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Macleod of Dare   By: (1841-1898)

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MACLEOD OF DARE.

BY

WILLIAM BLACK,

AUTHOR OF

"A PRINCESS OF THULE," "THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF A PHAETON," "A DAUGHTER OF HETH," ETC., ETC.

NEW YORK:

JOHN B. ALDEN, PUBLISHER,

1883.

MACLEOD OF DARE.

CHAPTER I.

THE SIX BOYS OF DARE.

The sun had sunk behind the lonely western seas; Ulva, and Lunga, and the Dutchman's Cap had grown dark on the darkening waters; and the smooth Atlantic swell was booming along the sombre caves; but up here in Castle Dare, on the high and rocky coast of Mull, the great hall was lit with such a blaze of candles as Castle Dare had but rarely seen. And yet there did not seem to be any grand festivities going forward; for there were only three people seated at one end of the long and narrow table; and the banquet that the faithful Hamish had provided for them was of the most frugal kind. At the head of the table sat an old lady with silvery white hair and proud and fine features. It would have been a keen and haughty face but for the unutterable sadness of the eyes blue gray eyes under black eyelashes that must have been beautiful enough in her youth, but were now dimmed and worn, as if the weight of the world's sorrows had been too much for the proud, high spirit. On the right of Lady Macleod sat the last of her six sons, Keith by name, a tall, sparely built, sinewy young fellow, with a sun tanned cheek and crisp and curling hair, and with a happy and careless look in his clear eyes and about his mouth that rather blinded one to the firm lines of his face. Glad youth shone there, and the health begotten of hard exposure to wind and weather. What was life to him but a laugh: so long as there was a prow to cleave the plunging seas, and a glass to pick out the branching antlers far away amidst the mists of the corrie? To please his mother, on this the last night of his being at home, he wore the kilts; and he had hung his broad blue bonnet, with its sprig of juniper the badge of the clan on the top of one of many pikes and halberds that stood by the great fireplace. Opposite him, on the old lady's left hand, sat his cousin, or rather half cousin, the plain featured but large hearted Janet, whom the poor people about that neighborhood regarded as being something more than any mere mortal woman. If there had been any young artist among that Celtic peasantry fired by religious enthusiasm to paint the face of a Madonna, it would have been the plain features of Janet Macleod he would have dreamed about and striven to transfer to his canvas. Her eyes were fine, it is true: they were honest and tender; they were not unlike the eyes of the grand old lady who sat at the head of the table; but, unlike hers, they were not weighted with the sorrow of years.

"It is a dark hour you have chosen to go away from your home," said the mother; and the lean hand, resting on the table before her, trembled somewhat.

"Why, mother," the young man said, lightly, "you know I am to have Captain 's cabin as far as Greenock; and there will be plenty of time for me to put the kilts away before I am seen by the people."

"Oh, Keith," his cousin cried for she was trying to be very cheerful, too "do you say that you are ashamed of the tartan?"

"Ashamed of the tartan!" he said, with a laugh. "Is there any one who has been brought up at Dare who is likely to be ashamed of the tartan! When I am ashamed of the tartan I will put a pigeon's feather in my cap, as the new suaicheantas of this branch of Clann Leoid. But then, my good Janet, I would as soon think of taking my rifle and the dogs through the streets of London as of wearing the kilts in the south."

The old lady paid no heed. Her hands were now clasped before her. There was sad thinking in her eyes... Continue reading book >>




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