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SCardiff Education Committee
T ^/i ^ /^^ School.
REGULAR & PUNCTUAL ATTENDANCE
at School during the Year 1906.
No. of Attendances made
No. of Absences
SR/ Head Teacher.
J. J. JACKSON,
Director of Education.
The Baldwin Library
Thre lay stone-dead. PAG
Tlhe re lay Obeah-Jack, stone-dead. PhGE 264.
SWEPT OUT TO
AUTHOR OF 'PRISONER AMONG PIRATES;' 'COSSACK AND CZAR;' 'VANISHED;'
'THE WIZARD KING:' ETC.
WITH SIX ILLUSTRATIONS
J. AYTON SYMING-TON
W. & R. CHAMBERS, LIMITED
LONDON AND EDINBURGH
Printed by W. & R. Chambers. Limited.
I. SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES................................... 7
II. A HORRID MAN....................... ....... ................. 15
III. MISSING.......................... .......... ........ ........ 22
IV. GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY......... ........................... 32
V. A ROMAN FATHER ................................... ....... 43
VI. CUT OFF.................................. ..... ... .................. 48
VII. FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST.............. ............... 56
VIII. BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS............... 62
IX. A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH................... 75
X. IN A CITY OF DWARFS...........................................82
XI. MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.................................. 91
XII. AT THE END OF THE WORLD..................................103
XIII. THE BEGINNING OF ALONG VOYAGE.....................113
XIV. THE MYSTERIOUS BELL........................................123
XV. A NIGHT IN THE DEEP........................................129
XVI. WHAT THE DAY BROUGHT..................................135
XVII. THE STRANGE VESSEL.................. .......................140
XVIII. OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE.. ............148
XIX. A LISTENER IN SPITE OF HERSELF........................158
XX. FOUR AGAINST FOURTEEN....................................164
XXI. THE LAST MORSEL OF FOOD....................................175
XXII. WESTWARD HO I............................... ...................182
XXIII. WHAT TOM WICKHAM THOUGHT OF THE WEST
INDIES.................. .... .... .... ....... .......... .......189
XXIV. ON THE PITCH LAKE........................................201
XXV. THE DISMAL SWAMP................... ...................209
XXVI. A GRIM FELLOW-PASSENGER.................................215
XXVII. IN PRISON................. ....... ................................222
XXVIII. THE THREE MYSTIC SIGNS ....................................239
XXIX. NEWS OF SIR FREDERICK. ....................................247
XXX. NEW TALES OF AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE...................256
XXXL MET AT MIDNIGHT............................... .........266
XXXII. A MEMORABLE EASTER EVE...................................277
XXXIII. THE LIFELESS SEA..................... ..........................289
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
There lay Obeah-Jack, stone-dead....................Frontispiece.
At last they both reached the foot of the cliff safe and sound..... 51
'I may just as well go too,' and a third splash accom-
panied his words..................................................... .... 79
'Here, Trevenna, come and see what you make of this
craft.'....................... .. ....... .......... .... ... 140
The spike of the boat-hook struck home and he fell head-
long down the ladder....................................................173
'Hi, Johnny !' halloed Tom, is this the right road to Maraccas
Bay ? '............................................. ..........................229
L J -- :-- "^ l! : i
SWEPT OUT TO SEA.
SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.
'S gane he's drooned !'
'Puir laddie the Lord hae mercy on him !'
'Na, na, Tam, he's no drooned yet; I
can see him noo.'
'Where ?-where? I can see naething!'
'Yonder, man-straucht in a line wi' yon muckle (big)
rock. D' ye no see his heid aboon the water ?'
'Ay, I see him fine noo God be praised!'
He winna keep up lang, though; nae livin' man could
do 't in sic' a sea as yon !'
'Will they no mak' haste wi' the boat? They'll let the
man droon before their faces, while they're haverin'!' (shilly-
Such were the' shouts that flew from mouth to mouth
through the crowd that stood massed, on a gusty, stormy
afternoon the later spring, along the winding shore of
Mainland (the largest of the Shetland Isles), a few hundred
yards beyond the point from which the small gray stone
SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.
houses and quaint little toy fort of Lerwick-the tiny
metropolis of the Archipelago-looked forth across the strait
that divided it from the smaller island of Bressay, the vast
black precipices of which towered up like a giant wall along
the farther shore.
Every class of the population was represented in that
jostling, shouting throng. Brown, burly, red-capped fisher-
men; stalwart, hard-faced sailors in rough Flushing jackets;
lanky, yellow-haired 'prentice-lads from the shops in the
town, elbowing their masters in the general confusion; bare-
footed native women in short blue skirts, with coloured
handkerchiefs wound turban-fashion round their weather-
beaten faces; ruddy children, staring at the universal bustle
with eyes as round as saucers; the parish schoolmaster
himself, in his low-crowned hat and well-worn black coat;
and, last but not least, a group of tourists brought by the
weekly mail-steamer from the south, who, though the furious
wind almost tore the hair from their heads, and the squall
seemed likely to melt ere long in torrents of rain, kept their
ground manfully on the crest of a low ridge that commanded
a full view of the startling scene which was causing such
For that excitement, in truth, there was only too much
reason. Amid the white leaping hills of water that surged
and roared below, the head of a man, dimly seen through
a whirlwind of flying spray, was appearing and vanishing
by turns. Twice had the raging sea engulfed him altogether,
and twice had he risen again just as all thought him lost
for ever; but although he was still battling for his life as
stoutly as man could do, it was plainly beyond his power
to fight his way to the shore without help-and there was
no help at hand.
A stranger might have wondered, indeed, hI it was
that among all these scores of bold and sturdy rn, whose
reckless courage was a proverb, not one seemed to be making
the slightest effort to save the victim who was perishing
SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.
before their very eyes by the same form of death which daily
threatened themselves. But this was only too easily
accounted for. Although nine-tenths of them were sailors
or fishermen, and although they were encircled by one of
the stormiest seas in the world, none of them could swim! *
The best two boatmen in the town, however-men who
could be trusted to achieve any task which it was possible
for human skill and courage to accomplish-had rushed off
at once to unmoor their boat; but she lay some distance off,
and would require some time to get her ready; and it seemed
only too probable that, before they could put off to his assist-
ance, the exhausted swimmer would have sunk to rise no more.
The doomed man who was thus face to face with apparently
certain death had not even the consolation of feeling that he
had lost his life (if lose it he must) in a good cause for he
had been thrown into this deadly peril solely by his own
foolish and headstrong rashness.
A trim little. yacht had anchored early that morning in
the roadstead of Lerwick; and her owner, who was of
course an Englishman (for, as an old Shetlander observed
with more truth than politeness, 'nae either man wad be sic
a fule'), had lost no time in setting himself to do the most
dangerous thing within reach-viz. to swim across the strait
which divided Bressay from Mainland.
This, even in the calmest weather, would have been no
safe or easy task; and it was now made absolutely impossible
by the unexpected bursting of one of those sudden storms
which make the northern seas so dangerous. Farther up
the sheltered strait, indeed, this would have mattered little;
but, as if the poor young fellow were fated to have everything
against him, he had unluckily chosen to start from a point
close to the southern entrance of Bressay Sound, into which
a furious s herly gale was piling the whole North Sea in
This may pgaps be altered now; but at the time of which I am
writing, I repeatedly found myself, while voyaging among the Shetland
Isles, the only swimmer in a whole boat's crew.-D. K.
SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.
a succession of mountain billows, which a line-of-battle ship
could not have resisted; and it soon became terribly manifest
that, so far from being able to cross the strait, the doomed
swimmer had no hope of even regaining the beach that he
had left barely a hundred yards behind him.
'Oh papa! must the poor man be drowned?' said a little
golden-haired girl of ten or eleven to a sturdy, fresh-coloured,
middle-aged man beside her, with tears of pity glistening,
in her bright blue eyes as she spoke.
'I'm afraid so, dear,' answered her father in a low voice,
as he stood watching the progress of the tragedy, with a
very grave look darkening slowly over his broad, good-
humoured face. 'His only chance is to be able to keep
afloat till the boat reaches him, and I fear there's not
much hope of that.'
A few paces to the right of the speakers stood another
group of lookers-on, who were evidently (like themselves)
visitors from England. They were three in number-two
men and a boy; and in each of the three any practised
reader of faces would have found much to interest him.
The boy was a pale, slim, delicate lad of thirteen, with a
downcast look and spiritless air very sad to see in one upon
whom life was just opening. The shorter of the two men
glanced at him from time to time with a look of compassion,
while the taller eyed him with a frown bf contemptuous
displeasure. The man who thus pitied him was a stranger
who had never seen his face till about a month before; and
the man who frowned upon him was-his own father !
The father's strong, bold, massive features, bronzed and
scarred though they were, bore a strange, mocking likeness
to the smooth, delicate face of his son; but his air of stern
and almost defiant confidence contrasted as strongly with
the latter's dejection as did the soldierly upright ess of the
man's towering figure (which might have servedpy painter
as a model for Hercules) with the drooping heal and nerve-
less limbs of the boy. i "
---- ---;i-~- "xFac*'-
SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.
The second man was fully half a head shorter than his
companion, and looked quite small and slight beside the
latter's giant frame; but a close observer would have noticed
that his spare, well-knit form was as sinewy and active as:
a deer-hound, and that his dark, worn, bearded face had
the calm, self-possessed firmness of one who had confronted
countless difficulties and dangers, and had overcome them all.
The behaviour of the two men was as different as their
appearance. The taller of the pair showed all the tokens
of violent agitation, setting his teeth, clenching his hands,
and beating his foot restlessly against the ground; but,
though evidently excited almost to madness by the peril
of the struggling man below, he made no sign of going to
the latter's assistance.
Not so his smaller comrade. For some moments he stood
gazing fixedly at the whirl of wild waters beneath him,
without uttering a word, or betraying the slightest emotion;
and then, turning suddenly away, he glided swiftly past the.
skirt of the crowd, and disappeared down the slope behind
The only person who seemed to notice his departure was
the little fair-haired girl already mentioned, who, with that
strange instinct by which a child will sometimes guess what
all the mature reason of its elders has failed to discern, felt,
without knowing why, that this weird drama of life and
death was about to take a new and unexpected turn.
Nor was she mistaken. A few minutes later, there broke
out a clamour of shouts and cries to which all the previous
uproar was nothing, while hands were pointed, and heads
bent eagerly forward, in the direction of the spot where the
ridge upon which Lerwick stands, shelving steeply down
towards the water's edge, ends at last in a narrow strip of
pebbly beach, dotted with three or four rude fisher-huts.
'Yond6e he gangs! God be wi' him-it's a fearsome
'Wha is 't, Sandy ? Is 't ane o' oor folk P'
12 SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.
'I dinna ken; but he's a bauld chiel (brave fellow), be
he wha he may.'
Then the tumult ceased as suddenly as it had arisen, and
all alike bent forward to watch, with clenched teeth and
throbbing hearts, the last and most thrilling scene of this
'Oh papa, papa!' cried the girl, clutching her father's
arm with both hands, 'there's somebody going out to try
and save the poor man! Oh, do you think he will?'
But her father, gazing down with quivering lips and
straining eyes into the savage sea below, found no voice
to answer her.
And, after that, not another word was spoken. In grim
silence the watching hundreds stood breathlessly awaiting
the issue of this single combat with death, upon which
were staked two human lives.
Again and again the small dark spot, which was all that
could be seen of this self-sacrificed hero, vanished utterly
amid the surging mountains of foam that leaped and
dashed around it; and the keenest eye in the terrified throng
sought it in vain. But it always reappeared once more
a few moments later; and every time it was farther out
from the beach than before.
It soon became plain to all that this bold swimmer,
whoever he might be, was slowly but surely nearing the
man whom he came to save; and three or four of the older
fishermen did not fail to note, with secret approval, that he
had taken the water just at a spot where a projecting point
of land would shield him a little from the fury of the sea,
and where, moreover, he would have the aid of a cross-
current setting from the shore in the direction whither he
Nearer-nearer-nearer still! The hardiest seamen held
their breath, and the English giant clenched his hands till
the knuckles grew white, while the ruddy faces of little
Golden-hair and her father became pale as death.
SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.
All at once the unknown hero rose full into view on the
crest of a mighty wave; and several of the spectators
(foremost among whom was the fair-haired child) at once
recognized him as the tall Englishman's grave, quiet
companion, who had been standing in the midst of them only
a few minutes before !
As he was whirled upward by the swing of the great
wave, the daring swimmer was seen to wave his hand-but
not toward the shore. For whom that salute was intended
soon became manifest; for at that moment another vast
billow bore aloft on its foaming crest the struggling yachts-
man whose rashness had caused all this trouble, and, across
that deadly interval, the perishing man and his would-be
rescuer caught a momentary glimpse of each other's faces.
He's a cool fallow, yon !' said a veteran sailor, with a grim
smile of approval; 'he can mak' signals even i' the grip o' death!'
But the signal so coolly and bravely made was not given
in vain. The exhausted yachtsman, seeing help so near,
plucked up heart again, and rallied his last strength to keep
afloat till his deliverer came.
'He'll don't! he'll don't cried a sturdy fisherman
excitedly. 'Noo, may the Lord grant that the either man
does na grip him!'
The last speaker uttered the very thought which was in
the mind of every one who heard him. That the brave
volunteer would succeed in reaching the drowning man now
appeared almost certain; but should the latter (as was only
too probable) cling to him in desperation, and thus fetter his
limbs, both must perish together.
A few moments more of breathless suspense, and then a
shout which seemed to shake the very earth told that the
daring rescuer had reached his man at last. But the cheer
instantly died away, and a shudder pulsed through the crowd
like an electric shock, as a solid wall of water, looming
larger, and darker, and higher every moment, was seen sweep-
ing in from the open sea.
14 SWALLOWED BY THE WAVES.
On it came, with the quiet, steady movement of over-
whelming strength, seeming to chase the lesser waves before
it with the mere terror of its coming. The boldest spectators
held their breath, as that dread thing approached in terrible
And now it was within a few paces of the doomed pair-
and now its foamy crest was hanging right over their heads
-and now there came a rush and a roar, a crash as if the
earth were split asunder, a blinding gust of spray !
When it cleared away, the two swimmers were gone/
A HORRID MAN.
O0 sudden and terrific was this catastrophe, that
it seemed literally to stun all who beheld it.
One quick gasp, like the in-drawn breath of
one in mortal pain, hissed through the crowd,
and then all was gloomy silence.
But all at once there came clear and loud through that
dead hush of despair the sound of a lusty, cheery shout,
which seemed to come from a small fishing-boat that was
nearing the scene of disaster from the shore; and the cheer
was instantly .echoed by an answering shout from a boat
belonging to the English yacht, which was coming up on the
other side as swiftly as four stout oarsmen could drive her.
At that sound every face in the throng was lifted, every
eye lighted up, and the crowd surged forward as one man;
for all knew at once that their fears were groundless, and
that the men whom they had thought dead were alive after
'They're a' richt; I see them baith !' cried an old fisher-
wife joyfully; 'and the bit boatie's close up to them noo!
The Lord be praised for His mercy !'
And many a deep voice from the crowd hoarsely echoed
It was even so. The two boats reached the scene of
action almost at the same moment, and the yacht's crew
A HORRID MAN.
carried off her helpless and unconscious owner to his own
vessel, while the Shetland boatmen bore back his rescuer-
exhausted and almost speechless, but still as calm and self-
possessed as ever-to the welcome of the shouting hundreds
that lined the shore.
As might be expected, the whole town was on tiptoe to
find out who the hero of this daring exploit was; but on this
point nothing could be learned by the most persevering
inquirers, foremost among whom was the stalwart, florid,
middle-aged gentleman who had the honour of being little
Golden-hair's father, and who was no less a personage than
Mr Democritus Cramwell, second master in the great English
public-school of Hollowdale.
Good Mrs Mattinson, the brisk, bustling, cheery hostess of
the one hotel which Lerwick then possessed, could only say
that this unknown hero had arrived a few days before, in
company with the tall Englishman and his son, and that all
three, having left their heavier luggage in her charge, had
started with a hand-bag apiece across the island to Scalloway,
a quaint little 'town' which still clusters around the ruined
castle of the same name, on the western shore of Mainland.
The party had only returned that afternoon; and from the
luggage itself nothing was to be learned, the wear-and-tear of
travel having completely obliterated the addresses.
This was all that could be gathered by the honest burghers
of Lerwick, and they were fain to content themselves with
escorting the mysterious champion to the door of his hotel,
having been with some difficulty restrained from carrying him
into it in triumph upon their brawny shoulders.
Evening had come at last, the crowd had dispersed,
and the sun was sinking as slowly as if conscious of the
absurdity of going to bed at all in these high latitudes, where
he would have to rise again in an hour or two at the farthest.
The tall soldier-like Englishman and his son had disappeared;
their renowned comrade was equally invisible; Mr Cramwell
was in his room, writing letters for the next mail; and his
A HORRID MAN.
rosy-cheeked daughter was sitting on a bench beside the door
of the hotel (with the setting sun casting a crown of glory
around her little golden head) deep in one of the tales of
adventure in which she delighted.
She had just reached the most thrilling part of the story,
where the hero, a young English officer, was defending, single-
handed, a mountain path in the Himalaya against a howling
swarm of dwarfish, hideous savages,' when a low, clear voice
said in her ear, in a slightly mocking tone:
'You like your literature strong, I see, Miss Cramwell.'
'How do you know my name?' asked the child, looking
round with some surprise at a short figure in a rough pea-
jacket (with a battered wideawake slouched over its eyes)
which had just appeared at her side as suddenly as if it had
risen through the earth.
'Well, I presume it's the same as your father's; and I've
met him before, though this is the first time that I have had
the pleasure of seeing you.'
'Really? Well, I didn't think he knew anybody up here.
But please don't call me "Miss Cramwell"-it sounds just like
being at school, you know. Everybody calls me Flo, only
my right name's Florimel, after a lady in Spenser's Faerie
Queene. There were two Florimels, a real one and a make-
up; and a lot of stupid people thought the make-up one ever
so much the prettiest of the two, and they admired her and
followed her about, till at last the real one happened to come
to the same place; and then'--
'And then,' broke in her companion, 'the result was what
it generally is, when truth is confronted with humbug:
Straightway, so soon as both together met,
Th' enchanted damsel vanished into nought;
Her snowy substance melted as with heat,
Nor of that goodly hue remained aught
Save th' empty girdle that about her waist was wrought.'
'Why, I declare you know it all by heart!' cried Flo,
looking up at him admiringly. I only wish I had a memory
A HORRID MAN.
like that; papa's always setting me to learn things by heart,
and I never can !'
'Well, perhaps you're none the worse for that; the most
perfect memory of that kind that I ever knew belonged to a
man who, if there had been a prize for the greatest fool,
would certainly have got it. I see it's one of Seymour Hardy's
books that you've got there; are you fond of his stories ?'
'Oh, they're splendid; I could read them all day long!'
cried the little woman enthusiastically; 'and he always
writes, too, just as if he had seen and done all the things he
talks about-and so he has, I suppose. Mustn't it be fine
to know him !'
Well, I'm not so sure about that,' said the pea-jacketed
gentleman. 'If I remember right, I've fallen in with him
once myself; and, so far as I can recollect, there was nothing
very remarkable about him; he looked pretty much like any
Oh, I wish you hadn't told me that!' said Flo regretfully.
'I always imagined him quite tall and grand, and immensely
strong-just like Wallace in The. Scottish Chiefs, you know,
or Amyas Leigh in Westward Ho /'
'Well, I hope that dreadful revelation will not spoil your
relish for his writings,' laughed Pea-jacket; 'but if it does,
here's something for you to read by way of a change-the
last number of Boys and Girls.'
He held out the gaily-bound monthly as he spoke; but at
the mention of its name Flo puckered her charming little
face into a most austere frown, and thrust the proffered
magazine pettishly away.
'I've nothing more to do with that,' she said emphatically;
'I used to take it in, but I never will again. The editor's a
horrid man, and I hate him!'
'Hollo!' cried Pea-jacket, startled by this sudden out-
burst, what has the poor editor done to bring down upon
himself such bitter hostility ? Surely he can't have been so
ill-advised as to reject a contribution of yours ?'
A HORRID MAN.'
Yes, that's just what he has done !' cried Flo indignantly,
in a tone clearly implying that such a misdeed was more than
enough to stamp the wretch who had been guilty of it as a
criminal of the deepest dye. 'I sent him quite a long story,
one that had taken me days and days to write; and, just
fancy! it came back the very next day, folded the wrong
way so that the paper had got all torn and crumpled; and
inside it was stuck a shabby little scrap of paper just like a
trunk-label, with "Declined with Thanks printed on it-and
that was all!'
It was most unwarrantable behaviour on the editor's part,'
said her hearer with commendable gravity, 'and I hope you
expressed your opinion of his conduct as it deserved.'
Indeed I did. I wrote him quite a long letter; and, only
think he hadn't even the manners to send me any answer !'
Just at that moment a passing gust of wind whisked off
her new friend's wideawake; and as he stooped to pick it up,
the slanting sunbeams fell right upon his face, now fully
revealed for the first time.
The child uttered a cry of astonishment, and, catching him
by the arm, said eagerly: 'Oh, I know you now it was you
who saved that drowning man. How brave you must be!
But weren't you terribly frightened when that great wave
swallowed you up? at least not really frightened, I mean,
but feeling that you were gone, and could never get
'I hadn't time to think of anything of the sort,' replied
the swimmer simply. 'I was very much afraid, I own, of
losing my hold of the poor fellow, ani letting him be drowned
after all; but as for one's own risk, a man has no business
to think of that at all when any one else is in danger.'
'Well, it was very brave of you, I'm sure,' said the girl,
looking up at him with all a child's frank, whole-hearted
admiration.: 'But it was too bad of that great strong man
beside you to do nothing but stamp and make faces, and
never help you a bit He must surely be a great coward.'
A HORRID MAN.
'He a coward?' cried her new friend, laughing heartily.
'Do you know who he is? That's Major Wellesley )are,
one of. the bravest men in the British army, who got the
Victoria Cross for courage under fire, and came by that limp
of his from going into action before his last wound was
properly healed. You must not be so hasty in judging other
people, Miss Flo; he would have gone at once to help the
man, only-he can't swim !'
'Oh, I am so sorry!' exclaimed Flo penitently; 'I'd no
idea he was such a fine man as that. I'11 never call him a
coward again, I won't indeed; but for all that, you must be
quite as brave as he is, or you could never have saved that
man. I do wish Tom Wickham had been here to see you
do it; he would have enjoyed it ever so much, for he's a
capital swimmer himself; he can swim in six different
'And who may Tom Wickham be, pray asked he of
'Oh, you must have heard of him; he's in our school
eleven. Why, he played in the last Eton match, and had
his name in all the papers!'
'I'm afraid,' rejoined the traveller, as gravely as ever,
'that, at the time when that famous contest took place, I was
in the heart of an African desert; and we didn't see many
'Have you really been right down into Africa, then?'
said the child wonderingly. How fine Was it there that
you learned to swim so well?'
'Hardly,' laughed the globe-trotter; 'for I should have
been rather puzzled to find water enough to swim in there.
Most of my swimming practice was got in the South Sea
'What! Have you been there too ?' cried Flo, with a look
of undisguised admiration. 'Why, you must have been all
over the world! I declare, Mr Seymour Hardy ought to
write a book about you-he ought indeed! Those are just
A HORRID MAN.
the sort of places that his men are always running off to;
and I 'm sure that swim that you did to-day was as good as
any of the things that he makes them do !'
'Well, if it comes to that, Flo,' said the proposed hero of
romance, 'why shouldn't you make a story out of it yourself,
since you happen to be an authoress ? No one can be better
qualified, for you saw the whole thing from beginning to
'Why, so I might!' cried the eleven-year-old authoress
gleefully, 'and a capital story it would make, too! What
shall we call it ?'
Call it A Wrestle with the Waves,' suggested her adviser.
'Capital!' exclaimed the little romancer, all aglow with
this new and splendid idea; 'I '11 go up and get out my
writing-desk, and begin at once. But, by the bye,' she added
suddenly, with some slight hesitation and a doubtful glance
at her new acquaintance, I can't write a story about you, if
I don't know your name.'
'You do know it, for you've got it here,' answered the
stranger, as he pointed, with a sly twinkle in his keen gray
eyes, to the title-page of the book that she was reading.
'My name is Seymour Hardy, and I am unfortunate enough
to be that "horrid man," the editor of Boys and Girls '
HE sudden discovery that her favourite author
and her greatest enemy were one and the same
Sman-and that man the hero of the most
daring exploit that she had ever witnessed-
excited Flo Cramwell (as may be supposed)
to the highest pitch; and as soon as she could rally herself
from the momentary stupor of amazement produced by this
astounding revelation, she flew to communicate it to her
father, who was quite as much surprised at it as herself.
'Seymour Hardy here !' cried he; who would have
thought it And yet, by the bye, I have heard that he's
rather given to that sort of thing-making his appearance
in a melodramatic kind of way, just where he is least expected.
I must go and see him at once. Or stay,' he added, looking
at his watch, 'I see it's getting late, and he must be pretty
well tired out, after such a day's work as he's had. I'll
have him to breakfast to-morrow morning-that will be the
But in this hospitable intention the worthy scholar was
doomed to be disappointed; for when he tapped at Mr
Hardy's door early on the following morning, fully expecting
to find him still in bed, after the overwhelming fatigues of
the previous day, the room was empty, and the landlady,
who was already bustling about as briskly as usual, informed
him that Hardy had gone out 'near-hand an 'oor syne'
(nearly an hour since).
There was no help for it, and the Hollowdale master, who
had as keen an appetite for food as for knowledge, and
digested eggs or cutlets as easily as books, very unwillingly
resigned himself to await his intended guest's return before
ordering breakfast. But time passed, and still there was no
sign of the missing man's appearance; and every moment
that went by added to the impatience of the hungry instructor,
who at length-quite forgetting that poor Hardy could not
possibly know that he was to be invited to breakfast that
morning-worked himself up to as high a pitch of indignation
against the absent man as if the latter had wilfully broken
a regular engagement.
'This fellow seems to be like MacFarlane's geese in the
Scotch proverb-he thinks more of his play than of his meat !'
growled Mr Cramwell, looking at his watch for the twentieth
time. 'This sort of thing's all very well for these harum-
scarum globe-trotters, who sleep when they can, and have
their meals at all hours but the right one; but -it doesn't suit
me. I'll give him ten minutes more, and if he doesn't come
then, I '11 just begin without him; I'm not going to lose my
breakfast for any author in England, if it were Shakespeare
Scarcely had he uttered this valiant resolution, when a
wild, confused uproar came hoarsely to his ears from the
street below. The deep voices of men mingled with the
shriller cries of women and children, the hurried trampling
of feet, the hasty opening and shutting of doors, and other
sounds which seemed to imply the occurrence of some new
and startling catastrophe, in the midst of which the dismayed
listener could plainly distinguish the ominous words: 'He's
dead he's drowned !'
Mr Cramwell sprang to his feet as if stirred by an electric
shock; but ere he could reach the door, his little daughter
burst into the room, all in tears, and, throwing herself into
his arms, sobbed out: 'Oh papa! they're saying that Mr
Hardy's drowned !'
Meanwhile Seymour Hardy, little dreaming of what was
in store for him, had started down to the beach for a swim
(as if bent upon showing the sea that he bore it no grudge
for its rough usage of him on the previous night), concealing
the light jersey and short flannel drawers which formed his
bathing-dress beneath a long gray cloak that covered him
right down to the feet, which had already done him good
service in this region of constant rain-squalls.
He was already more than half-way to the spot where he
meant to take his plunge-which was not far from the scene
of his recent exploit-when he caught sight of a slender,
boyish figure seated upon a rock, with its head supported
upon its hands, looking gloomily seaward.
The English dress and dejected attitude told the shrewd
Hardy who this solitary watcher must be, even before the
figure, raising its head at his approach, revealed the sad
face and weary eyes of his friend the major's son, Alwyn
A penny for your thoughts, Alwyn,' said the author pleas-
'I was thinking,' replied the lad, with a sudden violence
very strange in that usually silent and moody boy, 'that I'd
give anything in the world to be able to do what you did
The unnatural vehemence of the boy's tone, and the fever-
ish excitement of his look and manner, told their own story
to the experienced Hardy, who instantly answered in his
cheeriest voice: 'Well, all in good time. I daresay, by the
time you're my age, you'll have done as good as that, and
'Yes, it's likely, isn't it said Alwyn bitterly, 'when I
can't even do things that fellows a year younger than me do
quite easily. It's not for want of trying, I'm sure. Is
it my fault that I was born delicate, and haven't strength
and nerve like other people? They laugh at me because I
can't do things like them, and yet, whenever I try, they turn
up their noses at me, and say I fail only because I'm afraid.
Catch any of them giving me an encouraging word when I'm
trying my best; all they do is to laugh at me and call me
names. And the boys at home call me Molly and Jenny,
and say I ought to be a girl; and my own father, the bravest
man in the English army, says I'm a milksop and a coward,
and tells me that he's ashamed of me !'
The last words were uttered with such intense bitterness
that even Hardy looked troubled for a moment, and made no
reply save an encouraging clap on the shoulder.
For one instant the boy was silent; but the impulse which
drove him to pour out at last all the feelings which had been
so long and so painfully suppressed was too strong to be
checked, and he burst forth once more: 'What's the good
of my trying to do anything, if I've no chance of succeeding?
I shall never be of any use-everybody I know takes good
care to keep on telling me that. I wish I was dead!'
'So did another boy not much older than you,' said Hardy
quietly, 'when he was alone in India last century; but
although his father and all his family called him a good-for-
nothing, yet it was very lucky both for him and for all
England (and for the whole world, indeed, in one way)
that, when he wished himself dead, he did not get his
'And who was he, then ?' asked Alwyn Dare eagerly.
'Robert Clive,' answered his companion, with marked
'Ah! he was different,' said Alwyn, relapsing into the
tone of dejection which seemed habitual to him; 'he was
as strong and brave as can be. I've read all about him; he
could thrash any other boy in the town, and he got right
up to the top of a church-steeple that nobody else could climb.
I shall never be like him!'
'Well, you may not conquer India, perhaps,' rejoined Mr
Hardy, with a good-humoured laugh; 'but there are other
ways of showing one's self brave beside thrashing people and
scrambling up church-spires.'
'Well, now, were you ever afraid in your life ?' asked the
lad pointedly, evidently expecting that this question would
prove a poser.
'Lots of times,' answered his friend without the slightest
hesitation; 'it is only in books '-and not in any of my books,
I am glad to say--' that people know not what men call fear."
I quite agree with what Napoleon's famous general, Marshal
Lannes (one of the bravest men that ever lived) said about
that: "It is only a coward who says he has never been
afraid." For my part, I don't mind owning that I've been
frightened many a time ay, and very badly frightened
This frank confession, coming from the very man who had
so lately achieved before his eyes one of the boldest feats on
record, did more to comfort the forlorn boy than anything
that had been said yet; and Seymour Hardy, seeing that
he was producing the desired impression, hastened to add:
'Now, talking of being afraid, that reminds me of a story
bearing upon that very point, which I'll tell you, for it's
well worth hearing:
'When my father was at school, one of Nelson's old
captains-an old fellow who had got the name of "The
Fire-eater," from having distinguished himself in so many
battles, and who was generally thought to be the bravest
seaman afloat-came to visit the school where he was.
You may think what a reception the boys gave him; and
when it was over, and they were all assembled to see
him go off, he said to them:
"I've got a word to say to you young fellows. I know
you're rather apt to be hard upon anybody who seems to be
not so brave and strong as yourselves, and that you have
no mercy upon a boy who appears to be the least bit afraid
of anything whatever. Now, I have something to tell you
about that, which I'd like you all to remember.
In the last war with France, a French vessel had to be
attacked by boats under the guns of a French battery; and
aboard one of those boats was a young middy who had never
been under fire before. Now, it happened that the very first
shot fired by the enemy struck down the man next to this
young fellow, and the body fell right upon him as he sat.
The poor boy, who had never seen any one killed in his life,
was so upset that he fell right down in the bottom of the
boat, just as if he had been shot himself. And as he lay
there, he thought, 'It's all over with me now; I've shown
the white feather, and every one will cry shame on me for a
coward, and my whole life's destroyed!' and he almost
wished that the shot had struck him instead of the poor
'Just like me,' said Alwyn Dare, who was drinking in
every word with the deepest interest.
And then,' resumed Hardy, the old captain went on to
say: "Just then the officer in command of the boat bent over
the poor boy as he lay, and instead of kicking him and calling
him a cowardly sneak-as I'm afraid most of you youngsters
would have done in the same case-he clapped him kindly on
the shoulder and whispered, Never mind, my brave lad I
was just like that myself the first time I smelt powder.
Cheer up "
'How jolly of him!' cried the boy eagerly. 'And what
did the middy do ?'
'That's just what my father and all his schoolfellows
wanted to know,' answered Hardy; 'and old Fire-eater told
'em that those few words steadied the boy at once, and up he
jumped as if nothing had happened. Luckily nobody else
knew what was wrong with him, for all the rest thought he
had been knocked down by the dead man falling upon him.
So he came out of the affair creditably enough; and although
he was in dozens of fights after that, his nerves never gave
way any more, and he got the name of being rather a cool
'Well done!' exclaimed the listening boy gleefully.
And then,' continued Hardy, the brave old man paused,
and looked round upon the crowd of schoolboys with a look
which (as I've heard my father say) seemed to go right
through them; and then he said, "Would you like to know
who that young middy was, who was saved by one kind
word ? It was myself!"'
One glance at his hearer's glowing face, as the story ended,
told the shrewd author that his sermon had done its work;
and he added at once:
'Always remember that story, Alwyn; and remember, too,
that if you give up trying to make a man of yourself, and lie
down in despair, you will just make the people who call you
a coward think that they were right. What you have got to
do is to prove them wrong, and shut their mouths by showing
yourself the brave fellow that you really are, and that I've
known you to be, all along !'
The sudden glow of manly pride in Alwyn's dark eyes at
the last words was more than enough to show how thoroughly
true they were.
I must be off now to have my swim,' concluded Hardy;
'but this afternoon we '11 go for a walk together, and talk over
this business a little more. Keep your heart up, and God
bless you !'
And with a hearty shake of the boy's hand he turned away,
and strode down the slope towards the beach.
But the effect of his words did not pass away along with
him; and Alwyn, feeling blither and more hopeful than he
had done for many a day, watched eagerly for the reappear-
ance of the only man who seemed to understand and sym-
pathise with the trouble that was crushing him down,
intending, when he returned, to walk back to the town with
him. But the time went on, and Seymour Hardy never came
back; till at length the boy, concluding that his friend must
have gone home some other way, turned back to the hotel by
An hour later, the two boatmen who had come to Hardy's
assistance in the crisis of his perilous swim the evening before,
were returning from the town with one or two matters which
were needed for their day's fishing, when the younger of the
pair, a slim, good-looking, pleasant-faced young fellow, Hay
Blanch by name, stopped short, and pointed, with a meaning
look, to something that seemed like a heap of clothes which
lay behind a large stone not far from the extremity of the
pebble beach already mentioned.
'Man, Peter,' said he to his comrade, very gravely, 'there's
something' wrang here. Yon claes (clothes) were there when
we cam' by before, an 'oor syne; and an 'oor's lang for ony
man to bide i' the water, on a cauld morn like this. I'm
thinking' some venturesome chiel amang thae Englishers-like
him yestreen, ye ken-will hae gane in an' ne'er come oot
Peter Nisbet-a grim old ex-whaler, whose rugged visage
had been aptly compared by some local wit to the figure-head
of a wreck-said not a word in answer to his partner's ghastly
suggestion; but the gloomy shake of his gray head, which was
his only comment, sufficiently showed what were his thoughts
on the matter.
'We'll gang an' tak' a look at them, onyhoo,' said Hay;
and in another instant both men were hastening at their best
speed toward the mysterious bundle of clothing.
The clothes themselves were scanty enough-nothing more,
in fact, than a long gray cloak and a pair of light English
shoes. But as Peter Nisbet lifted the cloak from the ground,
his iron face changed slightly when he saw on the inside of
the collar, worked in white thread, the name of 'S. HARDY.'
No further explanation was needed; for Seymour Hardy's
inquiry for letters at the post-office on the previous night had
already made his name public property in the little town,
where the general curiosity was so strongly excited with
regard to everything connected with him.
The two brave men exchanged looks of silent dismay, and
then turned their eyes instinctively toward the heaving waters
which, still agitated by the recent storm, surged and foamed
below. From the spot where they stood the whole breadth
of the strait between Mainland and Bressay was plainly visible;
but nowhere was there any trace to be seen of the missing
Puir lad !' muttered old Peter, whose grim, weather-beaten
face softened into a momentary tinge of compassion as he
spoke. 'Think o' that! To save another man frae droonin'
yestreen, an' to be drooned himself' the day !'
Weel, maybe he's no drooned yet-sic' a swimmer as he
was,' cried the younger man hopefully. 'Peter, man, help
me to get oot the bit boatie, an' we '11 jist luik for him a wee;
an' I '11 send my callant (boy) wi' the man's claes up to the
hottle (hotel) to tell the folk what has chanced, an' bid them
mak' sairch for him. Come awa' wi' ye!'
Hay Blanch's suggestion was promptly carried out; and,
having seen the nimble little callant' fairly on his way, the
two stout boatmen hurried off to launch their boat in search
of the lost Hardy.
Mr Cramwell was still waiting impatiently for Hardy's
appearance; and by this time Major Dare, too, had missed
his comrade, and was beginning to wonder at his prolonged
No one, however, had as yet any thought of feeling anxious
about him; nor was any uneasiness aroused on his account
even when Alwyn Dare came in with the announcement that
he had met Mr Hardy going down to have a swim more than
an hour before; for the sea, though still rough, was far
quieter than on the previous day, and nobody who had
witnessed Hardy's exploits on that occasion was likely to
fear any harm by water to him.
But when Hay Blanch's boy arrived, bearing the missing
man's clothes, with a breathless and excited crowd at his
heels (for the news of what had happened was already
running abroad like wildfire), to report that 'feyther an'
auld Peter are awa' i' the boat to luik for Maister Hairdy,'
every one began to be alarmed in earnest. Poor little Flo,
losing all memory of her grudge against the 'horrid editor of
Boys and Girls,' cried bitterly. Mr Cramwell, quite for-
getting his delayed breakfast, hurried down into the street to
question the messenger of evil himself; and Major Dare,
lifting his mighty voice above the ever-growing clamour of
tohgues, offered a large reward to any man who should either
produce Seymour Hardy alive, or find his body.
'You may as well pay that reward to me, then,' said a deep
voice from behind; 'for I've found the body myself, and
here it is!'
All who heard, turned round with a start; and there, right
in the midst of them, stood the lost Seymour Hardy himself,
fresh as a rose, and looking as little like a drowned man as
any one could well do.
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.
IKE many other mysteries of the kind, Seymour
Hardy's sudden resuscitation, which so greatly
amazed the good folks of Lerwick, was very
easily accounted for.
For the first few moments of his sea-bath the
author had been content to enjoy the mere pleasure of
plunging through the clear, cold, life-giving water, and of
feeling himself borne onward upon the surging waves as if
carried by the rush of a high-mettled horse. But all this
was too much like the customary 'philandering' of ordinary
bathers to satisfy such a practised athlete; and Hardy soon
began to look about for some definite goal for his proposed
His first idea was to swim across the strait to Bressay; but,
as he glanced in that direction, the trim hull and tall tapering
masts of the smart little English yacht caught his eye, and
suggested a new plan to him.
'I know what I'll do!' cried he; 'I'11 swim out to that
yacht and ask after that fellow whom I fished up yesterday.
Even in this used-up age it will be something new to pay a
morning call by swimming!'
And away he went accordingly, cleaving the water with
that long steady stroke which had brought him in first in
many a hard-fought swimming match, and had saved his life
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.
more than once in the Pacific and on the west coast of
He was already within fifty yards of the yacht, and just
about to hail her, when another swimmer came suddenly
round her bows, heading straight toward him; and, as the
latter approached, Seymour Hardy's keen eye recognized at a
glance the man whom he had saved on the previous day.
'Hallo!' cried he, 'you mean to show the sea that you
bear it no malice, that's evident. I was just coming to ask
after you; but now my inquiries seem to be answered in
'Well, at all events, I'm very glad to have a chance of
thanking you for saving my life,' rejoined the other, as the
two swimmers, 'treading water' meanwhile to keep them-
selves afloat, exchanged a cordial shake of the hand. 'What
a tip-top swimmer you must be! I used to think I knew
something about it, but I could no more do what you did
yesterday than I could fly; or, perhaps I should say (and you
can bear witness that it's true), I couldn't do it to save my
life. Anyhow, it's lucky for me that you weren't as par-
ticular as the fellow in the old story: "Good gracious! I
could have saved that drowning man if I had only been
introduced to him "'
'Well,' laughed the editor, paddling gently round and
round his new friend as they talked, 'as there seems to be
no one within reach to present us to each other, we had
better introduce ourselves. My name is Seymour Hardy.'
'Seymour Hardy!' echoed the young yachtsman, with a
gleeful laugh; 'well, this is a joke, and no mistake. Who
would ever have thought of meeting you here? Why, I'm
just reading one of your books now-From the Equator to the
Pole, you know-and a capital story it is. Well, I 'm Sir
Frederick Goldhall, of Cashdowne Park.'
Even the unemotional Hardy did not hear without surprise
the sudden mention of a name which was just then in the
mouth of every man in England, as that of a young baronet
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.
who, at his coming of age a few months before, had become
absolute master of a fortune of two millions sterling, without
any very clear idea (as he himself owned) 'what on earth to
do with it.'
'Well, this is certainly a new kind of way of beginning an
acquaintance,' said Hardy at length. 'It seems fated that we
should always meet in the water.'
'A sign, I suppose,' rejoined Sir Frederick, striking out in
a take-it-easy' fashion towards the yacht, 'that our acquaint-
ance is getting on swimmingly.'
'That we're drifting into companionship, you mean,' re-
torted Hardy, who, like a true editor, was never at a loss for
'Or carried away by the tide of events-keep it up !'
'Or yielding to a current of feeling. Next!'
'Or over head and ears in debt to each other, and anxious
to liquidate our obligations.'
'Or brought together by divers reasons,' wound up Hardy;
and, suiting the action to the word, he vanished like a stone
into the depths below.
'Hallo !' cried Goldhall, rather startled by this sensational
disappearance. 'What's up ?'
What's down, you mean,' answered a voice behind him,
as Hardy rose from his dive, for I've been down and up too.
That's a trick that I learned from the South Sea Islanders;
and some of them, I'm sorry to say, have murdered plenty of
men that way, by stabbing them in the back unawares.'
'Rather a knowing dodge, and no mistake,' said the young
baronet approvingly. 'Well, look here, Mr Hardy, will you
come on board and have some breakfast? I'm just going to
have mine, and I should think you must be ready for yours,
unless you 've had it already.'
'No, I haven't; and I should be most happy to join you,
only my present costume is hardly adapted, I fear, to figure in
'Oh, never mind about that; I'11 lend you some clothes;
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.
and as for society, you won't have any society but mine. I've
got no ladies on board; in fact, I've got nobody at all except
And, accordingly, the adventurous editor found himself a
few moments later aboard the yacht, rigged-out' in a suit of
his host's clothes (in which he cut a rather queer figure; there
being a difference of fully three inches in their height), and
seated over an excellent breakfast, which, by Sir Frederick's
orders, had been set out on deck.
I'd better send a boat to pick up your clothes, by the bye,'
said the latter to his guest, as they sat down. 'Where did
you leave them i'
'They're somewhere on the pebble beach yonder,' replied
Hardy carelessly; 'but you needn't bother about 'em. These
honest Shetlanders would never think of stealing them, if
they were to lie there for a week. If you are going ashore
after breakfast, we might pick them up as we pass.'
Then, for several minutes, the mouths of both speakers
were too fully occupied to have any leisure for talking.
'It seems to me, Sir Frederick '- Hardy was begin-
ning at length, when his host, with a slight show of im-
patience, cut him short.
'Never mind that unlucky title of mine,' cried he; 'I'm
not going to be "Sir Frederick" to a man who has saved
my life, you know. Just call me Goldhall, and have done
'With pleasure,' replied the guest, on condition that you
call me Hardy.'
'Done,' said the young man, with an air of marked relief.
'But you were just going to say something, when I inter-
'I was only going to say that you seem to have chosen
rather a curious name for your yacht.'
'What's curious about it? I call her the Refuge, because
she is a refuge for me, and pretty nearly the only one I've
got. Why do you think I ran away from England, and came
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.
up here, where nobody knows who I am? Why, just because
I had too much money !'
'That's an affliction which many people whom I know
would bear very bravely,' said the author dryly. 'You
remember what Sam Weller said to the man who told him
that he had been "ruined by having money left him : "-"I
only wish some rich enemy 'ud try to work my destruction
that 'ere way; I'd let him "'
Well, I daresay you don't believe it; but it's true for all
'On the contrary, I can believe it very easily,' said Hardy,
as quietly as ever, for yours is not the first case of that sort
that I've met with. Apart from that Lord Aberdeen who
shipped as a common sailor before the mast, I knew a young
fellow in Australia some years ago, who had given up a big
estate in England to go out there and live on his own
hook, saying that he couldn't stand that sort of thing any
And well he might !' cried Sir Frederick vehemently; 'I
only wonder that anybody can stand it at all. Every one
thinks, of course, that because I've got a million in each
pocket, I'm the luckiest fellow alive; and, as very often
happens, every one's wrong. I don't see, myself, where on
earth the luck comes in. First and foremost, I've come into
my title and my fortune by the death of my father, and I'd
give 'em both up, gladly, to have the dear old man alive
again; and then, since I came into that blessed money, I
haven't had a minute's peace, day or night!'
'I can quite believe that,' said his hearer, with a dry
'I daresay,' went on the young millionaire, 'you've been
in Italy, and seen an Englishman mobbed by Italian beggars.
Well, there you have me ever since I came of age; and I
can tell you, if you don't know it already, that the beggars
of good society are every bit as pertinacious, and very often
quite as impudent, as the beggars of the streets. What do
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.
you think of people calling themselves ladies-many of whom
I had never seen or even heard of before-regularly forcing
their way into my house by dozens when poor old dad was
only a few weeks buried, with subscription lists, or plans for
endowing the workhouses with stained-glass windows, or
promoting the study of high art among the poor, and all sorts
of rubbish like that! And they demanded money just like
so many highwaymen, till I was fairly driven to give them
something just to get rid of them, as I'd have done with an
organ-grinder or any other nuisance!'
'Yes,' said Hardy; 'those people go ahead of Robin Hood
himself; they "rob the rich," but they don't "feed the
'And that's not all, either; there are the begging-letters
as well,' resumed the unfortunate millionaire, who, now that
he had met with a man who seemed really to sympathize
with him, appeared inclined to pour forth all his woes at
once. "Pon my word, people seem to think that, just
because a fellow has a lot of money, he's bound to chuck
F it away to everybody that asks him, whether they really
need it or not. They never think of asking how much it
takes to keep up my estates and to look after my tenantry,
some of whom, poor fellows, stand very much in need of
'Well, you see, such folks just reverse the saying of Sir
Philip Sidney; they make it, "My necessity is greater than
'Well,' cried Sir Frederick, 'of course one wouldn't grudge
the money a bit, if it were really going to do any good; but
when you give to people in that way, you're generally giving
either to fools who think they were born to set the whole
world right at one go, or to rogues who consider that their
duty to their neighbour is to bleed him of as much money
as they can squeeze out of him. The last week before I
came away, I got 478 begging-letters-I counted 'em myself;
and my secretary, who's a sharp fellow, and has been at that
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.
sort of thing all his life, told me there weren't a dozen
cases of really genuine distress among the lot! What do
you think of that '
I don't think of it,' replied Seymour Hardy significantly.
'Well, I wish, with all my heart, that I could follow your
example in that way; but one doesn't so easily forget things
like that, when one has once had a taste of 'em. Poor people
seem to fancy that if a man's only rich, he can do what-
ever he likes-oh, can he, though All the time I was in
England after my coming of age, I never could do as I liked
for two minutes together, I know that I must do this, and
I musn't do that; and this was "obligatory upon a man of
my position," and that was a dangerous example to be set
by an English landed proprietor; and so on, and so on, till
at last I couldn't even sneeze without feeling as if the eyes
of the universe were upon me, watching to see if I sneezed
as an English landed proprietor should do. As sure as I sit
here, if I 'd had just one more week of that sort of thing,
there would have been a howling lunatic somewhere on my
estate, and his name would have been Fred Goldhall!'
'Yes, yours is certainly a hard case,' said his companion
gravely. 'I 've never had the misfortune to be rich myself,
happily; but, by what I've seen and heard, I can easily
understand that it must be an awful bore.'
'You may well say that,' growled the millionaire; 'but
I'11 tell you what sickened me more than all the rest; to
have these old county fellows calling out to me, as jovially as
could be, "Drop in to dinner whenever you like, my dear
boy always glad to see you And those grand ladies, who
would turn up their noses at a poor man as if he were the
dirt under their feet, coming up to me with quite a motherly
air, and saying sweetly that "they really must try and do
something to comfort me for the loss of my poor dear father"
-and to know all the while, as I do, that if I were to lose
my money to-morrow, these kind friends of mine would all
turn their backs upon me as if I had the plague And then,
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.
too, those girls of theirs, who come smiling to me with their
birthday books, and "We really must have your autograph,
Sir Frederick; you're quite a public character, you know,
and your name's in all the papers." If my name were in
all the papers as a bankrupt, how much would they care for
my autograph then, I wonder 1 I tell you, Hardy, if a man
wants to see the worst and meanest side of human nature,
and to see it thoroughly, all he has to do is to be rich!'
The last words were spoken with such bitterness, that
even Hardy ventured no reply for a few moments; and when
he did speak again, it was with more feeling than he had
'I 'm afraid there's only too much truth in what you say,
my dear fellow; but, for all that, there are plenty of honest
people, God be thanked, among the rich as well as among
the poor; and you may take my word for it, that when once
you've got rid of these mean creatures that you're describing
-with whom every young fellow with money of his own has
to deal just at first-you'll find that there's much more real
goodness in the world than you seem to think.'
'Well, we '11 hope so,' replied the young man more cheerily.
'Anyhow, I shall have to go home again sooner or later, to look
after my poor tenantry; for, come what may, I won't neglect
them-I ought to be kicked all round the estate if I did!
But, in the meantime, I'm taking a regular holiday, and
I'm as jolly as a sand-boy. There's no one to bother me
about anything. I've got the brave old sea open before me,
and this little beauty to carry me over it wherever I like;
and nobody here knows whether I'm rich or poor, except
my own crew, and they are all tenants of mine, who would
sooner put their hands in the fire than do anything that could
hurt me. In fact, in all Shetland, outside this yacht, there's
not a soul that has the least idea who I really am, except
'The secret is quite safe with me,' answered Seymour
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.
'You need not tell me that-I know I can trust you,'
rejoined the young baronet heartily. And now I've bored
you quite long enough with my grumbling, and I want to
talk to you about something else. It will never do, you
know, for us to lose sight of each other again after such a
romantic introduction; so, if you haven't any particular plans
of your own at present, suppose you just stick yourself in one
of these spare berths, and come for a cruise with me. The
obligation will be on my side, I assure you, for it isn't every
day that one gets a real live author all to one's self. Come,
what do you say?'
'You're very kind,' said Hardy, 'and I should like
nothing better than to accept, if I could do it; but, un-
luckily, my duties as an editor are even more "obligatory"
than yours as a landlord, and I must be back at my office
in London the week after next.'
'You don't mean to say you're an editor!' cried Sir
Frederick, looking at him with an air of amazement. Why,
what few editors I've ever seen were all sallow, stooping,
bald-headed old fogies in spectacles, who looked as if they'd
been shut up in a damp cellar ever since they were born.
You an editor! I'd as soon have taken you for a pirate!'
'Well,' rejoined Hardy, as coolly as ever, 'in a literary
sense, at least, you would do many an editor of my acquaint-
ance no injustice by the supposition.'
'But what are you editor of, then-a daily paper ?'
'No, not quite so bad as that, luckily,' laughed the other;
I'm in command of nothing worse than a juvenile monthly,
called Boys and Girls.'
Boys and Girls !' echoed Goldhall; why, that's the very
thing that my crew are so much taken up with just now!
They've got three or four numbers of it among them forward
there, and they're all very much interested in a yarn called
At Close Quarters with a Monster,' which they think first-
'I'm greatly indebted to them,' said the editor gravely,
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.
' for that yarn happens to be mine.-Hollo what's all that
row on shore '
He might well ask. A confused noise of shouting came
faintly to their ears from the town, and several persons were
seen hurrying up the hillside from the beach, while a large
and ever-growing crowd was gathering, with gestures of
violent excitement, around the door of the hotel, which was
plainly visible from the yacht's deck.
A few moments later, a small boat was seen to put off
from the farther end of the pebble beach, and to keep hover-
ing to and fro at a little distance from the shore, as if in
search of something which she could not find.
'I know what it's all about!' cried the young yachtsman
suddenly. 'They must have found the clothes that you
left lying on the beach yonder, and of course they think
you're drowned; and that boat there is going out to look for
your body !'
'I fancy you're right,' said Hardy; 'and it's not the first
search for my body that I've assisted at. But, in that case,
I must ask you to be so kind as to put me ashore at once;
for my two travelling-companions are sure to have heard the
news, and I don't want them to be troubled about me when
there's no reason for it.'
I'11 give you a boat directly,' rejoined Sir Frederick, and
my fellows will run you across to the town in no time; and
I'd be very glad to go with you, only I can't leave the
yacht just now. And look here-if you've nothing better
to do to-morrow, you might just come and lunch with me
on board, and we'll see if we can't arrange an excursion or
two to some of the "sights" of the place.'
Seymour Hardy readily accepted the invitation, and, with
a hearty hand-shake, the two men parted.
By this time the shore-boat-manned, as may be easily
guessed, by Peter Nisbet and his partner, Hay Blanch-had
come so near the yacht in her search for Hardy's body, that the
owner of the body in question was able to hail the two boat-
GETTING ON SWIMMINGLY.
men as he passed. Both men brightened visibly on seeing
their lost hero alive and well after all; and they brightened
still more when Hardy told them that he would most likely
have a job for them in a day or two-an idea suggested to
him by Goldhall's proposed excursion to visit some of the
But the adventurous editor contented himself with the few
words which he and the two Shetlanders were able to
exchange in passing, and made no offer to halt; for, in truth,
he had another and more pressing reason for being in haste
to get ashore, apart from his wish to relieve the anxiety of
his friends as quickly as possible.
His recent talk with Alwyn Dare had heightened tenfold
the pity which he felt for this unhappy boy, whose weak
nerves, already unstrung by the ill-judged indulgence of his
mother, were now being still farther shaken by the equally
ill-judged harshness of his father. Hardy's keen eye saw
plainly that the stern soldier, himself strong and brave as
a lion, and loving danger for its own sake, was by his very
nature utterly unable to understand or to sympathise with
any one who, like Alwyn, was naturally delicate and consti-
tutionally inclined to be timid; and it was only too evident
to this practised observer that the father's mistaken treat-
ment, if persevered in, must certainly end in driving the son
On this point, therefore, he determined to speak seriously
to Major Dare on the very first opportunity; and, with that
object, he made all possible haste back to the hotel, where,
as we have already seen, he arrived just in time to give a
very unexpected answer to the major's offer of a reward for
the finding of his body.
A ROMAN FATHER.
HE moment his lost comrade appeared, Major
Dare sprang forward, and seized him warmly
by the hand.
Bravo, Hardy !' cried he; never say die !
I'm very glad to see you alive and well, for,
upon my word, I was beginning to fear that your charmed
life had failed you at last. You were evidently not born to
be drowned-eh, old fellow ?'
But Seymour Hardy did not join in the laugh with which
the worthy major applauded his own joke. On the contrary,
he looked at his friend so gravely that even the tough old
soldier was impressed by it in spite of himself; and then,
after a moment's silence, he said to him in a low voice:
'Let us go up to your room, Dare; I want to speak to
Up they went accordingly; and Hardy, having closed the
door, turned to the wondering major, and said, with the
same ominous gravity:
'Dare, we haven't known each other very long, but we've
been in one or two awkward scrapes together, and that's
always a kind of bond; so I'm going to take the liberty of
giving you some advice, though you'll perhaps say that I
have no right to interfere between you and your own
A ROMAN FATHER.
'If you're going to speak about my son,' broke in the
major, with a sudden darkening of his bold brown face, 'you
may spare yourself the trouble, for I don't want to hear a
word about him. He's a downright milksop (thanks to his
mother's foolish coddling), and a milksop he '11 be to the end
of the chapter.'
'He's nothing of the sort,' rejoined Hardy, with equal
emphasis; 'but he's in a fair way to become one, and if he
does, you may rest assured that it's nobody's fault but your
Dare looked at this plain speaker in blank amazement, as
well he might; for seldom, indeed, had any one ventured
to speak so bluntly to the formidable major, who was
popularly reported to have flung a man through a window
into the. Thames, for one insolent word.
'What do you mean ?' he asked, slowly rising to his feet,
and standing right before, or rather over, the slight form of
'I mean just what I say,' replied the latter firmly. 'It's
a fine way, isn't it, of teaching a delicate lad courage and
self-reliance, to snub him whenever he tries to do anything,
and cry shame upon him for a milksop and a coward, if it
happens to be beyond his strength! I'm not much of a
gardener, but I never heard that the best plan to strengthen
a flower that droops and needs support is to trample on it;
and when the same system is pursued by a strong man
toward a sickly boy, it does not strike me as being very
manly, anyhow !'
The major pressed his lips hard together, as if to repress
the burst of rage that was already quivering upon them;
and then he said, with a forced calmness more ominous than
the loudest anger:
'Look here, Hardy, you and I have been good friends
hitherto, and I should be sorry if we were to quarrel now;
but if you say another word in that style, we shall!'
I shall not hold my tongue any the more for that, Dare,
A ROMAN FATHER.
as you might have known by this time,' answered the other,
in a tone of stern calmness that contrasted very strikingly
with the rising fury of his companion. 'I have held it long
enough on this subject-too long, perhaps-and now I must
speak. You are well able to throw me out of the window,
I know, and you may do it if you like; but hear me you
must and shall. I'm not going to let you ruin a fine lad
just because you don't understand him, and bring destruction
upon him and life-long sorrow upon yourself, without giving
you fair warning !'
The major eyed him with a look which would have made
the nerves of any ordinary man tingle, shot forth as it was
from the eyes of a brawny giant over six feet high, with
whom he was quite alone; but Seymour Hardy met it
If the lad really were a coward,' he went on, 'there might
be some excuse for you; but now that I know he has the
right sort of spirit in him, and is longing for a chance to
show it, it is really high time to interfere, both for his sake
and for your own. It's easy enough to call any one a
coward; but saying so don't make it true. What would
you say, for instance, if I were to tell you that I heard
somebody call you a coward, no longer ago than yester-
The grim soldier's dark face glowed suddenly like heated
iron, and the strong brown hand that rested upon the table
clenched itself till the joints crackled.
'Who was it ?' asked he, in a voice that sounded as if
some one were choking him.
'No one upon whom you can vent your valour, my dear
major,' replied Hardy, as coolly as ever; 'it was a little girl
of eleven, who does not appear to dread your vengeance
much, for I see her standing right under your window at this
very moment. If you like, I can tell you the very words
she said. We were talking of that swim of mine yesterday,
and she was graciously pleased to observe, It was too bad
A ROMAN FATHER.
of that great strong man beside you to do nothing but stamp
and make faces, and never help you a bit He must surely
be a great coward !"'
Major Dare bit his lips till they bled.
'And that,' he growled, 'is what they call me just because
I can't swim !'
'And that,' retorted Seymour Hardy, 'is what you call
your own son just because he can't play cricket or jump
five-barred gates !'
The major started as if struck by a shot, this view of the
case having evidently never occurred to him before; and
Hardy, seeing that he had touched the right chord at last,
hastened to add:
'It's no pleasure to me, heaven knows, to speak to you
like this; but there 's nothing that I would not do to save
you from-what you're bringing upon yourself. It would be
no comfort to you to have to remember to the end of your
life that you had driven that poor boy into a lunatic asylum;
and, as sure as I stand here, he 'll be fit for one in another
month, if you don't change your treatment of him.'
'You don't mean that ?' cried Dare, with a startled look;
for, like many other stern and rigid parents, he really loved
his son, though he unhappily took an utterly wrong and
mistaken way of showing it.
'Indeed I do,' said his comrade very gravely. When I
met the poor lad this morning, he was in such a fever of
excitement and distress, that if he had gone stark mad
before my very eyes, I could hardly have wondered at it;
and the cause of that distress is best given in his own words:
"My own father, the bravest man in the English army, says
I'm a milksop and a coward, and tells me that he's ashamed
of me !"'
For an instant the major stood speechless; and then he
muttered hoarsely :
'If this is so, God forgive me !'
Even the composed Hardy found no reply save a fervent
A ROMAN FATHER.
pressure of his comrade's hand, which returned the grasp
with an energy that said more than any words.
'You've hit me hard, my boy,' said Dare at length, in a
voice which he vainly tried to steady; 'but I know you
meant it kindly.'
'I did indeed, old fellow,' said the other heartily; 'and
if I've given you pain, it was only to save you from far
greater misery. The simple fact is, that, up to this time,
you and your son have not exactly understood one another;
but I hope that, after this, you will both understand each
'And what would you advise me to do, then said Dare,
in a submissive and almost humble tone, which was strangely
at variance with the air of defiant and almost bullying con-
fidence with which he had opened the conversation.
'Well, that's easily said,' replied his friend, 'for all that
you have to do is just to hearten the boy up as much as
possible, in place of damping him. Encourage him to try
every kind of exercise that will steady his nerves and
strengthen his muscles; and if he doesn't get on very well
the first time, then, instead of scolding him or laughing at
him, just give him a pat on the shoulder, and say, "Well
tried! better luck next time !" Make a companion of him,
too, and take an interest in all that he does; there's nothing
pleases a boy so much as that. He won't need much
spurring, for I know he's just burning to distinguish himself;
and, when once he sees that you believe in him, you may
take my word for it that you'll soon see a change in him
which will astonish you. Come, you'll give the lad a fair
chance, won't you ?'
'I will, so help me God!' said the father solemnly; and
the two men sealed their compact with a hearty hand-
EYMOUR HARDY did not forget his promise
to take Alwyn Dare for a walk that afternoon;
and, not long after dinner, off they started,
heading toward that long straggling headland
that forms the southern extremity of the
peninsula on which Lerwick stands, known to Shetlanders
as the Neck o' the Nab.'
It was a gloomy and depressing day. A heavy shower
had fallen about noon, and the sky was still hidden by gray
sullen clouds, casting over the whole landscape a cheerless
dimness, beneath which the wide, bare, treeless uplands of
this strange region, which lies almost beyond the border-
line of vegetation, looked barer and drearier than ever.
Far as the eye could reach, not a tree, not a shrub, relieved
the gaunt desolation of these wild moors,* the grim monotony
of which was broken only by a stray glistening here and
there of the treacherous marsh-water, where death lay
lurking to engulf the unwary passer-by.
'Doesn't it look terrible said the boy, instinctively
lowering his voice to a whisper; 'just as if the world and
everything upon it were dead, and only we ourselves left
This characteristic of the northern islands has given rise to a joke
which is current both in Orkney and Shetland, that 'it is a hanging
matter to cut down a tree there.'
CUT OFF. 49
living on. Just fancy how a man would feel if he were
lost in such a place, all by himself !'
'Such experiences are not agreeable, certainly,' replied
Hardy, with a quiet smile, as I myself know to my cost.'
'Have you really been lost like that yourself, then?'
asked the boy eagerly.
'Indeed I have, many a time, both in the desert and the
jungle; and, upon my word, I hardly know which of the
two is the worst. Nature is very merciless in her untamed
form; and when you're lost like that, you feel as if every-
thing around you, even the very earth under your feet, were
somehow against you.'
'But you did get yourself out of the scrape all right ?'
'No; unluckily that's just what I didn't,' said the traveller,
laughing. 'It's only in penny serials, I'm afraid, that the
hero "successfully extricates himself from all perils by his
own unaided skill and courage; and I strongly suspect that
if my skill and courage had been unaided, I should never
have been extricated at all. In fact, unheroic as it may
sound, I was generally very glad to accept of the first aid
that offered, which was usually that of a savage, who,
although he couldn't write books or quote Homer, could
beat me out of sight at anything that required special
While they were thus conversing, the day had begun to
brighten, and a faint gleam of sunshine was just shimmering
through the breaking clouds as our two pedestrians reached
the spot where the long curving ridge of the promontory,
after sloping gradually upward for nearly a quarter of a mile,
attained its highest point, and ended abruptly in a sheer
precipice of more than a hundred feet, around the base of
which, even in the calmest weather, the restless surf foamed
and roared unceasingly.
Hardy, without giving time for the sight of the precipice
to tell upon his companion's unsteady nerves, hastened to
call his attention to the various sea-birds which were circling
and screaming around it. This was just the spectacle to
interest Alwyn, who had already learned a good deal about
them; and he soon became so completely absorbed in pointing
out the species that he knew, and observing the peculiarities
of those which he did not, that ere long he was walking
close to the edge of the cliff, without a thought of the
formidable depth below.
'You have a steady head, I see, and a steady foot too,'
said Hardy approvingly. 'When I was your age, I'd have
given a good deal to have either. I can remember quite
well the time when I couldn't even stand on the top of a
wall and look down, without getting giddy, and feeling as
if I were going to fall; and the first time I walked the
whole length of our garden-wall without feeling queer I was
as pleased as if somebody had given me five pounds.'
'You don't say so!' cried Alwyn, hardly knowing which
to wonder at most-the existence of such a weakness in his
chosen hero, or the frankness with which the latter con-
Indeed, I do; and sorely it used to trouble me sometimes,
when I thought that I should never get over it, and never
be able to climb like other boys.'
'And yet,' said Alwyn, more and more astonished, 'I
suppose you wouldn't care a straw now for any precipice in
the world '
'Well, I've managed some pretty awkward ones in my
time,' replied the author quietly; 'but then, you know,
I've had plenty of practice since I was a boy, and that sort
of thing's a mere question of practice, after all.'
This was quite a new idea to Alwyn Dare, who had always
thought, as many other boys have thought before and since,
that a hero's courage is born with him, quite forgetting how
many of the world's bravest men have been remarkably timid
in their boyhood.
'Do you really think, then,' asked he, somewhat hesitat-
ingly, but with unmistakable earnestness, 'that suppose
At last they both reached the foot of the cliff safe and sound.
I were to keep on trying very hard indeed, you know-I might
some day or other get to be-as good at things as you are?'
'I don't think so-I'm sure of it,' answered the traveller
heartily; 'you just want a little practice, that's all-the
spirit's in you already. Why, your very name is a good
omen in that way; for what's "Alwyn Dare" but just "All
Win Who Dare! "'
So strange a thing is human nature, that this fanciful
interpretation of his name conveyed to this imaginative and
impressible boy more comfort and encouragement than the
most elaborate reasoning could have given. Hardy saw by
his companion's brightening face that the desired impression
had been made upon him, and hastened to add:
'Now, I'll just tell you what we'll do; we'll get down
to that bit of beach yonder, and have a scramble among the
rocks; and here's a first-rate place to get down by.'
Mr Hardy's 'first-rate place' would hardly have been
considered such by any ordinary climber. It was merely
a chimney-like chasm in the face of the cliff, as narrow and
almost as perpendicular as the funnel of a steamer; and
Alwyn Dare, if left to himself, would as soon have thought
of flinging himself down the precipice head-foremost as of
attempting to descend it in such a way. But seeing how
light Hardy made of the whole matter, and having the
depth partly hidden from him by his friend's broad shoulders
just in front, the boy took it for granted that all must be
right, and, exerting to the utmost the steadiness of foot
and head which he really possessed, got on very well.
Hardy, too, while leaving him to himself as much as possible,
was always ready to tell him where to plant his feet, or
give him a hand in case of need; and at last they both
reached the foot of the cliff safe and sound.
Well done our side !' cried the editor of Boys and Girls,
as gleefully as if he were still a boy himself. That's what
I call a very tidy bit of work. Look up, now, and see
where you've come from !'
Alwyn Dare did so, and stood- fixed in amazement.
'Well,' said he at length, 'if anybody had told me, ten
minutes ago, that I could ever have got down a place like
that, I wouldn't have believed a word of it.'
I daresay not,' said Hardy; 'but you see now that, as
I said, it's a mere question of practice, and you '11 soon learn
to do things of that sort without thinking of them at all.
I say, won't your father be astonished when I bring him
here to-morrow, and tell him what you've done.'
'Will you tell him, then?' asked the boy eagerly. 'I
can't, you know, because it would seem like a brag.'
'Quite right,' said his friend approvingly; 'but there's
nothing to prevent my telling him, and tell him I most
certainly shall. And now, let's make the best of our time,
for the tide's well out, and we've got a clear beach, and a
clear sky too.'
In fact, the storm-clouds had completely rolled away by
this time, and the sun was shining brightly in a clear blue
sky, casting a sheen of gold upon the wet rocks, and tipping
every breaking wave with living fire.
To work they went accordingly, clambering over masses
of fallen rock, splashing through clear, still pools, hunting
crabs among the loose stones, pelting each other with
handfuls of wet seaweed, scrambling about the caves which
the ceaseless sawing of the breakers had hollowed in the
base of the cliff, and making every cleft and cranny of
the grim precipice overhead echo with their shouts and
Never before, in all his life, had the depressed and
dispirited boy been so thoroughly happy. The conscious-
ness of having at last achieved a feat which even those
who called him 'milksop' would not have considered beneath
them; the presence of. a man who, though as famous as
Alwyn's own father for cool hardihood in peril, praised and
encouraged him instead of snubbing and sneering at him;
the latter's frank admission that even he had once been as
deficient in strength and nerve, and as hopeless of acquiring
either, as Alwyn himself was now; above all, Hardy's
emphatically expressed conviction that it lay in the boy's
own power to prove himself a hero instead of a coward,
all combined to raise the poor lad's crushed spirit higher
than it had ever risen before; and even his own father
would hardly have recognized his downcast, silent, spirit-
less 'milksop' in the flushed, laughing, buoyant figure that
leaped so lightly from rock to rock with a cheery shout.
'The medicine's working well, and no mistake,' said
Hardy to himself, with a smile of quiet satisfaction; 'I
think my friend Dare will have to own that my prescription
suits the case better than his.-Now, Alwyn, my boy,' he
added aloud, 'I'11 tell you what we can do yet. We can
climb that big fellow yonder, and watch the sunset from
the top; it'll be a good one to-night, I'll be bound !'
The 'big fellow' in question was a huge black spike of
craggy rock, nearly sixty feet in height, rent away by some
mighty convulsion, ages ago, from the seaward face of the
main cliff, in front of which it now stood gauntly up, like
a giant sentinel. Its base was always covered by the sea
even at low-tide; but, nevertheless, it could be easily reached
by any man active enough to spring from one to another
of the wave-worn boulders around it.
This climb was in reality even more formidable than the
last; but Alwyn Dare, flushed with his recent exploit,
and all aglow from the hard exercise of the last two hours,
felt for the moment as if he could do anything.
Once or twice, indeed, as he got higher and higher up
the bare, slippery rock, the boy's untried nerves seemed about
to fail him; but, by following Hardy closely step by step,
and carefully abstaining from looking down, he at length
reached the highest point in safety, and was rewarded with
a view which would have well repaid a far more toilsome
Far as the eye could reach, the glassy sea lay outstretched
54 CUT OFF.
beneath them, perfectly and almost ominously still. Not a
wreath of storm-cloud dimmed the lustrous sky, which had
now all that wonderful softness of tint peculiar to the
northern heavens. Slowly, calmly, grandly, the great sun
sank toward the dark hills behind which he was soon to
disappear, and his dying splendour gave an added glory to
every feature of the marvellous panorama-the green slopes
and purple hill-tops, the long procession of black frowning
precipices mirrored in the blue transparent sea, and, over
all, the first stars of evening coming softly into the sky above
the red glow of sunset, like the dawn of Christianity
stealing upon the bloodshed of northern barbarism.
Long did the two climbers sit gazing in silence at that
glorious scene from their lonely watch-tower, till at length
Hardy felt, or thought he felt (for the air had till now been
perfectly still) a faint breath of wind upon his cheek.
He started slightly, for to him that seeming trifle told an
ominous story, and turned his face toward the open sea,
whence the breeze appeared to come. As he did so, he
caught sight of a faint dimness far away upon the southern
horizon, just on the line between sea and sky-a dimness
so slight and distant that a less keen eye than his would
hardly have noticed it at all, but to the weather-skilled
traveller a sure token of coming storm !
Hardy glanced around him. The hitherto calm water
was already beginning to heave uneasily, and long smooth
swells were sweeping in from the open sea, growing larger
and higher every moment.
'Well, Alwyn,' cried he so lightly and merrily as to betray
not the slightest sign of his inward forebodings, 'I suppose
we may as well be stirring, for we shall be apt to catch
cold if we sit here too long. Besides, I don't know how
you feel, but I want my tea !'
'So do I,' cried the boy. 'Come along !'
And down the rock they scrambled, Hardy leading as
CUT OFF. 55
The breeze freshened with surprising rapidity, and was
already blowing quite strongly, while the sea-birds, warned
by their unerring instinct of the approaching storm, came
winging their way homeward in clouds through the darken-
ing air, with hoarse, ominous shrieks.
During the whole descent-which was a long and trying
one, for they had to zig-zag quite round the rock, from its
seaward to its landward face-Seymour Hardy never uttered
a word, and kept looking steadily before him, as if watching
for the appearance of something which he at once feared
And at last it came. When they at length reached a point
from which the foot of the landward side of the rock and
the way by which they had reached it became visible, the
boulders which had served them as stepping-stones were
no longer to be seen. One and all had been already covered
by the sea; and between the shore and the two doomed
climbers raged a roaring whirl of white-lipped breakers,
leaping, foaming, and dashing themselves upon the sunken
rocks with a fury through which no man living could have
fought his way unharmed. Their retreat was cut off!
FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST.
EPARED as Seymour Hardy was for this
fearful revelation, it was a terrible shock to
hilm-not, certainly, through any fear for
himself, but through his only too well-founded
anxiety regarding his young and untried com-
panion, who, but for him, would never have been involved
in this peril at all.
Had he been alone, the veteran traveller would have
laughed at the whole thing as a capital joke; and if he found
no way of escaping from the rock, which a man so fertile
in resources could hardly fail to do, he would have thought
little of remaining upon it till the tide went down again,
and defying rain and spray to do their worst upon his
hardy frame. But to this delicate and tenderly-nurtured boy
a whole night of such exposure would be little less than
certain death; and even should he survive it, he would be
in equal danger from the violence of the coming gale, which,
bursting full upon him on the bare side of that unsheltered
rock, would inevitably hurl him headlong from his dizzy
perch into the roaring sea below.
Hardy saw instantly that there was only one thing to
be done, and he did it.
'Well, we're nicely caught, aren't we ?' said he to Alwyn,
with an admirably-feigned laugh--for he knew well that
FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST.
all was lost if he once allowed the nervous, excitable lad
to take in the full horror of the danger that threatened
them both. It just serves me right for not keeping a better
look-out; I ought to have known that the tide must be on
the turn. Well, I'll tell you what we'll have to do now;
you must just stay still where you are, and keep snug in
this corner, where the wind can't get at you, while I get
across to the main cliff, and fetch up men and ropes from
the town to draw you up.'
'But how are you going to get across?' asked the lad,
who, though taking it for granted from Hardy's confident
tone that the latter had some definite plan of action, was
rather curious to know what it could be.
'Oh, I '11 get across all right, never fear !' said his friend
so cheerily that the keenest observer could not have guessed
that he was just about to risk his life on a venture where
the chances were twenty to one against him. Jam yourself
well in behind that rock, and tie your handkerchief round
your head; and stay-you'd better have my coat too, for
it's getting rather cold.'
The boy would have objected, but Hardy stopped him
by saying gaily :
I shall be all the lighter to climb without it, you know,
and you really would not be warm enough as you are. Wrap
yourself well up, and mind you don't stir out of this corner
till I come back-I won't be very long. When your father
hears that you've climbed this rock, and remained on it
all by yourself, he '11 be proud of you, I can tell you that.'
And, clapping his young comrade heartily on the shoulder,
away went Hardy upon the most perilous adventure that even
he had ever undertaken.
His quick eye had already singled out a point about forty
feet above the sea, where the main cliff and the isolated crag
upon which he found himself, curving outward towards
each other, approached near enough to one another to be
just within the compass of a desperate leap; and what
FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST.
he was now about to attempt was simply to spring across
the intervening chasm, and take his chance of being able
to alight upon a narrow, slippery ledge of rock on the
farther side !
To almost any other man such an attempt would have
seemed absolutely hopeless. The actual breadth of the leap
itself, indeed, though formidable enough, was quite within
the power of one of the first athletes in Britain; but this was
only the smallest of the dangers with which he had to
contend. The scanty space of the ledge from which he
meant to leap gave him barely room for a spring, while that
upon which he wished to alight was so narrow that even if
he did reach it, which seemed anything but certain, there
was still a frightful risk of his coming against the face of the
cliff with a shock sufficient to throw him backward again,
and hurl him headlong down the precipice. In a word,
unless he could hit the exact medium between making his
spring with too little force or with too much, he was a dead
But no one knew better than Seymour Hardy that such
things must not be paused over, and that the only way to
achieve a desperate feat is to 'go at it at once.' Measuring
the breadth of the gulf with his eye, and marking the spot
where he meant to alight, he drew himself together, and shot
out like a sea-bird into the empty air!
The next moment he felt his feet strike the farther ledge,
and his hands close instinctively upon a projecting point of
rock, while he put forth the whole power of his voice in an
encouraging shout to Alwyn Dare, who answered it from
behind his sheltering crag with a faint hurrah.
The bold leaper had not, however, escaped wholly un-
scathed. As he had foreboded, his face came so violently
against the surface of the cliff as he alighted that the blood
gushed freely from his mouth and nose; but the pain was
almost unfelt in the glow of the joyful thought that the
hardest part of his task was now accomplished.
FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST.
But was it ?
One glance upward sufficed to give him fatal proof to the
contrary. There was still enough daylight left to show him
a narrow crack or cleft running up the face of the cliff, by
means of which it might be possible for such a climber as
himself to reach the top. But, unhappily, the lower
extremity of this fissure lay beyond the utmost stretch of his
arm, and the surface of the rock just above his head was so
perfectly smooth that the smartest topman in the British
navy could not have found hand-hold or foot-hold there.
What was to be done ?
I must just make a spring, and chance being able to
clutch it,' muttered Hardy. If I miss I'm done for; but,
hit or miss, that boy can't be left where he is.'
Silently commending himself to God, the brave man
threw all his strength into one desperate leap upward, and
just succeeded in clutching the rough and broken edge of the
cleft, cutting both hands severely in doing so.
Wherever Seymour Hardy could get his hands up, he
could get his feet up likewise; and in a trice he had wormed
himself into the cleft, almost tearing his clothes from his
back as he did so, and was crawling up the face of the
precipice like a fly on a wall, shouting ever and anon to the
lonely boy below, who never failed to respond with an
That evening Mr Cramwell had strolled out with Flo a
little before nightfall, making for the Nab as the best point
for a full view of the glorious sunset. But they did not
escape unobserved by one of the numerous boy-guides that
haunted the hotel, who dogged their steps as persistently as
an Italian beggar, kindly offering to show them the way to
half a dozen different places where they did not in the least
want to go.
In vain did Mr Cramwell assume his severest aspect, and
bid the clamorous boy begone; the severity which awed the
FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST.
scapegraces of Hollowdale seemed to have no power over this
sturdy little descendant of northern pirates. But they were
suddenly relieved from their tormentor in a very unexpected
They had just reached the crest of the rocky headland,
and Sandy Robertson was renewing his solicitations more
perseveringly than ever, when all at once there rose spectrally
up between them and the red sunset, on the very brink of
this seemingly unscaleable precipice, a hideous form, black,
ragged, ghastly, with hair and beard as rough and tangled as
a buffalo's mane, and features almost undistinguishable
through the mask of blood and dust that covered them !
Sandy stared for an instant in open-mouthed horror at this
frightful apparition, and then, screaming out, 'A ghaist a
ghaist !' fled yelling down the hill, to startle the town with the
news that a ghost had risen up from the bottom of the sea,
and alighted before his very eyes upon the Neck of the Nab.
'Hallo, Cram well! don't you know me?' asked the
hobgoblin, in a familiar voice.
'Why, Hardy!' cried the amazed master, 'is this you?
What on earth have you been at '
'Alwyn Dare and I were cut off by the tide,' panted
Hardy, 'and he's there yet, and I'm running for help to
draw him up. I wish you and Flo would go along the cliff
to where he can see you, and give him a word now and then
to keep him up ; for if he's left there all alone, with the sea
rising around him and night coming on, he '11 be apt to lose
Flo and her father instantly hurried in the direction
indicated, while Hardy flew toward the town like a hunted
The general excitement produced by Sandy Robertson's
announcement that he had seen- a ghost was in no way
lessened by the sudden bursting in of the transformed Hardy,
who, in his present plight, looked very much like a half-
murdered sweep. But the moment the brave Shetlanders
FLO CRAMWELL SEES A GHOST. 61
heard that there was a boy in danger, and needing help,
nothing more was required to spur them to instant action;
and Hardy had some difficulty in picking his men from
among the scores of eager volunteers who crowded round
While the rest flew in all directions to fetch ropes and
other needful appliances, the men chosen followed Hardy up
the hill; and with them went Major Dare himself, who
could hardly believe his own eyes and ears when he saw his
'milksop' of a son standing alone upon that perilous height,
and heard him replying in cheery tones to the words of
encouragement which Mr Cramwell kept hallooing to him
from time to time.
Not without considerable difficulty, and no small danger as
well, was this involuntary Robinson Crusoe at length rescued
from his miniature island; but the bruised and exhausted lad
felt amply repaid for all his hardships by his father's
approving clap on the shoulder, and hearty Well done, my
brave boy! I'm proud of you !'
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.
UMP aboard lively, Hardy no time to
'I've no wish to lose any, I assure
you,' laughed Hardy, looking over the
yacht's side as Major Dare hailed her; 'for
they say time is money, and I have little enough of that
to lose !'
'So much the better for you,' muttered Sir Frederick
Goldhall, who was standing just behind him.
Two days had passed since Alwyn Dare's sensational
escape from the precipices of the Nab, and in that time a
good deal had happened.
Alwyn himself, filled with the consciousness of having
faced danger like a man, and earned the approval and even
the applause of his stern and unbending father, was quite a
different being; and, as Seymour Hardy had foretold, the
major was forced to own that his treatment of the lad had
been a mistake. In fact, Dare himself, after warmly
thanking Hardy for so bravely risking his life to save the
boy, had placed Alwyn at his friend's entire disposal for the
rest of their trip, with full permission to do whatever he
thought best for the boy's training-a charge which the great
traveller frankly and heartily accepted.
Flo Cramwell, overwhelmed with shame and remorse at
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. 63
having actually spoken ill of her favourite author to his very ',
face, had been on the look-out ever since for a chance of
apologising. But she looked in vain, the ever-active editor
being usually out before she was up, and not home again till
she was in bed.
Hardy's second exploit, achieved ere the lustre of his first
had had time to fade, had made him the hero of the whole
town; and his feats on the Nab, marvellous enough in
themselves, had been so startlingly embellished by rumour as
to leave the greatest achievements of Baron Munchausen far
behind. Reports differed slightly as to the minor details of
the performance; but that the hero had leaped head-foremost
into the sea from a height of sixty feet, swum round the
headland against the tide with all his clothes on, and then
climbed a hitherto unsealed precipice, with one hand dis-
abled by being crushed against a sunken rock, was now an
article of popular faith which no one would have dared to
Mr Cramwell and the major, introduced to one another by
Hardy, proved to have so many friends in common, that they
seemed to know each other quite well already. The two
men, different as they were in every respect, took to one
another surprisingly (perhaps for that very reason), and had
several long walks together, accompanied by Alwyn and
Meanwhile Sir Frederick Goldhall had not forgotten his
project of getting Hardy to accompany him on a short
excursion to some of the local 'sights;' and when the author
came to lunch with him aboard the Refuge on the day after
their swimming interview, he found his host deep in the
planning of a trip to the famous 'Cave of Bressay,' of which
he had heard so much.
Sir Frederick's first idea was naturally to make the voyage
in one of the boats belonging to the yacht; but this was at
once negatived by Hardy, who declared emphatically that
they were far too light for the work in hand, and that, short
64 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.
"as the distance was, it was quite long enough to be dangerous
if attempted in a boat the build of which was not adapted
for these uncertain and perilous waters.
'The best thing you can do,' he concluded, 'is to hire Hay
Blanch and Peter Nisbet for the day. They're the two
smartest boatmen in the whole island, and their boat's as
reliable as themselves.'
'All right,' said Goldhall; 'only we two will be rather a
small company for a big boat like that.'
'Well, if that's the only drawback,' cried Hardy, 'it's
easily remedied, for I'm sure my friends at the hotel would
be very glad to go too.'
The young baronet seemed at first inclined to demur to
this, being still haunted by fears of the annoying notoriety
fastened upon him by his position as a millionaire; but
Hardy made short work of his objections.
'You may be easy on that score, my dear fellow. Two of
the party are a little girl of eleven and a boy of thirteen, who
have very likely never heard of you at all; and the other
two are gentlemen to the backbone, who would never dream
of alluding to your position in any way, when once they
knew you didn't like it. By the bye, I haven't told you their
names yet. One of them's Mr Cramwell, a master at
Hollowdale, and a very good fellow in spite of all his learning;
and the other's a man of whom you must have heard pretty
often-" Daring Dare" of the -th.'
What the Major Dare, the hero of Ferozabad ? I should
think I had heard of him And I shall be very glad to have
a chance of seeing him at last. Bring 'em all, then, if they
like to come; and I '11 pack a good big lunch-basket for you,
and we'll have a regular picnic.'
And so it was all settled; and, at the appointed time, Hay
Blanch's boat, with the hotel party on board, ran alongside
the Refuge to pick up Sir Frederick Goldhall and Seymour
Hardy, the latter having dined and slept aboard the
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. 65
'Well, Flo, are you actually going to venture out in a boat
with a real live editor? Aren't you afraid that I may spring
upon you and eat you tfp 1' said Hardy in a playful whisper
to the little golden-haired fairy beside him.
'Oh, Mr Hardy, I am so ashamed said the child
penitently; 'I can't think how you can ever forgive me
for being so shockingly rude to you !' '
'Never mind, dear,' rejoined the author, patting her rosy
cheek with a good-humoured laugh; 'if the newspapers said
nothing worse of me behind my back than you've said to my
face, I should be very much luckier than most authors, I can
'And don't you really mind them a bit, then ?' asked Flo,
looking up in wondering admiration at this unexampled
stoicism. 'I couldn't bear to have people saying all sorts of
things about me that weren't true.'
'Well, it's just because they're not true that I don't
mind them,' said Hardy quietly. 'What on earth does it
matter to me if one newspaper says that my grandfather was
an Irish rebel, or another declares that my brother is a
Nihilist assassin, while a third hints that a notorious pirate
disappeared from the Eastern seas just about the time I
came home from 'China, and a fourth charitably suggests
that the reason why I won't give my portrait to be published
is that it might be recognized by the police? All their
chatter can't make their lies into truth, you know, so why
in the world should I care ? But come, we mustn't keep on
talking when we ought to be looking at the view; isn't this
a charming picture ?'
It certainly was. Upon the clear, pale blue of the northern
sky, now all ablaze with the glory of the morning sunshine,
hovered a few thin streamers of snow-white cloud, 'like
angels' feathers floating down from heaven,' as Flo remarked
with unconscious poetry. On one side of them lay the
green sloping shores of 1Mainland, buttressed every here
and there with huge pillars of dark-gray rock; and the
66 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.
small boulder-like houses and winding streets of Lerwick,
behind which ring after ring of purple hills rose darkly
against the sunny sky. On the other side, beyond the
dancing ripples of the deep-blue Sound, towered the mighty
cliffs of Bressay, in the crannies of which still lingered a few
flakes of the winter snow, sloping down ever and anon into
a smooth, land-locked basin, on the surface of which two or
three tiny boats were flitting to and fro.
Hardy began to point out to his tiny companion the leading
points of the scenery, and to show her the way by which
the wicked Earl of Bothwell, the third and worst husband
of Mary Queen of Scots, entered Lerwick Harbour in his
flight from Scotland, and the rock upon which the pursuing
ship of Kirkealdy of Grange struck at the very moment when
he was about to pounce upon the flying murderer.
The two soon became quite confidential, and the child,
gradually losing her first terror of having mortally offended
her pet author, as she saw how little he seemed to think of
it, at length ventured to say to him, with an archness which
became her charming little face very well:
'Now, Mr Hardy, don't you really think, after all, that
you were rather hard upon that poor little story of mine,
and that you owe me an apology ?'
'I do indeed,' said the editor with perfect gravity, 'and
I'm just going to make it now. I know that every con-
tributor who has had an article rejected must feel it hard to
have the work on which he has spent so much time and
labour sent back to him like that, without a word of explana-
tion; but that question, like every other, has two sides to
it. Now, suppose you're an editor, and have to rush away
to your office before you've half breakfasted; and there you
sit all day in a close room, chin-deep in papers, poring over
pages after pages of illegible handwriting, ninety out of a
hundred of which will be of no use to you whatever, with
a splitting headache, and your lungs filled with dust, and
your eyes aching, till you get so sick and tired of it all that
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.
you hardly know what you're doing. And then, at the
very last moment, just as you're beginning to hope that
your penance is over for ,the day, in come half a dozen more
things which you're sure beforehand won't be a bit of good,
but which you must read all the same. Well, don't you
think that, in such a case, you would be glad to skim them
as quickly as possible, and then pop 'em into an envelope
and get rid of them 1'
Here he suddenly stopped short, for he saw tears beginning
to glisten in the bright blue eyes which were fixed upon
him so earnestly.
'Oh, I am so sorry,' faltered the little penitent remorse-
fully; 'I never thought it was such hard work as that. I
didn't mean to give you so much trouble-I didn't indeed!
Please forgive me!'
Hardy laughed good-naturedly, and kissed the poor little
downcast face as tenderly as if he had been her father.
'There, there-don't vex yourself about it. I know that
every young writer thinks all editors his natural enemies,
and vice-versd; but we won't think so, will we? And as to
forgiving you, if I were to vow eternal enmity to everybody
who sends me an article that I don't want, I should soon
find myself hating the whole human race, like Timon of
Athens. Besides, we've taken a fresh start since then, you
know. Why, I've given you another subject myself-that
swim of mine the other day, you remember-and I shall
expect to see something wonderful, when you have time to
'I'll tell you a secret,' said Flo, bending close to him,
and lowering her voice to a whisper befitting a communication
of such awful and mysterious importance; 'I've begun it
'Oho!' said Hardy in the same tone, 'have you really?
Well done You must let me see it, presently, and perhaps
I may be able to help you a bit.'
And then, being once launched upon this inexhaustible
68 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.
subject, the great editor and his literary god-daughter found
plenty to talk about for the next half-hour.
Meanwhile Sir Frederick Goldhall was getting on capitally
with the major and Mr Cramwell; for it was quite a treat
to this frank and sociable young fellow to find himself once
more, after weeks of seclusion aboard ship, with no company
save the rough seamen of his crew, in the society of culti-
vated gentlemen, who were willing to treat him just like an
ordinary man, ignoring altogether his unlucky millions, and
the wearisome renown conferred by them.
By this time the young baronet had fully compared notes
with his two new friends as to their travels and his own,
and was just beginning to 'draw out' Major Dare upon his
East Indian campaigns-a subject upon which the old
soldier was always ready to talk-while Alwyn, to whom
most of his father's stories were still new, eagerly drank in
All this while they had been working their way out of
the southern entrance of the Sound toward the open sea;
but their advance was anything but rapid, for, as not a
breath of wind was stirring, they had to trust wholly to
their oars; and, though these were handled with wonderful
strength and skill by Hay Blanch and old Peter Nisbet, they
made slow progress, for so heavy a boat, with so many
passengers added to her crew, was not easily forced through
the water, smooth as it was.
Any one new to the ways of Shetland might well have
wondered why the picnic party had chosen a day so utterly
breezeless for a trip which, though short in actual distance
was quite long enough for two men pulling a heavy boat.
But the reason of this was explained a few minutes later
in a very characteristic fashion, by old Peter Nisbet him-
'Well, Peter,' cried Mr Cramwell, noticing that the old
man kept glancing watchfully out to seaward as he rowed,
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS. 69
'are you watching for the wind to get up? Suppose it does
get up, what then ?'
The gruff old sea-dog eyed his questioner with a look of
grand, indulgent contempt, such as the captain of an Atlantic
steamer might cast upon some raw passenger who had rashly
ventured an opinion about the weather; and then, after a
pause of impressive silence, he answered slowly and solemnly,
letting fall his words one at a time:
'Gin-the-wind-get-up, we 'll-a'-be-at the bottom
-i' five minutes !'
A general laugh greeted the old fellow's blunt retort,
which most of the party took for a joke. But Goldhall,
catching Seymour Hardy's eye at that moment, answered it
with a somewhat conscious look; for, in fact, he and the
traveller had only the evening before had a warm discussion
on that very point, brought on by Hardy's insisting that the
excursion was possible only upon a perfectly calm day.
'What for?' Sir Frederick had answered, with the air
of a man accustomed to have his own way in everything,
if he chose to pay for it. 'We're not babies or girls, to
be sick at the first lurch; and I suppose we're none of us
afraid of weather! I don't see why we are to wait for the
wind's convenience. If I offer those two boatmen of yours
double pay, I'11 be bound they'll take us out there whether
it's rough or not !'
'Yes,' said Hardy gravely, 'that's just what they will do,
and that's just what I want to keep them from doing. Both
these men have families to support, and if you offer them
high pay, they'll give the money to their wives, turn
everything out of their boat except just what's needed for
the voyage, and then go out with us, and take their chance
of going down. Now, even if you think you have a right
to hazard your own life-which, mark you, I don't in the
least admit-you can hardly call it fair to risk, just for your
own pleasure, the lives of two other men who have wives
and children depending upon them.'
70 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.
'You're quite right,' said the young man, somewhat
abashed. 'That's just one of the troubles of having money
-you get to think you can do everything with it, and never
stop to consider what may come of it. Well, arrange it as
you think best, then; whatever you say, I'11 do.'
This talk now came back upon Goldhall's memory with
startling suddenness at the old sailor's ominous words; and
well it might, for he had only to look around him in order
to see for himself the truth of Hardy's warning.
They had just rounded the mighty tower of Bressay Head,
which, together with the Nab on the opposite shore, formed
as it were the gateway of the Sound, and were now fairly in
the open sea at last, having on their lee an iron-bound coast
which even the reckless young yachtsman could not but
own to be one of the most dangerous that he had ever seen.
Bare, grim, merciless, the vast black precipices towered sheer
up out of the sea, to a height of several hundred feet,
nowhere offering so much as a palm's breadth of foot-hold
to the doomed wretch who might be hurled against them by
the pitiless waves. As Sir Frederick truly said, 'a cat
couldn't get ashore alive;' and, fearless as he was, the
young baronet was forced to admit that to be caught by the
wind in such a place would be little short of certain
Even the high spirits of the six holiday-makers seemed
to feel the gloomy impressiveness of the scene, and their
merry talk gradually died away into silence, as if following
the example of Peter Nisbet himself, who, having admin-
istered his one morsel of 'Job's comfort,' seemed to feel
that he had done all that was required of him, and did not
utter another word till they reached the cave whither they
When they did reach it, it came like a surprise upon the
whole party. Flo Cramwell, in particular, was looking in
vain for any sign of it upon the massive front of this giant
rock-wall, in which no opening was to be seen large enough
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.
to admit an oar-blade, much less an entire boat, when they
glided round a projecting crag, and suddenly found them-
selves right in front of a mighty archway, such as Virgil
or Dante would have chosen for the portal of the world of
'Now, Mr Cramwell,' cried Sir Frederick Goldhall in his
cheeriest voice, as if bent upon dispelling the secret awe
which was beginning to creep over one and all, 'give us an
appropriate quotation; you're the scholar of our party, you
'Well,' answered the Hollowdale master, laughing, 'unless
I were to spout the whole Sixth Book of the YEneid, I can't
think of anything so pat to the purpose as a passage of
A place there is, deep, wondrous deep below,
Which cheerless gloom and horror overflow,
Where their vast court the mother-waters keep,
And, undisturbed by suns, in silence sleep.'
'I say, who on earth was Cowley ?' whispered Goldhall to
'A gentleman who lived in the time of Charles I. and
Charles II.,' replied the author, 'and who was thought a
good deal of by the critics of his day, one of whom was
graciously pleased to pronounce some of Milton's verses as
"almost equal to those of the great Mr Cowley." But
nowadays, somehow or other, Milton seems to have got
rather the upper hand of him.'
The boatmen bent to their oars, and one stroke carried
them from the bright morning sunshine to the gloom and
silence of eternal night. And as they went deeper and
deeper into the cold black shadow of this living grave, Flo
instinctively drew closer to her chosen hero, and slid her soft,
warm little hand confidingly into his.
But the darkness did not endure long. The ever-handy
Hay Blanch suddenly kindled a huge torch of dry pine-wood,
beneath the red and fitful glare of which, as he held it aloft
72 BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.
over his head, started into view, all in one moment, a very
weird and startling spectacle.
Above their heads rose three magnificent natural arches,
perfect as those of any Gothic cathedral, the largest of the
three spanning with its massive strength the whole breadth
of the cavern, and the two others flanking it to right and
left. But only a part of the bold sweep of their rocky sur-
face could be seen, so thickly festooned was all the rest with
the richest hangings of every varied colour-bright summer
green, glowing crimson, pale gold, rich purple, deep blue,
flaming scarlet, and glossy velvet-black. And as if all this
were not enough, there hung from the dark arches, and from
the rocky walls on either side of them, to the number of a
dozen or more, what seemed to the amazed spectators like
chandeliers of solid silver, studded with diamonds and other
precious stones of every kind!
Not till their dazzled eyes had grown somewhat used to
this bewildering mixture of tomb-like darkness and blinding
light, did the explorers discover that these gorgeous hangings
were nothing more than clusters of seaweed, and that the
jewelled chandeliers were splendid stalactites several feet in
length, as fine as any that Hardy had seen in the Grotto of
Adelsberg, or Goldhall in the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky.
But even the decorations of this gloomy spot had a tinge of
horror. As the red torch-light flamed upon the wet seaweed
and dripping rocks, the heavy drops that fell slowly from
them wore a hideous likeness to fresh gore dropping from a
wound, while the restless sea which formed the floor of the
cavern, black as ink where it lay in shadow, and blood-red
wherever the glare of the burning wood fell athwart it,
looked alternately like a pool of pitch and like a river of
Slowly they glided onward, deeper and deeper into the
darkness. Not a word was spoken; for the blithe talk and
merry laughter of the living world could find no entrance
into this great palace of death. The dead, grim silence, the
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.
ghostly gloom, the fitful fire-glow that broke it with a light
more ghostly still, had an overwhelming power which, almost
touching each other though the voyagers were, weighed
down every one of them with a sense of ghastly isolation.
'Fancy being here alone!' muttered Goldhall at length,
with an involuntary shudder; and his words expressed the
very thought which was uppermost in every mind at that
Suddenly a blank wall of solid rock started out of the
gloom in front of them, seeming to bar their way completely;
and all thought that they had reached the end of their
voyage. But it was not so. The boat made a sharp turn,
and a fresh vista of rocky arches, and dark pools, and glitter-
ing stalactites, opened all at once before them.
But the second cave was narrower than the first, and the
rocky walls on either side seemed as if slowly closing to
crush them, while the jutting crags, as the spectral torch-
light played over them, took strange and hideous shapes.
Here, a monstrous serpent writhed its endless coils; there,
grinned and gnashed the gaping jaws of a ravenous wolf.
Farther on rose the shaggy head of a lion, while a huge,
black, clawed hand, darting down towards them from above,
seemed to clutch murderously at them as they went by.
'Just like those wicked polypi that tried to seize hold of
the little mermaid,' whispered Flo, nestling closer between
Hardy and her father.
And now they paused once more; and this time the pause
was final. They had reached their farthest point, and, far
down in the sunless depths beyond, they could hear the
sullen roar of unseen waters, rolling unchecked where man's
presence had never been.
'I suppose there's no man ever been in there ?' asked the
'Ay, there was one!' answered Hay Blanch; and some-
thing in his tone made all the listeners shudder in spite of
BENEATH THE ROOTS OF THE MOUNTAINS.
And then, in_ a voice wholly unlike his own, so strangely
did its harsh, hollow echo come back from the dark caverns
around, he went on:
'Puir Robbie Anderson! he was aye (always) a venture-
some chiel; and when the auld fishermen spak' o' yon place
where nae man had been, naething wad serve him but he
maun gang and do 't himself Sair, sair we pled wi' him no to
fling his life awa'; but he wadna be guided, God forgi'e him !
I think I can see him noo, jist as he stood up i' the black
mouth o' the fearsome cavern to tak' his last luik o' the day-
light, wi' the sun glintin' on his bonnie face and his bright
hair, as he smiled and waved his han' to us a'. And sae
(as the Gude Buik saith) he went doon alive into the pit-
and he ne'er cam' back ony mair !'
Told in such a place, the dreadful story, and the grim
emphasis of its teller, chilled the boldest of its hearers with
secret horror; and all felt relieved when they passed from
that gloomy dungeon to the light of day, little dreaming that
the deadliest peril of all was waiting there to overwhelm
A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH.
S they emerged from the cavern, old Peter
Nisbet glanced instinctively to windward as
usual; and instantly his firm lips compressed
themselves so tightly as to make his hard
old face look harder than ever. Not a word
did those set lips utter; but his significant nod evidently
spoke volumes to Hay Blanch, who, after gazing fixedly for
an instant in the same direction, answered with a look of
Nothing of this by-play had escaped the observant Hardy,
who needed no explanation of its terrible import. The wind
was rising at last, and the old whaler's grim prophecy that
if it did rise, they would all go to the bottom, seemed but
too likely to be accomplished to the letter 1
This was no time for hesitation or reserve. Hardy leaned
over to his friend the major, who was just setting to work
to unpack their lunch-basket, and conveyed to him, in a
hurried whisper, that a few minutes more would probably
see them all face to face with almost certain destruction.
Such a revelation, so suddenly made, would have sorely
tried the nerves of any ordinary man; but the hardy soldier,
to whom the sudden facing of instant and violent death had
for years been quite an every-day matter, received it coolly
enough. His face never changed one whit, and the strong
A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH.
hands which were uncording the basket pursued their task
as steadily as ever.
'Well, there's nothing we can do but just sit still,' whis-
pered he in reply, for the boat has only two oars, and these
two fellows handle 'em far better than we could do. Don't
say anything to the rest, for it's no use frightening the chil-
dren.-They'll find it all out quite soon enough,' he added
with grim significance.
In the meantime Flo and Alwyn had seen nothing to alarm
them, and had no idea whatever that anything was wrong;
nor, indeed, had Mr Cramwell himself, who, although no
novice in travelling, had had little experience of the sea.
But Sir Frederick Goldhall, if a young baronet, was an old
yachtsman; and though the slight but ominous signs of
coming storm which the two sailors had so quickly discerned
were still imperceptible to his less practised senses, he was
not long in divining that some special danger must be close
A quick glance telegraphed this to Hardy and the major,
who replied with a cautioning gesture which Goldhall per-
'Well, I suppose we may as well have lunch now,' said
Dare, as cheerily as if he were only presiding over an or-
dinary picnic, instead of what might well be his last meal
on earth. 'Hardy, will you help me to serve out the
The author did so, and in a trice every one was supplied,
while poor little Flo, still ignorant of the doom that was
darkening over them all, laughed gleefully as she saw the
various good things taken out in succession, and declared that
Sir Frederick was 'like one of those good fairies in the story-
books, you know, who used to give people enchanted baskets
in which they found whatever they liked to wish for.'
Meanwhile the two sturdy boatmen were pulling their
hardest in this race with death ; and Major Dare, anxious to
sustain their strength to the utmost, offered them a share of
A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH.
the food, even volunteering to feed them with his own hands
while they rowed.
But both men stoutly refused the tempting offer.
'It's no a time to think o' that noo,' said old Peter in a
tone of quiet rebuke. 'It was a' varra weel for thae feckless
haythens i' puir St Paul's crew to tak' their dinner when the
ship was near-han' sinkin'; but auld Peter Nisbet winna do
And Hay Blanch approved his partner's blunt verdict with
an emphatic nod.
By this time the signs of coming evil were too plain to be
mistaken. The surface of the water, hitherto smooth as
glass, was just beginning to be ruffled by those light ripples
which seamen call 'cat's paws.' The still air was faintly
stirred by the first breath of the rising wind; and, far to
the southward, a surging line of 'white-caps' had already
become visible along the horizon.
'Oh, just see those pretty white waves yonder!' cried
Flo, clapping her tiny hands gleefully. 'I wish they were
just a little nearer, so that we could see them quite plain I
do so like to watch them!'
As the unconscious child prattled on, Dare set his lips
tightly, and Sir Frederick drew his breath hard, as if in pain,
while turning his eyes from the distant line of foam to the
towering headland beyond which lay safety. How terribly
far away it seemed! and, every time he looked at it, it
appeared farther and farther still.
'Why do you work so hard, Hay ? We've got plenty of
time, you know,' said Flo, springing up and laying her hand
upon Hay Blanch's shoulder. 'Leave off and rest a bit, and
I'11 give you a piece of my tart.'
The brave Shetlander answered only by looking sadly at
the bright, fresh little face which might so soon be fathoms
deep beneath the cruel sea; but just then Hardy, prompt as
ever, came to his assistance.
'It's going to rain presently, Flo, and you know it wouldn't
A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH.
be at all nice to get wet through,' said he, with a laugh which
ought to have made his fortune, had he been an actor; 'and
it's very kind of Hay to work so hard to get us home before
it comes on. Sit down here, and have a bit of this cake,
while Hay and Peter show us how they can go along.'
The two gallant boatmen did indeed 'go along' like men
fighting for their lives, and for other lives than their own;
and even in that deadly crisis Sir Frederick Goldhall (him-
self no mean oarsman) noted approvingly the wonderful skill
with which they made every stroke tell to the utmost. But
the effort of forcing so heavy a load through the water was
too exhausting to be long maintained; and it now seemed
only too certain that this match with death, the stake of
which was eight human lives, would be a losing one after
By this time even Mr Cramwell himself was beginning to
look uneasy; and Hardy, seeing that he had already half
guessed how matters stood, whispered to him the whole truth.
Not a word spoke Cramwell in reply to that fearful disclosure;
but the look that he cast at the tiny figure by his side said
more than any words.
Meanwhile the major was making the same communication
to his son; and the father saw with secret pride that, although
the boy's cheek grew pale for a moment, and a startled look
came into his eyes, the glow which instantly lighted up his
delicate face showed that the native courage of his race had
risen to meet the trial.
'What am I to do father i' asked the lad eagerly.
'Put a life-buoy round Flo, and get another on yourself,
and then sit quite still-that's all that can be done just now.
When the time comes, I'11 tell you what to do.'
Stronger and stronger came the rising wind upon their faces;
nearer and nearer swept the advancing line of foam; while
the vast rocky headland which was their sole refuge from
destruction loomed out tantalisingly beyond them, to all
appearance as far away as ever.
'I may jus as well go oo,' and a hird splash accompanied his words.
'I may just as well go too,' .. and a third splash accompassid hris words.
A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH. 79
And all this while the sky was blue and bright above them,
and the sun shone in cloudless glory, and the pitiless sea that
was hungering to devour them all, danced and sparkled merrily
in the light. It seemed as if all the fullness of life were
outspread before the doomed men in their last moments to
heighten the bitterness of death.
But all at once Seymour Hardy, who had been silent and
thoughtful for some moments, leaped to his feet and called
out: If the boat were lightened a bit, we might do it yet.
Here goes !' And flinging off his coat and shoes ere any one
could tell what was coming, he coolly jumped overboard, and
began to swim alongside the boat.
Follow my leader !' shouted the young baronet as gleefully
as if they were only playing a game; and the splash of his
plunge followed Hardy's like an echo.
'Well, I'm as heavy as both of you put together,' said
Major Dare coolly, 'and so I may just as well go too;'
and a third and far louder splash accompanied his last
'What are you at, Dare?' cried Hardy. 'You forget that
you can't swim !'
I've put on a life-buoy,' answered the major quietly,
'and I'll be bound I'll manage to get through the water
somehow; and, if not, better drown one than all. Alwyn!
what are you doing ? Sit still!'
The order was given not a whit too soon; for Alwyn Dare,
eager to give some proof of his courage which no one could
mistake, was just on the point of plunging into the sea after
'Stay still, my boy,' called out Hardy. 'Your weight
wouldn't make much difference, and you '11 be more use where
you are. Stay still, and take care of Flo.'
Just then, however, Flo did not seem to need much taking
care of; for she was clapping her plump little hands and
shouting with laughter at the sight of her companions jumping
into the sea with their clothes on, evidently regarding this
A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH.
diving epidemic as a new and very amusing game, and a
regular part of the day's fun. But Mr Cramwell's heart sank
within him as he realized for the first time the greatness of the
peril which could drive even his cool and experienced com-
rades to such a desperate resource.
The generous sacrifice, however, had not been made in vain.
The boat, thus suddenly relieved from a weight of more than
five hundred pounds, visibly quickened her speed, and the
swimmers soon perceived that, if not checked by some un-
foreseen accident, she would, after all, be safe behind the
sheltering headland ere the impending storm burst.
But what about themselves ?
What, indeed ? Had they been alone, such swimmers as
Hardy and Goldhall could have gone quite as fast as the
boat; but it was a very different matter when they were
coupled with a man who could not swim at all. In fact, poor
Major Dare found himself mistaken, like many others, in
supposing that there could be no great mystery in the art of
swimming, and that all one had to do was to strike out
vigorously. He did so, but only found himself floundering
awkwardly about in one place without advancing a foot; and
his two comrades were forced to take hold of him, one on
each side, and literally tow him along, thereby, of course,
perilously retarding their own progress.
One glance over the stern of the receding boat told Mr
Cramwell how matters stood; and he muttered tremulously
under his breath: 'God help them !'
'Look here, you two,' said the major to his comrades, 'I 'm
only keeping you back; go ahead, and let me take my chance.'
'I'1 see you cashiered first,' answered Hardy as coolly as
'Hurrah!' shouted Sir Frederick at that moment. 'There
goes the boat round the Point at last-she's all safe now !'
'Thank God !' said Major Dare; then it doesn't matter so
much what becomes of us. Now, if I could only swim!'
A MATCH AGAINST TIME WITH DEATH. 81
'Would you like to try a bit suggested Hardy; I '11 tell
you what to do.'
He gave Dare a few simple directions, which the major
obeyed to the letter, and soon found himself, to his great
delight, actually making some progress.
But the sea was getting higher every moment, while the
swimmers, hampered by their wet clothes, were beginning to
flag. And now there burst upon them such a blinding squall
of rain that they could as little tell where the shore lay, or
which way to head for it, as if they had been actually blind.
There was a sudden clamour of hoarse voices close beside
them, a gust of flying spray, a rattle of spars and cordage, a
heavy shock, and then they felt themselves seized and dragged
aboard a light fishing-smack, which, running before the wind
for the entrance of the Sound, had come up just in time to
'Well,' panted Major Dare, as the rescuing boat carried
them past the Point into the sheltered roadstead a few
moments later, 'I've gained one thing by this business,
anyhow-I've learned to swim!'
IN A CITY OF DWARFS.
RE ye gangin' oot, sir ? Ye 'll be for gangin' till
the Fort, then, I'm thinking' ?'
This query was addressed to Mr Cramwell,
as he stood at the hotel door, on the second
Morning after the memorable expedition to the
Bressay cave; and the speaker was one of those sturdy little
shock-headed urchins, whose berry-brown faces and bright
blue eyes swarm in every corner of the metropolis of
Shetland, ever on the look-out for a chance of picking
up a stray sixpence by piloting some 'Southron' visitor
to one of the many points of interest in the neighbour-
The boy's face seemed familiar to Cramwell, and, looking
closer at him, he recognized Hay Blanch's 'callant,' whose
sudden arrival with Seymour Hardy's abandoned clothes, and
the news of the latter's supposed death, had startled the whole
hotel a few days before.
'The Fort !' echoed the Englishman, with a disdainful
glance toward the rickety little mound of gray, crumbling
stones (with half a dozen veterans, aged and infirm enough for
a Greek chorus, to be defended by it) which forms the citadel
of Lerwick. 'What on earth is there to be seen there, except
a. couple of guns too cracked to be fired, and three or four old
cripples too shaky to fire them ?'
IN A CITY OF DWARFS.
Hoot, sir, it's no Fort Chairlotte I'm speaking' o'; it's the
Peghtish fort in the loch, oot by' (yonder).
A Pictish fort, eh ?' repeated the Hollowdale master, with
sparkling eyes, for he was a bit of an antiquary as well as a
scholar. 'I never knew that you had one here.'
The urchin swept the grave scholar from head to foot with
one glance of grand and massive contempt for the latter's gross
'Ne'er heard o' oor Peghtish fort! Losh, man where can
ye hae lived a' yere days ? It's just the varra thing that
a' body (every one) here gaes to luik at. Will I shaw ye the
way till't '
'Well, I '11 tell you what, my good boy,' said Mr Cramwell,
after a moment's consideration, 'I can't go with you now,
because I'm expecting a friend to breakfast; but if you'll
come back in about an hour's time, very likely we may all go
to see the Pictish fort together.'
'Varra gude,' replied Jamie Blanch with alacrity; and
away he went, showing all his splendid white teeth in a
broad grin of satisfaction at having thus made sure of his
The friend whom Mr Cramwell was expecting was no less
a personage than Sir Frederick Goldhall himself; for the
acquaintance so strangely begun had been cemented by the
peril through which our travellers had passed in company two
days before; and the whole six-Seymour Hardy, the major
and his son, Mr Cramwell, little Flo, and the millionaire
baronet-were by this time on so familiar a footing as to be
like members of the same party. On the previous day they
had all lunched aboard Sir Frederick's yacht, and had invited
him to breakfast with them at the hotel, with the under-
standing that, when breakfast was over, they should all
(weather permitting) make an excursion to one or other of
the 'sights' in the neighbourhood; so that Jamie's mention
of the Pictish fort came just at the right moment, as all the
IN A CITY OF DWARFS.
guests agreed when Mr Cramwell announced this discovery at
'Who on earth were the Picts, by the bye asked Sir
Frederick. I fancy I learnt something about 'em at school;
but if I did, I've forgotten it again, as one generally does.
Were they called Picts because they were all picked men 1'
'More likely because they had such a wonderful gift of
picking up other people's property,' said Hardy. 'But here's
Mr Cramwell, who has all history at his finger-ends; he will
tell us everything that is known about them.'
'I can easily do that,' rejoined the Hollowdale master with
a quiet smile, 'for nothing is known about them at all with
any certainty. Their very name is a matter of dispute; for
while some derive it from the Latin "Picti" (painted), from
their habit of painting their bodies (which it's not certain
that they did, by the bye), others make it out to be a Celtic
name, and write it variously Piks, Peghts, Piochts, Piaghts,
'I suppose we may take our choice of names,' whispered
Sir Frederick Goldhall to his right-hand neighbour, Seymour
'Of their language,' continued Mr Cramwell, there is but
one word left-" Benval "-which is just enough to set anti-
quaries fighting as to whether it was a Celtic or a Gothic
dialect. As for themselves, if history speak truth (which it
very seldom does), they were a race of barbarians that haunted
the north of Scotland and the adjacent isles, and were con-
stantly quarrelling with their fellow-savages the Scoti or
Scots, who at length exterminated them to the last man, after
the convenient fashion of the good old times.'
'I have nothing to add to the statement of the honourable
member who has just sat down,' said Hardy, except that the
popular traditions of northern Scotland represent these Picts
or Peghts as a race of savage and very ugly dwarfs, as squat,
long-armed, and generally monkey-like as any of the black
dwarfs of South Africa.'
IN A CITY OF DWARFS.
What! have you really seen them-the same that Stanley
met ?' cried Flo Cramwell excitedly.
'No, not those same ones. I didn't get far enough up the
Congo for that; but on the Orange River, farther south, I
came across some dwarfs that no respectable monkey would
think of shaking paws with.'
'I can quite believe that,' chimed in the young baronet,
laughing; 'but, judging from what I've seen of the municipal
authorities in certain country towns of old England, one
needn't go from home to fall in with very little men who are
a good deal like monkeys.'
Well, here's our friend Jamie Blanch coming to fetch us,
I see,' said Mr Cramwell, whose seat was nearest to the
window, 'so, I suppose, we had better be getting ready to
They did so in a trice, and were just about to set off,
when it suddenly occurred to Mr Cramwell that the walk
might perhaps prove too long for his little Flo; and he
inquired of Jamie what the distance was to the Pictish
'No that far,' answered the lad with true Scottish in-
This sounded rather vague, and for a moment Cramwell
hesitated; but Flo (who was, indeed, no mean pedestrian)
protested so vehemently against being left behind on such
an occasion, that her father at length yielded, the stalwart
major having pledged himself to carry her home on his
shoulder in case she felt tired.
'Or, if the worst comes to the worst,' suggested Hardy,
'we can easily catch a pony for her. That's the regular
thing in these parts, you know. There are always plenty
of 'em straying about-there go a lot of them yonder, you
see, this very minute-and all you have to do is to catch
and mount whichever one you like, ride him as far as you
please, and then jump off and turn him loose, and he's
safe to find his way home all right.'
IN A CITY OF DWARFS.
Away they went accordingly in the bright morning sun-
shine, with the bracing sea-air filling their lungs, and making
every nerve and sinew bound with a fresh life of its own.
Is there any pleasure, after all, equal to that of scouring
an untried bit of country in the freshness of early morning,
with the swing of a stride that can do anything up to five
miles an hour, and never flag --a bright, clear sky overhead,
a boundless perspective of new scenery opening around, and
every limb and muscle tingling with honest, healthy exertion
till the mere sense of living becomes a pleasure of itself.
And even should the ground wax rough and broken, or
the sky cloud over and break into pelting rain, what matter ?
It is 'all in the day's work,' and merely a pleasure of another
kind, dearer than any other, perhaps, to John Bull's com-
bative nature-the pleasure of having a hard struggle with
difficulties, and overcoming them all.
So felt all our pedestrians, from the big Major Dare to
the small Flo Cramwell; but the staunch little heroine found
both her breath and her strength sorely tested by this
prolonged ascent (for their way was all up-hill), and felt
rather inclined to envy the tireless activity of their boy-
guide, who, though fully a year younger and considerably
smaller than Flo herself, led the way up slope after slope
with a springy stride worthy of the nimblest warrior in
'That little fellow goes along like a bird,' said Hardy to
Goldhall. 'What an illustration he'd make for Locksley
Hall / He's just the very model of one of those "iron-jointed,
supple-sinewed," young savages whom the hero proposed to
rear. I wish Tennyson were here to touch him off.'
'Well, as Tennyson isn't here, suppose you do it for him,'
rejoined the baronet. Tip us a poem on the noble savage;'
you seem to be able to reel off verses as easily as you do
'I'll try, if you like,' answered the author; and he at
once began to extemporise as follows:
IN A CITY OF DWARFS.
'Over mountain, over moorland, scorning wind and rain and dirt,
Nothing with me but a sandwich, nothing on me but a shirt.
All in vain the distance blackens forward, forward let us range;
If we do get wet, no matter-when 'tis over, we can change.
There, methinks, would be enjoyment, more than in our morning
In the meerschaum, in the novel, in the roll of billiard balls.
There the muscles, cramped no longer, shall have scope and
I will do my five miles hourly-that's about a decent pace.
Iron-jointed, supple-sinewed, we can dive and we can run,
Splash thro' every stream we meet, and dry our flannels in the sun.
Trammelled not by cares of luggage-scaling cliffs, and leaping
Not, like other tourists, 'wildered over Bradshaw's mystic books.'
'Oh, Mr Hardy, did you really make up all that your
own self only this minute V asked Flo Cramwell wonder-
ingly: for this was the first sample which she had yet had
of that gift of improvisation that had made Seymour Hardy
the poet-laureate of many a passenger-steamer in the
'Indeed I did, my dear,' said Hardy, patting her round
cheek; 'we authors have to do our work quickly, you know.
Only the other day, I had to write a whole book in three
'What a wonderful man you are!' cried the child, with
a grave earnestness that set every one laughing, while Hardy
acknowledged the compliment with a low bow.
'Well,' said Sir Frederick, 'I only wish I could paint
a picture as easily as you knock off a poem. If I could,
I'd set to work this minute; for here's one worth painting,
And well might he say so. They had just reached the
summit of a high ridge, which commanded a view of the
whole surrounding country; and a noble panorama it was.
IN A CITY OF DWARFS.
In front of them rose, slope above slope, the green, sunny
uplands, thickly dotted with those quaint little toy cattle
which yield the finest beef and the richest cream in Europe.
To their right, the straggling lines of small gray houses (with
steep shingly roofs and narrow loophole-like windows) form-
ing the 'town' of Lerwick clung like limpets to the low
ridges, or clustered along every point of the shore; and
beyond them, Sir Frederick's trim little yacht hovered like
a white-winged sea-bird upon the deep-blue waters of the
Sound, over which frowned the vast black cliffs of Bressay
Islet. To the left, the smooth, green hillside ended abruptly
in the black, grim precipices of the formidable Nab, around
which clouds of sea-birds were whirling and swooping with
shrill, unearthly cries. Southward lay the open sea, which
was breaking upon the craggy headland with a deep booming
roar, showing that its late fury was not yet wholly calmed
down; and far to the westward, beyond a wide waste of
bare gray moorland, towered the dark purple ring of rocky
hills which bulwark the western shore of Mainland against
the ceaseless battering of the unresting ocean.
'Look out yonder, Alwyn, away to the west,' said Seymour
Hardy to Alwyn Dare. 'Do you see that dark-gray spot just
in the mouth of that hollow between those two big hills?
That's Scalloway, where we were the other day, and where,
as you remember, I showed you the ruins of the castle built
by that nice Earl of Orkney whom the Shetlanders, and the
Orkneymen too, still compliment with the title of "Wicked
Earl Pate" (Patrick), which he certainly appears to have
done his best to deserve. By the bye, the fate of that
same Earl Patrick ought to be a warning to you schoolboys,
for he was put to death simply for putting the nominative
instead of the genitive in a Latin exercise.'
The boy stared-as well he might-and a ripple of coming
laughter quivered over the plump, rosy face of little Flo,
who was evidently expecting some first-rate joke.
'I daresay you don't believe it,' said Hardy, smiling, 'but
IN A CITY OF DWARFS.
it's true, for all that. When the Earl repaired the castle
of Birsay, in Orkney, which had been built by his father,
Robert Stuart (a son of King James V. of Scotland), he
wanted to put up an inscription to that effect over the great
gateway. Now, what he meant to say was, "Robert Stuart,
son of James V., king of Scots, erected this building." But,
being no great things of a scholar, he did it into Latin this
way : "Robertus Stuartus, filius Jacobi Quinti, Rex Scotorum,
hoc edificium instruxit;" and so, by putting "rex" instead
of "regis,"he made it.mean: "Robert Stuart, son of James V.,
and king of Scots !"'
'What a duffer he must have been!' cried the young
baronet; 'why, I know better than that myself !'
'Well, he paid dear for his bad grammar, anyhow,' said
Hardy; 'for-just to show you how they used to do things
in those days-the Scottish government, which had let him
go on for years robbing, burning, and murdering among these
poor islanders without saying a word against it, gravely
pronounced him guilty of high treason in saying that his
father had been king of Scotland, and put him to death
This story-a perfectly true one-was greeted with
general laughter; and Alwyn Dare confided to Flo, in a
whisper, that 'if everybody that made mistakes in their
Latin exercises had got to be executed, they'd need to open
a training-school for hangmen !'
'Well,' cried Hardy, expanding his chest with a long,
deep breath of intense enjoyment as they moved forward
This was not Earl Patrick's only blunder in Latin. The inscription
furnished by a local churchman for the gate of Scalloway Castle, where
traces of it are still to be seen, though taken by the ignorant Earl as a
compliment, really conveyed a bitter sarcasm upon his ill-gotten power:
'Cujus fundamen saxum est, domus illa manebit
Stabilis; et contra, si sit arena, permit '
which may be thus translated:
'If founded on a rock, the house is sure,
If on the sand, it will not long endure.'
IN A CITY OF DWARFS.
again, 'the good old fashiori of going on foot is the best
as well as the oldest way of journeying, after all I would
rather, by far, travel in this style than have all my bones
shaken out of joint by the jolting jog-trot of a camel, as I
did in crossing the deserts of Central Asia.'
Or be imprisoned in a first-class pepper-box on a creeping
train,' chimed in Major Dare, 'and swallow a shovelful of
sand every time you draw breath, as I did in Lower Egypt.'
Or sit perched on a beast of a Spanish mule,' added
Sir Frederick Goldhall, 'and amuse yourself, while the brute
picks its way along a ledge just wide enough to hold it, by
watching your right or left foot sticking out over a sheer
precipice of two or three thousand feet, as I did in
'Or find yourself jammed up in a "diligence "like a herring
in a barrel, on "a hot summer day, among half a dozen
fellows reeking of garlic or bad tobacco, as I did in Italy,'
wound up Mr Cramwell, with a savage emphasis which
showed that he had endured this penance often enough to
have a full appreciation of it.
But just" then this 'chorus of travellers' was suddenly
cut short; for at that moment little Jamie Blanch, who still
kept his place a few yards in advance of the party, was seen
to come to an abrupt halt, and to point downward, while he
called out with the full power of his shrill, childish voice:
'Yon's the loch, and the Peghtish fort i' the middle o't!'
One and all pressed eagerly forward to look; and there,
sure enough, in a hollow just below them, lay outstretched
a long, narrow strip of dark water, from the midst of which
rose, like a brooding shadow, a low, black, shapeless mound.
MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.
SHE first feeling of the sight-seers-as generally
happens in such cases-was one of grievous
disappointment. The mention of a 'fort' had
suggested to them all, with the exception of
Seymour Hardy, who had been in the northern
seas before, a vision of solid walls, massive towers, and
crumbling battlements, wreathed with ivy; whereas what
they now looked upon was merely a formless heap of stones
and rubbish, much more like a disused brick-kiln than any
'Well, if that's a fort,' growled Major Dare, with grand
military disdain, 'I could make as good a one myself any
day by emptying out a dust-bin.'
But ,as they drew nearer, this strange old lair of extinct
monsters began to define itself more clearly, and. to exhibit
traces of architectural skill, as well as good military choice of
position. The side which faced the visitors was little better
than a heap of ruins; but enough of the groundwork
remained to show that the fortress had once been encircled
by three complete walls, one within the other.
It's been a strange place in its day, yon burgh, for a' it's
sae dang doon noo,' said Jamie, with the air of a connoisseur.
' There's another i't he isle o' Mousa, a great muckle ane-
wise folk say that some great laird frae Norroway siegit
MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.
it for ten years, and cudna win in (gain entrance). But
ye'll hae read a' that for yersels', I'm thinking i' Walter
Hallo !' cried Sir Frederick, not a little surprised to hear
this bare-footed fisher-boy speak so familiarly of the great
author, 'you seem pretty well up in Scott, my friend!'
'Hoots, man! a'body kens Walter Scott here. D'ye no
mind that he made a haill buik aboot us Shetland folk-YThe
Pirate, as they ca' 't! Mony 's the gude customer yon buik's
brought us; and ye 'll see a dizzen copies o 't here for ane o'
ony either buik. Ye may gang into the muckle shop yon'er
i' the toon, and see for yer ainsel's!'
'The schoolmaster's abroad, you see, Mr Cramwell, figura-
tively as well as literally,' whispered Hardy to the Hollowdale
master, who was beside him. Igot just the same sort of
surprise myself a few years ago when I was visiting the
great Buddhist temple of Kochikadeh, in Ceylon, where I
met an old Singhalese bonze (priest), the very picture of a
genuine Asiatic from head to foot, who quoted The Light of
Asia to me in English, and talked as familiarly of Sir Edwin
Arnold and Max Miiller as if he had been at school with the
pair of 'em !'
Sir Walter didna say anything aboot this Peghtish burgh,'
resumed Jamie, who had now got upon what was manifestly
a favourite subject with him; 'but he spak' o' the either ane
i' the isle o' Mousa, and he spak' o' Scalloway Castle too, and
o' "Wicked Yerl Pate" that biggit (built) it, wha was hangit
lang syne-I dinna mind jist when.'
On the 6th of February 1614, in the reign of James VI.
of Scotland,' promptly struck in Mr Cramwell, whose memory
for dates was something phenomenal.
'Ay, man! d'ye ken that?' cried the urchin, turning to
the best-read form-master in Hollowdale with a patronising
graciousness that well-nigh upset the gravity of the whole
Jamie was in error here; but the siege, though not so long as that of
Troy, was long enough to tire out the besieger, Jarl Harald of Norway.
MAJOR 'DARE PLAYS SAMSON.
party. 'I'm thinking then, that ye Englishers are no sae
ignorant as ane wad fancy, after a' !'
By this time they had reached the edge of the lake,
through the shallow waters of which a rude causeway of
large stones, extremely irregular and broken, led to the island-
This is, of course, a later construction,' said Mr Cramwell,
eyeing this rude path with the same critical air which he
was wont to assume when pouncing upon some 'false
quantity' in his pupils' Latin verses. 'The ancient lake-
dwellings were always reached in boats. This causeway is
doubtless a purely modern addition.'
'It seems probable,' said Hardy gravely. At all events, if
I had a snug fort right in the middle of a lake, I hardly
think I should go and make a paved road up to my front
door, for the convenience of any enemy who might happen to
be passing, and might wish to pay me a call.'
While talking thus, they had picked their way along the
*causeway, and, scrambling over the ruins of the outermost
wall, found themselves in front of the second, which was
some ten or twelve feet high, and in much better preserva-
Just at that moment their boy-leader set up a wild whoop,
and, plunging forward, vanished head-foremost into a cleft
of the crumbling masonry, like a terrier darting into a rabbit-
Somewhat startled by this spectral disappearance, Seymour
Hardy bent over the hole into which their adventurous guide
had vanished, and discovered, to his no small surprise, that
the entire wall, which was of a considerable thickness, was
honeycombed with narrow, tortuous passages, barely wide
enough for one man at a time !
Follow my leader !' shouted Hardy, seized with the spirit
of the moment; and he, in his turn, plunged like a diver
into the dark tunnel.
Quick as thought, the- dignified Mr Cramwell dashed after
MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.
him as eagerly as a boy, all on fire with the thought of
perhaps making some brilliant antiquarian discovery; and
after him came Flo and Alwyn Dare, to whom this under-
ground game of hide-and-seek appeared the finest fun
But here the procession closed, for its last two members
found it a case of 'no thoroughfare.' The gap which had
been barely wide enough for the spare Cramwell and the
supple Hardy, was far too narrow for the broad-chested
baronet or the gigantic major; and after all but tearing their
clothes from their backs in a fruitless effort to ram themselves
into the hole by main force, they were fain to rest content
with making the circuit of the wall outside, watching
anxiously meanwhile to see their entombed comrades
But their watch seemed likely to be a long one; for
although these underground pilgrims had been so quick to
enter the secret passage, they were very slow in getting out
again-and not without reason. Apart from its extreme
narrowness, the gloomy catacomb in which they had so
rashly involved themselves was so low that even the children
could not walk upright, while Hardy and Mr Cramwell were
forced to crawl on their hands and knees I
'Keep close to me, Flo, whatever you do!' cried her
father, as he heard his little girl's merry voice behind him;
'if we once lose you in a place like this, there's no knowing
when we may find you again!'
And well might he say so. Small, coffin-like cells, which
had probably been used as sleeping-places, honeycombed the
whole wall on either side; broken stairs led away to the
right and left; and other passages branched off from the one
in which they were in a most intricate and puzzling manner.
Fortunately they were not left in total darkness; for the
countless chinks and clefts of the crumbling masonry admitted
light enough (though of a faint and doubtful kind) to guide
them on their way. On they went, therefore, bumping their
MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.
heads against projecting stones, bruising their knees and
elbows, plastering themselves with dirt from head to foot,
and looking around them, as they advanced, with an ever-
growing amazement, for which there was certainly ample
Every part of this strange fortress was on so small a scale
as to recall in a very bewildering way the legend of dwarfs
and elves with which the far North abounds. The steps of
the stairs were hardly six inches high; the sleeping-cells
would not have given an ordinary man room to turn; and the
galleries, as has already been said, could only be entered on
all-fours by persons of average height!
There now, papa !' cried Flo in a tone of triumph; 'you
said there were no such things as elves and fairies, but you
see there must have been some once upon a time.'
This was the very problem which was just then perplexing
Mr Cramwell, who hardly knew what to think of it. Could
the weird legends at which he had been laughing all his life
be true after all; and were these strange creatures really
such as tradition painted them, dwarfish and deformed,
but endowed with preternatural strength and cunning, and
counterbalancing a less than human size by a more than
brute ferocity .
But his musings were suddenly broken by a shrill shout
from Jamie Blanch, a few yards ahead; and, a minute later,
they came forth into the daylight once more, through another
gap similar to that by which they had entered, finding as
they did so, to their no small surprise, that they had actually
made, in this mole-like fashion, nearly half the circuit of the
Their appearance was greeted by their expectant comrades
with a peal of uproarious laughter, which certainly was amply
justified; for seldom indeed had four such hobgoblins shown
themselves in the light of day.
Seymour Hardy's face and hands were black as a sweep,
and his hair and beard so white with powdery dust that he
MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.
seemed, like Rip Van Winkle, to have passed from youth
to extreme old age in the space of a few minutes. Alwyn
Dare was one mass of dirt from head to foot, and a scratch
on his cheek had bled so freely over his hands and face as
to give him all the outward aspect of the 'Third Murderer'
in Macbeth; and little Flo, whose torn dress fluttered around
her 'like banners to the sky,' was crowned like a Greek
Bacchanal with a wreath of ivy, which, after all but tearing
her hat from her head, had finally been broken off as it
deserved, but not till it had entangled itself so thoroughly in
her long golden hair as to defy all her efforts to get it out again.
But the loudest roar of all broke forth when poor
Cramwell made his appearance, black as a negro minstrel,
with his trousers torn right across both knees, his spotless
collar befouled into the likeness of a crumpled sheet of black
sticking-plaster, and his respectable broadcloth coat split up
the back in a way which, as Sir Frederick Goldhall cruelly
remarked, 'showed that he was sometimes behindhand with
At sight of him, the whole party, in spite of all their
efforts to restrain themselves, laughed till they were fairly
exhausted; and Cramwell himself good-humouredly joined
in their merriment, though evidently rather disturbed by the
thought of having to go back right through the town in such
But, the moment he began to laugh, the mirth of his
companions rose to a perfect shriek-and no wonder. While
in the tunnel, he had wiped his heated and dust-begrimed
face with his fingers again and again, raking long lines of
white over its blackened surface, till lie was regularly striped
like a zebra, forcibly suggesting a very elaborate piece of
high-class tattooing; and when to all this was superadded a
broad grin, the effect became simply overwhelming.
But all this was speedily put to rights. The water of the
lake relieved the transformed master from his war-paint, and
a few pins summed up the long division of his torn coat;
MAJOR DARE PLAYS SAMSON.
and then, his fellow-explorers having similarly repaired
damages, the party moved forward again.
'This last bit of work,' said Hardy, still flipping clouds of
dust from his head like hair-powder, 'reminds me of how a
man was once taken all over Edinburgh by an enthusiastic
local antiquary, who at last marched him into a pitch-dark
place, and said solemnly, This is the house of Knox." Yes,
confound it, I see it's the house of knocks," says the other
fellow, fetching his head a tremendous crack against the wall,
"but I could have found that out for myself "'
Between the second wall and the third lay a trench so
deep that it might almost be called a moat; and, indeed, the
whole inner part of this grim old stronghold of primeval
barbarism seemed to be quite as much beneath the ground as
'It is a fact worth noting,' said Mr Cramwell, with the
air of a lecturer addressing his class, 'that whereas marauders
of a superior class-the castle-building Normans of England,
for example, or the robber-barons of the Rhine-have always
been found to plant themselves upon the highest point
available, it is the uniform tendency of the lowest grade of
barbarism, such as the Bushman, the Tartar, and the Eskimo,
to lurk in holes in the ground, like wild beasts.'
'So I should judge,' replied Hardy, from the underground
burrows in and out of which I used to see the Kirghiz
creeping, in Central Asia.'
Well,' cried the young baronet, with a sly chuckle, 'judging
from what I've seen of English elections, Central Asia's not
the only place where people creep through very dirty ways to
get into a borough.'
'Goldhall! I didn't expect this from you !' said Hardy in
a tone of fatherly reproach.
'Beg pardon, my dear fellow,' rejoined Sir Frederick; 'I
assure you I would never have ventured upon such a joke if I
had thought it possible that anybody could see it!'
The third or innermost wall-which, like the others, was