William Black.

A daughter of Heth: A novel online

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Sabbath should be devoted to meditation and wor-
ship, not to idleness or amusement; and ye will
doubtless come to consider it no great hardship to
shut your piano one day out o' the seven. But I
sent for ye this morning wi' quite another purpose
than to scold ye for having fallen through ignorance
into a fault, of which, indeed, I knew nothing."

He now began to unfold to her the serious per-
plexity which had been caused him by the fact of
her having been brought up a Eoman Catholic. On
the one hand, he had a sacred duty to perform to
her as being almost her sole surviving relation ; but
on the other hand, was he justified in supplanting
with another faith that faith in which her mother
had desired her to remain ? The Minister had been
seriously troubled about this matter, and wished to
have it settled before he permitted her to go to
church with the rest of his family. He was a
scrupulously conscientious man. They used to say
of him in Airlie that if Satan, in arguing with him,
were to fall into a trap, Mr. Cassilis would scorn to
take advantage of any mere slip of the tongue — a
piece of rectitude not invariably met with in reli-
gious disputes. When, therefore, the Minister saw
placed in his hands a willing convert, he would not
accept of the conversion without explaining to her

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all the bearings of the case, and pointing out to her
clearly what she was doing.

Coquette solved the difficulty in a second.

" If mamma were here," she said, " she would go
at once to your church. It never mattered to us —
the church. The difference — or is it differation you
do say in English ? — ^was nothing to us ; and papa
did not mind. I will go to your church, and you
will tell me all what it is right. I will soon know
all your religion," she added, more cheerfully, " and
I will sing those dreadful slow tunes which papa used
yto sing — to make mamma laugh."

** My brother might have been better employed,"
said the Minister, with a frown ; but Coquette ran
away, light-hearted, to dress herself to go with
the others.

The Whaup was a head taller when he%sued out
of the Manse, by the side of his new cousin, to go
down to the little church. He was her protector.
He snubbed the other boys. To one of them —
"Wattie the sneak — he had administered a sharp ^.
cuff on the side of the head, when the latter, on
Coquette being summoned into the study, remarked
confidentially, " She's gaun to get her licks ;"* and
now, when the young lady had come out in all the
snowy brightness of her light summer costume,
Wattie revenged himself by murmuring to his com-
panions —

" Doesna she look like a play-actress ?" ,.

So the small procession passed along the roug! ^
moorland road until they drew near the little gre
* Anglice^d. whipping.

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church and its graveyard of rude stones. Towards
this point converged the scattered twos and threes
now visible across the moor and down in the village
— old men and women, young men and maidens,
all in their best Sunday " braws." The dissonant
bell was sounding harshly; and the boys, before
going into the gloomy little building, threw a last
and wistful glance over the broad moor, wheie the
bronzed and the yellow butterflies were fluttering
in the sunlight, and the bees drowsily humming in
the heather.

They entered. Every one stared at Coquette,
as they had stared at her outside. The boys could
not understand the easy self-composure with which
she followed the Whaup down between the small
wooden benches, and took her place in the Minister's
pew. There was no confusion or embarrassment
in her manner on meeting the eyes of the lot of

" She's no feared," said Wattie, to his neighbour.

When Coquette had takfen her seat, she knelt
down and covered her face with her hands. The
Whaup touched her arm quickly.

"Ye maunna do that," said he, looking round i
anxiously to see whether any of the congregation
had witnessed this piece of Eomish superstition.

That look round dashed from his lips the cup of
pleasure he had been drinking. Looking at both
himself and Coquette, he met the eyes of Lord
Earlshope; and the congregation had not seen
anything of Coquette's kneeling, for they had
turned from her to gaze on the no less startling

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phenomenon of Lord Earlshope occupying his
family pew, in which he had not been seen for
many years.



Coquette did not observe the presence of Lord
Earlshope for some time. She was much engaged
in the service, which was quite new to her. First
of all, the Minister rose in his pulpit and read out
a psalm ; and then, under him, the precentor rose,
and begun, all by himself, to lead off the singing in
a strong, harsh voice, which had but little music
in it. The tune was " Drumclog ;" and as Coquette
listened, she mentally grouped its fine and impres-
sive melody with chords, and thought of the wonder-
ful strength aiid sweetness that Mendelssohn could
have imparted to that bare skeleton of an air. The
people groaned rather than sung — there was not
even an attempt at part-singing. The men merely
followed the air an octave lower, except when they
struck into, quite a different key, and produced such
dissonances as are indescribable. If the use of the
piano were not entirely proscribed, she promised
to herself that she would show the Whaup next
morning- the true character of that simple and noble
air which was being so cruelly ill-treated.

There followed a long extempore prayer, and
another psalm — sung to the melancholy " Coleshill "
— and then there came the sermon. She tried hard

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to lUiderstand it, but slie could not. It wao an
earnest and powerful appeal ; but it was so clotted
in the imagery of the Jewish prophets — so full of
the technical phrases of the Scotch preachers — that
she could not follow it. Her English had been
chiefly gathered from the free and easy conversation
of her father, and even that had been modified by
the foreign pronunciation of her mother; so that
such phrases as " the fulfilment of the covenant,"
" girding up the leans," " awakening unto grace," and
so forth, conveyed no meaning to her whatever. In
spite of her best endeavours she found herself dream-
ing of the Loire — of St. Nazaire, of Gu6rande, of the
salt plains that lie between that town and Le Groisic,
and of the Breton peasants in their white hragous-
Iras and wide hats, making their pilgrimages to the
church of Notre Dame de Murier.

The sight of Lord Earlshope had made the Whaup
both savage and wicked. He proposed to Wattie to
play *'Neevie, neevie, nick-nack" — an offer which
Wattie looked upon as the direct instigation of the
devil, and refused accordingly.

When, at last. Coquette caught the eyes of Lord
Earlshope fixed upon her, she was surprised to see
him so intently regarding her, T?here was some-
thing wistful, too, in his look ; his face bearing an
expression of seriousness she did not expect to find
in it. During the brief period in which he talked to
her he had left upon her the impression of his being
merely a light-hearted young man, who had winning
ways, and a good deal of seK-confidence. But the fact
b, she had paid no very great attention to him, and


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eyen now was not disposed to look upon his fixed gaze
as anything beyond a mere accident. She turned her
eyes aside ; tried once more to follow the sermon ; and
again subsided into dreaming of Bourg de Batz and the
square pools of the salt plains^ with the ancient walls
of Gu&ande filling up the horizon of her imagination.

When the service was oyer, and they had got
outside, the Whaup bundled them oflf on the road
towards the Manse with but little ceremony, taking
care that Coquette should be in front.

"What has changed you?" she said, in some
surprise. " I did think you were good friends with
me on coming to the church."

"Neyer mind," he said abruptly; and then he
added, sharply, "Did you see Lord Earlshope there ?"

" Yes, I did see him."

" What business had he there ?"

" People go not to the church for business," she
said, with a laugh.

" He has not been in that pew for years," said
the Whaup, gloomily.

" Perhaps he is becoming a good man," she said,
lightly, making a careless effort to catch a butterfly
that fluttered before her face.

" He has plenty to alter then," said the Whaup,

" Qud drSle de grand enfcmt ! Wattie," she said,
turning to the Whaup's brother, "will you run
with me to the house ?"

She held out her hand.

"No, ril no," said Wattie. "Ye are a Soman,
and can get absolution for a' the ill ye dae/^

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"I will, an' ye like," said the youngest cf the
brothers, Dougal, timidly.

" Come along, then !"

She took his hand, and, before Leezibeth or
Andrew could interfere, they were fleeing along the
rough road towards the Manse, far in front of the
others. Dougal, young as he was, was a swift
runner; but the foreign lassie beat him, and was
evidently helping him. All at once Dougal was
seen to stumble and roll forward. Coquette
made a desperate effort to save him, but in vain ;
and while he fell prone upon the ground, she was
brought nearly on her knees. The little fellow got
up, looking sadly at one of his hands, which was
badly scratched with the gravel. He looked at her,
too, dumbly; clenching his lips to keep himself
from crying, although the tears would gather in
his eyes. In an instant she had overwhelmed him
with pitying caresses, and soft French phrases of
endearment, while she carefully smoothed his torn
hand with her handkerchief.

" You will come with me to my room, and I will
heal it for you."

She carried him off before the others had arrived
and washed his hand,- and put cold cream on it, and
gave him a whole box of French chocolate — a dainty
which he had never seen before, but which he
speedily appreciated. Then she said,

" Come along, now, and I will sing you something.
Alas ! no, I must not open my piano any more."

It was the first time Dougal had ever heard any-
body say "alas!" — a word which Coquette had

D 2

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picked np fi:om her English books. He began to
distrust all this kindness and all these fascinating
ways. What Coquette knew of English was more
English than Scotch in pronunciation. Now, every-
body in Airlie was aware of the curious fact that
all actors and public singers, and such people,
generally, as live by their wits, were English ; and
an English accent was therefore in itself suspicious.
If this young lady in the white muslin dress, with
the blue ribbons in her black hair, was not actually
French she. was English, which was only a shade
less deplorable. Dougal accepted the brown and
sweet little balls of chocolate with some compunction,
and hoped he was doing no mortal sin in eating

After the " interval," as it was technically called,
they had to go to church again, and here Coquette's
patience nearly gave way. Nor was the situation
rendered less grievous by the Whaup informing her
severely that in Airlie there was no such thing as
idle walking about on the Sabbath — that the whole
of the afternoon she would not even be permitted to
go into the garden, but would have to sit indoors
and read a " good book." The Whaup was not ill-
pleased to have to convey this information: he
fancied Lord Earlshope might be prowling about.

There was a " tea dinner " at four o'clock, consist-
ing exclusively of cold meats, with tea added. There-
after, the whole family sat down in solemn silence
to their books — the list being the Bible, the Shorter
and Longer Catechisms, Hutcheson's Exposition,
Dr. Spurstow on the Promise, the Christian's

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Charter, Bishop Downham on the Coyenant of Grace
(these last " printed for Bdj^h Smith, at the Bihle
in Oornhill"), and Josephus. By this copy of
Josephus there hangs a tale.

Dougal, remembering that business of the cnoco-
late, came over to Coquette, and whispered —

" If ye are freends wi' the Whaup, he'll show ye
the third vollum o' Josephus,"

Indeed, the boys manifested the most lively
curiosity when the Whaup appeared bearing the
third volume of Josephus in his hand. They seemed
to forget the sunlight outside, and the fresh
air of the moor, in watching this treasure. The
Whaup sat down at the table — the Minister was
seated at the upper end of the room, in his arm-
chair — and the third volume of Josephus was

Coquette perceived that some mystery was abroad.
The boys drew more and more near to the Whaup,
and were apparently more anxious to see the third
volume of Josephus than anything else. She ob-
served also that the Whaup, keeping the board of
the volume up, never seemed to turn over any

She, too, overcome by feminine curiosity, drew
near. The Whaup looked at her — suspiciously at
first, then he seemed to relent.

" Have ye read Josephus ?" he said aloud to her.

" No," said Coquette.

" It is a most valuable work," said the Minister
from the upper en:d of the room (the Whaup
started), "as giving corroboration to the sacred

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\vritings from one who was not an advocate of the

Coquette moved her chair in to the table. The

Whaup carefully placed the volume before her.

She looked at it, and beheld — two white mice !

le mystery was solved. The Whaup had
gly cut out the body of the volume, leaving
boards and a margin of the leaves all round,
le hole thus formed reposed two white mice,
le feeding and petting of which he spent the
9 Sunday afternoon, when he was supposed to
fading diligently. No wonder the boys were
)us to see the third volume of Josephus ; and
L any one of them had done a particular favour
e Whaup, he was allowed to have half an hour
e valuable book. There were also two or three
s left in front ; so that, when any dangerous
in passed, these leaves could be shut down over
age of the mice.

ley were thus engaged when Leezibeth suddenly
9d the door, and said —
Jord Earlshope would speak wi' ye, sir."
tonishment was depicted on every countenance.
I time immemorial no visitor had dared to invade

tiie sanctity of Airlie Manse on a Sabbath afternoon.
"Show him into my study, Leezibeth," said the


" By no means," said his Lordship, entering ; " I

would not disturb you, Mr. Cassilis, on any account.

I have merely called in to say a passing word to you,

although I know it is not good manners in Airlie to

pay visits on Sunday."

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"Yonr Lordship is doubtless aware," retnmed
Mr. CassiUs, gravely, " that it is not the consideration
of good manners gars ns keep the Sabbath inviolate
from customs which on other days are lawful and

"I know, I know," said the yoxmg gentleman,
good-naturedly, and taking so little notice of the
hint as to appropriate a chair; "but you must
blame my English education if I fall short. Indeed,
it struck me this morning that I have of late been
rather remiss in attending to my duties, and I made
a sort of resolve to do better. You would see I was
at church to-day."

" You could not have been in a more fitting place,"
said the Minister.

Mr. Cassilis, despite the fact that he was talking
to the patron of the living — Lord Earlshope's father
had presented him to the parish of Airlie — ^was not
disposed to be too gracious to this young man,
whose manner of conduct, although in no way
openly sinful, had been a scandal to the neighbour-

" He'll have a heavy reckonin' to settle i' the next
worF," Andrew used to say, " be he lord or no lord.
What think ye, sirs, o' a young man that reads licht
books and smokes cigaurs frae the rising o' the sun
even till the ganging doon o' the same ; and roams
about on the Lord's day breaking in a wheen
pointers ?"

The boys looked on this visit of Lord Earlshope
as a blessed relief from the monotony of the Sunday
afternoon; and while they kept their eyes steadily

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directed on their books, listened eagerly to what he
had to say. This amusement did not last long.
His Lordship — scarcely taking any notice of
Coquette in his talk, though he sometimes looked
at her by chance — spoke chiefly of some repairs in
the church which he was willing to aid with a sub-
scription; and, having thus pleased the Minister,
mentioned that Earlshope itself had been under-
going repairs and redecoration.

"And I have no neighbours but yourselves,
Mr. Cassilis, to see our new grandeur. Will you
not pay Earlshope a visit? What do you say
to coming over, the whole of you, to-morrow fore-
noon, and seeing what I have done? I dare say
Mrs. Graham will be able to get some refreshment
for you ; and I should like your niece — ^whom I had
the pleasure of seeing on her way here — to give
me her opinion about an organ sent me from abroad.
What do you say ? I am sure the boys will enjoy
a holiday in the grounds, and be able to find amuse-
ment for themselves."

If the Whaup dared to have spoken, he would
have refused in indignant terms. The other boys
were delighted with the prospect — although they
were still supposed to be reading. Coquette merely
looked at Mr. Cassilis, apparently without much
interest, awaiting his answer.

Mr. Cassilis replied, in grave and dignified terms
of courtesy, that he would be proud to avail him-
self of his Lordship's invitation ; and added that he
hoped this re-establishment of the relations which
had existed between Earlshope and the Manse in the

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coquette's music. 41

time of his Lordship's father meant that he, the
present Lord Earlshope, intended to come oftenoi
to church than had been his wont of late. The
hint was conveyed in very plain language. The
young gentleman, however, took it in good part,
and speedily bade them good evening. He bowed to
Coquette as he passed her, and she returned his
obeisance, with her eyes fixed on the ground.


coquette's music.

What was this great rushing and whistling noise
that filled the girl's ears as the light of the morning
— entering by a small window which had no sort of
blind or shutter — fell on her face and opened her
confused eyes to its glare ? She had been dreaming
of Earlshope. Dreams are but rechauffees of past
experiences; and this ghostly Earlshope that she
visited in her sleep was a French Earlshope. The
broad blue Loire ran down a valley in front of it.
There were hills for a background which had long
terraces of vines on them. From the windows she
could see the steamers — mere dots with a long
serpent trail of smoke behind them — creep into the
haven of St. Nazaire ; and far over the sea lay the
calm summer stillness of a southern sky.

She awoke to find herself in Scotland. The
Manse shook in the wind. There was a roaring
of rain on the slates and the window panes, and

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a hissing outside of the deluge that was pouring
a red stream down the moorland road. Fierce gusts
from the south-west flew about the house, and
howled in the chimney overhead; and great grey-
masses of cloud, riven by the hurricane, came up
from over the sea and swept across the moor. The
room was cold and damp. When she had got up
and partly dressed, she went to the window. Along
the horizon there was a thin black line, dull as lead,
which was all that was visible of the sea. The
mountains of Arran had entirely disappeared, and in
their place was a wall of grey vapour. Flying
before the blast came huge volumes of smoke-like
cloud, and every now and again their lower edges
would be torn down by the wind and thrown upon
the moor in heavy, slanting torrents of rain ; while
there was a sound of rushing streams everywhere, •
and the trees and shrubs of the garden stood bent
and dark in the gleaming wet.
^ " No Earlshope for ye to-day," said the Whaup,
with ill-disguised glee, when she went downstairs
to breakfast.

" I am not sorry. What a dreadful chill country P
said Coquette, who was trembling with cold.

" Would you like a fire ?" said the Whaup,

^' A fire, indeed !" cried Leezibeth, as she entered
with the tray. " A fire in the middle o' summer !
We have na been brought up to sic luxuries in this
pairt o' the country."

" I am not very cold," said Coquette, sitting down
in a corner, and trying to keep herself from shivering.

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coquette's music. 43

The Whaup walked out of the room. He was too
angry to speak. He looked once at Leezibeth on
going out, and there was a blaze of anger in his

The Minister came in to breakfast, and they ali
sat down — all bnt the Whaup.

" Where is Thomas ?" said Mr. Cassilis.

The reply was a shrill scream from Leezibeth,
who was apparently at the door. At this moment
a wild crackling and sputtering of fire was heard
overhead, and as everybody rushed to the passage,
dense volumes of smoke came rolling down the
stairs, blown by the currents above. Leezibeth had
flown upstairs on first perceiving this smell of
burning. There, in Coquette's parlour, she caught
sight of the Whaup working like a demon within
douds of heavy and pungent smoke which had filled
the room, blown outwards by the fierce currents
coming down the chimney. With another cry of
alarm Leezibeth darted into the nearest bedroom,
and brought out a ewer of water, which she dis-
charged at the blazing mass of newspapers and
lumps of wood that the Whaup had crammed into
the small gr^te.

" Would ye set fire to the house ? Would ye set
fire to the house ?" she cried — and, indeed, it looked
as if the house were on fire.

"Tes, I would," shouted the demon in the smoke,
" rather than kill anybody wi' cold."

"Oh, it's that lassie — it's that lassie," cried
Leezibeth, " that'll be the ruin o' u» a'."

When assistance came, and the fire was. finally

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subdued, both the, Whaup and Leezibeth were spec-
tacles to have awakened the ridicule of gods and
men. The effect of the deluge of water had been
to send up a cloud of dust and ashes with the
smoke ; and their faces were tattooed so that even
Mr. Cassilis — for the first time these many years-
burst into a fit of laughter. Even Wattie laughed,
seeing which, the Whaup charged at him, caught
him by the waist, and carried him bodily down-
stairs and out through the rain to the yard, where
he made him work the iron handle of the pump.
When the Whaup made his appearance at the break-
fast table he was clean ; but both himself and his
brother were rather damp.

Mr. Cassilis severely reprimanded his eldest son ;
but he ordered Leezibeth to light a fire in Miss
Cassilis' room nevertheless. The wind had somewhat
abated, and the clouds had gathered for a steady
downpour. Leezibeth went to her appointed task
"v^th bitterness of heart, but she comforted herself
with texts. As she stuffed the unconsumed remnants
of the Whaup's bonfire into the grate, she uttered
a denunciation of the luxury and idleness which were
appearing for the first time in this godly house.

" But we," she muttered to herself, " who are the
poor o' this world, rich in faith, and heirs o' the
kingdom, maun bide and suffer. We maun e'en be
the servants o' such as this woman that has come
amongst us — such as lie upon beds of ivory, and
stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the
lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the
midst of the stall ; that chant to the sound of the

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viol, and inyent to themselves mstrnments of mnsic,
like David; that drink wine in bowls, and anoint
themselves wi' the chief ointments: but they are
not grieved for the affliction of Joseph."

Yet even these consolations did not quite allay
the irritation of her mind ; for a big tom cat that
belonged to the house having approached her elbow
too confidently, suddenly received a "skelp" that
sent him flying across the room and down the stairs
as if the spirits of a legion of dogs were pursuing

Airlie Manse was destined that day to be given up
to the sound of the viol and other heathenish re-
joicings. All thought of getting to Earlshope was

Online LibraryWilliam BlackA daughter of Heth: A novel → online text (page 3 of 30)