bid me.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

woman, unless

away. The


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

He shrank back from her touch. her full in the face, “because you The movement was cruelly pa

If I had decided for my. thetic. “No, Mrs Heathcote,” he self, I should have stayed.” said, almost fiercely; "your optim- “You are going to South Africa ism does you credit, but I am too because of a woman,” she interold to change now. I shall have posed, lightly. to go back to South Africa. Men You are very cruel,” he broke of my life are not made to make out. any woman happy. If I had “But you will come back," and married that girl, I should have she smiled up at him. made her unhappier even than she " Who knows? Even a Matais to-day. I do not know the bele shoots straight sometimes.”

_” he turned un- Her smile faded consciously towards her.

wings of the grim angel seemed See, there is Tom," she said, for a moment to throw a shadow hurriedly, “waiting for us.” of pain across her face. “I want

He accepted the reproof humbly. to come back,” he went on, “for “Forgive me," he said, contritely; life is beginning to be worth living. “I hardly knew what I May I tell you—in case I should saying.”

not have another chance — that, “There is nothing to forgive," thanks to you, I have recovered she replied, in a low voice. As

As my belief in women.” they rose he saw her eyelashes She flushed a happy red. “Then sweep her burning cheek, and they I shall look out in the papers,” were wet with tears.

she answered, brightly, because

“ The next day he marched out I shall see the belief in the teleinto the hotel garden, where she grams.” was sitting with her Tauchnitz

He lingered. " Life is worth unread in her lap. He waved a living,” he repeated, sadly. slip of paper.

only wish I had something to live "I need your advice," he began. for. May I not hope?” he slipped

“ “There is trouble in South Africa, in, pleadingly. A waiter came and they want me to leave at once. out with the unwelcome news that Shall I


monsieur's fiacre was avancé. She looked up at him and He held out his band.

« Goodcaught a quick breath. “Yes, bye!" he muttered, huskily. She go,” she said ; "go with our good gave him her hand in silence and wishes."

he raised it to his lips. She He bit his moustache. “But snatched it back, and then, as if yesterday you told me to stay at repentant, drew off the signet-ring home.”

and handed it to him. “I thought,” she replied, with "I may hope, then?” he cried in a a slow smile, “that your experi- a joyous burst. ence told you that women were “You will miss your train," was fickle. You surely don't want all she said. “ Au revoir !and further proofs.”

without further words they parted. “Then I must go ?” he queried. But as he drove away in the merry She nodded, and without a word sunshine, the ring on his finger he went away to pack his things. long continued to flash back the

When he returned they chat- look of tender trust that had tered idly for some minutes. “I dawned in her moistened eyes. am going," he said at last, looking


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



It was soon after moonrise on and sky combine to make one the eve of full moon, the 2d of feel linked with the outland race October, a year ago, when in of them who, as a poet told, crossing the bridge over Elrick 1 dwell “east of the sun and west burn there appeared to me the of the moon,” wherever that fair strangest, weirdest illumination land of dreams may be. upon the old stone parapet on Along these lonesome country either side. Opposing lights were roads, when labourers have gone cast from a great gold harvest home and lights begin to stream moon and from the green glow from windows on the hillsides far of a frosty west. Neither light apart, few might be the belated did seem to gain the mastery, for wayfarers who marked the crossing both alike threw shadows on the shadows by the light of the harvest walls. On the right hand burned moon. When summer is past and the moon's light, warm as the happy daylight walks are done, reflex of some dying conflagra- there comes the joy of the moon, tion, while cold and crystal-pure with her mysterious charm. When as beryl itself shone the western the Empress of the Night rules in sky upon the left. Past the splendour, flooding the earth with bridge the road lay between lines seas of silver broken by blots of of slender ash-trees casting half- ebon blackness, they need not be transparent shades. Did ever any all so-called lunatics who respond one before, I wondered, walk thus with a kind of exaltation to the between two shadows, shadowing strong influences of her reign. But him right and left ? Better so when she floats a crescent bark, than

none, for that is no good serene in the soft atmosphere of sign. Long ago it was said, by an autumn evening, then is her the country-folk, of at least one sway hushed and gentle-divine

— man of evil repute among lairds with thoughts that are not of earth. of his day, that “neither Whether by sunlight or by moonmoonlichty nichts nor in broad shine, long hours of solitary walks day had he ever a shadow to inland of this north-east coast of him.

Aberdeenshire are to be counted As I stood still for a moment amongst the purest of life's comconsidering the curious effect, I mon pleasures. Then is the time thought a third silently, slowly for dreams. Then are composed went by. It might have been a essays and poems,-every one of mere momentary illusion, though them perhaps to fade away, uncertainly I saw a shadow pass. written and forgot.

Then are There was just a little shock of there pictures painted which never surprise, nothing more; for who know paint or canvas. Then also can tell what strange things may is it that a subject—for pen or not happen on such an evening pencil—first forms itself in the in the North? It is likely that mind, and in many a happy walk on no other evening, in any other is pursued until "the idea shines.” month of the year, would moon And when this is thus, we confess


1 Elrick-field of the fairies. VOL. CLXI. —NO. DCCCCLXXX,

3 к


the hours not idly spent. Yet how lands. The last of the harvest deeply soever the mind may be at ("clyack” they still call the last work, the eye sees and takes in sheaf, sometimes) has been cut by with delight details of rocks and the youngest lass in the field, and grass and wild-flower, each varied only tarries for the “leading," or outline of trees or fields, of hill- carrying, as they would say in top and of cloud. Wild woods and England. There is a deeper quiet mountains and river-sides may be in the air than even

on any more full of romantic beauty, yet, ordinary Sabbath day, by confor everyday wear, these familiar trast with the busy jollity of last roads with their old stone dikes week's end. The very silence are best.

There are the roadside speaks, while the Bible word keeps flowers and herbs, changing ever running in our mind,—the word with the changeful months; the which said, “and the land had purple distance of wooded heights : rest." The sheaves will stand as with the field life, and birds, -and they are, all a-row up and down the human interest, which last the fields day and night, for long. never can be least.

They have to await fulfilment of This Elrick countryside is very “the flailer's prayer”—the welold—a truism that only means old

shower that makes the cottages, old landmarks, old stones. threshing easy. An old rhyme There is a hilly road from which formerly in use was written down the prospect on a sunny late Sep- nineteen years ago from the lips tember morning is as beautiful of an old ploughman crooning by as the breeze that blows over it the farm-kitchen fireis bright and health-giving. It is the very picture of prosperity. “Trembling strae maks trottin'owsen; 1 Amidst the upland corn and pas

Trottin' owsen maks red lan' banks ;

Red lan' banks maks a thin corn-yaird ; ture are scattered clumps of trees

A thin corn - yaird maks a hungry and islands of white farmsteads.

fairmer!" Around each farm lies its little enclosed bit of garden and That is true Doric; but, whether labourer's cottage or two, and the in rhyme or prose, " the flailer's shadow of them aslant upon the prayer" is now but an empty hill. A black heap under every sound, for the big deafening farm gable and beside every cot is threshing machine needs none of the winter hoard of peat. Later in it. Yet, rain or shine, the stooks the month dark loads

all will bide a wee, and hold the field. day along the winding far - seen If to-day were Sabbath, the searoads. It is the season for “lead- birds would be away. Birds, &c., as ing” peats. Pasturing in the fields we all know, have their own ways beside the cattle are flocks of white of spending it. On Sundays gulls sea-mew. The birds rise and settle are not seen inland. Rooks choose and rise again in a perpetual it for the first day of nest-building twinkle of white wings. The in the spring. Caged doves almost weather is so fine that "stookey invariably lay an egg on Sunday. Sunday" must be near. On The heron alights by the burn near stookey Sunday the corn - stooks the house for an hour's quiet fishstand in ordered ranks everywhere ing while the people are at kirk. up and down the wide deserted Salmon get up the river unscared



1 Ousen-oxen.




by mills, and bees are said not to them never. Even the children swarm.

play at gardening, and make small The aspect of a certain quiet pleasure-plots by the road, in rough full prosperity, so characteristic waste-grounds, or in corners of the of this part of Scotland, is no crofts. One such miniature garden mere idle show. The black peat I pass in walks along the Elrick neatly stacked at the gable end of roads. It is the joint property of the poorest dwelling, alone might a family of four children. The mark the difference. New slated little space is carefully fenced houses are many, but there still round, and laid out in walks and remain dotted about near the roads flower - beds. Two tiny wooden or on the hillsides old low-roofed gates, fastened with a loop of old dreary little dwellings of the poor string, admit—or keep out-the (poor, almost without poverty!), brownies, the only people who the same were in existence might be supposed to wish to a hundred years ago and more. trespass there, or sit under the The old thatch grows deep-green shade of a tall tree of spiced crops of moss; the wooden lum is southernwood in the midst ! A swathed round in hay-ropes; the fairy path leads to a thicket of doorway is only just high enough, spotted pulmonaria ; and in a or barely, for a man to walk in sunny corner are the strawberry without knocking his head; little beds, where is room for just one deep-set windows not made to large strawberry root. Sometimes open, with one like an after- I have known the children make thought worked in the wall be- their “brownie” gardens among side the ingle-neuk. Sometimes the foundation-stones of some poor huge boulders, built in as corner- ruined cot; and there I have seen stones, give a sense of solidness a fairy farmyard too, with little and security. How well the colour- corn-stacks of wild grasses thatched tone of roof and walls blends with with rush. the colouring of all the land around! Bound up together with this Dreary little northland cottages ! native love for flowers and gardens how pleasant is their look of homely is the faculty of vivid imagination. comfort, how engaging their bit of It dies down as the years

increase, bright garden, and how seldom but in the bairnie's breast, as a rule, would it gain a prize for tidiness! it glows and burns. With flame Sweet simple flowers, such as are more faint perhaps, imagination sown in spring, grow there, with does also not seldom illuminate a patch or two of so-called English the daily life of cottage children iris and blue monk's-hood, all bloom- in the tamer South. In Berkshire ing as they never bloom in milder field-paths, for instance, one may regions. If a few tall splendours often come unawares upon little of crimson sword - lily perchance altars piled within recesses of big aspire above the humbler flowers, tree-roots, decked out in freshly they are guilty of giving no shock gathered flower-heads. It is the of incongruousness, as would children who build these high scarlet geranium or yellow calceo places, and make their little offerlaria, or any other flowering for- ings there of red clovers or buttereigners. Deep-rooted in Scotland, cups or blue veronica.

A tiny in the hearts of her people is their survival it may be of Mariolatry, love for gardens. It is a love born or perchance of

remoter with their birth, and it forsakes pagan age. The remnants of that



ruin at the foot of the Gallow Hill the honey - scented heath - bells. (where I found the little fairy farm From the highroad a mile away, and flower-garden) wear a dreary and from every path and every aspect, more desolate even than house within sight, the awful those frequent ruins of desolated Thing could be seen, silhouetted homes — just two gaunt roofless black against the sun-bright sky. gables—that are seen afar in dis- The half-forgotten tales that with tant fields from the windows of difficulty may be extracted still some passing train. There remains from the country-folk round about only a heap of big foundation- are of the vaguest.

Whatever stones smothered in weeds and happened here must have been at thistles.

least 150 years ago.

The parish Nothing certain is known about archives--a part of which perished the Gallow Hill, or the meaning of by fire-are silent upon the subject. its gruesome name. Straight up Some say this was the place of the steep brae leads the path to execution for the whole of New the spot where it is said the gal- Machar; others, that here stood lows stood. All who came and the gallows-tree of the lairds of went through that cottage door Elrick, in the ugly old times when must have seen it. From the peep- the lairds, or barons, “had power hole window by the hearth it would of pit and gallows.” No deep loch be for ever in sight. One can -like the loch of Spynie—being fancy how, as years went on, the near at hand, the maintenance of little home would become distaste- a gallows was of course a necessary ful to the dwellers in it, and it was expense! “The oldest inhabitant” at last deserted and pulled down. tells a tradition of his boyhood. The hillside grass is fine and short, Two herd-boys posted on the hill and thick with flowers. The track to watch the cattle (the land was climbs through a plantation of not in those days enclosed) were young spruce and between the playing together, and one hung up hoary boles of a a few ancient the other in sport upon a tree. beeches, and then, the summit Returning in an hour, the lad was reached, one may rest upon the dead as he hung. Then the boy heather, all interwoven with suffered death himself, on the blaeberry and thyme, and dream gibbet set up for him alone. Yet away a sunny August hour. All another and more ghastly tradition around, above, below, reigns pro- lingers, and would seem to point foundest silence. No living crea- to the first idea, of a place of public tures can be seen save the feeding execution. They say that one hot cattle and white sea-gulls, down in summer a hundred years ago

the the low-lying pasture-lands. A ripened berries had to be left to wide landscape fraught with the hang ungathered on the bushes in stillness of deep peace spreads cottage-gardens within a certain away and away to the far horizon- distance of the Gallow Hill. line of lilac hills. The sun shines Whatever may be the truth of all sweetly on

farms and that is said to have happened here woods. On such a day, it might in those far days, time has since so well have been, took place the wrought as to mellow into wild last tragedy connected with the loveliness the once drear aspect of gibbet when it stood there, reared the bill of doom. We only know up on the hill-crest where we

as a flowery brae from now take our ease, resting among whose summit is seen the prettiest


it now

« 前へ次へ »