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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAlec Forbes Of Howglen - Chapter 61
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Alec Forbes Of Howglen - Chapter 61 Post by :szegez Category :Long Stories Author :George Macdonald Date :May 2012 Read :2611

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Alec Forbes Of Howglen - Chapter 61

CHAPTER LXI

Towards the middle of the following week the sky grew gloomy, and a thick small incessant rain brought the dreariest weather in the world. There was no wind, and miles of mist were gathered in the air. After a day or two the heavens grew lighter, but the rain fell as steadily as before, and in heavier drops. Still there was little rise in either the Glamour or the Wan Water, and the weather could not be said to be anything but seasonable.

On the Saturday afternoon, weary of some poor attempts at Greek and Latin, weary of the wretched rain, and weary with wishing to be with Kate, Alec could stay in the house no longer, and went out for a walk. Along the bank of the river he wandered, through the rain above and the wet grass below, to the high road, stood for a moment on the bridge gazing at the muddy Glamour, which came down bank-full,--Annie saw him from Tibbie's window as he stood,--and then turned and followed its course below the bridge through a wild, and now dismal country, to where the waters met. It was getting dusk when he reached the place. With what a roar the Wan Water came down its rocks, rushing from its steeper course into the slow incline of the Glamour! A terrible country they came from--those two ocean-bound rivers--up among the hill-tops. There on the desolate peat-mosses, spongy, black, and cold, the rain was pouring into the awful holes whence generations had dug their fuel, and into the natural chasms of the earth, soaking the soil, and sending torrents, like the flaxen hair of a Titanic Naiad, rolling into the bosom of the rising river-god below. The mist hung there, darkening everything with its whiteness, ever sinking in slow fall upon the slippery peat and the heather and the gray old stones. By and by the pools would be filled, and the hidden caves; their sides would give way; the waters would rush from the one into the other, and from all down the hill-sides, and the earth-sponge would be drained off.

"Gin this hauds, we'll hae a spate," said Alec to himself, when he saw how the waters met, flooding the _invers_, and beginning to invade the trees upon the steep banks below. The scene was in harmony with his feelings. The delight of the sweeping waters entered his soul, and filled him with joy and strength. As he took his way back through the stunted trees, each swathed in its own mist, and dripping as if it were a separate rain-cloud; and through the bushes that wetted him like pools; and through the streams that poured down the steep bank into the Glamour; he thought how different it was when he walked there with Kate, when the sun was bright, and the trees were covered with green, and the heather was in patches of blossom, and the river went clear-hearted and singing over its stony channel below. But he would rather have it thus, now that Kate was gone.

The floods then were slower in rising, and rose to a much greater height than now. In the present day, the numerous drains provide a rapid and steady escape, so that there is no accumulation of waters, and no bursting of the walls of natural or accidental reservoirs. And I presume that from slow changes produced in the climate by cultivation, there may be a less fall of water now than there used to be; for in some parts of that country the rivers have, within the memory of middle-aged men, considerably decreased in volume.

That evening, in the schoolmaster's lodgings. Truffey sat at the tea-table triumphant. The master had been so pleased with an exercise which he had written for him--written in verse too--that he had taken the boy home to tea with him, dried him well at his fire, and given him as much buttered toast as he could eat. Truffey had often had a like privilege, but never for an ovation, as now. How he loved the master!

"Truffey," said Mr Malison, after a long pause, during which he had been staring into the fire, "how's your leg?"

"Quite weel, thank ye, sir," answered Truffey, unconsciously putting out the foot of the wrong leg on the fender. "There wasna onything the maitter wi' 't."

"I mean the other leg, Truffey--the one that I--that I--hurt."

"Perfectly weel, sir. It's no worth speirin' efter. I wonner that ye tak sic pains wi' me, sir, whan I was sic a nickum."

The master could not reply. But he was more grateful for Truffey's generous forgiveness than he would have been for the richest living in Scotland. Such forgiveness is just giving us back ourselves--clean and happy. And for what gift can we be more grateful? He vowed over again to do all he could for Truffey. Perhaps a sticket minister might have a hand in making a minister that would not stick.

Then the master read Truffey's queer composition aloud, and notwithstanding all his conscientious criticism, Truffey was delighted with his own work when removed to an objective distance by the master's reading. At length Mr Malison said:

"It's time to go home, Andrew Truffey. Put on my cloak--there. And keep out of the puddles as much as you can."

"I'll pit the sma' fit in," said Truffey, holding up the end of his crutch, as he stretched it forward to make one bound out of the door. For he delighted in showing off his agility to the master.

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CHAPTER LXIIWhen Alec looked out of his window the next morning, he saw a broad yellow expanse below. The Glamour was rolling, a mighty river, through the land. A wild waste foamy water, looking cold and torn and troubled, it swept along the fields where late the corn had bowed to the autumn winds. But he had often seen it as high. And all the corn was safe in the yard. Neither he nor his mother regretted much that they could not go to church. Mrs Forbes sat by the fire and read Hannah More's _Christian Morals_, and Alec sat by
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CHAPTER LXAll the prophetic rumours of a bad harvest had proved themselves false. Never a better harvest had been gathered in the strath, nor had one ever been carried home in superior condition. But the passion for prophecy had not abated in Glamerton. It was a spiritual epidemic over the whole district. Now a certain wily pedler had turned the matter over and resolved to make something of it. One day there appeared in the streets of Glamerton a man carrying in his hand a bundle of papers as a sample of what he had in the pack upon his shoulders.
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