Oldalképek
PDF
ePub
[graphic]
[ocr errors]

a

fused, in an indignant outburst of French, to possess a mutch of that delicate manufacan unknown tongue to Effie, and almost as ture which her woman's eye convinced her a suspicious as the original object of discord, duchess might have owned. Mise: Christy to relinquish her relic. George Forbes was Cranstoun washed her ruffles with her own appealed to, but after listening to a few of hands in her sweet pot, but her roses and Effie's querulous sentences he turned on his scallops and fairy tracery were nothing to the heel; here she could gain no victory: in his intricate work maneuvred by these small opinion Janet was a fool to cherish a slip of bobbins and dexterous hands. From that wood; but Effie was also a fool to make time Janet labored continuously, sometimes “words” on so idle a matter. His impassi- at lace, sometimes at silk embroidery, which bility was proof against fanaticism.

Effie disposed of, through her own superior The other act of rebellion was Janet's de- acquaintances, or those of her niece, unscruclining, by most uncompromising speech and pulously retaining the profits. The wholegesture, to adopt such a dress a Effie's. She some effect of labor soon became apparent had a threadbare black velvet dress in her even in this untoward case ; the whiteness mother's wardrobe, and this she assumed as passed from Janet's cheek, the fixedness from most befitting her sad fortunes; and with her her eye. When people ceased to make her dark hair turned back and wreathed like a a gazing-stock, she carried her work to the coronet, she had something of the look of a stair-head-similar resorts were popular queen even in her wretched surroundings. down the whole line of the street—and would George Forbes was not sufficiently observant gaze curiously on the traffic and huckstering to note the discrepancy; or his eye soon and frequent commotion below. Passers-by grew accustomed to it: Effie, so lately foiled, glancing up were startled by the apparition was too wary to venture on another direct at of the quaint and rich dress, the novel and tack to compass her end ; but be sure. Janet peculiar bloom of the young worker, the apdid not lose an enemy by her resistance, and plication, or idle speculation of her attitude, her melancholy dignity.

But spectators were not so impressed as they For one whole month, wliile May was would have been at a later and smoother merging into June, Janet sat a dumb, mo- period; for these days engulfed most men in tionless, Vandyke-like statue, queer and pa- their own affairs, or presented to them many thetic, in her littered, noisy, and ill-flavored a singular inconsistency and broad contrast. prison : but flesh and blood could do no Sometimes Janet chanted to herself her more; she came one day, with a fragment of Latin hymns, sometimes she signalled to her spider-like lace hanging over her slender little brothers, and strove to establish an infingers, to Effie, peeling potatoes and rocking termediate language, something between her the cradle.

halting English and their lisping Scotch“I worked so in France,” she said ; “Eng- for Janet had, with natural instinctive goodlish ladies came and bought; I work again ness, paassed the gulf between herself and and give it to you, and you sell it, you know the little ones, and tried to make them her the people, and you keep the money." friends; and though they struggled from her

“O! very well, Jenny; I'll be blithe to see hold, dabbled her hands and her gown, enyou commence, for to my mind you must be tangled her thread, shouted at her, charged bursting, keeping your hands over each her with sticks and stones, and resisted furiother; and I may find customers, for I'm ously when she went so far as to try to wash well kent, and no that ill-liked; there is the their encrusted skins, they yet laughed at Provost's lady; and Miss Christy Cranstoun, her droll gestures and looks, and hid behind up in Edinburgh, that my niece serves; and her, and once or twice fell asleep against her Lady Semple in the same close; and it is a knee. Then, the engrained faces were no fine lady-work, and will not fyle your fingers longer ugly, and the vagabond habits were like sic jobs as mine. Sirs, wives and moth- forgotten, and—like an anchor to a founderers are ill off now-a-days ;-lie still, wee ing ship, or a rope to a drowning man—this Geordie, ye little deil, will you never wink an pliability of the poor human heart vindicated ee?” abjured Effie, burning with envy at itself, extending a saving interest to Janet, Janet's pretensions; but, in spite of herself, that her smarting heart might soften, her controlled by the girl's manner, and itching isolated, famished mind find meat and drink. Janet had but a nominal, unavoidable inter- | the black Tolboooth-wynd of Leith, heavy course with Effie, and almost none at all with with smoke, and vile with a thousand ferher father, who was little at home, and to- menting impurities. In the summer heat, tally disinclined to win a silent, downcast Mrs. Lauder shivered over her wide kitchen girl into words and smiles. From the friends fire, and smiled on the healthy and strong. and acquaintances of the house she was Simon Lauder laid down his scythe and bent equally apart. There were not many visitors over his page, and saw, in the dewy gloamat George Forbes' house in the Tolbooth- ing, Cincinnatus in his fields, and blue-eyed wynd. Effie had her relatives and her cro- strong-limbed Cato among the husbandmen nies with whom she quarrelled and was rec- and homesteads of Tusculum. And with onciled without a pause; these individuals rapt face and unconscious feet, Anne worked came and ate her bread and drank her sack, for all, and heeded none, or fretted at them mostly when George Forbes was absent, and with sickly disgust-her body wasting, her they were not likely persons to affect that heart-strings straining and cracking under set-up play-actress Madam, George Forbes' Jamie Herriot's sin and doom. So men and French daughter. George Forbes himself women have been beaten by dreams; have was a man of few friends, and he met his madly sung themselves to death, their last customers usuaily at his stables or at a tav- sob drawn in wild, wilful melody; have ern. The daily routine was rarely broken danced to death, their springing footfall stifsave by the Sabbath and the kirk seat in St. fening into the rigidity of a corpse; have Ninian's. Effie worked and nursed her died with eyes shining in mystic trances or children, and had fits of darning and scour- ecstatic visions, or dark with great horror ing, and a good deal of sly visiting ; George amid the street cries of common life, the Forbes came in to his meals, and mused in near anguish of affection calling to them in his great chair, with the light of the lamp vain. falling on his classic, iron face; and Janet John Lauder went out to his work in the Forbes worked in her corner, or retired to glorious summer morning, when the earth her little bed in the dark closet off the land was glittering with millions of diamonds, and ing, which she shared with Maillie, a reckless, the sky was clear and light, and the teeming dumbfoundered, unlucky lass, whom she life of the world beginning to flutter and learnt to pity.

and saw a man standing in the den, half

hidden by the trees, but seeming to watch CHAPTER

BUNKER'S the farm-house, whose chimney was already

sending out its hospitable smoke, its houseTHE July sun shone upon the Dean, the dog shaking itself, its cock crowing loud and sky was blue above the twin Lomonds, and shrill. The indistinct lineaments and cartheir shadows were strong and deep ; among riage of the man were known to John Lauthe red bells of the heather, rose the crosses der, and his heart gave a great bound-for of white bed-straw, the spikes of the blue- that was a generation when men spoke unand-pink milkwort, and far, far up, where doubtingly of the bar on Lady Besborough's hidden brooklets rendered the soil soft and wrist, and of young Ardholm, who saw his mossy, telling of long past April showers and own bloody and shrouded wraith days and May mornings in the valley below, the pale weeks before his murder. As John gazed, stars of the primroses set meekly at the foot the man emerged from his shelter, and the of the slender herb-willow.

hair fell on John Lauder's head, and the 1 There were roses in the Dean garden, and creeping of his flesh ceased; for John recogred strawberries below their broad leaves ; nized Allan Herriot, Jamie Herriot's broand John Lauder often leant in the evenings ther, whom he had not encountered face to over the little wicket, though the blackbirds face, or stricken hands with, at kirk, market, no longer sang in the den, and the burn had or bridal, for many a month. He went down ceased to babble; but it was pleasant to look to meet him now, and the young men saluted into the still, leafy recesses, and turn to the each other gravely, but not with unfriendlihills or the fields, and meet the air fresh ness, and strolling into the den, sat down tofrom the heather or sweet from the hay and gether by mutual suggestion, on the ivy-clad the blossoming beans, the air that hung over I trunk of an old tree torn up by a long past

stir ;

V. -THE

SOLDIER

OF

HILL.

[graphic]

rences

:

storm, and bridging their path. They looked more wet with the dew and warmed with the at the dark glossy leaves of the beech near- sun—and I ween human life is sic like." est them, at the bright-eyed squirrel darting “I have heard, John, that Anne has rued along its branches, at the purple fox-glove, her deed.” and the long, white dead men's fingers “I think, Allan Herriot, that my sister Anne standing up like time-posts among the yel- has nothing to rue. If she did not care for lowing ferns; they talked of ordinary occur- Jamie, or mistrusted him when he sought

of their crops, their cattle, the news her, she had a full right to her will and judgrespecting their acquaintances, the last ment; and if she had been as strong as she week's sermon. At last John Lauder stood is mild, she might have been a blithe woman up, leaning upon his hoe, and steadily con- like my mother all her days. But, for as fronting his companion : “ Allan,” said he, calm as she was, Anne was tender, and “if you have come at last to seek satisfaction would have none punished, if she kenned or from me for Jamie's charges, you must go as could help it—and Jamie Herriot has been you came, for I will not fight, either with able to break her heart.” pistol or sword, or stick, or neive. I'll bear “I have been sent for to meet the Sherri', your ban, but there's enough harm done up John: he has had a letter from Captain yonder, without our passions adding more. Bruce, deponing that on the field of BunYou may be spared at hame, I cannot, and ker's Hill, among other men of his regiment what's mair, I will not ; for I hold that ven- that joined the great charge, there fell a geance is neither yours nor mine, or it might brave soldier named James Ballingall

. The have descended long ere now; and that the captain himself saw him, when the battle was auld mode of redding up quarrels was not but begun, ere they thought of a defeat, the best and Allan, I think you will not lying with a bayonet stab in his breast and strike if I hold back my hand ? "

another in his thigh. Captain Bruce would “ John Lauder,” said Allan Herriot, sadly, have had him lifted to the rear, but he “ I'm not like to fight this summer morning ; said, no, he wanted to gasp his last on the you speak in ignorance. I have sure word sod beneath the open sky; but he cried, that that iny

brother Jamie was slain months syne he had something to confess, if any merciful across the Atlantic, in the bloody battle of man would but hear him make a clean breast Bunker's Hill."

there before he passed to the judgment seat “God forgive him!” exclaimed John Lau- of the Almighty, so the captain sent for the der, solemnly.

chaplain, and the chaplain wrote the rest. " Ay, John," Allan continued, more eager- The dying soldier's name was not Ballingall ly, and with less constraint ; "you mind -you can guess, John—but Herriot, and he Jamie—the frankest and freest, the hand- was a native of the county of Fife, not far somest and kindest in the house, and the from the captain's own estate, though by most favored—and now the sun is shining on reason of the captain's English upbringing, the Lomond-hills, and the dean wood is wav- Jamie was a stranger to him. Jamie Her. ing o'er you and me, and he will never riot had fled from Fife, we ken wherefore, plough, or ride, or whistle mair. We dare John ; now he was a repentant man, and in. not name him where he lies, cauld and stiff asmuch as the greatest sinner may return at among the heaps of friends and foes, and the last hour, the English minister, bless him, plundered, unburied dead, at a part in the comforted him, and he grew composed, like New World which we never saw or heard tell a man who has a hope in his end—but he of till the word of this battle came to the pleaded that justice should be satisfied, and King and Parliament in London.”

his friends advised of his death-and he was “Man," answered John, with simple seri- urgent that word should be sent to a girl in

a ousness, “ this branch was white and fragrant Scotland, one Anne Lauder of the Dean, be. in May, and it will be black and bare in No-tween whom and him there had been love vember ; and this mossy stane, that has lain passages and a cross, but as he seemed to there for years, with one spurn of my foot I apprehend that she was now in tribulation can bury it in the narrow channel of the regarding bis fate, Jamie bade her forgive burn, no more seen, no more trodden on, no him and take heart, for wretch as he was,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

he had found an honorable death beyond his approached Anne to wile her to climb the desert on the battle-field; he had caught a bill or to descend into the den, or bring grip of the Savior's cross, and, please God, water from the spout-well, or cut clover for he would meet her in heaven yet in peace her pet cow, or gather groundsel for her bird and joy, So, John, I have delivered his last —but Anne suspecting a secret intention, errand, and I wish you grace to bring it to and a wish for private converse, or from mere her ears ; and, lad, our discord is ended and frowardness, perpetually negatived his purwe part friends, and the young men shook pose. At last he stood on the kitchen floor, hands and separated as after a compact. at the usual dinner hour, Anne spinning at

John Lauder told the tale to his father her wheel, hermother holding her knitting when they were hidden by the smoke of the and gazing wistfully in his face, the servant burning whins, and Simon Lauder spoke of lasses outside conveying the groats from the God's righteous retribution, and of the mercy kiln. that mingles with sacrifice, but never a word “Mother," he said, distinctly," there's been of pitiless, unholy joy at his enemies' destruc- tidings of Jamie Herriot; he was slain lang tion. John whispered it to his mother in syne in America.” the cheerfulness of her chimney corner, and Anne Lauder fell back against the wall as the bright eyes, bright with the fever in the if she had been shot; that doleful sound, long blood, and the warm heart that no fever expected, had pierced the dull senses, and could by comparison cool, brimmed with quivered to the bones and marrow. moisture, and the weak voice vibrated like a “I have been merciful to Anne, mother," chord of sweetest music—for the widow said John Lauder, wildly, as he raised her; robbed of her son, and the young lad that “I have killed her on the spot.” might have been a gay bridegroom and a “ Whisht, whisht, my dear lad ; carry her douce father, rushing red-handed to a violent to her bed, and she will be well.”. death.

Well! no, not well, but not lifeless, not Discordant to John Lauder seemed the insensible; and John Lauder repeated faithjests of the farm-servants, the 'glow of the fully to these gushes of breath, closed eyes fireside, the gambols of his dogs, the very and clasped hands, every syllable that had bubbling of the great pot that night; he was reached him—besought her, caressed her, glad to go to the door, and look up at the prayed for her. But Anne lay for days, taksingle pure star trembling in the blue vault, ing food when they gave it, but with no furand hear only the flapping of the bat's wings ther sign, until one night of soft summer and the hoot of the white owl from the barn rain, she opened her eyes, and looked out

He had promised to break the tid on her bed with its patched quilt, her little ings to Anne; he had bidden them not send mirror on the wall, the old press with all the for the minister; he did not fear the mission linen her own hands had spun, the lavender —and so natural was it for the very heads of drying in the window, her mother propped the family to depend upon the son John, that up in her chair by her head. A motion, a they deferred to his decision, and implicitly melting came over the white face, “ Mother, relied upon his fortitude. Simon was a man you tending me that needs tending yoursell of wisdom and learning, but he was more that I was wont to tend ; ” she repeated, versed in dead men's lore than in women's pathetically. hearts, and he was growing old and was un- “I have tended you mony a time, Annie, nerved and agitated; gentle, joyous Mrs. and I'm blithe to be permitted to watch my Lauder might have pitifully dealt an inevita- bairn-blithe if I could but do her good.” ble wound, unscathed herself, and to the “You aye do good, dear mother,” said healing of another, but John would spare Anne, vaguely. “Mother, send for John.” her all care and trouble.

“ John is out about, my dear, speaking He hung about the yard and the house to Will Carstairs, that's just come from next day, inspecting and repairing pens, hal- Kinross." ters, troughs, wheels, and ropes, tending the “ Mother, bid John come." very vegetables in the garden, smoothing John was summoned, and bent over his down every rough mound, and lopping off sister. She smiled as she saw him—a smile every unsightly branch ; again and again he like a moonbeam—and he was then for the

;

1

eaves.

[ocr errors]
[graphic]
[ocr errors]

first time struck with her resemblance to “I am dizzy, mother, but oh ! let me try; their mother ; both faces wan and chastened, We'll forget that I was ill; we'll forget and the one by fell disease, the other by the forgive what's washed out, and we will never, spirit's throes. Anne put her arms round never speak of it again, or vex each other his neck.

more ;—but let me serve you this night, or I “ My dear brother John,” she said, “I've will dee.” been dreaming how you carried me in your So Anne rose and ministered unto them, arms—me, a wee lassie, to seek for birds' unsteadily and fitfully for these first July nests in the den—like an only brother and days, but always more consciously and consister as we were. And do you mind of our tentedly, more in her right mind, until they dog. Keep, and how we fed him daily with thought that it was their own Anne Lauder our porridge, and how we hid ourselves and restored to the Dean-almost as if Jamie grat together when he died on the door- Herriot had been spared to come back from stane—a blind, stiff old hound? And now, the wars a changed man, and had wedded

will go, and my mother will help Anne Lauder and settled close to the Dean, me to rise; and I will come ben and set the and sent her every day to greet and to gladsupper, and see that my father's ale is toasted, den her old friends. Only there was some and my mother's white wine whey made; thing on Anne Lauder's brow and about her and I will boil sowens for you and for me." guileless mouth that when she was happiest

“But you have been ill my lamb; you would make the hearts that loved her yearn, maun wait till you are strong," interposed and the eyes that looked on her dim, but not her mother, anxiously. Anne looked in her with sorrow—with a joy that was so pure, it mother's face.

was almost pain.

John, you

[ocr errors]

THE LETTERS OF A BETROTUED.-We laugh | life in my cars for the step that is to bring it to at the “Polito Letter-writers” of a former age; me. And it does not come;—a passionate yet they were something at all events to the despair overwhelms me, and I feel as if it never inditer of a less schoolly-educated generation, never can come now, and as if I could not supwho had nothing to work upon. They em- port a renewal of this suffering for another braced most of the prosaic occurrences of life. twenty-four hours. We do not remember whether they contained a “And I can do nothing ! there is the terrible lady's acceptance of a proposal; we are quite part. It is this forced inaction that wears me sure they did not extenil through the varying so frightfully; another day's hope gone; and incidents of a "long engagement,” with the what is there for it? just to sit down saying, lover's absence, the betrothed's tour to Paris, “Wait, perhaps to-morrow may bring a letter, many little incidents and numerous fancies, till perhaps the day after, perhaps a week, perhaps the last epistle previous to the ceremony- never! but there is nothing you can do; so sit “The thought grows frightful, 'tis so wildly down and wait !' Frank, is it your fault, this dear.”. We are quite certain that none of the suffering I endure? If it be in any degree old epistolary correspondence directories had whatsoever, for God's sake do not again subject the elegant literature of this volume, or its fem- me to it, for the burden is greater than I can inine grace and animation of style and senti- bear. Is it your misfortune ? are you ill? No ment, with an carnest glow of feeling, whose answer, no answer! nothing but a stony silence exhibition in a single young woman would have mocking me.”—Spectator. caused our grandmothers to put their fans before their faces. Whether it is quite so safe

At a book auction at Paris, a few days ago, a guide to follow as those more practical pro- the first volume of a “Biblia Sacra” of 1462, ductions, we cannot tell; though it is ever so in folio, on parchment, and unbound, was sold much better to read. Would this outpouring for £21. The remaining volumes of the work on some hitch in the correspondence be a safe are lost. The edition the Bible of 1462 is experiment, especially in too frequent doses of the first with a date known in France. A cops such strength ?

of the “Roman de la Rose," on parchment, “ Then, when the postman arrives, I sit and illuminated, was knocked down at the same down, sick and faint, saying, 'He has no letter, sale for £10 108. I know he has none,' while I listen with all my

« ElőzőTovább »