Once more the golden light
of a sunny spring day was shining on the
sapphire loch at the bottom, and overflowing at the rim of the
Cuagh Oir. But for all its flowing gold, there was grief in the
Glen--grief deep and silent, like the quiet waters of the little
loch. It was seen in the grave faces of the men who gathered at
the "smiddy." It was heard in the cadence of the voices of the
women as they gathered to "kalie" (Ceilidh) in the little cottages
that fringed the loch's side, or dotted the heather-clad slopes.
It even checked the boisterous play of the bairns as they came in
from school. It lay like a cloud on the Cuagh, and heavy on the
hearts that made up the little hill-girt community of one hundred
souls, or more.
And the grief was this, that on the "morrow's morn" Mary Robertson's
son was departing from the Glen "neffer to return for effermore," as
Donald of the House farm put it, with a face gloomy as the loch on a
dark winter's day.
"A leaving" was ever an occasion of wailing to the Glen, and many
a leaving had the Glen known during the last fifty years. For
wherever the tartan waved, and the bonnie feathers danced for the
glory of the Empire, sons of the Glen were ever to be found; but
not for fifty years had the heart of the Glen known the luxury of a
single rallying centre for their pride and their love till the
"young chentleman," young Mr. Allan, began to go in and out among
them. And as he grew into manhood so grew their pride in him.
as, from time to time, at the Great Games he began to win glory for
the Glen with his feats of skill and strength, and upon the pipes,
and in the dances, their pride in him grew until it passed all
limits. Had he not, the very year before he went to the college,
cut the comb of the "Cock of the North" from Glen Urquhart, in
running and jumping; and the very same year had he not wrested from
Callum Bheg, the pride of Athole, the coveted badge of Special
Distinction in Highland Dancing? Then later, when the schoolmaster
would read from the Inverness Courier to one group after another at
the post office and at the "smiddy" (it was only fear of the elder
MacPherson, that kept the master from reading it aloud at the kirk
door before the service) accounts of the "remarkable playing" of
Cameron, the brilliant young "half-back" of the Academy in
Edinburgh, the Glen settled down into an assured conviction that it
had reached the pinnacle of vicarious glory, and that in all
Scotland there was none to compare with their young "chieftain" as,
quite ignoring the Captain, they loved to call him.
And there was more than pride in him, for on his holidays he came
back to the Glen unspoiled by all his honours and achievements, and
went about among them "jist like ain o' their ain sels," accepting
their homage as his right, but giving them in return, according to
their various stations, due respect and honour, and their love grew
greater than their pride.
But the "morrow's morn" he was leaving the Glen, and, worse than
all, no one knew for why. A mystery hung over the cause of his
going, a mystery deepened by his own bearing during the past twelve
months, for all these months a heavy gloom had shrouded him, and
from all that had once been his delight and their glory he had
withdrawn. The challenge, indeed, from the men of Glen Urquhart
which he had accepted long ago, he refused not, but even the
overwhelming defeat which he had administered to his haughty
challengers, had apparently brought him no more than a passing
gleam of joy. The gloom remained unlifted and the cause the Glen
knew not, and no man of them would seek to know. Hence the grief
of the Glen was no common grief when the son of Mary Robertson, the
son of the House, the pride of the Glen, and the comrade and friend
of them all, was about to depart and never to return.
His last day in the Glen Allan spent making his painful way through
the cottages, leaving his farewell, and with each some slight gift
of remembrance. It was for him, indeed, a pilgrimage of woe.
was not only that his heart roots were in the Glen and knit round
every stick and stone of it; it was not that he felt he was leaving
behind him a love and loyalty as deep and lasting as life itself.
It was that in tearing himself from them he could make no response
to the dumb appeal in the eyes that followed him with adoration and
fidelity: "Wherefore do you leave us at all?" and "Why do you make
no promise of return?" To that dumb appeal there was no answer
possible from one who carried on his heart for himself, and on his
life for some few others, and among these his own father, the
terrible brand of the criminal. It was this grim fact that stained
black the whole landscape of his consciousness, and that hung like
a pall of death over every living and delightsome thing in the
garden of his soul. While none could, without challenge, condemn
him, yet his own tongue refused to proclaim his innocence. Every
face he loved drove deeper into his heart his pain. The deathless
loyalty and unbounded pride of the Glen folk rebuked him, without
their knowing, for the dishonour he had done them. The Glen
itself, the hills, the purpling heather, the gleaming loch, how
dear to him he had never known till now, threw in his face a sad
and silent reproach. Small wonder that the Glen, that Scotland had
become intolerable to him. With this bitter burden on his heart it
was that young Mr. Allan went his way through the Glen making his
farewells, not daring to indulge the luxury of his grief, and with
never a word of return.
His sister, who knew all, and who would have carried--oh! how
gladly!--on her own heart, and for all her life long, that bitter
burden, pleaded to be allowed to go with him on what she knew full
well was a journey of sorrow and sore pain, but this he would not
permit. This sorrow and pain which were his own, he would share
with no one, and least of all with her upon whose life he had
already cast so dark a shadow. Hence she was at the house alone,
her father not having yet returned from an important meeting at a
neighbouring village, when a young man came to the door asking for
young Mr. Cameron.
"Who is it, Kirsty?" she inquired anxiously, a new fear at her
heart for her brother.
"I know not, but he has neffer been in this Glen before whateffer,"
replied Kirsty, with an ominous shake of the head, her primitive
instincts leading her to view the stranger with suspicion. "But!"
she added, with a glance at her young mistress' face, "he iss no
man to be afraid of, at any rate. He is just a laddie."
"Oh, he is a YOUNG man, Kirsty?" replied her mistress, glancing at
her blue serge gown, her second best, and with her hands striving
to tuck in some of her wayward curls.
"Och, yess, and not much at that!" replied Kirsty, with the idea of
relieving her young mistress of unnecessary fears.
Then Moira, putting on her grand air, stepped into the parlour, and
saw standing there and awaiting her, a young man with a thin and
somewhat hard face, a firm mouth, and extraordinarily keen, grey
eyes. Upon her appearing the young man stood looking upon her
without a word. As a matter of fact, he was struggling with a
problem; a problem that was quite bewildering; the problem, namely,
"How could hair ever manage to get itself into such an arrangement
of waves and curls, and golden gleams and twinkles?" Struggling
with this problem, he became conscious of her voice gravely
questioning him. "You were wishing to see my brother?" The
man came back part way, and replied, "Oh! how does it--? That is--.
I beg your pardon." The surprise in her face brought him quite
to the ground, and he came at once to his business. "I am Mr.
Martin," he said in a quick, sharp voice. "I know your brother and
Mr. Dunn." He noted a light dawn in her eyes. "In fact, I
with them on the same team--at football, you know."
"Oh!" cried the girl, relief and welcome in her voice, "I know you,
Mr. Martin, quite well. I know all about you, and what a splendid
quarter-back you are." Here she gave him both her hands, which Mr.
Martin took in a kind of dream, once more plunged into the mazes of
another and more perplexing problem, viz., Was it her lips with
that delicious curve to them? or her eyes so sunny and brown (or
were they brown?) with that alluring, bewitching twinkle? or was it
both lips and eyes that gave to the smile with which she welcomed
him its subtle power to make his heart rise and choke him as it
never had been known to do in the most strenuous of his matches?
"I'm awfully glad," he heard himself say, and her voice replying,
"Oh, yes! Allan has often and often spoken of you, Mr. Martin."
Mr. Martin immediately became conscious of a profound and grateful
affection to Allan, still struggling, however, with the problem
which had been complicated still further by the charm of her soft,
Highland voice. He was on the point of deciding in favour of her
voice, when on her face he noted a swift change from glad welcome
to suspicion and fear, and then into her sunny eyes a sudden
leaping of fierce wrath, as in those of a lioness defending her
"Why do you look so?" she cried in a voice sharp and imperious.
"Is it my brother--? Is anything wrong?"
The shock of the change in eyes and voice brought Martin quite to
"Wrong? Not a bit," he hastened to say, "but just the finest thing
in the world. It is all here in this letter. Dunn could not
himself, and there was no one else, and he thought Cameron ought to
have it to-day, so here I am, and here is the letter. Where is
"Oh!" cried the girl, clasping her hands upon her heart, her voice
growing soft, and her eyes dim with a sudden mist. "I am so
thankful! I am so glad!" The change in her voice and in her
so affected Mr. Martin that he put his hands resolutely behind his
back lest they should play him tricks, and should, without his
will, get themselves round her and draw her close to his heart.
"So am I," he said, "awfully glad! Never was so glad in all my
life!" He was more conscious than ever of bewilderment and
perplexity in the midst of increasing problems that complicated
themselves with mist brown eyes, trembling lips, and a voice of
such pathetic cadences as aroused in him an almost uncontrollable
desire to exercise his utmost powers of comfort. And all the while
there was growing in his heart a desperate anxiety as to what would
be the final issue of these bewildering desires and perplexities;
when at the extremity of his self-control he was saved by the
"Let us go and find my brother."
"Oh, yes!" cried Martin, "for heaven's sake let us."
"Wait until I get my hat."
"Oh! I wouldn't put on a hat," cried he in dismay.
"Why?" enquired the girl, looking at him with surprised curiosity.
"Oh! because--because you don't need one; it's so beautiful and
sunny, you know." In spite of what he could do Mr. Martin's eyes
kept wandering to her hair.
"Oh, well!" cried Moira, in increasing surprise at this strange
young man, "the sun won't hurt me, so come, let us go."
Together they went down the avenue of rugged firs. At the highway
she paused. Before them lay the Glen in all the splendid sweep of
"Isn't it lovely!" she breathed.
"Lovely!" echoed Martin, his eyes not on the Glen. "It is so
sunny, you know."
"Yes," she answered quickly, "you notice that?"
"How could I help it?" said Martin, his eyes still resting upon
her. "How could I?"
"Of course," she replied, "and so we call it the Glen Cuagh Oir,
that is the 'Glen of the Cup of Gold.' And to think he has to
leave it all to-morrow!" she added.
The pathetic cadences in her voice again drove Martin to despair.
He recovered himself, however, to say, "But he is going to Canada!"
"Yes, to Canada. And we all feel it so dreadfully for him, and,"
she added in a lower voice, "for ourselves."
Had it been yesterday Martin would have been ready with scorn for
any such feeling, and with congratulations to Cameron upon his
exceptionally good luck in the expectation of going to Canada; but
to-day, somehow it was different. He found the splendid lure of
his native land availed not to break the spell of the Glen, and as
he followed the girl in and out of the little cottages, seeking her
brother, and as he noted the perfect courtesy and respect which
marked her manner with the people, and their unstudied and
respectful devotion to their "tear young leddy," this spell
deepened upon him. Unconsciously and dimly he became aware of a
mysterious and mighty power somehow and somewhere in the Glen
straining at the heart-strings of its children. Of the nature and
origin of this mysterious and mighty power, the young Canadian knew
little. His country was of too recent an origin for mystery, and
its people too heterogeneous in their ethnic characteristics to
furnish a soil for tribal instincts and passions. The passionate
loves and hatreds of the clans, their pride of race, their
deathless lealty; and more than all, and better than all, their
religious instincts, faiths and prejudices; these, with the mystic,
wild loveliness of heather-clad hill and rock-rimmed loch, of
roaring torrent and jagged crags, of lonely muir and sunny pasture
nuiks; all these, and ten thousand nameless and unnamable things
united in the weaving of the spell of the Glen upon the hearts of
its people. Of how it all came to be, Martin knew nothing, but
like an atmosphere it stole in upon him, and he came to vaguely
understand something of what it meant to be a Highlander, and to
bid farewell to the land into whose grim soil his life roots had
struck deep, and to tear himself from hearts whose life stream and
his had flowed as one for a score of generations. So from cot to
cot Martin followed and observed, until they came to the crossing
where the broad path led up from the highroad to the kirkyard and
the kirk. Here they were halted by a young man somewhat older than
Martin. Tall and gaunt he stood. His face, pale and
and lit by light blue eyes, and crowned by brilliant red hair, was,
with all its unloveliness, a face of a certain rugged beauty; while
his manner and bearing showed the native courtesy of a Highland
"You are seeking Mr. Allan?" he said, taking off his bonnet to the
girl. "He is in yonder," waving his hand towards the kirkyard.
"In yonder? You are sure, Mr. Maclise?" She might well ask,
never but on Sabbath days, since the day they had laid his mother
away under the birch trees, had Allan put foot inside the kirkyard.
"Half an hour ago he went in," replied the young Highlander, "and
he has not returned."
"I will go in, then," said the girl, and hesitated, unwilling that
a stranger's eyes should witness what she knew was waiting her
"You, Sir, will perhaps abide with me," suggested Mr. Maclise to
Martin, with a quick understanding of her hesitation.
"Oh, thank you," cried Moira. "This is Mr. Martin from Canada, Mr.
Maclise--my brother's great friend. Mr. Maclise is our schoolmaster
here," she added, turning to Martin, "and we are very proud of him."
The Highlander's pale face became the colour of his brilliant hair
as he remarked, "You are very good indeed, Miss Cameron, and I am
glad to make the acquaintance of Mr. Martin. It will give me great
pleasure to show Mr. Martin the little falls at the loch's end, if
he cares to step that far." If Mr. Martin was conscious of any
great desire to view the little falls at the loch's end, his face
most successfully dissembled any such feeling, but to the little
falls he must go as the schoolmaster quietly possessed himself of
him and led him away, while Miss Cameron, with never a thought of
either of them, passed up the broad path into the kirkyard. There,
at the tower's foot, she came upon her brother, prone upon the
little grassy mound, with arms outspread, as if to hold it in
embrace. At the sound of his sister's tread upon the gravel, he
raised himself to his knees swiftly, and with a fierce gesture, as
if resenting intrusion.
"Oh, it is you, Moira," he said quietly, sinking down upon the
grass. At the sight of his tear-stained, haggard face, the girl
ran to him with a cry, and throwing herself down beside him put her
arms about him with inarticulate sounds of pity. At length her
brother raised himself from the ground.
"Oh, it is terrible to leave it all," he groaned; "yet I am glad to
leave, for it is more terrible to stay; the very Glen I cannot look
at; and the people, I cannot bear their eyes. Oh," he groaned,
wringing his hands, "if she were here she would understand, but
there is nobody."
"Oh, Allan," cried his sister in reproach.
"Oh, yes, I know! I know! You believe in me, Moira, but you
just a lassie, and you cannot understand."
"Yes, you know well I believe in you, Allan, and others, too,
believe in you. There is Mr. Dunn, and--"
"Oh, I don't know," said her brother bitterly, "he wants to believe
"Yes, and there is Mr. Martin," she continued, "and--Oh, I forgot!
here is a letter Mr. Martin brought you."
"Yes, your Martin, a strange little man; your quarter-back, you
know. He brought this, and he says it is good news." But
Allan was into his letter. As he read his face grew white, his
hand began to shake, his eyes to stare as if they would devour the
very paper. The second time he read the letter his whole body
trembled, and his breath came in gasps, as if he were in a physical
struggle. Then lifting arms and voice towards the sky, he cried in
a long, low wail, "Oh God, it is good, it is good!"
With that he laid himself down prone upon the mound again, his face
in the grass, sobbing brokenly, "Oh, mother, mother dear, I have
got you once more; I have got you once more!"
His sister stood, her hands clasped upon her heart--a manner she
had--her tears, unnoted, flowing down her cheeks, waiting till her
brother should let her into his joy, as she had waited for entrance
into his grief. His griefs and his joys were hers, and though he
still held her a mere child, it was with a woman's self-forgetting
love she ministered to him, gladly accepting whatever confidence he
would give, but content to wait until he should give more. So she
stood waiting, with her tears flowing quietly, and her face alight
with wonder and joy for him. But as her brother's sobbing continued,
this terrible display of emotion amazed her, startled her, for since
their mother's death none of them had seen Allan weep. At length he
raised himself from the ground and stood beside her.
"Oh, Moira, lassie, I never knew how terrible it was till now. I
had lost everything, my friends, you, and," he added in a low
voice, "my mother. This cursed thing shut me out from all; it got
between me and all I ever loved. I have not for these months been
able to see her face clear, but do you know, Moira," here his voice
fell and the mystic light grew in his eyes, "I saw her again just
now as clear as clear, and I know I have got her again; and you,
too, Moira, darling," here he gathered his sister to him, "and the
people! and the Glen! Oh! is it not terrible what a crime can do?
How it separates you from your folk, and from all the world, for,
mind you, I have felt myself a criminal; but I am not! I am not!"
His voice rose into an exultant shout, "I am clear of it, I am a
man again! Oh, it is good! it is good! Here, read the letter,
will prove to you."
"Oh, what does it matter at all, Allan," she cried, still clinging
to him, "as if it made any difference to me. I always knew it."
Her brother lifted her face from his breast and looked into her
eyes. "Do you tell me you don't want to know the proof of it?" he
asked in wonder. "No," she said simply. "Why should I need any
proof? I always knew it."
For a moment longer he gazed upon her, then said, "Moira, you are a
wonder, lassie. No, you are a lassie no longer, you are a woman,
and, do you know, you are like mother to me now, and I never saw
She smiled up at him through her tears. "I should like to be," she
said softly. Then, because she was truly Scotch, she added, "for
your sake, for I love you terribly much; and I am going to lose
A quiver passed through her frame, and her arms gripped him tight.
In the self-absorption in his grief and pain he had not thought of
hers, nor considered how with his going her whole life would be
"I have been a selfish brute," he muttered. "I have only thought
of my own suffering; but, listen Moira, it is all past; thank God,
it is all past. This letter from Mr. Rae holds a confession from
Potts (poor Potts! I am glad that Rae let him off): it was Potts
who committed the forgery. Now I feel myself clean again; you
can't know what that is; to be yourself again, and to be able to
look all men in the face without fear or shame. Come, we must go;
I must see them all again. Let us to the burn first, and put my
A moment he stood looking down upon his mother's grave. The
hideous thing that had put her far from him, and that had blurred
the clear vision of her face, was gone. A smile soft and tender as
a child's stole over his face, and with that smile he turned away.
As they were coming back from the burn, Martin and the schoolmaster
saw them in the distance.
"Bless me, man, will you look at him?" said the master in an
awestruck tone, clutching Martin's arm. "What ever is come to
"What's up," cried Martin. "By Jove! you're right! the Roderick
Dhu and Black Douglas business is gone, sure!"
"God bless my soul!" said Maclise in an undertone. "He is himself
He might well exclaim, for it was a new Allan that came striding up
the high road, with head lifted, and with the proud swing of a
"Hello, old man!" he shouted, catching sight of Martin and running
towards him with hands outstretched, "You are welcome"--he grasped
his hands and held them fast--"you are welcome to this Glen, and to
me welcome as Heaven to a Hell-bound soul."
"Maclise," he cried, turning to the master, "this letter," waving
it in his hand, "is like a reprieve to a man on the scaffold."
Maclise stood gazing in amazement at him.
"They accused me of crime!"
"Of crime, Mr. Allan?" Maclise stiffened in haughty surprise.
"Yes, of base crime!"
"But this letter completely clears him," cried Martin eagerly.
Maclise turned upon him with swift scorn, "There was no need, for
anyone in this Glen whatever." The Highlander's face was pale, and
in his light blue eyes gleamed a fierce light.
Martin flashed a look upon the girl standing so proudly erect
beside her brother, and reflecting in her face and eyes the
sentiments of the schoolmaster.
"By Jove! I believe you," cried Martin with conviction, "it is not
needed here, but--but there are others, you know."
"Others?" said the Highlander with fine scorn, "and what difference?"
The Glen folk needed no clearing of their chief, and the rest of
the world mattered not.
"But there was myself," said Allan. "Now it is gone, Maclise, and
I can give my hand once more without fear or shame."
Maclise took the offered hand almost with reverence, and, removing
his bonnet from his head, said in a voice, deep and vibrating with
"Neffer will a man of the Glen count it anything but honour to take
"Thank you, Maclise," cried Allan, keeping his grip of the master's
hand. "Now you can tell the Glen."
"You will not be going to leave us now?" said Maclise eagerly.
"Yes, I shall go, Maclise, but," with a proud lift of his head,
"tell them I am coming back again."
And with that message Maclise went to the Glen. From cot to cot
and from lip to lip the message sped, that Mr. Allan was himself
again, and that, though on the morrow's morn he was leaving the
Glen, he himself had promised that he would return.
That evening, as the gloaming deepened, the people of the Glen
gathered, as was their wont, at their cottage doors to listen to
old piper Macpherson as he marched up and down the highroad. This
night, it was observed, he no longer played that most heart-breaking of all Scottish laments, "Lochaber No More." He had
passed up to the no less heart-thrilling, but less heartbreaking,
"Macrimmon's Lament." In a pause in Macpherson's wailing notes
there floated down over the Glen the sound of the pipes up at the
"Bless my soul! whisht, man!" cried Betsy Macpherson to her spouse.
"Listen yonder!" For the first time in months they heard the sound
of Allan's pipes.
"It is himself," whispered the women to each other, and waited.
Down the long avenue of ragged firs, and down the highroad, came
young Mr. Allan, in all the gallant splendour of his piper's garb,
and the tune he played was no lament, but the blood-stirring
"Gathering of the Gordons." As he came opposite to Macpherson's
cottage he gave the signal for the old piper, and down the highroad
stepped the two of them together, till they passed beyond the
farthest cottage. Then back again they swung, and this time it was
to the "Cock of the North," that their tartans swayed and their
bonnets nodded. Thus, not with woe and lamentation, but with good
hope and gallant cheer, young Mr. Allan took his leave of the Glen
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