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The Presbyterian of the South : [combining the] Southwestern Presbyterian, Central Presbyterian, Southern Presbyterian. [volume] (Atlanta, Ga.) 1909-1931, October 04, 1922, Image 4

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/10021978/1922-10-04/ed-1/seq-4/

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By James Anderson.
Hawthorn was in a "steer." Bill had been
missing for ten days. His sister, Margaret, was
distressed because of the hard words she flung
at him at their last meeting. Jeames Broon and
other friends did all they could think of to
trace him. Grace cut out her music lessons but
otherwise kept on the even tenor of her way,
though she always stayed at home.
Time passed, however, and notwithstanding
her determination to blot from her memory all
recollection of the l>elligcrent Bill, she could not
offer sufficient resistance to a power which
drew her into the prevailing atmosphere of
anxiety. She never mentioned his name; and
no one suspected that the meetings between her
and Bill had more than a musical character,
therefore she escaped embarrassing- looks and
questions. Yet, in spite of all, her thoughts
would revert to the happy nights when the two
would sit and play and sing together, before
any disturbing element cast its dark shadow
across their lives. As the days passed her rest
lessness increased and her fancy took strange
One afternoon Sarah, one of the village gos
sips, called and exhibited considerable curios
"My, Joan," started Sarah, "I ha'e aiften
heard o' folks disappearing but there was aye
a reason for it, but dae what I can I canna find
ony cause hoo Bill should ha'e gae'n awa."
"What's your explanation, Sarah?"
"Weel, ye ken I dinna like tae be preein'
intae a neighbor's business or tae tell a' I hear,
but I aye keep my ears an' my een open."
"Everybody kens ye'er a gude forager for
news, Sarah, an' that ye'er a gude ol>server.
Noo whaur dae ye think Bill gaed or what has
happened tae him?" asked Joan, in a rather fa
cetious vein.
"I'll tell ye what I think. Gin they drak the
mill pond they'll find the body." There was a
cry and a thump, and Joan hastening into the
kitchen found Grace lying on the floor insen
After Bill had surreptitiously stolen away
from Hawthorn without having any definite
objective, further than a desire to get away
and forget, he wandered to Glasgow, and on
his arrival was attracted by the shipping he
saw in the harbor. Having his savings and all
his earthly possessions with him, the sight of
a steamer about to sail for the States conjured
up within him visions of forgetfulness and
promise which acted upon him with powerful
magnetic influence and drew him on board.
There he met some others who were going to
the gold fields and he was persuaded to join
them in a prospecting tour of the Klondike.
Bill's fortune for eighteen months was va
riable, but that is common experience. At
times it smiled and at times it frowned upon
him. During all this time Grace Mills was
nothing but a dim shadow to him, there being
so much in his surroundings to obliterate
the little sentiment wrapped up in the part of
his life spent at Hawthorn, and which he now
viewed as foolishness.
"Behold thy sin will find thee out," is, per
haps, no truer than that love cannot be buried.
Like Truth, however deeply it be crushed, it
will rise to function again. Does this not ex
plain the reason why the finding of the nugget
by Bill should revive in a vivid manner mem
ories of Joan Mills' little sitting room? That
he should imagine that he heard the old piano
sounding in mournful tones? That his sleep
was disturbed by visions of Grace's face ber
eyes pleading with him as if she were in pain!
He tried to shake off the sensations; he moved
from place to place ; all in vain. They stayed
with him by day but especially in the silent
watches of the night.
The small fortune which he now possessed
proved no substitute for the subtle influence
actuating him so mightily. Backed by the call
of the homeland it was well nigh irresistible.
In this frame of mind he reached New York
by rail and the array of steamers he saw lining
the Hudson as he crossed in the ferry boat was
the last straw. He made his arrangements and
left the States with as much suddenness, as two
years ago, he had left Hawthorn.
After the resuscitation of Grace from her
fainting spell a terrible dread seized her heart.
Her brief infatuation for the "frolicsome"
Roger and her resentment against Bill were
instantly snuffed out by the thought that her
unkind treatment had driven him to something
The passing months found Grace learning
her lesson in the hard school of sorrow. She
seemed to appreciate for the first time the
depth of a true man's devotion, the blindness
of her soul having been removed. After a time
she resumed her religious activities, and fri
volity gave place to sobriety. Her suffering,
her intense anxiety for the absent one, was
preying upon her health, and it might have
fared ill with her had it not been that Bill's
sister relieved the severe tension by making
known the fact that she had had a letter from
Bill from America, although seven months had
passed since he left Hawthorn. Still no one
suspected the source of Grace's grief. She
locked her secret in the recesses of her heart.
Grace was not able to build up her constitu
tion, never very robust, and she contracted a
fever which puzzled the physicians to diagnose.
This was about two years after Bill left the vil
lage. Her mother's friend, Tibbie, was assid
uous in her attention to her, and one morning
when she appeared at the cottage door Joan
pulled her in. saying, "Come ben here, Tibbie.
Tak that chair. Sic a nicht we've had. Say,
Tibbie, boo lang is't since Bill gaed awat"
"Let '8 see," replied Tibbie, "it's twa year
a 'but a fortnieht. I hinna had a letter frae
him noo for three month. Hoo dae ye ask,
"Did Bill ever tell ye that him an' Grace
were gey thrang?"
"Never a word o' the kind did he utter.
Mercy me, wuman, what are ye drivin' at?" .
"I never suspeeked, aither, that my lassie
liked him till last nicht. I aye thocht that the
Cupar loon was after her, but he never can
tae the hoose aift.er the nicht Bill thrased him
sae gude, an' I was gey thankfu' for that."
"But, Joan, we were pray in' that the Lord
would interfere, an' he answered oor prayers
by sendin' Bill tae stop the danger, an' Bill
made a gudc job ft' it in his ain wy. But I
dinna understan' ye. "What daes yer question
"Weel, Tibbie, Graeie was oot o' her haid a'
last nicht wi' that fever, an' in her delirium
she upbraided Bill for lavin' her, syne she
would tak the blame on hersel', syne she
would plead wi' him tae come back again. Oh,
ye never heard the like o't. I believe, noo, that
she has been pinin' for Bill ever since he left.
Twice last, nicht when she was oot o' her haid
she prayed, in sic a pitifu' voice, that the Lord
would send him back tae her. Oh, waes me,
Tibbie, gin my lassie has tae lave me," and
Joan, worn out with watching, cried nervously
on Tibbie's shoulder for a long time.
"Hush, Joan, dear," and Tibbie fondled her
like a child. "Near twa year syne Gracie
threw awa the adornments and ither weichts
that was hindcrin' her, an' aye since she has
been rinnin' the Christian race. I've often
thocht aboot the cracks you an' me had aboot
her, an' when I saw the cheenge in her life, the
tears o' joy would rin doon my cheeks, as I
tliankit the Lord."
"Ay, an' since last nicht I ken noo that the
Lord took awa Bill sae that she would be
brocht closcr tae Him," said the grief-stricken
"The Lord has queer wys o 'workin', but,
although yer lassie is ane o' Iiis jewels, I canna
think that He means tae transplant her yet tae
Ilis ain croon ? she's ower muckle use doon
here. So cheer up, Joan. I think she'll get
weel," and they both moved into the sick
With the sensations which only weary trav
elers in foreign lands can have when they plant
their feet once more on the homeland, Bill
Dawson arrived in Scotland. He loitered not
by the wayside, so the night of the day of his
arrival found him in the vicinity of Hawthorn,
without having been preceded by a courier of
any kind. His train from Glasgow came via
Logie, distant ten miles from Hawthorn, but
that was nothing to him. He could cover the
distance in less than two hours.
Various are the freaks of memory when the
traveler, after a long absence, revisits the
scenes of his childhood. On the road Bill heard
the familiar call of the pewit, and remembered
the time, when, a child, he one night passed the
grave-vard after dark, and the djsmal wail of
the bird took the sound of the whistle of a ghost
and he ran all the way home in great alarm,
and even after going to bed he covered up his
head. He conjured up visions of the famous
swimming pool and the old mill pond, which
had the finest ice for sliding on in the world.
Again he was sitting at his favorite fishing-hole
watching and waiting for the glorious nible,
and building his castles in the air deep in the
waters of the river. Then he passed some of
the fruit trees which grow along the side of the
road, where he had spent many an hour perched
in one of the forks, and eating the luscious ? no.
rather the half-ripe fruit.
When he reached the Green it was bright
moonlight, and at the corner, where the Ban
nochburn passes out, there was a large beech
tree, in the bark of which he could plainly see
his initials, cut by him many years ago. He
remembered the knife he had used. He remem
bered trading a "peeries" and six "bools" for
it. It had two blades ? no. rather one and a
half, for one was broken. He had a strong
desire to wash his hands in the burn, which
he had done hundreds of times just as the
school bell rang, which desire he there and then
gratified. He crossed the Green and walked to
the school house, and, looking in at a window,
fancied himself a pupil again.
Proceeding up the main street of the village
lie recalled the quarrel he had had with his
cousin, and hoped he had been mistaken in his
judgment of George. It was very late, but the
longing to see Mrs. Mills' little cottage was
irresistible, although the inmates would have
retired and the house be dark. A few more
steps and he was in front of it. It was not in
darkness as he had supposed there being lights
in two windows. Ignorant of the tragedy then
being enacted within, the fight between a flick
ering life, and the last Enemy, who is always,
sooner or later, conqueror, Bill gazed at the

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