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prise, seemed wonderfully sustained by Koster agreed with her most heartsomething. He discovered a few min ily: “A real smart man we'd make utes later what it was. "Charlie will of him here; pity he can't stay this never bave heard from me, Hector, that side." the wife did not make me welcome,” But Hector, with the dignity and reshe said proudly as she wiped her eyes. serve which characterizes the Highland
nature, asked no pity from anyone. As you may have seen a tired horse Whenever the Kosters tried to find out suddenly mend its pace when turned in what he felt about going home he shut the direction of home, so the Widow up like a trap. scarcely noted now the leagues of land "I'm hoping to come back some and sea that had still to be gone over, day," was all they got him to admit. for was not every hour bringing her Neither would be delay their sailing nearer bome?
any longer than could possibly be She fared better on this journey than helped. on her first, for had not Charlie in- “Mother's wishing to get home," he sisted that she should travel in a sleep- said. "It's not for me to put it off.” ing-car like any lady? So the long In vain Cassie tried her most seducnight was passed in slumber, and the tive wiles: Hector would not be benext day though wearisome was com- guiled. Only on the night before they fortable; and then, lo, they were in were to sail for Scotland he found an New York again, being greeted by opportunity to beg Cassie to write to Mrs. Koster and Cassie! It was Hec- him. tor, however, who managed everything “The winter's terrible long on the this time; or rather, an altogether dif- Island," burst from his reluctant lips, ferent Hector from the one who had "terrible long and dull." arrived in New York six months be- “Oh, I'll send you a picture post-card fore. The change did not escape Mrs. now and again," Cassie said gaily; Koster's eye.
"and if you could just kindly send me “My! ain't he smartened up?" she the same, it would be nice I'd add said admiringly. "Well, I'll say this them to my collection.” for the States, if there's one thing they "I'll remember," Hector assured her. can do it's to make men look alive."
Cassie, too, was watching her High- The sea was like a mill-pond all the land Nobleman with ill-concealed admi- way across. Even the Widow could ration; noting his added inches, as well not feel uncomfortable, and used to as his added alertness of speech and walk daily up and down the decks on manner, and his look of being able to her grandson's arm, while every day take care of himself. But, with all her face looked happier and her step this Hector could not be said to be grew stronger. Her talk was all of looking happy; he was very silent, and home. scarcely brightened up even under the "Och, Hector! how will we be findsunshine of Cassie's smiles.
ing the cow? I'm thinking she'll be "I know what it is,” Mrs. Koster glad to be back to the old byre! And told her husband, when their guests will the hens be knowing me again? I were disposed of for the night; “I know wonder is Chuckie, that had the what it is—he don't want to go home, broken leg, still going? She was poor lad, that's what it is; and no won- fine bird”-and so on and so on. Hecder either-just stepping into his grave tor then told her that by Mrs. Koster's before the time, I call it.”
suggestion he meant to take her to see
au cedoctor in Glasgow. “It's not cry of joy and held out ber hands to blind she is, it's only spectacles she's her grandson. needing,” Mrs. Koster had said. The "Och, Hector, I'm seeing you as clear Widow would not believe this; she as the day!" she cried. “And you're had tried on John Matheson's specta- grown to be a man altogether!" It cles two years past, and didn't they was a wonderful moment indeed, and just make the sight worse? Oh no! it Hector laughed with pleasure to see was the old eyes were gone these ten her gazing round and round the room year and more. However, it made in the sudden possession of her sight an excellent subject of conversation, again. This miracle of healing came and Hector was glad to have it.
as a boon to Hector, for the Widow had some difficulty in persuading his was so full of her recovered vision all grandmother to consent to the extra the evening that she could think and day's delay it would entail; she was talk of nothing else, and her garrulity counting the hours now till they could made his silence less noticed. Next reach the Island—if she could have en- morning they were to start again for tered on such a calculation she would the Island, and Hector was as impahave counted the minutes also.
tient now as his grandmother on the So the ocean was crossed again; the sound principle that if one has a dislow green shores of Ireland came in agreeable thing to do the sooner it is sight, and home was nearly reached done the better. at last. The Widow wept with joy as “Yer a wee thing glum, Hector," Unthe ship came into the dock.
cle Neil said jocosely. "Ye've maybe "Is it true, Hector, or is it dreaming left yer hairt in Ameriky." I am?" she cried.
"Maybe,” Hector retorted laconically, But Uncle Neil's hearty greeting had with no answering smile. nothing dream-like about it certainly:
“So yer back already to auld Scot- A day and a night—and the next land! Ye've no' made a long stay. day as evening fell the steamer came Welcome hame to ye baith-there's nae in to the quay at Balneish. place like hame, the song says!"
They were almost the only passenAlas! Hector could have cursed the gers, for the tourist season was over. song for its falsity to his own case; but The little quay was empty, except for he tried to affect good-humor and to a cart and a man with it. In the dusk join in the jocularities of his relative a light or two twinkled in the windows -- he was not going to be a kill-joy, and at Balneish. Everything was very above everything he refused to be pit still. ied.
“There's John Matheson, mother, All the next day he went about with the cart!” Hector cried; "he will cheerfully, and no one guessed at the have come for you and the box." fox that was gnawing his vitals.
The Widow gazed through the grand The Widow, with many protesta- new spectacles at the well-known outtions, was taken to the eye-doctor in lines of the Island, pointing out each the afternoon. Hector stood beside house and naming its owner-if the her as the spectacles were one by one light had not failed she could have placed upon her nose. Each time she named each horse and cow, I believe. would shake her head and groan, and Hector sprang down the gangway exclaim that it was blind she was, and held out his hand to help her what was the gentleman troubling with across it; a moment more and she her for? But all at once she gave a stood again on the dear shores of home
-shaken with excitement, and worn ers. A big peat-fire burned on the with the fatigues of her long journey. hearth, and a table stood spread by the ing, but oh, at home once more! fire. All this they saw through the
The kindly dusk hid her tears—ber window, and then, producing the key, foolish tears of joy-as the cart rum- they solemnly turned it in the rusty bled along the stony road to the croft lock and stepped across the threshold.
and John Matheson in the ("God forgive me," Hector thought; “I meantime was pouring out microscopic was never meaning her to come back!") bits of so-called news to Hector-all Surely that moment of home coming that had happened at Balneish in the compensated the Widow for many a six months since they had left the weary hour. She sank down on the Island: Rob MacLeod's
had old, hard, uncomfortable wooden chair choked on a turnip in the summer; and in the chimney-corner, and gazed bunHamish MacLeod, he was bad with grily round and round the little room the asthma, but his daughter Jessie, as if she could never have enough of she that's in Glasgow, was after send- it. ing him a bottle to take oh, it was Hector, with one tremendous effort, grand stuff, and helped him at times. pushed away his thoughts of the past There had been good crops; yes, just and turned his energies to the present. fairish good of the hay; there was a "I'll not be taking you across the boat got washed away from the pier in water again, mother, I'm thinking," he September, and John Farquharson's said with a laugh, as he lifted the big horse had gone lame in the right knee. black kettle on to the fire to boil. He
Hector listened and responded drew the table up beside his grandto it all, feeling exactly as if he had mother's chair and laid away her shawl wakened from a dream of extraordi. for her as gently as a daughter might nary vividness. Was it true that they have done it. had ever crossed the sea and seen No voice was there to whisper comCharlie?
All manner of funny fort to Hector at that moment: he had scenes crowded into his memory, and never heard of Carlyle or his Gospel; here
Matheson droning away but none the less he arrived in some about a horse with a lame leg, and a obscure way at the same conclusion as cow that had choked on a turnip! that stern old philosopher, “Here or no
The cart stopped: they had reached where was his America" for the present. the path up to the cottage. dark now, and Hector had to help the Charlie came across the water next Widow up the rough bit of ground— year and saw his mother again as he she stumbled and would have fallen if had promised to do, and some two his arm had not held her up.
years later the Widow went on another "Och, Hector! it's old and useless I journey, from which she never came am," she said.
back-crossed an uncharted sea and In spite of the fact that the door-key landed on the shores of a New World. had been all this time in the Widow's Then Hector, wiser grown, sighed as pocket, the Mathesons had effected an he said farewell to the shieling for entrance to the cottage somehow, and ever and turned his face towards the sorted it up for the return of its own- future. The Cornbill Magazine.
THE SILENT ONES.
In Western Africa life is short, Hence their name. The terror they events move extraordinarily quickly, exercise over other natives is indescriband the years are very full. Fifteen able. News that "The Silent Ones" years back takes one to prehistoric are out is sufficient to depopulate a times. In those days a trading com- whole countryside. Men, women, and pany held sway over a great block of children abandon home and farm, and the country. Its raison d'être was of rush terror-stricken, mad with fear, to course the earning of dividends; but hide in the friendly bush. Up-country besides capital it possessed also a char- trading stations are usually fortified ter, and in virtue of this charter it ad- and the traders armed, and to them ministered, after a fashion, such of the the wretched fugitives will come for natives as were peaceable, and fought protection. As a rule "The Silent the truculent ones. For the purposes Ones" fight shy of such places, but of this latter operation the company there have been cases wherein the maintained a little army of blacks, re trader and his people were massacred, cruited locally. The men were armed' the store looted, and the whole place with rifles, and were trained and led reduced to ashes. by European military officers whom To-day the society is not what it the company hired and exported to
In more than one bloody enWest Africa. The force was an excel- counter its members learned the price lent one, and did excellent work. It exacted by the white man from them was kept busy, now here, now there, that go a-murdering and pillaging. up and down the country, but most of Here also, as elsewhere, the road has its business was provided by the va- proved itself a great factor working for rious secret societies with which West peace and order. The country is beAfrican politics are undermined.
ing rapidly opened up,
roads Of these secret societies that of “The are being cut, old ones are being Silent Ones” is perhaps, in virtue of extended daily, and the reign of its membership and aims, the most for- "The Silent Ones" is passing to its midable. The "Society of the Leop- close. ard" runs it close. As present we Fifteen years ago it was at its zeare concerned with the "Society of The nith. In a district which the society Silent Ones." It probably numbers its only occasionally ravaged there estabadherents by millions. Periodically lished itself a mission-station. The large parties of these go on the war- personnel of the Mission consisted of path, in obedience, apparently, to or- two French Fathers. One, Moulain, ders received-whence, from whom, was a man of middle age, an Alsatian it is impossible to say. These excur- many years in West Africa, who spoke sions are very horrible affairs-towns fluently several of the native lanand villages are looted and burned, guages. Father Ridout, his colleague, people are murdered, and in many was a young man newly arrived in the cases their bodies are devoured by the country, and quite without experience. assassins. Blood-stained, smoking ruins The house they lived in was close and wasted farms mark the path of · alongside a big native town, whence "The Silent Ones.” They always move there ran a trade road forty miles down at night, entire secrecy shrouds their to the great river. On the far side of intentions, and they
speak. the river stood a large settlement gar
risoned by a considerable portion of "bushman" is the most insulting that the company's army.'
can be applied to any native. In serThe Fathers had a fine farm, and eral of the languages it seems to be were satisfied that their presence and synonymous with "ape.”] “My friend, efforts were appreciated by their neigh- you mistake me. It is not my babit to bors the townspeople, with whom their run away. I shall stop here. And relations were most friendly. One you, go back to your house. "The Siafternoon the cbief of the town pre- lent Ones' shall not harm you, nor sented himself at the Mission. The your people neither.” And the fery
was all gone to pieces. He little Padre turned and went back into gasped out that news of the coming the Mission. of “The Silent Ones" had just Men turn in early in the tropics, and reached him. He said they came be- the Fathers had been asleep some cause the town had welcomed and en- hours when, about midnight, a “boy" tertained the white man. Normally rushed into Moulain's room screaming. an intelligent, reasonable fellow, terror Evidently the chief had been well inhad turned the chief into a gibbering, formed. “The Silent Ones" had ardrivelling incompetent. He was too rived. The "boy" cowered in the frightened even to run away. He corner, groaning and gibbering, quite prayed the Fathers to leave at once. beside himself. Moulain slipped into There might yet be time, he said, for his long white cassock, and went out them to reach the settlement. For his into the moonlight. A wonderful own part, perhaps, if "The Silent spectacle met his eyes. Between the Ones" found the white men gone they mission-station and the town wall was would content themselves with looting a large clear space, many acres in exand destroying the Mission, plus a fine tent. This was filled with a great from the town. The prospect was not army of men sitting down. One can a bright one, but if the Fathers re read small print by the light of a full mained, then would murder be the por- moon, and the little thick-set Alsatian tion of all infallibly. And the poor could see that the naked savages bemiserable wretch grovelled and sobbed fore him were armed, and that many ir his agony of fear.
of them were daubed over with a Father Moulain comforted him as white pigment. Not a sound arose well as he could, but sympathy did the from the vast assembly. Perfectly man no good at all, and the Father still, utterly silent, infinitely sinister, took a different line. "More than a “The Silent Ones" sat, many thousands year I have lived in your town," he of them. And the little lonely white said, “and you do not know me. You man, black-bearded, white cassocked, think I fear. Did I fear when I came standing before them in the cool, melfirst to you? You were not then my low radiance, felt he could understand friend, remember. And your people something of the awe they might inwould not help me at all; they threat spire in meaner-fibred men. A white ened me and tried to drive me away man, a Frenchman, in his own indomfrom the town. Afterwards it was dif- itable soul there was nothing of fear, ferent. But at the beginning, you and he advanced coolly towards his know how close I was to death at your visitors. Arrived within a few yards hands. And now to-day you come to of the front rank he stopped, and in tell me to leave my house and run away their own language courteously saluted from a lot of bushmen whom I have them. No man answered him. He never seen.” [In West Africa the term continued