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Zlgnes & Bgerton Castle


Sserton Castle


















All rights reserved


Set up and electrotyped. Published February, 1908.


J. 8. Gushing Co. Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.







I. FLOWER o 1 THE ORANGE. {The period is the

early years of the last century) i





(1602) ........ 191

VI. POMONA. {The period is the early part of

Charles IPs reign) ...... 247


(Early Georgian) ...... 293




PERCHED high upon the southernmost headland of
Galloway ; looking down on the one side sheer from
the lip of the cliff upon the foaming fringe of Luce
Bay, and on the other upon the gently-sloping green
lands of woods and fat meadows, stands Eager-

The ancestral home of the Carmichaels is one of
those buildings peculiar to Scotland, which bear
the impress of every period of national history. Its
foundations rest within the forgotten mounds of
camps once Pictish, later Roman; the thick, tall,
square Peel, noted landmark to all sailers into Sol-
way Firth, still rises, but for the ivy of its walls and its
roof of more civilised contrivance, much as it did
while the middle ages and subsequent warlike cen-
turies rolled by.

Around this frowning pile, with the growth of
modern security, has likewise grown the comfort
of modern dwellings. The compact stronghouse


4 Flower 0' the Orange

has expanded into the mansion; the jealously
cleared and well-watched approaches have drifted
from the warder's care to that of the landscape
gardener, have become luxuriant with tall timber,
with varied underwood. Outlying walls inclose
high-tended gardens, and support exotic wall fruit.
And now, old and newer alike, everything about
Eagernesse has once more assumed the mellow-
ness of wealthy age.

From the topmost platform of the keep the view is
immense. When the sun is sinking, the Cumbrian
ranges stand out purple against the distant eastern
skies ; while to the south, Man, an island of amethyst,
melts away in a sea of grey silver. At the early hours,
when the rays are still level and cold, the heights of
the far Irish shore show faintly, steel blue, to the west.
And to the north, away beyond the rich coast land,
but almost at hand, it would seem, stretch the grey
hills of Galloway in all their Scottish grimness. In
a fine light the eye, in fact, can reach across the
marches of three kingdoms. And as he gazes over
the proud view, the watcher can tell himself that in
the receding ages the blood of the masters of Eager-
nesse had flowed in the veins of many a ruler of those
fair lands ; and that, in these days of peace for
times will change and men with them wealth and

Flower o' the Orange 5

influence and wide connection yet maintains the name
of Carmichael as high in men's minds as did their
strong deeds of yore.

Many strange scenes have, in the course of ages,
taken place under the tall roofs of Eagernesse
scenes of brutality, no doubt, often enough, or of
cunning; of triumph or tragedy for the race; some-
times of happiness.

Not always among the most strenuous, however, are
the scenes which prove the opening of a new drama
in the family fortunes. In a fashion homely enough
began such an one at the close of a boisterous March
day in the year '16 of the last century. It was in a
turret-room midway up the old Peel once keeping-
chamber of the castellans, now (in respect of its
situation, which is well out of the way of modern
apartments) devoted to nursery uses.

Old Meg, the housekeeper, and Mrs. Adams, the
grand English nurse, stood facing each other in one
of those pauses which in the heart of a storm precede
the fiercer outbreak. Between them the heir of
Eagernesse kept up his persistent cry :

"Want Mary-Nan!"

6 Flower o 1 the Orange

The bellow that had brought Meg Drummond
a-canter to the nursery had given place, at sight of an
ally, to a plaintive wail "a wail" (as she subse-
quently remarked) "that would have melted a heart
of stone."

But the person in authority stood firm alike against
genteel remonstrance and infantile sorrow, and after
the lull the gathering forces rushed into fresh colli-

"And, indeed, Mistress Adams," old Meg was
saying, "I'm no one for interfering, as I think you'll
do me the credit of conceding, these four weary years
that we've been together at Eagernesse hoping I
ken my duty to my master and her auld leddyship
who set ye in your place " Indescribably but
unmistakably did Meg convey how ill she deemed
that place filled. "But, seeing that I nursed his
father, aye, and served his grandfather before him,
I canna stand by and see harm done to the bairn.
It's no richt, Mistress Adams, mem, to gar him greet
that gate. 'Tis not for his health; ye'll be having
him sicken, and ony day his father might be stepping
in upon us. Whist, me lammie ! we'll have her up
till ye in a minute, so you'll be a gude laddie and take
your suppie milk!"

The sniffs, loud and prolonged, with which the

Flower o j the Orange 7

nurse had commented on the housekeeper's discourse,
now gave place to grating accents, sharply bitten off,
as it were, by lips that had as much capacity for ten-
derness in them as a steel-trap. A gaunt, flat-chested
woman, with long face, framed by sleek bands of
unnaturally black hair, with goffered cap and apron
repellent in starchy whiteness such was the nurse
whom Lady Ishbel Carmichael had selected for the
supreme charge of her little grandson.

Old Meg, who was of the well-cushioned type of
womanhood herself, yearning to a child with a kind
of melting greed, had very clear ideas as to whom
Eagernesse's mother should have confided Eager-
nesse's son. "But God forgie her," she would say,
with a shake of her white curls, "she canna forget
in the bairn the mither that bore him. Aye, he has
his mither's eyes, and the auld leddy could never bring
herself to take him to her bosom. 'But I'll do my
duty by him,' says she to me."

The dowager's sense of duty had taken the un-
pleasant form of Mrs. Adams : a disciplinarian of the
most rigid Christian character and the highest testi-
monials. With this worthy, old Meg strove honestly
to keep on the most polite, curtseying terms. But, as
on the present occasion, not infrequent were the lapses
in which, warm heart getting the better of decorum,

8 Flower o> the Orange

she was fain to make a whirlwind ascent into nursery
regions and to speak her mind efforts invariably
marked by conspicuous failure.

The steel-trap now snapped out its views on infant
education :

"Begging your pardon, Mrs. Drummond, I must
again request you not to infringe my rules by visiting
Master Carmichael at bedtime. Master Carmichael
has been very unruly. I have repeatedly informed
him that I cannot permit Miss Mackenzie to come
to the nursery to-night or indeed at any other

"Want Mary-Nan!" broke in Master Car-
michael, shaking the sides of his cot with little fierce

"I shall have to chastise you a second time, sir,"
said Mrs. Adams dispassionately.

She approached him with the bowl of hot milk
in one hand and with the other forcibly turned the
curly head. There was a struggle, a shout, an earth-
quake among the bedclothes ; the bowl rolled in one
direction, most of the milk ran streaming down Mrs.
Adams' aggressive apron, and Master CarmichaePs
howls were triumphant and desperate as befitted one
who in victory had sealed his doom.

The nurse removed her apron. Her hands shook

Flower 0' the Orange 9

a little, but the grey face betrayed no emotion.
Then she advanced upon the cot. Old Meg, in great
agitation, interposed her stout form.

"Nay, Mistress Adams, not in my presence, mem !
I'll no have a ringer laid on the blessed child the day.
Shame on ye, to call yourself a wumman ! If he
had the spirits of twenty, ye'd break them all !
Whisht, my lamb!"

The lamb, with the cunning of his kind, clung to
the ample bosom. "Want Mary-Nan !"

" Give me that child, Mrs. Drummond," said the
nurse with deadly self-control. She laid her grasp
on the dimpled wrist.

Young Eagernesse had good lungs ; he filled them
now with a mighty breath and mightily expended it.

"Hech, but ye're an awful wumman!" cried the
flustered Meg. The two were struggling for the child.

The door opened. A tall man strode into the
room and stood looking at them. At the sound of his
steps there was dead silence. Even the babe ceased
his outcry to fix round, wet eyes on the stranger.

"Lord be gude to us ! 'Tis Eagernesse himself !"

Meg stared a second or two helplessly at the gaunt
figure in the high boots, the furred travelling cloak.
Eagernesse ! But, merciful heavens, how these four
years had changed him, her bonny lad ! How dour

io Flower d 1 Ike Orange

and dark he looked, glowering at her from under
his bent brows !

They had not met since the dreadful night when
the lady of Eagernesse, frail, false wife, had deserted
husband and babe. And here was the wee creature
with a head of curls sunning all over, just like to hers

the poor foolish young thing his eyes, his
mother's own blue, and the very mouth of her, parted,
appealing. Many a time had she looked at those
that chid her with just such a droop of the lip.

Mistress Drummond had not even sufficient pres-
ence of mind to curtsey. She hesitated, helpless,
still clutching the sweet, warm burden. She longed
to place it in the father's arms; but courage failed
her, for she read memory in that brooding gaze.
And so, at last, miserably, she put the child back in
its cot and, still keeping cautiously between it and the
disciplinarian, quavered her greeting :

"Lord sakes, Eagernesse, and is it yourself?"
Her heart was sore. The master's home-coming

the hour she had dreamed of night and day through
the lonely, empty years to have it thus !

Exiled from the comfort of her embrace, Ronald
of the copper curls and the blue eyes lost his interest
in the new arrival and began to reflect on his own
woes again. The gaze of Mrs. Adams had a threat-

Flower 0' the Orange n

ening glitter as it roamed towards him. To his infant-
perspicacity it assured him, more distinctly than
words, that what is postponed is not forgotten.
And he wanted his Mary-Nan !

Simon Carmichael of Eagernesse had eyes of the
colour of one of his own burns, under rugged, frown-
ing brows. There was something not unkind, not un-
humorous in them, for those who could see beyond
the frown. His glance moved quickly now from his
old servant's quivering countenance to Mrs. Adams'
visage which wore a granite triumph, like to some
bleak Covenanter's monument, testifying to relentless
virtue. Then he looked at his child and then at
Meg once more.

"How now, you auld witch! And haven't you a
better welcome for me?"

The voice was harsh. There was no relaxation
about the melancholy mouth. But Meg knew her
master. Her heart leapt, tears sprang out upon her
apple cheeks.

"Hech, Eagernesse hech, my bonny man!"

She could utter no further word ; she was too full
of woe for him, minding all that had been, and too
fain to see him again.

"Fighting, screeching, scratching like a pair of
auld tabbies! Sic a hurdie-gurdie ! "

12 Flower c? the Orange

He took a step up to her, and the next instant she
was weeping on his hand, clasping it in both her

"Tush! You're nought but a fool!" said he.
He turned his eyes upon the child who was now re-
duced to the hoarse whine of exhaustion. "And so
yon's my bairn, Meg." His voice had altered subtly,
indescribably. Disengaging himself from her grasp,
he stretched out a finger and touched the wet velvet
of the babe's cheek. Little Eagernesse clutched at
the long finger with small fevered hands and was
shaken by a gusty sob :

"Want Mary-Nan!"

The father made no response; but, leaving his
hand in the satin-soft grip that, for all its fragility,
told of a will as indomitable as his own again
addressed his housekeeper with rough good-nature,
dropping as before into the familiarity of language
and accent that was to her the most flattering of com-

"You'll have to bustle, old lady. I've brought
a pack of fine gentlemen with me, and ye'll have to
get them bite and bed or be clean disgraced ! Nay,
never gorm at me that way ! There are sheep in the
park, there's wine in the cellar. Aye, they are crack-
ing a bottle or so in the library this minute and will

Flower o y the Orange 13

be none too particular over the meat by-and-by. And
I'll see to it that the heads that lie on your pillows
to-night will never sniff if they be musty."

The tears dried under the fire that mounted to Mrs.
Drummond's cheeks.

" Musty ! Gin ye brought home twenty gentlemen
as grand as yourself, Eagernesse, there'd be twenty
beds fit for them the night. And, troth, did ye think
when ye left me the head of a housefu' of servants all
these years that I'd let them eat the bread of idleness ?
There's a haunch in the larder below, aye and a sau-
mon that the King has no better. Hech, sir, there's
not a day since your flitting, and me not knowing
but the next would bring you hame again, that your
ain castle has not been kept ready for you reek
in the chimney, broth in the pot. Aye, and the very
orange trees thick with blossoms this verra day !"

No sooner had she said the last words than she
could have bitten her tongue out, remembering for
whom the orangery had been built.

"Mary-Nan," hiccoughed young Eagernesse.

" Be silent, Master Carmichael !" commanded Mrs.

She had been awaiting the master's recognition with
her air of unyielding rectitude. She knew the story
of his house, knew for what qualities the bitter grand-

14 Flower 0' the Orange

mother had chosen her among a hundred what evij
taint was to be driven from the little heir, even with
stripes. It was high time, indeed she smoothed
the prickly, black mohair skirt where the apron should
have spread that a man's hand should be wielded
upon the wilful boy.

"I am sorry to say, sir, that Master Carmichael
has been very disobedient to-night, very obstinate
and unsubmissive indeed."

The elder Carmichael shot a swift, flashing glance
at her out of his cairngorm eyes. Then he looked at
the over-turned milk-bowl, at the white pool on the
bare boards, and lastly at the bright-curled, hot-
cheeked criminal on the bed. The blue gaze looked
up at him brimming over. The baby hands kept
unflinching hold of his finger. Mrs. Drummond,
on her way about her household business, paused at
the door, shaking in her shoes. The master had
grown a dreadful dour-looking man.

"And what is Mary-Nan?" he asked, suddenly
and sharply.

Both women answered together:

"And, indeed, the puir bairn's just daft after

"She has a most deplorable influence upon Master
Carmichael "

Flower o' the Orange 15

"She's a verra gude kind young leddy, just the
daughter of the meenister "

"I should not be doing my duty, Mr. Carmichael,
sir, conformable to Lady Ishbel's instructions "

"She comes up whiles to have a crack with

"Master Carmichael's passionate and rebellious
nature demands the strictest discipline." The nurse's
measured tones outstayed old Meg's fluttered volu-
bility. "I have informed Master Carmichael of my
decision to prohibit any further intercourse between
him and Miss Mackenzie, and he has shown very
evil tempers, hearing she was in the house." Her
eye, with its menace, fixed itself upon the child. "I
have already chastised him for his passion to-day, and
have had to tell him that I shall repeat the chastise-
ment presently."

Here Eagernesse's finger was nipped and wrung;
but in the roar that burst from the accused, he was
aware more of thwarted fury than of fear.

"Where is this girl this Mary-Nan?"

Housekeeper and nurse stared at him, both striv-
ing in vain to read the impassive face. Then Mrs.
Adams tossed her head victoriously. The peremp-
tory voice augured well in her ears. Certain people
should be taught their place at last. But old Meg

1 6 Flower o' the Orange

glanced at the patient, extended finger and took heart
of grace.

"She's in the house the noo ! " she cried eagerly.

Equally rejoiced were the belligerents over the im-
mediate order :

"Send her up."

While they waited the nurse dilated at some length
on her educational system, drawn out by abrupt
questions. She was becoming, for her, quite genial,
when the nursery door burst open and a girl, with a
tartan shawl hanging off her shoulders, rushed in
upon them, panting as she ran.

" Oh, Mary-Nan, my Mary-Nan !" cried the child.

It was so rapturous, at the same time so pitiful
a call, that old Meg, toiling up the corkscrew stair
after the girl, was struck to the heart.

Little Eagernesse let go his father's finger to stretch
out his arms. Neither he nor the new-comer had eyes
but for each other. She came straight to him with
long swift steps, and culled him to her breast. He gave
a wriggle of comfort and content ineffable, and patting
her cheeks began to pour forth, in his incomplete lan-
guage, a tale of woe and misdeeds, the while she
cooed and crooned over him like some large, soft

"My wee cummie, my bonny wee man 1"

Flower 6* the Orange 17

"She heated me with her slipper I fro wed my
milk on the floor !"

' ' Ah, but that was wrong of my bonny dove !
How will sweet boys grow strong and big if they winna
drink their suppie suppie suppie ! " And kisses
well-nigh between every word soft, open-mouthed,
wet-lipped on the babe's part, close and sweet and
greedy on hers.

Mrs. Adams folded her arms.

"You see, Mr. Carmichael, sir," she said, exulting.
"You see for yourself my reasons for excluding Miss
Mackenzie from Master Carmichael 's society."

There was a tight smile on her face. She felt
very sure of her ground ; the father, she knew, had
not borne to look upon his son for four years, and the
Lady Isabel's instructions had been very precise.

Eagernesse started from the abstraction, during
which he had been gazing at the girl, and slowly
moved his eyes until they rested on the speaker.
Then he flung out his hand, long ringer still extended :

"As for you pack !"

Mrs. Adams could not credit her ears.

"Pack, I say! Out of my house this night!
Pack and go."

"Sir Mr. Carmichael " She turned a livid
face, defiant. She knew her rights.

1 8 Flower 0' the Orange

He strode upon her ; it was enough. She quailed,
shrank ; her steel became mere rag. Whining, she
supplicated a few days' grace till the morning !

"Not an hour." He came closer as she retreated.
"Meg'll see to your money. Out, neck and crop !"

On the threshold she made a last cringing halt.
The dear child, who should care for it that night?

"Mary-Nan," said Eagernesse, and slammed the
door on the long sinister visage.

Then he turned round, folded his arms, looked at
the two, and was shaken with sudden, silent laughter.

Mary-Nan was gazing at him over the curly head ;
and as their glances commingled the colour rose to
her face, even to the roots of her glorious black hair.
A cheek like an apricot she had, the eyes of a fawn,
a column of amber throat, a crisp wave of locks
round a head shaped like that of some Greek statue.
She held his heavy child against her bosom with the
ease of perfect strength. Wonder grew as he looked.

Ronald, worn out by his mighty battle, still
shaken with reminiscent sighs, drooped against her,
cuddled, and fell asleep. Instinctively she began to
rock him, as she stood, patting the dimpled arm :

"You did verra weel, sir," she said. "She was
a wicked woman yon, and cruel to the puir lad-

Flower o 1 the Orange 19

He made an abrupt gesture. Gone was the vile
hag from his thought ; more interesting matter was
before him.

"In God's name, and where do you spring from?"

"From the manse below, at Monreith."

"Good heavens!"

Aye, she explained, the minister, Mr. Mackenzie,
was her father. They had been here a few years
now, and they liked it very well.

"And your name is Mary Anne Mackenzie?"

She corrected him with a smile. She had beautiful
lips, richly cut and of a noble crimson to fit the smooth
amber of her skin :

" Maria- Annunziata Mackenzie."

He laughed again ; his quick, silent laughter that
seemed but to shake him, in his melancholy, for the
humour, but never for the mirth of things.

" Maria- Annunziata and to that, Mackenzie!
Maria-Annunziata, and you a daughter of the Kirk,
of the purified Kirk of Scotland !"

" My mother was of Italy," she went on composedly,
rocking and patting, with ever and anon a maternal
glance at the nestling head between her full frank
looks at him. Each time she lowered her lids he
marvelled at the black lashes sweeping her cheeks.

"My mother was of Italy," she repeated. "Aye,

2O Flower 0' the Orange

sir, my father wedded her out of pity, one may say,
she being a castaway from the wreck of a foreign ship,
and all lost but her. Some folks said the ship sailed
from Genoa, for the cases of oranges that the waves
kept flinging upon the beach; but no one rightly
kenned. And she had not a word of any language
but her own. My father scarce knew aught but that
she was a puir desolate lass, and that her name was
Maria- Annunziata. Folks telled me," she went on,
unconsciously dropping her voice to a lilting rhythm
to accompany her rocking of the child, "that she
never was as ither folk after the shock and the hard-
ship. But my father loved her dear, and she died
when I was born. That was in the other parish
where we lived, near Arbroath by the sea."

She told her tale with a grave simplicity that
seemed to rob her of all embarrassment before
the great lord of the land. Her voice had a low
music, deeper than most women's ; indeed, there was
in her whole being a mellowness as of other suns, a
warmth, a generosity, an unconscious freedom.

"Ha," he cried, "I might have known, by the mere
look of you, that such a flower o' the orange could
bloom in our barren land but by a freak of fate !"

"In heaven's name, Eagernesse," said old Meg,
creaking open the door, "the gentlemen are wild for

Flower 0' the Orange 21

you in the library, and I maun have an hour's grace
to get their fires up."

"I'm coming, them!" said Eagernesse, gen-

He drew close to Maria-Annunziata as he spoke,
and once more laid his finger lightly on his child's
cheek. Then, without word or look for the girl, he
marched to the door. On the threshold, however,
he paused and nodded at her.

"You will mind him to-night," he said.

She started in dismayed protest :

"Hech, sir, but my father! I canna leave my
father the night."

"Tush! Your father shall be warned. You'll
bide." The door was closed upon her further objec-

Left alone, old Meg and Mary-Nan gazed at each

"You maun bide," said the housekeeper.

"And, indeed, Mistress Drummond, I canna.
If 'twas to save the bairnie from yon dreadful wum-
man, I'd stay and gladly. But he'll be safe wi' you ;
and my auld hinnie will take neither bite nor sup
this evening without me."

"You maun bide," repeated Meg. " Eh, you little
ken Eagernesse ! He's no to be thwarted, that gate.

22 Flower o 1 the Orange

Hech, lass, he's master here, and the meenister him-
self would no wish to misplease him, the very nicht
of his hame-coming after a' the sair years ; he that
holds us all, as one may say, in the hollow of his hand !
Me watch the bairn? I darena, Mary-Nan, that's
the truth. Did ye catch his eye upon me as he went
out? His order's given Tut, tut, hark to that

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