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Mertoun could be prevailed upon to undertake the office of skudler, or leader of the band. Upon these occasions, full of fun and frolic, he led his retinue from house to house, bringing mirth where he went, and leaving regret when he departed. Mordaunt became thus generally known, and beloved as generally, through most of the houses composing the patriarchal community of the Main Isle'; but his visits were most frequently and most willingly paid at the mansion of his father's landlord and protector, Magnus Troil.
It was not entirely the hearty and sincere welcome of the worthy old Magnate, nor the sense that he was in effect his father's patron, which occasioned these frequent visits. The hand of welcome was indeed received as eagerly as it was sincerely given, while the ancient udaller, raising himself in his huge chair, whereof the inside was lined with well-dressed seal-skins, and the outside composed of massive oak, carved by the rude graving-tool of some Hamburgh carpenter, shouted forth his welcome in a tone which might have, in ancient times, hailed the
return of loul, the highest festival of the Goths. There was metal yet more attractive, and younger hearts, whose welcome, if less loud, was as sincere as that of the jolly udaller. But it is matter which ought not to be discussed at the conclusion of a chapter.
“ O, Bessy Bell and Mary Gray,
They were twa bonnie lasses;
And theekit it ower wi' rashes.
And thought I ne'er could alter,
We have already mentioned Minna and Brenda, the daughters of Magnus Troil. The mother had been dead for many years, and they were now two beautiful girls, the eldest only eighteen, which might be a year or two younger than Mordaunt Mertoun, the second about seventeen.- They were the joy of their father's heart, and the light of his old eyes ; and although indulged to a degree which might have endangered his comfort and their own, they repaid his affection with a love, into which even blind indulgence had not introduced slight regard, or feminine caprice. The difference of their tempers and of their complexions was singularly striking, although combined, as is usual, with a certain degree of family resemblance.
The mother of these maidens had been a Scottish lady from the Highlands of Sutherland, the orphan of a noble chief, who, driven from his own country during the feudis of the seventeenth century, had found shelter in those peaceful islands, which, amidst poverty and seclusion, were thus far happy, that they remained unvexed by discord, and unstained by civil broil. The father" (his name was Saint Clair,) pined for his native glen, his feudal tower, his clansmen, and his fallen' authority, and died not long after his arrival in Zetland. The beauty of his orphan daughter, despite her Scottish lineage, melted the stout heart of Magnus Troil." He sued and was listened to, and she became his bride; but dying: in the fifth year of their union, left him to mourn his brief period of domestic happiness.
From her mother, Minna inherited the stately form and dark eyes, the raven locks and finely pencilled brows, which showed she was, on one side at least, a stranger to the blood of Thule. Her cheek,
O call it fair, not pale,
was so slightly and delicately tinged with the rose, that many thought the lily had an undue proportion in her complexion. But in that predominance of the paler flower, there was nothing sickly or languid ; it was the true natural complexion of health, and corresponded in a peculiar degree with features which seemed calculated to express a contemplative and highminded character. When Minna Troil heard a tale of woe or of injustice, it was then her blood rushed to her cheeks, and showed plainly how warm it beat, notwithstanding the generally serious, composed, and retiring disposition, which her countenance and demeanour seemed to exhibit. If strangers sometimes conceived that these fine features were clouded by melancholy, for which her age and situation could scarce have given occasion, they were soon satisfied, upon further acquaintance, that the placid, mild quietude of her disposition, and the mental energy of a character which was