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University of California.
BOUGHT WITH FUND GIVEN BY
SCOTTISH SOCIETIES OF CALIFORNIA.
A TRUE STORY
AND OTHER TALES
A TRUE STORY
AND OTIIER TALES
WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AXD SOXS
EDINBURGH AXD LOXDOX
All Plights reserved
KATIE STEWART : A TRUE STORY, ... 1
JOHN RINTOUL; OR, THE FRAGMENT OF THE
A RAILWAY JUNCTION; OR, THE ROMANCE OF
LADY BANK, 299
A TRUE STORY
" Eh Lady Anne ! The like of you yammering morning
and night about wee Katie at the mill. What's John
Stewart 1 ? Naethiug but a common man, and you the
Earl's dochter. I wonder ye dinna think shame."
" Whisht, Nelly," said the little Lady Anne.
" I'll no whisht. Didna Bauby Roger speak for me to
Lady Betty hersel, to make me bairn's-maid ; and am I
to gie you your ain gate, now that I've gotten the place?
I'll do nae such thing ; and ye shanna demean yoursel
as lang as I can help it. I've been in as grand houses as
Kellie Castle. I've had wee ladies and wee gentlemen to
keep before now ; and there's plenty o' them, no that far
off, to haud ye in company : what would ye do wi' Katie
" I dinna like them ; and eh, Nelly, she's bonnie ! "
answered little Anne Erskine.
" She's bonnie ! Lady Anne, ye're enough to gar ony-
body think shame. What's ony lady's business wi' folk
being bonnie 1 â no to say that it's a' in your ain een, and
she's just like ither folk."
2 KATIE STEWART.
" Maybe, Nelly. She has rosy cheeks, and bonnie
blue een, like you j but I like to look at her," said Lady
The despotic Nelly was mollified. " It's a' wi' guid
wholesome diet, and rising in the morning. Ye ken your-
sel how I have to fleech ye wi' cream before ye'll take
your parritch; and cream's no guid for the like o' you.
If ye were brocht up like common folk's bairns, ye would
hae as rosy cheeks as Katie Stewart."
The little Lady Anne bent down by the burnside, to
look at her own pale face in the clear narrow stream.
" I'll never be like Katie," said Anne Erskine, with a
sigh ; " and Janet's no like Isabell Stewart : we're no
sae bonnie as them. Bring Katie up to the Castle, Nelly;
there's John Stewart at the mill-door â ask him to let
" But what will Lady Betty say 1 " asked the nurse.
" Betty said I might get her if I liked. She'll no
be angry. See, Nelly, John Stewart's standing at the
With reluctance the nurse obeyed ; and, leaving Lady
Anne on the burnside, advanced to John Stewart.
The mill lay at the opening of a little uncultivated
primitive-looking valley, through which the burn wound
in many a silvery link, between banks of bare grass,
browned here and there with the full sunshine, which fell
over it all the summer through, unshaded by a single tree.
There was little of the beautiful in this view of Kellie
Mill. A grey thatched house, placed on a little eminence,
down the side of which descended the garden â a very
unpretending garden, in which a few bushes of southern-
wood, and one or two great old rose-trees, were the only
ornamental features â was the miller's dwelling ; and just
beyond was the mill itself, interposing its droning musical
KATIE STEWART. 3
wheel and little rush of water between the two buildings :
while farther on, the bare grassy slopes, among which the
burn lost itself, shut out the prospect â very rural, very
still, giving you an idea of something remote and isolated
â "the world forgetting, by the world forgot " â but with
scarcely any beauty except what was in the clear skies
over it, and the clear running water which mirrored the
And on the burnside sits the little Lady Anne Erskine,
the Earl of Kellie's youngest daughter. She says well that
she will never be pretty; but you like the quiet little
face, though its features are small and insignificant, and
its expression does not at all strike you, further than to
kindness for the gentle owner, as she sits under the hot
September sun, with her feet almost touching the water,
pulling handfuls of grass, and looking wistfully towards
the mill. A dress of some fine woollen stuff, shapeless
and ungraceful, distinguishes her rank only ver} r slightly;
for the time is 1735, when fashions travel slowly, and
the household of Kellie practises economy. Like the
scene is the little lady ; without much of even the natu-
ral beauty of childhood, but with a clear, soft, unclouded
face, contented and gentle, thinking of everything but
Turn round the paling of the garden to the other side
of this grey house, and the scene is changed. Eor the
background you have a thick clump of wood, already
brilliant in its autumn tints. Immediately striking your
eye is a gorgeous horse-chestnut, embosomed among
greener foliage â a bit of colour for an artist to study.
The trees grow on an abrupt green mound, one of the
slopes of the little glen â the only one so becomingly
sheltered ; and from its steep elevation a little silvery
stream of water falls down, with a continual tinkling, to
4 KATIE STEWART.
the small pebbly bed below. Between this minstrel and
the house spreads a "green" of soft thick grass, with
poppies gleaming in the long fringes of its margin, and
blue-eyed forget-me-nots looking up from the sod. One
step up from the green, on the steep ascent, which has
been cut into primitive steps, brings you on a level with
the mill-dam and its bordering willows ; and beyond shows
you a wider horizon, bounded by the green swelling sum-
mit of Kellie Law, the presiding hill of the district, from
which a range of low hills extends westward, until they
conclude in the steep wooded front of Balcarras Craig,
striking a bold perpendicular line across the sky. Rich
fields and scattered farm-houses lie between you and the
hills ; and some of the fields are populous with merry
companies of " shearers," whose voices, softened by the
distance, touch the ear pleasantly now and then. These
lands were well cultivated and productive even at that
time ; and on this side of Kellie Mill, you could believe
you were within the fertile bounds of the kingdom of
And the little figures on the green contrast strikingly
with the young watcher without. Foremost, seated in the
deep soft grass, which presses round her on every side,
with its long, bending, elastic blades, sits a child of some
eight years, with the soft cherub face which one some-
times sees in rural places, delicately tinted, beautifully
formed. Round the little clear forehead clusters hair
paler than gold, not in curls, but in soft circlets, like
rings. Just a little darker as yet are the long eyelashes
and finely-marked brows ; and the eyes are sunny blue,
running over with light, so that they dazzle you. It is
considerably browned, the little face, with the sun of this
whole summer, and, with perhaps just a shade too much
of rosy colour, has a slightly petulant, wilful expression ;
KATIE STEWART. 5
but when you look at Katie Stewart, you can understand
the admiration of Lady Anne.
Only a little taller is that staid sister Isabell, who sits
knitting a great blue woollen stocking by Katie's side.
Isabell is twelve, and her hair has grown a little darker,
and she herself looks womanly, as she sits and knits with
painful industry, counting the loops as she turns the heel,
and pausing now and then to calculate how much she has
to do before she may escape from her task. The stocking
is for her father : he has an immense heel, Isabell thinks
secretly, as she almost wishes that some such process as
that severe one adopted by the sisters of Cinderella, could
be put in operation with honest John Stewart. But
yonder he stands, good man, his ruddy face whitened
over, and his fourteen stone of comfortable substance
fully needing all the foundation it has to stand upon : so
Isabell returns to her knitting with such energy that the
sound of her " wires " is audible at the mill-door, and
John Stewart, turning round, looks proudly at his bairns.
Janet stands on the threshold of the house, peeping
out ; and Janet by no means looks so well as her sisters.
She has a heavier, darker face, a thick, ungainly figure,
and looks anything but good-humoured. They are all
dressed in a very primitive style, in home-made linen,
with broad blue and white stripes ; and their frocks are
made in much the same form as the modern pinafore. But
simple as its material is, Janet has the skirt of her dress
folded up, and secured round her waist â " kilted," as she
calls it â exhibiting a considerable stretch of blue woollen
petticoat below ; for Janet has been employed in the
house by reason of her superior strength, assisting her
mother and the stout maid-servant within.
Over Katie's red lip come little gushes of song, as she
bends over the daisies in her lap, and threads them. The
6 KATIE STEWART.
child does not know that she is singing ; but the happy
little voice runs on unconsciously, with quick breaks and
interruptions like breath.
11 Katie, I dinna ken what ye think ye're gaun to be,"
said the womanly elder sister. " Ye never do a turn; and
it's no as if you got onything hard. Woman, if I had
the like o' thae bonnie thread stockings to work, instead
o' tliir, I would never stop till they were done ! "
" But I'm no you, Bell," said Katie, running on without
a pause into her song.
" Threading gowans ! â they're o' nae use in this world,"
continued the mentor. " What is't for % "
" Just they're bonnie," said little Katie.
" They're bonnie ! " Isabell received the excuse with as
much contempt as Lady Anne's attendant had just done.
"Eh Bell, woman! â eh Katie!" exclaimed Janet,
descending from the garden paling with a great leap,
" there's wee Lady Anne sitting on the burnside, and
there's Nelly speaking to my faither. She's wanting
something ; for, look at him, how he's pointing here.
Eh Bell, whatwill'tber
" Weel, Nelly, gang in-by, and ask the wife," said the
miller ; " it's no in my hands. I never meddle wi' the
" The bairns ! she's wanting some of us," cried Janet.
Isabell's stocking dropped on her knee, and they
watched Nelly into the house ; but little Katie threaded
her gowans, and sang her song, and was happily un-
conscious of it all.
By-and-by Mrs Stewart herself appeared at the door.
She was a little fair-haired w r oman, rather stout nowadays,
but a beauty once ; and with the pretty short-gown, held
in round her still neat waist by a clean linen apron, and
her animated face, looked yet exceedingly well, and vin-
KATIE STEWART. 7
dicated completely her claim to be the fountain-head and
original of the beauty of her children.
Isabell lifted her stocking, as her mother, followed by
Nelly, came briskly towards the green, and began to knit
with nervous fingers, making clumsy noises with her
wires. Janet stared at the approaching figures stupidly
with fixed eyes ; while little Katie, pausing at last, sus-
pended her chain of gowans over her round sunburnt arm,
and lifted her sunny eyes with a little wonderment, but
no very great concern.
" I'm sure it's no because she's of ony use at hame,
that I should scruple to let her away," said Mrs Stewart,
" for she's an idle monkey, never doing a hand's turn frae
morning till night ; but ye see she never hauds hersel in
right order, and she would just be a fash at the Castle."
At the Castle ! Intense groAvs the gaze of Janet, and
there is a glow on the face of the staid Isabell ; but little
Katie again unconsciously sings, and looks up with her
sunny wondering unconcerned eyes into her mother's face.
" ]S r ae fear : if she's no content, Lady Betty will send
her hame," said the nurse ; " but ye see Lady Anne, she's
never done crying for little Katie Stewart."
There is a slight momentary contraction of Isabell's
forehead, and then the flush passes from her face, and the
wires cease to strike each other spasmodically, and she,
too, looks up at her mother, interested, but no longer
anxious. She is not jealous of the little bright sister â
only Isabell yearns and longs for the universal love which
Katie does by no means appreciate yet, and cannot well
understand how it is that Katie is always the dearest â
always the dearest ! It is the grandest distinction in the
world, the other little mind muses unconsciously, and
Isabell submits to be second with a sigh.
" Such a like sight she is, trailing about the burnside
8 KATIE STEWART.
a' the hours o' the day/' exclaimed the mother, surveying
Katie's soiled frock with dismay.
"Hout, Mrs Stewart/' said the patronising nurse,
" what needs ye fash ahout it 1 JSTaebody expects to see
your little ane put on like the bairns that come ahout
Mrs Stewart drew herself up. ''Thank ye for your
guid opinion, Nelly ; but I'll hae naebody make allow-
ances for my bairn. Gang in to the house this moment,
Katie, and get on a clean frock. It's Lady Anne that's
wanting ye, and no a common body ; and ye've forbears
and kin o' your ain as guid as maist folk. Gang in this
minute and get yoursel sorted. Ye're to gang to the
Castle wi' Lady Anne."
Reluctantly Katie rose. " I'm no wanting to gang to
the Castle. I'm no heeding about Lady Anne ! "
" Eh Katie ! " exclaimed Isabell under her breath, look-
ing up to her wistfully; but the little capricious favourite
could already afford to think lightly of the love which
waited on her at every turn.
Mrs Stewart had a temper â a rather decided and un-
equivocal one, as the miller well knew. " Ye'll do what
you're bidden, and that this moment," she said, with a
slight stamp of her foot. " Gang in, and Merran will
sort ye ; and see ye disobey me if you daur ! "
Isabell rose and led the little pouting Katie away, with
a secret sigh. No one sought or cared for her, as they
did for this little petulant spoiled child ; and Isabell, too,
was pretty, and kind, and gentle, and had a sort of sad
involuntary consciousness of those advantages which still
failed to place her on the same platform with the favourite.
Dull Janet, who was not pretty, envied little Katie ; but
Isabell did not envy her. She only sighed, with a blank
feeling that no one loved her, as every one loved her sister.
" Eut Lady Betty never wears them, and what's the use
o' a' thae bonnie things ? " asked little Katie, after the first
burst of admiration was over, and she stood at leisure
contemplating the jewels of the Ladies Erskine â not a
very brilliant display, for the house of Kellie was any-
thing but rich.
" If we had had a king and queen o' our ain, and no
thae paughty Germans â or even if it werena for that
weary Union, taking away our name frae us â us that
never were conquered yet, and would be if the haill
world joined to do it â Lady Betty would wear the braw
family diamonds in the queen's presence-chaumer," said
Bauby Eodger, Lady Betty's maid ; " but wha's gaun to
travel a lang sea-voyage for the sake o' a fremd queen
and a fremd court? And ye wouldna hae ladies gaun
glittering about the house wi' a' thae shining things on
ilkadays, and naebody to see them. Na, na. Ye're but
a wee bairn, Katie Stewart ; ye dinna ken."
" But I think they're awfu' grand, Bauby, and I like
that muckle ane the beet. Do you think the queen has
as grand things as thae 1 "
" "Weel, I'll no say for this new queen," said the candid
Bauby. " She's only come of a wee German family, wi'
lands no sae muckle, and naebody would daur to say half
as rich and fruitful, as thir Kellie lands in Eife ; but for
our ain auld queens â didna they gang covered owre frae
head to fit wi' pearls and rubies, and embroideries o' gold,
and diamonds in their crown as big as my twa nieves ! "
And Bauby placed these same clenched "nieves,"
articles of the most formidable size, close together, and
10 KATIE STEWART.
held them up to the admiring gaze of little Katie ; foi
Bauby was an enthusiast, and would utterly have scorned
" Bauby," inquired the little visitor, " am I to stay at
the Castle %"
" Ye're up the brae, my woman," was the indirect re-
sponse. " ISTae doubt your faither's a very decent man,
and ye're nj an ill bairn yoursel, and come o' creditable
folk ; but there's mony a wee Miss atween this and the
sea would be blithe to come to Kellie, to be bred up wi'
Lady Anne ; and it's to be naebody but you, Katie
Stewart. My certy, ye're a favoured bairn."
It seemed that Katie was slightly inclined to dispute
this proposition, for she twisted up the hem of her little
blue linen apron, and held down her head and pouted â
but she made no articulate reply.
" Where's little Katie 1 " cried Lady Anne, entering the
room with a haste and eagerness which gave some colour
to her small pale face. " Katie, your mother's ben in the
drawing-room, and she says you're to stay."
But Katie still pouted, and still made a roll of the hem
of her apron.
" You're no ill-pleased to stay with me, Katie % " whis-
pered Lady Anne, stealing her arm round her little play-
" But I'll never see my mother," said Katie, gradually
bursting into a little petulant fit of tears â " nor Bell, nor
the burn. I dinna want to stay at the Castle. I want
to gang hame."
" Oh, Katie, will ye no stay with me 1 " cried poor little
Lady Anne, tightening her grasp, and joining in the tears.
But Katie, stoutly rebellious, struggled out of the grasp
of her affectionate friend, and again demanded to go
KATIE STEWART. 11
" Hame, indeed ! My certy, ye would get plenty o'
hame if I had the guiding o' ye," said Bauby Eodger.
" Gang hame ! â just let her, Lady Anne â to work stock-
ings, and learn the Single Carritch, and sleep three in a
bed. She was to have gotten the wee closet, wi' the
grand wee bed and red curtains, and to have learned to
dance and play the spinnet, and behave hersel, and see
the first folk in the land. But let her gang hame. 1
wouldna stop her. She'll never be a lady ; she'll learn
to milk the cow, and gather the tatties, and marry a
weaver out o' Arncreoch ! "
Katie had been gradually drying her tears. " I'll no
many a weaver," exclaimed the child, indignantly, with
an angry flush on her face. " I'll no milk cows and
work stockings. I will be a lady ; and I dinna like ye,
Bauby Eodger ! "
" Weel, my woman, I'm no heeding," said Bauby, with
a laugh ; " but though ye dinna like me, ye canna hinder
me doing what my lady bids. There's nae use fechting
now ; for your face maun be washed, and ye maun gang
in to Lady Betty's drawing-room and see your mother."
It was by no means an easy achievement, this washing
of Katie's face ; and the mild Lady Anne looked on in awe
and wonder as her wilful playfellow struggled in those
great hands of Bauby's, to which she was wont to resign
herself as into the hands of a giant â for Bauby was nearly
six feet high, and proportionably thick and strong, with
immense red hands, and an arm nearly as thick as Katie's
waist. At last, with this great arm passed round Katie's
neck, securing the pretty head with unceremonious tight-
ness, the good-humoured Glumdalca overpowered hei
struggling charge, and the feat was accomplished.
Glowing from the fresh clear water, and with those soft
rings of hair a little disordered on her white temples, this
12 KATIE STEWART.
little face of Katie's contrasted very strangely with Lady
Anne's, as they went together through the great stately
gallery to Lady Betty's drawing-room. Lady Anne had
the advantage of height, and promised to be tall ; while
Katie's little figure, plump and round as it already was,
gave no indication of ever reaching the middle stature ;
â but the small dark head of the Earl's daughter, with
its thoughtful serious expression, looked only like the
shadow beside the sunshine, in presence of the infant
beauty whose hand she held. Neither of them were taste-
fully dressed â the science was unknown then, so far as
regarded children ; but the quaint little old-woman gar-
ments pleased no less than amused you, when you saw the
bright child's face of Katie, while they only added to the
gravity and paleness of the quiet Lady Anne.
This long, gaunt, dreary gallery â how the little foot-
steps echo through it! There is a door standing ajar.
Who has dared to open the door of the great draw-
ing-room 1 â but as it is open, quick, little Katie,
Only once before has Katie had a glimpse of this mag-
nificent apartment. It looks very cold â sadly dreary and
deathlike, especially as you know that that little black
speck just appearing at the corner window is the point of
the mournful escutcheon put up there, not a very long
time ago, when Lady Kellie died; and somehow the room
looks, with its dismal breathless atmosphere, as if solemn
assemblies took place in it every night. Look at those
couches, with their corners inclined towards each other,
as if even now spectral visitants bent over to whisper in
each other's ears ; and here, beside this great, stiff, high-
backed chair, is a little low one, with embroidered covers,
looking as if some fair antique lady, in rustling silk and
lace, had drawn it close to a stately matron's side, and was
KATIE STEWART. 13
talking low and earnestly, craving or receiving counsel.
Here some one, with heavy chair drawn apart, has been
looking at that portrait. Has been looking ! â one feels
with an involuntary thrill, that, leaning back on these
velvet cushions, some presence to whom the fair Erskine,
whose pictured face he contemplates upon the wall, was
dear in the old times, may be looking now, though we see
him not ; and the fair Erskine perchance leans on his
shoulder too, and smiles to see her portrait. Close the
door reverently, children, and leave it to the dead.
In, now, through this matted passage, to a room of
much smaller dimensions, with windows looking over a
fair green country to the far-away sea; and this is a living
room, cheerful to see after the awe of the great drawing*
room. At the side of the great hearth, in which a bright
fire is burning, Lady Betty sits in a large arm-chair. She
is not much above twenty, but seems to think it neces-
sary that she should look very grave and composed in her
capacity of head of the house â feminine head of the house,
for Lord Kellie still lives and rules his household. Lady
Betty's dress is of dark silk, not the newest, and over it
she wears a handkerchief of delicate white muslin, with a
narrow embroidered border. A white muslin apron, with
corresponding embroideries, covers the front of her dress,
which has deep falling ruffles of lace at the elbows, and
a stiff stomacher which you scarcely can see under those
folds of muslin. Over her arms are drawn long black
silk gloves without fingers, and she wears a ring or two
of some value. Her head is like a tower with its waves
of dark hair combed up from the brow, and her stature
scarcely needs that addition, for all the Erskines are tall.
Little Katie is really awed now, and feels that there is
something grand in sheltering under the shadow of Lady
14 KATIE STEWART.
Mrs Stewart stands before Lady Betty, engaged in
earnest conversation with her. Not because Mrs Stewart
is humble, and chooses this attitude as the most suitable,
but because Mrs Stewart is earnest, and being in the
habit of using the instrument of gesture a good deal, has
risen to make it more forcible. One of her hands is
lifted up, and she holds out the other, on which now and
then she taps with her substantial fingers to emphasise
" You see, my lady, we have nae occasion to be in-
debted to onybody for the upbringing of our bairns. My
man, I am thankful to say, is a decent man, and a well-
doing, and, if we're spared, we'll have something to leave
to them that come after us ; but I dinna dispute the ad-
vantage of being brocht up at the Castle. The Castle's
ae thing, the mill's anither ; but I must have my con-
ditions, or Katie Stewart must come hame."
" Well, Mrs Stewart, let me hear your conditions," said
Lady Betty, graciously. " I have no doubt they are very
sensible ; let me hear them."
" She mustna be learned to lightly her ain friends â
they're a creditable kindred no to be thocht shame of.
She's no to think hersel better than Isabell and Janet,