Copyright
Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale online

. (page 11 of 15)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale → online text (page 11 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


The interview quite satisfied Faith. She
understood the man, and had not a doubt that
before she arrived at home, he had taken the
the first step towards securing an efficient and
reliable agent.

Amid all these duties she found time to go
and see Lady Seaton more than once. And
she could not help looking with a kind curios
ity at the baby Terres put into her arms.



YOUNG LIVES IN HARRIBEE. 227

Innocently enough he was usurping her David s
right. She almost wished she had never heard
of this right. It seemed to put every other
thing wrong.

One Friday afternoon she drove to Seaton
Court. All was ready for the boys at noon,
and she did not feel able to settle herself to
work of any kind until she had seen them ; and
it would be at least four or five hours before they
arrived. " I ll take the light tax cart, Phemie,"
she said, " and go my ways to see Lady Terres
for an hour or mair."

It was a dull, gray day, but Faith did not
mind gray weather. For the baby lord, she
had procured from Glasgow one of those fine
sewed muslin robes for which that city was
famous, and Phemie had added to the present
a pair of knitted lambs -wool socks. Faith s
heart was full of happy thoughts. She antici
pated the pleasure of a chat with Terres ; she
anticipated the pleasure of her boys visit.
She had no cares, and she had many a bright
hope.

Terres was delighted to see her. Her pretty
present was just the one nobody else had
thought of. " It is grand enough for a christen-



228 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

ing robe, Faith," she said, "and indeed, we are
reckoning upon you for the godmother."

" That I can ne er be, Terres. You ken in
my ain kirk, the bairn s mother stands wi the
bairn at his baptizing, and wha sae fit to do it ?
If you dinna teach the wee laddie his duty to
God and his ain soul, it s no vera likely any
other woman will do your duty. Also, I hae
twa lads o* my ain, now."

" Yes, I have heard of them ; the children of
your sister Agnes." She grew suddenly quiet,
and ended her reflections by lifting her own
boy from his satin-lined cradle, and kissing
him with a fervor which scarcely required
words to explain. Faith knew the thoughts in
her heart. She knew that Terres said in that
kiss " right or wrong, my boy, your mother
will assert your claim, and suffer no one to put
you aside."

Almost immediately after this silent act of
motherly devotion, Lord Graeme entered the
room. His face lightened all over when he
saw Faith, and he made the time pass so pleas
antly that she forgot the hour until the falling
snow warned her of her distance from home.
Then she rose in a sudden hurry, and Lord



YOUNG LIVES IN HARRIBEE. 229

Graeme went to order her cart. When it
came to the door, he was sitting in it, holding
the reins, and cloaked for the coming storm.

" I am going to drive you, Miss Harribee,"
he said. " We shall have a heavy fall, and I
know the road down Seaton Fell better than
you do." She wanted to oppose the offer, but
could not. Several servants were standing
around ; she disliked to dispute and refuse
before them. It seemed better to quietly take
the seat beside the voluntary driver, and suffer
herself to be comfortably tucked in from the
coming storm.

Lord Graeme was in the highest spirits.
4t Why Faith!" he cried, "to have you beside
me is such a piece of luck as I never dreamed
of! To have you all to myself! A hundred
thousand thanks to the snow clouds!" He
rattled away like a school-boy. It was the
most glorious drive he had ever taken. He
wished every mile was ten times as long ;
and when they reached Harribee, he vowed he
was so perished with hunger and cold that
simple charity required Faith to ask him to
supper.

He had not named the boys, he had not seen



23 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

them. Certainly he had heard of their arrival,
but during this happy drive he had quite for
gotten them, until he entered the glowing
house-place with Faith. Then they sprang to
meet her with clasping arms and resounding
kisses. It was a shock to Graeme, a shock so
great, that for a few minutes, he could not rec
ognize nor understand the feelings the children
had aroused.

He looked at them curiously and with some
irritation. Their presence would at least spoil
the confidential talk he hoped to have with
Faith. So far, they were an intrusion, and a
disagreeable one. But as the supper progressed,
he watched them and listened to them with a
singular interest, casting many a furtive glance
at David, but talking more to Matthew who
had a grave and quiet manner that courted
confidential chat.

After supper they went early to their room,
but Lord Graeme drew his chair closer to the
hearth, and with Faith s approval lit a cigar,
and smoked slowly and silently during the hour
in which she was receiving her servants reports,
and giving her last orders. He did not appear
to be watching her, but he saw her slightest



YOUNG LIVES IN II A RR I BEE. 231

movement, and even speculated upon the bits
of conversation he heard her hold with men
and women. But in the main his thoughts
were with the two sleeping boys. David was
so like his brother William, Matthew had a
look which constantly recalled Faith, and which
had perhaps unconsciously inclined his grand
uncle to him. At that hour he wished heartily
that the thing he had done was undone.

When at last Faith took her knitting and sat
down, the night was wearing toward eight
o clock. In that simple household, he knew
that he would be expected to leave within an
hour, and he turned to Faith with a face that
needed no words to interpret it.

Alas ! he saw no response in her eyes to the
question he asked. There was indeed a vague
trouble in them that puzzled him, a something
that was a blending of love and sorrow and
reproach. It startled him by its resemblance to
some feeling in his own heart. But it was im
possible she could know any thing of his sin !
And yet he believed Roland had judged him.
And Roland s children might have heard their
father s suspicions, and repeated them to their
aunt. It was a new fear. He could not put it



232 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

down. He seemed to read it in Faith s face.
Yet he stooped toward her and took the
knitting from her hands, and held them firmly
as he said :

" You know what words are in my heart, and
on my lips, Faith. You know how long and
honestly I have loved you. When will you be
my wife? "

" There are new and dear charges come into-
my life. What hae you to say anent them?"

" I will make them as welcome in Graeme as
if they were my own boys. Upon my honor I
will."

She took her hands quickly from him, and
said, " You hae given me a sair heart-ache this
night, lord, but ane thing is sure as sure can be.
I canna say yes or no to you, yet."

" You love me Faith ? ever so little, you love
me?"

" I ll no say but what I think mair o you
than of other folks ; but waes me ! We may
love many a thing, and want many anither
thing, that would neither be right for ourselves
nor yet gude for others. I am walking on a
dark road ; to-night, at least, I canna let you
keep me company."



YOUNG LIVES IN HARRIBEE. 233

" But some other time, Faith ? Say yes,
dear woman ! "

" I canna tell. It will depend maistly upon
yourself I m no ready to speak. I dinna ken
my own heart. I m no sure o what is my
right way yet."

" Then I must wait and hope."

" Ay, and you must be taking the road also ;
for it s candle douping, and there s folk that
would see wrangif their e en were out."

" Then good-night, Faith ! I know that you
love me a little ; and to-night I know, for some
reason or other, you fear and doubt me also."

" Where did you learn sae much, lord ? "

" In my heart."

And he rode away into the snow, suddenly
full of the new terror that had come to him
the terror that Faith suspected his sin. If at
last it was to stand between them ! Oh, how
he regretted it ! And so,

" With repentance his only companion he lay.
And a dismal companion is she."



CHAPTER XIII.

RIGHT, BEFORE EVERY THING.

** It fortifies my soul to know

That, though I perish, Truth is so.
That, howsoe er I stray or range,
Whate er I do, Thou dost not change.
I steadier step when I recall.
That if I slip, Thou dost not fall."

CLOUGK.

THE winter proved to be a very hard one.
The snow lay deep, the shepherds had a
bitter time of it, and many sheep were smoored
in the drifts, But inside Harribee there was a
great deal of the purest home pleasure. Phem-
ie and Faith had such wonderful talks and
consultations about the boys. Such confi
dences to share at the week ends ! There was
not a scholar in the school with whom they
were not, in a certain Avay, familiar. If David
and Matthew liked them, they did also. If
David and Matthew disapproved them, then
Faith and Phemie shook their heads when they



RIGHT, BEFORE EVERY THING. 235

were named, and were fully convinced of their
original and acquired sins. Very frequently,
so frequently indeed that Faith was compelled
to notice the circumstance, Lord Graeme found
an excuse to call at Harribee on Saturday.
One Friday night he stopped just as the boys
arrived, complained that his horse was sick, and
asked to remain until Faith could send a man
to the castle for a fresh mount for him. He
made himself so interesting to the little fellows
that they opened up for him their whole budget
of school news ; and when he left, he tipped
them so handsomely that Faith felt compelled
to interfere.

But Graeme persisted in standing by his gift.
" The boys belong to me, as well as to you,
Faith," he said ; " they are Graemes, not Harri-
bees, and I know what a tip is, to a lad at
school."

She thought comparatively little of the in
vestigation which she had left with Sandy
Todd. She did not visit him again on the sub
ject. Perhaps, in her most secret conscious
ness she wished that it would prove unsuccess
ful. She did not want to think so evilly of
Lord Graeme. She did not dare to imagine



236 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

what course she must take if the assertions oi
Roland and Agnes were correct. In the mean
time Graeme was certainly gaining a great hold
upon her affection. The boys were a common
ground upon which they met with a familiarity
impossible under any other condition. She
began to look with something very like love
upon the elegant, handsome man, who was so
happy on her hearth-stone ; who watched her
with such unspeakable admiration ; who took
such an interest in David and Matthew, and
who was so favorably thought of by them.
When David told of some race in which he had
been the winner, or some fight in which he had
been the victor, or when Matthew recited his
last Greek chorus, or showed some extraordi
nary prize of merit, Graeme and Faith were
sure to exchange glances of pride and satisfac
tion about the matter; and these glances were
wonderful vehicles of more personal affection
and interest. In fact, without saying one word
of love, Graeme was wooing Faith in the most
irresistible way possible to a woman of her
character and position.

In the spring she had a visit from Todd. He
took her a little by surprise when he came.



RIGHT, BEFORE EVERY THING. 237

First, because she was not a woman who brought
to-morrow, and next week, and next month
into to-day not one of those restless natures
who are forever calling to some one in the
watch tower, " Do you see anybody coming?"
Her nature was calm because it was moulded
in grand proportions, without the littlenesses
that produce fuss. Then, it was also a very
unusual thing for Todd to leave his office.

" But the air was sae caller, and the wind sae
fresh, I thocht I would hae a mouthfu of the
spring," he said, as he lighted from his pony at
Faith s door.

He did not immediately speak of the business
on which he had come. A variety of topics
interested him during the early lunch which
was spread for his benefit. But as he sat
smoking his pipe to a glass of toddy he relieved
his mind of the news he had brought.

" You are five hundred pounds oot of pocket,
Miss Harribee."

" Then you have found no proofs? "

"Not the scratch o a pen."

"Vera gude ! I dinna feel as if I were out
of pocket."

" Noo, if you will take my advice, you will



23 8 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

neither meddle nor mak in other folk s business
again. Five hundred pounds ! Gertie ! You
have paid for your curiosity."

" Naething found ? Naething heard ? "

" Naething at a found. Plenty o talk from
thae foreign creatures he heard ; but what o
that ? "

"Talk?"

Talk anent Mr. Roland Graeme s mither. But
Lord ! what do they ken anent gude morals.
They called her my lady/ but that means just
naething."

" Vera weel, Todd. Let the matter drop
and forget it."

" It were a pity to refuse you, when you seek
sae little. I dinna care to mak an enemy o
lord Graeme ; and I hae been kent a my life
for keeping my mouth shut and my een open."

At first Faith felt a decided satisfaction in
the news Todd had brought. She was light-
hearted about it. She had not fully understood
until the fear was lifted from her mind how
great would have been her sorrow, if it had
been confirmed. She thought still more kindly
of Graeme, for she wished to atone for the
wrong she had done him in her own mind. And



RIGHT, BEFORE EVERY THING. 239

she did not feel as if the boys were any losers
by this loss of a false hope. There was enough
in Harribee to give them both a good start in
life, and she had a firm belief in the ability of
her nephews to make their own place in the
world.

For an hour or two she was very happy.
Then suddenly she knew not how, she could
not determine from what source, a most positive
conviction of the truth of her sister s dying
declaration forced itself into her mind. It came
with a power apparently unreasonable, and yet
not to be reasoned away. Involuntarily, she
found herself saying " It is true, for all that !
Agnes is right in spite o Todd ! " She was
more miserable than she had been before.

That very evening she met Graeme on the
moor. She had been up the fell to speak with
her head shepherd, and was hurrying home, for
the sun had set, and the night was falling damp
and chilly. Graeme had his gun with him and
some dogs, but he saw her, and hurried forward
to meet her. She had never before seen such
a dark and hopeless look upon his face. He
did not seem able to talk, and every effort ended
in a few monosyllables.



240 A LOADER SHEPHERDESS.

You are ill, lord."

" No, Faith, I am unhappy. I had a bad
dream last night, and it has haunted me all
day. I have always laughed at dreams, but I
cannot rid myself of this one."

" Put a bad dream awa with a gude deed.
Is there nae body you can do a kindness to ? "

" There are always the boys. Suppose I send
a handsome tip to them."

" They dinna need it. That will do you no
gude."

" They are the only people on earth it will do
me good to be kind to."

It was not the words themselves, but the
remorse in his sombre eyes, and the weary,
hopeless look on his face, which affected Faith.
In some way, not quite evident to her, she
understood from what cause the man was suffer
ing. There were a few moments of painful
silence a few moments in which all her bright
dreams and hopes passed into a dark cloud ;
then she said with an evident effort

" If you would tell me, lord."

"Tell you what, Faith?"

" I thocht maybe you had a trouble on your
heart."



RIGHT, BEFORE EVERY THING. 241

He did not answer. They walked on in the
misty twilight a little further apart than usual,
until they came to Harribee Gate. Then he
said good-night, and Faith watched the
mournful figure turn away from her, and
gradually become a part of the gloomy land
scape.

And not even the bright fireside, nor the
comfortable tea, nor Phemie s cheery bits of
gossip could put away the lonesome, unhappy
memory of the man she loved. Yes, it had
taken but this one revelation of him in trouble,
to discover to Faith how truly and how tenderly
she loved him. With all his faults she loved
him. She shirked none of them that night, as
she sat musing on her quiet hearth. And she
found then how easy it is for a loving woman
to excuse the unworthiness of her idol. " I m
no faultless myself," she whispered. " I m
full o* faults. And while we were a sinners,
God loved us. Forbye, there is a deal o gude
in Graeme he likes the lads he is sorry for
the wrong he has done them he is in a sair
strait I m no sure myself what I would do in
it. Oh, Graeme ! Graeme ; I ne er thocht to
love you as I do this hour."



242 A BORDER SHEP 11 1:KDESS.

While Faith sat musing thus, Graeme had
taken a very decided step. He reached Seaton
Court about seven o clock, and found his sister
at dinner. Seaton was in Edinburgh, and
he looked upon his absence as a piece of good
fortune. Terres was always delighted to see
her brother, but this night his gloom and silence
offended her.

" I will send for the baby," she said. " He is
growing so fast and so bonnie, Tilbert. Perhaps
he may charm the evil spirit out of you."

" Do not send for him. I do not care to see
the child."

" What on earth ? or rather, what from some
lower place possesses you?"

" I don t want to see the child. That is
enough."

" Quite. May I ask why you came here to
night ? It is my opinion you have been drink
ing your senses away."

" I have not touched wine for a week. Terres,
I had a dream about Will "

"Oh, this is delicious! Tilbert Graeme
frightened at his own dreams !"

" It is not my dream. It came from some
one, from somewhere, beyond me."



RIGHT, BEFORE EVERY THING. 243

" Nonsense ! You have been worrying your-
self ever since those boys of Roland s came to
Harribee! You think of them continually; of
course you dream of them. Don t be a fool,
Tilbert."

" I think, on the contrary, that I am coming
to my senses. Terres, you are well married.
Your boy has the lordship of Seaton ; why
hamper him with another, to which he has no
right?"

" Pick your words more prudently, Tilbert.
I may have other children. I am not going to
lift my little finger from Graeme. If you want
to be a fool, I shall not let you."

"I shall not ask your permission. I am sure
that Roland s eldest son ought to have
Graeme."

"Indeed! Pray, what of yourself? Will
you marry Faith Harribee and be her head
shepherd ? "

" It would be heaven on earth compared with
the false position in which I stand to-night."

" I hope you may die before you perpetrate
such a piece of mad folly, Tilbert."

" I hope not, until I have found courage to
commit it. Terres, if you go into one of your



244 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

old tempers I shall leave you. They are
Seaton s privilege now. I want you to accus
tom yourself to the idea, that Graeme is going
to David Graeme."

" You don t love me now, Tilbert. I used
to be first of all with you. "

" I am no longer first with you. You put
Seaton before me. Very well."

" It is Faith Harribee s doing. Oh, I know
it is. How I do hate that woman ! "

" In an indirect way, it is Faith s doing. You
are right. To live an hour or two occasionally
in Faith s company is to catch virtue. Many
things V>ok differently to me, since I knew
Faith."

" She shall never enter Seaton Court again."

"That will be your loss."

" And pray, when are you going to confess
to her? Oh, I know you, Tilbert. It is simply
your last fling for her favor. You want to per
suade her she has reformed you. Pshaw! You
can not deceive me."

" I shall tell Faith as soon as I get courage
to tell her. I believe it will separate us for
ever. All the same, I will do right if I can."

" Have you thought of the consequences



RIGHT, BEFORE EVERY THING. 245

You know well that she is made of that old
Covenanting grit. Though her heart breaks,
though the heavens fall, she will prosecute you
for robbing Roland. The savings of all these
years will be devoured in paying back rentals.
You may perhaps save yourself a convict s doom
for lack of evidence of intention, but public
opinion will pillory you. Think of the shame
I must surfer with you and my poor, innocent
little baby also. Have pity upon me, Tilbert ! "
She put her arms around his neck and sobbed
bitterly. Her tears were genuine ones ; he
found it hard to resist them ; yet he pushed
her gently away from him, and left the room.

She had no idea he had gone back to Graeme
until an hour afterward. Then she was very
unhappy. For the first time in her life she had
found her tears and caresses had been inef
fectual with her brother.

Early next morning she went to Graeme
Castle. Lord Graeme had left it at daylight.
The rapidity and suddenness of this move dis
concerted her. She walked up and down her
old home full of fear and anger. But the an
cient place, though the air seemed heavy with
evil memories, roused in her a passion of rare-



246 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

devotion, which made her, for the time, feel
capable of any deed necessary to prevent her
loss of all interest in it. In her mind it had
come to be a question of whether her son should
own it, or the grandson of that Italian singing
woman and the son of Agnes Harribee. She
felt the superiority of her own right ; and she
was sure it was superior.

After wandering about the familiar rooms,
and feeding her anger on a variety of informa
tion offered her by the older servants of the
place, she determined to go home by way of
Harribee. It would be a pleasure to be ill-
tempered to Faith. She began to tell herself
that she had permitted the shepherdess of
Harribee far too much familiarity. A snub
would be a good thing, and put her back in her
own place.

When Faith saw the Seaton carriage ap
proaching, she was not much pleased. She
was counting out from great oak chests the
napery for the spring bleaching ; fine damask
cloths and napkins were lying around ; linen
sheets and pillow cases, and whole webs of fine
flax cloth, were being examined and noted pre
vious to being sent up to the bleaching ground



RIGHT, BEFORE EVERY THING. 247

on Harribee fell. The girls with their baskets
and watering cans were waiting, each one for
her task, and Faith was desirous to get them
off ere the sunny mid-day was lost. She won
dered, too, what brought Lady Seaton at such
a like hour, but she went to meet her with her
usual pleasant smile and word.

" I am not coming in, Miss Harribee. I only
thought I would tell you that Lord Graeme has
gone to London. There is no saying when he
will be back, but I suppose you know all about
his movements."

Faith caught in a moment the tone of her
address, and with a dignity which was not
impaired by fretfulness, answered :

" I ken naething of Lord Graeme s move
ments, Lady Seaton. What for should I ?"

" He has not been easy to live with lately.
I must say I blame you."

" You had nae right to blame me."

" Come, come, Faith Harribee ! Every one
knows he has "

" My Lady Seaton, if you hae nae particular
business with me this morning, I will be ex.
cused. I am busy getting the bleaching women
ready for the hills."



248 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

" Is that of more importance than Lord
Graeme ?"

" To me, my napery is of vera great import
ance. I am but a simple woman having my
daily duty to heed, and the duties o many
others hanging to my duty. I hope the young
lord is well."

" Quite well."

" Then gude morning, my lady."

And with a calm face and erect head she
crossed her own door-stone again ; hiding her
annoyance and heart-pain in such a hurried
charge to the girls that they told each other,
as they climbed the fell, " Mistress was gey put
oot wi fine lady visitors sae early in the morn
ing."

Faith was indeed very much put out by
the visit. Lord Graeme s mood on the preced
ing evening had troubled her, and there was a
quiet insolence in the manner of Terres which
not only wounded but angered her. She felt
in her own heart, that if Tilbert Graeme did
not redeem the promises that his every glance
had lately made her, he would be the basest
of men.

" But I hae nae luck in love," she murmured :



RIGHT, BLFORE EVERY THING. 249

" as soon as I like a lad he turns awa from me.
But lord or shepherd, I ll no waste my life for
any of them only, I did think he was true
It s weel I never let him ken how much I thocht
o him ! It s weel I never let him run awa with
my judgment folks will talk ay, they ll talk
any way ; they ll say I ve lost my lad again
weel, weel, I m blythe that my heart s my ain
and my siller is my ain, and I hae the boys yet.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13 14 15

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale → online text (page 11 of 15)