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quite according to the disciplined habits of an old soldier, yet detesting the perverter of his own Bessie with the whole intensity of his excitable nature, McRonald would gladly have been a ringleader in the riot if he dared disobey the known opinions of Lady Edith. He would have died a martyr at the stake, to see all the many schemes of Father Eustace frustrated; and as the mob, like a rolling sea, came roaring and yelling onwards, he could restrain his eagerness no longer, but waving his highland bonnet in the air, he welcomed their tumultuous approach with a shout of encouragement, such as he had given when leading on his followers to the forlorn hope at Bergenop-Zoom.
A loud hoarse hurrah from the mob had welcomed his appearance, and M‘Ronald was about once more to cheer them on, with his most vehement sympathy, when a hand was laid on his arm, and looking impatiently round, he beheld the pale and anxious countenance of Lady Edith, her lip quivering with agitation, but her eye expressive of gentle command, as she said in low earnest accents,
M Ronald ! you must stop those madmen, or they will lay up for themselves a lifetime of repent
There is death in their faces, and they will murder that man! Can it be possible that I saw you encouraging them ? Go now,--stand in the middle of the road and ask the foremost to stop. You see the ringleaders are all M°Alpines from Clanmarina, and they will attend to you."
Never did the old soldier obey any order so
unwillingly. He would have stood at the command of Lady Edith in the way of an express train, or a menagerie of wild beasts broke loose; but to impede the clansmen in venting on Father Eustace one relentless and unmitigated discharge of their long-delayed vengeance was a very severe test of his obedience. Still the aged warrior's habitual respect for Lady Edith rose superior to all the pleasant excitement of punishing a culprit, whom with his whole soul he abhorred, and discipline prevailed over natural impulse. Touching his cap respectfully, though, truth to say, somewhat sulkily to Lady Edith, he made one or two commanding strides across the road, and placing himself like a colossal giant before the front rank of the fiercely excited mob, he called on them in a military accent to halt.
The people paused in astonishment, while the loud, gruff, angry sound of their voices became for an instant hushed; but the momentary lull
The mob seemed about to proceed with renewed vigour, again uttering fierce cries and menaces; but when they became convinced that the old soldier was trying in earnest to stem the torrent, Andrew Carre shouted to him angrily,
“Have they called out the military, and brought you, M.Ronald, rank and file, to disperse us ? Clear off there! M'Ronald, I never expected to see you side with the Papists. You might as well attempt to lay all this dust on the road with a single water-cart as to stop us
was soon over.
thought you were of the right sort, and quite a brick!"
“ If I were a brick, I would throw myself at your head !” replied the old soldier gruffly endeavouring to hide his own real feelings, and half angry at a jest of Andrew's on his being commander-in-chief of the forces at Clanmarina; « stand at ease there !"
“ I may stand back," replied Andrew, sulkily, “ but I'll never stand at ease while my good old uncle's property is taken from his own son. Who is safe now, if Carre of Daisy bank, who lived and died the best of Protestants, is to be buried as a Papist ? No, M.Ronald! you may stand there making all the signs of the zodiac to stop us, but I'll never believe your heart is with the Papists that carried your own Bessie away.”
M Ronald stopped his unwilling pantomime of signals to allay the mob, and pretended he had done his utmost as a peacemaker, when Lady Edith herself, at length alarmed at the increasing tumult, pale and agitated, opened the little gate of her garden, and stood silently before the clansmen of M• Alpine. In an instant the fierce clamour gave way to a feeling of reverential awe; the storm of hisses and execrations was heard no more; and every cap was respectfully lifted, as their aged benefactress appeared. Tears glittered in Lady Edith's eyes, when she beckoned up to her Andrew and Duncan Carre, nephews of the recently de
eased fariner, who carried his suppositious will as a banner floating aloft over their heads, and said,
in an earnest tone of touching appeal, while they looked at her with a half-awkward and half-defying expression,
“You have had great provocation, but do not now put yourselves frightfully in the wrong, Andrew and Duncan. Do not madly take justice into your own hands. You may, perhaps, do in a moment now deeds which, through time and eternity, you will both repent! I feel most deeply for
you, and for your excellent cousin Robert, but the laws of God and man must not be broken. Trust to them for justice-
Yes, yes!” replied Andrew, in a voice and with a look that evidently meant “no." He then added, in a tone of remorseful respect, “ I wish your ladyship were, for once, a worse adviser. We know you are right, but we wish on this occasion to do wrong. We can dare and die in such a cause as this, but we cannot now be stopped. That man deserves all he can suffer.”
An angry groan from the crowd at this momentary delay was followed by a louder shout than
It was evident that more instantaneous justiee than any laws could sanction was now to be exacted by the excited mob; for some were exchanging hurried sentences in an under tone, ard an hundred eyes were fixed in one unrelenting gaze on Father Eustace, who hung his head, so that no one could tell what that long-disciplined face expressed of anger or fear. To stop the mob now seemed as hopeless an attempt as that of the Sicilians, when they coax Mount Etna to abstain
from an eruption; for the villagers' faces clouded darkly and ominously still, and MoRonald turned to Lady Edith, saying,
“ Your ladyship might as well endeavour to put out a fire by drawing up buckets from a waterless well. They will not be checked, and they cannot be; it is like trying to put a lid on the top of Mount Vesuvius!”
The noisy clamorous cavalcade was about to proceed in its furious progress, when Lady Edith turned to those nearest her, saying, in a voice o piercing anxiety,—“ Have I lived among you so many years in vain? Will none of you listen to one whose only wish is for your good ? Think what Sir Evan would have said !”
Several of the clan Mo Alpine, after a moment's hesitation, disengaging themselves from the roaring whirlpool, respectfully advanced, cap in hand, towards the gate, and stood as if awaiting Lady Edith's orders; but others hesitated; when suddenly Robert Carre, pale as a spectre, hurried through the crowd, and calling on them not to stir, said in a tone of deep feeling to Lady Edith,
“ We ought to have but one wish amongst us, Madam, now—but one to obey our best of friends. Lady Edith Tremorne, in Clanmarina, might speak the savageness out of a mad dog. Let no friend of mine oppose what she desires."
“But," replied his cousin Andrew, “is this man to get off with impunity, after committing a deathbed robbery? It is a crime unknown and undreamed of by any of us till this hour! May