**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


What The Shepherd Saw: A Tale Of Four Moonlight Nights
by [?]

It might have been about eleven o’clock when he awoke. He was so surprised at awaking without, apparently, being called or struck, that on second thoughts he assumed that somebody must have called him in spite of appearances, and looked out of the hut window towards the sheep. They all lay as quiet as when he had visited them, very little bleating being audible, and no human soul disturbing the scene. He next looked from the opposite window, and here the case was different. The frost-facets glistened under the moon as before; an occasional furze bush showed as a dark spot on the same; and in the foreground stood the ghostly form of the trilithon. But in front of the trilithon stood a man.

That he was not the shepherd or any one of the farm labourers was apparent in a moment’s observation,–his dress being a dark suit, and his figure of slender build and graceful carriage. He walked backwards and forwards in front of the trilithon.

The shepherd lad had hardly done speculating on the strangeness of the unknown’s presence here at such an hour, when he saw a second figure crossing the open sward towards the locality of the trilithon and furze- clump that screened the hut. This second personage was a woman; and immediately on sight of her the male stranger hastened forward, meeting her just in front of the hut window. Before she seemed to be aware of his intention he clasped her in his arms.

The lady released herself and drew back with some dignity.

‘You have come, Harriet–bless you for it!’ he exclaimed, fervently.

‘But not for this,’ she answered, in offended accents. And then, more good-naturedly, ‘I have come, Fred, because you entreated me so! What can have been the object of your writing such a letter? I feared I might be doing you grievous ill by staying away. How did you come here?’

‘I walked all the way from my father’s.’

‘Well, what is it? How have you lived since we last met?’

‘But roughly; you might have known that without asking. I have seen many lands and many faces since I last walked these downs, but I have only thought of you.’

‘Is it only to tell me this that you have summoned me so strangely?’

A passing breeze blew away the murmur of the reply and several succeeding sentences, till the man’s voice again became audible in the words, ‘Harriet–truth between us two! I have heard that the Duke does not treat you too well.’

‘He is warm-tempered, but he is a good husband.’

‘He speaks roughly to you, and sometimes even threatens to lock you out of doors.’

‘Only once, Fred! On my honour, only once. The Duke is a fairly good husband, I repeat. But you deserve punishment for this night’s trick of drawing me out. What does it mean?’

‘Harriet, dearest, is this fair or honest? Is it not notorious that your life with him is a sad one–that, in spite of the sweetness of your temper, the sourness of his embitters your days. I have come to know if I can help you. You are a Duchess, and I am Fred Ogbourne; but it is not impossible that I may be able to help you . . . By God! the sweetness of that tongue ought to keep him civil, especially when there is added to it the sweetness of that face!’

‘Captain Ogbourne!’ she exclaimed, with an emphasis of playful fear. ‘How can such a comrade of my youth behave to me as you do? Don’t speak so, and stare at me so! Is this really all you have to say? I see I ought not to have come. ‘Twas thoughtlessly done.’

Another breeze broke the thread of discourse for a time.

‘Very well. I perceive you are dead and lost to me,’ he could next be heard to say, ‘”Captain Ogbourne” proves that. As I once loved you I love you now, Harriet, without one jot of abatement; but you are not the woman you were–you once were honest towards me; and now you conceal your heart in made-up speeches. Let it be: I can never see you again.’