But now all this was changed. The awfulness of the dark winter-time amidst those Northern seas overshadowed him. “It is like going into a grave,” he had said to her. And, with all his passionate longing to see her and have speech of her once more, how could he dare to ask her to approach these dismal solitudes? Sometimes he tried to picture her coming, and to read in imagination the look on her face. See now!—how she clings terrified to the side of the big open packet-boat that crosses the Frith of Lorn, and she dares not look abroad on the howling waste of waves. The mountains of Mull rise sad and cold and distant before her; there is no bright glint of sunshine to herald her approach. This small dog-cart, now: it is a frail thing with which to plunge into the wild valleys, for surely a gust of wind might whirl into the chasm of roaring waters below Glen-More: who that has ever seen Glen-More on a lowering January day will ever forget it—its silence, its loneliness, its vast and lifeless gloom? Her face is pale now; she sits speechless and awestricken; for the mountain-walls that overhang this sombre ravine seem ready to fall on her, and there is an awful darkness spreading along their summits under the heavy swathes of cloud. And then those black lakes far down in the lone hollows, more death-like and terrible than any tourist-haunted Loch Coruisk: would she not turn to him and, with trembling hands, implore him to take her back and away to the more familiar and bearable South? He began to see all these things with her eyes. He began to fear the awful things of the winter-time and the seas. The glad heart had gone out of him.
Even the beautiful aspects of the Highland winter had something about them—an isolation, a terrible silence—that he grew almost to dread. What was this strange thing, for example? Early in the morning he looked from the windows of his room, and he could have imagined he was not at Dare at all. All the familiar objects of sea and shore had disappeared; this was a new world—a world of fantastic shapes, all moving and unknown—a world of vague masses of gray, though here and there a gleam of lemon-color shining through the fog showed that the dawn was reflected on a glassy sea. Then he began to make out the things around him. That great range of purple mountains was Ulva—Ulva transfigured and become Alpine! Then those wan gleams of yellow light on the sea?—he went to the other window, and behold! the heavy bands of cloud that lay across the unseen peaks of Ben-an-Sloich had parted, and there was a blaze of clear, metallic, green sky; and the clouds bordering on that gleam of light were touched with a smoky and stormy saffron-hue that flashed and changed amidst the seething and twisting shapes of the fog and the mist. He turned to the sea again—what phantom-ship was this that appeared in mid-air, and apparently moving when there was no wind? He heard the sound of oars; the huge vessel turned out to be only the boat of the Gometra