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question, after being nearly devoured by midges, Samela had, at Gibbs's suggestion, tried to defend herself with a cigarette. "Tobacco! wheu! filthy stuff! it's bad eneuch in a man, but in a wummin-! You'd better no let me catch you at the likes of yon, Jean, ma lass!"
"And do you think I'm going to ask your leave when I want to do aught?" inquired the shrill voice of Jane. For if you do you're wrang!-and how'll you stop me?" Then there was a slight scuffle and a slap and the two happy ones passed on.
"You old scoundrel!" muttered the indignant master as he emerged from his place and continued on his way. "See if I don't sort you for that some day, you sanctimonious old beast! I hope she'll comb your hair for you-what there's left of it-you long-legged old ruffian!" So the old saying was once more justified. Then Gibbs went home with a lot of resolutions and arguments so jumbled up in his brain together that he was quite unequal to the work of laying hold of any particular one and getting it out by itself.
Much to his surprise our fisherman had a good night, and came down to breakfast with quite an appetite. The old Professor had nearly finished-he was an early bird-and he was just off on an expedition in charge of a keeper to a loch some miles away, where a remarkably fine specimen of the Belladona Campanulista was said to have its habitation. Never had he shown himself so crabbed and unsociable as he did that morning. "Really," thought Gibbs, as he dug a spoon into his egg, 66 one would think I had done the old gentleman some personal injury by the way he treats me. But you had better be careful, my old cock! You little know what sort of a bomb-shell may be bursting inside your dearest feelings in the course of a day or two. When you find yourself, with a steerage-ticket in your pocket, on board a P. and O. en route for foreign parts, you will perhaps be sorry that you didn't treat your new relation that was to be rather better." The old cock took this oration (which was delivered in camera) very quietly, and shortly after started for his loch. "It might clear the way if he got into a bog -with no bottom to it," thought Gibbs, as he watched him slowly climbing up the hill opposite. "He is probably beetle
catcher in general to some college-he would be a father-in-law to have!"
On the whole he took a rather less roseate view of matters in the cold daylight. "There is no doubt it would be a horribly rash thing to do," said he as he began to fish his first pool, "knowing nothing about them; I think I'll-" then up came a fish and the line ran out and the reverie was ended.
FORTY miles away over the hills was another river, rented by a man whom Gibbs knew. Had sport been good, nothing short of an order from the War Office would have torn this man away from his water; but his fishing had been poor, and he had announced his intention of taking a holiday from Saturday to Monday and spending it with his old friend. In due time this gentleman, Captain Martingale, arrived, full to overflowing with grumbles and pity for himself.
"I never saw such a place," he exclaimed as soon as they had shaken hands. "It used to be a good river, but it's gone all to grass now.
"Haven't you plenty of water?" inquired Gibbs.
"Water! that's the mischief of it, there's far too much! You wouldn't think a big stream like that would be affected by every shower, but it is-everlastingly jumping up and down! You get to a pool and think it is in pretty good order; you turn round to light a pipe, or tie a lace, or something, and when you look again it's half a foot higher, and rising still! And when I ask my gillie the reason, he points to a small cloud away in the middle of Caithness and says that's it! Of course, nothing will take; and indeed there is nothing to take; those infernal nets get everything; they got over a hundred last Tuesday-several over thirty pounds! I saw the factor the other day and told him what a shame it was, and he just laughed! The last time I was there, when old Newton had it, we used to get our four or five fish a day, and here have I been slaving away from morning to midnight, nearly, for a fortnight, and only got fifteen!''
"Oh, come !" said Gibbs, "that's not so very bad, after all."
"Oh that's all very well for you!" retorted the grumbler. "Look what
you've done. In my opinion Scotland is played out for fishing. I shall go to Norway next year; and I don't know that Norway is not as bad."
Martingale picked up a couple of good fish that evening and so became a little more cheerful. He had been shut up by himself for his two weeks and was consequently very full of conversation, which was all about the great object of his life sport. Before dinner ended he had nearly driven old Mr. Prendergast frantic.
Seems a queer old gentleman," he said the next morning, as Gibbs and he started on a smoking constitutional down the strath. "Not much of a sportsman, I fancy." Gibbs thought he was not much of a sportsman.
"The daughter is a fine-looking girl, though she doesn't look as if she was his daughter. I say, old chap, you had better be careful what you are doing; these are rather dangerous quarters for a sus ceptible man like you!"
When Gibbs learned that his friend was to honor him with a visit he resolved to be most careful in not giving him a hint as to the state of his Gibbs's-feelings. Good fellow as Johnny Martingale was, he was hardly a sympathetic person to confide in when the question at issue concerned a woman. As Quakers have been held to be incapable judges as to the morality of any particular war because they are against all wars, so Martingale's opinions as to any particular woman were worthless, for he was against all womenso far as matrimony was concerned. So Gibbs made this resolve. But instead of fighting shy altogether of the subject and confining the conversation entirely to sport -which he might very easily have done -he allowed himself to hang about on the borderland, as it were, of the matter, and before dinner time that Sunday the soldier knew pretty well what there was to know. In a solemn voice, and with many shakes of his curly head, he pointed out to his friend the danger of the path which lay before him. He explained, and really to listen to him one would have thought he had been married himself half a dozen times all the disadvantages of matrimony.
ous matter." Gibbs climbed on to the top of the other pillar, and, facing his mentor, acknowledged the fact.
"You see," said Martingale, "so long as a man is a bachelor he knows pretty well how he stands; but it is quite a different thing when he's married. He doesn't know then what his income is or which are his own friends and which are his wife's. He can't go off at a moment's notice as we do-whenever he wants; he has to consider this and that and everything. Look at old Bullfinch! I assure you he'd no more dare to pack up his things and come here or go to town for a fortnight without his wife than he dared jump off London Bridge.'
Well, but," objected Gibbs, "Lady Bullfinch is such a caution! You don't often come across a woman like that.
"Don't you be too sure of that! She's married; they all lie low till they're married, and then they make up for lost time."
"Marriage," said this philosopher, climbing on to the top of a stone gatepillar, and emphasizing his remarks with many waves of his pipe, "is a most seri
"I don't think Miss Prendergast would ever be like Lady Bullfinch," said Gibbs.
I'm not so sure of that-you never can tell. She's the son of her fathershe's the daughter of her father I meanand look at him! How would you like to have that old customer about your house for the next twenty years?"
"Ah," said Gibbs, glad to be able now to defend his conduct from the charge of rashness; "I've thought about that! You know he's a great beetle-hunter and ornithologist? Well, I would try and get him some appointment in an out-ofthe-way part of the world to collect them, and write home reports about them. The Government are always glad to get hold of a scientific man; and lots of people would help me, I know. I dare say your brother would ?"
Well, I dare say Bill would do what he could," said Martingale. "And where would you send him too?"
"Oh, I thought of some hot country at first; but any out-of-the-way place would do. Oonalaska is a fine healthy distant hunting-ground, I believe; I was reading about it lately.'
"Oona-what?" inquired Martingale.
do you send him there, to be eaten up ?
No, no, " said Gibbs. "But when Samela and I are married-I mean if Samela and I are married-it would be a great nuisance to have him trotting in and out whenever he liked; and I believe this place is pretty hard to get away from when you are once there."
"Is there anything for him to hunt?" inquired Martingale.
Sure to be in the summer; of course in the winter he would have to vegetateand write his reports."
"Well, there may be something in it," said the soldier, pondering over this summary way of getting rid of a possible father-in-law. "If the old boy is willing to go, it is all right; but I rather think you mayn't find it so easy to pack him off to such a place-he mayn't care about wolves and vegetation."
66 He may not," said Gibbs with rather a downcast face.
"I say, my dear fellow," cried Martingale, nearly falling off his pedestal in his eagerness, don't you be led into
this! You don't know what it is! She has no money, you think? You won't be able to get away from home at all, and what will you do all the time? Go out walks with Samela, eh? You'll get tired of that in time."
"Oh, hang it !" interposed Gibbs, "other people do it and seem fairly happy. I think there's something in a domestic-"
"Oh, I know what you mean !" interrupted Martingale. "The curtains drawn, and the kettle boiling over, and the cat sitting on the hob, and you and Samela in one arm-chair in front of it. You can't always be doing that; and what will you do when all kinds of things break out in the house at the same time?-measles, chicken-pox, small-pox-"
"You had better add scarlet fever and cholera. People don't have those sort of things all at the same time."
"Don't they? You ask my old aunt; she'll tell you. She had scarlet fever and measles and whooping-cough and erysipelas when she was seven years old-all at the same time. Think of your doctor's bills! Think of all the servants giving notice at once! Think of the cold mutton and the rice pudding at two o'clock! And not being able to smoke in the house!
And your horses sold! And a donkeycart for the kids! And think of all their clothes! Oh, Gibbs, my dear fellow, for goodness' sake don't be so rash !"
Gibbs shifted uneasily on his gate-post. "It sounds an awful prospect," he murmured, with a very uneasy countenance. Nothing to what the reality would be," retorted the philosopher. Then there was a long panse, the two worthies sat in silence on their pillars, disconsolately swinging their legs.
"Come, I say, Johnny," said the would-be wooer at last, a sudden light breaking in upon him. "It's all very well for you to sit and preach away like that; how do you know so much about women ?"
"Because I've studied them," replied his mentor sententiously.
I should like to know when. You fish all the spring; you shoot four days a week from August to February, and then hunt till the fishing begins again. I'm sure I don't know how you square your colonel. When do you find time to study them?""
"Ah, that's it," said Martingale, looking very wise. "There's a good gap between the hunting and fishing time, and then there are two days a week over, not counting Sundays; and all the time you devote to those musty books I occupy in studying the female woman."
"Then you've studied a bad sample. I know a lot of men who have married, and I can't at this moment think of one who has had all those diseases yon reckoned up, or who eats cold mutton, or who doesn't smoke in the house if he wants to." "Can't you? Look at old Framshaw.' "Well,-but Mrs. Framshaw is a perfect Gorgon.'
"They nearly all turn out Gorgons when they've got you; and it doesn't follow that when a man says he doesn't care about smoking that he is telling the truth; the wives make them say that. I'll tell you what, Gibbs, if I was you I'd be off." "Do you mean at once?"
I do," said the counsellor, looking very solemn.
Oh, hang it !" exclaimed Gibbs, "I can't go till the end of my month." "Look here," said his friend, earnestly considering, why not go to my place?" "But your water won't carry two rods."
'No, it won't.
Well, now, supposing
I came over here ?" "What! in my place ?" "Well, it would let you away." "You abominable old humbug!" cried Gibbs, jamming his stick into the other's waistcoat, and nearly sending him over backward. "I see what you're after ! You want Samela for yourself, and my fishing as a little amusement into the bargain! I'll see you somewhere first!"
When these two debaters on matrimony came in to dinner, they found that they were to be deprived of the society of their only lady-Samela had a headache and was not visible. Perhaps Mr. Prendergast had not looked forward with much pleasure to his dinner that night, but if he had known what he was to go through while it was taking place, we think he would have followed the example of his daughter without so good a reason. The conversation soon turned on sport, as it was sure to do when Martingale made one of the party. If it had been earlier, hunting would have been the topic to be discussed; if it had been later, shootingnow fishing held the field.
"Ever fished in Sutherland?" inquired Martingale of the Professor.
"No, sir, I have not," replied he. "Fishing is getting played out in Scotland, I think," went on Johnny.
"It is possible," said the old gentle"The fact is of the less moment to me as I never intend to fish in Scotland." Ah," said the other, who could hardly conceive of any one not wishing to fish somewhere. "I dare say you are right; Norway is better, but Norway is not what it used to be." "Probably not," grunted the tormented one.
"Oh, no. Newfoundland is better, but the mosquitoes are very bad thereeat you up; and then there's that place-" looking at Gibbs-" Oonoolooloo-what
is it ?""
"Oonalaska," supplied Gibbs, wishing his friend would be quiet. "Oh, yes. Oonalaska, a fine place for sport that!'' thinking he would do the latter a good turn. Fine place for -beetle-hunting"-suddenly remembering more about the old man's proclivities. "I never heard of the place," said the old man, staring across the table at Martingale.
"What do you mean by long wolves, sir?" demanded Mr. Prendergast.
"Faith, I don't quite know myself," confessed the other. "Easier to shoot, I suppose. Some one once complained of rabbits being too short-eight inches too short. Now, these wolves are of the long breed, they―"
Mr. Prendergast looked at Gibbs as much as to say, "You are responsible for the introduction of this lunatic," and then glared savagely at his vis-à-vis. But the soldier sat with an imperturbable look on his handsome face, twisting his mustache, and quite unconscious of having said anything out of the way.
Here Gibbs interposed. "He's mixing a lot of things up. You great owl," he said, glaring angrily at his friend, "what are you talking about? There's no fishing in Oonalaska, and no beetlesand no wolves, either," he added in desperation. Then the conversation drifted in another direction, and, as soon as he could, Mr. Prendergast made his escape.
"You played it rather rough on me, old man, said the soldier afterward, "about that place."
"The old boy was getting angry," said Gibbs," and besides, what I said was true. There are no beetles in Oonalaska, I have been looking up the authorities, it's too cold for them.' Then you law there?" "I think not, " said Gibbs. "We'll try and find a warmer place for him."
won't send your father-in
"Well, old chap," said Martingale as he got into the dogcart the next morning, "if I can be of any help to you I will. You may rely on me; but if you have a crisis try and have it on a Saturday. I can always get away that day or Sunday ; but I believe that the fish run better about this part of the month, and it might be difficult for me to leave them in the middle of the week, though, of course, if it was very important I would try and manage it." Then with a few last warnings the soldier climbed into his seat and drove off, having performed what he considered to be his mission.
The following day Samela was still in
visible, and Gibbs spent his whole time on the river, fishing and communing with himself. The water was as usual in order, and there were plenty of fish up; a man had, as it were, only to put forth his hand and take them. But even a clean-run, inexperienced salmon will become uneasy when the fly and all the casting line fall in a lump on to his nose; and the best gut will go if the whole force of a powerful greenheart is used to rip it up from a rising fish. "He was thinking he was fishing for a shairk, maist of the day," said Archie grimly on his return to the inn that night. Gibbs lost fish and broke gut, and finally, when trying furiously to lash out an impossible line, got his hook fast in an alder behind him and broke the middle joint of his rod. Then he gave up his paraphernalia to the disgusted Archie, and slowly sauntered home by himself. Out of chaos he had at last evolved order, and his mind was made up. He would not make any attempt to woo Samela, not watch her sketching, or ask her to tea; above all, not give her an opportunity of sitting and looking fascinating in his armchair. In coming to this conclusion he was influenced by the facts, that he knew nothing about her and her father, that he could not afford to marry, and, finally, that he was not at all sure that he was in love with her. A good deal of what Martingale had said he knew to be nonsense; but still, if a man will talk enough nonsense some of it will find a home for itself, especially if it is poured forth on a Sunday morning by a man, looking as wise as Solomon and Rhadamanthus combined, perched on a gatepost.
"Of course I will be perfectly pleasant and courteous to her, thought Gibbs; "but I'll take care it doesn't go beyond that; I am sure it is the right thing to do." And having so determined his course he became cool and almost comfortable again.
Samela joined her father at dinner. Her paleness might be attributed to her indisposition; but was it due also to her headache that she seemed disinclined to talk to Gibbs, disinclined to laugh as she used to laugh, to inquire about his sport, and to ask what funny speeches Archie night have made that day? Had she too been making up her mind?
Gibbs had been looking forward to quite
another meeting than this. He had anticipated some difficulty in gradually withdrawing the light of his countenance from Miss Prendergast; he had thought it quite possible that his courage might be rather put to the test when he had to meet her pleasant smile with one just a little less pleasant, and show her, gently but firmly, that he only looked upon her as a casual acquaintance. It was only a strong confidence in his moral capabilities which enabled him to prepare for the contest he expected. But now it was she who was cool, she who seemed indifferent, she who appeared resolved to treat him as she might treat a gentleman, whom she had met yesterday, and to-morrow was going to say "good-bye" to. Never a whit had Gibbs calculated on all this; and when he tried some small blandishments-for the strong determined man was already beginning to find the ground weak below him, and his moral courage slowly oozing out-it was still the same, they had no effect at all.
Before dinner was half over Gibbs abandoned himself to gloomy forebodings. He forgot all about his good resolvesthey became to him as if they had never been-thin phantoms which had never really occupied his mind. He cast about for some cause for this change. Had some bird of the air brought to her ears the somewhat free conversation which had been carried on about herself and her parent the day before? Had those sagacious-looking black-faced sheep, or some roe crouching in the fern close at hand, delivered a message to her as the modern representative of their old mistress Diana ? No; he thought it was more likely that Martingale was the cause. He was a finelooking man; he was rich; moreover, his brother was a peer, and Johnny bore the little prefix to his name which is sometimes supposed to carry weight with some girls. What a viper! thought Gibbs; and how indecent of the girl to show her feelings so soon!
The dinner crawled along, and at last Samela rose, and with a little bow to Gibbs left the room. And then another astonishing thing happened! The old man became-not genial, for that was not perhaps in his nature, but-as little disagreeable as he could manage to be. He pulled up his chair to the fire, asked Gibbs if he