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Robert Falconer by George MacDonald

Part 8 out of 13

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do that.'

'Yes; but I have some notion of what it's about, I think. Just lend
it to me; and by the time we have our next lesson, you will see
whether I'm not able to show you I understand it. I shall take good
care of it,' she added, with a smile, seeing Robert's reluctance to
part with it. 'It doesn't matter my having it, you know, now that
you've read it to me, I want to make you do it justice.--But it's
quite time I were going home. Besides, I really don't think you can
see to read any more.'

'Weel, it's better no to try, though I hae them maistly upo' my
tongue: I might blunder, and that wad blaud them.--Will you let me
go home with you?' he added, in pure tremulous English.

'Certainly, if you like,' she answered; and they walked towards the

Robert opened the fountain of his love for Ericson, and let it gush
like a river from a hillside. He talked on and on about him, with
admiration, gratitude, devotion. And Miss St. John was glad of the
veil of the twilight over her face as she listened, for the boy's
enthusiasm trembled through her as the wind through an olian harp.
Poor Robert! He did not know, I say, what he was doing, and so was
fulfilling his sacred destiny.

'Bring your manuscripts when you come next,' she said, as they
walked along--gently adding, 'I admire your friend's verses very
much, and should like to hear more of them.'

'I'll be sure an' do that,' answered Robert, in delight that he had
found one to sympathize with him in his worship of Ericson, and that
one his other idol.

When they reached the town, Miss St. John, calling to mind its
natural propensity to gossip, especially on the evening of a
market-day, when the shopkeepers, their labours over, would be
standing in a speculative mood at their doors, surrounded by groups
of friends and neighbours, felt shy of showing herself on the square
with Robert, and proposed that they should part, giving as a
by-the-bye reason that she had a little shopping to do as she went
home. Too simple to suspect the real reason, but with a heart that
delighted in obedience, Robert bade her good-night at once, and took
another way.

As he passed the door of Merson the haberdasher's shop, there stood
William MacGregor, the weaver, looking at nothing and doing nothing.
We have seen something of him before: he was a remarkable compound
of good nature and bad temper. People were generally afraid of him,
because he had a biting satire at his command, amounting even to
wit, which found vent in verse--not altogether despicable even from
a literary point of view. The only person he, on his part, was
afraid of, was his own wife; for upon her, from lack of
apprehension, his keenest irony fell, as he said, like water on a
duck's back, and in respect of her he had, therefore, no weapon of
offence to strike terror withal. Her dulness was her defence. He
liked Robert. When he saw him, he wakened up, laid hold of him by
the button, and drew him in.

'Come in, lad,' he said, 'an' tak a pinch. I'm waitin' for Merson.'
As he spoke he took from his pocket his mull, made of the end of a
ram's horn, and presented it to Robert, who accepted the pledge of
friendship. While he was partaking, MacGregor drew himself with
some effort upon the counter, saying in a half-comical,
half-admonitory tone,

'Weel, and hoo's the mathematics, Robert?'

'Thrivin',' answered Robert, falling into his humour.

'Weel, that's verra weel. Duv ye min', Robert, hoo, whan ye was
aboot the age o' aucht year aul', ye cam to me ance at my shop aboot
something yer gran'mither, honest woman, wantit, an' I, by way o'
takin' my fun o' ye, said to ye, "Robert, ye hae grown desperate;
ye're a man clean; ye hae gotten the breeks on." An' says ye, "Ay,
Mr. MacGregor, I want naething noo but a watch an' a wife"?'

'I doobt I've forgotten a' aboot it, Mr. MacGregor,' answered
Robert. 'But I've made some progress, accordin' to your story, for
Dr. Anderson, afore I cam hame, gae me a watch. An' a fine crater
it is, for it aye does its best, an' sae I excuse its shortcomin's.'

'There's just ae thing, an' nae anither,' returned the manufacturer,
'that I cannot excuse in a watch. Gin a watch gangs ower fest, ye
fin' 't oot. Gin she gangs ower slow, ye fin' 't oot, an' ye can
aye calculate upo' 't correck eneuch for maitters sublunairy, as Mr.
Maccleary says. An' gin a watch stops a'thegither, ye ken it's
failin', an' ye ken whaur it sticks, an' a' 'at ye say 's "Tut, tut,
de'il hae 't for a watch!" But there's ae thing that God nor man
canna bide in a watch, an' that's whan it stan's still for a
bittock, an' syne gangs on again. Ay, ay! tic, tic, tic! wi' a fair
face and a leein' hert. It wad gar ye believe it was a' richt, and
time for anither tum'ler, whan it's twal o'clock, an' the kirkyaird
fowk thinkin' aboot risin'. Fegs, I had a watch o' my father's, an'
I regairdit it wi' a reverence mair like a human bein': the second
time it played me that pliskie, I dang oot its guts upo' the
loupin'-on-stane at the door o' the chop. But lat the watch sit:
whaur's the wife? Ye canna be a man yet wantin' the wife--by yer
ain statement.'

'The watch cam unsoucht, Mr. MacGregor, an' I'm thinkin' sae maun
the wife,' answered Robert, laughing.

'Preserve me for ane frae a wife that comes unsoucht,' returned the
weaver. 'But, my lad, there may be some wives that winna come whan
they are soucht. Preserve me frae them too!--Noo, maybe ye dinna
ken what I mean--but tak ye tent what ye're aboot. Dinna ye think
'at ilka bonnie lass 'at may like to haud a wark wi' ye 's jist
ready to mairry ye aff han' whan ye say, "Noo, my dawtie."--An' ae
word mair, Robert: Young men, especially braw lads like yersel', 's
unco ready to fa' in love wi' women fit to be their mithers. An'
sae ye see--'

He was interrupted by the entrance of a girl. She had a shawl over
her head, notwithstanding it was summer weather, and crept in
hesitatingly, as if she were not quite at one with herself as to her
coming purchase. Approaching a boy behind the counter on the
opposite side of the shop, she asked for something, and he proceeded
to serve her. Robert could not help thinking, from the one glimpse
of her face he had got through the dusk, that he had seen her
before. Suddenly the vision of an earthen floor with a pool of
brown sunlight upon it, bare feet, brown hair, and soft eyes,
mingled with a musk odour wafted from Arabian fairyland, rose before
him: it was Jessie Hewson.

'I ken that lassie,' he said, and moved to get down from the counter
on which he too had seated himself.

'Na, na,' whispered the manufacturer, laying, like the Ancient
Mariner, a brown skinny hand of restraint upon Robert's arm--'na,
na, never heed her. Ye maunna speyk to ilka lass 'at ye ken.--Poor
thing! she's been doin' something wrang, to gang slinkin' aboot i'
the gloamin' like a baukie (bat), wi' her plaid ower her heid.
Dinna fash wi' her.'

'Nonsense!' returned Robert, with indignation. 'What for shouldna I
speik till her? She's a decent lassie--a dochter o' James Hewson,
the cottar at Bodyfauld. I ken her fine.'

He said this in a whisper; but the girl seemed to hear it, for she
left the shop with a perturbation which the dimness of the late
twilight could not conceal. Robert hesitated no longer, but
followed her, heedless of the louder expostulations of MacGregor.
She was speeding away down the street, but he took longer strides
than she, and was almost up with her, when she drew her shawl closer
about her head, and increased her pace.

'Jessie!' said Robert, in a tone of expostulation. But she made no
answer. Her head sunk lower on her bosom, and she hurried yet
faster. He gave a long stride or two and laid his hand on her
shoulder. She stood still, trembling.

'Jessie, dinna ye ken me--Robert Faukner? Dinna be feart at me.
What's the maitter wi' ye, 'at ye winna speik till a body? Hoo's
a' the fowk at hame?'

She burst out crying, cast one look into Robert's face, and fled.
What a change was in that face? The peach-colour was gone from her
cheek; it was pale and thin. Her eyes were hollow, with dark
shadows under them, the shadows of a sad sunset. A foreboding of
the truth arose in his heart, and the tears rushed up into his eyes.
The next moment the eidolon of Mary St. John, moving gracious and
strong, clothed in worship and the dignity which is its own defence,
appeared beside that of Jessie Hewson, her bowed head shaken with
sobs, and her weak limbs urged to ungraceful flight. As if walking
in the vision of an eternal truth, he went straight to Captain
Forsyth's door.

'I want to speak to Miss St. John, Isie,' said Robert.

'She'll be doon in a minit.'

'But isna yer mistress i' the drawin'-room?--I dinna want to see

'Ow, weel,' said the girl, who was almost fresh from the country,
'jist rin up the stair, an' chap at the door o' her room.'

With the simplicity of a child, for what a girl told him to do must
be right, Robert sped up the stair, his heart going like a
fire-engine. He had never approached Mary's room from this side,
but instinct or something else led him straight to her door. He

'Come in,' she said, never doubting it was the maid, and Robert

She was brushing her hair by the light of a chamber candle. Robert
was seized with awe, and his limbs trembled. He could have kneeled
before her--not to beg forgiveness, he did not think of that--but to
worship, as a man may worship a woman. It is only a strong, pure
heart like Robert's that ever can feel all the inroad of the divine
mystery of womanhood. But he did not kneel. He had a duty to
perform. A flush rose in Miss St. John's face, and sank away,
leaving it pale. It was not that she thought once of her own
condition, with her hair loose on her shoulders, but, able only to
conjecture what had brought him thither, she could not but regard
Robert's presence with dismay. She stood with her ivory brush in
her right hand uplifted, and a great handful of hair in her left.
She was soon relieved, however, although what with his contemplated
intercession, the dim vision of Mary's lovely face between the
masses of her hair, and the lavender odour that filled the
room--perhaps also a faint suspicion of impropriety sufficient to
give force to the rest--Robert was thrown back into the abyss of his
mother-tongue, and out of this abyss talked like a Behemoth.

'Robert!' said Mary, in a tone which, had he not been so eager after
his end, he might have interpreted as one of displeasure.

'Ye maun hearken till me, mem.--Whan I was oot at Bodyfauld,' he
began methodically, and Mary, bewildered, gave one hasty brush to
her handful of hair and again stood still: she could imagine no
connection between this meeting and their late parting--'Whan I was
was oot at Bodyfauld ae simmer, I grew acquant wi' a bonnie lassie
there, the dochter o' Jeames Hewson, an honest cottar, wi'
Shakspeare an' the Arabian Nichts upo' a skelf i' the hoose wi' 'im.
I gaed in ae day whan I wasna weel; an' she jist ministert to me,
as nane ever did but yersel', mem. An' she was that kin' an'
mither-like to the wee bit greitin' bairnie 'at she had to tak care
o' 'cause her mither was oot wi' the lave shearin'! Her face was
jist like a simmer day, an' weel I likit the luik o' the lassie!--I
met her again the nicht. Ye never saw sic a change. A white face,
an' nothing but greitin' to come oot o' her. She ran frae me as gin
I had been the de'il himsel'. An' the thocht o' you, sae bonnie an'
straucht an' gran', cam ower me.'

Yielding to a masterful impulse, Robert did kneel now. As if
sinner, and not mediator, he pressed the hem of her garment to his

'Dinna be angry at me, Miss St. John,' he pleaded, 'but be mercifu'
to the lassie. Wha's to help her that can no more luik a man i' the
face, but the clear-e'ed lass that wad luik the sun himsel' oot o'
the lift gin he daured to say a word against her. It's ae woman
that can uphaud anither. Ye ken what I mean, an' I needna say

He rose and turned to leave the room.

Bewildered and doubtful, Miss St. John did not know what to answer,
but felt that she must make some reply.

'You haven't told me where to find the girl, or what you want me to
do with her.'

'I'll fin' oot whaur she bides,' he said, moving again towards the

'But what am I to do with her, Robert?'

'That's your pairt. Ye maun fin' oot what to do wi' her. I canna
tell ye that. But gin I was you, I wad gie her a kiss to begin wi'.
She's nane o' yer brazen-faced hizzies, yon. A kiss wad be the
savin' o' her.'

'But you may be--. But I have nothing to go upon. She would resent
my interference.'

'She's past resentin' onything. She was gaein' aboot the toon like
ane o' the deid 'at hae naething to say to onybody, an' naebody
onything to say to them. Gin she gangs on like that she'll no be
alive lang.'

That night Jessie Hewson disappeared. A mile or two up the river
under a high bank, from which the main current had receded, lay an
awful, swampy place--full of reeds, except in the middle where was
one round space full of dark water and mud. Near this Jessie Hewson
was seen about an hour after Robert had thus pled for her with his

The event made a deep impression upon Robert. The last time that he
saw them, James and his wife were as cheerful as usual, and gave him
a hearty welcome. Jessie was in service, and doing well, they said.
The next time he opened the door of the cottage it was like the
entrance to a haunted tomb. Not a smile was in the place. James's
cheeriness was all gone. He was sitting at the table with his head
leaning on his hand. His Bible was open before him, but he was not
reading a word. His wife was moving listlessly about. They looked
just as Jessie had looked that night--as if they had died long ago,
but somehow or other could not get into their graves and be at rest.
The child Jessie had nursed with such care was toddling about,
looking rueful with loss. George had gone to America, and the whole
of that family's joy had vanished from the earth.

The subject was not resumed between Miss St. John and Robert. The
next time he saw her, he knew by her pale troubled face that she had
heard the report that filled the town; and she knew by his silence
that it had indeed reference to the same girl of whom he had spoken
to her. The music would not go right that evening. Mary was
distraite, and Robert was troubled. It was a week or two before
there came a change. When the turn did come, over his being love
rushed up like a spring-tide from the ocean of the Infinite.

He was accompanying her piano with his violin. He made blunders,
and her playing was out of heart. They stopped as by consent, and a
moment's silence followed. All at once she broke out with something
Robert had never heard before. He soon found that it was a fantasy
upon Ericson's poem. Ever through a troubled harmony ran a silver
thread of melody from far away. It was the caverns drinking from
the tempest overhead, the grasses growing under the snow, the stars
making music with the dark, the streams filling the night with the
sounds the day had quenched, the whispering call of the dreams left
behind in 'the fields of sleep,'--in a word, the central life
pulsing in aeonian peace through the outer ephemeral storms. At
length her voice took up the theme. The silvery thread became song,
and through all the opposing, supporting harmonies she led it to the
solution of a close in which the only sorrow was in the music
itself, for its very life is an 'endless ending.' She found Robert
kneeling by her side. As she turned from the instrument his head
drooped over her knee. She laid her hand on his clustering curls,
bethought herself, and left the room. Robert wandered out as in a
dream. At midnight he found himself on a solitary hill-top, seated
in the heather, with a few tiny fir-trees about him, and the sounds
of a wind, ethereal as the stars overhead, flowing through their
branches: he heard the sound of it, but it did not touch him.

Where was God?

In him and his question.



If Mary St. John had been an ordinary woman, and if,
notwithstanding, Robert had been in love with her, he would have
done very little in preparation for the coming session. But
although she now possessed him, although at times he only knew
himself as loving her, there was such a mountain air of calm about
her, such an outgoing divinity of peace, such a largely moulded
harmony of being, that he could not love her otherwise than grandly.
For her sake, weary with loving her, he would yet turn to his work,
and, to be worthy of her, or rather, for he never dreamed of being
worthy of her, to be worthy of leave to love her, would forget her
enough to lay hold of some abstract truth of lines, angles, or
symbols. A strange way of being in love, reader? You think so? I
would there were more love like it: the world would be centuries
nearer its redemption if a millionth part of the love in it were of
the sort. All I insist, however, on my reader's believing is, that
it showed, in a youth like Robert, not less but more love that he
could go against love's sweetness for the sake of love's greatness.
Literally, not figuratively, Robert would kiss the place where her
foot had trod; but I know that once he rose from such a kiss 'to
trace the hyperbola by means of a string.'

It had been arranged between Ericson and Robert, in Miss Napier's
parlour, the old lady knitting beside, that Ericson should start, if
possible, a week earlier than usual, and spend the difference with
Robert at Rothieden. But then the old lady had opened her mouth and
spoken. And I firmly believe, though little sign of tenderness
passed between them, it was with an elder sister's feeling for
Letty's admiration of the 'lan'less laird,' that she said as

'Dinna ye think, Mr. Ericson, it wad be but fair to come to us neist
time? Mistress Faukner, honest lady, an' lang hae I kent her, 's no
sae auld a frien' to you, Mr. Ericson, as oorsel's--nae offence to
her, ye ken. A'body canna be frien's to a'body, ane as lang 's
anither, ye ken.'

''Deed I maun alloo, Miss Naper,' interposed Robert, 'it's only
fair. Ye see, Mr. Ericson, I cud see as muckle o' ye almost, the
tae way as the tither. Miss Naper maks me welcome as weel's you.'

'An' I will mak ye welcome, Robert, as lang's ye're a gude lad, as
ye are, and gang na efter--nae ill gait. But lat me hear o' yer
doin' as sae mony young gentlemen do, espeacially whan they're ta'en
up by their rich relations, an', public-hoose as this is, I'll close
the door o' 't i' yer face.'

'Bless me, Miss Naper!' said Robert, 'what hae I dune to set ye at
me that gait? Faith, I dinna ken what ye mean.'

'Nae mair do I, laddie. I hae naething against ye whatever. Only
ye see auld fowk luiks aheid, an' wad fain be as sure o' what's to
come as o' what's gane.'

'Ye maun bide for that, I doobt,' said Robert.

'Laddie,' retorted Miss Napier, 'ye hae mair sense nor ye hae ony
richt till. Haud the tongue o' ye. Mr. Ericson 's to come here

And the old lady laughed such good humour into her stocking-sole,
that the foot destined to wear it ought never to have been cold
while it lasted. So it was then settled; and a week before Robert
was to start for Aberdeen, Ericson walked into The Boar's Head.
Half-an-hour after that, Crookit Caumill was shown into the
ga'le-room with the message to Maister Robert that Maister Ericson
was come, and wanted to see him.

Robert pitched Hutton's Mathematics into the grate, sprung to his
feet, all but embraced Crookit Caumill on the spot, and was deterred
only by the perturbed look the man wore. Crookit Caumill was a very
human creature, and hadn't a fault but the drink, Miss Napier said.
And very little of that he would have had if she had been as active
as she was willing.

'What's the maitter, Caumill?' asked Robert, in considerable alarm.

'Ow, naething, sir,' returned Campbell.

'What gars ye look like that, than?' insisted Robert.

'Ow, naething. But whan Miss Letty cried doon the close upo' me,
she had her awpron till her een, an' I thocht something bude to be
wrang; but I hadna the hert to speir.'

Robert darted to the door, and rushed to the inn, leaving Caumill
describing iambi on the road behind him.

When he reached The Boar's Head there was nobody to be seen. He
darted up the stair to the room where he had first waited upon

Three or four maids stood at the door. He asked no question, but
went in, a dreadful fear at his heart. Two of the sisters and Dr.
Gow stood by the bed.

Ericson lay upon it, clear-eyed, and still. His cheek was flushed.
The doctor looked round as Robert entered.

'Robert,' he said, 'you must keep your friend here quiet. He's
broken a blood-vessel--walked too much, I suppose. He'll be all
right soon, I hope; but we can't be too careful. Keep him
quiet--that's the main thing. He mustn't speak a word.'

So saying he took his leave.

Ericson held out his thin hand. Robert grasped it. Ericson's lips
moved as if he would speak.

'Dinna speik, Mr. Ericson,' said Miss Letty, whose tears were
flowing unheeded down her cheeks, 'dinna speik. We a' ken what ye
mean an' what ye want wi'oot that.'

Then she turned to Robert, and said in a whisper,

'Dr. Gow wadna hae ye sent for; but I kent weel eneuch 'at he wad be
a' the quaieter gin ye war here. Jist gie a chap upo' the flure gin
ye want onything, an' I'll be wi' ye in twa seconds.'

The sisters went away. Robert drew a chair beside the bed, and once
more was nurse to his friend. The doctor had already bled him at
the arm: such was the ordinary mode of treatment then.

Scarcely was he seated, when Ericson spoke--a smile flickering over
his worn face.

'Robert, my boy,' he said.

'Dinna speak,' said Robert, in alarm; 'dinna speak, Mr. Ericson.'

'Nonsense,' returned Ericson, feebly. 'They're making a work about
nothing. I've done as much twenty times since I saw you last, and
I'm not dead yet. But I think it's coming.'

'What's coming?' asked Robert, rising in alarm.

'Nothing,' answered Ericson, soothingly,--'only death.--I should
like to see Miss St. John once before I die. Do you think she would
come and see me if I were really dying?'

'I'm sure she wad. But gin ye speik like this, Miss Letty winna lat
me come near ye, no to say her. Oh, Mr. Ericson! gin ye dee, I
sanna care to live.'

Bethinking himself that such was not the way to keep Ericson quiet,
he repressed his emotion, sat down behind the curtain, and was
silent. Ericson fell fast asleep. Robert crept from the room, and
telling Miss Letty that he would return presently, went to Miss St.

'How can I go to Aberdeen without him?' he thought as he walked down
the street.

Neither was a guide to the other; but the questioning of two may
give just the needful points by which the parallax of a truth may be

'Mr. Ericson's here, Miss St. John,' he said, the moment he was
shown into her presence.

Her face flushed. Robert had never seen her look so beautiful.

'He's verra ill,' he added.

Her face grew pale--very pale.

'He asked if I thought you would go and see him--that is if he were
going to die.'

A sunset flush, but faint as on the clouds of the east, rose over
her pallor.

'I will go at once,' she said, rising.

'Na, na,' returned Robert, hastily. 'It has to be manage. It's no
to be dune a' in a hurry. For ae thing, there's Dr. Gow says he
maunna speak ae word; and for anither, there's Miss Letty 'ill jist
be like a watch-dog to haud a'body oot ower frae 'im. We maun bide
oor time. But gin ye say ye'll gang, that 'll content him i' the
meantime. I'll tell him.'

'I will go any moment,' she said. 'Is he very ill?'

'I'm afraid he is. I doobt I'll hae to gang to Aberdeen withoot

A week after, though he was better, his going was out of the
question. Robert wanted to stay with him, but he would not hear of
it. He would follow in a week or so, he said, and Robert must start
fair with the rest of the semies.

But all the removal he was ever able to bear was to the 'red room,'
the best in the house, opening, as I have already mentioned, from an
outside stair in the archway. They put up a great screen inside the
door, and there the lan'less laird lay like a lord.



Robert's heart was dreary when he got on the box-seat of the
mail-coach at Rothieden--it was yet drearier when he got down at The
Royal Hotel in the street of Ben Accord--and it was dreariest of all
when he turned his back on Ericson's, and entered his own room at
Mrs. Fyvie's.

Shargar had met him at the coach. Robert had scarcely a word to say
to him. And Shargar felt as dreary as Robert when he saw him sit
down, and lay his head on the table without a word.

'What's the maitter wi' ye, Robert?' he faltered out at last. 'Gin
ye dinna speyk to me, I'll cut my throat. I will, faith!'

'Haud yer tongue wi' yer nonsense, Shargar. Mr. Ericson's deein'.'

'O lord!' said Shargar, and said nothing more for the space of ten

Then he spoke again--slowly and sententiously.

'He hadna you to tak care o' him, Robert. Whaur is he?'

'At The Boar's Heid.'

'That's weel. He'll be luikit efter there.'

'A body wad like to hae their ain han' in 't, Shargar.'

'Ay. I wiss we had him here again.'

The ice of trouble thus broken, the stream of talk flowed more

'Hoo are ye gettin' on at the schule, man?' asked Robert.

'Nae that ill,' answered Shargar. 'I was at the heid o' my class
yesterday for five meenits.'

'An' hoo did ye like it?'

'Man, it was fine. I thocht I was a gentleman a' at ance.'

'Haud ye at it, man,' said Robert, as if from the heights of age and
experience, 'and maybe ye will be a gentleman some day.'

'Is 't poassible, Robert? A crater like me grow intil a gentleman?'
said Shargar, with wide eyes.

'What for no?' returned Robert.

'Eh, man!' said Shargar.

He stood up, sat down again, and was silent.

'For ae thing,' resumed Robert, after a pause, during which he had
been pondering upon the possibilities of Shargar's future--'for ae
thing, I doobt whether Dr. Anderson wad hae ta'en ony fash aboot ye,
gin he hadna thocht ye had the makin' o' a gentleman i' ye.'

'Eh, man!' said Shargar.

He stood up again, sat down again, and was finally silent.

Next day Robert went to see Dr. Anderson, and told him about
Ericson. The doctor shook his head, as doctors have done in such
cases from sculapius downwards. Robert pressed no further

'Will he be taken care of where he is?' asked the doctor.

'Guid care o',' answered Robert.

'Has he any money, do you think?'

'I hae nae doobt he has some, for he's been teachin' a' the summer.
The like o' him maun an' will work whether they're fit or no.'

'Well, at all events, you write, Robert, and give him the hint that
he's not to fash himself about money, for I have more than he'll
want. And you may just take the hint yourself at the same time,
Robert, my boy,' he added in, if possible, a yet kinder tone.

Robert's way of showing gratitude was the best way of all. He
returned kindness with faith.

'Gin I be in ony want, doctor, I'll jist rin to ye at ance. An' gin
I want ower muckle ye maun jist say na.'

'That's a good fellow. You take things as a body means them.'

'But hae ye naething ye wad like me to do for ye this session, sir?'

'No. I won't have you do anything but your own work. You have more
to do than you had last year. Mind your work; and as often as you
get tired over your books, shut them up and come to me. You may
bring Shargar with you sometimes, but we must take care and not make
too much of him all at once.'

'Ay, ay, doctor. But he's a fine crater, Shargar, an' I dinna think
he'll be that easy to blaud. What do you think he's turnin' ower i'
that reid heid o' his noo?'

'I can't tell that. But there's something to come out of the red
head, I do believe. What is he thinking of?'

'Whether it be possible for him ever to be a gentleman. Noo I tak
that for a good sign i' the likes o' him.'

'No doubt of it. What did you say to him?'

'I tellt him 'at hoo I didna think ye wad hae ta'en sae muckle fash
gin ye hadna had some houps o' the kin' aboot him.'

'You said well. Tell him from me that I expect him to be a
gentleman. And by the way, Robert, do try a little, as I think I
said to you once before, to speak English. I don't mean that you
should give up Scotch, you know.'

'Weel, sir, I hae been tryin'; but what am I to do whan ye speyk to
me as gin ye war my ain father? I canna min' upo' a word o' English
whan ye do that.'

Dr. Anderson laughed, but his eyes glittered.

Robert found Shargar busy over his Latin version. With a 'Weel,
Shargar,' he took his books and sat down. A few moments after,
Shargar lifted his head, stared a while at Robert, and then said,

'Duv you railly think it, Robert?'

'Think what? What are ye haverin' at, ye gowk?'

'Duv ye think 'at I ever could grow intil a gentleman?'

'Dr. Anderson says he expecs 't o' ye.'

'Eh, man!'

A long pause followed, and Shargar spoke again.

'Hoo am I to begin, Robert?'

'Begin what?'

'To be a gentleman.'

Robert scratched his head, like Brutus, and at length became

'Speyk the truth,' he said.

'I'll do that. But what aboot--my father?'

'Naebody 'ill cast up yer father to ye. Ye need hae nae fear o'

'My mither, than?' suggested Shargar, with hesitation.

'Ye maun haud yer face to the fac'.'

'Ay, ay. But gin they said onything, ye ken--aboot her.'

'Gin ony man-body says a word agen yer mither, ye maun jist knock
him doon upo' the spot.'

'But I michtna be able.'

'Ye could try, ony gait.'

'He micht knock me down, ye ken.'

'Weel, gae doon than.'


This was all the instruction Robert ever gave Shargar in the duties
of a gentleman. And I doubt whether Shargar sought further
enlightenment by direct question of any one. He worked harder than
ever; grew cleanly in his person, even to fastidiousness; tried to
speak English; and a wonderful change gradually, but rapidly, passed
over his outer man. He grew taller and stronger, and as he grew
stronger, his legs grew straighter, till the defect of approximating
knees, the consequence of hardship, all but vanished. His hair
became darker, and the albino look less remarkable, though still he
would remind one of a vegetable grown in a cellar.

Dr. Anderson thought it well that he should have another year at the
grammar-school before going to college.--Robert now occupied
Ericson's room, and left his own to Shargar.

Robert heard every week from Miss St. John about Ericson. Her
reports varied much; but on the whole he got a little better as the
winter went on. She said that the good women at The Boar's Head
paid him every attention: she did not say that almost the only way
to get him to eat was to carry him delicacies which she had prepared
with her own hands.

She had soon overcome the jealousy with which Miss Letty regarded
her interest in their guest, and before many days had passed she
would walk into the archway and go up to his room without seeing any
one, except the sister whom she generally found there. By what
gradations their intimacy grew I cannot inform my reader, for on the
events lying upon the boundary of my story, I have received very
insufficient enlightenment; but the result it is easy to imagine. I
have already hinted at an early disappointment of Miss St. John. She
had grown greatly since, and her estimate of what she had lost had
altered considerably in consequence. But the change was more rapid
after she became acquainted with Ericson. She would most likely
have found the young man she thought she was in love with in the
days gone by a very commonplace person now. The heart which she had
considered dead to the world had, even before that stormy night in
the old house, begun to expostulate against its owner's mistake, by
asserting a fair indifference to that portion of its past history.
And now, to her large nature the simplicity, the suffering, the
patience, the imagination, the grand poverty of Ericson, were
irresistibly attractive. Add to this that she became his nurse, and
soon saw that he was not indifferent to her--and if she fell in love
with him as only a full-grown woman can love, without Ericson's lips
saying anything that might not by Love's jealousy be interpreted as
only of grateful affection, why should she not?

And what of Marjory Lindsay? Ericson had not forgotten her. But
the brightest star must grow pale as the sun draws near; and on
Ericson there were two suns rising at once on the low sea-shore of
life whereon he had been pacing up and down moodily for
three-and-twenty years, listening evermore to the unprogressive rise
and fall of the tidal waves, all talking of the eternal, all unable
to reveal it--the sun of love and the sun of death. Mysie and he
had never met. She pleased his imagination; she touched his heart
with her helplessness; but she gave him no welcome to the shrine of
her beauty: he loved through admiration and pity. He broke no faith
to her; for he had never offered her any save in looks, and she had
not accepted it. She was but a sickly plant grown in a hot-house.
On his death-bed he found a woman a hiding-place from the wind, a
covert from the tempest, the shadow of a great rock in a weary land!
A strong she-angel with mighty wings, Mary St. John came behind him
as he fainted out of life, tempered the burning heat of the Sun of
Death, and laid him to sleep in the cool twilight of her glorious
shadow. In the stead of trouble about a wilful, thoughtless girl,
he found repose and protection and motherhood in a great-hearted

For Ericson's sake, Robert made some effort to preserve the
acquaintance of Mr. Lindsay and his daughter. But he could hardly
keep up a conversation with Mr. Lindsay, and Mysie showed herself
utterly indifferent to him even in the way of common friendship. He
told her of Ericson's illness: she said she was sorry to hear it,
and looked miles away. He could never get within a certain
atmosphere of--what shall I call it? avertedness that surrounded
her. She had always lived in a dream of unrealities; and the dream
had almost devoured her life.

One evening Shargar was later than usual in coming home from the
walk, or ramble rather, without which he never could settle down to
his work. He knocked at Robert's door.

'Whaur do ye think I've been, Robert?'

'Hoo suld I ken, Shargar?' answered Robert, puzzling over a problem.

'I've been haein' a glaiss wi' Jock Mitchell.'

'Wha's Jock Mitchell?'

'My brither Sandy's groom, as I tellt ye afore.'

'Ye dinna think I can min' a' your havers, Shargar. Whaur was the
comin' gentleman whan ye gaed to drink wi' a chield like that, wha,
gin my memory serves me, ye tauld me yersel' was i' the mids o' a'
his maister's deevilry?'

'Yer memory serves ye weel eneuch to be doon upo' me,' said Shargar.
'But there's a bit wordy 'at they read at the cathedral kirk the
last Sunday 'at's stucken to me as gin there was something by
ordinar' in 't.'

'What's that?' asked Robert, pretending to go on with his
calculations all the time.

'Ow, nae muckle; only this: "Judge not, that ye be not judged."--I
took a lesson frae Jeck the giant-killer, wi' the Welsh giant--was
't Blunderbore they ca'd him?--an' poored the maist o' my glaiss
doon my breist. It wasna like ink; it wadna du my sark ony ill.'

'But what garred ye gang wi' 'im at a'? He wasna fit company for a

'A gentleman 's some saft gin he be ony the waur o' the company he
gangs in till. There may be rizzons, ye ken. Ye needna du as they
du. Jock Mitchell was airin' Reid Rorie an' Black Geordie. An'
says I--for I wantit to ken whether I was sic a breme-buss
(broom-bush) as I used to be--says I, "Hoo are ye, Jock Mitchell?"
An' says Jock, "Brawly. Wha the deevil are ye?" An' says I, "Nae
mair o' a deevil nor yersel', Jock Mitchell, or Alexander, Baron
Rothie, either--though maybe that's no little o' ane." "Preserve
me!" cried Jock, "it's Shargar."--"Nae mair o' that, Jock," says I.
"Gin I bena a gentleman, or a' be dune,"--an' there I stack, for I
saw I was a muckle fule to lat oot onything o' the kin' to Jock. And
sae he seemed to think, too, for he brak oot wi' a great guffaw; an'
to win ower 't, I jined, an' leuch as gin naething was farrer aff
frae my thochts than ever bein' a gentleman. "Whaur do ye pit up,
Jock?" I said. "Oot by here," he answert, "at Luckie
Maitlan's."--"That's a queer place for a baron to put up, Jock,"
says I. "There's rizzons," says he, an' lays his forefinger upo' the
side o' 's nose, o' whilk there was hardly eneuch to haud it ohn
gane intil the opposit ee. "We're no far frae there," says I--an'
deed I can hardly tell ye, Robert, what garred me say sae, but I
jist wantit to ken what that gentleman-brither o' mine was efter;
"tak the horse hame," says I--"I'll jist loup upo' Black
Geordie--an' we'll hae a glaiss thegither. I'll stan' treat." Sae
he gae me the bridle, an' I lap on. The deevil tried to get a
moufu' o' my hip, but, faith! I was ower swack for 'im; an' awa we

'I didna ken 'at ye cud ride, Shargar.'

'Hoots! I cudna help it. I was aye takin' the horse to the watter
at The Boar's Heid, or The Royal Oak, or Lucky Happit's, or The
Aucht an' Furty. That's hoo I cam to ken Jock sae weel. We war
guid eneuch frien's whan I didna care for leein' or sweirin', an'
sic like.'

'And what on earth did ye want wi' 'im noo?'

'I tell ye I wantit to ken what that ne'er-do-weel brither o' mine
was efter. I had seen the horses stan'in' aboot twa or three times
i' the gloamin'; an' Sandy maun be aboot ill gin he be aboot

'What can 't maitter to you, Shargar, what a man like him 's aboot?'

'Weel, ye see, Robert, my mither aye broucht me up to ken a' 'at
fowk was aboot, for she said ye cud never tell whan it micht turn
oot to the weelfaur o' yer advantage--gran' words!--I wonner whaur
she forgathert wi' them. But she was a terrible wuman, my mither,
an' kent a heap o' things--mair nor 'twas gude to ken, maybe. She
gaed aboot the country sae muckle, an' they say the gipsies she gaed
amang 's a dreadfu' auld fowk, an' hae the wisdom o' the Egyptians
'at Moses wad hae naething to do wi'.'

'Whaur is she noo?'

'I dinna ken. She may turn up ony day.'

'There's ae thing, though, Shargar: gin ye want to be a gentleman,
ye maunna gang keekin' that gate intil ither fowk's affairs.'

'Weel, I maun gie 't up. I winna say a word o' what Jock Mitchell
tellt me aboot Lord Sandy.'

'Ow, say awa'.'

'Na, na; ye wadna like to hear aboot ither fowk's affairs. My
mither tellt me he did verra ill efter Watterloo till a fremt
(stranger) lass at Brussels. But that's neither here nor there. I
maun set aboot my version, or I winna get it dune the nicht.'

'What is Lord Sandy after? What did the rascal tell you? Why do
you make such a mystery of it?' said Robert, authoritatively, and in
his best English.

''Deed I cudna mak naething o' 'm. He winkit an' he mintit (hinted)
an' he gae me to unnerstan' 'at the deevil was efter some lass or
ither, but wha--my lad was as dumb 's the graveyard about that. Gin
I cud only win at that, maybe I cud play him a plisky. But he
coupit ower three glasses o' whusky, an' the mair he drank the less
he wad say. An' sae I left him.'

'Well, take care what you're about, Shargar. I don't think Dr.
Anderson would like you to be in such company,' said Robert; and
Shargar departed to his own room and his version.

Towards the end of the session Miss St. John's reports of Ericson
were worse. Yet he was very hopeful himself, and thought he was
getting better fast. Every relapse he regarded as temporary; and
when he got a little better, thought he had recovered his original
position. It was some relief to Miss St. John to communicate her
anxiety to Robert.

After the distribution of the prizes, of which he gained three,
Robert went the same evening to visit Dr. Anderson, intending to go
home the next day. The doctor gave him five golden sovereigns--a
rare sight in Scotland. Robert little thought in what service he
was about to spend them.



It was late when he left his friend. As he walked through the
Gallowgate, an ancient narrow street, full of low courts, some one
touched him upon the arm. He looked round. It was a young woman.
He turned again to walk on.

'Mr Faukner,' she said, in a trembling voice, which Robert thought
he had heard before.

He stopped.

'I don't know you,' he said. 'I can't see your face. Tell me who
you are.'

She returned no answer, but stood with her head aside. He could see
that her hands shook.

'What do you want with me--if you won't say who you are?'

'I want to tell you something,' she said; 'but I canna speyk here.
Come wi' me.'

'I won't go with you without knowing who you are or where you're
going to take me.'

'Dinna ye ken me?' she said pitifully, turning a little towards the
light of the gas-lamp, and looking up in his face.

'It canna be Jessie Hewson?' said Robert, his heart swelling at the
sight of the pale worn countenance of the girl.

'I was Jessie Hewson ance,' she said, 'but naebody here kens me by
that name but yersel'. Will ye come in? There's no a crater i' the
hoose but mysel'.'

Robert turned at once. 'Go on,' he said.

She led the way up a narrow stone stair between two houses. A door
high up in the gable admitted them. The boards bent so much under
his weight that Robert feared the floor would fall.

'Bide ye there, sir, till I fess a licht,' she said.

This was Robert's first introduction to a phase of human life with
which he became familiar afterwards.

'Mind hoo ye gang, sir,' she resumed, returning with a candle.
'There's nae flurin' there. Haud i' the middle efter me, or ye'll
gang throu.'

She led him into a room, with nothing in it but a bed, a table, and
a chair. On the table was a half-made shirt. In the bed lay a tiny
baby, fast asleep. It had been locked up alone in the dreary
garret. Robert approached to look at the child, for his heart felt
very warm to poor Jessie.

'A bonnie bairnie,' he said,

'Isna he, sir? Think o' 'im comin' to me! Nobody can tell the
mercy o' 't. Isna it strange that the verra sin suld bring an angel
frae haven upo' the back o' 't to uphaud an' restore the sinner?
Fowk thinks it's a punishment; but eh me! it's a mercifu' ane.
It's a wonner he didna think shame to come to me. But he cam to
beir my shame.'

Robert wondered at her words. She talked of her sin with such a
meek openness! She looked her shame in the face, and acknowledged
it hers. Had she been less weak and worn, perhaps she could not
have spoken thus.

'But what am I aboot!' she said, checking herself. 'I didna fess ye
here to speyk aboot mysel'. He's efter mair mischeef, and gin
onything cud be dune to haud him frae 't--'

'Wha's efter mischeef, Jessie?' interrupted Robert.

'Lord Rothie. He's gaein' aff the nicht in Skipper Hornbeck's boat
to Antwerp, I think they ca' 't, an' a bonnie young leddy wi' 'im.
They war to sail wi' the first o' the munelicht.--Surely I'm nae
ower late,' she added, going to the window. 'Na, the mune canna be
up yet.'

'Na,' said Robert; 'I dinna think she rises muckle afore twa o'clock
the nicht. But hoo ken ye? Are ye sure o' 't? It's an awfu' thing
to think o'.'

'To convence ye, I maun jist tell ye the trowth. The hoose we're in
hasna a gude character. We're middlin' dacent up here; but the lave
o' the place is dreadfu'. Eh for the bonnie leys o' Bodyfauld! Gin
ye see my father, tell him I'm nane waur than I was.'

'They think ye droont i' the Dyer's Pot, as they ca' 't.'

'There I am again!' she said--'miles awa' an' nae time to be
lost!--My lord has a man they ca' Mitchell. Ower weel I ken him.
There's a wuman doon the stair 'at he comes to see whiles; an' twa
or three nichts ago, I heard them lauchin' thegither. Sae I
hearkened. They war baith some fou, I'm thinkin'. I cudna tell ye
a' 'at they said. That's a punishment noo, gin ye like--to see and
hear the warst o' yer ain ill doin's. He tellt the limmer a heap o'
his lord's secrets. Ay, he tellt her aboot me, an' hoo I had gane
and droont mysel'. I could hear 'maist ilka word 'at he said; for
ye see the flurin' here 's no verra soon', and I was jist 'at I
cudna help hearkenin'. My lord's aff the nicht, as I tell ye. It's
a queer gait, but a quaiet, he thinks, nae doobt. Gin onybody wad
but tell her hoo mony een the baron's made sair wi' greitin'!'

'But hoo's that to be dune?' said Robert.

'I dinna ken. But I hae been watchin' to see you ever sin' syne. I
hae seen ye gang by mony a time. Ye're the only man I ken 'at I
could speyk till aboot it. Ye maun think what ye can do. The warst
o' 't is I canna tell wha she is or whaur she bides.'

'In that case, I canna see what's to be dune.'

'Cudna ye watch them aboord, an' slip a letter intil her han'? Or
ye cud gie 't to the skipper to gie her.'

'I ken the skipper weel eneuch. He's a respectable man. Gin he
kent what the baron was efter, he wadna tak him on boord.'

'That wad do little guid. He wad only hae her aff some ither gait.'

'Weel,' said Robert, rising, 'I'll awa' hame, an' think aboot it as
I gang.--Wad ye tak a feow shillin's frae an auld frien'?' he added
with hesitation, putting his hand in his pocket.

'Na--no a baubee,' she answered. 'Nobody sall say it was for mysel'
I broucht ye here. Come efter me, an' min' whaur ye pit doon yer
feet. It's no sicker.'

She led him to the door. He bade her good-night.

'Tak care ye dinna fa' gaein' doon the stair. It's maist as steep
's a wa'.'

As Robert came from between the houses, he caught a glimpse of a man
in a groom's dress going in at the street door of that he had left.

All the natural knighthood in him was roused. But what could he do?
To write was a sneaking way. He would confront the baron. The
baron and the girl would both laugh at him. The sole conclusion he
could arrive at was to consult Shargar.

He lost no time in telling him the story.

'I tauld ye he was up to some deevilry or ither,' said Shargar. 'I
can shaw ye the verra hoose he maun be gaein' to tak her frae.'

'Ye vratch! what for didna ye tell me that afore?'

'Ye wadna hear aboot ither fowk's affairs. Na, not you! But some
fowk has no richt to consideration. The verra stanes they say 'ill
cry oot ill secrets like brither Sandy's.'

'Whase hoose is 't?'

'I dinna ken. I only saw him come oot o' 't ance, an' Jock Mitchell
was haudin' Black Geordie roon' the neuk. It canna be far frae Mr.
Lindsay's 'at you an' Mr. Ericson used to gang till.'

'Come an' lat me see 't direckly,' cried Robert, starting up, with a
terrible foreboding at his heart.

They were in the street in a moment. Shargar led the way by a
country lane to the top of the hill on the right, and then turning
to the left, brought him to some houses standing well apart from
each other. It was a region unknown to Robert. They were the backs
of the houses of which Mr. Lindsay's was one.

'This is the hoose,' said Shargar.

Robert rushed into action. He knocked at the door. Mr. Lindsay's
Jenny opened it.

'Is yer mistress in, Jenny?' he asked at once.

'Na. Ay. The maister's gane to Bors Castle.'

'It's Miss Lindsay I want to see.'

'She's up in her ain room wi' a sair heid.'

Robert looked her hard in the face, and knew she was lying.

'I want to see her verra partic'lar,' he said.

'Weel, ye canna see her,' returned Jenny angrily. 'I'll tell her
onything ye like.'

Concluding that little was to be gained by longer parley, but quite
uncertain whether Mysie was in the house or not, Robert turned to
Shargar, took him by the arm, and walked away in silence. When they
were beyond earshot of Jenny, who stood looking after them,

'Ye're sure that's the hoose, Shargar?' said Robert quietly.

'As sure's deith, and maybe surer, for I saw him come oot wi' my ain

'Weel, Shargar, it's grown something awfu' noo. It's Miss Lindsay.
Was there iver sic a villain as that Lord Rothie--that brither o'

'I disoun 'im frae this verra 'oor,' said Shargar solemnly.

'Something maun be dune. We'll awa' to the quay, an' see what'll
turn up. I wonner hoo's the tide.'

'The tide's risin'. They'll never try to win oot till it's slack
watter--furbye 'at the Amphitrite, for as braid 's she is, and her
bows modelled efter the cheeks o' a resurrection cherub upo' a
gravestane, draws a heap o' watter: an' the bar they say 's waur to
win ower nor usual: it's been gatherin' again.'

As they spoke, the boys were making for the new town, eagerly. Just
opposite where the Amphitrite lay was a public-house: into that they
made up their minds to go, and there to write a letter, which they
would give to Miss Lindsay if they could, or, if not, leave with
Skipper Hoornbeek. Before they reached the river, a thick rain of
minute drops began to fall, rendering the night still darker, so
that they could scarcely see the vessels from the pavement on the
other side of the quay, along which they were hurrying, to avoid the
cables, rings, and stone posts that made its margin dangerous in the
dim light. When they came to The Smack Inn they crossed right over
to reach the Amphitrite. A growing fear kept them silent as they
approached her berth. It was empty. They turned and stared at each
other in dismay.

One of those amphibious animals that loiter about the borders of the
water was seated on a stone smoking, probably fortified against the
rain by the whisky inside him.

'Whaur's the Amphitrite, Alan?' asked Shargar, for Robert was dumb
with disappointment and rage.

'Half doon to Stanehive by this time, I'm thinkin',' answered Alan.
'For a brewin' tub like her, she fummles awa nae ill wi' a licht
win' astarn o' her. But I'm doobtin' afore she win across the
herrin-pot her fine passengers 'll win at the boddom o' their
stamacks. It's like to blaw a bonnetfu', and she rows awfu' in ony
win'. I dinna think she cud capsize, but for wamlin' she's waur nor
a bairn with the grips.'

In absolute helplessness, the boys had let him talk on: there was
nothing more to be done; and Alan was in a talkative mood.

'Fegs! gin 't come on to blaw,' he resumed, 'I wadna wonner gin they
got the skipper to set them ashore at Stanehive. I heard auld Horny
say something aboot lyin' to there for a bit, to tak a keg or
something aboord.'

The boys looked at each other, bade Alan good-night, and walked

'Hoo far is 't to Stonehaven, Shargar?' said Robert.

'I dinna richtly ken. Maybe frae twal to fifteen mile.'

Robert stood still. Shargar saw his face pale as death, and
contorted with the effort to control his feelings.

'Shargar,' he said, 'what am I to do? I vowed to Mr. Ericson that,
gin he deid, I wad luik efter that bonny lassie. An' noo whan he's
lyin' a' but deid, I hae latten her slip throu' my fingers wi' clean
carelessness. What am I to do? Gin I cud only win to Stonehaven
afore the Amphitrite! I cud gang aboord wi' the keg, and gin I cud
do naething mair, I wad hae tried to do my best. Gin I do naething,
my hert 'll brak wi' the weicht o' my shame.'

Shargar burst into a roar of laughter. Robert was on the point of
knocking him down, but took him by the throat as a milder
proceeding, and shook him.

'Robert! Robert!' gurgled Shargar, as soon as his choking had
overcome his merriment, 'ye're an awfu' Hielan'man. Hearken to me.
I beg--g--g yer pardon. What I was thinkin' o' was--'

Robert relaxed his hold. But Shargar, notwithstanding the lesson
Robert had given him, could hardly speak yet for the enjoyment of
his own device.

'Gin we could only get rid o' Jock Mitchell!--' he crowed; and burst
out again.

'He's wi' a wuman i' the Gallowgate,' said Robert.

'Losh, man!' exclaimed Shargar, and started off at full speed.

He was no match for his companion, however.

'Whaur the deevil are ye rinnin' till, ye wirrycow (scarecrow)?'
panted Robert, as he laid hold of his collar.

'Lat me gang, Robert,' gasped Shargar. 'Losh, man! ye'll be on Black
Geordie in anither ten meenits, an' me ahin' ye upo' Reid Rorie.
An' faith gin we binna at Stanehive afore the Dutchman wi' 's
boddom foremost, it'll be the faut o' the horse and no o' the men.'

Robert's heart gave a bound of hope.

'Hoo 'ill ye get them, Shargar?' he asked eagerly.

'Steal them,' answered Shargar, struggling to get away from the
grasp still upon his collar.

'We micht be hanged for that.'

'Weel, Robert, I'll tak a' the wyte o' 't. Gin it hadna been for
you, I micht ha' been hangt by this time for ill doin': for your
sake I'll be hangt for weel doin', an' welcome. Come awa'. To
steal a mairch upo' brither Sandy wi' aucht (eight) horse-huves o'
's ain! Ha! ha! ha!'

They sped along, now running themselves out of breath, now walking
themselves into it again, until they reached a retired hostelry
between the two towns. Warning Robert not to show himself, Shargar
disappeared round the corner of the house.

Robert grew weary, and then anxious. At length Shargar's face came
through the darkness.

'Robert,' he whispered, 'gie 's yer bonnet. I'll be wi' ye in a
moment noo.'

Robert obeyed, too anxious to question him. In about three minutes
more Shargar reappeared, leading what seemed the ghost of a black
horse; for Robert could see only his eyes, and his hoofs made
scarcely any noise. How he had managed it with a horse of Black
Geordie's temper, I do not know, but some horses will let some
persons do anything with them: he had drawn his own stockings over
his fore feet, and tied their two caps upon his hind hoofs.

'Lead him awa' quaietly up the road till I come to ye,' said
Shargar, as he took the mufflings off the horse's feet. 'An' min'
'at he doesna tak a nip o' ye. He's some ill for bitin'. I'll be
efter ye direckly. Rorie's saiddlet an' bridled. He only wants his

Robert led the horse a few hundred yards, then stopped and waited.
Shargar soon joined him, already mounted on Red Roderick.

'Here's yer bonnet, Robert. It's some foul, I doobt. But I cudna
help it. Gang on, man. Up wi' ye. Maybe I wad hae better keepit
Geordie mysel'. But ye can ride. Ance ye're on, he canna bite ye.'

But Robert needed no encouragement from Shargar. In his present
mood he would have mounted a griffin. He was on horseback in a
moment. They trotted gently through the streets, and out of the
town. Once over the Dee, they gave their horses the rein, and off
they went through the dark drizzle. Before they got half-way they
were wet to the skin; but little did Robert, or Shargar either, care
for that. Not many words passed between them.

'Hoo 'ill ye get the horse (plural) in again, Shargar?' asked

'Afore I get them back,' answered Shargar, 'they'll be tired eneuch
to gang hame o' themsel's. Gin we had only had the luck to meet
Jock!--that wad hae been gran'.'

'What for that?'

'I wad hae cawed Reid Rorie ower the heid o' 'm, an' left him
lyin'--the coorse villain!'

The horses never flagged till they drew up in the main street of
Stonehaven. Robert ran down to the harbour to make inquiry, and
left Shargar to put them up.

The moon had risen, but the air was so full of vapour that she only
succeeded in melting the darkness a little. The sea rolled in
front, awful in its dreariness, under just light enough to show a
something unlike the land. But the rain had ceased, and the air was
clearer. Robert asked a solitary man, with a telescope in his hand,
whether he was looking out for the Amphitrite. The man asked him
gruffly in return what he knew of her. Possibly the nature of the
keg to be put on board had something to do with his Scotch reply.
Robert told him he was a friend of the captain, had missed the
boat, and would give any one five shillings to put him on board.
The man went away and returned with a companion. After some
further questioning and bargaining, they agreed to take him. Robert
loitered about the pier full of impatience. Shargar joined him.

Day began to break over the waves. They gleamed with a blue-gray
leaden sheen. The men appeared coming along the harbour, and
descended by a stair into a little skiff, where a barrel, or
something like one, lay under a tarpaulin. Robert bade Shargar
good-bye, and followed. They pushed off, rowed out into the bay,
and lay on their oars waiting for the vessel. The light grew apace,
and Robert fancied he could distinguish the two horses with one
rider against the sky on the top of the cliffs, moving northwards.
Turning his eyes to the sea, he saw the canvas of the brig, and his
heart beat fast. The men bent to their oars. She drew nearer, and
lay to. When they reached her he caught the rope the sailors threw,
was on board in a moment, and went aft to the captain. The Dutchman
stared. In a few words Robert made him understand his object,
offering to pay for his passage, but the good man would not hear of
it. He told him that the lady and gentleman had come on board as
brother and sister: the baron was too knowing to run his head into
the noose of Scotch law.

'I cannot throw him over the board,' said the skipper; 'and what am
I to do? I am afraid it is of no use. Ah! poor thing!'

By this time the vessel was under way. The wind freshened. Mysie
had been ill ever since they left the month of the river: now she
was much worse. Before another hour passed, she was crying to be
taken home to her papa. Still the wind increased, and the vessel
laboured much.

Robert never felt better, and if it had not been for the cause of
his sea-faring, would have thoroughly enjoyed it. He put on some
sea-going clothes of the captain's, and set himself to take his
share in working the brig, in which he was soon proficient enough to
be useful. When the sun rose, they were in a tossing wilderness of
waves. With the sunrise, Robert began to think he had been guilty
of a great folly. For what could he do? How was he to prevent the
girl from going off with her lover the moment they landed? But his
poor attempt would verify his willingness.

The baron came on deck now and then, looking bored. He had not
calculated on having to nurse the girl. Had Mysie been well, he
could have amused himself with her, for he found her ignorance
interesting. As it was, he felt injured, and indeed disgusted at
the result of the experiment.

On the third day the wind abated a little; but towards night it blew
hard again, and it was not until they reached the smooth waters of
the Scheldt that Mysie made her appearance on deck, looking
dreadfully ill, and altogether like a miserable, unhappy child. Her
beauty was greatly gone, and Lord Rothie did not pay her much

Robert had as yet made no attempt to communicate with her, for there
was scarcely a chance of her concealing a letter from the baron.
But as soon as they were in smooth water, he wrote one, telling her
in the simplest language that the baron was a bad man, who had
amused himself by making many women fall in love with him, and then
leaving them miserable: he knew one of them himself.

Having finished his letter, he began to look abroad over the smooth
water, and the land smooth as the water. He saw tall poplars, the
spires of the forest, and rows of round-headed dumpy trees, like
domes. And he saw that all the buildings like churches, had either
spires like poplars, or low round domes like those other trees. The
domes gave an eastern aspect to the country. The spire of Antwerp
cathedral especially had the poplar for its model. The pinnacles
which rose from the base of each successive start of its narrowing
height were just the clinging, upright branches of the poplar--a
lovely instance of Art following Nature's suggestion.



At length the vessel lay alongside the quay, and as Mysie stepped
from its side the skipper found an opportunity of giving her
Robert's letter. It was the poorest of chances, but Robert could
think of no other. She started on receiving it, but regarding the
skipper's significant gestures put it quietly away. She looked
anything but happy, for her illness had deprived her of courage, and
probably roused her conscience. Robert followed the pair, saw them
enter The Great Labourer--what could the name mean? could it mean
The Good Shepherd?--and turned away helpless, objectless indeed, for
he had done all that he could, and that all was of no potency. A
world of innocence and beauty was about to be hurled from its orbit
of light into the blackness of outer chaos; he knew it, and was
unable to speak word or do deed that should frustrate the power of a
devil who so loved himself that he counted it an honour to a girl to
have him for her ruin. Her after life had no significance for him,
save as a trophy of his victory. He never perceived that such
victory was not yielded to him; that he gained it by putting on the
garments of light; that if his inward form had appeared in its own
ugliness, not one of the women whose admiration he had secured would
not have turned from him as from the monster of an old tale.

Robert wandered about till he was so weary that his head ached with
weariness. At length he came upon the open space before the
cathedral, whence the poplar-spire rose aloft into a blue sky
flecked with white clouds. It was near sunset, and he could not see
the sun, but the upper half of the spire shone glorious in its
radiance. From the top his eye sank to the base. In the base was a
little door half open. Might not that be the lowly narrow entrance
through the shadow up to the sun-filled air? He drew near with a
kind of tremor, for never before had he gazed upon visible grandeur
growing out of the human soul, in the majesty of everlastingness--a
tree of the Lord's planting. Where had been but an empty space of
air and light and darkness, had risen, and had stood for ages, a
mighty wonder awful to the eye, solid to the hand. He peeped
through the opening of the door: there was the foot of a
stair--marvellous as the ladder of Jacob's dream--turning away
towards the unknown. He pushed the door and entered. A man
appeared and barred his advance. Robert put his hand in his pocket
and drew out some silver. The man took one piece--looked at
it--turned it over--put it in his pocket, and led the way up the
stair. Robert followed and followed and followed.

He came out of stone walls upon an airy platform whence the spire
ascended heavenwards. His conductor led upward still, and he
followed, winding within a spiral network of stone, through which
all the world looked in. Another platform, and yet another spire
springing from its basement. Still up they went, and at length
stood on a circle of stone surrounding like a coronet the last base
of the spire which lifted its apex untrodden. Then Robert turned
and looked below. He grasped the stones before him. The loneliness
was awful.

There was nothing between him and the roofs of the houses, four
hundred feet below, but the spot where he stood. The whole city,
with its red roofs, lay under him. He stood uplifted on the genius
of the builder, and the town beneath him was a toy. The all but
featureless flat spread forty miles on every side, and the roofs of
the largest buildings below were as dovecots. But the space between
was alive with awe--so vast, so real!

He turned and descended, winding through the network of stone which
was all between him and space. The object of the architect must
have been to melt away the material from before the eyes of the
spirit. He hung in the air in a cloud of stone. As he came in his
descent within the ornaments of one of the basements, he found
himself looking through two thicknesses of stone lace on the nearing
city. Down there was the beast of prey and his victim; but for the
moment he was above the region of sorrow. His weariness and his
headache had vanished utterly. With his mind tossed on its own
speechless delight, he was slowly descending still, when he saw on
his left hand a door ajar. He would look what mystery lay within.
A push opened it. He discovered only a little chamber lined with
wood. In the centre stood something--a bench-like piece of
furniture, plain and worn. He advanced a step; peered over the top
of it; saw keys, white and black; saw pedals below: it was an organ!
Two strides brought him in front of it. A wooden stool, polished
and hollowed with centuries of use, was before it. But where was
the bellows? That might be down hundreds of steps below, for he was
half-way only to the ground. He seated himself musingly, and
struck, as he thought, a dumb chord. Responded, up in the air, far
overhead, a mighty booming clang. Startled, almost frightened, even
as if Mary St. John had said she loved him, Robert sprung from the
stool, and, without knowing why, moved only by the chastity of
delight, flung the door to the post. It banged and clicked. Almost
mad with the joy of the titanic instrument, he seated himself again
at the keys, and plunged into a tempest of clanging harmony. One
hundred bells hang in that tower of wonder, an instrument for a
city, nay, for a kingdom. Often had Robert dreamed that he was the
galvanic centre of a thunder-cloud of harmony, flashing off from
every finger the willed lightning tone: such was the unexpected
scale of this instrument--so far aloft in the sunny air rang the
responsive notes, that his dream appeared almost realized. The
music, like a fountain bursting upwards, drew him up and bore him
aloft. From the resounding cone of bells overhead he no longer
heard their tones proceed, but saw level-winged forms of light
speeding off with a message to the nations. It was only his roused
phantasy; but a sweet tone is nevertheless a messenger of God; and a
right harmony and sequence of such tones is a little gospel.

At length he found himself following, till that moment
unconsciously, the chain of tunes he well remembered having played
on his violin the night he went first with Ericson to see Mysie,
ending with his strange chant about the witch lady and the dead
man's hand.

Ere he had finished the last, his passion had begun to fold its
wings, and he grew dimly aware of a beating at the door of the
solitary chamber in which he sat. He knew nothing of the enormity
of which he was guilty--presenting unsought the city of Antwerp with
a glorious phantasia. He did not know that only upon grand, solemn,
world-wide occasions, such as a king's birthday or a ball at the
Htel de Ville, was such music on the card. When he flung the door
to, it had closed with a spring lock, and for the last quarter of an
hour three gens-d'arme, commanded by the sacristan of the tower, had
been thundering thereat. He waited only to finish the last notes of
the wild Orcadian chant, and opened the door. He was seized by the
collar, dragged down the stair into the street, and through a crowd
of wondering faces--poor unconscious dreamer! it will not do to
think on the house-top even, and you had been dreaming very loud
indeed in the church spire--away to the bureau of the police.



I need not recount the proceedings of the Belgian police; how they
interrogated Robert concerning a letter from Mary St. John which
they found in an inner pocket; how they looked doubtful over a copy
of Horace that lay in his coat, and put evidently a momentous
question about some algebraical calculations on the fly-leaf of it.
Fortunately or unfortunately--I do not know which--Robert did not
understand a word they said to him. He was locked up, and left to
fret for nearly a week; though what he could have done had he been
at liberty, he knew as little as I know. At last, long after it was
useless to make any inquiry about Miss Lindsay, he was set at
liberty. He could just pay for a steerage passage to London, whence
he wrote to Dr. Anderson for a supply, and was in Aberdeen a few
days after.

This was Robert's first cosmopolitan experience. He confided the
whole affair to the doctor, who approved of all, saying it could
have been of no use, but he had done right. He advised him to go
home at once, for he had had letters inquiring after him. Ericson
was growing steadily worse--in fact, he feared Robert might not see
him alive.

If this news struck Robert to the heart, his pain was yet not
without some poor alleviation:--he need not tell Ericson about
Mysie, but might leave him to find out the truth when, free of a
dying body, he would be better able to bear it. That very night he
set off on foot for Rothieden. There was no coach from Aberdeen
till eight the following morning, and before that he would be there.

It was a dreary journey without Ericson. Every turn of the road
reminded him of him. And Ericson too was going a lonely unknown

Did ever two go together upon that way? Might not two die together
and not lose hold of each other all the time, even when the sense of
the clasping hands was gone, and the soul had withdrawn itself from
the touch? Happy they who prefer the will of God to their own even
in this, and would, as the best friend, have him near who can be
near--him who made the fourth in the fiery furnace! Fable or fact,
reader, I do not care. The One I mean is, and in him I hope.

Very weary was Robert when he walked into his grandmother's house.

Betty came out of the kitchen at the sound of his entrance.

'Is Mr. Ericson--?'

'Na; he's nae deid,' she answered. 'He'll maybe live a day or twa,
they say.'

'Thank God!' said Robert, and went to his grandmother.

'Eh, laddie!' said Mrs. Falconer, the first greetings over, 'ane 's
ta'en an' anither 's left! but what for 's mair nor I can faddom.
There's that fine young man, Maister Ericson, at deith's door; an'
here am I, an auld runklet wife, left to cry upo' deith, an' he
winna hear me.'

'Cry upo' God, grannie, an' no upo' deith,' said Robert, catching at
the word as his grandmother herself might have done. He had no such
unfair habit when I knew him, and always spoke to one's meaning, not
one's words. But then he had a wonderful gift of knowing what one's
meaning was.

He did not sit down, but, tired as he was, went straight to The
Boar's Head. He met no one in the archway, and walked up to
Ericson's room. When he opened the door, he found the large screen
on the other side, and hearing a painful cough, lingered behind it,
for he could not control his feelings sufficiently. Then he heard a
voice--Ericson's voice; but oh, how changed!--He had no idea that he
ought not to listen.

'Mary,' the voice said, 'do not look like that. I am not suffering.
It is only my body. Your arm round me makes me so strong! Let me
lay my head on your shoulder.'

A brief pause followed.

'But, Eric,' said Mary's voice, 'there is one that loves you better
than I do.'

'If there is,' returned Ericson, feebly, 'he has sent his angel to
deliver me.'

'But you do believe in him, Eric?'

The voice expressed anxiety no less than love.

'I am going to see. There is no other way. When I find him, I
shall believe in him. I shall love him with all my heart, I know.
I love the thought of him now.'

'But that's not himself, my--darling!' she said.

'No. But I cannot love himself till I find him. Perhaps there is no

'Oh, don't say that. I can't bear to hear you talk so,'

'But, dear heart, if you're so sure of him, do you think he would
turn me away because I don't do what I can't do? I would if I could
with all my heart. If I were to say I believed in him, and then
didn't trust him, I could understand it. But when it's only that
I'm not sure about what I never saw, or had enough of proof to
satisfy me of, how can he be vexed at that? You seem to me to do
him great wrong, Mary. Would you now banish me for ever, if I
should, when my brain is wrapped in the clouds of death, forget you
along with everything else for a moment?'

'No, no, no. Don't talk like that, Eric, dear. There may be
reasons, you know.'

'I know what they say well enough. But I expect Him, if there is a
Him, to be better even than you, my beautiful--and I don't know a
fault in you, but that you believe in a God you can't trust. If I
believed in a God, wouldn't I trust him just? And I do hope in him.
We'll see, my darling. When we meet again I think you'll say I was

Robert stood like one turned into marble. Deep called unto deep in
his soul. The waves and the billows went over him.

Mary St. John answered not a word. I think she must have been
conscience-stricken. Surely the Son of Man saw nearly as much faith
in Ericson as in her. Only she clung to the word as a bond that the
Lord had given her: she would rather have his bond.

Ericson had another fit of coughing. Robert heard the rustling of
ministration. But in a moment the dying man again took up the word.
He seemed almost as anxious about Mary's faith as she was about

'There's Robert,' he said: 'I do believe that boy would die for me,
and I never did anything to deserve it. Now Jesus Christ must be as
good as Robert at least. I think he must be a great deal better, if
he's Jesus Christ at all. Now Robert might be hurt if I didn't
believe in him. But I've never seen Jesus Christ. It's all in an
old book, over which the people that say they believe in it the
most, fight like dogs and cats. I beg your pardon, my Mary; but
they do, though the words are ugly.'

'Ah! but if you had tried it as I've tried it, you would know
better, Eric.'

'I think I should, dear. But it's too late now. I must just go and
see. There's no other way left.'

The terrible cough came again. As soon as the fit was over, with a
grand despair in his heart, Robert went from behind the screen.

Ericson was on a couch. His head lay on Mary St. John's bosom.
Neither saw him.

'Perhaps,' said Ericson, panting with death, 'a kiss in heaven may
be as good as being married on earth, Mary.'

She saw Robert and did not answer. Then Eric saw him. He smiled;
but Mary grew very pale.

Robert came forward, stooped and kissed Ericson's forehead, kneeled
and kissed Mary's hand, rose and went out.

>From that moment they were both dead to him. Dead, I say--not lost,
not estranged, but dead--that is, awful and holy. He wept for Eric.
He did not weep for Mary yet. But he found a time.

Ericson died two days after.

Here endeth Robert's youth.



In memory of Eric Ericson, I add a chapter of sonnets gathered from
his papers, almost desiring that those only should read them who
turn to the book a second time. How his papers came into my
possession, will be explained afterwards.

Tumultuous rushing o'er the outstretched plains;
A wildered maze of comets and of suns;
The blood of changeless God that ever runs
With quick diastole up the immortal veins;
A phantom host that moves and works in chains;
A monstrous fiction which, collapsing, stuns
The mind to stupor and amaze at once;
A tragedy which that man best explains
Who rushes blindly on his wild career
With trampling hoofs and sound of mailed war,
Who will not nurse a life to win a tear,
But is extinguished like a falling star:--
Such will at times this life appear to me,
Until I learn to read more perfectly.

HOM. IL. v. 403.

If thou art tempted by a thought of ill,
Crave not too soon for victory, nor deem
Thou art a coward if thy safety seem
To spring too little from a righteous will:
For there is nightmare on thee, nor until
Thy soul hath caught the morning's early gleam
Seek thou to analyze the monstrous dream
By painful introversion; rather fill
Thine eye with forms thou knowest to be truth:
But see thou cherish higher hope than this;
A hope hereafter that thou shalt be fit
Calm-eyed to face distortion, and to sit
Transparent among other forms of youth
Who own no impulse save to God and bliss.

And must I ever wake, gray dawn, to know
Thee standing sadly by me like a ghost?
I am perplexed with thee, that thou shouldst cost
This Earth another turning: all aglow
Thou shouldst have reached me, with a purple show
Along far-mountain tops: and I would post
Over the breadth of seas though I were lost
In the hot phantom-chase for life, if so
Thou camest ever with this numbing sense
Of chilly distance and unlovely light;
Waking this gnawing soul anew to fight
With its perpetual load: I drive thee hence--
I have another mountain-range from whence
Bursteh a sun unutterably bright.


'And yet it moves!' Ah, Truth, where wert thou then,
When all for thee they racked each piteous limb?
Wert though in Heaven, and busy with thy hymn,
When those poor hands convulsed that held thy pen?
Art thou a phantom that deceivest men
To their undoing? or dost thou watch him
Pale, cold, and silent in his dungeon dim?
And wilt thou ever speak to him again?
'It moves, it moves! Alas, my flesh was weak;
That was a hideous dream! I'll cry aloud
How the green bulk wheels sunward day by day!
Ah me! ah me! perchance my heart was proud
That I alone should know that word to speak;
And now, sweet Truth, shine upon these, I pray.'

If thou wouldst live the Truth in very deed,
Thou hast thy joy, but thou hast more of pain.
Others will live in peace, and thou be fain
To bargain with despair, and in thy need
To make thy meal upon the scantiest weed.
These palaces, for thee they stand in vain;
Thine is a ruinous hut; and oft the rain
Shall drench thee in the midnight; yea the speed
Of earth outstrip thee pilgrim, while thy feet
Move slowly up the heights. Yet will there come
Through the time-rents about thy moving cell,
An arrow for despair, and oft the hum
Of far-off populous realms where spirits dwell.

TO * * * *

Speak, Prophet of the Lord! We may not start
To find thee with us in thine ancient dress,
Haggard and pale from some bleak wilderness,
Empty of all save God and thy loud heart:
Nor with like rugged message quick to dart
Into the hideous fiction mean and base:
But yet, O prophet man, we need not less,
But more of earnest; though it is thy part
To deal in other words, if thou wouldst smite
The living Mammon, seated, not as then
In bestial quiescence grimly dight,
But thrice as much an idol-god as when
He stared at his own feet from morn to night.8


>From out a windy cleft there comes a gaze
Of eyes unearthly which go to and fro
Upon the people's tumult, for below
The nations smite each other: no amaze
Troubles their liquid rolling, or affrays
Their deep-set contemplation: steadily glow
Those ever holier eye-balls, for they grow
Liker unto the eyes of one that prays.
And if those clasped hands tremble, comes a power
As of the might of worlds, and they are holden
Blessing above us in the sunrise golden;
And they will be uplifted till that hour
Of terrible rolling which shall rise and shake
This conscious nightmare from us and we wake.



One do I see and twelve; but second there
Methinks I know thee, thou beloved one;
Not from thy nobler port, for there are none
More quiet-featured; some there are who bear
Their message on their brows, while others wear
A look of large commission, nor will shun
The fiery trial, so their work is done:
But thou hast parted with thine eyes in prayer--
Unearthly are they both; and so thy lips
Seem like the porches of the spirit land;
For thou hast laid a mighty treasure by,
Unlocked by Him in Nature, and thine eye
Burns with a vision and apocalypse
Thy own sweet soul can hardly understand.


A Boanerges too! Upon my heart
It lay a heavy hour: features like thine
Should glow with other message than the shine
Of the earth-burrowing levin, and the start
That cleaveth horrid gulfs. Awful and swart
A moment stoodest thou, but less divine--
Brawny and clad in ruin!--till with mine
Thy heart made answering signals, and apart
Beamed forth thy two rapt eye-balls doubly clear,
And twice as strong because thou didst thy duty,
And though affianced to immortal Beauty,
Hiddest not weakly underneath her veil
The pest of Sin and Death which maketh pale:
Henceforward be thy spirit doubly dear.9


There is not any weed but hath its shower,
There is not any pool but hath its star;
And black and muddy though the waters are,
We may not miss the glory of a flower,
And winter moons will give them magic power
To spin in cylinders of diamond spar;
And everything hath beauty near and far,
And keepeth close and waiteth on its hour.
And I when I encounter on my road
A human soul that looketh black and grim,
Shall I more ceremonious be than God?
Shall I refuse to watch one hour with him
Who once beside our deepest woe did bud
A patient watching flower about the brim.

'Tis not the violent hands alone that bring
The curse, the ravage, and the downward doom
Although to these full oft the yawning tomb
Owes deadly surfeit; but a keener sting,
A more immortal agony, will cling
To the half-fashioned sin which would assume
Fair Virtue's garb. The eye that sows the gloom
With quiet seeds of Death henceforth to spring
What time the sun of passion burning fierce
Breaks through the kindly cloud of circumstance;
The bitter word, and the unkindly glance,
The crust and canker coming with the years,
Are liker Death than arrows, and the lance
Which through the living heart at once doth pierce.


I pray you, all ye men, who put your trust
In moulds and systems and well-tackled gear,
Holding that Nature lives from year to year
In one continual round because she must--
Set me not down, I pray you, in the dust
Of all these centuries, like a pot of beer,
A pewter-pot disconsolately clear,
Which holds a potful, as is right and just.
I will grow clamorous--by the rood, I will,
If thus ye use me like a pewter pot.
Good friend, thou art a toper and a sot--
I will not be the lead to hold thy swill,
Nor any lead: I will arise and spill
Thy silly beverage, spill it piping hot.

Nature, to him no message dost thou bear,
Who in thy beauty findeth not the power
To gird himself more strongly for the hour
Of night and darkness. Oh, what colours rare
The woods, the valleys, and the mountains wear
To him who knows thy secret, and in shower
And fog, and ice-cloud, hath a secret bower
Where he may rest until the heavens are fair!
Not with the rest of slumber, but the trance
Of onward movement steady and serene,
Where oft in struggle and in contest keen
His eyes will opened be, and all the dance
Of life break on him, and a wide expanse
Roll upward through the void, sunny and green.


Ah, truant, thou art here again, I see!
For in a season of such wretched weather
I thought that thou hadst left us altogether,
Although I could not choose but fancy thee
Skulking about the hill-tops, whence the glee
Of thy blue laughter peeped at times, or rather
Thy bashful awkwardness, as doubtful whether
Thou shouldst be seen in such a company
Of ugly runaways, unshapely heaps
Of ruffian vapour, broken from restraint
Of their slim prison in the ocean deeps.
But yet I may not, chide: fall to thy books,
Fall to immediately without complaint--
There they are lying, hills and vales and brooks.


Summer, sweet Summer, many-fingered Summer!
We hold thee very dear, as well we may:
It is the kernel of the year to-day--
All hail to thee! Thou art a welcome corner!
If every insect were a fairy drummer,
And I a fifer that could deftly play,
We'd give the old Earth such a roundelay
That she would cast all thought of labour from her
Ah! what is this upon my window-pane?
Some sulky drooping cloud comes pouting up,
Stamping its glittering feet along the plain!
Well, I will let that idle fancy drop.
Oh, how the spouts are bubbling with the rain!
And all the earth shines like a silver cup!


Whence do ye come, ye creature? Each of you
Is perfect as an angel; wings and eyes
Stupendous in their beauty--gorgeous dyes
In feathery fields of purple and of blue!
Would God I saw a moment as ye do!
I would become a molecule in size,
Rest with you, hum with you, or slanting rise
Along your one dear sunbeam, could I view
The pearly secret which each tiny fly,
Each tiny fly that hums and bobs and stirs,
Hides in its little breast eternally
>From you, ye prickly grim philosophers,
With all your theories that sound so high:
Hark to the buzz a moment, my good sirs!


Here stands a giant stone from whose far top
Comes down the sounding water. Let me gaze
Till every sense of man and human ways
Is wrecked and quenched for ever, and I drop
Into the whirl of time, and without stop
Pass downward thus! Again my eyes I raise
To thee, dark rock; and through the mist and haze
My strength returns when I behold thy prop
Gleam stern and steady through the wavering wrack
Surely thy strength is human, and like me
Thou bearest loads of thunder on thy back!
And, lo, a smile upon thy visage black--
A breezy tuft of grass which I can see
Waving serenely from a sunlit crack!

Above my head the great pine-branches tower
Backwards and forwards each to the other bends,
Beckoning the tempest-cloud which hither wends
Like a slow-laboured thought, heavy with power;
Hark to the patter of the coming shower!
Let me be silent while the Almighty sends
His thunder-word along; but when it ends
I will arise and fashion from the hour
Words of stupendous import, fit to guard
High thoughts and purposes, which I may wave,
When the temptation cometh close and hard,
Like fiery brands betwixt me and the grave
Of meaner things--to which I am a slave
If evermore I keep not watch and ward.

I do remember how when very young,
I saw the great sea first, and heard its swell
As I drew nearer, caught within the spell
Of its vast size and its mysterious tongue.
How the floor trembled, and the dark boat swung
With a man in it, and a great wave fell
Within a stone's cast! Words may never tell
The passion of the moment, when I flung
All childish records by, and felt arise
A thing that died no more! An awful power
I claimed with trembling hands and eager eyes,
Mine, mine for ever, an immortal dower.--
The noise of waters soundeth to this hour,
When I look seaward through the quiet skies.


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