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OZIAS MIDWINTER. FROM "ARMADALE."
HEN I awoke in the morning, I found a sturdy old man with a fiddle sitting on one side of me, and two performing dogs on the other. Experience had made me too sharp to tell the truth when the man put his first questions. He didn't press them-he gave me a good breakfast out of his knapsack and he let me romp with the dogs. 'I'll tell you what,' he said, when he had got my confidence in this manner, 'you want three things, my man: You want a new father, a new family, and a new name. I'll be your father; I'll let you have the dogs for your brothers; and, if you'll promise to be very careful of it, I'll give you my own name into the bargain. Ozias Midwinter, junior, you have had a good breakfastif you want a good dinner, come along with me!' He got up, the dogs trotted after him, and I trotted after the dogs. Who was my new father? you will ask. A half-breed gypsy, sir; a drunkard, a ruffian, and a thief-and the best friend I have ever had! Isn't a man your friend when he gives you your food, your shelter, and your education? Ozias Midwinter taught me to dance the Highland fling, to throw somersaults, to walk on stilts, and to sing songs to his fiddle. Sometimes we roamed the country and performed at fairs. Sometimes we tried the large towns, and enlivened bad company over its cups. I was a nice, lively little boy of eleven years old-and bad company, the women especially, took a fancy to me and my little feet. I was vagabond enough to like the life. The dogs and The dogs and I lived together, ate and drank and slept together. | I can't think of those poor little four-footed brothers of mine, even now, without a choking
in the throat. Many is the beating we three took together; many is the hard day's dancing we did together on the cold hillside. I'm not
OZIAS MIDWINTER, SENIOR AND JUNIOR.
trying to distress you, sir; I'm only telling you the truth. The life with all its hardships was a life that fitted me, and the half-breed gypsy who gave me his name, ruffian as he was, was a ruffian I liked."
NOVELIST OF THE SCOTTISH FIORDS AND ISLANDS
ERHAPS no living novelist writes for a larger circle of delighted readers than does William Black. Since his twenty-third year his home has been in London, but he was born in Glasgow, in 1841, and from his youth displayed that love of nature and close observation of natural phenomena which has filled his books with the most accurate descriptions of nature in her various moods that can be found in all literature.
He spent about ten years of his life as an editor and correspondent of newspapers, before devoting himself entirely to literature. He traveled much, and devoted himself with enthusiasm to out-door sports. His love for yachting in Scottish waters made him so familiar with that complicated coast-line that a Scotch skipper once told him that should literature fail him he could make a living as pilot in the western highlands. The fidelity of his descriptions of northern Scotland has brought to that country an army of tourists, who have, to some extent, robbed it of its attractions. He has written many novels, the most successful of which are: "A Princess of Thule," "A Daughter of Heth," "In Far Lochaber," "Macleod of Dare," and "Madcap Violet." "White Wings," the "Strange Adventures of a Phaeton," and "Shandon Bells," are also widely known.
Mr. Black's style is always the same, and it could almost be said that the same characters, under different names, move through his different stories; but they are none the less delightful, and if his young ladies are a little too perfect, and their aged guardians a trifle over-indulgent, and the Scotch Highlanders miraculously true and loyal, they are the kind of people whom we like to know, and we come to wish that we could have them in real life as well as in Black's novels.
A RIDE OVER SCOTTISH MOORS.
FROM "ADVENTURES OF A PHAETON."
HAT was a pretty drive through Annandale.
down below you lies a great valley, with the river Annan running through it, and the town of Moffat itself getting smaller in the distance. You catch
a glimmer of the blue peaks of Westmoreland lying far away in the blue south, half hid amidst silver haze. The hills around you increase in size, and yet you would not recognize the bulk of the great round slopes but for those minute dots that you can make out to be sheep, and for an occasional wasp-like creature that you can suppose to be a horse.
The evening draws on. The yellow light on the slopes becomes warmer. You arrive at a great circular chasm which is called by the country folks the Devil's Beef-tub-a mighty hollow, the western sides of which are steeped in a soft purple shadow, while the eastern slopes burn yellow in the sunlight. Far away, down in that misty purple, you can see tents of gray, and these are masses of slate uncovered by grass. The descent seems too abrupt for cattle, and yet there are faint specks which may be sheep. There is no house, not even a farm-house, near; and all traces of Moffat and its neighborhood have long been left out of sight.
But what is the solitude of this place to that of the wild and lofty region you enter when you reach the summit of the hill? Far away on every side of you stretch miles of lonely moorland, with the shoulders of the more distant hills reaching down in endless succession into the western sky. There is no sign of life in this wild place. The stony road over which you drive was once a mailcoach road; now it is overgrown with grass. few old stakes, rotten and tumbling, show where it was necessary at one time to place a protection against the sudden descents on the side of the road; but now the road itself seems lapsing back into moorland. It is up in this wilderness of heather and wet moss that the Tweed takes its rise; but we could hear no trickling of any stream
to break the profound and melancholy silence. There was not even a shepherd's hut visible; and we drove on in silence, scarcely daring to break the charm of the utter loneliness of the place.
The road twists round to the right. Before us a long valley is seen, and we guess that it receives the waters of the Tweed. Almost immediately afterward we come upon a tiny rivulet some two feet in width-either the young Tweed itself or one of its various sources; and as we drive on in the gathering twilight, toward the valley, it seems as though we were accompanied by innumerable streamlets trickling down to the river. The fire of sunset goes out in the west, but over there in the clear green-white of the east a range of hills still glows with a strange roseate purple. We hear the low murmuring of the Tweed in the silence of the valley. We get down among the lower-lying hills, and the neighborhood of the river seems to have drawn to it thousands of wild creatures. There are plover calling and whirling over the marshy levels. There are black-cock and grayhen dusting themselves in the road before us, and waiting until we are quite near them before they wing their straight flight up to the heaths above. Far over us, in the clear green of the sky, a brace of wild ducks go swiftly past. A weasel glides out and over the gray stones by the roadside; and farther along the bank there are young rabbits watching, and trotting, and watching again, as the phaeton gets nearer to them. And then as the deep rose-purple of the eastern hills fades away, and all the dark-green valley of the Tweed lies under the cold silver-gray of the twilight, we reach a small and solitary inn, and are almost surprised to hear once more the sound of a human voice.
knocked about on the waves; and two smacks had even put out to see if any larger remains of the lost vessel or vessels were visible. Mr. M'Henry was early abroad; for he had gone into the town to get a messenger, and so he heard the news. At last, amid the gossiping of the neighbors, he learned that a lad had just been summoned by a certain Mrs. Kilbride to go upon an errand to Airlie, and he resolved to secure his services to carry the message. Eventually he met the lad on his way to the moorland village; and then it turned out that the errand was merely to carry a letter to Miss Cassilis, at the Manse.
"But Miss Cassilis is at my house," said Mr. M'Henry; "give me the letter, and gang ye on to the Manse, and ask Mr. Cassilis to come doon here."
So the lad departed, and the letter was taken up and placed on the table where Coquette was to have her breakfast. She came down, looking very pale, but would give no explanation of how she came to be out on such a night. She thanked them for having sent for her uncle, and sat down at the table, but ate nothing. Then she saw the letter, and, with a quick, pained flush of color leaping to her cheeks, she took it up, and opened it with trembling fingers. Then she read these words:
"Dearest: I can not exact from you the sacrifice of your life. Remorse and misery for all the rest of our years would be the penalty to both of us by your going with me to-night, even though you might put a brave face on the matter, and conceal your anguish. I can not let you suffer that, Coquette. I will leave for America by myself; and I will never attempt to see you again. That promise I have broken before; but it will not be broken this time. Good-bye, Coquette. My earnest hope is that you will not come to Saltcoats to-night; and in that case, this letter will be forwarded to you in the morning. Forgive me, if you can, for all the suffering I have caused you. I will never forget you, darling, but I will never see England or you again.
There was almost a look of joy on her face. "So I did not vex him," she thought, "by keeping him waiting. And he has conquered too: and he will think better of himself, and of me,
away over there for many years to come, if he does not forget all about Airlie."
And this reference to Airlie recalled the thought of her uncle, and of his meeting with her. As the time drew near for his approach, she became more and more downcast. When at last the old man came into the room where she was sitting alone, her eyes were fixed on the ground, and she dared not raise them. He went over to her, and placed his hand on her head.
"What is all this, Catherine? Did you miss your way last night? What made ye go out on such a night, without saying a word to anyone?"
She replied in a low voice, which was yet studiously distinct, "Yesterday afternoon I went away from the Manse, not intending to go back.”
The minister made a slight gesture as if some twinge had shot across his heart, and then, looking at her in a sad and grave way, he said:
"I did not think I had been unkind to you, Catherine."
This was too much for Coquette. It broke down the obduracy with which she had been vainly endeavoring to fortify herself; and she fell at the feet of her uncle, and, with wild tears and sobs, told him all that had happened, and begged him to go away and leave her, for she had become a stranger and an outcast.
Stunned as the old man was by these revelations, he forgot to express his sense of her guilt. He saw only before him the daughter of his own brother-a girl who had scarce a friend in the world but himself, and she was at his feet in tears and shame, bitter distress. He raised her, and put her head on his breast, and tried to still her sobbing.
"Catherine," he said, with his own voice broken, "you shall never be an outcast from my house, so long as you care to accept its shelter."
"But I can not go back to Airlie-I can not go back to Airlie!" she said almost wildly. "I will not bring disgrace upon you, uncle; and have the people talk of me, and blame you for taking me back. I am going away-I am not fit to go back to Airlie, uncle. You have been very good to me -far better than I deserve; but I can not tell you now that I love you for all your kindness to me—
for now it is a disgrace for me to speak to any
"Hush, Catherine," he said. "It is penitence, not despair, that must fill your heart. And the penitent has not to look to man for pardon, nor yet to fear what may be said of him in wrath. They that go elsewhere for forgiveness and comfort, have no reason to dread the ill-tongues of their neighbors. They looked unto Him, and were lightened; and their faces were not ashamed.' 'This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.' You will go back to Airlie with me, my girl. Perhaps you do not feel at home there yet; three years is not a long time to get accustomed to a new country. I am told ye sometimes cried in thinking about France, just as the Jews in captivity did, when they said, 'By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.' But maybe I have erred in not making the house lichtsome enough for ye. I am an old man, Catherine; and the house is dull, perhaps. But if ye will tell me how we can make it pleasanter to ye—————"
“Oh, uncle, you are breaking my heart with your kindness!" she sobbed; "and I deserve none of it-none of it!""
It was with great difficulty that the minister persuaded her to go back with him to the Manse. At length, however, a covered carriage was procured, and Coquette and her uncle were driven up to Airlie. The girl sat now quite silent and impassive, only when she saw any one of the neighbors passing along the road she seemed nervously anxious to avoid scrutiny. When they got up to the gate of the Manse, which was open, she walked quietly and sadly by her uncle's side across the bit of garden into the house, and was then for going upstairs by herself. Her uncle prevented her.
"Ye must come and sit wi' me for a little while, until Leezibeth has got some breakfast ready for ye."
"I do not want anything to eat," said Coquette; and she seemed afraid of the sound of her own voice.
"Nevertheless," said the minister, "I would inquire further into this matter, Catherine. It is but proper that I should know what measure of guilt falls upon that young man in endeavoring to wean away a respectable girl from her home and her friends."
Coquette drew back with some alarm on her
"Uncle, I can not tell you now. Some other time perhaps; but not now. And you must not think him guilty, uncle; it is I who am guilty of it all. He is much better than any of you think, and now he is away in America, and no one will defend him if he is accused."
At the moment that she spoke, Lord Earlthorpe was beyond the reach of accusation and defense. The Saltcoats people, toward the close of the afternoon, discovered the lid of a chest floating about, and on it was painted in white letters the word Caroline. Later there came a telegram from Greenock to the effect that during the preceding night the schooner yacht Caroline had been run down and sunk in mid-channel by a steamer going to Londonderry, and that of all on board the yacht, the steamer had been able to pick up only the steward. And that same night the news made its way up to Airlie, and circulated through the village, and at length reached the Manse. Other rumors accompanied it. For a moment no one dared to tell Coquette of what had happened; but none the less was her flight from the Manse connected with this terrible judgment; and even. Leezibeth, struck dumb with shame and grief, had no word of protest when Andrew finished his warnings and denunciations.
"There is no healing of thy bruise," said Leezibeth to herself sadly, in thinking of Coquette. "Thy wound is grievous; all that hear the bruit thereof shall clap their hands over thee."