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Title: Scottish sketches
Author: Barr, Amelia Edith Huddleston, 1831-1919
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 "Scottish sketches" ***

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Team



SHORT STORY

Scottish Sketches

By
AMELIA E. BARR


New York
Dodd, Mead and Company
1898



COPYRIGHT, 1883,
BY
AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY.



CONTENTS

CRAWFORD'S SAIR STRAIT           7

JAMES BLACKIE'S REVENGE        101

FACING HIS ENEMY               163

ANDREW CARGILL'S CONFESSION    241

ONE WRONG STEP                 267

LILE DAVIE                     309



Crawford's Sair Strait.



CRAWFORD'S SAIR STRAIT.


CHAPTER I.


Alexander Crawford sat reading a book which he studied frequently with
a profound interest. Not the Bible: that volume had indeed its place
of honor in the room, but the book Crawford read was a smaller one; it
was stoutly bound and secured by a brass lock, and it was all in
manuscript. It was his private ledger, and it contained his bank
account. Its contents seemed to give him much solid satisfaction; and
when at last he locked the volume and replaced it in his secretary, it
was with that careful respect which he considered due to the
representative of so many thousand pounds.

He was in a placid mood, and strangely inclined to retrospection.
Thoughtfully fingering the key which locked up the record of his
wealth, he walked to the window and looked out. It was a dreary
prospect of brown moor and gray sea, but Crawford loved it. The bare
land and the barren mountains was the country of the Crawfords. He had
a fixed idea that it always had been theirs, and whenever he told
himself--as he did this night--that so many acres of old Scotland were
actually his own, he was aggressively a Scotchman.

"It is a bonnie bit o' land," he murmured, "and I hae done as my
father Laird Archibald told me. If we should meet in another warld
I'll be able to gie a good account o' Crawford and Traquare. It is
thirty years to-night since he gave me the ring off his finger, and
said, 'Alexander, I am going the way o' all flesh; be a good man, and
_grip tight_.' I hae done as he bid me; there is £80,000 in the
Bank o' Scotland, and every mortgage lifted. I am vera weel pleased
wi' mysel' to-night. I hae been a good holder o' Crawford and
Traquare."

His self-complacent reflections were cut short by the entrance of his
daughter. She stood beside him, and laid her hand upon his arm with a
caressing gesture. No other living creature durst have taken that
liberty with him; but to Crawford his daughter Helen was a being apart
from common humanity. She was small, but very lovely, with something
almost Puritanical in her dainty, precise dress and carefully snooded
golden hair.

"Father!"

"Helen, my bird."

"Colin is coming home. I have just had a letter from him. He has taken
high honors in Glasgow. We'll both be proud of Colin, father."

"What has he done?"

"He has written a prize poem in Latin and Greek, and he is second in
mathematics."

"Latin and Greek! Poor ghostlike languages that hae put off flesh and
blood lang syne. Poetry! Warse than nonsense! David and Solomon hae
gien us such sacred poetry as is good and necessary; and for sinfu'
love verses and such vanities, if Scotland must hae them, Robert Burns
is mair than enough. As to mathematics, there's naething against them.
A study that is founded on figures is to be depended upon; it has nae
flights and fancies. You ken what you are doing wi' figures. When is
this clever fellow to be here?"

"He is coming by the afternoon packet to-morrow. We must send the
carriage to meet it, for Colin is bringing a stranger with him. I came
to ask you if I must have the best guest-room made ready."

"Wha for?"

"He is an English gentleman, from London, father."

"And you would put an Englishman in the room where the twa last
Stuarts slept? I'll not hear tell o' it. I'm not the man to lift a
quarrel my fathers dropped, but I'll hae no English body in Prince
Charlie's room. Mind that, noo! What is the man's name?"

"Mr. George Selwyn."

"George Selwyn! There's nae Scotch Selwyns that I ken o'. He'll be
Saxon altogether. Put him in the East room."

Crawford was not pleased at his son bringing any visitor. In the first
place, he had important plans to discuss and carry out, and he was
impatient of further delay. In the second, he was intensely jealous of
Helen. Every young man was a probable suitor, and he had quite decided
that Farquharson of Blair was the proper husband for her. Crawford and
Blair had stood shoulder to shoulder in every national quarrel, and a
marriage would put the two estates almost in a ring fence.

But he went the next day to meet the young men. He had not seen his
son for three years, and the lad was an object very near and dear to
his heart. He loved him tenderly as his son, he respected him highly
as the future heir of Crawford and Traquare. The Crawfords were a very
handsome race; he was anxious that this, their thirteenth
representative, should be worthy, even physically, of his ancestors.
He drew a long sigh of gratification as young Colin, with open hands,
came up to him. The future laird was a noble-looking fellow, a dark,
swarthy Highlandman, with glowing eyes, and a frame which promised in
a few years to fill up splendidly.

His companion was singularly unlike him. Old Crawford had judged
rightly. He was a pure Saxon, and showed it in his clear, fresh
complexion, pale brown hair, and clear, wide-open blue eyes. But there
was something about this young man which struck a deeper and wider
sympathy than race--he had a heart beating for all humanity. Crawford
looked at him physically only, and he decided at once, "There is no
fear of Helen." He told himself that young Farquharson was six inches
taller and every way a far "prettier man." Helen was not of this
opinion. No hero is so fascinating to a woman as the man mentally and
spiritually above her, and whom she must love from a distance; and if
Crawford could have known how dangerous were those walks over the
springy heather and through the still pine woods, Mr. Selwyn would
have taken them far more frequently alone than he did.

But Crawford had other things to employ his attention at that time,
and indeed the young English clergyman was far beyond his mental and
spiritual horizon; he could not judge him fairly. So these young
people walked and rode and sailed together, and Selwyn talked like an
apostle of the wrongs that were to be righted and the poor perishing
souls that were to be redeemed. The spiritual warfare in which he was
enlisted had taken possession of him, and he spoke with the martial
enthusiasm of a young soldier buckling on his armor.

Helen and Colin listened in glowing silence, Helen showing her
sympathy by her flushing cheeks and wet eyes, and Colin by the
impatient way in which he struck down with his stick the thistles by
the path side, as if they were the demons of sin and ignorance and
dirt Selwyn was warring against. But after three weeks of this
intercourse Crawford became sensible of some change in the atmosphere
of his home. When Selwyn first arrived, and Crawford learned that he
was a clergyman in orders, he had, out of respect to the office,
delegated to him the conduct of family worship. Gradually Selwyn had
begun to illustrate the gospel text with short, earnest remarks, which
were a revelation of Bible truth to the thoughtful men and women who
heard them.

The laird's "exercises" had often been slipped away from, excuses had
been frequent, absentees usual; but they came to listen to Selwyn with
an eagerness which irritated him. In our day, the gospel of Christ has
brought forth its last beautiful blossom--the gospel of humanity. Free
schools, free Bibles, Tract and City Missions, Hospitals and Clothing
Societies, loving helps of all kinds are a part of every church
organization. But in the time of which I am writing they were unknown
in country parishes, they struggled even in great cities for a feeble
life.

The laird and his servants heard some startling truths, and the laird
began to rebel against them. A religion of intellectual faith, and
which had certain well-recognized claims on his pocket, he was willing
to support, and to defend, if need were; but he considered one which
made him on every hand his brother's keeper a dangerously democratic
theology.

"I'll hae no socialism in my religion, any more than I'll hae it in my
politics, Colin," he said angrily. "And if yon Mr. Selwyn belongs to
what they call the Church o' England, I'm mair set up than ever wi'
the Kirk o' Scotland! God bless her!"

They were sitting in the room sacred to business and to the memory of
the late Laird Archibald. Colin was accustomed to receive his father's
opinions in silence, and he made no answer to this remark. This time,
however, the laird was not satisfied with the presumed assent of
silence; he asked sharply, "What say ye to that, son Colin?"

"I say God bless the Kirk of Scotland, father, and I say it the more
heartily because I would like to have a place among those who serve
her."

"What are ye saying now?"

"That I should like to be a minister. I suppose you have no
objections."

"I hae vera great objections. I'll no hear tell o' such a thing.
Ministers canna mak money, and they canna save it. If you should mak
it, that would be an offence to your congregation; if ye should save
it, they would say ye ought to hae gien it to the poor. There will be
nae Dominie Crawford o' my kin, Colin. Will naething but looking down
on the warld from a pulpit sarve you?"

"I like art, father. I can paint a little, and I love music."

"Art! Painting! Music! Is the lad gane daft? God has gien to some men
wisdom and understanding, to ithers the art o' playing on the fiddle
and painting pictures. There shall be no painting, fiddling Crawford
among my kin, Colin."

The young fellow bit his lip, and his eyes flashed dangerously beneath
their dropped lids. But he said calmly enough,

"What is your own idea, father? I am twenty-two, I ought to be doing a
man's work of some kind."

"Just sae. That is warld-like talk. Now I'll speak wi' you anent a
grand plan I hae had for a long time." With these words he rose, and
took from his secretary a piece of parchment containing the plan of
the estate. "Sit down, son Colin, and I'll show you your inheritance."
Then he went carefully over every acre of moor and wood, of moss and
water, growing enthusiastic as he pointed out how many sheep could be
grazed on the hills, what shooting and fishing privileges were worth,
etc. "And the best is to come, my lad. There is coal on the estate,
and I am going to open it up, for I hae the ready siller to do it."

Colin sat silent; his cold, dissenting air irritated the excited laird
very much.

"What hae ye got to say to a' this, Colin?" he asked proudly, "for
you'll hae the management o' everything with me. Why, my dear son, if
a' goes weel--and it's sure to--we'll be rich enough in a few years to
put in our claim for the old Earldom o' Crawford, and you may tak your
seat in the House o' Peers yet. The old chevalier promised us a
Dukedom," he said sadly, "but I'm feared that will be aboon our
thumb--"

"Father, what are you going to do with the clansmen? Do you think
Highlandmen who have lived on the mountains are going to dig coal? Do
you imagine that these men, who, until a generation or two ago, never
handled anything but a claymore, and who even now scorn to do aught
but stalk deer or spear salmon, will take a shovel and a pickaxe and
labor as coal-miners? There is not a Crawford among them who would do
it. I would despise him if he did."

"There is a glimmer o' good sense in what you say, Colin. I dinna
intend any Crawford to work in my coal mine. Little use they would be
there. I'll send to Glasgow for some Irish bodies."

"And then you will have more fighting than working on the place; and
you'll have to build a Roman-catholic chapel, and have a Roman priest
in Crawford, and you ken whether the Crawfords will thole _that_ or
not."

"As to the fighting, I'll gie them no chance. I'm going to send the
Crawfords to Canada. I hae thought it all out. The sheilings will do
for the others; the land I want for sheep grazing. They are doing
naething for themsel's, and they are just a burden to me. It will be
better for them to gang to Canada. I'll pay their passage, and I'll
gie them a few pounds each to start them. You must stand by me in this
matter, for they'll hae to go sooner or later."

"That is a thing I cannot do, father. There is not a Laird of Crawford
that was not nursed on some clanswoman's breast. We are all kin. Do
you think I would like to see Rory and Jean Crawford packed off to
Canada? And there is young Hector, my foster-brother! And old Ailsa,
your own foster-sister! Every Crawford has a right to a bite and a sup
from the Crawford land."

"That is a' bygane nonsense. Your great-grandfather, if he wanted
cattle or meal, could just take the clan and go and harry some
Southern body out o' them. That is beyond our power, and it's an unca
charge to hae every Crawford looking to you when hunting and fishing
fails. They'll do fine in Canada. There is grand hunting, and if they
want fighting, doubtless there will be Indians. They will hae to go,
and you will hae to stand by me in this matter."

"It is against my conscience, sir. I had also plans about these poor,
half-civilized, loving kinsmen of ours. You should hear Selwyn talk of
what we might do with them. There is land enough to give all who want
it a few acres, and the rest could be set up with boats and nets as
fishers. They would like that."

"Nae doubt. But I don't like it, and I wont hae it. Mr. Selwyn may hae
a big parish in London, but the Crawfords arena in his congregation. I
am king and bishop within my ain estate, Colin." Then he rose in a
decided passion and locked up again the precious parchment, and Colin
understood that, for the present, the subject was dismissed.



CHAPTER II.


At the very time this conversation was in progress, one strangely
dissimilar was being carried on between George Selwyn and Helen
Crawford. They were sitting in the sweet, old-fashioned garden and
Selwyn had been talking of the work so dear to his heart, but a
silence had fallen between them. Then softly and almost hesitatingly
Helen said "Mr. Selwyn, I cannot help in this grand evangel, except
with money and prayers. May I offer you £300? It is entirely my own,
and it lies useless in my desk. Will you take it?"

"I have no power to refuse it. 'You give it to God, durst I say no?'
But as I do not return at once, you had better send it in a check to
our treasurer." Then he gave her the necessary business directions,
and was writing the address of the treasurer when the laird stopped in
front of them.

"Helen, you are needed in the house," he said abruptly; and then
turning to Selwyn, he asked him to take a walk up the hill. The young
man complied. He was quite unconscious of the anger in the tone of the
request. For a few yards neither spoke; then the laird, with an
irritable glance at his placid companion, said, "Mr. Selwyn,
fore-speaking saves after-speaking. Helen Crawford is bespoke for
young Farquharson of Blair, and if you have any hopes o' wiving in my
house--"

"Crawford, thank you for your warning, but I have no thoughts of
marrying any one. Helen Crawford is a pearl among women; but even if I
wanted a wife, she is unfit for my helpmate. When I took my curacy in
the East End of London I counted the cost. Not for the fairest of the
daughters of men would I desert my first love--the Christ-work to
which I have solemnly dedicated my life."

His voice fell almost to a whisper, but the outward, upward glance of
the inspired eyes completely disconcerted the aggressive old
chieftain. His supposed enemy, in some intangible way, had escaped
him, and he felt keenly his own mistake. He was glad to see Colin
coming; it gave him an opportunity of escaping honorably from a
conversation which had been very humiliating to him. He had a habit
when annoyed of seeking the sea-beach. The chafing, complaining waves
suited his fretful mood, and leaving the young men, he turned to the
sea, taking the hillside with such mighty strides that Selwyn watched
him with admiration and astonishment.

"Four miles of that walking will bring him home in the most amiable of
moods," said Colin. And perhaps it would, if he had been left to the
sole companionship of nature. But when he was half way home he met
Dominie Tallisker, a man of as lofty a spirit as any Crawford who ever
lived. The two men were close friends, though they seldom met without
disagreeing on some point.

"Weel met, dominie! Are you going to the Keep?"

"Just so, I am for an hour's talk wi' that fine young English
clergyman you hae staying wi' you."

"Tallisker, let me tell you, man, you hae been seen o'er much wi' him
lately. Why, dominie! he is an Episcopal, and an Arminian o' the vera
warst kind."

"Hout, laird! Arminianism isna a contagious disease. I'll no mair tak
Arminianism from the Rev. George Selwyn than I'll tak Toryism fra
Laird Alexander Crawford. My theology and my politics are far beyond
inoculation. Let me tell you that, laird."

"Hae ye gotten an argument up wi' him, Tallisker? I would like weel to
hear ye twa at it."

"Na, na; he isna one o' them that argues. He maks downright
assertions; every one o' them hits a body's conscience like a
sledge-hammer. He said that to me as we walked the moor last night
that didna let me sleep a wink."

"He is a vera disagreeable young man. What could he say to you? You
have aye done your duty."

"I thought sae once, Crawford. I taught the bairns their catechism; I
looked weel to the spiritual life o' young and old; I had aye a word
in season for all. But maybe this I ought to hae done, and not left
the other undone."

"You are talking foolishness, Tallisker, and that's a thing no usual
wi' you."

"No oftener wi' me nor other folk. But, laird, I feel there must be a
change. I hae gotten my orders, and I am going to obey them. You may
be certain o' that."

"I didna think I would ever see Dominie Tallisker taking orders from a
disciple o' Arminius--and an Englishman forbye!"

"I'll tak my orders, Crawford, from any messenger the Lord chooses to
send them by. And I'll do this messenger justice; he laid down no law
to me, he only spak o' the duty laid on his own conscience; but my
conscience said 'Amen' to his--that's about it. There has been a
breath o' the Holy Ghost through the Church o' England lately, and the
dry bones o' its ceremonials are being clothed upon wi' a new and
wonderfu' life."

"Humff!" said the laird with a scornful laugh as he kicked a pebble
out of his way.

"There is a great outpouring at Oxford among the young men, and though
I dinna agree wi' them in a' things, I can see that they hae gotten a
revelation."

"Ou, ay, the young ken a' things. It is aye young men that are for
turning the warld upside down. Naething is good enough for them."

The dominie took no notice of the petulant interruption. "Laird," he
said excitedly, "it is like a fresh Epiphany, what this young Mr.
Selwyn says--the hungry are fed, the naked clothed, the prisoners
comforted, the puir wee, ragged, ignorant bairns gathered into homes
and schools, and it is the gospel wi' bread and meat and shelter and
schooling in its hand. That was Christ's ain way, you'll admit that.
And while he was talking, my heart burned, and I bethought me of a
night-school for the little herd laddies and lasses. They could study
their lessons on the hillside all day, and I'll gather them for an
hour at night, and gie them a basin o' porridge and milk after their
lessons. And we ought not to send the orphan weans o' the kirk to the
warkhouse; we ought to hae a hame for them, and our sick ought to be
better looked to. There is many another good thing to do, but we'll
begin wi' these, and the rest will follow."

The laird had listened thus far in speechless indignation. He now
stood still, and said,

"I'll hae you to understand, Dominie Tallisker, that I am laird o'
Crawford and Traquare, and I'll hae nae such pliskies played in either
o' my clachans."

"If you are laird, I am dominie. You ken me weel enough to be sure if
this thing is a matter o' conscience to me, neither king nor kaiser
can stop me. I'd snap my fingers in King George's face if he bid me
'stay,' when my conscience said 'go,'" and the dominie accompanied the
threat with that sharp, resonant fillip of the fingers that is a
Scotchman's natural expression of intense excitement of any kind.

"King George!" cried the laird, in an ungovernable temper, "there is
the whole trouble. If we had only a Charles Stuart on the throne there
would be nane o' this Whiggery."

"There would be in its place masses, and popish priests, and a few
private torture-chambers, and whiles a Presbyterian heretic or twa
burned at the Grass-market. Whiggery is a grand thing when it keeps
the Scarlet Woman on her ain seven hills. Scotland's hills and braes
can do weel, weel without her."

This speech gave the laird time to think. It would never do to quarrel
with Tallisker. If he should set himself positively against his scheme
of sending his clan to Canada it would be almost a hopeless one; and
then he loved and respected his friend. His tall, powerful frame and
his dark, handsome face, all aglow with a passionate conviction of
right, and an invincible determination to do it, commanded his
thorough admiration. He clasped his hands behind his back and said
calmly,

"Tallisker, you'll be sorry enough for your temper erelong. You hae
gien way mair than I did. Ye ken how you feel about it."

"I feel ashamed o' mysel', laird. You'll no lay the blame o' it to my
office, but to Dugald Tallisker his ain sel'. There's a deal o'
Dugald Tallisker in me yet, laird; and whiles he is o'er much for
Dominie Tallisker."

They were at the gate by this time, and Crawford held out his hand and
said,

"Come in, dominie."

"No; I'll go hame, laird, and gie mysel' a talking to. Tell Mr. Selwyn
I want to see him."



CHAPTER III.


Alas, how often do Christ's words, "I come not to bring peace, but a
sword," prove true. George Selwyn went away, but the seed he had
dropped in this far-off corner of Scotland did not bring forth
altogether the peaceable fruits of righteousness. In fact, as we have
seen, it had scarcely begun to germinate before the laird and the
dominie felt it to be a root of bitterness between them. For if
Crawford knew anything he knew that Tallisker would never relinquish
his new work, and perhaps if he yielded to any reasonable object
Tallisker would stand by him in his project.

He did not force the emigration plan upon his notice. The summer was
far advanced; it would be unjustifiable to send the clan to Canada at
the beginning of winter. And, as it happened, the subject was opened
with the dominie in a very favorable manner. They were returning from
the moors one day and met a party of six men. They were evidently
greatly depressed, but they lifted their bonnets readily to the chief.
There was a hopeless, unhappy look about them that was very painful.

"You have been unsuccessful on the hills, Archie, I fear."

"There's few red deer left," said the man gloomily. "It used to be
deer and men; it is sheep and dogs now."

After a painful silence the dominie said,

"Something ought to be done for those braw fellows. They canna ditch
and delve like an Irish peasant. It would be like harnessing stags in
a plough."

Then Crawford spoke cautiously of his intention, and to his delight
the dominie approved it.

"I'll send them out in Read & Murray's best ships. I'll gie each head
o' a family what you think right, Tallisker, and I'll put £100 in your
hands for special cases o' help. And you will speak to the men and
their wives for me, for it is a thing I canna bear to do."

But the men too listened eagerly to the proposition. They trusted the
dominie, and they were weary of picking up a precarious living in
hunting and fishing, and relying on the chief in emergencies. Their
old feudal love and reverence still remained in a large measure, but
they were quite sensible that everything had changed in their little
world, and that they were out of tune with it. Some few of their
number had made their way to India or Canada, and there was a vague
dissatisfaction which only required a prospect of change to develop.
As time went on, and the laird's plan for opening the coal beds on his
estate got known, the men became impatient to be gone.

In the early part of March two large ships lay off the coast waiting
for them, and they went in a body to Crawford Keep to bid the chief
"farewell." It was a hard hour, after all, to Crawford. The great
purpose that he had kept before his eyes for years was not at that
moment sufficient. He had dressed himself in his full chieftain's suit
to meet them. The eagle's feather in his Glengary gave to his great
stature the last grace. The tartan and philibeg, the garters at his
knee, the silver buckles at his shoulder, belt, and shoon, the
jewelled mull and dirk, had all to these poor fellows in this last
hour a proud and sad significance. As he stood on the steps to welcome
them, the wind colored his handsome face and blew out the long black
hair which fell curling on his shoulders.

Whatever they intended to say to him, when they thus saw him with
young Colin by his side they were unable to say. They could only lift
their bonnets in silence. The instincts and traditions of a thousand
years were over them; he was at this moment the father and the chief
of their deepest affection. One by one they advanced to him. He
pressed the hands of all. Some of the older men--companions of his
youth in play and sport--he kissed with a solemn tenderness. They went
away silently as they came, but every heart was full and every eye was
dim. There was a great feast for them in the clachan that night, but
it was a sombre meeting, and the dominie's cheerful words of advice
and comfort formed its gayest feature.

The next day was calm and clear. The women and children were safely on
board soon after noon, and about four o'clock the long boats left the
shore full of men. Tallisker was in the front one. As they pulled away
he pointed silently to a steep crag on the shingly beach. The chief
stood upon it. He waved his bonnet, and then the long-pent feelings of
the clan found vent in one long, pitiful Gallic lament, _O hon a rie!
O hon a rie!_ For a few moments the boats lay at rest, no man was able
to lift an oar. Suddenly Tallisker's clear, powerful voice touched the
right chord. To the grand, plaintive melody of St. Mary's he began the
125th Psalm,

  "They in the Lord that firmly trust
    shall be like Sion hill,
  Which at no time can be removed,
    but standeth ever still.

  As round about Jerusalem
    the mountains stand alway;
  The Lord his folk doth compass so
    from henceforth and for aye."

And thus singing together they passed from their old life into a new
one.

Colin had been indignant and sorrowful over the whole affair. He and
Helen were still young enough to regret the breaking of a tie which
bound them to a life whose romance cast something like a glamour over
the prosaic one of more modern times. Both would, in the
unreasonableness of youthful sympathy, have willingly shared land and
gold with their poor kinsmen; but in this respect Tallisker was with
the laird.

"It was better," he said, "that the old feudal tie should be severed
even by a thousand leagues of ocean. They were men and not bairns, and
they could feel their ain feet;" and then he smiled as he remembered
how naturally they had taken to self-dependence. For one night, in a
conversation with the oldest men, he said, "Crawfords, ye'll hae to
consider, as soon as you are gathered together in your new hame, the
matter o' a dominie. Your little flock in the wilderness will need a
shepherd, and the proper authorities maun be notified."

Then an old gray-headed man had answered firmly, "Dominie, we will
elect our ain minister. We hae been heart and soul, every man o' us,
with the Relief Kirk; but it is ill living in Rome and striving wi'
the pope, and sae for the chief's sake and your sake we hae withheld
our testimony. But we ken weel that even in Scotland the Kirk willna
hirple along much farther wi' the State on her back, and in the
wilderness, please God, we'll plant only a Free Kirk."

The dominie heard the resolve in silence, but to himself he said
softly, "_They'll do! They'll do!_ They'll be a bit upsetting at
first, maybe, but they are queer folk that have nae failings."

A long parting is a great strain; it was a great relief when the ships
had sailed quite out of sight. The laird with a light heart now turned
to his new plans. No reproachful eyes and unhappy faces were there to
damp his ardor. Everything promised well. The coal seam proved to be
far richer than had been anticipated, and those expert in such matters
said there were undoubted indications of the near presence of iron
ore. Great furnaces began to loom up in Crawford's mental vision, and
to cast splendid lustres across his future fortunes.

In a month after the departure of the clan, the little clachan of
Traquare had greatly changed. Long rows of brick cottages, ugly and
monotonous beyond description, had taken the place of the more
picturesque sheilings. Men who seemed to measure everything in life
with a two-foot rule were making roads and building jetties for
coal-smacks to lie at. There was constant influx of strange men and
women--men of stunted growth and white faces, and who had an insolent,
swaggering air, intolerably vulgar when contrasted with the Doric
simplicity and quiet gigantic manhood of the mountain shepherds.

The new workers were, however, mainly Lowland Scotchmen from the
mining districts of Ayrshire. The dominie had set himself positively
against the introduction of a popish element and an alien people; and
in this position he had been warmly upheld by Farquharson and the
neighboring proprietors. As it was, there was an antagonism likely to
give him full employment. The Gael of the mountains regarded these
Lowland "working bodies" with something of that disdain which a rich
and cultivated man feels for kin, not only poor, but of contemptible
nature and associations. The Gael was poor truly, but he held himself
as of gentle birth. He had lived by his sword, or by the care of
cattle, hunting, and fishing. Spades, hammers, and looms belonged to
people of another kind.

Besides this great social gulf, there were political and religious
ones still wider. That these differences were traditional, rather than
real, made no distinction. Man have always fought as passionately for
an idea as for a fact. But Dominie Tallisker was a man made for great
requirements and great trusts. He took in the position with the eye of
a general. He watched the two classes passing down the same streets as
far apart as if separated by a continent, and he said, with a very
positive look on his face, "These men are brethren and they ought to
dwell in unity; and, God helping Dugald Tallisker, they will do it,
yes, indeed, they will."



CHAPTER IV.


In a year after the departure of the clan, the clachans of Crawford
and Traquare had lost almost all traces of their old pastoral
character. The coal pit had been opened, and great iron furnaces built
almost at its mouth. Things had gone well with Crawford; the seam had
proved to be unusually rich; and, though the iron had been found, not
on his land, but on the extreme edge of Blair, he was quite satisfied.
Farquharson had struck hands with him over it, and the Blair iron ore
went to the Crawford furnaces to be smelted into pig iron.

Crawford had grown younger in the ardent life he had been leading. No
one would have taken him to be fifty-five years old. He hardly thought
of the past; he only told himself that he had never been as strong and
clear-headed and full of endurance, and that it was probable he had
yet nearly half a century before him. What could he not accomplish in
that time?

But in every earthly success there is a Mordecai sitting in its gate,
and Colin was the uncomfortable feature in the laird's splendid hopes.
He had lounged heartlessly to and from the works; the steady,
mechanical routine of the new life oppressed him, and he had a
thorough dislike for the new order of men with whom he had to come in
contact. The young Crawfords had followed him about the hills with an
almost canine affection and admiration. To them he was always "the
young laird." These sturdy Ayrshire and Galloway men had an old
covenanting rebelliousness about them. They disputed even with Dominie
Tallisker on church government; they sang Robert Burns' most
democratic songs in Crawford's very presence.

Then Colin contrasted them physically with the great fellows he had
been accustomed to see striding over the hills, and he despised the
forms stunted by working in low seams and unhealthy vapors and the
faces white for lack of sunshine and grimy with the all-pervading coal
dust. The giants who toiled in leather masks and leather suits before
the furnaces suited his taste better. When he watched them moving
about amid the din and flames and white-hot metal, he thought of
Vulcan and Mount Ætna, and thus threw over them the enchantments of
the old Roman age. But in their real life the men disappointed him.
They were vulgar and quarrelsome; the poorest Highland gillie had a
vein of poetry in his nature, but these iron-workers were painfully
matter of fact; they could not even understand a courtesy unless it
took the shape of a glass of whiskey.

It was evident to the laird that the new life was very distasteful to
his heir; it was evident to the dominie that it was developing the
worst sides of Colin's character. Something of this he pointed out to
Helen one morning. Helen and he had lately become great friends,
indeed, they were co-workers together in all the new labors which the
dominie's conscience had set him. The laird had been too busy and
anxious about other matters to interfere as yet with this alliance,
but he promised himself he would do so very soon. Helen Crawford was
not going to nurse sick babies and sew for all the old women in the
clachan much longer. And the night-school! This was particularly
offensive to him. Some of the new men had gone there, and Crawford was
sure he was in some way defrauded by it. He thought it impossible to
work in the day and study an hour at night. In some way he suffered by
it.

"If they werna in the schoolroom they would be in the Change House,"
Tallisker had argued.

But the laird thought in his heart that the whiskey would be more to
his advantage than the books. Yet he did not like to say so; there was
something in the dominie's face which restrained him. He had opened
the subject in that blustering way which always hides the white
feather somewhere beneath it, and Tallisker had answered with a solemn
severity,

"Crawford, it seems to be your wark to mak money; it is mine to save
souls. Our roads are sae far apart we arena likely to run against each
other, if we dinna try to."

"But I don't like the way you are doing your wark; that is all,
dominie."

"Mammon never did like God's ways. There is a vera old disagreement
between them. A man has a right to consider his ain welfare, Crawford,
but it shouldna be mair than the twa tables o' the law to him."

Now Tallisker was one of those ministers who bear their great
commission in their faces. There was something almost imperial about
the man when he took his stand by the humblest altar of his duty.
Crawford had intended at this very time to speak positively on the
subject of his own workers to Tallisker. But when he looked at the
dark face, set and solemn and full of an irresistible authority, he
was compelled to keep silence. A dim fear that Tallisker would say
something to him which would make him uncomfortable crept into his
heart. It was better that both the dominie and conscience should be
quiet at present.

Still he could not refrain from saying,

"You hae set yoursel' a task you'll ne'er win over, dominie. You could
as easy mak Ben-Cruchan cross the valley and sit down by Ben-Appin as
mak Gael and Lowlander call each other brothers."

"We are told, Crawford, that mountains may be moved by faith; why not,
then, by love? I am a servant o' God. I dinna think it any presumption
to expect impossibilities."

Still it must be acknowledged that Tallisker looked on the situation
as a difficult one. The new workers to a man disapproved of the
Established Church of Scotland. Perhaps of all classes of laborers
Scotch colliers are the most theoretically democratic and the most
practically indifferent in matters of religion. Every one of them had
relief and secession arguments ready for use, and they used them
chiefly as an excuse for not attending Tallisker's ministry. When
conscience is used as an excuse, or as a weapon for wounding, it is
amazing how tender it becomes. It pleased these Lowland workers to
assert a religious freedom beyond that of the dominie and the shepherd
Gael around them. And if men wish to quarrel, and can give their
quarrel a religious basis, they secure a tolerance and a respect which
their own characters would not give them. Tallisker might pooh-pooh
sectional or political differences, but he was himself far too
scrupulous to regard with indifference the smallest theological
hesitation.

One day as he was walking up the clachan pondering these things, he
noticed before him a Highland shepherd driving a flock to the hills.
There was a party of colliers sitting around the Change House; they
were the night-gang, and having had their sleep and their breakfast,
were now smoking and drinking away the few hours left of their rest.
Anything offering the chance of amusement was acceptable, and Jim
Armstrong, a saucy, bullying fellow from the Lonsdale mines, who had
great confidence in his Cumberland wrestling tricks, thought he saw in
the placid indifference of the shepherd a good opportunity for
bravado.

"Sawnie, ye needna pass the Change House because we are here. We'll no
hurt you, man."

The shepherd was as one who heard not.

Then followed an epithet that no Highlander can hear unmoved, and the
man paused and put his hand under his plaid. Tallisker saw the
movement and quickened his steps. The word was repeated, with the
scornful laugh of the group to enforce it. The shepherd called his
dog--

"Keeper, you tak the sheep to the Cruchan corrie, and dinna let are o'
them stray."

The dumb creature looked in his face assentingly, and with a sharp
bark took the flock charge. Then the shepherd walked up to the group,
and Jim Armstrong rose to meet him.

"Nae dirks," said an old man quietly; "tak your hands like men."

Before the speech was over they were clinched in a grasp which meant
gigantic strength on one side, and a good deal of practical bruising
science on the other. But before there was an opportunity of testing
the quality of either the dominie was between the men. He threw them
apart like children, and held each of them at arm's length, almost as
a father might separate two fighting schoolboys. The group watching
could not refrain a shout of enthusiasm, and old Tony Musgrave jumped
to his feet and threw his pipe and his cap in the air.

"Dugald," said the dominie to the shepherd, "go your ways to your
sheep. I'll hae nae fighting in my parish.

"Jim Armstrong, you thrawart bully you, dinna think you are the only
man that kens Cumberland cantrips. I could fling you mysel' before you
could tell your own name;" and as if to prove his words, he raised an
immense stone, that few men could have lifted, and with apparent ease
flung it over his right shoulder. A shout of astonishment greeted the
exploit, and Tony Musgrave--whose keen, satirical ill-will had
hitherto been Tallisker's greatest annoyance--came frankly forward and
said, "Dominie, you are a guid fellow! Will you tak some beer wi' me?"

Tallisker did not hesitate a moment.

"Thank you, Tony. If it be a drink o' good-will, I'll tak it gladly."

But he was not inclined to prolong the scene; the interference had
been forced upon him. It had been the only way to stop a quarrel which
there would have been no healing if blood had once been shed. Yet he
was keenly alive to the dignity of his office, and resumed it in the
next moment. Indeed, the drinking of the glass of good-will together
was rather a ceremonial than a convivial affair. Perhaps that also was
the best. The men were silent and respectful, and for the first time
lifted their caps with a hearty courtesy to Tallisker when he left
them.

"Weel! Wonders never cease!" said Jim Armstrong scornfully. "To see
Tony Musgrave hobnobbing wi' a black-coat! The deil must 'a' had a
spasm o' laughing."

"Let the deil laugh," said Tony, with a snap of his grimy fingers.
Then, after a moment's pause, he added, "Lads, I heard this morning
that the dominie's wheat was spoiling, because he couldna get help to
cut it. I laughed when I heard it; I didna ken the man then. I'm
going to-morrow to cut the dominie's wheat; which o' you will go wi'
me?"

"I!" and "I!" and "I!" was the hearty response; and so next day
Traquare saw a strange sight--a dozen colliers in a field of wheat,
making a real holiday of cutting the grain and binding the sheaves, so
that before the next Sabbath it had all been brought safely home.



CHAPTER V.


But during these very days, when the dominie and his parishioners were
drawing a step closer to each other, the laird and his son were
drifting farther apart. Crawford felt keenly that Colin took no
interest in the great enterprises which filled his own life. The fact
was, Colin inherited his mother's, and not his father's temperament.
The late Lady Crawford had been the daughter of a Zetland Udaller, a
pure Scandinavian, a descendant of the old Vikings, and she inherited
from them a poetic imagination and a nature dreamy and inert, though
capable of rousing itself into fits of courage that could dare the
impossible. Colin would have led a forlorn hope or stormed a battery;
but the bare ugliness and monotony of his life at the works fretted
and worried him.

Tallisker had repeatedly urged a year's foreign travel. But the laird
had been much averse to the plan. France, in his opinion, was a hotbed
of infidelity; Italy, of popery; Germany, of socialistic and
revolutionary doctrines. There was safety only in Scotland. Pondering
these things, he resolved that marriage was the proper means to
"settle" the lad. So he entered into communication with an old friend
respecting his daughter and his daughter's portion; and one night he
laid the result before Colin.

Colin was indignant. He wanted to marry no woman, and least of all
women, Isabel McLeod.

"She'll hae £50,000!" said the laird sententiously.

"I would not sell myself for £50,000."

"You'd be a vera dear bargain at half the price to any woman, Colin.
And you never saw Isabel. She was here when you were in Glasgow. She
has the bonniest black e'en in Scotland, and hair like a raven's
wing."

"When I marry, sir, I shall marry a woman like my mother: a woman with
eyes as blue as heaven, and a face like a rose. I'll go, as you did,
to Shetland for her."

"There isna a house there fit for you to take a wife from, Colin, save
and except the Earl's ain; and his daughter, the Lady Selina, is near
thirty years old."

"There are my second cousins, Helga and Saxa Vedder."

Then the laird was sure in his own heart that Tallisker's advice was
best. France and Italy were less to be feared than pretty, portionless
cousins. Colin had better travel a year, and he proposed it. It hurt
him to see how eagerly his heir accepted the offer. However, if the
thing was to be done, it was best done quickly. Letters of credit
suitable to the young laird's fortune were prepared, and in less than
a month he was ready to begin his travels. It had been agreed that he
should remain away one year, and if it seemed desirable, that his stay
might even be lengthened to two. But no one dreamed that advantage
would be taken of this permission.

"He'll be hamesick ere a twelvemonth, laird," said the dominie; and
the laird answered fretfully, "A twelvemonth is a big slice o' life to
fling awa in far countries."

The night before Colin left he was walking with his sister on the
moor. A sublime tranquillity was in the still September air. The
evening crimson hung over the hills like a royal mantle. The old
church stood framed in the deepest blue. At that distance the long
waves broke without a sound, and the few sails on the horizon looked
like white flowers at sea.

"How beautiful is this mansion of our father!" said Helen softly. "One
blushes to be caught worrying in it, and yet, Colin, I fear to have
you go away."

"Why, my dear?"

"I have a presentiment that we shall meet no more in this life. Nay,
do not smile; this strange intelligence of sorrow, this sudden
trembling in a soul at rest, is not all a delusion. We shall part
to-morrow, Colin. Oh, darling brother, where shall we meet again?"

He looked into the fair, tender face and the eager, questioning eyes,
and found himself unable to reply.

"Remember, Colin! I give you a rendezvous in heaven."

He clasped her hand tightly, and they walked on in a silence that
Colin remembered often afterwards. Sometimes, in dreams, to the very
end of his life, he took again with Helen that last evening walk, and
his soul leaned and hearkened after hers. "I give you a rendezvous in
heaven!"

In the morning they had a few more words alone. She was standing
looking out thoughtfully into the garden. "Are you going to London?"
she asked suddenly.

"Yes."

"You will call on Mr. Selwyn?"

"I think so."

"Tell him we remember him--and try to follow, though afar off, the
example he sets us."

"Well, you know, Helen, I may not see him. We never were chums. I have
often wondered why I asked him here. It was all done in a moment. I
had thought of asking Walter Napier, and then I asked Selwyn. I have
often thought it would have pleased me better if I had invited
Walter."

"Sometimes it is permitted to us to do things for the pleasure of
others, rather than our own. I have often thought that God--who
foresaw the changes to take place here--sent Mr. Selwyn with a message
to Dominie Tallisker. The dominie thinks so too. Then how glad you
ought to be that you asked him. He came to prepare for those poor
people who as yet were scattered over Ayrshire and Cumberland. And
this thought comforts me for you, Colin. God knows just where you are
going, dear, and the people you are going to meet, and all the events
that will happen to you."

The events and situations of life resemble ocean waves--every one is
alike and yet every one is different. It was just so at Crawford Keep
after Colin left it. The usual duties of the day were almost as
regular as the clock, but little things varied them. There were
letters or no letters from Colin; there were little events at the
works or in the village; the dominie called or he did not call.
Occasionally there were visitors connected with the mines or furnaces,
and sometimes there were social evening gatherings of the neighboring
young people, or formal state dinners for the magistrates and
proprietors who were on terms of intimacy with the laird.

For the first year of Colin's absence, if his letters were not quite
satisfactory, they were condoned. It did not please his father that
Colin seemed to have settled himself so completely in Rome, among
"artists and that kind o' folk," and he was still more angry when
Colin declared his intention of staying away another year. Poor
father! How he had toiled and planned to aggrandize this only son, who
seemed far more delighted with an old coin or an old picture than with
the great works which bore his name. In all manner of ways he had made
it clear to his family that in the dreamy, sensuous atmosphere of
Italian life he remembered the gray earnestness of Scottish life with
a kind of terror.

Tallisker said, "Give him his way a little longer, laird. To bring him
hame now is no use. People canna thole blue skies for ever; he'll be
wanting the moors and the misty corries and the gray clouds erelong."
So Colin had another year granted him, and his father added thousand
to thousand, and said to his heart wearily many and many a time, "It
is all vexation of spirit."

At the end of the second year Crawford wrote a most important letter
to his son. There was an opening for the family that might never come
again. All arrangements had been made for Colin to enter the coming
contest for a seat in Parliament. The Marquis of B---- had been spoken
to, and Crawford and he had come to an understanding Crawford did not
give the particulars of the "understanding," but he told Colin that
his "political career was assured." He himself would take care of the
works. Political life was open to his son, and if money and influence
could put him in the House of Peers, money should not be spared.

The offer was so stupendous, the future it looked forward to so great,
Crawford never doubted Colin's proud, acquiescence. That much he owed
to a long line of glorious ancestors; it was one of the obligations of
noble birth; he would not dare to, neglect it.

Impatiently he waited Colin's answer. Indeed, he felt sure Colin would
answer such a call in person. He was disappointed when a letter came;
he had not known, till then, how sure he had felt of seeing his son.
And the letter was a simple blow to him. Very respectfully, but very
firmly, the proposition was declined. Colin said he knew little of
parties and cabals, and was certain, at least, that nothing could
induce him to serve under the Marquis of B----. He could not see his
obligations to the dead Crawfords as his father did. He considered his
life his own. It had come to him with certain tastes, which he meant
to improve and gratify, for only in that way was life of any value to
him.

The laird laid the letter in Tallisker's hands without a word. He was
almost broken-hearted. He had not yet got to that point where
money-making for money's sake was enough. Family aggrandizement and
political ambition are not the loftiest motives of a man's life, but
still they lift money-making a little above the dirty drudgery of mere
accumulation. Hitherto Crawford had worked for an object, and the
object, at least in his own eyes, had dignified the labor.

In his secret heart he was angry at Colin's calm respectability. A
spendthrift prodigal, wasting his substance in riotous living, would
have been easier to manage than this young man of æsthetic tastes,
whose greatest extravagance was a statuette or a picture. Tallisker,
too, was more uneasy than he would confess. He had hoped that Colin
would answer his father's summons, because he believed now that the
life he was leading was unmanning him. The poetical element in his
character was usurping an undue mastery. He wrote to Colin very
sternly, and told him plainly that a poetic pantheism was not a whit
less sinful than the most vulgar infidelity.

Still he advised the laird to be patient, and by no means to answer
Colin's letter in a hurry. But only fixed more firmly the angry
father's determination. Colin must come home and fulfil his wish, or
he must time remain away until he returned as master. As his son, he
would know him no more; as the heir of Crawford, he would receive at
intervals such information as pertained to that position. For the old
man was just in his anger; it never seemed possible to him to deprive
Colin of the right of his heritage. To be the 13th Laird of Crawford
was Colin's birthright; he fully recognized his title to the honor,
and, as the future head of the house, rendered him a definite respect.

Of course a letter written in such a spirit did no good whatever.
Nothing after it could have induced Colin to come home. He wrote and
declined to receive even the allowance due to him as heir of Crawford.
The letter was perfectly respectful, but cruelly cold and polite, and
every word cut the old man like a sword.

For some weeks he really seemed to lose all interest in life. Then the
result Tallisker feared was arrived at. He let ambition go, and
settled down to the simple toil of accumulation.



CHAPTER VI.


But Crawford had not a miser's nature. His house, his name, his
children were dearer, after all, to him than gold. Hope springs
eternal in the breast; in a little while he had provided himself with
a new motive: he would marry Helen to young Farquharson, and endow her
so royally that Farquharson would gladly take her name. There should
be another house of Crawford of which Helen should be the root.

Helen had been long accustomed to consider Hugh Farquharson as her
future husband. The young people, if not very eager lovers, were at
least very warm and loyal friends. They had been in no hurry to finish
the arrangement. Farquharson was in the Scot's Greys; it was
understood that at his marriage he should resign his commission, so,
though he greatly admired Helen, he was in no hurry to leave the
delights of metropolitan and military life.

But suddenly Crawford became urgent for the fulfilment of the
contract, and Helen, seeing how anxious he was, and knowing how sorely
Colin had disappointed him, could no longer plead for a delay. And yet
a strange sadness fell over her; some inexplicable symptoms as to her
health led her to fear she would never be Farquharson's wife; the gay
wedding attire that came from Edinburgh filled her with a still
sorrow; she could not appropriate any part of it as her own.

One day when the preparations were nearly finished, Tallisker came up
to the Keep. Helen saw at once that he was moved by some intense
feeling, and there was a red spot on his cheeks which she had been
accustomed to associate with the dominie's anger. The laird was
sitting placidly smoking, and drinking toddy. He had been telling
Helen of the grand house he was going to build on the new estate he
had just bought; and he was now calmly considering how to carry out
his plans on the most magnificent scale, for he had firmly determined
there should be neither Keep nor Castle in the North Country as
splendid as the new Crawfords' Home.

He greeted Tallisker with a peculiar kindness, and held his hand
almost lovingly. His friendship for the dominie--if he had known
it--was a grain of salt in his fast deteriorating life. He did not
notice the dominie's stern preoccupation, he was so full of his own
new plans. He began at once to lay them before his old friend; he had
that very day got the estimates from the Edinburgh architect.

Tallisker looked at them a moment with a gathering anger. Then he
pushed them passionately away, saying in a voice that was almost a
sob, "I darena look at them, laird; I darena look at them! Do you ken
that there are fourteen cases o' typhus in them colliers' cottages you
built? Do you remember what Mr. Selwyn said about the right o'
laborers to pure air and pure water? I knew he was right then, and
yet, God forgive me! I let you tak your ain way. Six little bits o'
bairns, twa women, and six o' your pit men! You must awa to Athol
instanter for doctors and medicines and brandy and such things as are
needfu'. There isna a minute to lose, laird."

Helen had risen while he was speaking with a calm determination that
frightened her father. He did not answer Tallisker, he spoke to her:
"Where are you going, Helen?"

"Down to the village; I can do something till better help is got."

"Helen Crawford, you'll bide where you are! Sit still, and I'll do
whatever Tallisker bids me."

Then he turned angrily to the dominie.

"You are aye bringing me ill tidings. Am I to blame if death comes?"

"Am I my brother's keeper? It's an auld question, laird. The first
murderer of a' asked it. I'm bound to say you are to blame. When you
gie fever an invite to your cotters' homes, you darena lay the blame
on the Almighty. You should hae built as Mr. Selwyn advised."

"Dominie, be quiet. I'm no a bairn, to be hectored o'er in this way.
Say what I must do and I'll do it--anything in reason--only Helen.
I'll no hae her leave the Keep; that's as sure as deathe. Sit down,
Helen. Send a' the wine and dainties you like to, but don't you stir a
foot o'er the threshold."

His anger was, in its way, as authoritative as the dominie's. Helen
did as she was bid, more especially as Tallisker in this seconded the
laird.

"There is naething she could do in the village that some old crone
could not do better."

It was a bitterly annoying interruption to Crawford's pleasant dreams
and plans. He got up and went over to the works. He found things very
bad there. Three more of the men had left sick, and there was an
unusual depression in the village. The next day the tidings were
worse. He foresaw that he would have to work the men half time, and
there had never been so many large and peremptory orders on hand. It
was all very unfortunate to him.

Tallisker's self-reproaches were his own; he resented them, even while
he acknowledged their truth. He wished he had built as Selwyn advised;
he wished Tallisker had urged him more. It was not likely he would
have listened to any urging, but it soothed him to think he would. And
he greatly aggravated the dominie's trouble by saying,

"Why did ye na mak me do right, Tallisker? You should hae been mair
determined wi' me, dominie."

During the next six weeks the dominie's efforts were almost
superhuman. He saw every cottage whitewashed; he was nurse and doctor
and cook. The laird saw him carrying wailing babies and holding raving
men in his strong arms. He watched over the sick till the last ray of
hope fled; he buried them tenderly when all was over. The splendor of
the man's humanity had never shown itself until it stood erect and
feared not, while the pestilence that walked in darkness and the
destruction that wasted at noon-day dogged his every step.

The laird, too, tried to do his duty. Plenty of people are willing to
play the Samaritan without the oil and the twopence, but that was not
Crawford's way. Tallisker's outspoken blame had really made him
tremble at his new responsibilities; he had put his hand liberally in
his pocket to aid the sufferers. Perhaps at the foundation of all lay
one haunting thought--Helen! If he did what he could for others, Helen
would safer. He never audibly admitted that Helen was in any danger,
but--but--if there should be danger, he was, he hoped, paying a ransom
for her safety.

In six weeks the epidemic appeared to have spent itself. There was a
talk of resuming full hours at the works. Twenty new hands had been
sent for to fill vacant places. Still there was a shadow on the
dominie's face, and he knew himself there was a shadow on his heart.
Was it the still solemnity of death in which he had lately lived so
much? Or was it the shadow of a coming instead of a departing sorrow?

One afternoon he thought he would go and sit with Helen a little
while. During his close intimacy with the colliers he had learned many
things which would change his methods of working for their welfare;
and of these changes he wished to speak with Helen. She was just going
for a walk on the moor, and he went with her. It was on such a
September evening she had walked last with Colin. As they sauntered
slowly, almost solemnly home, she remembered it. Some impulse far
beyond her control or understanding urged her to say, "Dominie, when I
am gone I leave Colin to you."

He looked at her with a sudden enlightenment. Her face had for a
moment a far-away death-like predestination over it. His heart sank
like lead as he looked at her.

"Are you ill, Helen?"

"I have not been well for two weeks."

He felt her hands; they were burning with fever.

"Let us go home," she said, and then she turned and gave one long,
mournful look at the mountains and the sea and the great stretch of
moorland. Tallisker knew in his heart she was bidding farewell to
them. He had no word to say. There are moods of the soul beyond all
human intermeddling.

The silence was broken by Helen. She pointed to the mountains. "How
steadfast they are, how familiar with forgotten years! How small we
are beside them!"

"I don't think so," said Tallisker stoutly. "Mountains are naething to
men. How small is Sinai when the man Moses stands upon it!"

Then they were at the Keep garden. Helen pulled a handful of white and
golden asters, and the laird, who had seen them coming, opened the
door wide to welcome them. Alas! Alas! Though he saw it not, death
entered with them. At midnight there was the old, old cry of despair
and anguish, the hurrying for help, where no help was of avail, the
desolation of a terror creeping hour by hour closer to the
hearthstone.

The laird was stricken with a stony grief which was deaf to all
consolation. He wandered up and down wringing his hands, and crying
out at intervals like a man in mortal agony. Helen lay in a stupor
while the fever burned her young life away. She muttered constantly
the word "Colin;" and Tallisker, though he had no hope that Colin
would ever reach his sister, wrote for the young laird.

Just before the last she became clearly, almost radiantly conscious.
She would be alone with her father, and the old man, struggling
bravely with his grief, knelt down beside her. She whispered to him
that there was a paper in the jewel-box on her table. He went and got
it. It was a tiny scrap folded crosswise. "Read it, father, when I am
beyond all pain and grief. I shall trust you, dear." He could only bow
his head upon her hands and weep.

"Tallisker!" she whispered, and he rose softly and called him. The two
men stood together by her side.

"Is it well, my daughter?" said the dominie, with a tone of tender
triumph in his voice. "You fear not, Helen, the bonds of death?"

"I trust in those pierced hands which have broken the bonds of death.
Oh! the unspeakable riches!"

These were her last words. Tallisker prayed softly as the mystical
gray shadow stole over the fair, tranquil face. It was soon all over.

  "She had outsoared the shadow of our night,
  And that unrest which men misname delight."

The bridal robes were folded away, the bridegroom went back to his
regiment, the heartsore father tried to take up his life again. But it
seemed to him to have been broken in two by the blow; and besides
this, there was a little strip of paper which lay like a load upon his
heart. It was the paper he had taken from Helen's dying fingers, and
it contained her last request:

"Father, dear, dear father, whatever you intended to give me--I pray
you--give it to God's poor.

"HELEN."



CHAPTER VII.


The dominie had felt certain that Colin would answer his letter in
person, but after a long silence he received it back again. Colin had
left Rome, and left no trace behind him. The laird knew that Tallisker
had written, and he too had been hoping and expecting. But he received
the news of his son's disappearance without remark. Life for some time
was a dreary weight to him, he scarce felt as if he could lift it
again. Hope after hope had failed him. He had longed so to be a rich
man, had God in his anger granted him his wish? And was no other thing
to prosper with him? All the same he clung to his gold with a deeper
affection. When all other vices are old avarice is still young. As
ambition and other motives died out, avarice usurped their places, and
Tallisker saw with a feeling half angry, and half pitiful, the laird's
life dwindling down to this most contemptible of all aims. He kept his
duty as proprietor constantly before the laird, but he no longer
seemed to care that people should say, "Crawford's men have the best
laborers' cottages in Scotland."

"I hae made up my mind, Tallisker," said fretfully, "the warld thinks
more o' the who mak money than o' those who gie it awa." Certainly
this change was not a sudden one; for two years after Helen's death it
was coming slowly forward, yet there were often times when Tallisker
hoped that it was but a temptation, and would be finally conquered.
Men do not lose the noble savor of humanity in a moment. Even on the
downward road good angels wait anxiously, and whisper in every better
moment to the lapsing soul, "Return!"

But there was a seed of bitterness in Crawford's heart, that was
poisoning the man's spiritual life--a little bit of paper, yet it lay
like a great stone over his noblest feelings, and sealed them up as in
a sepulchre. Oh, if some angel would come and roll it away! He had
never told the dominie of Helen's bequest. He did not dare to destroy
the slip of paper, but he hid it in the most secret drawer of his
secretary. He told himself that it was only a dying sentiment in Helen
to wish it, and that it would be a foolish superstition in him to
regard it. Perhaps in those last moments she had not understood what
she was asking.

For a little while he found relief in this suggestion; then he
remembered that the request must have been dictated before the fever
had conquered her strength or judgment. The words were clearly written
in Helen's neat, precise manner; there was not a hesitating line in
the whole. She had evidently written it with care and consideration.
No one could tell how that slip of paper haunted him. Even in the
darkness of its secret hiding-place his spiritual eyes saw it clearly
day and night.

To give to the poor all he had intended to give to Helen! He could
not! He could not! He could not do it! Helen could not have known what
she was asking. He had meant, in one way or another, to give her, as
the founder of the new line of Crawfords, at least one hundred
thousand pounds. Was it reasonable to scatter hither and yon such a
large sum, earned, as he told himself pitifully, "by his ain wisdom
and enterprise!"

The dominie knew nothing of this terrible struggle going on ever in
the man's soul who sat by his side. He saw that Crawford was irritable
and moody, but he laid the blame of it on Colin. Oh, if the lad would
only write, he would go himself and bring him back to his father,
though he should have to seek him at the ends of the earth. But four
years passed away, and the prodigal sent no backward, homeward sign.
Every night, then, the laird looked a moment into the dominie's face,
and always the dominie shook his head. Ah, life has silences that are
far more pathetic than death's.

One night Crawford said, almost in a whisper,

"He'll be dead, Tallisker."

And Tallisker answered promptly,

"He'll come hame, laird."

No other words about Colin passed between the two men in four years.
But destiny loves surprises. One night Tallisker laid a letter on the
table.

"It is for you, laird; read it."

It was a singular letter to come after so long a silence, and the
laird's anger was almost excusable.

"Listen, Tallisker; did e'er you hear the like?

"'DEAR FATHER: I want, for a very laudable purpose, £4,000. It is not
for myself in any way. If you will let me have it, I will trouble you
with the proper explanations. If not, they will not be necessary. I
have heard that you are well. I pray God to continue his mercy to you.

"'Your dutiful son,

"'COLIN CRAWFORD.'

"'Laudable purpose!'" cried the unhappy father, in a passion. "The lad
is altogether too laudable. The letter is an insult, Tallisker. I'll
ne'er forgive him for it. Oh, what a miserable father I am!"

And the dominie was moved to tears at the sight of his old friend's
bitter anguish.

Still he asserted that Colin had meant it to be a kind letter.

"Dinna tak want o' sense for want o' affection laird. The lad is a
conceited prig. He's set up wi' himsel' about something he is going to
do. Let him hae the money. I would show him you can gie as grandly as
he can ask loftily."

And, somehow, the idea pleased the laird. It was something that Colin
had been obliged to ask him for money at all. He sat down and wrote
out a check for the amount. Then he enclosed it with these words:

"SON COLIN CRAWFORD: I send you what you desire. I am glad your
prospects are sae laudable; maybe it may enter your heart, some day,
to consider it laudable to keep the Fifth Command. Your sister is
dead. Life is lonely, but I thole it. I want nae explanations.

"Your father,

"ALEX. CRAWFORD."

"What's the address, Tallisker?"

"Regent's Place, London."

The answer arrived in due time. It was as proper as a letter could be.
Colin said he was just leaving for America, but did not expect to be
more than six months there. But he never said a word about coming to
Crawford. Tallisker was downright angry at the young man. It was true
his father had told him he did not wish to see him again, but that had
been said under a keen sense of family wrong and of bitter
disappointment. Colin ought to have taken his father's ready response
to his request as an overture of reconciliation. For a moment he was
provoked with both of them.

"You are a dour lot, you Crawfords; ane o' you is prouder than the
ither."

"The Crawfords are as God made them, dominie."

"And some o' them a little warse."

Yet, after all, it was Colin Tallisker was really angry at. For the
present he had to let his anger lie by. Colin had gone, and given him
no address in America.

"He is feared I will be telling him his duty, and when he comes back
that is what I shall do, if I go to London to mak him hear me."

For a moment the laird looked hopefully into the dominie's face, but
the hope was yet so far off he could not grasp it. Yet, in a dim,
unacknowledged way it influenced him. He returned to his money-making
with renewed vigor. It was evident he had let the hope of Colin's
return steal into his heart. And the giving of that £4,000 Tallisker
considered almost a sign of grace. It had not been given from any
particularly noble motive; but any motive, not sinful, roused in
opposition to simple avarice, was a gain. He was quite determined now
to find Colin as soon as he returned from America.

In rather less than six months there were a few lines from Colin,
saying that the money sent had been applied to the proper purpose, and
had nobly fulfilled it. The laird had said he wanted no explanations,
and Colin gave him none.

Tallisker read the letter with a half smile.

"He is just the maist contrary, conceited young man I e'er heard tell
o'. Laird, as he wont come to us, I am going to him."

The laird said nothing. Any grief is better than a grief not sure. It
would be a relief to know all, even if that "all" were painful.



CHAPTER VIII.


Tallisker was a man as quick in action as in resolve; the next night
he left for London, it was no light journey in those days for a man of
his years, and who had never in all his life been farther away from
Perthshire than Edinburgh. But he feared nothing. He was going into
the wilderness after his own stray sheep, and he had a conviction that
any path of duty is a safe path. He said little to any one. The people
looked strangely on him. He almost fancied himself to be Christian
going through Vanity Fair.

He went first to Colin's old address in Regent's Place. He did not
expect to find him there, but it might lead him to the right place.
Number 34 Regent's Place proved to be a very grand house. As he went
up to the door, an open carriage, containing a lady and a child, left
it. A man dressed in the Crawford tartan opened the door.

"Crawford?" inquired Tallisker, "is he at home?"

"Yes, he is at home;" and the servant ushered him into, a
carefully-shaded room, where marble statues gleamed in dusk corners
and great flowering plants made the air fresh and cool. It as the
first time Tallisker had ever seen a calla lily and he looked with
wonder and delight at the gleaming flowers. And somehow he thought of
Helen. Colin sat in a great leathern chair reading. He did not lift
his head until the door closed and he was sensible the servant had
left some one behind. Then for a moment he could hardly realize who it
was; but when he did, he came forward with a glad cry.

"Dominie! O Tallisker!"

"Just so, Colin, my dear lad. O Colin, you are the warst man I ever
kenned. You had a good share o' original sin to start wi', but what
wi' pride and self-will and ill-will, the old trouble is sairly
increased."

Colin smiled gravely. "I think you misjudge me, dominie." Then
refreshments were sent for, and the two men sat down for a long mutual
confidence.

Colin's life had not been uneventful. He told it frankly, without
reserve and without pride. When he quarrelled with his father about
entering Parliament, he left Rome at once, and went to Canada. He had
some idea of joining his lot with his own people there. But he found
them in a state of suffering destitution. They had been unfortunate in
their choice of location, and were enduring an existence barer than
the one they had left, without any of its redeeming features. Colin
gave them all he had, and left them with promises of future aid.

Then he went to New York. When he arrived, there was an intense
excitement over the struggle then going on in the little republic of
Texas. He found out something about the country; as for the struggle,
it was the old struggle of freedom against papal and priestly
dominion. That was a quarrel for which Scotchmen have always been
ready to draw the sword. It was Scotland's old quarrel in the New
World, and Colin went into it heart and soul. His reward had been an
immense tract of the noble rolling Colorado prairie. Then he
determined to bring the Crawfords down, and plant them in this garden
of the Lord. It was for this end he had written to his father for
£4,000. This sum had sufficed to transplant them to their new home,
and give them a start. He had left them happy and contented, and felt
now that in this matter he had absolved his conscience of all wrong.

"But you ought to hae told the laird. It was vera ill-considered. It
was his affair more than yours. I like the thing you did, Colin, but I
hate the way you did it. One shouldna be selfish even in a good wark."

"It was the laird's own fault; he would not let me explain."

"Colin, are you married?"

"Yes. I married a Boston lady. I have a son three years old. My wife
was in Texas with me. She had a large fortune of her own."

"You are a maist respectable man, Colin, but I dinna like it at all.
What are you doing wi' your time? This grand house costs something."

"I am an artist--a successful one, if that is not also against me."

"Your father would think sae. Oh, my dear lad, you hae gane far astray
from the old Crawford ways."

"I cannot help that, dominie. I must live according to my light. I am
sorry about father."

Then the dominie in the most forcible manner painted the old laird's
hopes and cruel disappointments. There were tears in Colin's eyes as
he reasoned with him. And at this point his own son came into the
room. Perhaps for the first time Colin looked at the lad as the future
heir of Crawford. A strange thrill of family and national pride
stirred his heart. He threw the little fellow shoulder high, and in
that moment regretted that he had flung away the child's chance of
being Earl of Crawford. He understood then something of the anger and
suffering his father had endured, and he put the boy down very
solemnly. For if Colin was anything, he was just; if his father had
been his bitterest enemy, he would, at this moment, have acknowledged
his own aggravation.

Then Mrs. Crawford came in. She had heard all about the dominie, and
she met him like a daughter. Colin had kept his word. This fair,
sunny-haired, blue-eyed woman was the wife he had dreamed about; and
Tallisker told him he had at any rate done right in that matter. "The
bonnie little Republican," as he called her, queened it over the
dominie from the first hour of their acquaintance.

He stayed a week in London, and during it visited Colin's studio. He
went there at Colin's urgent request, but with evident reluctance. A
studio to the simple dominie had almost the same worldly flavor as a
theatre. He had many misgivings as they went down Pall Mall, but he
was soon reassured. There was a singular air of repose and quiet in
the large, cool room. And the first picture he cast his eyes upon
reconciled him to Colin's most un-Crawford-like taste.

It was "The Farewell of the Emigrant Clan." The dominie's knees shook,
and he turned pale with emotion. How had Colin reproduced that scene,
and not only reproduced but idealized it! There were the gray sea and
the gray sky, and the gray granite boulder rocks on which the chief
stood, the waiting ships, and the loaded boats, and he himself in the
prow of the foremost one. He almost felt the dear old hymn thrilling
through the still room. In some way, too, Colin had grasped the
grandest points of his father's character. In this picture the man's
splendid physical beauty seemed in some mysterious way to give
assurance of an equally splendid spiritual nature.

"If this is making pictures, Colin, I'll no say but what you could
paint a sermon, my dear lad. I hae ne'er seen a picture before." Then
he turned to another, and his swarthy face glowed with an intense
emotion. There was a sudden sense of tightening in his throat, and he
put his hand up and slowly raised his hat. It was Prince Charlie
entering Edinburgh. The handsome, unfortunate youth rode bareheaded
amid the Gordons and the Murrays and a hundred Highland noblemen. The
women had their children shoulder high to see him, the citizens,
bonnets up, were pressing up to his bridle-rein. It stirred Tallisker
like a peal of trumpets. With the tears streaming down his glowing
face, he cried out,

"How daur ye, sir! You are just the warst rebel between the seas! King
George ought to hang you up at Carlisle-gate. And this is painting!
This is artist's wark! And you choose your subjects wisely, Colin: it
is a gift the angels might be proud o'." He lingered long in the room,
and when he left it, "Prince Charlie" and the "Clan's Farewell" were
his own. They were to go back with him to the manse at Crawford.



CHAPTER IX.


It was, upon the whole, a wonderful week to Tallisker; he returned
home with the determination that the laird must recall his banished.
He had tried to induce Colin to condone all past grievances, but Colin
had, perhaps wisely, said that he could not go back upon a momentary
impulse. The laird must know all, and accept him just as he was. He
had once been requested not to come home unless he came prepared to
enter into political life. He had refused the alternative then, and he
should refuse it again. The laird must understand these things, or the
quarrel would probably be renewed, perhaps aggravated.

And Tallisker thought that, in this respect, Colin was right. He would
at any rate hide nothing from the laird, he should know all; and
really he thought he ought to be very grateful that the "all" was so
much better than might have been.

The laird was not glad. A son brought down to eat the husk of evil
ways, poor, sick, suppliant, would have found a far readier welcome.
He would gladly have gone to meet Colin, even while he was yet a great
way off, only he wanted Colin to be weary and footsore and utterly
dependent on his love. He heard with a grim silence Tallisker's
description of the house in Regent's Place, with its flowers and
books, its statues, pictures, and conservatory. When Tallisker told
him of the condition of the Crawfords in Canada, he was greatly moved.
He was interested and pleased with the Texan struggle. He knew nothing
of Texas, had never heard of the country, but Mexicans, Spaniards, and
the Inquisition were one in his mind.

"That at least was Crawford-like," he said warmly, when told of
Colin's part in the struggle.

But the subsequent settlement of the clan there hurt him terribly. "He
should hae told me. He shouldna hae minded what I said in such a case.
I had a right to know. Colin has used me vera hardly about this. Has
he not, Tallisker?"

"Yes, laird, Colin was vera wrong there. He knows it now."

"What is he doing in such a grand house? How does he live?"

"He is an artist--a vera great one, I should say."

"He paints pictures for a living! He! A Crawford o' Traquare! I'll no
believe it, Tallisker."

"There's naught to fret about, laird. You'll ken that some day. Then
his wife had money."

"His wife! Sae he is married. That is o' a piece wi' the rest. Wha is
she?"

"He married an American--a Boston lady."

Then the laird's passion was no longer controllable, and he said some
things the dominie was very angry at.

"Laird," he answered, "Mrs. Colin Crawford is my friend. You'll no
daur to speak any way but respectful o' her in my presence. She is as
good as any Crawford that ever trod the heather. She came o' the
English Hampdens. Whar will ye get better blood than that?"

"No Hampdens that ever lived--"

"Whist! Whist, laird! The Crawfords are like a' ither folk; they have
twa legs and twa hands."

"He should hae married a Scots lass, though she had carried a
milking-pail."

"Laird, let me tell you there will be nae special heaven for the Gael.
They that want to go to heaven by themsel's arena likely to win there
at a'. You may as well learn to live with ither folk here; you'll hae
to do it to a' eternity."

"If I get to heaven, Dominie Tallisker, I'll hae special graces for
the place. I'm no going to put mysel' in a blazing passion for you
to-night. Yon London woman has bewitched you. She's wanting to come to
the Keep, I'll warrant."

"If ye saw the hame she has you wouldna warrant your ain word a minute
longer, laird. And I'm sure I dinna see what she would want to hae twa
Crawfords to guide for. One is mair than enough whiles. It's a wonder
to me how good women put up wi' us at all!"

"_Humff!_" said the laird scornfully. "Too many words on a spoiled
subject."

"I must say one mair, though. There is a little lad, a bonnie, brave,
bit fellow, your ain grandson, Crawford."

"An American Crawford!" And the laird laughed bitterly. "A foreigner!
an alien! a Crawford born in England! Guid-night, Tallisker! We'll
drop the subject, an it please you."

Tallisker let it drop. He had never expected the laird to give in at
the first cry of "Surrender." But he reflected that the winter was
coming, and that its long nights would give plenty of time for thought
and plenty of opportunities for further advocacy. He wrote constantly
to Colin and his wife, perhaps oftener to Mrs. Crawford than to the
young laird, for she was a woman of great tact and many resources, and
Tallisker believed in her.

Crawford had said a bitter word about her coming to the Keep, and
Tallisker could not help thinking what a blessing she would be there;
for one of Crawford's great troubles now was the wretchedness of his
household arrangements. The dainty cleanliness and order which had
ruled it during Helen's life were quite departed. The garden was
neglected, and all was disorder and discomfort. Now it is really
wonderful how much of the solid comfort of life depends upon a
well-arranged home, and the home must depend upon some woman. Men may
mar the happiness of a household, but they cannot make it. Women are
the happiness makers. The laird never thought of it in this light, but
he did know that he was very uncomfortable.

"I canna even get my porridge made right," he said fretfully to the
dominie.

"You should hae a proper person o'er them ne'er-do-weel servants o'
yours, laird. I ken one that will do you."

"Wha is she?"

"A Mrs. Hope."

"A widow?"

"No, not a widow, but she is not living with her husband."

"Then she'll ne'er win into my house, dominie."

"She has good and sufficient reasons. I uphold her. Do you think I
would sanction aught wrong, laird?"

No more was said at that time, but a month afterwards Mrs. Hope had
walked into the Keep and taken everything in her clever little hands.
Drunken, thieving, idle servants had been replaced by men and women
thoroughly capable and efficient. The laird's tastes were studied, his
wants anticipated, his home became bright, restful, and quiet. The
woman was young and wonderfully pretty, and Crawford soon began to
watch her with a genuine interest.

"She'll be ane o' the Hopes o' Beaton," he thought; "she is vera like
them."

At any rate he improved under her sway, for being thoroughly
comfortable himself, he was inclined to have consideration for others.

One afternoon, as he came from the works, it began to snow. He turned
aside to the manse to borrow a plaid of Tallisker. He very seldom went
to the manse, but in the keen, driving snow the cheerful fire gleaming
through the window looked very inviting. He thought he would go in and
take a cup of tea with Tallisker.

"Come awa in, laird," cried old Janet, "come awa in. You are a sight
good for sair e'en. The dominie will be back anon, and I'll gie ye a
drap o' hot tay till he comes."

So the laird went in, and the first thing he saw was Colin's picture
of "The Clan's Farewell." It moved him to his very heart. He divined
at once whose work it was, and he felt that it was wonderful. It must
be acknowledged, too, that he was greatly pleased with Colin's
conception of himself.

"I'm no a bad-looking Crawford," he thought complacently; "the lad has
had a vera clear notion o' what he was doing."

Personal flattery is very subtle and agreeable. Colin rose in his
father's opinion that hour.

Then he turned to Prince Charlie. How strange is that vein of romantic
loyalty marbling the granite of Scotch character! The common-place man
of coal and iron became in the presence of his ideal prince a feudal
chieftain again. His heart swelled to that pictured face as the great
sea swells to the bending moon. He understood in that moment how his
fathers felt it easy to pin on the white cockade and give up
everything for an impossible loyalty.

The dominie found him in this mood. He turned back to every-day life
with a sigh.

"Weel, dominie, you are a man o' taste. When did you begin buying
pictures?"

"I hae no money for pictures, laird. The artist gave me them."

"You mean Colin Crawford gave you them."

"That is what I mean."

"Weel, I'm free to say Colin kens how to choose grand subjects. I
didna think there was so much in a picture. I wouldna dare to keep
that poor dear prince in my house. I shouldna be worth a bawbee at the
works. It was a wonderfu' wise step, that forbidding o' pictures in
the kirks. I can vera weel see how they would lead to a sinfu'
idolatry."

"Yes, John Knox kent well the temper o' the metal he had to work.
There's nae greater hero-worshippers than Scots folk. They are aye
making idols for themsel's. Whiles it's Wallace, then it's Bruce or
Prince Charlie; nay, there are decent, pious folk that gie Knox
himsel' a honoring he wouldna thank them for. But, laird, there is a
mair degraded idolatry still--that o' gold. We are just as ready as
ever the Jews were to fall down before a calf, an' it only be a golden
one."

"Let that subject alane, dominie. It will tak a jury o' rich men to
judge rich men. A poor man isna competent. The rich hae straits the
poor canna fathom."

And then he saw in light as clear as crystal a slip of paper hid away
in a secret drawer.

Just at this moment a little lad bairn entered the room; a child with
bright, daring eyes, and a comically haughty, confident manner. He
attracted Crawford's attention at once.

"What's your name, my wee man?"

"Alexander is my name."

"That is my name."

"It is not," he answered positively; "don't say that any more."

"Will you hae a sixpence?"

"Yes, I will. Money is good. It buys sweeties."

"Whose boy is that, dominie?"

"Mrs. Hope's. I thought he would annoy you. He is a great pleasure to
me."

"Let him come up to the Keep whiles. I'll no mind him."

When he rose to go he stood a moment before each picture, and then
suddenly asked,

"Whar is young Crawford?"

"In Rome."

"A nice place for him to be! He'd be in Babylon, doubtless, if it was
on the face o' the earth."

When he went home he shut himself in his room and almost stealthily
took out that slip of paper. It had begun to look yellow and faded,
and Crawford had a strange fancy that it had a sad, pitiful
appearance. He held it in his hand a few moments and then put it back
again. It would be the new year soon, and he would decide then. He had
made similar promises often; they always gave him temporary comfort.

Then gradually another element of pleasure crept into his life--Mrs.
Hope's child. The boy amused him; he never resented his pretty,
authoritative ways; a queer kind of companionship sprang up between
them. It was one of perfect equality every way; an old man easily
becomes a little child. And those who only knew Crawford among coals
and pig iron would have been amazed to see him keeping up a mock
dispute with this baby.



CHAPTER X.


One day, getting towards the end of December, the laird awoke in a
singular mood. He had no mind to go to the works, and the weather
promised to give him a good excuse. Over the dreary hills there was a
mournful floating veil of mist. Clouds were flying rapidly in great
masses, and showers streaming through the air in disordered ranks,
driven furiously before a mad wind--a wind that before noon shook the
doors and windows, and drove the bravest birds into hiding.

The laird wandered restlessly up and down.

"There is the dominie," cried Mrs. Hope, about one o'clock. "What
brings him here through such a storm?"

Crawford walked to the door to meet him. He came striding over the
soaking moor with his plaid folded tightly around him and his head
bent before the blast. He was greatly excited.

"Crawford, come wi' me. The Athol passenger packet is driving before
this wind, and there is a fishing smack in her wake."

"Gie us some brandy wi' us, Mrs. Hope, and you'll hae fires and
blankets and a' things needfu' in case O' accident, ma'am." He was
putting on his bonnet and plaid as he spoke, and in five minutes the
men were hastening to the seaside.

It was a deadly coast to be on in a storm with a gale blowing to land.
A long reef of sharp rocks lay all along it, and now the line of
foaming breakers was to any ship a terrible omen of death and
destruction. The packet was almost helpless, and the laird and
Tallisker found a crowd of men waiting the catastrophe that was every
moment imminent.

"She ought to hae gien hersel' plenty o' sea room," said the laird. He
was half angry to see all the interest centred on the packet. The
little fishing cobble was making, in his opinion, a far more sensible
struggle for existence. She was managing her small resources with
desperate skill.

"Tallisker," said the laird, "you stay here with these men. Rory and I
are going half a mile up the coast. If the cobble drives on shore, the
current will take a boat as light as she is over the Bogie Rock and
into the surf yonder. There are doubtless three or four honest men in
her, quite as weel worth the saving as those stranger merchant bodies
that will be in the packet."

So Crawford and Rory hastened to the point they had decided on, and
just as they reached it the boat became unmanageable. The wind took
her in its teeth, shook her a moment or two like a thing of straw and
rags, and then flung her, keel upwards, on the Bogie Rock. Two of the
men were evidently good swimmers; the others were a boy and an old
man. Crawford plunged boldly in after the latter. The waves buffeted
him, and flung him down, and lifted him up, but he was a fine surf
swimmer, and he knew every rock on that dangerous coast. After a hard
struggle, all were brought safe to land.

Then they walked back to where the packet had been last seen. She had
gone to pieces. A few men waited on the beach, picking up the dead,
and such boxes and packages as were dashed on shore. Only three of all
on board had been rescued, and they had been taken to the Keep for
succor and rest.

The laird hastened home. He had not felt as young for many years. The
struggle, though one of life and death, had not wearied him like a
day's toil at the works, for it had been a struggle to which the soul
had girded itself gladly, and helped and borne with it the mortal
body. He came in all glowing and glad; a form lay on his own couch
before the fire. The dominie and Mrs. Hope were bending over it. As he
entered, Mrs. Hope sprang forward--

"Father!"

"Eh? Father? What is this?"

"Father, it is Colin."

Then he knew it all. Colin stretched out a feeble hand towards him. He
was sorely bruised and hurt, he was white and helpless and death-like.

"Father!"

And the father knelt down beside him. Wife and friend walked softly
away. In the solemn moment when these two long-parted souls met again
there was no other love that could inter-meddle.

"My dear father--forgive me!"

Then the laird kissed his recovered son, and said tenderly,

"Son Colin, you are all I have, and all I have is yours."

"Father, my wife and son."

Then the old man proudly and fondly kissed Hope Crawford too, and he
clasped the little lad in his arms. He was well pleased that Hope had
thought it worth while to minister to his comfort, and let him learn
how to know her fairly.

"But it was your doing, Tallisker, I ken it was; it has your mark on
it." And he grasped his old friend's hand with a very hearty grip.

"Not altogether, laird. Colin had gone to Rome on business, and you
were in sair discomfort, and I just named it to Mrs. Hope. After a' it
was her proposal. Naebody but a woman would hae thought o' such a way
to win round you."

Perhaps it was well that Colin was sick and very helpless for some
weeks. During them the two men learned to understand and to respect
each other's peculiarities. Crawford himself was wonderfully happy; he
would not let any thought of the past darken his heart. He looked
forward as hopefully as if he were yet on the threshold of life.

O mystery of life! from what depths proceed thy comforts and thy
lessons! One morning at very early dawn Crawford awoke from a deep
sleep in an indescribable awe. In some vision of the night he had
visited that piteous home which memory builds, and where only in sleep
we walk. Whom had he seen there? What message had he received? This he
never told. He had been "spoken to."

Tallisker was not the man to smile at any such confidence. He saw no
reason why God's messengers should not meet his children in the
border-land of dreams. Thus he had counselled and visited the
patriarchs and prophets of old. He was a God who changeth not; and if
he had chosen to send Crawford a message in this way, it was doubtless
some special word, for some special duty or sorrow. But he had really
no idea of what Crawford had come to confess to him.

"Tallisker, I hae been a man in a sair strait for many a year. I hae
not indeed hid the Lord's talent in a napkin, but I hae done a warse
thing; I hae been trading wi' it for my ain proper advantage. O
dominie, I hae been a wretched man through it all. Nane ken better
than I what a hard master the deil is."

Then he told the dominie of Helen's bequest. He went over all the
arguments with which he had hitherto quieted his conscience, and he
anxiously watched their effect upon Tallisker. He had a hope even yet
that the dominie might think them reasonable. But the table at which
they sat was not less demonstrative than Tallisker's face; for once he
absolutely controlled himself till the story was told. Then he said to
Crawford,

"I'll no tak any responsibility in a matter between you and your
conscience. If you gie it, gie it without regret and without holding
back. Gie it cheerfully; God loves a cheerful giver. But it isna wi'
me you'll find the wisdom to guide you in this matter. Shut yoursel'
in your ain room, and sit down at the foot o' the cross and think it
out. It is a big sum to gie away, but maybe, in the face o' that
stupendous Sacrifice it willna seem so big. I'll walk up in the
evening, laird; perhaps you will then hae decided what to do."

Crawford was partly disappointed. He had hoped that Tallisker would in
some way take the burden from him--he had instead sent him to the foot
of the cross. He did not feel as if he dared to neglect the advice; so
he went thoughtfully to his own room and locked the door. Then he took
out his private ledger. Many a page had been written the last ten
years. It was the book of a very rich man. He thought of all his
engagements and plans and hopes, and of how the withdrawal of so large
a sum would affect them.

Then he took out Helen's last message, and sat down humbly with it
where Tallisker had told him to sit. Suddenly Helen's last words came
back to him, "Oh! the unspeakable riches!" What of? The cross of
Christ--the redemption from eternal death--the promise of eternal
life! Sin is like a nightmare; when we stir under it, we awake.
Crawford sat thinking until his heart burned and softened, and great
tears rolled slowly down his cheeks and dropped upon the paper in his
hands. Then he thought of the richness of his own life--Colin and
Hope, and the already beloved child Alexander--of his happy home, of
the prosperity of his enterprises, of his loyal and loving friend
Tallisker. What a contrast to the Life he had been told to remember!
that pathetic Life that had not where to lay its head, that mysterious
agony in Gethsemane, that sublime death on Calvary, and he cried out,
"O Christ! O Saviour of my soul! all that I have is too little!"

When Tallisker came in the evening, Hope noticed a strange solemnity
about the man. He, too, had been in the presence of God all day. He
had been praying for his friend. But as soon as he saw Crawford he
knew how the struggle had ended. Quietly they grasped each other's
hand, and the evening meal was taken by Colin's side in pleasant
cheerfulness. After it, when all were still, the laird spoke:

"Colin and Hope, I hae something I ought to tell you. When your sister
Helen died she asked me to gie her share o' the estate to the poor
children of our Father. I had intended giving Helen £100,000. It is a
big sum, and I hae been in a sair strait about it. What say you,
Colin?"

"My dear father, I say there is only one way out of that strait. The
money must be given as Helen wished it. Helen was a noble girl. It was
just like her."

"Ah, Colin, if you could only tell what a burden this bit o' paper has
been to me! I left the great weight at the foot o' the cross this
morning." As he spoke the paper dropped from his fingers and fell upon
the table. Colin lifted it reverently and kissed it. "Father," he
said, "may I keep it now? The day will come when the Crawfords will
think with more pride of it than of any parchment they possess."

Then there was an appeal to Tallisker about its disposal. "Laird," he
answered, "such a sum must be handled wi' great care. It is not enough
to gie money, it must be gien wisely." But he promised to take on
himself the labor of inquiry into different charities, and the
consideration of what places and objects needed help most. "But,
Crawford," he said, "if you hae any special desire, I think it should
be regarded."

Then Crawford said he had indeed one. When he was himself young he had
desired greatly to enter the ministry, but his father had laid upon
him a duty to the family and estate which he had accepted instead.

"Now, dominie," he said, "canna I keep aye a young man in my place?"

"It is a worthy thought, Crawford."

So the first portion of Helen's bequest went to Aberdeen University.
This endowment has sent out in Crawford's place many a noble young man
into the harvest-field of the world, and who shall say for how many
centuries it will keep his name green in earth and heaven! The
distribution of the rest does not concern our story. It may safely be
left in Dominie Tallisker's hands.

Of course, in some measure it altered Crawford's plans. The new house
was abandoned and a wing built to the Keep for Colin's special use. In
this portion the young man indulged freely his poetic, artistic
tastes. And the laird got to like it. He used to tread softly as soon
as his feet entered the large shaded rooms, full of skilful lights and
white gleaming statues. He got to enjoy the hot, scented atmosphere
and rare blossoms of the conservatory, and it became a daily delight
to him to sit an hour in Colin's studio and watch the progress of some
favorite picture.

But above all his life was made rich by his grandson. Nature, as she
often does, reproduced in the second generation what she had totally
omitted in the first. The boy was his grandfather over again. They
agreed upon every point. It was the laird who taught Alexander to
spear a salmon, and throw a trout-line, and stalk a deer. They had
constant confidences about tackle and guns and snares. They were all
day together on the hills. The works pleased the boy better than his
father's studio. He trotted away with his grandfather gladly to them.
The fires and molten metal, the wheels and hammers and tumult, were
all enchantments to him. He never feared to leap into a collier's
basket and swing down the deep, black shaft. He had also an
appreciative love of money; he knew just how many sixpences he owned,
and though he could give if asked to do so, he always wanted the
dominie to give him a good reason for giving. The child gave him back
again his youth, and a fuller and nobler one than he himself had
known.

And God was very gracious to him, and lengthened out this second youth
to a green old age. These men of old Gaul had iron constitutions; they
did not begin to think themselves old men until they had turned
fourscore. It was thirty years after Helen's death when Tallisker one
night sent this word to his life-long friend,

"I hae been called, Crawford; come and see me once more."

They all went together to the manse. The dominie was in his
ninety-first year, and he was going home. No one could call it dying.
He had no pain. He was going to his last sleep

          "As sweetly as a child,
  Whom neither thought disturbs nor care encumbers,
  Tired with long play, at close of summer's day
      Lies down and slumbers."

"Good-by, Crawford--for a little while. We'll hae nae tears. I hae
lived joyfully before my God these ninety years; I am going out o' the
sunshine into the sunshine. Crawford, through that sair strait o'
yours you hae set a grand, wide-open door for a weight o' happiness. I
am glad ye didna wait. A good will is a good thing, but a good life is
far better. It is a grand thing to sow your ain good seed. Nae ither
hand could hae done it sae well and sae wisely. Far and wide there are
lads and lasses growing up to call you blessed. This is a thought to
mak death easy, Crawford. Good-night, dears."

And then "God's finger touched him and he slept."

Crawford lived but a few weeks longer. After the dominie's death he
simply sat waiting. His darling Alexander came home specially to
brighten these last hours, and in his company he showed almost to the
last hour the true Crawford spirit.

"Alexander," he would say, "you'll ding for your ain side and the
Crawfords always, but you'll be a good man; there is nae happiness
else, dear. Never rest, my lad, till ye sit where your fathers sat in
the House o' Peers. Stand by the State and the Kirk, and fear God,
Alexander. The lease o' the Cowden Knowes is near out; don't renew it.
Grip tight what ye hae got, but pay every debt as if God wrote the
bill. Remember the poor, dear lad. Charity gies itsel' rich. Riches
mak to themselves wings, but charity clips the wings. The love o' God,
dear, the love o' God--that is the best o' all."

Yes, he had a sair struggle with his lower nature to the very last,
but he was constantly strengthened by the conviction of a "Power
closer to him than breathing, nearer than hands or feet." Nine weeks
after the dominie's death they found him sitting in his chair, fallen
on that sleep whose waking is eternal day. His death was like
Tallisker's--a perfectly natural one. He had been reading. The Bible
lay open at that grand peroration of St. Paul's on faith, in the
twelfth of Hebrews. The "great cloud of witnesses," "the sin which
doth so easily beset us," "Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our
faith"--these were probably his last earthly thoughts, and with them
he passed into

  "That perfect presence of His face
  Which we, for want of words, call heaven."



James Blackie's Revenge.



JAMES BLACKIE'S REVENGE.


CHAPTER I.


Few people who have travelled will deny that of all cities Glasgow is
apparently the least romantic. Steeped in wet, white mist, or wrapped
in yellow fog vapor, all gray stone and gray sky, dirty streets, and
sloppy people, it presents none of the features of a show town. Yet it
has great merits; it is enterprising, persevering, intensely national,
and practically religious; and people who do not mind being damp have
every chance to make a good living there. Even the sombre appearance
of the dark gray granite of which it is built is not unsuitable to the
sterling character of its people; for though this stone may be dull
and ugly, there is a natural nobility about it, and it never can be
mean.

I have said that, as a city, Glasgow is practically religious, and
certainly this was the case something less than half a century ago.
The number of its churches was not more remarkable than the piety and
learning of its clergy; and the "skailing" of their congregations on a
Sabbath afternoon was one of the most impressive sights, of its kind,
in the world.

My true little story opens with the skailing of the Ramshorn Kirk, a
very favorite place of worship with the well-to-do burghers of the
east end of the city, and it was a peculiarly douce, decent,
solemn-looking crowd that slowly and reverently passed out of its
gates into the absolutely silent streets. For no vehicles of any kind
disturbed the Sabbath stillness, and not until the people had gone
some distance from the house of God did they begin to think their own
thoughts, and with a certain grave reserve put them into words.

Among the groups who proceeded still farther east, towards the
pleasant houses facing the "Green," one alone was remarkable enough to
have elicited special notice from an observing stranger. It consisted
of an old man and a young girl, evidently his daughter. Both were
strikingly handsome, and the girl was much better dressed than the
majority of women who took the same road. Long before they reached the
Green they were joined by a younger man, whom the elder at once
addressed in a reproving voice.

"Ye didna pay as much attention to the sermon as it behooved ye to do,
James Blackie; and what for did ye speak to Robert Laird a'most within
'the Gates'?"

"I only asked if he had heard of the 'Bonnie Bess;' she is overdue
five days, and eight good men in her, not to speak of the cargo."

"It's no cannie to be aye asking questions. Sit still and the news
will come to ye: forbye, I'm no sure if yon was a lawfu' question; the
Sabbath sun hasna set yet."

James Blackie mechanically turned to the west, and then slowly let his
glance fall on the lovely face at his side.

"Christine," he asked softly, "how is all with you?"

"All is well, James."

Not another word was spoken until they reached David Cameron's home.
He was carefully reconsidering the sermon--going over every point on
his finger ends, lest he should drop any link of the argument; and
James and Christine were listening to his criticisms and remarks. They
all stopped before a shop over the windows of which was painted,
"David Cameron, Dealer in Fine Teas;" and David, taking a large key
from his pocket, opened the door, and said,

"Come in and eat wi' us, James; ye ken ye're welcome."

"Our friendship, Mr. Cameron, is a kind of Montgomery division--all on
one side, nothing on the other; but I am 'so by myself' that I thank
you heartily."

So David, followed by Christine and James, passed slowly through the
darkened store, with its faint smells of Eastern spices and fragrant
teas, into the little parlor beyond. The early winter night had now
fallen, and the room, having only an outlet into a small court, would
have been dark also but for the red glow of the "covered" fire. David
took the poker and struck the great block of coal, and instantly the
cheerful blaze threw an air of cosey and almost picturesque comfort
over the homelike room.

The two men sat down beside the fire, spreading their hands to its
warmth, and apparently finding their own thoughts excellent company,
for neither of them spoke or moved until Christine reappeared. She had
divested herself of the handsome black satin and velvet which formed
her kirk suit; but in her long, plain dress of gray winsey, with a
snowy lawn kerchief and cuffs, she looked still more fair and lovable.

James watched her as she spread the cloth and produced from various
cupboards cold meats and pastries, bread and cakes, and many kinds of
delicate preserves and sweetmeats. Her large, shapely hands among the
gold-and-white china fascinated him, while her calm, noiseless,
unhurried movements induced a feeling of passive repose that it
required an effort to dispel, when she said in a low, even voice,

"Father, the food is waiting for the blessing."

It was a silent but by no means an unhappy meal. David was a good man,
and he ate his food graciously and gratefully, dropping now and then a
word of praise or thanks; and James felt it delightful enough to watch
Christine. For James, though he had not yet admitted the fact to his
own heart, loved Christine Cameron as men love only once, with that
deep, pure affection that has perchance a nearer kindred than this
life has hinted of.

He thought her also exquisitely beautiful, though this opinion would
not have been indorsed by a majority of men. For Christine had one of
those pale, statuesque faces apt to be solemn in repose; its beauty
was tender and twilight, its expression serious and steadfast, and her
clear, spiritual eyes held in them no light of earthly passion. She
had grown up in that little back parlor amid the din and tumult of the
city, under the gray, rainy skies, and surrounded by care and sin, as
a white lily grows out of the dark, damp soil, drawing from the
elements around only sweetness and purity.

She was very silent this afternoon, but apparently very happy. Indeed,
there was an expression on her face which attracted her father's
attention, and he said,

"The sermon has pleased thee well, I see, Christine."

"The sermon was good, but the text was enough, father. I think it over
in my heart, and it leaves a light on all the common things of life."
And she repeated it softly, "O Thou preserver of men, unto Thee shall
all flesh come."

David lifted his bonnet reverently, and James, who was learned in what
the Scotch pleasantly call "the humanities," added slowly,

  "'But I, the mortal,
  Planted so lowly, with death to bless me,
  I sorrow no longer.'"

When people have such subjects of conversation, they talk
moderately--for words are but poor interpreters of emotions whose
sources lie in the depths of eternity. But they were none the less
happy, and James felt as if he had been sitting at one of those tables
which the Lord "prepareth in the wilderness," where the "cup runneth
over" with joy and content.

Such moments rarely last long; and it is doubtful if we could bear to
keep the soul always to its highest bent. When Christine had sided
away the dishes and put in order the little room, David laid down his
pipe, and said, "The Lord's day being now over, I may speak anent my
ain matters. I had a letter, Christine, on Saturday, from my
brother-in-law, McFarlane. He says young Donald will be in Glasgow
next week."

"Will he stay here, father?"

"Na, na; he'll bide wi' the McFarlanes. They are rich folk; but siller
is nae sin--an' it be clean-won siller."

"Then why did Uncle McFarlane write to you, father?"

"He wrote concerning the lad's pecuniary matters, Christine. Young
Donald will need gude guiding; and he is my sister Jessie's only
bairn--blood is thicker than water, ye'll allow that--and Donald is o'
gentle blood. I'm no saying that's everything; but it is gude to come
o' a gude kind."

"The McFarlanes have aye been for the pope and the Stuarts," said
James, a little scornfully. "They were 'out' in the '79'; and they
would pin the white cockade on to-morrow, if there was ever a Stuart
to bid them do it."

"Maybe they would, James. Hielandmen hae a way o' sticking to auld
friends. There's Camerons I wadna go bail for, if Prince Charlie could
come again; but let that flea stick to the wa'. And the McFarlanes
arena exactly papist noo; the twa last generations hae been
'Piscopals--that's ane step ony way towards the truth. Luther mayna be
John Knox, but they'll win up to him some time, dootless they will."

"How old is young McFarlane?" asked James.

"He is turned twenty--a braw lad, his father says. I hae ne'er seen
him, but he's Jessie's bairn, and my heart gaes out to meet him."

"Why did you not tell me on Saturday, father? I could have spoken for
Maggie Maclean to help me put the house in order."

"I didna get the letter till the evening post. It was most as good as
Sabbath then. Housecleaning is an unco temptation to women-folk, so I
keepit the news till the Sabbath sun was weel set."

During this conversation James Blackie's heart had become heavy with
some sad presentiment of trouble, such as arise very naturally in
similar circumstances. As a poet says,

  "Ah, no! it is not all delusion,
    That strange intelligence of sorrow
  Searching the tranquil heart's seclusion,
    Making us quail before the morrow.
  'Tis the farewell of happiness departing,
    The sudden tremor of a soul at rest;
  The wraith of coming grief upstarting
    Within the watchful breast."

He listened to David Cameron's reminiscences of his bonnie sister
Jessie, and of the love match she had made with the great Highland
chieftain, with an ill-disguised impatience. He had a Lowlander's
scorn for the thriftless, fighting, freebooting traditions of the
Northern clans and a Calvinist's dislike to the Stuarts and the
Stuarts' faith; so that David's unusual emotion was exceedingly and,
perhaps, unreasonably irritating to him. He could not bear to hear him
speak with trembling voice and gleaming eyes of the grand mountains
and the silent corries around Ben-Nevis, the red deer trooping over
the misty steeps, and the brown hinds lying among the green plumes of
fern, and the wren and the thrush lilting in song together.

"Oh, the bonnie, bonnie Hielands!" cried David with a passionate
affection; "it is always Sabbath up i' the mountains, Christine. I
maun see them once again ere I lay by my pilgrim-staff and shoon for
ever."

"Then you are not Glasgow born, Mr. Cameron," said James, with the air
of one who finds out something to another's disadvantage.

"Me! Glasgo' born! Na, na, man! I was born among the mountains o'
Argyle. It was a sair downcome fra them to the Glasgo' pavements. But
I'm saying naething against Glasgo'. I was but thinking o' the days
when I wore the tartan and climbed the hills in the white dawns, and,
kneeling on the top o' Ben Na Keen, saw the sun sink down wi' a smile.
It's little ane sees o' sunrising or sunsetting here, James," and
David sighed heavily and wiped away the tender mist from his sight.

James looked at the old man with some contempt; he himself had been
born and reared in one or other of the closest and darkest streets of
the city. The memories of his loveless, hard-worked childhood were
bitter to him, and he knew nothing of the joy of a boyhood spent in
the hills and woods.

"Life is the same everywhere, Mr. Cameron. I dare say there is as much
sin and as much worry and care among the mountains as on the Glasgow
pavements."

"You may 'daur say' it, James, but that winna mak it true. Even in
this warld our Father's house has many mansions. Gang your way up and
up through thae grand solitudes and ye'll blush to be caught worrying
among them."

And then in a clear, jubilant voice he broke into the old Scotch
version of the 121st Psalm:

  "I to the hills will lift mine eyes
    from whence doth come mine aid;
  My safety cometh from the Lord,
    who heaven and earth hath made."

And he sang it to that loveliest of all psalm tunes, Rathiel's "St.
Mary's." It was impossible to resist the faith, the enthusiasm, the
melody. At the second bar Christine's clear, sweet voice joined in,
and at the second line James was making a happy third.

  "Henceforth thy goings out and in
    God keep for ever will."

"Thae twa lines will do for a 'Gude-night,'" said David in the pause
at the end of the psalm, and James rose with a sigh and wrapped his
plaid around him.



CHAPTER II.


James had gone into the house so happy and hopeful, he left it so
anxious and angry--yes, angry. He knew well that he had no just cause
for anger, but that knowledge only irritated him the more. Souls, as
well as bodies, are subject to malignant diseases, and to-night envy
and jealousy were causing James Blackie more acute suffering than any
attack of fever or contagion. A feeling of dislike towards young
Donald McFarlane had taken possession of his heart; he lay awake to
make a mental picture of the youth, and then he hated the picture he
had made.

Feverish and miserable, he went next morning to the bank in which he
was employed, and endeavored amid the perplexities of compound
interest to forget the anxieties he had invented for himself. But it
was beyond his power, and he did not pray about them; for the burdens
we bind on our own shoulders we rarely dare to go to God with, and
James might have known from this circumstance alone that his trouble
was no lawful one. He nursed it carefully all day and took it to bed
with him again at night. The next day he had begun to understand how
envy grew to hatred, and hatred to murder. Still he did not go to God
for help, and still he kept ever before his eyes the image of the
youth that he had determined was to be his enemy.

On Thursday night he could no longer bear his uncertainties. He
dressed himself carefully and went to David Cameron's. David was in
his shop tasting and buying teas, and apparently absorbed in business.
He merely nodded to James, and bid him "walk through." He had no
intention of being less kindly than usual, but James was in such a
suspicious temper that he took his preoccupation for coolness, and so
it was almost with a resentful feeling he opened the half-glass door
dividing the shop from the parlor.

As his heart had foretold him, there sat the youth whom he had
determined to hate, but his imagination had greatly deceived him with
regard to his appearance. He had thought of Donald only as a "fair,
false Highlander" in tartan, kilt, and philibeg. He found him a tall,
dark youth, richly dressed in the prevailing Southern fashion, and
retaining no badge of his country's costume but the little Glengary
cap with its chieftain's token of an eagle's feather. His manners were
not rude and haughty, as James had decided they would be; they were
singularly frank and pleasant. Gracious and graceful, exceedingly
handsome and light-hearted, he was likely to prove a far more
dangerous rival than even James' jealous heart had anticipated.

He rose at Christine's introduction, and offered his hand with a
pleasant smile to James. The latter received the courtesy with such
marked aversion that Donald slightly raised his eyebrows ere he
resumed his interrupted conversation with Christine. And now that
James sat down with a determination to look for offences he found
plenty. Christine was sewing, and Donald sat beside her winding and
unwinding her threads, playing with her housewife, or teasingly hiding
her scissors. Christine, half pleased and half annoyed, gradually fell
into Donald's mood, and her still face dimpled into smiles. James very
quickly decided that Donald presumed in a very offensive manner on his
relationship to Christine.

A little after nine o'clock David, having closed his shop, joined them
in the parlor. He immediately began to question James about the loss
of the "Bonnie Bess," and from that subject they drifted easily into
others of a local business interest. It was very natural that Donald,
being a stranger both to the city and its business, should take no
part in this discourse, and that he should, in consequence, devote
himself to Christine. But James felt it an offence, and rose much
earlier than was his wont to depart. David stayed him, almost
authoritatively:

"Ye maun stop, baith o' ye lads, and join in my meat and worship. They
are ill visitors that canna sit at ane board and kneel at ane altar."

For David had seen, through all their drifting talk of ships and
cargoes, the tumult in James' heart, and he did not wish him to go
away in an ungenerous and unjust temper. So both Donald and James
partook of the homely supper of pease brose and butter, oatmeal cakes
and fresh milk, and then read aloud with David and Christine the
verses of the evening Psalm that came to each in turn. James was much
softened by the exercise; so much so that when Donald asked permission
to walk with him as far as their way lay together, he very pleasantly
acceded to the request. And Donald was so bright and unpretentious it
was almost impossible to resist the infectious good temper which
seemed to be his characteristic.

Still James was very little happier or more restful. He lay awake
again, but this night it was not to fret and fume, but to calmly think
over his position and determine what was best and right to do. For
James still thought of "right," and would have been shocked indeed if
any angel of conscience had revealed to him the lowest depths of his
desires and intentions. In the first place, he saw that David would
tolerate no element of quarrelling and bitterness in his peaceful
home, and that if he would continue to visit there he must preserve
the semblance of friendship for Donald McFarlane. In the second, he
saw that Donald had already made so good his lien upon his uncle's and
cousin's affections that it would be very hard to make them believe
wrong of the lad, even if he should do wrong, though of this James
told himself there would soon be abundance.

"For the things David will think sinful beyond all measure," he
argued, "will seem but Puritanical severity to him; forbye, he is
rich, gay, handsome, and has little to do with his time, he'll get
well on to Satan's ground before he knows it;" and then some whisper
dim and low in his soul made him blush and pause and defer the
following out of a course which was to begin in such a way.

So Donald and he fell into the habit of meeting at David's two or
three nights every week, and an apparent friendship sprang up between
them. It was only apparent, however. On Donald's side was that
good-natured indifference that finds it easy enough to say smooth
words, and is not ready to think evil or to take offence; on James'
part a wary watchfulness, assuming the rôle of superior wisdom, half
admiring and half condemning Donald's youthful spirits and ways.

David was quite deceived; he dropped at once the authoritative manner
which had marked his displeasure when he perceived James' disposition
to envy and anger; he fell again into his usual pleasant familiar
talks with the young man, for David thought highly of James as of one
likely to do his duty to God and himself.

In these conversations Donald soon began to take a little share, and
when he chose to do so, evinced a thought and shrewdness which greatly
pleased his uncle; more generally, however, he was at Christine's
side, reading her some poem he had copied, or telling her about some
grand party he had been at. Sometimes James could catch a few words of
reproof addressed in a gentle voice to Donald by Christine; more often
he heard only the murmur of an earnest conversation, or Christine's
low laugh at some amusing incident.

The little room meanwhile had gradually become a far brighter place.
Donald kept it sweet and bright with his daily offerings of fresh
flowers; the pet canary he had given Christine twittered and sang to
her all the day through. Over Christine herself had come the same
bright change; her still, calm face often dimpled into smiles, her
pale-gold hair was snooded with a pretty ribbon, and her dress a
little richer. Yet, after all, the change was so slight that none but
a lover would have noticed it. But there was not a smile or a shade of
brighter color that James did not see; and he bore it with an
equanimity which used often to astonish himself, though it would not
have done so if he had dared just once to look down into his heart; he
bore it because he knew that Donald was living two lives--one that
Christine saw, and one that she could not even have imagined.

It was, alas, too true that this gay, good-natured young man, who had
entered the fashionable world without one bad habit, was fast becoming
proficient in all its follies and vices. That kind of negative
goodness which belonged naturally to him, unfortified by strict habits
and strong principles, had not been able to repel the seductions and
temptations that assail young men, rich, handsome, and well-born.
There was an evil triumph in James' heart one night when Donald said
to him, as they walked home after an evening at David's,

"Mr. Blackie, I wish you could lend me £20. I am in a little trouble,
and I cannot ask Uncle David for more, as I have already overdrawn my
father's allowance."

James loaned it with an eager willingness, though he was usually very
cautious and careful of every bawbee of his hard-earned money. He knew
it was but the beginning of confidence, and so it proved; in a very
little while Donald had fallen into the habit of going to James in
every emergency, and of making him the confidant of all his youthful
hopes and follies.

James even schooled himself to listen patiently to Donald's praises of
his cousin Christine. "She is just the wife I shall need when I settle
down in three or four years," Donald would say complacently, "and I
think she loves me. Of course no man is worthy of such a woman, but
when I have seen life a little I mean to try and be so."

"Umph!" answered James scornfully, "do you suppose, Mr. McFarlane,
that ye'll be fit for a pure lassie like Christine Cameron when you
have played the prodigal and consorted with foolish women, and wasted
your substance in riotous living?"

And Donald said with an honest blush, "By the memory of my mother, no,
I do not, James. And I am ashamed when I think of Christine's white
soul and the stained love I have to offer it. But women forgive! Oh,
what mothers and wives and sisters there are in this world!"

"Well, don't try Christine too far, Donald. She is of an old
Covenanting stock; her conscience feels sin afar off. I do not believe
she would marry a bad, worldly man, though it broke her heart to say
'No.' I have known her far longer than you have."

"Tut, man, I love her! I know her better in an hour than you could do
in a lifetime;" and Donald looked rather contemptuously on the plain
man who was watching him with eyes that might have warned any one more
suspicious or less confident and self-satisfied.



CHAPTER III.


The summer brought some changes. Christine went to the seaside for a
few weeks, and Donald went away in Lord Neville's yacht with a party
of gay young men; James and David passed the evenings generally
together. If it was wet, they remained in the shop or parlor; if fine,
they rambled to the "Green," and sitting down by the riverside talked
of business, of Christine, and of Donald. In one of these confidential
rambles James first tried to arouse in David's mind a suspicion as to
his nephew's real character. David himself introduced the subject by
speaking of a letter he had received from Donald.

"He's wi' the great Earl o' Egremont at present," said David proudly,
for he had all a Scotsman's respect for good birth; "and there is wi'
them young Argyle, and Lord Lovat, and ithers o' the same quality. But
our Donald can cock his bonnet wi' ony o' them; there is na better
blood in Scotland than the McFarlanes'. It taks money though to
foregather wi' nobeelity, and Donald is wanting some. So, James, I'll
gie ye the siller to-night, and ye'll send it through your bank as
early as may be in the morn."

"Donald wanting money is an old want, Mr. Cameron."

David glanced quickly at James, and answered almost haughtily, "It's a
common want likewise, James Blackie. But if Donald McFarlane wants
money, he's got kin that can accommodate him, James; wanters arena
always that fortunate."

"He has got friends likewise, Mr. Cameron; and I am sure I was proud
enough to do him a kindness, and he knows it well."

"And how much may Donald be owing you, I wonder?"

"Only a little matter of £20. You see he had got into--"

"Dinna fash yoursel' wi' explanations, James. Dootless Donald has his
faults; but I may weel wink at his small faults, when I hae sae mony
great faults o' my ain."

And David's personal accusation sounded so much like a reproof, that
James did not feel it safe to pursue the subject.

That very night David wrote thus to his nephew:

"Donald, my dear lad, if thou owest James Blackie £20, pay it
immediate. Lying is the second vice, owing money is the first. I
enclose draft for £70 instead o' £50, as per request."

That £70 was a large sum in the eyes of the careful Glasgow trader; in
the young Highlander's eyes it seemed but a small sum. He could not
form any conception of the amount of love it represented, nor of the
struggle it had cost David to "gie awa for nae consideration" the
savings of many days, perhaps weeks, of toil and thought.

In September Christine came back, and towards the end of October,
Donald. He was greatly improved externally by his trip and his
associations--more manly and more handsome--while his manners had
acquired a slight touch of hauteur that both amused and pleased his
uncle. It had been decided that he should remain in Glasgow another
winter, and then select his future profession. But at present Donald
troubled himself little about the future. He had returned to Christine
more in love with the peace and purity of her character than ever; and
besides, his pecuniary embarrassments in Glasgow were such as to
require his personal presence until they were arranged.

This arrangement greatly troubled him. He had only a certain allowance
from his father--a loving but stern man--who having once decided what
sum was sufficient for a young man in Donald's position, would not,
under any ordinary circumstances, increase it. David Cameron had
already advanced him £70. James Blackie was a resource he did not care
again to apply to. In the meantime he was pressed by small debts on
every hand, and was living among a class of young men whose habits led
him into expenses far beyond his modest income. He began to be very
anxious and miserable. In Christine's presence he was indeed still the
same merry-hearted gentleman; but James saw him in other places, and
he knew from long experience the look of care that drew Donald's
handsome brows together.

One night, towards the close of this winter, James went to see an old
man who was a broker or trader in bills and money, doing business in
the Cowcaddens. James also did a little of the same business in a
cautious way, and it was some mutual transaction in gold and silver
that took him that dreary, soaking night into such a locality.

The two men talked for some time in a low and earnest voice, and then
the old man, opening a greasy leather satchel, displayed a quantity of
paper which he had bought. James looked it over with a keen and
practised eye. Suddenly his attitude and expression changed; he read
over and over one piece of paper, and every time he read it he looked
at it more critically and with a greater satisfaction.

"Andrew Starkie," he said, "where did you buy this?"

"Weel, James, I bought it o' Laidlaw--Aleck Laidlaw. Ye wadna think a
big tailoring place like that could hae the wind in their faces; but
folks maun hae their bad weather days, ye ken; but it blew me gude, so
I'll ne'er complain. Ye see it is for £89, due in twenty days now, and
I only gied £79 for it--a good name too, nane better."

"David Cameron! But what would he be owing Laidlaw £89 for clothes
for?"

"Tut, tut! The claithes were for his nephew. There was some trouble
anent the bill, but the old man gied a note for the amount at last, at
three months. It's due in twenty days now. As he banks wi' your firm,
ye may collect it for me; it will be an easy-made penny or twa."

"I would like to buy this note. What will you sell it for?"

"I'm no minded to sell it. What for do ye want it?"

"Nothing particular. I'll give you £90 for it."

"If it's worth that to you, it is worth mair. I'm no minded to tak
£90."

"I'll give you £95."

"I'm no minded to tak it. It's worth mair to you, I see that. What are
you going to mak by it? I'll sell it for half o' what you are counting
on." "Then you would not make a bawbee. I am going to ware £95 on--on
a bit of revenge. Now will you go shares?"

"Not I. Revenge in cold blood is the deil's own act. I dinna wark wi'
the deil, when it's a losing job to me."

"Will you take £95 then?"

"No. When lads want whistles they maun pay for them."

"I'll give no more. For why? Because in twenty days you will do my
work for me; then it will cost me nothing, and it will cost you £89,
that is all about it, Starkie."

Starkie lifted the note which James had flung carelessly down, and his
skinny hands trembled as he fingered it. "This is David Cameron's note
o' hand, and David Cameron is a gude name."

"Yes, very good. Only that is not David Cameron's writing, it is
a--forgery. Light your pipe with it, Andrew Starkie."

"His nephew gave it himsel' to Aleck Laidlaw--"

"I know. And I hate his nephew. He has come between me and Christine
Cameron. Do you see now?"

"Oh! oh! oh! I see, I see! Well, James, you can have it for £100--as a
favor."

"I don't want it now. He could not have a harder man to deal with than
you are. You suit me very well."

"James, such business wont suit me. I can't afford to be brought into
notice. I would rather lose double the money than prosecute any
gentleman in trouble."

The older man had reasoned right--James dared not risk the note out of
sight, dared not trust to Starkie's prosecution. He longed to have the
bit of paper in his own keeping, and after a wary battle of a full
hour's length Andrew Starkie had his £89 back again, and James had the
note in his pocket-book.

Through the fog, and through the wind, and through the rain he went,
and he knew nothing, and he felt nothing but that little bit of paper
against his breast. Oh, how greedily he remembered Donald's handsome
looks and stately ways, and all the thousand little words and acts by
which he imagined himself wronged and insulted. Now he had his enemy
beneath his feet, and for several days this thought satisfied him, and
he hid his secret morsel of vengeance and found it sweet--sharply,
bitterly sweet--for even yet conscience pleaded hard with him.

As he sat counting his columns of figures, every gentle, forgiving
word of Christ came into his heart. He knew well that Donald would
receive his quarterly allowance before the bill was due, and that he
must have relied on this to meet it. He also knew enough of Donald's
affairs to guess something of the emergency that he must have been in
ere he would have yielded to so dangerous an alternative. There were
times when he determined to send for Donald, show him the frightful
danger in which he stood, and then tear the note before his eyes, and
leave its payment to his honor. He even realized the peace which would
flow from such a deed. Nor were these feelings transitory, his better
nature pleaded so hard with him that he walked his room hour after
hour under their influence, and their power over him was such as
delayed all action in the matter for nearly a week.



CHAPTER IV.


At length one morning David Cameron came into the bank, and having
finished his business, walked up to James and said, "I feared ye were
ill, James. Whatna for hae ye stayed awa sae lang? I wanted ye sairly
last night to go o'er wi' me the points in this debate at our kirk. We
are to hae anither session to-night; ye'll come the morn and talk it
o'er wi' me?"

"I will, Mr. Cameron."

But James instantly determined to see Christine that night. Her father
would be at the kirk session, and if Donald was there, he thought he
knew how to whisper him away. He meant to have Christine all to
himself for an hour or two, and if he saw any opportunity he would
tell her all. When he got to David's the store was still open, but the
clerk said, "David has just gone," and James, as was his wont, walked
straight to the parlor.

Donald was there; he had guessed that, because a carriage was in
waiting, and he knew it could belong to no other caller at David
Cameron's. And never had Donald roused in him such an intense
antagonism. He was going to some National Celebration, and he stood
beside Christine in all the splendid picturesque pomp of the McFarlane
tartans. He was holding Christine's hand, and she stood as a white
lily in the glow and color of his dark beauty. Perhaps both of them
felt James' entrance inopportune. At any rate they received him
coldly, Donald drew Christine a little apart, said a few whispered
words to her, and lifting his bonnet slightly to James, he went away.

In the few minutes of this unfortunate meeting the devil entered into
James' heart. Even Christine was struck with the new look on his face.
It was haughty, malicious, and triumphant, and he leaned against the
high oaken chimney-piece in a defiant way that annoyed Christine,
though she could not analyze it.

"Sit down, James," she said with a touch of authority--for his
attitude had unconsciously put her on the defensive. "Donald has gone
to the Caledonian club; there is to be a grand gathering of Highland
gentlemen there to-night."

"_Gentlemen!_"

"Well, yes, _gentlemen!_ And there will be none there more worthy the
name than our Donald."

"The rest of them are much to be scorned at, then."

"James, James, that speech was little like you. Sit down and come to
yourself; I am sure you are not so mean as to grudge Donald the rights
of his good birth."

"Donald McFarlane shall have all the rights he has worked for; and
when he gets his just payment he will be in Glasgow jail."

"James, you are ill. You have not been here for a week, and you look
so unlike yourself. I know you must be ill. Will you let me send for
our doctor?" And she approached him kindly, and looked with anxious
scrutiny into his face.

He put her gently away, and said in a thick, rapid voice,

"Christine, I came to-night to tell you that Donald McFarlane is
unworthy to come into your presence--he has forged your father's
name."

"James, you are mad, or ill, what you say is just impossible!"

"I am neither mad nor ill. I will prove it, if you wish."

At these words every trace of sympathy or feeling vanished from her
face; and she said in a low, hoarse whisper,

"You cannot prove it. I would not believe such a thing possible."

Then with a pitiless particularity he went over all the events
relating to the note, and held it out for her to examine the
signature.

"Is that David Cameron's writing?" he cried; "did you ever see such a
weak imitation? The man is a fool as well as a villain."

Christine gazed blankly at the witness of her cousin's guilt, and
James, carried away with the wicked impetuosity of his passionate
accusations of Donald's life, did not see the fair face set in white
despair and the eyes close wearily, as with a piteous cry she fell
prostrate at his feet.

Ah, how short was his triumph! When he saw the ruin that his words had
made he shrieked aloud in his terror and agony. Help was at hand, and
doctors were quickly brought, but she had received a shock from which
it seemed impossible to revive her. David was brought home, and knelt
in speechless distress by the side of his insensible child, but no
hope lightened the long, terrible night, and when the reaction came in
the morning, it came in the form of fever and delirium.

Questioned closely by David, James admitted nothing but that while
talking to him about Donald McFarlane she had fallen at his feet, and
Donald could only say that he had that evening told her he was going
to Edinburgh in two weeks, to study law with his cousin, and that he
had asked her to be his wife.

This acknowledgement bound David and Donald in a closer communion of
sorrow. James and his sufferings were scarcely noticed. Yet, probably
of all that unhappy company, he suffered the most. He loved Christine
with a far deeper affection than Donald had ever dreamed of. He would
have given his life for hers, and yet he had, perhaps, been her
murderer. How he hated Donald in those days! What love and remorse
tortured him! And what availed it that he had bought the power to ruin
the man he hated? He was afraid to use it. If Christine lived, and he
did use it, she would never forgive him; if she died, he would be her
murderer.

But the business of life cannot be delayed for its sorrows. David must
wait in his shop, and James must be at the bank; and in two weeks
Donald had to leave for Edinburgh, though Christine was lying in a
silent, broken-hearted apathy, so close to the very shoal of Time that
none dared say, "She will live another day."

How James despised Donald for leaving her at all; he desired nothing
beyond the permission to sit by her side, and watch and aid the slow
struggle of life back from the shores and shades of death.

It was almost the end of summer before she was able to resume her
place in the household, but long before that she had asked to see
James. The interview took place one Sabbath afternoon while David was
at church. Christine had been lifted to a couch, but she was unable to
move, and even speech was exhausting and difficult to her. James knelt
down by her side, and, weeping bitterly, said,

"O Christine, forgive me!"

She smiled faintly.

"You--have--not--used--yonder--paper,--James?"

"Oh, no, no."

"It--would--kill--me. You--would--not--kill--me?"

"I would die to make you strong again."

"Don't--hurt--Donald. Forgive--for--Christ's--sake,--James!"

Poor James! It was hard for him to see that still Donald was her first
thought, and, looking on the wreck of Christine's youth and beauty, it
was still harder not to hate him worse than ever.

Nor did the temptation to do so grow less with time. He had to listen
every evening to David's praises of his nephew: how "he had been
entered wi' Advocate Scott, and was going to be a grand lawyer," or
how he had been to some great man's house and won all hearts with his
handsome face and witty tongue. Or, perhaps, he would be shown some
rich token of his love that had come for Christine; or David would
say, "There's the 'Edinbro' News,' James; it cam fra Donald this morn;
tak it hame wi' you. You're welcome." And James feared not to take it,
feared to show the slightest dislike to Donald, lest David's anger at
it should provoke him to say what was in his heart, and Christine only
be the sufferer.

One cold night in early winter, James, as was his wont now, went to
spend the evening in talking with David and in watching Christine.
That was really all it was; for, though she had resumed her house
duties, she took little part in conversation. She had always been
inclined to silence, but now a faint smile and a "Yes" or "No" were
her usual response, even to her father's remarks. This night he found
David out, and he hesitated whether to trouble Christine or not. He
stood for a moment in the open door and looked at her. She was sitting
by the table with a little Testament open in her hand; but she was
rather musing on what she had been reading than continuing her
occupation.

"Christine!"

"James!"

"May I come in?"

"Yes, surely."

"I hear your father has gone to a town-meeting."

"Yes."

"And he is to be made a bailie."

"Yes."

"I am very glad. It will greatly please him, and there is no citizen
more worthy of the honor."

"I think so also."

"Shall I disturb you if I wait to see him?"

"No, James; sit down."

Then Christine laid aside her book and took her sewing, and James sat
thinking how he could best introduce the subject ever near his heart.
He felt that there was much to say in his own behalf, if he only knew
how to begin. Christine opened the subject for him. She laid down her
work and went and stood before the fire at his side. The faintest
shadow of color was in her face, and her eyes were unspeakably sad and
anxious. He could not bear their eager, searching gaze, and dropped
his own.

"James, have you destroyed yonder paper?"

"Nay, Christine; I am too poor a man to throw away so much hard-won
gold. I am keeping it until I can see Mr. McFarlane and quietly
collect my own."

"You will never use it in any way against him?"

"Will you ever marry him? Tell me that."

"O sir!" she cried indignantly, "you want to make a bargain with my
poor heart. Hear, then. If Donald wants me to marry him I'll never
cast him off. Do you think God will cast him off for one fault? You
dare not say it."

"I do not say but what God will pardon. But we are human beings; we
are not near to God yet."

"But we ought to be trying to get near him; and oh, James, you never
had so grand a chance. See the pitiful face of Christ looking down on
you from the cross. If that face should turn away from you, James--if
it should!"

"You ask a hard thing of me, Christine."

"Yes, I do."

"But if you will only try and love me--"

"Stop, James! I will make no bargain in a matter of right and wrong.
If for Christ's sake, who has forgiven you so much, you can forgive
Donald, for Christ's dear sake do it. If not, I will set no earthly
love before it. Do your worst. God can find out a way. I'll trust
him."

"Christine! dear Christine!"

"Hush! I am Donald's promised wife. May God speak to you for me. I am
very sad and weary. Good-night."

James did not wait for David's return. He went back to his own
lodging, and, taking the note out of his pocket-book, spread it before
him. His first thought was that he had wared £89 on his enemy's fine
clothes, and James loved gold and hated foppish, extravagant dress;
his next that he had saved Andrew Starkie £89, and he knew the old
usurer was quietly laughing at his folly. But worse than all was the
alternative he saw as the result of his sinful purchase: if he used it
to gratify his personal hatred, he deeply wounded, perhaps killed, his
dearest love and his oldest friend. Hour after hour he sat with the
note before him. His good angel stood at his side and wooed him to
mercy. There was a fire burning in the grate, and twice he held the
paper over it, and twice turned away from his better self.

The watchman was calling "half-past two o'clock," when, cold and weary
with his mental struggle, he rose and went to his desk. There was a
secret hiding-place behind a drawer there, in which he kept papers
relating to his transactions with Andrew Starkie, and he put it among
them. "I'll leave it to its chance," he muttered; "a fire might come
and burn it up some day. If it is God's will to save Donald, he could
so order it, and I am fully insured against pecuniary loss." He did
not at that moment see how presumptuously he was throwing his own
responsibility on God; he did not indeed want to see anything but some
plausible way of avoiding a road too steep for a heart weighed down
with earthly passion to dare.

Then weeks and months drifted away in the calm regular routine of
David's life. But though there were no outward changes, there was a
very important inward one. About sixteen months after Donald's
departure he returned to visit Christine. James, at Christine's urgent
request, absented himself during this visit; but when he next called
at David's, he perceived at once that all was not as had been
anticipated. David had little to say about him; Christine looked paler
and sadder than ever. Neither quite understood why. There had been no
visible break with Donald, but both father and daughter felt that he
had drifted far away from them and their humble, pious life. Donald
had lost the child's heart he had brought with him from the mountains;
he was ambitious of honors, and eager after worldly pleasures and
advantages. He had become more gravely handsome, and he talked more
sensibly to David; but David liked him less.

After this visit there sprang up a new hope in James' heart, and he
waited and watched, though often with very angry feelings; for he was
sure that Donald was gradually deserting Christine.

She grew daily more sad and silent; it was evident she was suffering.
The little Testament lay now always with her work, and he noticed that
she frequently laid aside her sewing and read it earnestly, even while
David and he were quietly talking at the fireside.

One Sabbath, two years after Donald's departure, James met David
coming out of church alone. He could only say, "I hope Christine is
well."

"Had she been well, she had been wi' me; thou kens that, James."

"I might have done so. Christine is never absent from God's house when
it is open."

"It is a good plan, James; for when they who go regular to God's house
are forced to stay away, God himself asks after them. I hae no doubt
but what Christine has been visited."

They walked on in silence until David's house was in sight. "I'm no
caring for any company earth can gie me the night, James; but the morn
I hae something to tell you I canna speak anent to-day."



CHAPTER V.


The next day David came into the bank about noon, and said, "Come wi'
me to McLellan's, James, and hae a mutton pie, it's near by
lunch-time." While they were eating it David said, "Donald McFarlane
is to be wedded next month. He's making a grand marriage."

James bit his lip, but said nothing.

"He's spoken for Miss Margaret Napier; her father was ane o' the Lords
o' Session; she's his sole heiress, and that will mean £50,000, foreby
the bonnie place and lands o' Ellenshawe."

"And Christine?"

"Dinna look that way, man. Christine is content; she kens weel enough
she isna like her cousin."

"God be thanked she is not. Go away from me, David Cameron, or I shall
say words that will make more suffering than you can dream off. Go
away, man."

David was shocked and grieved at his companion's passion. "James," he
said solemnly, "dinna mak a fool o' yoursel'. I hae long seen your
ill-will at Donald. Let it go. Donald's aboon your thumb now, and the
anger o' a poor man aye falls on himsel'."

"For God's sake don't tempt me farther. You little know what I could
do if I had the ill heart to do it."

"Ow! ay!" said David scornfully, "if the poor cat had only wings it
would extirpate the race of sparrows from the world; but when the
wings arena there, James lad, it is just as weel to mak no boast o'
them."

James had leaned his head in his hands, and was whispering,
"Christine! Christine! Christine!" in a rapid inaudible voice. He took
no notice of David's remark, and David was instantly sorry for it.
"The puir lad is just sorrowful wi' love for Christine, and that's nae
sin that I can see," he thought. "James," he said kindly, "I am sorry
enough to grieve you. Come as soon as you can like to do it. You'll be
welcome."

James slightly nodded his head, but did not move; and David left him
alone in the little boarded room where they had eaten. In a few
minutes he collected himself, and, like one dazed, walked back to his
place in the bank. Never had its hours seemed so long, never had the
noise and traffic, the tramping of feet, and the banging of doors
seemed so intolerable. As early as possible he was at David's, and
David, with that fine instinct that a kind heart teaches, said as he
entered, "Gude evening, James. Gae awa ben and keep Christine company.
I'm that busy that I'll no shut up for half an hour yet."

James found Christine in her usual place. The hearth had been freshly
swept, the fire blazed brightly, and she sat before it with her white
seam in her hand. She raised her eyes at James' entrance, and
smilingly nodded to a vacant chair near her. He took it silently.
Christine seemed annoyed at his silence in a little while, and asked,
"Why don't you speak, James? Have you nothing to say?"

"A great deal, Christine. What now do you think of Donald McFarlane?"

"I think well of Donald."

"And of his marriage also?"

"Certainly I do. When he was here I saw how unfit I was to be his
wife. I told him so, and bid him seek a mate more suitable to his
position and prospects."

"Do you think it right to let yonder lady wed such a man with her eyes
shut?"

"Are you going to open them?" Her face was sad and mournful, and she
laid her hand gently on James' shoulder.

"I think it is my duty, Christine."

"Think again, James. Be sure it is your duty before you go on such an
errand. See if you dare kneel down and ask God to bless you in this
duty."

"Christine, you treat me very hardly. You know how I love you, and you
use your power over me unmercifully."

"No, no, James, I only want you to keep yourself out of the power of
Satan. If indeed I have any share in your heart, do not wrong me by
giving Satan a place there also. Let me at least respect you, James."

Christine had never spoken in this way before to him; the majesty and
purity of her character lifted him insensibly to higher thoughts, her
gentleness soothed and comforted him. When David came in he found them
talking in a calm, cheerful tone, and the evening that followed was
one of the pleasantest he could remember. Yet James understood that
Christine trusted in his forbearance, and he had no heart to grieve
her, especially as she did her best to reward him by striving to make
his visits to her father unusually happy.

So Donald married Miss Napier, and the newspapers were full of the
bridegroom's beauty and talents, and the bride's high lineage and
great possessions. After this Donald and Donald's affairs seemed to
very little trouble David's humble household. His marriage put him far
away from Christine's thoughts, for her delicate conscience would have
regarded it as a great sin to remember with any feeling of love
another woman's affianced husband; and when the struggle became one
between right and wrong, it was ended for Christine. David seldom
named him, and so Donald McFarlane gradually passed out of the lives
he had so sorely troubled.

Slowly but surely James continued to prosper; he rose to be cashier in
the bank, and he won a calm but certain place in Christine's regard.
She had never quite recovered the shock of her long illness; she was
still very frail, and easily exhausted by the least fatigue or
excitement. But in James' eyes she was perfect; he was always at his
best in her presence, and he was a very proud and happy man when,
after eight years' patient waiting and wooing, he won from her the
promise to be his wife; for he knew that with Christine the promise
meant all that it ought to mean.

The marriage made few changes in her peaceful life. James left the
bank, put his savings in David's business, and became his partner. But
they continued to live in the same house, and year after year passed
away in that happy calm which leaves no records, and has no fate days
for the future to date from.

Sometimes a letter, a newspaper, or some public event, would bring
back the memory of the gay, handsome lad that had once made so bright
the little back parlor. Such strays from Donald's present life were
always pleasant ones. In ten years he had made great strides forward.
Every one had a good word for him. His legal skill was quoted as
authority, his charities were munificent, his name unblemished by a
single mean deed.

Had James forgotten? No, indeed. Donald's success only deepened his
hatred of him. Even the silence he was compelled to keep on the
subject intensified the feeling. Once after his marriage he attempted
to discuss the subject with Christine, but the scene had been so
painful he had never attempted it again; and David was swift and
positive to dismiss any unfavorable allusion to Donald. Once, on
reading that "Advocate McFarlane had joined the Free Kirk of Scotland
on open confession of faith," James flung down the paper and said
pointedly, "I wonder whether he confessed his wrong-doing before his
faith or not."

"There's nane sae weel shod, James, that they mayna slip," answered
David, with a stern face. "He has united wi' Dr. Buchan's
kirk--there's nane taken into that fellowship unworthily, as far as
man can judge."

"He would be a wise minister that got at all Advocate McFarlane's
sins, I am thinking."

"Dinna say all ye think, James. They walk too fair for earth that
naebody can find fault wi'."

So James nursed the evil passion in his own heart; indeed, he had
nursed it so long that he could not of himself resign it, and in all
his prayers--and he did pray frequently, and often sincerely--he never
named this subject to God, never once asked for his counsel or help in
the matter.

Twelve years after his marriage with Christine David died, died as he
had often wished to die, very suddenly. He was well at noon; at night
he had put on the garments of eternal Sabbath. He had but a few
moments of consciousness in which to bid farewell to his children.
"Christine," he said cheerfully, "we'll no be lang parted, dear
lassie;" and to James a few words on his affairs, and then almost with
his last breath, "James, heed what I say: 'Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall--obtain mercy.'"

There seemed to have been some prophetic sense in David's parting
words to his daughter, for soon after his death she began to fail
rapidly. What James suffered as he saw it only those can tell who have
watched their beloved slowly dying, and hoped against hope day after
day and week after week. Perhaps the hardest part was the knowledge
that she had never recovered the health she had previous to the
terrible shock which his revelation of Donald's guilt had been to her.
He forgot his own share in the shock and threw the whole blame of her
early decay on Donald. "And if she dies," he kept saying in his angry
heart, "I will make him suffer for it."

And Christine was drawing very near to death, though even when she was
confined to her room and bed James would not believe it. And it was at
this time that Donald came once more to Glasgow. There was a very
exciting general election for a new Parliament, and Donald stood for
the Conservative party in the city of Glasgow. Nothing could have so
speedily ripened James' evil purpose. Should a forger represent his
native city? Should he see the murderer of his Christine win honor
upon honor, when he had but to speak and place him among thieves?

During the struggle he worked frantically to defeat him--and failed.
That night he came home like a man possessed by some malicious,
ungovernable spirit of hell. He would not go to Christine's room, for
he was afraid she would discover his purpose in his face, and win him
from it. For now he had sworn to himself that he would only wait until
the congratulatory dinner. He could get an invitation to it. All the
bailies and the great men of the city would be there. The newspaper
reporters would be there. His triumph would be complete. Donald would
doubtless make a great speech, and after it _he_ would say his few
words.

Then he thought of Christine. But she did not move him now, for she
was never likely to hear of it. She was confined to her bed; she read
nothing but her Bible; she saw no one but her nurse. He would charge
the nurse, and he would keep all papers and letters from her. He
thought of nothing now but the near gratification of a revengeful
purpose for which he had waited twenty years. Oh, how sweet it seemed
to him!

The dinner was to be in a week, and during the next few days he was
like a man in a bad dream. He neglected his business, and wandered
restlessly about the house, and looked so fierce and haggard that
Christine began to notice, to watch, and to fear. She knew that Donald
was in the city, and her heart told her that it was his presence only
that could so alter her husband; and she poured it out in strong
supplications for strength and wisdom to avert the calamity she felt
approaching.

That night her nurse became sick and could not remain with her, and
James, half reluctantly, took her place, for he feared Christine's
influence now. She would ask him to read the Bible, to pray with her;
she might talk to him of death and heaven; she might name Donald, and
extract some promise from him. And he was determined now that nothing
should move him. So he pretended great weariness, drew a large chair
to her bedside, and said,

"I shall try and sleep a while, darling; if you need me you have only
to speak."



CHAPTER VI.


He was more weary than he knew, and ere he was aware he fell asleep--a
restless, wretched sleep, that made him glad when the half-oblivion
was over. Christine, however, was apparently at rest, and he soon
relapsed into the same dark, haunted state of unconsciousness.
Suddenly he began to mutter and moan, and then to speak with a hoarse,
whispered rapidity that had in it something frightful and unearthly.
But Christine listened with wide-open eyes, and heard with sickening
terror the whole wicked plot. It fell from his half-open lips over and
over in every detail; and over and over he laughed low and terribly at
the coming shame of the hated Donald.

She had not walked alone for weeks, nor indeed been out of her room
for months, but she must go now; and she never doubted her strength.
As if she had been a spirit, she slipped out of bed, walked rapidly
and noiselessly into the long-unfamiliar parlor. A rushlight was
burning, and the key of the old desk was always in it. Nothing
valuable was kept there, and people unacquainted with the secret of
the hidden drawer would have looked in vain for the entrance to it.
Christine had known it for years, but her wifely honor had held it
more sacred than locks or keys could have done. She was aware only
that James kept some private matter of importance there, and she would
as readily have robbed her husband's purse as have spied into things
of which he did not speak to her.

Now, however, all mere thoughts of courtesy or honor must yield before
the alternative in which James and Donald stood. She reached the desk,
drew out the concealing drawer, pushed aside the slide, and touched
the paper. There were other papers there, but something taught her at
once the right one. To take it and close the desk was but the work of
a moment, then back she flew as swiftly and noiselessly as a spirit
with the condemning evidence tightly clasped in her hand.

James was still muttering and moaning in his troubled sleep, and with
the consciousness of her success all her unnatural strength passed
away. She could hardly secrete it in her bosom ere she fell into a
semi-conscious lethargy, through which she heard with terror her
husband's low, weird laughter and whispered curses.

At length the day for the dinner came. James had procured an
invitation, and he made unusual personal preparations for it. He was
conscious that he was going to do a very mean action, but he would
look as well as possible in the act. He had even his apology for it
ready; he would say that "as long as it was a private wrong he had
borne the loss patiently for twenty years, but that the public welfare
demanded honest men, men above reproach, and he could no longer feel
it his duty," etc., etc.

After he was dressed he bid Christine "Good-by."

"He would only stay an hour," he said, "and he must needs go, as
Donald was her kin."

Then he went to the desk, and with hands trembling in their eagerness
sought the bill. It was not there. _Impossible!_ He looked
again--again more carefully--could not believe his eyes, and looked
again and again. It was really gone. If the visible hand of God had
struck him, he could not have felt it more consciously. He
mechanically closed the desk and sat down like one stunned. Cain might
have felt as James did when God asked him, "Where is thy brother?" He
did not think of prayer. No "God be merciful to me a sinner" came as
yet from his dry, white lips. The fountains of his heart seemed dry as
dust. The anger of God weighed him down till

      "He felt as one
  Who, waking after some strange, fevered dream,
  Sees a dim land and things unspeakable,
  And comes to know at last that it is hell."

Meantime Christine was lying with folded hands, praying for him. She
knew what an agony he was going through, and ceaselessly with pure
supplications she prayed for his forgiveness. About midnight one came
and told him his wife wanted to see him. He rose with a wretched sigh,
and looked at the clock. He had sat there six hours. He had thought
over everything, over and over--the certainty that the paper was
there, the fact that no other paper had been touched, and that no
human being but Christine knew of the secret place. These things
shocked him beyond expression. It was to his mind a visible assertion
of the divine prerogative; he had really heard God say to him,
"Vengeance is mine." The lesson that in these materialistic days we
would reason away, James humbly accepted. His religious feelings were,
after all, his deepest feelings, and in those six hours he had so
palpably felt the frown of his angry Heavenly Father that he had quite
forgotten his poor, puny wrath at Donald McFarlane.

As he slowly walked up stairs to Christine he determined to make to
her a full confession of the deed he had meditated. But when he
reached her bedside he saw that she was nearly dead. She smiled
faintly and said,

"Send all away, James. I must speak alone with you, dear; we are going
to part, my husband."

Then he knelt down by her side and held her cold hands, and the
gracious tears welled up in his hot eyes, and he covered them with the
blessed rain.

"O James, how you have suffered--since six o'clock."

"You know then, Christine! I would weep tears of blood over my sin. O
dear, dear wife, take no shameful memory of me into eternity with
you."

"See how I trust you, James. Here is poor, weak Donald's note. I know
now you will never use it against him. What if your six hours were
lengthened out through life--through eternity? I ask no promise from
you now, dear."

"But I give it. Before God I give it, with all my heart. My sin has
found me out this night. How has God borne with me all these years?
Oh, how great is his mercy!"

Then Christine told him how he had revealed his wicked plot, and how
wonderful strength had been given her to defeat it; and the two souls,
amid their parting sighs and tears, knew each other as they had never
done through all their years of life.

For a week James remained in his own room. Then Christine was laid
beside her father, and the shop was reopened, and the household
returned to its ways. But James was not seen in house or shop, and the
neighbors said,

"Kirsty Cameron has had a wearisome sickness, and nae doobt her
gudeman was needing a rest. Dootless he has gane to the Hielands a
bit."

But it was not northward James Blackie went. It was south; south past
the bonnie Cumberland Hills and the great manufacturing towns of
Lancashire and the rich valleys of Yorkshire; southward until he
stopped at last in London. Even then, though he was weary and sick and
the night had fallen, he did not rest. He took a carriage and drove at
once to a fashionable mansion in Baker street. The servant looked
curiously at him and felt half inclined to be insolent to such a
visitor.

"Take that card to your master at once," he said in a voice whose
authority could not be disputed, and the man went.

His master was lying on a sofa in a luxuriously-furnished room,
playing with a lovely girl about four years old, and listening
meanwhile to an enthusiastic account of a cricket match that two boys
of about twelve and fourteen years were giving him. He was a
strikingly handsome man, in the prime of life, with a thoroughly happy
expression. He took James' card in a careless fashion, listened to the
end of his sons' story, and then looked at it. Instantly his manner
changed; he stood up, and said promptly,

"Go away now, Miss Margaret, and you also, Angus and David; I have an
old friend to see." Then to the servant, "Bring the gentleman here at
once."

When he heard James' step he went to meet him with open hand; but
James said,

"Not just yet, Mr. McFarlane; hear what I have to say. Then if you
offer your hand I will take it."

"Christine is dead?"

"Dead, dead."

They sat down opposite each other, and James did not spare himself.
From his discovery of the note in old Starkie's possession until the
death of Christine, he confessed everything. Donald sat with downcast
eyes, quite silent. Once or twice his fierce Highland blood surged
into his face, and his hand stole mechanically to the place where his
dirk had once been, but the motion was as transitory as a thought.
When James had finished he sat with compressed lips for a few moments,
quite unable to control his speech; but at length he slowly said,

"I wish I had known all this before; it would have saved much sin and
suffering. You said that my indifference at first angered you. I must
correct this. I was not indifferent. No one can tell what suffering
that one cowardly act cost me. But before the bill fell due I went
frankly to Uncle David and confessed all my sin. What passed between
us you may guess; but he forgave me freely and fully, as I trust God
did also. Hence there was no cause for its memory to darken life."

"I always thought Christine had told her father," muttered James.

"Nay, but I told him myself. He said he would trace the note, and I
have no doubt he knew it was in your keeping from the first."

Then James took it from his pocket-book.

"There it is, Mr. McFarlane. Christine gave it back to me the hour she
died. I promised her to bring it to you and tell you all."

"Christine's soul was a white rose without a thorn. I count it an
honor to have known and loved her. But the paper is yours, Mr.
Blackie, unless I may pay for it."

"O man, man! what money could pay for it? I would not dare to sell it
for the whole world! Take it, I pray you."

"I will not. Do as you wish with it, James, I can trust you."

Then James walked towards the table. There were wax lights burning on
it, and he held it in the flame and watched it slowly consume away to
ashes. The silence was so intense that they heard each other
breathing, and the expression on James' face was so rapt and noble
that even Donald's stately beauty was for the moment less attractive.
Then he walked towards Donald and said,

"Now give me your hand, McFarlane, and I'll take it gladly."

And that was a handclasp that meant to both men what no words could
have expressed.

"Farewell, McFarlane; our ways in this world lie far apart; but when
we come to die it will comfort both of us to remember this meeting.
God be with you!"

"And with you also, James. Farewell."

Then James went back to his store and his shadowed household life. And
people said he looked happier than ever he had done, and pitied him
for his sick wife, and supposed he felt it a happy release to be rid
of her. So wrongly does the world, which knows nothing of our real
life, judge us.

You may see his gravestone in Glasgow Necropolis to-day, and people
will tell you that he was a great philanthropist, and gave away a
noble fortune to the sick and the ignorant; and you will probably
wonder to see only beneath his name the solemn text, "Vengeance is
mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."



Facing His Enemy.



FACING HIS ENEMY.


CHAPTER I.


Forty years ago there stood in the lower part of the city of Glasgow a
large, plain building which was to hundreds of very intelligent
Scotchmen almost sacred ground. It stood among warehouses and
factories, and in a very unfashionable quarter; but for all that, it
was Dr. William Morrison's kirk. And Dr. Morrison was in every respect
a remarkable man--a Scotchman with the old Hebrew fervor and
sublimity, who accepted the extremest tenets of his creed with a deep
religious faith, and scorned to trim or moderate them in order to suit
what he called "a sinfu' latitudinarian age."

Such a man readily found among the solid burghers of Glasgow a large
"following" of a very serious kind, douce, dour men, whose
strongly-marked features looked as if they had been chiselled out of
their native granite--men who settled themselves with a grave kind of
enjoyment to listen to a full hour's sermon, and who watched every
point their minister made with a critical acumen that seemed more
fitting to a synod of divines than a congregation of weavers and
traders.

A prominent man in this remarkable church was Deacon John Callendar.
He had been one of its first members, and it was everything to his
heart that Jerusalem is to the Jew, or Mecca to the Mohammedan. He
believed his minister to be the best and wisest of men, though he was
by no means inclined to allow himself a lazy confidence in this
security. It was the special duty of deacons to keep a strict watch
over doctrinal points, and though he had never had occasion to dissent
in thirty years' scrutiny, he still kept the watch.

In the temporal affairs of the church it had been different. There was
no definite creed for guidance in these matters, and eight or ten men
with strong, rugged wills about £, _s_., _d_., each thinking highly of
his own discretion in monetary affairs, and rather indifferently of
the minister's gifts in this direction, were not likely to have always
harmonious sessions.

They had had a decidedly inharmonious one early in January of 184-,
and Deacon Callendar had spoken his mind with his usual blunt
directness. He had been a good deal nettled at the minister's
attitude, for, instead of seconding his propositions, Dr. Morrison had
sat with a faraway, indifferent look, as if the pending discussion was
entirely out of his range of interest. John could have borne
contradiction better. An argument would have gratified him. But to
have the speech and statistics which he had so carefully prepared fall
on the minister's ear without provoking any response was a great trial
of his patience. He was inwardly very angry, though outwardly very
calm; but Dr. Morrison knew well what a tumult was beneath the dour
still face of the deacon as he rose from his chair, put on his plaid,
and pulled his bonnet over his brows.

"John," he said kindly, "you are a wise man, and I aye thought so. It
takes a Christian to lead passion by the bridle. A Turk is a placid
gentleman, John, but he cannot do it."

"Ou, ay! doubtless! There is talk o' the Turk and the Pope, but it is
my neighbors that trouble me the maist, minister. Good-night to ye
all. If ye vote to-night you can e'en count my vote wi' Dr.
Morrison's; it will be as sensible and warld-like as any o' the lave."

With this parting reflection he went out. It had begun to snow, and
the still, white solitude made him ashamed of his temper. He looked up
at the quiet heavens above him, then at the quiet street before him,
and muttered with a spice of satisfaction, "Speaking comes by nature,
and silence by understanding. I am thankfu' now I let Deacon Strang
hae the last word. I'm saying naught against Strang; he may gie good
counsel, but they'll be fools that tak it."

"Uncle!"

"Hout, Davie! Whatna for are you here?"

"It began to snow, and I thought you would be the better of your cloak
and umbrella. You seem vexed, uncle."

"Vexed? Ay. The minister is the maist contrary o' mortals. He kens
naething about church government, and he treats gude siller as if it
wasna worth the counting; but he's a gude man, and a great man, Davie,
and folk canna serve the altar and be money-changers too. I ought to
keep that i' mind. It's Deacon Strang, and no the minister."

"Well, uncle, you must just thole it; you know what the New Testament
says?"

"Ay, ay; I ken it says if a man be struck on one cheek, he must turn
the other; but, Davie, let me tell you that the man who gets the first
blow generally deserves the second. It is gude Christian law no to
permit the first stroke. That is my interpretation o' the matter."

"I never thought of that."

"Young folk don't think o' everything."

There was something in the tone of this last remark which seemed to
fit best into silence, and David Callendar had a particular reason for
not further irritating his uncle. The two men without any other remark
reached the large, handsome house in Blytheswood Square which was
their home. Its warmth and comfort had an immediate effect on the
deacon. He looked pleasantly at the blazing fire and the table on the
hearthrug, with its basket of oaten cakes, its pitcher of cream, and
its whiskey-bottle and toddy glasses. The little brass kettle was
simmering before the fire, his slippers were invitingly warm, his
loose coat lying over the back of his soft, ample chair, and just as
he had put them on, and sank down with a sigh of content, a bright old
lady entered with a spicy dish of kippered salmon.

"I thought I wad bring ye a bit relish wi' your toddy, deacon. Talking
is hungry wark. I think a man might find easier pleasuring than going
to a kirk session through a snowstorm."

"A man might, Jenny. They'd suit women-folk wonderfu'; there's plenty
o' talk and little wark."

"Then I dinna see ony call to mak a change, deacon."

"Now, Jenny, you've had the last word, sae ye can go to bed wi' an
easy mind. And, Jenny, woman, dinna let your quarrel wi' Maggie
Launder come between you and honest sleep. I think that will settle
her," he observed with a pawky smile, as his housekeeper shut the door
with unnecessary haste.

Half an hour afterwards, David, mixing another glass of toddy, drew
his chair closer to the fire, and said, "Uncle John, I want to speak
to you."

"Speak on, laddie;" but David noticed that even with the permission,
cautious curves settled round his uncle's eyes, and his face assumed
that business-like immobility which defied his scrutiny.

"I have had a very serious talk with Robert Leslie; he is thinking of
buying Alexander Hastie out."

"Why not think o' buying out Robert Napier, or Gavin Campbell, or
Clydeside Woolen Works? A body might as weel think o' a thousand
spindles as think o' fifty."

"But he means business. An aunt, who has lately died in Galloway, has
left him £2,000."

"That isna capital enough to run Sandy Hastie's mill."

"He wants me to join him."

"And how will that help matters? Twa thousand pounds added to Davie
Callendar will be just £2,000."

"I felt sure you would lend me £2,000; and in that case it would be a
great chance for me. I am very anxious to be--"

"Your ain maister."

"Not that altogether, uncle, although you know well the Callendars
come of a kind that do not like to serve. I want to have a chance to
make money."

"How much of your salary have you saved?"

"I have never tried to save anything yet, uncle, but I am going to
begin."

The old man sat silent for a few moments, and then said, "I wont do
it, Davie."

"It is only £2,000, Uncle John."

"_Only_ £2,000! Hear the lad! Did ye ever mak £2,000? Did ye ever save
£2,000? When ye hae done that ye'll ne'er put in the adverb, Davie.
_Only £2,000, indeed!_"

"I thought you loved me, uncle."

"I love no human creature better than you. Whatna for should I not
love you? You are the only thing left to me o' the bonnie brave
brother who wrapped his colors round him in the Afghan Pass, the
brave-hearted lad who died fighting twenty to one. And you are whiles
sae like him that I'm tempted--na, na, that is a' byganes. I will not
let you hae the £2,000, that is the business in hand."

"What for?"

"If you will hear the truth, that second glass o' whiskey is reason
plenty. I hae taken my ane glass every night for forty years, and I
hae ne'er made the ane twa, except New Year's tide."

"That is fair nonsense, Uncle John. There are plenty of men whom you
trust for more than £2,000 who can take four glasses for their
nightcap always."

"That may be; I'm no denying it; but what is lawfu' in some men is
sinfu' in others."

"I do not see that at all."

"Do you mind last summer, when we were up in Argyleshire, how your
cousin, Roy Callendar, walked, with ne'er the wink o' an eyelash, on a
mantel-shelf hanging over a three-hundred-feet precipice? Roy had the
trained eyesight and the steady nerve which made it lawfu' for him;
for you or me it had been suicide--naething less sinfu'. Three or four
glasses o' whiskey are safer for some men than twa for you. I hae been
feeling it my duty to tell you this for some time. Never look sae
glum, Davie, or I'll be thinking it is my siller and no mysel' you
were caring for the night when ye thought o' my cloak and umbrella."

The young man rose in a perfect blaze of passion.

"Sit down, sit down," said his uncle. "One would think you were your
grandfather, Evan Callendar, and that some English red-coat had trod
on your tartan. Hout! What's the use o' a temper like that to folk wha
hae taken to the spindle instead o' the claymore?"

"I am a Callendar for all that."

"Sae am I, sae am I, and vera proud o' it fore-bye. We are a' kin,
Davie; blood is thicker than water, and we wont quarrel."

David put down his unfinished glass of toddy. He could not trust
himself to discuss the matter any farther, but as he left the room he
paused, with the open door in his hand, and said,

"If you are afraid I am going to be a drunkard, why did you not care
for the fear before it became a question of £2,000? And if I ever do
become one, remember this, Uncle John--you mixed my first glass for
me!"



CHAPTER II.


A positive blow could hardly have stunned John Callendar as this
accusation did. He could not have answered it, even if he had had an
opportunity, and the shock was the greater that it brought with it a
sudden sense of responsibility, yea, even guilt. At first the feeling
was one of anger at this sudden charge of conscience. He began to
excuse himself; he was not to blame if other people could not do but
they must o'erdo; then to assure himself that, being God's child,
there could be no condemnation in the matter to him. But his heart was
too tender and honest to find rest in such apologies, and close upon
his anger at the lad crowded a host of loving memories that would not
be put away.

David's father had been very dear to him. He recalled his younger
brother in a score of tender situations: the schoolhouse in which they
had studied cheek to cheek over one book; the little stream in which
they had paddled and fished on holidays, the fir-wood, the misty
corries, and the heathery mountains of Argyle; above all, he
remembered the last time that he had ever seen the bright young face
marching at the head of his company down Buchanan street on his way to
India. David's mother was a still tenderer memory, and John
Callendar's eyes grew misty as his heart forced him to recall that
dark, wintry afternoon when she had brought David to him, and he had
solemnly promised to be a father to the lad. It was the last promise
between them; three weeks afterwards he stood at her grave's side.
Time is said to dim such memories as these. It never does. After many
years some sudden event recalls the great crises of any life with all
the vividness of their first occurrence.

Confused as these memories were, they blended with an equal confusion
of feelings. Love, anger, regret, fear, perplexity, condemnation,
excuse, followed close on each other, and John's mind, though
remarkably clear and acute, was one trained rather to the
consideration of things point by point than to the catching of the
proper clew in a mental labyrinth. After an hour's miserable
uncertainty he was still in doubt what to do. The one point of comfort
he had been able to reach was the hope that David had gone straight to
Jenny with his grievance. "And though women-folk arena much as
counsellors," thought John, "they are wonderfu' comforters; and Jenny
will ne'er hear tell o' his leaving the house; sae there will be time
to put right what is wrong."

But though David had always hitherto, when lessons were hard or
lassies scornful, gone with his troubles to the faithful Jenny, he did
not do so at this time. He did not even bid her "Good-night," and
there was such a look on his face that she considered it prudent not
to challenge the omission.

"It will be either money or marriage," she thought. "If it be money,
the deacon has mair than is good for him to hae; if it be marriage, it
will be Isabel Strang, and that the deacon wont like. But it is his
ain wife Davie is choosing, and I am for letting the lad hae the lass
he likes best."

Jenny had come to these conclusions in ten minutes, but she waited
patiently for an hour before she interrupted her master. Then the
clock struck midnight, and she felt herself aggrieved. "Deacon," she
said sharply, "ye should mak the day day and the night night, and ye
would if ye had a three weeks' ironing to do the morn. It has chappit
twelve, sir."

"Jenny, I'm not sleeplike to-night. There hae been ill words between
David and me."

"And I am mair than astonished at ye, deacon. Ye are auld enough to
ken that ill words canna be wiped out wi' a sponge. Our Davie isna an
ordinar lad; he can be trusted where the lave would need a watcher. Ye
ken that, deacon, for he is your ain bringing up."

"But, Jenny, £2,000 for his share o' Hastie's mill! Surely ye didna
encourage the lad in such an idea?"

"Oh, sae it's money," thought Jenny. "What is £2,000 to you, deacon?
Why should you be sparing and saving money to die wi'? The lad isna a
fool."

"I dinna approve o' the partner that is seeking him, Jenny. I hae
heard things anent Robert Leslie that I dinna approve of; far from
it."

"Hae ye _seen_ anything wrong?"

"I canna say I hae."

"Trust to your eyes, deacon; they believe themselves, and your ears
believe other people; ye ken which is best. His father was a decent
body."

"Ay, ay; but Alexander Leslie was different from his son Robert. He
was a canny, cautious man, who could ding for his ain side, and who
always stood by the kirk. Robert left Dr. Morrison's soon after his
father died. The doctor was too narrow for Robert Leslie. Robert
Leslie has wonderfu' broad ideas about religion now. Jenny, I dinna
like the men who are their ain Bibles and ministers."

"But there are good folk outside Dr. Morrison's kirk, deacon, surely."

"We'll trust so, surely, we'll trust so, Jenny; but a man wi' broad
notions about religion soon gets broad notions about business and all
other things. Why, Jenny, I hae heard that Robert Leslie once spoke o'
the house o' John Callendar & Co. as 'old fogyish!'"

"That's no hanging matter, deacon, and ye must see that the world is
moving."

"Maybe, maybe; but I'se never help it to move except in the safe,
narrow road. Ye ken the Garloch mill-stream? It is narrow enough for a
good rider to leap, but it is deep, and it does its wark weel summer
and winter. They can break down the banks, woman, and let it spread
all over the meadow; bonnie enough it will look, but the mill-clapper
would soon stop. Now there's just sae much power, spiritual or
temporal, in any man; spread it out, and it is shallow and no to be
depended on for any purpose whatever. But narrow the channel, Jenny,
narrow the channel, and it is a driving force."

"Ye are getting awa from the main subject, deacon. It is the £2,000,
and ye had best mak up your mind to gie it to Davie. Then ye can gang
awa to your bed and tak your rest."

"You talk like a--like a woman. It is easy to gie other folks' siller
awa. I hae worked for my siller."

"Your siller, deacon? Ye hae naught but a life use o' it. Ye canna
take it awa wi' ye. Ye can leave it to the ane you like best, but that
vera person may scatter it to the four corners o' the earth. And why
not? Money was made round that it might roll. It is little good yours
is doing lying in the Clyde Trust."

"Jenny Callendar, you are my ain cousin four times removed, and you
hae a kind o' right to speak your mind in my house; but you hae said
enough, woman. It isna a question of money only; there are ither
things troubling me mair than that. But women are but one-sided
arguers. Good-night to you."

He turned to the fire and sat down, but after a few moments of the
same restless, confused deliberation, he rose and went to his Bible.
It lay open upon its stand, and John put his hand lovingly, reverently
upon the pages. He had no glasses on, and he could not see a letter,
but he did not need to.

"It is my Father's word," he whispered; and, standing humbly before
it, he recalled passage after passage, until a great calm fell upon
him. Then he said,

"I will lay me down and sleep now; maybe I'll see clearer in the
morning light."

Almost as soon as he opened his eyes in the morning there was a tap at
his door, and the gay, strong voice he loved so dearly asked,

"Can I come in, Uncle John?"

"Come in, Davie."

"Uncle, I was wrong last night, and I cannot be happy with any shadow
between us two."

Scotchmen are not demonstrative, and John only winked his eyes and
straightened out his mouth; but the grip of the old and young hand
said what no words could have said half so eloquently. Then the old
man remarked in a business-like way,

"I hae been thinking, Davie, I would go and look o'er Hastie's
affairs, and if I like the look o' them I'll buy the whole concern out
for you. Partners are kittle cattle. Ye will hae to bear their
shortcomings as well as your ain. Tak my advice, Davie; rule your
youth well, and your age will rule itsel'."

"Uncle, you forget that Robert Leslie is in treaty with Hastie. It
would be the height of dishonor to interfere with his bargain. You
have always told me never to put my finger in another man's bargain.
Let us say no more on the subject. I have another plan now. If it
succeeds, well and good; if not, there are chances behind this one."

John fervently hoped there would be no more to say on this subject,
and when day after day went by without any reference to Hastie or
Robert Leslie, John Callendar felt much relieved. David also had
limited himself to one glass of toddy at night, and this unspoken
confession and reformation was a great consolation to the old man. He
said to himself that the evil he dreaded had gone by his door, and he
was rather complacent over the bold stand he had taken.

That day, as he was slowly walking through the Exchange, pondering a
proposal for Virginia goods, Deacon Strang accosted him. "Callendar, a
good day to ye; I congratulate ye on the new firm o' Callendar &
Leslie. They are brave lads, and like enough--if a' goes weel--to do
weel."

John did not allow an eyelash to betray his surprise and chagrin. "Ah,
Strang!" he answered, "the Callendars are a big clan, and we are a'
kin; sae, if you tak to congratulating me on every Callendar whose
name ye see aboon a doorstep, you'll hae mair business on hand than
you'll ken how to manage. A good day to you!" But Deacon Callendar
went up Great George street that day with a heavy, angry heart. His
nephew opened the door for him. "Uncle John, I have been looking all
over for you. I have something to tell you."

"Fiddler's news, Davie. I hae heard it already. Sae you hae struck
hands wi' Robert Leslie after a', eh?"

"He had my promise, uncle, before I spoke to you. I could not break
it."

"H'm! Where did you get the £2,000?"

"I borrowed it."

"Then I hope 'the party' looked weel into the business."

"They did not. It was loaned to me on my simple representation."

"'Simple representation!' Vera simple! It was some woman, dootless."

"It was my mother's aunt, Lady Brith."

"Ou, ay! I kent it. Weel, when a bargain is made, wish it good luck;
sae, Jenny, put a partridge before the fire, and bring up a bottle O'
Madeira."

It was not however a lively meal. John was too proud and hurt to ask
for information, and David too much chilled by his reserve to
volunteer it. The wine, being an unusual beverage to John, made him
sleepy; and when David said he had to meet Robert Leslie at nine
o'clock, John made no objection and no remark. But when Jenny came in
to cover up the fire for the night, she found him sitting before it,
rubbing his hands in a very unhappy manner.

"Cousin," he said fretfully, "there is a new firm in Glasgo' to-day."

"I hae heard tell o' it. God send it prosperity."

"It isna likely, Jenny; auld Lady Brith's money to start it! The
godless auld woman! If Davie taks her advice, he's a gane lad."

"Then, deacon, it's your ain fault. Whatna for did ye not gie him the
£2,000?"

"Just hear the woman! It taks women and lads to talk o' £2,000 as if
it were picked up on the planestanes."

"If ye had loaned it, deacon, ye would hae had the right to spier into
things, and gie the lad advice. He maun tak his advice where he taks
his money. Ye flung that chance o' guiding Davie to the four winds.
And let me tell ye, Cousin Callendar, ye hae far too tight a grip on
this warld's goods. The money is only loaned to you to put out at
interest for the Master. It ought to be building kirks and
schoolhouses, and sending Bibles to the far ends o' the earth. When
you are asked what ye did wi' it, how will you like to answer, 'I hid
it safely awa, Lord, in the Clyde Trust and in Andrew Fleming's
bank!'"

"That will do, woman. Now you hae made me dissatisfied wi' my guiding
o' Davie, and meeserable anent my bank account, ye may gang to your
bed; you'll doobtless sleep weel on the thought."



CHAPTER III.


However, sometimes things are not so ill as they look. The new firm
obtained favor, and even old, cautious men began to do a little
business with it. For Robert introduced some new machinery, and the
work it did was allowed, after considerable suspicion, to be "vera
satisfactory." A sudden emergency had also discovered to David that he
possessed singularly original ideas in designing patterns; and he set
himself with enthusiasm to that part of the business. Two years
afterwards came the Great Fair of 1851, and Callendar & Leslie took a
first prize for their rugs, both design and workmanship being
honorably mentioned.

Their success seemed now assured. Orders came in so fast that the mill
worked day and night to fill them; and David was so gay and happy that
John could hardly help rejoicing with him. Indeed, he was very proud
of his nephew, and even inclined to give Robert a little cautious
kindness. The winter of 1851 was a very prosperous one, but the spring
brought an unlooked-for change.

One evening David came home to dinner in a mood which Jenny
characterized as "_thrawart_." He barely answered her greeting, and
shut his room-door with a bang. He did not want any dinner, and he
wanted to be let alone. John looked troubled at this behavior. Jenny
said, "It is some lass in the matter; naething else could mak a
sensible lad like Davie act sae child-like and silly." And Jennie was
right. Towards nine o'clock David came to the parlor and sat down
beside his uncle. He said he had been "greatly annoyed."

"Annoyances are as certain as the multiplication table," John remarked
quietly, "and ye ought to expect them--all the mair after a long run
o' prosperity."

"But no man likes to be refused by the girl he loves."

"Eh? Refused, say ye? Wha has refused you?"

"Isabel Strang. I have loved her, as you and Jenny know, since we went
to school together, and I was sure that she loved me. Two days ago I
had some business with Deacon Strang, and when it was finished I spoke
to him anent Isabel. He made me no answer then, one way or the other,
but told me he would have a talk with Isabel, and I might call on him
this afternoon. When I did so he said he felt obligated to refuse my
offer."

"Weel?"

"That is all."

"Nonsense! Hae you seen Isabel hersel'?"

"She went to Edinburgh last night."

"And if you were your uncle, lad, you would hae been in Edinburgh too
by this time. Your uncle would not stay refused twenty-four hours, if
he thought the lass loved him. Tut, tut, you ought to hae left at
once; that would hae been mair like a Callendar than ganging to your
ain room to sit out a scorning. There is a train at ten o'clock
to-night; you hae time to catch it if ye dinna lose a minute, and if
you come back wi' Mrs. David Callendar, I'll gie her a warm welcome
for your sake."

The old man's face was aglow, and in his excitement he had risen to
his feet with the very air of one whom no circumstances could depress
or embarrass. David caught his mood and his suggestion, and in five
minutes he was on his way to the railway dépôt. The thing was done so
quickly that reflection had formed no part of it. But when Jenny heard
the front-door clash impatiently after David, she surmised some
imprudence, and hastened to see what was the matter. John told her the
"affront" David had received, and looked eagerly into the strong,
kindly face for an assurance that he had acted with becoming
promptitude and sympathy. Jenny shook her head gravely, and regarded
the deacon with a look of pitying disapproval. "To think," she said,
"of twa men trying to sort a love affair, when there was a woman
within call to seek counsel o'."

"But we couldna hae done better, Jenny."

"Ye couldna hae done warse, deacon. Once the lad asked ye for money,
and ye wouldna trust him wi' it; and now ye are in sic a hurry to send
him after a wife that he maun neither eat nor sleep. Ye ken which is
the maist dangerous. And you, wi' a' your years, to play into auld
Strang's hand sae glibly! Deacon, ye hae made a nice mess o' it. Dinna
ye see that Strang knew you twa fiery Hielandmen would never tak
'No,' and he sent Isabel awa on purpose for our Davie to run after her.
He kens weel they will be sure to marry, but he'll say now that his
daughter disobeyed him; sae he'll get off giving her a bawbee o' her
fortune, and he'll save a' the plenishing and the wedding expenses.
Deacon, I'm ashamed o' you. Sending a love-sick lad on sic a fool's
errand. And mair, I'm not going to hae Isabel Strang, or Isabel
Callendar here. A young woman wi' bridish ways dawdling about the
house, I canna, and I willna stand. You'll hae to choose atween Deacon
Strang's daughter and your auld cousin, Jenny Callendar."

John had no answer ready, and indeed Jenny gave him no time to make
one: she went off with a sob in her voice, and left the impulsive old
matchmaker very unhappy indeed. For he had an unmitigated sense of
having acted most imprudently, and moreover, a shrewd suspicion that
Jenny's analysis of Deacon Strang's tactics was a correct one. For the
first time in many a year, a great tide of hot, passionate anger swept
away every other feeling. He longed to meet Strang face to face, and
with an hereditary and quite involuntary instinct he put his hand to
the place where his forefathers had always carried their dirks. The
action terrified and partly calmed him. "My God!" he exclaimed,
"forgive thy servant. I hae been guilty in my heart o' murder."

He was very penitent, but still, as he mused the fire burned; and he
gave vent to his feelings in odd, disjointed sentences thrown up from
the very bottom of his heart, as lava is thrown up by the
irrepressible eruption: "Wha shall deliver a man from his ancestors?
Black Evan Callendar was never much nearer murder than I hae been this
night, only for the grace of God, which put the temptation and the
opportunity sae far apart. I'll hae Strang under my thumb yet. God
forgie me! what hae I got to do wi' sorting my ain wrongs? What for
couldna Davie like some other lass? It's as easy to graft on a good
stock as an ill one. I doobt I hae done wrong. I am in a sair swither.
The righteous dinna always see the right way. I maun e'en to my Psalms
again. It is a wonderfu' comfort that King David was just a weak,
sinfu' mortal like mysel'." So he went again to those pathetic,
self-accusing laments of the royal singer, and found in them, as he
always had done, words for all the great depths of his sin and fear,
his hopes and his faith.

In the morning one thing was clear to him; David must have his own
house now--David must leave him. He could not help but acknowledge
that he helped on this consummation, and it was with something of the
feeling of a man doing a just penance that he went to look at a
furnished house, whose owner was going to the south of France with a
sick daughter. The place was pretty, and handsomely furnished, and
John paid down the year's rent. So when David returned with his young
bride, he assumed at once the dignity and the cares of a householder.

Jenny was much offended at the marriage of David. She had looked
forward to this event as desirable and probable, but she supposed it
would have come with solemn religious rites and domestic feasting, and
with a great gathering in Blytheswood Square of all the Callendar
clan. That it had been "a wedding in a corner," as she contemptuously
called it, was a great disappointment to her. But, woman-like, she
visited it on her own sex. It was all Isabel's fault, and from the
very first day of the return of the new couple she assumed an air of
commiseration for the young husband, and always spoke of him as "poor
Davie."

This annoyed John, and after his visits to David's house he was
perhaps unnecessarily eloquent concerning the happiness of the young
people. Jenny received all such information with a dissenting silence.
She always spoke of Isabel as "Mistress David," and when John reminded
her that David's wife was "Mistress Callendar," she said, "It was weel
kent that there were plenty o' folk called Callendar that werna
Callendars for a' that." And it soon became evident to her womanly
keen-sightedness that John did not always return from his visits to
David and Isabel in the most happy of humors. He was frequently too
silent and thoughtful for a perfectly satisfied man; but whatever his
fears were, he kept them in his own bosom. They were evidently as yet
so light that hope frequently banished them altogether; and when at
length David had a son and called it after his uncle, the old man
enjoyed a real springtime of renewed youth and pleasure. Jenny was
partly reconciled also, for the happy parents treated her with special
attention, and she began to feel that perhaps David's marriage might
turn out better than she had looked for.

Two years after this event Deacon Strang became reconciled to his
daughter, and as a proof of it gave her a large mansion situated in
the rapidly-growing "West End." It had come into his possession at a
bargain in some of the mysterious ways of his trade; but it was, by
the very reason of its great size, quite unsuitable for a young
manufacturer like David. Indeed, it proved to be a most unfortunate
gift in many ways.

"It will cost £5,000 to furnish it," said John fretfully, "and that
Davie can ill afford--few men could; but Isabel has set her heart on
it."

"And she'll hae her will, deacon. Ye could put £5,000 in the business
though, or ye could furnish for them."

"My way o' furnishing wouldna suit them; and as for putting back money
that David is set on wasting, I'll no do it. It is a poor well, Jenny,
into which you must put water. If David's business wont stand his
drafts on it, the sooner he finds it out the better."

So the fine house was finely furnished; but that was only the
beginning of expenses. Isabel now wanted dress to suit her new
surroundings, and servants to keep the numerous rooms clean. Then she
wanted all her friends and acquaintances to see her splendid
belongings, so that erelong David found his home turned into a
fashionable gathering-place. Lunches, dinners, and balls followed
each other quickly, and the result of all this visiting was that
Isabel had long lists of calls to make every day, and that she finally
persuaded David that it would be cheaper to buy their own carriage
than to pay so much hire to livery-stables.

These changes did not take place all at once, nor without much
disputing. John Callendar opposed every one of them step by step till
opposition was useless. David only submitted to them in order to
purchase for himself a delusive peace during the few hours he could
afford to be in his fine home; for his increased expenditure was not a
thing he could bear lightly. Every extra hundred pounds involved extra
planning and work and risks. He gradually lost all the cheerful
buoyancy of manner and the brightness of countenance that had been
always part and parcel of David Callendar. A look of care and
weariness was on his face, and his habits and hours lost all their
former regularity. It had once been possible to tell the time of day
by the return home of the two Callendars. Now no one could have done
that with David. He stayed out late at night; he stayed out all night
long. He told Isabel the mill needed him, and she either believed him
or pretended to do so.

So that after the first winter of her fashionable existence she
generally "entertained" alone. "Mr. Callendar had gone to Stirling, or
up to the Highlands to buy wool," or, "he was so busy money-making she
could not get him to recognize the claims of society." And society
cared not a pin's point whether he presided or not at the expensive
entertainments given in his name.



CHAPTER IV.


But things did not come to this pass all at once; few men take the
steps towards ruin so rapidly as to be themselves alarmed by it. It
was nearly seven years after his marriage when the fact that he was in
dangerously embarrassed circumstances forced itself suddenly on
David's mind. I say "suddenly" here, because the consummation of evil
that has been long preparing comes at last in a moment; a string
holding a picture gets weaker and weaker through weeks of tension, and
then breaks. A calamity through nights and days moves slowly towards
us step by step, and then some hour it has come. So it was with
David's business. It had often lately been in tight places, but
something had always happened to relieve him. One day, however, there
was absolutely no relief but in borrowing money, and David went to his
uncle again.

It was a painful thing for him to do; not that they had any quarrel,
though sometimes David thought a quarrel would be better than the
scant and almost sad intercourse their once tender love had fallen
into. By some strange mental sympathy, hardly sufficiently recognized
by us, John was thinking of his nephew when he entered. He greeted him
kindly, and pulled a chair close, so that David might sit beside him.
He listened sympathizingly to his cares, and looked mournfully into
the unhappy face so dear to him; then he took his bank-book and wrote
out a check for double the amount asked.

The young man was astonished; the tears sprang to his eyes, and he
said, "Uncle, this is very good of you. I wish I could tell you how
grateful I am."

"Davie, sit a moment, you dear lad. I hae a word to say to ye. I hear
tell that my lad is drinking far mair than is good either for himsel'
or his business. My lad, I care little for the business; let it go, if
its anxieties are driving thee to whiskey. David, remember what thou
accused me of, yonder night, when this weary mill was first spoken of;
and then think how I suffer every time I hear tell o' thee being the
warse o' liquor. And Jenny is greeting her heart out about thee. And
there is thy sick wife, and three bonnie bit bairns."

"Did Isabel tell you this?"

"How can she help complaining? She is vera ill, and she sees little o'
thee, David, she says."

"Yes, she is ill. She took cold at Provost Allison's ball, and she has
dwined away ever since. That is true. And the house is neglected and
the servants do their own will both with it and the poor children. I
have been very wretched, Uncle John, lately, and I am afraid I have
drunk more than I ought to have done. Robert and I do not hit together
as we used to; he is always fault-finding, and ever since that visit
from his cousin who is settled in America he has been dissatisfied and
heartless. His cousin has made himself a rich man in ten years there;
and Robert says we shall ne'er make money here till we are too old to
enjoy it."

"I heard tell, too, that Robert has been speculating in railway stock.
Such reports, true or false, hurt you, David. Prudent men dinna like
to trust speculators."

"I think the report is true; but then it is out of his private savings
he speculates."

"Davie, gie me your word that you wont touch a drop o' whiskey for a
week--just for a week."

"I cannot do it, uncle. I should be sure to break it. I don't want to
tell you a lie."

"O Davie, Davie! Will you try, then?"

"I'll try, uncle. Ask Jenny to go and see the children."

"'Deed she shall go; she'll be fain to do it. Let them come and stay
wi' me till their mother is mair able to look after them."

Jenny heard the story that night with a dour face. She could have said
some very bitter things about Deacon Strang's daughter, but in
consideration of her sickness she forbore. The next morning she went
to David's house and had a talk with Isabel. The poor woman was so ill
that Jenny had no heart to scold her; she only gave the house "a good
sorting," did what she could for Isabel's comfort, and took back with
her the children and their nurse. It was at her suggestion John saw
David the next day, and offered to send Isabel to the mild climate of
Devonshire. "She'll die if she stays in Glasgo' through the winter,"
he urged, and David consented. Then, as David could not leave his
business, John himself took the poor woman to Torbay, and no one but
she and God ever knew how tenderly he cared for her, and how solemnly
he tried to prepare her for the great change he saw approaching. She
had not thought of death before, but when they parted he knew she had
understood him, for weeping bitterly, she said, "You will take care of
the children, Uncle John? I fear I shall see them no more."

"I will, Isabel. While I live I will."

"And, O uncle, poor David! I have not been a good wife to him.
Whatever happens, think of that and judge him mercifully. It is my
fault, uncle, my fault, my fault! God forgive me!"

"Nae, nae, lassie; I am far from innocent mysel';" and with these
mournful accusations they parted for ever.

For Isabel's sickness suddenly assumed an alarming character, and her
dissolution was so rapid that John had scarcely got back to Glasgow
ere David was sent for to see his wife die. He came back a bereaved
and very wretched man; the great house was dismantled and sold, and he
went home once more to Blytheswood Square.

But he could not go back to his old innocent life and self; and the
change only revealed to John how terribly far astray his nephew had
gone. And even Isabel's death had no reforming influence on him; it
only roused regrets and self-reproaches, which made liquor all the
more necessary to him. Then the breaking up of the house entailed much
bargain-making, all of which was unfortunately cemented with glasses
of whiskey toddy. Still his uncle had some new element of hope on
which to work. David's home was now near enough to his place of
business to afford no excuse for remaining away all night. The
children were not to be hid away in some upper room; John was
determined they should be at the table and on the hearthstone; and
surely their father would respect their innocence and keep himself
sober for their sakes.

"It is the highest earthly motive I can gie him," argued the anxious
old man, "and he has aye had grace enough to keep out o' my sight when
he wasna himsel'; he'll ne'er let wee John and Flora and Davie see him
when the whiskey is aboon the will and the wit--that's no to be
believed."

And for a time it seemed as if John's tactics would prevail. There
were many evenings when they were very happy. The children made so gay
the quiet old parlor, and David learning to know his own boys and
girl, was astonished at their childish beauty and intelligence. Often
John could not bear to break up the pleasant evening time, and David
and he would sit softly talking in the firelight, with little John
musing quietly between them, and Flora asleep on her uncle's lap. Then
Jenny would come gently in and out and say tenderly, "Hadna the bairns
better come awa to their beds?" and the old man would answer, "Bide a
bit, Jenny, woman," for he thought every such hour was building up a
counter influence against the snare of strong drink.

But there is no voice in human nature that can say authoritatively,
"_Return!_" David felt all the sweet influences with which he was
surrounded, but, it must be admitted, they were sometimes an
irritation to him. His business troubles, and his disagreements with
his partner, were increasing rapidly; for Robert--whose hopes were set
on America--was urging him to close the mill before their liabilities
were any larger. He refused to believe longer in the future making
good what they had lost; and certainly it was uphill work for David to
struggle against accumulating bills, and a partner whose heart was not
with him.

One night at the close of the year, David did not come home to dinner,
and John and the children ate it alone. He was very anxious, and he
had not much heart to talk; but he kept the two eldest with him until
little Flora's head dropped, heavy with sleep, on his breast. Then a
sudden thought seemed to strike him, and he sent them, almost
hurriedly, away. He had scarcely done so when there was a shuffling
noise in the hall, the parlor-door was flung open with a jar, and
David staggered towards him--_drunk_!

In a moment, John's natural temper conquered him; he jumped to his
feet, and said passionately, "How daur ye, sir? Get out o' my house,
you sinfu' lad!" Then, with a great cry he smote his hands together
and bowed his head upon them, weeping slow, heavy drops, that came
each with a separate pang. His agony touched David, though he scarcely
comprehended it. Not all at once is the tender conscience seared, and
the tender heart hardened.

"Uncle," he said in a maudlin, hesitating way, which it would be a sin
to imitate--"Uncle John, I'm not drunk, I'm in trouble; I'm in
trouble, Uncle John. Don't cry about me. I'm not worth it."

Then he sank down upon the sofa, and, after a few more incoherent
apologies, dropped into a deep sleep.



CHAPTER V.


John sat and looked at his fallen idol with a vacant, tear-stained
face. He tried to pray a few words at intervals, but he was not yet
able to gird up his soul and wrestle with this grief. When Jenny came
in she was shocked at the gray, wretched look with which her master
pointed to the shameful figure on the sofa. Nevertheless, she went
gently to it, raised the fallen head to the pillow, and then went and
got a blanket to cover the sleeper, muttering,

"Poor fellow! There's nae need to let him get a pleurisy, ony gate.
Whatna for did ye no tell me, deacon? Then I could hae made him a cup
o' warm tea."

She spoke as if she was angry, not at David, but at John; and, though
it was only the natural instinct of a woman defending what she dearly
loved, John gave it a different meaning, and it added to his
suffering.

"You are right, Jenny, woman," he said humbly, "it is my fault. I
mixed his first glass for him."

"Vera weel. Somebody aye mixes the first glass. Somebody mixed your
first glass. That is a bygane, and there is nae use at a' speiring
after it. How is the lad to be saved? That is the question now."

"O Jenny, then you dare to hope for his salvation?"

"I would think it far mair sinfu' to despair o' it. The Father has twa
kinds o' sons, deacon. Ye are ane like the elder brother; ye hae
'served him many years and transgressed not at any time his
commandment;' but this dear lad is his younger son--still his son,
mind ye--and he'll win hame again to his Father's house. What for not?
He's the bairn o' many prayers. Gae awa to your ain room, deacon; I'll
keep the watch wi' him. He'd rather see me nor you when he comes to
himsel'."

Alas! the watch begun that night was one Jenny had very often to keep
afterwards. David's troubles gathered closer and closer round him, and
the more trouble he had the deeper he drank. Within a month after that
first shameful homecoming the firm of Callendar & Leslie went into
sequestration. John felt the humiliation of this downcome in a far
keener way than David did. His own business record was a stainless
one; his word was as good as gold on Glasgow Exchange; the house of
John Callendar & Co. was synonymous with commercial integrity. The
prudent burghers who were his nephew's creditors were far from
satisfied with the risks David and Robert Leslie had taken, and they
did not scruple to call them by words which hurt John Callendar's
honor like a sword-thrust. He did not doubt that many blamed him for
not interfering in his nephew's extravagant business methods; and he
could not explain to these people how peculiarly he was situated with
regard to David's affairs; nor, indeed, would many of them have
understood the fine delicacy which had dictated John's course.

It was a wretched summer every way. The accountant who had charge of
David's affairs was in no hurry to close up a profitable engagement,
and the creditors, having once accepted the probable loss, did not
think it worth while to deny themselves their seaside or Highland
trips to attend meetings relating to Callendar & Leslie. So there was
little progress made in the settlement of affairs all summer, and
David was literally out of employment. His uncle's and his children's
presence was a reproach to him, and Robert and he only irritated each
other with mutual reproaches. Before autumn brought back manufacturers
and merchants to their factories and offices David had sunk still
lower. He did not come home any more when he felt that he had drunk
too much. He had found out houses where such a condition was the
natural and the most acceptable one--houses whose doors are near to
the gates of hell.

This knowledge shocked John inexpressibly, and in the depth of his
horror and grief he craved some human sympathy.

"I must go and see Dr. Morrison," he said one night to Jenny.

"And you'll do right, deacon; the grip o' his hand and the shining o'
his eyes in yours will do you good; forbye, you ken weel you arena fit
to guide yoursel', let alane Davie. You are too angry, and angry men
tell many a lie to themsel's."

There is often something luminous in the face of a good man, and Dr.
Morrison had this peculiarity in a remarkable degree. His face seemed
to radiate light; moreover, he was a man anointed with the oil of
gladness above his fellows, and John no sooner felt the glow of that
radiant countenance on him than his heart leaped up to welcome it.

"Doctor," he said, choking back his sorrow, "doctor, I'm fain to see
you."

"John, sit down. What is it, John?"

"It's David, minister."

And then John slowly, and weighing every word so as to be sure he
neither over-stated nor under-stated the case, opened up his whole
heart's sorrow.

"I hae suffered deeply, minister; I didna think life could be such a
tragedy."

"A tragedy indeed, John, but a tragedy with an angel audience. Think
of that. Paul says 'we are a spectacle unto men and angels.' Mind how
you play your part. What is David doing now?"

"Nothing. His affairs are still unsettled."

"But that wont do, John. Men learn to do ill by doing what is next to
it--nothing. Without some duty life cannot hold itself erect. If a man
has no regular calling he is an unhappy man and a cross man, and I
think prayers should be offered up for his wife and children and a'
who have to live with him. Take David into your own employ at once."

"O minister, that I canna do! My office has aye had God-fearing,
steady men in it, and I canna, and--"

"'And that day Jesus was guest in the house of a man that was a
sinner.' John, can't you take a sinner as a servant into your office?"

"I'll try it, minister."

"And, John, it will be a hard thing to do, but you must watch David
constantly. You must follow him to his drinking-haunts and take him
home; if need be, you must follow him to warse places and take him
home. You must watch him as if all depended on your vigilance, and you
must pray for him as if nothing depended on it. You hae to conquer on
your knees before you go into the world to fight your battle, John.
But think, man, what a warfare is set before you--the saving of an
immortal soul! And I'm your friend and helper in the matter; the lad
is one o' my stray lambs; he belongs to my fold. Go your ways in God's
strength, John, for this grief o' yours shall be crowned with
consolation."

It is impossible to say how this conference strengthened John
Callendar. Naturally a very choleric man, he controlled himself into a
great patience with his erring nephew. He watched for him like a
father; nay, more like a mother's was the thoughtful tenderness of his
care. And David was often so touched by the love and forbearance shown
him, that he made passionate acknowledgments of his sin and earnest
efforts to conquer it. Sometimes for a week together he abstained
entirely, though during these intervals of reason he was very trying.
His remorse, his shame, his physical suffering, were so great that he
needed the most patient tenderness; and yet he frequently resented
this tenderness in a moody, sullen way that was a shocking contrast to
his once bright and affectionate manner.

So things went on until the close of the year. By that time the
affairs of the broken firm had been thoroughly investigated, and it
was found that its liabilities were nearly £20,000 above its assets.
Suddenly, however, bundle wools took an enormous rise, and as the
stock of "Callendar & Leslie" was mainly of this kind, they were
pushed on the market, and sold at a rate which reduced the firm's
debts to about £17,000. This piece of good fortune only irritated
David; he was sure now that if Robert had continued the fight they
would have been in a position to clear themselves. Still, whatever
credit was due the transaction was frankly given to David. It was his
commercial instinct that had divined the opportunity and seized it,
and a short item in the "Glasgow Herald" spoke in a cautiously
flattering way of the affair.

Both John and David were greatly pleased at the circumstance. David
also had been perfectly sober during the few days he had this stroke
of business in hand, and the public acknowledgment of his service to
the firm's creditors was particularly flattering to him. He came down
to breakfast that morning as he had not come for months. It was a
glimpse of the old Davie back again, and John was as happy as a child
in the vision. Into his heart came at once Dr. Morrison's assertion
that David must have some regular duty to keep his life erect. It was
evident that the obligation of a trust had a controlling influence
over him.

"David," he said cheerfully, "you must hae nearly done wi' that first
venture o' yours. The next will hae to redeem it; that is all about
it. Everything is possible to a man under forty years auld."

"We have our final meeting this afternoon, uncle. I shall lock the
doors for ever to-night."

"And your debts are na as much as you expected."

"They will not be over £17,000, and they may be considerably less. I
hope to make another sale this morning. There are yet three thousand
bundles in the stock."

"David, I shall put £20,000 in your ain name and for your ain use,
whatever that use may be, in the Western Bank this morning. I think
you'll do the best thing you can do to set your name clear again. If
you are my boy you will."

"Uncle John, you cannot really mean that I may pay every shilling I
owe, and go back on the Exchange with a white name? O uncle, if you
should mean this, what a man you would make of me!"

"It is just what I mean to do, Davie. Is na all that I have yours and
your children's? But oh, I thank God that you hae still a heart that
counts honor more than gold. David, after this I wont let go one o'
the hopes I have ever had for you."

"You need not, uncle. Please God, and with his help, I will make every
one of them good."

And he meant to do it. He never had felt more certain of himself or
more hopeful for the future than when he went out that morning. He
touched nothing all day, and as the short, dark afternoon closed in,
he went cheerfully towards the mill, with his new check-book in his
pocket and the assurance in his heart that in a few hours he could
stand up among his fellow-citizens free from the stain of debt.

His short speech at the final meeting was so frank and manly, and so
just and honorable to his uncle, that it roused a quiet but deep
enthusiasm. Many of the older men had to wipe the mist from their
glasses, and the heaviest creditor stood up and took David's hand,
saying, "Gentlemen, I hae made money, and I hae saved money, and I hae
had money left me; but I never made, nor saved, nor got money that
gave me such honest pleasure as this siller I hae found in twa honest
men's hearts. Let's hae in the toddy and drink to the twa Callendars."

Alas! alas! how often is it our friends from whom we ought to pray to
be preserved. The man meant kindly; he was a good man, he was a
God-fearing man, and even while he was setting temptation before his
poor, weak brother, he was thinking "that money so clean and fair and
unexpected should be given to some holy purpose." But the best of us
are the slaves of habit and chronic thoughtlessness. All his life he
had signalled every happy event by a libation of toddy; everybody else
did the same; and although he knew David's weakness, he did not think
of it in connection with that wisest of all prayers, "Lead us not into
temptation."



CHAPTER VI.


David ought to have left then, but he did not; and when his uncle's
health was given, and the glass of steaming whiskey stood before him,
he raised it to his lips and drank. It was easy to drink the second
glass and the third, and so on. The men fell into reminiscence and
song, and no one knew how many glasses were mixed; and even when they
stood at the door they turned back for "a thimbleful o' raw speerit to
keep out the cold," for it had begun to snow, and there was a chill,
wet, east wind.

Then they went; and when their forms were lost in the misty gloom, and
even their voices had died away, David turned back to put out the
lights, and lock the mill-door for the last time. Suddenly it struck
him that he had not seen Robert Leslie for an hour at least, and while
he was wondering about it in a vague, drunken way, Robert came out of
an inner room, white with scornful anger, and in a most quarrelsome
mood.

"You have made a nice fool of yoursel', David Callendar! Flinging awa
so much gude gold for a speech and a glass o' whiskey! Ugh!"

"You may think so, Robert. The Leslies have always been 'rievers and
thievers;' but the Callendars are of another stock."

"The Callendars are like ither folk--good and bad, and mostly bad.
Money, not honor, rules the warld in these days; and when folk have
turned spinners, what is the use o' talking about honor! Profit is a
word more fitting."

"I count mysel' no less a Callendar than my great-grandfather, Evan
Callendar, who led the last hopeless charge on Culloden. If I am a
spinner, I'll never be the first to smirch the roll o' my house with
debt and dishonesty, if I can help it."

"Fair nonsense! The height of nonsense! Your ancestors indeed! Mules
make a great to-do about their ancestors having been horses!"

David retorted with hot sarcasm on the freebooting Leslies, and their
kin the Armstrongs and Kennedys; and to Scotchmen this is the very
sorest side of a quarrel. They can forgive a bitter word against
themselves perhaps, but against their clan, or their dead, it is an
unpardonable offence. And certainly Robert had an unfair advantage; he
was in a cool, wicked temper of envy and covetousness. He could have
struck himself for not having foreseen that old John Callendar would
be sure to clear the name of dishonor, and thus let David and his
£20,000 slip out of his control.

David had drunk enough to excite all the hereditary fight in his
nature, and not enough to dull the anger and remorse he felt for
having drunk anything at all. The dreary, damp atmosphere and the
cold, sloppy turf of Glasgow Green might have brought them back to the
ordinary cares and troubles of every-day life, but it did not. This
grim oasis in the very centre of the hardest and bitterest existences
was now deserted. The dull, heavy swash of the dirty Clyde and the
distant hum of the sorrowful voices of humanity in the adjacent
streets hardly touched the sharp, cutting accents of the two
quarrelling men. No human ears heard them, and no human eyes saw the
uplifted hands and the sway and fall of Robert Leslie upon the smutty
and half melted snow, except David's.

Yes; David saw him fall, and heard with a strange terror the peculiar
thud and the long moan that followed it. It sobered him at once and
completely. The shock was frightful. He stood for a moment looking at
the upturned face, and then with a fearful horror he stooped and
touched it. There was no response to either entreaties or movement,
and David was sure after five minutes' efforts there never would be.
Then his children, his uncle, his own life, pressed upon him like a
surging crowd. His rapid mind took in the situation at once. There was
no proof. Nobody had seen them leave together. Robert had certainly
left the company an hour before it scattered; none of them could know
that he was waiting in that inner room. With a rapid step he took his
way through Kent street into a region where he was quite unknown, and
by a circuitous route reached the foot of Great George street.

He arrived at home about eight o'clock. John had had his dinner, and
the younger children had gone to bed. Little John sat opposite him on
the hearthrug, but the old man and the child were both lost in
thought. David's face at once terrified his uncle.

"Johnnie," he said, with a weary pathos in his voice, "your father
wants to see me alane. You had best say 'Gude-night,' my wee man."

The child kissed his uncle, and after a glance into his father's face
went quietly out. His little heart had divined that he "must not
disturb papa." David's eyes followed him with an almost overmastering
grief and love, but when John said sternly, "Now, David Callendar,
what is it this time?" he answered with a sullen despair,

"It is the last trouble I can bring you. I have killed Robert Leslie!"

The old man uttered a cry of horror, and stood looking at his nephew
as if he doubted his sanity.

"I am not going to excuse mysel', sir. Robert said some aggravating
things, and he struck me first; but that is neither here nor there. I
struck him and he fell. I think he hit his head in falling; but it was
dark and stormy, I could not see. I don't excuse mysel' at all. I am
as wicked and lost as a man can be. Just help me awa, Uncle John, and
I will trouble you no more for ever."

"Where hae you left Robert?"

"Where he fell, about 300 yards above Rutherglen Bridge."

"You are a maist unmerciful man! I ne'er liked Robert, but had he been
my bitterest enemy I would hae got him help if there was a chance for
life, and if not, I would hae sought a shelter for his corpse."

Then he walked to the parlor door, locked it, and put the key in his
pocket.

"As for helping you awa, sir, I'll ne'er do it, ne'er; you hae sinned,
and you'll pay the penalty, as a man should do."

"Uncle, have mercy on me."

"Justice has a voice as weel as mercy. O waly, waly!" cried the
wretched old man, going back to the pathetic Gælic of his childhood,
"O waly, waly! to think o' the sin and the shame o' it. Plenty o'
Callendars hae died before their time, but it has been wi' their faces
to their foes and their claymores in their hands. O Davie, Davie! my
lad, my lad! My Davie!"

His agony shook him as a great wind shakes the tree-tops, and David
stood watching him in a misery still keener and more hopeless. For a
few moments neither spoke. Then John rose wearily and said,

"I'll go with you, David, to the proper place. Justice must be
done--yes, yes, it is just and right."

Then he lifted up his eyes, and clasping his hands, cried out,

"But, O my heavenly Father, be merciful, be merciful, for love is the
fulfilling of the law. Come, David, we hae delayed o'er long."

"Where are you going, uncle?"

"You ken where weel enough."

"Dear uncle, be merciful. At least let us go see Dr. Morrison first.
Whatever he says I will do."

"I'll do that; I'll be glad to do that; maybe he'll find me a road out
o' this sair, sair strait. God help us all, for vain is the help o'
man."



CHAPTER VII.


When they entered Dr. Morrison's house the doctor entered with them.
He was wet through, and his swarthy face was in a glow of excitement.
A stranger was with him, and this stranger he hastily took into a room
behind the parlor, and then he came back to his visitors.

"Well, John, what is the matter?"

"Murder. Murder is the matter, doctor," and with a strange, quiet
precision he went over David's confession, for David had quite broken
down and was sobbing with all the abandon of a little child. During
the recital the minister's face was wonderful in its changes of
expression, but at the last a kind of adoring hopefulness was the most
decided.

"John," he said, "what were you going to do wi' that sorrowfu' lad?"

"I was going to gie him up to justice, minister, as it was right and
just to do; but first we must see about--about the body."

"That has, without doot, been already cared for. On the warst o'
nights there are plenty o' folk passing o'er Glasgow Green after the
tea-hour. It is David we must care for now. Why should we gie him up
to the law? Not but what 'the law is good, if a man use it lawfully.'
But see how the lad is weeping. Dinna mak yoursel' hard to a broken
heart, deacon. God himsel' has promised to listen to it. You must go
back hame and leave him wi' me. And, John," he said, with an air of
triumph, as they stood at the door together, with the snow blowing in
their uplifted faces, "John, my dear old brother John, go hame and
bless God; for, I tell you, this thing shall turn out to be a great
salvation."

So John went home, praying as he went, and conscious of a strange
hopefulness in the midst of his grief. The minister turned back to the
sobbing criminal, and touching him gently, said,

"Davie, my son, come wi' me."

David rose hopelessly and followed him. They went into the room where
they had seen the minister take the stranger who had entered the house
with them. The stranger was still there, and as they entered he came
gently and on tiptoe to meet them.

"Dr. Fleming," said the minister, "this is David Callendar, your
patient's late partner in business; he wishes to be the poor man's
nurse, and indeed, sir, I ken no one fitter for the duty."

So Dr. Fleming took David's hand, and then in a low voice gave him
directions for the night's watch, though David, in the sudden hope and
relief that had come to him, could scarcely comprehend them. Then the
physician went, and the minister and David sat by the bedside alone.
Robert lay in the very similitude and presence of death, unconscious
both of his sufferings and his friends. Congestion of the brain had
set in, and life was only revealed by the faintest pulsations, and by
the appliances for relief which medical skill thought it worth while
to make.

"'And sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death,'" said the
doctor solemnly. "David, there is your work."

"God knows how patiently and willingly I'll do it, minister. Poor
Robert, I never meant to harm him."

"Now listen to me, and wonder at God's merciful ways. Auld Deacon
Galbraith, who lives just beyond Rutherglen Bridge, sent me word this
afternoon that he had gotten a summons from his Lord, and he would
like to see my face ance mair before he went awa for ever. He has been
my right hand in the kirk, and I loved him weel. Sae I went to bid him
a short Gude-by--for we'll meet again in a few years at the maist--and
I found him sae glad and solemnly happy within sight o' the heavenly
shore, that I tarried wi' him a few hours, and we ate and drank his
last sacrament together. He dropped my hand wi' a smile at half-past
six o'clock, and after comforting his wife and children a bit I turned
my face hameward. But I was in that mood that I didna care to sit i' a
crowded omnibus, and I wanted to be moving wi' my thoughts. The
falling snow and the deserted Green seemed good to me, and I walked on
thinking o'er again the deacon's last utterances, for they were wise
and good even beyond the man's nature. That is how I came across
Robert Leslie. I thought he was dead, but I carried him in my arms to
the House o' the Humane Society, which, you ken, isna one hundred
yards from where Robert fell. The officer there said he wasna dead,
sae I brought him here and went for the physician you spoke to. Now,
Davie, it is needless for me to say mair. You ken what I expect o'
you. You'll get no whiskey in this house, not a drop o' it. If the
sick man needs anything o' that kind, I shall gie it wi' my ain hand;
and you wont leave this house, David, until I see whether Robert is to
live or die. You must gie me your word o' honor for that."

"Minister, pray what is my word worth?"

"Everything it promises, David Callendar. I would trust your word
afore I'd trust a couple o' constables, for a' that's come and gane."

"Thank you, thank you, doctor! You shall not trust, and be deceived. I
solemnly promise you to do my best for Robert, and not to leave your
house until I have your permission."

The next morning Dr. Morrison was at John Callendar's before he sat
down to breakfast. He had the morning paper with him, and he pointed
out a paragraph which ran thus: "Robert Leslie, of the late firm of
Callendar & Leslie, was found by the Rev. Dr. Morrison in an
unconscious condition on the Green last night about seven o'clock. It
is supposed the young gentleman slipped and fell, and in the fall
struck his head, as congestion of the brain has taken place. He lies
at Dr. Morrison's house, and is being carefully nursed by his late
partner, though there is but little hope of his recovery."

"Minister, it wasna you surely wha concocted this lie?"

"Nobody has told a lie, John. Don't be overrighteous, man; there is an
unreasonableness o' virtue that savors o' pride. I really thought
Robert had had an accident, until you told me the truth o' the matter.
The people at the Humane Society did the same; sae did Dr. Fleming. I
suppose some reporter got the information from one o' the latter
sources. But if Robert gets well, we may let it stand; and if he
doesna get well, I shall seek counsel o' God before I take a step
farther. In the meantime David is doing his first duty in nursing him;
and David will stay in my house till I see whether it be a case o'
murder or not."

For three weeks there was but the barest possibility of Robert's
recovery. But his youth and fine constitution, aided by the skill of
his physician and the unremitting care of his nurse, were at length,
through God's mercy, permitted to gain a slight advantage. The
discipline of that three weeks was a salutary though a terrible one to
David. Sometimes it became almost intolerable; but always, when it
reached this point, Dr. Morrison seemed, by some fine spiritual
instinct, to discover the danger and hasten to his assistance. Life
has silences more pathetic than death's; and the stillness of that
darkened room, with its white prostrate figure, was a stillness in
which David heard many voices he never would have heard in the crying
out of the noisy world.

What they said to him about his wasted youth and talents, and about
his neglected Saviour, only his own heart knew. But he must have
suffered very much, for, at the end of a month, he looked like a man
who had himself walked through the valley and shadow of death. About
this time Dr. Morrison began to drop in for an hour or two every
evening; sometimes he took his cup of tea with the young men, and then
he always talked with David on passing events in such a way as to
interest without fatiguing the sick man. His first visit of this kind
was marked by a very affecting scene. He stood a moment looking at
Robert and then taking David's hand, he laid it in Robert's. But the
young men had come to a perfect reconciliation one midnight when the
first gleam of consciousness visited the sick man, and Dr. Morrison
was delighted to see them grasp each other with a smile, while David
stooped and lovingly touched his friend's brow.

"Doctor, it was my fault," whispered Robert. "If I die, remember that.
I did my best to anger Davie, and I struck him first. I deserved all I
have had to suffer."

After this, however, Robert recovered rapidly, and in two months he
was quite well.

"David," said the minister to him one morning, "your trial is nearly
over. I have a message from Captain Laird to Robert Leslie. Laird
sails to-night; his ship has dropped down the river a mile, and Robert
must leave when the tide serves; that will be at five o'clock."

For Robert had shrunk from going again into his Glasgow life, and had
determined to sail with his friend Laird at once for New York. There
was no one he loved more dearly than David and Dr. Morrison, and with
them his converse had been constant and very happy and hopeful. He
wished to leave his old life with this conclusion to it unmingled with
any other memories.



CHAPTER VIII.


So that evening the three men went in a coach to the Broomilaw
together. A boat and two watermen were in waiting at the bridge-stair,
and though the evening was wet and chilly they all embarked. No one
spoke. The black waters washed and heaved beneath them, the myriad
lights shone vaguely through the clammy mist and steady drizzle, and
the roar of the city blended with the stroke of the oars and the
patter of the rain. Only when they lay under the hull of a large ship
was the silence broken. But it was broken by a blessing.

"God bless you, Robert! The Lord Jesus, our Redeemer, make you a gude
man," said Dr. Morrison fervently, and David whispered a few broken
words in his friend's ear. Then Captain Laird's voice was heard, and
in a moment or two more they saw by the light of a lifted lantern
Robert's white face in the middle of a group on deck.

"Farewell!" he shouted feebly, and Dr. Morrison answered it with a
lusty, "God speed you, Robert! God speed the good ship and all on
board of her!"

So they went silently back again, and stepped into the muddy,
dreamlike, misty streets, wet through and quite weary with emotion.

"Now gude-night, David. Your uncle is waiting dinner for you. I hae
learned to love you vera much."

"Is there anything I can do, doctor, to show you how much I love and
respect you?"

"You can be a good man, and you can let me see you every Sabbath in
your place at kirk. Heaven's gate stands wide open on the Sabbath day,
David; sae it is a grand time to offer your petitions."

Yes, the good old uncle was waiting, but with that fine instinct which
is born of a true love he had felt that David would like no fuss made
about his return. He met him as if he had only been a few hours away,
and he had so tutored Jenny that she only betrayed her joy by a look
which David and she understood well.

"The little folks," said John, "have a' gane to their beds; the day
has been that wet and wearisome that they were glad to gae to sleep
and forget a' about it."

David sat down in his old place, and the two men talked of the Russian
war and the probable storming of the Alamo. Then John took his usual
after-dinner nap, and David went up stairs with Jenny and kissed his
children, and said a few words to them and to the old woman, which
made them all very happy.

When he returned to the parlor his uncle was still sleeping, and he
could see how weary and worn he had become.

"So patient, so generous, so honorable, so considerate for my
feelings," said the young man to himself. "I should be an ingrate
indeed if I did not, as soon as he wakes, say what I know he is so
anxious to hear."

With the thought John opened his eyes, and David nodded and smiled
back to him. How alert and gladly he roused himself! How cheerily he
said,

"Why, Davie, I hae been sleeping, I doot. Hech, but it is gude to see
you, lad."

"Please God, uncle, it shall always be gude to see me. Can you give me
some advice to-night?" "I'll be mair than glad to do it."

"Tell me frankly, Uncle John, what you think I ought to do. I saw
Robert off to America to-night. Shall I follow him?"

"Davie, mind what I say. In the vera place where a man loses what he
values, there he should look to find it again. You hae lost your good
name in Glasgow; stay in Glasgow and find it again."

"I will stay here then. What shall I do?"

"You'll go back to your old place, and to your old business."

"But I heard that Deacon Strang had bought the looms and the lease."

"He bought them for me, for us, I mean. I will tell you how that came
about. One day when I was cross, and sair put out wi' your affairs,
Davie, Dr. Morrison came into my office. I'm feared I wasna glad to
see him; and though I was ceevil enough, the wise man read me like a
book. 'John,' says he, 'I am not come to ask you for siller to-day,
nor am I come to reprove you for staying awa from the service o' God
twice lately. I am come to tell you that you will hae the grandest
opportunity to-day, to be, not only a man, but a Christ-man. If you
let the opportunity slip by you, I shall feel sairly troubled about
it.'

"Then he was gone before I could say, 'What is it?' and I wondered and
wondered all day what he could hae meant. But just before I was ready
to say, 'Mr. MacFarlane, lock the safe,' in walks Deacon Strang. He
looked vera downcast and shamefaced, and says he, 'Callendar, you can
tak your revenge on me to-morrow, for a' I hae said and done against
you for thirty years. You hold twa notes o' mine, and I canna meet
them. You'll hae to protest and post them to-morrow, and that will
ruin me and break my heart.'

"David, I had to walk to the window and hide my face till I could
master mysel', I was that astonished. Then I called out, 'Mr.
MacFarlane, you hae two notes o' Deacon Strang's, bring them to me.'
When he did sae, I said, 'Well, deacon, we a' o' us hae our ain
fashes. How long time do you want, and we'll renew these bits o'
paper?'

"And the thing was done, Davie, and done that pleasantly that it made
me feel twenty years younger. We shook hands when we parted, and as we
did sae, the deacon said, 'Is there aught I can do to pleasure you or
David?' and a' at once it struck me about the sales o' the looms and
lease. Sae I said, 'Yes, deacon, there is something you can do, and
I'll be vera much obligated to you for the same. Davie is sae tied
down wi' Robert's illness, will you go to the sale o' Callendar &
Leslie's looms and lease, and buy them for me? You'll get them on
better terms than I will.' And he did get them on excellent terms,
Davie; sae your mill is just as you left it--for Bailie Nicol, wha
took it at the accountant's valuation, never opened it at all. And you
hae twenty months' rent paid in advance, and you hae something in the
bank I expect."

"I have £3,600, uncle."

"Now, I'll be your partner this time. I'll put in the business £4,000,
but I'll hae it run on a solid foundation, however small that
foundation may be. I'll hae no risks taken that are dishonest risks;
I'll hae a broad mark made between enterprise and speculation; and
above a', I'll hae the right to examine the books, and see how things
are going on, whenever I wish to do sae. We will start no more looms
than our capital will work, and we'll ask credit from no one."

"Uncle John, there is not another man in the world so generous and
unselfish as you are."

"There are plenty as good men in every congregation o' the Lord; if
there wasna they would scatter in no time. Then you are willing, are
you? Gie me your hand, Davie. I shall look to you to do your best for
baith o' us."

"I have not drunk a drop for two months, uncle. I never intend to
drink again."

"I hae given it up mysel'," said the old man, with an affected
indifference that was pathetic in its self-abnegation. "I thought twa
going a warfare together might do better than ane alone. Ye ken Christ
sent out the disciples by twa and twa. And, Davie, when you are hard
beset, just utter the name of Christ down in your heart, and see how
much harder it is to sin."



CHAPTER IX.


The arrangement had been a very pleasant one, every way, but somehow
John did not feel as if David had as much outside help as he needed.
The young man was not imaginative; an ideal, however high, was a far
less real thing to David than to old John. He pondered during many
sleepless hours the advisability of having David sign the pledge.
David had always refused to do it hitherto. He had a keen sense of
shame in breaking a verbal promise on this subject; but he had an
almost superstitious feeling regarding the obligation of anything he
put his name to; and this very feeling made John hesitate to press the
matter. For, he argued, and not unwisely, "if David should break this
written obligation, his condition would seem to himself irremediable,
and he would become quite reckless."

In the morning this anxiety was solved. When John came down to
breakfast, he found David walking about the room with a newspaper in
his hand, and in a fever heat of martial enthusiasm. "Uncle," he
cried, "O Uncle John, such glorious news! The Alamo is taken. Colin
Campbell and his Highlanders were first at the ramparts, and Roy and
Hector Callendar were with them. Listen?" and he threw the passion and
fervor of all his military instincts into the glowing words which
told, how in a storm of fire and shot, Sir Colin and his Highland
regiment had pushed up the hill; and how when the Life Guards were
struggling to reach their side, the brave old commander turned round
and shouted, "We'll hae nane but Hieland bonnets here!" "O Uncle John,
what would I not have given to have marched with Roy and Hector behind
him? With such a leader I would not turn my back on any foe."

"David, you have a far harder fight before you, and a far grander
Captain."

"Uncle, uncle, if I could see my foe; if I could meet him face to face
in a real fight; but he steals into my heart, even by my nostrils, and
unmans me, before I am aware."

John rang the bell sharply, and when Jenny came, he amazed her by
saying, "Bring me here from the cellar three bottles of whiskey." He
spoke so curt and determined that for once Jenny only wondered, and
obeyed.

"That will do, my woman." Then he turned to David, and putting one
bottle on the table said, "There is your foe! Face your enemy, sir!
Sit down before him morning, noon, and night. Dare him to master you!
Put this bottle on the table in your ain room; carry this in your hand
to your office, and stand it before your eyes upon your desk. If you
want a foe to face and to conquer, a foe that you can see and touch,
here is one mighty enough to stir the bravest soul. And, if you turn
your back on him you are a coward; a mean, poor-hearted coward, sir.
And there ne'er was a coward yet, o' the Callendar blood, nor o' the
Campbell line! Your Captain is nane less than the Son o' God. Hear
what he says to you! 'To him that overcometh! To him that overcometh!'
O Davie, you ken the rest!" and the old man was so lifted out of and
above himself, that his face shone and his keen gray eyes scintillated
with a light that no market-place ever saw in them.

David caught the holy enthusiasm; he seized the idea like a visible
hand of God for his help. The black bottle became to him the
materialization of all his crime and misery. It was a foe he could
see, and touch, and defy. It seemed to mock him, to tempt him, to beg
him just to open the cork, if only to test the strength of his
resolutions.

Thank God he never did it. He faced his enemy the first thing in the
morning and the last thing at night. He kept him in sight through the
temptations of a business day. He faced him most steadily in the
solitude of his own room. There, indeed, his most dangerous struggles
took place, and one night John heard him after two hours of restless
hurried walking up and down, throw open his window, and dash the
bottle upon the pavement beneath it. That was the last of his hard
struggles; the bottle which replaced the one flung beyond his reach
stands to-day where it has stood for nearly a quarter of a century,
and David feels now no more inclination to open it than if it
contained strychnine.

This is no fancy story. It is a fact. It is the true history of a
soul's struggle, and I write it--God knows I do--in the strong hope
that some brave fellow, who is mastered by a foe that steals upon him
in the guise of good fellowship, or pleasure, or hospitality, may
locate his enemy, and then face and conquer him in the name of Him who
delivers his people from their sins. I do not say that all natures
could do this. Some may find safety and final victory in flight, or in
hiding from their foe; but I believe that the majority of souls would
rise to a warfare in which the enemy was confronting them to face and
fight, and would conquer.

I have little more to say of David Callendar. It was the story of his
fall and his redemption I intended to write. But we cannot separate
our spiritual and mortal life; they are the warp and woof which we
weave together for eternity. Therefore David's struggle, though a
palpable one in some respects, was, after all, an intensely spiritual
one; for it was in the constant recognition of Christ as the Captain
of his salvation, and in the constant use of such spiritual aids as
his Bible and his minister gave him, that he was enabled to fight a
good fight and to come off more than conqueror in a contest wherein so
many strive and fail.

David's reformation had also a very sensible influence on his business
prosperity. He has won back again now all, and far more than all, he
lost, and in all good and great works for the welfare of humanity
David Callendar is a willing worker and a noble giver. The new firm of
John and David Callendar acquired a world-wide reputation. It is still
John and David Callendar, for when the dear old deacon died he left
his interest in it to David's eldest son, a pious, steady young fellow
for whom nobody ever mixed a first glass. But God was very kind to
John in allowing him to see the full harvest of his tender love, his
patience, and his unselfishness. Out of his large fortune he left a
noble endowment for a church and college in his native town, making
only two requests concerning its management: first, that no whiskey
should ever go within the college walls: second, that all the children
in the town might have a holiday on the anniversary of his death;
"for," said he, "I have aye loved children, and I would fain connect
the happiness of childhood with the peace o' the dead."

Dr. Morrison lived long enough to assist in filling in the grave of
his old friend and helper, but attained unto the beginning of peace
and glory soon afterwards. And I have often pictured to myself the
meeting of those two upon the hills of God. The minister anticipated
it, though upon his dying bed his great soul forgot all
individualities, and thought only of the church universal, and his
last glowing words were, "For Jerusalem that is above is free, which
is the mother of us all."

Robert Leslie has done well in America, and no man is a more warm and
earnest advocate of "the faith once delivered to the saints." I read a
little speech of his some time ago at the dedication of a church, and
it greatly pleased me.

"Many things," he said, "have doubtless been improved in this age, for
man's works are progressive and require improvement; but who," he
asked, "can improve the sunshine and the flowers, the wheat and the
corn? And who will give us anything worthy to take the place of the
religion of our fathers and mothers? And what teachers have come
comparable to Christ, to David, Isaiah, and Paul?"

Jenny only died a year ago. She brought up David's children admirably,
and saw, to her great delight, the marriage of Flora and young Captain
Callendar. For it had long been her wish to go back to Argyleshire
"among her ain folk and die among the mountains," and this marriage
satisfied all her longings. One evening they found her sitting in her
open door with her face turned towards the cloud-cleaving hills. Her
knitting had fallen upon her lap, her earthly work was done for ever,
and she had put on the garments of the eternal Sabbath. But there was
a wonderful smile on her simple, kindly face. Soul and body had parted
with a smile. Oh, how happy are those whom the Master finds waiting
for him, and who, when he calls, pass gently away!

  "Up to the golden citadel they fare,
    And as they go their limbs grow full of might;
  And One awaits them at the topmost stair,
    One whom they had not seen, but knew at sight."



Andrew Cargill's Confession.



ANDREW CARGILL'S CONFESSION.


CHAPTER I.


Between Sinverness and Creffel lies the valley of Glenmora.
Sca Fells and Soutra Fells guard it on each hand, and the long,
treacherous sweep of Solway Frith is its outlet. It is a region of
hills and moors, inhabited by a people of singular gravity and
simplicity of character, a pastoral people, who in its solemn high
places have learned how to interpret the voices of winds and
watersand to devoutly love their God.

Most of them are of the purest Saxon origin; but here and there one
meets the massive features and the blue bonnet of the Lowland Scots,
descendants of those stern Covenanters who from the coasts of Galloway
and Dumfries sought refuge in the strength of these lonely hills. They
are easily distinguished, and are very proud of their descent from
this race whom

  "God anointed with his odorous oil
    To wrestle, not to reign."

Thirty years ago their leader and elder was Andrew Cargill, a man of
the same lineage as that famous Donald Cargill who was the Boanerges
of the Covenant, and who suffered martyrdom for his faith at the town
of Queensferry. Andrew never forgot this fact, and the stern, just,
uncompromising spirit of the old Protester still lived in him. He was
a man well-to-do in the world, and his comfortable stone house was one
of the best known in the vale of Glenmora.

People who live amid grand scenery are not generally sensitive to it,
but Andrew was. The adoring spirit in which he stood one autumn
evening at his own door was a very common mood with him. He looked
over the moors carpeted with golden brown, and the hills covered with
sheep and cattle, at the towering crags, more like clouds at sunset
than things of solid land, at the children among the heather picking
bilberries, at the deep, clear, purple mist that filled the valley,
not hindering the view, but giving everything a strangely solemn
aspect, and his face relaxed into something very like a smile as he
said, "It is the wark o' my Father's hand, and praised be his name."

He stood at his own open door looking at these things, and inside his
wife Mysie was laying the supper-board with haver bread and cheese and
milk. A bright fire blazed on the wide hearth, and half a dozen
sheep-dogs spread out their white breasts to the heat. Great settles
of carved oak, bedded deep with fleeces of long wool, were on the
sides of the fireplace, and from every wall racks of spotless deal,
filled with crockery and pewter, reflected the shifting blaze.

Suddenly he stepped out and looked anxiously towards the horizon on
all sides. "Mysie, woman," said he, "there is a storm coming up from
old Solway; I maun e'en gae and fauld the ewes wi' their young
lammies. Come awa', Keeper and Sandy."

The dogs selected rose at once and followed Andrew with right
good-will. Mysie watched them a moment; but the great clouds of mist
rolling down from the mountains soon hid the stalwart figure in its
bonnet and plaid from view, and gave to the dogs' fitful barks a
distant, muffled sound. So she went in and sat down upon the settle,
folding her hands listlessly on her lap, and letting the smile fall
from her face as a mask might fall. Oh, what a sad face it was then!

She sat thus in a very trance of sorrow until the tears dropped
heavily and slowly down, and her lips began to move in broken
supplications. Evidently these brought her the comfort she sought, for
erelong she rose, saying softly to herself, "The lost bit o' siller
was found, and the strayed sheep was come up wi', and the prodigal won
hame again, and dootless, dootless, my ain dear lad will no be lost
sight o'."

By this time the storm had broken, but Mysie was not uneasy. Andrew
knew the hills like his own ingle, and she could tell to within five
minutes how long it would take him to go to the fauld and back. But
when it was ten minutes past his time Mysie stood anxiously in the
open door and listened. Her ears, trained to almost supernatural
quickness, soon detected above the winds and rain a sound of
footsteps. She called a wise old sheep-dog and bid him listen. The
creature held his head a moment to the ground, looked at her
affirmatively, and at her command went to seek his master.

In a few moments she heard Andrew's peculiar "hallo!" and the joyful
barking of the dog, and knew that all was right. Yet she could not go
in; she felt that something unusual had happened, and stood waiting
for whatever was coming. It was a poor, little, half-drowned baby.
Andrew took it from under his plaid, and laid it in her arms, saying,

"I maun go now and look after the mither. I'll need to yoke the cart
for her; she's past walking, and I'm sair feared she's past living;
but you'll save the bit bairn, Mysie, nae doot; for God disna smite
aften wi' baith hands."

"Where is she, Andrew?"

"'Mang the Druids' stanes, Mysie, and that's an ill place for a
Christian woman to die. God forbid it!" he muttered, as he lit a
lantern and went rapidly to the stable; "an evil place! under the vera
altar-stane o' Satan. God stay the parting soul till it can hear a
word o' his great mercy!"

With such a motive to prompt him, Andrew was not long in reaching the
ruins of the old Druidical temple. Under a raised flat stone, which
made a kind of shelter, a woman was lying. She was now insensible, and
Andrew lifted her carefully into the cart. Perhaps it was some
satisfaction to him that she did not actually die within such
unhallowed precincts; but the poor creature herself was beyond such
care. When she had seen her child in Mysie's arms, and comprehended
Mysie's assurance that she would care for it, all anxiety slipped away
from her. Andrew strove hard to make her understand the awful
situation in which she was; but the girl lay smiling, with upturned
eyes, as if she was glad to be relieved of the burden of living.

"You hae done your duty, gudeman," at length said Mysie, "and now you
may leave the puir bit lassie to me; I'll dootless find a word o'
comfort to say to her."

"But I'm feared, I am awfu' feared, woman, that she is but a prodigal
and an--"

"Hush, gudeman! There is mercy for the prodigal daughter as weel as
for the prodigal son;" and at these words Andrew went out with a dark,
stern face, while she turned with a new and stronger tenderness to the
dying woman.

"God is love," she whispered; "if you hae done aught wrang, there's
the open grave o' Jesus, dearie; just bury your wrang-doing there."
She was answered with a happy smile. "And your little lad is my lad
fra this hour, dearie!" The dying lips parted, and Mysie knew they had
spoken a blessing for her.

Nothing was found upon the woman that could identify her, nothing
except a cruel letter, which evidently came from the girl's father;
but even in this there was neither date nor locality named. It had no
term of endearment to commence with, and was signed simply, "John
Dunbar." Two things were, however, proven by it: that the woman's
given name was Bessie, and that by her marriage she had cut herself
off from her home and her father's affection.

So she was laid by stranger hands within that doorless house in the
which God sometimes mercifully puts his weary ones to sleep. Mysie
took the child to her heart at once, and Andrew was not long able to
resist the little lad's beauty and winning ways. The neighbors began
to call him "wee Andrew;" and the old man grew to love his namesake
with a strangely tender affection.

Sometimes there was indeed a bitter feeling in Mysie's heart, as she
saw how gentle he was with this child and remembered how stern and
strict he had been with their own lad. She did not understand that the
one was in reality the result of the other, the acknowledgement of his
fault, and the touching effort to atone, in some way, for it.

One night, when wee Andrew was about seven years old, this wrong
struck her in a manner peculiarly painful. Andrew had made a most
extraordinary journey, even as far as Penrith. A large manufactory had
been begun there, and a sudden demand for his long staple of white
wool had sprung up. Moreover, he had had a prosperous journey, and
brought back with him two books for the boy, Æsop's Fables and
Robinson Crusoe.

When Mysie saw them, her heart swelled beyond control. She remembered
a day when her own son Davie had begged for these very books and been
refused with hard rebukes. She remembered the old man's bitter words
and the child's bitter tears; but she did not reflect that the present
concession was the result of the former refusal, nor yet that the
books were much easier got and the money more plentiful than thirty
years previous. When wee Andrew ran away with his treasures to the
Druids' stones, Mysie went into the shippen, and did her milking to
some very sad thoughts.

She was poisoning her heart with her own tears. When she returned to
the "houseplace" and saw the child bending with rapt, earnest face
over the books, she could not avoid murmuring that the son of a
strange woman should be sitting happy in Cargill spence, and her own
dear lad a banished wanderer. She had come to a point when rebellion
would be easy for her. Andrew saw a look on her face that amazed and
troubled him: and yet when she sat so hopelessly down before the fire,
and without fear or apology

      "Let the tears downfa',"

he had no heart to reprove her. Nay, he asked with a very unusual
concern, "What's the matter, Mysie, woman?"

"I want to see Davie, and die, gudeman!"

"You'll no dare to speak o' dying, wife, until the Lord gies you
occasion; and Davie maun drink as he's brewed."

"Nay, gudeman, but you brewed for him; the lad is drinking the cup you
mixed wi' your ain hands."

"I did my duty by him."

"He had ower muckle o' your duty, and ower little o' your indulgence.
If Davie was wrang, ither folk werena right. Every fault has its
forefault."

Andrew looked in amazement at this woman, who for thirty and more
years had never before dared to oppose his wishes, and to whom his
word had been law.

"Davie's wrang-doing was weel kent, gude-wife; he hasted to sin like a
moth to a candle."

"It's weel that our faults arena written i' our faces."

"I hae fallen on evil days, Mysie; saxty years syne wives and bairns
werena sae contrarie."

"There was gude and bad then, as now, gudeman."

Mysie's face had a dour, determined look that no one had ever seen on
it before. Andrew began to feel irritated at her. "What do you want,
woman?" he said sternly.

"I want my bairn, Andrew Cargill."

"Your bairn is i' some far-awa country, squandering his share o'
Paradise wi' publicans and sinners."

"I hope not, I hope not; if it werena for this hope my heart would
break;" and then all the barriers that education and habit had built
were suddenly overthrown as by an earthquake, and Mysie cried out
passionately, "I want my bairn, Andrew Cargill! the bonnie bairn that
lay on my bosom, and was dandled on my knees, and sobbed out his
sorrows i' my arms. I want the bairn you were aye girding and
grumbling at! that got the rod for this, and the hard word and the
black look for that! My bonnie Davie, wha ne'er had a playtime nor a
story-book! O gudeman, I want my bairn! I want my bairn!"

The repressed passion and sorrow of ten long years had found an outlet
and would not be controlled. Andrew laid down his pipe in amazement
and terror, and for a moment he feared his wife had lost her senses.
He had a tender heart beneath his stern, grave manner, and his first
impulse was just to take the sobbing mother to his breast and promise
her all she asked. But he did not do it the first moment, and he could
not the second. Yet he did rise and go to her, and in his awkward way
try to comfort her. "Dinna greet that way, Mysie, woman," he said; "if
I hae done amiss, I'll mak amends."

That was a great thing for Andrew Cargill to say; Mysie hardly knew
how to believe it. Such a confession was a kind of miracle, for she
judged things by results and was not given to any consideration of the
events that led up to them. She could not know, and did not suspect,
that all the bitter truths she had spoken had been gradually forcing
themselves on her husband's mind. She did not know that wee Andrew's
happy face over his story-books, and his eager claim for sympathy, had
been an accusation and a reproach which the old man had already humbly
and sorrowfully accepted. Therefore his confession and his promise
were a wonder to the woman, who had never before dared to admit that
it was possible Andrew Cargill should do wrong in his own household.



CHAPTER II.


The confidence that came after this plain speaking was very sweet and
comforting to both, although in their isolation and ignorance they
knew not what steps to take in order to find Davie. Ten years had
elapsed since he had hung for one heart-breaking moment on his
mother's neck, and bid, as he told her, a farewell for ever to the
miserable scenes of his hard, bare childhood. Mysie had not been able
to make herself believe that he was very wrong; dancing at pretty Mary
Halliday's bridal and singing two or three love-songs did not seem to
the fond mother such awful transgressions as the stern, strict
Covenanter really believed them to be, though even Mysie was willing
to allow that Davie, in being beguiled into such sinful folly, "had
made a sair tumble."

However, Davie and his father had both said things that neither could
win over, and the lad had gone proudly down the hill with but a few
shillings in his pocket. Since then there had been ten years of
anxious, longing grief that had remained unconfessed until this night.
Now the hearts of both yearned for their lost son. But how should they
find him? Andrew read nothing but his Bible and almanac; he had no
conception of the world beyond Kendal and Keswick. He could scarcely
imagine David going beyond these places, or, at any rate, the coast of
Scotland. Should he make a pilgrimage round about all those parts?

Mysie shook her head. She thought Andrew had better go to Keswick and
see the Methodist preacher there. She had heard they travelled all
over the world, and if so, it was more than likely they had seen Davie
Cargill; "at ony rate, he would gie advice worth speiring after."

Andrew had but a light opinion of Methodists, and had never been
inside the little chapel at Sinverness; but Mysie's advice, he
allowed, "had a savor o' sense in it," and so the next day he rode
over to Keswick and opened his heart to John Sugden, the
superintendent of the Derwent Circuit. He had assured himself on the
road that he would only tell John just as much as was necessary for
his quest; but he was quite unable to resist the preacher's hearty
sympathy. There never were two men more unlike than Andrew Cargill and
John Sugden, and yet they loved each other at once.

"He is a son o' consolation, and dootless ane o' God's chosen," said
Andrew to Mysie on his return.

"He is a far nobler old fellow than he thinks he is," said John to his
wife when he told her of Andrew's visit.

John had advised advertising for Davie in "The Watchman;" for John
really thought this organ of the Methodist creed was the greatest
paper in existence, and honestly believed that if Davie was anywhere
in the civilized world "The Watchman" would find him out. He was so
sure of it that both Mysie and Andrew caught his hopeful tone, and
began to tell each other what should be done when Davie came home.

Poor Mysie was now doubly kind to wee Andrew. She accused herself
bitterly of "grudging the bit lammie his story-books," and persuaded
her husband to bring back from Keswick for the child the "Pilgrim's
Progress" and "The Young Christian." John Sugden, too, visited them
often, not only staying at Cargill during his regular appointments,
but often riding over to take a day's recreation with the old
Cameronian. True, they disputed the whole time. John said very
positive things and Andrew very contemptuous ones; but as they each
kept their own opinions intact, and were quite sure of their grounds
for doing so, no words that were uttered ever slackened the grip of
their hands at parting.

One day, as John was on the way to Cargill, he perceived a man sitting
among the Druids' stones. The stranger was a pleasant fellow, and
after a few words with the preacher he proposed that they should ride
to Sinverness together. John soon got to talking of Andrew and his
lost son, and the stranger became greatly interested. He said he
should like to go up to Andrew's and get a description of Davie,
adding that he travelled far and wide, and might happen to come across
him.

The old man met them at the door.

"My sight fails, John," he said, "but I'd hae kent your step i' a
thousand. You too are welcome, sir, though I ken you not, and doubly
welcome if you bring God's blessing wi' you."

The stranger lifted his hat, and Andrew led the way into the house.
John had been expected, for haver bread and potted shrimps were on the
table, and he helped himself without ceremony, taking up at the same
time their last argument just where he had dropped it at the gate of
the lower croft. But it had a singular interruption. The sheep-dogs
who had been quietly sleeping under the settle began to be strangely
uneasy. Keeper could scarcely be kept down, even by Andrew's command,
and Sandy bounded towards the stranger with low, rapid barks that made
John lose the sense of the argument in a new thought. But before he
could frame it into words Mysie came in.

"See here, John," she cried, and then she stopped and looked with
wide-open eyes at the man coming towards her. With one long, thrilling
cry she threw herself into his arms.

"Mother! mother! darling mother, forgive me!"

John had instantly gone to Andrew's side, but Andrew had risen at once
to the occasion. "I'm no a woman to skirl or swoon," he said, almost
petulantly, "and it's right and fit the lad should gie his mither the
first greeting."

But he stretched out both hands, and his cheeks were flushed and his
eyes full when Davie flung himself on his knees beside him.

"My lad! my ain dear lad!" he cried, "I'll see nae better day than
this until I see His face."

No one can tell the joy of that hour. The cheese curds were left in
the dairy and the wool was left at the wheel, and Mysie forget her
household, and Andrew forgot his argument, and the preacher at last
said,

"You shall tell us, Davie, what the Lord has done for you since you
left your father's house."

"He has been gude to me, vera gude. I had a broad Scot's tongue in my
head, and I determined to go northward. I had little siller and I had
to walk, and by the time I reached Ecclefechan I had reason enough to
be sorry for the step I had taken. As I was sitting by the fireside o'
the little inn there a man came in who said he was going to Carlisle
to hire a shepherd. I did not like the man, but I was tired and had
not plack nor bawbee, so I e'en asked him for the place. When he heard
I was Cumberland born, and had been among sheep all my life, he was
fain enough, and we soon 'greed about the fee.

"He was a harder master than Laban, but he had a daughter who was as
bonnie as Rachel, and I loved the lass wi' my whole soul, and she
loved me. I ne'er thought about being her father's hired man. I was
aye Davie Cargill to mysel', and I had soon enough told Bessie all
about my father and mither and hame. I spoke to her father at last,
but he wouldna listen to me. He just ordered me off his place, and
Bessie went wi' me.

"I know now that we did wrang, but we thought then that we were right.
We had a few pounds between us and we gaed to Carlisle. But naething
went as it should hae done. I could get nae wark, and Bessie fell into
vera bad health; but she had a brave spirit, and she begged me to
leave her in Carlisle and go my lane to Glasgow. 'For when wark an'
siller arena i' one place, Davie,' she said, 'then they're safe to be
in another.'

"I swithered lang about leaving her, but a good opportunity came, and
Bessie promised me to go back to her father until I could come after
her. It was July then, and when Christmas came round I had saved money
enough, and I started wi' a blithe heart to Ecclefechan. I hadna any
fear o' harm to my bonnie bit wifie, for she had promised to go to her
hame, and I was sure she would be mair than welcome when she went
without me. I didna expect any letters, because Bessie couldna write,
and, indeed, I was poor enough wi' my pen at that time, and only wrote
once to tell her I had good wark and would be for her a New Year.

"But when I went I found that Bessie had gane, and none knew where. I
traced her to Keswick poor-house, where she had a little lad; the
matron said she went away in a very weak condition when the child was
three weeks old, declaring that she was going to her friends. Puir,
bonnie, loving Bessie; that was the last I ever heard o' my wife and
bairn."

Mysie had left the room, and as she returnee with a little bundle
Andrew was anxiously asking, "What was the lassie's maiden name,
Davie?"

"Bessie Dunbar, father."

"Then this is a wun'erful day; we are blessed and twice blessed, for I
found your wife and bairn, Davie, just where John Sugden found you,
'mang the Druids' stanes; and the lad has my ain honest name and is
weel worthy o' it."

"See here, Davie," and Mysie tenderly touched the poor faded dress and
shawl, and laid the wedding-ring in his palm. As she spoke wee Andrew
came across the yard, walking slowly, reading as he walked. "Look at
him, Davie! He's a bonnie lad, and a gude are; and oh, my ain dear
lad, he has had a' things that thy youth wanted."

It pleased the old man no little that, in spite of his father's loving
greeting, wee Andrew stole away to his side.

"You see, Davie," he urged in apology, "he's mair at hame like wi'
me."

And then he drew the child to him, and let his whole heart go out now,
without check or reproach, to "Davie's bairn."

"But you have not finished your story, Mr. Cargill," said John, and
David sighed as he answered,

"There is naething by the ordinar in it. I went back to the warks I
had got a footing in, the Glencart Iron Warks, and gradually won my
way to the topmost rungs o' the ladder. I am head buyer now, hae a
gude share i' the concern, and i' money matters there's plenty folk
waur off than David Cargill. When I put my father's forgiveness, my
mither's love, and my Bessie's bonnie lad to the lave, I may weel say
that 'they are weel guided that God guides.' A week ago I went into
the editor's room o' the Glasgow Herald,' and the man no being in I
lifted a paper and saw in it my father's message to me. It's sma'
credit that I left a' and answered it."

"What paper, Mr. Cargill, what paper?"

"They ca' it 'The Watchman.' I hae it in my pocket."

"I thought so," said John triumphantly. "It's a grand paper; every one
ought to have it."

"It is welcome evermore in my house," said Davie.

"It means weel, it means weel," said Andrew, with a great stretch of
charity, "but I dinna approve o' its doctrines at a', and--"

"It found David for you, Andrew."

"Ay, ay, God uses a' kinds o' instruments. 'The Watchman' isna as auld
as the Bible yet, John, and it's ill praising green barley."

"Now, Andrew, I think--"

"Tut, tut, John, I'se no sit i' Rome and strive wi' the pope; there's
naething ill said, you ken, if it's no ill taken."

John smiled tolerantly, and indeed there was no longer time for
further discussion, for the shepherds from the hills and the farmers
from the glen had heard of David's return, and were hurrying to
Cargill to see him. Mysie saw that there would be a goodly company,
and the long harvest-table was brought in and a feast of
thanksgiving spread. Conversation in that house could only set one
way, and after all had eaten and David had told his story again, one
old man after another spoke of the dangers they had encountered and
the spiritual foes they had conquered.

Whether it was the speaking, or the sympathy of numbers, or some
special influence of the Holy Ghost, I know not; but suddenly Andrew
lifted his noble old head and spoke thus:

"Frien's, ye hae some o' you said ill things o' yoursel's, but to the
sons o' God there is nae condemnation; not that I hae been althegither
faultless, but I meant weel, an' the lad was a wilfu' lad, and ye ken
what the wisest o' men said anent such. Just and right has been my
walk before you, but--still--" Then, with a sudden passion, and rising
to his feet, he cried out, "Frien's, I'm a poor sinfu' man, but I'll
play no mair pliskies wi' my conscience. I hae dootless been a hard
master, hard and stern, and loving Sinai far beyond Bethlehem. Hard
was I to my lad, and hard hae I been to the wife o' my bosom, and hard
hae I been to my ain heart. It has been my ain will and my ain way all
my life lang. God forgie me! God forgie me! for this night he has
brought my sins to my remembrance. I hae been your elder for mair than
forty years, but I hae ne'er been worthy to carry his holy vessels.
I'll e'en sit i' the lowest seat henceforward."

"Not so," said John. And there was such eager praise, and such warm
love rose from every mouth, that words began to fail, and as the old
man sat down smiling, happier than he had ever been before, song took
up the burden speech laid down; for John started one of those old
triumphant Methodist hymns, and the rafters shook to the melody, and
the stars heard it, and the angels in heaven knew a deeper joy.
Singing, the company departed, and Andrew, standing in the moonlight
between David and John, watched the groups scatter hither and thither,
and heard, far up the hills and down the glen, that sweet, sweet
refrain,

  "Canaan, bright Canaan!
  Will you go to the land of Canaan?"

After this David stayed a week at Glenmora, and then it became
necessary for him to return to Glasgow. But wee Andrew was to have a
tutor and remain with his grandparents for some years at least. Andrew
himself determined to "tak a trip" and see Scotland and the wonderful
iron works of which he was never weary of hearing David talk.

When he reached Kendal, however, and saw for the first time the
Caledonian Railway and its locomotives, nothing could induce him to go
farther.

"It's ower like the deil and the place he bides in, Davie," he said,
with a kind of horror. "Fire and smoke and iron bands! I'll no ride at
the deil's tail-end, not e'en to see the land o' the Covenant."

So he went back to Glenmora, and was well content when he stood again
at his own door and looked over the bonny braes of Sinverness, its
simmering becks and fruitful vales. "These are the warks o' His hands,
Mysie," he said, reverently lifting his bonnet and looking up to
Creffel and away to Solway, "and you'd ken that, woman, if you had
seen Satan as I saw him rampaging roun' far waur than any roaring
lion."

After this Andrew never left Sinverness; but, the past unsighed for
and the future sure, passed through

  "----an old age serene and bright,
  And lovely as a Lapland night,"

until, one summer evening, he gently fell on that sleep which God
giveth his beloved.

  "For such Death's portal opens not in gloom,
  But its pure crystal, hinged on solid gold,
  Shows avenues interminable--shows
  Amaranth and palm quivering in sweet accord
  Of human mingled with angelic song."



One Wrong Step.



ONE WRONG STEP.


CHAPTER I.


"There's few folk ken Ragon Torr as I do, mother. He is better at
heart than thou wad think; indeed he is!"

"If better were within, better wad come out, John. He's been drunk or
dovering i' the chimney-corner these past three weeks. Hech! but he'd
do weel i' Fool's Land, where they get half a crown a day for
sleeping."

"There's nane can hunt a seal or spear a whale like Ragon; thou saw
him theesel', mother, among the last school i' Stromness Bay."

"I saw a raving, ranting heathen, wi' the bonnie blue bay a sea o'
blood around him, an' he shouting an' slaying like an old pagan
sea-king. Decent, God-fearing fisher-folk do their needful wark ither
gate than yon. Now there is but one thing for thee to do: thou must
break wi' Ragon Torr, an' that quick an' soon."

"Know this, my mother, a friend is to be taken wi' his faults."

"Thou knows this, John: I hae forty years mair than thou hast, an'
years ken mair than books. An' wi' a' thy book skill hast thou ne'er
read that 'Evil communications corrupt gude manners'? Mak up thy mind
that I shall tak it vera ill if thou sail again this year wi' that
born heathen;" and with these words Dame Alison Sabay rose up from the
stone bench at her cottage door and went dourly into the houseplace.

John stood on the little jetty which ran from the very doorstep into
the bay, and looked thoughtfully over towards the sweet green isle of
Graemsay; but neither the beauty of land or sea, nor the splendor of
skies bright with the rosy banners of the Aurora gave him any answer
to the thoughts which troubled him. "I'll hae to talk it o'er wi'
Christine," he said decidedly, and he also turned into the house.

Christine was ten years older than her brother John. She had known
much sorrow, but she had lived through and lived down all her trials
and come out into the peace on the other side. She was sitting by the
peat fire knitting, and softly crooning an old Scotch psalm to the
click of her needles. She answered John's look with a sweet, grave
smile, and a slight nod towards the little round table, upon which
there was a plate of smoked goose and some oaten cake for his supper.

"I carena to eat a bite, Christine; this is what I want o' thee: the
skiff is under the window; step into it, an' do thou go on the bay wi'
me an hour."

"I havena any mind to go, John. It is nine by the clock, an' to-morrow
the peat is to coil an' the herring to kipper; yes, indeed."

"Well an' good. But here is matter o' mair account than peat an'
herring. Wilt thou come?"

"At the end I ken weel thou wilt hae thy way. Mother, here is John,
an' he is for my going on the bay wi' him."

"Then thou go. If John kept aye as gude company he wouldna be like to
bring my gray hairs wi' sorrow to the grave."

John did not answer this remark until they had pushed well off from
the sleeping town, then he replied fretfully, "Yes, what mother says
is true enough; but a man goes into the warld. A' the fingers are not
alike, much less one's friends. How can a' be gude?"

"To speak from the heart, John, wha is it?"

"Ragon Torr. Thou knows we hae sat i' the same boat an' drawn the same
nets for three years; he is gude an' bad, like ither folk."

"Keep gude company, my brother, an' thou wilt aye be counted ane o'
them. When Ragon is gude he is ower gude, and when he is bad he is
just beyont kenning."

"Can a man help the kin he comes o'? Have not his forbears done for
centuries the vera same way? Naething takes a Norseman frae his bed or
his cup but some great deed o' danger or profit; but then wha can
fight or wark like them?"

"Christ doesna ask a man whether he be Norse or Scot. If Ragon went
mair to the kirk an' less to the change-house, he wouldna need to
differ. Were not our ain folk cattle-lifting Hieland thieves lang
after the days o' the Covenant?"

"Christine, ye'll speak nae wrang o' the Sabays. It's an ill bird
'files its ain nest."

"Weel, weel, John! The gude name o' the Sabays is i' thy hands now.
But to speak from the heart, this thing touches thee nearer than Ragon
Torr. Thou did not bring me out to speak only o' him."

"Thou art a wise woman, Christine, an' thou art right. It touches
Margaret Fae, an' when it does that, it touches what is dearer to me
than life."

"I see it not."

"Do not Ragon an' I sail i' Peter Fae's boats? Do we not eat at his
table, an' bide round his house during the whole fishing season? If I
sail no more wi' Ragon, I must quit Peter's employ; for he loves Ragon
as he loves no ither lad i' Stromness or Kirkwall. The Norse blood we
think little o', Peter glories in; an' the twa men count thegither
o'er their glasses the races o' the Vikings, an' their ain generations
up to Snorro an' Thorso."

"Is there no ither master but Peter Fae? ask theesel' that question,
John."

"I hae done that, Christine. Plenty o' masters, but nane o' them hae
Margaret for a daughter. Christine, I love Margaret, an' she loves me
weel. Thou hast loved theesel', my sister."

"I ken that, John," she said tenderly; "I hae loved, therefore I hae
got beyont doots, an' learned something holier than my ain way. Thou
trust Margaret now. Thou say 'Yes' to thy mother, an' fear not."

"Christine thou speaks hard words."

"Was it to speak easy anes thou brought me here? An' if I said, 'I
counsel thee to tak thy ain will i' the matter,' wad my counsel mak
bad gude, or wrang right? Paul Calder's fleet sails i' twa days; seek
a place i' his boats."

"Then I shall see next to naught o' Margaret, an' Ragon will see her
every day."

"If Margaret loves thee, that can do thee nae harm."

"But her father favors Ragon, an' of me he thinks nae mair than o' the
nets, or aught else that finds his boats for sea."

"Well an' good; but no talking can alter facts. Thou must now choose
atween thy mother an' Margaret Fae, atween right an' wrang. God doesna
leave that choice i' the dark; thy way may be narrow an' unpleasant,
but it is clear enough. Dost thou fear to walk i' it?"

"There hae been words mair than plenty, Christine. Let us go hame."

Silently the little boat drifted across the smooth bay, and silently
the brother and sister stood a moment looking up the empty, flagged
street of the sleeping town. The strange light, which was neither
gloaming nor dawning, but a mixture of both, the waving boreal
banners, the queer houses, gray with the storms of centuries, the
brown undulating heaths, and the phosphorescent sea, made a strangely
solemn picture which sank deep into their hearts. After a pause,
Christine went into the house, but John sat down on the stone bench to
think over the alternatives before him.

Now the power of training up a child in the way it should go asserted
itself. It became at once a fortification against self-will. John
never had positively disobeyed his mother's explicit commands; he
found it impossible to do so. He must offer his services to Paul
Calder in the morning, and try to trust Margaret Fae's love for him.

He had determined now to do right, but he did not do it very
pleasantly--it is a rare soul that grows sweeter in disappointments.
Both mother and sister knew from John's stern, silent ways that he had
chosen the path of duty, and they expected that he would make it a
valley of Baca. This Dame Alison accepted as in some sort her desert.
"I ought to hae forbid the lad three years syne," she said
regretfully; "aft ill an' sorrow come o' sich sinfu' putting aff.
There's nae half-way house atween right an' wrang."

Certainly the determination involved some unpleasant explanations to
John. He must first see old Peter Fae and withdraw himself from his
service. He found him busy in loading a small vessel with smoked geese
and kippered fish, and he was apparently in a very great passion.
Before John could mention his own matters, Peter burst into a torrent
of invectives against another of his sailors, who, he said, had given
some information to the Excise which had cost him a whole cargo of
Dutch specialties. The culprit was leaning against a hogshead, and was
listening to Peter's intemperate words with a very evil smile.

"How much did ye sell yoursel' for, Sandy Beg? It took the son of a
Hieland robber like you to tell tales of a honest man's cargo. It was
an ill day when the Scots cam to Orkney, I trow."

"She'll hae petter right to say tat same 'fore lang time." And Sandy's
face was dark with a subdued passion that Peter might have known to be
dangerous, but which he continued to aggravate by contemptuous
expressions regarding Scotchmen in general.

This John Sabay was in no mood to bear; he very soon took offence at
Peter's sweeping abuse, and said he would relieve him at any rate of
one Scot. "He didna care to sail again wi' such a crowd as Peter
gathered round him."

It was a very unadvised speech. Ragon lifted it at once, and in the
words which followed John unavoidably found himself associated with
Sandy Beg, a man whose character was of the lowest order. And he had
meant to be so temperate, and to part with both Peter and Ragon on the
best terms possible. How weak are all our resolutions! John turned
away from Peter's store conscious that he had given full sway to all
the irritation and disappointment of his feelings, and that he had
spoken as violently as either Peter, Ragon, or even the half-brutal
Sandy Beg. Indeed, Sandy had said very little; but the malignant look
with which he regarded Peter, John could never forget.

This was not his only annoyance. Paul Calder's boats were fully
manned, and the others had already left for Brassey's Sound. The
Sabays were not rich; a few weeks of idleness would make the long
Orkney winter a dreary prospect. Christine and his mother sat from
morning to night braiding straw into the once famous Orkney Tuscans,
and he went to the peat-moss to cut a good stock of winter fuel; but
his earnings in money were small and precarious, and he was so anxious
that Christine's constant cheerfulness hurt him.

Sandy Beg had indeed said something of an offer he could make "if
shentlemans wanted goot wages wi' ta chance of a lucky bit for
themsel's; foive kuineas ta month an' ta affsets. Oigh! oigh!" But
John had met the offer with such scorn and anger that Sandy had
thought it worth while to bestow one of his most wicked looks upon
him. The fact was, Sandy felt half grateful to John for his apparent
partisanship, and John indignantly resented any disposition to put him
in the same boat with a man so generally suspected and disliked.

"It might be a come-down," he said, "for a gude sailor an' fisher to
coil peats and do days' darg, but it was honest labor; an', please
God, he'd never do that i' the week that wad hinder him fra going to
the kirk on Sabbath."

"Oigh! she'll jist please hersel'; she'll pe owing ta Beg naething by
ta next new moon." And with a mocking laugh Sandy loitered away
towards the seashore.



CHAPTER II.


Just after this interview a little lad put a note in John's hand from
Margaret Fae. It only asked him to be on Brogar Bridge at eight
o'clock that night. Now Brogar Bridge was not a spot that any Orcadian
cared to visit at such an hour. In the pagan temple whose remains
stood there it was said pale ghosts of white-robed priests still
offered up shadowy human sacrifices, and though John's faith was firm
and sure, superstitions are beyond reasoning with, and he recalled the
eerie, weird aspect of the grim stones with an unavoidable
apprehension. What could Margaret want with him in such a place and at
an hour so near that at which Peter usually went home from his shop?
He had never seen Margaret's writing, and he half suspected Sandy Beg
had more to do with the appointment than she had; but he was too
anxious to justify himself in Margaret's eyes to let any fears or
doubts prevent him from keeping the tryst.

He had scarcely reached the Stones of Stennis when he saw her leaning
against one of them. The strange western light was over her thoughtful
face. She seemed to have become a part of the still and solemn
landscape. John had always loved her with a species of reverence;
to-night he felt almost afraid of her beauty and the power she had
over him. She was a true Scandinavian, with the tall, slender, and
rather haughty form which marks Orcadian and Zetland women. Her hair
was perhaps a little too fair and cold, and yet it made a noble
setting to the large, finely-featured, tranquil face.

She put out her hand as John approached, and said, "Was it well that
thou shouldst quarrel with my father? I thought that thou didst love
me."

Then John poured out his whole heart--his love for her, his mother's
demand of him, his quarrel with Ragon and Peter and Sandy Beg. "It has
been an ill time, Margaret," he said, "and thou hast been long in
comforting me."

Well, Margaret had plenty of reasons for her delay and plenty of
comfort for her lover. Naturally slow of pulse and speech, she had
been long coming to a conclusion; but, having satisfied herself of its
justice, she was likely to be immovable in it. She gave John her hand
frankly and lovingly, and promised, in poverty or wealth, in weal or
woe, to stand truly by his side. It was not a very hopeful
troth-plighting, but they were both sure of the foundations of their
love, and both regarded the promise as solemnly binding.

Then Margaret told John that she had heard that evening that the
captain of the Wick steamer wanted a mate, and the rough Pentland
Frith being well known to John, she hoped, if he made immediate
application, he would be accepted. If he was, John declared his
intention of at once seeing Peter and asking his consent to their
engagement. In the meantime the Bridge of Brogar was to be their
tryst, when tryst was possible. Peter's summer dwelling lay not far
from it, and it was Margaret's habit to watch for his boat and walk up
from the beach to the house with him. She would always walk over first
to Brogar, and if John could meet her there that would be well; if
not, she would understand that it was out of the way of duty, and be
content.

John fortunately secured the mate's place. Before he could tell
Margaret this she heard her father speak well of him to the captain.
"There is nae better sailor, nor better lad, for that matter," said
Peter. "I like none that he wad hang roun' my bonnie Marg'et; but
then, a cat may look at a king without it being high treason, I wot."

A week afterwards Peter thought differently. When John told him
honestly how matters stood between him and Margaret he was more angry
than when Sandy Beg swore away his whole Dutch cargo. He would listen
to neither love nor reason, and positively forbid him to hold any
further intercourse with his daughter. John had expected this, and was
not greatly discouraged. He had Margaret's promise. Youth is hopeful,
and they could wait; for it never entered their minds absolutely to
disobey the old man.

In the meantime there was a kind of peacemaking between Ragon and
John. The good Dominie Sinclair had met them both one day on the
beach, and insisted on their forgiving and shaking hands. Neither of
them were sorry to do so. Men who have shared the dangers of the
deep-sea fishing and the stormy Northern Ocean together cannot look
upon each other as mere parts of a bargain. There was, too, a wild
valor and a wonderful power in emergencies belonging to Ragon that had
always dazzled John's more cautious nature. In some respects, he
thought Ragon Torr the greatest sailor that left Stromness harbor, and
Ragon was willing enough to admit that John "was a fine fellow," and
to give his hand at the dominie's direction.

Alas! the good man's peacemaking was of short duration. As soon as
Peter told the young Norse sailor of John's offer for Margaret's hand,
Ragon's passive good-will turned to active dislike and bitter
jealousy. For, though he had taken little trouble to please Margaret,
he had come to look upon her as his future wife. He knew that Peter
wished it so, and he now imagined that it was also the only thing on
earth he cared for.

Thus, though John was getting good wages, he was not happy. It was
rarely he got a word with Margaret, and Peter and Ragon were only too
ready to speak. It became daily more and more difficult to avoid an
open quarrel with them, and, indeed, on several occasions sharp, cruel
words, that hurt like wounds, had passed between them on the public
streets and quays.

Thus Stromness, that used to be so pleasant to him, was changing fast.
He knew not how it was that people so readily believed him in the
wrong. In Wick, too, he had been troubled with Sandy Beg, and a kind
of nameless dread possessed him about the man; he could not get rid of
it, even after he had heard that Sandy had sailed in a whaling ship
for the Arctic seas.

Thus things went on until the end of July. John was engaged now until
the steamer stopped running in September, and the little sum of ready
money necessary for the winter's comfort was assured. Christine sat
singing and knitting, or singing and braiding straw, and Dame Alison
went up and down her cottage with a glad heart. They knew little of
John's anxieties. Christine had listened sympathizingly to his trouble
about Margaret, and said, "Thou wait an' trust; John dear, an' at the
end a' things will be well." Even Ragon's ill-will and Peter's ill
words had not greatly frightened them--"The wrath o' man shall praise
Him," read old Alison, with just a touch of spiritual satisfaction,
"an' the rest o' the wrath he will restrain."



CHAPTER III.


It was a Saturday night in the beginning of August, and John was at
home until the following Monday. He dressed himself and went out
towards Brogar, and Christine watched him far over the western moor,
and blessed him as he went. He had not seen Margaret for many days,
but he had a feeling to-night that she would be able to keep her
tryst. And there, standing amid the rushes on the lakeside, he found
her. They had so much to say to each other that Margaret forgot her
father's return, and delayed so long that she thought it best to go
straight home, instead of walking down the beach to meet him.

He generally left Stromness about half-past eight, and his supper was
laid for nine o'clock. But this night nine passed, and he did not
come; and though the delay could be accounted for in various ways, she
had a dim but anxious forecasting of calamity in her heart. The
atmosphere of the little parlor grew sorrowful and heavy, the lamp did
not seem to light it, her father's chair had a deserted, lonely
aspect, the house was strangely silent; in fifteen minutes she had
forgotten how happy she had been, and wandered to and from the door
like some soul in an uneasy dream.

All at once she heard the far-away shouting of angry and alarmed
voices, and to her sensitive ears her lover's and her father's names
were mingled. It was her nature to act slowly; for a few moments she
could not decide what was to be done. The first thought was the
servants. There were only two, Hacon Flett and Gerda Vedder. Gerda had
gone to bed, Hacon was not on the place. As she gathered her energies
together she began to walk rapidly over the springy heath towards the
white sands of the beach. Her father, if he was coming, would come
that way. She was angry with herself for the _if_. Of course he was
coming. What was there to prevent it? She told herself, Nothing, and
the next moment looked up and saw two men coming towards her, and in
their arms a figure which she knew instinctively was her father's.

She slowly retraced her steps, set open the gate and the door, and
waited for the grief that was coming to her. But however slow her
reasoning faculties, her soul knew in a moment what it needed. It was
but a little prayer said with trembling lips and fainting heart; but
no prayer loses its way. Straight to the heart of Christ it went. And
the answer was there and the strength waiting when Ragon and Hacon
brought in the bleeding, dying old man, and laid him down upon his
parlor floor.

Ragon said but one word, "Stabbed!" and then, turning to Hacon, bid
him ride for life and death into Stromness for a doctor. Most sailors
of these islands know a little rude surgery, and Ragon stayed beside
his friend, doing what he could to relieve the worst symptoms.
Margaret, white and still, went hither and thither, bringing whatever
Ragon wanted, and fearing, she knew not why, to ask any questions.

With the doctor came the dominie and two of the town bailies. There
was little need of the doctor; Peter Fae's life was ebbing rapidly
away with every moment of time. There was but little time now for
whatever had yet to be done. The dominie stooped first to his ear, and
in a few solemn words bid him lay himself at the foot of the cross.
"Thou'lt never perish there, Peter," he said; and the dying man seemed
to catch something of the comfort of such an assurance.

Then Bailie Inkster said, "Peter Fae, before God an' his
minister--before twa o' the town bailies an' thy ain daughter
Margaret, an' thy friend Ragon Torr, an' thy servants Hacon Flett an'
Gerda Vedder, thou art now to say what man stabbed thee."

Peter made one desperate effort, a wild, passionate gleam shot from
the suddenly-opened eyes, and he cried out in a voice terrible in its
despairing anger, "_John Sabay! John Sabay--stabb-ed--me!
Indeed--he--did_!"

"Oh, forgive him, man! forgive him! Dinna think o' that now, Peter!
Cling to the cross--cling to the cross, man! Nane ever perished that
only won to the foot o' it." Then the pleading words were whispered
down into fast-sealing ears, and the doctor quietly led away a poor
heart-stricken girl, who was too shocked to weep and too humbled and
wretched to tell her sorrow to any one but God.



CHAPTER IV.


The bailies, after hearing the deposition, immediately repaired to
John Sabay's cottage. It was Saturday night, and no warrant could now
be got, but the murderer must be secured. No two men bent on such an
errand ever found it more difficult to execute. The little family had
sat later than usual. John had always news they were eager to hear--of
tourists and strangers he had seen in Wick, or of the people the
steamer had brought to Kirkwall.

He was particularly cheerful this evening; his interview with Margaret
had been hopeful and pleasant, and Christine had given the houseplace
and the humble supper-table quite a festival look. They had sat so
long over the meal that when the bailies entered John was only then
reading the regular portion for the evening exercise. All were a
little amazed at the visit, but no one thought for a moment of
interrupting the Scripture; and the two men sat down and listened
attentively while John finished the chapter.

Bailie Tulloch then rose and went towards the dame. He was a far-off
cousin of the Sabays, and, though not on the best of terms with them,
his relationship was considered to impose the duty particularly on
him.

"Gude-e'en, if thou comes on a gude errand," said old Dame Alison,
suspiciously; "but that's no thy custom, bailie."

"I came, dame, to ask John anent Peter Fae."

The dame laughed pleasantly. "If thou had asked him anent Margaret
Fae, he could tell thee more about it."

"This is nae laughing matter, dame. Peter Fae has been murdered--yes,
murdered! An' he said, ere he died, that John Sabay did the deed."

"Then Peter Fae died wi' a lie on his lips--tell them that, John," and
the old woman's face was almost majestic in its defiance and anger.

"I hae not seen Peter Fae for a week," said John. "God knows that,
bailie. I wad be the vera last man to hurt a hair o' his gray head;
why he is Margaret's father!"

"Still, John, though we hae nae warrant to hold thee, we are beholden
to do sae; an' thou maun come wi' us," said Bailie Inkster.

"Wrang has nae warrant at ony time, an' ye will no touch my lad," said
Alison, rising and standing before her son.

"Come, dame, keep a still tongue."

"My tongue's no under thy belt, Tulloch; but it's weel kenned that
since thou wranged us thou ne'er liked us."

"Mother, mother, dinna fash theesel'. It's naught at a' but a mistake;
an' I'll gae wi' Bailie Inkster, if he's feared to tak my word."

"I could tak thy word fain enough, John--"

"But the thing isna possible, Inkster. Besides, if he were missing
Monday morn, I, being i' some sort a relation, wad be under suspicion
o' helping him awa."

"Naebody wad e'er suspect thee o' a helping or mercifu' deed, Tulloch.
Indeed na!"

"Tak care, dame; thou art admitting it wad be a mercifu' deed. I heard
Peter Fae say that John Sabay stabbed him, an' Ragon Torr and Hacon
Flett saw John, as I understan' the matter."

"Mother," said John, "do thou talk to nane but God. Thou wilt hae to
lead the prayer theesel' to-night; dinna forget me. I'm as innocent o'
this matter as Christine is; mak up thy mind on that."

"God go wi' thee, John. A' the men i' Orkney can do nae mair than they
may against thee."

"It's an unco grief an' shame to me," said Tulloch, "but the Sabays
hae aye been a thorn i' the flesh to me, an' John's the last o' them,
the last o' them!"

"Thou art makin' thy count without Providence, Tulloch. There's mair
Sabays than Tullochs; for there's Ane for them that counts far beyont
an' above a' that can be against them. Now, thou step aff my honest
hearthstane--there is mair room for thee without than within."

Then John held his mother's and sister's hands a moment, and there was
such _virtue_ in the clasp, and such light and trust in their faces,
that it was impossible for him not to catch hope from them. Suddenly
Bailie Tulloch noticed that John was in his Sabbath-day clothes. In
itself this was not remarkable on a Saturday night. Most of the people
kept this evening as a kind of preparation for the Holy Day, and the
best clothing and the festival meal were very general. But just then
it struck the bailies as worth inquiring about.

"Where are thy warking-claes, John--the uniform, I mean, o' that
steamship company thou sails for--and why hast na them on thee?"

"I had a visit to mak, an' I put on my best to mak it in. The ithers
are i' my room."

"Get them, Christine."

Christine returned in a few minutes pale-faced and empty-handed. "They
are not there, John, nor yet i' thy kist."

"I thought sae."

"Then God help me, sister! I know not where they are."

Even Bailie Inkster looked doubtful and troubled at this circumstance.
Silence, cold and suspicious, fell upon them, and poor John went away
half-bereft of all the comfort his mother's trust and Christine's look
had given him.

The next day being Sabbath, no one felt at liberty to discuss the
subject; but as the little groups passed one another on their way to
church their solemn looks and their doleful shakes of the head
testified to its presence in their thoughts. The dominie indeed,
knowing how nearly impossible it would be for them not to think their
own thoughts this Lord's day, deemed it best to guide those thoughts
to charity. He begged every one to be kind to all in deep affliction,
and to think no evil until it was positively known who the guilty
person was.

Indeed, in spite of the almost overwhelming evidence against John
Sabay, there was a strong disposition to believe him innocent. "If ye
believe a' ye hear, ye may eat a' ye see," said Geordie Sweyn. "Maybe
John Sabay killed old Peter Fae, but every maybe has a may-not-be."
And to this remark there were more nods of approval than shakes of
dissent.

But affairs, even with this gleam of light, were dark enough to the
sorrowful family. John's wages had stopped, and the winter fuel was
not yet all cut. A lawyer had to be procured, and they must mortgage
their little cottage to do it; and although ten days had passed,
Margaret Fae had not shown, either by word or deed, what was her
opinion regarding John's guilt or innocence.

But Margaret, as before said, was naturally slow in all her movements,
so slow that even Scotch caution had begun to call her cruel or
careless. But this was a great injustice. She had weighed carefully in
her own mind everything against John, and put beside it his own letter
to her and her intimate knowledge of his character, and then solemnly
sat down in God's presence to take such counsel as he should put into
her heart. After many prayerful, waiting days she reached a conclusion
which was satisfactory to herself; and she then put away from her
every doubt of John's innocence, and resolved on the course to be
pursued.

In the first place she would need money to clear the guiltless and to
seek the guilty, and she resolved to continue her father's business.
She had assisted him so long with his accounts that his methods were
quite familiar to her; all she needed was some one to handle the rough
goods, and stand between her and the rude sailors with whom the
business was mainly conducted.

Who was this to be? Ragon Torr? She was sure Ragon would have been her
father's choice. He had taken all charge of the funeral, and had since
hung round the house, ready at any moment to do her service. But Ragon
would testify against John Sabay, and she had besides an unaccountable
antipathy to his having any nearer relation with her. "I'll ask
Geordie Sweyn," she said, after a long consultation with her own slow
but sure reasoning powers; "he'll keep the skippers an' farmers i' awe
o' him; an' he's just as honest as any ither man."

So Geordie was sent for and the proposal made and accepted. "Thou wilt
surely be true to me, Geordie?"

"As sure as death, Miss Margaret;" and when he gave her his great
brawny hand on it, she knew her affairs in that direction were safe.

Next morning the shop was opened as usual, and Geordie Sweyn stood in
Peter Fae's place. The arrangement had been finally made so rapidly
that it had taken all Stromness by surprise. But no one said anything
against it; many believed it to be wisely done, and those who did not,
hardly cared to express dissatisfaction with a man whose personal
prowess and ready hand were so well known.

The same day Christine received a very sisterly letter from Margaret,
begging her to come and talk matters over with her. There were such
obvious reasons why Margaret could not go to Christine, that the
latter readily complied with the request; and such was the influence
that this calm, cool, earnest girl had over the elder woman, that she
not only prevailed upon her to accept money to fee the lawyer in
John's defence, but also whatever was necessary for their comfort
during the approaching winter. Thus Christine and Margaret mutually
strengthened each other, and both cottage and prison were always the
better for every meeting.



CHAPTER V.


But soon the summer passed away, and the storms and snows of winter
swept over the lonely island. There would be no court until December
to try John, and his imprisonment in Kirkwall jail grew every day more
dreary. But no storms kept Christine long away from him. Over almost
impassable roads and mosses she made her way on the little ponies of
the country, which had to perform a constant steeple-chase over the
bogs and chasms.

All things may be borne when they are sure; and every one who loved
John was glad when at last he could have a fair hearing. Nothing
however was in his favor. The bailies and the murdered man's servants,
even the dominie and his daughter could tell but one tale. "Peter Fae
had declared with his last breath that John Sabay had stabbed him."
The prosecution also brought forward strong evidence to show that very
bitter words had passed, a few days before the murder, between the
prisoner and the murdered man.

In the sifting of this evidence other points were brought out, still
more convincing. Hacon Flett said that he was walking to Stromness by
the beach to meet his sweetheart, when he heard the cry of murder, and
in the gloaming light saw John Sabay distinctly running across the
moor. When asked how he knew certainly that it was John, he said that
he knew him by his peculiar dress, its bright buttons, and the glimmer
of gold braid on his cap. He said also, in a very decided manner, that
John Sabay passed Ragon Torr so closely that he supposed they had
spoken.

Then Ragon being put upon his oath, and asked solemnly to declare who
was the man that had thus passed him, tremblingly answered,

"_John Sabay!_"

John gave him such a look as might well haunt a guilty soul through
all eternity; and old Dame Alison, roused by a sense of intolerable
wrong, cried out,

"Know this, there's a day coming that will show the black heart; but
traitors' words ne'er yet hurt the honest cause."

"Peace, woman!" said an officer of the court, not unkindly.

"Weel, then, God speak for me! an' my thoughts are free; if I daurna
say, I may think."

In defence Margaret Fae swore that she had been with John on Brogar
Bridge until nearly time to meet her father, and that John then wore a
black broadcloth suit and a high hat; furthermore, that she believed
it utterly impossible for him to have gone home, changed his clothes,
and then reached the scene of the murder at the time Hacon Flett and
Ragon Torr swore to his appearance there.

But watches were very uncommon then; no one of the witnesses had any
very distinct idea of the time; some of them varied as much as an hour
in their estimate. It was also suggested by the prosecution that John
probably had the other suit secreted near the scene of the murder.
Certain it was that he had not been able either to produce it or to
account for its mysterious disappearance.

The probability of Sandy Beg being the murderer was then advanced; but
Sandy was known to have sailed in a whaling vessel before the murder,
and no one had seen him in Stromness since his departure for Wick
after his dismissal from Peter Fae's service.

No one? Yes, some one had seen him. That fatal night, as Ragon Torr
was crossing the moor to Peter's house--he having some news of a very
particular vessel to give--he heard the cry of "Murder," and he heard
Hacon Flett call out, "I know thee, John Sabay. Thou hast stabbed my
master!" and he instantly put himself in the way of the flying man.
Then he knew at once that it was Sandy Beg in John Sabay's clothes.
The two men looked a moment in each other's face, and Sandy saw in
Ragon's something that made him say,

"She'll pat Sandy safe ta night, an' that will mak her shure o' ta
lass she's seeking far."

There was no time for parley; Ragon's evil nature was strongest, and
he answered, "There is a cellar below my house, thou knows it weel."

Indeed, most of the houses in Stromness had underground passages, and
places of concealment used for smuggling purposes, and Ragon's lonely
house was a favorite rendezvous. The vessel whose arrival he had been
going to inform Peter of was a craft not likely to come into Stromness
with all her cargo.

Towards morning Ragon had managed to see Sandy and send him out to her
with such a message as insured her rapid disappearance. Sandy had also
with him a sum of money which he promised to use in transporting
himself at once to India, where he had a cousin in the forty-second
Highland regiment.

Ragon had not at first intended to positively swear away his friend's
life; he had been driven to it, not only by Margaret's growing
antipathy to him and her decided interest in John's case and family,
but also by that mysterious power of events which enable the devil to
forge the whole chain that binds a man when the first link is given
him. But the word once said, he adhered positively to it, and even
asserted it with quite unnecessary vehemence and persistence.

After such testimony there was but one verdict possible. John Sabay
was declared guilty of murder, and sentenced to death. But there was
still the same strange and unreasonable belief in his innocence, and
the judge, with a peculiar stretch of clemency, ordered the sentence
to be suspended until he could recommend the prisoner to his majesty's
mercy.

A remarkable change now came over Dame Alison. Her anger, her sense of
wrong, her impatience, were over. She had come now to where she could
do nothing else but trust implicitly in God; and her mind, being thus
stayed, was kept in a strange exultant kind of perfect peace. Lost
confidence? Not a bit of it! Both Christine and her mother had reached
a point where they knew

  "That right is right, since God is God,
    And right the day must win;
  To doubt would be disloyalty,
    To falter would be sin."



CHAPTER VI.


Slowly the weary winter passed away. And just as spring was opening
there began to be talk of Ragon Torr's going away. Margaret continued
to refuse his addresses with a scorn he found it ill to bear; and he
noticed that many of his old acquaintances dropped away from him.
There is a distinct atmosphere about every man, and the atmosphere
about Ragon people began to avoid. No one could have given a very
clear reason for doing so; one man did not ask another why; but the
fact needed no reasoning about, it was there.

One day, when Paul Calder was making up his spring cargoes, Ragon
asked for a boat, and being a skilful sailor, he was accepted. But no
sooner was the thing known, than Paul had to seek another crew.

"What was the matter?"

"Nothing; they did not care to sail with Ragon Torr, that was all."

This circumstance annoyed Ragon very much. He went home quite
determined to leave Stromness at once and for ever. Indeed he had been
longing to do so for many weeks, but had stayed partly out of bravado,
and partly because there were few opportunities of getting away during
the winter.

He went home and shut himself in his own room, and began to count his
hoarded gold. While thus employed, there was a stir or movement under
his feet which he quite understood. Some one was in the secret cellar,
and was coming up. He turned hastily round, and there was Sandy Beg.

"Thou scoundrel!" and he fairly gnashed his teeth at the intruder,
"what dost thou want here?"

"She'll be wanting money an' help."

Badly enough Sandy wanted both; and a dreadful story he told. He had
indeed engaged himself at Wick for a whaling voyage, but at the last
moment had changed his mind and deserted. For somewhere among the
wilds of Rhiconich in Sutherland he had a mother, a wild,
superstitious, half-heathen Highland woman, and he wanted to see her.
Coming back to the coast, after his visit, he had stopped a night at a
little wayside inn, and hearing some drovers talking of their gold in
Gallic, a language which he well understood, he had followed them into
the wild pass of Gualon, and there shot them from behind a rock. For
this murder he had been tracked, and was now so closely pursued that
he had bribed with all the gold he had a passing fishing-smack to drop
him at Stromness during the night.

"She'll gae awa now ta some ither place; 'teet will she! An' she's
hungry--an' unco dry;" all of which Sandy emphasized by a desperate
and very evil look.

The man was not to be trifled with, and Ragon knew that he was in his
power. If Sandy was taken, he would confess all, and Ragon knew well
that in such case transportation for life and hard labor would be his
lot. Other considerations pressed him heavily--the shame, the loss,
the scorn of Margaret, the triumph of all his ill-wishers. No, he had
gone too far to retreat.

He fed the villain, gave him a suit of his own clothes, and £50, and
saw him put off to sea. Sandy promised to keep well out in the bay,
until some vessel going North to Zetland or Iceland, or some Dutch
skipper bound for Amsterdam, took him up. All the next day Ragon was
in misery, but nightfall came and he had heard nothing of Sandy,
though several craft had come into port. If another day got over he
would feel safe; but he told himself that he was in a gradually
narrowing circle, and that the sooner he leaped outside of it the
better.

When he reached home the old couple who hung about the place, and who
had learned to see nothing and to hear nothing, came to him and
voluntarily offered a remark.

"Queer folk an' strange folk have been here, an' ta'en awa some claes
out o' the cellar."

Ragon asked no questions. He knew what clothes they were--that suit of
John Sabay's in which Sandy Beg had killed Peter Fae, and the rags
which Sandy had a few hours before exchanged for one of his own
sailing-suits. He needed no one to tell him what had happened. Sandy
had undoubtedly bespoke the very vessel containing the officers in
search of him, and had confessed all, as he said he would. The men
were probably at this moment looking for him.

He lifted the gold prepared for any such emergency, and, loosening his
boat, pulled for life and death towards Mayness Isle. Once in the
rapid "race" that divides it and Olla from the ocean, he knew no boat
would dare to follow him. While yet a mile from it he saw that he was
rapidly pursued by a four-oared boat. Now all his wild Norse nature
asserted itself. He forgot everything but that he was eluding his
pursuers, and as the chase grew hotter, closer, more exciting, his
enthusiasm carried him far beyond all prudence.

He began to shout or chant to his wild efforts some old Norse
death-song, and just as they gained on him he shot into the "race" and
defied them. Oars were useless there, and they watched him fling them
far away and stand up with outstretched arms in the little skiff. The
waves tossed it hither and thither, the boiling, racing flood hurried
it with terrific force towards the ocean. The tall, massive figure
swayed like a reed in a tempest, and suddenly the half despairing,
half defying song was lost in the roar of the bleak, green surges. All
knew then what had happened.

"Let me die the death o' the righteous," murmured one old man, piously
veiling his eyes with his bonnet; and then the boat turned and went
silently back to Stromness.

Sandy Beg was in Kirkwall jail. He had made a clean breast of all his
crimes, and measures were rapidly taken for John Sabay's enlargement
and justification. When he came out of prison Christine and Margaret
were waiting for him, and it was to Margaret's comfortable home he was
taken to see his mother. "For we are ane household now, John," she
said tenderly, "an' Christine an' mother will ne'er leave me any
mair."

Sandy's trial came on at the summer term. He was convicted on his own
confession, and sentenced to suffer the penalty of his crime upon the
spot where he stabbed Peter Fae. For some time he sulkily rejected all
John's efforts to mitigate his present condition, or to prepare him
for his future. But at last the tender spot in his heart was found.
John discovered his affection for his half-savage mother, and promised
to provide for all her necessities.

"It's only ta poun' o' taa, an' ta bit cabin ta shelter her she'll
want at a'," but the tears fell heavily on the red, hairy hands; "an'
she'll na tell her fat ill outsent cam to puir Sandy."

"Thou kens I will gie her a' she needs, an' if she chooses to come to
Orkney--"

"Na, na, she wullna leave ta Hieland hills for naught at a'."

"Then she shall hae a siller crown for every month o' the year,
Sandy."

The poor, rude creature hardly knew how to say a "thanks;" but John
saw it in his glistening eyes and heard it in the softly-muttered
words, "She was ta only are tat e'er caret for Santy Beg."

It was a solemn day in Stromness when he went to the gallows. The
bells tolled backward, the stores were all closed, and there were
prayers both in public and private for the dying criminal. But few
dared to look upon the awful expiation, and John spent the hour in
such deep communion with God and his own soul that its influence
walked with him to the end of life.

And when his own sons were grown up to youths, one bound for the sea
and the other for Marischal College, Aberdeen, he took them aside and
told them this story, adding,

"An' know this, my lads: the shame an' the sorrow cam a' o' ane
thing--I made light o' my mother's counsel, an' thought I could do
what nane hae ever done, gather mysel' with the deil's journeymen, an'
yet escape the wages o' sin. Lads! lads! there's nae half-way house
atween right and wrang; know that."

"But, my father," said Hamish, the younger of the two, "thou did at
the last obey thy mother."

"Ay, ay, Hamish; but mak up thy mind to this: it isna enough that a
man rins a gude race; he maun also _start at the right time_. This is
what I say to thee, Hamish, an' to thee, Donald: fear God, an' ne'er
lightly heed a gude mother's advice. It's weel wi' the lads that carry
a mother's blessing through the warld wi' them."



Lile Davie.



LILE DAVIE.


In Yorkshire and Lancashire the word "lile" means "little," but in the
Cumberland dales it has a far wider and nobler definition. There it is
a term of honor, of endearment, of trust, and of approbation. David
Denton won the pleasant little prefix before he was ten years old.
When he saved little Willy Sabay out of the cold waters of Thirlmere,
the villagers dubbed him "Lile Davie." When he took a flogging to
spare the crippled lad of Farmer Grimsby, men and women said proudly,
"He were a lile lad;" and when he gave up his rare half-holiday to
help the widow Gates glean, they had still no higher word of praise
than "kind lile Davie."

However, it often happens that a prophet has no honor among his own
people, and David was the black sheep of the miserly household of
Denton Farm. It consisted of old Christopher Denton, his three sons,
Matthew, Sam, and David, and his daughter Jennie. They had the
reputation of being "people well-to-do," but they were not liked among
the Cumberland "states-men," who had small sympathy for their
niggardly hospitality and petty deeds of injustice.

One night in early autumn Christopher was sitting at the great black
oak table counting over the proceeds of the Kendal market, and Matt
and Sam looked greedily on. There was some dispute about the wool and
the number of sheep, and Matt said angrily, "There's summat got to be
done about Davie. He's just a clish-ma-saunter, lying among the ling
wi' a book in his hand the lee-long day. It is just miff-maff and
nonsense letting him go any longer to the schoolmaster. I am fair
jagged out wi' his ways."

"That's so," said Sam.

"Then why don't you gie the lad a licking, and make him mind the sheep
better? I saw him last Saturday playing sogers down at Thirlston with
a score or more of idle lads like himsel'." The old man spoke
irritably, and looked round for the culprit. "I'll lay thee a penny
he's at the same game now. Gie him a licking when he comes in, son
Matt."

"Nay, but Matt wont," said Jennie Denton, with a quiet decision. She
stood at her big wheel, spinning busily, though it was nine o'clock;
and though her words were few and quiet, the men knew from her face
and manner that Davie's licking would not be easily accomplished. In
fact, Jennie habitually stood between Davie and his father and
brothers. She had nursed him through a motherless babyhood, and had
always sympathized in his eager efforts to rise above the sordid life
that encompassed him. It was Jennie who had got him the grudging
permission to go in the evening to the village schoolmaster for some
book-learning. But peculiar circumstances had favored her in this
matter, for neither the old man nor his sons could read or write, and
they had begun to find this, in their changed position, and in the
rapid growth of general information, a serious drawback in business
matters.

Therefore, as Davie could not be spared in the day, the schoolmaster
agreed for a few shillings a quarter to teach him in the evening. This
arrangement altered the lad's whole life. He soon mastered the simple
branches he had been sent to acquire, and then master and pupil far
outstepped old Christopher's programme, and in the long snowy nights,
and in the balmy summer ones, pored with glowing cheeks over old
histories and wonderful lives of great soldiers and sailors.

In fact, David Denton, like most good sons, had a great deal of his
mother in him, and she had been the daughter of a long line of brave
Westmoreland troopers. The inherited tendencies which had passed over
the elder boys asserted themselves with threefold force in this last
child of a dying woman. And among the sheepcotes in the hills he felt
that he was the son of the men who had defied Cromwell on the banks of
the Kent and followed Prince Charlie to Preston.

But the stern discipline of a Cumberland states-man's family is not
easily broken. Long after David had made up his mind to be a soldier
he continued to bear the cuffs and sneers and drudgery that fell to
him, watching eagerly for some opportunity of securing his father's
permission. But of this there was little hope. His knowledge of
writing and accounts had become of service, and his wish to go into
the world and desert the great cause of the Denton economies was an
unheard-of piece of treason and ingratitude.

David ventured to say that he "had taught Jennie to write and count,
and she was willing to do his work."

The ignorant, loutish brothers scorned the idea of "women-folk
meddling wi' their 'counts and wool," and, "besides," as Matt argued,
"Davie's going would necessitate the hiring of two shepherds; no hired
man would do more than half of what folk did for their ain."

These disputes grew more frequent and more angry, and when Davie had
added to all his other faults the unpardonable one of falling in love
with the schoolmaster's niece, there was felt to be no hope for the
lad. The Dentons had no poor relations; they regarded them as the one
thing _not_ needful, and they concluded it was better to give Davie a
commission and send him away.

Poor Jennie did all the mourning for the lad; his father and brothers
were in the midst of a new experiment for making wool water-proof, and
pretty Mary Butterworth did not love David as David wished her to love
him. It was Jennie only who hung weeping on his neck and watched him
walk proudly and sorrowfully away over the hills into the wide, wide
world beyond.

Then for many, many long years no more was heard of "Lile Davie
Denton." The old schoolmaster died and Christopher followed him. But
the Denton brothers remained together. However, when men make saving
money the sole end of their existence, their life soon becomes as
uninteresting as the multiplication table, and people ceased to care
about the Denton farm, especially as Jennie married a wealthy squire
over the mountains, and left her brothers to work out alone their new
devices and economies.

Jennie's marriage was a happy one, but she did not forget her brother.
There was in Esthwaite Grange a young man who bore his name and who
was preparing for a like career. And often Jennie Esthwaite told to
the lads and lasses around her knees the story of their "lile uncle,"
whom every one but his own kin had loved, and who had gone away to the
Indies and never come back again. "Lile Davie" was the one bit of
romance in Esthwaite Grange.

Jennie's brothers had never been across the "fells" that divided
Denton from Esthwaite; therefore, one morning, twenty-seven years
after Davie's departure, she was astonished to see Matt coming slowly
down the Esthwaite side. But she met him with hearty kindness, and
after he had been rested and refreshed he took a letter from his
pocket and said, "Jennie, this came from Davie six months syne, but I
thought then it would be seeking trouble to answer it."

"Why, Matt, this letter is directed to me! How dared you open and keep
it?"

"Dared, indeed! That's a nice way for a woman to speak to her eldest
brother!' Read it, and then you'll see why I kept it from you."

Poor Jennie's eyes filled fuller at every line. He was sick and
wounded and coming home to die, and wanted to see his old home and
friends once more.

"O Matt! Matt!" she cried; "how cruel, how shameful, not to answer
this appeal."

"Well, I did it for the best; but it seems I have made a mistake. Sam
and I both thought an ailing body dovering round the hearthstone and
doorstone was not to be thought of--and nobody to do a hand's turn but
old Elsie, who is nearly blind--and Davie never was one to do a decent
hand job, let by it was herding sheep, and that it was not like he'd
be fit for; so we just agreed to let the matter lie where it was."

"Oh, it was a cruel shame, Matt."

"Well, it was a mistake; for yesterday Sam went to Kendall, and there,
in the Stramon-gate, he met Tom Philipson, who is just home from
India. And what does Tom say but, 'Have you seen the general yet?'
and, 'Great man is Gen. Denton,' and, 'Is it true that he is going to
buy the Derwent estate?' and, 'Wont the Indian Government miss Gen.
Denton!' Sam wasn't going to let Tom see how the land lay, and Tom
went off saying that Sam had no call to be so pesky proud; that it
wasn't him who had conquered the Mahrattas and taken the Ghiznee
Pass."

Jennie was crying bitterly, and saying softly to herself, "O my brave
laddie! O my bonnie lile Davie!"

"Hush, woman! No good comes of crying. Write now as soon as you like,
and the sooner the better."

In a very few hours Jennie had acted on this advice, and, though the
writing and spelling were wonderful, the poor sick general, nursing
himself at the Bath waters, felt the love that spoke in every word. He
had not expected much from his brothers; it was Jennie and Jennie's
bairns he wanted to see. He was soon afterwards an honored guest in
Esthwaite Grange, and the handsome old soldier, riding slowly among
the lovely dales, surrounded by his nephews and nieces, became a
well-known sight to the villages around.

Many in Thirlston remembered him, and none of his old companions found
themselves forgotten. Nor did he neglect his brothers. These cautious
men had become of late years manufacturers, and it was said were
growing fabulously rich. They had learned the value of the low coppice
woods on their fell-side, and had started a bobbin-mill which Sam
superintended, while Matt was on constant duty at the great steam-mill
on Milloch-Force, where he spun his own wools into blankets and
serges.

The men were not insensible to the honor of their brother's career;
they made great capital of it privately. But they were also intensely
dissatisfied at the reckless way in which he spent his wealth. Young
David Esthwaite had joined a crack regiment with his uncle's
introduction and at his uncle's charges, and Jennie and Mary Esthwaite
had been what the brothers considered extravagantly dowered in order
that they might marry two poor clergymen whom they had set their
hearts on.

"It is just sinful, giving women that much good gold," said Matt
angrily: "and here we are needing it to keep a great business afloat."

It was the first time Matt had dared to hint that the mill under his
care was not making money, and he was terribly shocked when Sam made a
similar confession. In fact, the brothers, with all their cleverness
and industry, were so ignorant that they were necessarily at the mercy
of those they employed, and they had fallen into roguish hands. Sam
proposed that David should be asked to look over their affairs and
tell them where the leakage was: "He was always a lile-hearted chap,
and I'd trust him, Matt, up hill and down dale, I would."

But Matt objected to this plan. He said David must be taken through
the mills and the most made of everything, and then in a week or two
afterwards be offered a partnership; and Matt, being the eldest,
carried the day. A great festival was arranged, everything was seen to
the best advantage, and David was exceedingly interested. He lingered
with a strange fascination among the steam-looms, and Matt saw the
bait had taken, for as they walked back together to the old homestead
David said, "You were ever a careful man, Matt, but it must take a
deal of money--you understand, brother--if you need at any time--I
hope I don't presume."

"Certainly not. Yes, we are doing a big business--a very good business
indeed; perhaps when you are stronger you may like to join us."

"I sha'n't get stronger, Matt--so I spoke now."

Sam, in his anxiety, thought Matt had been too prudent; he would have
accepted Davie's offer at once; but Matt was sure that by his plan
they would finally get all the general's money into their hands.
However, the very clever always find some quantity that they have
failed to take into account. After this long day at the mills General
Denton had a severe relapse, and it was soon evident that his work was
nearly finished.

"But you must not fret, Jennie dear," he said cheerfully; "I am indeed
younger in years than you, but then I have lived a hundred times as
long. What a stirring, eventful life I have had! I must have lived a
cycle among these hills to have evened it; and most of my comrades are
already gone."

One day, at the very last, he said, "Jennie, there is one bequest in
my will may astonish you, but it is all right. I went to see her a
month ago. She is a widow now with a lot of little lads around her.
And I loved her, Jennie--never loved any woman but her. Poor Mary! She
has had a hard time; I have tried to make things easier."

"You had always a lile heart, Davie; you could do no wrong to any
one."

"I hope not. I--hope--not." And with these words and a pleasant smile
the general answered some call that he alone heard, and trusting in
his Saviour, passed confidently

  "The quicks and drift that fill the rift
    Between this world and heaven."

His will, written in the kindest spirit, caused a deal of angry
feeling; for it was shown by it that after his visit to the Denton
Mills he had revoked a bequest to the brothers of £20,000, because, as
he explicitly said, "My dear brothers do not need it;" and this
£20,000 he left to Mary Butterworth Pierson, "who is poor and
delicate, and does sorely need it." And the rest of his property he
divided between Jennie and Jennie's bairns.

In the first excitement of their disappointment and ruin, Sam, who
dreaded his brother's anger, and who yet longed for some sympathetic
word, revealed to Jennie and her husband the plan Matt had laid, and
how signally it had failed.

"I told him, squire, I did for sure, to be plain and honest with
Davie. Davie was always a lile fellow, and he would have helped us out
of trouble. Oh, dear! oh, dear! that £20,000 would just have put a'
things right."

"A straight line, lad, is always the shortest line in business and
morals, as well as in geometry; and I have aye found that to be true
in my dealings is to be wise. Lying serves no one but the devil, as
ever I made out."





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