"St. Agnes' Eve—ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limped trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold."
The great round-backed, solemn Border hills, in summer time kindly sleeping giants, smiling in their sleep, take on another guise when winter smites with pitiless blast, when
"The sounds that drive wild deer and fox
To shelter in the brake and rocks,"
bellow fearsomely among the crags, and down glen and burn rushes the White Death, bewildering, blinding, choking, and at the last, perhaps, with Judas kiss folding in its icy arms some luckless shepherd whom duty has sent from his warm fireside to the rescue of his master's sheep. You would not know for the same those hills that so little time gone past nursed you in their soft embrace. Then, in the warm, sunny days, shadows of great fleecy clouds chased each other leisurely up the braes through the bracken and the purpling heather; the burn sang to itself a merry tune as it tumbled from boulder to boulder, rippling through pools where the yellow trout lay basking; on the clear air came the call of grouse, and afar off a solitary raven croaked in the stillness of a sun-steeped glen. Now the bracken is dead, the bent sodden and chill with November's sleet; against a background of heavy, leaden-grey sky the heather lies black as if washed in ink. Across from the wild North Sea comes a wind thin and nipping, waxing in strength, and with the gathering storm piping ever more shrilly down the glen, driving before it now a fine, powdery white dust that chokes nostril and mouth, and blinds the eyes of those whom necessity compels to be out-doors. It is "an oncome," a "feeding storm." Thus have begun many of the great snowstorms that from time to time have devastated the Border and taken heavy toll of man and beast.
In March 1615 snow fell to such a depth, and drifted so terribly, that not only did many men perish, but likewise "most part of all the horse, nolt, and sheep of the kingdom." In the years 1633 and 1665 there were great storms, when vast numbers of sheep perished, and "the frost was severe enough to kill broom and whins." But greater than these, both in devastating effect and in duration, was the memorable storm of 1674. The early part of that year was marked by extraordinarily tempestuous weather. In January came a violent gale from east and by north that strewed the coasts with wreckage. Down by Berwick and Eyemouth, by St. Abb's, and along all that rugged shore, the cruel sea sported daily with bodies of drowned sailors, flinging them from wave to wave, tossing them headlong on to a stony beach, only with greedy far-stretched grasp to snatch them back again to its hungry maw. In every rocky fissure, where angry waves spout cliff-high and burst in clouds of spray; in every rugged inlet, where the far-flung roaring seas boil furiously, timbers and deck-hamper of vessels driven on a lee-shore churned ceaselessly, pounding themselves to matchwood.
Throughout January, and till February was far advanced, this bitter easterly gale blew fiercely. In mid-February the wind died down, leaving a sky black with piled-up cloud gravid with coming evil. Inland, hill and river lay frost-bound, white with snow, and already the pinch of winter had begun to make itself seriously felt amongst the sheep. In those days, beyond driving the flocks, when necessary, from the hill to more sheltered, low-lying country, but little provision was ever made for severe weather, and even the precaution of shifting the sheep to lower ground was frequently too long delayed. Turnips, of course, had not yet come into cultivation in Scotland, and feed-stuffs were generally unknown.
This time farmers were caught napping. On 20th February a rising wind drove before it snow, fine powdered and dry as March dust, and with the waxing gale, and cold "intense to a degree never before remembered," the drift quickly became a swirling blizzard which no living thing could face. Day and night for thirteen days this maelstrom of snow continued, and till the 29th of March no decided improvement took place in the weather; the snow lay deep, and the frost held, so that there was "much loss of sheep by the snow, and of whole families in the moor and high lands; much loss of cows everywhere, also of wild beasts, as of doe and roe."
"The Thirteen Drifty Days," folk called this storm, and by that name it has gone down to history. "About the fifth and sixth days of the storm," says the Ettrick Shepherd, writing in Blackwood's Magazine of July 1819, "the young sheep began to fall into a sleepy and torpid state, and all that were affected in the evening died over-night. The intensity of the frost wind often cut them off when in that state quite instantaneously. About the ninth and tenth days, the shepherds began to build up huge semicircular walls of their dead, in order to afford some shelter for the remainder of the living; but they availed but little, for about the same time they were frequently seen tearing at one another's wool with their teeth. When the storm abated on the fourteenth day from its commencement, there was, on many a high-lying farm, not a living sheep to be seen. Large misshapen walls of dead, surrounding a small prostrate flock, likewise all dead, and frozen stiff in their lairs, was all that remained to cheer the forlorn shepherd and his master."
As a matter of fact, something like nine-tenths of all the sheep in the south of Scotland perished in this one storm, or if they did not then actually perish, their vitality was so lowered, their constitutions so wrecked, by the intense cold and the long deprivation of food, that they never again picked up condition, but died like flies when the spring was further advanced. Hogg says that in Eskdalemuir, out of 20,000 sheep "none were left alive but forty young wedders on one farm, and five old ewes on another. The farm of Phaup remained without a stock and without a tenant for twenty years subsequent to the storm." On another farm all the sheep perished save one black-faced ewe; and she was not long left to perpetuate her breed, for dogs hunted her into a loch, and she too went the way of her fellows.
Amongst other great storms, Hogg also mentions one in this same century, long remembered as the "Blast o' March." It occurred on a Monday, the twenty-fourth day of March, and was of singularly short duration, considering the havoc it wrought. The previous Sunday was so warm that lassies returning from Yarrow Kirk in the evening took off shoes and stockings and walked barefoot; the young men cast plaids and coats. To their unconcealed astonishment, as they sauntered homeward these young people found that an old shepherd, named Walter Blake, had driven his entire flock of sheep into a sheltered position by the side of a wood, near the road. Now, Blake was a deeply religious man, one to whom the Sabbath was in the strictest sense a holy day, a day too sacred to be broken in any fashion whatever, except for some extraordinarily powerful reason. On being asked how it came to pass that he was found thus following his worldly vocation, to the neglect of church-going, he said that in the morning he had seen to the northward so ill-looking a "weather-gaw" that he was convinced a heavy storm was coming, and that probably before morning there would be a dangerous drift. The young men laughed the old one to scorn. A snowstorm! The auld man was daft! Why, the air was like June; no sensible body would even so much as dream of snow.
"Belike we'll be up to oor oxters in snaw, the morn, Wattie," chirrupped one damsel, in the bicker of rustic wit and empty laughter that flew around.
"Weel, weel, lads! Time will show. Let them laugh that win," said old Wattie.
That night there came a sudden shift of wind, and ere morning the country-side was smothered in snow. Twenty thousand sheep perished, and none but old Walter Blake came out of that storm free from loss.
The years 1709, 1740, and 1772 were all notable for unusually heavy falls of snow. In the latter year the country was snow-clad from mid-December till well on in April, and the loss of sheep was very great, chiefly because partial thaws, occurring at intervals, encouraged hill farmers to believe each time that the back of the winter was broken. Hence, they delayed too long in shifting their sheep to lower lands, and when the imperative necessity of removal at length became obvious, if life were to be saved, it was too late; from sheer weakness the poor animals were unable to travel.
Then came that terrible storm of 1794, a calamity that old men of our own day may yet remember to have heard talked about by eye-witnesses of the scenes they described. Nothing in nature ever wrought such havoc in the Border. Seventeen shepherds perished in the endeavour to rescue their flocks; no less than thirty others, overwhelmed by the intense cold, the fury of the gale, and the blinding, choking whirlwind of snow, dropped and lay unconscious, to all intents dead, sleeping the dreamless sleep of those whom King Frost slays with his icy darts. And dead would those thirty assuredly have been, but for the timely aid of brave men, themselves toil-worn to the verge of collapse, who, through the deep drifts and the swirling snow, bore home the heavy, unconscious bodies, to revive them with difficulty.
The storm began on the 24th of January, and though the snow lay but a week, whole flocks were overwhelmed, in some instances buried fifty feet deep. Countless numbers of sheep, driven into burns and lochs by the pitiless strength of the wind, were never again seen, swept away into the sea by the tremendous floods that followed the melting of the snow. There is on Solway Sands a place called the Beds of Esk, where with terrible persistency the tides cast up whatever may have been carried to sea by the rivers which in this neighbourhood empty themselves into the Firth. Ghastly was the burden here strewn when the floods now went down. In those Beds lay the lifeless bodies of two men and of one woman; the swollen carcasses of five-and-forty dogs, eighteen hundred and forty sheep, nine black cattle, three horses, one hundred and eighty hares; and of rabbits and small animals a multitude innumerable. Death held high carnival in Eskdalemuir that January of 1794.
Hogg gives a vivid picture of his own adventures in this storm. He had gone from home the previous day, tramping over the Ettrick hills many a long mile to attend some friendly meeting of fellow-shepherds, leaving his sheep in charge of his master. Arrived at his destination, and rendered uneasy by the unwonted appearance of the sky, without waiting for rest or for anything but a little food and drink, he turned and set out straightway on his homeward journey. A tramp of thirty or forty miles over the hills is ordinarily no great matter for a young and active shepherd. But now snow was falling; already it lay to some depth, making the footing toilsome and insecure. Moreover, a curious yellow mist had spread over the hills, shrouding the hollows from sight; darkness must be on him hours before he could hope to reach home, and the night promised to be wild. But what would daunt an ordinary pedestrian has no terrors for the Border shepherd, and Hogg safely reached his home before bedtime, to learn, greatly to his dismay, that his master, good easy man, had left the sheep that evening on an exposed part of the hill. Not even the master's "Never mind them the nicht, Jamie; they're safe eneuch, and I'll gie ye a hand in the morning," could calm his anxiety. However, on looking out before going to bed, he was comforted to find the wind coming from the south, and apparently a thaw beginning. He might sleep in peace after all; things were going to turn out less bad than he had feared.
Tired as he was, however, try as he might, sleep would not come that night; an unaccountable feeling of restlessness and of vague apprehension had him in its grip. Hour after hour he lay, listening irritably to the snoring of his fellow-shepherd, Borthwick, starting nervously at every scraping of rat or creak of timber. At last, long after midnight, he rose and looked out. The wind had fallen, but snow still fell; there was nothing abnormal in the night, and the weather might have been described as merely "seasonable." But away in the northern sky, low down, appeared a strange break in the mist, such as in all his experience he had never before seen. And it came to his mind that the previous day, when on his homeward way he had "looked in" at his uncle's house, the old man had predicted the coming of a violent storm, which would surely spring from that quarter in which should first be seen a phenomenon such as that on which Hogg was now looking. The shepherd returned to bed, and had almost succeeded in falling into a doze, when again some impulse caused him to sit up and listen. From far in the distant hills came quivering a strange low moaning that brought with it something of awe and suspense. Nearer it drove, and nearer, rising at length to a fierce bellow; and then, with appalling roar, as of thunder, the gale hurled itself on to the building, shaking it to the foundations. In the pitch blackness of the night Hogg groped his way to an opening in the byre over which he and Borthwick slept, and thrust out a hand and arm. "So completely was the air overloaded with falling and driving snow that, but for the force of the wind, I felt as if I had thrust my arm into a wreath of snow," he writes.
Presently he roused Borthwick, who had slept soundly through the hubbub, and at once his fellow-shepherd dressed and tried to make his way from the byre to the kitchen, a distance of no more than fourteen yards. But even in the little time which had elapsed since the breaking of the storm the space between kitchen and byre had drifted up with snow as high as the house walls, and Borthwick straightway lost himself; neither could he find his way to the house, nor succeed in regaining the byre. Eventually both men with no small toil made their way to the kitchen, where they found master and maids already assembled, and in a state of no little alarm.
Their first concern was manifestly the safety of the sheep. But at such an hour, in such a night, what could be done? Nevertheless, two hours before daylight shepherds and master started for the hill, taking first the precaution to sew their plaids round them, and to tie on their bonnets. For the thrilling details of the dangerous undertaking one must refer to Hogg's own account, but it may here be noted that no sooner was the kitchen door closed on the men than they lost each other, and lost also all sense of direction; it was only by the sound of their voices that the little party succeeded in keeping in each other's neighbourhood. And such was the fury of the wind and the confusion of the drift that frequently, in order to draw breath, they were compelled to bend till their faces were between their knees. The farmhouse stood within what in Scotland is called a "park," in this instance a small enclosure, the wall of which might be at most three hundred yards distant from the house door. It was two hours before daylight when they entered this park; when morning broke, they had not yet succeeded in making their way out of it.
Hogg's own story must be read, to learn how, and at what dire peril to the searchers, Borthwick's flock was at length found. They were huddled together, and buried deep in a snow wreath so compact that when the outside sheep had been extricated, most of the remainder were able of themselves to walk out, leaving where they had stood a sort of vast cave. Hogg himself, when the bulk of Borthwick's sheep had been at length saved, started alone to rescue his own flock. With comparatively little trouble he found them, got them by slow degrees to a place of safety, and then turned to make his way home. Of the course to steer, it never occurred to him to doubt; he had known the hills from infancy, and could have walked blindfold across them. His instinct for locality was as the instinct of some wild animal, or of an Australian black-fellow. But what put some dread in his mind was the knowledge that between him and home lay the Douglas Burn, possibly by now in spate, and dangerous to cross. The noise of the wind would prevent him from hearing the roar of the swollen torrent, the driving snow prevent him from seeing the danger, and a false step on the bank might deposit him where he would never come out alive. To a man alone on the hill in such weather, the task was arduous, the danger great; moreover, in the last thirty-six hours he had walked far, had undergone great toil, and he had been without sleep all night. The prospect was no pleasing one. But he struggled on through the blinding, wind-driven snow, heading, as he confidently believed, straight for home. Yet doubt presently began to fill his mind. He should long ago have reached the Douglas Burn, but not a sign even suggestive of such a thing as a watercourse had he yet seen. Presently he roused with a start, for now he stood amongst trees, stretching apparently in endless succession to an infinite distance. After all, it seemed that he had missed his way. Where he was he could not tell; and it needed some minutes of anxious groping ere he could clear his mind and make certain of his position. He stood not much more than fifty yards from the farm-house door, by the side of a little clump of trees, which in that blurred light and in the confusion of the drifting snow took on the semblance of some vast forest. Without being aware of it, Hogg had crossed the gully of the Douglas Burn on a bridge formed by the deep snow, and crossed over the park wall in similar fashion.
Many have been the terrible winters since those of which Hogg wrote, many the lives lost, and more, perhaps, the narrow escapes from what seemed certain death. In 1803 the frozen, deep-buried body of a man was found near Ashestiel, within what—but for the raging storm the previous night—must have been easy hail of his own cottage, where, sick with anxiety, his wife and little ones sat waiting his return from the hill. In that same storm a young shepherd, within sight of his own father, fell over a precipice near Birkhill, and, with spine hopelessly injured, lay helpless amongst the snow-covered boulders in a place inaccessible to the distracted father. A party succeeded in rescuing him, but rescue availed him little; he lay afterwards at home for several weeks unable to stir hand or foot, and in great pain, till death mercifully released him.
In 1825 came an on-fall so sudden and violent that scores of people who happened to be on journeys were compelled to remain for weeks wherever they had chanced to be when the storm broke. There was no possibility of getting away; except those in the immediate vicinity of large towns, all roads were completely blocked, and communication was absolutely cut off. The mails had ceased to run, and of course in those days the electric telegraph was unknown. Thus, many a man, the father of a family, was parted indefinitely from wife and children without possibility of allaying their anxiety for his welfare; many a commercial traveller passed week after week in some roadside inn, waiting vainly for the long-delayed thaw to enable him to communicate with his employer. And had country people in those days depended for their supplies on tradesmen's carts, as is the custom now, many a family must have found itself in the direst straits ere the storm was half over.
Then a few years later came that memorable storm of 1831, of which men in Tweedsmuir still speak almost as if it were an event of yesterday. It was in the days of the old mail coaches, and the event which served to fix this storm indelibly in the public mind occurred on or near the old coach road from Dumfries to Edinburgh. The road runs past Moffat and up something like five miles of very heavy gradient to the Devil's Beef Tub, ascending in that distance nearly nine hundred feet; from the Tub it crosses the lonely, desolate watershed which divides Tweed from Annan, then by easy slope drops past Tweedshaws and Badlieu, and so by Tweedsmuir and the old Crook Inn—with Broad Law upheaving his massive shoulder on the right—slips gradually into country less unkind in days of storm than are those bleak upper regions.
Snow had been falling all day on the 1st of February 1831, and the morning mail from Dumfries to Edinburgh was already late in reaching Moffat. Would "she" go on, would "she" risk the terrible drifts that even now must have formed nearer the bleak moorland summit? And the little knot of faithful admirers who, according to custom, daily assembled by one's and two's about the inn door at Moffat to wait the coming of the coach—their one excitement—agreed that "MacGeorge would gang on if the de'il himsel' stude across the road." MacGeorge was guard of the mail-coach, a fine, determined man, an old soldier, one imbued with abnormally strong sense of duty. Once before, for some quite unavoidable delay, the Post-Office authorities had "quarrelled" him (as he expressed it), and this undeserved blame rankled in the old soldier's heart. It should not be said of him a second time that he had failed to get his mails through on time. So it came to pass that, in spite of rising gale and fiercer driving snow, in spite of earnest remonstrance from innkeepers and spectators, with "toot-toot" of horn away into the white smother, spectral-like, glided the silent coach. A mile from the inn she was blocked by a huge drift. That safely won through, a couple of miles farther she plodded on, slowly and ever more slow; and finally, in a mighty wreath, stuck fast; "all the King's horses" might not have brought her through that. MacGeorge was urged to turn now, to make the best of a bad business and to go back to Moffat. The delay was unavoidable; no one could cast blame on him, for the worst part of the road was yet to come, and no power on earth could get the mails through that. But no! It was his duty to go on, and go he would.
The horses were taken out of the coach. Some were sent back to Moffat in charge of the lads who rode the extra tracers used in snowy weather for the few miles of heavy collar-work out of Moffat; of the rest, loaded with the mail-bags, MacGeorge led one, Goodfellow, the coachman, another; and the two set off for Tweedshaws, accompanied by a man named Marchbanks, the Moffat roadman, who had been a passenger on the coach. It was but four miles to Tweedshaws, yet before they had struggled through half the distance the horses had come to a standstill, utterly blown and exhausted; nothing could get them to stir forward, or longer to face the drift. Marchbanks suggested that now at length they might reasonably turn and fight their way back. Goodfellow hesitated.
"What say ye, Jamie?" he asked of MacGeorge.
"Come ye or bide ye, I go on," answered the stern old soldier. "I can carry the bags mysel'."
"Then that settles the maitter. If ye gang, I gang."
So the horses were turned adrift to find their own way home, and the two men went off into the mirk, carrying the bags; whilst Marchbanks, on their urgent advice, turned to force his arduous way back to Moffat.
Snow still fell in the morning, but the worst of the storm seemed over when Marchbanks again started to try for Tweedshaws to ascertain if MacGeorge and Goodfellow had won their way through. The country was one vast drift; the snow-posts by the roadside, where not altogether buried or so plastered with the driving snow on their weather side as to be invisible, pushed their black heads through the universal ghostly shroud; where the road had been, the abandoned coach itself loomed, a shapeless white mound. On and on Marchbanks toiled, and, far past the spot where last night he had parted from his comrades, something unusual hanging to a snow post caught his eye. It was the mail-bags, securely tied there by hands which too evidently had been bleeding from the cold; but of guard or coachman there was never a sign. The meagre winter day was already drawing to a close; with the gathering darkness a rising wind drove the snow once more before it, and the clouds to windward piled black and ominous. By himself Marchbanks was powerless to help, if help were indeed yet possible; he could but return to Moffat and give the alarm.
That night men with lanterns and snow-poles fought their way to Tweedshaws, only to learn there what all had feared—neither guard nor coachman had come through. Therefore, if by remote chance they still lived, the men must lie buried in the snow, perhaps within very few yards of the high-road. For two days scores of men searched every likely spot, but never a clue they found, except Goodfellow's hat, which lay in a peat-hag at no great distance from the post where the mail-bags had been hung.
Then—some said it was a dream that guided them—some one thought of an old, disused road along which there was possibility the lost men might have made their way. There, from a drift protruded something black—a boot; and on his back, deep buried, lay Goodfellow. Near at hand they found MacGeorge, in an easy attitude, as if quietly sleeping, on his face a smile—"a kind o' a pleasure," the finders called it—such a smile, perhaps, as the face of the "good and faithful servant" may wear when he entereth into the joy of his Lord.
Many have been the snowy years since that in which MacGeorge threw away life for duty's sake. Besides winters, such as that hard "Crimean" one of 1854-5, there have been, for example, the terrible season of 1860-1, the bitter winter of 1878-9, when snow lay, practically unbroken, from November till March, and the frost was unrelenting in severity; and there have been others, too numerous to specify. Many a man has perished on the hill, before and since, but no tragedy ever seized the popular imagination so firmly as did that on the Moffat road in 1831. It is a district lonely enough even in summer time, that joint watershed of Tweed, Annan, and Clyde, but when winter gales sweep over those lofty moorlands, and snow drives down before the bitter blast, let no man unused to the hill attempt that road. It was but the other year that a lonely shepherd's wife near Tweedshaws, one stormy evening when snow drove wildly across the moor, thought that she heard the cry of a human voice come down the gale. Again and again, as she sat by her cosy fire of glowing peat she imagined that some one called for help. Again and again she rose, and opening the door, listened, but never, when she stood by the open door waiting for the call to come again, was anything to be heard but the noise of the storm and the rush of the wind, anything to be seen but the driving snow. Long she listened, but the cry came no more, and naturally she concluded that imagination had fooled her. In the morning, not very many yards away from the door, half-covered by its snowy winding-sheet, lay the stiff-frozen body of a young man. There had been the breakdown of some vehicle down the road the previous evening, and he had thought to make his way to Moffat on foot.
Of what do men think when they are lost in the snow? Of nothing, probably, one may conclude; very likely, before it has dawned upon them that there is danger, the mind, like the body, has become numbed with the cold, and they probably only think of rest and sleep. To some spot sheltered from the blast they may perhaps have stumbled, and they pause to take breath. After the turmoil through which they have been struggling, this sheltered spot seems a quiet little back-water, out of the raging torrent, peaceful, even warm, by comparison. A little rest—even, it may be, a few minutes' sleep—will revive them, and afterwards they will push on, refreshed. All will be well; it is not far to safety. And the snow falls quietly, ceaselessly, softly lapping them in its gentle folds, and the roar of the wind comes now from very far away—their last lullaby, heard vaguely through "death's twilight dim." The desire to sleep, men say, is irresistible, and once yielded to, sleep's twin brother, death, is very near at hand. There was found many years ago in the Border hills the body of a man, who had taken off his plaid, folded it carefully to make a pillow, on it had rested his head, and so had passed to his long rest, contented enough, if one might judge from the smile on his face.
But men do not always thus loose consciousness when buried in the snow. There was the case of Mr. Alexander Laidlaw of Bowerhope, on St. Mary's Loch, in the year 1842. One wild day of storm and deep-lying snow he started out to see after the safety of his sheep. Hours had passed, darkness had fallen, and he did not come home. Then a shepherd remembered having seen him crossing a certain hill where snow lay extra deep. To this hill in the morning the searchers betook themselves, to find that a great avalanche had taken place, leaving the hill bare but for the night's coating of snow. At the hill-foot the old snow was piled in giant masses. Here a dog sniffed, and whimpered, and began to scrape. They found Laidlaw buried there in tons of snow, uninjured save in one arm, and after fourteen hours burial in his snowy sepulchre he was still partly conscious. When the tumbling snow mass overwhelmed him he had had presence of mind and strength to clear from before his face breathing space sufficient to preserve life. Laidlaw lived for many years after, in no permanent respect a sufferer from his burial and resurrection.
His was an experience of no common order, yet it was a case less strange than that of a sportsman, many years ago, who, unused to the hills, was lost amongst the snow one evening of sudden storm. Far and long he wandered, till, utterly exhausted, dropping from fatigue and cold, he chanced on a roof-less cottage, the crumbling walls of which promised some shelter from the wind and the terrible drifting snow. By the empty chimney-place he sat down, thankful that at least the bitter gale no longer buffeted him. But the snow fell thick and fast, eddying into every corner, gently covering his feet and stealing up over his body. A drowsy languor crept over his senses, an irresistible feeling of warmth and comfort came to him; his head fell forward. Again and again, knowing the deadly peril, he roused himself with ever-increasing effort; again and again his head sank. Then suddenly it seemed that all was well. How could he have fancied that he was out amongst the snow? The sound of the gale still thundered in his ears, but dully, muffled by thick walls, and he stood in a bedroom wherein burned a cheerful fire. On the bed lay a man, who presently, with a start, sat up, looked at him, and lay down again. Three times this happened, but the fourth time the man in bed got up and hurriedly began to dress. He was a man unknown to the dreamer—if dreaming he was—but his features were strongly marked, and bore a scar on the cheek, unmistakable to anyone who had once seen it. Then, suddenly, except for himself, the room was empty, and, as the dreamer in his dream strove to reach the fire, to thrust cold hands close to the pleasant glow, room and fire faded, and he knew no more till a bright light shone in his dazed eyes, and by his side, a hand on his shoulder, vigorously shaking him, knelt the man whom he had seen in his dreams. "I knew you were coming," drowsily murmured the awakened sleeper, glancing feebly at his rescuer, and immediately dropping off to sleep again.
When next he came to full consciousness, it was in a warm bed in a comfortable room, where every evidence of luxury met his eyes. In an armchair by the fire, with outstretched feet, sat his rescuer, his face turned towards the bed. And presently:
"Why did you say last night that you knew I was coming?" he asked.
And when the dreamer had told his dream:
"It is strange," said the other, "that last night I should have been forced, as it were, to get up and go to the old cottage by the wood. Over and over again I woke, plagued by an unaccountable impulse to visit those ruined walls. Struggle as I might against it, argue with myself as I would on its folly, it always returned; and at last, about midnight, it conquered me, and I arose and went."