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sense?" He would have used a stronger expression if he could have thought of one in his agitation.
"I dinna ken," said Helen, looking down. "She's terrible uneasy -naebody can get sleepit for her. Ye'll no can bide then?" as Mr Morton made a frantic dive after his hat, which had rolled upon the floor amongst the poultry.
"My time is valuable," replied the minister, when he had secured it. "I have stayed too long already. Rest assured I will No, I will not promise to come back," he said mentally. "I will pray for you," he concluded aloud, as he left the cottage.
Next time Mr Morton met the village doctor he asked him whether he had seen Tibbie Law, and what he thought of her state. The doctor answered that the old woman was dying-not a doubt of it; that she had been dying for months, and showed wonderful strength to have kept alive so long in that unhealthy cottage and with insufficient nourishment. He did not consider her insane-indeed he seemed surprised at the question; and as Tibbie had evidently not spoken to him of her supposed crimes, Mr Morton did not feel justified in betraying her confidence. He could not put her out of his thoughts, do what he might; her weird old face haunted him, and he felt that to pacify his own conscience he must do something for her. He went home and desired his housekeeper, Bell Gillies, to go at once to Tibbie Law's cottage with presents of food and money. Bell remonstrated in her usual emphatic manner.
"It's vera weel to veesit," she said, "an' it's vera weel to pray, an' nae wastry there; but ance fling awa' siller, an' ye'll rue it. There Thamas Callum lyin' wi' a hert trouble, an' there auld Mar
VOL. CLVI.-NO. DCCCCXLVI.
get Beatoun lyin' wi' the rheumatisms, an' there a heap o' bairns keepit frae the schule wi' the rushfever, an' ye'll be for giein' them a' siller, nae doot-an' whaur 'll ye land syne?"
The minister could not but admit to himself that there was force in Bell's argument, but dignity required that he should pay it no apparent attention. But he made it his business to find out Thamas Callum and Marget Beatoun, whose names he now heard for the first time; and in attending to those sufferers he soon found out others, for there was much sickness in the parish. Mr Morton became rather popular with his poorer neighbours. "He's nae preacher, puir body-but oh! he's a kind heart," was the general verdict. Bell, however, became rather indignant on his account, and thought it her duty to prevent his being preyed upon on all sides.
"Here that lang useless Ellen Law back again!" she said, bursting into his room one day, "seekin' a drap broth to her gude-mither. I just telt her we've nae broth— does the wife think we're made o' meat?"
"No broth?" said Mr Morton; "then send something else."
"We dinna hae onything else." "Nothing else?" repeated Mr Morton, sitting upright; "surely I have fowls?" He had just heard a cock crowing outside, which suggested suggested this brilliant idea.
"Fowls!" said Bell. "Troth, she can just kill her ain fowls. She got a clockin' hen frae me this spring."
"Isabella," said Mr Morton, "supply the woman with a fowl, and leave me. I am engaged."
“He's a thrawn deevil, that," muttered Bell between her teeth
as she retreated. "Supply the woman,' quo' he. I'll supply her wi' a steekit door, or maybe a besom-handle, gin she come here again." She hastened to make this determination known to Helen Law, who replied in suitable terms. Mr Morton heard the raised voices of the two women, and resolved to put a stop to their dispute. He threw the door open impetuously, and dashing out, desired the younger Mrs Law to retire at once, if she had got what she wanted.
"I've gotten naething," returned Helen, sulkily, "forbye unceevil language."
"It's hersel' that's unceevil, an' ye've nae ither thing to gie her," retorted Bell.
Mr Morton looked at her majestically.
"Where is the game," said he, "which you told me had been sent me yesterday?"
Bell, with an upward glance and groan, as of one who appealed to Heaven for patience, dived into the scullery, and brought out a large hare, which Sir George Cunningham's keeper had left at the manse the day before. She flung it down on the table, and Mr Morton signed to Helen to take it up and be gone. "And I will not have this repeated, remember," he added, as he shut the door after her, and applied himself, as best he might, to soothing the injured feelings of his housekeeper, who was eloquent in her reproaches, and pathetic over the hare-soup that might have been.
But Bell might have spared her lamentations, for late in the evening Helen Law returned bringing back the hare. She burst into the kitchen without knocking, and threw down the hare as she went, brushing unceremoniously past Bell in her haste to reach the study. Here
she paused for an instant to knock, and presented herself before the astonished eyes of Mr Morton, who was reposing in his arm-chair with his feet upon the mantelpiece, and a copy of 'Robert Elsmere' in his hand.
"I brought back thon cutty," said Helen, with breathless abruptness. "My gude-mither's no' for it. She winna hear tell o' siccan a beast-it's no canny-she winna hae't in ower her door. An' she bade me say ye maun come yersel', or e'er the muckle de'il gets a grip o' her."
"But-but this is intolerable! cried Mr Morton, starting to his feet, and rubbing his hair in his nervous irritation until it bristled over his head in somewhat unclerical fashion. "I-I can't have these interruptions. Hang it, I
I don't allow females in my study-using that sort of language too!"
"I mean nae offence," returned Helen, sullenly, hanging her head a little, but not retreating. "I speak the words my gude-mither has pitten i' my mooth. And, 'deed, I canna bide, or she'll be doin' hersel' or the bairns a mischief. Are ye no comin', then ?"
'To-night? certainly not," said Mr Morton, recovering some of his dignity as he saw a prospect of getting rid of his visitor.
“If your relative is worse, I will come to-morrow-that is, if I can make it convenient."
Helen paused to find words with which to urge her request. She was habitually silent, more from indolence perhaps than modesty, but when her feelings were once stirred, she could speak strongly and to the point.
"The auld wife is deein'," she said. "She'll be awa', I doubt, gin the morn come, an' wha kens whaur she'll be syne? I hae little
gudewill to her-mony's the ill word she's gien me an' gien the bairns, but I'm no sae keen as some folk to see her gang to the pit afore my very e'en. She cries out about the flames o' hell-I wish ye heard her!
Mr Morton again almost tore his hair with irritation, "Ignorant creatures!" cried he. "There is no such place as hell. How often must I tell you so? Can you not even remember my sermon of last Sunday-no, two Sundays back-in which I pointed out that Gehenna, or the pit of Tophet, rendered 'hell' in our version, was nothing more nor less than a receptacle forfor"
"I ken naething about your sermons," interrupted Helen, with much truth. "But it's time I was awa'. If ye maun hae plain words," she said, turning again on her way to the door, "my gudemither has been a witch in her day, gude forgie her! Ony way, that's what she says, puir body. An' the de'il is come for his ain, it's like. An' we thocht, if you was resistin' him, he would maybe flee frae you, but he winna flee frae hiz."
Helen had left the room, and was already walking with swift strides down the road before Mr Morton had had time to recover his presence of mind. Ignorance like this at the present day, and in a Lowland parish-after all the enlightenment he had poured upon it too was inconceivable. To exorcise the devil was clearly no part of his pastoral duty, "and what's more," thought Mr Morton, "I am not going to do it." He said this aloud by way of reviving his courage, which, to say the truth, had failed him a little, as he looked out at the black autumn evening, and listened to the wailing wind. He did not believe in
the devil, nor in witches-not he. Still, if Tibbie's daughter-in-law really wanted him so much to come, she ought to have waited his pleasure, and not gone off in that unmannerly way. He had a great mind not to go the next day either. It would show those people that they ought to conduct themselves, when on their deathbeds, in a more becoming manner. Mr Morton went to bed, where he tried in vain to get a moment's rest of mind or body. Again and again he told himself that his nervous restlessness was folly, that the old woman was evidently delirious and in no fit state to receive a clergyman's visit, and that he had done well to refuse to go. Yet he could not sleep, and striking a light, he went into the study, and took from the shelves an old book, a treatise on demonology and witchcraft, which he recollected to have seen there. With this volume as a companion_he passed a troubled night. stories fascinated him in spite of himself. Some were grotesquely horrible, others ludicrous, but all were told with evident good faith. Mr Morton could not but admit to himself that the Church of Scotland had a good share both. of superstition and cruelty in the witch-burning days. However, he became interested in the situation, and wondered what further tale of horror Tibbie Law had to unfold. Nothing but absolute bodily fear prevented him from getting_up and hastening to her cottage. But calmness and reason returned with the daylight, and he breakfasted at his usual hour, and with tolerable composure, before starting for the village.
Helen Law opened the door to him, looking haggard and untidy. She showed no emotion of any kind at seeing him.
"She's mair quieter-like," she said in answer to his question; "she's sleepin' e'enow. She has an awfu' strength; she'll maybe last twa-three days yet." And with a sigh which Helen did not attempt to disguise, she turned to her household duties.
Mr Morton sat in the arm-chair and watched the sleeper, half relieved to find he was still in time, and half irritated; for, after all, no one seemed to want him. The clock on the wall, with its quaint china face and weights hanging from long chains, ticked on aggressively, and sometimes gave a loud click, as if vainly attempting to strike the hour. The hens scraped and made querulous clucking murmurs under his chair; the cats on the hearth-rug awoke one by one and stretched themselves, and still the minister sat on. The foul air of the cottage oppressed his senses unconsciously, and he felt no inclination to stir. At last Helen set down her broom, and having unpinned her gown and twisted up her hair, she bent over the bed and listened.
"Na, she'll no dee yet," she said shortly, in answer to Mr Morton's look.
"Dee?" The old woman's shrill voice rang through the room, startling them both. "Hoo can I dee wi' siccan a wecht on my mind?" She sat up and stretched out her hands as if to push something away from her. "Siccan a wecht!" she repeated.
The minister bent over her compassionately. If you have a burden on your mind," he said, "better confess it; it would relieve you. Tell me what you have done," he said again, raising his voice a little; but Tibbie continued silent.
"Is she so weak?" he said to Helen. "Can you not rouse her?"
Helen shook up the pillow and touched her on the shoulder. Tibbie moaned a little, and murmured something. They stooped to hear what it was.
"He's putten the fear o' deith on me," she said faintly, with trembling lips.
"Who?" But the old woman only gazed with terrified eyes into a dark corner of the room.
"She aye thinks she sees him," said Helen.
"You do not pretend to tell me," said Mr Morton, "that Satan ever appeared to you in bodily form?" He made an effort to speak severely, for it was not fitting that he should have his nerves shaken by old women, and Tibbie seemed somewhat cowed by his indignant tone.
"Eh me, I dinna ken," she moaned, but oh! I never hae an ache or an ail but I think I see the tail o' him-waes me that I gae him the power!"
"Did you give him a writing signed with your own blood?" inquired Mr Morton suddenly, prompted by the recollection of the tales he had been reading the night before. He said it almost involuntarily; the words sounded so strange to himself that they made his heart beat. Tibbie raised herself on her elbow, and even the apathetic Helen looked at him in surprise.
One, had unfortunately bound himself by the condition above mentioned, and how, though he got free in the end, it cost a great deal of trouble, and the prayers of many pious ministers, to rescue the document, without which the devil was powerless to claim his victim. Tibbie listened with great attention and reviving hope.
"Is this the truth ye're telling me?" she asked, after considering a little.
"It is all printed in a book, which I have at the manse," he answered readily, for he had expected the question.
"Aweel, gin that be sae," said Tibbie as if to herself, "I'll maybe win free yet. I'm sure enough he never socht nae writin'."
"I marvel at that," observed Helen.
"Ye're aye marvellin', ye gowk! He kent fine he wouldna hae gotten it. I'm no sae simple as yon lad. But he would hae gotten back the writin', an' a',"-and Tibbie's black eyes now dwelt upon Mr Morton with an infinite confidence which touched him, while his conscience began to prick him for the deception he had put upon her. However, surely in this case, he thought, the end justified the means. He would now hear Tibbie's story, which he was curious to do, and in the course of it he would impart such religious instruction as could not fail to be profitable to his penitent.
'Ay, lad?" said Tibbie, drily. "An' what way would I do that?"
"Because it would do you good,' replied Mr Morton, with impatience. "It would relieve your mind, surely?"
"No' a grain," said Tibbie. "I've no' dune muckle ill, an' I'm sair wearied." She sighed, letting her head drop on the pillow. After a while she laughed softly to herself. "I'm that prood to think he canna get a grip o' me," she murmured, but so low that they could hardly catch the words.
"She'll sleep easier now," said Helen; and they both sat silent, listening to the long-drawn breaths. They grew fainter, and Helen rose and bent over the sleeper. and-by she turned to the minister, an awe-struck look upon her face. "I doubt," she said, "that she's e'en slippet awa!"
"Gone?" cried Mr Morton, pale and agitated. "It cannot be ! She must not die yet! I-I have deceived her! I had much to instruct her in—to explain