Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale online

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that is na in your mind, the sooner we each
gae our ain way and the better it will be in the
end I m thinking."

But Archie at the sight of her grand resolute
face became his best self. " I ll do a you ask
o* me, Faith," he said. " There is naething I
willna do to pleasure you. There is nane I
willna love for your sake."

And their talk was so sweet, so full of
confidence and of good resolves, that Archie
really thought no man had ever been so happy
as he was, when Faith stood at the gate with
him saying a loving lingering good-by, in the
light of the splendid harvest-moon.

Phemie was locking up the presses and doors
of the house when she returned to it ; and Faith
was pained by her silent, sorrowful manner*
" There is to be neither secrets, nor ill-will
between you and me, Phemie, and sae sit down,
and listen, and I will tell you what Archie and
I hae settled on."

Phemie listened, but with a grim and unbe
lieving face. "Sae he is coming here?" she

" It is the best for a . He is doing right


weel, he says, but what need to spend siller
furnishing anither hame ? "

"Him, doin weel!" she cried scornfully.
" Him doin weel ! He is always at a loose end !
He is the maist careless shepherd on the fells !
He could mak his will on his thumb nail if he
died to-night ; and his gude sense would be
dear at a groat ! And I ll tell you the truth for
once aboot Archie Renvvick he s mair aften
in the change-house than in any ither place ;
singing, and laughing, and drinking, and quar
reling, and never quiet till he is lying under a
table, or in a hedge-bottom. Him doin weel !
Ridic lous ! Parfectly ridic lous ! "

" You hae ta en an ill-will at Archie, Phemie ;
and there is nae use heeding you. But an auld
woman like you should hae some charity, and
scorn to let her tongue serve the clash and
clatter o the country-side."

" Hear-you-but ! Clash and clatter ! Deed
ma am, my tongue is my ain, and I m too auld
to mak it call black white ; and evil gude.
But I hae warned you, though I ken weel you ll
tak your ain way whatever road it leads you.
I see that fine ! Sae, if you hae made up your
mind to hae his love, and sup sorrow wi it,


heed but ane word I say keep the staff in your
ain hand, dinna let him hae power o er the
vallidom o a thimble."

And Faith, sad and sighing, went up-stairs
without further argument. The human heart
flies from renunication, and this night, at least,
she was thoroughly tired with her share of
earth s unrest. But the sea is not fuller of
water, than the heart of a loving woman of
hope, long-suffering, trust and forgiveness.
What infinite treasures must love possess, to
squander them so continually and so lavishly
upon the unworthy !



" Love gives esteem and then he gives desert ;
He either finds equality or makes it ;
Like death he knows no difference in degrees,
But plains and levels all." DRYDEN.

" All love is sweet,

Given or returned. Common as light is love
And its familiar voice wearies not ever."

ONE evening about a week after this event
Faith was compelled to go to Mosskirtle.
She did not take Davie with her. There had
been several days of heavy rain, and the night
fall promised to be chill and misty. Some
sudden domestic necessity had induced the
walk, and she had had no opportunity of send
ing Archie word. But she was almost certain
to meet him in the village, and with this con
viction in her heart, she began her walk.

Arrived at Mosskirtle she made the few pur
chases she needed at the village shop, and then


turned homeward again, a little depressed.
She had seen nothing of her lover but as she
passed the change-house, a man standing at the
door went in, and she had the conviction, that
he knew Archie was there, and had gone to tell
him of her presence in the village. She walked
a little slower, hoping that her lover would
overtake her, but after going a few hundred
yards she still found herself alone. The road
both before and behind her was enveloped in
mist, chilly, damp and depressing. It ha<
driven the very children from their play in the
streets, and she suddenly pulled her plaid closer
around her breast and began to hurry her

Her heart was heavy and pained. It was
useless to reason with and tell it that she had
not one particle of any kind of proof that
Archie was in the change-house, and knew
that she was walking home in the fast gather
ing shadows alone. A woman is more influ
enced by what she divines than by what she is
told. Faith knew he was in the change-house,
knew that he was aware she had just passed it.
What she was uncertain about was her lover s
motive for neglecting her. Perhaps he had


taken a glass too much; was "a little fresh,"
and rather ashamed of the condition ; or per.
haps he had been twitted about his attentions
to her ; and she did not like to think it; and
yet, such a vain man as Renwick might be
annoyed by the banter.

She was quick-witted enough to fancy the
bent of the conversation that had made him
show the silly chaps around him that he was
his ain master, and not bound to run after any
woman. Tom Ogle would be saying, " steady
yoursel , Archie Renwick ! There is Faith
Harribee passing, and if ye dinna rin after her
you ll be missing her bit o siller." And Dick
of Linton would add, " Rin, man ! rin ! or you ll
ne er come into the charge o" Harribee." And
if Tom of Out-by was within hearing he would
remember the sharp words said to him last
week about driving sheep too long adrift, and
he d be sure to growl out wi* a sneer, " Run
awa , Archie ! If you dinna lackey my lady
you ll be in for a whiff-whaff o her sharp
temper. I can tell you a she gave me a reg lar
sisserara not a week gone by, for being a wee
bit hurrysome with the young sheep."

Oh, she knew it all, as well as if she had


heard every little jeering word and laugh, and
she understood Archie s false shame and
affected independence. If he should deny
every word of her suspicion, she felt that it
would be very hard to put away her own con
victions, and believe him. Occupied with such
thoughts she did not perceive that she had
taken the shortest way home, the way that led
her across the moss. During the summer
months it was her usual route, but after the
last week s rains its safety was a very serious

She stood a moment to consider herself.
The misty evening gloom had stolen over all
the landscape. It was a lonely, mournful scene,
and its silence smote sadly upon her heart. But
as she turned her face to Harribee, the lights of
the farm-house twinkled suddenly through the
foggy shadows. The road she was on was the
nearest road to its homely comfort. To take
the safer one she would have to go back at
least a quarter of a mile. After a moment s
pause she went boldly forward.

" Faith ! Faith Harribee ! Turn back ! For
your life, turn back ! Do not stop to think !
Turn at once."


The words were hoarse and passionate, and
cut the thick air like a voice of fate. They
were uttered in a shout full of the agony of
fatal apprehension and of mortal terror , and
Faith, trembling and sick at heart, glanced at
her feet. Rapid as thought she perceived her
danger. The ground was quaking and settling
beneath her. To stand still was to be buried
alive. Quick as a flash of light she turned, and
with difficulty lifting her feet, leaped from tus
sock to tussock of peat with the same rapidity
and power which had once before carried her
safely along Johnston s Scaur in the terror of
that fatal snow-storm. All the time, the same
voice was urging and hurrying her, and when
at length she stood panting and trembling on
the solid stony road, a hand grasped her
shoulder tightly, and a man said in tones
equally blent in love and anger :

" Oh, Faith ! Faith ! A woman like you to
be such a fool ! You ought to be ashamed of
yourself ! Oh, Faith, if I had seen you sink
into the moss! You have made me sick with
terror, woman ! "

His voice had a sob in it. He seemed almost
as much overcome as Faith, and she was blind


and tottering, and on the very verge of losing
consciousness. They stood together ; he had
passed his arm around her, and drawn her
tightly to his side, and for some moments she
was only aware of needed support, and quite
unable to resist that which was offered her.

But very quickly she recovered herself, and
her first movement was to look at her compan
ion. In the dim light his eyes glowed and
shone like stars, and pain and joy struggled on
his countenance. With burning cheeks she
withdrew herself from his embrace.

" Lord Graeme, you hae saved my life. I
thank you baith for mysel and for the laddie
that is dearer than life to me."

"Confusion, Faith! Do you think I saved
you for Renwick? I saved you for myself.
You belong to me now, Faith."

" You mistake me. I was meaning my puir
wee brother Davie."

" I am glad of that, Faith. Yet the fools
around here say you are going to marry Ren-
wick. I thought better of you than to believe
it a wild, drunken, loose-at-end, go-down-hill,

" I am going to marry Renwick, lord, sae


dinna miscall him to me. I m no caring to list
en to you, and I must be hurrying hame.
Davie will be needing me. But I m vera grate
ful to you. You were God s messenger to me.
I ll ne er forget this hour."

" Stay, Faith, you shall not go yet, unless I
may walk with you. If I am God s messenger
to-night, you must listen to me. I want you.
I want you for my wife. You can make a good
man of me. Upon my soul, I will be a good
husband to you. Come like an angel to castle
Graeme and bring a nobler life with you. I
know I have been an ill man ; but I ll be a good
man, if you will help me."

" There s nane but God can help you to turn
an ill life into a gude life. Nane but God,
Graeme. I canna be your wife. It would be a
wrong all around a wrong to you and to your
sister ; a wrong to mysel and to my wee
brother ; a wrong to Renwick for I hae given
him my troth-word and I love him, and dinna
love you."

"You do love me, Faith ; I know you do.
My soul knows your soul. Whether you be
lieve me or not, you are mine."

" Graeme, Graeme, dinna say such awfu


words. I love God. Hoo then can I love
you ? "

" How can you tell that God does not love

"You said yoursel" that you were an ill man.
I was wrang to judge you anyway. Forgie me,
and let me take the hame road."

" Let me walk with you."

" Na, na ! Folks will say wrang o me."

" It is dark now."

" All the waur. What I wouldna do at the
noon hour, I wouldna do at the dark hour."

" Then stand here until I have had my say.
If you will not be my wife, at least let me warn
you against Renwick. He is as bad a man as I
am in a ruder way. He has wasted all the
money his decent father left him. He is mar
rying you in the hopes of controlling the Har-
ribee property."

" I canna credit what you say, lord. Some ane
has told you lies. Every body is against Archie.
The mair reason I should stand by him."

" Faith, I hold a bond over every thing he
once possessed. When I choose to draw it
tight, he will walk out of Shepherd s Bush
poorer than he will be on h s death-day."


" Maybe, lord, he ll be richer than mortal
man can count on his death-day. He comes o
pious folk, and I hae that hope for him."

" God-a-mercy, woman ! Cannot you see that
you are going to wed sorrow, and shame, and
poverty ? Oh, Faith ! listen to me ! I love
you. Renwick loves himself himself only. If
you will marry me, then we will take that poor
little brother of yours to the best doctors in
all the world. In London, Paris and Vienna
there are men whose wonderful skill can be
bought for money. I will not spare gold. If
it be possible, he shall have his full senses back

" If God will. But I thank you mair for
what you hae said, than for my ain life. Maybe
if I hadna had the wherewith your words would
hae been a sair temptation to me ; but God be
thankit, Davie s fayther left lying siller, and
plenty o it, to pay doctors and I hae a bit
siller mysel if it also were needed."

"You will not have siller long if you marry
Renwick, Faith, think of what a pleasure it
would be to the child to travel all over the
world. If any thing can quicken his numb
faculties, it is travel and change."


" Oh Graeme ! Dinna tempt me to do wrang
that gude may come. It never comes that
gate to be worth any thing. God bless you,
lord, for what you hae done and offered this
night, but you mustna hinder me langer now."

"And you are determined to marry Ren

" I hae said sae."

" Then you will marry a beggar. Not another
hour of mercy will I give him. Any ill deed
that I can do to him, you may be sure it will
pleasure me to do."

" Forewarned is forearmed, lord. You arena
God Almighty, and you can but gae as far as
you are let gae."

" Once more, Faith ! dear Faith ! sweet Faith !
Once more I entreat you to be my wife."

" Gude night, Lord Graeme. I must take my
ane way, and you canna walk with me in it. You
would hae to be born again afore we two could
be weel matched. Gude-night, lord."

" Remember, Faith, that I have saved your
life. I have a claim on you that no other
human being has ; besides, I love you, Faith."

He said the words slowly, and with a soft,
tender intonation that moved her more than she


would acknowledge, and all the way home she
was in a condition full of a strange turmoil,
troubled, and angry, and fearful, and yet deeply
grateful to God, and not insensible to the un
mistakable affection of her preserver.

Phemie had become very anxious about her.
" I was feared for the moss," she explained.
"You hae crossed it a few times this summer,
and I misdoubted you wad be trying it again."

" Had it not been for Lord Graeme I had
been smoored in it this vera hour. Summer or
winter, I ll cross it nae mair." Then she told
Phemie the whole circumstance, and Phemie
listened without a comment.

"You are wet-shod, Faith. If you dinna
want to get your death frae the moss, ane way
or tither, change your stockings and shoon,
and I ll mak* you a cup o tea and toast you a

"Where is Davie?"

" Whar he ought to be ; in his bed and fast

As she was drinking her tea, Phemie said :
" I thocht you reckoned on Renwick coming
hame wi you ? "

"I ne er saw him."



Then there was a long pause, and Faith
sipped her tea and Phemie knit her stocking.
Only the tick, tick, of the clock broke the
silence. But Phemie saw that Faith s hands
trembled, and that she was unusually flushed
and excited. She did not press, however, for
her confidence, and Faith, probably because she
was not asked, very soon told all that Lord
Graeme had said to her.

Phemie was not astonished. She had been
long aware of Graeme s affection, and she an
swered : " Ay, you might be sure he wad
speak up for himsel wi such a gude oppor
tunity to help him. Howe er, when a woman
has the offer o two bad husbands, she ought
at least to tak the best o the twa, and I m no
sure but the best is Graeme."

" If you had an opinion about Archie,
Phemie, I would try to convince you how un
just you are. But you are just prejudiced, and
wha can conquer a prejudice ? I ll no try to do
it any mair. I dinna believe I am deceived in
Archie. If I thocht I was, I should be miserable."

" Not you. It isna being deceived that
troubles a woman i love ; it is being undeceived.


That s what mak s her miserable. But hold
your ain a wee, Faith ; you are a wise lass, and
if at the lang end sorrow comes to you, there s
aye one gude thing to think o* great trials
teach us great lessons."

" I dinna set much by such comfort as that,
Phemie, Oh, woman ! you are but a Job s com
forter. You might whiles hae a cheery word
to say to an axious troubled heart."

" Weel, then, Faith, I ll gie you a few o your
auld fayther s words, and whether your lover
be gude or bad, you may lippen to them
turn your face to God, and you have found
the sunny side of life. "

While this conversation was going on, Lord
Graeme was talking to his sister on the same
subject. The adventure of the evening had
moved him even more than it had moved
Faith. He went home full of a new project ;
one which had sprung naturally from Faith s
assertion that their marriage would be a wrong
both to himself and to Miss Graeme. He was
confident that Faith was afraid of his sister ;
awed by her position, her domineering manner,
even by her beauty, and the devotion of her
life to himself.


Then he must induce Terres to go and plead
his cause. The plan at first thought seemed to
him an impossible one, but it is the impossible
in our lives which is most likely to occur, and
the more Lord Graeme thought of the feelings
likely to exist between his sister and his love,
the more sure he was that only Terres could
remove the secret obstacles in Faith s mind.

When he reached the castle it was quite dark
outside, but several of the rooms were full of
light, and in one of them Terres sat at the
piano, singing. For several years she had very
rarely played, and it seemed to Lord Graeme
that it was half a life-time since he had heard
her singing. A woesome little ballad it was
that now broke the silence the " good-night " of
one of her own ancestors flying for life into
exile, in order to avoid the punishment of his
bloody passionate hatred a ballad steeped in
evil and sorrowful memories, and yet he could
not choose but stand and listen to the verse she
was rendering, so charmful were the weird notes
of masterful affection and threat

" Then he took off a gay gold ring,

Whereat hung signets three,
Here tak" thee that my ain dear thing
And still hae mind o me.


But if thou choose another lord

Ere I come owre the sea,
His life has but a three days lease

Though I may not stay with thee."

" Terres, why do you sing such an unlucky
ditty? Nobody but a Scot will date from a
misfortune, or sing of sorrow. There are plenty
of happier songs."

" I like this song. It blends with things in
my own soul that I can interpret in no other

" But why to-night ? "

" Because to-night I met Will Forster."

Lord Graeme s first thought was a scornful
and angry one, and the answer upon his lips
was to express this thought. But the memory
of Faith restrained it. If he desired his sister s
sympathy, he would be both wise and kind to
give what he asked. So he restrained the unkind
words, and inquired with a gloomy curiosity
and interest concerning the meeting. " I went
riding, early this evening. In the little wood
that skirts the moss, there is, you know, only a
very narrow bridle path. The spot was a
favorite rendezvous for Will and me in the old
days ; I am still foolish enough to like to visit
it. I was thinking of Will, and all at once I saw


him in the path. He stood aside to let me pass,
and as our eyes met, I said Will. Then he
lifted his hat and passed on without a word.
Passed on without a word, Tilbert. I thought
I should fall from my horse. I turned sick. I felt
as if I were going blind. But I forced my soul to
bear it all. I said to it, Don t be a coward !
A mean coward, and sneak away into oblivion!
Whatever is to bear, bear it. Then I was at
the gate and Gill rode forward and opened it>
and I said to him with as little concern as I
could affect, "^Who is the gentleman we
passed ? " and he answered, Lord Seaton. "

"Then Forster has come to the title! Who
could have supposed that possible ? "

" He was related to the Seatons. Of course
he concluded that I was now anxious to con
ciliate him. No wonder he snubbed my
advance. Oh, Tilbert, I feel so bitterly

" I will call upon Lord Seaton. I will take
all the blame. It was my fault, Terres."

" No, no, no ! Not to save my life should
you make a shadow of concession now. That
would be too humiliating."

" The humiliation would be mine."


" Oh Tilbert you look at every thing as it
affects you personally ! Can not you understand
how I feel without my putting my feelings into
words ? And how can you offer courtesy to
Lord Seaton you refused to Captain Forster ?
It was so unfortunate ! So unfortunate I spoke
to him ! I shall never forgive myself ! "

" We are an unfortunate house about love

She rose wearily and said, " That is an old
story. Come, let us have tea. I have been
waiting for you."

He gave her his arm and they went into a
small parlor on the other side of the hall, a
pretty room curtained and upholstered in rose-
colored brocade and lighted by hanging lamps
under pink shades. The brilliant color was a re
markable background for both brother and sis
ter, and their pale faces and black shining eyes,
their rich silk and fine broadcloth, made telling
contrasts with it ; to which the blazing fire, gay
china, and bright silver added picturesque
gleams of shifting color.

Lord Greame did not immediately introduce
his own love trouble. He thought it best to
let Terres " talk out " the unusual event that


had happened to her. But when this was done,
and the meal finished, and the room quite quiet,
he roused her from the reverie in which she sat
by remarking :

" It must be a fate night with the Graemes.
I also have had an adventure. Faith Harribee
would be dead and buried at this moment but
for me. She was on the quaking moss, and 1
saved her. That is a claim she can not deny."

Terres did not answer the remark, but reclin
ing in her chair, she watched her brother s face
with a very unusual interest. Something in her
own heart made her in that hour understand the
longing and the suffering in his heart. And this
unexpected tolerance was aided by several con
siderations inclining her toward a calm discus
sion, at least, of his hopes and wishes. He had
given her attention and sympathy, it was diffi
cult to refuse him an equal courtesy. And there
could be no better way of convincing Lord
Seaton that station and wealth were not " the
all and the wherefore " of her conduct, than by
heartily endorsing her brother s humble choice.
So, as these thoughts flashed through her mind,
she remained silent, but not aggressively silent.

Indeed, there was so much of reasonable


interest in her face that Graeme rose eagerly to
his feet, and standing before her asked, " Is it
possible you are going to help me, Terres ? "

" I was thinking what strange misfortune has
always clung to the loves of our house. Sup
pose we try and make one true love run straight
to a happy consummation. If it were possible
we might break the evil spell. III fortune
slips awa when love smiles is an old saying,
but yet "

" Nay, do not qualify your kindness with a
* but. Promise me to go and see Faith."

" If you wish it, I will go."

" And when ? To-morrow ? Go to-morrow,

" I will go to-morrow in the morning."

" My good sister! And if there is any word
to be said, any thing a man may do, to be done
about Seaton "

" If you meet him, give him his own courtesy
- the lifted hat and silence. I shall never for
give you if you take one step toward him."

" He may still love you."

" Less love than the old love I would never
accept. The old love would have held my
bridle, and found some words to say for itself.


I am not the same Terres Graeme to Will, and
when a woman is not the same to her lover, she
may as well be the most indifferent of women
to him. My past is slain beyond healing or re
covery ; there may perhaps be something done
to make your future happy. And after all, who
is so dear to me as you are, Tilbert? And why
should you not have the wife you want ? The
Graeme ennobles any one he marries. And she
stood up beside her brother, looking into his
face with shining eyes ; while he drew her with
in his arm, and answered.

" I have you always, Terres. I have the best
sister in the world. If any one else fails me, I
have Terres."



" Eighty years hence it will matter little whether we were a
peasant or a peer, but it will matter much, whether we did our

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale → online text (page 5 of 15)