THE MARQUIS OF LOSSIE. by George MacDonald
CHAPTER I: THE STABLE YARD
It was one of those exquisite days that come in every winter, in
which it seems no longer the dead body, but the lovely ghost of
summer. Such a day bears to its sister of the happier time something
of the relation the marble statue bears to the living form; the
sense it awakes of beauty is more abstract, more ethereal; it lifts
the soul into a higher region than will summer day of lordliest
splendour. It is like the love that loss has purified.
Such, however, were not the thoughts that at the moment occupied
the mind of Malcolm Colonsay. Indeed, the loveliness of the morning
was but partially visible from the spot where he stood--the stable
yard of Lossie House, ancient and roughly paved. It was a hundred
years since the stones had been last relaid and levelled: none of
the horses of the late Marquis minded it but one--her whom the
young man in Highland dress was now grooming--and she would have
fidgeted had it been an oak floor. The yard was a long and wide
space, with two storied buildings on all sides of it. In the centre
of one of them rose the clock, and the morning sun shone red on
its tarnished gold. It was an ancient clock, but still capable of
keeping good time--good enough, at least, for all the requirements
of the house, even when the family was at home, seeing it never
stopped, and the church clock was always ordered by it.
It not only set the time, but seemed also to set the fashion of
the place, for the whole aspect of it was one of wholesome, weather
beaten, time worn existence. One of the good things that accompany
good blood is that its possessor does not much mind a shabby coat.
Tarnish and lichens and water wearing, a wavy house ridge, and
a few families of worms in the wainscot do not annoy the marquis
as they do the city man who has just bought a little place in the
country. When an old family ceases to go lovingly with nature, I
see no reason why it should go any longer. An old tree is venerable,
and an old picture precious to the soul, but an old house, on which
has been laid none but loving and respectful hands, is dear to the
very heart. Even an old barn door, with the carved initials of hinds
and maidens of vanished centuries, has a place of honour in the
cabinet of the poet's brain. It was centuries since Lossie House
had begun to grow shabby--and beautiful; and he to whom it now
belonged was not one to discard the reverend for the neat, or let
the vanity of possession interfere with the grandeur of inheritance.
Beneath the tarnished gold of the clock, flushed with the red
winter sun, he was at this moment grooming the coat of a powerful
black mare. That he had not been brought up a groom was pretty
evident from the fact that he was not hissing; but that he was
Marquis of Lossie there was nothing about him to show. The mare
looked dangerous. Every now and then she cast back a white glance
of the one visible eye. But the youth was on his guard, and as wary
as fearless in his handling of her. When at length he had finished
the toilet which her restlessness--for her four feet were never
all still at once upon the stones--had considerably protracted,
he took from his pocket a lump of sugar, and held it for her to
bite at with her angry looking teeth.
It was a keen frost, but in the sun the icicles had begun to drop.
The roofs in the shadow were covered with hoar frost; wherever
there was shadow there was whiteness. But for all the cold, there
was keen life in the air, and yet keener life in the two animals,
biped and quadruped.
As they thus stood, the one trying to sweeten the other's relation
to himself, if he could not hope much for her general temper, a
man, who looked half farmer, half lawyer, appeared on the opposite
side of the court in the shadow.
"You are spoiling that mare, MacPhail," he cried.
"I canna weel du that, sir; she canna be muckle waur," said the
"It's whip and spur she wants, not sugar."
"She has had, and sail have baith, time aboot (in turn); and I houp
they'll du something for her in time, sir."
"Her time shall be short here, anyhow. She's not worth the sugar
you give her."
"Eh, sir! luik at her," said Malcolm, in a tone of expostulation,
as he stepped back a few paces and regarded her with admiring eyes.
"Saw ye ever sic legs? an' sic a neck? an' sic a heid? an' sic fore
an' hin' quarters? She's a' bonny but the temper o' her, an' that
she canna help like the likes o' you an me."
"She'll be the death o' somebody some day. The sooner we get rid
of her the better. Just look at that," he added, as the mare laid
back her ears and made a vicious snap at nothing in particular.
"She was a favourite o' my--maister, the marquis," returned the
youth, "an' I wad ill like to pairt wi' her."
"I'll take any offer in reason for her," said the factor. "You'll
just ride her to Forres market next week, and see what you can get
for her. I do think she's quieter since you took her in hand."
"I'm sure she is--but it winna laist a day. The moment I lea'
her, she'll be as ill's ever," said the youth. "She has a kin' a
likin' to me, 'cause I gi'e her sugar, an' she canna cast me; but
she's no a bit better i' the hert o' her yet. She's an oonsanctifeed
brute. I cudna think o' sellin' her like this."
"Lat them 'at buys tak' tent (beware)," said the factor.
"Ow ay! lat them; I dinna objec'; gien only they ken what she's
like afore they buy her," rejoined Malcolm.
The factor burst out laughing. To his judgment the youth had spoken
like an idiot.
"We'll not send you to sell," he said. "Stoat shall go with you,
and you shall have nothing to do but hold the mare and your own
"Sir," said Malcolm, seriously, "ye dinna mean what ye say? Ye
said yersel' she wad be the deith o' somebody, an' to sell her ohn
tell't what she's like wad be to caw the saxt comman'ment clean to
"That may be good doctrine i' the kirk, my lad, but it's pure heresy
i' the horse market. No, no! You buy a horse as you take a wife--
for better for worse, as the case may be. A woman's not bound to
tell her faults when a man wants to marry her. If she keeps off
the worst of them afterwards, it's all he has a right to look for."
"Hoot, sir! there's no a pair o' parallel lines in a' the
compairison," returned Malcolm. "Mistress Kelpie here 's e'en ower
ready to confess her fauts, an' that by giein' a taste o' them;
she winna bide to be speired; but for haudin' aff o' them efter the
bargain's made--ye ken she's no even responsible for the bargain.
An' gien ye expec' me to haud my tongue aboot them--faith,
Maister Crathie, I wad as sune think o' sellin' a rotten boat to
Blue Peter. Gien the man 'at has her to see tilt dinna ken to luik
oot for a storm o' iron shune or lang teeth ony moment, his wife
may be a widow that same market nicht: An' forbye, it's again' the
aucht comman'ment as weel's the saxt. There's nae exception there
in regaird o' horse flesh. We maun be honest i' that as weel's i'
corn or herrin', or onything ither 'at 's coft an' sell't atween
man an' his neibor."
"There's one commandment, my lad," said Mr Crathie, with the dignity
of intended rebuke, "you seem to find hard to learn, and that is,
to mind your own business."
"Gien ye mean catchin' the herrin', maybe ye're richt," said the
youth. "I ken muir aboot that nor the horse coupin', and it's full
"None of your impudence!" returned the factor. "The marquis is
not here to uphold you in your follies. That they amused him is no
reason why I should put up with them. So keep your tongue between
your teeth, or you'll find it the worse for you."
The youth smiled a little oddly, and held his peace.
"You're here to do what I tell you, and make no remarks," added
"I'm awaur o' that, sir--within certain leemits," returned Malcolm.
"What do you mean by that?"
"I mean within the leemits o' duin' by yer neibor as ye wad ha'e
yer neibor du by you--that's what I mean, sir."
"I've told you already that doesn't apply in horse dealing.
Every man has to take care of himself in the horse market: that's
understood. If you had been brought up amongst horses instead of
herring, you would have known that as well as any other man."
"I doobt I'll ha'e to gang back to the herrin' than, sir, for they're
like to pruv' the honester o' the twa; But there's nae hypocrisy
in Kelpie, an' she maun ha'e her day's denner, come o' the morn's
At the word hypocrisy, Mr Crathie's face grew red as the sun in
a fog. He was an elder of the kirk, and had family worship every
night as regularly as his toddy. So the word was as offensive and
insolent as it was foolish and inapplicable. He would have turned
Malcolm adrift on the spot, but that he remembered--not the favour
of the late marquis for the lad--that was nothing to the factor
now: his lord under the mould was to him as if he had never been
above it--but the favour of the present marchioness, for all in
the house knew that she was interested in him. Choking down therefore
his rage and indignation, he said sternly;
"Malcolm, you have two enemies--a long tongue, and a strong
conceit. You have little enough to be proud of, my man, and the
less said the better. I advise you to mind what you're about, and
show suitable respect to your superiors, or as sure as judgment
you'll go back to fish guts."
While he spoke, Malcolm had been smoothing Kelpie all over with his
palms; the moment the factor ceased talking, he ceased stroking,
and with one arm thrown over the mare's back, looked him full in
"Gien ye imaigine, Maister Crathie," he said, "'at I coont it ony
rise i' the warl' 'at brings me un'er the orders o' a man less
honest than he micht be, ye're mista'en. I dinna think it's pride
this time; I wad ile Blue Peter's lang butes till him, but I winna
lee for ony factor atween this an' Davy Jones."
It was too much. Mr Crathie's feelings overcame him, and he was
a wrathful man to see, as he strode up to the youth with clenched
"Haud frae the mere, for God's sake, Maister Crathie," cried Malcolm.
But even as he spoke, two reversed Moorish arches of gleaming
iron opened on the terror quickened imagination of the factor
a threatened descent from which his most potent instinct, that of
self preservation, shrank in horror. He started back white with
dismay, having by a bare inch of space and a bare moment of time,
escaped what he called Eternity. Dazed with fear he turned and
had staggered halfway across the yard, as if going home, before he
recovered himself. Then he turned again, and with what dignity he
could scrape together said--"MacPhail, you go about your business."
In his foolish heart he believed Malcolm had made the brute strike
"I canna weel gang till Stoat comes hame," answered Malcolm.
"If I see you about the place after sunset, I'll horsewhip you,"
said the factor, and walked away, showing the crown of his hat.
Malcolm again smiled oddly, but made no reply. He undid the mare's
halter, and took her into the stable. There he fed her, standing
by her all the time she ate, and not once taking his eyes off her.
His father, the late marquis, had bought her at the sale of the
stud of a neighbouring laird, whose whole being had been devoted
to horses, till the pale one came to fetch himself: the men about
the stable had drugged her, and, taken with the splendid lines of
the animal, nor seeing cause to doubt her temper as she quietly
obeyed the halter, he had bid for her, and, as he thought, had her
a great bargain. The accident that finally caused his death followed
immediately after, and while he was ill no one cared to vex him
by saying what she had turned out. But Malcolm had even then taken
her in hand in the hope of taming her a little before his master,
who often spoke of his latest purchase, should see her again. In
this he had very partially succeeded; but if only for the sake of
him whom he now knew for his father, nothing would have made him
part with the animal. Besides, he had been compelled to use her with
so much severity at times that he had grown attached to her from
the reaction of pity as well as from admiration of her physical
qualities, and the habitude of ministering to her wants and comforts.
The factor, who knew Malcolm only as a servant, had afterwards
allowed her to remain in his charge, merely in the hope, through
his treatment, of by and by selling her, as she had been bought,
for a faultless animal, but at a far better price.
Table of Contents
THE MARQUIS OF LOSSIE.
CHAPTER I: THE STABLE YARD
CHAPTER II: THE LIBRARY
CHAPTER III: MISS HORN
CHAPTER IV: KELPIE'S AIRING
CHAPTER V: LIZZY FINDLAY
CHAPTER VI: MR CRATHIE
CHAPTER VII: BLUE PETER
CHAPTER VIII: VOYAGE TO LONDON
CHAPTER IX: LONDON STREETS
CHAPTER X: THE TEMPEST
CHAPTER XI: DEMON AND THE PIPES
CHAPTER XII: A NEW LIVERY
CHAPTER XIII: TWO CONVERSATIONS
CHAPTER XIV: FLORIMEL
CHAPTER XV: PORTLOSSIE
CHAPTER XVI: ST JAMES THE APOSTLE
CHAPTER XVII: A DIFFERENCE
CHAPTER XVIII: LORD LIFTORE
CHAPTER XIX: KELPIE IN LONDON
CHAPTER XX: BLUE PETER
CHAPTER XXI: MR GRAHAM
CHAPTER XXII: RICHMOND PARK
CHAPTER XXIII: PAINTER AND GROOM
CHAPTER XXIV: A LADY
CHAPTER XXV: THE PSYCHE
CHAPTER XXVI: THE SCHOOLMASTER
CHAPTER XXVII: THE PREACHER
CHAPTER XXVIII: THE PORTRAIT
CHAPTER XXIX: AN EVIL OMEN
CHAPTER XXX: A QUARREL
CHAPTER XXXI: THE TWO DAIMONS
CHAPTER XXXII: A CHASTISEMENT
CHAPTER XXXIII: LIES
CHAPTER XXXIV: AN OLD ENEMY
CHAPTER XXXV: THE EVIL GENIUS
CHAPTER XXXVI: CONJUNCTIONS
CHAPTER XXXVII: AN INNOCENT PLOT
CHAPTER XXXVIII: THE JOURNEY
CHAPTER XXXIX: DISCIPLINE
CHAPTER XL: MOONLIGHT
CHAPTER XLI: THE SWIFT
CHAPTER XLII: ST RONAN'S WELL
CHAPTER XLIII: A PERPLEXITY
CHAPTER XLIV: THE MIND OF THE AUTHOR
CHAPTER XLV: THE RIDE HOME
CHAPTER XLVI: PORTLAND PLACE
CHAPTER XLVII: PORTLOSSIE AND SCAURNOSE
CHAPTER XLVIII: TORTURE
CHAPTER XLIX: THE PHILTRE
CHAPTER L: THE DEMONESS AT BAY
CHAPTER LI: THE PSYCHE
CHAPTER LII: HOPE CHAPEL
CHAPTER LIII: A NEW PUPIL
CHAPTER LIV: THE FEY FACTOR
CHAPTER LV: THE WANDERER
CHAPTER LVI: MID OCEAN
CHAPTER LVII: THE SHORE
CHAPTER LVIII: THE TRENCH
CHAPTER LIX: THE PEACEMAKER
CHAPTER LX: AN OFFERING
CHAPTER LXI: THOUGHTS
CHAPTER LXII: THE DUNE
CHAPTER LXIII: CONFESSION OF SIN
CHAPTER LXIV: A VISITATION
CHAPTER LXV: THE EVE OF THE CRISIS
CHAPTER LXVI: SEA
CHAPTER LXVII: SHORE
CHAPTER LXVIII: THE CREW OF THE BONNIE ANNIE
CHAPTER LXIX: LIZZY'S BABY
CHAPTER LXX: THE DISCLOSURE
CHAPTER LXXI: THE ASSEMBLY
CHAPTER LXXII: KNOTTED STRANDS