Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

told you

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

They hurried along in silence a little “I believe we had better wait here for a way, and then she stopped short in in- few minutes," said Unah, with some tremcreased dismay. “I thought I knew the ulousness in her voice; “ I told you the road so well, and now I believe I have mist was not only wetting and tiring, it was brought you out of it already. Oh! I wish crazing” — she made a desperate attempt you had come with a better guide !” she to find something to smile at in their misreproached herself bitterly. No, do not take "and then we must try and reach say anything against it, for you do not the bothie - I do not know that it is right know the risk you run. I should not have to venture farther. Perhaps the mist will undertaken to lead you up, even so far as roll off soon — I have seen it pass away in Lochbuy, in such weather. I ought not to half an hour. But that was in spring or bave consented, for I did not like the ap- summer, not in autumn,” she concluded, pearance of the mountain all the morning. with a sigh of apprebension. But it is too late to speak of that. We “I should not mind a bit,” protested must have strayed out of the line we fol- Frank Tempest stoutly; "it would only be lowed in climbing, when we were gathering a little adventure on my part that I should the foxgloves. And now I dare not go boast of all my life afterwards in England, down at random. There is nothing for it where we are not lucky in meeting with but to retrace our steps as far as the edge adventures often, as I have frequently of the wood, unless, indeed, we hit upon

if it were not for you, Miss one of the watercourses, which would be Macdonald. You are wearied out,” he our best chance, and let it direct us." said, with an unconscious inflection of ten. They turned their faces, and lo! the der concern in his tones;

you are wet white cloud which had fallen was at their through already" — he touched her light back, and the lighter mist wreaths were jacket with a mixture of reverence and floating all around or scudding past them, remorse. “ I must do something after we to become dim rack in the valleys. The get back to the bothie. Look here, can rising wind had been blowing dankly upon you stay alone in this kettle of steam for them, though they had hardly felt it since a little while, and let me run down ? I'll they commenced their hasty descent. But manage to make out the way somehow, and dow a chillness so intense that it pierced get help. I'll bring you up a lot of plaids to the marrow, like nothing in life except and shawls and an umbrella at least. Do the touch of the dead, came upon them. give me leave, it will be another feather in

Io a moment the gloss on Unah's auburn my cap, you know,” urged Frank in his bair grew dim as it hung dripping in her growing excitement. neck. Their very eyelashes were beaded He had only a faint idea of the danger with moisture, which filled the eyes and he would brave in his enterprise, but he blurred the sight. If either of them bad had a lively impression of the deprivation been weak of chest there would have been he was about to inflict on himself in a weight as of iron on the breast, and a pain. another sense. He was going to leave her ful griping clutch at the throat. As it was, and shorten the time they were to be alone though these wayfarers were young and on the mountain together — whether in strong, their breath grew labored; they sunshine or in mist mattered little to bim, staggered a little dizzily as they strove to in his exalted frame of mind. But hé recover the lost ground. Instinctively would brace himself manfully to accomFrank Tempest had caught firm hold of plish the sacrifice for her sake. Unah's band, as he would have clutched “ No, indeed!” Unah refused very her sinking in a sea, and be clasped it decidedly and a little indignantly. “It is tighily as they fought their way through I who should have known better than to the soaked heather and watery air. There have brought you into this difficulty. were not many yards to go, but the pair Would you have me send you down to entook many minutes to traverse the space, counter worse dangers on my account?and they found, when they regained the "Is it for that

Is it of me outlying sentries of the birch wood, that you think?” he cried softly, with a glow in they must have come back by a circuitous his eyes and a warmth on his lips in the route.

midst of the bitter cold. Unah stood still exhausted to think what At his words she shrank from him with was to be done next. Under the trees a quick, piteous appeal in her eyes that there was a little clearness, though it was struck him dumb, even while it vexed and no more than a dim obscurity like that of chafed him. She made a great effort to a church wbich has remained all night full rally from her distress and change the sub. of incense, in the chill of the dawn. Iject. She looked at the foxgloves still

[ocr errors]

a

you care?

[ocr errors]

hanging over his arm, and which had be with him. It is like committing folly in a come limp and sodden within the short church, and turning God's house into interval since they were pulled.

worse than a place of merchandise a den “ I have heard,” she said with another of thieves. Be quiet, Mr. Tempest, or I small yet courageous essay at pleasantry, shall be tempted to bid you leave me, and " that there is ill luck in plucking a wild perhaps meet your death and you so white rose for a gift. And I have always young, and when we have been such wondered why, unless because it was friends," lamented Unah wofully. Prince Charlie's badge - it seemed such But his proposal to leave her had been an innocent flower. But I begin to believe already rejected; the time for it was past. there is a malignant influence in white fox. And he would not be quiet. He would gloves. Look, they have the green tinge of press his suit in season or out of season, envy and poison in their flowers. They are not so much with humility – he had that associated with the 'good people’ – you to learn in a great measure

as with remember we talked of whether or not we youthful confidence and daring self-assershould affront them before we set out?" tion.

But his pulses were throbbing and his “Better break your word than keep it in blood coursing far beyond all gentle re- the letter, and be false to it in the spirit, straint. He was not goiog to recross the asserted Frank. “ Better fail one man, Rubicon, which he had just passed, by vio- who had no right to take advantage of you lence done to himself. If he had been as a child, than make three people miser. older he would surely have spared the able, though one of them is yourself and woman he loved when she was in his you may think you have a right to do what power, from a declaration that was little you will with yourself; that is just like a short of an insult to her in her position, romantic girl," said Frank, adopting an acand which would wring her tender heart. cent of boyish superiority even at that For he was naturally honest and kind as moment. he was bold and ardent; but he was hardly “ Nobody need be long miserable if they a man, little more than a rash, hot-headed do what is right,” objected Unah faintly, boy - a spoilt boy to boot.

and with more regard to the sense than “ I don't bear any

ge against the the grammatical construction of her sen. foxgloves,” he said, a little resentfully and tence. with a shade of sulkiness,“ nor for that “Should we not aim for the bothie now, matter against the mist, since they have although we have quarrelled ?" suggested brought and kept us together. Unah Frank with an air of affront, whether at his my Unah !” he exclaimed in the reckless- own words or at hers. ness of passion, drawing nearer to her. She sought to comply in silence, but her

“Oh, no, no!” denied Unah in terror limbs were trembling, her heart was sick, and distress, putting out her hands as if to and when she advanced beyond the protecthrust him from her. “Do not say such tion of the trees into the seething whirlwords, Mr. Tempest. It is very wrong. pool of vapor that was beyond, she began I am to be Donald Drumchatt's. His to grope like a blind creature, and to stumhouse is preparing for me to stay in as his ble as if she would fall every instant. wife. You know - you must have known

“Oh dear !” she cried in despair, “I all the while."

do not know where to turn, or whether “I heard something of a formal contract, the bothie is on my right hand or my left." a family agreement,” he admitted with He had sense enough remaining to see dogged reluctance, “but it cannot be put in that she was in no condition to proceed. force. It is not to come between us - it He drew her back beneath the sbelter of sha'n't stand.”

the trees. “And who is to prevent it?" demanded “Never mind,” he said soothingly and Unah, always more shocked and speaking penitently, since his heart smote him for almost wildly. “I have given my word. the consequences of his wilfulness; “ we'll Am I to break it? Would I fail Don, wait a little longer till you have recovered, whom I have known all my days — who and I will not say another word to vex or has been fond of me ever since I was a plague you, if you'll only forgive and trust child, and who needs me so much? It is me again.” cruel and wicked to imagine such behavior He found a heap of leaves and withered - in such a place at such a time, when bracken less wet than the other heaps, I used to think the mountain must have and induced her to sit down, as she was no looked like this when He stood on it, and longer fit to stand. In truth her teeth had Moses and Elijah came down and talked | begun to chatter and she was shivering

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

from head to foot in spite of herself. She stupid,” referring to her shyness, “and looked forlorn and prostrated very un- not handsome as my mother was." like the Upah Macdonald who was only “Don't talk nonsense, Unah," he intertimid and helpless to the world without, but rupted her without ceremony, but speaking in the inner circle which he had penetrated, solemnly all the same; “you are the loveshowed herself brave, cheery, and full of liest, cleverest, best woman I ever saw or expedient.

shall see.” He took her benumbed hands and “No!” she refused absolutely to believe chafed them in his own, which still re- so incredible a statement, shaking her tained some warmth, and she could not bid head." And if we get down safely after him desist. He begged her pardon hum- all, you will go back to England, enter on bly, over and over again, and she was not the great possessions they speak of, and able to tell him to have done. Her pale forget all about me. And it will be right,” face seemed to him to have grown as wan she said with firmness. and shadowy in the mist, as the face of the “ Never," he cried angrily.

66 What do moon when she rises in the sky before the you take me for, Unah? A fickle lad ? A sun has set. She appeared to be paying no man sure to be forsworn ?" beed to what was passing around her, and “ Among the many songs I sang to you to be lapsing into stupor as people do who and Donald," she answered him with a are exposed beyond their strength in a faint smile,“ did I never sing to you of snowstorm, or in intense cold. She was what befel the poor Highland lassies on like the lover of one of her songs

Athole Green, when the lads, who had

thought so much of them — only because The frost it was keen, and his heart it grew they knew no better - were dancing with weary,

the English girls in Carlisle Ha’?" And he lay down to sleep on the moorland sae dreary.

"No," he answered proudly, "and I

don't care. They were Highlanders, I Possibly she had not vigor left to fight - suppose,” he was still petulant enough to if she were conscious of its approach add, “and have nothing to do with me." with the deadly insensibility stealing over There was silence again between them, her.

while the griping, searching cold began to Half an hour before he had smiled in- weigh even on his heart and tongue. He credulously in his light-heartedness, as to struggled against its mastery, and if a proof there being anything seriously alarming in had been wanted that his mad, youthful a north country fog overtaking a seasoned passion was singularly deep and strong, captain in cricket games and stroke-oar reaching well-nigh to the roots of his in boat-races, with his mistress in his being, there existed one in the fact that it charge, on a Scotch mountain. But when was still uppermost in his thoughts. it came to the pinch, he lost entire com- “Unah," he assailed her again mand of himself.

tiously this time, and she had got used He raised her hands to his lips and to the employment of her Christian name kissed them fondly to melt the frost in by him till 'she heard it without protest them. He said aloud they two were alone and as a matter «of course; they had been together on the mountain, and very likely a pair of friends for weeks, and they had the mist would last for days and nights, become fellow-sufferers at last — “do you and they would indeed perish thus to think if the mist lasts and we cannot make gether, far from the rest of the world, our way down, that we shall not be able to without either its aid or its interference. survive a long exposure to it?” And he could accept the portion rather “I do not know," she hesitated; "but than they should live to be parted. She we will trust in God,” she added in her was to be his and not Donald Drumchatt's. reverent, wistful way. They must guess God was going to be kinder to him than our plight at Fearnavoil. My mother will she had meant to be, and had decreed that know what detains us so long, for she sent in death they should not be divided. us here; and my father," she said the

At his frantic words she suddenly roused names with little gasps, “will strive to resberself, sat straight up, and looked in his cue us. But they are almost sure to think face with her heavy eyes.

that we have taken refuge in the bothie. “Did you care for me so much as Now I am not certain that we are not on that?" she asked in doubtful wonder, as if the other side of the wood, so that even she were a third person listening to a though they get so far, they may still miss story which was ended. “ It was strange, us." and' I such a mere Highland. girl,.so “Not if I shouted ?"

cau

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“You cannot tell when to shout, and the What shall I do? Would it be a comfort continuous effort would help to exhaust to you for me to say what I have never you; you could only try it at intervals, and dreamed of or confessed to myself to this I am not sure whether they would hear day - and though nothing could ever have you at Lochbuy Farm. We are young, come of it— that I care for you, who, till she began again after an instant's pause this summer, were a stranger to me, and

a mere boy and girl, everybody called us who in a few weeks would have gone away a few days ago," she reminded him, with and never seen me again, more than for a momentary rueful sense of the hardness poor Don whom I have known all my days, of their fate if they were doomed to die and who was to have been my husband, then – “but we have not had food for a but who inust live on now as he can at number of hours, and I am worn out Drumchatt without his cousin ? If there already. Several years ago a stranger liv. is sin in the words, how shall I keep from ing at the Ford Inn, as you have been saying them ?doing, was rash enough to climb the moun- It was his turn to be generous and to tain without a guide. The mist came comfort her. “God bless you, Unah,” he down when he was nearer the foot than we said softly, “ I will ask no more. I believe are, but he never got any farther in the now you care for me, though I was too direction of the pass or the valley. Peo- late — that was not our fault — and nothple judged that he must have wandered in ing might have come of it. I am happy a circle for hours, and then lain down do you hear me say it, Unah? — happy as where he was found in the morning, not a a king at this moment; and I can trust that hundred yards from one of the shepherd's God not only forgives us, but that he lets cottages, if he had only known it,” she us have this single taste of happiness ended with a sighing shudder.

which was not for us. When it is nearly “If we have so little chance left,” he over, you will lay your head on my shoul. urged, “ before we give up all thought of der and let me hold your hand, and die as life and prepare to die, would there be any you might have died had you been my great disloyalty to him in your telling me wife. Then I shall not care to live, or that that you could have cared for me if he had the searchers should find me, until I am not been in the way, when I have loved lying dead by your side.” you better than life, my darling, so that if But even as Frank uttered his tender you gave me one kiss I think I should die adjuration, muffled shout sounded content?"

through the mist. Both of them heard it; “Oh, Frank,” she cried, thrilling him and though he was so startled that he could with the sound of his name that burst not at the moment reply, it was followed from her lips in her eagerness, “would it by another and a nearer shout, accompanot be a bad beginning in making our nied by the barking of dogs. She was the peace with God, to let our last act be one first to be recalled to the world of everyof treachery to those who trusted in us?” day life that had been left behind them,

“ It would not be treachery to be true to and of which they felt they had taken fareour love. You could not think so if you well. It was with a strange sense of perreally cared for me,” he said moodily. turbation, almost of pain, as when one is

Óh, Frank, Frank !” she cried again, recalled from a swoon, and with a distress“ do you believe I do not care for you be- ing consciousness of self-betrayal, that she cause I care more for your honor and your awoke to the approach of deliverance. highest good ?” Then she broke down in But, young and simple woman as she was, another direction: she wrung her hands she gathered herself up, and drew swiftly and made that involuntary motion common around her again the cloak of reserve, to deepest sorrow, of rocking herself to and with the instinct of self-preservation, and of fro. “It is I who brought you here to the maintenance of a sacred privacy, which die,” she said more to herself than to him, is so strong even in the most candid of and you were so young and brave and single-hearted and pure-minded women, as bonnie, like the heroes of my songs. You to amaze the men who have most faith in might have been happy if you had never them, and to draw vn on them from come to Fearnavoil. But you came, and cynics the charge of inveterate hypocrisy liked us all so well — liked me far too well. and guile. Oh ! if I could only get you to leave me “ Listen!” she said to Frank Tempest, and save yourself, if I did not know that speaking almost as quietly in her reawak. by going away from me you might die a ened hope as if the last two or three hours speedier, more terrible death - dashed they had spent together had been blotted against the boulders! What shall I do? I out. “ It is my father with some of the

a

[ocr errors]

a

a

[ocr errors]

shepherds. They have taken the precau- had only power to say, “ Wrap me in your tion to bring with them young Ghillie and plaid, father, to make me warm again ; put the collies. And the dogs are scenting us your arm round me to hold me up, and I out.”

think I shall find strength to go down.” Upah was right. The next moment the Then she looked round to the biggest of dogs, headed by the yellow terrier of fa- the shepherds, “ Charlie, let Mr. Tempest mous descent, emerged, leaping and giving hold by your arm, for he is so stiff that his tongue joyously, as if from the clouds, feet will not feel the ground beneath him; soon to be followed by the tall figure of no wonder, for we have been dead and are the minister and his stalwart assistants. alive again,” she added, in a lower tone, as

“ Thank God, here they are !” cried the if her mind were slightly confused, so that minister. “Unah, lassie, what possessed she mistook the clause of the verse she you to take to the mountain on a day like quoted. this? I thought you knew better.” The worthy man reproached his daughter the moment he found her safe. Even his goodness and gentleness did not exempt

From The Spectator. him from the feelings of his kind in an in. clination to scold a little when his anxiety

MR. RUSKIN'S SOCIETY. was relieved, partly as a protest against á (We give this account from a friend to the waste of feeling, partly to prevent the most

scheme, as of a certain intellectual interest. distant chance of a scene.

We pass no criticism on what may be called “We wanted foxgloves for Lady Jean.

a dream of fair living. — Ed. Spectator.] I thought the mist might keep off, or that MR. RUSKIN's Guild of St. George has we should get down before it came,” said | beld its first “chapter," and one of the Unah briefly, her teeth beginning to chat. most thoroughly English towns in England ter again, now that the high pressure of has been the scene of it. Perhaps very violent emotion was removed from her. few, besides readers of “ Fors Clavigera,

“I am the principal offender, Mr. Mac- have been aware that the great prose poet donald,” Frank said, recovering his habit to whose genius we owe the debt of a new ual boldness, and coming with his wonted and noble impulse in art, and one of the alacrity to the front. Lady Jean sent me, cardinal points in whose teaching has aland I persuaded Miss Macdonald to come ways been the interdependence between out with me.

the artistic and moral energy of a nation, Say no more about it, sir ;” the minis- has for a long time endeavored to put his ter dismissed the subject somewhat drily, protest against, what he holds to be, the making a mental note to himself, “I evil influences of the age, in the most thought that was a nice lad, but he must be practical form possible, namely, a society an unmitigated puppy to suppose that he of which the actual working should be in was of any consequence in the matter. direct and visible opposition to them. “Here, Unah, drink this, every drop, in- Those who accepted his teaching were stantly," he said, carefully pouring out a asked to contribute, according to their certain measure from his flask, and speak- ability, towards the obtaining land in En. ing in a voice of authority, as if he were gland, within the limits of which, subject administering a nauseous drug on which to existing laws, an example might be set, depended the gravest results. “ You had firstly, of the right relations between landbetter bave the rest, Mr. Tempest,” he lord and tenant, master and servant; secforced himself to add more heartily, yet ondly, of the best education of the young, with a touch of sarcasm," unless you wish or indeed we may as well say, of the most to carry off an exploded ague or a rheu- excellent discipline and training of old and matic fever as a reminiscence of the High- young; and thirdly, of the wisest and most lands."

beneficial use of the ground, by cultivation, It was plain that Frank Tempest's share for the most part, but sometimes by carein the expedition rankled in the minister's ful neglect, where great natural beauty, or mind, disiurbing its friendliness, and that other reasons, made such neglect desirathere was great danger of the promising ble. It may sound strange, but money's pupil in natural history, undergoing an and land have been given to a society eclipse in his senior's good graces.

formed for this purpose. Companions, But the individuals most concerned were not many, it must be confessed, have been incapable of studying the thermometer of enrolled, and their first meeting was held a third person's manner.

the other day in Birmingham! It was, we Unah was the calmest, but even Unah | have been told, a perfectly matter-of-fact

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »