What's Mine's Mind - vol.1

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Mercy soon learned that some sort of encounter had taken place between her father's shooting party and some of the clan; also that the chief was hurt, but not in what manner--for by silent agreement that was not mentioned: it might seem to put them in the wrong! She had heard enough, however, to fill her with anxiety. Her window commanding the ridge by the castle, she seated herself to watch that point with her opera-glass. When the hill-party came from behind the ruin, she missed his tall figure amongst his people, and presently discovered him lying very white on one of the carts. Her heart became as water within her. But instant contriving how she could reach him, kept her up.

By and by Christina came to tell her she had just heard from one of the servants that the Macruadh was shot. Mercy, having seen him alive, heard the frightful news with tolerable calmness. Christina said she would do her best to discover before the morning how much he was hurt; no one in the house seemed able to tell her! Mercy, to avoid implicating her sister, held her peace as to her own intention.

As soon as it was dark she prepared to steal from the house, dreading nothing but prevention. When her dinner was brought her, and she knew they were all safe in the dining-room, she drew her plaid over her head, and leaving her food untasted, stole half down the stair, whence watching her opportunity between the comings and goings of the waiting servants, she presently got away unseen, crept softly past the windows, and when out of the shrubbery, darted off at her full speed. Her breath was all but gone when she knocked at the drawing-room door of the cottage.

It opened, and there stood the mother of her chief! The moment Mrs. Macruadh saw her, leaving her no time to say a word, she bore down upon her like one vessel that would sink another, pushing her from the door, and pulling it to behind her, stern as righteous Fate. Mercy was not going to be put down, however: she was doing nothing wrong!

"How is the Macruadh, please?" she managed to say.

"Alive, but terribly hurt," answered his mother, and would have borne her out of the open door of the cottage, towards the latch of which she reached her hand while yet a yard from it. Her action said, "Why WILL Nancy leave the door open!"

"Please, please, what is it?" panted Mercy, standing her ground. "How is he hurt?"

She turned upon her almost fiercely.

"This is what YOU have done for him!" she said, with right ungenerous reproach. "Your father fired at him, on my son's own land, and shot him in the chest."

"Is he in danger?" gasped Mercy, leaning against the wall, and trembling so she could scarcely stand.

"I fear he is in GREAT danger. If only the doctor would come!"

"You wouldn't mind my sitting in the kitchen till he does?" whispered Mercy, her voice all but gone.

"I could not allow it. I will not connive at your coming here without the knowledge of your parents! It is not at all a proper thing for a young lady to do!"

"Then I will wait outside!" said Mercy, her quick temper waking in spite of her anxiety: she had anticipated coldness, but not treatment like this! "There is one, I think, Mrs. Macruadh," she added, "who will not find fault with me for it!"

"At least he will not tell you so for some time!"

The door had not been quite closed, and it opened noiselessly.

"She does not mean me, mother," said Alister; "she means Jesus Christ. He would say to you, LET HER ALONE. He does not care for Society. Its ways are not his ways, nor its laws his laws. Come in, Mercy. I am sorry my mother's trouble about me should have made her inhospitable to you!"

"I cannot come in, Alister, if she will not let me!" answered Mercy.

"Pray walk in!" said Mrs. Macruadh.

She would have passed Mercy, going toward the kitchen, but the TRANCE was narrow, and Mercy did not move.

"You see, Alister, I cannot!" she insisted. "That would not please, would it?" she added reverently. "Tell me how you are, and I will go, and come again to-morrow."

Alister told her what had befallen, making little of the affair, and saying he suspected it was an accident.

"Oh, thank you!" she said, with a sigh of relief. "I meant to sit by the castle wall till the doctor came; but now I shall get back before they discover I am gone."

Without a word more, she turned and ran from the house, and reached her room unmissed and unseen.

The next was a dreary hour--the most painful that mother and son had ever passed together. The mother was all this time buttressing her pride with her grief, and the son was cut to the heart that he should have had to take part against his mother. But when the doctor came at length, and the mother saw him take out his instruments, the pride that parted her from her boy melted away.

"Forgive me, Alister!" she whispered; and his happy kiss comforted her repentant soul.

When the small operations were over, and Alister was in bed, she would have gone to let Mercy know all she could tell her. But she must not: it would work mischief in the house! She sat down by Alister's bedside, and watched him all night.

He slept well, being in such a healthful condition of body that his loss of blood, and the presence of the few shot that could not be found, did him little harm. He yielded to his mother's entreaties to spend the morning in bed, but was up long before the evening in the hope of Mercy's coming, confident that his mother would now be like herself to her. She came; the mother took her in her arms, and begged her forgiveness; nor, having thus embraced her, could she any more treat her relation to her son with coldness. If the girl was ready, as her conduct showed, to leave all for Alister, she had saved her soul alive, she was no more one of the enemy!

Thus was the mother repaid for her righteous education of her son: through him her pride received almost a mortal blow, her justice grew more discriminating, and her righteousness more generous.

In a few days the chief was out, and looking quite himself.

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