BUT Donal did not feel that even then would he have exhausted the likelihood of discovery. That the source of the music that had so long haunted the house was an aeolian harp in a chimney that had never or scarcely been used, might be enough to satisfy some, but he wanted to know as well why, if this was a chimney, it neither had been nor was used, and to what room it was a chimney. For the question had come to him -- might not the music hold some relation with the legend of the lost room?
Inquiry after legendary lore had drawn nearer and nearer, and the talk about such as belonged to the castle had naturally increased. In this talk was not seldom mentioned a ghost, as yet seen at times about the place. This Donal attributed to glimpses of the earl in his restless night-walks; but by the domestics, both such as had seen something and such as had not, the apparition was naturally associated with the lost chamber, as the place whence the spectre issued, and whither he returned.
Donal's spare hours were now much given to his friend Andrew Comin. The good man had so far recovered as to think himself able to work again; but he soon found it was little he could do. His strength was gone, and the exertion necessary to the lightest labour caused him pain. It was sad to watch him on his stool, now putting in a stitch, now stopping because of the cough which so sorely haunted his thin, wind-blown tent. His face had grown white and thin, and he had nearly lost his merriment, though not his cheerfulness; he never looked other than content. He had made up his mind he was not going to get better, but to go home through a lingering illness. He was ready to go and ready to linger, as God pleased.
There was nothing wonderful in this; but to some good people even it did appear wonderful that he showed no uneasiness as to how Doory would fare when he was gone. The house was indeed their own, but there was no money in it -- not even enough to pay the taxes; and if she sold it, the price would not be enough to live upon. The neighbours were severe on Andrew's imagined indifference to his wife's future, and it was in their eyes a shame to be so cheerful on the brink of the grave. Not one of them had done more than peep into the world of faith in which Andrew lived. Not one of them could have understood that for Andrew to allow the least danger of evil to his Doory, would have been to behold the universe rocking on the slippery shoulders of Chance.
A little moan escaping her as she looked one evening into her money-teapot, made Donal ask her a question or two. She confessed that she had but sixpence left. Now Donal had spent next to nothing since he came, and had therefore a few pounds in hand. His father and mother had sent back what he sent them, as being in need of nothing: sir Gibbie was such a good son to them that they were living in what they counted luxury: Robert doubted whether he was not ministering to the flesh in allowing Janet to provide beef-brose for him twice in the week! So Donal was free to spend for his next neighbours -- just what his people, who were grand about money, would have had him do. Never in their cottage had a penny been wasted; never one refused where was need.
|An'rew,| he said -- and found the mother-tongue here fittest -- |I'm thinkin' ye maun be growin' some short o' siller i' this time o' warklessness!|
|'Deed, I wadna won'er!| answered Andrew. |Doory says naething aboot sic triffles!|
|Weel,| rejoined Donal, |I thank God I hae some i' the ill pickle o' no bein' wantit, an' sae in danger o' cankerin'; an' atween brithers there sudna be twa purses!|
|Ye hae yer ain fowk to luik efter, sir!| said Andrew.
|They're weel luikit efter -- better nor ever they war i' their lives; they're as weel aff as I am mysel' up i' yon gran' castel. They hae a freen' wha but for them wad ill hae lived to be the great man he is the noo; an' there's naething ower muckle for him to du for them; sae my siller 's my ain, an' yours. An'rew, an' Doory's!|
The old man put him through a catechism as to his ways and means and prospects, and finding that Donal believed as firmly as himself in the care of the Master, and was convinced there was nothing that Master would rather see him do with his money than help those who needed it, especially those who trusted in him, he yielded.
|It's no, ye see,| said Donal, |that I hae ony doobt o' the Lord providin' gien I had failt, but he hauds the thing to my han', jist as muckle as gien he said, 'There's for you, Donal!' The fowk o' this warl' michtna appruv, but you an' me kens better, An'rew. We ken there's nae guid in siller but do the wull o' the Lord wi' 't -- an' help to ane anither is his dear wull. It's no 'at he's short o' siller himsel', but he likes to gie anither a turn!|
|I'll tak it,| said the old man.
|There's what I hae,| returned Donal.
|Na, na; nane o' that!| said Andrew. |Ye're treatin' me like a muckle, reivin', sornin' beggar -- offerin' me a' that at ance! Whaur syne wad be the prolonged sweetness o' haein' 't i' portions frae yer han', as frae the neb o' an angel-corbie sent frae verra hame wi' yer denner!| -- Here a glimmer of the old merriment shone through the worn look and pale eyes. -- |Na, na, sir,| he went on; |jist talk the thing ower wi' Doory, an' lat her hae what she wants an' nae mair. She wudna like it. Wha kens what may came i' the meantime -- Deith himsel', maybe! Or see -- gie Doory a five shillins, an' whan that's dune she can lat ye ken!|
Donal was forced to leave it thus, but he did his utmost to impress upon Doory that all he had was at her disposal.
|I had new clothes,| he said, |before I came; I have all I want to eat and drink; and for books, there's a whole ancient library at my service! -- what possibly could I wish for more? It's a mere luxury to hand the money over to you, Doory! I'm thinkin', Doory,| for he had by this time got to address her by her husband's name for her, |there's naebody i' this warl', 'cep' the oonseen Lord himsel', lo'es yer man sae weel as you an' me; an' weel ken I you an' him wad share yer last wi' me; sae I'm only giein' ye o' yer ain gude wull; an' I'll doobt that gien ye takna sae lang as I hae.|
Thus adjured, and satisfied that her husband was content, the old woman made no difficulty.