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BERTRAM; OR, THE HEIR OF PENDYNE.
THE shops being closed on the Sunday morning, there was no seeking for the letter so earnestly sighed for on the preceding days. It would not do for such as they to be troubling the postmaster to open his door; but Monday would come, and hope had revived in the heart of Annette. She had felt better since the kind Doctor had paid his visit, and the fainting or convulsion fits had ceased. No second visit had been paid to her; but suitable medicine--the first since Annette's illness came onhad modified the distressing symptoms.
'But you're dressed in your gown, Mother,' cried Robin suddenly, when all the tale was told. “How much better you must be.'
'I was better, and so I tried it, dear,' replied Annette, with a half smile.
Oh, so you are up! exclaimed the old woman, putting her head in at the door. “I'm glad of it, for we are all off to-morrow morning, and very early too.
Annette burst into tears.
• It's of no use to try and come over me like that. The others are gone, and we can't separate for ever. As soon as it is light, we go. What have the children brought ?'
'Give it to Granny, Robin. Three and seven-pence. But oh, you will not go away to-morrow! So very soon.'
So very late, you mean; but certainly no later.'
“Then, Robin dear, run to the post, and say why you trouble them to-day.'
‘Don't say any such thing,' cried Granny, very angrily. "You'll get us into the newspapers, I tell you, with your acquaintances.'
" Then say you hope they'll excuse you, Robin. And then go on to the Doctor's, (in a whisper,) and ask him for one bottle more of the medicine, if he will be so kind as to let me have it.'
Granny had already quitted the van. Her visits were usually very short, though long enough for the comfort of the other inmates. Annette held Robin's hand, to keep him for a moment.
*Stay, Robin, I must think of something. Wait, I am not sure that I can think now. Let us have dinner, and you shall go into Westerleigh afterwards.'
‘Oh! if I were but able to do it,' continued Annette to herself. ‘But where shall I find them? Perhaps they are all dead, and my wicked deeds upon my head for ever. They would know, but no one else would ever believe me. Strangers would only say that I had made up a tale to serve my children. And I cannot_no, I cannot tell these darlings, to bring down their hatred in exchange for love.
Alas! what would they think of me? They shall know nothing, until
She stopped and remained silently thinking, while the children made ready the simple fare. After this brief space, she called them to her, and took a hand of each.
Now, dears, you have seen that something troubles me, and that I am anxious about a letter that does not come. Something does indeed trouble me very much, and I cannot at present tell you what it is. Some day you shall know. And now you will be quite surprised at what I am going to say. I am going to take you both up to London with me by the coach !
They were indeed surprised, and they were pleased; but from both came the frightened exclamation, 'Granny !' * Granny does not know. I must tell her to-night-not that we are going to London, but that we shall not go with her. They will be off very early, but she cannot make us go with her; and we can carry the box between us to Westerleigh after they are gone.'
And how can you pay the coach, Mother ?' “I have some money, dears; I have kept it a long time in case we ever went away.' • Mother, when did you get money ?' asked Robin.
Long ago-before you were born, some of it, Robin. But now listen to me. I shall take a few things, and a parcel directed to my sister, Mrs. Sutton, Rays Cottage, Wisham. If anything should happen to me-' the children clung to her—you must go to her, and take the parcel with you. I shall put into the post, to-morrow, a letter which I am going to write to her about it. Do you understand me, Robin ? If I were to die-don't cry, silly ones, you know I am better; but if I were to die, do not wait even for me to be buried, but go off directly to Mrs. Sutton, and be sure never to be parted from the parcel, nor let anybody open it. You can find my money, I keep it in my box; you must take it, and go. Will you promise ? You need not cry, dears, because I am better ; but promise me this, or I shall not be happy.' • “Yes, Mother, I promise,' said Robin gravely.
And I promise too,' cried the little girl. "Very well, dears, that is right. I shall be too tired, I believe, to write to-night; but you must call me to-morrow when the early bell rings. I will do it before the coach time, or perhaps when we get to London. Now ask if Granny will come and eat her dinner with ours.'
And Granny came. The meal was a silent one, and Annette could scarcely keep herself up for it. She was already wearied out with her thinking, and with her conversation with the children; agitated also at the idea of what must be said to Granny, as soon as dinner was over.
And the moment soon came. 'Go out, dears; you can both go together into the town.' And Robin and Amy disappeared.
After a short pause-- You are quite decided about going to-morrow ?' 'Yes, quite. I said so. I don't change.'
Then I cannot come with you, indeed. You must leave me here for a few days with the children.'
'If you stay here, you stay by yourself,' replied Madge, doggedly. • And we shall be farther off than Riversfield, some of us, and hard to find again, that's all. Stay if you like.'
• The children will stay with me,' replied Annette firmly.
"No! you wicked mean-spirited creature,' cried the old woman, striking her hand violently upon the box which served for a table. Don't I know what you are after with your stopping behind for your few days ? And I say you shall not do it. Haven't you tried it before ? but you didn't get far.'
“Yes, I did try it. More shame for you to stop me when he threatened the children.'
'If you dare to try it again, I'll have you transported ! raved out Madge. 'I'll tell the story, not you. You dare to lay it upon me and my son! I'll lay it upon you, first and last, I will.'
• You cannot frighten me now, Granny. I have decided. And I will never do you any harm. I am too miserable to care what you get done to me.'
• Once try to give me the slip, and you don't see the children again in a hurry, that's all,' continued the old woman in her fury. "They shall have a good home or a bad one somewhere. And I'll declare you've hid them, not I. I'll—'
I'm too ill for all this,' said Annette, trembling in her weakness. 1 can't bear it indeed.'
"You're not too ill for your tricks, though,' retorted Madge savagely. “I know you. Take care what you do. All the worse for them-mind that.'
She rose as she was speaking, and dashing out of the van, she closed the door with a violence suited to the evil temper she was indulging.
Whatever things were to have been done that evening, were certainly left unfinished; for as soon as the van had ceased shaking, Annette crept to her pallet, and all power even to raise a hand seemed to have left her. We must leave her to her painful stillness for the present.
(To be continued.)
THE CAGED LION.
THE GUEST OF GLENUSKIE.
A MASTER hand has so often described the glens and ravines of Scotland, that it seems vain and presumptuous to meddle with them, and yet we must ask our readers to figure to themselves a sharp cleft sloping downwards to a brawling mountain stream, the sides scattered with grey rocks of every imaginable size, interspersed here and there with heather, gorse, or furze. Just in the widest part of the valley, a sort of platform of rock jutted out from the hill side, and afforded a station for one of those tall, narrow, grim-looking fastnesses, that were the strength of Scotland, as well as her bane.
Either by nature or art, the rock had been scarped away on three sides, so that the walls of the castle rose sheer from the steep descent, except where the platform was connected with the mountain side, by, as it were, an isthmus joining the peninsula to the main rock; and even this isthmus, a narrow ridge of rock just wide enough for the passage of a single horse, had been cut through, no doubt with great labour, and rendered impassable, except by the lowering of a draw-bridge. Glenuskie Castle was thus nearly impregnable, so long as it was supplied with water, and for this all possible provision had been made, by guiding a stream into the court.
The castle was necessarily narrow and confined, its massive walls took up much even of the narrow space that the rock afforded; but it had been so piled up that it seemed as though the builders wished to make height compensate for straitness. There was, too, an unusual amount of grace, both in the outline of the gateway with its mighty flanking towers, and of the lofty donjon tower, that shot up like a great finger above the Massy More, as the main building was commonly called by the inhabitants of Glenuskie.
Wondrous as were the walls, and deep set as were the arches, they all had that peculiar slenderness of contour that Scottish taste seemed to have learnt from France; and a little more space was gained at the top, both of the gateway towers and the donjon, by a projecting cornice of beautifully vaulted arches supporting a battlement, that gave the building a crowned look. On the topmost tower was of course planted the ensign of the owner, and that ensign was no other than the regal ruddy Lion of Scotland, ramping on his gold field within his tressure flory and counter flory, but surmounted by a label divided into twelve, and placed upon a pennoncel, or triangular piece of silk. The eyes of the early fifteenth century easily deciphered such hieroglyphics as these, which to every one with the least tincture of the noble science,' indicated that the owner of the castle was of royal Stewart blood, but of a younger branch, and not yet admitted to the rank of knighthood.
The early spring of the year 1421 was bleak and dreary in that wild lonely vale, and large was the fire burning on the hearth in the castle hall, in the full warmth of which there sat, with a light blue cloth cloak drawn tightly round him, a tall old man, of the giant mould of Scotland, and with a massive thoughtful brow, whose grand form was rendered visible by the absence of hair, only a few remnants of yellow locks mixed with silver, floating from his temples to mingle with his magnificent white beard. A small blue bonnet, with a short eagle feather, fastened with a brooch of river pearl, was held in the hands that were clasped over his face, as, bending down in his chair, he murmured through his white beard, ‘Have mercy, good Lord, have mercy on the land. Have mercy on my son, and guard him when he goes out and when he comes in. Have mercy on the children I have toiled for, and teach me to judge and act for them aright in these sore straits; and above all, have mercy on our King, break his fetters, and send him home to be the healer of his land, the avenger of her cruel wrongs.'
So absorbed was the old man, that he never heard the step that came across the hall. It was a slightly unequal step, but was carefully hushed at entrance, as if supposing the old man asleep; and at a slow pace the new comer crossed the hall to the chimney, where he stood by the fire, warming himself and looking wistfully at the old knight.
He was wrapped in a plaid, black and white, which increased the grey appearance of the pale sallow face, and sad expression of the wearer, a boy of about seventeen, with soft pensive dark eyes, and a sickly complexion, with that peculiar wistful cast of countenance that is apt to accompany deformity, though there was no actual malformation apparent, unless such might be reckoned the slight halt in the gait, and the small stature of the lad, who was no taller than many boys of twelve or fourteen. But there was a depth of melancholy in those dark brown eyes, that went far into the heart of anyone who had the power to be touched with their yearning, appealing, almost piteous gaze, as though their owner had come into a world that was much too hard for him, and were looking out in bewilderment and entreaty for some haven
He had stood for some minutes looking thoughtfully into the fire, and the sadness of his expression ever deepening, before the old man raised his face, and said, “You here, Malcolm ? where are the others ?'
‘Patie and Lily are still on the turret-top, fair Uncle,' returned the boy. “It was so cold;' and he shivered again, and seemed as though he would creep into the fire.
And the reek ?' asked the uncle.
“There is another reek broken out farther west,' replied Malcolm. 'Patie is sure now that it is as you deemed, Uncle; that it is a cattlelifting from Badenoch.'