld Master Jacky far up the
heights, clearly defined against the bright sky, and celebrating the
success of his plot with a maniacal edition of the Highland fling.

At a quarter-past four all the party assembled at the inn except Mr
Sudberry.

Five arrived--no Mr Sudberry.  The coach could not wait!  The
gentlemen, in despair, rushed up the bed of the stream, and found him
fishing, in a glow of excitement, with his basket and all his pockets
full of splendid trout.

The result was that the party had to return home in a large wagon, and
it was night when at last they embarked in their boat and rowed down
their own lake.  It was a profound calm.  The air was mild and balmy.
There was just enough of light to render the surrounding mountains
charmingly mysterious, and the fatigues of the day made the repose of
the boat agreeable.  Even Mrs Sudberry enjoyed that romantic night-trip
on the water.  It was so dark that there was a tendency to keep silence
on landing to speak in low tones; but a little burst of delight broke
forth when they surmounted the dark shoulder of the hill, and came at
last in sight of the windows of the White House, glowing a ruddy welcome
home.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 18.

THE FAMILY GO TO CHURCH UNDER DIFFICULTIES.

It would seem to be a well-understood and undeniable fact that woman
invariably gains the victory over man in the long-run; and even when she
does not prove to be the winner, she is certain to come off the
conqueror.  It is well that it should be so.  The reins of the world
could not be in better hands!

But, strangely enough, woman triumphs, not only in matters over which
she and man have, more or less, united control, but even in matters with
which the human race cannot interfere.  For instance, in regard to
weather--despite the three weeks of unfailing sunshine, Mrs Sudberry
maintained her original opinion, that, notwithstanding appearances being
against her, the weather in the Highlands of Scotland was, as a rule,
execrable.  As if to justify this opinion, the weather suddenly changed,
and the three weeks of sunshine were followed by _six_ weeks of rain.

Whether there was something unusual in the season or not, we cannot
positively say; but certain it is that, for the period we have named, it
rained incessantly, with the exception of four days.  During a great
part of the time it rained from morning till night.  Sometimes it was
intermittent, and came down in devastating floods.  At other times it
came in the form of Scotch mist, which is simply small rain, so
plentiful that it usually obliterates the whole landscape, and so
penetrating that it percolates through everything except water-proof.
It was a question which was the more wetting species of rain--the
thorough down-pour or the heavy mist.  But whether it poured or
permeated, there was never any change in the leaden sky during these six
weeks, and the mountains were never clearly seen except during the four
accidental days already referred to.

At first Mrs Sudberry triumphed; but long before that season was over
she had reached such a condition of humility that she would have
actually rejoiced in a fine day.

As for the rest of the family, they bore up against it bravely for a
time.  On the first day of this wet season, they were rather pleased
than otherwise to be obliged to stay in the house.  Jacky, in
particular, was delighted, as it afforded him a glorious opportunity of
doing mischief, and making himself so disagreeable, that all, except his
mother, felt as if they hated him.  On the second day, indoor games of
various kinds were proposed and entered into with much spirit.  On the
third day the games were tried again, with less spirit.  On the fourth
day they were played without any spirit at all, and on the fifth they
were given up in disgust.  The sixth day was devoted to reading and
sulking, and thus they ended that week.

The seventh day, which chanced to be Sunday, was one of the four fine
days before mentioned.  The sky was blue, the sun intensely bright, and
the inundated earth was steaming.  The elastic spirits of the family
recovered.

"Come, we'll walk to church!" cried Mr Sudberry, as they rose from
breakfast.

"What, my dear!" exclaimed his wife, "and the roads knee-deep in mud and
water!"

"I care not if they were waist-deep!" cried the reckless man: "I've been
glued to my seat for a week; so I'll walk to church, if I should have to
swim for it."

"So will I! so will I!" from George and Fred; "So will we all!" from
Lucy; "And me, too!" timidly, from Tilly; with "Hurrah!" furiously from
the imp,--this decided the business.

"Very well!" said the resigned mother of the flock; "then I will go
too!"

So away they went to church, through mud and mire and water, with the
nine collie dogs at their heels, and Mr McAllister bearing them
company.

Fred and McAllister walked together in rear of the rest, conversing
earnestly, for the latter was learned in theology, and the former dearly
loved a philosophical discussion.  Mr Sudberry and Lucy walked in
advance.  As he approached the well-known bush, the force of habit
induced him almost unconsciously to pick up a stone and walk on tip-toe.
Lucy, who did not know the cause of this strange action, looked at her
father in surprise.

Whirr! went a black-cock; bang! went the stone, and a yell instantly
followed, accompanied by a hat--it was his best beaver!

"Why, dear papa, it is Sunday!"

"Dear me, so it is!"  The good man was evidently much discomfited.  "Ah!
Lucy dear, that shows the effect and force of bad habit; that is to
say, of habit, (for the simple act cannot be called bad), on the wrong
day."

"You cannot call throwing your best hat in the mud a good habit on _any_
day," said Mrs Sudberry, with the air of a woman who regarded her
husband's chance of mending as being quite hopeless.

"It was only forgetfulness, my dear!" said the worthy man, putting his
hat quite meekly on the back of his head, and pushing forward in order
to avoid further remarks.  Coming to a hollow of the road, they found
that it was submerged a foot deep by the river, which had been swollen
into a small lake at that spot.  There was much trouble here.
McAllister, with native gallantry, offered to carry the ladies over in
his arms; but the ladies would not listen to the proposal, with the
exception of Tilly, who at once accepted it gladly.  The rest succeeded
in scrambling along by the projecting stones at the base of the wall
that ran alongside of the road, and gained the other side, after many
slips, much alarm, and sundry screams.

"Oh, you _darling_!" cried Tilly, suddenly.  She pointed to a hole in
the wall, out of which peeped the most wide-awake weasel that ever
lived.  Its brown little head and sharp nose moved quickly about with
little jerks, and its round lustrous black eyes seemed positively to
glitter with surprise, (perhaps it was delight), at the Sudberry Family.
Of course Jacky rushed at it with a yell--there was a good deal of the
terrier in Jacky--and of course the weasel turned tail, and vanished
like a flash of light.

When they came to the narrowest part of the pass which opened out of
their own particular valley--Rasselas Vale, as Lucy had named it--Tilly
was fortunate enough to set eyes on another "darling," which, in the
shape of a roe deer, stood, startled and trembling, in the centre of the
pass.  They came on it so suddenly that it seemed to have been paralysed
for a moment.  A shout from the imp, however, quickly dissolved the
spell; with one graceful bound it cleared the wall, and was far away
among the brackens on the mountain-side before the party had recovered
from their delight and surprise at having met a real live wild deer,
face to face, and not twenty yards distant, in this unexpected manner.

Nothing further occurred to arrest their progress to church, which was
upwards of four miles from their home among the hills.

The sermon that day was peculiar.  The minister of the parish was a
young man; one of those quiet, modest, humble young men, who are, as
their friends think, born to be neglected in this world.  He was a
shrewd, sensible young fellow, however, who, if put to it, could have
astonished his "friends" not a little.  He was brimful of "Scotch"
theology; but, strange to say, he refrained from bringing that fact
prominently before his flock, insomuch that some of the wiser among them
held the opinion, that, although he was an excellent, worthy young man,
he was, if any thing, a little commonplace--in fact, "he never seemed to
have any diffeeculties in his discoorses: an' if he _had_, he aye got
ower them by sayin' plump oot that they were mysteries he did na pretend
to unravel!"

Any one with half an eye might have seen that the young clergyman was
immeasurably above his flock intellectually.  A few of them, among whom
was our friend McAllister, perceived this, and appreciated their
minister.  The most of them, good souls, thought him worthy, but _weak_.

Feeling that he had been appointed to _preach the gospel_, this youth
resolved to "make himself all things to all men, in order that he might
gain some."  He therefore aimed at preaching Christ crucified, and kept
much of his own light in the background, bringing it out only in
occasional flashes, which were calculated to illuminate, but not dazzle,
the minds of his people.  He remembered the remark of that old woman,
who, when asked what she thought of a new minister, said, "Hoot!  I
think naethin' o' him ava'; _I understand every word he says_," and he
resolved rather to be thought nothing of at all than pander to the
contemptible craving of those who fancy that they are drinking deep
draughts of wisdom when they read or hear words that are
incomprehensible, but which _sound_ profoundly philosophical.

But we might have spared our readers all this, for the young minister
did not preach that day.  He was unwell, and a friend had agreed to
preach for him.  The friend was an old man, with bent form and silvery
hair, who, having spent a long life in preaching the gospel, had been
compelled, by increasing age, to retire from active service.  Yet, like
a true warrior, he could, when occasion required, buckle on his
Christian armour, and fight stoutly, as of old, for his beloved Master
and for the salvation of human souls.

His eye was dim and his voice was weak, and it brought tears to the eyes
of the sympathetic among the people to see the old man lose his place
and unconsciously repeat his sentences.  But not a shadow of disrespect
mingled with their feelings.  There was no mistaking the glow of love
and the kindly fire which flushed the pale face when salvation was the
theme.  When he mentioned the name of Jesus, and urged sinners to flee
from the wrath to come, the people _felt_ the truth of that word, "God's
strength is perfected in man's weakness."

The Sudberrys felt very happy that day on returning home.  They overtook
old Moggy, stumping along through mud and water, with tears bedewing her
cheeks.

"Why, Moggy, you are all wet!" said Fred, hastening towards her.

"Ay, I fell into a dub as I cam out o' the kirk.  But, ech! sirs, I've
heard blessed words this day."

The Sudberrys spent that evening in their usual way.  They went to a
particular spot, which Lucy had named the Sunny Knoll, and there learned
hymns off by heart, which were repeated at night, and commented on by
Mr Sudberry.  After supper they all got into what is called "a talk."
It were presumptuous to attempt to explain what that means.  Everyone
knows what it is.  Many people know, also, that "a talk" can be got up
when people are in the right spirit, on any subject, and that the
subject of all others most difficult to get up this "talk" upon, is
religion.  Mr Sudberry knew this; he felt much inclined at one time
that night to talk about fishing, but he laid strong constraint on
himself; and gave the conversation a turn in the right direction.  The
result was "a talk"--a hearty, free, enthusiastic communing on the
Saviour, the soul, and eternal things, which kept them up late and sent
them happy to bed--happier than they had yet been all that season.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 19.

A STRANGE HOME-COMING.

Master Jacky made two discoveries next day, both of which he announced
with staring eyes and in breathless haste, having previously dashed into
the parlour like a miniature thunderbolt.

The first was that the bathing-pool was clean swept away by the floods,
not a vestige of it being left.  The whole family rushed out to see with
their own eyes.  They saw and were convinced.  Not a trace of it
remained.  Even the banks of the little stream had been so torn and
altered by gushing water and tumbling rocks that it was almost
impossible to say where that celebrated pool had been.  The rains having
commenced again on Monday, (just as if Sunday had been allowed to clear
up in order to let people get to church), the family returned to the
house, some to read and sketch, Mr Sudberry and George to prepare for a
fishing excursion, despite the rain.

The second discovery was more startling in its nature.  Jacky announced
it with round eyes and a blazing face, thus--

"Oh! ma, old Moggy's d-dyin'!"

The attractive power of "sweeties" and a certain fondness for the old
woman in the boy's heart had induced Jacky to visit the hut so
frequently, that it at last came to be understood, that, when the imp
was utterly lost, he was sure to be at old Moggy's!  He had sauntered
down, indifferent to rain, to call on his friend just after discovering
the destruction of the bathing-pool, and found her lying on the bundle
of rags which constituted her bed.  She was groaning woefully.  Jack
went forward with much anxiety.  The old woman was too ill to raise
herself; but she had sufficient strength to grasp the child's hand, and,
drawing him towards her, to stroke his head.

"Hallo!  Moggy, you're ill!"

A groan and a gasp was the reply, and the poor creature made such wry
faces, and looked altogether so cadaverous, that Jacky was quite
alarmed.  He suggested a drink of water, and brought her one.  Then, as
the old woman poured out a copious stream of Gaelic with much emphasis,
he felt that the presence of some more able and intelligent nurse was
necessary; so, like a sensible boy, he ran home and delivered his
report, as has been already described.

Lucy and Fred hastened at once to the hut of the old woman, and found
her in truth in a high fever, the result, no doubt, of the severe
wetting of the day before, and having slept in damp clothes.  Her mind
was wandering a little when Lucy knelt at her side and took her hand,
but she retained sufficient self-control to look up and exclaim
earnestly, "I can say'd noo--I can say'd noo!  I can say, _Thy will be
done_!"

She became aware, as she said so, that the visitor at her side was not
the one she had expected.

"Eh! ye're no' Miss Flora."

"No, dear granny, but I am quite as anxious to help you, and Flora will
come very soon.  We have only just heard of your illness, and have sent
a message to Flora.  Come, tell me what is the matter; let me put your
poor head right."

Old Moggy submitted with a groan, and Lucy, assisted by Fred,
endeavoured to make her bed a little more comfortable, while the anxious
and staring Jacky was sent back to the house for some tea and a dry
flannel gown.  Before his return, however, Flora Macdonald, who chanced
to be in the neighbourhood, came in to see Moggy, and immediately took
the case in hand, in a way that greatly relieved Fred and Lucy, because
they felt that she was accustomed to such incidents, and thoroughly
understood what to do.

Hobbs, who came in a few minutes later with the Sudberry medicine chest,
was instantly despatched by Flora for the doctor, and George, who
entered a few minutes after that, was sent about his business, as were
also a number of gossips, whose presence would ere long have rendered
the small hut unbearably warm, but for Flora's decision.

Meanwhile all this unusual bustle had the effect of diverting the mind
of the patient, who ceased to groan, and took to wandering instead.

Leaving them all thus engaged, we must beg the reader to accompany us to
a very different scene.

It is a dense thicket within the entrance of the pass, to which
reference has been made more than once.  Here a band of wandering
beggars or gypsies had pitched their camp on a spot which commanded an
extensive view of the high-road, yet was itself concealed from view by
the dwarf-trees which in that place covered the rugged hill-side.

There was a rude hut constructed of boughs and ferns, underneath which
several dark-skinned and sturdy children were at play.  A
dissipated-looking young woman sat beside them.  In front of this hut a
small fire was kindled, and over it, from a tripod, hung an iron pot,
the contents of which were watched with much interest, and stirred from
time to time by a middle-aged woman of forbidding aspect.  Beside her
stood our amiable friend with the squint and the broken nose, who has
already been mentioned as having received a merited thrashing from Mr
Sudberry.

"Yes, the little brute has come back," said the gypsy, grinding his
teeth in a way that might have led one to suppose he would have been
glad to have had the "little brute" between them.

"Serves ye right for stealin' him away!" said the woman.

"Serves me right!" echoed the man, bitterly.  "Did I not vow that I
would have my revenge on that old witch?  Did she not stand up in court
and witness again' me, so that I got two year for a job that many a
fellow gits off with six months for?"

"Well, you know you deserved it!" was the woman's comforting rejoinder.
"You committed the robbery."

"So I did; but if that she-wolf had not made it out so bad, I'd have got
off with six months.  Ha! but I knew how to touch her up.  I knew her
weakness! swore, afore I left the dock, that I'd steal away the little
cub she was so fond of--and _I did it_!"

There was a gleam of triumph in the gypsy's face as he said this, but it
was quickly followed by a scowl when the woman said--

"Well, and much you have made of it.  Here is the brat come back at the
end o' five years, to spoil our harvest!"

"How could I know he'd do that?  I paid the captain a goodish lump o'
tin to take him on a long voyage, and I thought he was so young that
he'd forget the old place."

"How d'ye know that he hasn't forgot it?" inquired the woman.

"'Cause, I seed him not twenty miles from this, and heerd him say he'd
stop at the Blue Boar all night, and come on here in the morning--that's
to-morrow--so I come straight out to ask you wot I'm to do."

"Ha! that's like you.  Too chicken-hearted to do any thing till I set
you on, an' mean enough to saddle it on me when ye'r nabbed."

"Come, that's an old story!" growled the man.  "You know wot _I_ am, and
I knows wot _you_ are.  But if something's not done, we'll have to cut
this here part o' the country in the very thick o' the season, when
these southern sightseers are ranging about the hills."

"That's true!" rejoined the woman, seriously.  "Many a penny the bairns
get from them, an there's no part so good as this.  Ye couldn't _put him
out o' the way_, could ye?"

"No," said the man, doggedly.

The woman had accompanied her question with a sidelong glance of
fiendish meaning, but her eyes at once dropped, and she evinced no anger
at the sharp decision of her companion's reply.

"Mother!" cried the young woman, issuing from the hut at the moment,
"don't you dare to go an' tempt him again like that.  Our hands are
black enough already; don't you try to make them _red_, else I'll blab!"

The elder woman assumed an injured look as she said, "Who spoke of
makin' them red?  Evil dreaders are evil doers.  Is there no way o'
puttin' a chick out o' the way besides murderin' him?"

"Hush!" exclaimed the man, starting and glancing round with a guilty
look, as if he fancied the bare mention of the word "murder" would bring
the strong arm of the law down on his head.

"I won't hush!" cried the woman.  "You're cowards, both of you.  Are
there no corries in the hills to hide him in--no ropes to tie him with--
that you should find it so difficult to keep a brat quiet for a week or
two?"

A gleam of intelligence shot across the ill-favoured face of the gypsy.

"Ha! you're a wise woman.  Come, out with your plan, and see if I'm not
game to do it."

"There's no plan worth speakin' of," rejoined the woman, somewhat
mollified by her companion's complimentary remarks.  "All you've to do
is to go down the road to-morrow, catch him, and bring him to me.  I'll
see to it that he don't make his voice heard until we've done with this
part of the country.  Then we can slip the knot, and let the brat go
free."

"I'll do it!" said the man, sitting down on a stone and beginning to
fill his pipe.

"I thought he was dead!" said the woman.

"So did I; but he's not dead yet, an' don't look as if he'd die soon."

"Maybe," said the woman, "he won't remember ye.  It's full five year now
sin' he was took away."

"Won't he?" retorted the man, with an angry look, which did not tend to
improve his disagreeable visage.  "Hah!  I heerd him say he'd know me if
he saw me in a crowd o' ten thousand.  I would ha' throttled the cub
then and there, but the place was too public."

A short silence ensued, during which the gypsies ate their food with the
zest of half-starved wolves.

"You'd better go down and see old Moggy," suggested the woman, when the
man had finished his repast and resumed his pipe.  "If the brat escapes
you to-morrow, it may be as well to let the old jade know that you'll
murder both him and her, if he dares to blab."

The man shook his head.  "No use!" said he.  But the woman repeated her
advice in a tone that was equivalent to a command, so the man rose up
sulkily and went.

He was not a little surprised, on drawing near to the hut, to find it in
a state of bustle, and apparently in possession of the Sudberrys.  Not
daring to show himself; he slunk back to his encampment, and informed
his female companion of what he had seen.

"All the more reason to make sure work of him on the road to-morrow!"
said she, with a dark frown.

"So I mean to!" replied the man doggedly.  With these amiable sentiments
and intentions animating their breasts, this pair crept into their booth
and went to rest in the bosom of their family.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 20.

MYSTERIOUS MATTERS--A HAPPY RETURN, ETCETERA.

The morning which followed the events narrated in the last chapter broke
with unclouded splendour.  It was the second of the four bright days
which relieved the monotony of those six dreary weeks of rain.

Rejoicing in the glorious aspect of earth and sky, and in the fresh
scents which the rain had called forth from every shrub and flower on
the mountains, Mr Sudberry dashed about the White House--in and out--
awaiting the assembling of the family to breakfast with great
impatience.  His coat-tails that morning proved the means of
annihilating the sugar-basin--the last of the set which had graced the
board on his arrival in the Highlands, and which had been left, for some
time past, "blooming alone," all its former companions having been
shattered and gone long ago.

According to custom, Mr Sudberry went forward to the barometrical
banjo, intending to tap it--not that he expected correct information
_now_.  No; he had found out its falsehood, and was prepared to smile at
anything it should say.  He opened his eyes, however, and exclaimed
"Hallo!" with unwonted energy, on observing that, as if in sheer
defiance of the weather, of truth, and of public opinion, its index
aimed point-blank at "stormy!"

He speedily discovered that this tremendous falsehood was the result of
a careful intestine examination, to which the instrument had been
privately subjected by Master Jacky the evening before; in the course of
which examination the curious boy, standing below the barometer, did,
after much trouble, manage to cut the bulb which held the mercury.  That
volatile metal, being set free, at once leaped into its liberator's
bosom, and gushed down between his body and his clothes to the floor!

"I'll thrash him to within an inch--"

Mr Sudberry clinched his teeth and his fists, and burst out of the
room, (it was at this moment that the last of the set became "faded and
gone"), and rushed towards the nursery.  "No, I won't," he muttered,
suddenly wheeling round on his heel and returning slowly to the parlour.
"I'll say nothing whatever about it."  And Mr Sudberry kept his word--
Jacky never heard of it from that day to this!

Seizing the opportunity of the fine day, Mr Sudberry and George went
out to fish.  They fished with worm now, the streams being too much
swollen for fly.

Meanwhile, Master Jacky sauntered down alone, in a most free-and-easy
independent manner, to visit old Moggy, who was thought to be in a dying
state--at least the doctor said so, and it was to be presumed that he
was right.

Jacky had regularly constituted himself sick nurse to the old woman.
Despite the entreaties of Flora and his sister, who feared that the
disease might be infectious, he could not be prevailed on to remain
away.  His nursing did not, indeed, consist in doing much that was
useful.  He confined himself chiefly to playing on the river-banks near
the hut, and to making occasional inquiries as to how the patient was
getting on.  Sometimes he also assisted Flora in holding sundry cups,
and glasses, and medicine bottles, and when Flora was away he amused
himself by playing practical jokes on the young woman who had
volunteered to act as regular nurse to the old invalid.

Towards the afternoon, Jacky put his hands behind his back--he would
have put them under his coat-tails if he had had any, for he was very
old-mannish in his tendencies--and sauntered down the road towards the
pass.  At this same time it chanced that another little boy, more than
twice Jacky's age, was walking smartly along the same road towards the
same pass from the other side of it.  There were as yet several miles
between the two boys, but the pace at which the elder walked bid fair to
bring them face to face within an hour.  The boy whom we now introduce
was evidently a sailor.  He wore blue trousers, a blue vest with little
brass buttons, a blue jacket with bigger brass buttons, and a blue cap
with a brass button on either side--each brass button, on coat, cap, and
vest, having an anchor of, (apparently), burnished gold in the centre of
it.  He had clear blue eyes, brown curly hair, and an easy, offhand
swagger, which last was the result of a sea-faring life and example; but
he had a kindly and happy, rather than a boastful or self-satisfied,
expression of face, as he bowled along with his hands in his pockets,
kicking all the stones out of his way, and whistling furiously.
Sometimes he burst into a song, and once or twice he laughed, smote his
thigh, and cheered, but never for a moment did he slacken his pace,
although he had walked many a mile that day.

Curiously enough, at this same time, a man was crouching behind some
bushes in the centre of the pass towards which these two boys were
approaching.  This man had a pair of grey eyes which might have been
beautiful had they not been small and ferocious-looking, and a nose
which might have been aquiline had the bridge not been broken, and a
head of shaggy hair which might have been elegant had it been combed,
oiled, curled, and dyed, and a general appearance which might have been
prepossessing had it not been that of a thorough blackguard.  This
lovely specimen of humanity sat down on a rock, and waited, and
fidgeted; and the expression of his sweet face betrayed, from time to
time, that he was impatient, and anything but easy in his mind.

As Jack walked very leisurely and stopped frequently to play, his
progress towards the pass was slow, and as our waiting friend, whom the
reader no doubt recognises as the gypsy, could not see far along the
road in that direction, he was not aware of his approach.  On the other
hand, the sailor-boy came on fast, and the road was so open and straight
in that direction that the gypsy saw him when he was far enough away to
seem like a mere blue spot in the distance.

Presently he gained the entrance to the pass and began the ascent, which
was gradual, with a riotous windlass song, in which the sentiments, yo!
heave! and ho! were most frequently expressed.  As he drew near, the
gypsy might have been observed to grin a smile that would have been
quite captivating but for some obstinate peculiarity about the muscles
of the mouth which rendered it very repulsive.

Next moment the sailor-boy was abreast of him.  The moment after that
the bushes parted, and the gypsy confronted his victim, cutting a
tremendous "heave!" short in the middle, and converting the "ho!" that
should have followed, into a prolonged whistle of astonishment.

"Hah! my lad, you remember me, it seems?"

"Remember you?  Yes, I just do!" answered the boy, in whose countenance
every trace of boyishness was instantly swallowed up in an intense gaze
of manly determination.

This mute but meaning glance had such a strange effect upon the gypsy
that he actually cowered for a moment, and looked as if he were afraid
he was going to "catch it."  However, he forced a laugh and said--

"Come, Billy, you needn't look so cross.  You know I was hard put to it
w'en I sent you aboord the `Fair Nancy,' and you shouldn't ought to owe
me a grudge for puttin' ye in the way o' makin' yer fortin'."

The man kept edging towards the boy as he spoke, but the boy observed
this and kept edging away, regarding the man with compressed lips and
dilated eyes, but not vouchsafing a word in reply.

"I say, Billy, it's unkind, you know, to forget old times like this.  I
want to shake hands; and there's my old woman up on the hill as wants to
see you again."

Suddenly the fierce look left the boy's face, and was replaced by a
wild, waggish expression.

"Oh! your old woman wants to see me, does she?  And you want to shake
hands, do you?  Now look here, Growler; I see through you!  You thought
to catch a flat, and you'll find you've caught a tartar; or, rather,
that the tartar has caught _you_.  But I've grown merciful since I went
to sea," (the lad tucked-up his wristbands at this point, as if he
really meditated a hand-to-hand encounter with his huge antagonist).  "I
_do_ remember old times, and I know how richly you deserve to be hanged;
but I don't want to mix up my home-coming, if I can help it, with dirty
work.  Now, I'll tell you what--I'll give you your choice o' two
courses.  Either take yourself off and be out o' hail of this part of
the country within twelve hours, or walk with me to the nearest police
station and give yourself up.  There--I'll give you exactly two minutes
to think over it."

The youthful salt here pulled out an enormous double-case silver watch
with an air of perfect nonchalance, and awaited the result.  For a few
seconds the gypsy was overwhelmed by the lad's coolness; then he burst
into a gruff laugh and rushed at him.  He might as well have run at a
squirrel.  The boy sprang to one side, crossed the road at a bound, and,
still holding the watch, said--

"Half a minute gone!"

Again the man rushed at his small opponent with similar result, and a
cool remark, that another half minute was gone.  This so exasperated the
gypsy, that he ran wildly after the boy for half a minute, but the
latter was as active as a kitten, and could not be caught.

"Time's up; two minutes and a quarter; so don't say that I'm not
merciful.  Now, follow me to the constable."

So saying, Billy, as the man had called him, turned his back towards the
pass, and ran off at full speed towards the village.  The gypsy followed
him at once, feeling that his only chance lay in capturing the boy; but
so artfully did Billy hang back and allow his pursuer to come close up,
that he had almost succeeded in enticing him into the village, when the
man became suddenly aware of his folly, and stopped.  Billy stopped too.

"What! you're not game to come on?"

The man shook his fist, and, turning his face towards the pass, ran back
towards his booth in the hills, intending to take the boy's first piece
of advice, and quit that part of the country.  But Billy had no idea of
letting him off thus.  He now became the pursuer.  However fast the
gypsy ran, the sailor-lad kept up with him.  If the man halted, as he
frequently did in a breathless condition, and tried to gain over his
adversary, Billy also stopped, said he was in no hurry, thrust his hands
into his jacket pockets, and began to whistle.  Thus he kept him in view
until they once more stood in the pass.  Here the man sat down on a
large stone, thoroughly exhausted.  The boy sat down on another stone
opposite to him, looking quite fresh and jolly.  Five years of hearty
devotion to a noble calling had prepared the muscles of the little
sailor for that day's exercise.  The same number of years spent in
debauchery and crime had _not_ prepared the vagabond giant for that
day's work.

"What has brought you back?" said Growler, savagely.

"To see the old granny whom you stole me from," replied the boy.  "Also,
to have the satisfaction of puttin' you in limbo; although I did not
expect to have this pleasure."

"Ha! ha!" laughed Growler, sarcastically, "you'll fail in both.  It's
not so easy to put me in limbo as you think--and your grandmother is
dyin'."

"That's false!" cried Billy, springing half way across the road and
shaking his little fist at his enemy--"you know it is.  The landlord of
the `Blue Boar' told me he saw her at church strong and well last
Sunday."

"She's dyin', however, may be _dead_," said the man, with a sneer so
full of triumph, that it struck a chill to the heart of the poor boy.

Just at that moment, Jacky Sudberry turned slowly round a sharp angle of
the road, and stood there transfixed, with his eyes like two saucers,
and his mouth as round as an o.

The sight of this intruder distracted Billy's attention for a moment.
Growler at once bounded over the low wall and dived into the underwood.
Billy hesitated to follow him, for the last piece of information weighed
heavily on his mind.  That moment's hesitation was sufficient for the
gypsy to make good his retreat.  Although Billy leaped the wall the next
moment, and darted hither and thither through the copse, he failed to
catch sight of him again, and finally returned to the road, where he
found Jacky seated on a stone, pondering in a state of bewilderment on
what he had seen.

"Well, my boy, how goes it?" cried the sailor heartily, as he came
forward, wiping his heated brow with a blue spotted cotton handkerchief.

"All right!" was Jacky's prompt reply.  "I say, was you fightin' with
that man?"

"Ay, that was I, and I've not done with him yet."

Jacky breathed hard and looked upon the young sailor-lad with a deep
reverential awe, feeling that he was in the presence of a real Jack the
Giant-killer.

"He runn'd away!" said Jacky in amazement.  "Did you hit him hard?"

"Not with my fists; they ain't big enough for that yet.  We've only had
a sparring-match with words and legs."

Jacky glanced at Billy's legs as if he regarded them in the light of
dire engines of destruction.  Indeed, his active mind jumped at once to
the conclusion that the sailor's must be a kicking mode of warfare; but
he was too much amazed to make any rejoinder.

"Now, my boy, I'm going this way, so I'll bid you good-day," said Billy.
Jacky informed him that he was going the same way,--having only been
taking a stroll,--and would willingly go back: whereupon Billy put his
arm round his shoulder, as boys are wont to do, and Jacky grasped Billy
round the waist, and thus they wandered home together.

"I say, you're a funny chap," observed the young sailor, in a comic
vein, as they went along.

"So are you," replied Jacky, with intense gravity, being deeply serious.

Billy laughed; but as the two friends at that moment emerged from the
pass and came in sight of the White House, the laugh was suddenly
checked, and was followed by a sound that was not unlike choking.  Jacky
looked up in alarm, and was surprised to see tears hopping over his
companion's brown cheeks.  To find a lad who could put a giant to flight
was wonderful enough, but to find one who could cry without any reason
at all was beyond belief.  Jacky looked perplexed and said, "I say,
what's the matter?"

"Oh! nothing; only this is my old home, and my scrimmage with that
villain has made me come plump on it without thinkin'.  I was born here.
I know every stone and bush.  I--I--there's the old--"

He choked again at this point, and Jacky, whose mind was only opening,
stood looking on in silent wonder.

"My old granny lives here; old Moggy--"

The expression of Jacky's face caused Billy to stop.

"Why, what's wrong, boy?"

"Is--is--o-old Moggy _your_ granny?" cried Jacky, eagerly, stumbling
over his words as if he had come upon stepping-stones in the dark.

"Ay; what then?"

"Eh!  _I_ know her."

"Do you, my boy?"

"Ye-yes; sh-she's dyin'!"

The result of this remark was that the sailor-boy turned deadly pale,
and stared at his little friend without being able to utter a word.
Mere human nature taught Jacky that he had made a mistake in being so
precipitate: but home education had not taught him to consider the
feelings of others.  He felt inclined to comfort his new friend, but
knew not how to do it.  At last a happy thought occurred to him, and he
exclaimed eagerly--

"B-but _sh-she's not dead yet_!"

"Does she live in the same cottage?" asked the boy, in a low, husky
voice, not considering that his companion could not know what cottage
she had occupied in former days.  Jacky, also ignoring this fact, nodded
his head violently, being past speech with excitement, and pointed in
the direction of the hut.

Without another word, Billy, (more correctly speaking, Willie), at once
took to his heels, and was followed by Jacky as fast as his short legs
could carry him.

Flora Macdonald was administering a glass of hot wine and water to her
patient, when the door was quickly, yet gently, opened, and a sailor-lad
sprang into the room, fell on his knees beside the lowly couch, seized
the old woman's hand, gazed for a few seconds into her withered face,
and then murmuring, "Granny, it's me," laid his head on her shoulder and
burst into tears.

Flora gently drew the boy away.

"Willie, is it possible; can it be you?"

"Is she dyin'?" said Willie, looking up in Flora's face with an
expression of agony.

"I trust not, dear boy; but the doctor says she is very ill, and must be
kept quiet."

"Hoot, awa' wi' the doctor!  He's wrang," cried old Moggy, suddenly
raising herself with great energy on one elbow; "don't I see my ain
Willie there, as I've seen him in my dreams mony and mony a night?"
(Flora grasped Willie's arm to prevent his running towards her, and
pointed to Jacky, who had at that moment entered the room, and was at
once recognised by Moggy.) "Ay, little did I think when I said yestreen,
`Thy wull be done,' that He wad send my ain laddie back again!"

She folded Jacky, who had gone to the bedside, in her arms, and was with
difficulty prevailed on to let him go.  It was quite evident that her
mind was wandering.

The effect of this little episode on Willie was powerful and twofold.  A
pang of jealousy at first shot through his heart like a flash of
lightning; but when he perceived that the loving embrace was meant for
his old self he broke down, and the tears once more tumbled over his
brown cheeks.

"She cannot recognise you just now, dear Willie," said Flora, deeply
touched by the sorrow of the lad; "and, even if she could, I fear it
would do her harm by exciting her too much.  Come, my poor fellow,"
(leading him softly to the door), "I am just going up to visit a kind
English family, where they will be only too glad to put you up until it
is safe to let her know that you have returned."

"But she may die, and never know that I have returned," said Willie,
almost passionately, as he hung back.

"She is in God's loving hands, Willie."

"Can I not stay and help you to nurse her?" asked the boy, in pitiful
tones.

Flora shook her head, and Willie meekly suffered himself to be led out
of the hut.

This, then, was the home-coming that he had longed for so intensely;
that he had dreamed of so often when far away upon the sea!  No sooner
was he in the open air than he burst away from Flora without a word, and
ran off at full speed in the direction of the pass.  At first he simply
sought to obtain relief to his feelings by means of violent muscular
exercise.  The burning brain and throbbing heart were unbearable.  He
would have given the world for the tears that flowed so easily a short
time before; but they would not now come.  Running, leaping, bounding
madly over the rough hill-side--_that_ gave him some relief; so he held
on, through bush and brake, over heathery knoll and peat swamp, until
the hut was far behind him.

Suddenly his encounter with the gypsy occurred to him.  The thought that
he was the original cause of all this misery roused a torrent of
indignation within him, and he resolved that the man should not escape.
His wild race was no longer without purpose now.  He no longer sprang
into the air and bounded from rock to rock like a wild goat, but,
coursing down the bed of a mountain-torrent, came out upon the road, and
did not halt until he was in front of the constabulary station.

"Hallo! laddie, what's wrang?" inquired a blue-coated official, whose
language betokened him a Lowland Scot.

"I've seen him; come with me--quick!  I'll take you to his whereabouts,"
gasped Willie.

"Seen whae?" inquired the man, with slow deliberation.

"The gypsy, Growler, who stole me, and would have murdered me this
morning if he could have caught me; but quick, please!  He'll get off if
you don't look alive!"

The earnestness and fervour of the lad had the effect of exciting even
the constable's phlegmatic nature; so, after a short conversation, he
summoned a comrade, and set off for the pass at a round trot, led by
Willie.

"D'ye think it's likely he'll ken ye've come here to tell on him?"
inquired the constable, as they ran.

"I said I would have him nabbed," replied the boy.

"Hoot! mon; that was na wise-like.  But after a' ye're ony a bairn.
Here, Tam, ye'd better gang up by the Stank burn an' keep a look-oot
ower the hills, an' I'll start him."

Thus advised, the second constable diverged to the right, and, plunging
into the copsewood, was instantly out of sight.

Soon afterwards, Willie came to the place where he had met the gypsy.
Here a consultation was held as to where the booth might probably be.

"He jumped over the wall here," said Willie, "and I'm sure he took the
hill in this direction at _first_."

"Ay, laddie; but chiels o' his stamp never gang straight to their mark.
We'll follow him up _this_ way.  Hoe long is't sin' ye perted wi' him,
said ee?" examining the place where the gypsy had entered the copse.

Willie returned no answer.  The unusual amount of fatigue and the
terrible mental excitement which he had undergone that day were too much
for him.  A feeling of deadly sickness came suddenly on him, and when
the constable looked round he was lying on the road in a swoon.

This unexpected incident compelled the man to abandon further pursuit
for the time.  Giving utterance to a "puir laddie," he raised the boy in
his arms and carried him to the nearest hut, which happened to be that
of old Moggy!  No one was there but the young woman who acted as nurse
to the invalid.  It chanced that Moggy had had a sleep, and she awoke
with her mental faculties much cleared, when the constable entered and
laid Willie on a mat not far from her bed.

The old woman gazed long and earnestly in the boy's face, and seemed
much troubled and perplexed while the nurse applied water to his
temples.  At last Willie opened his eyes.  Moggy at once recognised him.
She strove eagerly to reach her long-lost child, and Willie, jumping
up, sprang to her side; but ere they met she raised both arms in the
air, and, uttering a long piercing cry, fell back insensible upon the
bed.



STORY ONE, CHAPTER 21.

THE END.

Rain, rain, rain; continual, pertinacious, unmitigated rain!  The White
House was no longer white, it was grey.  Things were no longer damp,
they were totally flooded.  Mr McAllister's principal hay-field was a
pond--every ditch was a rivulet; "the burn" was a destructive cataract;
the white torrents that raged down the mountains everywhere, far and
near, looked like veins of quartz, and the river had become a lake with
a strong current in the middle of it.  There was no sunshine now in the
Highlands,--not a gleam!

Nevertheless there was sunshine in the hearts of some who sojourned
there.  Mr Sudberry had found out that he could fish just as well in
wet weather as in dry, and that the fish were more eager to be caught.
That was sunshine enough for him!  Lucy found a new and engrossing
amusement, of a semi-scientific kind, in laying down and pressing her
botanical specimens, and writing Latin names under the same, being
advised thereto and superintended by Hector Macdonald.  That was
sunshine enough for her, and for him too apparently, for he came every
day to help her, (and she declared she could not get on without help),
and it was quite wonderful to observe how very slowly the laying-down
progressed, although both of the semi-philosophers were intensely
interested in their work.  Flora was so sunny by nature that she
lightened up the place around her wherever she went; she was thus in
some measure independent of the sun.  George was heard to say more than
once that her face was as good as a sunbeam any day!  Mrs Sudberry,
poor woman, was so rampantly triumphant in the total discomfiture of her
husband touching the weather, that she resigned herself to Highland
miseries in a species of happy contentment, and thus lived in what may
be likened to a species of mild moonshine of her own.  Tilly, poor,
delicate, unobtrusive Tilly, was at all times satisfied to bask in the
moonlight of her mother's countenance.  As for Jacky--that arch-imp
discovered that wet weather usually brought his victims within doors,
and therefore kept them constantly within reach of his dreadful
influence.  He was supremely happy--"darling child."  Fred finished up
his sketches--need we say that that was sunshine to him?  The servants
too shared in the general felicity.  Indeed, they may, in a sense, be
said to have been happier than those they served, for, having been
transported to that region to _work_, they found the little bits of fun
and amusement that fell to their lot all the more pleasant and
enjoyable, that they were unexpected, and formed a piquant contrast to
the monotonous routine of daily duty.

But the brightest blaze of internal sunshine--the most effulgent and
dazzling beams of light were shed forth in the lowly hut of Jacky's
particular friend.  Old Moggy did _not_ die after all!  To the total
discomfiture of the parish doctor, and to the reflected discredit of the
medical profession generally, that obstinate old creature got well in
spite of the emphatic assurances of her medical adviser that recovery
was impossible.  The doctor happened to be a misanthrope.  He was not
aware that in the _Materia Medica_ of Nature's laboratory there is a
substance called "joy," which sometimes effects a cure when all else
fails--or, if he did know of this medicine, he probably regarded it as a
quack nostrum.

At all events this substance cured old Moggy, as Willie said, "in less
than no time."  She took such deep draughts of it, that she quite
surprised her old friends.  So did Willie himself.  In fact, these two
absolutely took to tippling together on this medicine.  More than that,
Jacky joined them, and seemed to imbibe a good deal--chiefly through his
eyes, which were always very wide open and watchful when he was in the
old hut.  He drank to them only with his eyes and ears, and could not be
induced to enter into conversation much farther than to the extent of
yes and no.  Not that he was shy--by _no_ means!  The truth was that
Jacky was being opened up--mentally.  The new medicine was exercising an
unconscious but powerful influence on his sagacious spirit.  In addition
to that he was fascinated by Willie--for the matter of that, so was old
Moggy--for did not that small sailor-boy sing, and laugh, and talk to
them for hours about sights and scenes of foreign travel, of which
neither of them had dreamed before?  Of course he did, and caused both
of them to stare with eyes and mouths quite motionless for half-hours at
a time, and then roused them up with a joke that made Jacky laugh till
he cried, and made Moggy, who was always crying more or less, laugh till
she couldn't cry!  Yes, there was very brilliant sunshine in the hut
during that dismal season of rain--there was the sunshine of human love
and sympathy, and Flora was the means of introducing and mingling with
it sunshine of a still brighter and a holier nature, which, while it
intensified the other, rendered it also permanent.

At last the end of the Sudberrys' rustication arrived; the last day of
their sojourn dawned.  It happened to be bright and beautiful--so bright
and lovely that it made one feel as if there never had been a bad day
since the world began, and never would be another bad one to the end of
time.  It was the fourth fine day of the six dreary weeks--the third,
which occurred some days before, was only half-and-half; and therefore
unworthy of special notice.  Nevertheless, the Sudberrys felt sad.  They
were _going away_!  The mental sunshine of the rainy season was
beclouded, and the physical sunshine was of no avail to dispel such
clouds.

"My dear," said Mr Sudberry at breakfast that morning, in a very sad
tone, "have you any further use for me?"

"My dear, no," replied his partner, sorrowfully.

From the nature of these remarks and the tone in which they were
uttered, an ignorant spectator might have imagined that Mr Sudberry,
having suspected his wife of growing indifference, and having had his
worst fears confirmed from her own lips, meant to go quietly away to the
river and drown him in a deep pool with a strong eddy, so that he might
run no chance of being prematurely washed upon a shallow.  But the good
man merely referred to "the packing," in connection with which he had
been his wife's right hand during the last three or four days.

"Well, then, my love, as the heavy baggage has gone on before, and we
are ready to start with the coach, which does not pass until the
afternoon, I will go and take a last cast in the river."

Mrs Sudberry made no objection; so Mr Sudberry, accompanied by George
and Fred, went down to the "dear old river," as they styled it, for the
last time.

Now it must be known, that, some weeks previous to this time, Hobbs had
been allowed by his master to go out for a day's trout-fishing, and
Hobbs, failing to raise a single fin, put on a salmon fly in reckless
desperation.

He happened, by the merest chance, to cast over a deep pool in which
salmon were, (and still are), wont to lie.  To his amazement, a
"_whale_," as he styled it, instantly rose, sent its silvery body half
out of the water, and fell over with a tremendous splash, but missed the
fly.  Hobbs was instantly affected with temporary insanity.  He cast in
violent haste over the same spot, as if he hoped to hook the fish by the
tail before it should get to the bottom.  Again! again! and over again,
but without result.  Then, dancing on the bank with excitement, he
changed the fly; tried every fly in the book; the insanity increasing,
tried two flies at once, back to back; put on a bunch of trout-flies in
addition; wound several worms round all; failed in every attempt to cast
with care; and finished off by breaking the top of the rod, entangling
the line round his legs, and fixing the hooks in his coat-tails; after
which he rushed wildly up to the White House, to tell what he had seen
and show what he had done!

From that day forward Mr Sudberry always commenced his day's sport at
the "Salmon Pool."

As usual, on this his last day, he went down to the salmon pool, but he
had so often fished there in vain, that hope was well-nigh extinguished.
In addition to this, his spirits were depressed, so he gave the rod to
Fred.

Fred was not naturally a fisher, and he only agreed to take the rod
because he saw that his father was indifferent about it.

"Fred, my boy, cast a little farther over, just below yon curl in the
water near the willow bush--ah! that's about the place.  Hobbs declares
that he raised a salmon there; but I can't say I've ever seen one
myself; though I have fished here every other morning for many weeks."

Mr Sudberry had not quite finished speaking when Fred's rod was bent
into the form of a large hoop.

"Hallo! here, father, take it--I don't know what to do."

What a blaze of excitement beamed on the father's countenance!

"Hurrah! hold on, Fred,--no, no, _no_! ease off--he'll break all away."

The caution was just in time.  Fred was holding on like a true Briton.
He suddenly let the rod down and allowed the line to run out, which it
did like lightning.

"What now, father?  Oh! _do_ take it--I shall certainly lose the fish."

"No, no, boy; it is _your_ fish; try to play it out."  No one but the
good man himself knew what a tremendous effort of self-denial Mr
Sudberry made on this occasion.  But Fred felt certain that the fish
would get off.  He also knew that his father would give fifty pounds
down on the spot to land a salmon: so he said firmly, "Father, if you
don't take the rod, I'll throw it down!"

This settled the question.  Father took the rod under protest, and,
having had considerable experience in trout-fishing, began to play the
salmon with really creditable skill, considering the difficulty of the
operation, and the fact that it was his first "big fish."

What varied expression flitted across the countenance of the
enthusiastic sportsman on this great occasion!  He totally forgot
himself and his sons; he forgot even that this was his last day in the
Highlands.  It is an open question whether he did not forget altogether
that he was _in_ the Highlands, so absorbed, so intensely concentrated,
was his mind on that salmon.  George and Fred also became so excited
that they lost all command of themselves, and kept leaping about,
cheering, giving useless advice in eager tones, tripping over stones and
uneven places on the banks, and following their father closely, as the
fish led him up and down the river for full two hours.  They, too,
forgot themselves; they did not know what extraordinary faces they went
on making during the greater part of the time!

Mr Sudberry began the battle by winding up the line, the salmon having
begun to push slowly up stream after its first wild burst.  In a moment
it made a dart towards the opposite bank, so sudden and swift that the
rod was pulled straight, and the line ran out with a whiz of the most
violent description.  Almost simultaneously with the whiz the salmon
leaped its entire length out of the water, gave a tremendous fling in
the air, and came down with a heavy splash!

Fred gasped; George cheered, and Mr Sudberry uttered a roar of
astonishment, mingled with alarm, for the line was slack, and he thought
the fish had broken off.  It was still on, however, as a wild dash down
stream, followed by a spurt up and across, with another fling into the
air, proved beyond a doubt.  The fish was very wild--fortunately it was
well hooked, and the tackle was strong.  What with excitement and the
violent action that ensued at each rush, Mr Sudberry was so dreadfully
blown in the first minutes, that he trembled from head to foot, and
could scarce wind up the line.  For one moment the thought occurred that
he was too old to become a salmon-fisher, and that he would not be able
to fight the battle out.  He was quite mistaken.  Every minute after
this he seemed to gain fresh strength.  The salmon happily took it into
his head to cease its antics for half a minute, just when the fisher was
at his worst.  That half-minute of breathing-space was all that was
wanted.

"Geo'ge--hah!--cut--wata!"

George could not make out what his agitated parent wanted.

"Water! water!--chokin'!" reiterated his father.

"Oh, all right!"  George scooped up a quantity of water in a leathern
cup, and ran with it to his choking sire, who, holding the rod tight
with both hands, turned his head aside and stretched over his left arm,
still, however, keeping his eyes fixed on the line.

"Here, up with't lips."

The lips were projected, and George raised the cup to them, but the
salmon moved at the moment, and the draught was postponed.  The fish
came to another pause soon after.

"Now, Geo'ge, try 'gain."

Once more the lips were projected, once again the cup was raised, but
that salmon seemed to know what was going on, for, just as the cup and
the lips met, it went off in an unusually fierce run down the river.
The cup and its contents were knocked into George's face, and George
himself was knocked over by his father as he sprang down the bank, and
ran along a dry patch of gravel, which extended to the tail of the pool.

Hitherto the battle had been fought within the limits of one large pool,
which the fish seemed to have an objection to quit.  It now changed its
tactics, and began to descend the river tail foremost, slowly, but
steadily.  The round face of the fisher, which had all this time been
blazing red with eager hope, was now beclouded with a shade of anxiety.

"Don't let him go down the rapids, father," said George; "you'll never
get past the thick bushes that overhang the bank."

Mr Sudberry stopped, and held on till the rod bent like a giant hoop
and the line became rigid; but the fish was not to be checked.  Its
retrograde movement was slow, but steady and irresistible.

"You'll smash everything!" cried Fred.  Mr Sudberry was constrained to
follow, step by step.  The head of the rapid was gained, and he had to
increase the pace to a quick walk; still farther down, and the walk
became a smart run.  The ground here was more rugged, and the fisher's
actions became quite acrobatic.  George and Fred kept higher up the
bank, and ran along, gazing in unspeakable amazement at the bounds and
leaps which their fat little sire made with the agility of a roe deer.

"Hold on! the bushes! let it break off!"

Mr Sudberry scorned the advice.  The part of the bank before him was
impassable; not so the river, which rushed past him like a mill-race.
He tried once more to stop the fish; failed, of course, and deliberately
walked into the water.  It was waist-deep, so he was carried down like a
cork with his toes touching the ground so lightly, that, for the first
time in his life, he rejoiced in those sensations, which he had hitherto
believed belonged exclusively to harlequins and columbines; namely,
swift motion without effort!  Fifty yards at the rate of ten miles an
hour brought him to an eddy, into which the salmon had dashed just
before him.  Mr Sudberry gave vent to another roar as he beheld the
fish almost under his nose.  The startled creature at once flashed out
of his sight, and swept up, down, and across the stream several times,
besides throwing one or two somersaults in the air, before it recovered
its equanimity.  After this it bolted into a deep, dark pool, and
remained there quite motionless.

Mr Sudberry was much puzzled at this point.  To let out line when the
fish ran up or across stream, to wind in when the fish stopped, and to
follow when the fish went down stream--these principles he had been
taught by experience in trout-fishing; but how to act when a fish would
not move, and could not be made to move, was a lesson which he had yet
to learn.

"What's to be done?" said he, with a look of exasperation, (and no
wonder; he had experienced an hour and a quarter of very rough
treatment, and was getting fagged).

"Pull him out of that hole," suggested George.

"I can't."

"Try."

Mr Sudberry tried and failed.  Having failed he sat down on a stone,
still holding the rod very tight, and wiped his heated brow.  Then,
starting up, he tried for the next ten minutes to pull the fish out of
the hole by main force, of course never venturing to pull so hard as to
break the line.  He went up the stream and pulled, down the stream and
pulled, he even waded across the stream at a shallow part and pulled,
but all in vain.  The fish was in that condition which fishers term "the
sulks."

At last Fred recollected to have heard Hector Macdonald say that in such
cases a stone thrown into the pool sometimes had the effect of starting
the sulky one.  Accordingly a stone was thrown in, and the result was
that the fish came out at full speed in a horrible fright, and went down
stream, not _tail_ but _head_ foremost.  Now, when a salmon does this,
he knows by instinct that if he does not go down _faster_ than the
stream the water will force itself into his gills and drown him;
therefore when he goes down head first, (which he seldom does, except
when on his way to the sea), he goes at full speed, and the fisher's
only chance of saving his fish is to run after him as fast as he can, in
the hope that he may pause of his own accord in some opportune eddy.

A fine open space of bank enabled Mr Sudberry to run like a deer after
his fish for nigh a quarter of a mile, but, at the end of this burst, he
drew near to "the falls"--a succession of small cataracts and rapids
which it seemed impossible for any fisher to go down without breaking
his neck and losing his fish.  George and Fred roared, "Hold on!"  Mr
Sudberry glanced at the falls, frowned, and compressed his lips.  He
felt that he was "in for it;" he resolved not to be beat, so on he went!
The fish went right down the first fall; the fisher leaped over a ledge
of rock three feet high, scrambled across some rough ground, and pulled
up at an eddy where the fish seemed disposed to rest.  He was gratified
here by seeing the fish turn up the white of his side--thus showing
symptoms of exhaustion.  But he recovered, and went over another fall.

Here he stopped again, and George and Fred, feeling convinced that their
father had gone mad, threw off their coats and ran to the foot of the
fall, ready to plunge into the stream and rescue him from the fate which
they thought they saw impending.  No such fate awaited the daring man.
He succeeded in drawing the fish close to a gravelly shallow, where it
gave an exhausted wallop or two, and lay over on its side.  George came
up, and leaping into the water tried to kick it out.  He missed his kick
and fell.  Fred dashed in, and also missed.  Mr Sudberry rushed forward
and gave the salmon such a kick that he sent it high and dry on the
bank!  But in doing so he fell over George and tripped up Fred, so that
all three were instantly soaked to the skin, and returned to the bank
without their hats.  Mr Sudberry flung himself on the conquered fish
and held it fast, while George and Fred cheered and danced round him in
triumphant joy.

Thus Mr Sudberry landed his first and last salmon--a ten-pounder--and
thus, brilliantly, terminated his three-months' rustication in the
Highlands.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

But this was not the end of the whole affair--by no means.  Mr Sudberry
and family returned to London, and they took that salmon with them.  A
dinner-party of choice friends was hastily got up to do honour to the
superb fish, and on that occasion Fred and his father well-nigh
quarrelled on the point of, "who caught the salmon!"  Mr Sudberry
insisting that the man who hooked the fish was the real catcher of it,
and Fred scouting the ridiculous notion, and asserting that he who
played and landed it was entitled to all the honour.  The point was
settled, however, in some incomprehensible way, without the self-denying
disputants coming to blows; and everyone agreed that it was, out of
sight, the best salmon that had ever been eaten in London.  Certainly,
it was one of the merriest parties that ever ate a salmon, for Mr
Sudberry's choice friends were of an uncommonly genial stamp.  Jones,
the head clerk, (the man with the red nose and humble aspect), was
there, and so brilliant was Mr Sudberry that Jones was observed to
smile!--the first instance on record of his having given way to levity
of demeanour.  Lady Knownothing was there too, and before the evening
was over she knew a few things that surprised but did not in the least
convince her.  Oh, no! she knew everything so thoroughly that there was
no possibility on earth of increasing _her_ stock of knowledge!  Truly
it was a happy party, and Mr Sudberry enjoyed himself so much that he
volunteered the Highland fling in the drawing-room--George whistling the
music--on which occasion he, (Mr Sudberry), swept nearly half the
tea-service off the table with his coat-tails, and Mrs Sudberry was so
happy that she didn't care a button--and said so!

But this was not the end of it yet, by any means.  That winter Hector
and Flora Macdonald visited London and were received by the Sudberrys
with open arms.  The result was that Lucy became intensely botanical in
her tastes, and routed out the old plants.  Of course Hector could not
do less than assist her, and the finale was, that these two scientific
individuals were married, and dwelt for many years thereafter in the
Highlands.  Strange to say, George and Flora fell in love with each--But
why say more?  We do not mean to write the history of these two
families.  It is enough to say, that every summer, for many years after
that, the Sudberrys spent two or three months in the Highlands with the
Macdonalds, and every winter the Macdonalds spent a similar period with
the Sudberrys.  On the former of these occasions Fred renewed his
intercourse with Mr McAllister, and these two became so profoundly,
inconceivably, deep and metaphysical, besides theological, in their
converse, that they were utterly incomprehensible to everyone except
themselves.

Best of all, Jacky became a good boy!  Yes; that day on the hills with
Peter was the beginning of it--old Moggy, Willie, and Flora, were the
continuation of it--and Jacky became good, to the unspeakable joy of his
mother.

Old Moggy lived to a fabulous age, and became at last as wrinkled as a
red herring.  For all we know to the contrary, she may be alive yet.
Willie lived with her, and became a cultivator of the soil.  But why go
on?  Enough has been said to show that no ill befell any individual
mentioned in our tale.  Even Mrs Brown lived to a good old age, and was
a female dragon to the last.  Enough has also been said to prove, that,
as the old song has it, "we little know what great things from little
things may rise."



STORY TWO, CHAPTER 1.

WHY I DID NOT BECOME A SAILOR.

There is mystery connected with the incidents which I am about to
relate.  Looked at from one point of view, the whole affair is
mysterious--eminently so; yet, regarded from another point of view, it
is not so mysterious as it seems.  Whatever my reader may think about it
as he goes along, I entreat him to suspend his judgment until he has
reached the conclusion of my narrative.  My only reason for bringing
this mysterious matter before the public is, that, in addition to
filling me with unutterable surprise, it had the effect of quenching one
of my strongest desires, and effectually prevented my becoming a sailor.

This, I freely admit, is not in itself a sufficient reason to justify my
rushing into print.  But when I regard the matter from what may be
termed a negative point of view, I do feel that it is not absolutely
presumptuous in me to claim public attention.  Suppose that Sir John
Franklin had never gone to sea; what a life of adventure and discovery
would have been lost to the world! what deeds of heroism undone, and,
therefore, untold!  I venture to think, that if that great navigator had
not gone to sea, it would have been a matter of interest, (knowing what
we now know), to have been told that such was the case.  In this view of
the matter I repeat it, as being of possible future interest, that the
incident I am about to relate prevented my becoming a sailor.

I am said to be a soft boy--that is to say, I _was_ said to be soft.
I'm a man now, but, of course, I was a boy once.  I merely mention this
to prove that I make no pretension whatever to unusual wisdom; quite the
reverse.  I hate sailing under false colours--not that I ever did sail
under any colours, never having become a sailor--and yet I shouldn't say
that, either, for that's the very point round which all the mystery
hangs.  I _did_ go to sea!  I'm rather apt to wander, I find, from my
point, and to confuse my own mind, (I trust not the reader's).  Perhaps
the shortest way to let you understand how it was is to tell you all
about it.

My name is Robert Smith--not an unusual name, I am given to understand.
It was of little use to me during the period of my boyhood, for I never
got any other name than Bob--sometimes _soft_ was added.  I had a
father.  He loved me.  As a natural consequence, I loved him.  He was
old, partially bald, silver-haired, kind, affectionate, good, five feet
six, and wore spectacles.  I, at the time I write of; was young, stout,
well-grown, active, and had a long nose--much too long a nose: it was
the only point in regard to which I was sensitive.  It was owing to the
length of this member, I believe, that I once went by the name of
Mozambique.  You see, I conceal nothing.  The remarkable--the
mysterious--the every way astonishing incidents I am about to relate,
require that I should be more than usually careful and particular in
stating things precisely as I saw them and understood them at the time.

In this view of the matter I should remark that the softness with which
I was charged did not refer to my muscles--they were hard and well
developed--but to my intellect.  I take this opportunity of stating that
I think the charge unjust.  But, to conclude my description of myself; I
am romantic.  One of my dearest companions used to say that my nose was
the same, minus the tic!  What he meant by that I never could make out.
I doubt if he himself knew.

My chief delight in my leisure hours was to retire to my bedroom and
immerse myself in books of travel and adventure.  This was my mania.  No
one can conceive the delight I experienced in following heroes of every
name over the pathless deep and through the trackless forests of every
clime.  My heart swelled within me, and the blood rushed through my
veins like liquid fire, as I read of chasing lions, tigers, elephants,
in Africa; white bears and walrus in the Polar regions; and deer and
bisons on the American prairies.  I struggled long to suppress the flame
that consumed me, but I could not.  It grew hotter and hotter.  At last,
it burst forth--and this brings me to the point.

I thought--one dark, dismal night in the middle of November--I thought,
(mind, I don't say I determined; no, but I thought), of running away
from home and going to sea!

I confess it with shame.  The image of my dear father rose before me
with a kind and sorrowful look.  I repented; started to my feet, and
seized the book I was reading with the intention of tossing it into the
fire.  In doing so, I accidentally turned over a leaf.  There was an
illustration on the page.  I looked at it.  An African savage firing the
whole contents of a six-barrelled revolver down the throat of a Bengal
tiger, without, apparently, doing it any harm!  I thought not of the
incongruous combination.  My soul was fired anew.  Once again I thought
of running away from home and going to sea--not by any means with the
intention of remaining at sea, but for the purpose of reaching foreign--
if possible--unknown lands.

Having conceived the thought, I rose calmly, shut the book carefully,
but with decision, thrust my hands firmly into my pockets, knitted my
brows, and went out in search of my bosom friend John Brown--also a
commonplace name, I believe--at least, so it is said.

Jack, as I used to call him, had a mother, but no father--his father
died when Jack was an infant.  I've often fancied that there was a
delicate bond of union between us here.  He had a mother, but no father.
I had a father, but no mother.  Strange coincidence!  I think the fact
helped to draw us together.  I may be wrong, but I think so.  Jack was
on a visit to us at the time, so I had only to cross the passage to
reach his room.

"Come in," he cried, as I knocked.

"Jack, come to my room.  It's more comfortable than yours.  I want your
advice."

He rose, in some surprise, and followed me.

If John Brown's name was commonplace, his person was certainly not so.
He looked like a young lord.  He was a noble fellow, by nature if not by
birth.  A clear, sunny face, masculine chin and nose, sweet, firm mouth,
the eye of an eagle, and the soft, curly, golden hair of a child.  Tall,
broad-shouldered, elegant, bold as a lion, gentle and kind as a lamb--
such was my best, my dearest friend, Jack.

"Jack," said I, "I'm going to run away!"

My friend fell into a chair, put both legs straight out, and looked at
me in speechless amazement for a second; then he burst into an
uncontrollable fit of laughter.

"Jack," I repeated, "I'm going to run away."

"You'll do nothing of the sort," said he.

"And," I continued, regardless of his remark, "I mean that you shall run
away with me."

"I'll do nothing of the sort," he replied.  "But come, Bob, my boy,
you're joking.  Surely this is not the object for which you called me
out of my room."

"Indeed it is.  Listen to me, Jack."  (I looked at him impressively.  He
returned the look, for Jack was earnest as well as gay.) "You know that
my dear father positively refused to let me go abroad, although I have
entreated him to do so again and again.  Now I think that's hard, you
know.  I love my dear father very much, but--"

"You love yourself better.  Is that it?"

"Well, put it so if you choose.  I don't care.  I'm going to run away,
and if you won't go with me you can stay at home--that's all."

"Come, come, Bob, don't be cross," said Jack, kindly; "you know you
don't mean it."

"But I do; and I'm sure I don't see what it is that prevents you from
going too," said I, testily.

"H'm! well, there is a small matter, a sort of moral idea, so to speak,
that prevents."

"And what is that?"

"Respect for my mother!  Bob, my boy, I've been too deeply imbued with
that in my babyhood to shake it off now, even if I wished to do so; but
I don't, Bob, I don't.  I'm proud of my mother, and, moreover, I
remember her teachings.  There's one little verse I used to repeat to
her every Sunday night, along with the rest of the ten commandments,
`Honour thy father and thy mother,' etcetera.  It seems to me that
running away is rather flying in the face of that.  Doesn't it strike
you in that light, Bob?"

I was silent.  I felt that I had no argument against such reasoning.
Jack rose.

"It's late, Bob; we are to start on our fishing expedition to-morrow
morning at six, so it behoves us to get into bed.  Good-night! and think
over it!"

I seized his hand and pressed it warmly.

"Good-night, Jack, I will!"



STORY TWO, CHAPTER 2.

My bedroom was a small one, with little furniture in it.  A small iron
stove in the fire-place acted instead of a grate, and as I was
accustomed to read late my father allowed me to light it in cold
weather.  It was blazing cheerfully when Jack left me, and the bright
gleams of ruddy light that darted through the chinks of the door and
fell on the opposite wall, threw the light of my solitary candle quite
into the shade.

I have already remarked that the night was dark and dismal.  In addition
to that, it was stormy.  The wind moaned drearily among the venerable
elms that surrounded our quiet country residence, and ever and anon came
in sharp, fitful gusts that caused the window-frames to rattle, and even
shook the house, at times, to its foundation.  Heavy drops of rain fell
occasionally on the window-panes, and in a few minutes the storm broke
forth in full violence.

As the old house had stood many such, in years gone by, I did not give
myself much concern about the gale; but pulled down the blind, placed my
little table and books near the stove, and, drawing in my chair, sat
down to think.  How long I remained in this condition I cannot tell; but
my reveries were broken by the large clock on the stairs striking
twelve.

I started up, and clinching my hands exclaimed aloud, "No!  I've made up
my mind, I _won't_ run away!"  Under the impulse of the feeling I threw
open the door of the stove and heaped on fresh coals, muttering to
myself; as I did so, "No, I won't run away, I won't run away; no, no,
no, I won't run a--"

I was checked suddenly by my eye falling a second time on that terrific
African savage sending from his revolver a charge down the throat of
that magnificent Bengal tiger, that would have blown the inside entirely
out of any living creature smaller than an elephant.  I sat down.  I
gazed at the picture.  I read the account.  I followed up the
adventurous savage.  My head reeled with excitement.  A strange terrible
heat seemed to dart like lightning through my veins, and the book began
to flicker before my eyes.  I became alarmed.

"Surely some terrible fever is seizing on me!"  I exclaimed, and in the
terror of the thought I started up and paced my room rapidly.  But the
fire increased, and my head swam.  I meditated ringing the bell and
alarming the household; but the thought of this quieted me, and
gradually I became calmer.

It was at this moment that my former resolution returned upon me with
tenfold violence.  "I'll submit to this no longer," I growled between my
teeth; "I _will_ run away!"

The instant I said that, I felt as if I were imbued with a determination
that nothing could shake.  Jack's reasoning never once came into my
mind.  I took down the knapsack that hung on a nail ready packed for the
intended fishing expedition of the morrow.  I buckled it on; put on my
thickest shoes, and, seizing a stout cudgel, issued softly from my
apartment, and tapped gently at Jack's door.

"Come in!"

I entered, and was overwhelmed with surprise at finding my friend
standing in the middle of the room accoutred for the road just like
myself.  He put his finger to his lips.

"Hush!  Bob.  I was on the point of going to your room to say that I've
made up my mind to run away with you."

I was staggered.  I did not relish this unaccountable change.  If I had
persuaded him to go, it would have been all right; but to find him thus
ready and eager was unnatural.  I felt as if I were accountable for this
change in his opinions and actions, and immediately, strange to say,
experienced a tendency to dissuade him.

"But, Jack, you forget what you said to me some hours ago."

"No, I don't," he answered, gloomily.

"Perhaps we'd better think over it again."

"No, we won't.  Come, Bob, don't show the white feather now.  Don't
waste time.  It's about dawn.  It's too late to reason.  You have
tempted me, and I have given in."

Saying this, he seized me by the collar and pushed me before him.

And now the mysterious events which I am about to relate began.  The
conduct of my friend Jack on this occasion was in itself a mystery.  He
was by nature the gentlest and most inoffensive of human beings, except
when circumstances required him to act vigorously: then he was a lion--
irresistible.  Since the commencement of our acquaintance, which was of
many years' standing, he had never by word or look given me the
slightest cause for anger; and yet here he was grasping me violently by
the collar and pushing me forcibly before him.

I did not get angry.  My conscience smote me.  I said to myself; "Ah!
this is the result of evil conduct.  I have tempted Jack to act against
his judgment; he is no longer what he was."

Instead of melting under this feeling, I became hardened.  I stepped
out, and so dragged my friend after me down the back stairs which led to
the lower part of the house, where the servants slept.  Jack whispered,
"All right," and let go his hold.

"Now we must be cautious," I said, in a low tone, as we proceeded to
traverse the passage, on each side of which were the rooms occupied by
the servants.  We took off our shoes and advanced on tip-toe.  At the
far end of the passage we heard a sound like a trombone.  That was the
butler; we knew of his snoring propensities, and so were not alarmed.
His door was open; so was his mouth--I could see that plainly, as I
passed, by the dim light of a candle which he always burned at night.
The butler was excessively fat.  I merely mention this because it
accounts for the fact of his not awaking when we unlocked the street
door.  Fat people are not easily wakened.

The lock of the door was an old-fashioned large one.  It grated slightly
as Jack turned the key; then at a certain point the key lost control
over it, and it shot back with a report like a pistol-shot!  My heart
flew to my mouth, and almost choked me.  The butler gave a double snort
and turned in his bed as Jack and I darted round an angle of the wall
and hid in a dark corner.  The butler soon gave unquestionable evidence
that he had not been thoroughly aroused, and we were about to issue from
our place of concealment, when the door of our man-servant's room
opened, and he peeped out.  Edwards--that was his name--was a stout
young fellow, and we felt certain that he would not rest satisfied until
he had found out the cause of the noise.

We were right.  He stepped cautiously into the passage with a poker in
his hand.  My heart sank within me.  Just at that moment a cat darted
across the passage with its back and tail up, and its eyes glaring.
Edwards flung the poker at it, missed the cat, and knocked over an old
tin umbrella-stand, with which the poker made a hideous clatter on the
stone floor of the passage.

"Ha! you brute!  Wot? it's you as is makin' all that row, is it?"

"Oh, dear, Edwards, what's happened?" cried a shrill voice from the
other end of the passage--it was cook.

"Oh, nothin', only the cat," replied the man as he sauntered into the
butler's room.  The butler seemed at that moment to have been smitten
with a fit of apoplexy--we could see him from our dark corner;--he grew
purple in the face, gasped once or twice, choked awfully, and then sat
up in bed staring like a maniac.

"Oh!  Jack," I whispered in horror.

"Don't be alarmed; it's only his usual way of waking up.  I've seen him
do it often."

"What noise is that?  What's going on down there?" cried a deep bass
voice in the distance.  It was my father.  No one replied.  Presently my
father's bedroom bell rang with extreme violence.  Edwards rushed out of
the butler's room.  The butler fell back, opened his mouth, and
pretended to be asleep--snoring moderately.  This of itself would have
undeceived any one, for when the old hypocrite was really asleep he
never snored _moderately_.  The cook and housemaid uttered two little
shrieks and slammed their respective doors, while the bell rang
violently a second time.

"Now for it," whispered Jack.  He opened the back door softly, and we
darted out.  A streak of pale light on the horizon indicated the
approach of day.  We tried to close the door behind us, but we heard the
butler choke, gasp, and shout at the top of his voice, "Hi! hallo!"  At
the same instant the old dinner-gong sent a peal of horrible sound
through the house, and we took to flight filled with unutterable terror.

Oh, how we did run!  We had scarcely cleared the offices and got fairly
into the avenue when we heard Edwards shout as he started in pursuit.

We were both good runners, but Jack soon took the lead, and kept it by
about five yards.  Our feet scarcely touched the ground.  I felt as if I
had wings, so great was my terror.  We reached the end of the avenue.
The gate was full five feet high.  To my inexpressible amazement, Jack
went clear over it with one bound!

I have never been able to analyse my feelings and impulses on that
occasion.  I am, and always was, rather a poor jumper; yet, without
hesitation, without even a doubt as to my ability to clear it, I went at
that gate like an Irish hunter at a stone wall, and leaped fairly over
it!  The leap did not even check my pace for an instant.  I remember, in
the whirl and confusion of the moment, that I attributed my almost
superhuman powers to terror; but the feeling that we were pursued again
absorbed all my faculties.

We dashed on at a killing pace, and, strange to say, without feeling the
slightest fatigue.  Having cleared the avenue, we mounted the high
ground in the neighbourhood, passed the church, entered the village, and
went through it like a railway train; came out upon the road beyond, and
reached a wooded part of the country where several roads and by-paths
diverged from the highway.  All this time Edwards kept close on our
heels.  He did not gain on us, but we felt that we did not distance him.
"Down here!" cried Jack, doubling suddenly into a lane.

We passed a small bridge that crossed a mill-lake.  Beyond, there was a
farm-yard.  The path-way was high, and we could look down on the tops of
the stacks.  One of these, a haystack, stood about ten feet from the low
wall that skirted the road.  It had been half pulled down, and the hay
was loose.  Without a word or warning Jack sprang completely across this
space, turned right over, and plunged head first into the hay.  I
followed instantly, and disappeared.  We lay for a few seconds perfectly
still, and heard Edwards pass at full speed.  Then we struggled out and
watched him out of sight.

Sliding down, we regained the lane, returned to the high-road, and
continued our flight.

We saw no more of Edwards.

About eight miles from my father's house there was a small seaport town.
We made for this, and reached it just as the sun rose in all his golden
glory on the distant edge of the sleeping sea.



STORY TWO, CHAPTER 3.

On entering the village we found it in a state of unusual bustle.  I had
often been there before, and had thought it rather a quiet place for a
seaport.  But now there was a sort of bustling activity and an air of
mystery about it that I could not understand.  I mentioned my feelings
to Jack, but he did not answer me, which was a piece of rudeness so
unusual, that I could only suppose that his mind was so deeply affected
with the circumstances, in which we had placed ourselves, as to render
him somewhat absent.

On arriving at the chief, indeed the only, inn of the place, we
discovered the reason of all the bustle.  A strange ship had arrived the
night before--a large ship, fitted out for an expedition to some distant
part of the world.  She had come to complete her supply of provisions
and to engage a few extra hands.

Here then was a fortunate opportunity!  We asked at once where we could
find the captain.  He was in the bar-room of the inn.  We entered it and
found him there, standing with his back to the fire and a coat-tail
under each arm.  He was a big fat man, with a savage expression of
countenance, and ragged head and beard, and a red nose.

"Sir," said Jack, "we wish to ship with you."

The captain stared, took a pencil-case out of his pocket, picked his
teeth therewith, and surveyed us from head to foot.

"Oh, you do, do you?  You wish to ship with me?"

"Yes."

"Suppose I don't want you."

"Then we shall have to try elsewhere."

The captain smiled grimly, shut up the pencil-case, and said--

"What can ye do?"

"We can read, and write, and count," said I, taking the words out of
Jack's mouth; for I felt that his brusque manner of replying was not
calculated to commend us to the captain.

"Oh, you can read, and write, and count, can ye?" repeated the captain,
with deep sarcasm.  "If ye had said ye could feed, and fight, and shout,
it would have bin more to the purpose."

"Perhaps we can do a little of that sort of thing, too," suggested Jack,
with a broad grin.

"Hah?" ejaculated the captain.  "Wot else can ye do?"

"Oh, anything," said Jack.

"I gin'rally find," observed the captain, "that w'en a boy says he can
do anything, he very soon proves that he can do nothing."

"Well, I don't mean that exactly," rejoined Jack; "I mean we can _try_
anything."

"Ha! that's more to the pint.  Where did ye come from?"

We looked at each other.  "That," said I, "is a matter of no importance
to any one but ourselves.  We have run away from home, and we want to go
to sea as fast as possible.  If you are willing to take us, we are
willing to go.  What say you?"

"Run away! ho! ho!--run away!" said the captain, chuckling; "you are
just the lads I want.  Nothing like runaway boys for me.  I wouldn't
give a pinch of snuff for your good boys that do wot they're bid.
Commend me to the high-spirited fellers that runs away, and that folk
are so wicked as to call bad boys.  That's the sort o' stuff that suits
_our_ service."

I did not by any means relish the manner and tone, in which all this was
said: so I asked him what particular service he belonged to.

"You'll know that time enough," he replied, laughing; "but after all,
why shouldn't I tell ye? there's nothing to conceal.  We're a
discovery-ship; we're goin' to look for Sir John Franklin's expedition,
and after we've found it we're going to try the North Pole, and then go
right through the Nor'-west passage, down by Behring's Straits, across
the Pacific, touchin' at the Cannibal Islands in passin', and so on to
China.  Havin' revictualled there, we'll bear away for Japan,
Haustralia, Cape o' Good Hope, and the West Indies, and come tearin'
across the Atlantic with the Gulf-stream to England!  Will that suit
ye?"

It may seem strange, and the reader will hardly believe me when I say,
that, transparently absurd though this statement was, nevertheless I
believed every word of it--and so did Jack.  I saw that by his glowing
eye and heightened colour.

"And when do you sail?"  I inquired joyfully.

"In half an hour; so get aboard, boys, and don't give so much tongue.
I've other matters to mind just now.  Come, be off!"

We retreated precipitately to the door.

"What's her name?" inquired Jack, looking back.

"`The Ring-tailed Smasher,'" cried the captain, fiercely.

"The what?"

"`The Ring-tailed Smasher,'" roared the captain, seizing the poker.

We vanished.  In five minutes we were on board the ship.  To this hour I
have no remembrance of how we got on board.  My brain swam with intense
excitement.  I felt as if I were flying, not walking, as I ran about the
deck and clambered up the rigging.

Shortly after, the captain came aboard.  The rope that attached the
vessel to the quay was cast off, the sails flew out as if by magic, and
the shore began to fall rapidly astern.

It was now, for the first time, that a full sense of what I had done
came over me.  I leaned over the stern of the ship, and gazed at my
native shore as it grew fainter in the distance, until the familiar
hills became a mere line of blue on the horizon, and were finally
blotted from my view by the blinding tears that sprang suddenly to my
eyes.  Oh! the agony of that moment I shall never forget.  The words
that Jack had quoted to me the night before--"Honour thy father and thy
mother"--seemed to be stamped in letters of fire within my brain.  I
felt keenly that, in a moment of passionate self-will, I had done that
which would cause me the deepest sorrow all my life.

In that dark hour I forgot all my romantic notions of travel in foreign
lands; I cared not a straw for hunting, or fighting, or wild adventures.
I would have cheerfully given worlds, had I possessed them, to be
permitted to undo the past--to hasten to my dear father's feet, and
implore forgiveness of the evil that I had done.  But regret was now
unavailing.  The land soon sank below the horizon, and, ere many hours
had passed, our ship was scudding before a stiff breeze and leaping
wildly over the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.



STORY TWO, CHAPTER 4.

"Ho! tumble up there, tumble up!  All hands, ahoy! tumble up!  Look
alive, lads; there's work to do, my hearties!"

Such were the words, uttered in the most terrifically violent bass
tones, that awoke me on the first morning after I went to sea.
Instantly all the men around me leaped out of their hammocks.  They were
all half-dressed, and I noticed that the greater part of them completed
their toilet in the short interval between quitting their hammocks and
gaining the deck.  Jack and I had lain down in our clothes, so we were
on deck almost as soon as the others.

Here the most unexpected sights assailed us.  It seemed to me as if a
miraculous change had taken place on everybody and everything during the
night.  The ship when she had set sail was as untidy and lumbered about
the decks as a merchantman usually is on quitting port.  Now everything
was clean, in its place, snugly fastened, and in order.  The sails
appeared to have undergone some modification.  I fancied, too, that the
masts raked aft a good deal more than they had done, and round the foot
of them were ranged muskets, pistols, cutlasses, and boarding-pikes,
where masses of cordage and handspikes had been before.  The hencoops
had vanished, and in their place were rows of brass carronades, while in
the centre of the deck an enormous swivel gun occupied the place, on
which the long-boat had formerly rested.  Even the captain seemed to
have changed.  His costume was somewhat Eastern in its character, and
his whole aspect was much more ferocious than when I first saw him.

Vague and terrible suspicions crossed my mind as I viewed these
wonderful transformations; but I had no time to indulge them, for the
men had hastened with the promptitude of men-of-war's men to their
stations, leaving Jack and me alone in the middle of the deck.

"Hallo, boys!" shouted the captain, "no idlers allowed aboard this ship.
Here, stand by this gun, and lend a hand with the ropes when you're
told to.  Obey orders,--that's the only duty I've got to lay on you."

We hastened to the gun pointed out, and while I was standing there
waiting for orders, I looked over the side, and, for the first time,
became aware of the cause of these proceedings.

About two miles to leeward of us, just off our larboard bow, I saw a
large ship running under a press of canvas.  She was a huge
clumsy-looking merchantman, and I heard our first mate say she was an
East-Indiaman.

"Then why chase her?" thought I, "and why these warlike preparations?"

It struck me at the time, I remember, that the captain must have guessed
my thoughts, for he glanced at me quickly, and then turning to the mate,
with a sarcastic smile, said--

"I thought you had better sight than you seem to have.  In my judgment
that's a Russian merchantman, and as we happen to be at war with Russia
just now I'll take the liberty of overhauling her."

Instead of replying to this, the mate burst into a loud laugh in which,
strangely enough, he was joined by the captain and all the men who were
within hearing.  I felt uneasy at this, and expressed my feelings in a
whisper to Jack, who shook his head and looked at me mysteriously, but
said nothing.

I felt that, even though we were at war with Russia, we, as a
discovery-ship, had no right whatever to interfere in the capacity of a
war-ship, and I was about to remonstrate with the captain at all
hazards, when my thoughts were suddenly changed by the order being given
to fire a shot across the stranger's bows.  The gun at which I was
stationed was run out.

"Stand by!" cried the captain.

"Fire!"

In the excitement of the moment, and without knowing what I had to do,
though deeply impressed with the feeling that something ought to be done
when an order was given, I pulled violently at the rope which I had in
my hand; the effect of which was to move the gun very slightly when it
exploded.  The result was that the ball, instead of passing well ahead
of the strange vessel, passed close to its bow, and carried away half of
the bowsprit.

The captain turned on me a face absolutely blazing with wrath.  He
seized a handspike, and I thought he was about to dash out my brains on
the spot.  He hissed at me between his clinched teeth; then, suddenly
bursting into a shout of fiendish laughter, he cried--

"Well, well, after all there's no harm done.  It'll make them understand
that we don't mean to trifle with 'em.  Clear the boarding-pikes there.
Are the grappling-irons ready?"

"Ay, ay, sir."

By this time the stranger had hove-to, and we were bearing down on her
so rapidly that a few minutes more would bring us alongside.  Our men
stood ready for action.  They were the worst-looking set of scoundrels I
ever beheld.

"Ship ahoy!" shouted our captain as we drew near, "what ship's that?"

A smart young officer leaped on the bulwarks, and cried, "Come alongside
and I'll tell you.  Show your colours."

At the word our colours went up, as colours are usually hoisted, rolled
up like a ball.  I watched with intense interest, for I felt that now at
last I should know our true character.  The ball of what seemed to be
dark-blue bunting reached the masthead and hung for one instant--then
its folds fell heavily, and were swept out by the breeze.  The flag was
black, and in the centre were a white skull and crossbones!

I almost fainted at the sight.  I looked at Jack, who stood beside me.
He was as white as a sheet; but his lips were firmly compressed, and his
brows knitted.

"Do we deserve what we have got?" he muttered in a deep, sad voice.

I did not reply; but my conscience answered, "We do--at least I do."

We were now hove-to about a pistol-shot to leeward of the ship, and our
captain, leaping on the bulwark, cried, with a dreadful oath, "Send your
gig alongside instantly with your captain and papers.  If you don't look
sharp I'll blow you out of the water."

He had scarcely finished speaking, when a loud shout rent the air, and
the bulwarks of the strange vessel swarmed with soldiers.  At the same
moment, twenty concealed ports flew open and twenty heavy guns were run
out.

Our captain gave the word, "Fire!" as he leaped on the deck and rushed
to the wheel.  The word must have been given at the same moment on board
the chase, for both broadsides burst simultaneously from the vessels'
sides with a deafening crash that sounded ten times louder and more
terrible than the loudest thunder I ever heard.  We were so near that
the combined volumes of smoke completely blinded and almost suffocated
me.  I fancied, for a moment, that our powder-magazine had blown up.

The thunder of the broadsides was followed by the most appalling shrieks
I ever heard, and by the ceaseless rattle of musketry as the soldiers
opened on us with deadly precision.  Through the smoke I saw men falling
around me, and the decks were immediately covered with blood, while
bullets and splinters of wood whistled round my head like hail.

I was stunned.  I felt like one in a horrid dream.  Gradually the smoke
cleared away, and then I saw that our captain had put down the helm and
our vessel was sheering off to leeward under full sail.  The rapidity
with which everything was done quite took away my breath.  Before we
were out of gun-shot the decks had been cleared, the dead thrown into
the sea, the wounded carried below, and the decks washed with buckets of
water.

Just then I thought of Jack, and looked round in haste.  He was not
there!  I rushed below! he was not in his hammock.  In an agony of
anxiety I went down into the horrible den of blood where our surgeon was
attending to the wounded.  Here, amid groaning and dying men, I found my
friend stretched in a cot with a blanket over him, his handsome face was
very pale, and his eyes were closed when I approached.  Going down on my
knees beside him, while my heart fluttered with an inexpressible feeling
of dread, I whispered his name.

He opened his large eyes slowly, and a sweet sad smile lit up his face
for one moment, as he took me by the hand.

"O Jack!  Jack, my friend--my brother--are you wounded?"  I asked.

"Yes," he replied, in a faint voice; "I'm badly hurt, I fear."

"Has the doctor dressed your wound?"

"He finished the--the--operation just before you came down."

"Operation!"  I whispered, while a feeling of deadly sickness came over
me.  "Where--what--" I could not go further.

Poor Jack knew what I wished to ask.  He gently lifted part of the
blanket, and I felt as if I had been stunned by an electric shock on
observing that his right leg had been amputated above the knee.  For
some moments I could not speak.  I could not move.  It was with
difficulty that I could draw my labouring breath.  Suddenly I clasped my
hands--

"O Jack! my beloved! my--" I gasped.  My throat was parched.  For one
moment I thought I was dying.  Suddenly I started up, uttered a great
agonising cry, and fell down on the deck.  Then a flood of tears sprang
into my burning eyes, and I sobbed as if my heart would burst asunder.
I did not try to check this.  It was too precious a relief to my
insupportable agony.  I crept close to my friend's cot, took his hand
gently, and, laying my cheek upon it, wept there as I never wept before.
Jack's former advice now came back to me vividly, and his words of
caution, "Honour thy father and thy mother," burned deep into my
throbbing brain, while my accusing conscience whispered unceasingly,
"You brought him to this--you brought him to this!"  My sorrow was
broken in upon rudely by the first mate.

"What are you doin' here, you young blackguard?" he cried, seizing me by
the collar, and dragging me to the foot of the ladder that led out of
this bloody den.  "Skulking, eh!  _I'll_ teach you to skulk; _I'll_ cure
you o' that, my lad!  _I'll_ tan your skin for you," and at each
emphatic word he gave a blow with a rope's end that raised a bar of
livid flesh across my back.  "There," he cried, giving me a final cut,
and hurling me up the first few steps of the ladder, "on deck with you!"

I did not hesitate to comply.  I gained the deck with unusual rapidity,
smarting with pain and burning with indignation.  But what I saw going
on there made me almost forget my pain.  The great swivel gun amidships
was being cleared for action, and our captain was giving orders beside
it as coolly and quietly as if nothing unusual had occurred that day.

I was deeply impressed for a few minutes with this cool, calm
indifference, which characterised the men as well as the captain; but
when I had considered a little, I came to understand that they were used
to battle and bloodshed, and that therefore it was quite natural.  After
that I ceased to wonder at anything.  Indeed, the power to be astonished
seemed to leave my breast altogether, and from that moment I regarded
everything that happened on the pirate vessel as being quite what might
be expected--mere matter of course.

I now observed that we had not yet done with the supposed Russian.  We
had merely run astern out of range of her guns, but not beyond the range
of our large swivel.  In a few minutes it was ready.  The captain
sighted the gun, and gave the word "Fire!"

The ship quivered with the shock, and so large was the ball that I could
distinctly trace its flight.  It fell short a few yards.  "So, so,"
muttered the captain.  "The next will do its work."

He was right.  The next ball struck the rails that ran round the poop,
carried away the binnacle, and raked the upper deck from stern to stem.
I could see it quite plainly with the glass.

"Hurrah!" shouted some of the crew.

"Silence, you babies," growled the captain; "time enough to crow when
our work's done."

The men who had cheered fell back abashed.  I noticed that they were
chiefly the younger men of the crew, whose countenances were not yet
utterly unhumanised by crime.

"Load."

"Ready."

"Fire!"

Again the huge iron mass sprang from the cannon's mouth, and rushed
along its deadly track.  It struck the top of a wave, and bounding up
passed through the sails and cordage of the Russian, cutting one or two
of the lighter spars, and also the main topsail halyards, which caused
the yard to come rattling down, and rendered the sail useless.  Seeing
this, the pirate captain ordered sail to be reduced in order to keep at
a sufficient distance astern to render the guns of the chase useless.
Every shot from our gun now told with terrible effect.  We could see the
splinters fly as every ball entered the ship's stern, or swept her deck,
or crashed through her rigging.  Presently she turned her broadside to
us.

"She don't mean to waste her ammunition, surely," remarked the captain,
with a sneer.

She did not mean to do so.  She evidently meant to turn the tables by
bearing suddenly down on us, and, if possible, give us a broadside
before we could get out of range.  The captain saw the intention
instantly, and thwarted it.

"Up your helm!  Square the yards!  Look alive there!"

We fell off, and were soon running before the wind, with the swivel gun
thundering over our stern, as it had formerly thundered over our bows.
The Russian fired a broadside, and lay-to.  Every ball fell short of us.
We also lay-to, and now the fire was kept up steadily.  The ship's fate
was sealed.  Those on board evidently thought so, for the colours which
had hitherto been flying from the mast were presently lowered.  Upon
this we ceased firing, and ranged up alongside.

"Oh! you've had enough, have you?" cried our captain.  "Perhaps you'll
condescend to let your captain and papers come aboard _now_."

The Russian did not reply, but a boat was lowered.  It was evident they
meant to obey.

"Here, you boy," cried our captain, as he paced the deck, awaiting their
arrival.  "Here's a letter for you."

"A letter, sir!"  I exclaimed, stepping forward, and touching my cap.

"Ay, your father gave it to me just afore we set sail.  He told me not
to give it to you until you'd seen a little rough work.  You've seen
some now, I think," (he accompanied this remark with a horrible leer),
"so there's the letter.  Go below and read it.  I'll want you in half an
hour for some still rougher work."

There seemed to me something very unaccountable and mysterious in this.
I knew that the captain did not know my father.  I had not even told him
that I had a father.  It seemed to me impossible that in the course of
the short half-hour that intervened between the time of my engaging to
serve in the _Ring-tailed Smasher_, and the time of my setting sail, my
father could have found out where I had run to, have met and conversed
with the captain, and have written a letter to me.  Yet it seemed that
such was the case.  I recognised the handwriting.

"Whom did you get the letter from?  Did you see my father?"

"Come, youngster, don't you go for to question me.  Go below d'rectly,
an' stop there till ye'r wanted."

The captain seized the end of a rope as he spoke, so I retreated at once
to the bedside of my poor friend Jack, only too glad to escape from the
presence of the men whom I now abhorred with all my heart.

"Jack," said I, eagerly, "here's a letter from my father!"

He evinced no surprise, but, looking up solemnly, said, in a faint
voice, "Read it."

Breaking the seal, I read as follows:--

"My Beloved Son,--I forgive you.  You have sinned deeply in thus leaving
me; but I know that you have repented.  I know that your own conscience
has rebuked you more sternly than any earthly parent could do.  You
cannot now recall the past--you cannot undo what you have done; you must
now continue your voyage, and, in order to relieve your oppressed heart,
I give you my blessing.  I commend you, my dear boy, to Him who is the
Saviour of sinners.

"Beware of the captain.  Obey him in all that is right, but do not serve
him.  Again, I say, beware of him.  There are secrets concerning him
that I cannot unfold.  I have just been to see Jack's mother.  She sends
her forgiveness and blessing to her son.  God bless you, boy.--Your
loving father,

"John Smith."

My father understood human nature.  No reproaches that he could have
heaped upon me would have cut half so deeply into my heart as did this
kind, forgiving letter.  My heart was full.  Yet I felt a deep
undercurrent of joy at knowing that my father loved me still.  I looked
at Jack.  He seemed to be asleep, but he was not.  A single tear coursed
over his pale cheek as he looked up and whispered--

"We don't deserve this, Bob."

Before I could reply, the ship was shaken by a tremendous explosion, and
immediately after I heard the most appalling shrieks and yells on deck,
accompanied by the clashing of swords and the scuffling of men in deadly
conflict.  I looked at Jack; he lay motionless, with his eyes closed.
For a moment I feared that he was dead.

"Bob Smith!  Hallo! tumble up there, you skulker!" shouted a voice down
the hatchway.  At the same moment two wounded men were carried into the
place, and the surgeon appeared with his horrible instruments
glittering, cold and sharp, on a wooden tray.

Seizing my cutlass, and thrusting a brace of pistols in my belt, I
rushed on deck.



STORY TWO, CHAPTER 5.

On reaching the deck I saw at once how matters stood.  The Russian had
allowed us to come alongside, and then, throwing out grappling-irons,
had fired a broadside into us, and attempted to board.  They were soon
overcome, however, by the pirates, and driven back into their ship,
whither they were immediately followed.

I resolved, come what might, that I would take no part in the fray; but
I was carried, in spite of myself, on board the strange vessel in the
rush that our men made when they drove their opponents back.  There was
a short, sharp skirmish on the deck of the Russian, and then the crew
were driven below, and the hatches put on.  I remembered having seen a
number of soldiers on board when we first came up with this vessel.
There were none now.  Their mysterious disappearance struck me at first,
but I soon forgot it in the thrilling scenes that followed.

In the middle of the vessel's main-deck there was a cage of wild beasts.
How they had got there of course I knew not, but I at once concluded
the ship must have been in southern climes, and these animals were being
brought home to be presented to some menagerie or zoological garden.
There were several fine specimens of lions and tigers, and the sight of
blood which flowed plentifully on the decks had so excited these
creatures that they were now filling the air with deafening roars,
bounding against the sides of their cage, (which I expected every moment
to see broken to pieces by their united strength), and glaring at us
with the most awful expressions of ferocity I ever beheld.

Our captain, who looked almost as fierce as the wild brutes, could not
make his voice heard for their roaring.  In savage fury he rushed at the
cage and made a desperate cut with his sword at the lion nearest the
bars.  The blood flowed from the wound freely, and the savage animal,
being unable to wreak its vengeance on its cowardly assailant, attacked
one of its comrades.  This, and the blood now flowing in the cage, quite
maddened them all.  An indiscriminate fight ensued.  The wooden
partition that separated the tigers from the lions was smashed in, and
the strong cage shook as if it were made of card-board.

"Turn a gun in-board," yelled the captain, who seemed to have actually
gone mad with passion.

The order was instantly obeyed.

"Load to the muzzle--grape--canister--chain shot.  In with it."

He assisted in the operation; rammed home the extraordinary charge,
pointed the gun at the cage, and applied the match.  Instantly the gun
leaped backwards as if it had been a living thing, broke down the
bulwarks of the ship, and plunged overboard.

The effect of the shot was terrific.  The cage was blown to atoms, and
the mangled remains of the wild beasts were strewn about the deck.  One
animal, however, a magnificent Bengal tiger, had apparently escaped
unhurt.  It sprang at the captain with a hideous roar.  He pointed a
pistol at its open throat!

At that moment the woodcut in my book of travels flashed vividly before
me.  But I had not time to think.  The pistol exploded, sending its
contents down the creature's throat.  The tiger fell short in its leap;
blood poured from its mouth and nose.  With another bound it cleared the
bulwarks, and fell into the sea.

The calm that succeeded this thrilling incident was like a sudden lull
in the midst of a furious storm.  Even the pirates seemed to be
solemnised by what had passed.

"Now to work," cried the captain, wiping his sword, and laying it, with
a brace of loaded pistols, on the capstan.  "What are you staring at,
you fools?--have you lost your senses?  Open the after-hatch, and bring
them up, one at a time.  Get the plank ready."

The first who was led bound before the captain was the steward of the
ship.  He was deadly pale, and trembled very much.

"Now, my man," said the captain, "answer my questions.  The _truth_
mind, else--" he touched the butt of a pistol significantly.

"Where did you last sail from?"

To my amazement, the man gave the name of the port from which we
ourselves had sailed.  I felt certain that this was a falsehood, and
that the poor man's life would be forfeited.  Judge, then, my surprise
when the captain said--

"I know that as well as you.  I saw you sneak out just the day before we
did.  But you didn't escape me, ha! ha!  You are too good to live, my
man.  Stand aside here till I call someone who's not quite so
frightened.  Here, hold him, one of you!  Bring another!"

I started.  My heart almost ceased to beat when the next man was led
forward.  He was my father's man-servant, Edwards.  In the confusion and
horror of that hour I could not reason; but a vague sense of some
mysterious impossibility having actually taken place, oppressed me in a
way that I cannot explain.  The ship had sailed the day before ours did!
I left Edwards behind me in the race from home!  How, then, did I see
him before me?  Then the cage of wild beasts.  How was it possible that
a vessel leaving an English port could have such creatures on board?
Then, my father's letter; it seemed more than ever mysterious how that
letter could reach me, and through such a channel, and without a word of
reference to Edwards.

He did not observe me as he passed.  I tried to utter his name; but my
tongue was tied.  I could not speak.  I could not move.

"Where did you last sail from?" began the captain.

"You'll get nothing out of me," replied Edwards, stoutly.  "Do your
most.  Torture me if you like.  I defy you to your teeth."

"Do you, my fine fellow?" said the captain, with a bitter sneer.  "Then
I'll just send you overboard at once.  I've no time to torture you; and
as I shall find plenty of your comrades willing enough to tell me all
they know, I'll not trouble you any further.  Ho! run out the plank
there!"

I knew what that meant, and a cold shiver passed through my frame as the
men obeyed, and blind-folded Edwards, preparatory to making him walk the
plank.  I could restrain myself no longer.  Darting up to the captain, I
shouted in a voice of indignation--

"Do you mean to murder an innocent man, you dastardly villain?"

He looked at me for a moment in surprise; then, snatching a pistol,
felled me with it to the deck.  I was not rendered quite insensible.  I
heard the shriek of agony uttered by poor Edwards, as he fell off the
end of the plank into the sea; then I fainted.

How long I lay, I know not; probably not long, for I was restored to a
state of consciousness by being plunged into the sea.  I had no doubt
that the captain had ordered me to be thrown overboard, just after I
fell under his brutal blow.

Being a good swimmer, I struck out at once and made for the side of the
pirate vessel, where I caught the end of a rope, and soon clambered on
board.  I was much exhausted, and sat down on the breech of a carronade
to rest and recover my stunned and scattered faculties.

The crew of the pirate were so busily engaged with the captured ship
that I found myself quite alone on the deck.  Not a man remained in the
ship.  An idea suddenly occurred to me just then.  I glanced up at the
sails.  They were all flapping in the wind except the fore-topsail.
That sail had slewed round, and was drawing so that the vessel strained
the ropes and grappling-irons that held her to the captured ship.

I sprang up burning with eager excitement.  I heard the shrieks of the
ill-fated victims, as one by one they walked the plank, which,
fortunately for the success of my design, was thrust out on the other
side of the ship.  A crowbar enabled me to wrench off the
grappling-irons.  Two cuts of a large axe severed the cable that had
been fastened to the bow, and the vessel's head fell slowly off.  As it
did so, all the sails filled with a sudden clap.  This was observed: I
heard a shout, and saw the pirates spring on the bulwarks of the prize.
I flew rather than ran to the stern, where the cable that held the
vessel was rigid as a bar of iron.  One blow cut it, and the rope
recoiled violently in the faces of the men who laid hold of it.  Next
moment the pirate ship was heading away before a stiff breeze which was
quickly freshening to a gale.  As I sprang to the helm, a shower of
musket and pistol bullets tore up the deck round me, and I heard the
captain's voice give the order to load the guns.

It was a few minutes before the _vis inertiae_ of the ship was overcome,
so that I was within close range when a whole broadside was fired at me.
But not a shot struck.  They tore up the water all round, and
ricochetted over me.  Before they could reload I was almost beyond
range, for the gale was freshening every moment, and the canvas spread
was enough almost to tear the masts out of the ship.  The water hissed
as she flew over the heaving waves, and in a few minutes I felt that I
was _free_.

Oh the feeling of wild delight that filled me when I realised this!  I
lashed the helm amidships, and ran down below to tell Jack what I had
done.  He was asleep.  By a powerful effort I restrained myself, and did
not disturb him.  Then I rushed on deck.  My brain seemed on fire.  I
shouted, laughed, and sang, and wept, until I began to feel a terrible
sensation of dread lest I should go mad.  But this, instead of calming
me, caused me to dance and sing and shout the more.  A burning thirst
came upon me.  I ran to the water-cask and drank till I could drink no
more.  I was refreshed; but soon the fever returned fiercer than ever.
I was mad!  I knew it; I felt it; but I did not care.  I saw that the
storm increased; this caused me to shout again with joy at the thought
that I was so quickly borne away from the scene of butchery, and from
the fiends in human form with whom I had so lately associated.

The gale burst in all its fury upon us.  The sails were new and strong;
the ship plunged into the waves, a green billow swept in-board and burst
in fury on the deck, carrying away boats and loose spars.  I yelled with
delight, and plunged into the brine that lashed the deck from stem to
stern.  I heard a noise overhead; but was so confused that I could not
understand what it was.  As I gazed, there came a terrific blast.  The
mainsail split from top to bottom.  The topsails burst and were blown to
ribbons.  At the same moment, I received a violent blow on the head.

After that, all was darkness and oblivion.



STORY TWO, CHAPTER 6.

When consciousness returned to me I found myself lying on my back on the
deck of a vessel, surrounded and propped up by pillows; and Jack Brown
sitting beside me reading a book.

I felt a curious sensation of weakness and emptiness in my head--as if
it were hollow, and a strange disinclination, almost inability, to speak
or think.  Suddenly this passed away, and the events which I have
related in the previous chapters rushed back upon my memory with vivid
power.

"It must have been a dream," I thought, "or I must have been ill and
delirious, and these things have passed through my fevered brain."

At that moment the thought of Jack's amputated leg came into my head.
"That will prove it," thought I, and turned quickly to look at my
friend.  One glance was sufficient--a wooden stump occupied the place of
his right leg.  I groaned aloud and burst into tears.

"Come, Bob," said Jack in a soft, kind tone, laying down his book and
bending over me.  "Come, my poor fellow, keep quiet.  It's about time
you had your dinner.  Lie still and I'll fetch it to you."

I laid my hand on his arm and detained him.  "Then it's all true," said
I in a tone of the deepest despondency.

"Is what all true?"

"This--this horrible--your leg; your leg--"

Jack suddenly stooped and gazed earnestly into my face.  "Do you know
me, Bob?"  He trembled as he spoke.

"Know you, Jack! why should I not know you?  When did I ever forget
you?"

"Thank God!" he exclaimed fervently, taking my hand and pressing it to
his breast.  "You're all right again.  Oh, how I have longed and prayed
for this."

"All right, Jack.  Have I been wrong, then?"

"That you have just," said Jack, smiling sadly.  "You've just been as
mad as a March hare, that's all!"

I fell flat down and gazed at him.  In a minute more I raised myself on
one elbow, and, looking at him earnestly, said, "How long, Jack?"

"Just three weeks to-day."

I fell flat down again, in which position Jack left me to go and fetch
me some dinner.  He returned quickly with a plate of soup.  Before
commencing to eat it I pressed my hand on my forehead, and said--

"Jack, I am surrounded by mysteries.  How got you so soon well?  Where
got you that wooden leg?  How are we here alone?  Where are we going?
Clear up my faculties, Jack, while I eat this soup--do, like a good
fellow."

"I can easily do that, Bob.  First, I got well because you took care of
me."

"What!  I?"

"Yes, you!  At the commencement of your madness you tended me and cared
for me as if you had been my mother.  When you got to lose all `method
in your madness' I was well enough to take care of myself and you too.
Secondly, I found this wooden leg in the carpenter's berth, and gladly
availed myself of its services, though it _is_ three inches too short,
and causes me to hobble in a most undignified manner.  Thirdly, we are
here alone because there is no one else with us.  You took good care of
that by cutting the ropes before any of our crew could get aboard--so
you told me just before you went mad."

"Oh!  I remember now!  I recollect it all.  Go on."

"Fourthly, as to where we are going, I don't know.  Our compass was
smashed to pieces in the fight, and I've been running for the last three
weeks right before the wind.  So now you know all, and as you've
finished your soup I'll go and get you a lump of boiled junk."

"Don't," said I, rising and shaking myself.  "I've dined.  I feel quite
strong.  I don't feel a bit as if I had been ill.  Hallo! what land is
that?"

Jack started and gazed at it with surprise.  He had evidently not known
that we were in the neighbourhood of land.  A dense fog-bank had
concealed it from us.  Now that it cleared away it revealed to our gaze
a stretch of yellow sand, backed by the lofty blue hills of the
interior, and from the palm-trees that I could make out distinctly I
judged that we must have been making for the tropical regions during the
last three weeks.

Yet here again mystery surrounded me.  How was it possible that we
should have reached the tropics in so short a time?  While I was
puzzling over this question, the greatest mystery of all occurred to us.
If I were not conscientiously relating events exactly as they occurred,
I should expect my readers to doubt my veracity here.

As we were sailing smoothly along, our ship, without any apparent cause,
began to sink.  She went down gradually, but quickly--inch by inch--
until the water was on a level with the decks.  We struck no rock! we
did not cease to advance towards the shore!  I fancied that we must
certainly have sprung a leak; but there had been no sound of a plank
starting, and there was no noise of water rushing into the hold.  I
could not imagine what had occurred, but I had not much time for
thought.  We could do nothing to avert the catastrophe.  It occurred so
suddenly that we were both rendered mute and helpless.  We stood gazing
at the water as it crept over the deck without making the slightest
effort to save ourselves.

At length the water reached the hatchway and poured in a roaring
cataract into the hold.  The vessel filled, gave a heavy lurch to port,
a species of tremor passed through her frame as if she was a living
thing and knew that her hour had come, then she went down in a
whirlpool, leaving Jack and me struggling in the sea.

We were both good swimmers, so that we did not experience much alarm,
especially when we felt that the sea was comparatively warm; we struck
out for the shore, and, being the better swimmer of the two, I took the
lead.

But now to our horror we found that we were followed by sharks!

No sooner did we observe this than we struck out with all the energy of
terror.  We never swam as we did on that occasion.  It seemed to me
quite miraculous.  The water burst from our breasts in foam, and we left
long white tracks behind us as we clove our way through the water like
two boats.  It was awful.  I shall never forget my feelings on that
occasion: they were indescribable--inconceivable!

We were about a quarter of a mile from a point of rocks when our ship
sank.  In an incredibly short space of time we were close on the rocks.
Being several yards ahead of Jack, I was the first to clamber up, my
heart fluttering with fear, yet filled with deep gratitude for my
deliverance.  I turned to help Jack.  He was yet six yards from shore,
when a dreadful shark made a rush at him.

"Oh! quick! quick!"  I screamed.

He was panting and straining like a lion.  Another moment and his hand
would have been in mine, but at that moment I beheld the double rows of
horrid teeth close upon him.  He uttered a piercing shriek, and there
was an indescribably horrible _scrunch_ as he went down.  In a moment
after, he re-appeared, and making a last frightful effort to gain the
rocks, caught my hand.  I dragged him out of danger instantly, and then
I found, to my unutterable joy, that the shark had only bitten off the
half of his wooden leg!

Embracing each other fervently, we sat down in the rocks to rest and
collect our thoughts.



STORY TWO, CHAPTER 7.

I have often found, from experience, that the more one tries to collect
one's thoughts, the more one's thoughts pertinaciously scatter
themselves abroad, almost beyond the possibility of discovery.  Such was
the case with me, after escaping from the sea and the sharks, as related
circumstantially in the last chapter.  Perhaps the truth of this may
best be illustrated by laying before my readers the dialogue that ensued
between me and Jack on the momentous occasion referred to, as follows:--

_Jack_.  "I say, Bob, where in all the world have we got to?"

_Bob_.  "Upon my word, I don't know."

_Jack_.  "It's very mysterious."

_Bob_.  "What's very mysterious?"

_Jack_.  "Where we've got to.  Can't you guess?"

_Bob_.  "Certainly.  Suppose I say Lapland?"

_Jack_.  (Shaking his head), "Won't do."

_Bob_.  "Why?"

_Jack_.  "'Cause there are no palm-trees in Lapland."

_Bob_.  "Dear me, that's true.  How confused my head is!  I'll tell you
what it is, Jack, I can't think.  _That's it_--that's the cause of the
mystery that seems to beset me, I can't tell how; and then I've been
ill--that's it too."

_Jack_.  "How can there be two causes for one effect, Bob?  You're
talking stuff, man.  If I couldn't talk better sense than that, I'd not
talk at all."

_Bob_.  "Then why don't you hold your tongue?  I tell you what it is,
Jack, we're bewitched.  You said I was mad some time ago.  You were
right--so I am; so are you.  There are too many mysteries here for any
two sane men."  (Here Jack murmured we weren't men, but boys.) "There's
the running away and not being caught--the ship ready to sail the moment
we arrive; there's your joining me after all your good advice; there's
that horrible fight, and the lions, and Edwards, and the sinking of our
ship, and the--the--in short, I feel that I'm mad still.  I'm not
recovered yet.  Here, Jack, take care of me!"

Instead of replying to this, Jack busied himself in fitting a piece of
wood he had picked up to his wooden leg, and lashing it firmly to the
old stump.  When he had accomplished his task, he turned gravely to me
and said--

"Bob, your faculties are wandering pretty wildly to-day, but you've not
yet hit upon the cause of all our misfortunes.  The true cause is that
_you have disobeyed your father, and I my mother_."

I hung my head.  I had now no longer difficulty in collecting my
thoughts--they circled round that point until I thought that remorse
would have killed me.  Then suddenly I turned with a look of gladness to
my friend.

"But you forget _the letter_!  We are forgiven!"

"True," cried Jack, with a cheerful expression; "we can face our fate
with that assurance.  Come, let us strike into the country and discover
where we are.  I'll manage to hop along pretty well with my wooden leg.
We'll get home as soon as we can, by land if not by water, and then
we'll remain at home--won't we, Bob?"

"Remain at home!"  I cried; "ay, that will we.  I've had more than
enough of foreign experiences already.  Oh!  Jack, Jack, it's little I
care for the sufferings I have endured--but your leg, Jack!  Willingly,
most willingly, my dear friend, would I part with my own, if by so doing
I could replace yours."

Jack took my hand and squeezed it.

"It's gone now, Bob," he said sadly.  "I must just make the most of the
one that's left.  'Tis a pity that the one that's left is only the left
one."

So saying he turned his back to the sea, and, still retaining my hand in
his, led me into the forest.

But here unthought-of trouble awaited us at the very outset of our
wanderings.  The ground which we first encountered was soft and swampy,
so that I sank above the ankles at every step.  In these circumstances,
as might have been expected, poor Jack's wooden leg was totally useless.
The first step he took after entering the jungle, his leg penetrated
the soft ground to the depth of nine or ten inches, and at the second
step it disappeared altogether--insomuch that he could by no means pull
it out.

"I say, Bob," said he, with a rueful expression of countenance, "I'm in
a real fix now, and no mistake.  Come to anchor prematurely.  I resolved
to stick at nothing, and here I have stuck at the first step.  What _is_
to be done?"

Jack's right leg being deep down in the ground, it followed, as a
physical consequence, that his left leg was bent as if he were in a
sitting posture.  Observing this fact, just as he made the above remark,
he placed both his hands on his left knee, rested his chin on his hands,
and gazed meditatively at the ground.  The action tickled me so much
that I gave a short laugh.  Jack looked up and laughed too, whereupon we
both burst incontinently into an uproarious fit of laughter, which might
have continued ever so long had not Jack, in the fulness of his mirth,
given his fixed leg a twist that caused it to crack.

"Hallo!  Bob," he cried, becoming suddenly very grave, "I say, this
won't do, you know; if I break it short off you'll have to carry me, my
boy: so it behoves me to be careful.  What is to be done?"

"Come, I'll help you to pull it out."

"Oh! that's not what troubles me.  But after we get it out what's to be
done?"

"Jack," said I, seriously, "one thing at a time.  When we get you out,
then it will be time enough to inquire what to do next."

"That's sound philosophy, Bob; where did you pick it up?  I suspect you
must have been studying Shakespeare of late, on the sly.  But come, get
behind me, and put your hands under my arms, and heave; I'll shove with
my sound limb.  Now let us act together.  Stay!  Bob, we've been long
enough aboard ship to know the value of a song in producing unity of
action.  Take the tune from me."

Suiting the action to the word, Jack gave forth, at the top of his
voice, one or two of those peculiarly nautical howls wherewith seamen
are wont to constrain windlasses and capstans to creak, and anchors to
let go their hold.

"Now then, heave away, my hearties; yo-heave-o-hoi!"

At the last word we both strained with all our might.  I heard Jack's
braces burst with the effort.  We both became purple in the face, but
the leg remained immovable!  With a loud simultaneous sigh we relaxed,
and, looking at each other, groaned slightly.

"Come, come, Bob, never say die; one trial more; it was the braces that
spoiled it that time.  Now then, cheerily ho! my hearties,
heave-yo-hee-o-HOY!"

The united force applied this time was so great that we tore asunder all
the fastenings of the leg at one wrench, and Jack and I suddenly shot
straight up, as if we had been discharged from a hole in the ground.
Losing our balance we fell over each other on our backs--the wooden leg
remaining hard and fast in the ground.

"Ah!  Jack," said I sorrowfully, as I rubbed the mud off my garments,
"if we had remained at home this would not have happened."

"If we had remained at home," returned Jack, rather gruffly, as he
hopped towards his leg, "_nothing_ would have happened.  Come, Bob, lay
hold of it.  Out it shall come, if the inside of the world should come
along with it.  There now--_heave_!"

This time we gave vent to no shout, but we hove with such a will, that
Jack split his jacket from the waist to the neck, and the leg came out
with a crack that resembled the drawing of the largest possible cork out
of the biggest conceivable bottle.

Having accomplished this feat we congratulated each other, and then sat
down to repair damages.  This was not an easy matter.  It cost us no
little thought to invent some contrivance that would prevent the leg
from sinking, but at last we thought of a plan.  We cut a square piece
of bark off a tree, the outer rind of which was peculiarly tough and
thick.  In the centre of this we scooped a hole and inserted therein the
end of the leg, fastening it thereto with pieces of twine that we
chanced to have in our pockets.  Thus we made, as it were, an artificial
foot, which when Jack tried it served its purpose admirably--indeed, it
acted too well, for being a broad base it did not permit the wooden leg
to sink at all, while the natural leg did sink more or less, and, as the
wooden limb had no knee, it was stiff from hip to heel, and could not
bend, so that I had to walk behind my poor comrade, and when I observed
him get somewhat into the position of the Leaning Tower of Pisa I sprang
forward and supported him.

Thus we proceeded slowly through the forest, stumbling frequently,
tumbling occasionally, and staggering oft; but strange to say, without
either of us having any very definite idea of where we were going, or
what we expected to find, or why we went in one direction more than
another.  In fact, we proceeded on that eminently simple principle which
is couched in the well-known and time-honoured phrase, "follow your
nose."

True, once I ventured to ask my companion where he thought we were
going, to which he replied, much to my surprise, that he didn't know and
didn't care; that it was quite certain if we did not go forward we could
not expect to get on, and that in the ordinary course of things if we
proceeded we should undoubtedly come to something.  To this I replied,
in a meditative tone, that there was much truth in the observation, and
that, at any rate, if we did not come to something, something would
certainly come to us.

But we did not pursue the subject.  In fact, we were too much taken up
with the interesting and amusing sights that met our gaze in that
singular forest; insomuch that on several occasions I neglected my
peculiar duty of watching Jack, and was only made aware of my
carelessness by hearing him shout, "Hallo!  Bob, look alive!--I'm over!"
when I would suddenly drop my eyes from the contemplation of the plumage
of a parrot or the antics of a monkey, to behold my friend leaning over
at an angle of "forty-five."  To leap forward and catch him in my arms
was the work of an instant.  On each of these occasions, after setting
him upright, I used to give him a tender hug, to indicate my regret at
having been so inattentive, and my sympathy with him in his calamitous
circumstances.

Poor Jack was very gentle and uncomplaining.  He even made light of his
misfortune, and laughed a good deal at himself; but I could see,
nevertheless, that his spirits were at times deeply affected, in spite
of his brave efforts to bear up and appear gay and cheerful.



STORY TWO, CHAPTER 8.

It was evening when we were cast ashore in this new country, so that we
had not advanced far into the forest before night closed in and
compelled us to halt; for, had we continued our journey in the dark, we
should certainly have been drowned in one of the many deep morasses
which abounded there, and which we had found it difficult to steer clear
of, even in daylight.

As the moon arose and the stars began to glimmer in the sky, I observed,
to my dismay, that all kinds of noxious creatures and creeping things
began to move about, and strange hissing sounds and low dismal hootings
and wails were heard at times indistinctly, as if the place were the
abode of evil spirits, who were about to wake up to indulge in their
midnight orgies.

"Oh!  Jack," said I, shuddering violently, as I stopped and seized my
companion by the arm.  "I can't tell what it is that fills me with an
unaccountable sensation of dread.  I--I feel as if we should never more
get out of this horrible swamp, or see again the blessed light of day.
See! see! what horrid creature is that?"

"Pooh! man," interrupted Jack, with a degree of levity in his tone which
surprised me much.  "It's only a serpent.  All these kind o' things are
regular cowards.  Only let them alone and they're sure to let you alone.
I should like above all things to tickle up one o' these brutes, and
let him have a bite at my wooden toe!  It would be rare fun, wouldn't
it, Bob, eh?  Come, let us push on, and see that you keep me straight,
old fellow!"

I made no reply for some time.  I was horrified at my comrade's levity
in such circumstances.  Then, as I heard him continue to chuckle and
remark in an undertone on the surprise the serpent would get on
discovering the exceeding toughness of his toe, it for the first time
flashed across my mind that his sufferings had deranged my dear
companion's intellect.

The bare probability of such a dreadful calamity was sufficient to put
to flight all my previous terrors.  I now cared nothing whatever for the
loathsome reptiles that wallowed in the swamps around me, and the quiet
glidings and swelterings of whose hideous forms were distinctly audible
in the stillness of approaching night.  My whole anxiety was centred on
Jack.  I thought that if I could prevail on him to rest he might
recover, and proposed that we should encamp; but he would not hear of
this.  He kept plunging on, staggering through brake and swamp, reedy
pond and quaking morass, until I felt myself utterly unable to follow
him a step farther.

Just at this point Jack stopped abruptly and said--

"Bob, my boy, we'll camp here."

It was a fearful spot.  Dark, dismal, and not a square foot of dry
ground.

"Here, Jack?"

"Ay, here."

"But it's--it's all wet.  Excuse me, my dear comrade, I've not yet
acquired the habit of sleeping in water."

"No more have I, Bob; we shall sleep on a fallen tree, my boy.  Did you
never hear of men sleeping in a swamp on the top of a log?  It's often
done, I assure you, and I mean to do it to-night.  See, here is a good
large one, three feet broad by twenty feet long, with lots of stumps of
broken branches to keep us from rolling off.  Come, let's begin."

We immediately began to make our arrangements for the night.  With the
aid of our clasp-knives we cut a quantity of leafy branches, and spread
them on the trunk of a huge prostrated tree, the half of which was sunk
in the swamp, but the other half was sufficiently elevated to raise us
well out of the water.  The bed was more comfortable than one would
suppose; and, being very tired, we lay down on it as soon as it was
made, and tried to sleep: having nothing to eat, we thought it well to
endeavour to obtain all the refreshment we could out of sleep.

We had not lain long, when I started up in a fright, and cried--

"Hallo!  Jack, what's that?  See, through the reeds; it creeps slowly.
Oh; horror! it comes towards us!"

Jack looked at it sleepily.  "It's an alligator," said he.  "If it
approaches too close, just wake me; but, pray, don't keep howling at
every thing that comes to peep at us."

Just at that moment, the hideous reptile drew near, and, opening its
jaws, let them come together with a snap!  Even Jack was not proof
against this.  He started up, and looked about for a defensive weapon.
We had nothing but our clasp-knives.  The alligator wallowed towards us.

"Oh for an axe!" gasped Jack.

The brute was within a few yards of us now.  I was transfixed with
horror.  Suddenly an idea occurred to me.

"Your leg, Jack, your leg!"

He understood me.  One sweep of his clasp-knife cut all the fastenings--
the next moment he grasped the toe in both hands, and, swaying the heavy
butt of the limb in the air, brought it down with all his force on the
skull of the alligator.  It rang like the sound of a blow on an empty
cask.  Again the limb was swayed aloft, and descended with extraordinary
violence on the extreme point of the alligator's snout.  There was a
loud crash, as if of small bones being driven in.  The animal paused,
put its head on one side, and turning slowly round waddled away into the
noisome recesses of its native swamp.

Scarcely had we recovered from the effects of this, when we heard in the
distance shouts and yells and the barking of dogs.  Crouching in our
nest we listened intently.  The sounds approached, but while those who
made them were yet at some distance we were startled by the sudden
approach of a dark object, running at full speed.  It seemed like a man,
or rather a huge ape, for it was black, and as it came tearing towards
us, running on its hind-legs, we could see its eyes glaring in the
moonlight, and could hear its labouring breath.  It was evidently hard
pressed by its pursuers, for it did not see what lay before it, and had
well-nigh run over our couch ere it observed Jack standing on one leg,
with the other limb raised in a threatening attitude above his head.  It
was too late to turn to avoid the blow.

Uttering a terrible cry the creature fell on its knees, and, trembling
violently, cried--

"Oh, massa! oh, massa, spare me!  Me no runaway agin.  Mercy, massa!
mercy!"

"Silence, you noisy villain," cried Jack, seizing the negro by the hair
of the head.

"Yis, massa," gasped the man, while his teeth chattered and the whites
of his eyes rolled fearfully.

"What are you?  Where d'ye come from?  Who's after ye?"

To these abrupt questions, the poor negro replied as briefly, that he
was a runaway slave, and that his master and bloodhounds were after him.

We had guessed as much, and the deep baying of the hounds convinced us
of the truth of his statement.

"Quick," cried Jack, dragging the black to the edge of our log, "get
under there; lie flat; keep still;" so saying he thrust the negro under
the branches that formed our couch.  We covered him well up and then sat
down on him.  Before we had well finished our task the foremost of the
bloodhounds came bounding towards us, with its eyeballs glaring and its
white fangs glittering in the dim light like glow-worms in a blood-red
cavern.  It made straight for the spot where the negro was concealed,
and would have seized him in another instant, had not Jack, with one
blow of his leg, beat in its skull.

"Shove him out of sight, Bob."

I seized the dead hound and obeyed, while my comrade prepared to receive
the second dog.  But that animal seemed more timid.  It swerved as the
blow was delivered, received on its haunches, and fled away howling in
another direction.

Jack at once laid down his leg and sat down on the negro, motioning me
to do the same.  Then pulling an old tobacco-pipe out of his pocket, he
affected to be calmly employed in filling it when the pursuers came up.
There were two of them, in straw hats and nankeen pantaloons, armed with
cudgels, and a more ruffianly pair of villains I never saw before or
since.

"Hallo! strangers," cried one, as they halted for a few moments on
observing us.  "Queer place to camp.  Fond o' water and dirt, I guess?"

"You seem fond o' dirt and not o' water, to judge from your faces,"
replied Jack, calmly, attempting to light his pipe, which was rather a
difficult operation, seeing that it was empty and he had no fire.  "Ah!
my light's out.  Could you lend us a match, friend?"

"No, we can't.  No time.  Hain't got none.  Did you see a nigger pass
this way?"

"Ha! you're after him, are you?" cried Jack, indignantly.  "Do you
suppose I'd tell you if I did?  Go and find him for yourselves."

The two men frowned fiercely at this, and appeared about to attack us.
But they changed their minds, and said, "Mayhap you'll tell us if ye saw
two hounds, then?"

"Yes, I did."

"Which way did they pass?"

"They haven't passed yet," replied Jack, with deep sarcasm, at the same
time quietly lifting his leg, and swaying it gently to and fro; "whether
they'll pass without a licking remains to be seen."

"Look 'ee, lads, we'll pay you for this," shouted the men as they turned
away.  "We've not time to waste now, _but we'll come back_."

I remonstrated with my friend.  "You're too rash, Jack."

"Why?  We don't need to fear _two_ men!"

"Ay, but there may be more in the woods."

My surmise was correct.  Half an hour after, the hound was heard
returning.  It came straight at us, followed by at least a dozen men.
Jack killed the dog with one blow, and felled the first man that came
up, but we were overwhelmed by numbers, and, in a much shorter time than
it takes to tell it, both of us were knocked into the mud and rendered
insensible.



STORY TWO, CHAPTER 9.

On recovering from the stunning effects of the blow that had felled me,
I found myself lying on a hard earthen floor, surrounded by deep
impenetrable darkness.

"Are you there, Jack?"  I sighed faintly.

"Ay, Bob, I'm here--at least, all o' me that's left.  I confess to you
that I do feel a queer sensation, as if the one half of my head were
absent and the other half a-wanting, while the brain lies exposed to the
atmosphere.  But I suppose that's impossible."

"Where are we, Jack?"

"We're in an outhouse, in the hands of planters; so I made out by what I
heard them say when I got my senses back; but I've no notion of what
part o' the world we're in.  Moreover, I don't care.  A man with only
one leg, no head, and an exposed brain, isn't worth caring about.  _I_
don't care for him--not a button."

"Oh, Jack, dear, don't speak like that--I can't stand it."

"You're lying down, ain't you?" inquired Jack.

"Yes."

"Then how d'you know whether you can stand it or not?"

I was so overcome, and, to say the truth, surprised, at my companion's
recklessness, that I could not reply.  I lay motionless on the hard
ground, meditating on our forlorn situation, when my thoughts were
interrupted by the grating sound of a key turning in a lock.  The door
of the hut opened, and four men entered, each bearing a torch, which
cast a brilliant glare over the hovel in which we were confined.  There
was almost nothing to be seen in the place.  It was quite empty.  The
only peculiar thing that I observed about it was a thick post, with iron
hooks fixed in it, which rose from the centre of the floor to the
rafters, against which it was nailed.  There were also a few
strange-looking implements hanging round the walls, but I could not at
first make out what these were intended for.  I now perceived that Jack
and I were chained to the wall.

Going to the four corners of the apartment, the four men placed their
four torches in four stands that seemed made for the purpose, and then,
approaching us, ranged themselves in a row before us.  Two of them I
recognised as being the men we had first seen in the swamp; the other
two were strangers.

"So, my bucks," began one of the former,--a hideous-looking man, whose
personal appearance was by no means improved by a closed eye, a
flattened nose, and a swelled cheek, the result of Jack's first flourish
of his wooden leg,--"so, we've got you, have we?  The hounds have got
you, eh?"

"So it appears," replied Jack, in a tone of quiet contempt, as he sat on
the ground with his back leaning against the wall, his hands clasped
above his solitary knee, and his thumbs revolving round each other
slowly.  "I say," continued Jack, an expression of concern crossed his
handsome countenance, "I'm afraid you're damaged, rather, about your
head-piece.  Your eye seems a little out of order, and, pardon me, but
your nose is a little too flat--just a little.  My poor fellow, I'm
quite sorry for you; I really am, though you _are_ a dog."

The man opened his solitary eye and stared with amazement at Jack, who
smiled, and, putting his head a little to the other side, returned the
stare with interest.

"You're a bold fellow," said the man, on recovering a little from his
surprise.

"I'm sorry," retorted Jack, "that I cannot return you the compliment."

I was horrified.  I saw that my poor friend, probably under the
influence of madness, had made up his mind to insult and defy our
captors to their teeth, regardless of consequences.  I tried to speak,
but my lips refused their office.  The man grinned horribly and gnashed
his teeth, while the others made as though they would rush upon us and
tear us limb from limb.  But their chief, for such the spokesman seemed
to be, restrained them.

"Hah!" he gasped, looking fiercely at Jack, and at the same time
pointing to the implements on the wall, "d'ye see these things?"

"Not being quite so blind as you are, I do."

"D'ye know what they're for?"

"Not being a demon, which you seem to be, I don't."

"Hah! these--are," (he spoke very slowly, and hissed the words out
between his teeth),--"torterers!"

"What?" inquired Jack, putting his head a little more to one side and
revolving his thumbs in a contrary direction, by way of variety.

"Torterers--man-torterers!  What d'ye twirl your thumbs like that for,
eh?"

"Because it reminds me how easily, if I were unchained and had on my
wooden leg, I could twirl you round your own neck, and cram your heels
into your own mouth, and ram you down your own throat, until there was
nothing of you left but the extreme ends of your shirt-collar sticking
out of your eyes."

The mention of this peculiarly complicated operation seemed to be too
much for the men: setting up a loud yell, they rushed upon Jack and
seized him.

"Quick--the screws!" cried the man with the flattened nose.

A small iron instrument was brought, Jack's thumbs inserted therein, and
the handle turned.  I heard a harsh, grating sound, and observed my poor
companion's face grow deadly pale and his lips turn blue.  But he
uttered no cry, and, to my surprise, he did not even struggle.

"Stop!"  I shouted in a voice of thunder.

The men looked round in surprise.  At that moment a great idea seemed to
fill my soul.  I cannot explain what it was.  To this day I do not know
what it was.  It was a mystery--an indescribable mystery.  I felt as one
might be supposed to feel whose spirit were capable of eating material
food, and had eaten too much.  It was awful!  Under the impulse of this
sensation, I again shouted--

"_Stop_!"

"Why?"

"I cannot tell you why, until you unscrew that machine.  Quick! it is of
the deepest, the most vital importance to yourselves."

The extreme earnestness of my voice and manner induced the men to comply
almost, I might say, in spite of themselves.

"Now, lad, what is it?  Mind, _your_ turn is coming; so don't trifle
with us."

"_Trifle_ with you!"  I said, in a voice so deep, and slow, and
solemn,--with a look so preternaturally awful,--that the four men were
visibly impressed.

"Listen!  I have a secret to tell you,--a secret that intimately
concerns yourselves.  It is a fearful one.  You would give all you
possess--your wealth, your very lives--rather than not know it.  I can
tell it to you; _but not now_.  All the tortures of the Inquisition
could not drag it out of me.  Nay, you need not smile.  If you did
torture me _before_ I told you this secret, that would have the effect
of rendering my information useless to you.  Nothing could then save
you.  I must be left alone with my friend for an hour.  Go!  You may
leave us chained; you may lock and bar your door; you may watch and
guard the house; but go, leave us.  Much--too much--valuable time has
been already lost.  Come back in one hour," (here I pulled out my
watch),--"in one hour and three minutes and five seconds, exactly; not
sooner.  Go! quick! as you value your lives, your families, your
property.  And hark, in your ear," (here I glared at them like a maniac,
and sank my voice to a deep hoarse whisper), "as you value the very
existence of your slaves, go, leave us instantly, and return at the hour
named!"

The men were evidently overawed by the vehemence of my manner and the
mysterious nature of my remarks.  Without uttering a word they withdrew,
and locked the door behind them.  Happily they left the torches.

As soon as they were gone I threw my arms round my comrade's neck, and,
resting my head on his shoulder, bemoaned our sad lot.

"Dear, dear Jack, have they hurt you?"

"Oh! nothing to speak of.  But I say, Bob, my boy, what on earth can
this monstrous secret be?  It must be something very tremendous?"

"My poor Jack," said I, regardless of his question, "your thumbs are
bruised and bleeding.  Oh that I should have lived to bring you to
this!"

"Come, come, Bob, enough of that.  They _are_ a little soreish, but
nothing to what they would have been had you not stopped them.  But, I
say, what _is_ this secret?  I'm dying to know.  My dear boy, you've no
idea how you looked when you were spouting like that.  You made my flesh
creep, I assure you.  Come, out with it; what's the secret?"

I felt, and no doubt looked, somewhat confused.

"Do you know, Jack," said I, solemnly, "I have no secret whatever!"

Jack gasped and stared--

"No secret, Bob!"

"Not the most distant shadow of one."

Jack pulled out his watch, and said in a low voice--

"Bob, my boy, we have just got about three-quarters of an hour to live.
When these villains come back, and find that you've been humbugging
them, they'll brain us on the spot, as sure as my name is John Brown and
yours is Robert Smith--romantic names, both of 'em; especially when
associated with the little romance in which we are now involved.  Ha!
ha! ha!"

I shrank back from my friend with the terrible dread, which had more
than once crossed my mind, that he was going mad.

"Oh, Jack, don't laugh, pray.  Could we not invent some secret to tell
them?"

"Not a bad idea," returned my friend, gravely.

"Well, let us think; what could we say?"

"Ay, that's the rub!  Suppose we tell them seriously that my wooden leg
is a ghost, and that it haunts those who ill-treat its master, giving
them perpetual bangs on the nose, and otherwise rendering their lives
miserable?"

I shook my head.

"Well, then, suppose we say we've been sent by the Queen of England to
treat with them about the liberation of the niggers at a thousand pounds
a head; one hundred paid down in gold, the rest in American
shin-plasters?"

"That would be a lie, you know, Jack."

"Come, that's good!  You're wonderfully particular about truth, for a
man that has just told such tremendous falsehoods about a secret that
doesn't exist."

"True, Jack," I replied, seriously, "I confess that I have lied; but I
did not mean to.  I assure you I had no notion of what I was saying.  I
think I was bewitched.  All your nonsense rolled out, as it were,
without my will.  Indeed, I did not mean to tell lies.  Yet I confess,
to my shame, that I did.  There is some mystery here, which I can by no
means fathom."

"Fathom or not fathom," rejoined my friend, looking at his watch again,
"you got me into this scrape, so I request you to get me out of it.  We
have exactly twenty-five minutes and a half before us now."

Jack and I now set to work in real earnest to devise some plan of
escape, or to invent some plausible secret.  But we utterly failed.
Minute after minute passed; and, as the end of our time drew near, we
felt less and less able to think of any scheme, until our brains became
confused with the terror of approaching and inevitable death, aggravated
by previous torture.  I trembled violently, and Jack became again
uproarious and sarcastic.  Suddenly he grew quiet, and I observed that
he began to collect a quantity of straw that was scattered about the
place.  Making a large pile of it, he placed it before us, and then
loosened one of the torches in its stand.

"There," said he, with a sigh of satisfaction, when all was arranged,
"we shall give our amiable friends a warm reception when they come."

"But they will escape by the door," said I, in much anxiety, "and we
only shall perish."

"Never mind that, Bob; we can only die once.  Besides, they sha'n't
escape; trust me for that."

As he spoke we heard approaching footsteps.  Presently the key turned in
the lock, and the door opened.



STORY TWO, CHAPTER 10.

Punctually, to a minute, our jailors returned, and once again drew up in
a row before us.

"Now, lads, wot have ye got to say?"

"My friends," began Jack, standing up and balancing himself on his one
leg as well as he could, at the same time speaking with the utmost
gravity and candour of expression, "my companion here in _temporary_
distress--for I feel that it will be but temporary--has devolved upon me
the interesting duty of making known to you the secret which has
burthened his own mind for some time, and which has had so impressive
and appropriate an effect upon yours.  But first I must request you to
lock the door, and hang the key on this nail at my elbow.  You hesitate.
Why?  I am in chains; so is my comrade.  We are two; you are four.  It
is merely a precaution to prevent the possibility of any one entering by
stealth, and overhearing what I say."

The man with the battered face locked the door, and hung up the key as
directed, merely remarking, with a laugh, that we were safe enough
anyhow, and that if we were humbugging him it would be worse for us in
the long-run.

"Come, now, out with yer secret," he added, impatiently.

"Certainly," answered Jack, with increased urbanity, at the same time
taking down the key, (which caused the four men to start), and gazing at
it in a pensive manner.  "The secret!  Ah! yes.  Well, it's a wonderful
one.  D'you know, my lads, there would not be the most distant chance of
your guessing it, if you were to try ever so much?"

"Well, but what is it?" cried one of the men, whose curiosity was now
excited beyond endurance.

"It is this," rejoined Jack, with slow deliberation, "that you four men
are--"

"Well," they whispered, leaning forward eagerly.

"The most outrageous and unmitigated asses we ever saw!  Ha!  I thought
it would surprise you.  Bob and I are quite agreed upon it.  Pray don't
open your eyes too wide, in case you should find it difficult to shut
them again.  Now, in proof of this great, and to you important truth,
let me show you a thing.  Do you see this torch," (taking it down), "and
that straw?"  (lifting up a handful), "Well, you have no idea what an
astonishing result will follow the application of the former to the
latter--see!"

To my horror, and evidently to the dismay of the men, who did not seem
to believe that he was in earnest, Jack Brown thrust the blazing torch
into the centre of the heap of straw.

The men uttered a yell, and rushing forward, threw themselves on the
smoking heap in the hope of smothering it at once.  But Jack applied the
torch quickly to various parts.  The flames leaped up!  The men rolled
off in agony.  Jack, who somehow had managed to break his chain, hopped
after them, showering the blazing straw on their heads, and yelling as
never mortal yelled before.  In two seconds the whole place was in a
blaze, and I beheld Jack actually throwing somersets with his one leg
over the fire and through the smoke; punching the heads of the four men
most unmercifully; catching up blazing handfuls of straw, and thrusting
them into their eyes and mouths in a way that quite overpowered me.  I
could restrain myself no longer.  I began to roar in abject terror!  In
the midst of this dreadful scene the roof fell in with a hideous crash,
and Jack, bounding through the smoking _debris_, cleared the walls and
vanished!

At the same moment I received a dreadful blow on the side, and _awoke_--
to find myself lying on the floor of my bedroom, and our man-servant
Edwards furiously beating the bed-curtains, which I had set on fire by
upsetting the candle in my fall.

"Why, Master Robert," gasped Edwards, sitting down and panting
vehemently, after having extinguished the flames, "wot have you been
a-doin' of?"  I was standing speechless in the midst of my upset chair,
table, and books, glaring wildly, when the man said this.

"Edwards," I replied, with deep solemnity, "the mystery's cleared up at
last.  _It has been all a dream_!"

"Wot's been all a dream?  You hain't bin a bed all night, for the clo'se
is never touched, an' its broad daylight.  Wot has bin up?"

I might have replied, that, according to his own statement, I had been
"up," but I did not.  I began gradually to believe that the dreadful
scenes I had witnessed were not reality; and an overpowering sense of
joy kept filling my heart as I continued to glare at the man until I
thought my chest would rend asunder.  Suddenly, and without moving hand,
foot, or eye, I gave vent to a loud, sharp, "Hurrah!"

Edwards started--"Eh?"

"Hurrah! hurrah! it's a DREAM!"

"Hallo!  I say, you know, come, this won't--"

"Hurrah!"

"Bless my 'art, Master Ro--"

Again I interrupted him by seizing my cap, swinging it round my head in
an ecstasy of delight, and uttering cheer upon cheer with such
outrageous vehemence, that Edwards, who thought me raving mad, crept
towards the door, intending to bolt.

He was prevented from carrying out his intention, and violently
overturned by the entrance of my father in dishabille.  I sprang
forward, plucked the spectacles off his nose, threw my arms round his
neck, and kissed him on both eyes.

"I won't run away now, father, no, no, no! it's all a dream--a horrid
dream! ha! ha! ha!"

"Bob, my dear boy!"

At this moment Jack, also in dishabille, rushed in.  "Hallo!  Bob,
what's all the row?"

I experienced a different, but equally powerful gush of feeling on
seeing my friend.  Leaving my father, I rushed towards him, and, falling
on his neck, burst into tears.  Yes, I confess it without shame.
Reader, if you had felt as I did, you would have done the same.

Jack led me gently to my bed, and, seating me on the edge of it, sat
down beside me.  I at once perceived from their looks that they all
thought me mad, and felt the necessity of calming me before taking more
forcible measures.  This tickled me so much that I laughed again
heartily, insomuch that Jack could not help joining me.  Suddenly a
thought flashed into my mind.  My heart leaped to my throat, and I
glanced downwards.  _It was there_!  I seized Jack's right leg, tumbled
him back into the bed, and laying the limb across my knee, grasped it
violently.

"All right!"  I shouted, "straight, firm, muscular, supple as ever."  I
squeezed harder.

Jack roared.  "I say, Bob, gently--"

"Hold your tongue," said I, pinching the thigh.  "Do you feel _that_?"

"Ho! ah! _don't_!"

"And that?"

"Stop him!  I say, my dear boy, have mercy?"  Jack tried to raise
himself, but I tilted him back, and, grasping the limb in both arms,
hugged it.

After breakfast Jack and I retired to my room, where, the weather being
unfavourable for our fishing excursion, I went all over it again in
detail.  After that I sent Jack off to amuse himself as he chose, and,
seizing a quire of foolscap, mended a pen, squared my elbows, and began
to write this remarkable account of the reason why I did not become a
sailor.

I now present it to the juvenile public, in the hope that it may prove a
warning to all boys who venture to entertain the notion of running away
from home and going to sea.



STORY THREE, CHAPTER 1.

PAPERS FROM NORWAY.

Norway, 2nd July, 1868.

Happening to be in Norway just now, and believing that young people feel
an interest in the land of the old sea-kings, I send you a short account
of my experiences.  Up to this date I verily believe that there is
nothing in the wide world comparable to this island coast of Norway.  At
this moment we are steaming through a region which the fairies might
rejoice to inhabit.  Indeed, the fact that there are no fairies here
goes far to prove that there are none anywhere.  What a thought!  No
fairies?  Why all the romance of childhood would be swept away at one
fell blow if I were to admit the idea that there are no fairies.  Perish
the matter-of-fact thought!  Let me rather conclude, that, for some
weighty, though unknown, reason, the fairies have resolved to leave this
island world uninhabited.

Fortune favours me.  I have just come on deck, after a two days' voyage
across the German Ocean, to find myself in the midst of innumerable
islands, a dead calm--so dead that it seems impossible that it should
ever come alive again--and scenery so wild, so gorgeous, that one ceases
to wonder where the Vikings of old got their fire, their romance, their
enterprise, and their indomitable pluck.  It is warm, too, and
brilliantly sunny.

On gazing at these tall grey rocks, with the bright green patches here
and there, and an occasional red-tiled hut, one almost expects to see a
fleet of daring rovers dash out of a sequestered bay, with their long
yellow hair, and big blue eyes, and broad shoulders--not to mention
broad-swords and ring-mail and battle-axes.  But one does not always see
what one expects.  The days of the sea-kings are gone by; and at this
moment, rowing out of one of these same sequestered bays, comes the boat
of a custom-house officer.  Yes, there is no doubt whatever about it.
There he comes, a plain-looking unromantic man in a foraging-cap, with a
blue surtout and brass buttons, about as like to a sea-king as a
man-of-war is to a muffin.

Of course, the scenery is indescribable--no scenery _is_ describable.
In order that my reader may judge of the truth of this statement, I
append the following description.

There are islands round us of every shape and size--all of them more or
less barren, the greater part of their surfaces being exposed grey rock.
Here and there may be seen, as I have already hinted, small patches of
bright green, and, sparsely scattered everywhere, are little red-roofed
wooden cottages--poor enough things the most of them; others,
gaudy-looking affairs with gable-ends, white faces, and windows bordered
with green.  All of these are, while I write, reflected in the water as
in a mirror, for there is not a breath of wind.  Over the islands on my
left are seen more islands extending out to sea.  On the right tower up
the blue hills of the interior of old Norway, and, although the weather
is excessively hot, many of these are covered with snow.  Everything is
light, and transparent, and thin, and blue, and glassy, and fairy-like,
and magically beautiful, and altogether delightful!  There: have you
made much of all that, good reader?  If you have, be thankful, for, as I
set out by saying, description of scenery, (at least to any good
purpose), is impossible.  The description of a man, however, is quite
another thing.  Here is our pilot.  He is a rugged man, with fair hair,
and a yellow face, and a clay-coloured chin, and a red nose.  He is
small in stature, and thin, insignificant in appearance, deeply
miserable in aspect.  His garments are black glazed oiled-cloth from
head to foot, and immensely too large for him, especially the waistcoat,
which is double-breasted, and seems to feel that his trousers are not a
sufficient covering for such a pair of brittle looking legs, for it
extends at least half way down to his knees.  The flap of his
sou'-wester, also, comes half way down his back.  He is a wonderful
object to look upon; yet he has the audacity, (so it seems to me), to
take us in charge, and our captain has the foolhardiness to allow him.

If one goes out of the beaten track of "routes" in Norway, one is apt to
get into difficulties of a minor kind.  I happen to be travelling just
now with a party of four friends, of whom three are ladies, the fourth a
jolly young fellow fresh from college.  A few days ago we had a few
unusual experiences--even for Norway.  On leaving Bergen we had made up
our minds, as the steamer did not sail to within about sixty miles of
our destination, to get ourselves and our luggage put down at a small
hamlet at the mouth of the Nord-fjord, and there engage two large boats
to transport us the remaining sixty miles up the fjord.

The ladies of our party valorously resolved to sit up all night to see
the magnificent island scenery, through which we were passing under the
influence of the charming and subdued daylight of midnight--for there is
no night here just now.

As for myself, being an old traveller, I have become aware that sleep is
essential to a comfortable and useful existence.  I therefore bade my
friends good-night, took a farewell look at the bright sky, and the
islands, and the sleeping sea, and went below to bed.

Next day we spent steaming along the island coast.

At one o'clock on the following morning we reached Moldeoen, where the
steamer landed us on a rock on which were a few acres of grass and half
a dozen wooden houses.  We had a good deal of luggage with us, also some
casks, cases, and barrels of provisions, and a piano-forte, as our place
of sojourn is somewhat out of the way and far removed from civilised
markets.  A few poverty-stricken natives stood on the rude stone pier as
we landed, and slowly assisted us to unload.  At the time I conceived
that the idiotical expression of their countenances was the result of
being roused at untimely hours; but our subsequent experience led me to
change my mind in regard to this.

In half an hour the steamer puffed away into the mysterious depths of
one of the dark-blue fjords, and we were left on a desolate island, like
Robinson Crusoe, with our worldly goods around us.  Most of the natives
we found so stupid that they could not understand our excellent Norse.
One fellow, in particular, might as well have been a piece of mahogany
as a man.  He stood looking at me with stolid imbecility while I was
talking to him, and made no reply when I had done.  In fact the motion
of his eyes, as he looked at me, alone betrayed the fact that he was
flesh and blood.

We soon found that two boats were not to be had; that almost all the men
of the place were away deep-sea fishing, and would not be back for many
hours, and that when they did come back they would be so tired as to
require at least half a day's rest ere they could undertake so long a
journey with us.  However, they sent a man off in a boat to search for
as many boatmen as could be found.  He was away an hour.  During this
period the few inhabitants who had turned out to see the steamer,
disappeared, and we were left alone on the beach.  There was no inn
here; no one cared for us; every place seemed dirty with the exception
of one house, which had a very lonely and deserted aspect, so we did not
venture to disturb it.

In the course of time the messenger returned.  No men were to be found
except three.  This was not a sufficient crew for even one large boat--
we required two.

A feeling that we were homeless wanderers came over us now, and each,
seating himself or herself on a box or a portmanteau, began to meditate.
Seeing this, the three men coolly lay down to rest in the bow of their
boat, and, drawing a sail over them, were quickly sound asleep.

The act suggested the idea that we could not do better, so we placed two
portmanteaus end to end, and thus made a couch about six feet long.  A
box, somewhat higher, placed at one end, served for a pillow, and on
this one of the ladies lay down, flat on her back of course, that being
the only possible position under the circumstances.  A shawl was thrown
over her, and she went to sleep like an effigy on a tombstone.

Another of the ladies tried a similar couch; but as boxes of equal
height could not be found, her position was not enviable.  The third
lady preferred an uneasy posture among the ribs and cordage of the boat,
and I lay down on the paving-stones of the quay, having found from
experience that, in the matter of beds, flatness is the most
indispensable of qualities, while hardness is not so awful as one might
suppose.  Where my comrade the collegian went to I know not.

Presently one of the ladies got up and said that this would never do;
that the next day was Sunday, and that we were in duty bound to do our
best to reach the end of our journey on Saturday night.  Thus
admonished, my comrade and I started up and resolved to become "men,"
that is, to act as boatmen.  No sooner said than done.  We roused the
three sleepers, embarked the most important half of our luggage; left
the other half in charge of the native with the idiotic countenance,
with directions to take care of it and have it forwarded as soon as
possible, and, at a little after two in the morning, pulled vigorously
away from the inhospitable shores of Moldeoen.

We started on our sixty-miles' journey hopefully, and went on our way
for an hour or so with spirit.  But when two hours had elapsed, my
companion and I began to feel the effects of rowing with unaccustomed
muscles rather severely, and gazed with envy at the three ladies who lay
coiled up in an indescribable heap of shawls and crinolines in the stern
of the boat, sound asleep.  They needed sleep, poor things, not having
rested for two days and two nights.

But my poor friend was more to be pitied than they.  Having scorned to
follow my example and take rest when he could get the chance, he now
found himself unexpectedly called on to do the work of a man when he
could not keep his eyes open.  When our third hour began, I saw that he
was fast asleep at the oar--lifting it indeed and dipping it in proper
time, but without pulling the weight of an ounce upon it.  I therefore
took it from him, and told him to take half an hour's nap, when I would
wake him up, and expect him to take the oars and give me a rest.

On being relieved he dropped his head on a sugar-cask, and was sound
asleep in two minutes!

I now felt drearily dismal.  I began to realise the fact that we had
actually pledged ourselves to work without intermission for the next
eighteen or twenty hours, of which two only had run, and I felt
sensations akin to what must have been those of the galley-slaves of
old.  In the midst of many deep thoughts and cogitations, during that
silent morning hour, when all were asleep around me save the three
mechanical-looking boatmen, and when the only sounds that met my ears
were the dip of the oars and the deep breathing, (to give it no other
name), of the slumberers--in the midst of many deep thoughts, I say, I
came to the conclusion that in my present circumstances the worst thing
I could do was to _think_!  I remembered the fable of the pendulum that
became so horrified at the thought of the number of ticks it had to
perform in a lengthened period of time, that it stopped in despair; and
I determined to "shut down" my intellect.

Soon after, my shoulders began to ache, and in process of time I felt a
sensation about the small of my back that induced the alarming belief
that the spinal marrow was boiling.  Presently my wrists became cramped,
and I felt a strong inclination to pitch the oars overboard, lie down in
the bottom of the boat, and howl!  But feeling that this would be
unmanly, I restrained myself.  Just then my companion in sorrow began to
snore, so I awoke him, and--giving him the oars--went to sleep.

From this period everything in the history of that remarkable day became
unconnected, hazy, and confusing.  I became to some extent mechanical in
my thoughts and actions.  I rowed and rested, and rowed again; I ate and
sang, and even laughed.  My comrade did the same, like a true Briton,
for he was game to the backbone.  But the one great, grand,
never-changing idea in the day was--pull--pull--pull!

We had hoped during the course of that day to procure assistance, but we
were unsuccessful.  We passed a number of fishermen's huts, but none of
the men would consent to embark with us.  At last, late that night, we
reached a small farm about two-thirds of the way up the fjord, where we
succeeded in procuring another large boat with a crew of five men.
Here, also, we obtained a cup of coffee; and while we were awaiting the
arrival of the boat I lay down on the pier and had a short nap.

None but those who have toiled for it can fully appreciate the blessing
of repose.  It was a clear, calm night when we resumed our boat journey.
The soft daylight threw a species of magical effect over the great
mountains and the glassy fjord, as we rowed away with steady and
vigorous strokes, and I lay down in the bow of the boat to sleep.  The
end of the mast squeezed my shoulder; the edge of a cask of beef
well-nigh stove in my ribs; the corner of a box bored a hole in the nape
of my neck--yet I went off like one of the famed seven sleepers, and my
friend, although stretched out beside me in similarly unpropitious
circumstances, began to snore in less than five minutes after he laid
down.

The last sounds I heard before falling into a state of oblivion were the
voices of our fair companions joining in that most beautiful of our
sacred melodies, the "Evening Hymn," ere they lay down to rest in the
stern of the boat.  Next morning at nine we arrived at the top of the
fjord, and at the end, for a time at least, of our journeying.



STORY THREE, CHAPTER 2.

SALMON-FISHING EXTRAORDINARY.

Norway, 14th July, 1868.

Yesterday was a peculiar day in my experience of salmon-fishing in
Norway.

The day was dull when I set out for the river, seven miles distant, in a
small boat, with a Norseman.  A seven-miles' pull was not a good
beginning to a day's salmon-fishing, the weight of my rod being quite
sufficient to try the arms without that; but there was no help for it.
Arrived there I got a native, named Anders, to carry the bag and gaff.

Anders is a fair youth, addicted to going about with his mouth open,
with a mild countenance and a turned-up nose.

"Good weather for fishing, Anders," said I, in Norse.

"Ya," said he, "megit god," (very good).

This was the extent of our conversation at that time, for we came
suddenly on the first pool in the river; and I soon perceived that,
although the weather was good enough, the river was so flooded as to be
scarcely fishable.

And now began a series of petty misfortunes that gradually reduced me to
a state of misery which was destined to continue throughout the greater
part of that day.  But Hope told me flattering tales--not to say
_stories_--for a considerable time; and it was not until I had fished
the third pool without seeing a fin that my heart began fairly to sink.
The day, too, had changed from a cloudy to a rainy one, and Anders' nose
began to droop, while his face elongated visibly.

Feeling much depressed, I sat down on a wet stone, in my wet garments,
and lunched off a moist biscuit, a piece of tongue, and a lump of
cheese.  This was consoling, as far as it went, but it did not go far.
The misty clouds obliterated the mountains, the rain drizzled from the
skies, percolated through the brim of my hat, trickled down my nose, and
dropped upon my luncheon.

"Now we shall go up the river, Anders," said I.  Anders assented, as he
would have done had I proposed going down the river, or across the
river, or anywhere in the wide world; for, as I said it in English, he
did not understand me.  Evidently he did not care whether he understood
me or not!

Up the river we went, to the best pool in it.  The place was a torrent--
unfishable--so deep that I could not wade in far enough to cast over the
spot where fish are wont to lie.  In making a desperate effort to get
far in, I went over the boot-top; and my legs and feet, which hitherto
had been dry, had immediate cause to sympathise with the rest of my
person.

Anders' face became longer than ever.  All the best pools in the river
were tried, but without success, and at last, towards evening, we turned
to retrace our steps down the valley.  On the way I took another cast
into the best pool--going deeper than the waist into the water in order
to cast over the "right spot."

The effort was rewarded.  I hooked a fish and made for the bank as fast
as possible.  My legs were like solid pillars, or enormous sausages, by
reason of the long boots being full to bursting with water.  To walk was
difficult; to run, in the event of the fish requiring me to do so,
impossible.  I therefore lay down on the bank and tossed both legs in
the air to let the water run out--holding on to the fish the while.  The
water did run out--it did more; it ran right along my backbone to the
nape of my neck; completing the saturation which the rain had hitherto
failed to accomplish.  But I had hooked a fish and heeded it not.

He was a small one; only ten pounds; so we got him out quickly and
without much trouble.  Yet this is not always the case.  Little fish are
often the most obstreperous and the most troublesome.  It was only last
week that I hooked and landed a twenty-eight-pound salmon, and he did
not give me half the trouble that I experienced from one which I caught
yesterday.  Well, having bagged him we proceeded on our homeward way,
Anders' face shortening visibly and his nose rising, while my own
spirits began to improve.  At another pool I tried again, and almost at
the first cast hooked an eighteen-pounder, which Anders gaffed after
about twenty-minutes' play.

We felt quite jolly now, although it rained harder than ever, and we
went on our way rejoicing--Anders' countenance reduced to its naturally
short proportions.

Presently we came to an old weir, or erection for catching fish as they
ascend the river, where lies one of our favourite pools.  The water was
running down it like a mill-race.  Pent up by the artificial dike, the
whole river in this place gushes down in a turbulent rapid.  There was
one comparatively smooth bit of water, which looked unpromising enough,
but being in hopeful spirits now, I resolved on a final cast.  About the
third cast a small trout rose at the fly.  The greedy little monsters
have a tendency to do this.  Many a small trout have I hooked with a
salmon fly as large as its own head.  Before I could draw the line to
cast again, the usual heavy _wauble_ of a salmon occurred near the fly.
It was followed by the _whir_ of the reel as the line flew out like
lightning, sawing right through the skin of my fingers, (which by the
way are now so seamed and scarred that writing is neither so easy nor so
pleasant as it used to be).

The burst that now ensued was sudden and tremendous!  The salmon flashed
across the pool, then up the pool, then down the pool.  It was evidently
bent on mischief.  My heart misgave me, for the place is a bad one--all
full of stumps and stones, with the furious rapid before mentioned just
below, and the rough unsteady stones of the old dike as an uncertain
path-way to gallop over should the fish go down the river.  I held on
stoutly for a few seconds as he neared the head of the rapid, but there
is a limit to the endurance of rods and tackle.  What made the matter
worse was that the dike on which I stood terminated in a small island,
to get from which to the shore necessitated swimming, and if he should
go down the big rapid there was little chance of his stopping until he
should reach the foot of it--far below this island.

All at once he turned tail and went down head first.  I let the line fly
now, keeping my fingers well clear of it.

"He's off, Anders!"  I shouted, as I took to my heels at full speed.

"Hurroo-hoo-oo!" yelled the Norseman, flying after me with the gaff.

How I managed to keep my footing in the rush over the broken dike I know
not.  It is a marvel to me.  The bushes on the island overhung the
water, the earth having been cut away by the force of the rapid.  I
tried to pull up because they were too thick to crash through; but the
fish willed it otherwise.  The line was getting low on the reel; the rod
bent double; presently I had to straighten it out--in another moment I
was in the water over the boots, which filled of course in a moment.
But this did not impede me as long as I was in deep water.

I was forsaken at this point by Anders, who sought and found a safe
passage to the mainland, where he stood gazing at me with his eyes
blazing and his mouth wide open.

I soon reached the end of the island, to my horror, for I had not
previously taken particular note of the formation of the land there.  A
gulf of water of five or six yards broad of unknown depth lay between me
and that shore, by which in the natural course of things I should have
followed my fish as far as he chose.  The rapid itself looked less
tremendous than this deep black hole.  I hesitated, but the salmon did
not.  Still down he went.

"Now, then," thought I, "hole or rapid?"

The question was settled for me, for before I could decide, I was hauled
into the rapid.  No doubt I was a more than half-willing captive.
Anyhow, willing or not willing, down I went.  Ah! what a moment of ease
and relief from exertion was that when I went a little deeper than the
waist, and found myself borne pleasantly along on tip-toe, as light as
one of those beautiful balls with which juveniles--in these highly
favoured days--are wont to sport in the fields!

And oh--ho-o! how my spirit seemed to gush out through my mouth and
nose, or out at the top of my head, when the cold water encircled my
neck as I lost my footing altogether, and struck out with my right hand,
endeavouring the while to support my rod in the left!

I heard Anders gasp at this point; but I saw him not.  In another second
my knees came into violent contact with a rock, (alas! every motion of
my body, as I now write, reminds me painfully of that crash!)
Immediately after this I was sprawling up the bank, having handed the
rod to Anders to hold, while I tossed my legs again in the air, to get
rid of the water which weighed me down like lead.  How earnestly I
wished that I could tear these boots off and fling them away!  But there
was no time for that.  On regaining my legs I seized the rod, and found
that the salmon had brought up in an eddy created by the tail of a
gravel-bank in the centre of the river between two rapids.

"Good," I gasped, blandly.

Anders smiled.

Presently I found that it was the reverse of good, for, when I tried to
wind in the line and move the fish, I perceived that the resistance
offered was not like that of a salmon, but a stump!

"I do believe he's gone!"  I exclaimed.

Anders became grave.

"No fish there," said I, gloomily.

Anders' face elongated.

"He has wound the line round a stump, and broken off," said I, in
despair.

Woe, of the deepest profundity, was depicted on Anders' visage!

For full five minutes I tried every imaginable device, short of breaking
the rod, to clear the line--in vain.  Then I gave the rod to Anders to
hold, and, taking the gaff with me, I went sulkily up the river, and
again taking to the water, made my way to the head of the gravel-bank,
over which I walked slowly, oppressed in spirit, and weighed down by
those abominable boots which had once more filled to overflowing!
Water-proof boots are worse than useless for this sort of work.  But
happily this is not the usual style of thing that one experiences in
Norwegian fishing.  It is only occasionally that one enjoys a treat of
the kind.

In the middle of the gravel-bank the water was only three inches deep,
so I lay down on my back and, once again elevating my ponderous legs in
the air, allowed a cataract of water to flow over me.  Somewhat
lightened, I advanced into the hole.  It was deeper than I thought.  I
was up to the middle in a moment, and sighed as I thought of the boots--
full again.  Before I reached the line the water was up to my shoulders;
but it was the still water of the eddy.  I soon caught the line and
found that it was round a stump, as I had feared.  With a heavy heart I
eased it off--when lo! a tug sent an electric shock through my benumbed
body, and I saw the salmon not three yards off, at the bottom of the
pool!  He also saw me, and darting in terror from side to side wound the
line round me.  I passed it over my head, however, and was about to let
it go to allow Anders to play it out and finish the work, when the
thought occurred that I might play it myself, by running the line
through my fingers when he should pull, and hauling in when he should
stop.  I tried this successfully.  In half a minute more I drew him to
within a yard of my side, gaffed him near the tail, and carried him up
the gravel-bank under my arm.

He was not a large fish after all--only thirteen pounds.  Nevertheless,
had he been fresh, it would have been scarcely possible for me to hold
his strong slippery body.  Even when exhausted he gave me some trouble.
Gaining the shallowest part of the bank I fell on my knees, crammed the
fingers of my left hand into his mouth and gills, and held him down
while I terminated his career with a stone.  Thereafter I fixed the hook
more securely in his jaw, and, launching him into the rapid, left Anders
to haul him out, while I made the best of my way to the shore.

This is about the roughest experience I have yet had of salmon-fishing
in Norway.

The season this year bids fair to be a pretty good one.  I have had
about twelve days' fishing, and have caught sixteen fish, weighing
together two hundred and seventy-six pounds, two of them being
twenty-eight-pounders.

THE END.





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