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Robert Falconer by George MacDonald

Part 6 out of 13

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But not yet did Ericson seem inclined to go home. He took the lead,
and they emerged upon the quay.

There were not many vessels. One of them was the Antwerp tub,
already known to Robert. He recognized her even in the dull light
of the quay lamps. Her captain being a prudent and well-to-do
Dutchman, never slept on shore; he preferred saving his money; and
therefore, as the friends passed, Robert caught sight of him walking
his own deck and smoking a long clay pipe before turning in.

'A fine nicht, capt'n,' said Robert.

'It does rain,' returned the captain. 'Will you come on board and
have one schnapps before you turn in?'

'I hae a frien' wi' me here,' said Robert, feeling his way.

'Let him come and be welcomed.'

Ericson making no objection, they went on board, and down into the
neat little cabin, which was all the roomier for the straightness of
the vessel's quarter. The captain got out a square,
coffin-shouldered bottle, and having respect to the condition of
their garments, neither of the young men refused his hospitality,
though Robert did feel a little compunction at the thought of the
horror it would have caused his grandmother. Then the Dutchman got
out his violin and asked Robert to play a Scotch air. But in the
middle of it his eyes fell on Ericson, and he stopped at once.
Ericson was sitting on a locker, leaning back against the side of
the vessel: his eyes were open and fixed, and he seemed quite
unconscious of what was passing. Robert fancied at first that the
hollands he had taken had gone to his head, but he saw at the same
moment, from his glass, that he had scarcely tasted the spirit. In
great alarm they tried to rouse him, and at length succeeded. He
closed his eyes, opened them again, rose up, and was going away.

'What's the maitter wi' ye, Mr. Ericson?' said Robert, in distress.

'Nothing, nothing,' answered Ericson, in a strange voice. 'I fell
asleep, I believe. It was very bad manners, captain. I beg your
pardon. I believe I am overtired.'

The Dutchman was as kind as possible, and begged Ericson to stay the
night and occupy his berth. But he insisted on going home, although
he was clearly unfit for such a walk. They bade the skipper
good-night, went on shore, and set out, Ericson leaning rather
heavily upon Robert's arm. Robert led him up Marischal Street.

The steep ascent was too much for Ericson. He stood still upon the
bridge and leaned over the wall of it. Robert stood beside, almost
in despair about getting him home.

'Have patience with me, Robert,' said Ericson, in his natural voice.
'I shall be better presently. I don't know what's come to me. If I
had been a Celt now, I should have said I had a touch of the second
sight. But I am, as far as I know, pure Northman.'

'What did you see?' asked Robert, with a strange feeling that miles
of the spirit world, if one may be allowed such a contradiction in
words, lay between him and his friend.

Ericson returned no answer. Robert feared he was going to have a
relapse; but in a moment more he lifted himself up and bent again to
the brae.

They got on pretty well till they were about the middle of the

'I can't,' said Ericson feebly, and half leaned, half fell against
the wall of a house.

'Come into this shop,' said Robert. 'I ken the man. He'll lat ye
sit doon.'

He managed to get him in. He was as pale as death. The bookseller
got a chair, and he sank into it. Robert was almost at his wit's
end. There was no such thing as a cab in Aberdeen for years and
years after the date of my story. He was holding a glass of water
to Ericson's lips,--when he heard his name, in a low earnest
whisper, from the door. There, round the door-cheek, peered the
white face and red head of Shargar.

'Robert! Robert!' said Shargar.

'I hear ye,' returned Robert coolly: he was too anxious to be
surprised at anything. 'Haud yer tongue. I'll come to ye in a

Ericson recovered a little, refused the whisky offered by the
bookseller, rose, and staggered out.

'If I were only home!' he said. 'But where is home?'

'We'll try to mak ane,' returned Robert. 'Tak a haud o' me. Lay yer
weicht upo' me.--Gin it warna for yer len'th, I cud cairry ye weel
eneuch. Whaur's that Shargar?' he muttered to himself, looking up
and down the gloomy street.

But no Shargar was to be seen. Robert peered in vain into every
dark court they crept past, till at length he all but came to the
conclusion that Shargar was only 'fantastical.'

When they had reached the hollow, and were crossing then
canal-bridge by Mount Hooly, Ericson's strength again failed him,
and again he leaned upon the bridge. Nor had he leaned long before
Robert found that he had fainted. In desperation he began to hoist
the tall form upon his back, when he heard the quick step of a
runner behind him and the words--

'Gie 'im to me, Robert; gie 'im to me. I can carry 'im fine.'

'Haud awa' wi' ye,' returned Robert; and again Shargar fell behind.

For a few hundred yards he trudged along manfully; but his strength,
more from the nature of his burden than its weight, soon gave way.
He stood still to recover. The same moment Shargar was by his side

'Noo, Robert,' he said, pleadingly.

Robert yielded, and the burden was shifted to Shargar's back.

How they managed it they hardly knew themselves; but after many
changes they at last got Ericson home, and up to his own room. He
had revived several times, but gone off again. In one of his
faints, Robert undressed him and got him into bed. He had so little
to cover him, that Robert could not help crying with misery. He
himself was well provided, and would gladly have shared with
Ericson, but that was hopeless. He could, however, make him warm in
bed. Then leaving Shargar in charge, he sped back to the new town
to Dr. Anderson. The doctor had his carriage out at once, wrapped
Robert in a plaid and brought him home with him.

Ericson came to himself, and seeing Shargar by his bedside, tried to
sit up, asking feebly,

'Where am I?'

'In yer ain bed, Mr. Ericson,' answered Shargar.

'And who are you?' asked Ericson again, bewildered.

Shargar's pale face no doubt looked strange under his crown of red

'Ow! I'm naebody.'

'You must be somebody, or else my brain's in a bad state,' returned

'Na, na, I'm naebody. Naething ava (at all). Robert 'll be hame in
ae meenit.--I'm Robert's tyke (dog),' concluded Shargar, with a
sudden inspiration.

This answer seemed to satisfy Ericson, for he closed his eyes and
lay still; nor did he speak again till Robert arrived with the

Poor food, scanty clothing, undue exertion in travelling to and from
the university, hard mental effort against weakness, disquietude of
mind, all borne with an endurance unconscious of itself, had reduced
Eric Ericson to his present condition. Strength had given way at
last, and he was now lying in the low border wash of a dead sea of

The last of an ancient race of poor men, he had no relative but a
second cousin, and no means except the little he advanced him,
chiefly in kind, to be paid for when Eric had a profession. This
cousin was in the herring trade, and the chief assistance he gave
him was to send him by sea, from Wick to Aberdeen, a small barrel of
his fish every session. One herring, with two or three potatoes,
formed his dinner as long as the barrel lasted. But at Aberdeen or
elsewhere no one carried his head more erect than Eric Ericson--not
from pride, but from simplicity and inborn dignity; and there was
not a man during his curriculum more respected than he. An
excellent classical scholar--as scholarship went in those days--he
was almost the only man in the university who made his knowledge of
Latin serve towards an acquaintance with the Romance languages. He
had gained a small bursary, and gave lessons when he could.

But having no level channel for the outgoing of the waters of one of
the tenderest hearts that ever lived, those waters had sought to
break a passage upwards. Herein his experience corresponded in a
considerable degree to that of Robert; only Eric's more fastidious
and more instructed nature bred a thousand difficulties which he
would meet one by one, whereas Robert, less delicate and more
robust, would break through all the oppositions of theological
science falsely so called, and take the kingdom of heaven by force.
But indeed the ruins of the ever falling temple of theology had
accumulated far more heavily over Robert's well of life, than over
that of Ericson: the obstructions to his faith were those that
rolled from the disintegrating mountains of humanity, rather than
the rubbish heaped upon it by the careless masons who take the
quarry whence they hew the stones for the temple--built without
hands eternal in the heavens.

When Dr. Anderson entered, Ericson opened his eyes wide. The doctor
approached, and taking his hand began to feel his pulse. Then first
Ericson comprehended his visit.

'I can't,' he said, withdrawing his hand. 'I am not so ill as to
need a doctor.'

'My dear sir,' said Dr. Anderson, courteously, 'there will be no
occasion to put you to any pain.'

'Sir,' said Eric, 'I have no money.'

The doctor laughed.

'And I have more than I know how to make a good use of.'

'I would rather be left alone,' persisted Ericson, turning his face

'Now, my dear sir,' said the doctor, with gentle decision, 'that is
very wrong. With what face can you offer a kindness when your turn
comes, if you won't accept one yourself?'

Ericson held out his wrist. Dr. Anderson questioned, prescribed,
and, having given directions, went home, to call again in the

And now Robert was somewhat in the position of the old woman who
'had so many children she didn't know what to do.' Dr. Anderson
ordered nourishment for Ericson, and here was Shargar upon his hands
as well! Shargar and he could share, to be sure, and exist: but for

Not a word did Robert exchange with Shargar till he had gone to the
druggist's and got the medicine for Ericson, who, after taking it,
fell into a troubled sleep. Then, leaving the two doors open,
Robert joined Shargar in his own room. There he made up a good
fire, and they sat and dried themselves.

'Noo, Shargar,' said Robert at length, 'hoo cam ye here?'

His question was too like one of his grandmother's to be pleasant to

'Dinna speyk to me that gait, Robert, or I'll cut my throat' he

'Hoots! I maun ken a' aboot it,' insisted Robert, but with much
modified and partly convicted tone.

'Weel, I never said I wadna tell ye a' aboot it. The fac' 's
this--an' I'm no' up to the leein' as I used to be, Robert: I hae
tried it ower an' ower, but a lee comes rouch throw my thrapple
(windpipe) noo. Faith! I cud hae leed ance wi' onybody, barrin'
the de'il. I winna lee. I'm nae leein'. The fac's jist this: I
cudna bide ahin' ye ony langer.'

'But what, the muckle lang-tailed deevil! am I to do wi' ye?'
returned Robert, in real perplexity, though only pretended

'Gie me something to ate, an' I'll tell ye what to do wi' me,'
answered Shargar. 'I dinna care a scart (scratch) what it is.'

Robert rang the bell and ordered some porridge, and while it was
preparing, Shargar told his story--how having heard a rumour of
apprenticeship to a tailor, he had the same night dropped from the
gable window to the ground, and with three halfpence in his pocket
had wandered and begged his way to Aberdeen, arriving with one
halfpenny left.

'But what am I to do wi' ye?' said Robert once more, in as much
perplexity as ever.

'Bide till I hae tellt ye, as I said I wad,' answered Shargar.
'Dinna ye think I'm the haveless (careless and therefore helpless)
crater I used to be. I hae been in Aberdeen three days! Ay, an' I
hae seen you ilka day in yer reid goon, an' richt braw it is. Luik
ye here!'

He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out what amounted to two or
three shillings, chiefly in coppers, which he exposed with triumph
on the table.

'Whaur got ye a' that siller, man?' asked Robert.

'Here and there, I kenna whaur; but I hae gien the weicht o' 't for
't a' the same--rinnin' here an' rinnin' there, cairryin' boxes till
an' frae the smacks, an' doin' a'thing whether they bade me or no.
Yesterday mornin' I got thrippence by hingin' aboot the Royal afore
the coches startit. I luikit a' up and doon the street till I saw
somebody hine awa wi' a porkmanty. Till 'im I ran, an' he was an
auld man, an' maist at the last gasp wi' the weicht o' 't, an' gae
me 't to carry. An' wha duv ye think gae me a shillin' the verra
first nicht?--Wha but my brither Sandy?'

'Lord Rothie?'

'Ay, faith. I kent him weel eneuch, but little he kent me. There
he was upo' Black Geordie. He's turnin' auld noo.'

'Yer brither?'

'Na. He's young eneuch for ony mischeef; but Black Geordie. What on
earth gars him gang stravaguin' aboot upo' that deevil? I doobt
he's a kelpie, or a hell-horse, or something no canny o' that kin';
for faith! brither Sandy's no ower canny himsel', I'm thinkin'. But
Geordie--the aulder the waur set (inclined). An' sae I'm thinkin'
wi' his maister.'

'Did ye iver see yer father, Shargar?'

'Na. Nor I dinna want to see 'im. I'm upo' my mither's side. But
that's naething to the pint. A' that I want o' you 's to lat me
come hame at nicht, an' lie upo' the flure here. I sweir I'll lie
i' the street gin ye dinna lat me. I'll sleep as soun' 's Peter
MacInnes whan Maccleary's preachin'. An' I winna ate muckle--I hae
a dreidfu' pooer o' aitin'--an' a' 'at I gether I'll fess hame to
you, to du wi' 't as ye like.--Man, I cairriet a heap o' things the
day till the skipper o' that boat 'at ye gaed intil wi' Maister
Ericson the nicht. He's a fine chiel' that skipper!'

Robert was astonished at the change that had passed upon Shargar.
His departure had cast him upon his own resources, and allowed the
individuality repressed by every event of his history, even by his
worship of Robert, to begin to develop itself. Miserable for a few
weeks, he had revived in the fancy that to work hard at school would
give him some chance of rejoining Robert. Thence, too, he had
watched to please Mrs. Falconer, and had indeed begun to buy golden
opinions from all sorts of people. He had a hope in prospect. But
into the midst fell the whisper of the apprenticeship like a
thunderbolt out of a clear sky. He fled at once.

'Weel, ye can hae my bed the nicht,' said Robert, 'for I maun sit up
wi' Mr. Ericson.'

''Deed I'll hae naething o' the kin'. I'll sleep upo' the flure, or
else upo' the door-stane. Man, I'm no clean eneuch efter what I've
come throu sin' I drappit frae the window-sill i' the ga'le-room.
But jist len' me yer plaid, an' I'll sleep upo' the rug here as gin
I war i' Paradees. An' faith, sae I am, Robert. Ye maun gang to
yer bed some time the nicht forby (besides), or ye winna be fit for
yer wark the morn. Ye can jist gie me a kick, an' I'll be up afore
ye can gie me anither.'

Their supper arrived from below, and, each on one side of the fire,
they ate the porridge, conversing all the while about old times--for
the youngest life has its old times, its golden age--and old
adventures,--Dooble Sanny, Betty, &c., &c. There were but two
subjects which Robert avoided--Miss St. John and the Bonnie Leddy.
Shargar was at length deposited upon the little bit of hearthrug
which adorned rather than enriched the room, with Robert's plaid of
shepherd tartan around him, and an Ainsworth's dictionary under his
head for a pillow.

'Man, I fin' mysel' jist like a muckle colley (sheep-dog),' he said.
'Whan I close my een, I'm no sure 'at I'm no i' the inside o' yer
auld luckie-daiddie's kilt. The Lord preserve me frae ever sic a
fricht again as yer grannie an' Betty gae me the nicht they fand me
in 't! I dinna believe it's in natur' to hae sic a fricht twise in
ae lifetime. Sae I'll fa' asleep at ance, an' say nae mair--but as
muckle o' my prayers as I can min' upo' noo 'at grannie's no at my

'Haud yer impidence, an' yer tongue thegither,' said Robert. 'Min'
'at my grannie's been the best frien' ye ever had.'

''Cep' my ain mither,' returned Shargar, with a sleepy doggedness in
his tone.

During their conference, Ericson had been slumbering. Robert had
visited him from time to time, but he had not awaked. As soon as
Shargar was disposed of, he took his candle and sat down by him. He
grew more uneasy. Robert guessed that the candle was the cause, and
put it out. Ericson was quieter. So Robert sat in the dark.

But the rain had now ceased. Some upper wind had swept the clouds
from the sky, and the whole world of stars was radiant over the
earth and its griefs.

'O God, where art thou?' he said in his heart, and went to his own
room to look out.

There was no curtain, and the blind had not been drawn down,
therefore the earth looked in at the storm-window. The sea neither
glimmered nor shone. It lay across the horizon like a low level
cloud, out of which came a moaning. Was this moaning all of the
earth, or was there trouble in the starry places too? thought
Robert, as if already he had begun to suspect the truth from
afar--that save in the secret place of the Most High, and in the
heart that is hid with the Son of Man in the bosom of the Father,
there is trouble--a sacred unrest--everywhere--the moaning of a tide
setting homewards, even towards the bosom of that Father.



Robert kept himself thoroughly awake the whole night, and it was
well that he had not to attend classes in the morning. As the gray
of the world's reviving consciousness melted in at the window, the
things around and within him looked and felt ghastly. Nothing is
liker the gray dawn than the soul of one who has been watching by a
sick bed all the long hours of the dark, except, indeed, it be the
first glimmerings of truth on the mind lost in the dark of a godless

Ericson had waked often, and Robert had administered his medicine
carefully. But he had been mostly between sleeping and waking, and
had murmured strange words, whose passing shadows rather than
glimmers roused the imagination of the youth as with messages from
regions unknown.

As the light came he found his senses going, and went to his own
room again to get a book that he might keep himself awake by reading
at the window. To his surprise Shargar was gone, and for a moment
he doubted whether he had not been dreaming all that had passed
between them the night before. His plaid was folded up and laid
upon a chair, as if it had been there all night, and his Ainsworth
was on the table. But beside it was the money Shargar had drawn
from his pockets.

About nine o'clock Dr. Anderson arrived, found Ericson not so much
worse as he had expected, comforted Robert, and told him he must go
to bed.

'But I cannot leave Mr. Ericson,' said Robert.

'Let your friend--what's his odd name?--watch him during the day.'

'Shargar, you mean, sir. But that's his nickname. His rale name
they say his mither says, is George Moray--wi' an o an' no a
u-r.--Do you see, sir?' concluded Robert significantly.

'No, I don't,' answered the doctor.

'They say he's a son o' the auld Markis's, that's it. His mither's
a randy wife 'at gangs aboot the country--a gipsy they say. There's
nae doobt aboot her. An' by a' accoonts the father's likly eneuch.'

'And how on earth did you come to have such a questionable

'Shargar's as fine a crater as ever God made,' said Robert warmly.
'Ye'll alloo 'at God made him, doctor; though his father an' mither
thochtna muckle aboot him or God either whan they got him atween
them? An' Shargar couldna help it. It micht ha' been you or me for
that maitter, doctor.'

'I beg your pardon, Robert,' said Dr. Anderson quietly, although
delighted with the fervour of his young kinsman: 'I only wanted to
know how he came to be your companion.'

'I beg your pardon, doctor--but I thoucht ye was some scunnert at
it; an' I canna bide Shargar to be luikit doon upo'. Luik here,' he
continued, going to his box, and bringing out Shargar's little heap
of coppers, in which two sixpences obscurely shone, 'he brocht a'
that hame last nicht, an' syne sleepit upo' the rug i' my room
there. We'll want a' 'at he can mak an' me too afore we get Mr.
Ericson up again.'

'But ye haena tellt me yet,' said the doctor, so pleased with the
lad that he relapsed into the dialect of his youth, 'hoo ye cam to
forgather wi' 'im.'

'I tellt ye a' aboot it, doctor. It was a' my grannie's doin', God
bless her--for weel he may, an' muckle she needs 't.'

'Oh! yes; I remember now all your grandmother's part in the story,'
returned the doctor. 'But I still want to know how he came here.'

'She was gaein' to mak a taylor o' 'm: an' he jist ran awa', an' cam
to me.'

'It was too bad of him that--after all she had done for him.'

'Ow, 'deed no, doctor. Even whan ye boucht a man an' paid for him,
accordin' to the Jewish law, ye cudna mak a slave o' 'im for
a'thegither, ohn him seekin' 't himsel'.--Eh! gin she could only get
my father hame!' sighed Robert, after a pause.

'What should she want him home for?' asked Dr. Anderson, still
making conversation.

'I didna mean hame to Rothieden. I believe she cud bide never
seein' 'im again, gin only he wasna i' the ill place. She has awfu'
notions aboot burnin' ill sowls for ever an' ever. But it's no
hersel'. It's the wyte o' the ministers. Doctor, I do believe she
wad gang an' be brunt hersel' wi' a great thanksgivin', gin it wad
lat ony puir crater oot o' 't--no to say my father. An' I sair
misdoobt gin mony o' them 'at pat it in her heid wad do as muckle.
I'm some feared they're like Paul afore he was convertit: he wadna
lift a stane himsel', but he likit weel to stan' oot by an' luik

A deep sigh, almost a groan, from the bed, reminded them that they
were talking too much and too loud for a sick-room. It was followed
by the words, muttered, but articulate,

'What's the good when you don't know whether there's a God at all?'

''Deed, that's verra true, Mr. Ericson,' returned Robert. 'I wish ye
wad fin' oot an' tell me. I wad be blithe to hear what ye had to
say anent it--gin it was ay, ye ken.'

Ericson went on murmuring, but inarticulately now.

'This won't do at all, Robert, my boy,' said Dr. Anderson. 'You must
not talk about such things with him, or indeed about anything. You
must keep him as quiet as ever you can.'

'I thocht he was comin' till himsel',' returned Robert. 'But I will
tak care, I assure ye, doctor. Only I'm feared I may fa' asleep the
nicht, for I was dooms sleepy this mornin'.'

'I will send Johnston as soon as I get home, and you must go to bed
when he comes.'

''Deed, doctor, that winna do at a'. It wad be ower mony strange
faces a'thegither. We'll get Mistress Fyvie to luik till 'im the
day, an' Shargar canna work the morn, bein' Sunday. An' I'll gang
to my bed for fear o' doin' waur, though I doobt I winna sleep i'
the daylicht.'

Dr. Anderson was satisfied, and went home--cogitating much. This
boy, this cousin of his, made a vortex of good about him into which
whoever came near it was drawn. He seemed at the same time quite
unaware of anything worthy in his conduct. The good he did sprung
from some inward necessity, with just enough in it of the salt of
choice to keep it from losing its savour. To these cogitations of
Dr. Anderson, I add that there was no conscious exercise of religion
in it--for there his mind was all at sea. Of course I believe
notwithstanding that religion had much, I ought to say everything,
to do with it. Robert had not yet found in God a reason for being
true to his fellows; but, if God was leading him to be the man he
became, how could any good results of this leading be other than
religion? All good is of God. Robert began where he could. The
first table was too high for him; he began with the second. If a
man love his brother whom he hath seen, the love of God whom he hath
not seen, is not very far off. These results in Robert were the
first outcome of divine facts and influences--they were the buds of
the fruit hereafter to be gathered in perfect devotion. God be
praised by those who know religion to be the truth of humanity--its
own truth that sets it free--not binds, and lops, and mutilates it!
who see God to be the father of every human soul--the ideal Father,
not an inventor of schemes, or the upholder of a court etiquette for
whose use he has chosen to desecrate the name of justice!

To return to Dr. Anderson. I have had little opportunity of knowing
his history in India. He returned from it half-way down the hill of
life, sad, gentle, kind, and rich. Whence his sadness came, we need
not inquire. Some woman out in that fervid land may have darkened
his story--darkened it wronglessly, it may be, with coldness, or
only with death. But to return home without wife to accompany him
or child to meet him,--to sit by his riches like a man over a fire
of straws in a Siberian frost; to know that old faces were gone and
old hearts changed, that the pattern of things in the heavens had
melted away from the face of the earth, that the chill evenings of
autumn were settling down into longer and longer nights, and that no
hope lay any more beyond the mountains--surely this was enough to
make a gentle-minded man sad, even if the individual sorrows of his
history had gathered into gold and purple in the west. I say west
advisedly. For we are journeying, like our globe, ever towards the
east. Death and the west are behind us--ever behind us, and
settling into the unchangeable.

It was natural that he should be interested in the fine promise of
Robert, in whom he saw revived the hopes of his own youth, but in a
nature at once more robust and more ideal. Where the doctor was
refined, Robert was strong; where the doctor was firm with a
firmness he had cultivated, Robert was imperious with an
imperiousness time would mellow; where the doctor was generous and
careful at once, Robert gave his mite and forgot it. He was rugged
in the simplicity of his truthfulness, and his speech bewrayed him
as altogether of the people; but the doctor knew the hole of the pit
whence he had been himself digged. All that would fall away as the
spiky shell from the polished chestnut, and be reabsorbed in the
growth of the grand cone-flowering tree, to stand up in the sun and
wind of the years a very altar of incense. It is no wonder, I
repeat, that he loved the boy, and longed to further his plans. But
he was too wise to overwhelm him with a cataract of fortune instead
of blessing him with the merciful dew of progress.

'The fellow will bring me in for no end of expense,' he said,
smiling to himself, as he drove home in his chariot. 'The less he
means it the more unconscionable he will be. There's that
Ericson--but that isn't worth thinking of. I must do something for
that queer protg of his, though--that Shargar. The fellow is as
good as a dog, and that's saying not a little for him. I wonder if
he can learn--or if he takes after his father the marquis, who never
could spell. Well, it is a comfort to have something to do worth
doing. I did think of endowing a hospital; but I'm not sure that it
isn't better to endow a good man than a hospital. I'll think about
it. I won't say anything about Shargar either, till I see how he
goes on. I might give him a job, though, now and then. But where
to fall in with him--prowling about after jobs?'

He threw himself back in his seat, and laughed with a delight he had
rarely felt. He was a providence watching over the boys, who
expected nothing of him beyond advice for Ericson! Might there not
be a Providence that equally transcended the vision of men, shaping
to nobler ends the blocked-out designs of their rough-hewn marbles?

His thoughts wandered back to his friend the Brahmin, who died
longing for that absorption into deity which had been the dream of
his life: might not the Brahmin find the grand idea shaped to yet
finer issues than his aspiration had dared contemplate?--might he
not inherit in the purification of his will such an absorption as
should intensify his personality?



Ericson lay for several weeks, during which time Robert and Shargar
were his only nurses. They contrived, by abridging both rest and
labour, to give him constant attendance. Shargar went to bed early
and got up early, so as to let Robert have a few hours' sleep before
his classes began. Robert again slept in the evening, after Shargar
came home, and made up for the time by reading while he sat by his
friend. Mrs. Fyvie's attendance was in requisition only for the
hours when he had to be at lectures. By the greatest economy of
means, consisting of what Shargar brought in by jobbing about the
quay and the coach-offices, and what Robert had from Dr. Anderson
for copying his manuscript, they contrived to procure for Ericson
all that he wanted. The shopping of the two boys, in their utter
ignorance of such delicacies as the doctor told them to get for him,
the blunders they made as to the shops at which they were to be
bought, and the consultations they held, especially about the
preparing of the prescribed nutriment, afforded them many an amusing
retrospect in after years. For the house was so full of lodgers,
that Robert begged Mrs. Fyvie to give herself no trouble in the
matter. Her conscience, however, was uneasy, and she spoke to Dr.
Anderson; but he assured her that she might trust the boys. What
cooking they could not manage, she undertook cheerfully, and refused
to add anything to the rent on Shargar's account.

Dr. Anderson watched everything, the two boys as much as his
patient. He allowed them to work on, sending only the wine that was
necessary from his own cellar. The moment the supplies should begin
to fail, or the boys to look troubled, he was ready to do more.
About Robert's perseverance he had no doubt: Shargar's faithfulness
he wanted to prove.

Robert wrote to his grandmother to tell her that Shargar was with
him, working hard. Her reply was somewhat cold and offended, but
was inclosed in a parcel containing all Shargar's garments, and
ended with the assurance that as long as he did well she was ready
to do what she could.

Few English readers will like Mrs. Falconer; but her grandchild
considered her one of the noblest women ever God made; and I, from
his account, am of the same mind. Her care was fixed

To fill her odorous lamp with deeds of light,
And hope that reaps not shame.

And if one must choose between the how and the what, let me have the
what, come of the how what may. I know of a man so sensitive, that
he shuts his ears to his sister's griefs, because it spoils his
digestion to think of them.

One evening Robert was sitting by the table in Ericson's room. Dr.
Anderson had not called that day, and he did not expect to see him
now, for he had never come so late. He was quite at his ease,
therefore, and busy with two things at once, when the doctor opened
the door and walked in. I think it is possible that he came up
quietly with some design of surprising him. He found him with a
stocking on one hand, a darning needle in the other, and a Greek
book open before him. Taking no apparent notice of him, he walked
up to the bedside, and Robert put away his work. After his
interview with his patient was over, the doctor signed to him to
follow him to the next room. There Shargar lay on the rug already
snoring. It was a cold night in December, but he lay in his
under-clothing, with a single blanket round him.

'Good training for a soldier,' said the doctor; 'and so was your
work a minute ago, Robert.'

'Ay,' answered Robert, colouring a little; 'I was readin' a bit o'
the Anabasis.'

The doctor smiled a far-off sly smile.

'I think it was rather the Katabasis, if one might venture to judge
from the direction of your labours.'

'Weel,' answered Robert, 'what wad ye hae me do? Wad ye hae me lat
Mr. Ericson gang wi' holes i' the heels o' 's hose, whan I can mak
them a' snod, an' learn my Greek at the same time? Hoots, doctor!
dinna lauch at me. I was doin' nae ill. A body may please
themsel's--whiles surely, ohn sinned.'

'But it's such waste of time! Why don't you buy him new ones?'

''Deed that's easier said than dune. I hae eneuch ado wi' my siller
as 'tis; an' gin it warna for you, doctor, I do not ken what wad
come o' 's; for ye see I hae no richt to come upo' my grannie for
ither fowk. There wad be nae en' to that.'

'But I could lend you the money to buy him some stockings.'

'An' whan wad I be able to pay ye, do ye think, doctor? In anither
warl' maybe, whaur the currency micht be sae different there wad be
no possibility o' reckonin' the rate o' exchange. Na, na.'

'But I will give you the money if you like.'

'Na, na. You hae dune eneuch already, an' mony thanks. Siller's no
sae easy come by to be wastit, as lang's a darn 'll do. Forbye, gin
ye began wi' his claes, ye wadna ken whaur to haud; for it wad jist
be the new claith upo' the auld garment: ye micht as weel new cleed
him at ance.'

'And why not if I choose, Mr. Falconer?'

'Speir ye that at him, an' see what ye'll get--a luik 'at wad fess a
corbie (carrion crow) frae the lift (sky). I wadna hae ye try that.
Some fowk's poverty maun be han'let jist like a sair place, doctor.
He canna weel compleen o' a bit darnin'.--He canna tak that ill,'
repeated Robert, in a tone that showed he yet felt some anxiety on
the subject; 'but new anes! I wadna like to be by whan he fand that
oot. Maybe he micht tak them frae a wuman; but frae a man
body!--na, na; I maun jist darn awa'. But I'll mak them dacent
eneuch afore I hae dune wi' them. A fiddler has fingers.'

The doctor smiled a pleased smile; but when he got into his
carriage, again he laughed heartily.

The evening deepened into night. Robert thought Ericson was asleep.
But he spoke.

'Who is that at the street door?' he said.

They were at the top of the house, and there was no window to the
street. But Ericson's senses were preternaturally acute, as is
often the case in such illnesses.

'I dinna hear onybody,' answered Robert.

'There was somebody,' returned Ericson.

>From that moment he began to be restless, and was more feverish than
usual throughout the night.

Up to this time he had spoken little, was depressed with a suffering
to which he could give no name--not pain, he said--but such that he
could rouse no mental effort to meet it: his endurance was passive
altogether. This night his brain was more affected. He did not
rave, but often wandered; never spoke nonsense, but many words that
would have seemed nonsense to ordinary people: to Robert they seemed
inspired. His imagination, which was greater than any other of his
fine faculties, was so roused that he talked in verse--probably
verse composed before and now recalled. He would even pray
sometimes in measured lines, and go on murmuring petitions, till the
words of the murmur became undistinguishable, and he fell asleep.
But even in his sleep he would speak; and Robert would listen in
awe; for such words, falling from such a man, were to him as dim
breaks of coloured light from the rainbow walls of the heavenly

'If God were thinking me,' said Ericson, 'ah! But if he be only
dreaming me, I shall go mad.'

Ericson's outside was like his own northern clime--dark, gentle, and
clear, with gray-blue seas, and a sun that seems to shine out of the
past, and know nothing of the future. But within glowed a volcanic
angel of aspiration, fluttering his half-grown wings, and ever
reaching towards the heights whence all things are visible, and
where all passions are safe because true, that is divine. Iceland
herself has her Hecla.

Robert listened with keenest ear. A mist of great meaning hung
about the words his friend had spoken. He might speak more. For
some minutes he listened in vain, and was turning at last towards
his book in hopelessness, when he did speak yet again: Robert's ear
soon detected the rhythmic motion of his speech.

'Come in the glory of thine excellence;
Rive the dense gloom with wedges of clear light;
And let the shimmer of thy chariot wheels
Burn through the cracks of night.--So slowly, Lord,
To lift myself to thee with hands of toil,
Climbing the slippery cliff of unheard prayer!
Lift up a hand among my idle days--
One beckoning finger. I will cast aside
The clogs of earthly circumstance, and run
Up the broad highways where the countless worlds
Sit ripening in the summer of thy love.'

Breathless for fear of losing a word, Robert yet remembered that he
had seen something like these words in the papers Ericson had given
him to read on the night when his illness began. When he had fallen
asleep and silent, he searched and found the poem from which I give
the following extracts. He had not looked at the papers since that


O Lord, my God, how long
Shall my poor heart pant for a boundless joy?
How long, O mighty Spirit, shall I hear
The murmur of Truth's crystal waters slide
>From the deep caverns of their endless being,
But my lips taste not, and the grosser air
Choke each pure inspiration of thy will?

I would be a wind,
Whose smallest atom is a viewless wing,
All busy with the pulsing life that throbs
To do thy bidding; yea, or the meanest thing
That has relation to a changeless truth
Could I but be instinct with thee--each thought
The lightning of a pure intelligence,
And every act as the loud thunder-clap
Of currents warring for a vacuum.

Lord, clothe me with thy truth as with a robe.
Purge me with sorrow. I will bend my head,
And let the nations of thy waves pass over,
Bathing me in thy consecrated strength.
And let the many-voiced and silver winds
Pass through my frame with their clear influence.
O save me--I am blind; lo! thwarting shapes
Wall up the void before, and thrusting out
Lean arms of unshaped expectation, beckon
Down to the night of all unholy thoughts.

I have seen
Unholy shapes lop off my shining thoughts,
Which I had thought nursed in thine emerald light;
And they have lent me leathern wings of fear,
Of baffled pride and harrowing distrust;
And Godhead with its crown of many stars,
Its pinnacles of flaming holiness,
And voice of leaves in the green summer-time,
Has seemed the shadowed image of a self.
Then my soul blackened; and I rose to find
And grasp my doom, and cleave the arching deeps
Of desolation.

O Lord, my soul is a forgotten well;
Clad round with its own rank luxuriance;
A fountain a kind sunbeam searches for,
Sinking the lustre of its arrowy finger
Through the long grass its own strange virtue5
Hath blinded up its crystal eye withal:
Make me a broad strong river coming down
With shouts from its high hills, whose rocky hearts
Throb forth the joy of their stability
In watery pulses from their inmost deeps,
And I shall be a vein upon thy world,
Circling perpetual from the parent deep.
O First and Last, O glorious all in all,
In vain my faltering human tongue would seek
To shape the vesture of the boundless thought,
Summing all causes in one burning word;
Give me the spirit's living tongue of fire,
Whose only voice is in an attitude
Of keenest tension, bent back on itself
With a strong upward force; even as thy bow
Of bended colour stands against the north,
And, in an attitude to spring to heaven,
Lays hold of the kindled hills.

Most mighty One,
Confirm and multiply my thoughts of good;
Help me to wall each sacred treasure round
With the firm battlements of special action.
Alas my holy, happy thoughts of thee
Make not perpetual nest within my soul,
But like strange birds of dazzling colours stoop
The trailing glories of their sunward speed,
For one glad moment filling my blasted boughs
With the sunshine of their wings.

Make me a forest
Of gladdest life, wherein perpetual spring
Lifts up her leafy tresses in the wind.

Lo! now I see
Thy trembling starlight sit among my pines,
And thy young moon slide down my arching boughs
With a soft sound of restless eloquence.
And I can feel a joy as when thy hosts
Of trampling winds, gathering in maddened bands,
Roar upward through the blue and flashing day
Round my still depths of uncleft solitude.

Hear me, O Lord,
When the black night draws down upon my soul,
And voices of temptation darken down
The misty wind, slamming thy starry doors,
With bitter jests. 'Thou fool!' they seem to say
'Thou hast no seed of goodness in thee; all
Thy nature hath been stung right through and through.
Thy sin hath blasted thee, and made thee old.
Thou hadst a will, but thou hast killed it--dead--
And with the fulsome garniture of life
Built out the loathsome corpse. Thou art a child
Of night and death, even lower than a worm.
Gather the skirts up of thy shadowy self,
And with what resolution thou hast left,
Fall on the damned spikes of doom.'

O take me like a child,
If thou hast made me for thyself, my God,
And lead me up thy hills. I shall not fear
So thou wilt make me pure, and beat back sin
With the terrors of thine eye.

Lord hast thou sent
Thy moons to mock us with perpetual hope?
Lighted within our breasts the love of love,
To make us ripen for despair, my God?

Oh, dost thou hold each individual soul
Strung clear upon thy flaming rods of purpose?
Or does thine inextinguishable will
Stand on the steeps of night with lifted hand,
Filling the yawning wells of monstrous space
With mixing thought--drinking up single life
As in a cup? and from the rending folds
Of glimmering purpose, the gloom do all thy navied stars
Slide through the gloom with mystic melody,
Like wishes on a brow? Oh, is my soul,
Hung like a dew-drop in thy grassy ways,
Drawn up again into the rack of change,
Even through the lustre which created it?
O mighty one, thou wilt not smite me through
With scorching wrath, because my spirit stands
Bewildered in thy circling mysteries.

Here came the passage Robert had heard him repeat, and then the
following paragraph:

Lord, thy strange mysteries come thickening down
Upon my head like snow-flakes, shutting out
The happy upper fields with chilly vapour.
Shall I content my soul with a weak sense
Of safety? or feed my ravenous hunger with
Sore-purged hopes, that are not hopes, but fears
Clad in white raiment?
I know not but some thin and vaporous fog,
Fed with the rank excesses of the soul,
Mocks the devouring hunger of my life
With satisfaction: lo! the noxious gas
Feeds the lank ribs of gaunt and ghastly death
With double emptiness, like a balloon,
Borne by its lightness o'er the shining lands,
A wonder and a laughter.
The creeds lie in the hollow of men's hearts
Like festering pools glassing their own corruption:
The slimy eyes stare up with dull approval,
And answer not when thy bright starry feet
Move on the watery floors.

O wilt thou hear me when I cry to thee?
I am a child lost in a mighty forest;
The air is thick with voices, and strange hands
Reach through the dusk and pluck me by the skirts.
There is a voice which sounds like words from home,
But, as I stumble on to reach it, seems
To leap from rock to rock. Oh! if it is
Willing obliquity of sense, descend,
Heal all my wanderings, take me by the hand,
And lead me homeward through the shadows.
Let me not by my wilful acts of pride
Block up the windows of thy truth, and grow
A wasted, withered thing, that stumbles on
Down to the grave with folded hands of sloth
And leaden confidence.

There was more of it, as my type indicates. Full of faults, I have
given so much to my reader, just as it stood upon Ericson's blotted
papers, the utterance of a true soul 'crying for the light.' But I
give also another of his poems, which Robert read at the same time,
revealing another of his moods when some one of the clouds of holy
doubt and questioning love which so often darkened his sky, did at

Turn forth her silver lining on the night:


They are blind and they are dead:
We will wake them as we go;
There are words have not been said;
There are sounds they do not know.
We will pipe and we will sing--
With the music and the spring,
Set their hearts a wondering.

They are tired of what is old:
We will give it voices new;
For the half hath not been told
Of the Beautiful and True.
Drowsy eyelids shut and sleeping!
Heavy eyes oppressed with weeping!
Flashes through the lashes leaping!

Ye that have a pleasant voice,
Hither come without delay;
Ye will never have a choice
Like to that ye have to-day:
Round the wide world we will go,
Singing through the frost and snow,
Till the daisies are in blow.

Ye that cannot pipe or sing,
Ye must also come with speed;
Ye must come and with you bring
Weighty words and weightier deed:
Helping hands and loving eyes,
These will make them truly wise--
Then will be our Paradise.

As Robert read, the sweetness of the rhythm seized upon him, and,
almost unconsciously, he read the last stanza aloud. Looking up
from the paper with a sigh of wonder and delight--there was the pale
face of Ericson gazing at him from the bed! He had risen on one
arm, looking like a dead man called to life against his will, who
found the world he had left already stranger to him than the one
into which he had but peeped.

'Yes,' he murmured; 'I could say that once. It's all gone now. Our
world is but our moods.'

He fell back on his pillow. After a little, he murmured again:

'I might fool myself with faith again. So it is better not. I
would not be fooled. To believe the false and be happy is the very
belly of misery. To believe the true and be miserable, is to be
true--and miserable. If there is no God, let me know it. I will
not be fooled. I will not believe in a God that does not exist.
Better be miserable because I am, and cannot help it.--O God!'

Yet in his misery, he cried upon God.

These words came upon Robert with such a shock of sympathy, that
they destroyed his consciousness for the moment, and when he thought
about them, he almost doubted if he had heard them. He rose and
approached the bed. Ericson lay with his eyes closed, and his face
contorted as by inward pain. Robert put a spoonful of wine to his
lips. He swallowed it, opened his eyes, gazed at the boy as if he
did not know him, closed them again, and lay still.

Some people take comfort from the true eyes of a dog--and a precious
thing to the loving heart is the love of even a dumb animal.6 What
comfort then must not such a boy as Robert have been to such a man
as Ericson! Often and often when he was lying asleep as Robert
thought, he was watching the face of his watcher. When the human
soul is not yet able to receive the vision of the God-man, God
sometimes--might I not say always?--reveals himself, or at least
gives himself, in some human being whose face, whose hands are the
ministering angels of his unacknowledged presence, to keep alive the
fire of love on the altar of the heart, until God hath provided the
sacrifice--that is, until the soul is strong enough to draw it from
the concealing thicket. Here were two, each thinking that God had
forsaken him, or was not to be found by him, and each the very love
of God, commissioned to tend the other's heart. In each was he
present to the other. The one thought himself the happiest of
mortals in waiting upon his big brother, whose least smile was joy
enough for one day; the other wondered at the unconscious goodness
of the boy, and while he gazed at his ruddy-brown face, believed in

For some time after Ericson was taken ill, he was too depressed and
miserable to ask how he was cared for. But by slow degrees it
dawned upon him that a heart deep and gracious, like that of a
woman, watched over him. True, Robert was uncouth, but his
uncouthness was that of a half-fledged angel. The heart of the man
and the heart of the boy were drawn close together. Long before
Ericson was well he loved Robert enough to be willing to be indebted
to him, and would lie pondering--not how to repay him, but how to
return his kindness.

How much Robert's ambition to stand well in the eyes of Miss St.
John contributed to his progress I can only imagine; but certainly
his ministrations to Ericson did not interfere with his Latin and
Greek. I venture to think that they advanced them, for difficulty
adds to result, as the ramming of the powder sends the bullet the
further. I have heard, indeed, that when a carrier wants to help
his horse up hill, he sets a boy on his back.

Ericson made little direct acknowledgment to Robert: his tones, his
gestures, his looks, all thanked him; but he shrunk from words, with
the maidenly shamefacedness that belongs to true feeling. He would
even assume the authoritative, and send him away to his studies, but
Robert knew how to hold his own. The relation of elder brother and
younger was already established between them. Shargar likewise took
his share in the love and the fellowship, worshipping in that he



The presence at the street door of which Ericson's over-acute sense
had been aware on a past evening, was that of Mr. Lindsay, walking
home with bowed back and bowed head from the college library, where
he was privileged to sit after hours as long as he pleased over
books too big to be comfortably carried home to his cottage. He had
called to inquire after Ericson, whose acquaintance he had made in
the library, and cultivated until almost any Friday evening Ericson
was to be found seated by Mr. Lindsay's parlour fire.

As he entered the room that same evening, a young girl raised
herself from a low seat by the fire to meet him. There was a faint
rosy flush on her cheek, and she held a volume in her hand as she
approached her father. They did not kiss: kisses were not a legal
tender in Scotland then: possibly there has been a depreciation in
the value of them since they were.

'I've been to ask after Mr. Ericson,' said Mr. Lindsay.

'And how is he?' asked the girl.

'Very poorly indeed,' answered her father.

'I am sorry. You'll miss him, papa.'

'Yes, my dear. Tell Jenny to bring my lamp.'

'Won't you have your tea first, papa?'

'Oh yes, if it's ready.'

'The kettle has been boiling for a long time, but I wouldn't make
the tea till you came in.'

Mr. Lindsay was an hour later than usual, but Mysie was quite
unaware of that: she had been absorbed in her book, too much
absorbed even to ring for better light than the fire afforded. When
her father went to put off his long, bifurcated greatcoat, she
returned to her seat by the fire, and forgot to make the tea. It
was a warm, snug room, full of dark, old-fashioned, spider-legged
furniture; low-pitched, with a bay-window, open like an ear to the
cries of the German Ocean at night, and like an eye during the day
to look out upon its wide expanse. This ear or eye was now
curtained with dark crimson, and the room, in the firelight, with
the young girl for a soul to it, affected one like an ancient book
in which he reads his own latest thought.

Mysie was nothing over the middle height--delicately-fashioned, at
once slender and round, with extremities neat as buds. Her
complexion was fair, and her face pale, except when a flush, like
that of a white rose, overspread it. Her cheek was lovelily curved,
and her face rather short. But at first one could see nothing for
her eyes. They were the largest eyes; and their motion reminded one
of those of Sordello in the Purgatorio:

E nel muover degli occhi onesta e tarda:

they seemed too large to move otherwise than with a slow turning
like that of the heavens. At first they looked black, but if one
ventured inquiry, which was as dangerous as to gaze from the
battlements of Elsinore, he found them a not very dark brown. In
her face, however, especially when flushed, they had all the effect
of what Milton describes as

Quel sereno fulgor d'amabil nero.

A wise observer would have been a little troubled in regarding her
mouth. The sadness of a morbid sensibility hovered about it--the
sign of an imagination wrought upon from the centre of self. Her
lips were neither thin nor compressed--they closed lightly, and were
richly curved; but there was a mobility almost tremulous about the
upper lip that gave sign of the possibility of such an oscillation
of feeling as might cause the whole fabric of her nature to rock

The moment her father re-entered, she started from her stool on the
rug, and proceeded to make the tea. Her father took no notice of
her neglect, but drew a chair to the table, helped himself to a
piece of oat-cake, hastily loaded it with as much butter as it could
well carry, and while eating it forgot it and everything else in the
absorption of a volume he had brought in with him from his study, in
which he was tracing out some genealogical thread of which he
fancied he had got a hold. Mysie was very active now, and lost the
expression of far-off-ness which had hitherto characterized her
countenance; till, having poured out the tea, she too plunged at
once into her novel, and, like her father, forgot everything and
everybody near her.

Mr. Lindsay was a mild, gentle man, whose face and hair seemed to
have grown gray together. He was very tall, and stooped much. He
had a mouth of much sensibility, and clear blue eyes, whose light
was rarely shed upon any one within reach except his daughter--they
were so constantly bent downwards, either on the road as he walked,
or on his book as he sat. He had been educated for the church, but
had never risen above the position of a parish school-master. He
had little or no impulse to utterance, was shy, genial, and, save in
reading, indolent. Ten years before this point of my history he had
been taken up by an active lawyer in Edinburgh, from information
accidentally supplied by Mr. Lindsay himself, as the next heir to a
property to which claim was laid by the head of a county family of
wealth. Probabilities were altogether in his favour, when he gave
up the contest upon the offer of a comfortable annuity from the
disputant. To leave his schooling and his possible estate together,
and sit down comfortably by his own fireside, with the means of
buying books, and within reach of a good old library--that of King's
College by preference--was to him the sum of all that was desirable.
The income offered him was such that he had no doubt of laying
aside enough for his only child, Mysie; but both were so ill-fitted
for saving, he from looking into the past, she from looking
into--what shall I call it? I can only think of negatives--what was
neither past, present, nor future, neither material nor eternal,
neither imaginative in any true sense, nor actual in any sense, that
up to the present hour there was nothing in the bank, and only the
money for impending needs in the house. He could not be called a
man of learning; he was only a great bookworm; for his reading lay
all in the nebulous regions of history. Old family records,
wherever he could lay hold upon them, were his favourite dishes;
old, musty books, that looked as if they knew something everybody
else had forgotten, made his eyes gleam, and his white
taper-fingered hand tremble with eagerness. With such a book in his
grasp he saw something ever beckoning him on, a dimly precious
discovery, a wonderful fact just the shape of some missing fragment
in the mosaic of one of his pictures of the past. To tell the
truth, however, his discoveries seldom rounded themselves into
pictures, though many fragments of the minutely dissected map would
find their places, whereupon he rejoiced like a mild giant refreshed
with soda-water. But I have already said more about him than his
place justifies; therefore, although I could gladly linger over the
portrait, I will leave it. He had taught his daughter next to
nothing. Being his child, he had the vague feeling that she
inherited his wisdom, and that what he knew she knew. So she sat
reading novels, generally trashy ones, while he knew no more of what
was passing in her mind than of what the Admirable Crichton might,
at the moment, be disputing with the angels.

I would not have my reader suppose that Mysie's mind was corrupted.
It was so simple and childlike, leaning to what was pure, and
looking up to what was noble, that anything directly bad in the
books she happened--for it was all haphazard--to read, glided over
her as a black cloud may glide over a landscape, leaving it sunny as

I cannot therefore say, however, that she was nothing the worse. If
the darkening of the sun keep the fruits of the earth from growing,
the earth is surely the worse, though it be blackened by no deposit
of smoke. And where good things do not grow, the wild and possibly
noxious will grow more freely. There may be no harm in the yellow
tanzie--there is much beauty in the red poppy; but they are not good
for food. The result in Mysie's case would be this--not that she
would call evil good and good evil, but that she would take the
beautiful for the true and the outer shows of goodness for goodness
itself--not the worst result, but bad enough, and involving an awful
amount of suffering and possibly of defilement. He who thinks to
climb the hill of happiness thus, will find himself floundering in
the blackest bog that lies at the foot of its precipices. I say he,
not she, advisedly. All will acknowledge it of the woman: it is as
true of the man, though he may get out easier. Will he? I say,
checking myself. I doubt it much. In the world's eye, yes; but in
God's? Let the question remain unanswered.

When he had eaten his toast, and drunk his tea, apparently without
any enjoyment, Mr. Lindsay rose with his book in his hand, and
withdrew to his study.

He had not long left the room when Mysie was startled by a loud
knock at the back door, which opened on a lane, leading along the
top of the hill. But she had almost forgotten it again, when the
door of the room opened, and a gentleman entered without any
announcement--for Jenny had never heard of the custom. When she saw
him, Mysie started from her seat, and stood in visible
embarrassment. The colour went and came on her lovely face, and her
eyelids grew very heavy. She had never seen the visitor before:
whether he had ever seen her before, I cannot certainly say. She
felt herself trembling in his presence, while he advanced with
perfect composure. He was a man no longer young, but in the full
strength and show of manhood--the Baron of Rothie. Since the time
of my first description of him, he had grown a moustache, which
improved his countenance greatly, by concealing his upper lip with
its tusky curves. On a girl like Mysie, with an imagination so
cultivated, and with no opportunity of comparing its fancies with
reality, such a man would make an instant impression.

'I beg your pardon, Miss--Lindsay, I presume?--for intruding upon
you so abruptly. I expected to see your father--not one of the

She blushed all the colour of her blood now. The baron was quite
enough like the hero of whom she had just been reading to admit of
her imagination jumbling the two. Her book fell. He lifted it and
laid it on the table. She could not speak even to thank him. Poor
Mysie was scarcely more than sixteen.

'May I wait here till your father is informed of my visit?' he

Her only answer was to drop again upon her low stool.

Now Jenny had left it to Mysie to acquaint her father with the fact
of the baron's presence; but before she had time to think of the
necessity of doing something, he had managed to draw her into
conversation. He was as great a hypocrite as ever walked the earth,
although he flattered himself that he was none, because he never
pretended to cultivate that which he despised--namely, religion.
But he was a hypocrite nevertheless; for the falser he knew
himself, the more honour he judged it to persuade women of his

It is unnecessary to record the slight, graceful, marrowless talk
into which he drew Mysie, and by which he both bewildered and
bewitched her. But at length she rose, admonished by her inborn
divinity, to seek her father. As she passed him, the baron took her
hand and kissed it. She might well tremble. Even such contact was
terrible. Why? Because there was no love in it. When the sense of
beauty which God had given him that he might worship, awoke in Lord
Rothie, he did not worship, but devoured, that he might, as he
thought, possess! The poison of asps was under those lips. His
kiss was as a kiss from the grave's mouth, for his throat was an
open sepulchre. This was all in the past, reader. Baron Rothie was
a foam-flake of the court of the Prince Regent. There are no such
men now-a-days! It is a shame to speak of such, and therefore they
are not! Decency has gone so far to abolish virtue. Would to God
that a writer could be decent and honest! St. Paul counted it a
shame to speak of some things, and yet he did speak of them--because
those to whom he spoke did them.

Lord Rothie had, in five minutes, so deeply interested Mr. Lindsay
in a question of genealogy, that he begged his lordship to call
again in a few days, when he hoped to have some result of research
to communicate.

One of the antiquarian's weaknesses, cause and result both of his
favourite pursuits, was an excessive reverence for rank. Had its
claims been founded on mediated revelation, he could not have
honoured it more. Hence when he communicated to his daughter the
name of their visitor, it was 'with bated breath and whispering
humbleness,' which deepened greatly the impression made upon her by
the presence and conversation of the baron. Mysie was in danger.

Shargar was late that evening, for he had a job that detained him.
As he handed over his money to Robert, he said,

'I saw Black Geordie the nicht again, stan'in' at a back door, an'
Jock Mitchell, upo' Reid Rorie, haudin' him.'

'Wha's Jock Mitchell?' asked Robert.

'My brither Sandy's ill-faured groom,' answered Shargar. 'Whatever
mischeef Sandy's up till, Jock comes in i' the heid or tail o' 't.'

'I wonner what he's up till noo.'

'Faith! nae guid. But I aye like waur to meet Sandy by himsel' upo'
that reekit deevil o' his. Man, it's awfu' whan Black Geordie turns
the white o' 's ee, an' the white o' 's teeth upo' ye. It's a' the
white 'at there is about 'im.'

'Wasna yer brither i' the airmy, Shargar?'

'Ow, 'deed ay. They tell me he was at Watterloo. He's a cornel, or
something like that.'

'Wha tellt ye a' that?'

'My mither whiles,' answered Shargar.



Ericson was recovering slowly. He could sit up in bed the greater
part of the day, and talk about getting out of it. He was able to
give Robert an occasional help with his Greek, and to listen with
pleasure to his violin. The night-watching grew less needful, and
Ericson would have dispensed with it willingly, but Robert would not
yet consent.

But Ericson had seasons of great depression, during which he could
not away with music, or listen to the words of the New Testament.
During one of these Robert had begun to read a chapter to him, in
the faint hope that he might draw some comfort from it.

'Shut the book,' he said. 'If it were the word of God to men, it
would have brought its own proof with it.'

'Are ye sure it hasna?' asked Robert.

'No,' answered Ericson. 'But why should a fellow that would give his
life--that's not much, but it's all I've got--to believe in God, not
be able? Only I confess that God in the New Testament wouldn't
satisfy me. There's no help. I must just die, and go and
see.--She'll be left without anybody. 'What does it matter? She
would not mind a word I said. And the God they talk about will just
let her take her own way. He always does.'

He had closed his eyes and forgotten that Robert heard him. He
opened them now, and fixed them on him with an expression that
seemed to ask, 'Have I been saying anything I ought not?'

Robert knelt by the bedside, and said, slowly, with strongly
repressed emotion,

'Mr. Ericson, I sweir by God, gin there be ane, that gin ye dee,
I'll tak up what ye lea' ahin' ye. Gin there be onybody ye want
luikit efter, I'll luik efter her. I'll do what I can for her to
the best o' my abeelity, sae help me God--aye savin' what I maun do
for my ain father, gin he be in life, to fess (bring) him back to
the richt gait, gin there be a richt gait. Sae ye can think aboot
whether there's onything ye wad like to lippen till me.'

A something grew in Ericson's eyes as Robert spoke. Before he had
finished, they beamed on the boy.

'I think there must be a God somewhere after all,' he said, half
soliloquizing. 'I should be sorry you hadn't a God, Robert. Why
should I wish it for your sake? How could I want one for myself if
there never was one? If a God had nothing to do with my making, why
should I feel that nobody but God can set things right? Ah! but he
must be such a God as I could imagine--altogether, absolutely true
and good. If we came out of nothing, we could not invent the idea
of a God--could we, Robert? Nothing would be our God. If we come
from God, nothing is more natural, nothing so natural, as to want
him, and when we haven't got him, to try to find him.--What if he
should be in us after all, and working in us this way? just this
very way of crying out after him?'

'Mr. Ericson,' cried Robert, 'dinna say ony mair 'at ye dinna
believe in God. Ye duv believe in 'im--mair, I'm thinkin', nor
onybody 'at I ken, 'cep', maybe, my grannie--only hers is a some
queer kin' o' a God to believe in. I dinna think I cud ever manage
to believe in him mysel'.'

Ericson sighed and was silent. Robert remained kneeling by his
bedside, happier, clearer-headed, and more hopeful than he had ever
been. What if all was right at the heart of things--right, even as
a man, if he could understand, would say was right; right, so that a
man who understood in part could believe it to be ten times more
right than he did understand! Vaguely, dimly, yet joyfully, Robert
saw something like this in the possibility of things. His heart was
full, and the tears filled his eyes. Ericson spoke again.

'I have felt like that often for a few moments,' he said; 'but
always something would come and blow it away. I remember one spring
morning--but if you will bring me that bundle of papers, I will show
you what, if I can find it, will let you understand--'

Robert rose, went to the cupboard, and brought the pile of loose
leaves. Ericson turned them over, and, Robert was glad to see, now
and then sorted them a little. At length he drew out a sheet,
carelessly written, carelessly corrected, and hard to read.

'It is not finished, or likely to be,' he said, as he put the paper
in Robert's hand.

'Won't you read it to me yourself, Mr. Ericson?' suggested Robert.

'I would sooner put it in the fire,' he answered--'it's fate,
anyhow. I don't know why I haven't burnt them all long ago.
Rubbish, and diseased rubbish! Read it yourself, or leave it.'

Eagerly Robert took it, and read. The following was the best he
could make of it:

Oh that a wind would call
>From the depths of the leafless wood!
Oh that a voice would fall
On the ear of my solitude!
Far away is the sea,
With its sound and its spirit-tone:
Over it white clouds flee,
But I am alone, alone.

Straight and steady and tall
The trees stand on their feet;
Fast by the old stone wall
The moss grows green and sweet;
But my heart is full of fears,
For the sun shines far away;
And they look in my face through tears,
And the light of a dying day.

My heart was glad last night,
As I pressed it with my palm;
Its throb was airy and light
As it sang some spirit-psalm;
But it died away in my breast
As I wandered forth to-day--
As a bird sat dead on its nest,
While others sang on the spray.

O weary heart of mine,
Is there ever a truth for thee?
Will ever a sun outshine
But the sun that shines on me?
Away, away through the air
The clouds and the leaves are blown;
And my heart hath need of prayer,
For it sitteth alone, alone.

And Robert looked with sad reverence at Ericson,--nor ever thought
that there was one who, in the face of the fact, and in recognition
of it, had dared say, 'Not a sparrow shall fall on the ground
without your Father.' The sparrow does fall--but he who sees it is
yet the Father.

And we know only the fall, and not the sparrow.



The next day was Sunday. Robert sat, after breakfast, by his
friend's bed.

'You haven't been to church for a long time, Robert: wouldn't you
like to go to-day?' said Ericson.

'I dinna want to lea' you, Mr. Ericson; I can bide wi' ye a' day the
day, an' that's better nor goin' to a' the kirks in Aberdeen.'

'I should like you to go to-day, though; and see if, after all,
there may not be a message for us. If the church be the house of
God, as they call it, there should be, now and then at least, some
sign of a pillar of fire about it, some indication of the presence
of God whose house it is. I wish you would go and see. I haven't
been to church for a long time, except to the college-chapel, and I
never saw anything more than a fog there.'

'Michtna the fog be the torn-edge like, o' the cloody pillar?'
suggested Robert.

'Very likely,' assented Ericson; 'for, whatever truth there may be
in Christianity, I'm pretty sure the mass of our clergy have never
got beyond Judaism. They hang on about the skirts of that cloud for

'Ye see, they think as lang 's they see the fog, they hae a grup o'
something. But they canna get a grup o' the glory that excelleth,
for it's not to luik at, but to lat ye see a' thing.'

Ericson regarded him with some surprise. Robert hastened to be

'It's no that I ken onything aboot it, Mr. Ericson. I was only
bletherin' (talking nonsense)--rizzonin' frae the twa symbols o' the
cloud an' the fire--kennin' nothing aboot the thing itsel'. I'll
awa' to the kirk, an' see what it's like. Will I gie ye a buik
afore I gang?'

'No, thank you. I'll just lie quiet till you come back--if I can.'

Robert instructed Shargar to watch for the slightest sound from the
sick-room, and went to church.

As he approached the granite cathedral, the only one in the world, I
presume, its stern solidity, so like the country and its men, laid
hold of his imagination for the first time. No doubt the necessity
imposed by the unyielding material had its share, and that a large
one, in the character of the building: whence else that simplest of
west windows, seven lofty, narrow slits of light, parted by granite
shafts of equal width, filling the space between the corner
buttresses of the nave, and reaching from door to roof? whence else
the absence of tracery in the windows--except the severely gracious
curves into which the mullions divide?--But this cause could not
have determined those towers, so strong that they might have borne
their granite weight soaring aloft, yet content with the depth of
their foundation, and aspiring not. The whole aspect of the
building is an outcome, an absolute blossom of the northern nature.

There is but the nave of the church remaining. About 1680, more
than a century after the Reformation, the great tower fell,
destroying the choir, chancel, and transept, which have never been
rebuilt. May the reviving faith of the nation in its own history,
and God at the heart of it, lead to the restoration of this grand
old monument of the belief of their fathers. Deformed as the
interior then was with galleries, and with Gavin Dunbar's flat
ceiling, an awe fell upon Robert as he entered it. When in after
years he looked down from between the pillars of the gallery, that
creeps round the church through the thickness of the wall, like an
artery, and recalled the service of this Sunday morning, he felt
more strongly than ever that such a faith had not reared that
cathedral. The service was like the church only as a dead body is
like a man. There was no fervour in it, no aspiration. The great
central tower was gone.

That morning prayers and sermon were philosophically dull, and
respectable as any after-dinner speech. Nor could it well be
otherwise: one of the favourite sayings of its minister was, that a
clergyman is nothing but a moral policeman. As such, however, he
more resembled one of Dogberry's watch. He could not even preach
hell with any vigour; for as a gentleman he recoiled from the
vulgarity of the doctrine, yielding only a few feeble words on the
subject as a sop to the Cerberus that watches over the dues of the
Bible--quite unaware that his notion of the doctrine had been drawn
from the neid, and not from the Bible.

'Well, have you got anything, Robert?' asked Ericson, as he entered
his room.

'Nothing,' answered Robert.

'What was the sermon about?'

'It was all to prove that God is a benevolent being.'

'Not a devil, that is,' answered Ericson. 'Small consolation that.'

'Sma' eneuch,' responded Robert. 'I cudna help thinkin' I kent mony
a tyke (dog) that God had made wi' mair o' what I wad ca' the divine
natur' in him nor a' that Dr. Soulis made oot to be in God himsel'.
He had no ill intentions wi' us--it amuntit to that. He wasna
ill-willy, as the bairns say. But the doctor had some sair wark, I
thoucht, to mak that oot, seein' we war a' the children o' wrath,
accordin' to him, born in sin, and inheritin' the guilt o' Adam's
first trespass. I dinna think Dr. Soulis cud say that God had dune
the best he cud for 's. But he never tried to say onything like
that. He jist made oot that he was a verra respectable kin' o' a
God, though maybe no a'thing we micht wuss. We oucht to be thankfu'
that he gae's a wee blink o' a chance o' no bein' brunt to a'
eternity, wi' nae chance ava. I dinna say that he said that, but
that's what it a' seemed to me to come till. He said a hantle aboot
the care o' Providence, but a' the gude that he did seemed to me to
be but a haudin' aff o' something ill that he had made as weel. Ye
wad hae thocht the deevil had made the warl', and syne God had
pitten us intil 't, and jist gied a bit wag o' 's han' whiles to
haud the deevil aff o' 's whan he was like to destroy the breed
a'thegither. For the grace that he spak aboot, that was less nor
the nature an' the providence. I cud see unco little o' grace intil

Here Ericson broke in--fearful, apparently, lest his boyfriend
should be actually about to deny the God in whom he did not himself

'Robert,' he said solemnly, 'one thing is certain: if there be a God
at all, he is not like that. If there be a God at all, we shall
know him by his perfection--his grand perfect truth, fairness,
love--a love to make life an absolute good--not a mere accommodation
of difficulties, not a mere preponderance of the balance on the side
of well-being. Love only could have been able to create. But they
don't seem jealous for the glory of God, those men. They don't mind
a speck, or even a blot, here and there upon him. The world doesn't
make them miserable. They can get over the misery of their
fellow-men without being troubled about them, or about the God that
could let such things be.7 They represent a God who does wonderfully
well, on the whole, after a middling fashion. I want a God who
loves perfectly. He may kill; he may torture even; but if it be for
love's sake, Lord, here am I. Do with me as thou wilt.'

Had Ericson forgotten that he had no proof of such a God? The next
moment the intellectual demon was awake.

'But what's the good of it all?' he said. 'I don't even know that
there is anything outside of me.'

'Ye ken that I'm here, Mr. Ericson,' suggested Robert.

'I know nothing of the sort. You may be another phantom--only

'Ye speik to me as gin ye thocht me somebody.'

'So does the man to his phantoms, and you call him mad. It is but a
yielding to the pressure of constant suggestion. I do not know--I
cannot know if there is anything outside of me.'

'But gin there warna, there wad be naebody for ye to love, Mr.

'Of course not.'

'Nor naebody to love you, Mr. Ericson.'

'Of course not.'

'Syne ye wad be yer ain God, Mr. Ericson.'

'Yes. That would follow.'

'I canna imagine a waur hell--closed in amo' naething--wi' naething
a' aboot ye, luikin' something a' the time--kennin' 'at it 's a' a
lee, and nae able to win clear o' 't.'

'It is hell, my boy, or anything worse you can call it.'

'What for suld ye believe that, than, Mr. Ericson? I wadna believe
sic an ill thing as that. I dinna think I cud believe 't, gin ye
war to pruv 't to me.'

'I don't believe it. Nobody could prove that either, even if it
were so. I am only miserable that I can't prove the contrary.'

'Suppose there war a God, Mr. Ericson, do ye think ye bude (behoved)
to be able to pruv that? Do ye think God cud stan' to be pruved as
gin he war something sma' eneuch to be turned roon' and roon', and
luikit at upo' ilka side? Gin there war a God, wadna it jist be
sae--that we cudna prove him to be, I mean?'

'Perhaps. That is something. I have often thought of that. But
then you can't prove anything about it.'

'I canna help thinkin' o' what Mr. Innes said to me ance. I was but
a laddie, but I never forgot it. I plaguit him sair wi' wantin' to
unnerstan' ilka thing afore I wad gang on wi' my questons (sums).
Says he, ae day, "Robert, my man, gin ye will aye unnerstan' afore
ye du as ye're tellt, ye'll never unnerstan' onything. But gin ye
du the thing I tell ye, ye'll be i' the mids o' 't afore ye ken 'at
ye're gaein' intil 't." I jist thocht I wad try him. It was at
lang division that I boglet maist. Weel, I gaed on, and I cud du
the thing weel eneuch, ohn made ae mistak. And aye I thocht the
maister was wrang, for I never kent the rizzon o' a' that beginnin'
at the wrang en', an' takin' doon an' substrackin', an' a' that. Ye
wad hardly believe me, Mr. Ericson: it was only this verra day, as I
was sittin' i' the kirk--it was a lang psalm they war singin'--that
ane wi' the foxes i' the tail o' 't--lang division came into my heid
again; and first aye bit glimmerin' o' licht cam in, and syne
anither, an' afore the psalm was dune I saw throu' the haill process
o' 't. But ye see, gin I hadna dune as I was tauld, and learnt a'
aboot hoo it was dune aforehan', I wad hae had naething to gang
rizzonin' aboot, an' wad hae fun' oot naething.'

'That's good, Robert. But when a man is dying for food, he can't

'He micht try to get up and luik, though. He needna bide in 's bed
till somebody comes an' sweirs till him 'at he saw a haddie
(haddock) i' the press.'

'I have been looking, Robert--for years.'

'Maybe, like me, only for the rizzon o' 't, Mr. Ericson--gin ye'll
forgie my impidence.'

'But what's to be done in this case, Robert? Where's the work that
you can do in order to understand? Where's your long division,

'Ye're ayont me noo. I canna tell that, Mr. Ericson. It canna be
gaein' to the kirk, surely. Maybe it micht be sayin' yer prayers
and readin' yer Bible.'

Ericson did not reply, and the conversation dropped. Is it strange
that neither of these disciples should have thought of turning to
the story of Jesus, finding some word that he had spoken, and
beginning to do that as a first step towards a knowledge of the
doctrine that Jesus was the incarnate God, come to visit his
people--a very unlikely thing to man's wisdom, yet an idea that has
notwithstanding ascended above man's horizon, and shown itself the
grandest idea in his firmament?

In the evening Ericson asked again for his papers, from which he
handed Robert the following poem:--


I woke at midnight, and my heart,
My beating heart said this to me:
Thou seest the moon how calm and bright
The world is fair by day and night,
But what is that to thee?
One touch to me--down dips the light
Over the land and sea.
All is mine, all is my own!
Toss the purple fountain high!
The breast of man is a vat of stone;
I am alive, I, only I!

One little touch and all is dark;
The winter with its sparkling moons
The spring with all her violets,
The crimson dawns and rich sunsets,
The autumn's yellowing noons.
I only toss my purple jets,
And thou art one that swoons
Upon a night of gust and roar,
Shipwrecked among the waves, and seems
Across the purple hills to roam;
Sweet odours touch him from the foam,
And downward sinking still he dreams
He walks the clover field at home,
And hears the rattling teams.
All is mine; all is my own!
Toss the purple fountain high!
The breast of man is a vat of stone;
I am alive, I, only I!

Thou hast beheld a throated fountain spout
Full in the air, and in the downward spray
A hovering Iris span the marble tank,
Which as the wind came, ever rose and sank
Violet and red; so my continual play
Makes beauty for the Gods with many a prank
Of human excellence, while they,
Weary of all the noon, in shadows sweet
Supine and heavy-eyed rest in the boundless heat:
Let the world's fountain play!
Beauty is pleasant in the eyes of Jove;
Betwixt the wavering shadows where he lies
He marks the dancing column with his eyes
Celestial, and amid his inmost grove
Upgathers all his limbs, serenely blest,
Lulled by the mellow noise of the great world's unrest.

One heart beats in all nature, differing
But in the work it works; its doubts and clamours
Are but the waste and brunt of instruments
Wherewith a work is done; or as the hammers
On forge Cyclopean plied beneath the rents
Of lowest Etna, conquering into shape
The hard and scattered ore:
Choose thou narcotics, and the dizzy grape
Outworking passion, lest with horrid crash
Thy life go from thee in a night of pain.
So tutoring thy vision, shall the flash
Of dove white-breasted be to thee no more
Than a white stone heavy upon the plain.

Hark the cock crows loud!
And without, all ghastly and ill,
Like a man uplift in his shroud,
The white white morn is propped on the hill;
And adown from the eaves, pointed and chill,
The icicles 'gin to glitter;
And the birds with a warble short and shrill,
Pass by the chamber-window still--
With a quick uneasy twitter.
Let me pump warm blood, for the cold is bitter;
And wearily, wearily, one by one,
Men awake with the weary sun.

Life is a phantom shut in thee;
I am the master and keep the key;
So let me toss thee the days of old,
Crimson and orange and green and gold;
So let me fill thee yet again
With a rush of dreams from my spout amain;
For all is mine; all is my own;
Toss the purple fountain high!
The breast of man is a vat of stone;
And I am alive, I, only I.

Robert having read, sat and wept in silence. Ericson saw him, and
said tenderly,

'Robert, my boy, I'm not always so bad as that. Read this
one--though I never feel like it now. Perhaps it may come again
some day, though. I may once more deceive myself and be happy.'

'Dinna say that, Mr. Ericson. That's waur than despair. That's
flat unbelief. Ye no more ken that ye're deceivin' yersel' than ye
ken that ye're no doin' 't.'

Ericson did not reply; and Robert read the following sonnet aloud,
feeling his way delicately through its mazes:--

Lie down upon the ground, thou hopeless one!
Press thy face in the grass, and do not speak.
Dost feel the green globe whirl? Seven times a week
Climbeth she out of darkness to the sun,
Which is her god; seven times she doth not shun
Awful eclipse, laying her patient cheek
Upon a pillow ghost-beset with shriek
Of voices utterless which rave and run
Through all the star-penumbra, craving light
And tidings of the dawn from East and West.
Calmly she sleepeth, and her sleep is blest
With heavenly visions, and the joy of Night
Treading aloft with moons. Nor hath she fright
Though cloudy tempests beat upon her breast.

Ericson turned his face to the wall, and Robert withdrew to his own



Not many weeks passed before Shargar knew Aberdeen better than most
Aberdonians. From the Pier-head to the Rubislaw Road, he knew, if
not every court, yet every thoroughfare and short cut. And Aberdeen
began to know him. He was very soon recognized as trustworthy, and
had pretty nearly as much to do as he could manage. Shargar,
therefore, was all over the city like a cracker, and could have told
at almost any hour where Dr. Anderson was to be found--generally in
the lower parts of it, for the good man visited much among the poor;
giving them almost exclusively the benefit of his large experience.
Shargar delighted in keeping an eye upon the doctor, carefully
avoiding to show himself.

One day as he was hurrying through the Green (a non virendo) on a
mission from the Rothieden carrier, he came upon the doctor's
chariot standing in one of the narrowest streets, and, as usual,
paused to contemplate the equipage and get a peep of the owner. The
morning was very sharp. There was no snow, but a cold fog, like
vaporized hoar-frost, filled the air. It was weather in which the
East Indian could not venture out on foot, else he could have
reached the place by a stair from Union Street far sooner than he
could drive thither. His horses apparently liked the cold as little
as himself. They had been moving about restlessly for some time
before the doctor made his appearance. The moment he got in and
shut the door, one of them reared, while the other began to haul on
his traces, eager for a gallop. Something about the chain gave way,
the pole swerved round under the rearing horse, and great confusion
and danger would have ensued, had not Shargar rushed from his coign
of vantage, sprung at the bit of the rearing horse, and dragged him
off the pole, over which he was just casting his near leg. As soon
as his feet touched the ground he too pulled, and away went the
chariot and down went Shargar. But in a moment more several men had
laid hold of the horses' heads, and stopped them.

'Oh Lord!' cried Shargar, as he rose with his arm dangling by his
side, 'what will Donal' Joss say? I'm like to swarf (faint). Haud
awa' frae that basket, ye wuddyfous (withy-fowls, gallows-birds),'
he cried, darting towards the hamper he had left in the entry of a
court, round which a few ragged urchins had gathered; but just as he
reached it he staggered and fell. Nor did he know anything more
till he found the carriage stopping with himself and the hamper
inside it.

As soon as the coachman had got his harness put to rights, the
doctor had driven back to see how the lad had fared, for he had felt
the carriage go over something. They had found him lying beside his
hamper, had secured both, and as a preliminary measure were
proceeding to deliver the latter.

'Whaur am I? whaur the deevil am I?' cried Shargar, jumping up and
falling back again.

'Don't you know me, Moray?' said the doctor, for he felt shy of
calling the poor boy by his nickname: he had no right to do so.

'Na, I dinna ken ye. Lat me awa'.--I beg yer pardon, doctor: I
thocht ye was ane o' thae wuddyfous rinnin' awa' wi' Donal' Joss's
basket. Eh me! sic a stoun' i' my airm! But naebody ca's me Moray.
They a' ca' me Shargar. What richt hae I to be ca'd Moray?' added
the poor boy, feeling, I almost believe for the first time, the
stain upon his birth. Yet ye had as good a right before God to be
called Moray as any other son of that worthy sire, the Baron of
Rothie included. Possibly the trumpet-blowing angels did call him
Moray, or some better name.

'The coachman will deliver your parcel, Moray,' said the doctor,
this time repeating the name with emphasis.

'Deil a bit o' 't!' cried Shargar. 'He daurna lea' his box wi' thae
deevils o' horses. What gars he keep sic horses, doctor? They'll
play some mischeef some day.'

'Indeed, they've played enough already, my poor boy. They've broken
your arm.'

'Never min' that. That's no muckle. Ye're welcome, doctor, to my
twa airms for what ye hae dune for Robert an' that lang-leggit
frien' o' his--the Lord forgie me--Mr. Ericson. But ye maun jist
pay him what I canna mak for a day or twa, till 't jines again--to
haud them gaein', ye ken.--It winna be muckle to you, doctor,' added
Shargar, beseechingly.

'Trust me for that, Moray,' returned Dr. Anderson. 'I owe you a good
deal more than that. My brains might have been out by this time.'

'The Lord be praised!' said Shargar, making about his first
profession of Christianity. 'Robert 'ill think something o' me noo.'

During this conversation the coachman sat expecting some one to
appear from the shop, and longing to pitch into the 'camstary'
horse, but not daring to lift his whip beyond its natural angle. No
one came. All at once Shargar knew where he was.

'Guid be here! we're at Donal's door! Guid day to ye, doctor; an'
I'm muckle obleeged to ye. Maybe, gin ye war comin' oor gait, the
morn, or the neist day, to see Maister Ericson, ye wad tie up my
airm, for it gangs wallopin' aboot, an' that canna be guid for the
stickin' o' 't thegither again.'

'My poor boy! you don't think I'm going to leave you here, do you?'
said the doctor, proceeding to open the carriage-door.

'But whaur's the hamper?' said Shargar, looking about him in dismay.

'The coachman has got it on the box,' answered the doctor.

'Eh! that'll never do. Gin thae rampaugin' brutes war to tak a
start again, what wad come o' the bit basket? I maun get it doon

'Sit still. I will get it down, and deliver it myself.' As he
spoke the doctor got out.

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