Chapter 20709780

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Chapter NumberIII & IV
Chapter TitleLIVING PRAYERS & OLD WOUNDS
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article20709780
Full Date1881-09-17
Page Number361
Corrections38
Word Count6465
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-03-04
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleGathered In
article text

The Storyteller.

Gathered In.

CHAPTER III.

LIVING PRAYERS.

BY CATHERINE HELEN SPENCE. Author of "Clara Moriasn," "Mr. Hogarth's Will," "Hugh Lindsay's Guest," &c.

ON the following morning Kenneth was just strapping on his satchel, preparatory to making a start for school, when he heard a well-known voice, and saw John Lindores, the wright, with

Nelly in his hand, standing at the cottage door. "Kenneth, my man, it's mair than time Nelly went regular to school now; she's turned eight this sax months. She's little for her age, an' timorsome; but I dootna she'll mak a braw scholar. Your poor mother said aye she was gleg at the uptak; and, thanks to her, she can read a bit, and when I can get her to mysel' she's the best o' company. But she's maistly throng wi' the little ones, and doesna get as muckle attention as she should hae; so I've put my foot down, and she's to gang to schule. So as the bairn's timorsome, as I said before, I'll be muckle beholden to you if you'd see her safe to and from the schule—at any rate till she's usad to the gait "I'll do that for her an' welcome," said Kenneth; "but ye ken I canna do muckle for her in the schule, for I'll no be near her, and couldna keep the tawse off of her if I was." "It's no the tawse Nelly dreads; it's the rough lads an lasses. She's been keepit sae muckle at hame minding the bairns that she's no acquent wi' ony of them but yoursel'. But it's no doing Nelly justice to make a mere bairn- keeper o' her, and to lose her lair through being sae handy. Well, ^^^^, good day to you; and you'll tell me at nicht how you fared at the schule. I'm aff to a day's work at the Place ; they're having an addition to the servants' part o' the hoose. If it were otherwhere they'd hae some ane frae Embro. Your mother aye had a kind word for my Nelly, so I can trust her wi' you. Dinna delay Kenneth, my lass; let's see how your feet can gang owre the lea;" and the father hastened off to his work when he had seen the youngsters set off on their way. "But what will your mother do wanting you, Nelly?" said Kenneth, when they had fairly started. "I dinna ken," said Nelly. "Are you keen to gang to the schule, Nelly?" "I dinna ken." "An" it's no just the quarter either." "Will the maister no take me, then?" aaked Nelly, doubtful if that would be a benefit or not. "Ah! I daresay he'll no mind for that. The second-class are no sae far on but that ye'll catch up to them soon enough; and dinna mind aboot the tawse —the maister's never so hard on the lasses." "Oh! I dinna mind about them. We've tawse at hame." "And you're acquent with them, I'se warrant." "Whiles—gey often, for, if the bairn greets, mother thinks it is a' my wyte? for no minding him right; and when she's throng wi' her work hae's maist times greeting for her, and I canna soother him ony way. I used to think that if my father had only married your mother—as Auntie Jess says he wanted to—she would have been gude to me ; but now, you see, she would hae ||The sole right to publish "Gathered In" in Queensland has been secured by the proprietors of the Queenslander||

been dead, and it would be all to do owre again. Only then ye would hae been a sort o' brother to me, and that would be good." "Maybe aye, and maybe no. Laddies never care about their sisters, I think; but I aye liket you, Nelly, and I'll tell you what I've been thinking. Now that baith our mothers have been put away sae far frae us, and they canna gie us a word or even a look, we might help ane another, maybe." "Oh, Kenneth, what could I do for you?" said Nelly eagerly. "I think if ye mind upon me in your prayers it would do me good. Ye see, it's no sae easy to win to Heaven, even for auld folk like granny; and my mother, that never forgot to pray for me, has been taken away just like yours, and I see nothing clear but that I maun have living prayers forbye my ain and granny's, so if I mind upon you and say nicht and morning 'God keep Nelly Lindores safe and good and on the right road to Heaven,' ye'll do the same by me." And Kenneth felt he had put the case as plainly and strongly as its importance demanded. "But would I have to say your very name like that?" said Nelly, to whom this familiar address to the Deity seemed a little profane. "Oh, if you think the name it will do. He'll ken who you mean, as He kens a' things; but what for would ye no mention Kenneth Oswald's name? I was christened Kenneth, and He forgets naething." "Naebody puts names into prayers, Kenneth," "But they do. There's Queen Victoria." "Oh, but that is no a common name like yours and mine, Kenneth." "No just," said Kenneth doubtfully, "and the other Sunday, when that strange man preached that came from Dumfries, and he was praying for our minister, he didna say Mr. Lang, as you and me would do, but called him his dear brother, and I'm sure he's nae friend and no a drap's bluid o' connection to him. To my mind it would have been mair wiselike if he had called him Mr. Lang, and no evened himself to be brother to a gentleman that is auld enough to be his father." "That's a' ye ken about it, Kenneth; but a minister maun ken bettor than you, and I'll just pray for you as you wish it, and call you my dear brother, and if she hears she'll think it is Jamie—but, as you say, God will ken. Oh! Kenneth, Jamie is a weary bairn—he's sae weighty and sae cross." "But should na ye pray for Jamie too?" said Kenneth musingly; "and maybe he would na be sae cross." "I'm sure it wad mak nae odds on him till he had gotten a' his teeth, whatever it might do afterhand," said Nelly, with great simplicity. Kenneth pondered over this want of faith in the efficacy of prayer till they got close to the school. He bravely held the hand of the little girl till he had introduced her to the master, and seen her placed in the class of strangers, where she looked smaller than ever. Fathers in John Lindores' class did not always take their children to school even for the first time, and his wife had her hands too full of small ones of her own to care to go with her stepchild Nelly. Kenneth underwent a little rustic banter about taking up with a lassie, and also some crow-questioning as to who or what she was. He only knew she was the daughter of their neighbour, the wright, by his first wife, and that her mother had died when she was a fortnight old. But the neighbours generally knew that the widower had first wished to fill up tife vacant place in his heart and home by marrying Kenneth's own mother, who, John Lindores believed, would tend his neglected child with love, and who, feeling her own disadvantageous position, would probably be only too glad of a respectable marriage. But Isabel Oswald had steadily declined the offer, and thereby confirmed her mother's cherished idea that she considered herself the wife of Norman McDiarmid. At first John Lindores thought that he had every right to a favourable answer, and that his promise never to reproach her with Kenneth's birth if she would be good to Nelly ought to have pleaded for him; but his wishes strengthened by opposition, and Isabel's reiterated refusal made him fancy she was really above him in spite of all. The more he saw of her nice gentle ways, the scrupulous cleanliness and order in which she kept the cottage, her care and her ambition for her boy, her separation from the neighbours—first because they had looked down on her, but afterwards, as that wore away, because she preferred keeping to herself—the more desirable it seemed to him to secure such a mother for Nelly. Her skill in the finer kinds of needlework was rare in the village in which she lived, and she got pretty regular employment; it was believed that Kenneth was maintained by his father or his father's relatives, so that he could be no burden, and Nelly was so fond of his mother, even as an infant, that there was everything in favour of the marriage, except Isabel's consent. Mrs. Oswald pressed her daughter more sorely about this marriage than her desire to part with her could have warranted, for that she really did not wish; but she thought by this means she might extort some confession, some evidence as to her marriage with one much higher in the social scale. But Isabel said "No, it could not be," and would give no other answer. "But, Isabel," urged her mother," it would be a straightening of what has been crooked." "That would never straighten it, mother; it would only make it worse." "But, Isabel, when you was a young lass, and John Lindores was a strapping fellow, you would have been pleased and proud enough to have been evened to him." "Aye, mother, true enough." "And now you are owre proud to be evened to him, when it would lift off all the disgrace that has lain so heavy on us aIl." "Mother, don't tempt me. With God's help, I'll bear my share of the disgrace. Oh ! if I could only bear yours and Kenneth's too! but I cannot—l cannot" "You cannot let John make an honest woman of you?" "Not as John's wife, mother. I can make an honest woman of myself even in your eyes in time. God's eyes I have no fear of." "Say you so, Isabel?" said her mother eagerly. "Then he was a black-hearted scoundrel, as I aye believed."

"Whisht, mother ! I'm no blaming him, and ye needna. What I meant is this, that if a man or woman just repent", and turns from sin, and has got pardon, God looks as if it had never been. It takes long ere men or women do the same, but I must be patient; it will come in time." "It wad come a' the sooner if ye were a gude wife to John Lindores, and a kind mother to his bit bairn, poor thing." "Yea; if I were a good wife and mother—but I could not love John as he deserves to be loved; and if my heart is so full of my Kenneth that there is no room for another bairn in it, even if it were a bairn of my own, would I be really a right mother to Nelly, poor thing ?" "I'm sure you're muckle ta'en up with her as it is," said her mother. "Kenneth is so fond of her, and it is good for him to think on some one less and weaker than himself." "And what ails you at giving Kenneth the good o't, if good it is, for a permanence?" "I just cannot do it, mother. It's just there that my conscience pinches me. I cannot wrong John Lindores with half-hearted unwilling duty instead of love." "Oh! Isabel, there you are, still craving and pining after a man that wronged you for his ain pleasure, and then whistled you down the wind. Did he keep mind o' you that you should set your heart dead against honest love and troth? What for should he no have done the same for your sake?" "It was different with him, mother. His mother, his grandfather, their family affairs all pressed it on him, and you cannot judge how hard it was for him." "But your mother' your friends, and your family affairs, too, as you ca' them, a' press it on you." "Are you weary of me, mother?" said Isabel, affectionately. "Am I not more help and comfort to you and my father now just as I am than I could be as the wife of John Lindores, or of any man on earth, even his, my Kenneth's father? Let me abide with you; let me work for you; tead you in sickness and health; and if I am taken away I can leave you Kenneth to be all your own, to have no one coming between you and him—not even your friend John Lindores." What Isabel said was true enough, as even Mrs. Oswald was forced to acknowledge. In no way could the daughter have been of more service and a greater comfort to her parents than she was, and if only the bitter drop could be taken out of the cup, whioh flavoured it in the midst of all to the mother's taste, she would have rejoiced in the undivided unremitting devotion of Isabel. If the latter herself tasted the same, she made no wry faces over it, but pursued her own way quietly, and that way was not in the direction of John Lindores. Wearied out and provoked by her repeated refusals, John turned his eyes on a good-looking lass, who had never been at service but at what is called the "outwork" in the fields. Jeanie Maunders was not so hard to win—or at all unwilling to be set down as the wife of the village wright or carpenter, which was promotion to a distinctly higher grade in life. There was no doubt a child in the way, but only one. She had no more hard rough work, and she came into possession of a cow, which had been the pride of Nelly's mother's heart, and which Mrs. Oswald or Isabel had milked for the widower from the time of her death. She did not mean to be unkind to little Nelly—indeed she was rather proud of her, until claimants of her own came thick and fast to fill her hands and heart. There was one person, however, to whom she had a great dislike, and that was Isabel Oswald. Everyone knew that John had courted her, and that she had refused him time after time. Although Jeanie had reaped all the benefits of this refusal, she never could forgive the "up settingness" of a creature like that turning up her nose at "her man." And she was full, not only of petty spite, but was apt to indulge in serious backbiting. The excessive reticence of all the Oswalds as to their own private affairs—at least as to that part of them which the world most wished to know —was provoking to a woman of Jeanie's turn of mind. No one knew who Kenneth's father was, not even John Lindores, who had been at one time very anxious to find out. Isabel was too meek, and her father and mother too much aggrieved, to reveal anything. It had all taken place at a distance—there was no visitor who ever came to see Isabel, no suspicious- looking letters coming through the village post- office that Jeanie could find out, and she could only surmise that things must be worse than only an ordinary "misfortune" when all was kept so dark. Poor Nelly's love of going to the Oswalds' cottage as soon as she could toddle to play with Kenneth, or to ask for a "piece" or a drink of milk, was altogether insufferable to her stepmother, and indeed her first acquaintance with the leathern strap, familiarly called the tawse, arose from this inveterate habit; but even the tawse could not prevent the little feet from finding their way in when there was any possibility. The Saturday afternoon's excursions were a grievance in the stepmother's eyes, but John Lindores, who felt for the little girl's life of drudgery, had interposed his authority to sanction them—first, if she had been a good girl, and latterly whether she was reported good or not; and Nelly had grieved over the sickness and death of Kenneth's mother as if she had been her very own. Mrs. Lindore's heart was softened by the death of her rival, whose ways John could no longer compare with hers, and she yielded with better grace than was her wont to the proposal that Nelly should go to the school under Kenneth's charge. John thought he was doing the best he could for the lassie; he was scarcely aware how much lie was doing for the boy. Nothing could have comforted the desolate heart like the companionship of one younger and feebler than himself, whose brightest memories were associated with the mother he had lost. As they walked together to and from school, every flower and bush and bud gave them subjects for talk about her, and what she had said about them all. When Nelly found her lessons puzzle her she came to Kenneth to "hearken her," as she called it, and looked on his explanations and ideas concerning them as the

very words of wisdom. To her Kenneth was almost a man, and quite a hero. She rejoiced in being put under his care, and in being admitted into his confidence. On her return from school on that eventful first day, her stepmother's grumbling about being deprived of her services was unheeded in the thought of that prayer that must be said at night—that no one would know the meaning of but herself and Kenneth and the far-away Father of all. Her father was late home that night. She would have liked to have got him his supper and sat beside him, but there was that weary Jamie to walk about with till he went to sleep in the other room; but her father found her out there. "And how did my lassie get on at the schule?" he asked. "Oh, middlin'," said Nelly. "I think I'll like it fine when I get used to it, but I hae lota to learn ere I win up to Kenneth." "And he was gude till ye, Nelly?" said the father, in a low voice. "Oh! father, he was real gude. He faced the maister for me, and we had such a bonnie time going to the schule, and comin' back too." "Poor laddie," said John Lindores," you behove to be gude till him, Nelly; it's a sair loss he's had." "What can I do?" said Nelly; "a wee thing like me." John thought a minute. "'Deed! no very muckle, Nelly; but ye can mind him in your prayers—naebody kens what power for gude may be in them." Nelly was so delighted she nearly dropped Jamie in her joy. Her father, too, thought her prayers might help Kenneth—her dear father— who knew mostly everything.

Chapter IV. OLD WOUNDS. As Norman McDiarmid made his way homeward with the unopened packet of letters in his breast pocket, which he kept for the quiet and seclusion of his study at home, he had more bitter grief in his heart than Marion Oswald could have believed in. He looked in at his father-in-law's house in Edinburgh to inquire how all were there; he called on Mr. Shiel to give instructions to continue his payments to John Oswald for Kenneth's behoof, and to forward any letters which Kenneth might address to his care; and then took the train for his northern castle with a mixture of listlessness and impatience to be at the end of it all. When his wife and his sons and daughters greeted him affectionately after his temporary absence, did he see in his mind's eye that low cottage, and his firstborn holding his horse for him to mount, while a still white form lay hushed and unresponsive to even the touch of his lips ? When Norman rushed into his father's arms and asked what he had brought him from Edinburgh, was there an additional caress, or the contrary, on account of those which he was not permitted to bestow on that dark-eyed sunburnt boy? When Mrs. McDiarmid asked about his father and mother, and inquired particularly about the health of the former, did the vision of John Oswald leaning on his stick, and Marion knitting over her open Bible, trouble his recollections of the details she wished for? And when little Malcolm said mamma must not go to Edinburgh to see grandpapa, for he could not do without her, did not the thought of the boy by the burnside, hiding his tears on collie's neck, bring back a painful tightness in the throat and oppression on the breast? The subject of his sorrow bad never been spoken of to his wife. She knew nothing at all about it, and now there was no need to open it up. But she was a woman of good sense and kind feeling—she saw that her husband was depressed. If he volunteered his confidence, well and good; but she would not force it. When the children went to bed, she sat quietly sewing for a while, and then, saying she felt sleepy, she left the room. She had scarcely gone when Mr. McDiarmid went into his own sanctum, and, carefully shutting the door, took out his packet. First came the little box containing the brooch, with his only sister Flora's hair at the back of it. How well he recollected ordering it to be made as a memento of one whom Isabel had watched over and tended for so many months. How well he recollected giving it to her, and asking leave to fix with it the ribbon she wore. In his mind's eye he saw again the slender throat, the exquisite round of the cheek, the parted lips, the surprised pleasure in the eyes, and the first kiss of love, broken in upon by an indignant and harshly- judging mistress; the dismissal with undeserved reproach, and his own eager offers of service and protection, alas! how futile and how injurious. Slowly he replaced the little relic in the box, and proceeded to untie the packet of letters. There were a few of his own, written in the first glow of love; two, the only two, after they had finally parted. There were several letters in a hand which he did not at first recognise, but which appeared of no consequence to him until he had read the long farewell epistle which Isabel had penned by little snatches as her strength and time had served her, in the conviction that she would never see him alive. She had thought it best not to see him at all, but, when the end drew very near, the craving to see his face once more became irresistible, as well as the wish that Kenneth should be seen by his father, and she had written the summons which had so much disconcerted her mother. It was with feelings of the most mixed emotions—shame, grief, gratitude, admiration, even awe—that he read the words she had meant to be her last. He saw there the origin of the other letters, and felt how loyal and uselfish had been the mother of the bright honest boy whom he would have liked so much to claim as his own. The letter read as follows:— My dearest Norman, —I must call you by that name now for the last time, for I must write to you, and send to your ownself all the letters I over got from you, and some that I got from your unfriend Hugh Carmichael, because it may come to pass that what he says he can do, maybe the thing you would like to see done. He could not get me to make a stir in the matter, for what has been done cannot be undone, and I had just to bear the blame and scorn as I best could, and as maybe I deserved. But it was not to hard to bear as it would have been if I hid thought you the scoundrel he wanted to make you out to be, and it would never lighten my load to bring misery and shame on others more blameless than me. I know your heart better than he could do, and the position, such as it was, was of my own choosing.

But, maybe, if your boy, that he says is sickly, and your only one, was taken, you might be glad if you could prove my Kenneth your heir, as there's no one to heir the estate but a far-away cousin, so I send you all Carmichael's letters, and there you can see that he has another witness still in life, Phemie Sinclair, to bear out his words, whatever they may be worth. I never thought what your angry words to him that day might he made to prove—and you were married, and I hoped were happy, with a good woman of your own station, long ere I heard what mischief he was brewing for you out of them. But, without my consent, Carmichael was powerless, and though he wrote again and again, he never could get me to feel that I had any rights as against your wife and children. He spoke of acknowledgment before witnesses as a binding marriage by the Scottish law; but whatever be might say, or the law might prove, if I had myself believed those words made a binding marriage, your mother and grandfather could never had parted us, and I never could have let any other woman be called your wife. I knew in my soul that I was only yours for life; but I never thought but that you might leave me at any time if you saw fit. I was glad that Carmichael only wrote to me, and did not disturb my mother or my father with his wild tales, for my mother especially would go through fire and water to have me put straight, as she calls it. She would fain have had me married to a decent man of my own station, but that I could not do, even to please her. It might have been better for Kenneth in some ways; but I held fast to the thought that in God's eyes I was your wife. It was the only thing I could comfort myself with when I felt that you had slipped out of my life, when everything was too strong against us. I was not worthy of you, I aye knew that. I had not the schooling or the upbringing to make me a mate for such as you, though when I was beside your sister, our Flora (as we used to call her that year among the Highland hills), and she depended on me for everything, and you looked to me for sympathy, you forgot all about the drawing-room ladies you were used to, and fancied that I might do for your turn, obey your behests, and follow wheresoever you would lead; but it would have been different if we had to face the world together. Every way I would have hurt you—it was far better to slip away, and let another sort of happiness come with someone else. But if you should ever think of claiming Kenneth, as Carmichael says you can, at least I have not harmed his chances by making any other vows than those I made to you in my inmost soul. It is hard to say good-bye for ever, and that only by the pen, that is so slow and so clumsy, but I could not trust myself to see you; I could not trust myself that I would not be overheard by my mother, or, worse still, by my son. You must not think that I have been altogether unhappy, as I hope you have not grieved overmuch about me. With such a bairn as Kenneth, how could I be without much comfort aud much hope? The disgrace was hard to bear, but I think it made him only the dearer, and it has worn out in great measure, and folks judge me by what I am now, and not by what is long past. The bitterness of the home-coming you can guess— to see my father's altered faoe—to hear my mother's changed voice—and to feel that I had taken Kenneth for ever away from his father's love to such cold welcome. I had committed the unpardonable sin in all good women's eyes, and I myself despised them who thought lightly of it. But I found peace with God by the prayers and tears of repentance, and as my boy won on his grand- parents and on other folks I was comforted. I've helped my father and mother, and I'm sorely grieved to part with them; but to leave Kenneth is hardest of all. The . worst of it is that he must go one way in the world and you must go another. There is no help for it. You can, and I doubt not will, send him money, and see that he does not want for schooling and such like; but you cannot give him care, you cannot give him love. And he'll miss it, and as he grows older he'll feel more the wrong we did him. He never felt it so long as he had me. And though I had not the privilege of a widow to speak about you to your son, I could tell him the things that you had told to me, read him the books you liked, try to build him up in some ways as you would have done had things been different. But that is over now, and I most not grieve you by speaking of what cannot be helped. If he had been ugly, or stubborn, or cold-hearted, I might have thought God had not forgiven us, but every loving word and every kindly act he said or did makes me feel that the past is wiped out, and that this sinner who loved much has been pardoned and accepted. When I made the great wrench of parting with you for ever, for what I thought was your good, I did all I could to show my repentance. For, oh! it was love that made me leave you—love as great, aye, even greater, than what brought us together. If I could only trust Kenneth to God's care on earth with as much faith as I can trust my own soul to my Saviour—but my faith sorely fails me when I see what I leave. And now, my only love, you can whiles think upon me now, as I have for ever thought of you. There can be no wrong to your wife if you now and then go back to that time in the Highland hills when you and me first looked on Kenneth's face together. And, oh, pray God with me that he may grow up so good and so noble that we may acknowledge him for our own in that better place where there is no marrying or giving in marriage, but where all are as the angels in heaven. There, I'm thinking I'll be waiting long, long ere you and Kenneth come. What can the Almighty give me to do to keep me from wearying till you meet me face to face? So many years—ten years, and never a sight of you. Mind, I count on meeting you in heaven. The world is not to spoil you, nor its cares to cark you. In the flesh or in the spirit, I am always—Your own Isabel. It showed what deep and tender memories were awakened by the perusal of this letter that Norman McDiarmid sat long brooding over it, and read it again and again, before he thought of opening those of Hugh Carmichael referred to in it. Nay, it was not so much the boy that he thought of at this time. It was Isabel herself who returned to his memory, who filled all his heart and mind to tho exclusion of all other considerations, now as she had done in those glorified months in the midst of the Highland hills. At last, with a mighty effort, he roused himself, and opened the letters of his old college toady, Hugh Carmichael. And here, sure enough, was evidence that would have overturned his formal marriage, and make his son and heir and the rest of his children illegitimate, if Isabel had been inclined to press it. The fatal facilities given by the Scottish law, combined with Isabel's enduring conviction that she was bound by the love-troth she had exchanged, and that in God's eyes she was Norman McDiarmid's wife, might have enabled Carmichael to trade upon her ambition for herself and for her son, if she had been less firm; and now that she was dead he had no doubt that he would enlist the parents in an endeavour to prove the marriage. Where was Carmichael now? These letters were dated years back, and had evidently been repulsed bravely by his staunch Isabel. It could be gathered from his rejoinders that she had explained away her own words and his, and had utterly refused to yield to his suggestions in the smallest degree; that his pleadings for Kenneth's rights had been scouted, and that she had carefully kept his overtures from her parents. With regard to young Norman's sickly health, on which Carmichael dwelt much, that was a thing of the past, and he was now as likely to live as Kenneth himself. And, besides, there was another boy born since the date of these letters. No; Norman McDiarmid smiled bitterly as he thought how very remote was the chance that he should ever have any desire to prove Isabel's son his heir. But still more bitterly he thought of the loss the boy had had, and how infinitesimally little was all he could do to make up for it. But again he thought—Where was Carmichael? He would, no doubt, if he heard of the death of such an obscure individual as Isabel Oswald, apply to her parents, who would have no scruples

about disturbing his peace, and who would only be too delighted to make a stand for what he would represent as Kenneth's rights. One of the greatest evils of the Scottish marriage law is the curious moral obliquity which makes people think it right to move heaven and earth to prove an old irregular bond, which will snap through new and more sacred relations. "More sacred!" he paused as he thought of it. He took up again Isabel's letter, and kissed it with passionate remorseful tears. He placed it with Carmichael's letters and his own, in a secret drawer, of which no one but himself knew the trick, and which already contained a ribbon, some letters, one look of dark and a tuft of fair hair, the counterpart of the earliest of Isabel's treasured locks; and then he sat down to think of the best course to pursue. Carmichael might be dead. He was a man who had lived hard and fast, and had no regular means of support. He had been brought up to the Established Church, but was altogether too lax in doctrine and in life for such a career. He had been a private tutor to Edinburgh students when Mr. McDiarmid knew him. His letters to Isabel were dated simply "Edinburgh," but the answers were to be addressed to a lodging-house in a poor neigh- bourhood. He might be dead, or he might have left the country. Isabel's death might never reach his ears, and in that case there need be no dread of his disturbing Kenneth or his grand- parents, and making them think more meanly of him than they did. Still the thought of Marion Oswald's face, as she might confront him with Kenneth in her hand, and with Hugh Carmiohael to back her, was not agreeable, and his disturbed slumbers were haunted with all sorts of contradictory and alarming threats and visions. When he took up the Scotsman at the breakfast table, he was surprised how often his eyes were arrested by the not uncommon name of Carmichael. One, John Carmichael, had money to lend on heritable bonds; another, Andrew Carmichael, was inducted into a Church; another, Robert Carmichael, advertised the newest things in fancy goods—but no mention of Hugh Carmichael, not even in the obituary notices, where, to tell the truth, the greatest relief would have been found. Mrs. McDiarmid was full of little household cares, and she liked to talk over such matters at the breakfast table, but she could not command her husband's usual attention. He was quite absorbed in the newspaper that morning. Even when he had apparently finished reading the newspaper, he did not give his wife the undivided interest she expected. He got out the Edinburgh Directory, and could not find the name of the man he wanted, but in one of five yean back he did find it. He planned his operations carefully, and during the next few days he gathered that Hugh Carmichael had disappeared from Edinburgh shortly after the date of his last letter to Isabel Oswald, that no one knew whether he was dead or alive. He had been very hard up for years, and after his disappearance not a syllable had been heard about him in his old haunts. Norman McDiarmid felt relieved; he breathed more freely, and appeared to his wife and childen more like himself than he had been since his journey to the South. (TO BE CONTINUED.)