Part 2 out of 4
spray dash up against them in miniature waterfalls. The rocks in the
immediate neighborhood of the castle are rugged in the extreme, here
and there rent by a gigantic fissure reaching far inland, and up which
the foaming waters gurgle continually as if in impatience of their
narrow bounds, now jutting far into the sea like a Titanic staircase
and thickly matted with coarse sea-weed, and again reared up on high,
a sheer glistening wall, with not a cranny for the steadiest foot, and
with Niagaras of spray for ever veiling its smooth, unchanging face.
In wonderful hollows you will come upon pools of green water with
sea-anemones, delicate sea-weed of pink, yellow or purple hue, and
gem-like shells resting on a bottom of clearest sand; and while the
waves are roaring on every side, and flinging their dampness into your
very face, these fairy pools will lie at your feet without a breath or
ripple on their surface.
The most magnificent of these rocks is one called in Gaelic "Dun-Bug"
("Yellow Rock"), the favorite haunt of the white sea-gulls. It stands
alone, as if torn from the land and hurled into the tossing waves
by some giant hand. Two hundred feet in height and a thousand in
circumference, it forms a natural arch, being pierced from its base
upward by an opening that widens as it ascends. The waves dash through
it with terrific violence, and the very sight of its grim splendor
conjures up a vision of shipwreck and danger. Scott has made
mention of it in _The Antiquary_, and Johnson in his _Journey to the
Hebrides_, recalling the grandeur of the rocky coast of Slains, has
said that though he could not wish for a storm, still as storms,
whether wished for or not, will sometimes happen, he would prefer
to look at them from Slains Castle. These rocks and the caves that
alternate with them were once famous as a smuggling rendezvous, and
as such Scott has again immortalized them in his _Guy Mannering_. The
Crooked Mary, a noted lugger, had many an adventure along this coast
during the last century. The skipper's arrival was eagerly looked for
at certain stated times, the preconcerted signal was given by him,
and the inhabitants bestirred themselves with commendable haste.
All ordinary business was immediately suspended: men might be seen
stealing along from house to house, or a fisher-girl, bareheaded and
barefooted, would hurry to the neighboring village, and deliver a
brief message which to a bystander would sound very like nonsense, but
which nevertheless was well understood by the person to whom it was
given. Soon after a plaid or blanket might be seen spread out, as if
to dry, upon the top of a peat-stack. Other beacons, not calculated
to draw general notice, but sufficiently understood by the initiated,
soon made their appearance, telegraphing the news from place to place.
As soon as the evening began to close in the Crooked Mary would be
observed rapidly approaching the land, and occasionally giving out
signals indicating the creek into which she meant to run. Both on sea
and land hairbreadth escapes were the rule rather than the exception,
and it is related of one of the Crooked Mary's confederates on shore,
poor Philip Kennedy, that one night, while clearing the way for the
cargo just landed from the contraband trader's hold, he was simply
murdered by the excise-officers. The heavy cart laden with the
cargo was yet some distance behind, and Kennedy with some dastardly
companions was slowly going forward to ascertain if all was safe,
when three officers of the customs suddenly made their unwelcome
appearance. Brave as a lion, Kennedy attacked two of them, and
actually succeeded for a time in keeping them down in his powerful
grasp, while he called to his party to secure the third. They,
however, thinking prudence the better part of valor, decamped
ignominiously, and the enemy remained master of the brave man's life.
Anderson, the third officer, was observed to hold up his sword to the
moon, as if to ascertain if he were using the edge, and then to bring
it down with accurate aim and tremendous force upon the smuggler's
skull. Strange to say, Kennedy, streaming with blood, actually
succeeded in reaching Kirkton of Slains, nearly a quarter of a mile
away, but expired a few moments after his arrival. His last words
were: "If all had been true as I was, the goods would have been safe,
and I should not have been bleeding to death." The brave fellow was
buried in the churchyard of Slains, where a plain stone marks his
grave, and bears the simple inscription, "To the memory of Philip
Kennedy, _in Ward_, who died the 19th of December, 1798. Aged 38."
My own earliest recollections of the grand, desolate old castle are
derived, not from my first visit to it made in infancy, but from the
descriptions of one whose home it was during a brief but intensely
observant period of childhood. There came one day a storm such as
seldom even on that coast lashes up the gray, livid ocean. The waves,
as far out as sight could reach, were one mass of foam, and the
ghastly lightning flashed upon the torn sails of a ship as near
destruction as it well could be. Cries came up from below in the brief
pauses of the storm, and above lanterns were quickly carried to and
fro, while pale attendants hurriedly and silently obeyed the signals
of a more collected master. The occupants of the castle hardly knew to
what its chambers might be destined--whether to receive the dead or to
afford rest to the saved. Beds, fires and cordials were in readiness,
and strong men bore dread burdens up dizzy paths leading from beneath.
The ship broke in pieces on the merciless rocks, and many a drowned
sailor went down to meet the army of his fellow-victims of all times
who no doubt lay sleeping in the submarine caves of Slains. Those who
survived soon disappeared, full of gratitude for the timely relief
offered them at the castle, but one old man remained. He was never
known by any other name than "Monsieur," and was beloved by every
individual member of the household. A French _emigre_ of the old
school, with the dainty, gallant ways of the _ancien regime_, he still
clung to the dress of his earlier days, and wore a veritable _queue_,
silk stockings and buckled shoes. For some time he remained a welcome
guest in the "red chamber," where the host's little children would
sometimes join him and play with his watch and jeweled baubles. But
one day poor little "Monsieur" sickened, and the tiny feet that had
made such haste to run to him, now trod the corridor softly and bore a
baby-nurse to the gentle invalid. It was a high and coveted reward for
the little girls to carry "Monsieur's" medicine to his bedside, and
everything that kindness and hospitality could suggest was equally
lavished on him; but his feeble life, which had no doubt received a
shock from the shipwreck it had barely escaped, went out peacefully
like the soft flame of a lamp.
Slains Castle had many gentle and pleasant memories about it, as well
as its traditional horrors, and among these were many connected with
the history of the old family that owned it. In one of the corridors
hangs the picture of James, Lord Hay, a fair-haired, sunny-faced boy,
tall and athletic, standing with a cricket-bat in his hand. He would
have been earl of Erroll had he lived, but if we follow him in his
short life from classic Eton to the field of Quatre-Bras, we shall
find him again, on a bright June day in 1815, lying as if asleep, as
fair and noble-looking as before, but silent in death. Simple Flemish
peasants stand in a group around him, awed and admiring, asking each
other if this beautiful youth is an angel fallen from heaven, or
only a mortal man slain for the Honor of his country. His was a noble
death, and worthy of the suggestive memento of his early boyhood
before which we stood just now in the corridor of Slains Castle.
A little farther down this corridor, which to all intents and purposes
is a family picture-gallery, we shall be forced to stop before the
portrait of a dark woman, masculine and resolute, not beautiful nor
like the handsome race of the Hays, of which she was yet the last
direct representative. This is the famous Countess Mary, one of the
central figures of the family traditions. The Hays were hereditary
lords high constable of Scotland, and also one of the few Scottish
families in which titles and offices, as well as lands, are
transmitted through the female line. So this Countess Mary found
herself, at the death of her brother, countess of Erroll in her
own right and _lord_ high constable of Scotland. In one of the two
pictures of her at Slains, if I remember right, she is represented
with the baton of her office, with which badge she also appeared at
court before her marriage (after this it was borne by her husband
in the character of her deputy). Her husband was a commoner, a Mr.
Falconer of Dalgaty, whose reported history in connection with her is
curious and deserves to be told, though the old tradition is moulded
into so many different forms that it is very difficult to disentangle
the truth from its manifold embellishments. Toward the beginning of
the eighteenth century this intrepid and independent lady fell in love
with Mr. Falconer, who at first did not seem eager to return or notice
her affection. High-strung and chivalric by nature, she did not droop
and pine under her disappointment, but vowed to herself that she would
bring him to her feet. Mr. Falconer coner left the country after some
time, and went to London. The Countess Mary also traveled south the
same year, and no news of her was heard at Slains for some time.
Meanwhile, she and Mr. Falconer met, but unknown to the latter,
who about the same time became acquainted with a very dashing young
cavalier, evidently a man of high birth and standing, but resolutely
bent on mystifying his friends as to his origin. The two saw each
other frequently, and were linked by that desultory companionship
of London life which sometimes indeed ripens into friendship, but as
often ends in a sudden quarrel. Such was the end of this acquaintance,
and one day some trifling difference having occurred between the
friends, a cartel reached Mr. Falconer couched in very haughty though
perfectly courteous language. These things were every-day matters in
such times, and very nonchalantly the challenged went in the early
morning to the appointed place to meet the challenger. Here the
versions of the story differ. Some say that Mr. Falconer and his
antagonist fought, but without witnesses; that the former got the
worst of the encounter, and remained at the other's mercy; that then,
_and not before_, the Countess Mary made herself known to him and
gave him his choice--a thrust from her sword or a speedy marriage with
herself. Others say that it was before the duel that she astonished
her lover by this discovery, and that the choice she gave him was
between marriage and ridicule.[A]
The fact of her marriage, and that it proved a happy one, is certain.
Mr. Falconer dropped his own name to assume that of Hay. The
countess was a devoted Jacobite and an earnest churchwoman. When
Presbyterianism had got the upper hand in Scotland, and was repaying
church persecutions with terrible interest, a Mr. Keith was
appointed to the Anglican parish of Deer. This was within the Erroll
jurisdiction, and it was not long before the zealous Countess Mary
came to the rescue of the congregation, who had assembled for some
time in an old farmhouse. In 1719 or '20 she had the upper floor of
a large granary fitted up for their accommodation, and this afforded
them a grateful shelter for more than a quarter of a century. Of
this same parish of Deer a curious story is told in the local annals,
showing how conservative and tenacious of traditions the north of
Scotland still was in 1711. The skirmish to which it relates goes
by the quaint title of the "Rabbling of Deer," and is thus reported:
"Some people of Aberdeen, in conjunction with the presbytry of
Deer, to the number of seventy horse or thereby, assembled on the
twenty-third of March, 1711, to force in a Presbyterian teacher in
opposition to the parish; but the presbytry and their satellites were
soundly beat off by the people, not without blood on both sides."
There was little of the martyr about the Scot of that warlike day, and
most emphatically and literally did he show himself a "_soldier_ of
The aisle of the old church of Slains contains the graves of Countess
Mary and her husband, with an epitaph in Latin, of which the following
is a translation: "Beneath this tombstone there are buried neither
gold nor silver, nor treasures of any kind, but the bodies of the most
chaste wedded pair, Mary, countess of Erroll, and Alexander Hay
of Dalgaty, who lived peaceably and lovingly in matrimony for
twenty-seven years. They wished to be buried here beside each other,
and pray that this stone may not be moved nor their remains disturbed,
but that these be allowed to rest in the Lord until He shall call
them to the happy resurrection of that life which they expect from the
mercy of God and the merits of the Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ."
The central figure, however, in the history of the Hays of Erroll,
and that which no one who bears the name of Hay can think of without a
thrill of pride, is the Lord Kilmarnock who fell, in 1746, a victim
to the last unsuccessful but heroic rising in favor of the Stuarts.
I have heard it whispered as an instance of "second sight" that some
years before he had any reason to anticipate such a death he was once
startled by the ghostly opening of a door in the apartment where
he was sitting alone, and by the apparition, horribly distinct and
realistic, of a bloody head rolling slowly toward him across the room;
till it rested at his feet. The glassy eyes were upturned to his,
and the bonny locks were clotted with blood: it was as if it had
just rolled from under the axe of the executioner; and the features,
plainly discerned, _were his own!_
His part in the rising of 1745 belongs to history, but his personal
demeanor concerns my narrative more closely. All the contemporary
accounts are loud in praise of his beauty and elegance of person, his
refinement of manner, his variety of accomplishments; and Scott,
in his _Tales of a Grandfather_, relates a curious circumstance
concerning his fine presence at the moment of his execution. A lady of
fashion who had never seen him before, and who was herself, I
believe, the wife of one who had much to do with Lord Kilmarnock's
death-warrant, seeing him pass on his way to the block, formed a most
violent attachment for his person, "which in a less serious affair
would have, been little less than a ludicrous frenzy."
The grace and dignity of his appearance, together with the resignation
and mildness of his address, melted all the spectators to tears as
they gathered round the fatal Tower prison to witness his death: the
chaplain who attended him says his behavior was so humble and resigned
that even the executioner burst into tears, and was obliged to use
strong cordials to support him in his terrible duty. Lord Kilmarnock
himself was deeply impressed by the sight of the block draped in
funereal black, the plain coffin placed just beside it, the sawdust
that was so disposed as speedily to suck up the bloody traces of the
execution, and the sea of faces surrounding the open enclosure kept
for this his last earthly ordeal. It was certainly not from fear that
he recoiled, but his proud, sensitive, melancholy nature was thrilled
through every nerve by this dread publicity, and we cannot wonder
that, leaning heavily on the arm of a trusty friend, he should have
whispered, almost with his last breath, the simple words, "Home, this
One who was the lineal descendant of this earl of Kilmarnock,
and whose only brother long bore the same blood-stained and
laurel-wreathed title, has often told me of the strange link that
bridged the chasm of four generations from 1746 to 1829, and bound her
recollections to those of a living witness of the scene. She was so
young as not to have any distinct impression of other events that
happened at the same time, but this lived in her mind because of the
importance and solemnity with which her own parents had purposely
invested it in her eyes. One day, at Brighton, this little
great-great-grand-daughter of the Lord Kilmarnock of 1745 was brought
down from the nursery to see an old, more than octogenarian, soldier
who had distinguished himself in recent wars, and reached the rank
of general. This tottering old man, more than fourscore years of age,
took the wee maiden of hardly four upon his knee, and told her in
simple words the story she was never to forget--how he had been a
tiny boy running to school on the day of the execution of the "rebel
lords," and how, seeing a vast, eager crowd all setting toward the
Tower quarter, he was tempted to play truant, and flinging his satchel
of books over his shoulder, had pushed his way as far as the great
state prison. Then of his frantic efforts to secure a point of vantage
whence to see the great death-pageant--of his childish admiration for
the handsome, manly form of Lord Kilmarnock, of his enthusiasm when
Lord Balmerino, the other victim, had cried in a loud voice, "Long
live the king!" and of the fascination he could not resist which led
his eyes from the shining axe and the draped block to the auburn locks
of the prisoner, and soon after to his bleeding head laid low in the
sawdust around the coffin. All this the old veteran told thrillingly,
the shadow of a boy's awed recollection mingling with his Scottish
exultation as a compatriot of the victim, and even with a touch of
humor as he recalled the domestic scolding which marked the truant's
In the charter-room at Slains Castle, where the records, genealogies,
private journals, official deeds, etc. of the family are kept,
one might find ample material for curious investigation of our
forefathers' way of living. Among other papers is a kind of inventory
headed, "My Ladies Petition anent the Plenissing within Logg and
Slanis." The list of things wanted for Slains speaks chiefly of brass
pots, pewter pans and oil barrels, but, the "plenissing" of Logg
(another residence of the Errolls), "quhilk my Ladie desyris as eftir
followis, quhilk extendis skantlie (scantily) to the half," contains
an ample list of curtains of purple velvet, green serge, green-and-red
drugget and other stuffs hardly translatable to the modern
understanding, and shows that in those days women were not more
backward than now in plaguing their liege lords about upholstery and
millinery. But the most amusing and natural touch of all is in the
endorsement, hardly gallant, but _very_ conjugal, made by the fair
petitioner's husband: "To my Ladyes gredie (greedy) and vnressonable
(unreasonable) desyris it is answerit...." Here follows a distinct
admission that the furniture of both houses, put together, is too
little to furnish the half of each of them, and therefore nothing can
be spared from Logie to "pleniss" Slains.
The family coat-of-arms commemorates to this day the poetical
genealogy of the Hays. Its supporters are two tall, naked peasants
bearing plough-yokes on their shoulders: the crest is a falcon, while
the motto is also significant--"_Serva jugum._" Scottish tradition
tells us that in 980, when the Danes had shamefully routed the Scots
at Loncarty, a little village near Perth, and were pursuing the
fugitives, an old man and his two stalwart sons, who were ploughing in
a field close by, were seized with indignation, and, shouldering their
plough-yokes, placed themselves resolutely in a narrow defile through
which their countrymen must pass to evade a second slaughter by
the victors. As the Scots came on the three patriots opposed their
passage, crying shame upon them for cowards and no men, and exhorting
them thus: "Why! would ye rather be certainly killed by the
heathen Danes than die in arms for your own land?" Ashamed, and
yet encouraged, the fugitives rallied, and with the three dauntless
peasants at their head fell upon their astonished pursuers, and fought
with such desperation that they turned defeat into victory. Kenneth
III., the Scottish king, instantly sent for the saviors of his army,
gave them a large share of the enemy's spoils, and made them march in
triumph into Perth with their bloody plough-yokes on their shoulders.
More than that, he ennobled them, and gave them a fair tract of land,
to be measured, according to the fashion of that day, by the flight of
a falcon. From the name of this land the Hays came to be called;
lords of Erroll, and it is said that the Hawk Stone at St. Madoes,
Perthshire, which stands upon what is known to have been the ancient
boundary of the possessions of the Hays, is the identical stone from
which the lucky falcon started. It was left standing as a special
memorial of the defeat of the Danes at Loncarty. Another stone famous
in the Hay annals, and conspicuously placed in front of the entrance
to Slains Castle, is said to be the same on which the peasant general
rested after his toilsome leadership in the battle.
Our walks over the bleak moors on one side, with the heather in
bloom and the blackberries in low--lying purple clusters fringing the
granite rocks, were sometimes rendered more interesting, though more
dangerous, by the sudden falling of a thick white mist. Slowly it
would come at first, gathering little filmy clouds together as it
were, and hovering over the gray sea in curling tufts, and then,
growing strong and dense, would swoop down irresistibly, till what was
clear five minutes before was impenetrably walled off, and one seemed
to stand alone in a silent world of ghosts. Or again, our walks would
take us on the other side, over the Sands of Forvie, a desolate tract
where nothing grows save the coarse grass called _bent_ by the Scotch,
and where the wearied eye rests on nothing but mounds of shifting
sand, drearily shaped into the semblance of graves by the keen winds
that blow from over the German Ocean.
This miniature desert, tradition says, was an Eden four hundred years
ago, but a wicked guardian robbed the helpless orphan heiresses of it
by fraud and violence, and the maidens threw a spell or _weird_ upon
it in these terms:
"Yf evyr maydens malysone
Did licht upon drye lande,
Let nocht bee funde in Furvye's glebys
Bot thystl, bente and sande."
I must not forget the "Bullers," a natural curiosity which is the
boast of the neighborhood of Slains, and is moreover connected with
a feat performed by a former guest and friend of one of the lords of
Erroll. We drove there in a large party, and passed through an untidy,
picturesque little fishing-hamlet on our way, where the women talked
to each other in Gaelic as they stood barefooted at the doors of
their cabins, and where the children looked so hardy, fearless and
determined that the wildest dreams of future possible achievement
seemed hardly unlikely of realization in connection with any one of
"The Pot," as it is locally called, is a huge rocky cavern,
irregularly circular and open to the sky, into which the sea rushes
through a natural archway. A narrow pathway is left quite round
the basin, from which one looks down a sheer descent of more than a
hundred feet; but this is so dangerous, the earth and coarse grass
that carpet it so deceptive and loose, and the wind almost always
so high on this spot, that only the most foolhardy or youngest of
visitors would dare in broad daylight to attempt to _walk_ round it.
Yet it is on record that the duke of Richmond, some sixty or seventy
years ago, made a bet at Lord Erroll's dinner-table that he would
_ride round it after dark_. He accomplished the feat in safety. His
picture, life-size, hangs in the dining-room to this day, and as he
is represented standing in all the pride of a vigorous manhood by
the side of his beautiful charger, he does not seem to belie the
reputation which this incident created for him in the old district of
The peasants of this wild and primitive neighborhood, though to some
extent slightly infected by modernization, are yet very fair specimens
of the hardy, trusty clansmen of Scottish history, and the present
owners of Slains certainly give them every reason to keep up the old
bonds of affectionate interest with every one and everything belonging
to "the family." To my own observation of the ancient seat of the Hays
I owe one of the most delightful recollections of my life, that of
a Christian home. Not only the outward observances, but the inner
spiritual vitality of religion, were there, while unselfish devotion
to all within the range of her influence or authority marked the
character of her who was at the head of this little family kingdom.
The present head of the house, a Hay to the backbone, has triumphantly
carried on the martial traditions of his ancestry, and on the roll of
England's victorious sons at the battle of the Alma his name is to be
found. He was there disabled by a wound that shattered his right arm
and cut short his military career. Domestic happiness, however, is
no bad substitute for a brilliant public life, and there are duties,
higher yet than a soldier's, that go far toward making up that
background of rural prosperity which alone ensures the grand effect of
military successes. After having done one's duty in the field, it
is to the full as noble, and perhaps more patriotic, to turn to the
duties of the glebe, thereby finishing as a landlord the work begun as
It is a touching custom, hardly yet obliterated in the district over
which my reminiscences have led me, for one peasant, when coming upon
another employed in his lawful calling, thus to salute him: "Guid
speed the wark!" the rejoinder being, in the same broad Buchan
dialect, "Thank ye: I wish ye weel."
I can end these pages with no more fitting sentiment. As a tribute of
grateful recollection to those who made my days at Slains a happiness
to me, and in the first fresh sorrow of a deep bereavement offered
me distractions the more alluring because the more associated with
Nature's changeless, silent grandeur, I pen these lines, crowning them
with the homely Scottish wish that wherever they are and whatever they
do, "Guid speed the wark!"
LADY BLANCHE MURPHY.
[Footnote A: There is another version of her courtship, and this a
metrical one. This old ballad was not much known beyond the district
round Slains, and the old servants and farmers on the estate were the
chief depositaries of the tradition. I have failed to secure more than
a very small fragment of it, which is itself only written down from
memory by one of these old women. The rhyme and rhythm are both
Lady Mary Hay went to a wedding
Near the famous town of Reading:
There a gentleman she saw
That belonged to the law....
Here evidently there occurs a hiatus, during which some account is
probably begun of her unreturned attachment, for a little later we
find in the very primitive manuscript from which we quote these words
of the countess:
I that have so many slighted,
I am at last--(unrequited?)
The story is now carried on in prose (my informant having forgotten
the text of the ballad), and says that "Lady Mary wanted or challenged
him to meet her in a masquerade" (probably meaning a duel in
disguise), "and that his father told him to go." Neither father
nor son seems to have known the fair challenger's rank, though the
following words point to their being aware of her sex, for the elder
Falconer is represented as saying,
If she is rich she will raise your fame,
And if poor you are the same.
OUR HOME IN THE TYROL
We were soon comfortably settled in the old Hof. The spacious
rooms, always deliciously cool, were fragrant with rare and delicate
blossoms--Alpine roses from the rocks, white lilies from Moidel's
special little garden-plot, grasses and nodding flowers, campanulas,
veronicas, melisot, potentillas and lady's bedstraw, which, according
to Anton, no cattle would touch, whilst the roots of others were good
for man or beast, their various qualities being all known to him. But
soon the waving flowers bent beneath the scythe. It was the eve of St.
Peter and St. Paul's Day, a festival when all work must cease, and
the Hofbauer, whose word was law, had given orders that the hay in the
wood-meadow must be carried that evening. Seeing, therefore, that the
more hands there were the better, the two Margarets seized each a rake
and worked as hard as any woman in the field.
On we labored, the golden evening sun glinting down upon our
picturesque row of haymakers, nor did we cease until the angelus
sounded from the village spire. Then Anton, Jakob, Moidel, their men
and maids, fell devoutly upon their knees and thanked God that Christ
Jesus had been born. These humble Tyrolese remember thrice daily to
praise the Lord, as David did. With a hushed, subdued look upon their
honest faces, they arose, and we joining them the fresh, fragrant hay
was carted triumphantly home. The hay is cut long before we should
consider it ready, and is housed whilst still green and moist. The
newer the hay the richer the cream, they say. The Hofbauer has three
crops yearly, but his neighbors, who lie higher, have only two, and
sometimes but one.
The good old Kathi stood at the door cooling a gigantic pan of
buckwheat polenta, and when she had set down this dish, intended for
the haymakers' supper, she brought us each, as our pay, a couple of
_krapfen_, which are oblong dough-cakes fried in butter.
Although the haymakers were worn out and weary with a long day's
work of twelve hours, still Rosenkranz sounded in the chapel like the
humming of bees in lime trees. This pious custom duly impressed us,
until on the very next day, as we walked up our village street on the
evening of the festival, our solemn feelings received a great check.
We observed that the prayer-leaders, who knelt at the open windows
of each separate house, followed our every movement with their eyes,
whilst their mouths mechanically repeated sonorous Ave Marias and
Paternosters. Nay, there was our own pious Moidel watching us from the
kitchen window, her Hail Marys mingling with her friendly greetings;
but then Moidel was waiting upon us and our supper whilst her family
were on their knees in the chapel. Still, we soon learnt to perceive
that Rosenkranz was considered quite as efficacious if merely uttered
by the tongue, whilst the mind was far away. This being a festival,
and no one tired with work, the household trooped into the old
pleasaunce after supper. The elders sat together in a row, whilst the
younger members congregated on a second long stone bench and struck up
singing, Moidel and her elder brother beginning with a duet:
Green, green is the clover
On the hills as I go,
And my maiden as fresh is
As spring water's flow.
And the chorus joined in--
As spring water's flow,
winding up with a jodel.
Nanni, the chief maid, next sang in a clear, flexible voice, which
trembled no little when she perceived that the Herrschaft now formed
part of the audience in the balcony--
A WEEK'S SORROW.
On Sunday I cried, for my heart was so sore,
Like a poor little child outside the church door;
On Monday I felt so afeard and alone,
And thought, Were I a swallow, I'd quickly begone:
Woe's me! were I but a swallow, were I but a swallow!
On Tuesday, and nothing could please me all day,
For him that I love best is far, far away;
On Wednesday whatever I did, I did ill,
For when the heart's heavy the hand has no skill;
On Thursday I was weary and sleepy all day;
On Friday, and one of the cows went astray;
On Saturday down poured my tears like the rain,
As though I should never be happy again.
Woe's me! never be happy again; woe's me! never again.
In order to catch the meaning of the words, which were sung in strong
dialect, Margaret and I had descended to the garden. The Hofbauer
looked sad when he saw us approach, and quietly brushed a tear away
with his shirt-sleeve. We consequently asked Moidel when we stood
alone with her whether anything were troubling her father.
"It strikes me not," she said. "I fancy that it is but the music.
Father and uncle may both seem quiet and dull now, yet they have been
celebrated singers; only when my mother died father left off singing,
and so did uncle after Uncle Jakob's death."
"Ah yes!" said the aunt, who had also joined us, "they were the three
handsomest, best--grown men in the parish, living happily together
without an ill word, until four years ago Jakob was trampled upon by
a yoke of vicious oxen, and in three days he was dead. Yes, that was a
sorrow almost as cutting as the death of the Hofbauerin, so young when
she died. Only married five years, and leaving four little children,
not one of whom ever knew her! Yes, Moidel is a good girl, and is
wearing her linen now, but she can never come up in looks to her
mother. Ah ja! and now the trouble is about Jakob."
"About Jakob?" asked we in a low, astonished voice.
"Why yes, that he has been drawn for the Landwehr. Ah, I thought you
knew. It was last autumn that he was drawn. The Hofbauer would have
sold his best acres to release him, but the recruiting-officer would
have no nay: Jakobi was a fine, well-behaved young fellow, and such
were needed in the army. He had to serve two months this spring, and
with his comrades day by day had to run up the face of mountains
some four thousand feet. It quite wore Jakob out, though he is so
good-tempered. He declared that he was used, to be sure, at the Olm
to climb up to the glaciers of the Hoch Gall after his goats, often
bringing the kids in his arms down the precipices, but to have his
back broken and his feet blistered in order to know how to shed human
blood was what he hated. Yet he bore it so well, doing his best, that
when the other recruits could return to their homes, Jakob, being so
clever and well-behaved, had to stay a fortnight longer to brush, fold
up and put away all the regimentals. However, the under-officer did
have him to dine with him every day."
"Yes, and Jakob will in his turn be an officer," we replied, trying to
"Oh, na, na, that can never be: eleven more long years must he serve,
and always as a private. I thought like you, until the Hofbauer
explained to me that all the officers were foreigners--Saxons,
Bavarians, Wuertembergers, put in by the Austrian ministry, who are
tyrants to Tyrol. Ah, if the good emperor would only interfere, for
he loves Tyrol! but he leaves everything to the ministry. Austria may
itself be overthrown in these unrighteous days before my Jakobi is
free." Now it was the good soul's turn to wipe her eye with the corner
of her ample blue apron.
We were venturing some fresh attempt at consolation when fortunately
an event occurred which drew her thoughts from the deep shadow which
we had just discovered hung over the peaceful Hof. Jodokus, the
village schoolmaster in the winter, when the children had time
to learn, but during the busy summer months one of the men, had
challenged Jakobi to a wrestling-match. Hardly had the two antagonists
encountered each other on the grass in a stout set-to, when the sound
of the goatherd's whip was heard on the hilly common above, sending
forth a succession of reports like those of a pistol, becoming
stronger and louder when the game and the assembled company were seen.
At last the young "whipper-snapper," as we called him, made one long
final succession of cracks and reports, and springing over the
wall, and casting his instrument of torture on one side, he boldly
The young man, whose skill and strength were well known, smiled, half
amused, half incredulous, on his antagonist. The younger athlete, a
lad of thirteen, firmly built and agile, mistook the look for a sneer,
and the blood ran fast and hot into his face. So, Anton accepting
the challenge, they immediately began to spar. They first fearlessly
regarded each other, then bowing their heads they rushed forward,
butting like rams. The lad, with his head fixed firm in Anton's chest,
tried to find his adversary's weakest point, and with his arms round
his waist endeavored cunningly to make him slip; but it was soon the
young champion who was tripped up, and who in playful, half-serious
anger dealt blows and tugs right and left, almost managing to bring
Anton sprawling to the ground. The lad, however, suddenly stopped:
he had lost a little tin ring off his finger and a four-kreuzer piece
from his pocket--too great a loss for a shepherd-boy. The combat
therefore was speedily closed, both antagonists and their partisans
hunting in the unmowed grass until the treasures were again trove.
At the same time an elderly man approached and opened the gate--a
peasant evidently, although, instead of the usual long white apron
and bib, he wore one of new green linen, shining as satin--a man of a
strong although delicate make, the head slightly stooping forward,
and a face that beamed with genuine pleasure as half a dozen voices
simultaneously burst forth with a "God greet you, Alois!"
This then was Schuster (or Shoe-maker) Alois, in preparation of
whose advent the good aunt had scrubbed a bed-room, and Moidel had
beautified the window with pots of blooming geraniums. The room was a
large chamber, set apart for the different ambulatory work-people who
came to the Hof in the course of the year. The weaver, who arrived in
the spring to weave the flax which the busy womankind had spun through
the winter, had been the last occupant of the room, and had woven no
less than two hundred and ninety-three ells of linen, which now in
long symmetrical lines were carefully pegged down on the turf of the
pleasaunce by Moidel, who walked over them daily with her bare feet,
busily watering until the gray threads were turning snowy white.
Later on in the year the sewing-woman would appear, and then the
tailor, to make the clothing for this large household, the servants,
according to an old custom long since extinct in most countries, being
chiefly paid in kind. Schuster Alois had now come to make the boots
for Jakob and the Senner Franz preparatory to their going with the
cattle to the Alpine pastures.
I greatly doubt whether the tailor or the weaver was so well waited
upon as the shoemaker: I fancy they were left more to the maids.
Passing the open door of the family house-place, aunt and niece might
now be seen sitting hour after hour, the elder lining the soles of
Jakob's stockings with pieces of strong woolen to prevent mending on
the Alp, or attending to other needs of his homely toilet; the younger
at her paste-board or kneading-trough, whilst Schuster Alois sat
between them in the sunny oriel window, and while he steadily plied
his awl appeared to be either telling them tales or reciting poetry.
The Alp, or Olm (to use the provincial word), lay at the distance of
about six hours, and the Hofbauer went up to examine the state of the
pasturage before his son and the cattle finally started. In two days
he returned. "The going up of the cattle must be postponed at least a
week," he said, "for snow had fallen at the huts the depth of a man;
and the river had swollen to such a height that it had carried two
houses away in St. Wolfgang, the highest mountain-village; and even
life had been lost."
This delay caused a respite from hard work. The next morning
Alois's arms did not move like unwearying machinery, and, the ten
o'clock-dinner being over, we saw him seated at his ease on the
adjoining hillside. Should we go and speak to him? He appeared
different from the ordinary run of his class (though cobblers are
often clever men enough), and moreover of a decidedly friendly turn of
mind. We determined that we would. We joined Alois on the stony, waste
hillside, crowned by two trees with a crucifix in the centre, which
formed from the house, with its background of mountains, ever a
melancholy, soul-touching little poem.
"You have not quite such hard work to-day, Schuster?"
He smiled and said, "Do your work betimes, and then rest; and where
better than under the shadow of the cross?"
"Yes, and the crucifix which you have chosen is more pleasing than the
generality which are sown broadcast over the fields of the Tyrol. Why
are they made so hideous and revolting?"
We spoke out freely, because the unusually intelligent face before
us evidently belonged to a thinker. Candor of speech pleased him.
Nevertheless, he answered as if musing, "They appear ugly to you: well
they may be. Ja, but the most who look upon them are men and women
acquainted with many sorrows--sudden deaths by falls from precipices,
destruction of house and home by lightning, floods, avalanches,
failure of crops, and many another visitation--and it soothes their
perhaps selfish natures to see these anguished features, these
blood-stained limbs--signs of still greater suffering--whilst they
pray that only such crosses may be laid on them as will keep them in
obedience to His will. Just before you came up the hill I was thinking
of a strange history connected with a crucifix--one that I read only
ten days ago in the house of a Hochmair himself."
It merely needed silence for Schuster Alois to repeat the tale, and he
soon began: "It is the Tyroler Adolph Pichler who narrates it. He says
that once in his rambles he came to a little chapel, over which hung a
blasted larch--such a desolate wreck of a tree that he naturally asked
the guide he had with him why it was not cut down. Now, the guide
was an old man who knew every, tradition and legend, besides all the
family histories in that part of the Tyrol. 'That tree,' said he, 'is
left there purposely, as the reminder of a great crime, and nobody
would think of touching it. If you look into the chapel, you'll see a
Christ on the cross which has been shot through the breast. That was
once a crucifix under this very tree.' Then the guide made a remark
which had often struck myself--that there are some families in which
everything that is strange and dreadful happens, whilst there are
others that go on for generations and are no more distinguishable than
the very weeds themselves. In that valley were the Hochmairs, and they
were of this prominent sort, and odd enough, as I said before, it was
at a Hochmair's house that I read this account. Well, some generations
back there was a Hochmair who was a regular ruffian. He cared no more
for the life of a man than that of a chamois. The government kept the
game strictly on the mountains, and he was suspected of having put
more than one of their keepers out of the way. In short, he had such
a bad character that when he went to confession the priest would
not give him absolution. This put him in a great rage, and it is
remarkable that from that day his luck in hunting forsook him. He
could not take aim--a sort of mist was ever before his eyes, his hand
trembled. People believed that he was perpetually haunted by the ghost
of a young man whom, after he had shot, he had beaten to death with
his gunstock, and then flung down a crevasse. Be that as it may, he
would be absent for weeks in the mountains. He did no good, and the
little he possessed fell into ruin.
"His creditors were about to sell him up, stick and stone, when he
put, as one may say, the finishing stroke to everything himself. It
was Corpus Christi Day: the bells were ringing and the procession
moving through the fields, the holy banners waving, the choir-boys
singing the sanctus, when just as the priest lifted the Host in the
golden monstrance, a shot was fired from the bushes in front of a
crucifix. Lightning flashed from heaven, and the house of the wicked
Hochmair, which was at no great distance, burst into flames. An awful
cry rang from the bushes: the procession rushed forward, the priest
only remaining with the Host and a few attendants. And what did they
see? There was the image of the crucified Saviour pierced by a bullet,
and out in the road stood the wretched Hochmair, with his hands
clasped on the lock of his gun and his eyes rolling in frenzy.
Everybody perceived the crime he had committed, and remained
motionless, whilst he beckoned wildly to the priest, who came up in
gloomy silence. After they had talked together alone for some time,
the priest went into the church, where he remained all night in
prayer. The wretched man, whom nobody dared to touch, disappeared
into the thicket, and all trace was lost of him. In the mean while
the injured image of the Saviour was removed into the church. So years
went on, and then one Sunday after service the priest announced from
the pulpit that the former sinner Hochmair was dead, but that after
years of penitence he had received the forgiveness of the Church and
of God. 'Therefore,' said the good man, 'let all forgive him, and
remember only their own sins, and pray Christ to be merciful to them.'
After that it was known that he had become possessed with the crazy
notion that if he fired into the breast of the Saviour on Corpus
Christi Day, just when the Host was being elevated and the benediction
spoken, it would make his gun unerring. He fired therefore, and at the
same moment the Saviour on the cross raised His head and, fixing on
him His eyes full of tears, gave him a look which pierced him to the
very marrow, and that terrified him far more than the lightning
which, flashing from his forehead, set fire to his house, whilst the
thorn-crowned countenance seemed to float before him, and he knew that
this was his punishment. Such was his confession at the time to the
priest who laid the penance of the Church upon him. So he went out
into the world like another Cain, and God in His own time was merciful
to him. Still, the wounded effigy of the Saviour and the blasted larch
tree remain as witnesses on earth against him.
"And," continued Schuster Alois, "that is only one tale amongst the
hundreds which could be related concerning these crucifixes. Ah,
there is many an old, bleached, weather-beaten crucifix on crag or
highway-side from which the anguished face of the Saviour has both
smitten and healed the sinner. Crucifixes cut deeper into most
Tyrolese hearts than shrines, some way."
"Strange," we replied, "for these old shrines are not only quaint,
but often beautiful, as, for instance, the one on the roadside turning
"Ah, I am glad you like it," said Alois, "for there are those who
would wish it pulled down and a lofty wooden cross, as a landmark,
placed there instead. The Capuchins in the adjoining monastery are
opposed to it, however, and no wonder. Have you ever remarked," he
continued, becoming quite aglow, "that although it is greatly injured
and many of the figures lost, still there are others who look at you
so calmly and seriously with their marred, dilapidated countenances
that you feel a peace steal into your heart? And whoever the painter
was, he must have loved his work, for Saint Gregory could never have
been more dignified in real life than he looks in the shrine."
"Are you a painter?" we asked, almost without knowing what we were
saying, for it was hardly probable.
"Oh, I only touch colors now and then, when there's a purpose in it
or I can serve the Church," he returned. He became embarrassed, and
explained that it was time to return to his work.
We afterward learnt from Moidel that Alois bore in the neighborhood
far and wide the reputation of an artist, although he did not consider
himself such, seeing he could not paint saints and angels. It was,
however, a great source of pleasure to him to paint mottoes and
devices and to arrange floral decorations, especially when they could
serve as a surprise for some private name-day or church festival.
One afternoon we were told that the boots were made, that Anton had
brought the flour from the mill, that two hundred loaves of rye bread
were baked, and, the weather being sufficiently fine and all the
preparations being completed, the cattle would now start for the
Olm. First, Anton and the Senner Franz set off at four o'clock in the
afternoon, with the calves in advance, the young things being unable
to keep up with the cattle. Then a _leiterwagen_ which had been drawn
into the lower corridor and filled with sacks of flour, meal, salt and
the two hundred loaves, was driven by the Hofbauer as far as Taufers,
whence the supplies for the Alpine residents would be borne on men's
backs up to the huts.
In the evening Jakob came into the grand old sitting-room to bid us
good-bye. He appeared in his shirt-sleeves and the indispensable white
apron, and with the utmost self-possession and refinement of manner he
presented us with a little bouquet of edelweiss, promising to send us
down a larger supply by his brother. We talked with him about the Olm,
and found him enthusiastic on the subject, his one regret being that,
as he must return for several weeks of drilling on August 22d, his
stay there this summer would be greatly curtailed. The Olm was very
extensive, lying on a mountain-platform which was only bare of snow
for about three months in the year. When, however, the snow was off,
the flowers came up by thousands, the grass sprang up by magic,
all the mountains were filled with the rushing and roaring sound
of waters, which came down in foaming cascades, often of wonderful
beauty, amongst the rocks and the pine woods which clothed the steeper
mountain-sides. Nor was the life at all solitary, for various farmers
were sending up their cattle to other Olms about the same time,
so that no one was without neighbors, although they might be at a
considerable distance apart.
Jakob spoke on until we became wild to go up to the Olm too. "Could we
go thither," we asked, "and pay him a visit?"
"That we could," he replied, "if we did not mind sleeping in the hay.
Only we had better wait for settled weather in August."
There was now no talk of our leaving the Hof at St. Jakobi. The
Hofbauer had declared that the house was at our disposal until
Martinmas--longer if we wanted it. He also fell into the scheme of
our visiting his Olm, where he intimated his desire to be host, saying
that all the dairy produce would be at our service.
In the night, exactly at one o'clock, Jakob and Jodokus started: we
heard them go, the cattle-bells ringing and the "Leben Sie wohl!"
"Behuet Euch Gott!" shouted lovingly after them from the open door and
the lower windows of the silent old mansion. Six and twenty head of
cattle: the goats, pigs and sheep were to follow later. It was a calm
and beautiful night, the three-quarters moon just dropping behind the
mountains, and the stars shining out brightly from the dark cloudless
The Alpine caravansary was hardly settled at the Olm when the air
became intensely hot and oppressive. Day by day black thunder-clouds
gathered on the horizon. They crested the mountains in three
directions, at times appearing to repel each other, at others marching
fiercely on to conflict, when, the zenith becoming pitch-dark, they
flung out long spears of lightning and exploded in overwhelming
thunder. Very terrible were these perpetual storms. With the first
peal the church-bells along the valley began solemnly to toll. It
mattered not whether by night or day, the faithful bellringer was
at his post, and with rain pouring down outside and fiery, vivid
lightning playing around him, he still went tolling on, for evil
spirits must be driven away, and people reminded to make the sign of
the cross and pray God to protect them.
At length, to use an expression of Alois's, "Saint Florian had left
off playing at skittles, and Saint Leonhard had driven his hay over
the heavenly bridge." The warring elements were still, but the earth
seemed smouldering with heat, and we panted and gasped after the lofty
mountain-slopes which lay on all sides. At the same time it came
most opportunely to our knowledge that the Tyrol was rich in
baths--primitive establishments most of them, but dotted over mountain
and valley, so that each village had half a dozen to choose from,
where every peasant, be he ever so poor, could at least dip and soak
for an eight-days' _sommerfrisch_. Why, then, should not the two
Margarets, they being the most desirous of a change, have at least a
But which amongst all these baths was the one to choose? Good Kathi
recommended her baths at Innichen. She herself evidently did not
derive much pleasure from her yearly visits there. Still, we, being
ladies, would find more people to talk to, and the bath-house, which
was always full to overflowing, stood in a wood, and we liked trees.
Schuster Alois--for the conversation took place before he left--said
that most gentlefolks went to Maistall. There was not only _luxus_,
but a great deal of life and spirit there. His Majesty Emperor Max
as early as 1511 took up his quarters at Maistall during his campaign
against the Venetians, and he had heard say that in the last century
the visitors formed a society and made it a rule that none but the
purest German should be spoken. Every fault of pronunciation cost a
kreuzer to the offender: the money went to the chapel, and amounted
one season to twenty-one florins six kreuzers.
But one Margaret decidedly objected to going to a place where there
was the faintest chance of her _loiter wagon_ for _leiterwagen_, her
_pison_ for _speisen_, her _vulgarborn_ for _wohlgeboren_, being fined
by a _gazel-schaft (gesellschaft)_. Besides, these places sounded too
grand: we did not want a Gastein, but a Wildbad, if one could be
found that did not belie its name. So the peasant-baths of St. Vigil,
Muehlbach and Scharst were named to us, and the lot fell upon Scharst,
we having heard that all the school-children in town had just been
taken there for a long day's holiday, and had returned to their proud
and happy parents, who waited for them in double ranks below, radiant
with pleasure, waving their banners and Alpine roses.
It was accordingly arranged that on the following Sunday Anton should
drive us to Reischach, where there was to be a great festival, with
candles in the church as big as a man's arm: so said a woman from
Reischach. Anton was of a retiring nature, and did not like crowds,
but he would gladly drive the ladies over. And at Reischach we should
be sure to find some peasant returning that evening by Scharst, who
could carry our belongings.
Imagine us, therefore, at Reischach, the church-bell ringing for
vespers, which begin at one o'clock. We wear bouquets of carnations
and rosemary, presented to us by the family at the Hof, as correct
decorations for a festival. And Anton!--how to present him to you as
he deserves to be presented? His truthful, guileless face is his best
ornament: nevertheless, he too wears carnations and rosemary caught
in the silver cord and vieing with the silver tassels of his
broad-brimmed, low-crowned beaver hat. His rough jacket, made by the
tailor last autumn, and therefore too new to be worn on a less special
occasion, is short and loose enough to leave ample space for the
display of his _rauge_, or broad leather belt of softest chamois-skin,
worked in scrolls surrounding his name, with split peacock quills,
no little resembling Indian handicraft. His snow-white knees appear
between his short leather breeches and his bright blue knitted
stockings. These Nature's garters, when perfectly white, are regarded
as a mark of great distinction amongst the dandies, and those of our
Anton may be considered the very _knee plus ultra_.
A parliament of men--a few still in breeches with Hessian boots,
which appeared a characteristic of Reischach, but the majority, having
succumbed to modern ideas, wearing trowsers--were seated in the shadow
of a comfortable house, discussing the different stages of their rye
and flax crops. Their wives and daughters, following their natural
impulse, were already kneeling in church, confiding their cares of
kitchen and farmyard to the ever-ready ear of _Mutter Gottes_--one
dense mass of simple, believing women, in broad-brimmed beaver hats,
with here and there a conical woolen beehive as a contrast.
The church in itself, although it lacked the candles as big as a man's
arm, must truly have shone like the gate of heaven to peasant eyes.
Many of the more substantial families had lent their private saints
for the occasion. They had brought Holy Nothburgs and Saint Leonhards
and Virgins, generally preserved in wardrobes at home, but now brought
to participate in the festival, besides adding to its great solemnity.
It was Scapulary Sunday, we were told, and although the words conveyed
no clear idea to us, we were soon to learn their significance. A
Tyrolese anthem having been sung by some invisible voices, in which
jodels leapt up and smothered Gregorians, a middle-aged Capuchin took
his stand in the pulpit, and having greeted the congregation,
promised to explain to them the mystery and the advantage of the Holy
"My beloved," he began, "there are some who think too little of the
scapulary, and there are others who lay too great a stress on this
aid to faith. Let us meditate on both these conditions. But first, how
must we ourselves regard the scapulary? Now, we are told not to love
the world nor the things of the world. The scapulary, with its sacred
image of Mary worn next the heart, is a great shield against this love
of the world. It places you under the especial protection of the Queen
of Heaven: you are as much her servant as those who serve king or
kaiser, and equally wear her livery. Some think too little of the
scapulary. Yet what incidents can be told of its efficacy! Let one
suffice. In the year 1866, when the war raged between Austria and
Prussia, the Catholic soldiers of the latter country immediately
before the war entered by hundreds into the Society of the Scapulary.
Wearing this sacred charm upon their hearts, they went into the
battle-field, and the cannons roared and the bullets whizzed thick
and fast around them, and not one of them fell, for they wore the
scapulary. Indeed, their miraculous preservation created so much
excitement that Lutherans marveled over it, and asked the Catholics
how it came that they were no whit hurt. And they answered, 'We wear
the scapulary of Mary, and she saves us.' Then many Lutherans said,
'Come, we will have scapularies,' and wrote their names down in the
society. And now hark ye, my brethren. There was a Catholic soldier,
and there was a Lutheran, and the latter said, 'Lend me thy scapulary
for this one day only, and see, here is a thaler for thee.' Then the
foolish Catholic drew the scapulary off his neck, handed it to the
Lutheran, took the thaler, went into battle: whiz went the bullets
round him, and he fell."
We could stand no more. The church, now crowded with men as well as
women, reeked with perspiration, the sermon oppressed us, and thus our
sense and senses drove us out into the open air. Here the fresh breeze
came across from the Ziller snow-fields, health-giving as a breath
from heaven. Peasant-women who were too late to squeeze into
church were seated amongst the iron crosses of the graves. The more
serious-minded had managed to cluster together round a side-door
which, being adjacent to the pulpit, proved an advantageous spot for
hearing. The less particular sat in the shade, feeling it sufficient
to be in holy ground and to pass their beads through their fingers
whilst they studied up our novel attire. Approaching the more
attentive members, we found that the Capuchin had reached the second
part of his discourse, and was dilating on those who thought too
highly of the scapulary. We gathered the following fragment:
"Now, the man was nigh unto death, and it was neither for confession
nor for the death-sacrament that he craved. No, it was for a
scapulary. 'A scapulary!' he cried, 'a scapulary!' My brethren, you
know well he should have asked for the priest and for the blessing of
the Church, but it was merely for a scapulary."
Later on we asked permission to see a scapulary. It consisted of two
small squares of cloth, herring-boned round the edge, and united by a
narrow ribbon of sufficient length to permit one square to rest on
the breast, whilst the other hung between the shoulders. That in front
bore the image of the Virgin, designed by the nuns in the convent,
whilst the simpler work had been given to some poor old woman, or even
man, who was past harder employment. The privilege of wearing this
charmed badge entailed the payment of a small yearly subscription and
the repetition of seven Paternosters daily.
The procession followed the sermon. Mary, Joseph, Saint Nothburg (once
a good peasant-girl, now a saint) were paraded round the village by
children, and borne back to church. Peasant-men staggered under large
silk banners, which swayed and fluttered in the blustery wind,
and, but for the steady grasp of the strong men who carried them,
threatening at each moment to crush the pious throng. The four chief
peasants of the district, wearing their robes of state, the Noah's ark
coats in which they were married, bore the baldachin over the head
of the Capuchin who elevated the Host: the village priest, in white
surplice and Hessian boots, swung the censer at his side. The men were
in front, the women, a long, broad file, divided in the procession by
the priests from their male relations, followed--a dense black mass,
but relieved in color by the whiteness of their short linen sleeves.
Men and women, carefully severed in their prayers and on the very
steps of the altar by Holy Church, were soon able to come together
again under the spacious, hospitable roof of Herr Kappler, the wirth.
Innumerable clean wooden tables, forms, and stiff, high-legged wooden
chairs were ranged up stairs and down stairs and in the orchard
without, for the accommodation of the scapularists and their friends.
We sat at a side-table in an upper room partaking of grilled fowl and
salad, whilst _buben_ and their _dirnen_, or lads and their lasses,
middle-aged couples, old men and women, poured into the house,
filling every chair, bench and table. They came thither from all
the country-side, and endless were the greetings amongst cousins and
cousins' cousins. The Tyrolese, like the Scotch, keep up every link
of relationship, claiming the fiftieth cousin. Relationship, in fact,
never does die out; and though it may become an abstract during busy
seasons of ploughing and sowing, it becomes a strong reality at
wakes and festivals. Thus, at Kappler's, on this scapulary afternoon,
Barthel's brother-in-law's cousin drank with "Cousin Barthel," and
Seppl's sister-in-law's niece was treated by "Onkel Seppl." There was
one square-built, good-humored old man who appeared to be the whole
world's cousin: he passed from table to table, and had to sip from
fifty offered glasses.
With our delicious coffee and boiled cream we ordered the host, as a
suitable person, to find us a guide to carry our valise and shawls to
Bad Scharst. Probably the perpetual and loud demands for pints of wine
left him but little time to make a wise selection, seeing that there
soon stood before us a small man with so subtle and malignant a look
that his exorbitant demand made us only too gladly dismiss him. Our
confidence shaken in the landlord's powers of discrimination, we sent
word below that if Anton had returned we should be glad to speak with
him. He had been in the village to visit his cousins, but was waiting
our orders below. Although his native shyness made it hard for him
to step forward and address ladies under the curious gaze of all the
relative Seppls and Barthels, he did it with manliness, and turning
round and addressing the popular old man as Hansel, asked him if his
brother Joergel were below; and being answered in the affirmative, he
hastened away, and returned with another compact little peasant, whom
he introduced to us as Senner Franz's brother, with an aside, that he
was "a friendly mortal and Count Arlberg's forester."
The agreement was soon made, the sullen-looking man glowering at us
from behind a stack of firewood, whilst Hansel and Anton packed a
_kraxe_ or wooden frame and fixed it on Joergel's back. As we set
off, Anton drove away homeward, although the skittle-balls were just
beginning to roll, and the sound of "I bin a lustiger bua" and other
Tyrolese songs came floating from the windows.
[TO BE CONTINUED.]
I give God thanks that I, a lean old man,
Wrinkled, infirm, and crippled with keen pains
By austere penance and continuous toil,
Now rest in spirit, and possess "the peace
Which passeth understanding." Th' end draws nigh,
Though the beginning is as yesterday,
And a broad lifetime spreads 'twixt this and that--
A favored life, though outwardly the butt
Of ignominy, malice and affront,
Yet lighted from within by the clear star
Of a high aim, and graciously prolonged
To see at last its utmost goal attained.
I speak not of mine Order and my House,
Here founded by my hands and filled with saints--
A white society of snowy souls,
Swayed by my voice, by mine example led;
For this is but the natural harvest reaped
From labors such as mine when blessed by God.
Though I rejoice to think my spirit still
Will work my purposes, through worthy hands,
After my bones are shriveled into dust,
Yet have I gleaned a finer, sweeter fruit
Of holy satisfaction, sure and real,
Though subtler than the tissue of the air--
The power completely to detach the soul
From her companion through this life, the flesh;
So that in blessed privacy of peace,
Communing with high angels, she can hold,
Serenely rapt, her solitary course.
Ye know, O saints of heaven, what I have borne
Of discipline and scourge; the twisted lash
Of knotted rope that striped my shrinking limbs;
Vigils and fasts protracted, till my flesh
Wasted and crumbled from mine aching bones,
And the last skin, one woof of pain and sores,
Thereto like yellow parchment loosely clung;
Exposure to the fever and the frost,
When 'mongst the hollows of the hills I lurked
From persecution of misguided folk,
Accustoming my spirit to ignore
The burden of the cross, while picturing
The bliss of disembodied souls, the grace
Of holiness, the lives of sainted men,
And entertaining all exalted thoughts,
That nowise touched the trouble of the hour,
Until the grief and pain seemed far less real
Than the creations of my brain inspired.
The vision, the beatitude, were true:
The agony was but an evil dream.
I speak not now as one who hath not learned
The purport of those lightly-bandied words,
Evil and Fate, but rather one who knows
The thunders of the terrors of the world.
No mortal chance or change, no earthly shock,
Can move or reach my soul, securely throned
On heights of contemplation and calm prayer,
Happy, serene, no less with actual joy
Of present peace than faith in joys to come.
This soft, sweet, yellow evening, how the trees
Stand crisp against the clear, bright-colored sky!
How the white mountain-tops distinctly shine,
Taking and giving radiance, and the slopes
Are purpled with rich floods of peach-hued light!
Thank God, my filmy, old dislustred eyes
Find the same sense of exquisite delight,
My heart vibrates to the same touch of joy
In scenes like this, as when my pulse danced high,
And youth coursed through my veins! This the one link
That binds the wan old man that now I am
To the wild lad who followed up the hounds
Among Ravenna's pine-woods by the sea.
For there how oft would I lose all delight
In the pursuit, the triumph or the game,
To stray alone among the shadowy glades,
And gaze, as one who is not satisfied
With gazing, at the large, bright, breathing sea,
The forest glooms, and shifting gleams between
The fine dark fringes of the fadeless trees,
On gold-green turf, sweetbrier and wild pink rose!
How rich that buoyant air with changing scent
Of pungent pine, fresh flowers and salt cool seas!
And when all echoes of the chase had died,
Of horn and halloo, bells and baying hounds,
How mine ears drank the ripple of the tide
On that fair shore, the chirp of unseen birds,
The rustling of the tangled undergrowth,
And the deep lyric murmur of the pines,
When through their high tops swept the sudden breeze!
There was my world, there would my heart dilate,
And my aspiring soul dissolve in prayer
Unto that Spirit of Love whose energies
Were active round me, yet whose presence, sphered
In the unsearchable, unbodied air,
Made itself felt, but reigned invisible.
This ere the day that from my past divides
My present, and that made me what I am.
Still can I see the hot, bright sky, the sea
illimitably sparkling, as they showed
That morning. Though I deemed I took no note
Of heaven or earth or waters, yet my mind
Retains to-day the vivid portraiture
Of every line and feature of the scene.
Light-hearted 'midst the dewy lanes I fared
Unto the sea, whose jocund gleam I caught
Between the slim boles, when I heard the clink
Of naked weapons, then a sudden thrust
Sickening to hear, and then a stifled groan;
And pressing forward I beheld the sight
That seared itself for ever on my brain--
My kinsman, Ser Ranieri, on the turf,
Fallen upon his side, his bright young head
Among the pine-spurs, and his cheek pressed close
Unto the moist, chill sod: his fingers clutched
A handful of loose weeds and grass and earth,
Uprooted in his anguish as he fell,
And slowly from his heart the thick stream flowed,
Fouling the green, leaving the fair, sweet face
Ghastly, transparent, with blue, stony eyes
Staring in blankness on that other one
Who triumphed over him. With hot desire
Of instant vengeance I unsheathed my sword
To rush upon the slayer, when he turned
In his first terror of blood-guiltiness.
* * * * *
Within my heart a something snapped and brake.
What was it but the chord of rapturous joy
For ever stilled? I tottered and would fall,
Had I not leaned against the friendly pine;
For all realities of life, unmoored
From their firm anchorage, appeared to float
Like hollow phantoms past my dizzy brain.
The strange delusion wrought upon my soul
That this had been enacted ages since.
This very horror curdled at my heart,
This net of trees spread round, these iron heavens,
Were closing over me when I had stood,
Unnumbered cycles back, and fronted _him,_
My father; and he felt mine eyes as now,
Yet saw me not; and then, as now, that form,
The one thing real, lay stretched between us both.
The fancy passed, and I stood sane and strong
To grasp the truth. Then I remembered all--
A few fierce words between them yester eve
Concerning some poor plot of pasturage,
Soon silenced into courteous, frigid calm:
This was the end. I could not meet him now,
To curse him, to accuse him, or to save,
And draw him from the red entanglement
Coiled by his own hands round his ruined life.
God pardon me! My heart that moment held
No drop of pity toward this wretched soul;
And cowering down, as though his guilt were mine,
I fled amidst the savage silences
Of that grim wood, resolved to nurse alone
My boundless desolation, shame and grief.
There, in that thick-leaved twilight of high noon,
The quiet of the still, suspended air,
Once more my wandering thoughts were calmly ranged,
Shepherded by my will. I wept, I prayed
A solemn prayer, conceived in agony,
Blessed with response instant, miraculous;
For in that hour my spirit was at one
With Him who knows and satisfies her needs.
The supplication and the blessing sprang
From the same source, inspired divinely both.
I prayed for light, self-knowledge, guidance, truth,
And these like heavenly manna were rained down
To feed my hungered soul. His guilt _was_ mine.
What angel had been sent to stay mine arm
Until the fateful moment passed away
That would have ushered an eternity
Of withering remorse? I found the germs
In mine own heart of every human sin,
That waited but occasion's tempting breath
To overgrow with poisoned bloom my life.
What God thus far had saved me from myself?
Here was the lofty truth revealed, that each
Must feel himself in all, must know where'er
The great soul acts or suffers or enjoys,
His proper soul in kinship there is bound.
Then my life-purpose dawned upon my mind,
Encouraging as morning. As I lay,
Crushed by the weight of universal love,
Which mine own thoughts had heaped upon myself,
I heard the clear chime of a slow, sweet bell.
I knew it--whence it came and what it sang.
From the gray convent nigh the wood it pealed,
And called the monks to prayer. Vigil and prayer,
Clean lives, white days of strict austerity:
Such were the offerings of these holy saints.
How far might such not tend to expiate
A riotous world's indulgence? Here my life,
Doubly austere and doubly sanctified,
Might even for that other one atone,
So bound to mine, till both should be forgiven.
They sheltered me, not questioning the need
That led me to their cloistered solitude.
How rich, how freighted with pure influence,
With dear security of perfect peace,
Was the first day I passed within those walls!
The holy habit of perpetual prayer,
The gentle greetings, the rare temperate speech,
The chastening discipline, the atmosphere
Of settled and profound tranquillity,
Were even as living waters unto one
Who perisheth of thirst. Was this the world
That yesterday seemed one huge battle-field
For brutish passions? Could the soul of man
Withdraw so easily, and erect apart
Her own fair temple for her own high ends?
But this serene contentment slowly waned
As I discerned the broad disparity
Betwixt the form and spirit of the laws
That bound the order in strait brotherhood.
Yet when I sought to gain a larger love,
More rigid discipline, severer truth,
And more complete surrender of the soul
Unto her God, this was to my reproach,
And scoffs and gibes beset me on all sides.
In mine own cell I mortified my flesh,
I held aloof from all my brethren's feasts
To wrestle with my viewless enemies,
Till they should leave their blessing on my head;
For nightly was I haunted by that face,
White, bloodless, as I saw it 'midst the ferns,
Now staring out of darkness, and it held
Mine eyes from slumber and my brain from rest
And drove me from my straw to weep and pray.
Rebellious thoughts such subtle torture wrought
Upon my spirit that I lay day-long
In dumb despair, until the blessed hope
Of mercy dawned again upon my soul,
As gradual as the slow gold moon that mounts
The airy steps of heaven. My faith arose
With sure perception that disaster, wrong,
And every shadow of man's destiny
Are merely circumstance, and cannot touch
The soul's fine essence: they exist or die
Only as she affirms them or denies.
This faith sustains me even to the end:
It floods my heart with peace as surely now
As on that day the friars drove me forth,
Urging that my asceticism, too harsh,
Endured through pride, would bring into reproach
Their customs and their order. Then began
My exile in the mountains, where I bode
A hunted man. The elements conspired
Against me, and I was the seasons' sport,
Drenched, parched, and scorched and frozen alternately,
Burned with shrewd frosts, prostrated by fierce heats,
Shivering 'neath chilling dews and gusty rains,
And buffeted by all the winds of heaven.
Yet was this period my time of joy:
My daily thoughts perpetual converse held
With angels ministrant; mine ears were charmed
With sweet accordance of celestial sounds,
Song, harp and choir, clear ringing through the air.
And visions were revealed unto mine eyes
By night and day of Heaven's very courts,
In shadowless, undimmed magnificence.
I gave God thanks, not that He sheltered me,
And fed me as He feeds the fowls of air--
For had I perished, this too had been well--
But for the revelation of His truth,
The glory, the beatitude vouchsafed
To exalt, to heal, to quicken, to inspire;
So that the pinched, lean excommunicate
Was crowned with joy more solid, more secure,
Than all the comfort of the vales could bring.
Then the good Lord touched certain fervid hearts,
Aspiring toward His love, to come to me,
Timid and few at first; but as they heard
From mine own lips the precious oracles,
That soothed the trouble of their souls, appeased
Their spiritual hunger, and disclosed
All of the God within them to themselves,
They flocked about me, and they hailed me saint,
And sware to follow and to serve the good
Which my word published and my life declared.
Thus the lone hermit of the mountain-top
Descended leader of a band of saints,
And midway 'twixt the summit and the vale
I perched my convent. Yet I bated not
One whit of strict restraint and abstinence.
And they who love me and who serve the truth
Have learned to suffer with me, and have won
The supreme joy that is not of the flesh,
Foretasting the delights of Paradise.
This faith, to them imparted, will endure
After my tongue hath ceased to utter it,
And the great peace hath settled on my soul.
A PRINCESS OF THULE.
BY WILLIAM BLACK, AUTHOR OF "THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF A
"O TERQUE QUATERQUE BEATE!"
Consider what a task this unhappy man Ingram had voluntarily
undertaken! Here were two young people presumably in love. One of them
was laid under suspicion by several previous love-affairs, though none
of these, doubtless, had been so serious as the present. The other
scarcely knew her own mind, or perhaps was afraid to question herself
too closely, lest all the conflict between duty and inclination, with
its fears and anxieties and troubles, should be too suddenly revealed.
Moreover, this girl was the only daughter of a solitary and irascible
old gentleman living in a remote island; and Ingram had not only
undertaken that the love-affairs of the young folks should come all
right--thus assuming a responsibility which might have appalled the
bravest--but was also expected to inform the King of Borva that his
daughter was about to be taken away from him.
Of course, if Sheila had been a properly brought-up young lady,
nothing of this sort would have been necessary. We all know what the
properly brought-up young lady does under such circumstances. She goes
straight to her papa and mamma and says, "My dear papa and mamma, I
have been taught by my various instructors that I ought to have no
secrets from my dear parents; and I therefore hasten to lay aside any
little shyness or modesty or doubt of my own wishes I might feel, for
the purpose of explaining to you the extent to which I have become a
victim to the tender passion, and of soliciting your advice. I also
place before you these letters I have received from the gentleman
in question: probably they were sent in confidence to me, but I must
banish any scruples that do not coincide with my duty to you. I may
say that I respect, and even admire, Mr. So-and-So; and I should be
unworthy of the care bestowed upon my education by my dear parents
if I were altogether insensible to the advantages of his worldly
position. But beyond this point I am at a loss to define my
sentiments; and so I ask you, my dear papa and mamma, for permission
to study the question for some little time longer, when I may be able
to furnish you with a more accurate report of my feelings. At the same
time, if the interest I have in this young man is likely to conflict
with the duty I owe to my dear parents, I ask to be informed of the
fact; and I shall then teach myself to guard against the approach of
that insidious passion which might make me indifferent to the higher
calls and interests of life." Happy the man who marries such a woman!
No agonizing quarrels and delirious reconciliations, no piteous
entreaties and fits of remorse and impetuous self-sacrifices await
him, but a beautiful, methodical, placid life, as calm and accurate
and steadily progressive as the multiplication table. His household
will be a miracle of perfect arrangement. The relations between the
members of it will be as strictly defined as the pattern of the paper
on the walls. And how can a quarrel arise when a dissecter of the
emotions is close at hand to say where the divergence of opinion or
interest began? and how can a fit of jealousy be provoked in the case
of a person who will split up her affections into fifteen parts, give
ten-fifteenths to her children, three-fifteenths to her parents, and
the remainder to her husband? Should there be any dismal fractions
going about, friends and acquaintances may come in for them.
But how was Sheila to go to her father and explain to him what she
could not explain to herself? She had never dreamed of marriage. She
had never thought of having to leave Borva and her father's house.
But she had some vague feeling that in the future lay many terrible
possibilities that she did not as yet dare to look at--until, at
least, she was more satisfied as to the present. And how could she go
to her father with such a chaos of unformed wishes and fears to place
before him? That such a duty should have devolved upon Ingram was
certainly odd enough, but it was not her doing. His knowledge of the
position of these young people was not derived from her. But, having
got it, he had himself asked her to leave the whole affair in his
hands, with that kindness and generosity which had more than once
filled her heart with an unspeakable gratitude toward him.
"Well, you _are_ a good fellow!" said Lavender to him when he heard of
"Bah!" said the other with a shrug of his shoulders. "I mean to amuse
myself. I shall move you about like pieces on a chess-board, and have
a pretty game with you. How to checkmate the king with a knight and a
princess, in any number of moves you like--that is the problem; and my
princess has a strong power over the king where she is just now."
"It's an uncommonly awkward business, you know, Ingram," said Lavender
"Well, it is. Old Mackenzie is a tough old fellow to deal with, and
you'll do no good by making a fight of it. Wait! Difficulties don't
look so formidable when you take them one by one as they turn up. If
you really love the girl, and mean to take your chance of getting
her, and if she cares enough for you to sacrifice a good deal for your
sake, there is nothing to fear."
"I can answer for myself, any way," said Lavender in a tone of voice
that Ingram rather liked: the young man did not always speak with the
same quietness, thoughtfulness and modesty.
And how naturally and easily it came about, after all! They were
back again at Borva. They had driven round and about Lewis, and had
finished up with Stornoway; and, now that they had got back to the
island in Loch Roag, the quaint little drawing-room had even to
Lavender a homely and friendly look. The big stuffed fishes and the
sponge shells were old acquaintances; and he went to hunt up Sheila's
music just as if he had known that dusky corner for years.
"Yes, yes," called Mackenzie, "it iss the English songs we will try
He had a notion that he was himself rather a good hand at a part
song--just as Sheila had innocently taught him to believe that he was
a brilliant whist-player when he had mastered the art of returning his
partner's lead--but fortunately at this moment he was engaged with
a long pipe and a big tumbler of hot whisky and water. Ingram was
similarly employed, lying back in a cane-bottomed easy-chair, and
placidly watching the smoke ascending to the roof. Sometimes he cast
an eye to the young folks at the other end of the room. They formed a
pretty sight, he thought. Lavender was a good-looking fellow enough,
and there was something pleasing in the quiet and assiduous fashion in
which he waited upon Sheila, and in the almost timid way in which he
spoke to her. Sheila herself sat at the piano, clad all in slate-gray
silk, with a narrow band of scarlet velvet round her neck; and it was
only by a chance turning of the head that Ingram caught the tender
and handsome profile, broken only by the outward sweep of the long
Love in thine eyes for ever plays,
Sheila sang, with her father keeping time by patting his forefinger on
He in thy snowy bosom strays,
sang Lavender; and then the two voices joined together:
He makes thy rosy lips his care,
And walks the mazes of thy hair.
Or were there not three voices? Surely, from the back part of the
room, the musicians could hear a wandering bass come in from time
to time, especially at such portions as "Ah, he never--ah, he never
touched thy heart!" which old Mackenzie considered very touching. But
there was something quaint and friendly and pleasant in the pathos of
those English songs, which made them far more acceptable to him than
Sheila's wild and melancholy legends of the sea. He sang "Ah, he
never, never touched thy heart!" with an outward expression of grief,
but with much inward satisfaction. Was it the quaint phraseology of
the old duets that awoke in him some faint ambition after histrionic
effect? At all events, Sheila proceeded to another of his favorites,
"All's Well," and here, amid the brisk music, the old man had an
excellent opportunity of striking in at random--
The careful watch patrols the deck
To guard the ship from foes or wreck.
These two lines he had absolutely mastered, and always sang them,
whatever might be the key he happened to light on, with great vigor.
He soon went the length of improvising a part for himself in the
closing passages, and laid down his pipe altogether as he sang--
What cheer? Brother, quickly tell!
Above! Below! Good-night! All, all's well!
From that point, however, Sheila and her companion wandered away into
fields of melody whither the King of Borva could not follow them; so
he was content to resume his pipe and listen placidly to the pretty
airs. He caught but bits and fragments of phrases and sentiments, but
they evidently were comfortable, merry, good-natured songs for young
folks to sing. There was a good deal of love-making, and rosy morns
appearing, and merry zephyrs, and such odd things, which, sung briskly
and gladly by two young and fresh voices, rather drew the hearts of
contemplative listeners to the musicians.
"They sing very well whatever," said Mackenzie with a critical air
to Ingram when the young people were so busily engaged with their own
affairs as apparently to forget the presence of the others. "Oh yes,
they sing very well whatever; and what should the young folks sing
about but making love and courting, and all that?"
"Natural enough," said Ingram, looking rather wistfully at the two at
the other end of the room. "I suppose Sheila will have a sweetheart
"Oh yes, Sheila will hef a sweetheart some day," said her father
good-humoredly. "Sheila is a good-looking girl: she will hef a
sweetheart some day."
"She will be marrying too, I suppose," said Ingram cautiously.
"Oh yes, she will marry--Sheila will marry: what will be the life of a
young girl if she does not marry?"
At this moment, as Ingram afterward described it, a sort of "flash
of inspiration" darted in upon him, and he resolved there and then to
brave the wrath of the old king, and place all the conspiracy
before him, if only the music kept loud enough to prevent his being
"It will be hard on you to part with Sheila when she marries," said
Ingram, scarcely daring to look up.
"Oh, ay, it will be that," said Mackenzie cheerfully enough. "But it
iss every one will hef to do that, and no great harm comes of it. Oh
no, it will not be much whatever; and Sheila, she will be very glad in
a little while after, and it will be enough for me to see that she is
ferry contented and happy. The young folk must marry, you will see;
and what is the use of marrying if it is not when they are young?
But Sheila, she will think of none of these things. It was young Mr.
MacIntyre of Sutherland--you hef seen him last year in Stornoway: he
hass three thousand acres of a deer forest in Sutherland--and he will
be ferry glad to marry my Sheila. But I will say to him, 'It is not
for me to say yes or no to you, Mr. MacIntyre: it is Sheila herself
will tell you that.' But he wass afraid to speak to her; and Sheila
herself will know nothing of why he came twice to Borva the last
"It is very good of you to leave Sheila quite unbiased in her choice,"
said Ingram: "many fathers would have been sorely tempted by that deer
Old Mackenzie laughed a loud laugh of derision, that fortunately
did not stop Lavender's execution of "I would that my love would
"What the teffle," said Mackenzie, "hef I to want a deer forest for my
Sheila? Sheila is no fisherman's lass. She has plenty for herself,
and she will marry just the young man she wants to marry, and no other
one: that is what she will do, by Kott!"
All this was most hopeful. If Mackenzie had himself been advocating
Lavender's suit, could he have said more? But notwithstanding all
these frank and generous promises, dealing with a future which the old
man considered as indefinitely remote, Ingram was still afraid of the
announcement he was about to make.
"Sheila is fortunately situated," he said, "in having a father who
thinks only of her happiness. But I suppose she has never yet shown a
preference for any one?"
"Not for any one but yourself," said her father with a laugh.
And Ingram laughed too, but in an embarrassed way, and his sallow
face grew darker with a blush. Was there not something painful in
the unintentional implication that of course Ingram could not be
considered a possible lover of Sheila's, and that the girl herself was
so well aware of it that she could openly testify to her regard for
"And it would be a good thing for Sheila," continued her father, more
gravely, "if there wass any young man about the Lewis that she would
tek a liking to; for it will be some day I can no more look after her,
and it would be bad for her to be left alone all by herself in the
"And you don't think you see before you now some one who might take
on him the charge of Sheila's future?" said Ingram, looking toward
"The English gentleman?" said Mackenzie with a smile. "No, that any
way is not possible."
"I fancy it is more than possible," said Ingram, resolved to go
straight at it. "I know for a fact that he would like to marry your
daughter, and I think that Sheila, without knowing it herself almost,
is well inclined toward him."
The old man started up from his chair: "Eh? what! my Sheila?"
"Yes, papa," said the girl, turning round at once.
She caught sight of a strange look on his face, and in an instant was
by his side: "Papa, what is the matter with you?"
"Nothing, Sheila, nothing," he said impatiently. "I am a little tired
of the music, that is all. But go on with the music. Go back to the
piano, Sheila, and go on with the music, and Mr. Ingram and me, we
will go outside for a little while."
Mackenzie walked out of the room, and said aloud in the hall, "Ay, are
you coming, Mr. Ingram? It iss a fine night this night, and the wind
is in a very good way for the weather."
And then, as he went out to the front, he hummed aloud, so that Sheila
Who goes there? Stranger, quickly tell!
A friend! The word! Good-night! All's well!
All's well! Good-night! All's well!
Ingram followed the old man outside, with a somewhat guilty conscience
suggesting odd things to him. Would it not be possible now to shut
one's ears for the next half hour? Angry words were only little
perturbations in the air. If you shut your ears till they were all
over, what harm could be done? All the big facts of life would remain
the same. The sea, the sky, the hills, the human beings around you,
even your desire of sleep for the night and your wholesome longing for
breakfast in the morning, would all remain, and the angry words would
have passed away. But perhaps it was a proper punishment that he
should now go out and bear all the wrath of this fierce old gentleman,
whose daughter he had conspired to carry off. Mackenzie was walking up
and down the path outside in the cool and silent night. There was
not much moon now, but a clear and lambent twilight showed all the
familiar features of Loch Roag and the southern hills, and down there
in the bay you could vaguely make out the Maighdean-mhara rocking in
the tiny waves that washed in on the white shore. Ingram had never
looked on this pretty picture with a less feeling of delight.
"Well, you see, Mr. Mackenzie," he was beginning, "you must make this
excuse for him--"
But Mackenzie put aside Lavender at once. It was all about Sheila
that he wanted to know. There was no anger in his words; only a great
anxiety, and sometimes an extraordinary and pathetic effort to take a
philosophical view of the situation. What had Sheila said? Was Sheila
deeply interested in the young man? Would it please Sheila if he was
to go in-doors and give at once his free consent to her marrying this
"Oh, you must not think," said Mackenzie, with a certain loftiness
of air even amidst his great perturbation and anxiety--"you must not
think I hef not foreseen all this. It wass some day or other Sheila
will be sure to marry; and although I did not expect--no, I did not
expect _that_--that she would marry a stranger and an Englishman, if
it will please her that is enough. You cannot tell a young lass the
one she should marry: it iss all a chance the one she likes, and if
she does not marry him it is better she will not marry at all. Oh yes,
I know that ferry well. And I hef known there wass a time coming when
I would give away my Sheila to some young man; and there iss no use
complaining of it. But you hef not told me much about this young man,
or I hef forgotten: it is the same thing whatever. He has not much
money, you said--he is waiting for some money. Well, this is what I
will do: I will give him all my money if he will come and live in the
All the philosophy he had been mustering up fell away from that last
sentence. It was like the cry of a drowning man who sees the last
life-boat set out for shore, leaving him to his fate. And Ingram had
not a word to say in reply to that piteous entreaty.
"I do not ask him to stop in Borva: no, it iss a small place for one
that hass lived in a town. But the Lewis, that is quite different; and
there iss ferry good houses in Stornoway."
"But surely, sir," said Ingram, "you need not consider all this just
yet. I am sure neither of them has thought of any such thing."
"No," said Mackenzie, recovering himself, "perhaps not. But we hef our
duties to look at the future of young folks. And you will say that Mr.
Lavender hass only expectations of money?"
"Well, the expectation is almost a certainty. His aunt, I have told
you, is a very rich old lady, who has no other near relations, and she
is exceedingly fond of him, and would do anything for him. I am sure
the allowance he has now is greatly in excess of what she spends on
"But they might quarrel, you know--they might quarrel. You hef always
to look to the future: they might quarrel, and what will he do then?"
"Why, you don't suppose he couldn't support himself if the worst were
to come to the worst? He is an amazingly clever fellow--"
"Ay, that is very good," said Mackenzie in a cautious sort of way,
"but has he ever made any money?"
"Oh, I fancy not--nothing to speak of. He has sold some pictures, but
I think he has given more away."
"Then it iss not easy, tek my word for it, Mr. Ingram, to begin a new
trade if you are twenty-five years of age; and the people who will tek
your pictures for nothing, will they pay for them if you wanted the
It was obviously the old man's eager wish to prove to himself that,
somehow or other, Lavender might come to have no money, and be made
dependent on his father-in-law. So far, indeed, from sharing the
sentiments ordinarily attributed to that important relative, he would
have welcomed with a heartfelt joy the information that the man
who, as he expected, was about to marry his daughter was absolutely
penniless. Not even all the attractions of that deer forest in
Sutherlandshire--particularly fascinating as they must have been to a
man of his education and surroundings--had been able to lead the old
King of Borva even into hinting to his daughter that the owner of that
property would like to marry her. Sheila was to choose for herself.
She was not like a fisherman's lass, bound to consider ways and means.
And now that she had chosen, or at least indicated the possibility of
her doing so, her father's chief desire was that his future son-in-law
should come and take and enjoy his money, so only that Sheila might
not be carried away from him for ever.
"Well, I will see about it," said Mackenzie with an affectation of
cheerful and practical shrewdness. "Oh yes, I will see about it when
Sheila has made up her mind. He is a very good young man, whatever--"
"He is the best-hearted fellow I know," said Ingram warmly. "I don't
think Sheila has much to fear if she marries him. If you had known him
as long as I have, you would know how considerate he is to everybody
about him, how generous he is, how good-natured and cheerful, and so
forth: in short, he is a thorough good fellow, that's what I have to
say about him."
"It iss well for him he will hef such a champion," said Mackenzie with
a smile: "there is not many Sheila will pay attention to as she does
They went in-doors again, Ingram scarcely knowing how he had got so
easily through the ordeal, but very glad it was over.
Sheila was still at the piano, and on their entering she said, "Papa,
here is a song you must learn to sing with me."
"And what iss it, Sheila?" he said, going over to her.
"'Time has not thinned my flowing hair.'"
He put his hand on her head and said, "I hope it will be a long time
before he will thin your hair, Sheila."
The girl looked up surprised. Scotch folks are, as a rule, somewhat
reticent in their display of affection, and it was not often that her
father talked to her in that way. What was there in his face that
made her glance instinctively toward Ingram. Somehow or other her hand
sought her father's hand, and she rose and went away from the piano,
with her head bent down and tears beginning to tell in her eyes.
"Yes, that is a capital song," said Ingram loudly. Sing 'The
Arethusa,' Lavender--'Said the saucy Arethusa.'"
Lavender, knowing what had taken place, and not daring to follow with
his eyes Sheila and her father, who had gone to the other end of the
room, sang the song. Never was a gallant and devil-may-care sea-song
sung so hopelessly without spirit. But the piano made a noise and the
verses took up time. When he had finished he almost feared to
turn round, and yet there was nothing dreadful in the picture that
presented itself. Sheila was sitting on her father's knee, with her
head buried in his bosom, while he was patting her head and talking
in a low voice to her. The King of Borva did not look particularly
"Yes, it iss a teffle of a good song," he said suddenly. "Now get up,
Sheila, and go and tell Mairi we will have a bit of bread and cheese
before going to bed. And there will be a little hot water wanted in
the other room, for this room it iss too full of the smoke."
Sheila, as she went out of the room, had her head cast down and
perhaps an extra tinge of color in her young and pretty face. But
surely, Lavender thought to himself as he watched her anxiously, she
did not look grieved. As for her father, what should he do now? Turn
suddenly round and beg Mackenzie's pardon, and throw himself on
his generosity? When he did, with much inward trembling, venture to
approach the old man, he found no such explanation possible. The
King of Borva was in one of his grandest moods--dignified, courteous,
cautious, and yet inclined to treat everybody and everything with a
sort of lofty good-humor. He spoke to Lavender in the most friendly
way, but it was about the singular and startling fact that modern
research had proved many of the Roman legends to be utterly
untrustworthy. Mr. Mackenzie observed that the man was wanting in
proper courage who feared to accept the results of such inquiries. It
was better that we should know the truth, and then the kings who had
really made Rome great might emerge from the fog of tradition in their
proper shape. There was something quite sympathetic in the way he
talked of those ill-treated sovereigns, whom the vulgar mind had
clothed in mist.
Lavender was sorely beset by the rival claims of Rome and Borva upon
his attention. He was inwardly inclined to curse Numa Pompilius--which
would have been ineffectual--when he found that personage interfering
with a wild effort to discover why Mackenzie should treat him in this
way. And then it occurred to him that, as he had never said a word to
Mackenzie about this affair, it was too much to expect that Sheila's
father should himself open the subject. On the contrary, Mackenzie was
bent on extending a grave courtesy to his guest, so that the latter
should not feel ill at ease until it suited himself to make any
explanations he might choose. It was not Mackenzie's business to ask
this young man if he wanted to marry Sheila. No. The king's daughter,
if she were to be won at all, was to be won by a suitor, and it was
not for her father to be in a hurry about it. So Lavender got back
into the region of early Roman history, and tried to recall what he
had learned in Livy, and quite coincided with everything that Niebuhr
had said or proved, and with everything that Mackenzie thought Niebuhr
had said or proved. He was only too glad, indeed, to find himself
talking to Sheila's father in this friendly fashion.
Then Sheila came in and told them that supper was laid in the
adjoining room. At that modest meal a great good-humor prevailed.
Sometimes, it is true, it occurred to Ingram that Sheila occasionally
cast an anxious glance to her father, as if she were trying to
discover whether he was really satisfied, or whether he were not
merely pretending satisfaction to please her; but for the rest the
party was a most friendly and merry one. Lavender, naturally
enough, was in the highest of spirits, and nothing could exceed the
lighthearted endeavors he made to amuse and interest and cheer his
companions. Sheila, indeed, sat up later than usual, even although
pipes were lit again, and the slate-gray silk likely to bear witness
to the fact in the morning. How comfortable and homely was this sort
of life in the remote stone building overlooking the sea! He began to
think that he could live always in Borva if only Sheila were with him
as his companion.
Was it an actual fact, then, he asked himself next morning, that
he stood confessed to the small world of Borva as Sheila's accepted
lover? Not a word on the subject had passed between Mackenzie and
himself, and yet he found himself assuming the position of a younger
relative, and rather expecting advice from the old man. He began to
take a great interest, too, in the local administration of the island:
he examined the window-fastenings of Mackenzie's house and saw that
they would be useful in the winter, and expressed to Sheila's father
his confidential opinion that the girl should not be allowed to go out
in the Maighdean-mhara without Duncan.
"She will know as much about boats as Duncan himself," said her father
with a smile. "But Sheila will not go out when the rough weather
"Of course you keep her in-doors then," said the younger man, already
assuming some little charge over Sheila's comfort.
The father laughed aloud at this simplicity on the part of the
Englishman: "If we wass to keep in-doors in the bad weather, it would
be all the winter we would be in-doors! There iss no day at all Sheila
will not be out some time or other; and she is never so well as in the
hard weather, when she will be out always in the snow and the frost,
and hef plenty of exercise and amusement."
"She is not often ailing, I suppose?" said Lavender.
"She is as strong as a young pony, that is what Sheila is," said her
father proudly. "And there is no one in the island will run so fast,
or walk so long without tiring, or carry things from the shore as she
But here he suddenly checked himself. "That is," he said with some
little expression of annoyance, "I wass saying Sheila could do that if
it wass any use; but she will not do such things, like a fisherman's
lass that hass to keep in the work."
"Oh, of course not," said Lavender hastily. "But still, you know, it
is pleasant to know she is so strong and well."
And at this moment Sheila herself appeared, accompanied by her great
deerhound, and testifying by the bright color in her face to the
assurances of her health her father had been giving. She had just come
up and over the hill from Borvabost, while as yet breakfast had not
been served. Somehow or other, Lavender fancied she never looked so
bright and bold and handsome as in the early morning, with the fresh
sea-air tingling the color in her cheeks, and the sunlight shining in
the clear eyes or giving from time to time a glimpse of her perfect
teeth. But this morning she did not seem quite so frankly merry as
usual. She patted the deerhound's head, and rather kept her eyes away
from her father and his companion. And then she took Bras away to give
him his breakfast, just as Ingram appeared to bid her good-morning and
ask her what she meant by being about so early.
How anxiously Lavender now began to calculate on the remaining days of
their stay in Borva! They seemed so few. He got up at preposterously
early hours to make each day as long as possible, but it slipped away
with a fatal speed; and already he began to think of Stornoway and the
Clansman and his bidding good-bye to Sheila. He had said no more to
her of any pledge as regarded the future. He was content to see that
she was pleased to be with him; and happy indeed were their rambles
about the island, their excursions in Sheila's boat, their visits to
the White Water in search of salmon. Nor had he yet spoken to Sheila's
father. He knew that Mackenzie knew, and both seemed to take it for
granted that no good could come of a formal explanation until Sheila
herself should make her wishes known. That, indeed, was the only
aspect of the case that apparently presented itself to the old King of
Borva. He forgot altogether those precautions and investigations which
are supposed to occupy the mind of a future father-in-law, and only
sought to see how Sheila was affected toward the young man who was
soon about to leave the island. When he saw her pleased to be walking
with Lavender and talking with him of an evening, he was pleased, and
would rather have a cold dinner than break in upon them to hurry
them home. When he saw her disappointed because Lavender had been
unfortunate in his salmon-fishing, he was ready to swear at Duncan
for not having had the fish in a better temper. And the most of his
conversation with Ingram consisted of an endeavor to convince himself
that, after all, what had happened was for the best, and that Sheila
seemed to be happy.