stop and eat her kail. “Nae, nae!” she said; “I dinna ken to behave at great folks' table.” “Oh, never mind!” said the minister, “ only you just do as you see we do." This seemed very simple, and good, and natural advice. So Margaret sat down at table; the minister was old, his hand shook, for he had been visited by a stroke of palsy. In conveying the spoon from the dish to his mouth, his arm being unsteady, was apt to spill; to prevent it from going on his clothes, it was his habit, old-world like, to tie one end of the table-cloth to the top of his waistcoat, just under his chin. Margaret's keen eye took in this, so she pinned the other end of the table-cloth to a strong homespun shawl, under her chin. She watched every move. It was a time when condiments were not much known in farm-houses among the hills. The minister deposited a quantity of mustard on the side of his plate. Margaret, not exactly measuring the proportion the minister had taken, conveyed a spoonful of mustard to her mouth. It soon began to operate. She had never seen mustard, and knew not what it meant, only it seemed to her that she was bewitched. She was crazy with pain; to spit upon the carpet would have been indeed a sin. At this moment the girl Janet opened the door, bringing in some clean plates. The unhappy woman at once sprang up, upset the girl, plates and all, swept the table of its contents, upset the minister too; the crash of the battle behind her added speed to her flight as to a retreating warrior; she was pulling the minister after her, who had been fast at the other end of the table; he was drawn on until the pins gave way, and then away flew Margaret, a pretty story to tell when she got that night to her farm among the hills. The minister received no more donations of eggs. I have no doubt had you quoted to her our proverb, “ God sends meat, but the devil sends cooks," it would have received a very warm assent. But a whole troop of proverbs remain behind, and yet to quote, concerning this continent of meat and drink upon which we have entered.


BY MAGGIE SYMINGTON. CHAPTER VI.-WRITTEN BY PANSIE TREVOR. We were out all the day following that upon which we arrived at Lucerne, enjoying the fresh air and the glorious mountain views in the environs of the lake. Papa once spent some time in this neighbourhood in his bachelor days, and used to indulge in daily boatings on the water.

How delightful! Violet and I have been wishing for a boat all day; but mamma, I am afraid, would never venture in one, she has a great terror of being overtaken by a Vent d'Italie when out on the water.

Mamma is fatigued, and will dine in her own room to-day. Violet and I are going to the table d'hôte with papa. Violet has just left me. We have been discussing the knotty question as to what we shall wear. Violet need not have made so important a matter of it, as I fancy there are very few people here. Mad’line says the hotel is almost empty.

The evening has not been so dull as we imagined it would be. Now that I am retired to my own room, I am going to chronicle its events just as they occurred.

There is a moon to-night. I draw my writing-table into a corner so that the light from my bougie shall not fall upon the window, and draw up the blind.

White crests of moonshine crown the mountain summits, and silver the dark pines. How lovely everything appears !

But to my task, or my eyes will be heavy with sleep ere it is finished. Yet it is because sleep seems so far from them that I am reversing my usual practice, and writing at night instead of in the morning.

At the dinner hour Violet and I descended the broad staircase, one of us on either arm of papa's. We were dressed both alike in evening dresses of blue silk, with mantillas of white lace thrown across our shoulders.

Mad’line was right, the table d'hôte was but sparsely attended. Instantaneously we recognised two of the guests as the gentlemen who yesterday rendered us so kindly a service at the little auberge.

The recognition was mutual; but they did not seem so surprised by it as we were. Papa and they were as much at home in a few minutes as though they were acquaintances of long standing; but people do fraternise more quickly when they meet abroad than they do in England. I am convinced that my dear Violet has made a conquest. The dark gentleman, whose name is De l'Orme, repeated the stare that angered me so yesterday. When he catches Violet's eyes or mine, he certainly withdraws his, and I ought perhaps to qualify the word I have used. It is not a bold stare, neither is it a stare respectful, it is as though he were constrained to give it by some powerful attraction her beauty wields; and yet there is more than that in it, for there is something about it I do not like. I wish he would not follow Violet so persistently with his eyes. What a different countenance his friend Lord Haig has—a face that at once wins my confidence, for I feel certain that it is an index to a noble heart. There is something both frank and winsome in his bearing. Violet does not admire him so much as she does Mr. De l'Orme; but then in some respect she has a much more romantic imagination than I have, and likes to be at once awed and mystified. I do not. I like the open, honest palm that one does not fear to lay one's hand within; the steady, earnest gaze that meets one's own, and that one feels instinctively has nothing to conceal; and a speech that has the ring of truth in its tones, and is free from bitterness.

When we left the table we threw shawls around us, and strolled out into the verandah with papa and our new acquaintances. I had papa's arm, Lord Haig walked on the other side of him as they continued their conversation; Violet lingered a little in the rear with Mr. De l’Orme. Papa paused near the end of the verandah.

“ It seems but the other day since I was here, a gay young bachelor, with a party of equally light-hearted bachelor friends. We had lodgings at Brunen, on the other side of the lake yonder, in a large old château pulled down long ago doubtless. We could only get empty rooms, which we had to furnish for ourselves after a fashion of our own, and were put to some of the greatest straits, even for some of what we had been taught to consider the necessaries of life; added to which the natives then spoke a barbarous kind of German there was no comprehending, nor was there hardly a person who could understand our French. But it was fine fun notwithstanding all the shifts we were put to. We had a little skiff upon the water, and we occupied our time chiefly when on board, German student fashion, in smoking and reading. When I look upon the old familiar scenes I can recall even the favourite passages in the books I was perusing." Then papa quoted

" " And like a dying lady, lean and pale,

Who totters forth, wrapt in a gauzy veil,
Out of her chamber, led by the insane
And feeble wanderings of her fading brain,
The moon arose upon the murky earth

A white and shapeless mass.'“ It is hardly a happy thought to compare our fair, round, lovely moon to a 'dying lady, lean and pale,' or to term her a shapeless mass,' ” said Lord Haig, raising his boyish face to the grand luminary of the night; then he slightly inclined his head towards me.

""On the mountains brown
The cold round moon shines deeply down;
Blue roll the waters, blue the sky
Spreads like an ocean hung on high,
Bespangled with those isles of light,
So wildly, spiritually bright;

Whoever gazed upon them shining
And turned to earth without repining,
Nor wished for wings to flee away

And mix with their eternal ray?'
Do you not feel the cold, Pansie?”
It was papa who put the question.
“No, papa, not in the least.”

Papa moved away, walking to and fro to warm himself, and finally went indoors for his overcoat. Lord Haig exclaimed eagerly, but with something so frank and boyish in his manner that made it impossible for me to consider he had taken a liberty in so doing

“ Pansie! Is that your name?”

“ Yes, I am always called by that name; but it is only a fanciful one of mamma's bestowing. I do not suppose I shall ever be called by any other; I do not even know what my rightful one is.”

“You need not wish to be called anything else. Nothing can be prettier than ‘Pansie,' and it seems to suit you so well.”

“ My sister's name is Violet. And that is another fancy of mamma's. I do not know whether she has another. I asked mamma once, and she said it was quite sufficient for me, and every one else, to know that the Violet and the Pansie are sister flowers.”

“And so your floral names have a gentle mystery, thrown like a silver veil about them, to render them doubly enchanting.”

"I never regarded it as a mystery ; I always have such perfect confidence in mamma, and in whatever she does and says, that I never think of questioning anything she states for my acceptance.”

Lord Haig sighed and turned his face partly from me in the moonlight. Had my words touched any sad chord in his heart that such a look of sadness swept over his face? It was impossible for me to see such an expression upon any one's face as that the moonlight revealed upon his without being impelled to say something that would relieve it.

For an instant I forgot that he was a stranger, that we had never met until yesterday. There are some people one feels to know so quickly, and others again one might spend a lifetime with, and they would still remain sealed books.

I drew a step nearer to him. I looked into his clouded face. “I am sorry if I have said anything to cause you pain.”

“You, Miss Trevor?—you give me pain? Oh, no! I have felt nothing but delight since I met you."

The simple earnestness of his words caused my heart to bound with joy.

“But you looked very sad only a minute ago.”

He hesitated a moment, then turned towards me, and laid one of his slender, nervous white hands down upon the one of mine that rested upon the balustrade.

I will tell you what caused my sadness if you care to listen.”

I bent my head, and my eyes fell to the slender hand under whose soft palm mine lay. He took this, as I intended he should, as an intimation of my desire to listen, and continued

A year ago I lost both my parents suddenly by death under distressing circumstances. I cannot describe to you what an effect this sudden bereavement had upon me; it was a delirium of agony, nothing less. I was their only child, their darling, their first thought and consideration from the hour of my birth. I looked up to them with a love and reverence nothing short of idolatry. When they spoke to me of God I believed His love could not exceed theirs; when they spoke to me of worship I could only glorify my Maker through them.”

Lord Haig was deeply moved while he spoke thus; he trembled from head to foot, and his face was white in the moonlight.

“The paroxysm of despair gave place to a deep and settled melancholy. Doctors and friends strove to arouse me from it, but in vain; then the former ordered me away for change. It was like tearing out my heart anew to bid me leave Craigdallie and the scenes they had loved. Every familiar object in my dear Scottish mountain home spoke to me of them, and the only consolation I had was in listening. I obeyed my advisers at length, because health and mind were alike beginning to suffer under such heavy strain. Change of scene has helped me in part to conquer that anguish ; but sometimes, as just now, a chance word will open those wounds afresh. I was reminded by what you said of all I have lost.”

His confession moved me to a great pity for him. Might I not comfort, though I had never felt the agony he described ? but I spoke my words timidly, fearing he should think me incapable of comprehending.

“The ties loosened on earth are reunited in heaven. I sometimes think, when our dear ones leave us, we can have no greater consolation than the remembrance of this. When our clinging affections are detached here it is that they may soar the higher ; that those whom we love only precede us for a little while to that land where there are no partings and no tears; and the thought of them awaiting us on the other side will make our passage of the dark stream lighter."

Lord Haig carried my hand impulsively to his lips—an act that made me start and crimson in the moonlight, though now, when I look back upon it, I am certain that to him it was only a simple expression of gratitude. It ought not to have caused me one flush of resentment or shame; only the girlish vanity that I possess in common with others of my age and sex could misinterpret it as the

« ElőzőTovább »