Lancashire Idylls (1898) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 169 pages of information about Lancashire Idylls (1898).

But Moses heard that voice in his heart.

III.

AMANDA STOTT.

1.  HOME. 2.  LIGHT AT EVENTIDE. 3.  THE COURT OF SOULS. 4.  THE OLD PASTOR.

I.

HOME.

She saw from afar the light of her cottage home, and her heart misgave her.  It was not wrath she feared; for had the relentless anger of a parent awaited her, her step would have been braver, and her spirit more defiant.  But she knew she was forgiven.  The feeble ray emitted from the lamp in the far-off gable was the beacon of her forgiveness—­the proof that love’s fire still burned brightly.  This it was that daunted her:  she feared the scorch of its healing flame.

She had travelled far, having crossed the moors from Burnt Gap, climbing the ridge as the heavens began to kiss the earth with the peace of sunset.  A lingering glory was then haunting the summits and crests and cairn-crowned hills that shut in the quiet of Rehoboth and forming an almost impassable rampart to those who, from the farther side, sought its shelter ere the close of day.  As she then lifted her eyes to these many-coloured fires lighted by His hand who setteth His glory in the heavens, they had seemed to burn in wrath; while the great moors, dark in the foreground, raised themselves like barriers—­uplands of desolation, across which no path of hope stretched its trend for returning feet.

As the girl climbed the Scar Foot the western sky was toning down to grays, while beyond, and seen through an oval-shaped rift in their sombre colours, lay a distant streak of amber that, moment by moment, slowly disappeared under the closing lids of evening cloud—­the eye of weary day wooed to slumber by the hush of illimitable sweeps of moor.  Even so would Amanda fain have closed her eyes and sunk to rest amid the purple clouds of heather that, like a great sky, lay for miles around her feet.

Passing through Nockcliffe plantation, a half-mile of woodland that straggled along the steep sides of a clough, a drop of rain fell between the branches and coursed down her cheek—­a cheek fevered from want of tears, and flaming with a sense of shame.  Then a low wind blew—­a mere sob, but so preludious, so prophetic!—­followed by a silence that discovered, as never before, the sense of her own loneliness, and in which she heard the tread of her own light footfall over the moss and herbage of the path she travelled.

Emerging from the plantation, an angry gust, laden with cold drops, dashed itself in her face, and she knew from the weather-lore which she, as a child of the hills, had learned in past years, that a wild night was between her and the house whose shelter she sought in her despair.

Phenomenally rapid was the onrush of the storm.  At first the rain fell in short and sudden showers, driven from angry clouds eager for some atmospheric change whereby to be relieved of their pent-up burden.  Then the wind, as though in answer to the prayer of the clouds, changed its course and stilled its moaning, and the sky ‘wept its watery vapours to the ground.’

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Lancashire Idylls (1898) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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