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11l'. ) XXVII.—"KIND IS MY…



DOMLGRANT. BY GEORGE MACDONALD. CHAPTER XXXVII. One evening, as Donal was walking in the park, Davie, who was now advanced to doing a little work without his master's immediate supervision, came running to him to say that Arkie was in the schoolroom and wanted to see him. He hastened to her. I want a word with you without Davie," she said, and Donal sent the boy away. "I have debated with myself ail day whether I should tell you," she began, with a voice that trembled not a little, but I think I shall not be so much afraid to go to bed to-night if I tell you what I dreamt last night." Her face was very pale, and there was a quiver about her mouth it seemed as if she would burst into tears. "Do you think it is very silly to mind one's dreams?" she added. Silly or not, answooed Donal, "as regards the general run of dreams, it is pretty plain you have had one that must be paid some attention to. What we must heed, it cannot be silly to heed. No douot many of our dreams are silly as to their contents, which yet, as dreams, may be note- worthy phenomena." This he added seeking to calm her evident per- turbation with the coolness of the remark. "I am in no mood, I fear, for any philosophy," said Arctura, trying to smile. "This one has taken such a hold of me that I cannot rest till I have told it, and there is no one I could tell it to but yourself. Anyone else would laugh at ma—at least I know Sophia would—but you never laugh at anything—at least any person—I mean unbe- lievingly or unkindly. It will be enough to you that the dream troubles me, and I cannot get it out of my head. I shudder to think of it. I fell asleep as usual, quite well, and no more inclined to dream than truil, except that I had for some days been troubled with the feeling that there was something not right about the house. The dream, however, does not seem to have anything to do with that. I found myself in the midst of a terrible, because most miserable, place. It was like brick-fields—but deserted brick-fields —that had never been of any use. Heaps of bricks were all about, but they were all broken, or only half- burnt. For miles and miles they stretched around me. I walked and walked to get out of it. Not a soul was near me or in sight, nor sign of human habitation from horizon to horizon. All at once I saw before me an old church. It was old, but showed its age only in bsing tumbled down and dirty—it was not in the least venerable. It was very ugly, too—a huge building without any shape, like most of our Scotch churches. I shrunk from the look of it: it was horrible to me I feared it, but I must go in. I went in. It looked as if nobody had crossed its threshold for a hundred years. The pews remained, but were mouldering away the sounding-board had half fallen on the pulpit, and rested its edge on the book-board and the great galleries had tumbled into parts int. the body of the church, and in others hung sloping from the walls. When I had gone in a little way, I saw that the centre of the floor had fallen in, and there was a great, descend- ing, soft-looking slope of earth, mixed and strewn with bits of broken and decayed wood, from the pews that had fallen in when the ground gave way, or it might he from the coffins of the dead, underneath which the gulf had opened. I stood gazing down in horror unutterable. It went down and down—I could not see how far. I stood fasci- nated with the unknown depth, and the feeling of its possible contents when suddenly I perceived that something was moving in the darkness— something dead-somethmg- yellow white. It came nearer, and I saw it was slowly climbing the slope-a. figure as of one dead and stiff, labouring up the steep incline. I would have shrieked, but I could neither cry nor move. At last, when about three yards below m, it nis8d its head it was my uncle—but as if ho had been dead for a week, and all dressed for the grave. He raised his hand and beckoned me—and I knew in my soul that down there I must go, "without question of would or would not. I had to go and I never once thought of resisting— whether from a sense of the mastery of fate, born in me from some unbelieving sire, I cannot tell, but immediately, my heart going down within me like lead, I began the descent. My feet sank in the mould of the ancient dead as 1 went; it was soft as if thousands of grtiveyard moles were for ever burrowing in it; clown and down I went, sinking and sliding with the moving heap of black mould. Then I began to see—I know not how—yon see somehow in dreams without light— I saw the sides and ends of coffins in the earth tha.t made the walls of the gulf, which came closer and closer together, and at length scarcely left me room to get through without touching the coffins. But I sought courage in the thought that these had long been dead, and must by this time be at rest, though my uncle was not, and would not stretch out mouldy hands to lay hold of me. At last. I saw he had got to the very point and bottom of the descent, where it was not possible to go any further, and I stood, more composed than I can understand, and waited." "The wonder is we are so believing in our dreams," said Donal, "and not more terrified." "Then I was able to speak, and I said to my uucle, 'Where are you taking me?' but he gave me no answer. I saw now that he was heaving and pulling a. coffin that seemed to bar up the way in front. I began to think I was dead and con- demned to be there, alive and conscious, nor allowed to go out of my body till the day of the resurrection, because I could not believe that the very same flesh and bones were to rise again. But just as my uncle got the coffin out of the way, I saw a bright silver handle on it, with th«>Morvern crest; and the sams instant the lid of it rose, and one rose out of it, and it was my father, and be looked alive and bright, and my uncle looked be- side him like a corpse beside the soul. What do you want here with my child ?' he said and my uncle seemed to cower before him. This is no place for her,' he said, and took my hand in his and said, Come with me, my child.' And 1 fol- lowed him—oh, so gladly And my fear was all gone, and so was my uncle. He was leading me up where we had come down, but just as we were stepping up, as I thought into the horrible old church, where do you think I found myself ?—in my own room. I looked round me, and no one was near me, and I was very sorry my father was gone, but glad to be in my own room. Then I woke -but not in my bed—standing in the middle of the floor, just where my dream had left me That was the most terrible thing about it. I can- not get rid of the thought that I went somewhere wandering about. I have been haunted the whole day with the terror of it. It keeps coming back and back, so that I am sometimes afraid of going silly with thinking of it." Did your uhcle give you anything ?" asked Donal. I do not see how he could; but that would have Gxpbined it." "Y ou must change your room, and get 1Ir,3 Brookes to sleep near you." "That is just what I should like, but I am ashamed to ask her." "Tell her you had a dreadful dream, and would like to change your room fur a while. You need I not say what It was." I will. I feel almost as if 1 had been poi- soned." Gladly would Donal have offered to sleep, like one of his own old co'leys, on the door-mat to make her feel more safe but that would not do. I Mrs Brookes was the only one to help her. She had her bed moved to another part of the castle altogether, and Mrs Brookes slept in the dressing- room. For Donal, the droam roused strange thoughts in him. He would gladly have asked leave to occupy her room for a while, but he feared there- by to keep Lady Arcfcura's imagination on the stretch, which already seemed overwrought. Make of them what h may," said Donal to himself, man cannot get rid of the element which in our ignorance and outs:deness we call the supernatural—as if anything could be super- natural except the God who is above the nature He had already begun to make some observa- tions towards verifying the existence of the hidden room. But he made them in the quietest way, attracting no attention, and bad already satisfied himself it could not be in this or that part of the castle. It might be in the founda- tions, among the dungeons and cellars, and built up; but legend pointed elsewhere. If he could have had any one, even Davie, to help him, he would have set himself at once to find out what there was to be found out concerning the musical chimney, but that ho could not easily do alone, for ha could not go poking here and there into II every room and examining its chimney without attracting attention, and as to his measurements, such was the total irregularity of a building that had grown through centuries to fit the varying needs and changing tastes of the generations, he found it harder to satisfy himself than he had thought without free scope to go about and make them aad his observations at his leisure, he could not quite succeed. He could carry a good deal in his head, but not so much as he found necessary so great, considered from the point of architecture, was tile seemingly chaotic element in the congeries of erections and additions of different ages, iitted together by various contri- vances more or less ingenious, and with variously invented communication with each other. With- in the castle, besides the two great courts, were [ ♦vUw suaaiiei" spaces for tl admission Q); ligUt I and air, which added to the difficulty; all the principal buildings and many of the stories were of different heights there were partial breaks in the continuity of floors, and various other obstructing irregularities. CHAPTER XXXVIII. The autumn brought terrible storms. Many fishing boats came to grief. Of some, the craws lost everything of other, the Joss of their lives delivered them from the smaller losses. There were many bereaved families in the village, and Donal went about among them, doing what he could, and seeking help for them where his own ability would not reach their necessity. Lady Arctura wanted no persuasion to go with him in many of his visits, and this intercourse with humanity in its simpler forms, of which she had not had enough for the health of her nature, was of the greatest service in her renewed efforts to lay hold upon the skirt of the father of men, for nothing helps many, perhaps all, to believe in God so much as the active practical love of the neighbour. If he who loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, can ill love God whom lie hath not seen, then he who loves his brother, must find it the easier to love God. To visit the widow and the fatherless in their aliiictions; to see and know them as her own kind so to enter into their sorrows, to share in the elevating influence of grief genuine and simple, the same thing in every human soul, Arctura found was to draw near to God. She met Him in His children with- out being able to produce any theological justifica- tion of the fact. She did not yet know that to honour, love, and be just to our neighbour, is to be religious and the man who does so will soon find that he cannot do without that h'gher part of religion, which is the love of God, and without which the rest will sooner or later die away, leav- ing the man the worse for having once had it. She found the path to God the easier that she was now wa king it iu company with her fellows. We do not understand the next page of God's lesson-book we see only the one before us nor shall we be allowed —it is, indeed, impossible we should do it—to turn the leaf until we have learned the lesson of that before us when we understand the one be- fore us, then first are we able to turn the next. The troubles of others now took her so far off her own that, seeing them at a little distance from her, she was better able to understand them, and all the time her soul, being honest, had been growing in capacity to understand. The Perfect Heart could never have created us except to make us wise, loving, obedient, honourable children of our Father in Heaven. One day, after the fishing boats had gone out, there came on a terrible storm. Most of them made for the harbour again—such as it was—and succeeded in gaining shelter, but one boat failed. How much its failure was owing to Lord Forgue and Eppie cannot be said, but Stephen Ken- nedy's boat drifted ashore bottom upward. His body came ashore close to the spot where Donal, half asleep, half awake, dragged the net out of the wave. There was sorrow afresh throughout the village; Kennedy was a favourite; and his mother was left with no son to come sauntering in with his long slough in the gloamin', and with but half a hope of ever seeing him again. For the common Christianity does not go so much farther than paganism towards comforting those whose living loves have disappeared from their gaz-a What Forgue thought I do not know-nothing at all, prooably, as to any share of his in the catastrophe. But I believe it made him care a little less about marrying the girl, now that he had no rival ready to take her. I think perhaps he may have felt that he had one enemy the iess, and one danger the less, in the path he would like to tread. Soon after, he left the Castle, and if his father knew whei e he was, he was the only one who did so. He did not even say good-bye to Arctura. His father had been pressing his desire that he would begin to show some interest in the owner of the Castle he had professed himself unequal to it at present, but said that, if he were away for a while, it would be easier when he returned. The storms were over, and the hedges and hidden roots had begun to dream of spring, when one afternoon Arctura, after Davie was gone, with whom she had been at work in the school- room over some geometry, told Donal her dream had come again. "I cannot bear it," she said. This time I came out not into my own room, but on to the great stair, I thougnt; and I came up the stair to the room I am in now, and got into bed. And the dreadful thing is that Mrs Brookes tells me she saw me standing in the middle of the floor." "Do you imagine you had been out of the room ?" asked Donal, in some dismay. I do not know; I cannot tell. If I were to find that I had been, it would drive me out of my senses, I think. I keep on thinking about the lostrojm and I am almost sure it has something to do with that. When the thought comes to me I try to send it away, but it keeps coming," '1 Woultd it not be better to find the place, and have done with it?" .said Donal. If you think we could," she answered. with- out attracting any attention." If you will help me, I think we cae," he answered. fa at there is such a place I am greatly inclined to believe." "I will help you all I can." Then first, we will make a small experiment upon the shaft of the music-chimney. It has never been used for smoke at all events since these chords were put there. May it not be the chim- ney to the very room? I will get a weight and a strong cord. The wires will be a plague, but I think we can manage to pass them. Then we shall see how far the weight goes down, and shall know on what floor it is arrested. That will be something gained, limiting so far the plane of inquiry. It may not be satisfactory, you know; There may be a turn in it to prevent the weight from, going to the bottom; but it is worth trying." Lady ArctnraseellNd already relieved and brightened by the proposal. "When shall we set about it?" she a-ked. almost eagerly. At once, if you like," said Donal. She went at once to get a shawl, that she might go on the roof with him. They agreed it would still be better not to tell Davie. There should be no danger of their design oozing out. The least hint might give rise to a shrewd guess, and then to a watchful observation, with the true idea tor a guide that would be just as bad as full informa- tion. Donal found a suitable cord in the gardener's tool-house, also a seven-pound weight. But would that pass the wires? He laid it aside, remembering an old eight-day clock on a back stair, which was never going. He hastened to it, and got out its heavier weight, which he felt almost sure might be got through the. cords. These he carried to his own stair, at the foot of which he found Lady Arctura waiting for him. There was that in being thus asssciated with the lovely girl, and in knowing that her peace had begun to grow through him, that she trusted him implicitly, looking to lum for help, and even pro- tection in knowing too that nothing but assault in one senso-and another could be looked lor from uncle or cousin, and that he held in his mind a doubt, a strong doubt of suspicion against them which might one day put in his hand the means of prot cting her, should any undue influence be brought to bear upon her to make her marry Forgue. There was that in all this, I say, that stirred to its depths the devotion of Donal's deeply-devoted nature. With the help of God he would help her to overcome all her enemies, and leave her a free woman—a thing worth any man's doing, if he did no more on this earth, and re- turned to God who sent him Many an angel had been sent on a shorter errand. He would give himself to it, after his duty to Davie. Such were his thoughts as he followed Arctura up the stair, she carrying the weight and the cord, he the ladder, which it was not easy to get round the screw of the stair. Arctura trembled with ex- citement as she ascended, and grew frightened as often as she found she had outstripped him. Then she would wait till she saw tiie end of it come poking round, when she would start again to- wards the top. Her dreams had disquieted her, and she feared at times they might be sent her as a warning. Had she not been taking a way of her own, and choosing a guide instead of accepting the instruc- tion of those whose calling it was to instruct in the way, to lead in the way of understanding? But the moment she found herself in the healthy open air of Donal's company her doubts seemed to vanish. Such a one as he must surely know better than any of those the true way of the spirit Was he not, for one thing, much more childlike, much more straight- forward, simple, and obedient than those ? Doubt- less the truth was the truth and nothing but the truth could be of the smallest final consequence, but was not Donal, at least, as likely to possess the truth as Mr Carmichael ? Older, and pos- sibly more experienced, was he one whose light shone clearer than Donal's. He might be a priest in the temple, "but there was a Samuel in the temple as well as an Eli ? It was the young, strong, ruddy David, the slayer of lien and bear in defence,, of his flock, who was the chosen of God, and sent to kill the giant What, although he could not wear big Saul's armour, he could kill a man too big to put it on. Thus meditated Arettira as she climbed the stair, and her hope and courage grew. If there was in Arctura some tendency to disease, it was the disease that comes of the combustion of over delicate feelings with keen faculties, and these subjected to the rough rasping influences of the coarse, self-satisfied, and unspiritual. Naturally conditioned no one could be sounder than she but the disorder of a headache would be enougn to bring her afresh under the influence of the hideously false systems she had been taugnt, and would wake in her all kinds of pain- ful and deranging doubts and consciousnesses in her. Subjugated as she had been to the untrue, she required for a time, till her spiritual being should be somewhat individualised, strengthened, and settled, by sympathy, to be under the genial influences of one who was not afraid to believe, one individually and immediately under the teaching of the master. Nor was there danger so long as he sought no end of his own, desiring only his will—so long as he could say, Whom is there in heaven but thee? and there is none upon eartn that I desire besides thee By the time she reached the top she was ra- diant, not merely with the exertion of climbing, loaded as she was she was joyous in the pros- pect of a quiet hour with one whose presence and words gave her strength, who made the world < look less mournful, and the will of God altogether beantnul; who taught her that the glory of the father's iove lay in the inexorability of its de- mands, that ItM of his deepest mercy that no one ever can get out without paying the uttermost farthing. She was learning these things-under- stood then not a. little in her best moments. They stepPçd out upnn the roof into the gor- geous afterglow of an autumn sunset. The whole country, like another sea, seemed flowing out from that well of colour, in tidal waves of an ever ad nwcimr creation. It broke on the old roofs and chimneys, splashing its many tinted foam all over them, while folded in ic came a cold tiuu wind that told of coming death, but fused the death and the creation into one, and:,o presented them to the faith of the Christian. She breathed a deep breath, and her joy grew. It is wonderful bow small a physical elevation, lifting us into a thinner, but how little thinner air, serves to raise the tau&sui spirits, We are li; bacpxnaters, only work the other way the higher we go, the higher rises our mercury. They stood for a moment in deep enjoyment, then simultaneously turned to each other. "Iy lady," said Donal, with such a sky as that out there, it hardly seems as if there could be room for such a thing as our search to-night The search into hollow places, hidden of man's hands, does not seem to go with it a.t all. You read there the story of gracious invention and deepest devotion, here the story of greed and self- seeking, which all concealment involves." But there may be nothing, you know, Mr Grant," said Arctura, a little troubled about her ancient house. True; but if we do find such a room, you may be sure it has had to do with terrible wrong, though what we may never find out. I doubt if we shall even discover any traces of it. I hope in any case you will keep a good courage." I shall not be afraid while you are with me," she answered. It is the terrible dreaming that makes me weak. In the morning I tremble as if I had been in the hands of some evil power in the night." Donal turned his eyes upon her. How thin she looked in the last of the sunlight A pang went through him at the thought that one day he might be alone with Davie in the Castle, untended by the consciousness that a living light and love- liness was somewhere—what matter where?— flitting about its gloomy and ungenial walls. But now he would banish the thought. He would not think it. How that dismal Miss Carmichael must have worried her. That was the way they ot the circumcision worried St Paul; only he was able to bear, and able to defend himself from their doctrine. When the very hope of the creature in his creator is attacked in the name of religion when his longing after a living God is met with the offer of a paltry escape from hell, how is the creature to live? It is God we want, not heaven God, not an imputed righteousness; remission, not mere letting off; love, not endurance for the sake of another, even if that other be the one loveliest of all. They turned from the sunset and made their way to the chimney-stack. There once more Donal set up his ladder, and having tied the clock weight to the end of his cord, dropped it in, and with a little management got it through the wires. Then it went down and down, gently lowered till the cord was all out, and still it would go." "Do run and get some more," said Arctura. "Yo do not mind being left alone?" asked Donal. Not if you will not be long," she answered. "I will run," he said-and run he did, for she had scarcely begun to feel the loneliness when he returned panting. Taking the end.she had been holding, he tied on the fresh cord he had brought, and again lowered away. Just as he was beginning to fear that after all he had not brought enough, the weight stopped, resting, and drew no more. "If only we had eyes in that weight," said Arctura, "like those the snails have at the end of their horns." We might have greased the weight," said Donal, as they do the sea-lead to know what kind of thing is at the bottom. It would be something to see whether it brought up ashes. I will move it up and down a little, and if it will not go any farther, I will mark the string at the mouth, and draw it up." He did so. "Now we must mark off it on the height of the chimney above the parapet wall," said Donal; and now I will lower tho weight into the little court, until this last knot comes to the wall: then we shall know how far down the height of the bouse it went inside it. Ah, I thought so he went on, looking over, "only to the first floor, or thereabouts. No, I think it is lower. But you see, my lady, the place with which the chimney, if chimney it be, communicates is somewhere about the middle of the house, and it may be on the first floor we can't judge very well here. Can you imagine what place it might be ?" "I cannot," answered Lady Arctura, "but I will go to every room to-morrow, or this evening perhaps." "Then I will draw the weight up, and let it down the chimney again as far as it will go, and there leave it for you to see, if you can, somewhere below. If you find it, then we must leave the chimney, and try another plan." j It was done, and they descended together. Donal went back to the schoolroom, not expecting to see Lady Arctura before the next day. But in half an hour she came to him, saying she had been into every room on the floor and its adjoining levels, but had failed to see the wight in any chimney. The probability then is," said Donal, that somewhere thereabout lies the secret; bnt we cannot be sure, for the weight may never have reached the bottom of the shaft, but be resting at some angle in its course. Now let us think what we shall do next." As he spoke he placed a chair for her by the fire. Davie was not there, and they had the room to themselves. (To he continued.)

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