THE LOST LADY OF LONE.
The bride of Lone.
“Eh, Meester McRath? Sae grand doings I hae na seen sin the day o’ the queen’s visit to Lone. That wad be in the auld duke’s time. And a waefu’ day it wa’.”
“Dinna ye gae back to that day, Girzie Ross. It gars my blood boil only to think o’ it!”
“Na, Sandy, mon, sure the ill that was dune that day is weel compensate on this. Sooth, if only marriages be made in heaven, as they say, sure this is one. The laird will get his ain again, and the bonnyest leddy in a’ the land to boot.”
“She is a bonny lass, but na too gude for him, although her fair hand does gie him back his lands.”
“It’s only a’ just as it sud be.”
“Na, it’s no all as it sud be. Look at they fules trying to pit up yon triumphal arch! The loons hae actually gotten the motto ‘happiness’ set upside down, sae that a’ the blooming red roses are falling out o’ it. An ill omen that if onything be an ill omen. I maun rin and set it right.”
The speakers in this short colloquy were Mrs. Girzie Ross, housekeeper, and Mr. Alexander McRath, house-steward of Castle Lone.
The locality was in the Highlands of Scotland. The season was early summer. The hour was near sunset. The scene was one of great beauty and sublimity. The occasion one of high festivity and rejoicing.
The preparations were being completed for a grand event. For on the morning of the next day a deep wrong was to be made right by the marriage of the young and beautiful Lady of Lone to the chosen lord of her heart.
Lone Castle was a home of almost ideal grandeur and loveliness, situated in one of the wildest and most picturesque regions of the Highlands, yet brought to the utmost perfection of fertility by skillful cultivation.
The castle was originally the stronghold of a race of powerful and warlike Scottish chieftains, ancestors of the illustrious ducal line of Scott-Hereward. It was strongly built, on a rocky island, that arose from The midst of a deep clear lake, surrounded by lofty mountains.
For generations past, the castle had been but a picturesque ruin, and the island a barren desert, tenanted only by some old retainer of the ancient family, who found shelter within its huge walls, and picked up a scanty living by showing the famous ruins to artists and tourists.
But some years previous to the commencement of our story, when Archibald-Alexander-John Scott succeeded his father, as seventh Duke of Hereward, he conceived the magnificent, but most extravagant idea of transforming that grim, old Highland fortress, perched upon its rocky island, surrounded by water and walled in by mountains—into a mansion of Paradise and a garden of Eden.
When he first spoke of his plan, he was called visionary and extravagant; and when he persisted in carrying it into execution, he was called mad.