Part 5 out of 11
To his surprise, with the earl was lady Arctura. His lordship made
him give her his arm, and followed.
This was to Donal a very different dinner from that of the evening
before. Whether the presence of his niece made the earl rouse
himself to be agreeable, or he had grown better since the morning
and his spirits had risen, certainly he was not like the same man.
He talked in a rather forced-playful way, but told two or three good
stories; described with vivacity some of the adventures of his
youth; spoke of several great men he had met; and in short was all
that could be desired in a host. Donal took no wine during dinner,
the earl as before took very little, and lady Arctura none. She
listened respectfully to her uncle's talk, and was attentive when
Donal spoke; he thought she looked even sympathetic two or three
times; and once he caught the expression as of anxiety he had seen
on her face that same day twice before. It was strange, too, he
thought, that, not seeing her sometimes for a week together, he
should thus meet her three times in one day. When the last of the
dinner was removed and the wine placed on the table, Donal thought
his lordship looked as if he expected his niece to go; but she kept
her place. He asked her which wine she would have, but she declined
any. He filled his glass, and pushed the decanter to Donal. He too
filled his glass, and drank slowly.
The talk revived. But Donal could not help fancying that the eyes of
the lady now and then sought his with a sort of question in
them--almost as if she feared something was going to happen to him.
He attributed this to her having heard that he took too much wine
the night before. The situation was unpleasant. He must, however,
brave it out! When he refused a second glass, which the earl by no
means pressed, he thought he saw her look relieved; but more than
once thereafter he saw, or fancied he saw her glance at him with
that expression of slight anxiety.
In its course the talk fell upon sheep, and Donal was relating some
of his experiences with them and their dogs, greatly interested in
the subject; when all at once, just as before, something seemed to
burst in his head, and immediately, although he knew he was sitting
at table with the earl and lady Arctura, he was uncertain whether he
was not at the same time upon the side of a lonely hill, closed in a
magic night of high summer, his woolly and hairy friends lying all
about him, and a light glimmering faintly on the heather a little
way off, which he knew for the flame that marks for a moment the
footstep of an angel, when he touches ever so lightly the solid
earth. He seemed to be reading the thoughts of his sheep around him,
yet all the time went on talking, and knew he was talking, with the
earl and the lady.
After a while, everything was changed. He was no longer either with
his sheep or his company. He was alone, and walking swiftly through
and beyond the park, in a fierce wind from the north-east, battling
with it, and ruling it like a fiery horse. By and by came a hoarse,
terrible music, which he knew for the thunderous beat of the waves
on the low shore, yet imagined issuing from an indescribable
instrument, gigantic and grotesque. He felt it first--through his
feet, as one feels without hearing the tones of an organ for which
the building is too small to allow scope to their vibration: the
waves made the ground beat against the soles of his feet as he
walked; but soon he heard it like the infinitely prolonged roaring
of a sky-built organ. It was drawing him to the sea, whether in the
body or out of the body he knew not: he was but conscious of forms
of existence: whether those forms had relation to things outside
him, or whether they belonged only to the world within him, he was
unaware. The roaring of the great water-organ grew louder and
louder. He knew every step of the way to the shore--across the
fields and over fences and stiles. He turned this way and that, to
avoid here a ditch, there a deep sandy patch. And still the music
grew louder and louder--and at length came in his face the driving
spray: it was the flying touch of the wings on which the tones went
hurrying past into the depths of awful distance! His feet were now
wading through the bent-tufted sand, with the hard, bare,
wave-beaten sand in front of him. Through the dark he could see the
white fierceness of the hurrying waves as they rushed to the shore,
then leaning, toppling, curling, self-undermined, hurled forth at
once all the sound that was in them in a falling roar of defeat.
Every wave was a complex chord, with winnowed tones feathering it
round. He paced up and down the sand--it seemed for ages. Why he
paced there he did not know--why always he turned and went back
instead of going on.
Suddenly he thought he saw something dark in the hollow of a wave
that swept to its fall. The moon came out as it broke, and the
something was rolled in the surf up the shore. Donal stood watching
it. Why should he move? What was it to him? The next wave would
reclaim it for the ocean! It looked like the body of a man, but what
did it matter! Many such were tossed in the hollows of that music!
But something came back to him out of the ancient years: in the ages
gone by men did what they could! There was a word they used then:
they said men ought to do this or that! This body might not be
dead--or dead, some one might like to have it! He rushed into the
water, and caught it--ere the next wave broke, though hours of
cogitation, ratiocination, recollection, seemed to have intervened.
The breaking wave drenched him from head to foot: he clung to his
prize and dragged it out. A moment's bewilderment, and he came to
himself lying on the sand, his arms round a great lump of net, lost
from some fishing boat.
His illusions were gone. He was sitting in a cold wind, wet to the
skin, on the border of a wild sea. A poor, shivering, altogether
ordinary and uncomfortable mortal, he sat on the shore of the German
Ocean, from which he had rescued a tangled mass of net and seaweed!
He dragged it beyond the reach of the waves, and set out for home.
By the time he reached the castle he was quite warm. His door at the
foot of the tower was open, he crept up, and was soon fast asleep.
THE HOUSEKEEPER'S ROOM.
He was not so late the next morning.
Ere he had finished his breakfast he had made up his mind that he
must beware of the earl. He was satisfied that the experiences of
the past night could not be the consequence of one glass of wine. If
he asked him again, he would go to dinner with him, but would drink
nothing but water.
School was just over when Simmons came from his lordship, to inquire
after him, and invite him to dine with him that evening. Donald
This time lady Arctura was not with the earl.
After as during dinner Donal declined to drink. His lordship cast on
him a keen, searching glance, but it was only a glance, and took no
farther notice of his refusal. The conversation, however, which had
not been brilliant from the first, now sank and sank till it was
not; and after a cup of coffee, his lordship, remarking that he was
not feeling himself, begged Donal to excuse him, and proceeded to
retire. Donal rose, and with a hope that his lordship would have a
good night and feel better in the morning, left the room.
The passage outside was lighted only by a rather dim lamp, and in
the distance Donal saw what he could but distinguish as the form of
a woman, standing by the door which opened upon the great staircase.
He supposed it at first to be one of the maids; but the servants
were so few compared with the size of the castle that one was seldom
to be met on stair or in passage; and besides, the form stood as if
waiting for some one! As he drew nearer, he saw it was lady Arctura,
and would have passed with an obeisance. But ere he could lay his
hand on the lock, hers was there to prevent him. He then saw that
she was agitated, and that she had stopped him thus because her
voice had at the moment failed her. The next moment, however, she
recovered it, and her self-possession as well.
"Mr. Grant," she said, in a low voice, "I wish to speak to you--if
you will allow me."
"I am at your service, my lady," answered Donal.
"But we cannot here! My uncle--"
"Shall we go into the picture-gallery?" suggested Donal; "there is
"No; that would be still nearer my uncle. His hearing is sometimes
preternaturally keen; and besides, as you know, he often walks there
after his evening meal. But--excuse me, Mr. Grant--you will
understand me presently--are you--are you quite--?"
"You mean, my lady--am I quite myself this evening!" said Donal,
wishing to help her with the embarrassing question: "--I have drunk
nothing but water to-night."
With that she opened the door, and descended the stair, he
following; but as soon as the curve of the staircase hid the door
they had left, she stopped, and turning to him said,
"I would not have you mistake me, Mr. Grant! I should be ashamed to
speak to you if--"
"Indeed I am very sorry!" said Donal, "--though hardly so much to
blame as I fear you think me."
"You mistake me at once! You suppose I imagine you took too much
wine last night! It would be absurd. I saw what you took! But we
must not talk here. Come."
She turned again, and going down, led the way to the housekeeper's
They found her at work with her needle.
"Mistress Brookes," said lady Arctura, "I want to have a little talk
with Mr. Grant, and there is no fire in the library: may we sit
"By all means! Sit doon, my lady! Why, bairn! you look as cold as if
you had been on the roof! There! sit close to the fire; you're all
Lady Arctura obeyed like the child Mrs. Brookes called her, and sat
down in the chair she gave up to her.
"I've something to see efter i' the still-room," said the
housekeeper. "You sit here and hae yer crack. Sit doon, Mr. Grant.
I'm glad to see you an' my lady come to word o' mooth at last. I
began to think it wud never be!"
Had Donal been in the way of looking to faces for the interpretation
of words and thoughts, he would have seen a shadow sweep over lady
Arctura's, followed by a flush, which he would have attributed to
displeasure at this utterance of the housekeeper. But, with all his
experience of the world within, and all his unusually developed
power of entering into the feelings of others, he had never come to
pry into those feelings, or to study their phenomena for the sake of
possessing himself of them. Man was by no means an open book to
him--"no, nor woman neither," but he would have scorned to
supplement by such investigation what a lady chose to tell him. He
sat looking into the fire, with an occasional upward glance, waiting
for what was to come, and saw neither shadow nor flush. Lady Arctura
sat also gazing into the fire, and seemed in no haste to begin.
"You are so good to Davie!" she said at length, and stopped.
"No better than I have to be," returned Donal. "Not to be good to
Davie would be to be a wretch."
"You know, Mr. Grant, I cannot agree with you!"
"There is no immediate necessity, my lady."
"But I suppose one may be fair to another!" she went on, doubtingly,
"--and it is only fair to confess that he is much more manageable
since you came. Only that is no good if it does not come from the
"Grapes do not come from thorns, my lady. We must not allow in evil
a power of good."
She did not reply.
"He minds everything I say to him now," she resumed. "What is it
makes him so good?--I wish I had had such a tutor!"
She stopped again: she had spoken out of the simplicity of her
thought, but the words when said looked to her as if they ought not
to have been said.
"Something is working in her!" thought Donal. "She is so different!
Her voice is different!"
"But that is not what I wanted to speak to you about, Mr. Grant,"
she re-commenced, "--though I did want you to know I was aware of
the improvement in Davie. I wished to say something about my uncle."
Here followed another pause.
"You may have remarked," she said at length, "that, though we live
together, and he is my guardian, and the head of the house, there is
not much communication between us."
"I have gathered as much: I ask no questions, but I cannot tell
Davie not to talk to me!"
"Of course not.--Lord Morven is a strange man. I do not understand
him, and I do not want to judge him, or make you judge him. But I
must speak of a fact, concerning yourself, which I have no right to
keep from you."
Once more a pause followed. There was nothing now of the grand dame
"Has nothing occurred to wake a doubt in you?" she said at last,
abruptly. "Have you not suspected him of--of using you in any way?"
"I have had an undefined ghost of a suspicion," answered Donal.
"Please tell me what you know."
"I should know nothing--although, my room being near his, I should
have been the more perplexed about some things--had he not made an
experiment upon myself a year ago."
"Is it possible?"
"I sometimes fancy I have not been so well since. It was a great
shock to me when I came to myself:--you see I am trusting you, Mr.
"I thank you heartily, my lady," said Donal.
"I believe," continued lady Arctura, gathering courage, "that my
uncle is in the habit of taking some horrible drug for the sake of
its effect on his brain. There are people who do so! What it is I
don't know, and I would rather not know. It is just as bad, surely,
as taking too much wine! I have heard himself remark to Mr.
Carmichael that opium was worse than wine, for it destroyed the
moral sense more. Mind I don't say it is opium he takes!"
"There are other things," said Donal, "even worse!--But surely you
do not mean he dared try anything of the sort on you!"
"I am sure he gave me something! For, once that I dined with
him,--but I cannot describe the effect it had upon me! I think he
wanted to see its operation on one who did not even know she had
taken anything. The influence of such things is a pleasant one, they
say, at first, but I would not go through such agonies as I had for
She ceased, evidently troubled by the harassing remembrance. Donal
hastened to speak.
"It was because of such a suspicion, my lady, that this evening I
would not even taste his wine. I am safe to-night, I trust, from the
insanity--I can call it nothing else--that possessed me the last two
"Was it very dreadful?" asked lady Arctura.
"On the contrary, I had a sense of life and power such as I could
never of myself have imagined!"
"Oh, Mr. Grant, do take care! Do not be tempted to take it again. I
don't know where it might not have led me if I had found it as
pleasant as it was horrible; for I am sorely tried with painful
thoughts, and feel sometimes as if I would do almost anything to get
rid of them."
"There must be a good way of getting rid of them! Think it of God's
mercy," said Donal, "that you cannot get rid of them the other way."
"I do; I do!"
"The shield of his presence was over you."
"How glad I should be to think so! But we have no right to think he
cares for us till we believe in Christ--and--and--I don't know that
I do believe in him!"
"Wherever you learned that, it is a terrible lie," said Donal. "Is
not Christ the same always, and is he not of one mind with God? Was
it not while we were yet sinners that he poured out his soul for us?
It is a fearful thing to say of the perfect Love, that he is not
doing all he can, with all the power of a maker over the creature he
has made, to help and deliver him!"
"I know he makes his sun to shine and his rain to fall upon the evil
and the good; but those good things are only of this world!"
"Are those the good things then that the Lord says the Father will
give to those that ask him? How can you worship a God who gives you
all the little things he does not care much about, but will not do
his best for you?"
"But are there not things he cannot do for us till we believe in
"Certainly there are. But what I want you to see is that he does all
that can be done. He finds it very hard to teach us, but he is never
tired of trying. Anyone who is willing to be taught of God, will by
him be taught, and thoroughly taught."
"I am afraid I am doing wrong in listening to you, Mr. Grant--and
the more that I cannot help wishing what you say might be true! But
are you not in danger--you will pardon me for saying it--of
presumption?--How can all the good people be wrong?"
"Because the greater part of their teachers have set themselves to
explain God rather than to obey and enforce his will. The gospel is
given to convince, not our understandings, but our hearts; that
done, and never till then, our understandings will be free. Our Lord
said he had many things to tell his disciples, but they were not
able to hear them. If the things be true which I have heard from
Sunday to Sunday since I came here, the Lord has brought us no
salvation at all, but only a change of shape to our miseries. They
have not redeemed you, lady Arctura, and never will. Nothing but
Christ himself, your lord and friend and brother, not all the
doctrines about him, even if every one of them were true, can save
you. Poor orphan children, we cannot find our God, and they would
have us take instead a shocking caricature of him!"
"But how should sinners know what is or is not like the true God?"
"If a man desires God, he cannot help knowing enough of him to be
capable of learning more--else how should he desire him? Made in the
image of God, his idea of him cannot be all wrong. That does not
make him fit to teach others--only fit to go on learning for
himself. But in Jesus Christ I see the very God I want. I want a
father like him. He reproaches some of those about him for not
knowing him--for, if they had known God, they would have known him:
they were to blame for not knowing God. No other than the God
exactly like Christ can be the true God. It is a doctrine of devils
that Jesus died to save us from our father. There is no safety, no
good, no gladness, no purity, but with the Father, his father and
our father, his God and our God."
"But God hates sin and punishes it!"
"It would be terrible if he did not. All hatred of sin is love to
the sinner. Do you think Jesus came to deliver us from the
punishment of our sins? He would not have moved a step for that. The
horrible thing is being bad, and all punishment is help to deliver
us from that, nor will punishment cease till we have ceased to be
bad. God will have us good, and Jesus works out the will of his
father. Where is the refuge of the child who fears his father? Is it
in the farthest corner of the room? Is it down in the dungeon of the
castle, my lady?"
"No, no!" cried lady Arctura, "--in his father's arms!"
"There!" said Donal, and was silent.
"I hold by Jesus!" he added after a pause, and rose as he said it,
but stood where he rose.
Lady Arctura sat motionless, divided between reverence for distorted
and false forms of truth taught her from her earliest years, and
desire after a God whose very being is the bliss of his creatures.
Some time passed in silence, and then she too rose to depart. She
held out her hand to Donal with a kind of irresolute motion, but
withdrawing it, smiled almost beseechingly, and said,
"I wish I might ask you something. I know it is a rude question, but
if you could see all, you would answer me and let the offence go."
"I will answer you anything you choose to ask."
"That makes it the more difficult; but I will--I cannot bear to
remain longer in doubt: did you really write that poem you gave to
Kate Graeme--compose it, I mean, your own self?"
"I made no secret of that when I gave it her," said Donal, not
perceiving her drift.
"Then you did really write it?"
Donal looked at her in perplexity. Her face grew very red, and tears
began to come in her eyes.
"You must pardon me!" she said: "I am so ignorant! And we live in
such an out-of-the-way place that--that it seems very unlikely a
real poet--! And then I have been told there are people who have a
passion for appearing to do the thing they are not able to do, and I
was anxious to be quite sure! My mind would keep brooding over it,
and wondering, and longing to know for certain!--So I resolved at
last that I would be rid of the doubt, even at the risk of offending
you. I know I have been rude--unpardonably rude, but--"
"But," supplemented Donal, with a most sympathetic smile, for he
understood her as his own thought, "you do not feel quite sure yet!
What a priori reason do you see why I should not be able to write
verses? There is no rule as to where poetry grows: one place is as
good as another for that!"
"I hope you will forgive me! I hope I have not offended you very
"Nobody in such a world as this ought to be offended at being asked
for proof. If there are in it rogues that look like honest men, how
is any one, without a special gift of insight, to be always sure of
the honest man? Even the man whom a woman loves best will sometimes
tear her heart to pieces! I will give you all the proof you can
desire.--And lest the tempter should say I made up the proof itself
between now and to-morrow morning, I will fetch it at once."
"Oh, Mr. Grant, spare me! I am not, indeed I am not so bad as that!"
"Who can tell when or whence the doubt may wake again, or what may
"At least let me explain a little before you go," she said.
"Certainly," he answered, reseating himself, in compliance with her
"Miss Graeme told me that you had never seen a garden like theirs
"I never did. There are none such, I fancy, in our part of the
"Nor in our neighbourhood either."
"Then what is surprising in it?"
"Nothing in that. But is there not something in your being able to
write a poem like that about a garden such as you had never seen?
One would say you must have been familiar with it from childhood to
be able so to enter into the spirit of the place!"
"Perhaps if I had been familiar with it from childhood, that might
have disabled me from feeling the spirit of it, for then might it
not have looked to me as it looked to those in whose time such
gardens were the fashion? Two things are necessary--first, that
there should be a spirit in a place, and next that the place should
be seen by one whose spirit is capable of giving house-room to its
spirit.--By the way, does the ghost-lady feel the place all right?"
"I am not sure that I know what you mean; but I felt the grass with
her feet as I read, and the wind lifting my hair. I seemed to know
exactly how she felt!"
"Now tell me, were you ever a ghost?"
"No," she answered, looking in his face like a child--without even a
"Did you ever see a ghost?"
"Then how should you know how a ghost would feel?"
"I see! I cannot answer you."
"I am indeed ashamed!" said lady Arctura.
"Ashamed of giving me the chance of proving myself a true man?"
"That, at least, is no longer necessary!"
"But I want my revenge. As a punishment for doubting one whom you
had so little ground for believing, you shall be compelled to see
the proof--that is, if you will do me the favour to wait here till I
come back. I shall not be long, though it is some distance to the
top of Baliol's tower."
"Davie told me your room was there: do you not find it cold? It must
be very lonely! I wonder why mistress Brookes put you there!"
Donal assured her he could not have had a place more to his mind,
and before she could well think he had reached the foot of his
stair, was back with a roll of papers, which he laid on the table.
"There!" he said, opening it out; "if you will take the trouble to
go over these, you may read the growth of the poem. Here first you
see it blocked out rather roughly, and much blotted with erasures
and substitutions. Here next you see the result copied--clean to
begin with, but afterwards scored and scored. You see the words I
chose instead of the first, and afterwards in their turn rejected,
until in the proofs I reached those which I have as yet let stand. I
do not fancy Miss Graeme has any doubt the verses are mine, for it
was plain she thought them rubbish. From your pains to know who
wrote them, I believe you do not think so badly of them!"
She thought he was satirical, and gave a slight sigh as of pain. It
went to his heart.
"I did not mean the smallest reflection, my lady, on your desire for
satisfaction," he said; "rather, indeed, it flatters me. But is it
not strange the heart should be less ready to believe what seems
worth believing? Something must be true: why not the worthy--oftener
at least than the unworthy? Why should it be easier to believe hard
things of God, for instance, than lovely things?--or that one man
copied from another, than that he should have made the thing
himself? Some would yet say I contrived all this semblance of
composition in order to lay the surer claim to that to which I had
none--nor would take the trouble to follow the thing through its
development! But it will be easy for you, my lady, and no bad
exercise in logic and analysis, to determine whether the genuine
growth of the poem be before you in these papers or not."
"I shall find it most interesting," said lady Arctura: "so much I
can tell already! I never saw anything of the kind before, and had
no idea how poetry was made. Does it always take so much labour?"
"Some verses take much more; some none at all. The labour is in
getting the husks of expression cleared off, so that the thought may
show itself plainly."
At this point Mrs. Brookes, thinking probably the young people had
had long enough conference, entered, and after a little talk with
her, lady Arctura kissed her and bade her good night. Donal retired
to his aerial chamber, wondering whether the lady of the house had
indeed changed as much as she seemed to have changed.
>From that time, whether it was that lady Arctura had previously
avoided meeting him and now did not, or from other causes, Donal and
she met much oftener as they went about the place, nor did they ever
pass without a mutual smile and greeting.
The next day but one, she brought him his papers to the schoolroom.
She had read every erasure and correction, she told him, and could
no longer have had a doubt that the writer of the papers was the
maker of the verses, even had she not previously learned thorough
confidence in the man himself.
"They would possibly fail to convince a jury though!" he said, as he
rose and went to throw them in the fire.
Divining his intent, Arctura darted after him, and caught them just
"Let me keep them," she pleaded, "--for my humiliation!"
"Do with them what you like, my lady," said Donal. "They are of no
value to me--except that you care for them."
COBBLER AND CASTLE.
In the bosom of the family in which the elements seem most kindly
mixed, there may yet lie some root of discord and disruption, upon
which the foreign influence necessary to its appearance above
ground, has not yet come to operate. That things are quiet is no
proof, only a hopeful sign of harmony. In a family of such poor
accord as that at the castle, the peace might well at any moment be
Lord Forgue had been for some time on a visit to Edinburgh, had
doubtless there been made much of, and had returned with a
considerable development of haughtiness, and of that freedom which
means subjugation to self, and freedom from the law of liberty. It
is often when a man is least satisfied--not with himself but with
his immediate doings--that he is most ready to assert his
superiority to the restraints he might formerly have grumbled
against, but had not dared to dispute--and to claim from others such
consideration as accords with a false idea of his personal standing.
But for a while Donal and he barely saw each other; Donal had no
occasion to regard him; and lord Forgue kept so much to himself that
Davie made lamentation: Percy was not half so jolly as he used to
For a fortnight Eppy had not been to see her grand-parents; and as
the last week something had prevented Donal also from paying them
his customary visit, the old people had naturally become uneasy; and
one frosty twilight, when the last of the sunlight had turned to
cold green in the west, Andrew Comin appeared in the castle kitchen,
asking to see mistress Brookes. He was kindly received by the
servants, among whom Eppy was not present; and Mrs. Brookes, who had
a genuine respect for the cobbler, soon came to greet him. She told
him she knew no reason why Eppy had not gone to inquire after them
as usual: she would send for her, she said, and left the kitchen.
Eppy was not at the moment to be found, but Donal, whom mistress
Brookes had gone herself to seek, went at once to the kitchen.
"Will you come out a bit, Andrew," he said, "--if you're not tired?
It's a fine night, and it's easy to talk in the gloamin'!"
Andrew consented with alacrity.
On the side of the castle away from the town, the descent was at
first by a succession of terraces with steps from the one to the
other, the terraces themselves being little flower-gardens. At the
bottom of the last of these terraces and parallel with them, was a
double row of trees, forming a long narrow avenue between two little
doors in two walls at opposite ends of the castle. One of these led
to some of the offices; the other admitted to a fruit garden which
turned the western shoulder of the hill, and found for the greater
part a nearly southern exposure. At this time of the year it was a
lonely enough place, and at this time of the day more than likely to
be altogether deserted: thither Donal would lead his friend. Going
out therefore by the kitchen-door, they went first into a
stable-yard, from which descended steps to the castle-well, on the
level of the second terrace. Thence they arrived, by more steps, at
the mews where in old times the hawks were kept, now rather ruinous
though not quite neglected. Here the one wall-door opened on the
avenue which led to the other. It was one of the pleasantest walks
in immediate proximity to the castle.
The first of the steely stars were shining through the naked rafters
of leafless boughs overhead, as Donal and the cobbler stepped,
gently talking, into the aisle of trees. The old man looked up,
gazed for a moment in silence, and said:--
"'The heavens declare the glory o' God, an' the firmament showeth
his handy-work.' I used, whan I was a lad, to study astronomy a wee,
i' the houp o' better hearin' what the h'avens declared aboot the
glory o' God: I wud fain un'erstan' the speech ae day cried across
the nicht to the ither. But I was sair disapp'intit. The things the
astronomer tellt semple fowk war verra won'erfu', but I couldna fin'
i' my hert 'at they made me think ony mair o' God nor I did afore. I
dinna mean to say they michtna be competent to work that in anither,
but it wasna my experrience o' them. My hert was some sair at this,
for ye see I was set upo' winnin' intil the presence o' him I
couldna bide frae, an' at that time I hadna learnt to gang straucht
to him wha's the express image o' 's person, but, aye soucht him
throuw the philosophy--eh, but it was bairnly philosophy!--o' the
guid buiks 'at dwall upo' the natur' o' God an' a' that, an' his
hatred o' sin an' a' that--pairt an' pairt true, nae doobt! but I
wantit God great an' near, an' they made him oot sma', sma', an'
unco' far awa'. Ae nicht I was oot by mysel' upo' the shore, jist as
the stars war teetin' oot. An' it wasna as gien they war feart o'
the sun, an' pleast 'at he was gane, but as gien they war a' teetin'
oot to see what had come o' their Father o' Lichts. A' at ance I cam
to mysel', like oot o' some blin' delusion. Up I cuist my e'en
aboon--an' eh, there was the h'aven as God made it--awfu'!--big an'
deep, ay faddomless deep, an' fu' o' the wan'erin' yet steady lichts
'at naething can blaw oot, but the breath o' his mooth! Awa' up an'
up it gaed, an' deeper an' deeper! an' my e'en gaed traivellin' awa'
an' awa', till it seemed as though they never could win back to me.
A' at ance they drappit frae the lift like a laverock, an' lichtit
upo' the horizon, whaur the sea an' the sky met like richteousness
an' peace kissin' ane anither, as the psalm says. Noo I canna tell
what it was, but jist there whaur the earth an' the sky cam
thegither, was the meetin' o' my earthly sowl wi' God's h'avenly
sowl! There was bonny colours, an' bonny lichts, an' a bonny grit
star hingin' ower 't a', but it was nane o' a' thae things; it was
something deeper nor a', an' heicher nor a'! Frae that moment I
saw--no hoo the h'avens declare the glory o' God, but I saw them
declarin' 't, an' I wantit nae mair. Astronomy for me micht sit an'
wait for a better warl', whaur fowk didna weir oot their shune, an'
ither fowk hadna to men' them. For what is the great glory o' God
but that, though no man can comprehen' him, he comes doon, an' lays
his cheek til his man's, an' says til him, 'Eh, my cratur!'"
While the cobbler was thus talking, they had gone the length of the
avenue, and were within less than two trees of the door of the
fruit-garden, when it opened, and was hurriedly shut again--not,
however, before Donal had caught sight, as he believed, of the form
of Eppy. He called her by name, and ran to the door, followed by
Andrew: the same suspicion had struck both of them at once! Donal
lifted the latch, and would have opened the door, but some one held
it against him, and he heard the noise of an attempt to push the
rusty bolt into the staple. He set his strength to it, and forced
the door open. Lord Forgue was on the other side of it, and a little
way off stood Eppy trembling. Donal turned away from his lordship,
and said to the girl,
"Eppy, here's your grandfather come to see you!"
The cobbler, however, went up to lord Forgue.
"You're a young man, my lord," he said, "an' may regard it as folly
in an auld man to interfere between you an' your wull; but I warn
ye, my lord, excep' you cease to carry yourself thus towards my
granddaughter, his lordship, your father, shall be informed of the
matter. Eppy, you come home with me."
"I will not," said Eppy, her voice trembling with passion, though
which passion it were hard to say; "I am a free woman. I make my own
living. I will not be treated like a child!"
"I will speak to mistress Brookes," said the old man, with sad
"And make her turn me away!" said Eppy.
She seemed quite changed--bold and determined--was probably relieved
that she could no more play a false part. His lordship stood and
"But don't you think, grandfather," continued Eppy, "that whatever
mistress Brookes says or does, I'll go home with you! I've saved
money, and, as I can't get another place here when you've taken away
my character, I'll leave the country."
His lordship advanced, and with strained composure said,
"I confess, Mr. Comin, things do look against us. It is awkward you
should have found us together, but you know"--and here he attempted
a laugh--"we are told not to judge by appearances!"
"We may be forced to act by them, though, my lord!" said Andrew. "I
should be sorry to judge aither of you by them. Eppy must come home
with me, or it will be more awkward yet for both of you!"
"Oh, if you threaten us," said Forgue contemptuously, "then of
course we are very frightened! But you had better beware! You will
only make it the more difficult for me to do your granddaughter the
justice I always intended."
"What your lordship's notion o' justice may be, I wull not trouble
you to explain," said the old man. "All I desire for the present is,
that she come home with me."
"Let us leave the matter to mistress Brookes!" said Forgue. "I shall
easily satisfy her that there is no occasion for any hurry. Believe
me, you will only bring trouble on the innocent!"
"Then it canna be on you, my lord! for in this thing you have not
behaved as a gentleman ought!" said the cobbler.
"You dare tell me so!" cried Forgue, striding up to the little old
man, as if he would sweep him away with the very wind of his
"Yes; for else how should I say it to another, an' that may soon be
necessar'!" answered the cobbler. "Didna yer lordship promise an en'
to the haill meeserable affair?"
"I remember nothing of the sort."
"You did to me!" said Donal.
"Do hold your tongue, Grant, and don't make things worse. To you I
can easily explain it. Besides, you have nothing to do with it now
this good fellow has taken it up. It is quite possible, besides, to
break one's word to the ear and yet keep it to the sense."
"The only thing to justify that suggestion," said Donal, "would be
that you had married Eppy, or were about to marry her!"
Eppy would have spoken; but she only gave a little cry, for Forgue
put his hand over her mouth.
"You hold your tongue!" he said; "you will only complicate matters!"
"And there's another point, my lord," resumed Donal: "you say I have
nothing to do now with the affair: if not for my friend's sake, I
have for my own."
"What do you mean?"
"That I am in the house a paid servant, and must not allow anything
mischievous to go on in it without acquainting my master."
"You acknowledge, Mr. Grant, that you are neither more nor less than
a paid servant, but you mistake your duty as such: I shall be happy
to explain it to you.--You have nothing whatever to do with what
goes on in the house; you have but to mind your work. I told you
before, you are my brother's tutor, not mine! To interfere with what
I do, is nothing less than a piece of damned impertinence!"
"That impertinence, however, I intend to be guilty of the moment I
can get audience of your father."
"You will not, if I give you such explanation as satisfies you I
have done the girl no harm, and mean honestly by her!" said Forgue
in a confident, yet somewhat conciliatory tone.
"In any case," returned Donal, "you having once promised, and then
broken your promise, I shall without fail tell your father all I
"And ruin her, and perhaps me too, for life?"
"The truth will ruin only those that ought to be ruined!" said
Forgue sprang upon him, and struck him a heavy blow between the
eyes. He had been having lessons in boxing while in Edinburgh, and
had confidence in himself. It was a well-planted blow, and Donal
unprepared for it. He staggered against the wall, and for a moment
could neither see nor think: all he knew was that there was
something or other he had to attend to. His lordship, excusing
himself perhaps on the ground of necessity, there being a girl in
the case, would have struck him again; but Andrew threw himself
between, and received the blow for him.
As Donal came to himself, he heard a groan from the ground, and
looking, saw Andrew at his feet, and understood.
"Dear old man!" he said; "he dared to strike you!"
"He didna mean 't," returned Andrew feebly. "Are ye winnin' ower 't,
sir? He gae ye a terrible ane! Ye micht hae h'ard it across the
"I shall be all right in a minute!" answered Donal, wiping the blood
out of his eyes. "I've a good hard head, thank God!--But what has
become of them?"
"Ye didna think he wud be waitin' to see 's come to oorsel's!" said
With Donal's help, and great difficulty, he rose, and they stood
looking at each other through the starlight, bewildered and
uncertain. The cobbler was the first to recover his wits.
"It's o' no mainner of use," he said, "to rouse the castel wi' hue
an' cry! What hae we to say but 'at we faund the twa i' the gairden
thegither! It wud but raise a clash--the which, fable or fac', wud
do naething for naebody! His lordship maun be loot ken, as ye say;
but wull his lordship believe ye, sir? I'm some i' the min' the
yoong man 's awa' til's faither a'ready, to prejudeese him again'
onything ye may say."
"That makes it the more necessary," said Donal, "that I should go at
once to his lordship. He will fall out upon me for not having told
him at once; but I must not mind that: if I were not to tell him
now, he would have a good case against me."
They were already walking towards the house, the old man giving a
groan now and then. He could not go in, he said; he would walk
gently on, and Donal would overtake him.
It was an hour and a half before Andrew got home, and Donal had not
THE EARL'S BEDCHAMBER.
Having washed the blood from his face, Donal sought Simmons.
"His lordship can't see you now, I am sure, sir," answered the
butler; "lord Forgue is with him."
Donal turned and went straight up to lord Morven's apartment. As he
passed the door of his bedroom opening on the corridor, he heard
voices in debate. He entered the sitting-room. There was no one
there. It was not a time for ceremony. He knocked at the door of the
bedroom. The voices within were loud, and no answer came. He knocked
again, and received an angry permission to enter. He entered, closed
the door behind him, and stood in sight of his lordship, waiting
what should follow.
Lord Morven was sitting up in bed, his face so pale and distorted
that Donal thought elsewhere he should hardly have recognized it.
The bed was a large four-post bed; its curtains were drawn close to
the posts, admitting as much air as possible. At the foot of it
stood lord Forgue, his handsome, shallow face flushed with anger,
his right arm straight down by his side, and the hand of it clenched
hard. He turned when Donal entered. A fiercer flush overspread his
face, but almost immediately the look of rage yielded to one of
determined insult. Possibly even the appearance of Donal was a
relief to being alone with his father.
"Mr. Grant," stammered his lordship, speaking with pain, "you are
well come!--just in time to hear a father curse his son!"
"Even such a threat shall not make me play a dishonourable part!"
said Forgue, looking however anything but honourable, for the heart,
not the brain, moulds the expression.
"Mr. Grant," resumed the father, "I have found you a man of sense
and refinement! If you had been tutor to this degenerate boy, the
worst trouble of my life would not have overtaken me!"
Forgue's lip curled, but he did not speak, and his father went on.
"Here is this fellow come to tell me to my face that he intends the
ruin and disgrace of the family by a low marriage!"
"It will not be the first time it has been so disgraced!" retorted
the son, "--if fresh peasant-blood be indeed a disgrace to any
"Bah! the hussey is not even a wholesome peasant-girl!" cried the
father. "Who do you think she is, Mr. Grant?"
"I do not need to guess, my lord," replied Donal. "I came now to
inform your lordship of what I had myself seen."
"She must leave the house this instant!"
"Then I too leave it, my lord!" said Forgue.
"Where's your money?" returned the earl contemptuously.
Forgue shifted to an attack upon Donal.
"Your lordship hardly places confidence in me," he said; "but it is
not the less my duty to warn you against this man: months ago he
knew what was going on, and comes to tell you now because this
evening I chastised him for his rude interference."
In cooler blood lord Forgue would not have shown such meanness; but
passion brings to the front the thing that lurks.
"And it is no doubt to the necessity for forestalling his disclosure
that I owe the present ingenuous confession!" said lord Morven.
"--But explain, Mr. Grant."
"My lord," said Donal calmly, "I became aware that there was
something between lord Forgue and the girl, and was alarmed for the
girl: she is the child of friends to whom I am much beholden. But on
the promise of both that the thing should end, I concluded it better
not to trouble your lordship. I may have blundered in this, but I
did what seemed best. This night, however, I discovered that things
were going as before, and it became imperative on my position in
your house that I should make your lordship acquainted with the
fact. He assevered there was nothing dishonest between them, but,
having deceived me once, how was I to trust him again!"
"How indeed! the young blackguard!" said his lordship, casting a
fierce glance at his son.
"Allow me to remark," said Forgue, with comparative coolness, "that
I deceived no one. What I promised was, that the affair should not
go on: it did not; from that moment it assumed a different and
serious aspect. I now intend to marry the girl."
"I tell you, Forgue, if you do I will disown you."
Forgue smiled an impertinent smile and held his peace: the threat
had for him no terror.
"I shall be the better able," continued his lordship, "to provide
suitably for Davie; he is what a son ought to be! But hear me,
Forgue: you must be aware that, if I left you all I had, it would be
beggary for one handicapped with a title. You may think my anger
unreasonable, but it comes solely of anxiety on your account.
Nothing but a suitable marriage--the most suitable of all is within
your arm's length--can save you from the life of a moneyless
peer--the most pitiable object on the face of the earth. Were it
possible to ignore your rank, you have no profession, no trade even,
in these trade-loving times, to fall back upon. Except you marry as
I please, you will have nothing from me but the contempt of a title
without a farthing to keep it decent. You threaten to leave the
house--can you pay for a railway-ticket?"
Forgue was silent for a moment.
"My lord," he said, "I have given my word to the girl: would you
have me disgrace your name by breaking it?"
"Tut! tut! there are words and words! What obligation can there be
in the rash promises of an unworthy love! Still less are they
binding where the man is not his own master! You are under a bond to
your family, under a bond to society, under a bond to your country.
Marry this girl, and you will be an outcast; marry as I would have
you, and no one will think the worse of you for a foolish vow in
your boyhood. Bah! the merest rumour of it will never rise into the
serene air of your position."
"And let the girl go and break her heart!" said Forgue, with look
black as death.
"You need fear no such catastrophe! You are no such marvel among men
that a kitchen-wench will break her heart for you. She will be sorry
for herself, no doubt; but it will be nothing more than she
expected, and will only confirm her opinion of you: she knows well
enough the risk she runs!"
While he spoke, Donal, waiting his turn, stood as on hot iron. Such
sayings were in his ears the foul talk of hell. The moment the earl
ceased, he turned to Forgue, and said:--
"My lord, you have removed my harder thoughts of you! You have
indeed broken your word, but in a way infinitely nobler than I
believed you capable of!"
Lord Morven stared dumbfounded.
"Your comments are out of place, Mr. Grant!" said Forgue, with
something like dignity. "The matter is between my father and myself.
If you wanted to beg my pardon, you should have waited a fitting
Donal held his peace. He had felt bound to show sympathy with his
enemy where he was right.
The earl was perplexed: his one poor ally had gone over to the
enemy! He took a glass from the table beside him, and drank: then,
after a moment's silence, apparently of exhaustion and suffering,
"Mr. Grant, I desire a word with you.--Leave the room, Forgue."
"My lord," returned Forgue, "you order me from the room to confer
with one whose presence with you is an insult to me!"
"He seems to me," answered his father bitterly, "to be after your
own mind in the affair!--How indeed should it be otherwise! But so
far I have found Mr. Grant a man of honour, and I desire to have
some private conversation with him. I therefore request you will
leave us alone together."
This was said so politely, yet with such latent command, that the
youth dared not refuse compliance.
The moment he closed the door behind him,
"I am glad he yielded," said the earl, "for I should have had to ask
you to put him out, and I hate rows. Would you have done it?"
"I would have tried."
"Thank you. Yet a moment ago you took his part against me!"
"On the girl's part--and for his honesty too, my lord!"
"Come now, Mr. Grant! I understand your prejudices, I cannot expect
you to look on the affair as I do. I am glad to have a man of such
sound general principles to form the character of my younger son;
but it is plain as a mountain that what would be the duty of a young
man in your rank of life toward a young woman in the same rank,
would be simple ruin to one in lord Forgue's position. A capable man
like you can make a living a hundred different ways; to one born
with the burden of a title, and without the means of supporting it,
marriage with such a girl means poverty, gambling, hunger,
"My lord," answered Donal, "the moment a man speaks of love to a
woman, be she as lowly and ignorant as mother Eve, that moment rank
and privilege vanish, and distinction is annihilated."
The earl gave a small sharp smile.
"You would make a good pleader, Mr. Grant! But if you had seen the
consequences of such marriage half as often as I, you would modify
your ideas. Mark what I say: this marriage shall not take place--by
God! What! should I for a moment talk of it with coolness were there
the smallest actual danger of its occurrence--did I not know that it
never could, never shall take place! The boy is a fool, and he shall
know it! I have him in my power--neck and heels in my power! He does
not know it, and never could guess how; but it is true: one word
from me, and the rascal is paralysed! Oblige me by telling him what
I have just said. The absurd marriage shall not take place, I
repeat. Invalid as I am, I am not yet reduced to the condition of an
He took up a small bottle, poured a little from it, added water, and
"Now for the girl: who knows about it?"
"So far as I am aware, no one but her grandfather. He had come to
the castle to inquire after her, and was with me when we came upon
them in the fruit garden."
"Then let no further notice be taken of it. Tell no one--not even
Mrs. Brookes. Let the young fools do as they please."
"I cannot consent to that, my lord."
"Why, what the devil have you to do with it?"
"I am the friend of her people."
"Pooh! pooh! don't talk rubbish. What is it to them! I'll see to
them. It will all come right. The affair will settle itself. By
Jove, I'm sorry you interfered! The thing would have been much
better left alone."
"My lord," said Donal, "I can listen to nothing in this strain."
"All I ask is--promise not to interfere."
"I will not."
"My lord, you mistake. I will not promise. Nay, I will interfere.
What to do, I do not now know; but I will save the girl if I can."
"And ruin an ancient family! You think nothing of that!"
"Its honour, my lord, will be best preserved in that of the girl."
"Damn you? will you preach to me?"
Notwithstanding his fierce words, Donal could not help seeing or
imagining an almost suppliant look in his eye.
"You must do as I tell you in my house," he went on, "or you will
soon see the outside of it. Come: marry the girl yourself--she is
deuced pretty--and I will give you five hundred pounds for your
wedding journey.--Poor Davie!"
"Your lordship insults me."
"Then, damn you! be off to your lessons, and take your insolent face
out of my sight."
"If I remain in your house, my lord, it is for Davie's sake."
"Go away," said the earl; and Donal went.
He had hardly closed the door behind him, when he heard a bell ring
violently; and ere he reached the bottom of the stair, he met the
butler panting up as fast as his short legs and red nose would
permit. He would have stopped to question Donal, who hastened past
him, and in the refuge of his own room, sat down to think. Had his
conventional dignity been with him a matter of importance, he would
have left the castle the moment he got his things together; but he
thought much more of Davie, and much more of Eppy.
He had hardly seated himself when he jumped up again: he must see
When he reached the bottom of the hill, there at the gate was
Forgue, walking up and down, apparently waiting for him. He would
have passed him, but Forgue stepped in front of him.
"Grant," he said, "it is well we should understand each other!"
"I think, my lord, if you do not yet understand me, it can scarcely
be my fault."
"What did my father say?"
"I would deliver to your lordship a message he gave me for you but
for two reasons--one, that I believe he changed his mind though he
did not precisely say so, and the other, that I will not serve him
or you in the matter."
"Then you intend neither to meddle nor make?"
"That is my affair, my lord. I will not take your lordship into my
"Don't be unreasonable, now! Do get off your high horse. Can't you
understand a fellow? Everybody can't keep his temper as you do! I
mean the girl no harm."
"I will not talk with you about her. And whatever you insist on
saying to me, I will use against you without scruple, should
As he spoke he caught a look on Forgue's face which revealed somehow
that it was not for him he had been waiting, but for Eppy. He turned
and went back towards the castle: he might meet her! Forgue called
after him, but he paid no heed.
As he hastened up the hill, not so much as the rustle of bird or
mouse did he hear. He lingered about the top of the road for half an
hour, then turned and went to the cobbler's.
He found Doory in great distress; for she was not merely sore
troubled about her son's child, but Andrew was in bed and suffering
great pain. The moment Donal saw him he went for the doctor. He said
a rib was broken, bound him up, and gave him some medicine. All done
that could be done, Donal sat down to watch beside him.
He lay still, with closed eyes and white face. So patient was he
that his very pain found utterance in a sort of blind smile. Donal
did not know much about pain: he could read in Andrew's look his
devotion to the will of him whose being was his peace, but he did
not know above what suffering his faith lifted him, and held him
hovering yet safe. His faith made him one with life, the eternal
Life--and that is salvation.
In closest contact with the divine, the original relation restored,
the source once more holding its issue, the divine love pouring
itself into the deepest vessel of the man's being, itself but a
vessel for the holding of the diviner and divinest, who can wonder
if keenest pain should not be able to quench the smile of the
prostrate! Few indeed have reached the point of health to laugh at
disease, but are there none? Let not a man say because he cannot
that no one can.
The old woman was very calm, only every now and then she would lift
her hands and shake her head, and look as if the universe were going
to pieces, because her husband lay there by the stroke of the
ungodly. And if he had lain there forgotten, then indeed the
universe would have been going to pieces! When he coughed, every
pang seemed to go through her body to her heart. Love is as lovely
in the old as in the young--lovelier when in them, as often, it is
more sympathetic and unselfish--that is, more true.
Donal wrote to Mrs. Brookes that he would not be home that night;
and having found a messenger at the inn, settled himself to watch by
The hours glided quietly over. Andrew slept a good deal, and seemed
to have pleasant visions. He was finding yet more saving. Now and
then his lips would move as if he were holding talk with some
friendly soul. Once Donal heard the murmured words, "Lord, I'm a'
yer ain;" and noted that his sleep grew deeper thereafter. He did
not wake till the day began to dawn. Then he asked for some water.
Seeing Donal, and divining that he had been by his bedside all the
night, he thanked him with a smile and a little nod--which somehow
brought to his memory certain words Andrew had spoken on another
occasion: "There's ane, an' there's a'; an' the a' 's ane, an' the
ane 's a'."
When Donal reached the castle, he found his breakfast and Mrs.
Brookes waiting for him. She told him that Eppy, meeting her in the
passage the night before, had burst into tears, but she could get
nothing out of her, and had sent her to her room; this morning she
had not come down at the proper time, and when she sent after her,
did not come: she went up herself, and found her determined to leave
the castle that very day; she was now packing her things to go, nor
did she see any good in trying to prevent her.
Donal said if she would go home, there was plenty for her to do
there; old people's bones were not easy to mend, and it would be
some time before her grandfather was well again!
Mrs. Brookes said she would not keep her now if she begged to stay;
she was afraid she would come to grief, and would rather she went
home; she would take her home herself.
"The lass is no an ill ane," she added: " but she disna ken what she
wud be at. She wants some o' the Lord's ain discipleen, I'm
"An' that ye may be sure she'll get, mistress Brookes!" said Donal.
Eppy was quite ready to go home and help nurse her grandfather. She
thought her conduct must by this time be the talk of the castle, and
was in mortal terror of lord Morven. All the domestics feared
him--it would be hard to say precisely why; it came in part of
seeing him so seldom that he had almost come to represent the ghost
some said lived in the invisible room and haunted the castle.
It was the easier for Eppy to go home that her grandmother needed
her, and that her grandfather would not be able to say much to her.
She was an affectionate girl, and yet her grandfather's condition
roused in her no indignation; for the love of being loved is such a
blinding thing, that the greatest injustice from the dearest to the
next dearest will by some natures be readily tolerated. God help us!
we are a mean set--and meanest the man who is ablest to justify
Mrs. Brookes, having prepared a heavy basket of good things for Eppy
to carry home to her grandmother, and made it the heavier for the
sake of punishing her with the weight of it, set out with her,
saying to herself,
"The jaud wants a wheen harder wark nor I hae hauden till her han',
an' doobtless it's preparin' for her!"
She was kindly received, without a word of reproach, by her
grandmother; the sufferer, forgetful of, or forgiving her words of
rejection in the garden, smiled when she came near his bedside; and
she turned away to conceal the tears she could not repress. She
loved her grand-parents, and she loved the young lord, and she could
not get the two loves to dwell together peaceably in her mind--a
common difficulty with our weak, easily divided, hardly united
natures--frangible, friable, readily distorted! It needs no less
than God himself, not only to unite us to one another, but to make a
whole of the ill-fitting, roughly disjointed portions of our
individual beings. Tearfully but diligently she set about her
duties; and not only the heart, but the limbs and joints of her
grandmother were relieved by her presence; while doubtless she
herself found some refuge from anxious thought in the service she
rendered. What she saw as her probable future, I cannot say; one
hour her confidence in her lover's faithfulness would be complete,
the next it would be dashed with huge blots of uncertainty; but her
grandmother rejoiced over her as out of harm's way.
LORD FORGUE AND LADY ARCTURA.
At the castle things fell into their old routine. Nothing had been
arranged between lord Forgue and Eppy, and he seemed content that it
should be so. Mrs. Brookes told him that she had gone home: he made
neither remark nor inquiry, manifesting no interest.
It would be well his father should not see it necessary to push
things farther! He did not want to turn out of the castle! Without
means, what was he to do? The marriage could not be to-day or
to-morrow! and in the meantime he could see Eppy, perhaps more
easily than at the castle! He would contrive! He was sorry he had
hurt the old fellow, but he could not help it! he would get in the
way! Things would have been much worse if he had not got first to
his father! He would wait a bit, and see what would turn up! For the
tutor-fellow, he must not quarrel with him downright! No good would
come of that! In the end he would have his way! and that in spite of
But what he really wanted he did not know. He only knew, or
imagined, that he was over head and ears in love with the girl: what
was to come of it was all in the clouds. He had said he meant to
marry her; but to that statement he had been driven, more than he
knew, by the desire to escape the contempt of the tutor he scorned;
and he rejoiced that he had at least discomfited him. He knew that
if he did marry Eppy, or any one else of whom his father did not
approve, he had nothing to look for but absolute poverty, for he
knew no way to earn money; he was therefore unprepared to defy him
immediately--whatever he might do by and by. He said to himself
sometimes that he was as willing as any man to work for his wife if
only he knew how; but when he said so, had he always a clear vision
of Eppy as the wife in prospect? Alas, it would take years to make
him able to earn even a woman's wages! It would be a fine thing for
a lord to labour like a common man for the support of a child of the
people for whom he had sacrificed everything; but where was the
possibility? When thoughts like these grew too many for him, Forgue
wished he had never seen the girl. His heart would immediately
reproach him; immediately he would comfort his conscience with the
reflection that to wish he had never seen her was a very different
thing from wishing to act as if he had. He loafed about in her
neighbourhood as much as he dared, haunted the house itself in the
twilight, and at night even ventured sometimes to creep up the
stair, but for some time he never even saw her: for days Eppy never
went out of doors except into the garden.
Though she had not spoken of it, Arctura had had more than a
suspicion that something was going on between her cousin and the
pretty maid; for the little window of her sitting room partially
overlooked a certain retired spot favoured of the lovers; and after
Eppy left the house, Davie, though he did not associate the facts,
noted that she was more cheerful than before. But there was no
enlargement of intercourse between her and Forgue. They knew it was
the wish of the head of the house that they should marry, but the
earl had been wise enough to say nothing openly to either of them:
he believed the thing would have a better chance on its own merits;
and as yet they had shown no sign of drawing to each other. It
might, perhaps, have been otherwise on his part had not the young
lord been taken with the pretty housemaid, though at first he had
thought of nothing more than a little passing flirtation, reckoning
his advantage with her by the height on which he stood in his own
regard; but it was from no jealousy that Arctura was relieved by the
departure of Eppy. She had never seen anything attractive in her
cousin, and her religious impressions would have been enough to
protect her from any drawing to him: had they not poisoned in her
even the virtue of common house-friendliness toward a very different
man? The sense of relief she had when Eppy went, lay in being
delivered from the presence of something clandestine, with which she
could not interfere so far as to confess knowledge of it. It had
rendered her uneasy; she had felt shy and uncomfortable. Once or
twice she had been on the point of saying to Mrs. Brookes that she
thought her cousin and Eppy very oddly familiar, but had failed of
courage. It was no wonder therefore that she should be more
ARCTURA AND SOPHIA.
About this time her friend, Miss Carmichael, returned from a rather
lengthened visit. But after the atonement that had taken place
between her and Donal, it was with some anxiety that lady Arctura
looked forward to seeing her. She shrank from telling her what had
come about through the wonderful poem, as she thought it, which had
so bewitched her. She shrank too from showing her the verses: they
were not of a kind, she was sure, to meet with recognition from her.
She knew she would make game of them, and that not good-humouredly
like Kate, who yet confessed to some beauty in them. For herself,
the poem and the study of its growth had ministered so much
nourishment to certain healthy poetic seeds lying hard and dry in
her bosom, that they had begun to sprout, indeed to shoot rapidly
up. Donal's poem could not fail therefore to be to her thenceforward
something sacred. A related result also was that it had made her
aware of something very defective in her friend's constitution: she
did not know whether in her constitution mental, moral, or
spiritual: probably it was in all three. Doubtless, thought Arctura,
she knew most things better than she, and certainly had a great deal
more common sense; but, on the other hand, was she not satisfied
with far less than she could be satisfied with? To believe as her
friend believed would not save her from insanity! She must be made
on a smaller scale of necessities than herself! How was she able to
love the God she said she believed in? God should at least be as
beautiful as his creature could imagine him! But Miss Carmichael
would say her poor earthly imagination was not to occupy itself with
such a high subject! Oh, why would not God tell her something about
himself--something direct--straight from himself? Why should she
only hear of him at second hand--always and always?
Alas, poor girl! second hand? Five hundredth hand rather? And she
might have been all the time communing with the very God himself,
manifest in his own shape, which is ours also!--all the time
learning that her imagination could never--not to say originate,
but, when presented, receive into it the unspeakable excess of his
loveliness, of his absolute devotion and tenderness to the
creatures, the children of his father!
In the absence of Miss Carmichael she had thought with less
oppression of many things that in her presence appeared
ghastly-hopeless; now in the prospect of her reappearance she began
to feel wicked in daring a thought of her own concerning the God
that was nearer to her than her thoughts! Such an unhealthy mastery
had she gained over her! What if they met Donal, and she saw her
smile to him as she always did now! One thing she was determined
upon--and herein lay the pledge of her coming freedom!--that she
would not behave to him in the least otherwise than her wont. If she
would be worthy, she must be straightforward!
Donal and she had never had any further talk, much as she would have
liked it, upon things poetic. As a matter of supposed duty--where
she had got the idea I do not know--certainly not from Miss
Carmichael, seeing she approved of little poetry but that of Young,
Cowper, Pollok, and James Montgomery--she had been reading the
Paradise Lost, and wished much to speak of it to Donal, but had not
When Miss Carmichael came, she at once perceived a difference in
her, and it set her thinking. She was not one to do or say anything
without thinking over it first. She had such a thorough confidence
in her judgment, and such a pleasure in exercising it, that she
almost always rejected an impulse. Judgment was on the throne;
feeling under the footstool. There was something in Arctura's
carriage which reminded her of the only time when she had stood upon
her rank with her. This was once she made a remark disparaging a
favourite dog: for the animals Arctura could brave even her
spiritual nightmare: they were not under the wrath and curse like
men and women, therefore might be defended! She had on that occasion
shown so much offence that Miss Carmichael saw, if she was to keep
her influence over her, she must avoid rousing the phantom of rank
in defence of prejudice. She was now therefore careful--said next to
nothing, but watched her keenly, and not the less slyly that she
looked her straight in the face. There is an effort to see into the
soul of others that is essentially treacherous; wherever, friendship
being the ostensible bond, inquiry outruns regard, it is
treachery--an endeavour to grasp more than the friend would
They went for a little walk in the grounds; as they returned they
met Donal going out with Davie. Arctura and Donal passed with a bow
and a friendly smile; Davie stopped and spoke to the ladies, then
bounded after his friend.
"Have you attended the scripture-lesson regularly?" asked Miss
"Yes; I have been absent only once, I think, since you left,"
"Good, my dear! You have not been leaving your lamb to the wolf!"
"I begin to doubt if he be a wolf."
"Ah! does he wear his sheepskin so well? Are you sure he is not
plotting to devour sheep and shepherd together?" said Miss
Carmichael, with an open glance of search.
"Don't you think," suggested Arctura, "when you are not able to say
anything, it would be better not to be present? Your silence looks
"But you can always protest! You can assert he is all wrong. You can
say you do not in the least agree with him!"
"But what if you are not sure that you do not agree with him?"
"I thought as much!" said Miss Carmichael to herself. "I might have
foreseen this!"--Here she spoke.--"If you are not sure you do agree,
you can say, 'I can't say I agree with you!' It is always safer to
admit little than much."
"I do not quite follow you. But speaking of little and much, I am
sure I want a great deal more than I know yet to save me. I have
never yet heard what seems enough."
"Is that to say God has not done his part?"
"No; it is only to say that I hope he has done more than I have yet
"More than send his son to die for your sins?"
"More than you say that means."
"You have but to believe Christ did so."
"I don't know that he died for my sins."
"He died for the sins of the whole world."
"Then I must be saved!"
"Yes, if you believe that he made atonement for your sins."
"Then I cannot be saved except I believe that I shall be saved. And
I cannot believe I shall be saved until I know I shall be saved!"
"You are cavilling, Arctura! Ah, this is what you have been learning
of Mr. Grant! I ought not to have gone away!"
"Nothing of the sort!" said Arctura, drawing herself up a little. "I
am sorry if I have said anything wrong; but really I can get hold of
nothing! I feel sometimes as if I should go out of my mind."
"Arctura, I have done my best for you! If you think you have found a
better teacher, no warning, I fear, will any longer avail!"
"If I did think I had found a better teacher, no warning certainly
would; I am only afraid I have not. But of one thing I am sure--that
the things Mr. Grant teaches are much more to be desired than--"
"By the unsanctified heart, no doubt!" said Sophia.
"The unsanctified heart," rejoined Arctura, astonished at her own
boldness, and the sense of power and freedom growing in her as she
spoke, "surely needs God as much as the sanctified! But can the
heart be altogether unsanctified that desires to find God so
beautiful and good that it can worship him with its whole power of
love and adoration? Or is God less beautiful and good than that?"
"We ought to worship God whatever he is."
"But could we love him with all our hearts if he were not altogether
"He might not be the less to be worshipped though he seemed so to
us. We must worship his justice as much as his love, his power as
much as his justice."
Arctura returned no answer; the words had fallen on her heart like
an ice-berg. She was not, however, so utterly overwhelmed by them as
she would have been some time before; she thought with herself, "I
will ask Mr. Grant! I am sure he does not think like that! Worship
power as much as love! I begin to think she does not understand what
she is talking about! If I were to make a creature needing all my
love to make life endurable to him, and then not be kind enough to
him, should I not be cruel? Would I not be to blame? Can God be God
and do anything conceivably to blame--anything that is not
altogether beautiful? She tells me we cannot judge what it would be
right for God to do by what it would be right for us to do: if what
seems right to me is not right to God, I must wrong my conscience
and be a sinner in order to serve him! Then my conscience is not the
voice of God in me! How then am I made in his image? What does it
mean? Ah, but that image has been defaced by the fall! So I cannot
tell a bit what God is like? Then how am I to love him? I never can
love him! I am very miserable! I am not God's child!
Thus, long after Miss Carmichael had taken a coldly sorrowful
farewell of her, Arctura went round and round the old mill-horse
rack of her self-questioning: God was not to be trusted in until she
had done something she could not do, upon which he would take her
into his favour, and then she could trust him! What a God to give
all her heart to, to long for, to dream of being at home with! Then
she compared Miss Carmichael and Donal Grant, and thought whether
Donal might not be as likely to be right as she. Oh, where was
assurance, where was certainty about anything! How was she ever to
know? What if the thing she came to know for certain should be--a
God she could not love!
The next day was Sunday. Davie and his tutor overtook her going home
from church. It came as of itself to her lips, and she said,
"Mr. Grant, how are we to know what God is like?"
"'Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father and it sufficeth
us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet
hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the
father, and how sayest thou then, Show us the father?'"
Thus answered Donal, without a word of his own, and though the three
walked side by side, it was ten minutes before another was spoken.
Then at last said Arctura,
"If I could but see Christ!"
"It is not necessary to see him to know what he is like. You can
read what those who knew him said he was like; that is the first
step to understanding him, which is the true seeing; the second is,
doing what he tells you: when you understand him--there is your
>From that day Arctura's search took a new departure. It is strange
how often one may hear a thing, yet never have really heard it! The
heart can hear only what it is capable of hearing; therefore "the
times of this ignorance God winked at;" but alas for him who will
not hear what he is capable of hearing!
His failure to get word or even sight of Eppy, together with some
uneasiness at the condition in which her grandfather continued,
induced lord Forgue to accept the invitation--which his father had
taken pains to have sent him--to spend three weeks or a month with a
relative in the north of England. He would gladly have sent a
message to Eppy before he went, but had no one he could trust with
it: Davie was too much under the influence of his tutor! So he
departed without sign, and Eppy soon imagined he had deserted her.
For a time her tears flowed yet more freely, but by and by she began
to feel something of relief in having the matter settled, for she
could not see how they were ever to be married. She would have been
content to love him always, she said to herself, were there no
prospect of marriage, or even were there no marriage in question;
but would he continue to care for her love? She did not think she
could expect that. So with many tears she gave him up--or thought
she did. He had loved her, and that was a grand thing!
There was much that was good, and something that was wise in the
girl, notwithstanding her folly in allowing such a lover. The
temptation was great: even if his attentions were in their nature
but transient, they were sweet while they passed. I doubt if her
love was of the deepest she had to give; but who can tell? A woman
will love where a man can see nothing lovely. So long as she is able
still to love, she is never quite to be pitied; but when the
So the dull days went by.
But for lady Arctura a great hope had begun to dawn--the hope,
namely, that the world was in the hand, yea in the heart of One whom
she herself might one day see, in her inmost soul, and with clearest
eyes, to be Love itself--not a love she could not care for, but the
very heart, generating centre, embracing circumference, and crown of
Donal prayed to God for lady Arctura, and waited. Her hour was not
yet come, but was coming! Everyone that is ready the Father brings
to Jesus: the disciple is not greater than his master, and must not
think to hasten the hour, or lead one who is not yet taught of God;
he must not be miserable about another as if God had forgotten him.
Strange helpers of God we shall be, if, thinking to do his work, we
act as if he were neglecting it! To wait for God, believing it his
one design to redeem his creatures, ready to put the hand to, the
moment his hour strikes, is the faith fit for a fellow-worker with
One stormy Friday night in the month of March, when a bitter east
wind was blowing, Donal, seated at the plain deal-table he had got
Mrs. Brookes to find him that he might use it regardless of ink, was
drawing upon it a diagram, in quest of a simplification for Davie,
when a sudden sense of cold made him cast a glance at his fire. He
had been aware that it was sinking, but, as there was no fuel in the
room, had forgotten it again: it was very low, and he must at once
fetch both wood and coal! In certain directions and degrees of wind
this was rather a ticklish task; but he had taken the precaution of
putting up here and there a bit of rope. Closing the door behind him
to keep in what warmth he might, and ascending the stairs a few feet
higher, he stepped out on the bartizan, and so round the tower to
the roof. There he stood for a moment to look about him.
It was a moonlit night, so far as the clouds, blown in huge and
almost continuous masses over the heavens, would permit the light of
the moon to emerge. The roaring of the sea came like a low rolling
mist across the flats. The air gloomed and darkened and lightened
again around him, as the folds of the cloud-blanket overhead were
torn, or dropped trailing, or gathered again in the arms of the
hurrying wind. As he stood, it seemed suddenly to change, and take a
touch of south in its blowing. The same instant came to his ear a
loud wail: it was the ghost-music! There was in it the cry of a
discord, mingling with a wild rolling change of harmonies. He stood
"like one forbid," and listened with all his power. It came again,
and again, and was more continuous than he had ever heard it before.
Here was now a chance indeed of tracing it home! As a gaze-hound
with his eyes, as a sleuth-hound with his nose, he stood ready to
start hunting with his listing listening ear. The seeming approach
and recession of the sounds might be occasioned by changes in their
strength, not by any change of position!
"It must come from somewhere on the roof!" he said, and setting down
the pail he had brought, he got on his hands and knees, first to
escape the wind in his ears, and next to diminish its hold on his
person. Over roof after roof he crept like a cat, stopping to listen
every time a new gush of the sound came, then starting afresh in the
search for its source. Upon a great gathering of roofs like these,
erected at various times on various levels, and with all kinds of
architectural accommodations of one part to another, sound would be
variously deflected, and as difficult to trace as inside the house!
Careless of cold or danger, he persisted, creeping up, creeping
down, over flat leads, over sloping slates, over great roofing
stones, along low parapets, and round ticklish corners--following
the sound ever, as a cat a flitting unconscious bird: when it
ceased, he would keep slowly on in the direction last chosen.
Sometimes, when the moon was more profoundly obscured, he would have
to stop altogether, unable to get a peep of his way.
On one such occasion, when it was nearly pitch-dark, and the sound
had for some time ceased, he was crouching upon a high-pitched roof
of great slabs, his fingers clutched around the edges of one of
them, and his mountaineering habits standing him in good stead,
protected a little from the force of the blast by a huge stack of
chimneys that rose to windward: while he clung thus waiting--louder
than he had yet heard it, almost in his very ear, arose the musical
ghost-cry--this time like that of a soul in torture. The moon came
out, as at the cry, to see, but Donal could spy nothing to suggest
its origin. As if disappointed, the moon instantly withdrew, the
darkness again fell, and the wind rushed upon him full of keen
slanting rain, as if with fierce intent of protecting the secret:
there was little chance of success that night! he must break off the
hunt till daylight! If there was any material factor in the sound,
he would be better able to discover it then! By the great
chimney-stack he could identify the spot where he had been nearest
to it! There remained for the present but the task of finding his
way back to his tower.
A difficult task it was--more difficult than he anticipated. He had
not an idea in what direction his tower lay--had not an idea of the
track, if track it could be called, by which he had come. One thing
only was clear--it was somewhere else than where he was. He set out
therefore, like any honest pilgrim who knows only he must go
somewhere else, and began his wanderings. He found himself far more
obstructed than in coming. Again and again he could go no farther in
the direction he was trying, again and again had to turn and try
another. It was half-an-hour at least before he came to a spot he
knew, and by that time, with the rain the wind had fallen a little.
Against a break in the clouds he saw the outline of one of his
store-sheds, and his way was thenceforward plain. He caught up his
pail, filled it with coal and wood, and hastened to his nest as
quickly as cramped joints would carry him, hopeless almost of
finding his fire still alive.
But when he reached the stair, and had gone down a few steps, he saw
a strange sight: below him, at his door, with a small wax-taper in
her hand, stood the form of a woman, in the posture of one who had
just knocked, and was hearkening for an answer. So intent was she,
and so loud was the wind among the roofs, that she had not heard his
step, and he stood a moment afraid to speak lest he should startle
her. Presently she knocked again. He made an attempt at ventriloquy,
saying in a voice to sound farther off than it was, "Come in." A
hand rose to the latch, and opened the door. By the hand he knew it
was lady Arctura.
"Welcome to the stormy sky, my lady!" he said, as he entered the
room after her--a pleasant object after his crawling excursion!
She started a little at his voice behind her, and turning was more
Donal was more like a chimney-sweep than a tutor in a lord's castle.
He was begrimed and blackened from head to foot, and carried a
pailful of coals and wood. Reading readily her look, he made haste
"I have been on the roof for the last hour," he said.
"What were you doing there," she asked, with a strange mingling of
expressions, "in such a night?"
"I heard the music, my lady--the ghost-music, you know, that haunts
the castle, and--"
"I heard it too," she murmured, with a look almost of terror. "I
have often heard it before, but never so loud as to-night. Have you
any notion about it, Mr. Grant?"
"None whatever--except that I am nearly sure it comes from somewhere
about the roof."
"If you could clear up the mystery!"
"I have some hope of it.--You are not frightened, my lady?"
She had caught hold of the back of a chair.
"Do sit down. I will get you some water."
"No, no; I shall be right in a moment!" she answered. "Your stair
has taken my breath away. But my uncle is in such a strange
condition that I could not help coming to you."
"I have seen him myself, more than once, very strange."
"Will you come with me?"
She left the room, and led the way, by the light of her dim taper,
down the stair. About the middle of it, she stopped at a door, and
turning said, with a smile like that of a child, and the first
untroubled look Donal had yet seen upon her face--
"How delightful it is to be taken out of fear! I am not the least
"I am very glad," said Donal. "I should like to kill fear; it is the
shadow that follows at the heels of wrong.--Do you think the music
has anything to do with your uncle's condition?"
"I do not know."
She turned again hastily, and passing through the door, entered a
part of the house with which Donal had no acquaintance. With many
bewildering turns, she led him to the great staircase, down which
she continued her course. The house was very still: it must surely
be later than he had thought--only there were so few servants in it
for its extent! His guide went very fast, with a step light as a
bird's: at one moment he had all but lost sight of her in the great
curve. At the room in which Donal first saw the earl, she stopped.
The door was open, but there was no light within. She led him across
to the door of the little chamber behind. A murmur, but no light,
came from it. In a moment it was gone, and the deepest silence
filled the world. Arctura entered. One step within the door she
stood still, and held high her taper. Donal looked in sideways.
A small box was on the floor against the foot of the farthest wall,
and on the box, in a long dressing gown of rich faded stuff, the
silk and gold in which shone feebly in the dim light, stood the tall
meagre form of the earl, with his back to the door, his face to the
wall, close to it, and his arms and hands stretched out against it,
like one upon a cross. He stood without moving a muscle or uttering
a sound. What could it mean? Donal gazed in a blank dismay.
Not a minute had passed, though it was to him a long and painful
time, when the murmuring came again. He listened as to a voice from
another world--a thing terrible to those whose fear dwells in
another world. But to Donal it was terrible as a voice from no other
world could have been; it came from an unseen world of sin and
suffering--a world almost a negation of the eternal, a world of
darkness and the shadow of death. But surely there was hope for that
world yet!--for whose were the words in which its indwelling despair
"And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds;
but this man hath done nothing amiss!"
Again the silence fell, but the form did not move, and still they
stood regarding him.
>From far away came the sound of the ghost-music. The head against
the wall began to move as if waking from sleep. The hands sank along
the wall and fell by the sides. The earl gave a deep sigh, but still
stood leaning his forehead against the wall.
Arctura turned, and they left the room.
She went down the stair, and on to the library. Its dark oak cases
and old bindings reflected hardly a ray of the poor taper she
carried; but the fire was not yet quite out. She set down the light,
and looked at Donal in silence.
"What does it all mean?" he asked in a hoarse whisper.
"God knows!" she returned solemnly.
"Are we safe?" he asked. "May he not come here?"
"I do not think he will. I have seen him in many parts of the house,
but never here."
Even as she spoke the door swung noiselessly open, and the earl
entered. His face was ghastly pale; his eyes were wide open; he came
straight towards them. But he did not see them; or if he did, he saw
them but as phantoms of the dream in which he was walking--phantoms
which had not yet become active in the dream. He drew a chair to the
embers, in his fancy doubtless a great fire, sat for a moment or two
gazing into them, rose, went the whole length of the room, took down
a book, returned with it to the fire, drew towards him Arctura's
tiny taper, opened the book, and began to read in an audible murmur.
Donal, trying afterwards to recall and set down what he had heard,
wrote nothing better than this:--
In the heart of the earth-cave
Lay the king.
Through chancel and choir and nave
The bells ring.
Said the worm at his side,
Turn to thy bride;
Is the night so cool?
Wouldst thou lie like a stone till the aching morn
Out of the dark be born?
Heavily pressed the night enorm,
But he heard the voice of the worm,
Like the sound of a muttered thunder low,
In the realms where no feet go.
And he said, I will rise,
I will will myself glad;
I will open my eyes,
And no more sleep sad.
For who is a god
But the man who can spring
Up from the sod,
And be his own king?
I will model my gladness,
Dig my despair--
And let goodness or badness
Be folly's own care!
I will he content,
And the world shall spin round
Till its force be outspent.
It shall drop
Like a top
Spun by a boy,
While I sit in my tent,
In a featureless joy--
Sit without sound,
And toss up my world,
Till it burst and be drowned
In the blackness upcurled
>From the deep hell-ground.
The dreams of a god
Are the worlds of his slaves:
I will be my own god,
And rule my own knaves!
He went on in this way for some minutes; then the rimes grew less
perfect, and the utterance sank into measured prose. The tone of the
speaker showed that he took the stuff for glowing verse, and
regarded it as embodying his own present consciousness. One might
have thought the worm would have a word to say in rejoinder; but no;
the worm had vanished, and the buried dreamer had made himself a
god--his own god! Donal stole up softly behind him, and peeped at
the open book: it was the Novum Organum!
They glided out of the room, and left the dreamer to his dreams.
"Do you think," said Donal, "I ought to tell Simmons?"
"It would be better. Do you know where to find him?"
"I do not."
"I will show you a bell that rings in his room. He will think his
lordship has rung it."
They went and rang the bell. In a minute or two they heard the steps
of the faithful servant seeking his master, and bade each other