Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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think so ?"

"Yes, I do; but I am thinking, likewise, that my
lady willna be pleased to hae me tak' the words out o'
her lips. I shall tell her as soon as she comes hame
that you are here, and it's no unlikely she'll send at
once for you. I thoct o' this likelihood, when I said,
4 put on the best in your keeping'."

As she was speaking, a carriage drove rapidly to the
door, and there was the silent stir which is usually all
that accompanies a return from an entertainment.
A few sharp words to the sleepy porter the clashing
of the main doors the slipping of the big bolts and


the rustle of trailing garments on the polished oak
steps, announced that the seekers of pleasure had
come back probably disappointed.

" Wait here a few moments, Angus. I'll be back,
or I'll send a messenger to you, before you'll hae time
to weary. If I dinna gae to her ladyship, she'll think
her warld is tapsalterie ; and she'll be speiring of all
and sundry if I'm drown'd, or dead, or gane to the
warld's end. And thae will hae mair than is true or
needfu' to tell her anent yoursel'."

She went hastily out, and Bruce stood up and let
the strangeness of all the pleasant surroundings sink
into his heart. His eyes were dropped upon the fire,
his hands clasped behind him, a faint smile the smile
of inward trust and hope lighted the warm pallor of
his handsome face.

The door moved softly on its hinges. A sweet,
subtile perfume a still sweeter and more subtle per
sonality, touched him with an instantaneous and super
natural significance. He turned to the door as one
spoken to by a spirit and then, he was at Scotia's
side, he held her in his arms, he was whispering
against her cheek, over, and over, and over, the dear
delicious dissyllable " Scotia ! Scotia ! Scotia ! "

And oh, how lovely she was ! Her white, glistening
robes, her white arms and bosom glistening with gems,
her long cloak of white cashmere trimmed with swan's
down, falling from and partly hiding her beauty and
splendor, seemed to Angus only part and portion of
her altogether charming personality the proper ad
juncts of her glorious hair, her shining eyes, and her
radiant face.

For a little while his whole being was entranced by
her presence ; he forgot all that was strange and un-


likely in the far greater wonder of seeing her, speak
ing to her, clasping her in his arms ; in the joyful
miracle of hearing her call him "dearest " and " An
gus," and feeling her hands in his hands and her
cheek against his cheek.

But such divine moments find nothing in our hu
manity on which they can rest ; they enfold us in their
fleet passage, and are gone. With a happy sigh An
gus remembered first. He led Scotia to a seat, and
stood beside her chair. It was such a delight to bend
down to her sweet lifted face ; the touch of her hand
charmed him ; the faint scent of woodruff filled the
chambers of his brain with delicate impressions of
forests, and mossy coverts, and tinkling springs ; and
yet all these impressions were in some way part of
Scotia. They talked softly with eloquent ellipses and
shy glances they found words useless, and filled
silence with long looks of love, and smiles, and kisses.

There was no need to ask Scotia any questions
no need to tell her of his fears and doubts. They
had gone, he knew not where : only it seemed the
vainest of things to remember they had once been.
Ann left them nearly an hour together. They thought
it was five minutes. They were just beginning to
remember that they were not alone in the world ; just
beginning to wonder and speculate, when she came
into the room. Angus went to meet her. He brought
her to Scotia ; he said, "Mother, this dear woman is
to be my wife. Love her for my sake."

She put her hands on Scotia's shoulders and kissed
her ; and then turning to Angus, said :

" Dinna think I hae the lesson to learn, Angus.
The lassie kens weel that I love her for her ain sake."

And for a few minutes they stood together, and


Scotia called her mother. The dear word went to her
heart with a little shock. Perhaps, in spite of her
love for Angus, she was not quite happy. She had
just found him, and already she must share his affec
tion with others. It takes a good deal of the love of
God in the heart to suddenly give a mother's love to
the strange woman who takes the first place in an only
son's life. Will her love indeed atone for all she is to
lose ? The poor mother ! She must rejoice, though
her heart ache. It is so natural for the young to love
and to wish to marry. True ! It is also so natural
for the mother to cling to the son she loved before the
girl-wife was born. The girl has loved him a year.
The mother has loved him twenty- six years ; yea, and
she loved his father before him.

Ann did not consciously think of these things ; she
was only sensible of their effect, and that very dimly.
Her love for her boy had always been fettered and
shared. It was no new grief that came to her. But
her presence brought the lovers down to a more prac
tical and inquisitive level.

"Then I am in Lady Yarrow's London house?"
said Angus.

" And you are the mother of Angus ? " said Scotia.
" I ought to have known it. How glad I am ! And
has my Aunt Yarrow always known Angus ? "

" Since he was a bairn seven months auld she has
kent him ; but I'll answer nae questions this night
or morning. For I'm vera weary, and the baith o'
you the same, dootless or aught to be. Angus is at
hame here, and Lady Yarrow bade me tell him sae.
Sleep now, bairns, there's all the to-morrows of life
before you."

It was long after the noon hour when Lady Yarrow


sent for Angus. "You will send him here to me,
Ann," she said positively, "and he must come alone.
You went to Rodney Law alone, and had the lad all
to yourself. I am going, likewise, to have him all to
myself. First impressions are weighty, and I will not
have you meddle with my first impressions on our

So Angus was led by a footman into Lady Yarrow's
presence. She had made Ann dress her with extra
ordinary care ; she was seated in a richly carved high-
backed chair that had some resemblance to a throne ;
she assumed an air of dignity and authority. Her
idea was, to first fill the imagination of Angus with a
sense of her lofty station and character, and then
absolutely unbend to his claim upon her. She thought
he would value her affection more if he realized the
social distance between them.

But Angus had been trained in the opinion that the
office of a minister of Christ was the most exalted
condition on earth. And there was a total absence of
the servile in his nature, for he came of generations of
fishers, who had called no man ' Master ' but God
Almighty ; men who asked no favor but fair winds
and a smooth sea, and who went to Heaven for that
favor. The sense of dependence also had never
galled Angus. He had always supposed that his un
known benefactor had, in some way or other, the
right to care for him. He had grown up under the
favorable influence of financial independence and
patrician dreams, and his mother's revelation of the
true story of his life had come too late to modify his
physical bearing or his mental attitude.

It was, however, a trying ordeal, and he felt it to be
so. No matter how he carried himself through it he

2c6 A .SY57Y.-A' TO ESAU.

thought it likely he would offend his patron's ideals.
For his intercourse with life having been mainly
through ministers and schoolmen, he had little knowl
edge of fine ladies, and was obliged to form his concep
tions of them from Mrs. Rodney and the few families
whom he had met at Rodney House. It did not occur
to him there was any other type, and when he first
glanced at Lady Yarrow he supposed his preconceived
ideas to be correct. She sat still, and permitted him to
approach her chair without a word or sign ; she felt
during those moments that she was making her im-

But a woman so impulsive could not be held even
by her own determinations. When Angus was close
to her, when she felt the influence of his great physi
cal beauty, and caught the shining glance from his
eyes, she abandoned all her fine plans ; she rose
quickly, stretched out her hand, and said with emotion :
" Angus, my dear lad ! I am glad to see you !
Tut, tut ! do not kiss my hand ; that is but a cold
greeting " ; and when, without more ado, he kissed her
cheek, she blushed with pleasure at his " world-like
pith and sense."

" We will say nothing of the past, Angus."

" But I must thank you, Lady Yarrow "

" Call me ' mother,' young man, if you wish to please
me. No mother could have loved you better, or
watched you with more care than I have done. I
called you ' son ' when you were but a bairn a few
months old."

" My dear mother, I am very grateful to you."

"Yet, when I wrote to you anent the kirk "

" That was a case of conscience, not of love or


" And how do you feel on the subject now ? "

" If the State does not do what is right "

' Hear to the lad, judging great lawyers and states
men ! As if he knew better than both houses of Par

" The wrong-doing of the State is so obvious that
every shepherd and hind on the hills can see it. At
the next May Assembly, I think nine-tenths of the
Scotch clergy will leave their kirks and their
manses, and I shall be among them. For a bite
and a sup, would you have me give God's honor to
Caesar ? "

" I would think little of you if you did. Go out
with your brethren ; if you do not, I shall be ashamed
of you."

" Yet Mr. Noble "

" Mr. Noble set a snare for you you were over
true and wise to fall into it."

" Mother, had you any right to "

" Yes, Angus, I had a right. I know my rights,
every one of them. I am not likely to go beyond
them. One of them was to give you, yourself
placed minister though you be any good opportu
nity that came to hand to find out your own heart a
knowledge beyond anything to be learned in the

" In that you are right, mother. And I am glad
your heart is with the kirk and your own country."

" I am not daft either way, Angus. If I were Eng
lish-born I should be for the Episcopals, no doubt. I
should have come into the world with a bias that way,
and I should call it ' conscience.' Being a McDonald,
I am not inclined to let Episcopals put a finger on
Scotland's Ark of the Covenant though, between


you and myself, I am not planted for time and eter
nity on Presbyterianism."

" The faith of Scotland "

" Tut ! It came from Geneva. In the way of
creeds, it is a thing of yesterday. If I were standing
on a creed, I would away to what you call ' Babylon.' "

" John Knox "

"Was not an angel from heaven nor a prophet,
nor yet the son of a prophet."

" He was an apostle, and in iron times God sends
iron apostles to make smooth His way. We sit at
ease because he sowed in blood and fire, and then we
call him harsh, and sour, and stern. He was not
stern enough."

She smiled proudly. " I dare say you would have
been sterner. I am glad you can talk back. My life
would be happy enough if it was not so monoto
nous, and it is a pleasure to discover a young gentle
man young he is sure to be who thinks differently
from his neighbors."

" When it comes to my creed "

" And to mine ! And to everybody's, let us be very
tolerant. Until God make of one flesh all the families
of the earth, we shall have different creeds, as we
have different temperaments and different climates.
Episcopacy suits these luxurious conservative Eng
lishmen. It gives them ready-made prayers, and
makes them doubly dear and holy by the very fact
that they have been said, over and over, for hun
dreds of years. Antiquity, here, is a kind of religion."

" In the matter of Kirk and State, there is not a
weaver, or shepherd, or fisher, who does not know
both sides of the argument from beginning to end."

" Scotch weavers, and fishers, and shepherds, are not


fed on plum pudding and roast beef, and their oat
meal and fish diet fills their restless brains with phos
phorus. All of them have that mere faculty of logic
which belongs to lawyers and men educated at Edin
burgh ; and they would not thank you for a creed that
was not full of difficulties. What they really enjoy is
a good think over what is unthinkable to ordinary
Englishmen. Angus, my dear lad, God is more than
all the shrines that hold him ; and the wisest of creeds
is but a childish effort to spell the Infinite."

" But we must have creeds ; we must define what
we believe."

" Yes, as we must have laws to define what is right
and wrong. Blessed are they who have the law of
God in their heart, and who serve Him, being under
bondage to no other law or creed ! Come, come, we
will not sour the milk of human kindness with differ
ing about dogmas."

" When we talk of God, words are so terribly inad

" Yet, he who is so vast and strange

When with intellect we gaze,
Close to our heart steals in, in a thousand tender ways.

We can love, even when we do not know. Surely you
loved me, through all the years I cared for you,
though you did not know me."

" I loved always. I wondered very often. I longed
for a revelation which would give me something real
to cling to."

" Be very grateful to me, Angus, that I gave you
something to wonder about, all through your growing
years. Imagination and wonder are the creative fac
ulties. How much of your intellect do you owe to


wonder ? Happy were the children who lived when
all the marvelous fountains were not dried up."

" They are not yet dried up. Africa is still a won
derland ! "

" No. It it is full of deserts, and we know all about
sand, and sand-storms, and camels."

" We may discover new tribes of black men."

" We may hope to be spared that discovery. As
for Persians, Turks, Arabians, we know them better
than my father knew the Shetlanders, or the Ameri
cans. Cairo and Damascus used to be the home of
the genii and the fairies ; they are as commonplace
as Paris now. So be grateful that I gave you some
thing to wonder about all through your childhood."

" But why did you do it ?"

" Why ? Why ? A Scot is born with a question
all ready to ask. I will answer you in a question. If
you had known you were Lady Yarrow's adopted son ;
if you had known that you were really the son of poor
fishers, before you had the sense of a man, tell me
what influence this knowledge would have had upon
your unformed judgment, and your childish, imma
ture passions ? O, man, sit down and think over all
the temptations I saved you from, and be grateful for
all the healthy stimulants to study, and economy, and
self-reliance I gave you."

" You were a wise mother."

" I was, Angus. Love your ain mother, for I know
she went weeping to sleep many a night for the long
ing she had for you ; but love me also, for I thought
not of you as a bonnie lad to pet and play with ; I
thought for your future. I planned for you the grand
est of careers. I have not only loved you well, but


She rose as she spoke, and her large, expressive
face was full of feeling. " Give me your arm and
take me down to my niece. You know Miss Rodney,
of course."

" Yes."

" You know her well ? "

" Very well ; she is a girl of sweet nature, joyous,
ardent, lovely, hopeful ! "

" Gently. You had better not praise her. We learn
to love what we praise."

" And ? "

" You must not love Scotia Rodney. I have found
a mate for her, a young man exactly suitable. Why
do you smile ? That is not good manners, sir."

11 1 smile because Colonel Rodney said nearly the
same thing to me ' Do not fall in love with either
of my daughters. I wish Blair Rodney to have the
choice of them.' I have now been twice warned off
Miss Rodney. It is enough to make me trespass."

" Colonel Rodney was impertinent. How did he
know you wished to marry either of his daughters ?
And if you did, a minister of the Kirk, and Lady
Yarrow's adopted son, was mate high enough for any
Rodney. If I had not made already a match between
Captain Forres and Scotia, I would well, I would
please myself another way."

" You have made that match, mother? "

" I have settled the money matters anent it with
Lord Forres ; and the young things will buckle to,
when they get ready. They know I have set my heart
upon it. Well, Ann, what are you wandering upstairs
and downstairs for ? Here is our braw son. What
do you think of him ? "

Two days of perfect happiness followed this meet-

212 A SIS7'ER 70 ESAU.

ing. The weather was wonderfully fine, and Angus
drove in the Park with Scotia and Lady Yarrow, who
delighted herself with the astonishment and curiosity
his appearance caused. On the second evening there
was a small dinner in his honor, and after it they sat
together till long past midnight, enjoying the charms
of a thoroughly confidential and sympathetic conver
sation. As they thus sat, Scotia took from her pocket
a letter which had arrived at dusk.

" It is from Bertha," she said ; " and what does she
mean, Mr. Bruce, by this remark : 'The minister is
from home ; and when he returns he will be shocked
to hear that the mother of the child he refused to bap
tize has disappeared. No one knows where she has
gone. Some say she has thrown herself into the
sea. I should think the minister would feel like a

" I feel nothing like a murderer ; " answered Angus.
"The woman is not dead. She has gone away to lead
a better life. I shall not reveal her secret. As for
her child, I was not to blame. The Kirk makes the
parents the sponsors, and they must be free from vice
and live in observance of her ordinances."

" Poor mother ! " said Lady Yarrow angrily. " I
dare say she is breaking her heart for a grisly spiritual
chimera. If God requires holiness before he admits
to heaven, surely he requires sin before he dooms to
hell. The babe had never sinned."

" An infant dying unbaptized retains the burden of
its original sin, and falls into eternal condemnation.
Augustine saw unbaptized infants crying 'Without
hope, we live in desire of seeing God ? "

" Angus, I will hear no such words. Christ took
the little children on his knee and blessed them. He


asked nothing about their parents. He said nothing
about Adam's sin."

" Wait a wee, my lady. When Angus has sons and
daughters o' his ain he will think differently. It is
the vera young men wha are the fierce Calvinists. I
have aye noticed that. They get sweeter as they
grow aulder. There was Minister Logan, wha sae
bitter as he was on the doctrine o' election ? I can
mind yet, how angry you were wi' him, for saying,
' God chose men irrespective o' their actions, and pre
destined them for eternal salvation ; ' and how much
mair than angry you were when he added, ' yea, my
Lady, and ye shall hae the ither half o' the doctrine
God refuses men irrespective o' their actions, and pre
destinated them to eternal damnation.' Weel, Logan
has had twenty years growth since that day. I heard
him last Sabbath, and he put it thus ' A good man
may say, God chose me, and I am persuaded he will
keep me unto the end.' "

" That is all right, Ann. It is the expression of
Christian hope, the very temper of Scripture."

" And of Calvinism ; " added Angus with a smile,
as he bent forward and took Lady Yarrow's hand.

So they sat for many hours, finding in such conver
sation a never wearying fascination ; and then, very
soon after the break of day, Angus left London for
Scotland. Scotia and Ann had hardly slept, and they
were up to take an early breakfast with him ; and it
was their bending faces, full of love and smiles, that he
saw last, as he drove away from the house which he
had entered with such a heavy heart, and which he left
full of the hope and courage that springs from happy

Lady Yarrow watched his departure from her


chamber window. He was not conscious of this atten
tion, but fortunately he raised his eyes as he lifted his
hat, and she believed that he had thus bade her an
other 'farewell.' She spoke of the circumstance with
great feeling to Ann, and was proud and pleased all
day in the imaginary remembrance. Indeed, when she
had forgotten many other particulars of his visit, she
recalled that last upward glance, which she had taken
for herself.

On the following Sabbath Angus was in his pulpit
as usual. No one commented on his absence. Mon
day and Tuesday were particularly stormy days, but
on Wednesday the rain abated and it was possible to-
walk to Rodney House. He found the family together
in the parlor. Bertha had the Court Journal in her
hand. She had been reading it to her father and
mother. When Angus was seated and the natural
preliminaries to conversation over, she said :

" We have just been speculating about Scotia's new
lover, Mr. Bruce. The Journal szys she was driving
last Wednesday and Thursday with a very distin
guished-looking divine. Some Court chaplain, I sup
pose ? "

" More likely some one whom she met at Oxford,"
said the Colonel. " Well, Mr. Bruce, how did you en
joy your visit to Edinburgh ? And what is going on
there ? "

" I was in London, sir. I did not go to Edinburgh
at all."

" In London ? Why did you not tell me you were
going to London? I would have given you a letter of
introduction to Lady Yarrow, and you could have
brought us word how my girl was faring."

" I spent my whole time at Lady Yarrow's house."


Mrs. Rodney looked up angrily, as she said : " I
think it is a pity you did not have a letter from us.
Scotia's acquaintance was hardly a proper basis of in

" Lady Yarrow is my adopted mother. My own
mother has lived with her more than twenty-five years."

" As a a "

" As her friend, and companion."

" Really, Mr. Bruce, this is very remarkable !
Very ! " said the Colonel.

A succession of small thunder-bolts could scarcely
have been more remarkable. The Colonel and Mrs.
Rodney found themselves unable to discuss the cir
cumstance, but Bertha said, with apparent indif
ference :

" Then it was you who were driving with Scotia ?
How funny ! and how very interesting ! How is
Scotia ? "

" She looks remarkably well, and appears to be very

He had supposed that his information would cause
surprise, but he was not prepared for the chill silence
which followed it. Every one was ill at ease. Mrs.
Rodney and Bertha quickly made an apology for their
withdrawal, and went to Bertha's room to discuss an
event so astounding. The Colonel was indisposed to
talk, and let every subject drop without discussing it.
Angus made some trite remark about the gay life of
London as ministering only to the senses, and the
Colonel said querulously :

" Do you mean, Mr. Bruce, that the delights of the
senses are not worth having ? "

" No, sir ; but I think there is a certain waste of
life unless we go further than this."


Colonel Rodney was silent. Angus did not know
whether from approval or dissent. After a short
pause, he spoke of the great crowd of humanity in
London. " Contrasted with the steadfastness of na
ture," he said, " this crowd-wears a look of meanness,
as of straws and dust, blown here and thereby winds."

" Well, Mr. Bruce, some love this tide of life blown
about Pall Mall and Cheapside, just as others love
heath, and hill, and the long stretching downs, and
the sea. Every man to his taste."

The tones were still touchy and out of sympathy.
Angus was not willing to leave him in such a mood,
and he made another attempt : " I think in the coun
try we acquire a love for the subtle responsiveness of
nature, and then we find the turmoil of cities weari
some and vulgar."

" Perhaps. I do not know. Mr. Bruce, what did
you go to London for ? Will you tell me ? "

" Yes, sir. I went to see Miss Rodney. I found my
life so miserable in her absence and silence. I went
to see her, and to speak to her."

" Is your life less miserable now ?"

" Yes, sir."

" Have you nothing more to say to me ? "

" A great deal more, with your permission."

He bowed, and Angus continued : "I have loved
Miss Rodney ever since the first moment I saw her."

" Yes. All men say something like that."

" It may be generally true, though all men say it.
It is true in my case. Miss Rodney returns my affec
tion. She does me such great honor ! She gives me

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA sister to Esau → online text (page 14 of 23)