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“ Take care of yourself, since go you will,” said both sisters, together.
Old Magnus scolded them formally for supposing there was any danger to an active young fellow from a spring gale, whether by sea or land; yet ended by giving his own caution also to Mordaunt, advising him seriously to delay his journey, or at least to stop at Stourburgh, “ For,” said he,“ second thoughts are best; and as this Scotsman's howf lies right under your lee, why, take any port in a storm. But do not be assured to find the door on latch, let the storm blow ever so hard ; there are such matters as bolts and bars in Scotland, though, thanks to Saint Ronald, they are unknown here, save that great lock on the old Castle of Scalloway, that all men run to see -may be they make part of this man's improvements. But go, Mordaunt, since go you will. You should drink a stirrup-cup now, were you three years older, but boys should never drink, excepting after dinner; I will drink it for
I will drink it for you, that good customs may not be broken, or bad luck come of it. Here is your bonally, my lad.” And so saying, he quaffed a rummer glass of brandy with as much impunity as if it had been spring
water. Thus regretted and cautioned on all hands, Mordaunt took leave of the hospitable household, and looking back at the comforts with which it was surrounded, and the dense smoke that rolled upwards from its chimnies, he first recollected the guestless and solitary desolation of Jarlshof, then compared with the sullen and moody melancholy of his father's temper the warm kindness of those whom he was leaving, and could not refrain from a sigh at the thoughts which forced themselves on his imagination.
The signs of the tempest did not dishonour the predictions of Minna. Mordaunt had not advanced three hours upon his journey, before the wind, which had been so deadly still in the morning, began at first to wail and sigh, as if bemoaning beforehand the evils which it might perpetrate in its fury, like a madman in the gloomy state of dejection which precedes his fit of violence; then gradually increasing, the gale howled, raged, and roared, with the full fury of a northern storm. It was accompanied by showers of rain mixed with hail, which were dashed with the most unrelenting rage against the hills and rocks with which the traveller was surrounded, distracting his attention, in spite of his uttermost exertions, and rendering it very difficult for him to keep the direction of his journey in a country where is neither road, nor even the slightest track to direct the steps of the wanderer, and where he is often interrupted by large pools of water, lakes, and lagoons. All these inland waters were now lashed into sheets of tumbling foam, much of which, carried off by the fury of the whirlwind, was mingled with the gale, and transported far from the waves of which they had lately made a part; while the salt relish of the drift which was pelted against his face, shewed Mordaunt that the spray of the more distant ocean, disturbed to frenzy by the storm, was mingled with that of the inland lakes and streams.
Amidst this hideous combustion of the elements, Mordaunt Mertoun struggled forward as one to whom such elemental war was familiar, and who regarded the exertions which it required to withstand its fury, but as a mark of resolution and manhood. He felt even, as happens usually to those who endure great hardships, that the exertion necessary to subdue them, is in itself a kind of elevating triumph. To see and distinguish his path when the cattle were driven from the hill, and the very fowls from the firmament, was but the stronger proof of his own superiority
They shall not hear of me at Burgh-Westra," said he to himself,“ as they heard of old doited Ringan Ewenson's boat, that foundered betwixt road-stead and key. I am more of a crags-man than to mind fire or water, wave by sea, or quagmire by land.”. Thus he struggled on, buffeting with the storm, supplying the want of the. usual signs by which travellers directed their course, (for rock, mountain, and headland, were shrouded in mist and darkness,) by the instinctive sagacity with which long acquaintance with these wilds had taught him to mark every minute object which could serve in such circumstances to regulate his course. Thus, we repeat,he struggled onward, occasionally standing still, or even lying down, when the gust was most impetuous; making way against it when it was somewhat lulled, by a rapid and bold advance even in its very current; or, when this was impossible, by a movement resembling that of a vessel working to windward by short tacks, but never yielding one inch of the s
the way which he had fought so hard to gain.
Yet, notwithstanding Mordaunt's experience and resolution, his situation was sufficiently uncomfortable, and even precarious; not because his sailor's jacket and trowsers, the common dress of young men through these isles when on a journey, were thoroughly wet, for that might have taken place within the same brief time, in any ordinary day in this watery climate; but the real danger was, that notwithstanding his utmost exertions, he made very slow way through brooks that were sending their waters all abroad, through morasses drowned in double deluges of moisture, which rendered all the ordinary passes more than usually dangerous, and repeatedly obliged the traveller to perform a considerable circuit, which in the usual case was unnecessary. Thus repeatedly baffled, notwithstanding his youth and strength, Mordaunt, after maintaining a dogged conflict with wind, rain, and the fatigue of a prolonged journey, was truly happy, when, not without having been more than once mistaken in his road, he at length found himself within sight of the house of Stourburgh, or Harfra, for the names were indifferently given to the residence of Mr Triptolemus Yellowley, who was the chosen mis