« PreviousContinue »
happy? None so little lonesome as angry sky. As she kept gazing, it bethey! They come to make friends o came still more terrible. The last all the bonny and sweet things in the shred of blue was extinguished-the world around them, and all the kind wind went whirling in roaring eddies, hearts in the world make friends o' and great flakes of snow circled about them. They come to know that God in the middle air, whether drifted up is more especially the father o' them from the ground, or driven down from on earth whose parents he has taken the clouds, the fear-stricken mother up to heaven--and therefore it is knew not, but she at least knew, that that they for whom so many have it seemed a night of danger, despair, fears, fear not at all for themselves, and death. “ Lord have mercy on us, but go dancing and singing along like James, what will become of our poor children whose parents are both alive! bairn!" But her husband heard not Would it not be so with our dear her words, for he was already out of Hannah? So douce and thoughtful sight in the snow-storm, and she was a child—but never sad nor miserable left to the terror of her own soul in -ready it is true to shed tears for that lonesome cottage. little, but as ready to dry them up and Little Hannah Lee had left her break out into smiles ! I know not master's house, soon as the rim of the why it is, husband, but this night great moon was seen by her eyes, that my heart warms toward her beyond had been long anxiously watching it usual. The moon and stars are at from the window, rising, like a joyful this moment looking down upon her, dream, over the gloomy mountain-tops; and she looking up to them, as she and all by herself she tripped along beis glinting homewards over the snow. neath the beauty of the silent heaven. I wish she were but here, and taking Still as she kept ascending and descendthe comb out o' her bonny hair and ing the knolls that lay in the bosom of letting it all fall down in clusters the glen, she sung to herself a song, a before the fire, to melt away the cran- hymn, or a psalm, without the accomreuch !"
paniment of the streams, now all silent While the parents were thus speak in the frost; and ever and anon she ing of their daughter, a loud sugh of stopped to try to count the stars that wind came suddenly over the cottage, lay in some more beautiful part of the and the leafless ash-tree under whose sky, or gazed on the constellations that shelter it stood, creaked and groaned she knew, and called them, in her joy, dismally as it passed by. The father by the names they bore among the started up, and going again to the door, shepherds. There were none to hear saw that a sudden change had come her voice, or see her smiles, but the ear over the face of the night. The moon and eye of providence. As on she had nearly disappeared, and was just glided, and took her looks from heaven, visible in a dim, yellow, glimmering she saw her own little fireside-her den in the sky. All the remote stars parents waiting for her arrival-the were obscured, and only one or two bible opened for worship-her own faintly seemed in a sky that half-an- little room kept so neatly for her, with hour before was perfectly cloudless, its mirror hanging by the window, in but that was now driving with rack, which to braid her hair by the mornand mist, and sleet, the whole atmos- ing light-her bed prepared for her phere being in commotion. He stood by her mother's hand—ihe primroses for a single moment to observe the di- in her garden peeping through the rection of this unforeseen storm, and snow-old Tray, who ever welcomed then hastily asked for his staff.“I her home with his dim white eyes thought I'had been more weather, the poney and the cow ;-friends all, wise-A storm is coming down from and inmates of that happy household. the Cairnbrae-hawse, and we shall have So stepped she along, while the snownothing but a wild night.” He then diamonds glittered around her feet, whistled on his dog -an old sheep- and the frost wove a wreath of lucid dog, too old for its former labours- pearls around her forehead. and set off to meet his daughter, who She had now reached the edge of might then, for ought he knew, be the Black-moss, which lay half way crossing the Black-moss. The mother between her master's and her father's accompanied her husband to the door, dwelling, when she heard a loud noise and took a long frightened look at the coming down Glen-Scrae, and in a few
seconds she felt on her face some flakes in some quiet nook among the pastoral of snow. She looked up the glen, and hills. But now there was to be an saw the snow-storm coming down, fast end of all this,--she was to be frozen as a flood. She felt no fears; but she to death-and lie there till the thaw ceased her song; and had there been might come; and then her father a human eye to look upon ber there, would find her body, and carry it it might have seen a shadow on her away to be buried in the kirk-yard. face. She continued her course, and The tears were frozen on her cheeks felt bolder and bolder every step that as soon as shed,—and scarcely had her brought her nearer to her parents' little hands strength to clasp themhouse. But the snow-storm had now selves together, as the thought of an reached the Black-moss, and the broad over-ruling and merciful Lord came line of light that had lain in the direc- across her heart. Then, indeed, the tion of her home, was soon swallowed fears of this religious child were calmup, and the child was in utter dark- ed, and she heard without terror the ness. She saw nothing but the flakes plover's wailing cry, and the deep boom of snow, interminably intermingled, of the bittern sounding in the moss. and furiously wafted in the air, close I will repeat the Lord's Prayer." to her head; she heard nothing but And drawing her plaid more closely one wild, fierce, fitful howl. Thé around her, she whispered, beneath its cold became intense, and her little feet ineffectual cover; “Our father which and hands were fast being benumbed art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, into insensibility.
--thy kingdom come,-thy will be “ It is a fearful change," muttered done on earth as it is in heaven.” Had the child to herself, but still she did human aid been within fifty yards, it not fear, for she had been born in a could have been of no avail-eye could moorland cottage, and lived all her not see her-ear could not hear her in days among the hardships of the hills. that howling darkness. But that low " What will become of the poor prayer was heard in the centre of etersheep,” thought she,-- but still she nity,--and that little sinless child was scarcely thought of her own danger, lying in the snow, beneath the all-seefor innocence, and youth, and joy, are ing eye of God. slow to think of aught evil befalling The maiden having prayed to her themselves, and thinking benignly of Father in Heaven-then thought of all living things, forget their own fear her father on earth. Alas! they were in their pity of others' sorrow. At last, not far separated! The father was she could no longer discern a single lying but a short distance from his mark on the snow, either of human child ;-he too had sunk down in the steps, or of sheep-track, or the foot- drifting snow, after having, in less print of a wild-fowl. Suddenly, too, than an hour, exhausted all the. she felt out of breath and exhausted, strength of fear, pity, hope, despair, and shedding tears for herself at last, and resignation, that could rise in sank down in the snow.
father's heart blindly seeking to rescue It was now that her heart began to his only child from death, thinking quake with fear. She remembered that one desperate exertion might stories of shepherds lost in the snow,- enable them to perish in each other's of a mother and child frozen to death arms. There they lay, within a stone's on that very moor,--and, in a mo- throw of each other, while a huge ment, she knew that she was to die. snow-drift was every moment piling Bitterly did the poor child weep, for itself up into a more insurmountable death was terrible to her, who, though barrier between the dying parent and poor, enjoyed the bright little world his dying child. of youth and innocence. The skies of There was all this while a blazing heaven were dearer than she knew to fire in the cottage white spread her,- were the flowers of earth. table and beds prepared for the faShe had been happy at her work, mily to lie down in peace. Yet was happy in her sleep,---happy in the kirk she who sat therein more to be pitied on Sabbath. A thousand thoughts than the old man and the child stretchhad the solitary child,--and in her own ed upon the snow. " I will not go to heart was a spring of happiness, pure seek them—that would be tempting and undisturbed as any fount that providence and wilfully putting out sparkles unseen all the year through the lamp of life. No! I will abide
here, and pray for their souls !" Then, friendship, for which he had been glad as she knelt down, looked she at the of an excuse. Death stared him in useless fire burning away so cheerfully, the face, and his young soul, now bewhen all she loved might be dying of ginning to feel all the passions of youth, cold-and unable to bear the thought, was filled with phrenzy. He had seen sheshrieked out a prayer, as if she might Hannah every day at the fireside pierce the sky up to the very throne at work in the kirk-on holidays-at of God, and send with it her own mi- prayers-bringing supper to his aged serable soul to plead before him for parents-smiling and singing about the deliverance of her child and hus- the house from morning till night. band. She then fell down in blessed She had often brought his own meal to forgetfulness of all trouble, in the him among the hills—and he now found midst of the solitary cheerfulness of that though he had never talked to her that bright-burning hearth-and the about love, except smilingly and playbible, which she had been trying to fully, that he loved her beyond father read in the pauses of her agony, re- or mother or his own soul. “ I will mained clasped in her hands.
save thee, Hannah,” he cried with a Hannah Lee had been a servant for loud sob, “or lie down beside thee more than six months and it was not in the snow and we will die together to be thought that she was not beloved in our youth.” A wild whistling wind in her master's family. Soon after she went by him, and the snow-flakes had left the house, her master's son, whirled so fiercely round his head, that a youth of about eighteen years, who he staggered on for a while in utter had been among the hills looking after blindness. He knew the path that the sheep, came home, and was disap- Hannah must have taken, and went pointed to find that he had lost an forwards shouting aloud, and stopping opportunity of accompanying Hannah every twenty yards to listen for å part of the way to her father's cottage. voice. He sent his well-trained dogs But the hour of eight had gone bý, over the snow in all directions-rea and not even the company of young peating to them her name, “ HanWilliam Grieve could induce the
kind- nah Lee," that the dumb animals hearted daughter to delay setting out might, in their sagacity, know for on her journey a few minutes beyond whom they were searching; and as the time promised to her parents. “I they looked up in his face, and set do not like the night," said William- off to scour the moor, he almost be“there will be a fresh fall of snow soon, lieved that they knew his meaning or the witch of Glen Scrae is a liar, (and it is probable they did) and for a snow cloud is hanging o'er the were eager to find in her bewilderBirch-tree-linn, and it may be down ment the kind maiden by whose hand to the Black-moss as soon as Hannah they had so often been fed. Often Lee.” So he called his two sheep- went they off into the darkness, and dogs that had taken their place under as often returned, but their looks the long-table before the window, and shewed that every quest had been in set out, half in joy, half in fear, to vain. Meanwhile the snow was of a overtake Hannah, and see her safely fearful depth, and falling without inacross the Black-moss.
termission or diminution. Had the The snow began to drift so fast, young shepherd been thus alone, that before he had reached the head of walking across the moor on his ordi. the glen, there was nothing to be seen nary business, it is probable that he but a little bit of the wooden rail might have been alarmed for his own of the bridge across the Sauch-burn. safety-nay that, in spite of all his William Grieve was the most active strength and agility, he might have shepherd in a large pastoral parish, sunk down beneath the inclemency of he had often past the night among the the night and perished. But now the wintry hills for the sake of a few the passion of his soul carried him sheep, and all the snow that ever fell with supernatural strength along, and from heaven would not have made extricated him from wreath and pitfal, him turn back when Hannah Lee was Still there was no trace of poor Hanbefore him; and as his terrified heart nah Lee and one of his dogs at last told him, in eminent danger of being came close to his feet, worn out énlost.-As he advanced, he felt that tirely, and afraid to leave its master it was no longer a walk of love or while the other was mute, and, as
the shepherd thought, probably una- and lifting the cold corpse in his arms, ble to force its way out of some hol- he kissed her lips, and her cheeks, and low or through some floundering her forehead, and her closed eyes, till, drift. Then he all at once knew that as he kept gazing on her face in utter Hannah Lee was dead—and dashed despair, her head fell back on his shoul. himself down in the snow in a fit of der, and a long deep sigh came from passion. It was the first time that her inmost bosom.
is She is yet alive, the youth had ever been sorely tried thank God !”—and as that expression -all his hidden and unconscious love left his lips for the first time that for the fair lost girl had flowed up night, he felt a pang, of remorse : from the bottom of his heart-and at I said, O God, that thou hadst foronce the sole object which had blessed saken us—I am not worthy to be sav. his life and made him the happiest of ed; but let not this maiden perish, for the happy, was taken away and cruelly the sake of her parents, who have no destroyed so that sullen, wrathful, other child.". The distracted youth baffled, and despairing, there he lay prayed to God with the same earnestcursing his existence, and in too great ness as if he had been beseeching a agony to think of prayer. “ God," fellow-creature, in whose hand was the he then thought, " has forsaken me power of life and of death. The preand why should he think on me, when sence of the Great Being was felt by he suffers one so good and beautiful as him in the dark and howling wild, and Hannah to be frozen to death.” God strength was imparted to him as to a thought both of him and Hannah- deliverer. He bore along the fair and through his infinite mercy forgave child in his arms, even as if she had the sinner in his wild turbulence of been a lamb. The snow-drift blew passion. William Grieve had never not the wind fell dead a sort of gone to bed without joining in prayer glimmer, like that of an upbreaking -and he revered the Sabbath-day and and disparting storm, gathered about kept it holy. Much is forgiven to him-his dogs barked, and jumped, the human heart by him who so fear- and burrowed joyfully in the snowfully framed it; and God is not slow and the youth, strong in sudden hope, to pardon the love which one human exclaimed, “ With the blessing of being bears to another, in his frailty God, who has not deserted us in our -even though that love forget or ar- sore distress, will I carry thee, Hanraign his own unsleeping providence. nah, in my arms, and lay thee down His voice has told us to love one ano- alive in the house of thy father.” At ther--and William loved Hannah in this moment there were no stars simplicity, innocence, and truth. That in heaven, but she opened her dim she should perish was a thought so blue eyes upon him in whose bosom dreadful, that, in its agony, God she was unconsciously lying, and said, seemed a ruthless being" blow- as in a dream, “ Send the ribbon that blow-blow-and drift us up for ever ties up my hair, as a keepsake to Wil-we cannot be far asunder--O Han- liam Grieve.” “ She thinks that she is nah-Hannah-think ye not that the on her death-bed, and forgets not the son fearful God has forsaken us?”.
of her master. It is the voice of God As the boy groaned these words that tells me she will not now die, and passionately through his quivering that, under His grace, I shall be her lips, there was a sudden lowness in deliverer.' the air, and he heard the barking of The short-lived rage of the storm his absent dog, while the one at his was soon over, and William could atfeet hurried off in the direction of the tend to the beloved being on his bosound, and soon loudly joined the som. The warmth of his heart seem. cry. It was not a bark of surprise ed to infuse life into her's; and as he or anger-or fear-but of recognition gently placed her feet on the snow, till and love. William sprung up from he muffed her up in his plaid, as well as his bed in the snow, and with his in her own, she made an effort to stand, heart knocking at his bosom even to and with extreme perplexity and be sickness, he rushed headlong through wilderment faintly inquired, where the drifts, with a giant's strength, and she was, and what fearful catastrophe fell down half dead with joy and ter- had befallen them? She was, howror beside the body of Hannah Lee. ever, too weak to walk; and as her
But he soon recovered from that fit, young master carried her along, she
murmured, “ O William ! what if my laughing between, like persons who father be in the moor?--For if you had known neither danger nor distress. who need care so little about me, have No voice answered from withincome hither, as I suppose, to save my no footstep came to the door, which life, you may be sure that my father stood open as when the father had sat not within doors during the left it in his fear, and now he thought storm." As she spoke it was calm with affright that his wife, feeble as she below, but the wind was still alive in was, had been unable to support the the upper air, and cloud, rack, mist, loneliness, and had followed him out and sleet, were all driving about in the into the night, never to be brought sky. Out shone for a moment the home alive. As they bore Hannah pallid and ghostly moon, through a into the house, this fear gave way to rent in the gloom, and by that uncer- worse, for there upon the hard clay tain light, came staggering forward floor lay the mother upon her face, the figure of a man. « Father-Fa- as if murdered by some savage blow. ther," cried Hannah-and his gray She was in the same deadly swoon hairs were already on her cheek. The into which she had fallen on her husbarking of the dogs and the shouting band's departure three hours before. of the young shepherd had struck his The old man raised her up, and her ear, as the sleep of death was stealing pulse was still—so was her heartover him, and with the last effort of her face pale and sunken—and her benumbed nature, he had roused him- body cold as ice. “ I have recovered self from that fatal torpor, and prest a daughter," said the old man, through the snow-wreath that had I have lost a wife;" and he carried separated him from his child. As yet her, with a groan, to the bed, on they knew not of the danger each had which he laid her lifeless body. The endured, but each judged of the o- sight was too much for Hannah, worn ther's suffering from their own, and out as she was, and who had hitherto father and daughter regarded one ano- been able to support herself in the dether as creatures rescued, and hardly lightful expectation of gladdening her yet rescued, from death.
mother's heart by her safe arrival. But a few minutes ago, and the She, too, now swooned away, and, as three human beings who loved each she was placed on the bed beside her other so well, and now feared not to mother, it seemed, indeed, that death, cross the Moor in safety, were, as they disappointed of his prey on the wild thought, on their death-beds. Deliv- moor, had seized it in the cottage, and erance now shone upon them all like by the fireside. The husband knelt a gentle fire, dispelling that pleasant down by the bed-side, and held his but deadly drowsiness; and the old wife's icy hand in his, while William man was soon able to assist William Grieve, appalled and awe-stricken, Grieve in leading Hannah along hung over his Hannah, and inwardly through the snow. Her colour and implored God that the night's wild her warmth returned, and her lover adventure might not have so ghastly for so might he well now be called — an end. But Hannah's young heart felt her heart gently beating against soon began once more to beat and his side. Filled as that heart was soon as she came to her recollection, with gratitude to God, joy in her de- she rose up with a face whiter than liverance, love to her father, and ashes and free from all smiles, as if purest affection for her master's son, none had ever played there, and joinnever before had the innocent maiden ed her father and young master in known what was happiness and never their efforts to restore her mother to more was she to forget it. The night life. was now almost calm, and fast return- It was the mercy of God that had ing to its former beauty-when the struck her down to the earth, insensiparty saw the first twinkle of the
fire ble to the shrieking winds, and the through the low window of the Cot- fears that would otherwise have killed tage of the Moor. They soon were her. Three hours of that wild storm at the garden gate and to relieve the had passed over her head, and she heart of the wife and mother within, heard nothing more than if she had they talked loudly and cheerfully been asleep in a breathless night of naming each other familiarly, and the summer dew. Not even a dream VOL. VII.