Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of hesitation, "had-a daughter, if voice, to the changed and altered

— I remember right.”

being he was. The bitterness of the you remember right! Susie discovery was over. She knew more Logan, that you played with when or less what to expect of him now, you were both bairns—that grew as she had known what to expect up with you—that I once thought of the boyish Robbie of old; and,

— -a daughter! Well I wot, and indeed, this man who was made you too, that he had a daughter.” up of so many things that were

“Well, mother," he said, sub- new to her had thrown a strange and dued, “I remember very well, if painful light on the Robbie of old, that will please you better. Susie : whom during so many years she yes, that was her name. And had made into an ideal of all that Susie-I suppose

she is married was hopeful and beautiful in youth. long ago ?”

She remembered now, yet was so They are meaning," said Mrs unwilling to remember. She was Ogilvy, with an intonation of scorn, very patient, but patient as she " to marry her now.

was, there were some things, some " What does that mean to little things, which she found hard marry her now? Do you mean to bear; as for instance about Susie she has never married — Susie ? -Susie : that she was a pretty girl, And why? She must be old but must be old now, and had now," he said, with a half laugh. probably lost her looks,—was that

I suppose she has lost her looks. all that Robert Ogilvy knew of And had no man the sense to see Susie? It gave her a sharp pang she was--well, a pretty girl—when of anger, in spite of her great she was a pretty girl ?”

patience, in spite of herself. “If that was all you thought

It took her some time to find she was !” said Mrs Ogilvy-even

what Janet wanted. She was not her son was not exempted from her very sure what it was.

She opened disapproval where Susie was con- two or three cupboards, and with cerned. She paused again, how- a vague look went over their conever, and said, more softly, “ It has tents, trying to remember. Pernot been for want of opportunity. haps it was nothing of importance The man that wants her now wanted after all. She went down again her at twenty. She has had her to the parlour at last, to resume reasons, no doubt.”

any conversation he pleased, or to “Reasons—against taking a hus- listen to whatover he might tell band ? I never heard there were her, or to be silent and wait till any—in a woman's mind.” he might again be disposed to

“There are maybe more things talk; passing by the kitchen on in heaven and earth—than you just her way first to tell Janet that she have the best information upon," had forgotten what it was she had she said.

promised to get for her: but if she She thought it expedient after would wait a little, the first time this to go up-stairs a little, to look she went up-stairs,—and then the for something Janet wanted, she mistress returned to her drawingexplained. Sometimes there were room by the other way, coming small matters which affected her through the back passage.

She more than the greater ones. The had not heard any one

come to early terrible impression of him was the front door. wearing a little away. She had got But when she went into the used to his new aspect, to his new room she saw a strange sight. In

[ocr errors]

the doorway opposite to her stood dew. There rose in Susie's face a a familiar figure, which had always look of infinite pity, of a tenderbeen to Mrs Ogilvy like sunshine ness like that of a mother at the and the cheerful day, always wel- sight of a suffering child. Oh, come, always bringing a little more tender than me, more like a brightness with her-Susie Logan, mother than me ! said to herself in her light summer dress, a soft the mother who was looking on. transparent shadow on her face And then there came from Susie's from the large brim of her hat, bosom a long deep sigh, and the every line of her figure express- tears brimmed over from her eyes. ing the sudden pause, the arrested She stepped back noiselessly from movement of a great surprise and the door and closed it behind her; wonder, — nothing but wonder as but stood outside, making no furyet. She stood with her lips apart, ther movement, unable in her great one foot advanced to come in, her surprise and emotion to do more. hand upon the door as she had There Mrs Ogilvy found her a opened it, her eyes Jarge with moment after, when, closing softly, astonishment. She was gazing at as Susie had done, the other door him, where he half sat, half lay, upon the sleeper, she went round in the great chair, his long legs trembling to the little hall, in which stretched half across the room, his Susie stood trembling too, with her head laid back. He had fallen hand upon her breast, where her asleep in the drowsy afternoon, heart was beating so high and loud. after the early dinner, with the They took each other's hands, but newspaper spread out upon his for a moment said nothing. Then knee. He had nothing to do, Susie, with the tears coming fast, there was not much in the paper: said under her breath,

You never there was nothing to wonder at told me !” in an indescribable tone in the fact that he had fallen of reproach and tenderness. asleep. His mother, to whom it Mrs Ogilvy led her into the other always gave a pang to see him room, where they sat down todo so, had explained it to herself gether. “You knew him, Susie, as many times as it happened in you knew him?” she said. this way ; and there sprang up

“ Knew him !—what would hininto her eyes the ready challenge, der me to know him ?" Susie rethe instant defence. Why should plied, with the same air of that he not sleep? IIe had had plenty, offence and grievance which was oh plenty, to weary him; he was more tender than love itself. but new

come home, where he “Oh, me ! I was not like that," could rest at his pleasure. But the mother cried. She remembered this warlike explanation died out her first horror of him, with horror of her as she watched Susie's face, at herself. She that was his mother, who as yet saw nobody but this flesh of his flesh, and bone of his strange sleeper in possession of the bone. And here was Susie, that

The wonder in it changed had neither trouble nor doubt. from moment to moment; it changed " To think I should come in into a gleam of joy, it clouded over thinking about nothing-thinking with a sudden trouble : there came about my own small concerns—and a quiver to her soft lip, and some- find him there as innocent! like a thing liquid to her eyes, more tired bairn. And me perhaps the liquid, more soft than their usual only one,” said Susie," never to lucid light, which was like the have heard a word ! though the oldest friend—I do not mind the her looks ; it was he who had lost time I did not know Robbie,” she his looks. Mrs Ogilvy's heart sank, cried, with that keen tone of in- as she thought how completely jury; "it began with our life.” those looks were lost, and of the


Here was the difference. He unfavourable aspect of that heavy too had admitted that he remem- sleep, and the attitude of drowsy bered her very well—a pretty girl ; abandonment in the middle of the

ut she must be old now, and have busy day. But Susie was conscious lost her looks. Susie had not lost of none of these things.



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The day after this was one of the moment when he could say or do days on which Robert chose to go nothing to diminish or spoil her to Edinburgh, which were days his tender recollection. None of those mother dreaded, though no harm things that vexed the soul of his that she could specify came of mother affected Susie. The maturthem. He had not seen Susie on ity of the man, so different from that afternoon, but was angry and the boy; the changed tone; the put out when he heard of her visit, different way of regarding all around and that she had seen him asleep him; the indifference to everything, in his chair. “You might have —all these were hidden from her. saved me from that," he said, The only thing unfavourable she angrily ; you need not have made had seen of him was his personal an exhibition of me.” “I did not appearance, and that had not struck know, Robbie, that she was there.” Susie as unfavourable. The long, “It is the same thing," he cried : soft, brown beard, so abundant and you keep all your doors and win- well grown, had been beautiful to dows open, in spite of everything I her; his size, the large development say. What's that but making an of manhood, had filled her with a exhibition of me, that am some- half pride, half respect. Pride! thing new, that anybody that for did not Robbie, her oldest likes may come and stare at ?” friend, more or less belong to Susie She thought he had reason for his too. She had dreamt already of annoyance, though it was no fault walking about Eskholm with him, of hers : and it pleased her that he happy and proud in his return, in should be angry at having been the falsification of all malicious seen by Susie in circumstances so prophecies to the contrary. He unfavourable. Was not that the was her oldest friend, her playbest thing for him to be roused to fellow from her first recollection. a desire to appear at his best, not There was nothing more wanted his worse ? He went to Edinburgh to justify Susie's happy excitenext day in the afternoon, after the ment her satisfaction in his early dinner. There was no ques- return. tion put to him now as to when he “And he is away to Edinburgh, should be back.

and has never come to see us ! During that afternoon Susie came That is not like Robbie,” she cried, again, and was much disappointed with a trace of vexation in her eyes. and cast down not to see him. “Susie, I will tell you and no Perhaps it was well that Susie's other the secret, if it is a secret first sight of him had been at a still. He had fallen into ill com

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

on :


pany, as I always feared, in that fast to him, and never let him weary, far America."

go.” “How could he help it ? " cried “I am not surprised," said Susie, Susie, ready to face the world in

very pale, and with her head high. his defence, “young as he was,

“For Robbie would never betray and nobody to guide him.” him. He would never fail one

“ That is true; and we that live that trusted in him.” in a quiet country, and much " And the terror in his heart is favoured and defended on every -oh, he says little to me, but I can side, we know nothing of the law- divine it !—the terror in his heart is lessness that is there. You will that this man will come after him read even in the very papers, Susie : here." they think no more of drawing a

“From America !” said Susie ; pistol than a gentleman here does “so far, so far away.of taking his stick when he goes “It is not so far but that you can out for a walk."

come in a week or a fortnight,” said Susie nodded her head in ac- Mrs Ogilvy ; “you or me would say, quiescence, and Mrs Ogilvy went impossible : but naturally he is the

“ Where that's the custom, one that knows best. And he does harm will come. Men with pistols not think it is impossible. He makes in their hands like that, that some- us bolt all the windows and lock times go off, even when it's not in- the doors as soon as the sun goes tended, as you may also read in down. Susie, this is what is hangthe papers every day

ing over us. How can he go and Susie! it happened that there was see his friends, or let them know he an accident. How can we tell at is here, or take the good of coming this long distance, and so little as home—with this hanging over him we know their manners and their night and day ?” ways, the rights of it all, and what The colour had all gone out of meaning there was in it, or if there Susie's face. She put an arm round was any meaning ! But a shot her old friend, and gave her a tremwent off, and a man was killed. I I bling almost convulsive embrace. am used to it now," said Mrs And you to have this to bear after Ogilvy, her lip quivering, her all the rest !”

” face appealing in every line to the “Me!” said Mrs Ogilvy; younger woman at her side not is thinking of me? It is an ease to oh! not—to condemn him; “but my mind to have said it out. You at the first moment I was as one were the only one I could speak to, that had no more life. The stain Susie, for you will think of him of blood may be upon my son's just as I do. You will excuse him hand.”

and forgive him, and explain it all "No, no !” cried Susie. “No, within yourself- -as I do-as I I will not believe it—not him, of must do." all that are in the world !”

“Excuse him!” cried Susie ; “God bless you,

that will I not! but be proud of dear, that is just the truth! But him, because he's faithful to the man the shot came out of the band, he in trouble, whoever he may be !” among them. There is another man Mrs Ogilvy did not say, even to that was at the head who is likely Susie, that it was not faithfulness

And he is like Robbie, but panic that moved Robert, and the same height, and so forth. And that all his anxiety was to keep the he has kept hold of him, and kept man in trouble at arm's - length.

66 who

my bonnie

the man.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Even in confessing what was his us have done that, and more than problematical guilt and danger, it that, for folk in trouble, many a was still the first thing in her day. thoughts that Robbie should have " But not for the shedder of the best of it whatever the position blood," said Mrs Ogilvy. might be. They were walking up “They were all shedders of and down together on the level path blood,” cried Susie ; " there was not in front of the house—now skirting one side nor the other with clean the holly hedges, now brushing the hands—and our fore-mothers helped boxwood border that made a green them all, whichever were the ones edge to the flowers. Susie had come that were pursued : and so would I with perplexities of her own to lay any man that stood between you before her friend, but they all fled and peace. If he were as bad a from her mind in face of this greater man as ever lived, I would help revelation. What did it matter him to get away.” about Susie ? Whatever came to “We must not go so far as that, her, it would be but she who was Susie. We will hope that nothing in question, and she could bear it will need to be done. Robbie and

- but Robbie! Me! who is think- me, we will just keep very quiet till ing of me? she said to herself, as all this trouble blows over. I have Mrs Ogilvy had said it, with a proud a confidence that it will blow over, contempt of any such petty subject. said Mrs Ogilvy, with a shadow in It was not the spirit of self-sacrifice, her eyes which belied her words. the instinct of unselfishness, as “ Certainly it will,” cried Susie, people are pleased to call such senti- with an intensity of assent which, ments. I am afraid there was per- though she knew so little, yet haps a little pride in it, perhaps a comforted the elder woman's heart. subtle self-confidence that whatever And Susie once more left her one had to fear in one's own person, friend without saying a word of what did it matter? one would be the anxieties which were becoming equal to it. But Robbie- What more and more urgent in her own blood could be shed, what ordeal life. She had not yet been told dared to keep it from him !

what was the true state of the case, “ You will feel now that I am but many alarms had filled her always ready,” said Susie, “to do mind, terrors which she would not anything, if there is anything to acknowledge to herself. It did not do. You will send for me at any seem credible that she should be moment. If it were to take a mes- dethroned from her own household sage, if it were to send a letter, place, which she had filled so long, if it were to go to Edinburgh for to make way for a stranger, any news, if it were to-hide the strange woman,” as Susie, like Mrs

Ogilvy, said ; nor that the children 66 Susie !"

should be taken out of her hands, * And wherefore not? it's not ours and her home be no longer hers. to punish. I know nothing about But all other apprehensions and him: but to save Robbie and you, alarms had been confusedly deepor only to help you, what am I ened and increased, she could caring I would put my arm scarcely tell how, by the sudden through the place of the bolt, like interference of her father in beKatherine Douglas for King James. half of an old lover long ago reAnd why should I not hide a man jected, whose repeated proposals in trouble? Them that went before had become the jest of the family,


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »