Then an impassioned scene was enacted, in which the seaman used every means of persuasion known to him to get the girl to give up his brother and plight herself to him. But though alternately distressed and terrified, Barbara had stood her ground, and, gentle and yielding though she appeared to be, neither threats nor vows had had the slightest effect upon her constancy. And then, of a sudden, the reckless brother had “seen red.” If he could not have this girl to wife, then neither should another, and a moment later her white form lay stretched upon the dark rocks at his feet.
The sight brought him to himself. There was no room for doubt that life was extinct; and if he was to escape suspicion, he must act at once, for the summer night was short and the dread interview had lasted long. He accordingly placed the body in the boat, and, having collected several heavy stones, proceeded to make use of his seacraft by binding them closely and firmly about the poor girl’s body by means of her clothing. Then he rowed out to sea, some mile or more, and there quietly dropped the body overboard. Such, in essentials, was the story told by the dying fisherman, and so it had come about that the bride of that fatal morning was never seen or heard of more. Though possibly intended to be regarded as confidential, certain it is that the confession had leaked out, and very soon became public property. For a few days it attracted great attention; and then, like other more important things which had preceded it, it ceased, save very occasionally, to be alluded to at all. But the Colonel never forgot it, any more than he ever forgot the lovely and inexplicable vision which had appeared to him for so brief an interval, in the moonlight, on the shore below Clyffe House. It is true that he seldom referred to it. Nor did that stately dame, who had once been Miss Alix and who was now believed to command the regiment, encourage him to do so. For she had observed that he was always most ready to tell the story after an exceptionally good dinner. And, with her high sense of what was due to his rank, she fancied that it made him mildly ridiculous. Neither, it might be, had her earliest doubts been ever wholly laid to rest. But members of the fair sex, when they are practical, are apt to be very practical indeed.
WANDERING WILLIE’S TALE
By SIR WALTER SCOTT