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CHAPTER Xl X.—Continued. James Duncanson was nbt naturally envious or misanthropical, but the sight of so much apparent happiness around him, while his own mind was wrung by torturing anxieties, was not calculated to harmonise with his feelings. Besides, like all persons of a sensitive nature, he was subject to fits of depression even when there was no assignable cause for his low spirits. It is little wonder then that, on this occasion, he felt more sad than joyous, and rambled forth alone in rather a sombre mood. He took his way, more by chance than choice, through the King’s Park, and ■ strolled heedlessly along through the Duke’s Walk and the Hunter’s Bog. At length he reached the breezy ridge of Salisbury Craigs, and then lay down on the grass to rest after the fatigue of the ascent. There was not a living creature near him, but the summit of Arthur’s Seat was crowded with people, straining their eyes seaward to catch a glimpse of the royal squadron, expected about that time in the Frith. A number of men and a swarm of boys were, engaged piling up a vast mass of coals and brushwood, to be kindled, whenever a bonfire should appear on North Berwick Law, as the signal that the royal squadron was in sight. The scene was interesting, and there was a : spiritstirring excitement even to the student, in the event for which so many thousands waited in breathless suspense. He also looked long and steadfastly towards the Bass Rock and the Isle of May, but saw nothing on the sea except an occasional sail, or a trail of steamboat smoke, such as might be seen any other day. Berwick Law as yet showed not a spark of the expected signal, and looked blackedthan usual, as if sulky at having nothing to communicate. James insensibly turned his face towards the city, for there was in that direction something that attracted him much more powerfully than the vessel which earned the Queen, of England. It was the spot where the Queen of his' affections was domiciled, and where probably at that moment she was weep-, ing for him. This was an interest far beyond all that could attach to royalty, with all its pomp and splendor, and for a time it so engrossed his mind as to make him totally forgetful of everything besides. His mind revelled in delicious reveries, all deriving their charms from Agnes Montgomery. It ran back jnto thq p jist, and recalled her - looks and words when they first met and when they last parted, and every in- ; cident between. Then it tried to penetrate the future—to resolve doubts and balance probabilities ; but the task was all too hard. He could make nothing of it but matter for sighing; for while he had his own objects well defined and reduced within what he thought reasonable bounds, he felt himself utterly powerless Tor their , accomplishment, and drifting' at the mercy of uncontrollable circumstances! 1 Strange; to think (so rati his' that a few years hence, when these rocks around me will still be just as they afe j;o-day, and when even the aspect of the city from this spot may be Ijttle changed—every feature of the land-' scape the same as now—and when only

a few alternations of the seasons shall have occurred and left no visible trace behind them ; strange to think that all the 5 problems of destiny which now hold me in restless anxiousness and doubt will have been solved one way or other. Fortune will have done, her best and Fate her worst—Agnes and I will have been happy together or wretched asunder. O, if I could but touch the wavering balance of our destiny, and turn it to the happy side ! But the wish is presumptuous. The poet says truly— There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to greatness. Yet, as truly, does he say There’s a Divinity that shapes our ends. Rough-hew them haw we will. These thoughts brought to mind the divine lessons of a greater teacherj and made the student feel abashed when he considered 'ho'vV forgetful he had been of the overruling power in whose beneficent. hands is the disposal of all events. Whilst occupied with such reflections, and still reposing on the hill, though the sun had set, and the dusk of even had begun to fall, he observed two lads, of rather shabby appearance, come stealthily up the foot track among the grass to near where he lay. It was evident they did not see him, for a few stunted bushes intervened, and effectually screened him from their observation, though he saw all their movements through an accidental opening among the brambles. , Before they had reached the spot where he lay they diverged towards the abrupt face of the rock, and after much consultation and many suspicious glances in every direction to make sure of not being observed, they bothstooped down and deposited something of considerable bulk in a hole, so well concealed that it could not readily be found but by such as knew of its existence. They , then left the place slowly and with much seeming; hesitation. One of them indeed appeared disposed to remove the deposit again, as if in doubt as to its safety ; but his companion vehemently insisted on allowing it to remain, and said in words so earnestly expressed, though spoken low, that air. Duncanson caught their import— ‘ Let it alane, ye thickhead. M'Levie and Sutherland (redoubtable criminal officers at that time) ’ll be: on the hunt already, and if the swag be in a’ Enibro the nicht they’ll nab baith it and us.’ , ; As soon as, they were fairly but of sight, which was not for a considerable time (for they loitered long within view of the place, reluctant as we have said to leave it, but also afraid to remain, in case of drawing attention to the hidden prize), the student cautiously approached the spot, and by the glimmer of light yet remaining,, discovered to his amazement ah ample leathern 1 pocket which he identified at once as the property of his aunt. He was ignorant of the value of its contents ; but found, that it was well filled with one thing and another, and thought it highly probable, from his knowledge of its owner’s habits, that it would contain money to a considerable amount. He immediately proceeded with his treasure Uove to the lodging-house of Mrs. M'Glunchagain, where he found all the inmates in a state .of consternation, ; even Jean Brown looking sad for once, and his.aunt distractedly bewailing her loss as sufficient to plunge her into beggary. ; v-.. , /; -GH(To be continued. ) >

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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 191, 13 November 1880

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THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 191, 13 November 1880