Page images
PDF
EPUB

the Dominie, John ?-(to a servant who was busy about the table) where's the Dominie and little Harry ?"

“ .Mr Sampson's been at hame these twa hours and mair, but I dinna think Mr Harry came hame wi' him.”

“Not come hame wi' bim ?" said the lady, “ desire Mr Sampson to step this way directly.", :- “Mr Sampson," said she, upon his en. trance, " is it not the most extraordinary thing in this world wide, that you, that havefreeup-putting-bed, board, and wash; ing--and twelve pounds sterling a year, just to look after that boy, should let him out of your sight for twa or three hours?"

Sampson made a bow of humble acknow. ledgment at each pause which the angry lady made in her enumeration of the ad. vantages of his situation, in order to give more weight to her remonstrance, and then, in words which we will not do bim the injustice to imitate, told how Mr Fran. cis Kennedy “ had assumed spontaneously

the charge of Master Harry, in despite of his remonstrances in the contrary.”

“I am very little obliged to Mr Francis Kennedy for his pains," said the lady, peevishly; "suppose he lets the boy drop from his horse, and lames him ?-or suppose.one of the cannons comes ashore and kills him ?-or suppose"

“ Or suppose, my dear," said Ellangowan, “what is much more likely than any thing else, that they have gone aboard the sloop, or the prize, and are to come round the Point with the tide ?"

“ And then they may be drowned,” said the lady.

“ Verily,” said Sampson, “ I thought Mr Kennedy had returned an hour sinceOf a surety I deemed I heard his horse's feet."

“That,” said John, with a broad grin, " was Grizel chasing the humbled cow out of the close.”

Sampson coloured up to the eyes--not at the implied taunt, which he would never have discovered, or resented if he

TO

had, but at some idea which crossed his own mind. “ I have been in an error," he said, 5 of a surety I should have tarried for the babe.” So saying, he snatched his cane and hat, and hurried away to. wards Warroch-wood, faster than he was ever known to walk before, or after. •

The Laird lingered some time, debating the point with the lady. At length, he saw the sloop of war again make her appearance ; but, without approaching the shore, she stood away to the westward with all her sails set, and was soon out of sight. The lady's state of timorous and fretful apprehension was so habitual, that her fears went for nothing with her lord and master; but an appearance of disturbance and anxiety among the servants now excited his alarm, especially when he was called out of the room, and told in private, that Mr Kennedy's horse had come to the stable door alone, with the saddle turned round below its belly, and the rein's of the bridle broken; and that a farmer had in

formed them in passing, that there was a smuggling lugger burning like a furnace on the other side of the Point of Warroch, and that, though he had come through the wood, he had seen or heard nothing of Kennedy and the young Laird, “ only there was Dominie Sampson, gaun rampaging about, like mad, seeking for them.”.

All was now bustle at Ellangowan. The Laird and his servants, male and female, hastened to the wood of Warroch. The tenants and cottagers in the neighbour. hood lent their assistance, partly out of zeal, partly from curiosity. Boats were manned to search the sea-shore, which, on the other side of the Point, rose into high and indented rocks. A vague suspicion was entertained, though too horrible to be expressed, that the child might have fallen from one of these cliffs.

The evening had begun to close when the parties entered the wood, and dispersed different ways in quest of the boy and his companion. The darkening

of the atmosphere, and the hoarse sighs of the November wind through the naked trees, the rustling of the withered leaves which strewed the glades, the repeated halloos of the different parties, which often drew them together in expectation of meeting the objects of their search, gave a cast of dismal sublimity to the scene.

At length, after a minute and fruitless investigation through the wood, the searchers began to draw together into one body and to compare notes. The agony of the father grew beyond concealment, yet-it scarcely equalled the anguish of the tutor. “Would to God. I had died for him!” the affectionate creature repeated in notes of the deepest distress. Those who were less interested, rushed into a tumultuary discus.. sion of chances and possibilities. Each gave his opinion, and each was alternately swayed by that of the others. Some thought the objects of their search had gone aboard the sloop; some that they had gone to a village at three miles distance ; some

« PreviousContinue »