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Doom had the chance to see anything of the big brave outer world of heat and enterprise. This gallant revived ungovernably the remembrances he for ever sought to stifle—all he had been and all he had seen, now past and gone for ever, as Annapla did not scruple to tell him when the demands of her Gift or a short temper compelled her. His boyhood in the dear woods, by the reedy river-banks, in the hill-clefts where stags harboured, on a shore for ever sounding with the enchanting sea-oh, sorrow! how these things came before him. The gentle mother with the wan beautiful face, the eager father looking ardent out to sea — they were plain to view. And then St Andrews, when he was a bejant of St Leonard's, roystering with his fellows, living the life of youth with gusto, but failing lamentably at the end; then the despondency of those scanty acres and decayed walls; his marriage with the dearest woman in the world, Death at the fireside, the bairn crying at night in the arms of her fosterer; his journeys abroad, the short hour of glory and forgetfulness with Saxe at Fontenoy and Laffeldt, to be followed only by these weary years of spoliation by law, of oppression by the usurping Hanoverian.
A done man! Only a poor done man of middle age, and the fact made all the plainer to himself by contrast with his guest, alert and even gay upon a fiery embassy of retribution.
It was exactly the hour of midnight by a clock upon the mantel; a single candle, by which he had made a show of reading, was guttering all to a side and an ungracious end in a draught that came from some cranny in the ill-seamed ingle-walls, for all that the night seemed windless. A profound stillness wrapped all; the night was huge outside, with the sea dead-flat to moon and pulsing star.
He shook off his vapours vexatiously, and, as he had done on the first night of Count Victor's coming, he went to his curious orisons at the door-the orisons of the sentimentalist, the home-lover Back
thff his vapon and Duhuge outsind still
he drew the bars softly, and looked at the world that ever filled him with yearning and apprehension, at the draggled garden, at the sea with its roadway strewn with golden sand all shimmering, at the mounts-Ben Ime, Ardno, and Ben Artair, haughty in the night.
Then he shut the doors reluctantly, stood hesitating-more the done man than ever-in the darkness of the entrance, finally hurried to save the guttering candle. He lit a new one at its expiring flame and left the salle. He went, not to his bed-chamber but to the foot of the stair that led to the upper flats, to his daughter's room, to the room of his guest, and to the ancient chapel. With infinite caution he crept round and round on the narrow corkscrew stair, at any step it might have been a catacomb cell.
He listened at the narrow corridor leading to his Olivia's room; he paused, too, for a second, at Montaiglon's door. None gave sign of life. He went up higher.
A storey over the stage on which Count Victor slumbered, the stair ended abruptly at an oaken door, which he opened with a key. As he entered, a wild flurry of wings disturbed the interior, and by the light of the candle and some venturing rays of the moon a flock of bats or birds were to be seen in precipitous flight through unglazed windows and a broken roof.
Doom placed his candle in a niche of the wall and went over to an ancient armoire or chest, which seemed to be the only furniture of what had apparently once been the chapel of the castle, to judge from its size and the situation of an altar-like structure at the east end.
He unlocked the heavy lid, threw it open, looked down with a sigh at its contents, that seemed, in the light of the candle, nothing wonderful. But a suit of Highland clothes and some of the more martial appurtenances of the lost Highland state, including the dirk that had roused Montaiglon's suspicion !
He drew them out hurriedly upon the floor, but yet with an affectionate tenderness, as if they were the relics of a sacristy, and with eagerness substituted the gay tartan for his dull mulberry Saxon habiliments. It was like the creation of a man from a lay-figure. The jerk at the kilt-belt buckle somehow seemed to brace the sluggish spirit; his shoulders found their old square set above a wellcurved back, his feet — his knees — by an instinct took a graceful poise they had never learned in the mean immersement of breeches and Linlithgow boots. As he fastened his buckled brogues, he hummed the words of MacMhaister Allaster's song:
“Oh! the black-cloth of the Saxon,
Dearer far's the Gaelic tartan !” “Hugh Bethune 's content with the waistcoat, is he?” he said to himself. “He is no Gael to be so easily pleased, and him with a freeman's liberty! And yet-and yet-I would be content myself to have the old stuff only above my heart."
He assumed the doublet and plaid, drew down upon his brow a bonnet with an eagle plume; turned him to the weapons. The knife—the pistols -the dirk, went to their places, and last he put his hand upon the hilt of a sword—not a claymore, but the weapon he had worn in the foreign" field. As foolish a piece of masquerade as ever a child had found entertainment in, and yet, if one could see it, with some great element of pathos and of dignity. For with every item of the discarded and degraded costume of his race he seemed to put on a grace not there before, a manliness, a spirit that had lain in abeyance with the clothes in that mothy chest. It was no done man who eagerly trod the floor of the ruined chapel, no lack-lustre failure of life, but one complete, commingling action with his sentiment. He felt the world spacious about him again; a summons to ample fields beyond the rotting woods and the sonorous shore of Doom. The blood of his
And yote old stuff on doublet and als
folk, that had somehow seemed to stay about his heart in indolent clots, began to course to every extremity, and gave his brain a tingling clarity, the wholesome intoxication of the perfect man.
He drew the sword from its scabbard, joying hugely in the lisp of the steel, at its gleam in the candle-light, and he felt anew the wonder of one who had drunk the wine of life and venture to its lees.
He made with the weapon an airy academic salute à la Gerard and the new school of fence, thrust swift in tierce like a sun-flash in forest after rain, followed with a parade, and felt an expert's ecstasy. The blood tingled to his veins; his eyes grew large and flashing ; a flush came to that cheek, for ordinary so wan. Over and over again he sheathed the sword, and as often withdrew it from its scabbard. Then he handled the dirk with the pleasure of a child. But always back to the sword, handled with beauty and aplomb, always back to the sword, and he had it before him, a beam of fatal light, when something startled him as one struck unexpectedly by a whip.
There was a furious rapping at the outer door!
The rap that startled Doom in the midst of his masquerade in the chapel of his house, came like the morning beat of drums to his guest a storey lower. Count Victor sprang up with a certainty that trouble brewed, dressed with speed, and yet with the coolness of one who has heard alarums on menaced frontiers; took his sword in hand, hesitated, remembered Olivia, and laid it down again; then descended that dark stair that seemed the very pit of hazards.
A perturbing silence had succeeded the noisy summons on the oak, and Mungo, with a bold aspect well essayed, but in no accord with the tremor of his knees and the pallor of his countenance, stood, in dragging pantaloons and the gaudy Kilmarnock cap cocked upon his bald head, at the stair-foot with a flambeau in his hand. He seemed hugely relieved to have the company of Count Victor.
“Noo, wha the deevil can we ha'e here at sic an unearthly oor o'nicht,” said he, trying a querulous tone befitting an irate sentinel ; but the sentence trailed off unconvincingly, because his answer came too promptly in another peremptory summons from without.
“ Lord keep 's !” whispered the little man, no longer studying to sustain his martial rôle. He looked