Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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Tasmers Summer. 267

ship from the small boat carrying him back to
the shore.

Donald took a more active interest in the
event than Sir Rolfe. He was in many respects
Father Matthews s right hand concerning the
innumerable details of so large an immigration.
A feeling of great kindness and of sympathy,
unspoken but understood, was between the
clan and himself, and their parting was not
embittered by any misunderstanding or wrong
judgment of each other. In the farewell service
on board, Donald joined them. Their last act
had been to pray together and to clasp each
other s hands. In the morning, when he looked
over the bay, the ship was gone, the people had
vanished from sight forever. He was thankful
that the separation had been made at last so
kindly ; so much better than he had dared to
think it would be.

It gave him courage to hope that his own
immediate affairs would be settled for him as
favorably ; though where Roberta was con-

268 Tasmers Slimmer.

cerned, the whole horizon seemed dark to him.
His last interview with her had been during
Mr. Balfour s visit to Sir Rolfe Torquil.
Roberta suspected the motive of her father s
journey ; and Donald remembered the strange
yet familiar cratt he had passed at the entrance
to Torquil Harbor. To the lovers, it was evi
dent Mr. Balfour intended to secure Sir Rolfe s
co-operation in order to finally separate them.
They were carried away with love and sorrow.
They vowed to stand by each other unto death.
Under such circumstances their love assumed
an exaggerated importance. Being the one end
and aim of their own lives, they fell into the
error of imagining that it was equally momen
tous to every one else. There is a luxury of
grief which love frequently delights in. Donald
and Roberta, who found the world in each
other, found, also, some strange, sorrowful satis
faction in believing the whole world was against
them. Donald spent nearly two days at Eller-
loch, and during this time won a promise from

Tasmers Summer. 269

Roberta to marry him so soon as he got his

The thought of military life was not unpleas
ant to her. After the stillness of Ellerloch, its
stir and change filled her with pleasant anticipa
tions. She knew that her father was expecting
a call from a church in the vicinity of Edinburg,
and she believed that he had sought it for the
express purpose of separating her from Donald.
If she did leave him, he would have once more
the society and friendship of the scholars and
divines whom he loved and honored. She did
not doubt but he would forgive her, as soon as
he realized she had taken an irrevocable step ;
and she lulled her conscience to rest with all the
specious arguments that love-sick, disobedient
daughters have ever been accustomed to use.

So Donald felt more at ease. However
restrained his intercourse with Roberta might be
during the summer months, he would surely be
able to marry her in the autumn. Roberta had
not been used to a luxurious life. Upon his pay

276 Tasmers Summer.

they could live comfortably, if Sir Rolfe cut off
his allowance, which he admitted was a very
likely result. He thought, as so many have
foolishly thought, that the world would be well
lost for love ; that Roberta would be better and
more than father and honor and family and
money and prestige and social respect and
domestic comfort. Roberta and he were to be
happy under circumstances which had been
always fatal to the happiness of others. No one
had ever loved as they loved ; no one, therefore,
had ever given the world well lost for love a
trial before. Roberta thought just as Donald
thought. They were living a romance of their
own making, and finding even in its contradic
tions and sorrows and oppositions a happiness
of their own.

Roberta watched her father with much
interest and curiosity when he returned from
his visit to Sir Rolfe. She could not under
stand him. He made no allusion to Donald.
He seemed to relax his covert, continued watch-

Tasmers Summer.

fulness of her. In fact, the minister was some
what astonished at himself. That passionate
appeal of his enemy to the Christ upon the cross
had given him a moral stupefaction; that par
tial glimpse of the large, white, shadowy cruci
fix, that utter self-humiliation of the proud
nobleman at its foot, that passionately penitent
cry, " My fault ! My fault !" was incompre
hensible to him. What vital sorrow possessed
this man ? He knew that he himself would
have died rather than have made such a con
fession before any mortal. The scene and the
words haunted him continually. He did not feel
satisfied with his own behavior. He had been
even more intemperate than the man he looked
upon as little better than an idolater. He had
had an opportunity to be Christlike, and he had
been anything but Christlike, and in his heart
there was the same bitter though unvoiced
confession, "My fault! My fault! My most
grievous fault !"

But the feeling of penitence wears away more

272 Tasmers Summer.

quickly than the feeling of anger. He began to
think that Sir Rolfe must have had some inten
tion of injuring him, and that his extravagant
contrition arose from a sudden realization of the
sin and its consequences. From this point it was
easy to regain his satisfaction with himself, and
his dislike for, and his displeasure at, Sir Rolfe
Torquil. Then the next step was to express it.
One day Roberta went out early in the after
noon and did not return for some hours. He
had seen her leave in the boat and had watched
her tacking about the bay for some time. Sud
denly the boat had disappeared round a rocky
point, and he had been tormented with the idea
that Donald s boat was also at anchor in the
smooth water behind its shelter. He accused
Roberta, and defamed the Torquils with an
intemperate anger, and as it happened the idea
was entirely false. She had merely found a
favorable wind going, and an unfavorable one
returning, and she was able indignantly and
positively to deny the accusation.

Tasmers Summer. 273

But the idea suggested was one more easy to
carry out than any the lovers had hitherto hit
upon, and Balfour having once wrongfully
blamed his child, was ever afterward sensitively
afraid of doing her a similar injustice. So
Roberta, who had been always fond of the sea,
almost lived upon it during the ensuing summer.
Frequently she was accompanied by her father,
more frequently she went alone, or took with her
one of Rosa Mackenzie s boys. She developed
a taste for shells and sea-weeds, and came home
after every excursion with some sea treasure.
And Balfour was glad to encourage any new
interest in her life. He sent to Edinburgh for
books and glasses, and encouraged her by a
sympathy born entirely of his desire to atone for
the loss of her lover.

His visit to Sir Rolfe had really done no
good. That nobleman, though he made a special
religious exercise of forgiving the epithets that
had been applied to him, was not able to think
kindly of the minister. He had been put by him

274 Tasmers Summer.

in a mighty temptation, and but for the warning
entrance of Fergus would probably have slain
Balfour ; for his hand was on the poniard, which
his long residence in India had taught him to
wear concealed, and he had dropped the restrain
ing beads from his fingers and was feeling for its
hilt. The face of Fergus revealed to him the
danger he was in; for one whole year of his life
had been spent in the shadow and horror of a
probable atonement for precisely such a satis
faction of passion. Soon after entering the army
he had quarreled with a civilian about a trivial
matter, and with his dirk avenged the fancied
insult so fiercely that his victim lay for months
between life and death, and he, within the limits
of his parole, waited in fear the recovery which
would give him freedom, or the death for which
he would have to atone.

The lesson had been a terrible one, and yet he
had permitted himself to be driven to the very
verge of learning it again all his vows for the
moment forgotten all the restraints of years

Tasmers Summer. 275

burst asunder for a little angry breath. Fergus
understood that passionate imploration at the
Christ s feet; although it always remained a
mystery to Balfour one which he could only
explain to himself by a half-contemptuous allu
sion to the emotional tendencies of the Catholic

But though this emotion did not sway the
angry man an hour after Balfour s departure, it
left some traces behind whose influence was
much more permanent. Sir Rolfe, though he
thought it a religious duty to forgive the scorn
ful, contemptuous words which had so irritated
him, did not forgive the man who spoke them.
In his heart he separated the sin and the sinner,
and he found it easier to pardon the sin than to
tolerate the sinner. He was conscious of a
desire to annoy him, and if he could do so by
simply not interfering with Donald, he found it
a method which it was easy to excuse to his own
conscience. So the minister had really done
harm to his own cause by the visit; for Sir Rolfe

276 Tasmers Summer.

had quite recovered himself before Donald s
return, and was able to treat the subject with
one of those polite innuendoes about women
which some men consider complimentary to

But, in spite of much said to the contrary,
there really are pure-hearted young men ; men
who reverence good womanhood, and who know
nothing of sinful women, and hardly believe in
their existence. Donald was such a youth. The
dim memories of his mother, his intimate knowl
edge of his sister Sara, his adoration of Roberta,
constituted the basis upon which his opinion of
womanhood was based. He repelled with an
instinctive anger anything which lowered this
estimate. He had known no bad women, and
he simply did not believe in them. When Sir
Rolfe smilingly tolerated " some love affair he
had heard of toward Ellerloch," as one of those
passing liaisons which are supposed somehow to
be conducive to the ripening of a young man s
character, Donald indignantly refused to have

Tasmers Summer. 277

any derogatory word used in reference to the
object of his affection.

" I hope I am a gentleman, father," he ans
wered, with a flushing face. " I should scorn to
love a woman whom I did not think worthy to
be my wife. As to Miss Balfour "

" Spare me, I entreat you, Donald, all explana
tions. I wish to know nothing of the young
lady. If she adds a passing glory to your
youth, I am obliged to her."

" But, sir"

" No, indeed ! I will not discuss a boy s first
love affair. You will have forgotten it yourself
a year hence. A much more important circum
stance is your sister s marriage. Sara has
behaved splendidly. She has fulfilled my high
est hopes. She is a good, sensible girl, and I
have no doubt will be happy and honorable as
long as she lives. In the main, sooner or later,
the Torquils do very well to themselves, which
is, I hope, no sin."

" I think Sara loves Maclane. I am sure he is

278 Tasmers Summer.

a very lovable man. I do not think Sara is mar
rying in order to do well to herself."

" You know nothing of women, Donald. To
get on in the world that is the one thing need
ful to them. But let this subject pass. I was
going to say that I shall have all arrangements
made for you to join the Seaforth Highlanders
in the autumn. So make the most of your holi
day now. Take all the joy of your youth, Don
ald. There is only one May in life. But take
care not to make promises or court acquaintances
which will embarrass your future life. Now I
must dismiss you, for I have many letters to
write, and I expect Sara and Maclane within a

Thus he tided over and put off any serious
explanation on Donald s part. He really wanted
to know nothing as to the progress of his love
affair, for he thought he could very safely trust to
the watchfulness and animosity of such a man as
Balfour preventing the irrevocable step of mar
riage. And when Sara returned, he had so many

Tasmer s Summer. 2 79

more vivid interests. She was in herself so
charming in her new character. The indepen
dence she felt in her assured position gave to her
intercourse with her father a delightful repose
and familiarity. They talked confidentially
together of what was to be done for Donald s
progress, and of what was to be done for the
future good of Tasmer.

Maclane s sympathy in respect to the clearance
of Easter-Torquil also gave Sir Rolfe great com
fort. He regained his self-satisfaction. He felt
even an admiration for the kind manner in which
his clearance had been effected. There had been
no necessity for soldiers or even constables on
his estate ; and then by some curious mental pro
cess, he very soon associated the good ship and
the many comforts of the exiles with his own
forbearance, until he felt as if all was the special
work of his hand and heart.

Upon the whole, it was a delightful summer
at Tasmer. There was the pleasant stir of wed
ding preparations throughout it ; the charming

280 Tasmer s Summer.

litter in the family rooms of constantly arriving
boxes filled with splendid clothing and other
accessories to the bridal. Maclane was coming
and going, and his advent was always a new
pleasure. The boat built for him by Rory
and Angus Mackenzie proved a great success.
It was named the Sara Torquil, and Sara,
dressed in beautiful garments, broke the wine on
her bow, and chanted the launch song. The
little craft went off splendidly ; there was a
happy picnicky lunch on board, and Maclane
drank his bespoken cup of happiness from a
brimming cup which is a great thing for any
mortal to do.

Afterward, Donald and he had many a glori
ous race down the sound, or up the Minch,
when the squalls over Torridon were like to
blow the sails to bits, and the wind would fly
right up to the north and fetch the sea down
till the waves thundered over the bows. And
as Rory sailed with Maclane, and Angus with

Tasmers Summer. 281

Donald, the emulation was doubled in each

" For my faather iss the obstinate man what-
effer, Maistir Tonalt," Angus would say, with a
laugh. " It will pe wild work lifting the poats
to \vintwardth out of the floodt tide, but my
faather, he will pe sailing the mast out of the
Sara Torquil, pefore he will pe gifing in whet-
effer. Praise God."

Sometimes Father Matthew went on one boat
or the other; more frequently with Maclane,
for he was interested in him from a religious
point of view. And, though on a sea holiday,
the priest had the glad vivacity of boyhood, and
could sing a boat-song or reef a sail, or handle
an oar with any man. He knew well also how
to take advantage of those still nights when they
drifted peacefully over moonlit seas. Then soul
spoke to soul of the solemn things pertaining
to its destiny, and they reasoned together until
Maclane was almost persuaded of the truths the
father so earnestly pleaded. But his desire to

282 Tasmers Summer.

prove spiritual things by earthly methods, to
arrive at conviction by logical sequences,
hindered him much.

" You must make a venture," said the father ;
" faith is a venture before a man is a Christian.
It is a grace after it."

" If I could be made certain."

" Ah, my son, certainty is the reward of those
who by an act of will embrace the truth !"

" O, for some knowledge of the Divine
Being !"

" It has been the longing of all ages. O that
I knew where I might find Him ! cried Job.
Show us the Father and it sufficeth us/ was the
supplication of the disciples. It is the ceaseless,
passionate longing of all heaven-born souls ; but
though there is no open vision in these days, His
presence is ever near to the believer."

Maclane looked with a pious admiration at
this fervent Christian. His calm manner and
sweet voice told of a habitual communion with
God, and his eyes were full of what Bossuet

Tasmers Summer. 283

calls " an incomparable joy" a joy which none
can taste but those who taste it unmixed and
alone. And such conversations were not with
out their influence ; the priest felt that Maclane
could not linger long outside the gate ; Christ
Himself would speak the " compelle intrare"

In August Sara and Maclane were married.
The castle was full of company. Over the gray
old walls the flag of the Torquils, with its fiery
torch and crossed claymores, blew north and
south, as it had not blown for many a genera
tion. Inside, there was a light laughter of merry
girls and happy matrons, and all the delightful
confusion which follows a crowd of idle, pleas
ure-seeking men, whose talk is of sporting and
boating and beautiful women. Most of the com
pany had brought with them their own maids
and valets ; there was, therefore, a second and by
no means an unimportant party below the main
one. Elegant valets, with suave manners and
light-footed as cats, and spruce, jaunty ladies -
maids were continually passing up and down the

284 Tasmers Summer.

stairs and along the corridors, leaving behind
them an echo of carefully modulated badinage
and a flutter of many-colored ribbons.

In the midst of all Sir Rolfe and his hand
some son and daughter made a very distinct
impression. They were of the gay world, and
yet in a great measure not of it. Sara and Don
ald were so fresh and unstained by it, and the
old colonel brought into its light atmosphere
just so much of the military atmosphere as added
a grave yet gracious dignity to the most frivo
lous amusements.

To the marriage ceremony every Highland
gentleman and lady in the Kintail district had
been bidden ; and the old church of the crusader
was crowded with life and beauty. But among
all the women there Sara Torquil was the love
liest. The red-brown of her hair, the deep blue
of her eyes, her fine color, her tall figure clothed
in glistening satin, gave her a starry look, which
may be felt or might be painted, but which
eludes words. " Such . a handsome couple !"

Tasmers Summer. 285

" Such a suitable match !" " Such a fortunate
woman !" " Such a happy man !" These and
many other similar exclamations summed up the
success of Sara Torquil and Andrew Maclane s

They left Tasmer for Sarum Court imme
diately, but most of the guests remained
for longer or shorter periods. Indeed, it was
nearly a month ere the last party reluctantly left
the coverts and the tempting hills, for the
heather was in its finest purple and the birds in
splendid feather. As for Donald, he had
thoroughly enjoyed the festival time. A man
may be in love, but he is not made insensible to
fine company and life that is rapid and vivid by
that condition. And yet he was glad when it
was over. Military service meant a home and
Roberta, and from these two central thoughts
he had planned out an existence full of the
sweetest and purest possibilities. Only ideals,
perhaps, but it is upon ideals the noblest
hunger of the soul is satisfied.



" His hands are clasped and raised,

In the conflict dread ;
His passionate gaze is on the cross

Above his head ;
And scarce more worn and sad

That awful face,
That leans in the heaviness of death

From its high place,
Than the wasted face upturned to plead

For strength and grace."

Near the end of September, Donald Torquil
was gazetted to a company in the Seaforth

" When I received my commission," said Sir
Rolfe, " I said the votive mass for it, with the

In the Trough of the Sea. 287

Tasmer beads in my hands, Donald. Arrange
with Father Matthew the time, and make your
thanksgiving and vows over them."

" I am glad to be reminded of such a good

" How many prayers have they reckoned !
How many sacred promises have they
recorded. They have been wet with the tears
of the penitent and the sorrowful ; they have
been hallowed with the last kisses of the dying.
The vows made upon them cannot be broken
without sin. Be careful, then, of the words you
say, Donald."

It was to Father Matthew that Donald went
with the joyful news first.

" I am Captain Torquil now, Father, and feel
my heart glow with military enthusiasm. The
Torquils may like this or that for a little while,
but they are all born soldiers."

" Man is a military animal, Donald, and he
loves fighting and parade."

" But it is not wrong, Father?"

288 In the Trough of the Sea.

11 This is a militant state, Donald. Have you
never thought of Holy Church as a mailed
warrior ? The light of her drawn sword has
illumined the world. I am glad you have
remembered to make an offering first to Heaven
of your success and your hopes. If God wills,
may He bless you !"

" I am very happy ; and yet Fergus has cast a
little shadow on me, though he did not mean to
do so, I am sure. When he saw me first this
morning, he did not know that I had been
gazetted, yet he said to me : I have had a
dream, and read it if you can ; for I think you
will never be a soldier at all. It was in the gray
dawn, he said, and he saw me draw my sword,
and a hand a woman s hand, white and thin as
a shadow touched the hilt, and the sword fell to
the ground ; and he woke, wet with the sweat of
mortal terror. I laughed when Fergus told me,
but the dream has troubled me."

" Let not your heart be troubled, Donald.
Commit your way unto the Lord ; then, what-

In the Trough of the Sea. 289

ever happens, it will be right. Listen to what
our own saint, the angelic Columba has to say.


This very morning I was reading the song he
wrote, as he journeyed from Tara. It has the
piety of a psalm of David, and the grand, musi
cal march of a chorus of Sophocles :

" Alone on the mountains, I need the help of God only.

" This shall shield me better than a guard of six thousand
warriors, for not even these could avail me aught if the hour
appointed for my death had come.

" The reprobate perish even within the sanctuary ; the
elect of God is preserved even in the fore-front of the battle.

" Let God order my life as it please Him. Nothing can
be taken from it or added to it.

" Each man must fulfill his own lot. The thing which he
sees vanishes from his grasp ; the thing which he sees not
comes upon him.

" It is not a sign nor an omen which can fix the period of
life. Our trust is in One who is mightier.

" I care not for the voices of birds or the casting of lots.
My Druid is Christ the Son of God. My kingdom is that of
the King of Kings ; and I dwell with my brethren at Kellsand
at Moone. "

" It is a joyful, trustful song, Father."

290 In the Trough of the Sea.

" I have always loved Saint Columba. I can
see him, tall and strong and beautiful, lifting the
cross among the barbaric Picts ; I can see him
standing by the side of King Brude on the walls
of Craig Phadric, confounding the Druids, as
Moses confounded the Egyptian magicians. I
can see him preaching in lona, and sitting among
councilors at Drumceath, and I can see him
dying in the ecstasy of a vision of angels. Do
you remember, Donald, that this is the Feast of
St. Michael ? Let us implore the protection and
favor of the angelic warrior for you."

Yet, though Donald went from Father Con-
tach full of the purest and highest enthusiasm,
there was in his heart a faint sough of some com
ing doom he knew not what. Even the saint s
triumphant song had left an echo of the uncertain
and the unforeseen :

" The thing which he sees vanishes from his
grasp ; the thing which he sees not comes upon

He wished he had not heard the words ; they

In the Trough of the Sea. 291

had fastened themselves in his heart like an

He went next to see Angus. He wanted to go
to Ellerloch the following day, and he wanted
Angus to go with him. There was then some
doubt of the wind and weather, but the next
morning was a specially favorable one ; there was
the blue above and the blue below ; a good south
wind, and a sunshine that went to the very heart
of man and nature.

Sir Rolfe saw his son leaving, but he was not
inclined to do anything which would interfere
with his pleasure. Fergus spoke to him as he
was half-way through the court, and Donald
turned with a light laugh and answered his ques
tion. Never before had his great personal
beauty struck his father so forcibly. He looked
as happy as a bridegroom, as handsome as a
young Greek god, when he lifted his smiling
face to the window at which he saw Sir Rolfe
standing, and then bared his head in the sunlight
as a good-bye to him.

292 In the Trough of the Sea.

Ellerloch was reached without any adventure

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe beads of Tasmer → online text (page 11 of 16)