Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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the wind and the water will be our chorus :

"Boat, that bears me through foam and squall,
You in the storm are my castle wall ;
Though the sea blacken from bottom to top,
From tiller to mast she takes no drop.

" On the tide top ! The tide top !

Wide, white breast of the cradling sea ;
On the tide top ! The tide top !

That is enough for my boat and me !

" She dresses herself, and goes gliding on,
Like a lady in robes of Indian lawn ;
For God has blessed her gunnel and wale,
And oh ! if you saw her stretch out to the gale,

" On the tide top ! The tide top !

Wide, white breast of the cradling sea;
On the tide top ! The tide top !
That is enough for my boat and me.

Roberta. 33

" Old rocks, ahoy ! Old hearts of stone !
Stooping so black o er the beach alone,
Answer me true : On the bursting brine
Saw you ever a boat like mine ?

" On the tide top ! The tide top !

Wide, white breast of the cradling sea ;
On the tide top ! The tide top !

That is enough for my boat and me !"

They were singing as the boat cast anchor ;
and as Donald climbed the hill, he burst out
again and again into the stirring, swinging
melody. In the firs he became suddenly silent.
A figure was approaching him a tall, spare
man, with an air of authority and contemplation.
As they met, their faces brightened.

" Father, your blessing !" And in the twilight
of the firs, the father s hand was lifted a moment
over the young head, reverently bared and

" My son, God give you His blessing. Where
have you been ? It is the fifth day since you
left Tasmer."

34 Roberta.

" Northward to the Gairloch. It was a fine
sail. If you had been with us, it would have
been much better. Last night, off Scalpa, we
sang the Ave Mary, and missed your help.
Some fishing-boats were near, and they sang
with us ; but we missed your voice, dear

" Now, Donald, are you going home ?"

" Yes, Father."

" That is right. Sir Rolfe is troubled about
you. You do not please him lately. A son
should be obedient."

Donald s face showed a little resentment.

" I try to be obedient. It is very hard some
times, Father."

" Have you considered well the words I gave
you to read ? It is much more secure to be in
a state of subjection than in authority. "

" But a young man may have an opinion of
his own?"

" If God be amongst us, we may sometimes
give up our opinion for the sake of peace. "

Roberta. 35

" But if I am certainly right ?"

" Although thy opinion be good, yet if, for
God s sake, thou leavest it, to follow that of
another, it will be more profitable to thee.
These are the counsels of one wiser and holier
than most mortals." *

He passed gravely on with the words, and
Donald, troubled at the reproof and the obliga
tion implied in it, reached Tasmer in an
unhappy and dissatisfied mood. It was yet
early, and in the entrance hall he saw Fergus,
the oldest servant in the castle, pottering about
among the antlers and shields and dusty old
flags. As Donald appeared, he dropped all pre
tences, and went to meet him.

" It wass a goot wind that blew you home,
Maistir Tonalt. Sir Rolfe is the angry man;
the angriest man in all Ross, is he whateffer."

" Have I done anything wrong, Fergus, while
I was out of sight and hearing ?"

* Thomas a Kempis The following of Christ. Chap. 9.

36 Roberta.

" You haf been strafaiging aal over the
Minch ; you haf been more as four days away ;
and you know there iss company in the house,
and Sir Rolfe is not in the mood to be doing the
honors to any man, no, nor yet to the saints

Donald made no further remark, but he went
up-stairs to change his sea-suit, fretted and
unhappy. With a heart full of love and of good
intentions, he seemed quite unable to satisfy his
father. It was scarcely the youth s fault, for the
things in which he offended were parts and
results of circumstances which Donald Torquil
had no power to alter or control.*

In the first place, his presence in the castle
was not desirable. There was really no place
for him, no duty to fulfil ; and as Sir Rolfe fre
quently suffered from those diseases common to
East Indian officers, Donald was a constant pres
entation to the nervous, suspicious man, of an
heir waiting for his decease. Generally, he
knew well that the suspicion was false and cruel,

Roberta. 37

but there were hours when he half-believed it,
and when it humored his ill-temper to say so.
That momentary shadow of Donald in The
Torquil s chair, which had darkened his own
welcome home, was, in a dim, unacknowledged
way, the key to the treatment of his son ; per
haps because it interpreted some unvoiced
regret or resentment in his own delayed inheri

Also, he was annoyed by his inability to pro
vide lor Donald without seriously curtailing his
own plans. He felt that the youth ought to
have his commission, but to give it to him
would not only necessitate the outlay of much
ready money, but also the obligation of an allow
ance sufficient, to maintain the honor of the
Torquils among his associates. It was true the
late baron had thus provided for him, and often
at serious personal inconvenience. He could
remember years when his remittances must
have been the result of great self-denial on the
part of the whole Tasmer household. But he

38 Roberta.

told himself that he was placed in very different
circumstances. The late baron had been a keen
sportsman ; he asked no other pleasure or
occupation, and it was economically at his own

The late baron had no daughter to marry ; he
was not therefore compelled to entertain com
pany and to keep up the retinue fashionable
society demanded. Sir Rolfe was fond of his
daughter ; his fatherly instinct toward her was
without a breath of suspicion, and her beauty
was a source of great pride to him. He was
anxious to give her every advantage, and to do
this, and also to make Donald the allowance
suitable to an officer in a good cavalry regiment,
was beyond his power. But he constantly
reflected that Donald was only twenty-two
years old, and that he could very well wait a
little, and allow his sister to have such advan
tages as are supposed necessary for the matri
monial settlement of a girl.

It was such reflections as these which colored

Roberta. 39

the first weeks of life at Tasmer after Sir Rolfe s
return. Still, no one becomes unkind or unjust
at once. There must be an aggregation of small
wrongs, and for these time is necessary. Other
resisting powers against evil were also ever
steadily at work. Sir Rolfe was yet, in the
main, obedient to his confessor, Father Matthew
Contach, a man of lofty ideals and spotless purity
of action ; and still his guardian angel, with
prayers unutterable and never-ceasing vigils,
kept watch over the soul committed to it ; for
other friends may grow weary, and lose patience,
and cease to love, but a man s guardian angel is
his soul s oldest and truest friend ; from his
first breath unto his last breath, it will never
leave nor forsake him.

Eyes watch us that we cannot see,

Lips warn us that we may not kiss ;
They wait for us and starrily

Lean toward us from Heaven s lattices.*

* " For He shall give His angels charge over Thee, to keep
thee in all thy ways." Psalm xci ; 1 1.

40 Roberta.

Thus swayed by opposing influences, Sir
Rolfe was neither wholly good nor wholly bad.
There were days in which his son s candid, joy
ous temper and handsome person gave him
pride and pleasure, and in which he was kind
and even just to him. In such a mood he had
bought the Sea Bird for Donald, and told him
while he was waiting his commission to make
himself familiar with the neighboring coasts and

" For," said he, as he solemnly signed himself,
" they are girt with the solitary caves and ruined
churches of the early saints."

The boat had been a real friend. When the
domestic atmosphere was cloudy, Donald usually
stole away in it, and found upon the ocean s
breast the companionship and sympathy it has
for all who love it. With his own unrest, its
unrest blent, until both alike heard the divine
whisper" Peace ! Be still." Or he drifted on
placid seas into lovely bays, empty of all earth s
noises, but full of the presence of God. Or

Roberta. 41

Angus Mackenzie went with him, and they had a
real fight with wind and waves, and in the close
strait between lite and death, easily forgot the
petty vexations for which there is no remedy but
that sufferance so intolerable to impatient youth.

Very often, however, Angus could not go
with him. The fishing had to be attended to,
and Angus was his father s chief helper. So
Donald ventured out with only a couple of boys
from the village, and gradually learned how to
manage the boat that was " his castle wall," and
keep her cleverly " on the tide top." At first,
when Angus was not with him, he hugged the
shore closely, for the narrow seas were full of
races and contrary currents, and also subject to
sudden squalls, needing not only the most alert
movements, but also a knowledge of the elements
which was almost a prescience.

One day, soon after the Sea Bird had been
given him, he wanted to go northward, but
Angus could not leave the nets. It was an
exquisite day in August ; there would be a full

42 Roberta.

moon at night, and Donald felt all the magic of
the lonely sea by anticipation. He was yet a
novice about managing his boat, and in the after
noon of the second day, a breeze came out of
the northeast, and flew round to the southeast,
with a thunderstorm among the Alps of Tor-
ridon. He had only two lads with him, and
thought it best to up helm and run for it. For
a few miles the boat bore down the wind, the
breeze hardening and the sea rising all the time.
The small topmast was bending like a whip, and
pretty soon it went with a crash that made
Donald, for the moment, let go the helm with
fright. After another blow, the topmast gear
got tangled up with the main rigging, the hal
yards were badly jammed, and though boys
are generally willing to do reckless things on a
boat, Donald s helpers were quite unable to get
the mess cut away.

Fortunately there was a little smack in sight.
It rounded cleverly up alongside the Sea Bird,
and one of the occupants asked what was the

Roberta. 43

mischief. But it was easier to see the mischief
than to listen to any description of it, and before
Donald had finished speaking, the interrogator
and a girl who stood by his side were on board.
Then no explanations were necessary. The girl
took the helm, and the man went to work with
a will, and with Donald s help, the loose gear
was cast adrift and the boat made as snug as
was possible under the circumstances. The
smack had sheared off. The wind was rising,
the waves running wildly, and after a busy, wet
hour, Donald was glad to find the Sea Bird,
under the girl s hand, making for a misty little
cove in the shadow of Ben Bhreach.

Very soon they were in smooth water, and
then Donald looked more closely at his helpers.
The man was evidently a clergyman. When he
put back his fisher s oil-skins he showed the
black broadcloth and white bands of his profes
sion ; and ere Donald could speak, he said :

" I am David Balfour, Free Kirk minister of
Ellerloch. Yonder stone house is my manse,

44 Roberta,

and both I and my daughter Roberta will be
glad to give you shelter to-night. It will be a
bad night, Roberta !"
" It will be a very bad night at sea."
Then Donald turned to the girl who still stood
by the helm. She had flung back from her head
the tartan hood which had hitherto almost hid
her face, and she fully enjoyed Donald s sur
prise. For Roberta Balfour was no ordinary
Scotch beauty ; many people doubted if she
were a beauty at all. Her own sex was inclined
to deny her even a moderate share of good
looks ; but to those who could feel the girl s
charm, she was of the grandest type of woman
hood, tall, supple, strong, full of an intense
vitality, with the free, haughty carriage of a
young deer on the mountains. Her head was
large and finely formed ; she had a great deal of
black hair, strong and wavy ; a wide, low brow ;
large brown eyes ; a nose rather flat, and broad
at the end, with wide nostrils ; and a well-
formed chin below a lovely mouth, red and full,

Roberta. 45

and showing white, even teeth. When Donald
first saw her, it was under unusually favorable
circumstances. She loved the sea, and in an
encounter with its roughest moods rose to her
grandest beauty.

She added a few words of welcome to her
father s invitation, and crowned them with a
smile beyond all words. The evening was like
some blessed trance to Donald. He saw her
moving about the manse parlor, making tea, fill
ing the minister pipe, lighting the candles ; and
he heard her speaking in some glorified tongue,
that only men in love ever hear. Her clear,
musical laugh moved his pulses in a joyful meas
ure ; her little plaintive songs made him divinely
sad. He could not sleep; he did not want to
sleep. He sat by the fire in a kind of rapture,
and thought over every change in her exquisite
face and every tone in her voice. He recalled
her moods and attitudes. He could have wept
with joy.

" I have found her whom my soul loveth," he

46 Roberta.

said, softly ; and the noblest nature of the man
was touched by the reflection. " Blessed Virgin
Mary," he whispered, " Lover of all pure women,
to Thee I offer the first moments of my delight.
And then humbly kneeling, he recited the five
joyful mysteries and the Salve Regina. Doubt
less, it was the first time the Blessed Among

Women had been honored under the roof ; but

Donald thought not, and felt not, any incon
gruity in the whole universe. He had listened
to the minister reading his appointed portion
and making his usual household prayer, and that
as well as all which had been said and done, had
only been a part of the wonderful state in which
he found himself.

For two days he lingered at Ellerloch. He
climbed the hills with Roberta ; he sailed the
bay with her. They went into the garden
together, and he helped her to gather the late
roses, and the raspberries and currants for the
table. He had found his Eden, and, as yet, noth
ing that could trouble had entered it.



It is needless to say that Donald s visits to
Ellerloch were constantly repeated. Under
Roberta s instructions he soon became expert in
handling a boat on that coast. He got to know
every shadow from the blue Canisp and the
white crests of Torridon in fact, Sir Rolfe had
just cause to complain of his continual absence,
his dislike to Tasmer, and his apparent infatua
tion for salt water.

But his disapproval did not touch the real
truth. He suspected no love affair. He was
quite sure that Donald delighted in his boat
because she was his own because he was mas
ter within her small boundaries because to be

48 Cross Purposes.

at sea released him from all obligations to him

Naturally this belief was irritating. Sir Rolfe
was fond of authority, and he had been used to
exercise it. Donald was very like a deserter in
his eyes. The assurance of Fergus that Sir
Rolfe was the angriest man in Ross was not that
September morning very much exaggerated.
And by this time Donald had begun to realize
that his father had some cause to be angry. He
had spent the past five or six weeks journeying
between Torquil and Ellerloch. If the journey
had been the business of the Sea Bird, he could
not have been more regularly upon the water

He expected his father s call with some trep
idation. He was prepared to make apologies
and promises. But a night s sleep had calmed
Sir Rolfe. God s good angels visit men
a-dreaming, and God has lessons for the night
season. Many a man goes to bed angry, and
rises chidden and quiet ; and he tells no one who

Cross Purposes. 49

has been reasoning with him or reproving him.
Donald was astonished and touched by his
father s gentleness ; he felt ashamed of his
neglect, and said so.

" Father, I have made a selfish use of your
gift, I fear. I have been so happy with the Sea
Bird, that I have neglected you and Sara. I
will do better."

" The winter weather will help you, Donald.
However, your duty will now be at Tasmer.
Have you heard that we have visitors ?"

" Fergus told me of Lord Lenox and a Mr.

" Yes. Lenox is the son of an old comrade.
He has inherited very unexpectedly. I met him
in London."

" I never heard you speak of Mr. Maclane."

" I do not know him particularly. He is a
friend of Lord Lenox. But he is very rich, and
I expect him to rent Glen Mohr as a shooting-
ground next year. I shall put up a box for
him before then ; at the present, however, he is

50 Cross Purposes.

our guest for a short time. You will, of course,
do all you can to make the visit agreeable."

He spoke in a hurried, decided way, as if to
prevent any expression of opinion. Donald was
not prepared to speak, and, indeed, he hardly
knew what to say. A sense of indignation was
in his heart, but he was compelled to restrain
the feeling. How could he interfere with his
father s plans ? He remembered that once
before, when he had offered some objections to
a very trivial matter, Sir Rolfe had haughtily
reminded him that he would have the right to
alter it when he was Baron of Tasmer.

And yet his burning cheeks and air of
restraint did not escape Torquil.

" Donald will be hard to manage," he
reflected ; " but, willing or unwilling, the thing
must be done. I stood at bay in the Kyber
Pass, thirty to one against me, and came out
victor. Shall I let Donald and a few peasants,
or even Father Contach, move me ? No ! By
every Torquil that has lived before me, I will

Cross Purposes. 51

do for Tasmer the thing I know is the best.
Donald may be against me, but they that were
before me will be my helpers there is a
good company of them, even if I go no further
back than Knight Murdo Torquil. He could
think forward for his race ; why should not I ?"
And then, moved by some sudden impulse, he
went into the oratory, lifted the old knight s
beads and knelt down with them in his hands.

In the meantime, Donald had gone to his sister s
room. She had been in the fir-woods, and still
sat before the fire with her mantle around her
and her bonnet in her hand. An air of melan
choly or dissatisfaction was on her face. She
did not answer Donald with her usual impulsive
affection. Half-wearily she turned her head
and ejaculated:

"You, Donald!"

" Whom else did you expect ?"

" Any one but you. You live at sea or
somewhere else now. Your talk is of the
Gairloch, but there are lochs nearer, perhaps."

52 Cross Purposes.

" Are you cross, Sara?"

"No; but I am a little out of heart, Donald.
Things have not been as we expected, have
they? Father is changed ; there is no use try
ing to ignore the fact. He has one idea now
money. I see that every one and everything is
to serve this end."

" What has he said to you?"

" That the estate has been sinfully mismanaged
and neglected. He thinks it is his mission to
redeem it. He refers constantly to the Lenox
property, which marches north and east with
Tasmer. It was almost bankrupt when Simon
Lovat took it in charge ; now, it is steadily
becoming valuable. Lovat has been to see
father several times. They talk and talk, and
after every interview father is more thoughtful
and disagreeable."

" Do you know what Lovat proposes ?"

" Father will tell you soon enough. I hear of
clearances continually. There are thirty-six
cotters families in Glen Easter, and Lovat urges

Cross Purposes. 53

their removal. Glen Mohr and Ben Torquil and
Torquil Woods are to be let let, Donald as
hunting-parks. There is not a clachan on the
estate, or a rood of land that is not under consid

" It is the doing of Lord Lenox."

" He advised father, doubtless."

"And it is infamous."

" It is as it is."

" And pray, what have Lord Lenox and this
Mr. Maclane to do with Tasmer ?"

" Mr. Maclane will pay two thousand pounds
a year for shooting over Glen Mohr. Think of
that! The Torquil never had as much ready
money at one time before. Lord Lenox brought
him here ; they came last night, and were off to
the hills by daybreak. Rory Mackenzie and
Ban Maclntyre are gillying them. Father was
angry that you were not at home to go with the

" I am not going to "

" What nonsense ! They are our guests."

54 Cross Purposes.

" Guests do not pay two thousand pounds a
year for a little shooting. Fancy grandfather
renting out a few grouse."

" But Lord Lenox is our guest and Mr. Mac-
lane is his friend."

" Do you like them ?"

" 1 have seen them for about three hours.
Lenox is handsome, masterful, perhaps cunning.
I may wrong him. Maclane, I should think, is a
right-headed, right-hearted man. But I was
thinking of many other things last night ; they
came very unexpectedly, the castle was not in
condition for visitors, and 1 was troubled about
my own dress. Oh, dear me, Donald ! I feel as
if we were in the shadow of some long calamity.
Our happy past is over."

" As for the past, let it go, Sara. It is like a
fire burned out ; it cannot be rekindled. But I
see no reason for you to sigh over the future.
Father Matthew told me to make a special
prayer against that sin. He said it was a great
folly if I saw a stone in the road to immediately

Cross Purposes. 55

begin wondering what I should do if the stone
became a wall, and I had to get over it. Per
haps if there is a stone in our way we may pass
around it or throw it out of the way. At any
rate, it is not a wall just yet, Sara."

Sara rose and drew her mantle around her.
There was an expression of determination on her
lovely face. It was evident that her womanly
instinct had divined the tendency of events as
yet scarcely spoken of.

" You will see, Donald," she said, sadly, " that
for the glory of Tasmer, father will demand our
entire co-operation. You will be expected to
work with Lovat in its clearance ; I to marry
whoever can bring it prosperity."

" Every Torquil is my kin. I will help no
man, not even father, to drive them from Tor
quil braes or Tasmer hills. And if I am true to
them, you will be true to yourself, Sara ? Oh, I
know you will be true to yourself !"

" I can be true as you are to the Torquils.
They are my kin also."

56 Cross Purposes.

There was a moment s silence, and then Sara
moved slowly toward the door. Donald inter
cepted her, took her hands, and said, with eyes
humid with feeling:

" Dearest sister, marry no man unless you love
him. That is a sacrifice far too great. Marriage
without love ! Who can measure such a sor
row, such a degradation ?"

" Are you in love ? You speak as if you were,

" I fear these guests. Lord Lenox

" Is too poor. Father thinks not of him."

" And Mr. Maclane ?"

" Is certainly very rich ; but "

" But what, Sara ?"

" Love is not bought in the market-place."
And with the open door in her hand, she threw
back to him a glance so radiant, so commanding
and self-sufficient, that she seemed to stand for a
moment in its glory and to make sunshine
where she stood.



We do but guess at one another darkly mid the strife

That thickens round us ; in this life of ours

We are like players, knowing not the powers

Nor compass of the instruments we vex,

And by our rash, unskillful hands perplex

To straining discords."

" What talk is there of fathers, when there is such a man
as Orlando ?"

After his conversation with his sister, Donald
took his gun, and passing through the fir-wood
at its narrowest part, was soon on the wild
heath beyond it. He was not a keen sportsman,
and this morning his solitude was more to him
than game. After an hour s tramp, he came
suddenly in sight of a grand stag a mighty

58 Undercurrents.

beast, with a stretch of horns like the half of a
cart-wheel. From his nostrils the breath was
pouring like smoke, and his great yellow body
glistened in the sun. Donald could see the per
fect cup of three points surmounting either
antler, and the animal s bellowing filled the little
corrie with its hollow, angry roar. He could
have shot him easily, and for a moment was
inclined to do so. " For he is a ten-pointer, if
not a royal," he thought, " and it would be some
thing of a triumph to take home such a prize a
respectable introduction to Lenox and Maclane
and father would like it, I know." But he
deliberately let the chance pass. " Poor fellow !

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