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puzzle in the clan his games in the bn, Count ead its Share and finisheaded bush the aft
Scotland by just such a hint at romance as never failed to fascinate a Montaiglon, and he must be puzzling himself about the dulcet singer and her share in the clandestine midnight meeting. When he had finished his game with his host, and the latter had pleaded business in the burgh as an excuse for his absence in the afternoon, Count Victor went round Doom on every side trying to read its mystery. While it was a house whose very mortar must be drenched with tradition, whose every window had looked upon histories innumerable worth re-telling, nothing was revealed of the matter in hand.
Many rooms of it were obviously unoccupied, for in the domestic routine of the Baron and of Mungo and the lady of song there were two storeys utterly unoccupied, and even in the flats habited there were seemingly chambers vacant, at least ever unopened and forlorn. Count Victor realised, as he looked at the frowning and taciturn walls, that he might be in Doom a twelvemonth and have no chance to learn from that abstracted scholar, its owner, one-half of its interior economy.
From the ground he could get no clear view of the woman's window: that he discovered early, for it was in the woman he sought the key to all Doom's little mystery. He must, to command the window, climb to his own chamber in the tower, and even then it was not a full front view he had but a foreshortened glance at the side of it and the signal, if any more signalling there might be. He never entered that room without a glance along the sunlit walls; he never passed the mouth of that corridor on the half landing where his candle had blown out without as curious a scrutiny as goodbreeding might permit. And nothing was disclosed.
Mungo pervaded the place-Mungo toiling in the outhouses at tasks the most menial, feeding the half-dozen moulting poultry, digging potatoes in the
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patch of garden or plucking colewort there, climbing the stairs with backets of peat or wood, shaking a table-cloth to the breeze; and in the salle the dark and ruminating master indulging his melancholy by rebuilding the past in the red ash of the fire, or looking with pensive satisfaction from his window upon the coast, a book upon his knee—that was Doom as Count Victor was permitted to know it.
He began at last to doubt his senses, and half believe that what he had heard on the night of his arrival had been some chimera — a dream of a wearied and imperilled man in unaccustomed surroundings.
Mungo saw him walk with poorly concealed curiosity about the outside of the stronghold, and smiled to himself as one who knows the reason for a gentleman's prying. Montaiglon caught that smile once: his chagrin at its irony was blended with a pleasing delusion that the frank and genial domestic might proffer a solution without indelicate questioning. But he was soon undeceived: the discreet retainer knew but three things in this world—the grandeur of war, the ancient splendour of the house of Doom, and the excellent art of absent-mindedness. When it came to the contents of Doom, Mungo Boyd was an oyster.
“ It must have been a place of some importance in its day,” said Count Victor, gazing up at the towering walls and the broken embrasures.
“ And what is't yet?” demanded Mungo, jealously, with no recollection that a moment ago he had been mourning its decline.
“ Eh bien! It is quite charming, such of it as I have had the honour to see; still, when the upper stages were habitable " and Count. Victor mentally cursed his luck that he must fence with a bluntwitted scullion.
“Oh ay! I'll allo' I've seen it no' sae empty, if that's what ye mean; but if it's no' jist Dumbarton or Dunedin, it's still auld bauld Doom, and an ill deevil to crack, as the laddie said that found the nutmeg."
.“ But surely," conceded Montaiglon, “and yet, and yet—have you ever heard of Jericho, M. Boyd ? Its capitulation was due to so simple a thing as the playing of a trumpet or two."
" I ken naething aboot trumpets,” said Mungo curtly, distinguishing some arrière pensée in the interrogator.
“ Fi donc ! and you so much the old sabreur ! Perhaps your people marched to the flageolet-a seductive instrument, I assure you."
The little man betrayed confusion. “Annapla thrieps there's a ghaistly flageolet aboot Doom," said he, “but it'll hae to play awa' lang or the wa's o' oor Jericho fa',—they're seeven feet thick."
“He plays divinely this ghostly flageoleteer, and knows his Handel to a demi-semi-quaver,” said Count Victor, coolly.
“O Lord ! lugs!' I told them that !” muttered Mungo.
“Naething; we're a' idiots noo and then, and and I maun awa' in.”
So incontinently he parted from Count Victor, who, to pass the afternoon, went walking on the mainland highway. He walked to the south through the little hamlet he and Doom had visited earlier in the day; and as the beauty of the scenery allured him increasingly the farther he went, he found himself at last on a horn of the great bay where the Duke's seat lay sheltered below its hilly ramparts. As he had walked to this place he had noticed that where yesterday had been an empty sea was now a fleet of fishing-boats scurrying in a breeze off land, setting out upon their evening travail-a heartening spectacle ; and that on either side of him-once the squalid huts of Doom were behind—was a more dainty country with cultivated fields well fenced, and so he was not wholly unprepared for the noble view revealed when he turned the point of land that hid the policies of MacCailen Mor.
But yet the sight somewhat stunned. In all his notions of Drimdarroch's habitation, since he had seen the poverty of Doom, he had taken his idea from the Baron's faded splendour, and had ludicrously underestimated the importance of Argyll's court and the difficulty of finding his man. Instead of a bleak bare country-side, with the ducal seat a mean tower in the midst of it, he saw a wide expanse of thickly wooded and inhabitable country speckled for miles with comfortable dwellings, the castle itself a high embattled structure, clustered round by a town of some dimensions, and at its foot a harbour, where masts were numerous and smoke rose up in clouds.
Here was, plainly, a different society from Doom ; here was something of what the exiled chiefs had bragged of in their cups. The Baron had suggested no more than a dozen of cadets about the place. Grand Dieu ! there must be a regiment in and about this haughty palace with its black and yellow banner streaming in the wind, and to seek Drimdarroch there and round that busy neighbourhood seemed a task quite hopeless.
For long he stood on the nose of land, gazing with a thousand speculations at where probably lay his prey, and when he returned to the castle of Doom it looked all the more savage and inhospitable in contrast with the lordly domicile he had seen. What befell him there on his return was so odd and unexpected that it clean swept his mind again of every interest in the spy.
The tide in his absence had come in around the rock of Doom, and he must signal for Mungo's ferry. Long and loud he piped, but there was at first no answer; and when at last the little servitor appeared, it was to look who called, and then run back with a haste no way restrained by any sense of garrison punctilio. He was not long gone, but when he came down again to the boat his preparations for crossing took up an unconscionable time. First the boat must be baled, it seemed, and then a thole-pin was to find; when launched the craft must tangle her bow unaccountably and awkwardly in the weeds. And a curt man was Mungo, though his salute for Count Victor had lost none of its formality. He seemed to be the family's friend resenting, as far as politeness might, some inconvenience to which it was being subjected without having the power to prevent the same.
Before they had gained the rock, dusk was on the country, brought the sooner for a frost-fog that had been falling all afternoon. It wrapped the woods upon the shore, made dim the yeasty water-way, and gave Doom itself the look of a phantom edifice. It would be ill to find a place less hospitable and cheerful in its outer aspect; not for domestic peace it seemed, but for dark exploits. The gloomy silhouette against the drab sky rose inconceivably tall,