Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale online

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Let him go ! Folks canna hae luck on every
side, and if I havena love luck, I hae siller luck."
Then she sat down and leaned her head in her
hands, and the tears dropped upon the table,
and she saw them with a start, and lifted her
apron and wiped them away.

And with the action, the usual pious frame
of her mind asserted itself, and brought her
almost unconscious comfort. " Bide a wee
while longer," she whispered, as if addressing
her own misty eyes. " Bide a wee, and God
shall wipe all your tears awa . Ay, it will take
God s hand to do that work ; for He will hae
to wipe out all memories of wrong and pain,
all memories of love slighted, and love lost, all
memories of unkindness, and poortith, and
hunger, and cauld, and weariness, and woes


beyond courting. The hand of God! The
blessing, comforting hand that will wipe all
tears awa ! "

Then Phemie came bustling in with twin
lambs that a shepherd had just found on the
bleak hill-side little, shivering, perishing
things and Faith s pity was instantly aglow.
She sat down with them close to the fire and
fed them with warm milk, and cuddled them
gently to her breast. And she forgot her own
wounded feelings and love-ache in their want
and wretchedness. For, after all, she had that
faith in God, and that faith in herself, which
enabled her when all looked darkest, to go
right on, bating no jot of heart and hope.



" Day and night God standeth,
Scanning each soul as it landeth
Pale from the passion of death,
Cold from the cold dark river,
As, staggering, blind with death,
With trembling steps, yet fleet,
Over the stones of darkness
They stumble up to his feet."

IF intervals could be bridged in life as they
are in books, how many weary hours
might be avoided. But the wait of sorrow
and anxiety, as of love and joy, must be
endured to the last moment. Never had Faith
found the days so long, and the nights so long,
and work so monotonous, and the intercourse
of common daily life so dreary. Archie Ren-
\vick s desertion had been bad enough, but
Lord Graeme s sudden and silent flight had
elements in it far more painful and mortifying.
She kept assuring herself that she neither


hoped nor expected any explanation of it, and
yet she was conscious of constantly watching
the clock and the fell road for the postman.
Lady Seaton s behavior also puzzled and cha
grined her. She could conceive of no cause
for it, but the simple insolence of birth and
wealth ; and her heart was bitter with a sense
of wrong and slight, as she walked ten days and
nights through the furnace, in which she felt
all the hopes and dreams of her later life to be

As yet she could not think of the revenge
within her power. It would be too much like
revenge to give it a moment s consideration ;
for she was determined that every movement
in that matter should spring from a sense of
what was right and just. So she suffered
dumbly and ignorantly, not even divining the
true sources from which her restless discontent

One afternoon, ten days after Lord Graeme s
departure, the oppression on her heart was very
great. She felt miserable and so inclined to
forgetfulness that she determined to have her
sorrow out with herself upon the hills. "I m
not a lassie," she thought as she climbed Har-


ribee Fell with rapid steps, " I m not a lassie,
and I ken weel, I havena loved wisely a man
whom my fayther would only know in the way
o buying and selling a man whom I am vera
sure has been guilty o a great crime a man
who makes nae profession o religion ; and is
said whiles, to drink mair than he should do.
What for am I loving him ? "

She asked the question of her heart impet
uously, and her heart could only penitently an
swer, " I dinna ken." She reasoned with herself,
and made resolutions many and strong for her
guidance in the future. And she was so in
earnest, that she forgot the time, and forgot
the atmosphere full of misty rain, until there
came a chilling blast, and the nearest cloud
began to sprinkle the bubbling pool. Then
she looked around, and saw that she was three
miles from home. Down the brown hills, the
shepherds, far apart, were descending for the
night, and she knew, that however quick she
walked Phemie would have become uneasy
about her, ere she reached Harribee.

Under the pressure of haste, she put aside
her thoughts of personal pain and sorrow, and
with firm and rapid steps took the nearest way


to her house. It was raining heavily when she
reached its shelter, and she was physically worn
out. But oh how pleasant was her own hearth
so white and ruddy ! How comforting the
careful interest of her servants ! How delicious
the good tea and hot cakes ! How sooth
ing the hour when the meal was over and

Phemie bid her, sit down and bethink her

She was weary and she fell asleep ; deeply,
sweetly asleep. Phemie passed in and out ;
the servants came home and chatted gayly
over their supper in the kitchen, but she heard
nothing. It seemed as if she were gathering up
the arrears of her late broken and restless
slumbers. When at length she opened her
eyes she perceived that she had a companion.
Lord Graeme sat before the fire, but so motion
less, that at first she thought him only a part
of a dream. His eyes were fixed upon the
blazing wood, his face pale as death, the bistre
shadows around his eyes almost black. He
looked thin and haggard also, as a man might
look, who had been watching, or working,
without adequate rest ; and his clothing, always
as neat in all its details, was wet with rain, and


spattered with mud from head to feet, as if he
had been riding hard and recklessly.

She took in the picture at a glance ; then she
rose and said softly.

" When came you, lord ? Oh, but I am glad
to see you ! "

She was going to approach him, but he put
out his arm as if to stop her. " Stand where
you are, Faith ! I have something to tell you.
When you have heard it, you will not want to
give me your hand. You will despise me for

She only gazed at him with a great pity. She
felt, and knew what was coming. She could
not say a word either to help, or to deter him.
" Faith ! I am the greatest scoundrel in Scot
land ! Roland Graeme was my brother Wil
liam s lawful son ; my title, and my home
belong rightfully to David. Oh woman !
woman ! I love you so dearly, that I am forced
to tell you my sin. You have made me feel it
to be a sin. I am as wretched in your pure
presence as a devil would be in heaven. For
give me ! Faith, for any sake, forgive me ! "
He spoke the words in a low rapid voice, that
seemed vocal with the agony in the man s heart.


In a moment she had comprehended that to
let him know she was already aware of his sin,
would deeply injure the purity of his contri
tion, and lessen to his own perception the
moral grandeur of his confession. He would
think, " she has already condoned the offense.
Perhaps, after all, it is not so very great." So
she stood speechless, motionless, her eyes fixed
upon the proud man acknowledging his crime.
He did not spare himself. He only spared
Terres. He told her how the temptation had
first come to him, and how he had given way
to it, and suffered through all his future years
from the consciousness that Roland felt and
"knew him to be a rascal and utterly despised

As he spoke, the passion of his remorse
mastered him. He stood up, and flinging down
ward his hands, palms upward, he said, " I will
give up all I possess to the boys ! I will go
away forever ! I will forget the name I have

dishonored ! I will leave you Faith leave

you dearest never, never to see your face
jtgain ! "

Then she stepped lightly to his side. She
put her arms around his neck. She wept upon


his shoulder, she turned her beautiful face to
his and voluntarily kissed him.

A breathless silence followed an act of love
so perfect and so amazing. He held her close
to his heart, but he felt as if he were losing all
consciousness in his great bliss. He did not
dare to speak. And Faith by the very gran
deur of her nature understood that it was her
place in this extremity of love and pardon to
speak first.

"My dear one," she whispered, "you have
sinned and you have suffered, and confessed
your sin. I will help you to atone for it. Let
us sit down and consider the best way."

Then he took from his breast pocket a pack
age and put it into Faith s hands. She under
stood without a word that it contained the
papers necessary to establish David s right.
And when she had secured them, she called for
hot water, and made tea for the weary man,
and would not suffer him to talk until he had
been refreshed.

Afterward they sat down together and re
viewed more calmly the position in which the
nominal lord found himself. The circumstances
were familiar to Faith. She had gone over


them for many weeks in her mind, and she laid
shortly down the plan she had evolved as most
prudent and reasonable.

" David kens naething, and Matthew kens
naething. If they had the news now, they
wouldna be capable of judging all sides right.
It would be wrong to ask them to decide such
a question now. It would hinder the plans I
hae for them, and they are gude plans, and will
make fine men o them. When they are nine
teen they shall choose their professions ; when
they are twenty-one I will tell David what
place he has to fill. The lads like you. I will
not hae a word said to them to spoil their

"And in the meantime "

" You are trustee of the estate. You will do
the best thing you can with it. When David
is a man you will not find him hard to settle
with, and I shall take care that baith lads are
educated fitting for any station they may hae
to fill."

" I will help you all I can, Faith."

He had too much delicacy at that hour to
press his personal desires ; too much joy and
trust in the wonderful proof she had given him


of her regard to appear to be less than fully
content with it. A great confidence and peace
was between them, none the less because they
did not put it into the conventional, lover-like
phrases. And yet in both hearts there was the
sadness of all late pleasures a sadness not to
be deprecated ; containing to those hearts
capable of entertaining it, the deepest elements
of joy.

When Lord Graeme departed, Faith called
Phemie. The old woman entered with an air
of disapproval and injury, and the affectation
of being sleepy and worn out.

"Phemie, I have promised to marry Lord

" Yes ma am. If a falls oot to your ordering,
you ll maybe do that same ; but there s slips,
plenty o them in life. However, whate er is
determined by God, is sure to happen.

" You might say a few pleasanter words than
those, Phemie."

" Lovers arena the only folk living or dead.
I was thinking on a sides. If it be true that
marriages are made in heaven, I can weel foretel
hinderances you havena thocht o ; for I m sure
and certain maister didna hear your name and


Tilbert Graeme s thegither without speaking
his mind anent it, even to the Lord himsel . I
dinna believe Matthew Harribee in heaven
would hear tell o it."

" Surely you don t think people remember
earthly anger and dislikes in heaven ? "

* What for no ? Arena the martyrs aye cry
ing oot for God to avenge them on their
enemies ? That doesna look like they forgot
their earthly wrangs. But I hae naething to
say neither this nor that : folks that will marry
must marry if so be, they can."

Yet in spite of Phemie s evident disapproval,
Faith was very happy, and the next few months
were an over-payment of delight for all her
loving heart had hitherto missed. Very quietly,
but with a positiveness there was no gainsaying,
Lord Graeme took his place in Harribee as her
betrothed husband, He himself explained to
the boys his relationship to their aunt, and
from this time they became as much a part of
his life, as they were of Faith s. He bought
each of them a fine horse ; and he taught them
to ride, and to shoot, and to fish. He set aside
rooms in Graeme Castle for their use, and
speedily let the servants understand that


they could not be too respectful to his

And they returned his attentions with that
boyish affection which is so pure, and true, and
enthusiastic. To David and Matthew no man
living was so clever, and so good as uncle
Tilbert. In this delightful intercourse the
summer sped happily away. The neighbor
hood had quietly accepted the proposed mar
riage as as a suitable one, and it was generally
understood that it would take place soon after
the new year. In such case, a rumor had got
afloat that the Graemes would go abroad for
some time. Faith, when asked if this were
really her intention, only smiled. It was a smile
which could be taken as the interrogator desired.

Only Lady Seaton had shown any dissatis
faction. She felt as if both Tilbert and Faith
were contemplating a great wrong to her son ;
and her coolness pained Faith. " I rejoiced
with her when her love came a right," she
reflected. " I did a I could to make the bright
brighter and the sweet sweeter. I wish she
had been as gude to me ! But Time will prove
a things, and at the long last, she will think
better o me."


When the summer vacation was over the
boys did not return to Hawick. They were to
go to Eton, after the marriage, and in the
meantime they studied with the dominie.
Graeme had been an Eton boy, and he had
thoroughly interesed the lads in the life
of its mimic world. And gradually even
Phemie began to contemplate the great changes
approaching as part and parcel of existences
foreordained by infinite and unerring wisdom
"and it isoor place," she said, "to be walk
ing cheerfully the road He has ordered ; no to
be wishing it either wider or smoother, or in
any ither direction."

One morning in November, Harribee was
early astir. It was a hunting morning, and the
youths were to have their first introduction to
the field. The weather was gray and rimy with
an east wind and a cloudy sky, and the ground
as soft as desirable. David was greatly excited,
Matthew quite as much, though holding him
self in firmer control, and both looked very
natty and handsome in their pink jackets and
top boots. Faith was nervous, but she would
not damp their delight by her weak fears and
doubts. She gave them a hot, substantial


breakfast, and never until they were mounting
spoke one word of warning. Then it was only,
" Matthew, I am not feared for you, either on
foot or in saddle, for you are aye canny and
careful ; but David, dear lad, look to your
horse, for he isna the one who will look after

" All right, aunt. Why, my horse is the best
hunter in Eskdale. Uncle says so. He is a
good jumper, clever at doubles, safe at timber,
bold at water, and not a runner to beat him. I
intend to show what he can do to-day. And
we are not going far. You will hear the music,
I ll warrant."

With lifted caps and bright faces they can
tered off in the gray light, both sitting in their
saddles as if they had grown there. The meet
was at Graeme, and all along the road, scarlet-
coated men were trotting, and riding, and
galloping to the rendezvous ; the young ones
larking over the fences; the elder ones saving
themselves and their horses by opening the

When they reached the castle, the lawn was
all alive. There were drags drawn by four
horses, and light dog-carts, and gigs, every one


laden with men well muffled-up, but showing a
bit of pink somewhere, either at wrist or collar.
Lord Seaton was there, and the Earl of Lan
ark, and Sir Thomas Mowbray and gentlemen
and farmers in such numbers that the ground
looked like a fair. Graeme s servants were
passing in and out among them ; some serving
old ale in great silver cups, others carrying
wicker baskets full of sandwiches, and bread
and cheese.

The hounds were whimpering around the
whipper-in, who was feeding them with crumbs
out of his pocket, as he leaned forward on his
horse, talking to a farmer about a fox which
had been shot by a poacher.

" Yes," he complained, with an angry face,
what wi poachers, and traps, and poison, vera
few foxes now die a natural death."

* Meaning that they are not eaten alive by
the Graeme hounds, Carr ? " asked David,

" Just sae, Maister Graeme, just sae. That
is surely a mair natural death for a fox than
traps, and the like o* that."

Just at this point Lord Graeme appeared
with a little group of aristocrats around him.


" Move on sir? " asked the huntsman ; " is it
move on ?" Graeme slightly nodded in reply.

" Now, then, gentlemen ! " Ware hounds,
if you please ;" and surrounded by them, and
his whips, and more than a hundred horsemen,
he made for the covert a mile away.

While all were waiting there, Graeme rode
up to the boys. He praised their appearance,
and gave them some points about the covert to
be hunted, and some warnings concerning tim^
ber likely to be crossed. His face was unu
sually bright, his manner particularly kind and
careful, and while he was talking some one
cried, " He s away ! Hes away ! " and with the
words, a few loud, decisive blasts from the
huntsman s horn confirmed the cry. Then,

" The musical confusion "
Of hounds and echoes in conjunction,

rang through and through the misty.air. The
fox lightly cantered along the hedge side. The
sheep gazed at him spell-bound, and some bul
locks in a neighboring field, with noses touch
ing the ground and flying tails, jumped upwards
and sideways for joy.

Faith heard the distant music, and was not
quite easy about it. Not that she had any fear


concerning her boys or her lover. She was
thinking of her sheep. For she knew right
well if the fox took by Harribee, the moment
the sheep saw the hounds they would instantly
follow them.

" But the collies are on the fells, Ma am,"
said Phemie, " and they ll be clever sheep that
will get their ain way, if Laddie and Lassie are
there. Forbye, the hunters are as keen to keep
awa fra the sheep as you can be to hae them.
They dinna like to find a hundred muttons wi
their fat jolting sides blocking up the only pas
sage in a high fence. Little gude their hunting
whips are on such a mass o panting wool, and
Dickey told me last season that he saw a whole
field stopped by a score or twa o crazy sheep."

"The foolish things ! "

" Ay, they are the silliest o living creatures !
Human beings are weel evened wi them. Ne er
too young either to be foolish. A lambie just
born, if it sees the hounds, will leave its mither
and rin with them till it drops dead."

"And the puir fox! I m sorry for him

"Sae am I, ma am. Vera sorry. Puir thing,
wi his supple limbs and his stout heart going


through boughs and briars and thorns straight
as an arrow for his earth ; and then maist
likely finding it stopped ; and then undaunted
awa again until his breath and not his heart
gies oot, and then dying amid the barking, howl
ing pack with ne er a cry or a single moan. It s
a cruel thing."

" Ay, it s cruel ; sae is fishing for that matter.
If the fish screamed as it was wounded and
lifted out of the water, I wonder if men folk
would fish?"

" Ay, would they, if they wanted to."

So the two women conversed as Phemie went
in and out of the house-place, and Faith sat
sewing in the light of the broad window. About
noon she rose and was folding up her work
when she heard the mad gallop of a horse to
wards Harribee. She seized a plaid, threw it
around her shoulders and went to the door.
Dickey had just driven up in the tax cart and
he also stood watching the approaching rider.
He came straight to Faith.

" Miss Harribee, you must come with me at
once. Lord Graeme has been thrown. He is
very much hurt. He can not be moved."

She was deathly white ; she shook like a reed


in a tempest, and asked in a voice low and thick
with terror, " Where is he ? "

" In the green acre by the gate. He was
leaping it ; pulled up in the leap I expect. The
horse is dead. You have no time to lose."

She folded the plaid over her head and
motioned to Dickey to take her into the cart.
The next moment she was dashing along the
stony road, the Galloway nag keeping step and
step with the hunter. The mile and a half was
done in an incredibly short time, for in a few
minutes Faith was at the sorrowful tryste.
Graeme lay where he had fallen. A few men
were around him, others standing by their
horses in solemn groups at a little distance.

Lord Seaton came to meet her. " Faith," he
said, " he has been asking for you continually ;
you, and only you. I feared you would be too

She did not answer. Her eyes were fixed
upon the prostrate figure. She went rapidly to
it, knelt down by its side, and bent her face
close to the one almost clay.

"Tilbert, my beloved, I am here ! "

His agony was almost unendurable, but he
smiled brightly and gasped out, " the time of


parting is at hand quick! kiss me, dear one !
Faith! Faith!

All withdrew to a short distance ; kindly and
wisely oblivious of that last solemn, tender
parting. In ten minutes it was over. She rose
up from the wet earth in a maze of anguish.
Lord Seaton covered the poor shattered body
with a plaid and then turned to her. " Let me
take you home now, Faith. Let me take
you to Seaton. Terres and you can weep to

She shook her head positively, and covering
her face with her hands moaned like some
wounded creature. The men watched her with
pity ; there was hardly a dry eye there ; but
all words of consolation seemed such a mock
ery that no one attempted to offer them.
David and Matthew she put gently aside ; and
when Dickey brought forward the cart, she
passed him with a gesture which signified that
she wished him to go home without her. She
could not bear the thought of that inert endur
ance of suffering and sympathy which it in
cluded ; and throwing her plaid over her head,
she took the narrow footpath through the
inclosed land.


They could not but watch her as she walked
very swiftly over the brown, bare fields. But
what comfort could they give her ? They
could not restore the dear face, the voice, the
heart that had wrapped her in its love. They
could not lighten that sense of utter desola
tion which had come to her when all was over,
and she stood astonished and smitten upon a
threshold she could not pass.

Riding slowly and talking sadly, the hunt
ing party separated. There is in death a sov
ereign dignity, the solemnity of a life con
cluded ; and however they had felt toward
Graeme living, the man dead, inspired in every
breast a strange sentiment of respect. Had
he not gone forth on a passage full of myste
ries, a passage which they also should one
day tread ?


" In her sheltered home
Dwelt Peace and Charity, and Joy became
A. frequent guest, and loved to sit with her
And make her sing. Yet pitiful she was
To all who suffered, measuring loss and woe
By the large measure of her own deep heart,
And by the vastness of its treasure."

WHEN the heart is brimful of grief it
must be held very still, and in the days
following Lord Graeme s death, Faith instinct
ively preserved this attitude. To have wept,
or given way to audible lamentation, would
have been to make shipwreck of self-control,
and relinquish that dignity of grief which saved
her the platitudes of sympathy, and the sur
render of the least portion of her confidence.
During the week in which the body lay in
Graeme Castle, her mental distress was very
great. But she refused to see it again. Her
farewell had been taken. Her beloved had
crossed the great border land with her words


of hope in his ears, and her kisses upon Iiis
lips. Her last memory of him was one which
death s erasing ringers had not touched, and
she did not wish any other to supplant it.
The custom of her native country saved her
from the ordeal of the funeral. David and
Matthew walked with Lord Seaton as chief

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale → online text (page 12 of 15)