Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale online

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sae cheerily to the humming,"

"But I cannot spin, Faith."


"Then, I ll show you how to spin, and nae
better time for aught good than present time."

So she lifted out the wheel and showed Ter-
res its few mysteries, and the two women grew
merry over their efforts. Then there was a
sharp rap at the door, as if it had been struck
with a whip handle. They were facing the en
trance, and Faith said, with the air of a mis
tress speaking to a servant, " Come in."

" Good morning, shepherdess ! What about
the lambs? Will you take my offer?"

" I might hae a better one, and I might not.
If you will add five pounds to it I will take it."

" Very well. I will send for them this af
ternoon that is, next week."

It was with difficulty he controlled his
thoughts. His eyes were fixed upon the wheel
and the woman standing beside it. She had
ceased all attempts to continue her spinning,
and stood with eyes dropped upon the bobbin
in her hand. Her face, which had been full of
light and pleasure, was white and set. She was
evidently restraining herself by the most pain-
ful efforts.

Faith saw the embarrassment of both parties
and hastened to close the interview. " When-


ever it is your will, Lord Seaton," she said.
"The siller is at your ain convenience, likewise.
Gude day, lord."

As the door closed she turned to Terres.
She had taken the nearest chair, and there was
almost a resentful look upon her face. " I
must go now," she said with a sudden coldness.

" I am vexed if Lord Seaton s coming has
grieved you. I didna dream of him. I thocht
it was the head shepherd from the hills at the
noon hour."

" The noon hour ! So it is, and long past it.
Why Faith, how the morning has gone ! My
bonnet and scarf thanks ! and call the dogs
if you please. When shall I have such happy,
innocent hours again ? "

"You hae the making o all your hours,
Ma am."

" To be sure. Good-by ! Come Sweet-lips.
Come Juno ! " and with a smile that Faith felt
to be forced, she walked away at a rapid pace.

" It is a of two miles, and maybe I ought to
hae proffered the tax-cart, or hae sent a man
riding swift for her carriage na, na ; she came
o her ain free will, and I am not bound to let
her pleasure break my work. Forbye, the walk


will do her gude, and if she likes, she can cut
through Kirtle Wood and shorten it half a

That was precisely what Terres did. Her
quick walk helped her somewhat, yet she knew
that only in the freedom of her own room
could she fully relieve the tension of feel
ings so surprised and overwrought. In the
middle of the wood, in the centre of the nar
row path, just where she had met him before,
Lord Seaton stood. He had dismounted, and
was leaning against his horse. Terres must
turn back, or she must pass him.

The first alternative scarcely suggested it
self ; if it did, it was indignantly denied in the
very moment of its inception. She walked
straight on, scarcely conscious of her effort,
seeming to skim the ground in the forced ex
citement of the moment. Ere she was aware,
she had reached the barrier in her path.

" Terres ! Terres ! Dear Terres, speak to

What could she do ? She glanced upward,
and then covering her face with her hands,
sobbed with as womanly a passion as if she had
been the simplest village maiden.


And what did Seaton want more. He broke
her low sobs with sweet words long forgotten.
He kissed away the tears that wet her clasped
fingers. He woo d her again with all the fervor
and tenderness of his, and of her own youth.

What explanations ! What renewed vows of
love followed ! Up and down the sweet green
path they paced for hours, until every thing
had been made clear, and every thing forgiven.
Oh, it was so easy to do ! So pleasant to do !
For truest love on both sides was the interces
sor and the interpreter.

And when Terres at length shut and locked
behind her the door of her own apartments she
was too happy to be still. Joy or sorrow in
most women runs into motion, and she con
tinued her restless walk up and down, murmur
ing to herself : " Who could have thought it ?
Who could have hoped it ? Oh, Faith Harri-
bee, how I must love you ! To-day you have
been my good angel. Now I must go and tell
Tilbert. Ah ! I need to write no romance
now ; the sweetest one of all is that which we
write in our own heart."



" O Love and Hope the same !
Lean close to me, for now the sinking sun
That warmed our feet scarce gilds our hair above.
Lo, the last clusters ! Pluck them every one,
And let us sup with summer ; ere the gleam
Of autumn set the year s pent sorrow free."
" At last, though it be late, Love clasps the hand of Fate.

night Terres Graeme dressed herself
X with taste and splendor. Her happiness
had given her back something of the royal
beauty of her youth ; and it was no mockery
to adorn her fine arms and throat with gems.
Lord Graeme looked at her with admiration
and amazement. " Do you expect company,
or are you going out this evening, Terres?" he
asked, and he went to meet her, and gave her
his arm, and with appreciative smiles, placed
her in the chair next his own.

" I am so happy, Tilbert ! So happy, that I
could not help dressing gayly. I have spoken
with Lord Seaton. All is forgiven. I have


won my lover and my youth back. We are to
be married in three months."

Graeme s face grew dark and disapproving.
" I shall have something to say about that, "he
growled. " I am not going to give you up,
Terres. Why, you are all I have ! We have
been all our lives together ! Give Seaton your
money, if you like, but not yourself. Not
yourself, Terres!"

" Tilbert, there must be no interference now
with me, or with my happiness. I intend to
marry Seaton be sure of that ! "

" The man is fortune-hunting now, as he was
twenty years ago."

" You might speak the truth. If a border
lord has every other sin, he keeps to the truth,
if he is a gentleman."

" I am speaking the truth. Seaton got
nothing but the title, and a trunk full of mort
gages. Seaton Court is under bond to the 3ast
acre. Your 50,000 will be salvation to him."

" I am glad of it."

" Terres, my dear Terres, do not leave me !
What is this stranger to us ? "

" Seaton is your neighbor. I shall see you
every day. Tilbert, let me be happy."


" I thought you loved your brother?"

" You thought ! Oh Tilbert, have I not
proved my love ? Who can be to me just what
you have been ? "

" Tush ! Let us go to dinner. It is wait
ing. There is something real in dinner love
is all words."

But he ate nothing. The butler filled and
refilled his wine glass ; and his face grew darker
and darker as he drank. He was really suffer-
ing. Terres was the dearest part of his life ;
he was wounded by her desertion, crippled in
his affections ; he felt as if he had suffered an
irreparable injury. He could not speak calmly
of the change, and he maintained a moody

" They be the strangest pair as ever drew
breath o life," said the butler to his compan
ions in the servant s hall. " Here comes Miss,
all tricked oot in satin and jewels, as if she was
going to dine wi the queen, and nae less; and
here s my lord, a-sulking and a-glooming, and
a-leaving gude victuals ; and the baith o them,
in the maist-touch-me-not o tempers."

" Tuts ! Dawson. They fight, and they mak
it up as easy as most folks. I dinna think


much o Miss Graeme s bad tempers. They
are like a whiff-whaff o storm, here and awa*
again. When women hae to live wi a man
like my lord, they be to hae some temper, or
they d be trod under foot. Even sae ! what
were they doing, Janet, when you went in to
sort the fire and the hearthstane ? "

" My lord was walking about wi a face as
black as Sawtan s ; and Miss Graeme was lying
back in her big chair, wi her e en shut."

" Letting on to be asleep ! Noo, there is
simply nae thing mair aggravating to a man
troubled in his mind," said Dawson, " and I dinna
doot my lord will gie her a wee shake, if she
doesna heed his mood, ere lang."

" A body may surely hae e en, and see not ;
and ears, and hear not, when there is tempers
and port wine aboon a man s gude sense and
gude feeling. You said yoursel , he drank a
hale jottle o port, nice company any man is,
after a bottle o port."

" My lord tak s a bottle vera easy. You
wouldna ken it on him."

" Ay, but you can ken it in him. My sister
Jean s man, can tak a bottle o whiskey, and
walk as steady as mysel but he has drunk a


hale deevil doon wi it, and Jean just ties him
up, as she wad tie up a wild animal till he
comes to himsel again."

" I d like to see your sister Jean, or any ither
woman body, lay a hand or a word on my

" He s nae mair than any ither man he s
feared for his sister "

" Him feared ! Na, na ! He doesna ken the
meaning o the word."

" Tuts, Dawson ! You dinna ken when a
man is feared. He is walking aboot thee now,
just as meeserable as a fesh oot a water ; and
Miss Terres is tormenting him oot o his senses,
wi her shut e en and her way o looking as if
naething on earth could ever mak her heed him
any mair. He ll hae to go to her, and say the
first gude word, and may be she ll listen to
him, and may be she ll say she doesna care to
be worried, or she s sleepy, or the like o that."

But when Graeme fulfilled his housekeeper s
prophecy, and stooped over his sister and said
the first gude word, she opened her eyes with
a bright smile, and answered, " I am so glad
you are more reasonable, Tilbert. Let us
look at my marriage as an accomplished


fact, and consider your happiness with regard
to it."

" My happiness is out of such considera

" Nonsense ! I was thinking of you and
Faith. I spent all the morning with her. A man
had better win Faith Harribee than conquer a
kingdom. She is the truest, sweetest, most
lovable woman in the whole world. I am not
worthy to be her sister."

Nothing Terres could have said would so
completely and so instantaneously have driven
away the evil spirit in Graeme s heart. He
asked all about their interview ; but as Terres
related their conversation about Roland and
Agnes, the light on his face died out, and
he shivered slightly as he bent lower to the
blaze. But Terres was so happy, and her
heart was so full of new hope, that she
threw backward, as it were, the thought that
blanched her brother s face, and made him
shiver under the lash of memory. Still the
things of the present are always the most en
grossing, and the words of Terres about Faith,
were sweeter than honey, and stronger than
wine to him.


"And you really think that I may hope,
Terres ? "

" I do think so. When I said you were will
ing to spend your whole life in winning her
love, she never answered the remark. There is
a great deal of consent in a woman s silence.
And Faith is one of those women who are
mistress of their own secrets ; if she had not
liked you, she would have said at once, it is a
pity he should waste life in a useless effort. I
never could love him. Yes, she would surely
have said some words to that effect, for she is
as clear and truthful as the dayshine."

" I would be a happy, and a good man,
Terres, if I had Faith for a wife.

" I am sure you would. A little caution, and
a little perseverance, and you will win her."

Then they were silent a while, but both were
thinking of the same thing. Terres had not
spoken of Roland that night without a distinct
purpose. The subject was always a disagree
able one to enter upon, but at this crisis in her
life, she wished her brother to understand that
she had fully committed herself to a certain
position, and that she meant to abide by it.

Graeme was not slow in comprehending his


sister. He recalled all she had told him, and
then, in a thoughtful, hesitating manner, re
marked :

" The version you gave Faith is to be the
true one ? "

" It is the final one. It is the one I shall re
assert whenever the subject forces itself to dis

" Sometimes, I am sorry "

" I am never sorry. I never shall be sorry.
Look if the door is shut and the corridor

He rose, glanced up and down the gloomy
passage, shut the door carefully, and returned
to the hearth. Terres had drawn her chair
closer to the fire, they bent together over
it, and their low words blended with the
crackling wood, and seemed to vanish amid
the smoke and blaze of the cavernous chim

" Let us face the position squarely for this
once, Tilbert. Then we will bury the subject
forever. There is no possibility of Roland
ever hearing the truth from any sou? font you,
or I?"

" I am sure of that."


" You said, sometimes you were sorry what

" Well, he is a fine fellow. He would have
done very well in my place."

" He is a fine fellow on the operatic stage,
where his own place is ; or he would never have
gone there. What Graeme worthy of the name,
ever before took to fiddling aud acting and
making a show of himself, for money ? Wil-
Jiam committed an outrage against every one
of his family, living and dead, in marrying a
woman whom any Italian beggar for a piastre
could go and jeer at, or applaud, as it suited his
fancy a foreigner, almost a pauper, and a
papist too. I don t pretend to much religion,
but the Graeme s have always stood by episco
pacy an adventurer, I have no doubt, who
traded upon Will s folly."

" Come, let us keep to facts. Neither of us
ever saw her. She was well spoken of in the
Greek town where Will made his home."

" We will keep to facts, if you wish it. She
left a son, who, if she were married to Will,
ought to be in your place."

" She was married to Will. There is no
doubt of that. Will s last letter, which the


priest gave me, said so ; and referred me to
the records of the little Roman chapel where
the ceremony took place. I did not go to
search them, but I have not the slightest doubt
of Roland s legitimacy."

" Look at the fact then in its worst light. If
the marriage should be discovered, still there
is not the slightest proof that you knew of it.
You would have to give place to the interloper,
but popular sympathy would be with you, and
in the meantime every year is a distinct gain
to you. You have become a rich man. Never
more could you know the pinching and scrimp
ing of those days, when Will was in possession,
and not only neglecting the property, but
wasting every shilling he could get upon
strangers in a strange country."

" Many people would say I ought to have
been sure of my position; others, that it was
most unlikely Will died without leaving me
evidence to establish his son s rights. Then
the question would rise naturally, " What did
he do with such evidence?

"Whatever you did with it, you did well. I
stand with you there. Your right, as our
father s son was before Roland s right as the


son of that woman ! Your right was the natural
right, the strong right. For what is done, I
will not have a regret. Let us think of the
future. If you marry Faith, and have sons of
your own, you will be glad you kept the inherit
ance for them. If you have no heir, and I
have children, I shall be equally grateful. If
neither of us have children, let the name and
the estate go to Graeme of Hazelburn ; he is
of pure border lineage on both sides."

" Terres, I have often had another thought
about this matter if we should meet Will
again, what of that meeting? "

"Are you trembling at shadows? I never
was afraid of Will when he was here, and lately,
I have lost all fear of him yonder. I shall
ask him what right he had to make us ill friends
with old friends like the Lenox? What right
he had to defile the old line that gave him birth,
and wealth, and honor ? What right he had to
marry a woman whom he was compelled to go
into hiding with ? A woman who forced him
to desert his home, and his brother and sister
to neglect his private duties, and his public
obligations, and caused him to die like a crim
inal in a Greek hamlet ; instead of among the


shadowy host and the living kin, in the Graeme s
Castle? If Will is there, other Graemes will be
there also ; men of our own spirit, women who
will understand my feelings they will stand
by what we have done, and approve it. If we
are to begin supposing about the future, we
have as much right to suppose one thing as

" That is true. But I have often wondered
why Roland dislikes me so much ? Does he
suspect any thing ? "

" Very likely he does. A bright boy of
nearly ten years old has his opinions and con
victions. Roland remembered his Greek life
very vividly. His mother was a saint in his
memory, his father the kindest and best of
men. After he grew to manhood and married,
he would be sure to judge his memories by his
own experiences, and almost certainly arrive at
the truth. That he treated you with such
marked dislike and contempt, shows in reality
he had done so ; but it also shows that he had
no proofs of his suspicions, no facts of any kind
which could turn them into surety. If he had,
we should long ago have been made aware of


" Still, Terres, "

"Tilbert, if you have fits of remorse about
that playing-woman s son, do keep them to
yourself. I am not disposed to let them trouble
my future. To the last moment of my life I
will stand by the position we took. I shall
expect you to do the same, if you are not a
poltroon and a coward."

" Keep such words within your lips, Terres.
I won t have them thrown sideways at me."

" Don t provoke the thoughts that bring the
words, then. And what use is there in our
quarreling now? Do save some of your tern-
per for Faith Harribee."

" Faith would not provoke me as you do."

" Indeed, I can assure you that very good
people can be exceedingly exasperating. I
imagine even I and you could learn something
in the way of aggravation from a quarrel be
tween saints. You will not be able to bully
Faith any more than myself. Her weapons of
offense and defense may be different from mine,
but they will be effective. I have no doubt
of it."

Her real anger had passed into a tone of ban
ter, and Graeme was inclined to accept the


compromise and suffer all ill-feeling to evapo
rate in a laugh. Besides, he wished to talk of
Faith, and when Terres said, she was determ-
mined to have her for a bridesmaid, Graeme
was so delighted with the possibilities the situ
ation offered, that he was quite willing to dis
cuss with interest further arrangements for the

Nor was the proposal for Faith s presence
any very great social trespass. She had been
gradually becoming a woman of wealth and
influence. The dominie always called her " the
Lady of Harribee." The neighboring gentry
had begun to accept and repeat the title. In all
local matters she held a controlling power. Her
interest was well worth seeking, and though she
usually avoided ceremonious visiting, it was
known that she had been a guest at Elderslee,
the residence of the new member of Parliament,
whose election she had undoubtedly secured.
So, though she preserved her single life, and
persevered in all her industrious and economi
cal habits, evidences of wealth and refinement
and social power had gradually found a place
in the gray old home of Harribee.

After Terres left her that eventful morning


she was unhappy. She did not understand the
sudden change in Miss Graeme s manner , and
a moody, fretful temper was one of the things
which she could neither tolerate nor excuse.
"Any way, I ll no let her worry my goings on,"
she mused ; " I hae often heard tell these fine
ladies hae what they call the vapors, and the
nerves. Gertie ! They might be catching, for
I m no like myself at a , feeling cross for
naething, and a tossed up because my lady
got weary o playing at being amiable. Tuts,
tuts, Faith Harribee ! You arena very amiable
yourself, blaming folks out o your ain mind.
Phemie, let us hae a bit o solid dinner, and
then get me a web o winsey. I ll cut some
clothing for poor Mausie Coquet to make, and
then ride o er to Moss Kirtle with it."

Phemie was not pleased at the interruption
to the usual work which Miss Graeme s visit had
caused " fine lady visitors taking tea before
dinner time, and makin believe to spin! Per
fect nonsense ! " and with such thoughts in her
heart, she did not do any thing tending to bring
a pleasanter atmosphere into the house. So
Faith was glad to get into the open air again,
and she drove slowly and talked longer than


usual with her needle-woman, and even delayed
at intervals to speak a few words with some of
the village wives.

It was nearly dusk when she got home.
She had been thinking of Agnes all the after
noon. Miss Graeme s conversation had brought
some very solemn considerations for her. If
she had any heirs, the children of Agnes if
Agnes had any children were the natural
ones. Failing them, what was she to do with
her money?

" I might marry and hae bairns myself."
The thought came to her she knew not how,
but it brought the blood surging into her face,
and she felt annoyed and hurried the pony into
a gallop " a daft-like thing to do," she mut
tered, " the puir beastie wasna to blame for the
silly thocht."

When she went into the house-place Phemie
gave her a letter. " It cam twa hours ago, but
you re aye rinning roun the country-side thae
days and I m maist sure it is frae Agnes. I
hae been fair sick anent it, fearing it was ill

" Ay, it s from Agnes, thank God ! Dinna
greet, Phemie, I ll read it this vera minute."


It was a loving, child-like letter. " She was
so happy," she said, " only not feeling very
well, and just dowie with a fit of home-sickness."
God had given her two sons, and she had called
them after her father and grandfather, Matthew
and David ; "and oh, Faith ! " she concluded,
" I want to kiss you, and to see you kiss my
bairns, and though I ken weel you have for
given me lang syne, I want you to say so once
again, dear lassie; for I am not quite well, and
my heart is sair longing for a word from you.
And put a bonnie blue-bell from the fell-side in
your letter, and with a kiss and a kind word,
send to the care of John Clapham, Lincoln s
Inn, London."

And Faith and Phemie kissed the letter, and
then knelt down and thanked God. From
each woman s heart had gone the last shadow
of every thing not lovely and loving. Faith
laid Phemie s wrinkled face, set in its wide,
linen-bordered cap, against her breast, kissed
away the tears in her faded blue eyes, and
whispered to her, " Forgie me, Phemie, if I
was a bit thochtless to you ! And, Phemie,
kiss me for Agnes, too. The dear bairn, she
is maybe coming hame to us yet."


For Faith suddenly built a great deal upon
this unlocked for communication. Agnes had
hitherto refrained from giving the slightest
clew to her residence. She had left her with
out any chance even to thank her for the box
which contained so many evidences of her
affection. But now she had risked every thing
in her desire to hear from home, and Faith,
that very night, sat down and told her
all that happened since she left Harribee.
She was a slow pen-woman, but oh how
easy it seemed to write to Agnes the fullest
words of tender love and complete forgive

And the two lads ! How her heart went out
to them ! She had been troubling herself
about an heir to her property, and here were
her own nephews ! " The bairns o my ain
bonnie Agnes! Called for my honored fayther
and grandfayther, and holding a memory like
wise o my dear wee Davie ! The lands and
the hame o Harribees will come to their ain,
thank God ! Oh, if a body could only trust
God to look both before and behind them !
What a mair than useless worry I hae had this
day ! I hae twa nephews ! Think o that ! Oh


may The Three and The One be their God
and guide ! " *

There was not a sprig of heather on the hills
that was not dearer to her after this news.
And yet " a full heart is aye a kind heart."
The orphans within her gates were never an
hour less welcome. No one was permitted to
darken their youth with cross words or unjust

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA border shepherdess; a romance of Eskdale → online text (page 9 of 15)