Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

26 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



I-The Late Shah.-I



Armenian Horrors.I



The -Transvaal.I







THE LITTLE HIGHLANDER. 1 By M. MOORSOM, I [COPYRIGHT.] I Please don't beat it, poor thing. Just irive it away." Ihus appealed to I desisted j irom laying my stick about the fawn-coloured -ddes of the little bullock, contenting myself yifch threatening gestures to which it rather scornfully yielded, and I then set about Releasing its prisoner. The girl's face was as charming as her voice, and the graceful activity she showed in extricating herself with my help from her awkward place of refuge was not the least of her attractions. How she had got up into it without help seemed almost a miracle, for the railings round the young tree sloped very much out- ward from the hedge on which they were placed, and below them was a steep, slip- pery sandbank also sloping forwards, with a wide miry ditch at the bottom. But with tm angry little Highlander snorting defiance behind her and throwing up the earth with aoof and horn, she had not stopped to con- sider difficulties, and had performed some- diking like a flight into the very opportunely placed cage. We walked on together towards the house, ihatting like old friends. Our friend with e long horns was perhaps not very well vithorised to introduce us. but under the jircumstances his good offices were sufficient, for I knew perfectly well that she was Rachel Surtees, and she had rightly guessed mat I was her brother Bob's most intimate criend. The footpath was a quite unfrequented 3ne, and having been besieged for some time before I came to the rescue she had Sad ample opportunity of observing her xssailant, whose handsome, shaggy counten- ance seemed to have excited her admiration. U Don't say anything about it running after me, please, Mr Kennedy," she entreated. Bob might complain to the farmer." But it's a dangerous little brute, it would be better out of this field." Oh, no, it meant no harm, it was only play. Why, if they knew they might have it killed." I thought that was not improbable in any ease, and the same idea occurred to her, for she turned a horrified face upon me. Do you think they mean to do that ? Oh, I hope not, I should be sorry. It is such a beautiful little creature, it enjoys its life so aiuoh." Oh, well, I—I don't think it is intended for the butcher, Miss Surtees. In fact I Want a few of these Highland kyloes. I'm going to buy them of Dawson, and I'll take Tare that your friend is one," said I, who had never set. eyes on the beast till now, and bad as much idea of buying a white elephant Õji any of its race. To such depths of weak- ness and duplicity may a man be reduced by love at first sight, or rather first speech, for I had already noticed her face in church. Tea was going on when we got in, and 1 lingered as long as I decently could over the sup of tepid water-bewitched, and the 1Dorselof leaden, half-toasted teacake. Mrs Surtees was not a good manager. 1 hoped she might have asked me to stay to dinner, she had done so on several times when those black-a-vised little sisters of hers were with her, and it was hard lines that she didn't seem to think of it when I should have liked to talk to pretty Ray. I gave her that name in my own mind from the arst, and it suited her exactly. She was like a ray of sunshine. To add to my annoyance, that great hulk. ing Geoffrey Hillhouse came in just before I left. I suppose there's not much harm in the fellow beyond being an idiot and too fond )f nips and pegs at odd times, but i can't ,tand him, and the sight of him exasperated me just then. I knew how Mrs Surtees would coodle over him—that woman would grovel before anybody related ever so slightly to the Peerage, and, of course, old Lady Hillhouse, with the ltarl, her eldest, and Geoffrey, her second son, were at the top oi that sort of tree in our parts. A few days later I heard that a big grouse- drive was coming off at the Castle, and that a large party of ladies had been asked to dine and sleep the night before, and to join the shooters at lunch on the moor. What Wouldn't I have given to be there when I thought of that fellow having it all his own way with Ray it made me really mad. But when a, man's property has come to him Saddled with debt and all in ,t mess, and when besides taking a couple of farms into his own hand and working hard to make them pay, he accepts the land agency of a neighbouring estate to earn a little ready ush, his time isn't exactly his own, and holidays come once in a blue moon. There is a very pretty path along the Arget's b-inks, a couple of miles or less from Surtees' place. The river flows there through beautiful shady woods, and is swift and rough, like a Devonshire stream, with great mossy boulders in it. Ray found out this place at the beginning of her visit, and delighted in it she had been there the day the little Highlander chased her. Knowing she came from a town, I asked her if she wasn't afraid to be in such solitary places alone." Afraid ? Not a bit, she answered. M There's nothing to hurt me in this quiet lountry, and I'm not at all nervous. You'll think I was frightened of that kyloe, but really I wasn't; I thought it might knock me down, and that I'd better get out of its way, but I felt no actual fear." It would have been no wonder if you had." "Perhaps not, but it is only about guns that I'm a downright coward. I used often to have a nasty dream of a man following me with me one, and it has given me a quite ridiculous dread of firearms." The path by the Arget formed one way between my two farms, and one day soon after the grouse drive I met Ray there with Hillhouse at her side. He had quite evidently taken a nip or two more than was desirable. He was lurching about with uneveu steps, carrying his gun in the most careless fashion, and when he drew behind Ray, which he did at intervals under the apparent impression that the path had narrowed, the weapon pointed straight towards her. Her face looked white and drawn with terror, and her eyes flashed a signal for help the moment I came in sight. I should have liked to kick the fellow into the river, but a gun at full cock is rather awkward besides I did not want any row. So I forced myself to look pleasant, and turned with them. Hillhouse scowled at me for doing it, but I began admiring his new gun, and his face cleared at once. Guns were his hobby. Seeing a couple of wood-pigeons on a tree, I asked him to give me a shot. Loaded, eh 7" Right enough, both barrels," he answered, carelessly, and I saw the shudder that came over Ray. I knew how she hated-bless her tender heart-to see anything killed, and I fired both barrels quite wide of the cushats, who flew away unhurt. Jrlillhouse chuckled over my failure as I haiwed him back the empty weapon, which he was now free to cut any Srtperb with that he pleased. After this Ray needed no prompting to avoid solitary walks. Some while later, however, Mrs Surtees, who was too delicate or too indolent to walk, asked her to do an errand the way to which was by the Arget bank, and not likely to confide her fears to her sister-in-law she resolved to risk it. She felt the less fear, as she knew that the Castle party were shooting a moor at some distance, and she walked on with a light heart, possibly bestowing a stray thought or two upon another unworthy person, when, on the homeward way, some impulse prompted her to glance backward, and there lo her horror was Hillhouse lurchin, about as unsteadily as before, and again carrying the un. She darted behind a tree, fervently hoping Ihat she had not yet been seen, and then pped on at her quickest pace, keeping to t;).1, fide of the path which was least in f,iC%I. Ten minutes' rapid walking brought t-c-r to the meadows leading up to the house. The gate into the tirst was Awkward to open and impossible to climb, Had whilst her trembling ifngers wrestled with the fastenings, he gained upon tar and called out to her to wait. Her foart stood still with terror she tried to penmade herself that a gun could hardly be ngerous in the hands of an accustomed Miortsman, even in the condition in which Hillhouse was but the reasoning availed little against her instinctive dread. There wm nothing for it, however, but to summon op all her courage, and assume a manner of calm indifference. "A nice dance you've led me, Miss Rachel," was his greeting what did you pelt along at such a pace for 2" I am in a hurry they are expecting friends at tea, and I shall be late," she answered, pressing on as fast as before. Hillhouse tried in vain to keep up with her light steps, and presently she slackened them, realising that the gun was less dangerous alongside than pointing at her from behind. That's right!" he exclaimed, delighted at her complaisance. Take it easy, that's what I always say easy here, of all places nice jolly sort of quiet place for spoons. I've got a thing or two to say t' ye-" Upon this he began to pour forth the love and admiration he had felt from the very first, puor Ray trying in vain to stem the flood of his incoherent eloquence. He appeared quite incapable of comprehending a rebuff, but at length it began to dawn upon his hazy mind that he was not yet accepted. I'll have a plain answer and a kiss—a plain answer and a ki?s," he insisted, with tipsy repetition and grasping her wrists with both hands he held her stationary, the gun held loosely under his arm, swinging back and forward as he did so. "Sou don't stir from this spot till I've had my answer." A low, muffled sort of snort came like a a reply, and caused both to look up and start. The little Highland kyloe stood before them, making threatening demonstra- tions with its horns, as it had done once before to Ray. Since her encounter with it she had avoided the field where it grazed by taking a different and rather longer branch of the path, but on this occasion, in her anxiety to get quickly to the house, she had never thought of the creature. Hillhouse seemed uncertain how to act, but Rachel promptly set the example of trying to pass it, and he mechanically fol. lowed. The kyloe, however, at once capered in front- of them, with "no road this way plainly written on its mischievous face. After vainly dodging back and forward for some time Hillhouse became enrtged, Hang it, I mut shoot the brute Oh, don't, don't!" Ray entreated, but her voice was lost in the two quick reports that followed. Had those barrels been loaded the little Highlander would never have lifted hoof or horn again but although the caps exploded, there was no charge —either the too festive sportsman had omitted to put it in, or some prudent onlooker had quietly withdrawn it. Roused to real fury, the bullock now put its head down and charged in earnest at the Hon. Geoffrey, who flung his gun at it with an oatil, and fairly fled for his life without tak- ing a moment's thought for the girl to whom lie had just been professing eternal devo- tion. Catching sight of the cage round th young tree, where Ray had before taken refuge, he dashed for that shelter, but on the sloping bank his unsteady feet failed, and he fell headlong into the deep and filthy ditch below. The aggressor stood and sniffed at his prostrate form with supreme con- tempt, and then trotted quietly away to a distant corner of the meadow. In the pleasant paddocks adjoining my garden the little Highlander leads a petted and luxurious life. Time has taught him discrei ion in the use of his horns, and he will lower his shaggy head to be caressed by Ray, and receive pieces of carrot quite gently from her hand, though by my wish she exchanges these amenities with him through the bars of a gate. Hillhouse was greatty sobered by his ducking in the dirty ditch, and so subdued that Mrs Surtees presently married him to one of her black little sisters. He has got over past rebuffs and is on quite a friendly footing with us, but Way and I always notice that he looks askance at the little Highlander.

Reading Murders. I I







Welsh Gossip. 1



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