Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A sister to Esau online

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Oh, the two days of perfect joy that followed this
reunion ! By tacit consent all unhappy subjects were
forgotten. Scotia looked forward and not backward,
and Ann and Lady Yarrow watched them with a more
than human sympathy more than human, because
there was not in it a single selfish element. They
encouraged the young people to be the world to each
other. It was gratification enough for them to watch
the handsome couple wandering in the translucent,
green light under the trees, or in the shady garden^
when the setting sun made the air seem full of gold


The night before Angus was to leave, Lady Yar
row came to them as they sat together after sunset.
They leaned against each other. Angus was holding
his love's hand, their eyes were fixed upon the moun
tains turning iron-gray against a yellow sky. At this
hour they looked stupendous. It was a little chilly,
and at the same moment Ann came in with a soft
woolen shawl, which she wrapped around Scotia.
Scotia lifted her face gratefully and Ann kissed her.
Ann was not demonstrative ; the act was a very signifi
cant one ; it had an influence far stronger than its ap
parent reason. A three-fold cord is not easily broken.
In that moment a mysterious one, impalpable to sense,
but strong to resist all the wear and tear of life,
bound the son, and the mother, and the future wife
together. As they stood thus, Lady Yarrow put a
letter into Bruce's hand.

Before you speak to Colonel Rodney about Scotia,
give him this letter, Angus. A golden key opens all
doors and very near all hearts "; and to avoid Bruce's
questions and thanks, she began to talk eagerly about
a caterpillar of very lovely shades she had just taken
off her dress. " I must have got it in the garden.
Poor, ignorant worm ! It knows not what bliss awaits
it. What purple wings ! Knows not it will have the
air for its kingdom, and the flowers for its pantry. It
is blind to all its coming glories, and a little while
ago it was eating leaves and grass. As regards it, I
am a prophet. I can see what it has been, and what
it will be. Is there not One, who, from the heights
of heaven, looks thus upon our destiny ? "

" It is a beautiful symbol of our future life," said

" Perhaps, also, of our pre-existence." Scotia spoke


musingly, as if the words came without intention, and
indeed she was sorry for them, as soon as they were
uttered. For Lady Yarrow, always eager for dis
cussion, answered :

" We do not permit such statements, Scotia, unless
you make them clearer."

" I was only asking ( myself, does the grub remember
the egg ; the chrysalis, the grub ; the butterfly, the
chrysalis ? In the same way, may we not have lived
lives before this one ; humbler, less intelligent, less

" My dear Scotia ! " and Bruce took her hands and
looked steadily into her eyes, " complete the circle.
Does the egg remember the butterfly ? Dearest ! can
you think we possess eternity only to escape from it, by
recommencing our lives ? little children again;
to struggle through the weakness, the ignorance, the
unreasonable afflictions of childhood ; to fight over
again the battles of maturity ; to grow old again ; to
die would this be the satisfaction that is promised

" Even this view has splendid opportunities and
possibilities, Angus dear, but we must "

" Children," said Lady Yarrow positively, " have
you considered this life sufficiently ? When you are
married to Angus, Scotia, do you intend to trouble
him with all these restless questions ? "

"I hope so"; answered Angus promptly. "We
shall not again quarrel about them. Scotia will bring
them to me and only me. I shall respect her ideas,
even where I cannot change them."

" I am glad to hear this. There is such an infinite
variety in all things. No two roses on a tree just alike.
Do we wish them so ? Angus, you must not ruth-


lessly, and in a moment, expect to cut Scotia to your
own shape and size. Scotia, you must give Angus
room and love to reach to the full stature of his nature.
In years, such husbands and wives grow into a lovely
similitude a similitude retaining all individual charac

" Scotia, in the main, is a good Calvinist, mother.
We both hold the Bible in our hands and hearts. We
both believe in the fatherhood of God, and the sacrifice
of Christ. There are plenty of points on which we
can agree."

" But if God should gie you sons and daughters,"
said Ann solemnly, " fence their youth around wi'
Calvinism, wi' the dear auld Shorter Catechism."

Lady Yarrow smiled, but added, " Ann, you are
right, as you always are. The Shorter Catechism is
the Magna Charta of a really strong character. Stern
and harsh, some say ! Well, suppose it is. What is
character ? Is it not something engraved ; and the
engraving process is not done with a feather. En
grave on the minds of the young the strongest law
you can find, in the very strongest character. You
believe me, Scotia ? "

" I do, dear aunt. I know that a young sapling
must have a fence around it, or the cattle will browse
on the leaves, and many dangers will come to it."

" And the best of a" fences is the Shorter Cate
chism," said Ann dourly.

Scotia smiled and continued, "And if the tree grows
strong and high inside its fence, all is well. Also, if
it send out roots beyond, and branches beyond, and
grow fair and fine beyond, and break away the fence,
because it is strong enough to burst its bonds, and to
take a wider growth, and a higher freedom ; is it not


also a tree that God has planted and watered, and
blown upon, and shone upon ? Angus knows my heart
to its depths. If he grow up like a mountain fir tree,
strong, compact, ever pointing skyward, he will suffer
me to grow by his side, though I be like a birch tree,
spreading my branches far and wide, and rustling my
silver-lined leaves to every wind of God that touches

And Angus took her hands, and looked into her
eyes, with a promise that she felt to be wise and kind
as it was inviolable.

The next morning Bruce left Yarrow Bell for Rod
ney. He was going to see Bertha. He had no inten
tion of speaking to Colonel Rodney about his engage
ment to Scotia until after Bertha's marriage. But he
did think that young lady ought to realize that she
had failed. He could not let her begin a new life with
the idea that wickedness was a success.

He reached Rodney late, and stayed at Innergrey all
night. Early in the morning he walked over to Rod
ney House and asked to see Bertha. She was not so
anxious to see Bruce now. She was going to be Lady
Carr, and Bruce had refused to perform the ceremony.
His unexpected call gave her no uneasiness. She
only speculated, as she put on her most becoming
morning dress, " What could have brought him to
Rodney ? Perhaps he had altered his mind, and
wished now to take a part in her wedding. Perhaps
he had found out that he loved her." She made her
self sweetly pretty, and went down with a smile.

Bruce made no preliminaries. As soon as she en
tered the room he said, " Miss Bertha, Sarah Latham
came to me and revealed the disgraceful plot you car
ried out together. I have written out all she said ; I


must insist upon your signing your name to it. I
think it is the only way to protect your sister Scotia
from inuendos derogatory to her as Miss Rodney, and
also as my intended wife."

Bertha grew scarlet as he spoke. Her very hands
were red. She trembled with fear and impotent pas
sion as she took the paper Bruce offered. As she
read it, her face constantly changed. Terror of her
father, terror of Sir Thomas, terror of all that would
follow, blanched the crimson white again. As she
remembered the nicety of Sir Thomas Carr's honor,
his hatred of anything mean, the contempt he would
feel for her ; and then put in sympathy with it her
father's passionate sense of right and wrong, his love
for Scotia, his abhorrence of lying, she foresaw a
sequence of events which would again break off her
marriage, and consign her to general contempt.

What must she do ? She could not deny the cir
cumstance. She looked into Bruce's stern face, and
saw no hope of pity in it. He intended to make her
sign that paper, and then show it to her father and
mother, and perhaps to Sir Thomas Carr. She had
no time to make exceptions, or consider possibilities
in her favor ; her case was a desperate one. She
accepted the last resort of a desperate, unreasonable,
cowardly woman. She went into a fit of the most
alarming hysterics. She filled the house with her
shrieks ; she held her hands over her heart, and
gasped for breath, as if she were dying. She fell upon
the floor, in a perfectly decorous abandon.

Colonel Rodney, Archibald, Mrs. Rodney, all the
servants from the kitchen and the garden, from the
dairy and the stables, came running to answer her
piercing cries for help. Archibald cried to the ostler


for a fleet horse, and went flying through the park for
a doctor. Mrs. Rodney had the apparently dying
girl carried to her room, and it took several servants
to carry her. The whole house was in a state of dis
organization hot water, cold water, brandy, laud
anum a dozen voices calling for a dozen restoratives.

Bruce was genuinely terrified. So was the Colonel,
and every man on the place. The women were more
calm. They had all, even the youngest dairy-maid, an
instinctive knowledge of Bertha's complaint. They
felt that under certain circumstances they might be
affected much in the same way. Archie, riding for
life or death, the Colonel wringing his hands in
speechless misery, Bruce feeling at once like a judge
pronouncing sentence and a sheriff carrying it out,
were all suffering far more than the sobbing, shrieking
girl upstairs. Bruce, indeed, blamed himself some
what. He had not expected that the conviction of
her sin would be so strong and so terrible to Bertha.
He had meant to be merciful to her, but he could
not now take any comfort from his intention.

As soon as the doctor had pronounced the case
" not dangerous " he went back to Innergrey. He
was afraid the Colonel would question him, and he
was not now inclined to tell the Colonel. Bertha
would doubtless be equal to supplying the cause for
the effect. Until he could see her again, the affair
must be at rest.

Bertha was cleverly non-committal. She did not
know what was the matter. Mr. Bruce had just said
" good-morning," and before she could speak, the
pain and the choking came on. The doctor, with
the wise intelligence of doctors in domestic matters,
gravely suggested heart-disease, and behind this


fortification Bertha sheltered herself, pale, exhausted,
with her hair and clothing more out of order than any
member of the House of Rodney had ever before
seen them. Finally, a sedative put her to sleep ; and
every one went on their tip-toes, and talked in whis
pers of poor Miss Bertha's heart-disease

She was roused from this affectation of invalidism
by a circumstance startling enough. In mid-after
noon Sir Thomas Carr was seen riding at a hard gallop
through the park. He had been summoned to Lon
don. His despatches were ready. There was no
time for delay. The marriage must take place at
once, or be put off indefinitely. The alternative was
made as delicately as possible to Bertha. It acted
like a miracle. She was well in sixty seconds. All
her wits came back to her, sharp and clear.

" Very well, dear mother. Tell Sir Thomas I will
be ready at six o'clock. That will give us time to
send for the minister and our nearest neighbors. My
principal trunks can be sent after me to Southampton.
If Sir Thomas has to leave at eight o'clock, I shall not
detain him a moment. I hope I realize his position,
and my duty, better. And oh, dear, dear mother, it
is perhaps better that such a long looking-forward to
parting is avoided ! I cannot help feeling so much
about it ? The feeling was really what made me ill
this morning."

The marriage, so unexpectedly forced forward, was
in some respects a great success. Bruce, coming back
in the afternoon to inquire after Bertha's condition,
was persuaded by the Colonel to perform the cere
mony : and the pallid bride gave him one sad, long
look which his kind heart could not resist. He
answered it with an assuring glance. Bertha was


comforted by it. She was so modest, and so sorrow
ful, and the quick parting with her kindred and home
seemed to distress her so much, the minister could not
but give her what comfort was in his power. In a few
whispered sentences he warned her against future de
ceptions, and gave her Scotia's and his own forgive

At six o'clock precisely the bride appeared in her
splendid wedding garments, shining with jewels, and
looking even more lovely for her pallor and sadness.
The parlors were crowded with guests hurriedly
summoned, many of whom had but just heard Bertha
Rodney was dying, when they received the Colonel's
invitation to see her married. There was a general
air of pleasure and satisfaction. Events that come as
surprises are nearly always great successes. Bertha
was so beautiful ; Sir Thomas so proud and happy ;
the impromptu feast, the genial minister, the splendid
house all lighted and flung open, the murmur of
conversation, of low laughter, the busy importance of
the servants, all aided the feeling of an accomplished

At eight o'clock a carriage, drawn by fleet horses,
appeared at the door, and Bertha, in a pretty travel
ing costume, entered it. She was both weeping and
smiling. Her father, and mother, and brother stood
with loving, anxious faces watching her as she drove
away. The full moon shone with unclouded radiance.
She felt her husband's arms around her. She was
Lady Bertha Carr. She was going to London, to
India. She had her own plans about India. She felt
she had diplomatic talents ; she had a proper field for
them in that vice-regal court. Life had fair possi
bilities yet in keeping for Lady Bertha Carr, and


she kissed her husband, and turned not unhappily to
meet them.

Rodney House was very dull after Bertha had gone
away. She had always known how to keep it inter
ested about her affairs. There was no one to take
her place in this respect. Archie was a great deal
with Julia Cupar. The Colonel was often lonely.
Scotia was hardly well enough to come home. Bruce
had accepted the call to Free Saint Mungo's, and
was in Edinburgh. Very soon Lady Yarrow would
be in Edinburgh. Thinking of these things one
day, the Colonel suddenly resolved to close Rodney
House and take Mrs. Rodney and Archie to Edin
burgh for the winter. Archie could then have the
benefit of the University lectures. And Archie, know
ing the Cupars were certain to be there, very urgently
pressed the change ; so that it was finally decided to
allow Scotia to remain with her aunt until they all
met at the capital.

This meeting occurred in the first days of October.
Among the Cheviots the winter comes early, and
Lady Yarrow was back at the Edinburgh mansion
when Colonel Rodney and his family took possession
of the house they had rented. It was not far from
Yarrow House, and there was now no alternative but
that the long-parted sisters must meet. Both dreaded
the meeting ; but events were kinder to them than
they could have planned. Of course both households
were to worship in Free Saint Mungo's, and Lady
Yarrow, having bought a large pew there, offered its
use to Colonel Rodney's family. The offer was ac
cepted, and as they reached Edinburgh on a Saturday
night, and were rested sufficiently for church on the
following afternoon, the first meeting of the reunited
family took place there.


It was the Sacrament Sabbath, and an intense so
lemnity filled the building. The Colonel, Mrs. Rod
ney, and Archie arrived at church first, and entered
Lady Yarrow's pew. In a few moments Lady Yar
row and Scotia stood at its door. The Colonel gave
his daughter one look of love, as he and Archie per
mitted the two ladies to pass them. Lady Yarrow
went first, and she was thus compelled to seat herself
next her sister. A shadow fleeting as a thought passed
over her face ; she bowed her head, and really prayed
for grace and strength.

When she lifted her head, Dorinda was looking
down with a troubled gaze. Lady Yarrow lifted her
hand and clasped it in her own. Then all the congre
gation rose for prayer, and further advances were im
possible. But when the white-haired elder brought
the holy cup, and the Colonel drank and passed it to
his son, and Archie to his sister, and Scotia to her
aunt, then Lady Yarrow had her gracious opportunity.
She drank, she touched her sister, their eyes met. In
that glance, a free, noble, absolute pardon was given
and accepted. Jemima gave her sister Dorinda the
holy cup, and in its blessed, crimson tide they buried
forever the bitterness of a generation.

The next day was full of congratulations, of the
kindnesses of late love, of the gayness of restored
kindred. Julia Cupar came in with Archie, and
equalized and tempered all effusive feeling. She was
so pleasantly commonplace, so full of graceful chit
chat concerning everybody and nobody. It was un
derstood that she was to be a very important member
of the family, and Lady Yarrow took kindly to her.
She liked her clever speech, her air of fashionable life,
her thorough conservatism.


" She is a very pretty daughter of Mr. Worldly-
wise-man," she said, " and I congratulate you,
Dorinda, on the future mistress of Rodney."

Amid so much marrying and prospective marrying,
Bruce and Scotia kept their engagement quiet till near
the end of the year. Bruce's kirk was finished, but
there was some delay in deciding about a manse.
Part of the congregation wished to build a new one,
but Lady Yarrow's influence and contribution decided
the question in favor of buying a fine old house near
the new kirk. And when this affair was settled, there
seemed to be no reason for longer delay.

Bruce presented his letter and reminded the Colonel
of his previous promises. There was no need to urge
them. Lady Yarrow's settlement upon her adopted
son made him a very proper mate for Scotia ; and the
Colonel told himself that Scotia had given him, after
all, a son-in-law very much to his liking. Their friend
ship had been full of happy hours ; they were hoping
to add many more to them. With tender words, and
some tears, the Colonel gave his beloved Scotia to his
friend and minister ; and Angus and Scotia had now
only to furnish their home and set their wedding-day.

Ann took charge of the furnishing. She had saved
a great deal of money. It was her pleasure to make
her son's manse a wonder among manses ; to adorn
every room with rich and suitable appointments ; to
fill the linen chests with the finest damask, and the
buffets with the purest silver plate.

" Naething is too good for a good minister," she
said, in excuse for her loving extravagance if it
needed excuse " and the rich men o' Saint Mungo's
dinna want their minister to be warse sarved than
themsel's. It tak's the Son o' God to preach and


pray for a bite and a promise, and never a place to
lay his head."

Toward the end of the year Bertha's first letter ar
rived, and Scotia took it over to Yarrow House. It
was full of such small triumphs as delighted Bertha.
She had already taken the lead in the trivialities and
formalities of her position. She was infatuated with
her husband, and everything that belonged to her
husband. " There were a great many English ladies,"
she said, " but she was much the prettiest of them all,
and her dresses had made most of them sick with

Lady Yarrow laughed. " She will get every one
into hot water. Take care of that letter, Scotia.
You will see that each one will be a little cooler.
She will hate India in half-a-year, and will cry out so
pitiably that we shall all exert ourselves to get Sir
Thomas a position in England. By bell and book !
she will be back in Fife in less than two years."

As she spoke, Bruce and his mother entered. The
weather was wet and drippy ; it was the hour before
candle-light the hour conducive to confidence.
They sat down by the fire, and for the first time Scotia
told her friends all about Bertha's appeal to her con
cerning Blair Rodney, and that young man's offer to
both sisters.

Ann listened with a face expressing a pious wonder
at such doings ; but Lady Yarrow understood the
Colonel's anxiety and disappointment, and the whole
domestic drama. She looked at Scotia, who sat
smiling by Bruce's side, and said :

" You imprudent lassie! You might have lost a
fine estate for a mouthful of soft words, if Archie had
not come to his own."



" I might," answered Scotia ; " and, indeed, my
father called me that day, ' A sister to Esau'."

The relationship seemed to strike both^Lady Yarrow
and Ann ; they pursued it fancifully, from point to

" Weel, weel ! " said Ann, " Bertha, has had to go
to Padan-aram that is, India ; and she didna get
Rodney when a' was said and done."

" Yet I dare say," continued Lady Yarrow, " that
Bertha will get rich there ; and come home with two
bands, and I am just as sure Scotia will do as Esau
did, go with love and blessing to meet her."

Here a servant brought wax lights, and drew the
blinds, and while he moved about, Lady Yarrow sat
thinking, with her eyes fixed upon the lovely girl oppo
site her. There was a smile on the old lady's lips ;
she played with her rings and her laces, and seemed
to be recalling something. Bruce may have guessed
what it was, for when they were alone again he lifted
a candle and went to the reading desk at the other
end of the room. A large Bible lay upon it. The
three women curiously followed him. Lady Yarrow
leaned on her handsome friend and handmaid. Scotia
went softly to Bruce's side and leaned her head upon
his shoulder, as his long white hands reverently turned
the leaves of the Holy Book.

In a moment or two he looked into her face smiling,
and said : " If you are a sister to Esau, Scotia, you
have a very fine inheritance. Here it is promised :
Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth,
and of the dew of heaven from above."

And Lady Yarrow was' silent, but she stooped and
kissed Scotia ; and Bruce kissed her ; and Ann kissed


her ; and when they had sat down again, Ann said
softly :

" My dear Scotia, there is ane mair thing. My Lady
Bertha is gane to Padan-aram ; but you are to dwell
among your ain folk, and in your ain countree ! "



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Day of Fate, A

Driven Back to Eden

Earth Trembled, The

Face Illumined, A

From Jest to Earnest

He Fell in Love with His Wife

His Sombre Rivals

Home Acre, The

Knight of the XIX. Century, A

Miss Lou

Nature's Serial Story

Near to Nature's Heart

Opening of a Chestnut Burr

Original Belle, An

Success with Small Fruits

Taken Alive

What Can She Do?

Without a Home

Young Girl's Wooing, A




Between Two Loves

Border Shepherdess, A

Bow of Orange Ribbon, The


Cluny MacPherson

Daughter of Fife, A

Feet of Clay

Friend Olivia

Hallam Succession, The

Household of McNeil

Jan Vedder's Wife

King's Highway, The

Knight of the Nets, A

Last of the Macallisters, The

Lone House, The

Lost Silver of Briffault, The

Love for an Hour is Love Forever

Master of His Fate

Paul and Christina

Remember the Alamo

Rose of a Hundred Leaves, A

Scottish Sketches

She Loved a Sailor

Singer from the Sea, A

Sister to Esau, A

Squire of Sandal-Side, The



Benjamin Franklin

Captain Kidd and the Early American

Columbus and the Discovery of America

Daniel Boone and the Early Settlement

of Kentucky
David Crockett and the Early Texas


De Soto, the Discoverer of the Missis

George Washington and the Revolution
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Kit Carson, the Pioneer of the Far West

La Salle : His Discoveries and Ad

Miles Standish, Captain of the Pilgrims

Paul Jones, Naval Hero of the Revolu

Peter Stuyvesant and the Early Settle

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA sister to Esau → online text (page 22 of 23)