Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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BETWEEN the fertile shores of Ayrshire and the
rugged peninsula of Kintyre lies the beautiful island
of Arran; famous for the grandeur and loveliness of
its natural scenery, but far more famous for the
many romantic ties which link it to the world, and to
the church universal. For here the mighty Fingal
kindled his signal fires when the fleet of Agricola
darkened the waters of the Clyde. Here Ossian
the King of many songs came to wait for that dark
and narrow house, whose mark is one grey stone.
Here settled the great, silent, fighting Norsemen,
who hated lies, and whose religion it was to be brave.
Here Robert Bruce lit the beacon that was the dawn
of Bannockburn. Here the Stuarts hunted the red
deer, and Cromwell hunted the adherents of the

It was also in this fair, rugged land that religion
pure and undefiled took the deepest root; for what
John Knox planted there, the Covenanters and the
Free Kirk perfected. No peasantry in the whole
world are so proud of their spiritual lineage, and so
learned in the Holy Book that makes their title clear

2 The Hands of Compulsion

to an heavenly inheritance brave, hardy, thought-
ful fishermen and farmers, walking erect in the ever
conscious dignity of being sons of God.

Such a man was Robert Brodick, trader and fisher,
whose cottage was in a cleft of the hills between
Brodick Bay and the coast of Corrie. Five hundred
years this cottage had stood in its naked, granite
strength. It had quite often been enlarged and re-
thatched, but its original unmortared stones were
as perfect as when Gillian Brodick first laid them
on the lovely, fertile acres given him by Robert
Bruce, for some great personal service. And
through that five hundred years Robert Brodick
could name his ancestors man by man fighters for
truth and liberty, and followers after righteousness
a spiritually royal lineage, which had moreover many
peers in this little isle of the Inner Hebrides.

One evening in the year 18 he was sitting at
the open door of his house watching the boats drift
slowly out to the fishing ground. He was then fifty-
five years old, healthy and handsome, with the mas-
sive stature of his people, a simple, dignified manner,
and a disposition serious, shrewd and straightfor-
ward the disposition of a man whose heart is within
his head, and who is therefore likely to keep an even
balance between his moral emotions and his mental

Pretty Annie Brodick 3

keenness. Anywhere, and under any circumstances,
he would have been instantly known as the most out-
standing of Scotchmen Scotch as the thistle on the
Scotch hills around him.

But as he sat by his open door this evening, there
was nothing aggressive about the man; he was soft-
ened and made responsive to his best self, both by
inward and outward influences inwardly, well
pleased at a certain circumstance he was waiting to
tell his daughter, meanwhile musing on it with great
satisfaction, and what he considered justifiable pride
outwardly, all nature appeared to be in his own
mood of peace and thanksgiving. The majesty of
the mountains that encircled him the boundless
ocean at his feet the grandeur of the setting sun
the evening songs of the birds the ethereal perfume
from the masses of wallflowers around all these
things spoke to him in that speech which only the
soul understands. And he sighed happily, and
turned his face heavenward, and unto the hills, and
over the blue ocean, and whispered softly in reply
" the sea is Thine, and Thou made it, and Thy
Hands fashioned the dry land."

After a moment's pause he rose, and sighing again,
went into the house place and looked around. His
daughter was not there. " Where at all is the las-

4 The Hands of Compulsion

sie?" he muttered. " She ought to be here long ere
this hour. She knows well I like to have her com-
pany as I sit resting myself a wee in the evening."

For a few moments he pottered around, lifted an
almanac and looked up the moon's age, took the
tongs and removed a big lump of coal from the fire,
complaining as he did so of " such extravagance as
burning fuel just to look at the blaze o' it " then
suddenly he went to the stair foot, and called in no
uncertain voice

"Annie Brodick, what for are you delaying?
I'm wanting to talk to you. Have you fairly for-
gotten that I am all by mysel' ? "

" I'll be downstairs anon, father."

" Make yoursel' in a hurry then."

" No, no ! " and the voice came nearer and ended
in a charming little laugh "No, no, father!
Hurry isn't wise-like. It's yourself I've heard say
many a time ' there's luck in leisure ' So leisure
a wee, I'll be there anon."

" Anon 1 anon 1 " the disappointed man grumbled
as he went back to his chair. " Just think o' a daugh-
ter saying * anon ' to her father, instead o' coming
instanter when he called her. The world is all agee
these last twenty years or mair."

He looked round the world again, but he had

Pretty Annie Brodick 5

lost patience and all things were a little different.
The sun was lower, the mountains and waters darker,
and the wind was rising- He thought it best to
carry his chair inside, and he did not do so without
the reflection that Annie always carried it for him,
when she was present.

In ten minutes he heard her light feet coming
down the stair, and he tried to assume the look of
a man robbed of some of his comforts. But the
sight of Annie dispelled all shadows; when she was
present he forgot her absence. Yet she was no angel,
either physically or morally, only a beautiful woman
with cordial eyes, and beaming face, a glory of
loosely-bound brown hair, and a tall, erect figure,
graceful in all its movements. She charmed, be-
cause she charmed, and if any of us had been her
angel, we would have given her all she wanted.

" Well, father, here I am ! Are you needing me
in particular?"

He glanced up at her with the demure satisfaction
of an undemonstrative Scotchman, and asked
" What for are you wearing that bonnie gown to-

"Do you like it, father?"

He glanced again at the soft blue merino, falling
so gracefully from its silk belt, and answered

6 The Hands of Compulsion

"It's just extraordinar becoming to you. Hech!
If your poor mother, that's dead and gone, could
see you and the lasses o' this day, she would be filled
wi' consternation."

" Admiration, you mean, father."

" Not I. When I was a youngster, the lasses
were wise-like, and a man could hope to find a pru-
dent, loving wife among them; but now! Now, God
help the poor lads ! "

" I'm not doubting but what He'll require to
help them unless they begin to improve themselves.
Women can not, and will not, be kept back, because
the men folk won't go forward. Progress is our
motto, father."

" To be sure. And you call going over precipices
Progress ! "

" And what may. you call going over precipices,

" What you call * athletic clubs ' for one thing.
My old-fashioned, decent principles, Annie, won't
permit me to admire women who do their athletics
in public:" and he sniffed scornfully, and let his
stick strike the ground with all the emphasis of a
stamping foot.

" Maybe they had better do them in public than
in their own homes. Nelly Thompson thrashed her

Pretty Annie Brodick 7

goodman last week with locked doors between her
and the public, and the poor body isn't over the
thrashing she gave him yet. But then he deserves
more than he got so she says."

" Thompson is a meeserable drunken man as ever
lived. I'm not blaming Nelly. Whiles women have
to take the upper hand. They have done so from
the beginning."

" Women won't marry drunkards in the future.
They are learning too much for that folly."

"Sure! Learning! Of course, of course. Women
were the first to pull an apple from the tree of
Knowledge, and I have no doubt whatever, that
they are now bent on stripping the tree from the top-
most branch. They begin with the little, low
branches when they are bairns, and they go up, and
up, till they are clean out o' ordinar sight and under-

" We're getting on bravely, father. I'm proud
to say it. Look at myself for instance. I'm not
taking advantage o' you, as some daughters would,
but I say plainly, I stand more on stepping stones
than my poor mother ever felt free to do."

1 Your poor mother ! What are you meaning ?
Weel, weel, I have never been a match for one
woman if she was civil and I am not fool enough

8 The Hands of Compulsion

to flyte at every woman in the village, or I might
say in the whole o' Scotland, no to speak o' England
and the rest o' creation. Let that subject pass, it
isn't what I want speech with you about, this night.
We have wasted time already, for there's a Kirk
session at the half-hour after seven."

"What for is there a session to-night?"

" Anent an organ for the Kirk."

"Simple foolishness! There's no occasion for
an organ. Our choir is as fine as can be. I'm clear
against the expense o' it."

" You were strong about that grand piano for the
Woman's Club."

" That was altogether a different circumstance."

" I'll likely bring the Minister back with me, and
you can get him on your side o' the argument; for
he's your lover reputit and this afternoon he con-
fessed the same. Most respectful he spoke to me,
as was only proper and becoming."

"Father, whatever are you havering about?"

" About that fine young man, the Rev. Mr. Saun-
ders. You don't require to be told what you know
well. And I say this, he is as good a man, as any
sinful woman ever had the offer of, for a husband."

" I don't care what he is."

'" A handsome, clever young minister forgetting

Pretty Annie Brodick 9

his books for your sake! What are you expecting,
Annie Brodick? "

" Not the Minister. He is the last o' my expecta-
tions and I may say o' my wishes."

" He signified his intention of coming here after
the session, and he will doubtless be offering him-
self to you. Now, I am heart and soul with the Min-
ister, and I hope you will not dare to counter me in
this matter."

"Father, how can I marry the Minister? I
fairly hate his becks and bows, and his * Miss
Brodick's,' his small white hands, and his tight-fit-
ting * blacks.* I, that have lived all my life among
men with the sea and the wind in their hair men
who come home day after day with that grand look
on their faces, that is only got by those who wrastle
with winds and waves in the very presence of death.
I, that know men best in their blue Guernseys, and
big sea boots, and their storm ' oils ' ! The Minister
is not my kind. He is good, and he may be great in
his way, but I know lads that are ten feet high be-
side him."

" But the good man is loving you, loving you, he
says, parfectly and unspeakably."

" I'm not caring for him to speak. What would
a girl like myself do in a manse? And it is a Glas-

io The Hands of Compulsion

gow pulpit he is seeking, and how could I live in the
city, and away from the sight and the sound o' the
sea? I could not. It is simply unthinkable, father."

" Listen to me, Annie. The Minister is well-to-
do. It is not a stipend he is depending on. He has
dry siller in the Bank o' Scotland, and O my dear
lass, I would be fain and proud to see you marriet
on him. It is a great thing to belong to the Kirk
and the ministry."

" Maybe, father, it is just as great to belong to
the men who belong to the sea. The first Kirk was
a boat, and the first ministers came out o' the boats.
I am clear-minded to marry among my own people.
Until my mother died, you were in the boats your-
sel', father, and when you stood at the wheel o' The
Maggie Brodick and led forty sails to the fishing
grounds o' the great North Sea, you were in as fine
a pulpit as man ever stepped to; and you would not
have changed it for the velvet-covered one in any
Glasgow Kirk. I ken that, sure ! "

" You ken nothing o' the dignity and power o'
the pulpit. I'm not expecting any lass to do that.
We'll drop the subject. Just consider a moment the
siller the man has, I was hearing it named at 5000.
He has been aye preaching Progress to you women
folk, and he canna go behind his own words. So

Pretty Annie Brodick 11

then, he has the means to let you take time and op-
portunity to * progress ' to the end o' the world, if
you want to go that far."

" I can go further than that, without his siller or
his teaching. I'm not belittling money, not I, and
I would never refuse it at any reasonable exchange.
But to marry the Rev. Mr. Saunders, and me not
loving him, would be a sworn lie to God and man.
You would never ask me to forswear my own soul ! "

" I would cut out my tongue first."

" I know that."

" There is one more counsel to give you if you'll
take it, Annie, men of the sea differ. Some are
good, and some are bad; and I'll tell you plainly,
that Roy Morrison is not an improving companion
for any good girl. I am saying nothing against his
brother Willie, but Roy is not what he should be.
You be to take care o' yoursel' wi' the like o' Roy
Morrison, my lass."

" Have you heard any special ill of Roy Morri-
son, father?"

" There is a story afloat to-day, but it isna fully
proved yet. I wonder you haven't heard it from
some one or ither. But this, or that, I have taken
the lad's measure, and I think him but a poor crea-
ture. I am judging him myself. I heard him talk-

12 The Hands of Compulsion

ing about women a few days ago to Robert Sennex,
and I know this when lads give bad characters to
young women, they have worse characters them-

"Why did you let him do it, father?"

" I did not let him do it. I very quickly told
him that the lad who spoke ill of women murdered
his own mother's good name. He is a cunning,
stealthy lad, and you will require to read him back-
ward. Forbye he has got up an ugly quarrel with
his brother Will anent you."

" I'll have nothing to do with lads who make
quarrels out o' me; and I shall tell both o' the Morri-
sons that much, quickly. What were you hearing
about the quarrel, father?"

" I will tell you what I heard. It seems Will
Morrison bought a new boat just a small yawl
and he called her The Annie Brodick. And Roy
Morrison also bought a new yawl, and he called his
The Bonnie ^Annle. Last night some ill-willy fool
passed a smirch o' black paint over the name on
Will's boat, and he is thinking it was his brother
Roy's doing and saying so."

" It was a shameful thing for anyone to do. It
was my name they blacked. Are you minding that
fact, father?"

Pretty Annie Brodick 13

" Is it at all likely I'm forgetting it? See that
you keep it in mind. If Will does not get at the
truth, I shall sift the facts myseF till no lie is left
in them."

" I cannot think Roy did a wicked thing like that.
Roy and Will were always brotherly "

" Until you came between them."


"They weren't very brotherly as I passed them
this afternoon. Will was stroking his arms bare to
the shoulder just asking for a fight, you ken and
Roy went by him wi' such an ironical look, and such
a scornful laugh, as might well raise the deil in any
heart not full o' the grace o' God."

" Does Roy admit that he did the shameful

" Roy admits nothing. Like a Scotchman in a
strait, he gets behint his questions. * Does anybody
think he would do the like? Will anybody say he
did do it? Was it likely he would blacken the name
he loves best in a' the world ? Do folks take him for
a fool? What would he make by such a dirty
trick ? ' and the like remarks. And all the time storm-
ing and swaggering like the sea gone mad. I'll just
leave the story to your consideration, Annie. Make
what you think out o' it, but if you would be guided

14 The Hands of Compulsion

into the safety and respectability, the Minister could,
and would give you "

" Father, the Minister is clean out o' the question."

" Well, well, I see that I have spoken too late. I'll
away to the byre, and look after the beasts before I
go to the Kirk. And it comes to my heart this night,
how the Almighty Father felt, when he said by his
servant Isaiah the ox knoweth his owner, and the
ass his master's crib, but Israel his bairns, you ken
doth not know; my people my bairns do not

" Father, I'm fairly ashamed o' you likening your
own leal, loving daughter to those headstrong, mur-
muring Jews, that no King could govern, and that
God himself couldn't please. It isn't kind o' you.
It isn't just. You know well I shall do the thing
that is right, if I break my heart to do it."

"What talk is there of breaking hearts? All par-
feet nonsense! A good heart never breaks. It has
no occasion to break. What you cannot change, you
can call * the will of God,' and if you will what God
wills, then there is peace. Never let me hear you
speak again of any such foolishness as a breaking

He waited for no reply, and Annie was not in-
clined to make one. She walked into the garden,

Pretty Annie Brodick 15

and leaning on the stone wall that surrounded it, let
the fresh breeze blow into her hair and face, and her
eyes wander over the beautiful land. The sun had
set, but there was still a mist of gold and purple
over the mountains, standing like a great host at
rest; yet opening out here and there, into wistful
stretches of daffodil sky. The heavens were full of
stars, which threw into the grey twilight a white
sidereal radiance. Suddenly a thrush sang out joy-
ously, and its song found a quick echo in Annie's
hopeful heart:

" You bonnie bird," she said, as she turned her
head to the bush where the minstrel sang above his
brooding mate " You bonnie, bonnie bird! If you
can trust, I can trust. If you can love, I can love.
If you can sing, I can sing; " and forthwith the soft,
still night was thrilled with a melody so simple, and
so exquisite, that all nature seemed to listen to the
liquid music of notes, that lovers have sung for a
thousand years, and may sing for a thousand years
longer if Love lives, and music lives to speak for
love :

" I love ne'er a laddie but one,

He loves ne'er a lassie but me;
He is willing to make me his own,
And his own I am willing to be."

1 6 The Hands of Compulsion

The disappointed and unhappy father listened, and
sighed heavily, and at the same time almost uncon-
sciously gave the beasties an extra armful of fod-
der. Memory was busy with his heart his wife had
sung the same song to him he recalled one might
in particular, then suddenly checking his reminiscent
self, and muttering " There's no fool like an old
fool," he locked his barn, and going to the house, put
on rapidly his street coat, and with it such reasonable
reflections as a proposed Kirk-session called forth.

Annie walked to the gate and opened it for him,
and he said sarcastically though the sarcasm was
veined all through with unsuspected pathos

" I wouldn't turn poetical for any sake, Annie."


" Ay, I heard you singing love songs I infer."

" Ay, just love songs. What for not ? I was sing-
ing the truth, and there's nothing so poetical as the

"What are you saying? You know well that
truth and poetry are far-off acquaintances."

"Tut, father! Take, for instance, King David's
poetry. No finer was ever written, and all because
it is the evendown truth. Good poetry is always


" I have not the time to refute you now. I'll set

Pretty Annie Brodick 17

you straight some other hour;" and he went dourly
forward. But when he was a little further down
the hill, he heard a faint, and fainter echo of the
words he knew so well

" I loved ne'er a laddie but one,

He loved ne'er a lassie but me;
He's willing to make me his own,
And his own I am willing to be."

And with his stick he struck to the ground a bunch
of nettles he was passing, muttering as he did so,
" I'm feared there's mair truth than poetry in that
old song it is a troublesome world What for are
we wanting organs? there's no comfort in an or-
gan. I'll just vote against it."


WHEN the song was finished Annie stood as still as
if she was listening for its echo. Perhaps she was.
Also, the silent spaces of the Spring evening em-
balmed in perfume of wallflowers was wonderfully
alluring. The bat's fine cry, almost too fine for com-
mon ears, was all the landward sound audible; but
on the beach below, the waves were coming up among
the pebbles with a lively cadence. She was about
to go into the house when she heard a step and a
voice that made her heart ring to the tune they set.
For she had been expecting Roy Morrison. She felt
sure that he would throw up every engagement, in
order to come and clear himself in her eyes. If
he did not, she was prepared to count his delay
against him. But Roy was going to come up to her
expectation, and she glowed and beamed with satis-
faction, as she stood leaning on the old wall watch-
ing his approach.

" Now I shall have the truth, and the whole
truth," she mused; " and things aren't going one bit
farther between us until I get it."

The next moment Roy saw her, as if shining in


Annie's Engagement 19

the dim twilight; a little white scarf across her shoul-
ders, and a white bow at her throat. And he waved
his cap above his head, and came forward as rapidly
as the ascent permitted. He. was a dark, slim youth ;
much sunburned, with curling hair, splendid teeth,
and a voice that might wile a bird from a tree. But
manner is the physiognomy of the mind, and a finer
index to the character than the face. And Roy's
manner was not an assuring one. Women generally
accepted him at his own valuation, and he appeared
guileless to them; but men saw that he never did
anything without reflecting whether he had bettei
do it. He was full of small alluring faults, that
women defended and even forgave; but men made
a clearer estimate of their reason and tendencies,
and therefore in spite of his ha! ha! manner, they
judged him to be selfish and untruthful, and that
without any moral disquietude.

" His faults are in the grain o' his nature, and
what will you do, when that is the case? " asked an
old fisherman of a little company discussing Roy.
" There's no moral or spiritual atmosphere about the
lad, so then it stands to reason, people feel uncom-
fortable wi' him."

" Right, Campbell, you are perfectly right there,"
answered an old schoolmate of Roy's; " in a theo-
logical sense, he seems incapable o' grace."

2O The Hands of Compulsion

"I'm not so sure o' that," interrupted a young
fisher. "I lay it doon as a fundamental principle,
that if a good woman takes up wi' a man, there's
good somewhere in that man. And when a man loves
a good woman, you needna put him down as clean
outside, and beyond the grace o' God. Now, Annie
Brodick is setting Roy above all the men she knows,
and Roy is spelling Life with one word, and that
word is, Annie. I'd put them two facts together,
and give Roy the benefit o' them."

" Surely," answered Campbell. " Give the lad
fair play, but if any o' you are thinking o' making a
friend o' Roy Morrison, I would advise you to get
acquaint wi' him, as carefully as you did wi' your
first razor and then, I'm feared you'll find in
the end, the usual accident wi' razors has befallen

This conversation represented fairly enough the
divided opinion about the young man; but Annie
heard little of the village gossip. . Her position as
Robert Brodick's heiress, and the superior education
she had received, set her apart from the ordinary
fisher or farm girl. And Annie knew her advantages,
and was well inclined to take them at their full value.

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe hands of compulsion → online text (page 1 of 16)