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flung her arms around his neck and cries : “Oh, George, my darling! It's a mistake! It's a mistake, and is all my fault!”
“ What's a mistake?” asks George, majestically separating himself from the embrace.
“What is it, Mounty?” cries Harry, all of a tremble.
“That paper I took out of his portfolio, that paper I picked up, children ; where the Colonel says he is going to marry a
1 widow with two children. Who should it be but you, children, and who should it be but your mother ?”
“ Well ?”
“Well, it's — it's not your mother. It's that little widow Custis whom the Colonel is going to marry. He'd always take a rich one ; I knew he would. It's not Mrs. Rachel Warring
He told Madam so to-day, just before he was going away, and that the marriage was to come off after the campaign. And — and your mother is furious, boys. And when Sady came for the pistols, and told the whole house how you were going to fight, I told him to fire the pistols off ; and I galloped after him, and I've nearly broken my poor old bones in coming to you."
“I have a mind to break Mr. Sady's,” growled George. I especially enjoined the villain not to say a word.”
“ Thank God he did, brother," said poor Harry. “Thank God he did!”
“What will Mr. Washington and those gentlemen think of my servant telling my mother at home that I was going to fight a duel?" asks Mr. George, still in wrath.
“ You have shown your proofs before, George,” says Harry, respectfully. “And, thank heaven, you are not going to fight our old friend — our grandfather's old friend. For it was a mistake: and there is no quarrel now, dear, is there? You were unkind to him under a wrong impression.
“ I certainly acted under a wrong impression,” owns George,
“George! George Washington!” Harry here cries out, springing over the cabbage garden towards the bowling green, where the Colonel was stalking; and though we cannot hear him, we see him, with both his hands out, and with the eagerness of youth, and with a hundred blunders, and with love and affection thrilling in his honest voice, we imagine the lad telling his tale to his friend.
There was a custom in those days which has disappeared
from our manners now, but which then lingered. When Harry had finished his artless story, his friend the Colonel took him fairly to his arms, and held him to his heart: and his voice faltered as he said, “Thank God, thank God for this !”
“Oh, George,” said Harry, who felt now how he loved his friend with all his heart, “how I wish I was going with you on the campaign !” The other pressed both the boy's hands, in a grasp of friendship, which, each knew, never would slacken.
Then the Colonel advanced, gravely holding out his hand to Harry's elder brother. Perhaps Harry wondered that the two did not embrace as he and the Colonel had just done. But, though hands were joined, the salutation was only formal and stern on both sides.
"I find I have done you a wrong, Colonel Washington, George said, “and must apologize, not for the error, but for much of my late behavior which has resulted from it."
“ The error was mine! It was I who found that paper in your room, and showed it to George, and was jealous of you, Colonel. All women are jealous,” cried Mrs. Mountain.
“ 'Tis a pity you could not have kept your eyes off my paper, Madam,” said Mr. Washington. “You will permit me to say
A great deal of mischief has come because I chose to keep a secret which concerned only myself and another person. For a long time George Warrington's heart has been black with anger against me, and my feeling towards him has, I own, scarce been more friendly. All this pain might have been spared to both of us, had my private papers only been read by those for whom they were written. I shall say no more now, lest my feelings again should betray me into hasty words. Heaven bless thee, Harry! Farewell, George! And take a true friend's advice, and try and be less ready to think evil of your friends. . We shall meet again at the camp, and will keep our weapons for the enemy.
Gentlemen ! if you remember this scene tomorrow, you will know where to find me.”
And with a very stately bow to the English officers, the Colonel left the abashed company, and speedily rode away.
ACCOUNT OF ALL THAT PASSED ON THE NIGHT
OF FEBRUARY 27, 1757.
BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.
(From “ The Master of Ballantrae.") [ROBERT Louis Balfour Stevenson, cosmopolitan novelist, was born at Edinburgh, Scotland, November 13, 1850. Intended for an engineer, and then studying law and called to the bar, he became a traveler and story-teller, settling in Samoa in 1889 and dying there December 3, 1894. He was warmly interested in, and greatly beloved by, the Samoan natives, and “A Footnote to History” is an account of an episode in the foreign handling of their politics. His novels, stories, travel sketches, and poems all contribute to a high literary fame, as instance “ Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes," " The New Arabian Nights," " Kidnapped," " The Master of Ballantrae," "A Child's Garden of Verse," " Prince Otto," "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," “ Catriona " (the same as
“ David Balfour”), and the unfinished “ Weir of Hermiston," besides the “ Life of Fleeming Jenkin," and others.]
On the evening of February 26, the master went abroad ; he was abroad a great deal of the next day also, that fatal 27th ; but where he went or what he did, we never concerned ourselves to ask until next day. If we had done so, and by any chance found out, it might have changed all. But as all we did was done in ignorance, and should be so judged, I shall so narrate these passages as they appeared to us in the moment of their birth, and reserve all that I since discovered for the time of its discovery. For I have now come to one of the dark parts of my narrative, and must engage the reader's indulgence for my patron.
All the 27th, that rigorous weather endured : a stifling cold; the folk passing about like smoking chimneys; the wide hearth in the hall piled high with fuel ; some of the spring birds that had already blundered north into our neighborhood besieging the windows of the house or trotting on the frozen turf like things distracted. About noon there came a blink of sunshine, showing a very pretty, wintery, frosty landscape of white hills and woods, with Crail's lugger waiting for a wind under the Craig Head, and the smoke mounting straight into the air from every farm and cottage. With the coming of night the haze closed in overhead ; it fell dark and still and starless and exceeding cold : a night the most unseasonable, fit for strange events.
Mrs. Henry withdrew, as was now her custom, very early. We had set ourselves of late to pass the evening with a game
of cards, — another mark that our visitor was wearying mightily of the life at Durrisdeer; and we had not been long at this, when my old lord slipped from his place beside the fire, and was off without a word to seek the warmth of bed. The three thus left together had neither love nor courtesy to share ; not one of us would have sat up one instant to oblige another; yet from the influence of custom and as the cards had just been dealt, we continued the form of playing out the round. I should say we were late sitters ; and though my lord had departed earlier than was his custom, twelve was already gone some time upon the clock, and the servants long ago in bed. Another thing I should say, that although I never saw the master any way affected with liquor, he had been drinking freely and was perhaps (although he showed it not) a trifle heated.
Anyway, he now practiced one of his transitions ; and so soon as the door closed behind my lord, and without the smallest change of voice, shifted from ordinary civil talk into a stream of insult.
“ My dear Henry, it is yours to play,” he had been saying, and now continued: “It is a very strange thing how, even in so small a matter as a game of cards, you display your rusticity. You play, Jacob, like a bonnet laird, or a sailor in a tavern. The same dullness, the same petty greed, cette lenteur d'hébété qui me fait rager; it is strange I should have such a brother. Even Squaretoes has a certain vivacity when his stake is imperiled; but the dreariness of a game with you, I positively lack language to depict."
Mr. Henry continued to look at his cards, as though very maturely considering some play ; but his mind was elsewhere.
“Dear God, will this never be done?” cries the master. “ Quel lourdeau! But why do I trouble you with French expressions, which are lost on such an ignoramus ? A lourdeau, my
dear brother, is as we might say a bumpkin, a clown, a clodpole : a fellow without grace, lightness, quickness, any gift of pleasing, any natural brilliancy : such a one as you shall see, when you desire, by looking in the mirror. I tell you these things for your good, I assure you; and besides, Squaretoes” (looking at me and stifling a yawn), “it is one of my diversions in this very dreary spot, to toast you and your master at the fire like chestnuts. I have great pleasure in your case, for I observe the nickname (rustic as it is) has always the power to
make you writhe. But sometimes I have more trouble with this dear fellow here, who seems to have gone to sleep upon his cards. Do you not see the applicability of the epithet I have just explained, dear Henry? Let me show you. For instance, with all those solid qualities which I delight to recognize in you, I never knew a woman who did not prefer me. think,” he continued, with the most silken deliberation, “I think - who did not continue to prefer me."
Mr. Henry laid down his cards. He rose to his feet very softly, and seemed all the while like a person in deep thought. “ You coward !” he said gently, as if to himself. And then, with neither hurry nor any particular violence, he struck the master in the mouth.
The master sprung to his feet like one transfigured. I had never seen the man so beautiful. “ A blow !” he cried. “I would not take a blow from God Almighty.”
“Lower your voice,” said Mr. Henry. “Do you wish my father to interfere for you again?”
“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” I cried, and sought to come between them.
The master caught me by the shoulder, held me at arm's length, and still addressing his brother: “Do you know what this means?” said he.
“ It was the most deliberate act of my life,” says Mr. Henry.
“I must have blood, I must have blood for this,” says the master.
“Please God it shall be yours," said Mr. Henry; and he went to the wall and took down a pair of swords that hung there with others, naked. These he presented to the master by the points. “Mackellar shall see us play fair," said Mr. Henry. “I think it very needful.”
“ “ You need insult me no more,” said the master, taking one of the swords at random. “I have hated
“ I have hated you all my life. “ My father is but newly gone to bed,” said Mr. Henry. “We must go somewhere forth of the house."
“ There is an excellent place in the long shrubbery,” said the master.
“Gentlemen,” said I, “shame upon you both! Sons of the same mother, would you turn against the life she gave you?”
“Even so, Mackellar," said Mr. Henry, with the same per fect quietude of manner he had shown throughout.
“ It is what I will prevent,” said I.