Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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estate got known, the men became impatient to be gone.

In the early part of March two large ships lay off the coast waiting
for them, and they went in a body to Crawford Keep to bid the chief
"farewell." It was a hard hour, after all, to Crawford. The great
purpose that he had kept before his eyes for years was not at that
moment sufficient. He had dressed himself in his full chieftain's suit
to meet them. The eagle's feather in his Glengary gave to his great
stature the last grace. The tartan and philibeg, the garters at his
knee, the silver buckles at his shoulder, belt, and shoon, the
jewelled mull and dirk, had all to these poor fellows in this last
hour a proud and sad significance. As he stood on the steps to welcome
them, the wind colored his handsome face and blew out the long black
hair which fell curling on his shoulders.

Whatever they intended to say to him, when they thus saw him with
young Colin by his side they were unable to say. They could only lift
their bonnets in silence. The instincts and traditions of a thousand
years were over them; he was at this moment the father and the chief
of their deepest affection. One by one they advanced to him. He
pressed the hands of all. Some of the older men - companions of his
youth in play and sport - he kissed with a solemn tenderness. They went
away silently as they came, but every heart was full and every eye was
dim. There was a great feast for them in the clachan that night, but
it was a sombre meeting, and the dominie's cheerful words of advice
and comfort formed its gayest feature.

The next day was calm and clear. The women and children were safely on
board soon after noon, and about four o'clock the long boats left the
shore full of men. Tallisker was in the front one. As they pulled away
he pointed silently to a steep crag on the shingly beach. The chief
stood upon it. He waved his bonnet, and then the long-pent feelings of
the clan found vent in one long, pitiful Gallic lament, _O hon a rie!
O hon a rie!_ For a few moments the boats lay at rest, no man was able
to lift an oar. Suddenly Tallisker's clear, powerful voice touched the
right chord. To the grand, plaintive melody of St. Mary's he began the
125th Psalm,

"They in the Lord that firmly trust
shall be like Sion hill,
Which at no time can be removed,
but standeth ever still.

As round about Jerusalem
the mountains stand alway;
The Lord his folk doth compass so
from henceforth and for aye."

And thus singing together they passed from their old life into a new

Colin had been indignant and sorrowful over the whole affair. He and
Helen were still young enough to regret the breaking of a tie which
bound them to a life whose romance cast something like a glamour over
the prosaic one of more modern times. Both would, in the
unreasonableness of youthful sympathy, have willingly shared land and
gold with their poor kinsmen; but in this respect Tallisker was with
the laird.

"It was better," he said, "that the old feudal tie should be severed
even by a thousand leagues of ocean. They were men and not bairns, and
they could feel their ain feet;" and then he smiled as he remembered
how naturally they had taken to self-dependence. For one night, in a
conversation with the oldest men, he said, "Crawfords, ye'll hae to
consider, as soon as you are gathered together in your new hame, the
matter o' a dominie. Your little flock in the wilderness will need a
shepherd, and the proper authorities maun be notified."

Then an old gray-headed man had answered firmly, "Dominie, we will
elect our ain minister. We hae been heart and soul, every man o' us,
with the Relief Kirk; but it is ill living in Rome and striving wi'
the pope, and sae for the chief's sake and your sake we hae withheld
our testimony. But we ken weel that even in Scotland the Kirk willna
hirple along much farther wi' the State on her back, and in the
wilderness, please God, we'll plant only a Free Kirk."

The dominie heard the resolve in silence, but to himself he said
softly, "_They'll do! They'll do!_ They'll be a bit upsetting at
first, maybe, but they are queer folk that have nae failings."

A long parting is a great strain; it was a great relief when the ships
had sailed quite out of sight. The laird with a light heart now turned
to his new plans. No reproachful eyes and unhappy faces were there to
damp his ardor. Everything promised well. The coal seam proved to be
far richer than had been anticipated, and those expert in such matters
said there were undoubted indications of the near presence of iron
ore. Great furnaces began to loom up in Crawford's mental vision, and
to cast splendid lustres across his future fortunes.

In a month after the departure of the clan, the little clachan of
Traquare had greatly changed. Long rows of brick cottages, ugly and
monotonous beyond description, had taken the place of the more
picturesque sheilings. Men who seemed to measure everything in life
with a two-foot rule were making roads and building jetties for
coal-smacks to lie at. There was constant influx of strange men and
women - men of stunted growth and white faces, and who had an insolent,
swaggering air, intolerably vulgar when contrasted with the Doric
simplicity and quiet gigantic manhood of the mountain shepherds.

The new workers were, however, mainly Lowland Scotchmen from the
mining districts of Ayrshire. The dominie had set himself positively
against the introduction of a popish element and an alien people; and
in this position he had been warmly upheld by Farquharson and the
neighboring proprietors. As it was, there was an antagonism likely to
give him full employment. The Gael of the mountains regarded these
Lowland "working bodies" with something of that disdain which a rich
and cultivated man feels for kin, not only poor, but of contemptible
nature and associations. The Gael was poor truly, but he held himself
as of gentle birth. He had lived by his sword, or by the care of
cattle, hunting, and fishing. Spades, hammers, and looms belonged to
people of another kind.

Besides this great social gulf, there were political and religious
ones still wider. That these differences were traditional, rather than
real, made no distinction. Man have always fought as passionately for
an idea as for a fact. But Dominie Tallisker was a man made for great
requirements and great trusts. He took in the position with the eye of
a general. He watched the two classes passing down the same streets as
far apart as if separated by a continent, and he said, with a very
positive look on his face, "These men are brethren and they ought to
dwell in unity; and, God helping Dugald Tallisker, they will do it,
yes, indeed, they will."


In a year after the departure of the clan, the clachans of Crawford
and Traquare had lost almost all traces of their old pastoral
character. The coal pit had been opened, and great iron furnaces built
almost at its mouth. Things had gone well with Crawford; the seam had
proved to be unusually rich; and, though the iron had been found, not
on his land, but on the extreme edge of Blair, he was quite satisfied.
Farquharson had struck hands with him over it, and the Blair iron ore
went to the Crawford furnaces to be smelted into pig iron.

Crawford had grown younger in the ardent life he had been leading. No
one would have taken him to be fifty-five years old. He hardly thought
of the past; he only told himself that he had never been as strong and
clear-headed and full of endurance, and that it was probable he had
yet nearly half a century before him. What could he not accomplish in
that time?

But in every earthly success there is a Mordecai sitting in its gate,
and Colin was the uncomfortable feature in the laird's splendid hopes.
He had lounged heartlessly to and from the works; the steady,
mechanical routine of the new life oppressed him, and he had a
thorough dislike for the new order of men with whom he had to come in
contact. The young Crawfords had followed him about the hills with an
almost canine affection and admiration. To them he was always "the
young laird." These sturdy Ayrshire and Galloway men had an old
covenanting rebelliousness about them. They disputed even with Dominie
Tallisker on church government; they sang Robert Burns' most
democratic songs in Crawford's very presence.

Then Colin contrasted them physically with the great fellows he had
been accustomed to see striding over the hills, and he despised the
forms stunted by working in low seams and unhealthy vapors and the
faces white for lack of sunshine and grimy with the all-pervading coal
dust. The giants who toiled in leather masks and leather suits before
the furnaces suited his taste better. When he watched them moving
about amid the din and flames and white-hot metal, he thought of
Vulcan and Mount Ætna, and thus threw over them the enchantments of
the old Roman age. But in their real life the men disappointed him.
They were vulgar and quarrelsome; the poorest Highland gillie had a
vein of poetry in his nature, but these iron-workers were painfully
matter of fact; they could not even understand a courtesy unless it
took the shape of a glass of whiskey.

It was evident to the laird that the new life was very distasteful to
his heir; it was evident to the dominie that it was developing the
worst sides of Colin's character. Something of this he pointed out to
Helen one morning. Helen and he had lately become great friends,
indeed, they were co-workers together in all the new labors which the
dominie's conscience had set him. The laird had been too busy and
anxious about other matters to interfere as yet with this alliance,
but he promised himself he would do so very soon. Helen Crawford was
not going to nurse sick babies and sew for all the old women in the
clachan much longer. And the night-school! This was particularly
offensive to him. Some of the new men had gone there, and Crawford was
sure he was in some way defrauded by it. He thought it impossible to
work in the day and study an hour at night. In some way he suffered by

"If they werna in the schoolroom they would be in the Change House,"
Tallisker had argued.

But the laird thought in his heart that the whiskey would be more to
his advantage than the books. Yet he did not like to say so; there was
something in the dominie's face which restrained him. He had opened
the subject in that blustering way which always hides the white
feather somewhere beneath it, and Tallisker had answered with a solemn

"Crawford, it seems to be your wark to mak money; it is mine to save
souls. Our roads are sae far apart we arena likely to run against each
other, if we dinna try to."

"But I don't like the way you are doing your wark; that is all,

"Mammon never did like God's ways. There is a vera old disagreement
between them. A man has a right to consider his ain welfare, Crawford,
but it shouldna be mair than the twa tables o' the law to him."

Now Tallisker was one of those ministers who bear their great
commission in their faces. There was something almost imperial about
the man when he took his stand by the humblest altar of his duty.
Crawford had intended at this very time to speak positively on the
subject of his own workers to Tallisker. But when he looked at the
dark face, set and solemn and full of an irresistible authority, he
was compelled to keep silence. A dim fear that Tallisker would say
something to him which would make him uncomfortable crept into his
heart. It was better that both the dominie and conscience should be
quiet at present.

Still he could not refrain from saying,

"You hae set yoursel' a task you'll ne'er win over, dominie. You could
as easy mak Ben-Cruchan cross the valley and sit down by Ben-Appin as
mak Gael and Lowlander call each other brothers."

"We are told, Crawford, that mountains may be moved by faith; why not,
then, by love? I am a servant o' God. I dinna think it any presumption
to expect impossibilities."

Still it must be acknowledged that Tallisker looked on the situation
as a difficult one. The new workers to a man disapproved of the
Established Church of Scotland. Perhaps of all classes of laborers
Scotch colliers are the most theoretically democratic and the most
practically indifferent in matters of religion. Every one of them had
relief and secession arguments ready for use, and they used them
chiefly as an excuse for not attending Tallisker's ministry. When
conscience is used as an excuse, or as a weapon for wounding, it is
amazing how tender it becomes. It pleased these Lowland workers to
assert a religious freedom beyond that of the dominie and the shepherd
Gael around them. And if men wish to quarrel, and can give their
quarrel a religious basis, they secure a tolerance and a respect which
their own characters would not give them. Tallisker might pooh-pooh
sectional or political differences, but he was himself far too
scrupulous to regard with indifference the smallest theological

One day as he was walking up the clachan pondering these things, he
noticed before him a Highland shepherd driving a flock to the hills.
There was a party of colliers sitting around the Change House; they
were the night-gang, and having had their sleep and their breakfast,
were now smoking and drinking away the few hours left of their rest.
Anything offering the chance of amusement was acceptable, and Jim
Armstrong, a saucy, bullying fellow from the Lonsdale mines, who had
great confidence in his Cumberland wrestling tricks, thought he saw in
the placid indifference of the shepherd a good opportunity for

"Sawnie, ye needna pass the Change House because we are here. We'll no
hurt you, man."

The shepherd was as one who heard not.

Then followed an epithet that no Highlander can hear unmoved, and the
man paused and put his hand under his plaid. Tallisker saw the
movement and quickened his steps. The word was repeated, with the
scornful laugh of the group to enforce it. The shepherd called his
dog -

"Keeper, you tak the sheep to the Cruchan corrie, and dinna let are o'
them stray."

The dumb creature looked in his face assentingly, and with a sharp
bark took the flock charge. Then the shepherd walked up to the group,
and Jim Armstrong rose to meet him.

"Nae dirks," said an old man quietly; "tak your hands like men."

Before the speech was over they were clinched in a grasp which meant
gigantic strength on one side, and a good deal of practical bruising
science on the other. But before there was an opportunity of testing
the quality of either the dominie was between the men. He threw them
apart like children, and held each of them at arm's length, almost as
a father might separate two fighting schoolboys. The group watching
could not refrain a shout of enthusiasm, and old Tony Musgrave jumped
to his feet and threw his pipe and his cap in the air.

"Dugald," said the dominie to the shepherd, "go your ways to your
sheep. I'll hae nae fighting in my parish.

"Jim Armstrong, you thrawart bully you, dinna think you are the only
man that kens Cumberland cantrips. I could fling you mysel' before you
could tell your own name;" and as if to prove his words, he raised an
immense stone, that few men could have lifted, and with apparent ease
flung it over his right shoulder. A shout of astonishment greeted the
exploit, and Tony Musgrave - whose keen, satirical ill-will had
hitherto been Tallisker's greatest annoyance - came frankly forward and
said, "Dominie, you are a guid fellow! Will you tak some beer wi' me?"

Tallisker did not hesitate a moment.

"Thank you, Tony. If it be a drink o' good-will, I'll tak it gladly."

But he was not inclined to prolong the scene; the interference had
been forced upon him. It had been the only way to stop a quarrel which
there would have been no healing if blood had once been shed. Yet he
was keenly alive to the dignity of his office, and resumed it in the
next moment. Indeed, the drinking of the glass of good-will together
was rather a ceremonial than a convivial affair. Perhaps that also was
the best. The men were silent and respectful, and for the first time
lifted their caps with a hearty courtesy to Tallisker when he left

"Weel! Wonders never cease!" said Jim Armstrong scornfully. "To see
Tony Musgrave hobnobbing wi' a black-coat! The deil must 'a' had a
spasm o' laughing."

"Let the deil laugh," said Tony, with a snap of his grimy fingers.
Then, after a moment's pause, he added, "Lads, I heard this morning
that the dominie's wheat was spoiling, because he couldna get help to
cut it. I laughed when I heard it; I didna ken the man then. I'm
going to-morrow to cut the dominie's wheat; which o' you will go wi'

"I!" and "I!" and "I!" was the hearty response; and so next day
Traquare saw a strange sight - a dozen colliers in a field of wheat,
making a real holiday of cutting the grain and binding the sheaves, so
that before the next Sabbath it had all been brought safely home.


But during these very days, when the dominie and his parishioners were
drawing a step closer to each other, the laird and his son were
drifting farther apart. Crawford felt keenly that Colin took no
interest in the great enterprises which filled his own life. The fact
was, Colin inherited his mother's, and not his father's temperament.
The late Lady Crawford had been the daughter of a Zetland Udaller, a
pure Scandinavian, a descendant of the old Vikings, and she inherited
from them a poetic imagination and a nature dreamy and inert, though
capable of rousing itself into fits of courage that could dare the
impossible. Colin would have led a forlorn hope or stormed a battery;
but the bare ugliness and monotony of his life at the works fretted
and worried him.

Tallisker had repeatedly urged a year's foreign travel. But the laird
had been much averse to the plan. France, in his opinion, was a hotbed
of infidelity; Italy, of popery; Germany, of socialistic and
revolutionary doctrines. There was safety only in Scotland. Pondering
these things, he resolved that marriage was the proper means to
"settle" the lad. So he entered into communication with an old friend
respecting his daughter and his daughter's portion; and one night he
laid the result before Colin.

Colin was indignant. He wanted to marry no woman, and least of all
women, Isabel McLeod.

"She'll hae £50,000!" said the laird sententiously.

"I would not sell myself for £50,000."

"You'd be a vera dear bargain at half the price to any woman, Colin.
And you never saw Isabel. She was here when you were in Glasgow. She
has the bonniest black e'en in Scotland, and hair like a raven's

"When I marry, sir, I shall marry a woman like my mother: a woman with
eyes as blue as heaven, and a face like a rose. I'll go, as you did,
to Shetland for her."

"There isna a house there fit for you to take a wife from, Colin, save
and except the Earl's ain; and his daughter, the Lady Selina, is near
thirty years old."

"There are my second cousins, Helga and Saxa Vedder."

Then the laird was sure in his own heart that Tallisker's advice was
best. France and Italy were less to be feared than pretty, portionless
cousins. Colin had better travel a year, and he proposed it. It hurt
him to see how eagerly his heir accepted the offer. However, if the
thing was to be done, it was best done quickly. Letters of credit
suitable to the young laird's fortune were prepared, and in less than
a month he was ready to begin his travels. It had been agreed that he
should remain away one year, and if it seemed desirable, that his stay
might even be lengthened to two. But no one dreamed that advantage
would be taken of this permission.

"He'll be hamesick ere a twelvemonth, laird," said the dominie; and
the laird answered fretfully, "A twelvemonth is a big slice o' life to
fling awa in far countries."

The night before Colin left he was walking with his sister on the
moor. A sublime tranquillity was in the still September air. The
evening crimson hung over the hills like a royal mantle. The old
church stood framed in the deepest blue. At that distance the long
waves broke without a sound, and the few sails on the horizon looked
like white flowers at sea.

"How beautiful is this mansion of our father!" said Helen softly. "One
blushes to be caught worrying in it, and yet, Colin, I fear to have
you go away."

"Why, my dear?"

"I have a presentiment that we shall meet no more in this life. Nay,
do not smile; this strange intelligence of sorrow, this sudden
trembling in a soul at rest, is not all a delusion. We shall part
to-morrow, Colin. Oh, darling brother, where shall we meet again?"

He looked into the fair, tender face and the eager, questioning eyes,
and found himself unable to reply.

"Remember, Colin! I give you a rendezvous in heaven."

He clasped her hand tightly, and they walked on in a silence that
Colin remembered often afterwards. Sometimes, in dreams, to the very
end of his life, he took again with Helen that last evening walk, and
his soul leaned and hearkened after hers. "I give you a rendezvous in

In the morning they had a few more words alone. She was standing
looking out thoughtfully into the garden. "Are you going to London?"
she asked suddenly.


"You will call on Mr. Selwyn?"

"I think so."

"Tell him we remember him - and try to follow, though afar off, the
example he sets us."

"Well, you know, Helen, I may not see him. We never were chums. I have
often wondered why I asked him here. It was all done in a moment. I
had thought of asking Walter Napier, and then I asked Selwyn. I have
often thought it would have pleased me better if I had invited

"Sometimes it is permitted to us to do things for the pleasure of
others, rather than our own. I have often thought that God - who
foresaw the changes to take place here - sent Mr. Selwyn with a message
to Dominie Tallisker. The dominie thinks so too. Then how glad you
ought to be that you asked him. He came to prepare for those poor
people who as yet were scattered over Ayrshire and Cumberland. And
this thought comforts me for you, Colin. God knows just where you are
going, dear, and the people you are going to meet, and all the events
that will happen to you."

The events and situations of life resemble ocean waves - every one is
alike and yet every one is different. It was just so at Crawford Keep
after Colin left it. The usual duties of the day were almost as
regular as the clock, but little things varied them. There were
letters or no letters from Colin; there were little events at the
works or in the village; the dominie called or he did not call.
Occasionally there were visitors connected with the mines or furnaces,
and sometimes there were social evening gatherings of the neighboring
young people, or formal state dinners for the magistrates and
proprietors who were on terms of intimacy with the laird.

For the first year of Colin's absence, if his letters were not quite
satisfactory, they were condoned. It did not please his father that
Colin seemed to have settled himself so completely in Rome, among
"artists and that kind o' folk," and he was still more angry when
Colin declared his intention of staying away another year. Poor
father! How he had toiled and planned to aggrandize this only son, who
seemed far more delighted with an old coin or an old picture than with
the great works which bore his name. In all manner of ways he had made
it clear to his family that in the dreamy, sensuous atmosphere of
Italian life he remembered the gray earnestness of Scottish life with
a kind of terror.

Tallisker said, "Give him his way a little longer, laird. To bring him
hame now is no use. People canna thole blue skies for ever; he'll be
wanting the moors and the misty corries and the gray clouds erelong."
So Colin had another year granted him, and his father added thousand
to thousand, and said to his heart wearily many and many a time, "It
is all vexation of spirit."

At the end of the second year Crawford wrote a most important letter
to his son. There was an opening for the family that might never come
again. All arrangements had been made for Colin to enter the coming
contest for a seat in Parliament. The Marquis of B - - had been spoken
to, and Crawford and he had come to an understanding Crawford did not
give the particulars of the "understanding," but he told Colin that
his "political career was assured." He himself would take care of the

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrScottish sketches → online text (page 2 of 15)