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Margaret Burnside was an orphan. Her parents, who had been the poorest people in the parish, had died when she was a mere child; and as they had left no near relatives, there were few or none to care much about the desolate creature, who might be well said to have been left friendless in the world. True that the feeling of charity is seldom wholly wanting in any heart; but it is generally but a cold feeling among hard-working folk, towards objects out of the narrow circle of their own family affections, and selfishness has a ready and strong excuse in necessity. There seems, indeed, to be a sort of chance in the lot of the orphan offspring of paupers. On some the eye of Christian benevolence falls at the very first moment of their uttermost destitution and their worst sorrows, instead of beginning, terminate with the tears shed over their parents’ graves. They are taken by the hands, as soon as their hands have been stretched out for protection, and admitted as inmates into households, whose doors, had their fathers and mothers been alive, they would never have darkened. The light of comfort falls upon them during the gloom of grief, and attends them all their days. Others, again, are overlooked at the first fall of affliction, as if by some unaccountable fatality; the wretchedness with which all have become familiar, no one very tenderly pities; and thus the orphan, reconciling herself to the extreme hardships of her condition, lives on uncheered by those sympathies out of which grow both happiness and virtue, and yielding by degrees to the constant pressure of her lot, becomes poor in spirit as in estate, and either vegetates like an almost worthless weed that is carelessly trodden on by every foot, or if by nature born a flower, in time loses her lustre, and all her days leads the life not so much of a servant as of a slave.

Such, till she was twelve years old, had been the fate of Margaret Burnside. Of a slender form and weak constitution, she had never been able for much work; and thus from one discontented and harsh master and mistress to another, she had been transferred from house to house always the poorest till she came to be looked on as an encumbrance rather than a help in any family, and thought hardly worth her bread. Sad and sickly she sat on the braes herding the kine. It was supposed that she was in a consumption and as the shadow of death seemed to lie on the neglected creature’s face, a feeling something like love was awakened towards her in the heart of pity, for which she showed her gratitude by still attending to all household tasks with an alacrity beyond her strength. Few doubted that she was dying and it was plain that she thought so herself; for the Bible, which, in her friendlessness, she had always read more than other children, who were too happy to reflect often on the Word of that Being from whom their happiness flowed, was now, when leisure permitted, seldom or never out of her hands; and in lonely places, where there was no human ear to hearken, did the dying girl often support her heart, when quaking in natural fears of the grave, by singing to herself hymns and psalms. But her hour was not yet come though by the inscrutable decrees of Providence doomed to be hideous with almost inexpiable guilt. As for herself she was innocent as the linnet that sang beside her in the broom, and innocent was she to be up to the last throbbings of her religious heart. When the sunshine fell on the leaves of her Bible, the orphan seemed to see in the holy words, brightening through the radiance, assurances of forgiveness of all her sins small sins indeed yet to her humble and contrite heart exceeding great and to be pardoned only by the intercession of Him who died for us on the tree. Often, when clouds were in the sky, and blackness covered the Book, hope died away from the discoloured page and the lonely creature wept and sobbed over the doom denounced on all who sin, and repent not whether in deed or in thought. And thus religion became within her an awful thing till, in her resignation, she feared to die. But look on that flower by the hill-side path, withered, as it seems, beyond the power of sun and air and dew and rain to restore it to life. Next day, you happen to return to the place, its leaves are of a dazzling green, its blossoms of a dazzling crimson. So was it with this Orphan. Nature, as if kindling towards her in sudden love, not only restored her in a few weeks to life but to perfect health; and ere long she, whom few had looked at, and for whom still fewer cared, was acknowledged to be the fairest girl in all the parish while she continued to sit, as she had always done from very childhood, on the poor’s form in the lobby of the kirk. Such a face, such a figure, and such a manner, in one so poorly attired and so meanly placed, attracted the eyes of the young Ladies in the Patron’s Gallery. Margaret Burnside was taken under their especial protection sent for two years to a superior school, where she was taught all things useful for persons in humble life and while yet scarcely fifteen, returning to her native parish, was appointed teacher of a small school of her own, to which were sent all the girls who could be spared from home, from those of parents poor as her own had been, up to those of the farmers and small proprietors, who knew the blessings of a good education and that without it, the minister may preach in vain. And thus Margaret Burnside grew and blossomed like the lily of the field and every eye blessed her and she drew her breath in gratitude, piety, and peace.

Thus a few happy and useful years passed by and it was forgotten by all but herself that Margaret Burnside was an orphan. But to be without one near and dear blood-relative in all the world, must often, even to the happy heart of youthful innocence, be more than a pensive a painful thought; and therefore, though Margaret Burnside was always cheerful among her little scholars, yet in the retirement of her own room (a pretty parlour, with a window looking into a flower-garden), and on her walks among the braes, her mien was somewhat melancholy, and her eyes wore that touching expression, which seems doubtfully to denote neither joy nor sadness but a habit of soul which, in its tranquillity, still partakes of the mournful, as if memory dwelt often on past sorrows, and hope scarcely ventured to indulge in dreams of future repose. That profound orphan-feeling imbued her whole character; and sometimes when the young Ladies from the Castle smiled praises upon her, she retired in gratitude to her chamber and wept.

Among the friends at whose houses she visited were the family at Moorside, the highest hill-farm in the parish, and on which her father had been a hind. It consisted of the master, a man whose head was grey, his son and daughter, and a grandchild, her scholar, whose parents were dead. Gilbert Adamson had long been a widower indeed his wife had never been in the parish, but had died abroad. He had been a soldier in his youth and prime of manhood; and when he came to settle at Moorside, he had been looked at with no very friendly eyes; for evil rumours of his character had preceded his arrival there and in that peaceful pastoral parish, far removed from the world’s strife, suspicions, without any good reason perhaps, had attached themselves to the morality and religion of a man, who had seen much foreign service, and had passed the best years of his life in the wars. It was long before these suspicions faded away, and with some they still existed in an invincible feeling of dislike, or even aversion. But the natural fierceness and ferocity which, as these peaceful dwellers among the hills imagined, had at first, in spite of his efforts to control them, often dangerously exhibited themselves in fiery outbreaks, advancing age had gradually subdued; Gilbert Adamson had grown a hard-working and industrious man; affected, if he followed it not in sincerity, even an austerely religious life; and as he possessed more than common sagacity and intelligence, he had acquired, at last, if not won, a certain ascendancy in the parish, even over many whose hearts never opened nor warmed towards him so that he was now an elder of the kirk and, as the most unwilling were obliged to acknowledge, a just steward to the poor. His grey hairs were not honoured, but it would not be too much to say that they were respected. Many who had doubted him before came to think they had done him injustice, and sought to wipe away their fault by regarding him with esteem, and showing themselves willing to interchange all neighbourly kindnesses and services with all the family at Moorside. His son, though somewhat wild and unsteady, and too much addicted to the fascinating pastimes of flood and field, often so ruinous to the sons of labour, and rarely long pursued against the law without vitiating the whole character, was a favourite with all the parish. Singularly handsome, and with manners above his birth, Ludovic was welcome wherever he went, both with young and old. No merry-making could deserve the name without him; and at all meetings for the display of feats of strength and agility, far and wide through more counties than one he was the champion. Nor had he received a mean education. All that the parish schoolmaster could teach he knew; and having been the darling companion of all the gentlemen’s sons in the Manse, the faculties of his mind had kept pace with theirs, and from them he had caught unconsciously that demeanour so far superior to what could have been expected from one in his humble condition, but which, at the same time, seemed so congenial with his happy nature as to be readily acknowledged to be one of its original gifts. Of his sister, Alice, it is sufficient to say, that she was the bosom-friend of Margaret Burnside, and that all who saw their friendship felt that it was just. The small parentless granddaughter was also dear to Margaret more than perhaps her heart knew, because that, like herself, she was an orphan. But the creature was also a merry and a madcap child, and her freakish pranks, and playful perversenesses, as she tossed her head in untamable glee, and went dancing and singing, like a bird on the boughs of a tree, all day long, by some strange sympathy entirely won the heart of her who, throughout all her own childhood, had been familiar with grief, and a lonely shedder of tears. And thus did Margaret love her, it might be said, even with a very mother’s love. She generally passed her free Saturday afternoons at Moorside, and often slept there all night with little Ann in her bosom. At such times Ludovic was never from home, and many a Sabbath he walked with her to the kirk all the family together and once by themselves for miles along the moor a forenoon of perfect sunshine, which returned upon him in his agony on his dying day.

No one said, no one thought that Ludovic and Margaret were lovers nor were they, though well worthy indeed of each other’s love; for the orphan’s whole heart was filled and satisfied with a sense of duty, and all its affections were centred in her school, where all eyes blessed her, and where she had been placed for the good of all those gladsome creatures, by them who had rescued her from the penury that kills the soul, and whose gracious bounty she remembered even in her sleep. In her prayers she beseeched God to bless them rather than the wretch on her knees their images, their names, were ever before her eyes and on her ear; and next to that peace of mind which passeth all understanding, and comes from the footstool of God into the humble, lowly, and contrite heart, was to that orphan, day and night, waking or sleeping, the bliss of her gratitude. And thus Ludovic to her was a brother, and no more; a name sacred as that of sister, by which she always called her Alice, and was so called in return. But to Ludovic, who had a soul of fire, Margaret was dearer far than ever sister was to the brother whom, at the sacrifice of her own life, she might have rescued from death. Go where he might, a phantom was at his side a pale fair face for ever fixed its melancholy eyes on his, as if foreboding something dismal even when they faintly smiled; and once he awoke at midnight, when all the house were asleep, crying, with shrieks, “O God of mercy! Margaret is murdered!” Mysterious passion of Love! that darkens its own dreams of delight with unimaginable horrors! Shall we call such dire bewilderment the superstition of troubled fantasy, or the inspiration of the prophetic soul!

From what seemingly insignificant sources and by means of what humble instruments may this life’s best happiness be diffused over the households of industrious men! Here was the orphan daughter of forgotten paupers, both dead ere she could speak; herself, during all her melancholy childhood, a pauper even more enslaved than ever they had been one of the most neglected and unvalued of all God’s creatures who, had she then died, would have been buried in some nettled nook of the kirkyard, nor her grave been watered almost by one single tear suddenly brought out from the cold and cruel shade in which she had been withering away, by the interposition of human but angelic hands, into the heaven’s most gracious sunshine, where all at once her beauty blossomed like the rose. She, who for so many years had been even begrudgingly fed on the poorest and scantiest fare, by Penury ungrateful for all her weak but zealous efforts to please by doing her best, in sickness and sorrow, at all her tasks, in or out of doors, and in all weathers, however rough and severe was now raised to the rank of a moral, intellectual, and religious being, and presided over, tended, and instructed many little ones, far far happier in their childhood than it had been her lot to be, and all growing up beneath her now untroubled eyes, in innocence, love, and joy inspired into their hearts by her, their young and happy benefactress. Not a human dwelling in all the parish, that had not reason to be thankful to Margaret Burnside. She taught them to be pleasant in their manners, neat in their persons, rational in their minds, pure in their hearts, and industrious in all their habits. Rudeness, coarseness, sullenness, all angry fits, and all idle dispositions the besetting vices and sins of the children of the poor, whose home-education is often so miserably, and almost necessarily neglected did this sweet Teacher, by the divine influence of meekness never ruffled, and tenderness never troubled, in a few months subdue and overcome till her school-room, every day in the week, was, in its cheerfulness, sacred as a Sabbath, and murmured from morn till eve with the hum of perpetual happiness. The effects were soon felt in every house. All floors were tidier, and order and regularity enlivened every hearth. It was the pride of her scholars to get their own little gardens behind their parents’ huts to bloom like that of the Brae and, in imitation of that flowery porch, to train up the pretty creepers on the wall. In the kirkyard, a smiling group every Sabbath forenoon waited for her at the gate and walked, with her at their head, into the House of God a beautiful procession to all their parents’ eyes one by one dropping away into their own seats, as the band moved along the little lobby, and the minister, sitting in the pulpit all the while, looked solemnly down upon the fair flock the shepherd of their souls!

It was Sabbath, but Margaret Burnside was not in the kirk. The congregation had risen to join in prayer, when the great door was thrown open, and a woman, apparelled as for the house of worship, but wild and ghastly in her face and eyes as a maniac hunted by evil spirits, burst in upon the service, and, with uplifted hands, beseeched the man of God to forgive her irreverent entrance, for that the foulest and most unnatural murder had been done, and that her own eyes had seen the corpse of Margaret Burnside lying on the moor in a pool of blood! The congregation gave one groan, and then an outcry as if the roof of the kirk had been toppling over their heads. All cheeks waxed white, women fainted, and the firmest heart quaked with terror and pity, as once and again the affrighted witness, in the same words, described the horrid spectacle, and then rushed out into the open air, followed by hundreds, who for some minutes had been palsy-stricken; and now the kirkyard was all in a tumult round the body of her who lay in a swoon. In the midst of that dreadful ferment, there were voices crying aloud that the poor woman was mad, and that such horror could not be beneath the sun; for such a perpetration on the Sabbath-day, and first heard of just as the prayers of His people were about to ascend to the Father of all mercies, shocked belief, and doubt struggled with despair as in the helpless shudderings of some dream of blood. The crowd were at last prevailed on by their pastor to disperse, and sit down on the tombstones, and water being sprinkled over the face of her who still lay in that mortal swoon, and the air suffered to circulate freely round her, she again opened her glassy eyes, and raising herself on her elbow, stared on the multitude, all gathered there so wan and silent, and shrieked out, “The Day of Judgment! the Day of Judgment!”

The aged minister raised her on her feet, and led her to a grave, on which she sat down, and hid her face on his knees. “O that I should have lived to see the day but dreadful are the decrees of the Most High and she whom we all loved has been cruelly murdered! Carry me with you, people, and I will show you where lies her corpse.”

“Where where is Ludovic Adamson?” cried a hoarse voice which none there had ever heard before; and all eyes were turned in one direction; but none knew who had spoken, and all again was hush. Then all at once a hundred voices repeated the same words, “Where where is Ludovic Adamson?” and there was no reply. Then, indeed, was the kirkyard in an angry and a wrathful ferment, and men looked far into each other’s eyes for confirmation of their suspicions. And there was whispering about things, that, though in themselves light as air, seemed now charged with hideous import; and then arose sacred appeals to Heaven’s eternal justice, horridly mingled with oaths and curses; and all the crowd, springing to their feet, pronounced, “that no other but he could be the murderer.”

It was remembered now, that for months past Margaret Burnside had often looked melancholy that her visits had been less frequent to Moorside; and one person in the crowd said, that a few weeks ago she had come upon them suddenly in a retired place, when Margaret was weeping bitterly, and Ludovic tossing his arms, seemingly in wrath and distraction. All agreed that of late he had led a disturbed and reckless life and that something dark and suspicious had hung about him, wherever he went, as if he were haunted by an evil conscience. But did not strange men sometimes pass through the Moor squalid mendicants, robber-like, from the far-off city one by one, yet seemingly belonging to the same gang with bludgeons in their hands half-naked, and often drunken in their hunger, as at the doors of lonesome houses they demanded alms; or more like footpads than beggars, with stern gestures, rising up from the ditches on the wayside, stopped the frightened women and children going upon errands, and thanklessly received pence from the poor? One of them must have been the murderer! But then, again, the whole tide of suspicion would set in upon Ludovic her lover; for the darker and more dreadful the guilt, the more welcome is it to the fears of the imagination when its waking dreams are floating in blood.

A tall figure came forward from the porch, and all was silence when the congregation beheld the Father of the suspected criminal. He stood still as a tree in a calm day trunk, limbs, moved not and his grey head was uncovered. He then stretched out his arm, not in an imploring, but in a commanding attitude, and essayed to speak; but his white lips quivered, and his tongue refused its office. At last, almost fiercely, he uttered, “Who dares denounce my son?” and like the growling thunder the crowd cried, “All all he is the murderer!” Some said that the old man smiled; but it could have been but a convulsion of the features outraged nature’s wrung-out and writhing expression of disdain, to show how a father’s love brooks the cruelty of foolish falsehood and injustice.

Men, women, and children all whom grief and horror had not made helpless moved away towards the Moor the woman who had seen the sight leading the way; for now her whole strength had returned to her, and she was drawn and driven by an irresistible passion to look again at what had almost destroyed her judgment. Now they were miles from the kirk, and over some brushwood, at the edge of a morass some distance from the common footpath, crows were seen diving and careering in the air, and a raven, flapping suddenly out of the covert, sailed away with a savage croak along a range of cliffs. The whole multitude stood stock-still at that carrion-sound. The guide said shudderingly, in a low hurried voice, “See, see that is her mantle” and there indeed Margaret lay, all in a heap, maimed, mangled, murdered, with a hundred gashes. The corpse seemed as if it had been baked in frost, and was imbedded in coagulated blood. Shreds and patches of her dress, torn away from her bosom, bestrewed the bushes for many yards round about, there had been the trampling of feet, and a long lock of hair that had been torn from her temples, with the dews yet unmelted on it, was lying upon a plant of broom, a little way from the corpse. The first to lift the body from the horrid bed was Gilbert Adamson. He had been long familiar with death in all its ghastliness, and all had now looked to him forgetting for the moment that he was the father of the murderer to perform the task from which they recoiled in horror. Resting on one knee, he placed the corpse on the other and who could have believed, that even the most violent and cruel death could have wrought such a change on a face once so beautiful! All was distortion and terrible it was to see the dim glazed eyes, fixedly open, and the orbs insensible to the strong sun that smote her face white as snow among the streaks as if left by bloody fingers! Her throat was all discoloured and a silk handkerchief twisted into a cord, that had manifestly been used in the murder, was of a redder hue than when it had veiled her breast. No one knows what horror his eyes are able to look on, till they are tried. A circle of stupefied gazers was drawn by a horrid fascination closer and closer round the corpse and women stood there holding children by the hands, and fainted not, but observed the sight, and shuddered without shrieking, and stood there all dumb as ghosts. But the body was now borne along by many hands at first none knew in what direction, till many voices muttered, “To Moorside to Moorside” and in an hour it was laid on the bed in which Margaret Burnside had so often slept with her beloved little Ann in her bosom.

The hand of some one had thrown a cloth over the corpse. The room was filled with people but all their power and capacity of horror had been exhausted and the silence was now almost like that which attends a natural death, when all the neighbours are assembled for the funeral. Alice, with little Ann beside her, kneeled at the bed, nor feared to lay her head close to the covered corpse sobbing out syllables that showed how passionately she prayed and that she and her little niece and, oh! for that unhappy father were delivering themselves up into the hands of God. That father knelt not neither did he sit down nor move nor groan but stood at the foot of the bed, with arms folded almost sternly and with his eyes fixed on the sheet, in which there seemed to be neither ruth nor dread but only an austere composure, which, were it indeed but resignation to that dismal decree of Providence, had been most sublime but who can see into the heart of a man either righteous or wicked, and know what may be passing there, breathed from the gates of heaven or of hell!

Soon as the body had been found, shepherds and herdsmen, fleet of foot as the deer, had set off to scour the country far and wide, hill and glen, mountain and morass, moor and wood, for the murderer. If he be on the face of the earth, and not self-plunged in despairing suicide into some quagmire, he will be found for all the population of many districts are now afoot, and precipices are clomb till now brushed but by the falcons. A figure, like that of a man, is seen by some of the hunters from a hill-top, lying among the stones by the side of a solitary loch. They separate, and descend upon him, and then, gathering in, they behold the man whom they seek Ludovic Adamson, the murderer.

His face is pale and haggard, yet flushed as if by a fever centred in his heart. That is no dress for the Sabbath-day soiled and savage-looking, and giving to the eyes that search an assurance of guilt. He starts to his feet, as they think, like some wild beast surprised in his lair, and gathering itself up to fight or fly. But strange enormity a Bible is in his hand! And the shepherd who first seized him, taking the book out of his grasp, looks into the page, and reads, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” On a leaf is written, in her own well-known hand, “The gift of Margaret Burnside!” Not a word is said by his captors they offer no needless violence no indignities but answer all inquiries of surprise and astonishment (O! can one so young be so hardened in wickedness!) by a stern silence and upbraiding eyes, that like daggers must stab his heart. At last he walks doggedly and sullenly along, and refuses to speak; yet his tread is firm there is no want of composure in his face, now that the first passion of fear or anger has left it; and now that they have the murderer in their clutch, some begin almost to pity him, and others to believe, or at least to hope, that he may be innocent. As yet they have said not a word of the crime of which they accuse him; but let him try to master the expression of his voice and his eyes as he may, guilt is in those stealthy glances guilt is in those reckless tones. And why does he seek to hide his right hand in his bosom? And whatever he may affect to say they ask him not most certainly that stain on his shirt-collar is blood. But now they are at Moorside.

There is still a great crowd all round about the house in the garden and at the door and a troubled cry announces that the criminal has been taken, and is close at hand. His father meets him at the gate; and, kneeling down, holds up his clasped hands, and says, “My son, if thou art guilty, confess, and die.” The criminal angrily waves his father aside, and walks towards the door. “Fools! fools! what mean ye by this? What crime has been committed? And how dare ye to think me the criminal? Am I like a murderer?” “We never spoke to him of the murder we never spoke to him of the murder!” cried one of the men who now held him by the arm; and all assembled then exclaimed, “Guilty, guilty that one word will hang him! O, pity, pity, for his father and poor sister this will break their hearts!” Appalled, yet firm of foot, the prisoner forced his way into the house; and turning, in his confusion, into the chamber on the left, there he beheld the corpse of the murdered on the bed for the sheet had been removed as yet not laid out, and disfigured and deformed just as she had been found on the moor, in the same misshapen heap of death! One long insane glare one shriek, as if all his heartstrings at once had burst and then down fell the strong man on the floor like lead. One trial was past which no human hardihood could endure another, and yet another, awaits him; but them he will bear as the guilty brave have often borne them, and the most searching eye shall not see him quail at the bar or on the scaffold.

They lifted the stricken wretch from the floor, placed him in a chair, and held him upright, till he should revive from the fit. And he soon did revive; for health flowed in all his veins, and he had the strength of a giant. But when his senses returned, there was none to pity him; for the shock had given an expression of guilty horror to all his looks, and, like a man walking in his sleep under the temptation of some dreadful dream, he moved with fixed eyes towards the bed, and looking at the corpse, gabbled in hideous laughter, and then wept and tore his hair like a distracted woman or a child. Then he stooped down as he would kiss the face, but staggered back, and, covering his eyes with his hands, uttered such a groan as is sometimes heard rending the sinner’s breast when the avenging Furies are upon him in his dreams. All who heard it felt that he was guilty; and there was a fierce cry through the room of, “Make him touch the body, and if he be the murderer, it will bleed!” “Fear not, Ludovic, to touch it, my boy,” said his father; “bleed afresh it will not, for thou art innocent; and savage though now they be who once were proud to be thy friends, even they will believe thee guiltless when the corpse refuses to bear witness against thee, and not a drop leaves its quiet heart!” But his son spake not a word, nor did he seem to know that his father had spoken; but he suffered himself to be led passively towards the bed. One of the bystanders took his hand and placed it on the naked breast, when out of the corners of the teeth-clenched mouth, and out of the swollen nostrils, two or three blood-drops visibly oozed; and a sort of shrieking shout declared the sacred faith of all the crowd in the dreadful ordeal. “What body is this? ’tis all over blood!” said the prisoner, looking with an idiot vacancy on the faces that surrounded him. But now the sheriff of the county entered the room, along with some officers of justice, and he was spared any further shocks from that old saving superstition. His wrists soon after were manacled. These were all the words he had uttered since he recovered from the fit; and he seemed now in a state of stupor.

Ludovic Adamson, after examination of witnesses who crowded against him from many unexpected quarters, was committed that very Sabbath night to prison on a charge of murder. On the Tuesday following, the remains of Margaret Burnside were interred. All the parish were at the funeral. In Scotland it is not customary for females to join in the last simple ceremonies of death. But in this case they did; and all her scholars, in the same white dresses in which they used to walk with her at their head into the kirk on Sabbaths, followed the bier. Alice and little Ann were there, nearest the coffin, and the father of him who had wrought all this woe was one of its supporters. The head of the murdered girl rested, it might be said, on his shoulder but none can know the strength which God gives to his servants and all present felt for him, as he walked steadily under that dismal burden, a pity, and even an affection, which they had been unable to yield to him ere he had been so sorely tried. The Ladies from the Castle were among the other mourners, and stood by the open grave. A sunnier day had never shone from heaven, and that very grave itself partook of the brightness, as the coffin with the gilt letters, “Margaret Burnside, Aged 18” was let down, and in the darkness below disappeared. No flowers were sprinkled there, nor afterwards planted on the turf vain offerings, of unavailing sorrow! But in that nook beside the bodies of her poor parents she was left for the grass to grow over her, as over the other humble dead; and nothing but the very simplest headstone was placed there, with a sentence from Scripture below the name. There was less weeping, less sobbing, than at many other funerals; for as sure as Mercy ruled the skies, all believed that she was there all knew it, just as if the gates of heaven had opened and showed her a white-robed spirit at the right hand of the throne. And why should any rueful lamentation have been wailed over the senseless dust? But on the way home over the hills, and in the hush of evening beside their hearths, and in the stillness of night on their beds all young and old all did nothing but weep.

For weeks such was the pity, grief, and awe inspired by this portentous crime and lamentable calamity, that all the domestic ongoings in all the houses far and wide, were melancholy and mournful, as if the country had been fearing a visitation of the plague. Sin, it was felt, had brought not only sorrow on the parish, but shame that ages would not wipe away; and strangers, as they travelled through the moor, would point the place where the foulest murder had been committed in all the annals of crime. As for the family at Moorside, the daughter had their boundless compassion, though no eye had seen her since the funeral; but people, in speaking of the father, would still shake their heads, and put their fingers to their lips, and say to one another in whispers, that Gilbert Adamson had once been a bold, bad man that his religion, in spite of all his repulsive austerity, wore not the aspect of truth and that, had he held a stricter and a stronger hand on the errors of his misguided son, this foul deed had not been perpetrated, nor that wretched sinner’s soul given to perdition. Yet others had gentler and humaner thoughts. They remembered him walking along God-supported beneath the bier and at the mouth of the grave and feared to look on that head formerly grizzled, but now quite grey when on the very first Sabbath after the murder he took his place in the elders’ seat, and was able to stand up, along with the rest of the congregation, when the minister prayed for peace to his soul, and hoped for the deliverance out of jeopardy of him now lying in bonds. A low Amen went all round the kirk at these words; for the most hopeless called to mind that maxim of law, equity, and justice that every man under accusation of crime should be held innocent till he is proved to be guilty. Nay, a human tribunal might condemn him, and yet might he stand acquitted before the tribunal of God.

There were various accounts of the behaviour of the prisoner. Some said that he was desperately hardened others, sunk in sullen apathy and indifference and one or two persons belonging to the parish who had seen him declared that he seemed to care not for himself, but to be plunged in profound melancholy for the fate of Margaret Burnside, whose name he involuntarily mentioned, and then bowed his head on his knees and wept. His guilt he neither admitted at that interview, nor denied; but he confessed that some circumstances bore hard against him, and that he was prepared for the event of his trial condemnation and death. “But if you are not guilty, Ludovic, who can be the murderer? Not the slightest shade of suspicion has fallen on any other person and did not, alas! the body bleed when” The unhappy wretch sprang up from the bed, it was said, at these words, and hurried like a madman back and forward along the stone floor of his cell. “Yea yea!” at last he cried, “the mouth and nostrils of my Margaret did indeed bleed when they pressed down my hand on her cold bosom. It is God’s truth!” “God’s truth?” “Yes God’s truth, I saw first one drop, and then another, trickle towards me and I prayed to our Saviour to wipe them off before other eyes might behold the dreadful witnesses against me; but at that hour Heaven was most unmerciful for those two small drops as all of you saw soon became a very stream and all her face, neck, and breast you saw it as well as I miserable were at last drenched in blood. Then I may have confessed that I was guilty did I, or did I not, confess it? Tell me for I remember nothing distinctly; but if I did the judgment of offended Heaven, then punishing me for my sins, had made me worse than mad and so had all your abhorrent eyes; and men, if I did confess, it was the cruelty of God that drove me to it and your cruelty which was great; for no pity had any one for me that day, though Margaret Burnside lay before me a murdered corpse and a hoarse whisper came to my ear urging me to confess I well believe from no human lips, but from the Father of Lies, who, at that hour, was suffered to leave the pit to ensnare my soul.” Such was said to have been the main sense of what he uttered in the presence of two or three who had formerly been among his most intimate friends, and who knew not, on leaving his cell and coming into the open air, whether to think him innocent or guilty. As long as they thought they saw his eyes regarding them, and that they heard his voice speaking, they believed him innocent; but when the expression of the tone of his voice, and of the look of his eyes which they had felt belonged to innocence died away from their memory then arose against him the strong, strange, circumstantial evidence, which, wisely or unwisely, lawyers and judges have said cannot lie and then, in their hearts, one and all of them pronounced him guilty.

But had not his father often visited the prisoner’s cell? Once and once only; for in obedience to his son’s passionate prayer, beseeching him if there were any mercy left either on earth or in heaven never more to enter that dungeon, the miserable parent had not again entered the prison; but he had been seen one morning at dawn, by one who knew his person, walking round and round the walls, staring up at the black building in distraction, especially at one small grated window in the north tower and it is most probable that he had been pacing his rounds there during all the night. Nobody could conjecture, however dimly, what was the meaning of his banishment from his son’s cell. Gilbert Adamson, so stern to others, even to his own only daughter, had been always but too indulgent to his Ludovic and had that lost wretch’s guilt, so exceeding great, changed his heart into stone, and made the sight of his old father’s grey hairs hateful to his eyes? But then the jailor, who had heard him imploring beseeching commanding his father to remain, till after the trial, at Moorside, said, that all the while the prisoner sobbed and wept like a child; and that when he unlocked the door of the cell, to let the old man out, it was a hard thing to tear away the arms and hands of Ludovic from his knees, while the father sat like a stone image on the bed, and kept his tearless eyes fixed sternly upon the wall, as if not a soul had been present, and he himself had been a criminal condemned next day to die.

The father had obeyed, religiously, that miserable injunction, and from religion it seemed he had found comfort. For Sabbath after Sabbath he was at the kirk he stood, as he had been wont to do for years, at the poor’s plate, and returned grave salutations to those who dropt their mite into the small sacred treasury his eyes calmly, and even critically, regarded the pastor during prayer and sermon and his deep bass voice was heard, as usual, through all the house of God, in the Psalms. On week-days he was seen by passers-by to drive his flocks afield, and to overlook his sheep on the hill-pastures, or in the pen-fold; and as it was still spring, and seed-time had been late this season, he was observed holding the plough, as of yore; nor had his skill deserted him for the furrows were as straight as if drawn by a rule on paper and soon bright and beautiful was the braird on all the low lands of his farm. The Comforter was with him, and, sorely as he had been tried, his heart was not yet wholly broken; and it was believed that, for years, he might outlive the blow that at first had seemed more than a mortal man might bear and be! Yet that his woe, though hidden, was dismal, all ere long knew, from certain tokens that intrenched his face cheeks shrunk and fallen; brow not so much furrowed as scarred; eyes quenched; hair thinner and thinner far, as if he himself had torn it away in handfuls during the solitude of midnight and now absolutely as white as snow; and over the whole man an indescribable ancientness far beyond his years though they were many, and most of them had been passed in torrid climes all showed how grief has its agonies as destructive as those of guilt, and those the most wasting when they work in the heart and in the brain, unrelieved by the shedding of one single tear when the very soul turns dry as dust, and life is imprisoned, rather than mingled, in the decaying the mouldering body!

The Day of Trial came, and all labour was suspended in the parish, as if it had been a mourning fast. Hundreds of people from this remote district poured into the circuit-town, and besieged the court-house. Horsemen were in readiness, soon as the verdict should be returned, to carry the intelligence of life or death to all those glens. A few words will suffice to tell the trial, the nature of the evidence, and its issue. The prisoner, who stood at the bar in black, appeared though miserably changed from a man of great muscular power and activity, a magnificent man, into a tall thin shadow perfectly unappalled; but in a face so white, and wasted, and woe-begone, the most profound physiognomist could read not one faintest symptom either of hope or fear, trembling or trust, guilt or innocence. He hardly seemed to belong to this world, and stood fearfully and ghastlily conspicuous between the officers of justice, above all the crowd that devoured him with their eyes, all leaning towards the bar to catch the first sound of his voice, when to the indictment he should plead “Not Guilty.” These words he did utter, in a hollow voice altogether passionless, and then was suffered to sit down, which he did in a manner destitute of all emotion. During all the many long hours of his trial, he never moved head, limbs, or body, except once, when he drank some water, which he had not asked for, but which was given to him by a friend. The evidence was entirely circumstantial, and consisted of a few damning facts, and of many of the very slightest sort, which, taken singly, seemed to mean nothing, but which, when considered all together, seemed to mean something against him how much or how little, there were among the agitated audience many differing opinions. But slight as they were, either singly or together, they told fearfully against the prisoner, when connected with the fatal few which no ingenuity could ever explain away; and though ingenuity did all it could do, when wielded by eloquence of the highest order and as the prisoner’s counsel sat down, there went a rustle and a buzz through the court, and a communication of looks and whispers, that seemed to denote that there were hopes of his acquittal yet, if such hopes there were, they were deadened by the recollection of the calm, clear, logical address to the jury by the counsel for the crown, and destroyed by the judge’s charge, which amounted almost to a demonstration of guilt, and concluded with a confession due to his oath and conscience, that he saw not how the jury could do their duty to their Creator and their fellow-creatures, but by returning one verdict. They retired to consider it; and, during a deathlike silence, all eyes were bent on a deathlike Image.

It had appeared in evidence, that the murder had been committed, at least all the gashes inflicted for there were also finger-marks of strangulation with a bill-hook, such as foresters use in lopping trees; and several witnesses swore that the bill-hook which was shown them, stained with blood, and with hair sticking on the haft, belonged to Ludovic Adamson. It was also given in evidence though some doubts rested on the nature of the precise words that on that day, in the room with the corpse, he had given a wild and incoherent denial to the question then put to him in the din, “What he had done with the bill-hook?” Nobody had seen it in his possession since the spring before; but it had been found, after several weeks’ search, in a hag in the moss, in the direction that he would have most probably taken had he been the murderer when flying from the spot to the loch where he was seized. The shoes which he had on when taken, fitted the footmarks on the ground, not far from the place of the murder, but not so perfectly as another pair which were found in the house. But that other pair, it was proved, belonged to the old man; and therefore the correspondence between the footmarks and the prisoner’s shoes, though not perfect, was a circumstance of much suspicion. But a far stronger fact, in this part of the evidence, was sworn to against the prisoner. Though there was no blood on his shoes, when apprehended his legs were bare though that circumstance, strange as it may seem, had never been noticed till he was on the way to prison! His stockings had been next day found lying on the sward, near the shore of the loch, manifestly after having been washed, and laid out to dry in the sun. At mention of this circumstance a cold shudder ran through the court; but neither that, nor indeed any other circumstance in the evidence not even the account of the appearance which the murdered body exhibited when found on the moor, or when afterwards laid on the bed extorted from the prisoner one groan one sigh or touched the imperturbable deathliness of his countenance. It was proved, that when searched in prison, and not before (for the agitation that reigned over all assembled in the room at Moorside that dreadful day, had confounded even those accustomed to deal with suspected criminals) there were found in his pocket a small French gold watch, and also a gold brooch, which the Ladies of the Castle had given to Margaret Burnside. On these being taken from him, he had said nothing, but looked aghast. A piece of torn and bloody paper, which had been picked up near the body, was sworn to be in his handwriting; and though the meaning of the words yet legible was obscure, they seemed to express a request that Margaret would meet him on the moor on that Saturday afternoon she was murdered. The words “Saturday” “meet me” “last time” were not indistinct, and the paper was of the same quality and colour with some found in a drawer in his bedroom at Moorside. It was proved that he had been drinking with some dissolute persons poachers and the like in a public-house in a neighbouring parish all Saturday, till well on in the afternoon, when he left them in a state of intoxication and was then seen running along the hill-side in the direction of the moor. Where he passed the night between the Saturday and the Sabbath, he could give no account, except once when unasked, and as if speaking to himself, he was overheard by the jailor to mutter, “Oh! that fatal night that fatal night!” And then, when suddenly interrogated, “Where were you?” he answered, “Asleep on the hill;” and immediately relapsed into a state of mental abstraction. These were the chief circumstances against him, which his counsel had striven to explain away. That most eloquent person dwelt with affecting earnestness on the wickedness of putting any evil construction on the distracted behaviour of the wretched man when brought without warning upon the sudden sight of the mangled corpse of the beautiful girl, whom all allowed he had most passionately and tenderly loved; and he strove to prove as he did prove to the conviction of many that such behaviour was incompatible with such guilt, and almost of itself established his innocence. All that was sworn to against him, as having passed in that dreadful room, was in truth for him unless all our knowledge of the best and of the worst of human nature were not, as folly, to be given to the winds. He beseeched the jury, therefore, to look at all the other circumstances that did indeed seem to bear hard upon the prisoner, in the light of his innocence, and not of his guilt, and that they would all fade into nothing. What mattered his possession of the watch and other trinkets? Lovers as they were, might not the unhappy girl have given them to him for temporary keepsakes? Or might he not have taken them from her in some playful mood, or received them (and the brooch was cracked, and the mainspring of the watch broken, though the glass was whole) to get them repaired in the town, which he often visited, and she never? Could human credulity for one moment believe, that such a man as the prisoner at the bar had been sworn to be by a host of witnesses and especially by that witness, who, with such overwhelming solemnity, had declared he loved him as his own son, and would have been proud if Heaven had given him such a son he who had baptised him, and known him well ever since a child that such a man could rob the body of her whom he had violated and murdered? If, under the instigation of the devil, he had violated and murdered her, and for a moment were made the hideous supposition, did vast hell hold that demon whose voice would have tempted the violator and murderer suppose him both yea, that man at the bar sworn to by all the parish, if need were, as a man of tenderest charities, and generosity unbounded in the lust of lucre, consequent on the satiating of another lust to rob his victim of a few trinkets! Let loose the wildest imagination into the realms of wildest wickedness, and yet they dared not, as they feared God, to credit for a moment the union of such appalling and such paltry guilt, in that man who now trembled not before them, but who seemed cut off from all the sensibilities of this life by the scythe of Misery that had shorn him down! But why try to recount, however feebly, the line of defence taken by the speaker, who on that day seemed all but inspired? The sea may overturn rocks, or fire consume them till they split in pieces; but a crisis there sometimes is in man’s destiny, which all the powers ever lodged in the lips of man, were they touched with a coal from heaven, cannot avert, and when even he who strives to save, feels and knows that he is striving all in vain ay, vain as a worm to arrest the tread of Fate about to trample down its victim into the dust. All hoped many almost believed that the prisoner would be acquitted that a verdict of “Not Proven,” at least, if not of “Not Guilty,” would be returned; but they had not been sworn to do justice before man and before God and, if need were, to seal up even the fountains of mercy in their hearts flowing, and easily set a-flowing, by such a spectacle as that bar presented a man already seeming to belong unto the dead!

In about a quarter of an hour the jury returned to the box and the verdict, having been sealed with black wax, was handed up to the Judge, who read, “We unanimously find the prisoner Guilty.” He then stood up to receive sentence of death. Not a dry eye was in the court during the Judge’s solemn and affecting address to the criminal except those of the Shadow on whom had been pronounced the doom. “Your body will be hung in chains on the moor on a gibbet erected on the spot where you murdered the victim of your unhallowed lust, and there will your bones bleach in the sun, and rattle in the wind, after the insects and the birds of the air have devoured your flesh; and in all future times, the spot on which, God-forsaking and God-forsaken, you perpetrated that double crime, at which all humanity shudders, will be looked on from afar by the traveller passing through that lonesome wild with a sacred horror!” Here the voice of the Judge faltered, and he covered his face with his hands; but the prisoner stood unmoved in figure, and in face untroubled and when all was closed, was removed from the bar, the same ghostlike and unearthly phantom, seemingly unconscious of what had passed, or even of his own existence.

Surely now he will suffer his old father to visit him in his cell! “Once more only only once more let me see him before I die!” were his words to the clergyman of the parish, whose Manse he had so often visited when a young and happy boy. That servant of Christ had not forsaken him whom now all the world had forsaken. As free from sin himself as might be mortal and fallen man mortal because fallen he knew from Scripture and from nature, that in “the lowest deep there is still a lower deep” in wickedness, into which all of woman born may fall, unless held back by the arm of the Almighty Being, whom they must serve steadfastly in holiness and truth. He knew, too, from the same source, that man cannot sin beyond the reach of God’s mercy if the worst of all imaginable sinners seek, in a Bible-breathed spirit at last, that mercy through the Atonement of the Redeemer. Daily and nightly he visited that cell; nor did he fear to touch the hand, now wasted to the bone, which, at the temptation of the Prince of the Air who is mysteriously suffered to enter in at the gates of every human heart that is guarded not by the flaming sword of God’s own Seraphim was lately drenched in the blood of the most innocent creature that ever looked on the day. Yet a sore trial it was to his Christianity to find the criminal so obdurate. He would make no confession. Yet said that it was fit that it was far best he should die that he deserved death! But ever when the deed without a name was alluded to, his tongue was tied; and once in the midst of an impassioned prayer, beseeching him to listen to conscience and confess he that prayed shuddered to behold him frown, and to hear bursting out in terrible energy, “Cease cease to torment me, or you will drive me to deny my God!”

No father came to visit him in his cell. On the day of trial he had been missing from Moorside, and was seen next morning (where he had been all night never was known, though it was afterwards rumoured that one like him had been seen sitting, as the gloaming darkened, on the very spot of the murder) wandering about the hills, hither and thither, and round and round about, like a man stricken with blindness, and vainly seeking to find his home. When brought into the house, his senses were gone, and he had lost the power of speech. All he could do was to mutter some disjointed syllables, which he did continually, without one moment’s cessation, one unintelligible and most rueful moan! The figure of his daughter seemed to cast no image on his eyes blind and dumb he sat where he had been placed, perpetually wringing his hands, with his shaggy eyebrows drawn high up his forehead, and the fixed orbs though stone-blind at least to all real things beneath them flashing fire. He had borne up bravely almost to the last but had some tongue syllabled his son’s doom in the solitude, and at that instant had insanity smitten him?

Such utter prostration of intellect had been expected by none; for the old man, up to the very night before the Trial, had expressed the most confident trust of his son’s acquittal. Nothing had ever served to shake his conviction of his innocence though he had always forborne speaking about the circumstances of the murder and had communicated to nobody any of the grounds on which he more than hoped in a case so hopeless; and though a trouble in his eyes often gave the lie to his lips, when he used to say to the silent neighbours, “We shall soon see him back at Moorside.” Had his belief in his Ludovic’s innocence, and his trust in God that that innocence would be established and set free, been so sacred, that the blow, when it did come, struck him like a hammer, and felled him to the ground, from which he had risen with a riven brain? In whatever way the shock had been given, it had been terrible; for old Gilbert Adamson was now a confirmed lunatic, and keepers were in Moorside not keepers from a mad-house, for his daughter could not afford such tendence but two of her brother’s friends, who sat up with him alternately, night and day, while the arms of the old man, in his distraction, had to be bound with cords. That dreadful moaning was at an end now; but the echoes of the hills responded to his yells and shrieks; and people were afraid to go near the house. It was proposed among the neighbours to take Alice and little Ann out of it, and an asylum for them was in the Manse; but Alice would not stir at all their entreaties; and as, in such a case, it would have been too shocking to tear her away by violence, she was suffered to remain with him who knew her not, but who often it was said stared distractedly upon her, as if she had been some fiend sent in upon his insanity from the place of punishment. Weeks passed on, and still she was there hiding herself at times from those terrifying eyes; and from her watching corner, waiting from morn till night, and from night till morn for she seldom lay down to sleep, and had never undressed herself since that fatal sentence for some moment of exhausted horror, when she might steal out, and carry some slight gleam of comfort, however evanescent, to the glimmer or the gloom in which the brain of her father swam through a dream of blood. But there were no lucid intervals; and ever as she moved towards him, like a pitying angel, did he furiously rage against her, as if she had been a fiend. At last, she who, though yet so young, had lived to see the murdered corpse of her dearest friend murdered by her own only brother, whom, in secret, that murdered maiden had most tenderly loved that murderous brother loaded with prison-chains, and condemned to the gibbet for inexpiable and unpardonable crimes her father raving like a demon, self-murderous were his hands but free, nor visited by one glimpse of mercy from Him who rules the skies after having borne more than, as she meekly said, had ever poor girl borne, she took to her bed quite heart-broken, and, the night before the day of execution, died. As for poor little Ann, she had been wiled away some weeks before; and in the blessed thoughtlessness of childhood, was not without hours of happiness among her playmates on the braes.

The Morning of that Day arose, and the Moor was all blackened with people round the tall gibbet, that seemed to have grown, with its horrid arms, out of the ground during the night. No sound of axes or hammers had been heard clinking during the dark hours nothing had been seen passing along the road; for the windows of all the houses from which anything could have been seen, had been shut fast against all horrid sights and the horses’ hoofs and the wheels must have been muffled that had brought that hideous Framework to the Moor. But there it now stood a dreadful Tree! The sun moved higher and higher up the sky, and all the eyes of that congregation were at once turned towards the east, for a dull sound, as of rumbling wheels and trampling feet, seemed shaking the Moor in that direction; and lo! surrounded with armed men on horseback, and environed with halberds, came on a cart, in which three persons seemed to be sitting, he in the middle all dressed in white the death-clothes of the murderer the unpitying shedder of most innocent blood.

There was no bell to toll there but at the very moment he was ascending the scaffold, a black cloud knelled thunder, and many hundreds of people all at once fell down upon their knees. The man in white lifted up his eyes, and said, “O Lord God of Heaven! and Thou his blessed Son, who died to save sinners! accept this sacrifice!”

Not one in all that immense crowd could have known that that white apparition was Ludovic Adamson. His hair, that had been almost jet-black, was now white as his face as his figure, dressed, as it seemed, for the grave. Are they going to execute the murderer in his shroud? Stone-blind, and stone-deaf, there he stood yet had he, without help, walked up the steps of the scaffold. A hymn of several voices arose the man of God close beside the criminal, with the Bible in his uplifted hands; but those bloodless lips had no motion with him this world was not, though yet he was in life in life, and no more! And was this the man who, a few months ago, flinging the fear of death from him, as a flash of sunshine flings aside the shades, had descended into that pit which an hour before had been bellowing, as the foul vapours exploded like cannons, and brought up the bodies of them who had perished in the womb of the earth? Was this he who once leapt into the devouring fire, and reappeared, after all had given over for lost the glorious boy, with an infant in his arms, while the flames seemed to eddy back, that they might scathe not the head of the deliverer, and a shower of blessings fell upon him as he laid it in its mother’s bosom, and made the heart of the widow to sing for joy? It is he. And now the executioner pulls down the cord from the beam, and fastens it round the criminal’s neck. His face is already covered, and that fatal handkerchief is in his hand. The whole crowd are now kneeling, and one multitudinous sob convulses the air; when wild outcries, and shrieks, and yells, are at that moment heard from the distant gloom of the glen that opens up to Moorside, and three figures, one far in advance of the others, come flying, as on the wings of the wind, towards the gibbet. Hundreds started to their feet, and “’Tis the maniac ’tis the lunatic!” was the cry. Precipitating himself down a rocky hill-side, that seemed hardly accessible but to the goats, the maniac, the lunatic, at a few desperate leaps and bounds, just as it was expected he would have been dashed in pieces, alighted unstunned upon the level greensward; and now, far ahead of his keepers, with incredible swiftness neared the scaffold and, the dense crowd making a lane for him in their fear and astonishment, he flew up the ladder to the horrid platform, and, grasping his son in his arms, howled dreadfully over him; and then with a loud voice cried, “Saved saved saved!”

So sudden had been that wild rush, that all the officers of justice the very executioner stood aghast; and now the prisoner’s neck is free from that accursed cord his face is once more visible without that hideous shroud and he sinks down senseless on the scaffold. “Seize him seize him!” and he was seized but no maniac, no lunatic, was the father now; for during the night, and during the dawn, and during the morn, and on to mid-day on to the HOUR OF ONE when all rueful preparations were to be completed had Providence been clearing and calming the tumult in that troubled brain; and as the cottage clock struck ONE, memory brightened at the chime into a perfect knowledge of the past, and prophetic imagination saw the future lowering upon the dismal present. All night long, with the cunning of a madman for all night long he had still been mad the miserable old man had been disengaging his hands from the manacles, and that done, springing like a wild beast from his cage, he flew out of the open door, nor could a horse’s speed on that fearful road have overtaken him before he reached the scaffold.

No need was there to hold the miserable man. He who had been so furious in his manacles at Moorside, seemed now, to the people at a distance, calm as when he used to sit in the elders’ seat beneath the pulpit in that small kirk. But they who were on or near the scaffold saw something horrid in the fixedness of his countenance. “Let go your hold of me, ye fools!” he muttered to some of the mean wretches of the law, who still had him in their clutch and tossing his hands on high, cried with a loud voice, “Give ear, ye Heavens! and hear, O Earth! I am the Violator I am the Murderer!”

The moor groaned as in earthquake and then all that congregation bowed their heads with a rustling noise, like a wood smitten by the wind. Had they heard aright the unimaginable confession? His head had long been grey he had reached the term allotted to man’s mortal life here below threescore and ten. Morning and evening, never had the Bible been out of his hands at the hour set apart for family worship. And who so eloquent as he in expounding its most dreadful mysteries? The unregenerate heart of man, he had ever said in scriptural phrase was “desperately wicked.” Desperately wicked indeed! And now again he tossed his arms wrathfully so the wild motion looked in the wrathful skies. “I ravished I murdered her ye know it, ye evil spirits in the depths of hell!” Consternation now fell on the minds of all and the truth was clear as light and all eyes knew at once that now indeed they looked on the murderer. The dreadful delusion under which all their understandings had been brought by the power of circumstances, was by that voice destroyed the obduracy of him who had been about to die was now seen to have been the most heroic virtue the self-sacrifice of a son, to save a father from ignominy and death.

“O monster, beyond the reach of redemption! and the very day after the murder, while the corpse was lying in blood on the Moor, he was with us in the House of God! Tear him in pieces rend him limb from limb tear him into a thousand pieces!” “The Evil One had power given him to prevail against me, and I fell under the temptation. It was so written in the Book of Predestination, and the deed lies at the door of God!” “Tear the blasphemer into pieces! Let the scaffold drink his blood!” “So let it be, if it be so written, good people! Satan never left me since the murder till this day he sat by my side in the kirk when I was ploughing in the field there ever as I came back from the other end of the furrow he stood on the head-rig in the shape of a black shadow. But now I see him not he has returned to his den in the pit. I cannot imagine what I have been doing, or what has been done to me, all the time between the day of trial and this of execution. Was I mad? No matter. But you shall not hang Ludovic he, poor boy, is innocent; here, look at him here I tell you again is the Violator and the Murderer!”

But shall the men in authority dare to stay the execution at a maniac’s words? If they dare not that multitude will, now all rising together like the waves of the sea. “Cut the cords asunder that bind our Ludovic’s arms” a thousand voices cried; and the murderer, unclasping a knife, that, all unknown to his keepers, he had worn in his breast when a maniac, sheared them asunder as the sickle shears the corn. But his son stirred not and on being lifted up by his father, gave not so much as a groan. His heart had burst and he was dead. No one touched the grey-headed murderer, who knelt down not to pray, but to look into his son’s eyes and to examine his lips and to feel his left breast and to search out all the symptoms of a fainting-fit, or to assure himself and many a corpse had the plunderer handled on the field after hush of the noise of battle that this was death. He rose; and standing forward on the edge of the scaffold, said, with a voice that shook not, deep, strong, hollow, and hoarse “Good people! I am likewise now the murderer of my daughter and of my son! and of myself!” Next moment, the knife was in his heart and he fell down a corpse on the corpse of his Ludovic. All round the sultry horizon the black clouds had for hours been gathering and now came the thunder and the lightning and the storm. Again the whole multitude prostrated themselves on the moor and the Pastor, bending over the dead bodies, said,

“THIS IS EXPIATION!”