Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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or misadventure, and Donald waited the coming
of his love. He left Angus with the boat and
climbed the rocks to watch for her leaving har
bor. Her father was with her that afternoon, and
also a little lad from the village, but he saw her
land and gather some sea-grass, and he knew she
had seen the token of his presence an oar from
the Sea Bird standing in the crevice of the cliffs
for when he was not waiting for her the oar also
was absent.

There was then a certainty that he would have
to wait until the following morning, perhaps
afternoon ; and Angus and he made themselves as
comfortable as possible. They could do a little
fishing or gunning, and they had plenty to talk
about, for Donald had promised to take Angus
to the army with him, and the young fisher was
full of anticipations and eager for information.

The next day broke in unusual beauty.

" A pit too pright," said Angus, doubtfully, at
skies that were innocent of shadows or clouds.

In the Trough of the Sea. 293

In the middle of the forenoon Donald saw
Roberta s boat tacking for the well-known

" My father has gone to a farm six miles away,"
she said, happily, " and we can have a long day
together, Donald ;" and she then made Angus
lift from her boat a basket containing delicacies
of various kinds for their dinner.

Never was there a meal spread and eaten in
such a joyful mood. It was laid upon the sea
shore, and the table was a large, flat rock, and
their seats the dry, warm sands covered with
plaids ; and Angus boiled the kettle and waited
upon the lovers with kindly service, too delicate
to hinder confidence, and yet sufficient for every

After the meal was over he climbed the cliffs
and watched the horizon. It might be the
minister would get home before Roberta and
come out to meet her, or the weather might
turn unfavorable, for sudden change was the
rule on the Minch ; and though Roberta had

294 In the Trough of the Sea.

but a short sail, if change was coming it would
be well to warn her in time.

So quickly went the happy hours away ! At
last, at last there was daybreak in their east.
Donald had got his commission. He was going
to Edinburg in three days. If Mr. Balfour
accepted the call given him he would leave in a
month. They looked upon this call as a really
providential arrangement on their behalf, and
Roberta was certain that he would be accepted,
unless her father heard of Donald s appointment,
which was very unlikely. So the foolish couple,
in the selfishness of their satisfaction, not only
forgot every other love and every other duty,
but with a forwardness of personality that was
sinful in all its elements supposed things of essen
tially more importance to be subservient to
their desires.

But they were unconscious of any incon
sistency. It seemed right enough to their long
ing hearts that the plans of every other mortal
should serve their plans; that two fathers should

In the Trough of the Sea. 295

be wronged and slighted that they might have
satisfaction; that two homes should be filled
with sorrow that they might build their home
upon the ruins. They were the world to each
other, and they had no consciousness of obliga
tions outside their own small orbit.

So that afternoon, the sun shone for them
only, and the sea murmured softly with little
treble sounds against the boats and among the
pebbles for them. They congratulated them
selves on the necessity which had taken Mr.
Balfour from home so opportunely ; they made
pleasant reflections upon the deacons of that St.
Andrew s Free Kirk whose call was likely to be
so propitious to their plans. And in all this
there was nothing of malice, nothing of active
unkindness to others. It was the sin of thought
lessness ; the sin which we are so apt to count
venial, but which is, nevertheless, the great sin
of social life the unconsidered rock which
wrecks far more happiness than any storm of
open enmity, or open wrong.

296 In the Trough of the Sea.

"The minutes go too quickly ! The minutes
go too quickly, Roberta!" sighed Donald.
" But oh ! when all of them will be our own !"

And as they paced the brown-ribbed sands,
hand in hand together, Roberta leaned her hand
some head against his shoulder, and Donald
thought himself, among all the sons of men that
day, the very happiest.

Suddenly Angus called to them from the
rocks, and with eager motions he directed them
to the boats. There was no craft in sight ; there
was no apparent change in the wind. But
Angus had the prescience of a west-coast fisher,
or a sea-bird. He saw the storm afar off. He
urged the lovers to make haste in their prepara
tions. He was almost cross at the laughter and
delay with which Roberta arranged her basket
and made her adieu.

" With this wind I shall be home in twenty
minutes," she said, as Donald lifted her into the
light sail-boat with whispered love words, and
one long good-bye kiss.

In the Trough of the Sea. 297

" We hadt petter pe following her," said Angus ;
** there hass peen time lost, there hass peen too
much time lost you will see that, sir, ferry soon ;
yes, inteet!"

" What do you mean, Angus ?"

Angus was busy lifting the anchor of the Sea

u You will pe seeing what 1 mean, sir ; there is
a squall to the north, it will be here ferry soon
perhaps it may make away to the Skye shore-
put Miss Palfour s poat iss a small poat, and it
will pe like a feather in the plast if it will pe
coming this way and it iss coming and it iss
coming, sir ! Look! Look to the north way !"

" Up with the sails, Angus ! We must keep in
Miss Balfour s wake. Hurry ! We may be too

Even while he was speaking the wind was
veering and changing, and in a few minutes it
was coming down with a roar that drowned
speech ; then the sky grew black, and there was
a woeful moan in the waters beneath it.

298 In the Trough of the Sea.

Angus, who could do anything that mortal
man could do with a boat, managed to keep
Roberta in sight. She handled her little craft
with wonderful skill, and in spite of the fierce
blast was managing to tack for the harbor. Sev
eral men were on the pier watching her. There
was a stir among them as if they were going to
launch a boat and go to her assistance. Donald
stood at the bow of the Sea Bird like a man dis
traught; one moment crying out to Roberta,
the next urging Angus to impossibilities.

At length she was at the bend of the bar. If
she could pass it, she would be in smooth water.
A boat manned with six oars was flying toward
her; Donald could see the minister s form
among them. It was life or death for Roberta
to weather that perilous turn. Angus kept his
eyes fixed upon her. Donald stood with parted
lips and clasped hands, enduring an unspeakable
anguish. And Roberta tacked for the turn with
a desperate skill ; but the sea suddenly came
down like great Bens rolling over each other

In the Trough of the Sea. 299

in fury, and the poor girl evidently lost con
fidence and became terrified. She abandoned
the helm, and, with great effort, reached the
slender mast, to which she clung. Donald was
near enough to distinguish through the murk of
the storm her white face turned toward him.

He called to her with passionate strength, but
his voice was carried away on the great wind
blowing it southward. If she could only hold
out five minutes longer! If she could only tack
so as to get over the bar ! If love could only
work a miracle for her salvation ! Alas ! Alas !
While every eye was turned upon her, while
every heart was praying for her, a tremendous
wave went over the boat, as if there was no boat

A cry of mortal agony blent itself with the
shrieking wind. It came from the miserable
Donald. He was standing at the stern of the
boat, when the billows went over Roberta. The
next moment, the slender mast, with the poor
girl clinging to it, was tossed into the trough of

300 In the Trough of the Sea.

the waves. The swell brought her close to him.
Her face, white as death, lay against the black
billows, and Donald saw no other thing between
heaven and earth. With a loud cry of " Roberta !
Roberta /" with the swift plunge and unerring
aim of a sea-bird, he leaped into the raging



" Yes, love, indeed, is light from heaven ;

A spark of that immortal fire
With angels shared ; by Allah given,
To lift from earth our low desire,
Devotion wafts the mind above,
But heaven itself descends in love ;
A ray of Him who formed the whole,
A glory circling round the soul."

" Had we never loved so kindly,
Had we never loved so blindly,
Never met, or never parted,
We had ne er been broken-hearted."

There are moments in the life of most men
when the spirit takes possession of the flesh and
defies its limitations ; when it dares the ele
ments, and subdues them ; when it faces death,

3O2 Farewell, Love.

and is triumphant over it. It was in the might
of such a moment Donald made his perilous
leap to save his beloved, or to die with her.
He had calculated with more than mortal pre
science the exact moment and the exact space.
As he struck the water, his hand grasped the
floating spar.

But Roberta was almost beyond consciousness.
To his passionate outcry of love and hope, there
was but the faintest flicker of intelligence. He
fancied a quiver in the closed eyelids ; that was
all. Her hold upon the mast was the mechani
cal hold of a death-grasp. She knew nothing ;
but Donald s mind had a supernatural clearness.
He understood in a moment that no mortal
might make his way on those mountain-tops and
in those valleys of watery death, and he looked
consciously toward the rocky beach, where the
set of the tide must carry them. To abandon
themselves to this set was their only hope.
Some wave mightier than all others might lift

Farewell, Love. 303

them above the rocks, which kept the perilous
path to the land.

These thoughts were vivid and rapid as a
flash of lightning. With one arm he grasped
Roberta ; with the other, the sustaining spar.
He turned her dear white face to his own breast.
It was likely that their bodies would be cut and
bruised upon the jagged rocks ; but, if possible,
he would save from ruin the loveliness of his
Roberta s countenance. His own breast should
be its shield.

For a moment or two, they oscillated on the
mighty under-swell between waves ; then a
motion, tremendous as the upheaval of a world,
made Donald aware that the fatal wave was com
ing. He clasped Roberta closer, and with the
great name of * God" upon his lips, surrendered
himself and the being dearer than himself to the
mountainous rush of water to the blinding spray
to the cruel rocks.

He knew no more.

His movements, however, had been appre-

304 Farewell, Love.

hended by the crowd of watching fishermen, and
at their utmost speed, a party made for the exact
point where the bodies were likely to be cast.
Their intimate knowledge of the power and the
set of the tidal currents directed them with a
marvelous accuracy. Five minutes after the sea
had cast them upon the rocky coast, Roberta s
father lifted her tenderly in his arms.

"There is still life here!" he cried. "There
is still life here !" And, with a wonderful
rapidity, the fishers made a litter of the minis
ter s plaid, and carried the girl to her home.

Yet even in moments so precious, with the
sense of wrong burning in his heart, David Bal-
four did not forget to care for his enemy. He
had seen Donald s leap into the storm ; he knew
that if Roberta was saved, she owed her life to
Donald s love and courage ; and bitterly as he
reproached the young man in his mind, he could
not but admire his devotion, and pity his young
life lost. For Donald lay among the rocks,
bleeding from many a wound, and the arm which

Farewell, Love. 305

had encompassed Roberta had been broken ere
it surrendered its treasure. His eyes were wide
open, but quite unconscious. He was dead in
every sense ; he was stunned in every limb.

The minister turned from the piteous sight
with full eyes, and ere he hastened home with
his own child, said :

" Peter Mackenzie, I leave young Torquil
with you. Do your duty for him to the last
moment, and if I "

" There iss no neet to be telling me to do my
duty to the Torquil, Minister. It iss to my own
cottage I will pe takin him. Yes, inteet, thank

Fortunately for Donald, both Peter and his
wife were skilled in every means by which the
drowned are brought back to life ; and in an
hour s time Donald s soul had been reluctantly
called back to the ciay tenement where sore
suffering awaited it. For, though the heart
resumed its regular action and the lungs again
breathed the breath of life, Donald remained

306 Farewell, Love.

unconscious, and it was evident that he had suf
fered some very severe internal injury.

" It iss a fight in the teeth of death he will pe
hafing," said Rosa, as she watched the young
man tossing and moaning through the dreadful

Early in the morning Angus opened the door
of the cabin. He had managed to bring the
Sea Bird into harbor with the tide, and had
easily learned where to look for his young

" He iss ferry ill, Rosa, and why then were
you not going for the minister ? The minister
iss as goot, yes, and petter, than any doctor at

" You will pe talking ferry foolish things
Angus Torquil. The minister iss a goot man
but he iss shust a man, and that iss aal. It
wouldt pe takin God Almighty himself, to pe
helping the man who hat drowndt your only
childt. Yes, inteet !"

Farewell, Love. 307

" Go for the minister, Rosa. It will pe hiss
duty. It will pe pehafing like a Christian."

" There iss times when a man will not want to
pehafe like a Christian. I will not pe asking the
minister to pe safing the life of his enemy."

" Ferry well, then, it iss pack to Torquil we
will pe going ; and you will pe going with us,
mirover, for you are a Torquil and ploot-kin to
Maister Tonalt, and hiss life will pe in your
hands, Rosa."

To this proposition, Rosa willingly agreed,
and without any delay the Sea Bird sailed south
ward. A sad voyage it was, although the wind
was fair and the skies bright. For Donald lay
bound in that land of awful shadows, which we
call delirium, and the tragedy of Roberta s
struggle for life was ever before him. He went
over and over it. Night and day he was watch
ing the girl s hard, brave fight with boisterous
winds and mountainous waves, her pitiful
abandonment of hope, her sudden disappearance,
when all the waves and billows went over her.

308 Farewell, Love.

Terrible hours were spent in that little cabin on
the lonely ocean ; and both Angus and Rosa
were worn out when the Sea JStrd cast her anchor
in Torquil Bay, at the gray dawn of the second

At the same moment the Master of Tasmer
was kneeling in the oratory, with the old ivory
beads in his hand. It was his custom, at the first
brightening of the night shadows, to follow the
advice of the wisest of men : " To prevent the
sun, to give God thanks, and at the dayspring
pray unto Him."* He had risen with a cheer
ful alacrity for the purpose, for his devotion was
a delight to him. It was no lip service ; he
really loved and adored the great Being before
whom he prostrated himself ; asking with a
cheerful and devout confidence :

" Give me grace, O Lord, to do what Thou
commandest, and command what Thou pleasest.

" Give me grace to suffer what Thou per-
mittest, and permit what Thou pleasest."

* Wisdom of Solomon. XVI. : 28.

Farewell, Love. 309

Then full of peace he went into his own room,
and stood some minutes looking out over the sea.
Suddenly he was aware of the feet of men in
regular steps, and his heart grew apprehensive
and heavy "as lead. He opened the casement
with trembling hands, and leaned forward to see
the sorrow that was coming.

Four strong fishers were carrying a mattress
on which his son lay bound. His face was like
clay, his eyes closed, he uttered heart-rending
cries of hopeless agony. Sir Rolfe went down
to meet him. Silently he led the way to
Donald s room ; and so they carried the young
lord to the chamber he had left a few days
before, in all the beauty and radiant expectancy
of love and hope.

Every dwelling is subject to the visits of some
terrible guests guests that lift the latch and
enter in, and ask no man s leave to do so. In
Tasmer s old rooms, pain and death sat waiting.
The sorrow of the day was answered by the
sorrow of the night; and human nature and

310 Farewell, Love.

earthly love would alike have failed, had not the
Christ, clothed in eternal patience, been also
there, \vaiting the hour of need. For it was
spring again before Donald Torquil escaped
from the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

The news of their brother s danger reached
Sara and Maclane in Rome, and they immediately
returned to Tasmer, where they found Sir Rolfe
and Father Contach almost exhausted with their
vigil, and their efforts to alleviate the sufferings
of the sick man. But Sara brought with her two
Sisters of Charity, and the advent of these gen
tle ministering souls introduced some comfort
and order into the worn-out household. But
withal they were sorrowful weeks, full of da}^s
in which love watched breathlessly the struggle
for life, in which the Angel of Death was sensi
tively present, and the beating of his wings
almost heard by the living.

Donald scarcely wished to live ; for he believed
Roberta dead. No one spoke her name, and he
was himself unable to form the question his soul

Farewell, Love. 311

constantly longed to ask. But though she had
vanished from this planet, she must be some
where in the universe of God. His soul followed
hard after her. He tugged at his mortal bands,
as a prisoner at the cords that bind him. " Let
me go to her ! Wherever she may be, merciful
God, let me go to her !" was the voiceless but
constant imploration of his heart.

One night he awoke from a long, long, troubled
sleep. He was out of pain. He was clearly con
scious, he was full of rest, though too weak to lift
a finger. His room seemed strange to him. The
tables were crowded with all the paraphernalia
of severe sickness, and his own special furniture
had been pushed aside to make space for large
chairs and lounges, suitable for the relief of
those who were worn out with watching.

In one of these chairs a Sister sat musing and
praying. Her face was like a holy book. She
was so still and calm, that the slight movement of
her fingers as they passed along the rosary was
noticeable. Donald derived a strange content in

312 Farewell, Love.

watching her. It was like a dream of heaven,
after his long anguish of delirium, and he feared
to see it fade away.

In a little while she rose and came to his side.

" You were praying for me ?" whispered Don
ald, with a great effort.

" I was praying for you and Roberta."

Her voice was sweet and low ; her words were
like the words of an angel to him. He cried out,
as an infant might cry, weak and shrill ; and he
looked at her with such imploring eyes that she
understood him without speech.

" Roberta, also, has been very ill ; but she has
recovered. I was praying for her soul."

He could not answer. That one short, shrill
cry had exhausted his strength ; but large tears
of joy gathered in his hollow eyes ; and the gen
tle Sister dried them, and with holy, hopeful
words soothed him to sleep again.

During his illness Sir Rolfe had watched his
son with a real sympathy. He was glad that
about Roberta they had no hard words and no

Farewell, Love. 313

unkind feelings. From Angus he had heard the
whole tragical story, and his soul was full of pity
for the young girl who had so nearly lost her
life for love of his son. It was true that she had
been in the way of disobedience, and therefore
in the way of sin ; that she had deliberately
chosen her own pleasure, though she had to tear
it secretly through forbidden gates. But he
remembered her youth, and he understood what
a temptation a bright, handsome, adoring lover
like Donald must have been. Indeed, there were
hours when Donald lay on the very shoals and
sands of Time, in which he assured himself that
he would have been reasonable about the mar
riage, and that the tragedy was mainly due to
the proud, impracticable bigotry of Minister

He hoped, indeed, that the love of Donald and
Roberta would not survive the suffering it had
caused them. He knew how often men found
out, through burning fever and bodily pain and
weakness, that their passion was but the over-

314 Farewell, Love.

flow of youth s impetuosity and emotion, and he
quite expected that his son would be cured of his
sickness and his love at the same time.

Possibly he might have been right, had
Donald s love for Roberta been simply the
desire of a young man for physical beauty. But
when love finds the soul of the beloved, then it
is an affection antedating this life, and holding
the promise of eternity. Truly Donald admired
Roberta s personal loveliness ; he felt the great
charm of her fresh vitality, her splendid coloring
and her graceful movements ; but, after all, it
was Roberta s soul he loved the soul that looked
through her loving eyes into his soul the soul
that drew like a magnet all the sweetness of his
own soul the soul that gave to her simplest
words hidden meanings sweet, vague memories
that stirred in him feelings for which he had
no name ; illimitable stretching backward and
forward, recalling, promising, binding him with
a thousand airy bonds, sweeter than life, stronger
than death, not to be broken and not to be for-

Farewell, Love. 315

gotten. While Roberta lived Donald knew that
he must love her. Though she went to the
uttermost parts of the earth, he must follow her.

One day at the close of March, Donald came
up from the village with a letter in his hand and
the strength of some sure purpose in his face.
He met the baron in the fir-wood, and he ans
wered the questioning glance at the letter with
out hesitation.

" It regards my company, father. The fur
lough granted on account of sickness is nearly
expired. I must resign or join my regiment.
It is ordered to Canada."

" Decide your own fate, Donald. We have
grown very close to each other during this sad
winter, and I shall be sorry to lose your com
panionship. I have ceased to expect your
co-operation in the improvements I am making
on Tasmer. I know that your disapproval of
them is beyond reasoning with."

" Have I said anything to offend you, father ?"

" You have given me no intentional offense."

3 1 6 Farewell, Love.

Then Donald remembered that Sara had told
him how passionately in his delirious ravings he
had lamented the dispersion of their sept.
" Our father often turned white to his very
lips." " He was unable to bear your supplica*
tions and your reproaches." " He felt that you
had thought in your sanest hours all that you
muttered and cried in your unconscious state."
So much Sara had said, and Donald understood
that the baron had resigned all hope of his
sympathy. He glanced at the pale, thoughtful
man by his side, and a sentiment of regret filled
his heart. He wished that he could have taken
his father s hand and said: "In all things per
taining to Tasmer we will stand shoulder to
shoulder, sir." But Donald s opinion of the
" clearance" was still the same. He regarded it
as a movement at once unjust and unkind, and
of very doubtful advantage to the barony of

" I think 1 had better join my company,
father. And it is my duty to tell you that Miss

Farewell, Love. 317

Balfour has a right to be consulted. 1 thought
of going to Ellerloch to-morrow. Angus will
manage the boat."

Sir Rolfe stood still and looked reproachfully
at his son.

" You intend really to take again a road that
has nearly cost you your life ? Does your infat
uation for that girl still rule you ?"

" It is not an infatuation, sir. It is love, holy
and strong. She promised to marry me when I
got my commission. I trust that she will still
be ready to keep her promise."

Then Sir Rolfe, with a haughty movement of
dismissal to his son, walked forward without
another word; and Donald was sensible of a
sudden moral shock and a quick physical faint-
ness. He leaned against one of the great fir-
trees and lifted his bonnet and let the fresh
March wind blow across his hot brow. He was
still so weak that the sensation of anger which
first assailed him made him tremble. He had

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe beads of Tasmer → online text (page 12 of 16)