Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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ties. She found him good-looking enough. Thought
ful people might have said that his head was too small,
but then he was remarkably tall and sinewy ; and it
was likely that the tales they had heard of his leaping
and running, his walking and golf-playing, were
correct. He looked precisely like an athlete, who
could march up to a five-barred gate, put his hand on
the topmost rail, and vault lightly over it. This was
said to be an ordinary feat of Blair Rodney, and Bertha
felt that she would like to see him perform it.

Scotia had supposed that his talk would be of bul
locks and sheep, and agricultural games and fairs.
On the contrary, he talked only of family and kirk
matters. After the first questions and answers on
subjects relating entirely to the Rodneys, Blair
plunged enthusiastically into the controversy between
the Kirk and the State. He did not seem to care for


any other subject, but on this one he was bigoted and
passionate and intolerant of all who were not as one
sided as himself.

" How is your minister on the question ? " had been
one of his first inquiries. And when he was told that
Angus Bruce had as yet taken no decided part, his
scorn for such a position was measureless. " If ever
the Kirk needed her sons to stand by her, it was at the
present hour ! He, for one, would never desert her !
All he had was hers, etc., etc."

In the middle of such a confession of faith, Angus
Bruce entered, and the Colonel came in with him. A
lull in the theological discussion followed, but Bertha
saw that Blair Rodney was impatient to renew his
favorite argument, and with a pretty modesty, she
said :

" My cousin was explaining to us, father, the posi
tion of the State as regards the Kirk. He has made
me feel as if the Kirk was very unreasonable."

" I mean to say, sir, that the decrees of the great
courts of the kingdom are not to be set aside by a
presbytery or two. The laws must be obeyed, even
by clergymen ! "

He looked defiantly at Angus Bruce, and Angus
answered :

" This is not the age of Nebuchadnezzar, Mr.
Rodney. He might indeed send forth his couriers to
the one hundred and twenty provinces of his empire,
all bearing precisely the same ecclesiastical edict
but Her Majesty Victoria has no such power."

" She is the lawful head of the Church."

" I say nothing of the English Church. The
Scotch Kirk can have no head, nor any superior in
things spiritual but her Lord, Jesus Christ."


I am with you on that point, Mr. Bruce ; " said
the Colonel, and he spoke with a decision that could
not be gainsayed " but the Kirk of Scotland is
beyond our guiding ; and as for Victoria, I am her
ever faithful servant ! Dr. Chalmers "

" Dr. Chalmers," interrupted Blair, with some pas
sion " Dr. Chalmers would fly in the face of Provi
dence, or any other creature who did not think his
thoughts, and say ' Amen ! ' to his prelections."

" I think, Blair, that Dr. Chalmers has a great com

" And he rides on the very top of it, sir."

" So he should, so he should ! You must know,
Blair, that passive obedience is for the army. It is a
doctrine the Presbyterian Kirk could never abide."

"Well, but, sir "

" Tut, tut, Blair ! You want to keep up your
threep like a game-cock, and it will not do in private
life. Let us go into the fields, and see what the men
are doing. I have one now, called Jock Lowther, a
prince among plowmen. It will do you good to
see his rigs and furrows, they are as straight as if he
made them with a ruler. Jock got his insight from
the border farmers about crops and plowing. You
cannot beat them in managing a field."

Blair took the suggestion pleasantly. He rose up
and shook his big form as a big dog shakes himself
when disturbed. And as he went out of the room he
gave Bertha a smile, which she accepted, and then
transferred to Angus Bruce. For Angus had declined
the tramp through the fields and plantations. He
was restless and unhappy, and whenever men are in
this mood, their instinct leads them to the society of


" Scotia has gone to Kirk-Logie," she said sweetly.
" She goes a great deal to Kirk-Logie. Do you
know the Cupars ? "

" I have heard of Gilchrist Cupar." He spoke in a
tone of disapproval, for Gilchrist had an evil reputa
tion. He did not ask if Scotia went to the Cupars,
he took the fact for granted, upon the suggestion of
Bertha's question. And Bertha said no more, there
was no need ; she perceived that the minister had in
stantly given place in his heart to the thought she had
sown there.

" Was Miss Rodney aware that your cousin was
coming to-day ? "

It was not a question he had a right to ask, and so
Bertha knew why he had compelled himself to ask it.
" There was a letter from Cousin Blair," she answered.
" I understood from it he might be here to-day."

She told the exact truth, and yet in telling it, in
sinuated an absolute lie. What does a jealous woman
require, except words ? With them she can do any
thing. Then she turned the subject upon matters
specially interesting to the minister. She asked for
instruction on points in his last Sabbath sermons.
She inquired timidly as to those he would preach
next. She listened, as men love women to listen,
humbly, admiringly, with their hearts in their faces.
Angus did not feel himself to be in any danger from
such homage, and yet it comforted and pleased him.

For he was as unhappy as a man must be, who
loves where both honor and interest forbid him to
love. Nor could he plead that he had been taken
unawares, or had fallen ignorantly into that divine
depth of foolishness, which he ought to have avoided.
For as soon as Colonel Rodney saw him, the father


understood, and the man understood, that there was
danger, and with a soldier's directness, he had in
formed the young minister of his plans with regard to
his daughters and their cousin Blair. It had been
very kindly and delicately done ; and Bruce had as
delicately and positively expressed his comprehension
of the situation, and his regard for it.

If the Colonel had said in so many words, "I am
your patron; I have presented you to this charge; I
have made you understand that my daughters are
virtually engaged women; I shall honor you as my
spiritual teacher and my guest, and shall expect you
to honor and respect my family arrangements," no
clearer comprehension of the position could have been
arrived at.

And Bruce believed himself to be strong enough to
keep his promise to the last tittle that gratitude and in
violable integrity demanded. He had resolved to be
blind to beauty and deaf to its charming, and then in
a moment when he was utterly unprepared for such
a revelation, his heart spoke, and he knew that he had
been a traitor to his word, ever since the first hour
when Scotia Rodney put her hand into his.

The knowledge of his love and his faithlessness
came together. Love opened his eyes and touched
his lips, and compelled him to speak. Honor laid an
imperative finger upon them, and compelled him to be
silent. The two feelings made his soul a battle-ground.
They strove like giants for the mastery, and Angus
knew well that victory for either side could only come
through long and bitter conflict. For spiritual men
love with an intensity purely material men have no
conception of. Their love is satisfied with the body,
^he spiritual man will have nothing less than body


and soul of the beloved. Not only flesh of his flesh,
but thought of his thought, hope of his hope, faith of
his faith, and all love, thought, hope, faith striking
their roots into those immortal instincts which claim
eternity, because they are able to anticipate it.

And yet, for this very reason, Angus was afraid of
his love. The soul of Scotia often irritated him. It
soared above and beyond his approval. It was too
large, too free, too daring, even in its aspirations and
its worship. It attracted, and it repelled him. And
because he often left her presence angry at her spirit
ual presumption, he fancied he was in no danger from
her great physical beauty. Then, after all, it had been
her personal loveliness which had forced speech from
him. He knew it was her radiant countenance, her
glorious hair, her charming figure, her gracious man
ner, even that air of distinction which proclaimed her
noble birth, that had intoxicated his senses. And he
told himself the blunt truth, without excuses.

" It was no spiritual love, Angus Bruce, that made
you false to your promise. It was the lust of the eye,
and the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life ; and
you had no thought, at that moment, of the pure and
fervent soul that informed and irradiated the body."
It was thus he talked to himself during the midnight
hours ; thus that he stood and accused himself before
the bar of heaven. And if his Calvinistic faith per
mitted him no pretenses and no extenuation, it also
imparted to him the comfort which flows from the
persistence of the Divine mercy. He was undoubtedly
the child of grace, and he cried out against the accuser
in a holy triumph of assurance, "Who shall lay any
thing to the charge of God's elect?"

It was one feature of this first hard battle with him-


self, that he never permitted the image of Scotia to
come between his idea of duty and his resolves for the
future. He would not allow himself to be weakened
by it. He must do right regardless of human feelings ;
for his audit would have to be settled with a just God,
and not with a woman whose love had the witchery of
earth in it, and whose opinions were very often outside
the circle of authorized beliefs.

And all through the same midnight, Scotia was
sending him thoughts steeped in tenderness, whisper
ing his name not on her lips but with a charming
modesty deep in her heart. She was wondering over
his sudden coldness, finding excuses for it ; hoping,
fearing, questioning every look and word, asking her
self if she had been mistaken, telling herself that it
was impossible. Ah, this is the vigil of love ! to have
but one thought, to turn it a thousand ways, till the
sleep of exhaustion puts an end to the monotonous

In the morning Scotia's first thought was Angus
Bruce, and the first thought of Angus Bruce was
Scotia Rodney. Scotia longed to be alone : she
mounted her pony and went early to ride. She knew
that among the hills and by the sea-side, there were
solitudes and consolations she needed. Angus, with
the courage of his faith and his race, determined to
face his temptation, and so facing, conquer it.

But he did not meet Scotia in her home, and there
was no necessity for him to go out of his way in order
to provoke anew the struggle of the night. He might
have rested himself on the fact of his resolution, and
accepted the excuse which Fate had provided for him.
He did not do so. When he left Bertha he turned af
once into the Kirk-Logie road. It was a beautiful


road at all times, but specially so in its full spring
glory ; and although Angus Bruce was more accus
tomed to see God through his Bible and his conscience,
than through the operations of nature, he could not
remain insensible to her soothing and elevating
influence. The overshadowing trees, the plowman
whistling among the furrows, the daisy-sprinkled mead
ows, the distant woods opening ravishing perspectives
of green carpets watered by broken lights, all whispered
" peace " to his restless heart.

He turned his sensitive face hither and thither, and
lifted it skyward, and naturally as a bird sings, he
said :

" For whom are these celestial beams ?

These perfumed airs?

This verdure of the fields ?

This murmur of the hedges ?

These many-colored clouds ?

For whom do the flowers adorn themselves ?

For whom do the birds sing ?

And the spring mount from all roots,

And rise to all cymes ?

Even for thine own children, Lord ! "

And then there flashed into his mind the assertion
that God caused his sun to shine and his rain to fall,
upon the righteous and the unrighteous ; and being a
man who looked at a thought straight in the face, and
not at its side angles and mysterious foreshortenings,
he speedily lost himself in the wonder, " why God had
not made the gift of His grace equally universal ? "
For though he was a schoolman and a theologian, he
had that sincerity which works through layers of
creeds, to the core of truth beneath.

And as he stepped slowly to this mental process, he
was yet aware of the motive that had brought him so


far, and his ears were consciously listening for the
sound of a horse's hoofs. He knew the pace at which
Scotia rode, the swift, even gallop which only slack
ened at the foot of Rodney Hill. He had often stood
to watch her. He liked to see her wave her hand in
response to his lifted hat, and to feel the fresh wind
bring him the delicious scent of the woodruff, in the
swift passing.

And such expectancy even against his will inter
rupted the grave thoughts to which he was trying to
bring the whole force of his intellect. Suddenly,
though there was not a sound but a bird's song, his
heart stood still. He had just turned the angle of a
wood, and he looked sharply down the road. Scotia
had tied her horse to a gate, and was sitting upon the
ground near it. Her back was toward him, her head
bent tenderly over something, which Angus was sure
she held in her hand. His logical reasoning failed him
in a moment : he forgot his premises and his deduc
tions, and found himself wondering " if she was read
ing a letter or looking at a trinket." Insensibly he
hurried his steps, and as soon as Scotia heard them
she turned her head, and by its motion, invited his ap

She was holding on her lap a little terrier that had
been run over, and left to perish miserably by the
roadside. The creature was quite sensible of her
pity and her efforts to relieve its distress ; and its
large, brown eyes, though full of suffering, were fixed
npon her with gratitude and affection. As Angus
reached her side, it closed them forever. And Scotia
was weeping.

He laid the dead animal among the rushes by the
stream, and said, rather awkwardly, some words of


sympathy to Scotia. She was hot with indignation at
the man who had mangled his own dog, and left him
to die without love or help. " He is one of your
elders, Mr. Bruce, and you will let him carry the holy
tup, and serve in the holy place, and count it no sin
against him."

"I will most certainly reprove him severely for his
want of mercy. But you have an exceptionally tender
feeling for animals, Miss Rodney."

" Only pay them a little attention, Mr. Bruce, and
you will also feel tenderly to animals. Look at
Adam Cowrie's cattle ; with what silent good-humor
they take his blows and his ill words ! And as for
disease and death, men may learn from animals how
to endure the one, and meet the other. Do they not
retire apart, surround themselves with silence, and
pass away as quietly as if they were going to sleep ? "

What could Angus answer ? He looked at her
shining, sensitive face with troubled eyes and twitch
ing lips, and said softly :

"You have just shown me a new corner of life. I
will study it more in the future."

" Do. Take love with you, or you will not under
stand. But when I cannot reach the love of God, and
cannot find rest in the love of human creatures, I go
to the fields and the woods, and the birds and the
animals never disappoint me."

Angus was untying her horse as she spoke, and
Scotia stood by the upright bole of a young fir tree
near them. The wind was coming landward from the
sea, and she made Angus notice how the sapling
steadied itself against the buffet. For it was yet so
young a tree that a little bird lighted on it bent down
the stem. It was a crested wren just from Norway,


and they stood and listened a few moments to its
mysterious song. Then Angus assisted Scotia to her
saddle, and as he did so, he said :

"Your cousin Blair Rodney arrived this morning."

"What is he like?"

" A very handsome man I suppose. I think most
people would consider him so."

" I did not ask if he was handsome. Is he pleas
ant, kindly, intelligent ? "

" I cannot judge a man on instinct. His conver
sation was mostly on kirk matters."

" Is he for a Free Kirk ? "

" Against it very strongly,"

" I dare say he is an intolerant bigot. I hate a
bigot ! "

" In the moral world, there is no success without
enthusiasm that is bigotry. He thinks Dr. Chalmers
and Dr. Buchanan bigots. But if ideals are to be
translated into action, men must be willing to go to the
stake, and rush to the battle-field for them. For this
reason, Miss Rodney, atheism makes no converts.
An atheist is without enthusiasm, and therefore with
out contagion."

" I understand. I can compare atheists with Cove
nanters and Puritans, and see the difference. Did my
cousin convince you on any of the questions at issue ? "

" No. Truth, with me, is the product of meditation,
not of argument."

" Are you returning to Rodney House ? "

" I am going forward to Kirk-Logie."

She held the reins in her hand and stood still, look
ing down into his upturned face. Was it possible that
he had nothing more personal to say ? No. He pre
tended to take a last look at her stirrup, and then, with


rather a somber smile, raised his hat and wished her a
pleasant ride home. As he did so, the gentleness in
her face vanished, she gathered her reins more firmly,
and answering his wish with a haughty movement,
rode rapidly out of sight.

The whole human nature of Angus was in revolt ;
but it was a revolt destined to defeat. For over
against the human nature of the man stood the
spiritual nature ; and this nobler part never once con
templated its subjection to the former. He knew that
he must suffer, and that he must fight, though it was a
fight without hope. And he told himself at that hour
that there could be no hope. If Blair Rodney had but
the smallest amount of intelligence, he must see, and
feel, the superiority of Scotia. She had a thousand
excellencies that Bertha lacked. She had every charm
a woman could have. In the sight of Angus, she had
only one fault an unauthorized and daring freedom
of thought. There were times when even he a
trained minister feared the words she let fall ; when
he could not be rid of them, and they tortured him
with new-found doubts and suppositions.

He walked onward to Kirk-Logie, though every
step was heavy and reluctant ; and through the tumult
raging in his heart, he heard distinctly the gallop of
Scotia's horse on its rapid homeward way. He had
come out purposely to meet her. He had fancied
himself strong enough to undo by a calm, polite
indifference, the two froward words of the preceding
night ; and he felt that he had only succeeded in
making the girl he so passionately loved understand
and despise his motive. This was hard to bear, he
could better endure Scotia's loss than her scorn and


It was far on in the afternoon when she reached
her home. Mrs. Rodney and Bertha were in a small
parlor set aside for privacy ; a place of rest and unre
straint, where no visitor was ever admitted, " Our
cousin has come," said Bertha, with an affected little
yawn. " Mother thinks he is quite gentlemanly, do
you not, mother?"

" He is better than I expected. Your father was
annoyed at your being from home, Scotia."

" I could not sit at home waiting for Blair Rodney,
mother. It is five weeks since he threatened us with
his visit. It has been hanging like an incubus over
the house ever since."

"Were you at the Cupars' : "

"Why should I go there, Bertha ?"

" I had an idea you were friendly."

" You must have invented the idea. I rode down
to the sea-side, and along the sands for five miles,
and coming home, I found Donald Begg's dog, dying.
He had driven his wagon over it and left it to die ! "

" And, of course, you stayed with the dog ? "

" I should think you would have done the same.
It was so grateful for water."

She looked tired and depressed, and Mrs. Rodney
told her " to lie down and rest. Your father will ex
pect you to look handsome, Scotia, and you are really
sun-burnt and jaded."

" I shall be all right, dear mother, by the time I am
wanted. Where is father ? "

" With Blair. I dare say they have gone to the
Stone Pillar."

Scotia was eating a lunch beside her mother and
sister, and she listened without much interest to their
injunctions regarding her toilet. At the moment she


felt indifferent to her appearance. But as she lay with
shut eyes in her own room, a mischievous sentiment
of retaliation invaded her. Blair had been the cause
of many a small annoyance, with his delays and his
surprises. He had managed to invest his visit with
an importance which it had no right to. And she was
sure he considered himself irresistible, and expected
Bertha to quarrel with her for his favor.

If it was possible she would make him feel the om
nipotence of female beauty. She rose with a smile,
and began her toilet with premeditated care. When
it was finished, she had the light of certain victory on
her face. She was no coquette, but she had reasons
which seemed to her sufficient for the exercise of her
natural power. "Blair Rodney's self-complacency
needed discipline, and Angus Bruce ! " she set her
lips sternly when she whispered his name "Angus
Bruce, he needed a lesson, also."

As she made these reflections, she was standing be
fore her mirror. She looked at her lovely face, so
dazzling white, so delicately pink ; at her dark blue
eyes ; at her rosy lips. Then she turned slightly, to
see how her hair fell lower than her waist, in waves
of rippling, curling beauty, and how the pale blue
silk of her dress hung in long folds of exquisite color
and shimmer. All was perfect. She looked divinely
grand and beautiful. But she smiled, and the smile
undeified her. She had hardly understood her own
countenance in its light. It reflected a Scotia Rod
ney that she did not know.

Coming down the great staircase, she saw her father
and her cousin Blair passing through the hall. They
stood still and waited for her ; and in those few mo
ments Blair Rodney h^ *ime sufficient to reach the


bottom of his heart. He had fallen into depths and
depths of happily-complacent love. " This was the
woman he had come to woo the woman worthy of
his love. How fortunate she should be the elder !
And what a charming, affectionate little sister he
might have in Bertha ! Perhaps he could marry her to
his friend, Colin Carnegie " all these thoughts passed
through his mind as he waited Scotia's approach.
They went in to dinner together. Bertha took her
father's arm and laughingly protested she had the
handsomer escort.

No doubt of any kind troubled Blair. If the Colonel
was satisfied, he was more than willing. The road
to a happy fortune was therefore quite clear. He
was in high spirits. He joked, and told funny sto
ries, and sang " Cam' ye by Athole," and even offered
to recite. He was rubicund and noisy, and full to
overflowing of that spume of youth which makes the
cheeks tingle with shame, when men remember, ten
years afterward.

Late in the evening Angus Bruce came in, and
Blair wanted to renew the Free Kirk controversy.
But Scotia would not permit it. She took Blair aside,
and held with him, and her mother and sister, a con
sultation about a picnic at the Stone Pillar. She
sang to him. She easily induced him to sing
to her. She was beautifully gracious and charming
with him, but with Angus Bruce she was totally
changed. No one but Angus could see or feel the
change ; no one but Scotia knew she had made him
feel it ; but oh ! to him, how bitter was the inde
finable difference ! And as for her, the revenge
was still sweet in her mouth. A woman who is
in love, and is angry with her lover, may have a con-


science ; but it has miraculous fits of absence. That
night Scotia's conscience did not trouble her. If she
had asked it anything about the minister's misery, it
would have answered " I know nothing about it ! I
was not there ! "



" O, philosophers, go in quest of pleasure !
Find us amusements without brutality or
Folly ; and enjoyments without selfishness."

" Love works miracles."

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA sister to Esau → online text (page 3 of 23)