JEAN was now a widow.
Poor old Tammas was dead, and his wife missed him sadly; chiefly because
she had no one to scold and no on to serve, and both were necessary to her
as her very breath. She was quite a prosperous woman too, which made
her isolation all the more unendurable. Her little shop wore the
aspect of a perfect paradise to the youthful population of Burnside; but,
as she dealt out its sweets, her temper grew more and more bitter, and her
words sharper and sharper.
Jean was sitting one day behind her little counter, waiting
upon her customers, two of whom were in anxious consultation outside the
window, as to the most economical expenditure of a bawbee (halfpenny,
called a bawbee from its having been the first coin which bore the
baby-face of the hapless Mary Stuart). They were as yet undecided as
to whether "Gibraltar rock" or "sugar bools" would "pairt best," that is,
go furthest on an equal division, when old Mr. Haldane drew near.
It was shortly after his nephew's return from Bleaktown, on
the occasion of his introduction to Mrs. Rose, that the old man found a
pretext for the visit with which he was about to honour Jean. She
had more than once repulsed him already, but he had special reasons for
this particular visit, and was not a man to suffer from such repulse as
hers. His nephew had taken the first opportunity he could find, to
tell him that he must have been deceived by Captain Oglivie on the subject
of his marriage; and if there was one thing more than another which the
old man detested, it was the supposition that it was possible for him to
be deceived at all. He was, therefore, bent upon knowing the true
state of the case.
"Good day to you," he said, in his blandest tones, as he
entered the little shop.
But Jean, stiff and unrecognizing, looked up at him, and
asked if there was anything she could serve him with.
"I came to ask whether there was anything you wanted in the
way of repairs," he answered, with a smile at the old woman's independent
"Naething, I thank ye," she answered, shortly.
"Rents hae been risin'," he went on; "only last term Lucky
Simpson offered my agent twa pund mair for this bit place, but I told him
ye were a steady payer, and bade him refuse the offer."
"It's an ill-dune thing to tak a hoose ower a body's heid,"
she broke in; " I never kent it prosper."
"It hasna prospered in this instance," he answered; "ye may
hae the place as lang as ye like to keep it."
"It's dootless kind o' ye," said Jean, "but I winna be
beholden to you, David Haldane."
There was a toss of her grey head and flash of her grey eye
as she said this, which recalled a high-spirited lass to his memory, whose
beauty and brightness had been the loadstar of his early manhood; and he
stood looking at her, and wondering at her freedom and spirit, in
But the old woman's tongue had been loosened, and ran away
with her, thenceforth. "If it hadna been you, I would have had a
bein hoose bye (besides) this ower my held, and my kindly auld man would
hae been livin' yet. He jist pined away in the back-shop there."
"I don't see how I can be held accountable for that," her
But Jean paid not the slightest heed to the interruption, but
went on boldly. "An' the bairn I nursed on my knee, and that was
like my ain, though she was an Oglivie, ye hae driven awa to get her livin'
in a foreign land, because ye coveted the heritage o' the orphan."
Like other and greater rhetoricians, Jean was unmindful of
the stricter meaning of words; she forgot that Peggy's father was still
alive. But she had hit hard, and her hearer winced a little.
"Ye're a changed man, David Haldane, since I first kent ye;
the siller's hardened yere hert."
Again that flash of resemblance, this time extending to the
tones of the voice. Perhaps she was related to her whom she thus
strangely brought to mind.
"Ye're a bauld woman to speak in that way to ane that can tak
the bread oot o' yere mouth. Where do ye come frae?"
"Frae' yont the hills," said Jean. "Ye hae nae mind o'
me. I have often thocht ye maun mind, but didna' care to let on
since ye had grown a grandee; but I see ye hae clean forgotten, or ye
wadna speak o' takin' the bread oot o' my mouth. I wadna like to
stand in your shoon in the day of judgment gin ye daur to do ' t."
Mr. Haldane had had enough. He held up his hand to
deprecate further words, and said quietly—he could afford to be calm, for
the other was unjust—"I came here in kindness, woman, and I hardly
understand how we have come to this. Ye mind me of some one I knew;
will you tell me your maiden name?"
Jean rose from her seat, still tall and stately, and looked
straight into his eyes. "I'm Jean M'Duff."
"I tell ye I'm Jean M'Duff—the same ye wranged lang sync, and
threw away, when ye had wooed and won, for a jealous fancy o' yere ain."
"Ah, weel, Jean, I never thocht to meet you in this world
again. We maun let byganes be byganes, for the sake o' auld lang
syne;" and he held out his hand, tamely enough, though he was in reality
"I'll do nae sic thing as let byganes be byganes," said Jean,
ignoring the offered hand. "I was true as steel, an' ye treated me
like a false quean (damsel). I was innocent as the babe unborn, and
ye threw me off like a foul thing. Delaube brought me the bit
kerchief, and tell'd me it was frae you, and that ye had tauld him to tak'
a kiss for't. An' I took it, and he gat naething for't, for I kent
he was jokin'. An' for that bit joke ye spoiled my hail life."
"And in a sense mine has been spoiled too, Jean," he
answered, softly; "I have never married, and I suffered long and sore.
What for did ye never try to set me richt?"
"I thocht ye ought to hae kent me better than ever to hae put
me in the wrang. Father and mother mistrusted me too; but I wouldna'
be at the pains to set ony o' ye richt, and I left their hoose on the head
"And went to serve him?" said the old man, with an
interrogative more stern than before.
Here, however, they were interrupted by the entrance of the
two purchasers—their purchase finally decided upon—and during the time
devoted to their service David Haldane turned his back to Jean and to the
world in general, lost in a flood of softening and yet painful memories.
When they were gone, Jean had somehow softened too. "I
had come through the hard first," she continued, finding a keen pleasure
in telling her story, and telling it to him. "I went back to where
my folk had come frae, and took a place there; but I had the small-pox on
me, and being a stranger they sent me away. If it hadna been for
Tammas's mother, I might hae deed like a dog; but she took me in and
nursed me, and trusted me baith for siller and guid fame. An' Tammas
was drawn for the militia, and Colonel Oglivie's regiment was the one he
was 'listed in. One day I met the colonel, and told him my story,
and he was for goin' to you wi't at ance but I gar'd him promise never to
mention it; and he keepit his word, like the gentleman he was. An'
he made Tammas his servant, and when my poor man's mother deed, he sent me
to nurse Mrs. Oglivie. Poor leddy! she was o'er delicate to lead a
wanderin' life. I stayed wi' her till she left the world, and I hae
brocht up her bairn, and her bairn's bairn, at the auld place."
"And your own folk, Jean?"
"They were clean gane by the time I cam' back. A sore,
sore hurt it was to me, for it was time then to forget an' forgive."
"It's aye time for that, Jean," said her old lover: and now
it was Jean who held out her wrinkled hand, and it was not refused.
"I would never have kent you," he said, "if ye hadna been in
an ill tune (ill temper); and then I only half made it oot. Ye
minded me o' my Jean, but changed.''
"It was the illness that changed me; it didna mark me much,
but it turned my colour to this deid white. I grat (wept) when I
saw't first, for I didna ken mysel'."
"I would marry ye yet, Jean, only it would be a mockery."
"That would be a marriage!" she snarled, in contempt.
Then the two old people resorted to the back shop, or
parlour, and Haldane drew from Jean the recent history of Peggy Oglivie,
as far as she knew it.
"She's goin' about from place to place, paintin' pictures.
The places are Rue this and Rue that. They a 'begin wi' rue.
It's an ill trade, I fancy." (Jean's only idea of art was taken from
the works of a roaming artist, whose performances in profile, in which she
and Tammas were represented black as ebony, adorned her parlour.)
"I'll let you read her last letter, an' ye like."
So David Haldane read Peggy's last letter, never meant for
his eyes, and somehow it touched him strangely, with its brave, confiding
trust in an untried world.
"She's a brave lassie, and a bonnie," he said, when he had
read it. "And you tell me there's no a word o' truth in the report
that she was to marry Captain Oglivie?"
"No a word, or I would hae heard it. To tell you my
mind, I would hae thought it more likely if it had been said o' your
nephew, David. But these things are best left unmeddled wi'."
David Haldane thought so too, as he went his way home.
"I'll tell the lad," he said to himself, meaning that he would tell his
nephew what he had heard, and how he had, even though too late, changed
his mind on the one vexed question between them.
Another resolve he made, and that was to rid himself of
Captain Oglivie: and he lost no time in intimating to that gentleman that
it was desirable to close the account between them.
ORDEAL BY FIRE.
OWING to the increased
traffic between Burnside and Bleaktown, an evening coach had been put upon
the road, starting from the latter place at eight o'clock on the summer
evenings, and reaching its farthest point of destination some three hours
It was a fair though moonless night in July, and David
Haldane was returning from Bleaktown, satisfied that at last he might
achieve his longed-for holiday. He was not, as usual, returning
alone, but with two companions for the present little journey, an elderly
gentleman and a lady, whom he helped carefully to their seats on the roof
before he took his own. The elderly gentleman was our friend Dr.
Grant; the lady was no other than Mrs. Rose.
There had been strife, for the first time in its history,
real and bitter strife, in the minister's family, concerning Mrs. Rose.
When Archie announced to his father and mother the fact of his engagement,
the latter was highly, and, as she considered, justly, indignant; while
the former, with all his generosity and unworldliness, was far from
pleased. "You ought to have considered," he said to his son, "that
you are still in a dependent position, and may be for years to come, and
that you had no right to bind any young woman to a future so uncertain;"
language at which Mrs. Grant was more indignant still. That her son
had been entrapped by a designing woman, was her view of the matter; and
the simple course to pursue was, to break the engagement and defeat the
In accordance with this conviction, she wrote a letter to
Mrs. Rose's mother, setting forth her grievance. It was a hard,
cold, but not unreasonable letter, in which she treated Archie as a mere
boy, who had no right to make engagements which he could not fulfil, his
future being still in his father's hands.
This letter was sent, notwithstanding her husband's warning
that harm would come of it. "You know, my dear," he remonstrated,
"that we have done all that in us lay to form the boys' minds and tastes;
and I can't think that Archie's judgment and taste would be so sorely at
fault, on such an important matter, as to allow him to fall in love with
an unworthy, scheming woman; and if, as Sandie says, she is all that's
good and excellent, we have no call to interfere, however much we may
regret the step he has taken."
But the good man's mild wisdom was overruled. Mrs.
Grant did interfere, and harm came of it, Rose wrote to her lover, giving
him up at once and for ever. Her letter was full of gentle dignity.
She could not bear to do anything which would displease her own dear
mother; and therefore, she said, he must not ask her to displease his, by
coming to her as an unwelcome wife. All that his mother (Mrs. Grant)
had said was true, and she would not complain of it. She would carry
the memory of his generous affection with her through life—an affection
which gave so much and asked so little. It was better that he she
should be free to marry one who would bring no sad memories of a former
love to his home, on whose joy in his happiness there should be no shadow.
And the letter roused Archie to indignant wrath, for it
showed, by the old wound's fresh bleeding, that the heart of the writer
was wounded anew. And the young man rose up, pale and resolute, and
asked his father's leave to pack up his few belongings, and go away at
once to make his own life. Then there had been remonstrance, and
entreaty, and passionate upbraiding in the family circle, till Dr. Grant
took the matter into his own hands, and effected a compromise by offering
to go himself and see Mrs. Rose.
And he did go, and saw, and was conquered. He was also
conqueror, for Mrs. Rose would not have yielded to the son as she yielded
to the father. But for him, she would have persisted in her first
refusal. As it was, a general pacification had ensued, and only the
doctor knew with how little cordiality his wife agreed to it.
And now here was the infatuated man bringing Mrs. Rose back
with him, quite unexpectedly, for a visit to the manse, when he had only
promised to call upon her, as he happened to be in town.
They had had a pleasant journey among the little hills and
the sunset splendours, lingering long in that northern region, and were
nearing Burnside in what seemed scarcely darker than a dawn, though it
wanted little more than an hour of midnight. They had reached a bit
of high-level ground a little above the village, and the whole party had
sunk into silence, when David Haldane uttered an exclamation, and half
started from his seat, making every one of his fellow-passengers turn in
the direction in which he was looking.
He was looking in the direction of the Forest House, whose
chimneys he could have seen in the daylight, but which were not
distinguishable from the surrounding trees just then. But there was
a lighter belt of sky over in the direction of the house, and against it
rose a trail of smoke, licked now and then by a slender tongue of fire.
Again and again at intervals darted out the snake-like tongue
of flame, and exclamation followed exclamation as one and another caught
the thrilling sight.
"Whose place is it?" asked a stranger.
"A Miss Oglivie lives there," replied the coachman.
There's a friend o' hers inside," he added, cautiously; "we'd better let
him ken. It's a lone house, and little water about, and the only man
a fule, puir fellow. I shouldna wonder if he had set the place on
"Drive on," said David Haldane, " we may be of use;" and the
horses went down-hill at a gallop.
Meantime Captain Oglivie was dozing inside the coach.
He had come up too late to secure an outside seat, and had had the inside
entirely to himself the whole of the way.
When the coach reached what was called "the crossroad,"
leading to the Forest House, it came to a stop, and the coachman, tapping
with his whip on the window, roused the half-sleeping occupant by calling
out, in a stentorian voice, that the Forest House was on fire.
The shout and the stoppage roused Captain Oglivie, who called
out, rather ill-humouredly, to know what it meant. Two of the
passengers had already dismounted, David Haldane and a young man belonging
to the village, with the intention of hastening to the help of the inmates
of the burning house. The latter informed the captain of what they
had seen on the hill above.
Then Captain Oglivie sprang to his feet, and was on the road
to the house in a moment, without a word, or a look behind to see who
followed. David Haldane had lost a few minutes saying good-night to
Dr. Grant and Mrs. Rose, and he was therefore last in the race, though all
three kept close behind each other. It was dark and still down there
among the trees, but as they ran and neared the house they could hear the
peculiar windy rush and roar of fire, and see the glimmer, which burst
into a glare as they emerged from the wood and came on in front of the
The servants were all out; there were but four of them an old
woman and a young lass, an old man and a boy. They stood in front of
the house, half-dressed, their teeth chattering with fear, doing nothing
and attempting nothing, looking on fascinated by the serpent flames which
darted out of more than one window, and drew themselves in again from the
hard granite to find fitter food on the woodwork within.
"Where's your mistress?" cried the captain, dashing on the
affrighted little group.
"She was here a' safe a minute syne" said the old woman.
"She's in again," said the boy,
Captain Oglivie was about to follow; vapid and resolute, and
perfectly self-possessed, his face yet looked ghastly in its paleness and
eagerness in the dismal, distorting light. He showed his white teeth
as he spoke, scarcely dividing them to hiss out the words, "Why do you
stand there; staring like idiots? Come and help me to get her out
again; she must be suffocated there:" and he made for the open door, out
of which the smoke was now issuing.
David Haldane and the stranger came up just then, and
followed Captain Oglivie into the hall, which, being in the centre of the
burning house, while as yet the fire was confined to one of the sides, was
still unlighted by the flames, though filled with dense clouds of smoke.
It was rapidly becoming impassable, and they were all about to retreat,
when a cry from Captain Oglivie caused David Haldane to spring forward.
"Help here!" he cried, himself half stifled. He had
stumbled on the body of Margery, prostrate at the foot of the stair, and
the two men half dragged, half carried her to the open door, where the
others gathered round her still breathing form.
In the fresh air she revived—it seemed almost by force of
will, for the first words she uttered were—"The back stair—try the back
"There is another life in danger," said David Haldane; and
for the first time Captain Oglivie heard his voice, and looked in his
face. At that moment a thrill of repulsion ran through the two men,
not to be accounted for by the attitude of either up to that time.
"We can leave her now," added David, quitting his hold and
resigning his place to the women. "Captain Oglivie, you know the
house; lead the way."
"Perhaps you will go round," said the captain, addressing the
stranger, and not deigning to notice David Haldane, "and I will direct you
from one of the windows."
It seemed the best thing to do; trying to save the house was
altogether out of the question. A few bucketfuls of water, drawn
slowly from the well, would be mocked at by the now raging flames.
They must try, at every point to save that other life.
They hastened round the burning end of the house, and Captain
Oglivie passed on and into the interior by the kitchen entrance. The
rush and the roar were in creasing every moment. The red glare of
the fire was thrown upon the trees, which seemed to reel and dance with
its fitfulness, like a crowd of dark and dreadful creatures exulting in
destruction and mocking at misery; and up there, at one of the still
untouched windows, appeared a human figure, horror of horrors, behind iron
"We can do nothing from without," cried David Haldane, in
It seemed an age was passing, and no Captain Oglivie
The man and boy had followed them.
"Can you get me an axe," he called out.
The boy ran and brought one from the tool-house close at
"We can drive those stanchions out, and let him down through
the window, if we can only get into the room."
Another window burst, crackling into flame: still no Captain
"We shall be too late," cried David. "Let us go in."
"Perhaps he has been choked back," replied the stranger,
"Is there a rope to be had?" was the next question; and the
boy having answered, "Ay," and gone off for it to the tool-house again,
David asked the stranger to take charge of it and hastened to follow where
Captain Oglivie had disappeared.
The back staircase was clear when Captain Oglivie entered, as
far, at least, as the first flight. At the top of the second flight
a door shut it off, with the rooms belonging to it, from the remainder of
the house, but this door and the landing leading to it were on fire
already, only an open staircase window kept the downward flight almost
free from smoke.
It was therefore not the smoke that had overpowered Captain
Oglivie, who was leaning on the lower stair rail like one deadly sick.
David Haldane, whose shouts had rang through the house, had seen him issue
from the door of a room close at hand.
"This is not the room," said the former, breathlessly.
"Where is it?"
"Beyond," replied Captain Oglivie, pointing to a barrier of
fire. "It is not possible to reach it."
"Have you tried?" They looked at each ether fiercely.
"You are no coward," said David Haldane. "We must try
together," and he was half way up the stair, as he spoke. But they
were saved the trial, for all at once, with a terrible crash, the landing
gave way. The fire had eaten away its supports on the other side.
David Haldane had only just time to spring back to the place where Captain
Oglivie was still standing.
The well of the staircase was now filled with burning
material, and the door by which they had entered was blocked.
Together they retreated into the room from which the captain had issued,
and shut the door. Escape was easy. The window was but one
storey from the ground. They were soon standing in safety beneath
it. On reaching the ground, David Haldane stumbled on something in
the grass which he could see resembled an old-fashioned escritoire; but he
did not stop a moment to consider, as he afterwards did, that it had been
saved at the sacrifice of a human life, but ran on to the spot where he
had left the others. He was hailed with a shout. They had two
short ladders, and were lacing them together, in order to reach the window
The ladders were laced at last, and David Haldane mounted
with his hatchet, the others giving place to him. With a few ringing
blows he drove the old rusty bars out of their wooden frame, and crashed
through glass and woodwork. Then out of the window came a dense
smoke, which drove him, for a moment, down some rounds of the ladder.
At the same moment the dark room shot into a blaze of light, and, on
venturing up again and looking in, he saw the form of Sir Alexander
Oglivie lying prostrate by the window within his reach. Another
breathless moment, and he had entered and dragged him out, and with the
help at hand succeeded in lowering him to the ground.
The fire had not touched him. The dense smoke that
filled the room from the heart of the burning house had; clouded his brain
and stolen away his breath, but had left no trace of parting pain upon the
still white face: and they bore him gently to a little distance, and laid
him down upon the cool dewy grass.
WHEN they laid the body
of Sir Alexander Oglivie down upon the grass, it was Margery Oglivie
who raised the head and rested it on her lap, to see if it was even yet
possible to restore the life that had fled. She herself had been
rescued so rapidly from her perilous position, having only fallen
insensible the moment before she was picked up at the foot of the stairs,
that every breath of fresh air, as she came to herself, revived her
strength and courage. She was fully dressed, for the reason that she
had not yet gone to bed when the fire broke out; and she was very soon on
her feet again, a spectator of David Haldane's unsuccessful attempt to
rescue her brother. At the time, she did not notice that Captain
Oglivie was absent when that attempt was made. She seemed conscious
of the presence of no one there, so intensely were all her faculties
occupied with the action of the moment. Not a cry, not a murmur, did
she utter throughout the whole.
Now, by the light of the burning house, she and those around
her could see that every effort was vain. Still, see made no outcry
for the dead, no womanly lamentation escaped her lips; but she crouched on
the ground supporting his head in silence, till the little crowd about her
fell back a few paces, and stood uncovered in mute respect.
Then a vehicle was heard driving up rapidly, out of which the
indefatigable little doctor of Burnside and Strathie leapt, and came
running toward the group, with a volley of breathless exclamations.
"This is dreadful—dreadful! Not dead!—not dead, I trust!"
This last was uttered as he knelt down by Margery's side; but
a grave silence succeeded. It did not need his solemn whisper to
tell that all was over.
The fire had roused the village, and the village had taken
upon itself to rouse both pastor and doctor—the two who were ever ready to
help in time of trouble. Mr. Keith advanced more slowly, and spoke a
few words to his friend and parishioner, concerning submission to the
Divine will; and she laid down her burden gently on the earth, and rose,
and gave him her hand in silence.
Captain Oglivie then came forward, and he joined in the
entreaties of her two friends, that Margery should allow herself to be
driven from the scene of the disaster; but she would not stir; and, by her
glance at the form on the ground beside them, they saw that she wished to
stay till it could be moved; and, seeing how calm she was, they acquiesced
At the same time, David Haldane advanced, and whispered to
the doctor, "I can be of no more use here, I suppose, so I had better go."
"You here!" exclaimed the kind-hearted, impulsive man; "what
a pity you did not come a little sooner! You saved him from the
water once; you might have saved him from the fire."
Their little "aside" passed unheeded, except by Captain
Oglivie, who had listened intently to every word; while, without speaking
to any one else, David Haldane had stolen away.
Then the active little man attacked the captain. "What
have you been doing, my dear sir? Over-exertion, eh? ye, look
wretched—wretched! never saw a man more shaken in my life," he said,
turning to Margery.
But at this Captain Oglivie rallied, and offered to go and
prepare his mother, who, he said, would be in a state of great alarm at
his continued absence, for Margery's reception.
As for her, she was the last to leave the scene of
devastation. A light cart had been procured, and had taken the
servants down to the village for rest and refreshment, so their mistress
had ordered, and only the boy had refused obedience: and for the dead, a
door had been taken off its hinges, and four stout men of Burnside had
volunteered to carry him through the forest and up the hill-side to
The fire was still burning, though with a dull, half-dying
glare, when the little procession started. The bearers went first,
the body decently covered with a snowy sheet, brought from the store
treasured by some village home-wife for the occasion of her own or her
guidman's laying-out. Margery followed slowly, with Mr. Keith and
the doctor, in the gig. The light of the early dawn was breaking
through the eastern clouds, and the wood was alive with the twittering
calls of the awakening birds, as they passed along.
As they ascended the little hill the shadows of the night
were melting rapidly away, and at length a glorious sun burst over the
horizon, and bathed their faces in morning light, which fell dazzlingly on
the white drapery of the dead man.
Captain Oglivie was at the gate to meet them. He
staggered about like a drunken man, and another man would have been in the
condition of such, who had drank as much brandy as he. But again he
rallied, directed the bearers to a room already prepared to receive the
body, and took Margery to his mother, who was waiting for her in a state
of feeble distress. The doctor laid injunctions on all three to seek
repose, and after refreshing themselves slightly, they separated to their
several rooms, and obeyed him as far as it was in their several powers.
The morning was far advanced when they met again, Mrs.
Oglivie complaining of a dreadful headache, Captain Oglivie evidently
suffering, but not complaining, and, strangely enough, Margery doing
neither. The heavy years that had rolled over her had tempered both
body and spirit. To the fire of suffering she presented a front of
steel. The calamity had not broken, and it could not bend her.
The death of her gentle sister had unnerved her far more than this.
The shock seemed almost to have strengthened her.
Captain Oglivie would have taken the funeral arrangements
into his own hands. He seemed to think that the sooner they were
over the better. But Margery would not allow him to manage for her,
and rejected with displeasure the advice to hasten the obsequies. So
long as she was there to watch over all that remained of Sir Alexander
Oglivie, so long should every honour be paid to the full. So six
days were to elapse before the funeral, when the poor body was to be laid
among the dust of generations of kindred, in the burial-vault of the
Six days, and during all that time Captain Oglivie must live
under the same roof with it—with him whom he had detested living,
and in whose presence, dead, he sickened with an unutterable dismay.
He dared not go away from the house; such a step at such a time would be
inexplicable, and would damage him most with the person with whom he
desired to stand best. He could not forget—not for a single moment
did the object he dreaded remain absent from his thoughts. He sat
down to his meals, and there it was before him, borne in and laid upon the
table, a formless phantom under the white drapery, just as it lay in the
next room, and he could not touch a morsel. His mother lamented over
him, and drew attention to his wan looks and bloodshot eyes, and he
flashed up at her with fierce impatience. He left the house in the
morning, and again in the afternoon, and each time when he returned it
seemed more horrible to have to enter and abide there. Why should he
be forced to do this? What had he done that he should be so
tormented? His will rebelled against his conscience. In a more
subtle form he repeated the defence of Cain, "Was I this man's keeper?
Ought I to have risked my life to save such a life as his?" He tried
by an effort of will to rid himself of thought altogether; but the more he
tried the, more persistently the one thought presented itself, and always
with some added horror. He enacted again the whole of that night's
work, with certain ghastly additions, the work of his imagination.
The poet speaks of "that inner eye, which is the bliss of solitude;" its
bliss, but its torture too, when there flash upon it, not the fair
pictures of innocence, but the fiery visions of remorse. Captain
Oglivie ground his teeth as he muttered to himself, "I shall go mad if
this goes on."
The afternoon had been a sultry one, and had its influence in
predisposing both Margery and Mrs. Oglivie to retire to rest earlier than
usual. The candles were not lighted at all that evening, and they
left Captain Oglivie pacing up and down the garden terrace smoking.
As the sky darkened, the sheet-lightning began to play over the shy in
broad flashes. He was thinking that as there was hardly two hours of
what could be called darkness, he would pass them out there, pacing, to
and fro till he was thoroughly tired out; for, in spite of his never
having closed his eyes on the preceding night, sleep seemed as far off as
ever. And yet he was terribly worn, with that weariness which
produces restlessness, along with the vain desire to rest. But as
the darkness increased, so also did the broad glare of the lightning, till
it became intolerable to him to watch it coming and going, like a great
eye of light opening and shutting on the scene. At last, through a
mass of cloud, there broke a jagged stream of fire, and the next moment
the thunder was rolling over the hill, as if the bolt had been hurled at
Still he paced up and down. It seemed as if the madness
he foreboded had come upon him already, for he heeded not the torrents of
rain that in a few minutes drenched him to the skin. At length, as
if mechanically, he went indoors. Flash after flash illumined the
walls of his room. There was no escape from its awful illumination.
He tried to shut it out, but it played upon his hands and face, and
paralyzed him in the act. His senses reeled at last, and he fell
with a crash to the floor.
His fall had, happily, roused both his mother and Margery,
already awakened by the thunder, to the sense that something was wrong,
and they were soon in his room, where they found him as he had fallen,
dripping and insensible, upon the floor.
Another sleepless night awaited the two women, and when
morning came, and the doctor with it, Horace Oglivie was in the first
stage of a brain fever.
IT was the morning of
Monday, the 26th of July, 1830. The weather was superb, even for
Paris, which looked gay and bustling as usual in the morning sun. A
few days before, there had been congratulations in the streets and Te
Deums in the churches for the taking of Algiers; and the volatile
people, in exultation at the national victory, had half forgotten their
grievances against the king and his ministers; only the prayer of the
archbishop, that the king might triumph over his enemies at home as well
as abroad, had been felt as a bitter reminder, and was treasured as an
insult to be resented.
And now, as the crowds begin to pour along the quays, or pass
the public places, little knots of men gather to read the "ordonnances"
printed in the Moniteur of the day. The ordonnances are
directed against the liberty of the press and the right of election, and
gloom settles on the faces of the readers; and a sort of stupefaction at
the audacity of the man who had done this, checks for a little the rising
The bland-looking old gentleman, in blue coat and
canary-coloured vest with gold buttons, who had gone in and out among
them, for the last half-dozen years, smiling and bowing with such perfect
politeness and urbanity, had been seized with that form of lunacy,
peculiar to kings, which persuades them that in practice, as well as
theory, they can do no wrong, and under its influence he had issued the
fatal ordonnances which, before another day was done, would deluge those
sunny streets with blood, and cause thousands to execrate his memory as
the murderer of their sons, husbands, and brothers. Who could have
thought that peculiarly bland and complacent smile had murder in it?
No doubt of it, the tall, mild, fair monarch would have shrunk from
inflicting on a single family in his capital such sorrow and suffering as
his grape-shot scattered wholesale along those streets and quays.
But such men can have no imagination; perhaps it is killed in them by a
fate grander than their nature. The events of the next few days were
enough to have caused Charles X., had he been able to realise them, to sit
in sackcloth and ashes, and desire that he might die and not live.
But in his exile he was the same as ever. Bland and smiling, he
would issue from the gates of Holyrood Palace, his temporary refuge, with
his hat under his arm, and his white hair streaming in the wind, bowing
graciously to the crowd that waited on his carriage, while by his side
tripped the little wizened Duchess d' Angoulême,
in yellow satin gown and high-heeled shoes, with long, gold ear-drops
pendant on her shoulders. In a few days she, too, was flying from
France, in the disguise of an old peasant, a character which she, no
doubt, acted to the very life.
There was no want of cleverness in the women of the family.
Concerning these very ordonnances, the Duchess de Berri pleaded vainly
with the infatuated king.
"Sire," she said, "I am a mother, and the interest of my son
compels me to say, that if you do not dismiss your ministers, both you and
my, son will lose the throne."
"Madame," replied the king, "I want no advice; the
ordonnances I have issued are immutable. Calmez-vous," he added; "l'air
de la mer vous fera peutétre du bien!"
meaning, that the sooner she departed for Dieppe the better.
Peggy Oglivie noticed the groups of people collected at
various points, as she went the round of the print-sellers with whom she
had dealings, receiving, with a heart sinking lower and lower, the same
answer from all—"Nothing had been sold;" "Nothing would sell at present;"
"A call on some future day, would oblige."
The most depressing of all depressions is that which comes
from repeated rebuffs of this kind. Ask the author, whose manuscript
comes back to him again and again; or the artist, whose picture is never
hung; or, worse than all, the handicraftsman, who trudges vainly from shop
to shop of his craft, asking for work to do, if it is not so. To be
told that you are not wanted, that in the great busy world there is no
need for you, that you and yours might perish unregarded, and never be
missed out of the multitude, must be a bitter experience, and yet it is a
common one; alas! so very common. Peggy pauses at the window of a
shop in the Rue St. Honoré. She
does not enter; there is no need for her to do so: her answer hangs there
in the shape of her unsold drawing. It is her latest and most
ambitious attempt—a pine-clad slope in winter, depending for effect on
the ethereal beauty of the sky and the powerful drawing of the trees.
She turns away with a sense of relief that another denial is spared her,
and with a feeling that she is being defeated in the unequal struggle.
There was nothing for her but to go home. She felt that
she could not attempt anything for that day at least, and therefore she
would devote what remained of it to her father. She found him in his
room, complaining bitterly of his wife's neglect. She had gone out
and left him without dinner, or anything wherewith to procure the meal.
This neglect was easily rectified on a July day in Paris, and the father
and daughter dined to together economically, and in perfect peace.
But the afternoon passed, and still Madame Oglivie did not return.
Her husband began to be very restless, and to harass his daughter with
complaints. It vexed alike her ear and her heart to listen.
Between the pair not a vestige of love remained. With the wife,
there was none of that loyalty which hedges the husband with a kind of
jealous honour, with the husband, none of that sacred sovereignty which is
the bond of the household. Almost with horror, she heard her father
propose a scheme for getting over to England and leaving her behind.
She had often tried to awaken a better feeling between them, and she tried
now; but in vain. "I hate her," he repeated, "and she cares nothing
for me; she cares only for her low pleasures."
As usual, Louis Oglivie escorted his daughter to her own
little room. She would have remained with him, but there was no
accommodation for her, and her step-mother might be expected at any
moment. He sat with her for some time longer, and restlessly strayed
out upon the roof to smoke; a thing which his daughter dreaded, as she
suspected the presence of the deadly drug in which she now knew that he
indulged. At length he took his departure, and she promised to be
with him early on the following day.
She had been sitting for some time in a perfect silence, and
with no other light than that of the summer moon, when there came a rattle
of something on the window-pane, which sounded like hail-stones. It
could not be the rising wind, for the night was breathlessly still.
"It must be a bit of plaster," she thought to herself, and then ceased to
think about it. But, after a little interval, the sound was heard
again, and in at the slightly open lattice a volley of pigeon's peas
bounded on the floor. It must be her young neighbour. He was
getting too old for pure mischief, and besides, he had been uniformly
respectful during their acquaintance; so she came to the conclusion that
he wanted to speak to her on some matter which he chose to think important
enough to justify this unusual proceeding.
She was right in her conjecture, for on going to the window,
she heard him call, "Mademoiselle! mademoiselle!" in a loud and yet
She stopped out on the roof, and saw him apparently in his
old position, and looking in the moonlight as girlish as ever. "What
is it?" she said, and waited. "Mademoiselle has a good courage?" he
"You must not try me too much," she replied; "you almost
succeeded in frightening me just now. Only that I know ghosts do not
carry peas in their pockets, I should have been very much alarmed."
"Mademoiselle must pardon me. I have something to say.
Will you come nearer?" he added, glancing down among the lurking shadows.
She went and stood beneath him in the full light, which also
shone on his face, grave and important.
"There is no one with you?" he whispered cautiously.
"No person," she answered.
"I pray you make me your promise that you will not go out
"I cannot tell you."
"What will happen to me if I do?"
"You will be in great danger," he answered. "Promise,"
he pleaded, eagerly, "that you will be at home after six o'clock."
"I cannot make promises without knowing why I make them."
"Will you not trust me?" he whispered.
"You do not trust me," she replied.
"I would, but I have made an oath."
"This is very grave. I hope you are not joining in any
riotous proceedings. You are too young."
He did not resent the imputation of extreme youth as she
hoped he would. That might have led to the disclosure of some
mischief, which it was possible to prevent.
"I am not too young to die for France," he answered.
At another time, she would have smiled at the grandiloquent
little speech, but the face she looked up at had on it such a gleam of
enthusiasm that she felt much more ready to cry.
"Oh, no! you must not die," she said, gently; "you must live
for the country you love. Every good, brave man is a gain to his
country, and you will be good and brave, I think."
"It would not make much trouble if I died," he said,
reflectively: "my mother is dead."
"Poor boy! I also have no mother."
"What is your name he asked."
"It is the same—my mother's name," he answered: "I have it
here;" he laid his chin upon his breast. "It is embroidered on her
handkerchief. To-morrow I shall wear it over my heart. My name
is Henri. I do not love any one very much, but you are my friend,
are you not?"
"Henri, I wish truly I could be your friend in this matter,
whatever it is, and persuade you to have nothing to do with plots of any
kind. You may spoil your whole life before you know what you are
doing, and, if only, for your country's sake, you have no right to pledge
your future. Think," she added, "what your mother would have said
"Ah!" he replied, with a depth of sentiment she had not given
him credit for, "she would have said the same thing as you say, if she had
been living; but not now. Then, she would have said, 'Keep out of
danger;' now, she would say, 'Henri, do not fear to die.'"
Then there was a slight pause in their whispered
conversation. The sound of passing footsteps was heard below in the
"I have one thing more, may I have your permission to pass
over to your side to-morrow, if I should want a run on the roof?"
"I cannot hear any more of this, unless you will tell me what
you are going to be about."
He shook his head.
"Well, then, good night, say your prayers, and go to sleep,
and let me see you in the morning. You will think better of it by
"I shall not be here in the morning; no one knows I am here
now. I am absent without leave," he said, gaily.
A terrible scratching and whining was set up just then on
Henri's side. "It's Fanchon," he explained: you will not refuse to
keep Fanchon for me?—she is such a dear little dog!"
"Take her now," he said, coming up again, with the little
thing in one hand, and he dropped down into her arms a tiny, white
creature, quivering like a curd.
With another warning, she dismissed Henri, and, entering her
room, closed the window and prepared to sleep. But she could get no
sleep for hours, thinking of the strange boy and his warning. Yet
the more she thought, the more utterly improbable it seemed to her that
there could be any grave reality at the bottom of his talk. He was
either the victim of a hoax, or else some mischief more than usually
extensive was on foot, and would probably be frustrated, or desisted from,
without any interference on her part, even if any interference were
possible. At last she fell asleep.
A FRUITLESS SEARCH.
IT was the morning of
Tuesday, the 27th, and, from the quarter in the far east where he had
spent the night with a manufacturer of his acquaintance, David Haldane
hastened westwards through the streets of Paris, to explore the city in
search of an address written down with care in a leaf of his pocket-book.
He had already finished the business part of his visit, and there remained
before him only pleasure. But he did not look like a
pleasure-seeker—certainly not like a Parisian pleasure-seeker—as he
traversed the streets at a still early hour. He was walking rapidly,
with that springing gait which belongs, more or less, to the people of the
hills, bearing down towards the quays, through the Faubourg St. Antoine.
Then he seemed to notice that he was walking very fast, and checked
himself. Smiling at his own impatience, he consulted his watch, and
resolutely took to loitering. He noticed an immense number of idlers
hanging about; but it was nothing unusual for an immense number of idlers
to be hanging about there, so he passed them, with a glance of
commiseration for the squalor and wretchedness in which they were
condemned to live. As he came down upon the quay, there were idlers
of a better class engaged in a more or less exciting conversation; but,
then, it was nothing unusual for Frenchmen to be excited. From some
words which he caught in passing, he knew that they were discussing the
ordonnances; and though he could not help smiling at their eagerness, it
was with that peculiar thrill of sympathy which keen popular feeling
He had his own private excitement too, which sending the
blood coursing through his veins more rapidly than usual. He was on
his way to the presence of Miss Oglivie. There was her address,
taken down from her own handwriting, as exhibited to him by Jean, in the
corner of her last letter. He took it out and looked at it again,
judging it time at last to proceed thither.
What he hoped for in this visit of his he did not ask
himself. He did not, however, hope for any immediate result.
He did not expect her to fling herself into his arms without more ado.
He had gleaned enough of information respecting her father's character and
circumstances, to know that she could neither be very prosperous nor very
happy with him; but he knew well enough that this but increased instead of
diminishing his difficulties. At all events, he would bring with him
softening memories of home; he would be welcome to her, if only for their
sake, and he would at least renew their relations with each other.
The rest he must leave to fate and his own strong heart.
Arrived at the street, which, though a small back one in a
close neighbourhood, he had little difficulty in finding, he was soon at
the house indicated by the address, where he inquired for M. Oglivie.
He was gone, madame too, whither the man could not tell. Could
monsieur himself form any notion, as several inquiries had been made? and
from the knowing look which accompanied the question, David Haldane
understood that the inquiries had not been of the politest order.
He, of course, replied that he was a stranger, and knew
nothing of their probable movements. "Was the young lady with them
"Mademoiselle used to come daily," was the answer; "but she
did not sleep there—she had apartments of her own."
It seemed quite mysterious, and there was no key to the
mystery, no clue to any further search.
Bitterly disappointed, he turned away. The sun no
longer shone for him; the river no longer smiled. It seemed as if
the world had suddenly gone into eclipse, so dull was all its brightness.
He strolled on, without any particular object, and came into the Rue St.
Honoré. He was looking into the
windows in a listless fashion, not that they interested or amused him, but
simply because it gave him an opportunity of lingering near, and thinking
whether there was any possibility of finding any one by chance in a great
He was looking into the window of a print-shop, when he felt
his attention suddenly aroused, and his thoughts carried back to the
fir-clad slopes of the Strathie. The picture which had done this was
a representation of a little hill, clothed and crowned with fir-trees,
just like those at home. He examined it more attentively.
There was snow upon the ground, its softness and brightness beautifully
indicated, as well as its dazzling white. The sky was bluer and more
ethereal than it ever is—except at rare intervals in the cloudy North, and
against the sky the dark branches of the trees rose in the form of a
cathedral window. Yes, there could be no doubt about it, it was one
of the hills he had seen at home—it was Delaube.
He entered the shop at once, and desired to see the drawing.
On examining it closely, there was a small cipher in the corner, which
stood for the initial of the artist. When he had purchased the
drawing, he said to the shopman, "This is the work, I believe, of a lady I
am anxious to find. Can you give me her address?"
The shopman, with great politeness, produced the address.
It was the same as that which he had already, and which had proved
On hearing this the man further explained that the young
lady, the last time she had called, promised to return in a day or two,
and might therefore possibly call that very day.
"I am staying close at hand," said David Haldane; "I shall
leave the drawing with you. Keep it in the; window, and take it down
when she calls, that I may give you as little trouble as possible. I
will also leave my card, which you will kindly give her, and ask her to
leave her new address with you."
The man cheerfully promised to do as requested, and David
Haldane went away, rejoicing in his good fortune, having unconsciously
taken the very means which would prevent the object he had in view.
He had not been gone half an hour when she whom he sought passed by, and,
with a wistful glance at the shop window, passed on despairingly.
David Haldane wandered about restlessly all day, dined at his
hotel in the Rue de Rohan, which crossed at right angles the Rue St. Honoré,
and wandered forth again. He hovered about the quarter, straying
into the galleries of the Louvre, crossing the Pont Neuf, and spending
half an hour in Notre Dame, and finding himself more than once passing the
same shop, where the drawing he had purchased still kept its place in the
The day had been almost intolerably bright and hot, and it
was no wonder that in the cool of the evening nobody should think of going
indoors. The workshops were emptied, and the workpeople were not
going home; the shops were closed, but the streets got fuller and fuller.
Everybody was out, and the crowds passing on to the quays, where, of
course, it was cooler than anywhere else, and where the free space of the
broad river allowed them to breathe a fresher air, soon became a
continuous stream. David Haldane recognized some of his friends of
the Faubourg St. Antoine, not by the faces of individuals, but by the
general bearing of groups. These had an individuality of their own;
stunted stature and keen intellect, both famine-bred, made their movements
more swift and savage than those of the better artizans.
But they were evidently moved with a common impulse towards
fraternization on the evening in question, group communicating with group
as they passed along. As the evening advanced, it was clear that
something unusual was going forward, but not till the moment for action
arrived was even this apparent. Then, a whole city had risen against
its government. Paris was in arms!
To an onlooker the whole thing appears
inexplicable—confounding. The king's ordonnances are issued on
Monday, and the people are stupefied for a moment. Then they pass
from stupefaction to displeasure, from displeasure to indignation, from
indignation to a determination to resist: and all this not individually,
but collectively, and in a single day! The next day they carry their
determination into effect, not by means of a compact organization, but by
the spontaneous movement of the whole population of Paris, seemingly
without communication or concert.
But they are comparatively unarmed, and there are in Paris
12,000 men, the élite of one of the
finest armies the world ever saw, and their first movement is, therefore,
to obtain arms. David Haldane saw a compact body of workmen—they
might have been from one shop or yard, so accustomed did they seem to act
to together—with the utmost coolness break open a gunsmith's shop, and
distribute the contents, first among their own members, then as far as
they would go, among the crowd: and the same thing was going on elsewhere
in the city, with the same deliberate and yet almost unpremeditated
The soldiers of government were on the alert; troops were
being concentrated round the several palaces, and lancers were sweeping
the streets in the vicinity of the Palais Royal; but as yet there had been
no fatal collision between the soldiers and the people, and David Haldane
once more entered his hotel.
Some of its windows commanded a portion of the Rue St. Honoré,
and he had returned with the intention of watching the movements of the
mass from thence. On entering he was told that a lady, a
countrywoman, desired to speak with him. His heart gave a bound at
the intelligence: he felt sure that it must be Peggy who had sought him,
and sought him in a time of danger when it was possible that he might
serve, even save her. He hastened to meet her, following the servant
to the door of a private room.
A lady rose to meet him—certainly not the one he sought—a
little grey-haired, bright-eyed woman, who advanced in much excitement, in
which, however, there was nothing of fear. She spoke with a rapid
"I thought I might claim the protection of a country-man,"
she said. "We are Scotch, and I knew from your name in the
hotel-book that you were Scotch also. My niece and I are travelling
home from Italy. She is ill. I fear this excitement will kill
her. Our window looks down upon a perfect sea of people, and they
are getting more and more excited every moment. They will soon be
behaving like lunatics, as they are. Is there any way of getting out
of the city to-night?"
"I fear it is quite impossible," he replied. "From what
I have seen, you would encounter worse than you would escape from here.
I dare say peace will be restored before morning; and in the meantime I
will gladly exchange rooms with you. Mine, is high up, and at the
back of the house, and you will be quite quiet up there, while I shall
hear and see all that is going on. In the morning I will assist you
in any way that I can."
"Will you come and see my niece? It will reassure her
greatly, and we will thankfully accept your offer," said the lady.
He passed into another room, which was a bed-room as well as
sitting-room, and found there a lovely creature, evidently on the verge of
another world. Her cheeks were hollow and burning, their hectic
deepened by the excitement of watching the people in the street, and her
eyes blazed like stars. Her thin hands were strained together, and
she was altogether in a condition which required the greatest care.
David Haldane was at once interested and filled with pity. He spoke
to her with a quiet assurance of safety; but she turned upon him with a
luminous and yet wavering smile, and told him that she did not care for
safety—that she had too little of life left to seek to husband it.
"Yet, for your aunt's sake," he said, "you will try.
She would be better in a quieter room, and I have offered mine in exchange
She looked at her companion inquiringly. There was
entreaty in her eyes.
"Oh, yes, if you wish, dear aunty; but I am sure I shall not
At length it was agreed that they should adjourn to David
Haldane's room, and that he should come to them from time to time with
reports till the streets were a little quieter. Of that there
appeared, however, very little prospect. Up from the human sea there
came an ever-deepening roar; and there ran through it at intervals great
waves of disturbance, as communications passed along the living channel.
It seemed as if there would be little of sleep in Paris city on that July
IN the room to which
David Haldane escorted the ladies he found a letter awaiting him, and
after making them as much at their ease as was possible under the
circumstances, he begged permission to open it, as it was a letter from
home. It was in the handwriting of a clerk, and he expected only a
business-like missive, informing him that all was going on
satisfactorily—a statement which the absent master craves for, and yet
knows to be about as unsatisfactory as general statements usually are.
The missive was there, worded exactly as he knew it would be
worded. Everything was going on well, so well as almost to convey
the idea that they went on all the better for his absence. But there
was an enclosure, strangely enough, addressed to Miss Oglivie. It
was sent to his care by Miss Margery Oglivie, who was to be greatly
obliged to Mr. Haldane if he would deliver it soon and safely into the
hands of her young relative.
Concerning this letter, it is necessary to go back to the
night when Captain Oglivie was seized with brain fever. His mother
and Margery watched him throughout its creeping hours, sleeping a little
as they could by turns. An expression of unusually deep concern was
on the doctor's face as he came out of the patient's room, where he left
him with Mrs. Oglivie, in order to give Margery a freer opinion of his
case than it was possible to give to his nearly distracted mother.
He was dangerously ill and would be worse before the disease was at its
height. The doctor recommended that a nurse should be procured
before the crisis came on,—if possible, one who could he trusted with—and
the good man hesitated—with any family secret.
Before the day was done, Margery knew the meaning of the hint
the words conveyed. The delirious man was in the midst of the
burning house, re-enacting his part in the scene of the preceding night,
answering accusing voices heard by his ear alone, shouting out, "Who says
I am guilty of murder?" "How do you know I could have saved him?"
"Let him perish; my life is surely worth ten such lives as his." "I
must have the money." These, and other exclamations, repeated over
and over again, mixed up with the name of Mr. Haldane, came from that
terrible sick-bed; and Margery determined, in the strong magnanimity which
lay at the foundation of her character, that no ear save her own should
listen to that self-accusing, unconscious voice.
She was glad when poor Mrs. Oglivie, who was helpless at all
times, fairly broke down and took to her bed. There was only the
doctor whom it was necessary to trust, and who could be trusted, and she
would try her own strength to the utmost before she yielded. When
the doctor came again in the afternoon, she announced her determination,
and very reluctantly he felt obliged to acquiesce.
"It is terrible," he said, pressing her hand, and, accustomed
as he was to suffering of all kinds, he could not look at her for a mist
of stinging tears; "but he may he accusing himself falsely," he added.
"It is often the case in delirium: the patient accuses himself of crimes
he never committed. Poor fellow, he may have made every effort to
save your brother, and, conscious of failure, thinks he has not made
enough. It is dreadful for you, very dreadful, but I honour your
resolution to stay by him. The phase may soon pass over. If
necessary, I will spend the night with him myself."
It would have been quite possible to have accepted the
doctor's explanation of the words to which Captain Oglivie gave utterance,
and it was readily accepted by his mother; but an incident of the
afternoon brought to Margery a terrible confirmation of her doubts on the
She was called out of the room, happily, when her patient was
lying exhausted. Her little serving-lad had employed himself in
poking about among the ruins, and had found something which he wished to
deliver to her. It was an old-fashioned escritoire, which he carried
in his arms. The lad had not much reason to congratulate himself, it
seemed, on the value of his discovery, for his mistress received him and
dismissed him harshly, though he expected praise, if not reward; for the
box, as he called it, had been Miss Janet's, and all the servants knew
that everything of hers was precious. It had the name "Janet"
engraved on a plate of silver on the top.
But before he had left the house he was recalled, and
questioned closely as to the finding of the writing-desk. It had
been full of papers; now it was empty, rifled of its contents, and yet the
fire had not passed upon it. Then his mistress went on to ask him
what he had seen on the night of the fire.
The boy had been, like other boys, though by no means a
brilliant specimen of the class, pretty nearly ubiquitous. He had
seen everything that happened. His hero was evidently David Haldane,
whose movements he had closely followed. Margery found that the
servants were saying it would have been better if David Haldane had not
followed Captain Oglivie, but had tried the ladders at first. The
boy had seen the two men descend from the window under which the
writing-desk was found, and he had then followed David Haldane, and lost
sight of Captain Oglivie.
Still, they might have thrown out the desk before they
descended, and, in the confusion, it might have been robbed of its
contents by some villager who had come to see the fire. Its contents
were worthless in themselves—bundles of old, yellow letters, chiefly from
Sir Alexander Oglivie to his daughters—sad remembrancers of long-past
trials and sorrows. Not a single love-token, or letter, could the
sisters boast between them among the relics of their youth. But in
this desk of her sister's Margery had deposited the letters of Louis
Oglivie to his wife, and the other papers received from Gilbert on his
death-bed. These she would have given much to be able to restore to
their rightful owner.
The escritoire had rested on the top of an ancient chest of
drawers; and on a piece of furniture exactly similar, only that it was
placed in a recess of the room, had rested one exactly like it. Both
the drawers and the desks had belonged to the sisters from their early
days, and the other desk was marked with the name "Margery" in the same
fashion as the one now found. Margery's desk had, how-ever,
contained a considerable sum of money in Scotch bank-notes, and other
things of material value.
On the first night of her watch by the bed of Captain
Oglivie, Margery had noticed that the grate was full of the black remains
of burnt paper, and that the whole hearth was strewed with the same.
These were now swept away, and there remained nothing to show that Captain
Oglivie had possessed himself of the papers, and so to set at rest the
horrible doubt that remained on Margery's mind
It was, however, destined to be set at rest speedily.
In putting away the clothes that he had worn, the bundle of letters which
were weighing on Margery's mind fell out of one of the pockets, and, with
a shock, which even her firm nerves were not proof against, she picked it
up and hid it away. A few nights later she saw the unhappy man,
whose life had just been spared, rise from his bed, and proceed to search
for that same bundle. The watcher had been half dozing in her chair,
and seeing him rise and totter across the floor, she judged it best to
remain perfectly still, as the least excitement might bring on a relapse.
Not finding what he looked for, he put his hand to his head, and,
tottering back again, fell fainting on his bed.
Captain Oglivie's return to life and reason was more painful
to Margery than even his illness had been. How was she to deal with
him, when he had partially recovered? She dared not reproach him
while he lay in his weakness on that bed, where he had suffered tortures,
such as no human power could inflict; she dared not even tell him all she
knew, because of the danger of relapse; though, as she watched him, she
thought that it might even be a relief to him, to know that he had
unconsciously unburdened himself of his terrible secret. She longed
to say, "I know and forgive, even as God knows, and is ready to forgive."
It was well that she had witnessed his sufferings, or she might not have
felt thus towards him—might not have felt inclined to spare him as she
But he could not bear to see her, and manifested this so
painfully on his return to consciousness, that she gave place at once to
his mother. His first words to her were;—"Is he gone?"
"Is who gone?" she asked; but from the expression of his face
she gathered that he meant the dead man, and answered, "Yes, he is gone!"
"I have been ill a long time," he said.
Not a very long time; it is only nine days,"
"Has anything happened?" he asked, in a sinking voice.
"Nothing," she answered, "except the funeral."
He seemed to breathe more freely.
"Margery has nursed you through it all," said his mother.
"It is kind of her," he whispered, faintly.
"I did not think she could have been so kind," she replied.
There was a pause, and then he said, "We must go away from
this place, mother."
"Yes, my dear," she answered, mechanically.
"We must go away as soon as I can move," he repeated,
Another secret of the sick man's had come into Margery's
possession, and that was his debt to David Haldane, and she seized the
first opportunity of seeking an interview with the latter. She
demanded, bluntly, to know how much, including interest, the debt amounted
to; and David Haldane told her what was the sum total of money lent, but
utterly refused to receive the interest, and was paid on the spot.
"I wish I could have seen your nephew," said Margery; "I owe
him more than I can ever pay."
The old man explained that he had gone to Paris. In the
course of their further talk, it came out that he had carried with him the
address of Louis Oglivie's daughter, and at Margery's request, David
Haldane promised to forward a letter for her to his nephew's care.
This was the letter which lay waiting David Haldane at his
hotel, on the evening of the of 27th of July; in it Margery recalled her
young relative, and offered her, under very different circumstances, a
home with her. She was about to take up her abode at Oglivie Castle,
and seeing that there was room enough in it for a whole clan of Oglivies,
she desired her to ask her father and step-mother to accompany her
FROM DUSK TO DAWN.
THE cavalry had swept
through the streets with drawn sabres, and the first blood had been shed.
They had wounded a few unfortunates, in all probability the most innocent
in the assemblage, whose movements had not been quick enough to secure
Then a shot had been fired from a window in the Rue St. Honoré,
most likely in pure foolhardiness—the foolhardiness which carries its
candle into the powder-magazine—and it was answered by a volley, which
killed the perpetrator of the act and his companions, where they stood.
Another man fell in the street, and the people snatched up the body and
carried it along, with wild cries of vengeance. These sounds
signified the rousing of the fierce spirit of insurrection. They
were the first tokens of the storm; the fall of the loose stones before
the rush and crash of a mighty avalanche.
Deputies were assembling, had been assembling all day,
debating what was to be done. The bourgeoisie, whose clamours had
roused the people, and whose interests alone were at stake, were beginning
to be alarmed at the spirit they had raised, and would fain have laid it
again. But for this they had no spell of sufficient power. A
deputation to wait upon the king, the withdrawal of the ordonnances, these
were their proposals. They might as well have tried to stop the rush
of the avalanche once in motion, as to stay the progress of a revolution
already begun, with such straws as these. The same fate awaited him
who stepped in to impede the path of the one as of the other—that fate was
The sound of the first few shots was the signal for action to
the unarmed crowds in the streets of the city. For the most part,
they knew not for what they were about to fight, but there rose in them at
the sound, the blind, brave instinct of resistance to physical force.
Almost simultaneously, there floated over their heads a tricolour flag.
A man of the people bore it along; there was light enough still to
distinguish the colours at a distance, and the crowd everywhere opened
before it. The people accepted the signal, received it with homage
and in silence, a silence which broke in deeper murmurs when it had
passed. These were the colours under which they would fight, to
which they would rally, by which they would know one another, friend from
foe. Men clubbed their pocket-handkerchiefs on the spot to form the
tricolour; the red and blue cottons of the workmen, and the cambric of the
rich young bourgeois were fastened together and hoisted on sticks.
The mercers' shops still open were invaded, and there sprang up, within
the hour, a furious trade in tricolour which speedily exhausted all the
red, white, and blue ribbons to be had, and which, before the revolution
had spent itself, had used up every yard of these within the bounds of
Paris. Every man, woman and child in the city hastened to don the
national colours. Man and boy wore the cockade or the breast-knot,
those who wanted to appear doubly patriotic, both. When there was no
more ribbon to be had, they cut up broad pieces of silk into strips to
serve instead. While ladies made their appearance in white gowns and
scarves of red and blue, or any combination of the colours came to hand,
no matter though it might set their teeth on edge with its savage
But on this first night of the outbreak the people seemed
only playing at insurrection. Except in the immediate neighbourhood
of the tragic incidents of the evening, they laughed, and jested, and
accosted the soldiers good-naturedly; they, in their turn, driving the
crowd before them, more by entreaty than by force. As the darkness
descended, the street appeared to thin, and though confused noises and
murmurs, and sometimes a shout, or the crash of a street lamp, floated up
to the ear of David Haldane, he was able to visit the ladies to whom he
had given up his room, with the assurance that the disturbance was dying
down. The younger lady was persuaded to seek repose; the elder
remained for a little with him, whom she had constituted her protector.
Miss Minto—for that was the name the elder lady gave—went
back with him to the room they had vacated, in order to satisfy her
curiosity as to the state of affairs. The sound of a shot came to
their ears as they stood at the window.
"I hope she has not heard it," she said, in a tone of alarm.
"It was some distance off," he answered.
"Ah, Mr. Haldane," she went on, with the confidence born of
the hour of danger, "I am one of the happy women who have no history.
My joys are other people's joys—my sorrows other people's sorrows.
But for her—I have trembled for her reason. Within a month of her
marriage-day, he who was to have been her husband was shot, and by her
brother's hand—shot by accident, in sport. At first she was wild for
death, lamenting that she could not die; but lately she has taken no
interest in anything, and seems to be consuming her very soul in silence.
I fear the effect of any disturbance upon her, especially of this dreadful
"You may rely upon me to do whatever can be done to secure
her against annoyance, though I hope that tomorrow my help may be
unnecessary," he replied. And with this assurance they separated for
David Haldane neither slept, nor sought to sleep. He
sat listening to the noises that sounded not unlike a sea breaking upon a
distant, rocky shore. It was the sound of men engaged in piling up
the barricades. He was far from anticipating the aspect of the
morrow, and yet he could not rest. He felt the disturbing influence
that often seems to come with the nearness of one whose destiny is
interwoven with ours. And there was another who declared—but that
was in the future—that she too was subject to the same mysterious
influence. She too on that night was sleepless, and on the eventful
morrow she was twice startled by a face and figure which, in the distance,
appeared to be no other than David Haldane, and, on a near approach,
turned out to be as unlike him as possible.
When Louis Oglivie set out, on the previous evening, to
escort his daughter, there issued from a closet in the room which they had
quitted, a dark-eyed fury. It was Louis Oglivie's wife. Her
hair and dress were in disorder, and her face was flushed. She had
been confined in the darkness for some time, and her breath laboured from
long suppression. The closet was used as a bedroom, and opened into
a room on each side. She had entered it from the back, and was in
the act of making her appearance at the other side, when the words she
heard tempted her to listen. In her case, the old adage had been
fulfilled. Her face flushed, and her ears tingled with anger, as she
listened to her husband's complaints of her conduct. But when she
heard him coolly propose to quit France and leave her behind, her rage
knew no bounds. She could hardly contain herself sufficiently to
remain in her place of concealment till father and daughter had taken
their departure. She had paid little heed to the voice that had
pleaded the sacredness of her rights. She pictured to herself her
husband intent on his scheme of desertion—a scheme which she resolved to
When he returned she was sullen and silent, and on the morrow
she maintained the same demeanour.
Breakfast over, Peggy withdrew to her studio, making a little
detour to look in at the window of the shop in the Rue St. Honoré,
and then going to work with the resolution of despair.
His daughter gone, Louis Oglivie proposed to go out, and his
wife at once prepared to accompany him. He changed his mind upon
this, and remained in the house; she remained too. Every now and
then her dark, resentful eyes were upon him. She went about
ostentatiously doing things with abrupt, grating noises. He shrank
from contact with her visibly. An almost insane desire to get quit
of her presence seized upon him. At length he said, in a tone of
"Are you not going out?"
"I will go when you go," was the answer.
"But I am not going."
"Well, then, neither am I"
"I wish you would," he muttered.
"Ah, you wish I would! " she cried, no longer able to control
herself. "You think to escape me; but you shall not," she hissed,
"if I never quit you till I quit you dead."
Louis Oglivie did not answer his wife on such occasions, save
by a mocking laugh; he would show that he had nothing in common with her,
even in their mutual disagreement. Nevertheless he winced at her
words. Her present threat had something terrible in it to his morbid
So he answered nothing, but towards the afternoon he watched
his opportunity and made his escape. Wrought up almost to a phrenzy
of disgust and aversion, he went straight to his daughter's studio.
He found her at work, sitting in the sunshine. A cup of
milk and a piece of bread had sufficed her for a midday meal, and so
intent was she on the sketch before her, that when he entered she smiled
and nodded, without even raising hand or eye.
"I can bear it no longer," he said, with a new vehemence,
beginning to pace up and down the bare little room.
She looked up at him inquiringly, and with pity in her eyes.
"She knows all," he went on. "She was listening last
night, serpent that she is. All day she has watched me, till she
fell asleep, like a cat. She will follow me here—she will follow me
everywhere. I cannot bear it!" and the weak and miserable man burst
His daughter laid down her pencil, and stood up dismayed in
the presence of a misery which she had no power to alleviate, on which she
had no sympathy to bestow.
"Stay here in the quiet," she said, leading him to sit on the
seat from which she had risen. "I will go to her. Oh, father,"
she added, "can you not spare her a little love to heal all this cruel
Ay, there lay the healing for that and many another mortal
hurt; but where was the love to come from? What power on earth is to
create it, where it is not? Alas for the terrible impossibility!
He would not suffer her to go, and his complainings ended in
the usual appeal, "Have you got any money?" She had but little left,
but one gold coin, in fact, which she was husbanding for the payment of
her small rent. She told him this, and did not offer it, for she
knew, or feared, it would only do him harm; but she could not resist his
eager entreaty—his tears even, and he promised faithfully to keep it for
his own necessities. As soon as he had it in his hand he showed an
excessive eagerness to be gone, scarcely listening to her last words; but
answering at random that he would be with her again in the evening.
He hastened into the street. At the door, which was
open for her entrance, stood his wife. The porter afterwards said
that she seemed to be quite gay and smiling; she spoke to her husband in
his presence, and her words were: "Come, we will enjoy ourselves
As her father had not returned, Peggy went round to their
apartments at her usual hour. It was six o'clock. She
remembered Henri's warning, and smiled. There was nothing unusual
that she could see in the few back streets she had to traverse. Her
father and stepmother had not returned. She obtained the key of
their rooms, that she might be there awaiting them; but the evening passed
on and they did not come. She became restless and unhappy, and again
went out and visited her studio, intending to return and wait for them.
This time she heard the sounds of unwonted tumult, and saw unusual crowds
in the quiet streets. She learned, too, that the pair were together,
for the porter told her what he had seen and heard, and concluded his
statement with a recommendation to her to keep within, as there was some
disturbance going on. She therefore changed her mind about
returning, and went back to her room for the night. Her father had
doubtless made it up with his wife, and they were enjoying themselves
together, as the latter had said.
From her roof she could hear the sounds of the tumult below,
and a vague, nameless apprehension, which was not fear so much as
foreboding, took possession of her as she listened. The sounds were
of the unseen, the unknown. She could form no conjecture what they
were, what the people could be doing in the night, for the sounds were
those of labour rather than of fight. She flung herself on her bed
near the open lattice and listened, and sleep was banished from her eyes.