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With a good deal of work, Andrew got a candle lighted, and the postman handed him the letter. The old man looked at the address and the seal, and turned it back and forward in his hand.
"Why don't you open it?" asked the postman, a little impatiently. "Because I ken it's no for me," persisted the honest Andrew, resolutely.
"But you must open it, and see positively."
"Weel, ye can just dae it yersel', theu, for I hinna my specks."
"My dear, dear Andrew-
I'm naebody's dear Andrew."
"What a curious name!" he muttered, as if speaking to himself. "I never heard of a woman named Diamond before."
"Diamond!" shrieked Andrew, so vehemently that the postman started two paces backward. "Did ye say Diamond ?"
"Yes, I think that is the name," he replied, coming again to the light.
"Mercifu' poors! read the letter, read the letter," added the old
Yes, yes; it's for me: be quick and read it.”
Thus urged, the man read Diamond's note, which we gave to the reader when it was written.
"She's safe! she's safe!" cried Andrew, hysterically; and sinking down on his knees by the side of a trunk, clasped his hands, and raised his streaming eyes in gratitude to Heaven. Then the full burst of joy which the tidings suddenly poured into his heart overcame him; and leaning his face on the box, he gave way to a paroxysm of tears.
The postman was deeply touched by this manifestation. He had a kindly, honest heart beating in his bosom, and this violent weeping of an old, grey-haired man called forth all its tender promptings, albeit he knew nothing of the cause.
"Poor old man," he said, gently laying his hand upon Andrew's shoulder. "You seem very much moved."
I hae cause I hae guid cause," answered Andrew, looking
The good-natured man read it over again, and Andrew listened with breathless attention.
But where is she?" asked he, in wonder. "Does she no say where she is ?"
No; she evidently wishes to keep that a secret at present, for there is no date or place mentioned. But I must go. I am glad the letter is of so much importance to you."
"Thank ye, sir. Mony thanks," said Andrew, earnestly, as he shook the postman by the hand. Then, when the latter departed, he sought out his spectacles; and, sitting down, read the note over and over, till the form of every letter was familiar to him.
"Guidness me! what am I sittin' here for?" he suddenly exclaimed. "There's Henry as dowf and dowie as I was mysel'. What for am I keepin' him in anither moment's agony? And she tells me tae to inform them a', kind, thoughtfu' lassie! I sall awa doon this very moment."
Saying this, he put the letter carefully into his pocket; and putting out the candle, and locking the door, hobbled down the stair as fast as his rheumatic limbs would carry him. Happy old man! he had at this moment a heart as light as a feather.
He knocked quickly at Mrs Ford's door, which that good lady immediately opened, and the light from the lamp in the passage revealed to her his beaming countenance. One glance was enough to show her that something cheering had occurred.
"Ye hae gotten news o' Diamond?" she whispered, breathlessly.
"Houts! Ony body lookin' at that face o' yours might ken that ye hae cause for joy, and I ken that news o' Diamond is the only thing that can gie ye happiness enow. But what is't? has she cast up?"
"No just that; but I hae gotten a letter frae her. Where's Henry?"
"Whist!" said Mrs Ford, laying her hand on Andrew's mouth; "dinna speak sae loud. It'll no dae to tell him ower rashly. Puir chield he's in a sair way, and a sudden shock micht kill him. Let me gang ben first, and prepare him."
Mrs Ford cautiously opened the door of Henry's room. He was little changed in position or appearance from the time of her previous visit about an hour before, save that an open Bible lay beside him on the table.
He looked up, and smiled languidly as she entered. “I have endeavoured to do your bidding," he said. "I have taken some
"But no ony bread, though," said the landlady, shaking her head. "Hooever, I see ye've dune even better than that. Ye've been at the Bible. Hae ye gotten ony comfort there?"
Andrew "Much, very much. I have been reading the hundred and twenty-first Psalm, and have now more faith in God."
"That's richt, that's very richt, Henry, my man; and I'm shure ye'll no be disappointed, for nane yet pat their trust in Him, and was confounded. Wha kens but at this very moment yer faith may be rewarded."
tat press -go. Ia
He looked quickly up, and saw a peculiar smile on Mrs Ford's face. "For Heaven's sake, tell me if you have heard he exclaimed, wildly.
"Now, dinna be sae vehement, like a guid laddie."
Then you do know something? quick, O quick; let me know what it is."
"I can thole this nae langer," cried Andrew, bursting into the "Yes, Henry lad, we dae ken something. There's news o' Diamond at last. Here's a letter I hae gotten frae her the nicht."
And Andrew fumbled in his pocket for the important document; but in his haste and excitement, he had forgot exactly where he had put it, and could not for some moments get hold of it. These moments were dreadful ones to Henry, whose thrilling heart was in an agony of doubt as to its purport.
"Confoond my trimmlin' fingers," said Andrew, impatiently. "But dinna be distressed ony mair, lad. She's weel and safe, as ye'll see when I get haud o' the letter. and open Ye'll dae it suner than me.' it.
Ay, here it's noo. Tak'
Henry seized the letter; but his hands trembled little less than those of the old man, and his eyes, in their very eagerness to see, could not at once discern the words.
Passing his hands hastily over them they became more steady, and he read the note aloud.
"Hurray!" shouted Andrew, seizing Mrs Ford by the arms, and dancing with her round the room.
"Losh, Andrew! are ye gaun daft?" cried the not ungratified landlady, as they whirled about.
"I dinna ken but I am," roared Andrew, with another whoop and a snap of his thumb.
"Mind the rheumatism," suggested his laughing partner. "Hang the rheumatism," replied the old man, getting more active in his skips and springs.
They grew breathless at length, and were obliged to give over. Mrs Ford threw herself panting into one chair, and Andrew into another; and there they sat looking at each other, and laughing till the tears came over their cheeks. Henry, meanwhile, had been reading the letter a second time, and was thinking much about its half revelations.
“Thank Heaven, she is safe now, at least, though she seems to
have been at one time in great danger. But why write so ambiguously?"
I dinna ken what ye ca' ambiguously," said Andrew. "She tells us she is happy and comfortable, and to keep our minds easy; and what mair wad ye be at?"
"A great deal more," said Henry. I want to know the particu lars of her disappearance. There is evidently something very strange in it yet. She writes very guardedly, because of circumstances; and there is neither date nor place mentioned. It has been posted to-day at the General, so that she must be in town.”
"Weel, weel, dinna frate ony mair aboot it. She says she'll see us very sune, and tell us a'thing. Let us wait in patience till then. For my part, I'm sae glad that she's safe and weel, that I dinna care for hearin' ony thing else enow. What say ye, Mrs Furde?" "I am just in your mind, Andrew. We may depend on it, that every word o' that letter is true; and maybe the morn or the next day she will come hersel'.”
We cannot possibly describe the revulsion of feeling in Henry's mind, or indeed the minds of all three, which this letter of Diamond's produced. It was like a burst of sunshine let suddenly in upon a scene of gloom. Brightness came back to the eyes, smiles to the faces, and gladness to the hearts. Mrs Ford ran and prepared a nice supper, to which they sat down and did ample justice; and so long did they sit talking together, that it was considered too late for Andrew to go to James' Court that night, and he was easily prevailed upon to remain, and sleep in what was still considered Mr Everly's bed.
It was pretty late ere they rose on the following morning. In fact, St Giles' had rung out the hour of nine, accompanied by the deep bass of the Canongate clock, ere any of them were aştir. Mrs Ford, as in duty bound, was the first to rise, that, like the virtuous woman of Solomon, she might give meat to her household. When breakfast was nearly ready, she tapped at Henry's door; but Henry was already up, and, quickly opening it, surprised the worthy woman by getting her in his arms, and giving her a hearty embrace.
Heaven bless ye, my bonny man," she said, earnestly, running her fingers through his hair, which had again passed under the comb, and clustered over his cleared brow and brightened eyes. What a change has come owre ye since last nicht !" she continued,
looking at his smiling face, which her own reflected.
"I feel I am not," returned Henry, gaily. "My heart is light, and my mind nearly free of care. In fact, every thing looks a thousand times brighter than they did yesterday."
"Sae muckle for the daein's o' love," rejoined the other. "What a thing it maun be to lose a sweetheart and get her back again!" "Nay," said Henry, with a sigh; "you forget that she had ceased to be my sweetheart ere she was lost. She is only my sister, you know."
"Fiddledidee! As if the warmest love can ever cool doon into mere sisterly affection! Dinna tell me that, Henry, lad. She's as muckle sweetheart as e'er she was." yer
"I fear you are right," answered the youth, with another sigh. "I do indeed love her as ardently as ever; but fate has forbidden our union. We can be in reality to each other only as brother and sister."
"Houts! wha kens? But gang ben and tell Andrew that the breakfast's ready.
Henry did as he was requested. He gently opened the door, and, looking in, saw the benevolent face of the old man lying upon the pillow in all the serenity of sleep. Henry stood and gazed at the calm, placid countenance, over which straggled a few grey hairs, reminding him that the snows of many years had passed over the head before him, and left their trace behind. Furrows, too, were on the cheek, ploughed there not by passion, but by the same slow, silent hand; but amid these evidences of decay, the counte nance was covered with a better bloom-the bloom of hope and faith-a bloom which he knew would never fade, but, emerging from the invaded and conquered grave, would blossom out into full and perfect radiance in the garden of immortality. "Let my
"Good old man!" murmured Henry, as he looked. life be like thine; and if I am spared to reach thy years, your joy and peace shall then be mine."
Presently the slumberer stirred, as if about to awake, and the young man stept behind the curtains, through an opening of which he could behold unseen.
Andrew opened his eyes, and looked in bewilderment at the objects before him.
"Losh preserve us! where am I?" he ejaculated, rising to his elbow, and looking in amazement round the apartment. "This is hoose. Diamond, lassie, are ye there?”
Henry popped his face round the curtains, and laughed. "Oho! I mind where I am noo," said the old man, whipping off his nightcap, and tossing it at Henry. "It's time I was up, I fancy. Man, what a soond sleep I hae gotten! And sic a saft