Copyright
Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

Paul and Christina online

. (page 1 of 11)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrPaul and Christina → online text (page 1 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



x^




PAUL AND CHRISTINA



BY

AMELIA E. BARR

AUTHOR OF " JAN VEDDER*S WIFE," " A DAUGHTER OF FIFE,"

"THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON." " THE SQUIRE

OF SANDAL SIDE, ' Tf., ETC.



NEW YORK :
DODD, MEAD & COMPANY

PUBLISHERS



COPYIUSHT, 1887.
BY

DODD, MEAD & COMPANY.



PS



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.
THIS SPRING OF LOVE,



CHAPTER II.
PAUL THORJEN'S TEMPTATION, . . 17

CHAPTER III.
A WILLFUL WOMAN, 33

CHAPTER IV.
THE MINISTER SPEAKS, .... 52

CHAPTER V.
AT SORROW'S GATES, 68

CHAPTER VI.
FOLDED CLOSE THE SHADOWS ARE, . . 85

CHAPTER VII.
CHRISTINA TAKES HER OWN WAV, . . 104

CHAPTER VIII.
LOVE'S PATIENCE, . . , . . . 122

CHAPTER IX.

THE HOME LEFT DESOLATE, . . .141



2227848



IV CONTENTS.

PAGE.

CHAPTER X.
WHO SHALL HAVE THE CHILD, ... 161

CHAPTER XI.
WELL WITH THE CHILD 181

CHAPTER XII.
THE MINISTER'S WIFE SPEAKS, ... 197

CHAPTER XIII.
FROM THE FURNACE, FINE GOLD, . . . 213



PAUL AND CHRISTINA.



CHAPTER I.

THIS SPRING OF LOVE.

Lonely, dark islands, in pale sea-water, where, dimly peering;,
Passed the white-sailed ships, scornfully, silently, wheeling and

vering,
Swift out of sight again ; while the wind searches what it finds

never

O'er the sand-reaches ; bays, billows, blown beaches, homeless
forever !

Love's lips are always young ;
Love's lore is very old ;
If you have ever loved, the key you hold

To all that hath of Love been said or sung.

'"pHERE are forlorn and cheerless seas to the
JL north of the Pentland Firth, but beyond
their belts of foam, and beyond the ocean pyra
mids of the Orcades, you may catch in clear
weather, the grey headlands of the lonely Shet
land Isles.

They are inhabited by no servile or savage
race ; for they are the children of those Norse-



4 PAUL AND CHRISTINA.

men who left their name and fame in France,
Italy and Spain, and who a century later took
service at Byzantium. Moslems in Asia and
Sclavonians on the Black Sea knew the temper
of their steel : and to this day the lions of the
Acropolis at Athens are scored with the runes
which tell of their triumphs.

It was in the Orkneys and Shetlands they
took the deepest root first helping the Pict
and then the Scot, and filling all the northern
isles with the stirring stories of their deeds.
The step between pagan sea-kings and Christian
whalers and fishermen is a long one, and it
required centuries to take even yet the old
life leavens the new and the better one. Walk
through a Shetland town, and it will be readily
seen that the names above the doors, are those of
the Icelandic Sagas, while the ordinary-spoken
English has many traces of their peculiar forms.

The men preserve much of their ancient
character; they are silent, indomitable, adven
turous and deeply pious, inclined to be indolent
but ready at any moment for an enterprise full
of danger or promising great returns. The
women are remarkably handsome, tall and
stately, with cool, calm, blue eyes, and a great



THIS SPRING OF LOVE. 3

abundance of hair, yellow as the dawn. In the
old pagan days they ruled all things with a
high hand, but three centuries of austere and
mystical Calvinism has subdued to a more
womanly temper their lofty spirits. Yet who can
be absolutely delivered from their ancestors?
Not only do the physical peculiarities of the
tenth-century viking linger in the Shetlanders,
but the superstitions of Thor, marble the
natures, permeated through and through with
the sternest and most distinctive of Christian
creeds.

Such a man was Paul Thorsen. He had been
on Arctic seas when the great ice mountains
reeled around him, and he had sung hymns
amid the crashing uproar, because he " knew
right well that God was with him ! " And yet,
for Christina Bork's love he could go at mid
night to the kirk at Weesdale with a charm, and

offer a vow of alms " if all went as he desired it."

i

Coming home, he met his mate, Magnus
Yool. Magnus had on his fishing-suit of tanned
sheepskins, and he carried many a fathom of
line over his shoulders. On the dusky moor he
looked like some giant of an earlier world.

" Where hast thou been, Paul ? " he asked.



4 PAUL AND CHRISTINA.

" Well then, I have been to make a vow.

" And in the meantime the boat waits."

" I have vowed ten silver pieces to John
Sabiston's orphans."

"That is a good deal."

"As you take it."

" For what then ? "

"For the good-will of Christina Bork."

"As everyone knows, Christina's good-will
would be dear at a groat."

"What is it you mean, Magnus?"

"Well, it is neither more nor less than this:
I like not Christina. She is vain. She is self-
willed. She is unkind to her mother. And
know this, Paul the bad daughter will make
the bad wife."

" If thou had ever been in love, Magnus

" I have loved once yes ! But thou wilt take
thy own way in this matter, that is well known,
Paul."

" I have seen that Christina hath faults, but
when a girl is loved in spite of her faults, what
then?"

"Well, then one marries!" and Magnus
shrugged his big shoulders as over an inevita
ble misfortune.



THIS SPRING OF LOVE. 5

" But here are other things than marrying to
think about, Paul. It is time the lines were out,
and the boats are waiting for thee and for me."
And even as he spoke the harsh, plaintive cries
of the boatmen were heard amid the bellowing
of the waves that broke among the rocks on
the beach.

Though it was May, the night was dark, with
a wild carry overhead out of the north-west, and
a black sea tumbling wild and high about the
boats. Nothing could be distinctly seen, only
a vague trouble and turmoil, as if a battle was
going on in the dark. But these fishers were
used to the sea in all her moods and they
looked out over the tossing waters, spreading
away into endless dark without a fear.

" The Lord open the mouth of the grey fish
and hold His hand about the boat ! " said Mag
nus, reverently, as he lifted the anchor ; and
Paul turned, with a prayer on his lips, and
looked for a moment toward the home of his
beloved.

Christina was snugly tucked between feathers
and eider-down and she thought not of her
lover upon the black, bleak sea. She was a
beautiful girl, with a nature in which bitter and



6 PAUL AND CflRISTIN'A.

sweet were perversely mingled subtle, seduc
tive charms of manners were hers, and also a
native capacity for the treachery which is in the
blood and bone of wild animals accustomed to
compass their desires by craftiness and stealth.
All her virtues were in a rudimentary state ; a
supreme selfishness dominated her and when
selfishness is the subsoil of character, any evil
seed dropped into it, either by the wayside or
the fireside, is sure to grow.

She was the youngest of a large family and
the only child left to cheer her mother's old
age : for one night her father and brothers had
gone to the fishing and had frozen to death in
the open boat. The icy wind had slain those
whom the sea had spared, and when the boat
drifted in with the morning tide it was manned,
like a spectre bark, only with the dead. But
the terrible tragedy made no lasting impression
upon Christina ; and home circumstances, full
of gracious opportunities for a generous soul,
suggested nothing to her but a more resolute
protection of her own comfort and her own in
terests.

" But they are queer folk that have no faults,"
said her mother ; " and very soon Christina will



THIS SPRING Of LOVE. f

be a wife, with her own love and her own nome,
and the good will put down the bad."

So Helga Bork, with a wistful hopefulness,
looked always for what was good in her child's
character, hoping against hope with that con
stant anguish of patience which lifts a mother's
love so near to the divine mercy, which
" endureth forever." She was a woman nearly
sixty years old, with a grey head and a face
full of that pitifulness and sweetness that only
sorrow and hard experience of sorrow can give.

On the morning after Paul Thorsen had made
his vow, she was standing at the table cleaning
some fish and thinking lovingly and trustfully
of her child, when Christina entered the room,
rosy and smiling from ^her long sleep. She
broiled for herself some slices of mutton, toasted
her cake, made her tea, and then sat down
before the fire to eat and drink with a deliber
ate enjoyment.

She made such a very pretty picture that it
was not hard, in its beauty, to forget the intense
selfishness of the solitary meal ; not hard to
forget that the mother had been on the pier for
two hours helping to unload the boats, and
that, after her hard labor, she had come home



8 PALL AMD CHRISTINA.

to find the hearth cold and the breakfast un
cooked. When the neglect first began Chris
tina had made excuses : " She had a headache,
or a cold, or she had overslept herself." Then
she became tired of, or ashamed of, her excuses
and sulked in their place.

The mother had been mostly silent. If
neither love nor duty could make her daughter
care for her comfort she would not demand an
ungracious service. And very soon Christina
quite persuaded herself that her mother had
gone so many years to meet the boats that she
liked to go ; and from this point it was not
hard to arrive at another when any unusual
delay prevented the fire from being bright and
the house-place clean, she felt it as a personal
injury and annoyance.

This morning, however, all was cheery and
comfortable ; and Christina, after her first cup
of tea, was inclined to be very talkative.

" There is to be a tea-party at Peter Hay's
to-night, mother, and I should well like to go."

"But, for all that I will not consent, Chris
tina. Thou knowest that there will be drink
ing and dancing the whole night through. Our
own men are all now busy at the nets ; the men



77/75 SPRING OF LOVE. 9

thou wilt meet at Hay's are like to be smug
glers and strangers. A good girl will not want
to dance with them. No, indeed ! "

" Thou thinkest I am sixty years old. If I
.want any pleasure, it is ever, ' No, I will not
consent.' "

" Christina, there was once a chicken shut up
from danger and it complained that it was not
allowed to feed openly on the dunghill. That
is the way with thee."

" Now then I will marry Paul Thorsen. He
loves me and he will give me my own way ;
and I shall go and come as it pleases me. That
is what! will do."

" Then thou wilt marry sorrow and bring
sorrow also to a good man's heart. If thou
marry Paul Thorsen it is my hope that he will
hold thee with a firm hand."

"If he can do that he can do something
worth talking about. See, he is coming here.
When he is well dressed he is not bad looking,
and I shall make him leave the nets and lines,
and do as far better men do. Then he can
wear broadcloth and a red sash and he will
bring me silk and lace, and gold ornaments,
and fine tea and brandy. Yes, indeed ! I shall



io PAUL AND CHRISTINA.

want for nothing, and of all these things I will
also give thee a good share."

" Dost thou then think that thou can make
a smuggler of Paul Thorsen? Paul is an hon
est man, and the seed of Adam will not make
him less than an honest man."

" We shall see."

"Tell thy thought to him. Tell it to him
plain and soon. I know well what answer thou
wilt get."

" I will tell him at my own time. He will
do as I say. Good-morning to thee, Paul ! "

She rose as she spoke and stood with out
stretched hand looking at him ; her fair rosy
face in a flush of youth and beauty, and her
yellow hair floating round her like sunrise.

Never had she seemed to Paul so bewitch
ing, and never before had she been so kind. He
had a large, brave countenance, honest and
kindly, and eyes that reminded one of the sea,
and his face glowed crimson with joy, as with
a trembling sense of his coming happiness, he
drank the tea she made him.

The links and meadows were green and full
of flowers, and the skylarks building low among
them were filling the air with their rapturous



THIS SPRING OF LOVE. il

songs. The sea was blue and dimpling with
incalculable laughter in the sunshine, and the
voices of countless water-birds mingled with
the whish-h of the incoming tide. Paul and
Christina went out together and while they
walked under the blue sky, in a world full of
the salt and sparkle and breeze of the waves,
Paul told Christina, with manly sincerity and
eagerness, how dearly he loved her; and she
promised him to be his wife.

Helga Bork knew how it was when she saw
her daughter coming home with Paul. For a
moment she felt a kind of pity for the young
man. Such a true heart ! Such a true love !
She wondered that one so wise and prudent as
Paul Thorsen could not see that Christina had
no more heart than a kitten.

Perhaps he did see it, but she had grown
into his life as the sea and the stars had grown
into it. He could not bear to think of existence
without her. And perhaps he also thought that
it would be his delightful task to awaken
the slumbering soul of the girl. Very good
men often deceive themselves with this idea:
for the sleeping princess is the dream of all
pure, true lovers. So Paul rather liked Chris-



12 PAUL AND CHRISTINA.

tina's coldness and indifference to every one.
To win her affections with the morning dew
upon them that was Paul Thorsen's happy
dream.

For it is not women, but men, who love
romantically. Women like to marry prosperous
men, and wedding garments and housekeep
ing prospects divide with love their hearts.
Thus on the previous night while Paul was
hastening across the dark moor to make his
vow for her, Christina was sitting with her feel,
upon the fender, trimming a new bonnet, anc*
laying plans for the silk and lace she intended
Paul to procure for her.

The marriage was to be solemnized at the
end 'of the summer fishing and Christina was
determined to have a great wedding feast.

" Paul hath promised me a silk dress," she
said, " and his mother will give me a gold ring
and the chain his grandfather bought in Hol
land, and the necklace, too, perhaps. And we
shall have a great procession to the kirk, and a
feast, and a dance afterwards ! All this, and
more too ! " she added proudly.

" And I will give thee a good store of blankets,
and of knit clothing that my own hands have



THIS SPRING OF LOVE. 13

made. And besides, thou shalt have the silver
chain and cross that was brought hundreds of
years ago from the Southern Seas by thy fore
father Bor thou hast seen how he lies in
stone, in Scalloway Kirk. Now, then, what has
Paul said to thee of thy home?"

" Paul hath a good house and he will buy
many new things for it. He has saved 400
and more, too, and he owns the boat in which
he sails, and part of the one which Nicol Sin
clair rents. Oh, I shall make myself very com
fortableafter a little ! "

" 'After a little ! ' What dost thou mean,
then ? "

"When I get the house to myself."

" If thou would be a happy wife, I counsel
thee, meddle not in such a matter as that.
There is no man in Shetland loves his mother
better than Paul Thorsen loves Margery Thor-
sen. She was there before fhee. Think of that ! "

" That may be, but is not my affair ; and be
fore the winter she will go to her daughter at
Voe Ness. Nanna Thorsen married well. It
is with the daughter the mother should
stay. That is what I think ; and I shall soon
make Paul in the same mind. Thou wilt see ! "



14 PAUL AND CHRISTINA.

" Paul's mother will be well away from thee ! "
said Helga, indignantly. "And know this it
is not with thee that I would live. I would ask
shelter with the seals in the Varra caves first !
Yes, indeed I would ! "

" Now thou art angry for nothing. That is
ever thy way, mother. And why must thou
care for Margery Thorsen? She is no kin of
thine. It seems to me thou can think of every
one but thy own daughter."

" Well, then, thou thinkest very well for thy
self. In thy own heart thou art the first and
the last. Yes, indeed ! "

And Christina laughed and went off to the
public fountain for water. She carried the
small bucket upon her head with a lofty and
nonchalant grace. Her hands were occupied
with her fine knitting, and as the glancing
needles swiftly glided to and fro, she sang, in
a clear, shrill voice :

" Oh, my sailor comes over the sea
With a golden ring and chain for me,

And the King shall pay for it all !
He'll merrily shake his canvas free,
He'll give them a chase over the sea,
And steal away by the Shetland lee
With a golden ring and chain for me,

And the King shall pay for it all 1



THIS SPRING OF LOVE. 15

"The fisher may toil fora penny fee,
My sailor brings fortune over the sea ;

And the King must pay for it all !
His ship is steady, and strong, and tight ;
He can sing and dance, and sail and fight ;
His hand is ready to take his right ;
A lucky cargo he lands to-night,

And the King must pay for it all ! "

As she finished the verse Jane Sinclair joined
her and said, " It is not wise, then, to sing such
songs. If the minister heard, he would not
like it, Christina. That is certain."

" Very well, then, he need not to listen."

" And Paul Thorsen would be of the same
mind."

" He too, then. He need not to listen."

" Is Paul not to be thy good-man?"

" ' Good-man ! ' Few of them deserve that
name."

" Paul is a good man. Art thou not to be
his wife ? "

" One might get a worse marriage."

" I heard that he had asked thee to be his
wife.'

" I heard that, too."

" What did thou say to that question? "

" I said what I said."

" Thou can do nothing but mock, Christina."



1 6 PAUL AND CHRISTINA.

"Well then, Jane?"

" I will go into no more questions and
guesses with thee. There is too much love
in the world, else it would not be squandered
on the unworthy. That is what I think."

" Fret not thyself about Paul. It is his own
fault if he loves me. He can come, and he can
go. What hinders him ? "

" Love hinders him. Well thou knowest, in
the matter of love, the beginning is when one
likes, but the ending is when one can." Then
Jane turned away ; but Christina, seating her
self on the edge of the fountain, finished her
song to the babble and tinkle of the falling
water.



CHAPTER II.
PAUL THORSEN'S TEMPTATION.

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation.
Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.

Every man is the first man to himself,
And Eves are just as plentiful as apples,



is no one that can play the fool so
^ completely as a wise man ; and many be
sides Magnus Yool were very sorry to see the
grave and good Paul Thorsen so bewitched by
a pretty face. " But why shall I talk to him
on the matter?" asked Magnus, "for he hath
put his ears to sleep." Even Paul's mother,
after one or two attempts to reason with her
son, gave up all hope of preventing the mar
riage.

" What is to be is sure to happen," she said
with a dreary resignation ; " and when men will
not listen to reason, what need to be wasteful
of words ? "



iS PAUL AND CHRISTINA.

And, indeed, there was good cause for the
hopeless resignation of Margery's decision.
For Paul's infatuation increased steadily. He
had been a careful, prudent man ; always living
strictly within the rim of his shilling, and put
ting a large share of his earnings away. But at
Christina's word his sovereigns melted into
ornaments and silk, and into new and often un
necessary furniture. If Paul Thorsen, aged
twenty-seven, could have foreseen what follies
Paul Thorsen, aged twenty-eight, would be
guilty of, he would have asked anxiously,
" Shall I, then, be mad a year hence ? "

It was well that the courtship was a short
one, and that at the end of three months Paul
took his bride to his home. It was a comfort
able house of five rooms, built of stone and well
furnished, and from the cellar to the roof-coping
it had been made spotlessly clean for its new
mistress. She came to it at the head of a bridal
procession of two hundred women and men ;
stepping proudly, in her silk dress and gold and
silver ornaments, to the joyful strains of the
bridal song. It swelled all along the line, it
filled the old grey streets with a jubilant noise,
for it was taken up by the women standing in



PAUL THORSEN'S TEMPTATION. 1 9

their doors and looking from their \vindo\vs ;
and by the little children who ran alongside
and peeped at Christina with merry mischiev
ous faces as they piped, in thin clear voices :

" Hey the bonnie bride and the breast-knots of white !

God bless her, on every hand,

With the health of the sea and the wealth of the ssa,
With love and with gold, and with land.

Then there followed some days and weeks in
the which Paul thought himself to be the most
blessed of men. Christina was delighted with
her new position, and disposed to take to the
full all the privileges it gave her. And one of
her first acts of authority was to entirely re
arrange the house. Paul sat in his chair and
watched her. He found it delightful to see her
tripping busily about, and he was charmed to
be consulted about the position of every chair
and table. For she looked so beautiful with
her tucked-up hair and dress, and her fine arms
white and bare, and her little airs of perplexity
and interest so beautiful that he never wearied
of watching her.

But it was a very different thing to Margery
Thorsen. She sat pained and silent as the
rooms she had made so clean and pleasant were



*o PAUL AND CHJUSTIMA.

re-cleaned and re-ordered. Women may de
ceive men, but they rarely deceive women.
Margery understood Christina. She was quite
sure that all this pretty pretence was part of a
well-considered plan for her removal. But
what could she say? If she had given her
thought utterance Christina would have fled to
Paul with tears of injured innocence, and she
must have taken the position of a jealous and
unreasonable woman.

But oh, why did not Paul perceive the strait in
which she was? Paul, who had ever before been
so ready to enter into all her feelings, and sympa
thize with all her sorrows and annoyances.
Often she let her work drop, and looked into his
face with eyes full of grief and amazement. He
did not see in them the petrified tears the piti
ful questions, which none but he could answer.
Alas ! Alas ! that even the sweetest love
should too often be in its first development
purely selfish ; thinking only of its own happi
ness, forgetful of relative duties and of soberer
affections. Margery Thorsen uttered no com
plaint, but her heart grew very still ; so still that
she thought something must have died there.
For this was one of those dumb sorrows which



PAUL TH OR SEN'S TEMPTATION. 21

hunt in silent packs ; they do not bark, but oh !
how they rend the desolate and aching heart !

So, to Christina, the first weeks of her mar
ried life passed pleasantly enough. She was
well known, and she was quite happy in receiv
ing visits of congratulation and in the exhibi
tion of her pretty home. But in a little while
the interest in her wedding died out, and there
was no more to be said on that matter. Then
Isabel Hay married, and her tocher and fine
plenishing was on every one's tongue. Isabel
had been one of Christina's companions, and
she was among the first to call upon the new
bride. The visit filled her with dissatisfaction
about her own position. Isabel had a sofa
and a set of gilded china, and Christina, want
ing these things felt as if she had nothing.

Passing Nicol Sinclair's house she saw his
sister Jane standing within the open door.
Very soon they were talking of the bride, and
Christina spoke with ill-concealed jealousy of
her many belongings.

" But I envy her not, Christina," said Jane ;
"what comes wrong never stays long. The
minister will tell you the same thing. He will
that."



52 PAUL AND CHRISTINA.

"Hay has done well for his family, Jane,
and it were a good thing if more of our men
had his spirit."

"Tell that to Paul Thorsen, and thou wilt
see how he will answer thee. And if a man
does wrong, then how can he do well ? Thou
knows better."

" I will tell Paul. Oh, yes ! I will tell him
soon and fast now. As for doing wrong, there
is no wrong in the matter. Hay pays good
money for whatever he brings into harbor.
Yes, indeed he does."

" He cheats the Government and he breaks
the laws. If he was caught he would go to
prison instead of to sea. A good woman will
not ask her man to take his honor and his life
in his hands for what ? That she may wear
fine clothes, and sit upon a sofa, and drink her
tea out of a gilded tea-cup. That is what I say."


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrPaul and Christina → online text (page 1 of 11)