Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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Helen died she asked me to gie her share o' the estate to the poor
children of our Father. I had intended giving Helen £100,000. It is a
big sum, and I hae been in a sair strait about it. What say you,

"My dear father, I say there is only one way out of that strait. The
money must be given as Helen wished it. Helen was a noble girl. It was
just like her."

"Ah, Colin, if you could only tell what a burden this bit o' paper has
been to me! I left the great weight at the foot o' the cross this
morning." As he spoke the paper dropped from his fingers and fell upon
the table. Colin lifted it reverently and kissed it. "Father," he
said, "may I keep it now? The day will come when the Crawfords will
think with more pride of it than of any parchment they possess."

Then there was an appeal to Tallisker about its disposal. "Laird," he
answered, "such a sum must be handled wi' great care. It is not enough
to gie money, it must be gien wisely." But he promised to take on
himself the labor of inquiry into different charities, and the
consideration of what places and objects needed help most. "But,
Crawford," he said, "if you hae any special desire, I think it should
be regarded."

Then Crawford said he had indeed one. When he was himself young he had
desired greatly to enter the ministry, but his father had laid upon
him a duty to the family and estate which he had accepted instead.

"Now, dominie," he said, "canna I keep aye a young man in my place?"

"It is a worthy thought, Crawford."

So the first portion of Helen's bequest went to Aberdeen University.
This endowment has sent out in Crawford's place many a noble young man
into the harvest-field of the world, and who shall say for how many
centuries it will keep his name green in earth and heaven! The
distribution of the rest does not concern our story. It may safely be
left in Dominie Tallisker's hands.

Of course, in some measure it altered Crawford's plans. The new house
was abandoned and a wing built to the Keep for Colin's special use. In
this portion the young man indulged freely his poetic, artistic
tastes. And the laird got to like it. He used to tread softly as soon
as his feet entered the large shaded rooms, full of skilful lights and
white gleaming statues. He got to enjoy the hot, scented atmosphere
and rare blossoms of the conservatory, and it became a daily delight
to him to sit an hour in Colin's studio and watch the progress of some
favorite picture.

But above all his life was made rich by his grandson. Nature, as she
often does, reproduced in the second generation what she had totally
omitted in the first. The boy was his grandfather over again. They
agreed upon every point. It was the laird who taught Alexander to
spear a salmon, and throw a trout-line, and stalk a deer. They had
constant confidences about tackle and guns and snares. They were all
day together on the hills. The works pleased the boy better than his
father's studio. He trotted away with his grandfather gladly to them.
The fires and molten metal, the wheels and hammers and tumult, were
all enchantments to him. He never feared to leap into a collier's
basket and swing down the deep, black shaft. He had also an
appreciative love of money; he knew just how many sixpences he owned,
and though he could give if asked to do so, he always wanted the
dominie to give him a good reason for giving. The child gave him back
again his youth, and a fuller and nobler one than he himself had

And God was very gracious to him, and lengthened out this second youth
to a green old age. These men of old Gaul had iron constitutions; they
did not begin to think themselves old men until they had turned
fourscore. It was thirty years after Helen's death when Tallisker one
night sent this word to his life-long friend,

"I hae been called, Crawford; come and see me once more."

They all went together to the manse. The dominie was in his
ninety-first year, and he was going home. No one could call it dying.
He had no pain. He was going to his last sleep

"As sweetly as a child,
Whom neither thought disturbs nor care encumbers,
Tired with long play, at close of summer's day
Lies down and slumbers."

"Good-by, Crawford - for a little while. We'll hae nae tears. I hae
lived joyfully before my God these ninety years; I am going out o' the
sunshine into the sunshine. Crawford, through that sair strait o'
yours you hae set a grand, wide-open door for a weight o' happiness. I
am glad ye didna wait. A good will is a good thing, but a good life is
far better. It is a grand thing to sow your ain good seed. Nae ither
hand could hae done it sae well and sae wisely. Far and wide there are
lads and lasses growing up to call you blessed. This is a thought to
mak death easy, Crawford. Good-night, dears."

And then "God's finger touched him and he slept."

Crawford lived but a few weeks longer. After the dominie's death he
simply sat waiting. His darling Alexander came home specially to
brighten these last hours, and in his company he showed almost to the
last hour the true Crawford spirit.

"Alexander," he would say, "you'll ding for your ain side and the
Crawfords always, but you'll be a good man; there is nae happiness
else, dear. Never rest, my lad, till ye sit where your fathers sat in
the House o' Peers. Stand by the State and the Kirk, and fear God,
Alexander. The lease o' the Cowden Knowes is near out; don't renew it.
Grip tight what ye hae got, but pay every debt as if God wrote the
bill. Remember the poor, dear lad. Charity gies itsel' rich. Riches
mak to themselves wings, but charity clips the wings. The love o' God,
dear, the love o' God - that is the best o' all."

Yes, he had a sair struggle with his lower nature to the very last,
but he was constantly strengthened by the conviction of a "Power
closer to him than breathing, nearer than hands or feet." Nine weeks
after the dominie's death they found him sitting in his chair, fallen
on that sleep whose waking is eternal day. His death was like
Tallisker's - a perfectly natural one. He had been reading. The Bible
lay open at that grand peroration of St. Paul's on faith, in the
twelfth of Hebrews. The "great cloud of witnesses," "the sin which
doth so easily beset us," "Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our
faith" - these were probably his last earthly thoughts, and with them
he passed into

"That perfect presence of His face
Which we, for want of words, call heaven."

James Blackie's Revenge.



Few people who have travelled will deny that of all cities Glasgow is
apparently the least romantic. Steeped in wet, white mist, or wrapped
in yellow fog vapor, all gray stone and gray sky, dirty streets, and
sloppy people, it presents none of the features of a show town. Yet it
has great merits; it is enterprising, persevering, intensely national,
and practically religious; and people who do not mind being damp have
every chance to make a good living there. Even the sombre appearance
of the dark gray granite of which it is built is not unsuitable to the
sterling character of its people; for though this stone may be dull
and ugly, there is a natural nobility about it, and it never can be

I have said that, as a city, Glasgow is practically religious, and
certainly this was the case something less than half a century ago.
The number of its churches was not more remarkable than the piety and
learning of its clergy; and the "skailing" of their congregations on a
Sabbath afternoon was one of the most impressive sights, of its kind,
in the world.

My true little story opens with the skailing of the Ramshorn Kirk, a
very favorite place of worship with the well-to-do burghers of the
east end of the city, and it was a peculiarly douce, decent,
solemn-looking crowd that slowly and reverently passed out of its
gates into the absolutely silent streets. For no vehicles of any kind
disturbed the Sabbath stillness, and not until the people had gone
some distance from the house of God did they begin to think their own
thoughts, and with a certain grave reserve put them into words.

Among the groups who proceeded still farther east, towards the
pleasant houses facing the "Green," one alone was remarkable enough to
have elicited special notice from an observing stranger. It consisted
of an old man and a young girl, evidently his daughter. Both were
strikingly handsome, and the girl was much better dressed than the
majority of women who took the same road. Long before they reached the
Green they were joined by a younger man, whom the elder at once
addressed in a reproving voice.

"Ye didna pay as much attention to the sermon as it behooved ye to do,
James Blackie; and what for did ye speak to Robert Laird a'most within
'the Gates'?"

"I only asked if he had heard of the 'Bonnie Bess;' she is overdue
five days, and eight good men in her, not to speak of the cargo."

"It's no cannie to be aye asking questions. Sit still and the news
will come to ye: forbye, I'm no sure if yon was a lawfu' question; the
Sabbath sun hasna set yet."

James Blackie mechanically turned to the west, and then slowly let his
glance fall on the lovely face at his side.

"Christine," he asked softly, "how is all with you?"

"All is well, James."

Not another word was spoken until they reached David Cameron's home.
He was carefully reconsidering the sermon - going over every point on
his finger ends, lest he should drop any link of the argument; and
James and Christine were listening to his criticisms and remarks. They
all stopped before a shop over the windows of which was painted,
"David Cameron, Dealer in Fine Teas;" and David, taking a large key
from his pocket, opened the door, and said,

"Come in and eat wi' us, James; ye ken ye're welcome."

"Our friendship, Mr. Cameron, is a kind of Montgomery division - all on
one side, nothing on the other; but I am 'so by myself' that I thank
you heartily."

So David, followed by Christine and James, passed slowly through the
darkened store, with its faint smells of Eastern spices and fragrant
teas, into the little parlor beyond. The early winter night had now
fallen, and the room, having only an outlet into a small court, would
have been dark also but for the red glow of the "covered" fire. David
took the poker and struck the great block of coal, and instantly the
cheerful blaze threw an air of cosey and almost picturesque comfort
over the homelike room.

The two men sat down beside the fire, spreading their hands to its
warmth, and apparently finding their own thoughts excellent company,
for neither of them spoke or moved until Christine reappeared. She had
divested herself of the handsome black satin and velvet which formed
her kirk suit; but in her long, plain dress of gray winsey, with a
snowy lawn kerchief and cuffs, she looked still more fair and lovable.

James watched her as she spread the cloth and produced from various
cupboards cold meats and pastries, bread and cakes, and many kinds of
delicate preserves and sweetmeats. Her large, shapely hands among the
gold-and-white china fascinated him, while her calm, noiseless,
unhurried movements induced a feeling of passive repose that it
required an effort to dispel, when she said in a low, even voice,

"Father, the food is waiting for the blessing."

It was a silent but by no means an unhappy meal. David was a good man,
and he ate his food graciously and gratefully, dropping now and then a
word of praise or thanks; and James felt it delightful enough to watch
Christine. For James, though he had not yet admitted the fact to his
own heart, loved Christine Cameron as men love only once, with that
deep, pure affection that has perchance a nearer kindred than this
life has hinted of.

He thought her also exquisitely beautiful, though this opinion would
not have been indorsed by a majority of men. For Christine had one of
those pale, statuesque faces apt to be solemn in repose; its beauty
was tender and twilight, its expression serious and steadfast, and her
clear, spiritual eyes held in them no light of earthly passion. She
had grown up in that little back parlor amid the din and tumult of the
city, under the gray, rainy skies, and surrounded by care and sin, as
a white lily grows out of the dark, damp soil, drawing from the
elements around only sweetness and purity.

She was very silent this afternoon, but apparently very happy. Indeed,
there was an expression on her face which attracted her father's
attention, and he said,

"The sermon has pleased thee well, I see, Christine."

"The sermon was good, but the text was enough, father. I think it over
in my heart, and it leaves a light on all the common things of life."
And she repeated it softly, "O Thou preserver of men, unto Thee shall
all flesh come."

David lifted his bonnet reverently, and James, who was learned in what
the Scotch pleasantly call "the humanities," added slowly,

"'But I, the mortal,
Planted so lowly, with death to bless me,
I sorrow no longer.'"

When people have such subjects of conversation, they talk
moderately - for words are but poor interpreters of emotions whose
sources lie in the depths of eternity. But they were none the less
happy, and James felt as if he had been sitting at one of those tables
which the Lord "prepareth in the wilderness," where the "cup runneth
over" with joy and content.

Such moments rarely last long; and it is doubtful if we could bear to
keep the soul always to its highest bent. When Christine had sided
away the dishes and put in order the little room, David laid down his
pipe, and said, "The Lord's day being now over, I may speak anent my
ain matters. I had a letter, Christine, on Saturday, from my
brother-in-law, McFarlane. He says young Donald will be in Glasgow
next week."

"Will he stay here, father?"

"Na, na; he'll bide wi' the McFarlanes. They are rich folk; but siller
is nae sin - an' it be clean-won siller."

"Then why did Uncle McFarlane write to you, father?"

"He wrote concerning the lad's pecuniary matters, Christine. Young
Donald will need gude guiding; and he is my sister Jessie's only
bairn - blood is thicker than water, ye'll allow that - and Donald is o'
gentle blood. I'm no saying that's everything; but it is gude to come
o' a gude kind."

"The McFarlanes have aye been for the pope and the Stuarts," said
James, a little scornfully. "They were 'out' in the '79'; and they
would pin the white cockade on to-morrow, if there was ever a Stuart
to bid them do it."

"Maybe they would, James. Hielandmen hae a way o' sticking to auld
friends. There's Camerons I wadna go bail for, if Prince Charlie could
come again; but let that flea stick to the wa'. And the McFarlanes
arena exactly papist noo; the twa last generations hae been
'Piscopals - that's ane step ony way towards the truth. Luther mayna be
John Knox, but they'll win up to him some time, dootless they will."

"How old is young McFarlane?" asked James.

"He is turned twenty - a braw lad, his father says. I hae ne'er seen
him, but he's Jessie's bairn, and my heart gaes out to meet him."

"Why did you not tell me on Saturday, father? I could have spoken for
Maggie Maclean to help me put the house in order."

"I didna get the letter till the evening post. It was most as good as
Sabbath then. Housecleaning is an unco temptation to women-folk, so I
keepit the news till the Sabbath sun was weel set."

During this conversation James Blackie's heart had become heavy with
some sad presentiment of trouble, such as arise very naturally in
similar circumstances. As a poet says,

"Ah, no! it is not all delusion,
That strange intelligence of sorrow
Searching the tranquil heart's seclusion,
Making us quail before the morrow.
'Tis the farewell of happiness departing,
The sudden tremor of a soul at rest;
The wraith of coming grief upstarting
Within the watchful breast."

He listened to David Cameron's reminiscences of his bonnie sister
Jessie, and of the love match she had made with the great Highland
chieftain, with an ill-disguised impatience. He had a Lowlander's
scorn for the thriftless, fighting, freebooting traditions of the
Northern clans and a Calvinist's dislike to the Stuarts and the
Stuarts' faith; so that David's unusual emotion was exceedingly and,
perhaps, unreasonably irritating to him. He could not bear to hear him
speak with trembling voice and gleaming eyes of the grand mountains
and the silent corries around Ben-Nevis, the red deer trooping over
the misty steeps, and the brown hinds lying among the green plumes of
fern, and the wren and the thrush lilting in song together.

"Oh, the bonnie, bonnie Hielands!" cried David with a passionate
affection; "it is always Sabbath up i' the mountains, Christine. I
maun see them once again ere I lay by my pilgrim-staff and shoon for

"Then you are not Glasgow born, Mr. Cameron," said James, with the air
of one who finds out something to another's disadvantage.

"Me! Glasgo' born! Na, na, man! I was born among the mountains o'
Argyle. It was a sair downcome fra them to the Glasgo' pavements. But
I'm saying naething against Glasgo'. I was but thinking o' the days
when I wore the tartan and climbed the hills in the white dawns, and,
kneeling on the top o' Ben Na Keen, saw the sun sink down wi' a smile.
It's little ane sees o' sunrising or sunsetting here, James," and
David sighed heavily and wiped away the tender mist from his sight.

James looked at the old man with some contempt; he himself had been
born and reared in one or other of the closest and darkest streets of
the city. The memories of his loveless, hard-worked childhood were
bitter to him, and he knew nothing of the joy of a boyhood spent in
the hills and woods.

"Life is the same everywhere, Mr. Cameron. I dare say there is as much
sin and as much worry and care among the mountains as on the Glasgow

"You may 'daur say' it, James, but that winna mak it true. Even in
this warld our Father's house has many mansions. Gang your way up and
up through thae grand solitudes and ye'll blush to be caught worrying
among them."

And then in a clear, jubilant voice he broke into the old Scotch
version of the 121st Psalm:

"I to the hills will lift mine eyes
from whence doth come mine aid;
My safety cometh from the Lord,
who heaven and earth hath made."

And he sang it to that loveliest of all psalm tunes, Rathiel's "St.
Mary's." It was impossible to resist the faith, the enthusiasm, the
melody. At the second bar Christine's clear, sweet voice joined in,
and at the second line James was making a happy third.

"Henceforth thy goings out and in
God keep for ever will."

"Thae twa lines will do for a 'Gude-night,'" said David in the pause
at the end of the psalm, and James rose with a sigh and wrapped his
plaid around him.


James had gone into the house so happy and hopeful, he left it so
anxious and angry - yes, angry. He knew well that he had no just cause
for anger, but that knowledge only irritated him the more. Souls, as
well as bodies, are subject to malignant diseases, and to-night envy
and jealousy were causing James Blackie more acute suffering than any
attack of fever or contagion. A feeling of dislike towards young
Donald McFarlane had taken possession of his heart; he lay awake to
make a mental picture of the youth, and then he hated the picture he
had made.

Feverish and miserable, he went next morning to the bank in which he
was employed, and endeavored amid the perplexities of compound
interest to forget the anxieties he had invented for himself. But it
was beyond his power, and he did not pray about them; for the burdens
we bind on our own shoulders we rarely dare to go to God with, and
James might have known from this circumstance alone that his trouble
was no lawful one. He nursed it carefully all day and took it to bed
with him again at night. The next day he had begun to understand how
envy grew to hatred, and hatred to murder. Still he did not go to God
for help, and still he kept ever before his eyes the image of the
youth that he had determined was to be his enemy.

On Thursday night he could no longer bear his uncertainties. He
dressed himself carefully and went to David Cameron's. David was in
his shop tasting and buying teas, and apparently absorbed in business.
He merely nodded to James, and bid him "walk through." He had no
intention of being less kindly than usual, but James was in such a
suspicious temper that he took his preoccupation for coolness, and so
it was almost with a resentful feeling he opened the half-glass door
dividing the shop from the parlor.

As his heart had foretold him, there sat the youth whom he had
determined to hate, but his imagination had greatly deceived him with
regard to his appearance. He had thought of Donald only as a "fair,
false Highlander" in tartan, kilt, and philibeg. He found him a tall,
dark youth, richly dressed in the prevailing Southern fashion, and
retaining no badge of his country's costume but the little Glengary
cap with its chieftain's token of an eagle's feather. His manners were
not rude and haughty, as James had decided they would be; they were
singularly frank and pleasant. Gracious and graceful, exceedingly
handsome and light-hearted, he was likely to prove a far more
dangerous rival than even James' jealous heart had anticipated.

He rose at Christine's introduction, and offered his hand with a
pleasant smile to James. The latter received the courtesy with such
marked aversion that Donald slightly raised his eyebrows ere he
resumed his interrupted conversation with Christine. And now that
James sat down with a determination to look for offences he found
plenty. Christine was sewing, and Donald sat beside her winding and
unwinding her threads, playing with her housewife, or teasingly hiding
her scissors. Christine, half pleased and half annoyed, gradually fell
into Donald's mood, and her still face dimpled into smiles. James very
quickly decided that Donald presumed in a very offensive manner on his
relationship to Christine.

A little after nine o'clock David, having closed his shop, joined them
in the parlor. He immediately began to question James about the loss
of the "Bonnie Bess," and from that subject they drifted easily into
others of a local business interest. It was very natural that Donald,
being a stranger both to the city and its business, should take no
part in this discourse, and that he should, in consequence, devote
himself to Christine. But James felt it an offence, and rose much
earlier than was his wont to depart. David stayed him, almost

"Ye maun stop, baith o' ye lads, and join in my meat and worship. They
are ill visitors that canna sit at ane board and kneel at ane altar."

For David had seen, through all their drifting talk of ships and
cargoes, the tumult in James' heart, and he did not wish him to go
away in an ungenerous and unjust temper. So both Donald and James
partook of the homely supper of pease brose and butter, oatmeal cakes
and fresh milk, and then read aloud with David and Christine the
verses of the evening Psalm that came to each in turn. James was much
softened by the exercise; so much so that when Donald asked permission
to walk with him as far as their way lay together, he very pleasantly
acceded to the request. And Donald was so bright and unpretentious it
was almost impossible to resist the infectious good temper which
seemed to be his characteristic.

Still James was very little happier or more restful. He lay awake
again, but this night it was not to fret and fume, but to calmly think
over his position and determine what was best and right to do. For
James still thought of "right," and would have been shocked indeed if
any angel of conscience had revealed to him the lowest depths of his
desires and intentions. In the first place, he saw that David would
tolerate no element of quarrelling and bitterness in his peaceful
home, and that if he would continue to visit there he must preserve
the semblance of friendship for Donald McFarlane. In the second, he
saw that Donald had already made so good his lien upon his uncle's and
cousin's affections that it would be very hard to make them believe
wrong of the lad, even if he should do wrong, though of this James
told himself there would soon be abundance.

"For the things David will think sinful beyond all measure," he
argued, "will seem but Puritanical severity to him; forbye, he is

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrScottish sketches → online text (page 5 of 15)