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which led along by the head of one loch John the coachman darted up to the seat after another, each encompassed by its immediately behind him, where her maid circle of hills. Walter knew very little presently joined her. Walter, and a perabout Scotland. He thought it a barren sonage of the commercial-traveller class, and wild country, all bleak and gloomy, shared the coachman's seat in front, and and the lavish vegetation of the west Symington and some other humbler pasfilled him with surprise and admiration. sengers sat behind. The coach The sun was near its setting when the adapted for summer traffic, so that there railway journey came to an end, and he were several lines of empty seats between found himself at a village station, from the two sets of travellers. It gave Walwhich a coach ran to Kinloch-houran. It ter a great deal of pleasure to hear the appeared that there was no other vehicle soft voice of his fellow.traveller pouring to be had, and though it was cold there forth, low yet quite audible, an account of was nothing else for it but to clamber up her journey to her maid, who was evion the top of the rude coach, which was a dently on the most confidential terms with sort of char-à-banc without any interior. her young mistress. Walter felt that it would become him ill, “ Has mamma missed me- - much? notwithstanding his new rank, to grumble she asked, after the little Odyssey was at the conveyance, upon which there over. mounted nimbly a girl whom he had re. “Oh, Miss Oona, to ask that,” cried marked when leaving Edinburgh, and the woman; “how should we no miss whom he had watched for at all the pauses you ?” and then there ensued a number of the journey. He thought her the very of details on the home side. The girl had impersonation of all he had ever heard of been on a visit in Edinburgh, had gone to Scotch beauty, and so would most ob. balls, and “seen everything." On the servers to whom Scotland is a new coun- other hand many small matters, faithfully try. The native Scot is aware that there reported, had filled up the time of separaare as many brown locks as golden, and tion. Walter listened to all this innocent as many dark maidens as fair ones in his interchange with great amusement and own country; but notwithstanding to the interest as the coach made its way slowly stranger it is the fair who is the type. up the ascents of the hilly road. This young lady was warınly clothed in not in itself an agreeable mode of pro. dark tweed, of the ruddy, heathery bue gression: the wind was icy cold, and which is now so general, not long enough swept through and through the unfortu. to conceal her well-shod leet, closely fit- nates who faced it in front, sharpening ting, and adapted for constant walking into almost absolute needle-points of ice and movement. She seemed to be met when the pace quickened, and the noisy, by friends all along the route. From the jolting vehicle lumbered down the further carriage window Walter saw her look outside of a bill, threatening every moment with little cries of pleasure. • Oh, is that to pitch the passengers into the heathery you, Jack?” “Oh, Nelly, where are you bog on one side or the other. He tried going ? “Oh, come in here, there is to diminish his own discomfort by the room in this carriage," and such like. thought that he took off the icy edge of She was always leaning out to say a word the gale and sheltered the little, slim to somebody, either of farewell or wel. creature in her close ulster behind, about
“ You will remember me to your whose shoulders the maid had wound the mother," old gentlemen would call to her, snowy mass of a great white knitted as the train went on. Walter was greatly shawl. The low sun was in their faces as in want of amusement, and he was at the they toiled and rattled along, and the age when a girl is always interesting. clear, wintry blue of the sky was already She became to him the heroine of the strewn with radiant, rosy masses of cloud. journey. He felt that he was collecting a When they reached the highest point of great deal of information about her as the road the dazzling gleain of the great they travelled on, and had begun to won- loch lying at their feet and made into a der whether he should ever find out who mirror of steel by the last blaze of the she was, or see any more of her, when he sun before it disappeared, dazzled the perceived her, to his delight, getting out, young man, who could see nothing except as be himself did, at Baldally. She was ihe cold, intolerable brightness; but in a met by a respectable woman-servant, who moment more the scene disclosed itself. took possession of her baggage, while the Hills all purple in the sunset, clothed with young lady herself ran across the road to that ineffable velvet down which softens the coach, and with a hearty greeting to every outline, opened out on either side,
showing long lines of indistinct green / which made the whole machine vibrate valleys and narrower ravines that ran be. and roll. tween, all converging towards the broad Persons of the new-fangled kind that and noble inland sea fringed with dark believe in nothing," he said. “They will woods and broken with feathery islands, tell ye it cannot be – so how can ye see which was the centre of the landscape. it? though it is glinting in their faces all The wonderful color of the sky reflected the time." in the loch, where everything found a re- “You are meaning me, John,” said the flection, and every knoll and island floated traveller on the box-seat; “and there's double, changed the character of the truth in what you say. I've seen what scene and neutralized the dazzling cold- you call the light, and no doubt it has the ness of the great water-mirror. Walter's appearance of a light; but if ye tell me involuntary exclamation at this sight it's something supernatural, there can be stopped for a moment all the conversation no doubt I will answer ye that there's going on. " By Jove,” he said, “how nothing supernatural. If you were to glorious !” They all stopped talking, the tell me ye had seen a ghost, I would just coachman, the traveller, the woman be. reply in the same way. No, my man, I'm hind, and looked at him. Big John the not impeachin' your veracity.
You saw driver, who knew everybody, eyed him something, I'll allow; but no' a ghost, for with a slightly supercilious air, as one there are no ghosts to see.” who felt that the new comer could not be “ That's just an awfu' easy way of setotherwise than contemptible, more or less, tlin' the question,” said the maid from even though his sentiments were irre. belind; and then she went on in a lower proachable. " Ay, sir — so that's your tone: “This will be the third night since opinion ? most folk have been beforehand it began, and we've a' seen it on the Isle. with ye,” said John.
Hamish, he says the new lord maun be of The commercial traveller added con- a dour kind to need so many warnings. descendingly, “It is cold weather for And he's feared ill will come of it; but I touring, sir; but it's a grand country, as say the new lord, no' bein' here away nor ye say.” And then they resumed their of this country at all, how is he to ken ? " conversation.
The girl's voice was now quite low, The young lady behind was far more almost a whisper: but Walter being imsympathetic. She made a distinct pause, mediately in front of her could still hear. and when she spoke again it was with a “ Has anything been heard,” she said, “ of fiattering adoption of Walter's tone to the new lord ? " point out to her companion how beautiful “Very little, Miss Oona, only that he's the scene was.
a young lad from the south with no expe“The isle is floating too, Mysie - look! rience, and didna even know that he was If we could get there soon enough we the heir; so how could he ken, as I say might land upon one of those rosy clouds.” to Hamish? But Hamish he insists that
Walter gave a grateful glance behind it's in the blood, and that he would ken him, and felt that he was understood. by instinck; and that it shows an ill will,
" That is just your poetry, Miss Oona,” and ill will come of it.” said the maid; “but, bless me, I have “If I were he,"cried the girl," I would never told ye: there has been the light do the same. I would not be called like lighted in the castle these two nights past. that from the end of the world wherever We have just thought upon you all the I was." time, and how much taken up you would “Oh, whisht, Miss Oona. It is such be about it, your mamma and me." an auld, auld story; how can the like of
“The light on the castle!” cried the you say what should be done?" young lady; and at this the coachman, “I would like myself,” said the travelturning slightly round, entered into the ler, “to come to the bottom of this busiconversation.
What is it for, and who has the “That has it,” he said; “I can back doing of it? The moment you speak of her up in that; just as clear and as steady a light ye presuppose a person that lights as a star. There are many that say they it and mainy adjuncks and accessories. never can see it; but they would be clev- Now there's nobody, or next to nobody, er that bad not seen it these two past living in that auld ruin. It's some ren. nights."
deyvouss, I can easily understand that. “Who says they cannot see it?" said The days of conspiracies are gone by, or the girl indignantly.
I would say it was something against the John gave a little flick to his leader, State; but whatever it is, it must have a
purpose, and mortal hands must do it, “Not altogether,” said John; "there is seeing there are no other. I have heard auld Macalister and his wife that live half since ever I began to travel this country in the water, half out of the water. And of the Kinloch-houran light, but I never it's the story in the parish that there are heard a reason assigned.”
good rooms; aye ready for my lord.
But " It's the living lord,” cried the maid, I can tell ye naething about that, for I'm “as everybody knows that is called to always on the road, and I see nothing but meet with
a wheen tourists in the summer, that are Here the young lady interfered audibly. seeking information, and have none to
“Mysie, not a word!” The woman's give puir creatures. There's a new lord voice continued, stifled as if a hand had just come to the title; ye will may be have been laid on her mouth.
met with him if ye're from the south, for “ With them that are - with ane that he's just an English lad." is I'm saying nothing, Miss Oona, England, my man John, is a wide but what all the loch is well aware
road,” said the traveller; "there are too “It's just a ferlie of this part of the many for us all to know each other as ye. world,” said John the driver; “nae need do in a parish; this gentleman will tell ye of entering into it with them that believe that." naething. I'm no what ye call credulous John's satirical explanation that he had mysel; but when it comes to the evidence not suspected Mr. Smith, whose northern of a man's ain senses
accent was undoubted, of being an En“And what have your senses said to glishman, saved Walter from any necesye, my fine fellow? that there's a queer sity of making a reply; and by this time kind of a glimmer up upon the auld tow- the coach was rattling down upon a little er? So are there corpse-candles, if I'm homely inn, red-roofed and white-walled, not mistaken, seen by the initiated upon which stood upon a knoll overlooking the your burial isle — what do you call it ?'" loch, and was reflected in all its brightness
“And wha has a word to say gainst of color in that mirror. The ground that?” cried, the driver angrily; whilst shelved rapidly down to the water.side, Mysie behind murmured, “It's well seen and there were several boats lying ready ye have naething to do with any grave to put out into the loch – one a ponderthere."
ous ferry boat, another a smaller, but still Now Walter was as entirely free from substantial and heavy cobble, in which a superstition as any young man need be; man with a red shirt and shaggy locks but when he heard the laugh with which was standing up relieved against the the sceptic greeted these protests, he had light. Walter jumped down hurriedly the greatest mind in the world to seize with the hope of being in time to give his him by the collar and pitch him into the hand to the young lady, who perhaps had bog below. Why? but the impulse was divined his purpose, for she managed to quite unreasonable and defied explana. alight on the other side and so balk him. tion. He had as little faith in corpse. The landlady of the little inn had come candles as any bagman ever had, and the out to the door, and there was a great embarrassed and uneasy consciousness sound of salutations and exclamations of he had that the end of his journey was welcome. “But I mustna keep you, Miss inexplicable, and its purpose ridiculous, Oona, and your mamma countin' the moled himn much more to the conclusion that ments; and there's two or three parcels," he was being placed in a ludicrous posi. the woman said. The air had begun to tion, than that there was anything solo grow a little brown, as the Italians say, emnly or awfully mysterious in it. Nev. that faint veil of gathering shade which is ertheless, so far from ranging himself still not darkness, was putting out by deupon the side of the enlightened modern grees the radiance of the sky, and as who took the common-sense view of these Walter stood listening all the mingled Highland traditions, his scorn and impa- sounds of the arrival rose together in a tience of him was beyond words. For similar mist of sound, through which he his own part he had not been sufficiently sought for the soft little accents of the self-possessed to join in the discussion ; young lady's voice amid the noises of the but at this moment he ventured a ques- unharnessing, the horses' hoofs and ost. tion.
ler's pails, and louder tones. Presently “Is this old castle you speak of”. he saw her emerge from the group with here he paused not knowing how to shape her maid, laden with baskets and small his inquiry; then added, "uninhabited ?" parcels, and embarking under the confor want of anything better to say. duct of the man in the red shirt, whom
she greeted affectionately as Hamish, as- “ Hoo was I to ken ? A lord has nae sume her place in the stern, and the ropes business to scour the country like that, of the rudder, with evident use and wont. like ony gangrel body - sitting on the To watch her steer out into the darkening seat just like the rest of us – Mr. Smith loch, into the dimpess and cold, gave the and him and me. Lord ! hoo was I to young man a vague sensation of pain. It ken? If you hear nae good of yourself, it seemed to him as if the last possible link is just your ain blame." I was thinking of with the human and sympathetic was de- no lord or any such cattle. I was just taching itself from him. He did not know thinking upon my beasts. As for a lord her indeed, but it does not take a long that gangs about like yon, deceiving hontime or much personal knowledge to est folk, I wouldna give that for him," weave this mystic thread between one John said, snapping his finger and thumb. young creature and another. Most likely, His voice sank at the end, and the conhe thought, she had not so much as no clusion of the speech was but half audible, ticed him : but she had come into the half. Mrs. Macgregor interposing her round, real dream of his existence, and touched soft intonation between the speaker and his hand, as it were, in the vague atmo- the stranger. sphere which separates one being from “ Eh, my lord, I just beg your pardon ! another. Now he was left with nothing I had no notion and I hope your lord. around him but the darkening landscape ship found them a civil. Big John is and the noisy little crowd about the certainly a little quick with his tongue coach; no one who could give him any “I hope you're not supposing, Mistress fellowship or encouragement in the fur. Macgregor, that his lordship would fash ther contact which lay before him with the himself about Big John,” said Symington, mysterious and unknown.
who had now taken the direction of After a few moments the landlady came affairs. Walter, to tell the truth, did not towards him, smoothing down her white feel much inclination to enter into the apron, which made a great point in the discussion. The gathering chill of the landscape, so broad was it and so white. night had got into his inner man. She smiled upon him with ingratiating went down towards the beach slowly ponlooks.
dering, taking every step with a certain “Will you be going north, sir?" she hesitation. It seemed io him that he said ; “or will you be biding for the stood on the boundary between the even nigbt? Before we dish up the dinner and ground of reality and some wild world of put the sheets on the beds we like to fiction which he did not comprehend, but know."
had a mingled terror and haired of. Be. “Who is that young lady that has just bind him everything was homely and poor gone away?” said Walter, not paying enough; the light streamed out of the much attention ; " and where is she go- open doors and uncovered windows, the ing? It is late and cold for the water. red roof had a subdued glow of cheerful. Do you ever get frozen here?”
ness in the brown air, the sounds about “'That is Miss Oona of the isle,” said were cheerful, full of human bustle and the landlady; "but as I was saying, sir, movement, and mutual good offices. The about the beds
men led the horses away with a certain “ Are the islands inhabited then ? " said kindness; the landlady, with her white Walter; "and where is Kinloch-houran? | apron, stopped to say a friendly word to Does one go there by water too?" Big John, and interchanged civilities with
“No, Mistress Macgregor,” said Sym. the other humble passengers who were ington's voice on the other side; "my bringing her no custom, but merely pass, lord will not bide here to.night. I've ing her door to the ferry boat that waited been down to the beach, and there is a to take them across the loch. Everyboat there, but not your lordship's own, where there was a friendly interchange, a any more than there was a carriage wait. gleam of human warmth and mutual con. ing at Baldally. We must just put our solation. But before him lay the dark pride in our pockets, my lord, and put up water, with a dark shadow of mingled with what we can get.
your lord. towers and trees lying upon it at some ship’s ready we're all ready.”.
distance. He understood vaguely that By this time Biy John and all the oth this was Kinloch-houran, and the sight ers were standing in a group staring at of it was not inviting. He did not know Lord Erradeen with all their eyes. John what it might be that should meet him explained himself in a loud voice, but with there, but whatever it was it repelled and an evident secret sense of shame.
revolted him. He seemed to be about to 2148
overpass some invisible boundary of that he should be made to carry out a truthi and to venture into the false, into tyrannical, antiquated stipulation by any regions in which folly and trickery penalty of the law. It would be better to reigned. There was in Walter's mind all fight it out once for all. All the sense of the sentiment of his century towards the the kingdom would be with him, and he supernatural. He had an angry disbelief did not believe that any judge could proin his mind, not the tranquil contempt of nounce against him. Here Symington the indifferent. His annoyed and irritated called, with a slight tone of anxiety, "We scorn perhaps was nearer faith than he are all ready, my lord, and waiting.". This supposed; but he was impatient of be- almost decided Walter. He turned from ing called upon to give any of his atten- the beach, and made a few hasty steps up tion to those fables of the past which the slope. imposture only could keep up in the pres. But then he paused again, and turning ent. He felt that he was going to be round faced once more the darkening made the victim of some trick or other. water, the boat lying like a shadow upon The country people evidently believed, the beach, the vague figures of the men indeed, as was natural enough to their about it. The ferry boat had pushed off simplicity ; but Walter felt too certain and was lumbering over the water with that he would see the mechanism behind great oars going like bats' wings, and a the most artsul veil to believe it possible noisy human load. The other little vesthat he himself could be taken in, even sel with that girl had almost disappeared. for a moment. And he had no desire to He thought he could see in the darkness find out the contemptible imposture. He a white speck like a bird, which was the felt the whole business contemptible; the white shawl that wrapped her throat and secluded spot, the falling night, the un-shoulders. Her home lay somewhere in inhabited place, were all part of the jug- the centre of these dark waters, a curious glery. Should he voluntarily make him- nest for such a creature. And bis ? He self a party to it, and walk into the snare turned again towards the dark, half-seen with bis eyes open? He felt sure, in- towers and gables. Some of them were deed, that he would remain with his so irregular in outline that they could be eyes open all the time, and was not in the nothing but ruins. He began to think of least likely to submit to any black art that the past, mute, out of date, harınless to might be exercised upon him. But he affect the life that had replaced it, which paused, and asked himself was it consist- bad taken refuge there. And he remement with the dignity of a reasonable crea- bered his own argument about the courture, a full-grown man, to allow himself to tesy that the living owed to the dead. be drawn into any degrading contact with Well! if it was so, if it was as a politethis jugglery at all?
ness, a courtesy to the past, it might be The boat lay on the beach with his bag- unworthy a gentleman to refuse it. And gage already in it, and Symington stand- perhaps when all was said it was just a ing respectful awaiting his master's pleas- little cowardly to turn one's back upon a ure. Symington, no doubt, was the god possible danger, upon what at least the out of the machinery who had the fin mot vulgar thought a danger. This decided of everything and all the strings in bis him. He turned once more, and with a hand. What if he broke the spell peremp- few rapid steps reached the boat. Next torily and retired to the ruddy fireside of moment they were afloat upon the dark the inn and defied family tradition ? He loch. There had been no wind to speak asked himself again what would come of of on shore, but the boat was soon strug. it? and replied to himself scornfully that gling against a strong running current, nothing could come of it. What law could and a breeze which was like ice. The force hiin to observe an antiquated super- boatmen showed dark against the gleam. stition? It was folly to threaten him with ing loch, the rude little vessel rolled, the impossible penalties. And even if a thing wind blew. In front of them rose the so absurd could happen as that he should dark towers and woods all black without be punished in purse or property for act. a sign of human habitation. Walter felt ing like a man of sense instead of a fool, bis heart rise at last with the sense of what then? The mere possibility of the adventure. It was the strangest way of risk made Walter more disposed to incur entering upon a fine inheritance. it. It was monstrous and insufferable