Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER XLVII.

LOVE TROUBLES.

[ocr errors]

not jealous. Perhaps in his wild mood he rather wished she would “run away” from bim. He was sick of her, of debt, of life, of

everything but the thoughts of Gertrude. HERE, then, once more was Craigievar! He could not trouble his head about his And here was Eusebia, a beauty beginning Spanish wife. Strange to say, the very fast to fade and harden, and much too calm that surrounded Gertrude had a charm sbrewd and clever, and dependent on that for him. That calm, the very essence of beauty for her enjoyment of life, not to be which was home, and peace and purity quite aware of the fact. Restless, discon- that calm which, if it were within the tented, disappointed, gnawing her own bounds of possibility he should ever be lisheart at times for very wrath at her mar- tened to, must depart for ever! riage, in which, as she considered, there had Gertrude meanwhile struggled with a been so much deception as to Kenneth's posi- certain feeling of embarrassment in his tion and fortune; and in which, as he con- presence. She cast about how, as Lady sidered, there had been yet greater decep-Clochnaben had expressed it, to "get rid tion as to her age, and certain circum- of him” without dealing too harshly by a stances which had caused demands for her half-ruined man; she had become fully hand in marriage to be so little pressed as aware of, and alarmed by, the indiscretion to leave her still free, when he chanced to (if it were nothing more) of Eusebia's concome to Granada to recover health and spir- duct. Once once only — tenderly and its after his fever in Spain.

timidly, she had attempted to warn her. Craigievar at first saw Eusebia with They had been such friends! She had more curiosity than interest, as a woman he been so fond of Eusebia ! remembered to have once passionately ad- They were in the dressing-room of the mired. Then each thought of the other latter: who had come in late from the lake with that strange fictitious emotion emo- with Craigievar, and had been making a tion at least which has nothing personally toilette more hurried than was her wont. to do with the object that causes it wbich She was clasping in one of her earrings most of us feel at sudden meetings with while Gertrude spoke; she turned, still those who date our lives. Eusebia saw with clasping it, with one of those sudden gracea sudden rush the lake, the decorated but, ful movements, that tossed her veils and the early married days when as yet, though fringes round her like dark billows -a devain and coquettish with all, she still pre- mon Venus rising from inky waves. Her ferred Kenneth; and Craigievar the days beautiful flashing eyes fixed on the speaker when, still a youth and a bachelor, he had full in the face; a scornful smile trembled not laid bis fair white rose of a wife in on her short upper lip, and showed the still the grave, with her cold little bud beside white and even teeth beneath: her cheeks her.

alone looked a little haggard and fallen He saw with obvious tenderness pale lit- under the crimson rouge. She laughed. tle Effie, Eusebia's only child. He too had “Ha ! you take my husband ! you want dreamed he was a father, and woke next now perhaps to take my adorateur, my morning alone. He thought more of Effie amigo! Be content with your portion ! at first than of her mother. Then he per- Do not trouble me. I have already enough ceived how: unhappy and angry was the sore in my heart.” woman be reinembered an exultant bride And as the long pendant clasped with a with ber husband madly “in love” with snap, she made another rapid volte-face to her, and all London at her feet; and some- her mirror, and ceased to speak, contemthing kindlier stole in on his thoughts of plating fixedly her own image, with someher. But why count the steps of the lad- thing of sadness mixed with her fierceness der by which such thoughts climb into mist that gradually, vanished, and left her lookseeking better sunshine ? Older than Ken- ing — as she intended to look when they neth, much older than Craigievar, Eusebia should go down-stairs to dinner. added to all her experience of life special

Gertrude almost shu dered as she took experience of men, and the old empire was Kenneth's arm that day to pass to that faresumed, and the old songs sung, and boats miliar meal, and started more than once went out on the lake to the hut and re- when addressed by others. She was ruturned without Kenneth ; and Kenneth minating how “ to get rid of him.” And not only was not missed but purposely elud- how also to get rid of — Eusebia, and ed !

the fearful future that seemed to threaten He took it strangely; he was stung, but for both !

[graphic]

ALICE MAKES SOME DISCOVERIES.

That night Kenneth wrote to Gertrude, as wild a letter as ever was written by an unprincipled man to a woman he was enamoured of. To say the woman he “loved" would be to profane the word. WHAT were Alice's green-grey, eyes

And Gertrude answered him. She al- made for, if not to watch ? Does not the cat luded boldly and clearly to all the past. sit apparently watching for ever ? — watchShe inclosed a copy of the little note of ing for what we know not. Even where farewell which Lorimer Boyd had taken there is no chance of mousing, in the broad to him when it was agreed he should leave day, do we not see her with fixed attention Naples. She spoke of the faith sworn to in her half-closed, diamond-shaped orbits, her husband at the altar; and even if such scanning things afar off, near at hand, vows had never existed, of her unalterable, above and below, ready to pounce on a passionate, adoring love for his uncle. In leaf that flutters down from a tree, a ball conclusion came a prayer to halt and con- of worsted that rolls from old nurse's lap, sider, to save himself and Eusebia from the tail of a boy's broken kite, or a young certain misery; and the information that bird fallen from the nest in too easy essay she intended to go to Edinburgh the follow- of its callow wings: ready to pounce, ever ing day, and remain there a night, hoping the watch? So also was Alice. he would see the decency, the necessity of All had their plans for that day. Kenwithdrawing from Glenrossie before her re- neth had hoped — had meant to see turn, no longer mocking the hospitality he Gertrude. Sir Douglas had made up his received, or paining her by his presence. mind to speak to his nephew, and urge

him Otherwise the day must come- must to return to Spain. Eusebia intended to come when she should confess this torment spend the day at the Hut (not unaccomto her husband, to her Douglas faithful and panied); and Alice herself was preparing a true, and cast herself on his counsel only, little basket of provisions for a blind and having done her best through grief and dying beggar lodged in a cabin between pain to avoid making any breach between Glenrossie and Clochnaben, recommended him and his uncle, and finding all in to her by the clergyman who had been vain.

called to administer the offices of religion She could not trust such a letter to in- and what help he could afford. different bands. She gave it to him as But Alice had an instinct that something they passed from the breakfast-room. The had occurred more than common. She had carriage was already waiting to take her seen Kenneth give his letter after dinner; away. As Sir Douglas handed her in, he she saw Gertrude give the reply after said with wistful anxiety, “ I am afraid breakfast. While Gertrude was departing, your chief business in Edinburgh is to see she saw Kenneth step out on the terrace Doctor R You have been looking so from the breakfast-room, and turn towards ill lately."

the shrubbery, reading as he went. She Gertrude wrung the tender hand she saw him stop tear the letter with his held, and tried to smile her farewell. Her teeth, stamp it into the earth, and give way boy Neil stood beside her husband, his fath- to the wildest gesticulations. She saw Sir er's hand on his sturdy shoulder, smiling Douglas return from putting Gertrude into with radiant young eyes in the morning the carriage, and cross the lawn as if to

speak to Kenneth. She saw the latter ad“God bless them both, and send me peace vance to meet him casting one hurried look with them once more," was Gertrude's behind where he had crushed the letter prayer, as she leaned back wearily in the with his foot. Swiftly, noiselessly, she decarriage, the long fir-branches from time to scended also to the garden. She was in time sweeping against its roof, and drop- time to hear Sir Douglas say, " Kenneth, I ping a stray cone here and there by the wish to speak with you ;” and to hear the road that led through the noble avenue. latter reply, “ Not now, I can't ; I am going and perfect mate! Dear, handsome boy, must be there by noon.” She was in time, so like her one love of life — her un- though Kenneth turned quickly after he equalled Douglas ! God bless them, and had seen Sir Douglas re-enter the house, to send her peace. Amen.

scramble together the torn papers he had ground down with his heel, and one fluttering bit that was rustling along the hedge of holly, and beat a rapid retreat with that

a

sun.

[ocr errors]

pear.

treasure-trove in her hand. She saw Ken- its outspread surface. Then she sat long, neth return to the spot, search, look up as in mute, half-frowning, half-scanning conthough he thought the wind might have sideration; and then she jumped up with a carried the fragments away, pick off the suddenness that Eusebia herself could scarce... holly-bedge just such another morsel as that ly bave rivalled, and crushed all the

paper she beld, and tear into smaller pieces, together in her hands with a wild laugh. which he scattered on the air, and then, Then once more she smoothed them out, pale and moody, turn to the house: She rolled them neatly together, shut the escrilocked herself into her turret-chamber and toire, made a mocking curtsey to the empty read with greedy eyes that seemed to eat chair in which Gertrude habitually sat; the very words. She looked from that said aloud, in a mocking voice “ Adieu, mihigh window, and saw both Kenneth and lady!” and left the morning-room once more Sir Douglas, at different intervals, take the to its bright silence unbroken to-day, even by direction of Torrieburn, and little sturdy the boom of the bee, or the outside twitter Neil go forth with his own dog and gun, of the birds; the windows being all closed, and the careful old keeper.

and everything marking the absence of Glenróssie was empty of its inhabitants. that sweet mistress whose happiest hours She too could go out: could go and see the were passed there. blind and dying man. Yes, but first she Then Alice went forth on her mission of would see — would ascertain — would pay charity, and visited the dying beggar. Her a little visit of inspection nearer home. visit was prolonged till the day began to

She was going to Gertrude's bright morn- wane, for death at times seemed very ing-room.

When the clergyman arrived, Alice It was very bright and still. There was was still there, and the man had rallied. no chance of interruption. Gertrude's He spoke feebly of trying to reach his namaid had accompanied her lady; so had tive village, and of dying there. Alice rose Lady Charlotte ; but even had there been and prepared to leave him.

6 I will come such a chance, Alice would have easily again if I can to-morrow,” she said, in herquifound some plausible excuse. Was she not et one; and looking up in the clergyman's working the corresponding portière to that face, as she rolled some papers together," I which suggested such visions of Pluto's bad have been reading him something I copied,” conduct to Gertrude's mother ?

she said, “ I thank you for sending to me With gleaming, half-shut eyes, she scanned about him.” all the objects round, and 'rested them at With those words, and a little gentle bow, last on a little French escritoire, set with and tranquil shake of the hand to the minisplaques of old Sévres china. It was locked ter, she departed, leaving that good old suc

- but what was that to Alice ? She had cessor of Mr. Heaton gazing after her slena great variety of keys; and French escri- der figure with unmixed approbation of her toires are not protected by either Chubbs or

conduct. Bramahs. Nor was she trying this lock for But, indeed, it's not to be marvelled at, the first time — though beyond reading in a sister of gude Sir Douglas," was his halfLorimer's account of Mr. Frere, she had uttered sentence, as he turned back into the never hitherto found anything to reward dim cabin, and sat down by the box-bed, her trouble in opening it. Now she felt in the groping depths of which lay the sick sure she would be more fortunate. And man. the event proved the correctness of her ex- The little light that entered from the open pectations. The papers had been some- door gleamed rather on the

framework of the what hastily thrust back the night before bed, than on the bed itself; except on the and peeping out from the balf-doubled blot-outer edge, where, white and blanched, on ting-book, as though absolutly, offering the ragged, green tartan quilt, lay the helpitself for inspection, was the insolent, wild, less and attenuated hand of the sufferer. loving letter of Kenneth's, and the rough The good minister lifted that hand with copy, (if rough copy, that can be called some kindly, encouraging word ; as he did which had so few verbal corrections, and so so, he remarked a deep indented scar becompletely conveyed the sentiments of the yond the knuckles. “ Ye'll have been hurt writer) of the torn and gravel-stained an- there, some time, puir bodie,” he observed, swer, with which his blind rage had dealt compassionately." • 80 bardly in the garden.

The sick man moaned, and answered Alice nearly danced for joy! She laid faintly, “We'll no murmur at trouble the the

paper flat, compared it with the other, Lord sends. I was chased in Edinburgh by and gave little strange, triumphant pats to some laddies, and when I was nigh fallin', 'I

[ocr errors]
[graphic]

A SCENE WITH KENNETH.

caught by a railing, and the spike just wan' | It is repugnant to me to live with you on into me! It was a sair burt; but I've had other terms than those of the most loving mony blessins, tho' I'm cauld now to my very cordiality and freedom from restraint

. marrow."

That cordiality — that free affection ” — Sir And so saying, the blind man slowly and Douglas's voice broke a little — " cannot tremblingly drew in his hand, under the exist as it did — It may return, Kenneth dark tartan coverlid, and lay still and ap- God grant it may! — but feeling as I do, and parently exhausted.

knowing what I do, there is change enough to make me wish for a further change, and

that is ” CAPTER XLIX.

“ Pray go on, my dear uncle, go on, old fellow ! Don't mind me!”

Kenneth was rapidly becoming more and

more intoxicated. SIR DOUGLAS had made up his mind “That change is that we shall part, Kenafter long reveries, that Kenneth should neth, at all events for the present. I have leave Glenrossie.' Gertrude had not spoken loved you, in spite of all your faults; I will to him on the subject. He dared scarcely endeavour to assist you to the last, in spite argue the mattter openly to his own soul, of all your imprudences; but I will not live far less to her, but he was not the less re- with you in the same home, because " solved.

“D-n it, speak out, and say you want to They met then at Torrieburn. Kenneth part me and Gertrude, and have done with had shot some birds on his way, and was car- it. Afraid of me, eh? a little late in the day, rying bis

gun with a listless, gloomy brow, as uncle, a little late”. if there were no pleasure left in that or any- A drunken, hollow laugh followed this thing else for him. He bad also obviouslv speech. taken repeated draughts from the fask of Sir Douglas rose, trembling with supresswhisky, he carried at his belt; and the dulled passion. glare which Sir Douglas loathed to see in “Kenneth,” he said, “ do not break all the his eyes was already perceptible there, links that bind us together. However conthough it was a little past noon.

fused habitual excess may make your intelThey sat down on some felled timber, and lect, however little place love, and - I will Sir Douglas went straight to his point. not call it gratitude - love and memory of

" Kenneth,” he said, "I have resolved to what we have been to each other may hold speak to you about leaving Glenrossie. A in your heart, respect the purity of others! great deal has come to my knowledge since Respect the spotless name of my wife. Betfirst you and Eusebia made your home with ter men than you have loved in vain, and us, which, had I known it at first would borne it, and stood faithfully by a second perhaps have prevented my ever proposing choice. Parted ! ” continued he, almost to you to come.”

as vehemently as Kenneth himself ; "you Kenneth drew a long draught from the were parted before we ever were united; whisky-flask, and, in a thick angry voice, he Parted, boy! Gertrude and I are one soul, muttered, “ Has Gertrude — has your wife and you part now with us both, till — if - been complaining of me to you?ever the day come in your perverse heart –

No, she bas always taken your part- you can reason and repent.” always endeavored to explain away or con- So sternly — in all their many discussions ceal differences between you and Eusebia, - had loving Sir Douglas never spoken to as well as those events which — which per- his nephew before. Never to that spoiled haps ” and here Sir Douglas hesitated, and indulged idol ! - which, most assuredly, I had better have It maddened Kenneth. What little reaknown at the time they took place.” soning power increasing irritation and in

Again Kenneth had recourse to the flask, creasing intoxication had left him, seemed and said, with a bitter laugh, " It was not I, to forsake his brain in a flash of hot lightat least, who kept you in ignorance of ning. He looked up, cowering and yet them.”

frenzied, from the felled tree where he sat, Sir Douglas felt the blood flush to his to the stately form with folded arms and intemples; he strove to be calm.

dignant commanding countenance above "No, Kenneth; it was not you. I cannot him. He leaned one arm on the lopped doubt, however, that they were kept from branch to steady himself, and answered. me for a good motive. We cannot undo the swaying from side to side, speaking thickly, past; what I have to think of is the future. I hurriedly; with an idoit's laugh and an

[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

idiot's fierceness. “ Pure,” he said, “pure ! There was a dreary pause after that burst Oh yes, pure and spotless; they are all of anguish, and then Sir Douglas spoke pure and spotless till they're found out! I again. loved in vain, did I? Talk of my vanity : “ Come no more to Glenrossie. Stay where what is my vanity to yours, you old cox you are. Eusebia shall join you. When I comb? Parted! You can't part us. I told can think further of this day, and more you at Naples, and I tell you now, that she calmly, you shall hear from me. Farewell loved meme — ME! and nothing but fear Kenneth ! holds her to you. I'll stay here, if it's only The stately vision seemed to hold its band to breathe the same air. Parted ! Part from out in token of amicable parting, as Kenher yourself -tyrant and traitor! Part from neth raised his bloodshot, stupefied eyes. her for ever, and be sure if I don't marry He did not take the hand; it seemed too your widow, no other man shall !

far off, reaching from some better world. He He staggered suddenly to his feet, level- crouched down again, laying his head prone led his gun full at Sir Douglas as he stood, with hidden face on the rough resinous bark and fired.

of the lopped tree. Something for a moment In the very act he stumbled, and fell on pressed gently on the tangled curls of his one knee; the charge went low and slant- burning head, and passed away and left ed: part of it struck Sir Douglas on the left only the breath of heaven waving through hand, and drew blood.

them ; and as it passed, a sound, as of a The shock seemed to sober Kenneth for heavy human sigh, melted also on his ear. a moment. A gloomy sort of horror spread A fancy haunted Kenneth that the hand over his face. Then the idiot laugh re- of Sir Douglas had laid for that moment on turned.

his head, as it had laid many a day in his "I haven't, haven't killed you. You're boyhood and youth, and that the sigh was winged though, winged ! Stand back! his also. But these might be but dreams. Don't tempt me," added he, with returning All that was real, was the utter loneliness, ferocity.

- when, after a long drunken slumber, he Sir Douglas lifted the gun and flung it woke and saw the sun declining, and heard out of reach : then he spoke, binding his the distant music of Torrieburn Falls, mohandkerchief round his hand.

notonously sweet — and the clear

song

of "You have not killed me. Go home, and the wooing thrush, and looked languidly thank God for that. You have not made my towards the house of Torrieburn, with its son suddenly an orphan — as you were when half-bidden gables, gleaming through the first I took you to my heart. Oh! my boy, trees; and the words came back to him my Kenneth! what demon spell is on your clearly and distinctly, .66 Come no more to life? Pray to God ! PRAY\' and with the Glenrossie. Stay where you are. Eusebia last broken words, a bitter cry, ending al- shall join you. Farewell, Kenneth ?”. most in an agonised sob, went up to hea- Was it all a black dream ? A black, ven, and resounded in the dull ear of the drunken, delirious dream ? drunken man. Many a day afterwards, and

No. many a night in dreams, Kenneth saw that Somehow, suddenly Kenneth thought of pale, sorrowful, commanding face, and the his mother. For a 'man knows, if no one stately form erect over his grovelling drunk- else on earth pities him, his MOTHER pities kenness, as he held by the branch of the still ! felled pine, vainly trying to steady himself The drunken head bowed once more over and rise from the hall-kneeling, half-leaning the fallen tree, and half-murmured the word, postare into which he had fallen. Many a “Poor Maggie!” What easy showers of lonely day in the sough of the wind in those kisses and tears would have answered, if she Scottish woods, be heard again the echo of had known it! But Maggie was away, that “exceeding bitter cry," wrung from “ayont the bills,” – swelling with her own the anguish of a noble soul, and making share of sorrowful indignation at Kenneth's vain appeal to his better nature.

conduct, and trying vainly to reconcile the God gives us moments in our lives when old miller and his rheumatic wife to their all might change. If he could have repento new abode. ed then ! If he could have repented!

“Cauld and strange !”

“ Cauld and Many a day he thought of it when Sir strange !" was all that rewarded her efDouglas was no longer there, and he could forts. see bis face no more.

[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »