Imágenes de páginas

once more the man she fell in love word passed between the two men; and with up in Lewis. Perhaps she was Lavender, keenly sensitive to all such inistaken—I don't say anything about impressions, and now and again shiverit myself.”

ing slightly, either from cold or nervous The terribly cool way in which Ingram excitement, walked blindly along the talked-separating, defining, exhibiting, deserted streets, seeing far other things so that he and his companion should than the tall houses, and the drooping get as near as possible to what he be- trees, and the growing light of the sky. lieved to be the truth of the situation It seemed to him at this moment -was oddly in contrast with the blind that he was looking at Sheila's funeral. and passionate yearning of the other There was a great stillness in that small for some glimpse of hope. His whole house at Borvabost. There was a boat nature seemed to go out in a cry to -Sheila's own boat--down at the shore Sheila, that she would come back and there; and there were two or three give him a chance of atoning for the figures in black in it. The day was past. At length he rose. He looked grey and rainy; the sea washed along strangely haggard, and his eyes scarcely the melancholy shores ; the far hills seemed to see the things around him. were hidden in mist. And now he “I must go home," he said.

saw some people come out of the house Ingram saw that he merely wanted to into the rain, and the bronzed and get outside and walk about in order to bearded men had oars with them, and find some relief from this anxiety and on the crossed oars there was a coffin unrest, and said,

placed. They went down the hill"You ought, I think, to stop here side. They put the coffin in the stern and go to bed. But if you would of the boat; and in absolute silencerather go home, I will walk up with except for the wailing of the womenyou, if you like."

they pulled away down the dreary Loch When the two men went out, the Roag till they came to the island where night-air smelt sweet and moist, for the burial-ground is. They carried the rain had fallen, and the city trees were coffin up to that small enclosure, with still dripping with the wet and rustling its rank grass growing green, and the in the wind. The weather had changed rain falling on the rude stones and suddenly, and now, in the deep blue memorials. How often had he leaned overhead, they knew the clouds were on that low stone wall, and read the passing swiftly by. Was it the coming strange inscriptions, in various tongues, light of the morning that seemed to give over the graves of mariners from distant depth and richness to that dark blue countries who had met with their death vault, while the pavements of the streets on this rocky coast. Had not Sheila and the houses grew vaguely distinct herself pointed out to him, with a sad and grey ? Suddenly in turning the air, how many of these memorials bore corner into Piccadilly, they saw the the words “who was drowned ;” and moon appear in a rift of those passing that, too, was the burden of the rudelyclouds; but it was not the moonlight spelt legends beginning with “Hier rutt that shed this pale and wan greyness in Gott,” or “Her under hviler stovit," down the lonely streets. It is just at and sometimes ending with the pathetic this moment, when the dawn of the new "Wunderschen ist unsre Hoffnung." day, begins to tell, that a great city The fishermen brought the coffin to the seems at its deadest; and in the pro- newly-made grave; the women standing found silence and amid the strange trans- back a bit, old Scarlett MacDonald formations of the cold and growing light, stroking Mairi's hair, and bidding the a man is thrown in upon himself, and girl control her frantic grief, though the holds communion with himself, as old woman herself could hardly speak though he and his own thoughts were for her tears and her lamentations. He all that was left in the world. Not a could read the words "Sheila Mackenzie" on the small silver plate : she had been threw open the door of the small room taken away from all association with which Sheila had adorned, asking him and his name. And who was this Ingram to follow him. How wild and old man with the white hair and the strange this chamber looked, with the white beard, whose hands were tightly wan glare of the dawn shining in on its clenched, and his lips firm, and a look barbaric decorations from the sea-coast as of death in the sunken and wild eyes? -on the shells, and skins, and feathers Mackenzie was grey a year before

that Sheila had placed around! That “Ingram,” he said, suddenly, and his white light of the morning was now voice startled his companion, “ do you shining everywhere into the silent and think it is possible to make Sheila desolate house. Lavender found Ingram happy again ?"

a bed-room; and then he turned away, “How can I tell ?” said Ingram. not knowing what to do. He looked

“You used to know everything she into Sheila's room : there were dresses, could wish-everything she was think bits of finery, and what, not, that he ing about. If you find her out now, knew so well; but there was no light will you get to know? Will you see breathing audible in the silent and what I can do-not by asking her to empty chamber. He shut the door, as come back, not by trying to get back reverently as though he were shutting my own happiness—but anything, it it on the dead; and went down-stairs does not matter what it is, I can do for and threw himself almost fainting with her? If she would rather not see me despair and fatigue on a sofa, while again, I will stay away. Will you ask the world outside awoke to a new day, her, Ingram ?"

with all its countless and joyous activities “We have got to find her first," said and duties. his companion. “A young girl like that,” said Laven

CHAPTER XX. der, taking no heed of the objection,

A SURPRISE. “surely she cannot always be unhappy. She is so young and beautiful, and takes THERE was no letter from Sheila in the so much interest in many things-surely morning; and Lavender, so soon as the she may have a happy life.”

post had come and gone, went up to “She might have had.”

Ingram's room and woke him. "I don't mean with me," said Laven- “I am sorry to disturb you, Ingram," der, with his haggard face looking still he said, “but I am going to Lewis. I more haggard in the increasing light. shall catch the train to Glasgow at ten." “ I mean anything that can be done- “And what do you want to get to any way of life that will make her com- Lewis for ?" said Ingram, starting up. fortable and contented again—anything “Do you think Sheila would go straight that I can do for that, will you try to back to her own people with all this find it out, Ingram ?”

humiliation upon her ? And supposing “Oh yes, I will,” said the other, who she is not there, how do you propose to had been thinking with much fore- meet old Mackenzie ?" boding of all these possibilities ever "I am not afraid of meeting any since they left Sloane Street, his only man,” said Lavender; “I want to know gleam of hope being a consciousness that where Sheila is. And if I see Macthis time at least there could be no kenzie, I can only tell him frankly everydoubt of Frank Lavender's absolute thing that has happened. He is not sincerity, of his remorse, and his almost likely to say anything of me half as bad morbid craving to make reparation if as what I think of myself.” that were still possible.

“Now listen,” said Ingram, sitting up They reached the house at last. There in bed, with his brown beard and greyish was a dim orange coloured light shining hair in a considerably dishevelled conin the passage. Lavender went on, and dition. “Sheila may have gone home,

but it isn't likely. If she has not, your sary activity which betokens the excitetaking the story up there, and spreading ment of a holiday. What a strange it abroad, would prepare a great deal of holiday was his ! He got into a smokingpain for her when she might go back at carriage in order to be alone ; and he some future time. But suppose you looked out on the people who were want to make sure that she has not bidding their friends good-bye. Some gone to her father's house. She could of them were not very pretty ; many of not have got down to Glasgow sooner them were ordinary, insignificant, comthan this morning, by last night's train, monplace-looking folks; but it was clear you know. It is to-morrow morning, that they had those about them who not this morning, that the Stornoway loved them and thought much of them. steamer starts, and she would be certain There was one man whom, in other to go direct to it at the Glasgow Broomie- circumstances, Lavender would have law, and go round the Mull of Cantyre dismissed with contempt as an excelinstead of catching it up at Oban, be- lent specimen of the unmitigated cad. cause she knows the people in the boat, He wore a white waistcoat, purple gloves, and she and Mairi would be among and a green sailor's knot with a diamond friends. If you really want to know in it; and there was a cheery, vacuous, whether she has gone north, perhaps smiling expression on his round face as you could do no better than run down he industriously smoked a cheroot and to Glasgow to-day, and have a look at made small jokes to the friends who the boat that starts to-morrow morning. had come to see him off. One of them I would go with you myself, but I can't was a young woman, not very goodescape the office to-day."

looking, perhaps, who did not join in Lavender agreed to do this ; and was the general hilarity; and it occurred to about to go. But before he bade his Lavender that the jovial man with the friend good-bye, he lingered for a second cheroot was perhaps cracking his little or two in a hesitating way, and then he jokes to keep up her spirits. At all said

events he called her “my good lags" “Ingram, you were speaking the other from time to time, and patted her on night of your going up to Borya. If the shoulder, and was very kind to her. you should go— "

And when the guard came up, and bade “Of course I shan't go," said the everybody get in, the man kissed the other, promptly. “How could I face girl, and shook hands with her, and Mackenzie when he began to ask me bade her good-bye; and then she, moved about Sheila? No, I cannot go to Borva by some sudden impulse, caught his while this affair remains in its present face in both her hands and kissed him condition; and, indeed, Lavender, I once on each cheek. It was a ridicumean to stop in London till I see you lous scene. People who wear green ties out of your trouble somehow.”

with diamond pins care nothing for “You are heaping coals of fire on, decorum. And yet Lavender, when he my head."

averted his eyes from this parting, "Oh, don't look at it that way. If could not help recalling what Ingram I can be of any help to you, I shall had been saying the night before, and expect, this time, to have a return for wondered whether this outrageous per

son, with his abominable decorations “What do you mean?”

and his genial grin, might not be more "I will tell you when we get to fortunate than many a great statesman, know something of Sheila's intentions." or warrior, or monarch.

And so Frank Lavender found him He turned round to find the cad self once more, as in the old times, in the beside him ; and presently the man, Euston Station, with the Scotch mail with an abounding good-nature, began ready to start, and all manner of to converse with him, and explained folks bustling about with that unneces that it was 'igh 'oliday with him, for that

[ocr errors]


he had got a pass to travel first-class as of the man, he shoved a whole bundle far as Carlisle. He hoped they would of the morning papers into his hands. have a jolly time of it together. He “ What's your opinion of politics at explained the object of his journey in the present, sir ? ” observed his friend, in an frankest possible fashion ; made a kindly off-hand way. little joke upon the hardship of parting “I haven't any,” said Lavender, comwith one's sweetheart; said that a faint pelled to take back one of the newsheart never won fair lady, and that it papers, and open it. was no good crying over spilt milk. “I think myself, they're in a bad She would be all right, and precious state. That's my opinion. There ain't glad to see him when he came back in a man among 'em who knows how to three weeks' time, and he meant to keep down those people. That's my bring her a present that would be good opinion, sir. What do you think?" for sore eyes.

“Oh, I think so, too," said Lavender. “Perhaps you're a married man, sir, “You'll find a good article in that paper and got past all them games?" said the on University Tests." gad, cheerily.

The cheery person looked rather blank. “Yes, I am married," said Lavender, “I would like to hear your opinion coldly.

about 'em, sir,” he said. “It ain't much " And you're going further than Car- good reading only one side of a question ; lisle, you say, sir? I'll be sworn the but when you can talk about it and disgood lady is up somewhere in that direc- cuss it, now--" tion, and she won't be disappointed when “I am sorry I can't oblige you," said she sees you-oh no! Scotch, sir ? " Lavender, goaded into making some

“I am not Scotch," said Lavender, desperate effort to release himself. "I curtly.

am suffering from relaxed throat at pre“And she ?"

sent. My doctor has warned me against Should he have to throw the man out talking too much." of the window ?

“I beg your pardon, sir. You don't “ Yes."

seem very well—perhaps the throat “The Scotch are a strange race comes with a little feverishness, you see very,” said the genial person, producing —a cold, in fact. Now, if I was you, a brandy flask. “They drink a trifle, I'd try tannin lozenges for the throat. don't they ; and yet they keep their They're uncommon good for the throat; wits about them if you've dealings with and a little quinine for the general them. A very strange race of people in system—that would put you as right as my opinion-very. Know the story of a fiver. I tried it myself when I was the master who fancied his man was down in ’Ampshire last year. And you drunk ? Donald, you're trunk,' says he wouldn't find a drop of this brandy & . It's a tam lee,' says Donald. Donald, bad thing either, if you don't mind rowye ken ye're trunk !' says the master. ing in the same boat as myself.” * Ah ken ah wish to Kott ah wass !' says Lavender declined the proffered flask, Donald. Good story, ain't it, sir ?" and subsided behind a newspaper. His

Lavender had heard the remarkable fellow-traveller lit another cheroot, took old joke a hundred times ; but just atup Bradshaw, and settled himself in a this moment there was something odd corner. in this vulgar person suddenly imitating. Had Sheila come up this very line and imitating very well, the Highland some dozen hours before? Lavender accent. Had he been away up in the asked himself, as he looked out on the north ; or had he merely heard the story hills, and valleys, and woods of Buck: related by one who had been? Laven- inghamshire. Had the throbbing of der dared not ask, however, for fear of the engine and the rattle of the wheels prolonging a conversation in which he kept the piteous eyes awake all through had no wish to join. Indeed, to get rid · the dark night, until he pale dawa

showed the girl a wild vision of northern But she might have gone to Greenock, hills and moors, telling her she was get- and waited for the steamer there. Acting near to her own country? Not cordingly, after the Clansman had started thus had Sheila proposed to herself to on her voyage, he went into a neighbourreturn home on the first holiday-time ing hotel and had some breakfast, after that should occur to them both. He which he crossed the bridge to the began to think of his present journey station, and took rail for Greenock, as it might have been in other circum- where he arrived some time before the stances. Would she have remembered Clansman made her appearance. He any of those pretty villages which she went down to the quay. It was yet saw one early morning, long ago, when early morning, and a cool fresh breeze they were bathed in sunshine, and was blowing in across the broad waters scarcely awake to the new day? of the Firth, where the sunlight was Would she be impatient at the de- shining on the white sails of the yachts lays at the stations, and anxious to and on the dipping and screaming seahurry on to Westmoreland and Dum- gulls. Far away beyond the pale blue fries, to Glasgow, and Oban, and Skye, mountains opposite lay the wonderful and then from Stornoway across the network of sea-loch and island through island to the little inn at Garra-na-hina ? which one had to pass to get to the disHere, as he looked out of the window, tant Lewis. How gladly, at this mothe first indication of the wilder countryment, would he have stepped on board became visible in the distant Berkshire the steamer, with Sheila, and put out hills. Close at hand the country lay on that gleaming plain of sea, knowing green and bright under a brilliant sun; that by and by they would sail into but over there in the east, some heavy Stornoway harbour and find the wagclouds darkened the landscape, and the gonette there. They would not hasten far hills seemed to be placed amid a the voyage. She had never been round gloomy stretch of moorland. Would the Mull of Cantyre; and so he would not Sheila have been thrilled by this sit by her side, and show her the wild glimpse of the coming north ? She tides meeting there, and the long jets of would have fancied that greater moun- white foam shooting up the great wall tains lay far behind these rounded of rock. He would show her the pale slopes, hidden in mist. She would have coast of Ireland ; and then they would imagined that no human habitations see Islay, of which she had many a were near those rising plains of sombre ballad and story. They would go hue, where the red-deer and the fox through the narrow Sound that is overought to dwell. And in her delight at looked by the gloomy mountains of Jura. getting away from the fancied bright- They would see the distant islands ness of the south, would she not have where the chief of Colonsay is still been exceptionally grateful and affec- mourned for on the still evenings, by tionate towards himself, and striven to the hapless mermaiden, who sings her please him with her tender ways ? wild song across the sea. They would

It was not a cheerful journey-this keep wide of the dangerous currents of lonely trip to the North. Lavender got Corryvreckan ; and by and by they to Glasgow that night; and next morn- would sail into the harbour of Oban, ing he went down, long before any the beautiful sea-town where Sbeila first passengers could have thought of arriv- got a notion of the greatness of the ing, to the Clansman. He did not go world lying outside of her native island. near the big steamer, for he was known What if she were to come down now to the captain and the steward ; but he from this busy little seaport, which lay hung about the quays, watching each under a pale blue smoke and come out person who went on board. Sheila cer- upon this pier to meet the free sunlight tainly was not among the passengers by and the fresh sea-air blowing all about ? the Clansman.

Surely at a great distance he could

« AnteriorContinuar »