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Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES






Long 'Beac* 2 t Calif -



Ac*



A Sister to Esau



By
AMELIA E. BARR




New York
Dodd, Mead and Company



COPYRIGHT, 1891,

BY
ROBERT BONNER'S SONS.

COPYRIGHT, 1891,

BY
DODD, MEAD & COMPANY.

A II rights reserved.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER PAGE

I. A STRANGE TITLE DEED .... i

II. WORDS HALF SPOKEN 16

III. BLAIR RODNEY ARRIVES .... 30

IV. A POLKA AND ITS RESULTS ... 47
V. A MESS OF POTTAGE 64

VI. EITHER WILL Do So

VII. ESAU'S SISTER 98

VIII. LOVE AND CHANGE 117

IX. ANGUS BRUCE DECIDES .... 138

X. BRUCE FINDS A MOTHER .... 157

XI. THE MINISTER'S TROUBLES . , . 176

XII. A FORTUNATE JOURNEY .... 197

XIII. RECOVERED 219

XIV. THE LOST FOUND 237

XV. THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE . . . 257

XVI. LOVE'S REASON is WITHOUT REASON 279

XVII. THE TURN OF THE TIDE .... 301

XVIII. GOOD-BY AND JOY BE WITH Us ALL ! 323



A SISTER TO ESAU.



i.

A STRANGE TITLE DEED.

" For valiant men and bonnie lasses,
Old Fife all other lands surpasses."

Old Song.

OOMEWHAT north of Elie, where the grand coast
*"-* of Fife runs backward into lovely valleys and
green pastures, there is a large gray house with cor
beled walls and high turrets. It is the home of the
Blair- Rodneys ; and it has been for hundreds of years
a part of the beautiful landscape.

The men of Rodney have been always men of the
sword and the sea ; and the walls of the old kirk by
Rodney Law are crowded with the worn brasses, re
cording their warlike deeds at home and abroad.
And, side by side with them, the shining tablets of our
own day keep the names of soldiers and sailors of the
same family, who died but yesterday in the service of
Queen Victoria ; men of valor, all of them, but pass
ing into the night, and leaving earth no better for
their mighty pilgrimage.

In A.D. 1842, the owner of Rodney House was
Colonel Kinross Rodney, a soldier who had spent
most of his life in the East Indies, and had only in-

i



2 A SISTER TO ESAU.

herited in consequence of the unexpected demise of
three nearer heirs. He was an exceedingly proud
man, and specially proud of his descent from a family
so ancient and so honorable. As long as his sword
was his only fortune he had been reticent on the sub
ject, but he was very much inclined to magnify his
ancestors when he became their representative. For
he considered himself high-steward of the Blair-Rod
ney interests ; he was to guard their honor, and to in
crease their wealth and local importance.

He assumed this charge with an exaggerated idea
of the value of money ; for the lesson he had learned
from a long life of straits and struggles was that
honor, valor, and noble birth were shorn of their pro
per glory if they were linked with poverty. He had
talked differently when he was a poor man, for he had
felt differently, and his change of sentiment expressed
nothing worse than a change of circumstances. He
was a man to whom the highest duty was the highest
ideal. When he had worn the sword, absolute obedi
ence and invincible valor was the rule of his life.
Now that the honor of his ancestors and the welfare
of his descendants were in his hands, he was actuated
by an almost painful sense of his responsibility.

" I must leave the estate better than I found it,
Dorinda," he would say to his wife. " To simply
enjoy it, would be dishonorable. I could as little do
it as I could have idled in barracks when I ought to
have been out with my troop, keeping the frontier."

Fortunately, he had a wife after his own heart.
Mrs. Rodney never forgot, even in her dreams, that
she was the daughter of a Highland family whose
antiquity was unfathomable. The Rodneys might
have been earls of Fife in the mythical reign of Cor-



A STRANGE TITLE DEED. 3

bred the First ; but how much more ancient were the
MacDonalds? Did they not take possession of Mor-
ven, even at the very time Julius Caesar was fighting
the painted warriors of Southern Britain ? She was a
tall, slender woman, usually dressed in the Mac-
Donald tartan. Her face was grave, her manner
high-bred, and free alike from arrogance and famili
arity a woman of strong purpose and of firm will.

She had lost three sons in India, and though a
religious person, this was an affliction she found it
difficult to forgive the Almighty. For though her
daughters were dear to her, she recognized that they
were but "second bests" for the great purpose of the
family honor and interest. Both were unknown quan
tities, and they might want to marry unsatisfactory
people. Certainly Bertha was as yet considerate,
affectionate, and obedient, but how would her char
acter stand the test of a lover ? She had even now
occasional fits of stubbornness, and these might indi
cate qualities undeveloped, and of which Bertha her-
self was hardly conscious.

As for the elder daughter, Scotia, she was a more
certain anxiety. No woman as conservative as Mrs.
Rodney could regard without fear, and a certain dis
approval, a girl so unconventional as Scotia Rodney.
Her very beauty was a trial. It was so unusual, so
unfamiliar, so almost insolent in its defiance of the
family type and traditions. Whence had come the
soul that fashioned that tall, stately form, and that
large, exquisite head, with its wonderful length of red
hair, waving and curling and radiating light like an
aureole ? How should her eyes be such celestial
blue blue of the day, not of the night instead of
the traditional brown or black of the family ? And in



4 A SISTER TO ESAU.

such a miserable world, full of sin, and of suffering
as the penalty of sin, was not Scotia's gay, joyous
temper indiscreet, unfeeling perhaps, indeed, some
thing worse ?

One evening, in the early spring of 1842, Mrs. Rod
ney was occupying her mind with such thoughts, the
while her hands were laboriously working the family
crest on some fine damask napkins. The lingering
glooms of twilight brood long in that latitude, and
she knew that the Colonel and his daughters were not
likely to return from their walk, until the gray, pale
lights were all dark. So she sat still, sometimes
drawing the needle through with a calm, regular in-
tentness, sometimes dropping her hands upon her lap,
and allowing her eyes to look far out, and to see
things which were invisible. For beyond the garden^
and beyond the park and the meadows, she saw a
great gray bowlder, called the " Stone of the Writing,"
and she felt certain that her husband and children
were before it.

She divined truly. The Colonel, also, was speaking
in a loud, yet monotonous voice, reciting words which
he evidently knew as well as he knew his own name.
Yet they were not intelligible to any one but himself ;
though the difference between the majestic Latin and
the shrill, sibilant Gaelic was sufficiently marked to
apprise Scotia when one passed into the other.

As soon as the Colonel ceased speaking, she said :

" Who graved the inscription, father ? To what
does it refer ? I know that you have been reciting in
Latin and Gaelic, but of your meaning, I know noth
ing at all."

" Nor do I," said Bertha, "though, I dare say, it is
something about Fingal or Ossian."



A STRANGE TITLE DEED. 5

" Children, it is the title-deed to our estate. The
first holders of Blair-Rodney won it, and held it with
their swords ; they would have thought a parchment
deed a disgrace. But when Rodney stood by the
Bruce, and received this land in reward, he graved his
right upon this everlasting rock."

"But have we no parchments, father?" asked
Bertha. " If there should come question of our right,
how would the stone witness be taken to Edinburgh
Court?"

" My dear, you are not the first of your race to
foresee that difficulty. James Rodney, in Queen
Mary's reign, won the Queen's favor, and asked and
received from her the parchment which secures in all
courts our right. Then the men of Blair-Rodney no
longer picked out the letters with their sword points.
Some of the holders did indeed keep the old record
clear ; others let the moss and lichen cover it. I have
just had it restored. It was only finished this after
noon, and I was impatient to show it to you. I fear
you do not share my enthusiasm."

" It is the grandest thing in our keeping, father,"
and Scotia turned a face radiating pride and pleasure
toward the Stone of Witness. " I shall come here
very often, and never once without calling to remem
brance the men whose valor and loyalty won our right,
and whose fingers cut in the gray rock the record of
it. If one could only pray for the dead, I would
always say here a prayer for their everlasting
peace."

" Scotia ! How can you think of such an awful
thing ? To pray for the dead ! You know that is
rank popery ! " And Bertha regarded her sister with
unqualified dissent and disapproval.



O A SISTER TO ESAU.

" These early Blairs and Rodneys were papists, of
course, Bertha. I dare say they would be grateful for
the prayer."

" Scotia Rodney ! If the minister could only hear
you ! "

" What has the minister to do with my prayers ? "
then more softly and solemnly " who can interfere
between a soul and its Maker ? To suppose that any
minister understands a relation so personal is indeed
popery of the rankest kind."

" Children, we will leave theology alone. What can
we say for our dead kindred ? They are gone to the
mercy of The Merciful. They know the grand secret,
now all of them."

" If they could only make themselves visible, father,
what a host they would be ! Soldiers with banners,
and claymores, and horses fleet as the wind ! "

"Men become spirits, but horses do not. You
should be careful, and not let your imagination run
to such lengths, sister. It is really wicked ! "

" If the Bible be true, Bertha, there are horses in
heaven ; chariots of fire, horses and horsemen thereof !
John saw them, and Elisha saw them. Isaiah says,
the beasts honor God. David says, they pray to Him
for food ; and when God made a covenant with man
after the flood, He also made a covenant with every
living creature. Human beings think a great deal
too much of themselves, and a great deal too little of
God's other creatures."

" The world is made for man, Scotia."

" Pardon me, dear father, if I dare to think a little
different. Is the rain and the sunshine sent for man
only ? Are they not also sent for the trees and the
herbage ? Are the trees and the herbage for man



A STRANGE TITLE DEED. ^

only ? The birds sleep in the branches ; the animals
dwell in the covert of the woods."

" Man has the knowledge and the fear of God,
Scotia."

" Remembering all that the Bible says about beasts,
birds, and even insects, how dare we say that all
creation does not have knowledge of God ; and as for
His favor, man seeks his food with labor and pain ;
the animals neither plow nor sow ; God feeds
them ! "

" We are lords over animals ; they are given to us
for food."

" They also chase and devour men."

" Scotia, my dear, you are talking as women talk
illogically."

" Are truth and logic identical, father ? "

" We are getting beyond our subject. How has
this argument grown out of our title ? Children, will
you reverence this stone when the place that knows
me now knows me no more forever ? "

"I will keep it as clear as it is this moment, if
it be within my ability to do so ; I promise you,
father."

It was Scotia who spoke. Her face was solemn,
her voice had her heart in it. And Bertha noticed
that her father seemed satisfied with Scotia's assur
ance. He did not interrogate her specially ; he did
not notice her silence. She looked at her sister with
a query in her eyes that was not a kindly one. And
she thought thus in her heart :

" Scotia, then, has already decided that the estate
is hers. But my right is quite as strong. I do not
believe in primogeniture, neither does mother. She
says the whole story of Esau and Jacob denies it



S A SIS TEX TO ESAU.

the elder shall serve the younger we shall see. I
will tell mother what Scotia said."

As these thoughts passed through Bertha's mind,
the Colonel lifted his hat to the old stone pillar, and
slowly turned toward his home. And all her life
Scotia kept his memory as she saw him in that act
his tall, spare figure wrapped in a military cloak, his
solemn enthusiastic face, his lifted eyes, his bare, white
head, and his outstretched arm, saluting. It was a
picture in the still, gray twilight which commanded
sympathy, because it was so genuine and so unselfish.

" I have seen many a fine statue," he said, as they
walked slowly through the yet brown fields, " but what
is a statue to an old inscription ? A human voice
issued from that'rock, and made itself audible through
the void of centuries. It told me that I was not
alone ; that other men men of my kindred had
stood where I stood, and had thought and felt as I
felt. Hundreds of years ago that stone found speech,
and still its words are living words. But where are
the men and women it spoke for ? "

He asked the question with a wistful solemnity, and
immediately answered it, " God knows where, and we
shall know."

Then they went silently forward. In the dark,
swaying plantations the rooks were going over their
last roll call, and the partridges, with a chirr-ch-
ch-chir, were hastening to the unplowed turnip
fields ; but these sounds blended with the fall of
their own footsteps, and entered the ears and the
heart without consciousness. When they reached the
village it was nearly dark, but at the cottage doors
men and women were still standing. Their faces were
patient and somber, made so by the patient processes



A STRANGE TITLE DEED. 9

of Nature with which their own lives were blent. All
were servants or tenants of Rodney, and they lifted
their bonnets in quiet respect as he passed. But
hinds and shepherds are not talkative, they learn to
be silent in the lonely spaces of the fields and the
upper fells.

" I thought of calling on the minister ; " said the
Colonel. " But it is late, and the manse is not
lighted, so we will not delay. Perhaps he is from
home."

To call upon the minister after their evening walk
was a very usual act. Rodney liked to saunter the last
half mile in his company ; he liked to see him at his
table and fireside ; he enjoyed his supper and his
glass of Glenlivet doubly, if the minister was present
to give the fillip of contradiction to his opinions. And
this ending to the evening was just as pleasant to
Scotia and Bertha, For the Reverend Angus Bruce
was the one young man who had yet come familiarly
into their lives ; and he was a very remarkable young
man.

Three months previously the Colonel, to gratify an
old army friend, had presented Angus Bruce to the
charge of the kirk at Rodney Law. And greatly to
the surprise of all, he had been accepted with scarce a
demurring voice. This circumstance was the more re
markable, because at that time Scotland was fighting
every known civil power of the realm on this very sub
ject of patronage, and any minister offered by temporal
influence was prejudged an " Intruder."

But Angus Bruce had come with his authority on
his lips. The first sermon he preached gave him his
warrant to the pulpit. There was not a shepherd with
the Five Points at his five finger ends, who did not



10 A SISTER TO ESAU.

allow Angus Bruce to be a grand priest after the order
of John Calvin. Even Adam Gowrie admitted it 5
and he was a judge of orthodoxy so uncompromising
that his very collie dog whined or howled a protest, if
there was any modification in the pulpit of the great
doctrines of election and eternal punishment.

The young minister was also a very handsome man.
Physically he was such a priest as the law of Levi de
mands without spot or blemish ; not tall, but ad
mirably built ; slender, lean, stript for the conflict of
life, and full of animal vigor, tempered by nervous
irritability. He had an ecclesiastical type of face ;
pale, dark, severe, though sometimes fairly trans
figured by flashes of sudden pleasure or feeling.
Added to these advantages was the great charm of
spiritual authority, and the ultra-terrestrial influence
which a fine preacher, lifted up by his office above all
conditions, must necessarily exert. And in this office
none could gainsay Angus Bruce. He was fiery,
vehement, terribly Calvinistic not a loophole in all
his shining mail and he spoke as Elihu begins :

I am full of words,

The spirit within constrains me,

every word pushing the right way ; every word going
home.

That such a young man should exert a powerful
influence over girls with the dew of their youth still
on them was exceedingly natural. Neither admitted
the fact, and yet neither deceived the other.

" I am sure that Scotia has fallen in love with the
minister," Bertha had said one confidential hour to her
mother ; and Mrs. Rodney had answered with em
phasis, "See that you do nothing so foolish. Your



A STRANGE TITLE DEED. H

father sends for young Blair Rodney very soon, and
whoever marries Blair, will get Rodney, and all the
land about it."

Yet in spite of this hint, Bertha was as much dis
appointed as Scotia when they saw the manse unlighted,
and heard the Colonel's determination to hasten home
ward. But both remained silent, for both were afraid
of revealing themselves. The little gate to the manse
garden was passed, and they were stepping gloomily
along the path by the stone wall and its bare hedge,
when a woman put her head above it. She was old,
and her large brown face was surrounded by the thick
borders of her white cap, but Scotia saw her with
pleasure.

" God be wi' you, Colonel Rodney. Is it the minis
ter you're wanting ? He's awa' to the kirk-yard to
think oot his sermon."

" To the kirk-yard, Grizel ?"

" Even sae, Colonel. Is there ony better place to
wrastle wi' heaven and hell, and death and judgment ?
Minister Laing studied wi' his spindle shanks spread
oot to the blaze, and a glass o' toddy to his hand. Ye
ken yoursel' what kind o' sermons he gave us."

" The kirk-yard is a cold study, Grizel."

" It's our lang hame, sir. And God kens we are a'
dying creatures ; our life is just within our lips ; we
are here to-day and gane to-morrow."

" How is your toothache, Grizel ?"

" Deed, Miss Rodney, I hae the best o' it. I got it
pulled oot, and I burned it up wi' a bit o' hazel stick ;
but I hae the rhuematics awfu'."

" And you have many other things, Grizel Gowrie.
Adam and you have a good home with the minister,
and you are saving money, I dare say."



12 A SISTER TO ESAU.

" We all hae our blessings, Colonel ; but in some
way or ither the Lord taks them oot o' us. He taks
them a' oot o' me in rhuematics. Bid the minister
hame wi' ye, sir, for a bite and a sup and a warld-like
company. He's been stepping atween the dead and
the kirk lang enough for ae Sawbath day's preach
ing."

In a few moments they reached the kirk, and all
peered curiously into the solemn yard around it. A
deeper darkness had settled there, for the old yew
trees cast black shadows over the lonely spot. But
the white flags which made a path around the kirk
were all the more distinct, and on them the minister
was slowly walking, now visible, now lost to sight
a gloomy, spectral figure, whose slow, deliberate
movements had a singular fascination. They watched
him for a few moments, and then the Colonel passed
onward without a word.

A great depression seemed to fall upon each, and
the rest of their walk was taken hastily, as if escap
ing from something unhappy. Old Grizel's thin,
querulous voice, the preacher's solemn vigil, the sad
portents of the sighing yew trees and the ghost-like
gravestones even the hard, motionless, granite idea
of the old kirk assailed their hearts through their
imaginations, and for the moment they could not
escape those rudimental terrors of darkness and
death which we bring into the world with us and
only conquer in moments of triumphant faith and
hope.

" How uncanny the minister was," said Bertha to
her sister, as they removed their cloaks and furs ; " he
looked so tall in the gloom and his down-bent face
so white and phantom-like."



A STRANGE TITLE DEED. 13

" And Bertha, I fancied there were people ghosts
I mean behind us, after we left the kirk-yard. I ex
pected to feel a hand, or hear a whisper, every
step I took. Father stayed out too long ; and the
influence of the Stone Pillar was on me. Whether
we were interested or not, perhaps those behind us
were."

" I do not believe they either know, or care, any
thing about an old granite bowlder, with some Latin
and Gaelic words on it. The next life can be little
better than this if such things interest the dead. Of
course, I would not say so to father, but "

" May not such things be symbols of family honor
and faith ? and of family ties, that are not broken by
death ? "

"The dead are so far off."

" How can we tell ? They go out from us, but per
haps only to the next room of life."

" The Bible says nothing about a next room. Peo
ple go either to heaven or hell when they die. I am
afraid a great many go to hell. Did you see that
letter on the table beside father's place ? I have an
idea that it is from our cousin Blair. I suppose he is
coming here soon."

" Father told me so. He is our nearest kin."

" And wants to be nearer. He is only thirty years
old, and mother has read about him at the games.
They say he is 'the prettiest man in Perthshire' :
that is, he has the most inches, and can run the farthest,
and leap the highest, and shoot the closest, and
do all sorts of wonderful things beside. Will he be
handsome, also, do you think ? "

" I dare say he will have cheeks like carnation, and
black eyes, and black hair, and a loud voice, and red



14- A SISTER TO ESAU.

hands. And he will make puns, and consider them
'wit.'"

" And he will sing, ' Will you goto Inverness ? ' and
' Cam' ye by Athole ?' "

"And his talk will be of bullocks."

" Perhaps it is not right, Scotia, to say such things.
He may be thinking nicely of us."

It was a conversation of the lips ; neither girl
thought much of the words she uttered. Scotia stood
erect, watching her sister make still smoother the
smooth bandeaux which gave her round, baby face
such an innocent look. But she was really thinking
of that dark figure in the kirk-yard, and her soul was,
in a dim, unacknowledged way, keeping with his soul
the lonely session with the darkness and the dead.

" Let us go downstairs, Scotia. I dare say father
is waiting for us." Bertha was now satisfied with her
appearance. If the minister came in late, as he had
done once or twice, there was not a hair of her head
out of its place, and she glanced at Scotia's flowing
locks, and wondered how they could be at once so
untidy and so becoming. " Let us go downstairs, father
will be waiting for us. It is time for the Exercise ; "
and her tone was almost reproving. For a moment,
Scotia felt as if she had been the cause of the delay.

The servants, old and young, male and female, had
already gathered in the parlor ; and the Colonel, at his
daughters' entrance, rose with The Book in his hand.
He was not a scholar, but Scotia thought no one
could read like him. He gave out the portion in its
course " The Word of the Lord by Joel the son of
Pethuel ; the First Chapter." The leaves rustled in
the hands of the hinds and the maids ; there was a
short deep stillness, and then softly and solemnly, the



A STRANGE TITLE DEED. 1 5

wondrous picture grew, verse by verse : the fig tree
stripped of its bark, standing white against the arid
landscape the bride wailing for her husband the
night-watch of the supplicating priests the empty
garners the perishing herds. And how forcible were
these things to the men and women who knew the
hopes and fears of agricultural and pastoral life !

Ere the chapter was ended, the minister came quietly
among them ; and it was his voice that lifted the sup
plicating prayer. Scotia thought it had tones in it
she had never heard before, and she wondered if they
had been caught in that solemn communion from which
he had just come. Bertha heard them not, she was
congratulating herself upon her prudence. She felt
that she could do herself perfect justice ; her hair was
in beautiful order ; her collar fresh ; on her feet were
the red sandals so coquettishly becoming ; on her
hands the rings which accentuated their whiteness,
and drew attention to their small size.

Yes, people do think of such vanities, even in the
presence of God. For an ear for spiritual discourse is


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