But in a second all thought of mirth was gone, and a deep solemnity fell upon me. God had assuredly directed my path, for He had brought the two of us together over the widest spaces of earth. I had no fear of the issue. I should master Muckle John as I had mastered him before. My awe was all for God's mysterious dealing, not for that poor fool posturing behind his obscene sacrifice. His voice rose and fell in eldritch screams and hollow moans. He was mouthing the words of some Bible Prophet.
"A Sword is upon her horses, and upon her chariots, and upon all the mingled people that are in the midst of her, and they shall become as women. A Sword is upon her treasures, and they shall be robbed; a drought is upon her waters, and they shall be dried up; for it is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols."
Every syllable brought back some memory. He had the whine and sough in his voice that our sectaries prized, and I could shut my eyes and imagine I was back in the little kirk of Lesmahagow on a hot summer morn. And then would come the scream of madness, the high wail of the Sweet-Singer.
"Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will bring a King of kings from the north, with horses and with chariots, and with horsemen and companies and muck people. He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field...."
"Fine words," I thought; "but Elspeth laid her whip over your shoulders, my man."
"... With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets. He shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground.... And I will cause the music of thy songs to cease, and the sound of thy harps shall no more be heard."
I had a vision of Elspeth's birthday party when we sat round the Governor's table, and I had wondered dismally how long it would be before our pleasant songs would be turned to mourning.
The fires died down, the smoke thinned, and the full moon rising over the crest of the hills poured her light on us. The torches flickered insolently in that calm radiance. The voice, too, grew lower and the incantation ceased. Then it began again in the Indian tongue, and the whole host rose to their feet. Muckle John, like some old priest of Diana, flung up his arms to the heavens, and seemed to be invoking his strange gods. Or he may have been blessing his flock—I know not which. Then he turned and strode back to his tent, just as he had done on that night in the Cauldstaneslap....
A hand was laid on my arm and Onotawah stood by me. He motioned me to follow him, and led me past the smoking altar to a row of painted white stones around the great wigwam. This he did not cross, but pointed to the tent door, I pushed aside the flap and entered.
An Indian lamp—a wick floating in oil—stood on a rough table. But its thin light was unneeded, for the great flood of moonshine, coming through the slits of the skins, made a clear yellow twilight. By it I marked the figure of Muckle John on his knees.
"Good evening to you, Mr. Gib," I said.
The figure sprang to its feet and strode over to me.
"Who are ye," it cried, "who speaks a name that is no more spoken on earth?"
"Just a countryman of yours, who has forgathered with you before. Have you no mind of the Cauldstaneslap and the Canongate Tolbooth?"
He snatched up the lamp and peered into my face, but he was long past recollection.
"I know ye not. But if ye be indeed one from that idolatrous country of Scotland, the Lord hath sent you to witness the triumph of His servant, Know that I am no longer the man John Gib, but the chosen of the Lord, to whom He hath given a new name, even Jerubbaal, saying let Baal plead against him, because he hath thrown down his altar."
"That's too long a word for me to remember, Mr. Gib, so by your leave I'll call you as you were christened."
I had forced myself to a slow coolness, and my voice seemed to madden him.
"Ye would outface me," he cried. "I see ye are an idolater from the tents of Shem, on whom judgment will be speedy and surprising. Know ye not what the Lord hath prepared for ye? Down in your proud cities ye are feasting and dicing and smiling on your paramours, but the writing is on the wall, and in a little ye will be crying like weaned bairns for a refuge against the storm of God. Your strong men shall be slain, and your virgins shall be led captive, and your little children shall be dashed against a stone. And in the midst of your ruins I, even I, will raise a temple to the God of Israel, and nations that know me not will run unto me because of the Lord my God."
I had determined on my part, and played it calmly.
"And what will you do with your Indian braves?" I asked.
"Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place to lie down in, for my people that have sought me," he answered.
"A bonny spectacle," I said. "Man, if you dare to cross the Border you will be whipped at a cart-tail and clapped into Bedlam as a crazy vagabond."
"Blasphemer," he shrieked, and ran at me with the knife he had used on the panther.
It took all my courage to play my game. I stood motionless, looking at him, and his head fell. Had I moved he would have struck, but to his mad eyes my calmness was terrifying.
"It sticks in my mind," I said, "that there is a commandment, Do no murder. You call yourself a follower of the Lord. Let me tell you that you are no more than a bloody-minded savage, a thousandfold more guilty than those poor creatures you are leading astray. You serve Baal, not God, John Gib, and the devil in hell is banking his fires and counting on your company."
He gibbered at me like a bedlamite, but I knew what I was doing. I raised my voice, and spoke loud and clear, while my eyes held his in that yellow dusk.
"Priest of Baal," I cried, "lying prophet! Go down on your knees and pray for mercy. By the living God, the flames of hell are waiting for you. The lightnings tremble in the clouds to scorch you up and send your black soul to its own place."
His hands pawed at my throat, but the horror was descending on him. He shrieked like a wild beast, and cast fearful eyes behind him. Then he rushed into the dark corners, stabbing with his knife, crying that the devils were loosed. I remember how horribly he frothed at the mouth.
"Avaunt," he howled. "Avaunt, Mel and Abaddon! Avaunt, Evil-Merodach and Baal-Jezer! Ha! There I had ye, ye muckle goat. The stink of hell is on ye, but ye shall not take the elect of the Lord."
He crawled on his belly, stabbing his knife into the ground. I easily avoided him, for his eyes saw nothing but his terrible phantoms. Verily Shalah had spoken truth when he said that this man had bodily converse with the devils.
Then I threw him—quite easily, for his limbs were going limp in the extremity of his horror. He lay gasping and foaming, his eyes turning back in his head, while I bound his arms to his sides with my belt. I found some cords in the tent, and tied his legs together. He moaned miserably for a little, and then was silent.
* * * * *
I think I must have sat by him for three hours. The world was very still, and the moon set, and the only light was the flickering lamp. Once or twice I heard a rustle by the tent door. Some Indian guard was on the watch, but I knew that no Indian dared to cross the forbidden circle.
I had no thoughts, being oppressed with a great stupor of weariness. I may have dozed a little, but the pain of my legs kept me from slumbering.
Once or twice I looked at him, and I noticed that the madness had gone out of his face, and that he was sleeping peacefully. I wiped the froth from his lips, and his forehead was cool to my touch.
By and by, as I held the lamp close, I observed that his eyes were open. It was now time for the gamble I had resolved on. I remembered that morning in the Tolbooth, and how the madness had passed, leaving him a simple soul. I unstrapped the belt, and cut the cords about his legs.
"Do you feel better now, Mr. Gib?" I asked, as if it were the most ordinary question in the world.
He sat up and rubbed his eyes. "Was it a dwam?" he inquired. "I get them whiles."
"It was a dwam, but I think it has passed."
He still rubbed his eyes, and peered about him, like a big collie dog that has lost its master.
"Who is it that speirs?" he said. "I ken the voice, but I havena heard it this long time."
"One who is well acquaint with Borrowstoneness and the links of Forth," said I.
I spoke in the accent of his own country-side, and it must have woke some dim chord in his memory, I made haste to strike while the iron was hot.
"There was a woman at Cramond..." I began.
He got to his feet and looked me in the face. "Ay, there was," he said, with an odd note in his voice. "What about her?" I could see that his hand was shaking.
"I think her name was Alison Steel."
"What ken ye of Alison Steel?" he asked fiercely. "Quick, man, what word have ye frae Alison?"
"You sent me with a letter to her. D'you not mind your last days in Edinburgh, before they shipped you to the Plantations?"
"It comes back to me," he cried. "Ay, it comes back. To think I should live to hear of Alison! What did she say?"
"Just this. That John Gib was a decent man if he would resist the devil of pride. She charged me to tell you that you would never be out of her prayers, and that she would live to be proud of you. 'John will never shame his kin,' quoth she."
"Said she so?" he said musingly. "She was aye a kind body. We were to be married at Martinmas, I mind, if the Lord hadna called me."
"You've need of her prayers," I said, "and of the prayers of every Christian soul on earth. I came here yestereen to find you mouthing blasphemies, and howling like a mad tyke amid a parcel of heathen. And they tell me you're to lead your savages on Virginia, and give that smiling land to fire and sword. Think you Alison Steel would not be black ashamed if she heard the horrid tale?"
"'Twas the Lord's commands," he said gloomily, but there was no conviction in his words.
I changed my tone. "Do you dare to speak such blasphemy?" I cried. "The Lord's commands! The devil's commands! The devil of your own sinful pride! You are like the false prophets that made Israel to sin. What brings you, a white man, at the head of murderous savages?"
"Israel would not hearken, so I turned to the Gentiles," said he.
"And what are you going to make of your Gentiles? Do you think you've put much Christianity into the heart of the gentry that were watching your antics last night?"
"They have glimmerings of grace," he said.
"Glimmerings of moonshine! They are bent on murder, and so are you, and you call that the Lord's commands. You would sacrifice your own folk to the heathen hordes. God forgive you, John Gib, for you are no Christian, and no Scot, and no man."
"Virginia is an idolatrous land," said he; but he could not look up at me.
"And are your Indians not idolaters? Are you no idolater, with your burnt offerings and heathen gibberish? You worship a Baal and a Moloch worse than any Midianite, for you adore the devils of your own rotten heart."
The big man, with all the madness out of him, put his towsy head in his hands, and a sob shook his great shoulders.
"Listen to me, John Gib. I am come from your own country-side to save you from a hellish wickedness, I know the length and breadth of Virginia, and the land is full of Scots, men of the Covenant you have forsworn, who are living an honest life on their bits of farms, and worshipping the God you have forsaken. There are women there like Alison Steel, and there are men there like yourself before you hearkened to the devil. Will you bring death to your own folk, with whom you once shared the hope of salvation? By the land we both have left, and the kindly souls we both have known, and the prayers you said at your mother's knee, and the love of Christ who died for us, I adjure you to flee this great sin. For it is the sin against the Holy Ghost, and that knows no forgiveness."
The man was fairly broken down. "What must I do?" he cried. "I'm all in a creel. I'm but a pipe for the Lord to sound through."
"Take not that Name in vain, for the sounding is from your own corrupt heart. Mind what Alison Steel said about the devil of pride, for it was that sin by which the angels fell."
"But I've His plain commands," he wailed. "He hath bidden me cast down idolatry, and bring the Gentiles to His kingdom."
"Did He say anything about Virginia? There's plenty idolatry elsewhere in America to keep you busy for a lifetime, and you can lead your Gentiles elsewhere than against your own kin. Turn your face westward, John Gib. I, too, can dream dreams and see visions, and it is borne in on me that your road is plain before you. Lead this great people away from the little shielings of Virginia, over the hills and over the great mountains and the plains beyond, and on and on till you come to an abiding city. You will find idolaters enough to dispute your road, and you can guide your flock as the Lord directs you. Then you will be clear of the murderer's guilt who would stain his hands in kindly blood."
He lifted his great head, and the marks of the sacrifice were still on his brow.
"D'ye think that would be the Lord's will?" he asked innocently.
"I declare it unto you," said I. "I have been sent by God to save your soul. I give you your marching orders, for though you are half a madman you are whiles a man. There's the soul of a leader in you, and I would keep you from the shame of leading men to hell. To-morrow morn you will tell these folk that the Lord has revealed to you a better way, and by noon you will be across the Shenandoah. D'you hear my word?"
"Ay," he said. "We will march in the morning."
"Can you lead them where you will?"
His back stiffened, and the spirit of a general looked out of his eyes.
"They will follow where I bid. There's no a man of them dare cheep at what I tell them."
"My work is done," I said. "I go to whence I came. And some day I shall go to Cramond and tell Alison that John Gib is no disgrace to his kin."
"Would you put up a prayer?" he said timidly. "I would be the better of one."
Then for the first and last time in my life I spoke aloud to my Maker in another's presence, and it was surely the strangest petition ever offered.
"Lord," I prayed, "Thou seest Thy creature, John Gib, who by the perverseness of his heart has come to the edge of grievous sin. Take the cloud from his spirit, arrange his disordered wits, and lead him to a wiser life. Keep him in mind of his own land, and of her who prays for him. Guide him over hills and rivers to an enlarged country, and make his arm strong against his enemies, so be they are not of his own kin. And if ever he should hearken again to the devil, do Thou blast his body with Thy fires, so that his soul may be saved."
"Amen," said he, and I went out of the tent to find the grey dawn beginning to steal up the sky.
Shalah was waiting at the entrance, far inside the white stones. 'Twas the first time I had ever seen him in a state approaching fear.
"What fortune, brother?" he asked, and his teeth chattered.
"The Tidewater is safe. This day they march westwards to look for their new country."
"Thy magic is as the magic of Heaven," he said reverently. "My heart all night has been like water, for I know no charm which hath prevailed against the mystery of the Panther."
"'Twas no magic of mine," said I. "God spoke to him through my lips in the night watches."
We took our way unchallenged through the sleeping host till we had climbed the scarp of the hills.
"What brought you to the tent door?" I asked.
"I abode there through the night, I heard the strife with the devils, and my joints were loosened. Also I heard thy voice, brother, but I knew not thy words."
"But what did you mean to do?" I asked again.
"It was in my mind to do my little best to see that no harm befell thee. And if harm came, I had the thought of trying my knife on the ribs of yonder magician."
HOW THREE SOULS FOUND THEIR HERITAGE.
In that hour I had none of the exhilaration of success. So strangely are we mortals made that, though I had won safety for myself and my people, I could not get the savour of it. I had passed too far beyond the limits of my strength. Now that the tension of peril was gone, my legs were like touchwood, which a stroke would shatter, and my foolish head swam like a merry-go-round. Shalah's arm was round me, and he lifted me up the steep bits till we came to the crown of the ridge. There we halted, and he fed me with sops of bread dipped in eau-de-vie, for he had brought Ringan's flask with him. The only result was to make me deadly sick. I saw his eyes look gravely at me, and the next I knew I was on his back. I begged him to set me down and leave me, and I think I must have wept like a bairn. All pride of manhood had flown in that sharp revulsion, and I had the mind of a lost child.
As the light grew some strength came back to me, and presently I was able to hobble a little on my rickety shanks. We kept the very crest of the range, and came by and by to a promontory of clear ground, the same, I fancy, from which I had first seen the vale of the Shenandoah. There we rested in a nook of rock, while the early sun warmed us, and the little vapours showed, us in glimpses the green depths and the far-shining meadows.
Shalah nudged my shoulder, and pointed to the south, where a glen debouched from the hills. A stream of mounted figures was pouring out of it, heading for the upper waters of the river where the valley broadened again. For all my sickness my eyes were sharp enough to perceive what manner of procession it was. All were on horseback, riding in clouds and companies without the discipline of a march, but moving as swift as a flight of wildfowl at twilight. Before the others rode a little cluster of pathfinders, and among them I thought I could recognize one taller than the rest.
"Your magic hath prevailed, brother," Shalah said. "In an hour's time they will have crossed the Shenandoah, and at nightfall they will camp on the farther mountains."
That sight gave me my first assurance of success. At any rate, I had fulfilled my trust, and if I died in the hills Virginia would yet bless her deliverer.
And yet my strongest feeling was a wild regret. These folk were making for the untravelled lands of the sunset. You would have said I had got my bellyful of adventure, and should now have sought only a quiet life. But in that moment of bodily weakness and mental confusion I was shaken with a longing to follow them, to find what lay beyond the farthest cloud-topped mountain, to cross the wide rivers, and haply to come to the infinite and mystic Ocean of the West.
"Would to God I were with them!" I sighed.
"Will you come, brother?" Shalah whispered, a strange light in his eyes. "If we twain joined the venture, I think we should not be the last in it. Shalah would make you a king. What is your life in the muddy Tidewater but a thing of little rivalries and petty wrangles and moping over paper? The hearth will soon grow cold, and the bright eyes of the fairest woman will dull with age, and the years will find you heavy and slow, with a coward's shrinking from death. What say you, brother? While the blood is strong in the veins shall we ride westward on the path of a king?"
His eyes were staring like a hawk's over the hills, and, light-headed as I was, I caught the infection of his ardour. For, remember, I was so low in spirit that all my hopes and memories were forgotten, and I was in that blank apathy which is mastered by another's passion. For a little the life of Virginia seemed unspeakably barren, and I quickened at the wild vista which Shalah offered. I might be a king over a proud people, carving a fair kingdom out of the wilderness, and ruling it justly in the fear of God. These western Indians were the stuff of a great nation. I, Andrew Garvald, might yet find that empire of which the old adventurers dreamed.
With shame I set down my boyish folly. It did not last, long, for to my dizzy brain there came the air which Elspeth had sung, that song of Montrose's which had been, as it were, the star of all my wanderings.
"For, if Confusion have a part, Which virtuous souls abhor—"
Surely it was confusion that had now overtaken me. Elspeth's clear voice, her dark, kind eyes, her young and joyous grace, filled again my memory. Was not such a lady better than any savage kingdom? Was not the service of my own folk nobler than any principate among strangers? Could the rivers of Damascus vie with the waters of Israel?
"Nay, Shalah," I said. "Mine is a quieter destiny. I go back to the Tidewater, but I shall not stay there. We have found the road to the hills, and in time I will plant the flag of my race on the Shenandoah."
He bowed his head. "So be it. Each man to his own path, but I would ours had run together. Your way is the way of the white man. You conquer slowly, but the line of your conquest goes not back. Slowly it eats its way through the forest, and fields and manors appear in the waste places, and cattle graze in the coverts of the deer. Listen, brother. Shalah has had his visions when his eyes were unsealed in the night watches. He has seen the white man pressing up from the sea, and spreading over the lands of his fathers. He has seen the glens of the hills parcelled out like the meadows of Henricus, and a great multitude surging ever on to the West. His race is doomed by God to perish before the stranger; but not yet awhile, for the white man comes slowly. It hath been told that the Children of the West Wind must seek their cradle, and while there is time he would join them in that quest. The white men follow upon their heels, but in his day and in that of his son's sons they will lead their life according to the ancient ways. He hath seen the wisdom of the stranger, and found among them men after his own heart; but the Spirit of his fathers calls, and now he returns to his own people."
"What will you do there?" I asked.
"I know not. I am still a prince among them, and will sway their councils. It may be fated that I slay yonder magician and reign in his stead."
He got to his feet and looked proudly westward.
"In a little I shall overtake them. But I would my brother had been of my company."
Slowly we travelled north along the crests, for though my mind was now saner, I had no strength in my body. The hill mists came down on us, and the rain drove up from the glens. I was happy now for all my weakness, for I was lapped in a great peace. The raw weather, which had once been a horror of darkness to me, was now something kindly and homelike. The wet smells minded me of my own land, and the cool buffets of the squalls were a tonic to my spirit. I wandered into pleasant dreams, and scarce felt the roughness of the ground on my bare feet and the aches in every limb.
Long ere we got to the Gap I was clean worn out. I remember that I fell constantly, and could scarcely rise. Then I stumbled, and the last power went out of will and sinew. I had a glimpse of Shalah's grave face as I slipped into unconsciousness.
I woke in a glow of firelight. Faces surrounded me, dim wraith-like figures still entangled in the meshes of my dreams. Slowly the scene cleared, and I recognized Grey's features, drawn and constrained, and yet welcoming. Bertrand was weeping after his excitable fashion.
But there was a face nearer to me, and with that face in my memory I went off into pleasant dreams. Somewhere in them mingled the words of the old spaewife, that I should miss love and fortune in the sunshine and find them in the rain.
The strength of youth is like a branch of yew, for if it is bent it soon straightens. By the third day I was on my feet again, with only the stiffness of healing wounds to remind me of those desperate passages. When I could look about me I found that men had arrived from the Rappahannock, and among them Elspeth's uncle, who had girded on a great claymore, and looked, for all his worn face and sober habit, a mighty man of war. With them came news of the rout of the Cherokees, who had been beaten by Nicholson's militia in Stafford county and driven down the long line of the Border, paying toll to every stockade. Midway Lawrence had fallen upon them and driven the remnants into the hills above the head waters of the James. It would be many a day, I thought, before these gentry would bring war again to the Tidewater. The Rappahannock men were in high feather, convinced that they had borne the brunt of the invasion. 'Twas no business of mine to enlighten them, the more since of the three who knew the full peril, Shalah was gone and Ringan was dead. My tale should be for the ear of Lawrence and the Governor, and for none else. The peace of mind of Virginia should not be broken by me.
Grey came to me on the third morning to say good-bye. He was going back to the Tidewater with some of the Borderers, for to stay longer with us had become a torture to him. There was no ill feeling in his proud soul, and he bore defeat as a gentleman should.
"You have fairly won, Mr. Garvald," he said. "Three nights ago I saw clearly revealed the inclination of the lady, and I am not one to strive with an unwilling maid. I wish you joy of a great prize. You staked high for it, and you deserve your fortune. As for me, you have taught me much for which I owe you gratitude. Presently, when my heart is less sore, I desire that we should meet in friendship, but till then I need a little solitude to mend broken threads."
There was the true gentleman for you, and I sorrowed that I should ever have misjudged him. He shook my hand in all brotherliness, and went down the glen with Bertrand, who longed to see his children again.
Elspeth remained, and concerning her I fell into my old doubting mood. The return of my strength had revived in me the passion which had dwelt somewhere in my soul from, the hour she first sang to me in the rain. She had greeted me as girl greets her lover, but was that any more than the revulsion from fear and the pity of a tender heart? Doubts oppressed me, the more as she seemed constrained and uneasy, her eyes falling when she met mine, and her voice full no longer of its frank comradeship.
One afternoon we went to a place in the hills where the vale of the Shenandoah could be seen. The rain had gone, and had left behind it a taste of autumn. The hill berries were ripening, and a touch of flame had fallen on the thickets.
Soon the great valley lay below us, running out in a golden haze to the far blue mountains.
"Ah!" she sighed, like one who comes from a winter night into a firelit room. She was silent, while her eyes drank in its spacious comfort.
"That is your heritage, Elspeth. That is the birthday gift to which old Studd's powder-flask is the key."
"Nay, yours," she said, "for you won it."
The words died on her lips, for her eyes were abstracted. My legs were still feeble, and I had leaned a little on her strong young arm as we came up the hill, but now she left me and climbed on a rock, where she sat like a pixie. The hardships of the past had thinned her face and deepened her eyes, but her grace was the more manifest. Fresh and dewy as morning, yet with a soul of steel and fire—surely no lovelier nymph ever graced a woodland. I felt how rough and common was my own clay in contrast with her bright spirit.
"Elspeth," I said hoarsely, "once I told you what was in my heart."
Her face grew grave. "And have you not seen what is in mine?" she asked.
"I have seen and rejoiced, and yet I doubt."
"But why?" she asked again. "My life is yours, for you have preserved it. I would be graceless indeed if I did not give my best to you who have given all for me."
"It is not gratitude I want. If you are only grateful, put me out of your thoughts, and I will go away and strive to forget you. There were twenty in the Tidewater who would have done the like."
She looked down on me from the rock with the old quizzing humour in her eyes.
"If gratitude irks you, sir, what would you have?"
"All," I cried; "and yet, Heaven knows, I am not worth it. I am no man to capture a fair girl's heart. My face is rude and my speech harsh, and I am damnably prosaic. I have not Ringan's fancy, or Grey's gallantry; I am sober and tongue-tied and uncouth, and my mind runs terribly on facts and figures. O Elspeth, I know I am no hero of romance, but a plain body whom Fate has forced into a month of wildness. I shall go back to Virginia, and be set once more at my accompts and ladings. Think well, my dear, for I will have nothing less than all. Can you endure to spend your days with a homely fellow like me?"
"What does a woman desire?" she asked, as if from herself, and her voice was very soft as she gazed over the valley. "Men think it is a handsome face or a brisk air or a smooth tongue. And some will have it that it is a deep purse or a high station. But I think it is the honest heart that goes all the way with a woman's love. We are not so blind as to believe that the glitter is the gold. We love romance, but we seek it in its true home. Do you think I would marry you for gratitude, Andrew?"
"No," I said.
"Or for admiration?"
"No," said I.
"Or for love?"
"Yes," I said, with a sudden joy.
She slipped from the rock, her eyes soft and misty. Her arms were about my neck, and I heard from her the words I had dreamed of and yet scarce hoped for, the words of the song sung long ago to a boy's ear, and spoken now with the pure fervour of the heart—"My dear and only love."
Years have flown since that day on the hills, and much has befallen; but the prologue is the kernel of my play, and the curtain which rose after that hour revealed things less worthy of chronicle. Why should I tell of how my trade prospered mightily, and of the great house we built at Middle Plantation; of my quarrels with Nicholson, which were many; of how we carved a fair estate out of Elspeth's inheritance, and led the tide of settlement to the edge of the hills? These things would seem a pedestrian end to a high beginning. Nor would I weary the reader with my doings in the Assembly, how I bearded more Governors than one, and disputed stoutly with His Majesty's Privy Council in London. The historian of Virginia—now by God's grace a notable land—may, perhaps, take note of these things, but it is well for me to keep silent. It is of youth alone that I am concerned to write, for it is a comfort to my soul to know that once in my decorous progress through life I could kick my heels and forget to count the cost; and as youth cries farewell, so I end my story and turn to my accounts.
Elspeth and I have twice voyaged to Scotland. The first time my uncle and mother were still in the land of the living, but they died in the same year, and on our second journey I had much ado in settling their estates. My riches being now considerable, I turned my attention to the little house of Auchencairn, which I enlarged and beautified, so that if we have the wish we may take up our dwelling there. We have found in the West a goodly heritage, but there is that in a man's birth place which keeps tight fingers on his soul, and I think that we desire to draw our last breath and lay our bones in our own grey country-side. So, if God grants us length of days, we may haply return to Douglasdale in the even, and instead of our noble forests and rich meadows, look upon the bleak mosses and the rainy uplands which were our childhood's memory.
That is the fancy at the back of both our heads. But I am very sure that our sons will be Virginians.