Littell's Living Age/Volume 133/Issue 1714/The Marquis of Lossie - Part XIV
THE MARQUIS OF LOSSIE.
BY GEORGE MACDONALD, AUTHOR OF "MALCOLM," ETC.
THE MIND OF THE AUTHOR.
The next was the last day of the reading. They must finish the tale that morning, and on the following set out to return home, travelling as they had come. Clementina had not the strength of mind to deny herself that last indulgence — a long four days' ride in the company of this strangest of attendants. After that, if not the deluge, yet a few miles of Sahara."'It is the opinion of many that he has entered into a Moravian mission, for the use of which he had previously drawn considerable sums,' " read Malcolm, and paused with book half closed.
"Is that all?" asked Florimel.
"Not quite, my lady," he answered.
"There isn't much more, but I was just thinking whether we hadn't come upon something worth a little reflection — whether we haven't here a window into the mind of the author of 'Waverley,' whoever he may be, Mr. Scott or another."
"You mean?" said Clementina interrogatively, and looked up from her work, but not at the speaker.
"I mean, my lady, that perhaps we here get a glimpse of the author's own opinions, or feelings rather, perhaps."
"I do not see what of the sort you can find there," returned Clementina.
"Neither should I, my lady, if Mr. Graham had not taught me how to find Shakespeare in his plays. A man's own nature, he used to say, must lie at the heart of what he does, even though not another man should be sharp enough to find him there. Not a hypocrite, the most consummate, he would say, but has his hypocrisy written in every line of his countenance and motion of his fingers. The heavenly Lavaters can read it, though the earthly may not be able."
"And you think you can find him out?" said Clementina dryly.
"Not the hypocrite, my lady, but Mr. Scott here. He is only round a single corner. And one thing is — he believes in a God."
"How do you make that out?"
"He means this Mr. Tyrrel for a fine fellow, and on the whole approves of him — does he not, my lady?"
"Of course all that duelling is wrong. But then Mr. Scott only half disapproves of it. — And it is almost a pity it is wrong," remarked Malcolm with a laugh, "it is such an easy way of settling some difficult things. Yet I hate it. It is so cowardly. I may be a better shot than the other, and know it all the time. He may know it too, and have twice my courage. And I may think him in the wrong, when he knows himself in the right. — There is one man I have felt as if I should like to kill. When I was a boy I killed the cats that ate my pigeons."
A look of horror almost distorted Lady Clementina's countenance.
"I don't know what to say next, my lady," he went on with a, smile, "because I have no way of telling whether you look shocked for the cats I killed or the pigeons they killed, or the man I would rather see killed than have him devour more of my — white doves," he concluded sadly, with a little shake of the head. "But, please God," he resumed, "I shall manage to keep them from him, and let him live to be as old as Methuselah if he can, even if he should grow in cunning and wickedness all the time. I wonder how he will feel when he comes to see what a sneaking cat he is? — But this is not what we set out for. It was that Mr. Tyrrel, the author's hero, joins the Moravians at last."
"What are they?" questioned Clementina.
"Simple, good, practical Christians, I believe," answered Malcolm.
"But he only does it when disappointed in love."
"No, my lady, he is not disappointed. The lady is only dead."
Clementina stared a moment — then dropped her head as if she understood. Presently she raised it again and said, "But, according to what you said the other day, in doing so he was forsaking altogether the duties of the station in which God had called him."
"That is true. It would have been a far grander thing to do his duty where he was, than to find another place and another duty. An earldom allotted is better than a mission preferred."
"And at least you must confess," interrupted Clementina, "that he only took to religion because he was unhappy."
"Certainly, my lady, it is the nobler thing to seek God in the days of gladness, to look up to him in trustful bliss when the sun is shining. But if a man be miserable, if the storm is coming down on him, what is he to do? There is nothing mean in seeking God then, though it would have been nobler to seek him before. But to return to the matter in hand: the author of 'Waverley' makes his noble-hearted hero, whom assuredly he had no intention of disgracing, turn Moravian; and my conclusion from it is, that in his judgment nobleness leads in the direction of religion — that he considers it natural for a noble mind to seek comfort there for its deepest sorrows."
"Well, it may be so; but what is religion without consistency in action?" said Clementina.
"Nothing," answered Malcolm.
"Then how can you, professing to believe as you do, cherish such feelings toward any man as you have just been confessing?"
"I don't cherish them, my lady. But I succeed in avoiding hate better than in suppressing contempt, which perhaps is the worse of the two. There may be some respect in hate."
Here he paused, for here was a chance that was not likely to recur. He might say before two ladies what he could not say before one. If he could but rouse Florimel's indignation! Then at any suitable time only a word more would be needful to direct it upon the villain. Clementina's eyes continued fixed upon him. At length he spoke: "I will try to make two pictures in your mind, my lady, if you will help me to paint them. In my mind they are not painted pictures. — A long seacoast, my lady, and a stormy night; the sea-horses rushing in from the northeast, and the snowflakes beginning to fall. On the margin of the sea a long dune or sandbank, and on the top of it, her head bare and her thin cotton dress nearly torn from her by the wind, a young woman, worn and white, with an old faded tartan shawl tight about her shoulders, and the shape of a baby inside it upon her arm."
"Oh, she doesn't mind the cold," said Florimel. "When I was there I didn't mind it a bit."
"She does not mind the cold," answered Malcolm: "she is far too miserable for that."
"But she has no business to take the baby out on such a night," continued Florimel, carelessly critical. "You ought to have painted her by the fireside. They have all of them firesides to sit at. I have seen them through the windows many a time."
"Shame or cruelty had driven her from it," said Malcolm, "and there she was."
"Do you mean you saw her yourself wandering about?" asked Clementina.
"Twenty times, my lady."
Clementina was silent.
"Well, what comes next?" said Florimel.
"Next comes a young gentleman — but this is a picture in another frame, although of the same night — a young gentleman in evening dress, sipping his madeira, warm and comfortable, in the bland temper that should follow the best of dinners, his face beaming with satisfaction after some boast concerning himself, or with silent success in the concoction of one or two compliments to have at hand when he joins the ladies in the drawing-room."
"Nobody can help such differences," said Florimel. "If there were nobody rich, who would there be to do anything for the poor? It's not the young gentleman's fault that he is better born and has more money than the poor girl."
"No," said Malcolm; "but what if the poor girl has the young gentleman's child to carry about from morning to night?"
"Oh, well, I suppose she's paid for it," said Florimel, whose innocence must surely have been supplemented by some stupidity born of her flippancy.
"Do be quiet, Florimel," said Clementina: "you don't know what you are talking about."
Her face was in a glow, and one glance at it set Florimel's in a flame. She rose without a word, but with a look of mingled confusion and offence, and walked away. Clementina gathered her work together. But ere she followed her she turned to Malcolm, looked him calmly in the face, and said, "No one can blame you for hating such a man."
"Indeed, my lady, but some one would — the only One for whose praise or blame we ought to care more than a straw or two. He tells us we are neither to judge nor to hate. But ——"
"I cannot stay and talk with you." said Clementina. "You must pardon me if I follow your mistress."
Another moment and he would have told her all, in the hope of her warning Florimel. But she was gone.
THE RIDE HOME.
Florimel was offended with Malcolm: he had put her confidence in him to shame, speaking of things to which he ought not once to have even alluded. But Clementina was not only older than Florimel, but in her loving endeavors for her kind had heard many a pitiful story, and was now saddened by the tale, not shocked at the teller. Indeed, Malcolm's mode of acquainting her with the grounds of the feeling she had challenged pleased both her heart and her sense of what was becoming; while as a partisan of women, finding a man also of their part, she was ready to offer him the gratitude of all womankind in her one typical self. "What a rough diamond is here!" she thought. "Rough!" echoed her heart: "how is he rough? What fault could the most fastidious find with his manners? True, he speaks as a servant; and where would be his manners if he did not? But neither in tone, expression nor way of thinking is he in the smallest degree servile. He is like a great pearl, clean out of the sea — bred, it is true, in the midst of strange surroundings, but pure as the moonlight; and if a man, so environed, yet has grown so grand, what might he not become with such privileges as ——"
Good Clementina! what did she mean? Did she imagine that such mere gifts as she might give him could do for him more than the great sea, with the torment and conquest of its winds and tempests? more than his own ministrations of love and victories over passion and pride? What the final touches of the shark-skin are to the marble that stands lord of the flaming bow, that only can wealth and position be to the man who has yielded neither to the judgments of the world nor the drawing of his own inclinations, and so has submitted himself to the chisel and mallet of his Maker. Society is the barber who trims a man's hair, often very badly too, and pretends he made it grow. If her owner should take her, body and soul, and make of her being a gift to his — ah, then indeed! But Clementina was not yet capable of perceiving that, while what she had in her thought to offer might hurt him, it could do him little good. Her feeling concerning him, however, was all the time far indeed from folly. Not for a moment did she imagine him in love with her. Possibly she admired him too much to attribute to him such an intolerable and insolent presumption as that would have appeared to her own inferior self. Still, she was far indeed from certain, were she, as befits the woman so immeasurably beyond even the aspiration of the man, to make him offer implicit of hand and havings, that he would reach out his hand to take them. And certainly that she was not going to do; in which determination, whether she knew it or not, there was as much modesty and gracious doubt of her own worth as there was pride and maidenly recoil. In one resolve she was confident, that her behavior toward him should be such as to keep him just where he was, affording him no smallest excuse for taking one step nearer, and they would soon be in London, where she would see nothing — or next to nothing — more of him. But should she ever cease to thank God — that was, if ever she came to find him — that in this room he had shown her what he could do in the way of making a man? Heartily she wished she knew a nobleman or two like him. In the mean time she meant to enjoy with carefulness the ride to London, after which things should be as before they left.
The morning arrived; they finished breakfast; the horses came round and stood at the door, all but Kelpie. The ladies mounted. Ah, what a morning to leave the country and go back to London! The sun shone clear on the dark pine woods; the birds were radiant in song; all under the trees the ferns were unrolling each its mystery of ever-generating life; the soul of the summer was there, whose mere idea sends the heart into the eyes, while itself flits mocking from the cage of words. A gracious mystery it was — in the air, in the sun, in the earth, in their own hearts. The lights of heaven mingled and played with the shadows of the earth, which looked like the souls of the trees, that had been out wandering all night, and had been overtaken by the sun ere they could re-enter their dark cells. Every motion of the horses under them was like a throb of the heart of the earth, every bound like a sigh of her bliss. Florimel shouted almost like a boy with ecstasy, and Clementina's moonlight went very near changing into sunlight as she gazed and breathed and knew that she was alive.
They started without Malcolm, for he must always put his mistress up and then go back to the stable for Kelpie. In a moment they were in the wood, crossing its shadows. It was like swimming their horses through a sea of shadows. Then came a little stream, and the horses splashed it about like children from very gamesomeness. Half a mile more, and there was a saw-mill with a mossy wheel, a pond behind dappled with sun and shade, a dark rush of water along a brown trough, and the air full of the sweet smell of sawn wood. Clementina had not once looked behind, and did not know whether Malcolm had yet joined them or not. All at once the wild vitality of Kelpie filled the space beside her, and the voice of Malcolm was in her ears. She turned her head. He was looking very solemn.
"Will you let me tell you, my lady, what this always makes me think of?" he said.
"What in particular do you mean?" returned Clementina coldly.
"This smell of new-sawn wood that fills the air, my lady."
She bowed her head.
"It makes me think of Jesus in his father's workshop," said Malcolm — "how he must have smelled the same sweet scent of the trees of the world, broken for the uses of men, that is now so sweet to me. Oh, my lady, it makes the earth very holy and very lovely to think that as we are in the world, so was he in the world. Oh, my lady, think! If God should be so nearly one with us that it was nothing strange to him thus to visit his people! that we are not the offspring of the soulless tyranny of law that knows not even its own self, but the children of an unfathomable wonder, of which science gathers only the foam-bells on the shore — children in the house of a living Father — so entirely our Father that he cares even to death that we should understand and love him!"
He reined Kelpie back, and as she passed on his eyes caught a glimmer of emotion in Clementina's. He fell behind, and all that day did not come near her again.
Florimel asked her what he had been saying, and she compelled herself to repeat a part of it.
"He is always saying such odd, out-of-the-way things," remarked Florimel. "I used sometimes, like you, to fancy him a little astray, but I soon found I was wrong. I wish you could have heard him tell a story he once told my father and me. It was one of the wildest you ever heard. I can't tell to this day whether he believed it himself or not. He told it quite as if he did."
"Could you not make him tell it again as we ride along? It would shorten the way."
"Do you want the way shortened? I don't. But indeed it would not do to tell it so. It ought to be heard just where I heard it — at the foot of the ruined castle where the dreadful things in it took place. You must come and see me at Lossie House in the autumn, and then he shall tell it you. Besides, it ought to be told in Scotch, and there you will soon learn enough to follow it: half the charm depends on that."Although Malcolm did not again approach Clementina that day, he watched almost her every motion as she rode. Her lithe graceful back and shoulders — for she was a rebel against the fashion of the day in dress as well as in morals, and believing in the natural stay of the muscles, had found them responsive to her trust — the noble poise of her head, and the motions of her arms, easy yet decided, were ever present to him, though sometimes he could hardly have told whether to his sight or his mind — now in the radiance of the sun, now in the shadow of the wood, now against the green of the meadow, now against the blue of the sky, and now in the faint moonlight, through which he followed, as a ghost in the realms of Hades might follow the ever-fitting phantom of his love. Day glided after day. Adventure came not near them. Soft and lovely as a dream the morning dawned, the noon flowed past, the evening came; and the death that followed was yet sweeter than the life that had gone before. Through it all, day-dream and nightly trance, radiant air and moony mist, before him glode the shape of Clementina, its every motion a charm. After that shape he could have been content — oh, how content! — to ride on and on through the ever-unfolding vistas of an eternal succession. Occasionally his mistress would call him to her, and then he would have one glance at the dayside of the wondrous world he had been following. Somewhere within it must be the word of the living One. Little he thought that all the time she was thinking more of him who had spoken that word in her hearing. That he was the object of her thoughts not a suspicion crossed the mind of the simple youth. How could he imagine a lady like her taking a fancy to what, for all his marquisate, he still was in his own eyes, a raw young fisherman, only just learning how to behave himself decently? No doubt, ever since she began to listen to reason, the idea of her had been spreading like a sweet odor in his heart, but not because she had listened to him. The very fullness of his admiration had made him wrathful with the intellectual dishonesty — for in her it could not be stupidity — that quenched his worship, and the first dawning sign of a reasonable soul drew him to her feet, where, like Pygmalion before his statue, he could have poured out his heart in thanks that she consented to be a woman. But even the intellectual phantom, nay even the very phrase of being in love with her, had never risen upon the dimmest verge of his consciousness; and that although her being had now become to him of all but absorbing interest. I say all but, because Malcolm knew something of One whose idea she was, who had uttered her from the immortal depths of his imagination. The man to whom no window into the treasures of the Godhead has yet been opened may well scoff at the notion of such a love, for he has this advantage, that, while one like Malcolm can never cease to love, he, gifted being, can love to day and forget tomorrow — or next year — where is the difference? Malcolm's main thought was, What a grand thing it would be to rouse a woman like Clementina to lift her head into the
regions mild of calm and serene air,
Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot
Which men call earth!
If any one think that love has no right to talk religion, I answer for Malcolm at least, asking, Whereof shall a man speak if not out of the abundance of his heart? That man knows little either of love or of religion who imagines they ought to be kept apart. Of what sort, I ask, is either if unfit to approach the other? Has God decreed, created a love that must separate from himself? Is Love then divided? Or shall not love to the heart created lift up the heart to the Heart creating? Alas for the love that is not treasured in heaven! for the moth and the rust will devour it. Ab, these pitiful old moth-eaten loves!
All the journey, then, Malcolm was thinking how to urge the beautiful lady into finding for herself whether she had a Father in heaven or no. A pupil of Mr. Graham, he placed little value in argument that ran in any groove but that of persuasion, or any value in persuasion that had any end but action.
On the second day of the journey he rode up to his mistress, and told her, taking care that Lady Clementina should hear, that Mr. Graham was now preaching in London, adding that for his part he had never before heard anything fit to call preaching. Florimel did not show much interest, but asked where, and Malcolm fancied he could see Lady Clementina make a mental note of the place.
"If only," he thought, "she would let the power of that man's faith have a chance of influencing her, all would be well."
The ladies talked a good deal, but Florimel was not in earnest about anything, and for Clementina to have turned the conversation upon those possibilities, dim-dawning through the chaos of her world, which had begun to interest her, would have been absurd, especially since such was her confusion and uncertainty that she could not tell whether they were clouds or mountains, shadows or continents. Besides, why give a child sovereigns to play with when counters or dominos would do as well? Clementina's thoughts could not have passed into Florimel and become her thoughts. Their hearts, their natures, must come nearer first. Advise Florimel to disregard rank, and marry the man she loved! As well counsel the child to give away the cake he would cry for with intensified selfishness the moment he had parted with it! Still, there was that in her feeling for Malcolm which rendered her doubtful in Florimel's presence.
Between the grooms little passed. Griffith's contempt for Malcolm found its least offensive expression in silence, its most offensive in the shape of his countenance. He could not make him the simplest reply without a sneer. Malcolm was driven to keep mostly behind. If by any chance he got in front of his fellow-groom, Griffith would instantly cross his direction and ride between him and the ladies. His look seemed to say he had to protect them.
The latter part of the journey was not so pleasant: it rained. It was not cold, however, and the ladies did not mind it much. It accorded with Clementina's mood; and as to Florimel, but for the thought of meeting Caley, her fine spirits would have laughed the weather to scorn. Malcolm was merry. His spirits always rose at the appearance of bad weather, as indeed with every show of misfortune: a response antagonistic invariably awoke in him. On the present occasion he had even to repress the constantly recurring impulse to break out in song. His bosom's lord sat lightly on his throne. Griffith was the only miserable one of the party. He was tired, and did not relish the thought of the work to be done before getting home. They entered London in a wet fog, streaked with rain and dyed with smoke. Florimel went with Clementina for the night, and Malcolm carried a note from her to Lady Bellair, after which, having made Kelpie comfortable, he went to his lodgings.
When he entered the curiosity-shop the woman received him with evident surprise, and when he would have passed through to the stair, stopped him with the unwelcome information that, finding he did not return, and knowing nothing about himself or his occupation, she had, as soon as the week for, which he had paid in advance was out, let the room to an old lady from the country.
"It is no great matter to me," said Malcolm, thoughtful over the woman's want of confidence in him, for he had rather liked her, "only I am sorry you could not trust me a little."
"It's all you know, young man," she returned. "People as live in London must take care of theirselves, not wait for other people to do it. They'd soon find theirselves nowheres in partic'lar. I've took care on your things, an' laid 'em all together, an' the sooner you find another place for 'em the better, for they do take up a deal o' room."
His personal property was not so bulky, however, but that in ten minutes he had it all in his carpet-bag and a paper parcel, carrying which he re-entered the shop. "Would you oblige me by Allowing these to lie here till I come for them? " he said.
The woman was silent for a moment. "I'd rather see the last on 'em," she answered. "To tell the truth, I don't like the look on 'em. You acts a part, young man. I'm on the square myself. But you'll find plenty to take you in. No, I can't do it. Take 'em with you."
Malcolm turned from her, and with his bag in one hand and the parcel under the other arm stepped from the shop into the dreary night. There he stood in the drizzle. It was a by-street, into which gas had not yet penetrated, and the oil lamps shone red and dull through the fog. He concluded to leave the things with Merton while he went to find a lodging.
Merton was a decent sort of fellow — not in his master's confidence — and Malcolm found him quite as sympathetic as the small occasion demanded. "It ain't no sort o' night," he said, "to go lookin' for a bed. Let's go an' speak to my old woman: she's a oner at contrivin'."
He lived over the stable, and they had but to go up the stair. Mrs. Merton sat by the fire. A cradle with a baby was in front of it. On the other side sat Caley in suppressed exultation, for here came what she had been waiting for — the first fruits of certain arrangements between her and Mrs. Catanach. She greeted Malcolm distantly, but neither disdainfully nor spitefully.
"I trust you've brought me back my lady, MacPhail," she said: then added, thawing into something like jocularity, "I shouldn't have looked to you to go running away with her."
"I left my lady at Lady Clementina Thornicroft's an hour ago," answered Malcolm.
"Oh, of course! Lady Clem's everything now."
"I believe my lady's not coming home till to-morrow," said Malcolm.
"All the better for us," returned Caley. "Her room ain't ready for her. But I didn't know you lodged with Mrs. Merton, MacPhail," she said, with a look at the luggage he had placed on the floor.
"Lawks, miss!" cried the good woman, "where ever should we put him up as has but the next room?"
"You'll have to find that out, mother," said Merton. "Sure you've got enough to shake down for him. With a truss of straw to help, you'll manage it somehow — eh, old lady? — I'll be bound!" And with that he told Malcolm's condition.
"Well, I suppose we must manage it somehow," answered his wife, "but I'm afraid we can't make him over-comfortable."
"I don't see but we could take him in at the house," said Caley, reflectively. "There is a small room empty in the garret, I know. It ain't much more than a closet, to be sure, but if he could put up with it for a night or two, just till he found a better, I would run across and see what they say."
Malcolm wondered at the change in her, but could not hesitate. The least chance of getting settled in the house was a thing not to be thrown away. He thanked her heartily. She rose and went, and they sat and talked till her return. She had been delayed, she said, by the housekeeper: "the cross old patch" had objected to taking in any one from the stables.
"I'm sure," she went on, "there ain't the ghost of a reason why you shouldn't have the room, except that it ain't good enough. Nobody else wants it or is likely to. But it's all right now, and if you'll come across in about an hour, you'll find it ready for you. One of the girls in the kitchen — I forget her name — offered to make it tidy for you. Only take care — I give you warning: she's a great admirer of Mr. MacPhail."
Therewith she took her departure, and at the appointed time Malcolm followed her. The door was opened to him by one of the maids whom he knew by sight, and in her guidance he soon found himself in that part of a house he liked best, immediately under the roof. The room was indeed little more than a closet in the slope of the roof, with only a skylight. But just outside the door was a storm-window, from which, over the top of a lower range of houses, he had a glimpse of the mews-yard. The place smelt rather badly of mice, while, as the skylight was immediately above his bed, and he had no fancy for drenching that with an infusion of soot, he could not open it. These, however, were the sole faults he had to find with the place. Everything looked nice and clean, and his education had not tended to fastidiousness. He took a book from his bag and read a good while: then went to bed and fell fast asleep.
In the morning he woke early, as was his habit, sprung at once on the floor, dressed, and went quietly down. The household was yet motionless. He had begun to descend the last stair when all at once he turned deadly sick, and had to sit down, grasping the balusters. In a few minutes he recovered, and made the best speed he could to the stable, where Kelpie was now beginning to demand her breakfast.
But Malcolm had never in his life before felt sick, and it seemed awful to him. Something that had appeared his own, a portion — hardly a portion, rather an essential element of himself — had suddenly deserted him, left him a prey to the inroad of something that was not of himself, bringing with it faintness of heart, fear and dismay. He found himself for the first time in his life trembling; and it was to him a thing as appalling as strange. While he sat on the stair he could not think, but as he walked to the mews, he said to himself, "Am I then the slave of something that is not myself — something to which my fancied freedom and strength are a mockery? Was my courage, my peace, all the time dependent on something not me, which could be separated from me, and but a moment ago was separated from me and left me as helplessly dismayed as the veriest coward in creation? I wonder what Alexander would have thought if, as he swung himself on Bucephalus, he had been taken as I was on the stair?"
Afterward, talking the thing over with Mr. Graham, he said, "I saw that I had no hand in my own courage. If I had any courage, it was simply that I was born with it. If it left me, I could not help it: I could neither prevent nor recall it — I could only wait until it returned. Why, then, I asked myself, should I feel ashamed that for five minutes, as I sat on the stair, Kelpie was a terror to me, and I felt as if I dared not go near her? I had almost reached the stable before I saw into it a little. Then I did see that if I had had nothing to do with my own courage, it was quite time I had something to do with it. If a man had no hand in his own nature, character, being, what could he be better than a divine puppet — a happy creature, possibly — a heavenly animal, like the grand horses and lions of the book of the Revelation — but not one of the gods that, the sons of God, the partakers of the divine nature, are? For this end came the breach in my natural courage, that I might repair it from the will and power God had given me, that I might have a hand in the making of my own courage, in the creating of myself. Therefore I must see to it."
Nor had he to wait for his next lesson — namely, the opportunity of doing what he had been taught in the first. For just as he reached the stable, where he heard Kelpie clamoring with hoofs and teeth after her usual manner when she judged herself neglected, the sickness returned, and with it such a fear of the animal he heard thundering and clashing on the other side of the door as amounted to nothing less than horror. She was a man-eating horse! — a creature with bloody teeth, brain-spattered hoofs and eyes of hate! A flesh-loving devil had possessed her, and was now crying out for her groom that he might devour him. He gathered, with agonized effort, every power within him to an awful council, and thus he said to himself: "Better a thousand times my brains plastered the stable-wall than I should hold them in the head of a dastard. How can God look at me with any content if I quail in the face of his four-footed creature? Does he not demand of me action according to what I know, not what I may chance at any moment to feel? God is my strength, and I will lay hold of that strength and use it, or I have none, and Kelpie may take me and welcome."
Therewith the sickness abated so far that he was able to open the stable-door; and, having brought them once into the presence of their terror, his will arose and lorded it over his shrinking, quivering nerves, and like slaves they obeyed him. Surely the Father of his spirit was most in that will when most that will was Malcolm's own! It is when a man is most a man, that the cause of the man, the God of his life, the very life himself, the original life-creating life, is closest to him, is most within him. The individual, that his individuality may blossom, and not soon be "massed into the common clay," must have the vital indwelling of the primary individuality which is its origin. The fire that is the hidden life of the bush will not consume it.Malcolm tottered to the corn-bin, staggered up to Kelpie, fell up against her hind-quarters as they dropped from a great kick, but got into the stall beside her. She turned eagerly, darted at her food, swallowed it greedily, and was quiet as a lamb while he dressed her.