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the fall was a scrambling track over rocks and trunks unworthy to be called a footpath. The lady with the bag had no choice left but to follow this track, or else abandon her intention. For a moment she was sorry that she had not been satisfied with some less troublesome destruction of her foe, even at the risk of chance suspicions. But, having thus begun it, she would not turn back, and be angry with her idle fears, when she came to think of them.
With hereditary scorn of second thoughts, she cast away doubt, and went down the steep, and stood on the brow of sheer rock, to recover her breath and strength for a long, bold cast. The crag beneath her feet was trembling with the power of the flood below; and the white mist from the deep moved slowly, shrouding now, and now revealing, the black gulf and its slippery walls. For the last few months Miss Yordas had taken very little exercise, and seldom tasted the open air; therefore the tumult and terror of the place, in the fading of the sky, and darkening of the earth, got hold of her more than they should have done.
With the frail in her right hand, poised upon three fingers (for the fourth had been broken in her childhood), she planted the sole of her left foot on the brink, and swung herself for the needful cast.
A strong throw was needful, to reach the black water, that never gave up anything; if the bag were dropped in the foaming race, it might be carried back to the heel of the fall. She was proud of her bodily strength, which was almost equal to that of a muscular man; and her long arm swelled with the vigour of the throw. But just when the weight should have been delivered, and flown with a hiss into the bottomless abyss, a loose flag of the handle twisted on her broken finger. Instead of being freed, the bag fell back, struck her in the chest, and threw her back; for the clock-weight was a heavy one. Her balance was lost, her feet flew up, she fell upon her back, and the smooth beaver cloak began sliding upon the slippery rock. Horrible death was pulling at her; not a stick nor a stone was in reach of her hands, and the pitiless crags echoed one long shriek, above all the roar of the waterfall. She strove to turn over and grasp the ground, but only felt herself going faster. Her bright boots were flashing against the white mist-a picture in her mind for ever-her body was following, inch by inch. With elbow, and shoulder, and even haircombs, she strove to prolong the descent into death; but the descent increased its speed, and the sky itself was sliding.
Just when the balance was inclining downwards, and the plunge hanging on a hair's breadth, powerful hands fell upon her shoulders; a grating of a drag against the grain was the last thing she was conscious of; and Sir Duncan Yordas, having made a strong pull, at the imminent risk of his life, threw back his weight on the heels of his boots, and they helped him. His long Indian spurs which had no rowel, held their hold like a falcon's hind talon; and he drew back the lady without knowing who she was, having leaped from his horse at her despairing scream. From his knowledge of the place, he
concluded that it was some person seeking suicide, but recoiling from the sight of death; and without another thought, he risked his life
Breathless himself-for the transit of years, and of curry-powder, had not improved his lungs-he laboured at the helpless form, and laid it at last in a place of safety.
'What a weight the lady is !' was his first idea; it cannot be want of food that has driven her, nor of money either; her cloak would fetch a thousand rupees on the hills. And a bag full of something— precious also, to judge by the way she clings to it. Poor thing! Can I get any water for her? There used to be a spring here, where the woodcocks came. Is it safe to leave her? Certainly not, with her head like that; she might even have apoplexy. Allow me, madam. I will not steal it. It is only for a cushion.'
The lady, however, though still in a stupor, kept her fingers clenched upon the handle of the bag; and without using violence he could not move them. Then the stitching of the frail gave way; and Sir Duncan espied a roll of parchment. Suddenly, the lady opened large dark eyes, which wandered a little, and then (as he raised her head) met his, and turned away.
Philippa!' he said, and she faintly answered Yes,' being humbled and shaken by her deadly terror, and scarcely sure of safety yet; for the roar and the chasm were in sight and hearing still.
Philippa, are you better? Never mind what you are thinking of. All shall be right about that, Philippa. What is land in comparison with life? Look up at me. Don't be afraid to look. Surely you know your only brother! I am Duncan, who ran away, and has lived for years in India. I used to be very kind to you, when we were children; and why should I alter from it now? I remember when you tumbled in the path down there, and your knee was bleeding, and I tied it up, with a dock-leaf and my handkerchief. Can you remember? It was primrose-time.'
To be sure I do,' she said, looking up with cheerfulness; and you carried me all the way home almost; and Eliza was dreadfully jealous.'
'That she always was; and you not much better. But now we are getting on in life, and we need not have much to do with one another. Still we need not try to kill one another, by trumpery squabbles about property. Stay where you are, for a moment, sister; and you shall see the end of that.'
Sir Duncan took the bag, with the deed inside it, returned in three steps to the perilous shelf, and with a strong hurl sent forth the load, which cleft the white mist, and sank for ever in the waves of the whirlpool.
'No one can prosecute me for that,' he said, returning with a smile, though Mordacks may be much aggrieved. Now, Philippa, although I cannot carry you well, from the additions time has made to you, I can help you home, my dear; and then on, upon my business."
The pride and self-esteem of Miss Yordas had never been so crushed before. She put both hands upon her brother's shoulders, and
burst into a flood of tears.
SIR DUNCAN YORDAS was a man of impulse; as almost every man must be, who sways the wills of other men. But he had not acted upon mere impulse in casting away his claim to Scargate. He knew that he could never live in that bleak spot, after all his years in India; he disliked the place, through his father's harshness; he did not care that any son of his, who had lain under charge of a foul crime, and fled, instead of meeting it, should become a Yordas of Scargate Hall,' although that description by no means involved any very strict equity of conduct. And besides these reasons, he had another, which will appear very shortly. But whatever the secondary motives were, it was a large and generous act.
When Mrs. Carnaby saw her brother, she was sure that he was come to turn her out, and went through a series of states of mind, natural to an adoring mother, with a frail imagination of an appetite-as she poetically described it. She was not very swift of apprehension, although so promptly alive to anything tender, refined, and succulent. Having too strong a sense of duty to be guilty of any generosity, she could not believe, either then or thereafter, that her brother had cast away anything at all, except a mere shred of a lawsuit. And without any heed of chronology-because (as she justly inquired) what two clocks are alike?—she was certain that if he did anything at all to drive off those horrible lawyers from the house, there was no credit due to anyone but Pet. It was the noble way Pet looked at him!
Pet, being introduced to his uncle, after dinner, when he came home from fishing, certainly did look nobly at him, if a long stare is noble. Then he went up to him with a large and liberal sniff, and an affable inquiry, as a little dog goes up to a big one. Sir Duncan was amused, having heard already some little particulars about this youth, whose nature he was able to enter into as none but a Yordas could rightly do. However, he was bound to make the best of him, and did so; discovering not only room for improvement, but some hope of that room being occupied.
'The boy has been shockingly spoiled,' he said to his sister Philippa, that evening; also he is dreadfully ignorant. None of us are very great at scholarship, and never have much occasion for it. But things are becoming very different now. Everybody is beginning to be expected to know everything. Very likely, as soon as I am no more wanted, I shall be voted a blockhead. Luckily the wars keep people from being too choice, when their pick goes every minute. And this may stop the fuss, that comes from Scotland mainly, about
universal distribution-or some big words of education. "Pet," as you call him, is a very clever fellow, with much more shape of words about him than ever I was blessed with. In spelling, I saw that he was my master, and so I tried him with geography, and all he knew of India was, that it takes its name from India-rubber!'
'Now I call that clever of him,' said Miss Yordas; for I really might have forgotten even that. But the fatal defect in his education has been the want of what you grow, chiefly in West India perhapsthe cane, Duncan, the sugar-cane! I have read all about it, you can tell me nothing. You suck it, you smoke it, and you beat your children with it.'
"Well,' said Sir Duncan, who was not quite sure, in the face of such authority, I disremember; but perhaps they do in some parts, because the country is so large. But it is not the ignorance of Pet I care for such a fault is natural, and unavoidable; and who is there to pick holes in it? The boy knows a great deal more than I did at his age, because he is so much younger. But, Philippa, unless you do something with him, he will never be a gentleman.'
'Duncan, you are hard. You have seen so much.'
The more we see, the softer we become. The one thing we harden against is lying-the seed, the root, and the substance of all vileness. I am sorry to say your Pet is a liar.'
'He does not always tell the truth, I know. But bear in mind, Duncan, that his mother did not insist-and in fact she does not herself always
"I know it; I am grieved that it should come from our side. I never cared for his father much, because he went against me; but this I will say for him, Lance Carnaby would sooner cut his tongue out, than put it to a lie. When I am at home, my dealings are with fellows who could not speak the truth, if they tried for dear life, simply through want of practice. They are like your lower class of horse-dealers, but with infinitely more intelligence. It is late to teach poor Pet the first of all lessons; and for me to stop to do it, is impossible. But will you try to save further disgrace to a scapegrace family, but not a mean one?'
'I feel it as much as you do; perhaps more,' Miss Yordas answered, forgetting altogether about the deed-box, and her antiquary. You need not tell me how very sad it is. But how can it be cured? His mother is his mother. She never would part with him; and her health is delicate.'
'Stronger than either yours, or mine; unless she takes too much nourishment. Philippa, her will is mere petulance. For her own good, we must set it aside. And if you agree with me, it can be done. He must go into a marching regiment at once, ordered abroad, with five shillings in his pocket, earn his pay, and live upon it. This patched-up peace will never last six months. The war must be fought out, till France goes down, or England. I can get him a commission; and I know the colonel-a man of my own sort, who
sees things done, instead of talking. It would be the making of Lancelot. He has plenty of courage, but it has been milched. At Oxford, or Cambridge, he would do no good, but simply be ruined by having his own way. Under my friend, Colonel Thacker, he will have a hard time of it, and tell no lies.'
Thus it was settled. There was a fearful outcry, hysterics of an elegant order, and weepings enough to produce summer spate in the Tees. But the only result was the ordering of the tailor, the hosier, the boot-maker, and the scissors-grinder, to put a new edge upon Squire Philip's razors, that Pet might practise shaving. Coldblooded cruelty, savage homicide; cannibalism itself is kinder,' said poor Mrs. Carnaby, when she saw the razors; but Pet insisted upon having them, made lather, and practised with the backs; till he began to understand them.
'He promises well; I have great hopes of him,' Sir Duncan said to himself; he has pride; and no proud boy can be long a liar. I will go, and consult my dear old friend Bart.'
Mr. Bart, who was still of good bodily strength, but becoming less resolute in mind than of yore, was delighted to see his old friend again; and these two men, having warm, proud hearts, preserved each other from self-contempt, by looking away, through the long hand-clasp. For each of them was, to the. other, almost the only man really respected in the world.
Betwixt them, such a thing as concealment could not be. The difference in their present position was a thing to laugh at. Sir Duncan looked up to Bart, as being the maker of his character; and Bart admired Sir Duncan, as a newer and wiser edition of himself. They despatched the past in a cheery talk; for the face of each was enough to show that it might have been troublous—as all past is— but had slidden into quiet satisfaction now, and a gentle flow of experience. Then they began to speak of present matters, and the residue of time before them; and among other things, Sir Duncan Yordas spoke of his nephew Lancelot.
'Lancelot Yordas Carnaby,' said Bart, with the smile of a greybeard at young love's dream,' has done us the honour to fall in love, for ever and ever, with our little Insie. And the worst of it is, that she likes him.'
'What an excellent idea!' his old friend answered; I was sure there was something of that sort going on. Now betwixt love and war we shall make a man of Pet.'
As shortly as possible he told Mr. Bart what his plan about his nephew was, and how he had carried it against maternal, and now must carry it against maiden love. If Lancelot had any good stuff in him, any vertebrate embryo of honesty, to be put among men, and upon his mettle (with a guardian angel in the distance of sweet home), would stablish all the man in him, and stint the beast. Mr. Bart, though he hated hard fighting, admitted that for weak people it was needful; and was only too happy so to cut the knot of No. 608 (No. cxxvIII. N. s.)