OUT of Arctura's sight Donal had his turn of so-called weakness!
The day was a glorious one, and Davie, full of spirits, could not understand why he seemed so unlike himself.
|Arkie would scold you, Mr. Grant!| he said.
Donal avoided the town, and walked a long way round to get into the road beyond it, his head bent as if he were pondering a pain. At moments he felt as if he must return at once, and refuse to leave the castle for any reason. But he could not see that it was the will of God he should do so. A presentiment is not a command. A prophecy may fail of the least indication of duty. Hamlet defying augury is the consistent religious man Shakspere takes pains to show him. A presentiment may be true, may be from God himself, yet involve no reason why a man should change his way, should turn a step aside from the path before him. St. Paul received warning after warning on his road to Jerusalem that bonds and imprisonment awaited him, and these warnings he knew came from the spirit of prophecy, but he heeded them only to set his face like a flint. He knew better than imagine duty determined by consequences, or take foresight for direction. There is a higher guide, and he followed that. So did Donal now. Moved to go back, he did not go back -- neither afterwards repented that he did not.
I will not describe the journey. Suffice it to say that, after a few days of such walking as befitted an unaccustomed boy, they climbed the last hill, crossed the threshold of Robert Grant's cottage, and were both clasped in the embrace of Janet. For Davie rushed into the arms of Donal's mother, and she took him to the same heart to which she had taken wee sir Gibbie: the bosom of the peasant woman was indeed one to fee to.
Then followed delights which more than equalled the expectations of Davie. One of them was seeing how Donal was loved. Another was a new sense of freedom: he had never imagined such liberty as he now enjoyed. It was as if God were giving it to him. fresh out of his sky, his mountains, his winds. Then there was the twilight on the hill-side, with the sheep growing dusky around him; when Donal would talk about the shepherd of the human sheep; and hearing him Davie felt not only that there was once, but that there is now a man altogether lovely -- the heart of all beauty everywhere -- a man who gave himself up to his perfect father and his father's most imperfect children, that he might bring his brothers and sisters home to their father; for all his delight is in his father and his father's children. He showed him how the heart of Jesus was, all through, the heart of a son, a son that adored his perfect father; and how if he had not had his perfect son to help him, God could not have made any of us, could never have got us to be his little sons and daughters, loving him with all our might. Then Davie's heart would glow, and he would feel ready to do whatever that son might want him to do; and Donal hoped, and had good ground for hoping, that, when the hour of trial came, the youth would be able to hold, not merely by the unseen, but by the seemingly unpresent and unfelt, in the name of the eternally true.
Donal's youth began to seem far behind him. All bitterness was gone out of his memories of lady Galbraith. He loved her tenderly, but was pleased she should be Gibbie's.
How much of this happy change was owing to his interest in lady Arctura he did not inquire: greatly interested in her -- more in very important ways than he had ever been in lady Galbraith -- he was so jealous of his heart, shrank so much from the danger of folly, knew so well how small an amount of yielding might unfit him for the manly and fresh performance of his duties -- among which came first a due regard for her well-being lest he should himself fail or mislead her -- that he often turned his thoughts into another channel, lest in that they should run too swiftly, deepen it too fast, and go far to imprison themselves in another agony.
To lady Galbraith he confided his uneasiness about lady Arctura -- not that he could explain -- he could only confess himself infected with her uneasiness, and the rather that he knew better than she the nature of those with whom she might have to cope. If Mrs. Brookes had not been there, he dared not have come away, he said, leaving her with such a dread upon her.
Sir Gibbie listened open-mouthed to the tale of the finding of the lost chapel, hidden away because it held the dust of the dead, and perhaps sometimes their wandering ghosts.
They assured him that, if he would bring lady Arctura to them, they would take care of her: had she not better give up the weary property, they said, and come and live with them, and be free as the lark? But Donal said, that, if God had given her a property, he would not have her forsake her post, but wait for him to relieve her. She must administer her own kingdom ere she could have an abundant entrance into his! Only he wished he were near her again to help her!