Copyright
Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale online

. (page 13 of 15)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale → online text (page 13 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


mourners, and most sincere mourners they
were. " It was his last request to me," said
Lord Seaton to Faith. See that David and
Matthew Graeme are the chief followers at my
burial. Those were his words, and I prom
ised him, for he loved the lads ;" and Faith
bowed her head, and was satisfied it should
be so.

But Terres was angry at the arrangement,
and Lord Seaton, though he insisted on the
carrying out of the promise made to the dead,
was much annoyed. Besides, there was some
vague wonder among the neighboring gentry ;
a floating suspicion in their minds, which yet
they scarcely cared to whisper to each other,
so charged was it with obligation to the living
and blame to the dead.

The principal rooms in the castle were hung
with black cloth for the occasion, and it would be



AT FAITH S MERCY. 273

hard to conceive of a dwelling more profoundly
melancholy and forlorn. The servants would
not move about it, except in couples ; the visi-
tors, in spite of the large fires, were cold. A
sudden, irresistible depression, a trembling
mortal terror, assailed every one who came
into the lonely rooms. There was something
terrible to the boys in this pomp of black vel
vet and black cloth in the still face, so awfully
white, that was the only object above the
heavy pall, the one pitiful cause of the black
floor, and the black walls, and the black draper
ies. Faith was glad she had not so seen it.
Far better to remember it under the open sky,
out in the wide fields, with the sympathy
of nature, and the sympathy of its mortal kind
regarding it.

Still as long as the body lay there, Faith
felt that she might give so long to her own
sorrow. There would be no necessity to con
sider what duty she owed her nephews in this
crisis, until after the burial. Lord Seaton was
the nearest male relative capable of taking
upon his shoulders the ponderous ceremonies
considered proper for a man of noble birth,
who had also held local and social positions oi



274 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

trust and eminence. When the last rites had
been fully paid, then she would see Terres.

It was said that Lady Seaton was very ill,
and she could well believe it. The affection
between the brother and sister had been one of
exceptional intensity. Terres mourned bitterly,
and for many weeks refused every suggestion of
comfort or resignation. It seemed cruel in the
sharpness of such heart-sorrow to bring to her
remembrance the worst side of her brother s
character, and force her to contemplate the sin
they had committed together.

Faith also was for some weeks physically
averse to the dispute. A languor, a sadness of
sorrow, that preferred inaction and silence, had
in a measure subdued her. After the boys
went to Eton, her life lost its savor. Terrible
temptations assail even truly good women when
they sit down on the edge of the tomb. It is
there the great enemy is to be most feared.
He said to Faith, " God has taken the only one
who truly loved you away He need not
have done so. He took him cruelly and with
out warning. He need not have done so.
Will you ever see him again? In what form,
and in what region ? Will he love you then ?



AT FAITH S MERCY. 275

And in ten, or twenty years, are you even sure
that you will love him ? " Oh, yes ! it is gen
erally the strongest souls that have these pallid
despondencies, these spiritual negations, nigh
hand to annihilation.

But with Faith it was only a passing condi
tion. Children always turn to the light, and
Faith had a child s soul. Ere long she turned
to the celestial horizons, to infinite serenities,
to love without end or limit. For her soul had
never doubted. It believed as her body
breathed, as naturally and as unconsciously. It
had no need to discuss its faith. It is the
simplest who see the clearest.

Phemie had watched her grief with a wise
and patient understanding ; knowing by some
fine womanly instinct when to leave her in soli
tude, when to call her perforce into the struggle
of life. She was glad that the spring opened
early ; that even in February there were a few
young lambs to be looked after. Then Faith
roused herself to her duty. She was again con-
stantly on the hills ; but there were few of the
valleys, or the high places, not full of the mem-
ories of her little brother David, of her neph
ews, and of Graeme.



276 A ORDER SHEPHERDESS.

She could not but remember ; and she would
have been pitifully lonely, had not one of the
dogs taken a singular affection for her. Laddie
was a noble collie who knew every sheep she
owned, and whose sagacity had saved many a
flock. During that very winter he had per
ceived the approach of a snow-storm while the
shepherds were at kirk, and without orders
driven a thousand sheep into the nearest shel
ter. When Faith began to look after the
lambs again, he positively attached himself to
her. With eyes full of unspeakable affection
in which she asserted she often saw a mist
like tears, and even the whole understanding of
her great loss he quietly watched her. And
she grew familiar with the wise and loving
creature, and often in her lonely walks talked
to him.

" I hae the heartache, Laddie ; " and Laddie
would look into her face with a sympathy that
both understood. When she sat down upon
the little knoll that had been a favorite resting-
place for Graeme and herself, Laddie lay down
gently beside her, and they had their own sail
confidences. And the fine healthful walks, the
caring for helpless creatures, and the confiding



AT FAITH S MERCY. 277

comfort of her dumb friend soon restored
Faith. She began to write longer letters to
her boys, to take her old vivid interest in all
that concerned them, to plan for their holi
days, and count away the weeks of their ab
sence.

In the month of May she heard that Lady
Seaton had returned to the Court. A severe
illness had followed her brother s death, and it
had been thought necessary to take her to the
south of France for the winter. At the time
she left, Faith was not sorry that her absence
should leave her some time to consider the best
and kindest way in which to open a subject so
painful to both. That it had to be discussed,
there was no doubt. Lord Seaton had applied
for power to control the Graeme estate on
behalf of his son s right in it. The child was
everywhere spoken of as lord of Seaton and
Graeme ; and in spite of her sympathy for Ter-
res, and her liking for the babe, Faith felt a
sentiment of anger at it. For though Lord
Graeme, in his confession to her, had never
named, nor blamed his sister ; in subsequent
necessary conversations, he had been compelled
to reluctantly adnr t that Lady Seaton was



278 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

aware of the wrong, and would surely endeavor
to take advantage of it for her son.

So, after her return, there was a feeling of
strait in Faith s mind, a determination to do
right, but to do it as kindly as possible, for the
sake of one so dear to all concerned. She
selected a morning of perfect loveliness for her
mission, and she went early after breakfast,
because Lord Seaton was then generally in the
saddle going over the estates.

Terres received her very coolly. She was not
aware that her brother had made any confes
sion. She had been hurt and scandalized by
his defiance of conventional forms in entreating
for Faith s presence in his dying moments ; and
also very much offended by Faith s ready com
pliance with his wish. She felt that her own claim
ought to have been remembered first. People
had talked, and Terres hated having her family
affairs talked about. Moreover, the meeting
amid such a crowd of witnesses prevented her
quietly smiling away any presumptions that
Lord Graeme ever really intended to marry the
shepherdess of Harribee. She was now, also,
a very great and rich lady. If Faith had shown
her some civilities in the past, she considered



AT FA I TH S MERCY. 279

that she had amply returned them. She was
quite determined that the acquaintance should
be dropped, and she received Faith in a man
ner consonant with this resolve.

" I hope you are better, Lady Seaton ? "

" I am well. And you ? "

" I am well also. How is the child ? "

She touched a bell, and ordered his lordship
to be brought in. He was a pretty boy, and
Faith noticed that his apron was ornamented
on the bosom with the united crests of Seaton
and Graeme. She looked at it, and was silent
a moment. Then she said, " Come with me,
my lady, where we can be quite alone. I have
some words to speak to you to-day."

Terres laughed a little scornfully, but there
was a sudden fear in her heart. She led Faith
\o her bedroom, and closing the door, said :
Pray what secret have you to tell me now,
Miss Harribee?"

" Have you not a secret to tell me ? "

" Certainly not."

" Will it be any secret if I tell you that the
baby we have just left is Lord o Seaton, but is
not Lord o Graeme ?

Her face blazed, she snapped the gold chain



280 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

she was fingering in two, as she answertd t
" Understand that you can not impose upon
lie with any old rubbish about private mar-
riages "

" There was no private marriage in the case
of your brother William Graeme and Beatrice
Spezia. It was a public marriage, well attested,
and my sister s husband was his lawful son."

" Proofs ! Proofs ! What do I care for your
assertion ? It is not worth the breath you make
it with."

" I have the proofs. Your brother "

" Do not name him. How dare you name
him to me?"

" Dare is a word not to be used to a Har-
ribee, man or woman. Your brother Tilbert
was my promised husband."

" You say so."

" It is true."

" Then you intended to marry him for his
title. If you could have been Lady Graeme
yourself, little you would have cared about the
right or the wrong of it."

" Of all trifles, titles are the very lightest.
In my condition I stand upon my ain feet, not
needing in any way to lean upon the great. If



AT FAITH S MERCY. 281

I had married your brother I would hae mar-
ried him only as Tilbert Graeme. I intended
to go abroad until the time to right the wrong
had come."

" Oh, indeed ! So that was Tilbert s and
your fine plan ! Heaven very wisely de
feated it."

" I didna come here to talk o the dead, but
o the living. I hae the certificate o your
brother William s marriage. I hae also the
baptismal certificate of the late Lord Roland
Graemoo And I hae a written confession which
I hope and trust you willna force me to use.
Unless it is used, the world need never ken
whether the wrong was intentional, or a mis
take. Sandy Todd kens that I hae been mak
ing inquiries, there is nane need ever know
mair than that the right has come to light
through me. Lady Seaton, I hae nae desire
to give you or yours a moment s annoyance.
Help me to do what I must do, as easily as
possible."

" My poor little boy ! He is to be made a
pauper for those two big nephews of yours."

Then she began to weep bitterly, and Faith
sat down silent and grieved, but she offered her



282 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

no consolation. After a while, Terres dried her
eyes and asked, " Why do you wish to alter
what is so suitably settled ? "

" For you, suitably settled, perhaps ; for my
nephews ? "

" If they want money, how much will satisfy
you ? I will sell my jewels. I will give you
all I have."

" All you have is too little. It is not money
I care for. If all the world were mine, I could
be no other than I am. No whit gladder, no
whit prouder. I live quietly in my own home,
out of the noise of the world ; fearing none but
God ; desiring naething but the right."

" Then why molest my little Piers?"

" Canna you see that it would be wrong to
let Piers Seaton enjoy what is truly David
Graeme s? "

" If David were willing ! Can you not
manage David? I will give him money."

" Do you really hope to make me a partner
in your sin ? If David could be bought, that
would not touch Matthew s right o succes
sion."

" Oh, Faith ! Faith, then have pity on me.
If Seaton knows the truth, he will cast me



AT FAITH S MERCY. 283

off forever. The circumstances must come
before the Lord Chancellor. They will be in
all the newspapers. Every body will be dis
cussing them ; supposing this, and suspecting
that. It would be torture to Seaton, who is
the proudest and most honorable of men. He
will insist on paying all the back rentals. It
would ruin us. When he is aware that I have
even sanctioned Tilbert s action, he will despise
me. I can fancy the look he will give me. I
do not think he will ever speak to me again.
And my poor boy ! Oh, Faith ! Oh Faith !
have some mercy on me ! "

Faith s answer came slowly and with a sense
of great effort, as if she were yielding con
science to circumstances and justice to mercy.

" Lady Seaton."

" Call me Terres ; call me sister."

" Na, na ! I will be your friend, but I will pull
no fence down between us. Lady Seaton, it
would be a wicked thing to put strife between
you and your lord, without great and good
reason. Wait a wee. We hae a border say
ing, and a gude one it is Our kindred first I
must not wrong the boys, but there is nae spe-



284 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

cial call to right them just now. Every yeai
brings it sain changes. When David is twenty.
one wha kens which of us a will be in the land
o the living?"

"Will you leave the subject until then ? "

"Yes, I will."

" Are you sure ? "

" I hae the mastery o myself."

" But will you not be going to Sandy Todd,
or others for advice ? "

"In this matter, I sail fetch my counsel
from my ain breast."

Then amid her thanks and tears she began
to blame her brother. " She could not tell how
he had been so cruel. It was pure selfishness
in him, Faith," she said passionately. " He
wanted you. He thought by confessing him
self a villain and affecting to be ashamed of it
in your presence, he \A ould touch your vanity,
and win you. He cared nothing for my honor,
or my child s."

" My lady, I will hear na mair from you.
You hae a poor sense o honor to get a word o
mercy from me, and then take out your morti
fication on ane that isna here to shut your
mouth with the truth. It is a pitiful thing to



AT FAITH S MERCY. 285

hear you ! Dinna you ken that to abuse the
dead, is to rob their ghosts o their winding
sheets? "

" Don t get into a passion, Faith Harribee.

" Passion ! I m nae in any passion. I hae
made you a promise that cost me something to
make. I wish that you had the grace to take
it in a kindly spirit."

" O, forgive me! forgive me! I am beside
myself with shame and fear and disappoint
ment. I did not think Tilbert would have told
any one. It is too bad ! How could he be so
wicked ? He was not sick, nor going to die,
nor expecting any great calamity. Faith, how
could you come here with such dreadful news ? "

Faith rose very patiently. She perceived that
at present her influence could do no good. Terres
had one of those natures that are wisely repri
manded ; fatiguing, full of incoherence, full of
contradictions. In dealing with her, it was con
tinually necessary to begin anew ; and the most
forbearing weary of conversations which arrive
at no conclusions.

" I shall go abroad, Faith Harribee. Can I
trust you ? "

" You have my promise. If I live, I sail say



286 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

nae mair until David is of age. If I die, the pros,
ecution of the claim will rest with others."

" Prosecution ! For heaven s sake choose
your words better. If you do tell before the
time named, I shall kill myself."

" I am not to be frighted in any way, Lady
Seaton. I am going awa now and you needna
be sobbing that gate. It will do you nae gude,
and be vera sure I sail do you nae ill."

It had not been in any sense a satisfactory
visit ; and it left upon Faith s mind a sense of
uncertainty that was exceedingly painful. A
week after it she heard that Lady Seaton had
gone to Italy. Seaton and Graeme were
in the hands of factors ; both houses were
closed, and in a few months the simple folk
around them ceased to talk of their doings, or
even speculate as to their return.

So summers and winters came and went, and
there were few changes in Harribee. Faith
aged some what after Graeme s death, She had
stood on the topmost line of youth and beauty
longer than most women do. Her open air
life, her freedom from great cares, her placid
cheerful temper and her religious trust exer
cised a preserving charm. But when love went



AT FAITH S MERCY. 287

out of life forever, it made a change that
all noted. It had been meridian for long
with her: suddenly it was the afternoon of
life.

But she never lacked work, and never lacked
interests outside her work. It was not enough
for her to be making money ; above all she
must be making happiness. And wisely, she
looked for her opportunities at her own hearth,
and among the people with whom she was con
nected. She talked with her shepherds, and
when she discovered that a few pounds to fur-
nish a cottage would make a couple of young
hearts happy, the cottage was furnished. She
sent young gin: oil to service v/ith kists full of
warm and suitable clothing. She could always
spare a few sovereigns to keep old men and
old women out of the fields in the winter time.
She discovered among her herdsmen a born
preacher, and she sent him to school and to
college, and had the felicity to know that he
became a great apostle. Her charity was uni
versal ; developing every hour into little unre-
membered deeds of kindness, of which none
took much note ; which would never win a
word of public recognition, and yet which were



288 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

worth far more than much that obtains public
recognition.

When David was nineteen, she took the boys
one summer morning up the fell with her.
They climbed as high as the preacher s stone,
and looked over the beautiful land rolling away
to the horizon beneath them. Faith was think
ing of the future, but insensibly they fell into
conversation about the past. In his slow,
thoughtful way, as he let his eyes wander over
the Harribee fells, Matthew said, " I do wish
I had borne the grand old name, I should have
been proud of it."

Faith looked eagerly at him, and then turned
to David " would you also like to be called
Harribee, David ? " she asked.

" It is a good name, Aunt Faith, and I am
glad of my share in it. But I have nothing
against my father s name. I know that he was
neither a martyr nor a saint, that he was only
a poor player, but he did his work cheer
fully and well. He was kind and honest
and much loved. No, I would prefer to re
main David Graeme. But I would gladly
take down the sword of Elias Harribee and



AT FAITH S MERCY. 289

have a commission in the Cameronian Regi
ment.

" Sae you sail, David ! Sae you sail ! The
sword o Elias Harribee isna for this day s
fighting, but you sail hae your ain sword, and
your ain company if you would really like it."

" Yes, I would really like it."

" I am proud o your choice, David. Now,
Matthew, tell us what you would like best
to be."

" I will be a Cameronian also, Aunt Faith ;
but I would rather go into the kirk than the
army."

" Then I am a happy woman this day. And
now you shall baith go to Edinburgh, and hae
every chance for your future that love and siller
can give you, but I want you baith to ken, that
I hae none but you twa, and that I am a rich
woman, and can gie you every desire of your
hearts I mean every wise one not that I hae
money for wastrie, for I havena, but there is
enough in Harribee and Hawick for a things
reasonable."

" And I call that riches, Aunt Faith," said
David ; " for what says the dearest singer in all
the world?



29 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

* It s no in titles nor in rank,
It s no in wealth like Lon on bank.

To purchase peace or rest;
It s no in making muckle mair,
It s no in books: it s no in lear,

To make us truly blest;
If happiness have not her seat,

And centre in the breast,
We may be wise, or rich, or great,

But never can be blest, "

" Are you sure that is a bit o Robert Burns?
Our Kirk doesna think weel o him, but there s
nae thing wrong in thae words. Your grand-
fayther used to say, that folks who sang,
frighted trouble awa from them, but he, puir
laddie ! supped his cupful. I hae often felt
sorry for him. puir lad ! Puir, foolish, kindly
lad ! "



CHAPTER XVI.

THE CAPTAIN AND THE MINISTER.

" Dear youths, gray books no blossoms bear ;

You have enough of learning ;
For life s green fields your march prepare,

And take a friendly warning.
I would not have you longer stay

To read of others striving ;
Wield your own arm ! the only way
To know life is by living."

PROF. BLACKIE.

HHHERE are experiences, after which we
J. never more take life in the same way;
never more are what we were before them.
The death of Graeme was such a crisis to
Faith ; after it, age began to touch her gently,
now and then, and here and there. She held
the world with a looser grip. She had turned
her face to the west. But life has always com
pensations, and no one who saw Faith s happy
face, could doubt that she felt hers to be suffi
cient.

As the time of the boys majority drew
near, she was often thoughtful, and she began



292 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

to talk of taking a journey to Edinburgh.
Phemie was fretted at her restlessness, " if
you ll hae patience, Faith," she said, " the gude
that is for you will come to you. The laddies
be to finish their classes, and you going to
Edinburgh willna hurry the hour by a mo
ment."

" I ken what for, I m going, Phemie."

Phemie had become very helpless. She sat
most of her time in the chimney corner, or in
the sunny doorway, with her knitting in her
hand, and the ball of yarn moving softly at her
feet.

" Her work was done," she said ; " she was
wearying to hear God s voice, for she kent weel,
there would be mair wark, and better wark laid
out for her over-by."

Faith hesitated about leaving her, but finally
one lovely morning in June, she came down
stairs dressed for a journey. Before going she
went to her father s desk, and took out of an
unlocked drawer, a ring. She had been quite
aware of its presence in that drawer almost all
her life, but until lately had never felt any par
ticular interest in it. When she reached Edin
burgh, she did not go at once to her nephew s



THE CAPTAIN AND THE MINISTER. 293

lodgings, but to a splendid mansion in the
suburbs of the city.

" I hae heard tell, that the Duke of Lauder-
dale is staying here," she said to the footman.
" If sae, tell him there is ane that would hae
"ioeech with him."

After some delay she was admitted to his
} resence. He was a very old man, and he
peered curiously at Faith as she advanced
toward him. But Faith was in no ways em
barrassed. She bowed courteously and pre
sented to him the ring, saying,

" Your Grace nae doubt remembers the
token between yoursel ;;:::d my fayther ; and
the promise given with ths pledge."

He looked earnestly at the ring a moment,
and answered : " I do ndeed ! Madame, is
my preserver Matthew Harribee still living?"

" He was ta en up higher, many a year syne.
I am his daughter Faith. Can I claim the
promise in his place?"

"On this ring you may claim all I can do
for you."

" My fayther s name is like to perish on Esk
Water. I, alone, am left of the Harribees.
But I hae twa nephews called Graeme, and ane



294 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

o them, a pious, learned lad, wishes to take
the name o Harribee. Can you get this favor
for him, and for me, duke ? "

" It is but a small favor. It were indeed a
pity if so noble a strain lost their name in
Eskdale. You may consider the request
granted. Give me the address of your lawyer.
All business connected with the matter can be
transacted through him. It will spare you
some troublesome writing."

"Put down Sandy Todd of Hawick. He
kens a anent our business and our family."

"As to the other young man? Have you
any request to make for him?"

" He is aye talking of a captain s commis
sion in his fore-elders regiment, the Cameron-
ians."

" And he must have it, madame. You will
permit me to use my influence."

" The siller for it is lying with Sandy Todd;
but I ken that siller is but a part o the busi
ness. If you will say the gude word, and the
strong word, you can sae weel say, I will thank
you, duke."

"And you must take back this ring. I ask
that the young soldier keep it. Tell him that



THE CAPTAIN AND THE MINISTER. 295

it has been worn by the dukes of Lauderdale
since the days of the third James. I do not


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale → online text (page 13 of 15)