Part 4 out of 4
to go there, rest for a day or two with his cousin, and if he found her
sympathetic, ask her help in his perplexity.
He called at the office on his way to the railway station, and he was met
by the manager with an exclamation of peculiar satisfaction. "No one could
be more welcome at this hour, Mr. Allan," he said; "we were all longing
for you. There is bad news from Russia."
"Is very ill. He took a severe cold in a night journey over the Novgorod
Steppe, and he is prostrate with rheumatic fever at Riga. I had just told
Luggan to be ready to leave by to-night's train for Hull. I think that
will be the quickest route."
"I can catch the noon train. I will call in an hour for money and advices,
and go myself."
"That is what I expected as soon as I saw you. Have you heard that Miss
Campbell is very ill?"
"No. Is she at Drumloch? Who is caring for her?"
"She is at Drumloch. Dr. Fleming goes from Glasgow every day to consult
with the Ayr doctor. Her housekeeper, Mrs. Leslie, is an old servant, she
was with Miss Campbell's mother; forbye, Fleming says, she has with her a
young lady friend who never leaves the sick room night or day."
"I was just going out to Drumloch, but that is now neither possible nor
desirable. I could be of no use to Miss Campbell, I can be everything to
Allan had only one call to make. It was upon a middle-aged man, who had
long been employed by their house in affairs demanding discernment and
secrecy. Few words passed between them. Allan laid a small likeness of
Maggie on the table with a £100 Bank of England note, and said, "Simon
Fraser, I want you to find that young lady for me. If you have good news
when I return, I will give you another hundred pounds."
"Have you any suggestions, Mr. Allan? Is she in Glasgow?"
"I think so. You might watch churches and dressmakers."
"Am I to speak to her?"
"Not a word."
"Shall I go to the office with reports?"
"No. Keep all information until I come for it. Remember the lady is worthy
of the deepest respect. On no account suffer her to discover that you are
doing for me what unavoidable circumstances prevent me from doing myself."
An hour after this interview Allan was on his way to Riga. In every life
there are a few sharp transitions. People pass in a moment, as it were,
from one condition to another, and it seemed to Allan as if he never could
be quite the same again. That intangible, un-namable charm of a happy and
thoughtless youth had suddenly slipped away from him, and he was sure that
at this hour he looked at things as he could not have looked at them a
week before. And yet extremities always find men better than they think
they are. His love and his duty set before Allan, he had not put his own
happiness for one moment before his father's welfare and relief. Without
delay and without grudging he had answered his call for help and sympathy.
But while he was hurrying on his journey of love and succor, Maggie was
watching in an indescribable sickness of delayed hope. If Allan got her
letter on the 29th she thought he would surely be at Drumloch on the 30th.
She gave him until the evening. She invented excuses for his delay for
several more wretched days. Then she resigned all hope of seeing him. Her
letter had missed him, and perhaps he would never again visit Pittenloch.
What a week of misery she spent! One morning Dr. Fleming turned her
sharply to the light. "Miss Promoter," he said, "you are very near ill.
Go away and cry. Take a good cry. It may save you a deal of suffering. I
will stay by Miss Campbell an hour. Run into the garden, my brave woman,
and have it out with yourself."
She was thankful to do so. She wrapped her plaid around her and almost
fled to the thick laurel shrubbery. As she walked there she cried softly,
"Oh, Allan, Allan, Allan, it wasna my fault, dearie! It wasna Maggie's
fault! It wasna Maggie's fault!" Her bit of broken sixpence hung by a
narrow ribbon round her neck. She laid it in her hand, kissed it, and wept
over it. "He'll maybe come back to me! He'll maybe come back to me! And if
he never comes back I'll be aye true to him; true till death to him. He'll
ken it some time! He'll ken it some time!" She cried passionately; she let
her quick nature have full way; and sobbed as she had been used to sob
upon the beach of Pittenloch, or in the coverts of its bleak, black rocks.
The cruelty of the separation, the doubt, the injustice that must mingle
in Allan's memory with her, this was what "rent her heart." Oh, words of
terrible fidelity! And how was she to conceal, to bear this secret wound?
And who should restore to her the dear face, the voice, the heart that
wrapped her in its love? In that sad hour how prodigal she was of tender
words! Words which she would perhaps have withheld if Allan had been by
her side. What passionate avowals of her affection she made, so sweet, so
thrilling, that it would be a kind of profanation to write them.
When she went back to the house she was weary, but calm. Only hope seemed
to have gone forever. There are melancholy days in which the sun has no
color, and the clouds hang in dark masses, gray upon darker gray. Life has
the same pallors and glooms; we are weary of ourselves and of others, we
have the sensation of defeat upon defeat, of hopeless struggles, of mortal
languors that no faith can lift. As Maggie watched that day beside her
friend she felt such prostration. She smiled scornfully to herself as she
remembered that ever in the novels which she had read the lover and the
hero always appeared in some such moments of extremity as she had gone
through. But Allan had not found her in the laurel walk, and she did not
believe he would ever try to find her again. Sorrow had not yet taught her
that destiny loves surprises.
About midnight she walked into an adjoining dressing room and looked out.
How cold and steely the river wound through the brown woods until it
mingled with the ghostly film on the horizon! Through what cloudy crags,
The moon came rushing like a stag,
With one star like a hound,
behind it! As she watched the solemn, restless picture, she was called
The word was scarce audible, but she stepped swiftly back, and kneeling by
Mary's side lifted her wasted hand. The eyes that met hers had the light
of reason in them at last.
"I am awake, Maggie."
"Yes, dear. Do not talk, you have been ill; you are getting better."
Mary smiled. The happiest of pillows is that which Death has frowned on,
and passed over. "I am really getting well?"
"You are really getting well. Sleep again."
There was a silence that could almost be felt; and Maggie sat breathless
in it. When it became too trying, she rose softly and went to the next
room. There was a small table there, and on it a shaded lamp and a few
books. One of them was turned with its face downward and looked
unfamiliar; she lifted it, and saw on the fly-leaf, Cornelius Fleming,
A.D. 1800. It was a pocket edition of the Alcestis in English, and the
good man had drawn a pencil opposite some lines, which he doubtless
intended Maggie to read:--
"Manifold are the changes
Which Providence may bring.
Many unhoped for things
God's power hath brought about.
What seemeth, often happeneth not;
And for unlikely things
God findeth out a way."
She smiled and laid the little volume down. "The tide has turned," she
thought, "and many an ill wind has driven a ship into a good harbor. I
wonder what was the matter with me this morning!" And she sat quiet with a
new sense of peace in her heart, until the moon was low in the west, and
the far hills stood clear and garish in the cold white light of morning.
Then Mary called her again. There was a look of pitiful anxiety on her
face; she grasped Maggie's hand, and whispered "The 29th? Is it come?"
"Your tryst, Maggie?"
"I will keep it some other time."
"Now, Maggie. To-day. At once. Oh Maggie! Go, go, go! I shall be ill again
if you do not."
It was useless to reason with her. She began to cry, to grow feverish.
"I will go then."
"And you will come back?"
"In three or four days."
"Spare no money. He will be waiting. I know it. Haste, Maggie! Oh dear,
you don't know--oh, be quick, for my sake."
Then Maggie told Mrs. Leslie such facts as were necessary to account for
Mary's anxiety, and she also urged her to keep the appointment. "Better
late than ever," she said, "and you may not be too late; and anyhow the
salt air will do you good, and maybe set you beyond the fit o' sickness
you look o'er like to have."
So within an hour Maggie was speeding to the coast of Fife, faintly hoping
that Allan might still be there; "for he must ken by his own heart," she
thought, "that it would be life or death, and naething but life or death,
that could make me break a promise I had made to him."
THE MEETING PLACE.
"Love's a divinity that speaks
'Awake Sweetheart!' and straightway breaks
A lordlier light than sunshine's glow,
A sweeter life than mortals know.
I bow me to his fond command,
Take life's great glory from his hand;
Crowned in one moment's sweet surprise,
When Somebody and I--changed eyes."
Maggie had very little hope of meeting Allan, and yet he might have
lingered. Judging him by her own heart, she thought he would have done so,
unless circumstances of which she had no knowledge made waiting
impossible. It was this faint hope that made her wear the costume most
becoming to her--a gown and mantle of dark blue cashmere and velvet, and a
white straw bonnet with bands and strings of blue velvet and one drooping
plume of the same tint. Mary looked at her critically, and said, "You do
me great credit, Maggie, I expect some one to be very pleased with me.
Kiss me, dear, and be sure and bring good news back with you."
Late that night Maggie reached Kinkell. She rested at its small inn
until daylight, then, ere any one was astir, she took the familiar path
down the rocks. Perhaps she ought to have had a great many fine thoughts,
and grateful emotions, on that walk; but people cannot feel to order, and
Maggie's mind was wholly bent upon Allan and herself. She was also obliged
to give much of her attention to her feet. The shelving narrow path, with
its wide fissures and slight foothold, had become really dangerous to her.
There were points at which she almost feared, and she felt more vividly
than ever she had done before how far the old life had slipped behind her.
She had become unfit for it; she shrank from its dangers; and when she
came in sight of the cottages, and remembered the narrow orbit of life
within them, she shrank even from its comforts and pleasures.
From her own cottage the smoke was rising in plentiful volume through the
white wide chimney. She did not know of Janet Caird's removal, and
supposed she would have to parry all her old impertinences and
complaints. When she opened the door Mysie, who was stooping over the
fire toasting a cake, turned her head; then she lifted herself and dropped
"I am only Maggie Promoter, Mysie. Is Janet Caird sick?"
"Why, Maggie! I'd never hae kent you, lassie! Come to the fire, for it is
raw and cold--I'm glad I had the fire kindled, and the kettle boiling--you
can hae your breakfast as soon as you like it."
"I'll hae it the noo, Mysie." She fell at once into her old speech, and as
she removed her bonnet and mantle asked again, "Is Aunt Janet sick?"
"I dinna ken, nor I dinna care much, either. She's gane awa' frae
Pittenloch, and Pittenloch had a gude riddance o' her."
"Ay; when your brother Davie cam' here, mair than a year syne, he just bid
her pack her kist, and he and Troll Winans took her at daylight next morn
to whar' she cam' frae. Elder Mackelvine made a grand exhort in the next
meeting anent slandering folks; for Janet Caird was a gude text for it;
and Kirsty Buchan said, it was a' the gude Pittenloch e'er got oot o'
"David was here then?"
"Ay, he was here. Didna ye ken that?"
"Was there ony ither body here?"
"Ay, there was. A week syne here comes that bonnie young Allan Campbell
that was aye sae fond o' your brither Davie."
"Did he stay here wi' you?"
"Ay, for sure he did. For three days he stayed; and he just daundered
roun' the boats and the beach, and lookit sae forlorn, wanting Davie and
the bonnie boat that had gane to the bottom, that folks were sorry for
him. He gied Elder Mackelvine twenty pounds for the widows o' Pittenloch,
and he gied me mysel' a five pound note; and I could hae kissed the vera
footmarks he made, he was that kindly and sorrowfu'."
"Did he name my name, Mysie?"
"Ay, he did that. He sat in Davie's chair every night, and talked to me
anent you a' the time maistly; and he said, 'Mysie, she'll maybe come back
some day; and if ever she does, you'll tell her I was here, and that I
missed her sairly; and he left a bit of paper for you wi' me. I'll get it
for you, when we hae had our breakfast."
"Get it the noo, Mysie. I'm fain to see it; and I dinna want my breakfast
much--and shut the door, and run the bolt in, Mysie; I'm no caring to see
It was one of those letters which we have forgotten how to write--large
letter cap, folded within itself, and sealed with scarlet wax. It was,
"Dearest Maggie! Sweetest Maggie! Best beloved of women!" It was full of
tenderness, and trust, and sorrow, and undying affection. Maggie's tears
washed it like a shower of rain. Maggie's kisses sealed every promise, and
returned to the writer ten-fold every word of its passionate mournful
She did not now regret her journey. Oh, she would most gladly have walked
every mile of the way, to have found that letter at the end of it. "He'll
come back here," she thought; "love will bring him back, and I know by
myself how glad he will be to hae a word from me." In the drawer of the
table in Allan's room there was some paper and wax. Allan's letter had
been written with his pocket pencil, but she found among David's old
papers the remains of several pencils, and with some little difficulty she
made them sufficiently sharp to express what she wished to say.
She told him everything--where she had spent the time since they parted
--how good Miss Campbell had been to her--how impossible it would have
been to desert her in an hour of such need and peril--how much she had
suffered in her broken tryst, and how longingly and lovingly she would
wait for him at Drumloch, though she waited there until the end of her
life. "And every year," she added, "I'll be, if God let me, in Pittenloch
on the 29th of August, dear Allan;" for she thought it likely he might
come again at that time next year.
Into Mysie's hand this letter was given with many injunctions of secrecy
and care. And then Maggie sat down to eat, and to talk over the minor
details of David's and Allan's visits; and the changes which had occurred
in her native village since she left it. "I dinna want you to say I hae
been here, Mysie. I'll get awa' at the dinner hour, and nane will be the
wiser. I can do nae gude to any one, and I'll maybe set folks wondering
and talking to ill purpose."
"I can hold my whist, Maggie; if it's your will, I'll no speak your name.
And I hope I hae keepit a' things to your liking in the cottage. If sae,
you might gie me a screed o' writing to your brither, sae that when he
comes again, he'll be contented, and willing to let me bide on here."
"I'll do that gladly, Mysie. Hoo is a' wi' you anent wark and siller?"
"I get on, Maggie; and there's a few folk do mair than that; forbye,
Maister Campbell's five pounds will get me many a bit o' comfort this
"Hoo much weekly does Davie allow you for the caretaking?"
"He didna speak to me himsel'. He left Elder Mackelvine to find some
decent body wha wad be glad o' the comfortable shelter, and the elder gied
me the favor."
"Dinna you hae some bit o' siller beside frae Davie?"
"Na, na; I dinna expect it. The hame pays for the care o' it."
"But I'll hae to pay you for the care o' my letter, Mysie, for I can weel
afford it. I'll gie you two pounds for the next three months; and at the
beginning o' every quarter you'll find the two pounds at the minister's
for you. He'll gie it, or he'll send it to you by the elder."
"I dinna like to be paid for a kindness, Maggie. The young man was gude to
me, and I'd do the kind turn to him gladly."
"Weel, Mysie, David ought to hae minded the bit siller to you, and he wad
dootless hae done it, if he hadna been bothered oot o' his wits wi' Aunt
Janet. Sae, I'm only doing the duty for him. Davie isna mean, he is just
thochtless anent a' things outside o' his college, or his books."
At twelve o' clock, when every one was at their dinner, and the beach was
empty, Maggie easily got away without observation. She did not regret her
journey. She had Allan's letter and she had also a few withered flowers
which he had gathered on the top of the cliffs during his visit, and left
in his room. Poor, little brown bits of gorse and heather, but they had
been in his hands, and were a precious and tangible link between them.
The carriage which had brought her to Kinkell was waiting for her, and
the horses being refreshed and rested, she left immediately for Drumloch.
She had many a thought to keep her company; but in the main, they were
thoughts of hopeful love toward Allan, and of grateful affection toward
Mary. This visit to Pittenloch had enabled her to measure Mary's singular
beneficence and patience; and she was almost glad that she had been able
to prove her gratitude by a cheerful renunciation of hopes so dear and so
purely personal. She knew then, if she had never before known, the value
of what had been done for her, and she understood why David had so
resolutely put aside everything that would interfere with his mental
culture. In such a mood, it was even easy to excuse his harshness. "He
feared I would be a hindrance to him," she thought; "and maybe, when a man
is climbing out of ignorance into knowledge, he ought to be feared for
hindrances, even though he likes them well."
Mary Campbell, like most people of a nervous temperament, had a quick,
sensitive ear. She heard Maggie's arrival and her step upon the stair
long before Mrs. Leslie did. She was still confined to her bed, but she
turned her questioning eyes eagerly to the door by which Maggie would
enter. She came in so brightly, and with such a happy light on her face,
that Mary felt sure the journey had been a successful one.
"In time, Maggie, after all?" she whispered, as Maggie kissed her.
"No, he did not wait for me:--but it is all right."
"Oh Maggie! what a shame!"
"Don't say that, Miss Campbell. He kept his word. He left me a letter. He
is not to blame. No one is to blame. It will be all for the best. I am sure
"Never call me Miss Campbell again, Maggie. I am Mary, your friend, your
sister Mary. Do you think I can forget those dreadful days and nights when
you walked with me, as I went through the Valley of the Shadow? Though I
could not speak to you I knew you were there. Your hand, so cool, so
strong, and gentle was what I clung to. On that last awful point of land,
beyond which all was a black abyss, I clung to it. I heard your voice when
I had passed beyond all other earthly sounds. It was the one link left me
between that world and this. Maggie! Maggie! You cannot tell how sorry I
am about this broken tryst."
"You must not say that, dear. You must not talk any more. I have a letter
that makes it all right. We will speak of it again when you are stronger."
"Yes, Maggie--and I know--I know--it is sure and certain to come right
--very soon, Maggie."
Indeed Mary had arrived at a very clear decision. As soon as she was able,
she intended to write to Allan and bring him to Drumloch to meet Maggie.
She would make a meeting for the lovers that should amply repay the one
broken for her sake. She knew now, that as Allan had been in Pittenloch,
he had returned from America, and that he was still faithful to his love.
She felt certain that there would be a letter from him among her
Accumulated mail matter. Perhaps he had even called at Drumloch. The next
time she was alone with Mrs. Leslie she asked if her cousin had been to
Drumloch yet. "He was expected home about this time," she said, "and I
should not like him to be turned from the door, even if I am ill."
"I heard that he had gone to Riga, Miss Campbell. Your uncle has been no
just well, and it was thought to be the right thing for Mr. Allan to go
and be company hame for him There are letters nae doubt from baith o'
them, but you willna be let meddle wi' the like o' thae things, yet
The winter set in early, and cold, and Mary's recovery was retarded by it.
At the beginning of November she had not left her own rooms. But at that
time her seclusion was mostly a precautionary measure. She had regained
much of her old sprightliness, and was full of plans for the
entertainments she intended to give as soon as she was perfectly well.
"I am going to introduce you to Glasgow society at the New Year, Maggie,"
she said, "and I can imagine the sensation you will cause--the wonder--the
inquiries--the inventions--and the lovers you will be sure to have! I
think we shall enjoy it all, very much."
Maggie thought so, also. She was delighted with the fine new costumes
being made for Mary and herself. The discussions about them, their fitting
on, their folding away in the great trunks destined for Blytheswood
Square, helped to pass the dreary days of the chill damp autumn very
happily. One morning early in November Mary got a letter which gave her a
great pleasure. "Uncle John is coming tonight, Maggie!" she cried. "Oh how
glad I shall be to see him! We have both been to the door of death, and
come back to life. How much we shall have to say to each other! Now I want
you to dress yourself with the greatest care to-night, Maggie; you must be
ready when I have exhausted words on your beauty, to step into his
presence, and make words seem the poorest kind of things."
"What shall I wear?"
"Wear? Well, I think that dark brown satin is the most becoming of your
dinner gowns--and dress your hair behind very high and loosely, with the
carved shell comb--and those long brown curls, Maggie, push them behind
your pretty ears; your face does not need them, and behind the ears they
Maggie laughed. She liked handsome dress, and it pleased her to be called
handsome. She had indeed a good many womanly foibles, and was perhaps the
more loveable for them. Dr. Johnson thought that a man who did not care
for his dinner would not care for more important things; and it is certain
that a woman who does not care for her dress is very likely to be a
mental, perhaps also a moral, sloven.
Mary had hoped to signalize her delight in her uncle's visit by going down
stairs to dine with him; but the day was unusually damp and cold, and her
proposal met with such strong opposition that she resigned the idea.
She dressed herself early in a pretty chamber gown of pink silk trimmed
with minever; but in spite of the rosy color, the pallor of her sickness
and long confinement was very perceptible. The train that was to bring
John Campbell reached Ayr at four o'clock, and Maggie saw the carriage
hurrying off to meet it, as she went to her room to dress for dinner. In
less than an hour there was the stir of an arrival, and John Campbell's
slow, heavy tread upon the stairs, and Mary's cry of joy as she met him in
the upper corridor.
Maggie went on dressing with an increase of happiness; she felt Mary's
pleasure as if it were her own. With a natural and exquisite taste, she
raised high the loose soft coils of her nut-brovn hair; and let fall in
long and flowing grace the rich folds of nut-brown satin that robed her.
She wore no ornaments of any kind, except a cluster of white asters in her
belt, which Mary had given her from those brought for her own use.
She was just fastening them there when Mary entered. "You lovely woman!"
she cried enthusiastically. "I think you must look like Helen of Troy. I
have a mind to call you Helen. Have you reflected that you will have to be
Uncle John's host? So before I take you to him, go down stairs, dear, and
see if the table is pretty, and all just as I should like to have it for
him. And if there are no flowers on the table, Maggie, go to the
conservatory and cut the loveliest you can find--only if you stay too
long, I shall send Uncle John to find you."
She passed out nodding and smiling and looking unusually beautiful and
happy. Maggie found that the dinner table was splendidly laid, but it was,
as she expected, destitute of flowers, because it had always been either
Mary's or her own pleasure to cut them. The conservatory was an addition
to the large double drawing-rooms on the opposite side of the hall, and
she was rather astonished to see that the fires had been lighted in them.
At the entrance of the conservatory she stood a moment, wondering if she
could reach a superb white camellia, shining above her like a star among
its dark green leaves. As she hesitated, Allan opened the door, and walked
straight to the hearth. He did not see Maggie, and her first impulse was
to retreat into the shadow of some palms beside her. A slight movement
made him turn. She stood there smiling, blushing, waiting.
The cry was one of utter wonder and delight. "Oh, my love! My love!
My love!" He held her in his arms. She was his forever now. "Not death
itself shall part us again," he whispered, with that extravagance of
attachment which is permissible to lovers. For what lover ever spoke
reasonably? The lover that can do so is not a lover; he is fathoms below
that diviner atmosphere whose language is, of necessity, as well as
choice, foolishness to the uninitiated.
Allan had been sent by Mary for some book she affected to particularly
want. He forgot the book, as Maggie forgot the flowers, and in
half-an-hour, John Campbell was sent after his dilatory son. Old men do
not like surprises as well as lovers, and Mary had thought it best to
prepare him for the meeting that was close at hand. He had felt a little
fear of the shock he was sure he would have to bear as graciously as
possible. But pleasant shocks do not hurt, and John Campbell's spirits
rose as soon as his eyes fell upon the beautiful woman standing by his
son's side. He came forward with smiles, he welcomed Maggie, and called
her "daughter" with a genuine pride and tenderness.
Very soon he reminded the lovers that he was an old man who thought highly
of his dinner; he gave Maggie his arm and led her into the dining-room.
There were no flowers on the table, and the meats were a little out of
time and past savor, but Allan and Maggie were oblivious of such trifles,
and John Campbell was too polite, and perhaps also too sympathetic to
remind them that they were still in Ayrshire, and that Ayrshire was not
Eden. And though Mary had not been able to witness the happiness she had
planned, she felt it. It seemed to pervade the house like some quicker
atmosphere. She had even a better appetite, and the servants also seemed
conscious of a new joy, and indefinable promise of festivity--something
far more subtle than a bird in the air had carried the matter to every
After dinner, while John Campbell was talking to Maggie, Allan went to see
Mary. She was still on her sofa, a little tired, but very happy and very
pretty. He knelt down by her side, and kissed her, as he whispered, "Oh
Mary! My sister Mary! How good you have been to me! It is wonderful! I
cannot thank you, dear, as I want to. I am so happy, so happy, Mary; and
it is your doing."
"I know how glad and grateful you are, Allan. The work was its own reward.
I love Maggie. She has far more than repaid me. My dear Allan, you are
going to be a very happy man. Now you may go to Maggie, and tell Uncle
John that I expect him to sit with me to-night."
They smiled gladly at each other as they parted, and yet as soon as the
door was shut between them they sighed. In the very height of our
happiness why do we often sigh? Is it because the soul pities itself for
joys so fleeting that they are like the shadow of a bird "that wings the
skies and with whose flight the shadow flies." For even to-morrow there
would be some change, however slight. Allan knew that never again could
he taste just this night's felicity. And blessed are they who take God's
gift of joy every hour as it comes, and who do not postpone the happiness
of this life unto the next one.
Early in the morning Allan went to see David. He had removed from the
Candleriggs, and he found him in comparatively handsome rooms in Monteith
terrace. He rose to meet Allan with a troubled look, and said at once, "I
have no more information, Mr. Campbell. I am very sorry for the fact."
"David, I have found Maggie! I am come to take you to see her."
"Why has she not come to see me? I think that is her duty, and I'm no
inclined to excuse her from it. She has given me many a troubled hour, Mr.
Campbell, and she ought to say some word anent it."
"There are always whys and wherefores, David, that cannot be explained in
a minute or two. She has been living with my cousin, Miss Campbell of
Drumloch. I think that circumstance will warrant your faith in Maggie
without further explanations at present." Allan was so happy, he could not
be angry; not even when David still hesitated, and spoke of lectures to be
attended, and translations yet unfinished.
"Come, come," he said persuasively; "shut your books, David, and let's
away to the 'Banks and Braes o' bonnie Doon'. Miss Campbell and Maggie are
both anxious to see you. We cannot be quite happy without you, David."
Then smiling, yet half-reluctant, he went to his room to dress. When he
returned--hat and gloves in hand--Allan could not but look at him with a
little amazement. His suit of black broadcloth was cut in the strictest
ecclesiastical fashion, and admirably set off the dusky pallor and fine
stature of the young student. Every minor detail was in keeping. His linen
band and cuffs were fine and white, the fit of his shoes and gloves
perfect, the glossy excellence of his hat beyond a cavil.
"I am at your service now, Mr. Campbell, though let me tell you, I think I
am giving-in to Maggie more than I ought to, sir."
"David, we are going to be brothers, and I am proud and glad of it.
Suppose you drop the Mr. Campbell and the sir--I think it is quite time."
"There is a measure of respect in the word sir; and I wouldna care to drop
it altogether with my nearest and dearest; I like it for myself whiles.
But I am fain of the brotherhood, Allan; and I will give you with all my
heart a brother's love and honor."
Then David surrendered himself to the pleasure of the hour. He had never
been in that part of Scotland before, but he knew every historical and
literary landmark better than Allan did. And when he drove through the
fine part of Drumloch, and came in sight of the picturesque and handsome
pile of buildings, he said with a queer smile, "The Promotors don't flit
for a bare shelter, Maggie found a bonnie hiding place."
He was quite as much delighted and astonished at his sister's appearance
and improvement, but he did not express it. He kissed her kindly, but his
first words had the spirit of the reproof he thought she well deserved:
"Maggie Promoter, you did not behave well to me yonder day I sent you
home, as it was my duty to do. If the Lord hadna undertaken the guiding o'
you, you wad hae made a sair mistake, my lassie! But I'll say nae mair,
seeing that He has brought gude out o' evil and right out o' wrang."
"I am sorry, Davie, very sorry, but--"
"That is enough. And you are like to do weel to yourself; and we may baith
say, that He has aye carried the purse for us, ever since the day He took
our father and bread-winner from us. And though you have been whiles a
sair thought to me, yet now you are going to be an honor and a rejoicing
and I am a very proud and happy brother this day, Maggie."
John Campbell was still at Drumloch, and David and he "sorted" from the
first moment of their meeting. They had ecclesiastical opinions in
common, especially in regard to the "Freedom of the Kirk" from all lay
supremacy;--a question then simmering in every Scotch heart, and destined
a little later to find its solution in the moral majesty of the "Free Kirk
Movement." David's glowing speech stirred him, as speech always stirs the
heart, when it interprets persuasion and belief ripened into faith: and
faith become a passionate intuition. That he was the master spirit of the
company was shown by the fact that he kept the conversation in his own
groove, and at his own will. Mrs. Leslie made him her deepest courtesy,
and the old butler threw into all his services an amount of respect only
given by him to his spiritual masters and teachers.
And David took all with that unconscious adaptation of attention which
indicates those born to authority and to honor. When asked after dinner if
he would pay his respects to the mistress of Drumloch, he rose calmly and
with a real unconcern. He had sat with doctors of divinity, and faced
learned professors with a thesis or an exegesis that touched the roots of
the most solemn propositions; an interview with a lady a little younger
than himself was not likely to disturb his equanimity. For he was yet in
that callow stage of sentient being, which has not been inspired and
irradiated by "the light that lies in woman's eyes."
That night as they sat together Maggie's and Allan's marriage was
discussed. "They want to be married very quietly," said Mary laughing.
"Did you ever hear such nonsense, Uncle John? There has not been a
wedding feast in Drumloch for seventy years. We will grace the old rooms,
and handsel all the new ones with the blythest bridal Ayrshire has seen in
a century. Don't you agree with me, Mr. Promoter?"
Certainly Mr. Promoter did; and the kirk also, he said, had aye favored a
public binding of the sacred tie, not to go further back to the wedding
feast at Cana, honored by His presence and provided for by His hand.
"And Maggie shall walk in silk attire; and we will dress the rooms in
flags and flowers, and lay a great feast, and call friends and neighbors
from afar. For we have the bonniest bride to show them that ever 'stepped
stately east or west from Drumloch's bonnie braes'."
WOO'D AND MARRIED AND A'.
"My love is fair, I could not he'p but choose him
My love is good, I could not bear to lose him.
My love is wise, oh, what could I refuse him?"
"And Love, our light at night and shade at noon,
Lulls us to rest with songs, and turns away
All shafts of shelterless, tumultuous day
Like the moon's growth, his face gleams through his tune,
And as soft waters warble to the moon
Our answering spirits chime one roundelay"
A "blythesome bridal" is a traditional Scotch law, not to be lightly
broken by either rich or poor. Its non-observance usually implied some
sorrowful element, and Mary's national, as well as natural desire, as
therefore toward an elaborate festal ceremony. As soon as this intention
was put into words their very echo seemed to be a prelude to the coming
The old, still house acquired, no one could very well tell how, an air of
expectation and pleasant hurry. Guest chambers, that had not been used
for many years, were prepared for occupation.
The ceremony was to take place on New Year's Day; so that the lovers were
to date a fresh life from a fresh year--a year in which they had shed no
tears, nor feared, nor been in any strait or disappointment. They would
write upon its first page their marriage joy; and in order to do so would
not need to wipe out one sorrowful memory. In the meantime they dwelt in a
land of delights. Wonderful things happened to Maggie every day. John
Campbell never wearied of sending her presents. "She is my daughter," he
said, "and what for will I not send her the plenishing for her bridal?"
Allan gave her jewels. Mary ransacked her antique "_awmries_" and
cabinets for the laces of by-gone Campbell beauties; and spent her
sovereigns lavishly on modern fairy-like webs for the wedding garments.
It would have been unlovely and unwomanly in Maggie not to be happy; not
to be a little excited, not perhaps, sometimes, to have been a little
trying. For a great happiness is often depressing to those who have to
witness its exultation, prolonged day after day. Ordinary mortals feel
outside of it, and it strikes them with a vague, but certain, fear. Mary
often said to herself--"I would not be so silly about any one as Maggie is
about Allan. I hope if ever I do fall in love, a measure of common sense
will be granted me."
Still people usually show a singular patience and tolerance with lovers.
The old have "been in Arcadia," and have tender memories of it. The young
have a wistful anticipation, a sympathetic curiosity. At any rate, the
courtship was only to last six weeks, and Mary determined, however
provoking the engaged pair might be, that she would put all down to the
fact that lovers believe themselves to be a sublimated couple, quite out
of the community of ordinary mortals; and being so happy and
self-satisfied with themselves, they could not understand why every one
else was not in the same supreme condition.
And Mary Campbell was right; for if love is to have anything like the
place in real life, that it has in poetry--if we have any faith in that
mighty ruler of hearts and lives, a genuine love affair, we ought not to
dim the glory of marriage by denying it this sojourn in a veritable land
of enchantment; for in its atmosphere many fine feelings blossom, that
never would have birth at all, if the niceties and delicacies of courtship
were superseded by the levelling rapidity of marriage. There is time for
writing and reading love letters, and both tongue and pen get familiar
with affectionate and noble sentiments. We may admit that love-making is
an unreasonable and impracticable piece of business; but in this very
circumstance all its charm lies. Love delights in asserting the
incredible, and in believing the impossible. But it is precisely in the
depths of this delicious foolishness that the heart attains its noblest
growth. There may be many grander hopes, many calmer and more reasonable
joys in store for us, but,
"There's nothing half so sweet in life
As Love's young dream."
At length the wonderful day arrived. It had been well prepared for, and
all was in readiness. There was no hurry, no fret, no uncertainty. Early
in the morning men began to hang the old battle flags and armor of the
Campbells of Drumloch and to adorn the rooms with myrtle and fresh
flowers. It was not the fashion then to turn the house into a
conservatory, but the effect of the scattered groups of flowers, and
bridal wreaths, was far more festal in character.
At four o'clock the party were all assembled, and in response to some
understood signal, the clergy grouped themselves at one end of the large
parlors. Then Allan entered at the other. With him was a minister in silk
cassock and white lawn bands. It was Dr. Balmuto. Maggie followed, leaning
upon John Campbell's arm. An involuntary stir, a murmur of admiration,
greeted her. She was dressed in a robe of ivory-tinted silk, interwoven
with threads of pure silver. Exquisite lace veiled her throat and arms;
opals and diamonds glowed and glinted among it. Her fine hair was
beautifully arranged, and in her hand she carried the small Testament upon
which she would seal her vows.
Even David Promoter responded in some measure to the influence of the
hour. Not often did he permit himself to lose sight of the great object of
his existence; but this was an "occasion," when he felt that he might
lawfully put his sister, and his natural interest in her, before other
hopes and aims. And this day, he was really proud of Maggie. She had done
well unto herself; she had justified all his own intentions toward her;
she had allied him with one of the best families in the west of Scotland.
He kissed her with a tender approval, and reminded her, as it was indeed
his duty, how good God had been to her, and how, He had brought her also,
unto her "desired haven."
He gave her this short homily, as he stood before her in Mary's little
parlor, just ere the wedding service began. Maggie listened to him with a
touching gratitude and humility. In her eyes David was something more than
a brother. He had laid his hand upon the altar and was set apart for its
ministering. And he looked, every inch of him, the priest of his people.
For David had always considered the proper habit of his order a subject
worthy of his careful attention; and on this auspicious occasion he was
dressed with the utmost care. Even among the varied and splendid uniforms
of the military officers present, David Promoter's rich and sombre
vestment was very noticeable. No one could deny that he was a singularly
handsome and distinguished-looking man. It was upon his arm Mary Campbell
entered, and her delicate beauty, enhanced by a white robe of some
diaphanous material, made a telling contrast to the young minister's tall
form, and black raiment.
Maggie, on her father-in-law's arm, was but a few steps in advance of
them. They saw Allan turn and watch her coming to him, and the light on
his face transfigured it. This was the woman he had been born to meet; the
woman that was the completion of his own nature. Once more he caught at a
venture the beautiful eyes through which had come their first recognition;
and he saw that they met his full of glad confidence and happy expectation.
Dr. Balmuto's charge was a very solemn and a very loving one. The tears
were on his cheeks as Maggie stood before him. He spoke to her as gently
as if she were his own daughter. He bade her look forward to the joyful
duties of her lot. He laid her hand in Allan's hand with a blessing. Then
from every lip arose the triumphant strains of the one hundred and
twenty-eighth psalm--the happy, hopeful wedding psalm--and with the
gracious benediction, Allan and Maggie turned with smiling faces toward
The first months of their married life were to be spent in Continental
travel. Maggie was to see all the famous places, which, as yet, were only
names to her, and Allan was to see them again through her eyes. They went
away in the gay, splendid fashion of the time, in an open landau drawn by
four horses, with outriders. The guests crowded the hall and the open
door; the servants gathered below them; the tenants lined the road to the
small station which they had selected for their starting point. And thus
in a very triumph of joy they started upon their long life journey.
The festivities of the bridal were continued for many days, both in the
castle and among the servants; and during them the young couple were
abundantly discussed. One of these discussions, occurring between the
factor of the estate and Miss Campbell's maid, is worth repeating, as it
indicated a possible motive in the reticent little lady's life with which
her friends were not familiar.
"Wha are these Promoters?" asked the factor.
"They are a Fife family."
"Wasna that handsome young minister her brother?"
"He was that."
"He seems to hae set his heart on the heiress o' Drumloch."
"Captain Manners has the same notion."
"The minister will win."
"The minister will _not win. Not he!"_
The words were so emphatically snapped out that they were followed by a
"Jessie," the factor said, "you are vera positive; but if there is one
thing mair unreliable than anither, it is a woman's fancy. The minister is
a braw lad."
"I ken ane that's worth twenty o' him, ay, I'll say, fifty o' him."
"You're no surely meaning that young Glasca' lawyer that comes here,
"You're no surely meaning to pass an insult on Miss Mary, factor. I'm
thinking o' my Lord Forfar, and nae ither man to match him. He would kiss
my lady's little shoon, and think the honor too much for king or kaiser.
And for a' their plumes, and gold, and scarlet, the rattle o' their
swords, and the jingle o' their spurs, there wasna an officer at the
bridal I'd name in the same breath wi' Lord Lionel Forfar."
"But the minister"--
"_Houts_! What does a bonnie lady, young and rich and beautiful, want
wi' a minister body, unless it be to marry her to some ither lad?"
"You're for Forfar because he is Fife."
"You're right--partly. I'm Fife mysel'. A' my gude common sense comes frae
Fife. But for that matter, the minister comes from the auld 'kingdom' too."
They were talking in a little room adjoining the servants' dining hall.
The factor was smoking, Jessie stood on the stone hearth, tapping her foot
restlessly upon it.
"What's the man thinking o'?" she exclaimed after a little. "One would say
you were at a funeral instead o' a wedding."
"Thoughts canna always be sent here or there, Jessie. I was wondering what
would come o' Drumloch if my lady took the Fife road. It would gie me sair
een to see its bonnie braes in the market."
"Think shame o' yoursel' for the vera thought--
'The Campbells will sit in Drumloch's halls,
Till the crown be lost and the kingdom falls'
When the lady goes to her fate, there's a laird waiting, I trow, to take
her place; and weel will he fill it."
"You'll be meaning Mr. John Campbell?"
"Wha else? He was born in the house, and please God, he'll die in its
shelter. If my lady goes to Forfar Castle what will she want wi' Drumloch?
A good sum o' lying siller will be better for her, and she would rather
bide Miss Campbell a' the days o' her life, than take the hame o' the
Campbells to strange folk."
"I wish her weel always, but I'm no against the thought o' serving John
Campbell again. Women are whiles vera trying in the way o' business.
There's naething but arithmetic needed in business, but they will bring a'
sorts o' im-prac-ti-ca-ble elements into it likewise."
"I hope you mean naething wrang by that big word, factor."
"Nae wrang, nae wrang, Jessie. Miss Campbell is easy to do for, and she
has bonnie ladylike ways wi' her; but I'd like fine to see that grand,
grey-headed auld gentleman laird o' the place. He'd bring a deal o'
respect with him."
"He would that; and folks would hear o' Drumloch in London; for Miss
Campbell said to that Glasca' law body, that her uncle would gie up the
business to his son Allan, and go into parliament himsel'--goodness kens
they need some douce, sensible men there. Hear to the fiddles! I feel them
in the soles o' my feet! I never could sit still when '_Moneymusk_'
was tingling in my ear chambers. Come awa', factor, and let us hae a reel
"Wi' a' my heart, Jessie. And though I am on the wrang side o' fifty,
there's none has a better spring than I hae." He had laid down his pipe,
and taken her hand as he spoke, and tripping and swaying to the enchanting
strains they went into the dancing hall together.
"Nae wonder the fiddles made us come, it's the gypsy band, factor;" and
Jessie pointed out five or six dark, handsome fellows with tumbled black
hair, and half-shut gleaming eyes, who had ranged themselves with sullen
shyness and half-rebellious order at the upper end of the room. But how
wondrously their slim, supple fingers touched the bow, or the strings!
They played like magicians, and wrought the slow, grave natures before
them up to a very riot of ravishing motion. Faster and faster flew the
bounding, sliding feet; the dancers being stimulated by the musicians, and
the musicians driven to a passion of excitement by those exhilarating
cries, and those snappings of the fingers, through which the canny Scot
relieves the rapture of his delicious dancing.
But mere physical delight never satisfies even the humblest gathering of
this douce nationality. In a few hours the fiddles were stopped, and the
table set out, and the great bowl of wedding punch brought in, to brighten
wit, and song, and story. It was then very near the close of the day, and
with it came Mary Campbell to give the bridal toast. She had been dancing
with her own friends, and her cheeks were like a delicate flame, and her
eyes like twin stars. Never had she looked so beautiful, as when standing
amid the standing crowd, she raised the tiny glass above her head, and
said in the sudden stillness--
_"Here's to the bonnie Bride!
Long may she live! and happy may she be!"_
Then hand clasped hand, and glass touched glass, and heart touched heart,
and from every lip rang out, again and again, the loving, joyful
"Here's to the bonnie Bride!
Long may she live! and happy may she be!"