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Raiderland, All about Grey Galloway
Chapter 25


LOCHINVAR LOCH

  WILD, grey, plain moorland to the eye, crossed and barred with purple streaks of moss-hags innumerable, and in the midst, the brown peaty loch with its little island of water-worn stones–that is Lochinvar. Perhaps the level of the water has at some recent period been raised artificially. There are signs of such a work having been attempted at the westernmost end, but it is indeed almost incredible that the Gordons of Lochinvar ever had a castle, or even a tower on the little island which remains in the loch. To the ordinary observer Edie Ochiltree's famous praetorium, put together by some “mason lads and twa-three herds” is as much as the appearances warrant.

The Eye of Faith.

  But the eye of faith and romance can still see peace and silence cincturing the ancient tower of Lochinvar like the blue circle of the vault of heaven – and Kate and Wat Gordon walking the battlements. “It was a narrow promenade, but they kept the closer together. From the gable chimneys immediately above them, the blue perfumed reek of a peat fire went up straight as a monument."

  To use the boat upon the loch and visit with scientific purpose the mound of water-worn cobbles certainly provokes unbelief. But one may still stand on the peaty brows above the water in the hush of evening and thrill to the thought of the young Lochinvar's return to the house of his father before he spoke II that word in her ear" which rendered his name for ever famous in song and romance.

  "It was evening of a great, solemn, serene September day when Wat reached the edges of the loch, upon the little island in the midst of which stood the tower of his forebears. There was no smoke going up from its chimneys. The water slept black from the very margin, deeply stained with peat. The midges danced and balanced; the moorbirds cried; the old owl hooted from the gables; the retired stars twinkled reticently above, just as they had done in Wat's youth.

  ”The little grey keep on its lonely islet towering above him, seemed not so high as of old. It was somehow strangely shrunken. The isle, too, had grown smaller to his travelled eye-probably was so indeed, for the water had for many years been encroaching on the narrow insular policies of the tower of Lochinvar.

  "There to his right was the granite 'snibbing-post,' to which the boat was usually tied. The pillar had, he remembered, a hole bored through the head of it with a chip knocked out of the side–for making which with a hammer he had been soundly cuffed by his father. And there was the anchored household boat itself, nodding and rocking under the northern castle wall, where it descends abruptly into the deeps of the loch.

  "Wat stood under the carved archway and clattered on the door with a stone picked from the water-side. For the great brass knocker which he remembered so well had been tom off, no doubt during the recent troubles.

  “It  was long indeed ere any one came to answer the summons, and meanwhile Wat stood, dripping and shaking, consumed with deadly weakness, yet conscious of a still more deadly strength. If God would only help him ever so little, he thought–would grant him but one night's quiet rest, he could yet do all that which he had come so fast and far to accomplish.

  " At last he heard a stir in the tower above. A footstep came steadily and lightly along the stone passages. The thin gleam of a rushlight penetrated beneath the door, and shed a

solid ray through the great worn key-hole. The bolts growled and screeched lustily, as if complaining at being so untimely disturbed. The door opened, and there before Wat stood a sweet, placid-browed old lady in laced cap and stomacher–even the Jean Gordon of ancient days." 1

1 “Lochinvar," p. 409. (Methuen & Co.)


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