This is part two of “Jessie’s Tryst”, a story that first appeared in the pages of “The People’s Friend” in 1869.
Part one of the story was included in our Fiction newsletter last week.
We hope you enjoy the exciting conclusion!
Rory had followed John all the way, but lost sight of him when near the trysting place
But the faculties of sight and hearing were so sharpened by his profession to the hunter that, after a long search, he found himself on the other side of the trunk of the tree where the foregoing conversation was going on, and heard the three or four last remarks.
There is, perhaps, no more powerful incentive to deeds of violence than jealousy. Rory heard the only woman he cared for speak of him with abhorrence, and pledge herself to another. All the evil passions in his nature were roused, and were directed against his successful rival.
With a spring, the hunter stood before the lovers — his appearance denoting rage, madness, and violence.
“John of the Croft, you called me rascal. You will never win the prize,” said he, in accents choked with rage. “You won’t rue your scorn but once.”
So saying, he struck his opponent with his skiandu in the breast. So sudden was his onslaught that John had not time to utter a single word, nor make the least movement to check the murderous blow ere he fell to the ground, apparently a dead man.
As her lover fell at her feet, Jessie uttered a shriek so shrill and piercing that it might be heard miles from the scene, and fell on her knees by the side of her betrothed.
The bloody knife of the hunter is raised, as if with another blow he would silence the witness of his crime by laying the beautiful girl’s corpse by the side of her lover.
But ere the vengeful blow had time to descend, the strong fangs of the active Trust compress the throat of the murderer.
In another moment the sheep crook of the enraged Donald is broken to splinters upon his head, and he falls to the ground heavily, with a groan.
Donald ran to raise his friend, and hope revives when he finds that life is still in him.
He is gently supporting him, when vivid flash of lightning shows Trust still holding the hunter by the throat. With much difficulty, Donald prevails on his faithful creature to let go his hold.
In the meanwhile, Jessie looks around like one in a dream, as if her mind was unable to comprehend the terrible scene enacted before her eyes. The voice of her brother recalls her to consciousness, he asks —
“Are you hurt, Jessie? Are yon hurt?”
“No,” she replied, “But where is John?” And in another instant she was holding up the head of her intended.
“Run home, Jessie, for help,” said her brother, “and I will support my cousin till you return.”
“No,” she answered calmly, “I will not leave him on any account. But go you, Donald.”
Her brother cast a glance toward the prostrate body of the foxhunter, and stammered out —
“But — but you will not be safe, perhaps.”
“Be not afraid for me,” said she. “Trust will stay. Run you quickly and bring help. Oh! how terribly has my dream come to pass.”
The situation of the youthful girl during the short time she was at the tree was awful.
Two men, few minutes since in the full vigour of life, are now lying dead — or in all appearance so — on the ground.
The lightning for a second lights the whole heaven and earth, and leaves the scene in another moment in pitch darkness. The thunder rolls and tumbles overhead.
To these she pays no heed; she is too much engaged in supporting her wounded lover, and gently whispering into his ear, in hopes to hear his reply to her tender queries.
Her dumb companion or guard stands by her side, as if conscious that he had the duty upon him of protecting her, and is keeping a watchful eye on the hunter, in case he should try to rise.
But the crook of the stalwart Donald had seconded Trust’s attack so well that the latter was not again under the necessity of assuming the defensive.
Lights are soon seen approaching, and John and the foxhunter are soon both conveyed to the farmhouse. Such skill as was available — the best in the locality — was called to aid the wounded.
John had a deep stab in the left shoulder. On being dressed, and a restorative applied, he showed signs of returning to consciousness. The first object that met his gaze was the lovely face of his Jessie, and on recognising her he seemed to get a weight off his heart.
The wounds of the hunter were also carefully attended to, but his injuries were found to be very serious. and such as to leave but faint hopes of his life. His skull wag fractured, and his neck fearfully torn by the sharp teeth of Trust.
Jessie tenderly waited upon both invalids, but though by far the greater portion of her attendance and solicitude was devoted to her loved John, yet she acted towards Rory as sister.
This seemed to gall the heart of the hunter when he came to himself, because he knew that he did not merit such from one whom he had so treated, and as soon as he could bear the fatigue, at his own special request, he was removed to his lodging at Coalvalloch.
John soon recovered under the careful treatment of Jessie, but Rory did not fare so well. For he never regained his former strength, either in mind or body, and had to give up foxhunting and return to his native place, Balohulish, where he lived to repent his rash deed.
New Year has come, and there is much joy and merrymaking in the Glen, for the pretty Jessie is united with John.
Happily and contentedly did they live, and many flowers grew around their hearth, and supported them in old age.
But never did they forget the dreams, and their terrible tryst at the ash tree.
Look out for part two of “Jessie’s Tryst” in next week’s Fiction newsletter.
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