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blood, and for bootless relentings after. I shouted ; a hope striking me. He Soon the zest grows unsatisfied : you had most probably underrated my exwould fain be lulled away more tho- perience or presence of mind. What roughly, on, on, by some strong salmon- extravagant conceptions might he not rush into deeper abysses—instead of form, indeed, of my possible course of upward to the dribbling source of min- conduct_fancying me still on my way nows and tadpoles-rather outward to apart; yet himself never thinking of the frith and sea, among old former that clue which the stream had supplied hazards and contentions. Suddenly, too, me. If he were wet, he had no flask of the very dragon-fly lost its charm—the Glenlivet to support him, as I still had; paltry trout scorned me in their turn, and with one more hasty gulp from it, ceasing to rise at all. What was it? I took the hill, dashing after him ; once Ah. I had thought as much. Thunder or twice positively sure of the traces of in the stifling air-thunder in those his great, huge-soled, heavy and soaking bronze-like tints of the mountain- steps. shoulders, and in the livid cloud beyond Over the heathery brow, down to the Ben Araidh ; though his summit still sheltered hollow of a fresh rivulet; for showed the distincter, above a snow- I thought his voice came up to me, stenwhite shroud in the lower cleft.
torian, through the blast. At all events, Mist had been spreading unawares some distance off, there was in reality below, but the living burn rushed all the fern-thatched roof of a hut to be the livelier down beside me, a certain descried ; scarce distinguishable but for clue to regain the tarn—and if I had a slight wreath of smoke, curling against all at once felt a slight uncertainty of re- the misty mountain-breast. I shouted, collection about our friend's road-map, too, as I made for it. Some shepherd's my recent ascent above the obscurer at- shealing, of course, or hunting bothy, mosphere was fortunate for the moment. lodged in that secluded covert; for Composedly enough, therefore, I was which he had doubtless sped in supposed about to verify my impressions by Moir's chase of me! This much I could have careful letter, when I was greatly an- sworn of poor Ickerson. noyed to find it was no longer in my Alas! Utterly still and deserted it possession. Ickerson's thoughtless habits stood ; not a voice answering mine as I occurred to me, and a redoubled anxiety sprang in. Ickerson would have stayed now urged the precipitate speed I at there, hoping for help, if his foot had once put forth to rejoin him, down the ever crossed the threshold. So did not course of the stream; impatient of every I, however. The fancied smoke had turn by which it wound, now glittering been but a wreath of mist; I marked upward to a levin-flash, now sullenly only for an instant the weird and obsoplunging downward from the thunder- lete aspect of the uncouth hermitage, echoes. Not for myself did I shudder manifestly built long ago, over the very then, but for him-him, Ickerson, my cataract of a boiling torrent; at once heedless friend, doubly dear to me in bridge and dwelling, but for ages left those moments of remembrance. For solitary, like a dream of the bewildering well did I know what was the character desert. Then I turned to speed back of a Highland “speat” from the hills. again, at least with the certainty that The welter and roar of its foaming outlet Ickerson had not reached so far. was along with me, neck and neck, Powers above! Was I certain of any. among the mist and the wind-stirred thing, though ? Why, as I climbed bracken, right to the shore of that wild again, to return—glad to feel now the black tar, sulkily splashing where dry mist cleared—why did I reach the same heath had been. Heavens! Was my hill-brow so slowly this time, though foreboding realized so darkly! Not à with all my energies on the strain; trace of him—he was gone-his very rising at last, too, amidst such a hissing couching-place obliterated and flooded. storm-blast? I could see far, from ridge to ridge of grey bent-grass, islanded in plopping down again. By the expression mist-along, up, through shimmering of its eye, I saw that it was Ickerson, water-gully and shaded corrie. Where and I clutched my rod, summoning up was I going—what was that, yonder, so the last strength for vengeance; with slowly letting the vapour sink from it; stupid fancy, too, that I heard behind as a gleam of watery sunlight clove in me, in the wind, voices, yelps of dogs, shearing aside the upper clouds ? A bloodhounds, led on by some one who cairn of stones—solitary on a bare grey had lost the trail. rocky cone, riven and rifted. I was on A s in a dream, there came to my very the mountain-shoulder itself, making neck the grip of a hard hand ; before I hard for the top of Ben-Araidh !
could once more stumble onward. While A shudder for myself, it must be con close at my ear there panted a hot breath, fessed, ran through me. For a brief followed by a harsh voice that woke me space of time I dropped my head, giving up, but had no meaning in its yells. way to some unmanly depression of heart. Was I thought deaf, because I underQuickly I felt, however, that after all I stood it not, or because I stared at a was not lost. I had only escaped beyond bare-headed, red-haired savage in a track, and those dogging thoughts were rusty philabeg, with the hairiest red legs at my ear no longer. Taking out my imaginable, clutching me : for whom I small watch-seal compass, I carefully flatter myself, nevertheless, that in ordisurveyed the point in view, studying the nary circumstances I was more than a precise bearings, and taking fresh deter- match. As the case stood, I yielded up mination in with the act. Giving up my sole weapon with a weak attempt at Ickerson, well-nigh for a few minutes scorn only. Needless were his fellowforgotten, I took a new course; and caterans, springing and hallooing down steadily, but rapidly, for bare hope of from every quarter of the hill, at his cry life, began to plunge direct down for of triumph. With a refinement of barthat spot disdained so lately—that un- barism, a horn of some fiery cordial, couth and mysterious booth of unknown flavouring of antique Pictish art, was antiquity.
applied to my feeble lips; to save them Staggering down for it at last in vain, the pains, no doubt, of carriage to their slipping, sometimes reeling on, then haunt. Reviving as it was to every squelching into a quagmire, I yielded in vital energy, I could have drained it to the end. I collected myself to perish. It the bottom, heedless of their fiendish was warm, positively warm below there, laughter, but that some one rushed up beside the marshy navel of that hollow breathless, forcing it away. I looked up in the valley, of which I had not before and saw, as a dark presentiment had seen the least likeness. There, soft white told me, Ickerson himself. A train of lichens and emerald heaths, and pale dire suspicions poured upon my mind coral-like fungous water-growths, were while I heard his explanations, while marbled and veined together, into a I came back to sober reality. Never had silent whirl of fairy moss, lovelier than his vague political theories squared with any sea-shell of Singapore. I looked at my own practical views : had his Celtic it, seeing not only how beautiful, but leanings entangled him in some deephow secret it was. A great secret it laid plot, of which Moir and he were began to tell me as I sat. It was Loch- accomplices—I the silly victim, unless na-Diomhair, I thought, which we had a proselyte ? Nay-bis genuine delight, so foolishly been in quest of. There was his affectionate joy convinced me I could perfect welcome, and peace, and our depend upon him yet, as he fell upon friend Moir-so that I could have slept, my neck like Esau, informing me how but that a little black water-hen, or a simple the facts had been. Too tutelary dab-chick, out of a contiguous pool, only, if not triumphant, that manner of emerged up suddenly, with a round statement about the sheep-drivers on bright eye, squeaking at me, and not the hill who had seen me, of the actual
distillers who were present, the supposition that I was the English gauger, and the safe vicinity, amidst that drenching rain, of the smuggling-bothy. There is a coolness, there is a depth about the character of Mark Ickerson, which even yet I have to fathom. He now used the Erse tongue like a truncheon: and in all he said, did those heathery-looking Kernes place implicit faith ; conducting us to their den with welcome, nay resuming their operations before us, in which he even went so far as to join zealously. Indeed, for my own part, I have an impression that there is considerable vivacity in the Gaelic language, and that it has a singular power of communicating social and mirthful ideas. I now look back upon my enjoyment of its jests or lyric effusions with a feeling of surprise ; except as indicative of an habitual courtesy, and of a certain aptness in me to catholic sympathies with all classes or races of men.
We were not going, however, to live perpetually in a mist, which bade fair to continue up there ; neither was it desirable that Ickerson should become permanently an illicit distiller, speaking Gaelic only. Happily there was of the party a man, of course accidentally present, and by no means connected with systematic fraud against the excise, who could guide us in fog or rain, by day or night, to our destination ; himself, it turned out, a Macdonochy, though rejoicing more in the cognomen of “Dochart.” How or in what manner, along with this Dochart, we emerged gradually from the mist upon a wet green knoll of fern and juniper, fairly into the splendour of the west, striking down Glen-Samhach itself,—how we all three descended with augmented spirits, till the long expanse of the lake glittered upon our sight, and then the scattered smoke of huts grew visible, — it were difficult, if it had been judicious, to relate. There is to this hour something confused about that memorable short cut altogether, more especially as to its close. Only, that some one, probably Ickerson, struck up a stave of a song, German or Gaelic, in the refrain of which we
all joined, not excepting the elderly Dochart..
All at once we were close upon the schoolmaster's house, a homely enough cottage, where Moir's head-quarters had been established ; at one end of the clachan, before you reach the lake. He had made himself at home as usual ; and, though surprised at our despatch, of course welcomed us gladly. A pleasant, lively young fellow, Frank Moir : former college-mate of us both, though but for a term or two, ere he turned aside to commerce. And who can enjoy the Highlands like a London man born north of Tweed; or enjoy, for that matter, a tumbler or so of genuine Highland toddy, with the true peaty flavour from up some Ben-Araidh ; conversing of past days and present life, to more indigenous friends ? We too relished it to the utmost. The pursuers were left behind us, unable to follow. Finally, Ickerson and I, on two boxedin beds of blanket over heather at the end next the cowshed, with the partition not up to the rafters between us and its wheezy occupants, slept the sweetest sleep of many months.
AN UNLOOKED-FOR CATASTROPHE.
That first whole day of untroubled, silent, secluded safety, upon the sunlit waters of Loch-na-Diomhair, how indescribable was it! We heeded little the first day, how our sporting successes might be ensured ; excepting Moir only, to whom nature is rather the pretext for fishing, than vice versâ as with most intellectual workers, like us who followed his guidance. A boat, at any rate, was the first desire of all three ; and as a boat was at the schoolmaster's command, we put it to immediate use. “This day, O Moir," says Ickerson, in his quaint way, “let Brown indulge that idle vein of his—while we revel, rather, in the exertion so congenial to us. Yesterday, he perhaps had enough of that. Nevertheless, let him take the oars to himself, that we may troll these waters as he enjoys his visions-see
what a sweep of blue loch! Yea, past ousness of Mohawks upon the chase ; the lee of the trees, yonder, what a so that down, down, in the nearer profavouring ripple of a breeze—too soon found beneath us, our sea-trout must to be lost, I fear me !"
sound himself perforce, then, after a The sly pretender, he had an advantage sullen pause, come up exhausted, to show over me yet. It was not I, but he, who but a few, more freaks of desperation, inclined to inert dreaming; as we floated and, turning its yellow side to the sun, forth on an expanse as yet distinguishable yield to the insidious pole-net at last. by very little from other lakes, with no A solid three-pounder at the least, plump, features of extraordinary beauty ; but lustrous, red-spotted; the pledge, merely, solitary, bare, spreading on wider till it of a splendid future in Loch-Diomhair. folded between two promontories of wild We rejoiced over it, drank over it the hill. And then, with the first buoyant first quaich of that day's mountain-dew, sense of depth-of liquid force taken and were thenceforth vowed to the enhold upon by the oar in a conscious grossing pursuit in which Frank Moir hand, to be wrestled with at least for revelled. Little matter was it then, exercise—what refreshment, what exul- save for this object, how magnificent tation at your measureless might, your the reach of open water visible, lost in endless outgoings, your inexhaustible distant perspective; with here and there sources, O ye abundant and joyous a soft shore of copse, rising into a hill of waters! Anywhere—anywhere with ye, wood; a little island dotting the liquid for Loch-Diomhair is but a name, that space : on either side, the shadowy in itself would soon disappoint us. recesses of glens looking forth, purpleAnd Ickerson, too, cheated of his evasive mouthed; midway to one hand, the resort to the rod and its lazy pleasures, great shoulders and over-peering top of is held in emulous unison with me, by Ben-Araidh, supreme over all, beginning the ash-stave he has not time to lay faintly to be reflected as the breeze failed. aside; till insensibly we are trying our But there was one grim, grey, castellated strength together, and our power to old house, projected on a low point, modulate it harmoniously, while Moir's which our friend denoted to us; the will becomes ours, as he stands erect abode of the Macdonochy, who looked before us, but backward—his minnow forth with jealous preservation-law upon spinning astern, his eye intent, hand the sport of strangers. Nearer to us, he ready, the ends of his somewhat sump- showed, as we were glad to find, the tuous neckerchief fluttering with the more modest yet wealthier residence of swift smooth motion. A sudden jerk that English merchant, Mr. St. Clair, at last, a whirr, the running reel is who had purchased there of late his tremulous with his first sea-trout of the summer retreat: and the St. Clairs were season, which shows play in good earnest, far more liberal of their rights, although making straight for open water through it was said the young Macdonochy had yonder reeds by the point, where no line become an intimate at their lodge, twisted by tackle-maker's hands will aspiring greedily to the hand of its fair bear the strain.
heiress. At that, no Yankee whaling-captain Hence we turned our prow that way, can shout more excitedly, or more un- and, still rowing stoutly, were fain to reasonably demand superhuman exer- pass the hotter hours near shore, with tions, than Moir; when he required our oars laid by; trying for heavy pike in the double speed on the instant, to do all sedge-fringed bay. It was in order to but overtake the fin-borne fugitive, tail- find a pole in the nearest fence, on which propelled for its dear life; that he Ickerson's plaid might be spread as a might save the first tug upon his line sail, that he himself deliberately landed; as he shortened it quickly, with a subtile showing, I must say, a cool heedlessart! Yet we justified his expectations, ness of legality, such as his recent stillIckerson and I, putting forth the strenu- life might have tended to produce.
He came back in his leisurely style, ever partial, ever discovering their slowly relaxing his features to a smile, mutuality, so as to increase, and be interas he held up a glazed card of address, connected! Appearing improvident, unwhich he bore in triumph, along with calculative, unworldly—yet how does the paling-slab. We had, indeed, the world foster and pet him, playing, heard voices; and now found that as it were, into his hands. Even his Ickerson had fallen into sudden alter facile nature will not explain it-nor cation with a groom attended by two that diffuse, impersonal, lymphatic, selfsetters. The groom looked after him unconsciousness, which makes all sorts as he stepped into the boat, with the of people fancy him theirs while they timber shouldered still ; and I recog- are with him. He must have some nised the attendant of our two fellow- deep-seated ambition, surely, which he passengers across Inversneyd ferry. It has marvellous powers to conceal. But was not merely that he had been awed at all events we returned together toby Ickerson's stalwart dimensions : the wards our quarters at the schoolmaster's, truth was, that Ickerson, when detected in the clachan of Glen-Samhach, full of by him in a felonious act, had cha- Elysian prospects for many a day's racteristically insisted on giving his own rustication there. Loch-Diomhair was card to the groom, whom he commanded Utopia indeed—the very expanse we to bear it to the party of sportsmen he had sighed for, of Lethean novelty, of saw at hand. Thereupon, the young strange and deep Nepenthe, amidst a English officer, already known to us primitive race, who knew us not; a both by sight, had come forward smiling; rudely-happy valley, where the spirit of to waive further excuses, to make re- nature alone could haunt us, asking none cognition of Ickerson, and give in his of our secrets in exchange for hers. turn his titular piece of paste-board; At our re-entrance to the humble apologizing, also, for his awkward con- lodging, as the dusk fell, my first glance straint on the previous occasion. He caught upon an object on the table had discovered that Ickerson and he had where our evening repast was to be spread. mutualacquaintances in town, with whom It was a letter-a letter addressed in the former was, as usual, a favourite ; and some hand I recognised, to me. To knowing him thus by reputation before- me, of course, these ghastly pursuers hand, now wished the pleasure of cul- always come, if to any; and a vague tivating this opportunity, so long as our foreboding seemed to have warned me friend should be in the neighbourhood. as I crossed the threshold. It had not He was Captain St. Clair, Ardchonzie come by post, however : it was no Lodge: at which retreat, throughout the pursuing proof-sheet, nor dunning resporting season now opened, the captain minder, no unfavourable criticism, or and his father would be delighted to conventional proposal. Simply, what profit by Mr. Ickerson's vicinity, with bewildered me, till I read some words that of any friends of his who might in the envelope-an inclosure of Frank incline to use the boats, or to shoot upon Moir's letter from that spot to me, which the moor. And before Ickerson left, in I had read to Ickerson at Inversneyd, short, he had blandly reciprocated these and supposed him to have retained." I advances, sociably engaging for us all had forgot it again till I now saw it, and that we would use the privilege at an saw-by the pencilled note of Dr. early day; so that the hospitality of Trellington Blythe-what the fact had the St. Clairs, with the facilities and been. I had dropped it in my haste on amenities of Ardchonzie Lodge, might the little landing-pier, and it had atfairly be considered open to us three. tracted the sharp eye of Mr. M‘Killop The luck of Ickerson, I repeat, is some- as it lay. It was Mr. M‘Killop who, thing inexplicable. What a number of with a degree of inadvertence, as Dr. friends he has, without any trouble to Blythe's note explained, had read the him; and what a flow of acquaintances, letter before he looked at the address