[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

is it?"



looking at Gibbs – "Oonoolooloo — what for me to leave them in the middle of the

week, though, of course, if it was very im“Oonalaska,” supplied Gibbs, wishing portant I would try to manage it.” Then his friend would be quiet.

with a few last warnings the soldier “Oh, yes. Oonalaska, a fine place for climbed into his seat and drove off, havsport that!” thinking he would do the ing performed what he considered to be latter a good turn. Fine place for — bis mission. beetle-hunting suddenly remembering The following day Samela was still inmore about the old man's proclivities. visible, and Gibbs spent his whole time on

" I never heard of the place,” said the the river, fishing and communing with old man, staring across the table at Mar. himself. The water was as usual in order, tingale.

and there were plenty of fish up; a man • Where the wolves are,” said Johnoy, | had, as it were, only to put forth his hand trying to help him out of the difficulty. and take them. But even a clean-run, in"Wolves !" ejaculated the professor. experienced salmon will become uneasy

Long wolves, you know,” explained when the fly and all the casting line fall in Johnny.

a lump on to his nose; and the best gut “What do you mean by long wolves, will go if the whole force of a powerful sir?" demanded Mr. Prendergast. greenheart is used to rip it up from a ris.

“Faith, I don't quite know myself," ing fish. “ He was thinking he was fishing confessed the other. “Easier to shoot, I for a shairk, maist of the day,” said Archie suppose. Some one once complained of grimly on his return to the ion that night. rabbits being too short - eight inches too Gibbs lost fish and broke gut, and finally, short. Now, these wolves are of the long when trying furiously to Jash out an imbreed, they

possible line, got his hook fast in an alder Mr. Prendergast looked at Gibbs as behind him and broke the middle joint of much as to say: " You are responsible for his rod. Then he gave up his parapherthe introduction of this lunatic," and then nalia to the disgusted Archie, and slowly glared savagely at his vis-à-vis. But the sauntered home by himself. Out of chaos soldier sat with an imperturbable look on be had at last evolved order, and his mind his handsome face, twisting his mous- was made up. He would not make any tache, and quite unconscious of having attempt to woo Samela, not watch her said anything out of the way.

sketching, or ask her to tea; above all, Heré Gibbs interposed. “He's mixing not give her an opportunity of sitting and a lot of things up. You great owl,” he looking fascinating in his armchair. In said, glaring angrily at his friend, “what coming to this conclusion he was iniluare you talking about? There's no fish-enced by the facts, that he knew nothing ing in Oonalaska, and no beetles -and no about her and her father, that he could wolves, either,” he added in desperation. not afford to marry, and, finally, that he Then the conversation drifted in another was not at all sure that lie was in love direction, and, as soon as he could, Mr. with her. A good deal of what MarPrendergast made his escape.

tingale had said he knew to be nonsense; “ You played it rather rough on me, old but still, if a man will talk enough nonman,” said the soldier afterwards, “ about sepse some of it will find a home for itself, that place.”

especially if it is poured forth on a Sun“ The old boy was getting angry,” said day morning by a man, looking as wise as Gibbs, “and besides, what I said was true. Solomon and Rhadamanthus combined, There are no beetles in Oonalaska, I have perched on a gate-post. been looking up the authorities, it's too “Of course I will be perfectly pleasant cold for them.”

and courteous to her," thought Gibbs ; " Then you won't send your father-in“ but I'll take care it doesn't go beyond law there ?"

that; I am sure it is the right thing to “ I think not,” said Gibbs. We'll try do.” And having so determined his to find a warmer place for him.”

course he became cool and almost com“Well, old chap," said Martingale as he fortable again. got into the dogcart the next morning, " if Samela joined her father at dinner. Her I can be of any help to you I will. You paleness might be attributed to her indismay rely on me; but if you have a crisis position ; but was it due also to her headtry and have it on a Saturday. I can al. ache that she seemed disinclined to talk ways get away that day or Sunday ; but I to Gibbs, disinclined to laugh as she used believe that the fish run better about this to laugh, to inquire about his sport, and to part of the month, and it might be difficult ask what funny speeches Archie might

[ocr errors]

have inade that day? Had sbe, too, been | whiskey, and said it was a cold night in making up her mind ?

quite a friendly tone. Gibbs had been looking forward to quite “Can it be possible,” thought Gibbs, as another meeting than this. He had an- he abstractedly poured out for himself a ticipated some difficulty in gradually with very strong glass of Clynleish, "that this drawing the light of his countenance from ancient antiquarian knows his daughter's Miss Prendergast; he had thought it quite feelings, and is showing his compassion

, possible that his courage might be rather for me in this way!” And he looked with put to the test when he had to meet her the greatest abhorrence at the professor, pleasant smile with one just a little less who forth with began to give a disjointed pleasant, and show her, gently but firmly, account of his adventures on the hill that that he only looked upon her as a casual day. Night brought no comfort to Gibbs. acquaintance. It was only a strong con. He anticipated a sleepless one; but perfidence in his moral capabilities which haps his hard day's fishing in the high enabled him to prepare for the contest he wind, perhaps the agitation in his mind, expected. But now it was she who was perhaps even the glass of whiskey aforecool, she who seemed indifferent, she who said stood his friends. After tossing appeared resolved to treat him as she about in a restless way for twenty minutes might treat a gentleman, whom she had he dropped into a deep and dreamless met yesterday, and to-morrow was going sleep. to say good-bye to. Never a whit had The following day things were as they Gibbs calculated on all this; and when he had been, only worse. Samela avoided tried some small blandishments - for the him, and the day after they were no bet. strong, determined man was already beter. The only ray of light thrown on ginning to find the ground weak below Gibbs was from the corrugated counte. him, and his moral courage slowly oozing nance of the old professor, whose friend. out it was still the same, they had no ship seemed to increase every hour. Then effect at all.

Gibbs became unhappy, he lost half the Before dinner was half over Gibbs aban-fish he hooked, and he jumped upon Archie doned himself to gloomy forebodings. He in a way that made that worthy's hair forgot all about his good resolves - they stand on end. became to him as if they had never been “She's heuked him," the latter whis. - thin phantoms which had never really pered to Jane (he bad acquired somebow occupied his mind. He cast about for an exaggerated idea of his master's wealth some cause for this change. Had some and importance), “and now she's playiog bird of the air brought to her ears the him, and he's gey sick wi't, I can tell you; somewhat free conversation which had but whether he will stand the strain o't, I been carried on about herself and her par- canna say.Archie was nothing if not ent the day before? Had those sagacious cautious." I'd like fine to see you trying looking, black-faced sheep, or some roe that game on wi' me, Jean, ma lass !"and crouching in the fern close at hand, deliv. then the colloquy ended in the usual way. ered a message to her as the modern rep- Now it happened one night, after dress. resentative of their old mistress Diana ? ing for dinner, that Gibbs was going down No; he thought it was more likely that the passage, when, as he was passing Mr. Martingale was the cause. He was a fine Prendergast's room, he heard two words looking man; be was rich; moreover, his spoken in a low, passionate voice. They brother was a peer, and Johnny bore the were only two words — "I cannot;” but little prefix to his name which is some there was an intensity in the way Samela times supposed to carry weight with some uttered them which bit itself, as it were, girls. What a viper ! thought Gibbs; and into the brain of the hearer. Our fisberhow indecent of the girl to show her feel- man had felt little scruple when chance ings so soon!

put him in a position to listen for a mo. The dinner crawled along, and at last ment to Archie's plainly expressed opin. Samela rose, and with a little bow to ions, but he was no eavesdropper; be Gibbs left the room. And then another would have cut off his right hand sooner astonishing thing happened! The old than have stood to try to hear what fol. man became — not genial, for that was not lowed. He hurried down into the dining. perhaps in his nature, but — as little dis. room, marvelling what could cause be agreeable as he could manage to be. He somewhat proud and independent girl to pulled up his chair to the fire, asked Gibbs speak in such a fashion, – the borror and if he was not going to have a little more I despair in her voice rang in his ears still.

[ocr errors]

Mr. Prendergast soon followed, and an- | mand; so to suit the convenience of his nounced that his daughter was again too landlord he sent his portmanteau down unwell to come to dinner; then as had early in the day to the station, saying that been his babit lately he inquired with some he himself would walk. As he came down interest about his companion's sport, and ready for the journey and passed the door proceeded to give a long description of of the sitting-room, Mr. Prendergast and the difference which exists between a his daughter came out, the latter in her moth and a butterfly.

hat and jacket. After the old man had disappeared “I am sure," said the old man, “ that Gibbs put on a cape and went out down you will be kind enough to escort my the glen. It was a wild, wet night; the daughter so far as the post-office. I have water was running here and there over the a foreign telegram to send of great impor. road, and he had to splash through it; the tance which I cannot trust to a messenger wind howled over the unsheltered moor and some inquiries will have to be made and drove the rain smartly in his face ; about the place it is going to. I can't go but the turmoil suited his humor, and he myself owing to my sprain.”. (got on the was glad it was not calm and fine. For hill the previous day), “and Mr. Macdonhe saw now- he seemed to see plainly, ald tells me that a trap will be calling at and he wondered how before he could the post-office in an hour's time which have been so blind — that the piteous “I will bring her back.” cannot” referred to himself. That old Gibbs listened to this long harangue professor had no doubt been making in- without believing in it. It seemed to him quiries as to his — Gibbs's - means, had to be an obvious excuse for forcing on a found them satisfactory, and now discovo tête-à-tête walk between Samela and himered that the girl was the obstacle, and he self. If a telegram really had to be sent, was showing her that she would have to it could be sealed up, and the inquiry follow his judgment in the matter and not made by letter. He looked, while the her own wishes.

father was speaking, at the girl, and he Poor Gibbs! Never till that night had was greatly struck by the change in her his pride received so great a shock. He face and manner. She was very pale, and was not a man who in any way plumed seemed nervous and hesitating, as if she himself on his influence with women, he wished to say something and did not dare; had never in the smallest degree consid. a great contrast to the blithe lady of a ered himself to be a lady-killer; but so week ago. Gibbs looked inquiringly at far his acquaintance and experience with her, thinking she might make some excuse the gentler sex had been pleasant and herself, but she kept her eyes fixed on easy. He had made many friends among her father ; so he had no alternative but women, hardly, he thought, any enemies. to say that he should be only too happy to And now, without his having anything to be of any service; and then the two passed say in the matter, he was being thrust on out of the lighted room into the twilight an unwilling girl; how unwilling he was road. to some extent able to measure by the His first feeling was one of hot anger exceeding bitterness of the cry be had towards Mr. Prendergast. “What a heard. If spoken words have any signifi- brute he must really be,” he thought, “ to cance, then her feelings against him must force the girl to take this walk with me be strong indeed.

to-night when it is quite plain she doesn't The following morning Gibbs received want to come. How hateful it must be to a telegram, asking him to go that night to her!” A week ago he would have been Inverness. The affairs of a minor for delighted to have had the opportunity of whom he was a trustee were in a some-such a walk; he could have at any rate what complicated state ; it was a question chatted away in a natural manner and whether they ought not to be thrown into amused his companion; and now he the court of chancery, and the matter had racked his brains to think of commonto be decided one way or the other at once. places with which to pass the time. The London lawyer happened to be in But it was hard for him to think of such Scotland at the time, and so offered to things in the state of mind he was in. come as far as Inverness; indeed, was on For what had been at first mere admirahis way there when the message was sent, tion had grown into love; it had thriven and Gibbs felt there was no course open on opposition ; the more hopeless it had to him but to go there also.

seemed the more it had flourished, and There was a wedding in the strath the deeper it had struck into his heart. that day and all horses were in great de- | It gave a sore shock to his honest pride

[ocr errors]

to think that he should so soon have be- seemed to shake as a patient does in an come an object of aversion to the girl. ague-fit. Mingled with this feeling was one of in- “ Samela !” he cried again, frightened tense pity for his unwilling companion, at her intense agitation. But she could and he swore to himself that he would not speak, and the thought ran through his bite his tongue out before he would say brain that he had been ungenerous in takone word to her of what he felt.

ing advantage of her as he had done. Gibbs made some remark about the “ You will forgive me ?” he asked gennight, and then the two went on in silence. tly. “I will never offend you so again. I Daylight was gone, and the moon was did not know that you disliked me peeping up above the fir wood which cov- much." ered the hill in front of them. The air “Oh no! no! no!” cried the girl, and was warm and moist, and the larches and her wailing voice would have told him, if the primroses, which grew here close up there had been any need of telling, whose to the heather, made it sweet. It was cry it was he had heard in the room at the such a night as might well draw out the inn. “It is not that. Go on! go on! boldness of a shy lover or the eloquence You must go on! I must go back !” She of a silent one. Thousands such would be pointed forwards and then herself turned abroad at that time, in crowded cities and back. fresh country lanes; some in hope, some “ You cannot go back alone,” exclaimed in fear, some with happiness before them, Gibbs; “I must go with you. Nay,” he some, as he was, miserable. The man went on as she shook her head and quickcould hardly realize that only a few days ened her step, " I will not speak a word, before his greatest anxiety had been about but just walk behind you. You will trust the weather, his greatest trouble, a fish me to do that?” But still she waved him getting away. He had since then conjured off; he advanced towards her and then up for himself many vivid pictures of pos- she began to run. sible happiness. A week ago, if the real- * Good Heavens!” cried Gibbs in an ization of the brightest of them had been agony of despair, “what have I done to a matter for himself to decide, he would frighten her like this !” have hesitated to confirm it; and now, “Do not follow me!" she implored; some cold fate had cut the string on which “ I beg you!” Then John Gibbs stood he found too late his happiness had been still in the middle of the road and watched secured.

the shadowy figure till it was lost in the Samela answered his remarks with mon- blackness beyond. osyllables. He thought it was useless to Our fisherman was in a poor state to try to force on a conversation, and for a consider an intricate business matter the long time they walked on in silence; but next day. The lawyer wondered at his at last this silence became oppressive to absence oí mind, that such a one should him and almost unbearable. They had have been chosen for so important a trust. come to a woody bit of the road which lay But at last what had to be settled was setin deep shadow, the moonbeams not yet tled, and the afternoon found him hurry. being strong enough to force themselves ing back as fast as the Highland Railway through the firs. Here Samela stopped would carry him. He experienced in losuddenly. Gibbs thought she must have verness one of those minor calamities dropped something. "What is it?" he which are not very much in themselves, asked, going close to her. It is not often but which, when great misfortunes happen that one person can plainly hear the beat- to be absent, come and do their best to ing of another's heart; he heard it then. embitter our lives. In a word, be lost his A feeling of tenderness and sympathy bunch of keys and had to have his port. such as he had never known before came manteau cut open. The loss was to him over him, and without taking a thought inexplicable. He always carried them in of what he was doing — he put his arm his coat pocket, and he had felt them round her waist. “Samela !” he whis- there after leaving the inn, rattling agaiost pered.

bis pipe. Now, as may easily be imag. For one moment — for one moment ined, his mind was too heavily burdened and the remembrance of that short pas- with a real sorrow to give more than a sage of time will thrill him till he dies passing thought to this minor trouble. he believed that the pressure was re

Gibbs looked forward with great appre. turned. Then she started from his grasp, hension to his return to the ion. He and sprang from him half across the road; dreaded meeting Samela; he could not her breath came short and quick, and she imagine on what footing they could be

[ocr errors]

now; he thought that she must have re- The next day he fished, and came to a sented his conduct to her the more because resolution, which was to go south at once ; he was as it were her guardian that night; his month was nearly up, and he had lost perhaps she imagined that the whole affair all pleasure in the river. The landlord had been arranged between her father and understood something of the cause which himself. At all events he felt it would be lost him his guest, and indeed far and very difficult to know how to carry himself wide the gossips were at work. Accounts before her. And still, at the bottom of his varied, but all agreed that Gibbs had bebeart, the man had some kind of a feeling haved extremely badly and had lost his that all might come right yet.

bride. The landlord was waiting for him at the He had left some money in the big station, and as they drove up the glen was chest, and it was necessary to get it out. eloquent on the glory of the wedding It was then for the first time that he rewhich had taken place the previous day. membered the loss of his keys. He tried Such a feast! so many carriages ! so to pick the lock but failed, and Archie, many presents! and such a good-looking who was called in, had no greater success; bride!

so they had to force the lid. Gibbs put “How is the professor's foot ?" asked the money in his pocket, and then stood Gibbs, who could take no interest in gazing at the little collection of volumes brides that day, and was anxious to find out which had given him so much pleasure ; if the landlord had noticed anything wrong. now it pained him to look at them.

" There's no muckle the matter with his Of a sudden he saw something which foot, I'm thinking,” replied the landlord ; made him start, and for a moment disbe. “at any rate he's gone."

lieve the sight of his eyes. There, on the “ Gone !” cried Gibbs.

top of a book, lay his bunch of keys, the Ay,” replied the landlord, “ he is that. keys which he had had in his hand the He went off in a great hurry to catch the night he walked down to the station! He first train this morning.”

picked them up and examined them, as if “And his daughter, is she gone?” they could tell him something themselves. gasped Gibbs.

They were quite bright and fresh. By "Gone too,” answered the driver cheer- what legerdemain or diablerie had those fully, evidently enjoying the sensation he keys found a resting-place there? It was was causing “ Indeed, I understand it an unfathomable mystery — a mystery was on her account they went; he told me which it seemed to him could never be that she was not well, and that she must explained. see a London doctor at once.'

And as

Abstractedly he took up the calf binding, the worthy man said this he turned round remembering as he did so whose hands and looked hard at his companion. had touched it last. It seemed strangely

This intelligence was a terrible blow to light; he quickly opened it, and then as Gibbs. How gladly now would he have quickly let it fall — the quarto was gone! gone through the meeting he had dreaded so much! Gone without a word for him ! Some five years after the events we have He might have explained things somehow. been at so much pains to relate, John What must she have thought of him? Gibbs was sitting alone in the reading. What had she told her father? Of course room of a northern county club; he was the illness was a blind. He thought it just putting down the Times, when the possible that there might be a note left heading of a paragraph in a corner caught for him, from the professor; he did not his eye. It was as follows: expect anything from Samela — but there “High PRICES FOR BOOKS IN AMERwas nothing.

ICA. -On Friday last the library of the late The place looked sadly deserted and John Palmer of New York was disposed of lonely. He could not fish that evening; by public auction. This collection was he went to the rock where Samela had especially rich in early works relating to made her sketch and stared long at the America, in histories of the English coun. pool; then he went back to the house and ties, and in early dramatic works. Mr. took out her handiwork; he felt some Palmer was well known for his enterprise queer sort of satisfaction in touching and energy. In company with his daugh. things that she had touched. So short a ter, and travelling often under assumed time had passed since her joyous pres- names, he searched all over Europe for ence had lighted up, that room ; how dif- rare books; no journey was too long for ferent it seemed then! He could not him, or price too high, if anything he bear the sight of his books.

wished to add to his collection had to be

« ElőzőTovább »