Copyright
Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale online

. (page 6 of 15)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale → online text (page 6 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


duty as one or the other." STOPFORD BROOKE.

" Time, the shuttle drives, but you
Give to every thread its hue
And elect your destiny," BuRLElGH.

T^HE next morning was clear and frosty, and
X Terres Graeme prepared for her visit by a
long solitary walk over Dead-for-cold hill. She
was on its bushless track absolutely alone. There
was no trace of man, of plowing, nor planting,
nor building. All around her the hill-tops fol
lowed each other in wavy outlines, rising, fall
ing, blending, until her eyes rested on the long
soft lines of a sea of hills, whose tops steadfast
and motionless, seemed, as the vision were car
ried along them, to be undulating and moving
an earth-ocean lying in the deep blue haze of
the borders.

It was a grand council chamber fora restless,



TERRES AND FAITH. "5

unhappy soul, and Terres was insensibly soft
ened and elevated by her walk through it. She
was distinctly conscious of a great change in
the spiritual atmosphere when she reached
Mosskirtle with its queer jumble of low gray
houses, every house standing alone ; every
house looking to a different quarter ; all of them
keeping an air of watching, as if it were still
necessary to keep a constant eye upon the
English border.

She had ordered her carriage to be in wait
ing here for her, and in half an hour she was at
Harribee Home. There was no drive through
the garden ; it was necessary to alight at
the wicket, and walk up the central path to the
front door. So Faith saw her coming, and she
tvent to meet her.

" I am an unusual visitor, Miss Harribee."
" You are vera welcome. Come in."
For a moment she stood with the handle of
the best-parlor door in her hand, then she said,
" it is but a cold-like and gloomy room. The
houseplace and the fire will be better, I m think-
ing."

" A great deal better. I am chill and tired
I came over Dead-for-cold-hill."



Il6 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

" Whate er sent you that road, Ma am ? It
is a lonely bit to travel, and bleak and eerie."

"But how cozy and comfortable is this place!"
and she sank with an air of real enjoyment into
the large cushioned chair which Faith placed
for her on the very edge of the sheep-skin rug.
The large room was exquisitely clean ; the fire
was blazing high up the wide chimney, and the
table running along the room beneath the two
windows was piled with clean linen which Faith
was sprinkling and folding ready for the iron.

Davie lay upon the rug, building sheep-folds
with some colored blocks, and when Miss Terres
spoke to him, he turned his wistful blue eyes
upon her and seemed to be greatly impressed
by her fine appearance. Proud and passionate
as she was, Terres Graeme had a womanly pity
for the boy. She had heard of his calamity,
and when he touched softly her satin gown, and
the white minever with which it was trimmed,
she stooped and kissed him.

The action touched Faith in a way she did
not try to understand. Tears came to her
eyes, and to hide them she turned to the linen
and began sprinkling it. Terres was fascinated
by her grace and beauty, and especially by the



TERRES AND FAITH. I If

sense of strength and tenderness which diffused
itself around her like an atmosphere. There
was a few minutes silence, during which Terres
watched her scattering the drops of water over
the lawn kerchiefs she was folding. Then she
said,

" Do not stay your work for me. I like to
watch you at it. Faith Harribee, I have no
doubt that you can guess why I have called to
see you this morning."

" Would you be sae kind, ma am, as to tell
me why ? I am gay stupid at guessing things."

" I came to tell you that I do really wish you
to listen to what Lord Graeme says. I will
gladly give you a sister s welcome, Faith. Do
not refuse my brother because you fear me."

" There is naething to fear me anent you,
Miss Graeme. I dinna think o fearing man nor
woman."

" What then hinders? Is not Graeme hand
some, rich, noble, every thing that women
desire ? He can make you a great lady. I am
sure he will make you happy."

41 Honors and riches canna buy a true heart,
Miss Graeme and I m no caring for them.
Like the happy Shunammite woman of old,. I



Il8 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

dwell among my ain folk ; and there isna
court nor castle can do mair for me than that.
Forbye, I dinna love Lord Graeme. There is
anither one. I ll no be feared to speak his
name tis Archie Renwick, and I am promised
to him and I love him wi all my heart. You ll
be to ken what that means, surely, Miss Graeme.
A woman like you must hae had lovers and
must hae loved some ane o them. You ll ken
then that a true woman canna play fast and
loose wi her heart."

" But if the man you love is unworthy of you,
Faith : I assure you that Renwick is not fit to
latch the buckles on your shoes."

" Still, I hae set him high in my heart, ma am.
If nane but the worthy were loved there would
be many a starved heart in this warld. I ken
naething wrang o Archie, and I dinna want to
ken wrang o him. Most folks hae some faults."
Then she turned from the table and looked
steadily at Terres. "You hae a true face, Miss
Graeme. I think if you loved ance, you would
love the same man for life him, and nae ither.
It is sae wi me too."

" You are quite right, Faith him and no
other."



TERRES AND FAITH. 119

" But indeed, ma am, you mustna think I am
not gratefu* for your kindness, and for Lord
Graeme s liking. We may be pleased wi the
offer we dinna think it right to tak ; and I ll
no say but what I am vera much pleased, mair
especial wi your ain gude will in the matter."

And you will not listen to my brother,
then? "

"Archie s voice is in my ear. I can hear nae
ither voice for it."

" Graeme would be good to this poor boy.
Last night he was talking to me of the great
Burgeons in London and Paris who might do
something for him."

" That is the greatest temptation mortal man
can gie me ; but folk mustna do ill for the
chance of some possible gude. God has plenty
better roads than that ane and when Davie is
a bit stronger, if there is help on earth for him
he sail have it."

Then Miss Graeme rose, and Faith turned
from her work and stood beside her. Into her
clear steadfast eyes Terres looked with a long
questioning gaze. " I want such a friend as
you could be, Faith Harribee ; may I come and
see you often ? "



120 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

" You ll be welcome, Miss Graeme ; for there
is that and this to talk about, without spending
mair words on what it is useless to even think of."

" You mean we are not to speak again of
Lord Graeme s love for you ? "

" That is just what I mean, ma am. From me
one no is as gude as a hundred ; and the thing
I mean to-day I ll be likely to mean to the vera
day o my death."

They were walking together down the garden
as these words were uttered, and Terres did
not answer them. She stepped into her car
riage in a sudden gloom ; and being quite un
used to control her feelings, she made no effort
to conceal the sadness and indifference which
had taken possession of her. Faith thought
she was offended, for to her farewell smile she
made no return save a slight movement of the
head as she drove away.

Yet nothing was further from the truth.
She had received during her visit an insight
into a life which she might have led. She was
unhappy and occupied with her own reflections,
and by force of long habit, not able to put
aside personal feelings even for the sake of
those whom she really liked.



TERRES AND FAITH. 121

Her dark face troubled Graeme as soon as he
saw it. " You have been cross, Terres," he
said fretfully. " I might have known it. I
dare say you have contrived to frighten Faith
to death ! "

" I was not cross with her. She is a grand
woman, but she is not for you."

He pulled two chairs to the hearth, and in
her bonnet and mantilla she sat down, and
reviewed her visit to Faith with him. Graeme
however refused to believe in Faith s resolution.

" A woman gets tired of saying no. I shall
not get tired of asking her to say yes. I mean
to marry Faith Harribee."

" She will not marry you."

"Yes, she will."

" She told me she would marry that man
who is farming Shepherd s Bush."

" He won t farm Shepherd s Bush much
longer. Thanks be ! I have him under my
hand and he shall feel the weight of it."

" I don t blame you. I wish I had Will
Seaton under my hand.

" Pooh ! For what good ? You would have
a hard cry and then forgive him."

" Would I ? You know better."



122 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

" Renwick is a weak miserable creature. To
think of such an animal pretending to the love
of a woman like Faith Harribee ! He is for
ever in some public house singing senseless,
raiding, riding songs ; he is never on the hills.
Lately he has done nothing but dangle after
Lander s pretty daughter. Shepherd s Bush
has gone to rack and ruin in his care."

" If Faith knew these things?"

" She shall know them. A score of tongues
on every side shall tell her, and if in spite of all
warnings she still marries him, then "

" Then, what ? "

" She may sup the sorrow she is so vain and
foolish to brew. I ll not lift a finger for Archie
Renwick s wife."

Unfortunately, there was only too much
truth in Graeme s accusations. But the heart as
well as the understanding has its arguments,
and Faith s heart found plenty of excuses for
her lover that her understanding did not always
approve. Archie s great temptation was one
she did not comprehend, one of which she was
totally ignorant, and which therefore she had
no power to charm away. It lay in his hatred
of Davie. He had indeed made spasmodic



TERRES AND FAITH. 123

attempts to conquer the unnatural sin, but, in
spite of them, he found his dislike and jealousy
stronger and bitterer every day. And never is
hatred so unreasonable and so pitiless as when
it is nursed against helpless childhood. Cruel
people do to babes whom they dislike such
spiteful and barbarous injuries as they never
would think of inflicting upon men. Therefore,
no hatred is so devilish and corrupting to the
moral nature as the hatred cherished against
the helpless.

Archie was himself often terrified at the
wicked thoughts which tormented him about the
unfortunate boy whom he had regarded as
standing in the way of his prosperity. To find
himself wishing Davie in the grave, and to sud
denly arrest his thoughts in the middle of some
infamous scheme for compassing such a result
was a personal experience daily becoming more
and more familiar to him. And when men are
in such sore straits of temptation, if they don t
pray, they drink.

Archie drank. At that time in Scotland,
drinking was a crime so common as to have
lost all moral significence. The noble and the
peasant, the merchant and the artizan, the kirk



124 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

membtr as well as the despiser of ordinances,
all alike Jrank, and were not ashamed of the
fact, unless they permitted their dissipation to
interfere \vith their business obligations, or to
waste their -substance. It was only the strict
sect to which Faith belonged who really
seemed to believe that " no drunkard shall enter
the kingdom of heaven," and even it winked
at irregularities in this matter, which if trans
ferred to dancing or merry-making would have
brought a kirk session upon the offender.

So the days came and went, and they ap
peared to be in the main, just like one another.
But Archie with his omissions and regrets, his
variable moods, his constant slips into sensual
mire, his despairs, his tempers, and his prom
ises, made every fresh day to Faith s inner life
a day apart ; a day with its own special hopes
and fears and disappointments.

She did not weary of helping him. She was
never petted or angry. Her nature was too
even and grand to worry or to fret. It was
Archie who wearied first. It was Archie who
became irritable and cross, and hard to live
with, even an hour at a time. Ashamed of his
own continual failures, irritated by his own



TERRES AND FAITH. 125

inabilities, Faith s pure, regular, busy life, and
tender forbearance, made him angry. She was
strong, and he was weak ; she was ever gaining,
he was ever losing, in every way the conditions
of love were reversed, and Archie was begin-
ning to loathe the circumstances which always
placed him in a humiliating position.

Still Faith never thought of deserting him.
Her troth was to her as sacred a thing as mar
riage. It did not even strike her that Archie
came much less frequently to Harribee. " It
was winter and the snow lay deep ; " she found
plenty of excuses for every broken promise.
She was preparing for her wedding, and she
went calmly on spinning her household linen
and plenishing. As the months went on she
began to talk of her bridal, of the manner in
which it was to be solemnized, and of the dress
she intended to wear.

Phemie listened to her with a grim pity. She
longed to tell her all she had heard about
AnnieLander, but Faith s own heart was so true,
it was impossible to drop a seed of suspicion
into it. Only once did Phemie try to do so.

" I met Archie Renwick and Annie Lander
last night, Faith, when I was at the village."



126 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

"Ay! Whereabouts?"

"Just ayont the auld brig. There was a
dance at Lilburn s farm, and they were awa
thegither to it. Hech ! but she is a bonnie
lass ! "

" I hae heard that, many times. Weel, weel,
bonnie lasses must hae some youth. I hae
thocht whiles, that our ain Agnes was keepit
too close and tight. Annie Lander would be
safe enough with Archie. He told me that he
and Lander were fast friends.

" I dinna think Archie should gae up and
down Esk Water wi* every bonnie lass he can
pick up. He is as gude as a marrit man, and
he hasna been to see you for near a week gane."

" I m making nae complaint, Phemie, and
Archie doesna run after a the pretty girls
by Esk ; you shouldna say such things, Phemie.
I would hae little opinion o myself, if I was
feared o* Archie takin a friend s daughter to a
farn:. dance. You ll mind, the Landers are new
comers in Mosskirtle. I think it vera kind o
Archie. He ll be telling us a about it, when
he get s o er the moor again."

And Phemie looked at her calm face, which
yet had some shadow of trouble in it, and put



TERRES AND FAITH. 12?

back the rest of the words she had determined
to say. " There will be nae use in them," she
thought, " meeting trouble is just gaeing into
the enemy s country. There isna a single
promise gi en us for such a useless fool-hardy
journey. There s a time to speak, and a time
to forbear speaking and its maistly, if you are
a prudent body the time to forbear speaking."

Then spring-time came again, and Faith was
very busy. The lambing season took her very
often up the fells, for her special duty was to
look after those lambs too weak to follow
their mothers, or who, from any cause, had been
left lonely and hungry on the windy hills.
There was not a day in which she did not carry
down in her own arms several of these deserted
little ones to be fed and cared for at the Home.

Late one Sabbath evening she was coming
down the Catter fell with a couple in her plaid
neuk. She held them firmly in her strong
arms. Their little heads were against her
breast. Davie was at her side. She came rap.
idly onward with the springy steps of one born
on the heather. The rosy light of the setting
sun made a kind of glory, in which she moved
with a swift grace that was wonderful.



128 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

Lord Graeme counted it a great fortune that
he was passing that way, and saw this vision of
womanhood. It inspired in him a kind of
religion. He felt for the moment an irrepres
sible sentiment of praise and gratitude to the
Maker of a being so beautiful and gracious.

" Faith ! " he cried, " Oh, how I love you !
How I envy the little creatures in your arms !
How I envy the very heather and benty grass
that feels your steps ! I never hoped for a joy
like this when I left the castle. I was going
only to treat myself to a sight of your home,
and I have seen you also ! Let me be thank
ful!"

" Lord Graeme dinna talk to me that way.
It isna right, and I ll no listen to you. And
you ken weel that you shouldna be riding just
for your ain pleasure upon the Sabbath day."

" And what then are you doing on the hills?
Was it to meet Renwick you went up Catter
fell ? "

" I am saving life, lord. I canna let the wee
things perish on the hill-side."

" Of course not. You can have pity on a
lamb a lamb can be sold for something but
a man is such a common creature. I am dying



TERRES AND FAITH. 129

for a kind word, Faith. When will you have
pity on me ? "

" I am a the same as a married woman, lord.
You should think shame o yourself to say such
words. Let me pass you, for the lambs are
cauld and hungry."

"You are not the same as married, Faith.
Renvvick will never marry you. Mind what I say."

" Then, lord, I ll think nae kinder o you for
being sae ill a prophet. This isnaaday for me
to be minding myself, and I ll no speak another
word on the matter."

" Good-night then, Faith. You can not pre
vent me from thinking about you."

" Dinna mix me up then wi any ill thochts,
lord. Hae that much care o me, ony way."

" Upon my honor you ask a grand thing,
and I ll try and keep your charge, Faith."

He had dismounted from his horse when he
saw her approaching, and he stood beside it
while he spoke. With the last words he
mounted and rode slowly away, taking the only
road which permitted him to watch Faith until
Phemie met her at her own gate, and the two
women, with the two lost lambs faintly bleat
ing, disappeared in the home fold.



CHAPTER VIII.
FAITH S DARK HOUR.

Measure thy life by loss instead of gain,

Not by the wine drunk but the wine poured forth. ""

" Yet this one thing I learn to know
Each day more surely as I go,
That I am glad the good and ill
By changeless laws are ordered still

Not as I will."

H. H.

E Spring had opened early with some
X fine warm days, but it betrayed its prom
ise around Esk Water, and delayed long its full
fruition. So Faith had much anxious care and
many long walks concerning her flocks, which,
however, in spite of the chilly nights and damp
days, prospered wonderfully.

One night, near the end of April, she came
home very weary. It is the heart holds up the
body, and Faith s heart had been heavy for
nearly a week, during which space Archie had
not been at the farm. She was afraid he had



FAITH S DARK HOUR. 131

heard of her interview with Graeme on the
previous Sabbath, for the hatred was not
upon one side ; Archie returned his landlord s
dislike very heartily.

On this night she was alone on the fells.
Davie was not with her; he had been ailing
lately, and the air was foggy and chilly, so
her own fearful thoughts were her only com
panions. As she entered the kitchen upon her
return, Phemie looked through the house-place
door with a face full of suppressed excitement :

"You are welcome home, Faith, and look
you here ! Carrier Joe has left a box for you.
It s frae London or some foreign pairt, I m
thinking."

"A box!"

Such a thing had never happened to Faith
before. She started up instantly to go to it.

" You re wet shod, ma am, and you ll be to
change your shoon first."

There was no denying the old woman s posi
tive manner, nor yet the justice of her direction,
so Faith not only complied with it, but also
removed her plaid and bonnet, and gave her
usual directions about the milk for the young
lambs. Then she felt at liberty to satisfy



I3 2 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

her curiosity. The box was a large deal box,
secured with bands of iron, and there was much
pleasant curiosity exercised in the removal of
these bands, and the opening of the lid. The
first thing that presented itself to their eager
eyes was an exquisite painting of the unfor-
gotten Agnes.

The fair flower-like face was so like her
mother s face that Faith felt as if she had
received both mother and sister back again.
She uttered a joyful cry and kissed it over and
over with passionate affection. Then she put
it in Phemie s hands, and Phemie pressed it to
her breast and cried about it as if Agnes were
once more a baby in her arms. Agnes had
been gone more than eight years, and this was
the first token of her remembrance she had
sent back to those who had long forgiven but
never forgotten her. It was such a wonderful
thing to happen ! It was impossible not to be
excited and full of joy over it.

Below the picture there was a piece of rich
satin, some fine laces and a heavy gold brooch
for Faith. Many other beautiful things fol
lowed, ornamental and useful, both ; but the
presents which touched Faith s heart most



FAITH S DARK HOUR 133

were the books and pictures, and play
things, suitable for a lad of Davie s age, and
which had evidently been selected with great
care and love. It was a box full of affection
as well as of beauty ; a box which induced all
kinds of pleasant memories, and conversation,
and pitiful wonder.

They were still standing over it when Ren-
wick entered. He had been drinking, and was
as Phemie whispered Faith " much the
waur o it." What man is ever the better of
it ? Faith scarcely noticed the warning. She
was still in a singular state of happy excite
ment, and she called out joyfully, " Look you
here, Archie! Our bonnie Agnes has sent us
a these braw things ! And here, the best o
all, is her ain sweet sel ! "

He looked at the gifts in a sullen scornful
manner, steadying himself as he stood by lean
ing against the long oak .dresser, his tall sturdy
figure looming up against the shelves filled
with shining rows of china ware and brass ware.

" You are much set up for naething ! A bit
painted face ! Ay, its gude enou for her! "

Faith was much grieved ; more by the
expression given to the words, than by their



134 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

actual import ; but she refused to notice the
ill-nature of the remark, and added :

" Look at this bonnie satin and lace, and the
gold brooch forbye ! I ll need to ware no siller
now on my wedding dress, Archie. They hae
come in a gude time, hae they not ? "

Then he struck the dresser a blow with his
clenched fist that made the china and brass
ring and tremble through all their lengths, and
shouted out:

" Nae wife o mine shall be wed in a dress
bought wi money made in the deil s ain house !
I m not that far gane i sin, thank God ! "

"You don t know what you are talking
about, Archie ! "

" I know fine what I m talking about,
woman ! Lander told me that he heard that
black-faced deil Graeme saying your sister s
husband was ane o the biggest play-actors in
London mair shame to an honest lad like me
to hear tell o and your sister canna be o er
gude, consorting wi such and such like."

" My sister is my sister," answered Faith
with a calm, proud manner which became her
well. " My sitter is my sister ! Wherever she
may be, she can never get beyond God s love



FAITH S DARK HOUR. 135

and mercy. We are a of us needing that,
Archie."

" Folks that sit in play-houses ! They are
the deil s ain congregation ! "

" They may not be any waur in God s sight,
Archie, than the folks that sit their senses
awa in change-houses."

Then Phemie, with that passion which is so
awesome in the old, said, " Maister Renwick,
the whisky is far aboon your wit. And God
hasna set the like o you to be a judge o er his
wandering bairns. If they are God s elect,
wha shall daur to lay aught to their charge ?
Gae your ways hame, Renwick; you ll hae
enough to do to mak your ain calling and
election sure."

" Faith Harribee, you must get rid o the
fools that are around you. I m no going to
bide either o them " and he clashed the
heavy door behind him and left Faith standing
mute and angry and full of trouble over her
splendid presents.

It was a cruel ending to such a happy hour.
Faith put the braws back into the box without
a word ; but Phemie noticed that she hung the
likeness of Agnes above the hearth at which



13 A BORDER SHEPHERDESS.

she continually sat. The action said definitely
to Phemie that she had determined to stand
by her sister, no matter what Archie Renwick
might say in opposition.

" It is Annie Lander," thought Phemie an
grily. " He has kent aboot the play-acting, doot-
less, ever since Lander came to Mosskirtle ; but
when he likit Faith and wanted to marry Faith,
little his conscience hurt him anent that mat
ter. Deary me ! Faults grow thick as love
grows thin."

May came in smiling and charming, and the
trees were in blossom, and the garden sweet in


1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale → online text (page 6 of 15)