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relations and acquaintances of the deceased, who had assembled to drink tea on their departure, and who were all in total ignorance of the ludicrous mishap which had taken place.

What occurred on the evening of that eventful day beside St. Orland's Stone may be more easily imagined than described. A merry wedding took place shortly afterwards in the Howe when Helen Lindsay and young Drumgley were united in the holy bonds of matrimonial love. The millwright, though suffering acutely under his sore disappointment, had the good sense to accept the kindly-sent invitation to the marriage; but no allusion, we may rest assured, was made on the festive occasion either to the unlucky funeral, or to the equally unfortunate tryst at St ORLAND'S STONE !

CHAPTER XIV.

THE LILY OF THE VALE.

“ Gone are the heads of the silvery hair

And the young that were have a brow of care,
And the place is hush'd where the children play'd,
Nought looks the same save the nest we made."

Mrs Hemans.

THAN the Milton, there was not a pleasanter, cozier, or happier homestead in all the wide valley of Strathmore. It has seen many changes, however, since the time of which I write. None the least of these was its change of tenancy, when Arthur Cargill bade it forever farewell—when he left with his household to seek a new home in the backwoods of Canada.

The broad acres of the Milton, although not uniformly of the same high quality, never failed to yield a rich and profitable return to the practical agriculturist who farmed it so scientifically, and so well; for Arthur Cargill was accounted amongst his compeers as the best educated and foremost tiller of the soil in his day. To this home he had brought his blushing and happy bride, the eldest daughter of a neighbouring farmer in the Howe, who had in every respect proved a worthy and willing helpmate to him in all the vicissitudes of his joys and sorrows.

In course of time seven lovely boys were born to him, who grew up in quiet beauty like so many olive plants around his hospitable and happy hearth. Still the measure of his earthly happiness was not yet full, for both he and Mary, his wife, yearued in secret for a girl, to crown, as with a diadem of glory, their connubial bliss. The eighth addition to the family circle was now expected ; and when the child was born the joyful news was heard that the young stranger was really and in very deed

-a lassie. All things continued to thrive with the worthy farmer, until the Milton became the very beau ideal of a Scottish homestead in the nineteenth century. His well-reared cattle browsed on the fruitful plains around ; his numerous flocks of sheep fed on the rich haughs and meadows, or whitened with their fleecy brightness the neighbouring Sidlaw Hills; while his merry reapers among the golden harvest fields sung in the blithest strains the songs of contentment and peace.

A decade of years had now rapidly passed away since the birth of Arthur's daughter, and Jeanie Cargill's charms were gradually bursting into the full matured bloom of womanhood. She was a model type of the true Scotch beauty, with this exception—that, while she had in perfection the aquiline, delicately-cut features; the soft, blue, dreamy eyes; the ring. lets of golden yellow, and the silvery voice of ringing sweetness, her cheeks had not the blushing richness of the rose, but the pale and subdued, though lovely hue of the lily. Hence, by general consent, she was endearingly known throughout Strathinore as the “Lily of the vale.”

But she had other and higher charms than these. Her mind was richly endowed, not only with the more solid acquirements of a liberal education, but with all that was amiable in disposition, gentle in spirit, beautiful and true in heart. Her manners were as void of affectation as her actions were destitute of interested motives. Thoroughly unselfish in her nature, she wished all with whom she came into contact to share the common joys and mental pleasures she experienced herself. A halo of goodness and beauty encompassing her wherever she went, she was indeed the charm and delight of her rural home, the sunshine and joy of the lovely strath in which she dwelt.

Admirers of every station she had many. The bashful swain and the purse-proud squire, alike assiduously strove to win her regards, and bask in her smiles. To one only had

she given any encouragement. This was Percy Guthrie, son and heir to the rich and worthy farmer of Scroggerfield, and one in every respect worthy of such a maiden's love.

Percy and Jeanie had attended Kinnettles parish school together, and had, unconsciously, become warmly attached to each other from their youth upwards. Many a happy ramble they had had in the sylvan woods of Brigton, and along the rich haughs and meadows that fringe with emerald beauty the banks of the swift-ruuning Kerbet. Hand-inhand would they joyously wander on ; now stopping their march for a brief moment to listen to the merry songs of the happy birds, or to pull a primrose or gowan from the lovely greensward on which they trod; anon to watch the speckled trout and gambolling minnow, as they sported in their own wild joy in the shady pools of the beautiful river ; or to pat with affectionate gentleness, the pretty heads of the new-born lambs, as they quietly lay in some flowery hollow, basking in safety their brief hours of happiness in the sultry rays of the summer's sun.

In going or returning by the bonny hedges of Brigton to Kinnettles wee school,” while his other schoolmates were roystering away in their joyous mirth, and roughly indulging in practical jokes at his expense, Percy was ever silently by the side of Jeanie Cargill; not that without his guardianship she would ever receive insult or come to harm, but feeling intuitively it was not only his duty, but his right to stand between her and all danger, imaginary or otherwise.

On one of these occasions, while returning from school, and when Percy had become a stout lad of fourteen, the practical joking had, in his estimation, taken such an offensive turn, that, purposely walking on with Jeanie before his schoolmates, at a quicker pace than was his wont, he abruptly bade her adieu as she entered Douglastown, and, returning the way he had come, bent on avenging the insult he imagined he had received, he met in proud defiance his roystering schoolmates, and challenging any one of them to

a

single combat to settle the quarrel, calmly awaited their decision.

Great was the consternation in the enemy's camp, and, a council of war having been held, it was wisely determined that the biggest boy in the group should be selected as their champion. Now, the biggest boy-Davie Gray-was a veritable big boy indeed, and, as far as size and strength were concerned, shewed a marked contrast to the slender stripling with whom he was to measure his martial prowess. Although Davie afterwards became an esteemed minister in a rural parish not far from his native Howe, his appearance at this time was far from being clerical or prepossessing. Stalwart and swarthy, big-boned, and long-legged; with a great black, bushy, burly head, surmounted by a very small Glengarry bonnet; a pair of piercing black eyes, and a Roman beak, as bent and sharp as that of a hawk; with hodden-grey clothes by far too small for the growing body they encased, and great tackety, home-made brogues, as heavy as a ploughshare, the figure presented by the embryo minister was anything but savouring of the manse.

Tak’aff your coat, Davie-tak'aff your coat,” cried the excited urchins, eager for the fray ; “ye canna feicht wi' your coat on, man,” forming a wide living ring, at the same time, round the expected combatants, just in front of the gateway leading to the home farm of Brigton.

Percy's jacket was off in an instant, which act Davie perceiving with the tail of his eye, obliged him to follow suit, and to appear at least courageous, although, if the truth must be told, the little courage he had was now beginning, like that of another personage in similar circumstances, to ooze out rather quickly from his finger ends.

Tak' your time, my lad,” Davie growled at length ; “I'll be at you in a jiffey.” But, somehow or other, Davie's homespun coat would not be persuaded to come off even, with the zealous assistance of several boys, who, after many fruitless attempts at co-operation, gave it up in despair, not,

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