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have proved futile, yet in its sequel it was so different from her expectation and so much to be deplored. Frank Tempest, her own equal and associate, going to prison, even if by his own will and as a mere formality, according to her father's extenuation of the circumstance to suit the women's ears, because there had been a quarrel between him and Drumchatt, and an accident had happened, with Drumchatt injured and the marriage put off! It was all too dreadful even for high-spirited, thoughtless Lady Jean.
When the first shock of the communication was over, there was clamor enough round the earl. Generally he was very indulgent to his daughter, while his wife, in her cool, good-natured self-assertion, rather ruled him than otherwise. But today the much-aggrieved and hard-tried nobleman fairly lost patience with his womankind.
No wonder. On one side was the countess insisting that if an offence had been committed nothing should be done against a lad in Frank Tempest's position, Lady Charlotte's son, the Delavals' nephew
On the other Lady Jean was inquiring anxiously if the earl could not take the law into his own hand, and dispense justice in his proper person, "like the old barons who held their courts here, papa. Is it not possible in the country where so many feudal rights survive? and we are chieftains still. I am sure nobody would make any objection, and it would be so easy to settle everything, when Frank Tempest is our friend.”
"Oh, you women know nothing," groaned the earl; "but pray be content with your ignorance. No, I will not suffer you to see Tempest, and indulge in condolences and leave-takings. There would be an end to any hushing-up of the business which may yet be managed if Drumchatt does well; of course there is no reason to suppose he will do ill. But even where my feelings are concerned and I think you may take them into consideration the affair is quite bad enough without the addition of a scene, and the unmanning of that stubborn young dog, who has put his foot into it."
AT the manse of Fearnavoil all was confusion and distress. A grievous misfortune had happened to the house which of all houses in the parish ought to have been
the home of peace and order. The interruption of a marriage on the marriage-day does not occur once in a generation in the most Bohemian quarter. When the catastrophe proceeds from that disgraceful fickleness on the part of bridegroom or bride which impels man or woman to flee like a culprit from the fulfilment of the bond, the insult and mortification are at their height. But even when the obstacle is not more affronting and deserving of condemnation than is implied in the accident of an irresistible calamity suddenly befalling the family in the midst of their rejoicing, a certain stigma of humiliation - however undeserved and transient, still attends on the bridegroom who has displayed his triumph or his insouciance, and the bride who has worn her blushes in vain.
This stigma was to attach to Unah Macdonald- the flower of the girls of the parish, the much-cherished daughter of the manse.
Disorder and flying rumors of something wrong had spread early through the house. For after the irregular episode of the arrival of the best man with the bride, and, on his seeking to speak apart with the heads of the family, nothing could be too wonderful to follow. It appeared quite in the natural order of things that the minister should set out instantly for Drumchatt, with a face so disturbed that nobody could overlook it.
Unah shut herself up in her room, where her bride's-maids, with all their mirth routed out of them and replaced by consternation, dared not invade her privacy, or intrude on her distress- to find her kneeling in an unspeakable agony, with her fingers clenched, and her face hidden, as it happened, in the crushed folds of the wedding-gown which she was never to wear.
Mrs. Macdonald retreated with a face become in a moment ashen white, matching the gris cendré of her hair. She deserted her post for a season, but she did not go to sustain Unah. She did not enter her daughter's presence, though her heart was wrung for her child. Still, that was a subordinate feeling. She locked herself in her own room in desperation. She could not pray-she who had prayed so much in her day. She could only open wild, horrified eyes at the end she had arrived at. Betrayed faith, broken hearts, a slain man and his slayer. She asked herself, was it all her work?
Even the humble retainer of the family, Malise Gow, returning from Drumchatt, and beset with questions, withdrew to his cottage and threw himself down on his
bed, with his face turned to the wall, lying there till Jenny Reach darted in not to condole with him, but to cause him to spring to his feet, and return to his duty by her indignant, scornful words.
aware of the barrier to the ceremony; and,
"Get up, you calf!" cried Jenny, using the term with a very different intonation from that which is given to it when it figures in the old Highland epithet of endearment, "Calf of my heart!" "How do you know what may be wanted of you? Be thankful that the lassie Unah is not over the Highland borders, or Drumchatt lying | vellously to play her part. She was still weltering in his blood. As to what has happened, we are in the thick of the fight, and you a man body to be content to lie and pech there! Is that all you're good for?"
very pale, but she was ready to utter courteous apologies and regrets, to accept condolences, to talk vaguely and hopefully of "an unlucky accident," with the wedding only a little delayed. She did not Jenny's own step was firm, her breast know that the minister had returned from was heaving, her fresh color heightened. Drumchatt till he entered the room withIt was clear that the blow which had un-out any warning, and she shrank into nerved Malise had only braced and stimu- silence before the absence on his side of lated the woman. all greeting to the marriage party beyond "It's the disgrace, Jenny - the disgrace a hurried bow and a brief" My friends, I to the family," replied Malise, defending am sure you will excuse us," with its evihimself, at the same time tumbling him-dence of preoccupation and trouble. self out with a convicted air on the clay An old friend, Sir Duncan, ventured to floor. "It's the thought that the mistress go up to the master of the house, and ask she has been caught backsliding. in a low tone of interest and sympathy which I cannot put by. Ochone! Och- how he had found Donald Drumchatt. one!" Badly hurt," answered the minister with"Away with your ochones! Trample out concealment, although he spoke in the down the disgrace. As for the mistress abrupt and almost harsh manner of a man caught backsliding, is she the first woman to whom the statement he made was exthat has backslidden? or is this the begin-quisitely painful, and who required all the ning of her vanity? Now, if it had been strength he possessed to keep calm in the minister, mild man but he has spunk raking it. in him this day-ay, even the minister is mortal," by which word Jenny meant fallible. She was faithful in her way, yet there was no denying that, being what she was, she found a certain satisfaction in the minister's fallibility.
"Doctor been?" murmured Sir Dun
"Yes," answered Mr. Macdonald, while one might have heard a pin fall, "and he says there are two ribs broken."
"That is not so very bad," said Sir Duncan, more aloud and more at his ease, no longer as if he were speaking on a wager to deliver the sense of his question in the most condensed form. "I had three ribs broken myself once, and yet I am not a bit the worse to-day."
"Were ." and
"No," admitted Mr. Macdonald, but without any corresponding relief. it not for the state of his lungs then he stopped short.
But Mrs. Macdonald did not long give way. She was not a woman to be beaten by one stroke of destiny, however hard; and there was so much to be done speculation and whispers to be silenced that decorous face which it is the first impulse of every womanly woman, brave in her womanliness, whether she be good or bad, to put on misfortune, to be carefully assumed. The wedding guests, who came from far too remote and widely removed quarters to have their coming forbidden in time, were already arriving. The Moydarts were not among the number; they "Who said it was an accident?" dehad received some intimation of the inap-manded Mr. Macdonald, lifting up his propriateness of their presence. But there head and looking round with red gleam were the Hopkinses― Laura in resplen- in the brown eyes which were so like poor dent white satin, like a bride herself. Donald's, that bore out Jenny Reach's These guests must be received, and made assertion of spunk in the minister this 1322
"A lamentable accident," muttered Sir Duncan discomfited, and at a loss for any other rejoinder.
day. "There was no accident," he de- | his wife, since, as he said to himself coldclared in a loud, clear voice, while his ly, it was out of the question that she sparkling eyes fell for a second on the wife should accompany them, and there must whom he so loved and honored. "Lord be no objection made. But it is worth Moydart's friend, Mr. Tempest, intercepted recording, that this grave step which he my cousin and forced a quarrel on him took on his own responsibility and without on his way to the manse this morning." consulting the mother, who had so large a There was a rustle of greatly increased share in all that concerned her daughter, excitement and dismay, in which the word was the first step, great or small, that he "duel" was heard uttered by different had taken in the whole course of his marvoices in various keys of apologetic sug- ried life without the knowledge of "Margestion and alarmed deprecation. jory." And he was so oppressed and bowed down by care and grief, wounded love and trust, that he was scarcely conscious of the aching sense of void, the wistful pang, as of injury done by him to the creature who relied on him, and who was dearest to him, that mingled in the tumult of feeling with which he found himself knocking at Unah's door, and accompanying the knock with the authoritative words, "It is I, Unah; let me in."
Unah was ready to open to him at once, though it was an altered face as well as an altered voice which greeted her on the threshold. "Oh, father, have you seen Don? How is he?" she begged for tidings.
A slow English tongue made itself distinctly audible in opposition to the quick Highland accents, and a heavy figure rose up without a single symptom of the gesticulation in which the Gael, like the members of other Celtic races, is apt to indulge. It was Mr. Hopkins, who had chanced for once to leave his business letters and "envoys at the Trean, and to drive over in an irreproachable morning dress anxiously inspected by his daughter with the despairing conclusion that somehow papa would look like his tailor to be present with his wife and daughter at the wedding breakfast. "Dooel or no dooel," he said stoutly, "this is getting serious" (as if all which had gone before You will have an opportunity of judgit had been child's play, and, indeed, he ing for yourself presently," he said, with had not been quite sure before that the the sternness into which the gentlestinterruption was not some piece of High- even more than the hardest men may be land buffoonery). "If you are right, sir, betrayed, in contradiction to their nainstant steps must be taken to arrest the tures. "Get ready to go with me immediyoung man.' For Mr. Hopkins honored ately to Drumchatt I where he wishes the laws of his country as he respected you. I shall wait till you put on your hat, his own success, and no paltry considera- and you had better take a cloak; the wagtion of the defaulter's being his country-gonette is at the door." man, or the friend of the Duke of Wel- She did not say another word, or utter a lington, instead of Lord Moydart, would have tempted him to be concerned in infringing them.
single remonstrance; she huddled together those articles of her walking-dress which she had thrown down, and hastily dragged "Let others arrest him," said Mr. Mac- on her cloak in order not to keep her donald with a swift reaction, remembering father standing there as if he were her that he was a minister, not of vengeance, silent accuser. Her hands trembled, but but of peace, and that no justice done on their trembling did not prevent them from Frank Tempest would serve to give them doing their office. Her mother and cousback the boy, the head of his house, whom ins and all the guests were still in the he had reared with such difficulty and re-drawing-room, forming the uncomfortable, garded so tenderly, and whom he had counted on calling his son from this day. "I must return at once to Drumchatt; I am only here to claim your forbearance," he ended, taking leave of the company.
But though the minister had told the truth to the party met for his daughter's marriage, he did not see himself called on to confide to them that he was come for the purpose of carrying away Unah to Drumchatt, that he might there do for her and Donald what could no longer be done in the manse. He did not so much as tell |
agitated party that were at their wits' end as to what they were to say or do next. Most of the servants, too, were out of the way; very few persons saw the father and daughter set off in what was the bride's leave-taking of her home.
The abnormal weather of the morning had been succeeded by a great gathering together of clouds, and a steady down-pour from the skies. The minister and Unah in their perturbation of spirit, and accus. tomed as they were to exposure in every kind of weather, did not mind the pitiless
wet any more than soldiers consider show- | single-mindedness, stabbing him to the ers on a battlefield. The couple were heart in her self-defence. hardly aware that they as well as the horse were soon streaming with water, except that one more cheerless attribute was added to the misery of the day. Unah had often driven in the waggonette in as great a storm while her face was sparkling with smiles even as her dress was hung over with raindrops. But it was otherwise to-day when she recalled with a shudder the old adage,
"Father" Unah broke the silence at last with piteous pleading as they drove over the solitary dark moorland, a savage wilderness on a day like this 'you are angry with me?
He did not deny it, on the contrary he said bitterly, "You have given me cause. Could I have supposed that a child of mine that you, Unah, would have acted as you have done?"
"I know that I have been very foolish," said Unah in broken and contrite accents, "but I did not mean it. I never thought how it would end. If somebody had only warned me!"
"Do not say another word, Unah," he forbade her, writhing at this inadvertent reproach.
"Oh, let me speak, father, for I have something which I must say, and you will never refuse to hear me,' ," cried Unah, gaining courage from despair and from innocence of all save inexperience and rashness. "I had no more knowledge beforehand of what took place in the pass this morning than you or my mother. Do you think I would not have died to prevent it? Can you believe that I went out on my marriage morning to meet another man than Donald Drumchatt?" She could not put it in different words; she could not bring her lips to frame Frank Tempest's
"I am loth to believe it," admitted her father slowly. "But did you ever meet this lad Tempest at any other time, since the day you were so imprudent as to go up to Lochbuy with him? Has there been no tampering with your duty and an honorable woman's truth to account for his infatuation?"
"Yes, father," owned Unah humbly, but frankly, "I met him once in the pass, but my mother took me, and it was only to say good-bye"
"Enough, Unah." The minister cut her short again, for she was still in her
Yet in spite of his peremptoriness he let the light reach him that she was more sinned against than sinning, another sufferer in the mischief which had been going on. In this enlightenment he was too fair a man not to make the further concession that he was not entitled to sit in judgment on the girl, and weigh out to her a punishment in disproportion to her offence. Doubtless also he derived some consolation from realizing that his daughter Unah had come out of the trial through which she had passed, with the purity he had ascribed to her in a great measure unsullied. She was not one of those vain and giddy girls whose levity and falsehood were grievously displeasing to the earnest and upright servant of God. But if he loved his daughter dearly, he loved still better her mother the light of his eyes, and the desire of his heart from his youth upwards. And the more Unah was exonerated the heavier became the blame cast on her mother, while the minister in the soreness of his heart, and in his shame for her who had been his pride, was a second time in his life tempted to call all men liars, and distrust every woman - even his own child, because one woman, his wife, had deceived him. If Marjory, the most unworldly and devout of women, his Marjory, who had cherished such high aspirations, and worked so hard with him as far to distance his feeble efforts and poor attainments-if the woman he had known so well for so many years, whom he with the best reason had reckoned a saint on earth, was thus convicted of low, mercenary ambition, double-dealing, and cruel trifling with Donald and with another, then who besides could be held scathless, who else would not fail him when the particular price which she coveted should be offered to buy her from her loyal service to her Master? Was it not an insult and injury to Marjory, fallen as she must be in his estimation from this day, to judge that another could stand where her feet had stumbled? She must still, however erring, be the nearest of her kind to nobleness and disinterestedness.
The minister could not do other than silence Unah when her lips, however unwittingly, were condemning her mother, and although he spoke a little more gently, his tone was still uncompromising when he said, "Deeds are better than words, Unah. Do you know what I am taking you to Drumchatt for?"
"To see Don," she said eagerly, "to
explain everything, and beg him to pardon me, and to help to nurse him if he will let me."
"All that may be very well afterwards, but in the first place Donald wishes the marriage to go on to-day as was intended, and we are bound to comply with his wishes at whatever inconvenience to our-off of the old "harl," and with many disselves."
She was struck dumb. Yet that the marriage should still go on after the agony of the morning, seemed to remove that agony to an indefinite distance, and to render the catastrophe it had caused intangible and uncertain like a painful dream, and she was ready to clutch at such a reprieve. But she spoke out her perplexity. "Can the marriage go on and Don so ill, up at Drumchatt, and my mother not there? ? "
"He is not so ill as that comes to - he is not in a dying state, thank God," he answered quickly. "He is in bed, and will be there for weeks, but I have married people under more difficult circumstances."
It was quite true, only he had not expected his daughter to be among the number; and as the contradiction struck him, he glanced round at her and was moved to compassion by the consideration of her fair youth, modesty, and sweetness, where she sat in patient submission by his side, with her soft, bright hair hanging dimmed and rumpled on her shoulders. She guessed what he was thinking and replied to it promptly: "Never mind, father, let it be so, if it will please Donald. We shall have it over and all may come right at last."
"Poor lassie, poor Unah!" he suffered himself to say half under his breath.
again, without at the same time impairing anything that was venerable and picturesque in its turrets and steep roof, and rendering it a fit home for a bride, had necessarily been withheld. The walls, which were a mouldy, greenish grey, with sundry unsightly scars from the breaking colored streaks caused by damp even in sunshine, in such rain as fell towards the afternoon of their owner's wedding-day, came out in huge dismal blotches, which suggested irresistibly the Scripture similitude of a face "foul with weeping." When all had been going well on the eve of the wedding, there had been but little attempt at the decoration of the manse for the occasion. Till the cousins came there had been no young person in the family save Unah to set about such embellishment, and Mrs. Macdonald was generally averse to idle demonstrations. But even after the event of the morning, which had thrown the whole household into confusion, it was like passing from the house of feasting to the house of mourning to go from the manse to Drumchatt. It had not entered into a man's head, though it was the head of a young man and a bridegroom like Donald, to make any preparation more than he had already begun and stopped for the reception of his wife. No one else was in sufficient nearness of relationship to the couple to take the initiative in supplying what the master of the house omitted. And any little display on the tenants' and servants' part had been deferred till the return of the couple after the few days which they were expected to spend - as a concession to fashion in the matter of honeymoon trips—in another district of the Highlands.
True, Callum had been contemplating the two swords which he was to place crossed in a certain window-for twelve months at least, but in the hurry and disaster which had distinguished the morning the very swords had not been seen to.
Already some of the guests- men of The mansion of Drumchatt looked a business with their wives, mistresses of melancholy dwelling at the best. There it households having what they regarded stood in the distinct and peculiar dreari- pressing claims on their time, and antici ness of half-finished repairs and improve-pating that even if Donald Drumchatt ments, which had the air as if the builders had begun without rightly counting the cost, and had been arrested midway by the conviction of the final failure of their purpose. The last great improvement, the general rough-dash or "harl" with lime, which was to replace the soils and stains of long years with a fresh and spotless whiteness, making the old house young
recovered from the injury he had sustained, his recovery must be slow, had arrived at the conclusion that his best chance was to be left in quiet. So, after sufficiently expressing their indignation at the outrage to which he had beer subjected, had taken their departure.
Those who remained behind were only staying to consult together what steps had