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fire flashed from his eyes, and the foam flew from his lips; and that it would be a plain tempting of Providence to put herself again in such a venture."
But, on the encouragement which she received from the son, she determined at length once more to face the parent; and, dressing herself in her ordinary household attire, for so Mordaunt particularly recommended, she slipped into the Castle, and presently resuming the various and numerous occupations which devolved on her, seemed as deeply engaged in household cares as if she had never been out of office.
The first day of her return to her duty, Swertha made no appearance in presence of her master, but trusted that, after his three days' diet on cold meat, a hot dish, dressed with the best of her simple skill, might introduce her favourably to his recollection. When Mordaunt had reported that his father had taken no notice of this change of diet, and when she herself observed that, in passing and repassing him occasionally, her appearance produced no effect upon her singular master, she began to imagine
that the whole affair had escaped Mr Mertoun's memory. Neither was she convinced of the contrary, until one day, when happening somewhat to elevate her tone in a dispute with the other maid-servant, her master, who at that time passed the place of contest, eyed her with a strong glance, and pronounced the single word, remember, in a tone which taught Swertha the government of her tongue for many weeks after.
If Mertoun was whimsical in his mode of governing his household, he seemed no less so in his plan of educating his son. He showed the youth but few symptoms of parental affection; yet, in his ordinary state of mind, the improvement of Mordaunt's education seemed to be the utmost object of his life. He had both books and information sufficient to discharge the task of tutor in the ordinary branches of knowledge; and in this capacity was regular, calm, and strict, not to say severe, in exacting from his pupil the attention necessary for his profiting. But in the perusal of history, to which their attention was frequently turned, as well as in the study of classic authors, there often occurred facts or sentiments which produced an instant effect upon Mertoun's mind, and brought on him suddenly what Swertha, Sweyn, and even Mordaunt, came to distinguish by the name of his dark hour. He was aware, in the usual case, of its approach, and retreated to an inner apartment, into which he never permitted even Mordaunt to enter. Here he would abide in seclusion for days, and even weeks, only coming out at uncertain times, to take such food as they had taken care to leave within his reach, which he used in wonderfully small quantities. At other times, and especially during the winter solstice, when almost every person spends the time within doors in feasting and merriment, this unhappy man would wrap himself in a dark-coloured sea cloak, and wander out along the stormy beach, or upon the desolate heath, indulging his own gloomy and way, ward reveries, under the inclement sky, the rather that he was then most sure to wander unencountered and unobserved.
As Mordaunt grew older, he learned to note the particular signs which preceded these fits of gloomy despondency, and to direct such precautions as might insure his unfortunate parent from ill-timed interruption, (which had always the effect of driving him to fury,) while, on the contrary, full provision was made for his subsistence. Mordaunt perceived, that at such periods the melancholy fit of his father was greatly prolonged, if he chanced to present himself to his eyes while the dark hour was upon him. Out of respect, therefore, to his parent, as well as to indulge the love of active exercise and of amusement natural to his period of life, Mordaunt used often altogether to absent himself from the mansion of Jarlshof, and even from the district, secure that his father, if the dark hour passed away in his absence, would be little disposed to inquire how his son had disposed of his leisure, so he was sure he had not watched his own weak moments; that being the subject on which he entertained the utmost jealousy.
At such times, therefore, all the sources of amusement which the country afforded, were open to the younger Mertoun, who, in these intervals of his education, had an opportunity to give full scope to the energies of a bold, active, and daring character. He was often engaged
with the youth of the hamlet in those desperate sports to which the dreadful trade of the samphire gatherer” is like a walk upon level ground - often joined those midnight excursions upon the face of the giddy cliffs, to secure the eggs or the young of the sea-fowl; and in these daring adventures displayed an address, and presence of mind, and activity, which, in one so young, and not a native of the country, astonished the oldest fowlers.
Atother times, Mordaunt accompanied Sweyn and other fishermen in their long and perilous expeditions to the distant and deep sea, learning under their direction the management of the boat, in which they equal or exceed, perhaps, any natives of the British empire. This exercise had charms for Mordaunt, independently of the fishing alone.
At this time, the old Norwegian sagas were ‘much remembered, and often rehearsed by the fishermen, who still preserved amongst themselves the ancient Norse tongue, which was the speech of their forefathers. In the dark romance of those Scandinavian tales, lay much that was