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Donal Grant by George MacDonald

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God required of her, beyond holding the doctrine the holding of
which guaranteed, as she thought, her future welfare. Conscience
toward God had very little to do with her opinions, and her heart
still less. Her head on the contrary, perhaps rather her memory,
was considerably occupied with the matter; nothing she held had ever
been by her regarded on its own merits--that is, on its individual
claim to truth; if it had been handed down by her church, that was
enough; to support it she would search out text after text, and
press it into the service. Any meaning but that which the church of
her fathers gave to a passage must be of the devil, and every man
opposed to the truth who saw in that meaning anything but truth! It
was indeed impossible Miss Carmichael should see any meaning but
that, even if she had looked for it; she was nowise qualified for
discovering truth, not being herself true. What she saw and loved
in the doctrines of her church was not the truth, but the assertion;
and whoever questioned, not to say the doctrine, but even the
proving of it by any particular passage, was a dangerous person, and
unsound. All the time her acceptance and defence of any doctrine
made not the slightest difference to her life--as indeed how should

Such was the only friend lady Arctura had. But the conscience and
heart of the younger woman were alive to a degree that boded ill
either for the doctrine that stinted their growth, or the nature
unable to cast it off. Miss Carmichael was a woman about
six-and-twenty--and had been a woman, like too many Scotch girls,
long before she was out of her teens--a human flower cut and
dried--an unpleasant specimen, and by no means valuable from its
scarcity. Self-sufficient, assured, with scarce shyness enough for
modesty, handsome and hard, she was essentially a self-glorious
Philistine; nor would she be anything better till something was sent
to humble her, though what spiritual engine might be equal to the
task was not for man to imagine. She was clever, but her cleverness
made nobody happier; she had great confidence, but her confidence
gave courage to no one, and took it from many; she had little fancy,
and less imagination than any other I ever knew. The divine wonder
was, that she had not yet driven the delicate, truth-loving Arctura
mad. From her childhood she had had the ordering of all her
opinions: whatever Sophy Carmichael said, lady Arctura never thought
of questioning. A lie is indeed a thing in its nature unbelievable,
but there is a false belief always ready to receive the false truth,
and there is no end to the mischief the two can work. The awful
punishment of untruth in the inward parts is that the man is given
over to believe a lie.

Lady Arctura was in herself a gentle creature who shrank from either
giving or receiving a rough touch; but she had an inherited pride,
by herself unrecognized as such, which made her capable of hurting
as well as being hurt. Next to the doctrines of the Scottish
church, she respected her own family: it had in truth no other claim
to respect than that its little good and much evil had been done
before the eyes of a large part of many generations--whence she was
born to think herself distinguished, and to imagine a claim for the
acknowledgment of distinction upon all except those of greatly
higher rank than her own. This inborn arrogance was in some degree
modified by respect for the writers of certain books--not one of
whom was of any regard in the eyes of the thinkers of the age. Of
any writers of power, beyond those of the Bible, either in this
country or another, she knew nothing. Yet she had a real instinct
for what was good in literature; and of the writers to whom I have
referred she not only liked the worthiest best, but liked best their
best things. I need hardly say they were all religious writers; for
the keen conscience and obedient heart of the girl had made her very
early turn herself towards the quarter where the sun ought to rise,
the quarter where all night long gleams the auroral hope; but
unhappily she had not gone direct to the heavenly well in earthly
ground--the words of the Master himself. How could she? From very
childhood her mind had been filled with traditionary utterances
concerning the divine character and the divine plans--the merest
inventions of men far more desirous of understanding what they were
not required to understand, than of doing what they were required to
do--whence their crude and false utterances concerning a God of
their own fancy--in whom it was a good man's duty, in the name of
any possible God, to disbelieve; and just because she was true,
authority had immense power over her. The very sweetness of their
nature forbids such to doubt the fitness of others.

She had besides had a governess of the orthodox type, a large
proportion of whose teaching was of the worst heresy, for it was
lies against him who is light, and in whom is no darkness at all;
her doctrines were so many smoked glasses held up between the mind
of her pupil and the glory of the living God; nor had she once
directed her gaze to the very likeness of God, the face of Jesus
Christ. Had Arctura set herself to understand him the knowledge of
whom is eternal life, she would have believed none of these false
reports of him, but she had not yet met with any one to help her to
cast aside the doctrines of men, and go face to face with the Son of
Man, the visible God. First lie of all, she had been taught that she
must believe so and so before God would let her come near him or
listen to her. The old cobbler could have taught her differently;
but she would have thought it improper to hold conversation with
such a man, even if she had known him for the best man in Auchars.
She was in sore and sad earnest to believe as she was told she must
believe; therefore instead of beginning to do what Jesus Christ
said, she tried hard to imagine herself one of the chosen, tried
hard to believe herself the chief of sinners. There was no one to
tell her that it is only the man who sees something of the glory of
God, the height and depth and breadth and length of his love and
unselfishness, not a child dabbling in stupid doctrines, that can
feel like St. Paul. She tried to feel that she deserved to be burned
in hell for ever and ever, and that it was boundlessly good of
God--who made her so that she could not help being a sinner--to give
her the least chance of escaping it. She tried to feel that, though
she could not be saved without something which the God of perfect
love could give her if he pleased, but might not please to give her,
yet if she was not saved it would be all her own fault: and so ever
the round of a great miserable treadmill of contradictions! For a
moment she would be able to say this or that she thought she ought
to say; the next the feeling would be gone, and she as miserable as
before. Her friend made no attempt to imbue her with her own calm
indifference, nor could she have succeeded had she attempted it.
But though she had never been troubled herself, and that because
she had never been in earnest, she did not find it the less easy to
take upon her the rôle of a spiritual adviser, and gave no end of
counsel for the attainment of assurance. She told her truly enough
that all her trouble came of want of faith; but she showed her no
one fit to believe in.



All this time, Donal had never again seen the earl, neither had the
latter shown any interest in Davie's progress. But lady Arctura was
full of serious anxiety concerning him. Heavily prejudiced against
the tutor, she dreaded his influence on the mind of her little

There was a small recess in the schoolroom--it had been a bay
window, but from an architectural necessity arising from decay, it
had, all except a narrow eastern light, been built up--and in this
recess Donal was one day sitting with a book, while Davie was busy
writing at the table in the middle of the room: it was past
school-hours, but the weather did not invite them out of doors, and
Donal had given Davie a poem to copy. Lady Arctura came into the
room--she had never entered it before since Donal came--and thinking
he was alone, began to talk to the boy. She spoke in so gentle a
tone that Donal, busy with his book, did not for some time
distinguish a word she said. He never suspected she was unaware of
his presence. By degrees her voice grew a little louder, and by and
by these words reached him:

"You know, Davie dear, every sin, whatever it is, deserves God's
wrath and curse, both in this life and that which is to come; and if
it had not been that Jesus Christ gave himself to turn away his
anger and satisfy his justice by bearing the punishment for us, God
would send us all to the place of misery for ever and ever. It is
for his sake, not for ours, that he pardons us."

She had not yet ceased when Donal rose in the wrath of love, and
came out into the room.

"Lady Arctura," he said, "I dare not sit still and hear such false
things uttered against the blessed God!"

Lady Arctura started in dire dismay, but in virtue of her breed and
her pride recovered herself immediately, drew herself up, and said--

"Mr. Grant, you forget yourself!"

"I'm very willing to do that, my lady," answered Donal, "but I must
not forget the honour of my God. If you were a heathen woman I might
think whether the hour was come for enlightening you further, but to
hear one who has had the Bible in her hands from her childhood say
such things about the God who made her and sent his Son to save her,
without answering a word for him, would be cowardly!"

"What do you know about such things? What gives you a right to
speak?" said lady Arctura.

Her pride-strength was already beginning to desert her.

"I had a Christian mother," answered Donal, "--have her yet, thank
God!--who taught me to love nothing but the truth; I have studied
the Bible from my childhood, often whole days together, when I was
out with the cattle or the sheep; and I have tried to do what the
Lords tells me, from nearly the earliest time I can remember.
Therefore I am able to set to my seal that God is true--that he is
light, and there is no darkness of unfairness or selfishness in him.
I love God with my whole heart and soul, my lady."

Arctura tried to say she too loved him so, but her conscience
interfered, and she could not.

"I don't say you don't love him," Donal went on; "but how you can
love him and believe such things of him, I don't understand.
Whoever taught them first was a terrible liar against God, who is
lovelier than all the imaginations of all his creatures can think."

Lady Arctura swept from the room--though she was trembling from head
to foot. At the door she turned and called Davie. The boy looked
up in his tutor's face, mutely asking if he should obey her.

"Go," said Donal.

In less than a minute he came back, his eyes full of tears.

"Arkie says she is going to tell papa. Is it true, Mr. Grant, that
you are a dangerous man? I do not believe it--though you do carry
such a big knife."

Donal laughed.

"It is my grandfather's skean dhu," he said: "I mend my pens with
it, you know! But it is strange, Davie, that, when a body knows
something other people don't, they should be angry with him! They
will even think he wants to make them bad when he wants to help them
to be good!"

"But Arkie is good, Mr. Grant!"

"I am sure she is. But she does not know so much about God as I do,
or she would never say such things of him: we must talk about him
more after this!"

"No, no, please, Mr. Grant! We won't say a word about him, for
Arkie says except you promise never to speak of God, she will tell
papa, and he will send you away."

"Davie," said Donal with solemnity, "I would not give such a promise
for the castle and all it contains--no, not to save your life and
the life of everybody in it! For Jesus says, 'Whosoever denieth me
before men, him will I deny before my father in heaven;' and rather
than that, I would jump from the top of the castle. Why, Davie!
would a man deny his own father or mother?"

"I don't know," answered Davie; "I don't remember my mother."

"I'll tell you what," said Donal, with sudden inspiration: "I will
promise not to speak about God at any other time, if she will
promise to sit by when I do speak of him--say once a week.--Perhaps
we shall do what he tells us all the better that we don't talk so
much about him!"

"Oh, thank you, Mr. Grant!--I will tell her," cried Davie, jumping
up relieved. "Oh, thank you, Mr. Grant!" he repeated; "I could not
bear you to go away. I should never stop crying if you did. And
you won't say any wicked things, will you? for Arkie reads her Bible
every day."

"So do I, Davie."

"Do you?" returned Davie, "I'll tell her that too, and then she will
see she must have been mistaken."

He hurried to his cousin with Donal's suggestion.

It threw her into no small perplexity--first from doubt as to the
propriety of the thing proposed, next because of the awkwardness of
it, then from a sudden fear lest his specious tongue should lead
herself into the bypaths of doubt, and to the castle of Giant
Despair--at which, indeed, it was a gracious wonder she had not
arrived ere now. What if she should be persuaded of things which it
was impossible to believe and be saved! She did not see that such
belief as she desired to have was in itself essential damnation.
For what can there be in heaven or earth for a soul that believes
in an unjust God? To rejoice in such a belief would be to be a
devil, and to believe what cannot be rejoiced in, is misery. No
doubt a man may not see the true nature of the things he thinks she
believes, but that cannot save him from the loss of not knowing God,
whom to know is alone eternal life; for who can know him that
believes evil things of him? That many a good man does believe such
things, only argues his heart not yet one towards him. To make his
belief possible he must dwell on the good things he has learned
about God, and not think about the bad things.

And what would Sophia say? Lady Arctura would have sped to her
friend for counsel before giving any answer to the audacious
proposal, but she was just then from home for a fortnight, and she
must resolve without her! She reflected also that she had not yet
anything sufficiently definite to say to her uncle about the young
man's false doctrine; and, for herself, concluded that, as she was
well grounded for argument, knowing thoroughly the Shorter Catechism
with the proofs from scripture of every doctrine it contained, it
was foolish to fear anything from one who went in the strength of
his own ignorant and presumptuous will, regardless of the opinions
of the fathers of the church, and accepting only such things as were
pleasing to his unregenerate nature.

But she hesitated; and after waiting for a week without receiving
any answer to his proposal, Donal said to Davie,

"We shall have a lesson in the New Testament to-morrow: you had
better mention it to your cousin."

The next morning he asked him if he had mentioned it. The boy said
he had.

"What did she say, Davie?"

"Nothing--only looked strange," answered Davie.

When the hour of noon was past, and lady Arctura did not appear,
Donal said,

"Davie, we'll have our New Testament lesson out of doors: that is
the best place for it!"

"It is the best place!" responded Davie, jumping up. "But you're not
taking your book, Mr. Grant!"

"Never mind; I will give you a lesson or two without book first."

Just as they were leaving the room, appeared lady Arctura with Miss

"I understood," said the former, with not a little haughtiness,
"that you--"

She hesitated, and Miss Carmichael took up the word.

"We wish to form our own judgment," she said, "on the nature of the
religious instruction you give your pupil."

"I invited lady Arctura to be present when I taught him about God,"
said Donal.

"Then are you not now going to do so?" said Arctura.

"As your ladyship made no answer to my proposal, and school hours
were over, I concluded you were not coming."

"And you would not give the lesson without her ladyship!" said Miss
Carmichael. "Very right!"

"Excuse me," returned Donal; "we were going to have it out of

"But you had agreed not to give him any so-called religious
instruction but in the presence of lady Arctura!"

"By no means. I only offered to give it in her presence if she
chose. There was no question of the lessons being given."

Miss Carmichael looked at lady Arctura as much as to say--"Is he
speaking the truth?" and if she replied, it was in the same fashion.

Donal looked at Miss Carmichael. He did not at all relish her
interference. He had never said he would give his lesson before any
who chose to be present! But he did not see how to meet the
intrusion. Neither could he turn back into the schoolroom, sit
down, and begin. He put his hand on Davie's shoulder, and walked
slowly towards the lawn. The ladies followed in silence. He sought
to forget their presence, and be conscious only of his pupil's and
his master's. On the lawn he stopped suddenly.

"Davie," he said, "where do you fancy the first lesson in the New
Testament ought to begin?"

"At the beginning," replied Davie.

"When a thing is perfect, Davie, it is difficult to say what is the
beginning of it: show me one of your marbles."

The boy produced from his pocket a pure white one--a real marble.

"That is a good one for the purpose," remarked Donal, "--very smooth
and white, with just one red streak in it! Now where is the
beginning of this marble?"

"Nowhere," answered Davie.

"If I should say everywhere?" suggested Donal.

"Ah, yes!" said the boy.

"But I agree with you that it begins nowhere."

"It can't do both!"

"Oh, yes, it can! it begins nowhere for itself, but everywhere for
us. Only all its beginnings are endings, and all its endings are
beginnings. Look here: suppose we begin at this red streak, it is
just there we should end again. That is because it is a perfect
thing.--Well, there was one who said, 'I am Alpha and Omega,'--the
first Greek letter and the last, you know--'the beginning and the
end, the first and the last.' All the New Testament is about him.
He is perfect, and I may begin about him where I best can. Listen
then as if you had never heard anything about him before.--Many
years ago--about fifty or sixty grandfathers off--there appeared in
the world a few men who said that a certain man had been their
companion for some time and had just left them; that he was killed
by cruel men, and buried by his friends; but that, as he had told
them he would, he lay in the grave only three days, and left it on
the third alive and well; and that, after forty days, during which
they saw him several times, he went up into the sky, and
disappeared.--It wasn't a very likely story, was it?"

"No," replied Davie.

The ladies exchanged looks of horror. Neither spoke, but each
leaned eagerly forward, in fascinated expectation of worse to

"But, Davie," Donal went on, "however unlikely it must have seemed
to those who heard it, I believe every word of it."

A ripple of contempt passed over Miss Carmichael's face.

"For," continued Donal, "the man said he was the son of God, come
down from his father to see his brothers, his father's children, and
take home with him to his father those who would go."

"Excuse me," interrupted Miss Carmichael, with a pungent smile:
"what he said was, that if any man believed in him, he should be

"Run along, Davie," said Donal. "I will tell you more of what he
said next lesson. Don't forget what I've told you now."

"No, sir," answered Davie, and ran off.

Donal lifted his hat, and would have gone towards the river. But
Miss Carmichael, stepping forward, said,

"Mr. Grant, I cannot let you go till you answer me one question: do
you believe in the atonement?"

"I do," answered Donal.

"Favour me then with your views upon it," she said.

"Are you troubled in your mind on the subject?" asked Donal.

"Not in the least," she replied, with a slight curl of her lip.

"Then I see no occasion for giving you my views."

"But I insist."

Donald smiled.

"Of what consequence can my opinions be to you, ma'am? Why should
you compel a confession of my faith?"

"As the friend of this family, and the daughter of the clergyman of
this parish, I have a right to ask what your opinions are: you have
a most important charge committed to you--a child for whose soul you
have to account!"

"For that I am accountable, but, pardon me, not to you."

"You are accountable to lord Morven for what you teach his child."

"I am not."

"What! He will turn you away at a moment's notice if you say so to

"I should be quite ready to go. If I were accountable to him for
what I taught, I should of course teach only what he pleased. But
do you suppose I would take any situation on such a condition?"

"It is nothing to me, or his lordship either, I presume, what you
would or would not do."

"Then I see no reason why you should detain me.--Lady Arctura, I did
not offer to give my lesson in the presence of any other than
yourself: I will not do so again. You will be welcome, for you have
a right to know what I am teaching him. If you bring another,
except it be my lord Morven, I will take David to my own room."

With these words he left them.

Lady Arctura was sorely bewildered. She could not but feel that her
friend had not shown to the better advantage, and that the behaviour
of Donal had been dignified. But surely he was very wrong! what he
said to Davie sounded so very different from what was said at
church, and by her helper, Miss Carmichael! It was a pity they had
heard so little! He would have gone on if only Sophy had had
patience and held her peace! Perhaps he might have spoken better
things if she had not interfered! It would hardly be fair to
condemn him upon so little! He had said that he believed every word
of the New Testament--or something very like it!

"I have heard enough!" said Miss Carmichael: "I will speak to my
father at once."

The next day Donal received a note to the following effect:--

"Sir, in consequence of what I felt bound to report to my father of
the conversation we had yesterday, he desires that you will call
upon him at your earliest convenience He is generally at home from
three to five. Yours truly, Sophia Agnes Carmichael."

To this Donal immediately replied:--

"Madam, notwithstanding the introduction I brought him from another
clergyman, your father declined my acquaintance, passing me
afterwards as one unknown to him. From this fact, and from the
nature of the report which your behaviour to me yesterday justifies
me in supposing you must have carried to him, I can hardly mistake
his object in wishing to see me. I will attend the call of no man
to defend my opinions; your father's I have heard almost every
Sunday since I came to the castle, and have been from childhood
familiar with them. Yours truly, Donal Grant."

Not a word more came to him from either of them. When they happened
to meet, Miss Carmichael took no more notice of him than her father.

But she impressed it upon the mind of her friend that, if unable to
procure his dismission, she ought at least to do what she could to
protect her cousin from the awful consequences of such false
teaching: if she was present, he would not say such things as he
would in her absence, for it was plain he was under restraint with
her! She might even have some influence with him if she would but
take courage to show him where he was wrong! Or she might find
things such that her uncle must see the necessity of turning him
away; as the place belonged to her, he would never go dead against
her! She did not see that that was just the thing to fetter the
action of a delicate-minded girl.

Continually haunted, however, with the feeling that she ought to do
something, lady Arctura felt as if she dared not absent herself from
the lesson, however disagreeable it might prove: that much she could
do! Upon the next occasion, therefore, she appeared in the
schoolroom at the hour appointed, and with a cold bow took the chair
Donal placed for her.

"Now, Davie," said Donal, "what have you done since our last

Davie stared.

"You didn't tell me to do anything, Mr. Grant!"

"No; but what then did I give you the lesson for? Where is the good
of such a lesson if it makes no difference to you! What was it I
told you?"

Davie, who had never thought about it since, the lesson having been
broken off before Donal could bring it to its natural fruit,
considered, and said,

"That Jesus Christ rose from the dead."

"Well--where is the good of knowing that?"

Davie was silent; he knew no good of knowing it, neither could
imagine any. The Catechism, of which he had learned about half,
suggested nothing.

"Come, Davie, I will help you: is Jesus dead, or is he alive?"

Davie considered.

"Alive," he answered.

"What does he do?"

Davie did not know.

"What did he die for?"

Here Davie had an answer--a cut and dried one:

"To take away our sins," he said.

"Then what does he live for?"

Davie was once more silent.

"Do you think if a man died for a thing, he would be likely to
forget it the minute he rose again?"

"No, sir."

"Do you not think he would just go on doing the same thing as

"I do, sir."

"Then, as he died to take away our sins, he lives to take them

"Yes, sir."

"What are sins, Davie?"

"Bad things, sir."

"Yes; the bad things we think, and the bad things we feel, and the
bad things we do. Have you any sins, Davie?"

"Yes; I am very wicked."

"Oh! are you? How do you know it?"

"Arkie told me."

"What is being wicked?"

"Doing bad things."

"What bad things do you do?"

"I don't know, sir."

"Then you don't know that you are wicked; you only know that Arkie
told you so!"

Lady Arctura drew herself up; but Donal was too intent to perceive
the offence he had given.

"I will tell you," Donal went on, "something you did wicked to-day."
Davie grew rosy red. "When we find out one wicked thing we do, it
is a beginning to finding out all the wicked things we do. Some
people would rather not find them out, but have them hidden from
themselves and from God too. But let us find them out, everyone of
them, that we may ask Jesus to take them away, and help Jesus to
take them away, by fighting them with all our strength.--This
morning you pulled the little pup's ears till he screamed." Davie
hung his head. "You stopped a while, and then did it again! So I
knew it wasn't that you didn't know. Is that a thing Jesus would
have done when he was a little boy?"

"No, sir."


"Because it would have been wrong."

"I suspect, rather, it is because he would have loved the little
pup. He didn't have to think about its being wrong. He loves every
kind of living thing. He wants to take away your sin because he
loves you. He doesn't merely want to make you not cruel to the
little pup, but to take away the wrong think that doesn't love him.
He wants to make you love every living creature. Davie, Jesus came
out of the grave to make us good."

Tears were flowing down Davie's checks.

"The lesson 's done, Davie," said Donal, and rose and went, leaving
him with lady Arctura.

But ere he reached the door, he turned with sudden impulse, and

"Davie, I love Jesus Christ and his Father more than I can tell
you--more than I can put in words--more than I can think; and if you
love me you will mind what Jesus tells you."

"What a good man you must be, Mr. Grant!--Mustn't he, Arkie?" sobbed

Donal laughed.

"What, Davie!" he exclaimed. "You think me very good for loving the
only good person in the whole world! That is very odd! Why, Davie,
I should be the most contemptible creature, knowing him as I do, not
to love him with all my heart--yes, with all the big heart I shall
have one day when he has done making me."

"Is he making you still, Mr. Grant? I thought you were grown up!"

"Well, I don't think he will make me any taller," answered Donal.
"But the live part of me--the thing I love you with, the thing I
think about God with, the thing I love poetry with, the thing I read
the Bible with--that thing God keeps on making bigger and bigger. I
do not know where it will stop, I only know where it will not stop.
That thing is me, and God will keep on making it bigger to all
eternity, though he has not even got it into the right shape yet."

"Why is he so long about it?"

"I don't think he is long about it; but he could do it quicker if I
were as good as by this time I ought to be, with the father and
mother I have, and all my long hours on the hillsides with my New
Testament and the sheep. I prayed to God on the hill and in the
fields, and he heard me, Davie, and made me see the foolishness of
many things, and the grandeur and beauty of other things. Davie,
God wants to give you the whole world, and everything in it. When
you have begun to do the things Jesus tells you, then you will be my
brother, and we shall both be his little brothers, and the sons of
his Father God, and so the heirs of all things."

With that he turned again and went.

The tears were rolling down Arctura's face without her being aware
of it.

"He is a well-meaning man," she said to herself, "but dreadfully
mistaken: the Bible says believe, not do!"

The poor girl, though she read her bible regularly, was so blinded
by the dust and ashes of her teaching, that she knew very little of
what was actually in it. The most significant things slipped from
her as if they were merest words without shadow of meaning or
intent: they did not support the doctrines she had been taught, and
therefore said nothing to her. The story of Christ and the appeals
of those who had handled the Word of Life had another end in view
than making people understand how God arranged matters to save them.
God would have us live: if we live we cannot but know; all the
knowledge in the universe could not make us live. Obedience is the
road to all things--the only way in which to grow able to trust him.
Love and faith and obedience are sides of the same prism.

Regularly after that, lady Arctura came to the lesson--always
intending to object as soon as it was over. But always before the
end came, Donal had said something that went so to the heart of the
honest girl that she could say nothing. As if she too had been a
pupil, as indeed she was, far more than either knew, she would rise
when Davie rose, and go away with him. But it was to go alone into
the garden, or to her room, not seldom finding herself wishing
things true which yet she counted terribly dangerous: listening to
them might not she as well as Davie fail miserably of escape from
the wrath to come?



The old avenue of beeches, leading immediately nowhither any more,
but closed at one end by a built-up gate, and at the other by a high
wall, between which two points it stretched quite a mile, was a
favourite resort of Donal's, partly for its beauty, partly for its
solitude. The arms of the great trees crossing made of it a long
aisle--its roof a broken vault of leaves, upheld by irregular
pointed arches--which affected one's imagination like an ever
shifting dream of architectural suggestion. Having ceased to be a
way, it was now all but entirely deserted, and there was eeriness in
the vanishing vista that showed nothing beyond. When the wind of
the twilight sighed in gusts through its moanful crowd of fluttered
leaves; or when the wind of the winter was tormenting the ancient
haggard boughs, and the trees looked as if they were weary of the
world, and longing after the garden of God; yet more when the snow
lay heavy upon their branches, sorely trying their aged strength to
support its oppression, and giving the onlooker a vague sense of
what the world would be if God were gone from it--then the old
avenue was a place from which one with more imagination than courage
would be ready to haste away, and seek instead the abodes of men.
But Donal, though he dearly loved his neighbour, and that in the
fullest concrete sense, was capable of loving the loneliest spots,
for in such he was never alone.

It was altogether a neglected place. Long grass grew over its floor
from end to end--cut now and then for hay, or to feed such animals
as had grass in their stalls. Along one border, outside the trees,
went a footpath--so little used that, though not quite conquered by
the turf, the long grass often met over the top of it. Finding it
so lonely, Donal grew more and more fond of it. It was his outdoor
study, his proseuche {Compilers note: pi, rho, omicron, sigma,
epsilon upsilon, chi, eta with stress--[outdoor] place of prayer}--a
little aisle of the great temple! Seldom indeed was his reading or
meditation there interrupted by sight of human being.

About a month after he had taken up his abode at the castle, he was
lying one day in the grass with a book-companion, under the shade of
one of the largest of its beeches, when he felt through the ground
ere he heard through the air the feet of an approaching horse. As
they came near, he raised his head to see. His unexpected
appearance startled the horse, his rider nearly lost his seat, and
did lose his temper. Recovering the former, and holding the excited
animal, which would have been off at full speed, he urged him
towards Donal, whom he took for a tramp. He was
rising--deliberately, that he might not do more mischief, and was
yet hardly on his feet, when the horse, yielding to the spur, came
straight at him, its rider with his whip lifted. Donal took off his
bonnet, stepped a little aside, and stood. His bearing and
countenance calmed the horseman's rage; there was something in them
to which no gentleman could fail of response.

The rider was plainly one who had more to do with affairs bucolic
than with those of cities or courts, but withal a man of conscious
dignity, socially afloat, and able to hold his own.

"What the devil--," he cried--for nothing is so irritating to a
horseman as to come near losing his seat, except perhaps to lose it
altogether, and indignation against the cause of an untoward
accident is generally a mortal's first consciousness thereupon:
however foolishly, he feels himself injured. But there, having
better taken in Donal's look, he checked himself.

"I beg your pardon, sir," said Donal. "It was foolish of me to show
myself so suddenly; I might have thought it would startle most
horses. I was too absorbed to have my wits about me."

The gentleman lifted his hat.

"I beg your pardon in return," he said with a smile which cleared
every cloud from his face. "I took you for some one who had no
business here; but I imagine you are the tutor at the castle, with
as good a right as I have myself."

"You guess well, sir."

"Pardon me that I forget your name."

"My name is Donal Grant," returned Donal, with an accent on the my
intending a wish to know in return that of the speaker.

"I am a Graeme," answered the other, "one of the clan, and factor to
the earl. Come and see where I live. My sister will be glad to
make your acquaintance. We lead rather a lonely life here, and
don't see too many agreeable people."

"You call this lonely, do you!" said Donal thoughtfully. "--It is a
grand place, anyhow!"

"You are right--as you see it now. But wait till winter! Then
perhaps you will change your impression a little."

"Pardon me if I doubt whether you know what winter can be so well as
I do. This east coast is by all accounts a bitter place, but I
fancy it is only upon a great hill-side you can know the heart and
soul of a snow-blast."

"I yield that," returned Mr. Graeme. "--It is bitter enough here
though, and a mercy we can keep warm in-doors."

"Which is often more than we shepherd-folk can do," said Donal.

Mr. Graeme used to say afterwards he was never so immediately taken
with a man. It was one of the charms of Donal's habit of being,
that he never spoke as if he belonged to any other than the class in
which he had been born and brought up. This came partly of pride in
his father and mother, partly of inborn dignity, and partly of
religion. To him the story of our Lord was the reality it is, and
he rejoiced to know himself so nearly on the same social level of
birth as the Master of his life and aspiration. It was Donal's one
ambition--to give the high passion a low name--to be free with the
freedom which was his natural inheritance, and which is to be gained
only by obedience to the words of the Master. From the face of this
aspiration fled every kind of pretence as from the light flies the
darkness. Hence he was entirely and thoroughly a gentleman. What
if his clothes were not even of the next to the newest cut! What if
he had not been used to what is called society! He was far above
such things. If he might but attain to the manners of the "high
countries," manners which appear because they exist--because they
are all through the man! He did not think what he might seem in the
eyes of men. Courteous, helpful, considerate, always seeking first
how far he could honestly agree with any speaker, opposing never
save sweetly and apologetically--except indeed some utterance
flagrantly unjust were in his ears--there was no man of true
breeding, in or out of society, who would not have granted that
Donal was fit company for any man or woman. Mr. Graeme's eye
glanced down over the tall square-shouldered form, a little stooping
from lack of drill and much meditation, but instantly straightening
itself upon any inward stir, and he said to himself, "This is no
common man!"

They were moving slowly along the avenue, Donal by the rider's near
knee, talking away like men not unlikely soon to know each other

"You don't make much use of this avenue!" said Donal.

"No; its use is an old story. The castle was for a time deserted,
and the family, then passing through a phase of comparative poverty,
lived in the house we are in now--to my mind much the more

"What a fine old place it must be, if such trees are a fit approach
to it!"

"They were never planted for that; they are older far. Either there
was a wood here, and the rest were cut down and these left, or there
was once a house much older than the present. The look of the
garden, and some of the offices, favour the latter idea."

"I have never seen the house," said Donal.

"You have not then been much about yet?" said Mr. Graeme.

"I have been so occupied with my pupil, and so delighted with all
that lay immediately around me, that I have gone nowhere--except,
indeed, to see Andrew Comin, the cobbler."

"Ah, you know him! I have heard of him as a remarkable man. There
was a clergyman here from Glasgow--I forget his name--so struck with
him he seemed actually to take him for a prophet. He said he was a
survival of the old mystics. For my part I have no turn for

"But," said Donal, in the tone of one merely suggesting a
possibility, "a thing that from the outside may seem an
extravagance, may look quite different when you get inside it."

"The more reason for keeping out of it! If acquaintance must make
you in love with it, the more air between you and it the better!"

"Would not such precaution as that keep you from gaining a true
knowledge of many things? Nothing almost can be known from what
people say."

"True; but there are things so plainly nonsense!"

"Yes; but there are things that seem to be nonsense, because the man
thinks he knows what they are when he does not. Who would know the
shape of a chair who took his idea of it from its shadow on the
floor? What idea can a man have of religion who knows nothing of it
except from what he hears at church?"

Mr. Graeme was not fond of going to church yet went: he was the less
displeased with the remark. But he made no reply, and the subject



The avenue seemed to Donal about to stop dead against a high wall,
but ere they quite reached the end, they turned at right angles,
skirted the wall for some distance, then turned again with it. It
was a somewhat dreary wall--of gray stone, with mortar as gray--not
like the rich-coloured walls of old red brick one meets in England.
But its roof-like coping was crowned with tufts of wall-plants, and
a few lichens did something to relieve the grayness. It guided them
to a farm-yard. Mr. Graeme left his horse at the stable, and led
the way to the house.

They entered it by a back door whose porch was covered with ivy, and
going through several low passages, came to the other side of the
house. There Mr. Graeme showed Donal into a large, low-ceiled,
old-fashioned drawing-room, smelling of ancient rose-leaves, their
odour of sad hearts rather than of withered flowers--and leaving him
went to find his sister.

Glancing about him Donal saw a window open to the ground, and went
to it. Beyond lay a more fairy-like garden than he had ever dreamed
of. But he had read of, though never looked on such, and seemed to
know it from times of old. It was laid out in straight lines, with
soft walks of old turf, and in it grew all kinds of straight
aspiring things: their ambition seemed--to get up, not to spread
abroad. He stepped out of the window, drawn as by the enchantment
of one of childhood's dreams, and went wandering down a broad walk,
his foot sinking deep in the velvety grass, and the loveliness of
the dream did not fade. Hollyhocks, gloriously impatient, whose
flowers could not wait to reach the top ere they burst into the
flame of life, making splendid blots of colour along their ascending
stalks, received him like stately dames of faerie, and enticed him,
gently eager for more, down the long walks between rows of
them--deep red and creamy white, primrose and yellow: sure they were
leading him to some wonderful spot, some nest of lovely dreams and
more lovely visions! The walk did lead to a bower of roses--a bed
surrounded with a trellis, on which they climbed and made a huge
bonfire--altar of incense rather, glowing with red and white flame.
It seemed more glorious than his brain could receive. Seeing was
hardly believing, but believing was more than seeing: though nothing
is too good to be true, many things are too good to be grasped.

"Poor misbelieving birds of God," he said to himself, "we hover
about a whole wood of the trees of life, venturing only here and
there a peck, as if their fruit might be poison, and the design of
our creation was our ruin! we shake our wise, owl-feathered heads,
and declare they cannot be the trees of life: that were too good to
be true! Ten times more consistent are they who deny there is a God
at all, than they who believe in a middling kind of God--except
indeed that they place in him a fitting faith!"

The thoughts rose gently in his full heart, as the flowers, one
after the other, stole in at his eyes, looking up from the dark
earth like the spirits of its hidden jewels, which themselves could
not reach the sun, exhaled in longing. Over grass which fondled his
feet like the lap of an old nurse, he walked slowly round the bed of
the roses, turning again towards the house. But there, half-way
between him and it, was the lady of the garden descending to meet
him!--not ancient like the garden, but young like its flowers,
light-footed, and full of life.

Prepared by her brother to be friendly, she met him with a pleasant
smile, and he saw that the light which shone in her dark eyes had in
it rays of laughter. She had a dark, yet clear complexion, a good
forehead, a nose after no recognized generation of noses, yet an
attractive one, a mouth larger than to human judgment might have
seemed necessary, yet a right pleasing mouth, with two rows of
lovely teeth. All this Donal saw approach without dismay. He was
no more shy with women than with men; while none the less his
feeling towards them partook largely of the reverence of the ideal
knight errant. He would not indeed have been shy in the presence of
an angel of God; for his only courage came of truth, and clothed in
the dignity of his reverence, he could look in the face of the
lovely without perturbation. He would not have sought to hide from
him whose voice was in the garden, but would have made haste to cast
himself at his feet.

Bonnet in hand he advanced to meet Kate Graeme. She held out to him
a well-shaped, good-sized hand, not ignorant of work--capable indeed
of milking a cow to the cow's satisfaction. Then he saw that her
chin was strong, and her dark hair not too tidy; that she was rather
tall, and slenderly conceived though plumply carried out. Her light
approach pleased him. He liked the way her foot pressed the grass.
If Donal loved anything in the green world, it was neither roses
nor hollyhocks, nor even sweet peas, but the grass that is trodden
under foot, that springs in all waste places, and has so often to be
glad of the dews of heaven to heal the hot cut of the scythe. He
had long abjured the notion of anything in the vegetable kingdom
being without some sense of life, without pleasure and pain also, in
mild form and degree.



He took her hand, and felt it an honest one--a safe, comfortable

"My brother told me he had brought you," she said. "I am glad to see

"You are very kind," said Donal. How did either of you know of my
existence? A few minutes back, I was not aware of yours."

Was it a rude utterance? He was silent a moment with the silence
that promises speech, then added--

"Has it ever struck you how many born friends there are in the world
who never meet--persons to love each other at first sight, but who
never in this world have that sight?"

"No," returned Miss Graeme, with a merrier laugh than quite
responded to the remark, "I certainly never had such a thought. I
take the people that come, and never think of those who do not. But
of course it must be so."

"To be in the world is to have a great many brothers and sisters you
do not know!" said Donal.

"My mother told me," she rejoined, "of a man who had had so many
wives and children that his son, whom she had met, positively did
not know all his brothers and sisters."

"I suspect," said Donal, "we have to know our brothers and sisters."

"I do not understand."

"We have even got to feel a man is our brother the moment we see
him," pursued Donal, enhancing his former remark.

"That sounds alarming!" said Miss Graeme, with another laugh. "My
little heart feels not large enough to receive so many."

"The worst of it is," continued Donal, who once started was not
ready to draw rein, "that those who chiefly advocate this extension
of the family bonds, begin by loving their own immediate relations
less than anybody else. Extension with them means slackening--as if
any one could learn to love more by loving less, or go on to do
better without doing well! He who loves his own little will not
love others much."

"But how can we love those who are nothing to us?" objected Miss

"That would be impossible. The family relations are for the sake of
developing a love rooted in a far deeper though less recognized
relation.--But I beg your pardon, Miss Graeme. Little Davie alone
is my pupil, and I forget myself."

"I am very glad to listen to you," returned Miss Graeme. "I cannot
say I am prepared to agree with you. But it is something, in this
out-of-the-way corner, to hear talk from which it is even worth
while to differ."

"Ah, you can have that here if you will!"


"I mean talk from which you would probably differ. There is an old
man in the town who can talk better than ever I heard man before.
But he is a poor man, with a despised handicraft, and none heed
him. No community recognizes its great men till they are gone."

"Where is the use then of being great?" said Miss Graeme.

"To be great," answered Donal, "--to which the desire to be known of
men is altogether destructive. To be great is to seem little in the
eyes of men."

Miss Graeme did not answer. She was not accustomed to consider
things seriously. A good girl in a certain true sense, she had
never yet seen that she had to be better, or indeed to be anything.
But she was able to feel, though she was far from understanding
him, that Donal was in earnest, and that was much. To recognize
that a man means something, is a great step towards understanding

"What a lovely garden this is!" remarked Donal after the sequent
pause. "I have never seen anything like it."

"It is very old-fashioned," she returned. "Do you not find it very
stiff and formal?"

"Stately and precise, I should rather say."

"I do not mean I can help liking it--in a way."

"Who could help liking it that took his feeling from the garden
itself, not from what people said about it!"

"You cannot say it is like nature!"

"Yes; it is very like human nature. Man ought to learn of nature,
but not to imitate nature. His work is, through the forms that
Nature gives him, to express the idea or feeling that is in him.
That is far more likely to produce things in harmony with nature,
than the attempt to imitate nature upon the small human scale."

"You are too much of a philosopher for me!" said Miss Graeme. "I
daresay you are quite right, but I have never read anything about
art, and cannot follow you."

"You have probably read as much as I have. I am only talking out of
what necessity, the necessity for understanding things, has made me
think. One must get things brought together in one's thoughts, if
only to be able to go on thinking."

This too was beyond Miss Graeme. The silence again fell, and Donal
let it lie, waiting for her to break it this time.



But again he was the first.

They had turned and gone a good way down the long garden, and had
again turned towards the house.

"This place makes me feel as I never felt before," he said. "There
is such a wonderful sense of vanished life about it. The whole
garden seems dreaming about things of long ago--when troops of
ladies, now banished into pictures, wandered about the place, each
full of her own thoughts and fancies of life, each looking at
everything with ways of thinking as old-fashioned as her garments.
I could not be here after nightfall without feeling as if every
walk were answering to unseen feet, as if every tree might be hiding
some lovely form, returned to dream over old memories."

"Where is the good of fancying what is not true? I can't care for
what I know to be nonsense!"

She was glad to find a spot where she could put down the foot of
contradiction, for she came of a family known for what the
neighbours called common sense, and in the habit of casting contempt
upon everything characterized as superstition: she had now something
to say for herself!

"How do you know it is nonsense?" asked Donald, looking round in her
face with a bright smile.

"Not nonsense to keep imagining what nobody can see?"

"I can only imagine what I do not see."

"Nobody ever saw such creatures as you suppose in any garden! Then
why fancy the dead so uncomfortable, or so ill looked after, that
they come back to plague us!"

"Plainly they have never plagued you much!" rejoined Donal laughing.
"But how often have you gone up and down these walks at dead of

"Never once," answered Miss Graeme, not without a spark of
indignation. "I never was so absurd!"

"Then there may be a whole night-world that you know nothing about.
You cannot tell that the place is not then thronged with ghosts:
you have never given them a chance of appearing to you. I don't say
it is so, for I know nothing, or at least little, about such things.
I have had no experience of the sort any more than you--and I have
been out whole nights on the mountains when I was a shepherd."

"Why then should you trouble your fancy about them?"

"Perhaps just for that reason."

"I do not understand you."

"I mean, because I can come into no communication with such a world
as may be about me, I therefore imagine it. If, as often as I
walked abroad at night, I met and held converse with the
disembodied, I should use my imagination little, but make many notes
of facts. When what may be makes no show, what more natural than to
imagine about it? What is the imagination here for?"

"I do not know. The less one has to do with it the better."

"Then the thing, whatever it be, should not be called a faculty, but
a weakness!"


"But the history of the world shows it could never have made
progress without suggestions upon which to ground experiments:
whence may these suggestions come if not from the weakness or
impediment called the imagination?"

Again there was silence. Miss Graeme began to doubt whether it was
possible to hold rational converse with a man who, the moment they
began upon anything, went straight aloft into some high-flying
region of which she knew and for which she cared nothing. But
Donal's unconscious desire was in reality to meet her upon some
common plane of thought. He always wanted to meet his fellow, and
hence that abundance of speech, which, however poetic the things he
said, not a few called prosiness.

"I should think," resumed Miss Graeme, "if you want to work your
imagination, you will find more scope for it at the castle than
here! This is a poor modern place compared to that."

"It is a poor imagination," returned Donal, "that requires age or
any mere accessory to rouse it. The very absence of everything
external, the bareness of the mere humanity involved, may in itself
be an excitement greater than any accompaniment of the antique or
the picturesque. But in this old-fashioned garden, in the midst of
these old-fashioned flowers, with all the gentlenesses of
old-fashioned life suggested by them, it is easier to imagine the
people themselves than where all is so cold, hard, severe--so much
on the defensive, as in that huge, sullen pile on the hilltop."

"I am afraid you find it dull up there!" said Miss Graeme.

"Not at all," replied Donal; "I have there a most interesting pupil.
But indeed one who has been used to spend day after day alone,
clouds and heather and sheep and dogs his companions, does not
depend much for pastime. Give me a chair and a table, fire enough
to keep me from shivering, the few books I like best and writing
materials, and I am absolutely content. But beyond these things I
have at the castle a fine library--useless no doubt for most
purposes of modern study, but full of precious old books. There I
can at any moment be in the best of company! There is more of the
marvellous in an old library than ever any magic could work!"

"I do not quite understand you," said the lady.

But she would have spoken nearer the truth if she had said she had
not a glimmer of what he meant.

"Let me explain!" said Donal: "what could necromancy, which is one
of the branches of magic, do for one at the best?"

"Well!" exclaimed Miss Graeme; "--but I suppose if you believe in
ghosts, you may as well believe in raising them!"

"I did not mean to start any question about belief; I only wanted to
suppose necromancy for the moment a fact, and put it at its best:
suppose the magician could do for you all he professed, what would
it amount to?--Only this--to bring before your eyes a shadowy
resemblance of the form of flesh and blood, itself but a passing
shadow, in which the man moved on the earth, and was known to his
fellow-men? At best the necromancer might succeed in drawing from
him some obscure utterance concerning your future, far more likely
to destroy your courage than enable you to face what was before you;
so that you would depart from your peep into the unknown, merely
less able to encounter the duties of life."

"Whoever has a desire for such information must be made very
different from me!" said Miss Graeme.

"Are you sure of that? Did you never make yourself unhappy about
what might be on its way to you, and wish you could know beforehand
something to guide you how to meet it?"

"I should have to think before answering that question."

"Now tell me--what can the art of writing, and its expansion, or
perhaps its development rather, in printing, do in the same
direction as necromancy? May not a man well long after personal
communication with this or that one of the greatest who have lived
before him? I grant that in respect of some it can do nothing; but
in respect of others, instead of mocking you with an airy semblance
of their bodily forms, and the murmur of a few doubtful words from
their lips, it places in your hands a key to their inmost thoughts.
Some would say this is not personal communication; but it is far
more personal than the other. A man's personality does not consist
in the clothes he wears; it only appears in them; no more does it
consist in his body, but in him who wears it."

As he spoke, Miss Graeme kept looking him gravely in the face,
manifesting, however, more respect than interest. She had been
accustomed to a very different tone in young men. She had found
their main ambition to amuse; to talk sense about other matters than
the immediate uses of this world, was an out-of-the-way thing! I do
not say Miss Graeme, even on the subject last in hand, appreciated
the matter of Donal's talk. She perceived he was in earnest, and
happily was able to know a deep pond from a shallow one, but her
best thought concerning him was--what a strange new specimen of
humanity was here!

The appearance of her brother coming down the walk, put a stop to
the conversation.



"Well," he said as he drew near, "I am glad to see you two getting
on so well!"

"How do you know we are?" asked his sister, with something of the
antagonistic tone which both in jest and earnest is too common
between near relations.

"Because you have been talking incessantly ever since you met."

"We have been only contradicting each other."

"I could tell that too by the sound of your voices; but I took it
for a good sign."

"I fear you heard mine almost only!" said Donal. "I talk too much,
and I fear I have gathered the fault in a way that makes it
difficult to cure."

"How was it?" asked Mr. Graeme.

"By having nobody to talk to. I learned it on the hill-side with
the sheep, and in the meadows with the cattle. At college I thought
I was nearly cured of it; but now, in my comparative solitude at the
castle, it seems to have returned."

"Come here," said Mr. Graeme, "when you find it getting too much for
you: my sister is quite equal to the task of re-curing you."

"She has not begun to use her power yet!" remarked Donal, as Miss
Graeme, in hoydenish yet not ungraceful fashion, made an attempt to
box the ear of her slanderous brother--a proceeding he had
anticipated, and so was able to frustrate.

"When she knows you better," he said, "you will find my sister Kate
more than your match."

"If I were a talker," she answered, "Mr. Grant would be too much for
me: he quite bewilders me! What do you think! he has been actually
trying to persuade me--"

"I beg your pardon, Miss Graeme; I have been trying to persuade you
of nothing."

"What! not to believe in ghosts and necromancy and witchcraft and
the evil eye and ghouls and vampyres, and I don't know what all out
of nursery stories and old annuals?"

"I give you my word, Mr. Graeme," returned Donal, laughing, "I have
not been persuading your sister of any of these things! I am
certain she could be persuaded of nothing of which she did not first
see the common sense. What I did dwell upon, without a doubt she
would accept it, was the evident fact that writing and printing have
done more to bring us into personal relations with the great dead,
than necromancy, granting the magician the power he claimed, could
ever do. For do we not come into contact with the being of a man
when we hear him pour forth his thoughts of the things he likes best
to think about, into the ear of the universe? In such a position
does the book of a great man place us!--That was what I meant to
convey to your sister."

"And," said Mr. Graeme, "she was not such a goose as to fail of
understanding you, however she may have chosen to put on the garb of

"I am sure," persisted Kate, "Mr. Grant talked so as to make me
think he believed in necromancy and all that sort of thing!"

"That may be," said Donal; "but I did not try to persuade you to

"Oh, if you hold me to the letter!" cried Miss Graeme, colouring a
little.--"It would be impossible to get on with such a man," she
thought, "for he not only preached when you had no pulpit to protect
you from him, but stuck so to his text that there was no amusement
to be got out of the business!"

She did not know that if she could have met him, breaking the
ocean-tide of his thoughts with fitting opposition, his answers
would have come short and sharp as the flashes of waves on rocks.

"If Mr. Grant believes in such things," said Mr. Graeme, "he must
find himself at home in the castle, every room of which way well be
the haunt of some weary ghost!"

"I do not believe," said Donal, "that any work of man's hands,
however awful with crime done in it, can have nearly such an
influence for belief in the marvellous, as the still presence of
live Nature. I never saw an old castle before--at least not to make
any close acquaintance with it, but there is not an aspect of the
grim old survival up there, interesting as every corner of it is,
that moves me like the mere thought of a hill-side with the veil of
the twilight coming down over it, making of it the last step of a
stair for the descending foot of the Lord."

"Surely, Mr. Grant, you do not expect such a personal advent!" said
Miss Graeme.

"I should not like to say what I do or don't expect," answered
Donal--and held his peace, for he saw he was but casting

The silence grew awkward; and Mr. Graeme's good breeding called on
him to say something; he supposed Donal felt himself snubbed by his

"If you are fond of the marvellous, though, Mr. Grant," he said,
"there are some old stories about the castle would interest you.
One of them was brought to my mind the other day in the town. It
is strange how superstition seems to have its ebbs and flows! A
story or legend will go to sleep, and after a time revive with fresh
interest, no one knows why."

"Probably," said Donal, "it is when the tale comes to ears fitted
for its reception. They are now in many counties trying to get
together and store the remnants of such tales: possibly the wind of
some such inquiry may have set old people recollecting, and young
people inventing. That would account for a good deal--would it

"Yes, but not for all, I think. There has been no such inquiry made
anywhere near us, so far as I am aware. I went to the Morven Arms
last night to meet a tenant, and found the tradesmen were talking,
over their toddy, of various events at the castle, and especially of
one, the most frightful of all. It should have been forgotten by
this time, for the ratio of forgetting, increases."

"I should like much to hear it!" said Donal.

"Do tell him, Hector," said Miss Graeme, "and I will watch his

"It is the hair of those who mock at such things you should watch,"
returned Donal. "Their imagination is so rarely excited that, when
it is, it affects their nerves more than the belief of others
affects theirs."

"Now I have you!" cried Miss Graeme. "There you confess yourself a

"I fear you have come to too general a conclusion. Because I
believe the Bible, do I believe everything that comes from the
pulpit? Some tales I should reject with a contempt that would
satisfy even Miss Graeme; of others I should say--'These seem as if
they might be true;' and of still others, 'These ought to be true, I
think.'--But do tell me the story."

"It is not," replied Mr. Graeme, "a very peculiar one--certainly not
peculiar to our castle, though unique in some of its details; a
similar legend belongs to several houses in Scotland, and is to be
found, I fancy, in other countries as well. There is one not far
from here, around whose dark basements--or hoary battlements--who
shall say which?--floats a similar tale. It is of a hidden room,
whose position or entrance nobody knows. Whether it belongs to our
castle by right I cannot tell."

"A species of report," said Donal, "very likely to arise by a kind
of cryptogamic generation! The common people, accustomed to the
narrowest dwellings, gazing on the huge proportions of the place,
and upon occasion admitted, and walking through a succession of
rooms and passages, to them as intricate and confused as a
rabbit-warren, must be very ready, I should think, to imagine the
existence within such a pile, of places unknown even to the
inhabitants of it themselves!--But I beg your pardon: do tell us the

"Mr. Grant," said Kate, "you perplex me! I begin to doubt if you
have any principles. One moment you take one side and the next the

"No, no; I but love my own side too well to let any traitors into
its ranks: I would have nothing to do with lies."

"They are all lies together!"

"Then I want to hear this one," said Donal.

"I daresay you have heard it before!" remarked Mr. Graeme, and

"It was in the earldom of a certain recklessly wicked wretch, who
not only robbed his poor neighbours, and even killed them when they
opposed him, but went so far as to behave as wickedly on the Sabbath
as on any other day of the week. Late one Saturday night, a company
were seated in the castle, playing cards, and drinking; and all the
time Sunday was drawing nearer and nearer, and nobody heeding. At
length one of them, seeing the hands of the clock at a quarter to
twelve, made the remark that it was time to stop. He did not
mention the sacred day, but all knew what he meant. The earl
laughed, and said, if he was afraid of the kirk-session, he might
go, and another would take his hand. But the man sat still, and
said no more till the clock gave the warning. Then he spoke again,
and said the day was almost out, and they ought not to go on playing
into the Sabbath. And as he uttered the word, his mouth was pulled
all on one side. But the earl struck his fist on the table, and
swore a great oath that if any man rose he would run him through.
'What care I for the Sabbath!' he said. 'I gave you your chance to
go,' he added, turning to the man who had spoken, who was dressed in
black like a minister, 'and you would not take it: now you shall sit
where you are.' He glared fiercely at him, and the man returned him
an equally fiery stare. And now first they began to discover what,
through the fumes of the whisky and the smoke of the pine-torches,
they had not observed, namely, that none of them knew the man, or
had ever seen him before. They looked at him, and could not turn
their eyes from him, and a cold terror began to creep through their
vitals. He kept his fierce scornful look fixed on the earl for a
moment, and then spoke. 'And I gave you your chance,' he said, 'and
you would not take it: now you shall sit still where you are, and no
Sabbath shall you ever see.' The clock began to strike, and the
man's mouth came straight again. But when the hammer had struck
eleven times, it struck no more, and the clock stopped. 'This day
twelvemonth,' said the man, 'you shall see me again; and so every
year till your time is up. I hope you will enjoy your game!' The
earl would have sprung to his feet, but could not stir, and the man
was nowhere to be seen. He was gone, taking with him both door and
windows of the room--not as Samson carried off the gates of Gaza,
however, for he left not the least sign of where they had been.
>From that day to this no one has been able to find the room. There
the wicked earl and his companions still sit, playing with the same
pack of cards, and waiting their doom. It has been said that, on
that same day of the year--only, unfortunately, testimony differs as
to the day--shouts of drunken laughter may be heard issuing from
somewhere in the castle; but as to the direction whence they come,
none can ever agree. That is the story."

"A very good one!" said Donal. "I wonder what the ground of it is!
It must have had its beginning!"

"Then you don't believe it?" said Miss Graeme.

"Not quite," he replied. "But I have myself had a strange experience
up there."

"What! you have seen something?" cried Miss Graeme, her eyes growing

"No; I have seen nothing," answered Donal, "--only heard
something.--One night, the first I was there indeed, I heard the
sound of a far-off musical instrument, faint and sweet."

The brother and sister exchanged looks. Donal went on.

"I got up and felt my way down the winding stair--I sleep at the top
of Baliol's tower--but at the bottom lost myself, and had to sit
down and wait for the light. Then I heard it again, but seemed no
nearer to it than before. I have never heard it since, and have
never mentioned the thing. I presume, however, that speaking of it
to you can do no harm. You at least will not raise any fresh
rumours to injure the respectability of the castle! Do you think
there is any instrument in it from which such a sound might have
proceeded? Lady Arctura is a musician, I am told, but surely was
not likely to be at her piano 'in the dead waste and middle of the

"It is impossible to say how far a sound may travel in the stillness
of the night, when there are no other sound-waves to cross and break

"That is all very well, Hector," said his sister; "but you know Mr.
Grant is neither the first nor the second that has heard that

"One thing is pretty clear," said her brother, "it can have nothing
to do with the revellers at their cards! The sound reported is very
different from any attributed to them!"

"Are you sure," suggested Donal, "that there was not a violin shut
up with them? Even if none of them could play, there has been time
enough to learn. The sound I heard might have been that of a
ghostly violin. Though like that of a stringed instrument, it was
different from anything I had ever heard before--except perhaps
certain equally inexplicable sounds occasionally heard among the

They went on talking about the thing for a while, pacing up and down
the garden, the sun hot above their heads, the grass cool under
their feet.

"It is enough," said Miss Graeme, with a rather forced laugh, "to
make one glad the castle does not go with the title."

"Why so?" asked Donal.

"Because," she answered, "were anything to happen to the boys up
there, Hector would come in for the title."

"I'm not of my sister's mind!" said Mr. Graeme, laughing more
genuinely. "A title with nothing to keep it up is a simple
misfortune. I certainly should not take out the patent. No wise
man would lay claim to a title without the means to make it

"Have we come to that!" exclaimed Donal. "Must even the old titles
of the country be buttressed into respectability with money? Away
in quiet places, reading old history books, we peasants are
accustomed to think differently. If some millionaire money-lender
were to buy the old keep of Arundel castle, you would respect him
just as much as the present earl!"

"I would not," said Mr. Graeme. "I confess you have the better of
me.--But is there not a fallacy in your argument?" he added,

"I believe not. If the title is worth nothing without the money,
the money must be more than the title!--If I were Lazarus," Donal
went on, "and the inheritor of a title, I would use it, if only for
a lesson to Dives up stairs. I scorn to think that honour should
wait on the heels of wealth. You may think it is because I am and
always shall be a poor man; but if I know myself it is not
therefore. At the same time a title is but a trifle; and if you had
given any other reason for not using it than homage to Mammon, I
should have said nothing."

"For my part," said Miss Graeme, "I have no quarrel with riches
except that they do not come my way. I should know how to use and
not abuse them!"

Donal made no other reply than to turn a look of divinely stupid
surprise and pity upon the young woman. It was of no use to say
anything! Were argument absolutely triumphant, Mammon would sit
just where he was before! He had marked the great indifference of
the Lord to the convincing of the understanding: when men knew the
thing itself, then and not before would they understand its
relations and reasons!

If truth belongs to the human soul, then the soul is able to see it
and know it: if it do the truth, it takes therein the first
possible, and almost the last necessary step towards understanding

Miss Graeme caught his look, and must have perceived its expression,
for her face flushed a more than rosy red, and the conversation grew

It was a half-holiday, and he stayed to tea, and after it went over
the arm-buildings with Mr. Graeme, revealing such a practical
knowledge of all that was going on, that his entertainer soon saw
his opinion must be worth something whether his fancies were or not.



The great comforts of Donal's life, next to those of the world in
which his soul lived--the eternal world, whose doors are ever open
to him who prays--were the society of his favourite books, the
fashioning of his thoughts into sweetly ordered sounds in the lofty
solitude of his chamber, and not infrequent communion with the
cobbler and his wife. To these he had as yet said nothing of what
went on at the castle: he had learned the lesson the cobbler himself
gave him. But many a lesson of greater value did he learn from the
philosopher of the lapstone. He who understands because he
endeavours, is a freed man of the realm of human effort. He who has
no experience of his own, to him the experience of others is a
sealed book. The convictions that in Donal rose vaporous were
rapidly condensed and shaped when he found his new friend thought

By degrees he made more and more of a companion of Davie, and such
was the sweet relation between them that he would sometimes have him
in his room even when he was writing. When it was time to lay in
his winter-fuel, he said to him--

"Up here, Davie, we must have a good fire when the nights are long;
the darkness will be like solid cold. Simmons tells me I may have
as much coal and wood as I like: will you help me to get them up?"

Davie sprang to his feet: he was ready that very minute.

"I shall never learn my lessons if I am cold," added Donal, who
could not bear a low temperature so well as when he was always in
the open air.

"Do you learn lessons, Mr. Grant?"

"Yes indeed I do," replied Donal. "One great help to the
understanding of things is to brood over them as a hen broods over
her eggs: words are thought-eggs, and their chickens are truths; and
in order to brood I sometimes learn by heart. I have set myself to
learn, before the winter is over if I can, the gospel of John in the

"What a big lesson!" exclaimed Davie.

"Ah, but how rich it will make me!" said Donal, and that set Davie

They began to carry up the fuel, Donal taking the coals, and Davie
the wood. But Donal got weary of the time it took, and set himself
to find a quicker way. So next Saturday afternoon, the rudimentary
remnant of the Jewish Sabbath, and the schoolboy's weekly carnival
before Lent, he directed his walk to a certain fishing village, the
nearest on the coast, about three miles off, and there succeeded in
hiring a spare boat-spar with a block and tackle. The spar he ran
out, through a notch of the battlement, near the sheds, and having
stayed it well back, rove the rope through the block at the peak of
it, and lowered it with a hook at the end. A moment of Davie's help
below, and a bucket filled with coals was on its way up: this part
of the roof was over a yard belonging to the household offices, and
Davie filled the bucket from a heap they had there made. "Stand
back, Davie," Donal would cry, and up would go the bucket, to the
ever renewed delight of the boy. When it reached the block, Donal,
by means of a guy, swung the spar on its but-end, and the bucket
came to the roof through the next notch of the battlement. There he
would empty it, and in a moment it would be down again to be
re-filled. When he thought he had enough of coal, he turned to the
wood; and thus they spent an hour of a good many of the cool
evenings of autumn. Davie enjoyed it immensely; and it was no small
thing for a boy delicately nurtured to be helped out of the feeling
that he must have every thing done for him. When after a time he
saw the heap on the roof, he was greatly impressed with the amount
that could be done by little and little. In return Donal told him
that if he worked well through the week, he should every Saturday
evening spend an hour with him by the fire he had thus helped to
provide, and they would then do something together.

After his first visit Donal went again and again to the village: he
had made acquaintance with some of the people, and liked them.
There was one man, however, who, although, attracted by his look
despite its apparent sullenness, he had tried to draw him into
conversation, seemed to avoid, almost to resent his advances. But
one day as he was walking home, Stephen Kennedy overtook him, and
saying he was going in his direction, walked alongside of him--to
the pleasure of Donal, who loved all humanity, and especially the
portion of it acquainted with hard work. He was a middle-sized
young fellow, with a slouching walk, but a well shaped and well set
head, and a not uncomely countenance. He was brown as sun and salt
sea-winds could make him, and had very blue eyes and dark hair,
telling of Norwegian ancestry. He lounged along with his hands in
his pockets, as if he did not care to walk, yet got over the ground
as fast as Donal, who, with yet some remnant of the peasant's
stride, covered the ground as if he meant walking. After their
greeting a great and enduring silence fell, which lasted till the
journey was half-way over; then all at once the fisherman spoke.

"There's a lass at the castel, sir," he said, "they ca' Eppy Comin."

"There is," answered Donal.

"Do ye ken the lass, sir--to speak til her, I mean?"

"Surely," replied Donal. "I know her grandfather and grandmother

"Dacent fowk!" said Stephen.

"They are that!" responded Donal, "--as good people as I know!"

"Wud ye du them a guid turn?" asked the fisherman.

"Indeed I would!"

"Weel, it's this, sir: I hae grit doobts gien a' be gaein' verra
weel wi' the lass at the castel."

As he said the words he turned his head aside, and spoke so low and
in such a muffled way that Donal could but just make out what he

"You must be a little plainer if you would have me do anything," he

"I'll be richt plain wi' ye, sir," answered Stephen, and then fell
silent as if he would never speak again.

Donal waited, nor uttered a sound. At last he spoke once more.

"Ye maun ken, sir," he said "I hae had a fancy to the lass this mony
a day; for ye'll alloo she's baith bonny an' winsome!"

Donal did not reply, for although he was ready to grant her bonny,
he had never felt her winsome.

"Weel," he went on, "her an' me 's been coortin' this twa year; an'
guid freen's we aye was till this last spring, whan a' at ance she
turnt highty-tighty like, nor, du what I micht, could I get her to
say what it was 'at cheengt her: sae far as I kenned I had dune
naething, nor wad she say I had gi'en her ony cause o' complaint.
But though she couldna say I had ever gi'en mair nor a ceevil word
to ony lass but hersel', she appeart unco wullin' to fix me wi' this
ane an' that ane or ony ane! I couldna think what had come ower
her! But at last--an' a sair last it is!--I hae come to the
un'erstan'in o' 't: she wud fain hae a pretence for br'akin' wi' me!
She wad hae 't 'at I was duin' as she was duin' hersel'--haudin'
company wi' anither!"

"Are you quite sure of what you say?" asked Donal.

"Ower sure, sir, though I'm no at leeberty to tell ye hoo I cam to
be.--Dinna think, sir, 'at I'm ane to haud a lass til her word whan
her hert disna back it; I wud hae said naething aboot it, but jist
borne the hert-brak wi' the becomin' silence, for greitin' nor
ragin' men' no nets, nor tak the life o' nae dogfish. But it's
God's trowth, sir, I'm terrible feart for the lassie hersel'. She's
that ta'en up wi' him, they tell me, 'at she can think o' naething
but him; an' he's a yoong lord, no a puir lad like me--an' that's
what fears me!"

A great dread and a great compassion together laid hold of Donal,
but he did not speak.

"Gien it cam to that," resumed Stephen, "I doobt the fisher-lad wud
win her better breid nor my lord; for gien a' tales be true, he wud
hae to work for his ain breid; the castel 's no his, nor canna be
'cep' he merry the leddy o' 't. But it's no merryin' Eppy he'll be
efter, or ony the likes o' 'im!"

"You don't surely hint," said Donal, "that there's anything between
her and lord Forgue? She must be an idle girl to take such a thing
into her head!"

"I wuss weel she hae ta'en 't intil her heid! she'll get it the
easier oot o' her hert? But 'deed, sir, I'm sair feart! I speakna
o' 't for my ain sake; for gien there be trowth intil't, there can
never be mair 'atween her and me! But, eh, sir, the peety o' 't wi'
sic a bonny lass!--for he canna mean fair by her! Thae gran' fowk
does fearsome things! It's sma' won'er 'at whiles the puir fowk
rises wi' a roar, an' tears doon a', as they did i' France!"

"All you say is quite true; but the charge is such a serious one!"

"It is that, sir! But though it be true, I'm no gaein' to mak it
'afore the warl'."

"You are right there: it could do no good."

"I fear it may du as little whaur I am gaein' to mak it! I'm upo'
my ro'd to gar my lord gie an accoont o' himsel'. Faith, gien it
bena a guid ane, I'll thraw the neck o' 'im! It's better me to
hang, nor her to gang disgraced, puir thing! She can be naething
mair to me, as I say; but I wud like weel the wringin' o' a lord's
neck! It wud be like killin' a shark!"

"Why do you tell me this?" asked Donal.

"'Cause I look to you to get me to word o' the man."

"That you may wring his neck?--You should not have told me that: I
should be art and part in his murder!"

"Wud ye hae me lat the lassie tak her chance ohn dune onything?"
said the fisherman with scorn.

"By no means. I would do something myself whoever the girl was--and
she is the granddaughter of my best friends."

"Sir, ye winna surely fail me!"

"I will help you somehow, but I will not do what you want me. I
will turn the thing over in my mind. I promise you I will do
something--what, I cannot say offhand. You had better go home
again, and I will come to you to-morrow."

"Na, na, that winna do!" said the man, half doggedly, half fiercely.
"The hert ill be oot o' my body gien I dinna du something! This
verra nicht it maun be dune! I canna bide in hell ony langer. The
thoucht o' the rascal slaverin' his lees ower my Eppy 's killin' me!
My brain 's like a fire: I see the verra billows o' the ocean as
reid 's blude."

"If you come near the castle to-night, I will have you taken up. I
am too much your friend to see you hanged! But if you go home and
leave the matter to me, I will do my best, and let you know. She
shall be saved if I can compass it. What, man! you would not have
God against you?"

"He'll be upo' the side o' the richt, I'm thinkin'!"

"Doubtless; but he has said, 'Vengeance is mine!' He can't trust us
with that. He won't have us interfering. It's more his concern
than yours yet that the lassie have fair play. I will do my part."

They walked on in gloomy silence for some time. Suddenly the
fisherman put out his hand, seized Donal's with a convulsive grasp,
was possibly reassured by the strength with which Donal's responded,
turned, and without a word went back.

Donal had to think. Here was a most untoward affair! What could he
do? What ought he to attempt? From what he had seen of the young
lord, he could not believe he intended wrong to the girl; but he
might he selfishly amusing himself, and was hardly one to reflect
that the least idle familiarity with her was a wrong! The thing, if
there was the least truth in it, must be put a stop to at once! but
it might be all a fancy of the justly jealous lover, to whom the
girl had not of late been behaving as she ought! Or might there not
be somebody else? At the same time there was nothing absurd in the
idea that a youth, fresh from college and suddenly discompanioned at
home, without society, possessed by no love of literature, and with
almost no amusements, should, if only for very ennui, be attracted
by the pretty face and figure of Eppy, and then enthralled by her
coquetries of instinctive response. There was danger to the girl
both in silence and in speech: if there was no ground for the
apprehension, the very supposition was an injury--might even suggest
the thing it was intended to frustrate! Still something must be
risked! He had just been reading in sir Philip Sidney, that
"whosoever in great things will think to prevent all objections,
must lie still and do nothing." But what was he to do? The
readiest and simplest thing was to go to the youth, tell him what he
had heard, and ask him if there was any ground for it. But they
must find the girl another situation! in either case distance must
be put between them! He would tell her grandparents; but he feared,
if there was any truth in it, they would have no great influence
with her. If on the other hand, the thing was groundless, they
might make it up between her and her fisherman, and have them
married! She might only have been teasing him!--He would certainly
speak to the young lord! Yet again, what if he should actually put
the mischief into his thoughts! If there should be ever so slight a
leaning in the direction, might he not so give a sudden and fatal
impulse? He would take the housekeeper into his counsel! She must
understand the girl! Things would at once show themselves to her on
the one side or the other, which might reveal the path he ought to
take. But did he know mistress Brookes well enough? Would she be
prudent, or spoil everything by precipitation? She might ruin the
girl if she acted without sympathy, caring only to get the
appearance of evil out of the house!

The way the legally righteous act the policeman in the moral world
would be amusing were it not so sad. They are always making the
evil "move on," driving it to do its mischiefs to other people
instead of them; dispersing nests of the degraded to crowd them the
more, and with worse results, in other parts: why should such be
shocked at the idea of sending out of the world those to whom they
will not give a place in it to lay their heads? They treat them in
this world as, according to the old theology, their God treats them
in the next, keeping them alive for sin and suffering.

Some with the bright lamp of their intellect, others with the smoky
lamp of their life, cast a shadow of God on the wall of the
universe, and then believe or disbelieve in the shadow.

Donal was still in meditation when he reached home, and still
undecided what he should do. Crossing a small court on his way to
his aerie, he saw the housekeeper making signs to him from the
window of her room. He turned and went to her. It was of Eppy she
wanted to speak to him! How often is the discovery of a planet, of
a truth, of a scientific fact, made at once in different places far
apart! She asked him to sit down, and got him a glass of milk,
which was his favourite refreshment, little imagining the expression
she attributed to fatigue arose from the very thing occupying her
own thoughts.

"It's a queer thing," she began, "for an auld wife like me to come
til a yoong gentleman like yersel', sir, wi' sic a tale; but, as the
sayin' is, 'needs maun whan the deil drives'; an' here's like to be
an unco stramash aboot the place, gien we comena thegither upo' some
gait oot o' 't. Dinna luik sae scaret like, sir; we may be in time
yet er' the warst come to the warst, though it's some ill to say
what may be the warst in sic an ill coopered kin' o' affair!
There's thae twa fules o' bairns--troth, they're nae better; an'
the tane 's jist as muckle to blame as the tither--only the lass is
waur to blame nor the lad, bein' made sharper, an' kennin' better
nor him what comes o' sic!--Eh, but she is a gowk!"

Here Mrs. Brookes paused, lost in contemplation of the gowkedness of

She was a florid, plump, good-looking woman, over forty, with thick
auburn hair, brushed smooth--one of those women comely in soul as
well as body, who are always to the discomfiture of wrong and the
healing of strife. Left a young widow, she had refused many offers:
once was all that was required of her in the way of marriage! She
had found her husband good enough not to be followed by another, and
marriage hard enough to favour the same result. When she sat down,
smoothing her apron on her lap, and looking him in the face with
clear blue eyes, he must have been either a suspicious or an
unfortunate man who would not trust her. She was a general softener
of shocks, foiler of encounters, and soother of angers. She was not
one of those housekeepers always in black silk and lace, but was
mostly to be seen in a cotton gown--very clean, but by no means
imposing. She would put her hands to anything--show a young servant
how a thing ought to be done, or relieve cook or housemaid who was
ill or had a holiday. Donal had taken to her, as like does to like.

He did not hurry her, but waited.

"I may as weel gie ye the haill story, sir!" she recommenced. "Syne
ye'll be whaur I am mysel'.

"I was oot i' the yard to luik efter my hens--I never lat onybody
but mysel' meddle wi' them, for they're jist as easy sp'ilt as ither
fowk's bairns; an' the twa doors o' the barn stan'in open, I took
the straucht ro'd throuw the same to win the easier at my feathert
fowk, as my auld minnie used to ca' them. I'm but a saft kin' o' a
bein', as my faither used to tell me, an' mak but little din whaur I
gang, sae they couldna hae h'ard my fut as I gaed; but what sud I
hear--but I maun tell ye it was i' the gloamin' last nicht, an' I
wad hae tellt ye the same this mornin', sir, seekin' yer fair
coonsel, but ye was awa' 'afore I kenned, an' I was resolvt no to
lat anither gloamin' come ohn ta'en precautions--what sud I hear, I
say, as I was sayin', but a laich tshe--tshe--tshe, somewhaur, I
couldna tell whaur, as gien some had mair to say nor wud be spoken
oot! Weel, ye see, bein' ane accoontable tae ithers for them 'at's
accoontable to me, I stude still an' hearkent: gien a' was richt,
nane wad be the waur for me; an' gien a' wasna richt, a' sud be

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