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Donal Grant by George MacDonald

Part 7 out of 11

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station in front of the open door. Presently came a neighbour woman
from her house, leading by the hand a little girl too young to go to
church. She stood talking with him for some time.

"Suddenly she cried, 'Good Lord! what's come o' the bairn?' The same
instant came one piercing shriek--from some distance it seemed. The
mother darted down the neighbouring close. But the keeper saw that
the door behind him was shut, and was filled with horrible dismay.
He darted to an entrance in the close, of which he always kept the
key about him, and went straight to the kitchen. There by the fire
stood the savage, gazing with a fixed fishy eye of rapture at the
cauldron, which the steam, issuing in little sharp jets from under
the lid, showed to be boiling furiously, with grand prophecy of
broth. Ghastly horror in his very bones, the keeper lifted the
lid--and there, beside the beef, with the broth bubbling in waves
over her, lay the child! The demon had torn off her frock, and
thrust her into the boiling liquid!

"There rose such an outcry that they were compelled to put him in
chains and carry him no one knew whither; but nurse said he lived to
old age. Ever since, the house has been uninhabited, with, of
course, the reputation of being haunted. If you happen to be in its
neighbourhood when it begins to grow dark, you may see the children
hurry past it in silence, now and then glancing back in dread, lest
something should have opened the never-opened door, and be stealing
after them. They call that something The Red Etin,--only this ogre
was black, I am sorry to say; red was the proper colour for him."

"It is a horrible story!" said Donal.

"I want you to go to the house for me: you do not mind going, do

"Not in the least," answered Donal.

"I want you to search a certain bureau there for some papers.--By
the way, have you any news to give me about Forgue?"

"No, my lord," answered Donal. "I do not even know whether or not
they meet, but I am afraid."

"Oh, I daresay," rejoined his lordship, "the whim is wearing off!
One pellet drives out another. Behind the love in the popgun came
the conviction that it would be simple ruin! But we Graemes are
stiff-necked both to God and man, and I don't trust him much."

"He gave you no promise, if you remember, my lord."

"I remember very well; why the deuce should I not remember? I am not
in the way of forgetting things! No, by God! nor forgiving them
either! Where there's anything to forgive there's no fear of my

He followed the utterance with a laugh, as if he would have it pass
for a joke, but there was no ring in the laugh.

He then gave Donal detailed instructions as to where the bureau
stood, how he was to open it with a curious key which he told him
where to find in the room, how also to open the secret part of the
bureau in which the papers lay.

"Forget!" he echoed, turning and sweeping back on his trail; "I have
not been in that house for twenty years: you can judge whether I
forget!--No!" he added with an oath, "if I found myself forgetting I
should think it time to look out; but there is no sign of that yet,
thank God! There! take the keys, and be off! Simmons will give you
the key of the house. You had better take that of the door in the
close: it is easier to open."

Donal went away wondering at the pleasure his frightful tale
afforded the earl: he had seemed positively to gloat over the
details of it! These were much worse than I have recorded: he showed
special delight in narrating how the mother took the body of her
child out of the pot!

He sought Simmons and asked him for the key. The butler went to find
it, but returned saying he could not lay his hands upon it; there
was, however, the key of the front door: it might prove stiff! Donal
took it, and having oiled it well, set out for Morven House. But on
his way he turned aside to see the Comins.

Andrew looked worse, and he thought he must be sinking. The moment
he saw Donal he requested they might be left alone for a few

"My yoong freen'," he said, "the Lord has fauvoured me greatly in
grantin' my last days the licht o' your coontenance. I hae learnt a
heap frae ye 'at I kenna hoo I could hae come at wantin' ye."

"Eh, An'rew!" interrupted Donal, "I dinna weel ken hoo that can be,
for it aye seemt to me ye had a' the knowledge 'at was gaein'!"

"The man can ill taich wha's no gaein' on learnin'; an' maybe whiles
he learns mair frae his scholar nor the scholar learns frae him. But
it's a' frae the Lord; the Lord is that speerit--an' first o' a' the
speerit o' obeddience, wi'oot which there's no learnin'. Still, my
son, it may comfort ye a wee i' the time to come, to think the auld
cobbler Anerew Comin gaed intil the new warl' fitter company for the
help ye gied him afore he gaed. May the Lord mak a sicht o' use o'
ye! Fowk say a heap aboot savin' sowls, but ower aften, I doobt,
they help to tak frae them the sense o' hoo sair they're in want o'
savin'. Surely a man sud ken in himsel' mair an' mair the need o'
bein' saved, till he cries oot an' shoots, 'I am saved, for there's
nane in h'aven but thee, an' there's nane upo' the earth I desire
besides thee! Man, wuman, child, an' live cratur, is but a portion
o' thee, whauron to lat the love o' thee rin ower!' Whan a man can
say that, he's saved; an' no till than, though for lang years he may
hae been aye comin' nearer to that goal o' a' houp, the hert o' the
father o' me, an' you, an' Doory, an' Eppy, an' a' the nations o'
the earth!"

He stopped weary, but his eyes, fixed on Donal, went on where his
voice had ended, and for a time Donal seemed to hear what his soul
was saying, and to hearken with content. But suddenly their light
went out, the old man gave a sigh, and said:--

"It's ower for this warl', my freen'. It's comin'--the hoor o'
darkness. But the thing 'at's true whan the licht shines, is as true
i' the dark: ye canna work, that's a'. God 'ill gie me grace to lie
still. It's a' ane. I wud lie jist as I used to sit, i' the days
whan I men'it fowk's shune, an' Doory happent to tak awa' the licht
for a moment;--I wud sit aye luikin' doon throuw the mirk at my
wark, though I couldna see a stime o' 't, the alison (awl) i' my
han' ready to put in the neist steek the moment the licht fell upo'
the spot whaur it was to gang. That's hoo I wud lie whan I'm deein',
jist waitin' for the licht, no for the dark, an' makin' an
incense-offerin' o' my patience whan I hae naething ither to offer,
naither thoucht nor glaidness nor sorrow, naething but patience
burnin' in pain. He'll accep' that; for, my son, the maister's jist
as easy to please as he's ill to saitisfee. Ye hae seen a mither
ower her wee lassie's sampler? She'll praise an' praise 't, an' be
richt pleast wi' 't; but wow gien she was to be content wi' the
thing in her han'! the lassie's man, whan she cam to hae ane, wud
hae an ill time o' 't wi' his hose an' his sarks! But noo I hae a
fauvour to beg o' ye--no for my sake but for hers: gien ye hae the
warnin', ye'll be wi' me whan I gang? It may be a comfort to
mysel'--I dinna ken--nane can tell 'at hasna dee'd afore--nor even
than, for deiths are sae different!--doobtless Lazarus's twa deiths
war far frae alike!--but it'll be a great comfort to Doory--I'm
clear upo' that. She winna fin' hersel' sae lanesome like, losin'
sicht o' her auld man, gien the freen' o' his hert be aside her whan
he gangs."

"Please God, I'll be at yer comman'," said Donal.

"Noo cry upo' Doory, for I wudna see less o' her nor I may. It may
be years 'afore I get a sicht o' her lo'in' face again! But the same
Lord 's in her an' i' me, an' we canna far be sun'ert, hooever lang
the time 'afore we meet again."

Donal called Doory, and took his leave.



Opposite Morven House was a building which had at one time been the
stables to it, but was now part of a brewery; a high wall shut it
off from the street; it was dinner-time with the humbler people of
the town, and there was not a soul visible, when Donal put the key
in the lock of the front door, opened it, and went in: he had timed
his entrance so, desiring to avoid idle curiosity, and bring no
gathering feet about the house. Almost on tiptoe he entered the
lofty hall, high above the first story. The dust lay thick on a
large marble table--but what was that?--a streak across it, brushed
sharply through the middle of the dust! It was strange! But he would
not wait to speculate on the agent! The room to which the earl had
directed him was on the first floor, and he ascended to it at
once--by the great oak staircase which went up the sides of the

The house had not been dismantled, although things had at different
times been taken from it, and when Donal opened a leaf of shutter,
he saw tables and chairs and cabinets inlaid with silver and ivory.
The room looked stately, but everything was deep in dust; carpets
and curtains were thick with the deserted sepulchres of moths; and
the air somehow suggested a tomb: Donal thought of the tombs of the
kings of Egypt before ravaging conquerors broke into them, when they
were yet full of all such gorgeous furniture as great kings desired,
against the time when the souls should return to reanimate the
bodies so carefully spiced and stored to welcome them, and the great
kings would be themselves again, with the added wisdom of the dead
and judged. Conscious of a curious timidity, feeling a kind of
awesomeness about every form in the room, he stepped softly to the
bureau, applied its key, and following carefully the directions the
earl had given him, for the lock was Italian, with more than one
quip and crank and wanton wile about it, succeeded in opening it. He
had no difficulty in finding its secret place, nor the packet
concealed in it; but just as he laid his hands on it, he was aware
of a swift passage along the floor without, past the door of the
room, and apparently up the next stair. There was nothing he could
distinguish as footsteps, or as the rustle of a dress; it seemed as
if he had heard but a disembodied motion! He darted to the door,
which he had by habit closed behind him, and opened it noiselessly.
The stairs above as below were covered with thick carpet: any light
human foot might pass without a sound; only haste would murmur the
secret to the troubled air.

He turned, replaced the packet, and closed the bureau. If there was
any one in the house, he must know it, and who could tell what might
follow! It was the merest ghost of a sound he had heard, but he must
go after it! Some intruder might be using the earl's house for his
own purposes!

Going softly up, he paused at the top of the second stair, and
looked around him. An iron-clenched door stood nearly opposite the
head of it; and at the farther end of a long passage, on whose sides
were several closed doors, was one partly open. From that direction
came the sound of a little movement, and then of low voices--one
surely that of a woman! It flashed upon him that this must be the
trysting-place of Eppy and Forgue. Fearing discovery before he
should have gathered his wits, he stepped quietly across the passage
to the door opposite, opened it, not without a little noise, and
went in.

It was a strange-looking chamber he had entered--that, doubtless,
once occupied by the ogre--The Reid Etin. Even in the bewilderment
of the moment, the tale he had just heard was so present to him that
he cast his eyes around, and noted several things to confirm the
conclusion. But the next instant came from below what sounded like a
thundering knock at the street door--a single knock, loud and
fierce--possibly a mere runaway's knock. The start it gave Donal set
his heart shaking in his bosom.

Almost with it came a little cry, and the sound of a door pulled
open. Then he heard a hurried, yet carefully soft step, which went
down the stair.

"Now is my time!" said Donal to himself. "She is alone!"

He came out, and went along the passage. The door at the end of it
was open, and Eppy stood in it. She saw him coming, and gazed with
widespread eyes of terror, as if it were The Reid Etin
himself--waked, and coming to devour her. As he came, her blue eyes
opened wider, and seemed to fix in their orbits; just as her name
was on his lips, she dropped with a sharp moan. He caught her up,
and hurried with her down the stair.

As he reached the first floor, he heard the sound of swift ascending
steps, and the next moment was face to face with Forgue. The youth
started back, and for a moment stood staring. His enemy had found
him! But rage restored to him his self-possession.

"Put her down, you scoundrel!" he said.

"She can't stand," Donal answered.

"You've killed her, you damned spy!"

"Then I have been more kind than you!"

"What are you going to do with her?"

"Take her home to her dying grandfather."

"You've hurt her, you devil! I know you have!"

"She is only frightened. She is coming to herself. I feel her

"You shall feel me presently!" cried Forgue. "Put her down, I say."

Neither of them spoke loud, for dread of neighbours.

Eppy began to writhe in Donal's arms. Forgue laid hold of her, and
Donal was compelled to put her down. She threw herself into the arms
of her lover, and was on the point of fainting again.

"Get out of the house!" said Forgue to Donal.

"I am here on your father's business!" returned Donal.

"A spy and informer!"

"He sent me to fetch him some papers."

"It is a lie!" said Forgue; "I see it in your face!"

"So long as I speak the truth," rejoined Donal, "it matters little
that you should think me a liar. But, my lord, you must allow me to
take Eppy home."

"A likely thing!" answered Forgue, drawing Eppy closer, and looking
at him with contempt.

"Give up the girl," said Donal sternly, "or I will raise the town,
and have a crowd about the house in three minutes."

"You are the devil!" cried Forgue. "There! take her--with the
consequences! If you had let us alone, I would have done my
part.--Leave us now, and I'll promise to marry her. If you don't,
you will have the blame of what may happen--not I."

"But you will, dearest?" said Eppy in a tone terrified and

Gladly she would have had Donal hear him say he would.

Forgue pushed her from him. She burst into tears. He took her in his
arms again, and soothed her like a child, assuring her he meant
nothing by what he had said.

"You are my own!" he went on; "you know you are, whatever our
enemies may drive us to! Nothing can part us. Go with him, my
darling, for the present. The time will come when we shall laugh at
them all. If it were not for your sake, and the scandal of the
thing, I would send the rascal to the bottom of the stair. But it is
better to be patient."

Sobbing bitterly, Eppy went with Donal. Forgue stood shaking with
impotent rage.

When they reached the street, Donal turned to lock the door. Eppy
darted from him, and ran down the close, thinking to go in again by
the side door. But it was locked, and Donal was with her in a

"You go home alone, Eppy," he said; "it will be just as well I
should not go with you. I must see lord Forgue out of the house."

"Eh, ye winna hurt him!" pleaded Eppy.

"Not if I can help it. I don't want to hurt him. You go home. It
will be better for him as well as you."

She went slowly away, weeping, but trying to keep what show of calm
she could. Donal waited a minute or two, went back to the front
door, entered, and hastening to the side door took the key from the
lock. Then returning to the hall, he cried from the bottom of the

"My lord, I have both the keys; the side door is locked; I am about
to lock the front door, and I do not want to shut you in. Pray, come

Forgue came leaping down the stair, and threw himself upon Donal in
a fierce attempt after the key in his hand. The sudden assault
staggered him, and he fell on the floor with Forgue above him, who
sought to wrest the key from him. But Donal was much the stronger;
he threw his assailant off him; and for a moment was tempted to give
him a good thrashing. From this the thought of Eppy helped to
restrain him, and he contented himself with holding him down till he
yielded. When at last he lay quiet,

"Will you promise to walk out if I let you up?" said Donal. "If you
will not, I will drag you into the street by the legs."

"I will," said Forgue; and getting up, he walked out and away
without a word.

Donal locked the door, forgetting all about the papers, and went
back to Andrew's. There was Eppy, safe for the moment! She was busy
in the outer room, and kept her back to him. With a word or two to
the grandmother, he left them, and went home, revolving all the way
what he ought to do. Should he tell the earl, or should he not? Had
he been a man of rectitude, he would not have hesitated a moment;
but knowing he did not care what became of Eppy, so long as his son
did not marry her, he felt under no obligation to carry him the evil
report. The father might have a right to know, but had he a right to
know from him?

A noble nature finds it almost impossible to deal with questions on
other than the highest grounds: where those grounds are
unrecognized, the relations of responsibility may be difficult
indeed to determine. All Donal was able to conclude on his way home,
and he did not hurry, was, that, if he were asked any questions, he
would speak out what he knew--be absolutely open. If that should put
a weapon in the hand of the enemy, a weapon was not the victory.



No sooner had he entered the castle, where his return had been
watched for, than Simmons came to him with the message that his
lordship wanted to see him. Then first Donal remembered that he had
not brought the papers! Had he not been sent for, he would have gone
back at once to fetch them. As it was, he must see the earl first.

He found him in a worse condition than usual. His last drug or
combination of drugs had not agreed with him; or he had taken too
much, with correspondent reaction: he was in a vile temper. Donal
told him he had been to the house, and had found the papers, but had
not brought them--had, in fact, forgotten them.

"A pretty fellow you are!" cried the earl. "What, you left those
papers lying about where any rascal may find them and play the deuce
with them!"

Donal assured him they were perfectly safe, under the same locks and
keys as before.

"You are always going about the bush!" cried the earl. "You never
come to the point! How the devil was it you locked them up
again?--To go prying all over the house, I suppose!"

Donal told him as much of the story as he would hear. Almost
immediately he saw whither it tended, he began to abuse him for
meddling with things he had nothing to do with. What right had he to
interfere with lord Forgue's pleasures! Things of the sort were to
be regarded as non-existent! The linen had to be washed, but it was
not done in the great court! Lord Forgue was a youth of position:
why should he be balked of his fancy! It might be at the expense of

Donal took advantage of the first pause to ask whether he should not
go back and bring the papers: he would run all the way, he said.

"No, damn you!" answered the earl. "Give me the keys--all the
keys--house-keys and all. I should be a fool myself to trust such a
fool again!"

As Donal was laying the last key on the table by his lordship's
bedside, Simmons appeared, saying lord Forgue desired to know if his
father would see him.

"Oh, yes! send him up!" cried the earl in a fury. "All the devils in
hell at once!"

His lordship's rages came up from abysses of misery no man knew but

"You go into the next room, Grant," he said, "and wait there till I
call you."

Donal obeyed, took a book from the table, and tried to read. He
heard the door to the passage open and close again, and then the
sounds of voices. By degrees they grew louder, and at length the
earl roared out, so that Donal could not help hearing:

"I'll be damned soul and body in hell, but I'll put a stop to this!
Why, you son of a snake! I have but to speak the word, and you
are--well, what--. Yes, I will hold my tongue, but not if he crosses
me!--By God! I have held it too long already!--letting you grow up
the damnablest ungrateful dog that ever snuffed carrion!--And your
poor father periling his soul for you, by God, you rascal!"

"Thank heaven, you cannot take the title from me, my lord!" said
Forgue coolly. "The rest you are welcome to give to Davie! It won't
be too much, by all accounts!"

"Damn you and your title! A pretty title, ha, ha, ha!--Why, you
infernal fool, you have no more right to the title than the beggarly
kitchen-maid you would marry! If you but knew yourself, you would
crow in another fashion! Ha, ha, ha!"

At this Donal opened the door.

"I must warn your lordship," he said, "that if you speak so loud, I
shall hear every word."

"Hear and be damned to you!--That fellow there--you see him standing
there--the mushroom that he is! Good God! how I loved his mother!
and this is the way he serves me! But there was a Providence in the
whole affair! Never will I disbelieve in a Providence again! It all
comes out right, perfectly right! Small occasion had I to be
breaking heart and conscience over it ever since she left me! Hang
the pinchbeck rascal! he's no more Forgue than you are, Grant, and
never will be Morven if he live a hundred years! He's not a short
straw better than any bastard in the street! His mother was the
loveliest woman ever breathed!--and loved me--ah, God! it is
something after all to have been loved so--and by such a woman!--a
woman, by God! ready and willing and happy to give up everything for
me! Everything, do you hear, you damned rascal! I never married her!
Do you hear, Grant? I take you to witness; mark my words: we, that
fellow's mother and I, were never married--by no law, Scotch, or
French, or Dutch, or what you will! He's a damned bastard, and may
go about his business when he pleases. Oh, yes! pray do! Marry your
scullion when you please! You are your own master--entlrely your own
master!--free as the wind that blows to go where you will and do
what you please! I wash my hands of you. You'll do as you
please--will you? Then do, and please me: I desire no better
revenge! I only tell you once for all, the moment I know for certain
you've married the wench, that moment I publish to the world--that
is, I acquaint certain gossips with the fact, that the next lord
Morven will have to be hunted for like a truffle--ha! ha! ha!"

He burst into a fiendish fit of laughter, and fell back on his
pillow, dark with rage and the unutterable fury that made of his
being a volcano. The two men had been standing dumb before him,
Donal pained for the man on whom this phial of devilish wrath had
been emptied, he white and trembling with dismay--an abject
creature, crushed by a cruel parent. When his father ceased, he
still stood, still said nothing: power was gone from him. He grew
ghastly, uttered a groan, and wavered. Donal supported him to a
chair; he dropped into it, and leaned back, with streaming face. It
was miserable to think that one capable of such emotion concerning
the world's regard, should be so indifferent to what alone can
affect a man--the nature of his actions--so indifferent to the agony
of another as to please himself at all risk to her, although he
believed he loved her, and perhaps did love her better than any one
else in the world. For Donal did not at all trust him regarding
Eppy--less now than ever. But these thoughts went on in him almost
without his thinking them; his attention was engrossed with the
passionate creatures before him.

The father too seemed to have lost the power of motion, and lay with
his eyes closed, breathing heavily. But by and by he made what Donal
took for a sign to ring the bell. He did so, and Simmons came. The
moment he entered, and saw the state his master was in, he hastened
to a cupboard, took thence a bottle, poured from it something
colourless, and gave it to him in water. It brought him to himself.
He sat up again, and in a voice hoarse and terrible said:--

"Think of what I have told you, Forgue. Do as I would have you, and
the truth is safe; take your way without me, and I will take mine
without you. Go."

Donal went. Forgue did not move.

What was Donal to do or think now? Perplexities gathered upon him.
Happily there was time for thought, and for prayer, which is the
highest thinking. Here was a secret affecting the youth his enemy,
and the boy his friend! affecting society itself--that society
which, largely capable and largely guilty of like sins, yet visits
with such unmercy the sins of the fathers upon the children, the
sins of the offender upon the offended! But there is another who
visits them, and in another fashion! What was he to do? Was he to
hold his tongue and leave the thing as not his, or to speak out as
he would have done had the case been his own? Ought the chance to be
allowed the nameless youth of marrying his cousin? Ought the next
heir to the lordship to go without his title? Had they not both a
claim upon Donal for the truth? Donal thought little of such things
himself, but did that affect his duty in the matter? He might think
little of money, but would he therefore look on while a pocket was

On reflection he saw, however, that there was no certainty the earl
was speaking the truth; for anything he knew of him, he might be
inventing the statement in order to have his way with his son! For
in either case he was a double-dyed villian; and if he spoke the
truth was none the less capable of lying.



One thing then was clear to Donal, that for the present he had
nothing to do with the affair. Supposing the earl's assertion true,
there was at present no question as to the succession; before such
question could arise, Forgue might be dead; before that, his father
might himself have disclosed the secret; while, the longer Donal
thought about it, the greater was his doubt whether he had spoken
the truth. The man who could so make such a statement to his son
concerning his mother, must indeed have been capable of the
wickedness assumed! but also the man who could make such a statement
was surely vile enough to lie! The thing remained uncertain, and he
was assuredly not called upon to act!

But how would Forgue carry himself? His behaviour now would decide
or at least determine his character. If he were indeed as honourable
as he wished to be thought, he would tell Eppy what had occurred,
and set himself at once to find some way of earning his and her
bread, or at least to become capable of earning it. He did not seem
to cherish any doubt of the truth of what had fallen in rage from
his father's lips, for, to judge by his appearance, to the few and
brief glances Donal had of him during the next week or so, the iron
had sunk into his soul: he looked more wretched than Donal could
have believed it possible for man to be--abject quite. It manifested
very plainly what a miserable thing, how weak and weakening, is the
pride of this world. One who could be so cast down, was hardly one,
alas, of whom to expect any greatness of action! He was not likely
to have honesty or courage enough to decline a succession that was
not his--even though it would leave his way clear to marry Eppy.
Whether any of Forgue's misery arose from the fact that Donal had
been present at the exposure of his position, Donal could not tell;
but he could hardly fail to regard him as a dangerous holder of his
secret--one who would be more than ready to take hostile action in
the matter! At the same time, such had seemed the paralysing
influence of the shock upon him, that Donal doubted if he had been,
at any time during the interview, so much aware of his presence as
not to have forgotten it entirely before he came to himself. Had he
remembered the fact, would he not have come to him to attempt
securing his complicity? If he meant to do right, why did he
hesitate?--there was but one way, and that plain before him!

But presently Donal began to see many things an equivocating demon
might urge: the claims of his mother; the fact that there was no
near heir--he did not even know who would come in his place; that he
would do as well with the property as another; that he had been
already grievously wronged; that his mother's memory would be yet
more grievously wronged; that the marriage had been a marriage in
the sight of God, and as such he surely of all men was in heaven's
right to regard it! and his mother had been the truest of wives to
his father! These things and more Donal saw he might plead with
himself; and if he was the man he had given him no small ground to
think, he would in all probability listen to them. He would recall
or assume the existence of many precedents in the history of noble
families; he would say that, knowing the general character of their
heads, no one would believe a single noble family without at least
one unrecorded, undiscovered, or well concealed irregularity in its
descent; and he would judge it the cruellest thing to have let him
know the blighting fact, seeing that in ignorance he might have
succeeded with a good conscience.

But what kind of a father was this, thought Donal, who would thus
defile his son's conscience! he had not done it in mere revenge, but
to gain his son's submission as well! Whether the poor fellow leaned
to the noble or ignoble, it was no marvel he should wander about
looking scarce worthy the name of man! If he would but come to him
that he might help him! He could at least encourage him to refuse
the evil and choose the good! But even if he would receive such
help, the foregone passages between them rendered it sorely
improbable it would ever fall to him to afford it!

That his visits to Eppy were intermitted, Donal judged from her
countenance and bearing; and if he hesitated to sacrifice his own
pride to the truth, it could not be without contemplating as
possible the sacrifice of her happiness to a lie. In such delay he
could hardly be praying "Lead me not into temptation:" if not
actively tempting himself, he was submitting to be tempted; he was
lingering on the evil shore.

Andrew Comin staid yet a week--slowly, gently fading out into
life--darkening into eternal day--forgetting into knowledge itself.
Donal was by his side when he went, but little was done or said; he
crept into the open air in his sleep, to wake from the dreams of
life and the dreams of death and the dreams of sleep all at once,
and see them mingling together behind him like a broken
wave--blending into one vanishing dream of a troubled, yet, oh, how
precious night past and gone!

Once, about an hour before he went, Donal heard him murmur, "When I
wake I am still with thee!"

Doory was perfectly calm. When he gave his last sigh, she sighed
too, said, "I winna be lang, Anerew!" and said no more. Eppy wept

Donal went every day to see them till the funeral was over. It was
surprising how many of the town's folk attended it. Most of them had
regarded the cobbler as a poor talkative enthusiast with far more
tongue than brains! Because they were so far behind and beneath him,
they saw him very small!

One cannot help reflecting what an indifferent trifle the funeral,
whether plain to bareness, as in Scotland, or lovely with meaning as
often in England, is to the spirit who has but dropt his hurting
shoes on the weary road, dropt all the dust and heat, dropt the road
itself, yea the world of his pilgrimage--which never was, never
could be, never was meant to be his country, only the place of his
sojourning--in which the stateliest house of marble can be but a
tent--cannot be a house, yet less a home. Man could never be made at
home here, save by a mutilation, a depression, a lessening of his
being; those who fancy it their home, will come, by growth, one day
to feel that it is no more their home than its mother's egg is the
home of the lark.

For some time Donal's savings continued to support the old woman and
her grand-daughter. But ere long Doory got so much to do in the way
of knitting stockings and other things, and was set to so many light
jobs by kindly people who respected her more than her husband
because they saw her less extraordinary, that she seldom troubled
him. Miss Carmichael offered to do what she could to get Eppy a
place, if she answered certain questions to her satisfaction. How
she liked her catechizing I do not know, but she so far satisfied
her interrogator that she did find her a place in Edinburgh. She
wept sore at leaving Auchars, but there was no help: rumour had been
more cruel than untrue, and besides there was no peace for her near
the castle. Not once had lord Forgue sought her since he gave her up
to Donal, and she thought he had then given her up altogether.
Notwithstanding his kindness to her house, she all but hated
Donal--perhaps the more nearly that her conscience told he had done
nothing but what was right.

Things returned into the old grooves at the castle, but the happy
thought of his friend the cobbler, hammering and stitching in the
town below, was gone from Donal. True, the craftsman was a nobleman
now, but such he had always been!

Forgue mooned about, doing nothing, and recognizing no possible help
save in what was utter defeat. If he had had any faith in Donal, he
might have had help fit to make a man of him, which he would have
found something more than an earl. Donal would have taught him to
look things in the face, and call them by their own names. It would
have been the redemption of his being. To let things be as they
truly are, and act with truth in respect of them, is to be a man.
But Forgue showed little sign of manhood, present or to come.

He was much on horseback, now riding furiously over everything, as
if driven by the very fiend, now dawdling along with the reins on
the neck of his weary animal. Donal once met him thus in a narrow
lane. The moment Forgue saw him, he pulled up his horse's head,
spurred him hard, and came on as if he did not see him. Donal shoved
himself into the hedge, and escaped with a little mud.



One morning, Donal in the schoolroom with Davie, a knock came to the
door, and lady Arctura entered.

"The wind is blowing from the south-east," she said.

"Listen then, my lady, whether you can hear anything," said Donal.
"I fancy it is a very precise wind that is wanted."

"I will listen," she answered, and went.

The day passed, and he heard nothing more. He was at work in his
room in the warm evening twilight, when Davie came running to his
door, and said Arkie was coming up after him. He rose and stood at
the top of the stair to receive her. She had heard the music, she
said--very soft: would he go on the roof?

"Where were you, my lady," asked Donal, "when you heard it? I have
heard nothing up here!"

"In my own little parlour," she replied. "It was very faint, but I
could not mistake it."

They went upon the roof. The wind was soft and low, an excellent
thing in winds. They knew the paths of the roof better now, and had
plenty of light, although the moon, rising large and round, gave
them little of hers yet, and were soon at the foot of the great
chimney-stack, which grew like a tree out of the house. There they
sat down to wait and hearken.

"I am almost sorry to have made this discovery!" said Donal.

"Why?" asked lady Arctura. "Should not the truth be found, whatever
it may be? You at least think so!"

"Most certainly," answered Donal. "And if this be the truth, as I
fully expect it will prove, then it is well it should be found to
be. But I should have liked better it had been something we could
not explain."

"I doubt if I understand you."

"Things that cannot be explained so widen the horizon around us!
open to us fresh regions for question and answer, for possibility
and delight! They are so many kernels of knowledge closed in the
hard nuts of seeming contradiction.--You know, my lady, there are
stories of certain houses being haunted by a mysterious music
presaging evil to the family?"

"I have heard of such music. But what can be the use of it?"

"I do not know. I see not the smallest use in it. If it were of use
it would surely be more common! If it were of use, why should those
who have it be of the class less favoured, so to speak, of the Lord
of the universe, and the families of his poor never have it?"

"Perhaps for the same reason that they have their other good things
in this life!" said Arctura.

"I am answered," confessed Donal, "and have no more to say. These
tales, if they require of us a belief in any special care over such
houses, as if they were more precious in the eyes of God than the
poorest cottage in the land, I cast them from me."

"But," said Arctura, in a deprecating tone, "are not those houses
which have more influence more important than the others?"

"Surely--those which have more good influence. But such are rarely
the great houses of a country. Our Lord was not an Asmonaean prince,
but the son of a humble maiden, his reputed father a working man."

"I do not see--I should like to understand how that has to do with

"You may be sure the Lord took the position in life in which it was
most possible to do the highest good; and without driving the
argument--for every work has its own specialty--it seems probable
that the true ends of his coming will still be better furthered from
the standpoint of humble circumstances, than from that of rank and

"You always speak," said Arctura, "as if there were only the things
Jesus Christ came for to be cared about:--is there nothing but
salvation worthy a human being's regard?"

"If you give a true and large enough meaning to the word salvation,
I answer you at once, Nothing. Only in proportion as a man is saved,
will he do the work of the world aright--the whole design of which
is to rear a beautiful blessed family. The world is God's nursery
for his upper rooms. Oneness with God is the end of the order of
things. When that is attained, we shall do greater things than the
Lord himself did on the earth!--But was not that olus?--Listen!"

There came a low prolonged wail.

The ladder was in readiness; Donal set it up in haste, climbed to
the cleft, and with a sheet of brown paper in his hands, waited the
next cry of the prisoned chords. He was beginning to get tired of
his position, when suddenly came a stronger puff, and he heard the
music distinctly in the shaft beside him. It swelled and grew. He
spread the sheet of paper over the opening, the wind blew it flat
against the chimney, and the sound instantly ceased. He removed it,
and again came the sound. The wind continued, and grew stronger, so
that they were able to make the simple experiment until no shadow of
a doubt was left: they had discovered the source of the music! By
certain dispositions of the paper they were even able to modify it.

Donal descended, and said to Davie,

"I wish you not to say a word about this to any one, Davie, before
lady Arctura or I give you leave. You have a secret with us now. The
castle belongs to lady Arctura, and she has a right to ask you not
to speak of it to any one without her permission.--I have a reason,
my lady," he went on, turning to Arctura: "will you, please, desire
Davie to attend to what I say. I will immediately explain to you,
but I do not want Davie to know my reason until you do. You can on
the instant withdraw your prohibition, should you not think my
reason a good one."

"Davie," said Arctura, "I too have faith in Mr. Grant: I beg you
will keep all this a secret for the present."

"Oh surely, cousin Arkie!" said Davie. "--But, Mr. Grant, why should
you make Arkie speak to me too?"

"Because the thing is her business, not mine. Run down and wait for
me in my room. Go steadily over the bartizan, mind."

Donal turned again to Arctura.

"You know they say there is a hidden room in the castle, my lady?"

"Do you believe it?" she returned.

"I think there may be such a place."

"Surely if there had been, it would have been found long ago."

"They might have said that on the first report of the discovery of

"That was far off, and across a great ocean!"

"And here are thick walls, and hearts careless an timid!--Has any
one ever set in earnest about finding it?"

"Not that I know of."

"Then your objection falls to the ground. If you could have told me
that one had tried to find the place, but without success, I would
have admitted some force in it, though it would not have satisfied
me without knowing the plans he had taken, and how they were carried
out. On the other hand it may have been known to many who held their
peace about it.--Would you not like to know the truth concerning
that too?"

"I should indeed. But would not you be sorry to lose another

"On the contrary, there is only the rumour of a mystery now, and we
do not quite believe it. We are not at liberty, in the name of good
sense, to believe it yet. But if we find the room, or the space even
where it may be, we shall probably find also a mystery--something
never in this world to be accounted for, but suggesting a hundred
unsatisfactory explanations. But, pardon me, I do not in the least
presume to press it."

Lady Arctura smiled.

"You may do what you please," she said. "If I seemed for a moment to
hesitate, it was only that I wondered what my uncle would say to it.
I should not like to vex him."

"Certainly not; but would he not be pleased?"

"I will speak to him, and find out. He hates what he calls
superstition, and I fancy has curiosity enough not to object to a
search. I do not think he would consent to pulling down, but short
of that, I don't think he will mind. I should not wonder if he even
joined in the search."

Donal thought with himself it was strange then he had never
undertaken one. Something told him the earl would not like the

"But tell me, Mr. Grant--how would you set about it?" said Arctura,
as they went towards the tower.

"If the question were merely whether or not there was such a room,
and not the finding of it,--"

"Excuse me--but how could you tell whether there was or was not such
a room except by searching for it?"

"By determining whether there was or was not some space in the
castle unaccounted for."

"I do not see."

"Would you mind coming to my room? It will be a lesson for Davie

She assented, and Donal gave them a lesson in cubic measure and
content. He showed them how to reckon the space that must lie within
given boundaries: if then within those boundaries they could not
find so much, part of it must he hidden. If they measured the walls
of the castle, allowing of course for their thickness and every
irregularity, and from that calculated the space they must hold;
then measured all the rooms and open places within the walls,
allowing for all partitions; and having again calculated, found the
space fall short of what they had from the outside measurements to
expect; they must conclude either that they had measured or
calculated wrong, or that there was space in the castle to which
they had no access.

"But," continued Donal, when they had in a degree mastered the idea,
"if the thing was, to discover the room itself, I should set about
it in a different way; I should not care about the measuring. I
would begin and go all over the castle, first getting the outside
shape right in my head, and then fitting everything inside it into
that shape of it in my brain. If I came to a part I could not so fit
at once, I would examine that according to the rules I have given
you, take exact measurements of the angles and sides of the
different rooms and passages, and find whether these enclosed more
space than I could at once discover inside them.--But I need not
follow the process farther: pulling down might be the next thing,
and we must not talk of that!"

"But the thing is worth doing, is it not, even if we do not go so
far as to pull down?"

"I think so."

"And I think my uncle will not object.--Say nothing about it though,
Davie, till we give you leave."

That we was pleasant in Donal's ears.

Lady Arctura rose, and they all went down together. When they
reached the hall, Davie ran to get his kite.

"But you have not told me why you would not have him speak of the
music," said Arctura, stopping at the foot of the great stair.

"Partly because, if we were to go on to make search for the room, it
ought to be kept as quiet as possible, and the talk about the one
would draw notice to the other; and partly because I have a hope
that the one may even guide us to the other."

"You will tell me about that afterwards," said Arctura, and went up
the stair.

That night the earl had another of his wandering fits; also all
night the wind blew from the south-east.

In the morning Arctura went to him with her proposal. The instant he
understood what she wished, his countenance grew black as thunder.

"What!" he cried, "you would go pulling the grand old bulk to pieces
for the sake of a foolish tale about the devil and a set of
cardplayers! By my soul, I'll be damned if you do!--Not while I'm
above ground at least! That's what comes of putting such a place in
the power of a woman! It's sacrilege! By heaven, I'll throw my
brother's will into chancery rather!"

His rage was such as to compel her to think there must be more in it
than appeared. The wilderness of the temper she had roused made her
tremble, but it also woke the spirit of her race, and she repented
of the courtesy she had shown him: she had the right to make what
investigations she pleased! Her father would not have left her the
property without good reasons for doing so; and of those reasons
some might well have lain in the character of the man before her!

Through all this rage the earl read something of what had sent the
blood of the Graemes to her cheek and brow.

"I beg your pardon, my love," he said, "but if he was your father,
he was my brother!"

"He is my father!" said Arctura coldly.

"Dead and gone and all but forgotten!"

"No, my lord; not for one day forgotten! not for one moment

"Ah, well, as you please! but because you love his memory must I
regard him as a Solon? 'T is surely no great treason to reflect upon
the wisdom of a dead man!"

"I wish you good day, my lord!" said Arctura, very angry, and left

But when presently she found that she could not lift up her heart to
her father in heaven, gladly would she have sent her anger from her.
Was it not plainly other than good, when it came thus between her
and the living God! All day at intervals she had to struggle and
pray against it; a great part of the night she lay awake because of
it; but at length she pitied her uncle too much to be very angry
with him any more, and so fell asleep.

In the morning she found that all sense of his having authority over
her had vanished, and with it her anger. She saw also that it was
quite time she took upon herself the duties of a landowner. What
could Mr. Grant think of her--doing nothing for her people! But she
could do little while her uncle received the rents and gave orders
to Mr. Graeme! She would take the thing into her own hands! In the
meantime, Mr. Grant should, if he pleased, go on quietly with his
examination of the house.

But she could not get her interview with her uncle out of her head,
and was haunted with vague suspicions of some dreadful secret about
the house belonging to the present as well as the past. Her uncle
seemed to have receded to a distance incalculable, and to have grown
awful as he receded. She was of a nature almost too delicately
impressionable; she not only felt things keenly, but retained the
sting of them after the things were nearly forgotten. But then the
swift and rare response of her faculties arose in no small measure
from this impressionableness. At the same time, but for instincts
and impulses derived from her race, her sensitiveness might have
degenerated into weakness.



One evening, as Donal was walking in the little avenue below the
terraces, Davie, who was now advanced to doing a little work without
his master's immediate supervision, came running to him to say that
Arkie was in the schoolroom and wanted to see him.

He hastened to her.

"A word with you, please, Mr. Grant," she said.

Donal sent the boy away.

"I have debated with myself all day whether I should tell you," she
began--and her voice trembled not a little; "but I think I shall not
be so much afraid to go to bed if I do tell you what I dreamt last

Her face was very pale, and there was a quiver about her mouth: she
seemed ready to burst into tears.

"Do tell me," said Donal sympathetically.

"Do you think it very silly to mind one's dreams?" she asked.

"Silly or not," answered Donal, "as regards the general run of
dreams, it is plain you have had one that must be minded. What we
must mind, it cannot be silly to mind."

"I am in no mood, I fear, for philosophy," she rejoined, trying to
smile. "It has taken such a hold of me that I cannot get rid of it,
and there is no one I could tell it to but you; any one else would
laugh at me; but you never laugh at anybody!

"I went to bed as well as usual, only a little troubled about my
uncle's strangeness, and soon fell asleep, to find myself presently
in a most miserable place. It was like a brick-field--but a deserted
brick-field. Heaps of broken and half-burnt bricks were all about.
For miles and miles they stretched around me. I walked fast to get
out of it. Nobody was near or in sight; there was not a sign of
human habitation from horizon to horizon.

"All at once I saw before me a dreary church. It was old,
tumble-down, and dirty--not in the least venerable--very ugly--a
huge building without shape, like most of our churches. I shrank
from the look of it: it was more horrible to me than I could account
for; I feared it. But I must go in--why, I did not know, but I must:
the dream itself compelled me.

"I went in. It looked as if nobody had crossed its threshold for a
hundred years. The pews were mouldering away; the canopy over the
pulpit had half fallen, and rested its edge on the book-board; the
great galleries had in parts tumbled into the body of the church, in
other parts they hung sloping from the walls. The centre of the
floor had fallen in, and there was a great, descending slope of
earth, soft-looking, mixed with bits of broken and decayed wood,
from the pews above and the coffins below. I stood gazing down in
horror unutterable. How far the gulf went I could not see. I was
fascinated by its slow depth, and the thought of its possible
contents--when suddenly I knew rather than perceived that something
was moving in its darkness: it was something dead--something
yellow-white. It came nearer; it was slowly climbing; like one dead
and stiff it was labouring up the slope. I could neither cry out nor
move. It was about three yards below me, when it raised its head: it
was my uncle, dead, and dressed for the grave. He beckoned me--and I
knew I must go; I had to go, nor once thought of resisting. My heart
became like lead, but immediately I began the descent. My feet sank
in the mould of the ancient dead, soft as if thousands of graveyard
moles were for ever burrowing in it, as down and down I went,
settling and sliding with the black plane. Then I began to see the
sides and ends of coffins in the walls of the gulf; and the walls
came closer and closer as I descended, until they scarcely left me
room to get through. I comforted myself with the thought that those
in these coffins had long been dead, and must by this time be at
rest, nor was there any danger of seeing mouldy hands come out to
seize me. At last I saw that my uncle had stopped, and I stood
still, a few yards above him, more composed than I can understand."

"The wonder is we are so believing, yet not more terrified, in our
dreams," said Donal.

"He began to heave and pull at a coffin that seemed to stop the way.
Just as he got it dragged on one side, I saw on the bright silver
handle of it the Morven crest. The same instant the lid rose, and my
father came out of the coffin, looking alive and bright; my uncle
stood beside him like a corpse beside a soul. 'What do you want with
my child?' he said; and my uncle cowered before him. He took my hand
and said, 'Come with me, my child.' And I went with him--oh, so
gladly! My fear was gone, and so was my uncle. He led me up the way
we had come down, but when we came out of the hole, instead of
finding myself in the horrible church, I was in my own room. I
looked round--no one was near! I was sorry my father was gone, but
glad to be in my own room. Then I woke--and here was the terrible
thing--not in my bed--but standing in the middle of the floor, just
where my dream had left me! I cannot get rid of the thought that I
really went somewhere. I have been haunted with it the whole day. It
is a terror to me--for if I did, where is my help against going

"In God our saviour," said Donal. "--But had your uncle given you

"I wish I could think so; but I do not see how he could."

"You must change your room, and get mistress Brookes to sleep near

"I will."

Gladly would Donal have offered to sleep, like one of his colleys,
outside her door, but Mrs. Brookes was the only one to help her.

He began at once to make observations towards determining the
existence or non-existence of a hidden room, but in the quietest
way, so as to attract no attention, and had soon satisfied himself
concerning some parts that it could not be there. Without free scope
and some one to help him, the thing was difficult. To guage a
building which had grown through centuries, to fit the varying
tastes and changing needs of the generations, was in itself not
easy, and he judged it all but impossible without drawing
observation and rousing speculation. Great was the chaotic element
in the congeries of erections and additions, brought together by
various contrivances, and with daringly enforced communication. Open
spaces within the walls, different heights in the stories of
contiguous buildings, breaks in the continuity of floors, and
various other irregularities, he found confusingly obstructive.



The autumn brought terrible storms. Many fishing boats came to
grief. Of some, the crews lost everything: of others, the loss of
their lives delivered their crews from smaller losses. There were
many bereaved in the village, and Donal went about among them, doing
what he could, and getting help for them where his own ability would
not reach their necessity. Lady Arctura wanted no persuasion to go
with him in some of his visits; and the intercourse she thus gained
with humanity in its simpler forms, of which she had not had enough
for the health of her own nature, was of high service to her.
Perhaps nothing helps so much to believe in the Father, as the
active practical love of the brother. If he who loveth not his
brother whom he hath seen, can ill love God whom he hath not seen,
then he who loves his brother must surely find it the easier to love
God! Arctura found that to visit the widow and the fatherless in
their afflictions; to look on and know them as her kind; to enter
into their sorrows, and share the elevating influence of grief
genuine and simple, the same in every human soul, was to draw near
to God. She met him in his children. For to honour, love, and be
just to our neighbour, is religion; and he who does these things
will soon find that he cannot live without the higher part of
religion, the love of God. If that do not follow, the other will
sooner or later die away, leaving the man the worse for having had
it. She found her way to God easier through the crowd of her
fellows; while their troubles took her off her own, set them at a
little distance from her, and so put it in her power to understand
them better.

One day after the fishing boats had gone out, rose a terrible storm.
Some of them made for the harbour again--such as it was; others kept
out to sea; Stephen Kennedy's boat came ashore bottom upward. His
body was cast on the sands close to the spot where Donal dragged the
net from the waves. There was sorrow afresh through the village:
Kennedy was a favourite; and his mother was left childless. No son
would any more come sauntering in with his long slouch in the
gloamin'; and whether she would ever see him again--to know him--who
could tell! For the common belief does not go much farther than
paganism in yielding comfort to those whose living loves have
disappeared--the fault not of Christianity, but of Christians.

The effect of the news upon Forgue I have some around for
conjecturing: I believe it made him care a little less about
marrying the girl, now that he knew no rival ready to take her; and
feel also that he had one enemy the less, one danger the less, in
the path he would like to take. Within a week after, he left the
castle, and if his father knew where he went, he was the only one
who did. He had been pressing him to show some appearance of
interest in his cousin; Forgue had professed himself unequal to the
task at present: if he might go away for a while, he said, he would
doubtless find it easier when he returned.

The storms were over, the edges and hidden roots had begun to dream
of spring, and Arctura had returned to her own room to sleep, when
one afternoon she came to the schoolroom and told Donal she had had
the terrible dream again.

"This time," she said, "I came out, in my dream, on the great stair,
and went up to my room, and into bed, before I waked. But I dare not
ask mistress Brookes whether she saw me--"

"You do not imagine you were out of the room?" said Donal.

"I cannot tell. I hope not. If I were to find I had been, it would
drive me out of my senses! I was thinking all day about the lost
room: I fancy it had something to do with that."

"We must find the room, and have done with it!" said Donal.

"Are you so sure we can?" she asked, her face brightening.

"If there be one, and you will help me, I think we can," he

"I will help you."

"Then first we will try the shaft of the music-chimney. That it has
never smoked, at least since those wires were put there, makes it
something to question--though the draught across it might doubtless
have prevented it from being used. It may be the chimney to the very
room. But we will first try to find out whether it belongs to any
room we know. I will get a weight and a cord: the wires will be a
plague, but I think we can pass them. Then we shall see how far the
weight goes down, and shall know on what floor it is arrested. That
will be something gained: the plane of inquiry will be determined.
Only there may be a turn in the chimney, preventing the weight from
going to the bottom."

"When shall we set about it?" said Arctura, almost eagerly.

"At once," replied Donal.

She went to get a shawl.

Donal went to the gardener's tool-house, and found a suitable cord.
There was a seven-pound weight, but that would not pass the wires!
He remembered an old eight-day clock on a back stair, which was
never going. He got out its heavier weight, and carried it, with the
cord and the ladder, to his own stair--at the foot of which was lady
Arctura--waiting for him.

There was that in being thus associated with the lovely lady; in
knowing that peace had began to visit her through him, that she
trusted him implicitly, looking to him for help and even protection;
in knowing that nothing but wrong to her could be looked for from
uncle or cousin, and that he held what might be a means of
protecting her, should undue influence be brought to bear upon
her--there was that in all this, I say, that stirred to its depth
the devotion of Donal's nature. With the help of God he would foil
her enemies, and leave her a free woman--a thing well worth a man's
life! Many an angel has been sent on a smaller errand!

Such were his thoughts as he followed Arctura up the stair, she
carrying the weight and the cord, he the ladder, which it was not
easy to get round the screw of the stair. Arctura trembled with
excitement as she ascended, grew frightened as often as she found
she had outstripped him, waited till the end of the ladder came
poking round, and started again before the bearer appeared.

Her dreams had disquieted her more than she had yet confessed: had
she been taking a way of her own, and choosing a guide instead of
receiving instruction in the way of understanding? Were these things
sent for her warning, to show her into what an abyss of death her
conduct was leading her?--But the moment she found herself in the
open air of Donal's company, her doubts and fears vanished for the
time. Such a one as he must surely know better than those others the
way of the Spirit! Was he not more childlike, more straightforward,
more simple, and, she could not but think, more obedient than those?
Mr. Carmichael was older, and might be more experienced; but did his
light shine clearer than Donal's? He might be a priest in the
temple; but was there not a Samuel in the temple as well as an Eli?
It the young, strong, ruddy shepherd, the defender of his flock, who
was sent by God to kill the giant! He was too little to wear Saul's
armour; but he could kill a man too big to wear it! Thus meditated
Arctura as she climbed the stair, and her hope and courage grew.

A delicate conscience, sensitive feelings, and keen faculties,
subjected to the rough rasping of coarse, self-satisfied,
unspiritual natures, had almost lost their equilibrium. As to
natural condition no one was sounder than she; yet even now when she
had more than begun to see its falsehood, a headache would suffice
to bring her afresh under the influence of the hideous system she
had been taught, and wake in her all kinds of deranging doubts and
consciousnesses. Subjugated so long to the untrue, she required to
be for a time, until her spiritual being should be somewhat
individualized, under the genial influences of one who was not
afraid to believe, one who knew the master. Nor was there danger to
either so long as he sought no end of his own, so long as he desired
only His will, so long as he could say, "Whom is there in heaven but
thee! and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee!"

By the time she reached the top she was radiantly joyous in the
prospect of a quiet hour with him whose presence and words always
gave her strength, who made the world look less mournful, and the
will of God altogether beautiful; who taught her that the glory of
the Father's love lay in the inexorability of its demands, that it
is of his deep mercy that no one can get out until he has paid the
uttermost farthing.

They stepped upon the roof and into the gorgeous afterglow of an
autumn sunset. The whole country, like another sea, was flowing from
that that well of colour, in tidal waves of an ever advancing
creation. Its more etherial part, rushing on above, broke on the old
roofs and chimneys and splashed its many tinted foam all over them;
while through it and folded in it came a cold thin wind that told of
coming death. Arctura breathed a deep breath, and her joy grew. It
is wonderful how small a physical elevation, lifting us into a
slightly thinner air, serves to raise the human spirits! We are like
barometers, only work the other way; the higher we go, the higher
goes our mercury.

They stood for a moment in deep enjoyment, then simultaneously
turned to each other.

"My lady," said Donal, "with such a sky as that out there, it hardly
seems as if there could be such a thing as our search to-night!
Hollow places, hidden away for evil cause, do not go with it at all!
There is the story of gracious invention and glorious gift; here the
story of greedy gathering and self-seeking, which all concealment

"But there may be nothing, you know, Mr. Grant!" said Arctura,
troubled for the house.

"There may be nothing. But if there is such a room, you may be sure
it has some relation with terrible wrong--what, we may never find
out, or even the traces of it."

"I shall not be afraid," she said, as if speaking with herself. "It
is the terrible dreaming that makes me weak. In the morning I
tremble as if I had been in the hands of some evil power."

Donal turned his eyes upon her. How thin she looked in the last of
the sunlight! A pang went through him at the thought that one day he
might be alone with Davie in the huge castle, untended by the
consciousness that a living light and loveliness flitted somewhere
about its gloomy and ungenial walls. But he would not think the
thought! How that dismal Miss Carmichael must have worried her! When
the very hope of the creature in his creator is attacked in the name
of religion; when his longing after a living God is met with the
offer of a paltry escape from hell, how is the creature to live! It
is God we want, not heaven; his righteousness, not an imputed one,
for our own possession; remission, not letting off; love, not
endurance for the sake of another, even if that other be the one
loveliest of all.

They turned from the sunset and made their way to the chimney-stack.
There once more Donal set up his ladder. He tied the clock-weight to
the end of his cord, dropped it in, and with a little management got
it through the wires. It went down and down, gently lowered, till
the cord was all out, and still it would go.

"Do run and get some more," said Arctura.

"You do not mind being left alone?"

"No--if you will not be long."

"I will run," he said--and run he did, for she had scarcely begun to
feel the loneliness when he returned panting.

He took the end she had been holding, tied on the fresh cord he had
brought, and again lowered away. As he was beginning to fear that
after all he had not brought enough, the weight stopped, resting,
and drew no more.

"If only we had eyes in that weight," said Arctura, "like the snails
at the end of their horns!"

"We might have greased the bottom of the weight," said Donal, "as
they do the lead when they want to know what kind of bottom there is
to the sea: it might have brought up ashes. If it will not go any
farther, I will mark the string at the mouth, and draw it up."

He moved the weight up and down a little; it rested still, and he
drew it up.

"Now we must mark off it the height of the chimney above the parapet
wall," he said; "and then I will lower the weight towards the court
below, until this last knot comes to the wall: the weight will then
show us on the outside how far down the house it went inside.--Ah, I
thought so!" he went on, looking over after the weight; "--only to
the first floor, or thereabouts!--No, I think it is lower!--But
anyhow, my lady, as you can see, the place with which the chimney,
if chimney it be, communicates, must be somewhere about the middle
of the house, and perhaps is on the first floor; we can't judge very
well looking down from here, and against a spot where are no
windows. Can you imagine what place it might be?"

"I cannot," answered Arctura; "but I could go into every room on
that floor without anyone seeing me."

"Then I will let the weight down the chimney again, and leave it for
you to see, if you can, below. If you find it, we must do something

It was done, and they descended together. Donal went back to the
schoolroom, not expecting to see her again till the next day. But in
half an hour she came to him, saying she had been into every room on
that floor, both where she thought it might be, and where she knew
it could not be, and had not seen the weight.

"The probability then is," replied Donal, "that thereabout
somewhere--there, or farther down in that neighbourhood--lies the
secret; but we cannot be sure, for the weight may not have reached
the bottom of the shaft. Let us think what we shall do next.

He placed a chair for her by the fire. They had the room to



They were hardly seated when Simmons appeared, saying he had been
looking everywhere for her ladyship, for his lordship was taken as
he had never seen him before: he had fainted right out in the
half-way room, and he could not get him to.

Having given orders to send at once to Auchars for the doctor, lady
Arctura hastened with Donal to the room on the stair. The earl was
stretched motionless and pale on the floor. But for a slight
twitching in one muscle of the face, they might have concluded him
dead. They tried to get something down his throat, but without
success. The men carried him up to his chamber.

He began to come to himself, and lady Arctura left him, telling
Simmons to come to the library when he could, and let them know how
he was.

In about an hour he came: the doctor had been, and his master was

"Do you know any cause for the attack?" asked her ladyship.

"I'll tell you all about it, my lady, so far as I know," answered
the butler. "--I was there in that room with him--I had taken him
some accounts, and was answering some questions about them, when all
at once there came a curious noise in the wall. I can't think what
it was--an inward rumbling it was, that seemed to go up and down the
wall with a sort of groaning, then stopped a while, and came again.
It sounded nothing very dreadful to me; perhaps if it had been in
the middle of the night, I mightn't have liked it. His lordship
started at the first sound of it, turned pale and gasped, then cried
out, laid his hand on his heart, and rolled off his chair. I did
what I could for him, but it wasn't like one of his ordinary
attacks, and so I came to your ladyship. He's such a ticklish
subject, you see, my lady! It's quite alarming to be left alone with
him. It's his heart; and you know, my lady--I should be sorry to
frighten you, but you know, Mr. Grant, a gentleman with that
complaint may go off any moment. I must go back to him now, my lady,
if you please."

Arctura turned and looked at Donal.

"We must be careful," he said.

"We must," she answered. "Just thereabout is one of the few places
in the house where you hear the music."

"And thereabout the music-chimney goes down! That is settled! But
why should my lord be frightened so?"

"I cannot tell. He is not like other people, you know."

"Where else is the music heard? You and your uncle seem to hear it
oftener than anyone else."

"In my own room. But we will talk to-morrow. Good night."

"I will remain here the rest of the evening," said Donal, "in case
Simmons might want me to help with his lordship."

It was well into the night, and he still sat reading in the library,
when Mrs. Brookes came to him. She had had to get his lordship "what
he ca'd a cat--something or ither, but was naething but mustard to
the soles o' 's feet to draw awa' the bluid."

"He's better the noo," she said. "He's taen a doze o' ane o' thae
drogues he's aye potterin' wi'--fain to learn the trade o' livin'
for ever, I reckon! But that's a thing the Lord has keepit in 's ain
han's. The tree o' life was never aten o', an' never wull be noo i'
this warl'; it's lang transplantit. But eh, as to livin' for ever,
or I wud be his lordship, I wud gie up the ghost at ance!"

"What makes you say that, mistress Brookes?" asked Donal.

"It's no ilk ane I wud answer sic a queston til," she replied; "but
I'm weel assured ye hae sense an' hert eneuch baith, no to hurt a
cratur'; an' I'll jist gang sae far as say to yersel', an' 'atween
the twa o' 's, 'at I hae h'ard frae them 'at's awa'--them 'at weel
kent, bein' aboot the place an' trustit--that whan the fit was upon
him, he was fell cruel to the bonnie wife he merriet abro'd an'
broucht hame wi' him--til a cauld-hertit country, puir thing, she
maun hae thoucht it!"

"How could he have been cruel to her in the house of his brother?
Even if he was the wretch to be guilty of it, his brother would
never have connived at the ill-treatment of any woman under his

"Hoo ken ye the auld yerl sae weel?" asked Mrs. Brookes, with a sly

"I ken," answered Donal, direct as was his wont, but finding somehow
a little shelter in the dialect, "'at sic a dauchter could ill hae
been born to ony but a man 'at--weel, 'at wad at least behave til a
wuman like a man."

"Ye're i' the richt! He was the ten'erest-heartit man! But he was
far frae stoot, an' was a heap by himsel', nearhan' as mickle as his
lordship the present yerl. An' the lady was that prood, an' that
dewotit to the man she ca'd her ain, that never a word o' what gaed
on cam to the ears o' his brither, I daur to say, or I s' warran' ye
there wud hae been a fine steer! It cam, she said--my auld auntie
said--o' some kin' o' madness they haena a name for yet. I think
mysel' there's a madness o' the hert as weel 's o' the heid; an' i'
that madness men tak their women for a property o' their ain, to be
han'led ony gait the deevil puts intil them. Cries i' the deid o'
the nicht, an' never a shaw i' the mornin' but white cheeks an' reid
een, tells its ain tale. I' the en', the puir leddy dee'd, 'at micht
hae lived but for him; an' her bairnie dee'd afore her; an' the
wrangs o' bairns an' women stick lang to the wa's o' the universe!
It was said she cam efter him again;--I kenna; but I hae seen an'
h'ard i' this hoose what--I s' haud my tongue aboot!--Sure I am he
wasna a guid man to the puir wuman!--whan it comes to that, maister
Grant, it's no my leddy an' mem, but we're a' women thegither! She
dee'dna i' this hoose, I un'erstan'; but i' the hoose doon i' the
toon--though that's neither here nor there. I wadna won'er but the
conscience micht be waukin' up intil him! Some day it maun wauk up.
He'll be sorry, maybe, whan he kens himsel' upo' the border whaur
respec' o' persons is ower, an' a woman s' a guid 's a man--maybe a
wheen better! The Lord 'll set a' thing richt, or han' 't ower til



The next day, when he saw lady Arctura, Donal was glad to learn
that, for all the excitement of the day before, she had passed a
good night, and never dreamed at all.

"I've been thinking it all over, my lady," he said, "and it seems to
me that, if your uncle heard the noise of our plummet so near, the
chimney can hardly rise from the floor you searched; for that room,
you know, is half-way between the ground-floor and first floor.
Still, sound does travel so! We must betake ourselves to
measurement, I fear.--But another thing came into my head last night
which may serve to give us a sort of parallax. You said you heard
the music in your own room: would you let me look about in it a
little? something might suggest itself!--Is it the room I saw you in

"Not that," answered Arctura, "but the bedroom beyond it. I hear it
sometimes in either room, but louder in the bedroom. You can examine
it when you please.--If only you could find my bad dream, and drive
it out!--Will you come now?"

"It is near the earl's room: is there no danger of his hearing

"Not the least. The room is not far from his, it is true, but it is
not in the same block; there are thick walls between. Besides he is
too ill to be up."

She led the way, and Donal followed her up the main staircase to the
second floor, and into the small, curious, ancient room, evidently
one of the oldest in the castle, which she had chosen for her
sitting-room. Perhaps if she had lived less in the shadow, she might
have chosen a less gloomy one: the sky was visible only through a
little lane of walls and gables and battlements. But it was very
charming, with its odd nooks and corners, recesses and projections.
It looked an afterthought, the utilization of a space accidentally
defined by rejection, as if every one of its sides were the wall of
a distinct building.

"I do wish, my lady," said Donal, "you would not sit so much where
is so little sunlight! Outer and inner things are in their origin
one; the light of the sun is the natural world-clothing of the
truth, and whoever sits much in the physical dark misses a great
help to understanding the things of the light. If I were your
director," he went on, "I would counsel you to change this room for
one with a broad, fair outlook; so that, when gloomy thoughts hid
God from you, they might have his eternal contradiction in the face
of his heaven and earth."

"It is but fair to tell you," replied Arctura, "that Sophia would
have had me do so; but while I felt about God as she taught me, what
could the fairest sunlight be to me?"

"Yes, what indeed!" returned Donal. "Do you know," he added
presently, his eyes straying about the room, "I feel almost as if I
were trying to understand a human creature. A house is so like a
human mind, which gradually disentangles and explains itself as you
go on to know it! It is no accidental resemblance, for, as an
unavoidable necessity, every house must be like those that built

"But in a very old house," said Arctura, "so many hands of so many
generations have been employed in the building, and so many fancied
as well as real necessities have been at work, that it must be a
conflict of many natures."

"But where the house continues in the same family, the builders have
more or less transmitted their nature, as well as their house, to
those who come after them."

"Do you think then," said Arctura, almost with a shudder, "that I
inherit a nature like the house left me--that the house is an
outside to me--fits my very self as the shell fits the snail?"

"The relation of outer and inner is there, but there is given with
it an infinite power to modify. Everyone is born nearer to God than
to any ancestor, and it rests with him to cultivate either the
godness or the selfness in him, his original or his mere ancestral
nature. The fight between the natural and the spiritual man is the
history of the world. The man who sets his faults inherited, makes
atonement for the sins of those who went before him; he is baptized
for the dead, not with water but with fire."

"That seems to me strange doctrine," said Arctura, with tremulous

"If you do not like it, do not believe it. We inherit from our
ancestors vices no more than virtues, but tendencies to both. Vice
in my great-great-grandfather may in me be an impulse."

"How horrible!" cried Arctura.

"To say that we inherit sin from Adam, horrifies nobody: the source
is so far back from us, that we let the stream fill our cisterns
unheeded; but to say we inherit it from this or that nearer
ancestor, causes the fact to assume its definite and individual
reality, and make a correspondent impression."

"Then you allow that it is horrible to think oneself under the
influence of the vices of certain wicked people, through whom we
come where we are?"

"I would allow it, were it not that God is nearer to us than any
vices, even were they our own; he is between us and those vices. But
in us they are not vices--only possibilities, which become vices
when they are yielded to. Then there are at the same time all sorts
of counteracting and redeeming influences. It may be that wherein a
certain ancestor was most wicked, his wife was especially lovely. He
may have been cruel, and she tender as the hen that gathers her
chickens under her wing. The main danger is perhaps, of being caught
in some sudden gust of unsuspected impulse, and carried away of the
one tendency before the other has time to assert and the will to
rouse itself. But those who doubt themselves and try to do right may
hope for warning. Such will not, I think, be allowed to go far out
of the way for want of that. Self-confidence is the worst traitor."

"You comfort me a little."

"And then you must remember," continued Donal, "that nothing in its
immediate root is evil; that from best human roots worst things
spring. No one, for instance, will be so full of indignation, of
fierceness, of revenge, as the selfish man born with a strong sense
of justice.--But you say this is not the room in which you hear the
music best?"

"No, it is here."



Lady Arctura opened the door of her bedroom. Donal glanced round it.
It was as old-fashioned as the other.

"What is behind that press there--wardrobe, I think you call it?" he

"Only a recess," answered lady Arctura. "The press, I am sorry to
say, is too high to get into it."

Possibly had the press stood in the recess, the latter would have
suggested nothing; but having caught sight of the opening behind the
press, Donal was attracted by it. It was in the same wall with the
fireplace, but did not seem formed by the projection of the chimney,
for it did not go to the ceiling.

"Would you mind if I moved the wardrobe a little on one side?" he

"Do what you like," she answered.

Donal moved it, and found the recess rather deep for its size. The
walls of the room were wainscotted to the height of four feet or so,
but the recess was bare. There were signs of hinges on one, and of a
bolt on the other of the front edges: it had seemingly been once a
closet, whose door continued the wainscot. There were no signs of
shelves in it; the plaster was smooth.

But Donal was not satisfied. He took a big knife from his pocket,
and began tapping all round. The moment he came to the right-hand
side, there was a change in the sound.

"You don't mind if I make a little dust, my lady?" he said.

"Do anything you please," answered Arctura.

He sought in several places to drive the point of his knife into the
plaster; it would nowhere enter it more than a quarter of an inch:
here was no built wall, he believed, but one smooth stone. He found
nothing like a joint till he came near the edge of the recess: there
was a limit of the stone, and he began at once to clear it. It gave
him a straight line from the bottom to the top of the recess, where
it met another at right angles.

"There does seem, my lady," he said, "to be some kind of closing up
here, though it may of course turn out of no interest to us! Shall I
go on, and see what it is?"

"By all means," she answered, but turned pale as she spoke.

Donal looked at her anxiously. She understood his look.

"You must not mind my feeling a little silly," she said. "I am not
silly enough to give way to it."

He went on again with his knife, and had presently cleared the
outlines of a stone that filled nearly all the side of the recess.
He paused.

"Go on! go on!" said Arctura.

"I must first get a better tool or two," answered Donal. "Will you
mind being left?"

"I can bear it. But do not be long. A few minutes may evaporate my

Donal hurried away to get a hammer and chisel, and a pail to put the
broken plaster in. Lady Arctura stood and waited. The silence closed
in upon her. She began to feel eerie. She felt as if she had but to
will and see through the wall to what lay beyond it. To keep herself
from so willing, she had all but reduced herself to mental inaction,
when she started to her feet with a smothered cry: a knock not over
gentle sounded on the door of the outer room. She darted to the
bedroom-door and flung it to--next to the press, and with one push
had it nearly in its place. Then she opened again the door, thinking
to wait for a second knock on the other before she answered. But as
she opened the inner, the outer door also opened--slowly--and a face
looked in. She would rather have had a visitor from behind the
press! It was her uncle; his face cadaverous; his eyes dull, but
with a kind of glitter in them; his look like that of a
housebreaker. In terror of himself, in terror lest he should
discover what they had been about, in terror lest Donal should
appear, wishing to warn the latter, and certain that, early as it
was, her uncle was not himself, with intuitive impulse, the moment
she saw him, she cried out,

"Uncle! what is that behind you?"

She felt afterwards, and was very sorry, that it was both a
deceitful and cruel thing to do; but she did it, as I have said, by
a swift, unreflecting instinct--which she concluded, in thinking
about it, came from the ready craft of some ancestor, and
illustrated what Donal had been saying.

The earl turned like one struck on the back, imagined something of
which Arctura knew nothing, cowered to two-thirds of his height, and
crept away. Though herself trembling from head to foot, Arctura was
seized with such a pity, that she followed him to his room; but she
dared not go in. She stood a moment in the passage within sight of
his door, and thought she heard his bell ring. Now Simmons might
meet Donal! In a moment or two, however, she was relieved. Donal
came round a turn, carrying his implements. She signed to him to
make haste, and he was just safe inside her room when Simmons came
along on his way to his master's. She drew the door to, as if she
had been just coming out, and said,

"Knock at my door as you return, and tell me how your master is: I
heard his bell."

She then begged Donal to go on with his work, but stop it the moment
she made a noise with the handle of the door, and resumed her place
outside till Simmons should re-appear. Full ten minutes she stood
waiting: it seemed an hour. Though she heard Donal at work within,
and knew Simmons must soon come, though the room behind her was her
own, and familiar to her from childhood, the long empty passage in
front of her appeared frightful. What might not come pacing along
towards her! At last she heard her uncle's door--steps--and the
butler approached. She shook the handle of the door, and Donal's
blows ceased.

"I can't make him out, my lady!" said Simmons. "It is nothing very
bad, I think, this time; but he gets worse and worse--always taking
more and more o' them horrid drugs. It's no use trying to hide it:
he'll drop off sudden one o' these days! I've heard say laudanum
don't shorten life; but it's not one nor two, nor half a dozen sorts
o' laudanums he keeps mixing in that poor inside o' his! The end
must come, and what will it be? It's better you should be prepared
for it when it do come, my lady. I've just been a giving of him some
into his skin--with a little sharp-pointed thing, a syringe, you
know, my lady: he says it's the only way to take some medicines.
He's just a slave to his medicines, my lady!"

As soon as he was gone, Arctura returned to Donal. He had knocked
the plaster away, and uncovered a slab, very like one of the great
stones on some of the roofs. The next thing was to prize it from the
mortar, and that was not difficult. The instant he drew the stone
away, a dank chill assailed them, accompanied by a humid smell, as
from a long-closed cellar. They stood and looked, now at each other,
now at the opening in the wall, where was nothing but darkness. The
room grew cold and colder. Donal was anxious as to how Arctura might
stand what discovery lay before them, and she was anxious to read
his sensations. For her sake he tried to hide all expression of the
awe that was creeping over him, and it gave him enough to do.

"We are not far from something, my lady!" he said. "It makes one
think of what He said who carries the light everywhere--that there
is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that
shall not be known. Shall we leave it for the present?"

"Anything but that!" said Arctura with a shiver; "--anything but an
unknown terrible something!"

"But what can you do with it?"

"Let the daylight in upon it."

Her colour returned as she spoke, and a look of determination came
into her eyes.

"You will not be afraid to be left then when I go down?"

"I am cowardly enough to be afraid, but not cowardly enough to let
you go alone. I will share with you. I shall not be afraid--not
much--not too much, I mean--if I am with you."

Donal hesitated.

"See!" she went on, "I am going to light a candle, and ask you to
come down with me--if down it be: it may be up!"

"I am ready, my lady," said Donal.

She lighted the candle.

"Had we not better lock the door, my lady?"

"That might set them wondering," she answered. "We should have to
lock both the doors of this room, or else both the passage-doors!
The better way will be to pull the press after us when we are behind

"You are right, my lady. Please take some matches with you."

"To be sure."

"You will carry the candle, please. I must have my hands free. Try
to let the light shine past me as much as you can, that I may see
where I am going. But I shall depend most on my hands and feet."



Donal then took the light from her hand, and looked in. The opening
went into the further wall and turned immediately to the left. He
gave her back the candle, and went in. Arctura followed close.

There was a stair in the thickness of the wall, going down steep and
straight. It was not wide enough to let them go abreast. "Put your
hand on my shoulder, my lady," said Donal. "That will keep us
together. If I fall, you must stand stock-still."

She put her hand on his shoulder, and they began their descent. The
steps were narrow and high, therefore the stair was steep They had
gone down from thirty to thirty-five steps, when they came to a
level passage, turning again at right angles to the left. It was
twice the width of the stair. Its sides, like those of the stair,
were of roughly dressed stones, and unplastered. It led them
straight to a strong door. It was locked, and in the rusty lock they
could see the key from within. To the right was another door, a
smaller one, which stood wide open. They went through, and by a
short passage entered an opener space. Here on one side there seemed
to be no wall, and they stood for a moment afraid to move lest they
should tumble into darkness. But sending the light about, and
feeling with hands and feet, they soon came to an idea of the place
they were in. It was a little gallery, with arches on one side
opening into a larger place, the character of which they could only
conjecture, for nearly all they could determine was, that it went
below and rose above where they stood. On the other side was a plain
wall, such as they had had on both sides of them.

They had been speaking in awe-filled whispers, and were now in
silence endeavouring to send their sight through the darkness beyond
the arches.

"Listen, my lady," said Donal.

>From above their heads came a chord of the aerial music, soft and
faint and wild! A strange effect it had! it was like news of the
still airy night and the keen stars, come down through secret ways
into the dark places of the earth, from spaces so wide that they
seem the most awful of prisons! It sweetly fostered Arctura's

"That must be how the songs of angels sounded, with news of high
heaven, to the people of old!" she said.

Donal was not in so high a mood. He was occupied at the moment with
the material side of things.

"We can't be far," he said, "from the place where our plummet came
down! But let us try a little further."

The next moment they came against a cord, and at their feet was the
weight of the clock.

At the other end of the little gallery they came again to a door and
again to a stair, turning to the right; and again they went down.
Arctura kept up bravely. The air was not so bad as might have been
feared, though it was cold and damp. This time they descended but a
little way, and came to a landing place, on the right of which was a
door. Donal raised a rusty latch and pushed; the door swung open
against the wall, dropping from one hinge with the slight shock. Two
steps more they descended, and stood on a stone floor.

Donal thought at first they must be in one of the dungeons, but soon
bethought himself that they had not descended far enough for that.

A halo of damp surrounded their candle; its weak light seemed
scarcely to spread beyond it; for some moments they took in nothing
of what was around them. The floor first began to reveal itself to
Donal's eye: in the circle of the light he saw, covered with dust as
it was, its squares of black and white marble. Then came to him a
gleam of white from the wall; it was a tablet; and at the other end
was something like an altar, or a tomb.

"We are in the old chapel of the castle!" he said. "--But what is
that?" he added instantly with an involuntary change of voice, and a
shudder through his whole nervous being.

Arctura turned; her hand sought his and clasped it convulsively.
They stood close to something which the light itself had concealed
from them. Ere they were conscious of an idea concerning it, each
felt the muscles of neck and face drawn, as if another power than
their own invaded their persons. But they were live wills, and would
not be overcome. They forced their gaze; perception cleared itself;
and slowly they saw and understood.

With strangest dream-like incongruity and unfitness, the thing
beside them was a dark bedstead, with carved posts and low wooden
tester, richly carved!--This in the middle of a chapel!--But there
was no speculation in them; they could only see, not think. Donal
took the candle. From the tester hung large pieces of stuff that had
once made heavy curtains, but seemed hardly now to have as much
cohesion as the dust on a cobweb; it held together only in virtue of
the lightness to which decay had reduced it. On the bed lay a dark
mass, like bed clothes and bedding not quite turned to dust--they
could yet see something like embroidery in one or two places--dark
like burnt paper or half-burnt flaky rags, horrid as a dream of dead

Heavens! what was that shape in the middle?--what was that on the
black pillow?--what was that thick line stretching towards one of
the head-posts? They stared speechless. Arctura pressed close to
Donal. His arm went round her to protect her from what threatened
almost to overwhelm himself--the inroad of an unearthly horror.
Plain to the eyes of both, the form in the middle of the bed was
that of a human body, slowly crumbling where it lay. Bed and
blankets and quilt, sheets and pillows had crumbled with it through

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