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The White People by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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not really to be torn apart--not really. They
were trying to heap up for themselves proof
that they might still be near each other. And,
above all, his effort was to save her from the
worst, worst woe. And I understood, too, why
something wiser and stronger than myself had
led me to tell the dream which was not a dream
at all.

But it was as she said; the world had not
learned the Secret yet. And there we stood.
We did not cry or talk, but we clung to each
other--we CLUNG. That is all human creatures
can do until the Secret is known. And as we
clung the nightingale broke out again.

"O nightingale! O nightingale!" she said in
her low wonder of a voice. "WHAT are you
trying to tell us!"


What I feel sure I know by this time is
that all the things we think happen by
chance and accident are only part of the weaving
of the scheme of life. When you begin to
suspect this and to watch closely you also begin to
see how trifles connect themselves with one
another, and seem in the end to have led to a
reason and a meaning, though we may not be
clever enough to see it clearly. Nothing is an
accident. We make everything happen ourselves:
the wrong things because we do not
know or care whether we are wrong or right,
the right ones because we unconsciously or
consciously choose the right even in the midst of
our ignorance.

I dare say it sounds audacious for an ordinary
girl to say such things in an ordinary way;
but perhaps I have said them in spite of myself,
because it is not a bad thing that they should be
said by an every-day sort of person in simple
words which other every-day people can understand.
I am only expressing what has gradually
grown into belief in my mind through reading
with Angus ancient books and modern ones
--books about faiths and religions, books about
philosophies and magics, books about what the
world calls marvels, but which are not marvels
at all, but only workings of the Law most
people have not yet reasoned about or even

Angus had read and studied them all his life
before he began to read them with me, and we
talked them over together sitting by the fire
in the library, fascinated and staring at each
other, I in one high-backed chair and he in
another on the opposite side of the hearth.
Angus is wonderful--wonderful! He KNOWS
there is no such thing as chance. He KNOWS
that we ourselves are the working of the Law--
and that we ourselves could work what now
are stupidly called "miracles" if we could only
remember always what the Law is.

What I intended to say at first was merely
that it was not by chance that I climbed to the
shelf in the library that afternoon and pushed
aside the books hiding the old manuscript
which told the real story of Dark Malcolm of
the Glen and Wee Brown Elspeth. It seemed
like chance when it happened, but it was really
the first step toward my finding out the strange,
beautiful thing I knew soon afterward.

From the beginning of my friendship with the
MacNairns I had hoped they would come and
stay with me at Muircarrie. When they both
seemed to feel such interest in all I told them of
it, and not to mind its wild remoteness, I took
courage and asked them if they would come to
me. Most people are bored by the prospect of
life in a feudal castle, howsoever picturesquely
it is set in a place where there are no neighbors
to count on. Its ancient stateliness is too dull.
But the MacNairns were more allured by what
Muircarrie offered than they were by other
and more brilliant invitations. So when I went
back to the castle I was only to be alone a week
before they followed me.

Jean and Angus were quite happy in their
quiet way when I told them who I was expecting.
They knew how glad I was myself. Jean
was full of silent pleasure as she arranged the
rooms I had chosen for my guests, rooms which
had the most sweeping view of the moor.
Angus knew that Mr. MacNairn would love the
library, and he hovered about consulting his
catalogues and looking over his shelves, taking
down volumes here and there, holding them
tenderly in his long, bony old hand as he dipped
into them. He made notes of the manuscripts
and books he thought Mr. MacNairn would
feel the deepest interest in. He loved his library
with all his being, and I knew he looked forward
to talking to a man who would care for it in the
same way.

He had been going over one of the highest
shelves one day and had left his step-ladder
leaning against it when he went elsewhere. It
was when I mounted the steps, as I often did
when he left them, that I came upon the
manuscript which related the old story of Dark
Malcolm and his child. It had been pushed
behind some volumes, and I took it out because it
looked so old and yellow. And I opened at once
at the page where the tale began.

At first I stood reading, and then I sat down
on the broad top of the ladder and forgot
everything. It was a savage history of ferocious hate
and barbarous reprisals. It had been a feud
waged between two clans for three generations.
The story of Dark Malcolm and Ian Red Hand
was only part of it, but it was a gruesome thing.
Pages told of the bloody deeds they wrought on
each other's houses. The one human passion
of Dark Malcolm's life was his love for his
little daughter. She had brown eyes and brown
hair, and those who most loved her called her
Wee Brown Elspeth. Ian Red Hand was richer
and more powerful than Malcolm of the Glen,
and therefore could more easily work his cruel
will. He knew well of Malcolm's worship of his
child, and laid his plans to torture him through
her. Dark Malcolm, coming back to his rude,
small castle one night after a raid in which he
had lost followers and weapons and strength,
found that Wee Brown Elspeth had been carried
away, and unspeakable taunts and threats left
behind by Ian and his men. With unbound
wounds, broken dirks and hacked swords, Dark
Malcolm and the remnant of his troop of fighting
clansmen rushed forth into the night.

"Neither men nor weapons have we to win
her back," screamed Dark Malcolm, raving
mad, "but we may die fighting to get near
enough to her to drive dirk into her little breast
and save her from worse."

They were a band of madmen in their black
despair. How they tore through the black
night; what unguarded weak spot they found
in Ian's castle walls; how they fought their way
through it, leaving their dead bodies in the
path, none really ever knew. By what strange
chance Dark Malcolm came upon Wee Brown
Elspeth, craftily set to playing hide-and-seek
with a child of Ian's so that she might not cry
out and betray her presence; how, already
wounded to his death, he caught at and drove
his dirk into her child heart, the story only
offers guesses at. But kill and save her he did,
falling dead with her body held against his
breast, her brown hair streaming over it. Not
one living man went back to the small, rude
castle on the Glen--not one.

I sat and read and read until the room grew
dark. When I stopped I found that Angus
Macayre was standing in the dimness at the
foot of the ladder. He looked up at me and I
down at him. For a few moments we were both
quite still.

"It is the tale of Ian Red Hand and Dark
Malcolm you are reading?" he said, at last.

"And Wee Brown Elspeth, who was fought
for and killed," I added, slowly.

Angus nodded his head with a sad face. "It
was the only way for a father," he said. "A
hound of hell was Ian. Such men were savage
beasts in those days, not human."

I touched the manuscript with my hand
questioningly. "Did this fall at the back there by
accident," I asked, "or did you hide it?"

"I did," he answered. "It was no tale for
a young thing to read. I have hidden many
from you. You were always poking about in
corners, Ysobel."

Then I sat and thought over past memories for
a while and the shadows in the room deepened.

"Why," I said, laggingly, after the silence--
"why did I call the child who used to play with
me `Wee Brown Elspeth'?"

"It was your own fancy," was his reply. "I
used to wonder myself; but I made up my
mind that you had heard some of the maids
talking and the name had caught your ear.
That would be a child's way."

I put my forehead in my hands and thought
again. So many years had passed! I had been
little more than a baby; the whole thing
seemed like a half-forgotten dream when I
tried to recall it--but I seemed to dimly
remember strange things.

"Who were the wild men who brought her to
me first--that day on the moor?" I said. "I
do remember they had pale, savage, exultant
faces. And torn, stained clothes. And broken
dirks and swords. But they were glad of
something. Who were they?"

"I did not see them. The mist was too
thick," he answered. "They were some wild
hunters, perhaps."

"It gives me such a strange feeling to try to
remember, Angus," I said, lifting my forehead
from my hands.

"Don't try," he said. "Give me the
manuscript and get down from the step-ladder.
Come and look at the list of books I have made
for Mr. MacNairn."

I did as he told me, but I felt as if I were
walking in a dream. My mind seemed to have
left my body and gone back to the day when I
sat a little child on the moor and heard the dull
sound of horses' feet and the jingling metal and
the creak of leather coming nearer in the thick

I felt as if Angus were in a queer, half-awake
mood, too--as if two sets of thoughts were
working at the same time in his mind: one his
thoughts about Hector MacNairn and the
books, the other some queer thoughts which
went on in spite of him.

When I was going to leave the library and
go up-stairs to dress for dinner he said a strange
thing to me, and he said it slowly and in a heavy

"There is a thing Jean and I have often talked
of telling you," he said. "We have not known
what it was best to do. Times we have been
troubled because we could not make up our
minds. This Mr. Hector MacNairn is no common
man. He is one who is great and wise
enough to decide things plain people could
not be sure of. Jean and I are glad indeed
that he and his mother are coming. Jean can
talk to her and I can talk to him, being a man
body. They will tell us whether we have been
right or wrong and what we must do."

"They are wise enough to tell you anything,'
I answered. "It sounds as if you and Jean had
known some big secret all my life. But I am
not frightened. You two would go to your
graves hiding it if it would hurt me."

"Eh, bairn!" he said, suddenly, in a queer,
moved way. "Eh, bairn!" And he took hold
of both my hands and kissed them, pressing
them quite long and emotionally to his lips.
But he said nothing else, and when he dropped
them I went out of the room.


It was wonderful when Mr. MacNairn and
his mother came. It was even more
beautiful than I had thought it would be. They
arrived late in the afternoon, and when I took
them out upon the terrace the sun was reddening
the moor, and even the rough, gray towers
of the castle were stained rose-color. There
was that lovely evening sound of birds twittering
before they went to sleep in the ivy. The
glimpses of gardens below seemed like glimpses
of rich tapestries set with jewels. And there
was such stillness! When we drew our three
chairs in a little group together and looked out
on it all, I felt as if we were almost in heaven.

"Yes! yes!" Hector said, looking slowly--
round; "it is all here."

"Yes," his mother added, in her lovely, lovely
voice. "It is what made you Ysobel."

It was so angelic of them to feel it all in that
deep, quiet way, and to think that it was part
of me and I a part of it. The climbing moon
was trembling with beauty. Tender evening
airs quivered in the heather and fern, and the
late birds called like spirits.

Ever since the night when Mrs. MacNairn
had held me in her arms under the apple-tree
while the nightingale sang I had felt toward her
son as if he were an archangel walking on the
earth. Perhaps my thoughts were exaggerated,
but it seemed so marvelous that he should be
moving among us, doing his work, seeing and
talking to his friends, and yet that he should
know that at any moment the great change
might come and he might awaken somewhere
else, in quite another place. If he had been
like other men and I had been like other girls,
I suppose that after that night when I heard the
truth I should have been plunged into the
darkest woe and have almost sobbed myself to
death. Why did I not? I do not know except
--except that I felt that no darkness could come
between us because no darkness could touch
him. He could never be anything but alive
alive. If I could not see him it would only be
because my eyes were not clear and strong
enough. I seemed to be waiting for something.
I wanted to keep near him.

I was full of this feeling as we sat together
on the terrace and watched the moon. I could
scarcely look away from him. He was rather
pale that evening, but there seemed to be a
light behind his pallor, and his eyes seemed to
see so much more than the purple and yellow
of the heather and gorse as they rested on them.

After I had watched him silently for a little
while I leaned forward and pointed to a part
of the moor where there was an unbroken blaze
of gorse in full bloom like a big patch of gold.

"That is where I was sitting when Wee
Brown Elspeth was first brought to me," I said.

He sat upright and looked. "Is it?" he
answered. "Will you take me there to-morrow?
I have always wanted to see the place."

"Would you like to go early in the morning?
The mist is more likely to be there then, as it
was that day. It is so mysterious and beautiful.
Would you like to do that?" I asked him.

"Better than anything else!" he said. "Yes,
let us go in the morning."

"Wee Brown Elspeth seems very near me this
evening," I said. "I feel as if--" I broke off
and began again. "I have a puzzled feeling
about her. This afternoon I found some
manuscript pushed behind a book on a high shelf in
the library. Angus said he had hidden it there
because it was a savage story he did not wish
me to read. It was the history of the feud
between Ian Red Hand and Dark Malcolm
of the Glen. Dark Malcolm's child was called
Wee Brown Elspeth hundreds of years ago--
five hundred, I think. It makes me feel so
bewildered when I remember the one I played

"It was a bloody story," he said. "I heard
it only a few days before we met at Sir Ian's
house in London."

That made me recall something.

"Was that why you started when I told you
about Elspeth?" I asked.

"Yes. Perhaps the one you played with was
a little descendant who had inherited her name,"
he answered, a trifle hurriedly. "I confess I
was startled for a moment."

I put my hand up to my forehead and rubbed
it unconsciously. I could not help seeing a
woesome picture.

"Poor little soul, with the blood pouring from
her heart and her brown hair spread over her
dead father's breast!" I stopped, because a
faint memory came back to me. "Mine," I
stammered--"mine--how strange!--had a great
stain on the embroideries of her dress. She
looked at it--and looked. She looked as if she
didn't like it--as if she didn't understand how
it came there. She covered it with ferns and

I felt as if I were being drawn away into a
dream. I made a sudden effort to come back.
I ceased rubbing my forehead and dropped my
hand, sitting upright.

"I must ask Angus and Jean to tell me about
her," I said. "Of course, they must have
known. I wonder why I never thought of
asking questions before."

It was a strange look I met when I
involuntarily turned toward him--such an absorbed,
strange, tender look!

I knew he sat quite late in the library that
night, talking to Angus after his mother and I
went to our rooms. Just as I was falling asleep
I remember there floated through my mind a
vague recollection of what Angus had said to
me of asking his advice about something; and
I wondered if he would reach the subject in their
talk, or if they would spend all their time in
poring over manuscripts and books together.

The moor wore its most mysterious look when
I got up in the early morning. It had hidden
itself in its softest snows of white, swathing
mist. Only here and there dark fir-trees showed
themselves above it, and now and then the
whiteness thinned or broke and drifted. It
was as I had wanted him to see it--just as I
had wanted to walk through it with him.

We had met in the hall as we had planned,
and, wrapped in our plaids because the early
morning air was cold, we tramped away together.
No one but myself could ever realize
what it was like. I had never known that there
could be such a feeling of companionship in the
world. It would not have been necessary for
us to talk at all if we had felt silent. We should
have been saying things to each other without
words. But we did talk as we walked--in quiet
voices which seemed made quieter by the mist,
and of quiet things which such voices seemed
to belong to.

We crossed the park to a stile in a hedge where
a path led at once on to the moor. Part of the
park itself had once been moorland, and was
dark with slender firs and thick grown with
heather and broom. On the moor the mist grew
thicker, and if I had not so well known the path
we might have lost ourselves in it. Also I
knew by heart certain little streams that rushed
and made guiding sounds which were sometimes
loud whispers and sometimes singing babbles.
The damp, sweet scent of fern and heather was
in our nostrils; as we climbed we breathed its

"There is a sort of unearthly loveliness in it
all," Hector MacNairn said to me. His voice
was rather like his mother's. It always seemed
to say so much more than his words.

"We might be ghosts," I answered. "We
might be some of those the mist hides because
they like to be hidden."

"You would not be afraid if you met one of
them?" he said.

"No. I think I am sure of that. I should
feel that it was only like myself, and, if I could
hear, might tell me things I want to know."

"What do you want to know?" he asked me,
very low. "You!"

"Only what everybody wants to know--that
it is really AWAKENING free, ready for wonderful
new things, finding oneself in the midst of
wonders. I don't mean angels with harps and
crowns, but beauty such as we see now; only
seeing it without burdens of fears before and
behind us. And knowing there is no reason to
be afraid. We have all been so afraid. We
don't know how afraid we have been--of everything."

I stopped among the heather and threw my
arms out wide. I drew in a great, joyous
morning breath.

"Free like that! It is the freeness, the
light, splendid freeness, I think of most."

"The freeness!" he repeated. "Yes, the

"As for beauty," I almost whispered, in a sort
of reverence for visions I remembered, "I have
stood on this moor a thousand times and seen
loveliness which made me tremble. One's soul
could want no more in any life. But `Out on
the Hillside' I KNEW I was part of it, and it was
ecstasy. That was the freeness."

"Yes--it was the freeness," he answered.

We brushed through the heather and the
bracken, and flower-bells shook showers of
radiant drops upon us. The mist wavered and
sometimes lifted before us, and opened up
mystic vistas to veil them again a few minutes
later. The sun tried to break through, and
sometimes we walked in a golden haze.

We fell into silence. Now and then I glanced
sidewise at my companion as we made our
soundless way over the thick moss. He looked
so strong and beautiful. His tall body was so
fine, his shoulders so broad and splendid! How
could it be! How could it be! As he tramped
beside me he was thinking deeply, and he
knew he need not talk to me. That made me
glad--that he should know me so well and
feel me so near. That was what he felt when
he was with his mother, that she understood
and that at times neither of them needed words.

Until we had reached the patch of gorse
where we intended to end our walk we did not
speak at all. He was thinking of things which
led him far. I knew that, though I did not
know what they were. When we reached the
golden blaze we had seen the evening before it
was a flame of gold again, because--it was only
for a few moments--the mist had blown apart
and the sun was shining on it.

As we stood in the midst of it together--Oh!
how strange and beautiful it was!--Mr. MacNairn
came back. That was what it seemed to
me--that he came back. He stood quite still
a moment and looked about him, and then he
stretched out his arms as I had stretched out
mine. But he did it slowly, and a light came
into his face.

"If, after it was over, a man awakened as you
said and found himself--the self he knew, but
light, free, splendid--remembering all the ages
of dark, unknowing dread, of horror of some
black, aimless plunge, and suddenly seeing all
the childish uselessness of it--how he would
stand and smile! How he would stand and

Never had I understood anything more
clearly than I understood then. Yes, yes!
That would be it. Remembering all the waste
of fear, how he would stand and SMILE!

He was smiling himself, the golden gorse
about him already losing its flame in the light
returning mist-wraiths closing again over it,
when I heard a sound far away and high up the
moor. It sounded like the playing of a piper.
He did not seem to notice it.

"We shall be shut in again," he said. "How
mysterious it is, this opening and closing! I like
it more than anything else. Let us sit down,

He spread the plaid we had brought to sit on,
and laid on it the little strapped basket Jean
had made ready for us. He shook the mist
drops from our own plaids, and as I was about
to sit down I stopped a moment to listen.

"That is a tune I never heard on the pipes
before," I said. "What is a piper doing out on
the moor so early?"

He listened also. "It must be far away. I
don't hear it," he said. "Perhaps it is a bird

"It is far away," I answered, "but it is not
a bird. It's the pipes, and playing such a
strange tune. There! It has stopped!"

But it was not silent long; I heard the tune
begin again much nearer, and the piper was
plainly coming toward us. I turned my head.

The mist was clearing, and floated about like
a thin veil through which one could see objects.
At a short distance above us on the moor I saw
something moving. It was a man who was
playing the pipes. It was the piper, and almost
at once I knew him, because it was actually my
own Feargus, stepping proudly through the
heather with his step like a stag on the hills.
His head was held high, and his face had a sort
of elated delight in it as if he were enjoying
himself and the morning and the music in a
new way. I was so surprised that I rose to my
feet and called to him.

"Feargus!" I cried. "What--"

I knew he heard me, because he turned and
looked at me with the most extraordinary
smile. He was usually a rather grave-faced
man, but this smile had a kind of startling
triumph in it. He certainly heard me, for he
whipped off his bonnet in a salute which was as
triumphant as the smile. But he did not
answer, and actually passed in and out of sight
in the mist.

When I rose Mr. MacNairn had risen, too.
When I turned to speak in my surprise, he had
fixed on me his watchful look.

"Imagine its being Feargus at this hour!" I
exclaimed. "And why did he pass by in such
a hurry without answering? He must have
been to a wedding and have been up all night.
He looked--" I stopped a second and laughed.

"How did he look?" Mr. MacNairn asked.

"Pale! That won't do--though he certainly
didn't look ill." I laughed again. "I'm
laughing because he looked almost like one of the
White People."

"Are you sure it was Feargus?" he said.

"Quite sure. No one else is the least like
Feargus. Didn't you see him yourself?"

"I don't know him as well as you do; and
there was the mist," was his answer. "But he
certainly was not one of the White People when
I saw him last night."

I wondered why he looked as he did when
he took my hand and drew me down to my
place on the plaid again. He did not let it go
when he sat down by my side. He held it in
his own large, handsome one, looking down on it
a moment or so; and then he bent his head and
kissed it long and slowly two or three times.

"Dear little Ysobel!" he said. "Beloved,
strange little Ysobel."

"Am I strange!" I said, softly.

"Yes, thank God!" he answered.

I had known that some day when we were
at Muircarrie together he would tell me what
his mother had told me--about what we three
might have been to one another. I trembled
with happiness at the thought of hearing him
say it himself. I knew he was going to say it

He held my hand and stroked it. "My
mother told you, Ysobel--what I am waiting
for?" he said.


"Do you know I love you?" he said, very low.

"Yes. I love you, too. My whole life
would have been heaven if we could always
have been together," was my answer.

He drew me up into his arms so that my
cheek lay against his breast as I went on,
holding fast to the rough tweed of his jacket
and whispering: "I should have belonged to
you two, heart and body and soul. I should
never have been lonely again. I should have
known nothing, whatsoever happened, but
tender joy."

"Whatsoever happened?" he murmured.

"Whatsoever happens now, Ysobel, know
nothing but tender joy. I think you CAN. `Out on
the Hillside!' Let us remember."

"Yes, yes," I said; " `Out on the Hillside.' "
And our two faces, damp with the sweet mist,
were pressed together.


The mist had floated away, and the moor
was drenched with golden sunshine when
we went back to the castle. As we entered the
hall I heard the sound of a dog howling, and
spoke of it to one of the men-servants who had
opened the door.

"That sounds like Gelert. Is he shut up

Gelert was a beautiful sheep-dog who
belonged to Feargus and was his heart's friend.
I allowed him to be kept in the courtyard.

The man hesitated before he answered me,
with a curiously grave face.

"It is Gelert, miss. He is howling for his
master. We were obliged to shut him in the

"But Feargus ought to have reached here by
this time," I was beginning.

I was stopped because I found Angus Macayre
almost at my elbow. He had that moment
come out of the library. He put his hand on
my arm.

`Will ye come with me?" he said, and led me
back to the room he had just left. He kept
his hand on my arm when we all stood together
inside, Hector and I looking at him in wondering
question. He was going to tell me something--
we both saw that.

"It is a sad thing you have to hear," he said.
"He was a fine man, Feargus, and a most
faithful servant. He went to see his mother last
night and came back late across the moor.
There was a heavy mist, and he must have lost
his way. A shepherd found his body in a tarn
at daybreak. They took him back to his
father's home."

I looked at Hector MacNairn and again at
Angus. "But it couldn't be Feargus," I cried.
"I saw him an hour ago. He passed us playing
on his pipes. He was playing a new tune I
had never heard before a wonderful, joyous
thing. I both heard and SAW him!"

Angus stood still and watched me. They
both stood still and watched me, and even in
my excitement I saw that each of them looked
a little pale.

"You said you did not hear him at first, but
you surely saw him when he passed so near,"
I protested. "I called to him, and he took
off his bonnet, though he did not stop. He was
going so quickly that perhaps he did not hear
me call his name."

What strange thing in Hector's look checked
me? Who knows?

"You DID see him, didn't you?" I asked of

Then he and Angus exchanged glances, as if
asking each other to decide some grave thing.
It was Hector MacNairn who decided it.

"No," he answered, very quietly, "I neither
saw nor heard him, even when he passed.
But you did."

"I did, quite plainly," I went on, more and
more bewildered by the way in which they kept
a sort of tender, awed gaze fixed on me. "You
remember I even noticed that he looked pale. I
laughed, you know, when I said he looked almost
like one of the White People--"

Just then my breath caught itself and I
stopped. I began to remember things--hundreds
of things.

Angus spoke to me again as quietly as Hector
had spoken.

"Neither Jean nor I ever saw Wee Brown
Elspeth," he said--"neither Jean nor I. But
you did. You have always seen what the rest
of us did not see, my bairn--always."

I stammered out a few words, half in a
whisper. "I have always seen what you others
could not see? WHAT--HAVE--I--SEEN?"

But I was not frightened. I suppose I could
never tell any one what strange, wide, bright
places seemed suddenly to open and shine before
me. Not places to shrink back from--oh no!
no! One could be sure, then--SURE! Feargus
had lifted his bonnet with that extraordinary
triumph in his look--even Feargus, who had
been rather dour.

"You called them the White People," Hector
MacNairn said.

Angus and Jean had known all my life.
A very old shepherd who had looked in my
face when I was a baby had said I had the eyes
which "SAW." It was only the saying of an old
Highlander, and might not have been remembered.
Later the two began to believe I had
a sight they had not. The night before Wee
Brown Elspeth had been brought to me Angus
had read for the first time the story of Dark
Malcolm, and as they sat near me on the moor
they had been talking about it. That was why
he forgot himself when I came to ask them where
the child had gone, and told him of the big,
dark man with the scar on his forehead. After
that they were sure.

They had always hidden their knowledge from
me because they were afraid it might frighten
me to be told. I had not been a strong child.
They kept the secret from my relatives because
they knew they would dislike to hear it and
would not believe, and also would dislike me as
a queer, abnormal creature. Angus had fears
of what they might do with doctors and severe
efforts to obliterate from my mind my "nonsense,"
as they would have been sure to call it.
The two wise souls had shielded me on every

"It was better that you should go on thinking
it only a simple, natural thing," Angus said.
"And as to natural, what IS natural and what
is not? Man has not learned all the laws of
nature yet. Nature's a grand, rich, endless
thing, always unrolling her scroll with writings
that seem new on it. They're not new. They
were always written there. But they were not
unrolled. Never a law broken, never a new
law, only laws read with stronger eyes."

Angus and I had always been very fond of the
Bible--the strange old temple of wonders, full of
all the poems and tragedies and histories of man,
his hates and battles and loves and follies, and
of the Wisdom of the universe and the promises
of the splendors of it, and which even those of
us who think ourselves the most believing
neither wholly believe nor will understand.
We had pored over and talked of it. We had
never thought of it as only a pious thing to do.
The book was to us one of the mystic, awe-
inspiring, prophetic marvels of the world.

That was what made me say, half whispering:
"I have wondered and wondered what it meant
--that verse in Isaiah: `Behold the former things
are come to pass and new things do I declare;
before they spring forth I tell you of them.'
Perhaps it means only the unrolling of the

"Aye, aye!" said Angus; "it is full of such
deep sayings, and none of us will listen to them."

"It has taken man eons of time," Hector
MacNairn said, thinking it out as he spoke--
"eons of time to reach the point where he is
beginning to know that in every stock and stone
in his path may lie hidden some power he has
not yet dreamed of. He has learned that
lightning may be commanded, distance
conquered, motion chained and utilized; but he,
the one CONSCIOUS force, has never yet begun
to suspect that of all others he may be the one
as yet the least explored. How do we know
that there does not lie in each of us a wholly
natural but, so far, dormant power of sight--a
power to see what has been called The Unseen
through all the Ages whose sightlessness has
made them Dark? Who knows when the
Shadow around us may begin to clear? Oh, we
are a dull lot--we human things--with a queer,
obstinate conceit of ourselves."

"Complete we think we are," Angus murmured
half to himself . "Finished creatures!
And look at us! How many of us in a million
have beauty and health and full power? And
believing that the law is that we must crumple
and go to pieces hour by hour! Who'd waste
the time making a clock that went wrong as
often? Nay, nay! We shall learn better than
this as time goes on. And we'd better be
beginning and setting our minds to work on it.
'Tis for us to do--the minds of us. And what's
the mind of us but the Mind that made us?
Simple and straight enough it is when once
you begin to think it out. The spirit of you
sees clearer than we do, that's all," he said to
me. "When your mother brought you into
the world she was listening to one outside
calling to her, and it opened the way for

At night Hector MacNairn and his mother
and I sat on the terrace under stars which
seemed listening things, and we three drew
nearer to one another, and nearer and nearer.

"When the poor mother stumbled into the
train that day," was one of the things Hector
told me, "I was thinking of The Fear and of my
own mother. You looked so slight and small
as you sat in your corner that I thought at first
you were almost a child. Then a far look in
your eyes made me begin to watch you. You
were so sorry for the poor woman that you
could not look away from her, and something
in your face touched and puzzled me. You
leaned forward suddenly and put out your hand
protectingly as she stepped down on to the

"That night when you spoke quite naturally
of the child, never doubting that I had seen it,
I suddenly began to suspect. Because of The
Fear"--he hesitated--"I had been reading and
thinking many things new to me. I did not
know what I believed. But you spoke so
simply, and I knew you were speaking the
truth. Then you spoke just as naturally of
Wee Brown Elspeth. That startled me because
not long before I had been told the tale in the
Highlands by a fine old story-teller who is the
head of his clan. I saw you had never heard
the story before. And yet you were telling me
that you had played with the child."

"He came home and told me about you,"
Mrs. MacNairn said. "His fear of The Fear
was more for me than for himself. He knew
that if he brought you to me, you who are more
complete than we are, clearer-eyed and nearer,
nearer, I should begin to feel that he was not
going--out. I should begin to feel a reality
and nearness myself. Ah, Ysobel! How we
have clung to you and loved you! And then
that wonderful afternoon! I saw no girl with
her hand through Mr. Le Breton's arm; Hector
saw none. But you saw her. She was THERE!"

"Yes, she was there," I answered. "She
was there, smiling up at him. I wish he could
have known."

What does it matter if this seems a strange
story? To some it will mean something; to
some it will mean nothing. To those it has a
meaning for it will open wide windows into the
light and lift heavy loads. That would be quite
enough, even if the rest thought it only the
weird fancy of a queer girl who had lived alone
and given rein to her silliest imaginings. I
wanted to tell it, howsoever poorly and
ineffectively it was done. Since I KNEW I have
dropped the load of ages--the black burden.
Out on the hillside my feet did not even feel the
grass, and yet I was standing, not floating. I
had no wings or crown. I was only Ysobel out
on the hillside, free!

This is the way it all ended.

For three weeks that were like heaven we
three lived together at Muircarrie. We saw
every beauty and shared every joy of sun and
dew and love and tender understanding.

After one lovely day we had spent on the
moor in a quiet dream of joy almost strange in its
perfectness, we came back to the castle; and,
because the sunset was of such unearthly
radiance and changing wonder we sat on the terrace
until the last soft touch of gold had died out
and left the pure, still, clear, long summer

When Mrs. MacNairn and I went in to dress
for dinner, Hector lingered a little behind us
because the silent beauty held him.

I came down before his mother did, and I
went out upon the terrace again because I saw
he was still sitting there. I went to the stone
balustrade very quietly and leaned against it as
I turned to look at him and speak.

Then I stood quite still and looked long--for
some reason not startled, not anguished, not
even feeling that he had gone. He was more
beautiful than any human creature I had ever
seen before. But It had happened as they said
it would. He had not ceased--but something
else had. Something had ceased.

It was the next evening before I came out on
the terrace again. The day had been more
exquisite and the sunset more wonderful than
before. Mrs. MacNairn was sitting by her son's
side in the bedroom whose windows looked over
the moor. I am not going to say one word of
what had come between the two sunsets.
Mrs. MacNairn and I had clung--and clung.
We had promised never to part from each other.
I did not quite know why I went out on the
terrace; perhaps it was because I had always
loved to sit or stand there.

This evening I stood and leaned upon the
balustrade, looking out far, far, far over the
moor. I stood and gazed and gazed. I was
thinking about the Secret and the Hillside. I
was very quiet--as quiet as the twilight's self.
And there came back to me the memory of what
Hector had said as we stood on the golden
patch of gorse when the mist had for a moment
or so blown aside, what he had said of man's
awakening, and, remembering all the ages of
childish, useless dread, how he would stand--

I did not turn suddenly, but slowly. I was
not startled in the faintest degree. He stood
there close to me as he had so often stood.

And he stood--and smiled.

I have seen him many times since. I shall
see him many times again. And when I see
him he always stands--and smiles.

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