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might have fifty holes in his hat, or in his head almost, without the loving sister coming to brush, or darn, or even poultice them. Of this I made no grievance, but went so far as to be unaware of it; and when her conscience began to work, I showed her that I had bought a thimble, and she called me a heartless molly-coddle. "Never mind. There are better girls than you who can appreciate me," I answered with a superior smile, and she flew into a passion. Such is feminine jealousy. They want to love some new-comer better, yet we are not to know it, or to feel the difference.
Most heartily I wished poor Jackson Stoneman only half as good a bargain as he fancied he had made of it; for the blindness of a man in love is to others quite ridiculous. And I knew that although Grace was blessed with many of the merits he had inspired her with, no one else could think her fit to hold a candle to Dariel. Yet for the world I did not wish to hear any one praise my darling, unless it were her father or myself; for it was our business only.
Upon my way to the sacred place where my destiny was to be settled, being much before my time, and longing to divert my mind (which made my legs feel trembling), I turned aside to search the covert which had so nearly proved my doom in the darkness of the night gone by. If I had been as nervous then as now, nothing could have saved me, for the shock of the blow must have thrown me down, and the enemy would have leaped up and despatched me. Even as I had been, full of glorious thoughts, and striding in full pride of strength, probably I should have lost my balance, if my left foot had been foremost. And now in the broad daylight I was half-afraid to examine the dingle. But I had
brought my gun, that loyal friend, now as fit for work as ever, and both barrels loaded with duckshot. If that miscreant's gun had been loaded so-but those thundering villains are no sportsmen.
At once I discovered the place where he had crouched, and a comfortable lair he had made of it, less than twelve yards from the path by which he expected me. But the ground being strewn with leaves, wherever it was not covered with grass or tangle, no footprints could be descried, either there or further down the dingle; and I was at the point of abandoning my search, when a little brown disk, like a piece of stamped leather, attracted my attention. It was hanging on some twigs about a yard from the ground, in a line between the lurking-place and the spot where I had been when the bullet staggered me, and at first I took it for a large thick leaf. And a leaf it was, but not of any tree or shrub that I had ever met with; and I perceived that it was streaked with black, and smelled very strongly of gunpowder. Beyond any doubt, it had been used as a patch or wrapping for the leaden ball that was meant to send me to another world, and parts of it were scorched or singed by the explosion. I could even see the impress of the iron cap belonging to the heavy ramrod, by which it had been driven down the rifle-barrel, and on the other side might be traced the convexity of the bullet which had been enclosed. What leaf could this be? It was thicker and tougher than any English leaf I knew, as well as different in shape and texture. Tearing a fibre from the cleanest part I laid it on my tongue, and was surprised by a strong and peculiar aroma. After packing it carefully in a letter from Tom Erricker which happened to be
in my pocket, I went on my way towards the ruins of the chapel, having made up my mind to enquire at Kew, where I knew a noble botanist, what tree was likely to produce that leathery and spicy foliage.
But this and every other thought of things around me and of myself were far from any mind of mineif mind at all remained to me, as I sat upon an ancient stone begirt with fern and lycopod, and sandalled with soft moss rosetted here and there with ivy braids. All such things are soothing; and there also seemed to be an ancient air, proceeding from the memory of holy monks, who never pretended to be better than they were, because they saw no need of it. Hereupon I began to fear, as a few dead leaves went by me, that I should not have appointed this cold and holy spot for speaking of an everyday affair like love. But, without another word, I was strengthened greatly; the very argument against me took my part. True love is a sacred thing, as the Lord Himself ordained it; and a place of ancient reverence, with the sky alone to roof it, suited well for that which is the loftiest of the human state.
Perhaps the maiden had some thoughts a little like my own, but better, larger, and less tumultuous. I was not in a fit condition to know exactly what she did; and I even pretended to know less than eyes and heart brought home to me. I only knew that she was there, and for a little time I felt afraid to wish for any more than that.
She, to my delight and glory, trembled, and tried to look away, as if she shared my fear, but begged me to let it go on a little longer. Then as I caught her hand, and raised it very gently and reverently, good manners compelled her to show surprise, and to cast an en
"Because he knows why. And he gave me leave to say what you know already. Oh Dariel, what is the good of talking? You know all about it. Ever since that blessed moment, when I first caught sight of youyou"
"Through the bushes and across the water? Or was it when you saved Kuban's life?" She looked at me very gravely, as if the time made all the difference.
"Both, both. And a thousand times since. And it must go on for ever. You can't understand it. Of course you can't. But I can understand nothing else. Oh Dariel, don't be hard upon me. I know that you are the wonder of the world, and that I am nothing but a very common fellow, not half so worthy to look at you as the short-eared owls in your ivy—'
"I am very fond of owls," said Dariel; "they are the wisest of all birds. But I never saw them sit and look at me."
"Then they are fools, and I'll do it for them for ever. But oh, if I could only make you see for a moment how I love you! Don't laugh at me, Dariel. Don't do that."
"I am sure that I never laughed at all. How can you think that I would be so wicked? But I will confess, if that will be quite sufficient, that I think-that I have been persuaded considerably, Mr Cranleigh, that you that you like me." Dariel ! What a Can you look at me, and fancy it no more than that?" But she would not be taken at any disadvantage; though
"Like you, wretched word!
she turned one ear towards me a little as if ears could hold no agency for heart or lips or eyes.
I followed her to the place that once had been of holy rite, and there she took my hand, and knelt upon the plinth of the old sanctuary, and made the sign of the Cross upon her breast and forehead, and spoke some words in some sweet lansay—guage, and then arose and offered me both hands, and I kissed her lovely brow, and met her loving eyes bedewed with tears, and said, "You are mine for ever."
"Now listen to me for a moment," I said, creeping close to that ear, which was a masterpiece of shell-work, and filigree curves, and chasing; "tell me just have a little kindness, say whether you think you could ever like me." "Yes, I will say; I will not conceal. I think that I could like you very well; because-because"Because what, Dariel? That I may do it again, and go on doing it for ever."
"Am I?" In a moment she was in my arms, and I had the sweetest revenge ever known for an imputation of cowardice. And she, whether carried away by my love, or by her own sweet gratitude, looked at me with a glow of light, like the gates of heaven opening, and drew me into fresh ecstasy, and whispered, "Do you love me?" Such a time is the date of life, for ever to be dwelt upon; but never spoken of, unless it be with the only one who shared it. And I would never have touched upon it, but left all those to take it home, who in their time have been so blessed; unless I were bound to let them see how much I had to go upon, in my obstinacy afterwards. Dariel loved me! Who was I, to be rapt by such a miracle?
who of mankind should take it from me, as long as the heavens continued?
"Let us kneel, and thank the Lord," my darling said, with coy reproach of my impetuous transport; "here where first you saw me, George. If He has meant us for one another, He will be vexed if we do not thank Him."
She bowed her head, as if to say, "I am well contented with it"; but when I drew forth that ruby cross of hers which I had kept so long, and offered to place it on her breast, as it was when I first beheld her, she shrank away, and her cheeks grew pale, and she trembled so that I felt compelled to throw both arms around her. "What is it, my darling? My own love, what has scared you so?" I asked, drawing the red flash from her sight.
"You know that I am not too wise. You do not want me to be wise; oh George, I have no strength of mind; I cannot bear to be taken from you."
"I should like to see anybody do it," said I, guiding her craftily to a less exalted place; "but why has this little thing frightened you so, when you must have worn it a hundred times?"
"Because there is a most sad tale about it, which I will tell you some day. But even without that I must not wear it, according to the rules of the family; unless unless a thing that would grieve you heartily, I hope, George -unless I cease to care for you. No maiden must have this on her heart, when her heart has ceased to be her own. Shall I tell you a little secret? That was why I lent it to you and never asked for it back again, as soon as ever I began to fancy-not to be too sure-but to be uncertain whether
-oh, you know my signification, George!"
"When you doubted, sweetest sweet, whether you might not be beginning to think in your angelic heart of a worthless fellow, whose name is George."
"What language to use of such a pair! If you abuse one, you abuse the other. Do you see what English I speak now? I could not talk like this, when first I met you. How do you think I learned to do it?"
"Dariel, how should I know? Your voice would make any language sweet. Your father has the gift of tongues. He speaks better English than I do. No doubt it has come down to you. And you have been with English teachers."
But they made me speak French more than this. They thought that the air would teach me English. And my father always talked to me in our own language, such as I sang to you last night. But when I began to have George in my mind, and to fancy that he was getting fond of me, I changed all that. Comprehend you now? I made my darling father speak nothing to me but the English. And I shall be angry with myself, if you have not observed the improvement."
At this proof of her lovely love, I said and did no matter what. Never since the world began has any man been so beyond himself.
Such things are not to be described. And I never would have gone back thus, to give any one else an idea of them, if I could have won that glory, with no anguish afterwards. Every man must be in glory, when his true love loves him. He knows that he is not worthy of it; and that makes the triumph nobler.
She might lead me where she liked. A man is never like a flower- unless it be a tobaccoflower, which only blooms in the evening-but he has always been. like grass; and grass (if you watch it carefully, and mow it very seldom) has a gift of turning to the sun, like most of us who manage it. My sense of beauty was so vast that I could not get to the end of it, and strove to teach her every item of her own perfections. But she arose, and took my hand, and said, "Let us go to father. A little bit of wisdom will be good among all these wonders. But I only wish that I owned them all; because they would all belong to you."
Sûr Imar received us with a loving smile. I thought that he had never looked more grand. Dariel knelt to him, while I held her hand; and if I could have knelt to any man, I would have done so then to him. But the knee of an Englishman goes down to none except his Maker.
"So be it," he said, as he kissed her forehead; " may the Lord bless both my children."
AN OLD SALMON-POACHING STORY.
ONE May morning, nearly sixty years ago, a man left his home at the head of Glen Nant, and crossed over the bit of wild moorland which lies between the head of that valley and the Pass of Awe or Brander. He skirted the little wood below his house of Barrachander, where, early though it was, the wood - pigeons were already cooing, passed through a chain of small lochs, and got out on to the heather near the old ruined tower of Balliemore. Long ago this man's ancestors had been people of note in the world: in rough troublesome days their house was a strong one, both in itself and its position. It stands-what is left of it-in a cup or sheltering hollow among the hills, unobtrusive, unnoticeable, and no doubt many an unfriendly traveller has unwittingly passed it by. But at last came the evil day, and it perished, how, or in what period with what stress of life and shouting and bloodshed-the solemn hills standing around alone know. The burning of Airlie or the siege of such a place as Inverlochy are recorded in history, but she has nothing to say as to the end of such a humble mountain fortress as this.
On one of the lochs near is an island, with the remains of a building on it; this is called the "Charter House," the Safety-Place for Balliemore. As it once gave protection to men, so it does now to birds, and the wild ducks and gulls and curlew of Loch Tromlie find in its shelter the quiet and security which it once afforded its old owners.
It has been said that if the last trump had sounded at the end of
the great war with France at the beginning of this century, no one but a Macleod would have risen up out of the graveyard of Dunvegan. The MacCorquodales could hardly make the same boast as the great western clan, but their dust must lie thick in the little moorland churchyard of Kilchrenan. It is a good many years since the chief actor in this sketch joined his brethren there. Near his grave is a huge stone erected to the memory of a world-renowned head of a great house, to "Cailean Mor, slain on the Sreang of Lorn, A.D. 1294." Next to this is another monument commemorating six Campbells of position, four of whom were killed in some fierce fight in the neighbourhood. So he lies in goodly company, with many members of his clan, and his clan's enemies, side by side with ancient chiefs and warriors, and freebooters, and smugglers, and decent homelike nineteenth-century sheep-farmers and crofters.
It is not likely that Archibald MacCorquodale ever troubled himself very much about his ancestors, or his own humble position. man as he was-earning a precarious living by hard work-he was probably very much better off in most ways than any of them were. He never was obliged to carry off himself and his household gods at a moment's notice to the safety island; he never was awakened at midnight by an ominous flare in the sky, telling him (as it had often told his forebears) that the stacks or cowhouse was aglow; and when he left his home he knew he would find on his return the small wild-looking black-cattle feeding