Project Gutenberg Australia
a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership
DefectiveByDesign.org



Title: Collected Stories
Author: Rosa Mulholland
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0606151.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
Date most recently updated: August 2006

This eBook was produced by: Richard Scott

Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions
which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice
is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular
paper edition.

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this
file.

This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms
of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at
http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html


To contact Project Gutenberg of Australia go to http://gutenberg.net.au


Collected Stories
Rosa Mulholland



Table of Contents

The Haunted Organist of Hurly Burly
Not to be Taken at Bed-Time



THE HAUNTED ORGANIST OF HURLY BURLY

There had been a thunderstorm in the village of Hurly Burly. Every
door was shut, every dog in his kennel, every rut and gutter a flowing
river after the deluge of rain that had fallen. Up at the great house,
a mile from the town, the rooks were calling to one another about the
fright they had been in, the fawns in the deer-park were venturing
their timid heads from behind the trunks of trees, and the old woman
at the gate-lodge had risen from her knees, and was putting back her
prayer-book on the shelf In the garden, July roses, unwieldy with
their full-blown richness, and saturated with rain, hung their heads
heavily to the earth; others, already fallen, lay flat upon their
blooming faces on the path, where Bess, Mistress Hurly's maid, would
find them, when going on her morning quest of rose-leaves for her
lady's pot-pourri. Ranks of white lilies, just brought to perfection
by today's sun, lay dabbled in the mire of flooded mould. Tears ran
down the amber cheeks of the plums on the south wall, and not a bee
had ventured out of the hives, though the scent of the air was sweet
enough to tempt the laziest drone. The sky was still lurid behind the
boles of the upland oaks, but the birds had begun to dive in and out
of the ivy that wrapped up the home of the Hurlys of Hurly Burly.

This thunderstorm took place more than half a century ago, and we must
remember that Mistress Hurly was dressed in the fashion of that time
as she crept out from behind the squire's chair, now that the
lightning was over, and, with many nervous glances towards the window,
sat down before her husband, the tea-urn, and the muffins. We can
picture her fine lace cap, with its peachy ribbons, the frill on the
hem of her cambric gown just touching her ankles, the embroidered
clocks on her stockings, the rosettes on her shoes, but not so easily
the lilac shade of her mild eyes, the satin skin, which still kept its
delicate bloom, though wrinkled with advancing age, and the pale,
sweet, puckered mouth, that time and sorrow had made angelic while
trying vainly to deface its beauty.

The squire was as rugged as his wife was gentle, his skin as brown as
hers was white, his grey hair as bristling as hers was glossed; the
years had ploughed his face into ruts and channels; a bluff, choleric,
noisy man he had been; but of late a dimness had come on his eyes, a
hush on his loud voice, and a check on the spring of his hale step. He
looked at his wife often, and very often she looked at him. She was
not a tall woman, and he was only a head higher. They were a quaintly
well-matched couple, despite their differences. She turned to you with
nervous sharpness and revealed her tender voice and eye; he spoke and
glanced roughly, but the turn of his head was courteous. Of late they
fitted one another better than they had ever done in the heyday of
their youthful love. A common sorrow had developed a singular likeness
between them. In former years the cry from the wife had been, 'Don't
curb my son too much!' and from the husband, 'You ruin the lad with
softness.' But now the idol that had stood between them was removed,
and they saw each other better.

The room in which they sat was a pleasant old-fashioned drawing-room,
with a general spider-legged character about the fittings; spinnet and
guitar in their places, with a great deal of copied music beside them;
carpet, tawny wreaths on the pale blue; blue flutings on the walls,
and faint gilding on the furniture. A huge urn, crammed with roses, in
the open bay-window, through which came delicious airs from the
garden, the twittering of birds settling to sleep in the ivy close by,
and occasionally the pattering of a flight of rain-drops, swept to the
ground as a bough.bent in the breeze. The urn on the table was ancient
silver, and the china rare. There was nothing in the room for
luxurious ease of the body, but everything of delicate refinement for
the eye.

There was a great hush all over Hurly Burly, except in the
neighbourhood of the rooks. Every living thing had suffered from heat
for the past month, and now, in common with all Nature, was receiving
the boon of refreshed air in silent peace. The mistress and master of
Hurly Burly shared the general spirit that was abroad, and were not
talkative over their tea.

'Do you know,' said Mistress Hurly, at last, 'when I heard the first
of the thunder beginning I thought it was--it was--'

The lady broke down, her lips trembling, and the peachy ribbons of her
cap stirring with great agitation.

'Pshaw!' cried the old squire, making his cup suddenly ring upon the
saucer, 'we ought to have forgotten that. Nothing has been heard for
three months.'

At this moment a rolling sound struck upon the ears of both. The lady
rose from her seat trembling, and folded her hands together, while the
tea-urn flooded the tray.

'Nonsense, my love,' said the squire; 'that is the noise of wheels.
Who can be arriving?'

'Who, indeed?' murmured the lady, reseating herself in agitation.

Presently pretty Bess of the rose-leaves appeared at the door in a
flutter of blue ribbons.

'Please, madam, a lady has arrived, and says she is expected. She
asked for her apartment, and I put her into the room that was got
ready for Miss Calderwood. And she sends her respects to you, madam,
and she'll be down with you presently.'

The squire looked at his wife, and his wife looked at the squire.

'It is some mistake,' murmured madam. 'Some visitor for Calderwood or
the Grange. It is very singular.'

Hardly had she spoken when the door again opened, and the stranger
appeared--a small creature, whether girl or woman it would be hard to
say--dressed in a scanty black silk dress, her narrow shoulders
covered with a white muslin pelerine. Her hair was swept up to the
crown of her head, all but a little fringe hanging over her low
forehead within an inch of her brows. Her face was brown and thin,
eyes black and long, with blacker settings, mouth large, sweet, and
melancholy. She was all head, mouth, and eyes; her nose and chin were
nothing.

This visitor crossed the floor hastily, dropped a courtesy in the
middle of the room, and approached the table, saying abruptly, with a
soft Italian accent:

'Sir and madam, I am here. I am come to play your organ.'

'The organ!' gasped Mistress Hurly.

'The organ!' stammered the squire.

'Yes, the organ,' said the little stranger lady, playing on the back
of a chair with her fingers, as if she felt notes under them. 'It was
but last week that the handsome signor, your son, came to my little
house, where I have lived teaching music since my English father and
my Italian mother and brothers and sisters died and left me so
lonely.'

Here the fingers left off drumming, and two great tears were brushed
off, one from each eye with each hand, child's fashion. But the next
moment the fingers were at work again, as if only whilst they were
moving the tongue could speak.

'The noble signor, your son,' said the little woman, looking
trustfully from one to the other of the old couple, while a bright
blush shone through her brown skin, 'he often came to see me before
that, always in the evening, when the sun was warm and yellow all
through my little studio, and the music was swelling my heart, and I
could play out grand with all my soul; then he used to come and say,
"Hurry, little Lisa, and play better, better still. I have work for
you to do.by-and-by." Sometimes he said, "Brava!" and sometimes he
said "Eccellentissima!" but one night last week he came to me and
said, "It is enough. Will you swear to do my bidding, whatever it may
be?" Here the black eyes fell. And I said, "Yes". And he said, "Now
you are my betrothed". And I said, "Yes". And he said, "Pack up your
music, little Lisa, and go off to England to my English father and
mother, who have an organ in their house which must be played upon. If
they refuse to let you play, tell them I sent you, and they will give
you leave. You must play all day, and you must get up in the night and
play. You must never tire. You are my betrothed, and you have sworn to
do my work." I said, "Shall I see you there, signor?" And he said,
"Yes, you shall see me there." I said, "I will keep my vow, Signor."
And so, sir and madam, I am come.'

The soft foreign voice left off talking, the fingers left off
thrumming on the chair, and the little stranger gazcd in dismay at her
auditors, both pale with agitation.

'You are deceived. You make a mistake,' said they in one breath.

'Our son--' began Mistress Hurly, but her mouth twitched, her voice
broke, and she looked piteously towards her husband.

'Our son,' said the squire, making an effort to conquer the quavering
in his voice, 'our son is long dead.'

'Nay, nay,' said the little foreigner. 'If you have thought him dead
have good cheer, dear sir and madam. He is alive; he is well, and
strong, and handsome. But one, two, three, four, five' (on the
fingers) 'days ago he stood by my side.'

'It is some strange mistake, some wonderful coincidence!' said the
mistress and master of Hurly Burly.

'Let us take her to the gallery,' murmured the mother of this son who
was thus dead and alive.

'There is yet light to see the pictures. She will not know his
portrait.'

The bewildered wife and husband led their strange visitor away to a
long gloomy room at the west side of the house, where the faint gleams
from the darkening sky still lingered on the portraits of the Hurly
family.

'Doubtless he is like this,' said the squire, pointing to a fair-
haired young man with a mild face, a brother of his own who had been
lost at sea.

But Lisa shook her head, and went softly on tiptoe from one picture to
another, peering into the canvas, and still turning away troubled. But
at last a shriek of delight startled the shadowy chamber.

'Ah, here he is! See, here he is, the noble signor, the beautiful
signor, not half so handsome as he looked five days ago, when talking
to poor little Lisa! Dear sir and madam, you are now content. Now take
me to the organ, that I may commence to do his bidding at once.'

The mistress of Hurly Burly clung fast by her husband's arm. 'How old
are you, girl?' she said faintly.

'Eighteen,' said the visitor impatiently, moving towards the door.

'And my son has been dead for twenty years!' said his mother, and
swooned on her husband's breast.

'Order the carriage at once,' said Mistress Hurly, recovering from her
swoon; 'I will take her to Margaret Calderwood. Margaret will tell her
the story. Margaret will bring her to reason. No, not tomorrow; I
cannot bear tomorrow, it is so far away. We must go tonight.'

The little signora thought the old lady mad, but she put on her cloak
again obediently, and took her seat beside Mistress Hurly in the Hurly
family coach. The moon that looked in at them through the pane as they
lumbered along was not whiter than the aged face of the squire's wife,
whose dim faded eyes were fixed upon it in doubt and awe too great for
tears or words. Lisa, too, from her corner gloated upon the moon, her
black eyes shining with passionate dreams.

A carriage rolled away from the Calderwood door as the Hurly coach
drew up at the steps.

Margaret Calderwood had just returned from a dinner-party, and at the
open door a splendid figure was standing, a tall woman dressed in
brown velvet, the diamonds on her bosom glistening in the moonlight
that revealed her, pouring, as it did, over the house from eaves to
basement. Mistress Hurly fell into her outstretched arms with a groan,
and the strong woman carried her aged friend, like a baby, into the
house. Little Lisa was overlooked, and sat down contentedly on the
threshold to gloat awhile longer on the moon, and to thrum imaginary
sonatas on the doorstep.

There were tears and sobs in the dusk, moonlit room into which
Margaret Calderwood carried her friend. There was a long consultation,
and then Margaret, having hushed away the grieving woman into some
quiet corner, came forth to look for the little dark-faced stranger,
who had arrived, so unwelcome, from beyond the seas, with such wild
communication from the dead.

Up the grand staircase of handsome Calderwood the little woman
followed the tall one into a large chamber where a lamp burned,
showing Lisa, if she cared to see it, that this mansion of Calderwood
was fitted with much greater luxury and richness than was that of
Hurly Burly. The appointments of this room announced it the sanctum of
a woman who depended for the interest of her life upon resources of
intellect and taste. Lisa noticed nothing but a morsel of biscuit that
was lying on a plate.

'May I have it?' said she eagerly. 'It is so long since I have eaten.
I am hungry.'

Margaret Calderwood gazed at her with a sorrowful, motherly look, and,
parting the fringing hair on her forehead, kissed her. Lisa, staring
at her in wonder, returned the caress with ardour.

Margaret's large fair shoulders, Madonna face, and yellow braided
hair, excited a rapture within her. But when food was brought her, she
flew to it and ate.

'It is better than I have ever eaten at home!' she said gratefully.
And Margaret Calderwood murmured, 'She is physically healthy, at
least.'

'And now, Lisa,' said Margaret Calderwood, 'come and tell me the whole
history of the grand signor who sent you to England to play the
organ.'

Then Lisa crept in behind a chair, and her eyes began to bum and her
fingers to thrum, and she repeated word for word her story as she had
told it at Hurly Burly.

When she had finished, Margaret Calderwood began to pace up and down
the floor with a very troubled face. Lisa watched her, fascinated,
and, when she bade her listen to a story which she would relate to
her, folded her restless hands together meekly, and listened.

'Twenty years ago, Lisa, Mr and Mrs Hurly had a son. He was handsome,
like that portrait you saw in the gallery, and he had brilliant
talents. He was idolized by his father and mother, and all who knew
him felt obliged to love him. I was then a happy girl of twenty. I was
an orphan, and Mrs Hurly, who had been my mother's friend, was like a
mother to me. I, too, was petted and caressed by all my friends, and I
was very wealthy; but I only valued admiration, riches--every good
gift that fell to my share--just in proportion as they seemed of worth
in the eyes of Lewis Hurly. I was his affianced wife, and I loved him
well.

'All the fondness and pride that were lavished on him could not keep
him from falling into evil ways, nor from becoming rapidly more and
more abandoned to wickedness, till even those who loved him best
despaired of seeing his reformation. I prayed him with tears, for my
sake, if not for that of his grieving mother, to save himself before
it was too late. But to my horror I found that my power was gone, my
words did not even move him; he loved me no more. I tried to think
that this was some fit of madness that would pass, and still clung to
hope. At last his own mother forbade me to see him.'

Here Margaret Calderwood paused, seemingly in bitter thought, but
resumed:

'He and a party of his boon companions, named by themselves the
"Devil's Club", were in the habit of practising all kinds of unholy
pranks in the country. They had midnight carousings on the tomb-stones
in the village graveyard; they carried away helpless old men and
children, whom they tortured by making believe to bury them alive;
they raised the dead and placed them sitting round the tombstones at a
mock feast. On one occasion there was a very sad funeral from the
village. The corpse was carried into the church, and prayers were read
over the coffin, the chief mourner, the aged father of the dead man,
standing weeping by. In the midst of this solemn scene the organ
suddenly pealed forth a profane tune, and a number of voices shouted a
drinking chorus. A groan of execration burst from the crowd, the
clergyman turned pale and closed his book, and the old man, the father
of the dead, climbed the altar steps, and, raising his arms above his
head, uttered a terrible curse. He cursed Lewis Hurly to all eternity,
he cursed the organ he played, that it might be dumb henceforth,
except under the fingers that had now profaned it, which, he prayed,
might be forced to labour upon it till they stiffened in death. And
the curse seemed to work, for the organ stood dumb in the church from
that day, except when touched by Lewis Hurly.

'For a bravado he had the organ taken down and conveyed to his
father's house, where he had it put up in the chamber where it now
stands. It was also for a bravado that he played on it every day. But,
by-and-by, the amount of time which he spent at it daily began to
increase rapidly. We wondered long at this whim, as we called it, and
his poor mother thanked God that he had set his heart upon an
occupation which would keep him out of harm's way. I was the first to
suspect that it was not his own will that kept him hammering at the
organ so many laborious hours, while his boon companions tried vainly
to draw him away. He used to lock himself up in the room with the
organ, but one day I hid myself among the curtains, and saw him
writhing on his seat, and heard him groaning as he strove to wrench
his hands from the keys, to which they flew back like a needle to a
magnet. It was soon plainly to be seen that he was an involuntary
slave to the organ; but whether through a madness that had grown
within himself, or by some supernatural doom, having its cause in the
old man's curse, we did not dare to say. By-and-by there came a time
when we were wakened out of our sleep at nights by the rolling of the
organ. He wrought now night and day. Food and rest were denied him.
His face got haggard, his beard grew long, his eyes started from their
sockets. His body became wasted, and his cramped fingers like the
claws of a bird. He groaned piteously as he stooped over his cruel
toil. All save his mother and I were afraid to go near him. She, poor,
tender woman, tried to put wine and food between his lips, while the
tortured fingers crawled over the keys; but he only gnashed his teeth
at her with curses, and she retreated from him in terror, to pray. At
last, one dreadful hour, we found him a ghastly corpse on the ground
before the organ.

'From that hour the organ was dumb to the touch of all human fingers.
Many, unwilling to believe the story, made persevering endeavours to
draw sound from it, in vain. But when the darkened empty room was
locked up and left, we heard as loud as ever the well-known sounds
humming and rolling through the walls. Night and day the tones of the
organ boomed on as before. It seemed that the doom of the wretched man
was not yet fulfilled, although his tortured body had been worn out in
the terrible struggle to accomplish it. Even his own mother was afraid
to go near the room then. So the time went on, and the curse of this
perpetual music was not removed from the house. Servants refused to
stay about the place. Visitors shunned it. The squire and his wife
left their home for years, and returned; left it, and returned again,
to find their ears still tortured and their hearts wrung by the
unceasing persecution of terrible sounds. At last, but a few months
ago, a holy man was found, who locked himself up in the cursed chamber
for many days, praying and wrestling with the demon. After he came
forth and went away the sounds ceased, and the organ was heard no
more. Since then there has been peace in the house. And now, Lisa,
your strange appearance and your strange story convince us that you
are a victim of a ruse of the Evil One. Be warned in time, and place
yourself under the protection of God, that you may be saved from the
fearful influences that are at work upon you. Come--'

Margaret Calderwood turned to the corner where the stranger sat, as
she had supposed, listening intently. Little Lisa was fast asleep, her
hands spread before her as if she played an organ in her dreams.

Margaret took the soft brown face to her motherly breast, and kissed
the swelling temples, too big with wonder and fancy.

'We will save you from a horrible fate!' she murmured, and carried the
girl to bed.

In the morning Lisa was gone. Margaret Calderwood, coming early from
her own chamber, went into the girl's room and found the bed empty.

'She is just such a wild thing,' thought Margaret, 'as would rush out
at sunrise to hear the larks!' and she went forth to look for her in
the meadows, behind the beech hedges and in the home park. Mistress
Hurly, from the breakfast-room window, saw Margaret Calderwood, large
and fair in her white morning gown, coming down the garden-path
between the rose bushes, with her fresh draperies dabbled by the dew,
and a look of trouble on her calm face. Her quest had been
unsuccessful. The little foreigner had vanished.

A second search after breakfast proved also fruitless, and towards
evening the two women drove back to Hurly Burly together. There all
was panic and distress. The squire sat in his study with the doors
shut, and his hands over his ears. The servants, with pale faces, were
huddled together in whispering groups. The haunted organ was pealing
through the house as of old.

Margaret Calderwood hastened to the fatal chamber, and there, sure
enough, was Lisa, perched upon the high seat before the organ, beating
the keys with her small hands, her slight figure swaying, and the
evening sunshine playing about her weird head. Sweet unearthly music
she wrung from the groaning heart of the organ--wild melodies,
mounting to rapturous heights and falling to mournful depths. She
wandered from Mendelssohn to Mozart, and from Mozart to Beethoven.
Margaret stood fascinated awhile by the ravishing beauty of the sounds
she heard, but, rousing herself quickly, put her arms round the
musician and forced her away from the chamber. Lisa returned next day,
however, and was not so easily coaxed from her post again.

Day after day she laboured at the organ, growing paler and thinner and
more weird-looking as time went on.

'I work so hard,' she said to Mrs Hurly. 'The signor, your son, is he
pleased? Ask him to come and tell me himself if he is pleased.'

Mistress Hurly got ill and took to her bed. The squire swore at the
young foreign baggage, and roamed abroad. Margaret Calderwood was the
only one who stood by to watch the fate of the little organist. The
curse of the organ was upon Lisa; it spoke under her hand, and her
hand was its slave.

At last she announced rapturously that she had had a visit from the
brave signor, who had commended her industry, and urged her to work
yet harder. After that she ceased to hold any communication with the
living. Time after time Margaret Calderwood wrapped her arms about the
frail thing, and carried her away by force, locking the door of the
fatal chamber. But locking the chamber and burying the key were of no
avail. The door stood open again, and Lisa was labouring on her perch.

One night, wakened from her sleep by the well-known humming and
moaning of the organ, Margaret dressed hurriedly and hastened to the
unholy room. Moonlight was pouring down the staircase and passages of
Hurly Burly. It shone on the marble bust of the dead Lewis Hurly, that
stood in the niche above his mother's sitting-room door. The organ
room was full of it when Margaret pushed open the door and entered--
full of the pale green moonlight from the window, mingled with another
light, a dull lurid glare which seemed to centre round a dark shadow,
like the figure of a man standing by the organ, and throwing out in
fantastic relief the slight form of Lisa writhing, rather than
swaying, back and forward, as if in agony. The sounds that came from
the organ were broken and meaningless, as if the hands of the player
lagged and stumbled on the keys. Between the intermittent chords low
moaning cries broke from Lisa, and the dark figure bent towards her
with menacing gestures. Trembling with the sickness of supernatural
fear, yet strong of will, Margaret Calderwood crept forward within the
lurid light, and was drawn into its influence. It grew and intensified
upon her, it dazzled and blinded her at first; but presently, by a
daring effort of will, she raised her eyes, and beheld Lisa's face
convulsed with torture in the burning glare, and bending over her the
figure and the features of Lewis Hurly! Smitten with horror, Margaret
did not even then lose her presence of mind. She wound her strong arms
around the wretched girl and dragged her from her seat and out of the
influence of the lurid light, which immediately paled away and
vanished. She carried her to her own bed, where Lisa lay, a wasted
wreck, raving about the cruelty of the pitiless signor who would not
see that she was labouring her best. Her poor cramped hands kept
beating the coverlet, as though she were still at her agonizing task.

Margaret Calderwood bathed her burning temples, and placed fresh
flowers upon her pillow.

She opened the blinds and windows, and let in the sweet morning air
and sunshine, and then, looking up at the newly awakened sky with its
fair promise of hope for the day, and down at the dewy fields, and
afar off at the dark green woods with the purple mists still hovering
about them, she prayed that a way might be shown her by which to put
an end to this curse. She prayed for Lisa, and then, thinking that the
girl rested somewhat, stole from the room. She thought that she had
locked the door behind her.

She went downstairs with a pale, resolved face, and, without
consulting anyone, sent to the village for a bricklayer. Afterwards
she sat by Mistress Hurly's bedside, and explained to her what was to
be done. Presently she went to the door of Lisa's room, and hearing no
sound, thought the girl slept, and stole away. By-and-by she went
downstairs, and found that the bricklayer had arrived and already
begun his task of building up the organ-room door. He was a swift
workman, and the chamber was soon sealed safely with stone and mortar.

Having seen this work finished, Margaret Calderwood went and listened
again at Lisa's door; and still hearing no sound, she returned, and
took her seat at Mrs Hurly's bedside once more. It was towards evening
that she at last entered her room to assure herself of the comfort of
Lisa's sleep. But the bed and room were empty. Lisa had disappeared.

Then the search began, upstairs and downstairs, in the garden, in the
grounds, in the fields and meadows. No Lisa. Margaret Calderwood
ordered the carriage and drove to Calderwood to see if the strange
little Will-o'-the-wisp might have made her way there; then to the
village, and to many other places in the neighbourhood which it was
not possible she could have reached. She made enquiries everywhere;
she pondered and puzzled over the matter. In the weak, suffering state
that the girl was in, how far could she have crawled?

After two days' search, Margaret returned to Hurly Burly. She was sad
and tired, and the evening was chill. She sat over the fire wrapped in
her shawl when little Bess came to her, weeping behind her muslin
apron.

'If you'd speak to Mistress Hurly about it, please, ma'am,' she said.
'I love her dearly, and it breaks my heart to go away, but the organ
haven't done yet, ma'am, and I'm frightened out of my life, so I can't
stay.'

'Who has heard the organ, and when?' asked Margaret Calderwood, rising
to her feet.

'Please, ma'am, I heard it the night you went away--the night after
the door was built up!'

'And not since?'

'No, ma'am,' hesitatingly, 'not since. Hist! hark, ma'am! Is not that
like the sound of it now?'

'No,' said Margaret Calderwood; 'it is only the wind.' But pale as
death she flew down the stairs and laid her ear to the yet damp mortar
of the newly built wall. All was silent. There was no sound but the
monotonous sough of the wind in the trees outside. Then Margaret began
to dash her soft shoulder against the strong wall, and to pick the
mortar away with her white fingers, and to cry out for the bricklayer
who had built up the door.

It was midnight, but the bricklayer left his bed in the village, and
obeyed the summons to Hurly Burly. The pale woman stood by and watched
him undo all his work of three days ago, and the servants gathered
about in trembling groups, wondering what was to happen next.

What happened next was this: When an opening was made the man entered
the room with a light, Margaret Calderwood and others following. A
heap of something dark was lying on the ground at the foot of the
organ. Many groans arose in the fatal chamber. Here was little Lisa
dead!

When Mistress Hurly was able to move, the squire and his wife went to
live in France, where they remained till their death. Hurly Burly was
shut up and deserted for many years. Lately it has passed into new
hands. The organ has been taken down and banished, and the room is a
bed-chamber, more luxuriously furnished than any in the house. But no
one sleeps in it twice.

Margaret Calderwood was carried to her grave the other day a very aged woman.



NOT TO BE TAKEN AT BED-TIME

This is the legend of a house called the Devil's Inn, standing in the
heather on the top of the Connemara mountains, in a shallow valley
hollowed between five peaks. Tourists sometimes come in sight of it on
September evenings; a crazy and weather-stained apparition, with the
sun glaring at it angrily between the hills, and striking its
shattered window-panes. Guides are known to shun it, however.

The house was built by a stranger, who came no one knew whence, and
whom the people nicknamed Coll Dhu (Black Coll), because of his sullen
bearing and solitary habits. His dwelling they called the Devil's Inn,
because no tired traveller had ever been asked to rest under its roof,
nor friend known to cross its threshold. No one bore him company in
his retreat but a wizen-faced old man, who shunned the good-morrow of
the trudging peasant when he made occasional excursions to the nearest
village for provisions for himself and master, and who was as secret
as a stone concerning all the antecedents of both.

For the first year of their residence in the country, there had been
much speculation as to who they were, and what they did with
themselves up there among the clouds and eagles. Some said that Coll
Dhu was a scion of the old family from whose hands the surrounding
lands had passed; and that, embittered by poverty and pride, he had
come to bury himself in solitude, and brood over his misfortunes.
Others hinted of crime, and flight from another country; others again
whispered of those who were cursed from birth, and could never smile,
nor yet make friends with a fellow-creature till the day of their
death. But when two years had passed, the wonder had somewhat died
out, and Coll Dhu was little thought of, except when a herd looking
for sheep crossed the track of a big dark man walking the mountains
gun in hand, to whom he did not dare say "Lord save you!" when a
housewife rocking her cradle of a winter's night, crossed herself as
gust of storm thundered over her cabin-roof, with the exclamation,
"Oh, it's Coll Dhu that has enough o' the fresh air about his head up
there us night, the crature!"

Coll Dhu had lived thus in his solitude for some years, when it became
down that Colonel Blake, the new lord of the soil, was coming to visit
the country. By climbing one of the peaks encircling his eyrie, Coll
could look sheer down a mountain-side, and see in miniature beneath
him, a grey old dwelling with ivied chimneys and weather-slated walls,
standing amongst straggling trees and grim warlike rocks, that gave it
the look of a fortress, gazing out to the Atlantic for ever with the
eager eyes of all its windows, as if demanding perpetually, "What
tidings from the New World?"

He could see now masons and carpenters crawling about below, like ants
in the sun, over-running the old house from base to chimney, daubing
here and knocking there, tumbling down walls that looked to Coll, up
among the clouds, like a handful of jack-stones, and building up
others that looked like the toy fences in a child's Farm. Throughout
several months he must have watched the busy ants at their task of
breaking and mending again, disfiguring and beautifying; but when all
was done he had not the curiosity to stride down and admire the
handsome panelling of the new billiard-room, nor yet the fine view
which the enlarged bay-window in the drawing-room commanded of the
watery highway to Newfoundland.

Deep summer was melting into autumn, and the amber streaks of decay
were beginning to creep out and trail over the ripe purple of moor and
mountain, when Colonel Blake, his only daughter, and a party of
friends, arrived in the country. The grey house below was alive with
gaiety, but Coll Dhu no longer found an interest in observing it from
his eyrie. When he watched the sun rise or set, he chose to ascend
some crag that looked on no human habitation. When he sallied forth on
his excursion, gun in hand, he set his face towards the most isolated
wastes, dipping into the loneliest valleys, and scaling the nakedest
ridges. When he came by chance within call of other excursionists, gun
in hand he plunged into the shade of some hollow, and avoided an
encounter. Yet it was fated, for all that, that he and Colonel Blake
should meet.

Toward the evening of one bright September day, the wind changed, and
in half an hour the mountains were wrapped in a thick blinding mist.
Coll Dhu was far from his den, but so well had he searched these
mountains, and inured himself to their climate, that neither storm,
rain, nor fog, had power to disturb him. But while he stalked on his
way, a faint and agonised cry from a human voice reached him through
the smothering mist. He quickly tracked the sound, and gained the side
of a man who was stumbling along in danger of death at every step.

"Follow me!" said Coll Dhu to this man, and, in an hour's time,
brought him safely to the lowlands, and up to the walls of the eager-
eyed mansion.

"I am Colonel Blake," said the frank soldier, when, having left the
fog behind him, they stood in the starlight under the lighted windows.
"Pray tell me quickly to whom I owe my life."

As he spoke, he glanced up at his benefactor, a large man with a
somber sun-burned face.

"Colonel Blake," said Coll Dhu, after a strange pause, "your father
suggested to my father to stake his estates at the gaming table. They
were staked, and the tempter won. Both are dead; but you and I live,
and I have sworn to injure you."

The colonel laughed good humouredly at the uneasy face above him.

"And you began to keep your oath to-night by saving my life?" said he.
"Come! I am a soldier, and know how to meet an enemy; but I had far
rather meet a friend. I shall not be happy till you have eaten my
salt. We have merrymaking to-night in honour of my daughter's
birthday. Come in and join us?"

Coll Dhu looked at the earth doggedly.

"I have told you," he said, "who and what I am, and I will not cross
your threshold."

But at this moment (so runs my story) a French window opened among the
flower-beds by which they were standing, and a vision appeared which
stayed the words on Coll's tongue. A stately girl, clad in white
satin, stood framed in the ivied window, with the warm light from
within streaming around her richly-moulded figure into the night. Her
face was as pale as her gown, her eyes were swimming in tears, but a
firm smile sat on her lips as she held out both hands to her father.
The light behind her, touched the glistening folds of her dress---the
lustrous pearls round her throat--the coronet of blood-red roses which
encircled the knotted braids at the back of her head. Satin, pearls,
and roses--had Coll Dhu, of the Devil's Inn, never set eyes upon such
things before?

Evleen Blake was no nervous tearful miss. A few quick words--"Thank
God! you're safe; the rest have been home an hour"--and a tight
pressure of her father's fingers between her own jewelled hands, were
all that betrayed the uneasiness she had suffered.

"Faith, my love, I owe my life to this brave gentleman!" said the
blithe colonel. "Press him to come in and be our guest, Evleen. He
wants to retreat to his mountains, and lose himself again in the fog
where I found him; or, rather where he found me! Come, sir" (to Coll),
"you must surrender to this fair besieger."

An introduction followed. "Coll Dhu!" murmured Evleen Blake, for she
had heard the common tales of him; but with a frank welcome she
invited her father's preserver to taste the hospitality of that
father's house.

"I beg you to come in, sir," she said; "but for you our gaiety must
have been turned into mourning. A shadow will be upon our mirth if our
benefactor disdains to join in it."

With a sweet grace, mingled with a certain hauteur from which she was
never free, she extended her white hand to the tall looming figure
outside the window; to have it grasped and wrung in a way that made
the proud girl's eyes flash their amazement, and the same little hand
clench itself in displeasure, when it had hid itself like an outraged
thing among the shining folds of her gown. Was this Coll Dhu mad, or
rude?

The guest no longer refused to enter, but followed the white figure
into a little study where a lamp burned; and the gloomy stranger, the
bluff colonel, and the young mistress of the house, were fully
discovered to each other's eyes. Evleen glanced at the newcomer's dark
face, and shuddered with a feeling of indescribable dread and dislike;
then, to her father, accounted for the shudder after a popular
fashion, saying lightly: "There is someone walking over my grave."

So Coll Dhu was present at Evleen Blake's birthday ball. Here he was,
under a roof which ought to have been his own, a stranger, known only
by a nickname, shunned and solitary. Here he was, who had lived among
the eagles and foxes, lying in wait with a fell purpose, to be
revenged on the son of his father's foe for poverty and disgrace, for
the broken heart of a dead mother, for the loss of a self-slaughtered
father, for the dreary scattering of brothers and sisters.

Here he stood, a Samson shorn of his strength; and all because a
haughty girl had melting eyes, a winning mouth, and looked radiant in
satin and roses.

Peerless where many were lovely, she moved among her friends, trying
to be unconscious of the gloomy fire of those strange eyes which
followed her unweariedly wherever she went. And when her father begged
her to be gracious to the unsocial guest whom he would fain
conciliate, she courteously conducted him to see the new picture-
gallery adjoining the drawing-rooms; explained under what odd
circumstances the colonel had picked up this little painting or that;
using every delicate art her pride would allow to achieve her father's
purpose, whilst maintaining at the same time her own personal reserve;
trying to divert the guest's oppressive attention from herself to the
objects for which she claimed her notice. Coll Dhu followed his
conductress and listened to her voice, but what she said mattered
nothing; nor did she wring many words of comment or reply from his
lips, until they paused in a retired corner where the light was dim,
before a window from which the curtain was withdrawn. The sashes were
open, and nothing was visible but water; the night Atlantic, with the
full moon riding high above a bank of clouds, making silvery tracks
outward towards the distance of infinite mystery dividing two worlds.
Here the following little scene is said to have been enacted.

"This window of my father's own planning, is it not creditable to his
taste?" said the young hostess, as she stood, herself glittering like
a dream of beauty, looking on the moonlight.

Coll Dhu made no answer; but suddenly, it is said, asked her for a
rose from a cluster of flowers that nestled in the lace on her bosom.

For the second time that night Evleen Blake's eyes flashed with no
gentle light. But this man was the saviour of her father. She broke
off a blossom, and with such good grace, and also with such queen-like
dignity as she might assume, presented it to him. Whereupon, not only
was the rose seized, but also the hand that gave it, which was hastily
covered with kisses.

Then her anger burst upon him.

"Sir," she cried, "if you are a gentleman you must be mad! If you are
not mad, then you are not a gentleman!"

"Be merciful" said Coll Dhu; "I love you. My God, I never loved a
woman before! Ah!" he cried, as a look of disgust crept over her face,
"You hate me. You shuddered the first time your eyes met mine. I love
you, and you hate me!"

"I do," cried Evleen, vehemently, forgetting everything but her
indignation. "Your presence is like something evil to me. Love me?--
your looks poison me. Pray, sir, talk no more to me in this strain."

"I will trouble you no longer," said Coll Dhu. And, stalking to the
window, he placed one powerful hand upon the sash, and vaulted from it
out of her sight.

Bare-headed as he was, Coll Dhu strode off to the mountains, but not
towards his own home.

All the remaining dark hours of that night he is believed to have
walked the labyrinths of the hills, until dawn began to scatter the
clouds with a high wind. Fasting, and on foot from sunrise the morning
before, he was then glad enough to see a cabin right in his way.
Walking in, he asked for water to drink, and a corner where he might
throw himself to rest.

There was a wake in the house, and the kitchen was full of people, all
wearied out with the night's watch; old men were dozing over their
pipes in the chimney-corner, and here and there a woman was fast
asleep with her head on a neighbour's knee. All who were awake crossed
themselves when Coll Dhu's figure darkened the door, because of his
evil name; but an old man of the house invited him in, and offering
him milk, and promising him a roasted potato by-and-by, conducted him
to a small room off the kitchen, one end of which was strewed with
heather, and where there were only two women sitting gossiping over a
fire.

"A traveller," said the old man, nodding his head at the women, who
nodded back, as if to say "he has the traveller's right." And Coll Dhu
flung himself on the heather, in the furthest corner of the narrow
room.

The women suspended their talk for a while; but presently, guessing
the intruder to be asleep, resumed it in voices above a whisper. There
was but a patch of window with the grey dawn behind it, but Coll could
see the figures by the firelight over which they bent: an old woman
sitting forward with her withered hands extended to the embers, and a
girl reclining against the hearth wall, with her healthy face, bright
eyes, and crimson draperies, glowing by turns in the flickering blaze.

"I do' know," said the girl, "but it's the quarest marriage iver I
h'ard of. Sure it's not three weeks since he tould right an' left that
he hated her like poison!"

"Whist, asthoreen!" said the colliagh, bending forward confidentially:
"throth an' we all known that o' him. But what could he do, the
crature! When she put the burragh-bos on him!"

"The what?" asked the girl.

"Then the burragh-bos machree-o? That's the spanchel o' death,
avourneen; an' well she has him tethered to her now, bad luck to her!"

The old woman rocked herself and stilled the Irish cry breaking from
her wrinkled lips by burying her face in her cloak.

"But what is it?" asked the girl, eagerly. "What's the burragh-bos,
anyways, an where did she get it?"

"Och, och! it's not fit for comm' over to young ears, but cuggir
(whisper), acushla! It's a sthrip o' the skin o' a corpse, peeled from
the crown o' the head to the heel, without crack or split, or the
charm's broke; an' that, rowled up, an' put on a sthring roun' the
neck o' the wan that's cowld by the wan that wants to be loved. An'
sure enough it puts the fire in their hearts, hot an' sthrong, afore
twinty-four hours is gone."

The girl had started from her lazy attitude, and gazed at her
companion with eyes dilated by horror.

"Marciful Saviour!" she cried. "Not a sowl on airth would bring the
curse out o' heaven by sich a black doin'!"

"Aisy, Biddeen alanna! an' there's wan that does it, an' isn't the
divil. Arrah, asthoreen, did ye niver hear tell o' Pexie na Pishrogie,
that lives betune two hills o' Maam Turk?"

"I h'ard o' her," said the girl, breathlessly.

"Well, sorra bit lie, but it's hersel' that does it. She'll do it for
money any day. Sure they hunted her from the graveyard o' Salruck,
where she had the dead raised; an' glory be to God! they would ha'
murthered her, only they missed her thracks, an' couldn't bring it
home to her afther."

"Whist, a-wauher" (my mother), said the girl; "here's the thraveller
getting' up to set off on his road again! Och, then, it's the short
rest he tuk, the sowl!"

It was enough for Coll, however. He had got up, and now went back to
the kitchen, where the old man had caused a dish of potatoes to be
roasted, and earnestly pressed his visitor to sit down and eat of
them. This Coll did readily; having recruited his strength by a meal,
he betook himself to the mountains again, just as the rising sun was
flashing among the waterfalls, and sending the night mists drifting
down the glens. By sundown the same evening he was striding over the
hills of Maam Turk, asking of herds his way to the cabin of one Pexie
na Pishrogie.

In a hovel on a brown desolate heath, with scared-looking hills flying
off into the distance on every side, he found Pexie: a yellow-faced
hag, dressed in a dark-red blanket, with elf-locks of coarse black
hair protruding from under an orange kerchief swathed round her
wrinkled jaws.

She was bending over a pot upon her fire, where herbs were simmering,
and she looked up with an evil glance when Col Dhu darkened her door.

"The burragh-bos is it her honour wants?" she asked, when he had made
known his errand.

"Ay, ay; but the arighad, the arighad (money) for Pexie. The burragh-
bos is ill to get."

"I will pay," said Coll Dhu, laying a sovereign on the bench before
her.

The witch sprang upon it, and chuckling, bestowed on her visitor a
glance which made even Coll Dhu shudder.

"Her honour is a fine king," she said, "an' her is fit to get the
burragh-bos. Ha! ha! her sall get the burragh-bos from Pexie. But the
arighad is not enough. More, more!"

She stretched out her claw-like hand, and Coll dropped another
sovereign into it. Whereupon she fell into more horrible convulsions
of delight.

"Hark ye!" cried Coll. "I have paid you well, but if your infernal
charm does not work, I will have you hunted for a witch!"

"Work!" cried Pexie, rolling up her eyes. "If Pexie's charrm not work,
then her honour come back here an' carry these bits o' mountain away
on her back. Ay, her will work. If the colleen hate her honour like
the old diaoul hersel', still an' withal her love will love her honour
like her own white sowl afore the sun sets or rises. That, (with a
furtive leer,) or the colleen dhas go wild mad afore wan hour."

"Hag!" returned Coll Dhu; "the last part is a hellish invention of
your own. I heard nothing of madness. If you want more money, speak
out, but play none of your hideous tricks on me."

The witch fixed her cunning eyes on him, and took her cue at once from
his passion.

"Her honour guess thrue," she simpered; "it is only the little bit
more arighad poor Pexie want."

Again the skinny hand was extended. Coll Dhu shrank from touching it,
and threw his gold upon the table.

"King, king!" chuckled Pexie. "Her honour is a grand king. Her honour
is fit to get the buragh-bos. The colleen dhas sail love her like her
own white sowl. Ha, ha!"

"When shall I get it?" asked Coll Dhu, impatiently.

"Her honour sall come back to Pexie in so many days, do-deag (twelve),
so many days, fur that the burragh-bos is hard to get. The lonely
graveyard is far away, an' dead man is hard to raise--"

"Silence!" cried Coll Dhu; "not a word more. I will have your hideous
charm, but what it is, or where you get it, I will not know."

Then, promising to come back in twelve days, he took his departure.
Turning to look back when a little way across the heath, he saw Pexie
gazing after him, standing on her black hill in relief against the
lurid flames of the dawn, seeming to his dark imagination like a fury
with all hell at her back.

At the appointed time Coll Dhu got the promised charm. He sewed it
with perfumes into a cover of cloth of gold, and slung it to a fine-
wrought chain. Lying in a casket which had once held the jewels of
Coll's broken-hearted mother, it looked a glittering bauble enough.
Meantime the people of the mountains were cursing over their cabin
fires, because there had been another unholy raid upon their
graveyard, and were banding themselves to hunt the criminal down.

A fortnight passed. How or where could Coll Dhu find an opportunity to
put the charm round the neck of the colonel's proud daughter? More
gold was dropped into Pexie's greedy claw, and then she promised to
assist him in his dilemma.

Next morning the witch dressed herself in decent garb, smoothed her
elf-locks under a snowy cap, smoothed the evil wrinkles out of her
face, and with a basket on her arm locked the door of the hovel, and
took her way to the lowlands. Pexie seemed to have given up her
disreputable calling for that of a simple mushroom-gatherer. The
housekeeper at the grey house bought poor Muireade's mushrooms of her
every morning. Every morning she left unfailingly a nosegay of wild
flowers for Miss Evleen Blake, "God bless her! She had never seen the
darling young lady with her own two longing eyes, but sure hadn't she
heard tell of her sweet purty face, miles away!" And at last, one
morning, whom should she meet but Miss Evleen herself returning along
from a ramble. Whereupon poor Muireade "made bold" to present her
flowers in person.

"Ah," said Evleen, "it is you who leave me the flowers every morning?
They are very sweet."

Muireade had sought her only for a look at her beautiful face. And now
that she had seen it, as bright as the sun, and as fair as the lily,
she would take up her basket and go away contented.

Yet she lingered a little longer.

"My lady never walk up big mountain?" said Pexie.

"No," said Evleen, laughing; she feared she could not walk up a
mountain.

"Ah yes; my lady ought to go, with more gran' ladies an' gentlemen,
ridin' on purty little donkeys, up the big mountains. Oh, gran' things
up big mountains for my lady to see!"

Thus she set to work, and kept her listener enchained for an hour,
while she related wonderful stories of those upper regions. And as
Evleen looked up to the burly crowns of the hills, perhaps she thought
there might be sense in this wild old woman's suggestion. It ought to
be a grand world up yonder.

Be that as it may, it was not long after this when Coll Dhu got notice
that a party from the grey house would explore the mountains next day;
that Evleen Blake would be one of the number; and that he, Coll, must
prepare to house and refresh a crowd of weary people, who in the
evening should be brought, hungry and faint, to his door. The simple
mushroom gatherer should be discovered laying in her humble stock
among the green places between the hills, should volunteer to act as
guide to the party, should lead them far out of their way through the
mountains and up and down the most toilsome ascents and across
dangerous places; to escape safely from which, the servants should be
told to throw away the baskets of provision which they carried.

Coll Dhu was not idle. Such a feast was set forth, as had never been
spread so near the clouds before. We are told of wonderful dishes
furnished by unwholesome agency, and from a place believed much hotter
than is necessary for purposes of cookery. We are told also how Coll
Dhu's barren chambers were suddenly hung with curtains of velvet, and
with fringes of gold; how the blank white walls glowed with delicate
colours and gilding; how gems of pictures sprang into sight between
the panels; how the tables blazed with plate and gold, and glittered
with the rarest glass; how such wines flowed, as the guests had never
tasted; how servants in the richest livery, amongst whom the wizen-
faced old man was a mere nonentity, appeared, and stood ready to carry
in the wonderful dishes, at whose extraordinary fragrance the eagles
came pecking to the windows, and the foxes drew near the walls,
snuffing. Sure enough, in all good time, the weary party came within
sight of the Devil's Inn, and Coll Dhu sallied forth to invite them
across his lonely threshold. Colonel Blake (to whom Evleen, in her
delicacy, had said no word of the solitary's strange behaviour to
herself) hailed his appearance with delight, and the whole party sat
down to Coll's banquet in high good humour. Also, it is said, in much
amazement at the magnificence of the mountain recluse.

All went in to Coll's feast, save Evleen Blake, who remained standing
on the threshold of the outer door; weary, but unwilling to rest
there; hungry, but unwilling to eat there. Her white cambric dress was
gathered on her arms, crushed and sullied with the toils of the day;
her bright cheek was a little sunburned; her small dark head with its
braids a little tossed, was bared to the mountain air and the glory of
the sinking sun; her hands were loosely tangled in the strings of her
hat; and her foot sometimes tapped the threshold-stone. So she was
seen.

The peasants tell that Coll Dhu and her father came praying her to
enter, and that the magnificent servants brought viands to the
threshold; but no step would she move inward, no morsel would she
taste.

"Poison, poison!" she murmured, and threw the food in handfuls to the
foxes, who were snuffing on the heath.

But it was different when Muireade, the kindly old woman, the simple
mushroom gatherer, with all the wicked wrinkles smoothed out of her
face, came to the side of the hungry girl, and coaxingly presented a
savoury mess of her own sweet mushrooms, served on a common earthen
platter.

"An' darlin', my lady, poor Muireade her cook them hersel', an' no
thing o' this house touch them or look at poor Muireade's mushrooms."

Then Evleen took the platter and ate a delicious meal. Scarcely was it
finished when a heavy drowsiness fell upon her, and, unable to sustain
herself on her feet, she presently sat down upon the door-stone.
Leaning her head against the framework of the door, she was soon in a
deep sleep, or trance. So she was found.

"Whimsical, obstinate little girl!" said the colonel, putting his hand
on the beautiful slumbering head. And taking her in his arms, he
carried her into a chamber which had been (say the story-tellers)
nothing but a bare and sorry closet in the morning but which was now
fitted up with Oriental splendour. And here on a luxurious couch she
was laid, with a crimson coverlet wrapping her feet. And here in the
tempered light coming through jewelled glass, where yesterday had been
a coarse rough-hung window, her father looked his last upon her lovely
face.

The colonel returned to his host and friends, and by-and-by the whole
party sallied forth to see the after-glare of a fierce sunset swathing
the hills in flames. It was not until they had gone some distance that
Coll Dhu remembered to go back and fetch his telescope. He was not
long absent. But he was absent long enough to enter that glowing
chamber with a stealthy step, to throw a light chain around the neck
of the sleeping girl, and to slip among the folds of her dress the
hideous glittering burragh-bos.

After he had gone away again, Pexie came stealing to the door, and,
opening it a little, sat down on the mat outside, with her cloak
wrapped round her. An hour passed, and Evleen Blake still slept, her
breathing scarcely stirring the deadly bauble on her breast. After
that, she began to murmur and moan, and Pexie pricked up her ears.
Presently a sound in the room told that the victim was awake and had
risen. Then Pexie put her face to the aperture of the door and looked
in, gave a howl of dismay, and fled from the house, to be seen in that
country no more.

The light was fading among the hills, and the ramblers were returning
towards the Devil's Inn, when a group of ladies who were considerably
in advance of the rest, met Evleen Blake advancing towards them on the
heath, with her hair disordered as by sleep, and no covering on her
head. They noticed something bright, like gold, shifting and glancing
with the motion of her figure. There had been some jesting among them
about Evleen's fancy for falling asleep on the door-step instead of
coming in to dinner, and they advanced laughing, to rally her on the
subject.

But she stared at them in a strange way, as if she did not know them,
and passed on. Her friends were rather offended, and commented on her
fantastic humour; only one looked after her, and got laughed at by her
companions for expressing uneasiness on the wilful young lady's
account.

So they kept their way, and the solitary figure went fluttering on,
the white robe blushing, and the fatal burragh-bos glittering in the
reflexion from the sky. A hare crossed her path, and she laughed out
loudly, and clapping her hands, sprang after it. Then she stopped and
asked questions of the stones, striking them with her open palm
because they would not answer. (An amazed little herd sitting behind a
rock, witnessed these strange proceedings.) By-and-by she began to
call after the birds, in a wild shrill way startling the echoes of the
hills as she went along. A party of gentlemen returning by a dangerous
path, heard the unusual sound and stopped to listen.

"What is that?" asked one.

"A young eagle," said Coll Dhu, whose face had become livid; "they
often give such cries."

"It was uncommonly like a woman's voice!" was the reply; and
immediately another wild note rang towards them from the rocks above:
a bare saw-like ridge, shelving away to some distance ahead, and
projecting one hungry tooth over an abyss. A few more moments and they
saw Evleen Blake's light figure fluttering out towards this dizzy
point.

"My Evleen!" cried the colonel, recognising his daughter, "she is mad
to venture on such a spot!"

"Mad!" repeated Coll Dhu. And then dashed off to the rescue with all
the might and swiftness of his powerful limbs.

When he drew near her, Evleen had almost reached the verge of the
terrible rock. Very cautiously he approached her, his object being to
seize her in his strong arms before she was aware of his presence, and
carry her many yards away from the spot of danger. But in a fatal
moment Evleen turned her head and saw him. One wild ringing cry of
hate and horror, which startled the very eagles and scattered a flight
of curlews above her head, broke from her lips. A step backward
brought her within a foot of death.

One desperate though wary stride, and she was struggling in Coll's
embrace. One glance in her eyes, and he saw that he was striving with
a mad woman. Back, back, she dragged him, and he had nothing to grasp
by. The rock was slippery and his shod feet would not cling to it.
Back, back! A hoarse panting, a dire swinging to and fro; and then the
rock was standing naked against the sky, no one was there, and Coll
Dhu and Evleen Blake lay shattered far below.



THE END



This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia