Peggy Oglivie (8)

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CHAPTER LIV.

FROM DAWN TO DUSK.


EVER did a lovelier day dawn on any city of the world than the morning of the 28th of July, 1830, as it rose over the city of Paris; and many were the sleepless eyes in the gay capital to which the light was welcome as hope from heaven.  Many a watcher had watched there throughout the night for one who had not returned—for one who, now, never would return to the place he had called his home: for on that fatal morning the people were intent on blood.  The tiger had been roused, and was ravening for prey.  At an early hour men were turning out into the streets, armed with whatever came to hand, preparing to march en masse from their quarters, St. Antoine, St. Denis, and St. Martin, and to carry insurrection into the very heart of the capital.

    But at an early hour the central portion of the city, which was about to be turned into a bloody battle-ground, was still comparatively quiet.  The struggle had not begun when Peggy Oglivie, having watched the splendour of the dawn "fade into the light of common day," and having in vain essayed her task, stole down the stair as soon as any one was stirring.  She stopped to exchange a few words with the concierge, a seemingly sleepless old soldier.  He had heard the reports of the night—reports in which the fighting and killing were, of course, fearfully exaggerated, and which he was evidently desirous to verify, if his wife, who was even more preternaturally vigilant than himself, would allow him to do so.  He therefore made light of alarms, and Peggy passed out into the street with the strange foreboding weighing on her heart.

    Her worst fears appeared to be realized, when she found that neither her father nor stepmother had been in the house that night.  Again she set herself to the dreary task of waiting; but the morning wore on, and they did not return.  Every moment increased the tumult in the streets.  If she waited longer they might be impassable.  She resolved to go back, leaving a message for her father.  He would surely come to her as soon as he could, when he learnt that she was in anxiety about him.  She was more at home in her own little room, for the people here were new and strange to her; while she had exchanged friendly greetings with most of the inhabitants of the house of which her studio was an insignificant portion.

    She was again on her way through the streets, but even yet they did not look very terrible.  It was ten o'clock before the troops, concentrated in and near the Tuileries, received their orders to march; and as yet there was no fighting, for there were no foes to encounter.

    To her, the aspect of things seemed by no means alarming.  The crowds she passed through were still gay and good-humoured, though the excitement was immense.  Every one spoke to every one else, it seemed, and all sorts of rumours were afloat.  The city had been declared in a state of siege, and the soldiers had received orders to encompass it, and fire upon the people.  True enough, as it turned out, but only half believed by the multitude.

    She suffered herself to go with the stream till she came into the familiar Rue St. Honoré.  But how changed its aspect!  At one end a huge barricade, on which armed men were mounted on the look-out; the shops either unopened or shutting again in haste; a dense mass of people on every side.  Before she could retreat, she found herself completely hemmed in by a sudden movement of the crowd.  It was caused by the approach of a patrol of infantry, accompanied by some mounted lancers of the guards.  The unarmed multitude fell back, for the people who were to do the fighting had not yet arrived on the scene of action; and above the tumult, a woman's voice cried from the balcony of an hotel

    "Do not kill!  Soldiers! do not fire."

    The balcony was exactly opposite where Peggy stood, trembling and alone in the press, and she looked up eagerly, for the words were spoken in English.  In the excitement of the moment, the lady had forgotten that her own language was not that of those whom she addressed.  But soldiers and people seemed to understand the language of the heart, in the clasped hands and supplicating gesture, for the officer took off his cap, and bowed as he rode on, and some in the crowd were not behind him in the graceful homage.

    A glance showed Peggy that the lady was young and beautiful, but the glance was immediately riveted on her companion.  This time there could be no mistake.  She had been startled already by a faithless resemblance, which had vanished from her sight, but this was indeed David Haldane.  It was no momentary glance she was permitted to take, for she saw him come out bareheaded upon the balcony beside the lady; she saw the brown locks tossed back; the gesture of tender entreaty, no doubt accompanied with still more tender words; and then he almost bore her into the room.  She was doubtless his wife, beautiful and full of goodness, and every way worthy of him.  Peggy exaggerated her loveliness, great as it was, for her heart had thrilled with sympathy, at the cry of the woman's heart.  To her that white-robed girl, crying out, "Do not kill—do not fire," was an heroic figure, remained an heroic figure evermore, when she shuddered at the bare idea of her before whom Frenchmen grounded their arms as she passed bloodstained from the victory.  More than one woman took part in the fighting; and one received this mark of honour—or disgrace.

    The two figures retreated from the window, and a sense of utter desolateness fell upon the spirit of her who watched them, as she stood alone in the press below.  In the next few moments, worse than the bitterness of death passed over her, for life remained while hope had died.  She knew then, that for her there could be no refuge from the world's dreary selfishness, such as there is to be found in the sheltering love of a heart that is wholly ours.  How strangely Fate had tantalized her, hiding from her the happiness which was within her reach, and holding it up before her, that she might recognize it before it vanished for ever!

    A mist swam before her eyes, and she stood heedless of the tumult around her.  A little longer, and she would have seen David Haldane return to the window and take up his post of observation there, letting nothing escape his keen and earnest scrutiny; a little longer, and her eyes might have encountered his—might have seen his sign of joyful recognition, and she might have been at least within the shelter of a friendly arm: but at that moment the roll of a drum was heard at a distance, and a shout arose—"To the quays! to the quays!"  The human tide was turned, and poured in streams down every intersecting street.  On one of these streams she was borne along unresistingly, like a twig down the course of a torrent.

    The new movement of the crowd had been caused by the intelligence, which seemed to penetrate it like lightning, that the troops were on the move—were coming to plant their cannon on the quays.  Instead of running from the danger, this strange, brave multitude flew to meet it.  It was this that gave the revolution its unconquerable force.  To have conquered Paris that day would have been to depopulate it.

    The troops had been ordered to march in two divisions: one eastward and southward, from the Tuileries along the right bank of the Seine to the Hotel de Ville and the Place de Grève; the other by the northern Boulevards to the Place de la Bastile, and from thence through the Faubourg St. Antoine; thus drawing a cordon round the greater portion of the city.

    Besides these, two battalions of the guards took up their position in the centre of this circle, in the Marché des Innocents, with orders to divide the city, by keeping the Rue St. Denis open from end to end—from the Boulevards to the river.

    From the first it fared ill with the two latter portions of the little army.  Neither of them was able to accomplish its object.  Three battalions of guards, a hundred and fifty lances, and two pieces of cannon rolled along the Boulevards.  The trees fell behind them as they marched, barricades were piled with incredible rapidity to cut off their return; attacked at the Ports St. Denis and St. Martin, they managed to reach the Faubourg St. Antoine; but here they were engulfed.  Nothing more was heard of them for the remainder of the day.  They were fighting a hopeless battle, with hosts of foes swarming out upon them from narrow street and crooked alley, and hurling on their heads, from all the houses, everything that could be turned into a missile; while doors opened to receive the enemy whom they pursued, and closed in their baffled faces.  In the end they had to turn, and go round by the new Boulevards on the south, to reach their starting-point, when the day's fight was over.

    Meantime the first division had skirted the river and arrived at the Pont Neuf, which they crossed half way, and advanced into the Isle de la Cite, as far as the bridge of Notre Dame.  Here they passed to the north bank of the river, and charged the crowd assembled on the Place de Grève.  Then the fight began in earnest, the cannon opened fire, and rained a storm of grape upon the Place; and the soldiers took possession, and cleared it of all save the dead and dying.  But from the southern bank of the Seine the people kept pouring into the island, and manning the Quai de la Cite with sharpshooters, who under cover of the river wall, did grievous execution among the soldiers on the other side.

    Amid the mêlée Peggy Oglivie had been borne along, scarce knowing or caring whither, till she found herself over the bridge and on the island, in the neighbourhood of Notre Dame.  Then making an effort to disengage herself, she hastened for refuge to the great cathedral, in which many women had already taken shelter when the firing commenced.  The great bell of the cathedral clanged and boomed over their heads, and the sound of the firing reached their ears, representing to their shuddering fancy a scene of slaughter even more terrible than the reality.  Many cast themselves on the pavement, weeping and crying; others retired into the chapels, and knelt in silent prayer.  Notwithstanding the tumult without, there was the usual sacred hush within, which subdued even the sound of weeping.  It died away in murmurs.  The fever of excitement calmed under the shadow of the solemn aisles, cool and dim, while the hot sunshine without blistered and almost blinded the raging people.

    The sound of the firing did not cease.  Hour after hour it was kept up, till the blazing noon passed over them, and the shadows lengthened eastward.  Pale and motionless—nearly as pale and motionless as the white image above her head—Peggy Oglivie sat during those terrible hours.  She knelt and tried to pray, but her attention wandered—wandered from the exhaustion consequent on watching and want of food.  It seemed as if those sounds of discord would never cease.  Still she did not move.  She felt as if she would gladly die.

    Two Sisters of Charity—in their black gowns and white headgear looking as if the sun never burned and the dust never soiled them, and as peaceful as if they had come out of a cloister-garden, instead of through the blood-stained streets of an insurgent city—came into the little chapel.  They laid down their bag, filled with gifts for the poor, said their evening prayer, and were about to depart.  A woman asked them for bread, and they bade her follow them to the door of the church.  Peggy remembered that she had not tasted food that day, and another remembrance seized her, which made her rise and quit the sanctuary with the sisters.

    It was a strange recollection to occur at such a time and place—no other than that of Henri's small dog Fanchon, who must be famishing, shut up in her room unfed since yesterday.  She was hastening on, thinking of Fanchon, when Fanchon's master suddenly appeared.  On the instant the boy offered her his escort with the greatest gallantry in the world.  At another time she would have smiled at the little man, as he raised his cocked hat and walked by her side, sword in hand.  He was full of the incidents of the day, and tripped along gaily, his hat in his hand half the time, his childish face begrimed and smiling.  He was a sight for a tender heart to weep at.  David Haldane; from his post of observation, which he had seldom quitted throughout the day, and which had become one of danger too, noticed him.  The students had made themselves conspicuous, and he was in full-dress uniform.  He did not, however, notice his companion until it was too late.  When he did, he started from his place and rushed out after them.  They had disappeared down a side street.  He followed, but only to see them vanish round another.  When he reached the second turning, they had disappeared altogether.


 
CHAPTER LV.

THE BARRICADES.


THE dawn of another day saw the city sunk in death-like repose.  It had been nearly midnight before the last of the firing ceased on the Place de Grève.  A detachment of the Swiss Guards had been sent towards evening to the relief of the soldiers, hemmed in by insurgents in the Marché des Innocents.  They had succeeded in withdrawing them, an exhausted remnant, from their perilous position, and in falling back altogether upon the Louvre.  Swiss had also been sent to succour the soldiers on the Place de Grève; but the people had become frantic at the sight of the poor mercenaries, and redoubled the vigour of their assault.  Fired upon from every house in the neighbourhood, they still maintained their position, and, up to eleven o'clock at night, defended themselves from the windows of the Hotel de Ville.  With the coming on of night, however, the wearied assailants had withdrawn, and, after a time, the equally exhausted soldiers retreated, carrying their wounded with them, to headquarters, and leaving the deserted streets strewn with corpses—a ghastly sight for to-morrow's sun.

    On the morrow the people took possession of the post the soldiers had vacated, and installed themselves, and their self-made general, in the Hotel de Ville.  The troops were barricaded out of the populous quarters, and the scene of the conflict was therefore changed.

    Again the people mustered, and advanced in dense masses along the Boulevards, and down the Rue Richelieu towards the Louvre and the Tuileries.  Other bands of insurgents, headed by the students, came from the opposite side, and the Rue St. Honoré, and the other streets that lay between, became a scene of frightful carnage.

    The front rooms of the hotel in which David Haldane lived were no longer tenable.  The shutters were closed and the rooms vacated, for bullet after bullet crashed through the glass and lodged in the wood-work and plaster.

    The terror among the inmates of the hotel, especially among the women, was extreme.  They crowded into a large room at the back of the house, servants and all, together, completely paralyzed with fear.  Among them, the two English ladies were the calmest and most self-possessed—the younger lady the most self-possessed of all.  That each feared not for herself, but only for the other, was that which gave them courage.

    "Oh! it will kill her," the elder lady had whispered to David Haldane; and he had made answer

    "I do not think so; for the present it seems to have cured her."  And so, indeed, it appeared.  The inward fever seemed quenched.  She was paler, but firmer.  No longer languid and brooding, but roused, and carried altogether out of herself.

    The hotel was closely shut up, and all were waiting with beating hearts for the passing of the storm of conflict, when the terror intensified—reached its supreme moment.  The combatants, one side or other, were thundering at the doors.  Amid the crying and confusion that arose, one idea seemed to prevail—to keep the doors shut.  But abler counsel was at hand.

    "You cannot resist their force," said David Haldane, in the ear of the dismayed proprietor; "it is safer to propitiate it."

    He accompanied him to the door.  The people only demanded admission for the wounded and the dying, that they might not perish under foot.  It was granted with seeming graciousness; and, without a rush, calmly and quietly, the poor fellows, soldiers as well as citizens, were carried in, and the door was shut.  Then humanity conquered fear, and all were speedily busy, attending to the unwelcome guests.  Some of the strange actors without captured and sent in a surgeon, and under his orders the hotel speedily became an hospital; and among the nurses, swiftest and firmest, and tenderest of hand, was the English girl who had been going home to die.

    At length the storm swept on, and seemed to be dying down; and David Haldane, having done all that he could to assist in the disposal of the wounded, turned out into the city.  He had meditated doing this all the morning, but the disturbance in the hotel had kept him indoors till within an hour of noon.  His object was to find Peggy Oglivie; not that he expected to find her in the streets: it could only have been by accident that she had been exposed to their dangers on the day before.  But he counted upon seeing her companion of yesterday; it was a clue to be picked up, if possible.  The students were everywhere at the head of the revolt, and he would, in all probability, find the youth who had roused his curiosity and pity, in the midst of the fighting; he would know that childish figure, tricked out in its warlike bravery, anywhere.

    By the time he reached the Louvre, the triumph of the people had begun; the fire of the soldiers had suddenly ceased, and the mob were about to enter the palace, and scatter themselves over the noble rooms, filled with the relics of ages, to indulge in a revel of rude mockery and dismal burlesque; with the lance of Francis I. to run a tilt at the portraits of his descendants; to sit by turns upon the throne of France, and then to leave a dead man to fill it.

    A few searching glances sufficed to show David Haldane that the boy-soldier was not there.  He left the crowd just as they burst through the palace gates with a yell of triumph, and went on to-wards the quays.  There he met party after party, headed by youths in the well-known uniform of the school; but none of them was he whom he sought.  These parties were coming from the attack of the archiepiscopal palace.  Stormed upon with grapeshot from the quays, the crowd had taken refuge in the aisles of Notre Dame; there some young priests had caused them to be fired upon from the windows of the palace.  A signal revenge was taken for the unchristian act; the gates of the palace were carried by storm, and in an instant masses of people filled its sumptuous apartments.  All the furniture-books, paintings, hangings, even the plate—was thrown into the river.  One object alone, a representation of Christ, as large as life, was respected; the people instinctively felt that he whom it represented, who had dwelt in no palace, and wielded no temporal power, had nothing in common with those who called themselves his priests.  But now the crowds were pouring westward steadily, and David Haldane turned back and went with the stream.  The conflict had ceased in the city quarter, but in the Rue St. Honoré the fighting still went on.  In fact, the soldiers posted there had been forgotten in the general retreat; they were Swiss, and they defended themselves to the last.  When David Haldane returned to the point from which he had started, they were reduced to about sixty men.  Three red line, each consisting of a single file, fronted the raging multitude which filled the entire breadth of the street, and there, at the head of the half-armed mob, who had suffered fearfully from the practised fire of the soldiers, was the young student, armed with a carbine, which seemed at least as big as himself.  It was easy to be seen that it would fare ill with that remnant of the enemy, now become thoroughly obnoxious to the people, and conspicuous by their uniforms.  The deep roar of the increasing and excited multitude was enough to strike terror into their hearts.  The lines wavered, broke and scattered, the soldiers flying singly or in pairs.

    But the mob seemed resolved that this last act of the drama should be a bloody one.  They pursued the poor soldiers into the shops and houses in which they sought refuge, and stained their hour of triumph with some acts of brutal butchery.  But many even in the crowd connived in their escape, and suffered them to get out of back windows and into back alleys, while they pretended to be following them for their blood.

    David Haldane had kept his eye on the small figure in the cocked hat, while this scene was enacting.  He saw him discharge his piece, and throw it away, that he might run after two tall soldiers who had turned and fled down a side street.  He and they soon distanced the crowd yelling at their heels; so also did David Haldane.  At any moment the men might have turned and got rid of their young but apparently merciless pursuer.  At one time they did turn, when he was close upon them, seemingly to address to him some remonstrance.  Surely the boy's life was at stake, for the crowd had not yet gained the corner.  David Haldane glanced behind him.  They were in the very street in which he had lost the boy and his companion the night before; and now, when he looked forward again, he was following the soldiers through an open door, which David Haldane only reached in time to have closed in his face.  Both pursuer and pursued were shut up there with their fate, and what that would be depended on those who had thus received them.  It could but make matters worse to put the yelling mob upon the scent, and therefore he passed on, marking well the tall old house in the narrow street, to which he determined to return immediately.

    Meantime Peggy was passing through those terrible hours of waiting, which so often fall to the woman's lot, and whose anguish is worse to bear than any active suffering.  The night before she had slept the sleep of exhaustion, and had wakened only in the full sunshine of another day of blood.  The old soldier keeping guard at the foot of the stair had prevented her going forth, and had brought her a message to the effect that nothing whatever had been heard of monsieur and madame.  Perhaps they were dead, she thought, killed in those dreadful cannonades.  Perhaps they had gone away together, and left her to her fate.  She knew by this time that she had flung herself into hands that would wring her heart for a single coin.

    It seemed as if nothing remained to her but to die.  Only she was young and strong, and she knew that she would not die just yet, but live and have to face life as bravely as she could.  The unselfish, too, rarely make the most of their own sufferings.  She thought of Margery, and what her life had been, and a deeper sympathy for her relative came to her in her own desolation.  Then the faces of the sisters she had seen in Notre Dame passed before her in their sweet serenity.  They had given up life, but had given it up to the service of others; and she longed to devote her life as theirs was devoted, and wondered why her purer and sterner faith forbade the sacrifice.

    As she sat thinking thus, seated on a low stool near the window, her head resting on her hand, she heard a noise of trampling feet upon the stair, and Henri bounded into the room, pursued, as it seemed, by a couple of soldiers.  Before she had found words to speak, he had sprung through the open window on to the roof, the men following but leaving their arms behind them.

    Entreating them to desist from harming the boy, she ran out after them, and was hailed by Henri with the assurance that all was well, that these were friends of his whom he was saving from their pursuers, and hiding in a place of safety.  She had scarcely entered the room again and fastened the door, when a fresh trampling arose, accompanied with frantic noise and tumult.  It was evident that a crowd was approaching.  Another moment, and they were thundering at the door.  Delay might be precious to the fugitives, and she did not dare to open it, but drew herself up, wide-eyed and motionless, in the furthest corner of the room.  She heard the door creaking and straining as they pressed against it with cries and execrations.  There was no time to escape, even if she could, from that dreadful multitude.  There was only the parapet, and, five storeys underneath, the stony street.  The door fell inward with a crash, and a number of squalid, blood-stained men stood upon the floor.

    They ran to the window shouting, "They are here, they are here, the murderers 'of the people!"  Just then a man appeared in the doorway, a head taller than the rest, and a voice called out in breathless eagerness, "I have found you at last, my love—my love!"  They had swept her, trembling, from their path; but the next moment she was safe in David Haldane's arms, and, for that moment, everything was forgotten in one long, clinging embrace.

    The soldiers had escaped, and the baffled pursuers retreated across the room.  Gay and good-humoured in their very mercilessness, they gave no annoyance as they passed, save a jest or two over the prize the stranger had won.


 
CHAPTER LVI.

FOUND AT LAST.


LEFT alone together, a deep and painful sense of embarrassment took the place of that moment of ecstasy.  They were each conscious of the mutual thrill with which they had met; but there existed in both their minds a barrier to its true interpretation.  She was the first to draw back, and then for an instant he looked at her, no longer a blushing girl, but the sweet and yet noble woman her girlish grace had promised.  The face he gazed upon was sad and quiet to coldness; and yet, but a moment since, the lovely head had lain so willingly on his bosom that it seemed as if it might rest there for ever.

    He was the first to speak. "You are alone?" he said, glancing round the little dovecot of a room.

    "Quite alone," she answered, sadly, "at least here."

    "I thought you were with your father," he replied, with an asking look.

    In a few words she explained to him the aspect of affairs.

    "You must not remain here," he said, when she had finished; "you must come with me.  There is a lady at my hotel under whose protection I can place you."

    "Your wife?"

    "My wife!" he repeated, in amazement.

    "Then the lady I saw you with was not your wife?"

    "Certainly not.  I am not married, nor likely to marry.

    She was conscious of drawing a little closer to him, though she restrained the involuntary movement.

    But he seized her hand.  "Forgive me if I am wrong," he said, "if I am taking you at a disadvantage: I will never ask any woman to be my wife, except the one I have asked already.  Something tells me that one day I may ask again with better success."

    "You shall not ask again, if you think her still worth having," she answered, the sudden generous impulse of giving fully and freely conquering her womanly reserve, and she held out to him the other hand.

    He drew her towards him eagerly, and was about to kiss her.

    "Stay till you hear all," she cried.  "You know that I was engaged to Captain Oglivie, and that I broke off the engagement?"

    "There is no need to tell me anything, only that you love me now," broke in the impatient lover.

     "Oh, listen,'" she pleaded; "you do not know that I fancied I loved him before any one knew that I had seen him.  He is not so much to blame as he seems, for my heart had gone from him before I was able to break with him altogether.  In spite of this, I tried to keep a foolish fatal vow—a vow that seems to bind me still, though we are separated for ever."

    He looked grave, and she went on to tell him of the scene in the fir-wood, still holding him gently back.  When she had finished, he drew her to him unresistingly.

    "Then you do not think me fickle—almost false?" she whispered, after a little interval; "you do not think my love for you will change?"

    "You have never told me yet that you loved me," he said, somewhat archly.  "Let me hear you say you do."

    "I do, I do," she answered, earnestly.

    Suddenly he remembered the letter with which he had been entrusted, and told her of it, adding, "Had we not better go?  The streets are dangerous, but it seems that here we are not safe, and I think I can pilot you to a place of safety."

    "But Henri," she said, "will return here, and I have something to ask him."

    "Is that the little soldier?" he asked.  "Yes; he is a great friend of mine."

    "I wonder what has become of him.  When be has made an end of the two gendarmes, perhaps he will come and have a thrust at me," said David.  "Your little friend appeared to be uncommonly bloodthirsty.  Seriously, is the boy safe, do you think?"

    "He is quite safe," she answered; "as safe as a cat out on the roof there."

    "And the soldiers?"

    "Not quite so safe there, I fancy, though safer than in the hands of those awful men;" and she shuddered as she thought of the invaders of her sanctum.  "Henri saved the soldiers at the risk of his life, I suppose."

    "It was to kill them he risked his life, I imagine," said David.

    "Oh, no; he himself told me they were friends.  People in this country fraternize more suddenly than with us.  Come out here," she added.  "Perhaps he will hear me if I call to him."

    They went out into the sunshine, these two.  It was strange, in that city of strife, what a peace had fallen on their hearts—the great peace and rest of love.  Peggy called softly, but there was no response, and they stood still a little out there, to ask and answer the endless questions which occurred to each.  They were trivial for the most part, for it is the privilege of love to exalt the trivial and transfigure the common things of life.  David Haldane tried to keep back for a little the tragic incident which had taken place at the Forest House, and when it was no longer possible to do so, he softened it as much as he was able.  Truly, their new-found joy was shadowed by a sad and awful background.

    Just as they were about to depart, Henri's face appeared over the high range of chimneys.  If Peggy's eyes had not been turned in that direction she would not have seen him, for he rose and disappeared as deftly and silently as the cat to which she had compared him.

    "It is all right, Henri," she exclaimed; "they are gone, and this is a friend."

    Henri had evidently heard her assurance, for he looked up again over the barrier.

    "I thought monsieur had led the pursuit," he said, a little doubtfully.

    "Not I," replied David Haldane.  "A lady from an opposite window pointed out the door through which you had passed, and the sovereign people demanded admittance in a way that was not to be denied."

    "Have you got them safe?" Peggy asked.

    "Quite safe," he answered, "but hungry, dreadfully hungry.  Have you anything you can give us to eat?"

    She was obliged to confess that she had nothing.

    "They cannot go through the streets till they have changed their clothes," said the little fellow, thoughtfully.  The people would kill them, though the fighting is over now.  I have been to the end of the houses out here, and I can see the people embracing one another, but there is not a red coat to be seen."

    "If you will wait till I take this lady to a place of safety," said David Haldane, "I will send you everything you require."

    Thus it was settled, and Henri was to remain up there till the soldiers could come forth with safety.

    Then Peggy asked her question.  It was, whether the lad knew anything of her father.  It had struck her that, in his strange curiosity about every one, he might have made himself familiar with her father's haunts—might know more about him, indeed, than she did herself.  And she was right in her conjecture.  Henri knew where he was to be found if yet alive, and promised to set out in search of him as soon as he should be released from taking charge of the safety of his new friends.  As Peggy surmised, they had fraternized in the moment of victory, and the clever lad had saved them by his sham pursuit.

    They re-entered the room, and Peggy prepared to go with her lover.  "I cannot well stay here," she said, pointing to the demolished door; "and yet I am sorry to lose a chance of finding my poor father.  He night come here."  There was still a painful explanation to be made on her part.  It was necessary for her to confide to David Haldane her father's desperate circumstances, and leave him to judge if it was possible for her to forsake him then.  Would he try as well as trust her? leave her to do her duty, and wait for her?  It was with a wistful, deprecating look that she told him, in as few words as possible, of her father's weakness and need.

    "I will go with you till he is found," she said.  "I shall be glad to see and be near a countrywoman again."

    "And do you think I am going to lose sight of you again?" he said, tenderly.  "You do not know what a hunt I have had for you.  And do you know that I have bought a picture of yours?" he added; "I knew the old place in a moment."

    "Oh, I am so glad you have got that," she said; "and I shall be glad of the money too, for I am desperately poor."  She tried to smile over it, but failed.  It had been quite too serious for that.

    Meantime they had got into the streets.  It was as Henri had said: the three days' fighting was over, and men who had never seen each other before, were embracing and kissing in an intoxication of joy.

    They reached the hotel in safety, and a few words of explanation from David Haldane sufficed to interest the kind-hearted Miss Minto in her new charge.  What these words had been, the latter could gather from the elder lady's manner towards her.  She evidently regarded her in the light of David Haldane's future wife, and her gentle freedom of manner was tempered by respectful tenderness.

    "I like you, my dear," said the sweet old gentlewoman, when she had carried her off to her room to arrange her dress; "and as for him, he is a man to be proud of."

    Yes, he was certainly a man to be proud of—a man whom women instinctively trusted, and men instinctively honoured.

    Then there was Margery's letter, which seemed to solve every difficulty.  All that remained was to find her father, and the poor step-mother, too, and make everybody happy after their own fashion.  This was her first thought—a return to the old childish vision of universal good; but her second thought was deeper and sadder.  She knew now that life was not so simple a matter; that the good, which was to be universal, was not to be so easily attained; the taint of selfishness and sin was not so easily purged away; and while these remained, the inheritance of happiness was not to be won—never would be wholly won on the earthly side.

    With Miss Minto and her niece, Margaret Oglivie—the childish pet name had fallen away from her, for David had called her Margaret—was in her element.  In the younger lady she found a friend and companion, in the elder a mother, one who loved youth and rejoiced in its joys, and so shared them.  In Grace Minto these last days had wrought a great and happy change.  She had found that there was no comfort like comforting others; no relief from pain so great as that which came from relieving others.  Her aunt found the task of consolation and care suddenly taken out of her hands.  The only danger seemed to be that Grace would overtask her physical strength, which had been deeply shaken though not undermined, by her sorrow.  This would be in a measure obviated by the necessity for returning home, and finding there objects on which to expend her awakened energy of beneficence.  It was resolved that, if all went well, the whole party should return to England together, waiting, however, a sufficient time to allow the disappearance of Louis Oglivie to be satisfactorily accounted for.  That very evening David Haldane, assisted by Henri, began an active search for the missing pair.


 
CHAPTER LVII.

THE RETURN.


DAVID HALDANE fulfilled his promise to Henri, and sent him the supplies he needed; and as soon as he was released, the youth set about his search for Louis Oglivie.  But he failed in finding the least track of the missing ones.  They had disappeared without leaving a single clue by which to trace their steps.  Their fate, living or dead, was a matter of mere conjecture.

    A pit had been dug in front of the Louvre, where the slaughter had been thickest, and the bodies scattered over the battle-ground in its neighbourhood had been collected and buried there.  A hundred and sixty bodies were laid together in that ghastly grave, and each one of the number represented a domestic tragedy of the saddest sort.  Most of the dead were buried there unrecognized.  The indiscriminate grave closed over the unnamed and unknown.  Most of them were young men—many, indeed, almost boys; and mothers and newly-wedded wives went about, from hospital to hospital, in the vain hope of finding some dear one who was hidden for ever in that bloody heap of slain,—went about refusing to believe that they were not to be granted one last look before the final hiding of faces—one assurance of love before the long silence of the great separation.

    And in the footsteps of these poor, distracted women followed the daughter of Louis Oglivie.  Nothing would satisfy her short of such a personal search as this.  Had some one died without a name among the hundreds admitted to one of the noble institutions of the city, she did not hesitate to look upon the face of the dead, in order that she might be assured that it was not whom she sought.

    But she was not alone in this mournful task; David Haldane went with her, and would have taken it on himself entirely, only that in the matter of identification he was useless.  Grace Minto, too, insisted on accompanying her friend through those scenes of suffering, that she might find objects to whom her wealth might minister relief.

    Inquiries among the friends of Madame Oglivie proved equally fruitless.  The pair seemed to have sunk into the earth—whirled away in the wild, demoniac dance of the revolution.  That two human beings should be so swept away in that terrible vortex, was, after all, not so strange or improbable.  In some respects it was not difficult to account for such a catastrophe.  Madame Oglivie had made up her mind not to quit or lose sight of her husband, and the unhappy man was almost insane upon the point.  Under the morbid influence of his aversion he might have rushed into danger, in the hope of thus ridding himself of her, at least for a time; while she, equally determined to keep him, might have braved the danger wilfully.  Thus they might have perished together in one of the storms of grape that swept the streets that lay between Louis Oglivie's haunts and his home.  It was never known exactly how many did perish in this way.

    But however it might be that the wretched pair had ended their career, it was, perhaps, well that the veil of the unknown should hang over the end.  For years to come Louis Oglivie's daughter cherished the hope of his reappearance; but it was a hope never to be realized.  He, had really and truly disappeared, and for ever.

    At length a day of departure for England was fixed upon by David Haldane and his party.  Their passports were made out in the name of "the Lieutenant-General, the Duc d'Orleans," and they proceeded to Dieppe, and from thence in His Majesty's packet Crusader, crowded with English people flying from all parts of France to England.

    In the name of all the proprieties, Miss Minto protested against David and his betrothed going on together and alone.  At London, therefore, they halted, and took up their abode for a few days at Miss Minto's house in town.  From thence they were to go down into Sussex to join the rest of the Minto family; while David Haldane proceeded to Scotland by himself.

    "Remember, we shall not give her up till you have a legal right to carry her away," said Miss Minto in parting and it was settled that he should return, and be married in England, as there were no near relations on either side to be consulted on the matter.

    The Mintoes were a family of five.  Fatherless and motherless, and rich, they were left almost entirely to their own devices.  The eldest brother had a fine estate in Sussex, and inhabited a bright, large, hearty-looking old Sussex manor upon it.  But the brightness had gone from it for him, and the heart had died out of it, since the sad event by which, unwittingly, he had darkened the life of his favourite sister.  It was hardly a year ago, and yet the place looked deserted and neglected.  Grace had kept house for him, and though her sister Bella had taken her place, she could not fight against the gloom which had seized upon her brother.

    "Bella, do you mind having your flowers away from the house, somewhere where I cannot see them? they remind me of Gracie, and the happy days we had before——" he would say, and rise and go away, striding over the downs till he was exhausted.

    The brother and sister had not met for many months; they had not even written to each other, each too fearful of reminding the other of the past, and all the suffering that had sprung from it.  Grace had, indeed, sought to assure him of her unaltered affection, but that was when her every look seemed to him a reproach.  His sensitiveness equalled hers, and his suffering had been even more severe.

    And now that they were to meet, their friends were anxious concerning the meeting.  When he heard that she was coming home ill, her brother had said, "Yes, she will die, it is the best thing for her; and for me too, if I could manage it, death would be better than life."  But now he had heard of her rapid recovery, and that she was coming down to Sussex, and he prepared to go away at once.  "It will only make her ill again to see me," he said, "even if she can bear the sight of the place."

    And both Miss Minto and Peggy felt it to be a great experiment, that going down to the place.  It was in the hall of the old house that the fatal shot was fired; and in a room above—a white-curtained room, looking out into the orchard, where he had been carried wounded to death, that—he died.  They questioned whether it was wise to go there yet; but Grace knew that her cure was not complete till she had braved this renewal of suffering; and they yielded to her wish to get it over without delay.  A return of the old inaction seemed to come to her till this was accomplished.  It was possible, indeed, that it might prove too much for her.  The experiment might fail.  The absence of her brother, who next to her was the principal sufferer, seemed an element of failure.

    A third sister had built a cottage on her brother's land, and called it "The Retreat."  It was a real cottage, and not a sham.  Except in the exquisite purity of everything in it, there was nothing to distinguish it from the better class of humble homes.  The door opened straight into a square hall, which could be used as a sitting-room, scantily furnished with oaken chairs and table, and with a wooden settle on each side of the great fireplace, furnished with dogs instead of a modern grate.  From the hall opened an inner room, one step higher, furnished with equal simplicity, its square of crimson carpet, and its table-cover of some plain material, being quite attainable by all but the very poor.  The sleeping-rooms, equally simple, were reached from this room by a wooden stair.  A door communicated with a similar cottage, built by the side of this one, in which dwelt the young squire's keeper and his wife, who served the inmates of "The Retreat," whoever they might happen to be.  Behind, in a dwelling of their own, lived a noisy family of beagles, and two or three young ones were generally to be found crawling about along with the keeper's baby, and running the same risks of being trodden upon or burned alive.

    It was to the cottage that Miss Minto resolved to come, and to bring the two young ladies; Miss Kate, its owner, being absent with another aunt in Scotland.  It had strange tenants often, "The Retreat"—a retreat, indeed, not from splendour and gaiety, as its young mistress at first intended, but from many of the ills of life.  As has been said, these young people were rich, and free to spend their riches; and both riches and freedom were beginning to be nobly used by them.  Did Kate Minto find a poor young schoolmistress, toiling and fainting through the summer, in a close London schoolroom, she would send her down, with a mother or a sister for company, to stay a month at the cottage, to wander over the breezy downs, and eat fruit, and drink sweet milk ad libitum.  At another time it would be a poor artist and his wife, to whom it was a double boon, giving life to his art as well as to himself, furnishing his exhausted portfolio with fresh sketches of lovely Sussex woods, picturesque with scattered farm and manor, church and cottage, amid the wavelike undulations of height and hollow.

    Bella was at the cottage to receive them, and at first it seemed as if both sisters would have broken down at the meeting.  It was Grace who recovered first, and presented Miss Oglivie to her sister.  "We two," she said, holding her hand, "have talked over this meeting, and I think but for her I should never have been able to bear it.  Now I feel as if it was selfish to sorrow so much and so long.  Where is he?"

 "Ben?  He does not know you are here," faltered her sister; "I was afraid to tell him.  Oh, you do not know what he has suffered!"

    "How glad I am," said Grace, looking at her friend with tearful eyes, "that you persuaded me to see him at once—that you guessed all this.  Do yon know she told me that he must be suffering more than I?" she said, turning to her sister.

    Bella went up to Peggy and kissed her.  "Oh, thank you so much!" she sobbed.  And turning to Grace, "It will all be as it used to be at home again, will it not?" she asked, timidly.

    "How will you let him know I am here?" said Grace.

    "I do not know," answered her sister.  "If he knew, I think he would go away.  I know he has thought of giving up the place to Will, and going away altogether.  I think if you had not come back, or if—if you had died, he would have done it soon."

    Then Miss Minto was taken into consultation; and it was resolved that she should see "Ben," as her nephew called, on the morrow, and tell him that his sister was at the cottage, and was coming to see him.  But Fate had ordered it otherwise.
 

Leaning over the stile which led out of the wood
to the upland beyond, was a man who seemed
immovable in his attitude of listlessness.

    On the morrow, when Miss Minto had gone up to "the house," to fulfil her mission, Grace, who was very restless and excitable all the morning, was urged by Peggy to go out into the little wood.  Anything to work off the feverish feeling which betrayed itself in the heightened colour and unnaturally brilliant eyes.  Leaning over the stile which led out of the wood to the upland beyond, was a man who seemed immovable in his attitude of listlessness.  At first Grace did not recognize him; but on their advancing close, he turned a little, and Grace, excited as she was, gave a little cry, and sank on the bank by the pathway.  It was the very opposite to all she had intended her meeting with her brother to be.  He turned and looked at her for a moment, and then with an expression which Peggy never forgot, as an embodiment of acute despair, he was about to fling himself over the stile.

    But Peggy saw in a moment what had happened, and hastened towards him.  She did not hesitate to seize his arm, explaining in a hurried whisper that they were there to meet him.  "Come to her," she added, "and all will be well."

    But he stood still.  "She cannot bear to see me," he murmured.

    "Oh, yes, she can—she will; but she is trembling now, so that she cannot walk, and you must go to her."

    He suffered himself to be led forward; but his sister had risen to meet him, and came to him crying, "Forgive me if I have hurt you, Ben.  Indeed, I did not mean it; but we came upon you so suddenly."

    Strong man as he was, Peggy could see his whole frame shiver with emotion as he took her in his arms.

    Then the three walked together back through the little wood, growing calmer every step they took.

    "Shall we go and find Miss Minto?" said Peggy, with a look of intelligence to her friend.

    "Where is she?" said her nephew.

    "She has gone up to 'the house' to tell you that I coming.  Let us go;" and his sister clung closer to his arm, while Peggy, excusing herself turned aside into the cottage.


 
CHAPTER LVIII.

THE TITLE IN ABEYANCE.


DAVID HALDANE found on his return that things at the factory had gone on much in their usual course; but the old man had begun to murmur at his prolonged absence, though his stay beyond the allotted period had not been much more than a week.  The old man murmured, because in his early days people had had no holidays at all.  He himself had had none, he said; and, like all old people, he was inclined to measure with his own bushel other people's apples.  He was, altogether, somewhat crusty with his nephew.

    "I have another offer for Delaube," he said, in the first hours of their meeting.

    "And I hope you have refused it," said his nephew, hastily.

    "No, I haven't.  I think I'll sell it.  Captain and Mrs. Oglivie want the place taken off their hands, and Miss Margery makes another offer for it."

    "I will take it," said David the younger.

    "And what wad ye do wi' it?" asked his uncle, almost angrily.

    "Bring home my wife," answered his nephew.

    The old man felt an intensity of interest which he did not choose to show.  He did not want to be mollified all at once, "Where may she be?" he asked.

    "She is in England," was the answer; "and I want to arrange for an absence early in October, when I mean to bring her back with me."

    David Haldane the Elder had not shown his interest in his nephew's first statement; but he could not conceal his disappointment at the second.  He had completely reconciled himself to the idea of an alliance with the Oglivies, and, from being reconciled, he had become eager for it.  "I wud rather ye had married a country woman o' your ain," he said, testily.  "They say the English lasses are baith bonnier and franker; but, as far as I've seen, there's mair ootcome in the Scotch."

    "But surely Miss Oglivie is Scotch enough," said his nephew.

    "Ou, ay; if it's her I've naething to say," rejoined the old man.

    His nephew then told him the story of the "Three Days," and before he had ended his listener was restored to entire good humour.

    "I'll settle about the house," he said.  "Nae doubt she wud like to come back to the auld place.  She seemed sore vexed to leave it."

    David had undertaken to see Margery at the earliest opportunity.  She was by no means prepared to rejoice over the marriage which awaited one of the last representatives of her noble house; but for David Haldane, personally, she had conceived a great admiration, which she showed by telling him her mind on the subject, concluding with—

    "So ye're not afraid to marry one o' an evil race.  For many a day the Oglivies have had the ban o' the Almighty on them.  Few o' them have died a fairstrae death" (viz., died fairly in their beds).  "No good have they ever done, no blessing have they ever brought."

    David gave it as his opinion that his betrothed was blessing enough for a whole generation of Oglivies; but shrewdly added that, if her opinion of them was so bad, the race might as well come to an end.

    "The lands and the gear will be hers some day," she said, half-meditatively.

    "They needn't," he replied; "there are others who can claim them."

    "And ye want nothing with her?" she rejoined, with a queer look.

    "Nothing," he answered, proudly, but with no evil pride.  "What I want I win: the power to do this is my inheritance."

    "Well, well, let it be," she answered; and they parted friends.


 
CHAPTER LIX.

SIR HORACE.


IN the garden David encountered Captain Oglivie.  He was sitting in the same wheeled chair in which Gilbert Oglivie had sat so long.  He looked weak, and pale, and desponding—a wreck of himself.  David Haldane was touched with a great pity, but its expression would probably have been utterly distasteful to the object of it, and he therefore bowed respectfully and passed on.  Horace Oglivie was recovering his health by very slow degrees.  His constant cry was to get away.  He would sit for hours with his head bent upon his breast, speaking not a word to any one.  If they endeavoured to rally him, he would turn on them fretfully, long before he was able to be moved, and cry, "You are keeping me here to kill me.  I should be better if you would only take me away."  He seemed also to be trying constantly, and vainly, to remember something.  He would sit knitting his brows with the effort to recollect; then he would institute apparently useless searches through his room and all his belongings, which ended invariably in fits of weariness and weak excitement, or in still deeper depression.

    One day Margery came upon him while thus employed.  His mother had complained to her of it frequently before.

    "What are you doing?" she asked.  There was an unusual tremor in her voice.

    "Looking for some papers which I have mislaid," he replied.

    "When did you see them last?"  He shivered.

    "Before your illness?" she asked again.

    "Yes."

    "Let me try and find them for you."

    "No, no!" he answered, sweeping the things before him together, with a strange expression of alarm.  Then hastily he changed the subject.  "Here is a note of my debts," he said, still speaking with weak excitement.  "I have not kept quite straight on the score, you know.  It is as well to confess it now, when I am too ill to be severely punished for it."

    He looked, indeed, as if it would be as well for him to ease his spirit by confession.  His smile was wretched: it seemed to throw a ghastly light upon his face.

    "Your debts," she repeated; "to David Haldane?"

    "How do you know?" he asked.

    "When you were ill "

    "True.  I talked nonsense."  His face grew yet more ghastly.  "He is a hard man.  He will not let me go, perhaps, till I have paid the uttermost farthing."

    "God forbid that we should any of us exact that," said Margery, solemnly; "but I have paid him all."

    "Then you know all," he almost gasped.  "I must have spoken of other things.  Tell me what I did say, and I will not hide the truth from you.  I am miserable."

    It needed no words to tell that.  The woman whom he thought so grim and ungracious drew near him softly, and caressed the bowed head for a moment, as his mother might have done, only with an infinity of tenderness which was not in his mother's nature.

    "Hush!" she said, softly; "tell me nothing; I know the worst, but I will think the best I can.  I will think of you tempted more than your weak spirit was able to bear.  It is best that this should lie between yourself and your Maker.  Make no excuses to Him."

    "And the papers?" he whispered.

    "I have got them," she answered; and her voice was like that which is used in a sick chamber.

    And truly the soul of Horace Oglivie was sick to death; but he had suffered, and was sick of life also, and very sick of sin.

    "And you do not hate me?" he asked, after a pause, during which his face had remained hidden in his hands, and she had turned half away.

    She stopped, as if to think.  She was, in truth, thinking whether, if the suffering which had drawn upon her tenderness were not there, she would not hate him.  At length she answered, "No."  He was at least capable of suffering.  She had known some who were not, whatever they inflicted.

    After this, the preparations of Captain and Mrs. Oglivie for leaving Delaube were hastened.  Captain was now Sir Horace Oglivie, but it transpired that he wished to drop the title, and it was never heard again in the house.  He went away with his mother while he was still half an invalid, and proceeded abroad, plentifully supplied with money from Margery's ample means.

    Not long after his mother died, and he refused all further supplies.  He might have been seen wandering about at quiet watering-places, one of those solitaries who have a history written in their faces, and yet whom no one knows.  He was only known as Captain Oglivie.  The title was in abeyance; the once-coveted inheritance no longer either hoped for or desired.


 
CHAPTER LX.

PREPARATIONS.


MEANWHILE Peggy was becoming domesticated among her new friends.  Miss Minto and Grace remained at "the cottage," but they went daily to "the house," or else Bella and Ben came to them.

    The wound was at length healed, and could be pressed without bleeding.

    It had already been proposed that Grace should take her old place in her brother's household, and the necessity for preparing for the marriage of her friend made the arrangement the more desirable.  The proposal had come from Bella, and as it was yet in the early days of their stay at the cottage, Ben had still to be made acquainted with the event that was pending, and of the use that was about to be made of his bachelor abode.

    They were walking in the little wood, a long, narrow slip of plantation, chiefly of young birch-trees, which were already dangling their leaves like golden medallions mingled with the tresses of a maiden's hair.

    Grace and her brother were alone together, for Bella had gone off with Peggy in search of any wild flowers remaining in the wood.

    "When are you going to take me back, to keep house for you?" said Grace, almost gaily.  "Bella is quite tired of it, I think."

    "I shall be only too glad to have you back again," he replied.  "Do you think you could bear it?"

    It was the first time he had alluded to the great trouble of their young lives, and his voice almost failed him as he did so.

    But she looked bravely into his eyes, and answered, "I am sure I can, and we will take care of each other.  I am strong now—stronger than I ever was before.  I used to think there was no fate so hard as mine—as ours: now I know that there are many as hard, if not harder."

    "What we should do with our lives seemed a question very hard to answer a little while ago," he said, musingly.

    "I have learnt the best answer to it now and always," she replied.  "It is to spend them in the service of others.  I was roused out of my selfish trouble by those terrible days of bloodshed, and the cure has been completed by nearness to a thoroughly healthful spirit."

    "Miss Oglivie.  She does seem very bright and pure," he said, a little sadly.

    "It is like breathing mountain air to be with her.  She is so unconscious, so free of self, and so simply lofty," said Grace, with enthusiasm.  "I want to be settled with you before she goes away, and leaves me to myself again."

    "I fear it will be exchanging the mountain air for that of a dismal swamp," was the rejoinder, in a tone of melancholy.  "When does she go?"

    "Oh, very soon."

    "She is engaged, is she not?"

    "Of course she is, and we want her to be married up at the house.  There, that is our plot."

    "Who is he?"

    "Her intended? why, the David Haldane we talk so much about.  He is a Scotch manufacturer."

    "Is he worthy of her?"

    "You would have little doubt about it, if you saw him," said Grace.

    "But she is of good family."

    "That is so like a Radical!" she laughed.

    He took up her lighter tone and went on: "Why did you or Bella not tell me all this sooner, instead of exposing me to the danger of unwittingly breaking the Tenth Commandment?"

    "I thought you knew from the first."

    "I got confused, I suppose, among your adventures; and you know I never was clever at enigmas.  You women are so fond of little hints, that I did not think Miss Oglivie's fate was sealed so utterly."

    "Would it have made any difference to you?" she inquired, eagerly.

    "Never mind, Inquisitor-general.  I think I see you and me in the future—mind, I give you my whole life, Gracie, and the future is not an unhappy one.  There is Will, and Kate, and Bella to carry on the family name, etcætera, and we will be the conservators of their interests—fairy godfather and godmother, in short."

    Through the light, half-mocking words ran a chord of deep sadness, which touched the sister's heart.  "Dear old Ben," she said, caressingly, "if there would be the least use in it, I would turn a desperate intriguer on the spot.  I would ruthlessly manœuvre to deprive David Haldane, much as I admire him, of his promised bride, and try to believe, in self-justification, that she would be ten times happier with you; but there is not the least use; she is hopelessly in love with him."

    "Would you mind my going away for a time, Gracie?" he asked, abruptly.

    "For how long?" she replied; "it depends upon that."

    "Well, perhaps for a year or two."

    "Oh, Ben!"

    Her arms had fallen listlessly by her side; her whole expression and gait changed at once.  But he was quick to notice it, and to see that it was his duty to remain.  The next moment he cried out—

    " I am a selfish fellow, Gracie! but you may keep me if you like—only get me plenty to do."

    "I was just going to give you plenty to do," she said, smiling out again.  "In the first place, will you give away the bride?"

    "At your service," he said, but he winced a little.

    "Then will you let us fill the old house from top to bottom?  I want to take this opportunity for a reunion," she explained; "to make it as nearly as possible what it would have been, if Harry and I had been married.  Why should it not?" she added, clasping her hands about his arm.  "We must be happy in other people's happiness now."

    "You shall do just as you like, dear," he answered, tenderly.

    "Then we will all come up to-morrow," she replied, "and I will write at once to Kate and Will.  Kate wants the cottage, for she has caught a poet, with ever so many children.  He will be a fit person to write the epithalamium, by-the-bye, and she has invited him and his family to 'The Retreat;' so you must take us in."

    The brother and sister finished their walk without coming upon the other two, who had returned by another path.

    As they neared the cottage they saw the postman turn in at the little gate that led up from the road, and, still in the shadow of the wood, they could see the lattice open and an eager hand stretched out to take the letter.

    A little later they looked in at the end window, which being in the shadow they scarcely darkened, expecting, to see Bella and Miss Oglivie together.  But they saw the latter only, and drew back instinctively; not, however, till they had seen the pretty picture which the room and its occupant made just then.

    A fair girl was leaning over an open letter, her flowing curls brushed the open sheet, and from its folds she had lifted a sprig of white heather, and was pressing it to her lips the while she read.

    "No, I won't go in," said Ben, in a whisper, and he turned his back on the picture, and, with a squeeze of his sister's hand which almost hurt her, he strode away.

    Dinner waited long for Ben up at the big house that afternoon.  He had been battling with the breeze for hours upon the downs, and perhaps battling with himself, too, for his sister had henceforth no reason to complain of any slackness on his part in the preparations that were going forward; nay, he ran up to town one day by himself, and bought a brooch of amethyst and pearl for the bride elect.

    Margery had her own way of doing things, and she had written to the elder Miss Minto without the least hesitation.  Being satisfied with the reply she received, she had placed in that lady's hands a considerable sum of money for Peggy's use, whom she chose to treat as still a child.  But, with the help of David Haldane's interpretation of her character, Peggy appreciated the delicacy which really underlay the arbitrariness of the proceeding, and rendered thanks for the kindness with real grace.

    And in other matters she had to submit to a little arbitrariness also.  Miss Minto insisted on spending the money entrusted to her on bridal adornments of the most perfect kind: on gleaming, pearl-white satin and delicate lace adornments which suited well the character of the bride's graceful loveliness.  And it is not to be denied, that Peggy rejoiced in them like any other fair young bride, glad that the gift she was giving—the gift of herself—should be enhanced even in its outward beauty, and be at the moment of giving at its fairest and best.

    The bridegroom came down the day before the wedding, and found that, though he might be indispensable on the morrow, he was the last person wanted just then.

    He had to submit to the most unceremonious treatment.  Busy, merry Kate took possession of him, and quartered him for the night with the poet down at the cottage, threatening him with all sorts of penalties if he made his appearance before the appointed time, or was seen anywhere about the premises till after he had duly gone through the ceremony of the day.

    After being wrought upon in this fashion, it was no wonder that he trembled and "looked as white as a ghost," according to Kate, when confronted with his bride.  It seemed to him as if her loveliness had overflowed, and clothed her in that dazzling raiment, and that he stood by her side in a trance of the spirit from which a word might awaken him.

    It is on record that he made the responses with great propriety, having learnt them off by heart; but it is believed that he did not hear a word of the service, of which the bridesmaids Bella and Kate had the benefit.

    The little church was decorated for the occasion, and among the decorations was a quantity of white heath.  But Benjamin Minto never confessed the trouble he had had in procuring it.

    "Bless me!  I am the only old woman here," said Miss Minto, when they were all assembled at the wedding feast; "and I had quite forgotten the fact; but one can never be old while one feels with the young."

    "Nor miserable," whispered Grace, "while one can rejoice with the happy."


 
CHAPTER LXI.

HOME.


"NA, I'll stick to the sweeties noo.  I'm no' so strong as I hae been.  I'll be glad to see her bonnie face again; but I'll stick to the sweeties noo."

    Such had been honest Jean's answer to David Haldane, when he pressed her to give up her shop and enter upon the position of housekeeper at Delaube, with two stout serving-maids to do her bidding, and to be held in check in their flirtations with a gardener and groom.

    I'm no' so strong as I hae been.  I'm no' fit for hard wark, and I couldna see the hizzies that lasses are noo-a-days in my gate" (way), she had added; "but I'll gang up and see that a' things are richt to begin wi', an' be there to welcome her hame."  And with this answer David had been obliged to content himself, for the independent old woman was not to be moved.

    He had arranged everything for the reception of his bride, and he had made up, and drawn Margery into, a little plot, a joyful surprise for her return.  She was not to know beforehand where her new home was to be; not, if it could be helped, till she had entered within its very doors.  And Jean was to be counted on as far as the reception was concerned.

    On the departure of Captain Oglivie with his mother, Margery had left the house, and had taken up her abode, for the time, with Mr. Keith and his wife.  Workmen had been set to work, not to change, but to rehabilitate the mansion.  No one of the three who consulted concerning it approved of modernising it.  So it was left with its narrow windows and wainscoted walls, and only the offices were added to and improved, and a new carriage drive made round the easy slope of the hill.  Old conversations on personal tastes had enabled David Haldane to make the interior arrangements accord with those of its future mistress.  A severe simplicity, adorned with delicate, but never obtrusive, ornament prevailed.  Thus all was in readiness for their return.

    It was evening, towards the middle of October, and already dark, when David Haldane and his newly-wedded wife neared home.  They were alone inside the coach, and they still considered travelling alone a luxury; so that neither of them had much attention to bestow on outward objects, even if there had been light enough to see them by.  One brief week in the bright October weather they had spent among the English lakes, and the time had seemed far too short.  Still nothing could compare with this delight of home-coming.

    A carriage was waiting for them, where the coach pulled up, and they hurried into it, and were driven on in silence.  "We must be near it now," she whispered, peering out for a moment, but only into indistinctness.

    "Near where?" he asked, quite gravely.

    "The factory.  We are to live there, are we not?"

    He parried the question.  "You did not like it much when you were there last," he said.

    "Oh, but it is different now."

    "There is more heat, and noise, and smoke, and din than ever."

    "We shall find some quiet corner for ourselves, I dare say," she whispered.  "And yet," she added, earnestly, "it seems selfish to think of ourselves only; but I am to help you in your plans for the work-people, especially the girls, and, living among them almost, I shall have a better chance of winning them to more womanly ways."

    "Here we are," was the answer.

    The carriage could not, even under improved arrangements, draw up to the door.  There was still a garden terrace with its stone steps, and above shone the dear old house, lights in every window.  In the hall, where the door stood open to receive them, stood Jean at the head of the servants, who were already thanking their stars that her administration was to be so brief.

    Old David was there, and Margery, and they were not congenial; but they retired early.  It was a happy evening, and the morrow was the dawn of a new day at Delaube.



    Years have passed away.  The population has marvellously increased in Burnside and Strathie.  Nowhere in Scotland are the bairns better scholars, or the men and women better workers.  Nowhere—thanks to wise, womanly influence—are more modest and maidenly lasses to be found, though they are independent and saucy enough, too; and nowhere do the people, young and old, go more persistently to the kirks, or find the doing so less irksome, though some thoughtless folk might make it appear to the contrary.  The Rev. Dr. Grant is dead, taking dying as easily as he had taken living; and his son Archie fills the pulpit in his stead.  He and Mr. Keith are great friends, and the younger man, as is meet, looks up to the older and greater.  But the Rev. Archibald Grant is quite a star of the North, and if the Queen had patronized Scotland in these early days, he might have preached to Her Gracious Majesty.  His sweet wife, Rose, is a great companion of Mrs. Haldane's, and they work together many a good work of social love and duty.  Mrs. Grant loves and respects her daughter-in-law, though she sometimes objects to her proceedings; she has retired, with Sandie, to a newly-built and very pretty little schoolhouse, and Sandie is well content to remain with his mother, and to teach the rudiments.  That he will never get beyond the rudiments in learning the ways of God he is now well assured, and with that, too, is content—no, not content, that would never describe any mental mood of his.  His attitude is rather that of patience, at rare intervals brightening into hope.

    As for Margery, concerning whom I am not quite sure that she is not the heroine of this story, she resisted all attempts to domesticate her.  She would live alone at Oglivie Castle, the home of her childhood and her youth, though she filled a mere corner of the great gusty house; but she paid constant visits to Delaube, which were returned with interest; for David Haldane and his wife brought with them, year by year, an increasing number of visitors, to ramble, not unprotected, on the cliffs, and rumble everywhere through the old rooms, waking the sleeping echoes.

    A rapidly-aging woman was Margery, with masses of strangely-coloured hair, silver-grey predominating over fiery red; a woman disinclined to the comforts of life, as far as she herself was concerned, who could not be persuaded to sit in an easy chair, or to don a graceful cap, or to relax herself in any way, either in mind or in body;—a harsh woman, but one whose higher qualities touched the sublime; and these loftier parts of her character stood out, to those who knew her then, like the lines of the mountains against the evening sky.

    And the close of her life was neither loveless nor lonely.  David Haldane and his wife had learnt to love and reverence her, and they taught their children to do the same.  She would have had David give up the factory, and tack the name of Oglivie to his own.  It was her solitary weakness—her clinging to the doomed race; a weakness closely allied with her strength: but he would not.

    "I will neither quit my post nor change my name," be would say.  "My work lies down at the mill; and it's higher work, to my thinking, than driving deer in the forest, or even leading soldiers to the fight, in most causes.  The people at the mill are my people, as much as the followers of the feudal lord were his; and I am bound, just as he was, to stand by them, and not deliver them over to the oppressor.  When the leaders of industry do this, they will be as great and as venerable as the lords of the land, whose greatness, in this respect, has passed away, though its shadow is over their descendants.  As for a man's name, it matters very little what it is; but to change it, somehow, seems to argue a change within.  Besides," he would add, with a smile, "I think a Haldane is as good as an Oglivie, any day, you know."

    The end drew near to Margery, and no one knew it: no one knew that she felt great spasms of pain—premonitions of dissolution.  It was a windy autumn day, tossing the clouds, the waves, the corn-sheaves—earth, and sky, and sea all motion, and change, and unrest.  In a room of the castle—a room with a large bay window, looking out on the cliff and the sea—gathered a pretty family group.  A fair young wife stood at the window, to watch her husband dismounting from his horse—a wife wise, and sweet, and gracious, beyond as well as in her home "a perfect woman nobly planned," and free in all her movements to fulfil that plan.  Around her played "the children"—David and baby Margaret; and at a little distance sat Margery, watching the group from her straight-backed chair, and knitting as for very life.

    "That boy grows liker to his father every day," she said, in her old, abrupt voice.

    His mother turned and glanced at him, her eyes yet smiling, from giving back his father's smile.

    "He is wonderfully like him," she answered, laying a white hand on the head of David the third.

    "But I am like Aunt Margery," said a small; clear voice; and a small, clear face, with a halo of bright, red hair, hid itself in the knitter's lap, with an impulsiveness which sent the ball of worsted rolling over the floor.  The boy ran and picked it up, to restore it to its owner, to whom he presented it, with a grace which told of a noble and gentle heart.

    But she did not take it.  One withered hand lay on little Margery's golden head; the other had dropped the knitting.

    "Mother!" cried the boy, in a tone quite new to her ear, in its pity and terror.  It was his first vision of the tragedy of life.

    David Haldane entered the room, to find his wife clasping the lifeless woman, in whose lap the child's head still lay; and he led away the little ones, weeping as they scarce knew what, that his wife might weep upon his bosom for the loss of Margery Oglivie; at whose death a great inheritance passed to her eldest son.



THE END.




Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co., London, Paris, and New York.

 



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