her ain sisters. She's to come to the mill aye when she
can win, to keep her frae pride she has nae right to. Ill
not suffer the natural band to be broken, my lady; though
she is to be brocht up with Lady Anne, she's still just
little Katie Stewart of Kellie Mill. That's my most
" Very right ; no one could possibly object to it," said
" And she's to get to the kirk. Your ladyship's maid
could leave her at Arncreoch, and we'll meet her there on
the road to Carnbee kirk, Lady Betty. She's at no hand
KATIE STEWART. 15
to gang down to Pittenweem, to the English chapel ; I
couldna suffer that."
" I will not ask you, Mrs Stewart," said Lady Betty,
" And she's to get nae questions but the right question-
book. It's easy bending the minds of bairns, and I canna
have her turned to the English way, my lady. I couldna
do with that ; but, granting a' thae conditions, and as
lang as she's happy and keeps in her health, and behaves
hersel, I've nae objection to her staying at the Castle."
" Eh, Mrs Stewart, I'm glad ! " exclaimed Lady
" But ye dinna say a word yoursel, you monkey," said
the mother, drawing Katie forward. " Are ye no proud
o' being asked to stay wi' Lady Anne at the Castle 1 *
Katie made a long pause, though the anxious question-
ing eyes of Anne were upon her, and her mother's im-
perative fingers were beginning to tighten on her shoul-
der ; for Katie was wilful, and would neither be coaxed
nor coerced. At last her mingled feelings gained utter-
" I would like to be a lady," said Katie, stoutly resist-
ing her mother's endeavour to pull her a step forward ;
" but I like Bell, and I like the bumside — and you,
Well for Katie that she added the last clause — it
touched her mother's heart, and interrupted the anathema
which she was about to launch at the unoffending burn.
" Bell will be better without ye — ye did naething but
keep her idle ; and the bumside winna rin away — ye can
come and see it and me, Katie. We'll miss ye at hame,
for a' the little mischief ye are."
There was a slight quaver in Mrs Stewart's voice ; but
now Lady Betty rose, with that magnificent rustling
16 KATIE STEWART.
sound, which to Katie seemed so grand and awful, to
offer, with her own hand, a very little glass of wine.
In a corner near one of the windows, at an elaborately-
carved escritoire, sat another young lady, so very silent
that it was some time before you became aware of her
presence. Materials for some of the " fancy " works of
the time lay on a little table beside her, but at present
Lady Janet was writing, painfully copying some mea-
sured paragraphs out of one manuscript-book into another.
Lady Betty, the young head and ruler of the house, was
super-careful in " doing her duty" to her sisters ; so Janet,
now too old for writing copies, conscientiously spent
an hour every day, under Lady Betty's own superin-
tendence, in copying medicinal recipes to improve her
One end of the room was filled with a great book-case
of carved oak. On the other side stood a spinnet with
fragile legs and ornaments of ivory. The middle of the
apartment was carpeted, but round the sides you still saw
the beautifully clear waxed floor, in which the light
glimmered and unwary walkers slid. Great window-seats,
with heavy soft cushions covered with dark velvet, lined
the three windows at the other end, and an elaborate em-
broidered screen stood in the corner beside Lady Janet's
escritoire. The walls were wainscoated, polished and
glimmering like the floor, and some family portraits dark-
ened rather than enlivened the sombre colouring of the
room. But still it was a very grand room, and little Katie
Stewart trembled, even when bidden, to draw that tre-
mendous lumbering velvet footstool, which looked like
a family coach, to the fireside, and to sit down on it,
with her pretty head almost touching Lady Betty's
KATIE STEWART. 17
In the west room, which opens off this long dim gallery,
Lady Anne Erskine sits busied with some embroidery.
This apartment, too, is wainscoated, and has a slippery
waxed floor, only partially carpeted, and the window
is high up in the wall, and gives a singular prison-like
aspect to the room. The light slants full on the dark
head of Lady Anne, as she bends it very slightly over the
embroidery frame, which has been raised so high that she
may have light enough to work without much stooping.
Quite in shadow lies this space under the window ; but,
ii ear the middle of the room, the sunshine, streaming in
from the western sky, makes a strong daguerreotype of
the heavy massive frame and little panes of the casement.
In this shady place stands Katie Stewart, holding a book
high up in both her hands to reach the light. She is
fourteen now, and as tall as she will ever be, which is not
saying much ; but those blue sunny eyes, earnestly lifted
to the elevated book, are as exuberant in light and mirth
as ever, and are, indeed, such overflowing dancing eyes as
one seldom sees in any other than an Irish face. Her hair
has grown a little longer, and is no more permitted to
stray about her white brow in golden rings, but is shed
behind her ears, and put in ignoble thraldom. And,
with all its infant beauty undiminished, the face has not
lost the petulant wilful expression of its earlier childhood
— the lips pout sometimes still, the soft forehead contracts
— but tall, awkward, good Lady Anne looks down from
her high seat upon little Katie, and watches the pretty
changeful features with the quick observation of love.
The dress of both is considerably improved, for Katie
18 KATIE STEWART.
now wears a fine woollen stuff called crape, and Lady
Anne's gown is silk. With a point before and a point
behind, the dresses fit closely round the waist, and the
sleeves are short, and terminate at the elbow with a cuff
of fine snow-white linen. Lean and unhandsome are the
arms of the quick -growing tall Lady Anne ; but Katie's are
as round and white as Anne's are angular, and look all the
better for want of the long black lace gloves which her
It is a very elaborate piece of embroidery this, over
which Lady Anne bends, and has been the burden and
oppression of four or five years bygone ; for Lady Betty,
who has had her full share in spoiling Katie Stewart,
rigidly " does her duty " to her own young sister ; and
Anne has been forced to do her duty, and her embroidery
too, many a fair hour, while Katie did little more than
idle by her side.
But now hold up higher still, that it may catch the
receding, fainter-shining light, this precious quarto, little
Katie. Not very many books are to be had in Kellie
Castle which the young ladies much appreciate — all the
dearer is this Gentle Shepherd; and Lady Anne's em-
broidery goes on cheerfully as the sweet little voice at her
side, with a considerable fragrance of Fife in its accent,
reads aloud to her the kindly old-fashioned obsolete book.
It was not old-fashioned then ; for Lady Betty's own
portrait, newly painted, represents her in the guise of a
shepherdess, and little Katie sings songs about crooks
and reeds, and Amintas and Chloes who " tend a few
sheep," and the sentiment of the time sees poetry only
in Arcadia. So the two girls read their Allan Eamsay,
and fancy there never was a story like the Gentle
Now it darkens, and higher and higher little Katie
KATIE STEWART. 19
holds her book ; but that daguerreotype on the floor of
the bright window-panes, and strong marked bars of their
frame, fades and grows faint ; — and now Lady Anne not
unwillingly draws her needle for the last time througli the
canvas, and little Katie elevates herself on tiptoe, and
contracts her sunny brows With earnest gazing on the great
dim page. Softly steps the Lady Anne from her high
seat — softly, lest she should interrupt the reader, stirs
the slumbering fire, till half-a-dozen dancing flames leap
up and fill the room with ruddy wavering light. So
linger no longer to catch that dubious ray from the win-
dow, little Katie, but, with one light bound, throw your-
self by the side of this bright hearth, and slant your great
Allan Ramsay in the close embrace of your soft arms ;
while the good Lady Anne draws a low chair to the
other side of the fire, and, clasping her hands in her
lap, peacefully listens, and looks at the reader and the
You need no curtain for that high window — and now
the strong bars of the casement mark themselves out
against the clear frosty blue of the March sky, and stars
begin to shine in the panes. A strange aspect the room
has with those dark glimmering walls, and this uncur-
tained window. Deep gloomy corners shadow it all
round, into which the fire sends fitful gleams, invading
the darkness ; and the centre of the room, between the
hearth and the opposite wall, is ruddy and bright. Lady
Anne, with her thin long arms crossed on her knee, sits
almost motionless, reclining on her high-backed chair, and
looking at Katie ; while Katie, with one hand held up to
shield her flushed face, embraces Allan Eamsay closely
with the other, and reads. Neither of them, were they
not absorbed in this wonderful book, would like to sit in
the dark room alone with those mysterious shadowy cor-
20 KATIE STEWART.
ners, and that glimmering door slightly swaying to and
fro with the draught from the windy gallery. But they
are not here, these two girls ; they are out among the
summer glens and fields, beside the fragrant burnside with
Peggie, or on the hill with the Gentle Shepherd.
But there is a heavy foot in the passage, pacing along
towards the west room, and immediately the glimmering
door is thrown open, and with a resounding step enters
" Save us ! are ye a' in the dark, my lady ! " exclaimed
Bauby ; " never done yet wi' that weary book ; but I'll
tell you something to rouse ye, Lady Anne. I've laid
out Lady Betty's wedding -gown in the state chaumer,
and it's the grandest-looking thing ever ye saw. Lady
Betty hersel is in the drawing-room wi' my lord. If yo
want to see't afore it's on, ye maun gang now."
Lady Anne was docile, and rose at once. " Come,
Katie," she said, holding out her hand as Bauby pro-
ceeded to light the lamp.
Bat Katie contracted her brows, and clung to her
book. " I want to see about Peggie. Never mind Lady
Betty's gown ; we'll see it the morn, Lady Anne."
" Do what you're bidden, Miss Katie," advised Bauby
Eodger, in an imperative tone.
" What I'm bidden ! I'm no Lady Anne's maid, like
you," retorted Katie.
" Nobody means that ; never mind Bauby," said Lady
Anne, entreatingly. "I would do anything you asked
me, Katie ; will you come now for me 1 "
Again the sunny brows contracted — the little obstinate
hand held fast by the book — and then Katie suddenly
sprang to her feet. " I'll do what you want me, Lady
Anne — I'll aye do what you want me — for you never
KATIE STEWART. 21
The lamp was lighted by this time, and fully revealed
Katie's flushed face to the scrutiny of Bauby Bodger.
" Oh, Miss Katie, the like o' that ! " exclaimed the
careful guardian : " such a face wi' sitting on the fire !
And what would Lady Betty say to me, think ye, if she
saw it, for letting ye get sae muckle o' your ain
Katie made no answer ; she only pulled, half in mirth,
half in anger, a lock of very red hair which had escaped
from under Bauby's close cap, and then, taking Lady
Anne's hand, hurried her away at quite an undignified
pace, singing as she went, " To daunton me, to daunton
me," in defiance.
" Ane canna be angry at that bairn," said Bauby to
herself, as she bundled up the stray tress unceremoniously
under her cap ; " she has mair spunk in her little finger
than Lady Anne has in a' her book, and she's a mis-
chievous ill-deedy thing ; but yet a body canna but like
the little ane. Pity them that have the guiding o' her
when she comes to years, for discreet years she'll never
Whereupon Bauby, to console herself, caught up the
distant music which she heard passing through the long
gallery ; and being a desperate Jacobite, and traitor to
the established government, sang with energy the con-
cluding verse —
" To see King James at Edinburgh Cross
Wi' fifty thousand foot and horse,
And the usurper forced to ilee,
Oh that is what maist would Avanton me ! "
In the chamber of state a lamp was burning, which
revealed Lady Betty's wedding-gown, radiant in its rich
stiff folds, spread at full length upon the bed for the in
spection of the new-comers. But at the foot of the bed.
22 KATIE STEWART.
leaning upon the heavy massy pillar which supported
the faded splendour of its canopy, stood a figure very
unlike the dress. It was Lady Janet Erskiue, now a tall,
pale, rather graceful young woman of two-and-twenty —
of a grave, kind temper, whose quietness hid very deep
feelings. Lady Janet's arms were clasped about the
pillar on which she leaned, and her slight figure shook
with convulsive sobs. As the girls entered, she hurriedly
untwined her arms, and turned away, but not before the
quick observant Katie had seen her eyes red with weep-
ing, and discovered the uncontrollable emotions, which
could scarcely be coerced into absolute silence, even for
the moment which sufficed her to hasten from the room.
" Eh, Katie, is it not bonnie 1 " said Lady Anne.
Katie replied not, for her impatient, curious, petulant
mind burned to investigate the mystery ; and the sym-
pathies of her quick and vivid nature were easily roused.
Katie did not care now for the wedding-gown ; the sad
face of Lady Janet was more interesting than Lady
Betty's beautiful dress.
But a very beautiful dress it was. Eich silk, so thick
and strong that, according to the vernacular description,
it could " stand its lane ; " and of a delicate colour, just
bright and fresh enough to contrast prettily Avith the
elaborate white satin petticoat which appeared under the
open robe in front. At the elbows were deep graceful
falls of rich lace ; but Katie scarcely could realise the
possibility of the grave Lady Betty appearing in a costume
so magnificent. She was to appear in it, however, no
later than to-morrow : for to-morrow the wise young head
of the household was to go away, and to be known no
more as Lady Betty Erskine, but as Elizabeth Lady
Colville. The intimation of this approaching change
had been a great shock to all in Kellie ; but now, in the
KATIE STEWART. 23
excitement of its completion, the family forgot for the
moment how great their loss was to be.
"And to-morrow, Katie, is Lorclie's birthday," said
Lady Anne, as they returned to the west room.
On the low chair which Lady Anne had left by the
fireside, the capacious seat of which contained the whole
of his small person, feet and all, reposed a child with
hair artificially curled round his face, and a little mannish
formal suit, in the elaborate fashion of the time.
" The morn's my birthday," echoed the little fellow.
"Mamma's to gie me grand cakes, and I'm to wear a
braw coat and a sword, and to be Lord Colville's best
man; for Lord Colville will be my uncle, Katie, when
he marries Auntie Betty."
" Whisht, Lordie, you're no to speak so loud," said
"What way am I no to speak so loud 1 ? Mamma
never says that — just Auntie Anne and Auntie Janet ;
but I like you, Katie, because you're bonnie."
" And Bauby says you're to marry her, Lordie, when
you grow a man," said Lady Anne.
"Ay, but mamma says no; for she says Katie's no a
grand lady, and I'm to marry naebody but a grand lady ;
but I like Katie best for all that."
" I wouldna marry you," retorted the saucy Katie ;
"for I'll be a big woman, Lordie, when you're only a
" Bauby says you'll never be big. If you were as old
as Auntie Betty, you would aye be wee," said the little
Katie raised her hand menacingly, and looked fierce.
The small Lord Erskine burst into a loud fit of laughter.
He, too, was a spoiled child.
" I'll be five the morn," continued the boy ; " and I'm
24 KATIE STEWART.
to be the best man. I saw Auntie Janet greeting. What
makes her greet 1 "
" Lordie, I wish you would speak low ! " exclaimed
" Mamma says I'm to be Earl of Kellie, and I may
speak any way I like," returned the heir.
" But you shanna speak any way you like 1 " cried the
rebellious Katie, seizing the small lord with her soft little
hands, which were by no means destitute of force. "You
shanna say anything to vex Lady Janet ! "
"What for ? " demanded Lordie, struggling in her grasp.
" Because I'll no let you," said the determined Katie.
The spoiled child looked furiously in her face, and
struck out with his clenched hand ; but Katie grasped
and held it fast, returning his stare with a look which
silenced him. The boy began to whimper, and to appeal
to Lady Anne ; but Lady Anne, in awe and admiration,
looked on, and interfered not, fervently believing that
never before had there been such a union of brilliant
qualities as now existed in the person of Katie Stewart.
" But what makes Lady Janet greet 1 " Katie could not
answer the question to her own satisfaction.
Poor Lady Janet ! A certain Sir Robert had been for
a year or two a constant visitor at Kellie ; his residence
was at no great distance ; and he had lost no opportunity
of recommending himself to the quiet, intense Janet
KATIE STEWART. 25
Erskine. He was a respectable, average man ; hand-
some enough, clever enough, attractive enough, to make
his opportunities abundantly sufficient for his purpose ;
and for a while Lady Janet had been very happy. But
then the successful Sir Eobert began to be less assiduous,
to come seldom, to grow cold ; and Janet drooped and
grew pale uncomplainingly, refusing, with indignation,
to confess that anything had grieved her. The Earl had
not noticed the progress of this affair, and now knew no
reason for his daughter's depressed spirits and failing
health ; while Lady Betty, sadly observing it all, thought
it best to take no open notice, but rather to encourage
her sister to overcome an inevitable sorrow.
But the Lady Erskine, Lordie's widowed mother,
thought and decided differently. At present she was
rather a supernumerary, unnecessary person in Kellie ;
for Lady Betty's judicious and firm hand held the reins
of government, and left her sister-in-law very little possi-
bility of interference. This disappointment of Janet's
was quite a godsend for Lady Erskine — she took steps
immediately of the most peremptory kind.
For hints, and even lectures, had no effect on Sir
Eobert, when she applied them. Less and less frequent
became his visits — paler and paler grew the cheeks of
Janet, and Lady Erskine thought she w T as perfectly
justified in her coup-de-main.
So she wrote to an honourable military Erskine, who,
knowing very little about his younger sister, did per-
fectly agree with his brother's widow, that a good settle-
ment for Janet was exceedingly desirable, and that an
opportunity for securing it was by no means to be
neglected. She wrote — he came, and with him the crisis
of Janet Erskine's fate.
Eor the wavering Sir Eobert and the hastv brother
26 KATIE STEWART.
had some private conversation ; and thereafter Sir Robert
sought his forsaken lady, and, by his changed manner,
revived for a little her drooping heart ; but then a strange
proposal struck harshly on Lady Janet's ear. Her brother,
to Sir Robert's great resentment and indignation, had
interfered ; and to put an end to this interference, all the
more intolerable for its justice, the tardy wooer proposed
that their long -delayed marriage should be hurried —
immediate — secret ; and that she should leave Kellie
with him that very night, "that there may be no col-
lision between your brother and myself." Fatal words
these were, and they sank like so many stones into Janet
And for this the little loud spoiled Lordie had seen
her weeping — for this Katie had observed those terrible
sobs. The poor fated Lady Janet ! — thus compelled to
take the cold and reluctant hand so suddenly urged upon
her, yet feeling more than ever that the heart was lost.
To elope, too — to mock the wild expedient of passion
with these hearts of theirs — the one iced over with in-
difference, the other paralysed with misery. It was a
And if she hesitated — if she refused — then, alas ! to
risk the life of the impatient brother — the life of the
cold Sir Robert — to lose the life of one. So there was
no help or rescue for her, wherever she looked ; and,
with positive anguish throbbing in her heart, she pre-
pared for her flight.
It is late at night, and Katie Stewart is very wakeful,
and cannot rest. Through her little window look the
stars, seyere and pale ; for the sky is frosty, clear, and
cold. Katie has lain long, turning to meet those un-
wearying eyes her own wide - open wakeful ones, and
feeling very eerie, and just a little afraid — for certainly
KATIE STEWART. 27
there are steps in that gallery without, though all the
house has been hushed and at rest for more than one
So, in a sudden paroxysm of fear, which takes the
character of boldness, Katie springs from her little bed,
and softly opens the door. There are indeed steps in
the gallery, and Katie, from her dark corner, sees two
stealthy figures creeping towards the stair from the door
of Lady Janet's room. But Katie's fright gradually sub-
sides, and melts into wonder, as she perceives that Bauby
Rodger, holding a candle in her hand, and walking with
such precaution as is dreadful to see, goes first, and that
it is quite impossible to prevent these heavy steps of
hers from making some faint impression on the silence.
And behind her, holding up with fingers which tremble
sadly the heavy folds of that long riding-skirt, is not that
Lady Janet 1 Yery sad, as if her heart were breaking,
looks Lady Janet's face ; and Katie sees her cast wistful,
longing glances towards the closed door of Lady Betty's
room. Alas ! for there peacefully, with grave sweet
thoughts, unfearing for the future, untroubled for the
past, reposes the bride who shall go forth with honour
on the morrow ; while here, with her great grief in her
face, feeling herself guilty, forsaken, wishing nothing so
much as to close her eyes this night for ever, pauses her
innocent unhappy sister — a bride also, and a fugitive.
And so the two figures disappear down the stair.
Cold, trembling, and afraid, Katie pauses in her corner.
But now the gallery is quite dark, and she steals into
her room again, where at least there are always the stars
looking in unmoved upon her vigils ; but it is a very
restless night for Katie.
Very early, when the April morning has not fairly
dawned, she is up again, — still interested, still curious,
28 KATIE STEWART.
eager to discover what ails Lady Janet, and where she
The hall below is quite still ; no one is yet up in the
castle, important as this day is ; and Katie steals down
the great staircase, on a vague mission of investigation.
Upon a little table in the hall, under those huge antlers
which frown so ghost-like in the uncertain morning light,
stands the candlestick which Bauby Eodger carried last
night ; and as Katie's curiosity examines the only tangible
sign that what she saw was real, and not a dream, and
sees that the candle in it has burnt down to the socket
and wasted away, she hears a step behind her — although
Katie recoils with some fear when she beholds again the
" What gars ye rise sae early ?" exclaimed Bauby, with
some impatience. " It's no your common way, Katie
Stewart. Eh me ! eh me ! " added the faithful servant
of Kellie, looking at the candlestick, and wringing her
"What ails ye, Bauby?"
" It's been loot burn down to the socket — and it's a'
my wyte ! Gude forgie me ! — how was I to mind a'
thing ? The light's burnt out \ but ye dinna ken what
that means. And what gars ye look at me, bairn, wi'
sic reproachfu' een % "
" What does't mean, Bauby ? " asked Katie Stewart.
" It's the dead o' the house — this auld house o' Kellie,"
said Bauby, mournfully. "When a light's loot waste
down to the socket, and die o' itsei', it's an emblem o'
the house. The race maun dwine away like the light,
and gang out in darkness. Oh that it hadna been my
blame ! "