網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

blaring forth its welcome, and a rich and mellow landscape, brightbody of mounted farmers waiting ened with vast rolling fields of corn to escort their landlord to his pa- and ripening orchards, startled ternal halls. For Bellendean it the visitors from India, whose was a very fine reception indeed; ideas of Scotland were all Highand Norman himself, being of a land ; but increased their respect simple mind, was much impressed. for their lucky comrade, of whom If the others laughed a little, that they had been accustomed to think was partly, no doubt, because they that his estate was some little were by no means the heroes of patrimony among the mountains, the day, and because, in the eager- where there might indeed be grouse ness about “the Ca’aptain,” the and perhaps deer to make poverty desire to identify him, and the sweet, but nothing more profitable. disdainful indifference shown to The Lowland landscape lay under a everything that was not he, these food of afternoon light. The roads gentlemen were thrown into the were populous with passengers, – background, where they grinned there were groups of ladies in front and looked on. Colonel Hayward, of the house, on the terrace to however, was as much impressed which the long windows opened. and still more delighted than Nor- Everything was wealthy, almost man. He would have liked to splendid — a beautiful park and shake hands with all the tenantry fine trees, and all the evidences of as he did with Mr. Bellendean the that large life which a country father, and assure them all that potentate leads in what our fathers “there could not be a finer fellow;" called his “seat.” a

Bellendean and when they raised a cheer as himself felt a certain awe as he the carriage drove off, joined in it looked upon all this which was lustily, with a mingled sense of his own. He remembered everybeing a spectator yet an actor in thing keenly, and yet it had not the scene which it was delightful seemed to him so great, so imposto see.

ing in his recollection as it was in Bellendean

handsome reality. He had remembered his house, of no particular age or pre- own favourite haunts, which were tensions, not very far from Edin- not the most important feature in burgh. That beautiful town was the scene. He turned to his father indeed visible from various points with a curious shyness and embarin the park, which, on the other rassment. I had forgotten what hand, commanded a view of the a fine place it was,” he said ; but Firth and the low hills of Fife, at his eyes said something else, which the point where the great estuary natural reserve and the presence closes in, and with a peaceful little of strangers kept from his lips. island in mid-stream, and a ruin What his eyes said was—“ Paror two on the margin of the water, don! that it should not be yours forms that tranquil basin, in which but mine." -driven by storms of wind and “It is a fine place," said Mr storms of nations, the Athelings, Bellendean. “ The places we have pious folk, the Confessor's kindred, known only in youth are apt to not strong enough by themselves to look diminished when we come hold head against fierce Normans back. I am glad it has not that and Saxons any more than against effect on you. All the same, my the wild tides of the Northern dear boy, I am glad it is you and Ocean-once found a refuge. The not I that have to live in it.

was

a

[ocr errors]

nor

Neither Mrs Bellendean I he could have any one of them!care for Bellendean."

The Colonel sighed at this thought. At this Norman grasped his He belonged himself to an age in father's hand, and said, “You which statistics had 10 place, are very good, sir,” in a way before it was known that there which much perplexed the excel- was a million or so of superfluous lent Colonel, who did not under- women, and being a chivalrous stand wherein the virtue lay, and soul he did not like this thought. who was further stricken dumb He was much pleased to discover by the next question. “In the afterwards that several of the confusion and excitement of seeing young ladies were married, and you again, I believe I have not so out of the competition. But asked for Mrs Bellendean?! it was a pretty sight.

The reader is too experienced After this the days were tolnot to perceive that this question, erably well filled. There was a which bewildered Colonel Hay- dinner to the neighbouring gentry, ward, conveyed the not very ex- and a dinner to the tenantry. traordinary fact that Norman had There was a ball. There was a a step-mother, which was one of great supper in tents to the labourthe chief reasons of his long ab- ers and cottagers on the estate; sence. Not that Mrs Bellendean finally, there was a vast entertainwas a harsh or cruel step-mother, ment for the school children in the or one of those spoilers of domes- united parishes of Bellendean and tic peace who flourish in literature Prince's Ferry. The Colonel went under that title; but only that through them all manfully. the young man remembered his carried out his original impulse, mother, and could ill bear to see shook hands with everybody, and another in her place. She stood said, “I assure you he's a capital on the steps of the great door at fellow." "I had him under my this moment, awaiting the carriage command at So-and-so, and So-a woman not more than forty, and-so, and I know what's in him,' tall and fair, dressed a little more he said. In this way Colonel Haysoberly than her age required, but ward was himself a great success. full of youth and animation in The old county neighbours liked look and figure. A number of this assurance, and the farmers ladies stood behind her, some of delighted in it. And when it them"

as pretty creatures as ever came to the turn of the masses, I saw,” the Colonel said to him- and the old soldier went about self, cousins of all degrees, old among the tables at the labourers' playfellows, old friends. The vieux supper, repeating his formula, moustache stood by while these the enthusiasm

immense. pleasant spectators surged about “Eh, Cornel, but that's a real satyoung Bellendean. He stood isfaction,” the old men said. aside, and made his remarks. “I lang as he's done his duty, what shouldn't wonder now if he might can mortal man do mair?" His marry any one of them," he said own assurances and reassurances to himself. “Lucky fellow. I went to the good Colonel's head. shouldn't wonder now if they were He felt like a trumpeter whose all waiting till he throws the note was the word of command handkerchief. Talk about sul- to everybody, and marched about tans ! all those pretty English, with his head high. “I assure no, they are Scotch-girls: and you he's a capital fellow, a capital

was

a

[ocr errors]

6

fell"

He was in the very act took away his utterance. He hurof repeating them, when the ried up to Mrs Bellendean, who stood words seemed to fail him all at at the head of the tent looking on. once. He stopped in the middle “A young lady, my dear Colonel? with his mouth open, and gazed at there are no young ladies there." some one who at that moment “ You must know her if I could for the first time caught his eye. but point her out to you. She is

Was it because her place did like no one else there. It is not not seem to be there? A girl of curiosity. I have a particular reatwenty or so-tall, slight, her figure son for asking." "Tell me what like a lily-stalk slightly swaying she was like," the gracious lady forward, her head raised, with a said; but just then her husband tremor of sympathy in every fea- came to consult her about someture. Her face was like a lily, thing, and the opportunity was too, pale, with large eyes, either lost. brown or blue, he could not be Colonel Hayward retired from his sure which, and long eyelashes trumpeting for that night. He uplifted ; and the most sensitive let Norman's reputation take its mouth, which smiled yet quivered, chance. He was very silent all and made as though repeating the the rest of the evening, not even words, which the eyes seemed to repeating his question when he divine before they were said. She had an opportunity, but sitting by was seated at the end of a table himself and thinking it over. It with two old people, too old to be was a remarkable face : but no her father and mother, looking as doubt the resemblance must be a if she had strayed there by some chance resemblance.

There are strange chance, as if she had no- so many faces in the world, and thing to do with the vulgar fea- some of them here and there must tures of the feast, like a young resemble each other. It must be princess who had sat down among something in his own mind, some them to please them. The words recollection that had come to him were stopped upon the Colonel's unawares, an association from the lips. He broke down in the middle, Scotch voices he heard round him. and stood staring at her, not That, when he came to think of it, knowing where he was. Good must have been working in his Lord ! that face: and sitting there mind all day; indeed, ever since among the common people, among he came. And this was the issue. the labourers, the ploughmen! It Every mental process (people say) did not seem to Colonel Hayward can be explained if you trace it out. that anybody about was surprised And this one was not so difficult at his stare. They, too, turned after all, not difficult at all, when round and looked at her kindly, you came to think of it, he said to or-not kindly, as the case might himself, nodding his head; but all be. But they were not surprised. the same, he could not help wish. They understood his wonder.“ Ay, ing that Elizabeth had been here. sir, she's a very bonnie lass,” said And then he began to think again one old man. "A bonnie lass! a of that girl. She was not like a bonnie lass !” the Colonel repeated; girl to be found sitting with the but not with the tone in which ploughmen's families. He seemed he had spoken about the capital to see her before him, especially fellow. It was as if some blow when he shut his eyes and gave had been struck at him which himself up to it, which he did in a

was

a

retired corner on the terrace after them very old, but they drew toeverybody had gone away. Though gether with a natural sympathy it was late, there was still light amid that band of youth. in the skies, partly the lingering Next day was the concluding northern daylight, partly the moon, day of the Bellendean festivities, and he shut his eyes while he and it was chiefly to be devoted to smoked his cigar and pondered. the children. In the afternoon the He could see her before him, that park was turned into an immense girl, in a dark dress made (he playground. Every kind of game thought — but then he did not and entertainment that could be know much about it) like a lady's thought of was provided. There -certainly with a face like a was a conjurer, there was Punch, lady's, or how could she have there was a man with marionnettes, resembled- -? Of course, it was and what the children liked still only association, and the recollec- better, there were games of all tions that came back to him with kinds, in which they could themthose Lowland voices. The High- selves perform, which is always land ones had never affected him more agreeable than seeing other in the same way. The fact was, people do so. And finally, there he said to himself, he was never tea wonderful tea, in half a man when Elizabeth was not which mountains of cake and

She would have under- cookies innumerable disappeared stood the sequences of ideas at like magic. The ladies were all once. She would have found out there, serving actively the flushed in five minutes who the girl was and happy crowds of children, and all about her, and set him at throwing themselves into it with rest. He was interrupted in those much more sympathy than they thoughts by the sudden irruption had shown with the substantial of the band of young men with feasts of the previous days. The their cigars into the balmy quiet young men were set free, they of the nighi. It was warm, and were not required to help in the they had found the smoking-room entertainment of the boys and hot. " And there is old Hayward girls; and except Norman, who gone to sleep in a corner," he heard had bravely determined to do his one of them say.

duty to the end, the male portion “He must not sleep,” said Mr of the company was represented Bellendean ; " wake him up, Nor- only by Mr Bellendean and the

The air here is too keen for Colonel, who looked on from the that."

terrace, and finally took a walk “ I am no more asleep than any round the tent where the meal was one of you young fellows,” the going on, and partook, as the newsColonel said, jumping up. “ But papers say, of a cup of tea at a as old Hayward has more sense little separate table in a corner, than a set of boys, he kept outside where Mrs Bellendean was taking here in the cool while you were all that refreshment. It was when heating yourselves in the smoking- the Colonel (who liked his tea) was room. Í don't think they've got standing with a cup in his hand, the best of it this time, Mr. Bel- just outside the great tent, which lendean, eh?"

was steaming with the entertain“ They don't half so often as ment, that he suddenly stopped they think,” said the other old once more in the midst of a little gentleman. They were neither of speech he was making about the

man.

SO

pleasure of seeing children enjoy children come round her as they themselves. He stopped with a finished their meal, which was little start, and then he set down pretty to see; he watched the his cup and turned back to watch ladies coming and going, always something. It was afternoon, but circling more or less about this one the sun was still high in the skies, figure. He watched Norman going and even under the tent there was up to her, holding out his hand, full daylight, impaired by no sha- which she took, showing for the dows or uncertainty. The shade first time a little rustic shyness, within gave a suppressed and yellow curtseying as if he had been a glow to everything, something like prince. Then he saw a quite difthe air of a theatre: and in the midst ferent sort of man from Norman, there she stood once more, the girl one of the schoolmasters, go to her of last night! The Colonel gazed in his turn and say something in at her with an absorption, an ab- her ear, with an evident claim straction, which was extraordinary. upon her attention and a lingering He saw nothing but only her alone. touch on her arm, which spoke She had been seated by the old much, which made the Colonel ploughman on the previous night angry, as if the fellow had preas if she belonged to him; but now sumed. But the girl evidently she was moving about among the did not think he presumed. A children as the young ladies were smile lighted up her face, which she doing, serving and encouraging: turned to him looking up in his. her dress was very simple, but Colonel Hayward felt a movement

was theirs, and there was not of intolerable impatience take posone of them more graceful, more session of him; and then a still at her ease. Everybody knew stronger feeling swept across his her. She seemed to be referred mind. As she turned her face with to on all hands; by the children, that look of tender attention to the who came clinging about her_by man who addressed her, she turned the visitors, who seemed to con- it also to the spectator looking at sult her upon everything. Who her from the tent door. The line could she be? The clergyman's of the uplifted head, the soft chin, daughter perhaps ; but then, how the white throat, the eyes raised had she come to be seated last with their long eyelashes—“Good night between the old couple, who God! who is she ?” he said were clearly labouring people, at the aloud. cottagers' supper? And how had Mrs Bellendean saw the absorbed she come by that face? Whoever expression in his face, and came she might be, gentlewoman or rus- and stood beside him to see what tic maiden, how had she come by he was looking at. Her own face that face? That was the wonder. relaxed into smiles when she found The Colonel stood fascinated, im- out the object of his gaze. movable, at the tent-door, looking I don't wonder now at your interin, seeing all the moving crowd of est, Colonel. I am sure she has faces only as a background to this had no tea; she would never think one, which seemed, in his fancy, to of looking after herself. Now, reign over them all.

Her face was come, you shall see her nearer; not still and attentive, as on the she is worth looking at: Joyce ! previous night, but full of anima- she cried. tion and life. He watched the “Joyce! Good God!"

[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »