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THE EVICTED WIDOW.

CHAPTER II.

THE FULFILMENT.

MR. CAMPBELL's house stood in a little wood close to the sea. The mountain-stream that came tumbling down the rocks, ran almost past his door, ere it lost itself in the waters of the bay. About two hundred yards from the house, the stream was spanned by a wooden bridge, and close beside this bridge was situated the little graveyard of Glenfalcon. Here they buried the poor widow and her child, beside some others who had died from the effects of the harsh proceedings which had been so ruthlessly carried out a few days previously. The news of the tragic results from the recent evictions had spread all over the district, consequently, large numbers gathered to the funerals of the victims of oppression. A single glance at the gloomy faces of the bystanders revealed the fact that there were others feelings at work besides the usual grief at the death of relations and neighbours, and after the interment was over, and as the people wended their way home in groups, many were the comments made on the widow's sad fate, and on her curse. A new feeling animated the people. Men asked themselves why such things should be allowed, yea, and have the sanction of the law too, and the first dawning of the spirit of independence and determination to get justice began that day to stir in the breasts of the long-suffering and down-trodden people, which will never again be stilled until the present land laws are abolished, and men will once more dare to call their souls their own, without fear of laird or factor.

The day of the funeral was excessively gloomy, the sky was heavy with unshed rain; a thaw had set in, and the ground was like a sponge. During the night, the rain fell in torrents, and it

continued to fall with unabated force the whole of the next day and night. Not for many years had the inhabitants seen anything approaching the violence of the present storm. All nature seemed to be weeping; inky clouds obscured the sun, so that it appeared more like night than day. As night came on, the storm grew still worse; the people cowered in their miserable huts, listening, with awe-stricken faces and sinking hearts, to the fearful warring of the elements, to the pelting rain, the roar of the mountain torrent, and the loud blasts of wind, which threatened every moment to blow their frail dwellings into space.

On this dreary night, Mr. Campbell sat alone in the parlour of his house. A tall, spare man, with a cold, hard face, indicative of a stern unyielding nature. No affectionate wife smoothed the wrinkles from his brow; no loving children climbed on his knee and taught the stern mouth to smile; for he was a bachelor, wrapped up in his own selfishness.

The unusual severity of the storm even disturbed the nerves of this iron-willed man. He could not settle to his reading ; his thoughts oppressed him, and, as he walked restlessly through the room, he muttered,

“I do not know what is the matter with me to-night. A feeling of dread which I cannot shake off hangs about me. I wish Macneil had not given me such full particulars of that affair up the Glen the other day. The woman cursed me, too. Tuts! I am getting superstitious, when the ravings of a mad woman could thus affect me." A louder blast than ever, that threatened to break in the window, made him start and look shudderingly round the room, as if he half expected to see the ghost of the widow by his side. Rousing himself, with an effort, from the eerie feeling creeping over him, he went to the window, and, drawing up the blind, looked out, but he could see nothing but the big rain-drops running down the glass; all without was dense darkness. Turning away, with a muttered oath, he sat down before the fire, and stirred it into a ruddy glow; the next moment he again started to his feet, as his eyes fell on a picture of The Deluge which hung over the mantelpiece.

“I cannot bear to look on that picture to-night, it makes me feel more miserable than ever,” he said. “I wish the night was

over ; I can hear the torrent roaring as if it meant to sweep the house away. I never felt so nervous before; I must have something to cheer me up."

Ringing the bell, he ordered the servant to bring some whisky and hot water, and then she might retire for the night, as he should want nothing more.

Determined to shake off his most unusual depression of spirits, he mixed a stiff glass of toddy, and, sitting down to the table, busied himself with his accounts. Finding the whisky cheered him up, he did not spare, it but continued drinking and writing until near midnight, when suddenly he dropped his pen, and started up with affright. The tempest seemed to have reached a climax; the howling of the wind and the roar of the stream now mingled with an appalling sound of rushing water.

"Good heavens! what was that," he cried in alarm ; "I thought I heard a rush of water close by, but there is such a terrible noise outside that I can hardly distinguish one sound from another; perhaps it was only the wind, or my excited imagination.” Thus saying, he again resumed his seat, and mixed another toddy.

Before long, his deep potations began to tell; his pen dropped from his fingers, his head sank on his breast, and he fell into a profound sleep. In a little while, his heavy breathing and convulsive movements showed that his sleep was anything but refreshing. Suddenly he woke with a start, and cried out in a terror-stricken voice,

"Keep off! Go back to the grave! Go back to the grave!'

In his agitation, he overthrew the table and upset the lamp, which became extinguished, thus leaving the room in darkness. This increased his fright, and he rushed wildly to the door, only to find it locked. He had locked it to secure himself from intrusion, and had placed the key on the table, and now, in the pitch darkness, was unable to find it. He was now thoroughly awake, but trembling in every limb from the effects of his frightful dreams. His horror of the supernatural was changed into a vivid fear for his personal safety, as he discovered what he had not, in his agitation, noticed before--that he was standing ankle deep in water.

He shouted in vain for assistance; his voice was drowned in the fearful noise of the hurricane. Nearly at his wit's end he ran to the window ; it was firmly fastened, and his agitation was too

great to allow him to open it. Every moment the water was rising ; now it was up to his knees, and the furniture began to float about. In utter desperation, he smashed the glass of the window, but the heavy frame defied his utmost endeavours. All the while the water kept rising steadily, inch by inch. In vain the unhappy man threw himself against the door, and then tried to force out the window, only to cut and bruise himself. He at length realised that he was doomed; the water had now reached his waist, and, as he recalled the widow's curse, he cried aloud in his agony at its speedy fulfilment, as he found himself entombed alive with no companion but the merciless water, ever creeping up higher and higher. He climbed upon some furniture, and was clinging dispairingly to a shelf, when, with a loud crash, the door was broken from without, and, on the volume of water that rushed in, was borne a black object, which, striking Mr. Campbell on the side, threw him backward, senseless, on the floor, where he was speedily drowned.

On this memorable night, Macneil, the factor, went to the house of a tenant who lived on the other side of the bay, to transact some business. He stayed until a late hour, hoping the storm would abate; but at last, seeing no hopes of its getting better, he determined to face it, so, wishing his neighbour good night, he put on his greatcoat, and, lantern in hand, set out on his way home. He had nearly two miles to go; but, as he knew every inch of the road, he had no fear of losing his way, though the darkness was such as might be felt.

"I did not think it was quiet so bad as this," he said to himself, as he groped his way along, half blinded by the rain which beat in his face, “but I won't turn back now I have started; I will go home, be the weather ever so bad.”

Slowly and cautiously he plodded on until he reached the hollow where the bridge spanned the stream. Here he was up to his knees in water, and, as he stood for a moment to gain breath and heard the torrent as it thundered down the rocks with terrific force, he said "I should not be surprised to find the bridge damaged; I must be careful." So, holding his lantern before him, he slowly and cautiously advanced. He knew he must be near the bridge, and, once over that, he would be safe, as the road was uphill, and his home was within three hundred yards of the bridge. Just then his progress was arrested by something that lay like a log of wood right across his path ; lowering his lantern, he peered through the darkness to see what it was. His horror can be imagined, when he saw that it was a coffin, the lid of which had been partly torn off, and the ghastly face of a dead man, met his horrified gaze.

Firm as were Macneil's nerves, they received a rude shock, but a moment's thought was sufficient for him to regain his self-possession. He rightly conjectured that the torrent had overflowed and had washed part of the graveyard away, and he was more than ever convinced of the necessity of the greatest caution on his part, as, doubtless, the bridge had likewise been destroyed. Suddenly, so suddenly that he never clearly comprehended how it happened, he felt himself lifted off the ground, and carried away on a swift stream of rushing water.

He was a powerful swimmer, but swimming was of little avail in such a mad torrent, especially encumbered as he was with heavy clothes. He struggled desperately to keep above water, but he must have gone down had he not managed to catch hold of a piece of wood, as it floated past him; clinging to this, he was borne swiftly along, until, at last, he was dashed against what appeared to be a wall. The top was about two feet above the level of the water, and, though greatly exhausted and severely bruised by his rapid transit through the flood, Macneil managed to climb to the top of this wall. He had now time to rest and collect his scattered senses, as he lay on the wall and held on with both hands. The storm still raged with great fury; all around him was a mass of rushing, seething water, but he could distinguish the sound of the wind among trees, and he at once knew he must be near the proprietor's house, as there were no trees anywhere else in this direction. . A terrible thought crossed his perturbed mind :—What if Mr. Campbell's house had been swept away, and the inmates drowned ? He might be even now on one of the ruined walls, for all he knew. The more he considered, the more convinced be became that it must be so. The house occupied a very low position, to which the water would inevitably rush, after sweeping away the bridge ; and, he thought, if he were indeed on the ruins of Mr. Campbell's house, he might be able to get a safer and more comfortable position than the one

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