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found her spotless kitchen disarranged, and I thought of her to-day when
I saw those silly little painted faces, and was glad she had been spared
the sight of her descendants.... But what am I raging about? What does
it matter to me, when all's said? Let the lassies dress up as long as
they have the heart; they'll have long years to learn sense if they're
spared.... Miss Reston, did you ever see anything bonnier than Tweed and
Hopetoun Woods? Jean, my dear, Lewis Elliot brought me a book last night
which really delighted me. Poems by Violet Jacob. If anyone could do for
Tweeddale what she has done for Angus I would be glad...."

"You care for poetry, Miss Reston? In Priorsford it's considered rather
a slur on your character to care for poetry. Novels we may discuss,
sensible people read novels, even now and again essays or biography, but
poetry - there we have to dissemble. We pretend, don't we, Jean? - that
poetry is nothing to us. Never a quotation or an allusion escapes us. We
listen to tales of servants' misdeeds, we talk of clothes and the
ongoings of our neighbours, and we never let on that we would rather
talk of poetry. No. No. A daft-like thing for either an old woman or a
young one to speak of. Only when we are alone - Jean and Augusta and
Lewis Elliot and I - we 'tire the sun with talking and send it down the
sky.' ... Miss Reston, Lewis Elliot tells me he knew you very well at
one time."

"Yes, away at the beginning of things. I adored him when I was fifteen
and he was twenty. He was wonderfully good to me and Biddy - my brother.
It is delightful to find an old friend in a new place."

"I'm very fond of Lewis," said Mrs. Hope, "but I wish to goodness he had
never inherited Laverlaw. He might have done a lot in the world with his
brain and his heart and his courage, but there he is contentedly settled
in that green glen of his, and greatly absorbed in sheep. Sheep! The
country is run by the Sir John Bankses, and the Lewis Elliots think
about sheep. It's all wrong. It's all wrong. The War wakened him up,
and he was in the thick of it both in the East and in France, but never
in the limelight, you understand, just doggedly doing his best in the
background. If he would marry a sensible wife with some ambition, but
he's about as much sentiment in him as Jock. It would take an earthquake
to shake him into matrimony."

"Perhaps," said Pamela, "he is like your friend Mirren - 'bye caring.'"

"Nonsense," said Mrs. Hope briskly. "He's 'bye' the fervent stage, if he
ever was a prisoner in that cage of rushes, which I doubt, but there are
long years before him, I hope, and if there isn't a fire of affection on
the hearth, and someone always about to listen and understand, it's a
dowie business when the days draw in and the nights get longer and
colder, and the light departs."

"But if it's dreary for a man," said Pamela, "what of us? What of the
'left ladies,' as I heard a child describe spinsters?"

Mrs. Hope's blue eyes, callously calm, surveyed the three spinsters
before her.

"You will get no pity from me," she said. "It's practically always the
woman's own fault if she remains unmarried. Besides, a woman can do fine
without a man. A woman has so much within herself she is a constant
entertainment to herself. But men are helpless souls. Some of them are
born bachelors and they do very well, but the majority are lost without
a woman. And angry they would be to hear me say it!... Are you going,
Jean?"

"Mhor's lessons," said Jean. "I'm frightfully sorry to take Pamela
away."

"May I come again?" Pamela asked.

"Surely. Augusta and I will look forward to your next visit. Don't tire
of Priorsford yet awhile. Stay among us and learn to love the place."
Mrs. Hope smiled very kindly at her guest, and Pamela, stooping down,
kissed the hand that held her own.




CHAPTER XI

"Lord Clinchum waved a careless hand. A small portion of blood royal
flows in my veins, he said, but it does not worry me at all and
after all, he added piously, at the Day of Judgment what will be the
Odds?

"Mr. Salteena heaved a sigh. I was thinking of this world, he
said." - _The Young Visiters_.


"I would like," said Pamela, "to get to know my neighbours. There are
six little houses, each exactly like Hillview, and I would like to be
able to nod to the owners as I pass. It would be more friendly."

Pamela and Jean, with Mhor and Peter, were walking along the road that
contained Hillview and The Rigs.

"Every house in this road is a twin," said Mhor, "except The Rigs. It's
different from every other house."

They were coming home from a long walk, laden with spoils from the
woods: moss for the bowls of bulbs, beautiful bare branches such as Jean
loved to stand in blue jars against the creamy walls. Mhor and Peter had
been coursing about like two puppies, covering at least four times the
ground their elders covered, and were now lagging, weary-footed, much
desiring their midday meal.

"I don't know," said Jean, pondering on the subject of neighbours, "how
you could manage to be friends with them. You see, they are busy people
and - it sounds very rude - they haven't time to be bothered with you.
Just smile tentatively when you see them and pass the time of day
casual-like; you would soon get friendly. There is one house, the one
called 'Balmoral,' with the very much decorated windows and the basket
of ferns hanging in the front door, where the people are at leisure, and
I know would deeply value a little friendliness. Two sisters live in
it - Watson is the name - most kindly and hospitable creatures with enough
to live on comfortably and keep a small servant, and ample leisure after
they have, what Mrs. M'Cosh calls, 'dockit up the hoose,' to entertain
and be entertained. They are West country - Glasgow, I think, or
Greenock - and they find Priorsford just a little stiff. They've been
here about three years, and I'm afraid are rather disappointed that they
haven't made more progress socially. I love them personally. They are so
genteel, as a rule, but every little while the raciness natural to the
West country breaks out."

"You are nice to them, Jean, I am sure."

"Oh yes, but the penalty of being more or less nice to everyone is that
nobody values your niceness: they take it for granted. Whereas the
haughty and exclusive, if they do condescend to stoop, are hailed as
gods among mortals."

"Poor Jean!" laughed Pamela. "That is rather hard. It's a poor thing
human nature."

"It is," Jean agreed. "I went to the dancing-class the other day to see
a most unwilling Mhor trip fantastically, and I saw a tiny girl take the
hand of an older girl and look admiringly up at her. The older child,
with the awful heartlessness of childhood wriggled her hand away and
turned her back on her small admirer. The poor mite stood trying not to
cry, and presently a still tinier mite came snuggling up to her and took
her hand. 'Now,' I thought, 'having learned how cruel a thing a snub is,
will she be kind?' Not a bit of it. With the selfsame gesture the older
girl had used she wriggled away her hand and turned her back."

"Cruel little wretches," said Pamela, "but it's the same with us older
children. Apart from sin altogether, it must be hard for God to pardon
our childishness ... But about the Miss Watsons - d'you think I might
call on them?"

"Well, they wouldn't call on you, I'm sure of that. Suppose I ask them
to meet you, and then you could fix a day for them to have tea with you?
It would be a tremendous treat for them, and pleasant for you too - they
are very entertaining."

So it was arranged. The Miss Watsons were asked to The Rigs, and to
their unbounded satisfaction spent a most genial hour in the company of
Miss Reston, whose comings and goings they had watched with breathless
interest from behind the elegant sash curtain of Balmoral. On their way
home they borrowed a copy of Debrett and studied it all evening.

It was very confusing at first, but at last they ran their quarry to
earth. "Here she is ... She's the daughter (dau. must mean daughter) of
Quintin John, 10th Baron Bidborough. And this'll be her brother, Quintin
Reginald Feurbras - what names! _Teenie_, her mother was an earl's
daughter!"

"Oh, mercy!" wailed Miss Teenie, quite over-come.

"Yes, see here. 6th Earl of Champertoun - a Scotch earl too! Lady Ann was
her name. Fancy that now!"

"And her so pleasant!" said Miss Teenie.

"It just lets you see," said Miss Watson, "the higher up you get in the
social scale, the pleasanter and freer people are. You see, they've been
there so long they're accustomed to it; their position never gives them
a thought: it's the people who have climbed up who keep on wondering if
you're noticing how grand they are."

"Well, Agnes," said Miss Teenie, "it's a great rise in the world for you
and me to be asked to tea with an earl's granddaughter. There's no
getting over that. I'm thinking we'll need to polish up our manners.
I've an awful habit of drinking my tea with my mouth full. It seems more
natural somehow to give it a _synd_ down than to wait to drink till your
mouth's empty."

"Of course it's more natural," said her sister, "but what's natural's
never refined. That's a queer thing when you think of it."

The Miss Watsons called on all their friends in the next few days, and
did not fail to mention in each house, accidentally, as it were, that on
Wednesday they expected to take tea with Miss Reston, and led on from
that fact to glowing details of Miss Reston's ancestry.

The height of their satisfaction was reached when they happened to meet
Mrs. Duff-Whalley, who, remembering yeoman service rendered by the
sisters at a recent bazaar, stopped them and, greatly condescending,
said, "Ah, er - Miss Watson - I'm asking a few local ladies to The Towers
on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the subject of a sale of work for the
G.F.S. A cup of tea, you understand, and a friendly chat in my own
drawing-room You will both join us, I hope?" Her tone held no doubt of
their delighted acceptance, but Miss Watson, who had suffered much from
Mrs. Duff-Whalley, who had been made use of and then passed unnoticed,
taken up when needed and dropped, replied with great deliberation, "Oh,
thank you, but we are going to tea with Miss Reston that afternoon. I
dare say we shall hear from someone what is decided about the sale of
work."

The epoch-making Wednesday dawned at last.

Great consultations had gone on between The Rigs and Hillview how best
to make it an enjoyable occasion. Pamela wanted Jean to be present, but
Jean thought it better not to be. "It would take away from the glory of
the occasion. I'm only a _chota Miss_, and they are too accustomed to
me. Ask Mrs. Jowett. She wouldn't call on the Watsons - the line must
be drawn somewhere even by the gentle Mrs. Jowett - but she will be very
sweet and nice to them. And Miss Mary Dawson. She is such a kind,
comfortable presence in a room - I think that would be a nice little
party."

Pamela obediently promised to do as Jean suggested.

"I've sent to Fullers' for some cakes, though I don't myself consider
them a patch on the Priorsford cakes, but they will be a change and make
it more of an occasion. Mawson can make delicious sandwiches and Bella
Bathgate has actually offered to bake some scones. I'll make the room
look as smart as possible with flowers."

"You've no photographs of relations? They would like photographs better
than anything."

"People they never heard of before," cried Pamela. "What an odd taste!
However, I'll do what I can."

By 11 a.m. the ladies in Balmoral had laid out all they meant to
wear - skirts spread neatly on beds, jackets over chair-backs, even to
the very best handkerchiefs on the dressing-table waiting for a sprinkle
of scent.

At two o'clock they began to dress.

Miss Teenie protested against this disturbance of their afternoon rest,
but her sister was firm.

"It'll take me every minute of the time, Teenie, for I've all my
underclothing to change."

"But, mercy me, Miss Reston'll not see your underclothes!"

"I know that, but when you've on your very best things underneath you
feel a sort of respect for yourself, and you're better able to hold your
own in whatever company you're in. I don't know what you mean to do, but
I'm going to change _to the skin_."

Miss Teenie nearly always followed the lead of her elder sister, so she
meekly went off to look out and air her most self-respecting under
garments, though she protested, "Not half aired they'll be, and as
likely as not I'll catch my death," and added bitterly, "It's not all
pleasure knowing the aristocracy."

They were ready to the last glove-button half an hour before the time
appointed, and sat stiffly on two high chairs in their little
dining-room. "I think," said Miss Watson, "we'd be as well to think on
some subjects to talk on. We must try to choose something that'll
interest Miss Reston. I wish I knew more about the Upper Ten."

"I'd better not speak at all," said Miss Teenie, who by this time was in
a very bad temper. "I never could mind the names of the Royal Family,
let alone the aristocracy. I always thought there was a weakness about
the people who liked to read in the papers and talk about those kind of
folk. I'm sure when I do read about them they're always doing something
kind of indecent, like getting divorced. It seems to me they never even
make an attempt to be respectable."

She looked round the cosy room and thought how pleasant it would have
been if she and her sister had been sitting down to tea as usual, with
no need to think of topics. It had been all very well to tell their
obviously surprised friends where they were going for tea, but when it
came to the point she would infinitely have preferred to stay at home.

"She'll not likely have any notion of a proper tea," Miss Watson said.
"Scraps of thin bread and butter, mebbe, and a cake, so don't you look
disappointed Teenie, though I know you like your tea. Just toy with it,
you know."

"No, I don't know," said Miss Teenie crossly. "I never 'toyed' with my
tea yet, and I'm not going to begin. It'll likely be China tea anyway,
and I'd as soon drink dish-water."

Miss Watson looked bitterly at her sister.

"You'll never rise in the world, Teenie, if you can't _give_ up a little
comfort for the sake of refinement Fancy making a fuss about China tea
when it's handed to you by an earl's granddaughter."

Miss Teenie made no reply to this except to burst - as was a habit of
hers - into a series of violent sneezes, at which her sister's wrath
broke out.

"That's the most uncivilised sneeze I ever heard. If you do that before
Miss Reston, Teenie, I'll be tempted to do you an injury."

Miss Teenie blew her nose pensively. "I doubt I've got a chill changing
my underclothes in the middle of the day, but 'a little pride and a
little pain,' as my mother used to say when she screwed my hair with
curl-papers.... I suppose it'll do if we stay an hour?"

Things are rarely as bad as we anticipate, and, as it turned out, not
only Miss Watson, but the rebellious Miss Teenie, looked back on that
tea-party as one of the pleasantest they had ever taken part in, and
only Heaven knows how many tea-parties the good ladies had attended in
their day.

They were judges of china and fine linen, and they looked appreciatively
at the table. There were the neatest of tea-knives, the daintiest of
spoons, jam glowed crimson through crystal, butter was there in a lordly
dish, cakes from London, delicate sandwiches, Miss Bathgate's best and
lightest in the way of scones, shortbread crisp from the oven of Mrs.
M'Cosh.

And here was Miss Reston looking lovely and exotic in a wonderful
tea-frock, a class of garment hitherto unknown to the Miss Watsons, who
thrilled at the sight. Her welcome was so warm that it seemed to the
guests, accustomed to the thus-far-and-no-further manner of the
Priorsford great ladies, almost exuberant. She led Miss Teenie to the
most comfortable chair, she gave Miss Watson a footstool and put a
cushion at her back, and talked so simply, and laughed so naturally,
that the Miss Watsons forgot entirely to choose their topics and began
on what was uppermost in their minds, the fact that Robina (the little
maid) had actually managed that morning to break the gazogene.

Pamela, who had not a notion what a gazogene was, gasped the required
surprise and horror and said, "But how did she do it?" which was the
safest remark she could think of.

"Banged it in the sink," said Miss Watson, with a dramatic gesture, "and
the bottom came out. I never thought it was possible to break a
gazogene with all that wire-netting about it."

"Robina," said Miss Teenie gloomily, "could break a steam-roller let
alone a gazogene."

"It'll be an awful miss," said her sister. "We've had it so long, and it
always stood on the sideboard with a bottle of lemon-syrup beside it."

Pamela was puzzling to think what this could be that stood on a
sideboard companioned by lemon-syrup and compassed with wire-netting
when Mawson showed in Mrs. Jowett, and with her Miss Mary Dawson, and
the party was complete.

The Miss Watsons greeted the newcomers brightly, having met them on
bazaar committees and at Red Cross work parties, and having always been
treated courteously by both ladies. They were quite willing to sink at
once into a lower place now that two denizens of the Hill had come, but
Pamela would have none of it.

They were the reason of the party; she made that evident at once.

Miss Teenie did not attempt the impossible and "toy" with her tea. There
was no need to. The tea was delicious, and she drank three cups. She
tried everything on the table and pronounced everything excellent. Never
had she felt herself so entertaining such a capital talker as now, with
Pamela smiling and applauding every effort. Mrs. Jowett too, gentle
lady, listened with most gratifying interest, and Miss Mary Dawson threw
in kind, sensible remarks at intervals. There was no arguing, no
disagreeing, everybody "clinked" with everybody else - a most pleasant
party.

"And isn't it awful," said Miss Watson in a pause, "about our minister
marrying?"

Pamela waited for further information before she spoke, while Mrs.
Jowett said, "Don't you consider it a suitable match?"

"Oh, well," said Miss Watson, "I just meant that it was awful
unexpected. He's been a bachelor so long, and then to marry a girl
twenty years younger than himself and a 'Piscipalian into the bargain."

"But how sporting of him," Pamela said.

"Sporting?" said Miss Watson doubtfully, vague thoughts of guns and
rabbits floating through her mind. "Of course you're a 'Piscipalian too,
Miss Reston, so is Mrs. Jowett: I shouldn't have mentioned it."

"I'm afraid I'm not much of anything," Pamela confessed, "but Jean
Jardine has great hopes of making me a Presbyterian. I have been going
with her to hear her own most delightful parson - Mr. Macdonald."

"A dear old man," said Mrs. Jowett; "he does preach so beautifully."

"Mr. Macdonald's church is the old Free Kirk, now U.F., you know," said
Miss Watson in an instructive tone. "The Jardines are great Free Kirk
people, like the Hopes of Hopetoun - but the Parish is far more class,
you know what I mean? You've more society there."

"What a delightful reason for worshipping in a church!" Pamela said.
"But please tell me more about your minister's bride - does she belong to
Priorsford?"

"English," said Miss Teenie, "and smokes, and plays golf, and wears
skirts near to her knees. What in the world she'll look like at the
missionary work party or attending the prayer meeting - I cannot think.
Poor Mr. Morrison must be demented, and he is such a good preacher."

"She will settle down," said Miss Dawson in her slow, sensible way.
"She's really a very likeable girl; and if she puts all the energy she
uses to play games into church-work she will be a great success. And it
will be an interest having a young wife at the manse."

"I don't know," said Miss Watson doubtfully. "I always think a
minister's wife should have a little money and a strong constitution and
be able to play the harmonium."

Miss Watson had not intended to be funny, and was rather surprised at
the laughter of her hostess.

"It seems to me," she said, "that the poor woman _would_ need a strong
constitution."

"Well, anyway," said Miss Teenie, "she would need the money; ministers
have so many claims on them. And they've a position to keep up. Here, of
course, they have manses, but in Glasgow they sometimes live in flats. I
don't think that's right. ... A minister should always live in a villa,
or at least in a 'front door.'"

"Is your minister's bride pretty?" Pamela asked.

Miss Watson got in her word first. "Pretty," she said, "but not in a
ministerial way, if you know what I mean. I wouldn't call her ladylike."

"What would you call 'ladylike'?" Pamela asked.

"Well, a good height, you know, and a nice figure and a pleasant face
and tidy hair. The sort of person that looks well in a grey coat and
skirt and a feather boa."

"I know exactly. What a splendid description!"

"Now," continued Miss Watson, much elated by the praise, "Mrs. Morrison
is very conspicuous looking. She's got yellow hair and a bright colour,
and a kind of bold way of looking."

"She's a complex character," sighed Mrs. Jowett; "she wears snakeskin
shoes. But you must be kind to her, Miss Watson. I think she would
appreciate kindness."

"Oh, so we are kind to her. The congregation subscribed and gave a grand
piano for a wedding-present. Wasn't that good? She is very musical, you
know, and plays the violin beautifully. That'll be very useful at church
meetings."

"I can't imagine," said Miss Dawson, "why we should consider a
minister's wife and her talents as the property of the congregation. A
doctor's wife isn't at the beck and call of her husband's patients, a
lawyer's wife isn't briefed along with her husband. It doesn't seem to
me fair."

"How odd," said Pamela; "only yesterday I was talking to Mrs.
Macdonald - Jean's minister's wife - and I said just what you say, that it
seems hard that the time of a minister's wife should be at the mercy of
everyone, and she said, 'My dear, it's our privilege, and if I had my
life to live again I would ask nothing better than to be a hard-working
minister's hard-working wife.' I stand hat in hand before that couple.
When you think what they have given all these years to this little
town - what qualities of heart and head. The tact of an ambassador (Mrs.
Macdonald has that), the eloquence of a Wesley, a largesse of sympathy
and help and encouragement, not to speak of more material things to
everyone in need, and all at the rate of £250 per annum. Prodigious!"

"Yes," said Miss Dawson, "they have been a blessing to Priorsford for
more than forty years. Mr. Macdonald is a saint, but a saint is a great
deal the better of a practical wife. Mrs. Macdonald is an example of
what can be accomplished by a woman both in a church and at home. I sit
rebuked before her."

"Oh, my dear," said Mrs. Jowett, "no one could possibly be more helpful
than you and your sisters. It's I who am the drone.... Now I must go."

The Miss Watsons outstayed the other guests, and Pamela, remembering
Jean's advice, produced a few stray photographs of relations which were
regarded with much interest and some awe. The photograph of her brother,
Lord Bidborough, they could hardly lay down. Finally, Pamela presented
them with flowers and a basket of apples newly arrived from Bidborough
Manor, and they returned to Balmoral walking on air.

"Such _pleasant_ company and _such_ a tea," said Miss Watson. "She had
out all her best things."

"And Mrs. Jowett and Miss Dawson were asked to meet _us_," exulted Miss
Teenie.

"And very affable they were," added her sister. But when the sisters had
removed their best clothes and were seated in the dining-room with the
cloth laid for supper, Miss Teenie said, "All the same, it's fine to be
back in our own house and not to have to heed about manners." She pulled
a low chair close to the fire as she spoke and spread her skirt back
over her knee and, thoroughly comfortable and at peace with the world,
beamed on her sister, who replied:

"What do you say to having some toasted cheese to our supper?"




CHAPTER XII

"I hear the whaups on windy days
Cry up among the peat
Whaur, on the road that spiels the braes,
I've heard ma ain sheep's feet.
An' the bonnie lambs wi' their canny ways


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