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Image Map : Christian Books : CHAPTER XXXIII. THE MAINS.

Sir Gibbie by George MacDonald


THEY reached at length the valley road. The water that ran in the bottom was the Lorrie. Three days ago it was a lively little stream, winding and changing within its grassy banks -- here resting silent in a deep pool, there running and singing over its pebbles. Now it had filled and far overflowed its banks, and was a swift river. It had not yet, so far up the valley, encroached on the road; but the torrents on the mountain had already in places much injured it, and with considerable difficulty they crossed some of the new-made gullies. When they approached the bridge, however, by which they must cross the Lorrie to reach the Mains, their worst trouble lay before them. For the enemy, with whose reinforcements they had all the time been descending, showed himself ever in greater strength the farther they advanced; and here the road was flooded for a long way on both sides of the bridge. There was therefore a good deal of wading to be done; but the road was an embankment, there was little current, and in safety at last they ascended the rising ground on which the farm-building stood. When they reached the yard, they sent Gibbie to find shelter for Crummie, and themselves went up to the house.

|The Lord preserve 's!| cried Jean Mavor, with uplifted hands, when she saw them enter the kitchen.

|He'll dee that, mem,| returned Janet, with a smile.

|But what can he dee? Gien ye be droont oot o' the hills, what's to come o' hiz i' the how? I wad ken that!| said Jean.

|The watter's no up to yer door yet,| remarked Janet.

|God forbid!| retorted Jean, as if the very mention of such a state of things was too dreadful to be polite. | -- But, eh, ye're weet!|

|Weet's no the word,| said Robert, trying to laugh, but failing from sheer exhaustion, and the beginnings of an asthmatic attack.

The farmer, hearing their voices, came into the kitchen -- a middle-sized and middle-aged, rather coarse-looking man, with keen eyes, who took snuff amazingly. His manner was free, with a touch of satire. He was proud of driving a hard bargain, but was thoroughly hospitable. He had little respect for person or thing, but showed an occasional touch of tenderness.

|Hoot, Rob!| he said roughly as he entered, |I thoucht ye had mair sense! What's broucht ye here at sic a time?|

But as he spoke he held out his snuff-box to the old man.

|Fell needcessity, sir,| answered Robert, taking a good pinch.

|Necessity!| retorted the farmer. |Was ye oot o' meal?|

|Oot o' dry meal, I doobt, by this time, sir,| replied Robert.

|Hoots! I wuss we war a' in like necessity -- weel up upo' the hill i'stead o' doon here upo' the haugh (river-meadow). It's jist clean ridic'lous. Ye sud hae kenned better at your age, Rob. Ye sud hae thoucht twise, man.|

|'Deed, sir,| answered Robert, quietly finishing his pinch of snuff, |there was sma' need, an' less time to think, an' Glashgar bursten, an' the watter comin' ower the tap o' the bit hoosie as gien 'twar a muckle owershot wheel, an' no a place for fowk to bide in. Ye dinna think Janet an' me wad be twa sic auld fules as pit on oor Sunday claes to sweem in, gien we thoucht to see things as we left them whan we gaed back! Ye see, sir, though the hoose be fun't upo' a rock, it's maist biggit o' fells, an' the foundation's a' I luik even to see o' 't again. Whan the force o' the watter grows less, it'll come down upo' the riggin' wi' the haill weicht o' 't.|

|Ay!| said Janet, in a low voice, |the live stanes maun come to the live rock to bigg the hoose 'at'll stan.|

|What think ye, Maister Fergus, you 'at's gauin' to be a minister?| said Robert, referring to his wife's words, as the young man looked in at the door of the kitchen.

|Lat him be,| interposed his father, blowing his nose with unnecessary violence; |setna him preachin' afore's time. Fess the whusky, Fergus, an' gie auld Robert a dram. Haith! gien the watter be rinnin' ower the tap o' yer hoose, man, it was time to flit. Fess twa or three glaisses, Fergus; we hae a' need o' something 'at's no watter. It's perfeckly ridic'lous!|

Having taken a little of the whisky, the old people went to change their clothes for some Jean had provided, and in the mean time she made up her fire, and prepared some breakfast for them.

|An' whaur's yer dummie?| she asked, as they re-entered the kitchen.

|He had puir Crummie to luik efter,| answered Janet; |but he micht hae been in or this time.|

|He'll be wi' Donal i' the byre, nae doobt,| said Jean: |he's aye some shy o' comin' in wantin' an inveet.| She went to the door, and called with a loud voice across the yard, through the wind and the clashing torrents, |Donal, sen' Dummie in till's brakfast.|

|He's awa' till's sheep,| cried Donal in reply.

|Preserve 's! -- the cratur 'll be lost!| said Jean.

|Less likly nor ony man aboot the place,| bawled Donal, half angry with his mistress for calling his friend dummie. |Gibbie kens better what he's aboot nor ony twa 'at thinks him a fule 'cause he canna lat oot sic stuff an' nonsense as they canna haud in.|

Jean went back to the kitchen, only half reassured concerning her brownie, and far from contented with his absence. But she was glad to find that neither Janet nor Robert appeared alarmed at the news.

|I wuss the cratur had had some brakfast,| she said.

|He has a piece in 's pooch,| answered Janet. |He's no oonprovidit wi' what can be made mair o'.|

|I dinna richtly un'erstan' ye there,| said Jean.

|Ye canna hae failt to remark, mem,| answered Janet, |'at whan the Maister set himsel' to feed the hungerin' thoosan's, he teuk intil's han' what there was, an' vroucht upo' that to mak mair o' 't. I hae wussed sometimes 'at the laddie wi' the five barley loaves an' the twa sma' fishes, hadna been there that day. I wad fain ken hoo the Maister wad hae managed wantin' onything to begin upo'. As it was, he aye hang what he did upo' something his Father had dune afore him.|

|Hoots!| returned Jean, who looked upon Janet as a lover of conundrums, |ye're aye warstlin' wi' run k-nots an' teuch moo'fu's.|

|Ow na, no aye,| answered Janet; | -- only whiles, whan the speerit o' speirin' gets the upper han' o' me for a sizon.|

|I doobt that same speerit 'll lead ye far frae the still watters some day, Janet,| said Jean, stirring the porridge vehemently.

|Ow, I think not,| answered Janet very calmly. |Whan the Maister says -- what's that to thee? -- I tak care he hasna to say't twise, but jist get up an' follow him.|

This was beyond Jean, but she held her peace, for, though she feared for Janet's orthodoxy, and had a strong opinion of the superiority of her own common sense -- in which, as in the case of all who pride themselves in the same, there was a good deal more of the common than of the sense -- she had the deepest conviction of Janet's goodness, and regarded her as a sort of heaven-favoured idiot, whose utterances were somewhat privileged. Janet, for her part, looked upon Jean as |an honest wuman, wha 'll get a heap o' licht some day.|

When they had eaten their breakfast, Robert took his pipe to the barn, saying there was not much danger of fire that day; Janet washed up the dishes, and sat down to her Book; and Jean went out and in, attending to many things.

Mean time the rain fell, the wind blew, the water rose. Little could be done beyond feeding the animals, threshing a little corn in the barn, and twisting straw ropes for the thatch of the ricks of the coming, harvest -- if indeed there was a harvest on the road, for, as the day went on, it seemed almost to grow doubtful whether any ropes would be wanted; while already not a few of last year's ricks, from farther up the country, were floating past the Mains, down the Daur to the sea. The sight was a dreadful one -- had an air of the day of judgment about it to farmers' eyes. From the Mains, to right and left beyond the rising ground on which the farm buildings stood, everywhere as far as the bases of the hills, instead of fields was water, yellow brown, here in still expanse or slow progress, there sweeping along in fierce current. The quieter parts of it were dotted with trees, divided by hedges, shaded with ears of corn; upon the swifter parts floated objects of all kinds.

Mr. Duff went wandering restlessly from one spot to another, finding nothing to do. In the gloaming, which fell the sooner that a rain-blanket miles thick wrapt the earth up from the sun, he came across from the barn, and, entering the kitchen, dropped, weary with hopelessness, on a chair.

|I can weel un'erstan',| he said, |what for the Lord sud set doon Bony an' set up Louy, but what for he sud gar corn grow, an' syne sen' a spate to sweem awa' wi' 't, that's mair nor mortal man can see the sense o'. -- Haud yer tongue, Janet. I'm no sayin' there's onything wrang; I'm sayin' naething but the sair trowth, 'at I canna see the what-for o' 't. I canna see the guid o' 't till onybody. A'thing 's on the ro'd to the German Ocean. The lan' 's jist miltin' awa' intill the sea!|

Janet sat silent, knitting hard at a stocking she had got hold of, that Jean had begun for her brother. She knew argument concerning the uses of adversity was vain with a man who knew of no life but that which consisted in eating and drinking, sleeping and rising, working and getting on in the world: as to such things existing only that they may subserve a real life, he was almost as ignorant, notwithstanding he was an elder of the church, as any heathen.

From being nearly in the centre of its own land, the farm-steading of the Mains was at a considerable distance from any other; but there were two or three cottages upon the land, and as the evening drew on, another aged pair, who lived in one only a few hundred yards from the house, made their appearance, and were soon followed by the wife of the foreman with her children, who lived farther off. Quickly the night closed in, and Gibbie was not come. Robert was growing very uneasy; Janet kept comforting and reassuring him.

|There's ae thing,| said the old man: |Oscar's wi' 'im.|

|Ay,| responded Janet, unwilling, in the hearing of others, to say a word that might seem to savour of rebuke to her husband, yet pained that he should go to the dog for comfort -- |Ay; he's a well-made animal, Oscar! There's been a fowth o' sheep-care pitten intil 'im. Ye see him 'at made 'im, bein' a shepherd himsel', kens what's wantit o' the dog.| -- None but her husband understood what lay behind the words.

|Oscar's no wi' im,| said Donal. |The dog cam to me i' the byre, lang efter Gibbie was awa', greitin' like, an' luikin' for 'im.|

Robert gave a great sigh, but said nothing.

Janet did not sleep a wink that night: she had so many to pray for. Not Gibbie only, but every one of her family was in perils of waters, all being employed along the valley of the Daur. It was not, she said, confessing to her husband her sleeplessness, that she was afraid. She was only |keepin' them company, an' haudin' the yett open,| she said. The latter phrase was her picture-periphrase for praying. She never said she prayed; she held the gate open. The wonder is but small that Donal should have turned out a poet.

The dawn appeared -- but the farm had vanished. Not even heads of growing corn were anywhere more to be seen. The loss would be severe, and John Duff's heart sank within him. The sheep which had been in the mown clover-field that sloped to the burn, were now all in the corn-yard, and the water was there with them. If the rise did not soon cease, every rick would be afloat. There was little current, however, and not half the danger there would have been had the houses stood a few hundred yards in any direction from where they were.

|Tak yer brakfast, John,| said his sister.

|Lat them tak 'at hungers,| he answered.

|Tak, or ye'll no hae the wut to save,| said Jean.

Thereupon he fell to, and ate, if not with appetite, then with a will that was wondrous.

The flood still grew, and still the rain poured, and Gibbie did not come. Indeed no one any longer expected him, whatever might have become of him: except by boat the Mains was inaccessible now, they thought. Soon after breakfast, notwithstanding, a strange woman came to the door. Jean, who opened it to her knock, stood and stared speechless. It was a greyhaired woman, with a more disreputable look than her weather-flouted condition would account for.

|Gran' wither for the deuks!| she said.

|Whaur come ye frae?| returned Jean, who did not relish the freedom of her address.

|Frae ower by,| she answered.

|An' hoo wan ye here?|

|Upo' my twa legs.|

Jean looked this way and that over the watery waste, and again stared at the woman in growing bewilderment. -- They came afterwards to the conclusion that she had arrived, probably half-drunk, the night before, and passed it in one of the outhouses.

|Yer legs maun be langer nor they luik than, wuman,| said Jean, glancing at the lower part of the stranger's person.

The woman only laughed -- a laugh without any laughter in it.

|What's yer wull, noo 'at ye are here?| continued Jean with severity. |Ye camna to the Mains to tell them there what kin' o' wather it wis!|

|I cam whaur I cud win,| answered the woman; |an' for my wull, that's naething to naebody noo -- it's no as it was ance -- though, gien I cud get it, there micht be mair nor me the better for't. An' sae as ye wad gang the len'th o' a glaiss o' whusky -- |

|Ye s' get nae whusky here,| interrupted Jean, with determination.

The woman gave a sigh, and half turned away as if she would depart. But however she might have come, it was plainly impossible she should depart and live.

|Wuman,| said Jean, |ken an' I care naething aboot ye, an' mair, I dinna like ye, nor the luik o' ye; and gien 't war a fine simmer nicht 'at a body cud lie thereoot, or gang the farther, I wad steek the door i' yer face; but that I daurna dee the day again' my neebour's soo; sae ye can come in an' sit doon' an', my min' spoken, ye s' get what'll haud the life i' ye, an' a puckle strae i' the barn. Only ye maun jist hae a quaiet sough, for the gudeman disna like tramps.|

|Tramps here, tramps there!| exclaimed the woman, starting into high displeasure; |I wad hae ye ken I'm an honest wuman, an' no tramp!|

|Ye sudna luik sae like ane than,| said Jean coolly. |But come yer wa's in, an' I s' say naething sae lang as ye behave.|

The woman followed her, took the seat pointed out to her by the fire, and sullenly ate, without a word of thanks, the cakes and milk handed her, but seemed to grow better tempered as she ate, though her black eyes glowed at the food with something of disgust and more of contempt: she would rather have had a gill of whisky than all the milk on the Mains. On the other side of the fire sat Janet, knitting away busily, with a look of ease and leisure. She said nothing, but now and then cast a kindly glance out of her grey eyes at the woman: there was an air of the lost sheep about the stranger, which, in whomsoever she might see it, always drew her affection. |She maun be ane o' them the Maister cam' to ca',| she said to herself. But she was careful to suggest no approach, for she knew the sheep that has left the flock has grown wild, and is more suspicious and easily startled than one in the midst of its brethren.

With the first of the light, some of the men on the farm had set out to look for Gibbie, well knowing it would be a hard matter to touch Glashgar. About nine they returned, having found it impossible. One of them, caught in a current and swept into a hole, had barely escaped with his life. But they were unanimous that the dummie was better off in any cave on Glashgar than he would be in the best bed-room at the Mains, if things went on as they threatened.

Robert had kept on going to the barn, and back again to the kitchen, all the morning, consumed with anxiety about the son of his old age; but the barn began to be flooded, and he had to limit his prayer-walk to the space between the door of the house and the chair where Janet sat -- knitting busily, and praying with countenance untroubled, amidst the rush of the seaward torrents, the mad howling and screeching of the wind, and the lowing of the imprisoned cattle.

|O Lord,| she said in her great trusting heart, |gien my bonny man be droonin' i' the watter, or deein' o' cauld on the hill-side, haud 's han'. Binna far frae him, O Lord; dinna lat him be fleyt.|

To Janet, what we call life and death were comparatively small matters, but she was very tender over suffering and fear. She did not pray half so much for Gibbie's life as for the presence with him of him who is at the deathbed of every sparrow. She went on waiting, and refused to be troubled. True, she was not his bodily mother, but she loved him far better than the mother who, in such a dread for her child, would have been mad with terror. The difference was, that Janet loved up as well as down, loved down so widely, so intensely, because the Lord of life, who gives his own to us, was more to her than any child can be to any mother, and she knew he could not forsake her Gibbie, and that his presence was more and better than life. She was unnatural, was she? -- inhuman? -- Yes, if there be no such heart and source of humanity as she believed in; if there be, then such calmness and courage and content as hers are the mere human and natural condition to be hungered after by every aspiring soul. Not until such condition is mine shall I be able to regard life as a godlike gift, except in the hope that it is drawing nigh. Let him who understands, understand better; let him not say the good is less than perfect, or excuse his supineness and spiritual sloth by saying to himself that a man can go too far in his search after the divine, can sell too much of what he has to buy the field of the treasure. Either there is no Christ of God, or my all is his.

Robert seemed at length to have ceased his caged wandering. For a quarter of an hour he had been sitting with his face buried in his hands. Janet rose, went softly to him, and said in a whisper:

|Is Gibbie waur aff, Robert, i' this watter upo' Glashgar, nor the dissiples i' the boat upo' yon loch o' Galilee, an' the Maister no come to them? Robert, my ain man! dinna gar the Maister say to you, O ye o' little faith! Wharfor did ye doobt? Tak hert, man; the Maister wadna hae his men be cooards.|

|Ye're richt, Janet; ye're aye richt,| answered Robert, and rose.

She followed him into the passage.

|Whaur are ye gauin', Robert?| she said.

|I wuss I cud tell ye,| he answered. |I'm jist hungerin' to be my lane. I wuss I had never left Glashgar. There's aye room there. Or gien I cud win oot amo' the rigs! There's nane o' them left, but there's the rucks -- they're no soomin' yet! I want to gang to the Lord, but I maunna weet Willie Mackay's claes.|

|It's a sair peety,| said Janet, |'at the men fowk disna learn to weyve stockin's, or dee something or ither wi' their han's. Mony's the time my stockin' 's been maist as guid's a cloaset to me, though I cudna jist gang intil't. But what maitters 't! A prayer i' the hert 's sure to fin' the ro'd oot. The hert's the last place 'at can haud ane in. A prayin' hert has nae reef (roof) till't.|

She turned and left him. Comforted by her words, he followed her back into the kitchen, and sat down beside her.

|Gibbie 'ill be here mayhap whan least ye luik for him,| said Janet.

Neither of them caught the wild eager gleam that lighted the face of the strange woman at those last words of Janet. She looked up at her with the sharpest of glances, but the same instant compelled her countenance to resume its former expression of fierce indifference, and under that became watchful of everything said and done.

Still the rain fell and the wind blew; the torrents came tearing down from the hills, and shot madly into the rivers; the rivers ran into the valleys, and deepened the lakes that filled them. On every side of the Mains, from the foot of Glashgar to Gormdhu, all was one yellow and red sea, with roaring currents and vortices numberless. It burrowed holes, it opened long-deserted channels and water-courses; here it deposited inches of rich mould, there yards of sand and gravel; here it was carrying away fertile ground, leaving behind only bare rock or shingle where the corn had been waving; there it was scooping out the bed of a new lake. Many a thick soft lawn, of loveliest grass, dotted with fragrant shrubs and rare trees, vanished, and nothing was there when the waters subsided but a stony waste, or a gravelly precipice. Woods and copses were undermined, and trees and soil together swept into the vast: sometimes the very place was hardly there to say it knew its children no more. Houses were torn to pieces, and their contents, as from broken boxes, sent wandering on the brown waste, through the grey air, to the discoloured sea, whose saltness for a long way out had vanished with its hue. Haymows were buried to the very top in sand; others went sailing bodily down the mighty stream -- some of them followed or surrounded, like big ducks, by a great brood of ricks for their ducklings. Huge trees went past as if shot down an Alpine slide, cottages, and bridges of stone, giving way before them. Wooden mills, thatched roofs, great mill-wheels, went dipping and swaying and hobbling down. From the upper windows of the Mains, looking towards the chief current, they saw a drift of everything belonging to farms and dwelling-houses that would float. Chairs and tables, chests, carts, saddles, chests of drawers, tubs of linen, beds and blankets, workbenches, harrows, girnels, planes, cheeses, churns, spinning-wheels, cradles, iron pots, wheel-barrows -- all these and many other things hurried past as they gazed. Everybody was looking, and for a time all had been silent.

|Lord save us!| cried Mr. Duff, with a great start, and ran for his telescope.

A four-post bed came rocking down the river, now shooting straight for a short distance, now slowly wheeling, now shivering, struck by some swifter thing, now whirling giddily round in some vortex. The soaked curtains were flacking and flying in the great wind -- and -- yes, the telescope revealed it! -- there was a figure in it! dead or alive the farmer could not tell, but it lay still! -- A cry burst from them all; but on swept the strange boat, bound for the world beyond the flood, and none could stay its course.

The water was now in the stable and cow-houses and barn. A few minutes more and it would be creeping into the kitchen. The Daur and its tributary the Lorrie were about to merge their last difference on the floor of Jean's parlour. Worst of all, a rapid current had set in across the farther end of the stable, which no one had as yet observed.

Jean bustled about her work as usual, nor, although it was so much augmented, would accept help from any of her guests until it came to preparing dinner, when she allowed Janet and the foreman's wife to lend her a hand. |The tramp-wife| she would not permit to touch plate or spoon, knife or potato. The woman rose in anger at her exclusion, and leaving the house waded to the barn. There she went up the ladder to the loft where she had slept, and threw herself on her straw-bed.

As there was no doing any work, Donal was out with two of the men, wading here and there where the water was not too deep, enjoying the wonder of the strange looks and curious conjunctions of things. None of them felt much of dismay at the havoc around them: beyond their chests with their Sunday clothes and at most two clean shirts, neither of the men had anything to lose worth mentioning; and for Donal, he would gladly have given even his books for such a ploy.

|There's ae thing, mither,| he said, entering the kitchen, covered with mud, a rabbit in one hand and a large salmon in the other, |we're no like to sterve, wi' sawmon i' the hedges, an' mappies i' the trees!|

His master questioned him with no little incredulity. It was easy to believe in salmon anywhere, but rabbits in trees!

|I catched it i' the brainches o' a lairick (larch),| Donal answered, |easy eneuch, for it cudna rin far, an' was mair fleyt at the watter nor at me; but for the sawmon, haith I was ower an' ower wi' hit i' the watter, efter I gruppit it, er' I cud ca' 't my ain.|

Before the flood subsided, not a few rabbits were caught in trees, mostly spruce-firs and larches. For salmon, they were taken everywhere -- among grass, corn, and potatoes, in bushes, and hedges, and cottages. One was caught on a lawn with an umbrella; one was reported to have been found in a press-bed; another, coiled round in a pot hanging from the crook -- ready to be boiled, only that he was alive and undressed.

Donal was still being cross-questioned by his master when the strange woman re-entered. Lying upon her straw, she had seen, through the fanlight over the stable door, the swiftness of the current there passing, and understood the danger.

|I doobt,| she said, addressing no one in particular, |the ga'le o' the stable winna stan' abune anither half-hoor.|

|It maun fa' than,| said the farmer, taking a pinch of snuff in hopeless serenity, and turning away.

|Hoots!| said the woman, |dinna speyk that gait, sir. It's no wice-like. Tak a dram, an' tak hert, an' dinna fling the calf efter the coo. Whaur's yer boatle, sir?|

John paid no heed to her suggestion, but Jean took it up.

|The boatle's whaur ye s' no lay han' upo' 't,| she said.

|Weel, gien ye hae nae mercy upo' yer whusky, ye sud hae some upo' yer horse-beasts, ony gait,| said the woman indignantly.

|What mean ye by that?| returned Jean, with hard voice, and eye of blame.

|Ye might at the leest gie the puir things a chance,| the woman rejoined.

|Hoo wad ye dee that?| said Jean. |Gien ye lowsed them they wad but tak to the watter wi' fear, an' droon the seener.|

|Na, na, Jean,| interposed the farmer, |they wad tak care o' themsel's to the last, an' aye haud to the dryest, jist as ye wad yersel'.|

|Allooin',| said the stranger, replying to Jean, yet speaking rather as if to herself, while she thought about something else, |I wad raither droon soomin' nor tied by the heid. -- But what's the guid o' doctrine whaur there's onything to be dune? -- Ye hae whaur to put them. -- What kin' 's the fleers (floors) up the stair, sir?| she asked abruptly, turning full on her host, with a flash in her deep-set black eyes.

|Ow, guid dale fleers -- what ither?| answered the farmer. | -- It's the wa's, wuman, no the fleers we hae to be concernt aboot i' this wather.|

|Gien the j'ists be strang, an' weel set intil the wa's, what for sudna ye tak the horse up the stair intil yer bedrooms? It'll be a' to the guid o' the wa's, for the weicht o' the beasts 'll be upo' them to haud them doon, an' the haill hoose again' the watter. An' gien I was you, I wad pit the best o' the kye an' the nowt intil the parlour an' the kitchen here. I'm thinkin' we'll lowse them a' else; for the byre wa's 'ill gang afore the hoose.|

Mr. Duff broke into a strange laughter.

|Wad ye no tak up the carpets first, wuman?| he said.

|I wad,| she answered; |that gangs ohn speirt -- gien there was time; but I tell ye there's nane; an' ye'll buy twa or three carpets for the price o' ae horse.|

|Haith! the wuman's i' the richt,| he cried, suddenly waking up to the sense of the proposal, and shot from the house.

All the women, Jean making no exception to any help now, rushed to carry the beds and blankets to the garret.

Just as Mr. Duff entered the stable from the nearer end, the opposite gable fell out with a great splash, letting in the wide level vision of turbidly raging waters, fading into the obscurity of the wind-driven rain. While he stared aghast, a great tree struck the wall like a battering-ram, so that the stable shook. The horses, which had been for some time moving uneasily, were now quite scared. There was not a moment to be lost. Duff shouted for his men; one or two came running; and in less than a minute more those in the house heard the iron-shod feet splashing and stamping through the water, as, one after another, the horses were brought across the yard to the door of the house. Mr. Duff led by the halter his favourite Snowball, who was a good deal excited, plunging and rearing so that it was all he could do to hold him. He had ordered the men to take the others first, thinking he would follow more quietly. But the moment Snowball heard the first thundering of hoofs on the stair, he went out of his senses with terror, broke from his master, and went plunging back to the stable. Duff darted after him, but was only in time to see him rush from the further end into the swift current, where he was at once out of his depth, and was instantly caught and hurried, rolling over and over, from his master's sight. He ran back into the house, and up to the highest window. From that he caught sight of him a long way down, swimming. Once or twice he saw him turned heels over head -- only to get his neck up again presently, and swim as well as before. But alas! it was in the direction of the Daur, which would soon, his master did not doubt, sweep his carcase into the North Sea. With troubled heart he strained his sight after him as long as he could distinguish his lessening head, but it got amongst some wreck, and unable to tell any more whether he saw it or not, he returned to his men with his eyes full of tears.

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