to him. " I can gang on noo, sir, gin ye like ; it was
jist a dwam."
"I will read over your evidence to yon," said Mr
Brace after a pause ; ** listen carefolly, in case there
is anything you wish to change or add." He tamed
to take the papers from the clerk, and read the declara-
tion slowly, pausing at every sentence. The old man
listened attentively without comment
*' Are you prepared to sign this as trutht"
*^ I canna write weel when I'm able," said he, ^* and I
cudna sign it enoo ; but I declare that it is the trutL"
'^ Give me the pen," said Mr Bruce ; and he signed
the paper for him, passing it to the fiscal and doctor
to witne8& He then rosa
''Are ye awa't" asked the farmer.
''We must see your son and take his declaration
first," was the answer ; " but we shall take it in the
kitchen, and leave you to rest Good night"
Mr Grant looked troubled. " It's little ees askin'
him," he said earnestly. " Ye canna gang by fat he
says â ^hell tell ye a' wrang as like as not He's no
richt in his mind, sir; ye needna speer at him."
T.B. â ^v.
84 TALES FROM ''BLACKWOOD.''
^ We must take his declaration in any cafle,'' said
the sheriff, soothingly, " as he seems to have been the
only person near you at the time of your accident"
Dr Fraser stayed with Meg for a few minutes,
directing her how to wet the bandages on her father's
head without moving them, and again feeling his
pulsa "You have excited yourself too much," he
said, kindly ; '* try to put the matter out of your head
now. This taking evidence is only a form, and no
one will meddle with you or Willie : tiy to keep quiet,
and do not talk.''
When they were alone Meg looked at her father,
afraid to excite him by speaking. He avoided her
eyes, and lay quiet watching the glow of the fire.
She was filled with trouble. Deeply as she had
dreaded his death, it seemed as if worse evil had
come now, that he should swear falsely.
He was suffering increasing pain from his wound,
and yet too excited to rest. The words of the oath,
as he had heard his own voice repeating them, rang in
his ears. '^ As I shall answer to God," he had pro-
tested, and God knew it was a lia ''In the prospect
of death," Mr Bruce had said, by way of warning.
He was, like most old people who have had hard and
weary lives, not unwilling to see what death had in
store, and sufficiently stoical in his nature to face the
incidental pains of dying ; but to go out of life so^
with a lie on his lips â he shrank horn the dishonour.
"But God canna want me to blame Wullie^" he
8U0H nT7 AS A FATHIB HATH. 35
fhooght '^He made him like's he is, an' He wadna
hae me mak' him saffer for^t, an' me no here to speik
for him. God kens I wadna hae ony haiim come to
WuUie. I wad layther suffer for't mysel'. God
canna want me to say 'at he did it," he repeated
Meg bent forward to catch his words. " But, fader,"
she said, timidly, " He wadna hae you sweer tae a lee."
Her father looked at her â ^a long troubled look â
and sighed. ''Meg," he said, "it was for you as
weel's WuUie I said thon, an' I'U tak' the wyte o't"
" For me, fader 1 " she asked, wonderingly.
" Div ye no see, lass," he continued, " fan ye haena
me ye maun hae Wullie. Gin I had tauld them fa
did it, they wad pit him in jyle as sune as I was
deid, and gin they didna hang him, he wad be keepit
somewhere a's life; and you," he said tenderly, â
"you wad be a' yer lane, my puir lassife."
Meg shuddered at the thought of Wullie's fate;
her own loneliness she did not think of.
" Oh, fader ! dear fader 1 I wad say ye ken best,
but I canna say it. It canna be richt, even though,"
and the words seemed to choke her, â " even though
they did a' that to WuUie. Ye sud say a* the truth,
when ye sweered 'at ye wad."
" I canna think God wad hae me ruin my ain son,"
persisted her father.
'^ But sud we no leave that tae Him tae see tae 1 "
uiged Meg. " He kens fat Wullie's like, better nor
36 TALES FHOM ''BLACKWOOD."
yon an' ma" She was so accustomed to lean on and
leveie her father's judgment and opinion hitherto,
that in a cahner moment she would have felt sure she
must be mistaken if they differed. But now she
grew urgent " If it was for me 'at ye said it, no
to leave me alone, dinna think o' that. I wad far
raither ye tauld them a' the truth, and then we wad
do the best we cud for Wullie efter. I canna think,"
she continued, gaining confidence, '' they wad pit ane
like him in prison â ^they wad a' see he cudna mean
it" Her father's face changed as she finished speak-
ing : he turned towards her and caught feebly at her
hand. " It's just a dwam o' faintness," he murmured.
Meg hastily used such restoratives as she had, and sat
still holding his hand until his eyes opened again.
"Weel, fader 1" she asked, tenderly.
<' Aweel," he sighed, ''it's dune noo, and we'se lat
it be." She began to speak, but he checked her
with a fretful " Wheesht ;" and as he seemed much
weaker since his last attack of faintness, she feared
to distress him.
She could only sit in silence, grieving for what
seemed to her his great mistake. And yet it was
from his great love to Willie. She remembered how
he had borne with endless patience all his trying
ways, working hard and late at busy times to make
up what Willie had left undone, and how careful he
had been to provide him with little pleasures when
he could. It had been a home of love and happiness^
8U0R PITT AS A FATHER HATHi S7
ilM home of tbeae thrae together, and now it â oemo d
all to have fallen in rains ronnd her in one miserable
day. Ohy how sweet and tnnqnil the long oneyent-
ful past seemed as she looked back ! Only last night
they had sat together, her father resting after a long
day and reading the weekly paper, sometimes a bit
here and there aloud. Willie sat smoking and listen-
ing too^ and she had finished the first of her father's
new socks, and set up the second one, â ^it was lying
now in the kitchen drawer. As she sat holding her
fathei's hand, thinking, the quiet was broken by the
heayy sound of Willie's footsteps coming along she
passage, and he stumbled against and opened the
parlour door. ''Megl" he called.
<< Dinna mak' a noise," she said, rising hastily.
"Lat him in," murmured her father. ''Weel,
Wullie, hae ye come ben to see mel"
Willie looked rather surprised at his father's posi-
tion. '^Hoo's yer heid, fader 1" he asked, noticing
the bandages; and then, without waiting for an
answer â "The man wants to see fader's hat I
tauld him" â ^with an air of importance â "it was
dean cut through, an' he said he maun see't ; sae gie
it to me, Meg."
Meg took it from a drawer. "See thatl" said
Willie, triumphantly pushing his fingers through a
long cut in the crown and brim, â "I tauld yel"
Then observing a stain on his fingeis, he said with a
disturbed air, " Eh, but there's bluid on't I "
38 TALES nOM ''BLACKWOOD."
"Wullie,** said the old man, "comenearme, â ^Iwant
to speik to ye. Did they ask ye fae was't hurt me t "
" I tauld them it was me," said Willie, " an' I took
them oot and shawed them the place. The man said,
Wasna I sorry I had hurted ye ) but I tauld him I
didna mean to dae it, and it was jist a mistake. Can
ye no come ben, fader 1 "
" Na," said the old man, m so grave a tone that
even Willie, eager to " tak ben " the hat, was arrested
"Na, Willie, Fm no able. I ken, my laddie, ye
didna mean to hurt me sae mickle, but I'm gaun to
dee â I'm gaun whaur yer mither is â but ye'll no
*' Na, fader, I winna. I'm real vext, fader, 'at I
did it. Wull ye no be better the mom ? "
"Maybe I wull," was the solemn answer. Meg
looked from one to the other â ^how little Willie could
" Weel, I maui% awa' ben," he said, after a minute's
silence. "Guid nicht, fader."
Meg sat quietly down again, after shutting the
door, which he left. open. Surely now he^ father
would see that concealment was hopelessâ that he
would only buitten his own conscience. " An' they
a' ken," she thought ; ." the dpctor, an' Kirsty, an' a'
â ^an' me, if they askit me to sweer, I wad hae to
tell them it was Wtillie." She looked at her father :
his &ce was working with deep emotion, and the slow.
8UGH nrr as a iathxr hath. 39
painful tears forced themaelyea between his closed
eyelids. " Meg,** he said at last, with a kind of sob,
''it gangs to ma Yarra hert that a' this sad come tae
Wnllie fan he didna mean it, and he kens sae little
fat it a' means, my ain puir bairn. I snd hae guided
him better, and he wadna hae dune it" The struggle
between his unspeakable love for his son â heartless
and unconcerned that son appeared to others, but
intensely dear and pathetically helpless in his sight
â and his sense of truth and righteousness, was
almost greater than he had strength for.
" I thocht," he continued, in a broken voice, " God
cudna want me to sweer against Wullie, even though
it was the truth; but I see noo I was wrang.
Wullie's a puir, feckless cratur, but he's better nor
me : he's tauld them a', an' made nae lees. God for-
gie me â it's hard tae ken fat's richt, Meg. They say
'at a man sud ' sweer to's own hurt and chynge not,'
but it's a muckle deal harder to sweer to the hurt o'
ane that ye lo'e." Meg pressed his hand tenderly,
too awestruck by the anguish and striving of his soul
to speak. At length he said, with a great sob of
yearning and grief, '' Oh that I sud be the ane to
bring it on him â ^me that's his fader!"
She burst into tears of sympathy. *^ Na, na, dinna
say that ; it's an awfu' trouble, but it disna come frae
oursels. It's jist sent to us, fader, and we maun tak'
it frae God."
''He kens," began the old man; then his voice
40 XAU8 VBOM ^ BLACKWOOD.^
died away altogetheri and his hand feebly grasped hia
daughWs, as if for help^ and then lelaxed. She
hastily applied her restoratives and bathed his fore-
head with cold water, trying to lower his pillows as
gently as she could. The pain of being moved seemed
to help to restore consciousness, and again he opened
his eyes. When he spoke, his voice was almost a
whisper. '* It was jist anither kin' o' dwam, but it
was a wamin'. Ill no need to pit aff â ^ye're richt^
Meg. Ill tell him noo, if he's no gane."
Meg knelt beside the sofa and laid her head on his
breast; then she kissed him. ''Dear, dear fader 1"
she said, her hot tears falling on his cheek, ''111
gang this meenit"
"Dinna lat them a' come," whispered her father;
"jist the shirra."
She rose and ran to the kitchea Mr Brace and
the doctor sat silently by the fira The others were
gathered at the table â the clerk turning over the hat
WiUie had brought in, and attaching a label to it
Meg went straight to the sheriÂ£ " Fader wad like
to see ye again, sir ; he has mair to say to ye."
Mr Brace and the doctor exchanged glances. " I
will come," he said, rising.
"He wanted naebody but you, sir," she said; "he's
gettin' awfu' waik."
" I must have one other witness besides yourself,"
he said. "You had better come, doctor." He took
a sheet of paper from the clerk, and they went
SUCH nrr as a fathxb hath, 41
The old man was looking eagerly towards the door
when they entered.
" I'm told you wish to see me,'' said Mr Bnioe^ in-
stinctively lowering his voice and bending over the
''Ay, sir," was the answer; ''sit ye donn. Fm
that waik," he added, apologetically, ^* I canna speik
Dr Fraser interposed, and, feeling his pulse, ad-
vised a stimulant before he was allowed to say more.
He went himself to the kitchen^ and bringing a
tmnbler with some wine, gave him a few teaspoon-
ftds. "Now," he said, "go on."
''You wish to change your dedazation 1 " asked Mr
" Ay," said the farmer:
Mr Bruce folded the paper on his knee, and wrote
in pencil the necessary preamble: *^Ai BaUendoun
afareMidf" &c., &c., " t?ie Mid John Qrard^ being at
his own requeti re-examined^ declares ^" Soon the
old man spoke, but so low as to be almost inaudible
â "It was the boy 'at did it ; he cam' ahint me
wi' a little spade â ^he struck me ower the heid an'
"By 'the boy' you mean your soni" asked the
"What was your reason for not stating this be-
42 TALES FROM ''BLACKWOOD."
''I didna want to blame my ain son,* wliispeiod
the old man.
''What is your son's agef **
" He's forty years auld, but he has a muckle want^
â ^ye can see that," pleaded the father.
Dr Fraser now made a signal that the examination
" Just one thing more,** said Mr Bruce. " When
you said that no one had struck you, and attributed
your injury to an accident, you were not stating the
" I was not"
" And you declare what you have now told me is
"Ay," repeated the old man, with a heavy sigh,
"it is the truth."
Again the faintness overcame him, and he was
longer in coming round.
" This faintness will probably recur, Mias Grant,"
said Dr Fraser as they waited, " and I must not con-
ceal from you that I fear your father has only a few
hours to live, at most I may be wrong â ^I hope I
am â ^but apparently the end is near. These attacks
of faintness will probably recur ; but as far as I can
judge thero will be no suffering, which would distress
you more. I shall stay all night if you wish it"
" Oh, if ye wad be so kind, sir," said Meg. As she
spoke, the hand she was holding stizred a litUa
"He's comin' roun' noo^ ek,**
SUCH PIT7 AS A FATHER HATH. 43
The aheriff and Dr Fraaer signed fhe dedamtion,
and as her father clasped her 1^ hand tighter when
she tried to withdraw it to go to the table, the doctor
brought the paper, and held it steady while she added
"They winna tak' Wullie wi' them the nichtf*
she whispered to him.
'^No, no," said Mr Brace, who heard what she
said ; "nothing will be done to agitate or distress Mr
Grant I am only sorry that my coming should have
been unaToidaUa I sympathise with you very much
in your trouble. Good-bye."
" Good-bye, sir, and thank ye kindly.**
Her father lay in what appeared to be a heavy
sleep, only showing consciousness of her presence by
holding her hand more firmly when she tried to with-
draw it After an hour of watching, the doctor
bade her go and get some food, as she would need
her strength through the night She rose obediently,
and he took her place. The old man opened his eyes
drowsily when he felt the band that held his changed.
" Are ye awa' 1 *' he whispered.
She looked appealingly at the doctor, â " Tes, go,"
Â« Ay, fader, but 111 no be lang."
She made up the fire, and set the room straight
again, moving the candles so as to shade her father's
face : then she hurried away.
Sirsty was out about the doors, â ^Willie was just
44 TALflS FROM " BLAGEWOOB."
going to be<L ^^ Tak* off yer sheen here," Biid Meg^
" and dinna mak' mair noise than ye can help ; an^
Wullie, if fader wants ye 111 come for ye.**
^' What sud he want me fort" said Willie^ staring
''The doctor says he^s gami to dee^" said poor
Meg, with a choking sob. " Oh, Wnllie I Wullie I "
and she threw her arms round his neck in a passion
of weeping. Willie stood motionless for a minute^
and then began with clumsy caresses to soothe hec
** Dinna greet, M^g, dinna greets" he said ; and then,
" Maybe he wunna dee.**
But she could not at once stop her tears, and when
Kirsty came in she turned to her and they wept
together, as she told the doctor^s opinion.
'' I maun gang to him," said M^, suddenly spcing-
"Oh, wait a wee, mem," cried the old woman,
holding her. '' He cudna hae a better body wi' him
than the doctor, â ^he's jist as kind and oonseederate
a man as there is. I maskit a cup o' tea for ye as
sune's they gaed awa', but I didna like to come
ben, it was sae quaite, â I thocht maybe he was
"Sae he is," said Meg, drying her tears, and
accepting the proffered tea ; but she coidd not eat^
the bread seemed to choke her. Kirsty promised to
make supper for the doctor, and have a bed ready ;
and with a kindly " ye maun bear up for a' our sakesi
8U0H PITT AS A VATHKB HATH. 45
mem,'' from the sympatbetic "old servant, ahe went
back to her long night watch.
The doctor came back horn bia sapper, and aat
with her for a time, but theie was no yisible change.
Hour after hour passed by. The old man's breathing
was quiet and regular, and they hoped he slept; but
he always seemed conscious of any movement of
Meg's hand clasping his.
At last she begged the doctor to go and rest ** I
wad ca' up the stair gin he needs ye ; an' ye maun
be weary, sir," she urged.
He had been up almost all the previous nighty and
was veiy tiied, so he said he would go.
<* If he wakens, get him to take a few spoonfuls
of the wine," he said ; *<it vnll be better than anything
M^ promised, and he left the room. She heard
his footsteps going softly up the Kttle stair, and then
the door overhead closed, and all was silent
The fire had burnt very low, and she could hardly
see her father's face. She knelt by the sofa, and
laid her cheek softly against his wrinkled hand as it
lay above the blankets, clasping the other in both of
hei& There was rest and quiet now, after the dis-
traction and grief of the day. He slept peacefully,
and his peace comforted her heart ** This is what
deith will be tae him," she reflected â ''a peacefu'
deep efter the burden an' heat o' a lang, lang day.**
She remained kneeling by him for a long tima
46 TALES FROM '' BULCEWOOD.''
The candle burnt down, flickered, and went out ; the
fire was out too, but the growing light from the win-
dow which faced the east revealed more and more
plainly the face she loved. As she knelt, at length
her father's eyes opened, and looked at her with
quiet recognition. He smiled a little, and, raising
his hand, stroked her hair tenderly.
'* I'm gaun awa' to yer mither, Meg,'' he said ; and
after a pause, laying his hand again on her head, he
added, dreamily, "Yell min' an' say tae them 'at
they maunna be hard on WuUie." Then he slept,
and Meg knew it was now no passing slumber, but
the rest so long and quiet, undisturbed by earth's
many voices â the sleep which only death can give to
the weaiy children of men.
rB **lang, long Indian day** is quickly falling.
The letreating sun is darting Parthian shafts
over the dusty maidan; and the life and movement
of the cantonment^ which have been dammed up
during the scorching hours^ are again astii: Pun-
kahs have been stopped, and windows have been
opened to admit the cool evening air. Smart soldiers,
in spotless white uniform, are strolling from their
barracks in search of fresh air, or perchance beer at
the friendly canteen of a neighbouring corps. Lawn
tennis is in full swing in the club compound. The
band has begun to play at the station band-stand,
and the Besident's barouche and the more modest
'' convaininces " of humbler Anglo-Indian life, are
trundling dustOy forth with pale-faced ladies, who
are going to listen to its strains and enjoy the even-
I had only lately anived in India, in command of
48 TALES FROM '' BLAOEWOOD.'
a diaft^ and had not previonsly done duty inih the
regiment in its Eastern quarters, having been for
some yeara on the staff, though I had had, in ear-
lier days of my soldiering, some experience of the
country. I had paid most of the regulation visits,
and felt that I might face the local society, without
my conscience reproaching me with any social lAches;
so as there was no counter-attraction, I thought I
might as well spend the time before mess by follow-
ing the carriages to the band-stand as in any other
As I sallied from my bungalow, in the coolest and
lightest of garments, not unpardonably conscious that
the said garments were fresh from the hands of a
London artist^ and therefore considerably superior to
the kits of most of my brother officeis^ who had been
obliged to supplement the ravages of the Indian
climate and the Indian moth by the efforts of their
dirzeesy I hailed a brother captain, who was stroUing
aimlessly forth, and secured him as company, and to
tell me who was who in the station fashionable
circles. He was a good fellow, a peer's younger
son, who, having passed a meteoric and somewhat
expensive career in the Quards, had exchanged to a
line regiment) and was expiating his London mis-
deeds by a few years in an Indian purgatory. He
was a standing difficidty wherever he dined, or what-
ever entertainment he assisted at^ as the Indian table
of precedence became hopelessly confused over the
honoianble prefix to his name; and whether he
should be told off to a leading lady, or take charge
of an undeveloped spinster, or even make one of the
unattached crowd of single men who bring up the
rear of every Indian procession to the dinner-table,
was always a puzzling problem to be solved. Among
his brother officers his accidents of birth did not con-
fer any additional dignity, and he usually answered
to the name of ** Button."
There was little variety in the gathering that met
our eyes at the band-stand from similar assemblages
that I remembered in days '' lang syne." There was
the Eesidenf s carriage, drawn by two goodish-look-
ing Walers, with a fat Madrassee coachman in scarlet
on the box, with his bare brown feet stuck out in
front of him. The two scarlet-dad horse- keepers
stood at the horses' heads, each armed with a cJunme,
with which they lazily switched the flies which
buzzed round their charges. Lady Winkle, the wife
of Sir Eodolph Winkle, KC.S.L, the Eesident, sat
quite the '' Burra Mem Sahib," in a dignified attitude
inside, conscious of the Sdat conferred by the escort
of two native sowars^ who were formed up near,
slouching in their ill-cleaned saddles, and still more
conscious of the presence of the quiet-looking, grizzled
old gentleman beside her, who was a member of the
Viceroy's Council on an official tour, and whom she
hardly knew whether to treat as an equal in the
Indian hierarchy, or to conciliate as one whose
â¢La,â V. D
so TAUB VBOX ^'BIAOXWOOIX*
opimon might or might not be fayoiuable to her
husband's prospects. There was the Colonel's
phaeton, with two well-bred oobs, and with harness
that showed a little more careful fitting and cleaning
than mere native supervision could have given. T-
cartsi pony-carriages, waggonettes, drawn hj eveiy
variety of animal, Arabs, Walezs, Burmana, and filled
with the wives and families of the various secietaries,
doctois, paymasteis, &a, who made up our European
station society. Then came the natives, in almost
equal varieties. The fat Parsee, who kept the uni-
versal store for the cantonment^ with his olive-
coloured wife and swarm of black-eyed tawny chil-
dren, with gold-embroidered caps surmounting their
sharp, bright-looking faces, filled to ovoAowing the
old victoria, which had been taken as part payment
of a bill left by an ex-official, whose liver had finally
succumbed, and who had been invalided home last
year. Tongas^ jutkasy and bullock-coaches were there
in every stage of decrepitude, drawn by tattoos and
bullocks, whose very existence should have^ in most
instances, provoked the interference of the Society
for Prevention of Cruelty to Animala Add to these
the usual crowd of Europeans and natives on foot,
with ayahs and babies innumerable^ of all colours,
white, brown, and black, some in perambulators, and
some playing embarrassingly among the legs of the
crowd, and we have the scene which presented itsell
I had written my name in the Residency visiton^
Iwoky as in duty bounds and thought that this was a
good opportunity to make the personal acquaintance
of the great lady herself.
^'Button," I said, ''you know all the swells, intro-
duce me to Mother Winkle.** Thus disrespectfully,
I legreti did the officers of H.M.'s regiment in garri-