Huntingtower HTML version

In Which A Princess Leaves A Dark Tower And A
Provision Merchant Returns To His Family
The three days of storm ended in the night, and with the wild weather there departed from
the Cruives something which had weighed on Dickson's spirits since he first saw the
place. Monday--only a week from the morning when he had conceived his plan of
holiday--saw the return of the sun and the bland airs of spring. Beyond the blue of the yet
restless waters rose dim mountains tipped with snow, like some Mediterranean seascape.
Nesting birds were busy on the Laver banks and in the Huntingtower thickets; the village
smoked peacefully to the clear skies; even the House looked cheerful if dishevelled. The
Garple Dean was a garden of swaying larches, linnets, and wild anemones. Assuredly,
thought Dickson, there had come a mighty change in the countryside, and he meditated a
future discourse to the Literary Society of the Guthrie Memorial Kirk on "Natural Beauty
in Relation to the Mind of Man."
It remains for the chronicler to gather up the loose ends of his tale. There was no
newspaper story with bold headlines of this the most recent assault on the shores of
Britain. Alexis Nicholaevitch, once a Prince of Muscovy and now Mr. Alexander
Nicholson of the rising firm of Sprot and Nicholson of Melbourne, had interest enough to
prevent it. For it was clear that if Saskia was to be saved from persecution, her enemies
must disappear without trace from the world, and no story be told of the wild venture
which was their undoing. The constabulary of Carrick and Scotland Yard were
indisposed to ask questions, under a hint from their superiors, the more so as no serious
damage had been done to the persons of His Majesty's lieges, and no lives had been lost
except by the violence of Nature. The Procurator-Fiscal investigated the case of the
drowned men, and reported that so many foreign sailors, names and origins unknown,
had perished in attempting to return to their ship at the Garplefoot. The Danish brig had
vanished into the mist of the northern seas. But one signal calamity the Procurator-Fiscal
had to record. The body of Loudon the factor was found on the Monday morning below
the cliffs, his neck broken by a fall. In the darkness and confusion he must have tried to
escape in that direction, and he had chosen an impracticable road or had slipped on the
edge. It was returned as "death by misadventure," and the CARRICK HERALD and the
AUCHENLOCHAN ADVERTISER excelled themselves in eulogy. Mr. Loudon, they
said, had been widely known in the south-west of Scotland as an able and trusted lawyer,
an assiduous public servant, and not least as a good sportsman. It was the last trait which
had led to his death, for, in his enthusiasm for wild nature, he had been studying bird life
on the cliffs of the Cruives during the storm, and had made that fatal slip which had
deprived the shire of a wise counsellor and the best of good fellows.
The tinklers of the Garplefoot took themselves off, and where they may now be pursuing
their devious courses is unknown to the chronicler. Dobson, too, disappeared, for he was
not among the dead from the boats. He knew the neighbourhood, and probably made his
way to some port from which he took passage to one or other of those foreign lands
which had formerly been honoured by his patronage. Nor did all the Russians perish.
Three were found skulking next morning in the woods, starving and ignorant of any
tongue but their own, and five more came ashore much battered but alive. Alexis took
charge of the eight survivors, and arranged to pay their passage to one of the British
Dominions and to give them a start in a new life. They were broken creatures, with the