George MacDonald.

Warlock O'Glenwarlock; a homely romance online

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George MacDonald,




Copyright, i88i,
By D. Lothrop & Company.





I — Castle Warlock
2— The Kitchen

3 — The Drawing-room

4 — An Afternoon Sleep
5 — The School .

6 — Grannie's Cottage

7 — Dreams . . •

5 — Home . . .
9 — The Student .

10 — Peter Simon .

11 — The new Schooling

12 — Grannie's Ghost Story
13 — The Storm-Guest .
1 4 — The Castle Inn .
15— That Night .

16 — Through the Day .

17 — That same Night ,












i8 — A Winter Idyl


19 — An " Interlunar Cave " .

" 275

20 — Catch yer Naig


21— The Watchmaker .


22 — That Luminous Night .


23 — At College . . . ' .


24 — A Tutorship . . . .


25 — The Gardener


26 — Lost and Found


27 — A Transformation .


28 — The Story of the Knight who


I the


- 390

29 — New Experience .

. 398

30 — Charles Jermyn, M. D. .


31 — Cosmo and the Doctor


32 — The Naiad

. 417

33 — The Garden-House

. 429

34 — Catch your Horse .

. 438

35— Pull his Tail ...

. 442

36 — The thick Darkness

. 452

37 — The Dawn


38 — The Shadow of Death .

. 475

39 — The Labourer

. 485

40 — The Schoolmaster .

. 502

41 — Grannie and the Stick

. 512

42 — Obstruction .

. 518

43 — Grizzle's Rights

. 523

44 — Another Harvest .

. 538



45 — The final Conflict

V .


46 — A Rest


47 — Help


48 — A common Miracle


49 — Defiance

. 597

50 — Discovery and Confession


51 — It is Naught saith the Buyer


52 — An old Story .


53 — A small Discovery . - .


54 — A greater Discovery


55 — A great Discovery .

. 646

56 — Mr. Burns

. 656

57 — Too Sure comes too late


58 — A little Life well rounded


59 — A Breaking Up

. 673

60 — Repose ...


61 —The third Harvest


62 — A Duet, Trio, and Quartette


Warlock o' Glenwarlock.



A rough, wild glen it was, to which, far back in
times unknown to its annals, the family had given its
name, taking in return no small portion of its history,
and a good deal of the character of its individuals.
It lay in the debatable land between highlands and
lowlands ; most of its inhabitants spoke both Scotch
and Gaelic ; and there was often to be found in them
a notable mingling of the chief characteristics of the
widely differing Celt and Teuton. The country pro-
duced more barley than wheat, more oats than barley,
more heather than oats, more boulders than trees,
and more snow than anything. It was a solitary,
thinly peopled region, mostly of bare hills, and par-
tially cultivated glens, each with its small stream, on
the banks of which grew here and there a silver birch.


a mountain ash, or an alder tree, but with nothing
capable of giving much shade or shelter, save cliffy
banks and big stones. From many a spot you might
look in all directions and not see a sign of human or
any other habitation. Even then however, you might,
to be sure, most likely smell the perfume — to some
nostrils it is nothing less than perfume — of a peat
fire, although you might be long in finding out whence
it came ; for the houses, if indeed the dwellings could
be called houses, were often so hard to be distin-
guished from the ground on which they were built,
that except the smoke of fresh peats were coming
pretty freely from the wide-mouthed chimney, it re-
(jhireci an experienced eye to discover the human
nest. The valleys that opened northward produced
little ; there the snow might some years be seen lying
on patches of oats yet green, destined now only for
fodder ; but where the valley ran east and west, and
any tolerable ground looked to the south, there things
put on a different aspect. There the graceful oats
would wave and rustle in the ripening wind, and in
the small gardens would lurk a few cherished straw-
berries, while potatoes and peas would be tolerably
plentiful in their season.

Upon a natural terrace in such a slope to the south,
stood Castle Warlock. But it turned no smiling face
to the region whence came the warmth and the growth.
A more grim, repellant, unlovely building would be
hard to find ; and yet, from its extreme simplicity, its
utter indifference to its own looks, its repose, its
weight, and its gray historical consciousness, no one
who loved houses would have thought of calling it


Ugly. It was like the hard-featured face of a Scotch
matron, suggesting no end of story, of life, of char-
acter : she holds a defensive if not defiant face to the
world, but within she is warm, tending carefully the
fires of life. Summer and winter the chimneys of
that desolate-looking house smoked ; for though the
country' was inclement, and the people that lived in it
were poor, the great, sullen, almost unhappy-looking
hills held clasped to their bare cold bosoms, exposed
to all the bitterness of freezing winds and summer
hail, the warmth of household centuries : their peat-
bogs were the store-closets and wine-cellars of the
sun, for the hoarded elixir of physical life. And al-
though the walls of the castle, as it was called, were
so thick that in winter they kept the warmth generated
within them from wandering out and being lost on the
awful wastes of homeless hillside and moor, they also
prevented the brief summer heat of the wav-faring sun
from entering with freedom, and hence the fires were
needful in the summer days as well — at least at the
time my stor}' commences, for then, as generally, there
were elderly and aged people in the house, who had
to help their souls to keep their bodies warm.

The house was very old. It had been built for
more kinds of shelter than need to be thought of in
our days. For the enemies of our ancestors were not
only the cold, and the fierce wind, and the rain, and
the snow; they were men also — enemies harder to
keep out than the raging storm or the creeping frost.
Hence the more hospitable a house could be, the less
must it look what it was : it must wear its face
haughty, and turn its smiles inward. The house of


Glenwarlock, as it was also sometimes called, con-
sisted of three massive, narrow, tall blocks of build-
ing, which showed little connection with each other
beyond juxtaposition, two of them standing end to end,
with but a few feet of space between, and the third at
right angles to the two. In the two which stood end
to end, and were originally the principal parts,
hardly any windows were to be seen on the side that
looked out into the valley ; while in the third, which,
though looking much of the same age, was of later
build, were more windows, but none in the lowest
story. Narrow as were these buildings, and four
stories high, they had a solid, ponderous look, suggest-
ing a thickness of the walls such as to leave little of
a hollow within for the indwellers — like great marine
shells for a small mollusk. On the other side was a
kind of a court, completed by the stables and cow-
houses, and towards this court were most of the win-
dows — many of them for size more like those in the
cottages around, than suggestive of a house built by
the lords of the soil. The court was now merely
that of a farmyard.

There must have been at one time outer defences
to the castle, but they were no longer to be distin-
guished by the inexperienced eye ; and indeed the
windowless walls of the house itself seemed strong
enough to repel any attack without artillery — except
indeed the assailants had got into the court. There
were however some signs of the windows there having
been enlarged if not increased at a later period.

In the block that stood angle-wise to the rest, was
the' kitchen, the door of which opened immediately on


the court ; and behind the kitchen, in that part
which had no windows to the valley, was the milk-cel-
lar, as they called the dairy, and places for household
storage. A rough causeway ran along the foot of the
walls, connecting the doors in the different blocks.
Of these, the kitchen door for the most part stood
open : sometimes the snow would be coming fast
down the wide chimney, with little soft hisses in the
fire, and the business of the house going on without
a thought of closing it, though from it you could not
have seen across the yard for the falling flakes.

But when my story opens, the summer held the old
house and the older hills in its embrace. The sun
was pouring torrents of light and heat into the valley,
and the slopes of it were covered with green. The
bees were about, contenting themselves with the flow-
ers, while the heather was getting ready its bloom for
them, and a boy of fourteen was sitting in a little gar-
den that lay like a dropped belt of beauty about the
feet of the grim old walls. This was on the other side
— that to the south, parting the house from the slope
where the corn began — now with the ear half-formed.
The boy sat on a big stone, which once must have
had some part in the house itself, or its defences,
but which he had never known except as a seat for
himself. His back leaned against the hoary wall,
and he was in truth meditating, although he did not
look as if he were. He was already more than an
incipient philosopher, though he could not yet have
put into recognizable shape the thought that was now
passing through his mind. The bees wt:re the pri-
mary but not the main subject of i:. It came thus :


he thought how glad the bees would be when their
crop of heather was ripe ; then he thought how they
preferred the heather to the flowers ; then, that the
one must taste nicer to them than the other ; and last
awoke the question whether their taste of sweet was
the same as his. " For," said he, " if their honey
is sweet to them with the same sweetness with which
it is sweet to me, then there is something in the
make of the bee that's the same with the make of
me ; and perhaps then a man might some day, if
he wanted, try the taste of being a bee all out for
a little while." But to see him, nobody would have
thought he was doing anything but basking in the
sun. The scents of the flowers all about his feet
came and went on the eddies of the air, paying my
lord many a visit in his antechamber, his brain ;
the windy noises of the insects, the watery noises
of the pigeons, the noises from the poultry yard,
the song of the mountain river, visited him also
through the portals of his ears ; but at the moment,
the boy seemed lost in the mere fundamental satis-
faction of existence.

Neither, although broad summer was on the earth,
and all the hill-tops, and as much of the valleys as
their shadows did not hide, were bathed in sunlight,
although the country was his native land, and he
loved it with the love of his country's poets, was
the consciousness of the boy free from a certain
strange kind of trouble connected with, if not re-
sulting from the landscape before him. A Celt
through many of his ancestors, and his mother in
particular, his soul, full of undefined emotion, was


aware of an ever recurring impulse to song, ever
checked and broken, ever thrown back upon itself.
There were a few books in the house, amongst them
certain volumes of verse — a copy of Cowly, whose
notable invocation of Light he had instinctively blun-
dered upon ; one of Milton ; the translated Ossian ;
Thomson's Seasons — with a few more ; and from
the reading of these, among other results, had arisen
this — that, in the midst of his enjoyment of the
world around him, he found himself every now and
then sighing after a lovelier nature than that before
his eyes. There he read of mountains, if not wilder,
yet loftier and more savage than his own, of skies
more glorious, of forests of such trees as he knew
only from one or two old engravings in the house, on
which he looked with a strange, inexplicable reverence :
he would sometimes wake weeping from a dream of
mountains, or of tossing waters. Once with his
waking eyes he saw a mist afar off, between the hills
that ramparted the horizon, grow rosy after the sun
was down, and his heart filled as with the joy of a
new discovery. Around him, it is true, the waters
rushed well from their hills, but their banks had
little beauty. Not merely did the want of trees dis-
tress him, but the nature of their channel ; most of
them, instead of rushing through rocks, cut their
way only through beds of rough gravel, and their bare
surroundings were desolate without grandeur — al-
most mean to eyes that had not yet pierced to the
soul of them. Nor had he yet learned to admire
the lucent brown of the bog waters. There seemed
to be in the boy a strain of some race used to a


richer home ; and yet all the time the frozen regions
of the north drew his fancy tenfold more than Italy
or Egypt.

His name was Cosmo, a name brought from Italy
by one of the line who had sold his sword and fought
for strangers. Not a few of the younger branches of
the family had followed the same evil profession,
and taken foreign pay — chiefly from poverty and
prejudice combined, but not a little in some cases
from the inborn love of fighting that seems to char-
acterize the Celt. The last soldier of them had
served the East India Company both by sea and
land : tradition more than hinted . that he had
chiefly served himself. Since then the heads of the
house had been peaceful farmers of their own land,
contriving to draw what to many farmers nowadays
would seem but a scanty subsistence from an estate
which had dwindled to the twentieth part of what it
had been a few centuries before, though even then
it could never have made its proprietor rich in any-
thing but the devotion of his retainers.

Growing too hot between the sun and the wall,
Cosmo rose, and passing to the other side of the
house beyond the court-yard, and crossing a certain
heave of grass, came upon one unfailing delight in
his lot — a preacher whose voice, inarticulate, it is
true, had, ever since he was born, been at most times
louder in his ear than any other. It was a mountain
stream, which, through a channel of rock, such as
nearly satisfied his most fastidious fancy, went roar-
ing, rushing, and sometimes thundering, with an
arrow-like, foamy swiftness, down to the river in



the glen below. The rocks were very dark, and the
foam stood out brilliant against them. From the hill-
top above, it came, sloping steep from far. When
you looked up, it seemed to come flowing from the
horizon itself, and when you looked down, it seemed
to have suddenly found it could no more return to the
upper regions it had left too high behind it, and in
disgust to shoot headlong to the abyss. There was
not much water in it now, but plenty to make a joy-
ous white rush through the deep-worn brown of the
rock : in the autumn and spring it came down glori-
ously, dark and fierce, as if it sought the very centre,
wild with greed after an absolute rest.

The boy stood and gazed, as was his custom. Al-
ways he would seek this endless water when he grew
weary, when the things about him put on their too
ordinary look. Let the aspect of this be what it
might, it seemed still inspired and sent forth by some
essence of mystery and endless possibility. There
was in him an unusual combination of the power to
read the hieroglyphic internal aspect of things, and
the scientific nature that bows before fact. He knew
that the stream was in its second stage when it rose
from the earth and rushed past the house, that it was
gathered first from the great ocean, through millions
of smallest ducts, up to the reservoirs of the sky,
thence to descend in snows and rains, and wander
down and up through the veins of the earth ; but the
sense of its mystery had not hitherto begun to with-
draw. Happily for him, the poetic nature was not
merely predominant in him, but dominant, sending
Itself, a pervading spirit, through the science that else


would have stifled him. Accepting fact, he found
nothing in its outward relations by which a man can
live, any more than by bread ; but this poetic nature,
illuminating it as with the polarized ray, revealed
therein more life and richer hope. All this was as
yet however as indefinite as it was operative in him,
and I am telling of him what he could not have told
of himself.

He stood gazing now in a different mood from any
that had come to him before : he had begun to find
out something fresh about this same stream, and the
life in his own heart to which it served as a revealing
phantasm. He recognized that what in the stream
had drawn him from earliest childhood, with an infi-
nite pleasure, was the vague sense, for a long time an
ever growing one, of its mystery — the form the
infinite first takes to the simplest and liveliest hearts.
It was because it was always flowing that he loved
it, because it could not stop : whence it came was
utterly unknown to him, and he did not care to know.
And when at length he learned that it came flowing
out of the dark hard earth, the mystery only grew.
He imagined a wondrous cavity below in black rock,
where it gathered and gathered, nobody could think
how — not coming from anywhere else, but beginning
just there, and nowhere beyond. When, later on, he
had to shift its source, and carry it back to the great
sky, it was no less marvellous, and more lovely ; it
was a closer binding together of the gentle earth and
the awful withdrawing heavens. These were a region
of endless hopes, and ever recurrent despairs : that his
beloved, an earthly finite thing, should rise there, was


added joy, and gave a mighty hope with respect to
the unknown and appalling. But from the sky, he
was sent back to the earth in further pursuit ; for,
whence came the rain, his books told him, but from
the sea ? That sea he had read of, though never yet
beheld, and he knew it was magnificent in its might ;
gladly would he have hailed it as an intermediate
betwixt the sky and the earth — so to have the sky
come first ! but, alas ! the ocean came first in order.
And then, worse and worse ! how was the ocean fed
but from his loved torrent ? How was the sky fed
but from the sea ? How was the dark fountain fed
but from the sky ? How was the torrent fed but from
the fountain ? As he sat in the hot garden, with his
back against the old gray wall, the nest of his fami-
ly for countless generations, with the scent of the
flowers in his nostrils, and the sound of the bees in
his ears, it had begun to dawn upon him that he had
lost the stream of his childhood, the mysterious,
infinite idea of endless, inexplicable, original birth,
of outflowing because of essential existence within !
There was no production any more, nothing but a
mere rushing around, like the ring-sea of Saturn, in
a never ending circle of formal change ! Like a
great dish, the mighty ocean was skimmed in parti-
cles invisible, which were gathered aloft into sponges
all water and no sponge ; and from this, through
many an airy, many an earthy channel, deflowered
of its mystery, his ancient, self-producing fountain to
a holy merry river, was fed ^ only fed! He grew
very sad, and well he might. Moved by the spring


eternal in himself, of which the love in his heart was
but a river-shape, he turned away from the deathened
stream, and without knowing why, sought the human
elements about the place.



He entered the wide kitchen, paved with large
slabs of slate. One brilliant gray-blue spot of sun-
light lay on the floor. It came through a small win-
dow to the east, and made the peat-fire glow red by
the contrast. Over the fire, from a great chain, hung
a three-legged pot, in which something was slowly
cooking. Between the fire and the sun-spot lay a cat,
content with fate and the world. At the corner of
the fire sat an old lady, in a chair high-backed, thick-
padded, and covered with striped stuff. She had
her back to the window that looked into the court,
and was knitting without regarding her needles.
This was Cosmo's grandmother. The daughter of a
small laird in the next parish, she had started in life
with an overweening sense of her own importance
through that of her family, nor had she lived long
enough to get rid of it. I fancy she had clung to it
the more that from the time of her marriage nothing
had seemed to go well with the family into which she


had married. She and her husband had struggled
and striven, but to no seeming purpose ; poverty had
drawn its meshes closer and closer around them.
They had but one son, the present laird, and he had
succeeded to an estate yet smaller and more heavily
encumbered. To all appearance he must leave it to
Cosmo, if indeed he left it, in no better condition.
From the growing fear of its final loss, he loved the
place more than any of his ancestors had loved it, and
his attachment to it had descended yet stronger to his

But although Cosmo the elder wrestled and fought
against encroaching poverty, and with little success,
he had never forgot small rights in anxiety to be rid
of large claims. What man could he did to keep
his poverty from bearing hard on his dependents, and
never master or landlord was more "beloved. Such
being his character and the condition of his affairs, it
is not very surprising that he should have passed
middle age before thinking seriously of marriage.
Nor did he then fall in love, in the ordinary sense of
the phrase ; he reflected with himself that it would be
cowardice so far to fear poverty as to run the boat of
the Warlocks aground, and leave the scrag end of a
property and a history without a man to take them up,
and possibly bear them on to redemption ; for who
could tell what life might be in the stock yet ! Any-
how, it would be better to leave an heir to take the
remnant in charge, and at least carry the name a gen-
eration farther, even should it be into yet deeper pov-
erty than hitherto. A Warlock could face his fate.
Thereupon, with a sense of the fitness of things not


always manifested on such occasions, he had paid his
addresses to a woman of five and thirty, the daughter
of the last clergyman of the parish, and had by her
been accepted with little hesitation. She was a capa-
ble and brave woman, and, fully informed of the state
of his affairs, married him in the hope of doing some-
thing to help him out of his difficulties. A few
pounds she had saved up, and a trifle her mother had
left her, she placed unreservedly at his disposal, and
he in his abounding honesty spent it on his creditors,
bettering things for a time, and, which was of much
more consequence, greatly relieving his mind, and
giving the life in him a fresh start. His marriage
was of infinitely more salvation to the laird than if it
had set him free from all his worldly embarrassments,
for it set him growing again — and that is the only
final path out of oppression.

Whatever were the feelings with which he took his
wife home, they were at least those of a gentleman ;
and it were a good thing indeed, if, at the end of five
years, the love of most pairs who marry for love were
equal to that of Cosmo Warlock to his middle-aged
wife; and now that she was gone, his reverence for
her memory was something surpassing. From the
day almost of his marriage the miseries of life
lost half their bitterness, nor had it returned at her
death. Instinctively he felt that outsiders, those even
who respected him as an honest man, believed that,
somehow or other, they could only conjecture how, he

Online LibraryGeorge MacDonaldWarlock O'Glenwarlock; a homely romance → online text (page 1 of 41)