E-text prepared by Al Haines
KATE CARNEGIE AND THOSE MINISTERS.
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.
A CERTAIN BROTHERHOOD
Faithful in Criticism
Loyal in Affection
Tender in Trouble
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?"
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"
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 Muerren, 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.
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 with stoutness—it is his wife's reproach that he does not know when she wears her new spring bonnet for the first time. Yet he took in this young woman's dress, from the smart hat, with a white bird's wing on the side, and the close-fitting tailor made jacket, to the small, well-gloved hand in dogskin, the grey tweed skirt, and one shoe, with a tip on it, that peeped out below her frock. Critics might have hinted that her shoulders were too square, and that her figure wanted somewhat in softness of outline; but it seemed to Carmichael that he had never seen so winsome or high-bred a woman; and so it has also seemed to many who have gone farther afield in the world than the young minister of Drumtochty.
Carmichael was at that age when a man prides himself on dressing and thinking as he pleases, and had quite scandalised a Muirtown elder—a stout gentleman, who had come out in '43, and could with difficulty be weaned from Dr. Chalmers—by making his appearance on the preceding evening in amazing tweeds and a grey flannel shirt. He explained casually that for a fifteen-mile walk flannels were absolutely necessary, and that he was rather pleased to find that he had come from door to door in four hours and two minutes exactly. His host was at a loss for words, because he was comparing this unconventional youth with the fathers, who wore large white stocks and ambled along at about two and a half miles an hour, clearing their throats also in a very impressive way, and seasoning the principles of the Free Kirk with snuff of an excellent fragrance. It was hard even for the most generous charity to identify the spirit of the Disruption in such a figure, and the good elder grew so proper and so didactic that Carmichael went from bad to worse.
"Well, you would find the congregation in excellent order. The Professor was a most painstaking man, though retiring in disposition, and his sermons were thoroughly solid and edifying. They were possibly just a little above the heads of Drumtochty, but I always enjoyed Mr. Cunningham myself," nodding his head as one who understood all mysteries.
"Did you ever happen to hear the advice Jamie Soutar gave the deputation from Muirtown when they came up to see whether Cunningham would be fit for the North Kirk, where two Bailies stand at the plate every day, and the Provost did not think himself good enough to be an elder?" for Carmichael was full of wickedness that day, and earning a judgment.
His host indicated that the deputation had given in a very full and satisfactory report—he was, in fact, on the Session of the North himself—but that no reference had been made to Jamie.
"Well, you must know," and Carmichael laid himself out for narration, "the people were harassed with raids from the Lowlands during Cunningham's time, and did their best in self-defence. Spying makes men cunning, and it was wonderful how many subterfuges the deputations used to practise. They would walk from Kildrummie as if they were staying in the district, and one retired tradesman talked about the crops as if he was a farmer, but it was a pity that he did n't know the difference between the cereals.
"'Yon man that wes up aifter yir minister, Elspeth,' Hillocks said to Mrs. Macfadyen, 'hesna hed muckle money spent on his eddication. "A graund field o' barley," he says, and as sure as a 'm stannin' here, it wes the haugh field o' aits.'
"'He 's frae Glaisgie,' was all Elspeth answered, 'and by next Friday we 'll hae his name an' kirk. He said he wes up for a walk an' juist dropped in, the wratch.'
"Some drove from Muirtown, giving out that they were English tourists, speaking with a fine East Coast accent, and were rebuked by Lachlan Campbell for breaking the Sabbath. Your men put up their trap at the last farm in Netheraird—which always has grudged Drumtochty its ministers and borne their removal with resignation—and came up in pairs, who pretended they did not know one another.
"Jamie was hearing the Professor's last lecture on Justification, and our people asked him to take charge of the strangers. He found out the town from their hats, and escorted them to the boundaries of the parish, assisting their confidences till one of your men—I think it was the Provost—admitted that it had taken them all their time to follow the sermon.
"'A 'm astonished at ye,' said Jamie, for the Netheraird man let it out; 'yon wes a sermon for young fouk, juist milk, ye ken, tae the ordinar' discoorses. Surely,' as if the thought had just struck him, 'ye werena thinkin' o' callin' Maister Cunningham tae Muirtown.
"'Edinboorgh, noo; that micht dae gin the feck o' the members be professors, but Muirtown wud be clean havers. There's times when the Drumtochty fouk themsels canna understand the cratur, he 's that deep. As for Muirtown'—here Jamie allowed himself a brief rest of enjoyment; 'but ye've hed a fine drive, tae say naethin' o' the traivel.'"
Then, having begun, Carmichael retailed so many of Jamie's most wicked sayings, and so exalted the Glen as a place "where you can go up one side and down the other with your dogs, and every second man you meet will give you something to remember," that the city dignitary doubted afterwards to his wife "whether this young man was . . . quite what we have been accustomed to in a Free Church minister." Carmichael ought to have had repentances for shocking a worthy man, but instead thereof laughed in his room and slept soundly, not knowing that he would be humbled in the dust by mid-day to-morrow.
It seemed to him on the platform as if an hour passed while he, who had played with a city father, stood, clothed with shame, before this commanding young woman. Had she ever looked upon a more abject wretch? and Carmichael photographed himself with merciless accuracy, from his hair that he had not thrown back to an impress of dust which one knee had taken from the platform, and he registered a resolution that he would never be again boastfully indifferent to the loss of a button on his coat. She stooped and fed the dogs, who did her homage, and he marked that her profile was even finer—more delicate, more perfect, more bewitching—than her front face, but he still stood holding his shapeless hat in his hand, and for the first time in his life had no words to say.
"They are very polite dogs," and Miss Carnegie gave Carmichael one more chance; "they make as much of a biscuit as if it were a feast; but I do think dogs have such excellent manners, they are always so un-self-conscious."
"I wish I were a dog," said Carmichael, with much solemnity, and afterwards was filled with thankfulness that the baggage behind gave way at that moment, and that an exasperated porter was able to express his mind freely.
"Dinna try tae lift that box for ony sake, man. Sall, ye 're no' feared," as Carmichael, thirsting for action, swung it up unaided; and then, catching sight of the merest wisp of white, "A' didna see ye were a minister, an' the word cam oot sudden."
"You would find it a help to say Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Durham," and with a smile to Carmichael, still bareheaded and now redder than ever, Miss Carnegie went along the platform to see the Hielant train depart. It was worth waiting to watch the two minutes' scrimmage, and to hear the great man say, as he took off his cap with deliberation and wiped his brow, "That's anither year ower; some o' you lads see tae that Dunleith train." There was a day when Carmichael would have enjoyed the scene to the full, but now he had eyes for nothing but that tall, slim figure and the white bird's wing.
When they disappeared into the Dunleith train, Carmichael had a wild idea of entering the same compartment, and in the end had to be pushed into the last second by the guard, who knew most of his regular people and every one of the Drumtochty men. He was so much engaged with his own thoughts that he gave two English tourists to understand that Lord Kilspindie's castle, standing amid its woods on the bank of the Tay, was a recently erected dye work, and that as the train turned off the North trunk line for Dunleith they might at any moment enter the pass of Killiecrankie.
"The last stage now, Kit; in less than two hours we'll see Tochty woods. The very thought makes me a boy again, and it seems yesterday that I kissed your mother on the door-step of the old lodge and went off to the Crimean war.
"That's Muirtown Castle over there in the wood—a grand place in its way, but nothing to our home, lassie. Kilspindie—he was Viscount Hay then—joined me at Muirtown, and we fought through the weary winter. He left the army after the war, with lots of honour. A good fellow was Hay, both in the trenches and the messroom.
"I 've never seen him since, and I dare say he 's forgotten a battered old Indian. Besides, he's the big swell in this district, and I 'm only a poor Hielant laird, with a wood and a tumble-down house and a couple of farms."
"You are also a shameless hypocrite and deceiver, for you believe that the Carnegies are as old as the Hays, and you know that, though you have only two farms, you have twelve medals and seven wounds. What does money matter? it simply makes people vulgar."
"Nonsense, lassie; if a Carnegie runs down money, it's because he has got none and wishes he had. If you and I had only a few hundreds a year over the half-pay to rattle in our pockets, we should have lots of little pleasures, and you might have lived in England, with all sorts of variety and comfort, instead of wandering about India with a gang of stupid old chaps who have been so busy fighting that they never had time to read a book."
"You mean like yourself, dad, and V. C. and Colonel Kinloch? Where could a girl have found finer company than with my Knights of King Arthur? And do you dare to insinuate that I could have been content away from the regiment, that made me their daughter after mother died, and the army?
"Pleasure!" and Kate's cheek flushed. "I 've had it since I was a little tot and could remember anything—the bugles sounding reveille in the clear air, and the sergeants drilling the new drafts in the morning, and the regiment coming out with the band before and you at its head, and hearing 'God save the Queen' at a review, and seeing the companies passing like one man before the General.
"Don't you think that's better than tea-drinking, and gossiping, and sewing meetings, and going for walks in some stupid little hole of a country town? Oh, you wicked, aggravating dad. Now, what more will money do?"
"Well," said the General, with much gravity, "if you were even a moderate heiress there is no saying but that we might pick up a presentable husband for you among the lairds. As it is, I fancy a country minister is all you could expect.
"Don't . . . my ears will come off some day; one was loosened by a cut in the Mutiny. No, I 'll never do the like again. But some day you will marry, all the same," and Kate's father rubbed his ears.
"No, I 'm not going to leave you, for nobody else could ever make a curry to please; and if I do, it will not be a Scotch minister—horrid, bigoted wretches, V. C. says. Am I like a minister's wife, to address mothers' meetings and write out sermons? By the way, is there a kirk at Drumtochty, or will you read prayers to Janet and Donald and me?"
"When I was a lad there was just one minister in Drumtochty, Mr. Davidson, a splendid specimen of the old school, who, on great occasions, wore gaiters and a frill with a diamond in the centre; he carried a gold-headed stick, and took snuff out of a presentation box.
"His son Sandie was my age to a year, and many a ploy we had together; there was the jackdaw's nest in the ivy on the old tower we harried together," and the General could only indicate the delightful risk of the exploit. "My father and the minister were pacing the avenue at the time, and caught sight of us against the sky. 'It's your rascal and mine, Laird,' we heard the minister say, and they waited till we got down, and then each did his duty by his own for trying to break his neck; but they were secretly proud of the exploit, for I caught my father showing old Lord Kilspindie the spot, and next time Hay was up he tried to reach the place, and stuck where the wall hangs over. I 'll point out the hole this evening; you can see it from the other side of the den quite plain."
"Sandie went to the church—I wish every parson were as straight—and Kilspindie appointed him to succeed the old gentleman, and when I saw him in his study last month, it seemed as if his father stood before you, except the breeches and the frill; but Sandie has a marvellous stock—what havers I 'm deivin' you with, lassie."
"Tell me about Sandie this minute—did he remember the raiding of the jack-daws?"
"He did," cried the General, in great spirits; "he just looked at me for an instant—no one knew of my visit—and then he gripped my hands, and do you know, Kit, he was . . . well, and there was a lump in my throat too; it would be about thirty years, for one reason and another, since we met."
"What did he say? the very words, dad," and Kate held up her finger in command.
"'Jack, old man, is this really you?'—he held me at arm's length—'man, div ye mind the jackdaw's nest?'"
"Did he? And he 's to be our padre. I know I 'll love him at once. Go on, everything, for you 've never told me anything about Drumtochty."
"We had a glorious time going over old times. We fished up every trout again, and we shot our first day on the moor again with Peter Stewart, Kilspindie's head keeper, as fine an old Highlander as ever lived. Stewart said in the evening, 'You 're a pair of prave boys, as becometh your fathers' sons,' and Sandie gave him two and fourpence he had scraped for a tip, but I had only one and elevenpence—we were both kept bare. But he knew better than to refuse our offerings, though he never saw less than gold or notes from the men that shot at the lodge, and Sandie remembered how he touched his Highland bonnet and said, 'I will be much obliged to you both; and you will be coming to the moor another day, for I hef his lordship's orders.'
"Boys are queer animals, lassie; we were prouder that Peter accepted our poor little tip than about the muirfowl we shot, though I had three brace and Sandie four. Highlanders are all gentlemen by birth, and be sure of this, Kit, it's only that breed which can manage boys and soldiers. But where am I now?"
"With Sandie—I beg his reverence's pardon—with the Rev. the padre of Drumtochty," and Kate went over and sat down beside the General to anticipate any rebellion, for it was a joy to see the warrior turning into a boy before her eyes. "Well?"
"We had a royal dinner, as it seemed to me. Sandie has a couple of servants, man and wife, who rule him with a rod of iron, but I would forgive that for the cooking and the loyalty. After dinner he disappeared with a look of mystery, and came back with a cobwebbed bottle of the old shape, short and bunchy, which he carried as if it were a baby.
"'Just two bottles of my father's port left; we 'll have one to-day to welcome you back, and we 'll keep the other to celebrate your daughter's marriage.' He had one sister, younger by ten years, and her death in girlhood nearly broke his heart. It struck me from something he said that his love is with her; at any rate, he has never married. Sandie has just one fault—he would not touch a cheroot; but he snuffs handsomely out of his father's box.
"Of course, I can't say anything about his preaching, but it's bound to be sensible stuff."
"Bother the sermons; he 's an old dear himself, and I know we shall be great friends. We 'll flirt together, and you will not have one word to say, so make up your mind to submit."
"We shall have good days in the old place, lassie; but you know we are poor, and must live quietly. What I have planned is a couple of handy women or so in the house with Donald. Janet is going to live at the gate where she was brought up, but she will look after you well, and we 'll always have a bed and a glass of wine for a friend. Then you can have a run up to London and get your things, Kit," and the General looked wistfully at his daughter, as one who would have given her a kingdom.
"Do you think your girl cares so much about luxuries and dresses? Of course I like to look well—every woman does, and if she pretends otherwise she 's a hypocrite; but money just seems to make some women hideous. It is enough for me to have you all to myself up in your old home, and to see you enjoying the rest you have earned. We'll be as happy as two lovers, dad," and Kate threw an arm round her father's neck and kissed him.
"We have to change here," as the train began to slow; "prepare to see the most remarkable railway in the empire, and a guard to correspond." And then it came upon them, the first sight that made a Drumtochty man's heart warm, and assured him that he was nearing home.
An engine on a reduced scale, that had once served in the local goods department of a big station, and then, having grown old and asthmatic, was transferred on half-pay, as it were, to the Kildrummie branch, where it puffed between the junction and the terminus half a dozen times a day, with two carriages and an occasional coal truck. Times there were when wood was exported from Kildrummie, and then the train was taken down in detachments, and it was a pleasant legend that, one market day, when Drumtochty was down in force, the engine stuck, and Drumsheugh invited the Glen to get out and push. The two carriages were quite distinguished in construction, and had seen better days. One consisted of a single first-class compartment in the centre, with a bulge of an imposing appearance, supported on either side by two seconds. As no native ever travelled second, one compartment had been employed as a reserve to the luggage van, so that Drumtochty might have a convenient place of deposit for calves, but the other was jealously reserved by Peter Bruce for strangers with second-class tickets, that his branch might not be put to confusion. The other carriage was three-fourths third class and one-fourth luggage, and did the real work; on its steps Peter stood and dispensed wisdom, between the junction and Kildrummie.
But neither the carriages nor the engine could have made history without the guard, beside whom the guards of the main line—even of the expresses that ran to London—were as nothing—fribbles and weaklings. For the guard of the Kildrummie branch was absolute ruler, lording it over man and beast without appeal, and treating the Kildrummie stationmaster as a federated power. Peter was a short man of great breadth, like unto the cutting of an oak-tree, with a penetrating grey eye, an immovable countenance, and bushy whiskers. It was understood that when the line was opened, and the directors were about to fill up the post of guard from a number of candidates qualified by long experience on various lines, Peter, who had been simply wasting his time driving a carrier's cart, came in, and sitting down opposite the board—two lairds and a farmer—looked straight before him without making any application. It was felt by all in an instant that only one course was open, in the eternal fitness of things. Experience was well enough, but special creation was better, and Peter was immediately appointed, his name being asked by the chairman afterwards as a formality. From the beginning he took up a masterful position, receiving his human cargo at the junction and discharging it at the station with a power that even Drumtochty did not resist, and a knowledge of individuals that was almost comprehensive. It is true that, boasting one Friday evening concerning the "crooded" state of the train, he admitted with reluctance that "there 's a stranger in the second I canna mak oot," but it is understood that he solved the problem before the man got his luggage at Kildrummie.
Perhaps Peter's most famous achievement was his demolition of a south country bagman, who had made himself unpleasant, and the story was much tasted by our guard's admirers. This self-important and vivacious gentleman, seated in the first, was watching Peter's leisurely movements on the Kildrummie platform with much impatience, and lost all self-control on Peter going outside to examine the road for any distant passenger.
"Look here, guard, this train ought to have left five minutes ago, and I give you notice that if we miss our connection I 'll hold your company responsible."
At the sound of this foreign voice with its indecent clamour, Peter returned and took up his position opposite the speaker, while the staff and the whole body of passengers—four Kildrummie and three Drumtochty, quite sufficient for the situation—waited the issue. Not one word did Peter deign to reply, but he fixed the irate traveller with a gaze so searching, so awful, so irresistible, that the poor man fell back into his seat and pretended to look out at the opposite window. After a pause of thirty seconds, Peter turned to the engine-driver.
"They 're a' here noo, an' there 's nae use waitin' langer; ca' awa', but ye needna distress the engine."
It was noticed that the foolhardy traveller kept the full length of the junction between himself and Peter till the Dunleith train came in, while his very back was eloquent of humiliation, and Hillocks offered his snuff-box ostentatiously to Peter, which that worthy accepted as a public tribute of admiration.
"Look, Kate, there he is;" and there Peter was, standing in his favourite attitude, his legs wide apart and his thumbs in his armholes, superior, abstracted, motionless till the train stopped, when he came forward.
"Prood tae see ye, General, coming back at laist, an' the Miss wi' ye; it 'll no be the blame o' the fouk up by gin ye bena happy. Drumtochty hes an idea o' itsel', and peety the man 'at tries tae drive them, but they 're couthy.
"This wy, an' a'll see tae yir luggage," and before Peter made for the Dunleith van it is said that he took off his cap to Kate; but if so, this was the only time he had ever shown such gallantry to a lady.
Certainly he must have been flustered by something, for he did not notice that Carmichael, overcome by shyness at the sight of the Carnegies in the first, had hid himself in the second, till he closed the doors; then the Carnegies heard it all.
"It's I, Peter," very quietly; "your first has passengers to-day, and . . . I 'll just sit here."
"Come oot o' that," after a moment, during which Peter had simply looked; then the hat and the tweeds came stumbling into the first, making some sort of a bow and muttering an apology.
"A'll tak' yir ticket, Maister Carmichael," with severity. "General," suddenly relaxing, "this is the Free Kirk minister of yir pairish, an' a 'm jidgin' he 'll no try the second again."
Carmichael lifted his head and caught Kate's eye, and at the meeting of humour they laughed aloud. Whereupon the General said, "My daughter, Miss Carnegie," and they became so friendly before they reached Kildrummie that Carmichael forgot his disgraceful appearance and when the General offered him a lift up, simply clutched at the opportunity.
The trap was a four-wheeled dog-cart. Kate drove, with her father by her side and Carmichael behind, but he found it necessary to turn round to give information of names and places, and he so managed that he could catch Kate's profile half the time.
When he got down at the foot of the hill by Hillocks' farm, to go up the near road, instead thereof he scrambled along the ridge, and looked through the trees as the carriage passed below; but he did not escape.
"What's he glowerin' at doon there?" Hillocks inquired of Jamie Soutar, to whom he was giving some directions about a dyke, and Hillocks made a reconnaissance. "A 'll warrant that's the General and his dochter. She 's a weel-faured lassie an' speerity-lookin'."
"It cowes a'," said Jamie to himself; "the first day he ever saw her; but it's aye the way, aince an' ever, or . . . never."
"What's the Free Kirk, dad?" when Carmichael had gone. "Is it the same as the Methodists?"
"No, no, quite different. I 'm not up in those things, but I 've heard it was a lot of fellows who would not obey the laws, and so they left and made a kirk for themselves, where they do whatever they like. By the way, that was the young fellow we saw giving the dogs water at Muirtown. I rather like him; but why did he look such a fool, and try to escape us at the junction?"
"How should I know? I suppose because he is a . . . foolish boy. And now, dad, for the Lodge and Tochty woods."
A HOME OF MANY GENERATIONS.
It was the custom of the former time to construct roads on a straight line, with a preference for uphill and down, and engineers refused to make a circuit of twenty yards to secure level ground. There were two advantages in this uncompromising principle of construction, and it may be doubtful which commended itself most to the mind of our fathers. Roads were drained after the simplest fashion, because a standing pool in the hollow had more than a compensation in the dryness of the ascent and descent, while the necessity of sliddering down one side and scrambling up the other reduced driving to the safe average of four miles an hour—horse-doctors forming a class by themselves, and being preserved in their headlong career by the particular Providence which has a genial regard for persons who have too little sense or have taken too much liquor. Degenerate descendants, anxious to obtain the maximum of speed with the minimum of exertion, have shown a quite wonderful ingenuity in circumventing hills, so the road between Drumtochty Manse and Tochty Lodge gate was duplicated, and the track that plunged into the hollow was now forsaken of wheeled traffic and overgrown with grass.
"This way, Kate; it's the old road, and the way I came to kirk with my mother. Yes, it's narrow, but we'll get through and down below—it is worth the seeing."
So they forced a passage where the overgrown hedges resisted the wheels, and the trees, wet with a morning shower, dashed Kate's jacket with a pleasant spray, and the rail of the dog-cart was festooned with tendrils of honeysuckle and wild geranium.
"There is the parish kirk of Drumtochty," as they came out and halted on the crest of the hill, "and though it be not much to look at after the Norman churches of the south, it's a brave old kirk in our fashion, and well set in the Glen."
For it stood on a knoll, whence the ground sloped down to the Tochty, and it lay with God's acre round it in the shining of the sun. Half a dozen old beeches made a shadow in the summer-time, and beat off the winter's storms. One standing at the west corner of the kirkyard had a fuller and sweeter view of the Glen than could be got anywhere save from the beeches at the Lodge; but then nothing like unto that can be seen far or near, and I have marvelled why painting men have never had it on their canvas.
"Our vault is at the east end, where the altar was in the old days, and there our dead of many generations lie. A Carnegie always prayed to be buried with his people in Drumtochty, but as it happened, two out of three of our house have fallen on the field, and so most of us have not had our wish.
"Black John, my great-grandfather, was out in '45, and escaped to France. He married a Highland lassie orphaned there, and entered the French service, as many a Scot did before him since the days of the Scots Guards. But when he felt himself a-dying, he asked leave of the English government to come home, and he would not die till he laid himself down in his room in the tower. Then he gave directions for his funeral, how none were to be asked of the county folk but Drummonds and Hays and Stewarts from Blair Athole and such like that had been out with the Prince. And he made his wife promise that she would have him dressed for his coffin as he fought on Culloden field, for he had kept the clothes.
"Then he asked that the window should be opened that he might hear the lilting of the burn below; and he called for my grandfather, who was only a young lad, and commanded him to enter one of the Scottish regiments and be a loyal kingsman, since all was over with the Stewarts.
"He said a prayer and kissed his wife's hand, being a courtly gentleman, and died listening to the sound of the water running over the stones in the den below."
"It was as good as dying on the field," said Kate, her face flushing with pride; "that is an ancestor worth remembering; and did he get a worthy funeral?"
"More than he asked for; his old comrades gathered from far and near, and some of the chiefs that were out of hiding came down, and they brought him up this very road, with the pipers playing before the coffin. Fifty gentlemen buried John Carnegie, and every man of them had been out with the Prince.
"When they gathered in the stone hall you 'll see soon, his friend-in-arms, Patrick Murray, gave three toasts. The first was 'the king,' and every man bared his head; the second was 'to him that is gone;' the third was 'to the friends that are far awa';' and then one of the chiefs proposed another, 'to the men of Culloden;' and after that every gentleman dashed his glass on the floor. Though he was only a little lad at the time, my grandfather never forgot the sight.
"He also told me that his mother never shed a tear, but looked prouder than he ever saw her, and before they left the hall she bade each gentleman good-bye, and to the chief she spoke in Gaelic, being of Cluny's blood and a gallant lady.
"Another thing she did also which the lad could not forget, for she brought down her husband's sword from the room in the turret, and Patrick Murray, of the House of Athole, fastened it above the big fireplace, where it hangs unto this day, crossed now with my father's, as you will see, Kate, unless we stand here all day going over old stories."
"They 're glorious stories, dad; why did n't you tell them to me before? I want to get into the spirit of the past and feel the Carnegie blood swinging in my veins before we come to the Lodge. What did they do afterwards, or was that all?"
"They mounted their horses in the courtyard, and as each man passed out of the gate he took off his hat and bowed low to the widow, who stood in a window I will show you, and watched till the last disappeared into the avenue; but my grandfather ran out and saw them ride down the road in order of threes, a goodly company of gentlemen. But this sight is better than horsemen and swords."
They were now in the hollow between the kirk and the Lodge, a cup of greenery surrounded by wood. Behind, they still saw the belfry through the beeches; before, away to the right, the grey stone of a turret showed among the trees. The burn that sang to Black John ran beneath them with a pleasant sound, and fifty yards of turf climbed up to the cottage where the old road joined the new and the avenue of the Lodge began. Over this ascent the branches met, through which the sunshine glimmered and flickered, and down the centre came a white and brown cow in charge of an old woman.
"It's Bell Robb, that lives in the cottage there among the bushes. I was at the parish school with her, Kate—she 's just my age—for we were all John Tamson's bairns in those days, and got our learning and our licks together, laird's son and cottar's daughter.
"People would count it a queer mixture nowadays, but there were some advantages in the former parish school idea; there were lots of cleverer subalterns in the old regiment, but none knew his men so well as I did. I had played and fought with their kind. Would you mind saying a word to Bell . . . just her name or something?" for this was a new life to the pride of the regiment, as they called Kate, and Carnegie was not sure how she might take it. Kate was a lovable lass, but like every complete woman, she had a temper and a stock of prejudices. She was good comrade with all true men, although her heart was whole, and with a few women that did not mince their words or carry two faces, but Kate had claws inside the velvet, and once she so handled with her tongue a young fellow who offended her that he sent in his papers. What she said was not much, but it was memorable, and every word drew blood. Her father was never quite certain what she would do, although he was always sure of her love.
"Do you suppose, dad, that I 'm to take up with all your friends of the jackdaw days? You seem to have kept fine company." Kate was already out of the dogcart, and now took Bell by the hand.
"I am the General's daughter, and he was telling me that you and he were playmates long ago. You 'll let me come to see you, and you 'll tell me all his exploits when he was John Carnegie?"
"To think he minded me, an' him sae lang awa' at the weary wars." Bell was between the laughing and the crying. "We 're lifted to know oor laird 's a General, and that he's gotten sic honour. There's nae bluid like the auld bluid, an' the Carnegies cud aye afford to be hamely.
"Ye're like him," and Bell examined Kate carefully; "but a' can tell yir mither's dochter, a weel-faured mettlesome lady as wes ever seen; wae 's me, wae 's me for the wars," at the sight of Carnegie's face; "but ye 'll come in to see Marjorie. A 'll mak her ready," and Bell hurried into the cottage.
"Marjorie has been blind from her birth. She was the pet of the school, and now Bell takes care of her. Davidson was telling me that she wanted to support Marjorie off the wages she earns as a field hand on the farms, and the parish had to force half-a-crown a week on them; but hear this."
"Never mind hoo ye look," Bell was speaking. "A' canna keep them waitin' till ye be snoddit."
"Gie me ma kep, at ony rate, that the minister brocht frae Muirtown, and Drumsheugh's shawl; it wudna be respectfu' to oor Laird, an' it his first veesit;" and there was a note of refinement in the voice, as of one living apart.
"Yes, I'm here, Marjorie," and the General stooped over the low bed where the old woman was lying, "and this is my daughter, the only child left me; you would hear that all my boys were killed."
"We did that, and we were a' wae for ye; a' thocht o' ye and a' saw ye in yir sorrow, for them 'at canna see ootside see the better inside. But it 'll be some comfort to be in the hame o' yir people aince mair, and to ken ye 've dune yir wark weel. It's pleasant for us to think the licht 'll be burnin' in the windows o' the Lodge again, and that ye 're come back aifter the wars.
"Miss Kate, wull ye lat me pass ma hand ower yir face, an' then a 'll ken what like ye are better nor some 'at hes the joy o' seein' ye wi' their een. . . . The Glen 'll be the happier for the sicht o' ye; a' thank ye for yir kindness to a puir woman."
"If you begin to pay compliments, Marjorie, I 'll tell you what I think of that cap; for the pink is just the very shade for your complexion, and it's a perfect shape."
"Ma young minister, Maister Carmichael, seleckit it in Muirtown, an' a' heard that he went ower sax shops to find one to his fancy; he never forgets me, an' he wrote me a letter on his holiday. A'body likes him for his bonnie face an' honest ways."
"Oh, I know him already, Marjorie, for he drove up with us, and I thought him very nice; but we must go, for you know I 've not yet seen our home, and I 'm just tingling with curiosity."
"You 'll not leave without breakin' bread; it's little we hae, but we can offer ye oat-cake an' milk in token o' oor loyalty," and then Bell brought the elements of Scottish food; and when Marjorie's lips moved in prayer as they ate, it seemed to Carnegie and his daughter like a sacrament. So the two went from the fellowship of the poor to their ancient house.
They drove along the avenue between the stately beeches that stood on either side and reached out their branches, almost but not quite unto meeting, so that the sun, now in the south, made a train of light down which the General and Kate came home. At the end of the beeches the road wheeled to the right, and Kate saw for the first time the dwelling-place of her people. Tochty Lodge was of the fourth period of Scottish castellated architecture, and till it fell into disrepair was a very perfect example of the sixteenth century mansion-house, where strength of defence could not yet be dispensed with, for the Carnegies were too near the Highland border to do without thick walls or to risk habitation on the ground floor. The buildings had first been erected on the L plan, and then had been made into a quadrangle, so that on the left was the main part, with a tower at the south-west corner over the den, and a wing at the south-east coming out to meet the gate. On the north-east and north were a tower and rooms now in ruins, and along the west ran a wall some six feet high with a stone walk three feet from the top, whence you could look down on the burn. A big gateway, whose doors were of oak studded with nails, with a grated lattice for observation, gave entrance to the courtyard. In the centre of the yard there was an ancient oak and a draw well whose water never failed. The eastern face was bare of ivy, except at the north corner, where stood the jackdaws' tower; but the rough grey stone was relieved by the tendrils and red blossoms of the hardy tropaeolum which despises the rich soil of the south and the softer air, and grows luxuriantly on our homely northern houses. As they came to the gateway, the General bade Kate pull up and read the scroll above, which ran in clear-cut letters—
TRY AND THEN TRVST BETTER GVDE ASSVRANCE BOT TRUST NOT OR YE TRY FOR FEAR OF REPENTANCE.
"We 've been a slow dour race, Kit, who never gave our heart lightly, but having given it, never played the traitor. Fortune has not favoured us, for acre after acre has gone from our hands, but, thank God, we 've never had dishonour."
"And never will, dad, for we are the last of the race."
Janet Macpherson was waiting in the deep doorway of the tower, and gave Kate welcome as one whose ancestors had for four generations served the Carnegies, since the day Black John had married a Macpherson.
"Calf of my heart," she cried, and took Kate in her arms. "It is your foster-mother that will be glad to see you in the home of your people, and will be praying that God will give you peace and good days."
Then they went up the winding stone stair, with deep, narrow windows, and came into the dining-hall where the fifty Jacobites toasted the king and many a gathering had taken place in the olden time. It was thirty-five feet long by fifteen broad, and twenty-two feet high. The floor was of flags over arches below, and the bare stone walls showed at the windows and above the black oak panelling which reached ten feet from the ground. The fireplace was six feet high, and so wide that two could sit on either side within. Upon the mantelpiece the Carnegie arms stood out in bold relief under the two crossed swords. One or two portraits of dead Carnegies and some curious weapons broke the monotony of the walls, and from the roof hung a finely wrought iron candelabra. The western portion of the hall was separated by a screen of open woodwork, and made a pleasant dining-room. A door in the corner led into the tower, which had a library, with Carnegie's bedroom above, and higher still Kate's room, each with a tiny dressing closet. For the Carnegies always lived together in this tower, and their guests at the other end of the hall. The library had two windows. From one you could look down and see nothing but the foliage of the den, with a gleam of water where the burn made a pool, and from the other you looked over a meadow with big trees to the Tochty sweeping round a bend, and across to the high opposite banks covered with brush-wood. First they visited Carnegie's room.
"Here have we been born, and died if we did not fall in battle, and it's not a bad billet after all for an old soldier. Yes, that is your mother when we were married, but I like this one better," and the General touched his breast, for he carried his love next his heart in a silver locket of Indian workmanship.
Three fine deerskins lay on the floor, and one side of the room was hung with tapestry; but the most striking piece of furnishing in the room was an oak cupboard, sunk a foot into the wall.
"I 'll show you something in that cabinet after luncheon, Kate; but now let's see your room."
"How beautiful, and how cunning you have been," and then she took an inventory of the furniture, all new, but all in keeping with the age of the room. "You have spent far too much on a very self-willed and bad-tempered girl, and all I can do is to make you promise that you will come up here sometimes and let me give you tea in this window-seat, where we can see the woods and the Tochty."
"Well, Donald," said the General at table to his faithful servant, "how do you think Drumtochty will suit you?"
"Any place where you and Miss Kate will be living iss a good place for me, and there are six or maybe four men I hef been meeting that hef the language, but not good Gaelic—just poor Perthshire talk," for Donald was a West Highlander, and prided himself on his better speech.
"And what about a kirk, Donald? Aren't you Free like Janet?"
"Oh, yes, I am Free; but it iss not to that kirk I will be going most here, and I am telling Janet that she will be caring more about a man that hass a pleasant way with him than about the truth."
"What's wrong with things, Donald, since we lay in Edinburgh twenty years ago, and you used to give me bits of the Free Kirk sermons?"
"It iss all wrong that they hef been going these last years, for they stand to sing and they sit to pray, and they will be using human himes. And it iss great pieces of the Bible they hef cut out, and I am told that they are not done yet, but are going from bad to worse," and Donald invited questioning.
"What more are they after, man?"
"It will be myself that has found it out, and it iss only what might be expected, but I am not saying that you will be believing me."
"Out with it, Donald; let's hear what kind of people we 've come amongst."
"They 've been just fairly left to themselves, and the godless bodies hef taken to watering the whisky."
A SECRET CHAMBER.
"The cabinet now, dad, and at once," when they went up the stairs and were standing in the room. "Just give me three guesses about the mystery; but first let me examine."
It was pretty to see Kate opening the doors, curiously carved with hunting scenes, and searching the interior, tapping with her knuckles and listening for a hollow sound.
"Is it a treasure we are to find? Then that's one point. Not in the cabinet? I have it; there is a door into some other place; am n't I right?"
"Where could it be? We're in a tower cut off from the body of the Lodge, with a room above and a room below;" and the General sat down to allow full investigation.
After many journeys up and down the stair, and many questions that brought no light, Kate played a woman's trick up in her room.
"The General wishes to show me the concealed room in this tower, Janet, or whatever you call it. Would you kindly tell us how to get entrance? You need n't come down; just explain to me;" and Kate was very pleasant indeed.
"Yes, I am hearing there iss a room in the tower, Miss Kate, that strangers will not be able to find; and it would be very curious if the Carnegies did not have a safe place for an honest gentleman when he wass in a little trouble. All the good houses will have their secret places, and it will not be easy to find some of them. Oh no; now I will remember one at Glamis Castle. . . ."
"Never mind Glamis, nurse, for the General is waiting. Where is the spring? is it in the oak cabinet?"
"It will be good for the General to be resting himself after his luncheon, and he will be thinking many things in his room. Oh yes," continued Janet, settling herself down to narrative, and giving no heed to Kate's beguiling ways, "old Mary that died near a hundred would be often telling me stories of the old days when I wass a little girl, and the one I liked best wass about the hiding of the Duke of Perth."
"You will tell me that to-morrow, when I come down to see your house, Janet, and to-day you 'll tell me how to open the spring."
"But it would be a pity not to finish the story about the Duke of Perth, for it goes well, and it will be good for a Carnegie to hear it." And Kate flung herself into the window-seat, but was hugely interested all the same.
"Mary wass sitting at her door in the evening, and that would be three days after Culloden, for the news had been sent by a sure hand from the Laird, when a man came riding along the road, and as soon as Mary saw him she knew he wass somebody; but perhaps it will be too long a story," and Janet began to arrange dresses in a wardrobe.
"No, no; as you have begun it, I want to hear the end, but quick, for there 's the room to see and the rest of the Lodge before it grows dark. What like was he?"
"He wass a man that looked as if he would be commanding, but his clothes were common grey, and stained with the road. He wass very tired, and could hardly hold himself up in the saddle, and his horse wass covered with foam. 'Is this Tochty Lodge?' he asked, softening his voice as one trying to speak humbly. 'I am passing this way, and have a message for Mistress Carnegie; think you that I can have speech of her quietly?'
"So Mary will go up and tell the lady that one wass waiting to see her, and that he seemed a noble gentleman. When they came down to the courtyard he had drawn water for his horse from the well, and wass giving him to drink, thinking more of the beast that had borne him than of his own need, as became a man of birth.
"At the sight of the lady he took off his bonnet and bowed low, and asked if he might hef a private audience, to which Mistress Carnegie replied, 'We are private here,' and asked, 'Have you been with my son?'
"'We fought together for the Prince three days since—my name is Perth. I am escaping for my life, and desire a brief rest, if it please you, and bring no danger to your house.'
"'Ye had been welcome, my Lord Duke,' and Mary used to show how her mistress straightened herself, though you were the poorest soldier that had drawn his sword for the good cause, and ye will stay here till it be safe for you to escape to France.'
"He wass four weeks hidden in the room, and although the soldiers searched all the house, they could never find the place, and Mrs. Carnegie put scorn upon them, asking why they did her so much honour and whom they sought. Oh yes, it wass a cunning place for the bad times, and you will be pleased to see it."
"And the secret, Janet," cried Kate, her hand upon the door; "you know it quite well."
"So does the General, Catherine of my heart," said Janet, "and he will be liking to show it himself."
So Kate departed in a rage, and gave orders that there be no more delay, for she would not spend an afternoon seeking for rat-holes.
"No rat-hole, Kit, but a very fair chamber for a hunted man; it is twenty years and more since this door opened last, for none knows the trick of it save Janet and myself. There it goes."
A panel in the back of the cabinet slid aside behind its neighbour and left a passage through which one could squeeze himself with an effort.
"We go up a stair now, and must have light; a candle will do; the air is perfectly pure, for there 's plenty of ventilation;" and then they crept up by steps in the thickness of the walls, till they stood in a chamber under six feet high, but otherwise as large as the bedroom below. The walls were lined with wood, and there were two tiny slits that gave air, but hardly any light. The only furniture in the room was an oaken chest, clasped with iron and curiously locked.
"Our plate chest, Kit; but there 'a not much silver and gold in it, worse luck for you, lassie; in fact, we're a pack of fools to set store by it. There 's nothing in the kist but some old clothes, and perhaps some buckles and such like. I dare say there is a lock of hair also. Some day we will have a look inside."
"To-day, instantly," and Kate shook her father. "You are a dreadful hypocrite, for I can see that you would rather Tochty were burned down than this box be lost. Are there any relics of Prince Charlie in it? Quick."
"Be patient; it's a difficult key to turn; there now;" but there was not much to see—only pieces of woollen cloth tightly folded down.
"Call Janet, Kate, for she ought to see this opening, and we 'll carry everything down to my room, for no one could tell what like things are in this gloom. Yes, Perth lived here for weeks, and used to go up to the gallery where Black John's mother sat with her maid; but the son was hiding in the North, and never reached his house till he came to die."
First of all they came upon a ball dress of the former time, of white silk, with a sash of Macpherson tartan, besides much fine lace.
"That is the dress your great-grandmother wore as a bride at the Court of Versailles in the fifties. She was only a lassie, and seemed like her husband's daughter. The Prince danced with her, and they counted the dress something to be kept, and that night Locheil and Cluny also had a reel with Sheena Carnegie, while Black John looked like a young man, for he had been too sorely wounded to be able to dance with her himself." And then the General carried down with his own hands a Highland gentleman's evening dress, trews of the Royal tartan, and a velvet coat with silver buttons, and a light plaid of fine cloth.
"And this was her husband's dress that night; but why the Stewart tartan?"
"No, lassie, that is the suit the Prince wore at Holyrood, where he gave a great ball after Prestonpans, and danced with the Edinburgh ladies. It was smuggled across to France at last with other things of the Prince's, and he gave it to Carnegie. 'It will remind you of our great days,' he said, 'when the Stewarts saw their friends in Mary's Palace.'"
Last of all, the General lifted out a casket and laid it on his table. Within it was a brooch, such as might once have been worn either by a man or a woman; diamonds set in gold, and in the midst a lock of fair hair.
"Is it really, father? . . ." And Kate took the jewel in her hand.
"Yes, the Prince's hair—his wedding present to Sheena Macpherson."
Kate kissed it fervently, and passed it to Janet, who placed it carefully in the box, while the General made believe to laugh.
"Your mother wore the brooch on great occasions, and you will do the same, Kit, for auld lang syne. There are two or three families left in Perthshire that will like to see it on your breast."
"Yes, and there will maybe be more than two or three that will like to see the lady that wears it." This from Janet.
"Your compliments are a little late, and you may keep them to yourself, Janet; it would have been kinder to tell me. . . ."
"Tell you what?" And the General looked very provoking.
"I hate to be beaten." Kate first looked angry, and then laughed. "What else is there to see?"
"There is the gallery, which is the one feature in our poor house, and we will try to reach it from the Duke's hiding-place, for it was a cleverly designed hole, and had its stair up as well as down." And then they all came out into one of the strangest rooms you could find in Scotland, and one that left a pleasant picture in their minds who had seen it lit of a winter night, and the wood burning on the hearth, and Kate dancing a reel with Lord Hay or some other brisk young man, while the General looked on from one of the deep window recesses.
The gallery extended over the hall and Kate's drawing-room, and measured fifty feet long from end to end. The upper part of the walls was divided into compartments by an arcading, made of painted pilasters and flat arches. Each compartment had a motto, and this was on one side of the fireplace:
A nice wyfe and A back doore Oft maketh a rich Man poore.
And on the other:—
Give liberalye To neidfvl folke Denye nane of Them al for litle Thow knawest heir In this lyfe of what Chaunce may the Befall.
The glory of the gallery, however, was its ceiling, which was of the seventeenth century work, and so wonderful that many learned persons used to come and study it. After the great disaster when the Lodge was sold and allowed to fall to pieces, this fine work went first, and now no one examining its remains could have imagined how wonderful it was, and in its own way how beautiful. This ceiling was of wood, painted, and semi-elliptical in form, and one wet day, when we knew not what else to do, Kate and I counted more than three hundred panels. It was an arduous labour for the neck, and the General refused to help us; but I am sure that we did not make too many, for we worked time about, while the General took note of the figures, and our plan was that each finished his tale of work at some amazing beast, so that we could make no mistake. Some of the panels were circles, and they were filled in with coats-of-arms; some were squares and they contained a bestiary of that day. It was hard indeed to decide whether the circles or the squares were more interesting. The former had the arms of every family in Scotland that had the remotest connection with the Carnegies, and besides swept in a wider field, comprising David, King of Israel, who was placed near Hector of Troy, and Arthur of Brittany not far from Moses—all of whom had appropriate crests and mottoes. In the centre were the arms of our Lord Christ as Emperor of Judea, and the chief part of them was the Cross. But it came upon one with a curious shock, to see this coat among the shields of Scottish nobles. There were beasts that could be recognised at once, and these were sparingly named; but others were astounding, and above them were inscribed titles such as these: Shoe-lyon, Musket, Ostray; and one fearsome animal in the centre was designated the Ram of Arabia. This display of heraldry and natural history was reinforced by the cardinal virtues in seventeenth century dress: Charitas as an elderly female of extremely forbidding aspect, receiving two very imperfectly clad children; and Temperantia as a furious-looking person—male on the whole rather than female—pouring some liquor—surely water—from a jug into a cup, with averted face, and leaving little to be desired. The afternoon sun shining in through a western window and lingering among the black and white tracery, so that the marking of a shield came into relief or a beast suddenly glared down on one, had a weird, old-world effect.
"It's half an armoury and half a menagerie," said Kate, "and I think we 'll have tea in the library with the windows open to the Glen." And so they sat together in quietness, with books of heraldry and sport and ancient Scottish classics and such like round them, while Janet went out and in.
"So Donald has been obliged to leave his kirk;" for Kate had not yet forgiven Janet. "He says it's very bad here; I hope you won't go to such a place."
"What would Donald Macdonald be saying against it?" inquired Janet, severely.
"Oh, I don't remember—lots of things. He thought you were making too much of the minister."
"The minister iss a good man, and hass some Highland blood in him, though he hass lost his Gaelic, and he will be very pleasant in the house. If I wass seeing a sheep, and it will be putting on this side and that, and quarrelling with everybody, do you know what I will be thinking?"
"That's Donald, I suppose; well?"
"I will say to myself, that sheep iss a goat." And Janet left the room with the laurels of victory.
It is one of the miseries of modern life, for which telephones are less than compensation, that ninety out of a hundred city folk have never known the comfort and satisfaction of dwelling in a house. When the sashes are flying away from the windows and the skirting boards from the floor, and the planks below your feet are a finger breadth apart, and the pipes are death-traps, it does not matter that the walls are covered by art papers and plastered over with china dishes. This erection, wherein human beings have to live and work and fight their sins and prepare for eternity, is a fraud and a lie. No man compelled to exist in such an environment of unreality can respect himself or other people; and if it come to pass that he holds cheap views of life, and reads smart papers, and does sharp things in business, and that his talk be only a clever jingle, then a plea in extenuation will be lodged for him at the Great Assize. Small wonder that he comes to regard the world of men as an empty show and is full of cynicism, who has shifted at brief intervals from one shanty to another and never had a fit dwelling-place all his years. When a prophet cometh from the Eternal to speak unto modern times as Dante did unto the Middle Ages, and constructs the other world before our eyes, he will have one circle in his hell for the builders of rotten houses, and doubtless it will be a collection of their own works, so that their sin will be its punishment, as is most fitting and the way of things.
Surely there will also be some corner of heaven kept for the man who, having received a charge to build the shell wherein two people were to make a home, laid its foundations deep and raised strong walls that nothing but gunpowder could rend in pieces, and roofed it over with oaken timber and lined it with the same, so that many generations might live therein in peace and honour. Such a house was the Lodge in those days, although at last beginning to show signs of decay, and it somehow stirred up the heroic spirit of the former time within a man to sit before the big fire in the hall, with grim Carnegies looking down from the walls and daring you to do any meanness, while the light blazing out from a log was flung back from a sword that had been drawn in the '15. One was unconsciously reinforced in the secret place of his manhood, and inwardly convinced that what concerneth every man is not whether he fail or succeed, but that he do his duty according to the light which may have been given him until he die. It was also a regeneration of the soul to awake in a room of the eastern tower, where the Carnegies' guests slept, and fling up the window, with its small square panes, to fill one's lungs with the snell northern air, and look down on the woods glistening in every leaf, and the silver Tochty just touched by the full risen sun. Miracles have been wrought in that tower, for it happened once that an Edinburgh advocate came to stay at the Lodge, who spake after a quite marvellous fashion, known neither in England nor Scotland; and being himself of pure bourgeois blood, the fifth son of a factor, felt it necessary to despise his land, from its kirk downwards, and had a collection of japes at Scottish ways, which in his provincial simplicity he offered to the Carnegies. It seemed to him certain that people of Jacobite blood and many travels would have relished his clever talk, for it is not given to a national decadent to understand either the people he has deserted or the ancient houses at whose door he stands. Carnegie was the dullest man living in the matter of sneering, and Kate took an instant dislike to the mincing little man, whom she ever afterwards called the Popinjay, and so handled him with her tongue that his superiority was mightily shaken. But there was good stuff in the advocate, besides some brains, and after a week's living in the Lodge, he forgot to wear his eye-glass, and let his r's out of captivity, and attempted to make love to Kate, which foolishness that masterful damsel brought to speedy confusion. It was also said that when he went back to the Parliament House, every one could understand what he said, and that he got two briefs in one week, which shows how good it is to live in an ancient house with honest people.
"Is there a ghost, dad?" They were sitting before the fire in the hall after dinner—Kate in her favourite posture, leaning forward and nursing her knee. The veterans and I thought that she always looked at her best so, with her fine eyes fixed on the fire, and the light bringing her face into relief against the shadow. We saw her feet then—one lifted a little from the ground—and V. C. declared they were the smallest you could find for a woman of her size.
"She knows it, too," he used to say, "for when a woman has big feet she always keeps them tucked in below her gown. A woman with an eight-size glove and feet to correspond is usually a paragon of modesty, and strong on women's rights."
"Kate's glove is number six, and I think it's a size too big," broke in the Colonel—we were all lying in the sun on a bank below the beeches at the time, and the Colonel was understood to be preparing a sermon for some meeting—"but it's a strong little hand, and a steady; she used to be able to strike a shilling in the air at revolver practice."
"Ghost, lassie. Oh, in the Lodge, a Carnegie ghost—not one I've ever heard of; so you may sleep in peace, and I 'm below if you feel lonely the first night."
"You are most insulting; one would think I were a milksop. I was hoping for a ghost—a white lady by choice. Did no Carnegie murder his wife, for instance, through jealousy or quarrelling?"
"The Carnegies have never quarrelled," said the General, with much simplicity; "you see the men have generally been away fighting, and the women had never time to weary of them."
"No woman ever wearies of a man unless he be a fool and gives in to her—then she grows sick of him. Life might be wholesome, but it would have no smack; it would be like meat without mustard. If a man cannot rule, he ought not to marry, for his wife will play the fool in some fashion or other like a runaway horse, and he has half the blame. Why did he take the box-seat?" and Kate nodded to the fire. "What are you laughing at?"
"Perhaps I ought to be shocked, but the thought of any one trying to rule you, Kit, tickles me immensely. I have had the reins since you were a bairn, and you have been a handful. You were a 'smatchit' at six years old, and a 'trimmie' at twelve, and you are qualifying for the highest rank in your class."
"What may that be, pray? it seems to me that the Scottish tongue is a perfect treasure-house for impertinent people. How Scots must congratulate themselves that they need never be at a loss when they are angry or even simply frank."
"If it comes to downright swearing, you must go to Gaelic," said the General, branching off. "Donald used to be quite contemptuous of any slight efforts at profanity in the barrack yard, although they sickened me. 'Toots, Colonel; ye do not need to be troubling yourself with such poor little words, for they are just nothing at all, and yet the bodies will be saying them over and over again like parrots. Now a Lochaber man could hef been saying what he wass wanting for fifteen minutes, and nefer hef used the same word twice, unless he had been forgetting his Gaelic. It's a peautiful language, the Gaelic, when you will not be fery well pleased with a man.'"
"That is very good, dad, but I think we were speaking in Scotch, and you have not told me that nice complimentary title I am living to deserve. Is 'cutty' the disreputable word? for I think I 've passed that rank already; it sounds quite familiar."
"No, it's a far more fetching word than 'cutty,' or even than 'randy' (scold), which you may have heard."
"I have," replied Kate instantly, "more than once, and especially after I had a difference in opinion with Lieutenant Strange. You called me one or two names then, dad—-in fact you were quite eloquent; but you know that he was a bad fellow, and that the regiment was well rid of him; but I 'm older now, and I have not heard my promotion."
"It's the most vigorous word that Scots have for a particular kind of woman."
"Describe her," demanded Kate.
"One who has a mind of her own," began the General, carefully, "and a way, too, who is not easily cowed or managed, who is not . . ."
"A fool," suggested Kate.
"Who is not conspicuously soft in manner," pursued the General, with discretion, "who might even have a temper."
"Not a tame rabbit, in fact. I understand what you are driving at, and I know what a model must feel when she is being painted. And now kindly pluck up courage and name the picture." And Kate leant back, with her hand behind her head, challenging the General—if he dared. "Well?"
"Besom." And he was not at all ashamed, for a Scot never uses this word without a ring of fondness and admiration in his voice, as of one who gives the world to understand that he quite disapproves of this audacious woman, wife or daughter of his, but is proud of her all the time. It is indeed a necessity of his nature for a Scot to have husks of reproach containing kernels of compliment, so that he may let out his heart and yet preserve his character as an austere person, destitute of vanity and sentiment.