"Home came Lord Archibold, weary wight,
Home to his own countree;
"And the man in rust-brown, with his visor down,
Had gone, he knew not where.
"But dull was her eye, though her mien was high;
And she spoke like Eve to Cain:
'Lord Archibold Gordon, answer me true,
Or I'll never speak again.
"'Where is thy brother, Lord Archibold?
He was flesh and blood of thine.
"Lord Archibold could not speak a word,
For his heart was almost broke.
He turned to go. The carrion-crow
At the window gave a croak.
"'Now where art thou going, Lord Archie?' she said,
'With thy lips so white and thin?'
'Mother, good-bye; I am going to lie
In the earth with my brother-twin.'
"Lady Margaret sank on her couch. 'Alas!
I shall lose them both to-day.'
Lord Archibold strode along the road,
To the field of the Brothers' Fray.
'They have left him there, till his bones are bare;
Through the plates they glimmer white.'
"For his brother's armour lay there, dank,
And worn with frost and dew.
'I would put my soul into thy bones,
To see thee alive and hale.'
"'Ha! ha!' said a voice from out the helm--
'Twas the voice of the Dead Sea shore--
"'Thou canst put no soul into his bones,
Thy brother alive to set;
"'Two words to that!' said the fearless Earl;
'The sleep was none of thine;
"'But I care not a crack for a soul so black,
And thou may'st have it yet:
I would let it burn to eternity,
My brother alive to set.'
"The demon lifted his beaver up,
Crusted with blood and mould;
And, lo! John Gordon looked out of the helm,
And smiled upon Archibold.
"'Thy soul is mine, brother Archie,' he said,
'And I yield it thee none the worse;
No devil came near thee, Archie, lad,
But a brother to be thy nurse.'
"Lord Archibold fell upon his knee,
On the blood-fed, bright green sod:
'The soul that my brother gives back to me,
Is thine for ever, O God!'"
"Now for a piece of good, honest prose!" said the curate, the moment Harry had finished, without allowing room for any remarks. "That is, if the ladies and gentlemen will allow me to read once more."
Of course, all assented heartily.
"It is nothing of a story, but I think it is something of a picture, drawn principally from experiences of my own childhood, which I told you was spent chiefly in the north of Scotland. The one great joy of the year, although some years went without it altogether, was the summer visit paid to the shores of the Moray Firth. My story is merely a record of some of the impressions left on myself by such a visit, although the boy is certainly not a portrait of myself; and if it has no result, no end, reaching beyond childhood into what is commonly called life, I presume it is not of a peculiar or solitary character in that respect; for surely many that we count finished stories--life-histories--must look very different to the angels; and if they haven't to be written over again, at least they have to be carried on a few aeons further.