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"Dear Georgina! she 's always late,"
said Lady Canby, benevolently, as she
paused, after returning her niece's and
Major Mackenzie's greeting. "Where 's
my— oh, Georgie!" she called, as the
queer little figure came bustling along the
gangway, " since you 're the last, do you
mind bringing me my thick brown veil ?
I left it on the far side." Then, with raised
voice, " The one for midges."

With a nod and a smile, back to the side

set apart " for midges," as it would appear,
did Miss Roper repair.

" How you two can go without veils ! "
Margaret said, looking from the pink and
white of Letty's face to Lady Canby's
smooth and brown.

"Oh, Georgie 's discovered a way of
treating those horrid midges," Lettice
smiled up at Major Mackenzie.

" How 's that ? Intimidation or an ap-
peal to their better feelings ? "

Lettice gave him her sole encumbrance
to carry, and walked on at his side, light-
heartedly recalling the Italian's advice:
"If you go to Scotland, take always your
mackinproof— I should say your water-

At the comer Ferrall turned.

" Are n't you coming, Margaret ? "

" No ; I 'm going to drive up."

Miss Georgina looked sharply at Mar-
garet a moment before following Lady
Canby into the dog-cart, and then seemed
to forget the girl's existence in a lively dis-
cussion about the contemplated coaching

" What, are you coming, Aunt Mary ? "
asked Margaret, presently rousing herself
with an effort.

" Oh, yes ; I think I might as well," said
Lady Canby.

" You are wonderfully enterprising, all of
a sudden. What 's happened ? "

"Quassia 's happened!" replied her
aunt, briskly, as the dog-cart stopped at
the door of the house they had taken.

Margaret kept looking back. No one in
sight on the long, shadeless road, although
one could see to the very bottom of the

Letty and Major Mackenzie came in late,
laughing and sparring, and bringing with
them that atmosphere of friendly nonsense
that announces the satisfactory issue of an
agreeable tete-^-tete. Evidently they had
not bored themselves.

" I 'm afraid the tea 's cold," said Lady
Canby; "but it serves you right for

"We did n't loiter; we toiled," said
Lettice, dropping into a chair.

" You thought the highroad less agree-
able than the bog, apparently," said Mar-
garet, as Major Mackenzie stood a little
awkwardly in front of her, holding out
some grass of Parnassus.

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He looked down at his feet with an un-
easy air.

"Well, it wtfx less— dusty/* and he laid
the little white flowers on the table near
Margaret. After hesitating a moment, he
went over and stood by Lettice at the

Margaret got up almost at once and
went out, giving not so much as a glance
at Ferrall or his flowers. Miss Roper
cocked her queer little head on one side,
like a bird listening. Her small bright eyes
twinkled with friendly concern.

" Give me my quassia, Mary," she said,
suddenly rising and shaking a few crumbs
carefully out of the French window.

Lady Canby, with visible reluctance,
yielded up a modest-sized vial two thirds
full of a colorless liquid.

" Oh, don't take that away ! " screamed
Lettice, as Miss Roper stepped out on the

" Why not ? " said Georgina, shortly.

" Because I 'm sure to want some more
if I go out."

" Then you can stay at home till I get

" Oh, Lady Quassia ! Dear Lady Quas-
sia ! " called Lettice in wheedling tones as
the little old maid went down into the
garden, never tm-ning her head. She was
sure Margaret had gone that way, but
where? Presently over the stone fence
she caught sight of the girl hurrying across
the moor.

" Margaret ! " called a weak, piping
voice ; and again, " Margaret ! '*

It was the voice an energetic mouse
would have, could it speak a human name.
The girl went on. Miss Georgina pulled
a long blade of ribbon-grass, and, holding
it between her thin thumbs, blew a stri-
dent blast, another, and another. The girl
half-way up the hill looked round. To
Georgina's sign that she was to come back
Margaret shook her head and walked on.

Miss Georgina swarmed up the stone
fence in gallant style, caught her flapping
skirt on a jagged stone, and fell flat on the
other side. She picked herself up, clapped
on her hat, and blew another blast on the
bit of grass, which she still clutched in one

Again Margaret turned to make a
motion of " Let me alone " ; but the vision
of Georgina toiling up the glen coerced
the younger woman into impatient waiting.

Miss Roper had once been heard to say
that she meant to write a poem beginning :

Wise is the woman who realizes

The day when violent exercises

Cease to become her.

But she made as little pretension to poetry
as to wisdom, and toiled on with disheveled
hair, a purple mottle overspreading her

"What is it?" said Margaret, when
they were within speaking distance.

,"0h, a-" (puf!)~"I-a-" (puff,
puff). ''Oh, my dear!" Miss Georgina
dropped incontinently on the springy hea-
ther and gasped while she straightened
her hat. " Have n't you— walked enough
—for one day?"

Margaret looked down upon her with
ill-disguised impatience.

"You have n't run all this way to ask
me that, I suppose ? "

Miss Georgina shook her head, speech-
less, smiling in a deprecatory way. Then :
"Sit down— till I— get my breath."

Not at all graciously, Margaret obeyed.
Instantly the midges gathered thick about
their heads, but presently Margaret seemed
to engross their undivided attention.

" Where did you get that ? " said Miss
Georgina, presently, flxing her bright eyes
on a spray of white heather in Margaret's

" Ferrall— It came from— a rocky place
above Loch Oich. You may have it, if
you like." She held it out.

" Oh, no \ What would Major Macken-
zie think ? "

"It does n't matter what he thinks."
The girl made a thrust at the midges with
the heather, then threw it in Miss Roper's
lap, and seemed to follow with interest
the fleeting gleam of white in the upturned
tail of a rabbit as it disappeared into a
climip of gorse.

" What have you two quarreled about ? "
asked Miss Georgina.

" We have n't quarreled."

"Why are you forever throwing him
with Letty ? "

" If you ask me, I think it 's Letty who
does the throwing."

" You could prevent her hitting the mark
so often if you chose."

" And I don't choose ! " Margaret held
up her head and permitted herself the con-
solation of looking very proud.

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** Margaret," — Miss Georgina leaned
forward and looked the girl steadily in
the face,—" men are inconceivably stupid.
Don't coirnt on Major Mackenzie's seeing
your point"

"I don't/*

" You are n't giving him up ? " gasped
Miss Georgina.

Margaret's face whitened. "I won't
struggle to keep a man who—" She swal-
lowed suddenly, and turned away her

" You need n't struggle. You need only
behave like a rational being," said Miss
Georgina. " What demon makes you give
Letty every opportunity, morning, noon,
and night, to practise her wiles on the
man you 're engaged to marry ? "

** Because I 'm not going to marry him,
you see. They may have it all their own

" No, they may n't ! " Miss Roper settled
her hat on her head with a warlike air, as
if it had been a helmet. "Now, we '11
grant that I 'm meddlesome, and don't
imderstand affairs of the heart. Suppose
for a moment that I care about Letty's

" Oh, I 'm willing to admit that should
be everybody's first consideration."

Miss Roper wasted no time over Mar-
garet's sarcasm.

" Very well. Now, even if Letty was n't
too young and too flighty to marry at once
and fill such a position as Major Macken-
zie's wife will have to occupy, she would
bore and exasperate Ferrall into desertion
inside of a year. But, fortunately, it would
never come to that. I 'm not saying, mind,
that if you go on in the way you 've begun,
that you might n't make them imagine
they had a great deal in common."

"They don't seem to need much help
from me."

" Oh, yes, they do. And you are giving
it. If that *s what you 're after, you can
see one engagement broken and another
made before pheasant-shooting begins."
They were silent a moment. "And then
Letty," she went on, "having taken Fer-
rall away from you, will feel she *s accom-
plished that mission and will look about
for some new interest."

" I never knew you thought so meanly
of Major Mackenzie."

"I am not such a goose as to think
meanly of him. He 's a splendid fellow

— but—" she shook her head, smiling in
an odd little way — "he 's lived most of his
life away from civilization, and he comes
back to it— an infant. It 's part of his
amazing luck that he stumbled upon you.
When you get the hang of him, and give
up expecting him to see what is n't under
his nose, you '11 make him happier than
any one has a right to be in this topsy-
turvy world."

"And what about me and my happi-
ness ? " demanded Margaret, with a little
shake in her voice.

" Your best chance is to be faithful to
your love." Miss Georgina laughed ner-
vously. " I sound frightfully sentimental,
don't I ? " She laughed again.

"You seem to think," said Margaret,
with recovered stiffness, "that if I let
Major Mackenzie go, I may not have an-
other chance."

"It 's possible," said Miss Georgina,

" Good heavens, you talk as if I were

"You are n't eighteen, my dear."

Lettice was eighteen; Lettice was an
heiress ; Lettice was everything desirable.

"After all," said Margaret, "I 'm not
a fright, though you do seem to—"

"No," said Miss Georgina, unmoved;
"you 're not a fright, and you 're not a

Margaret blinked her pretty brown eyes
with surprise, ready to laugh and even
ready to cry.

" And "—the brusque old voice dropped
into a curiously quiet note— "and you 've
no talent for being an old maid."

Margaret looked at her. It would be
absurd to quarrel with Georgie.

" Oh, come, cheer up," the girl spoke
with a fine affectation of lightness of
heart; "after all, I 'm only twenty-eight,
and I look younger."

" Nothing is more dangerous than to
*look younger.' "

" Don't be so tragic, Georgie! "

" People put such faith in it, and yet
women who *look younger' grow old in
a night. I did."

The last two words were breathed rather
than spoken. Margaret, frankly frowning,
and fighting the midges with a brush of
bog-myrtle, did not catch them.

Miss Georgina had clasped her nervous
little hands and was looking before her

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into space. Any one less busy with her
own lacerated feelings than Margaret
would have been struck with the unwonted
intensity in the queer little face.

" Margaret—" Miss Roper began.

" I tell you, I 've made up my mind,
and I 'm going for a walk." The girl
'jumped to her feet. "Seeing that I 'm
not eighteen, and no beauty, and likely to
wake up any day and, instead of being in
bed, find myself on the shelf—" she
laughed angrily— "for these reasons I *m
to eat humble-pie ! After flouting Ferrall
for a fortnight, I 'm to go back now and
say, 'Please, sir, I 41 be grateful for the
smallest favors if only you '11 save me—
from the shelf!' You know quite well,
Georgie, it 's impossible ; things have gone
too far, and I shall take a walk."

Margaret turned away sharply.

Miss Roper made a dash forward and
held the girl fast by the skirt. Margaret
turned on her angrily, but Miss Roper gave
her no time to speak.

"Don't be a fool!" she said. "It was
just like this that I spoiled my life."


" Yes, yes ; I dare say it sounds funny
enough," she tried to laugh, and the look
in her face brought the tears to the younger
woman's eyes. " You think I was always
like this ; but once, a long time ago, I was
young, and— some one I cared about
thought I was— no, that would be toe
funny, perhaps, to believe." Her birdlike
eyes were dim and drowned. " Nobody
knew, but we were engaged to be married,
and I—" the wavering voice grew sud-
denly harsh and firm— "I was bent on
being the same kind of fool you 'd like to
be. But I —I won't let you, Margaret ; for
your father's sake, I won't let you."

" For my father's sake ! "

Miss Roper gave a little start, then
seemed to cover her confusion by quickly
adopting the large, impersonal view.

" Women expect too much of men. We
want them to be heroes, demigods; we
find them—" she gave a contemptuous flip
of her claw-like hand— "////j«/x/ What
they want is not a proud beauty to do
battle for, but some one to mother them,
feed them, and love them, and make them
behave. Of course,"— she glanced appre-
hensively over her shoulder,— "it 's only
women, and only women in some intensely
private moment, who may admit this. We

must keep up appearances. But it 's no
use— no use in the world, my dear, to give
men tasks, in our pride and confidence,
that they can't or don't perform."

They were silent a moment, and Mar-
garet, sitting with lowered eyes, started to
see a tear drop on the thin, tight-clasped
hands in Miss Roper's lap. As the girl
looked up she saw with a sense of vague
surprise that Georgina was not bending
solicitous looks upon her young friend.
The tear-filled eyes were looking into some
world where Margaret was a stranger and
where the other was at home.

" We want to think," she said huskily,
" that nothing else is 'possible ' to the man
we love but one's self." She shook her
head. " Several other things are possible."

"Then it shows," Margaret burst out,
" how worthless such ' love ' is."

"It shows," said Miss Roper, firmly,
"that a man may love one woman and
yet make another an excellent husband."

"I don't believe it!"

The little old maid looked at Margaret
an instant and then said low and hurriedly :

" Shall I tell you who convinced me ? "


" Reginald Howe."

"Not my father!"

Miss Roper got up and brushed some
dust and bits of dry heather off her dress.
Underneath Margaret's astonishment she
was queerly aware of the effort Georgina's
confession had cost, and her agitation at
speaking the name of the father Margaret
herself had never seen.

" Dear Georgie ! " The girl got up, too,
and slipped her hand under her friend's
arm. " I 'd love it if you 'd tell me about
him. Oh!"

"What! an earwig or a mouse?"
Georgina clutched her scanty petticoats.

"/Jrrrtf//- coming up the glen! "

" Oh, that 's all right. I '11 go down and
do Letty's hair."

Margaret held her fast.

"You '11 do nothing of the kind. I 'd
never forgive you."

"Margaret!" Miss Roper's tone of
gentle entreaty seemed to come like an
echo out of that past of which the girl had
to-day had the first glimpse.

" He saw you come after me," the girl
faltered; " Letty did, anyhow— trust her!
And they '11 know you *ve warned me.
Oh, he sees us; he 's making signs! "

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" Make a sign back/' commanded Miss

Margaret's feeble lifting and lowering
of the bit of bog-myrtle might have been
the dying remonstrance of a midge-bitten
martyr. But Miss Roper waved vigorously.

" Don't, Georgie ! " pleaded the girl, half
in tears.

"Don't what?"

"Don't make signals of distress," the
girl laughed nervously through her tears.

** Let me alone. You attend to the dis-
tress and I '11 make the signals."

Ferrall, still some distance below them,
hesitated a moment at a strip of interven-
ing bog. Miss Roper waved and gesticu-
lated as if to cheer his fainting spirit.

" GeorgU / " Margaret seized her arm.
" Don't go on like a lunatic ! Anybody 'd
think we were shipwrecked on a desert

"So we are," said Miss Roper, gesticu-
lating more than ever; "and you 've got
to be rescued." Then, with a sudden
change of manner: " Dear child, he adores
you ! "

" Do you really believe—"

" I know it."

"Then why does he—"

" Because he 's a man, and a man 's a

" Oh, what shaii I do, Georgie," Mar-
garet whispered as Ferrall came nearer,
" I 've been so fiorrid for days ! He '11 sus-
pect now that I 'm being prudent, or
'twenty-eight,' or something dreadful.
How am I to account for—"

Miss Roper had mechanically taken
Margaret's bit of bog-myrtle out of her
hand and brandished it at the midges for
one perplexed instant, and then dropped it
with a cry. 1 1 might have been " Eureka ! "
but the word sounded like " Quassia ! "

" Here, take up your veil."

"My veil!" echoed the astonished

" Take it up— quite off— there ! " Had
the girl not been rather unnerved, she
would have refused to comply without
some explanation. Miss Roper had had a
short, sharp struggle with her pocket, and
now brought forth a vial. She poured
some of the colorless liquid on a cambric
handkerchief. Turning with quick, birdlike
movement, she reached up and dabbed
the soaked linen lightly over Margaret's
astonished face.

"What is it?" asked the girl, feebly,
thinking that poor Georgina's wits must
have suddenly deparffed.

" Have you come for some quas.sia, too.
Major Mackenzie ? " Miss Roper called

" No, thanks."

"You can't imagine how good it is to
keep oflF— "

"Oh, yes; I 've used it sometimes in

" Well, I 'm ashamed of you."

"Eh— wh-what?"

" Yes ; I 'm ashamed of you for not
mentioning it before."

"Oh— a— why?" said Ferrall, a little
anxious, apparently, lest he were going to
be scolded some more.

"All the abuse I get in this family,"
Miss Roper went on briskly, dabbing Mar-
garet's wrists and hands with the essence
of the Eastern vine—" all the scorn heaped
on me because in traveling I sometimes
make friends with my fellow-beings. And
yet if I had n't told that woman in the
Inverness boat that her hair was coming
oflF — down, she would never have offered
me quassia to keep off the midges. And
then where would we all be ? " She seemed
to arraign Mackenzie.

"A— really, I— I don't know."

" You would see Margaret and all of us
bitten into a fever and^^w 'd never suggest
• "I 'msorry I-"

" Even Margaret's beautiful nature get-
ting quite ruined with the irritation— a
little more on your chin, dear. Day after
day goes by, you see her suffering, and
still you never say, * Quassia ' ! "

" Awfully sorry. I 'd have said ' Quassia '
all day long if I 'd only known."

"Oh, ^^1/ had n't noticed any change
in Margaret, of course. We all know love
is blind. But / 've got so I 've been afraid
to go for a walk with her. You see, her
skin is so fine the midges make her quite
feverish. But, thank Heaven! there 's
quassia ! Don't you feel an extraordinary
relief, dear ? "

"Quite extraordinary," said the girl,
smiling under lowered eyes.

"Now I must have some. But — "
Georgina stopped in the act of pouring
more of the stuff on her handkerchief—
" don't stand staring at me, you two. I 'd
rather do it when nobody 's looking."

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They laughed and walked away a few

** You must finish your walk without me,
Margaret," she called after them ; " I 'm
tired. Besides, I 'm coming to pieces."

A backward glance showed Miss Roper
perched on her heathery knoll, with her
hat off, in the act of doing something
mysterious to her hair.

"Come," said Ferrall, and they went
on. Presently he added : " I can't say how
awfully sorry I am I never thought of sug-
gesting quassia."

"Oh, it 's all right, since Georgie *s
discovered it," said the girl, meekly ; and
they walked on to the high comb of the

Presently Margaret stopped.

" Oh ! " she said.

"What is it?"

"Your beautiful grass of Parnassus— I
left it to wither in the drawing-room."

"Oh, never mind."

" But I dor

" Did you care about it ? "

" I loved it."

"That 's all right, then," he said, smil-
ing; "but don't go back just yet" He
took her hand, doubtfully, with an awk-
ward little air of uncertainty as to whether
she was going, after all, to "be good."
" We are n't alone together very much."

"And when we have been alone," she
began, with an impulse toward confession,
"I 've been so tormented—" '

" I know— I know. I was a brute not to
realize—" he brandished a great protecting
arm in front of her—" that to any one with
a complexion like a baby's—"

"Oh, it 's all right now," said Mar-
garet. "Ferrall!"


" Whenever I *m bad to you I wish you 'd
just remind me of to-day."

He sat down in the heather, still keeping
hold of her hand, and trying gently to
draw her down beside him.

" Look at Georgie," said the girl, gazing
down the glen.

" I 'd rather look at you."

"She is rather like Miss Robinson

"Oh, come! You thought I did n't
speak respectfully enough, but I never
called her Ma/."

" I 've left her alone on the Desert Island
—and— she 's hiding her face in her hand-

" She does n't like the midges any more
than you do."

"She does n't like— some other things
any more than I — would. Ferrall," — Mar-
garet sat down, and, braving for once the
observation of the sea-gulls and the swifts,
she put her hand through Mackenzie's arm
and leaned her cheek on his shoulder,—
"you don't really dislike my old friend,
do you ? "

"Dislike her! Rather not." He beamed
down at the recovered Margaret. This
was the girl to whom he had lost his heart.

"Should you mind asking Georgie to
come and make us a visit ? "

" Not a bit."

" Let us go back now and tell her."

" I sha'n't budge for at least ten min-

"Well," said the happy Margaret, " we '11
call at the Desert Island on our way back
and rescue her."

" By Jove ! I feel as if she 'd done the

"Well, it's true, Ferrall."


" I 'm not going to say anything more ;
but just— whenever I 'm the least bad to
you, dear— say quite low, so nobody else
can hear— say, * Quassia ' ! "

" And then will you be good ? "

"Well- 1 '11 be better."

" I don't want you better : be like this."

He looked down at the happy face, and,
whether dimly divining who had worked
the miracle, or just to please Margaret, he
called out, one arm uplifted as if propos-
ing a toast :

" Long live Lady Quassia ! "

The uplifted arm came down, and with
the other completed the circle.

But the ten minutes stretched to sixty,
and, for all their good intentions, had it
depended upon the rescuing party, Lady
Quassia would have gone dinnerless that

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Drawn i>y Harry 1-eiiii




N the history of Norway the
ancient county of Vestfold,
on the western side of the
Christiania Fjord, holds a ven-
erable place. Associated with
the earliest traditions of the country, Vest-
fold played a conspicuous part in many of
the dramatic events of the saga period.
Later on, during the four centuries in which
Norway was united with Denmark, Vest-
fold lost not only her name, but her tradi-
tions. But in the depth of her slopes and
mounds, crowned by woods and verdure in
delightful, undulating lines, Vestfold, like
a jealous mother, guarded her precious
treasures for the independent generations
of Norway regained.

The general renaissance in literature,
science, and art after the Constitution of
1814 created an unparalleled interest in
Norwegian antiquities, of which the splen-
did collections in the national museums
are the most palpable evidence. Here
again Vestfold is in the lead, for among
all the Norwegian antiquities unearthed

during the last century there is none like
the famous Gokstad ship found in 1880.

Yet Vestfold had another surprise in
store. With the unearthing of the Oseberg
ship, in 1903, in the opinion of experts, she
even beat her own record.

The particulars of the latter discovery
read like a chapter of a historic novel.
Many years ago, as early as the begin-
ning of the sixties, the mound of Ose-
berg was supposed to contain antiquities ;
but as no investigations were made at
that time, speculation as to what it might
contain soon died out. Later a farmer re-
siding on the very mound made the dis-
covery that earth from the mound when
spread on his fields had the effect of a
fertilizer. 1 >igging in the mound, he often
found large bluish pieces of oak of extraor-
dinary toughness standing upright in the
earth. Still the ancient mound retained its

Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Barton) RendleThe Century → online text (page 89 of 120)