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CHAPTER IV.

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“ This is no pilgrim's morning - yon grey mist
Lies upon hill, and dale, and field, and forest,
Like the dun wimple of a new-made widow;
And, by my faith, although my heart be soft,
I'd rather hear that widow weep and sigh,
And tell the virtues of the dear-departed,
Than, when the tempest sends his voice abroad,
Be subject to its furg."

The Double Nuptials.

The spring was far advanced, when, after a week spent in sport and festivity at BurghWestra, Mordaunt Mertoun bade adieu to the family, pleading the necessity of his return to Jarlshof. The proposal was combatted by the maidens, and more decidedly by Magnus himself: He saw no occasion whatever for More daunt returning to Jarlshof. If his father desired to see him, which, by the way, Magnus did not believe, Mr Mertoun had only to throw himself into the stern of Sweyn's boat, or betake himself to a poney, if he liked a land' journey better, and he would see not only his son, but twenty folks besides, who would be most happy to find that he had not lost the use of his tongue entirely during his long solitude;

although I must own,” added Magnus, “ that when he lived amongst us, nobody ever made less use of it.”

Mordaunt acquiesced both in what respected his father's taciturnity and his dislike to general society: but suggested, at the same time, that the first circumstance rendered his own immediate return more necessary, as he was the usual channel of communication betwixt his father and others; and that the second corroborated the same necessity, since Mr Mertoun's having no other society whatever, seemed a weighty reason why his son's should be restored to him without lass of time. As to his father's coming to Burgh-Westra, “they might as well,” he said, “ expect to see Sumburgh Cape come thither.”

“ And that would be a cumbrous guest,” said Magnus; “ but you will stop for our dinner today? There are the families of Muness, Quendale, Therelivoe, and I know not whom else are expected; and, besides the thirty that were in

tion;

the house this blessed night, we shall have as many more as chamber and bower, and barn and boat-house, can furnish with beds, or with barleystraw, and you will leave all this behind you !"

“ And the blithe dance at night,” added Brenda, in a tone betwixt reproach and vexa

" and the young men from the Isle of Paba that are to dance the sword-dance, whom shall we find to match them, for the honour of the Main?”

“There is many a merry dancer on the mainland, Brenda,” replied Mordaunt, “even if I should never rise on tiptoe again. And where good dancers are found, Brenda Troil will always find the best partner, I must trip it tonight through the Wastes of Dunrossness.”

"Do not say so, Mordaunt," said Minna,who, during this conversation, had been looking from the window something anxiously; "go not today at least, through the Wastes of Dunrossness.”

“And why not to-day, Minna," said Mordaunt, laugbing, “any more than to-morrow ?

“0, the morning mist lies heavy upon yonder chain of isles, nor has it permitted us since daybreak even a single glimpse of Fitful-Head, the

lofty cape that concludes yon splendid range of mountains. The fowl are winging their way to the shore, and the shell-drake seems, through the mist, as large as the scarf. See, the very shear-waters and bonxies are making to the cliff for shelter."

“ And they will ride out a gale against a king's frigate,” said her father ; “ there is foul weather when they cut and run.”

“Stay, then, with us,” said Minna; “ the storm will be dreadful, yet it will be grand to see it from Burgh-Westra, if we have no friend exposed to its fury. See, the air is close and sultry, though the season is yet so early, and the day so calm, that not a windel-straw moves on the heath. Stay with us, Mordaunt; the storm which these signs announce will be a dreadful one.”

I must be gone the sooner," was the conclusion of Mordaunt, who could not deny the signs, which had not escaped his own quick observation. “ If the storm be too fierce, I will abide for the night at Stourburgh.”

“ What!” said Magnus; “will you leave us for the new chamberlain's new Scots tacksman, who is to teach all us Zetland savages new ways? Take your own gait, my lad, if that is the song you sing.”

Nay,” said Mordaunt; “I had only some curiosity to see the new implements he has brought.”

Ay, ay, ferlies make fools fain. I would like to know if his new plough will bear against a Zetland rock ?" answered Magnus.

“ I will pass Stourburgh on the journey,” said the youth, deferring to his patron's prejudice against innovation, “if this boding weather bring on tempest; but if it only break in rain, as is most probable, I am not likely to be melted in the wetting.”

“It will not soften into rain alone,” said Minna;

see how much heavier the clouds fall every moment, and see these weather-gaws that streak the lead-coloured mass with partial gleams of faded red and purple."

“ I see them all," said Mordaunt; “but they only tell me I have no time to tarry here. Adieu, Minna ; I will send you the eagle's feathers, if an eagle can be found on Fair-isle or Foulah. And fare thee well, my pretty Brenda, and keep a thought for me, should the Paba men dance ever so well."

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