Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale online

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A Border


A Romance of Eskdale










IV. THE \v ILL OF GOD, .... 57






XI. A LATE WEDDING, . . . .186



XV. AT FAITH S MERCY, . . . .271






" Away to the bonnie green hills

Where the sunshine sleeps on the brae,
And the heart of the greenwood thrills

To the hymn of the bird on the spray.
Away where the sky shines clear,

And the light breeze wanders at will,
And the dark pine wood nods near
To the light-plumed birch on the hill."


VERY one has heard of Hawick, of its fine
manufactures, its outspoken liberals, and
its quick^footed poachers. But who in this gen
eration remembers Mosskirtle, an old resting-
place of the Carlisle and Edinburgh coaches on
the same high road ? For the railway has left
it some miles on the other side, and thus con
signed its comfortable inn to oblivion, and the
little town itself to the primitive condition of
the last century.


Yet Mosskirtle is the entrance to a district
rich in natural beauty and local tradition
the gateway to the " Land of Spearmen," to
the homes of the moss-troopers and the tak -
ing men of Eskdale, Liddisdale and Teviot-
dale ; border riders who loved their Jeddart
lances and heavy swords, and who were emphat
ically what our fathers called " men of their

This ruffling element kept possession of the
borders until nearly two centuries ago. Then
the Covenanting martyrs sought refuge among
their mountains and mosses, and it was these
"chased and tossed men " who first brought
" the Riders " to reason and to religion. They
had remained Roman Catholic longer than the
rest of the lowlands ; Catholics without faith,
without respect for faith, and full of supersti
tion ; but the prescribed and hunted Richard
Cameron, Peden, and Balfour, preached right
eousness to them so effectually that a national
poet of the day complains :

" If their doctrines should get rooting,
Farewell theft, the best of booting !
For instance, lately on the Borders,
Where there was naught but theft and murders.


These rebels more prevail with words,
Than dragoons do with guns and swords ;
So that their simple preaching now,
Makes the rush bush to keep the cow.
Better than Scots or English kings,
Could do by kilting them in strings." *

And as the doctrines did get rooting, the
moss troopers became honest shepherds and
farmers, stern and uncompromising moralists,
men ready to die for their faith, yet possessing
a character singularly marbled with veins from
anterior lives altogether diverse daring, poeti
cal, not devoid of superstition for it takes cen
turies to wear out traits that have been grow
ing for centuries ; since over the larger part of
every generation may be written, " what the
cradle rocked, the spade buried."

Civilization indeed advanced very slowly in
these lonely valleys. Only forty years ago, a
cart came out of Selkirk three days in the week,
traversed the district and went back on the
alternate days ; and upon this cart, the people
depended for their mail, and for such necessa
ries of life as their own farms did not supply.
But the wheel hummed then on every hearth,
and the women s fingers deftly threaded the

* Cleland s Poems, 1697.


shuttles, and sent them flying to their own
pleasant clickity-clickity music. So the world
beyond the dales, and the waters troubled them
very little; they traveled life s common way
in cheerful godliness, in peace, in the innocence
of a pure religion, and a simple pastoral life.

Still the type of any community has its vari
ations ; it runs back, it turns aside, it antici
pates. There were cattle drovers in Moss-
kirtle who were only the cattle lifters of the
seventeenth century under the restraints of the
nineteenth century. In many a moorland farm
the dour enthusiasm and the unflinching prin
ciples of Richard Cameron still dwelt. The
straitest bands of Galvanism hardly restrained
in others the transmitted love for adventure.
Lilting Border songs sprang naturally to their
lips, songs that went spontaneously to the
galop of horses, and the jingling of spurs and
spears. For who ever listened to " Oh Ken-
muirs on an awa Willie" without longing to
mount and galop by Kenmuir s side ? So then,
the singers took to a horse like gypsies and
loved dearly to shake the bridle free, and in a
mad galop find the Solway moss, and the SoL
way Firth, and the little black smacks that


brought French brandy and tea from the Isle
of Man where they could be run in free of duty.

Physically, they have always been a fine race.
From Eskdale to Annandale, men of the most
colossal and stately figures Britain has to show
were plentiful. The women also were generally
handsome, and here and there lovelier faces
could be met than one could ever hope to see
again : fresh as the dawn, with an expression of
wondering innocence that was charming. And
in this lonely land, as in the busy highroads of
life, there were human beings defying all clas
sification ; faces that, even in youth, had the
atmosphere of measureless antiquity ; tempers
that compelled speculation as to whether "pos.
session " was not even at this day a fact.

Such were Lord Tilbert Graeme and his sis
ter, Terres. They had come shrieking into the
world together, and their mother s life had been
the price of their existence. Left, then, to the
care of servants for many years, they had ruled
them with the unreason of passionate child
hood. In youth they were seldom apart, and
both alike were restless and unhappy, when cir
cumstances compelled such an arrangement.
And yet their daily intercourse with each other


was frequently marked by dissensions whose
violence terrified every one but themselves.
Neither had married, although Lord Graeme
was reputed a gallant, and Miss Terres had cer
tainly had many lovers.

She was still a woman of perfect form and
fine coloring ; one that would have satisfied
fully the usual conception of a noble lady fit to
be the mistress of Graeme Castle. It was a
very ancient place, and one of unusual size
and magnificence for the Scotch marches, whose
great families had generally preferred to defend
themselves in their forests and fens, rather than
build strongholds which might be taken from
them by the English, and then used as a means
of coercing their obedience. But the Graemes
had been almost hereditary wardens of the coun
try ; they were royal favorites ; they were un
scrupulous with foes or friends ; they were
reckless with money and life, and they had
never yet found the time when their hands or
their tongues could not keep the home which
the first Lord Tilbert Graeme had built on the
banks of Esk Water.

It stood upon a great rock overhanging
the river. All the approaches to it were steep


and stony and shagged with wood ; but from
its walled court-yard the dwellers within could
see all the bleak, bright aspects of the border
uplands the hanging woods, the broomy braes,
the heathery hills melting away into that
charmful haze which envelopes the Cheviots
with its faint blue mantle.

The interior had all the magnificence, the lit
tleness, and the inconveniences of ancient
ideals. There was one grand hall nearly eighty
feet long, lofty and wide in proportion, ceiled
with carved and polished woods, having in its
walls one hundred and forty panels, each con
taining the likeness of some Graeme, male or
female. But these portraits were mostly rude
attempts to preserve faces full of sorrows or of
sins. A gentle soul would have looked back
with terror to such an ancestry; a pious one
would have prayed that the future might
be delivered from it.

With the exception of this stately apartment,
the rooms were small and cheerless, for the
great space inclosed was much broken by six
teen staircases, full of ascents and descents ;
and the windows were high and narrow, and
the doors iron-cased, so that the appearance of


the rooms was more prison-like than any habi
tation of man ought to be. Terres Graeme
had been sensitive to it from her earliest recol
lection ; sometimes it saddened her, sometimes
it irritated her, but she was rarely able to ignore
its influence.

On one May evening, A. D. 1840, as she came
slowly down the main stairway, the feeling ter
rified her. For that very reason, she walked
deliberately, taking each step with a conscious
effort. Her long silk robe trailed on the steps
behind her, and she fancied she heard, above its
rustling, footfalls at once stealthy and fearless.
Once she turned around and looked boldly into
the shadows she had passed, then with set lips
she resumed her descent. As she did so, two
servants began to close the doors. They were
heavy, with iron bands ; they moved on pon
derous hinges, and had massive bolts, and their
clash and clangor echoed far down the winding

It was impossible for her any longer to defy
the feeling of terror. She hastened to the hall
door, still standing open, and gazed outward
with a sigh that was almost a sob. In the last
slanting rays the crows were hurrying silently


to their nests, and the black-faced moorland
sheep, moving restlessly from hillock to hillock,
were beginning to crowd together for the night.
It was a mournful, misty, lonely world outside,
and with a shiver she turned from it into
a small parlor where there was a blazing
fire of coals above a hearthstone of white

Lord Tilbert was later than usual, seeing that
there was neither market, nor meeting of any
kind to detain him. But Miss Terres neither
wondered or feared at his absence. Graeme of
castle Graeme was not one of those men whom
women have little anxieties about, or to whom
small services of affection are naturally offered.
But she wanted his society to restore her cour
age. She had met very unexpectedly a very
lonesome hour. Images from the past came
streaming over her head. She was surrounded
by a silent company that terrified her, that
asked her dumb questions she could not answer.
And she shrank from such soul interrogatories.
The present moment was often hard enough to
Terres Graeme, but when the hardest moments
of all her past years came crowding into it,
each one importuning for regrets or remem-


brance, it was too much to bear, especially in
that solemn witching owl-light time.

So when at last she heard her brother s foot
steps she was glad, and she rose like one who
throws off an evil dream, and snuffed the long
wicks of the candles, and stirred into a brighter
blaze the great blocks of soft coal. Then
Lord Tilbert entered the ruddy light and
his dark face and figure was like a shadow
in it.

" I am so glad to see you, Tilbert."
He nodded appreciatively and came with
slow and heavy steps toward the fireside. He
had removed his hat and cloak, and the man
stood fairly enough revealed in the light. He
was not handsome, but he had an original face
of much character, and a figure of great
strength, tall, thick set, deep-chested. His
eyes were of yellowish brown set in bistrous
lids, and they seemed to lie in wait, and watch
behind cache-nez glasses. No one could doubt
that he was capable of red-hot passion, perhaps
even of letting it run away with him, but his
usual manner was quietly dogmatic, wary, per
ceptive, cool. Terres had long known that if
there were any feeling in her heart, she need


hardly be at the trouble of confessing it ; he was
sure to find it out.

He loved money, and influence, and he was a
jealous guardian of his own interests ; and yet
there was something in his deepest nature that
responded instantly to whatever was poetic or
mystical. This disposition is however far more
common than is generally supposed ; and if
spiritual men may be counted by thousands,
men who are indifferent to the spiritual ele
ment but fascinated by the occult and super
natural, may be counted by tens of thou

A servant followed immediately with the
supper tray. There was a bottle of wine and
cold meat for the lord, and for Miss Terres her
invariable glass of mulled Burgundy and a few
strips of toasted bread. He was so quiet that
his movements scarcely broke the air of repose
suggested by the motionless attitude in which
the brother and sister sat gazing into the fire.
Even after he had closed the door, and they
knew they were quite alone, Lord Tilbert con
tinued his meditation, and it was Miss Terres
who made the first movement, and the first


" After the mist, a glass of wine is a good
thing, Tilbert."

Then he rose and rilled a goblet and drank
it at a draught.

" But will you not eat ? "

" I have no mind to."

"Then there is something wrong. What
is it ? "

" It is Faith Harribee. Terres, I must marry
the girl one how, or other."

"As for marrying Faith Harribee, it is high
time you knew that to be beyond thinking of."


" If you stood alone in the universe, without
a kinsman behind you if you had no sister at
your side if you had no obligations before you
you might then ask why. Carry your ques
tion into the great hall, and ask it there,

" What have the dead to do with it ? "

" The dead are not those who have ceased to
live. In a few years you and I will be as they
are. Even now, as I talk to you, my flesh
shivers and is conscious of presence. Possibly
they hear me pleading for their honor."

" I love the girl."


"And so I loved Will Foster. I gave him
up to please you. You know what I suffered.
It was a heart-shipwreck in which I lost my
love, my youth, my hope, my faith. Only you
remained to me. We two have one life. At
the long end, you will find that out."

" I must marry sometime, I suppose ; " and
he looked keenly at Terres, who was sitting
with dropped eyes and a face half-angry and
half reproachful. The question touched a point
to which they never alluded in the faintest way.
It startled Terres, and she remained silent.

" I know of what you are thinking, Terres."

" Then you know I am thinking of the

boy. Had you forgotten him ? "

" No, by heaven ! I wish I could forget him.
Are you going to put him before me ? "

" When I cease to love you, I may do so ;
not until. The thing that is done, is done.
Why do you call the question up now? Con
cerning evil, it is not well even to whisper."

" But whenever I marry it must come up.
Between you and me, it must come up,

" Until then, I will not speak of it. I will
not speak of it at all. Only remember this


not for Faith Harribee, will I meet my brother
William with my hands before my face."

" Is that a threat, sister?"

" It is a truth."

" What do I care for that ? You will stand
by me, as you have always done or ! "

" Your threat ought to choke you. I can
say or as loud as you can. Keep mind of
that fact and I would advise you to be more

" Caution behind my back! "

" Better keep it by your side. It is often
wasted, but it is a good risk to take."

" The girl is my destiny."

" Simple nonsense ! The clew of every one s
destiny lies at the cradle foot. You know what
your birth binds you to. A man can not delib
erately make his own fortune and then call it
fate. I have heard also, that Archie Renwick
of Shepherd s Bush was wooing Faith Harribee."

" Lies ! Idle tales from women, who have
nothing else to do but go from house to house,
spinning street webs."

" Indeed I heard he had bespoken her."

" Nothing but a who-say a wandering word
with no truth in it."


" Still where the rings are spread, a stone fell
into the water. But if you must marry why
not Helen Lilburn? She likes you, and she
has houses and lands in her own right."

" I love Faith Harribee ; and I care nothing
for houses and lands in an apron-string-hold.
I want my property in my own hand, not my
wife s. In short, I want Faith."

"You want Faith ! Very well, that is your
affair. I don t want Faith ! That is my affair.
You are riding a dangerous road to woo ; before
you mount, look to your girth, Sir: " and with
a movement of scorn and defiance she left the
room ; the thick, glistening silk of her robe,
seeming to rustle in angry sympathy, with her
heart s turmoil, and anxious apprehension.



" Their free-bred soul
Went not with priests to school,
To trim the tippet and the stole
And pray by printed rule.
But they would cast the eager word
From their heart s fiery core,
Smoking and red, as God had stirred
The Hebrew men of Yore." PROF. BLACKIE.

" The world which seems
To lie before us like a lands of dreams
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor pace, nor help for pain ;
And here we are, as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight."

TTARRIBEE Home was about three miles
1 J. from Castle Graeme ; a long gray house
of rough granite, with a high roof of red tiles,
green and yellow with lichens. In front of it,
there was an old-fashioned terraced garden,
shaded by sombre yew trees and divided through
the center by wide grass-grown steps. A strip


of rich land lay between the garden and Esk
water, and on this spring evening it was all a
mist of green with growing corn. But behind
the house, and " up the waters " was the vast
and desolate places of the shepherds ; a great
silent table-land of heather and turf, seamed
here and there with a green valley, or broken
by the catrail that mysterious wall and
boundary of an unknown race while on the
horizon, blue and afar off, were the distant
mountains that ringed around this " land of the

The house itself was only remarkable for the
rude strength of the age in which it was built.
Its rooms were all composed of massive stone,
and heavy beams and boards of oak, and with
closed doors and windows it was capable of
being long defended. For before the days of
Richard Cameron the Harribees had been noted
riders, and their blue bonnets over the En
glish border had meant for the Cumberland or
Westmoreland shepherds inevitable scaith and
loss. But with the persecuted preachers a new
spirit entered the house, and the grim gray
keep, that had been so long the gathering-place
of wild and lawless men. became a safe rendez-


vous and resting-place for the hunted saints.
For the Harribees were men of whole minds ;
whatever cause they espoused it was theirs, for
hands or purse, for life or death.

They had never been counted of noble birth,
though as moss-troopers they had held that pre
eminence which among fighting men is ever
awarded to personal strength and bravery.

" On the borders were the Harribees, able men,
Very unruly, and very ill to tame,

had been truly enough said of them until the
words of the preachers found them out. Then
they had exchanged raiding and riding for a
leadership in the ranks of those iron apostles
whom God sends in iron times to prepare His

On all the slopes around Harribee Home
they had stood with the Covenanting men,
joining heartily both in their solemn chant and
their startling war-cry. They had left men at
Airs Moss, at Drumclog, and Bothwell Brig.
Dunnottair s dungeon solitude had heard their
prayers, and the Bass Rock attested their long
suffering. Nor was their struggle only a
brightly barren one. A single death for truth
and freedom makes millions the heritors of


truth and freedom, and the men who achieved
through martyrdom an independent creed gave
to the pastoral Pentland falls, the Lothian
plains, and the dales of the border, the noblest
of all claims to renown :

"God s saints died here and gained the martyr s crown."
But in worldly matters also the Harribees
were not unprosperous. They possessed within
the butts and bounds of their estate a thousand
acres of land without a due upon it ; mostly
under cattle and sheep, but growing in the
lower and more sheltered valleys sufficient
grain and grass for the wants of the farm.

Early in the present century Matthew Har-
ribee came into his heritage. He was the son
of David Harribee who had followed Cumber
land s troopers to Culloden. Not without a
pang had he drawn his sword against his native
prince, but the Stuarts were the enemies of his
faith, and "Jerusalem which is above," was the
native land of his soul. Between religious
conviction and national prejudice, David Har
ribee could not have a moment s hesitation.
Still he thanked God that his son Matthew s
life had fallen in pleasanter and more peaceful
times; for when he gave up the farm to him


persecution was over, liberty of conscience
assured, the Stuart dynasty source of so much
woe nothing but a passionate remembrance.

However, Matthew was heir to the nature
and traditions of his family, as well as to their
house and land. He was a stern man, living
under circumstances when sternness was not the
quality most desirable. Every one respected,
though few loved him ; but Matthew Harribee
was not a man whose happiness depended upon
popular estimation. To do his duty and be at
peace with his own conscience were more to
him than the doffing of bonnets on the road
side or the "cracking" of friends at his ingle.

He did not marry until his father s death
made him master of Harribee, and he was then
nearly forty years of age ; so that people won
dered greatly when Maggie Renwick, a timid,
gentle woman, frail and lovely as a Cheviot
blue-bell, chose him from among handsomer
and richer suitors. But Maggie made no mis
take. Her heart divined that Matthew, though
but a silent wooer, loved her with an intensity
and depth for which earth has no language and
time no measure.

They had many children, but the majority


inherited their mother s delicate frame and
died early. Two daughters only had reached
womanhood, and it was upon the eldest, the
fair and stately Faith Harribee, that Lord Til-
bert Graeme had set his heart. Agnes, her
sister, was but a lassie of seventeen, a bonnie
lassie, every one called her, unable to find any
other term to express their sense of a beauty
more easily felt than described.

Between Agnes and the babe, yet in his
mother s arms, there was a wide interval, bridged
only by the small green graves in the kirk-
yard. But this babe was the darling of the
house. He had come as the recompense for so
many. He was the only living son, the heir to
the house, and land, and name. Matthew Har-
ribee s fondest hopes were in him, and for him.
A boy-child had always been greatly valued in
the dales, and this was a sturdy little fellow,
calm and wide-eyed, with the peculiar square,
strong countenance, which Matthew in his
heart, proudly recognized as the Harribee

On that spring night on which Miss Terres
Graeme sat lonely in Graeme Castle, haunted
by memories she would gladly have put far from


her, Agnes Harribee was rocking this babe to
sleep. He lay in his wooden cradle and Agnes
knelt by his side, gently swaying it, to the song
she sang a simple, rather plaintive little bal
lad but the child seemed to like it. He gazed
at her with round, wondering eyes, and made a
low, chirming, continuous sound, that blended
very sweetly with the rustic words and melody :

" Braw, braw, lads on Yarrow braes,

Ye wander thro the blooming heather,
But Yarrow braes, nor Ettrick shaws

Can match the lads of Galla Water.
" But there is ane, a secret ane ;

Aboon them a that I love better,
And I ll be his, and he ll be mine,

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale → online text (page 1 of 15)