about the house at this hour at e'en, as soon as ever
Lady Betty's away."
"It's me, Bauby," indignantly interrupted the little belle.
" It's you 1 Bless me, Miss Katie, wha was to ken in
the dark 1 ? Come in-by, like a guid bairn. Lady Anne's
been wearying sair, and so has Lordie â but that cuttie
" She canna hear ye â never heed her. Bauby, is the
Lady in the west room ? "
"JSTa â nae fears o' her; she's in her bed â the best
place for her," said Bauby, who by no means admired
the Lady Erskine. "And here's me, that might have
been Lady Colville's ain woman, serving an unthankfu'
mistress, that doesna ken folk's value ; but I did it a' for
you, bairns â a' for Lady Anne and you, Katie Stewart â
or I wouldna have bidden a day at Kellie, and my ain
guid mistress away."
" But didna Lady Betty ask ye, Bauby 1 "
" Ay, she asked me ; but I didna behove to do it, for
a' that, unless I had likit ; and weel Lady Betty kent I
didna like ; but for the sake of Lady Anne and you " â
and Bauby lifted her apron to her eyes â " Lady Janet
away, and Lady Betty away, and no a body loot do their
ain pleasure in a' the house. Here's me, stayed for nae
ither reason but to mind her, and I'm no to be Lady
Anne's maid after a' ! "
" Eh, Bauby ! "
"It's as sure as I'm living; and Lady Anne's that
quiet a thing hersel, that ane never kens whether she
wants ane or no ; and she hasna the spunk to say right
out that she'll hae naebody but me ! "
44 KATIE STEWART.
" But she has, though," said Katie Stewart ; " yes, she
has â or if she hasna, I'll make her, Bauby."
" Weel, dinna get up wi' that bit passion o' yours.
Ye're a guid bairn â ye make folk do what you like, Miss
Katie ; but gang away up the stair now, and ye'll get
milk-sowens to your supper, and I'll serve you in the
west room mysel."
Eagerly Katie sprang up-stairs, and went bounding
along the dark gallery, full of her commission, and deter-
mined that Bauby Kodger, and none but she, let Lady
Erskine struggle as she would, should be Lady Anne's
Little Lord Erskine (whose name of Lordie had its
origin in Bauby's exclamation, uttered when she carried
him up the great staircase on his arrival at Kellie, that
he was a wee wee Lordie, without doubt) sat again on
the low chair in front of the fire in the west room. The
seat was so large that, as the child leaned back on it, his
small feet in their silver-buckled shoes were just on a
level with the edge of the chair. By his side, in a corner,
sat the quiet Lady Anne, vainly trying to reduce his tone,
and preserve her hair and dress from his hands ; but
Lordie set himself firmly on his seat, and tugged at her
lace ruffles, and threatened instant destruction to the
hair, which the tall, full-grown girl already began to
have combed up into a tower, as mature people wore it
at the time. A faint remonstrance now and then was all
that Lady Anne could utter : the young gentleman kept
up the conversation himself.
"What way is Katie Stewart staying so long? What
way do you let her stay, Aunt Anne 1 Mamma wouldna
let her ; and I want Katie Stewart â I dinna like you â
I want Katie Stewart ! "
" And you've gotten Katie Stewart, Lordie," exclaimed
KATIE STEWART. 45
Katie, out of breath, as she laid her hands on his shoulders
and shook him slightly ; " but I couldna be so good to
you as Lady Anne is ; for if I was Lady Anne I would
" Naebody daur lick meâ for I'll be the Earl of Keilie,"
" You're only a little bairn," said Katie Stewart.
" Ay, but he will be the Earl of Kellie, Katie," said
Lady Anne, drawing herself up with a little family pride.
"Lordie will be the sixth Earl, and the chief of the
" But if he's no a guid bairn, he'll be an ill man," said
Katie, meditatively, leaning upon the back of the chair,
and looking down upon the spoiled child ; " and a' the
grand gentlemen in books are grand in their manners,
and aye speak low, and bow ; and the Master of Colville
did that when Lady Eetty was married, and so did the
English gentleman ; but Lordie aye speaks as loud, and
makes as muckle noise, as Eobert Tosh's bairns in Arn-
" You forget who you're speaking to, Katie Stewart,"
said Lady Anne.
Katie was flushed with her walk, and her hooded
mantle hung half off her little handsome figure, as she
bent her head over Lordie's chair, with her face bright,
animated, and full of expression ; but withdrawn in the
corner sat the pale Lady Anne, her tall thin figure drawn
up, and her homely features looking less amiable than
ordinary, through the veil of this unusual pride. Brightly
the firelight sparkled in Katie's sunny hair and shining
eyes, but left in the shadow, cold and pale, the colourless
face of her young patroness.
Katie looked up, as children do when they cannot
understand that you mean to reprove them â with a half-
46 KATIE STEWA11T.
wondering smile ; a check of any kind was so unusual
to her. Lady Anne's face was averted, and the little
favourite began to comprehend that she had offended
her. But Katie did not flinch â she fixed her eyes full
on the face of her noble friend.
" Lady Anne ! Bauby Eodger says she's no to be
your maid, though she stayed at Kellie for naething else
but because she wanted to serve you ; but the Lady
winna let her, unless you take it up and say it yoursel."
Slowly Lady Anne's head turned â slowly her eyelids
rose to meet the bright kindly gaze fixed upon her, and
her pride melted like mist.
" I never meant to be angry, Katie," said the penitent.
" But will ye speak to the Lady about Bauby, Lady
Anne 1 ? For Bauby will leave the Castle, if she's no to
" I never thought Bauby cared for me : they're all like
Lordie," said Lady Anne. "Lordie says he wants you,
Katie â it's never me ; they all want Katie Stewart."
" No me," cried little Katie, sliding down to the carpet
at her friend's feet. " Whiles I would like no to be aye
with mysel, but I could aye be with you â if you wanted
me, Lady Anne."
The good Lady Anne ! She laid her hand caressingly
on Katie's pretty head, and smoothed the hair in which
the light shone as in gold ; for Lady Anne did not re-
quire so much as Isabell Stewart : she was content with
the kindliness of this little simple heart.
KATIE STEWART. 47
" I wouldna say but it may be dark before we're hamo,
Isabell," said Mrs Stewart. "I baena been in Colins-
burgb mysel, ye see, this year ; and your faitber has twa-
tbree odd things to look after ; and Janet â shell be in
some foolishness before we get within sight o' biggit
land; but I'll make Merran be back by six or seven, and
we'll no be very late oursels."
The little house-mother stood at the door, equipped
for her journey to the market-town of Colinsburgh, which
was some three or four miles off. The day was a cold
November one, and there were various mists about the
sky, prophesying very probable rain ; but it was the day
of the half-yearly market, and scarcely " an even-down
pour" could have kept back Janet. Very bright and
picturesque looked Mrs Stewart's comfortable warm dress.
The gown was of thick linsey-wolsey â the waft blue
wool â the warp white linen, every thread of which had
been spun on these several wheels, big and little, in the
family room. As usual, the gown was open, and dis-
played an under petticoat of the same material, which
gave as much bulk and substance to the little woman's
skirts as if she had been a modern belle. But the skirts
of that period were short enough to make visible a pair
of neat feet clothed in white woollen stockings and silver,
buckled high-heeled shoes. A black velvet hood, snugly
and closely encircling her comely face, and covering all
but the edge of the snow-white lace which bordered her
cap, and a plaid of bright crimson, completed her dress.
It was her Sabbath-day's dress, and Mrs Stewart felt
that it was handsome, and became her.
48 KATIE STEWART.
Janet and Merran had gone on before. John, with
the broad bonnet of black cloth, which, as an elder, and,
moreover, as a man of substance making pretensions to
something " aboon the common," he wore on Sabbaths
and festivals, stood at the mill-door giving directions to
his man, and waiting for his wife. Mrs Stewart left the
door slightly ajar as she went away ; but, bethinking her
when she was half-way down the garden path, suddenly
stepped back on the broad flat stone which lay before
the threshold, and looked in to say a parting word to her
" Isabell ! keep the door shut, my woman. Let in
nae gangrel folk ; and see ye hae naebody standing here
havering nonsense when your faither and me come hame."
So saying, and this time peremptorily closing the door
after her, Mrs Stewart joined her husband, and they
The fire is made up â the hearth as clean as Merran' s
hands could make it; and a dim glimmer on the opposite
wall shows you the little dark-complexioned mirror, at
which Merran has just equipped herself for the fair.
The window at the other end of the apartment, with the
clean well- scoured deal-table before it, and a wooden
chair standing primly on either side, looks cold, and
remote, and like another apartment ; while the arrange-
ments of the rest of the kitchen give you the impression
that everybody is out, and that the house is vacant. A
great piece of coal, calculated to burn till they all come
back, and only surrounded with a border of red, fills the
grate ; and the cat winks so close to the lowest bar, that
you see there can be no great heat on the hearth. The
glistening doors of the oak aumrie are closed â every
stool, every chair, is in its proper place ; and only one
sound disturbs the surrounding silence without or within.
KATIE STEWART. 49
A low, humming, musical soundâ at present somewhat
slow and languid â the soft birr of the wheel at which
Isabell sits, drawing the fine yarn through her hand, and
with her slight figure swaying forward now and then a
little, as she turns the wheel with her foot. There is
very little colour, very little light in her face, as she
droops it, with a melancholy grace, over her graceful
work. You can discern, at first, that there is anything
living at all in the apartment, only by the soft lulling
sound of the wheel ; and so she knows the pain in her
heart only by the murmur it sends â a low inarticulate
cry, which rather expresses, than complains of, the pang
within â sighing through all her thoughts.
They have left her alone â she is alone in all the world,
this poor Isabell. They have no intention of neglect â
no wish to wound or slight her; but they think she should
claim pleasures for herself â should boldly take considera-
tion like Janet, or laugh at the lack of it. But the shy
Isabell can do none of these. She has come to think
herself of so little account, that if she had stretched out
her hand to receive some envied gift, and any other
claimant did but appear, she would shrink back and lose
it. They think she does not care for the usual pleasures
of youth â they cannot understand how she should care,
and yet hold back with that shy reserve continually.
So they leave her alone, and think it is her choice, aud
are not concerned about the sadness which they do not
comprehend ; and Isabell, feeling like old Matthew â she
was no poet, or she might have said these touching words,
long before Wordsworth said them â
" Many love me, yet by none
Am I enough beloved " â â
remains alone continually, and bears it as she may.
50 KATIE STEWART.
At present there is a quiet, sad wonder in this veiled
and secret heart of hers. She cannot tell how it is that
she has "been put back from the warm tide of life, and
made a lay figure in the scene where every other one has
some part to play. She thinks â and as she thinks the
tears gather slowly into her eyes â that she herself, left
here alone, is as lovable as the loud Janet, now gaily on
her way to the town. It is not either vanity or envy
which prompts these thoughts; nor do they utter the
weak sighs of self-pity : only a painful consciousness that
she has the qualities which, in ordinary cases, produce
affection and regard, makes Isabellas heart heavy within
her. She wants something â some strange, mysterious
faculty of being loved, which others have ; and there is
a yearning in her, which will not be persuaded into
And so, as she sits and spins, the afternoon wears on.
Now and then a fragment of some plaintive song steals
over her lip, half said, half sung ; for the rest, Isabell
sits motionless and silent, while the yarn grows on the
pirn, and the wheel hums softly under her hand. But
the room begins to brighten as the grey sky grows darker
without ; for the mass of coal has reddened, and sends
off flashes of cheery light, which glimmer in Merran's
little glass on the wall, and in the glistening aumric
doors ; and unconsciously Isabell moves her seat into the
brighter circle which the happy fire enlightens, and the
warm glow casts a ruddy shadow on her cheek, and the
wheel hums with a quicker sound : while darker and
darker, towards the evening, grows the eastern sky, and
even in the west you can see little trace that the sun
there has gone down into the sea.
She has paused for a moment in her work, and the
wheel ceases to hum. What sound is that, which seems
KATIE STEWART. 51
to wander about the house â now nearer, now more dis-
tant 1 " The East Neuk of Fife " very certainly, whistled
by some one whose whistling powers are by no means
inconsiderable ; and suddenly Isabell's fingers fall again
on the wheel, and it almost shrieks under her touch as it
flies round and round.
A shadow on the further window ! A head bending
under the great boughs of the apple-tree, to look in ; and
now the whistling suddenly ceases, and a footstep begins
to make itself audible, hastily approaching ; and over the
quick song of her wheel, and over this other sound with-
out, Isabell hears the beating of her heart.
Lift the latch, neighbour ; there are no envious keys
or bolts to bar the entrance to this peaceful house ; and
now it is well, with natural delicacy, to leave the door a
little ajar, so that sometimes the voice of the man at the
mill may assure the young dweller at home that some
one is very close at hand. Pleasantly now the sounds
blend and mingle in this place, which was so still an
hour ago ; the burn without, ringing soft silvery bells
into the night; the mill-wheel rustling, not too swiftly;
the spinning-wheel adding its lady's voice ; and on the
threshold, the hasty foot â the eager, shy hand upon the
latch of the opened door.
Just within the firelight now stands Philip Landale,
and again his hands are busy with his riding-whip, and
his eyes cast down upon it, as he says those tremulous
usual words of greeting â usual words ; but they might
be Arabic for anything either of the two know of them.
But by-and-by Philip Landale's whip shakes in his
hand, and strangely hums the wheel of Isabell â now
violent and swift â now low and trembling, like a breeze
at night in spring â and now altogether it has ceased.
Ceased ; and there is no sound in the apartment but
52 KATIE STEWART.
the words of one hurried voice â the beating of two loud
hearts. The firelight flickers on Isabell's cheek, which
of itself now, dim as it was before, could make the dark-
ness radiant, and her idle arm leans on the wheel, so
that its support shakes under it ; and the whip has fallen
from the hand of young Kilbrachmont, as he stands before
her, speaking those wonderful words.
The first â the best â the most dear : there is one in
the world, then, who thinks her so ; and the tears fall
heavy from her eyes upon her leaning arm, and her heart
is sick for very joy.
Is it true? Look up again, and hear it; and the
darkness passes out of your eyes, Isabell, and you begin
to trust in the tenderness of others. Thus feels one â
one whom you doubted â and now your heart grows brave
in its new warmth, and you can trust all the world â can
The darkness grows, but these two do not see it. The
mill-wheel rustles on ; the burn sings to itself in the
darkness ; and loudly now whistles the millers man, as
he stands at the mill-door, looking out over the Colins-
burgh road, in the vain hope of seeing the flitting lantern,
or hearing voice or step to warn him of his master's re-
turn. But no sound salutes the listening ears of Robert
Moulter; no sound â not even those near and kindly
ones â disturbs the blessedness within.
" Leddy Kilbrachmont ! Weel, John, my man, she might
have done waur â muckle waur ; but I seena very weel
how she could have bettered hersel. A young, wiselike,
gallant-looking lad, and a very decent lairdship â anither
thing frae a doited auld man."
" Weel, wife," said John Stewart, ruefully scratching
his head â " weel, I say naething against it in itsel ; but
will ye tell me what I'm to say to the Beelye ? "
" Ay, John, that will I/' returned the house-mother.
" Tell him to take his daughter's bairn out o' its cradle,
puir wee totum, and ask himsel what he has to do wi' a
young wife â a young wife ! and a bonnie lass like our
Isabell ! Man, John, to think, wi' that muckle body o'
yours, that you should have sae little heart ! ISTae wonder
ye need muckle coats and plaids about ye, you men ! for
ne'er a spark o' light is in the hearts o' ye, to keep ye
" Weel, weel, Isabell ; the mair cause ye should gie me
a guid dram to keep the chill out," said the miller ; " and
ye'll just mind ye were airt and pairt, and thocht mair of
the Beelye' s bein dwellin' and braw family than ever I
did ; but it's aye your way â ye put a' the blame, when
there is blame, on me."
" Haud your peace, guidman," said Mrs Stewart.
" Whiles I am drawn away wi! your reasonings against
my ain judgment, as happens to folk owre easy in their
temper, whether they will or no â I'll no deny that ; but
nae man can say I ever set my face to onything that
would have broken the heart o' a bairn o' mine. Take
your dram, and gang away wi' your worldly thochts to
54 KATIE STEWART.
your worldly business, John Stewart ; if it wasna foi
you, I'm sure ne'er a tkocht o' pelf would enter my
" Eh, guidwife ! " It was all that the miller's astonish-
ment could utter. He was put down. With humility he
took the dram, and softly setting his glass on the table,
went out like a lamb to the mill.
" Lady Kilbrachmont ! and Janet, the glaikit gilpie,
taking up wi' a common man ! " said Mrs Stewart, un-
consciously pushing aside the pretty wheel, the offering
of the " wright " in Arncreoch. " Weel, but what maun
I do 1 If Isabell gangs hame to her ain house, and Janet
âJanet's a guid worker â far mair use about a house like
ours than such a genty thing as Bell â Janet married, too
â what's to come o' me? I'll hae to bring hame Katie
frae the Castle."
" Muckle guid ye'll get o' Katie, mother," said Janet,
who, just then coming in from the garden, with an armful
of cold, curly, brilliant greens, had heard her mother's
soliloquy. " If ye yokit her to the wheel like a powny,
she wouldna spin the yarn for Isabell's providing in half-
a-dozen years ; and no a mortal turn besides could Katie
do in a house, if ye gied her a' the land between this and
"And wha askit you?* counsel V said the absolute
sovereign of Kellie Mill. " If I'm no sair trysted wi' my
family, there never was a woman : first, your faither â
and muckle he kens about the rule o' a household ; and
syne you, ye taupie â as if Isabell's providing was yet tc
spin ! To spin, said she 1 and it lying safe in the oak
press up the stair, since ever Bell was a wee smout o' a
bairn. And yours too, though ye dinna deserve it ; â ay,
and little Katie's as weel, as the bonnie grass on the
burnside could have tellt ye twal year ago, when it was
KATIE STEWART. 55
white wi' yarn a' the simmer through, spun on a purpose-
like wheel â a thing fit for a woman's wark â no a toy for
a bit bairn. Gae way wi' you and your vanities. I would
just like to see, wi' a' your upsetting, ony ane o' ye bring
up a family as creditable as your mother."
Janet stole in to the table at the further window, and,
without a word, began to prepare her greens, which were
immediately to be added to the other contents of the great
pot, which, suspended by the crook, bubbled and boiled
over the fire ; for the moods of the house-mother were
pretty well known in her dominions, and no one dared to
lift up the voice of rebellion.
After an interval of silence, Mrs Stewart proceeded to
her own room, and in a short time reappeared, hooded
and plaided, testifying with those echoing steps of hers,
to all concerned, that she had again put on her high-
heeled gala shoes. Isabell was now in the kitdien,
quietly going about her share of the household labour,
and doing it with a subdued graceful gladness which
touched the mother's heart.
" I'm gaun up to Kellie, Bell, my woman," said Mrs
Stewart. " I wouldna say but we may need Katie at
hame ; ony way, I'll gang up to the Castle, and see what
they say about it. It's time she had a while at hame to
learn something purpose-like, or its my fear she'll be fit
for naething but to hang on about Lady Anne; and nae
bairn o' mine shall do that wi' my will. Ye'll set Merran
to the muckle wheel, Isabell, as soon as she's in frae the
field; and get that cuttie Janet to do some creditable
wark. If I catch her out o' the house when I come hame,
it'll be the waur for hersel."
" So ye're aye biding on at the Castle, Eauby 1 " said
Mrs Stewart, as, her long walk over, she rested in the
housekeeper's room, and greeted, with a mixture of fa-
56 KATIE STEWART.
miliarity and condescension, the powerful Bauby, who had
so long been the faithful friend and attendant of little
Katie Stewart. " Ye're biding on % I thocht you were
sure to gang wi' Lady Betty; and vexed I was to think
o' ye gaun away, that my bairn liket sae weel."
" I'll never lee, Mrs Stewart," said Bauby, confiden-
tially. " If it hadna just been Katie Stewart's sel, and
a thocht o' Lady Anne, puir thing, left her lee lane in the
house, I would as soon have gane out to the May to live,
as bidden still in Kellie Castle. But someway they have
grippet my heart atween them â I couldna leave the
" Aweel, Bauby, it was kind in ye," said the miller's
wife ; " but I'm in no manner sure that I winna take Katie
" Take Katie away â eh, Mrs Stewart ! " And Bauby
lifted up her great hands in appeal.
" Ye see, her sister Isabell is to be married soon," said
the important mother, rising and smoothing down her
skirts. "And now I'm rested, Bauby, I'll thank ye to
take me to Lady Anne's room."
The fire burned brightly in the Avest room, glowing in
the dark polished walls, and brightening with its warm
flush the clouded daylight which shone through the high
window. Again on her high chair, with her shoulders
fixed, so that she cannot stoop, Lady Anne sits at her em-
broidery frame, at some distance from the window, where
the slanting light falls full upon her work, patiently and
painfully working those dim roses into the canvas which
already bears the blossoms of many a laborious hour. Poor
Lady Anne ! People all her life have been doing their
duty to her â training her into propriety â into noiseless
decorum and high-bred manners. She has read the ' Spec-
tator' to improve her mind â has worked embroidery be-
KATIE STEWART. 57
cause it was her duty ; and sits resignedly in this steel
fixture now, because she feels it a duty too â a duty to the
world at large that Lady Anne Erskine should have no
curve in her shoulders â no stoop in her tall aristocratic
figure. But, in spite of all this, though they make her
stiff, and pale, and silent, none of these cares have at all
tarnished the gentle lustre of Lady Anne's good heart ;
for, to tell truth, embroidery, and prejudices, and steel
collars, though they cramp both body and mind a little,
by no means have a bad effect â or, at least, by no means
so bad an effect as people ascribe to them in these days â
upon the heart ; and there lived many a true lady then â
lives many a true lady now â to whom devout thoughts
have come in those dim hours, and fair fancies budded
and blossomed in the silence. It was very true that Lady