As he rode he heard the sound of horses galloping behind him. They turned out to be a patrol of dragoons from Cairnryan headed by Captain Laurence. That officer was in great fear for his commission, being in military command of the district; and though he had received the Prince's own orders to confine himself to his barracks that the ways might be clear, he could not hide from himself that if anything happened to the King's favourite son, he might as well send in his papers.
So whenever he crossed a coast-guardsman, or even the most ignorant and harmless farm-lad, he shouted to him, "The Duke—the Duke! What of the Duke? Have they killed the Duke?"
To which Kennedy McClure of Supsorrow responded like an echo, "The horses—the horses? What have they done to the horses? Have they killed my horses?"
PLOTS AND PRINCES
But the Duke of Lyonesse was not dead. He lay at the King's Arms in the town of Newton Douglas, well peppered with slugs, and swearing most royally. Lord Wargrove was alone in attendance upon him. One might well pity him, for his job was no pleasant one.
Eben the Spy had disappeared, and with him every stiver of the Prince's money, which had been kept in a leathern dispatch case carefully stowed beneath the seat of the carriage. His wallet of jewels, too, had vanished, so that the poor Duke had never a spare snuff-box or a change of rings.
More wonderful still was the official declaration made and sworn to before the Fiscal and Sheriff. The attack had been made entirely for the purpose of robbery, by Ebenezer McClure and a band of malefactors, collected by him for the purpose. In proof of which it was shown that the said Eben McClure had driven the carriage into a trap, previously laid with care in the dangerous defile of the White Water near where it enters into the loch of that name, that he had removed the Duke's treasure during the fight, and so escaped, mounted upon one of the horses which he had borrowed of his kinsman Kennedy of Supsorrow. The name of Patsy Ferris did not appear.
This explains why on arriving at Newton Douglas in search of his steeds, Kennedy McClure found himself pulled down from his horse, treated with much official roughness, and finally lodged in the townhouse awaiting his removal to the gaol of Wigton. He began to think that the fifty pounds which had been paid down by Eben of Stonykirk constituted but a feeble consolation for losses such as his. The Duke could not see him. My Lord of Wargrove would not, and Captain Laurence, to whom in desperation he made his plea, consigned him with extreme conciseness of speech to the deepest and hottest pit of Eblis.
All these things made no considerable stir in the little village of Newton Douglas, which was beginning to extend itself under the heights of Penninghame. The borough was proud of its guest, but what the Duke and his hench-man desired most of all was to be safely across Cree Bridge and to place a county or two between them and the wrath of Adam Ferris and his brother-in-law Julian Wemyss, whom they held to be answerable for the attack at the White Loch. So as soon as the wounded man could be moved, the best horses to be had in Minnigaff drew the coach gingerly across the bridge and out of immediate danger of pursuit.
* * * * *
The Duke thought it safest to make as little of the occurrence as possible. He had many debts, and the present loss of his treasures seemed a good chance to get the Government to pay off his creditors. He had, he was willing to swear, been bringing over from Ireland the moneys with which to conclude the arrangement. And now he had lost not only the treasure but his jewels as well, in the discharge of his duty to the King and the Houses of Parliament. What more fitting, therefore, than that the loss should be made good to him, together with some compensation for the wounds he had sustained in the defence of his creditors' property?
During the rest at Carlisle it was agreed that Lord Wargrove, in consultation with Mr. Robert Adam, the Duke's legal adviser and boon companion, should draw up a schedule of his losses—such as might be expected to pass the House of Commons without any of the unpleasant rakings up of the past which usually distinguished these periodical cleanings of the slate.
Only a couple of years had elapsed since the Commons had been engaged for weeks in the examination of the Duke of York's affair with Mrs. Clarke, and the Duke of Lyonesse felt that he must not allow his application to be handicapped by the account of an attempt at abduction, such as that of which the daughter of Adam Ferris had been the object.
It became highly necessary, therefore, that the mouths of the girl's relatives should be closed, and it seemed to the Prince and his advisers that the delicate negotiations could better be conducted through Julian Wemyss, who at least could not fail to know the character of his former attache.
"Besides, I know something about him," said the Duke, "which will make him think twice before denouncing me."
Lord Wargrove put an eager question. He would have rejoiced to be able to repeat in society the tale of some disgraceful and unpublished scandal attached to the name of the ex-ambassador.
"No, no," said the Duke, promptly, "nothing of that sort. There is nothing against him personally. But he will hold his peace for the sake of a certain great lady. Oh, Wemyss is a man. He quitted his post at Vienna rather than bring a lady's name into a quarrel, in course of which he was challenged. Now ambassadors do not fight duels, so he resigned and killed his man. I was there at the time."
"Ah," said my Lord Wargrove, thoughtfully, "so he is a wine of that vintage, is he? Then we shall probably hear more of the little adventure which went to smash when that old thief's horses blundered into those white gates."
"You do not suppose," cried the Prince, startled into raising himself incautiously on his elbow so that he grimaced with pain, "that it was Wemyss who pursued us?"
"Certainly not," said Wargrove. "If he is the man you describe, he would never have fired a blunderbuss into a dark carriage. He would have stopped the horses and shot us one after the other at twenty paces like a gentleman."
"What, without seconds! That would have been murder!" exclaimed the Duke of Lyonesse, who liked well enough running away with pretty maids, but much deprecated the interference of inconvenient relatives afterwards. As, for that matter, did most of the royal princes of that time.
Who did their ill by stealth, But blushed to find it fame.
"A man who can resign an ambassadorship to pink his man is never in want of a second, specially in his own country. He would have fought us—be sure of that—and so far as I am concerned, the pleasure is only postponed. As for you, your Highness had better get to Windsor or Carlton House, as soon as may be."
"I cannot go to Carlton House," the Duke answered sadly, "though I dare say George would be glad enough to see me. We always had a great deal in common, but all that is of no use. The Fitz does not like me and she is ruling the roost there again."
"Well," said Wargrove, quaintly, "I shall be jotting down the provisions of my last will and testament as we are jogging along southward."
"I wonder," said his Royal Highness, pensively, "what has become of the little baggage. She would have been entrancing if we only could have got her safely trapped."
"Well," said my Lord, "you would not listen before, but I tell you now that if you had trapped her, as you say, you would certainly have died in bed with a dagger in your throat. That was what she meant by 'Oh, if I only had it!' You heard her say that. I remember my cousin Southwald getting hold of an Italian girl—a little minx from Apulia, fine as silk but dusky as a Brazil nut. She fought wild and bitter like a trapped wild cat. It was at Lecce in Murat's time, but Southwald was conceited that he could gentle her. He did not care for what he called the 'full-uddered kine.' He liked them parched and lithe with eyes like smouldering fires—"
"Ah, like Patsy!" said the Duke, not yet cured of his love-sickness.
"Exactly," countered my Lord, "like Miss Patsy to a hair. Well, when we went into his tent the next morning—Murat had excused him service—he—well, he was not pretty to see. To begin with, his throat was cut and the girl nowhere to be seen. Yet I could be sworn I tied her wrists tightly enough. One look at Southwald spoilt more breakfasts than mine that day, and Murat himself, who did not stick at trifles, brought all his available officers, a whole camp of them, and made poor Southwald the text for a little discourse. No, Murat did not say anything, he only pointed, but my cousin made a better homily and application than parson ever preached."
"And pray what were either of you doing in Apulia with the brother-in-law of Buonaparte?" cried the Duke, who compounded for the sin of private cowardice by excessive public patriotism.
"You were at Vienna at the time, and ought to remember," said my Lord, quite calmly. "Murat was keen to emancipate himself from the yoke of the Emperor, and was playing for his own hand. Southwald and I had been sent informally from Malta to Naples to discover what lengths he was prepared to go."
"Nonsense, Wargrove, I know better," the Duke exclaimed. "That was not your real reason."
"It was that which was marked on our passports and safe-conducts. But" (here he yawned courteously behind his hand) "perhaps your Highness has remarked that though the Buonapartes are doubtless all great rascals, their female kind have a habit of being deucedly pretty and liberal-minded women!"
"But why then did your cousin mix himself up with little blackamoors?"
"Chacun a son gout!" said Wargrove, lightly. "I always knew that my taste in women was better than Southies. So he got what I tell you, and I"—(he fingered at a ribbon), "I got the Order of the Golden Fleece—Murat's own, which he had brought from Madrid after the Dos de Mayo. Murat was pleased with me. I read the burial service over Southwald out of a prayer-book his mother had written his name in, with Murat and his Frenchmen standing round with bared heads like gentlemen, though they could never have seen a priest before in a Guards' uniform."
"And the girl?" demanded the Duke. "Of course she was sought for and punished?"
Wargrove sighed long and then paused to give his words wing. "Not at all," he said. "I think the general feeling was that Southwald was a fool and deserved what he got. I know that was my own impression!"
"Jove!" cried the Duke, suddenly wroth, "I shall not suffer this, Wargrove. You mean me!"
"That," said Wargrove, with a face like a statue hewn in granite, "is precisely as your Highness pleases."
THE END OF AN OLD FEUD
Since the looting of his house by Laurence's dragoons, Adam Ferris had lived mostly at Abbey Burnfoot, the property of his brother-in-law Julian Wemyss. Julian was not there. He had gone to London upon unknown business. At least if Adam Ferris knew of his kinsman's mission, he would have been the very last man to speak of it.
Nor indeed, did any try to wind the secret out of him. Adam had always been a silent man, distantly smiling and peaceable, but even then there was something about the man which caused his neighbours to be careful how they meddled with him.
But now he brooded darkly, wandering much on the moor and along the shore. Only the old Earl dared to front him, and as there had been enmity between the houses for four hundred years, the first meeting was not without some piquancy.
It happened the first morning after Louis had taken Patsy to Castle Raincy. The old gentleman stood upon the point of etiquette, and though he was stiff with rheumatism, he drilled his shoulders and strode down the glen, crossing by the stile from which he had so often cursed the lands of Cairn Ferris and every soul who dwelt therein. But now that he had called up his men and shut the gates of Castle Raincy upon the heiress of his enemy's house, he passed into Ferris territory as if he carried the white banner of envoy extraordinary.
There was something fresh and almost childish in the delight with which he noted every twist and turn of the long Glen burn, the trouts whisking in the brown pools or floating with their noses just showing under the shade of rugged willow roots which wind and water had undercut. He had observed these things all his life—from above, but his feet had never been set upon Ferris ground. His eyes had never looked (as it were) upon Zion, and now the goodly things were goodlier, the bunches of Eshcol grapes heavier and more purple, the pine trees nobler and higher, the peeps of corn-land more enthralling to the spirit, than ever they had appeared seen from above as if marked on a chart.
Presently he came in sight of the house of Cairn Ferris with its doors and windows wrecked and broken, at the mending of which the joiners of the estate and others from Stranryan were at that moment busy. He passed a heap of broken furniture still huddled together and smoking in a corner, at which he stood still and cursed as he if had been Adam Ferris himself.
He did not love the man nor his family. But Ferris was a gentleman and a neighbour. Only let him get to London. He would make the ears of these Hanover rats lie back when he told them an honest man's opinion of them on some day of great debate. Oh, it was not the first time he had spoken. Hear him they must and hear him they should.
Earl Raincy reached the new house of Abbey Burnfoot in safety. As he came out of the birches of the glen among which the path played hide and seek, he saw the climbing roses and red tropeolum mounting almost to the roof, the full dusky green of the hops twining to the chimney tops and setting a-swing questing tendrils from every balcony. The old man had never before seen such a building, but in an illustrated book of travels he had come across something like it. So his heart expanded when he thought of his own austere baronial keep and the crow-stepped bluestone gables of his ancestors' many additions. The newest of those was four hundred years old, and was only beginning to lose its look of having been finished yesterday.
He shrugged his shoulders at Julian's foreign-appearing palace of pleasure.
"Very well, I dare say," he muttered; "but what will it be after a few hundred winters?"
He did not pause to think what in such circumstances he would be himself. Raincy ground would still uphold Castle Raincy. Raincys would still dwell there, but this little dainty playhouse on the sands of the Abbey Burn would long ago have been swept away by centuries of Solway storms. The thought re-established him in his own esteem, and even the Ferris rule of the coveted Twin Valleys seemed evanescent and fleeting as a cloud on a mountain side beside the invincible eternity of the Raincy dominion.
He knocked at the door and waited. The man who came was Julian's Austrian valet Joseph, courteous, grave, and exquisitely "styled," as was fitting for the house of an ex-ambassador.
"Would his excellency enter? Joseph regretted much that the Earl should not find Mr. Julian. But he had been summoned to London. Yes, certainly, Mr. Adam was somewhere on the beach. He had gone out after breakfast and was still absent. If my Lord would wait, Mr. Adam should be at once informed."
But my Lord greatly preferred to see Mr. Ferris at once, and would walk along the sands till he met with him.
"As his Excellency wills," said Joseph, bowing low, and Earl Raincy went his way, tall, whitehaired and slender, to meet Patsy's father. Within tide-mark they met, at the exact point where the Raincy properties join the valley possessions of the Ferrises. Therefore in the most fitting spot—a true no-man's land, in that the foreshore was the property of the Government, though on the "heuchs" above the butt of the separating march dyke, built with masonry and bound and spiked with iron, testified that the Jews of the hills had no dealings with the Samaritans of the valleys. The lesson, seen close at hand, was a little marred by the fact that Louis and Stair with the assistance of a forehammer had converted certain of the spikes into a very practicable ladder which either of them, when pressed for time, could take at racing pace.
But from the beach below the barrier seemed of the last truculence and efficacy.
The old Earl took off his three-cornered hat with the gold button on a white rosette at the side. Adam did the same with his more modern broad-brimmed, low-crowned white beaver.
"I have the honour to announce to you," said Earl Raincy, bowing formally, "that your daughter is at my house under the care of my daughter-in-law. My grandson Louis, with, I believe, the help of several of your tenants, conveyed her safely back, and I congratulate myself that Louis had the good sense to bring her to Castle Raincy. You will pardon him, I feel sure. He went first to your house of Cairn Ferris, but finding it dismantled, he made up his mind that she could not safely return to Miss Aline's at Ladykirk. So I came off to see you at once, and to say to you how highly I feel myself honoured that one of your name should sojourn under my roof. Time is a great healer, and by gad, sir, if you will permit me to say so, I shall stand by you in this affair, and between us we shall crack the rascals' skulls!"
He held out his hand, which Adam, who had listened sympathetically to the old man's speech, instantly took. Then after one solid grip, they dropped each other's palms with a slight feeling of awkwardness.
"I thank you, my Lord," said Adam Ferris, "I appreciate your coming to me. I knew some time ago by a messenger from Stair Garland that my daughter was safe. I was starting to run down the villains, but my brother-in-law begged that he might be allowed to settle the family quarrel. He was anxious that nothing should appear about my daughter which might hurt her future. Here, of course, in our own country, the poorest and most ignorant would not make any mistake in judgment. But Julian said it would certainly be otherwise in London, especially with those who know the doings of our Royal Dukes. He begged that in the first instance I should leave the affair to him and if he did not settle matters to my satisfaction, I could then take what action I chose. So, because he knew more of these courtly circles than I shall ever know or desire to know, I bade him go."
"Put that way," said my Lord, "you were quite right. The man was, I understand, a guest in the house of Mr. Wemyss. He sent from there to borrow my horses, damn his impudence. He shall answer to me for that some day. Oh, I forgot—yes, your daughter. But I have been in London and at Court. I have been honoured by the King's commands, but I can only say that this new age—these young men—are rotten to the core. Therefore I agree that for Miss Ferris's sake, the less said the better. When, think you, will your brother be back? I should wish to pay my respects to him as soon as might be!"
"That," said Adam, "I cannot say. I wait any summons from London, but as yet I have heard nothing from Mr. Wemyss."
The earl was silent a while, now tapping imaginary dust from his breeches and again patting his flowered waistcoat to settle the long flaps in their places. He looked away across the shore, pale amber and white at the sandy edge and deep blue beyond. Then frowning with the effort, he spoke.
"Sir," he said, "our young people are wiser than we. My boy brought your girl to Castle Raincy as to a city of refuge, and why should not you and I, sir, copy them? Will you do me the honour to walk to Castle Raincy with me and take dinner? 'Zounds, sir, we ought to have thought of this long before. They put us to shame, these helter-skelter youngsters of ours."
"I accept your invitation, my Lord," said Adam gravely.
"Come now, Ferris," cried the Earl, with characteristic impulsiveness, "we are neighbours and gentlemen—I pray you let there be no 'Lordships' between us. Call me 'Raincy,' and be done with it!"
"I fear," said Adam, smiling, "that with the best will in the world it would be difficult for me to get my stubborn Galloway tongue round the word. But I am glad to hear you call me by my name, though I fear me, my Lord, that you must e'en let a thrawn Scots hermit gang his ain gait. If I were to call you 'Raincy' I should feel like a boy who threw a stone at election time. Why, sir, my father would rise from his grave and floor me with the lid of his coffin!"
"By gad, sir," said the Earl, "I believe you are right. That comes of English public schools and all the rest of it. Add to which that small daughter of yours is a witch and will make a man say anything—even a man of my age. But since we are both Galloway men, we may surely call each other by the names of our holdings. If you are 'Cairn Ferris' to everybody—well, I am 'Castle Raincy.'"
"To that I see no objection," said Adam, smiling, "though you wear your rue with a difference!"
"Eh, what's that?" cried the Earl, who did not read Shakespeare—"oh, something out of a book—I thought such things were your brother-in-law's perquisite. But I understand—you mean the handle to my name. That is very well for outside use, but never mind handles to-day. Let us be young again to-day. Come and see Patsy!"
"Patsy!" that young person's father muttered to himself, "so it has come to Patsy! Evidently she does not take after me. I have no doubt that the vixen will be calling him 'Raincy' by the week's end."
THE FECHTIN' FOOL
These were hard days for Stair Garland. He alone had planned and carried out the deliverance of Patsy. He had dared the spilling of the blood royal, yet he had given all the profit of it over into the hands of another. And now Louis Raincy had Patsy safe within the walls of his grandfather's castle, and all that remained for Stair was liberty to keep watch and ward outside.
I do not imagine that Louis cared much about the matter. Why should he? He had other things to think about—bright, young, heart-stirring things that danced and glistened, flitting up before him just as a sudden wind-gust may for a moment turn a petal-strewn garden path all rosy.
But, to make up for such ingrate forgetfulness, Patsy thought a good deal. She knew—no woman could have helped knowing—the fact of Stair's devotion. But then she had always accepted it as quite natural, which it was. Also as calling for no particular notice, except, as it were, for a certain graceful obliviousness on her part, modified by a possessive glance or two from her fearless black eyes—glances for which Stair watched more alertly than he had ever gazed into the night for the signal flashes from the Good Intent.
But now he, Stair the doer, was without while Patsy was within with Louis the dreamer. At this time Stair had more liberty to come and go. He could now spend some of his days at Glenanmays helping his brothers and sisters in any emergency. The attack upon the Duke of Lyonesse had been hushed up—so far, that is, as any official inquiry was concerned. The matter was not even referred to in Parliament.
It had been announced that the Prince had been hurt somewhat seriously in a carriage accident, frequent in travelling through such wild lands as Ireland and the south of Scotland. People averred that he would find himself safer on the Mall or climbing the slopes of Primrose Hill.
And meanwhile McCarthy, the Irish doctor who attended him, said nothing about the gunshot wound in the thigh which caused the Duke to walk with a slight limp ever after.
Stair, of course, knew nothing of this in detail. But he was keenly alive to the results. With the disappearance of McClure the Spy the press-gang work was suspended for a time, and, though a party of light horse lay in Captain Laurence's old quarters at Stranryan, they confined their trips to sending recruiting parties in an above-board way to the fairs and market towns.
At the end of harvest they would doubtless make a good haul among the foolish young men who had been at the southern reaping. These, having spent their cash in Carlisle or Dumfries, would be afraid to face their people at home, and might be expected to take his Majesty's shilling with alacrity.
Without the support of the military, led by so experienced a man as Eben McClure, with local knowledge and connections, the Preventive men displayed no initiative, and seldom ventured far from their barracks on the cliff. They might surround an alehouse in a village with all the pomp and circumstance which shows zeal and is put down to the Supervisor's credit as an efficient officer. But word was always sent before, so that everything dutiable might be removed in the night.
So fearless did the Free Traders become that not a week passed without a successful run at the Waterfoot or in the Mays Bay, and such vessels as the Star of Hope from the Texel and the William Groot (everywhere known as the "Billy Goat") of Flessingue, thought it worth their while to come to the coast of Wigton with full cargoes of tea, Hollands, brandy, lace, and tobacco.
All this stir in his own business did Stair a great deal of good. It kept him from grieving about Patsy. Besides, the constant adventure of the night and the lying up in the Cave of Slains during the day, enabled him to sleep off his weariness and kept him away from the neighbourhood of Castle Raincy.
Sometimes, however, he used to lie out with Whitefoot, hidden deep among the bog-myrtle and small silvery willows. On these occasions he would talk to his dog with such earnestness that Whitefoot used to shake all over with sympathy, whining softly as he laid his shaggy muzzle on his master's knee as if in agony because he was unable to speak.
"Those were better days than this, Whitefoot," said Stair, "when she stood on the bookboard of Peden's Pulpit and we watched her through the broom, before you took the road to fetch sister Jean."
At the words Whitefoot leaped up delightedly and gave his short silent bark. He thought he was to be trusted with another message.
"No, Whitefoot, no," said his master, and the dog's waving tail dropped suddenly. "I know you would go to Jean or even find Patsy through the gates of Castle Raincy, but it would do no good. I am not of her world. I am only the 'fechtin' fool.' Not that I am complaining, Whitefoot—that is what you and I are for, Whitefoot. We have fought before and may again. But she is not for us, lad—a laird's daughter—what could we do with the like of her if we had her?—A captain of smugglers and his dog, Whitefoot! That's what we are. Nothing better!"
"Rouch," said Whitefoot, his brown eyes flashing and his ears cocked. He kept up a little alternate dancing motion on his fore paws, raising his body from the ground without ever ceasing to hold his master's eyes for a moment. "Oh, I know you love me, Whitefoot, but that does not help much just for the minute, lad. We are at the ban of the law, and the coastguards would hang you as gladly as they would gaol me if they could catch either of us. Only just at present we have the whip hand of them. They have a shrewd suspicion that the hand which filled a Royal Duke with slugs would not be backward in serving them the same. And, particularly to an exciseman, a whole skin is a whole skin."
Whitefoot growled at the word "exciseman," showing a set of firm white teeth under a black bristly lip turned up wickedly at the corners.
"But this will not always last, lad," Stair Garland went on, "the wars will blow over and they will have men and troops to stop all this open cargo-running. Then they will never beat us altogether, and for years and years they will have the upper hand in their turn. What will come of you and me then, Whitefoot? We shall have to foot it, far afield, lad. Fergus will have the farm when my father has done with it. Agnew takes to books and will get learning. But the 'fechtin' fool' must still be the fechtin' fool. And there is no outgate for him except what he can make with his two hands.
"What has he to do with falling in love, Whitefoot?—Answer me that, silly dog, instead of lickin' and slaverin' all over my hand! Can he marry? No. Would he take any woman into this life of straits and hidings and ambushes? No! And yet what a fool he is because Patsy (oh, Whitefoot, our little Patsy!) being a laird's only daughter, goes for a while with her own kind as she must at the last. What a fool you have for a master, Whitefoot! Tell him so!"
"Ow-oww-ouch!" The dog's answer came in a kind of furious shout that was at once a defiance of fate, of the dread Power which deprived masters of their heart's desire and dogs of speech, shutting them both in within the narrow bounds of a hard necessity.
Stair soothed the dog with one hand, for he could hear his heart thump in short laboured leaps as if after a long pursuit of a dog-fox on the hillside.
"It is all no use, Whitefoot," he went on, more gently, "but after all you are a friend, and it does me good to talk to you. You are always on my side, and I do believe that you understand better than any one else. But now the moon is up we must be going down to the Cave of Slains, or perhaps the Calaman. Stand up, Whitefoot, and say good-night to Patsy before she goes to bed."
Stair rose bareheaded on his rock and looked towards the head of the long bare glen, above which he could see the grey towers of Castle Raincy touched to silver by the moonlight. Some windows were still illuminated on the ground-floor, but higher up only one held a light.
Stair waved his hand towards it.
"Come on now," he said encouragingly to Whitefoot. "Speak—give it tongue! Say good-night to Patsy. She will never know."
And along with his master's shout there went out towards that single light high on the side of the castle wall, the dog's cry to which Stair had trained him for night signalling. And it came to the ears of Patsy as she leaned from her high window, long and lonely and bleak as the howl of a wolf, outcasted from the pack.
Patsy shuddered and shut down the window.
A RIDER COMES TO CASTLE RAINCY
One night the two gentlemen sat over their wine in the dining-room at Castle Raincy, the Earl and Adam Ferris of Cairn Ferris, who had now fallen into the habit of coming every day to the Castle either for dinner or supper—dinner being, according to the fashion of the time, at two and supper at eight. Generally Adam came to supper. In this case he saw more of his daughter, and the old Lord found him right good company, thoughtful and well-informed. Besides, what was best of all, Adam was an excellent listener.
So, sitting toying with the stem of a wine glass, he heard for the twentieth time the tale of the Earl's early adventure with Gentleman Cornwallis—how they had vied with each other over neckcloths and fair ladies, how they had fought for three hours, as the Earl said "sticking each other here and there" without any great damage, neither able to get home, and finally how they had their wounds dressed by the same doctor before sitting down to ombre, each man with his bowl of gruel at his elbow, how they bet who should drink both bickers, and how it stood on one throw of the dice—how Cornwallis won, and he, Earl Raincy, duly performed his obligation.
Then came how they ordered in a second supply and played who should swallow that. The Gentleman won again, and he, Raincy, was so full of gruel that he had to have four strong footmen to carry him home!
"By gad, sir, so I was—drunk as an owl on gruel, damned slimy apothecaries' gruel. But I was the better of it, sir, and got well in a week, while Cornwallis had rash and erysipelas and all manner of trouble, because he did not do as his doctor told him! Served him right, say I!"
And at this point, without any announcement, Julian Wemyss suddenly stood before them. He was travel-stained and hollow of cheek. He had manifestly ridden far and hard.
"I beg your pardon, Earl Raincy," he said, bowing courteously, "for thus forcing my way into your presence. But it was necessary that I should at once speak to my brother-in-law, Mr. Adam Ferris. They told me he was here, so I came on."
The Earl welcomed him after saying that he had intended to call upon him at the Abbey Burnfoot as soon as he knew that he was home, he added, "You will find the wine good, Mr. Wemyss. I will now leave you to yourselves. By the way, can I send up anything from the kitchen?—A hungry man, you know, can do no business with a man well dined, as I warrant you Cairn Ferris has!"
But Julian Wemyss begged Lord Raincy to stay. What he had to say concerned him also, or at least his grandson, and all who were interested in Miss Patricia Ferris. As to supper, he had already had something at his own house, where his servant had been instructed to be ready for him.
But he took a glass of wine, and, after draining it, he said, speaking quietly and leaning a little towards the two gentlemen, "I have had the misfortune to kill my Lord Wargrove in a duel on Calais sands."
"Gad," said the Earl, "if it had only been his master! But so far, so good!"
"Why did you come back here?" put in Adam. "Why did you come back from France?"
"Because in France my work was only half done," Julian spoke gravely. "There was some one in London whom it was my duty to consult. Whatever happened it was necessary to risk a conference with ... that person. My Lord (here he turned abruptly upon Earl Raincy), Adam there is wholly incapable of bringing up Patsy as she ought. She runs the country—with the adventurous lads who play at smuggling. She comes and goes at her will and not a soul is disquieted about her."
The faint flicker of a smile passed over the cheek of the old Earl.
"Well, Mr. Wemyss," he said, "you have known more women than ever I spoke to—for all my frosty poll—and can you say on your conscience that there was ever a one of them more charming, sweeter, or more ladylike than your niece Miss Patricia?"
"That, my Lord, is not the question," said Julian, smiling also and shaking his head. "Patsy is all you say and more. But if she had been better trained and somewhat more under control, she would never have run like a hare to the Wild of Blairmore, the Duke of Lyonesse would have been spared the charge of buckshot in his haunch, and I should not have had the death of Lord Wargrove on my hands."
"Pooh," said the old Earl, "that is what every man runs the risk of. 'Tis not the first time you have held a foil. Who were your seconds?"
"Mine? Oh, Erskine and the Prince of Thurn and Taxis. I was not particularly keen about Erskine, but he has his relations with the court party and would report that all was done in loyalty on both sides. The other seconds? Why, Watford and Queensberry."
"You certainly gave him every chance," said the Earl, leaning back and considering Julian Wemyss, "they are all of his own kidney except the Prince—and him I do not know."
"Oh, the finest blade in Europe," cried Julian, more enthusiastically than he had yet spoken, "and ... a Prince of the Empire."
"I see," said Earl Raincy, "between the two of you, you could have accounted for an army of Duke's favourites!"
"Perhaps," said Julian Wemyss, "but to get back to what we were saying, the question is what are we to do with Patsy? I do not mean to spend my whole life in exile, and though we simply could not let Wargrove pass, we cannot go on fighting duels for the sake of this young woman. Besides, it is bad for Patsy."
"What do you propose, Julian?" said Adam. "I see you have come with a plan all ready made up your sleeve. Out with it, man!"
"Well, I have. There is a great lady in London who wishes to take Patsy and treat her as her own daughter—yes, a lady of the court, but not of the Regency court—the Princess Elsa-Frederica of Saxe-Brunswick—"
The Earl's eyes dropped suddenly upon the decanter. He put out his hand, and poured himself a glass. The name was that of one of the King's near relatives, married to the aged reigning prince of Saxe-Brunswick for reasons of State, but now returned to her family and living at Hanover Lodge close to Kew.
The two men at the table instantly found themselves on the verge of matters as it were within the veil. They looked uncomfortable, almost unhappy, as men do on these occasions. Only Julian Wemyss went on with his usual serenity.
"My friend offered to take the responsibility of Patsy off our hands. She is a wise woman and a good woman. There lives no man who dares say different—"
At this point both Adam Ferris and the Earl thought of the man in Vienna who had once dared, and whom the gentle-mannered duellist before them had sent quickly to his own place, with no more time given than to retract his words and receive holy absolution. For in the Austria of that time two gentlemen took a priest as well as a doctor with them to the field of honour. Then Adam Ferris remembered his lonely house below the dark green pines and demanded with a sudden darkening of humour, "And how long is this going to last?"
It was on the tip of Julian's tongue to answer, "Till Patsy is married." For indeed that had been his real thought. But he only said, "For a year or two, brother—it is better so—she runs the hills like a wild thing. Why, officers of his Majesty have boasted of having met and talked to her dressed only in yellow sandals and a blue bathing dress!"
"And, pray, whose fault was that?" her father demanded.
"Not mine," said Julian calmly, "she ran to save the Glenanmays lads from the press-gang; and if the sandals were mine, she ran better with them than without."
"So have I heard all that," said my Lord. "But if only she were a daughter of mine, I should not send her to London to be made as commonplace and artificial as everything else about the Hanoverian court."
"That, my Lord," said Julian, "is the opinion of a partial grandfather. Pardon me for my freedom, but if that boy Louis had been your son, you would have packed him off to dree his weird in the army. And yet he is a wise enough lad, and has come to no great harm—nay, I know him to be both brave and chivalrous—"
"He is a De Raincy," said his grandfather, rather haughtily.
"And as such should have a career," Julian continued without heeding the expression on my Lord's face.
"I have heard of a man who had the highest prize of the most distinguished of careers right in his grasp, yet one fine day dropped everything to go out in an unstarched linen shirt with another man at six o'clock in the morning!"
"When Louis de Raincy has my reasons for doing the like," said Julian, looking directly at the Earl, "you can welcome him home and let him watch the trees grow in the park. He will have given his proofs and learned the meaning of life."
"I beg your pardon!" said Lord Raincy, "I recognize that what you say is true. I am not sure, however, whether I can afford to let Louis go. But perhaps you came back from France to suggest as much to me."
Julian Wemyss laughed for the first time, a clear light-running laugh very pleasant to hear.
"I own I had it in my mind," he said, "all this night-hawking and saving of entrapped damsels is apt to make a boy romantic. Well, no harm for a while, I say. But if you follow my thought and excuse it—'tis not enough to set up house upon. I have no doubt that your grandson thinks himself over head and ears in love with my niece. What Patsy thinks I do not know—probably that young men were created for that purpose and that one is very like another."
"At his age I should certainly have been most deucedly in love with the lady," said the Earl.
"Just so," quoth Julian. "Now I do not know what plans you have for the future of the lad. I do not know Adam's mind. But even if your ideas happened to agree, which is unlikely—it would be a thousand times better for the young people to see something of life first. Let them have three years apart, meeting other people, getting little electric shocks which will surprise them amazingly, and then if you and Adam agree and the young people continue of a stable mind—why, there will be so much the less danger of their House of Life coming about their ears afterwards!"
* * * * *
The morning after the three Wise Men had sat in council together in the castle dining-room, Patsy Ferris and Louis Raincy climbed over opposite high walls and dropped almost simultaneously, and as naturally as ripe fruit falls, into the old orchard of Raincy. In the midst of the walled enclosure stood the marble mausoleum of the family, a heavily domed structure, drowned among high trees, through the narrow windows of which tombs and statues could be seen, and more than one De Raincy in his chain mail with his head on a marble pillow, his hands with the finger-tips joined, and a favourite dog at his feet.
The keys of the enclosure were in the Earl's own coffer, and the trees being too old for valuable fruit, the gardeners never went there, except once a year after the falling of the leaves, "to tidy up a bit, because one never knows what may happen," as old Steven the head gardener said. Even then the Earl came, and, sitting on a chair, surveyed their labours jealously, before locking up after them and going in to put away the key in its place for another year.
Patsy and Louis did not greet each other, though they had not met that morning. In the house one said, "Good morning," "I hope you passed a good night," and silly things like that, but not in the green shade of the old orchard. A weeping willow had been turned over in some winter gale many years ago, but had nevertheless managed to go on growing in its new position. It lay like a feathery plume along the side of the Raincy mausoleum. It was not the first time that Louis and Patsy had utilized it as a convenient seat.
The red squirrel who lived in one of the high pines dropped the husks of the larch tassels on which he was fond of browsing, upon their heads. But he did not chatter at them any more. He recognized a not remote kinship with people who had sense enough to come here to be out of the way, and he said as much to his own mate who was lying lazily curled in a big nest high up the bole of the pine which overtopped the white marble roof of the little chapel and looked clear away to sea and back to the towers of Castle Raincy.
"Patsy," said Louis, "they are going to separate us—I am sure of it. That was why your Uncle Julian came all the way from London."
"Well, let them," said Patsy, swinging her feet and poking at the grass with a branch she had stripped of willow leaves; "I suppose that even if you are at the castle and I at Cairn Ferris we can always come here or meet at the alder grove—why, there are a thousand places."
"Ah, but," said Louis, "I am to go into the army—and you are to go to London, to be taken care of by some great lady whom your Uncle knows!"
Patsy clapped her hands with sudden pleasure.
"Oh, that must be the Princess—Uncle Ju's princess—then I shall know her. It will be such fun!"
"No doubt—for you," said Louis, bitterly, "but since you are so glad to be away from me and with other people, you will the more easily forget all about me."
"Nonsense," said Patsy, "our people won't lock us in dungeons and feed us on bread and water. They don't do it now-a-days. And so will you like to go soldiering. Why, haven't you been moaning to me every day for years because your grandfather would not let you go to be an officer and see the world and fight? You owned that it was fun stopping the carriage and getting me out and riding home—"
"Oh, yes," said Louis, "I do not deny it a bit. I own I said so, but even there it was Stair Garland who had most to do with the real business."
"Well, you must own that he played the game pretty straight."
"Umph," growled Louis, "of course. So would any one!"
"Now, Louis," said Patsy, "don't be a hog. You know you have often said that Stair Garland was as good a gentleman as anybody. Of course, he is fond of me—"
"Has he told you?" cried Louis, starting up and glowering with clenched fists.
"What is that to you, sir?" Patsy retorted, biting her upper lip, while her black eyes shrank to glittering dots under the long lashes through which she considered the speaker. "Attend to your own business, Louis Raincy. It is no business of yours what Stair Garland has said to me, or what he may say!"
"But it is—it is!" cried Louis, shamelessly, stamping his foot.
Patsy swept her skirts aside and motioned with her hand.
"Sit down, little boy!" she said, "you are not built to sing on that key. I can. Your grandfather could, or Uncle Julian—"
"He has killed a man in a duel—another man, I mean—I heard them telling about it to-day in the stables...."
Patsy grew pale.
"Not the Prince!... He will be outlawed. Perhaps they will send him to prison or cut off his head."
"No, no," Louis broke in; "not the Prince, though that is a pity too. I should liked have a whack at him—"
"Well, never mind—Stair Garland had one, and they say that he will hardly ever walk straight again. But whom has Uncle Ju killed? I knew if he heard of it he would kill somebody. He did once before."
"Lord Wargrove. They fought on the beach at Calais. He came straight over to London to arrange about your going to his Princess, whoever she may be, and he arrived here at the castle while your father and my grandfather were sitting together after dinner spinning stories. He was for your going to London directly. He spoke to grandfather about me, too. Mother says he is a bloodthirsty wretch and no right Christian. But grandfather must have thought a lot of him or he would never have listened to a word about my going for a soldier. Now he has written to the Duke to get me a company, and there will be a lot of money to pay, also, which grandad won't like. I am to go to the depot immediately to learn the drill and so on. It is a blessing I can ride."
"I don't believe you will be sent to the war at all," said Patsy, "at least not for a while. So don't get cock-a-hoop. You will have a lot to learn, and you can persuade your grandfather, if you really want to see me, to open up his house in London, and then you can come and see me as often as you like."
"What, with a glorified Princess looking after you? I do not see myself, somehow!"
"Oh, you will learn," Patsy retorted carelessly. "Of course we have all got to do that. I don't want very much to leave all this. How should I? It is my country and my life, but I suppose they know best, and at any rate if they keep me too long, I can always run away. You could not do that, of course, when you are a soldier, for that would be desertion, and they would shoot you as they did Admiral Byng."
The bad business of their exodus from the Glens began to wear a brighter aspect for Louis Raincy. London with Patsy partook of the unknown and certainly adventurous. Every young fellow of spirit longs for money in his pocket to see the world, and at the worst Patsy would be well away from the neighbourhood of Stair Garland.
Then the next moment Louis was ashamed of his thought and strove to make amends.
"I wonder what will become of Stair if you go," he said. "I am afraid he will go the pace wilder than ever, and as like as not get into bad trouble."
"Before I go I shall speak to Stair myself," said Patsy with great determination. "He shot a prince of the blood for my sake; perhaps I can make him keep the peace for the same reason. At least for a while."
At this Louis sulked a little, so little indeed that no one but Patsy could have noticed. But she was down upon him like a hawk on a field mouse.
"See here," said Patsy, "this is no stock-in-trade to start out on. You sulk at the first mention of a man's name. I shall see hundreds in London. You will see as many women. I am only a little country girl staying with a great Princess, while you will be the heir to an earldom, besides having all the prestige of the uniform. Oh, I shall like that part of it myself, I don't deny. But I am not going to have you sulking because I speak to this man or dance with that man, or even tell you that I like one man better than another."
She paused, but Louis did not speak. So Patsy, after a long look at him, continued. "I don't know yet whether I love you as you mean, Louis Raincy—or whether I shall ever love any man. Certainly I am not going to cry about you or about anybody. I like you—yes—I like you better than any one I know except Uncle Julian, but not a bit like the lovers in books. So I suppose I am not in love. I would not have you climbing balconies or singing ditties in boats for half this country. I should want to be in bed and asleep. Some day, maybe, I shall love a man, and then I shall love him for take and have and keep. But it has just got to happen, Louis—and if it comes for somebody else, why, I rather think it will be so much the better for you. Come now, it is time to go home. Shake hands, and be friends—no, sir, nothing else. Wait a good quarter of an hour after I am gone. We don't know what is before either of us, but if you are going to whimper about what we can't help—I am not!"
She jumped on the first branches of the larch, still holding Louis's hand. As she let go she took a handful of his clustering curls and gave a cheerful tug to his head that brought the tears sharply to his eyes.
"Go off and try to fall in love with a dozen of the prettiest girls you can find in London, and if you don't succeed in three years, come back here and we will talk the matter all over again from the beginning."
She was now on the top of the wall. She turned her legs over deftly to the other side with a swirl of her skirts.
"Good-bye, Louis!" she said, waving a brown hand at him as she slid off into the wood. "Some day you will be more of a man than I, and then you will not let a girl put you down."
"Do you know what I think?" cried the boy, exasperated. "I think that you are a hard-hearted little wretch!"
But only the sound of Patsy's laughter rippled up mockingly from far down the glade.
PATSY HELD IN HONOUR
Patsy set out for London with some pomp and circumstance. Quite unwittingly she had made herself a kind of idol in the countryside. The tale had been told of how she had run to warn the Bothy of Blairmore, how she had faced the press-gang that the Glenanmays lads might have time to escape. She had been carried off and rescued. Men had been shot and died for her sake. Louis had taken her to Castle Raincy for safety, and now, girt with a formidable escort, she was setting out to visit London, where it was reported that she should see the King and be the guest of royalty itself.
The old Earl had offered his coach for the journey, and early one September morning he brought Patsy out on his arm, and threw in after her his own driving-coat, made after the fashion of the Four-in-Hand Club—the very "Johnny Onslow" model, with fifteen capes, silk-lined and finished,—lest she should take cold on the way.
"My dear," he said, "fain would I have made you a present of another sort, but your uncle tells me that you are amply supplied with pocket-money, and so you take with you an old man's good will, and would have his blessing, too, if only he thought that of any value!"
Patsy had said good-bye the night before to her Uncle Julian, and had received from him a netted purse which was even then weighing down her pretty beaded reticule. Patsy had not thought that there could be so much money in the world, and she had cried out, "Oh Uncle Ju, is all this really for me? What in the world shall I ever do with it?"
"You will spend it, my dear," he said smilingly, "that and far more. London is a great place for running away with money! There are so many pretty things to buy."
"Can't I give some of it to Stair Garland and his sister Jean?"
"I have no doubt that you would like to," said her uncle. "Was there ever a Wemyss yet who could be trusted not to throw away money? But it seems as if your Master Stair and I would be a good deal together in the future, and you may safely leave that part of it to me. Stair and Jean shall not lack."
"Uncle Ju," cried Patsy, almost dancing, "are you going to smuggle? What fun!"
"As you say, what fun! Well, there is some smuggling to be done, but I am the contraband goods this time, and I must trust your friend Stair to help me over the sea. He and I are marked down, and we shall both have to run and hide so long as we stay in this country. Even such paladins as he and I cannot go righting the wrongs of distressed maidens without a certain danger, when the ogres and giants are royal Princes and their favourites."
* * * * *
Thus, on the morning of the twenty-fourth of September, just one hundred years ago, Patsy was handed into the coach by Earl Raincy, who stood back with bared head to see her ride out of the courtyard of the Castle. Her father was on one side, mounted on his big black horse, and Louis Raincy guarded the left flank on "Honeypot." He was to convoy the party as far as Carlisle and then return.
But at the gate of Ladykirk stood a dainty old lady, equipped for journey. Miss Aline was going to London. She was quite shaking with the excitement, and pulled at her openwork mitts with smiling expectancy.
"My dear," she said, "I am coming with you. I think it is more proper. I shall set you down at the house where you propose to stay, and I have taken a room at Ibbetson's Hotel, which is a well-known house, at very reasonable charges, much frequented by the clergy."
"Oh, Miss Aline," cried Patsy, "I am sure you are giving yourself a great deal of trouble. You would be much better at Ladykirk."
"'Deed then no," said Miss Aline, dropping into the vacant place beside Patsy. "'Tis the only chance I shall ever have to see London before I die, and I have given Tibbie, the cook, all instructions about the plums and the heather honey. The jam has been a great fret to me this year, and I deserve a bit jaunt. So I will e'en ride in this braw carriage all the road to London, and Eelen Young, the lass that does for me, will bring on my kists by the coach. She is a clever wench, and very likely will be at Ibbetson's before me. At any rate I have nothing with me but this bandbox with a night-rail and a change of apparel, such as is suitable for posting-inns. You have, I see, plenty of men-folk to escort you, and, as I jalouse, more to follow—but what you need is a well-born gentlewoman of comfortable means for a duenna! Oh, ye will try to come round me with your 'Miss Aline's,' and your coaxing. But as long as ye are under my care, off to bed ye shall march at a reasonable hour. Then I shall lock the door on ye and keep the key under my pillow. I lost ye once out of Ladykirk when ye slippit out at the back door. But this time ye shall have a better gaoler. Hear ye that, Mistress Patsy?"
There was nothing to be said, and, indeed, it was a great sacrifice which Miss Aline was making in the upturning of all her cherished habits, and the abandoning of her dear Ladykirk in the season of all others which she preferred—the time, as she expressed it, "of the ingathering of the fruits of the earth."
The "more to follow," by which Miss Aline had intimated an addition to Patsy's escort, was in waiting a little farther on at the head of the Long Wood. Stair Garland and twenty-five of his best horsed and most gallant lads stood waiting to fall in behind the carriage. As Patsy came near she put her head out at the window and cried, "Oh, Stair, is it safe?"
But Stair only smiled, and took his broad blue bonnet off with a sweep which caused the eagle's plume in it to touch the dust. The twenty-five behind him uncovered also. They made a gallant show, every man with his carbine slung over his shoulder by the broad bandolier strap which crossed his chest, his cloak and provender rolled on the pommel of his saddle, and his bridle and spurs jingling as the ponies fidgeted restlessly in the narrow space.
Then Stair commanded, "File out there," as the carriage rumbled into the shades of the wood and took the direction of the White Loch, and Patsy remembered that other journey and the dreadful uncertainty of it. She shut her eyes and recalled it till she shuddered so that Miss Aline asked if she were cold. She had never lost faith in her friends even then, and now Louis was riding close to the left window of the carriage, and Stair Garland, with his horsemen, guarding her, sending her forth out of her own country as hardly a Princess had ever left Galloway.
They sent the Earl's team back from Dumfries. Stair Garland and his company rode with them over the wild marshes of Solway moss to the Bridge of Gretna, where they formed into two lines, and between them Patsy passed into England. Patsy looked out and kissed her hand to them. They were all sitting still on their wiry little beasts except Stair, who had dismounted, and stood uncovered till the carriage, with its two flanking riders, had passed into the distance. Stair got blown a kiss all to himself, but if he saw it he took no notice, and so was left standing pensive and motionless by the end of Gretna Bridge, the last thing that Patsy could see on Scottish ground, except the top of Criffel wreathed in thin pearly mist of the evening.
Louis, save for the glory of keeping on a little farther than Stair Garland, might very profitably have gone back with the troop of twenty-five. Few would observe too closely the road chosen by such a cavalcade. Supervisors drew back into convenient shelters. Outposts on craggy summits, after one long look, shut up the reglementary brass three-draw spy-glass and sat down with their backs to the road to smoke a pipe. But Louis Raincy was to stay a night at Corby Castle before turning his face homeward again towards his mother and grandfather.
When the time came to part Patsy held out her hand frankly to Louis.
"Thank you for coming so far," she said, "I shall not say good-bye, for we shall soon be meeting in London, and you will be ever so grand in your new uniform. The ladies will dote upon you. I shall tell them all you are coming."
"Patsy," said poor Louis, "you are very cruel to me. You know I shall only care for you in all the world."
"Fudge!" said Patsy irreverently, "you will like every single one of the pretty girls—the really pretty girls, I mean—who admire you, and if you don't know I shall tell you what to say to them."
"Yes, I know, so you think now, but wait till you have had two or three months of being an officer of dragoons and the heir to an earldom—I wager that no Waters of Lethe would make you forget your old comrade Patsy Ferris so completely!"
"Oh, Patsy," groaned Louis, "do not laugh!—You did not use to talk like that in our nest under the big beech. Do not break my heart!"
"Strange to think," mused Patsy, "that it will not even affect his appetite. Louis Raincy, cock your beaver on the side of your head. Cry, 'I don't care a button for you, Patsy Ferris' and ride away without once looking behind, and if you could do that—I verily believe I should run after you. But let me tell you, sir, whimpering never won a woman—at least not one like me!"
She turned and entered the carriage, which started at once on its pleasant journey through the Westmoreland dales towards the south.
Miss Aline was sitting with her handkerchief to her eyes when Patsy sat down beside her.
"Why, what in the world is the matter, dear Miss Aline?" cried Patsy.
"I do think you might have been kinder to him," said the old lady. "I could not bear you to send him away like that."
"All for his good," said Patsy easily. "He has been too long mollied over by his mother, besides getting all his own way from his grandfather. But ... before I finish I shall make a man of Master Louis!"
"And Stair Garland?" ventured Miss Aline, taking one swift glance sidelong at Patsy's dark, decided face.
"Oh, Stair Garland," said Patsy with emphasis, "he is a man already. As old Dupont, my French governess, used to say, Stair Garland was born with the 'panache.'"
"And what does that mean?"
"Why, that he was born with his hat-plume in the wind and his hand on a sword-hilt. But I am not sure that he has not been born a century or so too late. What a soldier of fortune he would make, what a cavalry leader, what an adventurer—what a lover!"
"But, my dear," said Miss Aline, speaking very softly, "what a very dangerous man to think of marrying!"
Patsy slid her hand under the silken half-mitt of fine lace and stroked the little dry, trembling hand which nestled into hers.
"Little angel, I am not thinking of marrying Stair Garland," she laughed; "rest easy in that dear peaceful soul of yours."
"I am so glad," said Miss Aline, furtively dabbing at her eyes. "Louis, there, is like a boy of my own, and he has always been good and brave. One feels so safe with him—"
"Oh, please don't turn me against the poor lad!" cried Patsy, stuffing her fingers into her ears that she might hear no more of Louis Raincy's praises.
"And the other—that Stair Garland?" Miss Aline continued, with a certain unusual sharpness, "he is so wild. He rides at the head of gangs of smugglers and defies everybody, even the minister and my Lord Raincy. I am sure that he would be very insusceptible to proper domestic influences. I doubt if even you could tame him."
"I doubt if I should want him tamed!" said Patsy, with the same dark gleam in her eye with which her uncle had gone out upon Calais sands to kill my Lord Wargrove.
And at this gentle Miss Aline sighed. She did not always understand Patsy.
UNCLE JULIAN'S PRINCESS
A blue-eyed, placid woman, with abundant fair hair of the sort which hardly ever turns grey, came forward to receive Patsy. The drawing-room of Hanover Lodge was long, and the windows looked on the river. Patsy flitted forward with her usual lightness. She was not in the least intimidated, but only regarded with immense interest the woman who had loved her Uncle Julian and was still his faithful friend.
Patsy had had it in her mind to kiss the hand of the Princess, but she, divining her intention, caught the girl in her arms and pressed her close, kissing her on the cheek and forehead after some foreign fashion.
"You have come from Julian," she murmured, "you are very like him—the daughter of his only sister. I shall love you well!"
"And this is my father!" said Patsy, who as usual took command of the situation, as soon as there was a man anywhere about to be told what to do. "Come forward, father!"
But though the laird of Cairn Ferris was only a country gentleman who had seldom left the bounds even of his parish, he was come of good blood and had been well brought up. He kneeled on one knee to kiss her hand, perhaps not with the courtly grace of the ex-ambassador, his brother-in-law, but still with a dignity which was altogether manly.
"I am glad to see you, Mr. Ferris of Cairn Ferris," said the Princess Elsa. "I have never seen your beautiful land, but the best and wisest men I have known have belonged to your nation—the courtliest and truest gentlemen, both with sword and tongue."
She was silent a moment, and both Patsy Ferris and her father understood that she was thinking of Julian Wemyss. Then she added very thoughtfully, "I have spent a great part of my life among men who do not speak the truth to women, and would think themselves shamed if they did. Therefore I have learned how to cherish men of their word, and these I have found among men of your nation."
"I fear me, your Highness," said Adam, smiling darkly, "that I could not give my countrymen so wholesale a certificate for truth-speaking; but I can also promise you that our Patsy will not lower your opinion of her nation in that respect. Rather she speaks before she thinks, this maid, and so gets herself and other people into much trouble."
Adam remained at Hanover Lodge for lunch, a meal which his hostess called breakfast, and which was served in the continental fashion, every dish separate. The well-styled domestics, in their black liveries on which the device of the galloping horse stood out on each side of the collar, moved noiselessly about, seeming to fade away and leave the room empty when there was no need for their presence, and yet to be behind everybody's chair at the right moment. He bethought him of his own honest James and William who often had scarcely time to discard the gardening clogs or lay down the wood-splitting axe in order to pull on their livery coats, and so began to understand that there were degrees of perfection in servitude.
Certainly Patsy would learn many things here, but would she ever come back to be just his own wild, frank, helter-skelter maid? He doubted it. And it was no comfort to him to reflect that it was for that very purpose he was letting her go, that she might be under the care of this great lady. Well, his brother-in-law must know what was best, certainly, and the Princess—Julian's Princess—appeared to take very well to Patsy. But oh, Cairn Ferris and the Abbey Burnfoot would be lonely places without her. And the lads who had escorted her like a queen! Clearly it was better that she should not run altogether wild, being what she was and the favour of men so easy to be won. But—it was hard, also, for he was a lonely man. And it was with a very heavy heart that Adam Ferris took leave of his daughter.
No, he would not stay. He was responsible for Patsy's share in the general quiet of the country. In her absence he knew very well that the temptation to break out would be almost too great for Stair Garland and his friends. He would have more influence with them than any one else. Therefore he would betake himself back to Galloway straightway.
To the Princess, who demanded a reason for this haste, he answered, "Madam, I must go back and keep my country quiet. We are, you know, somewhat turbulent in the North."
"You do well," she said gravely, speaking as one accustomed to government. "I hear that there is much lawlessness in your lands, and for that reason I am glad to be able to shelter your daughter. It is very well for men to wield the sword and hold the scales of justice, but a young maid will be safer in Hanover Lodge."
"All the same I am losing one of my best lieutenants—indeed the best," said Patsy's father.
And with that he kissed her and was gone. Patsy watched him as he walked down the avenue towards the river, where he would find a waterman to carry him to town. Adam Ferris had a stoop in his shoulders she never remembered to have noticed before. For the first time it struck her that her father was growing old.
Something caught her in the throat, something dry and hard that swelled but would not break. She could have run after him and told him that she would not stay without him. But the Princess, who had been watching keenly, took her by the hand and, whispering that she had something to say to her, drew her into a little boudoir looking out on a garden, all shaven lawns, artificial ponds, in which stately swans moved slowly up and down with a barge-like gallant manner as though they were accustomed to take part in royal processions.
"And now," said the Princess Elsa, drawing Patsy down on a sofa by the window, "let me look at you that I may see what it is that sets all the men agate to be carrying you off, and fighting duels about you. I suppose a woman cannot always tell, just because she is a woman. But I can see that you are vivid with life. You shine like a black pearl—"
Patsy drew in her breath sharply at the word.
"That was what he called me," she said nervously, looking about the room as if she expected her sometime captor to appear.
"He? Who? That wretch of a Lyonesse? Do not trouble your pretty head. He will not come near Hanover Lodge—neither he nor any of his brothers, except perhaps poor Billy."
The Princess did not further embarrass Patsy by prolonging her inspection. She began to talk of Galloway and of the people whom Patsy knew. Nothing loath was Patsy to pour out her soul on such a subject. This was Uncle Julian's Princess, and though she seemed older than she had anticipated—fairy princesses should at least always remain slim—she had all the gracefully placid beauty and the exquisite manners she had looked forward to.
Patsy told of Louis Raincy and his grandfather—of Castle Raincy and the four hundred-year-old feud between the Raincys and the Ferrises. She told the story of her rescue, and how Stair had shot the Duke, while Louis kept the horses to be ready for the return.
"And what is this Stair Garland?" the Princess asked. "The son of a yeoman, and not the eldest son. Ah, I understand—the cadet, the adventurous one. We have some such in our armies, and many more in the Austrian service. Perhaps we will send your Stair to wear the white uniform. It would become him rarely. And which of the two do you like the best?"
The last question was unexpected, but it was not a habit of Patsy's to be embarrassed—at least, not for long.
"Oh," she said crisply, "these are only two—there are others, and so far I have felt no desire to make any choice. I foresee that if the malady takes me, I am more likely to run away with the man than he with me. Uncle Ju says that is the way with our family. I am really more like my mother's people than the Ferrises—so at least every one says."
"Did not your father run away with an earl's daughter from the door of some ball-room?" the Princess asked.
"It was the Edinburgh Assembly rooms, but Uncle Ju says that it was my mother who ran away with him!"
"That," said the Princess, in a low tone, "I can very well believe. So you have yet to fall in love! Well, my advice to you is, do not put it off too long, young lady. And when once you have made up your mind, stick to your man though he were a baker's apprentice!"
"You talk just like Uncle Ju, Princess," said Patsy, smiling, "only that he wants me to see as much of the world as I can before—taking your advice."
"What does your Uncle say?" the Princess Elsa asked gently, not looking at the girl but beyond her out into the hazily bright garden.
"Well, if you know him, you will remember that it is difficult to separate what he really means from what he only says, because he means to tease. But at any rate he warns me not to run off with the first tight-girthed youth with a curly head who tells me he loves me. As if I were likely to! Why, I can hardly remember the time when somebody was not making love to me, and I do not see that it has made very much difference."
"No," mused the Princess, a smile of quiet amusement in her blue eyes, "but you are not at the world's end yet, and now we must go to town and get something wherewithal to fit you out."
"Uncle Ju has given me such a lot of money, Princess," said Patsy, jumping up, "shall I go and bring it? There is enough to pay for ever so many dresses. If I were to live to be a thousand I don't think I could spend all that!"
"Your Uncle Julian is a wonderful man," said the Princess Elsa, "he has a purse as long and as ready as his sword. And what he gave you was no more than a little pin-money, just to keep in your pocket, so that you would not need to be coming all the time to me for everything that you might want. But he has put a great sum in the bank for me to use for you, and so you need have no care as to your ball and court dresses and all your fineries—except the worry of having them fitted, which I find a very great one indeed."
Then the Princess broke out in a new place.
"And did Julian send you all the way to London without a maid? Surely such a man knew better than that. I shall scold him when I see him, but I suppose it will be a long time before he dare come to London."
"He said that he would first need to make his peace with the Prince Regent, and I don't believe he will do anything in the matter himself."
"Well, he has friends, and we can afford to let the killing of such a man as Lord Wargrove in a loyal duel stand to his credit a little while longer. Yet perhaps we may see him sooner than we expect. Your uncle, child, is at once the most reliable and the most unexpected of men!"
Patsy let this drop. It was clearly a reflection of the Princess upon which she was not required to comment. So she went back to the question of travelling without a maid.
"It is true," she said, "that I had no maid—these are rather scarce in Galloway. I only know of Lady Raincy (Louis's mother, that is) who has one, and she is always changing. But the dearest lady in the world came with me—you would love her—Miss Aline Minto of Balmacminto. One day I shall bring her to see you!"
"What is the reason she did not come with you here?" said the Princess.
"Dear lady," said Patsy (the minx had learned her modes of address from her uncle), "she is too shy. No, she is not at all the type of old maid—she is not an old maid at all. She has a good estate, and I know that Uncle Ju has to go to Ladykirk often to keep at bay suitors for the estate and for Miss Aline's hand."
"Ah, has he, indeed?" said the Princess, at once showing interest; "then I must make haste to see this Miss Aline of Ladykirk—what a pretty name and style. I don't believe I could get my tongue round the title of her estate. And so Julian acts as her protecting angel—"
"Oh," said Patsy calmly, "there is no love-making in it, you understand—they are both too old, of course. But Julian is the handsomest and richest bachelor in our parts, and Miss Aline—well, she is Miss Aline and owner of the Balmacminto estates. So I think she and uncle make—what is it called?—a kind of defensive and offensive alliance. I know Uncle Ju had nearly to fight old Sir Bunny Bunny the other day. He interviewed the old fellow. He had come to propose his son, who is such a donkey that the very village urchins bray after him and pretend to munch thistles!"
"Let us go and see Miss Aline!" said the Princess, and rang the bell. "Where did you say she was living—at a hotel—why did she not go to friends? It is so much more convenable for a lady travelling alone!"
"Well," said Patsy, "I think her aunt the countess is away, and I am not sure whether she would wish to put herself under an obligation. Then Lord Raincy is coming to town next week or so to place his grandson in the dragoons, but his house is not opened up yet. Of course, Miss Aline would have gone there. My father wanted to take her back to Ladykirk—it is so safe and peaceful. No soldiers or press-gangs or smugglers ever go there, for Miss Aline is like something sacred—so unable to take care of herself that everybody must look after her!"
"And particularly Julian?" observed the Princess, with a spark in the blue eyes.
"As you say, dear lady," retorted Patsy maliciously, "especially Uncle Julian!"
"Order the carriage!" said the Princess.
MISS ALINE TAKES COMMAND
"Indeed, mem," said the dainty little lady, as Patsy and the Princess were ushered into her tiny sitting-room, "but this is more than kind and far abune my thoughts and deservings. But I wish it had been at Ladykirk that I had been permitted to receive you, and not in this—this pig-stye, that has not been cleansed for a hundred year, and as for dusting—I was just tearing up an auld bit o' body-linen to show the craiturs how a room should be dusted."
"But your maid?" said the Princess, "I know you have brought one. Why not let her do a thing like that?"
"Eelen Young—oh, mem, it's little ye ken—and how should ye, being as they tell me siccan a great leddy, the snares and the traps that lie waiting for the feet of the young and the unwary here in this michty 'caravansy'! My leddy, there's not a decent lass in the place—only men to serve ye and make the beds. 'Thank ye kindly,' says I, 'but I, Aline Minto, shall make my ain.' So after I had let Eelen Young sleep with me one night, I packed her aff wi' the next coach and paid David Colvill, the guard, to look after her to Dumfries, where she has a sister in service."
The Princess had taken an instant fancy, as Patsy knew she would, to the little Dresden china shepherdess of a lady who would never grow older. Everything about her was irresistible—the soft grey ripple of hair about her brow, the shy girlish eyes, the long delicate hand with the fingers which, in spite of their declared readiness to work, trembled a little, and the voice which spoke the Northern speech with such clear-cut gentility, that the words fell on the ear with a certain cool freshness, like the splash of water in a fountain or the tinkle of a burn flowing over pebbles of whinstone.
"You must come away with us," said the Princess, "I have a great house in the midst of gardens not far from the town, and horses which are greatly in need of exercise—when it pleases you to use them, you will confer a real favour. So let Patsy here help you to make up your trunks, and come back home with us!"
"Oh, do, Miss Aline!" pleaded Patsy, "that will be the very happiest thing I can think of."
"Bide a wee," said the old lady, motioning Patsy to be silent. "I am heartily obligated to your Highness for her maist kind offer, and I will accept it on yae condeetion. Which is, that if ever ye come to Scotland on any errand whatsoever, or have need of a bit nook where ye can forget the warld—the like comes whiles to the greatest—ye will come straight to me at Ladykirk—"
"I promise," said the Princess, smiling sadly. "I have great need to profit by your offer now. But at present I am not my own. I must wait. Still, I do promise you that if I live I shall use my first freedom by coming to visit you at Ladykirk. Patsy here has been telling me about it. She says it is a Paradise!"
"It's weel enough," said Miss Aline, "naething very grand about it but the garden, and that is real famous for the plums and the berries. But I daresay ye will hae plenty goosegogs o' your ain. How far are ye on with your preserving, mem?"
"Dear me," said the Princess, "really, I never thought of asking. But I shall see as soon as we get home. I promise you that you shall have the command of all the idle gardeners at Hanover Lodge if you will only come with me."
"Is your jeely-pan good solid copper or only one of thae nesty French things that need to be lacquered every month?"
"Indeed," said the Princess Elsa, "I ought to know, and I am ashamed not to know, having been (for some time at least) a German haus-frau. But living so long in London and away from my country, has made me shamefully careless. You must teach me, dear Miss Aline, so that I need not be put to shame when I come to see the perfection with which you do everything at Ladykirk!"
"Hoot, the lass Patsy has been bletherin'," snapped Miss Aline, "things gang nae better at Ladykirk than elsewhere, if I were not for ever at their tails. My heart is fair broken to think o' the cook and Eelen Young makin' a hash of the apple jeely and the damson jam. They are sure to forget the maist needfu' thing of a'—and that's neither more nor less than an extra under-sheet o' good writing-paper, cut to size and weel soakit in whusky. And as for the mistakes they will make in the labelling and dating, it's a sin and a shame to think on't. But at least I can, and shall, go over every single pot as soon as I set foot within the hoose. Then, if I find anything wrang, Guid peety the idle hizzies!"
In half an hour Miss Aline was speeding westward by the side of the Princess, Patsy in great delight sitting opposite to them with her back to the horses. The great lady was charmed with the ingenuous frankness of Miss Aline's comments, and signed to Patsy to let her say all that came into her mind.
In Saint James's Street they crossed the Regent driving out to the park.
"And wha's that frisky body in the frilled sark?" said Miss Aline, who, like many of her countryfolk of the time, regularly honoured her country by exaggerating its accent and speech in converse with the Southron.
"The Regent!" said the Princess, returning the royal bow with the very slightest inclination of her head.
"So that's the Regent," said Miss Aline, with a critical glance over her shoulder, "weel, to meet him you would never take him to be mickle mair wickeder than other folk—only sleepier and a dooms deal fatter!"
Soon the town was left behind, and they had the delight of a drive out to Kew by the riverside before them. Miss Aline was delighted and admitted that, though not, of course, so beautiful as Ladykirk, England had its points all the same, and that certainly neither the Abbey Burn nor the Mays Water could be compared to the Thames for size—though, she added, as she observed the patient wistful array of anglers on the bank, that she greatly doubted if any of these fisherfolk would bring back six dozen of trout as Stair Garland often did on a morning after a spate.
Miss Aline declared herself charmed with Kew and craned her head to see the old king's palace—the "rightful king," as she called the stricken Majesty of Britain. For she was attached to George the Third with a real affection, which dated from her childhood and her mother's teachings. The Regent and the Regency party had no friend in her, so that, for this reason alone, she was a welcome guest at Hanover Lodge.
To the astonished minion who opened the door she held out her hand, saying, "Good-day to you—I kenna your first name, but hoo are the wife and the bairns?"
The solemn footman stammered that he was an unmarried man, and the Princess laughed heartily.
"I shall remember your lesson in politeness when I come to Ladykirk," she said. "Is it James or Gilbert who opens the door?"
"That just depends, my leddy," said Miss Aline, "sometimes one is more fit to be seen than another. But either o' them would take it sore to heart if ye did not speer for the health o' his family."
"Indeed, it is a good custom, and much used in Germany, where I come from," said the Princess.
"I'm thinking," said Miss Aline, "that in that country they will show more kindliness and hameliness to the folk that serve them than in this cauldrife England."
"You are wholly right, Miss Aline," the Princess answered. "I remember that when my father made a joke—it was always a good, old, time-honoured favourite—he would look about to see that all the servants were smiling at the jest. They had heard it a hundred times before, but he always liked to see that they were enjoying it along with the family."
So Miss Aline was installed at Hanover Lodge and, before half a day was over, had wormed her way into the confidence of the housekeeper, had won a right to use the kitchen, had consulted the cook on several recondite subjects and furnished her with a new receipt for elderberry wine, and had taken over the whole matter of the preserving for the year. She had arrived a little late, but the gardener had orders to procure for her from Covent Garden all that her heart desired to boil and sweeten and stir and put up in crocks and jars, till there was a sweet smell all about Hanover Lodge which carried out even to the wherries that went by in mid-stream, causing the rowers to turn their heads and sniff longingly.
LOUIS RAINCY ENDURES HARDNESS
Two months later the two courts, that of the Queen and that of the Regent, were equally aware of the rising of a new star of beauty and wit—a certain Miss Patricia Ferris, for whom, it was whispered, more than one duel had already been fought—a royal prince wounded, and a gallant ex-ambassador driven into exile.
The Princess Elsa, of course, had no dealings with the coteries of Carlton House and the Brighthelmstone Pavilion. But as often as Queen Charlotte held a reception or issued from her darkened palace of Windsor, the Princess brought Patsy from Kew to help her Majesty to entertain.
Once, even, she had been taken by the Princess Elizabeth to visit the King. In the same ground-floor suite of rooms which Charles I had used on his passage from Carisbrook to the scaffold, she found a blind old man sitting alone, and playing quietly on the harpsichord. His beard was long and silvery, and he smiled as he played. He heard their steps and stopped. Then he said, graciously, "Come hither, Eliza—who is your friend?"
On being told that it was a young Scots lady, a friend of the Princess of Saxe-Hanover-Brunswick, the King laughed a little as was his wont. Then he went on talking rapidly, more to himself than to his visitors.
"There is good sense in Elsa, though she did lead us a dance with her foolish fancy for our ambassador at Vienna—I forget his name. She had the Hapsburg temper too, and would have run off with him if he had given her any encouragement. But he knew what was due to a princess and stood aside, telling her to be a good girl and marry old Brunschweig. The Emperor of Austria owed him something for that—as well as our people. I only hope that he got his deserts. Eh, what's that you say, Eliza?"
"Only that this young lady is the niece of Mr. Julian Wemyss," said his daughter.
The old king chuckled a little and patted the girl's unseen head.
"Is she dark or fair?—What—what? Dark—and very pretty! Well, that makes it more necessary that she should be looked after. Ah, I see well that if both the Emperor and I have forgotten to do something for Wemyss, Elsa is repaying him herself. Good-bye, good-bye, I am weary this morning. Bid Elsa come to see me another day. Surely she is staying in the Castle—she at least has not forsaken me like the rest."
"Oh, no," said the Princess Elizabeth, "Elsa and Miss Ferris are here nearly every day helping the Queen. And yesterday they had all the boys from Eton College in love with them. They would not look at us at all. We intend to leave Miss Ferris at home for the future."
They went out, and neither one looked at the other nor spoke of what they had left behind them. But in Patsy's mind ran, repeated over and over, the words, "I have seen the King!—I have seen the King!" And in the darkened chambers behind the closed doors, began again the light tinkle of the harpsichord.
Of all the visitors at Hanover Lodge, the most welcome and the most constant was a certain Eitel, Prince of Altschloss, a young man of many accomplishments, of gentle manners, and, for a Prince of the Empire, of a quite extraordinary modesty.
The Princess Elsa had known him from childhood. Indeed, she had been a friend of his mother in the days when both were young and the two of them had something to communicate to each other every day which no one else must hear.
The Prince had come on a visit to his god-mother, and had remained on at the Austrian Embassy, gaining that diplomatic experience which in later life stood him in such great stead.
To the Prince of Altschloss the two months had been of great moment. They had taught him to be humble and distrustful of himself. Patsy had treated him no better and no worse than any other of her admirers, and the tonic, though doubtless bitter, had been good for the young man's soul.
He had been one of the foremost, though not the most foolish, in the party of the Dukes. But now he had quite left behind the reckless prodigality and imbecility of the Regency clique. He now asserted his independence by frequenting exclusively what was known as the Windsor "Frump Court," in spite of the jeers of his ex-comrades.
He spoke excellent English with a slight foreign accent which was not German, and he used it freely to inform Patsy of his constant and unutterable devotion. Prince Eitel of Altschloss was a tall young man with extremely black eyes, a frank, open face, and the quietest manner in the world. But he had already taken part in half-a-dozen great battles, and had kept his corner of the Empire clear of the predatory bands which followed the march of all Napoleonic armies.
This was the youth who discovered that Patsy, dressed in the fashions of the day, going to operas, balls and race-courses, was the same Patsy who had spoken in the gate with the press-gang at the Bothy of Blairmore. But other things had happened during these months.
For nearly eight weeks the Earl of Raincy's house in Piccadilly had been open, and Lieutenant Louis de Raincy had frequently appeared in his new uniform at Hanover Lodge.
Patsy had been rejoiced to see him, and the Princess had been kind to him in a quiet way, which yet could by no means be called enthusiastic.
"My old playmate," Patsy had said in introducing him to her hostess.
"And my tyrant ever since I can remember," Louis had added. "I cannot remember ever once being allowed my own way in all the years when we played together."
"There was a family feud," said Patsy, explaining the situation, "that drew us together. Because, you see, each was forbidden to the other. So we said, 'A plague on both your houses,' and found out new nests under more remote trees where we could meet and talk without fear of being caught."
This romantic tale of their early friendships did not appear to be quite to the taste of the Princess Elsa, for she turned away and left them to recall the past at their leisure. She had other views for her little friend than to send her back whence she came as the wife of a mere captain of horse, even though he might be the heir to an earldom in the hungry North.
"Louis," said Patsy, as soon as they were alone, "what would you do if I told you that your uniform became you?"
"I know what I should like to do!" retorted the young man.
"Well, what?" Patsy did not shun the danger.
"Kiss you for saying so," said the daring youth.
"See what it is to wear the king's colours even for a week," Patsy murmured reflectively; "it gives even Louis Raincy a more wholesome opinion of himself. I am glad. I cannot quite yield to the suggestion, but I respect you more for having made it. For the present be content with this."
And she gave him her hand to kiss, which he executed without any of the grace which the Prince would have put into the ceremony, and with a grumble that, though small fish were reported better than none, this was a very meagre spratling indeed.
"Think," said Patsy, mischievously, "what a change since our last afternoon in the Nest under the beech-tree. That very hand which you kissed so unwillingly just now, boxed the ears of this officer of his Majesty's Blue Dragoons."
"I prefer the old style even if my ears were boxed," said Louis. "I wish you had never gone away and that I had followed my grandfather's advice and stayed beside you."
"Nonsense," said Patsy, "you will change your mind very shortly. How many girls have you fallen in love with already? I hear you go to the Regent's entertainments. Well, you will find there sweetmeats for all tastes, some perhaps a little spoilt by keeping!"
"You know very well, Patsy, that I shall never care about any other girl than yourself. I never have and I never shall!"
"I bet you six pairs of Limerick gloves that you will not be able to say as much for yourself in six months," cried Patsy.
"Done with you, Patsy," said Louis, "and you may as well pay now, for I am not going to change my mind."
"That I shall wait and see. But beware, I shall have the best of information. We are not of the Duke's party, and do not go to their entertainments, but we hear all that goes on nevertheless."
"I only go because of my service," said Louis, somewhat dishonestly; "the Duke of York, who is once more Commander-in-Chief, has put me on his staff."
"Ah," said Patsy, unkindly, "like master, like man! It is a good proverb."
"Patsy," mourned Louis, leaning forward with his head between his hands in a very unmartial manner, "you know better than that. You forget the White Loch and our ride home to Castle Raincy. You went with me because you trusted me. You took my word about my grandfather liking you to come to him for safety, and now you—you treat me as if I were a child."
"A child—why, so you are—a dear, nice boy, and I love you, and see, I will pat you on the head!"
The officer of his Majesty instantly put himself into such a boyish posture of defence that Patsy laughed.
"So you don't want to be patted on the head—well, then, it shan't! But all the same I have not forgotten—neither what you did, nor what was done for us both by your comrade of the White Water—by the way, have you heard from him lately?"
"Not I," said Louis, almost fiercely, "but I make no doubt that you have! You would not offer to pat Stair Garland on the head? He is a man, you know—you said it yourself."
"Louis," said Patsy, "you are not acting up to your uniform. I have no conventions with you, and you have no claim to know with whom it may please me to correspond—"
Louis rose to his feet with a very pale face, but before he had time to put his anger into words, a servant announced—
"His Highness the Prince of Altschloss!"
Patsy advanced, smiling and held out her hand. She seemed to walk right through poor Louis, who felt himself terribly belittled and ill-used. The Prince did all the things naturally and gracefully, which Louis had so blundered over. He gratified the young dragoon with the slightest bow and the longest stare. After which he immediately turned his attention to Patsy, who, on her side—the shameless minx!—seemed to like nothing better than meeting him half-way.
Louis Raincy grew more and more exasperated. He could not stay, yet if he took himself off in any undignified manner, he felt acutely that they would certainly laugh at him. He wished that he could challenge that prince and all such insolent foreigners—yes, and kill them one by one like a second Julian Wemyss! This thought cheered him, and he had reached his fifth or sixth homicide when Patsy recalled him to himself.
"Miss Aline is in her parlour, Louis. Will you go through the conservatory and tell her that the Prince is here?"
"She wants to be rid of me," the mind of Louis Raincy went storming on to itself. "She is a hard-hearted, deceitful—"
But while he was thus inwardly detailing the character of Patsy to ease his anger, he was also by force of habit obeying her orders.
He found Miss Aline with a letter in her hand and a flush of excitement on her face, which the young man was too occupied with his own affairs to seek to trace to its cause.
"Why, Louis Raincy," cried the old lady, "is it officer's manners to come headfirst into a leddy's room like a bullock breaking dykes? I have seen you do better than that before ever you put on the king's coat."
"I beg your pardon, Miss Aline," said the boy penitently. "I did not know that the door would open so quickly or that you would be so near. I have a message—from Pat—from Miss Ferris—"
"Eh?" cried the old lady, cramming the letter into her pocket; "wha's Miss Ferris?—I dinna ken her—and I thought that you didna either!"
"Well then," said Louis, withdrawing into his sulks, "she bade me tell you that the Prince is with her and will be glad to see you!"
"Oh, he will, will he noo," quoth Miss Aline; "weel, there's a heap o' princes. I hae been meeting them rayther thick thae last twa-three months. And this yin can juist wait."
"But, Miss Aline, I think—it will be better for you to go at once—I am not going back to—to be insulted and treated like a child. I want to go, Miss Aline."
The old lady held up her hands from which the deep lace sleeves hung gracefully, while the half-mitts clung to the narrow wrists.
"Hoots—hoots, laddie! What's a' this? Ye hae been quarrelling with Patsy. For shame, Louis—eh, what's that? My puir lad, dinna tak' things to heart. She's a guid lass—what should onybody ken aboot her that I do not ken? Laddie, stop greetin'—Patsy would be terrible angry if she kenned I telled ye—but she wants ye to be a strong man—'a leader and not a follower.' Says she, 'I shall never care for a man that I can maister.'"
"Then she will never care for me," mourned poor Louis. "I can do things for her sake—I can do as she bids me, and I am always ready. But, Miss Aline, it does not seem to be the least good. That prince—"
"Never ye mind aboot princes—they are kittle-cattle, and Patsy was juist letting you see that ye should carry a speerit in ye that no prince in ony land could daunt."
"Oh, if it were only fighting," said Louis, "I should not be afraid. But as it is, I shall not set my foot here again till Patsy sends for me—"
"Which she is like to do the morn's mornin', just to see if ye are still in the sulks! Laddie, can ye no see that it is just an amusement to her? She doesna mean to be cruel, but only wants ye to be a man amang men—and mair parteeclar amang weemen!"
"Yes, I know," said Louis, disconsolately, "she does it for my good. She has explained that to me several times. But somehow it does not seem to help much!"
"Louis Raincy," said the old lady, severe for the first time, "be a worthy son of your forbears. There are forty of them in the Raincy chapel up yonder in the wood. It wad be an awesome thing to be carried in among them and you not worthy. I am a woman—an auld maid if you like—but I am a Minto, and here I am braving the great ones of the earth to look after Patsy—me that would a thousand times raither be at Ladykirk with Eelen Young and that silly Babby Latheron, weighing out the sugar and spices for the late conserves—the bramble and the damsons and the elderberry wine."
In spite of all this good advice, or perhaps because of it, Louis Raincy went off without returning to the drawing-room, and with what he took to be despair in his heart. Patsy was by no means the old Patsy. She would never be again. Yet when he began to turn matters over in his head after he had reached his quarters, he could not remember a time when Patsy had not tyrannized over him, trampled him under foot, and variously abused him, even from the time of their infantile plays with sand castles and sea-shells built, architected, and ornamented on the seashore between the Black Head and the estuary of the Mays Water.