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CHAPTER III.

CLAY IDOLS.

IT! “it; " the body ;” that perishable of Meg Carmichael. I was not ignorant of form which had clothed the eternal soul, the indecent infatuation of your brother for and was now to be carried away and hidden that low-born and low-bred woman; and the under the earth,“ to suffer corruption,” and last thing I should have expected from you, join the unseen throng of those whose place on coming into the estates, was the admisin this world “shall know them no more.” sion of such base claims on the part of per

The loud sound of her tempestuous wail- sons who have no more real right to Torrieing seemed to float out and follow Sir Doug- burn than your father's head-keeper, and las, as he at length left the house, and re- are about as fit to set up there as lairds of crossed the dreadful bridge which had been the place." the scene of that tragedy. The dead horse, whose neck had been broken in the leap, was still lying there; the waters gurgling round the new obstacle, and waving the glossy mane to and fro, like a row of reeds. The dreary rain was still drifting with the wind against the soaked stems of the fir- In spite of the opinion thus enunciated by trees; and the 8: arlet berries and yellowing the widow of his misguided father, Sir Dougleaves of the mountain ash, or rowan-tree, las took up the trust his brother left him in tossed and swung above the torrent, far over all the simplicity of good faith. Little Kenhead ; dropping now and then a bead of neth was acknowledged and installed as red like a blood-gout into the whirling wa- “Kenneth Carmichael Ross of Torrieburn," ters that swept them away. Even so were and a tutor appointed to teach and care for swept away all the hopes, plans, and reso- him as the young laird. Fain would Sir lutions maile only the night previous in be- Douglas have removed him from his mother, half of his brother, by Sir Douglas Ross of and from all the early associations of the Glenrossie. And as the sobbing storm died place; but the same ungovernable spirit, down on wood and mountain, and one pale which had struck him with so much amazecrimson and melancholy streak gleamed ment at the time of poor Kenneth's death, light from a sunset that promised a better was displayed in all her dealings with others. day, even so did the gleaming hope of being Her grief was despair: it was followed by a of use to little Kenneth (so like the Ken- nervous fever: the fever by a disturbed state neth his earliest boyish recollections brought of nerves bordering on insanity. And then back to him !), break through the miserable she recovered, like a creature that has moangloom in his kindly mind.

ed for its whelps and gradually forgotten On arriving at the castle he described them. the scenes he had witnessed, and the death No sooner had she lifted from the pressure that had so unexpectedly taken place, to of that woe, than a wilfulness exceeding all Lady Ross. She lieard it, as she had heard poor Kenneth had ever shown, took its of the death of her husband, with frigid place. She considered herself, under that composure. Her daughter also seemed un- declaration of marriage, as the natural ocmoved ; except by a certain amount of sur- cupier and possessor of Torrieburn House prise, and the curiosity of one who listens till her son should be grown up. to the account of a strange event.

tablished her mother there, as indeed might But when Sir Douglas, endeavouring to have been expected; her father, the old milrepress the evidence how much he himself ler of Torrieburn, coming frequently over was moved, wound up his narration by en- — sometimes to complain of the inconvendeavouring to enlist what pity there might ience of his wife's residence apart from him, be in Lady Ross's heart for the orphan and sometimes to quarrel both with her and her his wretched parent, then indeed a slight daughter, sometimes to carouse with comchange was visible in Lady Ross's counte- panions for whom she could scarcely refuse

The indifference that had reigned to provide whiskey in a limited or unlimited there was replaced by a look of supercilious quantity. With the first tutor, appointed . scorn ; and, when Sir Douglas imprudently to the care of her son, she entered into relafaltered — “Being yourself a mother, I tions so unseemly, after the subsiding of her thought perhaps — ” she flashed that look grief, that, the fact coming to the ears of Sir of scorn full upon him, with the speech, "I Douglas, he wrote her a letter of remonbeg to remind you, Sir Douglas, that I am strance; and substituted a somewhat stern not the mother of children legitimized on a but very sensible pedagogue in his stead, death-bed. Nor am I a miller's daughter; with whom she incessantly quarrelled, and which, I understand, was the social position from whose authority she encouraged her

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boy to appeal. Sir Douglas was always re- her half-brother's wishes, and a disposition ceiving letters from the boy or his mother to see to all those minor arrangements of a complaining of severity, complaining of in- household which a man cannot see to himjustice; till, at length, wearied out by peti- self, and which that astute and įreserved tions and objurgations, a fresh substitution little personage performed as well as any was made, and a tutor sent of good educa- hired housekeeper, if not better. tion, with excellent recommendations, and When Sir Douglas first beheld the boy private instructions to " show as much in- for whom, unseen, he had been caring, and dulgence as was consistent with good disci- whose future he was so anxiously about to pline.” This time Meg Carmichael made arrange, soldier though he was, he burst infurther changes impossible by marrying the to tears. Kenneth stood before him! Kentutor: and the ill-assorted household contin- neth in the days before they were parted – ued on the most comfortless footing,—the Kenneth when they used to climb the hills wayward, handsome woman alternately with their arms round each other's necks quarrelling with her husband, and giving Kenneth before the cold cloud of difference herself airs as “Mrs Ross of Torrieburn,” - mistily rose between them. And, though or bestowing on him some of the wild ado- Sir Douglas kept to his resolution, and sent ration which had formerly been the portion the lad both to school and college, - undeof poor Kenneth: and the tutor-husband terred by the loud wailing of Mrs. Maggie vainly trying to make head, in the house Ross, who ran along the edge of the high that was scarcely to be called his own, road weeping and waving her handkerchief against the drunken old miller and his boon at the mail-coach the first day he departed, companions, the bustling and shrewish old and who constantly made his recurring holiwoman his wife, and the disposition to shirk days terms of the most corrupting influence all control and all guidance in the lovely of folly and over-indulgence, - yet the little boy whose position, as the future depths of love be felt for that orphan lad "laird,” was acknowledged, in different were such as rarely exist even in a father's forms of folly and flattery, by all around him heart for a favourite child. It was a pasin the narrow circle of home. A hint from sion with Sir Douglas. What Kenneth Sir Douglas that it would soon be time to did, what Kenneth said, what Kenneth send him to a good school was received with thought, was the principal occupation of his such a storm of indignation and despair, own more mature mind. Inwardly he vowsuch ill-spelt, ill-worded letters of passionate ed never to marry: to bring the boy up as remonstrance, that Sir Douglas put off all his heir: to make his home not at Torriefurther alteration in young Kenneth's des- burn but Glenrossie, and suffer that tiny till he could get home from his com- living image of his dead brother to mand, and personally superintend the ne- after him,” when he, too, should be dead cessary changes. That the boy was well and gone. taught by his tutor-father was evidenced by As time rolled on, however, much anxiethe letters he wrote; and which, though they ty was mingled with Sir Douglas's love. half-nettled, half-amused Sir Douglas by The wayward son of that wayward race their tone of presumption, addressing him seemed turning out yet more wayward and entirely " dégal en égal,” were such as no rebellious than all that had preceded him. boy of inferior education or inferior intelli- Drunkenness, a love of low company, of gence could possibly have penned. being what is vulgarly termed “ cock of the

At length the day came when Sir Doug- walk,” the most profuse extravagance as to las Ross of Glenrossie returned as a resident money matters, and a sort of careless to the home of his fathers ! His stepmother defiance of all authority, more especially had been dead some time; but her daughter the constituted authority of his stately unhad, by his own express wish, continued to cle, whom at this time he and all around reside in the castle ; nor had he the heart, him took to calling by the title I have alwhen he found that lonely young spinster ready commenied upon,

6 Old Sir Dougthere, to enter on the topic of her removal. las," - all these defects, and more, showed It would be time enough, Sir Douglas themselves in Kenneth's son. And all thought, when he was married, if ever he these defects did Sir Douglas believe he married. Her mother bad been odious, but could, by care and resolution, weed out of that was not the daughter's fault; and there that hot young head and heart, as the garwas nothing offensive in her, personally. dener weeded the broad walks in the long: On the contrary, she appeared especially forsaken gardens of Glenrossie. Twice had anxious to preserve the home she had ac- he paid the debts of the young collegian, quired, by the most absolute acquiescence in and received, in answer to his imploring lec

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tures, the most satisfactory promises for acquaintance he had made with the most the future. A third time he called upon eager interest for Sir Douglas's sake, was his uncle to clear him, and this time Sir becoming a noted character among the EngDouglas thought fit, greatly to the young lish visitors, with anything but credit to man's discontent, to consider his college ca- himself and family; that the young man reer as closed, and send biin to travel. Fain who had been engaged to accompany him would he have made the lad his own com- desired to resign his trust into Sir Dougpanion, but there was so much chance of las's bands, feeling it to be positively disill-will and hot lood in the attempts at con- honest to continue receiving a high salary, trol over his actions that he dreaded to un- as travelling tutor, for the supposed per. dertake it, lest it should make a “ break formance of duties which the disposition of between them.

Kenneth Ross rendered it impossible to With the most liberal allowance it was fulfil. Finally, that he thought Sir Doug. possible to grant, and the most intelligent las could not do better than come him. companion be could find, — little over Ken- self to Italy, where Lorimer Boyd would be neth's own age, and full of good and amia- overjoyed to see him, and where new arble qualities, - Sir Douglas despatched his rangements might, he hoped, be made; nephew on what in old-fashioned days was ending with the ominous words, “for, if called "the grand tour;” and, with a pang something is not done, and that speedily, I at his affectionate heart, stood on the steps should fear that this young lad, to whom at the castle entrance, and saw that hand- you have shown such generous kindness, some careless head smile a final farewell will turn out utterly worthless." from the chaise window, and waited till the The next day saw Sir Douglas Ross on sound of wheels died away in the distance, his way to London, to procure his passport and lifted his cap, with a half-murmured and proceed to his destination. He reached prayer, before he turned back into the great it without event; and, in the satisfaction hall.

evinced by Lorimer Boyd, and the pleasant There, everything looked as it did in his converse of that old friend, balf forgot the own boyhood and adolescence; as when he pain of observing that his unexpected comran away from home; when he was sent to ing had produced in young Kenneth no school ; when he returned in eager glad- other evidence of emotion than a sort of ness to be pressed in Kenneth's arms; when discontented surprise. he tried to persuade his father to give Ken- “Well, well,” thought the uncle, indulneth some profession; when he looked out gently," he probably knows he has been into the stormy night, and saw that brother complained of, and I must make allowance ride away for the last time ; and all these for that.” scenes chased each other through his mus- In the evening, fidgeting a little over the ing mind — all terminating in the one lead- long colloquy after their late dinner, at ing thought, What would be the future of which Lorimer Boyd was the sole guest, Kenneth's son ?

Kenneth said, “I am now going out; going The accounts sent from time to time were to a party, — a very decent family party," far from reassuring. Young Kenneth ac- added he, with a half saucy, half angry knowledged no power of control in the stu- smile. " Will you come too, Uncle Dougdent-companion allotted for his tour, but las? I know Mr. Lorimer Boyd is dying treated him as a sort of confidential cou- to get there, instead of talking any more rier, bound to take all trouble off his hands, to you, for there is to be amateur music, provide for his amusements, and carefully and some of his particular friends are to minister to his comforts, but nothing more. sing.” The one vice, too, from wbich Kenneth had Something of gloom and displeasure overhitherto been guarded, that of immorality, shadowed Lorimer Boyd's countenance,

which his mother, remembering her own and apparently, in spite of assumed caredestiny, watched over with a jealous care lessness, the young man felt it, for he addshe bestowed on nothing else, - seemed ed hastily, “ I believe he's as fond of music rapidly to be taking rank among the young as you are, Uncle, and that is saying a good laird's already established errors; and at deal.” length Sir Douglas received one morning, “My dear boy, I'll go wherever you are by the early post at Glenrossie, a very long, both going; we can all go together; if very tender, very comfortless letter from Lorimer will undertake to introduce me, I the friend of_Eton days, Lorimer Boyd, shall be charmed to plunge at once into then at the English Legation at Naples, the dissipations of Naples. informing him that young Kenneth, whose Lorimer started out of some sort of rev

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erie in which he had been absorbed ; and, to punt him over in her father's absence ; with half a sigh and half a laugh, he said, accepts the offer, but is greatly troubled in "I fear you won't find much to charm you his mind by the fact that the reeds keep in the set that are at present in Naples; bowing wherever the boat passes, though but this is a pleasant enough house, and there is not a breath of wind; and that, as certainly the music is divine.

the young girl berself bends to the water, Lorimer Boyd made his introduction her face is reflected there, not as she actuwith a degree of shyness, which no experi- ally appears, but with a wreath of lilies ence of the world had conquered in him; round her head. He comprehends immedibut stately Sir Douglas was greeted with ately (as people do, in dreams and in Gergreat eagerness as a new-comer amongst man ballads), that she is something superthe little society; nor were there wanting natural, - and spends the remainder of his looks of surprised admiration and whispers shortened and grieving days in perpetually of inquiry, as the handsome soldier made paddling in and out among the reeds ; callhis way through the busy crowd to a place ing for her, looking for her, pining for her, near the piano. For it was true that Sir because, as the poet writes it, he has been Douglas was very fond of music; and the bewitched “ by that little red mouth so full one faint recollection he retained of his of songs !” mother was the shape of her lovely mouth Sir Douglas was roused from his fanciful and the soft darkness of her eyes, singing musing by a real song ; and, by some strange some snatch of an old ballad of unhappy coincidence, a German song.

lady had sat down to the piano. His “He turned him round and right about

nephew was standing by her, waiting to All on that foreign shore;

turn the leaf when the verse should be He gave his bridle reins a shake,

completed. She shook her head gently, With Adieu for evermore, my dear,

and said, in a low voice, " I know them all With adieu for evermore!''

by heart." Then came the rich melody of

one of those soft contralto voices the very Nothing is so capricious as memory: sound of which gives the sensation of a Why one incident is remembered and all caress to the listener; a little trembling others forgotten - why a person with whom too, — not the trembling of shyness, but we have lived in intimacy for years is re- that peculiar tremolo natural to some voices, called always by one, or, at the most, by and which rather adds to, than takes away two or three different aspects, — on occa- from their power. sions neither more nor less important than A German song; a German “ Gooda thousand others, --- are mysteries of the night;" something ineffably coaxing, soothworking of the brain, where these memo- ing, and peaceful in its harmonious notes. ries are packed away, which the profound- Involuntarily Sir Douglas sighed; he felt est of our philosophers have been, and are, a strange contrast between the anxiety that unable to solve. But certain it is that had prompted his hurried journey, — the among other caprices of memory Sir Doug- storms of his past life, -- and his present las, who had lost his mother in his childhood, feverish fatigue and worry, with that remembered her chiefly by her songs; and delicious lullaby! The girl who was sing, above all by that versified farewell which ing glanced towards him, with soft hazel could have conveyed no idea to a child's eyes that seemed made to match her voice. mind beyond the vague sadness of intona- Then she asked something in an undertone tion. Whenever he thought of his mother, of young Kenneth, and the reply was dishe heard that stanza float upon the air. tinctly heard, “ It is my Uncle Douglas.”. He was thinking of her now, in the midst The young lady's reply was also audible of that assembly of strangers, with no oth- in the silence that followed her song. She er munsprin: ti tre thoughts than the said, in a tone of great surprise, That, Sir sudden touch given by his nephew's remark Douglas ? that Sir Douglas Ross ?” that he was fond of music.

“ Yes," said Kenneth testily; "why not?” His thoughts wandered, too, to a beauti- “ Oh! I don't know," said the girl, laughful German fable as to the effect of certain ing shyly; "only it is not at all my idea of singing - one of their wild stories of wa- him. I never should have guessed that to ter-spirits; in which the hero, impatient at be him, from your way of talking. I exthe old ferryman not being in attendance pected — ” to punt him across a river, swears a good “Expected what?" deal; is stopped by a young girl who says “ I don't know; but I should never have she is the ferryman's daughter, and offers I guessed that to be • Old Sir Douglas.'”

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CHAPTER IV.

UNCLE AND NEPHEW.

As she spoke the last words, she again own more silent and business-like populalooked

up

at the newly-arrived stranger. tion. The valet was extremely reluctant Sir Douglas's eyes were fixed upon her. It to admit Sir Douglas.“ Sua Eccellenza," was but too evident he had overheard what as he termed Kenneth, — had gone to a she had said. Both felt embarrassed as masked ball after the musical soirée at Lady their glances met. Sir Douglas coloured Charlotte's, had only returned at daylight, to the temples; and the young lady blushed. and was not yet awake. But on receiving

the explanations that the parties were related, and that he beheld before him that millionaire Milord of Scotland, of whose unexpected arrival even he had been told as of an important if not satisfactory event,

he became as obsequious as he had been The pleasant evening was followed by a recalcitrant, begging his Excellency to painful morning. Sir Douglas ascertained walk into the other Excellency's apartment, from Lorimer Boyd that, with the one ex- when he would speedily wake the sleeping ception of Lady Charlotte Skifton's (where Excellency, and inform him of the illusthat evening had been passed), Kenneth trious Excellency's visit. Ross had scarcely footing in one respectable Sir Douglas got rid of the bowing valet, house

Naples. llis nights were spent forbidding him to disturb his master. As at the theatre, the gaming table, and in he passed through Kenneth's bedroom, he wild orgies with the idlest of an idle Nea- paused and stood a few moments, with politan aristocracy; and his days in recover- folded arms, leaning against the silk hanging from the debauch of the night. Sums ings and embroidered mosquito curtains of perfectly fabulous, considering his position the luxurious bed, contemplating the sleepand the amount of his very moderate for- er. It was nearly noon, but the dim shadtune, were owing in all directions ; and owy light from the Venetian blinds, broken thrice, but for the painstaking interference by narrow streaks of sunshine that seemed and discretion of Lorimer Boyd, — the re- to quiver and ripple on the floor, as if result of quarrels on the most trivial, or the flected from the dazzling bay below, could most scandalous grounds, would have been not disturb his slumbers. The wonderful a meeting with adversaries not very nice likeness of Kenneth to his father, in that in their code of honour, and infinitely bet- soft dreamy light, melted away the displeater accustomed to the use of pistols. To sure in Sir Douglas's heart. What to do all remonstrance about his gambling or with him, how to set matters right for him, other debts he had constantly affirmed that and, how to reform him, was his sole thought. it would be “all right”; that “ Old Sir " He is yet but young," sighed the uncle, as Douglas " would pay them; and, with a he passed into the sitting-room, where the spirit of exaggeration partly wilful, and open windows admitted at once the brilliant partly arising from ignorance of all things glow of a southern sun, and as much fresh in his uncle's affairs, except the extreme air as Naples can boast in these quarters on readiness to assist him which had been al- the Chiaja. Little enough; since all along ways displayed, he represented himself as that coast-built street lingers a compound nephew to a millionaire; and was looked odour of stale fruit, church incense, tar and upon in the indolent and profligate circles fishing-nets, reeking beasts of burden, and he frequented as related to a sort of Scotch the cheese and garlic of poverty-stricken prince, whose coffers overflowed with gold, and dirty lazzaroni. In the principal sitfor which he had no better use than the ting-room everything was in the same style pampering of his brother's son, the idol of of confused luxury as in the bedroom. his bachelor life, and his eventual heir. Parisian fauteuils and sofas in handsome

Half melancholy and half provoked, Sir chintz covers, hired in to assist the indoDouglas left his hotel for the lodging taken lence of the occupant, formed a strange by his graceless favourite in one of the contrast, and looked, as it were, doubly palazzos on the Chiaja. In the anteroom negligent, by the side of the faded splenhe found an Italian valet smoking one of dour of the tight and upright satin chairs his master's cigars as he leaned carelessly

, and banquettes which formed the original from the window overlooking the Giardin' furniture of the Palazzo; which furniture Reale, with no other occupation, apparent- was indeed but sparsely supplied; the real ly, than that of watching the swarming owner making an arrangement very comcrowd, whose ceaseless shouting and chat- mon in Italy — namely, letting the under tering form so strange a contrast to our and upper apartments, and inhabiting the

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