Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale online

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale → online text (page 15 of 15)
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If you break it, though I be at the world s end,
I will come home and take my own."


He did not wait for her answer, and without
even a glance at the fuming woman he left the
room. She was purple and panting with excite
ment, and yet amid all her anger, a fierce joy
made her act with an unwomanly bravado of
gayety. Her lord turned away from her noisy
greeting with annoyance, and pleading unusual
fatigue ordered a light dinner in his own room.
And then the reaction came, and she threw
herself with passionate tears by her son s bed-
side, and the boy was awakened by her sobbing
and said petulantly, as she tried to kiss him :

" Oh, mamma ! I wish you would let me
sleep ! You are so tiresome and so queer ! "

" So tiresome and so queer ! And that was all
her reward for wretched years a husband, to
whom she did not dare to trust the knowledge
of her evil deed a son who thought her irre
pressible emotion tiresome and queer! "

In Harribee Home there was a very different
scene. After a description of his interview with
Lady Seaton after Matthew had been praised
for his wisdom, and the final disposition of the
papers were arranged for, David and Matthew
sat down with Faith for their evening meal.
Phemie was in the chimney-corner, and David


himself put her cup by her side and gave her
the few delicate morsels she could eat. It was
perhaps the proudest moment of Phemie s life,
and she looked with an adoring affection on the
handsome young soldier.

The Seatons were put out of every one s
thoughts. David had made himself familiar
with the history of his famous regiment, and
Faith and Matthew sat listening with glowing
faces to the story of its doings in modern times
how it had fought under Preston in the
American war, where its unfortunate Major
Andr6 so sadly perished how Lord John
Elphinstone had led it on the plains of Egypt ;
and the border gentleman Maxwell through
the horrors of Corunna, and how in China it
had won the dragon that adorned its colors.

" They are braw, braw lads ! " cried Faith
proudly, " and I am weel pleased that my lad
is ane o them."

But it was a still prouder day when the little
stone kirk was finished and the Rev. Matthew
Harribee preached to a congregation of plain,
thoughtful shepherds and farmers his first ser
mon. The ecclesiastical spirit of his race had
culminated in Matthew Harribee. He was a


minister after these men s own hearts. The
extremest doctrines of John Calvin were
neither blinked nor clipped by him, and his
flocks were fed, as Faith wished they should be,
with the strong meat of the word. And Faith
was a true woman. She liked a man whom
she could honor and look up to, and in some
measure obey ; so Matthew, after his first ser
mon, was an indisputable authority to her.

Changes came with every year. First Phemie
went peacefully away. Faith and Matthew sat
with her through her last earthly night ; and
just before the great change came, Matthew
asked, " How are you feeling now, Phemie ? "

" Weel, vera weel, minister, just a bit confused
with the flitting."

Then Matthew married a good, bonnie girl
with both land and siller, and a new wing was
built to Harribee ; and the minister s study,
and the pretty parlors and sleeping rooms were
just a wonder to the simple shepherds.

But Faith did not grow to the changes that
were as inevitable as the law of progress. As
her old servants died off, she began to be aware
that she was lonely in spite of the new ties try-
ina to claso her on every side She loved


Matthew s boys and girls dearly, but not as she
had loved Matthew himself, and his brother
David. The tints of earth grew paler, its
affections less potent. Spring was not so
jocund, summer was not so brilliant, nor
autumn so wealthy, nor winter so stimula

Still, if she had outgrown the vividness of
her joys, she had also outlived the bitterness of
every sorrow. Upon her lips, prayer and sup
plication had insensibly turned to praise. But
such changes, sharply defined by a few words,
were in reality hardly perceptible to those con
stantly around her. True, she went very seldom
up the fells. She had less color in her cheeks,
and more snow upon her hair, but these
things were but natural symptoms of advancing
age. Not even Matthew, or his wife Jean, no
ticed them particularly. And she never spoke
of that singular feeling in her own heart that
feeling which all true workers have welcomed
when their task was nearly done that sense of
pleasant weariness when the last chapter of the
book is finished, the last touch added to the
painting, the last acre cleared upon the farm
that fiat of accomplishment on any true labor,


which always brings the secret of the Master s

One morning, just at that time when English.
men were clamoring for an Abyssinian war,
David suddenly appeared at Harribee. He had
brought his own news, not having time to
write. The Cameronians were under orders for
the mystical old African land, and he was full
of military ardor. If Faith loved either of her
boys better than the other, it was David
Graeme. His visit was the highest grace life
could now give her. They had some hours of
sweetest communion ; some short pilgrimages
to all the spots upon the hills sacred to the
memories of joys past over. And they drove
as far as Graeme Castle and round by Seaton
Court, and perhaps drew closer to each other,
because they did not chatter away the emotions
in their hearts. Indeed their conversation re
ferring to the past was of the most fragmentary
character, but it was sufficient for their peace
and confidence.

" You have not regretted, David ? " and
Faith looked from the grey old castle into the
young soldier s face.

" I have not had a moment s serious regret


Remember what I have seen ; where I am now
going; the life of honorable labor and change
1 have had. You know the contrast. I have
the better lot."

" When I am dead let Lady Seaton have the

" If you wish it."

" Who can injure the dead ? and I forgive

* She might say evil of you."

" I shall be far beyond her power."

" It might annoy Matthew "

" True. Then if Matthew is willing, give her
Ine papers with a kind word from me."

" We will do what you wish, dear aunt."

When she bid David farewell, she felt it to
be her final one. In spite of every body s ef
forts, an irrepressible sadness pervaded the
parting. Matthew thought it was in his
brother. " I noticed a shadow on his face all
the time, aunt. Does he regret what he re
signed ?"

" Oh, no ! It is not that. The lad is bear
ing a sorrow vera few hearts escape. He has
been deceived by his first love ; a bit silly
lassie that left him for an ?arl auld enough to


be her fayther. But our David isna one to cry
long after a false love. He kens weel, that our
ain love is but a small part o life. There is
the love o God and man. There is duty and
honor, and honest work, and the saving o hon
est siller. But my heart aches with his heart,"
she said softly, " it is a sair pain to thole while
it lasts."

One July morning she received a letter from
David. It was a very exciting one, full of
adventures strange and wonderful as an Ara
bian tale. Her cheeks flushed and her eyes
sparkled to its enthusiasm. She sat musing
about it hour after hour, once or twice surpris
ing every one by singing softly a verse or two
of some old border ballad. In the afternoon
she walked far up the hills, even to the Preach
er s Stone, and came home weary, and yet with
a singular gayety of spirits.

The baby her own namesake was sleeping
in the cradle. She took her knitting and sat
down beside it ; and Matthew passing through
the room noticed the stillness and happiness of
her countenance. He did not speak to her, for
he thought in his heart " she is praying."

Thus, while her work was in her hands, ere

CO. V 7 E.\ T. 3 2 5

suffering or decay had touched her, " a word
was brought to her. The King himself desired
her presence." She went instantaneously with
out any consciousness of pain or parting. It
was as if death had gently hastened her, " the
King s command being urgent," and she, with
that alert obedience she loved, had answered,
" Lord, here am I."

They buried her among the generations of
her own people in the kirk-yard on the fells.
The great sycamores whisper above her grave
and the steadfast hills are round about it, but

" Her soul, her body s guest
Is hence ascended, whither, neither Time,
Nor Faith, nor Hope, but only Love can climb.**


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1072 Border shepherd-




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