Part 4 out of 4
draw the line at a Scotsman? I am much more concerned about Mr.
"I am not anxious about that," said Salemina loyally. "Francesca
would be the life of an Inchcaldy parish."
"I dare say," I observed, "but she might be the death of the
"I am ashamed of you, Penelope; or I should be if you meant what you
say. She can make the people love her if she tries; when did she
ever fail at that? But with Mr. Macdonald's talent, to say nothing
of his family connections, he is sure to get a church in Edinburgh
in a few years if he wishes. Undoubtedly, it would not be a great
match in a money sense. I suppose he has a manse and three or four
hundred pounds a year."
"That sum would do nicely for cabs."
"Penelope, you are flippant!"
"I don't mean it, dear; it's only for fun; and it would be so absurd
if we should leave Francesca over here as the presiding genius of an
Inchcaldy parsonage--I mean a manse!"
"It isn't as if she were penniless," continued Salemina; "she has
fortune enough to assure her own independence, and not enough to
threaten his--the ideal amount. I hardly think the good Lord's
first intention was to make her a minister's wife, but He knows very
well that Love is a master architect. Francesca is full of
beautiful possibilities if Mr. Macdonald is the man to bring them
out, and I am inclined to think he is."
"He has brought out impishness so far," I objected.
"The impishness is transitory," she returned, "and I am speaking of
permanent qualities. His is the stronger and more serious nature,
Francesca's the sweeter and more flexible. He will be the oak-tree,
and she will be the sunshine playing in the branches."
"Salemina, dear," I said penitently, kissing her grey hair, "I
apologise: you are not absolutely ignorant about Love, after all,
when you call him the master architect; and that is very lovely and
very true about the oak-tree and the sunshine."
Chapter XXIII. Ballad revels at Rowardennan.
`"Love, I maun gang to Edinbrugh,
Love, I maun gang an' leave thee!"
She sighed right sair, an' said nae mair
But "O gin I were wi' ye!"'
Jean Dalziel came to visit us a week ago, and has put new life into
our little circle. I suppose it was playing `Sir Patrick Spens'
that set us thinking about it, for one warm, idle day when we were
all in the Glen we began a series of ballad-revels, in which each of
us assumed a favourite character. The choice induced so much
argument and disagreement that Mr. Beresford was at last appointed
head of the clan; and having announced himself formally as The
Mackintosh, he was placed on the summit of a hastily arranged
pyramidal cairn. He was given an ash wand and a rowan-tree sword;
and then, according to ancient custom, his pedigree and the exploits
of his ancestors were recounted, and he was exhorted to emulate
their example. Now it seems that a Highland chief of the olden
time, being as absolute in his patriarchal authority as any prince,
had a corresponding number of officers attached to his person. He
had a bodyguard, who fought around him in battle, and independent of
this he had a staff of officers who accompanied him wherever he
went. These our chief proceeded to appoint as follows:-
Henchman, Ronald Macdonald; bard, Penelope Hamilton; spokesman or
fool, Robin Anstruther; sword-bearer, Francesca Monroe; piper,
Salemina; piper's attendant, Elizabeth Ardmore; baggage gillie, Jean
Dalziel; running footman, Ralph; bridle gillie, Jamie; ford gillie,
Miss Grieve. The ford gillie carries the chief across fords only,
and there are no fords in the vicinity; so Mr. Beresford, not liking
to leave a member of our household out of office, thought this the
best post for Calamity Jane.
With The Mackintosh on his pyramidal cairn matters went very much
better, and at Jamie's instigation we began to hold rehearsals for
certain festivities at Rowardennan; for as Jamie's birthday fell on
the eve of the Queen's Jubilee, there was to be a gay party at the
All this occurred days ago, and yesterday evening the ballad-revels
came off, and Rowardennan was a scene of great pageant and
splendour. Lady Ardmore, dressed as the Lady of Inverleith,
received the guests, and there were all manner of tableaux, and
ballads in costume, and pantomimes, and a grand march by the clan,
in which we appeared in our chosen roles.
Salemina was Lady Maisry--she whom all the lords of the north
countrie came wooing.
`But a' that they could say to her,
Her answer still was "Na."'
`"O haud your tongues, young men," she said,
"And think nae mair on me!"'
Mr. Beresford was Lord Beichan, and I was Shusy Pye
`Lord Beichan was a Christian born,
And such resolved to live and dee,
So he was ta'en by a savage Moor,
Who treated him right cruellie.
The Moor he had an only daughter,
The damsel's name was Shusy Pye;
And ilka day as she took the air
Lord Beichan's prison she pass'd by.'
Elizabeth Ardmore was Leezie Lindsay, who kilted her coats o' green
satin to the knee and was aff to the Hielands so expeditiously when
her lover declared himself to be `Lord Ronald Macdonald, a chieftain
of high degree.'
Francesca was Mary Ambree.
`When captaines couragious, whom death cold not daunte,
Did march to the siege of the citty of Gaunt,
They mustred their souldiers by two and by three,
And the foremost in battle was Mary Ambree.
When the brave sergeant-major was slaine in her sight
Who was her true lover, her joy and delight,
Because he was slaine most treacherouslie,
Then vow'd to avenge him Mary Ambree.'
Brenda Macrae from Pettybaw House was Fairly Fair; Jamie, Sir
Patrick Spens; Ralph, King Alexander of Dunfermline; Mr. Anstruther,
Bonnie Glenlogie, `the flower o' them a';' Mr. Macdonald and Miss
Dalziel, Young Hynde Horn and the king's daughter Jean respectively.
`"Oh, it's Hynde Horn fair, and it's Hynde Horn free;
Oh, where were you born, and in what countrie?"
"In a far distant countrie I was born;
But of home and friends I am quite forlorn."
Oh, it's seven long years he served the king,
But wages from him he ne'er got a thing;
Oh, it's seven long years he served, I ween,
And all for love of the king's daughter Jean.'
It is not to be supposed that all this went off without any of the
difficulties and heart-burnings that are incident to things
dramatic. When Elizabeth Ardmore chose to be Leezie Lindsay, she
asked me to sing the ballad behind the scenes. Mr. Beresford
naturally thought that Mr. Macdonald would take the opposite part in
the tableau, inasmuch as the hero bears his name; but he positively
declined to play Lord Ronald Macdonald, and said it was altogether
Mr. Anstruther was rather disagreeable at the beginning, and
upbraided Miss Dalziel for offering to be the king's daughter Jean
to Mr. Macdonald's Hynde Horn, when she knew very well he wanted her
for Ladye Jeanie in Glenlogie. (She had meantime confided to me
that nothing could induce her to appear in Glenlogie; it was far too
Mr. Macdonald offended Francesca by sending her his cast-off gown
and begging her to be Sir Patrick Spens; and she was still more
gloomy (so I imagined) because he had not proffered his six feet of
manly beauty for the part of the captain in Mary Ambree, when the
only other person to take it was Jamie's tutor. He is an Oxford man
and a delightful person, but very bow-legged; added to that, by the
time the rehearsals had ended she had been obliged to beg him to
love some one more worthy than herself, and did not wish to appear
in the same tableau with him, feeling that it was much too personal.
When the eventful hour came, yesterday, Willie and I were the only
actors really willing to take lovers' parts, save Jamie and Ralph,
who were but too anxious to play all the characters, whatever their
age, sex, colour, or relations. But the guests knew nothing of
these trivial disagreements, and at ten o'clock last night it would
have been difficult to match Rowardennan Castle for a scene of
beauty and revelry. Everything went merrily till we came to Hynde
Horn, the concluding tableau, and the most effective and elaborate
one on the programme. At the very last moment, when the opening
scene was nearly ready, Jean Dalziel fell down a secret staircase
that led from the tapestry chamber into Lady Ardmore's boudoir,
where the rest of us were dressing. It was a short flight of steps,
but as she held a candle, and was carrying her costume, she fell
awkwardly, spraining her wrist and ankle. Finding that she was not
maimed for life, Lady Ardmore turned with comical and unsympathetic
haste to Francesca, so completely do amateur theatricals dry the
milk of kindness in the human breast.
"Put on these clothes at once," she said imperiously, knowing
nothing of the volcanoes beneath the surface. "Hynde Horn is
already on the stage, and somebody must be Jean. Take care of Miss
Dalziel, girls, and ring for more maids. Helene, come and dress
Miss Monroe; put on her slippers while I lace her gown; run and
fetch more jewels,--more still,--she can carry off any number; not
any rouge, Helene--she has too much colour now; pull the frock more
off the shoulders--it's a pity to cover an inch of them; pile her
hair higher--here, take my diamond tiara, child; hurry, Helene,
fetch the silver cup and the cake--no, they are on the stage; take
her train, Helene. Miss Hamilton, run and open the doors ahead of
them, please. I won't go down for this tableau. I'll put Miss
Dalziel right, and then I'll slip into the drawing-room, to be ready
for the guests when they come in."
We hurried breathlessly through an interminable series of rooms and
corridors. I gave the signal to Mr. Beresford, who was nervously
waiting for it in the wings, and the curtain went up on Hynde Horn
disguised as the auld beggar man at the king's gate. Mr. Beresford
was reading the ballad, and we took up the tableaux at the point
where Hynde Horn has come from a far countrie to see why the
diamonds in the ring given him by his own true love have grown pale
and wan. He hears that the king's daughter Jean has been married to
a knight these nine days past.
`But unto him a wife the bride winna be,
For love of Hynde Horn, far over the sea.'
He therefore borrows the old beggar's garments and hobbles to the
king's palace, where he petitions the porter for a cup of wine and a
bit of cake to be handed him by the fair bride herself.
`"Good porter, I pray, for Saints Peter and Paul,
And for sake of the Saviour who died for us all,
For one cup of wine and one bit of bread,
To an auld man with travel and hunger bestead.
And ask the fair bride, for the sake of Hynde Horn,
To hand them to me so sadly forlorn."
Then the porter for pity the message convey'd,
And told the fair bride all the beggar man said.'
The curtain went up again. The porter, moved to pity, has gone to
give the message to his lady. Hynde Horn is watching the staircase
at the rear of the stage, his heart in his eyes. The tapestries
that hide it are drawn, and there stands the king's daughter, who
tripped down the stair--
`And in her fair hands did lovingly bear
A cup of red wine, and a farle of cake,
To give the old man for loved Hynde Horn's sake.'
The hero of the ballad, who had not seen his true love for seven
long years, could not have been more amazed at the change in her
than was Ronald Macdonald at the sight of the flushed, excited,
almost tearful king's daughter on the staircase, Lady Ardmore's
diamonds flashing from her crimson satin gown, Lady Ardmore's rubies
glowing on her white arms and throat; not Miss Dalziel, as had been
arranged, but Francesca, rebellious, reluctant, embarrassed, angrily
beautiful and beautifully angry!
In the next scene Hynde Horn has drained the cup and dropped the
ring into it.
`"Oh, found you that ring by sea or on land,
Or got you that ring off a dead man's hand?"
"Oh, I found not that ring by sea or on land,
But I got that ring from a fair lady's hand.
As a pledge of true love she gave it to me,
Full seven years ago as I sail'd o'er the sea;
But now that the diamonds are changed in their hue,
I know that my love has to me proved untrue."'
I never saw a prettier picture of sweet, tremulous womanhood, a more
enchanting, breathing image of fidelity, than Francesca looked as
Mr. Beresford read:-
`"Oh, I will cast off my gay costly gown,
And follow thee on from town unto town;
And I will take the gold kaims from my hair,
And follow my true love for evermair."'
Whereupon Hynde Horn lets his beggar weeds fall, and shines there
the foremost and noblest of all the king's companie as he says:-
`"You need not cast off your gay costly gown,
To follow me on from town unto town;
You need not take the gold kaims from your hair,
For Hynde Horn has gold enough and to spare."
Then the bridegrooms were changed, and the lady re-wed
To Hynde Horn thus come back, like one from the dead.'
There is no doubt that this tableau gained the success of the
evening, and the participants in it should have modestly and
gratefully received the choruses of congratulation that were ready
to be offered during the supper and dance that followed. Instead of
that, what happened? Francesca drove home with Miss Dalziel before
the quadrille d'honneur, and when Willie bade me good night at the
gate in the loaning, he said, "I shall not be early to-morrow, dear.
I am going to see Macdonald off."
"Off!" I exclaimed. "Where is he going?"
"Only to Edinburgh and London, to stay till the last of next week."
"But we may have left Pettybaw by that time."
"Of course; that is probably what he has in mind. But let me tell
you this, Penelope: Macdonald is fathoms deep in love with
Francesca, and if she trifles with him she shall know what I think
"And let me tell you this, sir: Francesca is fathoms deep in love
with Ronald Macdonald, little as you suspect it, and if he trifles
with her he shall know what I think of him!"
Chapter XXIV. Old songs and modern instances.
`He set her on a coal-black steed,
Himself lap on behind her,
An' he's awa' to the Hieland hills
Whare her frien's they canna find her.'
The occupants of Bide-a-Wee Cottage awoke in anything but a Jubilee
humour, next day. Willie had intended to come at nine, but of
course did not appear. Francesca took her breakfast in bed, and
came listlessly into the sitting-room at ten o'clock, looking like a
ghost. Jean's ankle was much better--the sprain proved to be not
even a strain--but her wrist was painful. It was drizzling, too,
and we had promised Miss Ardmore and Miss Macrae to aid with the
last Jubilee decorations, the distribution of medals at the church,
and the children's games and tea on the links in the afternoon.
We have determined not to desert our beloved Pettybaw for the
metropolis on this great day, but to celebrate it with the dear fowk
o' Fife who had grown to be a part of our lives.
Bide-a-Wee Cottage does not occupy an imposing position in the
landscape, and the choice of art fabrics at the Pettybaw draper's is
small, but the moment it should stop raining we were intending to
carry out a dazzling scheme of decoration that would proclaim our
affectionate respect for the `little lady in black' on her Diamond
Jubilee. But would it stop raining?--that was the question. The
draper wasna certain that so licht a shoo'r could richtly be called
rain. The village weans were yearning for the hour to arrive when
they might sit on the wet golf-course and have tea; manifestly,
therefore, it could not be a bad day for Scotland; but if it should
grow worse, what would become of our mammoth subscription bonfire on
Pettybaw Law--the bonfire that Brenda Macrae was to light, as the
lady of the manor?
There were no deputations to request the honour of Miss Macrae's
distinguished services on this occasion; that is not the way the
self-respecting villager comports himself in Fifeshire. The
chairman of the local committee, a respectable gardener, called upon
Miss Macrae at Pettybaw House, and said, "I'm sent to tell ye ye're
to have the pleasure an' the honour of lichtin' the bonfire the
nicht! Ay, it's a grand chance ye're havin', miss, ye'll remember
it as long as ye live, I'm thinkin'!"
When I complimented this rugged soul on his decoration of the
triumphal arch under which the school-children were to pass, I said,
"I think if her Majesty could see it, she would be pleased with our
village to-day, James."
"Ay, ye're richt, miss," he replied complacently. "She'd see that
Inchcawdy canna compeer wi' us; we've patronised her weel in
Truly, as Stevenson says, `he who goes fishing among the Scots
peasantry with condescension for a bait will have an empty basket by
At eleven o'clock a boy arrived at Bide-a-Wee with an interesting-
looking package, which I promptly opened. That dear foolish lover
of mine (whose foolishness is one of the most adorable things about
him) makes me only two visits a day, and is therefore constrained to
send me some reminder of himself in the intervening hours, or
minutes--a book, a flower, or a note. Uncovering the pretty box, I
found a long, slender--something--of sparkling silver.
"What is it?" I exclaimed, holding it up. "It is too long and not
wide enough for a paper-knife, although it would be famous for
cutting magazines. Is it a baton? Where did Willie find it, and
what can it be? There is something engraved on one side, something
that looks like birds on a twig,--yes, three little birds; and see
the lovely cairngorm set in the end! Oh, it has words cut in it:
`To Jean: From Hynde Horn'--Goodness me! I've opened Miss Dalziel's
Francesca made a sudden swooping motion, and caught box, cover, and
contents in her arms.
"It is mine! I know it is mine!" she cried. "You really ought not
to claim everything that is sent to the house, Penelope--as if
nobody had any friends or presents but you!" and she rushed upstairs
like a whirlwind.
I examined the outside wrapper, lying on the floor, and found, to my
chagrin, that it did bear Miss Monroe's name, somewhat blotted by
the rain; but if the box were addressed to her, why was the silver
thing inscribed to Miss Dalziel? Well, Francesca would explain the
mystery within the hour, unless she had become a changed being.
Fifteen minutes passed. Salemina was making Jubilee sandwiches at
Pettybaw House, Miss Dalziel was asleep in her room, I was being
devoured slowly by curiosity, when Francesca came down without a
word, walked out of the front door, went up to the main street, and
entered the village post-office without so much as a backward
glance. She was a changed being, then! I might as well be living
in a Gaboriau novel, I thought, and went up into my little painting
and writing room to address a programme of the Pettybaw celebration
to Lady Baird, watch for the glimpse of Willie coming down the
loaning, and see if I could discover where Francesca went from the
Sitting down by my desk, I could find neither my wax nor my silver
candlestick, my scissors nor my ball of twine. Plainly Francesca
had been on one of her borrowing tours; and she had left an
additional trace of herself--if one were needed--in a book of old
Scottish ballads, open at `Hynde Horn.' I glanced at it idly while
I was waiting for her to return. I was not familiar with the
opening verses, and these were the first lines that met my eye:-
`Oh, he gave to his love a silver wand,
Her sceptre of rule over fair Scotland;
With three singing laverocks set thereon
For to mind her of him when he was gone.
And his love gave to him a gay gold ring
With three shining diamonds set therein;
Oh, his love gave to him this gay gold ring,
Of virtue and value above all thing.'
A light dawned upon me! The silver mystery, then, was intended for
a wand--and a very pretty way of making love to an American girl,
too, to call it a `sceptre of rule over fair Scotland'; and the
three birds were three singing laverocks `to mind her of him when he
But the real Hynde Horn in the dear old ballad had a truelove who
was not captious and capricious and cold like Francesca. His love
gave him a gay gold ring--
`Of virtue and value above all thing.'
Yet stay: behind the ballad book flung heedlessly on my desk was--
what should it be but the little morocco case, empty now, in which
our Francesca keeps her dead mother's engagement ring--the mother
who died when she was a wee child. Truly a very pretty modern
ballad to be sung in these unromantic, degenerate days!
Francesca came in at the door behind me, saw her secret reflected in
my tell-tale face, saw the sympathetic moisture in my eyes, and,
flinging herself into my willing arms, burst into tears.
"O Pen, dear, dear Pen, I am so miserable and so happy; so afraid
that he won't come back, so frightened for fear that he will! I
sent him away because there were so many lions in the path, and I
didn't know how to slay them. I thought of my f-father; I thought
of my c-c-country. I didn't want to live with him in Scotland, I
knew that I couldn't live without him in America, and there I was!
I didn't think I was s-suited to a minister, and I am not; but oh!
this p-particular minister is so s-suited to me!" and she threw
herself on the sofa and buried her head in the cushions.
She was so absurd even in her grief that I had hard work to keep
"Let us talk about the lions," I said soothingly. "But when did the
trouble begin? When did he speak to you?"
"After the tableau last night; but of course there had been other--
"Of course. Well?"
"He had told me a week before that he should go away for a while,
that it made him too wretched to stay here just now; and I suppose
that was when he got the silver wand ready for me. It was meant for
the Jean of the poem, you know. Of course he would not put my own
name on a gift like that."
"You don't think he had it made for Jean Dalziel in the first
place?"--I asked this, thinking she needed some sort of tonic in her
"You know him better than that, Penelope! I am ashamed of you! We
had read Hynde Horn together ages before Jean Dalziel came; but I
imagine, when we came to acting the lines, he thought it would be
better to have some other king's daughter; that is, that it would be
less personal. And I never, never would have been in the tableau,
if I had dared refuse Lady Ardmore, or could have explained; but I
had no time to think. And then, naturally, he thought by me being
there as the king's daughter that--that--the lions were slain, you
know; instead of which they were roaring so that I could hardly hear
"Francesca, look me in the eye! Do--you--love him?"
"Love him? I adore him!" she exclaimed in good clear decisive
English, as she rose impetuously and paced up and down in front of
the sofa. "But in the first place there is the difference in
"I have no patience with you. One would think he was a Turk, an
Esquimau, or a cannibal. He is white, he speaks English, and he
believes in the Christian religion. The idea of calling such a man
"Oh, it didn't prevent me from loving him," she confessed, "but I
thought at first it would be unpatriotic to marry him."
"Did you think Columbia could not spare you even as a rare specimen
to be used for exhibition purposes?" I asked wickedly.
"You know I am not so conceited as that! No," she continued
ingenuously, "I feared that if I accepted him it would look, over
here, as if the home-supply of husbands were of inferior quality;
and then we had such disagreeable discussions at the beginning, I
simply could not bear to leave my nice new free country, and ally
myself with his aeons of tiresome history. But it came to me in the
night, a week ago, that after all I should hate a man who didn't
love his Fatherland; and in the illumination of that new idea
Ronald's character assumed a different outline in my mind. How
could he love America when he had never seen it? How could I
convince him that American women are the most charming in the world
in any better way than by letting him live under the same roof with
a good example? How could I expect him to let me love my country
best unless I permitted him to love his best?"
"You needn't offer so many apologies for your infatuation, my dear,"
I answered dryly.
"I am not apologising for it!" she exclaimed impulsively. "Oh, if
you could only keep it to yourself, I should like to tell you how I
trust and admire and reverence Ronald Macdonald, but of course you
will repeat everything to Willie Beresford within the hour! You
think he has gone on and on loving me against his better judgment.
You believe he has fought against it because of my unfitness, but
that I, poor, weak, trivial thing, am not capable of deep feeling
and that I shall never appreciate the sacrifices he makes in
choosing me! Very well, then, I tell you plainly that if I had to
live in a damp manse the rest of my life, drink tea and eat scones
for breakfast, and--and buy my hats of the Inchcaldy milliner, I
should still glory in the possibility of being Ronald Macdonald's
wife--a possibility hourly growing more uncertain, I am sorry to
"And the extreme aversion with which you began," I asked--"what has
become of that, and when did it begin to turn in the opposite
"Aversion!" she cried, with convincing and unblushing candour.
"That aversion was a cover, clapped on to keep my self-respect warm.
I abused him a good deal, it is true, because it was so delightful
to hear you and
Salemina take his part. Sometimes I trembled for fear you would
agree with me, but you never did. The more I criticised him, the
louder you sang his praises--it was lovely! The fact is--we might
as well throw light upon the whole matter, and then never allude to
it again; and if you tell Willie Beresford, you shall never visit my
manse, nor see me preside at my mothers' meetings, nor hear me
address the infant class in the Sunday-school--the fact is, I liked
him from the beginning at Lady Baird's dinner. I liked the bow he
made when he offered me his arm (I wish it had been his hand); I
liked the top of his head when it was bowed; I liked his arm when I
took it; I liked the height of his shoulder when I stood beside it;
I liked the way he put me in my chair (that showed chivalry), and
unfolded his napkin (that was neat and business-like), and pushed
aside all his wine-glasses but one (that was temperate); I liked the
side view of his nose, the shape of his collar, the cleanness of his
shave, the manliness of his tone--oh, I liked him altogether, you
must know how it is, Penelope--the goodness and strength and
simplicity that radiated from him. And when he said, within the
first half-hour, that international alliances presented even more
difficulties to the imagination than others, I felt, to my
confusion, a distinct sense of disappointment. Even while I was
quarrelling with him, I said to myself, `Poor darling, you cannot
have him even if you should want him, so don't look at him much!'--
But I did look at him; and what is worse, he looked at me; and what
is worse yet, he curled himself so tightly round my heart that if he
takes himself away, I shall be cold the rest of my life!"
"Then you are really sure of your love this time, and you have never
advised him to wed somebody more worthy than yourself?" I asked.
"Not I!" she replied. "I wouldn't put such an idea into his head
for worlds! He might adopt it!"
Chapter XXV. A treaty between nations.
`Pale and wan was she when Glenlogie gaed ben,
But red rosy grew she whene'er he sat doun.
Just here the front door banged, and a manly step sounded on the
stair. Francesca sat up straight in a big chair, and dried her eyes
hastily with her poor little wet ball of a handkerchief; for she
knows that Willie is a privileged visitor in my studio. The door
opened (it was ajar) and Ronald Macdonald strode into the room. I
hope I may never have the same sense of nothingness again! To be
young, pleasing, gifted, and to be regarded no more than a fly upon
the wall, is death to one's self-respect.
He dropped on one knee beside Francesca, and took her two hands in
his without removing his gaze from her speaking face. She burned,
but did not flinch under the ordeal. The colour leaped into her
cheeks. Love swam in her tears, but was not drowned there; it was
"Did you mean it?" he asked.
She looked at him, trembling, as she said, "I meant every word, and
far, far more. I meant all that a girl can say to a man when she
loves him, and wants to be everything she is capable of being to
him, to his work, to his people, and to his--country."
Even this brief colloquy had been embarrassing, but I knew that
worse was still to come and could not be delayed much longer, so I
left the room hastily and with no attempt at apology--not that they
minded my presence in the least, or observed my exit, though I was
obliged to leap over Mr. Macdonald's feet in passing.
I found Mr. Beresford sitting on the stairs, in the lower hall.
"Willie, you angel, you idol, where did you find him?" I exclaimed.
"When I went into the post-office, an hour ago," he replied, "I met
Francesca. She asked me for Macdonald's Edinburgh address, saying
she had something that belonged to him and wished to send it after
him. I offered to address the package and see that it reached him
as expeditiously as possible. `That is what I wish," she said, with
elaborate formality. `This is something I have just discovered,
something he needs very much, something he does not know he has left
behind.' I did not think it best to tell her at the moment that
Macdonald had not yet deserted Inchcaldy."
"Willie, you have the quickest intelligence and the most exquisite
insight of any man I ever met!"
"But the fact was that I had been to see him off, and found him
detained by the sudden illness of one of his elders. I rode over
again to take him the little parcel. Of course I don't know what it
contained; by its size and shape I should judge it might be a
thimble, or a collar-button, or a sixpence; but, at all events, he
must have needed the thing, for he certainly did not let the grass
grow under his feet after he received it! Let us go into the
sitting-room until they come down,--as they will have to, poor
wretches, sooner or later; I know that I am always being brought
down against my will. Salemina wants your advice about the number
of her Majesty's portraits to be hung on the front of the cottage,
and the number of candles to be placed in each window."
It was a half-hour later when Mr. Macdonald came into the room, and,
walking directly up to Salemina, kissed her hand respectfully.
"Miss Salemina," he said, with evident emotion, "I want to borrow
one of your national jewels for my Queen's crown."
"And what will our President say to lose a jewel from his crown?"
"Good republican rulers do not wear coronets, as a matter of
principle," he argued; "but in truth I fear I am not thinking of her
Majesty--God bless her! This gem is not entirely for state
`"I would wear it in my bosom,
Lest my jewel I should tine."'
It is the crowning of my own life rather than that of the British
Empire that engages my present thought. Will you intercede for me
with Francesca's father?"
"And this is the end of all your international bickering?" Salemina
"Yes," he answered; "we have buried the hatchet, signed articles of
agreement, made treaties of international comity. Francesca stays
over here as a kind of missionary to Scotland, so she says, or as a
feminine diplomat; she wishes to be on hand to enforce the Monroe
Doctrine properly, in case her government's accredited ambassadors
relax in the performance of their duty."
"Salemina!" called a laughing voice outside the door. "I am
won'erful lifted up. You will be a prood woman the day, for I am
now Estaiblished!" and Francesca, clad in Miss Grieve's Sunday
bonnet, shawl, and black cotton gloves, entered, and curtsied
demurely to the floor. She held, as corroborative detail, a life of
John Knox in her hand, and anything more incongruous than her
sparkling eyes and mutinous mouth under the melancholy head-gear can
hardly be imagined.
"I am now Estaiblished," she repeated. "Div ye ken the new
asseestant frae Inchcawdy pairish? I'm the mon' (a second deep
curtsy here). "I trust, leddies, that ye'll mak' the maist o' your
releegious preevileges, an' that ye'll be constant at the kurruk.--
Have you given papa's consent, Salemina? And isn't it dreadful that
he is Scotch?"
"Isn't it dreadful that she is not?" asked Mr. Macdonald. "Yet to
my mind no woman in Scotland is half as lovable as she!"
"And no man in America begins to compare with him," Francesca
confessed sadly. "Isn't it pitiful that out of the millions of our
own countrypeople we couldn't have found somebody that would do?
What do you think now, Lord Ronald Macdonald, of these dangerous
"You never understood that speech of mine," he replied, with prompt
mendacity. "When I said that international marriages presented more
difficulties to the imagination than others, I was thinking of your
marriage and mine, and that, I knew from the first moment I saw you,
would be extremely difficult to arrange!"
Chapter XXVI. `Scotland's burning! Look out!'
`And soon a score of fires, I ween,
From height, and hill, and cliff were seen;
. . . . . . .
Each after each they glanced to sight,
As stars arise upon the night,
They gleamed on many a dusky tarn,
Haunted by the lonely earn;
On many a cairn's grey pyramid,
Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid.'
The Lay of the Last Minstrel.
The rain continued at intervals throughout the day, but as the
afternoon wore on the skies looked a trifle more hopeful. It would
be `saft,' no doubt, climbing the Law, but the bonfire must be
lighted. Would Pettybaw be behind London? Would Pettybaw desert
the Queen in her hour of need? Not though the rain were bursting
the well-heads on Cawda; not though the swollen mountain burns
drowned us to the knee! So off we started as the short midsummer
We were to climb the Law, wait for the signal from Cawda's lonely
height, and then fire Pettybaw's torch of loyalty to the little lady
in black; not a blaze flaming out war and rumours of war, as was the
beacon-fire on the old grey battlements of Edinburgh Castle in the
days of yore, but a message of peace and good-will. Pausing at a
hut on the side of the great green mountain, we looked north toward
Helva, white-crested with a wreath of vapour. (You need not look on
your map of Scotland for Cawda and Helva, for you will not find them
any more than you will find Pettybaw and Inchcaldy.) One by one the
tops of the distant hills began to clear, and with the glass we
could discern the bonfire cairns up-built here and there for
Scotland's evening sacrifice of love and fealty. Cawda was still
veiled, and Cawda was to give the signal for all the smaller fires.
Pettybaw's, I suppose, was counted as a flash in the pan, but not
one of the hundred patriots climbing the mountain-side would have
acknowledged it; to us the good name of the kingdom of Fife and the
glory of the British Empire depended on Pettybaw fire. Some of us
had misgivings, too,--misgivings founded upon Miss Grieve's dismal
prophecies. She had agreed to put nine lighted candles in each of
our cottage windows at ten o'clock, but had declined to go out of
her kitchen to see a procession, hear a band, or look at a bonfire.
She had had a fair sickenin' day, an amount of work too wearifu' for
one person by her lane. She hoped that the bonfire wasna built o'
Mrs. Sinkler's coals nor Mr. Macbrose's kindlings, nor soaked with
Mr. Cameron's paraffin; and she finished with the customary, but
irrelative and exasperating, allusion to the exceedingly nice family
with whom she had live in Glasgy.
And still we toiled upward, keeping our doubts to ourselves. Jean
was limping bravely, supported by Robin Anstruther's arm. Mr.
Macdonald was ardently helping Francesca, who can climb like a
chamois, but would doubtless rather be assisted. Her gypsy face
shone radiant out of her black cloth hood, and Ronald's was no less
luminous. I have never seen two beings more love-daft. They
comport themselves as if they had read the manuscript of the tender
passion, and were moving in exalted superiority through a less
favoured world,--a world waiting impatiently for the first number of
the story to come out.
Still we climbed, and as we approached the Grey Lady (a curious rock
very near the summit) somebody proposed three cheers for the Queen.
How the children hurrahed,--for the infant heart is easily
inflamed,--and how their shrill Jubilee slogan pierced the mystery
of the night, and went rolling on from glen to glen to the Firth of
Forth itself! Then there was a shout from the rocketmen far out on
the open moor,--'Cawda's clear! Cawda's clear!' Back against a
silver sky stood the signal pile, and signal rockets flashed upward,
to be answered from all the surrounding hills.
Now to light our own fire. One of the village committee solemnly
took off his hat and poured on oil. The great moment had come.
Brenda Macrae approached the sacred pile, and, tremulous from the
effect of much contradictory advice, applied the torch. Silence,
thou Grieve and others, false prophets of disaster! Who now could
say that Pettybaw bonfire had been badly built, or that its fifteen
tons of coal and twenty cords of wood had been unphilosophically
The flames rushed toward the sky with ruddy blaze, shining with
weird effect against the black fir-trees and the blacker night.
Three cheers more! God save the Queen! May she reign over us,
happy and glorious! And we cheered lustily, too, you may be sure!
It was more for the woman than the monarch; it was for the blameless
life, not for the splendid monarchy; but there was everything
hearty, and nothing alien in our tone, when we sang `God save the
Queen' with the rest of the Pettybaw villagers.
The land darkened; the wind blew chill. Willie, Mr. Macdonald, and
Mr. Anstruther brought rugs, and found a sheltered nook for us where
we might still watch the scene. There we sat, looking at the plains
below, with all the village streets sparkling with light, with
rockets shooting into the air and falling to earth in golden rain,
with red lights flickering on the grey lakes, and with one beacon-
fire after another gleaming from the hilltops, till we could count
more than fifty answering one another from the wooded crests along
the shore, some of them piercing the rifts of low-lying clouds till
they seemed to be burning in mid-heaven.
Then one by one the distant fires faded, and as some of us still sat
there silently, far, far away in the grey east there was a faint
flush of carmine where the new dawn was kindling in secret.
Underneath that violet bank of cloud the sun was forging his beams
of light. The pole-star paled. The breath of the new morrow stole
up out of the rosy grey. The wings of the morning stirred and
trembled; and in the darkness and chill and mysterious awakening
eyes looked into other eyes, hand sought hand, and cheeks touched
each other in mute caress.
Chapter XXVII. Three magpies and a marriage.
`Sun, gallop down the westlin skies,
Gang soon to bed, an' quickly rise;
O lash your steeds, post time away,
And haste about our bridal day!'
The Gentle Shepherd.
Every noon, during this last week, as we have wended our way up the
loaning to the Pettybaw inn for our luncheon, we have passed three
magpies sitting together on the topmost rail of the fence. I am not
prepared to state that they were always the same magpies; I only
know there were always three of them. We have just discovered what
they were about, and great is the excitement in our little circle.
I am to be married to-morrow, and married in Pettybaw, and Miss
Grieve says that in Scotland the number of magpies one sees is of
infinite significance: that one means sorrow; two, mirth; three, a
marriage; four, a birth, and we now recall as corroborative detail
that we saw one magpie, our first, on the afternoon of her arrival.
Mr. Beresford has been cabled for, and must return to America at
once on important business. He persuaded me that the Atlantic is an
ower large body of water to roll between two lovers, and I agreed
with all my heart.
A wedding was arranged, mostly by telegraph, in six hours. The
Reverend Ronald and the Friar are to perform the ceremony; a dear
old painter friend of mine, a London R.A., will come to give me
away; Francesca will be my maid of honour; Elizabeth Ardmore and
Jean Dalziel, my bridemaidens; Robin Anstruther, the best man; while
Jamie and Ralph will be kilted pages-in-waiting, and Lady Ardmore
will give the breakfast at the Castle.
Never was there such generosity, such hospitality, such wealth of
friendship! True, I have no wedding finery; but as I am perforce a
Scottish bride, I can be married in the white gown with the silver
thistles in which I went to Holyrood.
Mr. Anstruther took a night train to and from London to choose the
bouquets and bridal souvenirs. Lady Baird has sent the veil, and a
wonderful diamond thistle to pin it on,--a jewel fit for a princess!
With the dear Dominie's note promising to be an usher came an
antique silver casket filled with white heather. And as for the
bride-cake, it is one of Salemina's gifts, chosen as much in a
spirit of fun as affection. It is surely appropriate for this
American wedding transplanted to Scottish soil, and what should it
be but a model, in fairy icing, of Sir Walter's beautiful monument
in Princes Street! Of course Francesca is full of nonsensical quips
about it, and says that the Edinburgh jail would have been just as
fine architecturally (it is, in truth, a building beautiful enough
to tempt an aesthete to crime), and a much more fitting symbol for a
wedding-cake, unless, indeed, she adds, Salemina intends her gift to
be a monument to my folly.
Pettybaw kirk is trimmed with yellow broom from these dear Scottish
banks and braes; and waving their green fans and plumes up and down
the aisle where I shall walk a bride, are tall ferns and bracken
from Crummylowe Glen, where we played ballads.
As I look back upon it, the life here has been all a ballad from
first to last. Like the elfin Tam Lin,
`The queen o' fairies she caught me
In this green hill to dwell,'
and these hasty nuptials are a fittingly romantic ending to the
summer's poetry. I am in a mood, were it necessary, to be `ta'en by
the milk-white hand,' lifted to a pillion on a coal-black charger,
and spirited `o'er the border an' awa'' by my dear Jock o'
Hazeldean. Unhappily, all is quite regular and aboveboard; no `lord
o' Langley dale' contests the prize with the bridegroom, but the
marriage is at least unique and unconventional; no one can rob me of
that sweet consolation.
So `gallop down the westlin skies,' dear Sun, but, prythee, gallop
back to-morrow! `Gang soon to bed,' an you will, but rise again
betimes! Give me Queen's weather, dear Sun, and shine a benison
upon my wedding-morn!
[Exit Penelope into the ballad-land of maiden dreams.]