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KATE CARNEGIE AND THOSE MINISTERS.

by

IAN MACLAREN.







Toronto:
Fleming H. Revell Company,
140-142 Yonge Street.
1896.
Entered according to Act of the Parliament of Canada,
in the year 1896, by Hodder & Stoughton,
at the Department of Agriculture.




TO

A CERTAIN BROTHERHOOD


Faithful in Criticism

Loyal in Affection

Tender in Trouble




CONTENTS.


CHAPTER

I. PANDEMONIUM
II. PEACE
III. A HOME OF MANY GENERATIONS
IV. A SECRET CHAMBER
V. CONCERNING BESOMS
VI. A PLEASAUNCE
VII. A WOMAN OF THE NEW DISPENSATION
VIII. A WOMAN OF THE OLD DISPENSATION
IX. A DAUGHTER OF DEBATE
X. A SUPRA-LAPSARIAN
XI. IN THE GLOAMING
XII. KILBOGIE MANSE
XIII. PREPARING FOR THE SACRAMENT
XIV. A MODERATE
XV. JOINT POTENTATES
XVI. DRIED ROSE LEAVES
XVII. SMOULDERING FIRES
XVIII. LOVE SICKNESS
XIX. THE FEAR OF GOD
XX. THE WOUNDS OF A FRIEND
XXI. LIGHT AT EVENTIDE
XXII. WITHOUT FEAR AND WITHOUT REPROACH
XXIII. MARGET HOWE'S CONFESSIONAL
XXIV. LOVE IS LORD




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


Carmichael had taken his Turn

"Many a Ploy we had together"

Peter was standing in his Favourite Attitude

"I am the General's Daughter"

Janet Macpherson was waiting in the Deep Doorway

"It's a Difficult Key to turn"

Kate in her Favourite Position

One Gardener who . . . works for Love's Sake

Among the Great Trees

"Mr. Carmichael, you have much Cause for Thankfulness"

Carmichael sang a Solo

"Here iss your Silver Piece"

"I should call it a Deliberate - "

"She had an Unfortunate Tendency to meddle with my Books"

Mother Church cast her Spell over his Imagination

"Ye'll be hanging Dr. Chalmers there"

A Tall, Bony, Forbidding Woman

Gathering her Berry Harvest

He was a Mere Wisp of a Man

"Will you let me walk with you for a Little?"

"Private Capaucity"

Standing with a Half-Dried Dish in her Hand

The Old Man escorted her Ladyship

Would gossip with him by the Hour

The Driver stops to exchange Views

Two Tramps held Conference

Wrestling in Darkness of Soul

His Attitude for Exposition

"Ay, he's in, but ye canna see him"

"To put Flowers on his Grave"

"You have been awfully Good to me"

"He sat down by the River-side to meditate"




KATE CARNEGIE.


CHAPTER I.

PANDEMONIUM.

It was the morning before the Twelfth, years ago, and nothing like unto
Muirtown Station could have been found in all the travelling world.
For Muirtown, as everybody knows, is the centre which receives the
southern immigrants in autumn, and distributes them, with all their
belongings of servants, horses, dogs, and luggage, over the north
country from Athole to Sutherland. All night, express trains, whose
ordinary formation had been reinforced by horse boxes, carriage trucks,
saloons and luggage vans, drawn by two engines, and pushed up inclines
by a third, had been careering along the three iron trunk roads that
run from London to the North. Four hours ago they had forced the
border, that used to be more jealously guarded, and had begun to
converge on their terminus. Passengers, awakened by the caller air and
looking out still half asleep, miss the undisciplined hedgerows and
many-shaped patches of pasture, the warm brick homesteads and shaded
ponds of the south. Square fields cultivated up to a foot of the stone
dykes or wire-fencing, the strong grey-stone farm-houses, the
swift-running burns, and the never-distant hills, brace the mind.
Local passengers come in with deliberation, whose austere faces condemn
the luxurious disorder of night travel, and challenge the defence of
Arminian doctrine. A voice shouts "Carstairs Junction," with a command
of the letter _r_, which is the bequest of an unconquerable past, and
inspires one with the hope of some day hearing a freeborn Scot say
"Auchterarder." The train runs over bleak moorlands with black peat
holes, through alluvial straths yielding their last pickle of corn,
between iron furnaces blazing strangely in the morning light, at the
foot of historical castles built on rocks that rise out of the fertile
plains, and then, after a space of sudden darkness, any man with a soul
counts the ten hours' dust and heat but a slight price for the sight of
the Scottish Rhine flowing deep, clear, and swift by the foot of its
wooded hills, and the "Fair City" in the heart of her meadows.

"Do you see the last wreath of mist floating off the summit of the
hill, and the silver sheen of the river against the green of the woods?
Quick, dad," and the General, accustomed to obey, stood up beside Kate
for the brief glimpse between the tunnel and a prison. Yet they had
seen the snows of the Himalayas, and the great river that runs through
the plains of India. But it is so with Scottish folk that they may
have lived opposite the Jungfrau at MГјrren, and walked among the big
trees of the Yosemite Valley, and watched the blood-red afterglow on
the Pyramids, and yet will value a sunset behind the Cuchullin hills,
and the Pass of the Trossachs, and the mist shot through with light on
the sides of Ben Nevis, and the Tay at Dunkeld - just above the
bridge - better guerdon for their eyes.

"Ay, lassie" - the other people had left at Stirling, and the General
fell back upon the past - "there 's just one bonnier river, and that's
the Tochty at a bend below the Lodge, as we shall see it, please God,
this evening."

"Tickets," broke in a voice with authority. "This is no the station,
an' ye 'll hae to wait till the first diveesion o' yir train is
emptied. Kildrummie? Ye change, of coorse, but yir branch 'll hae a
lang wait the day. It 'll be an awfu' fecht wi' the Hielant train.
Muirtown platform 'll be worth seein'; it 'll juist be michty," and the
collector departed, smacking his lips in prospect of the fray.

"Upon my word," said the General, taken aback for a moment by the easy
manners of his countryman, but rejoicing in every new assurance of
home, "our people are no blate."

"Is n't it delicious to be where character has not been worn smooth by
centuries of oppression, but where each man is himself? Conversation
has salt here, and tastes in the mouth. We 've just heard two men
speak this morning, and each face is bitten into my memory. Now our
turn has come," and the train wound itself in at last.

Porters, averaging six feet and with stentorian voices, were driving
back the mixed multitude in order to afford foothold for the new
arrivals on that marvellous landing place, which in those days served
for all the trains which came in and all that went out, both north and
south. One man tears open the door of a first with commanding gesture.
"A' change and hurry up. Na, na," rejecting the offer of a private
engagement; "we hev nae time for that trade the day. Ye maun cairry
yir bags yersels; the dogs and boxes 'll tak us a' oor time." He
unlocks an under compartment and drags out a pair of pointers, who fawn
upon him obsequiously in gratitude for their release. "Doon wi' ye,"
as one to whom duty denies the ordinary courtesies of life, and he
fastens them to the base of an iron pillar. Deserted immediately by
their deliverer, the pointers made overtures to two elderly ladies,
standing bewildered in the crush, to be repulsed with umbrellas, and
then sit down upon their tails in despair. Their forlorn condition,
left friendless amid this babel, gets upon their nerves, and after a
slight rehearsal, just to make certain of the tune, they lift up their
voices in melodious concert, to the scandal of the two females, who
cannot escape the neighbourhood, and regard the pointers with horror.
Distant friends, also in bonds and distress of mind, feel comforted and
join cheerfully, while a large black retriever, who had foolishly
attempted to obstruct a luggage barrow with his tail, breaks in with a
high solo. Two collies, their tempers irritated by obstacles as they
follow their masters, who had been taking their morning in the
second-class refreshment room, fall out by the way, and obtain as by
magic a clear space in which to settle details; while a fox-terrier,
escaping from his anxious mistress, has mounted a pile of boxes and
gives a general challenge.

Porters fling open packed luggage vans with a swing, setting free a
cataract of portmanteaus, boxes, hampers, baskets, which pours across
the platform for yards, led by a frolicsome black leather valise, whose
anxious owner has fought her adventurous way to the van for the purpose
of explaining to a phlegmatic Scot that he would know it by a broken
strap, and must lift it out gently, for it contained breakables.

"It can gang itsel, that ane," as the afflicted woman followed its
reckless progress with a wail. "Sall, if they were a' as clever on
their feet as yon box there wud be less tribble," and with two
assistants he falls upon the congested mass within. They perform
prodigies of strength, handling huge trunks that ought to have filled
some woman with repentance as if they were Gladstone bags, and light
weights as if they were paper parcels. With unerring scent they detect
the latest label among the remains of past history, and the air
resounds with "Hielant train," "Aiberdeen fast," "Aiberdeen slow,"
"Muirtown" - this with indifference - and at a time "Dunleith," and once
"Kildrummie," with much contempt. By this time stacks of baggage of
varying size have been erected, the largest of which is a pyramid in
shape, with a very uncertain apex.

Male passengers - heads of families and new to Muirtown - hover anxiously
round the outskirts, and goaded on by female commands, rush into the
heart of the fray for the purpose of claiming a piece of luggage, which
turns out to be some other person's, and retire hastily after a
fair-sized portmanteau descends on their toes, and the sharp edge of a
trunk takes them in the small of the back. Footmen with gloves and
superior airs make gentlemanly efforts to collect the family luggage,
and are rewarded by having some hopelessly vulgar tin boxes, heavily
roped, deposited among its initialled glory. One elderly female who
had been wise to choose some other day to revisit her native town,
discovers her basket flung up against a pillar, like wreckage from a
storm, and settles herself down upon it with a sigh of relief. She
remains unmoved amid the turmoil, save when a passing gun-case tips her
bonnet to one side, giving her a very rakish air, and a good-natured
retriever on a neighbouring box is so much taken with her appearance
that he offers her a friendly caress. Restless people - who remember
that their train ought to have left half an hour ago, and cannot
realise that all bonds are loosed on the eleventh - fasten on any man in
a uniform, and suffer many rebuffs.

"There 's nae use asking me," answers a guard, coming off duty and
pushing his way through the crowd as one accustomed to such spectacles;
"a 'm juist in frae Carlisle; get haud o' a porter."

"Cupar Angus?" - this from the porter - "that's the Aiberdeen slow; it's
no made up yet, and little chance o't till the express an' the Hielant
be aff. Whar 'll it start frae?" breaking away; "forrit, a' tell ye,
forrit."

Fathers of families, left on guard and misled by a sudden movement
"forrit," rush to the waiting-room and bring out, for the third time,
the whole expedition, to escort them back again with shame. Barrows
with towering piles of luggage are pushed through the human mass by two
porters, who allow their engine to make its own way with much
confidence, condescending only at a time to shout, "A' say, hey, oot o'
there," and treating any testy complaint with the silent contempt of a
drayman for a costermonger. Old hands, who have fed at their leisure
in callous indifference to all alarms, lounge about in great content,
and a group of sheep farmers, having endeavoured in vain, after one
tasting, to settle the merits of a new dip, take a glance in the
"Hielant" quarter, and adjourn the conference once more to the
refreshment-room. Groups of sportsmen discuss the prospects of
to-morrow in detail, and tell stories of ancient twelfths, while
chieftains from London, in full Highland dress, are painfully conscious
of the whiteness of their legs. A handful of preposterous people who
persist in going south when the world has its face northwards, threaten
to complain to headquarters if they are not sent away, and an official
with a loud voice and a subtle gift of humour intimates that a train is
about to leave for Dundee.

During this time wonderful manoeuvres have been executed on the lines
of rail opposite the platform. Trains have left with all the air of a
departure and disappeared round the curve outside the station, only to
return in fragments. Half a dozen carriages pass without an engine, as
if they had started on their own account, break vans that one saw
presiding over expresses stand forsaken, a long procession of horse
boxes rattle through, and a saloon carriage, with people, is so much in
evidence that the name of an English Duke is freely mentioned, and
every new passage relieves the tedium of the waiting.

Out of all this confusion trains begin to grow and take shape, and one,
with green carriages, looks so complete that a rumour spreads that the
Hielant train has been made up and may appear any minute in its place.
The sunshine beating through the glass roof, the heat of travel, the
dust of the station, the moving carriages with their various colours,
the shouts of railway officials, the recurring panics of fussy
passengers, begin to affect the nerves. Conversation becomes broken,
porters are beset on every side with questions they cannot answer,
rushes are made on any empty carriages within reach, a child is knocked
down and cries.

Over all this excitement and confusion one man is presiding, untiring,
forceful, ubiquitous - a sturdy man, somewhere about five feet ten,
whose lungs are brass and nerves fine steel wire. He is dressed, as to
his body, in brown corduroy trousers, a blue jacket and waistcoat with
shining brass buttons, a grey flannel shirt, and a silver-braided cap,
which, as time passes, he thrusts further back on his head till its
peak stands at last almost erect, a crest seen high above the conflict.
As to the soul of him, this man is clothed with resolution, courage,
authority, and an infectious enthusiasm. He is the brain and will of
the whole organism, its driving power. Drivers lean out of their
engines, one hand on the steam throttle, their eyes fixed on this man;
if he waves his hands, trains move; if he holds them up, trains halt.
Strings of carriages out in the open are carrying out his plans, and
the porters toil like maniacs to meet his commands. Piles of luggage
disappear as he directs the attack, and his scouts capture isolated
boxes hidden among the people. Every horse box has a place in his
memory, and he has calculated how many carriages would clear the north
traffic; he carries the destination of families in his head, and has
made arrangements for their comfort. "Soon ready now, sir," as he
passed swiftly down to receive the last southerner, "and a second
compartment reserved for you," till people watched for him, and the
sound of his voice, "forrit wi' the Hielant luggage," inspired
bewildered tourists with confidence, and became an argument for
Providence. There is a general movement towards the northern end of
the station; five barrows, whose luggage swings dangerously and has to
be held on, pass in procession; dogs are collected and trailed along in
bundles; families pick up their bags and press after their luggage,
cheered to recognise a familiar piece peeping out from strange goods; a
bell is rung with insistence. The Aberdeen express leaves - its
passengers regarding the platform with pity - and the guard of the last
van slamming his door in triumph. The great man concentrates his force
with a wave of his hand for the _tour de force_ of the year, the
despatch of the Hielant train.

The southern end of the platform is now deserted - the London express
departed half an hour ago with thirteen passengers, very crestfallen
and envious - and across the open centre porters hustle barrows at
headlong speed, with neglected pieces of luggage. Along the edge of
the Highland platform there stretches a solid mass of life,
close-packed, motionless, silent, composed of tourists, dogs, families,
lords, dogs, sheep farmers, keepers, clericals, dogs, footmen,
commercials, ladies' maids, grooms, dogs, waiting for the empty train
that, after deploying hither and thither, picking up some trifle, a
horse box or a duke's saloon, at every new raid, is now backing slowly
in for its freight. The expectant crowd has ceased from conversation,
sporting or otherwise; respectable elderly gentlemen brace themselves
for the scramble, and examine their nearest neighbours suspiciously;
heads of families gather their belongings round them by signs and
explain in a whisper how to act; one female tourist - of a certain age
and severe aspect - refreshes her memory as to the best window for the
view of Killiecrankie. The luggage has been piled in huge masses at
each end of the siding; the porters rest themselves against it, taking
off their caps, and wiping their foreheads with handkerchiefs of many
colours and uses. It is the stillness before the last charge; beyond
the outermost luggage an arm is seen waving, and the long coil of
carriages begins to twist into the station.

People who know their ancient Muirtown well, and have taken part in
this day of days, will remember a harbour of refuge beside the
book-stall, protected by the buffers of the Highland siding on one side
and a breakwater of luggage on the other, and persons within this
shelter could see the storming of the train to great advantage.
Carmichael, the young Free Kirk minister of Drumtochty, who had been
tasting the civilisation of Muirtown overnight and was waiting for the
Dunleith train, leant against the back of the bookstall, watching the
scene with frank, boyish interest. Rather under six feet in height, he
passed for more, because he stood so straight and looked so slim, for
his limbs were as slender as a woman's, while women (in Muirtown) had
envied his hands and feet. But in chest measure he was only two inches
behind Saunders Baxter, the grieve of Drumsheugh, who was the standard
of manhood by whom all others were tried and (mostly) condemned in
Drumtochty. Chancing to come upon Saunders putting the stone one day
with the bothy lads, Carmichael had taken his turn, with the result
that his stone lay foremost in the final heat by an inch exactly.
MacLure saw them kneeling together to measure, the Free Kirk minister
and the ploughmen all in a bunch, and went on his way rejoicing to tell
the Free Kirk folk that their new minister was a man of his hands. His
hair was fair, just touched with gold, and he wore it rather long, so
that in the excitement of preaching a lock sometimes fell down on his
forehead, which he would throw back with a toss of his head - a gesture
Mrs. Macfadyen, our critic, thought very taking. His dark blue eyes
used to enlarge with passion in the Sacrament and grow so tender, the
healthy tan disappeared and left his cheeks so white, that the mothers
were terrified lest he should die early, and sent offerings of cream on
Monday morning. For though his name was Carmichael, he had Celtic
blood in him, and was full of all kinds of emotion, but mostly those
that were brave and pure and true. He had done well at the University,
and was inclined to be philosophical, for he knew little of himself and
nothing of the world. There were times when he allowed himself to be
supercilious and sarcastic; but it was not for an occasional jingle of
cleverness the people loved him, or, for that matter, any other man.
It was his humanity that won their hearts, and this he had partly from
his mother, partly from his training. Through a kind providence and
his mother's countryness, he had been brought up among animals - birds,
mice, dormice, guinea-pigs, rabbits, dogs, cattle, horses, till he knew
all their ways, and loved God's creatures as did St. Francis d'Assisi,
to whom every creature of God was dear, from Sister Swallow to Brother
Wolf. So he learned, as he grew older, to love men and women and
little children, even although they might be ugly, or stupid, or
bad-tempered, or even wicked, and this sympathy cleansed away many a
little fault of pride and self-conceit and impatience and hot temper,
and in the end of the days made a man of John Carmichael. The dumb
animals had an instinct about this young fellow, and would make
overtures to him that were a certificate for any situation requiring
character. Horses by the wayside neighed at his approach, and
stretched out their velvet muzzles to be stroked. Dogs insisted upon
sitting on his knees, unless quite prevented by their size, and then
they put their paws on his chest. Hillocks was utterly scandalised by
his collie's familiarity with the minister, and brought him to his
senses by the application of a boot, but Carmichael waived all
apologies. "Rover and I made friends two days ago on the road, and my
clothes will take no injury." And indeed they could not, for
Carmichael, except on Sundays and at funerals, wore a soft hat and suit
of threadbare tweeds, on which a microscopist could have found traces
of a peat bog, moss of dykes, the scale of a trout, and a tiny bit of
heather.

[Illustration: Carmichael had taken his turn.]

His usual fortune befell him that day in Muirtown Station, for two
retrievers, worming their way through the luggage, reached him, and
made known their wants.

"Thirsty? I believe you. All the way from England, and heat enough to
roast you alive. I 've got no dish, else I 'd soon get water.

"Inverness? Poor chaps, that's too far to go with your tongues like a
lime-kiln. Down, good dogs; I 'll be back in a minute."

You can have no idea, unless you have tried it, how much water a soft
clerical hat can hold - if you turn up the edges and bash down the
inside with your fist, and fill the space to the brim. But it is
difficult to convey such a vessel with undiminished content through a
crowd, and altogether impossible to lift one's eyes. Carmichael was
therefore quite unconscious that two new-comers to the shelter were
watching him with keen delight as he came in bareheaded, flushed,
triumphant - amid howls of welcome - and knelt down to hold the cup
till - drinking time about in strict honour - the retrievers had reached
the maker's name.

"Do you think they would like a biscuit?" said a clear, sweet, low
voice, with an accent of pride and just a flavour of amusement in its
tone. Carmichael rose in much embarrassment, and was quite confounded.

They were standing together - father and daughter, evidently - and there
was no manner of doubt about him. A spare man, without an ounce of
superfluous flesh, straight as a rod, and having an air of command,
with keen grey eyes, close-cropped hair turning white, a clean-shaven
face except where a heavy moustache covered a firm-set mouth - one
recognised in him a retired army man of rank, a colonel at least, it
might be a general; and the bronze on his face suggested long Indian
service. But he might have been dressed in Rob Roy tartan, or been a
naval officer in full uniform, for all Carmichael knew. A hundred
thousand faces pass before your eyes and are forgotten, mere physical
impressions; you see one, and it is in your heart for ever, as you saw
it the first time. Wavy black hair, a low, straight forehead, hazel
eyes with long eyelashes, a perfectly-shaped Grecian nose, a strong
mouth, whose upper lip had a curve of softness, a clear-cut chin with
one dimple, small ears set high in the head, and a rich creamy
complexion - that was what flashed upon Carmichael as he turned from the
retrievers. He was a man so unobservant of women that he could not
have described a woman's dress to save his life or any other person's;
and now that he is married - he is a middle-aged man now and threatened


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Online LibraryIan MaclarenKate Carnegie and those ministers → online text (page 1 of 22)