Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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in his possession, not unwillingly left him to his
much needed rest.

In some respects, Roberta s letter was every
thing a lover could desire, in others, it troubled
him greatly ; for she did not fear to face cir
cumstances which he had persistently put away
from his consciousness. Frankly confessing her
love, solemnly declaring that she would marry
no man but him, she yet pointed out how
unlikely any marriage between them was.

138 A Love-Letter.

" My father is not more determined to separate us than
your father will be, so soon as he knows of our affection.
Dearest Donald, love cannot be good if it makes sorrow and
sin ; for love is meant in some way to make us better, not
worse. Oh, yes, it is meant to make us better, even if it be
by the sad discipline of self-denial. My duty to my father
is an old and a dear duty. He has been father and mother
both to me, and I love him as he loves me. When he seems
to be unkind or despotic, I know that he punishes himself
more than he punishes me. This is a matter of conscience
with him, and I am sure that he will never change. To
spare my life, or his own life, he will not take back one word
of his decision. I feel sure Sir Rolfe Torquil will be equally
stubborn. What hope for us remains then ? If you aban
doned your faith, I should despise you. I should say, if
Donald is recreant to his religion, how can I trust his affec
tion ? It is quite certain that I shall stand firm in the faith
which I have been baptized in. One day, perhaps, you may
be your own master, and I be left without any one to control
my actions ; but dare we think of such a possibility ? We
should be wicked indeed, if we did not tremble to enter the
gates which death set wide for love."

Much more in the same tenor Roberta wrote ;
mingling the bitter words with sweet ones, and
yet nrmly refusing to encourage hopes which
could lead to nothing but misery. " Such love
is mockery," said Donald ; " why should we be

The Love-Letter. 139

permitted to meet, only that we may love and
suffer? It is an irony of fate." And then, with
strange, sweet, sorrowful power, Roberta s
words stole through his memory, and frightened
him : " Love is meant to make us better, even
if it be by the sad discipline of self-denial."

As he was musing on this subject, a servant
brought a message from his sister. They were
to dine alone, she said, and she had ordered the
meal to be served in her own parlor ; and would
Mr. Donald please not to keep the fish waiting?

Sara was in unusual spirits. Two or three
things had happened which pleased her ; and
she was desirous to talk about them. Donald
was generally her confidant ; she was almost
glad when Sir Rolfe decided to eat his dinner in
his own room. There was something delightful
in discussing pleasant events over a nice dinner,
and she reflected that Donald was always appre
ciative of fine fish and perfectly cooked grouse,
and delicate dessert. Few men are not so, even
under depressing love-affairs, and the young

140 The Love-Letter.

man s face brightened at the sight of the cheerily
lit room, the elegant table and the beautiful girl
who welcomed him.

The pleasant meal over, Donald and Sara
turned their chairs to the fireside.

" I have had two very agreeable things hap
pen to me this afternoon, Donald ; father gave
me the key oi mother s laces grandmother s
will go to your wife, he says these are some
ol them ;" and she lifted some flounces from a
work-basket at her side. " I was darning them a
little ; are they not lovely ?"

" They look very yellow."

" Barbarian ! That is part of their loveliness.
Look at this pattern. It is the crown and lilies,
and was lost at the French Revolution. I assure
you it is priceless. I am to have her jewelry,
also, when I go to London. I wonder if it is

For a moment, Donald s thoughts went back
to the mother he could just remember. He had
one or two sacred memories of her which he

The Love- Letter. 141

never named, but jewels did not make any part
of them.

" I never saw mother in jewels," he said.
" She seemed always to wear a white dress, and
to be lying on a sofa. Poor mother ! She was
so young to die, 1 think father must have missed
her very much. Why has he not come down-
stairs to dinner ?"

" He is not very well ; but he was good to me
about my London visit this morning. I am to
have five hundred pounds, and more if 1 require
it. I understand, though, Donald, that he
intends this to be my first and last season. I am
to have my chance, dear, and I am expected to
make the most of it to marry, and to marry
well, Donald."

" When are you going ?"

" I had a letter from Aunt Moidart this morn
ing. She thinks I had better come to her as
soon as possible. In another month, the roads
will be blocked with snow or else be roaring

142 The Love-Letter.

" Not quite as bad as that. I shall miss you,
Sara. !

" I hope you will, dear. However, father
intends to keep you very busy. There has been
a large correspondence opened, and you are to
attend to it. I heard Lovat and father saying

" Is Lovat coming back soon ?"

" No ; he has Lord Lenox s affairs to attend to

" Why does he trouble himself about so many
sick estates ? I should be afraid of the man.
No doubt he has his own interests to attend to,

" I think you are mistaken. Simon Lovat is a
character. He takes his proper fee, of course :
but he really finds the keenest pleasure in turn
ing poor estates into rich ones. He loves
money because it is money. He loves to see it
increase. He expects a piece of land as big as
my pocket-handkerchief to do its duty and add
to the rent-roll. Father says Lovat cannot hear

A Love-Letter* 143

a large sum of money mentioned without having
a palpitation of his heart. When he counts
gold or notes, his face flushes like a girl s. I
suppose he has the same pleasure in bringing
riches out of poverty as a doctor has in a
desperate case, or a soldier, in a forlorn hope."

" It is the love of chase in us, Sara. All men
have the passion in some form or other. Even
in our high civilization we are constantly exhib
iting the stealthy or cruel instincts of ancestors,
who were, both as regards men and animals,
mighty hunters before the Lord or the

" We are wandering from our subject, which
was London. I suppose this season may decide
my fate, Donald."

" Don t be in a hurry, Sara. Girls are so apt
to take their first offer, and it is very often a bad

" Do you think so? I have had my first offer,
Donald and refused it at least, I suppose it
was a refusal."

144 -A Love-Letter.

" Oh ! It was Lenox, I dare say. I am glad
you refused him. I always thought him mean
enough, and he is simply devoted to himself."

" You are mistaken every way. It was Mr.
Maclane who honored me."

" Indeed, then, it was an honor. Surely you
did not refuse him ?" And Donald, having
mind of his friend s confidence in him, listened
anxiously for her answer.

" I do not love him. What is love ? Were
you ever in love, Donald ? Do poets and novel
ists tell the truth about it ? If so, I am not in
love with Mr. Maclane, and I told him so."

" Did that settle the matter?"

" No. He said he would be satisfied with my
respect and friendship. He thought respect
and friendship a safe foundation for marriage.
Do you, Donald?"

" It might be only, Sara, if if, after marriage,
you should meet the one you could love, you
would feel as if you had turned the key on

A Love-Letter. 145

your own happiness and you must stand outside
of it forever. That would be dreadful."

At this moment Father Matthew Contach
entered the room.

" My children," he said, " can I sit beside you
for a little while ?"

They made room for him joyfully ; but it was
not many minutes ere Sara saw that he was
troubled, and she said :

" Something has grieved you, dear Father ?"

"There is trouble in the village, Sara. I
came up to see Sir Rolfe about it ; came
through the rain, hoping to spare some hearts
an anxiety ; but Sir Rolfe will say nothing on
the subject to me. He is not ready to speak
yet, he says, and surely he is not bound to do so
until he is fully persuaded in his own mind ;
but when the heart is sad hours are so long. I
thought to end suspense, that was all. Well,
Sara, and so you are going to London ?"

Then he put away all his depression and
listened with interest and pleasure to all the

146 A Love-Letter.

hopes of the gay, glad girl ; now and then, as
it seemed wise and kind, reminding her of the
duties that must not be forgotten. Indeed, his
interest in Lady Moidart s letters, in the season s
promises, in the great people and great festivals
of the world so far removed from him, appeared
so keen and sympathetic, that Donald felt a
kind of sorrow in the seclusion of a man so
learned, so splendidly manly, and yet so Christ-
like ; and with the impulsiveness and want of
tact common in youth he ventured a remark
which implied this feeling.

Father Matthew neither resented nor denied
the supposition. He looked thoughtful for a
few moments, and then answered :

" I think, Donald, that all priests feel some
times the weight of the cross which they have
voluntarily lifted, and which they cheerfully
bear in the main. Christ felt His cross heavy.
As for myself, I never regret such moments of
weariness ; they are only momentary, and from
them the soul triumphantly rises.

The Love-Letter.

The cross is strength ; the solemn cross is gain.

The cross is Jesu s breast.

Here giveth He the rest
That to His best beloved doth still remain. "



" We sowed the seed and reap d the grain, with thankful

hearts and kind ;

Our cattle grazed upon the hill that rose our homes behind ;
And so we dwelt in peace and rest for many a changing


Not rich, but riches never made a home so doubly dear.
The spirit of the olden times, that blazed so bright of


Had died away, and no one spoke of faith or honor more ;
And the race that for a thousand years had dwelt within the

Were rudely summoned from their homes, to beg as broken


It was a day of extreme winter gloom and
storm. In Tasmer there was nothing to be done
except to submit to the tyranny of the elements,
and to make the best of such sources of comfort

Father and Son. 149

and amusement as were to be obtained within
the castle. Sara was in London, and Sir Rolfe
had been for two weeks the subject of singular
mental indecision or conflict. He had rather
avoided than sought his son s society ; and
Donald noticed that the work to which he had
been so earnestly devoted was entirely
neglected. The papers and estimates lay upon
a table in his room, but he did not refer to them
in any way when they were together.

Their companionship had not been very cheer
ful. The two men had no subjects of mutual,
engrossing interest ; and each was aware of a
certain lack of confidence in the other. As far
as Sir Rolfe was concerned, the lack was pain
ful to him. He had looked forward with pleas
ure to the hour when he might make his son his
coadjutor and friend. Their work had been
laid out for these very two weeks in which he
had felt compelled to stand still, and unable
to solicit either the confidence or help of

150 Father and Son.

Father Matthew was the man that troubled
Torquil. On that wet night, when he had
walked up to Tasmer through the storm to
reason with him, he had said some words which
had made Sir Rolfe very uncomfortable about
his projects. Since then the worldly element
and the religious element had been having a
fierce struggle in his heart. He was not a man
able to stand between two opinions, if the opin
ions were of any moment to him ; and he was
sure that until he was quite persuaded in his
own mind, he would never succeed in carrying
out his wishes.

So the papers lay upon the table, and he
walked up and down and argued with con
science. He was much also in the oratory ; his
regular religious duties did not satisfy his
spiritual scruples ; he had imposed special obser
vances upon himself. But the truth was, he
looked not for direction ; he did not want to
know what to do. He had made up his mind
what to do, and he was vainly trying to stumble

Father and Son. 151

upon something which would justify his course
to his own heart. And he had two weeks of
uncertainty, and of specious reasoning, ere he
came to the moment in which he said firmly, and
without a shadow of regret :

" I will do it. A man s first duty is to those of
his own household."

The decision was arrived at early in the morn.
He had just risen from his prayers. He was in
the clearest and calmest of mental moods. He
was devoid of all irritations, physical and
domestic. The resolution sprung up in a
moment, matured, firm, certain. No pity, no
doubt, troubled the new-born conclusion. He
was surprised they ever should have done so.
He wondered where such weakness had come
from, and equally where it had gone to. Alas !
It is not always the angel can strive. There
comes a moment when a man is permitted to
take his own way.

He walked to the table and put his hand upon
the plan of the Tasmer estate. Never had he

152 Father and Son.

opened it with such pride and affection. He
spread it wide, and stood looking at it. Nothing
else was required to confirm all his will. He
was even conscious of a sudden and quite
remarkable access of pride in his heritage, and
of affection for the honors pertaining to so long
a succession. The gloom of the day, the storm
raging on the ocean below him, the- wailing of
the great winds through the firs, added a somber
grandeur to the moment, and in some way made
a sympathetic atmosphere of the stern realities
of his thoughts.

After breakfast he sent for his son ; and Donald
knew as soon as he entered the room, that some
decisive hour had arrived. Sir Rolfe was stand
ing on the hearth, and he looked as he might
have looked when he kept the Kyber Pass with
a handful of men around him and only two
words in his mouth "No surrender." He put
out his fine white hand and clasped Donald s
hand, hard and brown with handling of oars and
the tan of the salt sea wind.

Father and Son. 153

" Good morning, Donald. I want to talk with
you. I have come to a point in which I need
your help. Let us sit down."

His manner was affectionate, but tinged with
an air of authority which Donald always found
it difficult to resist. He walked to the table,
took from it the Tasmer map and laid it open on
a small stand between them. Donald was well
acquainted with the history of the family, and
Sir Rolfe touched no longer upon it than he
judged necessary to rouse the younger man s
pride and interest. But he spoke more fully and
feelingly on the poverty of the house during
the past four generations.

" If we had only been sensible and declared
for the German house in A. D. 1745, we had
been Earls of Ross," he said, with some bitter

" They that were before us, father, did the
duty of their day. You and I would have done
the same."

* I should never have gone with the Stuarts."

154 Father and Son.

" The Stuarts, however unworthily, repre
sented the true faith. You would have ranged
yourself on that side, I am sure, father."

" Let the Stuarts pass. The family we have to
consider is the Torquils. We are poor, and we
ought to be rich. We have a rental of six thou
sand pounds, and we ought, in bare honesty to
ourselves, to have a rental of twenty thousand
pounds. The rental ought to increase every
year. If we follow out Simon Lovat s plans, we
shall be rich in ten years. We may become a
political power, and by a judicious selection of
party and persons, recover our earldom. Then
we will rebuild Eilan Donan and rule in Kintail
as our fathers did."

Donald was young and enthusiastic, and his
bright, eager face answered the steady glow of
enthusiasm which made Sir Rolfe potent enough
to realize all his ambition.

" Examine this map, Donald. Glen Mohr can
be rented to Maclane for two thousand pounds a
year. Torquil woods for nearly an equal sum.

Father and Son. 155

All the moors and hills back of them must be
put under sheep. Tasmer braes will alone feed
a flock of three thousand."

" The people of Easter-Torquil have always
grazed their cattle on the braes. Will your plan
interfere with them ?"

" They will interfere with me; very seriously
interfere with me ; and I intend to resume my
rights this year."

" Have they not, also, some rights in the
braes ?"

" None whatever. Each cotter rents from me
his house, and five to ten acres of land ; he rents
year by year. Some foolish Torquil permitted
them to graze their cattle and sheep on the
braes, and they have gone on doing so, until they
take as a right what was originally a favor. I
want the braes for my own sheep now."

" I am afraid they will think your resumption
of the land very unkind in fact, a great wrong."

" 1 am prepared for that. At the first whisper
of my intention, they took their grievance to

156 Father and Son.

Father Contach. Greatly to my surprise, he
stands with them ; and he came up here one
night came through a rain-storm to make me
very uncomfortable. Since then, I have fully
considered the course I intend to pursue, and I
have satisfied myself that I am doing quite

" If they refuse to give up grazing their cattle
on the braes ?"

" I shall then refuse to rent them cottages and
crofts. They acknowledge that the grazing
claim is contingent upon the possession of the
crofts and cottages which I rent them. Very
well, then ; I shall not rent them cottages

" But, father, they have lived in Eastern-Tor-
quil as long as we have lived in Tasmer. They
bear our name. They share our blood. Their
ancestors stood by ours through many a cen
tury. But for their bravery, the Macdonalds
had long ago driven us from our lands."

" The Macdonalds have to mind the law now."

" Ay ; but the Macdonalds burned us out in

Father and Son. 157

1539. It was under Donald Gorm. Then the
bravery of these men s ancestors won back our
house and land."

" The Torquil led them, sir. They were his
clan by inheritance, bound to follow him, bound
to fight for him."

" Nay, father, the clans were originally owners-
in-common of the soil ot their native district.
They elected their chief. Even down to the
days of Culloden the clans enrolled themselves
under one or other of their feudal nobility, as
they preferred. They always had a right in
the land which their arms conquered and

" You are going too far back, Donald. It is a
far cry even to Culloden. We are talking of
the nineteenth century."

"Justice is not altered by the lapse of time."

" Donald, I can allow a great deal for the
romantic notions of a young man, but I have not
the inclination to discuss questions which affect
us no more than what is going on in Jupiter. It

158 Father and Son.

will be your business to call together the
crofters of Torquil and Easter-Torquil, and also
the ten families in Glen Mohr, and try and
induce them to return peaceably the land so long
loaned them. They must be made to under
stand that there is no law in Scotland to prevent
my resuming possession of my crofts and
cottages, and, consequently, of all grazing

" If they refuse ?"

" They must leave this part of the country.
That is the only alternative. The whole of
Tasmer is going under sheep, except the deer
forests. I should prefer to have them leave.
Indeed, I do not see what the people in Easter-
Torquil can do else. They are not fishers, and
without grazing-land they cannot be farmers.
As soon as the weather permits, I wish you to
see them. Explain the matter as kindly as pos
sible, but let them understand clearly nothing can
alter my intentions. The tie between us must

Father and Son. 159

be broken, but I wish it broken as gently as

" I am sorry to disobey you, father, but there
is absolutely nothing in life which would make
me tell an honest, pious, hard-working Torquil
to leave the land."

" Do you think you are wiser and better than
all the Highland gentlemen who have followed,
or who are about to follow this course ? Tor
quil braes will carry three thousand black-faced
wedders, but how can I feed my sheep if every
cotter in Torquil puts his also on them ? Prop
erty has its rights, Donald."

" Property has its duties, also, father. How
could I go and tell Rory Mackenzie to take his
twenty sheep off the braes? The thing is impos
sible !"

" Well, sir, then the sheriff must do your duty.
He may do it less kindly, but your pride and
feelings will be spared."

" Even as a matter of prudence, father "

" What do you know of prudence ? Lovat s

160 Father and Son.

maxim is the true one in this case when it will
pay a landlord to turn cultivated land into a
sheep-run, or a deer forest, the land never ought
to have been cultivated at all. You know well
how much there is to do every winter for the
cottagers. They are cold, hungry, sick, and it is
to the Torquil they come. The situation is
demoralizing to them, and unjust to me. It is
high time we stepped out of the middle ages."

" But there should be some preparation,
some "

" Donald, there is nothing more tiresome than
a man who persists in making a dead idea of

" Are justice, kindness, honesty, dead ideas ?"

" Feudal chivalry and romantic self-denial are.
Lord Macdonald has banished the peasants of
Sollas at sword-point. Colonel Gordon removed
every crofter from Barra and Uist by legal pro
cess. Breadalbane has turned thirty thousand
of his acres in Glenorchy into a hunting-park.
Sutherland, Argyle and Athol are doing the

Father and Son. 161

same thing on their estates, on a much larger
scale. When an age grasps an idea and resolves
to carry it out, it is ridiculous to champion one
in antagonism to it. I have a right to expect
your help in carrying out plans which are so
important, not only to yourself, but which
embody the welfare of those who are to follow
you. In our position, it is a shame to only con
sider personal likes and dislikes. A true noble
man looks backward and forward both ; only
the peasant soul begins and ends all controver
sies with and in himself."

He spoke with an air of grieved melancholy,
and Donald felt unable to put into speech the
passions which made such a turmoil in his
breast. Perhaps indignation that he had been
selected as the tool of oppression was the most
dominant feeling. He had spent a part of
nearly every year of his life at Tasmer ; he had
visited in the cottages, been petted by the old
men and women, gone on the hills with the
hunters, been taken by the fishermen in their

1 62 Father and Son.

boats. Sir Rolfe, who had been educated in a
French seminary, and passed from it into the
army, had no such intimate knowledge of the
Torquil peasants. To him they were simply
tenants, with some very indefinite and undesira
ble claim upon him because of relationships in
the past ; and in his heart he regarded this claim
as far more of a nuisance than a pleasure. A
tenantry of peasants who were not Torquils,
who would treat him with less affection and
more subservience, would much better suit that
taste for power which military authority had
developed in him.

Yet, in deputing the task of warning the
people of the new order of things to Donald,
Sir Rolfe had no desire to shirk unpleasantness
for himself. He could have sent the factor as
his representative, but he really wished to give
a more kindly air to what he knew was an
unkind proceeding, and also to divest the move
ment of that element of law so offensive to the
Highlandman. He wanted his own way peace-

Father and Son. 163

ably, and he believed that Donald would not be
opposed, where the factor or sheriff might come
very badly off. Donald, however, was stubborn
in his opposition.

" If this sorrow must come to our people," he
said, " do not make me the bearer of it. I
cannot do it, sir. I might, indeed, deliver your
words to these poor friends oi mine ; but if they
wept, I should weep with them, and if they
were angry, my heart would burn with theirs."

" Some fathers would bitterly resent such a
speech, sir. 1 have been much among young
men. I know their illusions and affectations,
their impulsiveness and assurance, their quixotic
ideas of generosity and equity. Twenty years
old has a standard of right and wrong which

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