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“I have known them, mother,” replied Mordaunt, “ and I have loved them-none knows it better than you yourself.”
“ To know them once,” said Norna, emphatically, “is to know them always. - To love them once, is to love them for ever."
“ To have loved them once, is to wish them well for ever,” replied the youth; “ but it is nothing more. To be plain with you, Norna, the family at Burgh-Westra have of late totally 'neglected me. But shew me the means of serving them ; I will convince you how much I have remembered old kindness, how little I resent late coldness."
“ It is well spoken, and I will put your purpose to the proof,” replied Norna.
Magnus Troil has taken a serpent into his bosom-his lovely daughters are delivered up to the machinations of a villain."
“ You mean the stranger, Cleveland ?” said Mordaunt.
“ The stranger who so calls himself,” replied Norna—" the same whom we found flung ashore like a waste heap of sea-weed at the foot of the
Sumburgh-cape. I felt that within me, that would have prompted me to let him lie till the tide floated him off, as it had floated him on shore. I repent me I gave not way to it.”
But,” said Mordaunt, “ I cannot repent that I did my duty as a Christian man. And what right have I to wish otherwise ? If Minna, Brenda, Magnus, and the rest, like that stranger better than me, I have no title to be offended; nay, I might well be laughed at for bringing myself into comparison.”
“ It is well, and I trust they merit thy unselfish friendship."
“But I cannot perceive," said Mordaunt, " in what you can propose that I should serve them. I have but just learned by Bryce the jagger, that this Captain Cleveland is all in all with the ladies at. Harfra, and with the Udaller himself. I would like ill to intrude myself where I am not welcome, or to place my homebred merit in comparison with Captain Cleveland's. He can tell them of battles, when I can only speak of birds’-nests — can speak of shooting Frenchmen, when I can only tell of
shooting seals-he wears gay clothes, and bears a brave countenance; I am plainly dressed, and plainly nurtured. Such gay gallants as he can noose the hearts of those he lives with, as the fowler: nooses the guillemot with his rod and line.”
“ You do wrong to yourself,” replied Norna,
wrong to yourself, and greater wrong to Minna and Brenda ; and trust not the reports of Bryce-he is like the greedy chaffer-whale, that will change his course and dive for the most petty coin which a fisher can cast at him. Certain it is, that if you have been lessened in the opinion of Magnus Troil, that sordid fellow hath had some share in it. But let him count his vantage, for my eye is upon him.”
“ And why, mother,” said Mördaunt, “ do you not tell to Magnus what you have told to me ?"
. "Because," replied Norna, “ they who wax wise in their own conceit must be taught a bitter lesson by experience. It was but yesterday that I spoke with Magnus, and what was his reply?-'Good Norna, you grow old. And
this was spoken by one bounden to me by so many and such close ties — by the descendant of the ancient Norse earls - this was from Magnus Troil to me; and it was said in behalf of one whom the sea flung forth as wreck-weed ! Since he despises the counsel of the aged, he shall be taught by that of the young; and well that he is not left to his own folly. Go, therefore, to Burgh-Westra as usually upon the Baptist's festival.”
“ I have had no invitation," said Mordaunt; “I am not wanted, not wished for, not thought of-perhaps I shall not be acknowledged if I go thither; and yet, mother, to confess the truth, thither I had thought to go.”
“It was a good thought, and to be cherished,” replied Norna; “ we seek our friends when they are sick in health, why not when they are sick in mind, and surfeited with prosperity? Do not fail to go - it may be, we shall meet there. Meanwhile our roads lie different. Farewell, and speak not of this meeting.”
They parted, and Mordaunt remained standing by the lake, with his eyes fixed on Norna,