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Lord's name are ye daein' here?” couldna find that hidy - hole. he asked. “Didna ye get enough Forby, when I went into Allerafore?”
muir wi' my story the folk “Come in,” I said, sharply. thocht me daft. It was that "I want to talk."
set me drinking, for the Lord In he came with those blessed forgive me !—I wasna my ain dogs,—what a comfort it was maister. I threepit till I was to look on their great honest hairse, but the bodies just faces ! He sat down on the lauch’d.” And he lay back on untidy bed and waited.
the bed like a man mortally “I came because I could not tired. stay away.
I saw too much to Grim though the tidings were, give me any peace elsewhere. I can only say that my chief I must go back, even though I feeling was of comfort. Pity risk my life for it. The cause for the new tragedy had swalof scholarship demands it as lowed up my fear. I had now well as the cause of humanity.” a purpose, and a purpose, too,
“Is that a' the news ye hae ?” not of curiosity but of mercy. he said. Weel, I've mair to "I go to-morrow morning to
Three weeks syne my the Muneraw. But first I want sister Margit was lost, and I've to give you something to do.” never seen her mair.
And I drew roughly a chart of My jaw fell, and I could only the place on the back of a letter. stare at him.
“Go into Allermuir to-morrow, “I cam hame from the hill at and give this paper to the landnightfa' and she was gone. I lord at the inn. "The letter will lookit for her up hill and doun, tell him what to do. He is to but I couldna find her. Syne raise at once all the men he can I think I went daft. I went to get, and come to the place on the Scarts and huntit them up the chart marked with a cross. and doun, but no sign could I Tell him life depends on his
The folk can bide quiet hurry." enough when they want. Syne The shepherd nodded. “D'ye I went to Allermuir and drank ken the Folk are watching for mysel' blind,-me, that's a God- you? They let me pass withfearing man and a saved soul; out trouble, for they've nae use but the Lord help me, I didna for me, but I see fine they're ken what I was at. That's my seeking you.
Ye'll no gang news, and day and nicht I half a mile the morn afore they wander thae hills, seekin' for grip ye.” what I canna find.”
So much the better, I “But, man, are you mad?” said. 66 That will take me I cried. “Surely there are quicker to the place I want to neighbours to help you. There be at." is a law in the land, and you “And I'm to gang to Allerhad only to find the nearest muir the morn, he repeated, police-office and compel them to with the air of a child conning
“But what if they'll “What guid can man dae ?” no believe me?” he asked. “An army o' sodgers “They'll believe the letter.”
“Maybe,” he said, and re- mal work; and meantime outlapsed into a doze.
side the night darkened, and a I set myself to put that house great wind rose, which howled in order, to rouse the fire, and round the walls and lashed the prepare some food. It was dis rain on the windows.
CHAPTER VII.--IN TUAS MANUS, DOMINE!
I had not gone twenty yards plete that when I turned a from the cottage door ere I corner of rock, or stepped in knew I was watched. I had deep heather, I seemed to feel left the shepherd still dozing, in a body rub against me. This the half - conscious state of a continued all the way up the dazed and broken man. All Farawa water, and then up its night the wind had wakened feeder to the little lonely loch. me at intervals, and now in the It kept me from looking forhalf-light of morn the weather ward; but it likewise kept me seemed more vicious than ever. in such a sweat of fright that I The wind cut my ears, the whole was ready to faint.
Then the firmament was full of the rend- notion came upon me to test ings and thunders of the storm. this fancy of mine. If I was Rain fell in blinding sheets, the tracked thus closely, clearly the heath was a marsh, and it was trackers would bar my way if the most I could do to struggle I turned back. So I wheeled against the hurricane which round and walked a dozen paces stopped my breath. And all down the glen. the while I knew I was not Nothing stopped me. alone in the desert.
about to turn again, when someAll men know—in imagina- thing made me take six more tion or in experience—the sen- paces. At the fourth something sation of being spied on. The rustled in the heather, and my nerves tingle, the skin grows neck was gripped as in a vice. hot and prickly, and there is a I had already made up my mind queer sinking of the heart. In- on what I would do. I would tensify this common feeling a be perfectly still, I would conhundredfold, and you get a quer my fear, and let them do tenth part of what I suffered. as they pleased with me so long I am telling a plain tale, and as they took me to their dwellrecord bare physical facts. My ing. But at the touch of the lips stood out from my teeth as hands my resolutions fled. I I heard, or felt, a rustle in the struggled and screamed. Then heather, a scraping among something was clapped on my stones.
Some subtle magnetic mouth, speech and strength link seemed established between went from me, and once more I my body and the mysterious was back in the maudlin childworld around. I became sick— hood of terror. acutely sick-with the ceaseless apprehension.
In the cave it was always a My fright became so com- dusky twilight. I seemed to be
lying in the same place, with these were sacred days, and that the same dull glare of firelight I had stumbled upon some rude far off, and the same close stu- celebration. pefying smell. One of the crea- I caught a word or two and tures was standing silently at repeated them. He looked at my side, and I asked him some me curiously. Then I asked trivial question.
He turned him some leading question, and and shambled down the passage, he replied with clearness. My leaving me alone.
guess was right. The midThen he returned with an
summer week was the holy other, and they talked their season of the year, when sacriguttural talk to me. I scarcely fices were offered to the gods. listened till I remembered that The notion of sacrifices disin a sense I was here of my quieted me, and I would fain own accord, and on a definite have asked further. But the mission. The purport of their creature would speak no more. speech seemed to be that, now I He hobbled off, and left me alone had returned, I must beware of in the rock - chamber to listen a second flight. Once I had to a strange sound which hung been spared ; a second time I ceaselessly about me. It must should be killed without mercy. be the storm without, like a
I assented gladly. The Folk, pack of artillery rattling among then, had some use for me. I the crags. A storm of storms felt my errand prospering. surely, for the place echoed and
Then the old creature which hummed, and to my unquiet I had seen before crept out of
rock of the roof some corner and squatted be- seemed to shake!
He put a claw on my Apparently my existence was shoulder, a horrible, corrugated, forgotten, for I lay long before skeleton thing, hairy to the any one returned. Then it was finger - tips and nailless. He merely one who brought food, grinned, too, with toothless the same strange meal as begums, and his hideous old voice fore, and left hastily. When was like a file on sandstone. I had eaten I rose and stretched
I asked questions, but he myself. My hands and knees would only grin and jabber, still quivered nervously; but I looking now and then furtively was strong and perfectly well over his shoulder towards the in body. The empty, desolate, fire.
tomb - like place
eerie I coaxed and humoured him, enough to scare any one; but till he launched into a narrative its emptiness was comfort when of which I could make nothing. I thought of its inmates. Then It seemed a mere string of I wandered down the passage names, with certain words re- towards the fire which peated at fixed intervals. Then burning in loneliness. Where it flashed on me that this might had the Folk gone? I puzzled be a religious incantation. I over their disappearance. had discovered remnants of a Suddenly sounds began to ritual and a mythology among break on my ear, coming from them. It was possible that some inner chamber at the end
was summer a woman
of that in which the fire burned. As I stood I heard the soft I could scarcely see for the steps of my tormentors. They smoke; but I began to make seemed to think I was meditatmy way towards the noise, ing escape, for they flung themfeeling along the sides of rock. selves on me and bore me to Then a second gleam of light the ground. I did not struggle, seemed to rise before me, and and when they saw me quiet, I came to an aperture in the they squatted round and began wall which gave entrance to to speak. They told me of the another room.
holy season and its sacrifices. This in turn was full of At first I could not follow smoke and glow -- a murky them; then when I caught orange glow, as if from some familiar words I found some strange flame of roots. There clue, and they became intelliwere the squat moving figures, gible. They spoke of a woman, running in wild antics round and I asked, “What woman?” the fire. I crouched in the en- With all frankness they told trance, terrified and yet curi- me of the custom which preous, till I saw something be- vailed — how every twentieth yond the blaze which held me
was sacridumb. Apart from the others ficed to some devilish god, and and tied to some stake in the by the hand of of the wall was a woman's figure, and stranger race. I said nothing, the face was the face of the but my whitening face must shepherd's sister.
have told them a tale, though My first impulse was flight. I strove hard to keep my comI must get away and think,- posure. I asked if they had plan, achieve some desperate found the victims. “She is way of escape. I sped back to in this place," they said ; "and the silent chamber as if the as for the man, thou art he.” gang were at my heels. It And with this they left me. was still empty, and I stood I had still some hours; so helplessly in the centre, looking much I gathered from their at the impassable walls of rock talk, for the sacrifice was at as a wearied beast may look at sunset. Escape was cut off the walls of its cage.
I be- for ever. I have always been thought me of the way I had something of a fatalist, and at escaped before and
rushed the prospect of the irrevocable thither, only to find it blocked end my cheerfulness returned. by a huge contrivance of stone. I had my pistol, for they had Yards and yards of solid rock taken nothing from me. I were between me and the upper took out the little weapon and air, and yet through it all came fingered it lovingly. Hope of the crash and whistle of the the lost, refuge of the vanstorm. If I were at my wits' quished, ease to the coward, end in this inner darkness, there blessed be he who first conwas also high commotion among ceived it ! the powers of the air in that The time dragged on, the
minutes grew to hours, and
still I was left solitary. Only They led me up beside her to the mad violence of the storm a place where there was a rude broke the quiet. It had in- flat stone, hollowed in the centre, creased in violence, for the stones and on it a rusty iron knife, at the mouth of the exit by which seemed
to have which I had formerly escaped formed part of a scythe-blade. seemed to rock with some ex- Then I saw the
ceremonial ternal pressure, and cutting which was marked out for me. shafts of wind slipped past and It was the very rite which I cleft the heat of the passage. had dimly figured as current What a sight the ravine outside among a rude people, and even must be, I thought, set in the in that moment I had someforehead of a great hill, and thing of the scholar's satisfacswept clean by every breeze! tion. Then came a crashing, and the The oldest of the Folk, who long hollow echo of a fall. The seemed to be a sort of priest, rocks are splitting, said I; the came to my side and mumbled road down the corrie will be im- a form of words. His fetid passable now and for evermore. breath sickened me; his dull
I began to grow weak with eyes, glassy like a brute's with the nervousness of the waiting, age, brought my knees together. and by-and-by I lay down and He put the knife in my hands, fell into a sort of doze. When dragged the terror - stricken I next knew consciousness I woman forward to the altar, was being roused by two of the and bade me begin. Folk, and bidden get ready. I I began by sawing her bonds stumbled to my feet, felt for the through. When she felt herself pistol in the hollow of my sleeve, free she would have fled back, and prepared to follow.
but stopped when I bade her. When we came out into the At that moment there came a wider chamber the noise of the noise of rending and crashing storm was deafening. The roof as if the hills were falling, and rang like a shield which has for one second the eyes of the been struck. I noticed, per- Folk were averted from the turbed as I was, that my guards frustrated sacrifice. cast anxious eyes around them, Only for a moment. The alarmed, like myself, at the next they saw what I had done, murderous din. Nor was the and with one impulse rushed world quieter when we entered towards me. Then began the the last chamber, where the fire last scene in the play. I sent burned and the remnant of the a bullet through the right eye Folk waited. Wind had found of the first thing that came on. an entrance from somewhere or The second shot went wide; but other, and the flames blew here the third shattered the hand of and there, and the smoke gyrated an elderly ruffian with a cruel in odd circles. At the back, and club. Never for an instant did apart from the rest, I saw the they stop, and now they were dazed eyes and the white old clutching at me. I pushed the drawn face of the woman. woman behind, and fired three VOL, CLXV.NO. DCCCCXCIX,