Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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wronged or hated, how great and how fitting
must be his remorse !

" And if those old Torquils who committed all
kinds of outrages, and shed blood without stint
to increase the number and power of their clan,
can now see its chief scattering and wronging it,
counting sheep and red deer as of more value
than their descendants, no wonder they are
moved and troubled even beyond the grave. It
is not forbidden us to think of these things if we
do it reverently."

"Oh, Father! How good is God that He
permits to sinful men a place of repentance and
of expiation. If it were not so if men went at
once to Heaven or hell "

" In such case, my son, men must be thor
oughly heavenly or thoroughly infernal before

242 The Minister Calls on the Baron.

death. Very few mortals are either. Heaven
and hell are not next-door neighbors. Christ
taught us that between the two there is a great
gulf the state or place of judgment. It can do
you no harm to live as if surrounded by those
whom you will meet in the eternal world. Even
from a good supposition you may derive good."
This conversation occurred nearly a week
after Donald s letter had been sent to Sara.
Father Matthew had supplemented it with a few
lines from his own hand, and the answer arrived
just as Donald was rising to leave. The good
priest s face brightened as if it had caught sun
shine, and as he read the letter aloud to Donald
his eyes shone with the glad soul behind them :

request, I say this keep the people together. I shall be
home in a very short time, and I am sure that I shall bring
help. Lady Moidart incloses ten pounds to buy meal for
them. Pray for me, dear Father, for I am about to take
steps on a new road. Pray, then, for your dear child in

" It is good news, Father. I felt sure it would

The Minister Calls on the Baron. 243

come. Also, I think there will be a letter for
me, and so 1 will hasten home."

Donald was not disappointed, and Sara had
been much more explicit to him than to Father

" I am going to marry Andrew Maclane, dear brother," she
said. " I am going to marry him because I love and respect
him ; because he will make me happy ; because I am sure he
will be a good brother to you, and because I am sure I shall
never be sorry or ashamed for the step I am going to take.
I may not love him as Juliet loved Romeo, but I have a noble
and sensible regard for my intended husband. We shall be
true husband and wife, true friends, true companions, true
workers together in everything that we believe to be right
and good. I intend to take his advice, and ask his help
about the Torquils. I shall do it at once. He will under
stand how best they can be provided for, without hurting our
father s prejudices and his pride. We must remember that
any help to them is interference with his affairs, and respect
his feelings. I should think Father Matthew the best vehicle
for assistance, but Andrew Maclane will know just what
ought to be done, I am sure. Because I put him first in this
matter do not think that any one can ever take your share of
my love. My brother ! My dear brother ! In your place you
will always reign supreme in Sara s heart."

With an affectionate pride, he slowly refolded

244 The Minister Calls on the Baron.

the comforting letter. To be loved so fondly by
two such women as Sara Torquil and Roberta
Balfour was surely a great blessing.

He turned to the window and looked over the
sea. It was brightly blue, and dimpling all over
in the sunshine. His boat lay rocking at anchor,
and the temptation to set her free and go flying
before the wind was too great to be resisted.
Yet, though his father sought neither advice nor
sympathy from him, he knew that he was sick
and troubled, and he did not wish to leave Tas-
mer if there were any prospect of rendering aid
to him. Sir Rolfe politely declined his society.

" There is nothing you can do. Factor
Frazer," he said, bitterly, " will attend to such
affairs as are urgent. By all means, go to sea, if
you wish to go. The servants assert the castle
to be a very undesirable human habitation. I
suppose their terrors have affected you. Have
you heard from Sara?"

" Yes, sir. I had a letter this afternoon."

The Minister Calls on the Baron. 245

" Did she tell you of her approaching mar
riage with Mr. Maclane ?"

" She did, sir."

"Do you approve of it !"

" I do, sir ; very much."

" That is satisfactory. I had begun to think it
was impossible to please you."

" If I could please you, sir, that would make
me happier than any other event."

Something in the young man s face and voice
touched his father. He answered more kindly :

" It is hard, Donald, for age and youth to think
alike. In a few years you will remember your
attitude at this time with regret. You will wish
you had stood at your father s side and helped
to bear a burden almost too much for him to
bear alone. Go away for a few days. Times of
change are always painful. When Sara is mar
ried, I will talk with you about your future.
All shall be done for your welfare that is possible."

He spoke so sadly, and yet so kindly, that
Donald ventured to offer his hand. Sir Rolfe

246 The Minister Calls on the Baron.

held it a moment, and ere he turned again to his
papers, wished him a pleasant sail ; adding :

" By the way, if you should go northward try
to find out something about that Melvich. I am
not going to submit to his encroachments. He
says I have no legal right in the waters we have
fished for a thousand years. Legal right,
indeed ! Use and wont have some rights, too, I

And Donald, wondering that he could not see
the same law applied to the ejected crofters,
went to his boat with the sense of a bird set free,
and took her out of harbor. It was near the
gloaming ; the breeze was light and the sea
rising and falling with a lazy send.

Just outside the harbor he met a boat making
for it. She was not a fishing-boat, and she had
a familiar look. He wondered a little where
he had seen her before ; but he never suspected
that it was an Ellerloch smack having Mr. Bal-
four on board. She came to land easily, the
anchor chain flew out, and the minister landed

The Minister Calls on the Baron. 247

and stood for a moment looking around him.
He had the air of a man bent upon some special
errand ; his face was somber and set, his move
ments without hurry and without hesitation.
He stopped two fishers and asked them the way
to Sir Rolfe Torquil s house, and they looked
queerly at him, and said :

" The castle wass on the hill-top whateffer,"
and then noticing his clerical dress, they removed
their caps and added : " It iss through the fir-
woodt you will haf to go, sir, and, maype, it iss
Father Matthew you will pe seeing first."

" Who is Father Matthew ?"

" Father Matthew Contach ! He iss the
priest, praise God, and he is a goot man, mir-
over. In the churchyard you will pe seeing him
now, if you will pe going there."

Then they left him, and Mr. Balfour went
toward the church, which was a notable land
mark in the place. The scene in the church
yard instantly arrested him. It was near the
hour for the last meal of the day. The fires

248 The Minister Calls on the Baron.

under the booths were burning brightly, the
women were busy about the boiling kettles, the
men were spreading pallets of bracken and
blankets, and the priest, easily distinguished both
by his habit and his air of authority, was stand
ing among a group evidently explaining some
thing to them.

Two women carrying fish and milk passed, and
he stopped them and asked the meaning of such
a singular sight. They told the story of the
clearance of Easter-Torquil, and he was amazed
at their patience. When he expressed his opin
ion of Sir Rolfe Torquil, one of them, with a
movement of disapprobation and pride, said :

" You will pe a stranger, sir ; there iss no
stranger that can pe knowing the Torquil. It
will not pe hiss fault whateffer; there wass bat
men at hiss side, and they did make him do
what wass not in hiss heart. It iss bat men. It
iss not the Torquil whateffer."

That was not Mr. Balfour s opinion. He had
a feeling of satisfaction in discovering that these

The Minister Calls on the Baron. 249

Torquils were as bad as he had decided they
were. He was not aware of this unworthy sat
isfaction, for he was too much exercised about
other matters to enter into any form of self-
examination, so he again and again assured
himself :

" He is a bad man, a heartless and unjust man.
No wonder he has a false and selfish son. I will
not spare him a word of the truth* not I !"

To such thoughts he walked rapidly up to
Tasmer, and reached it just as Fergus was light
ing the great hall. He gave him his card with
the information that he wished to see Sir Rolfe
without delay. In his way, Balfour was as much
a man of authority as Sir Rolfe himself. Fergus
looked at him with respect and curiosity. A
Free-Kirk minister was not a familiar sight to
him, but he quickly decided that the visitor was
an ecclesiastic of some order, and he gave him
the low obedience and the reverential speech
which he kept entirely for powers spiritual.

To Sir Rolfe the sight of the card was a pleas-

250 The Minister Calls on the Baron.

ant interruption to his own unhappy brooding.
He was in hopes that it introduced some of the
neighboring Highland gentlemen, with whom he
could discuss he clearance policy, and by so
doing re-assure his own mind. The " Rev.
David Balfour " puzzled him. Catholic ecclesi
astics were not accustomed to carry visiting-
cards in their vestments, and he knew none of
the Protestant clergy in the vicinity. But he
was inclined for company, and not averse to
gather opinions from all sources upon the one
question which interested him.

So, as Mr. Balfour entered the room, he rose
with blended dignitv and courtesy, directing
Fergus by a glance to place a chair near himself
for Mr. Balfour s use. He did not take it, but
remained standing, with one hand firmly grasp
ing the back.

" To what circumstance am I obliged for the
honor of your visit, sir ?"

" If there be any honor in the visit, sir, it
belongs to my office. I am but one mortal

The Minister Calls on the Baron. 251

seeking speech with another mortal very
unhappily so, for your son has done me and
mine a great wrong, and I come to ask you to
restrain him in its commission."

" I am grieved and amazed at what you say.
I can scarcely credit such an accusation without

" I blame you not for that. I will give you the
particulars. Last autumn, I met Donald Torquil
at sea in some danger. I helped him clear away
his wreckage, and brought his boat into Ellerloch
Bay. There was every appearance of a stormy
night. I offered him the shelter of my home.
He came again, and again, and again. I have a
daughter, a beautiful girl of eighteen. I need
not tell you what he came for. He has out
raged my hospitality in the most cruel way."

" Then, sir, though he be my only son, I say
he is a scoundrel ; and he shall right the girl he
has wronged, or see my face no more."

" You are going too far, sir. I think my
Roberta pure beyond the breath of suspicion ;

252 The Minister Calls on the Baron.

but he has won her love, weaned her heart from
her own life and all its simple duties. He has
interfered between our affection, broken our
confidence in each other, and made a happy
home full of doubts and anxieties and restless
ness. She is all I have. He has stolen her
from me."

" Oh, this is a different thing, Mr. Balfour.
Donald has acted imprudently, but I think your
accusation of outraging your hospitality quite
too far-fetched indeed, very unjust. The Tor-
quils are honorable men. When my son is
absent I must defend his honor for him."

" What the Torquils have been, I know not.
The present Torquils are not honorable men.
Your son, the first night of our acquaintance,
was well aware a marriage with my daughter
was out of all consideration. Yet he did not
scruple to seek her affections, though he knew
well that I never would permit her to be his

" It seems to me, Mr. Balfour, that you were

The Minister Calls on the Baron. 253

as dishonorable as my son. If he knew a mar
riage with your daughter was impossible, you
must have known it also. Why did you allow
him to come again and again ?"
" Because I knew not who he was."
" Did he visit you under a false name?"
" He told me truly that his name was Donald
Torquil, and that he lived sixty miles or more to
the southward, in the Kintail district. But
what did that signify? I knew no more of the
Torquils than I did of the hundreds of other
gentlemen in Ross. I saw only a tall, well-made
youth, with a bright face, reddish hair and win
ning manners. I am a Free-Kirk minister.
When I read the Scriptures and worshiped with
my family, he joined in the worship without
protest or remark. I supposed him to be a
Protestant. He deceived me at the very first
concerning the most sacred of all subjects,
between God and man, or man and man."

" Sir, you confess yourself to be an exceeding

254 The Minister Calls on the Baron.

bigot. My son behaved only with the toleration
of a Christian and a gentleman."

" If it had been only for that once, yes. I
would then never have come here with a com
plaint. He was a traitor to his faith, and to his
host, over and over, week after week, month
after month, until his object was accomplished ;
until my child s life had been made miserable,
and the joy and content of my own home des
troyed. For the Torquils, being who and what
they are, I would pray God to slay my Roberta
ere she became one of them."

" The Torquils are gentlemen or their head
had not borne so patiently your unwarranted
abuse of them in their own castle. It strikes me
that it is I and not you who ought to complain
in this matter. Whatever may be your opinion
of yourself and your office, I can assure you, sir,
that Donald Torquil would commit an unpar
donable offense against his house and his order
and his religion if he married Miss Baifour. I
for one, would never speak to him again. I

The Minister Calls on the Baron. 255

should never recognize the young woman as my
daughter. She would gain nothing socially, as
long as I lived, from the marriage."

" You could give her nothing socially. The
Balfours have a spotless name in Scotland s his
tory. They will never unite it with one against
which tyranny, idolatry, rapine, injustice and
cruelty are written."

" Sir ! You go too far much too far ! Sir,
you will make me forget " and Sir Rolfe rose
hastily and stood glaring at his accuser. He
was white with rage, quivering in every limb,
but making supreme efforts to control his pas

" Jacobites ! Papists ! Robbers of the poor,
because they are poor. I will not have my child
made a partaker of the curse that will be your

Balfour s face was stern, almost fierce, but he
spoke with an even, slow intensity, which was
unendurable to the nervous, passionate man
before him. His answer was a torrent of con-

256 The Minister Calls on the Baron.

temptuous reproach and accusation ; and his
vehement speech brought Fergus uncalled
into the room. The intrusion was most fortu
nate. Sir Rolfe s hand had gone more than
once to the spot on which his sword had been
wont to hang. His whole attitude was that of a
man on the point of flinging himself upon his

But when Fergus came in he looked with a
grateful relief toward him and gasped out :

" Show that man to the door, Fergus!"

Then, with a low, inarticulate cry, he threw
open the oratory, fell at the foot of the cross
and clasped the pierced feet of the Christ in his
hands with sobs and ejaculations :

" I detest my sins, O Lord ! . . . I seek
refuge in Thy Mercy ! . . . I have sinned
exceedingly through my fault ! Through my
fault! Through my most grievous fault !"

This act, so unexpected, so amazing, com
pletely silenced and subdued the minister. The
living, palpable faith of the Catholic, which

The Minister Calls on the Baron. 257

makes his private religion a thing supreme at all
hours a thing of which he never feels ashamed
humbled the angry man. In his own church,
in his own household, he prayed readily before
all ; but he would have been abashed and
troubled if Roberta even had seen him at his
private devotions. The simple unconsciousness
of the spiritual distress he witnessed overcame
his anger. He went out of the room like a chid
den child.

Fergus followed him down-stairs with dislike
and fear, and when they reached the hall he set
the door wide open for him. At its threshold
David Balfour stood a moment, and then said :

" Tell Sir Rolfe Torquil that I regret the pas
sionate words I spoke ; ill words may be true
words, but it is better not to give them way."

" There will pe no ill wordts that will pe true
wordts of the Torquil whateffer no inteet, praise
God ! And the ill-speaker will pe taking the ill
wordts with him, mirover. Yes, and the door
will pe shut upon them."

258 The Minister Calls on the Baron.

And then the great doors of Tasmer clashed
together with a clamor that set the old spears
and shields rattling on the walls, and sent Fergus
at a rapid pace to the lighted kitchen, feeling as
if an army of dead Torquils were gathering
behind him.



" Heart with heart, and hand in hand,

Go upon your way ;
Pleasant is the promised land
You re entering to-day.
Corn it has and wine,

Field for work and play,
On it love divine

Sheds benignant ray."

The statues, the ornaments and the fine fur
niture of Lady Moidart s drawing-room were
all packed away, or carefully shrouded in linen ;
as were also the great crystal chandeliers ; but
upon a table lit by temporary hand-lamps, there
were spread out gems of wonderful beauty and
great price ; diamonds and sapphires and pearls
of purest tint. Sara Torquil and Andrew

260 Saras Request.

Maclane stood looking at them. Her hand was
clasped in his ; she leaned her beautiful head
against his shoulder; the light of perfectly
happy, trustful affection was on both faces.

" Choose which you prefer, dearest, and give
me one more pleasure."

" The blue sapphires, the sparkling diamonds,
the moonlight pearls, all are lovely, Andrew ;
but " and she lifted the string of oriental pearls
and looked at them with a wistful admiration.

" But what, Sara ?"

" I want a richer betrothal gift than any of

No shadow darkened his face ; the moment
she had spoken the words he comprehended that
he should approve them, whatever their meaning.

" It is not gems you want ; then what is it,

Then she told him of all the sorrow there was
at Torquil, and of Donald s and Father Mat-
thews s Jetters, and before she had finished

Sara s Request. 261

speaking, his clear mind had foreseen her request
and granted it.

" You wish me to give the money which we
were going to spend on jewels to make new
homes for these homeless peasants? That is
your desire, Sara ?"

" That is my desire, dear Andrew."

" But I can do both do both easily ; and I
shall be glad to do both. Most of them, you say,
are Torquils. Any one bearing your name has
a claim upon me. I could not see a Torquil
homeless, and not help him."

" But I also want a share in this pleasure. I
want to offer these lovely pearls to Divine mercy
and charity to make a thank-offering of them,
and so bring God s smile upon our marriage."

He drew her closer and kissed her solemnly.
He made no further objection. He did not ask
her once more to accept them. The confidential
clerk, who had brought them in a guarded cab,
received them all again, and they sat down

262 Sara s Request.

together to talk more fully over the good work
they had undertaken.

Sara was enthusiastic in it ; Maclane was
enthusiastic in giving her pleasure, but he did
not disguise the fact that he was only partially on
the side of the crofter.

" I feel very sorry for Sir Rolfe," he said,
" and this matter must be entirely managed by
Father Contach. Even Donald ought not to
seem by interference to imply disapproval of Sir
Rolfe s plans. For, indeed, Sara, there are very
few Englishmen who would blame him. If it
were necessary for my solvency to shut my
works and mills, I am sure I should do so.
Upward of two thousand people might be made
homeless by the act, and I should deeply regret
it, but I should still think it was my duty to save
my credit and my estate. In another way, this
is your father s position. There is a romantic
sentiment, a historical tie behind it, which makes
the position harder for both ; but upon the whole,
Sara, my sympathies are mostly with Sir Rolfe."

Sara s Request. 263

" You think the people wrong ?"

" No, I do not. This is a case in which Sir
Rolfe is right and the people not wrong. The
situation is altogether out of tune with the time.
And the moral effect upon Sir Rolfe is far
more trying than it is on the peasant ; for when
a man is called cruel and unjust, it is difficult for
him not to become so. However, dear Sara, how
can we ask a blessing upon our own home better
than by giving homes to those who are homeless
the blessing of those ready to perish is not to
be despised."

This conversation indicates very well the one
which followed it with Father Matthew. Mr.
Maclane was anxious to be unknown in the mat
ter ; but it was his money which brought the ship
into Torquil harbor, which provided all neces
saries for a comfortable voyage to North Caro
lina, which placed in the hand of every provider
a sum sufficient to lift care from their hearts and
to give them courage to face the future.

Sir Rolfe had no anger toward the outcasts.

264 Saras Request.

and they had very speedily forgiven him. After
all he was the Torquil. The feudal feeling still
lingered in the hearts. Most of the men went up
to Tasmer to shake his hand ; not a few of the
elder ones wept as they affectionately bowed
their lips to it. Sir Rolfe felt his own eyes grow
dim, for the mysterious power in the tie of blood
is not to be put away ; and when old Hector
Torquil sobbed out : " My chief, my chief, fare
well !" he took his gold snuff-box and put it into
his hand, saying :

" It has my name and crest upon it, Hector.
You are the oldest living Torquil ; you must be
the leader of the people in the new land. Let
them, do nothing to shame the name. We part
now. We shall meet again beyond the grave."

Maclane was present at this interview, and he
watched the scene with many complex feelings.
In spite of his great age, Hector was a fine old
man, with the erect, up-head carriage of an old
soldier. When he had gone away, Sir Rolfe said :

" He was a grand man with a bayonet. I saw

Saras Request. 265

him in ten engagements. He was forty years in
the army. Ross used to be the great recruiting
ground. When I got my commission, I was
followed by sixty strapping fellows from these
very hills. No one will now take the queen s
shilling. Their military spirit is dead."

" I do not wonder at it, Sir Rolfe. Hector
Torquil, you say, fought the battles of his
country for forty years ; and at the end, what
has he for his patriotism ? A tent in the church
yard, or exile to America. The feudal feeling
that made sixty strapping fellows follow you to
the army is nearly destroyed ; and beside, these
people feel themselves to have been unjustly and
cruelly treated. They may be wrong, or they
may be right, but the feeling exists ; and wher
ever it does exist, it kills enthusiasm on any
other subject. I am not blaming you for it, Sir
Rolfe not in the least. Your order have deter
mined upon a certain course for their own pre
servation ; you must go with them, or go to ruin."

" It is the truth."



It was a great relief when the ship, with the
little colony on board her, sailed. She went in
the night ; went so silently that very few knew
when she lifted her anchor. Father Matthew
had heard their solemn confession, and said
prayers for their safety before they embarked.
He had gone on board in the evening, and gath
ered them on deck, and read the vesper service,
and sung a hymn with them, and given all his
blessing. They knew not, however, that they
would see his face no more. If there were such
a thought in any heart, no one liked to whisper
it ; and their last memory of him was brightened
by the smile with which he lifted his face to the

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe beads of Tasmer → online text (page 10 of 16)