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   Chapter 43 OBSTRUCTION.

Warlock o' Glenwarlock By George MacDonald Characters: 5994

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

All this time Cosmo had never written again to Joan; both his father and he thought it better the former only should for the present keep up the correspondence. But months had passed without their hearing from her. The laird had written the third time, and received no answer.

The day was now close upon them when the last of their land would be taken, leaving them nothing but the kitchen-garden-a piece of ground of about half an acre, the little terraced flower-garden to the south of the castle, and the croft tenanted by James Gracie. They applied to Lord Lick-my-loof to grant them a lease of the one field next the castle, which the laird with the help of the two women had cultivated the spring before, but he would not-his resentment being as strong as ever, and his design deeper than they saw.

The formal proceedings took their legal course; and upon and after a certain day Lord Lick-my-loof might have been seen from not a few of the windows of the castle, walking the fields to the north and east, and giving orders to his bailiff concerning them. Within a fortnight those to the north were no more to be entered from the precincts of the castle except by climbing over a DRY-STANE DYKE; and before many additional days were gone by, they found him more determined than they could have imagined, to give them annoyance.

He had procured a copy of an old plan of the property, and therein discovered, as he had expected and hoped, that that part of the road from the glen of the Warlock which passed the gate of the castle, had been made by the present laird only about thirty years before; whereupon-whether he was within his legal rights or not, I do not know, but everybody knew the laird could not go to law-he gave orders that it should be broken up from the old point of departure, and a dry dyke built across the gate. But the persons to whom the job was committed, either ashamed or afraid, took advantage of an evening on which Cosmo had a class for farm-labourers, to do the work after dark; whence it came that, plodding homewards without a suspicion, he found himself as he approached the gate all at once floundering among stones and broken ground, and presently brought up standing, a man built out from his own house by a mushroom wall-the entrance gone which seemed to him as old as the hills around it, for it was older than his earthly life. With a great shove he hurled half the height of it over, and walking in, appeared before his father in such a rage as bewildered and troubled him far more than any insolence of Lord Lick-my-loof could have done.

"The scoundrel!" cried Cosmo; "I should like to give him a good drubbing-only he's an old man! But I'll make him repent it-and heartily, too!"

"Cosmo, my boy," said the old man, "you are meddling with what does not belong to you."

"I know it's your business, father, not mine; but-"

"It's no more my business than yours, my son!'VENGEANCE IS MINE, SAITH THE LORD.'-An' the best o' 't is," he

went on, willing, by a touch of humour in the truth he had to speak, to help turn the tide of Cosmo's wrath, "he'll tak' no more than's guid for the sinner; whereas yersel', Cosmo, i' the tune ye're in noo, wad damn puir auld Lick-my-loof for ever and ever! Man, he canna hurt me to the worth o' sic a heap o' firin'!" Then changing his tone to absolute seriousness, "Min' ye tu, Cosmo," he went on, "'at the maister never threatent but aye left the thing, whatever it was, to him 'at judges richteously. Ye want nothing but fair play, my son, an' whether ye get it frae Lick-my-loof or no, there's ane winna haud it frae ye. Ye 's get it, my son; ye 's get it! The maister 'll hae a' thing set richt at the lang last; an' gien HE binna in a hurry, we may weel bide. For mysel', the man has smitten me upo' the tae cheek, an' may hae the tither to lat drive at whan he likes. It's no worth liftin' my auld airm to haud aff the smack."

He laughed, and Cosmo laughed too-but grimly and out of tune. Then the laird told him that just that piece of the road was an improvement of his own, and had cost him a good bit of blasting: it used to cross the stream twice before it got to the yard-gate. He hardly thought, he said, that his lordship would like to have to restore it; for, besides the expense, it would cost him so much out of one of his best fields. In the meantime they must contrive how to connect themselves with that part of the road which he dared not touch. The worst of it was that there was no longer any direct communication across the fields with James Gracie's cottage. To follow the road was to make a tremendous round.

Grizzie being already in bed when Cosmo came home, learned nothing that night of the evil news.

At break of day Cosmo was up to see what could be done, and found that a few steps cut in the rocky terraces of the garden would bring one with ease to the road. He set about it immediately, and before breakfast-time had finished the job.

The rage and indignation of Grizzie when she learned what had been done, far surpassed Cosmo's, and served to secure him from any return of the attack. The flood of poetic abuse that she poured out seemed inexhaustible, sweeping along with it tale after tale to the prejudice of "that leein' Lick-my-loof." But, poetic as was her speech, not a single rime did she utter for the space of an hour during which she thus unloaded her heart.

"Ay!" she concluded, and thereafter sank into smouldering silence, "there was a futpath there afore ye was born, laird, blast or no blast; an' to that I can fess them 'at can beir testimony, ane o' them bein' nane ither nor Jeames Gracie himsel', wha's ten lang years aheid o' yer lairdship! an' lat me see man or dog 'at 'll haud me ohn taen my wull o' my richts intil't! They canna hang me, and for less I carena."

The schoolmaster was at length fit to resume his labours, and about a week after the event just recorded, Cosmo ceased to attend the school in his stead.

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