Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Donal Grant by George MacDonald

Part 4 out of 11

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.0 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

wrang gien I could make it sae! Weel, as I say, I hearkent--but eh,
sir! jist gie a keek oot at that door, an' see gein there bena
somebody there hearkin', for that Eppy--I wudna lippen til her ae
hair! she's as sly as an edder! Naebody there? Weel, steek ye the
door, sir, an' I s' gang on wi' my tale. I stude an' hearkent, as I
was sayin', an' what sud I hear but a twasome toot-moot, as my auld
auntie frae Ebberdeen wud hae ca'd it--ae v'ice that o' a man, an'
the ither that o' a wuman, for it's strange the differ even whan
baith speyks their laichest! I was aye gleg i' the hearin', an' hae
reason for the same to be thankfu,' but I couldna, for a' my
sharpness, mak oot what they war sayin'. So, whan I saw 'at I wasna
to hear, I jist set aboot seein', an' as quaietly as my saft
fit--it's safter nor it's licht--wud carry me, I gaed aboot the
barnflure, luikin' whaur onybody could be hidden awa'.

"There was a great heap o' strae in ae corner, no hard again' the
wa'; an' 'atween the wa' an' that heap o' thrashen strae, sat the
twa. Up gat my lord wi' a spang, as gien he had been ta'en
stealin'. Eppy wud hae bidden, an' creepit oot like a moose ahint
my back, but I was ower sharp for her: 'Come oot o' that, my lass,'
says I. 'Oh, mistress Brookes!' says my lord, unco ceevil, 'for my
sake don't be hard upon her.' Noo that angert me! For though I say
the lass is mair to blame nor the lad, it's no for the lad, be he
lord or labourer, to lea' himsel' oot whan the blame comes. An'
says I, 'My lord,' says I, 'ye oucht to ken better! I s' say nae
mair i' the noo, for I'm ower angry. Gang yer ways--but na! no
thegither, my lord! I s' luik weel to that!--Gang up til yer ain
room, Eppy!' I said, 'an' gien I dinna see ye there whan I come in,
it's awa' to your grannie I gang this varra nicht!'

"Eppy she gaed; an' my lord he stude there, wi' a face 'at glowert
white throuw the gloamin'. I turned upon him like a wild beast, an'
says I, 'I winna speir what ye 're up til, my lord, but ye ken weel
eneuch what it luiks like! an' I wud never hae expeckit it o' ye!'
He began an' he stammert, an' he beggit me to believe there was
naething 'atween them, an' he wudna harm the lassie to save his
life, an' a' the lave o' 't, 'at I couldna i' my hert but pity them
baith--twa sic bairns, doobtless drawn thegither wi' nae thoucht o'
ill, ilk ane by the bonny face o' the ither, as is but nait'ral,
though it canna be allooed! He beseekit me sae sair 'at I foolishly
promised no to tell his faither gien he on his side wud promise no
to hae mair to du wi' Eppy. An' that he did. Noo I never had reason
to doobt my yoong lord's word, but in a case o' this kin' it's aye
better no to lippen. Ony gait, the thing canna be left this wise,
for gien ill cam o' 't, whaur wud we a' be! I didna promise no to
tell onybody; I'm free to tell yersel,' maister Grant; an' ye maun
contrive what's to be dune."

"I will speak to him," said Donal, "and see what humour he is in.
That will help to clear the thing up. We will try to do right, and
trust to be kept from doing wrong."

Donal left her to go to his room, but had not reached the top of the
stair when he saw clearly that he must speak to lord Forgue at once:
he turned and went down to a room that was called his.

When he reached it, only Davie was there, turning over the leaves of
a folio worn by fingers that had been dust for centuries. He said
Percy went out, and would not let him go with him.

Knowing mistress Brookes was looking after Eppy, Donal put off
seeking farther for Forgue till the morrow.



The next day he could find him nowhere, and in the evening went to
see the Comins. It was pretty dark, but the moon would be up by and

When he reached the cobbler's house, he found him working as usual,
only in-doors now that the weather was colder, and the light sooner
gone. He looked innocent, bright, and contented as usual. "If God
be at peace," he would say to himself, "why should not I?" Once he
said this aloud, almost unconsciously, and was overheard: it
strengthened the regard with which worldly church-goers regarded
him: he was to them an irreverent yea, blasphemous man! They did
not know God enough to understand the cobbler's words, and all the
interpretation they could give them was after their kind. Their
long Sunday faces indicated their reward; the cobbler's cheery,
expectant look indicated his.

The two were just wondering a little when he entered, that young
Eppy had not made her appearance; but then, as her grandmother said,
she had often, especially during the last few weeks, been later
still! As she spoke, however, they heard her light, hurried foot on
the stair.

"Here she comes at last!" said her grandmother, and she entered.

She said she could not get away so easily now. Donal feared she had
begun to lie. After sitting a quarter of an hour, she rose
suddenly, and said she must go, for she was wanted at home. Donal
rose also and said, as the night was dark, and the moon not yet up,
it would be better to go together. Her face flushed: she had to go
into the town first, she said, to get something she wanted! Donal
replied he was in no hurry, and would go with her. She cast an
inquiring, almost suspicious look on her grandparents, but made no
further objection, and they went out together.

They walked to the High Street, and to the shop where Donal had
encountered the parson. He waited in the street till she came out.
Then they walked back the way they had come, little thinking,
either of them, that their every step was dogged. Kennedy, the
fisherman, firm in his promise not to go near the castle, could not
therefore remain quietly at home: he knew it was Eppy's day for
visiting her folk, went to the town, and had been lingering about in
the hope of seeing her. Not naturally suspicious, justifiable
jealousy had rendered him such; and when he saw the two together he
began to ask whether Donal's anxiety to keep him from encountering
lord Forgue might not be due to other grounds than those given or
implied. So he followed, careful they should not see him.

They came to a baker's shop, and, stopping at the door, Eppy, in a
voice that in vain sought to be steady, asked Donal if he would be
so good as wait for her a moment, while she went in to speak to the
baker's daughter. Donal made no difficulty, and she entered,
leaving the door open as she found it.

Lowrie Leper's shop was lighted with only one dip, too dim almost to
show the sugar biscuits and peppermint drops in the window, that
drew all day the hungry eyes of the children. A pleasant smell of
bread came from it, and did what it could to entertain him in the
all but deserted street. While he stood no one entered or issued.

"She's having a long talk!" he said to himself, but for a long time
was not impatient. He began at length, however, to fear she must
have been taken ill, or have found something wrong in the house.
When more than half an hour was gone, he thought it time to make

He entered therefore, shutting the door and opening it again, to
ring the spring-bell, then mechanically closing it behind him.
Straightway Mrs. Leper appeared from somewhere to answer the squall
of the shrill-tongued summoner. Donal asked if Eppy was ready to
go. The woman stared at him a moment in silence.

"Eppy wha, said ye?" she asked at length.

"Eppy Comin," he answered.

"I ken naething aboot her.--Lucy!"

A good-looking girl, with a stocking she was darning drawn over one
hand and arm, followed her mother into the shop.

"Whaur's Eppy Comin, gien ye please?" asked Donal.

"I ken naething aboot her. I haena seen her sin' this day week,"
answered the girl in a very straight-forward manner.

Donal saw he had been tricked, but judging it better to seek no
elucidation, turned with apology to go.

As he opened the door, there came through the house from behind a
blast of cold wind: there was an open outer door in that direction!
The girl must have slipped through the house, and out by that door,
leaving her squire to cool himself, vainly expectant, in the street!
If she had found another admirer, as probably she imagined, his
polite attentions were at the moment inconvenient!

But she had tried the trick too often, for she had once served her
fisherman in like fashion. Seeing her go into the baker's, Kennedy
had conjectured her purpose, and hurrying toward the issue from the
other exit, saw her come out of the court, and was again following

Donal hastened homeward. The moon rose. It was a lovely night.
Dull-gleaming glimpses of the river came through the light fog that
hovered over it in the rising moon like a spirit-river continually
ascending from the earthly one and resting upon it, but flowing in
heavenly places. The white webs shone very white in the moon, and
the green grass looked gray. A few minutes more, and the whole
country was covered with a low-lying fog, on whose upper surface the
moon shone, making it appear to Donal's wondering eyes a wide-spread
inundation, from which rose half-submerged houses and stacks and
trees. One who had never seen the thing before, and who did not
know the country, would not have doubted he looked on a veritable
expanse of water. Absorbed in the beauty of the sight he trudged

Suddenly he stopped: were those the sounds of a scuffle he heard on
the road before him? He ran. At the next turn, in the loneliest
part of the way, he saw something dark, like the form of a man,
lying in the middle of the road. He hastened to it. The moon
gleamed on a pool beside it. A death-like face looked heavenward:
it was that of lord Forgue--without breath or motion. There was a
cut in his head: from that the pool had flowed. He examined it as
well as he could with anxious eyes. It had almost stopped bleeding.
What was he to do? What could be done? There was but one thing!
He drew the helpless form to the side of the way, and leaning it up
against the earth-dyke, sat down on the road before it, and so
managed to get it upon his back, and rise with it. If he could but
get him home unseen, much scandal might be forestalled!

On the level road he did very well; but, strong as he was, he did
not find it an easy task to climb with such a burden the steep
approach to the castle. He had little breath left when at last he
reached the platform from which rose the towering bulk.

He carried him straight to the housekeeper's room. It was not yet
more than half-past ten; and though the servants were mostly in bed,
mistress Brookes was still moving about. He laid his burden on her
sofa, and hastened to find her.

Like a sensible woman she kept her horror and dismay to herself.
She got some brandy, and between them they managed to make him
swallow a little. He began to recover. They bathed his wound, and
did for it what they could with scissors and plaster, then carried
him to his own room, and got him to bed. Donal sat down by him, and
staid. His patient was restless and wandering all the night, but
towards morning fell into a sound sleep, and was still asleep when
the housekeeper came to relieve him.

As soon as Mrs. Brookes left Donal with lord Forgue, she went to
Eppy's room, and found her in bed, pretending to be asleep. She
left her undisturbed, thinking to come easier at the truth if she
took her unprepared to lie. It came out afterwards that she was not
so heartless as she seemed. She found lord Forgue waiting her upon
the road, and almost immediately Kennedy came up to them. Forgue
told her to run home at once: he would soon settle matters with the
fellow. She went off like a hare, and till she was out of sight the
men stood looking at each other. Kennedy was a powerful man, and
Forgue but a stripling; the latter trusted, however, to his skill,
and did not fear his adversary. He did not know what he was.

He seemed now in no danger, and his attendants agreed to be silent
till he recovered. It was given out that he was keeping his room
for a few days, but that nothing very serious was the matter with

In the afternoon, Donal went to find Kennedy, loitered a while about
the village, and made several inquiries after him; but no one had
seen him.

Forgue recovered as rapidly as could have been expected. Davie was
troubled that he might not go and see him, but he would have been
full of question, remark, and speculation! For what he had himself
to do in the matter, Donal was but waiting till he should be strong
enough to be taken to task.



At length one evening Donal knocked at the door of Forgue's room,
and went in. He was seated in an easy chair before a blazing fire,
looking comfortable, and showing in his pale face no sign of a
disturbed conscience.

"My lord," said Donal, "you will hardly be surprised to find I have
something to talk to you about!"

His lordship was so much surprised that he made him no answer--only
looked in his face. Donal went on:--

"I want to speak to you about Eppy Comin," he said.

Forgue's face flamed up. The devil of pride, and the devil of fear,
and the devil of shame, all rushed to the outworks to defend the
worthless self. But his temper did not at once break bounds.

"Allow me to remind you, Mr. Grant," he said, "that, although I have
availed myself of your help, I am not your pupil, and you have no
authority over me."

"The reminder is unnecessary, my lord," answered Donal. "I am not
your tutor, but I am the friend of the Comins, and therefore of

His lordship drew himself up yet more erect in his chair, and a
sneer came over his handsome countenance. But Donal did not wait
for him to speak.

"Don't imagine me, my lord," he said, "presuming on the fact that I
had the good fortune to carry you home: that I should have done for
the stable-boy in similar plight. But as I interfered for you then,
I have to interfere for Eppie now."

"Damn your insolence! Do you think because you are going to be a
parson, you may make a congregation of me!"

"I have not the slightest intention of being a parson," returned
Donal quietly, "but I do hope to be an honest man, and your lordship
is in great danger of ceasing to be one!"

"Get out of my room," cried Forgue.

Donal took a seat opposite him.

"If you do not, I will!" said the young lord, and rose.

But ere he reached the door, Donal was standing with his back
against it. He locked it, and took out the key. The youth glared
at him, unable to speak for fury, then turned, caught up a chair,
and rushed at him. One twist of Donal's ploughman-hand wrenched it
from him. He threw it over his head upon the bed, and stood
motionless and silent, waiting till his rage should subside. In a
few moments his eye began to quail, and he went back to his seat.

"Now, my lord," said Donal, following his example and sitting down,
"will you hear me?"

"I'll be damned if I do!" he answered, flaring up again at the first
sound of Donal's voice.

"I'm afraid you'll be damned if you don't," returned Donal.

His lordship took the undignified expedient of thrusting his fingers
in his ears. Donal sat quiet until he removed them. But the moment
he began to speak he thrust them in again. Donal rose, and seizing
one of his hands by the wrist, said,

"Be careful, my lord; if you drive me to extremity, I will speak so
that the house shall hear me; if that will not do, I go straight to
your father."

"You are a spy and a sneak!"

"A man who behaves like you, should have no terms held with him."

The youth broke out in a fresh passion. Donal sat waiting till the
futile outburst should be over. It was presently exhausted, the
rage seeming to go out for want of fuel. Nor did he again stop his
ears against the truth he saw he was doomed to hear.

"I am come," said Donal, "to ask your lordship whether the course
you are pursuing is not a dishonourable one."

"I know what I am about."

"So much the worse--but I doubt it. For your mother's sake, if for
no other, you should scorn to behave to a woman as you are doing

"What do you please to imagine I am doing now?"

"There is no imagination in this--that you are behaving to Eppy as
no man ought except he meant to marry her."

"How do you know I do not mean to marry her?"

"Do you mean to marry her, my lord?"

"What right have you to ask?"

"At least I live under the same roof with you both."

"What if she knows I do not intend to marry her?"

"My duty is equally plain: I am the friend of her only relatives.
If I did not do my best for the poor girl, I dared not look my
Master in the face!--Where is your honour, my lord?"

"I never told her I would marry her."

"I never supposed you had."

"Well, what then?"

"I repeat, such attentions as yours must naturally be supposed by
any innocent girl to mean marriage."

"Bah! she is not such a fool!"

"I fear she is fool enough not to know to what they must then

"They point to nothing."

"Then you take advantage of her innocence to amuse yourself with

"What if she be not quite so innocent as you would have her."

"My lord, you are a scoundrel."

For one moment Forgue seemed to wrestle with an all but
uncontrollable fury; the next he laughed--but it was not a nice

"Come now," he said, "I'm glad I've put you in a rage! I've got
over mine. I'll tell you the whole truth: there is nothing between
me and the girl--nothing whatever, I give you my word, except an
innocent flirtation. Ask herself."

"My lord," said Donal, "I believe what you mean me to understand. I
thought nothing worse of it myself."

"Then why the devil kick up such an infernal shindy about it?"

"For these reasons, my lord:--"

"Oh, come! don't be long-winded."

"You must hear me."

"Go on."

"I will suppose she does not imagine you mean to marry her."

"She can't!"

"Why not?"

"She's not a fool, and she can't imagine me such an idiot!"

"But may she not suppose you love her?"

He tried to laugh.

"You have never told her so?--never said or done anything to make
her think so?"

"Oh, well! she may think so--after a sort of a fashion!"

"Would she speak to you again if she heard you talking so of the
love you give her?"

"You know as well as I do the word has many meanings?"

"And which is she likely to take? That which is confessedly false
and worth nothing?"

"She may take which she pleases, and drop it when she pleases."

"But now, does she not take your words of love for more than they
are worth?"

"She says I will soon forget her."

"Will any saying keep her from being so in love with you as to reap
misery? You don't know what the consequences may be! Her love
wakened by yours, may be infinitely stronger than yours!"

"Oh, women don't now-a-days die for love!" said his lordship,
feeling a little flattered.

"It would be well for some of them if they did! they never get over
it. She mayn't die, true! but she may live to hate the man that led
her to think he loved her, and taught her to believe in nobody. Her
whole life may be darkened because you would amuse yourself."

"She has her share of the amusement, and I have my share, by Jove,
of the danger! She's a very pretty, clever, engaging girl--though
she is but a housemaid!" said Forgue, as if uttering a sentiment of
quite communistic liberality.

"What you say shows the more danger to her! If you admire her so
much you must have behaved to her so much the more like a genuine
lover? But any suffering the affair may have caused you, will
hardly, I fear, persuade you to the only honourable escape!"

"By Jupiter!" cried Forgue. "Would you have me marry the girl?
That's coming it rather strong with your friendship for the

"No, my lord; if things are as you represent, I have no such desire.
What I want is to put a stop to the whole affair. Every man has to
be his brother's keeper; and if our western notions concerning women
be true, a man is yet more bound to be his sister's keeper. He who
does not recognize this, be he earl or prince, is viler than the
murderous prowler after a battle. For a man to say 'she can take
care of herself,' is to speak out of essential hell. The beauty of
love is, that it does not take care of itself, but of the person
loved. To approach a girl in any other fashion is a mean
scoundrelly thing. I am glad it has already brought on you some of
the chastisement it deserves."

His lordship started to his feet in a fresh access of rage.

"You dare say that to my face!"

"Assuredly, my lord. The fact stands just so."

"I gave the fellow as good as he gave me!"

"That is nothing to the point--though from the state I found you in,
it is hard to imagine. Pardon me, I do not believe you behaved like
what you call a coward."

Lord Forgue was almost crying with rage.

"I have not done with him yet!" he stammered. "If I only knew who
the rascal is! If I don't pay him out, may--"

"Stop, stop, my lord. All that is mere waste! I know who the man
is, but I will not tell you. He gave you no more than you deserved,
and I will do nothing to get him punished for it."

"You are art and part with him!"

"I neither knew of his intent, saw him do it, nor have any proof
against him."

"You will not tell me his name?"


"I will find it out, and kill him."

"He threatens to kill you. I will do what I can to prevent either."

"I will kill him," repeated Forgue through his clenched teeth.

"And I will do my best to have you hanged for it," said Donal.

"Leave the room, you insolent bumpkin."

"When you have given me your word that you will never again speak to
Eppy Comin."

"I'll be damned first."

"She will be sent away."

"Where I shall see her the easier."

His lordship said this more from perversity than intent, for he had
begun to wish himself clear of the affair--only how was he to give
in to this unbearable clown!

"I will give you till to-morrow to think of it," said Donal, and
opened the door.

His lordship made him no reply, but cast after him a look of
uncertain anger. Donal, turning his head as he shut the door, saw

"I trust," he said, "you will one day be glad I spoke to you

"Oh, go along with your preaching!" cried Forgue, more testily than
wrathfully; and Donal went.

In the meantime Eppy had been soundly taken to task by Mrs. Brookes,
and told that if once again she spoke a word to lord Forgue, she
should that very day have her dismissal. The housekeeper thought
she had at least succeeded in impressing upon her that she was in
danger of losing her situation in a way that must seriously affect
her character. She assured Donal that she would not let the foolish
girl out of her sight; and thereupon Donal thought it better to give
lord Forgue a day to make up his mind.

On the second morning he came to the schoolroom when lessons were
over, and said frankly,

"I've made a fool of myself, Mr. Grant! Make what excuse for me you
can. I am sorry. Believe me, I meant no harm. I have made up my
mind that all shall be over between us."

"Promise me you will not once speak to her again."

"I don't like to do that: it might happen to be awkward. But I
promise to do my best to avoid her."

Donald was not quite satisfied, but thought it best to leave the
thing so. The youth seemed entirely in earnest.

For a time he remained in doubt whether he should mention the thing
to Eppy's grandparents. He reflected that their influence with her
did not seem very great, and if she were vexed by anything they
said, it might destroy what little they had. Then it would make
them unhappy, and he could not bear to think of it. He made up his
mind that he would not mention it, but, in the hope she would now
change her way, leave the past to be forgotten. He had no sooner
thus resolved, however, than he grew uncomfortable, and was
unsatisfied with the decision. All would not be right between his
friend and him! Andrew Comin would have something against him! He
could no longer meet him as before, for he would be hiding something
from him, and he would have a right to reproach him! Then his
inward eyes grew clear. He said to himself, "What a man has a right
to know, another has no right to conceal from him. If sorrow belong
to him, I have as little right to keep that from him as joy. His
sorrows and his joys are part of a man's inheritance. My wisdom to
take care of this man!--his own is immeasurably before mine! The
whole matter concerns him: I will let him know at once!"

The same night he went to see him. His wife was out, and Donal was
glad of it. He told him all that had taken place.

He listened in silence, his eyes fixed on him, his work on his lap,
his hand with the awl hanging by his side. When he heard how Eppy
had tricked Donal that night, leaving him to watch in vain, tears
gathered in his old eyes. He wiped them away with the backs of his
horny hands, and there came no more. Donal told him he had first
thought he would say nothing to him about it all, he was so loath to
trouble them, but neither his heart nor his conscience would let him
be silent.

"Ye did richt to tell me," said Andrew, after a pause. "It's true we
haena that muckle weicht wi' her, for it seems a law o' natur 'at
the yoong 's no to be hauden doon by the experrience o' the
auld--which can be experrience only to themsel's; but whan we pray
to God, it puts it mair in his pooer to mak use o' 's for the
carryin' oot o' the thing we pray for. It's no aye by words he gies
us to say; wi' some fowk words gang for unco little; it may be
whiles by a luik o' whilk ye ken naething, or it may be by a motion
o' yer han', or a turn o' yer heid. Wha kens but ye may haud a
divine pooer ower the hert ye hae 'maist gi'en up the houp o' ever
winnin' at! Ye hae h'ard o' the convic' broucht to sorrow by seein'
a bit o' the same mattin' he had been used to see i' the aisle o'
the kirk his mither tuik him til! That was a stroke o' God's magic!
There's nae kennin' what God can do, nor yet what best o' rizzons
he has for no doin' 't sooner! Whan we think he's lattin' the time
gang, an' doin' naething, he may be jist doin' a' thing! No 'at I
ever think like that noo; lat him do 'at he likes, what he does I'm
sure o'. I'm o' his min' whether I ken his min' or no.--Eh, my
lassie! my lassie! I could better win ower a hantle nor her giein'
you the slip that gait, sir. It was sae dooble o' her! It's
naething wrang in itsel' 'at a yoong lass sud be taen wi' the
attentions o' a bonny lad like lord Forgue! That's na agen the
natur 'at God made! But to preten' an' tak in!--to be cunnin' an'
sly! that's evil. An' syne for the ither lad--eh, I doobt that's
warst o' 'a! Only I kenna hoo far she had committit hersel' wi'
him, for she was never open-hertit. Eh, sir! it's a fine thing to
hae nae sacrets but sic as lie 'atween yersel' an' yer macker! I
can but pray the Father o' a' to haud his e'e upon her, an' his
airms aboot her, an' keep aff the hardenin' o' the hert 'at despises
coonsel! I'm sair doobtin' we canna do muckle mair for her! She
maun tak her ain gait, for we canna put a collar roon' her neck, an'
lead her aboot whaurever we gang. She maun win her ain breid; an'
gien she didna that, she wad be but the mair ta'en up wi' sic
nonsense as the likes o' lord Forgue 's aye ready to say til ony
bonny lass. An' I varily believe she's safer there wi' you an' the
hoosekeeper nor whaur he could win at her easier, an' whaur they wud
be readier to tak her character fra her upo' less offence, an' sen'
her aboot her business. Fowk 's unco' jealous about their hoose 'at
wad trouble themsel's little aboot a lass! Sae lang as it's no upo'
their premises, she may do as she likes for them! Doory an' me,
we'll jist lay oor cares i' the fine sicht an' 'afore the
compassionate hert o' the Maister, an' see what he can do for 's!
Sic things aiven we can lea' to him! I houp there'll be nae mair
bludeshed! He's a fine lad, Steenie Kennedy--come o' a fine stock!
His father was a God-fearin' man--some dour by natur, but wi' an
unco clearin' up throuw grace. I wud wullin'ly hae seen oor Eppy
his wife; he's an honest lad! I'm sorry he gied place to wrath, but
he may hae repentit by the noo, an' troth, I canna blame him muckle
at his time o' life! It's no as gien you or me did it, ye ken,

The chosen agonize after the light; stretch out their hands to God;
stir up themselves to lay hold upon God! These are they who gather
grace, as the mountain-tops the snow, to send down rivers of water
to their fellows. The rest are the many called, of whom not a few
have to be compelled. Alas for the one cast out!

As he was going home in the dark of a clouded moonlight, just as he
reached the place where he found lord Forgue, Donal caught sight of
the vague figure of a man apparently on the watch, and put himself a
little on his guard as he went on. It was Kennedy. He came up to
him in a hesitating way.

"Stephen," said Donal, for he seemed to wait for him to speak first,
"you may thank God you are not now in hiding."

"I wad never hide, sir. Gien I had killed the man, I wad hae hauden
my face til't. But it was a foolish thing to do, for it'll only gar
the lass think the mair o' him: they aye side wi' the ane they tak
to be ill-used!"

"I thought you said you would in any case have no more to do with
her!" said Donal.

Kennedy was silent for a moment.

"A body may tear at their hert," he muttered, "but gien it winna
come, what's the guid o' sweirin' oot it maun!"

"Well," returned Donal, "it may be some comfort to you to know that,
for the present at least, and I hope for altogether, the thing is
put a stop to. The housekeeper at the castle knows all about it,
and she and I will do our best. Her grandparents know too. Eppie
herself and lord Forgue have both of them promised there shall be no
more of it. And I do believe, Kennedy, there has been nothing more
than great silliness on either side. I hope you will not forget
yourself again. You gave me a promise and broke it!"

"No i' the letter, sir--only i' the speerit!" rejoined Kennedy: "I
gaedna near the castel!"

"'Only in the spirit!' did you say, Stephen? What matters the word
but for the spirit? The Bible itself lets the word go any time for
the spirit! Would it have been a breach of your promise if you had
gone to the castle on some service to the man you almost murdered?
If ever you lay your hand on the lad again, I'll do my best to give
you over to justice. But keep quiet, and I'll do all I can for

Kennedy promised to govern himself, and they parted friends.



The days went on and on, and still Donal saw nothing, or next to
nothing of the earl. Thrice he met him on the way to the walled
garden in which he was wont to take his unfrequent exercise; on one
of these occasions his lordship spoke to him courteously, the next
scarcely noticed him, the third passed him without recognition.
Donal, who with equal mind took everything as it came, troubled
himself not at all about the matter. He was doing his work as well
as he knew how, and that was enough.

Now also he saw scarcely anything of lord Forgue either; he no
longer sought his superior scholarship. Lady Arctura he saw
generally once a week at the religion-lesson; of Miss Carmichael
happily nothing at all. But as he grew more familiar with the
countenance of lady Arctura, it pained him more and more to see it
so sad, so far from peaceful. What might be the cause of it?

Most well-meaning young women are in general tolerably happy--partly
perhaps because they have few or no aspirations, not troubling
themselves about what alone is the end of thought--and partly
perhaps because they despise the sadness ever ready to assail them,
as something unworthy. But if condemned to the round of a
tormenting theological mill, and at the same time consumed with
strenuous endeavour to order thoughts and feelings according to
supposed requirements of the gospel, with little to employ them and
no companions to make them forget themselves, such would be at once
more sad and more worthy. The narrow ways trodden of men are
miserable; they have high walls on each side, and but an occasional
glimpse of the sky above; and in such paths lady Arctura was trying
to walk. The true way, though narrow, is not unlovely: most
footpaths are lovelier than high roads. It may be full of toil, but
it cannot be miserable. It has not walls, but fields and forests
and gardens around it, and limitless sky overhead. It has its
sorrows, but many of them lie only on its borders, and they that
leave the path gather them. Lady Arctura was devouring her soul in
silence, with such effectual help thereto as the self-sufficient
friend, who had never encountered a real difficulty in her life,
plenteously gave her. Miss Carmichael dealt with her honestly
according to her wisdom, but that wisdom was foolishness; she said
what she thought right, but was wrong in what she counted right;
nay, she did what she thought right--but no amount of doing wrong
right can set the soul on the high table-land of freedom, or endow
it with liberating help.

The autumn passed, and the winter was at hand--a terrible time to
the old and ailing even in tracts nearer the sun--to the young and
healthy a merry time even in the snows and bitter frosts of eastern
Scotland. Davie looked chiefly to the skating, and in particular to
the pleasure he was going to have in teaching Mr. Grant, who had
never done any sliding except on the soles of his nailed shoes: when
the time came, he acquired the art the more rapidly that he never
minded what blunders he made in learning a thing. The dread of
blundering is a great bar to success.

He visited the Comins often, and found continual comfort and help in
their friendship. The letters he received from home, especially
those of his friend sir Gibbie, who not unfrequently wrote also for
Donal's father and mother, were a great nourishment to him.

As the cold and the nights grew, the water-level rose in Donal's
well, and the poetry began to flow. When we have no summer without,
we must supply it from within. Those must have comfort in
themselves who are sent to help others. Up in his aerie, like an
eagle above the low affairs of the earth, he led a keener life,
breathed the breath of a more genuine existence than the rest of the
house. No doubt the old cobbler, seated at his last over a mouldy
shoe, breathed a yet higher air than Donal weaving his verse, or
reading grand old Greek, in his tower; but Donal was on the same
path, the only path with an infinite end--the divine destiny.

He had often thought of trying the old man with some of the best
poetry he knew, desirous of knowing what receptivity he might have
for it; but always when with him had hitherto forgot his proposed
inquiry, and thought of it again only after he had left him: the
original flow of the cobbler's life put the thought of testing it
out of his mind.

One afternoon, when the last of the leaves had fallen, and the
country was bare as the heart of an old man who has lived to
himself, Donal, seated before a great fire of coal and boat-logs,
fell a thinking of the old garden, vanished with the summer, but
living in the memory of its delight. All that was left of it at the
foot of the hill was its corpse, but its soul was in the heaven of
Donal's spirit, and there this night gathered to itself a new form.
It grew and grew in him, till it filled with its thoughts the mind
of the poet. He turned to his table, and began to write: with many
emendations afterwards, the result was this:--



I stood in an ancient garden
With high red walls around;
Over them gray and green lichens
In shadowy arabesque wound.

The topmost climbing blossoms
On fields kine-haunted looked out;
But within were shelter and shadow,
And daintiest odours about.

There were alleys and lurking arbours--
Deep glooms into which to dive;
The lawns were as soft as fleeces--
Of daisies I counted but five.

The sun-dial was so aged
It had gathered a thoughtful grace;
And the round-about of the shadow
Seemed to have furrowed its face.

The flowers were all of the oldest
That ever in garden sprung;
Red, and blood-red, and dark purple,
The rose-lamps flaming hung.

Along the borders fringéd
With broad thick edges of box,
Stood fox-gloves and gorgeous poppies,
And great-eyed hollyhocks.

There were junipers trimmed into castles,
And ash-trees bowed into tents;
For the garden, though ancient and pensive,
Still wore quaint ornaments.

It was all so stately fantastic,
Its old wind hardly would stir:
Young Spring, when she merrily entered,
Must feel it no place for her!


I stood in the summer morning
Under a cavernous yew;
The sun was gently climbing,
And the scents rose after the dew.

I saw the wise old mansion,
Like a cow in the noonday-heat,
Stand in a pool of shadows
That rippled about its feet.

Its windows were oriel and latticed,
Lowly and wide and fair;
And its chimneys like clustered pillars
Stood up in the thin blue air.

White doves, like the thoughts of a lady,
Haunted it in and out;
With a train of green and blue comets,
The peacock went marching about.

The birds in the trees were singing
A song as old as the world,
Of love and green leaves and sunshine,
And winter folded and furled.

They sang that never was sadness
But it melted and passed away;
They sang that never was darkness
But in came the conquering day.

And I knew that a maiden somewhere,
In a sober sunlit gloom,
In a nimbus of shining garments,
An aureole of white-browed bloom,

Looked out on the garden dreamy,
And knew not that it was old;
Looked past the gray and the sombre,
And saw but the green and the gold.


I stood in the gathering twilight,
In a gently blowing wind;
And the house looked half uneasy,
Like one that was left behind.

The roses had lost their redness,
And cold the grass had grown;
At roost were the pigeons and peacock,
And the dial was dead gray stone.

The world by the gathering twilight
In a gauzy dusk was clad;
It went in through my eyes to my spirit,
And made me a little sad.

Grew and gathered the twilight,
And filled my heart and brain;
The sadness grew more than sadness,
And turned to a gentle pain.

Browned and brooded the twilight,
And sank down through the calm,
Till it seemed for some human sorrows
There could not be any balm.


Then I knew that, up a staircase,
Which untrod will yet creak and shake,
Deep in a distant chamber,
A ghost was coming awake.

In the growing darkness growing--
Growing till her eyes appear,
Like spots of a deeper twilight,
But more transparent clear--

Thin as hot air up-trembling,
Thin as a sun-molten crape,
The deepening shadow of something
Taketh a certain shape;

A shape whose hands are uplifted
To throw back her blinding hair;
A shape whose bosom is heaving,
But draws not in the air.

And I know, by what time the moonlight
On her nest of shadows will sit,
Out on the dim lawn gliding
That shadow of shadows will flit.


The moon is dreaming upward
From a sea of cloud and gleam;
She looks as if she had seen us
Never but in a dream.

Down that stair I know she is coming,
Bare-footed, lifting her train;
It creaks not--she hears it creaking,
For the sound is in her brain.

Out at the side-door she's coming,
With a timid glance right and left!
Her look is hopeless yet eager,
The look of a heart bereft.

Across the lawn she is flitting,
Her eddying robe in the wind!
Are her fair feet bending the grasses?
Her hair is half lifted behind!


Shall I stay to look on her nearer?
Would she start and vanish away?
No, no; she will never see me,
If I stand as near as I may!

It is not this wind she is feeling,
Not this cool grass below;
'Tis the wind and the grass of an evening
A hundred years ago.

She sees no roses darkling,
No stately hollyhocks dim;
She is only thinking and dreaming
Of the garden, the night, and him;

Of the unlit windows behind her,
Of the timeless dial-stone,
Of the trees, and the moon, and the shadows,
A hundred years agone.

'Tis a night for all ghostly lovers
To haunt the best-loved spot:
Is he come in his dreams to this garden?
I gaze, but I see him not.


I will not look on her nearer--
My heart would be torn in twain;
>From mine eyes the garden would vanish
In the falling of their rain!

I will not look on a sorrow
That darkens into despair;
On the surge of a heart that cannot--
Yet cannot cease to bear!

My soul to hers would be calling--
She would hear no word it said;
If I cried aloud in the stillness,
She would never turn her head!

She is dreaming the sky above her,
She is dreaming the earth below:--
This night she lost her lover,
A hundred years ago.



The twilight had fallen while he wrote, and the wind had risen. It
was now blowing a gale. When he could no longer see, he rose to
light his lamp, and looked out of the window. All was dusk around
him. Above and below was nothing to be distinguished from the mass;
nothing and something seemed in it to share an equal uncertainty. He
heard the wind, but could not see the clouds that swept before it,
for all was cloud overhead, and no change of light or feature showed
the shifting of the measureless bulk. Gray stormy space was the
whole idea of the creation. He was gazing into a void--was it not
rather a condition of things inappreciable by his senses? A strange
feeling came over him as of looking from a window in the wall of the
visible into the region unknown, to man shapeless quite, therefore
terrible, wherein wander the things all that have not yet found or
form or sensible embodiment, so as to manifest themselves to eyes or
ears or hands of mortals. As he gazed, the huge shapeless hulks of
the ships of chaos, dimly awful suggestions of animals uncreate, yet
vaguer motions of what was not, came heaving up, to vanish, even
from the fancy, as they approached his window. Earth lay far below,
invisible; only through the night came the moaning of the sea, as
the wind drove it, in still enlarging waves, upon the flat shore, a
level of doubtful grass and sand, three miles away. It seemed to his
heart as if the moaning were the voice of the darkness, lamenting,
like a repentant Satan or Judas, that it was not the light, could
not hold the light, might not become as the light, but must that
moment cease when the light began to enter it. Darkness and moaning
was all that the earth contained! Would the souls of the mariners
shipwrecked this night go forth into the ceaseless turmoil? or would
they, leaving behind them the sense for storms, as for all things
soft and sweet as well, enter only a vast silence, where was nothing
to be aware of but each solitary self? Thoughts and theories many
passed through Donal's mind as he sought to land the conceivable
from the wandering bosom of the limitless; and he was just arriving
at the conclusion, that, as all things seen must be after the
fashion of the unseen whence they come, as the very genius of
embodiment is likeness, therefore the soul of man must of course
have natural relations with matter; but, on the other hand, as the
spirit must be the home and origin of all this moulding,
assimilating, modelling energy, and the spirit only that is in
harmonious oneness with its origin can fully exercise the deputed
creative power, it can be only in proportion to the eternal life in
them, that spirits are able to draw to themselves matter and clothe
themselves in it, so entering into full relation with the world of
storms and sunsets;--he was, I say, just arriving at this hazarded
conclusion, when he started out of his reverie, and was suddenly all
ear to listen.--Again!--Yes! it was the same sound that had sent him
that first night wandering through the house in fruitless quest! It
came in two or three fitful chords that melted into each other like
the colours in the lining of a shell, then ceased. He went to the
door, opened it, and listened. A cold wind came rushing up the
stair. He heard nothing. He stepped out on the stair, shut his door,
and listened. It came again--a strange unearthly musical cry! If
ever disembodied sound went wandering in the wind, just such a sound
must it be! Knowing little of music save in the forms of tone and
vowel-change and rhythm and rime, he felt as if he could have
listened for ever to the wild wandering sweetness of its
lamentation. Almost immediately it ceased--then once more came
again, apparently from far off, dying away on the distant tops of
the billowy air, out of whose wandering bosom it had first issued.
It was as the wailing of a summer-wind caught and swept along in a
tempest from the frozen north.

The moment he ceased to expect it any more, he began to think
whether it must not have come from the house. He stole down the
stair--to do what, he did not know. He could not go following an
airy nothing all over the castle: of a great part of it he as yet
knew nothing! His constructive mind had yearned after a complete
idea of the building, for it was almost a passion with him to fit
the outsides and insides of things together; but there were suites
of rooms into which, except the earl and lady Arctura were to leave
home, he could not hope to enter. It was little more than
mechanically therefore that he went vaguely after the sound; and ere
he was half-way down the stair, he recognized the hopelessness of
the pursuit. He went on, however, to the schoolroom, where tea was
waiting him.

He had returned to his room, and was sitting again at work, now
reading and meditating, when, in one of the lulls of the storm, he
became aware of another sound--one most unusual to his ears, for he
never required any attendance in his room--that of steps coming up
the stair--heavy steps, not as of one on some ordinary errand. He
waited listening. The steps came nearer and nearer, and stopped at
his door. A hand fumbled about upon it, found the latch, lifted it,
and entered. To Donal's wonder--and dismay as well, it was the earl.
His dismay arose from his appearance: he was deadly pale, and his
eyes more like those of a corpse than a man among his living
fellows. Donal started to his feet.

The apparition turned its head towards him; but in its look was no
atom of recognition, no acknowledgment or even perception of his
presence; the sound of his rising had had merely a half-mechanical
influence upon its brain. It turned away immediately, and went on to
the window. There it stood, much as Donal had stood a little while
before--looking out, but with the attitude of one listening rather
than one trying to see. There was indeed nothing but the blackness
to be seen--and nothing to be heard but the roaring of the wind,
with the roaring of the great billows rolled along in it. As it
stood, the time to Donal seemed long: it was but about five minutes.
Was the man out of his mind, or only a sleep-walker? How could he be
asleep so early in the night?

As Donal stood doubting and wondering, once more came the musical
cry out of the darkness--and immediately from the earl a response--a
soft, low murmur, by degrees becoming audible, in the tone of one
meditating aloud, but in a restrained ecstacy. From his words he
seemed still to be hearkening the sounds aerial, though to Donal at
least they came no more.

"Yet once again," he murmured, "once again ere I forsake the flesh,
are my ears blest with that voice! It is the song of the eternal
woman! For me she sings!--Sing on, siren; my soul is a listening
universe, and therein nought but thy voice!"

He paused, and began afresh:--

"It is the wind in the tree of life! Its leaves rustle in words of
love. Under its shadow I shall lie, with her I loved--and killed!
Ere that day come, she will have forgiven and forgotten, and all
will be well!

"Hark the notes! Clear as a flute! Full and stringent as a violin!
They are colours! They are flowers! They are alive! I can see them
as they grow, as they blow! Those are primroses! Those are
pimpernels! Those high, intense, burning tones--so soft, yet so
certain--what are they? Jasmine?--No, that flower is not a note! It
is a chord!--and what a chord! I mean, what a flower! I never saw
that flower before--never on this earth! It must be a flower of the
paradise whence comes the music! It is! It is! Do I not remember the
night when I sailed in the great ship over the ocean of the stars,
and scented the airs of heaven, and saw the pearly gates gleaming
across myriads of wavering miles!--saw, plain as I see them now, the
flowers on the fields within! Ah, me! the dragon that guards the
golden apples! See his crest--his crest and his emerald eyes! He
comes floating up through the murky lake! It is Geryon!--come to
bear me to the gyre below!"

He turned, and with a somewhat quickened step left the room, hastily
shutting the door behind him, as if to keep back the creature of his

Strong-hearted and strong-brained, Donal had yet stood absorbed as
if he too were out of the body, and knew nothing more of this earth.
There is something more terrible in a presence that is not a
presence than in a vision of the bodiless; that is, a present ghost
is not so terrible as an absent one, a present but deserted body. He
stood a moment helpless, then pulled himself together and tried to
think. What should he do? What could he do? What was required of
him? Was anything required of him? Had he any right to do anything?
Could anything be done that would not both be and cause a wrong? His
first impulse was to follow: a man in such a condition was surely
not to be left to go whither he would among the heights and depths
of the castle, where he might break his neck any moment!
Interference no doubt was dangerous, but he would follow him at
least a little way! He heard the steps going down the stair, and
made haste after them. But ere they could have reached the bottom,
the sound of them ceased; and Donal knew the earl must have left the
stair at a point from which he could not follow him.



He would gladly have told his friend the cobbler all about the
strange occurrence; but he did not feel sure it would be right to
carry a report of the house where he held a position of trust; and
what made him doubtful was, that first he doubted whether the
cobbler would consider it right. But he went to see him the next
day, in the desire to be near the only man to whom it was possible
he might tell what he had seen.

The moment he entered the room, where the cobbler as usual sat at
work by his wife, he saw that something was the matter. But they
welcomed him with their usual cordiality, nor was it many minutes
before mistress Comin made him acquainted with the cause of their

"We're jist a wee triblet, sir," she said, "aboot Eppy!"

"I am very sorry," said Donal, with a pang: he had thought things
were going right with her. "What is the matter?"

"It's no sae easy to say!" returned the grandmother. "It may weel be
only a fancy o' the auld fowk, but it seems to baith o' 's she has a
w'y wi' her 'at disna come o' the richt. She'll be that meek as gien
she thoucht naething at a' o' hersel', an' the next moment be angert
at a word. She canna bide a syllable said 'at 's no correc' to the
verra hair. It's as gien she dreidit waur 'ahint it, an' wud mairch
straucht to the defence. I'm no makin' my meanin' that clear, I
doobt; but ye'll ken 't for a' that!"

"I think I do," said Donal. "--I see nothing of her."

"I wudna mak a won'er o' that, sir! She may weel haud oot o' your
gait, feelin' rebukit 'afore ane 'at kens a' aboot her gaein's on
wi' my lord!"

"I don't know how I should see her, though!" returned Donal.

"Didna she sweep oot the schoolroom first whan ye gaed, sir?"

"When I think of it--yes."

"Does she still that same?"

"I do not know. Understanding at what hour in the morning the room
will be ready for me, I do not go to it sooner."

"It's but the luik, an' the general cairriage o' the lassie!" said
the old woman. "Gien we had onything to tak a haud o', we wad maybe
think the less. True, she was aye some--what ye micht ca' a bit
cheengeable in her w'ys; but she was aye, whan she had the chance,
unco' willin' to gie her faither there or mysel' a spark o'
glaidness like. It pleased her to be pleasin' i' the eyes o' the
auld fowk, though they war but her ain. But noo we maunna say a word
til her. We hae nae business to luik til her for naething! No 'at
she's aye like that; but it comes sae aft 'at at last we daur hardly
open oor moo's for the fear o' hoo she'll tak it. Only a' the time
it's mair as gien she was flingin' something frae her, something she
didna like an' wud fain be rid o', than 'at she cared sae verra
muckle aboot onything we said no til her min'. She taks a haud o'
the words, no doobt! but I canna help thinkin' 'at 'maist whatever
we said, it wud be the same. Something to compleen o' 's never
wantin' whan ye're ill-pleast a'ready!"

"It's no the duin' o' the richt, ye see," said the cobbler, "--I
mean, that's no itsel' the en', but the richt humour o' the sowl
towards a' things thoucht or felt or dune! That's richteousness, an'
oot o' that comes, o' the verra necessity o' natur', a' richt deeds
o' whatever kin'. Whaur they comena furth, it's whaur the sowl, the
thoucht o' the man 's no richt. Oor puir lassie shaws a' mainner o'
sma' infirmities jist 'cause the humour o' her sowl 's no hermonious
wi' the trowth, no hermonious in itsel', no at ane wi' the true
thing--wi' the true man--wi' the true God. It may even be said it's
a sma' thing 'at a man sud du wrang, sae lang as he's capable o'
duin' wrang, an' lovesna the richt wi' hert an' sowl. But eh, it's
no a sma' thing 'at he sud be capable!"

"Surely, Anerew," interposed his wife, holding up her hands in mild
deprecation, "ye wudna lat the lassie du wrang gien ye could haud
her richt?"

"No, I wudna," replied her husband, "--supposin' the haudin' o' her
richt to fa' in wi' ony degree o' perception o' the richt on her
pairt. But supposin' it was only the haudin' o' her frae ill by
ootward constraint, leavin' her ready upo' the first opportunity to
turn aside; whereas, gien she had dune wrang, she wud repent o' 't,
an' see what a foul thing it was to gang again' the holy wull o' him
'at made an' dee'd for her--I lea' ye to jeedge for yersel' what ony
man 'at luved God an' luved the lass an' luved the richt, wud
chuise. We maun haud baith een open upo' the trowth, an' no blink
sidewise upo' the warl' an' its richteousness wi' ane o' them. Wha
wadna be Zacchay wi' the Lord in his hoose, an' the richteousness o'
God himsel' growin' in his hert, raither nor the prood Pharisee wha
kent nae ill he was duin', an' thoucht it a shame to speak to sic a
man as Zacchay!"

The grandmother held her peace, thinking probably that so long as
one kept respectable, there remained the more likelihood of a
spiritual change.

"Is there anything you think I could do?" asked Donal. "I confess
I'm afraid of meddling."

"I wudna hae you appear, sir," said Andrew, "in onything, concernin'
her. Ye're a yoong man yersel', an' fowk's herts as well as fowk's
tongues are no to be lippent til. I hae seen fowk, 'cause they
couldna believe a body duin' a thing frae a sma' modicum o' gude
wull, set themsel's to invent what they ca'd a motive til accoont
for't--something, that is, that wud hae prevailt wi' themsel's to
gar them du't. Sic fowk canna un'erstan' a body duin' onything jist
'cause it was worth duin' in itsel'!"

"But maybe," said the old woman, returning to the practical, "as ye
hae been pleased to say ye're on freen'ly terms wi' mistress
Brookes, ye micht jist see gien she 's observed ony ten'ency to
resumption o' the auld affair!"

Donal promised, and as soon as he reached the castle sought an
interview with the house keeper. She told him she had been
particularly pleased of late with Eppy's attention to her work, and
readiness to make herself useful. If she did look sometimes a little
out of heart, they must remember, she said, that they had been young
themselves once, and that it was not so easy to forget as to give
up. But she would keep her eyes open!



The winter came at last in good earnest--first black frost, then
white snow, then sleet and wind and rain; then snow again, which
fell steady and calm, and lay thick. After that came hard frost, and
brought plenty of skating, and to Davie the delight of teaching his
master. Donal had many falls, but was soon, partly in virtue of
those same falls, a very decent skater. Davie claimed all the merit
of his successful training; and when his master did anything
particularly well, would remark with pride, that he had taught him.
But the good thing in it for Davie was, that he noted the immediate
faith with which Donal did or tried to do what he told him: this
reacted in opening his mind to the beauty and dignity of obedience,
and went a long way towards revealing the low moral condition of the
man who seeks freedom through refusal to act at the will of another.
He who does so will come by degrees to have no will of his own, and
act only from impulse--which may be the will of a devil. So Donal
and Davie grew together into one heart of friendship. Donal never
longed for his hours with Davie to pass, and Davie was never so
happy as when with Donal. The one was gently leading the other into
the paths of liberty. Nothing but the teaching of him who made the
human soul can make that soul free, but it is in great measure
through those who have already learned that he teaches; and Davie
was an apt pupil, promising to need less of the discipline of
failure and pain that he was strong to believe, and ready to obey.

But Donal was not all the day with Davie, and latterly had begun to
feel a little anxious about the time the boy spent away from
him--partly with his brother, partly with the people about the
stable, and partly with his father, who evidently found the presence
of his younger son less irksome to him than that of any other
person, and saw more of him than of Forgue: the amount of loneliness
the earl could endure was amazing. But after what he had seen and
heard, Donal was most anxious concerning his time with his father,
only he felt it a delicate thing to ask him about it. At length,
however, Davie himself opened up the matter.

"Mr. Grant," he said one day, "I wish you could hear the grand
fairy-stories my papa tells!"

"I wish I might!" answered Donal.

"I will ask him to let you come and hear. I have told him you can
make fairy-tales too; only he has quite another way of doing
it;--and I must confess," added Davie a little pompously, "I do not
follow him so easily as you.--Besides," he added, "I never can find
anything in what you call the cupboard behind the curtain of the
story. I wonder sometimes if his stories have any cupboard!--I will
ask him to-day to let you come."

"I think that would hardly do," said Donal. "Your father likes to
tell his boy fairy-tales, but he might not care to tell them to a
man. You must remember, too, that though I have been in the house
what you think a long time, your father has seen very little of me,
and might feel me in the way: invalids do not generally enjoy the
company of strangers. You had better not ask him."

"But I have often told him how good you are, Mr. Grant, and how you
can't bear anything that is not right, and I am sure he must like
you--I don't mean so well as I do, because you haven't to teach him
anything, and nobody can love anybody so well as the one he teaches
to be good."

"Still I think you had better leave it alone lest he should not like
your asking him. I should be sorry to have you disappointed."

"I do not mind that so much as I used. If you do not tell me I am
not to do it, I think I will venture."

Donal said no more. He did not feel at liberty, from his own feeling
merely, to check the boy. The thing was not wrong, and something
might be intended to come out of it! He shrank from the least ruling
of events, believing man's only call to action is duty. So he left
Davie to do as he pleased.

"Does your father often tell you a fairy-tale?" he asked.

"Not every day, sir."

"What time does he tell them?"

"Generally when I go to him after tea."

"Do you go any time you like?"

"Yes; but he does not always let me stay. Sometimes he talks about
mamma, I think; but only coming into the fairy-tale.--He has told me
one in the middle of the day! I think he would if I woke him up in
the night! But that would not do, for he has terrible headaches.
Perhaps that is what sometimes makes his stories so terrible I have
to beg him to stop!"

"And does he stop?"

"Well--no--I don't think he ever does.--When a story is once begun,
I suppose it ought to be finished!"

So the matter rested for the time. But about a week after, Donal
received one morning through the butler an invitation to dine with
the earl, and concluded it was due to Davie, whom he therefore
expected to find with his father. He put on his best clothes, and
followed Simmons up the grand staircase. The great rooms of the
castle were on the first floor, but he passed the entrance to them,
following his guide up and up to the second floor, where the earl
had his own apartment. Here he was shown into a small room, richly
furnished after a sombrely ornate fashion, the drapery and coverings
much faded, worn even to shabbiness. It had been for a century or so
the private sitting-room of the lady of the castle, but was now used
by the earl, perhaps in memory of his wife. Here he received his
sons, and now Donal, but never any whom business or politeness
compelled him to see.

There was no one in the room when Donal entered, but after about ten
minutes a door opened at the further end, and lord Morven appearing
from his bedroom, shook hands with him with some faint show of
kindness. Almost the same moment the butler entered from a third
door, and said dinner waited. The earl walked on, and Donal
followed. This room also was a small one. The meal was laid on a
little round table. There were but two covers, and Simmons alone was
in waiting.

While they ate and drank, which his lordship did sparingly, not a
word was spoken. Donal would have found it embarrassing had he not
been prepared for the peculiar. His lordship took no notice of his
guest, leaving him to the care of the butler. He looked very white
and worn--Donal thought a good deal worse than when he saw him
first. His cheeks were more sunken, his hair more gray, and his eyes
more weary--with a consuming fire in them that had no longer much
fuel and was burning remnants. He stooped over his plate as if to
hide the operation of eating, and drank his wine with a trembling
hand. Every movement indicated indifference to both his food and his

At length the more solid part of the meal was removed, and they were
left alone, fruit upon the table, and two wine-decanters. From one
of them the earl helped himself, then passed it to Donal, saying,

"You are very good to my little Davie, Mr. Grant! He is full of your
kindness to him. There is nobody like you!"

"A little goes a long way with Davie, my lord," answered Donal.

"Then much must go a longer way!" said the earl.

There was nothing remarkable in the words, yet he spoke them with
the difficulty a man accustomed to speak, and to weigh his words,
might find in clothing a new thought to his satisfaction. The effort
seemed to have tried him, and he took a sip of wine. This, however,
he did after every briefest sentence he uttered: a sip only he took,
nothing like a mouthful.

Donal told him that Davie, of all the boys he had known, was far the
quickest, and that just because he was morally the most teachable.

"You greatly gratify me, Mr. Grant," said the earl. "I have long
wished such a man as you for Davie. If only I had known you when
Forgue was preparing for college!"

"I must have been at that time only at college myself, my lord!"

"True! true!"

"But for Davie, it is a privilege to teach him!"

"If only it might last a while!" returned the earl. "But of course
you have the church in your eye!"

"My lord, I have not."

"What!" cried his lordship almost eagerly; "you intend giving your
life to teaching?"

"My lord," returned Donal, "I never trouble myself about my life.
Why should we burden the mule of the present with the camel-load of
the future. I take what comes--what is sent me, that is."

"You are right, Mr. Grant! If I were in your position, I should
think just as you do. But, alas, I have never had any choice!"

"Perhaps your lordship has not chosen to choose!" Donal was on the
point of saying, but bethought himself in time not to hazard the

"If I were a rich man, Mr. Grant," the earl continued, "I would
secure your services for a time indefinite; but, as every one knows,
not an acre of the property belongs to me, or goes with the title.
Davie, dear boy, will have nothing but a thousand or two. The
marriage I have in view for lord Forgue will arrange a future for

"I hope there will be some love in the marriage!" said Donal
uneasily, with a vague thought of Eppy.

"I had no intention," returned his lordship with cold politeness,
"of troubling you concerning lord Forgue!"

"I beg your pardon, my lord," said Donal.

"--Davie, poor boy--he is my anxiety!" resumed the earl, in his
former condescendingly friendly, half sleepy tone. "What to do with
him, I have not yet succeeded in determining. If the church of
Scotland were episcopal now, we might put him into that: he would be
an honour to it! But as it has no dignities to confer, it is not the
place for one of his birth and social position. A few shabby
hundreds a year, and the associations he would necessarily be thrown
into!--However honourable the profession in itself!" he added, with
a bow to Donal, apparently unable to get it out of his head that he
had an embryo-clergyman before him.

"Davie is not quite a man yet," said Donal; "and by the time he
begins to think of a profession, he will, I trust, be fit to make a
choice: the boy has a great deal of common sense. If your lordship
will pardon me, I cannot help thinking there is no need to trouble
about him."

"It is very well for one in your position to think in that way, Mr.
Grant! Men like you are free to choose; you may make your bread as
you please. But men in our position are greatly limited in their
choice; the paths open to them are few. Tradition oppresses us. We
are slaves to the dead and buried. I could well wish I had been born
in your humbler but in truth less contracted sphere. Certain rôles
are not open to you, to be sure; but your life in the open air,
following your sheep, and dreaming all things beautiful and grand in
the world beyond you, is entrancing. It is the life to make a poet!"

"Or a king!" thought Donal. "But the earl would have made a
discontented shepherd!"

The man who is not content where he is, would never have been
content somewhere else, though he might have complained less.

"Take another glass of wine, Mr. Grant," said his lordship, filling
his own from the other decanter. "Try this; I believe you will like
it better."

"In truth, my lord," answered Donal, "I have drunk so little wine
that I do not know one sort from another."

"You know whisky better, I daresay! Would you like some now? Touch
the bell behind you."

"No, thank you, my lord; I know as little about whisky: my mother
would never let us even taste it, and I have never tasted it."

"A new taste is a gain to the being."

"I suspect, however, a new appetite can only be a loss."

As he said this, Donal, half mechanically, filled a glass from the
decanter his host had pushed towards him.

"I should like you, though," resumed his lordship, after a short
pause, "to keep your eyes open to the fact that Davie must do
something for himself. You would then be able to let me know by and
by what you think him fit for!"

"I will with pleasure, my lord. Tastes may not be infallible guides
to what is fit for us, but they may lead us to the knowledge of what
we are fit for."

"Extremely well said!" returned the earl.

I do not think he understood in the least what Donal meant.

"Shall I try how he takes to trigonometry? He might care to learn
land-surveying! Gentlemen now, not unfrequently, take charge of the
properties of their more favoured relatives. There is Mr. Graeme,
your own factor, my lord--a relative, I understand!"

"A distant one," answered his lordship with marked coldness, "--the
degree of relationship hardly to be counted."

"In the lowlands, my lord, you do not care to count kin as we do in
the highlands! My heart warms to the word kinsman."

"You have not found kinship so awkward as I, possibly!" said his
lordship, with a watery smile. "The man in humble position may allow
the claim of kin to any extent: he has nothing, therefore nothing
can be taken from him! But the man who has would be the poorest of
the clan if he gave to every needy relation."

"I never knew the man so poor," answered Donal, "that he had nothing
to give. But the things of the poor are hardly to the purpose of the
predatory relative."

"'Predatory relative!'--a good phrase!" said his lordship, with a
sleepy laugh, though his eyes were wide open. His lips did not seem
to care to move, yet he looked pleased. "To tell you the truth," he
began again, "at one period of my history I gave and gave till I was
tired of giving! Ingratitude was the sole return. At one period I
had large possessions--larger than I like to think of now: if I had
the tenth part of what I have given away, I should not be uneasy
concerning Davie."

"There is no fear of Davie, my lord, so long as he is brought up
with the idea that he must work for his bread."

His lordship made no answer, and his look reminded Donal of that he
wore when he came to his chamber. A moment, and he rose and began to
pace the room. An indescribable suggestion of an invisible yet
luminous cloud hovered about his forehead and eyes--which latter, if
not fixed on very vacancy, seemed to have got somewhere near it. At
the fourth or fifth turn he opened the door by which he had entered,
continuing a remark he had begun to Donal--of which, although he
heard every word and seemed on the point of understanding something,
he had not caught the sense when his lordship disappeared, still
talking. Donal thought it therefore his part to follow him, and
found himself in his lordship's bedroom. But out of this his
lordship had already gone, through an opposite door, and Donal still
following entered an old picture-gallery, of which he had heard
Davie speak, but which the earl kept private for his exercise
indoors. It was a long, narrow place, hardly more than a wide
corridor, and appeared nowhere to afford distance enough for seeing
a picture. But Donal could ill judge, for the sole light in the
place came from the fires and candles in the rooms whose doors they
had left open behind them, with just a faint glimmer from the
vapour-buried moon, sufficing to show the outline of window after
window, and revealing something of the great length of the gallery.

By the time Donal overtook the earl, he was some distance down,
holding straight on into the long dusk, and still talking.

"This is my favourite promenade," he said, as if brought to himself
by the sound of Donal's overtaking steps. "After dinner always, Mr.
Grant, wet weather or dry, still or stormy, I walk here. What do I
care for the weather! It will be time when I am old to consult the

Donal wondered a little: there seemed no great hardihood in the
worst of weather to go pacing a picture-gallery, where the fiercest
storm that ever blew could send in only little threads of air
through the chinks of windows and doors!

"Yes," his lordship went on, "I taught myself hardship in my
boyhood, and I reap the fruits of it in my prime!--Come up here: I
will show you a prospect unequalled."

He stopped in front of a large picture, and began to talk as if
expatiating on the points of a landscape outspread before him. His
remarks belonged to something magnificent; but whether they were
applicable to the picture Donal could not tell; there was light
enough only to give a faint gleam to its gilded frame.

"Reach beyond reach!" said his lordship; "endless! infinite! How
would not poor Maldon, with his ever fresh ambition after the
unattainable, have gloated on such a scene! In Nature alone you
front success! She does what she means! She alone does what she

"If," said Donal, more for the sake of confirming the earl's
impression that he had a listener, than from any idea that he would
listen--"if you mean the object of Nature is to present us with
perfection, I cannot allow she does what she intends: you rarely see
her produce anything she would herself call perfect. But if her
object be to make us behold perfection with the inner eye, this
object she certainly does gain, and that just by stopping short

He did not finish the sentence. A sudden change was upon him,
absorbing him so that he did not even try to account for it:
something seemed to give way in his head--as if a bubble burst in
his brain; and from that moment whatever the earl said, and whatever
arose in his own mind, seemed to have outward existence as well. He
heard and knew the voice of his host, but seemed also in some
inexplicable way, which at the time occasioned him no surprise, to
see the things which had their origin in the brain of the earl.
Whether he went in very deed out with him into the night, he did not
know--he felt as if he had gone, and thought he had not--but when he
woke the next morning in his bed at the top of the tower, which he
had no recollection of climbing, he was as weary as if he had been
walking the night through.



His first thought was of a long and delightful journey he had made
on horseback with the earl--through scenes of entrancing interest
and variety,--with the present result of a strange weariness, almost
misery. What had befallen him? Was the thing a fact or a fancy? If a
fancy, how was he so weary? If a fact, how could it have been? Had
he in any way been the earl's companion through such a long night as
it seemed? Could they have visited all the places whose remembrance
lingered in his brain? He was so confused, so bewildered, so haunted
with a shadowy uneasiness almost like remorse, that he even dreaded
the discovery of the cause of it all. Might a man so lose hold of
himself as to be no more certain he had ever possessed or could ever
possess himself again?

He bethought himself at last that he might perhaps have taken more
wine than his head could stand. Yet he remembered leaving his glass
unemptied to follow the earl; and it was some time after that before
the change came! Could it have been drunkenness? Had it been slowly
coming without his knowing it? He could hardly believe it? But
whatever it was, it had left him unhappy, almost ashamed. What would
the earl think of him? He must have concluded him unfit any longer
to keep charge of his son! For his own part he did not feel he was
to blame, but rather that an accident had befallen him. Whence then
this sense of something akin to shame? Why should he be ashamed of
anything coming upon him from without? Of that shame he had to be
ashamed, as of a lack of faith in God! Would God leave his creature
who trusted in him at the mercy of a chance--of a glass of wine
taken in ignorance? There was a thing to be ashamed of, and with
good cause!

He got up, found to his dismay that it was almost ten o'clock--his
hour for rising in winter being six--dressed in haste, and went
down, wondering that Davie had not come to see after him.

In the schoolroom he found him waiting for him. The boy sprang up,
and darted to meet him.

"I hope you are better, Mr. Grant!" he said. "I am so glad you are
able to be down!"

"I am quite well," answered Donal. "I can't think what made me sleep
so long? Why didn't you come and wake me, Davie, my boy?"

"Because Simmons told me you were ill, and I must not disturb you if
you were ever so late in coming down."

"I hardly deserve any breakfast!" said Donal, turning to the table;
"but if you will stand by me, and read while I take my coffee, we
shall save a little time so."

"Yes, sir.--But your coffee must be quite cold! I will ring."

"No, no; I must not waste any more time. A man who cannot drink cold
coffee ought to come down while it is hot."

"Forgue won't drink cold coffee!" said Davie: "I don't see why you

"Because I prefer to do with my coffee as I please; I will not have
hot coffee for my master. I won't have it anything to me what humour
the coffee may be in. I will be Donal Grant, whether the coffee be
cold or hot. A bit of practical philosophy for you, Davie!"

"I think I understand you, sir: you would not have a man make a fuss
about a trifle."

"Not about a real trifle. The co-relative of a trifle, Davie, is a
smile. But I would take heed whether the thing that is called a
trifle be really a trifle. Besides, there may be a point in a trifle
that is the egg of an ought. It is a trifle whether this or that is
nice; it is a point that I should not care. With us highlanders it
is a point of breeding not to mind what sort of dinner we have, but
to eat as heartily of bread and cheese as of roast beef. At least so
my father and mother used to teach me, though I fear that refinement
of good manners is going out of fashion even with highlanders."

"It is good manners!" rejoined Davie with decision, "--and more than
good manners! I should count it grand not to care what kind of
dinner I had. But I am afraid it is more than I shall ever come to!"

"You will never come to it by trying because you think it grand.
Only mind, I did not say we were not to enjoy our roast beef more
than our bread and cheese; that would be not to discriminate, where
there is a difference. If bread and cheese were just as good to us
as roast beef, there would be no victory in our contentment."

"I see!" said Davie.--"Wouldn't it be well," he asked, after a
moment's pause, "to put one's self in training, Mr. Grant, to do
without things--or at least to be able to do without them?"

"It is much better to do the lessons set you by one who knows how to
teach, than to pick lessons for yourself out of your books. Davie, I
have not that confidence in myself to think I should be a good
teacher of myself."

"But you are a good teacher of me, sir!"

"I try--but then I'm set to teach you, and I am not set to teach
myself: I am only set to make myself do what I am taught. When you
are my teacher, Davie, I try--don't I--to do everything you tell

"Yes, indeed, sir!"

"But I am not set to obey myself!"

"No, nor anyone else, sir! You do not need to obey anyone, or have
anyone teach you, sir!"

"Oh, don't I, Davie! On the contrary, I could not get on for one
solitary moment without somebody to teach me. Look you here, Davie:
I have so many lessons given me, that I have no time or need to add
to them any of my own. If you were to ask the cook to let you have a
cold dinner, you would perhaps eat it with pride, and take credit
for what your hunger yet made quite agreeable to you. But the boy
who does not grumble when he is told not to go out because it is
raining and he has a cold, will not perhaps grumble either should he
happen to find his dinner not at all nice."

Davie hung his head. It had been a very small grumble, but there are
no sins for which there is less reason or less excuse than small
ones: in no sense are they worth committing. And we grown people
commit many more such than little children, and have our reward in
childishness instead of childlikeness.

"It is so easy," continued Donal, "to do the thing we ordain
ourselves, for in holding to it we make ourselves out fine
fellows!--and that is such a mean kind of thing! Then when another
who has the right, lays a thing upon us, we grumble--though it be
the truest and kindest thing, and the most reasonable and needful
for us--even for our dignity--for our being worth anything! Depend
upon it, Davie, to do what we are told is a far grander thing than
to lay the severest rules upon ourselves--ay, and to stick to them,

"But might there not be something good for us to do that we were not
told of?"

"Whoever does the thing he is told to do--the thing, that is, that
has a plain ought in it, will become satisfied that there is one who
will not forget to tell him what must be done as soon as he is fit
to do it."

The conversation lasted only while Donal ate his breakfast, with the
little fellow standing beside him; it was soon over, but not soon to
be forgotten. For the readiness of the boy to do what his master
told him, was beautiful--and a great help and comfort, sometimes a
rousing rebuke to his master, whose thoughts would yet occasionally
tumble into one of the pitfalls of sorrow.

"What!" he would say to himself, "am I so believed in by this child,
that he goes at once to do my words, and shall I for a moment doubt
the heart of the Father, or his power or will to set right whatever
may have seemed to go wrong with his child!--Go on, Davie! You are a
good boy; I will be a better man!"

But naturally, as soon as lessons were over, he fell again to
thinking what could have befallen him the night before. At what
point did the aberration begin? The earl must have taken notice of
it, for surely Simmons had not given Davie those injunctions of
himself--except indeed he had exposed his condition even to him! If
the earl had spoken to Simmons, kindness seemed intended him; but it
might have been merely care over the boy! Anyhow, what was to be

He did not ponder the matter long. With that directness which was
one of the most marked features of his nature, he resolved at once
to request an interview with the earl, and make his apologies. He
sought Simmons, therefore, and found him in the pantry rubbing up
the forks and spoons.

"Ah, Mr. Grant," he said, before Donal could speak, "I was just
coming to you with a message from his lordship! He wants to see

"And I came to you," replied Donal, "to say I wanted to see his

"That's well fitted, then, sir!" returned Simmons. "I will go and
see when. His lordship is not up, nor likely to be for some hours
yet; he is in one of his low fits this morning. He told me you were
not quite yourself last night."

As he spoke his red nose seemed to examine Donal's face with a
kindly, but not altogether sympathetic scrutiny.

"The fact is, Simmons," answered Donal, "not being used to wine, I
fear I drank more of his lordship's than was good for me."

"His lordship's wine," murmured Simmons, and there checked himself.
"--How much did you drink, sir--if I may make so bold?"

"I had one glass during dinner, and more than one, but not nearly
two, after."

"Pooh! pooh, sir! That could never hurt a strong man like you! You
ought to know better than that! Look at me!"

But he did not go on with his illustration.

"Tut!" he resumed, "that make you sleep till ten o'clock!--If you
will kindly wait in the hall, or in the schoolroom, I will bring you
his lordship's orders."

So saying while he washed his hands and took off his white apron,
Simmons departed on his errand to his master. Donal went to the foot
of the grand staircase, and there waited.

As he stood he heard a light step above him, and involuntarily
glancing up, saw the light shape of lady Arctura come round the
curve of the spiral stair, descending rather slowly and very softly,
as if her feet were thinking. She checked herself for an
infinitesimal moment, then moved on again. Donal stood with bended
head as she passed. If she acknowledged his obeisance it was with
the slightest return, but she lifted her eyes to his face with a
look that seemed to have in it a strange wistful trouble--not very
marked, yet notable. She passed on and vanished, leaving that look a
lingering presence in Donal's thought. What was it? Was it anything?
What could it mean? Had he really seen it? Was it there, or had he
only imagined it?

Simmons kept him waiting a good while. He had found his lordship
getting up, and had had to stay to help him dress. At length he
came, excusing himself that his lordship's temper at such
times--that was, in his dumpy fits--was not of the evenest, and
required a gentle hand. But his lordship would see him--and could
Mr. Grant find the way himself, for his old bones ached with running
up and down those endless stone steps? Donal answered he knew the
way, and sprang up the stair.

But his mind was more occupied with the coming interview than with
the way to it, which caused him to take a wrong turn after leaving
the stair: he had a good gift in space-relations, but instinct was
here not so keen as on a hill-side. The consequence was that he
found himself in the picture-gallery.

A strange feeling of pain, as at the presence of a condition he did
not wish to encourage, awoke in him at the discovery. He walked
along, however, thus taking, he thought, the readiest way to his
lordship's apartment: either he would find him in his bedroom, or
could go through that to his sitting-room! He glanced at the
pictures he passed, and seemed, strange to say, though, so far as he
knew, he had never been in the place except in the dark, to
recognize some of them as belonging to the stuff of the dream in
which he had been wandering through the night--only that was a
glowing and gorgeous dream, whereas the pictures were even
commonplace! Here was something to be meditated upon--but for the
present postponed! His lordship was expecting him!

Arrived, as he thought, at the door of the earl's bedroom, he
knocked, and receiving no answer, opened it, and found himself in a
narrow passage. Nearly opposite was another door, partly open, and
hearing a movement within, he ventured to knock there. A voice he
knew at once to be lady Arctura's, invited him to enter. It was an
old, lovely, gloomy little room, in which sat the lady writing. It
had but one low lattice-window, to the west, but a fire blazed
cheerfully in the old-fashioned grate. She looked up, nor showed
more surprise than if he had been a servant she had rung for.

"I beg your pardon, my lady," he said: "my lord wished to see me,
but I have lost my way."

"I will show it you," she answered, and rising came to him.

She led him along the winding narrow passage, pointed out to him the
door of his lordship's sitting-room, and turned away--again, Donal
could not help thinking, with a look as of some anxiety about him.

He knocked, and the voice of the earl bade him enter.

His lordship was in his dressing-gown, on a couch of faded satin of
a gold colour, against which his pale yellow face looked cadaverous.

"Good morning, Mr. Grant," he said. "I am glad to see you better!"

"I thank you, my lord," returned Donal. "I have to make an apology.
I cannot understand how it was, except, perhaps, that, being so
little accustomed to strong drink,--"

"There is not the smallest occasion to say a word," interrupted his
lordship. "You did not once forget yourself, or cease to behave like
a gentleman!"

"Your lordship is very kind. Still I cannot help being sorry. I
shall take good care in the future."

"It might be as well," conceded the earl, "to set yourself a
limit--necessarily in your case a narrow one.--Some constitutions
are so immediately responsive!" he added in a murmur. "The least
exhibition of--!--But a man like you, Mr. Grant," he went on aloud,
"will always know to take care of himself!"

"Sometimes, apparently, when it is too late!" rejoined Donal. "But I
must not annoy your lordship with any further expression of my

"Will you dine with me to-night?" said the earl. "I am lonely now.
Sometimes, for months together, I feel no need of a companion: my
books and pictures content me. All at once a longing for society
will seize me, and that longing my health will not permit me to
indulge. I am not by nature unsociable--much the contrary. You may
wonder I do not admit my own family more freely; but my wretched
health makes me shrink from loud voices and abrupt motions."

"But lady Arctura!" thought Donal. "Your lordship will find me a
poor substitute, I fear," he said, "for the society you would like.
But I am at your lordship's service."

He could not help turning with a moment's longing and regret to his
tower-nest and the company of his books and thoughts; but he did not
feel that he had a choice.



He went as before, conducted by the butler, and formally announced.

Book of the day: