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account for its mysterious disappearance.

The probability of Sandy Beg being the murderer was then advanced; but
Sandy was known to have sailed in a whaling vessel before the murder,
and no one had seen him in Stromness since his departure for Wick
after his dismissal from Peter Fae's service.

No one? Yes, some one had seen him. That fatal night, as Ragon Torr
was crossing the moor to Peter's house - he having some news of a very
particular vessel to give - he heard the cry of "Murder," and he heard
Hacon Flett call out, "I know thee, John Sabay. Thou hast stabbed my
master!" and he instantly put himself in the way of the flying man.
Then he knew at once that it was Sandy Beg in John Sabay's clothes.
The two men looked a moment in each other's face, and Sandy saw in
Ragon's something that made him say,

"She'll pat Sandy safe ta night, an' that will mak her shure o' ta
lass she's seeking far."

There was no time for parley; Ragon's evil nature was strongest, and
he answered, "There is a cellar below my house, thou knows it weel."

Indeed, most of the houses in Stromness had underground passages, and
places of concealment used for smuggling purposes, and Ragon's lonely
house was a favorite rendezvous. The vessel whose arrival he had been
going to inform Peter of was a craft not likely to come into Stromness
with all her cargo.

Towards morning Ragon had managed to see Sandy and send him out to her
with such a message as insured her rapid disappearance. Sandy had also
with him a sum of money which he promised to use in transporting
himself at once to India, where he had a cousin in the forty-second
Highland regiment.

Ragon had not at first intended to positively swear away his friend's
life; he had been driven to it, not only by Margaret's growing
antipathy to him and her decided interest in John's case and family,
but also by that mysterious power of events which enable the devil to
forge the whole chain that binds a man when the first link is given
him. But the word once said, he adhered positively to it, and even
asserted it with quite unnecessary vehemence and persistence.

After such testimony there was but one verdict possible. John Sabay
was declared guilty of murder, and sentenced to death. But there was
still the same strange and unreasonable belief in his innocence, and
the judge, with a peculiar stretch of clemency, ordered the sentence
to be suspended until he could recommend the prisoner to his majesty's
mercy.

A remarkable change now came over Dame Alison. Her anger, her sense of
wrong, her impatience, were over. She had come now to where she could
do nothing else but trust implicitly in God; and her mind, being thus
stayed, was kept in a strange exultant kind of perfect peace. Lost
confidence? Not a bit of it! Both Christine and her mother had reached
a point where they knew

"That right is right, since God is God,
And right the day must win;
To doubt would be disloyalty,
To falter would be sin."



CHAPTER VI.


Slowly the weary winter passed away. And just as spring was opening
there began to be talk of Ragon Torr's going away. Margaret continued
to refuse his addresses with a scorn he found it ill to bear; and he
noticed that many of his old acquaintances dropped away from him.
There is a distinct atmosphere about every man, and the atmosphere
about Ragon people began to avoid. No one could have given a very
clear reason for doing so; one man did not ask another why; but the
fact needed no reasoning about, it was there.

One day, when Paul Calder was making up his spring cargoes, Ragon
asked for a boat, and being a skilful sailor, he was accepted. But no
sooner was the thing known, than Paul had to seek another crew.

"What was the matter?"

"Nothing; they did not care to sail with Ragon Torr, that was all."

This circumstance annoyed Ragon very much. He went home quite
determined to leave Stromness at once and for ever. Indeed he had been
longing to do so for many weeks, but had stayed partly out of bravado,
and partly because there were few opportunities of getting away during
the winter.

He went home and shut himself in his own room, and began to count his
hoarded gold. While thus employed, there was a stir or movement under
his feet which he quite understood. Some one was in the secret cellar,
and was coming up. He turned hastily round, and there was Sandy Beg.

"Thou scoundrel!" and he fairly gnashed his teeth at the intruder,
"what dost thou want here?"

"She'll be wanting money an' help."

Badly enough Sandy wanted both; and a dreadful story he told. He had
indeed engaged himself at Wick for a whaling voyage, but at the last
moment had changed his mind and deserted. For somewhere among the
wilds of Rhiconich in Sutherland he had a mother, a wild,
superstitious, half-heathen Highland woman, and he wanted to see her.
Coming back to the coast, after his visit, he had stopped a night at a
little wayside inn, and hearing some drovers talking of their gold in
Gallic, a language which he well understood, he had followed them into
the wild pass of Gualon, and there shot them from behind a rock. For
this murder he had been tracked, and was now so closely pursued that
he had bribed with all the gold he had a passing fishing-smack to drop
him at Stromness during the night.

"She'll gae awa now ta some ither place; 'teet will she! An' she's
hungry - an' unco dry;" all of which Sandy emphasized by a desperate
and very evil look.

The man was not to be trifled with, and Ragon knew that he was in his
power. If Sandy was taken, he would confess all, and Ragon knew well
that in such case transportation for life and hard labor would be his
lot. Other considerations pressed him heavily - the shame, the loss,
the scorn of Margaret, the triumph of all his ill-wishers. No, he had
gone too far to retreat.

He fed the villain, gave him a suit of his own clothes, and £50, and
saw him put off to sea. Sandy promised to keep well out in the bay,
until some vessel going North to Zetland or Iceland, or some Dutch
skipper bound for Amsterdam, took him up. All the next day Ragon was
in misery, but nightfall came and he had heard nothing of Sandy,
though several craft had come into port. If another day got over he
would feel safe; but he told himself that he was in a gradually
narrowing circle, and that the sooner he leaped outside of it the
better.

When he reached home the old couple who hung about the place, and who
had learned to see nothing and to hear nothing, came to him and
voluntarily offered a remark.

"Queer folk an' strange folk have been here, an' ta'en awa some claes
out o' the cellar."

Ragon asked no questions. He knew what clothes they were - that suit of
John Sabay's in which Sandy Beg had killed Peter Fae, and the rags
which Sandy had a few hours before exchanged for one of his own
sailing-suits. He needed no one to tell him what had happened. Sandy
had undoubtedly bespoke the very vessel containing the officers in
search of him, and had confessed all, as he said he would. The men
were probably at this moment looking for him.

He lifted the gold prepared for any such emergency, and, loosening his
boat, pulled for life and death towards Mayness Isle. Once in the
rapid "race" that divides it and Olla from the ocean, he knew no boat
would dare to follow him. While yet a mile from it he saw that he was
rapidly pursued by a four-oared boat. Now all his wild Norse nature
asserted itself. He forgot everything but that he was eluding his
pursuers, and as the chase grew hotter, closer, more exciting, his
enthusiasm carried him far beyond all prudence.

He began to shout or chant to his wild efforts some old Norse
death-song, and just as they gained on him he shot into the "race" and
defied them. Oars were useless there, and they watched him fling them
far away and stand up with outstretched arms in the little skiff. The
waves tossed it hither and thither, the boiling, racing flood hurried
it with terrific force towards the ocean. The tall, massive figure
swayed like a reed in a tempest, and suddenly the half despairing,
half defying song was lost in the roar of the bleak, green surges. All
knew then what had happened.

"Let me die the death o' the righteous," murmured one old man, piously
veiling his eyes with his bonnet; and then the boat turned and went
silently back to Stromness.

Sandy Beg was in Kirkwall jail. He had made a clean breast of all his
crimes, and measures were rapidly taken for John Sabay's enlargement
and justification. When he came out of prison Christine and Margaret
were waiting for him, and it was to Margaret's comfortable home he was
taken to see his mother. "For we are ane household now, John," she
said tenderly, "an' Christine an' mother will ne'er leave me any
mair."

Sandy's trial came on at the summer term. He was convicted on his own
confession, and sentenced to suffer the penalty of his crime upon the
spot where he stabbed Peter Fae. For some time he sulkily rejected all
John's efforts to mitigate his present condition, or to prepare him
for his future. But at last the tender spot in his heart was found.
John discovered his affection for his half-savage mother, and promised
to provide for all her necessities.

"It's only ta poun' o' taa, an' ta bit cabin ta shelter her she'll
want at a'," but the tears fell heavily on the red, hairy hands; "an'
she'll na tell her fat ill outsent cam to puir Sandy."

"Thou kens I will gie her a' she needs, an' if she chooses to come to
Orkney - "

"Na, na, she wullna leave ta Hieland hills for naught at a'."

"Then she shall hae a siller crown for every month o' the year,
Sandy."

The poor, rude creature hardly knew how to say a "thanks;" but John
saw it in his glistening eyes and heard it in the softly-muttered
words, "She was ta only are tat e'er caret for Santy Beg."

It was a solemn day in Stromness when he went to the gallows. The
bells tolled backward, the stores were all closed, and there were
prayers both in public and private for the dying criminal. But few
dared to look upon the awful expiation, and John spent the hour in
such deep communion with God and his own soul that its influence
walked with him to the end of life.

And when his own sons were grown up to youths, one bound for the sea
and the other for Marischal College, Aberdeen, he took them aside and
told them this story, adding,

"An' know this, my lads: the shame an' the sorrow cam a' o' ane
thing - I made light o' my mother's counsel, an' thought I could do
what nane hae ever done, gather mysel' with the deil's journeymen, an'
yet escape the wages o' sin. Lads! lads! there's nae half-way house
atween right and wrang; know that."

"But, my father," said Hamish, the younger of the two, "thou did at
the last obey thy mother."

"Ay, ay, Hamish; but mak up thy mind to this: it isna enough that a
man rins a gude race; he maun also _start at the right time_. This is
what I say to thee, Hamish, an' to thee, Donald: fear God, an' ne'er
lightly heed a gude mother's advice. It's weel wi' the lads that carry
a mother's blessing through the warld wi' them."




Lile Davie.




LILE DAVIE.


In Yorkshire and Lancashire the word "lile" means "little," but in the
Cumberland dales it has a far wider and nobler definition. There it is
a term of honor, of endearment, of trust, and of approbation. David
Denton won the pleasant little prefix before he was ten years old.
When he saved little Willy Sabay out of the cold waters of Thirlmere,
the villagers dubbed him "Lile Davie." When he took a flogging to
spare the crippled lad of Farmer Grimsby, men and women said proudly,
"He were a lile lad;" and when he gave up his rare half-holiday to
help the widow Gates glean, they had still no higher word of praise
than "kind lile Davie."

However, it often happens that a prophet has no honor among his own
people, and David was the black sheep of the miserly household of
Denton Farm. It consisted of old Christopher Denton, his three sons,
Matthew, Sam, and David, and his daughter Jennie. They had the
reputation of being "people well-to-do," but they were not liked among
the Cumberland "states-men," who had small sympathy for their
niggardly hospitality and petty deeds of injustice.

One night in early autumn Christopher was sitting at the great black
oak table counting over the proceeds of the Kendal market, and Matt
and Sam looked greedily on. There was some dispute about the wool and
the number of sheep, and Matt said angrily, "There's summat got to be
done about Davie. He's just a clish-ma-saunter, lying among the ling
wi' a book in his hand the lee-long day. It is just miff-maff and
nonsense letting him go any longer to the schoolmaster. I am fair
jagged out wi' his ways."

"That's so," said Sam.

"Then why don't you gie the lad a licking, and make him mind the sheep
better? I saw him last Saturday playing sogers down at Thirlston with
a score or more of idle lads like himsel'." The old man spoke
irritably, and looked round for the culprit. "I'll lay thee a penny
he's at the same game now. Gie him a licking when he comes in, son
Matt."

"Nay, but Matt wont," said Jennie Denton, with a quiet decision. She
stood at her big wheel, spinning busily, though it was nine o'clock;
and though her words were few and quiet, the men knew from her face
and manner that Davie's licking would not be easily accomplished. In
fact, Jennie habitually stood between Davie and his father and
brothers. She had nursed him through a motherless babyhood, and had
always sympathized in his eager efforts to rise above the sordid life
that encompassed him. It was Jennie who had got him the grudging
permission to go in the evening to the village schoolmaster for some
book-learning. But peculiar circumstances had favored her in this
matter, for neither the old man nor his sons could read or write, and
they had begun to find this, in their changed position, and in the
rapid growth of general information, a serious drawback in business
matters.

Therefore, as Davie could not be spared in the day, the schoolmaster
agreed for a few shillings a quarter to teach him in the evening. This
arrangement altered the lad's whole life. He soon mastered the simple
branches he had been sent to acquire, and then master and pupil far
outstepped old Christopher's programme, and in the long snowy nights,
and in the balmy summer ones, pored with glowing cheeks over old
histories and wonderful lives of great soldiers and sailors.

In fact, David Denton, like most good sons, had a great deal of his
mother in him, and she had been the daughter of a long line of brave
Westmoreland troopers. The inherited tendencies which had passed over
the elder boys asserted themselves with threefold force in this last
child of a dying woman. And among the sheepcotes in the hills he felt
that he was the son of the men who had defied Cromwell on the banks of
the Kent and followed Prince Charlie to Preston.

But the stern discipline of a Cumberland states-man's family is not
easily broken. Long after David had made up his mind to be a soldier
he continued to bear the cuffs and sneers and drudgery that fell to
him, watching eagerly for some opportunity of securing his father's
permission. But of this there was little hope. His knowledge of
writing and accounts had become of service, and his wish to go into
the world and desert the great cause of the Denton economies was an
unheard-of piece of treason and ingratitude.

David ventured to say that he "had taught Jennie to write and count,
and she was willing to do his work."

The ignorant, loutish brothers scorned the idea of "women-folk
meddling wi' their 'counts and wool," and, "besides," as Matt argued,
"Davie's going would necessitate the hiring of two shepherds; no hired
man would do more than half of what folk did for their ain."

These disputes grew more frequent and more angry, and when Davie had
added to all his other faults the unpardonable one of falling in love
with the schoolmaster's niece, there was felt to be no hope for the
lad. The Dentons had no poor relations; they regarded them as the one
thing _not_ needful, and they concluded it was better to give Davie a
commission and send him away.

Poor Jennie did all the mourning for the lad; his father and brothers
were in the midst of a new experiment for making wool water-proof, and
pretty Mary Butterworth did not love David as David wished her to love
him. It was Jennie only who hung weeping on his neck and watched him
walk proudly and sorrowfully away over the hills into the wide, wide
world beyond.

Then for many, many long years no more was heard of "Lile Davie
Denton." The old schoolmaster died and Christopher followed him. But
the Denton brothers remained together. However, when men make saving
money the sole end of their existence, their life soon becomes as
uninteresting as the multiplication table, and people ceased to care
about the Denton farm, especially as Jennie married a wealthy squire
over the mountains, and left her brothers to work out alone their new
devices and economies.

Jennie's marriage was a happy one, but she did not forget her brother.
There was in Esthwaite Grange a young man who bore his name and who
was preparing for a like career. And often Jennie Esthwaite told to
the lads and lasses around her knees the story of their "lile uncle,"
whom every one but his own kin had loved, and who had gone away to the
Indies and never come back again. "Lile Davie" was the one bit of
romance in Esthwaite Grange.

Jennie's brothers had never been across the "fells" that divided
Denton from Esthwaite; therefore, one morning, twenty-seven years
after Davie's departure, she was astonished to see Matt coming slowly
down the Esthwaite side. But she met him with hearty kindness, and
after he had been rested and refreshed he took a letter from his
pocket and said, "Jennie, this came from Davie six months syne, but I
thought then it would be seeking trouble to answer it."

"Why, Matt, this letter is directed to me! How dared you open and keep
it?"

"Dared, indeed! That's a nice way for a woman to speak to her eldest
brother!' Read it, and then you'll see why I kept it from you."

Poor Jennie's eyes filled fuller at every line. He was sick and
wounded and coming home to die, and wanted to see his old home and
friends once more.

"O Matt! Matt!" she cried; "how cruel, how shameful, not to answer
this appeal."

"Well, I did it for the best; but it seems I have made a mistake. Sam
and I both thought an ailing body dovering round the hearthstone and
doorstone was not to be thought of - and nobody to do a hand's turn but
old Elsie, who is nearly blind - and Davie never was one to do a decent
hand job, let by it was herding sheep, and that it was not like he'd
be fit for; so we just agreed to let the matter lie where it was."

"Oh, it was a cruel shame, Matt."

"Well, it was a mistake; for yesterday Sam went to Kendall, and there,
in the Stramon-gate, he met Tom Philipson, who is just home from
India. And what does Tom say but, 'Have you seen the general yet?'
and, 'Great man is Gen. Denton,' and, 'Is it true that he is going to
buy the Derwent estate?' and, 'Wont the Indian Government miss Gen.
Denton!' Sam wasn't going to let Tom see how the land lay, and Tom
went off saying that Sam had no call to be so pesky proud; that it
wasn't him who had conquered the Mahrattas and taken the Ghiznee
Pass."

Jennie was crying bitterly, and saying softly to herself, "O my brave
laddie! O my bonnie lile Davie!"

"Hush, woman! No good comes of crying. Write now as soon as you like,
and the sooner the better."

In a very few hours Jennie had acted on this advice, and, though the
writing and spelling were wonderful, the poor sick general, nursing
himself at the Bath waters, felt the love that spoke in every word. He
had not expected much from his brothers; it was Jennie and Jennie's
bairns he wanted to see. He was soon afterwards an honored guest in
Esthwaite Grange, and the handsome old soldier, riding slowly among
the lovely dales, surrounded by his nephews and nieces, became a
well-known sight to the villages around.

Many in Thirlston remembered him, and none of his old companions found
themselves forgotten. Nor did he neglect his brothers. These cautious
men had become of late years manufacturers, and it was said were
growing fabulously rich. They had learned the value of the low coppice
woods on their fell-side, and had started a bobbin-mill which Sam
superintended, while Matt was on constant duty at the great steam-mill
on Milloch-Force, where he spun his own wools into blankets and
serges.

The men were not insensible to the honor of their brother's career;
they made great capital of it privately. But they were also intensely
dissatisfied at the reckless way in which he spent his wealth. Young
David Esthwaite had joined a crack regiment with his uncle's
introduction and at his uncle's charges, and Jennie and Mary Esthwaite
had been what the brothers considered extravagantly dowered in order
that they might marry two poor clergymen whom they had set their
hearts on.

"It is just sinful, giving women that much good gold," said Matt
angrily: "and here we are needing it to keep a great business afloat."

It was the first time Matt had dared to hint that the mill under his
care was not making money, and he was terribly shocked when Sam made a
similar confession. In fact, the brothers, with all their cleverness
and industry, were so ignorant that they were necessarily at the mercy
of those they employed, and they had fallen into roguish hands. Sam
proposed that David should be asked to look over their affairs and
tell them where the leakage was: "He was always a lile-hearted chap,
and I'd trust him, Matt, up hill and down dale, I would."

But Matt objected to this plan. He said David must be taken through
the mills and the most made of everything, and then in a week or two
afterwards be offered a partnership; and Matt, being the eldest,
carried the day. A great festival was arranged, everything was seen to
the best advantage, and David was exceedingly interested. He lingered
with a strange fascination among the steam-looms, and Matt saw the
bait had taken, for as they walked back together to the old homestead
David said, "You were ever a careful man, Matt, but it must take a
deal of money - you understand, brother - if you need at any time - I
hope I don't presume."

"Certainly not. Yes, we are doing a big business - a very good business
indeed; perhaps when you are stronger you may like to join us."

"I sha'n't get stronger, Matt - so I spoke now."

Sam, in his anxiety, thought Matt had been too prudent; he would have
accepted Davie's offer at once; but Matt was sure that by his plan
they would finally get all the general's money into their hands.
However, the very clever always find some quantity that they have
failed to take into account. After this long day at the mills General
Denton had a severe relapse, and it was soon evident that his work was
nearly finished.

"But you must not fret, Jennie dear," he said cheerfully; "I am indeed
younger in years than you, but then I have lived a hundred times as
long. What a stirring, eventful life I have had! I must have lived a
cycle among these hills to have evened it; and most of my comrades are
already gone."

One day, at the very last, he said, "Jennie, there is one bequest in
my will may astonish you, but it is all right. I went to see her a
month ago. She is a widow now with a lot of little lads around her.
And I loved her, Jennie - never loved any woman but her. Poor Mary! She
has had a hard time; I have tried to make things easier."

"You had always a lile heart, Davie; you could do no wrong to any
one."

"I hope not. I - hope - not." And with these words and a pleasant smile
the general answered some call that he alone heard, and trusting in
his Saviour, passed confidently

"The quicks and drift that fill the rift
Between this world and heaven."

His will, written in the kindest spirit, caused a deal of angry
feeling; for it was shown by it that after his visit to the Denton
Mills he had revoked a bequest to the brothers of £20,000, because, as
he explicitly said, "My dear brothers do not need it;" and this
£20,000 he left to Mary Butterworth Pierson, "who is poor and
delicate, and does sorely need it." And the rest of his property he
divided between Jennie and Jennie's bairns.

In the first excitement of their disappointment and ruin, Sam, who


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