cheek is steady as the soft tints of a rose, and you look
up with candid open eyes into his face. He speaks low ;
but though your voice is never loud, you give him answers
which others hear — frankly, without even the hesitation,
without the downcast glances with which you answer the
old, lofty, stately gentleman who speaks to you now and
then with kindly smiles; for that is the head of the house
of Lindsay, the father of that Lady Anne, whom all Scot-
170 KATIE STEWART.
land shall love hereafter for one of the sweetest ballads
which makes our language musical. And you look down
shyly, Katie Stewart, when you speak to the Earl of
Balcarras, because he is beyond question a grand gentle-
man, of the grandest antique type; but you neither hesi-
tate nor look down when you answer Sir Alexander, because
he is living at Kellie, and you see him every day, and
have almost forgotten that at one time you would have
made him a hero. He is a hero to all intents and purposes
now — a fit subject for romance or ballad — brave, loyal,
unfortunate — an attainted rebel once, a free man now, for
his valour's sake; but wilful Katie Stewart remembers
nothing of the white roses — nothing of the moonlight
night on the oriel-window — but, leaning her little im
patient hands upon her embroidery frame, looks up into
his face, and smiles and talks to him as if he were her
The good, brave, simple, knightly heart ! this voice has
haunted him in painful flight and bivouac — has spoken
audible words to him in the fair moonlight of southern
lands — has been his ideal of comfort and gladness many a
day when he needed both; and this not only because him-
self was charmed with the young fresh spirit, but because
those flushed cheeks and downcast eyes persuaded him
that he was the hero, the magician to whose mystic touch
the cords of this harp should thrill as they had never
thrilled before. And it was not all the crimson curtain,
Katie Stewart — not all; and there was a magician at work,
breathing prelude whispers over these wondrous strings ;
— only the weird hand was a hand within yourself, un-
seen, impalpable, and not the hand of Alexander Erskine.
He begins to find this out to-night — and well it is only
now ; for before, he was alone, exiled, distressed, and
carried about with him this fanciful remembrance and
KATIE STEWART. 171
affection, like some fairy companion to cheer and gladden
him. Now, it is very true his face grows blank, his head
droops, and uneasily his restless hand moves on the back
of the high chair he leans on ; but many bright faces are
around him — many hearts are eager to question, to sym-
pathise, to admire. The wound will shoot and pain him,
perhaps, through all these winter days, and into the spring;
but the wound is not mortal, and it will heal.
And Katie Stewart lifts her window that night and
looks out to the west, which the pallid moon is nearing,
and smiles — smiles; but tears are there withal to obscure
her shining eyes; for, as she observes this nightly loving
superstition, there comes sometimes a vague terror upon
her that he may be lying dreamless and silent upon some
death-encumbered deck, for whom she sends this smile
away to the far west to shine into his dreams; and as
she closes her window, and sits down by the little table
on which she has placed her light, the sickness of long-
deferred hope comes flooding over her heart, and she
hides her face in her hands. Day after day, year upon
year, how they have glided past — so slow that every
footfall came to have its separate sound, and it seems as
though she had counted every one; and Katie bows her
head upon the little Bible on her table, and speaks in
her heart to One whom these years and hours have taught
her to know, but whom she knew not before.
And then she lays her head on her pillow and falls
asleep — falls asleep as Bauby Bodger bade her, long ago,
smiling for his dream's sake.
172 KATIE STEWART.
" Katie, Katie, your roses take long to bloom," said
Lady Anne Erskine; "here is where you began last
year, and they are not out of the bud yet."
" But Miss Katie has had other gear in hand, Lady
Anne — your ladyship doesna mind," said Bauby, in a
slight tone of reproof.
" If Banby had only kept count how many yards of
cambric I've hemmed for Lordie," said Katie Stewart;
" and look, Lady Anne, — see."
For to the ends of a delicate cambric cravat Katie is
sewing a deep border of lace, — old rich lace, which the
Lady Erskine, not unmindful for herself of such braveries,
is expending on her son.
" Well, you know, Katie, I think Lordie is too young,"
said Lady Anne, drawing herself up slightly; "and so
did Janet, when I told her; but no doubt Lady Erskine
is his mother : he's scarcely thirteen yet — and lace like
that ! "
"He's a bonnie boy, my lady; and then he's Earl of
Kellie now," said the maid, — for Lady Anne in these
years had lost her father.
" So he is. It makes a difference, no doubt ; but
Janet says if he was her son — Katie, what ails ye V
" It's naething, Lady Anne; it's just a letter," answered
Katie, who, sitting within reach of the open door, had
seen the housekeeper appear in the gallery, beckoning
and holding up the precious epistle: "I'll be back the
And Lordie's lace fell on the floor at the feet of Lady
KATIE STEWART. 173
The good Lady Anne took it up gravely, and shook
" She'll never be any wiser, Bauby: we need not ex-
pect it now, you know; and she gets letters from only
one person. But I think Katie is getting over that.
She's forgetting the sailor, Bauby."
" [ dinna ken, my lady," said Bauby, mournfully, as,
kneeling on the carpet with a round work-basket before
her, she pursued her occupation, unravelling a mass of
bright silks, which lay matted in seemingly hopeless
entanglement within the grasp of her great hands.
"But I think so, Bauby; and I think Sir Alexander
likes her. If he sought her — though it would be a poor,
poor match for an Erskine — she surely would never think
of the sailor more."
Bauby lifted her head indignantly; but Lady Anne's
mild eyes were cast down upon her work, and the naming
glance did no execution.
"Ane doesna ken, my lady; — it's ill to judge," was the
ambiguous, oracular reply.
"But one does know what one thinks. Do you not
think her mind is as free as it used to be 1 — do you not
think she has forgotten him, Bauby 1 "
Bauby was perplexed and unwilling to answer — un-
willing to confess how she feared and doubted for poor
Willie Morison, now sailing in Lord Colville's ship, and
as well as a pressed sailor could be; so she bent her
head, and exclaimed against an obstinate impracticable
knot, to gain time.
It served her purpose; for before the knot yielded,
Katie came stealing into the room with shining wet eyes,
and some shy triumph and unusual pride upon her face.
The face itself was flushed; it could not fail to be so, for
Katie felt the quiet scrutiny of Lady Anne, and the eager,
174 KATIE STEWAltT.
impatient glances of Bauby, searching her thoughts in
her look; and bright shy looks she gave them — first to the
maid, the most interested, who felt her faith strengthened
by the glance ; and then to the gentle solicitous lady, who
looked tenderly at the moisture on her cheek, but laid
Lordie's lace cravat on the table notwithstanding, and
said, with a slight, unconscious censure, —
" You threw it down, Katie, when you went away."
" I didna ken, Lady Anne," said Katie, in so low an
undertone that her friend had to stoop towards her to
hear, " for I wanted to get my letter."
The eyes of Bauby brightened, and Lady Anne moved
with a little impatience on her chair.
" Well ; but there will be no news, Katie 1 I suppose
he tells you no news 1 "
" Yes, Lady Anne."
" Then, Katie, why do you not tell me 1 Has anything
happened to my brother 1 ? Is the young man still in
Lord Colville's ship?"
" There's naething ails my lord, Lady Anne — only he's
been kind to Willie; and now — now he's just among the
common men nae mair, nor the small officers neither —
but he's master in a ship himsel."
" Master in a ship ! " Bauby Eodger sprang to her
feet, overturning both silks and basket, and the placid
Lady Anne was sufficiently moved to lose her needle.
u Master in a ship ! "
" He says it doesna mean Captain," said Katie, the
bright tears running over out of her full eyes ; " but it's
Master of the sailing — and a man that's master of the
sailing canna be far from master of the ship. And it's a
sloop of war ; but a sloop of war's no like the little trad-
ing sloops in the Firth, Lady Anne. It's masted and
rigged like a ship, Willie says, and bigger than that weary
KATIE STEWART. 175
cutter ; and now he's among the officers, where he should
be, and no a common man."
And Katie put down her face into her hands, and cried
for very joy.
" She needs nae comfort the now, my lady," said
Bauby, in a whisper, as Lady Anne drew her hand cares-
singly over Katie's hair: "let her greet; for it's blithe
to greet when ane's heart is grit, and rinning owre wi'
" Then you can look for my needle, Bauby," said Lady
The Lady Erskine began to feel considerably encumbered
with her sister-in-law. At present, with many schemes,
she was labouring in her vocation, receiving and giving
invitations in an energetic endeavour to get poor Anne
" off." But Lady Anne herself had not the least idea of
getting off : her romance was over — a short, wild, unusual
one ; and now the west room, with its embroidery frame
— the quiet daily walk — the frequent visit to Lady Janet
and her children — and the not unfrequent letters of Lady
Betty, sufficed to fill with peaceful contentment the quiet
days of Lady Anne. The poor Lady Erskine ! She had
succeeded in awakening a dormant liking for " her dear
sister " in the comfortable breast of a middle-aged, eligible,
landed gentleman, whose residence lay conveniently near
the Castle. A long time it took to make this good man
176 KATIE STEWART.
know his own mind, and many were the delicate hints
and insinuations by which the match-maker did her
utmost to throw light upon the subject. At length a
perception began to dawn upon him : he thought he had
found out, the honest man, that this mind of his, hitherto,
in his own consciousness, solely occupied with crops and
hunts, good wine and local politics, had been longing all
its life for the " refined companionship " of which Lady
Erskine preached to him; and as he found it out, he
sighed. Still, if it must be, it must, and the idea of
Lady Anne was not unendurable ; so the good man put
on a new wig, like the Laird of Cockpen, and, mounting
his mare, rode cannily to Kellie Castle.
But Lady Anne, like Mrs Jean, said No — said it as
quietly, with a little surprise, but very little discomposure,
and no signs of relenting. "As if men came to the
Castle every day on suchlike errands ! " said the wooer
to himself, with some heat, and considerable bewilder-
ment, as the turrets of Kellie disappeared behind him,
when he went away.
Still more indignant and injured felt the Lady of
Kellie; but the culprit said not a word in self-defence:
so more parties were given, more invitations accepted,
and Lady Erskine even vaguely intimated the expediency
of visiting London for a month or two. Anne was full
five-and-twenty; and her sister-in-law never looked upon
the unmarried young lady but with self-reproach, and
fear lest people might say that she had neglected her
But the parties would not do. Quiet, unselfish, sin-
cere, the young ladies and the young gentlemen made
Anne Erskine their friend — confided troubles to her —
told her of love distresses ; young men, even, who might
have spoken to her — Lady Erskine thought — of that sub-
KATIE STEWART. 177
ject as principal, and not as confidante; but Lady Anne
felt no disappointment. It is true, she remembered, with
a certain quiet satisfaction, that it was her own fault she
was still Anne Erskine, and thought kindly of the good
man who had generously put it in her power to refuse
him ; but in this matter Lady Anne's ambition went no
further, and Lady Erskine was foiled.
So, under the high window in the west room, Lady
Anne sits happily at her embroidery frame, and works the
quiet hours away. She is labouring at a whole suit of
covers for those high-backed, upright chairs in Lady Col-
ville's drawing-room — and many a pretty thing besides has
Lady Colville from the same unfailing loom ; and rich are
those little girls of Lady Janet's, who sometimes tumble
about this pleasant apartment, and ravel the silks with
which patient aunt Anne makes flowers bloom for them
upon that perennial canvas. And Katie Stewart draws
a low chair to Lady Anne's feet, and plays with her em-
broidery frame sometimes ; sometimes, among fine linen
and cambric, works at garments for Lordie ; and some-
times, bending those undisciplined shoulders over a great
volume on her knee, reads aloud to the placid, unwearying
worker above her, whose shoulders own no stoop as her
fingers no weariness. Or Katie sings at her work those
songs about Strephon and Chloe which poor Sir Alex-
ander thought so sweet ; and Lady Erskine, pausing as
she passes, comes in to hear, and to spend a stray half-hour
in local gossip, which none of all the three are quite above;
and Bauby Eodger expatiates about the room, and makes
countless pilgrimages to Lady Anne's own apartment, and
now and then crosses the gallery, visible through the half-
open door, bearing a load of delicate lace and cambric,
which she constantly has in reserve to be "ironed" when
she's "no thrang;" — and so they spend their life.
178 KATIE STEWART.
An uneventful, quiet life, sweetened with many unre-
corded charities — a life disturbed by no storms, distressed
by no hardships — full of peace so great that they hardly
knew it to be peace, and rich with love and kindness into
which there entered neither passion nor coldness, indiffer-
ence nor distrust. The sunshine came and went; the days,
all of one quiet sisterhood, passed by with steps so soft they
left no print. And as the days passed, so did the years ;
— slowly, but you scarce could call them tedious ; with
sober cheer and smiling faces, each one you looked on
growing more mature than that which went before ; — and
so time and the hour passed on unwearying, and five other
long twelvemonths glided by into the past.
" Lordie, you're only a laddie. I wonder how you can
daur to speak that way to me ! "
" But it's true for all that, Katie," said the young Earl
Katie Stewart is leaning against a great ash-tree, which
just begins, in this bright April weather, to throw abroad
its tardy leaves to the soft wind and the sun. A tear of
anger is in Katie's blue eye, a blush of indignation on
her cheek; for Lordie — Lordie, whom she remembers "a
little tiny boy," who used to sit on her knee— has just
been saying to her what the modest Sir Alexander never
ventured to say, and has said it in extravagant language
and very doubtful taste, as the most obstreperous Strephon
KATIE STEWART. 179
might have said it; while Katie, desperately resentful,
could almost cry for shame.
Before her stands the young lord, in the graceful dress
of the time, with one of the beautiful cambric cravats
which Katie made, about his neck, and the rich lace ends
failing over "the open-stitch hem" of his shirt, — Katie's
workmanship too. A tall youth, scarcely yet resolved
into a man, Lordie is, to tell the truth — slightly awkward,
and swings about his length of limb by no means grace-
fully. Neither is his face in the least degree like Sir
Alexander's face, but sallow and transitionist, like his
form; and Lordie's voice is broken, and, remaining no
longer a boy's voice, croaks with a strange discordance,
which does not belong to manhood. The youth is
in earnest, however — there can be no question of
" I'll be of age in three years, Katie."
" I'm eight-and-twenty, my Lord Kellie," said Katie,
drawing herself up; "I'm John Stewart of the Milton's
daughter, and troth-plighted to Willie Morison, master
of the Poole. Maybe you didna hear, or may have for-
gotten; and I'm Lady Anne's guest in Kellie, and have a
right that no man should say uncivil words to me as far
as its shadow falls."
" But, Katie, nobody's uncivil to you. Have you not
known me all my life ?"
" I've carried ye down this very road, Lordie," said
Katie, with emphasis.
"AVell, well; what of that?" said the young man,
impatiently. "Katie, why can't you listen to me? I
tell you "
" If you tell me anither word mair I'll never enter
Kellie Castle again, as lang as ye're within twenty mile,"
exclaimed the angry Katie.
180 KATIE STEWART.
" You'll be in a better humour next time," said the
young lord, as, a little subdued, he turned away.
Katie stood by the ash- tree a long time watching him;
and after he was gone, remained still, silently looking
down the avenue. Ten years — ten weary years have
passed since Willie Morison was taken away; for little
Katie Stewart, whom he left at the close of her eighteenth
spring, has now seen eight-and-twenty summers — and to-
morrow will complete the tenth twelvemonth since the
cutter's boat stole into Anster harbour, and robbed the
little town of her stoutest sons.
And Katie looks away to the west, and prays in her
heart for the ending of the war — though sometimes,
sickened with this weary flood of successive days, she
believes what the village prophets say, that these are the
last times, and that the war will never end — or that the
war will end without bringing safety to Willie; and the
tears rise into her grave woman's eyes, and she puts up
her hand to wipe them; for now they seldom come in
floods, as the girl's tears did, but are bitterer, sadder
drops than even those.
Ten years ! But her eyes are undimmed, her cheek
unfaded, and you could not guess by Katie Stewart's face
that she had seen the light so long; only in her heart
Katie feels an unnatural calmness which troubles her — a
long stretch of patience, which seems to have benumbed
her spirit — and she thinks she is growing old.
Poor, vain, boyish Lorclie ! He thinks she is ruminat
ing on his words, as he sees her go slowly home; but his
words have passed from her mind with the momentary
anger they occasioned; and Katie only sighs out the
weariness which oppresses her heart. It does not over-
come her often, but now and then it silently runs over;
weary, very weary — wondering if these days and years
KATIE STEWART. 181
will ever end; looking back to see them, gone like a
dream ; looking forward to the interminable array of
them, which crowd upon her, all dim and inarticulate
like the last, and thinking if she could only see an end —
only an end !
Bauby Eodger stands under the window in the west
room, with a letter in her hand. You could almost fancy
Bauby a common prying waiting-woman, she examines
the superscription so curiously; but Bauby would scorn
to glance within, were it in her power.
" Miss Katie, here's ane been wi' a letter to you," said
Bauby, not without suspicion, as she delivered it into
A ship letter — but not addressed by Willie Morison —
and Katie's fingers tremble as she breaks the seal. But
it is Willie Morison's hand within.
" My dear Katie, — I am able to write very little —
only a word to tell you not to be feared if you hear that
I am killed; for I'm not killed just yet. There's a leg
the doctor thinks he will need to have, and some more
things ail me — fashious things to cure ; but I never can
think that I've been so guarded this whole time, no to
be brought home at last; — for God is aye kind, and so
(now that I'm lamed and useless) is man. If I must die,
blessings on you, Katie, for minding me; and we'll meet
yet in a place that will be home, though not the home
we thought of. But if I live, Til get back — back to give
you the refusing of a disabled man, and a lamiter. Katie,
fare-ye-well! I think upon ye night and day, whether I
live or die. W. Morison."
" Katie Stewart ! my bairn ! my lamb ! " exclaimed
Bauby, hastening to offer the support of her shoulder to
182 KATIE STEWART.
the tottering figure, which sadly needed it — for the colour
had fled from Katie's very lips, and her eyes were blind
with sickness — " what ails ye, my darling? What's hap-
pened, Miss Katie 1 Oh, the Lord send he binna killed ! "
" He's no killed, Bauby," said Katie, hoarsely — " he's
no killed — he says he's no killed ; but no ane near him
that cares for him — no ane within a thousand miles but
what would make as muckle of anither man ; and the
hands o' thae hard doctors on my puir Willie ! Oh,
Bauby, Bauby ! do you think he's gane 1 "
" "No, my lamb ! he's no gane," cried Bauby, gravel}'.
" Do ye think the spirit that liket ye sae weel could have
passed without a sign % and I've heard nae death- warning
in this house since the Earl departed. Ye may plead for
him yet with the Ane that can save ; and, oh ! be thank-
ful, my bairn, that ye needna to gang lang pilgrimages to
a kirk or a temple, but can lift up your heart wherever
ye be ! "
And Bauby drew her favourite close to her breast, and
covered the wan, tearful face with her great sheltering
hand, while she too lifted up her heart — the kind, God-
fearing, tender heart, which dwelt so strangely in this
It is a June day, but not a bright one, and Katie has left
the coroneted gate of Kellie Castle, and takes the road
downward to the Firth'; for she is going to the Milton to
see her mother.
KATIE STEWART. 183
Why slio chooses to strike down at once to the sea,
instead of keeping b}^ the more peaceful way along the
fields, we cannot tell, for the day is as boisterous as if it
bad been March instead of June ; and as she gradually
nears the coast, the wind, growing wilder and wilder,
swells into a perfect hurricane ; but it pleases Katie —
for, restless with anxiety and fear, her mind cannot bear
the summer quietness, and it calms her in some degree to
see the storm.
For it is two months now since she received the letter
which told her of Willie's wounds ; and since, she has
heard nothing of him — if he lives, or if he has died. It
is strange how short the ten years look, to turn back upon
them now — shorter than these sunny weeks of May just
past, which her fever of anxious thought has lengthened
into ages. Poor Willie ! she thinks of him as if they
had parted yesterday — alone in the dark cabin or dreary
hospital, tended by strange hands — hymen's hands — with
doctors (and they have a horror of surgery in these rural
places, and think all operators barbarous) guiding him at
their will; and Katie hurries along with a burning hectic
on her cheek, as for the hundredth time she imagines the
horrors of an operation — though it is very true that even
her excited imagination falls far short of what was then,
in too many cases, the truth.
And now the graceful antique spire of St Monance
shoots up across the troubled sky, and beyond it the Firth
is plunging madly, dashing up wreaths of spray into the
air, and roaring in upon the rocks with along angry swell,
which in a calmer hour would have made Katie fear.
But now it only excites her as she struggles in the face
of the wind to the highway which runs along the coast,
and having gained it, pauses very near the village of St
Monance, to look out on the stormy sea.
184 KATIE STEWART.
At lier right hand — its green enclosure, dotted with
gravestones, projecting upon the jagged bristling rocks,
which now and then are visible, stretching far into the
Firth, as the water sweeps back with the great force of
its recoil — stands the old church of St Monance. Few
people hereabout know that this graceful old building —
then falling into gradual decay — is at all finer than its
neighbours in Pittenweem and Anstruther ; — but that it
is old, " awfu' auld," any fisher lad will tell you ; and
the little community firmly and devoutly believes that it-
was built by the Picts, and has withstood these fierce
sea-breezes for more than a thousand years, though the
minister says it was founded by the holy King David
that " sair saunct for the crown ; " — a doctrine at which