Collingwood was to have a tenant at last. For twelve long years its massive walls of dark grey stone had frowned in gloomy silence upon the passers-by, the terror of the superstitious ones, who had peopled its halls with ghosts and goblins, saying even that the snowy-haired old man, its owner, had more than once been seen there, moving restlessly from room to room and muttering of the darkness which came upon him when he lost his fair young wife and her beautiful baby Charlie. The old man was not dead, but for years he had been a stranger to his former home.
In foreign lands he had wandered—up and down, up and down—from the snow-clad hills of Russia to where the blue skies of Italy bent softly over him and the sunny plains of France smiled on him a welcome. But the darkness he bewailed was there as elsewhere, and to his son he said, at last, “We will go to America, but not to Collingwood—not where Lucy used to live, and where the boy was born.”
So they came back again and made for themselves a home on the shore of the silvery lake so famed in song, where they hoped to rest from their weary journeyings. But it was not so decreed. Slowly as poison works within the blood, a fearful blight was stealing upon the noble, uncomplaining Richard, who had sacrificed his early manhood to his father’s fancies, and when at last the blow had fallen and crushed him in its might, he became as helpless as a little child, looking to others for the aid he had heretofore been accustomed to render. Then it was that the weak old man emerged for a time from beneath the cloud which had enveloped him so long, and winding his arms around his stricken boy, said, submissively, “What will poor Dick have me do?”
“Go to Collingwood, where I know every walk and winding path, and where the world will not seem so dreary, for I shall be at home.”
The father had not expected this, and his palsied hands shook nervously; but the terrible misfortune of his son had touched a chord of pity, and brought to his darkened mind a vague remembrance of the years in which the unselfish Richard had thought only of his comfort, and so he answered sadly, “We will go to Collingwood.”
One week more, and it was known in Shannondale, that crazy Captain Harrington and his son, the handsome Squire Richard, were coming again to the old homestead, which was first to be fitted up in a most princely style. All through the summer months the extensive improvements and repairs went on, awakening the liveliest interest in the villagers, who busied themselves with watching and reporting the progress of events at Collingwood. Fires were kindled on the marble hearths, and the flames went roaring up the broad-mouthed chimneys, frightening from their nests of many years the croaking swallows, and scaring away the bats, which had so long held holiday in the deserted rooms. Partitions