Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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with rapture and love as the young man approached.
He fell on his knees by her side. He put his arms
around her neck. He drew her head into his breast,
and whispered over and over, that one, sweet, ineffable
word, " Mother ! Mother ! Mother ! "

Then the Colonel closed the door and left them
alone. He began to think of his duties as a host, of
the gratitude due his unknown benefactor, and sud
denly as if he had been struck by tht thought of


Bertha and Blair. As they entered his mind, they
entered the house. The Colonel saw them coming to
ward him. They also saw the Colonel, and his face
startled them, though they had no time to make a pri
vate comment on it. But as soon as he was near, Ber
tha said :

" Father, how well how strange you look ! Has
anything happened?"

" The strangest thing that could happen, Bertha.
Your lost brother Archibald has come home. Lord
Moffat found him at Bokhara."

" Archibald come home ? Impossible ! "

" He is now with your mother. Go, welcome him ! "
and Bertha, without a word, fled upstairs ; but she went
not to herinother'sroom, she ran to her own chamber,
and locking the doors threw herself on her bed in a
paroxysm of apprehensive misery.

" Oh, why did he come just now ? Why did he not
wait just one week ? Then I would not have cared
so much ! Oh, how miserable I am ! And I was so
happy ! How cruel ! How cruel ! "

Blair took the information with incredulity. "It is
quite impossible, sir," he said. "After so long an
absence, you might be very easily deceived. I should
not be too sanguine, if I were you."

"Thank God, there is no deception! I knew my
son at once. He has brought evidence beyond doubt
with him. Why, my boy has in his pocket to-day the
only two letters his mother ever wrote him ; the little
purse she netted for him ; the faded silhouette of his
sister Scotia, sitting on her mother's knee. There is
no possible mistake. It is my very own son Archi
bald ! "

" Then, sir, it will be necessary for me to hare a


very quick understanding with you concerning my

"Your rights? Yes, yes! But it is the Sabbath.
We will speak about them in the morning."

Blair bowed and went to his room. Sabbath or no
Sabbath, he gave way there to his rage and disappoint
ment. It had been a great effort to hide it from the
Colonel. "Confusion," he muttered. "What is to
be done ; I shall lose the estate now, of course. Well,
he shall pay me well to give up my claim and marry
his daughter. I am not going to bind myself for a
trifle. This new-found son. Pshaw! he is an im
postor. And the Colonel knows it. But I have felt
that I was disliked lately. No impostor shall deceive
me ; I will find him out, and send him to the tread

But even while he promised himself so much, he
had an invincible doubt in his heart. Assert as he
would, he believed Archibald Rodney had been re
covered. He felt that his claim was already set aside,
and he had a mortifying conviction that Colonel Rod
ney was glad to be rid of him and his pretentions to

A few hours with the young laird turned these
doubts into certainties. When Archibald entered the
dining-room with his mother on his arm, his personal
ity was beyond impugning. When he stood by his
father's side, he was the Colonel's youth come back
again. He also remembered the most trivial affairs of
his childhood's home the names of his horse and
dog of many of his father's regiment. He could
describe yet ladies who had visited them. With Lord
Moffat's assistance as a translator, he could give the
history of all the events and changes of his own cap-


tivity. There was no more chance of denying his
claim than of denying that two and two make four.

He told Bertha this before they parted that night.
They were sitting in the large drawing-room, where
they had gone to be alone. It had been prepared for
the marriage-feast, and the preparations had already
a look of being out of place and unnecessary.

"It is really my brother," said Bertha.

"It is your brother. There is no doubt of it."

"Will his return affect us very much, dear

"It will prevent our marriage for some time."

"Oh, Blair! Blair! How can you look at it in
such a cruel way?"

" We must be sensible, Bertha. Your father prom
ised us Innergrey, and one thousand pounds a year.
That, with my income, would have been sufficient."

"And he will not take Innergrey from us. That
would not be like father."

"But if he does not give us the income to keep the
house ?"

"But he will, Blair. I am sure he will."

" I do not think so."

" Why not?"

" Because the new heir will require the income, my
dear. Rodney will not support two heirs-apparent."

He spoke coldly and with some temper. Poor
Bertha's heart was sick with fear. She tried all her
pretty wiles on this big man, sulky with his own loss
of prestige, but without effect. She thought he never
bade her " good-night " so carelessly. He said he
was so full of anxiety, he did not know what he was
doing. But Bertha felt that he ought to have remem
bered her anxiety the crushing shame and chagrin she


must suffer, if her marriage was postponed all the
womanly humiliations she would have to bear and
added thereto, the same loss of prestige he felt person
ally to be so bitter.



" This money has a power above

The stars and fates to manage Love ;

Whose arrows learned poets hold

That never fail, are tipp'd with gold.

And though Love's all the world's pretense

Money's the mythologic sense

The real substance of the shadow

Which all address and courtship's made to."

" The conscience of a people is theirpower."


'T'HIS eventful Sabbath had other points of interest
besides those affecting the house of Rodney. It
was to Angus Bruce also a turning point in life. For
it was the last Sabbath he would ever officiate as a
minister of the established Kirk of Scotland. The dis
ruption so long anticipated had taken place, and Angus
had been one of the four hundred ministers who had
left kirk and manse on the question of the supreme
authority of Christ in all spiritual matters. He had
intended to speak to the people on the subject after
the service, or rather to appoint a meeting to consider
the peculiar condition of his congregation, and collect
the suffrages and assistance of all who purposed to
form themselves into a Free Kirk. But the subject
had been put out of his mind by the unexpected circum-



stance of Archibald's restoration to his family, and his
native land.

However, when he returned to the manse he found
a large company awaiting him. The books and pic
tures which had given to the room its only element of
comfort were now packed for removal, and on the
rough pine boxes this grave society were calmly sitting
reviewing the opinions which had left them churchless
in a land of churches. Bruce's entrance was a wel
come interruption, for no one had heard the particu
lars of the great convention, and all were solemnly
curious about it.

" Glad to see you, Minister," said Elder Bogie.
" We are nane o'us fit for the week's wark till we hear
o' the great wark in Edinburgh. And we are proud
indeed that you spoke for us all on that day ; and now
we want to stand by your side, in whate'er you think it
right for us to do. 'Twould be a grand day, Minister ? "

"Such a day as none now living may ever see again.
Such a night before the day, I may add. For none
but little children or the most thoughtless of men and
women slept an hour in it. Indeed, the streets of Edin
burgh were crowded with earnest men, who could not
rest for the thoughts within them. And the ministers
were going from group to group, stirring up the people
to stand for the rights of the Kirk of Scotland. Oh
men ! the beautiful city has seen many an anxious night
in her long history, but not even when Prince Charlie
entered it, and the gray old castle looked down on his
gallant nobles and Highland host, did it see so noble
a gathering ! It was the host of the Lord, ready every
man of them to give the last penny of his substance,
and the last drop of his blood, for the honor of God's
name and God's house. Day came, but nobody


thought of their own affairs. Shops were shuttered
and locked, men and masters alike, were waiting to see
if the ministers would have grace and strength to stand
by the Kirk, when their allegiance would make them
homeless and penniless."

" Honest men ! They didna fail her, Minister ?"
" Not one of them, Deacon Lusk. I was in the
Assembly Hall when the Marquis of Bute appeared
for the Queen. Dr. Welsh, as the moderator, made
the complaint for the Kirk told all her wrongs and
humiliations, specially the putting of the civil power
above her, in her own spiritual functions ; the con
tempt with which her petitions for redress had been
received, such, and so on. Then advising all who
were for a Free Kirk to withdraw, taking with them
the Confession of Faith, and the standards of the
Kirk of Scotland, he bowed to Lord Bute, left his
chair and turned to the door. Dr. Chalmers lifted
his hat and followed him then Campbell of Monzie
and Dr. Gordon, and Dr. Macfarlane and man after
man and row after row till on the benches that had
been so crowded, there was scarce a man left. In a
few silent and solemn minutes, four hundred minis
ters and five hundred elders had withdrawn. The
rest of the great audience rose to their feet. They
were still as death, gazing breathless on the scene.
Many were weeping. I have no doubt all were pray

On a theme so grand it was easy to talk the night
away ; and indeed it was in the first melancholy gleam
of dawn that Bruce walked to the manse gate with his
friends. For a few minutes he remained there, watch
ing the men as they went to their sheepfolds and fish
ing boats their large, plaided, bonneted forms look-


ing through the misty, fantastic shroud, as colossally
unreal as men in a vision.

Then he returned to his desolated, uncomfortable
room, and fell suddenly to his lowest physical ebb.
He could not think any more ; feel any more ; he
could not even keep his eyes open. He let his per
sonality escape, flutter away, evaporate. He was soon
in that deep sleep which visits exhausted men. The
packing-cases, the disorder, the meagerness of the
furniture, gave an atmosphere of great unrest to the
room. But in the midst of it, on the hard, black
couch, the handsome form of the sleeping minister
lay in perfect peace. Fleshly material men sink al
most as low as pure matter when they sleep, but the
eager soul of Angus Bruce still illumined its mask of
beautiful clay. His eyelids were luminous ; his mouth
smiling ; his long, white hands, though quite still,
looked as if they remembered their skill and aptitudes.
For though it cannot reflect, the body does remember
the feet of the dancer, the fingers of the musician or
writer, have a memory special to their powers.

Alas ! it is in youth, when we need it least, that
such sleep is possible. Years exhaust the capacity for
it, and the soul has fretted and worried the animal in
stincts away which brought the sweet restorative.
While Bruce was renewing life in oblivion to all its
demands, the Colonel was wasting it in restless move
ments and intense feeling. Though his son was fast
asleep in the next room, though twice he had walked
softly to the bedside and looked at him, he could not
himself reach that blessed refreshment which he so
much needed.

It was not that he was tossed about with conflicting
opinions, or any uncertainty of purpose. He had faced


the subject of Blair Rodney from the first with a
positive, unwavering decision. He knew precisely
what he ought to do, and what he would do, in regard
to what Blair had called his rights. In this respect
he was more fortunate than his wife. Mrs. Rodney
did not dislike Blair as heartily as the Colonel did,
and she felt very keenly for her daughter Bertha.
She had almost angered her husband by what he
called her partiality. For, happy as the mother
was to receive back her son, she could not avoid an
overwhelming pity for the girl whose prospects were
so altered by the unforeseen circumstance.

It was truly an overwhelming affliction to Bertha.
She had passed, that afternoon, out of the sunshine,
into a gloom every hour growing blacker. There had
been for her just one step between joy and despair.
For she did despair, even in the first few whispered
words between Blair and herself on the event. It had
made a change in him even then, sharp and sure as
that made by a freezing wind passing over tropical
flowers. Her hopes had met their death. She could
not lift her heart above this conviction.

About the middle of the night she tapped at her
mother's door, and Mrs. Rodney was almost glad to
escape the enthusiasms of her husband to share the
pitiful forebodings of her daughter. She took the
girl in her arms and encouraged her to tell all her
fear and suffering. And it was characteristic that
they spoke very low, and controlled themselves, lest
the servants should divine their pain and misinter
pret it.

" Oh mother, mother ! How can I bear it ?"

" I do not think the marriage will be put off, Bertha.
Blair loves you."


" He said unless father gave us one thousand
pounds a year we could not keep up Innergrey.
Mother, can you persuade father to keep his word ? "

" My dear ! No one has any occasion to persuade
your father to keep his word ; but in this case, your
father's word was dependent on circumstances, which
every one believed to be absolutely beyond change.
Yet change has come, and one change must bring many
others. I will do my best, but about money matters I
have little knowledge and little influence. But your
father will do right. I am sure of that."

" Blair thinks Innergrey, and one thousand pounds
yearly, barely his right. He wants both settled on us
for life."

" Blair is unreasonable."

" No, no, mother ! Think how much more he has
been hoping for. Mother, if the wedding is put off I
shall die of shame. Every one will pity me. I could
tell you twenty girls who will call to see me in my
misery and disappointment, who would drive twenty
miles out of their way rather than call to see me a
happy wife at Innergrey. I shall be the talk of all the
country side. Women will make parties to discuss
my position. They will say ' Blair Rodney was glad
to be rid of me ' that he would not marry me with
out the estate that I have been so proud and con
ceited, so evidently happy, that they are not sorry for
me. Men meeting in their fields, or in their houses,
will pity ' poor Bertha Rodney ' and call Blair the bad
names they call each other or else they will say,
'Blair Rodney was not a bird to be caught with chaff.'
Mother, mother, do you not see and feel it all ? And
the beautiful home I was to have had ! And all
my pretty dresses ! If I should put one on, some


person would be sure to say, * Poor thing ! that dress
was bought for the wedding that never came off.' "

" My darling ! I see and feel it all with you. But
I think the home is still yours. And the dresses will
yet be happily worn. I cannot believe Blair will break
off the marriage now."

" You did not see his face last night. He barely
touched my lips when he left me. His voice was hard
and cruel."

"Then, surely, you do not want to marry a man so
mercenary and so cruel."

" I do ! I do ! I cannot bear the public pity and
shame. I would rather bear the private misery.
Mother, can you not find out some way ? Have you
no comfort for me ? "

" My dear, is it not some comfort to get back your
only brother ? "

" No, it is not ! I know nothing about Archibald.
I was only a baby when he was carried off. I do not
think he is at all pleasant. He has such strange ways.
He does not know how to behave. He hardly knows
how to sit down ; and when he stands, he looks as if he
was going to order us about like a gang of slaves. He
is a pagan, too, or very near one."

" Bertha, stop ! Archibald will be, in a year or two,
the finest man in Fifeshire. He has had an Oriental
training. He is now to be properly educated for his
position. And oh ! what a loving heart he has ! I
can tell you a hundred things "

" Do not tell me one of them. If he has a loving
heart, let him give up something to his sister. I shall
tell him so in the morning."

" You cannot possibly make him understand the
position, and your father would never forgive you if


you tried to make him understand. I do believe
Archie would resign everything, but would you break
your father's heart and crush the hopes God has
regiven him ?"

" My heart is breaking ! My heart is breaking ! "

In such wretched complaining the night passed.
At the dawn, just when Angus was dismissing his
friends at the manse gate, Mrs. Rodney declared her
self no longer able to listen and endure, and Bertha
promised to try to sleep. But the sleep of both
women was fitful and broken, and strange and unbid
den thoughts came alike to them. The mother put
them angrily away ; the daughter nursed and encour
aged them.

" Why had Archibald come back only to make
trouble? They had been accustomed to think of him
as one of the Sons of God a splendid, angelic youth
among the host of heaven, doing God's will. r \ his
strange, foreign-looking man, reared in the tents of
Khiva and the colleges of Bokhara the very Rome
of Islamism with the Talmud in his heart, and the
breath of deserts and wild manhood about him, was a
contradiction hard to accept."

The sister frankly said so. And who but God knew
the agonies of opposing emotions which the mother
fought down, tenderly recalled, fought back again,
till worn out with the heart-conflict she found relief in
a passionate abandon to tears. She told her husband
they were tears of joy ; she told her heart so ; and
then she remembered Bertha, and wept again and
again, until she was seriously ill.

Come ! Let us be honest with ourselves. Is not
this the most dreadful thing about death, that some
commonplace being replaces the dear one that was


once our very life? That meals at stated hours
and trivial pleasures fill the great void we thought
never would be filled ? That the beloved has finally
taken rank with things perfectly indifferent, so that if it
should be suddenly said, " He is here ! " we should be
more embarrassed than happy. We should not know
where to place him. Alas ! alas ! for the comfortable
homes so often built upon the extinction of a great
love ! Bertha Rodney did not commit a strange or an
uncommon sin when she wished her brother among
the angels, and wept because he was alive to his own

In his own way, Blair spent an equally miserable
night. True, he could not be said to lose what he had
never possessed ; but people do not surrender without
pain a hope of riches and position so nearly a certainty
as his hope had been. And he did feel it to be some
thing of a trial to resign Bertha. He had confided in
her, gone to her for sympathy, told her all his plans,
and felt a delicious sense of property in her grace and
beauty. Something must be done, and done quickly,
about his affairs ; and he was impatient of the extra
delay caused by the Colonel's restless night. For it
was the afternoon ere he was ready to answer Blair's
second urgent request for an interview.

Blair was amazed at the happy father's appearance,
for joy is a restorative ; and Colonel Rodney really
looked as if he had run backward, and brought again
the lost years which he had spent in weeping for his
son. He stood up, alert and watchful, with a tinge of
unusual haughtiness in his manner.

" You have sent twice this morning for an interview,
Blair. What can I now do for you ?"

" Sir, the question is unrequired. You must know


that my affairs have become urgent. The ground on
which I was to enter your family has been cut away
from under my feet. A new basis must be arranged,
or we must part as soon as possible."

" What basis do you propose ? I have no doubt you
have considered the position. I must admit I have
been too excited to do so."

" A moment's reflection will, however, show you that
some steps must be taken to prevent the scandal and
gossip there will be if my marriage is broken off or
even postponed. I am willing, under the peculiar cir
cumstances, to resign my claim, and marry your daugh
ter, for a life interest in Innergrey and one thousand
pounds yearly to support the place."

"Sir, your 'claim,' as you call it, was based upon a
condition which exists no longer, and which never did
exist, except through my will. And I will not give you
one half-penny to marry my daughter. If my daughter
has set her heart upon marrying you, I will allow her
the use of Innergrey so long as I live, and I will give
her two hundred pounds yearly."

"You promised us one thousand pounds yearly.
With my own income, it would have sufficed."

"As heir of Rodney, that sum would have been your
allowance from my estate. You are no longer heir of
Rodney. What is your income ? "

" I have only my little farm in Perthshire. You ad
vised me to lease it. I did so, for one hundred and
eighty pounds a year."

" And you ask me for Innergrey and a thousand
pounds ! "

" In order that I may support your daughter prop
erly, sir."

"I can support my daughter on less money, sir.


You shall not use my daughter to force a shilling from
me. I have told you what I will do if Bertha wishes
to become your wife. I will add nothing to it."

" Then I relinquish my claim upon her hand. I think,
however, you ought to reimburse me for the expense
you have put to me, and which I can ill afford."

" Explain yourself."

" I sold two valuable horses to provide the clothing,
etc., necessary to my stay in Rodney. At home, my kilts
on the heather, and a good stout suit for market and
kirk, sufficed me. My tailor's bill in Edinburgh, my
jeweler's bill for presents to your daughter, and my
various personal expenses here, have left me a poor
man. I think, at least, you should refund these out

" Have you made out your bill against me, sir ? "

" I consider, all together, that this wretched business
has cost me nearly eight hundred pounds."

" I will give you a check for a thousand pounds " ;
and the Colonel, quite forgetting his staff, walked with
a firm and rapid step to his secretary, and wrote the
potent bit of paper.

" Mr. Blair," he said hotly, " our business is now com
pleted. There are many good reasons why you should
not prolong your stay at Rodney. I trust you will con
sider them."

" I consider your ungentlemanly behavior the best
reason of all, sir. And I tell you, frankly, I would not
marry your daughter if you gave me Rodney to do

The Colonel took not the slightest notice of the insult.
Ke was arranging some loose papers, and he went on
with the employment as if Blair were not present. Yet
he was conscious of an unusual stir in the house, and


he thought he heard Scotia's voice, and was impatient
to satisfy himself.

Scotia had indeed arrived, though it was twenty-four
hours in advance of her promise. Mrs. Rodney cried
out with delight ; she felt that Scotia's presence was
precisely the element needed in the restless, unhappy
house. If any one could tell what ought to be done,
and then see that it was done, Scotia was that helper.
She came home in Lady Yarrow's coach, having,
she said, left Edinburgh very early, and posted every
mile of the way.

She came in laughing, and talking, and watching
with an affectation of extreme care a box, which a foot
man carried. " Come and see what I have brought !"
she cried, as her fingers cut the strings of white ribbon
which bound it ; and her fair face bent this way, to kiss
her mother ; and that way, to kiss her sister. " Is it
not lovely? Is it not splendid? I would get married
only to wear it, Bertha;" and the scented coverings
being removed the lovely wedding garment was exposed
to view.

" It is your wedding dress, Bertha ! Did you ever
see such soft, exquisite satin ? Such lace ? Such a
veil? Such darling orange blooms and lilies? And
I have something else for you, dear. Wait till I open
the case. Aunt Yarrow sent you these diamonds.
The star is for your hair, and the ring to guard your

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA sister to Esau → online text (page 16 of 23)