Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 5/The settlers of Long Arrow - Part 9
THE SETTLERS OF LONG ARROW.
A Canadian Romance in Thirty-one Chapters.
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After leaving the school-house, Francis hurried to the tavern, which he entered so impetuously, as very much to surprise and amuse a couple of idle fellows who were lounging at the door.
He found the master of the little schooner that had brought him to Long Arrow, and a couple of the sailors in the bar-room, waiting till the hour for supper arrived. “Get your boat ready as quickly as you can,” said Francis, addressing the skipper; “I’ve changed my mind about remaining here to-night, and must be off again immediately.”
The skipper drew a long inward whistle.
“Well, if you must,” he said, “I reckon it won’t be in the ‘Pretty Jane,’ for she don’t stir from her moorings this night, nohow.”
By a desperate struggle, Francis forced himself to speak calmly.
“I believe, Mr. Dawson, I have hired you and your boat for as long a time as I may want you, and if you wish to be paid for your services, you must obey my orders.”
“Not such unreasonable orders as them, I expect,” said Dawson; “me and my men are true, free Americans, not nigger slaves. If you’ve changed your mind we haven’t, and so you must just try and take it coolly till morning.”
“Take it coolly!” Poor Francis. But he knew very well giving way to his passion would not get him away from Long Arrow, so he took a wiser course.
“Suppose I engage to double the sum I agreed to pay you,” he said.
“Oh! that’s another thing,” said the skipper, laughing; “double pay, double work, any day in the year; we’ll all do a deal for the dollars. Ain’t I right, lads?”
The sailors assented; declaring, however, that they would not stir till they had had their suppers.
“But, I guess, what wind there is, is dead a-head,” said one.
“Never mind,” said Francis, “let us get away from this place, at any rate.”
“A few hours ago he was just as eager to get to it,” said the other sailor, half aside to his companion. “I guess he found it different from what he expected.”
“Is there any one else coming back with us, Mr. Coryton?” asked the skipper.
The sailors had all heard that they were to bring back a lady from Long Arrow, and arrangements for her accommodation had been made on board the schooner, under the directions of Francis, and some suspicion of his sudden haste to leave the place he had been so anxious to reach began to dawn on them.
“No one else,” said Francis, angrily. “But, good heaven!” he suddenly exclaimed, “I was forgetting that woman. Get your suppers, men, and I’ll tell her to get ready.”
He went into the “keeping-room,” but Vincent was not there, and the mistress of the tavern said she was taking a cup of tea up-stairs, for she felt very bad after her journey.
Mrs. Abbott did as she was told, but quickly returned, saying:
“She says you never sent her no such message, and that it’s all a mistake of mine.”
“Where is she? I must see her,” said Francis.
“Well, she’s in the best parlour, and the door’s just at top of the stairs.”
Francis flew up the stairs, half a dozen steps at a time, and found Mrs. Vincent sitting before a table well spread with Yankee dainties. She was a sharp, shrewish, affected-looking personage, and was sipping the bitter decoction of common green tea, which Mrs. Abbott had made for her, with many a wry face and bitter complaint.
But she was doomed to experience something still more bitter, and have the cup, which was better than none, snatched from her lips.
“Vincent, if you wish to return with me to Quebec, there is not a moment to lose; I’m going off instantly.”
“My good gracious, sir! what can you mean? I can’t believe you are in earnest. I protest I’m not able to stir hand or foot. I never heard of such unreasonable conduct in my life. Of course, I’’ couldn’t expect much consideration from you, but I think it shows very little for Miss Lennox to drag her off this way at a moment’s notice.”
“Miss Lennox—the devil!” exclaimed Francis, furiously. “Either get up, and come away this instant, or get back to Quebec as you can, for I’ll leave you behind me.”
Though greatly indulged by Mrs. Coryton, Vincent stood very much in awe of her young master’s fits of passion, and seldom liked to provoke them, but she could not control her indignation now.
“She had never heard of such barbarous conduct. After all the miseries she had suffered coming to that horrid place, all endured for his sake and the sake of her mistress, was she to be treated in this way? No better than a dog! But it was the way of the world. However, she wouldn’t sufFer it, not she; she knew what was due to herself better, thank God.”
Francis was now taking some dollars out of his pocket-book to pay Mrs. Abbott’s bill, but he looked up.
“Mrs. Vincent, you’d better make haste!”
“Well, they’re setting the sails, at any rate,” said Mrs. Abbott.
“And where’s the young lady?” screamed Vincent. “I don’t understand a word about it. Where’s Miss Lennox?”
“Don’t mention Miss Lennox,” cried Francis, in a paroxysm of rage, “or it shall be the worse for you.”
“I’d like to see you do anything to me!” cried the lady’s-maid, in a fury; “you’re not going to commit murder, I suppose? I’d like to know why I’m not to mention Miss Lennox. I’ve a whole lot of parcels and boxes for her, and if she’s not coming with us I suppose I must deliver them to her. It’s my duty to see Miss Lennox myself, and I’m sure my mistress would wish it. I only hope, Mr. Francis, you’ll be able to account for your conduct, that’s all!”
Throwing some money on the table, Francis walked up to the sofa on which Vincent was seated, took up her bonnet and shawl which lay beside her, thrust one on her head, and twisted the other round her throat to the imminent danger of choking her; then, seizing her by the arm, he dragged her down stairs, out of the house, and down to the wharf, to the infinite amusement of Mrs. Abbott and the rest of the spectators. At first the poor woman was really too much frightened to resist, and afterwards her dread of being left behind, of which she began now to think there was some danger, kept her silent and passive. So much subdued was she, that when two or three women came running after her from the tavern—one with her parasol, another with her handkerchief, and a third with her gloves, quite as anxious, probably, to see the end of the scene as to restore the goods left behind, she suffered Francis to send the women away with orders to throw the trash into the lake, or the fire, without making a single protest.
“Help this woman on board!” said Francis, as soon as they reached the boat.
“Ay, ay, sir!” said one of the sailors, grinning. “I guess that squall came on kinder sudden, ma’am,” he said, as he placed his charge safely on deck. “I expect it took all your sails aback.”
Speechless with rage and terror, poor Mrs. Vincent passed into the cabin to nurse her wrath, a and prepare a mental memorial of her grievances for the benefit of Mrs. Coryton.
The evening breeze now sprung up, and the schooner moved out from the wharf. The wind freshened, and ere long Francis lost sight of Long Arrow; wishing, as the last glimpse faded from his view, that all recollection of the pain and mortification he had endured there could vanish as easily from his memory.
But the wound his vanity had received went a long way towards curing his slighted love before I he reached Quebec.
“Helen,” said Keefe, that evening, as the lovers stood together by the lake, watching the silver light of a new moon blend with the golden light the sunset had left behind, and reflect their mingled tints in the glassy waters. “How is it that I receive the sacrifice of wealth and luxury, and position, you have made for me, so quietly? Is it presumptuous in me to feel I have that within me which can more than compensate to you for their loss?”
“Dear Keefe, you know they are as worthless and despicable in my eyes as in yours. Even if I had never known you, I could not have loved Francis; he is not false or bad, but he is vain, cold, and selfish; the world is his highest divinity, its decisions the strongest law. All that is highest and best in my nature would only meet with mockery and doubt from him, while from you I would be sure of sympathy and help.”
“And yet, if it had not been for you, Helen, all the finer faculties of my nature would have been shut up for ever.”
“Impossible, Keefe; in some way or other a soul so strong as your’s would have worked out its own deliverance. If I had not brought the key something else would have opened the lock.”
“More likely evil companions and example would have destroyed every germ of higher things before they could have reached the light. But now Helen is mine, and with her purity, love, and truth have become a part of my being,—never to be divided again from it.”
About three weeks after the death of the Count de Valette, just as the last rays of daylight were vanishing from the sky, a figure wrapped in a cloak of grey homespun, the hood carefully drawn down, descended one of the flights of steps which lead from the upper to the lower town of Quebec. Hurrying on through dirty treats, in which at the door of some tavern or store an occasional oil-lamp was beginning to glimmer, this person stopped at the door of a small house close by one of the wharfs, and, without knocking, opened the door and went in. The room, thus unceremoniously entered, served at once for a kitchen, eating, and sitting-room, and would have been a comfortable apartment but for the disorder and want of cleanliness which appeared in everything it contained. The door of a bedroom was open, displaying some good furniture, and papered walls, on which several framed prints of saints, and one of Napoleon, were hanging, but the same want of neatness which disfigured the outer apartment was visible here also. Another room could also be seen, which appeared to be a store-room, and from thence a strong odour of fish, cheese, and brandy, proceeded. A candle was burning on a chair near the stove in the kitchen, and beside it an old man was sitting on a stool mending a fishing-net, and whistling an old Irish air; a woman sat in a rocking~chair, at a little distance, smoking a pipe, and a man, who seemed asleep, lay on a wooden settee—a glazed hat pulled over his head.
The opening of the door made the man at the stove look up, and the woman, taking the pipe out of her mouth, gazed curiously at the intruder, who looked round the room without speaking.
“Would you be pleased to say what you’re wanting?” said Nelly Brady, suspiciously eyeing the muffled figure before her.
The stranger answered by slipping off her hood and disclosing the rich fair tresses and gleaming eyes of Coral.
“Ah, then it is you, yourself, my honey,” said Nelly, “sure I can’t believe my eyes? What, in the name of goodness, could bring a young lady like you alone through the streets at night, like some poor body that hadn’t a copper to bless themselves with?”
“If you wanted me or Nelly, why didn’t you send for us?” said Uncle Nick.
“I didn’t want either of you, Uncle Nick; I want Denis.”
“Denis!” cried Nelly, “I’m sure I don’t know what’s come over him; he’s not like the same boy he used to be since he came back from them Indians. Some days he never opens his lips to speak a word, or let a bit of food cross them, and more times he never comes home at all; and no one knows where he is; but he’s at home to-night, at any rate.”
Yes, he was there, close beside her. He had started up when his mother’s exclamations told him who the visitor was, and now stood looking at Coral with a pale, haggard expression in his face as if he had not slept for many days.
“I was afraid you had forgotten your promise, and had gone away without coming to see me,” said Coral. “Why did you not come?”
“I meant to go every day,” said Denis, “but day after day I put it off; I thought, perhaps, it would be the last time I should ever see you, and every day’s delay was like a reprieve to the condemned. But why did you come here!—why did not you send for me?”
“Why should I not come, if I choose?” she asked, with that pretty, graceful, half child-like air of haughtiness which she sometimes assumed.
“Do you think, like others, that it is so easy to tame wild birds? But they shall see, Denis. I want to speak to you by yourself. Let us go out to the wharf, nobody will be there.”
“And why would you go out to the wharf in the cold night air, honey?” said Nelly. “Sure Uncle Nick and I will just go into the other room and shut the door till you have told your little secret to Denis, whatever it is.”
“No, no,” said Coral, “let us go into the open air, where I can see the blue sky and the free river; I hate these stone-houses and high walls, they make me feel as if I were choking;—come!” And putting her arm through that of Denis, she drew him towards the door. He opened it, and they passed out together.
Now, from the time, Nelly Brady had actually seen the proud and stately Count de Valette, and beheld the luxury with which he surrounded his daughter, the hopes she had cherished of seeing Denis married to the heiress had vanished.
Her Irish respect for high birth and ancient dignities, which a true Celt can scarcely ever throw off, began to assert its inborn power over the principles of liberty and equality she had imbibed from her republican neighbours; and congratulating herself upon the comfortable little house the Count had given her, and the stout schooner he had bestowed on her husband, she had confined her ambition for Denis within more reasonable bounds, and contented herself with hoping that the Count would put him in some way of making his fortune when he should come to Quebec. When he at last arrived, the Count’s death had disappointed her expectations, and to add to her mortification, he appeared so listless, moody, and careworn,—so changed from the handsome, merry, light-hearted youth he had been at Long Arrow,—that she could only account for the alteration by the supposition that some Indian sorceress had cast an evil spell over him. But now, as she noticed Coral’s affectionate manner to Denis, and the confidence that seemed to subsist between them, and remembered that her haughty father was no longer alive to keep them asunder, her old project returned to her mind.
“I wonder what she’s got to say to him?” she said to her husband, as soon as the door was closed on Coral and Denis.
“Some child’s nonsense, I guess,” said Uncle Nick, working away at his fishing-net.
“It mightn’t be such child’s nonsense, if the boy got a rich wife that might make an independent gentleman of him all his life,” said Nelly.
Uncle Nick gave a long and contemptuous whistle.
“Are you at that folly again?” he said. thought you had got rid of it.”
“May be I have, and may be I haven’t; and as to folly, much you know about it, only you take delight in provoking me.”
“Well, why can’t you have a little more sense, woman? Don’t you know the Count left her and her money in hands that will take care of both.”
“Oh, then,” said Nelly, in a sentimental tone, “there’s many an old song and story that shows us gold and grandeur can’t keep true love apart.”
“Well, Nelly Brady, I’ll tell you what,” said Uncle Nick, “I’ve a better opinion of Denis than to believe he’s any thought in his head of taking a poor innocent girl like Coral in such a way; but if you’ve put the notion into his mind you’d better drive it out again as fast as you can, for if Father Jerome hears of it, it may be the worse for you, and I’m not the man to keep any secret. That’s all I’ve got to say.”
Half frightened, and very angry at his threat, Nelly broke out into a torrent of complaints and reproaches, while her husband, apparently not hearing, and certainly not heeding her words, went on with his work. In the meantime Coral led Denis out on the wharf, at which, as it happened, no boats were lying; it stretched far into the water, and there was a large shed built at the end. Here Coral stopped, and, and letting go her companion’s arm, leant against one of the posts and looked into his face. It was now the first week in October, and the day had been one of those lovely days never seen but in that month—still, serene, and clear, and with a soft golden brightness which stirs the fancy with a half regretful admiration akin to the feeling with which we gaze on the hectic brilliancy of a fair cheek touched by that “beautiful blight”-consumption, and sigh as we feel it is the signal of decay. The night was as lovely as the day had been: not a drop of dew was falling; clusters of stars looked down from the deep blue sky, and, in the east, the round moon was rising; tinting the few vessels and buildings that were in sight with her soft splendour, and steeping in light the river which, calm as glass, reflected the bright heavens, the anchored vessels, and the houses that lined its banks, in its clear mirror, and broke gently against the wharf in tiny ripples; at intervals a soft light waft of air passed over its surface, crisping it for an instant and then died away, leaving it calm as before.
Though in the midst of a large and busy town, Coral and Denis felt almost as much alone as if they had stood in the woods of Long Arrow.
“Denis,” said Coral, “do you know what a guardian means?”
“Yes, I think so,” said Denis, surprised.
“Well, Father Jerome is mine. He says he is to stand in the place of my father now, and he has sent a lady, Madame Beauvais, to live with me, and be what he calls my governante.”
“Is she unkind to you, Coral?”
“No, she is not unkind, but she is stiff, and stern, and gloomy, and she thinks me half mad, half wicked, and half a fool. I always feel fettered and bound when in her presence, body and soul; she freezes my heart and my blood as the free wild waters are bound by the breath of winter;—worse, for the waters thaw again in the spring, but if I stayed long with her, I should turn to stone.”
“Why do you not tell Father Jerome that she makes you unhappy?”
“Oh, it is no matter; she will not trouble me long. It is not about her that I want to talk to you.”
“Tell me what it is then, Coral?”
“Wait, and you shall hear all. My father had an estate in France, which he lost at the time of the French Revolution; but some time ago the Emperor gave it back to him, and invited him to return to France, and now that he is dead, Father Jerome says it is necessary for me to go there to get my claims acknowledged by the Emperor. Do you understand, Denis? He says that I must go at once to France.”
“To France, which is so far away?” said Denis.
“Yes; I told him that I did not wish to go, that the property my father left me in Canada was enough for me; but he answered that my father’s will commanded it, and that it was my duty to obey. I let him talk as he liked, but he only wasted his words. I shall not go to France.”
“Will you not, Coral?”
“Oh, Denis!” she exclaimed, clasping her hands and fixing her gleaming eyes on his, “do you forget that if I did, I should leave Keefe? Do you think I would go away from Keefe? No! not for all the joys ever promised to mortal on earth or in heaven! I will not go to France. I will go to Long Arrow.”
“Father Jerome will never allow it, Coral.”
“Do you think I shall ask him! Why should I? Why was I given sense, and feeling, and will, if I am to he a mean lump of clay, that another may mould as he likes? Why should I sacrifice my happiness to please Father Jerome?”
“But perhaps it would be better for you to go, Coral. You might come back in a year or two.”
“Oh!” she exclaimed, passionately; “every day has been a year to me since I left Long Arrow. And why do you talk of its being for my good? That is the way Father Jerome talks; the way people always talk when they want you to do something that would make you miserable for ever, or not to do something on which depends the happiness of your whole life. Good! Oh! What mortal can judge for another? I must see Keefe, Denis; I must go to Long Arrow. If you will help me, I shall get there much quicker and easier, I know; but whether you will or not, I shall still go. Even if you were to tell Father Jerome, or Madame Beauvais, and they were to try to prevent me, I should still go; and if they were to lock me up in a dungeon, I should die, and then no bars or bolts could hold my spirit: it would be free then, and in the woods once more.”
“But if your father were alive, Coral, what would he say?”
“My father loved me, and wished me to be happy in my own way; and if he sees me, or thinks of me now, he wishes it still. He cared for me, but Father Jerome does not; he tries to make me believe my father was like him; but I know better. Let Father Jerome take care of the lands, and gather them together, and do what he likes with them; but I am not without feeling or will: I have both. They think because for a while I have slept in soft beds, and under a ceiled roof, I and walked on thick carpets, and worn silk and lace, that I could no longer find rest on a bed of leaves under God’s free sky; they believe that I will sell myself to slavery, for the vile trash which they worship; but they forget that I have wild Indian blood in my veins, and that the wilderness is my proper home; and they do not know that I left my joy, and hope, and happiness in the wood: and there only can I ever find them again. My spirit is still as free and brave as when I used to sit at night on Scalp Head, with no one near me, and no one’s will shall ever bind me. I tried to submit myself to my father, because Keefe wished it, and because my father loved me, and was good to me; but even he never should have forced me from Keefe. There is but one law shall ever rule over me—the law of love!” and wildly looking up to the bright heaven above her, she exclaimed: “Hear me swear it, moon, and stars, and sky, that have watched over me from childhood, and that I have loved well!”
Pale, impassioned, beautiful with an unearthly beauty, she stood in the moonlight. Denis could have fallen down and worshipped her,—then how could he resist her wish? He was not very wise, he was not very learned; and it seemed to him that he would be doing better in helping to make her and Keefe happy, when no one else could be injured by it, than by leaving her to die of a broken heart among Jesuits and nuns.
“Coral,” he said, “I have no desire on earth but your happiness. What am I to do?”
“Will you help me, Denis? Will you, indeed, help me? Dear, generous friend—brother, I have no one but you to trust in.”
“'Well, Coral, what must I do?”
“See, here is money,” and she held a purse towards him: “my father always gave me plenty, that I might have it to give to the poor. I don’t know how much there is, but enough to take us to Long Arrow. You must hire a canoe and a couple of Indians, and have them ready against to-morrow night; I shall be here at dark, and then we must set off. Every minute will seem an age to me, till we have left this hateful place.”
“There are two Indians now in Quebec who would go with me to the world’s end. I’ll have them and their canoe ready by to-morrow night. But I don’t want the money, Coral; keep it till we get to Long Arrow; it may be of use to you there.”
“No. If you don’t want it, I’ll leave it behind me. I’ll take nothing away with me that I didn’t bring when I came, except this little cross” (and she touched an emerald cross that hung round her neck). “I will keep it in memory of my father, and it will depend on Keefe whether I ever claim anything more out of all he left me.”
Denis understood her meaning. If Keefe loved her as she loved him, when she should be his wife she would claim the property to which she was entitled by her father’s will; if Keefe did not care for her, neither it nor anything else in the world could be of any use to her.
“Well, Coral, do as you like. At eight o’clock to-morrow night I shall be here; but take care that your intention to escape is not suspected.”
“O, yes, I’ll be careful. And now I must hasten back, or I may be missed. You will not fail me, Denis!”
“You know I won’t, Coral.”
“Then farewell till to-morrow night,” and drawing her hood over her face, she sprang from his side, and darted up the street.
The next night, at the appointed time, Denis again stood at the same wharf. The night was as beautiful as the preceding one, the air filled with the same balmy softness, the sky as clear, the stars and moon as large and bright; nature seemed to smile upon their purposed journey; and Denis forgot his own slighted love in the generous and unselfish thoughts which filled his mind.
He had not long to wait.
A figure, almost flying along the shadowy side of the moonlit street, soon met his view, and in a minute Coral stood before him. She carried an Indian basket, containing a few precious trifles, and some clothes which she had brought with her from Long Arrow.
“Is all right?” she asked breathlessly.
“Yes, take hold of my arm, Coral, and come.”
Taking a basket from her, he led her round the shed to the other side of the wharf, where a canoe, containing two Indians, was lying.
With practised agility Coral sprang in; Denis followed, and the next instant the canoe shot away from Quebec.
One evening, in November, about dark, a canoe, containing four persons, paddled in to the shore at the very spot where, in spring, Keefe Dillon had landed with Helen Lennox and her father, when he had saved them from the wreck. These persons were Denis and Coral, and their Indian boatman. They had gone to Kingston in their canoe, and from thence to Toronto in a schooner; the rest of their voyage they had made in their canoe, and could have landed earlier in the day, but Coral would not go ashore till nightfall. The day had been chill, and cloudy, threatening rain, and towards evening a dark mist had gathered in the west, but it had not yet begun to fall. There was a moon, though a clouded one, so that the night was not dark; and the white dwelling-house, and farm buildings of Keefe’s home, with the stately butternuts standing sentinels before it, could be dimly seen on the heights. As soon as the canoe touched the land, Coral leaped on shore with a light bound.
“Remember, I am to go alone, Denis,” she said.
“Yes, Coral, it shall be as you like.”
Then she walked rapidly towards Keefe’s dwelling, and the canoe was turned towards the village. With wild speed Coral flew along the path. At one moment the thoughts of seeing Keefe, and of receiving such a welcome from him as her heart yearned for, made her heart throb violently, and sent the blood rushing to her cheek: the next moment the dread of meeting a cold, or careless reception checked the rush of emotion as if it had been frost-bound, and turned her flushed cheek the hue of ashes. She soon reached the little gate under the butternuts, and there she stopped, unable to move a step farther, and leaning on the gate, waited to recover breath, and courage to go on. She trembled like a leaf,—the deadly ‘sickness of mingled hope, fear, and eager longing came over her, and for a few moments she thought she was dying. The hope which had nerved her to bear all the hardships of her journey, without showing a single trace of fatigue, began to fail her now: suddenly she was roused by something smelling and snuffing round her feet, licking them all over, and whining in low stifled accents. She looked down, and saw Keefe’s little terrier expressing his joy at seeing her, and his sympathy with the pain his instinct told him she was suffering, in every way he could. Coral started on seeing him, for in former days Keefe’s dog was seldom far away from his master; and now she looked wildly round to see if Keefe too was beside her. But there was no one visible; so she gathered courage to stroke the little creature’s head, and call him fondly by his name; and be, sitting quietly down at her feet, gazed silently in her face, while she looked towards the house, and tried to gain her self-command.
There was nothing in the season or the weather to revive her drooping spirits; the butternuts were stripped of their leaves, and cast weird and spectral shadows on the ground: a wailing sound every now and then stirred their bare branches, and rustled the withered leaves lying in heaps around. The grass was brown and sere, and in the flower-beds the bare shrubs and dead flower-stalks showed like the skeletons of joys gone by; the very moon, burying herself in clouds, seemed hiding her face from the sad spectacle of the year’s decay. And now the rain began to fall, not violently, but a soft, thick, drizzling rain; and the dog, first gently pawing her dress, went a few steps towards the house, looking back, as if to coax her to follow him, and then finding she did not follow, came back to renew his entreaties.
“Well, Frisk," she said, at last, “let us go.”
She opened the gate, and walked steadily up to the house, while Frisk, with that instinctive knowledge of one’s wishes which dogs so often display, came noiselessly after her. A strong gleam of light came through the half-drawn curtains of one of the windows, and going close to it, she looked in. What did she see there, that struck so sharp and deadly a pang to her heart! Did she see Keefe ill, or dying? Not so: she saw him looking far handsomer and happier than of old; and leaning over his shoulder, as he sat working at some piece of ornamental wood-work, was a lady, young, graceful, beautiful,—of such beauty and grace as Coral had never before beheld: she spoke, and Keefe looked up at her with smiling fondness. To have met such a look from his eyes, Coral would gladly have died at his feet.
This was all that she saw. There had been many changes in that room since she had last seen it, but they were all innoticed by her; her gaze was fixed, was fascinated on Keefe and his companion, and she stood and watched them, little heeding the chill rain that each minute fell faster and faster.
“What can that be?” said Keefe. “Is it the wind?”
“It was like the moan of some one in pain," said Helen, anxiously.
“I guess it is only Frisk asking to come in,” said Keefe.
She went to the door, and opening it, called the dog; he was not to be seen, not was anything else visible.
“It must have been the wind,” she said, coming back, “for it’s beginning to blow, and it’s raining fast.”
“It was very like a cry of anguish,” said Helen.
“l’ll go out, and try if I can see any one,” said Keefe.
Helen followed him to the stoup, and he went round the house, but he came back in a few minutes, saying that nothing living was to be seen.
“Then it must have been the wind; but it frightened me strangely,” said Helen; “and where, I wonder, is Frisk?”
“He missed me when I was in the village, after dinner, but he'll soon be home, never fear; Frisk won’t lose himself.”
“Well, he won’t,” said Mrs. Wendell, "and now I’ll take up the cakes. Will you come and pour out the tea, Mrs. Dillon?”
When tea was over, and Mrs. Wendell had removed the tea-things, and taken her knitting, and her seat by the chimney-corner, Helen gave Keefe the “Lady of the Lake," and sat sewing beside him while he read aloud. Thus an hour soon passed away. Even Mrs. Wendell was moved to interest by those magic strains which stir the hearts of fair maidens and brave youths, as if with the sound of the trumpet; and can make the withered pulse of age throb once more.
A loud knock at the door disturbed the reader and his hearers, alike excited and absorbed.
“Who can this be, I wonder?" said Mrs. Wendell, and laying down her knitting which she had long held idle in her hands, she went to the door. On opening it, a young man in a blue pilot jacket and cloth cap presented himself.
“How are you, Mrs. Wendell?” he said, speaking, she thought, in a hurried and embarrassed manner.
“My gracious!” she exclaimed the next instant, “why it’s Denis Brady!”
“Denis!” cried Keefe, springing up, and seizing hold of him; “why, Denis, what joy to see you again!"
“Didn’t you expect me? Isn't Coral here?” asked Denis, yielding to the force with which Keefe drew him into the house.
“Coral! no—what do you mean?”
“Then where is she? She came here—I saw her climb the bank. Good God! where is she?”
He would have rushed out of the house filled with terror lest she should have thrown herself into the lake; for with love’s power of divination, he guessed that she had seen Keefe and Helen together, and known her to be his wife. Denis had heard of Keefe’s marriage at the village, and knowing well the effect it would have on Coral, had hastened in search of her, dreading some misfortune, he scarcely knew what, but nothing so terrible as the fears which now begun to take possession of him.
"Stay a moment," said Keefe. "Is it long since she left you? Are you sure she came here?"
“Yes, yes;” and in a few hurried, unconnected words Denis made Keefe understand how it happened that Coral was now at Long Arrow. “She must have heard—she must have found out—perhaps she saw her—” and he looked at Helen, whose presence restrained him from saying more.
“No one has been here this evening,” said Keefe; “most likely she has gone into the barn, or some of the outhouses; she knew them so well, and you know how whimsical she always was.”
Denis seized eagerly at this hope, and ran towards the barn, while Mrs. Wendell lighted a lantern and followed him.
“You are frightened, love," said Keefe, as he saw how pale Helen was.
“Oh, Keefe, that groan! It was hers; she was listening to us—looking at us, I suppose, through the window. Poor unhappy girl! Oh, Keefe, what shall we do if anything has happened to her?”
It was now Keefe‘s turn to feel alarmed. He had not recollected that wild moan till Helen reminded him of it.
“God forbid!” he said; “but happen what may, my darling, we are not to blame, and you must not look as if you thought we were, unless you want to make me miserable.”
“Dear Keefe, I know we are not to blame, but it is so dreadful to think of.”
“After all, I am sure we shall find her,” said Keefe; but though he said so to cheer Helen, he was himself as much terrified as any one, and instead of going after Denis to search the buildings in the yard, he hastened to the lake shore.
The rain had now ceased, and the moon was bright, but he could find no sign or footstep on the wet sands, nor any trace of her having been there; yet he shuddered as he climbed among the stones and cedars, and looking down on the dark heaving waters beneath, thought she might be lying, still and lifeless, under their waves.
“But why do I think such dreadful thoughts?” he muttered, “perhaps they have found her already."
Hurrying back to the house, he met Helen in the garden. Denis and Mrs. Wendell had searched every nook in the yard, garden, and orchard, but without success.
“She may have gone into the woods,” said Keefe; “why did we not think of them before?”
“More likely she is in the lake,” said Denis, with sullen despair.
“That I don’t believe,” exclaimed Keefe, but though he spoke confidently, he was far from feeling so.
At this instant Frisk rushed into the garden, and running up to Keefe, pulled his trousers eagerly with his teeth, and seemed by every moving gesture in his power to entreat his master to follow him.
“Frisk knows where she is,” cried Helen, “and wants to take you to her. Look at him, Keefe, I am sure that is what he wants."
All eagerly caught at this hope, and Keefe and Denis followed the dog, which ran on before, looking back every moment to see if they were coming. He led them through the garden and orchard into a path which conducted to the shanty formerly occupied by the Bradys.
“I feel sure we're right now," cried Denis, giving way to his naturally sanguine disposition. “She’s gone to our old home, and Frisk knows she’s there.”
“Yes, it must be so,” said Keefe. And with new hope and energy the young men followed the dog, which ran swiftly before them.