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raging to meet it, while every lesser glen had its own uproar, so that on all hands they were environed with death.
“ I will go—and, till I return, leave you with God.” “ Go, Ronald!” and he went and came, as if he had been endowed with the raven's wings, Miles away
and miles back had he flown, and an hour had not been with his going and his coming; but what a dreary wretchedness meanwhile had been hers! She feared that she was dying—that the cold snow-storm was killing her—and that she would never more see Ronald, to say to him farewell. Soon as he was gone, all her courage had died. Alone, she feared death, and wept to think how hard it was for one so young thus miserably to die. He came, and her whole being was changed. Folded up in both the plaids, she felt resigned. “Oh! kiss me, kiss me, Ronald; for your love-great as it is—is not as my love.
You must never forget me, Ronald, when your poor Flora is dead."
Religion with these two young creatures was as clear as the light of the sabbath-day—and their belief in heaven just the same as in earth. The will of God they thought of just as they thought of their parents' will,—and the same was their living obedience to its decrees. If she was to die, supported now by the presence of her brother, Flora was utterly resigned ; if she was to live, her heart imaged to itself the very forms of her grateful worship. But all at once she closed her eyes, ceased breathing,—and, as the tempest howled and rumbled in the gloom that fell around them like blindness, Ronald almost sunk down, thinking that she was dead.
“ Wretched sinner that I am!--my wicked madness brought her here to die of cold!” And he smote his breast, and tore his hair, and feared to look up, lest the angry eye of God were looking on him through the storm.
All at once, without speaking a word, Ronald lifted Flora in his arms, and walked away up the glen, here almost narrowed into a pass. Distraction gave him supernatural strength, and her weight seemed that of a child. Some walls of what had once been a house, he had suddenly remembered, were but a short way off; whether or not they had any roof he had forgotten, -- but the thought even of such a shelter seemed a thought of salvation. There it was—a snow-drift at the opening that had once been a door-snow up the holes once windows
--the wood of the roof had been carried off for fuel, and the snowflakes were falling in, as if they would soon fill up the inside of the ruin. The snow in front was all trampled, as if by sheep; and carry. ing in his burden under the low lintel, he saw the place was filled with a flock that had foreknown the hurricane, and that, all huddled together, looked on him as on the shepherd, come to see how they were faring in the storm. And a young shepherd he was, with a lamb apparently dying in his
All colour, all motion, all breath seemed to be gone; and yet something convinced his heart that she was yet alive. The ruined hut was roofless, but across an angle of the walls some pine branches had been flung, as a sort of shelter for the sheep or cattle that might repair thither in cruel weather-some pine-branches left by the woodcutters, who had felled the few trees that once stood at the very
head of the glen. Into that corner the snow drift had not yet forced its way, and he sat down there, with Flora in the cherishing of hi brace, hoping that the warmth of his distracted heart might be felt by her, who was as cold as a corpse. The chill air was somewhat softened by the breath of the huddled flock, and the edge of the cutting wind blunted by the stones. It was a place in which it seemed possible that she might revive, miserable as it was with the mire-mixed snow, and almost as cold as one supposes the grave. And she did revive, and under the half-open lids the dim blue appeared to be not yet lifedeserted. It was yet but the afternoon,----night-like though it was,and he thought, as he breathed upon her lips, that a faint red returned, and that they felt the kisses he dropt on them to drive death away.
** Oh! father, go seek for Ronald, for I dreamt to-night that he was perishing in the snow." Flora, fear not, --God is with us." · Wild swans, they say, are come to Loch Phoil. Let us go, Ronald, and see them ; but no rifle -- for why kill creatures said to be so beautiful ?” Over them where they lay bended down the pine-branch roof, as if it would give way beneath the increasing weight; but there it still hung, though the drift came over their feet, and up to their knees, and seemed stealing upwards to be their shroud. Oh! I am overcome with drowsiness, and fain would be allowed to sleep. Who is disturbing me—and what noise is this in our house ?" " Fear not, fear not, Flora, --God is with us." “ Mother! am I lying in your arms? My
father surely is not in the storm. Oh, I have had a most dreadful dream!" and with such mutterings as these Flora relapsed again into that perilous sleep, which soon becomes that of death.
Night itself came, but Flora and Ronald knew it not; and both lay motionless in one snow-shroud. Many passions, though earth-born, heavenly all-pity, and grief, and love, and hope, and at last despair, had prostrated the strength they had so long supported ; and the brave boy-who had been for some time feeble as a very child after a fever, with a mind confused and wandering, and in its perplexities sore afraid of some nameless ill—had submitted to lay down his head be. side his Flora's, and had soon become, like her, insensible to the night and all its storms.
Bright was the peat fire in the hut of Flora's parents in Glenco,and they were among the happiest of the humble happy, blessing this the birthday of their blameless child. They thought of her, singing her sweet songs by the fire-side of the hut in Glencreran, and tender thoughts of her cousin Ronald were with them in their prayers. No warning came to their ears in the sugh or the howl; for fear it is that creates its own ghosts, and all its own ghostlike visitings; and they had seen their Flora, in the meekness of the morning, setting forth on her way over the quiet mountains, like a fawn to play. Sometimes too, Love, who starts at shadows as if they were of the grave, is strangely insensible to realities that might well inspire dismay. So was it now with the dwellers in the hut at the head of Glencreran. Their Ronald had left them in the morning,-night had come, and he and Flora were not there,—but the day had been almost like a sum mer day, and in their infatuation they never doubted that the happy creatures had changed their minds, and that Flora had returned with him to Glenco. Ronald had laughingly said, that haply he might surprise the people in that glen by bringing back to them Flora on her birth-day, and—strange though it afterwards seemed to her to bethat belief prevented one single fear from touching his mother's heart, and she and her husband that night lay down in untroubled sleep.
And what could have been done for them, had they been told by some good or evil spirit that their children were in the clutches of such a night? As well seek for a single bark in the middle of the misty main! But the inland storm had been seen brewing among the mountains round King's-House, and hut had communicated with hut,
though far apart in regions where the traveller sees no symptoms of human life. Down through the long cliff-pass of Mealanumy, between Buchael-Etive and the Black Mount, towards the lone House of Dalness, that lies in everlasting shadows, went a band of shepherds, trampling their way across a hundred frozen streams. Dalness joined its strength, and then away over the drift-bridged chasms toiled that gathering, with their sheep-dogs scouring the loose snows in the van, Fingal the Red Reaver, with his head aloft on the look-out for deer, grimly eyeing the corrie where last he tasted blood. All plaided in their tartan array,” these shepherds laughed at the storm,—and hark, you hear the bagpipe play--the music the Highlanders love both in
war and in peace.
They think then of the owrie cattle,
And silly sheep ;”
and though they ken 'twill be moonless night,-for the snow-storm will
sweep her out of heaven, - up the mountain and down the glen they go, marking where flock and herd have betaken themselves, and now, at midfall, unafraid of that blind hollow, they descend into the depth where once stood the old grove of pines. Following their dogs, who know their duties in their instinct, the band, without seeing it, are now close to that ruined hut. Why bark the sheep-dogs so—and why howls Fingal, as if some spirit passed athwart the night? He scents the dead body of the boy who so often had shouted him on in the forest when the antlers went by! Not dead—nor dead she who is on his bosom. Yet life in both is frozen,-and will the red blood in their veins ever again be thawed ? Almost pitch dark is the roof less ruin; and the frightened sheep know not what is that terrible shape that is howling there. But a man enters, and lifts up one of the bodies, giving it into the arms of those at the doorway, and then lifts up
the other; and, by the flash of a rifle, they see that it is Ronald Cameron and Flora Macdonald, seemingly both frozen to death. Some of those reeds that the shepherds burn in their huts are kindled, and in that small light they are assured that such are the corpses. But that noble dog knows that death is not there, and licks the face of Ronald, as if he would restore life to his eyes. Two of the shepherds know well how to fold the dying in their plaids,-how gentlest to carry
them along; for they had learnt it on the field of victorious battle, when, without stumbling over the dead and wounded, they bore away the shattered body, yet living, of the youthful warrior, who had shown that of such a clan he was worthy to be the chief.
The storm was with them all the way down the glen ; nor could they have heard each others' voices had they spoke ; but mutely they shifted the burden from strong hand to hand, thinking of the hut in Glenco, and of what would be felt there on their arrival with the dying or the dead. Blind people walk through what to them is the night of crowded day-streets, unpausing turn round corners, unhesitating plunge down steep stairs, wind their way fearlessly through whirlwinds of life, and reach in their serenity, each one unharmed, his own obscure house. For God is with the blind. So is He with all who walk on walks of mercy. This saving band had no fear, therefore there was no danger, on the edge of the pitfall or the cliff. They knew the countenances of the mountains, shown momentarily by ghastly gleamings through the fitful night, and the hollow sound of each particular stream beneath the snow, at places where in other weather there was a pool or a waterfall. The dip of the hills, in spite of the drifts, familiar to their feet, did not deceive them now; and then the dogs, in their instinct, were guides that erred not; and as well as the shepherds knew it themselves, did Fingal know that they were anxious to reach Glenco. He led the way as if he were in moonlight; and often stood still when they were shifting their burden, and whined as if in grief. He knew where the bridges were-stones or logs; and he rounded the marshes where at springs the wild fowl feed. And thus instinct, and reason, and faith, conducted the saving band along,—and now they are at Glenco, and at the door of the hut.
To life were brought the dead; and there, at midnight, sat they up like ghosts. Strange seemed they for a while to each others' eyes,and at each other they looked as if they had forgotten how dearly once they loved. Then, as if in holy fear, they gazed in each others' faces, thinking that they had awoke together in heaven. “ Flora!” said Ronald,—and that sweet word, the first he had been able to speak, reminded him of all that had passed, and he knew that the God in whom they had put their trust had sent them deliverance. Flora, too, knew her parents, who were on their knees; and she strove to