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distracted soul asked for a minute more ere he made his choice.
'He was in an awful strait: on the one hand, how could he remain himself? on the other, how doom another to such fearful torments ? Who could he send? Who would come? And then suddenly there flashed through his mind the mind the thought of an old man to whom it could not signify much whether he took up his abode in this place a few days sooner or a few days later. He was travelling to it as fast as he knew how; he was the reprobate of the parish; the sinner without hope successive ministers had striven in vain to reclaim from the error of his ways; a man marked and doomed; Sandy the Tinker; Sandy, who was mostly drunk, and always godless; Sandy, who, it was said, believed in nothing, and gloried in his infidelity; Sandy, whose soul really did not signify much. He would send him. Lifting his eyes, he saw those of his tormentor surveying him scornfully.
"Well, have you made your choice?" he asked.
"Yes; I think I can send a substitute," was the hesitating an
"See you do, then," was the reply; "for if you do not, and fail to return yourself, I shall come for you. Wednesday, remember, before midnight;" and with these words ringing in his ears he was flung violently through the rock, and found himself in the middle of his bedroom floor, as if he had just been kicked there.'
'That is not the end of the story, is it?' asked one of our party, as the minister came to a full stop, and looked earnestly at the fire.
'No,' he answered, it is not the end; but before proceeding I must ask you to bear carefully in mind the circumstances already
recounted. the date mentioned-Wednesday next, before midnight.
'Whatever I thought, and you may think, about my friend's dream, it made the most remarkable impression upon his mind. He could not shake off its influence; he passed from one state of nervousness to another. It was in vain I entreated him to exert his common sense and call all his strength of mind to his assistance. I might as well have spoken to the wind. He implored me not to leave him, and I agreed to remain; indeed, to leave him in his then frame of mind would have been an act of the greatest cruelty. He wanted me also to preach in his place on the Sunday ensuing; but this I flatly refused to do.
"If you do not make an effort now, ," I said, "you will never make it. Rouse yourself, get on with your sermon, and if you buckle to work you will soon forget all about that foolish dream."
'Well, somehow, to cut a long story short, the sermon was composed, and Sunday came; and my friend, a little better, and getting somewhat over his fret, got up into the pulpit to preach. He looked dreadfully ill; but I thought the worst was now over, and that he would go on mending.
Vain hope! He gave out the text and then looked over the congregation: the first person on whom his eyes lighted was Sandy the Tinker-Sandy, who had never before been known to enter a place of worship of any sort; Sandy, whom he had mentally chosen as his substitute, and who was due on the following Wednesday-sitting just below him, quite sober and comparatively clean, waiting with a great show of attention for the opening words of the sermon.
'With a terrible cry, my friend caught the front of the pulpit, then
swayed back, and fell down in a fainting fit. He was carried home and a doctor sent for. I said a few words, addressed apparently to the congregation, but really to Sandy, for my heart somehow came into my mouth at sight of him; and then, after I dismissed the people, I walked slowly back to the manse, almost afraid of what might meet me there.
Mr. Cawley was not dead; but he was in the most dreadful state of physical exhaustion and mental agitation. It was dreadful to hear him. How could he go himself? How could he send Sandy? -poor old Sandy, whose soul, in the sight of God, was just as precious as his own.
'His whole cry was for us to deliver him from the Evil One; to save him from committing a sin which would render him a wretched man for life. He counted the hours and the minutes before he must return to that horrible place.
"I can't send Sandy," he would moan. "I cannot, O, I cannot save myself at such a price!"
'And then he would cover his face with the bedclothes, only to start up and wildly entreat me not to leave him; to stand between the enemy and himself, to save him, or, if that were impossible, to give him courage to do what was right.
"If this continues," said the doctor, "Wednesday will find him either dead or a raving lunatic."
'We talked the matter over, the doctor and I, in the gloaming, as we walked to and fro in the meadow behind the manse; and we decided, having to make our choice of two evils, to risk giving him such an opiate as should carry him over the dreaded interval. We knew it was a perilous thing to do with one in his condi
tion, but, as I said before, we could only take the least of two evils.
'What we dreaded most was his awaking before the time expired; so I kept watch beside him. He lay like one dead through the whole of Tuesday night and Wednesday and Wednesday evening. Eight, nine, ten, eleven o'clock came and passed; twelve. "God be thanked!" I said, as I stooped over him and heard he was breathing quietly.
"He will do now, I hope," said the doctor, who had come in just before midnight; "you will stay with him till he wakes?"
'I promised that I would, and in the beautiful dawn of a summer's morning he opened his eyes and smiled. He had no recollection then of what had occurred; he was as weak as an infant, and when I bade him try to go to sleep again, turned on his pillow and sank to rest once more.
'Worn out with watching, I stepped softly from the room and passed into the fresh sweet air. I walked down to the garden-gate, and stood looking at the great mountains and the fair country, and the Deldy wandering like a silver thread through the green fields below.
All at once my attention was attracted by a group of people coming slowly along the road leading from the hills. I could not at first see that in their midst something was being borne on men's shoulders; but when at last I made this out, I hurried to meet them and learn what was the matter.
"Has there been an accident?" I asked as I drew near.
They stopped, and one man came towards me.
"Ay," he said, "the warst accident that could befa' him, puir fella'. He's deid."
"Who is it?" I asked, pressing forward; and lifting the cloth they had flung over his face, I saw Sandy the Tinker!
"He had been fou' coming home, I tak' it," remarked one who stood by, "puir Sandy, and gaed over the cliff afore he could save himsel'. We found him just on this side of the Witches' Caldron, where there's a bonny strip of green turf, and his cuddy was feeding on the hill-top with the bit cart behind her."
There was silence for a minute; then one of the ladies said softly, 'Poor Sandy!'
'And what became of Mr. Cawley?' asked the other.
'He gave up his parish and went out as missionary. He is still living.'
'What a most extraordinary story!' I remarked.
'Yes, I think so,' said the minister. 'If you like to go round by Dendeldy to-morrow, my son, who now occupies the manse, would show you the scene of the occur
The next day we all stood looking at the bonny strip of green, at the frowning cliffs, and at the Deldy, swollen by recent rains, rushing on its way.
The youngest of the party went up to the rock, and knocked upon it loudly with his cane.
'O, don't do that, pray!' cried both the ladies nervously; the spirit of the weird story still brooded over us.
'What do you think of the coincidence, Jack?' I inquired of my friend, as we walked apart from the others.
'Ask me when we get back to Fleet-street,' he answered.
BY THE AUTHOR OF 'A FRENCH HEIRESS IN HER OWN CHATEAU,' 'MRS. LANCASTER'S RIVAL,' ETC.
FRANK MORLEY, a young man of six and twenty, was one of the heads of a great old firm of claret merchants, for more than a hundred years established in London and Bordeaux. His father had sent him to France to learn his business when he was quite a lad, in consequence of which his manners were excellent; and he spoke like a Frenchman, with a slight accent of the South, hardly strong enough to mark him as provincial. For the last three years, since his father's death, he had lived at Bordeaux and managed that end of the business entirely, his partners, who were oldish men, living in London.
Frank was clever, steady, hardworking, and thoroughly awake to his own interests. He meant to be a very rich man, to retire at forty, and not to marry till then. In spite of living abroad so much, he was unmistakably English, both in looks and ways; but this did not prove a hindrance to his popularity among the French. He was well known at Bordeaux, and a great favourite there, admired for his liberality, his physical strength, his fearless openness of speech and manner. He never suspected, probably, that some of his young French friends laughed at him, and called him jeering names behind his back-the only real satisfaction they could have, poor fellows, in their intercourse with such a provoking mass of advantages.
But Frank had one friend who really cared for him, though he borrowed money from him like the others. It was a true mutual liking that had drawn them togetherthe jolly, auburn-haired Frank Morley, and the black, sallow, melancholy Albert de Saint-Flor. Albert was as loyal to his friend Frank as to Henri Cinq himself. He knew all Frank's plans, and admired them. The idea of putting off one's marriage till one was forty met with his special approval after he had sounded Frank on the possibility of a marriage with his own only sister. This, it seemed, was far too high an honour for Frank to aspire to. It was necessary that he should marry an Englishwoman-of his own rank in life, he modestly added, being quite aware that the Saint-Flor family would look upon him as a mere bourgeois. Also he knew in his own mind that Mademoiselle de Saint-Flor was no longer younghow old he did not know; but older than her brother, who was five-and-twenty-and Albert had several times assured him, thinking it probably a recommendation, that they were the image of each other. He spoke so positively, and yet with such good-humoured compliments, that Albert saw the idea was a hopeless one. But he did not swerve from his friendship with the obstinate Morley.
In the month of December 1879, early in that long painful winter, Frank chose to go to Paris on business, and Albert eagerly con
sented to go with him. They started on a snowy day; and while they were yet some way south of Tours, at about five in the afternoon, the earth being wrapped in snow and the sky black and heavy with more, their train ran into a deep drift on the line, and it was soon too clear to the passengers that many hours of the night, at least, would be spent where they were. After the first shock, most of them bore this prospect with the resignation of French people. But the one Englishman in the train, hanging himself out of the carriage window, shouted to the nearest official, who answered by begging monsieur to sit down and be patient.
'Patient be hanged!' said Frank, or something equivalent in French. 'I am not going to sit here and be frozen, or stifled, which is more likely. Look here, what do you call the nearest station?'
Maupas shouted the official from the distance, as he plunged through the snow.
'Maupas ! Why, Saint- Flor, that's your place!' said Frank quite angrily to his friend, who jumped up in a state of tremendous excitement.
He had thought they must be at least eight leagues short of Maupas. But even now they were some distance from the château, which lay a mile beyond the station. Nothing would give him greater delight than to introduce his dear friend there, but it seemed to him a simple impossibility. 'A simple necessity,' said Frank, laughing. Look at it in that
light, and come along.'
Albert shrugged his shoulders, but his eyes shone with proud pleasure at the daring of his friend.
'My dear,' he said, 'I am ready to follow you to the world's end.'
'As the door won't open, we
will begin by getting out of the window,' said Frank. 'The best way at first will be along the roofs of the carriages.'
'Go, go on. I follow you, mon brave!'
An hour or two later these weary travellers stumbled up to the great iron-studded door of the Château de Maupas. Albert had lost his way once or twice, but at last the glimmer from the snow showed him the dark line of firs through which a rough narrow road approached the house. He was melancholy: this unexpected coming home did not seem to give him any pleasure. Frank, who knew that the Saint-Flors were poor and old-fashioned, did not himself expect a very hearty welcome, either from monsieur, madame, or mademoiselle. About that, however, he cared very little. All he wanted was supper and a bed, flattering himself that he would get on to Paris the next day.
A shabby man-servant received their wet greatcoats in the hall, which was high and large, and dimly lighted by a hanging lantern.
'Get my room ready, François, and one for monsieur, do you hear?' said Albert. 'What time is it? Have they finished dinner?'
I was taking in the bouilli,' answered François sepulchrally. 'Good; then we are in time. I have the appetite of a wolf-and you, Morley?
'And I too,' said Frank. But, my dear fellow, we can't dine in these boots.'
'No, no, come along to my room.'
They were certainly a pair of disreputable objects, covered with snow, which was melting slowly on their hair, their moustaches, in fact, all over them. There were pools of water where they stood on the stone floor of the hall. Sud