« AnteriorContinuar »
too hastily, that he was to retrace his of escape from that peculiar instinct, if steps toward the direction of Loch Tay once set upon our track, which pertains and Dunkeld. A most estimable person to one whom I may call a philanthropic is Dr. Trellington Blythe, F.S.A. and Beagle-delicacy forbidding the word Ph.D. Heid. ; and at home we knew Bore. him particularly well, but never had Yet here was Trellington Blythe again, suspected him of the condescension of a after all my pains, most imminently at Highland tour, or of his betaking himself hand in the hotel coffee-room, snatchto fishing; much less of his looking out ing a hasty luncheon before he issued for good, retired summer quarters for forth. Genially fraternizing with a whole himself and family, “in some secluded band of eager tourists from the road, district of the mountain country, con- whose knapsacks, and wide-awakes, and tiguous to water—within reach of agree- volumes of Scott and Wordsworth, had able acquaintance—yet not hackneyed, scared us both as they rushed in upon not hackneyed, sir.” Such, neverthe- the débris of our glorious Highland less, had been his confidential words to breakfast; though Ickerson had only us, in MacGregor's baronial-looking gazed his supine dismay, indiscrimihostelry by Loch-Katrine, while we nately regarding them, till I perceived took our last evening rummer of Glen- the direr apparition behind, and drew Dronach toddy near him; he confining him with me in our retreat by an ophimself, as usual, to soda-water, and posite door. Somewhat unprepared for several times, with a frown, sniffing at immediate renewal of active measures the nicotine odour of Ickerson's clothes. we were, it must be owned ; at least in For it must be said that the latter is my friend's case. Since Ickerson's persingularly regardless of people's pre- sonal vigour and capacity for exertion, judices, even in sundry other uncouth combined with a singular faculty for traits : yet, strangely enough, there is a abstinence when needful, are proporfavour for him none the less universal tionate to his stature and his thews, among his acquaintances, Dr. T. B. in- rendering, perhaps, indispensable on his eluded ; still more, perhaps, Mrs. T. B., part those few ruminative whiffs. I a very pretty-looking woman with highly could well have spared, certainly, that æsthetic tastes. When agreeable society formal replenishment of a meerschaum was referred to, that lady had not failed resembling a calumet, that careful reto glance our way; as if it were a pity placement of the ashes, and that scruwe were but pedestrianizing in a trans- pulous ignition, that studious consciousient manner, without aim or purpose ness of every fume. Was it possible beyond an occasional day's fishing near that he had hesitated to support me, till the road. In fact, we had not indicated I had fortunately recollected the certain any purpose at all. Far from Ickerson's advent of M‘Killop that very day did knowing at the time that we had one, I a hankering still possess him after the was aware of his easy temperament, his Egyptian fleshpots of Mrs. Blythe and too-passive or too-transient disposition, her elegant cousins, heedless of the docover which a superior will possessed tor's own educational theories, and his great influence; and even to him also, feeling remarks on nature ? Could he so I had as yet concealed my knowledge of forget what was at stake in the prospect our friend Moir's discovery ; I had ex- of that delicious solitude which Moir pressed an interest in the same scenery, had lit upon, and to which at that motowards Dunkeld, which the Blythes ment we alone possessed the key? Could had in contemplation, with a similar it possibly enter into his mind to avoid desire to behold the tomb of Rob Roy further ambiguity in the affair by his in passing, and probably explore the usual absurd candour, and, for the sake rude vicinity of Loch Earn, then to wit- of future relations with the Trellington ness the Celtic games of St. Fillan's. The Blythes, to propose allowing them the reality was, I well knew the difficulty opportunity, so much after their own hearts, of sharing our expected delight? most, and bitterly disciplined by expeI declare, if so; that then and there rience, it was
rience, it was a longing, desperate I could savagely have quarrelled with necessity of the very life and brain, him, despite our long, close friendship, the heart and soul. We now certified had not the simple fact about Mr. ourselves there, that we had only to M'Killop saved me. The editor of the ferry across forthwith, then hold those Daily Tribune is a man whom, though peaks upon a certain side, and then the I dislike, I do not fear. Whereas the way afterwards was scarcely to be misintense repugnance towards him, almost taken ; until we should perceive that the superstitious dread, entertained by other mountain, of shape unique and Mark Ickerson, with all his equanimity, indubitable position, which overshais something unaccountable. We were dowed the very entrance to the secluded both aware that Mr. M'Killop had a glen of the Macdonochies. I myself, wife and many daughters, that the par- pure Goth as I was, had some practice liamentary season was just about over, in Highland wanderings; as to Ickerson, and the dearth of news to be made up he was an Islesman, familiar from youth for by sporting matters alone ; so when with the tongue of the Gael as with his it struck me like a flash of lightning school Latin or college Greek, almost his that he too was on the outlook for daily German ; claiming distant Celtic summer quarters, with the desire to blood, actually pretending, in his slow, lodge his family where the Tribune elephantine, Teutonic humour, to “have might still be cared for amidst his own a Tartan,” with right to the kilt and race and original language, need it be eagle's feather. Though stamped by wondered that I avowed the conviction name and aspect, as by inner nature, to Ickerson, or that Ickerson was utterly true son of old Scandinavian sea-riders, overcome ?
having the noble viking always in him, Urged by haste, though inwardly sometimes the latent Berserkir like to triumphant, I had but to take out again flash forth; otherwise inexperienced, our London friend's epistle from Loch- impractical, the mere abstracted quietist, na-Diomhair; and for Ickerson's benefit, who might use the eyes and help the while he suspended his meerschaum active energy of a companion that knew anxiously, to retrace the considerate the world. chart of our way which the postscript It was hot already. By the nearest contained. Its first bearings and guide- route it must be a good long afternoon's marks were identically before us from tramp for us, even from the opposite. that spot, far over amongst the sinewy shore of Benlomond, where the light mountain-shoulders which press from would glare and the heat would broil westward on the lake, reflected below
As for fear of weather or more softly; above, too, in the Alps of change, it had varied too long before, Arrochar that overpeak these, remote for
fear of it now from me; although beyond record even in that magic mirror. Ickerson looked up into the very brightIt was a blessed picture still farther in ness of the sky, and away at some mist the unseen background, which the letter about the distinctest mountains, saying, itself conjured up; the ecstatic affirma- in his queer, quasi-prophetic manner, tion from Frank Moir of an absolute that it would rain to the west.
I only Highland Arcadia undetected by guide- set some store by him in the matter, bebooks, which, allowing for some acci- cause he none the less resolutely putuphis dental rose-colour of a personal kind, pipe, stretched his large limbs, and rose, he was not yet too much cockneyfied to professing himself ready. He, indeed! appreciate ; while, to us, in our holiday the half-abstracted, half-sagacious monescape from rote and toil, from the ster of good luck that I have often found weary hack-round and daily trouble, it him !-it was not he who needed to go was a precious refreshment to hear of. back into the hotel lobby, facing the full To one of us, lately fagged to the ut- glare of those spectacles in the sunlight,
before we could again abscond; for he sending an eddy before her to my very invariably had borne his fishing-rod feet, when, with a roar, and a hiss, and about with him in the compendious a clamour, she came sheering round to form of that huge walking-staff which he float broadside in. The first face I disnow struck upon the ground so promptly, cerned was that of M‘Killop of the and his plaid was always over his shoul- Daily Tribune, high on one paddle-box, der, enveloping in one fold that simple through the steam which contrasted oilskin parcel of his. It was not he who with his sandy whiskers, carpet-bag had become responsible to the waiter for and umbrella in hand, firmly looking our charges, nor who had left his well- for the shore. His eye was in a mocompacted impedimenta, with every essen- ment upon me; but the motley crowd tial of pedestrian comfort, on the hall were scarce begun to be disgorged, ere, table ; and despite his solemn conster- with a presence of mind I still plume nation at the reiterated statement, it is myself upon, I had turned and hastened impossible to get rid of a belief, from one up in the van of the confusion; meetscarce perceptible twinkle of his eye, ing right in the face, of course, as if that the hypocrite enjoyed it. “Being newly arrived from Glasgow, with the conscious of my own deficiences in the good Trellington Blythe. It was the practical department,” said he, with that work of a few seconds to make my hurprovoking Orcadian accent, occasionally ried and broken explanation as he stumsimilar to a snuffle, “I have to guard bled against me—to mutter a reply to against them, or rather, my worthy his alarmed inquiry about Ickerson-to aunt and cousins have ;” uplifting and nod assent to his hope of further leisure surveying his whole outfit with an air of together in the hotel—and then, leaving innocent satisfaction. “But would he- him to meet his friend, to dash in for my the doctor, I mean—seeing you alone, my indispensables, settle with the waiter, dear Brown, do you think, be so eager to and once more escape, breathless, to the accost you as you suppose ? To wish to ferry-place. There the stout-built High--that is, to persevere in having you of land boatmen, of pudgy shapes, with his party—that is to say, I—as you feel foxy faces, were at their oars. Ickerson it disagreeable-perhaps he may not, in was seated, calmly waiting, beside a fact, care for your proximity and a-a rustic female of carroty locks, with —what particular exploration you might a suckling baby, whose unreserved contemplate ?"
relations he mildly regarded, in his It is true, as the fellow naïvely showed own placid, all-tolerating, catholic manhimself aware, Ickerson was the chief ner, dabbling his hand alongside the magnet to the Blythe party in general; while. nor am I sure to this moment that the Why must we thus wait still, though? inestimable doctor likes me at bottom. Why, leaving the honorary stern sheets Well knowing, therefore, that I could vacant, and the helm untouched, must trust myself alone, even with Trellington I pass into the forepart also, beside Blythe, I at once cut the knot by pro- nursing rustics ? “Somepotty is be viding that my companion should forth- coming,” it seems, from the boatman, "off with skirt the lake towards the ferry- impoartanze." Was the place bespoken boat, while I, at every hazard, would then ? Was it engaged beforehand ? boldly rush up to the hotel. Struck by They stare at me. “Aye, shis two day, a sudden thought at Ickerson's depar- Hoo, Aye!” “Some superior person, ture, however, I lingered instead upon gravely whispers Ickerson, "from Glasthe pier, as the steamer came plashing gow, by the steamer.” We were mutuup. Already the doctor's voice was ally appalled by the same idea : especially conspicuous from the other side, hurry- as I saw M'Killop's form with the doctor, ing down among other tourists ; but the over the edge of the little pier, absorbed sharp-prowed "Lady-of-the-Lake" was in conversation behind the throng, in quicker than he or I had calculated ; rear of a whole stalking procession of
females with hats and feathers. Doubt- pectedly. I leant back, musing on the less the M'Killop family! All so near, doubtful likelihood of Loch-na-Diomhair that, as we crouch, we can hear the remaining an oasis long; while the Macsound of their voices across the smooth donochy sulked at us, and talked loud little bay; and, out of sight myself, I to his better-bred companion, using can still see the distincter, warmer reflec- French phrases ; then once
or twice tion of that able editor's gestures—nay, superciliously drawled to the boatmen what was not before visible, the very a hideous sentence of authority, interunder-brim of his furry hat, the bristling spersed with what seemed a Gaelic sandiness under his full chin. He had, oath ; to which they, rowing, droned on a sudden, a staring-white paper in humbly back. his hand, and, looking at it curiously, As we leapt upon the other shore of gave it to Trellington Blythe, who Loch Lomond, the road lay before us; peered into it also; till they both looked wild enough at best; parting, within round and round. Yet, to our joy, we sight, to a wilder one, up a stern pass, were unobserved; indeed, as they were de- through which brawled a headlong river. parting towards the hotel, we saw further At the parting, stood a well-equipped proof that it was none of them the boat dog-cart, waiting. But neither help nor delayed for. A groom from the steamer, guidance was I inclined to, even from carrying a gun-case, leading two fine the looks of the best-mannered friend of setters, came and stepped into the boat the Macdonochies; and in the wilder of beside us : followed at greater leisure by the two ways I recognised the “short two gentlemen, both young, one plea- cut," of which Moir's letter spoke. sant-faced and with a military air, his Ickerson, after another of his mystical accents English; the other under-browed looks overhead and up the mountains, and Celtic, though darkly handsome, silently acceded. So we escaped from with a sulky hauteur, jealous and half the Macdonochy also, and took the short awkward, that checked his friend's de
cut by the pass. signed complaisance towards ourselves. We sat unheeded, therefore; while at
II. an abrupt motion of the hand from that glooming young Gael, the stretched out, and he took the tiller to steer
for Bealach-More. WILD, grim, desolate, it was soon, as Strange to say, it was the Englishman the sternest valley of Rephidim. Away who wore a costume like a chief's, on either hand, drearier in their very while the Celt wore the fashionable formlessness, began to slant without garb of to-day.
sublimity the worn grey hill-sides, from “The Macdonochy, nevertheless," waste to waste. Chaotic shatterings murmured Ickerson to me.“ The young and tumblings here and there, driven chief, that is to say, of the Macdono- back upon forgotten Titans, had long chies." I stared. It was to the land of the come to an end in utter stillness; where Macdonochies we were bound. “Which ?" the lichen and moss were the sole living I whispered back—“He with the kilt things, creeping insensibly over some and feather ?” “No. With the long huge foremost boulder, bald and blind Noah's-ark frock-coat, the peg-top trou- with storm that had been. In the sultry, sers, the Zouave cap, and first-rate boots suffocating heat of that Glen-Ogie, the -on that starboard sole of which, dis- very rocks gave out a faint tinkling, as played so unconsciously, you perceive in when calcined limestone cools slowly ; small nails the advertisement of ‘Dun- nothing else sounded but our own feet, can and Co., Princes Street, Edin- slipping or crackling. For Ickerson was burgh.'” There was in Ickerson, as I especially taciturn, yet in haste; nor at hinted, a slow, subterranean, subacid the same time abstracted, as I could have humour; and he noticed things unex- pardoned his becoming. Thus his un
OUR JOURNEY THITHER.
social mood annoyed the more; no sneer wreath of mist. Here we quenched at Ossian, nor lure to the pipe, or to the our thirst; here we gave ourselves up, flask of Glenlivet I bore, could draw him at ease, to the untroubled rapture of the out. The fellow's tone and manner be- pause at that high spot, our journey's came positively uncomfortable, when, zenith. The rest was plain before us; grasping me by the arm with a hand which and Ickerson took out his meerschaum is like a vice, he bade me turn and look once more, and smoked tranquilly again. along Glen-Ogie. We were in the bot- Too well does he meditate, my friend tom of it. There was nothing particular Ickerson, and pour forth at length the to see. That way—the other also, to- tenor of his meditations; in rhapsody wards which he kept that staff of his that takes indeed the colour of sublime pointed like a divining rod—was but phenomena around him, yet too much a wild, inarticulate, rugged ascent, with assimilates to the other vapour he dry rifts and gullies on both sides, breathes forth, till it is apt to lull one into a wrinkling off through stony beds of dreams. Had it not been to avoid this, vanished torrents into unknown chasms; I do not think, in circumstances still rethen up, as where avalanches had rolled quiring care, that I should have been down, or volcanic eruptions had passed. tempted to join my rod together and Where had the hazy sweltering sun re- leave him a little, to try the upward treated? Where were our own shadows course of the brook. To him, forsooth, -where the clouds-on what side, the it may be the easiest thing to put away east, west, north, or south-and which inveterate thoughts at will : they never the vista of Glen-Ogie we had descended, haunted or terrified him.
There was which the perspective of it we were yet always a fund of latent power in the to ascend? To tell the truth, for all I fellow, which he never troubled himself know, we might then have steadily pro- to draw upon; because, perhaps, he was ceeded backward, even passing the last six feet two without his shoes, with a nondescript clachan of human burrows bone, muscle, and length of arm that set as a new one, and reaching Loch Lomond him above need of much sparring pracas if it were our lake in prospect, till we tice with our friend Francalanza. I ferried across to the supposed welcome soon heard him, but in the distance ; of Moir, and should find the embrace of his eyes closed, his incense ascending, Trellington Blythe, with the exulting his knees up--eventually, as I looked recognition of M‘Killop! For a moment over my shoulder, raising by turns his I was in Ickerson's hands: so that if he delighted feet, in real enjoyment of the had smiled, I could have dashed him glorious hush—with the supposition, from me. But in the most earnest doubtless, that the silent pea-coat beside spirit of companionship, which never him was a drowsy companion. Alas! shall I forget, he thrust his staff before ye dogging remembrances, ye jading and him like a sword, and without a word worldly consciousnesses—ye could not we rushed upward together. One glimpse so easily be left. I followed the upward was all I wanted now of the double- vein of the brook, in its deep waterheaded summit of Ben-Araidh, with its course, broken and fern-fringed ; and single cairn of stones.
it is strange, though childish, how a few At length, with something like a cry minutes, which self-control could not of satisfaction, my friend sprang up compose to peace, will glide away in before me from the rocky trough, out puerile sport and device.
Rest !-rest, upon a heathery knoll. Beside us was said we Flight from thought, or from a small round mountain-tarn, fed by a the pertinacity of words and artifices ? quick little burn from above, which again No—'tis a new, eager, wild refuge of stole out into wide-rolling moor.
pursuit, exultingly compensative by reits own vast brown shoulder I caught venge for what you have feared and fled sight of the bare grey top I looked for; from before : pitiless in its first savage slightly swathed, between, with a slight longings for the scent, the chase, capture,