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Scenes and Legends of The North of Scotland
Chapter IX


“The scart bears weel wi’ the winter’s cauld.
The aik wi’ the gurly win’;
But the bonny wee burds, and the sweet wee flowers,
Were made for the calm an’ the sun."—Old Ballad.

The southern Sutor terminates, where it overhangs the junction of the Cromarty and Moray Firths, in a noble precipice, which, planting its iron feet in the sea, rears its ample forehead a hundred yards over it. On the top there is a moss-covered, partially wooded knoll, which, commanding from its abrupt height and semi-insular situation a wide and diversified prospect, has been known from time immemorial to the town’s-people as “ the Lookout.” It is an exquisite little spot, sweet in itself, and sublime in what it commands;—a fine range of forest scenery stretches along the background^ while in front the eye may wander over the hills of seven different counties, and so vast an extent of sea, that, on the soberest calculation, we cannot estimate it under a thousand square miles. Nor need there be any lack of pleasing association to heighten the effect of a landscape which, among its other scenes of the wild and the wonderful, includes the bleak moor of Culloden, and the  heath near Forres.” It is, however, to the immense tract of sea which it overlooks that the little knoll owes its deepest interest, and when, after a storm from the west has scattered the shipping bound for port, and day after day has gone by without witnessing their expected return—there are wistful eyes that turn from it to the wide waste below, and anxious hearts that beat quicker and higher, as sail after sail starts up, spark-like, on the dim horizon, and grows into size and distinctness as it nears tlie shore. Nor is the rock beneath devoid of an interest exclusively its own.

It is one of those magnificent objects which fill the mind with emotions of the sublime and awful; and the effect is most imposing when we view it from below. The strata, strangely broken and contorted, rise almost vertically from the beach. Immense masses of a primary trap crop out along their bases, or wander over the face of the precipice in broad irregular veins, which contrast their deep olive-green with the ferruginous brown of the mass. A whitened projection, which overhangs the sea, has been for untold ages the haunt of the cormorant and the sea-mew; the eagle builds higher up, and higher still there is a broad inaccessible ledge in a deep angle of the rock, on which a thicket of hip and sloe-thorn bushes and a few wild apple-trees have taken root, and which, from the latter circumstance, bears among the town’s-boys the name of the apple-yardie. The young imagination delights to dwell amid the bosky recesses of this little spot, where human foot has never yet trodden, and where the crabs and the wild berries ripen and decay unplucked and untasted. There was a time, however, when the interest which attached to it owed almost all its intensity to the horrible. The eastern turret of the old castle of Cromarty has, with all its other turrets, long since disappeared; but the deep foliage of the ledge mantles as thickly as ever, and the precipice of the Look-out rears its dark front as proudly over the beach. They were frightfully connected—the shelf and the turret—in the associations of the town’s-people for more than a hundred years ; the one was known as the Chaplain’s Turret—the other as the Chaplain’s Lair ; but the demolition of the castle has dissolved the union, and there are now scarcely a dozen in the country who know that it ever existed. .

I have said that the proprietor of the lands of Cromarty, in the early part of the reign of Charles II., was a Sir John Urquart of Craigfintrie, celebrated by Wodrow, though the celebrity be of no enviable character, as the person whose advice, strengthened by that of Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat, led Commissioner Middleton to introduce the unhappy Act which overturned Presbyterianism in Scotland. He was a shrewd, strong-minded man, thoroughly acquainted with all the worse and some of the better springs of human action—cool, and cautious, and skilful, in steering himself through the difficulties of so unsettled a period by the shifts and evasions of a well-balanced expediency. The current of the age had set in towards religion, and Sir John was by much too prudent to oppose the current. There were few men who excelled him in that most difficult art of computation, the art of estimating the strength of parties; perhaps he was all the more successful in his calculations from his never suffering himself to be disturbed in them by an over-active zeal; and believing, with Tamerlane and Sir Thomas, that the Deity usually declares for the stronger party, Sir John was always religious enough to be of the stronger party too.

About twelve years before his death, which took place in 1673, there resided in his family a young licentiate of the Scottish Church, a nephew of his own, who officiated as chaplain. Dallas Urquhart was naturally a soft-tempered, amiable man, of considerable attainments, and of no inferior powers of mind, but his character lacked the severer virtues ; and it was his fate to live in an age in which a good-natured facility of disposition was of all qualities the worst fitted to supply their place. He was deemed a person of more than ordinary promise in an age when the qualifications of the Presbyterian minister were fixed at least as high as in any after period;— there was a charm, too, in his pliant and docile disposition, which peculiarly recommended him to his older friends and advisers; for even the wise are apt to overvalue whatever flatters themselves, and to decide regarding that modest facility which so often proves in after life the curse of its possessor, according to an estimate very different from that by which they rate the wilful, because partially developed strength which thwarts and opposes them. Dallas therefore had many friends ; but the person to whom he was chiefly attached was the young minister of Cromarty—the “good Maister Hugh Anderson,” whose tombstone, a dark-coloured slab, roughened with uncouth sculpture, and a neat Latin inscription, may still be seen in the eastern gable of the parish church, and to whom I have already referred as one of the few faithful in this part of the country in a time of fiery trial. The two friends had passed through college together, associates in study and recreation, and, what is better still, for they were both devout young men, companions in all those acts of religious fellowship which renders Christianity so true a nurse of the nobler affections. And yet no two persons could be less similar in the original structure of their minds. Dallas was gentle-tempered and imaginative, and imbued, through a nature decidedly intellectual, with a love of study for its own sake. His friend, on the contrary, was of a bold energetic temperament, and a plain, practical understanding, which he had cultivated rather from a sense of duty than under the influence of any direct pleasure derived in the process. But it is probable that had they resembled one another more closely, they would have loved one another less. Friendship, if I may venture the metaphor, is a sort of ball-and-socket connexion. It seems to be a first principle in its economy that its agreements should be founded in dissimilarity—the stronger with the weaker—the softer with the more rugged. And perhaps, in looking round to convince ourselves of the fact, we have but to note how the sexes—formed for each other by God himself—have been created, not after a similar, but after a diverse pattern—and that their natures piece together, not because they were made to resemble, but to correspond with each other.

The friends were often together; the huge old castle, grey with the lichens of a thousand years, towered on its wooded eminence immediately over the town; and the little antique manse, with its narrow serrated gables, and with the triangular tablets of its upper windows, rising high in the roof, occupied, nest-like, an umbrageous recess so directly below, that the chaplain in his turret was scarcely a hundred yards distant from the minister in his study. There hardly passed a day in which Dallas did not spend an hour or two in the manse ; at times speculating on some abstruse scholastic question with his friend the clergyman, whom he generally found somewhat less than his match on such occasions; at times still more pleasingly engaged in conversing, though on somewhat humbler terms, with his friend’s only sister. Mary Anderson was a sylph-looking young creature, rather below the middle size, and slightly though finely formed. Her complexion, which was pale and singularly transparent, indicated no great strength of constitution; but there was an easy grace in all her motions, that no one could associate with the weakness of positive indisposition, and an expression in her bright speaking eyes and beautiful forehead, that impressed all who knew her rather with the idea of an active and powerful spirit than of a delicate or feeble frame. There was an unpretending quietness in her manners, and a simple good sense in all she said and did on ordinary occasions, that seemed to be as much the result of correct feeling as of a discriminating intellect; but there were depths in the character beyond the reach of the ordinary observer—powers of abstract thought which only a superior mind could fully appreciate, and a vigorous but well-regulated imagination that could bedeck the perfections of the moral world with all that is exquisite among the forms and colours of the natural. No one ever seemed less influenced by the tender feelings than Mary Anderson ; she loved her brother’s friend—loved to study, to read, to converse with him, but in no respect did her regard for him seem to differ from her regard for her brother himself. She was his friend—a tender and attached one, it is true—but his friend only. But the young chaplain, whose nature it was to cleave to everything nobler and more powerful than himself, was of a different temper, and he had formed a deep though silent attachment to the highly-gifted maiden of the manse.

Troublesome times came on ; the politic and strong-minded proprietor was no longer known as the friend of the Presbyterian Church, and the comparatively weak and facile chaplain wavered in all the agonies of irresolution, under the fascinating influences of the massier and wilier character. All the persuasive powers of Sir John were concentrated on the conversion of his nephew. Acts of kindness, expressions of endearment and good-will, and a well-counterfeited zeal for the interests of true religion formed with him merely a sort of groundwork for arguments of real cogency so far as they went, and facts which, though of partial selection, could not be well disputed. He had passed, he said, over the ground which Dallas now occupied, and was thus enabled to anticipate some of his opinions on the subject; he, too, had once regarded Christianity and the Presbyterian form of it as identical, and associated the excellencies of the one with the peculiarities of the other. He now saw clearly, however; and his nephew, he was assured, would soon see it too, that they were things as essentially different as soul and body, and that the Presbyterian form—the Presbyterian body, he might say—was by no means the best which the true religion could inhabit ! He pointed out what he deemed the peculiar defects of Presbyterianism; and summed np with* consummate skill the various indications of the subdued and unresisting mood which at this period formed that of the entire country.

“Men of all classes,” he said, “have been wearied in the long struggle of twenty years, from which they have but just escaped, and stand in need of rest. They see, too, that they have been contending, not for themselves, but for others—striving to render kings less powerful, that Churchmen might become more so. They see that they have thus injured the character of a body of men, valuable in their own sphere, but dangerous when invested with the power of the magistrate; and that they have so weakened the hands of Government, that to escape from anarchy they have to fling themselves into the arms of comparative despotism. But there are better times coming; and the wiser sort of men are beginning to perceive that religion must work more effectually under the peaceable protection of a paternal Government, than when united to a form which cannot exist without provoking political heats and animosities. Not a few of our best men are more than prepared for the movement. You already know something of Leighton; I need not say what sort of a man he is;—and young Burnet and Scougall are persons of resembling character. But there are many such among the belied and persecuted Episcopalians; and does it not augur well, that since the one Church must fall, we should have materials of such value for building up the other? I cannot anticipate much opposition to the change. A few good men of narrow capacity, such as your friend Anderson, will not acquiesce in it till they are made to distinguish between form and spirit, which may take some time; and leaders in the Church, who have become influential at the expense of their country’s welfare, must necessarily be hostile to it for another cause; for no man willingly parts with power. But certain I am it can meet with no effectual opposition.”

Dallas had little to urge in reply. Sir John had ever been kind to him, nor was his disposition a cold or ungrateful one; and, naturally facile and diffident besides, he had been invariably in the habit of yielding up his own judgment, in matters of a practical tendency, to the more mature and powerful judgment of his uncle. He could feel, however, that on this occasion there was something criminal in his acquiescence; but his weakness overcame him. He passed sleepless nights, and days of restless inquietude; at times half resolved to seek out Sir John and say that, having cast in his lot with the sinking Church, he could not quit her in the day of trouble—at times groaning under a despairing sense of his thorough inability to oppose him—yielding to what seemed to be the force of destiny, and summing up the various arguments so often pressed upon him, less with the view of ascertaining their real value, than of employing them in his own defence. Meanwhile whole weeks elapsed ere he could muster up resolution enough to visit his friend the clergyman; and the report had gone far and wide that he had declared with his uncle for the court religion. He at length stole down one evening to the manse with a sinking heart, and limbs that trembled under him.

Mary was absent on a visit; her brother he found sitting moodily in his study. The minister had but just returned from a Presbytery, at which he had to contend single-handed against the arguments of Sir John, and the votes of all the others; and, under the influence of the angry feelings awakened in a conflict so hopeless and unequal, and irritated by the gibes and taunts of his renegade brethren, he at once denounced Dallas as a time-server and an apostate. The temper of the chaplain gave way, and he retorted with a degree of spirit which might have given a different colour to his after life, had it been exerted during his earlier interviews with Sir John. The anger of the friends, heightened by mutual reproaches, triumphed over the affection of years; and, after a scene of bitter contention, they parted with the determination of never meeting again. Dallas felt not the ground, as, with throbbing pulses and a flushed brow, he hastily scaled the ascent which led to the castle; and when, turning round from beside the wall to look at the manse, he thought of Mary, and thought, too, that he could now no longer visit her as before, his heart swelled almost to bursting. “ But I am like a straw on the current,” he said, “and must drift wherever the force of events carries me. Coward that I am ! Why do I live in a world for which I am so wretchedly unfitted?” .

He had now passed the Rubicon. His first impressions he had resisted; and the feebler suggestions which afterwards arose in his mind, only led him to entrench himself the more strongly in the arguments of Sir John. Besides, he had declared himself a Mend to Episcopacy, and thus barred up his retreat by that shrinking dread of being deemed wavering and inconsistent, which has so often merely the effect of rendering such as lie openest to the imputation firm in the wrong place. There was a secret bitterness in his spirit, that vented itself in caustic remarks on all whom he had once admired and respected —all save Mary and her brother, and of them he never spoke. His former habits of application were broken up; yet, though no longer engrossed by the studies which it had once seemed the bent of his nature to pursue, he remained as indifferent as ever to the various pursuits of interest and ambition which engaged his uncle. After passing a day of restless inactivity among his books, he walked out a little before sunset in the direction of the old chapel of St. Regulus, and, ere he took note of where his wanderings led him, found himself among the graves.

It was a lovely evening of October. The ancient elms and wild cherry-trees which surrounded the burying-ground still retained their foliage entire, and the elms were hung in gold, and the wild cherry-trees in crimson, and the pale yellow tint of the straggling and irregular fields on the hill-side contrasted strongly with the deepening russet of the surrounding moor. The tombs and the ruins were bathed in the yellow light of the setting sun; but to the melancholy and aimless wanderer the quiet and gorgeous beauty of the scene was associated with the coming night and the coming winter, with the sadness of inevitable decay and the gloom of the insatiable grave. He passed moodily onward, and, on turning an angle of the chapel, found Mary Anderson seated among the ruins, on the tombstone of her mother, whom she had lost when a child. There was a slight flush on her countenance as she rose to meet him, but she held out her hand as usual, though the young man thought, but it might not be so, that the grasp was less kindly.

“You have been a great stranger of late, Dallas,” she said; “how have we been so unhappy as to offend you?”

The young chaplain looked as if he could have sunk into the ground, and was silent.

“Can it be true,” resumed the maiden, “that you have left us in our distress, and gone over to the prelates?” Dallas stammered out an apology, and reminded her that Christianity, not Presbyterianism, formed the basis of their friendship. “ The Church,” he said, “ had too long paid an overweening regard to mere forms j it was now full time to look to essentials. What mattered it whether men went to heaven under the jurisdiction of a Presbyterian or of an Episcopalian Church.” He passed rapidly over the arguments of Sir John.

“You are deceived, my dear friend,” said Mary. “Look at these cottages that glitter to the setting sun on the hillside. Eighty years ago their inmates were the slaves of gross superstition—creatures who feared and worshipped they knew not what; and, with no discipline of purity connected with their uncertain beliefs, they could, like mere machines, be set in motion, either for good or ill, at the will of their capricious masters. These cottages, Dallas, are now inhabited by 'thinking men; there are Bibles in even the humblest of them—in even yonder hovel where the old widow lives—and these Bibles are read and understood. We may hear even now the notes of the evening psalm! Wist ye how the change was wrought 1 or what it was that converted mere animal men into rational creatures? Was it not that very Church which you have, alas ! so rashly forsaken, and now denounce as intolerant? A strange intolerance, surely, that delivers men from the influence of their grosser nature, and delights to arm its vassals with a power before which all tyranny must eventually be overthrown. Be not deceived, Dallas ! Men sometimes suffer themselves to be misled by theories of a perfect but impossible freedom—impossible, because unsuited to the low natures and darkened minds of those on whom they would bestow it—and then submit in despair to the quiet of a paralysing despotism, because they cannot realize what they have so fondly imagined. Know ye not that none but the wise and the good can be truly free— that the vile and the ignorant are necessarily slaves under whatever form of government they may chance to live? See you not that the deprecated sway of the Scottish Church has been in truth but a paternal tutelage—that her children were feeble in mind, and rude and untoward, when she first laid the hand of her discipline upon them—and that she has now well-nigh trained them up to be men  And think you that these, our poor countrymen, already occupy that place which He who died for them has willed they should attain to 1 or that the many, no longer a brute herd, but moral and thoughtful, and with the Bible in their hands, are to remain the willing, unresisting slaves of the few? No, Dallas ! when men increase in goodness and knowledge, there must be also an onward progress towards civil liberty; and the political bias which you denounce as unfavourable to religion, is merely the onward groping of this principle. A strange intolerance, surely, that has already broken* the fetters of the bondsman ; they still clank about him, but being what he now is—intelligent and conscientious—they must inevitably drop off, let his master fret as he may, and leave him a freeman.”

There was a pause, during which Dallas doggedly fixed his eyes on the ground. "I have viewed the subject,” he at length said, “with different eyes. And of this I am sure, there are in the Episcopal Church truly excellent men who cannot exist without doing good.”

“But look round you,” said Mary, “ and say whether the great bulk of those who are now watching as on tiptoe to swell its ranks, are of the class you describe ? Can you shut your eyes to the fact, that there is a winnowing process going on in the one Church, and that the chaff and dust are falling into the other? But, Dallas,” she said, laying her hand on her breast, “I can no longer dispute with you; and ’twould be unavailing if I could, for it is not argument but strength that you want— strength to resist the influence of a more powerful but less honest mind than your own. There is assuredly a time of trouble coming ; but I feel, Dallas, that your escape from it cannot be more certain than mine.”

Dallas, who had hitherto avoided her glance, now regarded her with an expression of solicitude and alarm. She was thin —much thinner than usual—and her cheeks were crimsoned by a flush of deadly beauty. The anger which she had excited —for she had convinced him of his error, despite of his determination not to be convinced, and he was necessarily angry— vanished in a moment. He grasped her hand, and bursting into tears, “O Mary!” he exclaimed, “lama weak, worthless thing—pity me—pray for me; but no, it were vain, it were vain; I am lost, and for ever!”

The maiden was deeply affected, and strove to console him. “ Retrace your steps,” she said, “ in the might of Him whose strength is perfected in weakness, and all shall yet be well. My poor brother has mourned for your defection as he would have done for your death; but he loves you still, and deeply regrets that an unfortunate quarrel should have estranged you from him. Come and see him as usual; he has a keen temper, but need I tell you that he has an affectionate heart ? And I did not think, Dallas, that you could have so soon forgotten myself; but come, that I may have my revenge.”

The friends parted, and at this time neither of them thought they had parted for ever. But so it was. Facile and wavering as nature had formed the young chaplain, he yet indulged in a pride that, conscious of weakness, would fain solace itself with at least an outside show of strength and consistency; and he could not forget that he had now chosen his side. Weeks and months passed, and the day arrived on which, at the instance of the Bishop of Ross, the nonconforming minister of Cromarty was to be ejected from his parish.

It was early in December. There had been a severe and still increasing snow-storm for the two previous days ; the earth was deeply covered; and a strong biting gale from the north-east was now drifting the snow half-way up the side-walls of the manse. The distant hills rose like so many shrouded spectres over the dark and melancholy sea—their heads enveloped in broken wreaths of livid cloud ; nature lay dead ; and the very firmament, blackened with tempest, seemed a huge burial vault. The wind shrieked and wailed like an unhappy spirit among the turrets and chimneys of the old castle. Dallas undid the covering of the shot-hole that looked down on the manse, and then hastily shutting it, flung himself on his bed, where he lay with his face folded in the bedclothes. Ere he had risen, the shades of evening, deepened by a furious snow-shower, had set in. He again unbolted the shot-hole and looked out. The flakes flew so thickly that they obscured every nearer object, and wholly concealed the more remote : even the manse had disappeared; but there was a faint gleam of light flickering in that direction through the shower; and as the air cleared, the chaplain could see that it proceeded from two lighted candles placed in one of the windows. Dreading he knew not what, he descended the turret stair, and on entering the hall found one of the domestics, an elderly woman, preparing to quit it. “This,” he said, addressing her, “is surely no night for going abroad, Martha?” “Ah, no!” replied the woman, “but I am going to the manse; there is distress there. Mary Anderson died this morning, and it will be a thin lyke-wake.” “Mary Anderson! thin lyke-wake!” said Dallas, repeating her words as if unconscious of their meaning: “I’ll go with you.” And, as if moved by some impulse merely mechanical, he followed the woman.

The dead chamber was profusely lighted, according to the custom of the country, and the bed, with every other piece of furniture which it contained,, was hung with white. The bereaved brother had shut himself up in his room, where he might be heard at times as if struggling with inexpressible anguish in the agony of prayer; and only two elderly women, one of them the nurse of Mary, watched beside the corpse. With an unsteady step and pallid countenance, on the lineaments of which a quiescent but settled despair was frightfully impressed, Dallas entered the apartment and stood fronting the bed. The nurse greeted him in a few brief words, expressive of their mutual loss; but he saw her not—heard her not. He saw only the long white shroud with its fearfully significant outline—heard only the beatings of his own heart. The eyes of the good old woman filled with tears as she gazed on him, and, slowly rising, she uncovered the face of the dead. He bent forward; there was the open and beautiful forehead, and there the exquisite features, thin and wasted ’tis true, but lovely as ever. A faint smile still lingered on the lip; it was a smile that called upon thoughts and feelings the most solemn and holy, and whispered of the joys of immortality from amid the calm and awful sublimity of death. “ Ah, my bairn! ” said the woman, “weel and lang did she loe you, and meikle did she grieve for you and pray for you, when ye went o’er to the prelates. But her griefs are a’ ended now. Ken ye, Dallas, that for years an’ years she loed ye wi’ mair than a sister’s luve, an’ that if she didna just meet wi’ your hopes, it was only because she kent o’er weel she was to die young?” Dallas struck his open palm against his forehead; a convulsive emotion shook his frame; and, bursting into tears, he flung himself out of the room.

The funeral passed over; and the brother of Mary quitted the parish a homeless and solitary man, with a grieving heart but an unbroken spirit. He had to mourn both for the dead and the estranged; and found that the low insults and cruel suspicions of the persecutor dogged him wherever he went. But his state was one of comfort compared with that of his hapless friend. Grief, terror, and remorse, lorded it over the unfortunate chaplain by turns, and what was at first but mere inquietude had become anguish. He was sitting a few weeks after the interment in the eastern turret, his eyes fixed vacantly on the fire, which was dying on the hearth at his feet, when Sir John abruptly entered, and drew in his seat beside him.

“Your fire, nephew,” he said, as he trimmed it, “very much resembles yourself. There is no lack of the right material, but it wants just a little stirring, and is useless for want of it. It is no time, Dallas, to be loitering away life when a bright prospect of honourable ambition and extensive usefulness is opening full before you. Wot you not that our neighbour the bishop, now a worn-out old man, has been confined to his room for the last week? And should my cousin of Tarbat and myself agree in recommending a successor, as we unquestionably shall, where think you lies the influence powerful enough to thwart us? But a diocese so important, nephew, can be the prize of no indolent dreamer.”

“Uncle,” said Dallas, in a tone of deep melancholy, “do you believe that those who have been once awakened to the truth may yet fall away and perish?”

“Why perplex yourself with such questions?” replied his uncle. “We are creatures intended for both this world and the next; each demands that certain duties be performed; and of all men, woe to him of a musing and speculative turn, who, though not devoid of a sense of duty, fails in the requirements of the present state. His thoughts become fiends to torment him. But up, nephew, and act, and you will find that all will be well.”

“Act! How?—to what purpose?—how read you the text —‘It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, if they fall away, to renew them to repentance?’ I have fallen— fallen for ever.”

“Dallas,” said Sir John, “what wild thought has now possessed you?—You are but one of many thousands;—I know not a more hopeful clergyman of your standing connected with the Church.”

“Wretched, wretched Church, if it be so! But what are her ministers? Trees twice dead, plucked up by the roots— wandering stars, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. Yes, I am as hopeful as most of her ministers. Mary Anderson told me what was coming; and, hypocrite that I am! I believed her, and yet denied that I did. I saw her last night; —she was beautiful as ever—but ah! there was no love, no pity in her eye—and the wide, wide gulf was between us.” “Dearest nephew, why talk so wildly?” exclaimed Sir John. “Uncle, you have ever been kind to me,” replied Dallas; “ but you have ruined—no, wretched creature! ’twas I, myself, who have owned my soul; and there is neither love nor gratitude in the place to which I am going. O leave me to myself! my thoughts become more fearful when I embody them in words;—leave me to myself! and, uncle, while there is yet space, seek after that repentance which is denied to me. Avoid the unpardonable sin.”

The strong mind of Sir John was prostrated before the fearfully excited feelings of his nephew, as a massy barrier of iron may be beaten down by a cannon-ball; and he descended the turret stair rebuked and humbled by an energy more potent than his own—as if, for the time, he and the young man had exchanged characters. Next morning Dallas was nowhere to be found.

He was seen about sunrise, by a farmer of the parish, passing hurriedly along the ridge of the hill. The man, a staid Presbyterian, with whom he had once loved to converse, had saluted him as he passed, and then paused for half a second in the expectation that, as usual, he would address him in turn; but he seemed wholly unconscious of his presence. His face, he said, was of a deadly paleness, and his pace, though hurried, seemed strangely unequal, as if he were exhausted by indisposition or fatigue. The day wore on; and towards evening, Sir John, who could no longer conceal the anxiety which he felt, ordered out all his domestics in quest of him. But the night soon fell dark and rainy, and the party was on the eve of relinquishing the search, when, in passing along the edge of the Look-out, one of the servants observed something white lying on the little grassy bank which surmounts the precipice. It was an open Bible—the gift, as the title-page intimated, of Mary Anderson to Dallas Urquhart. Sir John struck his clenched fist against his forehead.

“Gracious heaven!” he exclaimed, “he has destroyed himself !—to the foot of the rock—to the foot of the rock;—and haste! for the tide is fast rising. But stay—let me forward— I will lead the way myself.”

And, passing through his terrified attendants, he began to descend by a path nearly invisible in the darkness, and which, winding along the narrow shelves of the precipice, seemed barely accessible even by day to the light foot of the schoolboy. There was only one of the many who now thronged the rock edge who had courage enough to follow him—a tall spare man, wrapped up in a dark-coloured cloak. As the path became narrower and more broken, and overhung still more and more fearfully the dizzy descent, the stranger, who passed lightly and steadily along, repeatedly extended his arm to the assistance of the knight, who, through agitation and the stiffness incident to a period of life considerably advanced, stumbled frightfully as he hurried down. They reached the shore in safety together. All was dismally solitary. They could see only the dark rock towering over them, and the line of white waves which were tumbling over the beach, and had now begun to lash the base of the precipice.

“Alas! my poor lost friend!” ejaculated the stranger—“lost, alas! for ever, when I had hoped most for thy return. Wretched, unfortunate creature! with little care of thine own for the things of this world, and yet ever led away by those who worshipped them as their only god—alas! alas! how hast thou perished!”

“Spare me, Hugh Anderson!” said Sir John, “spare me!— do not, I implore you, add to the anguish of this miserable night!”

They walked together in silence to where the waves barred their further progress, and then returned to the top of the precipice. The search was renewed in the morning, but as ineffectually as on the preceding night—there was no trace of the body. Seasons passed away; Sir John, as has been already related, perished by his own act; Episcopacy fell; and Hugh Anderson, now a greyheaded .elderly man, was reappointed, after the lapse of more than thirty years, to his old charge, the parish of Cromarty.

He had quitted it amid the snow-wreaths of a severe and boisterous winter; he returned to it after a storm of wind and snow from the sea had heaped the beach with wrack and tangle, and torn their mantles of ivy from some of the higher precipices. He revisited with anxious solicitude the well-remembered haunts endeared to him by so many fond, yet mournful recollections— Mary’s favourite walks—the cliffs which he had so often scaled with Dallas—and the path which he had descended in the darkness with the hapless Sir John. He paused at the foot of the precipice—the storm had swept fiercely over its iron forehead, and an immense bush of ivy, that had fallen from the ledge of the apple-yardie, lay withering at its base. His eye caught something of unusual appearance amid the tom and broken foliage—it was a human skull, bleached white by the rains and the sunshine of many seasons, and a few disjointed and fractured bones lay scattered near it. Painfully did he gather them up, and painfully scooping out with his pointed stick a hollow in the neighbouring bank, he shed, as he covered them up from the sight, the last tears that have fallen to the memory of the lost Dallas Urquhart.


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