Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The winning of Lucia : a love story online

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Organized 1792. Incorporated 1794.


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By Amelia E. Barr
AI Ae Days of my Life

•n Aatobiography

Pk jicf wilk Fire
Tlw Wiuringof Ucb


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It is my inothei: Calling*' mc!'"

[Page 174I

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AMELIA E/^ARRitrvv. t^^doifT.


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6 2. O


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OCT 8 1941 /



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Printed m the United States of America

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Abbot's Rest z

Tbe First Wrong Step i8

Love Came Too Late 36

The Way or Temptation 51

It Might Have Been 74

Live at Abbot's Rest 91

Love's Young Dream 106

The Knock AT THE Door 131

Love AND Death 160

Tms, Too» Wnx Pass Away 181

Love in Idleness 226

Death Redeemeth Lmc 370

Love Hath Everlasting Remembrance ... 307

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* It 18 my mother calling me! * " Frontispuce

** Lord Fenwick leaned against the high oak mantel,

perfectly calm " 26

** Before Geoffrey could repeat the name, Colonel
Ragnor had . . . fallen senseless on the
floor" 78

** She whispered, * Geoffrey * and his arm was round

her" 324

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abbot's rest

Her heart looks down and up,

Serene, secure.
Warm as the crocus cup.

As snowdrops pure.

WHEN Colonel Robert Ragnor bought Ab-
bot's Rest, there was a good deal of in-
terest and curiosity aroused among the
gentlemen of the neighborhood. For the Colonel had
stood for many years in the van of military opera*
tions both in India and Africa ; and Abbot's Rest was
a lonely house in the cleft of the mountains by
which it was surrounded. True, the village of San-
dalside was only two miles away, and the beautiful
towm of Kenton within a morning's drive, yet the
place was so mountain-locked that anyone climbing
to it would have said, ''I and the wind are the only
things stirring as far as the eye can see.'*

But the Cistercian monks, who settled on the spot
in the eleventh century, made no mistake in selecting

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this location. It was a warm nest in the hills and
the plateau on which their monastery stood a real
garden spot of about sixty acres. The rains of cen-
turies had brought it from the hills whatever they
had to give, and the brothers had planted round
their home a beautiful and bounteous garden.
Fortunately, in all the changes and neglect that had
befallen the property the garden had not been altered.
It was yet conventual in character, and the Colonel
would have none of its peculiarities modified.

The house had been subjected to restrictions of
the same kind. It was a long, low Tudor structure,
built of the gray stone abounding in the vicinity, but
Time had clothed it in ivy, even to its fanciful stack
of chimneys; and the ivy was full of birds* nests, not
one of which would the Colonel suffer to be de-
stroyed. Being built on the old conventual founda-
tion, there was abundance of space; and the rooms
were large, though not lofty. Wider windows, and
more windows were inserted, all the comforts and
luxuries of nineteenth century housekeeping intro-
duced, and it was richly and appropriately furnished.
But outside of such minor changes. Abbot's Rest was
permitted to remain as it had been for centuries.

These changes occupied a year, and during that
time Colonel Ragnor visited Sandalside frequently.
But though courteous and charming in all his rela-
tions, he was so far reticent that no one felt at liberty

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to question him concerning his family. Finally specu-
lation was tired of its own imaginations, and when,
in the following spring, he suddenly took possession
of his house, the circumstance was almost as fresh
and pleasant as if it had been quite unexpected.

He was fortunate in the time of his coming. It
was in May, when the mountain streams, bom in
the snow, and tossed with the north winds, were the
loveliest, loudest, wildest things in nature. One of
them took its way through his garden, hurrying down
through archipelagoes of bowlders, and flashing over
them in tiny waterfalls or resting in the deep pools
where the trout were lying under the swaying elder
boughs. All the landscape was flushed with delicate
greens, and the larch copses were especially the f resh^
est and greenest of all spring sights. Birds were sing-
ing in every tree, and from the deep valleys came the
charmful, haunting cry of the cuckoo's double note.

The family of the Colonel, about which public
interest had settled, proved to be a very small one;
only a girl of ten years, her governess and maid.
There was beside a middle-aged woman who was
nominally the housekeeper, but whose authority on
all domestic matters was usually undisputable. For
she had the care of Miss Ragnor from the hour of
her birth ; and governesses and maids had come and
gone and doubtless would come and go, just as Mrs.
Ann Idle desired they should do.

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Many people pitied the child in the lonely house
with no company but her father, her teacher and the
querulous Ann; but there was no necessity for pity.
The Colonel and his daughter were true companions,
and Ann loved the child. Her father taught her to
ride, and made her as much at home in the saddle as
in her rocking-chair. He took her with him to the
trout becks, and she soon learned to coax the speckled
beauties home with her for dinner. On wet days and
in the evenings she sat at his side helping him to make
the different flies necessary for the fishing in different
months ; and it was her fancy and pleasure to fasten
them round his fishing cap. If there was company
she stayed with Ann, and watched or helped her in
whatever she happened to be doing.

Of course there were lessons, but they were put
in as weather and a variety of attractions permitted,
for she learned rapidly, and there was not as much
expected from girls then as there is now. Still when
his daughter was sixteen years old, it struck the Col-
onel that she required something she was not likely
to get at Abbot's Rest, and he entered her at a
famous school in London for two years. Not un-
pleasantly the two years passed and then the Colonel
brought his daughter triumphantly home. She was
now all his own, and he counted the years during
which she was likely to be so. Not quite eighteen
yet, she would not think of marrying until she was


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twenty-five. That was the proper date for an Eng-
lish girl of good family to marry, and he felt sure
that Lucia Ragnor would always do the proper thing.

She was very beautiful, with that fresh, young
beauty which had bloomed and browned in the winds
and the sunshine. Her face was finely formed, her
gray eyes large, sparkling and darkly lashed, and her
color exquisite. She had abundant hair and a good
carriage and an expression so winning that people
meeting her on the street felt impelled to smile as
they passed, perhaps even to wish her ''good morn-
ing," and if they did so they were freshly charmed
with her sweet, glad voice and the courtly ColonePs
lifted hat.

She had been much improved by her intercourse
with girls of her own age, yet she had lost nothing
of that innocent character which loved nature and
was readily made happy by small pleasures. Her
father still had from her a childlike love and obedi-
ence. Ann was still her comforter and counselor in
all her little pains and troubles. She still found satis-
faction in her pet birds and animals, and the flowers
and the trees she had planted were yet sources of
great interest and pleasure. She had come back home
unspotted from her contact with the world.

Yet she had faults enough to keep her from that
priggish perfection so unpleasant and so irritating to
ordinary humanity. She could not help knowing that


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she was beautiful, and she knew it quite sufficiently.
She was respectful and obedient to her father and
even to Ann, but often authoritative to those in sub-
jection to her; generally very good-tempered but
often enough provokingly willful and though fre-
quently visited by great and noble ambitions, just as
often sighing after the pomps and vanities of the
world, which she had heard much about, but which
she could hardly be said to have seen.

During the past summer her father had occasion-
ally taken her with him to informal wood and water
parties, and her beauty and vivacity had attracted
much admiration. But as the winter approached,
the villas around were deserted by their summer resi-
dents, and Lucia, missing the excitement of their
calls and company, did not fail to grumble a little
at her dull life. Not to Ann, however. That busy
woman would never have comprehended her case.
She would have asked:

"However can you be dull, Miss Lucia? Have
you not your piano and your books, your 'broidery
and your rod and pony? Forbye your father and
myself, and a perfect menagerie of beasts and birds,
not to speak of your goldfish and the like. Tm fairly
astonished at you. Dull indeed I Where would you
go to get more sorts of entertainment than you get
at Abbot's Rest?"

"If Abbot's Rest was full of old monks, Ann, as


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it used to be, my sorts of entertainment would be
very proper and suitable, and no doubt they would
consider themselves giddily frivolous with so many
kinds of pleasures and do penance for daring to
enjoy them ; but you see I am not a monk nor even
a nun/*

"God forbid I A nun I Surely you have no
thoughts of that kind."

"God forbid, Ann 1 My thoughts and wishes run
in a directly opposite direction. I want to go into
the world. I mean I want to go to balls and dinners
and races and regattas and see fine ladies and hand-
some gentlemen — young soldiers like father used to
be. I think I should like a lover — a very nice, good
one, you know."

"Preserve us! Whatever are you talking about,
Miss Lucia ? You are no more than a child yet!r I'm
fairly astonished at you I"

"Ann, you know I am nearly eighteen years old —
do not young ladies marry when they are eighteen
or nineteen years old?"

"No, miss, they do not. Servant lasses, and the
like of they poor things may commit matrimony,
when they are just out of ankle tights and short
gowns, for they have often no home worth naming.
But young ladies with good homes and wealthy fath-
ers and rich friends are more circumspect and re-
spectable. They wait till they cut their wisdom teeth


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and know a good man from a bad one. There^s
nothing harder to find out in this life, and before a
woman tries to read that riddle she ought to be full
grown and have all her senses about her, God help
her if she hasn't 1"

"I shall let father choose my husband, and when
he has done so, I shall insist on your looking him
over, Ann. If he has a fault, you will find it."

"Any man you will bring to me, will be full of
faults, I know that much, right now.'*

"What shall I do then?"

"Just bide your proper time. When the hour
strikes, the right man will come — ^if there's any at all

"Oh, Ann 1"

"At the right hour comes the right man, if you
can only keep from meddling — that is, if there's any
man sorted out for you."

"There was none sorted out for you, was there,

"Mind your own affairs, miss. You have nothing
to do with my matrimonial luck, or unluck."

"Pardon me, Ann."

"Ay, I am aye doing that, and you are aye requir-
ing it."

"But, Ann, supposing there is no husband sorted
out for a woman, and she chooses one for herself,
what then?"


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''She builds a cross for herself, and is crucified
on it every day. Now then, this is not a profitable
conversation, and I am too busy to talk longer on
any subject."

**I don't think you are kind to me, Ann. We were
having a very profitable conversation — in my opin-

"I never was unkind to you in all your life, and
you have been in my arms, as it were, ever since you
were half-an-hour old. Run away now, I am too
busy to talk to idle folk longer. Find the Colonel, he
is aye ready to waste good time on you.'*

The conunand sounded harsh, but it is the tone
that ^ves the meaning to words, and Lucia knew
Ann's tones and was not offended. Perhaps no
human being can ever quite take the place of a
mother, but Ann had done so— in so far as her ideas
arising from race, a limited education, and a narrow,
austere creed, permitted her to do.

That afternoon, a still, cold one in early Novem-
ber, Lucia was going to walk to the village. She
went first to ask the Colonel to go out with her, but
found him in blouse and slippers at his easel, painting
with calm deliberation and singing softly as he
worked his favorite tenor song from his favorite

''Oh, father, I was in hopes you would walk to the
village with me. It is so lonely without you."


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"Spare me today, Lucia," he answered. "I have
just caught that 'gleam upon gloom' I have been long
trying to capture. Come to the north window and
you will see it — ^the long shafts of pale sunshine,
glinting through the black clouds."

"We see that effect very often, father."

"Yes, we do, but very often, also, you want me
to ride or walk or make a call or go a fishing, and I
do not like to disappoint you. Today, however, my
easel spoke first and as I am just catching the proper
tints you must give me this afternoon, dear."

"All right, father. You shall stay at home, and
capture the 'gleam upon gloom' effect, and I will walk
to the village for my floss silk, and hairpins."

"Had you not better ride; it is getting late.'*

"I would rather walk. I will be at home before

"Then good-bye 1 A pleasant walk to you," and
as she closed the door, she heard him softly singing

Before leaving the house, she looked into the
kitchen to ask Ann if she had any love letters for her
to mail, or if there was anything she could bring her
from the village. And Ann who was watching the
printing of the butter, did not turn her head, but
answered sarcastically :

"Bring yourself back safely, miss. That is as
much as I expect from you."


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She did not take the carriage road to the village ;
there was a craggy footpath down the fell side, which
would save her half a mile, and she took it. At a
turn she so suddenly met a gentleman, that he raised
his hat and said, '1 beg your pardon, miss." Lucia
smiled, and he returned the smile with such a f rankf
genuine look of honest admiration, as delighted
her. She could not forget the stranger's face,
and she found herself constantly wondering who it
could be.

On her return home she went at once to Ann, and
after an effort to arouse her curiosity asked who she
thought it might be.

**I wouldn't wonder if it was the enemy in dis-
guise. He knows better these days, than go about
like a roaring lion.''

"Ann, if you don't want to tell me, it is of no con-
sequence. You cannot make me believe any longer
that every stranger I meet is a wicked spirit. I can
ask my father or Dixon. Very likely they will know.'*

"Certainly they will know, miss," replied the old
woman scornfully. "The Colonel knows everything
but what is upder his nose; and as for Dixon what
he does not know, is little worth asking after."

Lucia did not answer. She was startled by a laugh
fresh from the heart, and full of pleasant good
humor. She was still more amazed to hear her father
laugh in concert, and it did not take her many min-


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utes to reach the parlor door. As soon as she opened
ity Colonel Ragnor rose and said:

"Come here, Lucia!'* Then he led her to the
same pleasant-faced gentleman she had met on her
way to the village, and said: "Ralph, my dear
friend, this is my daughter Lucia."

"Ah, Robert I" answered the stranger, "I have
seen her before. You are behind time again. You
always were you know. We two met this afternoon,
did we not, Lucia?" he asked as he drew her to his

"Yes, indeed, nearly two hours ago."

"And jpu have not forgotten me?"

"No, indeed I You made on me such an impres-
sion, that I have been seeking information about you
from all I met."

"That is the finest compliment I ever received,
Robert. Where did Miss Lucia get her talent? I
do not remember that you ever paid compliments."

"No," answered the Colonel, "I do not believe I
ever did. Flattery Is a feminine gift, Ralph ; it comes
naturally even to little girls as you may see."

"But your daughter is no longer a little girl."

"Yes, yes 1"

"Or if so, she is standing Vhere the brook and
river meet.' "

Fortunately, this argument was arrested by the
dinner bell, and long before the evening was over,


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Lucia was as much at home with the stranger, as if
she had known him all her life. Her father had
known him longer. As boys, and as young men,
they had lived and studied together, but on leaving
college, circumstances had widely separated them.
Robert Ragnor had married, entered the army, and
subsequently lost sight of his friend; and Ralph St.
Clair had gone into the shipping business, married,
and settled in Glasgow.

A very charming evening followed* Colonel Rag-
nor entered with almost youthful spirits into all their
reminiscences, told tale for tale, and quoted Greek
and Latin puns with perfect naivete and Jaith in his
friend's remembrance of his classics. And then Mr.
St. Clair looked slyly at Lucia, and laughed more
heartily than if he had understood the jokes.

After dinner Luda sang them their favorite Scotch
songs, and was going to close the piano, but Mr. St.
Clair said, *^Let us now hear the song you love best,"
adding, ''I can often read the heart of the singer, by
the songs she sings. Let us have your favorite song."
And without any hesitation and without needing the
help of any written notes, she struck a few chords
and then slipped into a strange, old melody, to
which she sang charmingly:

"If there were dreams to sell,
What would you buy?

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Some cost a passing bell,

Some a light sigh,
That shakes from Life's fresh crown,

Only a rose leaf down.

"If there were dreams to sell,

Merry and sad to tell.

And the crier rang the bell.

What would you buy?"

She rose with the question, wished both a smiling
"good night," and left them to answer it or not, as
they wished. For a few minutes both were silent,
then the Colonel asked in a reminiscent tone, *'What
would you buy, Ralph?"

"A dream daughter, just like Lucia. And you,
Robert, what would you buy?"

"Do you remember the afternoon that we two spent
with Vera Spencer, gathering blackberries in the wood
by Penrith Beacon?"

"Mr. St. Clair made a movement of assent, and
Colonel Ragnor continued, "I would buy a dream of
gathering berries with Vera and of walking — ^no,
floating, home with her in that marvelous sunset,
when we were all silent because we were all too happy
to speak."

"It was a blissful afternoon, Robert." Then they
drifted into that graver conversation, which must
mingle in the joy of every reunion after long years.


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The next morning as they sat at the breakfast
table, Mr. St. Clair asked Lucia how she would like
to visit Scotland. Though he asked Lucia, he looked
at Colonel Ragnor, but Lucia answered, ''I should
like to visit Scotland very much." Her eyes also
sought her father, but Colonel Ragnor was oblivious
of both question and answer.

In another hour their pleasant visitor had de-
parted, but it was a day or two before they settled
down to their life again; Colonel Ragnor was rest-
less and anxious, and a little despondent. Lucia had
hoped that Mr. St. Clair's question would have
solved the problem of the long, dull winter before
her. She almost wished, since nothing had come of
it that he had never visited Abbot's Rest. It was

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe winning of Lucia : a love story → online text (page 1 of 19)