Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale online

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all its paths with violets and wall-flowers. But
Archie came not. Faith watched all the next
week for him. She seemed to be doing her
housework as cheerfully as usual, but in reality
her heart was faint and sick, and she was always
covertly watching the road over the fells.
Phemie felt for her a true pity, but she had no
way to offer her comfort ; for Faith was always
silent in her sorrow. She never named Archie s
absence, never spoke of the quarrel at his last
visit, never speculated as to his return, and her
reticence closed Phemie s mouth as well.

And it was seldom at this season of the year


Faith went to the village. Even if she had
gone every day, there was not a kimmer in it
who would have dared to offer her the story of
Archie Renwick s devotion to pretty Annie
Lander. So, ignorant of the cause of Archie s
neglect, Faith judged him by her own heart,
and still trusted that sooner or later he would
" come and mak it up again." But in the
meantime how wearily went the hours ! Stupid
with a dumb sorrow, she had to learn to find
her way through a labyrinth of daily cares,
hoping, and fearing, and consciously listening
through all she said and did, for one voice and
one step.

Nearly three weeks passed in this miserable
uncertainty. She never thought of sending
any letter or message to him. Archie had
come into her presence under the control of
whisky, and deliberately wounded and of
fended her. Until he was so conscious of his
fault as to be willing to acknowledge it, Faith
saw no hope of any pleasant intercourse. But
oh ! one look, one word would have been suffi
cient. Her heart had the pardoning power in
plenitude ; she was only waiting, sorrowfully


and lovingly waiting, to forgive the past, and
trust him fully again for the future.

One morning she said to Phemie, " 111 no
require to be on the fells this day; sae, get me
the lettuce and cress seed, and I ll go to the
garden and sow them."

" The garden is cauld and wet, forbye there s
plenty to see after in the house."

"You re vera short wf folk this morning,
Phemie. What s put you about at a ? "

" Plenty to put me about, inner and outer-
mer. I m bone-tired o trying to please folk so
to-and-again, they don t know what they want
an hour at a time. I m up to my elbows in
work, too, and you talking o going into the

" Gie me the seeds, Phemie."

" Dinna gae oot, Faith ; you ll get cold, lassie.
Stay in the house to-day for ony sake."

" I m minded to sow the seeds. What ails
you at a* ? You re no like yoursel ."

" Vera weel, ma am. Tak your ain way."

A little annoyed and puzzled by Phemie s
manner, Faith went down to the beds prepared
for the salad plants, and began to sow and to
rake. There had been heavy rain, and the air


had that delightfully fresh, clean feeling which
follows the clearing up. It blew briskly, though
there were sudden gleams of sunshine ; and
after she had worked herself into a glow that
brought a kind of peace with it, she looked up
to see what Davie was doing.

He had dropped his spade, and was leaning
upon the stone-wall gazing into the green
space before him. At such times his childish
face had a sorrowful, questioning look that
Faith could never endure to see. Whatever
work was in her hand, she dropped it and went
to him.

" Are you tired, Davie, dear ? "

"Ay, Faith, I m tired like. I m looking for
something, but I canna find it."

"What is it, Davie?"

" I dinna rightly ken." His eyes wandered
far off to the horizon, and a profound melan
choly shadowed his generally happy face. It
seemed to Faith as if for once she found herself
quite unable to lift her own spirit to that point
at which it was able to catch the poor boy s
intelligence. She stood silently by him, watch
ing the great blue eyes that so dimly lighted
the veiled soul behind them. Then she was


aware of a man coming slowly across the mead
ows by Esk Water.

As he approached Harribee he turned his
steps towards the gate, and Faith perceived
that it was Willie Cavers, the dale piper ; a
worthless, drinking, good-for-naught, barely
tolerated by respectable people.

" Gude morning, mistress. Hoo s a wi

" Weel enough, Willie, thank you. You are
early astir wi your pipes."

" Late, you mean, mistress. I hae been play
ing a nicht at the bridal at Landers. It was
a blythesome bridal, and a bonnie bride."

"Wha was the bride? "

" Wha but his ain lassie ? A bonnie bride
she was."

" I hae heard tell that she is a vera bonnie

" And she s gotten a braw lad. There isn t
a handsomer lad in the Marches than Archie

"Than wha?"

" Than Archie Renwick, the bridegroom."

Then Faith walked away and stooped down
and began to scatter the seed in the narrow


drill. But her heart was beating as if it would
burst, and she felt giddy and trembling. As
in a dream she heard the piper talking a few
moments to Davie, and then go onward, lilt
ing his favorite rant. When his voice died
away she raised herself slowly, bared her head
to the breeze, and white as a ghost stood look
ing away over the hills. Short, pitiful ejacula
tions for strength and comfort parted her lips,
and ere long, as if in answer to them, Davie
came silently to her side, and clasped her
hands. Then she stooped, lifted his face
between her hands, and kissed him.

" Love me weel now, Davie. Love me weel
now, for you are a I have."

She did not weep, and she had no wish to
complain. As yet she did not feel as if any
human consolation could help her. Phemie
she knew would abuse Archie, and side passion
ately with her, but God would give her com
fort, and yet say no word wrong of the lad she
had loved and trusted so completely. Without
any reference to the piper s news she went
straight to the kitchen and began to bake a
batch of riddle-cakes. It was the hardest work
she could find to do, and Phemie watched her


beating and kneading the dough, and passing
between the table and the fire with rapid steps,
until from sheer physical exhaustion she was
on the verge of fainting.

The old woman knew well what sorrow was
forcing Faith to labor. She made a cup of
tea and took it to her. " Sit down a wee,
Faith," she said kindly, " drink, dearie ; sorrow
is gude for naething but sin."

" You hae heard tell, then, Phemie ? "

" Ay, ay. But the vera warst may be tholed
when it is sure; and naething happens but
what is sent, or permitted. God s will be done !
You can say that much, Faith ? "

" I would think little o* myself if I could not.
My ain will was vera sweet to me, Phemie if "

" His will is best."

" Ay, Surely ! His will is best. 5

It is in hours such as these, that the full
grandeur of the old Covenanting creed and
spirit reveals itself. In great sorrows it is
doubtless a great consolation to completely
relinquish our will to God s will. Personal
fate and suffering is thus invested with the
majesty and sublimity of eternal purpose ; and
every day life acquires a dignity of the loftiest


character. Faith bowed her head and her
heart to the consolation it offered. Who was
she to rebel against that which God had per
mitted? If it were in His purposes, her duty
lay in complete submission to Him.

She was greatly helped also in the struggle
before her by her strict sense of what was
right and wrong. Archie was now another
woman s husband. It was a sin to think of
him in any way. Anger was sin. Regret was
sin. Above all, love was sin. And she told
herself positively that she would have no right
to let her disappointment interfere in any way,
with the duties entrusted to her. The care of
her brother, the care of the flocks and the
farm, and of the men and women she employed.
She felt clearly that her own private sorrow
must not shadow their days or interfere with
their welfare. We can not choose our duties
any more than we can select our parents, or the
locality in which we will be born. There is a
divine ordering in such matters, which Faith
solemnly recognized and whose claims she was
determined to satisfy.

It was not an easy discipline, and perhaps at
first, the effect upon Faith was a little repel-


lant. She was silent and self-contained, but
not offensively so, and her manners suited her,
as hardness suits steel. When sorrow is borne
in this spirit, it is like the iron-smith, it shapes
as it strikes.

And very soon the busiest time of the year
came on. She had no leisure to consider her-
self in any way. The dairy was full of cream.
Never had there been so much butter to make.
Then came the haymaking, and the shearing,
and the harvest-time, and the weeks were filled
to the brim with needful labor.

Faith was soon happy again ; undoubtedly
happy. Other interests took the place of her
false lover the sheep were doubling on the
fells, the barley and oats turning to gold in the
meadows, the fleeces had never been so long
and fine. Every thing prospered under her
care, and Faith had a sufficient vein of Scotch
acquisitiveness in her nature to make the fact a
very agreeable one. After the summer was
over she went into Hawick and put a large
sum of money in the bank. It gave her a
sense of proud satisfaction, and for the first
time, that night, she spoke freely with Phemie
of the trial through which she had passed.


It is over now," she said, "and far better
over than I thought possible on that morning
Will Cavers brought me the news."

" The deil ne er found you idle, sae he couldna
gie you a bad worrying spell, ma am."

" I heard Lord Graeme had turned Renwick
oot o house and hame. I m sorry for him."

" You might easy find fitter folks to pity. I
havena sorrow kind aboot me for him."

" If he could keep away from the whisky !
He would be a braw man every other way."

"Tuts ! If the bell is cracked anywhere, it is
useless everywhere. If, if, if! There are mair
sad tales in if than in a the books that man
ever wrote. I hae heard tell that he is not
o er kind to his wife. That is mair than likely
for he s sae wavery that his love changes like
the seasons. But, for that matter, there s nae
love but God s love that is steady enou to
lippen to."

" That is true ; likewise Davie and the farm
have been wonderful helps. The bairn gets
closer to my heart every day ; and the crops
and the flocks hae been the dale s talk. I
never thocht I could hae got sae fond o dumb
cattle and green fields."


"There is aye compensations, ma am. When
we canna get what we love, we vera soon, if
we hae sense, learn to love what we hae ; and
it s maist always the best thing for us."

" Weel, I hae learned three things this sum
mer, Phemie, and I ll no need to learn them
any mair for this life. First, that there is no
earthly sorrow that endures. Second, that
there is nae earthly pleasure like daily duty weel
wrought. Third, that there is nae earthly
peace like, " God s Will be Done."



" No living lot

So poor but it hath somewhat still to spare
In beauteous odors."

" It never yet did hurt
To lay down likelihoods and and forms of hope."

IT was fortunate for Faith that during this
heart struggle she was not in any way em
barrassed by Lord Graeme s sympathy or
protestations. Just before Renwick s marriage
he went abroad with his sister. Miss Terres
was sick of some vague disorder, which puz
zled her physician. He could think of noth
ing but change of air and scene, and Lord
Graeme thought it was really the best remedy.
For he understood, what no one else could do,
the love, the shame, the chagrin and the dis
appointment which had sunk Terres in melan
choly indifference, or made her feverish and
abnormally restless.

His return home had been hastened in some
degree by dissatisfaction with his factor. Lan-


der had fallen more and more under the spell
of his dissipated son-in-law ; and the two men
were continually keeping each other company
in some change-house or other from Moss-
kirtle to Hawick. And Graeme was a strict
master; he tolerated neither idleness nor was-
trie. His first acts on his return were to dis-
miss the factor, and " roup " the whole effects,
household and farming, appertaining to the
Shepherd s Bush farm.

When Faith went to Hawick to bank her
increase, she heard on every hand the small
details of the two transactions, with such com,
ments as the different opinions of people sug
gested. Generally, public sympathy was with
Graeme. The surrounding farmers and shep
herds had little toleration for men who could
not mind their business as well as take their
glass ; and every one admitted that Lord
Graeme had been " more than patient " with
Archie Renwick.

" But the Renwicks hae farmed Shepherd s
Bush for four generations," said the landlady
of The Graeme Arms to Faith; "and sae,
for the sake o them that were afore him, my
lord has been vera forbearing wi the lad."


Every one had much the same opinion, and
every one was as far from the truth as people
usually are who imagine they understand the
secret motives which interpret their neighbor s
actions. Lord Graeme cared nothing at all for
the dead Renwicks, and he cordially hated
their living representative ; but he was afraid
that if he were severe, Faith Harribee would
visit all Renwick s losses on his head and only
love the idle, worthless fellow the more for his
faults. And rather than give Renwick that
advantage he had borne silently the slow but
certain deterioration of the property which he
held in bond for his legal dues.

But when he heard the particulars of
Archie s marriage his anger blazed with a fury
that terrified Lander. In spite of his fierce
joy in Faith s freedom, he felt an equally fierce
wrath at the boor who had presumed to
despise the love of a woman so incomparably
his superior. In his eyes no punishment was
adequately severe enough for such a fool. It
gave him a real joy to seize every cow, and
calf, and sheep, and horse upon the place, and
to put household goods and farming tools alike
under the hammer. The first good night s


sleep that came to him after his return was the
night on which he told himself confidently
that neither Renwick nor Lander had any
home in which to lay their heads.

Yet, though he so passionately admired
Faith, so little did he understand her that he
believed in thus punishing those who had pre
sumed to offer her a slight, he had done that
which would give her pleasure. And though
he would have scorned to boast of his quick
retribution, he knew that Faith would hear of
it, and hoped she, at least, would appreciate
the love so ready to perceive and to repay the
wrong she had been compelled to bear.

In reality Faith thought little about it. She
was occupied with a much more important
affair ; for she was resolved now to take Davie
to London, and the journey was a very serious
undertaking to her. Her heart trembled at
the prospect ; she was full of doubts and fears,
and yet driven by a sense of obligation she
could not put away.

" Dinna go, ma am," said Phemie, as she
watched Faith looking with a troubled face at
the corded box ready for the morning s coach.

"I m no to mind my ain feelings in this


matter, Phemie. You ken what I promised
fayther. A promise to the living may be broken,
but a promise to the dead, dool and sorrow on
those who dare to break it ! Yet I hae a sair
misgiving anent Davie, and I hae had dreams
one mair fearsome than anither; but toots!
why will I be fashing myself about dreams ?
They are just havers ! "

" Deed ma am, some folk hae mair sense
dreaming than waking. I think little o folk
that dinna dream. I think little o sleep that
is just a dozing and a snoring o pure matter. If
you hae been warned o aught, dinna be sae wise
in your ain conceit as to neglect the warning."

" I ll hae to go, Phemie. I tried to make
Davie understand, and I think it is his will like
wise. I m feared o myself. Maybe it is the
siller pulling at my wish and will. I canna be
wrang if I gae the way my fayther bade me. I
canna be wrang in keeping the promise I made

So next morning a hurried breakfast was
taken at candlelight, and Faith and Davie rode
over the moor in the misty dawning to catch
the London coach at Mosskirtle. The little lad
was delighted with the journey. It was taken


easily for his sake, but at the end of the third
day Faith reached the hotel on the Strand
which she had been advised to seek. Her pre
parations had been so carefully perfected that
she had little difficulty or delay in securing the
consultation of the three great physicians and
surgeons, to whom she had decided to submit
Davie s case.

He went into their presence a little afraid,
but regarding each of them with wide open
wonderingeyes, as if hewerecurious about them.
They were pitiful and gentle to the boy, but
their decision was unanimously hopeless.
Nothing could be done for him mentally, and
with grave earnestness they pointed out to
Faith his rapid growth and the hectic flush
and fever which made other conditions physi
cally dangerous. " A warm climate may pro
long, or perhaps preserve his life, but in the
bleak border uplands he will need the greatest
care. A simple cold may be a fatal thing for

Such was the verdict, and it was one which
gave a shock to Faith. She had noticed that
Davie lately had been unable to keep step with
her in climbing, but she had attributed the want


of power to his sudden and rapid growth. Con
sumption had never been in their family. It
was the very last disease she thought of for a
Harribee. But the danger must be averted ;
yes, though she left the farm in Phemie s care,
and took him herself to the island which the
doctors had named.

But the circumstances surrounding such a
change were very painful to her. Faith had
the home instinct in a very strong degree. She
had the money-making faculty equally strong.
She felt keenly that her full duty to Davie
might bring to her many great trials, and much
self-renunciation. On the last day of their
return journey Davie was very restless and fret
ful. He was tired, he said, and his head
ached. In an uneasy, tossing fashion, he slept
most of the time. Before he reached Moss-
kirtle he complained of a sore throat and was
so feverish that Faith left word for the village
doctor to follow her as soon as possible to

About ten o clock at night he arrived, and
Faith and Phemie were sitting anxiously by the
child s side who had become delirious. It was
a bad case of scarlet fever and from the first


hour of its recognition, there was not a hope.
He lingered five days but recovered his con
sciousness only in that heavenly land where he
recovered all else that he had lost.

Faith suffered as mothers suffer. She awoke
in the night with his name on her lips. It
broke her heart afresh every time she had to
bar the door at night, and leave her darling in
his cold bed on the fell side. She was constantly
coming upon some trifle that had been so pre
cious to him a faded picture a ball a broken
pen-knife. Alas ! how such things smote her
with memories that made her clasp the poor
memento in her hands, weeping and praying
over it.

It was while the child lay in his coffin, Terres
Graeme came again to Harribee. She looked
much older. She had taken one of those steps
which in mid-life carry us beyond a boundary
we may not recross. No health, no dress, no
gayety of manner would ever replace that some
thing of youth, intangible but certain, which
had disappeared in the months intervening
between her visits.

Her hands were full of flowers, and she went
with Faith to scatter them over the white grave*


clothes of the dead boy. With dark, sad eyes
she stood gazing at the image of rest before
her, until some large tears rolled slowly down
her face. She wiped them hastily, and touch
ing the small hands unsoiled by sinful deeds,
she turned away, murmuring:

" No grief reaches the dead ! How happy
he must be ! "

About a week after the funeral Lord Graeme
rode up to the farm door, and asked the servant
who came to meet him, if Miss Harribee were
at home. He was shown into the house-place,
and his eyes delighted themselves with the
homelike beauty and spotlessness of the dwell
ing which sheltered so lovely a soul. In a few
minutes she came to him. Never had she
appeared so gentle and so womanly. Her black
dress and lawn kerchief made the fittest setting
for beauty so noble and so soulful.

" Faith ! Faith ! " He took her hands, but
the two words were all that he could say. And
Faith was much troubled. She could not
but remember how much had passed since
they had met. Her eyes were full of

tears. His own were dim because of her sor


" He has gone to the Great Physician," she
said softly, " he ll be sick nae mair now."

" I am very sorry for you, Faith."

"Ay, for me. But there s joy for Davie.
And fayther and mother will be sharing it.
Yet he was vera dear to me ! Vera, vera dear
to me ! Oh, Davie ! Davie ! "

" Faith, you are lonely here. All are gone
that ever loved you. Only I remain. Can you
not listen to me now ? "

" There is nae thocht o love in my heart.
And it isna kind o you to be coming here at a*
lord. Folks will make ill talk anent it."

"You have some sheep advertised for sale.
I always bought your father s yearlings. Can
I not do some honest trading with you you
who are so well-known ? "

" You dinna ken what village kimmers are ;
they will see wrang where nae wrang is."

" If they could slander you, they would
slander an angel from heaven."

" Plenty o folks would see faults in an angel :
what for no ? They said that Christ was a
wine-bibber, and that he sorted himself with
publicans and sinners. I m feared for women s
tongues. I am that. And sae Lord Graeme,


if you like me, as you say you do, you ll
like my fair name, and gie nane occasion to
speak o me at all."

She had remained standing, and she now
offered her hand. There is a certain physiogno
my in manners, and he understood that he was
kindly but positively dismissed. Yet he did
not lose courage. Hope says to us continually
" go on, go on," and thus leads us bravely and
cheerfully to the grave.

What was Faith to do with her life now ?
Lord Graeme had said, truly enough, she was
alone. No further intelligence had come from
Agnes. Renwick s assertion that she was living
among play-actors, Faith refused to believe.
She could not look at the calm, lovely, love-
some face above her hearth, and think of its
reality as one of those, whom in her soul she
believed to be the " maist senseless and thocht-
less of a* the children o Satan."

Phemie also was inclined to think better of
Agnes than such associates inferred. She was
sure " it was ane o Lander s lies. He wanted
Archie for his ain lass, and he didna spare his
tongue to get him. Weel, he didna get much ! "
she added, scornfully.


" I might ask Lord Graeme if the report were
true. He surely knows what his nephew is

" Ay, you might ask, but you would be a
born fool if you do. Why go a-seeking ill news?
If oor Agnes is wrang, she ll hae to be brought
right, and God kens best the means and the
way. That is His work. If you think much o
His grace, and little o your ain wisdom, you ll
no meddle wi* His wark."

For a year or two there was danger that
Faith would give herself up to simple money-
making. Her father had been a very close
man, and Faith s nature was strongly bent the
same way. It was known that she had bought
four meadows adjoining her own, and that she
had made Lord Graeme an offer for the very
farm Archie Renwick had once rented.

All these things were vinegar and gall to the
silly man who had so readily flung away the
love and land of such a woman. If he only
could have foreseen Davie s early death ! If
he had only had any inkling of the large sum
of ready money there must have been lying in
Hawick bank ! He found himself perpetually
trying to calculate what the London visit must


have cost, and the funeral, and the four mead

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale → online text (page 7 of 15)