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   Chapter 37 THE DAWN.

Warlock o' Glenwarlock By George MacDonald Characters: 10503

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Strange to say, there was no return of his fever. He seemed, through the utter carelessness of mental agony, so to have abandoned his body, that he no longer affected it. A man must have some hope, to be aware of his body at all. As the darkness began to yield he fell asleep.

Then came a curious dream. For ages Joan had been persuading him to go with her, and the old captain to go with him-the latter angry and pulling him, the former weeping and imploring. He would go with neither, and at last they vanished both. He sat solitary on the side of a bare hill, and below him was all that remained of Castle Warlock. He had been dead so many years, that it was now but a half-shapeless ruin of roofless walls, haggard and hollow and gray and desolate. It stood on its ridge like a solitary tooth in the jaw of some skeleton beast. But where was his father? How was it he had not yet found him, if he had been so long dead? He must rise and seek him! He must be somewhere in the universe! Therewith came softly stealing up, at first hardly audible, a strain of music from the valley below. He listened. It grew as it rose, and held him bound. Like an upward river, it rose, and grew with a strong rushing, until it flooded all his heart and brain, working in him a marvellous good, which yet he did not understand. And all the time, his eyes were upon the dead home of his fathers. Wonder of wonders, it began to change-to grow before his eyes! It was growing out of the earth like a plant! It grew and grew until it was as high as in the old days, and then it grew yet higher! A roof came upon it, and turrets and battlements-all to the sound of that creative music; and like fresh shoots from its stem, out from it went wings and walls. Like a great flower it was rushing visibly on to some mighty blossom of grandeur, when the dream suddenly left him, and he woke.

But instead of the enemy coming in upon him like a flood as his consciousness returned, to his astonishment he found his soul as calm as it was sad. God had given him while he slept, and he knew him near as his own heart! The first THOUGHT that came was, that his God was Joan's God too, and therefore all was well; so long as God took care of her, and was with him, and his will was done in them both, all was on the way to be well so as nothing could be better. And with that he knew what he had to do-knew it without thinking-and proceeded at once to do it. He rose, and dressed himself.

It was still the gray sunless morning. The dream, with its dream-ages of duration, had not crossed the shallows of the dawn. Quickly he gathered his few things into his knapsack-fortunately their number had nowise increased-took his great-uncle's bamboo, saw that his money was safe, stole quietly down the stair, and softly and safely out of the house, and, ere any of its inhabitants were astir, had left the village by the southward road.

When he had walked about a mile, he turned into a road leading eastward, with the design of going a few miles in that direction, and then turning to the north. When he had travelled what to his weakness was a long distance, all at once, with the dismay of a perverse dream, rose above the trees the towers of Cairncarque. Was he never to escape them, in the body any more than in the spirit? He turned back, and again southwards.

But now he had often to sit down; as often, however, he was able to get up and walk. Coming to a village he learned that a coach for the north would pass within an hour, and going to the inn had some breakfast, and waited for it. Finding it would pass through the village he had left, he took an inside place; and when it stopped for a moment in the one street of it, saw Charles Jermyn cross it, evidently without a suspicion that his guest was not where he had left him.

When he had travelled some fifty miles, partly to save his money, partly because he felt the need of exercise, not to stifle thought, but to clear it, he left the coach, and betook himself to his feet. Alternately walking and riding, he found his strength increase as he went on; and his sorrow continued to be that of a cloudy summer day, nor was ever, so long as the journey lasted, again that of the fierce wintry tempest.

At length he drew nigh the city where he had spent his student years. On foot, weary, and dusty, and worn, he entered it like a returning prodigal. Few Scotchmen would think he had made good use of his learning! But he had made the use of it God required, and some Scotchmen, with and without other learning, have learned to think that a good use, and in itself a sufficient success-for that man came into the world not to make money, but to seek the kingdom and righteousness of God.

He walked straight into Mr. Burns's shop.

The jeweller did not know him at first; but the moment he spoke, recognized him. Cosmo had been dubious what his reception might be-after the way in which their intimacy had closed; but Mr. Burns held out his hand as if they had parted only the day before, and said,

"I thought of the two you would be here before Death! Man, you ought to give a body time."

"Mr. Burns," replied Cosmo, "I am very sorry I behaved to you as I did. I am not sorry I said what I did

, for I am no less sure about that than I was then; but I am sorry I never came again to see you. Perhaps we did not quite understand on either side."

"We shall understand each other better now, I fancy," said Mr. Burns. "I am glad you have not changed your opinion, for I have changed mine. If it weren't for you, I should be retired by this time, and you would have found another name over the door. But we'll have a talk about all that. Allow me to ask you whither you are bound."

"I am on my way home," answered Cosmo. "I have not seen my father for several-for more than two years."

"You'll do me the honour to put up at my house to-night, will you not? I am a bachelor, as you know, but will do my best to make you comfortable."

Cosmo gladly assented; and as it was now evening, Mr. Burns hastened the shutting of his shop; and in a few minutes they were seated at supper.

As soon as the servant left them, they turned to talk of divine righteousness in business; and thence to speak of the jeweller's; after which Cosmo introduced that of the ring. Giving a short narrative of the finding of it, and explaining the position of Lady Joan with regard to it, so that his host might have no fear of compromising himself, he ended with telling him he had brought it to him, and with what object.

"I am extremely obliged to you, Mr. Warlock," responded the jeweller, "for placing such confidence in me, and that notwithstanding the mistaken principles I used to advocate. I have seen a little farther since then, I am happy to say; and this is how it was: the words you then spoke, and I took so ill, would keep coming into my mind, and that at the most inconvenient moments, until at last I resolved to look the thing in the face, and think it fairly out. The result is, that, although I daresay nobody has recognized any difference in my way of doing business, there is one who must know a great difference: I now think of my neighbour's side of the bargain as well as of my own, and abstain from doing what it would vex me to find I had not been sharp enough to prevent him from doing with me. In consequence, I am not so rich this day as I might otherwise have been, but I enjoy life more, and hope the days of my ignorance God has winked at."

Cosmo could not reply for pleasure. Mr. Burns saw his emotion, and understood it. From that hour they were friends who loved each other.

"And now for the ring!" said the jeweller.

Cosmo produced it.

Mr. Burns looked at it as if his keen eyes would pierce to the very heart of its mystery, turned it every way, examined it in every position relative to the light, removed it from its setting, went through the diamond catechism with it afresh, then weighed it, thought over it, and said,

"What do you take the stone to be worth, Mr. Warlock?"

"I can only guess, of course," replied Cosmo; "but the impression on my mind is, that it is worth more nearly two hundred than a hundred and fifty pounds."

"You are right," answered Mr. Burns, "and you ought to have followed my trade; I could make a good jeweller of you. This ring is worth two hundred guineas, fair market-value. But as I can ask for no one more than it is absolutely worth, I must take my profit off you: do you think that is fair?"

"Perfectly," answered Cosmo.

"Then I must give you only two hundred pounds for it, and take the shillings myself. You see it may be some time before I get my money again, so I think five per cent on the amount is not more than the fair thing."

"It seems to me perfectly fair, and very moderate," replied Cosmo.

As soon as dinner was over, he sat down to write to Joan. While there was nothing that must be said, he had feared writing. This was what he wrote:

"My dearest Joan,

"As you have trusted me hitherto, so trust me still, and wait for an explanation of my peculiar behaviour in going away without bidding you good-by, till the proper time comes-which must come one day, for our master said, more than once, that there was nothing covered which should not be revealed, neither hid that should not be known. I feel sure therefore, of being allowed to tell you everything sometime.

"I herewith send you a cheque as good as bank-notes, much safer to send, and hardly more difficult for Dr Jermyn to turn into sovereigns.

"I borrowed of him fifteen pounds-a good deal more than I wanted. I have therefore got Mr. Burns, my friend, the jeweller, in this city, to add five pounds to the two hundred which he gives for the ring, and beg you, Joan, for the sake of old times, and new also, to pay for me the fifteen pounds to Dr. Jermyn, which I would much rather owe to you than to him. The rest of it, the other ten pounds, I will pay you when I can-it may not be in this world. And in the next-what then, Joan? Why then-but for that we will wait-who more earnestly than I?

"To all the coming eternity, dear Joan, I shall never cease to love you-first for yourself, then for your great lovely goodness to me. May the only perfection, whose only being is love, take you to his heart-as he is always trying to do with all of us! I mean to let him have me out and out.

"Dearest Joan, Your far-off cousin, but near friend,

"COSMO WARLOCK."

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