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"And how would you live yourself?"

"Ow! lea' ye that to me, my lord. Only dinna imaigine I wad be
behauden to yer lordship. I houp I hae mair pride nor that. Ilka
poun' not', shillin', an' baubee sud be laid oot for her, an' what
was left hainet (saved) for her."

"By Jove! it's a daring proposal!" said the marquis; and, which
seemed strange to Malcolm, not a single thread of ridicule ran
through the tone in which he made the remark.

The next day came, but brought neither strength of body nor of mind
with it. Again his professional attendants besought him, and he heard
them more quietly, but rejected their proposition as positively as
before. In a day or two he ceased to oppose it, but would not hear
of preparation. Hour glided into hour, and days had gathered to a
week, when they assailed him with a solemn and last appeal.

"Nonsense!" answered the marquis. "My leg is getting better. I
feel no pain - in fact nothing but a little faintness. Your damned
medicines, I haven't a doubt."

"You are in the greatest danger, my lord. It is all but too late
even now."

"Tomorrow, then - if it must be. Today I could not endure to have
my hair cut - positively; and as to having my leg off, - pooh!
the thing's preposterous!"

He turned white and shuddered, for all the nonchalance of his

When tomorrow came, there was not a surgeon in the land who would
have taken his leg off. He looked in their faces, and seemed for
the first time convinced of the necessity of the measure.

"You may do as you please," he said. "I am ready."

"Not today, my lord," replied the doctor. "Your lordship is not
equal to it today."

"I understand," said the marquis, paled frightfully, and turned
his head aside.

When Mrs Courthope suggested that Lady Florimel should be sent
for, he flew into a frightful rage, and spoke as it is to be hoped
he had never spoken to a woman before. She took it with perfect
gentleness, but could not repress a tear. The marquis saw it, and
his heart was touched.

"You mustn't mind a dying man's temper," he said.

"It's not for myself, my lord," she answered.

"I know: you think I 'm not fit to die; and, damn it! you are right.
Never one was less fit for heaven, or less willing to go to hell."

"Wouldn't you like to see a clergyman, my lord?" she suggested,

He was on the point of breaking out in a still worse passion, but
controlled himself.

"A clergyman!" he cried; "I would as soon see the undertaker. What
could he do but tell me I was going to be damned - a fact I know
better than he can? That is, if it 's not all an invention of the
cloth, as, in my soul, I believe it is! I 've said so any time this
forty years."

"Oh, my lord, my lord! do not fling away your last hope."

"You imagine me to have a chance then? Good soul! You don't know

"The Lord is merciful."

The marquis laughed - that is, he tried, failed, and grinned.

"Mr Cairns is in the dining room, my lord."

"Bah! A low pettifogger, with the soul of a bullock! Don't let me
hear the fellow's name. I 've been bad enough, God knows! but I
haven't sunk to the level of his help yet. If he 's God Almighty's
factor, and the saw holds - 'Like master, like man!' well, I would
rather have nothing to do with either."

"That is, if you had the choice, my lord," said Mrs Courthope, her
temper yielding a little, though in truth his speech was not half
so irreverent as it seemed to her.

"Tell him to go to hell. No, don't: set him down to a bottle of port
and a great sponge cake and you needn't tell him to go to heaven,
for he 'll be there already. Why, Mrs Courthope, the fellow isn't
a gentleman! And yet all he cares for the cloth is, that he thinks
it makes a gentleman of him - as if anything in heaven, earth, or
hell could work that miracle!"

In the middle of the night, as Malcolm sat by his bed, thinking
him asleep, the marquis spoke suddenly.

"You must go to Aberdeen tomorrow, Malcolm," he said.

"Verra weel, my lord."

"And bring Mr Glennie, the lawyer, back with you."

"Yes, my lord."

"Go to bed then."

"I wad raither bide, my lord. I cudna sleep a wink for wantin' to
be back aside ye."

The marquis yielded, and Malcolm sat by him all the night through.
He tossed about, would doze off and murmur strangely, then wake
up and ask for brandy and water, yet be content with the lemonade
Malcolm gave him.

Next day he quarrelled with every word Mrs Courthope uttered, kept
forgetting he had sent Malcolm away, and was continually wanting
him. His fits of pain were more severe, alternated with drowsiness,
which deepened at times to stupor.

It was late before Malcolm returned. He went instantly to his

"Is Mr Glennie with you?" asked his master feebly.

"Yes, my lord."

"Tell him to come here at once."

When Malcolm returned with the lawyer, the marquis directed him
to set a table and chair by the bedside, light four candles, get
everything necessary for writing, and go to bed.


Before Malcolm was awake, his lordship had sent for him. When he
re-entered the sick chamber, Mr Glennie had vanished, the table
had been removed, and instead of the radiance of the wax lights,
the cold gleam of a vapour dimmed sun, with its sickly blue white
reflex from the wide spread snow, filled the room. The marquis
looked ghastly, but was sipping chocolate with a spoon.

"What w'y are ye the day, my lord?" asked Malcolm.

"Nearly well," he answered; "but those cursed carrion crows are
set upon killing me - damn their souls!"

"We'll hae Leddy Florimel sweirin' awfu', gien ye gang on that
gait, my lord," said Malcolm.

The marquis laughed feebly.

"An' what 's mair," Malcolm continued, "I doobt they 're some
partic'lar aboot the turn o' their phrases up yonner, my lord."

The marquis looked at him keenly.

"You don't anticipate that inconvenience for me?" he said. "I 'm
pretty sure to have my billet where they 're not so precise."

"Dinna brak my hert, my lord!" cried Malcolm, the tears rushing to
his eyes.

"I should be sorry to hurt you, Malcolm," rejoined the marquis gently,
almost tenderly. "I won't go there if I can help it. I should n't
like to break any more hearts. But how the devil am I to keep out
of it? Besides, there are people up there I don't want to meet; I
have no fancy for being made ashamed of myself. The fact is I 'm
not fit for such company, and I don't believe there is any such
place. But if there be, I trust in God there isn't any other, or it
will go badly with your poor master, Malcolm. It doesn't look like
true - now does it? Only such a multitude of things I thought I
had done with for ever, keep coming up and grinning at me! It nearly
drives me mad, Malcolm - and I would fain die like a gentleman,
with a cool bow and a sharp face about."

"Wadna ye hae a word wi' somebody 'at kens, my lord?" said Malcolm,
scarcely able to reply.

"No," answered the marquis fiercely. "That Cairns is a fool."

"He's a' that an' mair, my lord. I didna mean him."

"They 're all fools together.'

"Ow, na, my lord! There 's a heap o' them no muckle better, it may
be; but there 's guid men an' true amang them, or the kirk wad hae
been wi' Sodom and Gomorrha by this time. But it 's no a minister
I wad hae yer lordship confar wi'."

"Who then? Mrs Courthope? Eh?"

"Ow na, my lord - no Mistress Coorthoup! She 's a guid body, but
she wadna believe her ain een gien onybody ca'd a minister said
contrar' to them."

"Who the devil do you mean then?"

"Nae deevil, but an honest man 'at 's been his warst enemy sae lang
's I hae kent him: Maister Graham, the schuilmaister."

"Pooh!" said the marquis with a puff. "I'm too old to go to school."

"I dinna ken the man 'at isna a bairn till him, my lord."

"In Greek and Latin?"

"I' richteousness an' trouth, my lord; in what's been an' what is
to be."

"What! has he the second sicht, like the piper?"

"He has the second sicht, my lord - but ane 'at gangs a sicht
farther than my auld daddy's."

"He could tell me then what's going to become of me?'

"As weel 's ony man, my lord."

"That 's not saying much, I fear."

"Maybe mair nor ye think, my lord."

"Well, take him my compliments, and tell him I should like to see
him," said the marquis, after a pause.

"He 'll come direckly, my lord."

"Of course he will!" said the marquis.

"Jist as readily, my lord, as he wad gang to ony tramp 'at sent
for 'im at sic a time," returned Malcolm, who did not relish either
the remark or its tone.

"What do you mean by that? You don't think it such a serious affair
- do you?"

"My lord, ye haena a chance."

The marquis was dumb. He had actually begun once more to buoy
himself up with earthly hopes.

Dreading a recall of his commission, Malcolm slipped from the room,
sent Mrs Courthope to take his place, and sped to the schoolmaster.
The moment Mr Graham heard the marquis's message, he rose without
a word, and led the way from the cottage. Hardly a sentence passed
between them as they went, for they were on a solemn errand.

"Mr Graham 's here, my lord," said Malcolm.

"Where? Not in the room?" returned the marquis.

"Waitin' at the door, my lord."

"Bah! You needn't have been so ready. Have you told the sexton to
get a new spade? But you may let him in. And leave him alone with

Mr Graham walked gently up to the bedside.

"Sit down, sir," said the marquis courteously - pleased with the
calm, self possessed, unobtrusive bearing of the man. "They tell
me I 'm dying, Mr Graham."

"I 'm sorry it seems to trouble you, my lord."

"What! wouldn't it trouble you then?"

"I don't think so, my lord."

"Ah! you're one of the elect, no doubt?"

"That's a thing I never did think about, my lord."

"What do you think about then?"

"About God."

"And when you die you 'll go straight to heaven of course - "

"I don't know, my lord. That 's another thing I never trouble my
head about."

"Ah! you 're like me then! I don't care much about going to heaven!
What do you care about?"

"The will of God. I hope your lordship will say the same."

"No I won't. I want my own will."

"Well, that is to be had, my lord."


"By taking his for yours, as the better of the two, which it must
be every way."

"That's all moonshine."

"It is light, my lord."

"Well, I don't mind confessing, if I am to die, I should prefer
heaven to the other place; but I trust I have no chance of either.
Do you now honestly believe there are two such places?"

"I don't know, my lord."

"You don't know! And you come here to comfort a dying man!"

"Your lordship must first tell me what you mean by 'two such places.'
And as to comfort, going by my notions, I cannot tell which you
would be more or less comfortable in; and that, I presume, would
be the main point with your lordship."

"And what, pray, sir, would be the main point with you?"

"To get nearer to God."

"Well - I can't say I want to get nearer to God. It 's little he
's ever done for me."

"It's a good deal he has tried to do for you, my lord."

"Well, who interfered? Who stood in his way, then?"

"Yourself, my lord."

"I wasn't aware of it. When did he ever try to do anything for me,
and I stood in his way?"

"When he gave you one of the loveliest of women, my lord," said Mr
Graham, with solemn, faltering voice, "and you left her to die in
neglect, and the child to be brought up by strangers."

The marquis gave a cry. The unexpected answer had roused the slowly
gnawing death, and made it bite deeper.

"What have you to do," he almost screamed, "with my affairs? It
was for me to introduce what I chose of them. You presume."

"Pardon me, my lord: you led me to what I was bound to say. Shall
I leave you, my lord?"

The marquis made no answer.

"God knows I loved her," he said after a while, with a sigh.

"You loved her, my lord!"

"I did, by God!"

"Love a woman like that, and come to this?"

"Come to this! We must all come to this, I fancy, sooner or later.
Come to what, in the name of Beelzebub?"

"That, having loved a woman like her, you are content to lose her.
In the name of God, have you no desire to see her again?"

"It would be an awkward meeting," said the marquis. His was an old
love, alas! He had not been capable of the sort that defies change.
It had faded from him until it seemed one of the things that are
not! Although his being had once glowed in its light, he could now
speak of a meeting as awkward!

"Because you wronged her?" suggested the schoolmaster.

"Because they lied to me, by God!"

"Which they dared not have done, had you not lied to them first."

"Sir!" shouted the marquis, with all the voice he had left. "O God,
have mercy! I cannot punish the scoundrel."

"The scoundrel is the man who lies, my lord."

"Were I anywhere else - "

"There would be no good in telling you the truth, my lord. You
showed her to the world as a woman over whom you had prevailed,
and not as the honest wife she was. What kind of a lie was that,
my lord? Not a white one, surely?"

"You are a damned coward to speak so to a man who cannot even turn
on his side to curse you for a base hound. You would not dare it
but that you know I cannot defend myself."

"You are right, my lord; your conduct is indefensible."

"By heaven! if I could but get this cursed leg under me, I would
throw you out of the window."

"I shall go by the door, my lord. While you hold by your sins, your
sins will hold by you. If you should want me again, I shall be at
your lordship's command."

He rose and left the room, but had not reached his cottage before
Malcolm overtook him, with a second message from his master. He
turned at once, saying only, "I expected it."

"Mr Graham," said the marquis, looking ghastly, "you must have
patience with a dying man. I was very rude to you, but I was in
horrible pain."

"Don't mention it, my lord. It would be a poor friendship that gave
way for a rough word."

"How can you call yourself my friend?"

"I should be your friend, my lord, if it were only for your wife's
sake. She died loving you. I want to send you to her, my lord. You
will allow that, as a gentleman, you at least owe her an apology."

"By Jove, you are right, sir! Then you really and positively believe
in the place they call heaven?"

"My lord, I believe that those who open their hearts to the truth,
shall see the light on their friends' faces again, and be able to
set right what was wrong between them."

"It's a week too late to talk of setting right!"

"Go and tell her you are sorry, my lord, - that will be enough to

"Ah! but there's more than her concerned."

"You are right, my lord. There is another - one who cannot
be satisfied that the fairest works of his hands, or rather the
loveliest children of his heart, should be treated as you have
treated women."

"But the Deity you talk of - "

"I beg your pardon, my lord: I talked of no deity; I talked of
a living Love that gave us birth and calls us his children. Your
deity I know nothing of."

"Call him what you please: he won't be put off so easily!"

"He won't be put off one jot or one tittle. He will forgive anything,
but he will pass nothing. Will your wife forgive you?"

"She will - when I explain."

"Then why should you think the forgiveness of God, which created
her forgiveness, should be less?"

Whether the marquis could grasp the reasoning, may be doubtful.

"Do you really suppose God cares whether a man comes to good or

"If he did not, he could not be good himself."

"Then you don't think a good God would care to punish poor wretches
like us?"

"Your lordship has not been in the habit of regarding himself as
a poor wretch. And, remember, you can't call a child a poor wretch
without insulting the father of it."

"That's quite another thing."

"But on the wrong side for your argument - seeing the relation
between God and the poorest creature is infinitely closer than that
between any father and his child."

"Then he can't be so hard on him as the parsons say."

"He will give him absolute justice, which is the only good thing.
He will spare nothing to bring his children back to himself -
their sole well being. What would you do, my lord, if you saw your
son strike a woman?"

"Knock him down and horsewhip him."

It was Mr Graham who broke the silence that followed.

"Are you satisfied with yourself, my lord?"

"No, by God!"

"You would like to be better?"

"I would."

"Then you are of the same mind with God."

"Yes but I'm not a fool! It won't do to say I should like to be:
I must be it, and that's not so easy. It's damned hard to be good.
I would have a fight for it, but there's no time. How is a poor
devil to get out of such an infernal scrape?"

"Keep the commandments."

"That's it, of course; but there's no time, I tell you - at least
so those cursed doctors will keep telling me."

"If there were but time to draw another breath, there would be time
to begin."

"How am I to begin? Which am I to begin with?"

"There is one commandment which includes all the rest."

"Which is that?"

"To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."

"That's cant."

"After thirty years' trial of it, it is to me the essence of
wisdom. It has given me a peace which makes life or death all but
indifferent to me, though I would choose the latter."

"What am I to believe about him then?"

"You are to believe in him, not about him."

"I don't understand."

"He is our Lord and Master, Elder Brother, King, Saviour, the
divine Man, the human God: to believe in him is to give ourselves
up to him in obedience, to search out his will and do it."

"But there's no time, I tell you again," the marquis almost shrieked.

"And I tell you, there is all eternity to do it in. Take him for
your master, and he will demand nothing of you which you are not able
to perform. This is the open door to bliss. With your last breath
you can cry to him, and he will hear you, as he heard the thief
on the cross who cried to him dying beside him. 'Lord, remember me
when thou comest into thy kingdom.' 'Today shalt thou be with me
in paradise.' It makes my heart swell to think of it, my lord! No
cross questioning of the poor fellow! No preaching to him! He just
took him with him where he was going, to make a man of him."

"Well, you know something of my history: what would you have me do
now? At once, I mean. What would the person you speak of have me

"That is not for me to say, my lord."

"You could give me a hint."

"No. God is telling you himself. For me to presume to tell you,
would be to interfere with him. What he would have a man do, he
lets him know in his mind."

"But what if I had not made up my mind before the last came?"

"Then I fear he would say to you - 'Depart from me, thou worker
of iniquity.'"

"That would be hard when another minute might have done it."

"If another minute would have done it, you would have had it."

A paroxysm of pain followed, during which Mr Graham silently left


When the fit was over, and he found Mr Graham was gone, he asked
Malcolm, who had resumed his watch, how long it would take Lady
Florimel to come from Edinburgh.

"Mr Crathie left wi' fower horses frae the Lossie Airms last nicht,
my lord," said Malcolm; "but the ro'ds are ill, an' she winna be
here afore sometime the morn."

The marquis stared aghast: they had sent for her without his orders.

"What shall I do?" he murmured. "If once I look in her eyes, I
shall be damned. Malcolm!"

"Yes, my lord!"

"Is there a lawyer in Portlossie?"

"Yes, my lord; there 's auld Maister Carmichael."

"He won't do! He was my brother's rascal. Is there no one besides?"

"No in Portlossie, my lord. There can be nane nearer than Duff
Harbour, I doobt."

"Take the chariot and bring him here directly. Tell them to put
four horses to. Stokes can ride one."

"I'll ride the ither, my lord."

"You'll do nothing of the kind: you're not used to the pole."

"I can tak the leader, my lord."

"I tell you you're to do nothing of the kind!" cried the marquis
angrily. "You're to ride inside, and bring Mr - what's his name?
back with you."

"Soutar, my lord, gien ye please."

"Be off, then. Don't wait to feed. The brutes have been eating all
day, and they can eat all night. You must have him here in an hour."

In an hour and a quarter, Miss Horn's friend stood by the marquis's
bedside. Malcolm was dismissed, but was presently summoned again
to receive more orders.

Fresh horses were put to the chariot, and he had to set out once
more - this time to fetch a justice of the peace, a neighbour
laird. The distance was greater than to Duff Harbour; the roads
were worse; the north wind, rising as they went, blew against them
as they returned, increasing to a violent gale; and it was late
before they reached Lossie House.

When Malcolm entered, he found the marquis alone.

"Is Morrison here at last?" he cried in a feeble, irritated voice.

"Yes, my lord."

"What the devil kept you so long? The bay mare would have carried
me there and back in an hour and a half."

"The roads war verra heavy, my lord. An' jist hear till the win'!"

The marquis listened a moment, and a frightened expression grew
over his thin, pale, anxious face.

"You don't know what depends on it," he said, "or you would have
driven better. Where is Mr Soutar?"

"I dinna ken, my lord. I'm only jist come, an' I've seen naebody."

"Go and tell Mrs Courthope I want Soutar. You'll find her crying
somewhere - the old chicken! because I swore at her. What harm
could that do the old goose?"

"It'll be mair for love o' yer lordship than fricht at the sweirin',
my lord."

"You think so? Why should she care? Go and tell her I'm sorry.
But really she ought to be used to me by this time! Tell her to
send Soutar directly."

Mr Soutar was not to be found, the fact being that he had gone to
see Miss Horn. The marquis flew into an awful rage, and began to
curse and swear frightfully.

"My lord! my lord!" said Malcolm, "for God's sake, dinna gang on
that gait. He canna like to hear that kin' o' speech - an' frae
ane o' his ain tu!"

The marquis stopped, aghast at his presumption, and choking with
rage; but Malcolm's eyes filled with tears, and instead of breaking
out again, his master turned his head away and was silent.

Mr Soutar came.

"Fetch Morrison," said the marquis, "and go to bed."

The wind howled terribly as Malcolm ascended the stairs and half
felt his way, for he had no candle, through the long passages leading
to his room. As he entered the last, a huge vague form came down
upon him, like a deeper darkness through the dark. Instinctively
he stepped aside. It passed noiselessly, with a long stride, and
not even a rustle of its garments - at least Malcolm heard nothing
but the roar of the wind. He turned and followed it. On and on
it went, down the stair through a corridor, down the great stone
turnpike stair, and through passage after passage. When it came into
the more frequented and half lighted thoroughfares of the house,
it showed as a large figure in a long cloak, indistinct in outline.

It turned a corner close by the marquis's room. But when Malcolm,
close at its heels, turned also, he saw nothing but a vacant lobby,
the doors around which were all shut. One after another he quickly
opened them, all except the marquis's, but nothing was to be seen.
The conclusion was that it had entered the marquis's room. He must
not disturb the conclave in the sick chamber with what might be
but "a false creation, proceeding from the heat oppressed brain,"
and turned back to his own room, where he threw himself on his bed
and fell asleep.

About twelve Mrs Courthope called him: his master was worse, and
wanted to see him.

The midnight was still, for the dark and wind had ceased. But a
hush and a cloud seemed gathering in the stillness and darkness,
and with them came the sense of a solemn celebration, as if the
gloom were canopy as well as pall - black, but bordered and hearted
with purple and gold; and the stillness seemed to tremble as with
the inaudible tones of a great organ, at the close or commencement
of some mighty symphony.

With beating heart he walked softly towards the room where, as on
an altar, lay the vanishing form of his master, like the fuel in
whose dying flame was offered the late and ill nurtured sacrifice
of his spirit.

As he went through the last corridor leading thither, Mrs Catanach,

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