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and opened the master's outer door. Ere he reached that of his
room, he heard his voice inviting him to enter.

"Come to condole with me, Malcolm?" said Mr Graham cheerily.

"What for, sir?" asked Malcolm.

"You haven't heard, then, that I'm going to be sent about my
business? At least, it's more than likely."

Malcolm dropped into a seat, and stared like an idol. Could he have
heard the words? In his eyes Mr Graham was the man of the place -
the real person of the parish. He dismissed! The words breathed of
mingled impiety and absurdity.

The schoolmaster burst out laughing at him.

"I'm feart to speyk, sir," said Malcolm. "Whatever I say, I'm bun'
to mak a fule o' mysel'! What in plain words div ye mean, sir?"

"Somebody has been accusing me of teaching heresy - in the school
to my scholars, and in my own house to the fisherfolk: the presbytery
has taken it up, and here is my summons to appear before them and
answer to the charge."

"Guid preserve 's, sir! And is this the first ye hae h'ard o't?"

"The very first."

"An' what are ye gauin' to do?"

"Appear, of course."

"An' what 'll ye say to them?"

"I shall answer their questions."

"They 'll condemn ye!"

"I do not doubt it."

"An' what neist?"

"I shall have to leave Scotland, I suppose."

"Sir, it 's awfu'."

The horror stricken expression of Malcolm's face drew a second
merry laugh from Mr Graham.

"They can't burn me," he said: "you needn't look like that."

"But there's something terrible wrang, sir, whan sic men hae pooer
ower sic a man.

"They have no power but what's given them. I shall accept their
decision as the decree of heaven."

"It's weel to be you, sir - 'at can tak a thing sae quaiet."

"You mustn't suppose I am naturally so philosophical. It stands
for five and forty years of the teaching of the Son of Man in this
wonderful school of his, where the clever would be destroyed but
for the stupid, where the church would tear itself to pieces but
for the laws of the world, and where the wicked themselves are the
greatest furtherance of godliness in the good."

"But wha ever cud hae been baze eneuch to du 't!" said Malcolm,
too much astounded for his usual eager attention to the words that
fell from the master.

"That I would rather not inquire," answered Mr Graham. "In the
meantime it would be better if the friends would meet somewhere
else, for this house is mine only in virtue of my office. Will you
tell them so for me?"

"Surely, sir. But will ye no mak ane?"

"Not till this is settled. I will after, so long as I may be here."

"Gien onybody had been catecheesin' the bairns, I wad surely hae
h'ard o' 't!" said Malcolm, after a pause of rumination, "Poochy
wad hae tellt me. I saw him thestreen (yestereven). - Wha 'll ever
say again a thing's no poassible!"

"Whatever doctrine I may have omitted to press in the school,"
said Mr Graham, "I have inculcated nothing at variance with the
Confession of Faith or the Shorter Catechism."

"Hoo can ye say that, sir?" returned Malcolm, "whan, in as weel's
oot o' the schuil, ye hae aye insistit 'at God 's a just God -
abune a' thing likin' to gie fair play?"

"Well, does the Catechism say anything to the contrary?"

"No in sae mony words, doobtless; but it says a sicht o' things
'at wad mak God oot the maist oonrichteous tyrant 'at ever was."

"I 'm not sure you can show that logically," said Mr Graham. "I will
think it over, however - not that I mean to take up any defence
of myself. But now I have letters to write, and must ask you to
leave me. Come and see me again tomorrow."

Malcolm went from him -

like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn.

Here was trouble upon trouble! But what had befallen him compared
with what had come upon the schoolmaster! A man like him to be so
treated! How gladly he would work for him all the rest of his days!
And how welcome his grandfather would make him to his cottage! Lord
Lossie would be the last to object. But he knew it was a baseless
castle while he built it, for Mr Graham would assuredly provide
for himself, if it were by breaking stones on the road and saying
the Lord's Prayer. It all fell to pieces just as he lifted his hand
to Miss Horn's knocker.

She received him with a cordiality such as even she had never shown
him before. He told her what threatened Mr Graham. She heard him
to the end without remark, beyond the interjection of an occasional
"Eh, sirs!" then sat for a minute in troubled silence.

"There's a heap o' things an 'uman like me," she said at length,
"canna un'erstan'. I didna ken whether some fowk mair nor preten'
to un'erstan' them. But set Sandy Graham doon upo' ae side, an' the
presbytery doon upo' the ither, an' I hae wit eneuch to ken whilk
I wad tak my eternal chance wi'. Some o' the presbytery's guid
eneuch men, but haena ower muckle gumption; an' some o' them has
plenty o' gumption, but haena ower muckle grace, ta jeedge by the
w'y 'at they glower an' rair, layin' doon the law as gien the Almichty
had been driven to tak coonsel wi' them. But luik at Sandy Graham!
Ye ken whether he has gumption or no; an' gien he be a stickit
minister, he stack by the grace o' moadesty. But, haith, I winna
peety him! for, o' a' things, to peety a guid man i' the richt gate
is a fule's folly. Troth, I'm a hantle mair concernt about yersel',

Malcolm heard her without apprehension. His cup seemed full, and
he never thought that cups sometimes run over. But perhaps he was
so far the nearer to a truth: while the cup of blessing may and
often does run over, I doubt if the cup of suffering is ever more
than filled to the brim.

"Onything fresh, mem?" he asked, with the image of Mrs Stewart
standing ghastly on the slopes of his imagination.

"I wadna be fit to tell ye, laddie, gien 't warna, as ye ken, 'at
the Almichty 's been unco mercifu' to me i' the maitter o' feelin's.
Yer freen's i' the Seaton, an' ower at Scaurnose, hae feelin's,
an' that 's hoo nane o' them a' has pluck it up hert to tell ye o'
the waggin' o' slanderous tongues against ye."

"What are they sayin' noo?" asked Malcolm with considerable

"Naither mair nor less than that ye 're the father o' an oonborn
wean," answered Miss Horn.

"I dinna freely unnerstan' ye," returned Malcolm, for the unexpectedness
of the disclosure was scarcely to be mastered at once.

I shall not put on record the plain form of honest speech whereby
she made him at once comprehend the nature of the calumny. He
started to his feet, and shouted "Wha daur say that?" so loud that
the listening Jean almost fell down the stair.

"Wha sud say 't but the lassie hersel'?" answered Miss Horn simply.
"She maun hae the best richt to say wha's wha."

"It wad better become anybody but her," said Malcolm.

"What mean ye there, laddie?" cried Miss Horn, alarmed.

"'At nane cud ken sae weel 's hersel' it was a damned lee. Wha is

"Wha but Meg Partan's Lizzy!"

"Puir lassie! is that it? - Eh, but I'm sorry for her! She never
said it was me. An' whaever said it, surely ye dinna believe 't o'
me, mem?"

"Me believe 't! Malcolm MacPhail, wull ye daur insult a maiden
wuman 'at's stude clear o' reproch till she's lang past the danger
o' 't? It's been wi' unco sma' diffeeclety, I maun alloo, for I
haena been led into ony temptation!"

"Eh, mem!" returned Malcolm, perceiving by the flash of her eyes
and the sudden halt of her speech that she was really indignant -
"I dinna ken what I hae said to anger ye!"

"Anger me! quo' he? What though I hae nae feelin's! Will he daur till
imaigine 'at he wad be sittin' there, an' me haudin' him company,
gien I believed him cawpable o' turnin' oot sic a meeserable,
contemptible wratch! The Lord come atween me an' my wrath!"

"I beg yer pardon, mem. A body canna aye put things thegither afore
he speyks. I 'm richt sair obleeged till ye for takin' my pairt."

"I tak naebody's pairt but my ain, laddie. Obleeged to me for
haein' a wheen common sense - a thing 'at I was born wi'! Toots!
Dinna haiver."

"Weel, mem, what wad ye hae me du? I canna sen' my auld daddie
roon the toon wi' his pipes, to procleem 'at I'm no the man. I 'm
thinkin' I 'll hae to lea' the place."

"Wad ye sen' yer daddy roun' wi' the pipes to say 'at ye was the
man? Ye micht as weel du the tane as the tither. Mony a better man
has been waur misca'd, an' gart fowk forget that ever the lee was
lee'd. Na, na; never rim frae a lee. An' never say, naither, 'at
ye didna du the thing, 'cept it be laid straucht to yer face. Lat
a lee lie i' the dirt. Gien ye pike it up, the dirt 'll stick till
ye, though ye fling the lee ower the dyke at the warl's en'. Na,
na! Lat a lee lie, as ye wad the deevil's tail 'at the laird's Jock
took aff wi' the edge o' 's spaud."

"A' thing 's agane me the noo!" sighed Malcolm.

"Auld Jobb ower again!" returned Miss Horn almost sarcastically.
"The deil had the warst o' 't though, an' wull hae, i' the lang
hinner en'. Meanwhile ye maun face him. There's nae airmour for
the back aither i' the Bible or i' the Pilgrim's Progress."

"What wad ye hae me du, than, mem?"

"Du? Wha said ye was to du onything? The best duin whiles is to bide
still. Lat ye the jaw (wave) gae ower ohn joukit (without ducking)."

"Gien I binna to du onything, I maist wiss I hadna kent," said
Malcolm, whose honourable nature writhed under the imputed vileness.

"It's aye better to ken in what licht ye stan' wi' ither fowk.
It hauds ye ohn lippent ower muckle, an' sae dune things or made
remarks 'at wad be misread till ye. Ye maun haud an open ro'd, 'at
the trowth whan it comes oot may have free course. The ae thing
'at spites me is, 'at the verra fowk 'at was the first to spread
yer ill report, 'ill be the first to wuss ye weel whan the trowth's
kent - ay, an they 'll persuaud their verra sel's 'at they stuck
up for ye like born brithers."

"There maun be some jeedgement upo' leein'!"

"The warst wuss I hae agane ony sic back biter is that he may live
to be affrontit at himsel'. Efter that he'll be guid eneuch company
for me. Gang yer wa's, laddie; say yer prayers, an' haud up yer
heid. Wha wadna raither be accused o' a' the sins o' the comman'ments
nor be guilty o' ane o' them?"

Malcolm did hold up his head as he walked away.

Not a single person was in the street Far below, the sea was chafing
and tossing - grey green broken into white. The horizon was formless
with mist, hanging like thin wool from the heavens down to the face
of the waters, against which the wind, which had shifted round
considerably towards the north, and blew in quicker coming and
more menacing gusts, appeared powerless. He would have gone to the
sands and paced the shore till nightfall, but that he would not
expose himself thus to unfriendly eyes and false judgments. He
turned to the right instead, and walked along the top of the cliffs
eastward. Buffeted by winds without and hurrying fancies within, he
wandered on until he came near Colonsay Castle, at sight of which
the desire awoke in him to look again on the scene of Lady Florimel's
terror. He crossed the head of the little bay and descended into
the heart of the rock. Even there the wind blew dank and howling
through all the cavernous hollows. As he approached the last chamber,
out of the Devil's Window flew, with clanging wing, an arrow barbed
seagull, down to the grey veiled tumult below, and the joy of life
for a moment seized his soul. But the next, the dismay of that
which is forsaken was upon him. It was not that the once lordly
structure lay abandoned to the birds and the gusts, but that she would
never think of the place without an instant assay at forgetfulness.
He turned and reascended, feeling like a ghost that had been
wandering through the forlorn chambers of an empty skull.

When he rose on the bare top of the ruin, a heavy shower from the
sea was beating slant against the worn walls and gaping clefts.
Myriads of such rains had, with age long inevitableness, crumbled
away the strong fortress till its threatful mass had sunk to an abject
heap. Thus all devouring Death - nay, nay! it is all sheltering,
all restoring mother Nature, receiving again into her mighty matrix
the stuff worn out in the fashioning toil of her wasteful, greedy,
and slatternly children. In her genial bosom, the exhausted gathers
life, the effete becomes generant, the disintegrate returns to
resting and capable form. The rolling oscillating globe dips it
for an aeon in growing sea, lifts it from the sinking waters of its
thousand year bath to the furnace of the sun, remodels and remoulds,
turns ashes into flowers, and divides mephitis into diamonds and
breath. The races of men shift and hover like shadows over her
surface, while, as a woman dries her garment before the household
flame, she turns it, by portions, now to and now from the sun heart
of fire. Oh joy that all the hideous lacerations and vile gatherings
of refuse which the worshippers of mammon disfigure the earth withal,
scoring the tale of their coming dismay on the visage of their
mother, shall one day lie fathoms deep under the blessed ocean,
to be cleansed and remade into holy because lovely forms! May the
ghosts of the men who mar the earth, turning her sweet rivers into
channels of filth, and her living air into irrespirable vapours
and pestilences, haunt the desolations they have made, until they
loathe the work of their hands, and turn from themselves with a
divine repudiation.

It was about half tide, and the sea coming up, with the wind straight
from the north, when Malcolm, having descended to the shore of
the little bay, and scrambled out upon the rocks, bethought him of
a certain cave which he had not visited since he was a child, and
climbing over the high rocks between, took shelter there from the
wind. He had forgotten how beautiful it was, and stood amazed at
the richness of its colour, imagining he had come upon a cave of
the serpentine marble which is found on the coast; for sides and
roof and rugged floor were gorgeous with bands and spots and veins
of green, and rusty red. A nearer inspection, however, showed that
these hues were not of the rock itself but belonged to the garden
of the ocean, and when he turned to face the sea, lo! they had
all but vanished, the cave shone silvery gray, with a faint moony
sparkle, and out came the lovely carving of the rodent waves. All
about, its sides were fretted in exquisite curves, and fantastic
yet ever graceful knots and twists; as if a mass of gnarled and
contorted roots, first washed of every roughness by some ethereal
solvent, leaving only the soft lines of yet grotesque volutions,
had been transformed into mingled silver and stone. Like a soldier
crab that had found a shell to his mind, he gazed through the
yawning mouth of the cavern at the turmoil of the rising tide, as
it rushed straight towards him through a low jagged channel in the
rocks. But straight with the tide came the wind, blowing right into
the cave; and finding it keener than pleasant, he turned and went
farther in. After a steep ascent some little way, the cavern took
a sharp turn to one side, where not a breath of wind, not a glimmer
of light, reached, and there he sat down upon a stone, and fell a

He must face the lie out, and he must accept any mother God had
given him: but with such a mother as Mrs Stewart, and without Mr
Graham, how was he to endure the altered looks of his old friends?
Faces indifferent before, had grown suddenly dear to him; and
opinions he would have thought valueless once, had become golden in
his eyes. Had he been such as to deserve their reproaches, he would
doubtless have steeled himself to despise them; but his innocence
bound him to the very people who judged him guilty. And there was
that awful certainty slowly but steadily drawing nearer - that
period of vacant anguish, in which Lady Florimel must vanish from
his sight, and the splendour of his life go with her, to return no

But not even yet did he cherish any fancy of coming nearer to
her than the idea of absolute service authorized. As often as the
fancy had, compelled by the lady herself, crossed the horizon of
his thoughts, a repellent influence from the same source had been
at hand to sweep it afar into its antenatal chaos. But his love
rose ever from the earth to which the blow had hurled it, purified
again, once more all devotion and no desire, careless of recognition
beyond the acceptance of its offered service, and content that
the be all should be the end all.

The cave seemed the friendliest place he had yet found. Earth herself
had received him into her dark bosom, where no eye could discover
him, and no voice reach him but that of the ocean, as it tossed
and wallowed in the palm of God's hand. He heard its roar on the
rocks around him; and the air was filled with a loud noise of broken
waters, while every now and then the wind rushed with a howl into
the cave, as if searching for him in its crannies; the wild raving
soothed him, and he felt as if he would gladly sit there, in the dark
torn with tumultuous noises, until his fate had unfolded itself.

The noises thickened around him as the tide rose; but so gradually
that, although at length he could not have heard his own voice, he
was unaware of the magnitude to which the mighty uproar had enlarged
itself. Suddenly, something smote the rock as with the hammer of
Thor, and, as suddenly, the air around him grew stifling hot. The
next moment it was again cold. He started to his feet in wonder,
and sought the light. As he turned the angle, the receding back of
a huge green foam spotted wave, still almost touching the roof of
the cavern, was sweeping out again into the tumult. It had filled
the throat of it, and so compressed the air within by the force
of its entrance, as to drive out for the moment a large portion of
its latent heat. Looking then at his watch, Malcolm judged it must
be about high tide: brooding in the darkness, he had allowed the
moments to lapse unheeded, and it was now impossible to leave the
cavern until the tide had fallen. He returned into its penetral, and
sitting down with the patience of a fisherman, again lost himself
in reverie.

The darkness kept him from perceiving how the day went, and the
rapidly increasing roar of the wind made the diminishing sound
of the tide's retreat less noticeable. He thought afterwards that
perhaps he had fallen asleep; anyhow, when at length he looked out,
the waves were gone from the rock, and the darkness was broken only
by the distant gleam of their white defeat. The wind was blowing
a hurricane, and even for his practised foot, it was not easy to
surmount the high, abrupt spines he must cross to regain the shore.
It was so dark that he could see nothing of the castle, though it
was but a few yards from him; and he resolved therefore, the path
along the top of the cliffs being unsafe, to make his way across
the fields, and return by the high road. The consequence was,
that, what with fences and ditches, the violence of the wind, and
uncertainty about his direction, it was so long before he felt the
hard road under his feet that with good reason he feared the house
would be closed for the night ere he reached it.


When he came within sight of it, however, he perceived, by the
hurried movement of lights, that instead of being folded in silence,
the house was in unwonted commotion. As he hastened to the south
door, the prince of the power of the air himself seemed to resist
his entrance, so fiercely did the wind, eddying round the building,
dispute every step he made towards it; and when at length he reached
and opened it, a blast, rushing up the glen straight from the sea,
burst wide the opposite one, and roared through the hall like a
torrent. Lady Florimel, flitting across it at the moment, was almost
blown down, and shrieked aloud for help. Malcolm was already at the
north door, exerting all his strength to close it, when she spied
him, and, bounding to him, with white face and dilated eyes,
exclaimed - "Oh Malcolm! what a time you have been!"

"What's wrang, my leddy?" cried Malcolm with respondent terror.

"Don't you hear it?" she answered. "The wind is blowing the house
down. There's just been a terrible fall, and every moment I hear
it going. If my father were only come! We shall be all blown into
the burn."

"Nae fear o' that, my leddy!" returned Malcolm. "The wa's o' the
auld carcass are 'maist live rock, an' 'ill stan' the warst win'
'at ever blew - this side o' the tropics, ony gait. Gien 't war
ance to get its nose in, I wadna say but it micht tirr (strip) the
rufe, but it winna blaw 's intil the burn, my leddy. I'll jist gang
and see what's the mischeef."

He was moving away, but Lady Florimel stopped him. "No, no,
Malcolm!" she said. "It's very silly of me, I dare say; but I've
been so frightened. They're such a set of geese - Mrs Courthope,
and the butler, and all of them! Don't leave me, please."

"I maun gang and see what's amiss, my leddy," answered Malcolm;
"but ye can come wi' me gien ye like. What's fa'en, div ye think?"

"Nobody knows. It fell with a noise like thunder, and shook the
whole house."

"It's far ower dark to see onything frae the ootside," rejoined
Malcolm, "at least afore the mune's up. It's as dark's pick. But I
can sune saitisfee mysel' whether the deil 's i' the hoose or no."

He took a candle from the hall table, and went up the square
staircase, followed by Florimel.

"What w'y is 't, my leddy, 'at the hoose is no lockit up, an' ilka
body i' their beds?" he asked.

"My father is coming home tonight. Didn't you know? But I should
have thought a storm like this enough to account for people not
being in bed!"

"It's a fearfu' nicht for him to be sae far frae his! Whaur's he
comin' frae! Ye never speyk to me noo, my leddy, an' naebody tell't

"He was to come from Fochabers tonight. Stoat took the bay mare to
meet him yesterday."

"He wad never start in sic a win'! It's fit to blaw the saiddle
aff o' the mear's back."

"He may have started before it came on to blow like this," said
Lady Florimel.

Malcolm liked the suggestion the less because of its probability,
believing, in that case, he should have arrived long ago. But he
took care not to increase Florimel's alarm.

By this time Malcolm knew the whole of the accessible inside of the
roof well - better far than any one else about the house. From one
part to another, over the whole of it, he now led Lady Florimel.
In the big shadowed glimmer of his one candle, all parts of the
garret seemed to him frowning with knitted brows over resentful
memories - as if the phantom forms of all the past joys and self
renewing sorrows, all the sins and wrongs, all the disappointments
and failures of the house, had floated up, generation after
generation, into that abode of helpless brooding, and there hung
hovering above the fast fleeting life below, which now, in its turn,
was ever sending up like fumes from heart and brain, to crowd the
dim, dreary, larva haunted, dream wallowing chaos of half obliterated
thought and feeling. To Florimel it looked a dread waste, a
region deserted and forgotten, mysterious with far reaching nooks
of darkness, and now awful with the wind raving and howling over
slates and leads so close to them on all sides, - as if a flying
army of demons were tearing at the roof to get in and find covert
from pursuit.

At length they approached Malcolm's own quarters, where they would
have to pass the very door of the wizard's chamber to reach a short
ladder-like stair that led up into the midst of naked rafters, when,
coming upon a small storm window near the end of a long passage,
Lady Florimel stopped and peeped out.

"The moon is rising," she said, and stood looking.

Malcolm glanced over her shoulder. Eastward a dim light shone
up from behind the crest of a low hill. Great part of the sky was
clear, but huge masses of broken cloud went sweeping across the
heavens. The wind had moderated.

"Aren't we somewhere near your friend the wizard?" said Lady
Florimel, with a slight tremble in the tone of mockery with which
she spoke.

Malcolm answered as if he were not quite certain.

"Isn't your own room somewhere hereabouts?" asked the girl sharply.

"We'll jist gang till ae ither queer place," observed Malcolm,
pretending not to have heard her, "and gien the rufe be a' richt
there, I s' no bather my heid mair aboot it till the mornin'. It's
but a feow steps farther, an' syne a bit stair."

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