"Thrue fer yez, cornel, ivery bit. There was a little whipper-snapper av a Shunday Shcool shuperintindent out in a lake, about a hundrid moiles frum the city, wid some dacent lads; and, afore they knowed where they was, the cratur had sit a foine grane oisland a foire for the fun, he sid, av sayin' the blaze. Oi'd loike to have had the shuperintindin' av him fer foive minutes."
The explorers were making their way back to the skiff when the colonel, who had gone back for his handkerchief which he had dropped, said: "There is a pehson coming down towahds the house, a woman appahently." Miss Du Plessis looked up the hill, and saw who it was. "It is Matilda Nagle," she said; "see, she is going back again." At once Miss Carmichael ran up the hill after the retreating figure, and, as she was a good runner, and the poor wanderer was tired, she soon overtook her. Taking both her hands in her own, and kissing the woman, she said: "Come with us, Matilda, and we will drive you home." The half-witted creature responded to the caress, and allowed herself to be led to the boat. "I lost my way," she said. "It is a new road I had never been on before, and I got turned round and came back here three times, and I am very tired." The colonel and Mr. Terry made her enter the boat before them, and then Miss Du Plessis and the veteran rowed the party back to the picnic ground, Miss Carmichael, at her friend's suggestion, removing the landmark put up by her mother as they passed out of the channel. At once Matilda was taken to the shady retreat where Mrs. Carmichael and Miss Halbert were, and all the ladies waited upon her with what was left of the eatables and drinkables, in spite of Mr. Perrowne's appetite. Then, Mr. Terry and Mr. Bigglethorpe went after the horses, and harnessed them to the waggon. The fisherman came back to summon the party and help to carry the baskets. Mr. Errol and Mr. Perrowne agreed to row the punt back to the Richards, and walk the rest of the way, as the addition of Matilda to the company would make riding uncomfortable if they did otherwise. The picnickers were safely seated, the baskets and the strings of fish stowed away, and the Colonel again took the reins for his party of nine. The two clergymen returned to the scow and paddled home, singing songs, one of which Mr. Perrowne gave in genuine cockney style to a Primitive Methodist hymn tune
"Oh we was rich and 'appy once, And we paid all we was due, But we've sold our bed to buhy some bread, And we hain't, got nowt to do; We're all the way from Manchesteher. And we hain't got nowt to do.
"Oh him as hoppresses the pooer man Is a livin on humin' lives, An I will be sarved in tohother land Like Lazarius and Dives, And will be sarved in tohother land Like Lazarius and Dives."
Mr. Errol applauded the song, but thought it was hardly right to put a hymn tune to it. He said he "minded an auld Scotch song aboot the barrin' o' the door." So he sang:—
"It fell aboot the Martimas time, And a gay time it was then O, When our gude wife got puddins to mak', And she biled them in the pan O. The barrin' o' oor door weel, weel, weel. And the barrin' o' oor door, weel."
Thus, lightening the journey, they arrived at the last lake, said how-d'ye-do to the Richards, and tramped home. "How are you feeling now, Mr. Errol?" asked his comrade. "Man, it's just as I tellt ye, I'm renewin' my youth."
It was just about six when the pedestrians arrived at Bridesdale. Mr. Newberry had been there, anxious about his charge, and had joyfully hailed her appearance in the waggon. Mr. Bigglethorpe insisted on going home; so, after a whispered consultation with Miss Halbert, Mr. Perrowne offered him the doctor's carriage, if he would call in and tell Dr. Halbert that his daughter and all the Bridesdale people were safe, which he agreed to do. The colonel and Miss Du Plessis were up with the dear boy, whose name and virtues Miss Carmichael could hardly hear mentioned with civility. Marjorie fairly wept over the leave-taking of Mr. Biggles, but commanded herself sufficiently to beg that he would not christen that baby Woollens, Cottons or Piscopalian. He said emphatically that he would not, and then departed, taking home a string of bass to propitiate Mrs. Bigglethorpe. The tea party, spite of Miss Du Plessis' marvellous story of Tillycot, was very slow. The newly engaged couple were full of each other. Mrs. Du Plessis, her daughter and the colonel had Wilkinson on the brain, Mrs. Carmichael and the minister were self-sufficient, and Mr. Terry was discoorsin' to his daughter, Honoria. The only free person for Miss Carmichael was the Squire, and happily she sat at his left.
"Marjorie, lassie," said Uncle John, "you're no lookin' weel."
"That's not very complimentary, uncle; but I am quite well."
"Yon block o' a Lamb has been wearin' ye, I'm thinkin'."
"Not at all, uncle; his gifts and graces are not adequate to that."
"Did Coristine tell ye o' that adverteesment in the Barrie paper?"
"Did he say he had dune onything aboot it?"
"Yes, he said he had written to the Edinburgh lawyer and to other people about it."
"That was unco gude o' the lad, Marjorie."
"Yes, it was very kind."
"What garred the laddie gang awa before the time, lassie?"
"How should I know, uncle?"
"Wha sud ken were it no you, Marjorie, my pet?"
"I am not in Mr. Coristine's confidence."
"I'se warrant ye, Marjorie, he's just bitin's nails to the quick at yon Mrs. Swamp's that's he no here the nicht."
"Oh nonsense, uncle, why should he be so foolish? If he wanted to stay, there was no one to hinder him."
"Weel, weel, lassie, we'll hear frae him sometime aboot yon neist o' kin business. Aiblins, ye'll be a braw leddy wi' a gran' fortune yet, and turn up your bonnie bit nose at puir lawyer chappies."
"I don't want to turn up my nose at Mr. Coristine, uncle. I think it was very splendid of him to fight for you as he did; but I knew nothing about that when he said good-bye, and I wouldn't shake hands with him."
The Squire put up his hand and stroked his niece's hair. "Puir lassie!" he said, "it's a gran' peety, but ye're no feelin' half as bad as he is the noo, gin I ken the lad, and I think I dae."
It was ten when Mr. Bangs brought home the colonel's horse, and Rufus rattled the missing waggon and team into the stable yard. The latter joyfully saluted his sisters, shook hands with Timotheus, and courteously responded to the greeting of Maguffin. Mr. Bangs, declining any solid refreshment, entered the office, where, besides the Squire, Mr. Errol and the veteran were established. The picnic ladies were tired and had gone to rest, and the colonel was relating the events of the day to the wakeful dominie. Mr. Bangs gave his company an account of the safe lodgment of Rawdon and Davis, and mentioned incidentally that he had seen Mr. Coristine alight from the train at Toronto and go up town. He also cautioned the Squire against divulging the secret of the exhumed box of money, if he wished to save it for Matilda Nagle.
"Squire," he said, "I don't went to elerm you, bet I'm efreid there's gowing to be more trebble to-night; I saw thet tevern-keeper from Peskiwenchow, Devis' brether, et the stetion this merning, with sem of the fellows we fought et the Enkempment. They're not in Kellingwood now, end yeng Hill tells me he saw strenge men kemming this way in the efternoon. I towld yeng Hill to bring his gen, and I brought my mounted petrol kerbine."
"This is terribly vexatious, Mr. Bangs, just as we thought all our troubles were over."
"It is, bet I think it will be their lest ettempt, a final effort to get meney and revenge. We must wound es many ef them es we ken, end ellow the survivors to kerry off the dead end wounded. Thet will be the end of it. I met Toner, end he tells me old Newcome is ep and eway. Toner kent come, for Newcome hes threatened to bern down his house."
A gentle rap at the door interrupted the conversation. The Squire went to open it, and saw his niece in night attire, with a pale, scared face, hardly able to speak. "What is the matter, Marjorie?"
"There's a man in Mr. Coristine's room, either in the cupboard-wardrobe or under the bed," she answered, and slipped quietly upstairs to her own apartment.
Quickly the information was imparted, and the detective at once took command.
"Mr. Terry, I know you are a good shot. Tek my kerbine which is loaded, and wetch the windows of Mr. Coristine's room outside. Give Mr. Errol a pistol, Squire, and kem on. Ah, Mr. Perrowne, we went you, sir; bring that lemp end follow us."
All obeyed, and slipped up stairs with as little noise as possible. Mr. Bangs opened the door and listened. Intuitively, he knew that Miss Carmichael was right; somebody was in that room. Whispering to Mr. Errol to guard the door, and to the Squire to stand by the wardrobe, he took the lamp from Mr. Perrowne and flashed it under and over the bed. There was nobody there. In a moment, however, the wardrobe door burst open, the Squire was overturned, the light kicked over and extinguished, and Mr. Errol pushed aside, when three feminine voices called: "Help, quick!" and, tumbling over one another into the hall, the clever lookers for burglars found their man in the grasp of three picturesque figures in dressing gowns. They were at once relieved of their capture, and many anxious enquiries were made as to whether they had received any injuries from the felonious intruder. It appeared that they had not received any of importance, and that Miss Carmichael was the first to arrest the flight of the robber.
The household was aroused. The colonel came down with his pistols. Timotheus, Rufus and Maguffin awaited orders, so he ordered them to arm, and posted them as sentries, relieving Mr. Terry from his watch on the windows. Then the examination of the prisoner began. He was the youth who had driven the buckboard over for the doctor on the eventful Monday morning. His name was Rawdon, but he was not the son of Altamont Rawdon. His father's name was Reginald, who was Altamont's brother.
"Where is your fether?" asked Mr. Bangs.
"I dunno," he answered, sulkily.
"Then I ken tell you. He is dead, berned to death by yore precious encle Eltemont."
"O my God!" exclaimed the youth; "is that so?"
"Esk any of these gentlemen, end they will tell you that yore fether end old Flower were berned to death, end thet a keroner's jury set on their remains, which are buried."
"You say as 'ow my huncle Haltamont did that?"
"Yes, I do, end, whet's more, you know it."
Having terrorized his victim, and antagonized him to Rawdon, the detective drew from him the information that five men, three of Rawdon's old employees, the tavern-keeper Matt, and Newcome, were coming at midnight to burglarize the house and get possession of the dug-up treasure. He confessed that he had slipped into the house while the party was away picnicking, and, knowing that Coristine had left without his knapsack, had looked round till he found a room with knapsacks in it. There he intended to remain till his confederates should require his services to open the house to them.
"Who towld you thet awful lie ebout Rawdon's meney being in this house?"
"Matt knew. Uncle Monty guv it 'im by signs, I guess. Oh, he's O.K., he is."
"Well, sir, yore a prisoner here, end if things don't turn out es you sey, I'll blow yore brains out."
"For goodness sake don't be aisty, mister. I've told you the 'ole truth, I swear."
Mr. Bangs next found out that the robbers were coming in a waggon, which would halt some distance to the left of the house, and that their plan was to set one man at the end of the hall to hinder communication with the servants' quarters, and two on the upper landing to command the front and back stairs, while the remaining burglars ransacked the office and any other rooms in which plunder might be found. The youth's appointed mission was to fire the house, when the search was completed. Hardly had this information been received when Maguffin's challenge was heard, and a well-known voice in military accents replied "A friend." The colonel went out, and brought in Corporal Rigby, panting for want of breath.
"You've been running, Rigby," said the astonished Squire.
"Duty required it, sir," replied the constable, saluting; "I have come at the double, with trailed arms, all the way from Squire Halbert's. This is his rifle I am carrying. The enemy is on the move, sir, in waggon transport." "You are jest in time, kenstable," remarked Mr. Bangs. "Miss Kermichael and the ether ledies hev jest keptured an impertent prisoner. Hev you yore hendkeffs?"
"I have, sir, and everything else the law requires." Mr. Terry handed a glass to the breathless constable, who bowed his respects to the company generally, smacked his lips as a public token of satisfaction, and proceeded to handcuff and search his prisoner. Several blasting cartridges with long fuses, and other incendiary material, were the results of the last operation.
"If I had my way with him, sergeant-major," the constable remarked, while taking his man under the veteran's command, to the stable, "I would borrow an old chair from the back kitchen, not the front, sergeant-major, tie him to it, and set off all these cattridges under him. He would not go to heaven, sergeant-major, but they would help him a bit in that direction. The man that would cattridge a house with ladies in it should be made a targate out of, sergeant-major."
"Poor, deluded crathur!" replied Mr. Terry, "it's but a shlip av a bhoy, it is, wid a burnt up father, that's been shet on to mischief by thim as knows betther. Kape him toight, Corporal Rigby, but be tindher wid the benoighted gossoon." Mr. Bangs ordered all lights out, save one in the thoroughly darkened office, and another in the closet back in the hall, which had no window. He called in the three sentries, ordered the constable to maintain silence in the stable, and slipped out to reconnoitre. The colonel, the Squire and Maguffin prepared their pistols for the first volley on the housebreakers. The clergymen, with Timotheus and Rufus, got their guns in order for the second. It was almost on the stroke of midnight when the detective slipped in and closed the door after him. "They are here," he whispered; "wait for me to ect! Now, not another word." Silent, as if themselves conspirators, the eight men crouched in the darkened hall, listening to steps on the soft grass of the lawn. There was the low growl of a dog, a short bark, and then a muttered oath, a thud, and a groan that was not human. Poor Basil Perrowne ground his teeth, for he had heard the last gasp of the faithful Muggins. A hand was on the outside knob of the door. Mr. Bangs turned the key and drew back the catch of the lock, when two men thrust themselves in. "Ware's the lights, you blarsted fool?" one of the ruffians asked. The detective drew back, and the others with him, till all five had entered. Then Mr. Perrowne threw open the office door, and Timotheus that of the linen closet. In the sudden light cast on the scene the pistol men fired and the burglars tumbled back, two hanging on to three. "Don't shoot," cried Mr. Bangs to the gunners, "but kem on, fellow them up." After the fugitives they went, not too quickly, although the bereaved parson was longing for a shot at the murderer of Muggins. The burglars were on the road, and the waggon, driven by a woman, was coming to meet them. "Now then," said the detective, as a couple of revolver shots whizzed past him, "give the scoundrels thet velley, before there's any denger of hitting the woman." The four guns were emptied with terrible effect, for the woman had to descend in order to get her load of villainy on. The detective gave but one minute for that purpose, and then ordered a pursuit; but the waggon had turned, and, spite of screams and oaths that made hideous the night air, the woman drove furiously, all unconscious, apparently, that her course betrayed itself by a trail of human blood. "Nen ere killed outright," remarked Mr. Bangs, "bet I downt believe a single mether's sen of them escaped without a good big merk of recognition."
"Do you think we have seen the last of them, Bangs?" asked the Squire.
"Certainly! This wes a lest desperate effort of a broken-up geng."
"I wonder who that woman can have been," said Mr. Errol. "I know most of the people about here by sight."
"She's a very clever yeng woman," Mr. Bangs answered, evasively.
"It'll no be Newcome's daughter?" half asked the Squire.
The detective drew Mr. Carruthers aside, and said: "It wes to hev been Serlizer, bet she wouldn't gow, even if Ben hed ellowed her; bet a nice gel from wey beck, a cousin of Ben's, whom he had never seen before, end who hed just called on Mrs. Towner in the efternoon, offered to take her place. Her neme is Rebecca Towner, a very nice young person."
"Losh me, Bangs, you're an awfu' man! What deevilment is this ye've been at?"
"I didn't went you to shoot Rebecca Towner, because, next to pore Nesh, she is our best female personater, end her name, when she takes off these clowthes, is Cherley Verley."
"So, you brocht thae villains here by deputy?"
"Yes; they hed to kem, you know, bet I didn't know anything ebout thet boy end their plans, except in a general way. Rebecca woun't leave the pore fellows till they're pretty sick."
Bridesdale was lit up again, for nobody cared to go to bed. The ladies came down to see that the belligerents were safe, and Miss Carmichael and her brave companions received the meed of praise and thanks their splendid services deserved. Sorry for the injuries of the would-be robbers, and perhaps murderers, the Squire was nevertheless relieved in mind by the success of the night's work. In his satisfaction he entered the kitchen, and ordered late supper for his allies in that quarter. Then he summoned Constable Rigby from the stable, bidding him bring his prisoner with him, and give him something to eat. The constable declined to sit in a prisoner's presence in an unofficial capacity, but had no objection to feeding him. When, therefore, the young intruder had eaten his supper, his gaoler standing by, he was reconducted to the separate stable, handcuffed, chained, and locked in, the key being deposited in the constable's pocket. Then, and only then, did Mr. Rigby unbend, and, after supper, indulge with his five companions, male and female, in the improving geographical game of cards. The dining room bell occasionally called Tryphosa away, when, as a matter of course, Timotheus played for her. The colonel, with a cigar in his lips, and a substitute for fine old Bourbon in his hand, went up-stairs to enlighten his dear boy as to the doings of the night, and, especially as to dear Cecile's magnificent courage. The dominie was terribly concerned about that lady's single-handed contest with the desperate robber, and would not be satisfied until she came in person to let him know she was not hurt in the least, that Marjorie deserved all the credit of the capture, and that the unhappy youth had seemed so taken aback by the character of his hall assailants as to be almost incapable of resistance. The colonel smoked, and sipped, and smiled incredulously, as much as to say, You may believe this young person if you like, my dear boy, but there is somebody who knows better, and can make allowance for a young lady's charming self-depreciation. Mrs. Carruthers, grateful for the safety of her husband and her father, and Mrs. Carmichael, for that of her brother and Mr. Errol, were prepared to be hospitable to a degree. The minister had another opportunity of praising the toddy which the latter lady brewed, and Mr. Perrowne said: "It isn't half bad, you know, but I down't know what Miss Crimmage's Band of Howpe would think of it, if she knew the two temperance champions were imbibing at three o'clock in the morning." The minister remarked that he didn't care for all the Crimmages in the world, nor the Crummages either, whatever he meant by that, for there was no such name in the neighbourhood. "Basil," said Miss Halbert, "you had better take care. I shall not allow you any toddy, remember, but shall subscribe for the Montreal Weekly Witness". Mr. Perrowne put a little out of the decanter into his tumbler, with a practised air very unlike that of a Band of Hope patron, saying: "Drowned the miller, Fanny! Must take time by the forelock, if you are going to carry out your threats. But I think I'll drop you, and ask Mrs. Carmichael to have compassion on me. She wouldn't deprive a poor man of his toddy, would you now, Mrs. Carmichael?"
"Mrs. Carmichael," said Mr. Errol, answering for that lady, "would hae mair sense," which shut the parson effectually out of conversation in that quarter.
Miss Carmichael listened to the conversation, and beheld the minister renewing his youth. She heard Mr. Bangs entertain her uncle with stories about a certain Charley Varley, and Mr. Terry say to Mrs Du Plessis, "Whin I was in Sout Ameriky wid the cornel, God save him." She saw her friend Fanny exciting the lighter vein in the affianced Perrowne, and knew that Cecile was upstairs, the light of the dominie's eyes. There was a blank in the company, so she retired to the room in which she had found the burglar, and looked at the knapsacks there. She knew his; would it be wrong to look inside? She would not touch Mr. Wilkinson's for wealth untold. If he had not wanted his knapsack opened, he should not have left it behind him. But it was open; not a strap was buckled over it. The strap press was there, and a little prayer-book, and a pocket volume of Browning, some cartridges and tobacco, and an empty flask, and a pair of socks and some collars. What was that? A sheet of paper that must have fallen out of Browning. It had fluttered to the floor, whence she picked it up, and it was poetry; perhaps the much-talked-of poem on the Grinstun man. No, it was another, and this was how it ran, as she read it, and hot and cold shivers ran alternately down her neck:—
The while my lonely watch I keep, Dear heart that wak'st though senses sleep To thee my heart turns gratefully. All it can give to thee is given. From all besides, its heartstrings riven. Could ne'er be reft more fatefully.
For thou art all in all to me, My life, my love, my Marjorie, Dow'ring each day increasingly With wealth of thy dear self. I swear I'll love thee false, I'll love thee fair. World without end, unceasingly.
"O, Eugene, Eugene," she sobbed to herself, "why would you go away, when everybody wanted you, and I most of all?" Then she put the things back into the knapsack, all but the sheet of paper, which she carried away, and thrust into the bosom of her dress, as she saw Miss Du Plessis approaching. In common with the other ladies of the house, they retired to their rooms and to bed, leaving the gentlemen to tell stories and smoke, and otherwise prepare themselves for an unsatisfactory breakfast and a general disinclination for work in the morning. In the back of the house, geographical studies continued to flourish, the corporal and Maguffin contending with the ladies for educational honours, now being lifted up to the seventh heaven of success, and, now, depressed beneath the load of many adverse books. All the time, a little bird was singing in Miss Carmichael's sleeping ear, or rather in that which really does the hearing, certain words like, "My life, my love, my Marjorie," and then again "I'll love thee false, I'll love thee fair, world without end, unceasingly." When she awoke in the morning, the girls told her she had been crying in her sleep, and saying "O Eugene!" which she indignantly denied, and forbade them to repeat.
The Glory Departed—The Mail—Coristine's Letters to Miss Carmichael, Mrs. Carruthers and the Dominie—Sylvanus to Tryphena—Burying Muggins—A Dull Week—A Letter From Coristine and Four to Him—Marjorie's Letter and Book—Telegram—Mr. Douglas and Miss Graves—Reception Parties—The Colonel and Marjorie.
After breakfast on Saturday morning, Mr. Bangs departed, riding his own horse, while Rufus bestrode that of his late friend Nash. As the colonel had no need for the services of Maguffin, that gentleman drove the constable and his prisoner in a cart between these two mounted guards. The clergymen went home to look over their sermons for the morrow, and to make good resolutions for pastoral duty in the week to come, not that either of them was disposed to be negligent in the discharge of such duty, but a week of almost unavoidable arrears had to be overtaken. The Squire was busy all day looking after his farm hands, and laying out work to be commenced on Monday morning; and Mr. Terry went the rounds with him. The colonel's time was spent largely in conversation, divided between his dear Farquhar and his dearer Teresa. When not engaged in helping the hostess and her sister in-law in the press of Saturday's household work, the young ladies were in consultation over the new engagement, the ring, the day, the bridesmaids, the trousseau, and other like matters of great importance. Marjorie took her young cousins botanizing in honour of Eugene, and crawfishing in memory of Mr. Biggles; then she formed them into a Sunday school class, and instructed them feelingly in the vanity of human wishes, and the fleeting nature of all sublunary things. Even Timotheus could not be with Tryphosa as much as he would have desired, and had to console himself with thoughts of the morrow, and visions of two people in a ferny hollow singing hymns out of one hymn-book. The glory seemed to have departed from Bridesdale, the romance to have gone out of its existence on that humdrum Saturday. The morning passed in drudgery, the dinner table in prosaic talk, and the hot afternoon was a weariness of the flesh and spirit. Just about tea time the mail waggon passed the gate; there was nobody in it for Bridesdale. When the quiet tea was over, the veteran lit his pipe, and he and Marjorie went to the post office to enquire for letters, and invest some of Eugene's parting donations in candy. Half the mail bag and more was for the Squire, the post-mistress said, and it made a large bundle, so that she had to tie it up in a huge circus poster, which, being a very religious woman, she had declined to tack up on the post-office wall. "Marjorie," whispered Mr. Terry, so that the post-mistress could not hear, "I wudn't buoy any swates now, for I belave there's a howll box iv thim in the mail for yeez." Accordingly, they left without a purchase, to the loss of the candy account at the store.
The circus poster and contents were deposited on the office table, and Mr. Carruthers called big Marjorie to sort the mail. So Miss Carmichael appeared, and gave him his own letters and papers. There were two from India for Mr. Terry, that had been forwarded from Toronto, and one from the same quarter for aunt Honoria. Some United States documents were the colonel's property, and a hotel envelope, with a Barrie postmark, bore the name of Miss Tryphena Hill. The bulk of the mail was in one handwriting, which the Bridesdale post-mistress had seen before. Only two letters were there, a thick one for aunt Honoria, and one of ordinary size for Mr Wilkinson, but there were several papers and magazines for that invalid, and at least half a dozen illustrated papers and as many magazines or paper-bound books for herself, which she knew contained material of some kind in which she had expressed an interest. Then came three large thick packages, one marked "Misses Marjorie, Susan, and Honoria Carruthers," another "Masters John and Michael Carruthers," and the third "Miss Marjorie C. Thomas and Co." The young lady with the Co. laid violent hands upon her own property; but that of the young Carruthers was given to their mother, along with her letters. Miss Du Plessis, failing to receive anything of her own, carried the dominie's spoil to him, and found that some of the magazines, though sent to his name, were really meant for her, at least dear Farquhar said so. Mrs. Carruthers opened her Toronto letter and read it over with amusement. Then she held up an enclosure between forefinger and thumb, saying, "You see, Marjorie, it is unsealed, so I think I must read it, or give it to your mother to read first, in case it should not be right for you to receive it." But Miss Carmichael made a dash at the document, and bore it off triumphantly to her own room, along with her literary pabulum. It was dated Friday afternoon, so that he could not have been long in the city when he wrote it, and ran thus:—
My Dear Miss Carmichael,—I wish to apologize to you very humbly, and, through you, but not so humbly, to Mr. Lamb, for any harsh, and apparently cruel, things I said to or about him. Your aunt, Mrs. Thomas, whom I met, with the Captain and Sylvanus, on their way to the schooner, enlightened me regarding Mr. Lamb's history, of which I was entirely ignorant while at Bridesdale. I should be sorry to think I had been guilty of wilfully wounding the feelings of anyone in whom you take the slightest interest, and I trust you will pardon me for writing that, apart from my natural gratitude for your patience with me and your kindness to me, a mere stranger, there is no one in the world I should be more sorry to offend than yourself. Believe me,
My dear Miss Carmichael, Ever yours faithfully, EUGENE CORISTINE.
P.S.—I have taken the liberty of addressing to you some trifles I thought might interest the kind friends at Bridesdale. E.C.
The note was satisfactory so far as it went, but there was not enough of it; no word about the gloves, the ring, the half confession, the promise, no word about coming back. Still, it was better than nothing. Eugene could be dignified too; she would let everybody see that letter.
"I hope you had a nice letter, Marjorie?" asked Mrs. Carruthers. "You would like, perhaps, to read what Mr. Coristine has to say to me." Her niece replied that the letter was quite satisfactory, and the ladies exchanged documents. That of Mrs. Carruthers read:—
Dear Mrs. Carruthers,—Since I left your hospitable mansion I have been like a boy that has lost his mother, not to speak of the rest of the family. I look at myself like the poor newsboy, who was questioned about his parents and friends, and who, to put an end to the enquiries, answered: "Say, mister, when you seen me, you seen all there is on us." Please tell Marjorie Thomas, and your own little ones, that, perhaps, if I am good and am allowed, I may run up before the end of next month, to see if the fall flowers are out, and if they have left any crawfish and shiners in the creek. Will you kindly give the inclosure to Miss Carmichael, with whom, through my foolishness, I had an awkward misunderstanding that still troubles me a good deal. If I had known I was offending her, I would not have done it for the world. I cannot sufficiently thank you for your great kindness to my friend Wilkinson and me, nor shall I soon forget the happiest days of my life in your delightful home. Please make my sincere apologies to the Squire, and any other dear friends whom I may have left abruptly, under the peculiar circumstances of my departure. Remember me gratefully to Mrs. Carmichael, Mrs. Du Plessis, and the young ladies, and give my love to all the children. I am, dear Mrs. Carruthers, Very sincerely and thankfully yours, EUGENE CORISTINE.
P.S.—Please forgive me for sending a few bonbons for the children by this mail. E.C.
"That's a very nice gentlemanly letter, Marjorie," said Mrs. Carruthers, returning it.
"I like yours better, Aunty; it is not so stiff."
"Nonsense, you silly girl. I am only 'dear' and you are 'my dear.' He thinks of me as a mother, and of you as the chief person in the world. I think you are getting vain and greedy, Marjorie. Well, I must put these bonbons away, or the children will see them, and will be making themselves too ill to go to church. Where is cousin Marjorie?"
"Oh, she is off with her box. Very likely she is giving some to uncle and grandpa. It's a great pity the Captain is not here; he has a sweet tooth. Do you know Tryphena has a letter from Sylvanus?"
"That accounts for her delay with the dishes. What other letters did you get?"
"None; only a lot of books, magazines, and illustrated papers from Mr. Coristine for the family."
"For the family, Marjorie?"
"Yes; did you not read the postscript?"
"To be sure I did; but you know better than to take that literally,—Marjorie, I think you're deep, deep."
"Do you think he will come here next month?"
"I am going to command my niece, Marjorie Carmichael, or to ask Marjorie's mother, to answer his letter for me, and to insist upon his coming back as soon as possible."
The aunt and niece had a kissing match, after which the latter said: "Thank you, aunt Honoria," and went out of the room, ready for the congratulations of the Bridesdale world.
Meanwhile Miss Du Plessis, having laid the dominie's wealth of postal matter before his eyes, at his request read the solitary letter.
My Dear Wilks,—I hope that, under your excellent corps of nurses and guardian angels, you are gradually recovering from your Falstaffian encounter with Ancient Pistol. Don't let Miss Du Plessis see this or she'll faint. I had a toughish ride to Collingwood, and part of the way back, the latter at the suggestion of Hickey Bangs. If I were as plucky for my size as that little fellow is, I could face a regiment. He got the prisoner safely caged, which is the proper thing to say about gaol birds. I came down with him and his select party this morning, meeting Captain and Mrs. Thomas and The Crew on the way. They wanted me to go on a cruise. The kindness of the whole Carruthers family is like the widow's curse; it's inexhaustible. Having been badly sold, however, over a Lamb, and cheap, too, I was not eligible for more sail. I write this, Wilks, more in sorrow than in anger, but I do hanker after those jolly Bridesdale days. Mrs. Marsh received me cordially, but not in character; she was the reverse of martial.—
"Really, Farquhar, this is very terrible," said Miss Du Plessis, laughing; "I hardly know whether to go on. Who knows what dreadful things may be before us?"
"The taste, Cecile, is shocking; otherwise any child might read his letters."
"I left off at 'martial.'"
I went to the office, very unlike the Squire's, and pulled White off his stool before he knew I was there. He told me I had just come in the nick of time, for he wants to go to some forsaken watering place down the Gulf—as Madame Lajeunesse said "Law baw"—and that immediately. So, I get my two weeks next month, by which time I hope to have got that next of kin matter straightened out. Then, if I'm let, I'll go up and have my golf with Mr. Errol on his links. How are his links matrimonial progressing, and Perrowne's, not to mention those of Ben Toner, Timotheus, yourself, and other minor personages? Will you commission me to buy the ring?—
"Really, dear, I think I must stop."
"Please do not, dear; there is not much more, is there?"
"Not much, but it is so personal!"
The York Pioneers are having an exhibition of antiques; couldn't you get somebody to send down our two knapsacks, it seems such an age since we started them? Ask Miss Du Plessis and Miss Carmichael what they meant giggling at them at the Brock Street station and on the train that Tuesday morning.—
"Farquhar, did he, did you think it was Marjorie and I who did that, what he calls giggling?"
"I certainly never thought you did, and I think it is only his banter."
"Neither Marjorie nor I could have so disgraced ourselves. Did you not see the school-girls behind us? I was ashamed of my sex."
"When you write Corry for me, you must give him a talking to for that."
"Very well; where was I, oh, yes, 'Tuesday morning.'"
I send a few lines by post. If there is anything in the world I can do for you, Wilks, let me know. If my presence can help you at all, I'll run up at a moment's warning. Love to all at Bridesdale. Sorry I made an ass of myself running away. Mail closes and must stop.
Your affectionate friend, EUGENE CORISTINE.
P.S.—Tell Errol to keep that pipe as a memorial of a poor deluded wretch who had hoped one day to call him by the paternal name. Fancy having the good minister for a step father-in-law! No such luck, as Toner would say. Adieu E.C.
"Is she fond of him, Cecile?"
"Yes, very much so."
"Is it not a pity, when they think so much of one another, that a mere trifle should keep them apart, perhaps for ever?"
"Yes it is, but I am not sorry for Marjorie. Kind heart and all, she ought to have had more sense and more forbearance than to have openly preferred that selfish creature, Mr. Lamb, to your warm-hearted friend."
"Corry is the soul of honour and generosity, Cecile, in spite of his hideous taste in language."
"That is a mere eccentricity, and does not affect his sterling qualities. I shall make it my duty to speak to Marjorie again. Good night, Farquhar dear!"
"Good night, Cecile, my darling, my guardian angel, as Corry rightly says."
Miss Tryphena Hill was reading Sylvanus' letter in the kitchen, first to herself. It ran as follows:—
A Board THE SUSAN THOMAS Friday noon.
My ever of thee I'm fondly dreaming, Tryphena,—U sed my spelins was caple of beterment so I got the tittle out of a song buk in the cars and wrot it down in the end lefe of the litel testymint you giv me wile the capen and the nusboy was int lukin on. How duz it tak yor i. The capen he brung Mrs. T long for a sale. I see Mr. Corstoene in the cars lukin poekit lik wat is the mater of him. He wooden cum long on the skuner. Giv my luv to Tryphosa and Timotheus i can get there names all rite out of the testymint NEW TESTAMENT Now my ever of thee Tryphena I am orf wunc more on the oshin waive and the hevin depe and If i never more cum bak but the blew waives role over yor Silvanus, the TESTAMENT dont spel it with a why, i left my wil at farthys in the yaler spelin buk on the sheluff nere the side windy levin all my property to my saley Tryphena. I wud of kist u of i had dard beefor I leff wen I am more prospuz i wil dar of I get slaped for it The capen has fyred the blungeybush and i must go ashore with the dingy and get the tavun boy to get ma a nenblope out of the orfis
Yore onley luving afekshunit saler boy SYLVANUS PILGRIM.
Just as Tryphena had finished this touching epistle, a knock came to the kitchen door. She opened it, and Mr. Perrowne appeared. "Is Timotheus here?" he asked. Timotheus himself answered, "Yaas sir!" when the parson said, "Would you mind bringing a spaide to help me to bury my poor dawg?" The willing Pilgrim rose, and went in quest of the implement, while Mr. Perrowne walked round to the verandah, under which lay the inanimate form of his long lost canine friend, over which he mourned sincerely. The Squire and Miss Halbert came out to assist at the obsequies, and were soon joined by Miss Carmichael and Mr. Terry, all of whom regretted the loss of poor Muggins, the children's friend.
"Do you think you will ever see your dog again, Basil?" asked the doctor's daughter.
"I down't know," replied the parson. "He was part of the creation that St. Paul says is growning and waiting for the redemption of the body from pain and disease and death. It used to be said that man ownly is naturally and necessarily immortal, but that is rubbish, built up on a pantheistic idea of Platow. If God continues the life of man beyond this world, I see no reason why He should not continue that of a dawg which has shared man's fight here below. There are some such good dawgs, don't you know, moral, kind, faithful dawgs!"
"Is it not the poor Indian who thinks his faithful dog shall bear him company in another world?" asked Miss Carmichael.
"Yes, it is Low; but really, in the great Sanscrit epic of the Bharatan war, King Yoodistheer is represented as refusing immortality, unless the god Indra will let him take his dawg to heaven along with him."
"And left his wife behind, did he not? He did not even hold her something better than his dog, a little dearer than his horse."
"Ow, now, I think Draupadee died before him. Still, it is a strange fact though that some people do love animals better than human beings."
"D'ye ken why?" asked the Squire, with a glance at his niece. "It's because they're no as exacting and fashious as beass."
"Well, there's a lesson for you, Fanny. Good-night. I must gow to my sermon and the hymns." So Mr. Perrowne departed, and the mourners returned to the house.
On Sunday it rained; nevertheless all went to their respective churches, except the Carruthers children, whom Tryphena kept in order, and the colonel, who sat with Wilkinson. Both clergymen preached impressively with reference to the events of the past week, and, at the close of the services, they both repaired to Bridesdale for dinner. In the afternoon they rode to their respective stations, but the Squire stayed at home to teach the children and read to them, while they devoured the contents of the lawyer's elaborate boxes. Tryphosa and Timotheus had to do their singing in the kitchen, in which they were joined by Tryphena and Maguffin. The latter had a very soft rich voice, and made a great addition to the musical performance. The colonel smoked an after dinner cigar, and Mr. Terry a pipe, on a dry part of the verandah. The young ladies overhauled the entire collection of literature sent to Miss Carmichael and to Wilkinson, and read a good many things that were not for Sunday. As to the three matrons, it is nobody's business what they did with their afternoon. Mr. Perrowne came back to his Fanny in the evening, and Mr. Errol, to have "a crack" with Mrs. Carmichael. Monday was fair enough to permit of a game of golf between the parsons, with the colonel and the veteran for spectators. Miss Halbert went home in the evening, and so, except for the wounded dominie upstairs and the colonel, things went on in the usual jog-trot way, for Miss Du Plessis had been at Bridesdale before. Letters and papers came from Coristine to the bedridden dominie, and another package for Marjorie, before Saturday night, but none for anybody else, for the reason that Miss Du Plessis had written him simply at Wilkinson's dictation, and Mrs. Carruthers and Miss Carmichael had not written at all. In her round of household duties and the care of a young family, the former had forgotten all about her letter, and the latter did not know what to say for herself, and did not feel disposed to humiliate her sense of self-respect by reminding her aunt of her promise. Another Sunday passed without other incident than Mr. Errol's visit. Mr. Perrowne spent most of his spare time at the Halbert's. But, Monday night's post brought an official envelope, type-written, from the offices of Tylor, Woodruff and White for Miss M. Carmichael. She opened it, with a feeling of irritation against somebody, and read the wretched type-writing:—
Dear Madam,—I have the honour to inform you that I have received a cable message from Mr. P.R. Mac Smaill, W.S., of Edinburgh, to the effect, that, as very large interests are involved in the case which I had the honour to claim on your behalf as next of kin, his nephew, Mr. Douglas, sailed to-day (Saturday) for Montreal, vested with full powers to act in concert with your solicitors. As my firm has no written instructions from you to act in the matter, I am prepared to hand over the documents and information in my possession to the solicitors whom you and your guardians may be pleased to appoint to deal with Mr. Douglas on his arrival. Awaiting your instructions, I have the honour to remain,
Dear madam, Your obedient servant, EUGENE CORISTINE.
Nothing but the signature was in his writing; this was terrible, the worst blow of all.
She took the letter to uncle John in the office and laid it down before him. He read it gravely, and then bestowed a kiss of congratulation on his niece. "I aye kennt your fayther was weel conneckit, Marjorie, but lairge interests in the cen o' writers to the signet like Mac Smaill means a graun' fortune, a muckle tocher, lassie. We maun caa' your mither doon to talk it owre." So Mrs. Carmichael came to join the party. Her daughter wished to appoint some other firm of lawyers in Toronto, or else to leave all in the hands of Mac Smaill, but the Squire and Mrs. Carruthers would not hear of either alternative. They knew Coristine, and could trust him to work in the matter like one of themselves; so the young lady's scruples were outwardly silenced, and the Squire was duly authorized to conduct the correspondence with the lawyer. This he did in twofold fashion. First he wrote:—
EUGENE CORISTINE, ESQ., Messrs. Tylor, Woodruff and White.
Dear Sir, Although my niece, Marjorie Carmichael, is of legal age, it is her desire and that of her mother that I, in the capacity of guardian, should authorize you or your firm, as I hereby do in her name, to prosecute her claim as the heir of the late Dr. James Douglas Carmichael, M.P., to the fortune advertised by P.R. Mac Smaill, W.S., of Edinburgh as falling her late father, and to conduct all necessary negotiations with Mr. Mac Smaill and his clients in the case. Kindly notify me at once of your acceptance of the trust, and make any necessary demands for funds and documents as they may be required. Yours, JOHN CARRUTHERS, J.P.
The other letter was:—
My Dear Coristine, What do you mean, you scamp, by frightening the wits out of my poor lassie with that typewritten bit of legal formality? I have a great mind to issue a warrant for your arrest, and send Rigby down with it, to bring you before me and Halbert and Walker. Man, we would put you through better than Osgoode Hall! But, seriously, we all want you to stick to this next of kin case. Spare no expense travelling about, especially if your travel is in this direction. I think you are not judging Marjorie fairly, not that I would throw my bonnie niece at the head of a prince of the blood, but I have taken a great liking to you, and I know that you have more than a great liking for her. So, no more nonsense. Honoria and Marjorie (Mrs. Carmichael), and all the rest of Bridesdale, send kind love and say "come back soon." Yours affectionately, JOHN CARRUTHERS.
Mrs. Carruthers also wrote a note that will explain itself:—
Dear Mr. Coristine,—Please to overlook my long delay in replying to your kind letter and in thanking you for your goodness to the children, who miss you very much, I intended to get Marjorie or her mother to write for me, but in the bustle of housework, preserving, and so on, forgot, which was not kind of me. Father desires me to remember him to you, and says he longs for another smoke and talk. The others have a delicacy in writing, so I am compelled to do it myself, though a very poor correspondent. John has told me about Mr. Douglas coming out to see about Marjorie's fortune. As I suppose he will want to see her and her mother, will you please bring him up yourself, and arrange to give us a long visit. Marjorie Thomas says there are many new flowers out, and that she and my little ones have hardly touched the creek since you left us.
With kind regards, Your very sincere friend, HONORIA CARRUTHERS.
Coristine came home jaded on Wednesday evening. The day had been hot, and in the absence of all the other principals, the work had been heavy. He had interested himself, also, in lady typewriters since his return, and had compelled some to take a much-needed holiday. Four unopened letters from Bridesdale were in his pocket, which he had saved for after dinner. At that meal, the young men of Mrs. Marsh's grown-up family rallied him on his lack of appetite and general depression. He had not made a pun for four days running, a thing unprecedented. Dinner over, he slipped away to his rooms, lit a pipe, and read the letters, the contents of two of which, three including the Squire's formal one, are already known. Another, in a fine clerkly hand, was from Mr. Errol.
My Dear Mr. Coristine,—A thousand thanks for the bonny pipe, which I fear you must have missed. I shall take great care of it as a memorial of pleasant, though exciting, days. I wish you were here to help Perrowne and me at our cricket and golf, and to have a little chat now and then on practical theology. My ministerial friend is that infatuated with Miss Halbert (they are engaged, you know) I can get very little out of him. Mrs. Carmichael sends her kind regards. Her daughter Marjorie is looking pale and lifeless, I do trust the dear lassie is not going like her poor father. We all love to hear her sing, but she has got that Garden of Gethsemane poem of his set to music. It is very beautiful but far too sad for her young life. I have been visiting your friend Mr. Wilkinson, pastorally, and am just delighted with him. He is a man of a very fine mind and most devout spirit. Miss Cecile and he will suit one another admirably. Colonel Morton is wearying for your society, and so is the good old grandfather. If it will not be putting you to too much trouble, will you ask your bookseller to get me a cheap Leipsic edition of Augustine's "De Civitate Dei," as I wish to polish up my patristic Latin, in spite of the trash written in it, that still defiles our theological teaching. I have been visiting Matilda Nagle, and even that old reprobate, Newcome, who got a terrible shaking in his last nefarious adventure. Matilda is doing remarkably well, and her boy is quite bright and intelligent. Half a dozen cases of sickness in my two charges have kept me from writing, especially as one was a case of infection. Haste ye back to all your warm friends here.
Yours very faithfully, HUGH ERROL.
The last was a stuffy envelope addressed correctly to Mister Eugene Coristine, in the hand of a domestic, Tryphosa probably, and contained some half dried flowers, among which a blue Lobelia and a Pentstemon were recognizable, along with a scrap of a letter in large irregular characters.
Derest Eugene—Wat makes you stay sew long a way. This is meter as Pol sed to Petre put on the gridel and take of the heter. A lot more flours are out in bloome like the ones I send with my love so dear fete have been in the creke sints you went a way I think that pig is sory she made you go now the chilren granpa sed to me to rite you to come back for a smok. Dere mister Bigls has gone too and no nice one is left give my love to Tyler and say he must let you go for the house is sew quite their is no more fun in it. Feena got a funy leter from old Sil with moste orfle speling the pusy is well but pore Mug in ded. It was verry good of you to send me candes but I like to have you beter Your litel love MARJORIE.
The lawyer put this letter reverently away in a special drawer which contained his peculiar treasures, but registered a vow to reprove his little love for applying the word pig to a young lady. He did not know whether to be glad or sorry that Miss Carmichael's case was left in his hands. Of course he could not refuse it. If this man Douglas had to go up to Bridesdale, he supposed he would have to introduce him, and watch him on behalf of his client. A great heiress, perhaps with a title for all he knew, would be very unlikely to take more than a passing interest in her solicitor. Still, it cut him to the heart that the girl was as Mr. Errol represented her. Doubtless she was quite right in not acknowledging his business note in person. Then he laid down his pipe, put his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands, exclaiming bitterly, "O Marjorie, Marjorie."
Before the end of the week, the Squire received answers to his official and non-official letters, accepting the trust confided to him, and regretting that Miss Carmichael had given the writer no opportunity of more fully explaining himself. The non-official letter also stated that the lady's position was so much changed by the prospect of a large fortune as to make it little less than dishonourable in him to press his suit, at least in the meantime. Mrs. Carruthers also received a promise that the lawyer would, if practicable, accompany Mr. Douglas to Bridesdale. Mr. Errol reported a nice letter received by him from the same quarter, along with the "Civitate Dei" and some reviews. Wilkinson was in clover so far as papers and magazines were concerned, and both Miss Carmichael and Miss Du Plessis were remembered with appropriate literary pabulum of the same nature. More bonbons for the juveniles arrived by Saturday night, and a letter for Marjorie.
My Dear Little Love, Marjorie.—It was very kind of you to remember your poor boy in his exile from home in the big, hot, dusty city. I liked your dear little letter very much, all except that one word about you know who. I am sure you did not think, or you would never have written so of one so good and kind to you and me. You will not say that any more I am sure. I have put your letter and the flowers you were so kind as to pick and dry for me in my best drawer where I keep my treasures. I send you a new picture book just out, with many coloured plates of flowers in it. When I come up you must tell me if you know their names. Please tell your cousins' grandpapa that I would like very much if he were here, or I were there, that we might have a nice quiet smoke and talk together. I am sorry poor old Muggins is dead. You did not tell me what killed him. Tryphena ought to make Sylvanus buy a spelling book to study while he is on watch in your papa's ship. Your papa and mamma asked me to go for a sail with them, but I had to go to town. Now, my little love, be very kind and nice to everybody, and above all to your dear cousins, big and little, and when I come up and hear how good you have been, we will fish in the creek on week days and sing some of those pretty hymns on Sunday. Do you ever go to see my poor sick friend Wilks? I think he would like to see a little girl some times. Try him with a bonbon and with the poetry under the pictures of flowers in your new book. Give my love to all the kind friends, and keep a great lot for your dear little self.
From your own EUGENE.
"Where is the book?" asked Marjorie, when the letter was read to her by the lady whom she had written so slightingly of. Miss Carmichael looked over her own mail matter, and found a large flat volume addressed Miss Marjorie Carmichael, while the other packages bore simply Miss Carmichael. She opened it up, and found the book demanded. The lawyer had been so full of the name that he had written it mechanically, instead of Miss Marjorie Thomas. Marjorie was not well pleased that her cousin should have usurped her book, but loyalty to Eugene made her suppress any expression of indignation. Mr. Terry had to read that letter through his spectacles, and Tryphosa; and on Sunday she proposed to invade the sanctity of Mr. Wilks' chamber and interest him in both letter and book.
The Sunday came and went, and then the slow week dragged along. Whoever would have thought that, a short time ago, they had been so cheerful, so merry, even with danger threatening and death at their door. The dominie was out of his room at last, walking about with his arm in a sling, rejoicing in changes of raiment which Coristine had sent from his boarding house by express and the mail waggon. The city clothes suited him better than his pedestrian suit, and made him the fashionable man of the neighbourhood. In conversation over his friend, he remarked that he was pleased to find Corry toning down, writing quiet sensible letters, without a single odious pun. "Puir laddie!" said the Squire, "if it wad mak him blither, I could stan' a haill foolscap sheet o' them. I'm feard the city's no' agreein' wi' him." Before noon on Friday there came a hard rider to the Bridesdale gate, a special telegraph messenger from Collingwood, with a telegram for Mrs. Carruthers. She took it hastily from Timotheus, and, breaking the seal, read to the group gathered about her: "If agreeable, Douglas and I will be with you by Saturday's stage. Please answer by bearer. Eugene Coristine." The Squire, home a little sooner than usual, said: "Let me answer that, Honoria," and retired to his office. When he came out, it was with a written paper in his hand, which he read for approval. "You and Douglas heartily welcome—will meet you at station, so do not disappoint." This was accepted by a unanimous vote; after which the messenger partook of a hasty meal, as did his horse, and then galloped back to town. "The waggonette will hold six," said the Squire; "that's Coristine, Mr. Douglas and me. Who are the other three? Will you no come, Marjorie? The ride'll dae ye guid, lass."
No, Miss Carmichael declined, and the Squire was inwardly wroth. Mrs. Carmichael took the place offered to her daughter, and Marjorie Thomas and Mr. Terry volunteered to make up the required number. It seemed such a long time till Saturday morning, but Marjorie tried to shorten it, by running everywhere and telling everybody that Eugene was coming. The whole house caught the infection. Tryphena and Tryphosa were kept busy, preparing already for a late six o'clock dinner on the morrow. There was a putting of rooms in order for the coming guests, during which Miss Carmichael, conscience stricken, returned the lawyer's verses to the leaves of Browning. She dreaded meeting the author of them, and found comfort in the fact that he was not coming alone. If she had not been, in her own estimation, such a coward, she would have gone on a visit to Fanny, but she dared not thus offend her uncle and aunt, and desert her mother and Cecile. What was he coming for? She had not sent for him. Why did she not want him to come? She did not know, and it was the right of nobody to question her on the subject. She only knew that she was very unhappy, and hoped she would not act stupidly before the stranger from Edinburgh.
That night the Squire received a letter from Coristine, written on Thursday, saying that Mr. Douglas had arrived, and was a very fine fellow; and that, as soon as he had made up his mind to go to Bridesdale, a telegram would be sent. He also requested Mr. Carruthers, if it was not trespassing too far upon his kindness, to secure the rooms, which the postmistress had told him she had to let, for Miss Graves, a young lady in his firm's offices, who needed complete rest and change of scene, and who would either go up by the stage on Saturday or accompany Mr. Douglas and him at a later date. The letter was read at the tea table, and Miss Du Plessis said she knew Marion Graves very well, and was glad to think she would be so near, as she was a lovely girl; but what a strange thing for Mr. Coristine to recommend her to come to Flanders! "Oi'm thinkin'," remarked Mr. Terry, "that av the young lady in dilikit loike, it 'ud be a marcy to kape her aff that rough stage; so, iv yer willin', Squoire, I'll shtay at home an' lave my place to put the poor lady in inshtid av me." Mrs. Carruthers would not hear of the veteran's losing the drive, and resigned her seat. Honoria would probably want her at any rate, so it was very foolish and selfish in her to have thought of going. "There maun be some one o' the female persuasion, as good old Newberry calls it, to invite Miss Graves and to keep her company, especially if she's an invalid," said the Squire. "I will go, uncle," said Miss Carmichael, quietly. The uncle was amazed at this new turn things were taking, and arranged in his mind to have Miss Graves and Mr. Douglas with him in the front seat, and Coristine between the two Marjories behind. After tea, Timotheus and Maguffin were sent to invite Miss Halbert and the two clergymen to the Saturday evening dinner, but, by Mrs. Carruthers' directions, the postmistress was not notified that her rooms were wanted. If Miss Graves were all that Cecile said of her, she had remarked, she would be better at Bridesdale, and would also be an acceptable addition to the number of their guests.
Saturday morning was a time of wild excitement for Marjorie. She went to the brook by anticipation, to look at the sportive fish, and turned up a flat stone or two, to be sure the crawfish, which the ignorant Timotheus called crabs, were still there. She was prepared to report favourably on the creek. Then she journeyed along the banks, looking for new flowers, and over the stepping stones to the opposite shore, and up the hill to the strip of brush, returning with a handful of showy wild blossoms. Next, she visited the stable yard, and watched Timotheus and Maguffin polishing up the waggonette and the harness of the horses. The colonel was there, and, in answer to Marjorie's enquiry regarding his interest in the scene, said: "You are not going to leave me behind, you little puss, although you did not invite me. I have invited myself, and am going to accompany you on hohseback."
"Are you going to take Guff too, colonel?"
"Who is Guff, my deah?"
"Don't you know Guff?"
"No; I am not awahe that I do."
"Oh Guffee am de niggah Wif de tah on his heel; He done trabble roun' so libely Dat he's wuff a mighty deal."
"You do not shuhly mean Maguffin?"
"Of course I do; who else could be Guff?"
"No, I shall not take Maguffin, seeing we come right back. Had we been going to put up anywheah, of couhse, he would have been indispensable."
"What a funny name! Do you mean the waggonette?"
"By what, Mahjohie?"
"By this fencepail?"
"Silly child, I did not say that. I said indispensable, which means, cannot be done without."
"Oh!" answered Marjorie; "it's a long word, is it?"
There was no necessity for starting before ten, at which hour Timotheus brought round the waggonette, and Maguffin the colonel's horse. The Squire assisted the two Marjories to the front seat, and took his place beside the younger. The colonel chivalrously bowed to the ladies while on foot; then, he mounted his horse with a bound, and the transport and escort trotted away. Mr. Terry, alone and neglected, betook himself to the Carruthers children, who soon found many uses to which a good-natured grandfather could be put, to the advantage and pleasure of his grandchildren.
The Collingwood Arrivals—Coristine Goes to the Post Office—Mr. Perrowne is Funny—Bang's Note and the Lawyer's Fall—Coristine in Hospital—Miss Carmichael Relents—Bangs on the Hunt—The Barber—Mr. Rigby on Wounds—Berry-Picking with the New Arrivals—The Lawyer's Crisis—Matilda's—Miss Carmichael in Charge.
The train had just come in when Squire Carruthers' party arrived at the station, so nicely had he timed his driving. As there was nobody to hold the horses, he kept his seat, while Coristine, looking faultlessly neat in his town dress, came forward and assisted Miss Carmichael and Marjorie to alight. Having asked the former's permission, the lawyer introduced Miss Graves, a young lady not unlike Miss Du Plessis in stature and carriage, but with larger, though handsome, features and lighter complexion. Then, Mr. Douglas, a fine-looking blonde man of masculine Scottish type, was made acquainted with his fair client, and with her nominal guardian on the box. Finally, the colonel, standing by his horse's head, bowed with genial dignity to the new arrivals, and warmly pressed the hand of his dear boy's friend. The Squire's little scheme was frustrated. His niece, without asking advice or permission from anybody, placed Miss Graves beside the driver, and established herself on the same seat, leaving Marjorie between the two gentlemen on the one behind, after they had bestowed their valises and Miss Graves' portmanteau in their rear. Beyond a ceremonious handshake, Miss Carmichael gave Coristine no recognition, although she could not have failed to perceive his delight at once more meeting her. To Miss Graves, however, she was all that could be desired, cheerful, even animated, and full of pleasant conversation. Marjorie kept her Eugene and the new gentleman busy. She reported on the creek, and presented her faded bouquet of wild flowers, which Eugene received with all the semblance of lively satisfaction. She made many enquiries regarding the big girl in front, and insisted especially on knowing if she was nice. Then she turned to Mr. Douglas and asked his name.
"My name is Douglas," he answered.
"Oh, I know that, even Timotheus himself knows that. I mean what's your real name, your very own, the name your mamma calls you?"
"She used to call me James."
"Oh; have you got a brother called John?"
"Yes; how did you know that?"
"Oh, I know. Then your papa's name is Zebedee, and your mamma's is Salome."
"No, we are not those two James and Johns; they are dead."
"They are the only James and John I know."
"I don't think so. Your uncle, Dr. Carmichael, was called James Douglas, like me."
"Marjorie's dead papa?"
"Yes; your cousin is a sort of far-away cousin of mine; so you must be one of my cousins, too. What do you think of that?"
"I think it's nice to have a growed-up man cousin. I'll call you Jim."
"Marjorie!" said a reproving voice from the front seat; "you must not talk to Mr. Douglas in that pert way."
"If my cousin lets me call him Jim, it's none of your business, cousin Marjorie. You will let me, won't you, cousin Jim?"
"To be sure, if Miss Carmichael will allow me."
"I don't think it's fair to let her boss the whole show."
Mr. Douglas laughed loud and long over this expression, so novel to his British ears.
"Where did you learn that, Marjorie?" asked Coristine.
"Oh, from Guff; there's heaps of fun in Guff."
Her companions occasionally took advantage of silent intervals to discuss the scenery, and the Canadian lawyer pointed out spots, memorable in the great pedestrian tour, to his Scottish compeer. Miss Carmichael never turned, nor did she give Miss Graves a chance to do so; but the Squire managed to sit sideways, without at all incommoding the ladies, and, keeping one eye on his horses, at the same time engaged in conversation with Marjorie's captives. The colonel also kept close to the vehicle, and furnished Coristine with new information concerning his wounded friend. Miss Graves was informed that she was not to be allowed to go to the post office, and her protests were imperiously silenced by Marjorie's "boss of the whole show." The horses, having come out quietly, went home at a rattling pace, and, a good hour before dinner time, the party arrived at Bridesdale, there to be greeted by Miss Halbert and the parsons, in addition to the occupants of the house. Wilkinson and Mr. Terry received Coristine with enthusiasm, but all the ladies bore down upon the latest arrival of their sex and carried her away, leaving the man, in whom they had expressed so much interest, to feel as if there were a plot on foot to ignore him.
"It mast be very pleasant for you, Corry, to find all the ladies so attentive to your lady friend," remarked the Dominie.
"Very pleasant for Miss Graves, no doubt; I can't say the same about myself."
"I should have thought you would have regarded a compliment to her as more gratifying than one to yourself."
"Haven't reached that heavenly stage of Christian self-abnegation yet, Wilks."
"Perhaps I am mistaken in supposing you take a great interest in the lady?"
"Interest, yes; great, more than doubtful. She's the third girl I've had to send away for the good of her health. The other two knew where to go, and went. She didn't; so I thought of establishing her at the post office. I never dreamt the Squire would come for us till I got his message. I meant to accompany her in the stage, and land her in the arms of Mrs. Tibbs; but here we are, like a bridal party, with Marjorie for bridesmaid and Douglas for best man."
"Thank you, Corry; you have relieved me from a great anxiety. Miss Du Plessis thinks very highly of your —— travelling companion."
"Douglas, do you mean?"
"No, the lady."
"Oh, bother the lady! Wilks, it's a doubly grave situation. If it wasn't for Mr. Terry and Marjorie, I'd cut my stick. As it is, I'll run and engage that post-office room for myself, and be back in time for dinner or whatever else is up. Au revoir." With a bound he was off the verandah, valise in hand, and away on to the road.
When Coristine returned, he was just in time for dinner. He had not been missed; the entire interest of the feminine part of the community was centred in Miss Graves. The Squire took her in, as the latest lady arrival, while Mr. Douglas escorted the hostess. To his infinite annoyance, Coristine, who had brought in Mrs. Du Plessis, was ostentatiously set down by the side of his invalided type-writer, to whom he was the next thing to uncivil. Miss Carmichael, between Mr. Douglas and Mr. Errol, was more than usually animated and conversational, to the worthy minister's great delight. The amusing man of the table was Mr. Perrowne. His people were building him a house, which Miss Halbert and he had inspected in the morning, with a view to the addition of many cupboards, which the lady deemed indispensable to proper housekeeping. Mr. Perrowne thought he would call the place Cubbyholes; but Miss Du Plessis asked what it would really be, the rectory, the vicarage or the parsonage? Miss Halbert suggested the basilica, to which he replied that, while a good Catholic, he was neither Fannytic nor a Franciscan. He derided his intended bride's taste in architecture, and maintained that the income of a bishop would be insufficient to stock half the storerooms and wardrobes, leaving all the rest of the house unfurnished. As it was, he feared that the charming Fanny would be in the predicament of old Mother Hubbard, while he, unfortunately, would be in that of the dog. "In that case, Basil," said Miss Halbert, "you would be like an inclined plane."
"How so?" enquired Mr. Perrowne.
"An inclined plane is a slope up, you know," answered the mischievous bride elect.
"Talking about dawgs," remarked the victim of the terrible conundrum, "I asked a little girl belonging to one of my parishoners what kind her dawg was. She said it had been given to her as a spanuel, but she thought it was only a currier."
"When I was at the school," said the Edinburgh gentleman, "a boy whom I had offended some way, offered to make the like of me with a street cur and an old gun. He said he could make 'one dowg less' in the time it took to fire the gun."
"What did you do to that boy, Mr. Douglas?" asked Miss Carmichael.
"I left him alone, for he was a good deal bigger than me."
"You were not a Boanerges then?"
"No, I was James the Less."
"What are you dreaming about, Mr. Coristine," called the Squire, "to let all this wild talk go on without a word?"
"I am sorry to say I did not hear it, Squire," replied the moody lawyer, whose little conversation had been wholly devoted to Mrs. Du Plessis.
After dinner, the lawyer repaired to the Squire's office, and briefly informed him, that the fortune in funds and property to which his niece had fallen heir was valued at 80,000 pounds sterling, and that, fortunately, there was no sign of any contest or opposition in the matter. He also explained that, under the circumstances, he felt constrained to take a brief lodging at the post office, and begged Mr. Carruthers to apologize to his wife for the desertion of Bridesdale. Then, he sought out Mr Terry in the garden and smoked a pipe with him, while his new friend, Mr. Douglas, was chatting on the verandah between Miss Carmichael and Miss Graves. Nobody else seemed to want him or care for him; he had even lost his old friend Wilks, who was absorbed in his beloved Cecile. The colonel was as bad with Cecile's mother, and Mr. Errol with Mrs. Carmichael. The Squire was busy, so the veteran and he were left alone. For a time, they smoked and talked, listening all the while, as they could not fail, to the merry badinage of the party on the verandah. At last he could stand it no longer. He rose, bade his companion good-night, and strolled away on to the road. Once out of observation from the house, he walked rapidly to his new quarters. "Is that you, Styles?" asked Mrs. Tibbs, as he entered. He assured the postmistress that he was not Styles, and asked if there was anything he could do for her. "There is a letter here for Squire Carruthers, marked 'immediate,' and they have not been for their mail," she answered. So, sorely against the grain, the lawyer had to take the letter and return with it to Bridesdale. Mr. Carruthers was still in his office. He opened the envelope and read:—
COLLINGWOOD, Saturday, 12 m. My Dear Squire,—
Rawdon and his nephew have broken gaol and escaped. Be on your guard. Will go to you as soon as possible.
Yours truly, J. HICKEY BANGS.
"This is bad news, Coristine. It seems as if we're never to hear the last o' yon villain."
"I'm at your service, Squire."
"I canna thole to ask the colonel, puir man, to lose his nicht's rest, an' I'm no ower sure o' his man. Sae, the granther an' I'll watch till it's twal', if you wi' Timotheus 'll relieve us till two i' the mornin'. What say ye to thon?"
"All right, I'll be here at midnight. Could you get me the cartridges out of my knapsack upstairs?"
The Squire produced the cartridges, and the lawyer went back to his post-office quarters.
Punctually at midnight he returned, and relieved Mr. Carruthers in front of the house, while Timotheus took Mr. Terry's place behind. It was after one when he saw a figure, which he did not recognize as belonging to any one in the house, steal out of the front door with a heavy burden. He ran towards the figure, and it stole, as rapidly as possible, down the garden to the hill meadow. He knew it now, outlined against the heavens, and fired his revolver. He knew that he had hit his man, and that Rawdon was wounded in the body or in the upper part of a leg. Hurriedly he pursued, entering the strip of woodland towards the brook, when something fell upon him, and two keen qualms of pain shot through his breast. Then he lay insensible. Meanwhile, a lithe active form, leaving a horse tethered at the gate, had sprung to meet a second intruder, issuing from the front door of Bridesdale. The opposing forces met, and Mr. Bangs had his hands upon the younger gaol breaker. A loud shout brought Timotheus on the scene, and the prisoner was secured. The household was aroused. The Squire found his office a scene of confusion, his safe broken open, the hidden treasure and many of his papers gone. Inwardly he muttered maledictions on the sentry of the watch, little knowing that the burglars had entered the house while he was himself on guard. In his vexation, and the general excitement, with the presence of Miss Graves and Messrs. Douglas and Bangs, the unhappy lawyer's absence was overlooked. His shot apparently had not been heard. The vicinity of the house was scoured for Rawdon, but without effect. He had got away with his own money and many incriminating papers, to be a continued source of annoyance and danger. Those who gave any thought to Coristine imagined him asleep at the post office, and wondered at his indifference. Chief among them were the dominie and Miss Carmichael. There was little more rest that night in Bridesdale. One villain at large was sufficient to keep the whole company in a state of uncomfortable disquiet and apprehension. It was still dark, when old Styles came to the gate and asked for Mr. Coristine, as he said the crazy woman was at the post office, and Mrs. Tibbs wanted to know if she could have the use of the spare room for the rest of the night. Then the Squire was alarmed, and a great revulsion of feeling took place. The man almost entirely ignored was now in everybody's mind, his name on all lips but those which had been more to him than all the rest.
Stable lanterns were got out, and an active search began. Mr. Terry's practiced ear caught the sound of voices down the hillside, and he descended rapidly towards them. Soon, he came running back, tearing at his long iron grey hair, and the tears streaming from his eyes, to the place where his son-in law was standing. "Get a shate or a quilt or something, John, till we take it out av that Och, sorra, sorra, the foine, brave boy!" At once, Mr. Douglas and Timotheus accompanied the Squire to the little wood, and beheld the owners of the voices, Mr. Newcome and his intending son-in-law, Ben Toner.
"Aw niver tetched un, Ben. Aw wor jest goan troo t' bush, when aw stoombled laike over's carkidge and fall, and got t' blood on ma claws," said the former to his captor.
"S'haylp me," replied Ben, "ef I thunk it was you as killed the doctor, I'd put the barl o' this here gun to your hayd and blow out your braiuns."
"Don't let that man go," said the Squire to Toner.
"Ain't that what I come all this way fer?" answered the lover of Serlizer.
The Squire and the veteran, with terrible mental upbraidings, raised the body from its bed of leaves and wood-mould and placed it reverently upon the sheet, which it stained with blood at once. Then, while the colonel held one lantern and Wilkinson the other, Mr. Douglas and Timotheus took the other corners of the simple ambulance, and bore their burden to the house. In his own room they laid Rawdon's victim, removed the clothing from his wounds, washed away the clotted blood, only to despair over the flow that still continued, and rejoiced in the fact that life was not altogether extinct, when they handed him over to the care of the three matrons. While the colonel was sending Maguffin in search of the doctor, the voice of Squire Halbert was heard in the hall, saying he thought it must have been Miss Carmichael who had summoned him, at any rate it was a young lady from Bridesdale. He stanched the bleeding, administered stimulants, and ordered constant watching. "The body has suffered terribly," he said, "and has hardly any hold upon the soul, which may slip away from us at any moment." The good doctor professed his willingness to stay until the immediate crisis from loss of blood was overpast. To all enquiries he answered that he had very little hope, but he sent the kind ladies away from the death-like chamber, and established himself there with Wilkinson, who would not leave his friend.
The light of a beautiful Sunday morning found Miss Du Plessis, Miss Halbert, and Miss Graves in bitter sorrow, and little Marjorie beside herself with grief. The very kitchen was full of lamentation; but one young woman went about, silent and serious indeed, yet tearless. This was Miss Carmichael. The doctor had come down to breakfast, leaving the dominie alone with the patient, when she took a tray from Tryphena, and carried up the morning repast of the watcher. Then, for the first time, she got a sight of the wounded man, whose eyes the doctor had closed, and whose jaw by gentle pressure he had brought back, till the lips were only half parted. She could hardly speak, as she laid a timid hand on her late principal's shoulder, directing his attention to the breakfast tray. "Look away, please, for Cecile's sake if not for mine," she managed to stammer, and, as he turned his head aside, she flung herself upon her knees beside the bed, and took the apparently dead man's hand in her own, covered it with tears and kisses, and transferred the ring she had once worn back to her own hand, replacing it with one of her own that would hardly slip down over the bloodless emaciated finger. Quietly she arose, and noiselessly left the room, when the dominie returned to his watching and administration of stimulants. When she came down stairs, outwardly calm but looking as if she had seen a ghost, everybody, who was in the secret of past days, knew, and respected her silence. Even Mr. Douglas, who had thought to improve his distant cousinship, read there the vanity of all his hopes, and bestowed a double share of attention upon Miss Graves, charming in her genuine sorrow over her considerate employer. Nobody cared to go to church, but the good Squire pointed out that few could be of any service at home, and that, if ever they had need of the comforts of religion, it was at such a time. So Mr. Perrowne and Mr. Errol each received a quota of grief-stricken worshippers from Bridesdale, and, at the close of their respective services, mingled heartfelt expressions of sorrow with theirs. The clergymen declined to intrude upon the saddened household, until they could be of some service, so the worshippers returned as they went.
Mr. Bangs and the doctor were the lights of the dinner table, their professional acquaintance with all sorts of trouble hindering them from being overcome by anything of the kind. The former had sent for Mr. Rigby, and had placed the two prisoners in his charge, thus releasing Timotheus and Ben Toner. The latter reported that his patient was restored to animation, but this restoration was accompanied with fear and delirium, the effects of which on a rapidly enfeebled body he greatly dreaded. If he could keep down the cerebral excitement, all might be well, and for this he depended much on the presence with the sufferer of his friend, Mr. Wilkinson. Just as he said this, the dominie's voice was heard calling for assistance, and the doctor and the Squire sprang upstairs. The patient had broken his bandages, and was sitting up fighting with his attendant, whom in his delirium he identified with Rawdon. It was almost ludicrous to hear him cry, as he clutched at Wilkinson's throat: "Ah, Grinstuns, you double-dyed villain, I've got you now. No more free circus for you, Grinstuns!" With difficulty the three men got him down, and bandaged him again; but his struggles were so violent that they feared for his life. He recognized none of them. Little Marjorie heard his loud shouts, and ran to save her friend from his murderers, as she thought them to be. The Squire would have repelled her intrusion angrily, but Doctor Halbert said: "Come, little girl, and tell your poor friend he must be quiet, if he wants to live for you and the rest of us." It is hard to say what prompted her, but she took out a little tear-soaked handkerchief and laid it on Coristine's shoulder, calling, "Eugene, you silly boy". The silly boy closed his staring eyes, and then opened them again upon the child. "Is that you, pet Marjorie?" he asked feebly; and she sobbed out: "Yes, Eugene dear, it's me; I've come to help you to get well."
"Thank you, Marjorie; have I been sick long?"
"No, just a little while; but the doctor says you must be very very still, and do just what you're told. Will you, Eugene?"
"Yes; where's your cousin, Marjorie?"
"Can you turn your head? If you can, put it down, and I'll whisper something in your very own ear. Now listen! don't say a word till I come back. I'm going to bring cousin Marjorie to you." Then she slipped away out of the room.
"Doctor," said the Squire in a shaky voice, "we had aa better gang awa oot o' the room till the meetin's owre." So the three men withdrew to the hall as the two Marjories entered.
"Eugene," whispered little Marjorie, "have you been good while I was away, and not spoken?"
"Not a word, Marjorie," breathed rather than spoke the enfeebled lawyer.
"I have brought cousin Marjorie to you. You must be very good, and do all she says. Give me your hand." She took the limp hand, with the ring on the little finger, and placed it in her cousin's; then, with a touching little sigh, departed, leaving the two alone. Their hands lay clasped in one another, but they could not speak. His eyes were upon her, all the fierce light of delirium out of them, in spite of the fever that was burning in every limb, resting upon her face in a silly wistful way, as if he feared the vision was deceptive, or his prize might vanish at any moment. At last she asked: "Do you know me, Mr. Coristine?" and he murmured: "How could I help knowing you?" But, in a minute, he commanded himself, and said: "It is very kind of you to leave your friends and come to a stupid sick man. It is too much trouble, it is not right, please go away."
"Look me straight in the face, Eugene," said Miss Carmichael, with an effort. "Now, tell me, yes or no, nothing more, mind! Am I to go away?" As she asked the question, her face bent towards that of the sufferer, over which there passed a feeble flush, poor insufficient index of the great joy within, and then, as they met, his half-breathed answer was "No." She commanded silence, shook up his pillows, bathed his forehead, and in many ways displayed the stolen ring. He saw it, and, for the first time, perceived the change on his own hand. Then, she ordered him to go to sleep, as if he were a child, smoothing his hair and chanting in a low tone a baby's lullaby, until tired nature, with a heart at peace, became unconscious of the outer world and slumbered sweetly. On tiptoe, she stole to the door, and found many waiting in the hall for news. Proudly, she called the doctor in and showed him his patient, in his right mind and resting. "Thank God!" said the good man, "he is saved. We must come and relieve you now, Miss Carmichael." But she answered: "No, my place is here. If I want assistance I will call my uncle or Mr. Wilkinson." Doctor Halbert told the joyful news to the Squire and the assembled company. The clergymen would not arrive till tea time, so Mr. Carruthers, as the priest of the family, gathered the household together, and, in simple language but full of heart, thanked God for the young life preserved. The doctor went away home, but without Miss Fanny, and, as he drove off, remarked to the Squire, significantly: "There is no medicine in the world like love," a sentiment with which the Squire thoroughly agreed.
The evening was a very pleasant one. Messrs. Errol and Perrowne rejoiced to hear the good news from the sick room, and Mrs. Carmichael gave the former to understand, in a vague, yet to his intelligence perfectly comprehensible, way, that the assurance of her daughter's future happiness would remove a large obstacle in the way of her becoming the mistress of the manse. Mr. Perrowne appreciated Dr. Halbert's consideration in leaving his daughter at Bridesdale. The Du Plessis quartette were even farther advanced than the Carmichael four; and consequently Miss Graves was left to the entertainment of Mr. Douglas. The patient upstairs awoke, feeling very stiff and sore, but quite rational, and almost too happy to speak, which was a good thing, as his strength was that of a baby. He had to be lifted and turned, and propped up and let down, which the Squire generally did for him, under the head nurse's instructions, received from the doctor. Then he had to be fed, and begged to have his moustache curtailed, so as to facilitate the task. Two little hands, a comb, and a pair of scissors went to work, and, without annihilating the hirsute adornment, so trimmed it as to reveal a well-curved upper lip, hitherto almost invisible. It is astonishing what a sense of proprietorship this "barberous operation," as she termed it, developed in the heiress, who thought more of it than of her prospective thousands. It was past ten o'clock before she consented to yield her post to the devoted Wilkinson, who already began to look upon her as a sister, and to whom she gave directions, with all the gravity and superior dignity of an experienced nurse. The colonel would willingly have taken his turn in the sick room, but Mr. Terry, Mr. Douglas, and the Squire insisted on relieving him. Mr. Bangs was away with Ben Toner and two guns hunting for the Grinstun man. The watchers got along very well through the night, with the exception of the veteran, who was a little too liberal in the application of stimulants, which led to a reappearance of fever, and necessitated his calling in the aid of the ever-willing and kindly Honoria. Both the clergymen had volunteered to sit up with him, whom they were proud to call their friend, but it was not considered fair to impose upon them after the labours of their hardest day.
The morning saw Miss Carmichael in the sick room again, putting things to rights, purifying and beautifying it, as only a woman can, with the romantic and tearful, Shakespeare loving Tryphosa in her train. Poor little neglected Marjorie, who had performed for her young self an art of heroic sacrifice in handing over her own Eugene to her unworthy cousin, was allowed, a great and hitherto unheard of reward, to bring the patient an armful of flowers from the garden, gathering any blossoms she chose, to fill vases and slender button-hole glasses in every corner. She was even permitted to kiss Eugene, although she protested against the removal of that lovely moustache. She offered to bring Felina to lick off the stubble on her friend's chin, but that friend, in a wheezy whistling voice, begged that Maguffin might be substituted for the cat, in case pussy might scratch him. Maguffin came with the colonel's razors, and Marjorie looked on, while he gave the author of his present fortunes a clean shave, and made ironical remarks about moustache trimming. "Guess the man what trimmed yoh mustash fought he was a bahbah, sah?" The patient smiled seraphically, and whistled in his throat. "Never want to have a better, Maguffin."
"It's awful, Guff, isn't it?" asked Miss Thomas, and continued, "it quite gives me the horrows!"
"Dey's bahbahs and dey's bahbahs," replied the coloured gentlemen, "and I doan want ter blame a gennelum as cayn't help hisself."
The barbering completed, Marjorie junior was dismissed with her ally Guff, and the senior lady of that name reigned supreme. The eyes of the feeble invalid, whose heart had been hungering and thirsting for love during a month that had seemed a lifetime, followed her all over the room, and almost stopped beating when she went near the door. But she came back, and held that hot fevered hand on which her modest ring glistened, and cooled his brow, and made him take his sloppy food, and answered back in soft but cheery tones his deprecating whispers. She had him now safe, and would tyrannize over him, she said; till, spite of the weakness and the sharp pains, his eye began to twinkle with something of the old happy light that seemed to be of so long ago, and, smilingly, he murmured: "We are not ready for our graves yet." Miss Carmichael looked severe, and held up a warning finger. "Repeat that, Eugene, and I will send her to take care of you at once," she said; "that is, if she will leave her dear Mr. Douglas for a poor bed-ridden creature like you." As an affectionate salute followed these words, it may be presumed they were not so harsh as they sounded. The doctor came in time for breakfast, but, before partaking of that meal, he visited his patient, eased his bandages, looked to the wounds, and praised the nurse. "He could not be doing better," he said, as he cheerfully descended to the breakfast table.
The constable had respected the sanctity of the Sabbath, and was still in the kitchen, while his prisoners languished in the stables. Tryphena presided over the morning meal, at which Timotheus and Ben sat; and Tryphosa, who had just descended from her labours in the sick room, was giving them so touching and poetical an account of the invalid and his nurses that Timotheus began seriously to consider the propriety of having some frightful injury inflicted upon his own person. Mr. Toner related for the tenth time how the spurious doctor had cured him, and then proceeded to tell of Serlizer's wonderful skill in pulling through her shot-riddled old reprobate of a father, till "he was eenamost as good as new and a mighty sight heavier 'n he was, along o' the leaud in his old carkidge." Constable Rigby laughed at the wounds of the day, and characterized them as mere scratches, unworthy of mention in casualty despatches. "There was a man of ours, an acting corporal, called Brattles, in the melee at Inkerman, who broke the tip of his bagginet off in one Rooshian, and the butt of it in another. Then he had nothing to do but to club with what the French call the crosse. He forgot that he had not emptied his gun of the last charge so, just as he had floored his fourth Rooshian, the piece went off into his left breast, and the bullet ran clear down him and came out of his boot under the hollow of the left foot. Captain Clarkson thought he was done for; but Brattles asked him for two champagne corks, plugged up the incoming and the outgoing wounds with them, and stuck to it till the Rooshian bugles sounded the retreat. That I call a wound to speak of." Tryphena, who had listened to this story of her elderly admirer with becoming gravity, ventured to ask: "Do officers carry champagne corks about with them on the battle-field, Corporal Rigby?"
"Not all officers, Miss Hill. I never heard that Lord Raglan or Sir Colin did. But the young fellows, of course. How else could they blacken each other's faces?"
"Do they do that?"
"Regular. There was a subaltern they called Baby Appleby, he was so white-skinned and light-haired. Well, one night we had to turn out for an alarm in the dark, and charged two miles up to the rifle pits of the first line. When we came back, the colonel halted us for inspection before dismiss. When he came to Mr. Appleby, he turns to his captain and says: 'Where did you get this nigger in uniform, Ford?' The captain looked at him and roared, for poor Mr. Appleby was as black as Maguffin. The gentlemen had amused themselves corking him when he was asleep."
"Yoh finds it mighty easy, consterble, ter say disrespeckshus remahks on cullud folks," said the temporary barber, entering at that moment. "Ef the Lawd made as dahk complected, I specks the Lawd knowed what He was a doin', and didn't go foh ter set white folks a-sneezin' at 'em. I'se flissertaten myself ebery day yoh cayn't cohk me inter a white folks."
"They's whitewaush, Maguffin," interpolated Ben. "A good heavy coaut o' whitewaush 'ud make a gashly Corkashun of you."
"Yah! yah! yah! I'se got a brudder as perfesses whitewashin' an' colourin'. When he's done got a job, he looks moh like the consterble's brudder nor myuns, yah! yah! yah!"
The corporal frowned, and went on with his breakfast, while Mr. Maguffin gave an account of his shaving adventure, and of the sight of that poor man whose moustache had been trimmed by a non-professional.
Ben was soon after called by the detective to re-engage in the hunt for Rawdon, who was now known to be wounded, and, therefore, to be lurking somewhere in the neighbourhood. Mrs. Carmichael accompanied Mr. Errol on a visit to Matilda Nagle at the post office. The absence of the minister made the morning game of golf impossible, so that Mr. Perrowne had to surrender himself to the care of Miss Halbert, which he did with a fine grace of cheerful resignation. Mr. Douglas expressed a desire to take a walk in the surrounding country, and the dominie echoed it, with the condition that the ladies should share in the excursion. The Squire and Mrs. Carruthers were busy; the doctor had his patient to look after, and expected to be summoned to the other at the post office; and Mr. Terry occupied himself with the children. But Mrs. Du Plessis and her daughter, Miss Graves, Miss Halbert, and, of course the colonel and Mr. Perrowne, were willing to be pedestrians, if the proposers of the tramp promised not to walk too fast. There was a pretty hillside, beyond Talfourds on the road towards the Beaver River, from which the timber had once been removed, and which was now covered, but not too thickly, with young second growth; and thither the party determined to wend their way. Marjorie had intended to stay at home, in the hope of being allowed to see Eugene again, but the doctor had begged her to leave him alone for a day or two, and now the prospect of blackberry and thimbleberry picking on the hillside was too much for her to resist. Gaining permission from her aunt, she loaded Jim with baskets and little tin pails, and led him away to the road between herself and Miss Graves. The other gentlemen relieved the burdened Edinburghian of portions of his load, and fell into natural pairs with the ladies, Miss Du Plessis and Wilkinson bringing up the rear. There was a pleasant lake breeze to temper the heat of the fine August morning, which gave the dominie license to quote his favourite poet:—
And now I call the pathway by thy name, And love the fir-grove with a perfect love. Thither do I withdraw when cloudless suns Shine hot, or wind blows troublesome and strong.
Anticipating the thimbleberries, he recited:—
Thy luscious fruit the boy well knows, Wild bramble of the brake.
Miss Du Plessis liked that sort of thing. It was a blessed relief from type-written legal business letters. So she responded in the lines of Lamartine:—
Mon coeur a ce reveil du jour que Dieu renvoie, Vers un ciel qui sourit s'eleve sar sa joie, Et de ces dons nouveaux rendant grace au Seigneur, Murmure en s'eveillant son hymne interieur, Demande un jour de paix, de bonheur, d'innocence, Un jour qui pese entier dans la sainte balance, Quand la main qui les pese a ses poids infinis Retranchera du temps ceux qu'il n'a pas benis!
By this it will appear that the two were admirably suited to each other, finding in their companion peculiar excellences they might have vainly sought among a thousand on Canadian soil. "This is a morning of unalloyed happiness, Farquhar," remarked Miss Du Plessis in prose, and, in the same humble style of composition, he answered: "Thank God, Cecile! Think what it might have been had the worst happened to poor Corry!"