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HD W1»I^NK» 



y ^ 











"OLIVE," "THE OGILVIES,** &c., &c. 

JSm (Sbitim. 

(OriginaHy Published in 1853.) 





4 /^ 3i^^<3i6'6- 

MAR 5 1941 





"A Hero, my nephews?'* echoed Uncle Philip, 
stealing in upon a conclave that was being held to 
decide the merits of a " fellow," who was universally 
considered the head of the school — ^in fighting at least. 
" Pray, my good lads, what do you mean by * a Hero V " 

His nephews were silent. Probably they thought 
Captain Philip Carew was the person best fitted to 
answer his own question. For though not yet forty 
years of age, he had been bronzed in the Tropics, 
frozen in the Arctic Seas, had led forlorn-hopes in 
China, and commanded Pacific expeditions to the 
South Seas, and finally had returned, invalided by a 
shot on the field of Moultan in India. He had gone 
through many tribulations of divers kinds, yet he was 
still a handsome-looking fellow, with more brains and 
more heart than nine-tenths of mankind, even though 
he was a soldier. 

He repeated his question, " Pray, what is a Hero ?" 

Still no answer. 


" Q-et the dictionary !" seid Uncle Philip. He look- 
ed out the word. " HerOj a great man ! Short and 
terse, truly. Now boys, define that : * A Hero, viz., 
A Great Man.' » 

A few tried to do it ; but nobody gave a clear reply. 

"You are all puzzled? No wonder. That same 
definition has puzzled the world ever since it was a 
world. I myself racked my poor brains on the subject 
for three whole months. But I think I solved the 
question at last." 

" How, uncle ?" some one ventured to ask. 

" Oh, it would be a long story. It happened many 
years ago, when I was a boy." 

It was a magic beginning, " When I was a boy." 
Young people do so delight in a bit of autobiography. 
There was a general entreaty for that portion of Uncle 
Philip's history which taught him the true definition 
of a Hero. 

He hesitated a little, for many reasons ; but then he 
was such an unselfish kind-hearted soul, the very per- 
fection of a bachelor uncle. 

Soon, he hit upon a plan. 

" Boys, there are twelve days between now and the 
New Year ; and every day we have an idle hour or 
two between the lights, or just before bed-time. Now, 
in that hour I'll tell you, if you like, my adventures 
in search of a Hero. If by New Year's Eve, I have 


not found him, nor you either, why — ^" here a sudden 
and rather mysterious smile danced in Uncle Philip's 
brown eyes — " we must look for him in some other 


The tale thus told, or rather the sketch of boyish 
life, too simple to be called a tale, has been preserved 
by the present Author. 

She has done so, for the amusement of all boys, a 
race whom she heartily loves, from the petticoated 
urchin to the big hobbledehoy. But especially this 
book is written for another Philip— 

Philip Bourse Marston, 

now a little year-old child, but who, his god-mothe? 
hopes and prays, may one day mingle with the world 
of men, and there prove himself — ^in the noblest sense 
of the word — a Hero ! 



" I HEAR they are all very nice children, your Scotch cousins, 
and one of them in particular is quite a little hero." 

These were a few of the many parting words my mother 
said to me, when I, a lad of twelve years old, was trusted to 
pay my first visit from home. It was to my uncle, my 
father's half brother, who lived in the north, and whom 
neither I nor my English mother had ever seen. 

A little Hero! I remember the word stuck fast to my 
memory — ^for I had been deeply studying Plutarch's Lives, 
until my mind was full of Epaminondas, Alcibiades, Aristides 
the Just, and " all those sort of chaps," as you school boys 
would have said. Also— -with my Scottish visit in prospect 
— I had read up tolerably in the history of Wallace and Bruce, 
though I still thought the Greek warriors much the finer 
fellows. With some dim notion that my cousin might be 
one who wore a kilt and wielded a broadsword, and was ready 
to fight every body in the fashion of Sir Walter Scott's 
Roderick Dhu, I asked my mother which of the boys he was 
and what did she mean by calling him a " hero." 

She perhaps thought she had said too much, so gave me 
unsatisfactory answers. But I persisted. 

*' What sort of a hero is he ? Does he fight with a shield 

10 > HERO. 

and a spear, like the Thebans ; or in armor, like William 
Wallace? or with guns and pistols like — " 

Here I glanced up to where, over the mantle-piece of our 
little cottage parlor, hung my father's rifle, sword, and belt. 
Suddenly I remembered a letter my mother once showed me, 
in which it said that ** Lieutenant Henry Carew died the 
death of a hero." 

I stopped — ^for my mother's eyes following the direction of 
mine, had fallen on the sword and belt. She never looked 
at them without crying. So I did not like to put any more 
questions about heroes. 

Nevertheless I thought a great deal of my cousin, and 
speculated very much, and not without considerable fear, as 
to what sort of a person he would turn out to be. This 
curiosity was so strong that it actually helped to make me 
less sorrowful at parting with my mother and sisters — don't 
laugh, boys, for I was rather tender hearted then, and much 
petted, being the youngest, and the only son. But I'm not 
ashamed of it — ^no, upon my word I'm not. It is only a coward 
who is ashamed of being fond of his mother and sisters. 

Well — I said good-by to them all at home. I remember 
pretending to have a bad cold as a sort of apology for taking 
out my pocket-handkerchief — a very foolish cheat on my part ; 
but I did not like to be thought a baby. It was only when 
we had long left our quiet village, rattled over London streets, 
and my poor mother and I sat on the deck of the ferocious- 
looking steamer that was to carry me away far north — where 
neither she nor I had ever been before — it was only then, I 
say, when she, half crying herself, kept telling me to " cheer 
up," and " be a man" — ^that I proved myself to be still a 
mere baby, by bursting out blubbering on her shoulder. 

(" I'm not ashamed of it now, not in the least," said Uncle 
Philip, speaking very thick and blusteringly, but growing 
rather red about the eyefr— " She was a good woman always 

A HERO. 11 

. —your grandmother — God bless her ! and, as they say in the 
East, may she live a thousand years I" 

Which sentiment being universally echoed, Uncle Philip 
went on.) 

I don't remember much about the voyage, except the pre- 
liminary incident of ray mother's wanting to put me in the 
ladies' cabin under the care of the stewardess, and of my in- 
dignant protestation against the same. It seemed a positive 
insult to a boy of my mature age — ^thirteen ; though my poor 
mother would persist in considering me a baby, and unable to 
take care of myself. The matter ended in my* being as- 
signed, with the dignity due to my sex, to the gentleman's 
^ half of the vessel, where I was tossed about and scolded in- 
cessantly during three interminable days, during which I lay 
in all the helpless misery of a first sea voyage, heartily wish- 
ing I could be quietly dropped overboard, and so come to an 
end at once, without any body's being the wiser. 

At length somehow or other I began to feel better, and 
took courage to crawl up the companion-ladder, in order to 
find out whereabouts in the wide world I was ; for I had an 
uncomfortable fear that the boat must have tumbled through 
an entire ocean since I last went on deck, and that we should 
find ourselves somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. An 
idea not very pleasant to a small individual, who however 
he might admire heroes in theory, was by nature a rather 
timid boy. 

(" Oh, Uncle Philip," broke in one or two astonished voices. 
But Uncle Philip repeated that it was quite true. He seem- 
ed to take pride in the fact, as if to show how much force of 
will could effect in the formation of character.) 

It was late one evening when I crept on deck, and crouch- 
ed down in a woeful half-frightened condition behind the man 
at the wheel. I could see nothing but him, for the night 
was very misty. The boat appeared to be going through a 

12 A H£RO. 

dense white fog, dashing on nobody knew where. We might 
be off the shore of America for all I could tell — it seemed 
such an awfal length of time that we had been at sea. I 
was very cold too, though it was summer time — so I began 
to think that we must have come within the line of the float- 
ing icebergs, which, as I had somewhere read, are often met 
with in the Atlantic on the voyage to North America. My 
geographical notions — ^indeed all my ideas, were rather con- 
fused ; but then it must be remembered that I was at best a 
queer-like old fasliioned little fellow, brought up at home, 
entirely among women, with no brothers or school-fellows. 
Moreover I had been sea-sick for four days, which does not 
materially improve one's faculties. 

I could not get the notion of icebergs out of my head, and * 
as the mist cleared a little, I looked anxiously over the ship's 
side Lo ! there was a confirmation of all my fears ! A 
great, gray, mist-enveloped thing, rising right out of the 
water — seeming to be floating down upon us, or we Upon it ; 
for my still dizzy head could not distinguish which. I Ipoked 
in terror on the man at the wheel, but he appeared quite 
comfortable, standing there, the light from the compass lamp 
just showing his hard, ugly, weather-beaten face, and his 
big shoulders, all the bigger for an enormous pea-coat. That 
man was my nightmare, afterward, for many a year ; when- 
ever I ate overmuch supper (as boys will do, more shame to 
them), 1 always dreamt I was turned into a steamboat, and 
he sitting on my deck, i. e. my lungs-^was steering me ^jght 
against an eternal succession of ice-bergs. 

I looked at this man, then at the misty object standing 
upright in the sea, then down the solitary deck of the vessel, 
and lastly at the man again. I got positively frightened, 
every thing was so silent and strange. At length I plucked 
up spirit to go nearer him, and say in a small voice^" If 
you please — " 

A HEEO. 13 

But the man at the wheel might have been cut out of 
rock. He took no notice. Most likely, he neither heard nor 
saw me, so engrossed was he in his duty, honest fellow ! It 
never struck me, as he stood there, his eyes keenly fixed for- 
ward, doing nothing but turn his wheel, a little way round 
and back again, that with every slight motion of the hand he 
was guiding this large vessel's course. 

Curiosity, or dogged perseverance, or obstinacy — I had all 
three — impelled me not to give in, but to address my man 
again, for I was beginning to think him something super- 
natural ; especially as, in my universal search after knowl- 
edge, I had read a queer sort of poem, which I greatly ad- 
mired, but did not altogether understand — the ** Ancient Mar- 
iner.'' So I just took courage to touch the sleeve of the pea- 
coat, and finding that it was quite real, as well as the arm 
within it, I gave both a good pull. 

" Hollo I" shouted the sailor, rather startled, until he per- 
ceived my small self He merely shook me ofi) as if I had 
been a puppy dog pawing him, and turned to the wheel again. 

Now, as I said, I am rather obstinate by nature ; and 
moreover my dignity was hurt. I pulled his arm again, ad- 
dressing him boldly, a*--" You, sailor !" 

"Ahoy I" 

•* Where are we, sailor, if you please 1" I asked meekly. 
" And what is that great thing there 1" 

" Yon's Ailsa Craig, and ye're aff the coast o' Scotland." 

This information, given in a very grumpy voice, was all I 
could get out of him. I thought him a most unpleasant surly 
fellow, little knowing that on his strict minding of his duty 
depended all our lives. Afterward, as I grew older and wiser, 
this little adventure taught me that it is best not to " bother" 
unnecessarily those who have our guidance in their hands. 
I found this plan to tell through life, especially with regard 
to those who, speaking metaphorically, have the steering of 

14 A HERO. 

the family sliip. So, boys, whenever you are disposed to 
plague your father about trifles, or make complaints to your 
tutor, or any thing of that sort, just remember one little 
maxim that you may find written up in all steamboats — 
" DofrCt speak to the man at the whed.'* 

I went down below, and slept — my first real sleep since I 
led home. It could not have lasted long, however, when I 
was awakened by a great trampling overhead, and by the 
engines letting off steam. The steward, putting his head in, 
bawled something about " Greenock," which, as I suddenly 
remembered, my mother had strongly impressed on me as 
being the place where my uncle was to meet me. In a 
great fright, I huddled on my jacket, collected my properties 
together as well as I could, and went on deck. 

(" It is a curious thing," added Uncle Philip in a paren- 
thesis — " how well I remember every little circumstance of 
this journey, the first important epoch of my life. All seems 
as clear as yesterday — and clearer as I go on. I must cer- 
tainly have a capital memory. But so much the better for 
you, my young audience.") 

Now, as I said before, I had never seen my uncle, nor in- 
deed, from some family difierences, had I ever heard much 
about him, except his name, which being rather un-English, 
I had in the bewilderment of the moment quite forgotten. 
No unlucky boy could feel more thoroughly desolate than I 
did on that momentous day, when, at four in the morning, I 
found myself on the steamer's deck off Greenock quay, jostled 
hither and thither amid the confusion of hurried passengers 
and shouting porters ; feeling queer and half asleep, for it 
was not yet broad daylight ; and bewildered by the clatter of 
strange tongues, some Scotch, some Gaelic, though both were 
alike unintelligible to me. I do not think that at any after 
portion of my life did I ever feel more dolefully miserable. I 
sat down on a coil of ropes, with my little trunk beside me, 

A HERO. 15 

and in truth was very near crying, had I not remembered 
that tluU would disgrace a boy of thirteen years old. 

Soon I heard, through the din of cross passengers* voices, 
one — not cross certainly, though it had a peculiar tone — ^very 
Scotch I thought. Nevertheless, nothing ever impressed my 
childish inind more than the first tone of that voice — ^strong, 
deep, steady, and kind, giving one at once a feeling of respect, 
slight fear, and instinctive trust. It sounded distinctly through 
all the confusion of the vessel, as its owner walked down the 
deck, looking round him. 

" Is there any boy here named Philip Carew V* 

I jumped up, with a sudden instinct of joy, jumped almost 
into the arms of my Scottish uncle.. 

He gave me a quick hearty welcomcr— there was no time 
for more : caught up my luggage with one hand, and myself 
with the other, and in a minute we were standing on the 

Then it was I managed to steal an inquiring look at my 
uncle. He was a tall, big man — with rather harsh features, 
tanned as brown as a berry; and a. quantity of gray hair 
flying about in all directions, in a fashion that irresistibly re- 
minded me of a hay-stack in a high wind. At first sight he 
seemed a very formidable person— especially to a shy English 
boy — ^but as soon as he began to speak there was something 
in his smile so very good-natured, warm-hearted, and cheery, 
that I took courage. 

" Lift up your head, boy : let me look at you !" 

He did so for a long time, and then turned his head away. 
I afterward guessed why. He and his half-brother had been 
boys together, but, when young men, had suddenly parted in 
anger, and never met more. I was considered very like my 
father, and perhaps he noticed it. 

" Norman !'* shouted my uncle abruptly, as we stood on 
the now deserted quays ; a boy of about my own size came 

16 A HE&O 

forwardi I did not notice from whence. " Here, lads, shake 
hands. Philip Carew, this is your eldest coasin, Norman 
Macllroy. (That then was the queer name I had forgotten.) 
Be friends with one another; as your fathers were before you 
— and mind, never quarrel, never quarrel !" 

Saying this he walked off hastily to another end of the 
quay, leaving us two boys together. I eyed my cousin very 
curiously. To this day I remember the look of him. 

A slender, tight-made little fellow, any thing but a beauty 
•^now I myself was " a very pretty boy" I believe). He 
had a thorough Scotch face — ^high cheek-bones — a freckled 
skin — and hair which, in many an English school, would have 
assuredly gained for him the pleasant nick-name of " Carrots." 
Not that it was really carroty, being a rather pretty color, 
I thought, but nevertheless decidedly red. He was dressed 
in a jacket and trowsers (which I should certainly have 
scorned as being apparently made out of my mother's black 
and white plaid shawl), and he had on a queer sort of cap ' 
without a brim— a "Glengarry" bonnet, as I afterward 
found out. 

We stood and eyed one another rather suspiciously — Scotch 
boy and English boy— -just as if we had been the two oppos- 
ing armies on Flodden Field, of which I had lately read. At 
last, the idea seemed to strike us that it was very funny, our 
staring at one another in this stupid way ; for, with one im- 
pulse, we both burst out laughing. 

" That's right, old fellow," said my cousin, patting me on 
the shoulder — ** we shall be capital friends directly." ' 

We made no more fraternization than this, for boys are 
very shy of an outward expression of liking ; but somehow 
we got into friendly talk. When Uncle Macllroy came back, 
he found us sitting together on the steps of the custom-house, 
quite sociable ; Norman having learned from me the whole 
history of my voyage, while he, in return, was communicating 

A HERO. 17 

▼arious pieces of informatioa as to where I now was, and 
whither I was going. 

I observed that he had, like his father, an odd sing-song 
way of speakiag which I could not at first catch, and which 
sometimes made me laugh. I concluded it was only the 
Scotch accent, and exulted in the vast superiority of my 
own cockney tongue. 

"Well, lads, how are you getting on?" said my uncle, 
taking out his watch — " *Tis now just five, and the first 
Dunoon boat does not start till seven — What will you do ? 
Would you like something to eat, Philip, or wait till you join 
your aunt's breakfast table at eight 1" 

Being in a state of excitement and bewilderment that en- 
tirely took away my appetite, I said I would wait — though 
where I was to be taken to eat this problematical breakfast I 
had not the least idea. 

'' Come then, here's enough to keep you from famishing for 
an hour or two." 

He pulled out of his pocket a three-cornered thing which 
he called a same; a queer looking cake I thought, but really 
very nice. I ate one, and Norman another, with consid- 
erable gusto ; then we walked up and down the quay, look- 
ing at the shipping close by, the broad river, and the hills 

I don't think, nephews, that I ever shall forget that morn- 
ing. It was the first morning I had seen the sun rise, being, 
like most other spoiled children, a very lazy little fellow, and 
a disgraceful lie-a-bed. Until now I had no notion how the 
world looked at four or five in the morning, especially in 
Scotland. That picture still remains, so firmly riveted was 
it on my childish memory— the silent, solitary quay — ^the ships 
lying motionless alongside, as if they were half asleep— the 
broad bars of amber and rosy clouds streaking the east — the 
distant hilb painted of a deep lilac — and the river between, 

18 A H£EO. 

takiDg ftll lorts of colors according as the sky changed. 1 
never saw such a scene as that — never ! It made me an 
early riser for the rest of my life. 

Norman tried hard to amuse me, and put my geographical 
powers to their utmost stretch, hy pointing out, with a very 
natural pride, the heauties of his country. 

Ben Lomond was over there — ^he said , I had surely heard 
of the great Ben. Perhaps I might see him now, unless, as 
was probahle, he had his nightcap on. 

" His nightcap I" I repeated, rather puzzled. 

" I mean the mist that is almost always seen covering the 
top of very high mountains," explained my cousin. 

Upon which there luckily flashed across my mind a sen 
tence out of my geography book — " Highest mountains in 
Scotland are Ben Lomond and Ben Nevis" So I merely 
observed — " On, of course !" and hid my ignorance beneath 
a very wise shake of the head. 

" There's Dumbarton Bock, so celebrated in history," con- 
tinued Norman, but talking in a very quiet way, not in a 
show-off style at all. " You may see it clearly, far down the 
reach of the river, toward Glasgow. It's a curious place ; I 
once climbed to the top of it, to Wallace's watch-tower." 

" Oh, William Wallace," said I, anxious to exhibit my 
acquaintance with Scottish history. " I know all about him. 
He was a great hero, don't you think so ?" 

" Yes," said Norman, rather indifierently, for he was 
watching his father, who happened to be looking grave just 

The word hero set me off on my old hobby, and reminded 
me of my mother's still unexplained words, concerning the 
one of my cousins who was ** quite a hero." It could not be 
Norman. Such a quiet looking, plain little fellow, in a plaid 
jacket and trowsers ! not at all the sort of hero I had ex- 
pected. Perhaps there might be another of the family. 

A HEBO. 19 

" How many brothers have you ]" said I abruptly. 

" There are five of us — I am the eldest." 

" You !" I exclaimed with some surprise and a little dis- 
dain, for my hopes of finding the **hero'' became less and less. 
" All younger than you. What babies I" 

" Not quite," said Norman laughing. " Vm not over tall 
myself, though I'm older than I seem ; but if you like a great 
big fellow, there's my next brother, Hector." 

** Ah, that was it ! Hector must be the hero — called after 
his great namesake, the defender of Troy. I was thoroughly 
" up" in that history, having been lately put into Virgil (for 
I was rather a clever boy), and having got safely through the 
second book of the JSneid. Here was the secret out ; Hector 
was certainly the hero my mother meant. I prepared myself 
with no little expectation, and with some alarm, for the ex- 
pected meeting. 

So full was my mind of this, that I don't clearly recollect 
any thing more that happened, until the steamboat landed at 
a pier, very quiet and desolate compared with the London 
quays ; and I, quite out of breath with climbing a terribly 
hilly street which Norman called *' a brae," found myself at 
my uncle's door. 

In the little parlor, at the head of the breakfast table, sat 
my aunt. I did not notice her much then, except that she 
looked kind, and kissed me. But I was dying with curiosity 
to see my hero-cousin. There were in the room three small 
boys, the youngest quite a baby. I was quite relieved to hear 
my uncle call out " Where's Hector ?" 

"In his bed — ^Hector's always lazy," said some of the 
younger lads. 

"Hector rowed us half-way to Greenock and back last 
night," observed Norman, in his quiet way. 

" So he did," cried my uncle, smoothing a rather angry 
brow. " But surely he has had rest enough. Go, Philip, 

20 A HEEO. 

help to pull your cousin out of bed ; we can have no lazy 
loons here." 

Alas, for my expected hero ! 

Hector was a great boy, much bigger than Norman. He 
looked very handsome too, though he lay fast asleep with his 
mouth open ; which was not becoming, nor, indeed, at all 
like a hero. Nevertheless, when we had fairly roused him — a 
difficult matter — and he was up and dressed, I regarded my 
cousin with much respect. He was a very fine fellow, tall 
and strong, with sunburnt cheeks and curly brown hair, and 
oh ! such a loud, merry, hearty voice. I greatly admired 
liim, and thought that I must be right at last in my hero, 
even though he had neither kilt, pistols, nor broadsword, but 
came down to breakfast in the ugly plaid jacket andtrowsers 
like his brothers. 

The rest of my cousinsi remember I scarcely looked at, 
but set them all down together as " the children." There 
was among them but one little girl. 

(Here Uncle Philip paused, but continued afler a few 
.moments — " Some of you elder ones may remember * Cousin 
Gracie,' as you called her, who spent some months with 
grandmamma, and died ten years ago, before I went to 

The children looked grave, for most of them had heard 
something about a Scottish lady who was to have been Uncle 
Philip's wife, and for whose sake it was thought he would 
always remain an old bachelor. . Af^er a brief silence, the 
story was continued.) 

Norman came in, carrying his sister in his arms, for she 
was lame in her ankles, just then, and could not walk. Gracie 
had always been delicaite, they said ; but she smiled sweetly, 
and thanked Norman so cheerfully when he set her down, 
that no one would have thought she was ill. She was one 
of those patient creatures who make sickness so beautiful. 

A HEED. 81 

that afterward we remember them as if they had been 

(Uncle Philip's voice altered ; and after a sentence or two 
more, in which he tried to continue the story by a description 
of his first breakfast in Scotland, he came to a dead stop, 
observed that it was bed- time, and finished the history for that 


Of course, children (said Uncle Philip), you don't expect 
me to go on telling you categorically what I and my cousins 
did every morning, noon, and night. That were impossihle 
to the best memory in the world, while still a childish memory. 
When we think of our young days we can but remember cir- 
cumstances here and there ; particular days, hours, or events, 
which stand out clear from the rest, like bits of a distant 
landscape viewed through a telescope, which appear wonder- 
fully distinct and accurate so far as they extend, but which 
only comprise a small portion of the view. 

Thus I shall tell you at hap-hazard fragments of autobi- 
ography—certain days or certain adventures ; — ^the rest of our 
life at Dunoon you must imagine for yourselves. 

The first thing I remember was that same evening, after 
I had been sent to bed by my sensible aunt, and had slept 
throughout the day as sound as a top. I woke up to tea, 
and then stood looking out of the window on the beautiful 
river. Now I had never seen any river or large sheet of 
water, except that day when I sailed down the Thames and 
over the sea. O miserable voyage ! enough to give me, in a 
moral sense, a perpetual hydrophobia. ("You understand, 
boys, I don't mean mere dog-madness. Look to your Greek 
derivations — hydro-phobia'' said Uncle Philip parentheti- 

I had thought and said to Norman that the very sight of 
water would be enough to make me ill, henceforth ; but I 
changed my mind when I looked on the magnificent Clyde. 

A HERO. 23 

" That's the Clough point opposite/' said Norman, good- 
naturedly telling me the various places down the shore. 
"Farther down are two islands, the Greater and Lesser 
Cumbraes, we call them. About there the Firth divides 
and goes round either side of the Island of Bute. A long 
way beyond, you may see something like a two headed cloud 
lying on the horizon." 

I did, with some difficulty, for my eyes were not accustomed 
to such distances. 

** That's Goatfell, the topmost peak of the Island of Arran. 
A curious island it is, all formed of hills, or rather granite 
rocks. It's awful fatiguing work to climb Goatfell, but my 
father says we lads shall try to do it some day. Did you 
ever climb a mountain, Philip ?" 

I confessed somewhat with shame, that until to-day I had 
never even seen one. And I further confessed, that in the 
sight I had been a good deal disappointed. '' A mountain 
isn't half what I thought," said I, " I expected they would 
be a great deal higher, and would rise right upright like 
the side of a house, very awful and grand. Now those hills 
there are nothing ; I could run up them easily." 

" Could you, my boy ?" said Uncle Macllroy, coming be- 
hind us^ " But that is what we all do on entering the world ; 
we imagine to ourselves mountaiuB, and find them mere 
molehills — we try to climb molehills and find they are very 
considerable mountains, after all. Hout, tout ! (a queer ex- 
pression he had) bide your time till ye are wiser, Philip 

I did not then understand my uncle's quaint saying, but I 
have since. 

We were interrupted by Hector's shouting from the garden 
below, " Norman ! Cousin Phil ! will you come and have a 

" What does he mean ?" said I, " what sort of a pull ?" 

24 A HEEO. 

" A pull at the oar,'* answered Norman, laughing. ** Did 
you never row V* 

I certainly never did, in fact I had never been in any boat 
but a canal-boat drawn by a horse. I tried to explain this, 
my sole experiment in navigation, as I was going down to 
the beach with the boys ; but Hector burst into such fits of 
laughter that I found the story too humiliating. In fact 
when I saw these two sturdy, active, fearless Scottish lads 
haul up their boat, drag me into it, and dash off amidst 
threatening rocks, and waves so high that the little boat 
went up and down on them like a cockle-shell, making me 
inclined to scream with fright — I began to feel that as re- 
garded all manly exercises my education had been very much 

I had seemed to myself a very fine fellow strutting about 
among my mother and sisters at home ; I shrunk into a mere 
baby, sitting in the stem, with those two lads, httle older 
than myself, so brave and independent, sweeping among the 
waves and under the shadow of the hills, which, I began to 
think were really grand, after all. 

" It*s growing naisty over the river," said Norman, stop- 
ping in his laughter and jokes, with his brother, which, I 
must say, they tried to make intelligible and amusing to me, 
but hardly succeeded ; I still felt so strange to all about me. 

" Never mind mist, it will be moon-rise directly," Hector 
cried, giving a long, sinewy stroke with his oar, and then 
laughing to see that with his greater strength he could pull 
his brother round — that is, he could make the boat turn till 
her bow was where her stern should be. She spun found 
and round till I was quite frightened. 

" Hector, you're too daring," said Norman. 

" And you're too—" Perhaps in the excitement of the 
moment he was going to say "too cowardly ;" but he stopped. 

" Hector," said Norman again, in a very low tone. I was 

A HERO. 25 

a good deal surprised to see that Hector gave up bis too ven- 
turous fun and rowed steadily for full ten minutes. But when 
I had got over my fright, I am not sure that I did not admire 
the daring reckless younger brother a great deal the most, and 
became quite convinced in my own mind that he, and none 
but he, was the Hero. 

We pulled on merrily, at least they did ; while I sat watch- 
ing them in longing admiration ; for nothing impresses a boy 
with so much respect as the exercise of physical power. I 
remember I carried my enthusiasm on this point to such an 
extent, that afterward I actually reverenced the first fellow 
who ever gave me a sound thrashing, more than I did any 
other boy in the school. 

" Phil ! would you like to take an oar ?" shouted Hector, 
more in bravado than kindness, I fancy. 

Now I, having got somewhat accustomed to my novel posi- 
tion, was longing for an opportunity of doing that which the 
two lads seemed to do with so much ease. Nevertheless my 
boldness and self-confidence were not over great, and I was 
half deterred by Hector's unpleasant manner of making the 

"I should like very much to row," said I, hesitating, 

" But, you're afraid ! Well, I dare say you're right, my 
httle fellow," answered my cousin, in the rather contempt- 
uous and superior tone which big boys delight in using toward 
smaUer ones. I was a good deal nettled, but had sense enough 
to hold my tongue. Hector went on laughing and talking, 
quite indifferent to, or oblivious of me. I thought this scarcely 
polite ; but he was such a good-natured hearty fellow that 
nobody could be angry with him long. 

We got into smooth water in the curve of the bay. 

" Now," said Norman, calling to me from the bow — he 
always gave his brother the stroke-oar, which dignity Hector 


26 A HERO. 

would not easily have relinquished, I suspect ; — ** Now, Phil, 
come over here and I'U give you your first lessons in pulling ; 
we must make you as good an oarsman as any of us, before 
you go south again. — Hola, there ! take care !'' 

His cheery voice and good-natured way of helping me, as 
I " crawled'' down the length of the boat, in the midst of 
Hector's suppressed grumbling, made me feel wondrously 
grateful to my cousin Norman. 

I clutched the oar eagerly, and of course did what every 
body does the first time of attempting such a feat, easy though 
it is afterward, when one gets into the knack of it. I made 
an awkward dolt of myself ; got red in the face, struck myself 
breathless by a blow on the chest with the oar, " caught crabs'' 
innumerable, and all that sort of thing ! The boys burst into 
shouts of laughter ; even Norman could not help doing so, until 
he saw tears of vexation in my eyes — for I was a very touchy 
little fellow, and very self-conceited too. 

" Come, never mind ; you've plenty of pluck, I see ; you'd 
row capitally in time," said he, " only do not splutter and dash 
the water about, and make such an awful fuss and exertion 
over it. Take things coolly, my lad. Look here." 

He took the oar from my hand, and showed me how in 
this, as in many other things throughout life, quiet work makes 
quick work ; for a simple and adroit turn of the wrist efiected 
all that was necessary. He pulled a few strokes, which seemed 
to me wonderfully clever ; doing so readily what I had done 
with such desperate efibrt. Now I understood the mystery ; 
it was quite a treat to watch him, dipping his oar noiselessly 
and quietly without producing one ripple in the v/ater, and 
bending forward his body with ease and grace at every stroke. 
My admiration rose immediately, and with it my desire of 

^ Let me try again," I entreated. Hector looked rather 
cross, and said something about " keeping back the boat," 

A HEEO. 27 

and " spoiling fun ;" but the elder brother took no notice, and 
I had my will. ' ■ ' '~ '-^ 

I have known many a pleasurable excitement in my life ; 
many a thrill of triumphant pride ; but I do not think I ever 
felt so proud, as in the moment when, my awkwardness over- 
come, I first found myself really " rowing ;" — sweeping the 
boat' along with the force of my own single strength. It was 
a sense of victory, of power, of independence — feelings, the 
most delicious to either man or boy ; Alexander the Great 
(always my pet hero), when he had conquered his millions, 
could not have felt prouder than I, when I conquered the 
waves of Clyde, and looked over the whole river, conscious 
that with a little boat and an oar, I could at any time be 
iree master of it all. 

.' {" I have owed my cousin Norman a great many things in 
my life," continued Uncle Philip, smiling, " but one of the 
greatest debts I owe him, was teaching me to row. From 
that night I date a pleasure, '.which I shall never cease to 
delight in while I live. Children, I donH think Uncle Philip 
is ever so thoroughly happy as when he is pulling away over 
a broad river, the boat dancing on like a feather, with the 
waves lapping at the keel — ^nothing but water around, and 
the blue sky overhead — ^Ugh !" ' • . 

Captain Carew here gave an unearthly grunt, probably 
expressive of intense satisfaction, and ailer a minute's pause 
went on.) 

Henceforth, I took such a liking to the water, that Uncle 
Macllroy declared I must certainly have been born amphibi- 
ous. My first letter home contained such glowing accounts 
of iny daring aquatic exploits, that I am sure my poor mother 
must have been terrified out of her senses, and never expected 
to see her only son return alive. But this was before the time 
of penny postage, so I had no opportunity of frightening her 

28 A HERO. 

We began to lead a very happy life — ^my cousinB and I ; it 
was a life of entire holiday, for my uncle lived in Glasgow. 
He was one of the masters in the High School there, and a 
very learned man too, having been educated for a minister. 
The family had only come to spend a few weeks at the coast 
before the classes recommenced. 

Uncle Macllroy was one of those wise people who think 
that work should be work, and play, play ; so he gave his 
boys full liberty, and even made himself quite a boy likewise 
among them all. This however was only at times,; and 
amidst all the freedom he used, and allowed them to use, one 
could see that it was merely the pleasant condescension of a 
supreme ruler — ^so certain of his authority that he could afibrd 
to let the reins loose at times. I did not quite understand 
him then, and was somewhat frightened of him besides ; but 
I have since thought that there could never have been abetter 
father of a family than Uncle Macllroy. Firm he was, never 
allowing the slightest breach of discipline ; his will was in all 
things supreme, his "yea" was yea and his "nay," fiay ; no- 
body ever dreamed of opposing either. Yet he was so right 
in all he did, so just, above all so thoroughly true-^^xsict in 
speech, punctual alike in commands and in promises — ^that 
every body loved, and in the best sense of the word, honored 

When I came to live with Uncle Macllroy I first learned 
to regret, what I have often regretted since, that I had never 
known what it was to have a father. 

Of my aunt it is hardly necessary to speak, except that she 
was a worthy wife to such a worthy man. She is living 
still, and I think if she heard it, this my simple description 
of her would be the very one of which she would most ap- 

Nephews, I hope you don't find these facts very uninterest- 
ing. I state them, not as being what I observed then, but as 

A HEEO« 29 

the results of after reflection concerning those boyish days. If 
you object to my dilating so much upon " elderly'' people, I 
can only say that in telling this story I prefer rather to raise 
your minds above their level than to depress them, remember- 
ing that you can't ever be younger, and that you are fast ad- 
vancing toward the time -when you will yourselves be grown 
men and heads of families. 

(There arose a little laugh at this, but it was soon stilled by 
Uncle Philip's extreme gravity for he was on his hobby, one 
not rare to old bachelors, the proper mode of ruling a family. 
No one could get him off it, so there was little more autobi- 
ography that m'ght.) 


(''An adventure, an adventare to-night, Uncle Philip! 
Surely you must have had something of the kmd during the 
time you were at Dunoon." 

Uncle Philip, who -was just about to begin his relation, 
looked puzzled. " Do you mean the sort of adventures that 
used to happen to me in the Punjaub, such as attacks from 
the natives, or tiger fights in jungles, or being half drowned 
in crossing rivers, or those sorts of little tribulations ?" 

His nephews laughed, and said they only wanted boyish 
adventures ; something queer, and interesting, and true, and 
dangerous, but in a small way, of course. 

" Land or water adventures ?" 

There were dissentient voices, but " water" carried the day. 

" I have it !" said Uncle Philip. " Fetch me the map of 

Now, boys, I daresay it seems to you but a small distance 
from Dunoon, round that point of land and across to Green- 
ock ; yet I assure you it is nine or ten English miles. This 
was the longest pull we boys had ever had. 

We planned it, I scarce remember why, one day when 
Uncle Mcllroy was away at Glasgow. Otherwise probably 
we might not have been allowed to do it. But it was such 
a delicious exploit, that even the long-headed, prudent Nor- 
man gave in to the excitement of the plan. 

Another reason we had, was that little Gracie, who, in 
spite of her weakness, was a fearless child, and very fond of 
the water, longed to see more of the river than in her helpless 

A HERO. 31 

state she was ever likely to see, except in oar nice boat, where 
she was carried every day, and sat in the stem on cushions, 
looking, as one day Norman said — "just like Queen Cleopatra 
sailing down the Cydnus.* 

She begged to go, and as she was a great pet with us all, 
why — she went. 

I well remember that day. It was about eight in the 
morning, for of course we had to start very early. There was 
a soft mist over the river, but not so as to make our boating 
dangerous, and the sun was very bright and warm. We had 
picked out our crew vtdth great care and pide ; choosing only 
those who could be useful and row ; so the number dwindled 
down into Norman, Hector, James the third brother, a funny, 
clever little fellow, who we thought would keep us alive with 
his jokes, save that though he could handle an oar pretty well, 
he was apt to get excited and terrified — and lastly, myself. 
Little Gracie was our only passenger. 

She asserted that we ought to have, in true nautical fashion, 
a distinguishing mark for our boat's crew; so, determined 
that we should do every thing grand, she fastened sprays of 
ivy in all our hats, just where the sailors wear the name of 
their vessels. A pretty fancy of the child's ; and we were all 
ready to please her. 

At last we started from the West Bay, greatly to the ad- 
miration of a group of boatmen, who, when we told them the 
port we were bound to, opened their eyes wide, and wished us 
safe back again. But we were bold, and had no fears. 

After some discussion, we settled that the wisest way to 
steer our voyage, so as to keep clear of our great terror — ^the 
steamers, that were then beginning to ply up and down the 
Clyde pretty frequently, though in nothing like such numbers 
as at present — ^was to go right across to the Clough Point, 
and then follow the windings of the shore up to Greenock. 

This being decided, oJOT we flew like an arrow ; Gracie 

32 A HEEO. 

Striking up one of her merry Bongs, She had the sweetest 
▼oice I ever heard in a child. 

(Uncle Philip here spoke hesitatingly, as he always did 
whenever he alluded to little Gracie ; bat he seemed to think 
she was necessary to the history, so always mentioned her 
name with the rest. The children heard it silently and with 
awe, as young people always listen to the mention of one that 
is dead.) 

We had not started long when there arose one of those dif- 
ficulties which prove the unerring truth, that in every collect^ 
ive body, there must be one to rule. There lie, a little way 
in the river, opposite Dunoon, a small cluster of rocks, called 
the Gauntlets. Now, Hector wanted to row outside the 
Gauntlets, and little Jamie, who was terribly afraid of steam- 
ers, and ready to scream if he saw the smoke of one winding 
up the river two or three miles off, insisted on going inside the 
rocks. And, he being steersman, while Hector and I had the 
oars, he guided the helm and turned the boat in one direction 
while we were laboring hard to pull her in another ; the con- 
sequence was, our making no way at all. In fact, afler rather 
a vehement altercation, we ended in lying upon the water, 
quite stationary. 

Gracie ceased her singing, as well she might amidst such 
loud voices. She looked appealingly to Norman, who was 
stretched his length in the bow of the boat very cosy indeed. 
He waited for a lull in the storm of contention, and then spoke. 

" Pray, boys, do you ever intend to get to Greenock to-day ?" 

" Of course," said Jamie. 

" Then you'll reach it somewhere about six p. m., if you go 
on at this rate. Do you not think it would be better to use 
your oars than your tongues V* 

This reproof, given so cheerfully and merrily, made us all 
laugh, and then James and Hector began to explain their 
several wrongs to their elder brother. I fancy I see him yet ; 

A ^ERO. 33 

the old fashioned little fellow, sitting listening as grave as a 
judge, but with a queer twinkle in his bright eye, that made 
us laugh amid all our quarrelings. For I was as bad as the 
others, thinking it very shameful that our pleasure should be 
spoiled by Jamie's foolish fears. 

" I'll tell you what it is," said he at last. " Father's say- 
ing is quite true, * that there's no doing any thing without a 
head.' Every kingdom must have a king, or even if it's a 
republic — ^a president ; every expedition must have a leader, 
and every ship a captain. Now ours has no captain at all ; 
that's why we have all gone wrong." 

Every body assented to this fact ; but, as was to be expected, 
in trying to remedy it, the matter became more puzzling than 
before. Every body wanted to be captain. 

However, James seceding from the contest, the choice lay 
between Hector and me. Hector seemed to expect the honor 
of right, as being the biggest and boldest of the crew, until 
Gracie gently suggested that in a ruler and guide prudence 
was as essential as courage, and I was much the more pru* 
dent of the two. Strangely enough, but naturally, in the 
heat of our contest, nobody seemed to think that the best 
captain, and the one who had chief right to the honor, was 
the only one who sat quiet and held his tongue. 

,When the war of words grew hottest, Norman's voice was 
at last raised ; and so seriously, that we heard it above all 

" Hollo, you foolish fellows ! Look ahead I" 

We had good need ; for there was a steamer, which in the 
height of our uproar we had not noticed, bearbg down upon 
us as fast as ever she could come. 

James uttered a shrill scream and let go the helm, which 
little Gracie, terrified as she was, had yet the sense to hold. 

" Pull away. Hector," I shouted.—" Pull for your life." 

But Hector's bold cheek had turned quite white, and his 

34 A HERO. 

hands seemed trembling and paralyzed, so that instead of long 
strokes, his oar only made inefiectual splashes in the water. 

^" Hold still, James," said Norman, in the loudest and most 
commanding tone I had ever heard from him. ^'Hector, 
give me the oar! Steady with the helm, Gracie dear! 
Now, Phil, pull away, right into the middle of the stream, 
outside the Gauntlets.'' 

James gave another scream at this order. 

" Outside the Gauntlets, I say. Do you not see she's 
keeping close in shore ? We'll be out of her track in two 
minutes, and then we're all right." 

Frightened as I was, and I own to the fact, there was 
something in my eldest cousin's steady, resolute, and perfectly 
composed manner, which gave me strength. The two other 
lads sat quite still and subdued. Gracie, -pale as death, but 
perfectly quiet, kept her eyes firmly fixed on Norman's face, 
and implicitly obeyed his orders about the helm. He and I 
pulled together with all our might, and in about three minutes 
we were clear of the steamer's course, and far into the middle 
of the river. But it was the longest three minutes I had 
ever known in my life. ^ 

" Now, lads," said Norman, when we all paused to breathe 
and consider the danger we had escaped, "you see what you 
would have gained. You were so busy squabbling, and I 
watching you, that we never saw that boat at the pier. 
Another minute and she would heve run us down." 

" I do not believe she would," said Hector, brightening up. 
" Steamers always keep a good look-out for small boats. 1 
think you made a great fuss about nothing, Norman." 

" Look V there !" cried Jamie. "She has passed over the 
very place where we were lying. We should all have gone 
to the bottom for sure. I'll never go in a boat with Hector 
again. Oh ! how will we ever get to Greenock alive !" 

Here poor little Gracie, who had sat quite calm during' the 

A HERO. 35 

danger, now that it was over began to feel the effects of her 
terror. We had to dip our hands in the salt water, and dash 
a little on her face, and pour down her throat some of the 
ale that Norman had wisely brought with us, before she came 
quite to herself This little incident subdued us all very 
much, and I even proposed rowing back ; but Gracie would 
not allow it. Only she hinted a plan, which I believe in our 
hearts we were aU thankful enough to assent to — ^that for the 
rest of the voyage Norman should be made sole and supreme 

And a very hard business he had of it, poor fellow, with 
such an insubordinate crew. The helm was left in Gracie's 
care ; it pleased her, poor child, and kept the duty of steering 
out of Jamie's hands, which was a great blessing. Never- 
theless, he or Hector got it sometimes, and as one always 
wanted to go close in shore, and the other far out into the 
river, the general line of our course became something in 
the shape of the letter Z, which did not exactly shorten the 

Nothing further of any consequence happened, except the 
perpetual warfare about steamboats, in which Norman, like 
many another ruler, was sometimes forced to yield a little 
to the follies of those under his sway. Consequently, once 
Jamie's frantic terrors nearly ran us aground in Gourock 
Bay ; and again, insisting on being instantaneously put ashore 
— a slight impossibility, considering we were about half a mile 
toward the centre of the channel — he sprang to the boat's 
side and threatened to j ump overboard. I don't know whether 
the threat .were really in earnest, but if Norman had not 
stretched out his firm hand and pulled the little fellow in, we 
should have been capsized in a moment. 

I state this to illustrate the truth of one of Norman's wise 
axioms — vainly impresed upon some of us-r-that there is no- 
thing so dangerous as cowardice. 

86 A HEJ3.0. 

NeveriheleflSy with all its alarms and disasters, that day 
stands out clearly in my memory as one of the most delightful 
my hoyhood ever knew. I could shut my eyes now, and see 
the broad Clyde spread out on either side, so dazzling, yet so 
sleepily still ; the two lines of shore, the hills misty with sun- 
shine; a big ship coming up now and then, exciting our 
curiosity and admiration, or the smoke of a steamer seen 
curling far off and coming nearer, until we, having let hex 
pass at a respectful distance, would take courage, row toward 
the great waves she left in her wake, and there, shipping our 
oars, lie rocking up and down with a motion so pleasant that 
even Jamie was not frightened. It was a delicious day I 

("And nothing happened? You got to Greenock safe, 
after all !" inquired one of the nephews, seeing that Uncle 
Philip paused and was growing rather prosy over his pleasant 

That we got safe is most true, at which fact I now often 
wonder, for never was there a more dangerous expedition — 
dangerous, not from itself, but from the various conflicting 
wills of the young crew, whom even the sensible captain him- 
self was not able to rule. 

I own it was a satisfaction when our keel grated on the 
Greenock shore and we lifted out little Grade safe and sound. 
When we had hauled up the boat, which we did with the 
assistance of a stray passer-by, whom we informed with great 
pride that we had pulled all the way from Dunoon, Norman 
and I carried Gracie between us, in the fashion they call 
" ladies' cushion." Hector went before, poising the oars, one 
on each shoulder, and Jamie followed with the rudder. In 
this triumphal procession we reached the house of the good 
fblk with whom we intended to spend the day, and, I must 
say, slightly ** astonished the natives" by our sudden appear- 
ance and the story of our exploits. 

We performed no more feats, however, as we were not 

A HERO. 37 

allowed to row home by ourselves. Our small crew was 
divided into two boats, and in the early evening merrily we 
again set sail. We had no more hair-breadth escapes or 
perilous doings ; but I remember we had a great deal of fun ; 
our two boats' crews running raceSi splashing each other with 
oars, and hallooing contemptuous defiance over the quiet 
river. I remember too — though faintly, for I was too young 
to take much notice of such things, except that I had quiet 
fancies beyond my own age— I remember how black and 
grand the hills looked after sunset, and how a red ball of fire 
rose out of the river behind us, at which I was half frightened 
until I found out that it was the full harvest moon. 

Also I remember Gracie's singing out of the other boat, 
(Hector had made me come and pull with him in our own) 
— ^how very beautiful, and at the same time melancholy, the 
voice sounded, especially when they gradually rowed away 
and disappeared in the mist that was creeping over the water. 
I listened, catching at times a fragment of Gracie's singing, 
or of their talking. I did not mind so long as we could hear 
them, if ever so faintly ; but when all ceased, the river seemed 
wide and dark. They reached home first. 

(" Well boys," said Uncle Philip, abruptly stopping, " I 
think this is enough for to-night.") 


When next day Uncle Macllroy came back, and heard of 
our exploit, which even now I can not help thinking was an 
exploit, considering that we were all lads under fourteen, and 
none of us, not even my cousins, had had much nautical ex- 
perience—when my uncle learned the fact, he was half angry 
and half amused. He compared us to Ulysses sailing west in 
search of the Fortunate Islands, Jason rowing to Colchis afler 
the Golden Fleece, and various other naval heroes of antiquity, 
with whom his own hoys at least were quite familiar. 

But he strictly forbade our again voyaging to Greenock, or 
any where else, without the parental permission. 

" There is nothing I admire more than a courageous spirit," 
said my uncle, " but remember, boys, that fool-hardiness will 
never make a hero," 

This observation sent me back to the old notion about my 
cousins, which I had never got out of my head, thougkl could 
not by any means form a decision on the subject. This last 
adventure on the river, wherein Hector, the object of my great 
admiration, had proved himself at once so foolishly daring and 
so dangerously timid, made my mind more uncertain than 

** Pray, uncle," I asked, with desperate resolution, " which 
of my. cousins is it who, I understand, is a hero V* 

He seemed at once astonished and amused, and began to 
laugh so heartily that, in great confusion, I ran out of the 
room without waiting for an answer. 

The same day, we being still considerably tired and stifi* 

A HERO. 39 

with our long pull, were glad enough to do nothing but take 
a quiet walk along the shore. The first place that we went 
to was the Castle-hill, a curious ruin, on which my uncle 
lectured very learnedly to his boys. I myself found the con- 
versation dull enough, and took far greater pleasure in running 
up and down the little hill, chasing the sheep that were feed- 
ing there, and leaping from side to side of the crumbling gate- 
way, the chief remnant of mason- work left, at the imminent 
risk of my precious life. 

I was alone too — even Hector, usually my associate in all 
kinds of fun, had for once given up his frolics to listen to his 
father's learned dissertations. For Hector, in addition to his 
physical advantages, was a very clever boy, and was being 
educated for a minister. When he chose he could be as sedate 
as Norman ; and I sometimes thought his intellect was the 
stronger, certainly the brighter, of the two. 

I happened to come behind the father and sons while they 
were talking ; it was about the olden times, when this dilapi- 
dated place had been a fine fortress, under the hands of the 
Campbells of Argyle, and another ruin which Uncle Macllroy 
pointed out down the shore. Castle Toward, was in the pos- 
session of the head of the Lament Clan. 

(" This is possibly uninteresting to you, lads ; but stay till 
you grow older. Information is always valuable ;" observed 
Uncle Philip.) 

" They must have been a lot of brave fellows in those days," 
said Hector, his eyes brightening while his father related some 
of the incidents of warfare that took place between the Clans 
of Lament and Campbell, " I never knew they were such 
grand heroes." 

" Heroes! I am not so sure of that," answered my uncle, 
thoughtfully (and you may be sure, boys, that I listened 
attentively as soon as I caught his first word). " It depends 
upon what consistB our notion of a hero. Remind me, Hector 

40 A HE&O. 

that I read you a passage out of an old book I have, 'when we 
get home/' 

(" Now, nephews," broke off Captain Philip Carew, " if 
one of you will bring me that big volume there, I can read 
you the very passage which I then heard from my uncle. It 
made a great impression on me at the time, and rather altered 
my notions concerning the * heroic days' of ancient history.") 

The quotation ran thus : 

"In 1646, certain of the clan of the Marquis of Argyle, haying 
besieged and forced to sarrender the houses of Toward and Escog, then 
the property of Sir James Lamont, did most treacherously fetter the 
hands of near two hundred persons of the said Sir James's iriends and 
followers, detaining them prisoners, with a guard, their hands being 
bound behind their backs like thieves, within the said Sir James's 
house and yards of Toward, for the space of seyeral days, in great 
torment and misery. In pursuance of their further villainy, after 
plundering all within and without the house, they barbarously mur- 
dered several, young and old, yea, sucking children, some of them not 
one month old. 

"The said persons, in 1646, most traitorouflly and perfidiously did 
carry the whole people who were in the houses of Escog and Toward, 
in boats to the village of Dunoon, and there most cruelly cause to hang 
upon one tree, near the number of thirty-six persons, most of them 
being special gentlemen of the house of Lamont, and vassals to the 
said Sir James." 

(" A pretty set these * heroes' must have been," observed 
Uncle Philip, looking up ; " but," he added, with a sigh, 
remembering the Punjaub, " we are not much better now.") 

" Others were likewise barbarously and unchristianly murdered with 
dirks, and cut down with swords and pistols ; John Jamieson, then 
provost of Rothesay, being shot through the body, they finding some 
life in him, did thrust several dirks and skeans at him, and at last did 
cut his throat with a long dirk. And to manifest their further cruelty, 
they did cast some of the aforesaid persons into holes made for them, 
who were spuming and wrestling while they were suffocated with 
earth ; having denied them any time to recommend themselves to God, 
although earnestly begged and desired to do so by the said murdered 
persons. Insomuch, that the Lord from Heaven did declare His wrath 
against such inhuman cruelty, by striking the tree whereon they were 

A HERO. 41 

hanged, in the said month of Jiwe, being a lively, fresh-growing tree, 
at the kirk-yard of Dunoon, among many other trees with leaves ; the 
Lord struck the said tree immediately thereafter, so that the whole 
leaves fell irom it, and the tree withered, never bearing leaves there- 

"Not very likely, after having borne the unprecedented 
fruit of six-and-thirty hanged men," observed Uncle Macllroy, 
when he had read the passage which I have just now read to 
you. " But," continued he, " this is no matter for jest. It is 
a pretty specimen of what, in those days, was generally con- 
sidered heroism." 

I started ; as well I might. 

" But, father, surely all the heroes of that time were not 
as brutal as these Campbells," said Norman gently — ^he had 
a faculty for always hinting, or insinuating the best side to 
every subject. 

" No," answered Uncle Macllroy, turning over the leaves 
of his big book ; " here is a story, about the same part of the 
country, which to my thinking, quite counteracts the former 
one. I'll tell it to you, not just now, but when we come 
home from our evening walk; it will put out of your. poor 
mother's head the horrible story of this massacre at Dunoon, 
which I see she is still shuddering at ; and, moreover, will 
give you lads some notion of what / consider a hero." 

This was a brilliant idea. So we took our twilight walk, 
talking over the account my uncle had read. Very strange 
it was to see the hills looking so quiet in the direction of 
Castle Toward, and to climb the deserted castle-hill of Du- 
noon, with the moon shining over it. How difierent, when 
we thought of those olden days ! in which, nevertheless, we 
took a marvelous interest ; boys do so delight in stories of 
warfare and battles. 

We talked the whole subject over thoroughly, and even 
walked round by the kirk-yard, trying to imagine where stood 
the marvelous ash-tree, and to picture how it must have 

42 A HEEO. 

looked, with the six-and-thirty hanged wretches dangling in 
the air, amid the heauty of that June night, in the year 1646. 

*' Norman,'' said I to my cousin, as we passed on, "do you 
think there ever was any hody who deserved to be called a 

He smiled, but made no answer ; for just then we were 
enterbg our own door. 

After tea, Uncle Macllroy told us the story he had prom- 
ised; a true and well-authenticated legend, which I will 
here relate — not in his own words, as of course I can not 
remember them exactly — ^but I shall keep close to the facts, 
which have not in the least faded from my recollection. 

The Laments of Castle Toward, for a number of genera- 
tions, headed the most powerful clan along the northern bank 
of the estuary of the Clyde. 

(" Most of you English boys know what a dan is," said 
Uncle Philip, interrupting himself; " still, for the benefit of 
the younger, ones, I may as well say, that it means a numer- 
ous tribe of men, all bearing the same surname, and probably 
originally, sprung from the same stock, united under one chief- 
tain, whom they implicitly obey, continuing their allegiance 
from father to son. It is, in truth, the Scottish form of the 
feudal system, which you have all read about in your History 
of England — except that the Highland retainers all bear their 
chieftain's surname, and mostly claim the same descent from 
one patriarch of the race. This is the simplest form of gov- 
ernment extant, and dates from the earliest times ; in fact, 
we may consider good Father Adam himself to have been 
the first chieftain of the first clan." 

All laughed at Uncle .Philip's odd conceit, and professed 
themselves quite satisfied with his explanation.) 

Some centuries ago, though no date is assigned, the chief 
of the Lament Clan happened to be a mere youth. His 
father had probably been killed in one of the various squabbles 

A H£BO. 43 

which were common then, when every hody seemed at once 
to iight to live, and to live to fight ; when nobody thought 
of working, but if he wanted a cow, or a drove of sheep, stole 
them from his neighbor, and kept them till his neighbor grew, 
the strongest, and stole them back again. 

In truth, the system of public law then was very much 
what it is in boys' schools now — might, not right, was the 
general rule, and the best fighter was sure to carry all before 
him. Thus, the Laments, being very numerous and strong, 
held the whole west country in subjection; and did so, until, 
as you may remember, in that black year 1646, the Camp- 
bells of Argyle made such havoc amoug them. But the 
story I now relate happened long before then. 

Young Lamdnt was on friendly terms with another chief- 
tain, Macgregor of Glenstrae — ^I know nothing of Glenstrae, 
having never been there, but I believe it is on the shores 
of Loch Fyne. Macgregor had an only child, a young lad, 
something near Lament's own age; and one day, during a 
visit that the latter was paying at Glenstrae, the two youths 
went out hunting together. 

At night-fall, being far away from home, they, with some 
of Macgregor's retainers, took up their lodging in a hill-side 
cave ; as, indeed, was and is the common habit of the hardy 

During the night, from some trivial cause, on which tradi- 
tion is silent, there happened — what alas ! was likewise not 
unfrequent in those warlike times — a quarrel between the 
two young chieftains, mere lads as they were-^lads, who 
nowadays would just have had an honest battle with fists, 
fought it out, and been friends again. But in this blood- 
thirsty age the case was diflerent. Young Lament, in the 
heat of passion, drew out the dirk, which a Highland chief- 
tain always wore, using it indiscriminately to slay a wounded 
deer, or to destroy an enemy. In a moment, while the pas- 

44 A UK&O. 

nou was upon him (an^ most of you lads know what the 
fary of passion is) he had stabhed the boy Macgregor to the 

It is worth pausing a moment, to think what must have 
been the feelings of Lament — a noble and generous fellow in 
the main, as his after life shows — ^when, his momentary pas- 
sion spent, he stood in the cave, looking at his playmate, his 
meny companion of an hour since, now lying there, a dead 
body and nothing more. People in those days thought more 
lightly of human life and of the sin of murder, than we do 
now; yet the young chieftain's sensations at the moment must 
have been of a very horrible kind. 

Almost by miracle, Lament got safe out of the cave ; which, 
had the Macgregor clansmen detected him, he certainly never 
would have done, since the law of " blood for blood" was very 
strong, indeed almost the only law those lawless times could 

He escaped, and wandered about the forests for many hours ; 
until he quite lost his way. At last, seeing a light in the 
distance, he made for it, and entered a house. 

It was the very home he had quitted that morning — the 
home he had now made desolate. 

Old Macgregor received him with unafiected cordiality, 
forcing him to enter. The unhappy murderer must have 
done so, scarcely aware of what he was about. But very 
soon Macgregor discerned that something had gone wrong, 
and knowing well the fierce passions of those times, was at 
no loss to guess the whole truth ; or else, which is not im« 
probable, young Lament confessed all. 

It is hardly possible to imagine a sterner honor, a more 
rigid justice, or more heroic self-control, than that evinced by 
the father of the murdered boy toward the slayer of his only 
son ; especially in those times when, as I said before, .the law 
of vengeance was almost the sole law existing. 

A HEEO. 45 

The old chieftain not only shielded his wretched guest from 
the present fury of the Macgregor clansmen, who at day-break 
returned with the evil tidings, bearing along with them the 
body of the poor slain lad, but he liimself concerted a plan to 
save young Lament's life. Whether this was from a strong 
sense of the sacredness of hospitality, or whether from a mer- 
ciful judgment of the deed — the same which in our days would 
have led a jury to pronounce it not exactly murder, but un- 
premeditated manslaughter — can not now be known. Cer- 
tain it is, that the bereaved father acted in this heroic fashion. 
In the middle of the next night, he rose up, ordering Lament 
to follow him. He led the young chieftain over hill and 
forest, far away from Glenstrae, down io a place called Dun- 
na-ramh, on the shore of Loch Fyne. There, were lying a 
boat and oars. 

" Take these,** said the Macgregor sternly. " Use them 
for your life ; on the opposite shore is your own country. 
Once there, let the murderer save himself if he can." 

Lament took the boat, with what words of gratitude the 
history does not relate ; he rowed safe over to the other side 
leaving the childless father standing on the shore. 

Despite the unrelenting pursuit of the Macgregor clan, the 
Laments w^e too powerful for any harm to reach their head. 

He Uve^ jafely entrenched in his own Castle Toward, and 
grew up (iom youth to manhood, from manhood to middle age. 
He is believed to have made a just and generous chieflain, and 
the clan Lament flourished under his rule. Possibly, the awful 
event of his boyhood influenced his after life ; but at this dis- 
tance of time his character can only be judged by what is, in- 
deed, the sole way of judging any character, in history or tra- 
dition — ^his recorded actions. 

While the Laments prospered, the smaller and less power- 
vl clan, Macgregor of Glenstrae, was fiust sinking. Its head, 

46 A H£KO. 

the childless father, the last of his race, was incompetent to 
rule ; the whole clan, impoverished and weak, were oppress- 
ed by their stronger neighbors on every side. At last, by 
some great but not uncommon wrong-doing, Macgregor was 
stripped of his lands, and for no cause whatever, but merely 
to make a show of justice, declared a criminal and an ont* 

One day, when Lament was in the height of his power, 
there came a poor old man to the gates of Castle Toward. It 
was the unfortunate Macgregor of Glenstrae, who could find 
no shelter on earth, save with the man who had slain his only 
son, and whom he himself and his whole clani^ had pursued 
with unrelenting but useless vengeance for many years. A 
curious instance of the strange mingling of barbaric, ferocious 
justice and chivalrous honor, which prevailed in the middle 

Lament jo;ytully received his former enemy, and became 
as a son to the unfortunate father whom he himself had made 
childless. For many years, Macgregor lived at Castle To- 
ward, treated with infinite respect and tenderness. When 
he died, it was under Lament's roof; and the chieftain's own 
hand closed his ^yes. He was buried, tradition avouches, 
with all the honors due to his rank, as the last Macgregor of 
Glenstrae. His place of burial was until very lately pointed 
out ; it was in a little ohapelry, dedicated to the Viigin, of 
which a few relics only now remain, situated on the farm of 

" Now," said my uncle, when he had finished the story 
which I have here repeated, though I can not give it with 
half the force that he did, with his terse, impressive language, 
and his strong yet pure accent (for, as I afterward found out, 
my Highland uncle, well educated, and learned in many lan- 
guages, spoke, and taught his boys to speak, far purer English 

A HERO. 47 

than I did myself). "Now," said he, turning itpon us his 
bright blue eyes, " that is what I call a hero." 

We assented eagerly ; but the next moment a difierence 
arose as to which chieflain was meant. Some stood up for 
young Lament, and others for Macgregor of Glenstrae. 

At last, little Gracie, whom, during the story, I had more 
than once seen with tears in her eyes — she was such a tender- 
hearted little lassie— Gracie solved the difficulty by proposing 
that they should both be considered as heroes. 

The matter ended ; Hector and I resolving to walk next 
day to the farm of TowsLrd-na-uiUt ; in order if possible, to 
find out the grave of Macgregor---which we did. 

('* I wonder," continued Uncle Philip, musing, " whether 
the old chieftain's ntanes — you classic students know what 
manes are — were gratified by this homage paid by two 
school-boys to his memory. Well ! it only shows how long a 
truly heroic action is remembered in the world. All the 
Laments and Macgregors that ever tore one another to pieces 
in' blood-thirsty conflicts, have passed into comparative obliv- 
ion, from which is only rescued the memory of these two — 
real heroes !" ' 

Captain Carew looked thoughtful for a minute ; then, see- 
ing his small audience were all dropping to sleep, he gave an* 
impressive grunt, and ceased moralizing.) 


I THINK, that the brief time we staid at Danoon, just two 
or three weeks, renders my memory more vivid concerning 
all we did. There was one day, that with its termination 
(which had nearly been likewise the termination of our lives) 
recurs to me particularly just now. 

It was the day before we left. My ancle had already gone 
to Glasgow and begun his classes; Norman and Hector ought 
to have likewise commenced theirs, only my aunt fancied that 
the former was delicate, and begged an extra week or two of 

" How shall we make the most of this last day T' became 
the general question ; some voted for boating—we certainly 
had grown water-mad. But Norman suggested that we could 
not possibly row up and down the Dunoon shore all day, and 
we were forbidden to go any further. 

" Besides," as he sensibly remarked, " would it not be better 
to tire our legs out first, and then resort to our arms ? I pro- 
pose that we should take a good long ramble up the hills all 
day, and have a nice pull in the evening." 

So off we started; Norman, Hector, James, and I. There 
was a slight squabble previously, as to whether or no we should 
take any lunch with us ; but we all had such an intense aver- 
sion to carrying a basket, that my aunt's entreaties were 
vain. However, I saw her quietly put a slice or two of dry 
bread into Norman's pockets ; every body was thoughtful 
over Norman, as he, in his turn, was thoughtful over every 

A HERO. 49 

Wo started, promising to be back in time to give Gracie a 
sail — poor Gracie ! who set us off so merrily, and yet when 
we reached the gate, we saw her looking afler us with such 
longing, wistful eyes. 

Boy-like, we could not think of going up into the hills by the 
regular path, but determined to ascend up the bed of a stream, 
a beautiful burnt that came pouring merrily into the Clyde at 
the West Bay. It was a remarkable place, the water dash- 
ing over the slate rocks that formed high braes on either side 
of its course. I hear that now, when Dunoon is so changed, 
this stream has been bridged over, its wildness brought into 
elegant order, and an English chapel of the fashion called 
Fuseyite (though I don't quite hke such nick-names in relig- 
ious matters), built on the top of one of the braes. Neverthe- 
less, no modern innovations can have altogether spoiled that 
lovely little burn. 

Nobody, who has lived only in a flat country, can have 
the least idea of what a stream really is in the Highlands. 
Not a quiet, babbling, good-tempered brook, but a perfect tor- 
rent, which, be the volume of water great or small, is equally 
impetuous. It comes leaping from rock to rock, circling the 
larger stones, dashing over the little ones ; divided here and 
there into half a dozen zig-zag channels, or again joined into 
one, flow for perhaps a few yards, until the rocky impediments 
break it once more. Mostly, it is so shallow, that you can 
step through it, but by places it sinks into deep, still pools 
under the hollows of rocks ; tempting, transparent, crystal 
baths, where you can almost see to the bottom. But it must 
be a very venturesome bather who would put his foot in there. 

Such a stream was the one I speak of, up the channel of 
which we four merry boys went. 

What fun, what laughing we had ! How we took ofi" our 
shoes and stockings and slung them over our shoulders, that 
we might the easier cling to the smooth stones. How deli- 


60 A H£EO. 

cioQB it was to feel the water dashing coldly ovex our bare 
feet, as we tried, by the puny resistance of those said feet 
planted across lesser channels, to stop a current that was as 
resistless as time, or fate, or any thing else of that sort. 

(" Upon my soul !" cried Uncle Philip breaking out into 
the only asseveration that, soldier though he was, he was 
ever known to use. " Upon my soul, when I talk of these 
things, I almost wish I were a boy again ! But it won't do, 
it won't do !" 

He continued, making an attempt to laugh :) 

No felicity is without its vexations, and I remember we 
were desperately tormented by the midges, that would come 
about us in myriads, settling on our faces and stinging, till 
they almost drove us crazy. At length we stuck great leaves 
of fern, or bunches of heather, in our caps, vdth which the 
little wretches contented themselves in some small degree ; 
though still they were all but insatiable. (So, boys, it is worth 
while to remember that the greatest merriment and happi- 
ness in life is sure, more or less, to be accompanied by — 
midges I) 

I can not call to mind every portion of our walk, or rather 
scramble, for we scorned any thing like regular locomotion, 
but I know that our next tribulation was something worse 
than midges. We got into a bog. 

I never can understand why, on mountain sides, which one 
might naturally expect to find dry, there should be such a 
deal of bog land. To me, an EngUsh boy, quite unaccustomed 
to such a thing, I own it was not over pleasant. So unex- 
pected, too, for the marsh we crossed looked pretty and green, 
had magnificent beds of moss; with, oh! such heather! 
And Gracie wanted some of both to take home to Glasgow. 

On I plunged, choosing for a footing the greenest looking 
mosses, and always finding them the deepest in water. But 
T was too proud to confess the taxii ; so floundered silently on, 

A H£EO. 51 

seeing the other lads far before me. At last Norman turned 
and shouted for me to come on. 

"Presently," answered I, putting a bold face on the mat- 
ter ; " but it's rather bad walking." 

It certainly was ; I being just then busy hunting for one 
of my shoes ; in the search for which I left the other shoe be- 
hind me. 

" Come on, Phil !" shouted the boys once more. 

" I can't," cried I, piteously, despair at last subduing my 
courage, " I've lost my shoes, and I can't walk home barefoot. 
Will nobody come and help me ?" 

" What, you expect us to go back all through the bog !" 
Hector replied, from near the top of the hill. " Hurrah ! I'm 
out of the moss now, and it's such a beautiful view. Make 
haste, boys." 

Very easy that — with some dozen yards nearly impassable 
between me and the enviable hill top, to say nothing of the 
lost shoes. Except that I was ashamed, I could have sat 
down and cried. Once I thought of calling for Norman, but 
then I did not care so very much for him. Hector was. my 
chief friend, and Hector had deserted me. 

However, when I was standing sulky and disconsolate, look- 
ing at my stockings all tramped in holes, and my trowsers 
wet up to the knees, I found Norman beside me. He had 
come all the way without my asking him. 

" Well, old fellow, and what's to be done for you % Here 
has Jamie been in just the same pHght." (Oh, what a. com- 
fort that was !) " Come, cheer up, never mind I" 

"I don't mind," said I proudly, "only if I could but find 
my shoes, considering I haven't another pair, and am not at 
home as you are." And I began to think mournfully how 
my poor mother had charged me to be very careful of my 
clothes, since she was not rich enough to buy me more for a 
long time. Horrible visions rose up of my having hencefor- 

52 A H£EO. 

ward to go about barefoot, like the little ragged Scotch boys 
I 80 despised. It was an accumulation of woes. 

Perhaps Norman saw I was sulky, and tried no more con- 
solation, except in a practical way. He said nothing, but cut 
a long stick from a fallen tree, and poked about in all direc- 
tions for a dozen yards round, until at last, after infinite pa- 
tience, he found my shoes. I shall never forget my joy when 
he jokingly exhibited them one stuck upon each prong of the 
long stick. 

" Thank you, Norman," I cried, energetically. 

" Stop, Phil, you can not put them on. See how soaked 
they are ; they'd be the death of you ! Come, off with your 
stockings too ; put them in your pocket and sling your shoes 
over your shoulder; then you'll be quite sure not to lose 

I own. I somewhat objected to this plan. 

" Oh, nonsense, it will only teach you to be hardy. Feet 
were made to walk on; do you think father Adam wore 
shoes ? Squeeze the wet out of your trowsers and roll them 
up to the knee; then start off; you need not mind the bog 
now. Bravo ! that's the way to get over a difficulty." 

His cheery voice and manner would have encouraged any 
body to do any thing. He made so light of the trouble too, 
and bore his part of it — ^for he had got desperately wet — so 
uncomplainingly. Before I knew what I was about, I found 
myself laughing merrily — stepping from heather-tuft to heath- 
er-tuft as he told me. (Which general hint I throw out to 
all bog-trotters, that where there's a heather-tuft, there is sure 
to be safe footing.) Very soon, we had nearly passed the 
region of my woes, out of which I had moreover contrived to 
bring a magnificent nosegay for Gracie. At last we stood on 
the hill-top, and looked back on the bog we had safely got 

("And that bog," added Philip Carew, meditatively, "was 

A. H£EO. 53 

not the last from which, daring our troabled journey through 
life, my cousin Norman has brought me safely out.") 

This hill-top, "which I have never climbed since, nor am 
ever likely to climb, afibrded a scene which, boy as I was, I 
have never forgotten. It was a very narrow peak, quite bare, 
composed of a few rocks or stones thrown together like seats, 
with bits of heather, moss, or lichen growing upon them. The 
peak was high enough to afibrd a view of the Firth of Clyde, 
from Rothesay up to Greenock, oy possibly further, only that 
the afternoon haze was stealing on. The river was perfectly 
calm,< with very few boats on it — there was not a sound among 
the hills — not a cloud stirring in the sky — every thing was 
as still as death; although it was such bright sunshine. 
There were a few sheep feeding far below us, but they only 
ooked like white stones scattered on the hill-side : we never 
saw them move. 

Somehow, wild boys as we were, the scene quieted us. We 
sat on the hill-top for half-an-hour, without talking at all — or 
only in whispers. Then I put on my shoes which Norman 
had managed to dry on the hot sunny rocks, and we started 
ofi'down the slope. 

Now another disaster arose. We found as we penetrated 
further down the woody side of the hill, that on it were feeding 
not merely the harmless sheep, but some Highland cattle, and 
little Jamie was dreadfully afraid of cows. His terrors were 
this time not quite so unfounded as usual, for I remembered 
that Uncle Macllroy had himself warned us to be careful 
where we went, since there were sometiiiieiB very ferocious 
bulls found in unfrequented parts of the hills. 

And when unluckily a black cow, rather wild and shaggy- 
looking, as all Highland cattle are, being possessed of an in- 
quiring disposition, walked foward a dozen yards to take a 
mild survey of James, the poor wee fellow ran off screaming. 
The noise disturbed the animals still more. They began to 

54 A HERO. 

look at one another, and at us, and really even I grew rather- 

" Pooh !" said Hector disdainfully, " who's afraid, even if 
there is a bull ? We must pass this way, and those that do 
not choose to go may stay on the hill-side all night." 

With that, he went daringly forward to meet our foes, and 
80 outraged the feelings of the aforesaid black cow that I really 
think she would have run at him, but happily there was a 
broad ditch between them. 

*' Hector, do not be fool-hardy ! Come back !" shouted 
Norman, in the imperative elder-brother tone he so rarely 
used ; and Hector came, probably not very reluctantly, leav- 
ing the indignant little Highland beast to watch him with 
ferocious eyes. 

" We can not go through that pasture, it*s quite evident," 
said Norman. 

*' But we will ! Nobody is afraid but Jamie ; let him stay 

** Now, Hector, that's not talking common sense. How can 
we leave the little fellow behind ? Whether he's foolish or 
not is another matter ; anyhow there's no conquering his fears." 

" He should have staid at home then." 

" So I think, Philip ; but since he is here, we must just 
make the best of him. The question is, are we to leave him 
on the hills all night, or are we to get back another way ? 
Try it, lads ; there's great fun in finding out a new road. 
Here goes !" 

He plunged into a small copse of nut trees and brambles 
whence Jamie's frightened voice was heard in difierent direc- 
tions, frantically calling on us all in turns. Hector and I 
looked at one another rather discontentedly : Hector mutter- 
ing something about " little cowards that always spoil every 
thing," — then we followed. Somehow or other, whether we 
liked it or not, Norman generally had his way. 

A HEEO. 55 

It was a great consolation to find lots of nuts in the nut- 
wood, and in the enthusiasm of hunting for them, we quite 
forgot to ahuse poor Jamie. We compelled him to cram his 
pockets with our surplus nuts, imtil we found that he ate 
them so fast as to be any thing but a trusty guardian of the 
spoil. So we quarreled and made it up again, grumbled and 
laughed, shouted and sang — ^Norman being as wild as any of 
us ; until suddenly we discovered that the sun was getting 
low, and the nut-wood dark ; and besides, we had not the 
dimmest notion where we were. We were very hungry too, 
in spite of all our nut-eating, and were beginning to feel tired 
and cross, especially Jamie. He had just proposed our going 
home, when the unpleasant idea presented itself, that we 
really did not know how to get there. 

We three elders had a serious consultation, while Jamie 
sat and cried. 

" Look," said Norman, " there's a white line running along 
the foot of the hills. Now that must be a high road, and a 
high road must lead somewhere. Suppose we strike to it, in 
a straight cut, through bushes, bogs, and every thing. It will 
be an adventure ; and as to mud, why, we can't be much 
worse than we are now." 

We looked dejectedly upon our torn and dirty habiliments, 
soaked to the knees, and acknowledged that fact at once. 

" Come then, before it grows late ; let's start boldly." 

" I canna," sobbed Jamie, " I'm so hungry, and nuts are 
not like one's dinner. I'm so thirsty, and we have not seen 
a stream." 

" You goose," cried Hector, " do you think we are not all 
hungry and thirsty too, only we would be ashamed to make 
auch a fuss about it. Get up, James, and let's be off." 

"Stay, lad," interposed Norman, catching his little brother 
by the shoulder, and arresting a most pitiful and disconsolate 
outcry. Then, out of that blessed pocket of his, he drew a 

56 A HE&O. 

great lump of dry bread — ^very dry indeed, and warmed 
through ; but, nevertheless, eatable bread. Did'nt we eat it ! 
with most hearty gusto too, though I'm afraid we were too 
hungry to say "thank you." Except that Hcetor, having 
finished his piece, and wanting some more, which was of 
course not to be had, slapped his brother energetically on the 
back, saying — 

" Never mind I you are a trump, old fellow." 

" Now for water ; there must be some hereabouts," ob- 
served Norman, and we went a little way and listened. Sure 
enough, there was the faint tinkle of a spring, falling a drop 
at a time. We followed the sound, so indistinct, that except 
in that region of perfect quietness we could not have heard it 
at all. 

"Bravo I here it is," shouted Hector. "Now, Phil, do 
you wish to see a Highland spring ?" 

It certainly was the slenderest rivulet imaginable, oo2ang 
drop by drop out of a moss bed, and running under the roots 
of the heather, a mere thread of water. But it loas water ; 
and it grew and grew, we tracking it a few yards by the sound 
of its trickle, though we could not see it, until at last, coming 
to a rock a few feet high, it had to make a great leap, and in 
that leap suddenly discovered itself to be a stream. 

Oh, the delight of drinking it up ! which we did literally, 
for it was such a tiny runnel that our mouths laid across the 
current stopped it up entirely. Moreover, the water had in 
a slight degree the peculiar iron taste given by running through 
bog land. Nevertheless, we thought it delicious ; and I looked 
upon Norman with as much respect as if he had discovered 
the source of an important river, which, for all I know, he 
really had, since every river must have been, once upon a 
time, a little trickling mountain spring. 

All being refreshed, Norman gave the word to start. What 
a scramble it was, down a sloping thicket of nut-wood and 

A HERO. 57 

brambles, a descent always at an angle of forty-five degrees 
(you boys know thus much of geometry). A descent, likewise, 
which was marshy ground the whole way. Nothing was 
heard but plunges, tumbles, and outcries ; yet the thing was 
BO funny, we could none of us help laughing. Except Jamie, 
who in despair gave himself up to his fate and was quite sure 
he never should reach home alive. 

" Well," said Hector, " if the worst comes to the worst, we 
can but stop on the hills all night, as people do when they go 
deer-stalking. I should like it very much ; it would be just 
like Bobinson Crusoe." 

But, seeing that this alternative frightened the tired Jamie 
more than ever, Hector, really a kind and generous boy, took 
his little brother on his back, and they two went floundering 
on together. 

" Good news I" cried Norman, who was in advance, " we 
have come at last to the foot of the hill and the end of the 
bog. Here is a stream, which must run somewhere, and I 
think from the direction it takes, must run toward the high 
road which leads toward Dunoon. Jamie, you're clever at 
the points of the compass, tell us what you think ?" 

Jamie, thus ingeniously appealed to, stopped crying at once, 
and looked about him. He declared he knew the place, and 
that the little loch we saw close by was near the high road 
from Loch Eck to Dunoon. 

" He's quite right ; Jamie's a sensible wee fellow," said 
the elder brother kindly. **If we track the course of this 
bumie, we'll come out all right, and to save trouble in getting 
through the brambles, I propose that we take off* our shoes 
and stockings and wade." 

This plan of aquatic transit was greatly admired, and cer- 
tainly the bed of the stream made a most admirable pathway, 
quite easy compared with the bogs we had gone through. 
We performed the exploit capitally, with much laughing and 

58 A HEEO. 

fan, and without any disaster ; only as vre neared the high 
road, we heard the voices of some Dunoon ladies passing, and 
at my earnest entreaty, we four torn, muddied, bare-legged 
laddies crept under a bush until they had gone by. For 
which act of timid propriety on my part, my cousins torment- 
ed me the whole way home ; telling me I had always lived 
among girls, and was just a girl myself; until I furiously 
proposed they should all fight me, and try. 

Somehow or other, we got home. Little Gracie was sit- 
ting in the bow window, watching for us very anxiously. My 
aunt had been too busy to vex herself much ; besides it was 
not much later than we usually came home. Returning, we 
had mutually agreed to keep our own counsel, and tell none 
of our dangers and disasters, that night at least. So when 
after tea Gracie innocently asked if we had enjoyed ourselves, 
and if, supposing we were not too tired, we would take her 
one last sail in the dear little boat ? it became necessary to 
answer yes. 

Looking out, we found the twilight had gradually melted 
into the most lovely moonlight. Gracie crept to the hall 
door, holding by Norman's shoulder, and came back singing 
one of our English nursery rhymes which I had taught her, 
and which took her fancy very much — 

" The moon doth shine as bright as day, 
Boys and girls come out to play, 
Come with a rattle and come with a call, 
Come with a good will, or come not at all.'' 

She sang it so prettily ; she could put a tune to any thing she 
liked — she was such a clever little girl. 

Well, I don't remember how we coaxed my aunt to let 
us go, seeing it was eight o'clock at night ; but we certainly 
did get leave, promising to remain out but a little while, at 
which promise we were ready enough, being much tired. 

But somehow the brilliant moon making every thing as 

A HEEO. 59 

clear as day, the river being very calm, and our boat lightly 
laden (there were in it just Norman, Hector, Gracie, and I) 
— we staid out longer than we intended. Gracie was so 
merry ; singing at the very top of her clear voice, clear as that 
of a little golden wren ; it made one wonder how such a vol- 
ume of rich sound could come out of so slender a throat. 

We were pulling up and down the West Bay, listening to 
Gracie's singing, or at intervals making a tremendous noise 
ourselves, by shouting to an echo that we had found out at a 
particular spot in the bay, and which answered us from shore 
in most unearthly mimicry of our words, and especially our 
laughter ; the latter became a '' ha, ha !" perfectly demoniacal. 

Gracie suddenly stopped us with ** Look ! is not that a 
steamboat at the pier ?" 

" I don't think it," Norman answered, " it's too late an 
hour for steamers. Yet that certainly must be one ; I won- 
der which way her head is. I did not see her pass up, so she 
must be coming in our direction. Pull away. Hector ; Phil, 
take the other oar !" 

" No, no !" cried Hector, who was showing off his skill 
•with both oars " we are quite far enough in shore ; besides, I 
would like to catch her waves." 

" Ah do ! and let us have a nice rock on them ; 'tis for the 
last time this summer," begged Gracie. 

Norman assented, knowing that there was no danger in the 
harmless see-saw of the waves, which his sister was so fond of. 
In fact, there was no time for refusal, since when he was yet 
speaking the steamer, which in the uncertain light proved 
nearer and larger than we thought, had passed us by. For a 
minute all was still, and then I saw her waves — ^great long 
rollers, hills of water, with deep clefts between^^advancing 
slowly in the light of the moon. 

" Ship your oars !" cried Norman, who was looking fixedly 
at the rollers, which Hector, sitting backward, could not see. 

60 A HEEO. 

" Oh how nice and laige they are I" said Gracie, quite 

They were indeed large, larger than I had ever seen ; they 
came on huge, steady, resistless. I remembered having heard 
Norman say there was no danger to any boat in a mere swell, 
but only when the waves rose into breakers, curled over, crested, 
and broke. And looking at these, I saw slowly gather at one 
end a white crest of foam. 

" Steady ! Keep her head to the waves ! Now ship your 
oars," said Norman, in a quick whisper. Our eyes met, and 
we both understood — ^we two only — that the next minute 
would decide whether the boat, already sinking aslant in the 
watery hollow, should again rise up on the wave, or go down 
to the bottom like a shot. 

Boys I it was an awful minute. I remember seeing Nor- 
man steal his arm firmly round Gracie ; I knew what he did 
that for. She, poor child, sat smiling, and Hector too. It 
was, I say again, an awful minute ! 

The boat plunged down head foremost — and rose up again ! 
We were saved. 

Other waves came, but less than the first; the little boat 
rocked harmlessly on the swell. 

"It's grand!" cried Hector. "But, Norman! Philip! 
what's the matter with you ?" 

" Only that we have all been within an inch of our lives, 
and are safe. Thank God !" 

I had not thought of that thanksgiving. It made me feel 
that Norman was a better boy than I. 

" Now, pull ashore, quick !" added he, taking the trembling 
Gracie in his arms. Hector, horrified at the past danger, 
obeyed. We rowed homa and landed without speaking a 


(" Well, boys, are you not getting tired of my story ? It 
is becoming as long as those of Dinarzade, in the Arabian 
Nights. Do any of you, contrary to the Sultan, want to cut 
off my head, in order to put an end to my tale V 

Uncle Philip's question, with its very mild amount of humor 
produced great merriment, and hearty " Noes," on the part 
of his young audience, who settled themselves at once for an- 
other " night's entertainment,") 

You will hear no more Highland adventures, nephews, 
since after the last unlucky boating we left Dunoon ; which, 
I now think, was very fortunate ; Hector and I were growing 
so wondrously daring, or rather fool-hardy . (for there is a 
mighty difierence between fool-hardiness and courage), that 
otherwise I don't believe we should ever have quitted the 
place alive. 

Very loth we were to quit it, nevertheless, and grumbled 
extremely all the way up the Clyde ; especially Hector and 
I, for Norman was too busy looking after the luggage, and 
making jokes for the purpose of keeping the younger children 
quiet. We used to call him "the nursery girl," from his 
care over his little brothers, and his great popularity among 
them ; which popularity Hector and I rather disdained than 
emulated. But Norman only laughed at our quizzing. 

The steamer went lazily between the narrowing banks of 
the river, very much like an overgrown goose trying to swim 
along a small, dirty and ugly stream — I never saw any water 
60 muddily black as the beautiful blue Clyde becomes near 

62 A H£EO. 

Glai^w ; only it was some fun to watch the boiling eddies 
that the steamer produced on either bank as she passed, so 
extremely narrow was the channel. 

" Really," said I, " how stupid the people were to build 
Glasgow here. I wonder any ships can ever manage to get 
up this poor dirty bit of a river. We should never think of 
it in England." 

" Very likely not," answered Hector with wondrous dignity ; 
" but we Scotch can do any thing any where, and make any 
thing out of any thing." 

Of course I indignantly scouted this fact : but I half begin 
to think there was some truth in it. And, viewing Glasgow, 
not as I did then, with prejudiced and limited boyish vision, 
but as I should now, it seems to me a wonderful place. Ugly 
as it is, or was in those days, it keenly strikes a thoughtful 
mind, as every commercial city must. One may liken it to 
the roots of a great tree, tangled, dirty, unsightly fibres, but 
which nevertheless stretch out far and wide, often wider than 
the branches, and upon whose strength the whole stability, 
health, and beauty of the tree depends. Therefore I have a 
marvelous respect for the western metropolis of Scotland, and 
say with all my heart, as says the motto on those atrociously 
ugly city arms, " Let Glasgow flourish, T* 

Little did we boys then care about these things ; we only 
thought, as we landed at the Broomielaw (which I remember 
I had unaccountably supposed to be a bank of flowering broom 
and discovered to my confusion, that it was a thicket of masts 
just like St. Katharine*s Docks) we only thought that we 
were coming back to a disagreeable town life — ^to dullness 
and school. 

" Ah," sighed Hector, as we passed the ferry, where the 
ferryman sat in his clumsy barge, handling his still clumsier 
oars : " Ah, that is all the boating we'll have for months to 
come ! just crossing the dirty Clyde and back." 

A HEEO. (S3 

Wo both pulled melancholy faces and thought it very 

It was on a Saturday that we came home — I now called 
my uncle's house home quite naturally — on the Monday the 
boys were to begin their " classes," for here I found every body 
said " going to classes," instead of " going to school." On 
Sunday night. Hector, Norman, and I lay awake for hours — 
we all slept in the same room, they in their bed, and I on 
the floor, which I thought great fun. There I heard a deal 
of talk, to me quite mysterious, about "third year," "fourth 
year;" "dux," " Doctor Cowe," " prize," " examination," etc., 
etc. In the midst of which I gradually fell asleep. 

I was awakened, at what I thought an unearthly early 
hour, by the ringing of a most unearthly bell. Norman 
jumped up, shook Hector into wakefulness, at the which he 
growled furiously, and then performed the same kind office 
for me. 

" No use grumbling, Phil ! — up at seven — prayers at half- 
past — breakfast at eight — off to classes at nine ! It's father's 
way, and must be done. Tumble up, lad I" 

I did "tumble up" very sulkily, with strong intentions 
of rebellion against Uncle Macllroy. But as soon as ever I 
saw him, I began to fear my bold resolutions were all thrown 

He came down stairs, his hair flying abroad more than 
ever, with a most resolute, business-like, head-of-a-family 
look, quite difierent from that he wore in our holiday-time. 
As I have before said, Uncle Macllroy was a very good man, 
and a very kind man ; but I never saw any body look more 
stern than he could, when he chose. And when he, in his 
quiet way, issued a command — " boys, do so and so I" — ^you 
would as soon attempt to jump over the moon, as not do it. 

So when, after prayers and breakfast were over, the latter 
being almost as gravely gone through as the former, while 

«4 A HEEO. 

Norman and Hector, both very quiet now, were busy looking 
over their books — ^my uncle called me into his study, I did not 
dare to refuse. 

An awful place was that study, all lined with books, and 
thickly scattered with papers ; he was such a learned man, 
though fate had ordained that he should never be any thing 
more than a schoolmaster. 

^'.Philip, come here ; nay, do not be frightened." (I dare 
say I looked so.) " Have you ever been to school ?" 

"N-no, uncle, not exactly!" In fact, I had gained all 
my little learning from my poor dear mother (a very clever 
woman grandmamma was in her youth, boys.) I timidly 
stated this to Uncle Macllroy. 

" Um — ^yes — I see. Has she taught you Latin ?" 


" Delectus ? — Cssar ? — Ovid ?" — my uncle never wasted 

" I'm in Virgil ; my mother likes Virgil best." 

" Oh ! let us see what you can do," and he took down a 
great musty looking JEneid, all mouldy and dogs'-eared inside, 
though most carefully bound ; no doubt a very valuable edition, 
but it only frightened me the more. " Now, Philip, begin." 

" Arma virunique cano,^* tremblingly I commenced, pro- 
nouncing my a's short, English fashion. 

^*Arma^^f) vyrumquee cai^yvo^^ mimicked my uncle, shak- 
ing his head — " boy ! that will never do here, you would be 
the laughing-stock of your class. There is not a country in 
the world where they pronounce Latin so, except in England. 
Try it this way." 

And in his sonorous, musical voice— broadening out the 
a's and e's, Italian fashion — ^he read the lines : 

"Arma virumque cano, Trojee qui primus ab oris 
Italiam, fato profugus, Layinia venit 

A HERO. 65 

" Now, Philip, go on." 

I was obliged to do so, my Saxon pride rebelling at every 
word. Though now I think my Uncle Macllroy and " every 
country in the world," are quite as likely to be correct in their 
notion of pronouncing Latin as the solitary opinion of John 

(" Oh, oh, oh I" groaned some of Uncle Philip's audience, 
stanch Westminster boys 

"Well, nephews, the thing's not worth fighting about," 
smiled he, and continued.) 

Whether or no I passed my examination with credit, I can 
not tell; certain it was, that my uncle, putting away the 
terrible Virgil, desired me to get ready and join his class in 
the High School. 

Here was an encroachment on the liberty of a boy and a 
Briton ! I absolutely stood aghast. 

" And," continued my uncle, not taking the slightest notice, 
" since, as you will not be here all the session, it is useless 
your taking other classes, I shall give you evening lessons my- 
self in whatever I may think you require. Now away with 
you ; the boys will show you my class-rooms. Remember, 
half-past nine, invarioMy, I never excuse want of punctu- 

He patted my head (" The old hypocrite I" I thought) and 
sent me away. 

There was no help for it. All the nice long lounging 
mornings I had planned, to be spent in drawing Gracie's 
Uttle carriage, or playing jack-straws and cat's cradle with 
Willie and Wattie, for at heart I dearly loved laziness, all — 
all were put an end to I I regarded my uncle as a terrible 
tyrant, and thought if any of my cousins had been the " Hero" 
my mother alluded to, they would not have stood it for a 
single week, I had some notions of setting up for "a hero" 
myself, and running away home. I had even got the map 

66 A HEEO. 

to calculate how far it was from Glasgow to Surrey, when I 
heard Norman's voice calling me, and found that I must 
make up my mind to be a slave — for one day more. 

*• But to-morrow, to-morrow" — I said to myself; and kept 
my counsel safe, even from my cousins. 

They, honest lads, trudged merrily through the muddy 
streets, for it was what malicious strangers call " a regular 
Glasgow day," which sort of day is the most abominable 
specimen of weather I ever met with any where. 

" Never mind it, lad !" laughed Norman. " Mud never 
killed a body yet ; and smoke, Glasgow smoke, is considered 
very good for the lungs. 'Tis the healthiest town in Scot- 
land, father says." 

" Probably," said I, maliciously ; and stumbled on, trying 
hard to feel cross, and not being able to manage it. 

" You'll not be in the same room with us, Phil," observed 
Hector, as we entered a quadrangle, where stood a building 
looking very scholastic and college-like. "Father has the 
third year this session, and we are in the fourth year." 

" What do you mean by such nonsense as third year and 
fourth year 1 Surely I am not going to be set to learn with 
little brats three years old ?" 

" That's a good joke — ^go it again. Sulky !" cried Hector, 
in great glee. But Norman explained to me that the classes 
were arranged in this fashion, according to the number of 
years the boys had learnt Latin*. 

" As Hector said, we are in the fourth year, under Doctor 
Cowe. Isn't it a droll name ? And he is such a funny old 
fellow. But — ^hush ! here he comes.** 

We drew back on the dirty — ^yes, the very dirty stone stair- 
case, which looked as if it had been muddied and dirtied by 
the boys' boots for ten years — and let the master pass by. I 
could draw his picture now. 

He was a tall man, in a rusty black doctor's gown. He 

A HERO. «7 

stooped in the sfaouldei's, and his face must have been decidedly 
ugly, for I remember he had little eyes, and a large, clumsy, 
under-hanging lower jaw, which he had a habit of twitching 
nervously from side to side, until the efiect was not unlike 
that of a cow chewing the cud. He was rather fat, and had 
an awkward, ungainly, cow-ish walk. Or else, which was 
not improbable, his queer name set me off at finding these 
resemblances, as it had the other boys. Altogether, the 
efiect was irresistibly droll. 

When he had passed. Hector — no, I think it was Norman, 
for Norman had an immensity of quiet fun in him — slyly 
pulled me aside to show me a cane that the doctor had stuck 
in his right hand coat pocket underneath his gown, which it 
hitched up most comically. 

" He always carries the cane so ; we call it the Cowe's 
tail. And doesn't it give us some pretty hard switches some- 
times! But for all that, he's an excellent fellow, the old 
doctor. And we must not keep him waiting, or he'll get 

" Here's your door opposite, so go in, and good luck to you !" 
said Hector, as he followed his brother into the class-room ; 
and I was left outside, my good-humor quite restored by 
laughing at the Cowe's tail. I wondered if my uncle kept 
one too ! 

But soon these speculations ceased in the trepidation of 
making my first entry into a boy's school — a crisis formidable 
to any lad — and most especially formidable in such a public 
place as the High School of Glasgow. 

I just poked my head in, following two or three boys who 
then entered, and who stared at me as if I had been a strange 
cat, which indeed I much resembled, prowling about in this 
forlorn way. The class was evidently not begun, so I popped 
out again, and again prowled about the' staircase. I might 
have done so till night-time, without gaining courage for a 

68 A iUb^KO. 

lecond appearance, had not Uncle Macliioy suddenly come 
up the staircase, and seen me. 

Now, if there was one thing in the world my uncle liked 
to see in young folk, it was punctuality. His rugged face 
dilated into a good-natured smile. 

" Hallo, Phil ! here already 1 Capital beginning this, and 
good beginnings make good endings. Come in.*' 

" I — ^never went to school-*and — I never had any body to 
teach me but my mother," whimpered I. 

** Poor lad !" and as my uncle looked at me I knew he was 
thinking of my father that was dead — he now and then did 
look at me thus, with a remorseful kindness quite incompre- 
hensible to me. '' Poor little fellow ! Come in with me." 

He took me by the hand, and led me into his class, setting 
me in a quiet place by myself. Then he gave his gown one 
shake, and his hair another — ^bent his brows, and set his lips 
sternly together — ^altogether putting on an appearance quite 
worthy of a pedagogue. 

I think Uncle Macllroy must have been the best teacher 
of boys imaginable. He never thrashed — ^he rarely scolded 
at least not in the passionate manner that many schoolmasters 
do ; but there was something in his rigid inflexible will that 
did the work both of tongue and cane. It seems to me now 
perfectly marvelous, the way in which he reduced such con- 
flicting elements to discipline and order. He could doubtless 
have ruled a kingdom as he ruled that little sovereignty, his 
class. He governed it thus well, because, like all good rulers, 
he governed that very difficult subject — ^himself His temper, 
truth, conscientiousness, never failed. 

Since even in my boyish imagination one of the chief qual- 
ities of a hero was to know how to rule, I seeing, as a quick 
child would at once see, how well he ruled his scholars, began 
to consider whether my uncle himself was not something of 
my grand object of search — a Hero. So by noon I had 

A H£EO. 69 

determined to put off my running away to England fi)r an 
indefinite time, in order to wait and judge. Especially as 
having very easy tasks this day, merely to stand up and con- 
strue a few lines of Latin in my turn, I got through the class- 
hours more comfortahly than I had expected. 

At mid-day I was set free, and reached home somehow, 
having spent an hour or two rather amusingly than other- 
wise, in losing my way and finding it again. Then I drew 
little Gracie ahout in her chaise, and played hahy-play with 
Willie and Wattie till they quarreled with one another, and 
afterward both took to quarreling with me. 

By evening I was so thoroughly tired of doing nothing, that 
when the two elder boys set to their books, and Jamie, the 
cleverest and busiest little bee imaginable, set to his, I felt not 
so much ill-used as I had expected by being called into the 
study, and taught there for an hour or two. Of course I still 
considered myself rather a victim, and if I did gp willingly 
and pay some slight attention to the teaching, it was with the 
firm conviction that the obliged party was, not myself, but 
Uncle Macllroy. 

(" I'donH exactly think so now," said Captain Philip, closing 
his tale for the night.) 


Thus ttie first day of my experience at the Higli School 
passed off pleasantly enough. But things could not go on so 
smoothly forever. It was out of the bounds of possibility, and 
out of the nature of boys. 

My first trouble came upon me on the third day. Tired 
of going home to spend a lazy afternoon, I had sauntered 
about the quadrangle that formed the playground, in the hope 
of getting some sort of a game with somebody. 

I got a much more unpleasant game than I thought — a 
sort of practical " Hunt the Hare" — in which I myself per- 
formed the part of the unlucky animal. 

It happened thus. I had on, as was the custom of boys 
then to wear, at least in the south, a beaver hat like a man's. 
I well remember the extreme pride with which my mother 
bought it, taking me into a hat-shop and choosing it with 
great care ; sighing the while, for she said it made her feel 
what a man I was growing, and that wearing it I looked 
more than ever like my poor father. She little thought that 
the unlucky hat would prove so fatal a casus hdli, and come 
to such an ill end. 

My cousins had jestingly warned me that the wearing of 
it was dangerous, since the High School boys had a mortal 
objection to any thing but Glengarrys. But it was quite im- 
possible that I could constrain my Saxon liberty to wearing a 
Scotch bonnet, so my beaver stood its ground. Once or twice 
I noticed it eyed with a cruel smile, as it hung on its peg of 
dignity, the only hat in the class ; but that was all. 

A HERO. 71 

However, on this Wednesday, when for the first time I 
joined my comrades in the playground, the hat's misfortunes 

First, there was thrown firom behind a wall a handful of 
mud, which lodged on the brim. Next, somebody shot a 
sharp pebble, which made a dent in the crown. Thirdly, 
some person or persons unknown, quietly stole behind and 
knocked it over my eyes. 

At this, I grew into a furious passion, in the midst of which 
a little lad snatched my hat away altogether, " to keep my 
head cool,'' as he waggishly hinted. The next minute I saw 
it stuck on the handle of a whip, and in this manner passed 
from hand to hand through a crowd of jeering boys. The 
fifth indignity was to batter in the crown, the sixth to turn it 
inside out, the seventh and last was to stick it up on the top 
of a wall and shoot it with pins from a cioss-bow. 

By this time my rage was unutterable, but its impression 
was harmless enough, as a great gaunt lad held my arms 
pinioned behind me. 

"Hollo, what are you doing to the wee fallow?" cried 
Hector's loud voice, and firantically I writhed myself out of 
the big lad's arms into those of my cousin. 

" I will have my hat. They've stolen and spoilt it. I'll 
be revenged. I'll bring you all up before the mayor." 

"We hae nae mares here, but ye may ask at the Cowe," 
answered a lad, which atrocious joke was received with shouts 
of applause, in the which my little burst of indignation was 
completely drowned. Even Hector began to laugh as loud as 
any of them, and in so doing imperceptibly slid from my side. 
When a joke goes against a fellow, it's rather bad for his cause. 

I sought refuge with Norman. " Help me, do help me. 
Get me my hat again — ^my poor hat, that cost my mother so 
much money." 

It was an unhappy allusion. Every body maliciously 

72 A EEEO. 

wanted to know the precise amonnt of caBb my mother paid, 
and how much she had left ? and all that sort of thing. Some 
even attacked my two cousins on the subject and made a few 
contemptuous allusions to *' Auntie." 

Then Hector^s spirit rose up for the honor of the family. 
" I'll tell you what, lads, if you don't let Philip Carew alone, 
and give him his hat again. 111 fight the four biggest of you, 
turn and turn about.'* 

This, I do believe, was exactly what he wished, for Hector 
was the stock pugilist of the school, and fought battles for any 
body or any thing, quite in amateur fashion. Nevertheless, 
I thought it very kind of him to champion me, and loved and 
admired him very much. 

Norman, after a dissuasive word or two, ceased to interfere 
He was either too quiet or too wise to go right against the storm. 
He only staid close by to see that his brother had fair play. 

It was agreed that the combats should be wrestling matches, 
not battles with fists, lest black eyes or bruised noses should 
betray any thing to parents ; and so like a young Antseus, or 
else like his great Trojan namesake, did Hector begin the fray. 
He was a capital wrestler, strong, active, bold ; I never saw 
his like. - Now I became quite certain that I had found my 
" hero !" He laid the first combatant prostrate in the mud, 
was himself laid prostrate by the second, but rose up fresher 
than ever, and returned the compliment. The third lad 
skulked crying from the field, and with the fourth Hector was 
so well matched that the battle at length ceased, neither 
being victor, but both giving up from the very unwarlike fact 
that it was getting near dinner-time. 

For this all-important reason, when Hector had received a 
round or two of applause, the play-ground became gradually 
thinned, the circle which had gathered round the fighters 
slowly broke up, and the grand bone of contention, having 
been kicked about pretty well, at last lay unnoticed iu a cor- 

A HERO. 73 

ner. In this, as in many a more important war, the qriginal 
matter of dispute soon came to be altogether forgotten. Even 
I myself, in my enthusiasm for the fighting, had ceased to 
remember my unlucky hat, aad stood composedly in the driz- 
zling rain, bareheaded, until I began to sneeze. 

" What's to be done with the boy ? he is not so hardy as 
w«*," said Norman kindly. 

" Oh, let him take my bonnet to run home in," answered 
■ny ** hero," throwing it toward me with an indifierent yet 
patronizing air. " Well, Phil, are you not very much obliged 
to me for fighting your battles V* 

I said " yes," though I thought he need not have asked the 
question. And somehow I let the bonnet lie, and tried to 
pick up and set to rights my poor battered hat. 

It was no use, the thing was a perfect scarecrow. 

" Nay, let it be, and put on Hector's, since he offers it. 
You can't go through the streets bareheaded, the folk would 
'augh at you." 

Hector turned suddenly round. " By-the-by, I never 
thought of that. Hey there ! I can not spare my bonnet, 
old fellow." He picked it up again and set it firmly — not on 
my head, but his own. 

" Nay," said Norman, as I began to sneeze worse than 
ever, for the rain had thoroughly soaked my hair, " Phil needs 
it worse than you ; and you being a bigger boy, would get 
through the streets better, even if you were tormented a little. 
They wouldn't dare to do it long. Think again, Hector." 

But Hector, the bold fighter, could not face the humiliation 
of walking home without his hat. He grew angry, and told 
his brother " to practice what he preached." I protested 
against having cither's cap, for I did not like to see Hector 
cross with me, after having defended my cause so bravely. 

" Here, take this, and we'll see what is to be done," cried 
Norman, throwing me his bonnet and running away. 


74 A HERO. 

*' He's only showing off, he'll be back directly," mattered 

But he did not come back. We waited a little while, and 
then, hunger being strong upon us, we started home^ both 
rather silent. Just turning the comer of the street where 
Uncle Macllroy lived, we met Norman. 

He was walking along, the heavy rain pouring on his head, 
and running down his neck in little streams. His cheeks 
were very hot, and his manner hurried, for there was a tribe 
of ragged urchins at his heels, jeering and pointing after him, 
calling him " bareheid," " gowk," and " daft laddie." And 
poor Norman was naturally such a shy, timid boy, painfully 
sensitive to observation. What he must have suffered in 
that hour's walk ! 

Hector and I ran to him, I full of tenderness and contrition, 
Hector muttering something about " thrashing all the little 
vagabonds within an inch of their lives." But that proceed- 
ing was stopped by an unlucky, or lucky conjuncture. 

Close behind us, wearing his most serious look, appeared 
Uncle Macllroy. 

" What's aU this. Tell the truth." 

We obeyed. Hector being the foremost to tell it, and to his 
own disadvantage likewise ; for when his feelings were touched 
he was a generous fellow. 

Uncle Macllroy heard in silence. He did not even take 
exception to the matter of the fighting, which Hector had 
modestly dwelt upon very lightly. All he said was said to 
Norman, in a tone so gentle that we were quite startled. 

" My boy, I am glad to see that you have the best courage 
of all, moral courage^ 

Stooping a little, he put his arm through that of his eldest 
son, who stood by, blushing and agitated as a girl — ^and so 
walked with him up to their own door. 

I don't think I ever saw Norman look so happy or so proud. 


(" Boys/' said Captain Philip Carew, in answer to general 
request,. " do you expect me to tell you circumstantially what 
happened day by day during the time I was at Glasgow ? 
Because, if you do, I can only say it is an impossibility Re- 
member, all this happened twenty odd years ago, and if I had 
not the clearest memory imaginable, you would not have the 
story so respectable as it is. Even now, I have a strong con- 
viction that I am painting things not exactly as I saw them 
then — ^for boys have little observation — ^but as I afterward by 
comparison found out they were, or must have been. Are 
you content to receive matters so, or shall I stop ?'' 

"No— no — no-—" was the outcry, though there came a 
very faint deprecatory ** yes" from some person or persons un- 

" The Noes have it, as they say in the House of Commons," 
cried Uncle Philip. " So here begins.") 

Our days at Uncle Macllroy's well-ordered house passed so 
exactly alike, that the history of one will do for all. 

We rose at seven — ^then lessons, prayers, breakfast, classes, 
dinner, play (not much, alas !), tea, lessons, bed. After bed- 
time came the hour of chatter and forbidden fun, tempered 
with serious discourse between the brothers, with whom it 
was a very anxious time. 

Now, though of course I had never been in the " fourth 
year," from constant hearing about it, I knew by heart every 
member of "our class," his capabilities, and his chance of 

First there came Andrew Caird, the undoubted Dux— 

79 A HEEO. 

nobody ever dreamed of contesting that point. Next to him 
were Norman and Hector Macllroy, who usually " ran neck 
and neck/* as sportsmen say ; the elder's diligence still keep- 
ing a trifle ahead, in spite of the younger's brighter parts. 
But, latterly, the lazy Hector had absolutely sufiered his next 
class-mate, John Grordon, to get his place sometimes, whence 
came sore heart-burnings and fears. 

These four were all ministers' sons. I think I said before 
that Uncle Macllroy had been brought up to the ministry, 
though for some years he had had no church. The four 
•* ministers' boys" were the pride of the whole " year." They 
always kept together at the head of their class, and held 
slightly aloof from the lower lads, whose names I don't re- 
member, as they went by the general term of "the other 
fellows." Nobody ever thought of them in connection with 
prizes. All the excitement, all the doubt, contest, and dread, 
lay with the ministers' boys. 

Now I, who had never known any thing of life at a public 
school, still less at a public school in Scotland, was at first 
driven " clean wud," as my northern cousins would observe, 
by the constant talk about " our examinations," " our prize- 
givings," &c. &c. 

" Can't you make a little less fuss about it, and let a poor 
fellow go to sleep," cried I one night from my shake-down on 
the floor. " What does it matter who gets the prize ?" 

"What does it matter?" echoed Hector indignantly. 
" When all Glasgow comes to look at us, or may come if they 
like — when we have to walk up in face of every body, and 
the Lord Provost himself gives us the prize !" 

I own, the latter fact struck my youthful imagination. I 
remembered having once seen the Lord Mayor, and being 
greatly awed thereby. The idea of receiving a book from the 
hands of a live Lord Provost, only a degree lower than a 
Lord Mayor, seemed something very grand indeed. 

A HEEO. 77 

So I only said " O !" — a great round O of enormous venera- 
tion, and sat up in bed leaning on my elbows, and listening 
with open mouth to what Hector and Norman were saying. 

The former was in what Norman called *' a way/' " a state 
of mind/' which may be translated to mean a state of temper. 

" I know it's no use/' he was saying ; '* I know I'll not get 
it. There's that confounded fool — " 

Here Norman gave a low whistle — ^he didn't quite like bad 

"I say it again, that confounded fool, Johnnie Gordon, 
whom I thought I could beat by just lifting my little finger, 
has kept my place as often as I have kept it myself, or 
oilener. He is sure to get the prize. And if he does, I'll 
thrash him within an inch of his life." 

Norman whistled again. I began to think that, hero as 
my younger cousin was, he had rather queer notions of might 
and right. Nevertheless, I earnestly wished he might get the 
prize, or if not, that Johnnie Gordon might get the thrashing. 
I felt convinced that both were equally deserved — as indeed, 
I still think they were. 

" Now, Hector," Norman answered, " if you'd only listen to 
reason, and take things coolly. You did so a week ago. You 
said you did not care a straw about getting any prize at all." 

*' He did say that, for I heard him," added I, at rather an 
unpropitious moment. Hector made an angry lunge out of 
bed. (He was rather fond of pommeling even me sometimes, 
but it was quite in a friendly way, and I always took it 
quietly — I was so fond of him). The lunge missed me, so all 
I got was a polite ** Hold your tongue ! Bother !" 

"Don't practice beforehand on poor Phil, in mistake for 
Johnnie Gordon," said Norman, laughing — he knew good- 
humor was ten times better than scolding ; " If you want to 
keep your hand in, I'm bigger. Hollo ! — let's have a round !" 

He leaped up in bed, tucked up his white shirt sleeves, luid 

78 JL HERO. 

his bftie amis— also yeiy white, for I rememher we used to 
tease him mercilessly about their lady-like color — ^shone in the 
moonlight Altogether he made such a comical show of war- 
fare—poor Norman, who never could fight — that Hector forgot 
all his ill-humor, and hurst out laughing, until Uncle Macllroy 
coming up stairs, rapped wamingly at the door. 

So we all slunk into bed again, and were doomed to whis- 
pers — ^under cover of which, I managed to learn the real facts 
about the prizes, and about Hector's wrath. 

In the High School of Glasgow at that time, and even now 
for all I know, prizes were given in this fashion : — the boys 
took places in their class ; each day it was set down in writing 
where they stood, first, second, third, and so on. At the 
year's end these numbers were counted, and the lowest 
number, which consequently ranked highest in the class, re- 
ceived the prize. In my cousins' class there were three 
prizes, the first of which would doubtless fall to Andrew Caird 
or Norman — the second was pending between Hector and 
Johnnie Grordon. All the winter and spring these two had 
run nearly equal — in their Latin at least, which was the 
thing chief thought o^— but afler the holidays, Hector's soul 
had been left behind with the boats and the Clyde, and he 
lost his place continually. Doubtless the score would turn out 
very much against him, poor fellow ! 

"It's a great shame," cried I warmly, after which loud 
exclamation I took the useless precaution of smothering my 
mouth in blankets lest they should hear in the next room. 

" It is a shame, when he could beat Gordon and me too, if 
he tried. If Hector were not such a lazy fellow I should be 
shaking in my shoes," said the good-natured elder brother. 
'* But after all it is not sure for a few more days. Hold up 
to the end, lad I Never say die !" 

And he began counting the other chances Hector had, 
supposing the Latin prize failed. Alas ! all the other chance^ 

A HERO. 79 

were likely enough to fail too. In Greek, figures, mathemat- 
ics, dramdng, there was always some unlucky impediment 
Perhaps the real impediment was what Uncle Macllroy, 
teaching his boys at night, often said, and what I then con- 
sidered an atrocious libel and a cruel instance of paternal in- 
justice — that Hector was one of the laziest fellows the sun 
ever shone upon ! 

" What's to be done ?" cried the poor lad, waking up tahis 
disastrous situation. ** Oh, what will father say if I get n^ 
prize at all !" 

Here was an awful prospect ! — the more so as '* Father' 
had of late been so busy teaching me in the evening, that h« 
had not looked after his own boys quite so carefully as he 
ordinarily did. Nevertheless, from little things which he said 
sometimes, we knew how much he counted on the success of 
the cleverest of his sons, in whom, though he tried to hide it, 
he evidently took great pride. 

I too, began to speculate on what Uncle Macllroy would 
say, did Hector win no prize this year ; and as the brothers 
began to talk in a lower voice, and very earnestly, I was left 
to my own meditations. These I suppose, gradually melted 
into drowsiness, and drowsiness into dreams ; for I remember 
fancying that the prizes were to be given away that night, in 
our bedroom — that the Lord Provost, sitting in state on the 
chest of drawers, was dehvering numberless rewards to every 
one but Hector, whom he sentenced to be beheaded. That 
thereupon my uncle came in, dressed like the executioner of 
Charles I., carrying instead of a hatchet, the dogs-eared Virgil, 
with which he solemnly cut oBl Hector's head, the decapitated 
body falHng across the bottom of my bed. 

At which I screamed myself awake, and found it was only 
Gsacie's immense black cat, who had leaped -on my feet, and 
was purring himself to repose as contentedly as possible. 

Hector, however, was still alive, if I might judge by his 

80 A HERO. 

Tociferous snoring ; in the whicli I doubtless very soon joined. 
But before then, I recollect seeing Norman lie, his wide open 
eyes and anxious face distinctly visible in the moonlight. He 
might have been thinking of his prize ; I fancied so then, but 
now I don't believe he was. Poor Norman ! I did not always 
do him justice^ in those days. 


Weeks and days, nephews, seemed a great deal longer to 
Philip Carew then, than to Uncle Philip now. The time at 
last arrived when the puhlic examination was only a fortnight 
distant, and the boys were daily expecting to be informed how 
the prizes stood. The examination, I should say, was mere- 
ly complimentary, to show off the boys' acquirements, and 
had no reference to reward of merit. 

Of an evening we were always a very studious set, but during 
the last few days of suspense we worked like Trojans ! I could 
picture us now, all gathered round the table with our books 
and exercises before us, Hector conning his, fast, loudly, im- 
patiently — ^his cheeks flushed with excitement ; Norman sit- 
ting very quiet, trying to knock every word of the lesson into 
his honest head, poking his fingers in and out among his stiff 
hair — ^then decidedly and obnoxiously red, but which, as Gracie 
lovingly foretold, would grow into the prettiest color imagina- 
ble. And Gracie was right. 

James too, the busiest little laddie of ten years old, what an 
indefatigable student he was ! With all his terror of four- 
footed beasts, how bravely he could decline bos, bovis / and 
what wonderful long sums he got through, perfect mountains 
of multiplication ! Only, he never could learn any thing with- 
out digging his elbows on the table, and squeezing his fists 
into his chin, and knitting his pretty brows like an old philos- 
opher. Poor little Jamie ! I wonder if he does the same 
to this day in his learned college at Calcutta ! 

My aunt always presided at the lesson-learning, the head 

62 A EEEO. 

of the household being then safely deposited in his study, to 
somebody* s great relief, I confess ! Now and then, however, 
we knew by my aunt's looking up and smiling, that he had 
re-appeared at the parlor door, to carry off some unfortunate 
wight for a lesson ; and again silence fell on every body, except 
lor the click of Mrs. MacIlroy*s scissors as she mended those 
eternal pairs of stockings, little and big — grey and white — 
■ocks and long hose. Poor woman I I dare say she almost 
wished, after the formula of the Emperor Nero, that her 
numerous household had but one foot; the only hope for a 
termination of her labors. 

Nobody was allowed to talk during the hour of lessons. 
This was a positive law, which like many another, was by 
some loophole or other slipped through. Gracie did it chiefly 
Nobody could see her lying on her little sofa in the comer, 
telling fairy-tales to Willie and Wattie, without listening with 
one ear at least. Most interesting tales these were, always 
beginning " once upon a time," and ending with " they lived 
very happy all their lives." What wonderful people " they'' 
must have been ! 

But Willie and Wattie was not always satisfied even with 
them. Continually the wee fellows, Willie especially, would 
come creeping to the table, pulling Norman's sleeve with the 
interminable " Please, tell me a 'tory !" 

And continually Norman would lay his book down, rub his 
fingers over his forehead, to send the cobwebs away, and 
patiently launch into some astonishing adventure, told in an 
under-tone, with the gravest face imaginable. He certainly 
was the very perfection of an elder brother, as regarded the 
babies of the family. 

In fact, whether a Hero or not, in all cases of difiSculty he 
invariably turned out the best elder brother in the world. 

I remember one Saturday night — ^it must have been Sat^ 
urday, our weekly holiday — ^his taking me aside and warning 

A HEEO. 83 

me to be especially "jolly," and say no word about the all 
engrossing subject — ^the prizes — ^if I could help it. From this 
I guessed that Norman had good reason for thinking that to- 
day was the critical day with the masters, and that Monday 
would decide every thing. 

I felt very uncomfortable ; for little as I went among the 
High School lads, I had heard enough to know what the 
Fourth Year generally thought of Hector's chance ; and that 
it was but the turning of a feather between my elder cousin 
and the steady-going patient, wooden-headed dolt, Johnnie 
Gordon. Very hard, that ! 

However, I made myself "jolly," as Norman desired, and 
helped him to make the rest so. Hector did not heed us ; he 
was, or seemed to be, in very high spirits ; he had been third 
in the class for five days now, and thought that Johnnie Gor- 
don's star was paling. He was so easily swayed either to 
hope or fear, poor fellow ! 

After tea, Norman put on his comical mood — which, when 
he chose, was very comical indeed. He took little Willie on 
his knee, and told him the queerest 'torieSf until we all gath- 
ered round in curiosity. As for the child, his pretty face 
lengthened with amazement, and his eyes were almost start- 
ing out of his head. 

" Not quite so wild as that, my boy, you'll frighten the 
little ones," said the mother, with a gentle— a very gentle 
reproach, for she had been watching Norman all night, and 
doubtless guessed his motive, though she said nothing. " Come, 
Willie and Wattie, before you go to bed, shall mamma tell you 

Mamma's ^tories were so rare, that at once there was a 
delighted assent, and all crowded round. I could see that little 
fireside group now ; my aunt in her arm-chair, with Wattie 
on her knee, Gracie lying on the sofa opposite, so smiling and 
content, with Norman sitting at her feet, and Willie too, who 

84 A HEEO. 

never would leave his elder brother on any account. In the 
intermediate space sprawled Hector, James, and I, diiriding 
the hearth-rug with the big black cat, which Norman's wag- 
gery had christened Tea-kettle, on account of his color, his 
fondness for sitting dose by— nay all but on the fire, and his 
habit of hissing indignantly at every opportunity. 

" Now," began my aunt, " If any body knows what I am 
going to tell, they are not to say any thing until it is over." 

It was a mysterious commencement, and I paid attention. 
Every word almost of the story I remember to this day. 

" Once upon a time — ^now, listen, Willie and Wattie, and, 
Jamie, do not be pulling poor Tea-kettle's tail — ^Once upon a 
time, there were a papa and mamma living together at a manse 
far up in the Highlands. Perhaps Philip does not know what 
a manse is ?" 

Ay, but I did ; having grown familiar with Scottish words. 
I at once stated that it was the clergyman's house. 

"The minister's," said Aunt Macllroy, correcting me; 
'* and this papa was a minister. He had an immense parish, 
all among the mountains ; indeed, he had to ride sixty miles 
to get from one end to the other. In the summer time he was 
often absent for whole days together, preaching among the hills, 
and leaving his wife at the little manse. It was a very small 
place. They lived there with only one servant to help the 
mistress in the house, and look after the two little boys." 

"Two 'ittle boys," repeated Willie with grave interest. 
" Mamma, were dey as big as Wattie and me t" 

" I think so." 

Den, dey were not 'ittle boys," sturdily persvted Willie, 
whose reasoning and intellectual powers far surpassed his 
powers of language. 

" Very well, they were big boys, then," said Norman, 
laughing ; " only do not interrupt mamma." 

Aunt Macllroy tried to go on, but very soon Willie, after a 

A EEEO. 85 

meditative silence, broke in again. " Flease, tell me one ting, 
just one ting." 

" Well, out with it !" 

" Did de two 'ittle boys wear pinafores ?" 

Every body laughed, as indeed we often did at Willie ; he 
required such very circumstantial descriptions of every thing. 

" Yes, I can answer for it ; they did wear pinafores, which 
they tore just as often as Willie and Wattie do theirs, and 
often made mamma very sorry." Here Willie, quenched and 
humiliated, poked his fingers thoughtfully in his rosy mouth, 
and let the tale go on. 

" These two brothers were near of an age, and as there 
were no more, except a tiny baby, they were left to play to- 
gether a good deal, with no one looking after them except the 
servant-lassie who was their nurse. 

" Dat was Issy, their Issy," observed Willie, with the air 
of a person asserting a great fact ; arguing, I suppose, that all 
nurses must bear the same name as his own. 

"We'll call her Issy," answered the mamma, smiling. 
" They were very good little boys, especially the elder, and 
did not give Issy or mamma any thing like such trouble as 
some other little boys I knew. So they were itllowed to run 
about the manse-garden and farm-yard ; for the minister had 
a sort of farm, that is, he kept a horse and two cows, and had 
a few sheep feeding on the hill-side. 

" There were two places about the yard wh»e the children 
were forbidden to go ; one was to the byre while the cow& 
were in it, and the other was to a stone trough that lay just 
outside the gate in the manse ; the minister had placed it 
there for the cattle to drink out of. It was a long and deep 

" How long, and hbw deep ?" inquired the pertinacious 
Willie, whose great blue eyes were dilating wider and wider. 

" About the length of the hearth-rug, and as high as that," 

60 A BEEO. 

Bald my aunt, measaiing with her hand about two feet Iroin 
the ground. " In summer time, when the little mountain 
streams were dried up, it was always carefully kept^ full, by 
the minister's desire, that the poor thirsty cattle and sheep 
which happened to -pass by might always find something to 
drink at his door/' 

" How kind ! Was he not a very good man, these boys' 
father 1" asked James. 

I could see my aunt's eyes silently shining ; but she only 
nodded her head in reply. 

'* One summer-day the little boys were sent out into the gar- 
den, to play about there, while Issy was busy washing and 
drying the clothes, going to look at the children from time to 
time to see that they got into no mischief For though, as I 
said before, they were good boys, still they were very young. 
Country children brought up as they were have on the whole 
more sense than town children, otherwise these would not 
have been trusted alone at all. But though the younger was 
daring and heedless, the elder was a very wise little fellow for 
his age. 

" On this especial day they were more left to themselves 
than they had ever been before, for the minister was out on the 
hills, and the mother was kept indoors, looking after her poor 
little baby that was ill. 

" She sat nursing it for a long time, an hour or two after 
she had sent away the boys. It kept crying incessantly, so 
that she could hear nothing, think of nothing but that. At 
last it grew quieter, and she walked about the room singing it 
to sleep. The window was open, for the day was very warm ; 
every thing around was quite still, as the Highland mount- 
ains always are in summer. But as she stood laying her 
baby in bed, she heard a faint sound somewhere outside the 

At first she thought it was only the hens calling their 


cliickens far do'wn the road ; it was very unlikely to be the 
voices of people talking, for the manse was in such a sol- 
itary place that sometimes not more than one person passed 
in a day. And just then the poor baby waking, the mother 
turned and sang it to sleep again. When she ceased she 
stiil heard the same faint noise. 

" What sort of a noise 1" James wished to know. 

" Like somebody who was trying to call out and could 
not, being half smothered, and the cry sounded like a little 

Here Aunt Macllroy stopped, looked pale, as if the bare 
idea of this critical moment were too much for her motherly 

" The — the minister's wife ran to the window. It looked 
on the long garden, at the bottom of which ran the road. 

" There she saw the great deep trough, which had been that 
morning filled, and above it something which looked like a 
little curly he»i 

" Nobody can teil how the terrified mother m^aged to get 
down stairs. When she came to the trough-side, there were 
her own poor boys — not one, but both ! The younger had 
fallen in with his face foremost, nearly touching the water ; the 
elder, not strong enough to pull his brother out, had climbed 
up and stretched over the side. Baby as he was, he had the 
sense to keep his little brother's head above water, holding it 
by its curls, while he cried out for "mamma'* and "Issy." 
He must have remained thus for more than half-an-hour. 
Both were nearly exhausted ; another minute — and the little 
hands would have given way and the little head have sunk 
down, and — O my dear children I" 

We all looked in amazement at my aunt, who had leaned 
back in her chair, much agitated. The children clustered 
round her anxiously, but she soon put them aside with her 
quiet smile, and was herself again. 

88 A HEAO. 

" But the little boys," said Hector, deeply interested. " They 
were saved ? They grew up to be men ? What a wonder- 
fully brave fellow the elder must have been !** 

" And BO sensible too/' added James. 

"Surely/' Hector continued energetically, "the younger 
would never forget what he owed to his brother, even when 
they were quite babies." 

" I hope," the mother answered, " I earnestly hope he never 
may." And smiling, she looked from one to the other of her 
two elder boys. 

Norman sat uneasily twisting Willie's pinafore. All the 
while he had not spoken a word ; but when he met his 
mother's eye he blushed crimson. 

Gracie half rose ; she was the quickest of us all to divine 
the mystery. " Mamma, it's a true story you have been telling 
us ! And I guess who were the two little boys." 

Sobbing, she flung her arms round Norman's neck and 
kissed him. 

Then a light broke upon us all, but Hector was the most 
confounded. He turned red and pale, and looked more near 
crying than I had ever seen him. 

" Mamma — and I never knew this !" 

" Your father desired it should not be told. But it is indeed 
true. Your brother Norman saved your life." 

" Norman saved my life," repeated Hector, still bewildered. 
But Norman came up and put his hands on his brother's 
shoulders with a cheerful laugh, " Wake up, old fellow, you 
see we're both alive now." 

Then Hector, quite overcome, did a little bit of sentiment, 
and the two big brothers kissed one another as if they had 
been baby playfellows. 

My aunt was a wise woman. After her story nobody even 
so much as thought of prizes. 

I went to bed that night looking with rather different eyes 

A HEEO. 89 

at my cousin Nonnan Though I still believed it quite im- 
possible that such a mild easy-going fellow could be in any 
way the hero I sought, yet I began to think that during his 
boyish hfe-time Norman Macllroy had done one or two things 
that even a hero need not be ashamed of. 
What say you, nephews? 


On that Monday— the very day of all othera that I intend- 
ed to stay about the school after my uncle's class was over — 
which I did not usually do, the High School lads teased me 
so— on that Monday I had to come home at once, for poor 
little Gracie was ill, and my aunt wanted me to deliver some 
messages. Of course, I was always glad to do any thing for 
my kind, good aunt, and Httle Gracie. 

' I came direct from school, hearing no word of the prizes. 
Indeed, I forgot all about them till dinner time. 

Then, as I sat at the window, trying to keep the little ones 
quiet, I saw my two elder cousins coming down the street. 
One look at Hector was enough to explain the truth — ^that 
he had failed, and Johnnie Gordon had won. 

Poor Hector ; the proud, handsome, merry lad ! How I 
hated that Johnnie Gordon ! 

I did not like to run and meet the boys, lest it might wound 
Hector's feelings ; so I listened till the hall door opened, and 
very soon Norman came in alone. His brother had gone 
away up-stairs. 

" Well ]" said I in a whisper, for Gracie lay on the sofa 

''Well!" said he; and nothing more. He looked almost 
as unhappy as^ector himself 

" How many has he got ? Any or none ?" 

" One — second for writing. But that's nothing !" 

" And you V 

"Oh, Phil, be quiet! Just three!* His vexed voice, 

A HERO. 9t 

though he spoke of three prized, might have seemed like 
afiectation or hypocrisy ; hut even in my most unjust moods 
I never could find the like of either in Norman Macllroy. 

We said no more, for Gracie was just waking, and ill as 
she was, we knew it would grieve her to know how unhappy 
her hrothers were. Very soon I went up-stairs to poor 

Nephews, I have long heen a grown man, and seen much 
of vexation and disappointment in the world, hut I own that 
the recollection of Hector's misery rests upon me still. It 
was perfect despair. 

" Hollo I" shouted he, when I opened the door. " Keep off, 
will you ? Who wants you ] If you come in 1*11 send this 
hook at your head." 

I did come in, for I was so sorry for him ; and he did send 
the hook at my head, only luckily I ducked down and it 
missed me. By that time Hector's passion was cooled ,* he 
lay sullenly on one hed, while I sat on the other, looking at 

"Hector," said I, "if I were you, I wouldn't care." 

" I do not care ! — ^who says I do? — I've thrashed four of 
the class, and kicked Johnnie Gordon half way down stairs, 
and now I'm satisfied. Doctor Cowe and his prize may go 
to the devil if he likes." 

This certainly was language not quite hecoming a minister's 
son, or indeed any hody's son. I was quite astounded. For, 
though I know the hoys in puhlic schools generally get a 
hahit of using ill language, and are even so deluded as think 
it fine 'and manly, it was hot so with my cousins. Uncle 
Macllroy had hrought up each of his sons to he, like himself, 
a Christian and a gentleman. 

" Dear Hector," said I meekly, for all the girlishness I had 
ahout me from heing taught by women, came hack when I 
saw him in such trouble. " Please, don't talk about the 

92 A H£EO. 

devil. It isn't right, &nd it won't get you back your prizes. 
Never mind, try again !" 

" I'll not try again. I'll never try any more. I'll drown 
myself— or go to sea — or — " 

" Come and have dinner," said little Willie at the door. ' 

This apropos conclusion of his sentence would at any other 
time have made Hector laugh his ill-humor away, but it was 
too deeply seated now. 

"I'll have no dinner. Yes," — ^he added with a sudden 
thought — " I'll go down, just to show them how, little I care." 

It happened fortunately for Hector that his father being 
out, and his mother busy over Gracie, the dinner that day 
was a very desultory aiSair. Nobody tod£ much notice of 

He made a great show of eating heartily — ^being always a 
big, stout, hungry boy ; but, looking at him, I could fancy he 
swallowed down more tears than mouthfuls. He seemed in 
a state of perpetual choke, poor lad ! All the rest were veiy 
kind to him, and bore his sharp speeches without a reply ; 
for, though the young Macllroys often squabbled a httle, as 
all families of boys must, there was always a tender combina- 
tion over any one of the number that was either sick or in 
trouble. I have no doubt that if Hector that day had abused 
us all round we should have taken it quite patiently — so sorry 
were we for him. 

But he did nothing of the kind. He ate his dinner, or pre- 
tended to do so, and went up again to his own room as before, 
save that this time he locked the door. Which proceeding 
made me very unhappy, for I thought him such a desperate, 
daring boy, capable of any thing. All the romantic stories 
I had ever read, of incarcerated or wronged heroes secretly 
putting an end to themselves, came horribly into my mind as 
I sat by that bolted door. Every now and then I called to 
Hector; he made no answer, though I heard him moving 

A H£EO. 93 

about. At last, as the afternoon darkened he seemed to grow 
quieter. My terror only increased the more. Every minute 
I expected to hear the click of a pistol, or the fall of a heavy 
hanged body ! — A very brilliant imagination of mine, consid- 
ering there were no sort of fire-arms in the house ; and cer- 
tainly Hector, whose hands were not adroit at any thing but 
fighting, would never find out the correct way to hang him- 
self. My knowledge of his want of manual dexterity also 
put to flight another fear — that he had torn the sheets into 
strips, made a rope-ladder, afler the fashion of De Latude and 
other prisoners, escaped out of the window — a very useless 
trouble, when he could so easily have gone out by the front 
door — and so ran off to sea, never to be heard of more ! 

But it would be idle to count up my fantastic and roman- 
tic speculations during the two hours that I kept guard at 
intervals over Hector's bedroom. I had nobody to speak to, 
Norman having disappeared mysteriously after dinner. I 
thought it very unkind of him so to go and leave his brother 
in such a state, and my love and pity for Hector rose tenfold. 

After a while the poor lad seemed comforted, for I did not 
hear him dashing things about, but still I could get no an- 
swer, not even when it grew dark and I begged him to come 
to the parlor fire. At last, when a quarter of an hour's silence 
had rather frightened me, I bethought me of sending in a 
potent consoler. 

I waylaid Tea-kettle on the stairs and made him scratch 
with his fore paws at the door, his accustomed token that he 
wished to be let into the boys* room. 

The door was half opened. Hector was certainly growing 
mollified — toward Tea-kettle at least. But little hope there 
was for me, who only had the door shut in my face with a 
cross " Get along !'* 

I certainly won " more kicks than halfpence" from my 
Hero ; but then I was rather a devoted little fellow, and 

94 A H£EO. 

bad always that peculiarity, more suited to a woman than a 
man, of loving those I did love entirely for themselves, without 
reference to the way they treated me. Likewise it shows 
what a generous, frank-hearted lad Hector must have been, 
and how many good qualities be must have had, since he 
made me love him so well, though he was such a tyrant. 

It was useless meddling with him any more till Norman 
came in — Norman who could coax any body to anything. I 
bethought myself of the rhyme my mother used to say to me 
in my sulky moods, a rhyme into which she put a mighty 
deal of moral meaning. 

" LitUe PhUippe 

HaA lost his sheep (viz. his temper) 
And doesnH know where to find him ; 

Leave him alone 

And he'll come home, 
Dragging his tail behind him." 

I never exactly comprehended the force of the last line, nor 
do I now, but doubtless it had a significance, so I determined 
to follow out the axiom and leave Hector alone. 
, Only once, unable to keep away, I crept up the dark stair- 
case and listened at the door. There was a hollow, smothered 
sound inside — ^regular— coming at intervals like groaning. 
Had he really killed himself? I was on the point of run- 
ning to alarm the household, when I remembered Tea-kettle 
— the wise sensible cat, that was so fond of Hector. And I 
fancied that in the midst of the groaning I heard loud purrs. 
O lucky Tea-kettle ! There could not be any thing very 

Nevertheless, it was an infinite relief when, tumbling 
down stairs, I felt somebody else tumble up against me, and 
found it was Norman. 

" HoUo— who's that ]" 

*' Only me. — Oh Norman, come up here and list^i ! — 
What's wrong with Hector V* 

A HEBO. 95 

Noiman leaped up three staixs at a time, tried the handle, 
and then put his ear to the door. 

What a relief it was to hear him burst out in one of his 
merry laughs ! ** Bravo ! you're a pretty goose, Phil. He's 
only snoring. Here — Hector lad ! wake up. Open the door. 
I've got some news for you." 

That loud cheery voice would have wakened the sulkiest 
sleeper. We heard Hector roll out of bed and unlock the door. 

" Well, I hope you have had sleep enough ; here have I 
been all the way to Doctor Cowe*s and back." 

Hector threw himself down again, and told Norman to hold 
his tongue. 

" I will not, for I have a notion in my head. I've been to 
the old Doctor about the Greek verb." 

This was decided Greek to me, and I durst not give any 
sign of my presence by inquiry ; but 1 afterward found out 
what Norman meant. There were, beside the prizes, a few 
medals given at the High School, and one of these was for 
the best writing out of a Greek verb. This was considered 
one of the chief competitions in the class, and Noiman, who 
was pretty well on in Greek, had done his, but Hector had 
been too lazy to try. 

<*Let me alone," muttered he, "what do Greek verbs 
matter to me ?" 

** A little, for I've a plan, as I said. Hold up, lad, and 
listen. Do you think I'd have walked all the way to Patrick 
and back for nothing 1 No, though the old Cowe did give 
me a drink of milk and a big apple. Here it is !" 

But Hector, with a return of his old ill-humor, sent the 
oiSered apple spinning across the room. 

" Well — ^if you will not listen," said his brother, somewhat 

" I will listen to you, only do not teaze me about old Cowe 
and the ' prizes.' I hate and despise them all." 

96 A HE&O. 

*' Would you despise a medal if you got it %" said Nonnan, 
smiling. You might ; there's plenty of time. The Greek 
verb can not be decided till just before the prize-giving, as the 
Principal wishes to judge it himself, and he is away from 
home. Though my verb is done, Charles Henderson's is not, 
nor John Menteith's. The old Co we himself says that if you 
were to try hard and work steadily, you might get the 

" Does he ?" cried Hector, leaping up in bed, and nearly 
extinguishing poor Tea-kettle, who began hissing at a great 

" Ay, and I think he would be glad too. He knows what 
you can do; — and he would be greatly hurt that father's 
cleverest boy should gain nothing." 

" But I will— I'll get that medal or I'll die for it," shouted 
the impressible Hector. " I'll brush up all my Greek, I'll 
work early and late." 

" And 1*11 help you — that is in the writing, because perhaps 
you do not write Greek quite as well as I do, and the verb 
must look very neat, mind. But you'll soon manage it. 
We'll get up at six instead of seven, and practice that abom- 
inableaZ pfia, beta, till you'll write Greek as well as you, 
write your copy books. I think you have a very good chance 
of the medal. What says Philip 1" 

I could hardly speak, I was so glad ! 

" Hey, little Phil, are you there ?" said Hector, patting me 
on the back. "Come, hunt for my other shoe, will you 
there's a good lad ; I'm going to get up to tea." 

He did get up, and was soon his old merry self-— kinder 
than usual to us all, especially to Norman. Gracie grew 
better toward night, which added to the cheerfulness, so 'that 
after all our woes we had quite a merry evening, and Nor- 
man told such lots of quaint fairy tales and hobgoblin stories, 
that little Willie's curls almost stood on end. But when the 

A HERO. 97 

little ones were fairly gone to bed, out came pen and ink, and 
the two lads were writing Greek verbs until the very last 
minute hefore their father came home. 

All that week and part of the next we had nothing but 
Greek verbs. Of course all they did was mere practicing ; 
for the verb itself had to be written at school, on magnificent 
white parchment. But every bit of it was copied out a dozen 
times beforehand, by the indefatigable Hector, under his 
brother's instruction. Our bedroom resembled the cave of 
VirgiUs Sibyl, being strewed with innumerable leaves of 
waste paper, scraps of tenses and moods ; and I'm sure I 
went to sleep every night to the sound of 



(" Lack-a-day !" cried Uncle Philip, laughing — " if I haven't 
quite forgot my dual number.") 




Hector's verb was done in mifficient time ; and, as his 
brother positively informed me — and Norman never exagger- 
ated any thing—" it looked stunning." 

We were all very glad, for the poor lad had worked harder 
and more steadily than Hector had ever been known to work 
before ; and counting on his deservings, we began hopefully 
to anticipate the medal. As for the other competitors, Charles 
Henderson, and John Menteith, Norman declared there was 
nothing to be feared from them, their verbs were so much in* 
ferior to Hector's. 

It was very odd, but — probably from his saying so little 
about it — we had all of us quite forgotten Norman's own verb 
-—completed some time since, and put away. 

The examination day arrived. Though nothing of im- 
portance depended on it, still it was a day of great expectation 
and delight to the High School boys. 

'* You are allowed to come to our Year, and mamma, and 
Gracie too," said Hector to me. ** Doctor Cowe is glad to 
see every body. He hopes they will come early, because the 
Ovid begins at ten, and he wishes father to question us. Any 
body may put to us any questions they like." 

'* Even I, Hector," cried Gracie, mischievously, holding up 
her merry face ; she was quite well again now — at least, well 
for her. 

" Even you, little goosie ! Supposing you choose to do such 
a very foolish thing, and exhibit your ignorance." 

'' Thank you," she laughed, putting her arms round his 

A HEED. 99 

neck as he carried her down stairs to her little chaise ; — rough 
hoy as he was, Hector never had a hard word for Gracie. 
Indeed none of us had, she was such a gentle little darling. 

Hector and Norman started first, hut the rest soon followed 
in a body ; my uncle and aunt, James, little Willie, Gracie 
and I. 

It was a very formidable thing, opening that door of the 
Fourth Year; almost as formidable as the entrance into 
Uncle Macllroy's class-room. For little boys, and girls too, 
persist in the notion that every body is looking at them, when 
in fact every body usually happens to have something very 
much better to do. If each shy person, boy or young man, 
could once believe of how very small importance he is to so* 
ciety in general, and how rarely any body sees whether he is 
in the room or out of it — what he wears, or does not wear — 
what he does, or does not do— and that, provided he does not 
do any thing very extraordinary — such as standing on his 
head, for instance, the chances are that nobody is taking the 
least notice of him ; — if only he could be made to understand 
this, we should have much less foolish bashfulness in the world. 

(" There's a lecture for you, boys," observed Uncle Philip. 
His nephews gave him such a hearty round of laughter and 
applause, that nobody could for a moment accuse them of 

I have no doubt I blushed as deeply as if the whole three- 
score pair of boys* eyes were concentrated on me alone« when 
probably every body looked at my aunt and Gracie, and no- 
body at me. And I remember feeling quite nervous as to 
whether I ought or ought not to smile in answer to the ap- 
plause, or "roughing,*' as my cousins called it, which greeted 
our entrance, quite forgetting that this tremendous racket of 
boys' feet on the boards was meant in compliment to the 
favorite among all the High School masters, my uncle Mac 

100 A H£AO. 


"They always 'rough* father very much," whispered 
Gracie to me. "And he looks so pleased! — ^Ah, mamma 
sees our hoys. Look, Philip, there they are." 

Among the long line of boys* faces, I could not at first find 
out the two familiar ones. At last I saw them. Norman 
looked gravely quiet. Hector all gayety and happiness. What 
a handsome, bright, clever face it was I 

" There are the rest of the class. I was sure we would 
know them,** said Gracie. " That must be Andrew Caird 
at the top. What a little fellow he is to be so clever. How 
pale and delicate he looks ! I wonder will he live to be a 

(Gracie had a curious habit of speculating as to whether 
children she knew would live to be men and women. But 
she had so many strange ways, and looks, and thoughts.) 

"And there's that hateful Johnnie Gordon,*' added I. 
"Look, Hector is talking and laughing with him. How 
generous !'* 

Gracie assented, with afiectionate eyes. Nevertheless, she 
gave me a sign to be quiet ; — for Doctor Cowe was just say-, 
ing, in a pompous nasal tone, which nearly made me laugh, 

" The Reverend William Macllroy will commence with 

But the inclination to laughter ceased the moment my uncle 
began. He uttered a few solemn, simple words of extempore 
prayer, Scottish fashion, suited for the occasion, and such as 
boys could understand. He was evidently in earnest, a father 
looking at his own and other fathers* sons, all growing up, 
either for good or evil. He made even thoughtless lads in 
earnest, too, for the moment, and there was not a careless 
gesture or a smile, until he had ceased. 

"Now for Latin class. What shall it be, sir?** asked 
Doctor Cowe, who was very reverential to my uncle, as the 
best classic present. There had gradually dropped in a good 

A HERO. 101 

many Glasgow gentlemen — stout fathers of families, and 
stupid bailies — ^who looked very wise, but whom, as I told 
Gracie, I should just like to have seen stand up and construe 
a page of Ovid. We schoolboys could have beaten them 
hollow. I know. 

My uncle turned over his Virgil. Doctor Cowe handed 
another, with a very solemn bow, to my aunt, and a third to 
Gracie and me. Very kind of the old Cowe — and Gracie had 
fine fun in making believe she understood Latin. 

" We will take the ^neid, second Book, 

* At regina gravi jamdudum saucia cura.' " 

began Uncle MacUroy, as mildly as if he had not the whole 
poem at his fingers' ends — as we boys all knew he had, to- 
gether with almost every other Latin and Greek author. But 
he bore his learning quite meekly — a great deal more so than 
Doctor Cowe. 

" Very well. Sir. Now boys. Duncan Brown first," pomp- 
ously cried the latter individual. 

Duncan Brown rose up. I had heard a great deal of him. He 
was the cleverest lad in the whole year; Dux in every thing. 
His power of work was prodigious. He was reported to have 
sat up whole nights at his books — the ragged old books that 
Doctor Cowe lent him, when he came, three years ago, as a 
big ignorant boy, of whom nobody knew any thing except that 
his name was Duncan Brown. Few knew any thing more 
now, except that he had outstripped every lad beyond him, 
had become the Doctor's favorite pupil, the glory of the whole 
class, and was going next term from Glasgow High School 
to Glasgow College. 

Gracie and I looked with some curiosity at Duncan Brown. 
I remember his face quite well, even at this distance of time 
It was very handsome, something like the portraits of Byron 
as a lad of seventeen, save that the mouth was less full and 

108 A HERO. 

xnoTO sweet. It was the sort of head we call aristocratic. I 
don't know why, since there is but one true aristocracy, that 
of genius and talent, and this boy had it, most surely, even 
though no one knew where he came from, and his name was 
Duncan Brown. 

But I am getting tedious. (" No — ^no — " said the obliging 
nephews.) Well — ^well, I am not going to construe ^neidos, 
yLiber IV., with all Doctor Cowe's corrections, and all Uncle 
MacILroy's clear explanations, and all the ludicrous hints of 
a certain pompous bailie, who thought himself very learned, 
and to whom Doctor Cowe listened in polite silence, though 
he, and all the boys, even I, saw quite plainly that the old 
fellow had mistaken the sense of the passage, and was as 
arrant a dunce at Latin as his own youngest son. 

I shall pass lightly all this — ^how Duncan Brown construed 
magnificently, and answered every thing that every body else 
could not answer, coming off with wonderful eclat. Also how 
Norman went through his part very creditably, and how Hec- 
tor, twice as quick as his brother, was in great glory, answer- 
ing his own questions and a dozen others, some of which were 
wrong, but generally right. And how, altogether, though 
Uncle Macllroy pretended not to notice his own boys, and 
to bo absorbed in the general examination, it was easy to see 
how gratified he was, when at the end he stealthily looked at 
my aunt and smiled. 

I could not then understand why amidst all his pleasure 
the tears stood in my good aunt's eyes. But it is a weakness 
natural to all mothers, I suppose. 

After the Virgil class, there were other examinations, which 
I forget, only I remember my two cousins got though them 
honorably, and were regarded with great pride and veneration 
by Gracie and me, as well as by Jamie, who was next year 
to be promoted to the High School. 

I also remember that, in conclusion, the old Cowe (whose 

A HEBO. 103 

" Tail" for this day only Iiad become invisible) stood and road 
with much importance a written speech, in which he men- 
tioned the general behavior of the boys — while at the end and 
often in the middle of every sentence, arose a great amount of 
** roughing/' in response to any thing or nothing, just because 
the boy's feet wanted a little exercise. But when at the last 
occurred the name of Duncan Brown, and the worthy old 
Doctor, with a voice rather tremulous, spoke earnestly of the 
Dux's industry, attention, and perseverance, saying that he 
had never had a fault to find with him since he came to the 
school, and how, in leaving for college, the best wishes of every 
master — and he was sure he might say every class-mate — 
went with Duncan Brown — there arose a perfect storm of 
" roughing," of the sincerity of Which there could be no doubt. 

The Dux rose, looking very pale — ^bowed hurriedly — and 
then sat down, leaning his elbow on the opposite form, the 
massive forehead, and wonderfully intelligent eyes just visible 
above his thread-bare coat sleeve. 

"Good-by to Duncan Brown I" whispered Gracie, with 
tears in her eyes. " I hope he will be a great man yet !" 

" The other day," said Uncle Philip, pausing in his nar- 
rative, " I saw advertised a scientific lecture by a Professor 
Duncan Brown, F.R.S., and D.C.L., of Glasgow. I think, 
though it is more than twenty years since T saw him, I should 
almost recognize the lecturer). 


(*' I am now coming," said Uncle Philip, " to the last por- 
tion of my history about a Hero. You must give me time to 
think it over carefully, and I will try and remember it as 
closely as I can." 

Every body congratulated him on having hitherto done 
wonders in the matter of memory. Captain Carew smiled. 

" Perhaps I have, even to a degree that may seem unnat- 
ural. But the coloring of childish recollection is often mar- 
velously vivid and minute ; — and those three months in the 
north exercised such an influence on my afler life-time, that 
every trifle connected with the time, stands out as clear as a 

His beautiful brown eyes grew thoughtful ; he took his 
youngest niece on his lap, played with her baby curls for a 
little, and then began.) 

The examination lasted several days, for there were a 
great many classes in the High School. We boys, with most 
sedulous pertinacity, insisted on going to all, and we tried hard 
to persuade my aunt to do the same. However, her interest 
did not extend beyond her own sons, so she staid at home 
until the last morning, when Norman coaxed her out to see 
the performances of the writing-class. 

It was early in a clear autumn day ; and no one who had 
seen the City of the West under foul aspects can imagine 
how cheery and pleasant Glasgow looks on a fine day. Very 
merrily did we go down Buchanan Street, my uncle and aunt 
first, and we three lads following. Either Hector had got 

A HEEO. 105 

over his disappointment about the prizes, or else his facile and 
sanguine nature was content with looking forward to the 
medal — which he continually talked about — and seemed to 
expect with certainty. But by Norman's advice, or by tacit 
consent, we lads kept this little mystery to ourselves and did 
not enlighten the family in general either as to what Hector 
had so energetically accomplished or what he hoped to win. 

On the High School staircase a little incident occurred. 
My uncle suddenly turned round and called his eldest son. 

" Norman, I quite forgot to ask about your Greek verb, over 
which you were so anxious. Did you get it finished all 

" Yes," said Norman briefly, glancing toward his brother, 
who Juckily was not within sight or hearing. 

" Do you think you have a good chance of the medal ?" 

" I— I don't know." 

" Never mind, do not be shy about it," said the father, 
kindly. " I am sure you have tried your very best, my boy. 
— ^I do hope he will get the medal," added Uncle Macllroy, 
turning to his wife, " for I know how the lad's heart has been 
set upon it all this year." 

I looked at Norman, and Norman at me. This was a 
view of the case which I at least had altogether overlooked. 
" What," said I, "if Hector— " 

" Hold your tongue, stupid !" muttered Norman. I knew 
he must have been in what we called a " a state of mind," or 
he would not have spoken so rudely. I could not tell what 
to make of him. But just then Hecto^ came leaping up- 
stairs, and we all went into the writing-room. All, I think, 
except my uncle, who had business elsewhere. 

The writing class made a capital show. We passed down 
table after table all covered with fine specimens of caligraphy. 
There were copy-books numerous enough to have been the 
work of all the young scribblers in Glasgow put together. 

100 A HEEO. 

Hector went merrily down the line, showing off all to his 
mother, making jocular remarks on every thing and eveiy 
hody in the room, which was half full of masters, parents, 
and ladies. With these latter Hector Macllroy was always 
.quite a little heau, heing so handsome, ready-witted, and 

Norman kept rather in the shade. He was generally very 
quiet-mannered with strangers. More thati once I saw him 
stand quite still and thoughtful, making helieve to look at the 
copy-hooks ; and then there came across me his father's words. 
" His heart has been set upon it all this year" I couldn't 
understand my cousin Norman yet ! 

One of the masters, who was very polite to my aunt, now 
guided her to the farther end of the room ; where, he said, 
was something that would afibrd her great pleasure. 

There, hung against the wall in all their glory, were the 
important Greek verhs. Hector leaped forward with a flush- 
ing face — Norman hung hack. 

" It is not often our writing-class is so adorned," said the 
master, evidently looking with great pride on the fair white 
card-board sheets, on which the beautifully written Greek 
meandered in rivers of moods and tenses, a network of confu- 
sion, yet when one came to examine, proportioned in most 
perfect order. You can have no idea, nephews, what a pretty 
thing was that same Greek verb. " I was sure you would 
admire it, madam," continued the teacher smiling, '* yet these 
two are much inferior to the one just beyond. Will you 
look?" ' ■ ^ 

My aunt did so, and hardly suppressed an exclamation of 
delight when she read, at the corner of the card-board, " Hec- 
tor Macllroy." 

" My dear boy, how beautiful — ^how exquisite ! When 
did you do it ? Why did you never tell me ?" But Hector 
was too pleased and proud to answer any of these ques- 

A HERO. 107 

tions. He could not take his eyes from his own handiwork, 
which was so much more successful than he had dared to 

" Indeed I must congratulate you, Mrs. Macllroy/' said 
the polite writing-master — all masters are so wondrously 
polite on examination-days. " There could be no doubt of 
Hector's winning the medal, except for one possible rival, your 
other son." 

He pointed to the last .of the four verbs, which was Nor 
man's. Hector started, and rushed to examine it. So did I. 
We were both struck with a cold fear, a fear so ungenerous, 
that meeting each other's eyes we both blushed for the 

" It is — ^very — ^beautiful," at last said Hector boldly, though 
I saw how his face had changed. 

"Very beautiful indeed," repeated the mother, looking 
uneasily at each of her boys ; I never knew any parent so 
guarded in showing preference " Both seem so good, I could 
hardly tell which was best." 

" That is what all we masters say. The decision will be 
tough I think ; and, upon, my word I am glad that judgment 
rests with the Principal, for I should be fairly puzzled. — 
There can be no doubt, if Master Norman's were not there, 
Master Hector's verb would be successful — still — as it is. — 
However, madam, I must congratulate you once more on 
both your sons." 

My aunt bowed-— the master bowed-^and we passed on.—- 
All but Hector, who still leaned on the table, looking from 
his brother's work to his own, and then back again. His 
rosy face had turned all colors — ^his mouth had sunk in ; he 
was evidently in extreme agitation. I don't know how Nor- 
man felt, or looked, or did. I only saw Hector. 

At length the latter touched my shoulder. ** Come out 
with me, Phil. I feel so stupid — so dizzy." He looked up 

108 A HERO. 

and saw his brother lagging behind anxiously. " Get along, 
Nonnan ! Do not be staling at me." 

These were the first and last words of anger the poor lad 

We were invited that day to lonch with some old ladies, 
who lived beyond Glasgow Green ; and there being no reason 
to the contrary, we went. Norman walked with his mother 
— ^Hector with me. We did not speak a word the whole 
way. This was such a new thing with Hector, always so 
loud and passionate in his troubles, that I began to feel quite 
frightened. He had evidently taken the matter very deeply 
to heart. I feared that in his silence he might be harbor- 
ing the bitterer wrath against his brother; but it was not so. 

The old ladies gave us all sorts of good things, and won- 
dered very much that we three hearty lads did not consume 
all before us. But for once in a way we were not inclined 
to eat. For myself, I felt as if the rosiest apple in the dish 
would have choked me like sawdust. But then I was a very 
soft-hearted and sentimental little fellow. 

It was a great relief when we turned out into the garden 
to gather apples fbr ourselves. 

I don't know whether it was the apples that put it into my 
mind, but when I saw the two brothers left alone together, 
I had an uncomfortable recollection of Cain and Abel. I 
wondered very much what my cousin would do. 

At first, they diverged apart, each taking an opposite path, 
Hector pulling the leaves of gooseberry bushes, and Norman 
walking quietly on, his hands in his pockets, until by some 
sudden turn the two paths met, and the brothers likewise. 
The elder put his hands on the younger's shoulders, and looked 
him in the face — so kindly — ^so sorrowfully I 


" Well, Norman !" 

" You are not vexed ?" 

A HEBO. 109 

Hector paused, and at length said, sturdily, though it must 
have cost him much. " No, I*m not. It's a fair fight — quite 
fair. If I lose, I lose." 

" That is not sure yet." 

Hector brightened up, but only for a minute. " No, no ! 
However, if I must be beaten, it is better to be beaten by 
you ; mind, I acknowleige that. Now, we'll talk no more 
about it — it makes me sick." 

He did indeed look very wretched and ill, and soon his 
mother saw it would be advisable to take him home, and let 
his feelings grow calm of themselves. I thought I had better 
keep out of the way, so I walked back alone, Norman having 
already started. Nobody knew wherefore — but he was such 
a strange boy. 

Passing by the High School I thought I would just go in 
once more — to judge for myself, quietly and alone, which of 
the two Greek verbs had the best chance. It was getting 
almost dark, and many of the masters were leaving. In 
the writing-room were a few figures moving about with 
lights putting by the copy-books, and taking down the or- 
namental writing that was fastened to the walls. One of 
the junior masters was in the act of rolling up the Greek 

'' Stop a minute, please, Mr. Ronton, let me take one more 

''And me too," cried another lad, rushing up the room 
quite breathless. It was Norman. 

Seeing me, he started back surprised, and, as I thought, 
a good deal confused, but soon recovered himself. We looked 
together at the two sheets — ^we and the master. There was 
no doubt which verb was done the best — even if Mr. Ronton 
had not said so. 

'* Yes, you wiU surely get the medal, Macllroy ; still, I'm 
rather sorry for your brother Hector. Hey there I" — as some- 

110 A HEEO. 

body happened to call him — '' Lads, stay here a minute, only 
mind the candle and the ink-bottle — Norman, that is your 
own verb you're holding — take care !" 

I looked at my cousin for a minute — ^he was extremely 
pale, and his eyes were fixed with an inexplicable expression 
on his work — done with such patience, hope, and pains. He 
regarded it so lovingly, that, remembering Hector, I felt quite 
vexed and walked away. 

A minute after, there was a great splash — crash — link- 
bottle and card-board rolling together on the floor. The 
master came up in a passion, but it was too late. The fair 
white sheet was covered with a deluge of ink. One of the 
verbs was irretrievably spoiled. 

" It's my own — only my own," stammered Norman. " I 
did it myself, acci — " 

' He might have been going to say accidentally, but stopped 
for it would have been the first lie the boy ever told. The 
moment I looked in his face, I felt convinced he had turned 
over the ink-bottle on purpose. 

I will not now stop to discuss whether this act was right 
wrong. I only know he did it. 

Having done it, he stood shaking all over, as nervous and 
agitated as a lad could be ; but Mr. Benton and the other 
masters were too busy and angry to notice this. They merely 
called him a " careless gouk" — and thought it a just punish- 
ment that he should have only ruined himself 

" Your brother Hector is sure of the medal now, and I'm 
glad, for he deserves it" — said one. 

" Now, if you had had his verb in your hands, the case 
would have looked suspicious against you," said another. 
''But nobody would be such a fool as to go and destroy his 
own work, except by accident." 

" A pretty figure you'll cut at the prize-giving," observed 
Mt. Eenton. '* And what will your father say ?" 

A HERO. Ill 

The poor fellow winced. I ran up to him — " Oh, Norman, 
Norman I" He saw from my looks that I guessed all. 

"Hush, Phil!*' and he clutched my wrist as tight as a 
vice. "If you ever tell, I'll — " 

What savage purpose he meant — declaring it with that 
broken, tremulous voice — I never knew. I only know that 
he somehow dragged me after him into the open air, and 
that there, quite overcome, we both sat down on the stone 
steps — and, I do believe, big lads as we were, we both cried. 

Norman made me promise that I would never " let on," as 
he expressed it. I never did — until this day. 

(" Well," said Captain Carew, coming to an anchor, " does 
any body want to know any more ]" 

Every body did want to know a deal more — indeed suffi- 
cient questions were asked to keep Uncle Philip's tongue 
going till midnight. 

" Hofut toutr as my Uncle Macllroy would say, this will 
never do. I can't engage to give a biography of all that has 
happened to all my cousins for the last twenty years. I only 
bargained to tell you the story of my discovering a Hero. 
Who was he ?" 

Some made divers guesses, others begged to hear a little 
more before they finally decided.) 

I have little more to tell. I don't reccoUect much about 
the prize-giving ; I suppose my heart was too full. I only 
remember sitting in a crowded church (they usually give 
away the prizes in the Kirk, in Scotland), seeing boys' faces 
filling every pew, and amidst them all discerning clearly but 
one face — my cousin Norman's : hearing a long droning speech, 
interrupted with much "roughing," which sounded rather 
strange in a church ; watching a long line of boys winding up 
one aisle and down another, past the precentor's desk, where 
they each bowed, got something, and vanished ; listening for 
the name " Hector Macllroy," and seeing him go up rather 

112 A HEEO. 

gmrelj, and oooe back looking so handsome and pleased, 
"wearing the red ribbon and shining medal. As he did so, I 
mind above all, catching the eye of my cousin Norman, that 
gray eye — so soil — so good, though the mouth was a little 
quivering, until at last it settled into a quiet smile. Then 
I felt very proud to think that in the whole assembly, nay 
in the whole world, he and I alone knew — ^what we knew. 
And looking at him, as he sat there so quiet and unnoticed, 
I felt prouder still to think that I had learnt one thing more 
— I had at last discovered — 

" A Hero !" shouted all the nephews together. " Norman 
was the Hero !" 

(Uncle Philip nodded ; but somehow his voice was husky, 
and he leaned his forehead on his little niece's curls for a gooa 
while before he spoke. However, when he did speak, it was 
in his usual loud, cheerful voice.) 

*' Boys, you are quite right ! Since that time the young 
Macllroys have been scattered far and wide. At this moment 
probably, Hector is sailing in his vessel round Cape Horn ; 
James jabbering Hindostanee on the banks of the Ganges : 
Willie devoting his inquiring mind to the parallax of the fixed 
stars ; and wee Wattie speculating whether or not he shall 
marry and settle like a Christian in Scotland, or go out like a 
heathen to the ' diggings' in California." 

" And one," — added he, with a sudden pause and lowering 
of tone — " one of my dear cousins is with God." 

"But," and shortly ailerward Uncle Philip spoke on brave- 
ly, as a good man should speak, who has learped life's hardest 
lesson, to bear and conquer sorrow. " But if among all these 
you should ask me to point out the one most honored, and most 
worthy of honor, I would send you to a certain town in Scot- 
land, where, in a certain house, sits a certain honest man — 
husband of a wife, and father of a family — " 

— "No," shouted Uncle Philip, suddenly darting to the 

A HEEO. 113 

window, cleanng the room at a bound, '* he doesn't sit there 
at all. He is now standing at our gate. I knew he would, 
for he promised. And, having promised, he was as sure to 
come as — as the New Year ! Wait till he shakes the snow off 
his plaid, and then you'll see him, my boyish playfellow, the 
friend of my manhood, my cousin Norman Macllroy ! But, 
oh lads ! for any sake, don't let him suspect I have just been 
showing him up in a character which he has sustained, and 
will sustain, all his life, without ever knowing it — that of 









It is to-day ten months since my mother died, and my 
father has told me that he is about to bring home another 
wife ! — Another mistress of the household, another Mrs. Lyne, 
usurping her place, her name ! How shall I ever bear it ! 

I do not think I share the usual prejudice against step- 
mothers. I know perfectly well, no daughter, even if grown 
up, can be to her father the comfort that a wife is ; and many 
men, loving their first wives ever so dearly, have in time mar- 
ried again. My dear mother dilfing her long illness several 
times hinted this to me, accidentally as it were, yet with 
meaning. But, in one sense, the parallel did not hold ; for 
she was not " loved dearly ;" — ^never, alas ! since the first 
sunny year of her marriage, wherein I was bom, and she, out 
of her deep happiness, called me Felicia. 

I knew, 1 felt, that my father would marry again. These 
two months I have been trying to reason myself, ay, and my 
little brothers too, into some preparation for what must come 
in time. I even thought that we might learn to love his 
wife — I and the two poor little fellows to whom the name of 
" father" has always been a name of fear — ^that is, if she were 
a good woman. But — that woman I 


That "Woman, with the paint scarce wiped off her face, to 
come and lay her head on the sacred pillow where my mother 
died! — That woman, whose name has been for years the 
town's talk, to bear the name which, sorrowful as her life was, 
my pure mother bore unsullied to her grave ! It is hard, very 
hard ! — ^nay, it is horrible ! 

Yet there is no alternative ; they are already married — ^my 
father told me so. He has given me the choice, to prepare to 
welcome her here, or to go out myself into the wide cruel 
world — I think I would, except for those little ones, my broth- 
ers, to whom, since our mother died, I have tried to be mother 
and sister both. For their sakes I must have patience. 

All day I have tried to exercise what, young and inex- 
perienced as I am, my mother always said I had — a clear 
judgment, a power of subduing weak womanly emotions 
and prejudices, and seeing only the right, I think I see it 

My father is perfectly free to marry, and to marry whom 
he pleases ; no daughter can or ought to stand in the way of 
that. But oh ! — ^if his wife had only been a good woman, 
nay, even an honest, respectable woman I His very house* 
keeper .would have been preferable to . 

No ; I will be just and merciful, as my poor mother was 
ever, to all sinners. This woman may not be so bad as the 
world paints her ; for the world is very cruel, and a beautiful 
public singer must oflen be maligned. Even granting those 
things which can not be contradicted, I, have heard that kind* 
ness and generosity have ere now lingered even in the heart 
of a Magdalen. 

I will not leave my home and my brothers, nor — 

I was obliged to break off, and go down to our friend Mr. 
B^dwood. I wonder if he saw that any thing was wrong 
with me, that I could not sing when he adced me. I wonder, 


too, does he know of what will happen in our family ? and 
what will he think of it ? Will he come here as usual, and 
will his mother ? — To think of the Honorable Mrs. Eedwood 
visiting the woman my father has chosen for his second wife ' 
Impossible ! 

Oh ! I wish, I wish I could have told him — ^Mr. Redwood, 
I mean. But how could I, a mere girl, and he so young a 
man ? Besides, I had no right ; for he is still but a friend, or 
rather acquaintance. Only — sometimes — ^He said he was 
coming again next Wednesday ; and I until this minute have 
forgotten that that is the very day my father told me they 
would come home, — he and— Mrs. Lyne ; for I must teach 
myself that dreaded word. 

Ah me ! ah, my poor little brothers ! ah, my dear mother, 
my awn mother, who knows not what we suffer, and to whom 
no sufiering can ever come more !— For that, amidst all my 
weepings, I look up, and thank God ! 

They have come home, and I have seen my step-mother for 
the first time. She was very sweet and gracious, both to me 
and to the boys ; and she is, oh ! such a handsome woman ! 
Dressed for the evening, she did not look above thirty. What 
a contrast to my poor sick mother, worn out before her time ! 
But I must not suffer myself to dwell on these things. 

Mrs. Lyne entered the house with an easy grace, all smiles. 
She said it was a pretty house. I had taken pains to have 
all in order for her ; for I wished to please my father, if I 
could. After the house, she took notice of us, shook hands 
with me and Henry, and would have kissed dear httle Aleck, 
but he pouted and refused. She only laughed, and said ** he 
was a pretty fellow nevertheless." 

My heart was ready to burst, knowing how like the child 
is to his mother. 

Nevertheless, both Henry and Aleck got sociable with her 


toward the end of the evening ; for she was so bewitching in 
her manners, and children of seven and ten are so easily im- 
pressible. My father showed at first a little embarrassment ; 
but she soon talked all that away. I never knew a woman 
with such irresistible powers of conversation. 

For myself, I think I behaved, as I had hoped and prayed 
I might behave— with quiet self-control, rendering courtesy 
where courtesy was due. In this I was helped, and many of 
the discomforts of the evening smoothed down, by Mr. Red- 
wood, who, not having received my message through his moth- 
er, appeared as he had at first promised. I can not tell if he 
had known or guessed the change in our family ; but whether 
or not, he sustained his difiicult position admirably well. For 
even at his age, he is at once a gentleman and a man of the 
world ; though the world has not spoiled him. 

I wonder if he thought my step-mother handsome ! She 
talked to him a good deal, and he always answered with court- 
esy ; but it was evident he liked better to stay with the little 
boys and me. He played a game at draughts with Henry, 
and told Aleck a wonderful story about a hobgoblin ; then he 
went away. As he shook my hand, I felt his eye upon me 
with such a kind, pitying look that I could hardly keep down 
my tears. Oh ! he knows what I must sufier — ^he has such 
a gentle heart ! 

Surely men can not be all tyrants, all selfish! Surely — 
though my mother's sore experience at times taught me al- 
most to doubt the fact — there must be in the world such a 
thing as a good husband and a happy marriage ! 

" All things are less dreadful than they seem." 

How truthfully that line of "Wordsworth's rings in my ear 
to-night, when, having looked at my brothers asleep in their 
little beds, and seen that the house is all quiet and safe— for 
it is not till to-morrow morning that I relinquish the keys to 


my step-mother — I have come up to my own room, to think 
over the events of the day before it closes. 

Nevertheless, I am very glad that this dreaded evening is 

Oh ! mother, my mother, of whom is my last thought at 
night, whose example I desire and strive in all things to fol- 
low — ^you see, O mother ! how I try to do my duty, let what 
will be the end — -even as you did, until Grod took you from 
my love unto His own I 

It was Henry's birth-day to-day. 

(Mem. inserted, as are several others, evidently of a much later date 
than the original diary. 

Henry was ten years old, I remember, and the finest little fellow 
imaginable, the pride of the whole Square. He was very tall and 
large made for his age ; indeed, he used to torment me by stealing 
my slippers and gloves, pretending that they fitted him exactly, which 
indeed was a blessing, otherwise, he would have gone short enough, 
poor fellow ! After the first three months of our father's marriage, 
Mrs. Lyne used to say that children were always wanting some- 

Yet I dressed them very simply, my two boys — ^for I began to call 
them mine, seeing there was no one else to claim them. I could 
see them now, in their dark green blouses and leather belts, each 
with his books under his arm, just as they used to look tiirning the 
corner of our Square' when coming home daily from school. They 
were such handsome boys !) 

Henry's birth-day ! — ^We always, in the worst of times, 
made birth-days pleasant days — ^but this has been very sad. 

It began ill. At breakfast I reminded my father of the 
day, and hinted what he had long promised Henry as a 
birth-day present — a box of tools at Holtzapfiers in Charing 

Mrs. Lyne lifted her eyebrows, and reasoned mildly about 
the " evil of extravagance." 

Now, since she has brought into the house many luxuries 
— expensive even to my father's large income-— I thought this 



not quite right ; still I axgued and entreated a little more ; 
I knew how the boy longed for his birth-day present. 

'* Felicia,'' said my father, after his wife had talked with 
him apart, in her smooth low voice ; *' you spoil those boys 
too much. They should, as Mrs. Lyne says, be^ taught self- 
denial, not extravagance. I will have no more presents given 
them on any pretext whatever.*' 

So Henry lost his delight. Heaven forgive me if my heart 
burned against my father ; but I thought it very hard, es- 
pecially as the case was only one out of many, in which that 
bland moralizing voice had interfered between the children 
and their little pleasures. 

Henry was indignant too, for he was of a high spirit, and 
had forced me to tell him the truth ; — ^indeed I never can tell 
any thing else — all comes out of me sooner or later. And 
when, in honor of the day, he dined with us, he was not 
quite so pleasant as he ought to have been and was expected 
to be. At last, seeing a storm rising, for there had been from 
the first a curious antipathy between our smiling, sofl-spoken 
step-mother and Henry, who, I must confess, is passionate and 
rather rough mannered — I rose early from table, that I might 
get him out of harm's way. 

We happened to go into the outer hall, just to cool our- 
selves, when we were quite startled by a man sitting there, 
who caught hold of me, and addressed me rudely, as Mrs. 
Lyne ?" I said, *' No ; I was Miss Lyne ; did he want Mrs. 
Lyne. He answered, " Yes ; but he could wait, since he 
knew she was in the house :" and his manner was so uncivil 
that I was glad to get away. 

About tea-time, the footman whispered Mrs. Lyne that 
some person had been waiting all the evening in the hall, to 
see her. She went out hastily, and returned after a good 
while, her cheeks flushed even beyond their usual steady color. 

** Who was it wanted you ?" asked my father, carelessly. 


" Only my dress-maker." 

Henry, who had just crept up-stairs, palled my sleeve, 
with a look of great astonishment, and whispered, " That's 
not true, sister — ^it was the man." 

^*Mrs. Lyne*s eye^ — she has such a glaring hlack eye at 
times — ^was upon us in a minute, and my father's too. 

" What are you whispering, sir ?" said he sharply to 

Now the little fellow has one quality that would atone for 
a hundred faults ; he always tells the direct truth. He an- 
swered at once, " I said, it was a man who wanted Mrs. 
Lyne — a great, dirty man, with black whiskers and a hooked 
nose ; — ^it was ! for I saw them talking." 

My father looked furious. *' What did they say 1" 

" He asked her to pay his bill, I thought ; but I did not 
stay listening : I never do," said Harry proudly. 

Each moment I expected Mrs. Lyne would burst out in a 
passion, but she did not : she only smiled, and twirled her 
handkerchief " Mr. Lyne, my business was certainly with 
my dress-maker. I thought you knew already that your son 
has a halbit of — of deviating from truth, and is certainly a 
leetle revengeful. I fear I stayed your too lavish hand toward 
him this morning. Poor fellow ! — but I can forgive." 

She threw herself back in her chair, smiling her sweetest 
smile, first at Henry, and then at my father ; at which, com- 
pletely reassured, he would hear no words from my brother 
or from me. The scene ended in Harry's receiving the 
crudest indignity a spirited lad can suffer — stripes; he cry- 
ing out all the while' " that he had spoken only the truth, 
and sister knew it was so." 

His sister did know it, and frantically declared the same, 
and the result was — But I have no business to think of my 
own wrongs. 

I have kissed and wept over my poor boy. I have prayed 


for him and for myself. What shall we do ? — ^I can nol 

After writing this, mechanically, with I scarce know 
what intent, I went to count over what money I had ; my 
allowance having been paid me that day. I had left it 
open in my dressing-case, carelessly enough, as rich men's 
daughters do. I found it gone! and never, though it is 
three weeks since Henry's fatal birth-day, have I seen or 
heard of it. 

The poor lads can have no pleasures for a whole six 
months, now ; but then I shall be of age, and have twenty 
pounds a year of my own — ^my very own ! Oh, how wel- 
come it will be ! I never knew money's worth till now. 

I have had to give up my pretty little bedchamber. It 
happens to be next my stepmother's, and she wants it for her 
maid : so I am sent to a room at the top of the house. For 
some things I do not mind the change — ^it is so pleasant to 
catch even a dim glimpse of Hampstead over the forest of 

Then my little brothers like it, for it is near theirs, and is 
such a refuge from the racketing and turmoil going on 
below. We sit there whole evenings, and plan what we 
would do if we all three lived together, far out in the quiet 
country ; and I tell them of all the country pleasures I used 
to have, years ago, with the three little sisters who came 
between me and Henry, and died when they were young, I 
only being left. 

— I am glad I lived, if only for the poor boys' sake. 

Yesterday, at one of our parties, I overheard Mrs. Lyne 
saying — what from her sharp glance and smile I do believe 
she intended me to overhear — " that it would be an excellent 
thing if Felicia were married." 

She likewise added, apropos of something her neighbor 


said, which something I do not care to write down, " Oh, no ! 
poor Felicia would never please a young man of taste and 
intellect — how could she, with her little doll-like face, and 
no manners whatsoever ?" 

I had been dull enough that night, as I oflen was ; no 
one, at least no one I cared to talk with, ever appearing at 
Mrs. Lyne*s soirees. Her words kept haunting me — foolishly 
enough ; but when one is young one has such a longing to 
be thought pleasing — such a bashful terror of one's self! 

It is true I have blue eyes, and long, light curls ; but am 
I really so dolMike and insipid-looking ? I asked Aleck the 
question to-day, in jest, of course ; and the wicked little fel- 
low laughed in my face, and said, somebody once told him he 
ought to be proud of such a sweet sister and especially of her 
" pretty, pretty curls." But who it was he would not tell, 
and nothing could make him. 

What a precocious, pert little creature Aleck is growing ! 
And when I confessed about Mrs. Lyne's unkind speech, 
how both the boys did torment me, calling me " Miss Doll I" 
But I deserved it all for my ridiculous vanity. 

To-day has been a day which, in our quiet life, solitary 
amidst a whirl of gayety, seems full of adventure. 

It was the first Monday of the boys* Midsummer holidays, 
and we went^ out for a long walk ; nobody forbidding, which 
was rare. The lads dragged me on and on, even as far as 
Eampstead ; where, with a sudden thought of strawberries 
and cream this time last year, they wanted me to call on 
Mrs. Eedwood. But I could not. Since my father's mar- 
riage I have scarcely seen her, or any of the family, except 
that Mr. Godfrey Redwood sometimes has called ; and once 
or twice has met my brothers on their way from school, and 
brought them home. He is so kind to them always, and 
they are wildly fond of him. I could hardly make them 


understand why we must stay on the Heath, and not intrude 
ourselves at the Honorable Mrs. Redwood's. 

It is a pleasant place— that Heath! All day, Harry. 
Aleck, and I, wandered up and down, hiding among furze 
and fern, lying on beds of thyiUe. More than once the boys 
made me sing at the very top of my voice, which I actually 
did — I felt so cheerful — though doubtless the act was rather 
improper, and would have justified my step-mother in her 
declaration, that I had " no manners whatsoever." 

I took great care to keep at the opposite end of the Heath 
to where the Bedwoods lived. Yet it happened somehow, 
that as, rather tired out, we were thinking of coming home, 
we were overtaken by Mr. Godfrey Redwood. He joined 
us, saying he was himself going to town. 

He walked with us across the Heath, first holding the two 
boys on either hand. Then bidding Aleck see how weary 
Sister looked, he slipped the child off, and quietly gave me his 
arm. We had never before walked together thus, out of 
doors, in the open day. 

It was a pleasant evening, and we talked of many things, 
chiefly about the boys, and about his going abroad the follow- 
ing week for two months or so. He went very unwillingly, 
he told me. However, he promised Henry to write him word 
of all the wonders of the Alps, and even to bring him home some- 
thing from the very spot where William Tell shot at the 
apple, which greatly delighted the boy. So talking, he went 
with us the whole way, and said good-by at our door. We 
had all enjoyed our walk so much, and were so happy, that I 
never uttered a less sad good-by. I hardly remembered he 
was going away at all, until the children obstinately refused 
to enter the house without seeing " the last of him." 

So we all stood at the door and watched him round the 
Square. At the comer he turned round, perceived us, lifted 
his hat and bowed. Then we saw him no more. 


(No more I The youth Godfrey Redwood-^so graceful, manly, 
gentle, ay and beautiiiil-^for he was beautiful, m heart as in face — 
I never saw any more !) 

Every week, every day, our life at home grows darker and 
darker. I am my father's daughter in nothing but the name, 
mmL m an existence of forced blank idleness, which makes me 
envy the very housemaid at her toil. 

For my two poor boys, they are being slowly ruined. Con- 
stant punishment is changing Harry's frank temper into the 
ferocity of a young tiger ; and yesterday, I heard my innocent 
Aleck — ^his mother's darling, and her very image — I heard 
Aleck with frightened lips stammer out— ^ lie ! 

If sA« had heard him — she who with dying breath left him 
to my charge ! 

I sometimes think, when wandering through our beautiful 
house, or dining at our luxurious table — If people did but 
know ! And then all sorts of frantic ideas swim through my 
mind, slowly forming themselves into unutterable longings. 

To-day I read in the Proverbs of Solomon : — 

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is^ than a stalled ox 
and hatred thereurith. ^ 

Better is a dry morsel and quietness tltereimth, than an 
hausefull of sacrifices with strife, 

I wonder, is it very hard to earn one's bread ? 

My twenty-first birthday has come and gone, without any 
celebration except that of tears. Only, one consciousness 
forced itself upon my mind : I am of age, and my own mis 
tress now. 

It is nearly Christmas. Mr. Redwood wrote Harry word 
that he should be at home by the New Year, to keep his own 
coming of age, which I knew was just one month afler mine. 
Yet how much older he always seemed than I ! 


I am terrified lest he too should see the visible change 
creeping over iny two boys, from which I can not, can not 
save them, in a home like this. What will be the end of 

I wrote that question last night; to-night I answer it. 
For the last time I lay me down to sleep under my father's 

This is how it happened. — I wish to write all the particu- 
^rs clearly, that I may at no future period have to meet an 
accusing conscience, or the reproaches of my brothers. — 

There was to^ay one of the usual domestic storms, m 
which, by Mrs. Lyne's contrivance, Harry and Aleck were 
punished sorely ; and this time — ^though I know they are not 
such good boys as they once were — ^punished unjustly. Then, 
with her usual smile — she is always smiling — ^my step-mother 
informed me that after Christmas they were both to be sent 
from home, to a twenty-pound Yorkshire school, with holidays, 
as she delightedly remarked, only once in two years. I went 
at once to my father, and asked if it were so ? He acknowl- 
edged it. I reasoned with him, quietly, earnestly, that in 
such a school the delicate Aleck would not live a year ; and 
Henry, with his fierce temper, would turn out a perfect 
demon. He laughed at me. Then I told him, with tears, 
that I had promised my mother never to part with the lads. 
He answered, what I shall not write. 

At last, half-maddened, I cried out, " that they should not 

" Miss Lyne,** said he to me, glancing at his wife, who 
sat compassionately smiling at my wickedness, *' I give you 
one alternative— either let your brothers go peaceably to the 
school I choose, or else maintain them yourself" 

"What do you mean 1" 

" What I say ; you are quite old enough to earn your own 


bread and theirs ; and I really think, 'with the prospect of a 
new family rising up, you would be much better out of the 

1 was in that excited state of mind when nothing appears 
strange, startling, or impossible. So, after a momentary 
pause, I said resolutely, " Very well, father ; we will go." 

He made no opposition ; did not even seem surprised. I 
left the study almost immediately; but before I went, I 
walked up to him, and shook hands, which I am now glad of. 
There were no more words or disputes, but the thing was 

To-morrow I shall remove with my brothers to a lodging, 
try to get daily pupils, and begin the world, with a good 
education, youth, health, courage, and twenty pounds a year. 
Not so bad I — the very thought of toil gives me strength. 
It is like plunging into a cold bath, after bebg sufibcated 
with foul vapory steams. 

A strange thought smote me just now. What will all my 
friends say? — what will one friend say, when he comes back 
and finds me — a daily governess ? 

Still, no matter — ^it must be. 

(The day after writing this I arranged all my plans, telling them 
likewise to my father; for I wished to deal openly and have no 
quarrel, which, indeed, I always conscientiously had avoided. He lis- 
tened hurriedly — ^for there was a dinner party awaiting him down- 
stairs — wished me success, gave me five pounds (which I quietly left 
on his table), and bade nie not tell my humble addr^s to the serv- 
ants. Thus we parted, without anger, and, God forgive me I with- 
out love. 

So, when the guests had sat down to table, I sent off our small 
luggage, took my brothers in each hand, and went out of my father^s 
doors through the bleak streets, Aome. 


What a etrange, new life is this on which I have entered 
80 boldly ! To-day, after paying my weekly rent in advance, 
making some slight needful purchases, and providing, much 
too largely I fear, for household expenses and food, I find we 
have exactly one sovereign to begin the world with. Well ! 
as my clever Harry remarked, " Benjamin Franklin began 
with one shilling;" so we are fully nineteen shillings the 
richer than that great philosopher. Nevertheless, I am glad 
that my teaching duties commence to-morrow, and that my 
first week's salary will soon be due. 

(Looking back on these days, it seems to me almost a miracle that 
I had got this situation, the very first I applied for. It must have been 
some charitable soul who gave me through pity what I took as an 
ordinary right, not knowing how many a poor unknown, uncreden- 
tialed governess waits, hopes, doubts, gradually sinks down lower 
and lower, despairs, and starves.) 

I have taken our lodgings where would be cheapest, and 
furthest away from our old neighborhood ; therefore I shall 
have a rather long walk into town to my pupil ; but exercise 
is good for me. The boys will be quiet at home ; our old 
servant, who. keeps these lodgings, will have an eye upon 
them ; and I shall teach them of an evening. I began to do 
it to-night, but rather unsuccessfully; they have been too 
much excited by the change. So I took Aleck on my knee, 
while Henry placed himself on the other side the fire, quite 
man-like; and we had a serious talk about "our establish- 

I told them they must not expect many things they had 


at the Square, fine dinners, and servants to wait ; that they 
mnst learn to wait upon themselves, and would only get a 
pudding once a week. 

" Twice, sister, please — ^twice !" begged Aleck ; and I 

Also, I tried to make Harry feel how much depended upon 
him when I was away, and how he could not be a foolish, 
headstrong, passionate boy any more, but must strive to grow 
a man as fast as possible. He promised, and to prove it 
insisted on putting himself and Aleck to bed without my 
help. Accordingly, passing their door, I found the window 
slightly open, the candle flaring in its socket in the middle of 
the floor, and a great round hole burnt in Aleck's socks. 
But my two darlings were soundly sleeping, as content in 
that shabby bedroom as if they were still surrounded by the 
luxuries due to a rich man's sons. My tears fell as I looked 
at them ; and I prayed Grod's help that I might bring them 
up rightly and virtuously, as their mother would have wish- 
ed. She, who knew what misery often lay hid under riches, 
would not have minded their being poor. 

I have gone through the first week of my life as a daily 
governess. It has been rather harder than I had thought 

I found my one pupil a very big girl, indeed almost a 
young woman, taller than myself, and with twice as much 
spirit. She really frightened me, with her fierce black eyes, 
and her foreign manner, for she is half French. I felt myself 
shrinking into nothing beside her. Yet though she chattered 
French and German to an extent that at first alarmed me, 
on the score of my own acquirements, I find her lamentably 
ignorant in the real classic knowledge of either language ; 
and as regards English she requires the teaching I would 
give to little Aleck. Nevertheless, she has such perfect self- 
assurance, such a strong will, such a thorough ease and inde* 


pendenoe of manner, that one requires the utmost moral cour- 
age to attempt to teach her any thing. I try to assume all 
my dignity, and the decision of superior years and knowledge, 
hut yet I am only one-and-twenty, while she is near fifteen. . 
And oh ! if she did hut know how dreadfully her poor little 
governess is at heart afraid of her ! 

I helieved myself tolerahly well-educated ; surely I am, as 
regards classical literature. How I always reveled in Dante, 
and loved the only true French poet, Lamartine, and dived 
tliirstingly into the mysteries of Goethe and Schiller : yet in 
common conversation I find myself nonplussed continually. 
It is such a diBTerent matter to know a thing oneself, and to 
impart it to another. I ought now to go to school again, if 
only to learn how to teach. 

There it is again in music. Friends call me a good musi- 
cian (at least some friends did), and I know my love for it is 
a perfect passion : hut there is a vast difierence hetween 
singing for oneself, or for those whom one cares to please far 
hotter than one's self-— and knocking a poor song note hy 
note into the ear and head of a girl who has no more heart 
for it than, alas ! her poor governess has for the teaching. I 
had to-day to play and sing before Therese*s mother in proof 
of my acquirements. I chose a song — sang many a time to 
such pleasant praises ! but in the singing my eyes filled with 
tears, and my heart sank down like lead. I failed deplorably ; 
and I knew it I had no business to think of such things 
now I am a daily governess. 

Occasionally, too, I have stings of foolish pride ; I had to- 
day, when Madame Giraud asked me abruptly, " if I wanted 
my salary 1" My cheeks burned, as I said, "Yes, if she 
pleased," and took the gold, so much needed. I thought — 
if any old friends could see me then, would they scorn me 1 
But I soon got over this wrong feeling, and walking home, 
enjoyed the sweetness of first earnings. 


Yet at the week's end I am very tired, probably with the 
long daily walk and the perpetual talking. I am so glad to- 
morrow is Sunday ! 

I see clearly, we must live somewhat plainer than we do. 
It costs more to feed three mouths weekly than I had expect- 
ed : and as for my taking the omnibus to town on wet days, 
as Harry insists — wise, thoughtful little man I — that is quite 
impossible ; but I need not vex him by saying so. 

How changed we all are in a few weeks ! how it seems 
like an age since we " began the world !" The children have 
become quite used to our new ways, only, poor things ! some- 
times they can not understand why they are restricted in 
what were once ordinary things, but have now become 
impracticable luxuries. Harry wants to go out always in his 
best jacket and French kid gloves ; and Aleck still looks and 
longs daily for the pudding. Poor lads ! it goes to my very 
heart sometimes. , 

I have not leisure to write my journal aflen, being every 
night so glad to go to bed. . It is a great blessing that I have 
such sound, wholesome sleep, which hot only refreshes me, 
but drowns all care for a season. 

If I could only send those boys to school, even to the com- 
mon school they used to attend, I would be so thankful ! It 
is not right for them to be left alone the long, long day ; 
and at night I am so tired, that I fear I do not teach them 
half carefully enough. I must try some plan or other for 

— Certainly, it is a kind world, with many good people in 
it, as I have proved this day. 

I " put my pride in my pocket," and went to Mr. Rawl- 
inson, my brothers' old schoolmaster. I told him frankly my 
position, at least so far as I could without blaming my father. 


I asked him if he would take back one boy, say Henry, and 
let me in requital give French lessons to his daughters, or in 
his school. 

He not only agreed, but said at my going away — ^that two 
lads gave no more trouble than one, and he must have back 
both his scholars : but he will only permit me to give three 
lessons a week, nevertheless. 

My mind is now at rest, and the children are greatly 
pleased ; they did so weary after their old playfellows, as I 
plainly saw. 

Still, every pleasure has its pain ; and mine came at last. 
Seeing a cloud gathering over Harry's mirth, at last I got 
from him the secret — he did not like going back to school in 
his old half*wom blouse. He said the boys would tease him. 

Oh ! how bitter these things are ! But I must bear them : 
it is not the children's fault. 

After little Aleck was asleep, I sat an4 talked with Henry 
alone, reasoning with him, as his good sense and manliness 
deserved, morc^ like a companion than a child; I told him how 
poor we were, and must necessarily be, for a long time ; that 
the only way in which poor people can remain independent 
and honest, is by resolving firmly that what they can not pay 
for they must do without — which resolution I had made, and 
we would all follow. I always say " we," that the boys 
may feel we are all as one, to sink or swim together. 

" Now, Harry,'* I said, " I might go to some shop we used 
to frequent, and get credit, knowing all the time I could not 
pay. But would that be honest ? would you feel happy in 
your new clothes?" 

" No, no !" he cried, sitting up in bed, and hiding his face 
on my shoulder ; " however poor we are, I will be thus much 
of a gentleman — * One that does not owe any body any thing.' 
— ^You remember who once told me that." 

I did not-^which was strange. 


^'It was Mr. Redwood : and he knows what it is to lie a 
gentleman, doesn't he, sister ?" 

" Yes," said I quietly, and said no more. ' 

Mr. Etewlinson mentioned incidentally, that some little 
time after school began, a gentleman had called to inquire if 
he knew any thing about the two Master Lynes ? and being 
answered " No,'' had gone away, leaving no name. 

But I know who it was ; — ^whom alone it could be. He 
has then come home from Italy. The children will be so 

The spring is advancing fast ; day by day, as I cross the 
Green Park, I see the change. It has been either sunny 
weather, or soft, warm, "growing" weather, ever since the 
boys went to school. I enjoy my daily walk so much ; espe- 
cially the thrieedays a week that I return from Mr. Rawlin- 
son's with the boys. 

Then it seems so strange to walk in our old neighborhood, 
and see the same shops, and signs, and turnings. But we 
never go near the Square. 

The days are now so light and long, that coming back 
through Pall Mall and Regent-street I always meet the after- 
noon loungers. How gay the spring bonnets begin to look ! 
I could be half ashamed of mine, poor old thing ! It is as- 
tonishing how soon dresses and bonnets will wear out, put on 
daily, and in all weathers. I could be almost foolish enough 
to sigh with Harry — " I want new clothes." 

However, it signifies little, rushing through the streets as I 
do, not meeting a soul I know. But, if I did meet any one 
— I in my unneat winter wrappings, and a bundle of books 
under my arm ! If any one saw me, spoke to me ; — tvould 
they speak? I — that was a young lady in her father's 
house, and am — only a daily governess ! 

One friend I know — ^proud, refined, over-delicate in all that 


regards women — ^might start, to thiak how through this win- 
ter I have run through London streets alone, unprotected, in 
fair weather and foul, in dark or light, often long after dusk — 
I, that was never allowed to cross the Square by myself! 
He might think too that it was " strange" or "improper," my 
living alone in lodgings, with only my young brothers. 

O, wide gulf of worldly distance-~opening wider and widei 
before my eyes! I now begin to see into what I have 
plunged. Had I thought, when I was quitting my father's 
house I — But no ; I am glad I did not : i am glad I thought 
of nothing but my poor little brothers, who now live in peace, 
so happy and so good. 

For me, God wiJl work out my destiny as seemeth Him 

I have determined to cease going down the pleasant streets 
where I might meet friends I once knew. I walk along back 
streets now. Perhaps it is nearest, and I ought to save time 
if possible. 

My brothers asked me to-day, if now that the long summer 
evenings are coming, I would take them up to Hampstead 
Heath 1 But I told them they would like Blackheath bet- 
ter, and they are quite satisfied, nay, delighted. 

How slender is a child's memory ! They never now speak 
of the Square, of old times, or any of our old friends, of whom 
— as I begin slowly to understand — we may possibly never 
hear any more. 

Th^rese is a very good girl on the whole ; afiectiouate too. 
She takes care I have lunch daily ; and this morning, seeing 
I looked pale and tired with the heat, she brought me a glass 
of wine ; saying, her mother desires I should have the same 
every day — a great blessing to me ! and how kind of her ! 
I must try and do my duty by my pupil, even more than I 


have hitherto done : though Madame Giraud declares she is 
quite satisfied. 

Waiting for Therese to-day, I took up a newspaper, as I do 
occasionally, just to see the births, marriages, and deaths. In 
the latter, one struck me : 

"On the 19tli ult., Sir Egerton Redwood, of Redwood Hall; and, 
same day, drowned near Yevay, Egerton Redwood, Esq., his eldest 
and only surriving son. The baronetcy and influential family prop- 
erty fall, therefore, to the next heir, Godfrey Egerton Redwood, Esq., 
son of the late Colonel and the Honorable Anne Redwood, and grand- 
son of the lately deceased Baronet." 

" Sir Godfrey Redwood !" How strange it sounds ! But 
he will make a noble use of fortune : God grant him happi- 
ness long to possess it ! 

— ^I must still look a little longer in the list of " Marriages." 
To-day, I have walked more slowly home, nor minded 
passing through the sunny streets and gay throngs of people 
in my sombre and dust-spoiled clothing. It is quite good 
enough for one who will probably all her life have to earn 
her bread as a daily governess. 


Henbt and I measured heights t<>day ; and he is actually 
taller than I am. So, coming home from Mr. Rawlinson's, 
he would insist upon giving me his arm, considering that 
he -was yesterday fifteen years old. 

(This is the next entry added to my fooliuh, girlish journal, preserved 
till now, from the still more foolish tenderness one has over girlish 
things. I had always a love of hoarding relics, memories, every thing 
but coin. The long pause in my writing was occasioned doubtless by 
want of leisure, during four years of a toilsome and yet monotonous 
life ; — ^the recommencement of my journal was owing to want of occu- 
pation, during that trying period " waiting for a situation." 

Remembering his birth-day, puts me in mind that my own 
is about this time. Twenty-six, or seven, is it ? I have al- 
most lost count. However, I must have been Therese's 
governess five years. This is why I shall miss her so much. 
Yet it is quite time for her to give up study, and practice 
housekeeping for a few months before she is married. I wish 
— as she laughing said — I could teach her thatt meaning the 
management of a house. But in the domestic department 
my own abilities are small ; indeed they have completely died 
out for want of practice. Which signifies little ; since, as I 
told Th^rese this morning — I shall probably never have a 
house to manage. 

She looked very sly, said, laughing, how did I know ? and 
appealed to her father ; who since her mother's death, two 
years since, has m&de her his constant companion. M. Giraud 
took no notice of Th6rese*s nonsense ; he is a perfectly well- 
bred man, just, generous, and kind, so much so, that in these 
years I have all but forgotten he is by birth the great object 
of my girlish antipathy — a Frenchman. 


He has been very kind to the boys too — ^my dear boys ! of 
whom I am so proud. Ah, if their mother could but see 
them now ! 

Yet I have thanked Grod that she could not see, that no 
one could see, all we have passed through ; the struggles, the 
humiliations, the narrow, grinding penury ; and, had my 
health once failed, the awful spectre Want standing ever at 
the door. But I did not sink : a supernatural strength has 
borne me up through every thing ; and He who gave it knows 
that strength was not my own 

Now, though I am still full of anxieties — ^terrified when I 
see Aleck look delicate and weary ; or Harry's cheek sharpen- 
ing out of boyhood into youth ; I yet live in present peace, and 
trust in Providence for the time to come. 

Only, if I coidd hear of another situation before Th6rese's 
marriage I for I do not like taking my full salary when I 
teach her nothing, and am only as it were a friend and com- 
panion. But she and her father agree in compelling me to 
this, and I dare not refuse. 

Oh, Need — ^imperious Need — what a tyrant thou art ! 

Strange things have befallen me to-day. 

Leaving Th6rese early, I thought I would walk round, as 
I have done once or twice, by a print-shop in Fall Mall, to 
see something I should surely see there. There is no need to 
make any secret about it ; it was a likeness of some one whom 
I knew — ^before the world knew him, as it does now. 

Three years ago, I found in the " Times*' newspaper Sir 
<xodfrey Redwood's maiden speech : he had entered Parlia- 
ment. We were then rich enough to afibrd a newspaper, so I 
oflen saw his name in the Debates. Afterward, when Henry 
wanted to take in " Chambers' Journal" instead, I managed 
to read the *' Times" at Th^rese's house. 

Sir Grodfrey Redwood is a celebrated man now ; so cele- 


brated, that besides the print in the shop-ivindow, round 
which I daily see a small crowd of curious gazers, I often 
catch, in the common talk of strangers, the old familiar name. 
Nobody knows, what perhaps I have no right to tell — that 
he was once a friend of mine. Nevertheless, it is quite natural 
that I should feel proud of this ; and it does not harm him, 
or any one, that I have pleasure in seeing his name in the 
newspaper, or in coming round now and then by that print- 
shop, to look at his portrait — like, and yet unlike. He must 
have changed much since we knew him. 

To-day, as I stood at the shop- window — an unlady-like act, 
it may be, but I feel I am now too old-looking and plainly 
dressed to mind much what I do, provided it is not wrong — 
there came up a groom and a led horse. Its owner quickly 
passed out of the shop, and mounted ; then, just looking round 
with a half-smile, that swept indifferently over the shop-win- 
dow, the little crowd there— and me, off he rode. 

It was the glimpse of a moment^' but I could not be mis- 
taken; I have to-day seen Godfrey — I mean, Sir Godfrey 

And he did not know me ! But how could he ? The 
years which have made of him a man, have made me — ^yes, 
£ am quite right in calling myself " an old woman." 

I turned my face again to the shop-window, and gazed in 
upon a dazzle of black and white engravings, till a hand 
• touched me, and some one said — "Miss Lyne V* I need not 
have started so, as it was only Th6rdse's father. 

He said " he had been watching me a long time : was I 
then so very fond of prints ? — he would procure me as many* 
rare ones as I liked." I thanked him, and was pa5«$ing on, 
when I grew quite sick and weak — ^it was such a burning 
summer day. 

M. Giraud took my arm in his, very kindly ; and before I 
well knew how it was, I found myself crossing the Park with 


him, in the direction of my home. He said, I believe, that he 
^wanted to consult with me about Th6rdse, or the future, or 
something — I forget what exact reason he gave. But ere 
long we had reached a quiet, retired walk, and Therese's 
father was talking, not about her, but about himself and me. 

I do not know much of love-making; nor did he, this 
honest, generous- hearted, grave man of middle age, try to 
" make love." All I know is, that then and there, in that 
quiet shady walk, M. Giraud asked me to be his wife. 

If he had been a foolish boy mocking me with silly, flatter- 
ing speeches, or a young man whose passionate devotion 
might torture me with the memory of my own lost youth, I 
should have felt it less : but this man — asking no love, only 
the right of showing tenderness ; ready to be father, brother, 
friend, husband— every thing — to poor forlorn me — ^it went 
to my heart's core I 

I believe I wept much ; but I am quite sure that I gave 
no answer of acceptance or encouragement, which might 
afterward smite my conscience. I rather think I said nothing 
at all ; for, hurrying me home, he lefl me ; telling me he 
would wait for my decision until next day. 

So this night I have to choose whether I will at once lay 
aside all my burden of worldly cares, and become a good 
man's cherished wife. It would be so, I feel ; I know what 
he was to poor Madame Giraud, what he is to Th^rdse and 
the younger three. That he is somewhat advanced in years, 
I would not mind ; nor even that he is a Frenchman — when 
a Frenchman is a true man and a gentleman. 

Then, my two brothers, fast growing up, needing soon to 
be established in the world. And he told me, among other 
things, that, from the day he married me, he should look 
upon Henry and Aleck in the light of his own children. 
That day, he wishes — and Th6rdse too, he brought me her 
own written desir&^hould be the same which removes his 


eldest daughter from hb home. Only six weeks hence ; — 
one brief six weeks ! — and I might be no longer a poor gov- 
erness, but an honored wife ! 

I feel almost bewildered. Such a change ! not for me 
only, but for my dear boys. Surely I ought to forget every 
thing except them — ^to crush out the old life, to tread old feel- 
ings into dust, and so walk on that silent pathway — ^it is ordy 
dust, now — quite calm and smiling, up to the very church- 
door. But there — ^in the presence of God, before whom, as 
well as before my husband, I must take the marriage-vow — 
Dare I? 

I have lifted down a Prayer Book — my mother's — and 
read the whole marriage-service through. 

'' I require and charge you both {as ye vnU answer at the 
dreadful day of judgment, when the secrets of all hearts shaU 
be disclosed) that if either of you know any impediment — '* 

" WUt thou . . . forsaking aU other, keep thee only unt6 

I closed the book. 

It is impossible ! Poor I have been, very poor — ay, and 
very miserable ; but I have ever borne a clear conscience 
before God and man. So it shall still be. I will not per- 
jure myself in the sight of Heaven ; nor enter the married 
state-with a lie upon my soul. 

I have written to-night to M. Giraud, telling him that cir- 
cumstances have made me fixedly resolve not to marry, but 
to devote myself entirely to the care of my two brothers. Ho 
is of too generous a nature, and knows too well my firmness 
of purpose in all things, to attempt to change my resolution. 

One sentence I have on mature consideration added to my 
letter — that, should sickness or premature death prevent my 
fulfilling my duty toward my boys, I trust to him — the only 
man who ever really loved me — to take care of Henry and 
Aleck until they grow to be men. 


Now, as it is long past midnight, I shall lay me down, and 
try to sleep. Ah ! how quietly those sleep, who, as said the 
poor dying poet, whose poetry we used to read when' I was 
young, " feel the daisies growing over them !" God forgive 
me !-^me, that have two young souls of His giving to rear 
up for His eternity !— *I must not yet think of the " daisies." 

It has all ended as I hoped ; and even my dear Therese 
has forgiven me. I trust, ere long, her excellent father may 
find a wotthy companion for himself and a good mother for 
his little children : then my mind will he quite at rest. 

Though I have seen him no more, he has managed, 
through Therdse's husband, to find me some most acceptable 
pupils ; and he has never ceased his kindness to my boys. 

My dear mother used to say, when sometimes we talked, 
half jesting, of the wooers that were to come to me, ** that it 
was usually a woman's own fault, if in rejecting a lover she 
also lost a friend." I have proved deeply send thankfully the 
truth of that saying. 

(Two years intervened here — two long, slow, silent years. Of 
these no records remain, because-^I burnt them. It was a great 
deal the best. Every one who can weed his life, or his life's outward 
evidences, of all gloomy, erring, or hurtful memorials, is as much 
bound to do it, as he is bound to root out from his garden ;l11 things 
that might prove painful or injurious to those that come after him. 

We should always remember, that in the saddest human life all sad- 
ness necessarily ends when the tomb closes ; often, with God's bless- 
ing, long before them. And none of us, quitting the world, should 
leave behind us the thorns that have mercifully dropped off from our 
own brows, to cumber and fester young feet. 

I am now, in my old age, a firm advocate for that blessed sunshine . 
of existence — a cheerful spirit— ^which I believe to be, no less than a 
meek and quiet one, **i« the sight of Ood of great price J^) 

Harry is, I do believe, and every body says so, the hand- 
somest lad imaginable. I did so wish him to grow six feet 


high ; which desire seems very likely to he accomplished. 
He is strong, too ; especially since last summer, when we 
were rich enough to go down to the sea. What a merry 
time we had ! and how Aleck, quiet and gentle as he is, he- 
came quite boisterous, and wanted to turn sailor. . But the 
salt-water mania has died away in these two months ; fi>r 
which somebody I know is very thankful. Any thing but 
red-coats and blue-jackets — as I tell the hoys when they talk 
of what they will be. 

What, alas ! Heaven only knows, for I do not. I can only 
find them bread from year to year. As to putting them to 
any profession, that is utterly impossible ; and somehow with 
a feeling that may be wrong but yet is natural, I shrink 
from seeing Henry or Alexander Lyne, sprung from the old 
Lynes and Trevethlans of Cornwall, standing behind a coun- 
ter, or running about as a lawyer's derk. 

Still, the trial is not quite at hand. Harry's education is 
not finished yet ; and I will trust to that good Providence, 
which has hitherto enabled me to earn for them not merely 
necessaries but many comforts, still to make my way plain 
before me. 

I think Harry will turn out a wonderfully clever youth, 
and that I did right, when good Mr. Rawlinson died, in strain- 
ing every nerve that the lad should go to King's College 
-School for a year. He will be seventeen next October, and 
then — Well, until then I will wait calmly : " Suflicient unto 
the day is" not only " the evil," but the anxious burden 
"thereof" We never know what lightening the morrow 
may bring. 

— I wrote yesterday this last line. There must have been 
a good angel standing by, and smiling while I wrote. Ah, 
no ! our '*' good angel" wore a human likeness — ^a likeness 
we all knew! I write this with tears of joy, not so much for 


having found again an old friend, but for having also found, 
what amidst all doubt I never wholly lost, my faith in the 
ideal of my youth. 

If from this moment I were never to set eyes on the " good 
anger' I spoke of; or if, harder still, eyes whose kindness I 
value were henceforth to rest on me in utter strangeness, for- 
getfulness, or dislike ; — I still should feel the happiness which I 
feel now. A happiness which being wholly without reference 
to myself, is as pure as that of some forced inconoclast, who, 
wakening from a miserable dream, sees the broken idol sitting 
unshattered and godlike fair, nay, sees the imaged marble 
changed into the visible Divinity. What matters it into 
what dim comer of the great world-temple one creeps, so 
that one knows the glorious presence is still abiding there ! 

— This is certainly a little piece of insanity, worthy of the 
Felicia Lyne of old : but it is only temporary ; I shall be 
" Miss Lyne the governess," to-morrow. 

After a day or two, I have leisure and quietness to write 
down the circumstance which has made such a change in the 
boys' future, and consequently in mine. 

It was the day of the prize distribution at King's College ; 
and Henry had taken his younger brother with him ** to see 
the fun," as he boldly called it — poor Harry ! though I no- 
ticed how pale he was all breakfast time — aware that his 
own fate hung upon the balance. Since, till their names are 
called out, none of the boys know who are the winners of 

I could not go, for pleasure must always yield to duty, in 
my profession ; and I had two music lessons to give that af- 
ternoon. Eeturning home I found to my surprise that the 
lads were not come in ; I should have been foolishly restless, 
only I knew Aleck's good sense, and how, had any disappoint- 
ment befallen his brother, no one could calm him better than 



Aleck coold. So I employed myself in seeing that dinner was 
all ready, and in making the room neat^— a weary business 
where there are two growing hoys. And I am getting such 
a fidgety, particular old maid — as Harry often tells me; 
though he always kisses me afterward, lest I should be vexed. 

— ^How long 1' am in coming to my story ! 

It was six in the evening, and I was growing thoroughly 
wretched and frightened, when I heard a knock, and a/oot 
that could be none but Harry's, leaping up-stairs (we live on 
the drawing-room floor now). In a minute, the lad burst in, 
all delight, and Aleck after him. 

" Oh ! sister, sister, only guess !" they both cried. 

" No ! don't let her guess," said a third voice ; and then I 
saw that a gentleman was with my boys. One — than whom 
I would sooner have expected to see an angel of .heaven 
standing in our room ! 

" I should have known your face any where, Miss Lyne, 
though I fear you have forgotten mine." — He was mistaken 
in both these things : but it did not signify. 

Very soon we had shaken hands cordially, and partly from 
Harry, partly from Aleck, I began to hear how my brothers 
had met with Sir Godfrey Kedwood. 

He, now a man of consideration, had been invited to the 
distribution ; there in the College Hall, he had heard called 
out the name of Henry Trevethlan Lyne ; and seeing my boy 
walk up to receive his well-earned prize, had made sure it 
was his old favorite. Afterward he had spoken to the lads, and 
they had told him our whole story. It was very diflerent 
from the one my step-mother had given him concerning us, 
some eight years ago. No wonder he had suffered us gradu- 
ally to drop out of his memory, unworthy a good man's 

He dined with us that day, though the proud boys were 
rather shocked that he should see our humble board. And 


all that evening, with the June sun slanting in upon his face 
— ^in which the former hoyish likeness gleamed strangely at 
times, though he is much changed by the thick mustache and 
beard he wears, foreign fashion— Sir Godfrey Hedwood sat 
talking, sometimes gayly, sometimes thoughtfully, with " Miss 
Lyne the governess," and her brothers. 

I saw in the first ten minutes, that despite his kind courtesy 
about knowing my face, he, too, was struck by the change 
which I so clearly perceive in myself; and that if the old 
" Felicia'' had not been long swept out from what could have 
been at best a mere boyish memory, the sight of " Miss Lyne" 
had now made it, and all belonging to it, irrevocably the 
past. It was well for me that I had discernment and strength 
of mind enough at once to assure myself of this, so that our 
future intercourse may be, as indeed it is, perfectly free and 
unembarrassed on either side. 

Sir Godfrey told us much of what had happened to himself 
since the days when he used to visit at the Square. It was the 
ordinary life of a young man of fortune, filled up with many 
extravagances and follies, all of i/irhich he owned so freely, that 
one could plainly discern — even if his whole countenance, 
bearing, and the accidental nothings by which we judge of 
character, had not confirmed the fact — ^that there had been in 
him no vice ; that the son of his proud and virtuous mother 
was, as I had long learnt from other sources, the stay and 
glory of the Redwood house. 

His '* wild oats,'* he said, had been sown early, abroad and 
at home, and he was now in the midst of manhood's grave 
and earnest career— the career of one who deeply felt, that as 
regarded talents, influence, and the power of doing good, to 
him much had been given, and of him much would surely 
be required. 

Harry asked him if he had been married ? to which he 
laughingly answered, " No, nor engaged either, though he had 


been in bye and out of loye at least a dozen times, as Master 
EUirry would himself ere long." 

Then, turning to me, he changed his tone to seriousness, 
and spoke of all the cares he had had with his younger 
brothers and sisters, and what a happy and noble mistress his 
mother made at Redwood Hall. " It would be long ere I 
should find a Lady Kedwood like her," added he smiling ; 
and then the conversation died. 

But now come9 that act of generosity, which I find my 
brother Henry and he had settled entirely between them- 
selves before ever the matter was confided to me, though of 
course my nominal consent was to be asked as a seal to the 

Sir Godfrey is about to proceed abroad as charge d'affaires 
at . He wishes to take with him Henry, who at seven- 
teen — ^nay sixteen, for it wants three months to his birth- 
day — is as manly-looking and manly-minded as many a 
youth of twenty. He said the boy should be his secretary, or 
attachi — some nominal office, through which I see clearly 
his generous purpose of taking all care for Harry's future en- 
tirely upon himself 

And Harry must go. It would break the lad's heart did 
I refuse. I have no right to let any foolish scruple stand in 
the light of this, the sole chance that may ever ofier of my 
darling brother's earning his bread and making his way in 
the world in the sole manner that his proud nature would 
ever thoroughly bend to— as a gentleman. Besides, as Sir 
Godfrey reminded me, this change in fortune only replaces 
Harry in the sphere where he was bom ; since — like water, 
the pure blood of the Trevethlans and the Lynes will always 
iind its own level. 

When he said so, I smiled, and in my turn reminded him 
that I was still " the governess." 
. " Well !" he answered, '* and what is more honorable than 


a governess, when she is a lady by birth, or at least by edu- 
cation, as all governesses ought to be ? What more noble 
than a woman who devotes her whole life to the sowing of 
good seed, the fruitage of which she may never see ? If I 
have a wife and children,*' here his eyes smiled with some 
dim, dawning thought, '* I will teach them, that after father 
and mother there is no one on earth to whom they owe such 
reverence as to her on whom depends the formation not only 
of their intellect, but of their whole mind and character. But, 
accordingly, I will take care that this model governess is 
worthy of the trust — a true lady, and more, a true laoman — 
in fact, just such a woman as you are yourself. Miss Lyne.'* 

I had no answer to that. I — his children's governess ! 

Still, it gives me comfort to think he should so honor the 
sisterhood to which I belong — ^unto which I had joined my- 
self in humiliated despair, until at last I began to wear my 
heavy chains as the badge of a worthy service, and to dis- 
cover that every governess has it in her power to make her- 
self, and with herself all her fraternity, reverenced and honor- 
able in the sight of the world. 

Henry is gone away — Henry, my noble, handsome boy ! 
my right hand and stronghold in the bitter days of adversity, 
which hardly seemed adversity when borne for him ! But, 
please God ! there is only prosperity in store for him now. 
Also, for me and little Aleck, still little, gentle, and pale. 
But Aleck shall go to college, if he likes, nevertheless ; for 
he too must be well educated, as is his brother. My mother's 
sons shall not be inferior in any way to the children who, I 
hear, cluster round my father's hearth, and will inherit his 
property. Well ! we envy them not. May they prove a 
comfort to his old age ! 

To-night Aleck and I have sat for the last time in our old 
lodgings, from which we are now removing nearer town. I 


can not walk so -well as I used to do, and we need better 
rooms, since the situation I have now obtained through Sir 
Godfrey Redwood, and which I have promised him to hold 
until he and Harry return home, is one of a higher class 'and 
higher salary than any I haye hitherto had. Think of my 
teaching a little Lady Anne ! 

She is the youngest daughter of a poor earl — ^I see he is 
poor for an earl ; but he lives in honest retirement, keeping 
within his means; which is doubtless the reason why Sir 
Godfrey honors him so much. I honor him too, and his three 
fair daughters, as cordially as if they had not " a handle" to 
their pretty Christian names. 

A quiet yet somewhat dull tea we had, Aleck and I ; and 
then we sat in the twilight, talking, and watching the shadows 
in the room, which now seems mean, yet once appeared to us 
magnificent, compared to the former back-parlor. The poor 
old room, which has seen so much! We almost grew sad to 
think we should no more watch the street-lamp's glimmer 
creeping in along the wall, so pleasant and dim — ^besides often 
saving us an hour or two of candle-light, in times when every 
small saving was of pathetic value. Ah ! the poor old room ! 

Soon we broke off talking of the past to speculate on the 
dawning future, and to wonder whether it would be two' 
years, three, or four ere Harry came back ! and if so, what a 
man he would be I — Especially when in the constant society 
of such a perfect gentleman as Sir Godfrey Redwood. Aleck 
quite envied him that ; for Aleck, with all his quietness, has 
an exquisite taste for the refinements of life. Nay, coming 
one day to fetch me home, he has quite fallen in love with my 
little Lady Anne, and I hear of nothing else from morning till 
night. The foolish boy ! Sixteen and five feet four to adore 
eleven and four feet nothing ! But Aleck is a young poet, 
and so, as I tell hun, must fain begin the usual destiny of 
poets — ^to be always in love ! 


Love I — ^Have I, even I, begun lightly to use that solemn 

Aleck is at last gone to bed, and I have taken away his 
candle, lest he should set the house on fire through reading 
novels, which would be a pretty climax to our long abiding 

I go up to my own room, and in its solitary silence think 
of many things, chiefly of the steamer which, under this same 
midnight moon, is floating down the broad Thames, and bear- 
ing with it my best treasures in this world — ^bearing them to 
a future, in which as regards neither, shall I have in time to 
come any share or claim. Both will ere long have taken to 
their hearts much nearer ties. To-night Aleck made me 
laugh, by prophesying that it would not be very many years 
before I dandled on my knees Harry's children : — and Sii 
Godfrey Kedwood gayly promised I should be governess to his ! 
All these jests will one day come true ; and then I — ^this one 
solitary I — 

No matter ! — May'st Thou, O God, receive the life-sacri- 
fice on which, year by year, I have thrown all that was love- 
ly and precious in my eyes, and so make the ofieriug — ^worth- 
less of itself-— sweet and acceptable in Thine ! 


Tliat boy Aleck ! that £x>li8h, comical, impreadble fel- 
low! — 

(This most have boen written two ye&n or more after the time 
when Harry went away, and I began to teach the Ladiea Airlie. I 
Bay '*the Ladies Airlie," becanse, in addition to my own pnpi], I 
nsed occasionally to give music-lesiions to Lady Dorothy and Lady 
If and. In fact, I was very much with them all ; more like a friend 
than a governess. Those two years were a bright portion of my life ; 
I was very happy (for me] ; so happy, that I scarcely eyer touched 
my journal.) — 

That boy Aleck will certainly go crazy after his little, god- 
dess ! He has had three other child-sweethearts in eighteen 
months, and now he has come back to ** my bonnie Ladie 
Ann." I can now hear him singing to himself that same bal- 
lad of Allan Cunningham's, fragments of which he indulges 
me at breakfast and tea, somthing about 

" The cherry lip, the creamy loof, 
Or the waist o* Lady Ann," 

generally going through the whole poem, until he gets to 

*' I am her father's gardener lad ;" 

at which he pauses, and looks as proud as if the ghosts of all 

the ancient Lynes and Trevethlans were peering out from 

the eyes of their young descendant. My patience aHve I (a 

harmless expletive that, though it seems ridiculous enough 

when written), what is to be done with the boy 1 

He wants sadly a little reality — ^some active, busy, earnest 

life, such as is led by his brother. How happy Harry seems! 

and how beautiful his letters are ! gradually toning down into 

manliness. I think on the whole, that though not so much 


of a dreamer, he will turn out a finer character than Aleck. 
But then Aleck is always with me, and one*s heart clings so 
closely to those that are away. " One's heart clings so closely 
to those that are away !" — How much truth there is in these 
words ! 

It was my. birthday yesterday; a fact which little Lady 
Anne coaxed out of me, seeing I looked rather grave. She 
also won from me another secret, which, indeed, I had no 
reason or design to keep — ^that I was thirty-one years old. 

Thirty-one years old ! — It is time I put up my " pretty, pretty 
curls,'' which, through a foolish fancy, I have carefully kept 
all these years. Nobody would ever be so blind as to call 
them " pretty" now ; and whatsoever I did with them, no- 
body would notice the change. So, to-morrow, I will begin 
wearing my hair quite plain, which is indeed much more 
suitable to any one who is no longer a girl. 

Lady Dorothy and Lady Maud both gave me birthday 
preseritfr-Hjuick, warm-hearted, impulsive gifts. Moreover 
which was better than the gift, Lady Maud kissed me, bend- 
ing over me with her silent, tall, graceful, white-lily-like air. 
I greatly admire Lady Maud. But merry, frank-spoken Lady 
Dorothy thought it a very dreadful thing to be thirty-one 
years old, especially when one was not married, and appar- 
ently did not intend to be ; which, she politely observed, was 
certainly Miss Lyne's own fault, and a very disgraceful de- 
termination, too ! 

I laughed, and Lady Maud, whose words, though rare, are 
always as fragrant as the perfume that comes out of a white- 
lily-cup — there my fantastic simile holds good !— Lady Maud 
said, " It mattered little : whether old or young, married oi 
unmarried, a woman like Miss Lyne was sure to be happy." 

Happy I — ^Alone, in my own home, I sit and ponder ovei 
that word. 


I go out into the world, and see other homes fall oi selfish- 
ness, misery, and strife : — ^mine is all peace ; there is never 
in it a shadow of disquiet or contention. Except, to he sure, 
when Aleck persists in sitting np writing poetry till two in 
the morning. 

I see around me restlessness, ennui, young lives wasted in 
doing nothing — ^until out of the dull void of an aimless exist- 
ence gradually forms a chaos, seething continually with all its 
elements of passion and of pain, from which nothing hut the 
touch of a Divine hand will ever evolve a perfect olb. Now, 
nvy life — steadily rolling on, with rarely a moment left for 
weariness or regret, every day hringing its duties, and every 
night closing them^in rest-— would I change ? — ^No. 

Young people come to me with their troubles, especially 
love- troubles ; poor frenzied strugglers through the seas which 
all must cross ; dashed firom rock to rock, of fate, or folly, or 
wrong, each one thinking there is in the whole world no other 
sufierer, at least no greater sufierer, than he. I sit and listen 
so quietly, am sorry for all, and try to help all ; while my 
outward smile creeps peacefully into my own inward heart, 
with a consciousness that there are some portions of the solemn 
life-journey which no one ever has to pass through twice. 

Yes, I think Lady Maud's chance saying was true ; I be- 
lieve I am truly " happy." 

Was there not an ancient sage who said, '^ No man can be 
pronounced truly happy until he dies V* 

— Who would have thought it ? who could have told % So 
unexpected) too ! But, as Aleck was saying only that very 
day, every thing in the fortunes of our family seems to happen 
suddenly. We two were sitting at tea, on Good Friday, of 
all days in the year : I thinking what I should do during a 
week of entire holiday, and Aleck rather glum, because, 
though Lady Dorothy had called him '* her poet-laureate" — 


Lady Maud had said, in her gracious and gentle way, what 
good a little country air would do to a delicate boy — and little 
Lady Anne had openly declared she would a&k her godmother, 
Mrs. B^edwood, to invite him with them to Dorsetshire ; — 
still Easter was come, and they had all gone down, save, alas ! 
poor Aleck, to Redwood Hall. 

I had told the hoy it was a foolish dream, and. that, despite 
" all the blood of all the Howards," i. e. the Trevethlans, and 
all the gentle humility of the impoverished, noble household, 
there Mras a great difierence between them and us ; that he 
was still but a college-student, and brother of ** the govern^ 
ess." But at eighteen one does build such airy palaces! 
" Every man his own Aladdin," as I said merrily. " Youths 
running about barefoot and contented, each with the lamp in 
his bosom." 

Aleck laughed, declaring I was growing quite poetical ; so, 
just for fun, and to pass time away, we began speculating 
what we each would do, had we the lamp or the ring. 

My foolish boy quickly built in imagination a palace, very 
Aladdinish, on the banks of Windermere (whither I had man* 
aged to send him after his illness last autumn) ; and was just 
creating a princess to put into it, which princess strongly re- 
sembled a full-grown Lady Anne — when he recollected I had 
not had my turn. 

He said, " Now, sister, what would you wish for ?" 

I was silent a moment, remembering the days when I used 
to wish " at the moon ;" but I am not so simple now. So I be- 
gan to build my Aladdin-palace of real stones — possibilities. 

" Then, Aleck, I think if \tre were sitting just as we are 
— I am sure we are very cwnfortable — and if, instead of 
Henry's next letter, which $mght to come this week, there 
were to come — " 


I smiled, and was going on, when — I can only state, not 


explain, the odd coincidence — ^there vas a loud, sadden knock 
at the ftreet-door. Following the knock, came the old quick- 
bounding footstep — ^three stain at a time — ^and Harry was in 
the room! 

Ay, my own Harry, my real Harry ! though he was six 
feet high, with a deep, firm voice, and an awful mustache and 
beard ; — ^though he lifted his little old sister right up into his 
anns, frightening her almost out of her seven senses, and by 
his foreign and stylish appearance so awed Aleck that for the 
first minute or two, the lad hardly ventured to speak to his 
brother — still — he was our own Harry ! 

I had, I thank God ! such entire joy in seeing him, such 
perfect home-delight, that I never once thought whether 
Harry had come here alone. 

He had done so, as he very soon told us; Sir Godfrey 
having gone down at once to Redwood Hall. 

We had tea a second time for our Harry— the old pleasant 
tea-making, which he seemed to enjoy so much, and remember 
so tenderly. He even reminded me of the winter nights when 
I used to stretch over between him and Aleck, lying like lazy 
puppies on the hearth, and make the toast by the parlor-fire. 
My dear Harry ! — 

He has grown up a perfect gentleman : how could he else, 
under the influence of such a friend ? Better than all, my boy 
has kept his own pure heart, only guided into experience by 
one that is not only pure but wise. 

In every way Sir Godfrey Redwood has fulfilled his trust, 
and Henry's attachment to him knows no bounds. That my 
brother, my darling brother, should owe every thing to the 
man whom I always held to be the best man on earth — ^is not 
this happiness ? A happiness, that perhaps is better, deeper, 
truer, than what I might have deemed such, once ! 

Harry says that Sir Godfrey Redwood is very well in 
health, and full of joy at coming home. He sent likewise a 


kind message to Harry's sister, saying I should hear from him 

I have heard we are all to go down on a three days' visit 
to Redwood Hall. I would fain have declined, being, as I 
told the boys, half-frightened at the Honorable Anne Red- 
wood, whom I have never seen since the days when I visited 
her as a " young lady at home." She might be proud toward 
Miss Lyne the governess. But my two brothers, who seem 
to have fairly taken rule over me, will hear no excuse. 

Besides, Henry longs for the Dorsetshire shooting, and, as 
he told me privately, desires to hear more of a plan which 
Sir Godfrey has all but settled for his future career, in which 
hC; Henry Trevethlan Lyne, is to bring great honor back to 
the old family. God bless the hand that makes my boy so 
happy ! 

Also, Aleck is urgent for the visit. He knows he shall 
meet there his two great patronesses — Lady Dorothy and 
Lady Maud, to say nothing of his child-goddess, his '* bonnie 
Lady Ann." For me, I shall meet — 

But I shall meet likewise, what every where has encom- 
passed and sustained me — the strength, counsel and guard of 
Him who has never forsaken me, nor will forsake me, even 
unto the end. 

The first day and night of our visit are over. 

We arrived just half an hour before dinner : and I saw no 
one till I had descended. I was nervous and trembling ; it 
was ten years since I had been on a visit any where, at least 
in such a stately house as this. It was a positive terror to 
me to descend the stairs, until at the foot I perceived some 
one waiting for me. At first I drew back— till I saw it was 
only Harry, my own kind Harry. 

He laughed at me merrily ; and I went in the drawing-room 


quite bold and proud— oh ! so proud ! leaning on my boy's 

I can not tell much about the meeting, except that Mrs. 
Redwood was very gracious, even tender, for her ; that she 
said I was scarcely at all altered (ah ! but she only saw me 
by lamp-light, and with her feeble, aged eyes), and that, what 
touched me most, she called me by my girl-name, Felicia, 

For her son, he could not be otherwise than kind. 

When dinner was announced. Sir Godfrey lefl Lady Maud, 
with whom he was conversing, and took me down stairs. I 
did not expect that. From her smile, I think she must have 
told him to do it ; showing me by this courtesy that I still held 
my old position in society. If so, it was a gentle and generous 
act, like Lady Maud. Once in the evening, when a cluster 
of the family-party was gathered round the fire, Sir Godfrey 
telling us some story of his life abroad, and Lady Maud stand- 
ing to listen, her elbow resting on the bw marble chimney-piece 
— it seemed to me that the ** white garden lily*' looked like that 
flower when the sun comes by and shines upon it, making it not 
only pure but thoroughly translucent with beauty and delight. 

I wonder, did any one else see her with my eyes ? 

This morning after breakfast, Sir Godfrey Redwood asked 
me to walk with him, that he might show me the conserva- 
tories ; and there, sitting down under a fair orange-tree, with 
the sun shining in upon all sorts of gorgeous flowers he has 
brought home from abroad, he talked with, me long and 
seriously of the future — of my brother's future. 

He says, that he intends entering public life under the new 
ministry, and that Harry, now more than twenty years old, 
shall be his secretary, or have a government appointment, as 
may be. The hay is able and willing to carve out his own 
fortunes now ; and will be placed where he need not dread that 
one word — which Sir Godfrey never uses — -patronage. He 
will be independent, too, though not rich ; and as I said« 


Henry and I between us can give Aleck what he desires-^ 
a college education, to fit him for the Church; so that, in 
every way, the path before us is straight. 

And here came in Sir Godfrey's generosity, which I can 
hardly think of without tears. 

He asked me about my health — if I were happy — if I 
should not be lonely when Aleck was at Cambridge — -and if, 
as my younger brother's college expenses could easily be man- 
aged (ah ! I knew how !), I would consent to give up teach- 
ing, and, just till Harry wanted me to keep his house, settle 
in a protty little cottage there was near Redwood Hall ? He 
said all this with some confusion and hesitation ; but — ^let me 
quite assure myself of that fact — only the hesitation of a deli- 
cate generosity to which the mere act of seeming to bestow 
favors is a pain. 

For me, if I were somewhat agitated, he would easily at- 
tribute it to a similar cause. 

I answered, that I had always lived independent, and 
tvished it to be so to the end ;— that it was much better I 
should still remain a governess. Only, as I had rather be 
with those I loved than with strangers, perhaps he would use 
his influence that I might stay permanently with Lady Anne. 

When I said " use his influence," he half smiled ; then 
looked sad, and said gravely that he had no influence in the 
Airlie family, except as an ordinary friend. 

(Then, things are not yet quite afe I imagined !) Sir Grodfrey, 
after a pause, continued the conversation. With true deli- 
cacy, he did not oppose my wish ; and I shall still earn my 
own bread honorably and usefully. It is far the best : an idle 
life would kill me. Work, constant work, is the sustainer, 
cheerer, and physician of the soul. 

9ut that fact alters not the noble kindness of this most 
noble man, kindness of which I can hardly write or speak, 
but which I shall remember while I live. 


After our talk we joined the others, until I came up sofUy 
into my own room, to be quiet and rest. 

Henry provided for — placed where his career through life 
lies, humanly speaking, in his own hands ; Aleck given his 
heart's desire : how happy my two hoys will be. And how 
thankful, solemnly and deeply thankful, am I ! 

Sitting at my little Gothic window, I can see him — ^I mean 
Sir Godfrey — ^walking on the lawn, with Lady Dorothy and 
little Lady Anne. How happy he looks ; happy as a man 
must be who difiuses happiness wherever he sets his foot. 
Such a man I knew he would become ! God bless him— r 
God evermore bless him ! And what does it signify how far 
off one stands from great treasures, eternally, set aside, when 
one knows of a certainty that the gold has not become dim, 
that the fine gold will never change ! 

" Bonnie Ladie Ann*' comes this instant bounding in at 
my door, discomposing all my thoughts. She is a thorough 
little elf of mischief ; nobody would ever dream she was an 
earFs daughter. Nothing will serve her now but that I must 
come into the chestnut alley, where Sir Godfrey has had put 
up for her a most aerial and magnificent swing ; where, 
moreover, he is actually going to swing her himself, and the 
merry, frolicsome Lady Dorothy too. They say I must go, if 
only to play propriety among such madcaps. 

So I must just finish my journal in the afternoon. 

*' In the afternoon'' — ^these are the last words I find writ- 
ten down in the journal so long put aside. 

Since then, many, many afternoons — ^inany days, weeks* 
months — have gone by ; and out of it all I wake, as out of a 
nightmare dream, to Kve the remainder of my life — how^] — 
God knoweth ! 

I think it will do me good to write down a plain account 


of the strange things which happened, beginning from that 
moment — ^which the sight of these pages causes to seem fresh 
as yesterday — ^when 1 laid them safely by, the ink scarce dry, 
took the child's hand, and, almost as gay as a child myself, 
ran with Lady Anne to the chestnut alley. 

I had always a great love for the sight of chestnut trees in 
spring. These were very beautiful — great towering pyra- 
mids of soft green, for they had not yet come into flower. I 
remember Sir Godfrey showed me a bud, and reminded me 
of my once saying, in my girlish nonsense, that if I ever own- 
ed a park, I would plant it all over with horse-chestnut trees. 
At which both I and they all laughed — we were merry 
enough to laugh at every thing. For me, it seemed as if a 
spell were over me; some sunny reflex from my former days. 
Once I quite started at the sound of my own mirth ; nay, 
even Sir Godfrey Redwood turned round, and said cordially 
and merrily, " Why, that's right I You are laughing just 
like Felicia Lyne." 

From this strange excitement I can only account for my 
doing — what in a staid old maid and a governess might seem 
rather out of place — namely, that I joined in the frolic, and 
sufiered myself to be persuaded to take my turn with Lady 
Dorothy and Lady Anne in the swinging, an amusement of 
which in my girlish days I used to be passionately fond. 

It made all those girlish days come back again : I cav 
feel it now — the wild delight of flying through the air every 
minute higher and more daring, touching the leaves of lofty 
boughs, which nothmg touched but the birds ; sweeping back- 
ward — forward — ^with my bonnet falling off", and my hair 
dropping over my face ; hearing Lady Dorothy clap her 
hands, and little Lady Anne scream with delight. Even 
Sir Godfrey, forgetting himself, cried "Bravo, Felicia ! "enter- 
ing into the scene with all the excitement of a boy. 

I remember, too, that he said something about " swinging 


me straight, on account of tHe tree" — an old withered trunk 
that stood near, rather in the way ; and that I laughed at 
the notion of danger, when ?ie was there. 

So I was dashed on from height to dizzy height, his great 
strength urging me forward, till once, when his hand was on 
the rope, little Lady Anne cried out suddenly — 

"There's Maud!" 

I felt the swing sweep forward aslant, then a heavy crush- 
ing bloW'— Klarkness — ^and no more. 

When many hours, nay, days, afterward, my right senses 
came into me again, I awoke to the knowledge, kept from 
me for a long time, yet gradually revealed, that I should be 
disfigured and crippled for life. 

The only bahn to this misfortune, was the consciousness 
whose hand had unwittingly caused it all. 

(Writing this sentence, and confessing this thought, I feel 
to be selfish ; yet it was true.) 

I believe Sir Godfrey Redwood was for many days almost 
out of his mind with grief. He could not feel what I did — 
that any thing coming from him, was to me far less bitter 
than had it come from any one else. And, as even my two 
poor distracted boys must have seen at once, and did see — 
the whole circumstance was so entirely an accident. 

Of course, I can not recollect any thing of the time when 
my life was in danger ; and every one has appeared reluctant 
to speak of it to me afterward. Only, as I now and then hear, 
it was a terrible time to them all. It seems very strange to 
think of the Redwoods and Airlies hanging, as it were, on 
my breath — such a frail, useless breath as mine. 

— I write this account in pauses, as my strength is still not 


Tt is always painful to dwell on sickness; and in this 


mournful world we ought never to give to ourselves or others 
a single unnecessary pain. I shall quite pass over my long 
illness ; out of which I woke, and found the harvest ripened, 
and the reapers reaping, around Redwood Hall. 
' It was exactly like wakening into a new world. Only, 
not that world into which, I pray God, I may one day 
awake, to he, instead of what I am now, evermore heautiful, 
active, and full of joy. 

The first time I quitted my room was quite like a tri- 
umphal procession ; for all the Ladies Airlie had come down 
Vrora London to see me : indeed, Lady Maud had heen more 
or less at Redwood Hall the whole time. Sir Godfrey's pub- 
lic duties kept him much from home, which was a blessing ; 
vt must have been great torture to him, to come back while 
I was miserably lying there. They would not let me see 
viim all the while. 

Therefore, our first interview occurred when I was compar- 
itively well. I was alone when he came in — he had begged 
that it might be so — and — ^but my heart fails me when I re- 
collect those two hours. 

" Forgiveness I" — ^forgiveness from me ! That, looking in 
my face, which much Suffering must have changed consider- 
ably and doubtless made quite old, he should have burst into 
such uncontrollable agony ! That he sK uld have kissed my 
poor, thin right-hand — the only one he could kiss — and that 
I should have laid it on his head — his noble head ! — telling 
him I was quite happy, and regretted nothing, except that I 
could no longer be a governess. 

He seemed to shudder at the word, and passionately as- 
sured me that I should never want any thing his whole for- 
tune could bestow — that his own sister should not be more 
honored, or regarded more tenderly than I. 

— I am qvite sure, and was then, that the word " sister** 
burst from him instinctively, as being the very impulse and 


ecHo of his thoughts. It was well that I noted this, other* 
wise, fxom the passionate emotion of his whole manner undei 
the agony of such a time, I might, as has happened often to 
weak women, have been somewhat led astray, so as to form 
erroneous conclusions. 

Afterward, when he had become more himself, and his 
mother and Lady Dorothy had joined us, he insisted on taking 
Harry's place, and carrying me into the other drawing-room. 
I could say nothing, being very much exhausted. And so it 
happened, that while he was holding me, I fainted in his 
arms. I believe, for an hour, they all thought I was dead ; 
I wish — but no ! I will not utter that sinful longing. 

After I had recovered, I was left to sleep ; ay, and did 
sleep, heavily too, for a long time. 

Waking at length, it was to an atmosphere of such twi- 
light dimness and silence, that I hardly recognized my own 
room. My brain must still have been somewhat confused, as 
I remember thinking I was really dead, and lying quite still 
and motionless, like a corpse, until gradually I gathered up 
my ideas. 

The white curtains were closely drawn, so that I could see 
nothing ; but I began to distinguish a soft sound of talking, 
and to recollect that I had gone to sleep, with those two kind 
girls — ^in whom it was the least of fheir nobility that they 
were an earl's daughters — sitting by my bedside. 

Lady Dorothy was speaking in a whisper, but still with 
that strong energy which, as in all impulsive characters, con- 
tinually gleamed through her mirth. 

" I tell you, Maud, as I told him this day, he ought.'* 

" If * he ought,* and thinks so himself. Sir Godfrey will 
probably do it : he 'always does what is right,'* was the 
answer, very slow and quiet, even for Lady Maud. 

'* It would be right ; it is what a generous man ought to 
do ; it is the4)nly reparation he can make her. I told him so." 


«* And what did he say V* 

" Nothing ! he seemed shocked — stunned, as if he had 
never thought of it hefore. Yet it is not such a wonderful 
thing. If her health returns, even lame as she is, and will 
be always, he might have a worse wife than Felicia Lyne/' 

"Hush! softer!" 

But the caution was too late ; I heard all clearly now : 
for which, most earnestly I now thank God ! 

" So you think,'' said Maud, tremulously — " so you really 
think she cared for him ? He once confessed that, long ago, 
when he wets quite a boy, he was half in love with her. 
And any one whom he loved or who loved him — Yes ; I am 
glad you told him he ought to marry her." 

Then again fell around me the silence — the twilight 
gloom — almost like that of the grave ; but crossed by float- 
ing shadows as of another world. 

In the midst of it, I heard Lady Maud softly rise, and go 
out ; and then I called to Lady Dorothy, said I had wakened 
much better, and bade her go down stairs. 

Next morning I heard accidentally that Sir Godfrey Red- 
wood had been obliged to leave hastily for town. I do not 
know any thing more that passed in the household : all things 
to me seemed a strange, dizzy dream ; and I noticed no one 
but Lady Maud. 

The " white lily" never bent nor drooped ; but looked wan- 
like, as though in the coming shadow of its life's first storm 

Two or three days afler then, when I was beginning to 
feel myself again, I received a letter from Sir Godfrey Red- 
wood. It contained an ofier of his hand. 

All in it was said nobly, frankly, truly. He told me — 
what I was glad to know — that he had loved me, boyish- 
fashion, for a little while, until circumstances made our paths 


80 difierent ; and a man can not live upon a dream, as some- 
times women do. He made no allusion to my loving him, or 
his loving me, now ; but merely ofiered me his hand, with 
the promise of spending his whole life in honoring me and in 
securing my happiness. 

My happiness ! As if I would have accepted a whole life- 
time of joy, did it cost him one sacrifice, one regret ! 

I answered his letter, saying, not untruly, that I had long 
given up all thoughts of marrying ; and that it would be 
much better for us both that he should still hold me, in the 
words he had lately used, as his " sister. '' There was no 
need to say any more. 

In so doing I took counsel of no one, told no one, except 
Lady Maud. To her I mentioned the mere facts of his let- 
ter and of mine, that she might know how nobly he had act- 
ed. She listened quite silently, as she sat by my bedside^ 
only I saw, for one of the few times in her life, her falling 
tears : then she left me to sleep. I did not sleep, but lay all 
night quiet and happy, happier than for many years, think- 
ing a little of this world, but more of the world to come— ot 
my mother — and of God. 

The next day Sir Godfrey Redwood wrote me a long, afiec- 
tionate, brother-like letter, pledging himself to that afiection 
which I desire to keep, and believe I shall keep, to my dying 

— ThQ day afler that, he came home. Lady Maud and 
my two brothers were with me when he entered. He met 
me with cordial tenderness and joy, and when his eye fell on 
the " white lily**— 

I need not say more, but that that happened which 
was sure and right to happen ; — ere the week ended, we 
all knew that there would be at last a Lady Eedwood of 
Redwood Hall. 


I have thus told all that has happened within this year, 
which has now eircled round to its close. 

In the early spring, Lady Maud Airlie will become Sir 
Grodfrey's wife : and Mrs. Kedwood will necessarily form a 
new establishment. She has asked me to come and live 
with her, at all events for a year or two ; but I had rather 
go home — to the quiet and comparatively humble home made 
for me by my dear Harry. I can not tell clearly how things 
are settled, as since I have been ill, he and Sir Godfrey 
do with me as they please. I only know that Harry says, 
** Sister, come home ;'' I shall go to him, and be at rest. 

With this year begins a new life, if indeed I live, as the 
physicians say I may — and as I would desire, though from 
the only reason, that my living on for a few years longer 
might save from pain him with whom my death would leave 
a continual pang. But, in any case, I shall write my journal 

" No more !" — Well ! a resolution kept for fifteen years 
may be considered sufficiently strong : and so now, having all 
but crossed the half-century of existence, I may be at liberty 
to finish my journal. 

I don't think, though, that I ever shall find time to finish 
it. All the day I am as busy as busy can be ; and besides, 
how 1san one write with the nursery overhead, and hearing 
through the ceiling the pattering feet of such a host of little 
Lynes ? If Auntie can not run about the house, they can, 
goodness knows ! The mamma of them had need to be the 
sensible, energetic woman she is — Mrs. Henry Trevethlan 

I wrote down once, in strange foreboding, the old heathen 


apothegm, " No man can be called tnily happy until he dies.*' 
I add to it now the Christian saying, " No man can be called 
truly unhappy until he dies." That is, so long as God gives 
life. He also gives the possibility of enduring and even enjoy- 
ing it. 

I did not learn to think so all at once, and even now I 
have occasional fits of depression, hard enough to bear ; but 
my abiding sense is that of great peace, cheerfulness, and 
thankfulness. Some people even go the length of calling the 
little sitting-room, where of necessity I am much confined, 
the " Bird's Nest,'* from its being an atmosphere so cheery, 
pleasant, and warm. — Of which title I, the owner bird, am 
mightily proud. 

It was some years before I regained the use of my left 
arm ; and even now I can scarcely manage to walk. But 
my darling Harry was to me from the first as "feet to 
the lame ;" and since he married, I have gradually gained 
six pain of little trotters, all at my service from morning till 
night : so I sit in as lazy state as an eastern empress. 

Only, at intervals, finding it impossible to be idle, I give 
up *' the empress," and turn once more governess, quite in 
amateur fashion, with no other salary than kisses. With 
this excuse, I gather into my bird's nest whole flocks of young 
folk, not only our own tribe, but those of other people. In 
this way there came to me last week, as they do not seldom, 
the little Godfrey and Anne Redwood. I think, after all, I 
love those two children best ! 

Lady Dorothy — ^poor and portionless as she was — has 
gained a strawberry-leaf coronet ; but "little Lady Anne" is 
still Lady Anne Airlie. Time enough! — and except that 
such a climax would be quite too romantic, save in a story — 
I have now and then vague notions that when Aleck gets — 
what Sir Godfrey Eedwood tells me he is quite sure of ere 


long, we might possibly hear of " the Dean of So-and-so and 
Lady Anne Lyne." 

Mentioning Sir Godfrey's name, I can but add to it — what 
all the world adds — a blessing. May that blessing follow 
him, as such a noble man deserves, to his life's end. 

I have no more to say. 



% Mt^ €a\u 



X mtttUutt mn Slooiu 



" I WONDER at ye, Mistress Thomas Learmont. It's no 
canny to do sic a thing." 

*VWhat mean ye, my gudemither ?'' wearily answered the 
person addressed — a woman, young and gentle looking. Her 
figure was wrapped in a coarse mantle of Lowland plaid, and 
her head-dress was a humbly-fashioned imitation of that we 
see in the likenesses of Queen Mary Stuarts StiU, fair wo- 
manhood transcends all quaintness of costume, and Mistress 
Thomas Learmont was very comely to behold. 

" Gudemither's a coarse word; ye ought to say *Dame 
Learmont* to your husband's mither," stiffly observed the an- 
cient gentlewoman. " But I was gaun to speak to ye anent 
yourwark there." 

" Aweel !" softly said the younger lady — a lady in form 
and nature, though possibly not quite " a lady bom." As she 
spoke, the color came into her face, and she looked with eyes 
wherein shone a heavenly light on her handiwork — ^the last 
crowning handiwork of her mother-joy. She had been ban- 
ishing the cobwebs and dust from an old oaken cradle, and 
hiding its worm-eaten holes with white curtains tied with 


*' Ance mair, I wonder at ye/' sharply repeated Dame 

The poor young creature looked troubled. " I \mh. ye*d 
tell me your m^d, my leddy. I*m but a puir peasant lassie, 
and dinna ken a' ye ken." 

" I said that when my son married ye. But ye needna 
greet, Marion — let byganes be byganes/' added the old lady, 
growing more pacified. " It'll a' come richt when I hae the 
bonnie bairn in my arms. And that minds me o* what I was 
gaun to say. Ye foohsh lassie, I marvel ye daur put on the 
wee cradle sic braws as these.'' 

" What's wrang, gudemither ?" 

"It's the green, Marion, the green;" answered Dame 
Learmont, in a mysterious voice. " Wad ye put ae thing 
that's green near your bairn, and you a Grahame ?" * 

" I am no a Grahame now," said the young wife, with a 
gentle smile. 

** But there's the old blude in ye still, ye canna change 
that (mair's the pity) ;" added the mother-in-law. " And if 
it were not sae, do ye no ken the blude o' whilk comes your 
husband 1" 

** Na, na," sighed the young woman, absently ; and her ear 
was bent intently to catch every footfall that might reach the 
dilapidated chamber where they sat. 

"Your husband, Marion Grrahame, comes frae ane that 
nae mortal grave bauds this day. Did ye never hear o' True 
Thomas — ^Thomas Learmont — ^Thomas the Rhymer of Er- 
cildoun ?" 

"Gude save us!" muttered Marion. 

" Him that wonned into-^-the land ye ken o' t — for seven 
lang years, and came back ; then was sent for by the gude 

'i^ Green, the fairies' color, is always fatal to be worn, especially by 
the Grahames. 

t It ia counted unlucky to mention the furies or Fairyland by Atme. 


folk, and never seen mair. Frae Mm, after many genera- 
tions, came his namesake, Thomas Learmont, your bairn's 
father. Axid yet ye daur to tie the cradle wi' gt^en \" 

The old woman advanced and attempted "with her feeUe 
hands to undo the ill-omened ribbons, -when a shadow passing 
the window — for it was.twilight — ^made young Mrs. Learmont 
start and scream. 

" Ye*re a foolish lassie, flitched wi' ony thing. It*s only 
Daft Simmie o' the hiU at his sangs. Hear till him." 

And the old woman, whose superstition seemed only to 
make her more strong and fearless— even in these days con- 
fessed ghost believers are often bolder than spiritual skeptics, 
who deny because they inwardly tremble to admit — the old 
Woman grasped her daughter-in-law's arm and made her sit 
quiet, listening to the wild but not unmusical boyish voice, 
singing fragments of a Border ballad : 

" High upon Hielanda and laigh upon Tay, 
Bonnie George Campbell rade out on a day. 
He saddled, he bridled, and gallant rade he, 
And hame came his gude horse — ^but never cam he 1'' 

** Oh, gudemither !" cried the yoiing wife at the latter om- 
inous words ; and once more she listened for footsteps, or 
horse's tramp. 

"The gloaming's unco dark," Marion whispered: "the 
three tops o' Eildon Hill look like ane i' the mist. Isna my 
husband lang o' oomin ?" 

" Hand your tongue, Mistress Thomas, ye're no fit for 
a Border wife. My son sail come and gang as it pleases 

*' Aweel, aweel," again patiently sighed the young creature, 
and played with the ribbons of the yet empty cradle, until 
the voice of Daft Simmie made her start once more. 

It was other verses of the same ballad, sung in shrill tones 
just under the window. 


" Out cam his mither deur, greeting fu' sair, 
Oat own hia bonnie bride, relying her hair, 
The meadow lies gpreen, and the com is unshorn, 
Bat boxmie George Campbell will neyer return. 

" He saddled, he bridled, and gallant rade he, 
A plume in his helmet, a sword at his knee ; 
But hame cam his saddle, all blnidy to see. 
And hame cam his gude horse — but never cam he 1" 

Hardly had ceased the song, which in the gathering darkness 
sounded ahnost like an eldrich scream — when as if in strange 
coincidence, the clatter of a horse's hoofs came nearer and 

*' It's himsel, it's himsel !" cried the young wife, as she 
leant out of the window, beneath which the animal appar- 
ently stopped. 

He stopped — the good roan — ^the last valuable possession 
of the impoverished Learmonts — ^stopped of his own accord, 
for he was riderless ! 

A wild scream of despair burst from the unfortunate 
Marion, and she was carried into her chamber insensible. — 
Ay, even to a mother's throes. 

Dame Learmont was of the ancient race of Border- women, 
fearless as the men ; she uttered no shriek, even when she 
saw that her son was missing ; — such things were common 
enough in those days. The descendants of True Thomas 
had changed from seers and rhymers into men of warfare : — 
Ishmaelites, whose hand was against many, and many a 
hand lifled perpetually against them. The mother guessed 
what had happened ;-^that in some- sudden fray Learmont 
had. been thrown from his horse, wounded or — though even 
her bold spirit quailed at the latter fear — dead. 

''He gaed ower Eildon Hill this morn," mused she ; '* and 
at noon there cam by Willie o* the Muir, wi* Geordie 
Grahame, Marion's cousin, that bears her husband nae gude 


will. If they hae foughten there'll be bluid oa the roan, 
1*11 gang an' see." 

She left her daughter-in-law's couch and went near the 
horse, who still stood under the window, shivering in every 
limb, his mouth and flanks white with foam. But there 
were on him neither wounds nor blood ; his accoutrements 
were not disordered; and, except for the overwhelming ter- 
ror that seemed to possess him, there had evidently come no 
harm to the animal. Nay, even the small burdens fastened 
to his back were safe ; as well as a leathern pouch of money 
that had been thrust under the pommel of the saddle. 

" Greordie Grahame or Willie Muir wadna hae passed this 
by," ironically said Dame Learmont. " It must be o' his 
dn will that my son stays. Yet's that no likely, consider- 
ing his puir wife in her trouble ; and this being Hogmanay 
nicht too— an eerie and awsome nicht to be abroad." 

As the mistress spoke, some of the farm-servants trembled 
and looked over their shoulders, while others examined the 
horse's disordered mane and tail. 

'* Maybe, they hae been riding him — ^the wee folk. Eh, 
neighbors, look ye here ?" whispered one man, showing in 
the good roan's mane the knots which are called elf-locks, 
and are supposed to be plaited by the fairies, who often have 
a mind to ride on mortal coursers. 

Dame Learmont's eyes glittered, as if she felt more 
pride than dread in the uncanny reputation belonging to her 

" It's likely eneuch," she said mysteriously. " The * gtcde 
neighbors* will be abroad this nicht, as we a' ken ; and my 
son Thomas bears his great Ancestor's christened name. It 
is maybe nae mortal wark that keeps him sae lang frae 

" Gude save us I" " Lord hae mercy upon us !" cried 
the servants in various tones of fright, eying their mistress 



with oolisiderable distrust. But though she evidently had 
no dislike to bear the credit of supernatural powers, still she 
was not disregardful of all human means that could explain 
the absence of her son. She called the farm-foUowers and 
questioned them closely, but none could give any information. 

"Ye see," the brave old lady added, driven at last to 
circumstantial evidence, "nae harm can hae-befa'en him. 
He wasna fechting, or he wad hae stickit dose to Red Roan. 
An' he hasna been torn frae the saddle, but has lichted doun 
o' his ain accord. Na, na, sirs ; there was surely ne'er a 

Her resolute voice was answered by an idiotic whine be* 
hind the crowd ; and immediately afterward Dafl Simmie 
broke out in one of his queer quavering songs — 

" There were twa lads fechtin' on Eildon Hill, 
With a hey, and a ho, and a hoodie craw ; 
The tane the tither's bluid did spill, 
Ho I ho, says the hoodie craw." 

"There's meanin* in it," whispered the servants. "There's 
aye a meanin' in Daft Simmie's sangs, and he sees sights the 
whilk nane ither folk can see." 

But the stout-hearted mistress reproved them, and catch- 
ing hold of the lad, tried to compel him to plain speech. It 
was in vain ; Simmie was either too foolish or too wise. Not 
another word could be got out of him, and soon the " gude- 
mither" was si^mmoned back from her inquiries concerning 
her son to the more imminent peril of his wife. 

It was just betwixt the night and the day, at the precise 
hour which forms the boundary mark of the old and new 
year, that the child came into the world ; a remarkable period 
of birth, being the hour at which, according to the supersti- 
tions of many countried, the unseen world of spiritual beings 
are supposed to have most power. At any other time, the 
" auld wves" might have been struck by this fact ; but now 


the whole household -was smitten vnih such deep grief and 
confusion, that no one noted so unimportant an! event as the 
hirth of a child to the man whom they were beginning to 
conjecture had been that day murdered. Truly, had it been 
a boy, the unhappy young mother might well have christened 
her new-born " JBen-oni"-^** the son of my sonpw." But 
she had not even the comfort of knowing it to be a son, born 
to avenge his father ; it was, as the indignant Dame Lear- 
mont expressed it— r" nae lad-bairn : just a puir, wee, skirl- 
ing lassie." 

It was put into the cradle — where the green ribbons still 
remained — ^the old grandmother was too busy and excited to 
heed them now. There the poor little morsel of humanity 
lay ; while Dame Learmont, now somewhat at rest respect- 
ing her duties to mother and child, began to arrange a plan 
for finding out, dead or alive, her lost son. 

Marion hindered her little, for the poor girl had never re- 
covered her right wits. She lay in a dreamy unconsciousness 
until the child began to cry out from its httle cradle. Then 
her poor white lips foimd speech. 

''Gie me the bairti," she murmured ; "Gie me my bairn.' 

It was touching, the emphasis on the '' my*^ — the first in 
stinct of possession. I have heard women and mothers sa} 
that this instinct, dawning at such a time, was the most 
delicious joy they had experienced during life. 

" Gie me my bairn," again wailed the half-conscious Mar 
ion ; and the child was given to her. 

" Ye needna mal( sic a giming and greeting ower it," mut 
tered the old woman ; probably embittered beyond her won* 
by suppressed anxiety concerning her son. " It*s no anithei 
Thomas Learmont. It's only a lassie." 

Marion took no heed. She lay with her white fluttering 
fingers pressed near the baby's face, talking sleepily to her 


" Mither, mither, are ye there ?" 

"Ay, ay, lass," answered Dame Learmont: but a mo* 
ment's observation showed her that the sick girFs thoughts 
were not with her at all. 

" My mither, my ain mither," continued Marion, feebly ; 
" I ken ye're thinking o' me now, though ye*re lying cauld 
under the mools. Ye are glad it's a lass-bairn ; and sae am 
I. 1*11 call it by your ain name ; it's a bonnie name— Alice 
— ^my bairn Alice." 

There sounded something supernatural in these wanderings 
of a bewildered mind. The old woman stood aside,' watch- 
ing with a vague awe the countenance of her daughter-in- 
law, who seemed talking to the air ; and that of the new- 
bom babe who lay staring out into vacancy, as young infants 
do ; its wide-open eyes wearing that strange look which 
seems as if infants saw things which others could not see. 

" It*s air uncanny time ; and maybe there are uncanny 
Things about them baith," said Dame Learmont to herself, 
in a frightened whisper. But before her fear could increase, 
she was roused by the sound of many feet and voices. She 
looked down into the court-yard, and there saw the people 
of the farm clustered in a group round what by the light 
of their lantern, seemed — ^no living man, but a drowned 
body ! 

The mother's heart, hard, yet still a mother's, recoiled at 
the spectacle. She strained her feeble sight ; it was well ; 
for now she had strength to see that the dead man was not 
clad like her son. Yet this might only be a delusion. She 
had just prudence enough not to betray any thing to the 
young mother, who now seemed faUing into a doze; she 
took the infant away, laid it in the cradle beside the bed, 
and then went hastily out, leaving the door ajar. 

Now here, my wise anti-superstitious reader, I must 
request you to pause. What I am about to teU, you will 


find quite incredible and hard to be understood. I shall not 
stop to argue with you at all. I shall only say that this my 
chronicle is a consistent chronicle of its kind, the like of 
which, stoutly verified by the peasants, may be found in 
Nithsdale, Galloway, and indeed all along the Scottish 
Border. I do but revivify in a more complete and connected 
form the fragments of lore attested concerning a race of 
beings whose peculiarities may truly be considered to belong 
to pre-historic annals. 

Marion Xearmont was lying quite still, in a state of entire 
exhaustion, which however was rather pleasant than other- 
wise, as if a lulling spell had been cast upon her. Her eyes 
were half open, and she indistinctly saw the room — a large 
ghostly chamber dimly lighted by the wood-fire only; for 
her mother-in-law had taken away the lamp. She was cer- 
tain that she was awake, for she noticed the several bits of 
furniture — the oaken chair, the sole remnant of worldly gear 
which she herself had brought into the family on her marriage 
— ^the rude table and the curtained top of her baby's cradle. 
She even observed the snow lying in a thin drift along the 
maiigin of the window-panes, stealing half-melted through, 
forming a large round globule of water which rested on the 
great Bible that was placed on the window-sill. 

Gradually the red embers smouldered into darkness, and 
the shadow cast from the door' standing ajar, grew blacker 
and wider. All at once she heard a buzzing, whispering, and 
laughing ; a noise not loud but very sweet. Soon the ghostly- 
looking shadowy comers were full of moving light. It came 
from faces peeping in at the door. Then a troop of little 
creatures entered one after the other, thick and fast, until the 
whole room was full of them. 

They seemed at first like very beautiful children. But as 
Marion looked again, she saw they were perfect little men 
and women, exquisitely formed, and gracefully dressed in airy 


lobes of all colon — especially green. The youths were armed 
with quivers made of bright adders'-skin, and arrows of reed. 
The maidens had long yellow hair, fastened back from their 
shining brows with combs of gold. Many, both men and 
women, had their heads adorned with the flower called fairy- 
cap, or with white convolvaluses. Every one of .them was 
fair to look at, but chiefly the first who had entered, a lady 
taller than the rest, who wore a crown either of diamonds or 
dew-drops ; Marion thought that never was there a coronet 
so gUttering, lucid, and clear. 

The tiny visitors had brought no visible torches, but some- 
how the whole room about them grew light wherever they 
tripped. And they tripped about every where, in the mer- 
riest, most fantastic round, continually following the tallest 
lady, who came on more softly, and gravely than the rest. 

Then Marion knew that these were elves, and that this 
was the Queen of Fairies who had loved and carried away 
her husband's ancestor, Thomas the Rhymer of Ercildoun. 

It was very strange, but though she seemed to guess all 
this as by a sort of intuition, she felt not in the least afraid. 
The sight was so dazzling, so delicious ; its glamour changed 
the dark old chamber into a fairy palace. She herself, though 
seemingly without the power or desire of speech, had no sense 
of physical or mental pain — ^no grief concerning her husband 
— no terror for her child. She lay and listened in a sort of 
spell-bound delight to the little people, as they talked, danced, 
and sang, glittering hither and thither like a swarm of lumin- 
ous gnats. 

At last the Queen of Fairies, making a large circuit round 
the window to avoid the " big ha' Bible," which lay there- 
came and stood beside the baby's cradle. 

Now, alas ! the young mother knew what her elfin majesty 
was come about. But the knowledge was vain; Marion 
received it in her mind without being terrified in her heart. 


All human feelings or affections seemed to h&ye gro'vm cold 
in the ecstatic dehght of the fairy-show. 

*^It's a fine hairn/ and a- honnie hairn — very!" said, in 
quite intelligible and most enchanting accents, the lady -who 
had been True Thomas's love. " The Learmoiits have not 
grown uglier in all these years — ^that is, hundreds of years— 
we forigot that we are on earth just now/' she continued, 
sententiously, as ascending gracefully an extempore staircase 
obediently framed of the arms and legs of fairy-squires, she 
reached the top of the cradle, and sat down right in front 
of the babe's blue eyes — ^which, however, were fast closed. 

" What very sleepy things mortal infants are, my ladies," 
observed her majesty. " I wonder whether she will wake 
when we get her to Fairyland ?" 

At this some slight pang of maternal dread smote Marion's 
heart. She tried to cry out, but just then the fairy-lady 
turned upon her her diamond eyes, glittering and gay, which 
looked as if they never had wept — could weep— or had need 
to weep. Their steely brightness froze up all the tears that 
were pressing under the eyelids of the mortal mother, bom a 
woman, and as a woman made to know sufiering. 

"Behold her," said the fairy, laughing with a sharp, clear, 
bell-like mirth ; " she is afraid ! She thinks we would harm 
the wee thiiig ! Not we ! No, Mistress Thomas Learmont 
(a fine name that, but nothing like so fine as the first man 
who bore it)," and the little lady heaved a sigh, which 
seemed so light as to be only a pause in her mirth. " No, 
Mistress Thomas, I'll do your child no harm ; if only for the 
love I bear to your husband's people, especially his great An- 
cestor and himself— ha ! ha 1" 

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the fairy troop, with a merry 
meaning, and pointed out of the window. There, even 
through the darkness, Marion fancied she saw the white 
waves of the Tweed foaming and dashing, and the gray mists 


floating almost in human shapes over the triple summit of 
EUdon HiU. 

" For the love I hear your hushand/' continued the Ell- 
queen, '* I will even let you see your haim on her birth-night 
every year for three years, and then once in every seven, ac- 
cording as she chooses ; — a fair bargain." 

" A very fair bargain !'* chorused the delighted little peo- 

But nature in the mother's heart was stronger than even 
the glamour that was over her. Though unable to speak, she 
stretched imploring hands. The blithe troop only mocked 
her, hovering over her bed like a swarm of bees, and dinning 
her ears with their melodious songs. Once she tried to raise 
herself and get nearer to her sleeping babe, but invisible hands, 
soft and cold, like those of dead children, held her back ; and 
the fairy-lady, sitting upon the top of the cradle, laughed at 
her, making elfin grimaces which sent all the rest into a tit- 
ter that rung through the room like the sound of the wind 
through a cluster of waving rushes. 

" It's useless, Marion Learmont ; you must just lie still 
and dree your weird; and this is not the only weird that 
waits ye. Quick — quick — my people ! the gudewife will be 
back soon." 

While she spoke, the poor mother saw the elves take up 
her child, who wakened at once. The queen looked at her 
with her great bright eyes, and instantly a gleam of strange 
intelligence came into those of the hour-born babe. 

" She'll do; she's a bonnie one ; there is not her like in all 
Elfland. Haste — ^get her ready." 

Instantly two or three motherly-looking fairies, wearing 
respectable silken robes and heather-bell caps advanced, and 
slipping off the child's wrappings, left it a little soft lump of 
beauty, fit even for the caresses of a fairy. 

'* A sweet wee pet, and fortunately not christened yet ; so 


she shall be altogether ours, and we wiU find her a name in 

But here the mother uttered what seemed to herself a 
heart-piercing shriek, but which was in fact only a low mur- 
mur of'* Alice — Alice.** 

" Very well, if it so please you, my good woman ; I am 
quite satisfied. My elves, call her Alice," answered the 
Queen of Fairies, bending with a grace as winning as when 
she met the first Thomas Learmont under Eildon-tree. 

"Alice — Alice," chanted out all the "wee folk," in a 
chorus ravishingly sweet. It was broken by a noise far less 
delicious and more mundane : the sharp clattering voice of 
Dame Learmont. At the sound the light in the chamber 
vanished; there was a rustling and murmuring, which at 
last ended in a faint shout of eldrich laughter — then silence. 

The mother-in-law coming in, found her patient in an 
agony of grief 

" What for do ye greet, lassie ] ye ought to thank God 
and sing for joy." 

" My bairn ! my bairn !" 

" Ne'er fash yourself about it; the ill-faured wean. Think 
o' your husband that is alive, and Geordie Grahame deid. 
They twa had a sair tussle for 't, Daft Simmie says, for he 
saw them ; Geordie fell intil the Tweed, and was washit up 
to our door-stane. But, I doubt not, my ain laddie's safe and 

" Far awa, far awa," groaned the poor mother. " And 
my bonnie bairn's gane too." 

"Ye're daft or dreaming, Marion. Here's the bit thing 
soun' asleep." 

She rocked the cradle rather roughly, but there was no cry 
or stirring from within. The little cap lay turned faceward 
on the pillow ; there were the outlines of the form, carefully 
wrapped up so as to resemble a sleeping infant. But what 


was the grandmother's horror when she lifted it xxg and 
foond — no living child, but a piece of wood, rudely carved 
into something like humanity, and dressed in the olothes of 
baby Alice. 

** It's ane of Simmie's images — ^he has been at^his deiFa 
wark, and stowh away the baim,"^ cried the old woman, as 
frantically she quitted the room, to set on foot a search for 
the missing child. 

But whether this supposition was true, or whether, as the 
grief-stricken mother firmly believed, the fairies had carried 
away her darling, certain it was that all search proved vain, 
and neither Thomas Learmout nor little Alice could be 


White, and in long wavy wreaths, lay the snow on Eildon 
Hill. The new year was not an hour old, and yet all ahout 
the three peaks it was as bright as day. Many a hardy 
mountain ram started in its fold, and trembled to hear the 
silvery ringing of fairy bridles resounding in the night air. 

Great sport was the Fairies* Haid. On they came — a 
goodly troop, flashing along the high-roads, over tho hedges, 
and through the plowed fields ; on elfin nags — ^black, chest- 
nut, gray — whose hoofs left no mark on the smooth snow. 
Yet what with their prancing and singing and laughing, the 
fairy folk made as much noise as a company of living horse- 
the instant one awakens. And many a dreamer in Melrose 
that night heard such sounds, wondering whence they came, 
men. But it was like sounds heard in a dream> that fade 

** Heigho !" said the Queen of Fairies, as she reined in her 
palfrey at the spot where the triple-peaked hill divides. 
" Heigho ! for my bonnie green wood, where I met True 
Thomas ! It's all hewn down. liardly would I know the 
upper world again. Very provoking ! that people will plow 
and till, and turn waste-lands into meadows. They look 
much prettier as they are, do they not, Counselor Keljpie ?** 

This was addressed to the water-sprite of that name, an 
ugly creature, half-man, half^brute, who had crept out of 
the shallows of the Tweed to fawn at her majesty's feet. 

" Ay, ay," he answered ; " and for my part, if folk keep 
on growing so prudent and clever, building bridges and boats, 
I will never get a living soul to drown." 


" Ha, ha !" laughed the queen. ** But, good Kelpie, have 
you kept safe the treasure I lent you — the youth that slew his 
fellow in an evil fray, and so fell into the fairies' power ?" 

'* He is safe," answered the Kelpie, in a voice hollow as 
the waters Vising in a well. " He lies in an underground 
cave, through which my river oozily creeps. He will sleep 
there until his wounds are healed ; and there will not even 
he one wet lock in his yellow hair when you find him resting 
by the streams of Fairyland. But, oh ! queen ; if you would 
but have let Kelpie have him !" 

*' Could not, my ancient friend ! Quite impossible. His 
great ancestor is growing tiresome now, and we want a new 
mortal in Fairyland. Besides, soon will come the seventh 
year, when we must pay the teind to hell." 

A low wail broke from the fairy troop at the mention 
of this, the sole shadow on their perpetual joys — the tribute 
of one of their number exacted by the Arch-fiend every seven 

But the pause was only momentary ; for the elfin-race 
have an existence entirely soulless, free from human grief, 
afiection, or fear. Soon again were the silver bridles ringing 
merrily up the white hill-side. 

" Where is my changeling ] Where is the child ?" cried 
the queen, suddenly stopping. 

** Here, gracious majesty ! A weary burden it is too ; hu- 
man babies are so helpless and so fat." 

And a fairy-lady toiled up ; bearing before her on a palfrey 
the unlucky infant, who lay pale, cold, and half dead ; a 
weight perfectly enormous for the elfin-steed to bear. 

*' Kanitha, guardian of the fairy youth, your salary shall be 
increased to four golden rods a year, if you do your duty by 
my small friend here. What ho ! Alice, open your eyes." 

The queen, dismounting, amused herself with poking her 
dainty fingers under the pale eyelids of the mortal babe, and 


playing with its frozen limbs, -wliite as the snow on wliich 
they lay. 

'^ Madam," observed . a sage elf-lady, '4t is a fact scarce 
worth bringing under your highnesses notice, but nevertheless 
true — ^that earthly mothers are so £x)lish as to pay attention 
to their babes — ^swaddling them warmly — Chugging them in 
their arms, and giving them nourishment from their own 
breast. We never think of such trouble in Fairyland. 
Nevertheless, unless something is done for this babe, your 
majesty will be disappointed in your sport, for the little thing 
will slip away in that curious fashion which mortals call 
dying. It*s a trick they have." 

" How very unpleasant," said the queen. But she had 
not time for more, when suddenly the chanticleer of some 
honest Tweedside farmer began to cry aloud ; and far down 
Melrose village appeared dim lights creeping] about like 
glow-worms. The world — the hard-working patient, much 
enduring, yet happy world, was waking again to its New 

" We must begone, elves ; we must begone I" Snatch- 
ing wee Alice in her own regal arms, the Queen of Fairies 
stamped, once, twice, thrice. Immediately the hill side was 
cloven, and a dark gate opened itself before her. Thither 
she passed with all her train. The earth closed behind them 
— cleaving not a trace along the mountain heather, not a foot- 
step in the snow. 

But far — far, through the underground passage went the 
merry elves, up and down, along and across ; past valleys, 
plains, and mountains ; through black and thundering rivers, 
by smooth lakes, and over seas. The little babe in its deathly 
stupor saw nothing of this : it lay immovable — its eyes sealed, 
imtil at last they opened on a green bank in Fairyland — 
Fairyland, which was like earth in its gayest aspects ; a 
region of perpetual, unvaried pleasure ; a clime where there 


wa8 neither Bammer nor winter : a day which knew nmther 
noon nor night ; a sky in which was never seen either stm 
or cloud. So live the* fairy people ; an intennediate race, 
created for neither earth, lieaven, nor helL 

Alice Learmont came to life again there. The little 
limha stretched themselves out, the eyes opened, and the first 
somid she uttered was that with which we ttiortak enter 
into the world, ud ^R4iich we must utter at intervals, until 
we cease to sufier and to breathe together — a cry of pain and 

It was quite new to fairy ears. All the little people stop- 
ped theirs, and bounded about in disquiet ; doubtless thinking 
their mistress had brought a most unpleasant element into 
the elfin society. And when the unhappy changeling rolled 
its heavy head about, and helplessly stirred its fingers, they 
began to mock and sport with it, as being a creation so very 
much inferior to themselves. 

" This will not do," said her elfin majesty^ with dignity, " I 
had another intent in entering the door which Dame Learmont 
so kindly left ajar for me. I wished a babe, new-bom, un- 
christened, who might receive with our teaching something 
of the elfin nature, and so be content always to stay in Fairy- 
land. For," — and her majesty shrugged her fair round 
shoulders, beautiful, though laden with gossamer wing-like 
appendages that might have been considered unbecoming in a 
mortal — '*for it is a curious and altogether unaccountable 
fact that these human folk are never satisfied ; and even my 
True Thomas has a hankering after the troubles of earth 
sometimes. As for his descendant, this wee lady's father — 
I vow I shall scarcely be able to keep him a year of his own 
free will. 

" Oh ! oh !" exclaimed the sympathetic elves, in token of 
their wonder and indignation. 

"Now, my subjects, see what I intend to do; we'll turn 


this coaxse bit of hnmanity into a creature something liko 
ourselves. Behold!" 

She touched the infant's head with her sceptre, a silver 
lily — and soon the inanimate meaningless features grew into 
the beauty of sense and conscioiisness. The eyes became 
quickened to distinguish objects, the lips seemed perfecting 
themselves into speech. It n^as the face of a grown person, 
or of a child prematurely wise. 

"Ha! ha!'' laughed the. elf; she seemed to do nothing 
except laugh. '* But we must have a body to match." 

She passed her hand down the weak, shapeless limbs, and 
they expanded into delicate form. The little girl stood up- 
right on her feet, a tiny, old-fashioned figure-^less beautiful 
than the elves, for, though fair enough, she was no fairer 
than she would have been had she grown up as Alice Lear- 
mont of Tweedside ; — a miniature woman, but, as her expres- 
sion showed, gifled with little more than the understanding 
of a child. 

" Well my changeling, how do you feel t what do you 
want ?" 

" I'm hungry," said the little mortal. 

*^ Eh ! she's a low-born lassie after all," cried the Queen 
of Fairies, turning up her roseleaf of a chin ; " take her away, 
and feed her with milk from the fairy cows. I must go 
see after my grown mortal, my braw young Thomas Lear- 

A merry life they led in Fairyland, where a day lengthen- 
ened out to the pleasures of a year, and a year glided past as 
easily and happily as a single day. Alice Learmoht was as 
one of them ; sprung at once from babyhood to maturity — at 
least the only maturity the fairies ever knew ; for their exist 
ence was like that of perpetual childhood, without its sorrows. 
They snfiered not, because to feel is to sufier, and they never 
felt ; all their life was sport, and all their sport was unreal 


glamour. NeyertheleaB, they were merry elves, and the little 
child who would eke have spent its first year of babyhood 
sleeping on its mother's breast, was the very cynosure of all 
elfin eyes. 

" So, you seem satisfied enough with yourself, my little 
Princess Royal of Fairyland," said Elanitha, the fairy peda- 
gogue-ess ; " You have looked at your large image long enough 
in that stream. Truly, you are growing quite a coarse child 
of earth, and very like your mother." 

"What is a mother?" 

" A thing, my little lady, to be all that I am to you — ^ki 
the way of feeding and rearing you. But you will see for 
yourself to-morrow, for it is your birth-day, and our merry 
mistress will send you home for an hour." 

Alice began to cry. 

Now crying was an original and hereditary accomplishment 
which the little mortal had, and which was quite unknown 
in Fairyland. Whenever she set up a wail — which she did 
in true baby fashion — ^the elves immediately stopped their 
ears and skipped away. 

Therefore, before the changeling had screamed for a minute, 
she found herself lying alone amidst the remnants of the feast 
and the musical instruments of the dancers. Even a vocal 
concert that was being carried on in a large water-lily leaf, 
had ceased : the performers, six aquatic elves, and their tutor, 
an ancient frog, having dived under the bulrushes, in agony 
at being outdone in their own profession by a mere ama- 

Alice lay and sobbed — ^it might have been until evening ; 
but there is no twilight in Fairyland — ^no dawn, nor close of 
day ; all is one unvaried brightness — a changeless song — a 
shadowless picture. As the child lay pulling the daisies— 
that as she pulled them sprouted again — ^trying in how musi- 
cal tones she could cry, there fell across her a tall dark shade. 


Now the elves are small and have no shadow — therefore 
this stranger could not have been of their race. And when 
he spoke it was not in the speech of Fairyland, but with an 
accent quite new to Alice. Yet it thrilled her with an in- 
stinct of pleasure. 

" Wherefore greet ye, Alice Learmont ? Hae ye ony sor- 

" What is sorrow ? — I do not know. I*m crying to amuse 
myself/' answered the little creature, as she looked boldly up 
at her questioner. 

He was a tall man — ^past middle age— of grand and 
stately mien. His lips, close set, seemed as if they rarely 
opened ; for it was on them that the kisses of the Fairy 
Queen had left the wondrous spell that they could utter 
nothing but truth. He was the wondrous Seer — ^the Pro- 
phet who never foretold falsely — the Bard before his age — 
Thomas of Ercildoun. 

Many generations had passed, since, following the mysteri- 
ous hart and hind which came as his summoners. True 
Thomas had vanished from earth ; and yet he still abode in 
Elfland, with the same aspect that he had worn when 
dwelling at Ercildoun and walking on Eildon Hill. 

*• Did ye never hear tell o' sorrow, Alice ? Then the 
Learmonts o' this day are aye happier than in my time. 
But I mind that ye were a new-born wean, just snatched 
frae mither's breast. Ye'll gang back to earth the morn I" 

His voice was pensive, and the light of his eye sad ; but 
Alice gamboled about, as unheeding as a young fawn of the 

It was the hour when all grew quiet and lonely in Fairy- 
land — for the elfin people were abroad working their merry 
wiles on the midnight earth. At that time Alice was 
always used to fold up her little limbs and go to sleep like a 
flower — ^for only flowers slept in Elfland. Thus drooped she, 



regardless of the presence of the stranger, and indifierent to 
his anxious speech. He watched her a long time silently, and 
then tried to arouse her. 

« Waken, Alice Learmont ! it's hrief time that I hae for 
speech wi* the youngest o' my race. Tell me, haim, how 
things are in my ain countrie ? Rins the Tweed clear as 
ever, and does the sun glint as red ower honnie Melrose V 

He sighed, but Alice only laughed. " I know little about 
it, old man ; will you leave me to sleep ?" 

" Sleep ?" said he, " sleep ? — when ye are gaun hame to 
your mither, and your father lies sae near that ye might hear 
the soun' o' his breathing — every breath a sigh ! Lassie, 
lassie, look ye here !" 

He lifled the child in his arms, and carried her to a river 
side. There, bedded in the weeds and rushes, lay a stalwart 
form, deathlike, yet alive. Water eils and bright-tinted fishes 
were sporting over the large limbs ; blue forget-me-nots 
grew up and twisted themselves in natural garlands among 
the yellow hair. The decaying garments were dropping 
off from the manly chest, which yet heaved in regular suspi- 
rations. He who thus lay, motionless yet living, bound by 
elfin spell, was the younger Thomas Learmont. 

" I*m wae to see ye, my son," softly said the Rhymer 
*' Why will ye gainsay them that it's vain to gainsay ?~ 
It's no hard to live here in Elfland." 

The youth turned and muttered, as if in sleep — " I canna 
loe strange women, and I wad fain gang hame to my wife 

Thomas of Ercildoun sat down and covered his face with 
his robe, in, sorrow, perhaps even in shame. 

Meanwhile the sportive infant leaped from him, and pad- 
dling among the rushes, climbed up and sat astride on the 
form of the spell-numbed man, crowing aloud with glee. 

'* Alice, the ' jp;de neighbors' hae made ye like themselves," 


said the old Seer, mournfully. ^ Else ye wadna be sae light 
o' heart beside your puir father, nor "when ye are sune to be 
creeping to your mither'a breast." 

"Is that as pleasant as playing among the flowers, or 
dancing in the grand halls here V cried the little changeling, 
making queer grimaces, and comporting herself in all things 
like a soulless elf. The Rhymer lifted his voice in anger, 
when a low murmur of reproach arose from the younger 

" It's just a puir bit wean, a twalmonth auld ! Alice, 
gang back to your mither, and then she'll mind o' me." 

The little child paused a minute, as if some natural in- 
stinct, awakened by her father's voice, were at work within 
her. But soon she relapsed into her gambols, and then, 
pausing to listen, clapped her baby hands. 

"They are coming — ^the beautiful elves. I'm away, old 
man, away to my playmates." 

Thomas the Rhymer looked up. There were clouds of 
dust, and behind them a gallant company — the same that in 
the days of his youth he had seen pass along the greenwood 
side. It was, he knew, daybreak on earth, and the " good 
neighbors" were speeding back to Fairyland. He stole away 
from his descendant, in alarm and shame, lest his compassion 
should work him ill ; and went forth to meet his elfin- 
mistress, for whose sake he had forsaken earth and aU its ties 
for evermore. 


I TELL ye, gudemitber, it was nae dream. I saw her — I 
felt her — my bonnie doo — my sweet lassie^-my aia bairn ! 
She was wi* me this ae nicht— ^ay, i' these arms." 

So sobbed out Marion Learmont, as she sat in breathless 
sorrow beside her wheel, by which she and her husband's 
mother earned their daily bread — two desolate women. 

" The Lord keep ye in your wits, dochter, and forgie ye 
eio fancies ! Fuir lassie, ye're a widow and childless, like 
my ain sel. For it's ower certain that your gudeman was 
drowned in the Tweed — and Daft Simmie— de'il take him ! 
has stown awa* your bairn. Ye'U ne'er see tane nor tither 

" Gudemither, I will !" said the girl solemnly. " There's 
mony a ane brought back frae the wee folk ; and my bairn's 
alive, for I hae seen her not four hours syne." 

The old woman shook her head, but there was something 
so earnest in Marion's manner that she seemed rather less 

" Tell a' the truth, lassie. It'll do nae harm." 

" It was i' the mirk o' night, just afore moonrise ; I wauk- 
ened, sabbin' because o' a dream I had, that my puir bairn 
was sleeping at my side ; — and I felt a wee bit cheek, sail 
and warm, creepin'— creepin* till me! It was a wean, 
gudemither ! It was my ain Alice !" 

" Gude guide us !" 

" She lay here at my breast, wi' her sweet lips close, and 
drank, and drank — or it seemed sae. I tell ye, this ae nicht 
I hae gi'en mither's mDk to my dear bairn." 


" It's a' the wark o' the Evil Aiie»" ixrhiBpexed Dame 
Learmont. " But, Marion, lass, in what form gaed she awa 1 
In a flash o' fire, nae doubt V 

*'Ye speak ill, gudemither," cried the young creature, 
tried past her patience, " It's nae deil's wark — it's the wee 
folk that hae changed my bairn, as I teU't ye." 

The old woman shook her head with incredulous pity. 
She did not like that any who were not, strictly. pf the Lear- 
mont blood should attain to the honors of fairy intercourse. 
Still, as Mistress Thomas persisted, she grew more acquiescent. 

** Maybe, Marion ; but then the bairn could be naething 
but a wee.deil^TT-a chajOgeling/' 

" I tell ye she was my ain bairn." 

" The neyr-born wean ye spjarce set e'en on ?" 

'' Na, na ; but a bonnie lassie— a twalmonth auld, as she 
wad be this day ?" 

'' Ance mair," said Dame Learmont, mysteriously, " ance 
mair, I ask — how did she gang ?" 

''I dinna ken,.".. sobbed Marion. "I was sleeping soun', 
and she slippit awa' frae my arms like a snaw-wreath, and 
was gane. Wae's me, for my bonnie, bonnie bairn!" 

Thxis sorrowed the forsaken mother, more, perhaps, as a 
mother than a wife; for certainty, the slayer of hope, is 
oftentimes the healer of despair — and she, as well as the 
whole country side, believed that Thomas Learmont had 
been drowned in the Tweed and washed out to sea. But 
nothing ever shook Marion in her statement that she had seen 
her babe carried away by fairies. And when the strange 
story which she told on the first anniversary afler her loss 
was repeated the next year and the next, people began to 
look on her with awe and respect, not unmingled with a sort 
of dread. 

On the third New-year's eve the young widow — as she be- 


lieved herself to be — ^was sitting in the large room which in the 
days of the Learmonts had been the well-furnished fanner's 
kitchen. It was now desolate enough, for the two women — 
relicts of the last two of the race — ^were very poor. On this 
winter-night, Dame Learmont, sick and ailing, had been 
taken to the charity of some far-away kin ; but Marion re- 
fused to quit her home. There she sat, heavily turning her 
wheel by the light of one half burnt fagot, shivering with 
cold, listening to the howling of wind and rain ; or perhaps— 
so strangely thrilled was her mother-heart — listening for some 
other sound which she hoped would come. 

" I winna try to sleep," she said to herself. " 1*11 bide, 
and see what this year brings." 

So she sat and barkened, but heard nothing save the 
burring of her wheel and the noise of the storm without, un- 
til between twelve and one, the hour that marked the bound- 
ary of the old and new year. Then, in a pause of the rain, 
Marion fancied she heard a faint knock at the door. 

" Come ben," she said, thinking it was a neighbor belated, 
and sorrowful that the hour of her accustomed joy had passed by. 

*' I can not come ben, unless ye open to me." 

It was a child's voice ; yet at once sharper and sweeter 
than a child's. Could it come from those soft, but always 
dumb lips, that had clung to her bosom yearly at this time ? 

Trembling, Marion tottered across the room, and unlatched 
the door. There in the bleak night, stood a little shivering 
child, dressed in a tattered cloak, with its arms all bare and 
drenched with rain. Alas ! it did not look like her fairy 
child : but, nevertheless, the kiiid woman drew it in. 

" Puir wee lassie, what gars ye stay out sae late ? Hae ye 
nae minnie at hame ? What for do ye greet sae sair ?" 

But the child made no answer, for no sooner had she been 
lifted over the threshold, than her crying was changed into a 
shout of laughter. The old rags dropped from her, and she 


Biood in the centre of the dark, miserable roonii a lovely three- 
years* child, dressed in the shining robes of Fairyland. 

" It's my bairn, it's my bairn," cried the mother ; as re- 
gardless of the "wondrous glitter and supernatural aspect of 
the visitor, she ran to clasp her. But the little thing flitted 
from her, and escaped. 

"Are ye no my ain? Will ye no come to me?" sobbed 
Marion in an agony. But Alice only laughed the more, and 
gamboled about the house without noticing her. 

** Alice, Alice," shrieked the mother, following. 

" Ay, I'm Alice. What do you want ?" 

This was all the child said, and continued her play. But 
the mother had at length heard the sound of her daughter's 
voice. The little one had even for the first time answered 
to the name "Alice." It was joy enough, and too much; 
Marion Learmont fell on her knees, and weeping, thanked 

While she murmured her prayer, the changeling's wild 
sports and laughter were momentarily hushed ; and a faint, 
sweet shadow of earth stole over the elfin brightness of her 
countenance. She came up softly, and said— 

" What are you doing that for ?" 

" For thankfu' joy, that He may bless ye and save ye, my 
bairn," cried Marion, ceasing her prayer in the delight of 
embracing her child. But no sooner had she risen from her 
knees, and tried by tender force to hold her darling fast, than 
Alice slipped away, and laughed, and mocked, and played 
strange elfish antics, until even the mother's self was terrified. 
She began to weep, not now for joy, but- for very sorrow. 
The changeling only jested the more. 

" How dull and queer you seem, big, dark-looking woman 
of earth I and what coarse clothes you wear, and what an 
ugly place this is ! Where are your pretty gold tables, and 
shining clothes, and beautiful dancing-halls ?" 


" I hae nane, my bairn ; I am but a pair woman, that live 
my lane in poortith and care. But I wadna grieve, gin I 
bad but ye, my docbter I" 

And once more Marion tried to draw to ber arms tbe brigbt 
being wbo looked a cbild and epoke like a denizen of Fairy- 
land. For a minute or two Alice staid, seemingly amused 
by tbe novelty of caresses. * 

" Wbat are you doing to me ]'* she cried. 

** I baud ye fast, my darling ; and I gie ye ae kiss, and 
anitber — ^and anitber," answered tbe motber, fearlessly press- 
ing ber lips to tbe soil bair that M^as bound with tbe garlands 
and redolent of tbe perfumes of Elfland. I loe ye, my bairn ; 

« What does that mean ?" 

" Do ye no ken t Did ye never bear o* love in Fairyland ? 
Ob, then come bame, Alice ; come bame !'' sighed the mother, 
in passionate entreaty. But perpetually the bright creature 
escaped her clasp. 

For an hour, which seemed a moment, yet an age, Marion 
Learmont watched the gambols of her elfin cbild flitting 
about the desolate bouse. Awe-struck, she crouched be- 
side where the fire bad been, and heard strange shouts of 
invisible laughter echoing Alice and mocking herself At 
last, the house seemed to grow stiller, and Marion felt a 
drowsy oppression creeping over her. The changeling, too, 
as if tired out with play like a mortal child, had laid herself 
down, and suffered the mother to fold her in her arms. Thus 
secure, Marion yielded to irresistible weariness and fell 

In the cold dawn she woke, but it was to stretch out her 
empty arms and moan. Tbe child was gone. All over the 
bouse was silence, solitude, and gloom. Only, tinkling in 
ber brain was a sort of musical rhyme, which seemed like a 
tune heard in dreams or just in the act of waking, and re- 


membered afterward. It had little connected meaning ; yet 
still the mere words clung tenaciously to her memoiy — 

" Prayer o* faith is an arm o* aim ; 
— ^Whilk will ye hae, spouse or bairn ?" 

While amidst her frantic lamentations, the wife of Thomas 
Learmont paused to think over this rhyme, the Bisi ray of 
daylight glinted into the room, and rested on a relic belong- 
mg to her husband's family. It was a portrait blackened 
with smoke and age, yet now the face seemed to grow deiined, 
even lifelike. She could have fancied that the eyes turned 
toward her with a human expression of pity and gentle sad- 
ness. And she shuddered, remembering what awful tales 
were told of that picture — ^the portrait of her husband's won- 
drous ancestor, Thomas the Rhymer. 

She closed her eyes in terror, nor opened them again till, 
in broad daylight, she saw it was only a picture on the wall 


Far up the Eildon Hill there were footmarks in the New- 
year snow : small light traces, as if some poor harefooted child 
had heen there wandering through the night. But when the 
marks reached the Eildon Tree, they vanished suddenly and 
were no more seen. 

The mortal child was once more in her home in Fairy- 
land. She awoke, as if out of a sleep or trance, and found 
herself lying on the green-sward, in the warm light of that 
sunless day. She stretched her limhs with delight, and 
drank in the pleasant air. 

" Oh ! this is happy," she said, and began once more to 
revel among the flowers. She was alone, but that mattered 
little in Elfland, where all sought their own pleasure, and 
such a thing as sympathy was unknown. It troubled her 
when she saw coming over the valley toward her, that tall 
Shadow, grave and pale, who ever met her after her yearly 
visits to earth. 

Alice tried to escape, and hid herself among the willows of 
the stream ; but her laugh betrayed her, when, looking down, 
she saw a brave sight and a merry — at least, so the elf-child 

There was the figure of the spell-bound man, the sport of 
all Fairyland for three years. He had half broken from his 
enchantment, and lifted himself out of the water ; his long 
yellow hair and beard flowed down upon his breast, mingled 
with rushes and water-reeds ; his eyes were still closed, but 
his face, unlike that of a drowned man, was bright, ruddy, 
and lighted with hope. Nevertheless tears quivered in the 
heavy lashes as the child approached. 


"Wherefore grieve ye, my son?" said Thomas the Rhym- 
er, as with slow footsteps he followed Alice to the river side. 

" I see wee feet near me, the feet that are yet white frae 
the snaw on Eildon Hill." 

" And why listen ye to ilka sound, my son ?" 

" I hear a blithe voice ahint me, the voice that spak wi* 
her yestreen. Oh, Marion, Marion !" 

The tones died away in a wail, as the young Borderer's 
head sank upon his breast. 

True Thomas gazed upon his descendant, and the pensive 

repose of his own features was overshadowed. " Gin I had 

been like ye, a leal lover and faithfu' spouse, I hadna wonne 

into Fairyland. My puir bodie wad be lying saft aneath the 

Tower o' Ercildoun, and the saints in paradise wad keep my 

saul. But what's dune is dune. Even ye, my son, your ill 

deed maun be punished ; yet for a' that, ye sail gang back 

safe to bonnie Melrose, and live happy, though in poortith and 

toil. For, as I hae foretold lang syne, 

*■ The hare sail hirple on my hearth-stane, 
ThereUl ne'er be a Laird o' Learmont again.' '' 

So spoke he, with a grave sweetness, becoming the lips that 
never lied. At his words, strong shudders convulsed the 
frame of young Thomas Learmont. 

*' Oh, it's hame that I wad be ; hame, hame !" he moaned ; 
and his moaning went up to the pale sky, and his trembling 
shook the glassy waters of Elfland. 

Alice crept away, as if she feared or disliked the sight of 
emotion, a thing to her unknown. She went merrily to 
watch beside the golden gates of the enchanted vale until the 
fairy train returned. 

Thomas the Rhymer sat and watched too. His harp lay 
at his feet — ^the same harp which had echoed in the Tower 
of Ercildoun ; sometimes he touched a chord or two, chanting 
fragments of his own poem of " Sir Tristram," once so re- 


nowned, the very name of which is now scarce reimembered 
along Tweedside. As he sang, his face shone with the calm 
and solemn heauty of middle age, which two centuries had 
left unchanged ; only that over all was a vague sadness and 
nnrest which came at times, when earthly memories marred 
the even tenor of his elfin joys. 

He had not long sat waiting, when from afar was heard the 
bridle-ringing that heralded the Queen of Fairies and her 
court. True Thomas laid down his harp and smiled. 

" Ah," he said, musingly ; " 'tis a sweet sound ; I mind it 
weel. Blithely sung the mavis on Huntley Bank ; the grass 
was saft and green, and the gowans wat wi' dew. Oh, but 
ye were a May meet for a young man's luve, my bonnie Elfin 

So spoke he, and beheld afar the gallant train. In the 
midst of it, riding on her dapple gray palfrey, all in her green 
kirtle set with beryl-stone, he saw the lady of his love— even 
as she appeared to him the first time out of the greenwood 
by the hill side ; and his grave eye kindled like that of an 
aged poet at the memory of youthful dreams. 

But the fairy lady was not given to dreaming. Merrily 
rode she on, her palfrey's bells ringing at every step ; a min- 
gling of silver bells and silver laughter. Lightsome and 
heartless was the glitter of her eyes, and gayly swept she the 
Rhymer by, like the changed goddess of many a young bard's 

He followed her with aspect thoughtful indeed, but not 
Iqve-lom : he had no more lives of earth to peril for a. moment 
of passion. Slow and grave was his step as he entered the 
elfin ring. 

" Ha ! my True Thomas, hither you come at last : is it 
for news of the bonnie banks of Tweed and the gray tower 
of Ercildoun, where the white owl sits beside the ' hoodie 
craw' ? Would my bold Thomas wend thither again ?" 


" Never mair, never mair !" sighed he : " But I wad fain 
hae fipeech wi' ye, my ladye and my queen." 

" Say on, only sigh no more, it torments my merry elves. 
And we have heen having, a blithesome raid, up and down in 
the snow; scaring and leading astray folk that have heen 
abroad keeping their New-year ; ha ! ha ! 

' Lord what fools these mortals be !' 

as sings a young English poet, whom I would say for sure 
had been in Fairyland, only he paints me so little after re- 
ceived tradition, and so much out of his own fancy, that I 
hardly know my own likeness. Eh, my elves ! shall we send 
home our ancient Rhymer, and go to Avon's banks to steal 
sweet Willi" 

" Ye sport and jest, my ladye and love," said True Thomas, 
sadly ; " ye heed not that the year's began — the seventh year. 
When itis second morn appears, ye'll see the Evil Ane wend 
up that sloping road to claim the^teind to hell." 

Terror — the sole terror. they knew — seized the fairy-folk; 
the dances ceased, and the gitterns and lyres, falling from 
eliin-hands, began to wail of their own accord. 

" Who fears ?" said the Queen. " Let the teind be paid ! 
I have a fine stout mortal fattening under Kelpie's hands, in 
the river near.. Ha^ ha ! my.young Thomas Learmont will 
serve my turn well." 

** Nae harm can touch the lad," answered the Rhymer, 
sternly. " He has a wife at hame wha prays for him nicht 
and day, to Ane that here we znaunna name. I foresee that 
this same year p, mortal will be won away fr^e !^)lfland." 

" You grow bold in speech, my knight of old J". . 

" I speak wl' the lips that canna lee." 

The queen looked as abashed and- angry as it was possible' 
for a fairy to look. "I marvel. True. TJion^as, that .yo,ur 
vision extends no further, and that, though you ar^ grown old 


and ill-favored with two centuries of life, you do not see. your 
noble self wending that fated road." 

And she pointed to a downward slope blackening in the 
distancci from which all the elves turned their eyes, for they 
knew it was the gate of hell. On the other hand rose the 
thin cloudland of Paradise ! while between both, like glisten- 
ing fantastic towers with fair landscapes between, was seen 
the land of Faery. 

The Rhymer gazed around, and turned to his mistress. 
" Do ye mind, my queen, the day ye laid my head on your 
knee, and showed me thae three sights ? For your luve I 
wonned frae earth, and I hae tint heaven : but hell will ne'er 
open her mouth fbr me. I maun bide here in Faery for ever- 

" And grieve you at that, True Thomas V* smiled the win- 
ning elf, assuming the aspect by which she once wiled the 
youth away from Huntley Bank. 

" I grieve not," murmured he ; while his eyes glittered 
with a passion before which the mirth of Fairyland sank 
spiritless and tame — " I wad dree it ower and ower for siccan 

He sank kneeling at his lady's feet, and for a brief space, 
thought of earth no more. 

But soon there came flitting near him little Alice, whisper- 

" There's the man with the bonnie yellow hair moaning 
out — * Hame, home;* and it frights my butterflies in the 
meadow — ^my bright fishes in the stream. I can not sleep or 
play for listening. — Entreat our mistress to send him ' hame.' " 

So True Thomas changed from elfin wooing to entreaties 
for his descendant. 

" Oh, the trouble you mortals give me !" cried the Queen 
of Fairies. " There are too many of you here : you will pro- 
duce quite a revolution in our government. But for all that I 


can not let my handsome prisoner go. He began an evil firay 
and fell into the Tweed, hard fighting, he and his adversary 
together. The tide swept Geord^ Grahame down while I 
stood by and laughed, for I knew that the other was mine." 

" But no for aye. It's lang syne, yet Marion Learmont's 
gaut tears fa*. She prays ; and there's Ane that will hear. 
Send the young man back to earth, my gentle elfin queen." 

" Ay, and then give back my fair changeling, too ? — impos- 
sible ! One or the other I must keep. So lie thee down, 
True Thomas, at my feet, and let us barken to wee Alice's 

But wee Alice, standing by, looked half-thoughtful still. 

" The man is moaning yet. He wearies me. Let him go 
back to earth, and keep me in his stead always." 

The Rhymer smiled, with the glad sense of a poet who 
beholds that noblest sight — a generous deed. 

" My bairn — the dear earth blude is in ye yet : ye wad tine 
a', and win your father !" 

" Father," repeated the child, carelessly ; " it is a strange 
word — I know it not. And what is earth to me ? I spent a 
weary night last night, wandering there over snow and brier 
I would rather stay in Fairyland." 

" But ye gaed hame, my bairn — ^hame to sweet Melrose ? 
ye sat by the ingle-side that was your father's ? ye crept close 
to your mither's knee ?" eagerly cried Thomas of Ercildoun. 

"It was a gloomy place, dark and cold. There was a 
woman there, doleful to see. She never smiled, or danced, or 
sung, but only wept. It wearied me. I would rather stay 
in Fairyland." 

" Then stay, my merry changeling," cried the delighted 
queen. ** Not an elf in my kingdom shall live so blithely as 
you. — By all means stay." 

" For seven years, nae mair," said the Rhymer, earnestly. 
'* My ladye and queen, ye hae me by my ain will, for that 


I first flought your lave, and not ye mine. Ay, and again I 
were fu' fain to tine my saul for your beauty's sake. But jlk 
ither mortal man, woman, or wean, ye may keep seven year, 
and nae mair." 

*' My True Thomas, your earth-born honesty is very in- 
convenient in Fairyland. Nevertheless, aw;ay with the burly 
Border Squire ; and come« my bright Alice, and my lightsome 
elves, let us to our sports again.'' 

That night, when the lights were out in all Melrose, and 
the new moon shone dimly on the snow — when the young 
Marion sat weeping by her firdiess hearth, where even the 
cricket's song had ceased in the cold and silence — there came 
a step on the threshold — a voice in the darkness — a strong, 
close, passionate clasp, that she felt, yet saw not. But when 
the moonlight glinted palely in, she knew the noble height, 
the broad stalwart breast, the yellow hair. — ^It was the dead 
alive — the lost found. 

Yet even on that joyful night, when marvel^ hardly seem- 
ed to be such, since love was ready unquestioning to receive 
all, many a time Marion would droop tearful on his neck, 
sighing out — 

" Oh, husband ! our bairn, our bairn !" 


''Come ben, come ben, my baimies aM" softly cried a mo- 
ther — not a young mother now, as she stood by the ingle- 
side, and threw on a fresh fagot, which merrily lighted up the 
dusk of the winter night. 

An old woman, bent and withered, cowered over the blaze, 
and childishly watched it glittering between the joints of her 
skeleton fingers. 

" It's a fare ;fire, Marion," mumbled she : " we hae na 
had the like o't for mony a New-year. Wow! but it*s un- 
co fine !" 

"Aweel, gudemither, gin ye*re content!" answered Mis- 
tress Learmont, half sorrowfully. " Yet^I'se warrant it has 
been ' muckle siller and muckle dule,' sin the day the gude- 
man was awa' to serve the queen in Edinburgh. Eh ! cal- 
lants, I fear me ye*ll no see your daddy this braw New-year." 

So said she to the two sturdy bare-legged laddies that came 
from the next room, toddling to the welcome fire. A third — 
the eldest apparently, entered from without doors, bringing in 
plenty of snow upon his shoeless feet and flaxen hair. For he 
too was a " yellow-haired laddie," a true son of the Learmont 
race. He was his father's very image ; a great fellow, whose 
bulk almost belied the round, innocent face of six years old. 
The other two were, fat, sunburnt, roly-poly creatures — twins. 
The last born, a delicate looking child who could just stand 
alone, and whose sole speech was the dumb language of blue 
eyes — was crawling about the floor — making vain eflbrts to 
get nearer to the beautiful blaze. 

They were all boys, these later blessings sent to comfort 


Marion Learmont after her woes. There never came another 

Every human being must change, more or less, in seven 
years. Mistress Thomas Learmont was a douce, matronly 
body now. She could chatter, and she could scold, though 
not often ; for she was of a sweet nature always. But she 
had to be both father and mother to her boys, in the absence 
of the gudeman, whom chance had lifted to comparative pros- 
perity, as archer of the guard to Queen Mary. Mere infants 
as they were, there was their race's fierce spirit in the lads, so 
that poor Marion had sore trouble to manage them at times. 

They had not been long gathered round the fire, when a 
domestic storm arose. 

" Hey, Habbie, what are ye yauraerin' fori Hand your ill 
tongue, Jock ! Wee Sandy, come and tell your minnie what 
ails ye. Oh, laddies, laddies, what'll I do wi' ye a'?" 

" Why dinna ye wish the * gude neighbors* wad tak them, 
and send ye back your ae dochter ?" grumbled the old woman. 
" I'd gie a* these ill-faured callants for ane bonnie lass-baim." 

** Ye didna think sae ance, gudemither. Gin ye had, may- 
be my puir Alice had been safe at your knee. Now, yell gang 
to your grave, and me too, wi* ne'er a dochter to close our e'en." 

Marion sighed bitterly. Strange it seemed, and yet was 
not strange, that amidst the cares and joys which followed 
after, the mother never forgot her first-born. Year by year, 
as Alice's birth-night came round, she grew thoughtful, and 
watched with anxiety ; but never again, in any shape, vision, 
or sound, did the changeling appear. At last a sacredness 
like unto death stilled the pain of this heavy loss ; many 
other children came to comfort the bereaved mother — yet the 
wound was never thoroughly healed. Constantly, when the 
boys were to her cold or rough, as boys will be, she would 
sigh after the one lost blessing, which, like all vanished joy^ 
seemed dearer than any of the rest. 


She sat by the ingle ; and, rocking on her knee the gentlest 
of the tribe, the little year-old babe, whose looks sometimes 
reminded her of Alice — ^gave herself up to sad thoughts, 
which on this New-year's eve seemed to come thicker and 
faster than ordinary. 

"What for do ye greet, minnie ?" cried one after the other 
of the bairns, gathering round her ; for childhood's heart is 
always tender, and the wildest boys are often the most moved 
at sight of trouble. 

Marion uncovered her eyes, to see Habbie and Sandy with 
great thunder-drops of tears in theirs ; while Hugh, the bold 
eldest, stood in an attiude of defiance, as if ready to challenge 
some invisible foe who had made his mother weep. Even the 
wee thing at her lap lifted up his sweet looks in troubled won- 
derment, and nestled closer to her, bringing unconscious comfort. 

" Ye*re gude bairns a*," said the mother tenderly, as she 
caressed them by turns. " But, oh ! ye arena my Alice — ^my 
ae dochter — that I will see nae raairl" 

The children had often heard of their sister Alice, and had 
questioned about her with childish awe. "With them she had 
grown into a sort of myth, to be thought of with grave faces, 
and spoken of softly. They had even set up a kind of rude 
service to her— -children often have the oddest instinctive 
notions of worship. Many a tiny bowl of milk, or rosy-cheek- 
ed apple, was left on the " door-stane," or carried to some 
thicket on Eildon Hill, or placed at four cross-roads, in the 
vague hope that " Sister Alice" would somehow come and 
partake of it. And as, of course, the dainty frequently van- 
ished, they would come home feeling sure that " Sister Alice'* 
had indeed received their gift. 

Now, when they heard the rare mention of her name, they 
became silent and grave. Only Hugh, who being next eldest 
to the lost one, thought himself peculiarly privileged, took 
courage to say — 


"Mither, dinna ye greet for Sister Alice ; and 1*11 gang and 
spe^ foi her ower the hale warld." 

The mother shook her head. 

" But I will, mither," cried the fearless boy. '* What like 
IB she ? — When gaed she awa 2" 

It was a bold question ; for Marion had feared to tell the 
whole story of Alice's disappearance to her young children, 
and had left their speculations thereon vague and dim. But, 
somehow, to-night her heart was opened and her tongue 

" Bide ye here, callants, and 1*11 tell ye. What like was 
she ? — she was the sweetest wee lady, jimp and sma' — ^wi' 
een like Willie's here, but oh, sae bright ! She was ta'en 
awa on this nicht, the nicht she was bom, just ten year sin- 
syne. She came back ance — ^twice — ilka new-year, and then 
nae mair. Ah, laddies, she came nae mair V* 

" And whar is she noo, milher?" 

" She's in a braw, braw land, blithe and gay, amang folk 
that it's no gude to speak o', my bairns." 

" Then they're no gude ava," cried Hughie, boldly. " May- 
be they'll gar her foi^et her minnie and us. 1*11 gang and 
fecht them a' !" 

Marion laid her finger on her little son's lips, and, with the 
other hand, was about tremblingly to make the sign of the 
cross — ^but stopped, remembering what that good man John 
Knox had said, when last he preached under the shadow of 
Eildon Tree. Scarcely had she collected her thoughts and 
resolved not to fear, when through a pause in the blast which 
seemed suddenly to have risen, shaking the whole dwelling, 
she heard a sound that was neither wind nor storm. 

" Eh ! siccan a sight !" shouted the daring Hugh, who had 
rushed to the window. " Sax braw white horses dragging a 
thing like a wain, only bonnier far ; wi' sic grand folk intilt, 
and mony mair ridin* ahint the lave." 


" Surely, it's a coach, that fine new wain your daddie saw. 
Maybe the queen herself is there. Oh, bairnies, rin and 
hide !" 

" 1*11 no hide," said Hugh. " T wad like to speak to the 
queen. Folk say she's a bonnie leddy.'^ 

"Without more ado, this bold young scion of the humbled 
Learmoht race unbarred the door, and walked out. Marion 
trembling followed. The coach and attendants had appar- 
ently driven away, fot she saw them not, though she fan- 
cied she heard the sound of retreating wheels. There was 
only a faint glare, like that of invisible torches, cast on 
the road ; and there she saw her son, escorting a brill- 
iant little lady, who seemed neither quite a woman nor yet a 

One frenzied hope darted through the mother's heart, but 
quickly it faded when Hugh rushed in. 

** Mither ! here's a bonnie wee leddy, sent frae the queen." 

" Frae the queen ? wi' news o' your daddie ? Ah, she's 
kindly welcome," said the mother, but still she drew back in 

Hugh ran gallantly to the aid of his lovely guest, who hes- 
itated at the threshold. 

** Come ben, my wee* leddy," said he, eagerly, apparently 
not in the least abashed either by her fair presence, or by her 
gold and jewels and gay robes. 

" I can not come in, unless you lift me," murmured the 
dainty creature, in tones like a silver bell. ' 

Hugh sturdily gathered up all the strength of his childish 
arms and carried her over the door-sill, into the very middle 
of the floor. There she stood — a beautiful vision, making all 
light about her, as though her very garments shone. But, 
gradually, the glitter paled ofi*, and she seemed nothing more 
than a very small, elegantly-formed lady, magnificently clad, 
but with the face and manner of a child. 


De^te its change, and against the utter improhability 
of the thing, the mother fancied she knew that face. Trem- 
blingly she advanced to the guest. 

" Wha may ye be, my sw^t wee leddy ?" 

" I was not to tell my name." 

" Wherefore cam ye ?" 

" The queen sent me." And whatever questions were put, 
the only answer that could be won from the little damsel 
was still the same — " The queen sent me." 

Her sudden appearance and dazzhng mien spread such an 
admiring awe over the little circle that they felt no power to 
question her ; but in their intercourse the little lady altogether 
took the initiative. 

She flitted about the house, peering into every hole and 
corner with most amusing pertinacity. She played with the 
children and pulled them about, more with curiosity than in- 
terest ; and at last having fairly bewildered them all with 
her beauty, her willful ways, and her perpetual chatter in a 
tongue which at first seemed to them strange and court-like, 
but gradually became intelligible and more like their own — 
she called for something to eat. 

It was supper time ; and the mother had been preparing 
bowls of porridge, turning every now-jand then, with an in- 
comprehensible yearning, to watch the movements of their 
guest ; yet evermore repelled by something in the fair creat- 
ure's mien which told that her hopes were delusions, that it 
was impossible this could be her Alice — ^her child. 

" I want some food," again cried the visitor, impatiently. 

Marion got ready the children's messes. She set out five 
instead of four portions, and placed the first and largest before 
the stranger. 

" Will ye' eat wi' my bairns ? ye're dearly welcome," said 
she, tenderly. 

The little lady tested the porridge, and threw it aside with 


a gesture of disgust. '* It is not like my food ; give me some 

It was strange, but the words and look went like an arrow 
to Marion's heart. 

** 1 haena ony better/' she said, sadly. ** Gin ye come to 
puir folk's door, ye maun live as puir folk live." 

The little damsel laughed, more carelessly than angrily ; 
and with hungry looks suffered Hugh to place her bowl once 
more within her hand. 

" Bide a wee," whispered Marion, as she was about to be- 
gin. " My bairns, say your grace afore meat, as ye hae been 

'One after the other the boys — ^in this at least well-lessoned 
— ^folded their hands and said a few words of prayer. At the 
sound, the new-comer began to tremble and grow pale ; at 
last she set up a loud cry — 

" Oh, it hurts me — ^it hurts me I" 

" What, my sweet lassie V 

" Oh, my heart — my heart !" and she began to weep. 

Hugh started up, but the mother put him back, and threw 
her arms, brown and hard with labor, round the silken-robed 

" Tell me, in the great Name ye ken o', wha may ye be ?" 

The girl struggled with difficulty to speak. " I'm Alice — 
Alice Learmont ; let me go back to whence I came." 

** I winna let ye gang, my ain bairn, my dochter !" cried 
the mother, snatching her close, and sobbing over her. 
" Come near, laddies, baud her fast — ^fast ! She's your sister 

Amazed, the children cluug round ; some admiring her 
bright clothing, and others half-frightened at the wild eliin 
beauty of her face, for she was now smiling again. 

But the mother wept still. 

"Is it your ain sel', my dochter?" cried she, fondling the 


pretty creature who neyertheless every now and then tried 
to escape out of her hands. " Eh, but ye're grown a winsome 
lassie, yoar hair sae shining, and your skin sae white ! I wad- 
na hae kent my wee Alice, my ain dear bairn !" 

"Indeed?" said the little maiden carelessly, as she re- 
arranged her tossed hair, and smoothed her crumpled geat, too 
bright and gaudy for the tooth of common mortal hands; 
" Was I ever in this ugly dark place before ?" 

"Do you no mind o* thatT' said the mother, 6adly; 
" Hae ye forgotten your ain mither ? Ye're a braw, braw 
leddy now, but ye were anee a puir bit baimie in these 

Alice smiled with an air of indifierence, and turned from 
the worn and pensive looking mother to the children, who, 
young, rosy, and fair, seemed more like herself and her elfin 

* " Are these my brothers, and will they play with me, as 
the little fairy-children do in the land where I live ?" 

" Eh, whair is that land ?" asked bold Hugh, the first who 
had dared to address their magnificent new sister. 

" I know not, but it must be a long "way ofl^ for it's a 
country so much prettier than this." And she went peering 
about into dark and dusty comers^ and curled her sweet lips 
in a half-scornful indifiference at every thing she saw. 

" Do you always live here ?" said Alice, when at last she 
and the rest had become more sociable ; " Where are your 
golden halls, and your silver dining tables, and your sweet 
music ? And why don't you laugh and dance — ^in this way ?" 

Immediately she began to float and bound, with an air 'so 
ravishingly graceful and joyous that she seemed like a creature 
of light compared ^th the other children, who watched her 
in dumb wonder, Hugh especially. 

" Is it thus ye live in your land? Eh, but I never sce'd 
sic a bonnie ploy !'' 


" And how do you amuse yourself t" asked Alice, with dig- 
nified condescension. 

** Wh^a it's simmer, 1 lin about the braes, or amang the 
corn-rigs wi* the shearers ; i* the mirk winter days I baud 
the pleugh ; and then a' the spring-time I gang wi* the bit 
lammies on the hill. I'll show ye thae lammies, gin ye'll bide 
wi' us, Sister Alice." 

She seemed amused and pleased, and her sweet winning 
looks stole the very heart of the afiectionate boy. He went 
boldly to his sister, kissed her mouth, and hugged her close, 
saying, " I'm unco glad ye're come, Sister Alice ; but gin ye - 
hadna come o' your ain will, I wad hae fought for ye and 
brought ye hame. Ye sail never gang awa mair." 

"Never gang awa mair ?" cried Alice, mimicking him, as 
she stole slily out of his embrace, and once more began danc- 
ing about the floor. 

The children forgot their supper in watching her, half with ' 
«hy wonder, half with delight ; so graceful, so blithe was she, 
(JO utterly free fro^i thought or care. But the neglected 
mother sat in a corner apart and mourned. 

More than once she came to her child, and with piteous 
tenderness looked into those blue eyes whose brightness was 
never shadowed by one cloud of regret, or emotion, or love. 

" Are ye no my Alice ]" she would say, imploringly ; " and 
haena ye ae kiss fer your ain mither that bore ye ? Ah, las* 
sie ! what wad I gie for ane wee wordie, just * Mither,' — 
naething mair." 

Alice shook her head, and laughed. " It's a new word ; I 
don't understand it." And then she went back to her sports 
among her brothers. 

Merry sports they were, and with much wonderment she 
sometimes paused to listen to Hugh's harangues, very sensi- 
ble for his years. 

" Ye're our ae sister, and we aye liked ye weel, though we 


never saw ye. Why did ye no oome liame ? Mitber used 
to greet for ye ; she aye loed ye aboon the lave/' 

Alice turned a eurious glance to her mother. ** What does 
loving mean V she asked. 

Hughie was puzzled. At last he tried a practical illustra- 
tion. He wrapped his arms round his fairy-like sister, and 
kissed her with childish fondness, which she did not repulse, 
though she took it coldly and wonderingly. 

" It means that;' said he, " an' it means that I'll tak tent 
o' ye, and I'll carry ye when ye're wearied, and treat ye weel, 
and no beat ye— as I beat Habbie and Sandy ; I'm your ain 
brither, and I loe ye, Alice dear !" 

Alice paused in her frolics, and putting her tiny hand among 
Hugh's curls, looked as if her eyes were drinking in from his 
some strange new lesson of human afiection. But, turning, 
she saw in a tiny mirror her own fair image ; suddenly, burst- 
ing away, she danced up to it, and became absorbed by pleas- 
ure at the sight of her glittering frock and her silver shoes. 

The night wore on ; the old grandmother had gone to her 
rest long ago, and knew nothing of the strange visitant who* 
had so fascinated the children. But at length even they grew 
weary ; while the little elfin maiden still frolicked, her broth- 
ers dropped away one after the other — and came, in the wea- 
ried, peevish mood that very young children have, to take 
shelter by their mother's side. Mistress Learmont soothed 
them, and folded her arms around thein, though in the troub- 
led bewilderment of her own mind she did not attempt to 
put them to bed. Whatever she did, or wherever she moved, 
her eyes never quitted her beloved first-born, whom now she 
left to her own devices, and tried to caress no more. 

Hugh was the last to leave his sister, but even he came to 
the ingle-side at length, rubbing his eyes, and looking dull 
and melancholy. n 

** She's no like a real lassie. She's unco' fair and unco' 


gleg, but she'll no be our ain sister," said he disconsolately, 
as he gathered himself up on the hearth, and laid his head 
wearily on his mother's knee. The twin-laddies were already 
dropping to sleep beside her, and wee Willie had nesitled close 
into her bosom. Marion kissed them all round, tenderly and 
with tears. 

While she did so, she was aware of the approach of her 
eldest child, who glided soflly into the circle. Alice's eyes 
were downcast, and there was a strange sadness in her as- 

" Mother /'* she said, and Marion could have shrieked 
with joy at the word. " Have ye got never a kiss for me V 

*' My bairn ! my bairn !'* she cried, but could not rise for 
the other sleeping children that clung round her. She stretch- 
ed out her hand and drew her daughter into the circle. Slow- 
ly, neither with impulse nor with hesitation, Alice came. 
Her bright face was rather grave, and there was a softer 
expression in her sparkling eyes. She let her mother fold 
her close to her breast ; and lay there quietly, though with- 
out any caresses. 

But for the mother herself, her joy was unutterable and 
without bounds. It forced itself out in sobs and tears, which 
fell on the neck of the fairy child. Alice recoiled. 

'' I do not like that ; the tears wet me. Why do you 

" For joy, my dochter. But I winna do't gin it grieves 
ye." And Marion tried to smile and be merry, though her 
heart was so full that the mirth seemed but an idle show. 

Alice leaned on her breast with a quiet contented look^ — a 
look subdued almost into earthliness — ^until the night wore on, 
and the light on the hearth faded. Then she drew herself 
away restlessly. 

" It's very dark and dull, and I'm cold, mother." 

" Come closer and I'll warm ye, my bairn ; I hae dime 

that, mony a nieht, to thae wee lads your brithert, that were 
born amid poortith, and cauld, and care." 

Alice looked frightened, and shivered more and more. "Is 
this what they call living on earth, mother ? If I had lived 
here among ye, wonld I have been hungry, and cold, and 
dreaeed in ugly clothes like you and my brothers there V 

" I fear ine, it wad hae been and will be, my Alice !" 
sighed the mother. '* Bnt we'll tend ye dose, and loe ye sae 
dear—- oh sae dear !*' 

In vague fear, the poor woman strained her daughter to 
her breast. Her coarse garments frayed the tender skin, her 
look and speech were almost rough in their passionate intens- 
ity. Yet the deep love in her eyes would to one who could 
feel and respond to it, have atoiied for and sublimated all. 
Bnt such a common-place, every-day thing as lave, was quite 
unknown in Fairyland. . 

Alice, half-fiightened, half-annoyed, crept a little way far^ 
ther from her mother. She had hardly done so, M^hen a cock 
crowing loudly from the farxn broke upon the night's silence. 
The children were all asleep ,* Marion herself, despite her 
struggles against it, felt herself ovdrpo^eisd as by a ha- 
zy ciream. Just as the cock crew, she heard dearjy, roll- 
ing nearer and nearer, the sound of wheels which had hex- 
aided her daughter's. coming. She knew instinctively that 
it was the signal for Alice's being snatched from her once 

She could not cry out or speak ; her tongue seemed bound. 
She only turned her imploring eyes to the little elfin-maiden, 
and saw with agony unutterable that the warning, to her so 
dreadful, had brightened her daughter's face with joy. ' 

** They're coming! I will soon be back i;i my merry home. 
Fare you well, good mother," cheerfully cried Alice* as the 
wheels stopped, and iei brilliant light glimmered through the 
black window and under the chinks of the crazy door '' Fare 


you well," she repeated, as with a sudden spring she bounded 
out of her mother's desperate hold. 

Marion's tongue was loosed ; she uttered a shriek like that 
we sometimes utter in dreamsi To herself it seemed the very 
rending of her soul ; but it was in reality a mere sigh, not 
loud enough to wake the infant who slumbered on her knees. 

She felt the little maiden turn and pat her cheek for a 
moment, escaping quickly and sofUy, like a bird out of the 

" Don't cry, mother ; it makes you look not pretty, and it 
hurts me. But I can't stay here ; I must go hack to my 
beautiful home." 

There was a light tap at the door, which was merely latch- 
ed. Now Marion knew that the fairies could only enter 
through a door left open, or opened unto them. She tried to 
rise, but could not. Then she made frantic signs to Alice to 
bolt and bar the entrance, but in vain. 

Another tap came ; for the daughter was pausing to look in 
mingled wonder and doubt on the agonized countenance of 
her mother. A third summons — and then, with her own 
hands, the changeling opened the door. 

A flood of light — a multitude of airy beings filling the 
gloomy house, and Alice herself, blithe and beautiful as any, 
flitting among them all ! 

It was but for a moment ; — ^then the vision began to fade, 
and the mother knew that her child was departed. With a 
vehement cry she called upon the one Name which all beings, 
of whatever race, must obey. 

The fairy-train paused, and Alice was lefl standing on the 
threshold, her eyes wandering between the lowly home within, 
and the brilliant pageant without. 

" What do you want with me 1" she said. "Must I stay 
and live here in this house ? It is so dark, so dreary. Yet, 
my mother—" 


She stood irresolute, looking at the little group among 
whom ibr one hour she had lain, encircled by caresses, and 
learning for the £nt time that there was a sweeter thing even 
than the perpetual pleasures of elfin-land. A little, too, she 
teemed moved by the despair with which the dumb, spell- 
bound mother stretched but imploring hands. 

" Choose, Alice, choose," chanted the elves from without, 
as the glitter of their invisible torches flashed upon her, light- 
ing up her fair countenance and her amber hair. 

She turned; their elfin glamour was cast over her, and 
every rising emotion of earth and earthly tenderness was 

" Farewell !'' she cried ; and without casting one more look 
at the dark cottage — the little brothers who lay sleeping 
where they had played with her — ^the poor mother, whose dumb 
anguish was all in vain — ^Alice passed from the threshold and 


All days and all years are alike in Fairyland. One after 
the other they glide, like waves in a river of which the cur- 
rent never changes. And though there are among these 
lightsome beings elves young and old, save that the infirmi- 
ties of age are unknown ; though as veracious chroniclers have 
asserted, they continually marry and replenish their commu- 
nity with elfin babes — still their existence flows on in a per- 
petual monotony; and their unreal pleasures remain always 
the same. 

Four winters had the snow gathered and melted on the 
crest of Eildon Hill, since Alice vanished from her mother's 
cottage, on that last New-year's mom. But summers and 
winters make no count in Elfland ; and it seemed to the 
changeling as if she had only been gone four days. 

No extraneous power can change the eternal laws of nature ; 
and, despite the will of the Queen of Fairies, the little stolen 
mortal had grown up to be a maiden of fourteen years. She 
was still tiny enough for an earthly damsel ; but she walked 
the soft sward of Fairyland, casting a gigantic shadow which 
quite alarmed her elfin mates. Even the queen herself, who 
bore the stamp of royalty as the tallest of her race, and who 
in past times had actually prided herself on being able, stand- 
ing tiptoe, to gird with her emerald girdle her earthly love, 
the Knight of Ercildoun— even the queen began to be 
indignant that her young handmaiden was an inch or two 
above herself, and was growing, she strongly suspected, very 
nearly as fair. 

" Look at her, my True Thomas," her majesty observed 


(for vnih trno tojbI capnoe, or from scarcity of stolen mortals, 
she had of late gone back to her old love) — *' Look how mun- 
dane she is, far too tall and round ; and her step is so heavy, 
it would crush half-a-dozen of my pet grasshoppers. Nay, she 
has even got a most unpleasant earthly gloom on her face ; 
as doleful as yourself, my kmght, when you begin to dream 
of the old tower where the owls hoot, and the corbie builds." 

True Thomas sighed. 

** Would you go back to earth again?" mocked the. queen, 
in her pretty willful way ; '* My sister majesty on the throne 
of Scotland is as fair, as love-winning, and — ^so you would say 
— ^as fatal in her love as myself. "Oh, it was a bonnie 
blaze that one night scared my elves who dwell underneath 
the Calton Hill 1 and truly there is no moonlight riding over 
the plain of Langsyde for the ugly corpses that lie bleach- 
ing there! Eh, would you go back to earth, my gallant 

The Rhymer's head fell on his breast. " For me," said he, 
mournfully ; "for me there is nae return. And I wadna see 
the black, black nicht that's fa'ing, and maun fa', ower my 
dear Scotland. But it's after mirkest nicht that glints the 
dawn. — I see't, I see't ! Years on years maun pass, and ne'er 
a queen's foot sail fa' on Scottish heather. And then ane 
comes — a Leddy wi' saft sma' tread ; wearing a marriage- 
ring that's dearer than her crown; hearing bairns' voices at 
hame, sweeter than a' the davers o' daft crowds. — ^Ah, she's 
the Queen for bonnie Scotland !" 

"Hold your tongue. True Thomas," said her Majesty, 
rather unceremoniously ; " no one here ever thinks of to-mor- 
row ; it is only you stupid mortals who bring the unpleasant 
word * future* into Fairyland. Look, as I said before, at your 
descendant there ; see her eyes, so clouded and grave ; can it 
be that despite my care the old Learmont leaven has reached 
her blithe spirit ?" 


The Rhyiper looked. AHce was walking slowly down the 
river-side, the same river which meandered through Fairy- 
land, rising and disappearing, how or whither none could 
trace. She had neared the place where the water lilies grew 
thick, and where they had once twined their long stems round 
the form of the mortal captive who lay theru three years 
bound, afu: from sweet Melrose. Some recollection seemed 
to possess the changeling, for she staid in the same spot 
where she had then staid to look at her father. Sitting 
down by the bank, she played with the water plants and dip- 
ped her fingers in the stream. It- went on singing over the 
pebbles with a kneilancholy 'monotonous flow, just like earthly 
rivers. Indeed, it seemed the only earthly sound in Fairyland. 

Alice listened, and slowly there came a deep strange pen- 
siveness to her eyes. 

" What hear ye, Alice ?" said Thomas of Ercildoun, com- 
ing nearer ; — ^for her volatile majesty of Elfland had suddenly 
descjried a lovely specimen of entomology sailing down the 
river-side, and had summoned all her court on a dragon-fly 
hunt ; leaving her mortal lover to dream on the green bank 
alone. ''Why barken ye to the stream wi' sic a waefu' 

Alice looked up. ''My heart ! is it so ? is this weight on 
my heart what my mother called care?'-^Then, I did not 
understand the word !" said she, musingly. 

" It is eyen sae. Were ye thinking o' your mither ?'* 

" I do that sometimes, now^ when I get dull and weary. 
It is so weary to be always gay — and then I was bom oh 
earth, and not in Fairyland." 

So said she, very gently, and with an altered tone of wo- 
manly thoughtfulness. Either the fairies' power had grown 
weaker, or the mother's prayers stronger ; but thore was cer^ 
tainly a change coming over the child. Having spoken, she 
again bent her head to the water, listening. 


«« What hear ye V* repeated Thomas, eagerly. 

" I hear the marmur of the river, and other Bounds that it 
brings with it, seemingly from a long way." 

" And thae sounds are unlike aught here 1 There's weep- 
ing and wailing, and saft sighs, and tears that fa' sweeter 
than kisses ? I ken them weel ; it's the sounds of earth that 
float alang wi' the earth-risen stream," cried the Rhymer, as 
he stooped and laved his hands and brow. " Oh, bonnie 
river, come ye frae the Tweed ; or frae my ain bright Leader, 
that rins by Ercildoun 1 Oh, sweet water ! whar did ye 
spring, and whither do ye flow V* 

His heart seemed bursting with those words, but very soon his 
aspect grew calm, and he again asked Alice what she heard. 

''I can hear naething of earth mysel," he said ; " never, 
«n' the day I shut my ear to ilka voice but that whilk led 
astray. But ye were stown awa, a puir bairn that kent nor 
gude nor ill. Listen, Alice, and tell me." 

"I hear great lamenting along the river-brink — screams 
of children in terror — and people shouting about some one 
being drowned. And now there's a choking cry — ah ! I know 
who that is ! It's Hughie, my bonnie brother, so kind and so 
brave ! I must run — ^I must run !" 

With an impulse, quite strange and unaccountable in Fairy- 
land, the earth-born maiden started ofi'and flew along toward 
the source of the river ; skimming almost like a bird over 
bush and brake, through green bank and morass, wherever 
the windings of the stream led. She thought not of her com- 
panion ; she never looked behind ; on she went, guided by the 
sound which she seemed still to hear — ^the gasping sobs of a 
drowning child. 

As Alice proceeded, the face of the country changed. The 
sunny plains of Elfland became grim rocks, through which 
the river flowed with angry bursts and moans. At last the 
thin rift of blue overhead altogether vanished ; she found her* 


8elf in a cavern hung with oozy water-plaats, and rugged 
with basaltic fragments. 

Alice knew she had passed from the domain of the meny 
earth-elves to the gloomy abode of the Kelpie, the water-de- 
mon, whose pleasures were only in the working of ill. There 
he sat, the grim creature — not beautiful, like the Queen of 
Fairies and her train — but foul and ugly to behold. His face 
and brawny shoulders were those of an old man, the gray 
wild hair drooping down like withered sedge ; but underneath, 
half in and half out of the water, his form was like that of a 
huge river-horse. He had a harp of reeds beside him, upon 
which he played sweet music to allure his prey ; and ever 
amidst his playing, he reared, snorted, and plunged, hoarsely 
laughing between, in a tone mockingly hum^n. 

So uncouth and fearsome a creature was he, that the child 
would have crept away in terror, but that far hid in the dark- 
ness of the cave, floating hither and thither upon the dark 
waters, she saw the glitter of yellow hair. It looked like the 
form of a drowned boy swaying to and fro on the surface. 

A strange emotion possessed the changeling-maiden ; — a 
feeling stronger than the desire for pleasure, or mirth, or sport 
— an emotion that drew her out of herself and toward another. 
The one night in her mother's cottage flashed upon her like a 
dream, not of weariness, but of sweetness. She hardly knew 
what she was doing, but somehow she murmured all the home- 
names, scarcely noticed at the time. While so doing, the 
waves stirred the face of the drowned child and turned it 
toward her. It was that of the eldest and most loving of her 
brothers — Hugh ! 

He lay, his bonnie face pale, but composed and sweet as if 
safely pillowed at home, instead of being tossed on those hun- 
gry waves. His fingers still tightly grasped his blue bonnet 
and his shepherd's stafl*, as though it were in fording some cur- 
vent that the Kelpie had overtaken him. He had grown into 


a Btuidy boy, bat the frank beauty of his mien was the same 
as when Alice had twisted her fingers in his curls, and looked 
for the first time in a brother's face. 

She remembered it all — and how in. the merry games of 
Fairyland she had often paused and wished for Hughie to 
come and say the sweet words^-never said or thought of by 
the lightsome elfin race, " I love you.^^ She longed to reach 
him, and hear them over again. 

" Hughie, brother," she whispered over the waves, but in 
vain : she dared not oome nearer the fierce Kelpie, who sat 
and played in dignified gravity, never looking toward the mor- 
tal who was invading his domains. And farther*— farther 
every minute, the river was drifting the helpless form of the 
drowned boy. 

Alice paused ajpaoment ; her bare feet trembled in the cold 
water, and among the sharp rocks ; then, acting on an impulse 
unknown before, she waded in — deeper — deeper, until her foot- 
ing slid from her. She had never heard of death ; yet as she 
felt her breath failing, some strange formless horror seemed to 
encompass her. Nevertheless, she tried to grasp the yellow 
hair, and to cling closer to her brother ; as if, whatever hap- 
pened, she would be safer and better thus. Then all sensa- 
tion ceased. 

She woke on the greensward of Fairyland, with Hughie 
tightly clasped in her arms, and over them bendbg the grave 
countenance of Thomas of Ercildoun. 

The seer looked from one to the other of the children ; 
but Alice noticed only Hughie, who still lay as. if asleep. 

" Oh ! wake him, wake him," she cried : and a new tone of 
human pain thrilled through her smooth accents of Fairyland. 

" He*ll waken soon, and then he must gang far, far awa, 
or e*er His morning on earth, and the queen comes hame to 
Fairyland. Haste ye, Alice ; kiss him ance, twice, and then 
bid him farewell. 


'* 1 will not let him go ; I want to keep him to play with — 
my own, own brother !'* 

** An' ye wad keep him — a fair christened wean, in this ill 
place, while his mither grieves the leelang day ? Ye wad gar 
him forget his hame, and a' that's gude, to bide here in Elf- 
land ? And when the seventh year comes roun', and they 
pay the teind to hell — he's sae fat and fair, and weeMiking : 
oh ! wae's me for the lad !" 

This and more the Rhymer urged ; but little did Alice 
heed, or at least seem to heed. She smiled and laughed in 
wild elfin pleasure, as slowly Hughie opened his eyes. But 
not a word he said, except one bitter cry — " Hame — ^hame— 
I maun gae hame.'* 

Alice led him every where, and showed him the fair land- 
scapes and the banquet hall^— 'but he took ho pleasure therein. 

" Oh, let's gae hame," he said perpetually. " It's a br"v 
land, but it'sno like hame. Sister Alice, I daurna bide wi' ye. ' 

His sister listened, and her bright face was troubled with 
thought. '^ Must ye go, Hughie ?" she said,' now for the first 
time learning how Bweet it was to share a pleasure that did 
not centre in herself alone ; learning, too, a little of that pain 
of parting, without which the happiness of afiiection were as 
unreal as light without shadow. 

" Must ye go ?" she repeated, sadly. As she spoke, it was 
already dawn in the world, and the ringing of the fairy 
bridles was heard afar, beyond the golden gates of Elfland. 

Alice grasped her brother — ^who now or never must be 
saved to return to earth. " You will not stay then, Hughie 
dear? Ah well ! it's best not. They're oftentimes weari- 
some — all the feastings, and dances, and pleasures. Go back 
to our mother, and bid her remember me." 

Half sadly the little maiden spoke ; but there was no time 
to talk more — for flashing through the golden gates came the 
faiiy cavalcade. 


" Wc must be gone/* said Alice. " I know the earthward 
way /' and wrapping her arms round her young brother, she 
drew him uito a brake of fern. She gathered a bunch of 
fern-seed, which, plucked on earth at St. John's Eve will 
make the wearer invisible — and set it in Hughie's bonnet. 

Then she took him by the hand, and led him secretly 
toward the entrance of Fairyland. As they went out, they 
saw, standing behind them with sad eyes, him who never 
might pass those gates to his beloved country — Thomas the 
Rhymer of Eroildoun. 

'*Is it far we hae to gang? and will ye gang wi' me^ 
Sister Alice V asked the boy. 

" Ay," said Alice ; " as far as may be." 

So these children took together their strange journey. It 
was all amidst darkness ; there was neither sun nor moon. 
Sometimes a pale, weird-like auroral light glimmered above 
them, showing each the other's face, dim and wan. At other 
times they went through mirk ways, seeing nothing, but hear- 
ing awful sounds like forests of trees soughing wildly, or 
waterfalls dashing, or seas roaring, close by. Again, they 
seemed to wade through deep rivers as red as blood ; and 
then their feet slid along great masses of ice, or sank in black 
morasses. Alice always led the way, silent, but holding fast 
her brother's hand. 

Hughie went on, not in his usual daring mood, but heavily 
like a boy in a dream. At times his feet lagged on the toil- 
some road, and he began to moan ; then Alice would pause, 
and try to teach herself those things which women of earth 
leani instinctively, and have to practice all their hfe — ^how to 
bear with and to confifort the afflicted. It was a new lesson, 
but very sweet. 

On they went, over river and plain, mountain and valley, 
until at last they came to a cavern ending in a great doorway 
fashioned of green stone. Through its crevices glided a pale 


ray, like daylight, or like moonlight upon snow. By this 
glimmer they saw indistinctly the latter part of the way they 
had come ; a steep path, rising, as it were, out of the depths 
of the earth. Between them and the light were these gigan- 
tic doors. 

Hughie sat down before them, and wept : " Ah, Sister 
Alice, I will never reach hame ! I'll lay me doun and dee.'* 

But Alice showed him a cranny in the stone, through 
which came a broad beam of light — and bade him peep 

" Tell me, what see ye, Hughie dear V* 

"I see a long, white snaw drift, braid and still. We're on 
a hill-tap, and the morn's blinking out i' the east, and the 
cocks are era wing afar. There's the Abbey o' Melrose ! Oh, 
Sister Alice, we're close at hame !" 

He set up a shout of joy which made the black vault ring • 
and stretching his hand through the tiny hole, gathered some 
of the snow — the blessed snow which lay upon earthly 
plains ! and put it to his parched lips. For he was weary 
and worn, poor child ; while Alice looked as fresh and fair as 
she had done in the haunts of Fairyland. But while he 
smiled, she sighed. 

" Yes, you will be soon at home, Hughie. Are you glad 
to go ?" 

" Ay, unco glad ! I'll rin doun the hill-side, and ower the 
brig, and creep in at the byre, for the ha' door's steekit fast ; 
an' gin our inither comes to milk the kye, I'll loup intil her 
arms. Then I'll ca' Habbie, and Sandy, and winsome Willie, 
and we'll a' be blithe thegither. Come, Sister Alice," added 
he, advancing to the heavy door, " tirl the pin, and let's 
awa I" 

" Away, then," said Alice, sadly ; and fare you well, my 
bonnie brother that I will never see more !" 

He hardly heard her, so eager was he in looking for the in- 


visible {asiemmg of the door. The xnoment his fingen touch- 
ed it, it opened of its own accoTd, wide enough to admit of 
the boy's passing. He leaped through in an instant. 

« Come awa, quick, sister I" cried Hugh, stretching out his 
hand from the other side. 

** I cau not. They stole me^ an uhchristened child ; I may 
not return to earth, unless they please. See, brother, the 
gates are closing, and crushing me. Ah, hold them back !" 

For a minute the boy's fearless hands did as she bade ; the 
brother and sister clung together and kissed one another sor- 
rowfully through the opening that was momently diminishing 
between them. Then the great green doors closed with a 
hollow clang, and not a trace remained of where they had 

Hughie sat and wept, all alone, on the snowy hill-side. 


" AwA wi* your father, my bonnie sons; I wadna ye suld 
bide at haiqe wi' a pair sipk doited body like mysel. Though 
it's weariewark, lyia' here my lane ; — ^but maybe it's no for 

The words, faint but patient, began cheerfully, and ended 
in a half audible murmur. Mistress Learmont leaned back 
on the couch that was made up for her near the ingle-side, 
and looked fondly, yet sorrowfully on her three t^l lads, now 
fast outgrowing boyhood. There were but three, Hugh and 
the twins. Winsome Willie, the youngest, had been covered 
up to sleep in the green kirkyard of Melrose— one of those lost 
darlings who are destined to live in household-memory, en- 
dowed with the beauty of perpetual babyhood. 

The triad of brothers left, Hugh, Halbert, and Alexander 
— though from the Scottish habit of diminutives, rarely 
enough did they win that full-lettered dignity — were near ol 
an age and near of a height; fine bold fellows, exalting the 
honors of the Learmont name through all the country round 
— ay, even though they were but plow*boys and herd-laddies 
For to that low estate had their fortunes dwindled at last, 
when Queen Mary, needing no court nor guard, pined away 
in Tntbury-hold, and her archer, Thomas Learmont, return- 
ed to his old home. The next generation bade fair to merge 
the race of the old Knights of Ercildoun into mere tillers of 
the field and keepers of flocks and herds. Dame Learmont, 
now dead and gone, was the last that ever owned that honor- 
ary title. 

" It's no for lang — it's no for lang," repeated the mother, 
as scarce reluctantly the lads obeyed her and went out, leav- 


ing her with a senranMassie. " It's sair to bide, though, 
while it lasts. A twalvmonth and mair I haena stirred 
frae this ingle-side. It was i* the winter time, ye ken, lass, 
that I fell sick ; and now the winter's here ance mair. Eh ? 
what day is*t, Meg 1 Meg Brydon, I say !" 

But the faint voice scarcely reached the careless young dam- 
sel, who stood watching the comer of the kailyard — ^it might 
be for the sake of enjoying that pleasant sight, a red winter 
sunset; especially as the foreground object was Jock the shep-- 
herd-Iad leaning against a dyke and whistling amain. 

" Wae's me !" " sighed Mistress Learmont, as she ceased 
the vain call, and sank down once more on her uneasy pillow. 
" It's aye the same, and sae 'twill be till I am laid under the 
mools. Braw, sons I hae, and a husband leal and kind, but 
they're no like a dochter. Ah ! I mind when I was a lassie, 
and had a mither o' my ain — a puir wee wifie she was, sick 
and dowie, for she had ay a dour life o' mickle wae — I mind 
how ane day, when I was sitting by her, and she near her 
end, she said, ' Marion, ye hae been a gude bairn to me, a' 
your days ; I ken nae what ye're ettled to be, nor how ye* 11 
gae through this wearie warld ; but, Marion, your mither 
leaves ye ane blessing, better than a* — ^May ye hae a dochter 
like yoursel I' — But I hae nane, and never will ! Oh ! 
Alice, Alice, wherefore did ye gang 1 

Thus, bitterly moaning to herself over her never-healed loss, 
the mother lay. Meg Brydon had stolen out to Whistling 
Jock, leaving the door a little way open. — The sharp winter 
air blew in upon the sick woman. 

*' Meg, can ye no come and hap me better 1 it's sair cauld. 
Ye dinna speak ; ye canna be fashed wi' a puir sick body. 
Oh, dear Meg, be kind till me, just for a wee whilie — I'H no 
trouble ye lang. What, ye're gane ? Aweel, it's nae won- 
der — I'm no your mither, lass. But, oh, gin I had my ain 
dochter ! Alice, Alice !" 


The heart'Wnuig cry was suddenly stopped. While she 
called, Marion saw, or fancied she saw, looking in at the 
frosted window*panes, a face, which by the dim light of fading 
day seemed that of a young woman. But there was a like- 
ness in it that made a thrill of awe come over her— a likeness 
unseen for twenty years. 

She said to herself — ** It maun be that my end is near ; 
and that my mither is come back — come frae the grave to 
* tak me hame,' as she said. Aweel, I'm ready ; I downa 
care to bide langer. But oh, mither, gin I had, like ye, 
a dochter to close my een !- Oh ! that she were here— my 
bairn Alice!" 

While she was speaking the face had vanished ; but with 
her latter words it reappeared. Sweet it was, and tender in 
aspect, wearing that fair and angelic look always given by 
golden hair. Well might the sick woman have mistaken it 
for a vision from the land of the blessed ! But as its eyes met 
hers, they took a human look, almost amounting to grief 
Marion began to doubt. 

" It's like her, yet it's no hersel — ^It's nae spirit for it 
stands dark atween me and the sky. Is it my bairn, that I 
wished might bear my mither's likeness ? Is it my bairn 
that I haena seen for seven years ] Alice, AUce !" 

'* I am here, mother," was the answer, heard indistinctly 
through the open door. 

Marion uttered a great cry. She tried to raise herself, but 
her limbs were powerless. 

** In the name o' God ! my dochter, come ben !" 

Alice stepped over the doorway, and came in. 

She stood in the middle of the room, a maiden of seventeen 
years. Her features had sharpened out into distinct form 
and thoughtful beauty. She was neither like her mother, nor 
her father — except in the color of her hair ; but bore the 
likeness which Marion had so desired when she gave her 


fint-bom the name of Alice— her awn mother's name. So 
strong was the resemblance, that, when the girl stood, still 
a&r off, in her white clothing, with her hands loosely folded 
together and her eyes bent tenderly forward, the sick woman 
looked at her daughter with a aort of awe, as if there had still 
been some reality in her first fancy, and Alice were indeed a 
visbn from the dead. 

" Are ye my bairn ?" she whispered solemnly. " Are ye 
flesh and blade— ^ny flesh and my blude— my ae dochter that 
I bore?" 

Alice approached, and stood at her mother's feet. 

'' I am your bairn. Will ye take me, mother, for this 
lyght ? I was so wearying to come home." 

" My bairn — my dear Alice — ^my lassie true and kind !" 
cried the mother, stretching out longing arms. But in vain, 
for her strength was gone. 

" I canna reach ye,*' she said piteously. " I'm sair changed 
and weak. I do naething but mum and mum a' the day. 
Ye maun tak your puir auld mither to your arms, Alice, for 
she canna tak ye in hers." 

Alice looked surprised, anxious, griered, at the worn face, 
and the gray hairs which had come before their time. For 
though Mistress Learmont was not old, the cares and sorrows 
of her life, its poverty and its toil, had made her ^em like a 
woman far gone in years. Her beauty had faded ; all except 
the one charai that she could, not lose— the mild patience 
which sat like a glory in her eyes. It touched Alice as some- 
thing new — something never seen in Fairyland. It subdued 
her so, that she, in all her loveliness of unclouded youth, came 
near, and bending down lowly, knelt before her sick mother, 
and threw round the shivering frame her shining arms. 

'' Are ye come back, my dearie 1 come back for gude and 
a' ?" whispered Marion, giving herself up to the uncontrollable 

AI4CE U^B^C^O?. 837 

Alice sighed; ay, a real sighi tbe first the idother had ever 
heard on her lips. *' Nay, vfe will not speak of that. I am 
here now. They let me come the minute the sun set, because 
my longings made their power weak. Are you glad to see me, 
mother ?" 

" Glad, my bairn !" echoed Marion in a tone that was suf- 
ficient answer. 

Her daughter looked round, half-curiously, yet with a min- 
gling of interest. " It's the same place I, see, the room where I 
and my brothers played so merrily. Where's Hughie, mother ? ' ' 

*' He's gane wi' the rest to follow the plough, or fetch the 
kye hame ; or maybe he's awa to some ploy or ither. He's a 
pawky lad— our Hugh." 

" Does he mind of me, mother ?" 

" Ay ; often thae callants talk o' wee Alice that was wi' 
them seven years syne ; and ance when Hughie was missing 
on the hills for a day. and a nicHt, he cam hame saybg he 
had been dreaming that he fell intil the Tweed, and that \m 
sister Alice saved him. He kent nae mair. But 'twas unco 

Nothing did Alice say, for she knew that those who return 
from Fairyland have no clear remembrance of aught that has 
happened to them there. Only thinking of her brother Hugh 
and of that wondrous journey, she smiled pensively. 

In her smile the likeness she bore grew stronger. Marion 
watching her, saw it. She took her daughter's face between 
her hands, and said, 

" Look sae ance mair, Alice ! Ye're ker very picture. I 
didna see't till this day, when ye're grown a woman, grave 
and dowie like. Ye hae her een, and her bonnie bree wi' the 
hair lying Qcft aboon ; only yours is bright as gowd, and hers 
Was like threads of siller — ^my puir auld mither I But I'm 
glad ye're like her, Alice ; I'm unco glad !" 

Her voice was trembhng through tears ; her words, feeble, 


** manndering," and long drawn oat» bespoke the wandering 
fiincies of sickneis. When she ceased, her head sank back 
ezhaasted on the pillow. 

Alice stood wistfully regarding that — to her — strange new 
sight— disease and pain. 

" What ails you, mother t What can I do for you ?" she 
asked, more by the human and womanly instinct within her, 
than by any deeper feeling. 

" I*m very sick, Alice ; and I hae naebody to tend me. Oh, 
gin ye'd gie me a drink, and bathe my bree, and kame my 
hair," she moaned, looking imploringly at her daughter. 

Alice rose up, and went about the house, not as in yean 
before, with flaunting childish mien, but with the grave light 
footsteps of maidenhood. She went — all in her bright cloth- 
ing, still redolent of the odors of Fairyland ; she brought the 
light, and got ready the cool drink— doing things which she 
had never done before, but which her earthly nature instinct* 
ively taught her. 

" Ah, it's sweet, sae sweet," murmured the sick woman, 
receiving, for the first time, the cup from her daughter's hand. 
" Ilka thing tastes gude frae ye, my lassie, as my ain mither 
was wont to say to me lang syne. God help thae puir auld 
bodies that hae ne*er a dochter !" 

Alice smiled, and in her cheek, always so clear, rose a trans- 
parent flush of pleasure-^pleasure quite different to what was 
so called in Elfland. 

Her mother, a little revived, sat up iu her bed, and looked 
at her once more ; it seemed as if she could never tire of such 
gazing, which absorbed all thought, but of the present. 

'* Ye*re a sweet lassie, AUce-— and fair to see. But I dinna 
like thae braws — ^they're no fit for a puir man's bairn,"- said 
she, touching the glittering robes, armlets, and jewels, or 
what seemed such — ^with which her daughter was adorned 
Alioe looked vexed. 


" Aweel, my dearie, I wadna grieve ye. Only it gars ye 
seem as if ye were a grand leddy, and no my ain dochter ; — 
whilk, maybe, is but the truth/' added she, sadly. 

Alice sat a minute in thought ; then, without speaking, she 
went to the corner where thick in dust hung some of her 
mother's garments, long unworn through sickness. She strip- 
ped off all her shining gauds, and dressed herself in these 
coarse clothes, which, while somewhat hiding her form, made 
her look sweeter and fairer, because more like a mortal 

" Ah I I ken ye now — ^ye're my ain, my ain," cried the 
mother embracing her. ** Ye'U loe me— and tend me — ^and 
never, never part frae me I" 

The girl sighed, but made no answer ; and began quietly 
to fulfill all a daughter's offices toward the sick woman. She 
bathed her face, and taking off her cap, let down the hair al- 
ready turned tc gray. Alice paused, with the locks in her 

"Are you very old, mother? Will you never be young 
and fair-looking any more ? Do all people that live on earth, 
grow feeble as you ?" 

** In time — ^my bairn — ^in time ! But it's naething. I was 
a bonny lass mysel, ance — ^when I married your father, and 
even when I brought ye into the w'arld. But I forget a' that. 
It's sweeter to be an auld wifie, and hae a bonnie dochter 
smilin' near. Then, a body isna feared for growin' auld." 

Her cheerful look, as she leaned forward and let Alice comb 
her gray hair, was almost like the smile of young Marion 
Learmont, when, seventeen years before, she sat tying the 
fatal green round the cradle of her expected babe. Her over- 
laden heart heaved a sigh of entire content ; and again and 
again she drew Alice closer, to look into her young face, and 
admire the maidenly beauties of her form. In this maternal 
love was an exulting pride, almost as strong as that with which 


a young man vatches the dawning perfections of hifl xmitieHi 
— a pride which none oan know or understand hut a mother 
who beholds her only daughter woman-grown, and feels lier 
own youth restored in the fidr completeness of what was once 
a frail baby-life trembling at her breast. 

An hour passed in this deep serenity of joy ; and then Meg 
Brydott came creeping in, eyeing with shame and discomfiture 
her forsaken mistress. 

" Gang your gate, Meg,*' said Mistress Learmont, cheer- 
fully. " I will need ye nae mair ; I hae my ain dochter, 
that's come hamethis nicht. Look ye here, Meg Brydon : — 
isna she a bonnie lass?" 

But Meg, frightened at the apparition of the fair creature 
that sat beside Mistress Learmont*s bed, and remembering 
all the tales of the stolen Alice, took hastily to flight. The 
mother and daughter were left together, as before. 

'' We*ll be our lane the hale picht, maist likely," said Marion 
to her child. " It's New Year's night, ye ken, and your father 
and the three callants are down at Melrose, keeping Hog- 
manay. I forbade them to bide at hame— douf and dowie 
wi' me. But, my Alice, I kenn'd na then I wad hae thee !'* 

So amidst long talk and sweet pauses of silence, the night 
passed away. Then, for the first time, Alice heard the 
things pertaining to simple earthly lore ; of precious home- 
bonds ; of afflictions softened by tenderness ; of trials made 
holy by patience) ; of human sorrows, that go hand-in-hand 
with human joys ; of evil enhancing good ; of wrong creating 
forbearance ; and long-sufiering, ever present love, reigning 
triuinphant over all. 

These many things did Marion Learmont teach unto her 
daughter, though so unconsciously, that any stranger listening 
would have said that it was merely an ** auld wife clavering" 
to a young girl about former days, and her own past life, to- 
gether with the events of her family. Nothing wonderful 


she told — only that history which belongs to every householcl 
and every individual, in all times ancient or modern, of which 
the text, adduced either as example or warning, perpetually 
is, or ought to be, these words — the honey of the world's bit- 
ter cup—" My little children, love one another P 

It might be about ten o'clock, at night when the solitude of 
Marion Learmont and her daughter was broken by voices at 
the door vdthout. 

Alice trembled, and instinctively clung to her mother's 

" Oh, hold me fast ; just a little while longer," she whispered 

" What for do ye fear, my lassie? It's naebody but your 
ain father, and your brithers three ; stand and let them see 
ye, my dochter." 

With a sweet and bashful grace, her face yet pale from the 
unexplained terror, Alice stood — a vision of beauty — before 
her rough sire and her three wild brothers. They were ut- 
terly confounded. 

f * What's this, Marion ?" said the late archer of Queen 
Mary's guard, stooping his yellow locks, now growing grizzled 
and thin, near his ailing wife, and trying to lower his strong 
voice so as not to jar upon her feeble ear. 

"It's our Alice, our first-born. She's come hame. Gieher 
your blessing." 

"Eh, our Alice that was stown awa ?" said Thomas Lear- 
mont, who, like all recovered mortals, was utterly oblivious 
of the past, and bore no memory of the stream in Fairyland, 
or the little elfin daughter that used to visit him there. 
" Alice come back I Sure, lass, I'm unco glad to see ye !" 

He took her in his sturdy arms, and his hearty parental kiss 
resounded over the whole house. 

" Whar hae ye been, ye foolish lassie ? ye hae caused us 
micklc dule. Ye suld hae came back for your puir mither'a 



sake, that needs a lass-bairn to tend on her, instead of thaa 
big caUants and mysel, though we aye do our best. But 
ye'U fare better now, Marion woman I" 

He patted his wife's shoulder with his huge hand, and she 
looked up tenderly at him. Times were changed with them, 
and tbey were changed too— -except in the afiection which oa 
both ndes had lasted, and would last, until the end. 

Meanwhile the three lads had hung back, oppressed with 
the uncouth shyness peculiar to their age. Only Hugh 
among them took courage to lift up his eyes and speak to 
sister Alice. He had grown a sturdy fellow, less bonnie, per- 
haps, than in childhood, but with the promise of becoming a 
Learmont worthy even as True Thomas of a Queen of Fairies' 

His sister came and looked up in his face — a decided look- 
ing up, for she was a wee creature always, quite elf-Uke in 
proportion, when standing beside her big brother of thirteen 
years old. 

** Hughie, dear ! won't you speak to me?" 

Hughie cast his eyes upon her shyly, but tenderly, "Ay, 
1*11 do that — I mind ye now, sister Alice, and a' the things 
I dreamed about ye ; and," he added mysteriously, " I ken 
ye hae been wi* the gude neighbors, and I hae sought ye in 
ilka green ring, and aye at Hallowe'en, but I couldna find 
ye. Ye're found now I Oh, but we'll keep Hogmanay, 

As a mild way of expressing his feelings, Hughie tossed up 
his bonnet in the air, and executed a brief fragment of a reel, 
which drove Habbie and Sandy out of the reach of his legs 
with great precipitation. 

" Ye're richt, lad," said the father, turning round vidth a^ 
loud cheerful laugh. " Auld wife, it's our blithest New Year 
yet, and we'll keep it brawly ; sitting here wi' a' our bairns 
round us !" 


" Save ane," whispered the mother, " wee Willie, that's 
sittin' this ae nicht ia heaven at His feet." 

Thomas Learmoht took o£f his honnet, so did the lads ; and 
there was silence in the house for a minute. It was a pause 
consecrated to the memory of the one lamh lost out of the 
flock to he gathered into the safe fold of the Great Shepherd. 

Then began the merriment of Hogmanay — ^kept as merrily 
in those olden days as now. Parents and children gathered 
round the fire, which, for this occasion only was piled up with 
faggots that would have done honor to the time when tho 
wine ran red, and the hospitable ingle blazed perpetually in 
the Tower of Ercildoun. The young Learmonts sported, 
shouted, and danced ; but whenever the uproar grew too wild, 
Alice's gentleness fell like dew upon the other three, softening 
rudeness or contention, coming among her troop of brothers 
to be what a sister can always be, the healer of discord, the 
soother, the refiner. 

■ All these things she had learned, partly by nature — hei 
mother's nature, which was inherent in her ; and partly by 
the sudden instinct, developed at once, during the few hours 
when she had lain listening to that mild speeeh which first 
put all a daughter's emotions into her heart. 

She was very happy too. Ay, though on this memorable 
night when she began to feel altogether like a maiden of earth, 
she grew hungry — and the food was coarse ; weary — and was 
startled by her father's loud laugh, so difierent from the lull- 
ing melodies of Fairyland ; though oftentimes her brothers' 
noisy play jarred upon her delicate senses, and their rough 
caresses half-frightened her — still, she was happy. She had 
learnt for the first time the great secret of all human happi- 
ness — ^family love. 

The hour came, the eerie time between the night and the 
day, between the past and coming year — the hour which had 
brought Alice into the world. As the clock chimed, Thomas 


Leannont took his first-bom and only daughter in his amis 
and blessed her ; vhile the parental love, which is an instinct 
in a mother, but in a father is usually the growth of years, 
and dependent on external sympathies, rose to his heart, and 
fell in drops from his manly eyes. 

Then her mother kissed ber fondly, and afterward her 
brothers did the same — awkwardly and shyly, as all brothers 
do, at the age when the testifying of household affections 
seems to them undignified — ^in fact, a positive sin against the 
independence of boyhood. All said, " God bless thee, Alice — 
our Alice !" and she felt that she was indeed one of them, 
ready to share all things with them, through good and evil ; — 
that the soUtary delights of Elfland were desired by her no 

"Now, gang to your bed, my dochter," said Mistress 
Learmont tenderly, when, the New Year having fairly com- 
menced, the three lads were dispatched to sleep and quiet- 
ness, during the only portion of the twenty-four hours that 
they ever were quiet. "But yet I canna tine ye for an 

" Oh, do not, mother," sighed Alice, while the olden shadow 
of fear troubled her face. " Hold me fast — ^fast ; let me not 


"Ay, the lass is skeared. Nae doubt; the place looks 
drearie like— bide ye wi' your mither, Alice," said Thomas 
Learmont kindly, as he rolled himself in his plaid and lay 
down at the outer door. 

So Alice, exhausted with a joy that made her feel weak 
and trembling like any earthly maiden, crept gladly to the 
maternal breast. 

She had not slept there long, when she was wakened with 
the dawn glimmering into her eyelids. Very soon that dim 
ray was swallowed up in one far brighter. The whole house 
was filled with light, and thrilled with delicious music. 


Alice knew it well. The sweet summons reached her as one 
of doom. It was the fairy people come to take her away. 

Shuddering she. listened, and with an instinct natural and 
child-like, yet alas ! to her so new, tried to wake her mother. 
But Marion Learmont slept soundly, with a sweet smile on 
her worn face, which in this happiness seemed almost to have 
renewed its youth. She slept as if a deep spell was upon her, 
blinding her to her child's peril. Only in sleep she held hei 
arms so tightly wound round her, that Alice felt a kind of 
safety in their fold. From thence the poor maiden looked 
out and watched the elfin people gathering round the bed. 

"Come, Alice; come, pretty Alice," sang they, amidst 
their gambols. *' Are you not weary of these coarse laidly 
mortals ? Come back to us, quick ! " 

" Oh, let me stay a little longer," implored the girl. " I 
am so tired of dancing and singing. I had rather bide at 

"Hey ho!" laughed out the Elf-queen, stepping lightly 
into the ring, " this is something quite new. What has come 
over my young hand-maiden ? She would like to stay in a 
wretched tumble-down dwelling where the rain always comes 
in and the smoke never goes out ; and to live with such people, 
too ! Entering the door, which he lefl open to stretch his feet 
through, I had to step over such a lumbering carcass of a mor- 
tal. Faugh 1 is my young Thomas Learmont come to this ? 
a thing with grizzled hair and coarse hands !" 

" He is my father, my kind good father," cried Alice. 

" And that woman there, how ugly ; why, I could lay my 
little finger in each of her wrinkles." 

" My mother, my own mother that I love !" Alice answered, 
as she turned and pressed her young lips to every furrow 
marked in the withered brows. 

The elves set up a shout of derision. 

" Nay, Alice/' said the queen, her silvery laughter makinf 


a pleaBEDt under-tone of melody, " this may be all very well 
ibr some common tastes, but not for a descendant of my True 
Thomas, who gave up all for me. Ay, all ! though the Tow- 
er of Ercildoun was a home rich and fair, while this is a poor 
cottage ; — ^though he was held the noblest knight in all Scot- 
land, while you are just a farmer's lass. Be wise, simple one ; 
come back to former ways and former delights." 

At her signal the elves began to dance the old delicious 
measures which Alice remembered well. So strong was the 
enchantment that she had need to close her eyes and stop her 
ears lest she should be allured against her will. Had it not 
been that her mother's arms were so closely locked around 
her, perhaps she would even have leaped forth and joined the 
rout of frantic pleasure. 

All at once it paused, melting into delicious soul-enticing 
music, through which was only heard the voice of the Elf- 
queen, murmuring " Alice, come." 

She lifled her head and said firmly, *' I will not come." 

There was a loud and angry wail, like that o( the wind 
tearing the trees, a rolling like thunder, and in these sounds 
the music died. 

" Do as you list, foolish mortal," Alice heard uttered in a 
sharp sarcastic voice by her side, though she saw nothing. 
'' It matters not to us, for you will soon be ours. It is day- 
light and we must be away to Fairyland ; while those arms 
still hold you safe from bur power. But by the next twilight 
when the shadows fall grey behind Eildon Hill, ha ! ha ! ha ! 
— Foolish Alice, foolish Alice, when this is the seventh year 
— and a mortal fair as you will please the Fiend well. Ho, ho !" 

A shout of angry laughter shook the roof; the elves van- 
ished, and the whole house lay silent in the dawn. 

Mistress Learmont woke, and tremblingly felt for her 
daughter. Her beloved Alice lay in her bosom, quite still 
and pale, with open eyes watching the sunbeams creep along 


the floor. It was the first time Marion had ever seen that 
face in daylight — the first time Alice had ever heheld the sun 
— the warm,' healthy, labour-inspiring, earth-risen sun. 

" Is this morning ?" she said, softly, turning her eyes, full 
of strange pensiveness, on her mother. 

** It is, my bairn ; God-be wi' ye on this braw New Year." 

Alice was silent. She scarce understood the blessing ; it 
belonged to a lore not taught in Fairyland. Soon afterward 
she said, still keeping her thoughtful look — 

" Mother, how long do you call a day — ^from twilight to twi- 

'' It's unco short now, frae sunrise to sunset ; we hae scarce 
time for the wark that maun be dune." 

" Nor I," said Alice, sadly. " Mother, may I rise V 

She rose accordingly ; and Marion Learmont beheld her 
daughter moving about the house like other mortal daugh- 
ters, ready to fulfill all the duties that it behooved her to learn. 
Very pale and clear Alice's features looked in the bright day- 
light. There was even a wan unearthly aspect about her — 
a weariness and painful repose. All the day she comported 
herself thus ; doing whatsoever became her station, and doipg 
it in a manner that seemed as if she had been used to it all 
her life. Only when the neighbors came in to stare at her, 
and some marveled at her wondrous grace, and some jested 
bitterly about Thomas Learmont's lost daughter, who had 
come back they knew not from where, Alice would shrink 
away and hide herself by her mother's side, where alone she 
seemed to find entire content and rest. 

It was a dull winter day, and the forenoon had scarcely 
passed, when black rain-clouds grew heavy over Eildon Hill. 
As they darkened, evermore Alice's sweet face darkened too. 
She would pause continually in her light labor or her pleas- 
ant talk, and look sorrowfully at her mother, as if she could 
not find speech to tell her pain. As the afternoon closed in. 


and the mid-day meal being over, the father and brothers went 
back to their toil — ^Alice, sitting with her mother, grew con- 
tinually sadder and sadder. Nevertheless, she went about 
the house, heaped fagots on the fire, prepared food, and did 
every thing for the sick woman's comfort, just as if she her- 
self had been going away and wished to leave every thing in 
neat order, so as to be comfortable for the one she loved. 

She took one other precaution, before she came and sat 
down at her mother's side ; — she bolted and barred the doors, 
leaving no entrance from without. But she did it with a 
despairing look, as though she knew that all was in vain. 

About dusk Marion Learmont fell asleep ; but waking 
soon after, asked for water. Alice brought her a pitcher-full. 

" Ah, not that, my bairn ; I wad like a draught frae that . 
bonnie bum ye see,'' said she, with feverish longing. " It's 
no mony steps frae this, and it rins ower pebbles sae fresh and 
clear. Alice, will ye gang ?" 

Alice sighed, as though knowing all that would follow from 
this request, so meekly and unconsciously made. But there 
was no resisting the mother's desire. She took up hei; pitch* 
er, and went. 

She came back again, very pale, with quick wild steps. 
There was a sound following her, like the soughing of an 
angry wind, though nothing could be seen. 

Hurriedly the girl put the cup to her mother's lips. 

" Drink, mother, drink, and then kiss me ; for I must go." 

" Whar, my lassie ?" 

" Far away, far away, with those you know. They drag 
me, they constrain me. Mother, I can not stay !" 

Her voice was almost a scream, and she writhed Uke one 
struggling with invisible hands. 

*' Oh, remember me, mother, and I'll remember you ! And 
ah ! keep Hughie safe, that he comes no more into their 
power, where I stay miserable and against my will." 


" Then ye sail be saved, my bairn," cried the mother, rising 
from her first numbed terror into supernatural strength. ** He 
that gave ye to me— He that is the keeper o' your saul — in 
greater than they that baud ye fast. He winna leave ye to 
perish. He will help your mither to save ye. How maun I 
do 't 1 Tell me, Alice, my ae dochter — ^my first-bom, sent by 
God I" 

As she uttered the great Name, a wild and mournful cry 
arose. With it was mingled Alice's voice : 

" Ay ! save me, mother. Stand at the four cross roads, 
on the eve of Koodmass, when we all ride. Ye'U see me. 
Snatch me, and hold me fast, and have no fear. Oh ! save 
me, mother, mother !" 

It was only a voice that spoke— nothing more. Alice had 
melted out of sight. Her cry of " Save me, save me !" died 
away in distance and silence ; and the mother heard nothing 
•^felt nothing — ^but the bitter winter wind blowing through 
the open door. 


Far far through all the black depths of the underground 
world, did the elves bear their changeling maiden ; now, for 
the first time, an unwilling and sorrowful prey. Feeble and 
exhausted she was too, even like any mortal girl, worn out by 
weeping and regret. 

" Now, Alice, thou art the most foolish damsel on earth," 
said the blithesome queen, who had not feeling enough to be 
either angry or revengeful. " To think of your desiring to 
remain behind, and crying your sweet eyes blind because the 
thing was impossible. Look, how near shines the golden 
gate ; soon we will be once more in Fairyland.** 

But Alice wept on. 

" I never knew such a provoking little mortal. Don't 
go on dreaming, Alice. Look at this stream wo have to 

The girl looked mechanically. Well she knew the shallow 
river, which, with many another, she had waded through 
again and again, while the light elves skimmed along the top. 
But, while in the midst of its current, she cast her eyes down, 
shuddered and screamed : she saw it as she had never seen 
before— a river of blood ! 

" What, you dislike that I" said the Queen of Fairies. 
" Beally, how very particular my handsome maiden has 
grown ; worse by far than the Knight of Ercildoun, whom I 
led hither. It is only the blood spilt on earth which drips 
down to Fairyland. We have no objection ; it makes our 


streams a brighter color, that is all. Come across, my little 

In an agony Alice struggled to the shore, unharmed, save 
by a few red drops that clung to her robe. 

" It is the blood of Geordie Grahame, slain by your father 
the day you were born," observed the queen, carelessly. " But 
no matter, the next stream we cross will wash it out. Ay, 
and you may drink of that," she continued, as Alice lay ex- 
hausted beside another rivulet, which ran clear and spark- 
ling, though with a perfectly silent flow. 

Dying with thirst, Alice dipped in her hollowed hand, and 
put it to her lips, but the water was salt and bitter. 

'* Drink, silly maiden ! It is only the tears shed on earth, 
coming down hither. Mortal women — and your mother es- 
pecially—help to keep the river continually flowing. Pry- 
thee, Alice, do not add to the wave." 

" Ah me !" cried Alice, " and it is through blood and tears 
that I must pass, and have passed, to reach the land of 
pleasure I" 

No more she spake, but fell heavily on the ground, so oflen 
traversed with delight, but which she now with openecL eyes 
saw to be a delusive and a thorny way. 

" Oh, these mortals, these mortals !" petulantly exclaimed 
the Queen of Fairies. " But take her up, my elves, and 
bring her safe through the golden gate ; it is quite impossible 
that our peace can be disturbed by an earth-born creature'? 
lamentings outside the portals of Fairyland. Once within 
there, she will of course be content , and we will have a few 
extra feasts and junkettings. The glory of our kingdom is 
concerned ; for, my subjects, the fact is".r-and her majesty 
shrugged her shoulders — "we may not keep anything human 
long, if altogether against its will. As my Knight of Ercil- 
doun foretold, we may have to give her up at last I but we'll 
keep the creature as long as we can." 


Having deliyered henelf of this dignified harangue, to the 
which the bellB of her palfirey rung applause, the queen spur* 
red on, and entered the fair gates of her kingdom. 

There, silently leaning against the portals which he might 
never pass, sometimes looking wistfully through their trans- 
parent net-work, sometimes striking momentary chords on the 
harp that hung always at his side, stood Thomas of Ercil- 

His countenance brightened when he saw the queen — his 
adored ever ,* though like many another bard, he had wor- 
shiped no reality but only the dream of his own poet-heart. 

" Are ye come back, my lady and love 1" said he, advancing; 
*' and hae ye brought young Alice Learmont ?" 

" Ay, at last ; and not content with a whole night and a 
day on earth, she wanted to abide there constantly. She is 
as discontented as you are sometimes, my knight, only with 
much more cause, since she has never a true-love here in 

The Rhymer looked vidth glittering eyes at the small elfin 
form that wreathed itself about him in. sprite-like, child-like 
vagaries. Even in her caressing moods, the fairy-lady had an 
inconstant, butterfly air ; there was nothing in her of the 
quiet tender woman-nature which will cling^to what it loves, 
because it loves, and, loving can not choose but cling. Yet 
very witching — ^in any shape — ^was the Rhymer's love ! 

He watched her, still overcome by the glamour which had 
never entirely passed away. But at last his eye turned to 
where Alice Learmont lay in a state of death-like unconscious- 
ness which quite puzzled the elves. They were trying all 
means to awake her ; some buzzing about her in the shape 
of bees, others putting on the tiny feathers of birds, and warb- 
ling close in her ears ; and the rest shouting her name, their 
call sounding like dim echoes heard among woodlands. But 
there she lay, white and motionleES, save for the slow tears 


that came stealing under her eyelids. Her bitter grief was 
upon her still. 

It penetrated the mortal nature of the Bard ofErcildoun. 

" Let me gang till her," said he to the queen. ** She comes 
0* my blude — the earthly blude that throbs in my heart still. 
Like can comfort like. I'll ask at the lassie wherefore she 
grieves sae sair." 

" Away with you, True Thomas ; only take heed" — and 
the queen shook her dainty finger wamingly — " I can not 
spare any more mortals of the Learmont race, after him that 
truly was well spared, the great burly archer of Melrose." 

She flitted away, her elves careering after her in merry 
whirls on the grass, or in airy eddies like dust-clouds leaving 
the coast clear for Thomas the Hhymer and his descendant. 

He approached Alice softly, nay reverently ; for he saw in 
her the traces of that earthly suffering which from himself 
had for centuries passed away. Pensive he was, but the faint 
shadow on his brow was nothing to Alice's utter despair. 
She lay and wept like one who would not be comforted. 

He called her by her name, but she answered not. Then 
in a tone gentle as a woman, he said — *' My dochter !" 

Alice started up with a great cry — " Who calls me thus ? 
Oh, mother, mother ! have you come afler me all the way to 
this cruel land 1" 

But she saw nothing except the green grass, and the hazy 
shadowless trees standing up in their places, while underneath 
them, as upright and as still, stood the Bhymer. 

" It is no your mither that speaks," said he. "It is my 
ain sel, that ye ken weel — ^your Ancestor, Thomas Learmont 
of Ercildoun, that mony hundred years syne wonned away to 
Fairyland, and was never seen mair." 

Alice came nearer, and there was life and interest in her 
eyes. " Are you from Tweedside,a mortal, and of my kin )" 

" Ye heard a' that — ^lang syne." 


" I heaid, bat heeded not. I scarce heeded any thing till 
yesternight, when I hearkened to my mother. Oh, mother, 
mother ! will I never hear your voice any more ?" 

" Did she tell ye aught concerning me ?" asked the Rhjrmer, 
eagerly. " Or is my name clean forgot amang my ain folk 
and i' the land I lo'ed sae wed ?" 

Alice put her hand to her brow. " Wait till I think of 
what she said. Ay, it is clear now.'' And she looked up in 
his face steadily. " You were the Knight of Ercildoun ; and 
you left every thing — ^home, parents, young wife, and inno- 
cent babe — to go with a beautiful lady into Fairyland for 
seven years. Then you came back, and hved as a good 
knight should. At last she summoned you — the Queen of 
Fairies — and you went away again — forever. Oh! how 
could you go, having once come back to the dear earth ?" 

The Rhymer sunk his head, murmuring, " I canna tell. 
It was to be, and it was sae." 

" And how returned you ? Ah, show me the way. Teach 
me how to go back to my dear mother and my brother 

She flung herself at his feet, embracing them in her agony 
of entreaty. 

"Ye ken there's but ane way,'* said the Rhymer, gently: 
" to bide here till spring dawns on the earth ; and at the time 
o' Roodmass the fairies ride. Gin your mither loe ye still, 
ye may be saved, Alice Learmont. Gie thanks to her that 
yestreen ye didna tine your saul," added he in an awful 

Alice looked up, trembling. 

" Ye kentna that while ye lay saft i' your mither's arms, 
there cam up that black road the Evil Arie, him that goes 
about like a ramping and a roaring lion. He took back nae 
mortal, but an elf, as the teind to hell. Ye're safe, my 
bairn, gin your heart fail not, nor your mither's luve." 


While the seer spoke, the solitude of the wood where they 
sat was hroken hy the entrance of the fairy-troop. Little 
heed the elves took of the mortals, being absorbed in their own 
delights. ^ They came on with songs and laughter, and sat 
down to golden banquet- tables, that sprang out of the ground 
like miishrobms. : Alice, half dead with hunger, thirst, and 
exhaustion, looked on, but came not nigh. The feast ended, 
they broke forth into mad revelries : music that allured the 
very soul, and daiices that whoever saw must needs dance 
after — were it through bush, bramble, or brier. 

Alice pressed her eyelids forcibly down to shut out the 
sight — once so familiar — which she felt was controlling her 
senses, and luring her back beyond recall. 

" Oh, mother, mother !" she murmured, and strove to think 
of the dim cottage, and the sick bed, and her who lay there, 
moaning her heart away for the loss of her child. But still 
the fairy spell was too strong, and drew the girl's feet nearer 
and nearer to' the enchanting scene. 

" Oh, keep me back," she cried, turnings to what seemed 
her only stay — ^him who had once been a mortal like herself. 
But still the words were words only ; continually she moved 
nearer and nearer to the dazzling rout. 

Thomas the Rhymer looked after her Math doubtful eyes. 
** It maunha be," said he thoughtfully ; " a' that I hae tint, 
I hae tint ; but this lassie, sae tender and sae fair — Alice 
Learmont !" added he, calling her by her earthly name, with 
a severe and firm voice. 

The maiden paused, even though her feet were just touch- 
ing the magic ring. 

" Whar are ye gaun ? Hae ye forgotten your mither V* 

Alice paused, sighed, and stood irresolute. 

" Will ye be saved ?" said the Rhymer. 

" I can not — I can not I their power is too strong for me," 
sobbed Alice ; " yet, oh, my mother !" 


At the word, Thomas of Ercildoun diew her to the brink 
of a little rivolet that crept through the wood ; just a slender 
rill, coining from the one river of earth that flowed through 
FAiiyland. He dipped his fingexs in the water, sprinkled 
her eyelids, and made on them a sign, in his days held most 
saeied, and still reverenced as a memorial of holy things — 
the cross. Then he bade her open her eyes and see. 

Alice saw — ^but oh, with what changed vision ! 

All the fair wood, alive with flickering leaves and waving 
plants, had become a forest of bare lifeless trees. The foliage 
had dropped ofi* the boughs, the flowers had withered where 
they grew. There was no beauty, no pleasure therein ; no- 
thing but discordant voices, and a dead blank of sight and 

Shuddering, Alice ran forward to seek her old companions ; 
ay, any companionship at all in the desolate place. But the 
banquet-hall had faded into ruins ; the dainties were only so 
many withered leaves ; the golden tables nothing but fungi 
and ugly incrustations of blasted trees ; the gay draperies 
around mere spider-webs, flittering to and fro in the gusty 

The girl would have shrieked, but the same spell which 
had opened her eyes had sealed her lips for the time. Vainly 
she looked round for Thomas the Rhymer ; ho had disap- 
peared. She wandered along the paths she knew, yet some- 
times doubtful of her way, so changed was every thing, until 
she reached the dell where the Queen of Fairies kept her 
favorite court. 

" Welcome, welcome, Alice !** shouted the elves in the dis- 
tance. But their voices, once so sweet, now sounded discord- 
ant as ravens hooting from a crumbling tower. And, coming 
nearer, the maiden beheld them clear. 

Oh, horror ! There was a ghastly, loathly hag sitting on 
a throne, laughing loudly through her toothless lips, her yel« 


low shrunken limbs peering ugly beneath foul rags that were 
disposed as jauntily as if they had been rich clothing. There 
was a court of withered worn-looking creatures, that in their 
uncomely age imitated the frolics of youth. All things about 
them were pale i^nd unsubstantial, jaded, comfortless, and 
drear. Yet they seemed not to know it, but in all this 
wretched guise played the same antics, and with their crack- 
ed hoarse voices sang the same songs, which had once been 
so enchanting. Every thing was as it had ever been— -only 
from it the glamour was gone. 

" Ye see the truth now,*' said a mournful whisper in Alice's 
ear ; and the Rhymer stood behind her. 

** And do you see it thus 1" asked the shuddering girl. 

*' Maybe, not sae fearsome as it is in your een. For I am 
ane o' them, and we maun a' cheat ane anither, until the 
end ; but I ken weel that whatever it seems, it is even sae." 

So saying, with a mechanical footstep, neither hurried nor 
slow, he went into the magic ring and lay down at the feet 
of the ghastly queen — who, under whatever guise he beheld 
her, was doomed to be his object of worship evermore. 

But Alice, shrinking away with terror and disgust, hid 
herself in the solitary wood. There she staid for days and 
weeks ; lying on withered fern, and feeding scantily on ber- 
ries that came from seeds of earth drifted along by the earth- 
ly rivulet. Perpetually there came by her portions of the 
elfin shows, which had once seemed so pleasant, but were 
now so foul. She joined them not ; in misery, and repent- 
ance, and pain, did she bide her time, until the season of the 
Fairies' Raid came round. 

One evening, when she sat on the brink of the stream — 
which alone of all the sights in fairyland, kept its freshness 
and beauty — she saw drifting by one of those branches cover- 
ed with soft woolly leaf-buds, which, appearing at Easter, are 
to this day called palms. 


Ab she looked, Thomas of Ercildoun, whom she had not 
seen for long, appeared at her side, watching likewise the lit- 
tle bough. 

*' Alice," said he, " ye hae received your sign. It is spring 
time on the bonnie meadows o' Tweedside. When the next 
gloaming fa's, it will be the Eve o' B.oodmass." 

He had scarcely spoken, when the gathering summons stir- 
red up all the dwellers in Fairyland. On they came, cluster- 
ing in throngs round the entrance gate, collecting what had 
once seemed their gallant nags and palfreys, but which now 
Alice saw to be only hemp-stalks, and bean-wands, and with- 
ered boughs of trees, on which the skeleton leaves, waving 
and rustling, made what had appeared the ghtter of golden 
housbgs and the music of bridles ringing. 

Hoarsely resounded the universal call, for on this, the first of 
the two grand yearly festivals, no one, elfin or mortal, might 
be absent from the Fairies' Raid — except him, who coming 
of his own will, had lost the power of revisiting earth. 

Slowly he followed, lingering until already the first of the 
pageant had passed through the gates, and Alice, the last of 
all, waited with eager longings until she herself was allowed 
to depart. 

The Rhymer stood watching her with sorrowful yearning. 

** Fare-ye-weel, Alice ; I see a' things clear. Mither's 
luve is strong, and mither's prayers stronger. Ye pass the 
gate that ye will enter nae mair. Fare-ye-weel!" 

Alice trembled with joy. She prepared to go ; bathed her 
naked bruised feet in the little stream, and drew round her 
the poor rags that had once seemed the gaudy robes of Elfin- 
land. Still, ere she left she turned round with kind tears to 
the Rhymer, her Ancestor. 

** My father, can I do aught for you ? Should I reach safe 
the dear earth — our earth — ^is there no power — ^no prayers, 
that could avail ?" 


He shook his head mournfully. "Na, na! the time is 
past. Gin I were ever found on the fair earth, it wad be but 
as a heap o' white banes crumbling i' the kirkyard o' Melrose. 
That a man sowed, he sail even reap : I maun dree my 
wierd, until the warld's ending. Hereafter, there's Ane that 
maun do as His mercy wills wi' my erring saul." 

Ceasing — he folded his hands and cast down his eyes, so 
majestic yet so sad. His descendant had no more to urge. 

Once more only the Rhymer spoke, but in a low voice, and 
humbly even as a mortal penitent. " Alice ae word. When 
a' chances as it will chance, gang ye to the chapel by Ercil- 
doun, and look out for a gray stane I raised, aneath the whilk 
I thocht that I and mine were to sleep. There'll sure be 
there my son Thomas, and ane that was aye a gude wife to 
me. Alice, say ten masses for their sauls." 

So said he, not thinking of the centuries that had swept 
away all traces of the living and the dead alike, nor that 
m'ere tradition kept alive the name of Thomas of Ercildoun. 

Alice made him little answer, for she hardly understood 
his meaning, and her whole heart and thoughts were flying 
earthward, in longing and in love. 

One by one, the fairy train passed out from the gate, and 
last of all, the mortal maiden passed out likewise. 

*' Farc-ye-weel, Alice," sounded behind her like a sigh ; and 
looking back, she saw the Rhymer standing, dimly visible 
through the ragged mould-encrusted bars which had once 
seemed gold. His harp had fallen on the ground, his arms were 
folded on his breast, and his eyes that could not weep, were 
bent forward with the moumfulness of a yearning never to 
be fulfilled. " Fare-ye-weel," he repeated once more ; then 
turned himself, lifled up his beloved harp, and went back for 
ever into Fairyland. 


It was early spring oyer all the Border-country. The 
gowans in the pasture fields began to lift up their tiny heads, 
and the willows that grew in the windings of the Tweed put 
on downy buds, which the fanners' children call ''geese and 
goslings." A few young lambs were tottering in the folds, 
and once or twice, when the noon was very warm and mild, 
a laverock had been heard singing high up in the still blue 
air, above the abbey-turrets of Melrose. 

There was a woman, very pale and weak, but no longer 
sick — ^sitting under the shelter of the monastery walls. Every 
day when the weather was mild, she crawled out and sat 
there, anxious to gather up her strength to the utmost ; and 
so she had done for weeks and months. Very quiet and com- 
posed she was ; full of that serenity which is given by a firm 
purpose deep buried in the heart. This purpose — so intense 
and resolved, had imparted strength and health even to 
Marion Learmont. 

She sat, a little way from the place where wee Willie's 
last cradle was made ; lifting her head to the warm afternoon 
sunshine, and drinking in the pleasant air. Meg Brydon 
kept not far ofi*; sometimes twisting flax diligently — some- 
times stretching her lazy length upon the graves. 

There they remained, hour after hour, until the sun began 
to sink behind the hills,* and from the near Abbey, the few 
remaining monks of Melrose, were heard chanting their feeble 
and unregarded vespers. For now the old religion of the 
Stuarts was dying away in all the land, and John Knox's 


preachings were every where heard instead of matins and 

" Meg," said Mistress Learmont, suddenly calling. 

The damsel appeared, from a gossip at the abhey-gate. 

^* It's near the gloaming," said Marion, in a tremulous 
and rather excited tone. " Gang whar ye will, gude Meg ; 
I'll just daunder hame my ain sel ; I'm gey strong the noo. 
See !" 

She rose, and with the aid of a stout hazel-stick, marched 
steadily forward a few paces. 

" Ye needna fash yoursel, . lass," said she kindly, when 
Meg, whom so good a mistress had at last made a careful and 
devoted servant, tried to assist her steps. *'Na, na; I'll 
e'en gang my lane : I maun do't," she added in a whisper to 
herself. *' And He wha had on earth a mither o' His ain, 
will guide a waefu' mither this ae nicht." 

She gently put her hand-maiden aside, and walked on 
alone. Only having gone a little way, she turned, and call- 
ed back Meg, saying — 

** Gin I'm ower lang o' comin', tell the gudeman he needna 
fear. I'll be about wark in the whilk a Greater Ane than 
either husband or bairn will tak tent to me, and see that I 
come to nae harm. And Meg," she added, for the second 
time turning back to give directions. " Dear Meg, be an 
eident lass, and see that a' things are keepit braw for the 
gudeman and thae wild callants, until the time that I come 

Her words, so serious and gentle, had a deeper meaning 
than Meg could fathom. She was half inclined to follow, 
but something in her mistress's aspect forbade. She staid 
behind, and Marion Learmont went on alone. 

— ^Past all her neighbors in Melrose town ; past house 
after house, where the old wives sat knitting or spinning, and 
the children played in the gloaming, the mother went. No 


one ipoke to her on the way ; it seemed so strange to see the 
lone sick woman walking thus, that many thought it was 
Marion Learmont's wraith. And even those few who he> 
lieved it was herself, saw such a wondrously steadfast and 
ahsorhed expression in her face, that they were afraid to stop 
and address her. So on she went, leaning on her hazel-stafi*, 
with her mantle thrown over her head and stooping form ; 
and in her left hand nothing but a little Book, which during 
her sickness a young minister, a follower of John Knox, had 
taught her to read. She left the town soon, and reached the 
open country. It was already so far dusk, that the sheep 
along the hill-side and in the fields looked like white dots 
moving about ; while every where was heard the tinkle of the 
bells, and the whistle of the shepherds coming home. 

Marion distinguished a voice she knew and hid herself by 
the dyke-side, until those who were approaching had passed by. 
It was her husband and her three sons, returning from their 
daily labor on their farm. There came into her heart a ter- 
ror — a longing, lest perchance she should never see them again, 
these dear ones — though by a natural yet mysterious instinct 
not held so dear as the one lost, who by her must yet be 

She dared not speak to them, lest they should overrule 
her plan ; but she watched them with eager eyes, and fol- 
lowed them a little distance, stealing along under the shadow 
of the dyke and of the rowan trees that grew beside. She 
listened to their merry and unconscious voices. 

"Eh," said Hughie. "I hear a soun* o' footsteps close 

*' It's naething but a bit maukin loupin' out of a whin-bush 
Are ye feared for the like o' that?" answered the father 

'*I'm no feared, father; but it's the eve o' Roodmass^ 
when there's uncanny folk abroad," whispered the boy. 


" Then we'll e'en gae hame, lads, for the gudewife's sake. 
She's easy fleyed, and she has aye a waefa' heart to bear. 
We maun tak tent o' the puir mither." 

" Ay, ay," echoed the sons, moving forward bravely and 
quickly, and were soon out of sight. 

The mother herself stood by the road-side, shedding many 
and mingled tears. But still her courage failed not, nor did 
she shrink from her purpose. 

Very soon she came to a place where four roads met ; a 
spot renowned throughout the whole neighborhood as being 
*' uncanny." Tradition had faded concerning it — ^whether it 
was the scene of midnight murder, or of more harmless elfin 
tryste. Or perhaps the natural ghostliness of the place added 
to its ill name. It was an open moorland, except where a 
row of tall firs stood up, black sentinels, right against the sky ; 
the wind in their tops keeping up a distant soughing peculiar 
to trees of that species. There is not a more eerie sound in na- 
ture, than the breeze passing through the high dark branches 
of a fir- wood. 

Marion leant against one of the stems, exhausted, but not 
afraid. The gloaming was fast melting into night; the 
gloomy, cloudy night of early spring, when after the brief 
hour of sunset all things frequently seem passing again into 
dreariness and winter cold. The lonely woman began to 
shiver where she stood ; and a heavy rain-cloud gathering 
over the moor, fell down in showers, drenching her even 
through her close mantle. All the moor vanished in haze ; 
there was neither star nor moon. She could discern nothing 
except the near trees, which in the mistiness around often- 
times seemed to stir and change their places, like great giants 
walking about in the night. 

And yet— even yet — the mother was not afraid. 

She had waited a long time ; so long that she could have 
thought the night almost past, except that she knew the 


moon would rise at midn'iglit, and it had not risen yet. 
Every thing was quite dark. 

At length she saw a bright light dancing across the moor, 
at the eastern horizon. 

'* It is but the moon-risd," Marion said, and her heart grew 
colder than ever with disappointment and fear. '*Wae*8 
me ! my hope is gane. Alice, Alice, I hae tint ye for ever- 
mair !" 

Thus she, lamenting, hid her eyes from the light that grew 
broader and deeper, though no orb appeared to rise. When 
Marion looked again, there was a long stream of radiance 
glittering across the moor ; and faintly approaching came an- 
other music than that of the wind in the fir-tops. It was — 
as a Nithsdale woman, who once heard the like, used to ex- 
press it — " like the soun' o' a far awa' psalm." 

Marion Learmont, even amidst her joy, trembled at the 
crisis that was approaching ; for she knew that what she now 
saw and heard was the Fairies' Raid. 

She crouched down behind the tree, muttering sometimes 
the unintelligible Aves and Credos of her ancient faith ; and 
then again bursting out into the heartfelt prayers taught by 
John Knox and his brethren. Alternately she clutched the 
Bible, or, forgetting herself, made the familiar sign of the cross. 
Mingled and strange were all her religious forms ; but there 
was one thing that could not err, the intensity of devotion 
in her heart. And never once did she take her straining 
eyes from the sight on which was concentrated all her energy, 
courage, and hope. 

Nearer and nearer came the light, and separated itself into 
individual forms. Never had Marion Learmont seen such a 
glittering show. The elves rode one by one, men and 
women alternately. Their steeds, of all colors, were capar- 
isoned with gold and jewels, that sparkled at every motion. 
They themselves were as fair to behold as when the young 


mother had seen them gathering in her cnamher, on that 
fatal night of Alice's birth. She noticed as before their green 
kirtles, and their yellow hair, that while they rode streamed 
behind in a long train of light. 

For the mortal mother beheld the elves but as mortals do, 
until they have abode in Fairyland long enough to learn 
that all this show is but outward glamour, nothingness, and 

The cavalcade neared the tree, and Marion watched in 
agony for the first that should pass by. It was an elf, taller 
than the rest, whom she knew to be the Queen of Fairies. 
Afterward, scores upon scores of el fin-horsemen rode near her ; 
but the mother's eye lingered upon none. No doubt had she 
in her search ; — through all that disguise she could not mis- 
take her own child. 

Each after the other, the whole train passed by, until there 
remained but one— who rode slower than the rest ; and 
neither by yoice nor merry gesture uj-ged her palfrey on. 
She sat, amidst all the brilhant show of her attire quite 
passive and silent. Only as her horse was sweeping past 
the cross-roads, s^e turned and leaned sideways showing 
distinctly her pale face and eager eyes. It was Alice her- 

Quick as lightning — strong as though she had never been 
sick — the mother leaped forward and dragged her child down 
from the palfrey. Instantly it melted away, and lay, a 
withered bramble bough, in the middle of the path. A loud 
wail ran across the moor ; — ^the fairy pageant vanished, and 
all was perfect silence. 

For several minutes this hush lasted ; during which neither 
mother nor daughter spoke. Marion was conscious of nothing 
save that she held in her arms her living, breathing Alice. 
After a little she loosened her clasp, trying to look in her 
daughter's fac«. 



" Ah, hold me fast — ^let me not go," murmured the girl, in 

And even while she spoke, there gradually arose across the 
moor a whirlwind of unearthly sounds — ^loud voices, screams, 
-and laughter. It came nearer, eddying round on every side, 
dinning in Marion's ears so close that she started, as though 
strange things were clutching at her — ^but nothing was 

" Hold me fast — fast," was all Alice's cry. 

"I udll hand ye fast, my bairn that I bore," the mother 
answered, firmly. And so they stood, clinging together in the 
midst of that eldritch rout, the more fearful that it was only 
heard, not seen. 

The blackness of the night changed a little, and the great 
roimd moon rose up from the edge of the moor. As soon as 
it gave sufficient light to distinguish objects, Manon gained 
some comfort. But her terror returned, when in the shadow 
cast by the bole of the opposite fir trees she saw something 
leaning. It was a human form, the very image of herself, 
except the face, which was hid. 

" Turn your cloak, mother, and it will vanish," whispered 
Alice. — " But oh, do not let go your hold of me." 

Marion did as her child desired, and the illusion melted 

This was the first of the elfin spells, through the fierce 
ordeal of which the mother passed that night. The next 
trial was far more horrible to bear. 

Suddenly, in her very arms, the soft form of Alice seemed 
changing to that of a wild beast. " Hold me close, and I'll do 
ye no harm," screamed the voice, which alone was human. 
And still the brave mother held fast her own, until again 
she felt the warm maiden-flesh beating against her bosom. 

After that, through every horror that elfin malice could 
plan, amidst transformations uncouth, loathsome, or terrible, 


did Marion Learmont keep her treasure close embraced. 
Sometimes she seemed to enfold a goblin shape, or had a 
slimy serpent crawling on her breast, or clasped with her 
bare arms a red-hot bar of iron ; but through each change, 
foul or frightful, the mother knew and held fast to her own 
child. Many another mother through all human trials has 
done the same ! 

At last the sky, which except just at moon-rise had been 
overcast all night, was brightened at the east with a streak 
pf yellow and pale green. The elfin clamour began to die 
away in the dawn. 

" Bide a wee, bide a wee," sighed the exhausted mother, 
as after the last transformation her daughter lay almost like 
a corse in her arms. " While T hae life I winna tine my 

Ere she ceased speaking, there came a sound like a clap of 
thunder, mingled with bowlings that might have risen from 
the bottomless pit. All around where Marion stood was 
flame, and it was a living flame that swayed to and fro in 
her arms. 

" Hae pity on us, oh God !" shrieked the mother aloud. 
Instantly the thunder ceased, the jet of flame sank down, 
and Marion held to her breast her young daughter, who lay 
there, pallid, trembling, cold — and naked as when she had 
come into the world, a helpless babe. 

" Throw your mantle over me, and then I will be safe and 
all your own," feebly said Alice. 

The mother did so, taking off some of her own garments 
and wrapping her child close. Then all the eldritch sounds 
died away in distance ; the light broadened across the moor, 
and all the earth lay in the stillness and freshness of day- 

Marion and her daughter sank down together, and leaning 
against the fir tree's bole, kissed one another and wept. Sud- 


denly, in one of the topmost branches was heard the twitter 
of a waking bird. 

" It is a' true, and ye're my ain — ^thanks be to the gude 
God !" cried Marion, in a choking voice. *■ Let us arise, my 
dochter, and gae hame thegither." 

Across the yet dark fields they took their way, the mother 
leaning on Alice's arm. They passed through the silent town 
of Melrose, where all were still fast asleep— tired fathers rest- 
ing after their work, and mothers lying with their little children 
round. But there was never a mother like this mother ! 

Not a creature they met in all the street, or beyond it, un- 
til they came to their own door. Then, creeping along the 
side of the byre, Marion Learmont saw something which 
reemed through the misty mombg-light to be a human 
form, all fluttering in gaudy-colored rags. And a cracked 
voice, that might have been sweet when young, and still had 
a kind of wild pathos, startled her by its old familiar sounds, 
now unheard for many years. It sang a fragment of mean- 
ingless rhyme, which yet had a certain method in it : 

" Simmer and winter baith gae round, 

Spak the mither wren to her baimies three ; 
Tint was tint, and found is found, 

V\\ hap my heid saft in my ain countrie." 

'* It's Daft Simmie come back, him that was hunted far 
and near for stealing my bairn. He's at his sangs again. 
Wonderfu* are the ways o' the Lord !" 

And her thoughts went back to old times, remembering 
how all things had worked together for good, until her heart 
was mute for very thankfulness. 

As her feet touched the doorsill, the sun rose upon the earth ; 
she turned a minute to gaze at the brightening Abbey-tower 
and the three summits of Eildon Hill, and all the land around, 
wakening up into the glory of a new day. Then she looked 
at Alice, who stood near, her unearthly beauty chastened 


into that which was merely human — ^the loveliness of love 

''My ain bairn, my ae dochter! that was dead and is 
alive again — ^was lost and found !" cried Marion, falling on 
her neck. 

She rested there a little space, then took her daughter's 
hand, and with great joyfulness they two then went together 
into the house. 


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