MoboReader> Literature > A Daughter of Fife

   Chapter 13 THE BROKEN TRYST.

A Daughter of Fife By Amelia Edith Barr Characters: 32308

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


"I sit on my creepie, and spin at my wheel,

And I think on the laddie that lo'ed me sae weel;

He had but ae sixpence, he brake it in twa,

And gied me the hauf o' t when he gaed awa'.

He said, think na lang lassie tho' I gang awa'.

I'll come and see you in spite o' them a'"

-Logie O Buchan.

"I am going to be ill," said Mary, with trembling lips, "I feel as if I were walking into a great darkness, Maggie."

They were driving toward Drumloch in the early morning, and there was that haunted, terrified look in her eyes, with which a soul apprehensive of suffering and danger bespeaks the help and sympathy of those near to it. Maggie had seen the look before; the little children dying upon her knees had pierced her heart with it. She remembered it, even in the eyes of strong men driven by a sense of duty or humanity into the jaws of death. Mary took her hand and clung to it; and let her head fall helplessly upon Maggie's breast. When they reached home, she had almost to be carried to her room, and servants were sent off on fleet horses for medical aid.

"A bad case of inflammation of the lungs," was the doctor's verdict. "It is likely to be a serious business, Miss Promoter, and Miss Campbell's friends should be informed at once of her condition."

Mary would not be spoken to on the subject. "Her uncle," she said, "was her only friend. In his last letter he had told her to send communications to the Hotel Neva at Riga. It was uncertain when he would get there. And what was the use of alarming him, when he was too far away to help her?" Maggie perceived from the first moment of Mary's conviction of danger and suffering, that the girl had flung herself upon her love and care. With all her soul she accepted the charge. She would have held herself as unworthy to live if she had had one moment's reluctance in the matter. In strong physical anguish it is almost impossible to be generous and self-forgetting, and Mary, in the first hours of acute, lacerating agony, forgot all things but her ever-present need of relief. Early in the second day the fever reached the brain, and her talk became incoherent. It required all Maggie's firm strength and tender love to control the suffering girl.

And it was nearly time for her tryst with Allan. On the twenty-ninth of August he had bidden her farewell; two years from that day he had promised to be in Pittenloch. She believed he would keep his promise; but how was she to keep hers? Only by being recreant to every sentiment of honor, gratitude and humanity. "And if I could be that false to Mary Campbell, I wad weel deserve that Allan should be false to me," she said. She had never read Carlyle, never heard of him, but she arrived at his famous dictum, as millions of good men and women have done, by the simplest process of conscientious thought: "I'll do the duty that lies close by my hand and heart, and leave the rest to One wiser than I am."

She remembered also that she could write to Allan. There was a bare chance that he might get the letter, especially if he should linger a few days in Fife. But although she was ignorant of the action which David had taken with regard to Janet Caird, she never thought of addressing the letter to her care. For a moment she hesitated between Willie Johnson and Elder Mackelvine, but finally chose the former, for Willie and Allan had been great friends, and she was certain if Allan went to Pittenloch he would not leave the village without seeing his old boat mate. It was a loving, modest little letter, explaining the case in which she found herself, and begging him to come to Drumloch and say a word of kindness to her. When she folded and sealed it, she thought with pleasure of Allan's astonishment and delight at her improvement; and many an hour she passed, calculating, as well as she could, the distance, the time, and the chances of Allan receiving her message.

As it happened, he just missed it; but it was Maggie's own fault. If she had trusted it to the Drumloch mail-bag and servant it would have reached Dalry on the twenty-ninth; and on that day Willie Johnson was in the post-village, and received several letters lying there for himself and others in Pittenloch. But when, in our anxiety, we trust to our own judgment, instead of to that something which, for lack of a better name, we call good fortune, we are usually, and perhaps justly, deserted by good fortune. Maggie feared the footman would shirk her solitary letter, and perhaps keep it until his regular visit to the post the following day; so she gave it to the doctor, earnestly asking him to post it as he passed through the town. And the doctor fully intended to do so, but he was met by an urgent call for help; he forgot it then; he did not pass near the post-office for two days, and the two days might as well have been two months, for it was fully that time before Willie Johnson received his next letters.

Mary was exceedingly ill on the twenty-ninth. Her soul had reached the very border-land of being. In the dim, still room she lay, painfully breathing, faintly murmuring words unintelligible and very far away. But as Maggie sat motionless beside her, sometimes hopelessly watching, sometimes softly praying, she could not help thinking of the beach at Pittenloch, of the fresh salt air, and the sea coming in with the wind, and the motion and sparkle and sunshine, and the tall, handsome man she loved looking with sorrowful longing for her. And though she never grudged Mary one moment of the joy she was sacrificing, yet her tears dropped upon the clay-like hands she clasped in her own; for human love and human hopes are very sweet, never perhaps more sweet than in the very hour in which we yield them up to some noble duty, or some cruel fatality.

And Maggie mourned most of all, because Allan would think her faithless; would judge her from the wicked, envious tongues that had driven her from her home; and it is always the drop of injustice in sorrow that makes sorrow intolerable. Only, Maggie trusted! In spite of many a moment's fear and doubt she trusted! Trusted God, and trusted Allan, and trusted that somehow out of sorrow would come joy; and as she stepped softly about her loving cares, or watched, almost breathlessly, Mary passing Death's haggard hills, she often whispered to herself part of a little poem they had learned together:

"I will try to hope and to trust in God!

In the excellent Glory His abode

Hath been from of old; thence looketh He,

And surely He cannot help seeing me.

And I think perhaps He thinks of me;

For my heart is with Him continually."

In the meantime, Allan, like all true lovers, had outrun the clock to keep his tryst. On the evening of the 28th of August a small steamer cast anchor at Pittenloch pier. She had one passenger, Allan Campbell. He had been waiting two days in Leith, but no boat from Pittenloch having arrived during that time, he had hired a small steamer to run up the coast with him. He landed in the evening, just about the time the lamps in the cottages were being lit; and he looked eagerly toward the Promoter cottage for some such cheering sign. As he looked, the window became red, and he leaped off the boat in a fever of joyful expectation. Surely Maggie would be watching! The arrival of a strange steamer must have told her who was coming. Every moment he expected to see her at the open door. As he neared it, the turfs sent up a ruddy glow, and touched the whole interior with warm color. The entrance was light, but the house place was empty. Smiling to himself, he went in, and stood upon the snow-white hearth, and glanced round the dear, familiar room. Nothing was changed. In a moment or two he heard a step; he looked eagerly toward it, and a very pleasant-looking old woman entered.

"I thocht it wad be you, Maister Campbell. Welcome hame, sir! I'll mak you a cup o' tea anon, for the kettle's boiling, and a' things ready."

"Thank you. I don't remember-I suppose Mistress Caird has left?"

"Sent awa', sir-not before she deserved it."

"And you are in her place? I think I have seen you before?"

"Nae doot, sir. I'm Mysie Jardine-the Widow Jardine, sir."

"And Maggie? Is she near by? At home? Where is she?"

"There is nane ken that, sir."

"What do you mean, Mysie?"

"Maggie's gane awa', sir."

"Maggie gone away! Where to?"

"'Deed, sir, I'd be fain to ken where to-but I hae the house for the care o' things; and David Promoter left word that if I took up Maggie's name in my lips, I wad be to leave instanter; sae I'll say naething at a'. Elder Mackelvine kens a' that anybody kens, and when you hae had a drap o' tea, you can ask him a' the questions you like to."

"Never mind tea, I am going at once to Mackelvine's."

"I'll be to get your room ready, sir; and put a bit o' fire in it, and the like o' that?"

"Yes, I shall come back here." He felt stunned, and glad to get into the fresh air. Maggie gone! He could hardly believe the words he had heard. Sorrow, anxiety, keen disappointment, amazement, possessed him; but even in those moments of miserable uncertainty he had not one hard or wrong thought of Maggie. Elder Mackelvine's cottage was quite at the other end of the village, and he was walking rapidly down the shingle toward it, when he met Willie Johnson.

"I heard tell you were here, Maister Campbell, and I cam' instanter to meet you, sir. You'll hae to bide wi' us to-night, for a' is changed at the Promoters."

"So I see, Willie." Then mindful of Maggie's good name, and of the fact that their betrothal was unknown, he said, with as much of his old manner as he could assume, "What has come to the Promoters? I hope some good fortune?"

"I hope that, too; but there's nane can say, if it be good or ill. Davie, you will dootless hae heard tell o'?"

"I have heard nothing from him for two years."

"Then your ears will be like to tingle wi' the news; for he has set himsel' in a' the high seats in Glasca' College; and folks talk o' naething less than a Glasca' pu'pit for him; and you ken, it tak's doctors in divinity to stand up afore a Glasca' congregation. Elder Mackelvine never wearies o' talking anent him. For mysel', I canna say I ever likit him o'er weel; and since puir Maggie gaed awa', I hae ta'en little pleasure in the honor he has done oor village."

"Maggie gone away! Where to?"

"Nane can tell. She had a sair trial wi' yonder auld harridan her brother brought to bide wi' her."

"I did not like the woman, Willie."

"Like her? Wha wad like her but the blackhearted and the black-tongued? She gied the girl's gude name awa' to win hersel' a bit honor wi' auld wives, and even the minister at first was against Maggie; sae when she couldna thole her trouble langer, she went to her brither, and folks say, he gied her the cold shoulder likewise. But when four months had gane he cam' here oot o' his wits nearly, and sent Janet Caird hame wi' a word, and the care o' the house was put on Mysie Jardine. Davie hasna set e'en on his cottage, nor foot in it, since; nor sent any word to his auld frien's-though as to frien's it is naething less than a professor he changes hats or the time o' day with noo, they tell me; and I can weel believe it, for he aye had the pride o' a Nebuchadnezzar in him."

Elder Mackelvine in a measure corroborated Willie Johnson's statements. Maggie had been "hardly spoken of," he admitted; but "I dinna approve o' the way oot o' trouble that she took," he added sternly. "Lasses ought to sit still and thole wrang, until He undertakes their case. If Maggie had bided in her hame a few weeks langer, He wad hae brought oot her righteousness as the noon-day. There was a setting o' public feeling in the right direction followed close on her leaving, and then cam' Dr. Balmuto wi' searchings, and examinations, and strong reproofs, for a', and sundry; and I didna escape mysel';" said the elder in a tone of injury.

"What could they say wrong of Maggie Promoter?" asked Allan, with flashing eyes.

"Ou, ay, a better girl ne'er broke her cake; but folks said this, and that, and to tell the even-down truth, they put your ain name, sir, wi' hers-and what but shame could come o' your name and her name in the same breath?"

"'Shame!' Who dared to use my name to shame hers with? Let me tell you, elder, and you may tell every man and woman in Pittenloch, that if I could call Maggie Promoter my wife, I would count it the greatest honor and happiness God could give me. And if I find her to-morrow, and she will marry me, I will make her Mrs. Allan Campbell the same hour."

"You are an honorable young man, there's my hand, and I respect you wi' a' my heart. Gudewife, mak' us a cup o' tea, and put some herring to toast. Maister Campbell will eat wi' me this night, and we' hae a bed to spare likewise, if he will tak' it."

Allan gratefully ate supper with the elder, but he preferred to occupy his old room in the Promoter cottage. "I have a kind of right there," he said, with a sorrowful smile, "I hired it for two years, and my term is not quite out yet."

"And David told me also, that whenever you came, this year, or any year, to gie you the key o' it. You will find a' your books and pictures untouched; for when Dr. Balmuto heard tell what trouble Maggie had had to keep Janet Caird oot o' it, he daured her to put her foot inside; and Davie cam' himsel' not long after, and took her back to Dron Point in a whiff and a hurry, wi' nae words aboot it."

"I am afraid David is much to blame about his sister. He should have let

Maggie stay with him."

"I'll no hear David Promoter blamed. He explained the hale circumstances o' the case to me, and I dinna think the charge o' a grown, handsome girl like Maggie was comformable, or to be thocht o'. A man that is climbing the pu'pit stairs, canna hae any woman hanging on to him. It's no decent, it's no to be expectit. You ken yoursel' what women are, they canna be trusted wi' out bit and bridle, and David Promoter, when he had heard a' that Maggie had to complain o', thocht still that she needed over-sight, and that it was best for her to be among her ain people. He sent her back wi' a letter to Dr. Balmuto, and he told her to bide under the doctor's speech and ken, and the girl ought to hae done what she was bid to do; and so far I dinna excuse her; and I dinna think her brother is to hae a word o' blame. A divinity student has limitations, sir; and womenfolk are clean outside o' them."

The elder was not a man who readily admitted petty faults in his own sex. He thought women had a monopoly of them. He was quite ready to confess that their tongues had been "tongues o' fire;" but then, he said, "Maggie had the 'Ordinances' and the 'Promises,' and she should hae waited wi' mair patience. Davie was doing weel to himsel' and going to be an honor to her, and to the village, and the country, and the hale Kirk o' Scotland, and it was the heighth o' unreason to mak' him accountable for trouble that cam' o' women's tongues."

That night Allan slept again in his old room; but we cannot bring back the old feelings by simply going back to the old places. Besides, nothing was just the same. His room wanted, he knew not what; he could not hear the low murmur of Maggie's voice as she talked to her brother; or the solemn sound of David's, as he read the Exercise. Footfalls, little laughs, slight movements, the rustle of garments, so many inexpressible keys to emotion were silent. He was too tired also to lay any sensible plans for finding Maggie; before he knew it, he had succumbed to his physical and mental weariness, and fallen fast asleep.

He kept the boat waiting two days in Pittenloch, but on the morning of the third sorrowfully turned his back upon the place of his disappointment. He felt that he could see no one, nor yet take any further step until he had spoken with David Promoter; and late the same night he was in the Candleriggs Street of Glasgow. He was so weary and faint that David's sonorous, strong, "come in," startled him. The two

men looked steadily at each other a moment, a look on both sides full of suspicion and inquiry. Allan was the first to speak. He had taken in at a glance the tall sombre grandeur of David's appearance, his spiritual look, the clear truthfulness of his piercing eyes, and without reasoning he walked forward and said, somewhat sadly,

"Well, David?"

"I do not know if it is well or ill, Mr. Campbell, and I will not shake hands on uncertain grounds, sir. Ken you where my sister is?"

"How can you wrong me so, David Promoter? But that would be a small wrong in comparison-how can you shame Maggie by such a question of me? Since we parted in Pittenloch I have neither seen nor heard from her. Oh, Maggie! Maggie!"

He could control himself no longer. As he paced the small room, the tears stood in his eyes, and he locked and unlocked his hands in a passionate effort to relieve his emotion. David looked at him with a stern curiosity. "You are mair than needfully anxious, sir. Do you think Maggie Promoter has no brother? What is Maggie to you?"

"Everything! Everything! Life is hopeless, worthless, without Maggie. She is my promised wife. I would give every shilling I have in the world rather than lose her. I would throw the whole of my world behind me, and go into the fishing boats for her. I love her, sir, as you never can love any woman. Do you think I would have given Maggie a heartache, or let Maggie slip beyond my ken, for all the honor and glory in the world, or for a pulpit as high as the Tower of Babel?"

"Dinna confound things, Mr. Campbell. Maggie, and the pulpit, and the Tower o' Babel are a' different. If you love Maggie sae blindly as a' that, whatna for did you leave her then? Why didn't you speak to me anent the matter? Let me tell you, that was your plain duty, and you are noo supping the broo you hae brewed for yoursel'."

David was under powerful emotion, and culture disappeared; "he had got to his Scotch;" for though a man may speak many languages, he has only one mother tongue; and when the heart throbs, and glows, and burns, he goes back to it. "Why didna you speak wi' me?" he asked again, as he let his hand fall upon the table to emphasize the inquiry.

"I will tell you why. Because Maggie loved you, and thought for you, and would not put one dark drop into your cup of happiness. Because she was afraid that if you knew I loved her, you would think I had tried to help you from that motive, and so, refuse the help. Because the dear girl would not wound even your self complacency. Do not think I am ashamed of her, or ashamed of loving her. I told my father, I told the only female relative I have, how dear she was to me. My father asked me to test my love by two years' travel and absence. I did so to convince him, not because I doubted myself. Do you know where Maggie is? If you do, tell me, I have a right to see her."

David went to a big Bible lying on a small table, and took from among its leaves three letters. "I have had these from her at different times. Two you see are posted in Glasgow, the last received was posted three weeks ago, from Portree, in Skye. She says she is with friends, and doing well, and you have but to read the letters to understand she is with those who are more than kind to her. There are few women in Scotland that could write a letter like her last. It shows a mind well opened, and the pen o a ready writer."

"May I have them?"

"Since you make so great a claim on Maggie, you may; but why did she not write to you, if you were trothplighted?"

"Because it was fully understood there was to be no communication of any kind between us for two years. That much I owed to the best of fathers. Also, as you know, Maggie has learned to write since we parted. But I ought to have made surer provision for her happiness. I am only rightly punished for trusting her where I did."

"You trusted her with her ain brother, Mr. Campbell. If Maggie had done as she should hae done-"

"Maggie has done perfectly right. I am sure of that. I could swear to it."

"Sir, we will keep to lawful language. Christian gentlemen don't need oaths. I say Maggie should have gone to Dr. Balmuto when I sent her."

"I do not know the circumstances, but I say she ought not to have gone to

Dr. Balmuto. I am sure she only did whatever was wise and womanly."

"There is no use in reasoning with one who talks without knowledge. If I get any information about Maggie, or from her, I will send it to your address. I love Maggie. The lassie aye loved me. She wouldna thank you to speak sae sharply to me. She will tell you some day that I did all that could be expectit of me."

"Forgive me, David. I feel almost broken-hearted. I am irritable also for want of food. I have not eaten since early this morning."

"That is not right, sir. Sit down, in a few minutes you shall have all that is needful."

"No, no; I must go home. Half an hour will take me there. Shake hands, David. Whatever differences we may have, you, at least, understand fully that I never could wrong your sister."

"I am glad to give you my hand, sir. I owe you more than can be told. I had not been where I am to-day but for you."

"And if there is anything more needed?"

"There is nothing more, sir. I have paid back all I borrowed. I have been fortunate above my fellows. I owe you only the gratitude I freely and constantly pay."

Allan scarcely understood him; he grasped the hand David offered him, then walked to Argyle Street and called a cab; in half an hour, he was in his own rooms in the Blytheswood Square house. His advent caused a little sensation; the housekeeper almost felt it to be a wrong. "In the very thick of the cleaning!" she exclaimed; "every bit of furniture under linen, and all the silver put by in flannel. Miss Campbell said she wasna coming until the end o' September; and as for Mr. Allan, every one thought he was at a safe distance. We'll hae to hurry wi' the paint work noo, and if there's one thing mair than anither no to be bided it's hurrying up what should be taken pains wi'."

Generally Allan would have been conscious of the disapproval his visit evoked, and he would have reconciled the servants to any amount of trouble by apologies and regrets; but at this time his mind was full of far more personal and serious affairs. He had been inclined to think the very best of Maggie, to be quite certain that she had been detained by circumstances absolutely uncontrollable by her; but after reading again and again her letters to David, he did think she ought to have had some written explanation of her absence waiting for him. She knew he would certainly see either Willie Johnson or Elder Mackelvine, and he felt that she might -if she wished-have spared him much anxiety and disappointment.

He longed now to see his father; he determined to tell him the truth, and be guided by his advice. But John Campbell's last letter to his son had been dated from Southern Russia, and it was scarcely likely he would be in Glasgow for three weeks. However, Mary Campbell was at Drumloch, and he thought as he sipped his coffee, that it would probably be the best thing to go there, rest for a day or two with his cousin, and if he found her sympathetic, ask her help in his perplexity.

He called at the office on his way to the railway station, and he was met by the manager with an exclamation of peculiar satisfaction. "No one could be more welcome at this hour, Mr. Allan," he said; "we were all longing for you. There is bad news from Russia."

"My father?"

"Is very ill. He took a severe cold in a night journey over the Novgorod

Steppe, and he is prostrate with rheumatic fever at Riga. I had just told

Luggan to be ready to leave by to-night's train for Hull. I think that

will be the quickest route."

"I can catch the noon train. I will call in an hour for money and advices, and go myself."

"That is what I expected as soon as I saw you. Have you heard that Miss

Campbell is very ill?"

"No. Is she at Drumloch? Who is caring for her?"

"She is at Drumloch. Dr. Fleming goes from Glasgow every day to consult with the Ayr doctor. Her housekeeper, Mrs. Leslie, is an old servant, she was with Miss Campbell's mother; forbye, Fleming says, she has with her a young lady friend who never leaves the sick room night or day."

"I was just going out to Drumloch, but that is now neither possible nor desirable. I could be of no use to Miss Campbell, I can be everything to my father."

Allan had only one call to make. It was upon a middle-aged man, who had long been employed by their house in affairs demanding discernment and secrecy. Few words passed between them. Allan laid a small likeness of Maggie on the table with a £100 Bank of England note, and said, "Simon Fraser, I want you to find that young lady for me. If you have good news when I return, I will give you another hundred pounds."

"Have you any suggestions, Mr. Allan? Is she in Glasgow?"

"I think so. You might watch churches and dressmakers."

"Am I to speak to her?"

"Not a word."

"Shall I go to the office with reports?"

"No. Keep all information until I come for it. Remember the lady is worthy of the deepest respect. On no account suffer her to discover that you are doing for me what unavoidable circumstances prevent me from doing myself."

An hour after this interview Allan was on his way to Riga. In every life there are a few sharp transitions. People pass in a moment, as it were, from one condition to another, and it seemed to Allan as if he never could be quite the same again. That intangible, un-namable charm of a happy and thoughtless youth had suddenly slipped away from him, and he was sure that at this hour he looked at things as he could not have looked at them a week before. And yet extremities always find men better than they think they are. His love and his duty set before Allan, he had not put his own happiness for one moment before his father's welfare and relief. Without delay and without grudging he had answered his call for help and sympathy.

But while he was hurrying on his journey of love and succor, Maggie was watching in an indescribable sickness of delayed hope. If Allan got her letter on the 29th she thought he would surely be at Drumloch on the 30th. She gave him until the evening. She invented excuses for his delay for several more wretched days. Then she resigned all hope of seeing him. Her letter had missed him, and perhaps he would never again visit Pittenloch. What a week of misery she spent! One morning Dr. Fleming turned her sharply to the light. "Miss Promoter," he said, "you are very near ill. Go away and cry. Take a good cry. It may save you a deal of suffering. I will stay by Miss Campbell an hour. Run into the garden, my brave woman, and have it out with yourself."

She was thankful to do so. She wrapped her plaid around her and almost fled to the thick laurel shrubbery. As she walked there she cried softly, "Oh, Allan, Allan, Allan, it wasna my fault, dearie! It wasna Maggie's fault! It wasna Maggie's fault!" Her bit of broken sixpence hung by a narrow ribbon round her neck. She laid it in her hand, kissed it, and wept over it. "He'll maybe come back to me! He'll maybe come back to me! And if he never comes back I'll be aye true to him; true till death to him. He'll ken it some time! He'll ken it some time!" She cried passionately; she let her quick nature have full way; and sobbed as she had been used to sob upon the beach of Pittenloch, or in the coverts of its bleak, black rocks.

The cruelty of the separation, the doubt, the injustice that must mingle in Allan's memory with her, this was what "rent her heart." Oh, words of terrible fidelity! And how was she to conceal, to bear this secret wound? And who should restore to her the dear face, the voice, the heart that wrapped her in its love? In that sad hour how prodigal she was of tender words! Words which she would perhaps have withheld if Allan had been by her side. What passionate avowals of her affection she made, so sweet, so thrilling, that it would be a kind of profanation to write them.

When she went back to the house she was weary, but calm. Only hope seemed to have gone forever. There are melancholy days in which the sun has no color, and the clouds hang in dark masses, gray upon darker gray. Life has the same pallors and glooms; we are weary of ourselves and of others, we have the sensation of defeat upon defeat, of hopeless struggles, of mortal languors that no faith can lift. As Maggie watched that day beside her friend she felt such prostration. She smiled scornfully to herself as she remembered that ever in the novels which she had read the lover and the hero always appeared in some such moments of extremity as she had gone through. But Allan had not found her in the laurel walk, and she did not believe he would ever try to find her again. Sorrow had not yet taught her that destiny loves surprises.

About midnight she walked into an adjoining dressing room and looked out. How cold and steely the river wound through the brown woods until it mingled with the ghostly film on the horizon! Through what cloudy crags,

The moon came rushing like a stag,

With one star like a hound,

behind it! As she watched the solemn, restless picture, she was called very softly-"Maggie."

The word was scarce audible, but she stepped swiftly back, and kneeling by Mary's side lifted her wasted hand. The eyes that met hers had the light of reason in them at last.

"I am awake, Maggie."

"Yes, dear. Do not talk, you have been ill; you are getting better."

Mary smiled. The happiest of pillows is that which Death has frowned on, and passed over. "I am really getting well?"

"You are really getting well. Sleep again."

There was a silence that could almost be felt; and Maggie sat breathless in it. When it became too trying, she rose softly and went to the next room. There was a small table there, and on it a shaded lamp and a few books. One of them was turned with its face downward and looked unfamiliar; she lifted it, and saw on the fly-leaf, Cornelius Fleming, A.D. 1800. It was a pocket edition of the Alcestis in English, and the good man had drawn a pencil opposite some lines, which he doubtless intended Maggie to read:-

"Manifold are the changes

Which Providence may bring.

Many unhoped for things

God's power hath brought about.

What seemeth, often happeneth not;

And for unlikely things

God findeth out a way."

She smiled and laid the little volume down. "The tide has turned," she thought, "and many an ill wind has driven a ship into a good harbor. I wonder what was the matter with me this morning!" And she sat quiet with a new sense of peace in her heart, until the moon was low in the west, and the far hills stood clear and garish in the cold white light of morning. Then Mary called her again. There was a look of pitiful anxiety on her face; she grasped Maggie's hand, and whispered "The 29th? Is it come?"

"Yes, dear."

"Your tryst, Maggie?"

"I will keep it some other time."

"Now, Maggie. To-day. At once. Oh Maggie! Go, go, go! I shall be ill again if you do not."

It was useless to reason with her. She began to cry, to grow feverish.

"I will go then."

"And you will come back?"

"In three or four days."

"Spare no money. He will be waiting. I know it. Haste, Maggie! Oh dear, you don't know-oh, be quick, for my sake."

Then Maggie told Mrs. Leslie such facts as were necessary to account for Mary's anxiety, and she also urged her to keep the appointment. "Better late than ever," she said, "and you may not be too late; and anyhow the salt air will do you good, and maybe set you beyond the fit o' sickness you look o'er like to have."

So within an hour Maggie was speeding to the coast of Fife, faintly hoping that Allan might still be there; "for he must ken by his own heart," she thought, "that it would be life or death, and naething but life or death, that could make me break a promise I had made to him."

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares