Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale online

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reproofs. And it may be said here as well as
later, that the course she had marked out for
herself with regard to them, though not a very
ambitious one, succeeded far better than many
much more ambitious plans have done. And
it gathered weight from her own experience ;
for during many a year, Faith s proteges re
ceived constant additions, some temporary,
and others whose future she became entirely
responsible for. So that the Dominie fre
quently said of her, " She is a woman who has
had no children, but there have been few
women whom so many children have loved."

The morning after this happy letter from
Agnes, Faith was astonished by another visit
from Miss Graeme. She was even more aston
ished at the physical change in the woman s

* An old Border blessing .


face. "You hae grown years younger in a
single night, Miss Graeme ; whate er has come
to you ? "

" Love has come to me ; joy has come to
me, and a friend, and a husband ! Every thing-
has come to me, Faith ! And I think you
were the medium. There must be a link
somewhere between two lives. When your
lovely soul was the conductor between Seaton
and myself all went well ; the sympathy was
complete. He told me that as soon as he saw
me standing beside you at the wheel all the
old love came back to his heart. He waited
for me in the Kirtle wood. Faith ! Faith ! I
am to be his wife at the harvest time."

And Faith entered into her joy with enthu
siasm. She said frankly, " I think you are a
lucky woman. Lord Seaton is weel thocht o ,
and weel spoken o , and Seaton Court is ane
o the bonniest places in the border land.
Though my ain love line was broken in twa r
I m aye glad to see other women happy. And
what are you going to wear at your bridal ?
You sail hae some linen o my ain spinning
for your plenishing, if you ll pleasure me by
taking it; I hae a store o fine damask laid by."


" I would rather have it than gold or jewels.
Anything you do for me will bring me joy and
prosperity. And, Faith, I have one favor,
above all others, to ask of you."

" If I can grant it, you may say thank you
ere you tell me what it is."

" Then I say thank you ; for I only want
you to walk with me to church, to be one of
my bridesmaids. Lady Jessie Cowrie will
keep you company."

" Deed you hae taken me unawares ; and
you hae said thank you for naething. For I
hae never put foot in an established kirk, and
I dinna think I could bring myself to do sae."

"Why, Faith! There are as true Christians
in it as in the Cameronian kirk. You know

" I dinna ken may be. My fayther truly
allowed them some heritage, for he aye called
them the puir wee wrens o the Lord, wha
had to pick up crumbs o salvation from the
hand o patronage. But I hope I am not a
bigot, Miss Graeme and that isna the hale o
my drawback."

"What else, Faith?"

" I ken little o the dress and ways o lords


and ladies; and though I can speak as high
English as any o them, my ain way o talking
is mair natural and easy to me. In kent ways
I am a weel kent woman, but among strangers
I might be lightlied, and that would hurt me."

" They that lightly you lightly me ; yes, and
Tilbert, too. Faith, I am not going to be
married without the blessing your presence
will bring."

"Weel, then, I ll be to promise you." Then
her eyes grew bright, and her fine face flushed,
and she entered with genuine womanly delight
into the talk of satins and laces, and all the happy
and splendid paraphernalia of wedding times.

It was well that Faith could afford now to
leave her main farm duties to her head men ;
for during the next three months Terres was
very often at Harribee. She told Faith every
thing about her lover and her plans, and Lord
Seaton got into the habit of calling often at
Harribee for her In his eyes the shep
herdess was one of the noblest of women ;
he was always delighted to find Terres in her
company. In fact, Faith got to feel an interest
in the couple that had something almost moth
erly in its forbearance and unselfishness.


In the middle of the barley harvest the mar
riage took place. There was a great gathering
in Graeme Castle to witness its celebration,
but among all the titled dames there, the lady
of Harribee was the fairest. She was in the
topmost prime of her life ; she was richly
dressed, and she attracted every eye, and every
heart by the grave dignity of her manner, and
the pleasant, loving kindness that lighted her
face, and made her speech, with its little slips
into idioms, sweeter than music.

And oh, how proud and happy Lord Graeme
was in her presence. It was a great thing to
see her in his house. It was simply a wonder
ful thing to have her upon his arm in the
wedding procession. Little he knew what
thoughts troubled her all the time ! For she
did not cross Graeme s threshold without re
membering how bitterly her father hated the
whole race. For many weeks she had been
unable to decide the question of her visit
there; and Phemie had given her very little
help toward any comfortable assurance of its

"If the maister was alive," she said, " you
wouldna get leave to tak ane step to Graeme ;


but he has been o er the grave bounds for a
term of years. The sheet let down frae heaven
taught Simon Peter a gude deal in the way o*
not despising folk ; and as the lesson cam frae
heaven, Maister Harribee will hae vera likely
in heaven have made oot a few o the same
kind for himsel ! "

" In gude Scots, that is, you think I might
in charity go to Graeme, eh, Phemie?"

" I did na say that ; but by a mercifu inter
pretation o the vision o Peter I think sae
maybe but I ll tak no obligations anent the
matter. I ne er cared to anger the maister
when he was alive, and as for the dead, one
never kens whar they are. He might be
present this vera minute, and if sae, I think
anent the Graeme s, just as he does."

" I will go this once, Phemie. It is but a
neighborly thing to do."

"Ay, if you hae time to be doing things in
life that you feel must only be done this
ance. I ne er thocht I had the time for the

like o them."


As such conversations had been pretty fre
quent, they had not left Faith s mind without
aualms of uncertainty. And Lord Graeme s


manner made her tremble, and his love-glan
cing eyes troubled the very depths of her soul.
She was glad when the great event was over ;
when the bride had been carried away with
rejoicings, and even the church bells had
ceased their clashing wedding peal.

In Graeme Castle, she knew there was high
feasting, and the tinkling of violins, and the
light measure of dancing feet ; but she sat in
the calm glow of her own fireside, far more
truly happy in the thoughts that stretched
backward into the days of her youth, with all
their glamor of love and hope, joy and sorrow,
labor and rest ; and forward into the glory of
heaven, and the peace of that love which
passeth understanding, which has no varia
bleness neither shadow of turning.



year following Miss Graeme s marriage
was a very calm and happy one to Faith.
Lord and Lady Seaton remained abroad for
many months, and after a little delay Lord
Graeme also left Scotland. His castle was in
expressibly dull without Terres, and one visit
to Faith convinced him that he had not yet
reached the fortunate hour of his love.

" But it will come to me, as it came to Terres,"
he assured himself ; and in the meantime, he
threw his heart and time away in the most
frivolous pleasures of the great European

Faith permitted herself to think very little of
him. Yet it was impossible altogether to forget
the moments in which his life and hers had
blended. All of these occasions, were in some
respects remarkable ; they stood clearly out in
memory, and would not glide off into the mass
of ordinary events. Usually her reflections


ended in a sighing ejaculation of " Weel, thanks
be ! I am out o the way of his temptation ! "
For she found it impossible to dislike him per
sonally, and consequently his presence, his
admiration and the compelling influence of his
great love, were not without power over her.
Indeed, the very acknowledgment to her own
heart that he was, a temptation, was an
admission of Graeme s influence and of .her
own weakness.

But her hands were full of work, and her head
was full of a variety of plans. She was adding
house to house, and field to field, and her
account in Hawick bank was growing to a pro
portion that made her very often feel a strange
sense of responsibility about it. Still with the
growth of material wealth, there had come also
a far more than proportionate increase of affec
tionate claims upon her.

She now heard frequently from Agnes, and
sometimes from her nephews, who were at a
large public school near London. Agnes sel
dom wrote twice from the same city. It was
evident that she had no permanent home, but
went with Roland wherever his professional
engagments took him. And Faith in whom


the home instinct was all-powerful felt a great
pity for her in this respect. To have no
home ! appeared to Faith the saddest of human

But Agnes had her compensations, and they
were sufficient for her, for she refused and
perhaps very wisely so all her sister s urgent
requests to visit Harribee again :

" We have drifted so far apart, dear Faith,"
she wrote, " there is nothing in common between
us but our love. My ways, so innocent in my
own sight, would just be a pain and a grief to
you. My people are not your people ; but oh
Faith ! we have the same God ; and when we
meet in his house, we shall always be both kin
and kind."

So as Faith went up and down the fells at
the lambing time, or watched her men and
women in the hay fields, and the harvest fields,
or stood spinning on the winter hearth, while
the white snow fell noiselessly ; her heart was
busy with loving thoughts and projects, and her
future peopled with happy dreams.

One night, a little more than a year after the
marriage of Lord Seaton to Miss Graeme, Faith
sat by her fireside making up her dairy account.


Phemie was knitting in the chimney-corner
beside her. The first snow of winter was falling,
but the big fires burned with unusual bright
ness, and there was a charming air of peace and
comfort in Harribee Home. When Faith was
calculating, Phemie s needles clicked monoton
ously on, but whenever she began to fold a
paper, then Phemie broke the silence with some
bit of farm gossip, or some wonder, or reflec
tion of her own.

" Moffat wanted to speak to you Ma am,
about getting married. I just up and told him.
the the thing was unfaceable and that Effiie
Gates at any time was but a rue-bargain. When
folks are well-at-ease, they ought to be thankfu ,
and let well be."

" To be sure, they ought. How many quarts
a day does The Graeme Arms take now ? "

" Six quarts ma am, and the cream. There
was a meeting last week there, anent getting a
piece o siller ware for the heir o Seaton if
there should be a heir and John Dickson was

" John is always in the chair, whatever the
meeting is about. Has lady Seaton got home


"They hae been standing on tip-toes for her,
for twa weeks. She may hae come, and she
may not."

Faith did not answer. She was carrying her
pen up a long \ow of figures. But when it was
added and done with, she pushed aside the
small round table, and placed her chair before
the fire, where she sat musing, or vaguely
answering Phemie s comments.

" We shall soon be in the vera hole o* winter,
ma am."

" Yes. I was thinking the ewes had better
be brought at once to the lower folds. The
snow might drift."

" And that would be a miscomforture no
easy to get o er."

" Graeme Fell will be the best road, I

"Ay, it is next way to whar you want them.
Dickey was saying he hasna seen sae mony
haws on the white-thorn for seven years.
Mony haws, mony snaws, that is well kent."

" Dickey is a clever shepherd. He will take
good care of the sheep."

"And his twa eldest lads are weel trained,
likewise. He is a sensible fayther. He has


collared his bairns early, and brought them up
to wark. There s naething like doing it."

" What ails you at Effie Gates ? I thocht she
was a nice lassie enough."

" Ay, she has some sma sense, but a fool has
the guiding o it."

"Weel, weel, Phemie, they must rise early
that can please every body."

"That s sae, Ma am. Every ane buckles their
belt their ain way ; I ll let Moffat tak the lass he
fancies " She did not finish the sentence, for
through the snowy, murky air, there came the
sound of bells. Faith sat upright and listened
with a smile upon her face. Phemie put her
knitting down and said :

" Bless the bells ! They bring good news to
Seaton and to Graeme. It will be the birth
chime, and the heir has come to his hame."

" No doubt ! Now, then, send Gibby quickly
with my good will, and ask what is the full
good news." Then she lay backward in her
chair with closed eyes, listening to the floating
echoes of the bells and thinking vaguely happy
thoughts that drifted between Terres and
Agnes and her two nephews.

As she thus sat there was a knock at th*


door. She rose up and opened it. A gentle
man and two boys stood there ; but before she
could say Come in, the boys cried out, "Aunt
Faith ! Aunt Faith ! " and threw their arms
around her neck.

Then what a hubbub of delight filled Faith s
quiet home. The gentleman could stay but a
few minutes, he had an engagement to keep
in Edinburgh, and must catch the coach pass
ing Moss Kirtle within the next hour. But
he had brought the boys, and he put into Faith s
hand a letter from her sister Agnes. Alas! the
last letter that Agnes would ever write. -The
few facts relating to her death were quickly
told. She had gone with Roland to St.
Petersburgh, and there Roland had taken a
cold which within three days proved fatal.
" Madame," he said, " came back to London
with the company, but she had long been frail
and ill, and her husband s death broke her
heart. After reaching England she lived only
twelve hours, but her last request was that her
sons should be brought to you."

And oh! in the midst of her grief how proud
she was of the charge ! What fine handsome
lads they were ! How excitedly she called


Phemie to come and see them ! And how
happy she was when the old woman turned
their faces to the light and kissed and blessed

Quickly the table was spread, and she brought
out all her good things for the boys cold
meats, and thick cream, and home-made jams ;
wheat loaf, and six kinds of oat-meal bread,
every one finer than the other anacks, janacks,
haver cake and such like. And how the little
chaps ate, and drank, and talked; laughing and
crying, and clinging to Faith s hands, as if
they had known her all their life-time.

At last they were fast asleep in their grand
father s bed. Faith stole in on tiptoes to look
again at the bright faces side by side on the
great whit<* pillow. And as she gazed, memories
of little Davie came silently through her soul,
and she knelt down by the sleeping boys and
said some words in the ear of God that filled
her soul with that incomparable and incommu
nicable rapture of peace, that earth can neither
give nor take away.

She had not yet opened her sister s last let
ter. She did not feel as if she could do so,
until even Phemie had left her, and she had the


sense of absolute solitude. It was written
with evidently fast failing power, it was blotted
with the last tears Agnes would ever shed. It
was like a child s good-by, though full of a
woman s sorrow and hope, and it closed with a
startling charge.

" Dear, sweet, Faith. My Roland is dead.
He was all of life to me, and I am glad to fol
low him. A friend will bring you fh-c boys.
They are your boys, now ; and they must kiss
you for me. Faith dear, I ll ne er vex you
more now, and I m not feared to die ; not a bit
feared to meet either my fayther or mother now.
For what was not understood between us here,
God will make all right over yonder. At this
hour, earth is of small account to me, but right
is right, though we live or die, and I must leave
you to right a wrong Roland and I have not
been permitted to meddle with. I am at my
last hour and must say in few words the whole
of my care. Roland was really the true lord
Graeme. He always knew it. But he liked
his own life of change and triumph better than
living in Graeme castle, and we aye thought to
sort the wrong for our sons that we did not
heed sorting for ourselves. You must get the


proofs. Either at Agara in Greece, or at An-
cona in Italy they will be found. It is the last
words I write. They are true words, though I
can say no more now. You must do all. In
death, your loving sister,


Faith could hardly credit her own eyesight.
She read the letter word by word over again,
and then sat long, with tightly-drawn lips and
dropped eyes, considering the situation in which
she found herself. In that hour she discovered
also that Lord Graeme had a far greater hold
upon her liking than she had supposed, or had
been willing hitherto to admit. To right her
nephew meant loss of position, loss of name,
and property, perhaps loss of honor, to him.
And what of Terres? A son had just been
born to her. At present he was heir of Seaton
and Graeme ; Terres was precisely the woman
who would not only resent her action whether
it was right or wrong, but also passionately de
fend her own interests. Davie and Matthew
were most likely unaware of their true position,
and she meant them to have every thing she
possessed, would it do any good then for her
to discover a sin so long hid?


So far, with many extended ramifications of
thought, her reverie carried her ; then with a
start she recovered herself. She laid her open
hand firmly and positively down upon the table
and said, " Faith Harribee, sin is sin, and right
is right, and lapse of time alters nothing.
What are you reasoning with the deil for? If
David is the born lord o Graeme it isna for
you to take thocht o your ain feelings, or your
ain fears or friendships. The lad must hae
what belongs to him. But it isna a thing to be
done in a hurry, what has waited so long, may
wait for the best hour; and I must hae counsel
and help beyond my ain wisdom. Sae, I ll e en
say a word to Sandy Todd."

Sandy Todd was a lawyer of great local emi
nence ; a self-contained, pawky, prudent man,
who advised Faith in all her business, as he had
done Faith s father when he was alive. How
ever, her first care had to be given to the boys
lessons. There was a fine school near Hawick,
and she placed them there. But every Friday
night they returned to Harribee for two days,
and Faith and Phemie and every servant in the
house felt the delightful change this weekly
visit made in its quiet routine. There was an


air of preparation for it on all the intervening
days, and the pleasure of a fresh holiday in each

Saturday, if fine, was Faith s great day. She
always went to the folds, and the boys helped
her up the steep places and chatted to her of a
hundred things, past and present, all the way.
They were two handsome lads. David had his
father s gay temper and high-mettled courage,
with a physiognomy decidedly Graeme. Mat
thew resembled his mother s father. He had
his great frame, calm face, and massive head,
and was, as Faith proudly told herself, a true
Harribee. They made a wonderful change in
the life of the old farm. Phemie had to knit
for them and Faith had their clothing to look
after and their books and their lessons.

Above all she laid upon herself their religious
training ; for though she highly valued educa
tion, she set true, sound principles far beyond
it. And she was determined they should stand
by the creed for which their ancestors had
fought and suffered. Sitting around the fire
side, and standing upon the preacher s stone,
she told them again and again the religious his
tory of their race painted the men as women


paint their heroes, a very little lower than
the angels. And their play also cost her many
an anxious hour and extra walk. She quickly
learned what mothers feel about frozen ponds
and foot-ball and horseback riding, and bathing
and swimming and rowing. But she loved
them better every day, and they grew grandly
under her care in all respects.

For some weeks these unusual duties and
pleasures kept her fully employed ; though she
had never forgotten for one day, the grave duty
regarding the boy s future which lay before her.
But she was a woman inclined to cautious
movements. It was a secret of great import
ance, touching the interests of people who were
each, in their own way, dear to her. Twice she
went to Todd s and came back without saying
a word about the business that really took her
there. On her third visit the old man was
quite alone, and quite at leisure, and insensibly
they fell into a conversation full of reminis
cence regarding her father, and events contem
porary with his life, as Faith remembered it.
It was a snowy day, and the old lawyer stirred
the fire frequently to his recollections. Sud
denly he said,


" It was a sair blow to your fayther when
that bonnie sister o yours ran awa with that
play-acting by-son o the Graeme."

" He was no by-son. He was the lord o
Graeme his ain self."

" What are you saying, woman. Dinna let
your tongue get awa from your senses."

" I am saying that Roland Graeme, my sis
ter s husband, was Lord William s lawful son ;
and that my nephew David is at this vera hour
the true lord o that name and ilk."

" Presarve us a Faith. Your words are action
able. Keep a calm sough, woman."

" I must tell you every thing now, and you
must act in the matter for me, Todd, for I can
trust your wisdom."

" Ay, you may do that. I m no the man
to do fool s wark or go fool s errands."

Then she told him plainly all she knew. But
Todd pointed out that it was " naething but a
suspicion. You havena ane scrap o paper to
prove your big words Faith, and you maybe as
morally certain as you like, the law kens
naething aboot moral certainty. The scratch
o a pen would be mair to the purpose."

" That is precisely what I want you to secure.


Can you go to Italy and Greece and look for
these records ? "

" Are you daft lassie ? Me go to foreign
countries ! Into the vera presence o the scar
let woman o Papistry at that ! Na, na ! I ll
no risk my body, no to speak o my soul, among
Romans and heathens. For tha Greeks are
naething but Pagans. I ken weel when I was
at schule, learning anent their gods and god
desses ; and my fayther gied me a gude lar-
roping for it and weel I deserved it wasting
my time o er such pairfect nonsense, so to say,
even down sin."

" Then Todd, tell me who to send."

"There s men who lay their lives oot for
such dark business, and I ken whar to hail
them from. Gae your ways hame ; I ll get the
right man for the wark, and gie him a the
directions he needs. !

" Thank you, Todd."

" Ou, ay ; thanks are weel enough, and I ll
no refuse them, but I must understand mis
tress, that you will be fully responsible for the
wherewith. A lawyer s charges are honest and
above board. Any fool kens what they ll be,
but the deil himself could na tell what charges


may come anent this under-your-hand bit o

" You know weel Todd, that I m fully able
to meet charges, only I trust to you to see that
I am not wronged in them."

" They ll be clever folk that cheat my clients.
I sail pay your siller oot, as if it were my ain ;

" And you will be sure to keep all secret ? "

" Tuts woman ! I m not a natural born talker,
and I dinna talk professionally without being
paid to do sae. Do you ken any body up or
down Esk Water rich enough to pay me to
open my mouth against you ? Gae your ways
hame, Miss Harribee, and dinna think that you
hae a monopoly of a the wisdom and kindness,
and honesty in the warld."

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale → online text (page 10 of 15)