Part 2 out of 4
"We are sent into the world to make our living."
"Sent into the world, we have to seek our living; we are not sent into
the world to seek our living, but to seek the kingdom and righteousness
of God. And to seek a living is very different from seeking a fortune!"
"If you, Mr. Ingram, had a little wholesome ambition, you would be less
given to judging your neighbors."
Andrew held his peace, and George concluded he had had the best of the
argument--which was all he wanted; of the truth concerned he did not see
enough to care about it Andrew, perceiving no good was to be done, was
willing to appear defeated; he did not value any victory but the victory
of the truth, and George was not yet capable of being conquered by the
"No!" resumed he, "we must avoid personalities. There are certain things
all respectable people have agreed to regard as right: he is a
presumptuous man who refuses to regard them. Reflect on it, Mr. Ingram."
The curious smile hovered about the lip of the plow-man; when things to
say did not come to him, he went nowhere to fetch them. Almost in
childhood he had learned that, when one is required to meet the lie,
words are given him; when they are not, silence is better. A man who
does not love the truth, but disputes for victory, is the swine before
whom pearls must not be cast. Andrew's smile meant that it had been a
waste of his time to call upon Mr. Crawford. But he did not blame
himself, for he had come out of pure friendliness. He would have risen
at once, but feared to seem offended. Crawford, therefore, with the
rudeness of a superior, himself rose, saying:
"Is there anything I can do for you, Mr. Ingram?"
"The only thing one man can do for another is to be at one with him,"
answered Andrew, rising.
"Ah, you are a socialist! That accounts for much!" said George.
"Tell me this," returned Andrew, looking him in the eyes: "Did Jesus
ever ask of His Father anything His Father would not give Him?"
"Not that I remember," answered George, fearing a theological trap.
"He said once: 'I pray for them which shall believe in Me, that they all
may be one, as Thou Father art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also many
be one in us!' No man can be one with another, who is not one with
As he left the house, a carriage drove up, in which was Mr. Crawford the
elder, home from a meeting of directors, at which a dividend had been
agreed upon--to be paid from the capital, in preparation for another
issue of shares.
Andrew walked home a little bewildered. "How is it," he said to himself,
"that so many who would be terrified at the idea of not being
Christians, and are horrified at any man who does not believe there is a
God, are yet absolutely indifferent to what their Lord tells them to do
if they would be His disciples? But may not I be in like case without
knowing it? Do I meet God in my geometry? When I so much enjoy my
Euclid, is it always God geometrizing to me? Do I feel talking with God
every time I dwell upon any fact of his world of lines and circles and
angles? Is it God with me, every time that the joy of life, of a wind or
a sky or a lovely phrase, flashes through me? Oh, my God," he broke out
in speechless prayer as he walked--and those that passed said to
themselves he was mad; how, in such a world, could any but a madman wear
a face of joy! "Oh, my God, Thou art all in all, and I have everything!
The world is mine because it is Thine! I thank Thee, my God, that Thou
hast lifted me up to see whence I came, to know to whom I belong, to
know who is my Father, and makes me His heir! I am Thine, infinitely
more than mine own; and Thou art mine as Thou art Christ's!"
He knew his Father in the same way that Jesus Christ knows His Father.
He was at home in the universe, neither lonely, nor out-of-doors, nor
Through strong striving to secure his life, Mr. Crawford lost it--both
in God's sense of loss and his own. He narrowly escaped being put in
prison, died instead, and was put into God's prison to pay the uttermost
farthing. But he had been such a good Christian that his
fellow-Christians mourned over his failure and his death, not over his
dishonesty! For did they not know that if, by more dishonesty, he could
have managed to recover his footing, he would have paid everything? One
injunction only he obeyed--he provided for his own; of all the widows
concerned in his bank, his widow alone was secured from want; and she,
like a dutiful wife, took care that his righteous intention should be
righteously carried out; not a penny would she give up to the paupers
her husband had made.
The downfall of the house of cards took place a few months after
George's return to its business. Not initiated to the mysteries of his
father's transactions, ignorant of what had long been threatening, it
was a terrible blow to him. But he was a man of action, and at once
looked to America; at home he could not hold up his head.
He had often been to Potlurg, and had been advancing in intimacy with
Alexa; but he would not show himself there until he could appear as a
man of decision--until he was on the point of departure. She would be
the more willing to believe his innocence of complicity in the
deceptions that had led to his ruin! He would thus also manifest
self-denial and avoid the charge of interested motives! he could not
face the suspicion of being a suitor with nothing to offer! George had
always taken the grand role--that of superior, benefactor, bestower. He
was powerful in condescension!
Not, therefore, until the night before he sailed did he go to Potlurg.
Alexa received him with a shade of displeasure.
"I am going away," he said, abruptly, the moment they were seated.
Her heart gave a painful throb in her throat, but she did not lose her
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"To New York," he replied. "I have got a situation there--in a not
unimportant house. _There_ at least I am taken for an honest man. From
your heaven I have fallen."
"No one falls from any heaven but has himself to blame," rejoined Alexa.
"Where have I been to blame? I was not in my father's confidence. I knew
nothing, positively nothing, of what was going on."
"Why then did you not come to see me?"
"A man who is neither beggar nor thief is not willing to look either."
"You would have come if you had trusted me," she said.
"You must pardon pride in a ruined man," he answered. "Now that I am
starting to-morrow, I do not feel the same dread of being
"It was not kind of you, George. Knowing yourself fit to be trusted, why
did you not think me capable of trusting?"
"But, Alexa!--a man's own father!"
For a moment he showed signs of an emotion he had seldom had to repress.
"I beg your pardon, George!" cried Alexa. "I am both stupid and selfish!
Are you really going so far?"
Her voice trembled.
"I am--but to return, I hope, in a very different position!"
"You would have me understand--"
"That I shall then be able to hold up my head."
"Why should an innocent man ever do otherwise?"
"He can not help seeing himself in other people's thoughts!"
"If we are in the right ought we to mind what people think of us?" said
"Perhaps not. But I will make them think of me as I choose."
"By compelling their respect."
"You mean to make a fortune?"
"Then it will be the fortune they respect! You will not be more worthy!"
"I shall not."
"Is such respect worth having?"
"Not in itself."
"In what then? Why lay yourself out for it?"
"Believe me, Alexa, even the real respect of such people would be
worthless to me. I only want to bring them to their marrow-bones!"
The truth was, Alexa prized social position so dearly that she did not
relish his regarding it as a thing at the command of money. Let George
be as rich as a Jew or an American, Alexa would never regard him as her
equal! George worshiped money; Alexa worshiped birth and land.
Our own way of being wrong is all right in our own eyes; our neighbor's
way of being wrong is offensive to all that is good in us. We are
anxious therefore, kindly anxious, to pull the mote out of his eye,
never thinking of the big beam in the way of the operation. Jesus
labored to show us that our immediate business is to be right ourselves.
Until we are, even our righteous indignation is waste.
While he spoke, George's eyes were on the ground. His grand resolve did
not give his innocence strength to look in the face of the woman he
loved; he felt, without knowing why, that she was not satisfied with
him. Of the paltriness of his ambition, he had no inward hint. The high
resolves of a puny nature must be a laughter to the angels--the bad
"If a man has no ambition," he resumed, feeling after her objection,
"how is he to fulfill the end of his being! No sluggard ever made his
mark! How would the world advance but for the men who have to make their
fortunes! If a man find his father has not made money for him, what is
he to do but make it for himself? You would not have me all my life a
clerk! If I had but known, I should by this time have been well ahead!"
Alexa had nothing to answer; it all sounded very reasonable! Were not
Scots boys everywhere taught it was the business of life to rise? In
whatever position they were, was it not their part to get out of it? She
did not see that it is in the kingdom of heaven only we are bound to
rise. We are born into the world not to rise in the kingdom of Satan,
but out of it And the only way to rise in the kingdom of heaven is to do
the work given us to do. Whatever be intended for us, this is the only
way to it We have not to promote ourselves, but to do our work. It is
the master of the feast who says: "Go up." If a man go up of himself, he
will find he has mistaken the head of the table.
More talk followed, but neither cast any light; neither saw the true
question. George took his leave. Alexa said she would be glad to hear
Alexa did not like the form of George's ambition--to gain money, and so
compel the respect of persons he did not himself respect But was she
clear of the money disease herself? Would she have married a poor man,
to go on as hitherto? Would she not have been ashamed to have George
know how she had supplied his needs while he lay in the house--that it
was with the poor gains of her poultry-yard she fed him? Did it improve
her moral position toward money that she regarded commerce with
contempt--a rudiment of the time when nobles treated merchants as a
cottager his bees?
George's situation was a subordinate one in a house of large dealings in
Is not the Church supposed to be made up of God's elect? and yet most of
my readers find it hard to believe there should be three persons, so
related, who agreed to ask of God, and to ask neither riches nor love,
but that God should take His own way with them, that the Father should
work His will in them, that He would teach them what He wanted of them,
and help them to do it! The Church is God's elect, and yet you can not
believe in three holy children! Do you say: "Because they are
represented as beginning to obey so young?" "Then," I answer, "there can
be no principle, only an occasional and arbitrary exercise of spiritual
power, in the perfecting of praise out of the mouth of babes and
sucklings, or in the preference of them to the wise and prudent as the
recipients of divine revelation."
Dawtie never said much, but tried the more. With heartiness she accepted
what conclusions the brothers came to, so far as she understood
them--and what was practical she understood as well as they; for she had
in her heart the spirit of that Son of Man who chose a child to
represent Him and His Father. As to what they heard at church, their
minds were so set on doing what they found in the Gospel, that it passed
over them without even rousing their intellect, and so vanished without
doing any hurt. Tuned to the truth by obedience, no falsehood they heard
from the pulpit partisans of God could make a chord vibrate in response.
Dawtie indeed heard nothing but the good that was mingled with the
falsehood, and shone like a lantern through a thick fog.
She was little more than a child when, to the trouble of her parents,
she had to go out to service. Every half year she came home for a day or
so, and neither feared nor found any relation altered. At length after
several closely following changes, occasioned by no fault of hers, she
was without a place. Miss Fordyce heard of it, and proposed to her
parents that, until she found another, she should help Meg, who was
growing old and rather blind: she would thus, she said, go on learning,
and not be idling at home.
Dawtie's mother was not a little amused at the idea of any one idling in
her house, not to say Dawtie, whom idleness would have tried harder than
any amount of work; but, if only that Miss Fordyce might see what sort
of girl Dawtie was, she judged it right to accept her offer.
She had not been at Potlurg a week before Meg began to complain that she
did not leave work enough to keep her warm. No doubt it gave her time
for her book, but her eyes were not so good as they used to be, and she
was apt to fall asleep over it, and catch cold! But when her mistress
proposed to send her away, she would not hear of it So Alexa, who had
begun to take an interest in her, set her to do things she had hitherto
done herself, and began to teach her other things. Before three months
were over, she was a necessity in the house, and to part with Dawtie
seemed impossible. A place about that time turning up, Alexa at once
offered her wages, and so Dawtie became an integral portion of the
laird's modest household.
The laird himself at length began to trust her as he had never trusted
servant, for he taught her to dust his precious books, which hitherto he
had done himself, but of late had shrunk from, finding not a few of them
worse than Pandora-boxes, liberating asthma at the merest unclosing.
Dawtie was now a grown woman, bright, gentle, playful, with loving eyes,
and a constant overflow of tenderness upon any creature that could
receive it. She had small but decided and regular features, whose
prevailing expression was confidence--not in herself, for she was scarce
conscious of herself even in the act of denying herself--but in the
person upon whom her trusting eyes were turned. She was in the world to
help--with no political economy beyond the idea that for help and
nothing else did any one exist. To be as the sun and the rain and the
wind, as the flowers that lived for her and not for themselves, as the
river that flowed, and the heather that bloomed lovely on the bare moor
in the autumn, such was her notion of being. That she had to take care
of herself was a falsehood that never entered her brain. To do what she
ought, and not do what she ought not, was enough on her part, and God
would do the rest! I will not say she reasoned thus; to herself she was
scarce a conscious object at all. Both bodily and spiritually she was in
the finest health. If illness came, she would perhaps then discover a
self with which she had to fight--I can not tell; but my impression is,
that she had so long done the true thing, that illness would only
develop unconscious victory, perfecting the devotion of her simple
righteousness. It is because we are selfish, with that worst selfishness
which is incapable of recognizing itself, not to say its own
loathsomeness, that we have to be made ill. That they may leave the last
remnants of their selfishness, are the saints themselves over-taken by
age and death. Suffering does not cause the vile thing in us--that was
there all the time; it comes to develop in us the knowledge of its
presence, that it may be war to the knife between us and it. It was no
wonder that Dawtie grew more and more of a favorite at Potlurg.
She did not read much, but would learn by heart anything that pleased
her, and then go saying or singing it to herself. She had the voice of a
lark, and her song prevented many a search for her. Against that "rain
of melody," not the pride of the laird, or the orderliness of the
ex-school-master ever put up the umbrella of rebuke. Her singing was so
true, came so clear from the fountain of joy, and so plainly from no
desire to be heard, that it gave no annoyance; while such was her
sympathy, that, although she had never get suffered, you would, to hear
her sing "My Nannie's awa'!" have thought her in truth mourning an
absent lover, and familiar with every pang of heart-privation. Her
cleanliness, clean even of its own show, was a heavenly purity; while so
gently was all her spiriting done, that the very idea of fuss died in
the presence of her labor. To the self-centered such a person soon
becomes a nobody; the more dependent they are upon her unfailing
ministration, the less they think of her; but they have another way of
regarding such in "the high countries." Hardly any knew her real name;
she was known but by her pet name _Dawtie_.
Alexa, who wondered at times that she could not interest her in things
she made her read, little knew how superior the girl's choice was to her
own! Not knowing much of literature, what she liked was always of the
best in its kind, and nothing without some best element could interest
her at all. But she was not left either to her "own sweet will" or to
the prejudices of her well-meaning mistress; however long the intervals
that parted them, Andrew continued to influence her reading as from the
first. A word now and a word then, with the books he lent or gave her,
was sufficient. That Andrew liked this or that, was enough to make
Dawtie set herself to find in it what Andrew liked, and it was thus she
became acquainted with most of what she learned by heart.
Above two years before the time to which I have now brought my
narrative, Sandy had given up farming, to pursue the development of
certain inventions of his which had met the approval of a man of means
who, unable himself to devise, could yet understand a device: he saw
that there was use, and consequently money in them, and wisely put it in
Sandy's power to perfect them. He was in consequence but little at home,
and when Dawtie went to see her parents, as she could much oftener now,
Andrew and she generally met without a third. However many weeks might
have passed, they always met as if they had parted only the night
before. There was neither shyness nor forwardness in Dawtie. Perhaps a
livelier rose might tinge her sweet round cheek when she saw Andrew;
perhaps a brighter spark shone in the pupil of Andrew's eye; but they
met as calmly as two prophets in the secret of the universe, neither
anxious nor eager. The old relation between them was the more potent
that it made so little outward show.
"Have you anything for me, Andrew?" Dawtie would say, in the strong
dialect which her sweet voice made so pleasant to those that loved her;
whereupon Andrew, perhaps without immediate answer more than a smile,
would turn into his room, and reappear with what he had got ready for
her to "chew upon" till they should meet again. Milton's sonnet, for
instance, to the "virgin wise and pure," had long served her aspiration;
equally wise and pure, Dawtie could understand it as well as she for
whom it was written. To see the delight she took in it, would have been
a joy to any loving student of humanity. It had cost her more effort to
learn than almost any song, and perhaps therefore it was the more
precious. Andrew seldom gave her a book to learn from; in general he
copied, in his clearest handwriting, whatever poem or paragraph he
thought fit for Dawtie; and when they met, she would not unfrequently,
if there was time, repeat unasked what she had learned, and be rewarded
with his unfailing look of satisfaction.
There was a secret between them--a secret proclaimed on the house-tops,
a secret hidden, the most precious of pearls, in their hearts--that the
earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; that its work is the work
of the Lord, whether the sowing of the field, the milking of the cow,
the giving to the poor, the spending of wages, the reading of the Bible;
that God is all in all, and every throb of gladness His gift; that their
life came fresh every moment from His heart; that what was lacking to
them would arrive the very moment He had got them ready for it. They
were God's little ones in God's world--none the less their own that they
did not desire to swallow it, or thrust it in their pockets.
Among poverty-stricken Christians, consumed with care to keep a hold of
the world and save their souls, they were as two children of the house.
By living in the presence of the living One, they had become themselves
His presence--dim lanterns through which His light shone steady. Who
SANDY AND GEORGE.
Sandy had found it expedient to go to America, and had now been there a
twelvemonth; he had devised a machine of the value of which not even his
patron could be convinced--that is, he could not see the prospect of its
making money fast enough to constitute it a _good thing_. Sandy regarded
it as a discovery, a revelation for the uplifting of a certain
down-trodden portion of the community; and therefore, having saved a
little money, had resolved to make it known in the States, where insight
into probabilities is fresher. And now Andrew had a letter from him in
which he mentioned that he had come across Mr. Crawford, already of high
repute in Wall Street; that he had been kind to him, and having learned
his object in visiting the country, and the approximate risk in bringing
out his invention, had taken the thing into consideration. But the next
mail brought another letter to the effect that, having learned the
nature of the business done by Mr. Crawford, he found himself unable to
distinguish between it and gambling, or worse; it seemed to him a vortex
whose very emptiness drew money into it. He had therefore drawn back,
and declined to put the thing in Crawford's hands. This letter Andrew
gave Dawtie to read, that she might see that Sandy remained a true man.
He had never been anxious on the point, but was very glad that ignorance
had not drawn him into an evil connection.
Dawtie took the letter with her to read at her leisure. Unable, however,
to understand something Sandy said concerning Mr. Crawford's business,
she asked a question or two of her mistress, which led to questions on
Alexa's part. Finding what was the subject of Sandy's letter, she wished
to see it. Dawtie asked leave of Andrew, and gave it her.
Alexa was both distressed and indignant becoming at once George's
partisan. Her distress diminished and her indignation increased as she
reflected on the _airt_ whence the unfavorable report reached her; the
brothers were such peculiar men! She recalled the strange things she had
heard of their childhood; doubtless the judgment was formed on an
overstrained and quixotic idea of honesty! Besides, there had always
been a strong socialistic tendency in them, which explained how Sandy
could malign his benefactor! George was incapable of doing anything
dishonorable! She would not trouble herself about it. But she would like
to know how Andrew regarded the matter.
She asked him therefore what he thought of Sandy's procedure. Andrew
replied that he did not know much about business; but that the only
safety must lie in having nothing to do with what was doubtful;
therefore Sandy had done right. Alexa said it was too bad of him to
condemn where he confessed ignorance. Andrew replied:
"Ma'am, if Mr. Crawford is wrong he is condemned; if he is right my
private doubt can not hurt him. Sandy must act by his own doubt, not by
Mr. Crawford's confidence."
Alexa grew more distressed, for she began to recall things George had
said which at the time she had not liked, but which she had succeeded in
forgetting. If he had indeed gone astray, she hoped he would forget her;
she could do without him! But the judgment of such a man as Sandy could
settle nothing. Of humble origin and childish simplicity, he could not
see the thing as a man of experience must. George might be all right
notwithstanding. At the same time there was his father--whose reputation
remained under a thick cloud, whose failed character rather than his
ill-success had driven George to the other continent. Breed must go for
something in a question of probabilities. It was the first time Alexa's
thoughts had been turned into such a channel. She clung to the poor
comfort that something must have passed at the interview so kindly
sought by George to set the quixotical young farmer against him. She
would not utter his name to Andrew ever again!
She was right in thinking that George cherished a sincere affection for
her. It was one of the spurs which drove him too eagerly after money. I
doubt if any man starts with a developed love of money for its own
sake--except indeed he be born of generations of mammon worshipers.
George had gone into speculation with the object of retrieving the
position in which he had supposed himself born, and in the hope of
winning the hand of his cousin--thinking too much of himself to offer
what would not in the eyes of the world be worth her acceptance. When he
stepped on the inclined plane of dishonesty he believed himself only
engaging in "legitimate speculation;" but he was at once affected by the
atmosphere about him. Wrapped in the breath of admiration and adulation
surrounding men who cared for _nothing_ but money-making, men who were
not merely dishonest, but the very serpents of dishonesty, against whom
pickpockets will "stick off" as angels of light; constantly under the
softly persuasive influence of low morals and extravagant appreciation
of cunning, he came by rapid degrees to think less and less of right and
wrong. At first he called the doings of the place dishonest; then he
called them sharp practice; then he called them a little shady; then,
close sailing; then he said this or that transaction was deuced clever;
then, the man was more rogue than fool; then he laughed at the success
of a vile trick; then he touched the pitch, and thinking all the time it
was but with one finger, was presently besmeared all over--as was
natural, for he who will touch is already smeared.
While Alexa was fighting his battles with herself he had thrown down his
arms in the only battle worth fighting. When he wrote to her, which he
did regularly, he said no more about business than that his prospects
were encouraging; how much his reticence may have had to do with a sense
of her disapproval I can not tell.
MOTHER AND DAUGHTER.
One lovely summer evening Dawtie, with a bundle in her hand, looked from
the top of a grassy knoll down on her parents' turf cottage. The sun was
setting behind her, and she looked as if she had stepped from it as it
touched the ground on which she stood, rosy with the rosiness of the
sun, but with a light in her countenance which came from a higher
source, from the same nest as the sun himself. She paused but a moment,
ran down the hill, and found her mother making the porridge. Mother and
daughter neither embraced, nor kissed, nor even shook hands, but their
faces glowed with delight, and words of joy and warmest welcome flowed
"But ye haena lost yer place, hae ye, hinny?" said the mother.
"No, mother; there's no fear o' that, as lang's the laird or Miss Lexy's
to the fore. They tret me--I winna say like ane o' themsel's, but as if
they would hae likit me for ane o' themsel's, gien it had pleased the
Lord to sen' me their way instead o' yours. They're that guid to me ye
"Then what's broucht ye the day?"
"I beggit for a play-day. I wantit to see An'rew."
"Eh, lass! I'm feart for ye! Ye maunna set yer hert sae hie! An'rew's
the best o' men, but a lass canna hae a man til hersel' jist 'cause he's
the best man i' the warl'!"
"What mean ye by that, mother?" said Dawtie, looking a little scared.
"Am I no' to lo'e An'rew, 'cause he's 'maist as guid's the Lord wad hae
him? Wad ye hae me hate him for't? Has na he taught me to lo'e God--to
lo'e Him better nor father, mither, An'rew, or onybody? I _wull_ lo'e
An'rew! What can ye mean, mother?"
"What I mean, Dawtie, is, that ye mamma think because ye lo'e him ye
maun hae him; ye maunna think ye canna du wantin' An'rew!"
"It's true, mother, I kenna what I should do wantin' An'rew! Is na he
aye shovin' the door o' the kingdom a wee wider to lat me see in the
better? It's little ferly (_marvel_) I lo'e him! But as to wantin'him
for my ain man, as ye hae my father!--mother, I wad be ashamet o' mysel'
to think o' ony sic a thing!--clean affrontit wi' mysel' I wad be!"
"Weel, weel, bairn! Ye was aye a wise like lass, an' I maun lippen til
ye! Only luik to yer hert."
"As for no' lo'ein' him, mither--me that canna luik at a blin' kittlin'
ohn lo'ed it!--lo, mither! God made me sae, an didna mean me no' to lo'e
"Andrew!" she repeated, as if the word meant the perfection of earth's
worthiest rendering the idea of appropriation too absurd.
Silence followed, but the mother was brooding.
"Ye maun bethink ye, lass, hoo far he's abune ye!" she said at length.
As the son of the farmer on whose land her husband was a cotter, Andrew
seemed to her what the laird seemed to old John Ingram, and what the
earl seemed to the laird, though the laird's family was ancient when the
earl's had not been heard of. But Dawtie understood Andrew better than
did her mother.
"You and me sees him far abune, mother, but Andrew himsel' never thinks
o' nae sic things. He's sae used to luikin' up, he's forgotten to luik
doon. He bauds his lan' frae a higher than the laird, or the yerl
The mother was silent. She was faithful and true, but, fed on the dried
fish of logic and system and Roman legalism, she could not follow the
simplicities of her daughter's religion, who trusted neither in notions
about him, nor even in what he had done, but in the live Christ himself
whom she loved and obeyed.
"If Andrew wanted to marry me," Dawtie went on, jealous for the divine
liberty of her teacher, "which never cam intil's heid--na, no ance--the
same bein' ta'en up wi' far ither things, it wouldna be because I was
but a cotter lass that he wouldna tak his ain gait! But the morn's the
Sabbath day, and we'll hae a walk thegither."
"I dinna a'thegither like thae walks upo' the Sabbath day," said the
"Jesus walkit on the Sabbath the same as ony ither day, mother!"
"Weel, but He kenned what He was aboot!"
"And sae do I, mother! I ken His wull!"
"He had aye something on han' fit to be dune o' the Sabbath!"
"And so hae I the day, mother. If I was to du onything no fit i' this
His warl', luikin' oot o' the e'en He gae me, wi' the han's an' feet He
gae me, I wad jist deserve to be nippit oot at ance, or sent intil the
ooter mirk (_darkness_)!"
"There's a mony maun fare ill then, lass!"
"I'm sayin' only for mysel'. I ken nane sae to blame as I would be
"Is na that makin' yersel' oot better nor ither fowk, lass?"
"Gien I said I thoucht onything worth doin' but the wull o' God, I wad
be a leear; gien I say man or woman has naething ither to do i' this
warl' or the neist, I say it believin' ilkane o' them maun come til't at
the lang last. Feow sees't yet, but the time's comin' when ilkabody will
be as sure o' 't as I am. What won'er is't that I say't, wi' Jesus
tellin' me the same frae mornin' to nicht!"
"Lass, lass, I fear me, ye'll gang oot o' yer min'!"
"It 'll be intil the mind o' Christ, then, mother! I dinna care for my
ain min'. I hae nane o' my ain, an' will stick to His. Gien I dinna mak
His mine, and stick til't, I'm lost! Noo, mother, I'll set the things,
and run ower to the hoose, and lat An'rew ken I'm here!"
"As ye wull, lass! ye'r ayont me! I s' say naething anent a willfu'
woman, for ye've been aye a guid dochter. I trust I hae risen to houp
the Lord winna be disappointit in ye."
Dawtie found Andrew in the stable, suppering his horses, told him she
had something to talk to him about, and asked if he would let her go
with him in his walk the next day. Andrew was delighted to see her, but
he did not say so; and she was back before her mother had taken the milk
from the press. In a few minutes her father appeared, and welcomed her
with a sober joy. As they eat their supper, he could not keep his eyes
off her, she sat looking so well and nice and trim. He was a
good-looking, work-worn man, his hands absolutely horny with labor. But
inside many such horny husks are ripening beautiful kingdom hands, for
the time when "dear welcome Death" will loose and let us go from the
grave-clothes of the body that bind some of us even hand and foot.
Rugged father and withered mother were beautiful in the eyes of Dawtie,
and she and God saw them better than any other. Good, endless good was
on the way to them all! It was so pleasant to be waiting for the best of
all good things.
ANDREW AND DAWTIE.
Dawtie slept in peace and happy dreams till the next morning, when she
was up almost with the sun, and out in his low clear light. For the sun
was strong again; the red labor and weariness were gone from his shining
face. Everything about her seemed to know God, or at least to have had a
moment's gaze upon Him. How else could everything look so content,
hopeful and happy. It is the man who will not fall in with the Father's
bliss to whom the world seems soulless and dull. Dawtie was at peace
because she desired nothing but what she knew He was best pleased to
give her. Even had she cherished for Andrew the kind of love her mother
feared, her Lord's will would have been her comfort and strength. If any
one say: "Then she could not know what love is!" I answer: "That person
does not know what the better love is that lifts the being into such a
serene air that it can fast from many things and yet be blessed beyond
what any other granted desire could make it." The scent of the
sweet-pease growing against the turf wall entered Dawtie's soul like a
breath from the fields of heaven, where the children made merry with the
angels, the merriest of playfellows, and the winds and waters, and all
the living things, and all the things half alive, all the flowers and
all the creatures, were at their sportive call; where the little ones
had babies to play with, and did not hurt them, and where dolls were
neither loved nor missed, being never thought of. Suchlike were the
girl's imaginings as her thoughts went straying, inventing, discovering.
She did not fear the Father would be angry with her for being His child,
and playing at creation. Who, indeed, but one that in loving heart can
_make_, can rightly love the making of the Maker!
When they had had their breakfast, and the old people were ready for
church--where they would listen a little, sleep a little, sing heartily,
and hear nothing to wake hunger, joy or aspiration, Dawtie put a piece
of oat-cake in her pocket, and went to join Andrew where they had made
their tryst and where she found him waiting--at his length in a bush of
heather, with Henry Vaughan's "Silex Scintillans," drawing from it
"bright shoots of everlastingness" for his Sabbath day's delight. He
read one or two of the poems to Dawtie, who was pleased but not
astonished--she was never astonished at anything; she had nothing in her
to make anything beautiful by contrast; her mind was of beauty itself,
and anything beautiful was to her but in the order and law of
things--what was to be expected. Nothing struck her because of its
rarity; the rare was at home in her country, and she was at home with
it. When, for instance, he read: "Father of lights, what sunny seeds,"
she took it up at once and understood it, felt that the good man had
said the thing that was to be said, and loved him for it. She was not
surprised to hear that the prayer was more than two hundred years old;
were there not millions of years in front? why should it be wonderful
that a few years behind men should have thought and felt as she did, and
been able to say it as she never could! Had she not always loved the
little cocks, and watched them learning to crow?
"But, An'rew," she said at length, "I want to tell ye something that's
troublin' me; then ye can learn me what ye like."
"Tell on, Dawtie," said Andrew; and she began.
"Ae nicht aboot a fornight ago, I couldna sleep. I drave a' the sheep I
could gether i' my brain, ower ae stile efter anither, but the sleep
stack to the woo' o' them, an' ilk ane took o' 't awa' wi' him. I wadna
hae tried, but that I had to be up ear', and I was feared I wad sleep
For the sake of my more polished readers--I do not say more _refined_,
for polish and refinement may be worlds apart--I will give the rest in
"So I got up, and thought to sweep and dust the hall and the stairs;
then if, when I lay down again, I should sleep too long, there would be
a part of the day's work done! You know, Andrew, what the house is like;
at the top of the stair that begins directly you enter the house, there
is a big irregular place, bigger than the floor of your barn, laid with
flags. It is just as if all the different parts of the house had been
built at different times round about it, and then it was itself roofed
in by an after-thought. That's what we call _the hall_. The spare room
opens on the left at the top of the stair, and to the right, across the
hall, beyond the swell of the short thick tower you see the half of
outside, is the door of the study. It is all round with books--some of
them, mistress says, worth their weight in gold, they are so scarce. But
the master trusts me to dust them. He used to do it himself; but now
that he is getting old, he does not like the trouble, and it makes him
asthmatic. He says books more need dusting than anything else, but are
in more danger of being hurt by it, and it makes him nervous to see me
touch them. I have known him stand an hour watching me while I dusted,
looking all the time as if he had just taken a dose of medicine. So I
often do a few books at a time, as I can, when he is not in the way to
be worried with it. But he always knows where I have been with my duster
and long-haired brush. And now it came across me that I had better dust
some books first of all, as it was a good chance, he being sound asleep.
So I lighted my lamp, went straight to the study, and began where I last
"As I was dusting, one of the books I came to looked so new and
different from the rest that I opened it to see what it was like inside.
It was full of pictures of mugs, and gold and silver jugs and cups--some
of them plain and some colored; and one of the colored ones was so
beautiful that I stood and looked at it. It was a gold cup, I suppose,
for it was yellow; and all round the edge, and on the sides, it was set
with stones, like the stones in mistress's rings, only much bigger. They
were blue and red and green and yellow, and more colors than I can
remember. The book said it was made by somebody, but I forget his name.
It was a long name. The first part of it began with a _B_, and the
second with a _C_, I remember that much. It was like _Benjamin_, but it
wasn't _Benjamin_. I put it back in its place, thinking I would ask the
master whether there really were such beautiful things, and took down
the next. Now whether that had been passed over between two batches I
don't know, but it was so dusty that before I would touch another I gave
the duster a shake, and the wind of it blew the lamp out I took it up to
take it to the kitchen and kindle it again, when, to my astonishment, I
saw a light under the door of a press which was always locked, and where
master said he kept his most precious books. 'How strange!' I thought;
'a light inside a locked cupboard!' Then I remembered how in one place
where I had been there was, in a room over the stable, a press whose
door had no fastening except a bolt on the inside, which set me
thinking, and some terrible things came to me that made me remember it.
So now I said to myself: 'There's some one in there, after master's
books!' It was not a likely thing, but the night is the time for
fancies, and in the night you don't know what is likely and what is not.
One thing, however, was clear--I ought to find out what the light meant.
Fearful things darted one after the other through my head as I went to
the door, but there was one thing I dared not do, and that was to leave
it unopened. So I opened it as softly as I could, in terror lest the
thief should hear my heart beating. When I could peep in what do you
think I saw? I could not believe my eyes! There was a great big room! I
rubbed my eyes, and stared; and rubbed them again and stared--thinking
to rub it away; but there it was, a big odd-shaped room, part of it with
round sides, and in the middle of the room a table, and on the table a
lamp, burning as I had never seen lamp burn, and master at the table
with his back to me. I was so astonished I forgot that I had no business
there, and ought to go away. I stood like an idiot, mazed and lost. And
you will not wonder when I tell you that the laird was holding up to the
light, between his two hands, the very cup I had been looking at in the
book, the stones of it flashing all the colors of the rainbow. I should
think it a dream, if I did not _know_ it was not. I do not believe I
made any noise, for I could not move, but he started up with a cry to
God to preserve him, set the cup on the table, threw something over it,
caught up a wicked-looking knife, and turned round. His face was like
that of a corpse, and I could see him tremble. I stood steady; it was no
time then to turn away. I supposed he expected to see a robber, and
would be glad when he discovered it was only me; but when he did his
fear changed to anger, and he came at me. His eyes were flaming, and he
looked as if he would kill me. I was not frightened--poor old man, I was
able for him any day!--but I was afraid of hurting him. So I closed the
door quickly, and went softly to my own room, where I stood a long time
in the dark, listening, but heard nothing more. What am I to do,
"I don't know that you have to do anything. You have one thing not to
do, that is--tell anybody what you have seen."
"I was forced to tell _you_ because I did not know what to do. It makes
me _so_ sorry!"
"It was no fault of yours. You acted to the best of your knowledge, and
could not help what came of it. Perhaps nothing more will come. Leave
the thing alone, and if he say anything tell him how it happened."
"But, Andrew, I don't think you see what it is that troubles me. I am
afraid my master is a miser. The mistress and he take their meals, like
poor people, in the kitchen. That must be the dining-room of the
house!--and though my eyes were tethered to the flashing cup, I could
not help seeing it was full of strange and beautiful things. Among them,
I knew, by pictures I had seen, the armor of knights, when they fought
on their horses' backs. Before people had money they must have misered
other things. Some girls miser their clothes, and never go decent!"
"Suppose him a miser," said Andrew, "what could you do? How are you to
"That's what I want to know. I love my master, and there must be a way
to help it. It was terrible to see him, in the middle of the night,
gazing at that cup as if he had found the most precious thing that can
ever have existed on the earth."
"What was that?" asked Andrew.
He delighted in Dawtie's talk. It was like an angel's, he said, both in
its ignorance and its wisdom.
"You can't have forgotten, Andrew. It's impossible!" she answered. "I
heard you say yourself!"
"I know," he said.
"Poor man!" resumed Dawtie; "he looked at the cup as you might at that
manuscript! His soul was at it, feasting upon it! Now wasn't that
"It was like it."
"And I love my master," repeated Dawtie, thus putting afresh the
question what she was to do.
"Why do you love him, Dawtie?" asked Andrew.
"Because I'm set to love him. Besides, we're told to love our
enemies--then surely we're to love our friends. He has always been a
friend to me. He never said a hard word to me, even when I was handling
his books. He trusts me with them! I can't help loving him--a good deal,
Andrew! And it's what I've got to do!"
"There's not a doubt about it, Dawtie. You've got to love him, and you
do love him!"
"But there's more than that, Andrew. To hear the laird talk you would
think he cared more for the Bible than for the whole world--not to say
gold cups. He talks of the merits of the Saviour, that you would think
he loved Him with all his heart. But I can not get it out of my mind,
ever since I saw that look on his face, that he loves that cup--that
it's his graven image--his idol! How else should he get up in the middle
of the night to--to--to--well, it was just like worshiping it."
"You're afraid then that he's a hypocrite, Dawtie!"
"No; I daren't think that--if it were only for fear I should stop loving
him--and that would be as bad!"
"As bad as what, Dawtie?"
"I don't always know what I'm going to say," answered Dawtie, a little
embarrassed, "and then when I've said it I have to look what it means.
But isn't it as bad not to love a human being as it would be to love a
"Perhaps worse," said Andrew.
"Something must be done!" she went on. "He can't be left like that! But
if he has any love to his Master, how is it that the love of that Master
does not cast out the love of Mammon? I can't understand it."
"You have asked a hard question, Dawtie. But a cure may be going on, and
take a thousand years or ages to work it out."
"What if it shouldn't be begun yet."
"That would be terrible."
"What then am I to do, Andrew? You always say we must _do_ something!
You say there is no faith but what _does_ something!"
"The apostle James said so, a few years before I was born, Dawtie!"
"Don't make fun of me--please, Andrew! I like it, but I can't bear it
to-day, my head is so full of the poor old laird!"
"Make fun of you, Dawtie! Never! But I don't know yet how to answer
"Well, then, what _am_ I to do?" persisted Dawtie.
"Wait, of course, till you know what to do. When you don't know what to
do, don't do anything--only keep asking the Thinker for wisdom. And
until you know, don't let the laird see that you know anything."
With this answer Dawtie was content.
Business was over, and they turned to go home.
DAWTIE AND THE CUP.
The old man had a noteworthy mental fabric. Believing himself a true
lover of literature, and especially of poetry, he would lecture for ten
minutes on the right mode of reading a verse in Hilton or Dante; but as
to Satan or Beatrice, would pin his faith to the majority of the
commentators: Milton's Satan was too noble, and Beatrice was no woman,
but Theology. He was discriminative to a degree altogether admirable as
to the brightness or wrongness of a proposition with regard to conduct,
but owed his respectability to good impulses without any effort of the
will. He was almost as orthodox as Paul before his conversion, lacking
only the heart and the courage to persecute. Whatever the eternal wisdom
saw in him, the thing most present to his own consciousness was the love
of rare historic relics. And this love was so mingled in warp and woof,
that he did not know whether a thing was more precious to him for its
rarity, its money value, or its historico-reliquary interest. All the
time he was a school-master, he saved every possible half-penny to buy
books, not because of their worth or human interest, but because of
their literary interest, or the scarcity of the book or edition. In the
holidays he would go about questing for the prey that his soul loved,
hunting after precious things; but not even the precious things of the
everlasting hills would be precious to him until they had received the
stamp of curiosity. His life consisted in a continual search for
something new that was known as known of old. It had hardly yet occurred
to him that he must one day leave his things and exist without them, no
longer to brood over them, take them in his hands, turn, and stroke, and
admire them; yet, strange to say, he would at times anxiously seek to
satisfy himself that he was safe for a better world, as he _called_
it--to feel certain, that is, that his faith was of the sort he supposed
intended by Paul--not that he had himself gathered anything from the
apostle, but all from the traditions of his church concerning the
teaching of the apostle. He was anxious, I say, as to his safety for the
world to come, and yet, while his dearest joy lay treasured in that
hidden room, he never thought of the hour when he must leave it all, and
go houseless and pocketless, empty-handed if not armless, in the wide,
closetless space, hearing ever in the winds and the rain and the sound
of the sea-waves, the one question--"Whose shall those things be which
thou hast provided?" Like the rich man to whom God said the words, he
had gathered much goods for many years--hundreds and hundreds of things,
every one of which he knew, and every one of which he loved. A new
scratch on the bright steel of one of his suits of armor was a scratch
on his heart; the moth and the rust troubled him sore, for he could not
keep them away; and where his treasure was, there was his heart,
devoured by the same moth, consumed by the same rust. He had much
suffering from his possessions--was more exposed to misery than the
miser of gold, for the hoarded coin of the latter may indeed be stolen,
but he fears neither moth nor rust nor scratch nor decay. The laird
cherished his things as no mother her little ones. Nearly sixty years he
had been gathering them, and their money-worth was great, but he had no
idea of its amount, for he could not have endured the exposure and
handling of them which a valuation must involve.
His love for his books had somewhat declined in the growth of his love
for things, and now, by degrees not very slow, his love for his things
was graduating itself after what he supposed their money-value. His soul
not only clave to the dust but was going deeper and deeper in the dust
as it wallowed. All day long he was living in the past and growing old
in it--it is one thing to grow old in the past, and another to grow old
in the present! As he took his walk about his farms, or sat at his
meals, or held a mild, soulless conversation with his daughter, his
heart was growing old, not healthily in the present, which is to ripen,
but unwholesomely in the past, which is to consume with a dry rot. While
he read the Bible at prayers, trying hard to banish worldly things from
his mind, his thoughts were not in the story or the argument he read,
but hovering, like a bird over its nest, about the darlings of his
heart. Yea, even while he prayed, his soul, instead of casting off the
clay of the world, was loaded and dragged down with all the
still-moldering, slow-changing things that lined the walls and filled
the drawers and cabinets of his treasure-chamber. It was a place of
whose existence not even his daughter knew; for before ever she entered
the house, he had taken with him a mason from the town, and built up the
entrance to it from the hall, ever afterward keeping the other door of
it that opened from his study carefully locked, and leaving it to be
regarded as the door of a closet.
It was as terrible as Dawtie felt it, that a live human soul should thus
haunt the sepulcher of the past, and love the lifeless, turning a room
hitherto devoted to hospitality and mirthful intercourse into the temple
of his selfish idolatry. It was as one of the rooms carved for the dead
in the Beban El Malook. Sure, if left to himself, the ghost that loved
it would haunt the place! But he could not surely be permitted! for it
might postpone a thousand years his discovery of the emptiness of a
universe of such treasures. Now he was moldering into the world of
spirits in the heart of an avalanche of the dust of ages, dust material
from his hoards, dust moral and spiritual from his withering soul
The next day he was ill, which, common as is illness to humanity, was
strange, for it had never befallen him before. He was unable to leave
his bed. But he never said a word to his daughter, who alone waited on
him, as to what had happened in the night. He had passed it sleepless,
and without the possibility of a dream on which to fall back; yet, when
morning came, he was in much doubt whether what he had seen--the face,
namely, of Dawtie, peeping in at the door--was a reality, or but a
vision of the night. For when he opened the door which she had closed,
all was dark, and not the slightest sound reached his quick ear from the
swift foot of her retreat. He turned the key twice, and pushed two
bolts, eager to regard the vision as a providential rebuke of his
carelessness in leaving the door on the latch--for the first time, he
imagined. Then he tottered back to his chair, and sunk on it in a cold
sweat. For, although the confidence grew, that what he had seen was but
a false creation
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain,
it was far from comfortable to feel that he could no longer depend upon
his brain to tell him only the thing that was true. What if he were
going out of his mind, on the way to encounter a succession of
visions--without reality, but possessed of its power! What if they
should be such whose terror would compel him to disclose what most he
desired to keep covered? How fearful to be no more his own master, but
at the beck and call of a disordered brain, a maniac king in a _cosmos
acosmos_! Better it had been Dawtie, and she had seen in his hands
Benvenuto Cellini's chalice made for Pope Clement the Seventh to drink
therefrom the holy wine--worth thousands of pounds! Perhaps she had seen
it! No, surely she had not! He must be careful not to make her suspect!
He would watch her and say nothing!
But Dawtie, conscious of no wrong, and full of love to the old man,
showed an untroubled face when next she met him; and he made up his mind
that he would rather have her ignorant. Thenceforward, naturally though
childishly, he was even friendlier to her than before: it was so great a
relief to find that he had not to fear her!
The next time Dawtie was dusting the books, she felt strongly drawn to
look again at the picture of the cup: it seemed now to hold in it a
human life! She took down the book, and began where she stood to read
what it said about the chalice, referring as she read from letterpress
to drawing. It was taken from an illumination in a missal, where the cup
was known to have been copied; and it rendered the description in the
letterpress unnecessary except in regard to the stones and _dessins
repousses_ on the hidden side. She quickly learned the names of the
gems, that she might see how many were in the high-priest's breast-plate
and the gates of the new Jerusalem, then proceeded to the history of the
chalice. She read that it had come into the possession of Cardinal York,
the brother of Charles Edward Stuart, and had been by him intrusted to
his sister-in-law, the Duchess of Albany, from whose house it
disappeared, some said stolen, others said sold. It came next to the
historic surface in the possession of a certain earl whose love of
curiosities was well known; but from his collection again it vanished,
this time beyond a doubt stolen, and probably years before it was
A new train of thought was presently in motion in the mind of the girl:
_The beautiful cup was stolen! it was not where it ought to be! it was
not at home! it was a captive, a slave_! She lowered the book, half
closed, with a finger between the leaves, and stood thinking. She did
not for a moment believe her master had stolen it, though the fear did
flash through her mind. It had been stolen and sold, and he had bought
it at length of some one whose possession of it was nowise suspicious!
But he must know now that it had been stolen, for here, with the cup,
was the book which said so! That would be nothing if the rightful owner
were not known, but he was known, and the thing ought to be his! The
laird might not be bound, she was not sure, to restore it at his own
loss, for when he bought it he was not aware that it was stolen; but he
was bound to restore it at the price he had paid for it, if the former
owner would give it! This was bare justice! mere righteousness! No theft
could make the owner not the rightful owner, though other claims upon
the thing might come in! One ought not to be enriched by another's
misfortune! Dawtie was sure that a noble of the kingdom of heaven would
not wait for the money, but would with delight send the cup where it
ought to have been all the time! She knew better, however, than require
magnificence in any shape from the poor wizened soul of her master--a
man who knew all about everything, and whom yet she could not but fear
to _be_ nothing: as Dawtie had learned to understand life, the laird did
not yet exist. But he well knew right from wrong, therefore the
discovery she just made affected her duty toward him! It might be
impossible to make impression on the miserliness of a miser, but upon
the honesty in a miser it might be possible! The goblet was not his!
But the love of things dulls the conscience, and he might not be able,
having bought and paid for it, to see that the thing was not therefore
_his_! he might defend himself from seeing it! To Dawtie, this made the
horror of his condition the darker. She was one of God's babes, who can
not help seeing the true state of things. Logic was to her but the smoke
that rose from the burning truth; she saw what is altogether above and
beyond logic--the right thing, whose meanest servant, the hewer of its
wood, not the drawer of its water, the merest scullion and sweeper away
of lies from the pavement of its courts, is logic.
With a sigh she woke to the knowledge that she was not doing her work,
and rousing herself, was about to put the book on its shelf. But, her
finger being still in the place, she would have one more glance at the
picture! To her dismay she saw that she had made a mark on the plate,
and of the enormity of making a dirty mark on a book her master had made
her well aware.
She was in great distress. What was to be done? She did not once think
of putting it away and saying nothing. To have reasoned that her master
would never know, would have been an argument, pressing and imperative,
for informing him at once. She had done him an injury, and the injury
must be confessed and lamented; it was all that was left to be done!
"Sic a mischance!" she said, then bethought herself that there was no
such thing as mischance, when immediately it flashed upon her that here
was the door open for the doing of what was required of her. She was
bound to confess the wrong, and that would lead in the disclosure of
what she knew, rendering it comparatively easy to use some remonstrance
with the laird, whom in her mind's eye she saw like a beggar man
tottering down a steep road to a sudden precipice. Her duty was now so
plain that she felt no desire to consult Andrew. She was not one to ask
an opinion for the sake of talking opinion; she went to Andrew only when
she wanted light to do the right thing; when the light was around her,
she knew how to walk, and troubled no one.
At once she laid down book and duster, and went to find the laird. But
he had slipped away to the town, to have a rummage in a certain little
shop in a back street, which he had not rummaged for a long time enough,
he thought, to have let something come in. It was no relief to Dawtie:
the thing would be all the day before her instead of behind her! It
burned within her, not like a sin, but like what it was, a confession
unconfessed. Little wrong as she had done, Dawtie was yet familiar with
the lovely potency of confession to annihilate it. She knew it was the
turning from wrong that killed it, that confession gave the _coup de
grace_ to offense. Still she dreaded not a little the displeasure of her
master, and yet she dreaded more his distress.
She prepared the laird's supper with a strange mingling of hope and
anxiety: she feared having to go to bed without telling him. But he came
at last, almost merry, with a brown paper parcel under his arm, over
which he was very careful. Poor man, he little knew there waited him at
the moment a demand from the eternal justice almost as terrible as:
"This night they require thy soul of thee!"--(What a _they_ is that! Who
are _they_?)--The torture of the moral rack was ready for him at the
hands of his innocent house-maid! In no way can one torture another more
than by waking conscience against love, passion, or pride.
He laid his little parcel carefully on the supper-table, said rather a
shorter grace than usual, began to eat his porridge, praised it as very
good, spoke of his journey and whom he had seen, and was more talkative
than his wont He informed Alexa, almost with jubilation, that he had at
length found an old book he had been long on the watch for--a book that
treated, in ancient broad Scots, of the laws of verse, in full, even
exhaustive manner. He pulled it from his pocket.
"It is worth at least ten times what I gave for it!" he said.
Dawtie wondered whether there ought not to have been some division of
the difference; but she was aware of no call to speak. One thing was
enough for one night!
Then came prayers. The old man read how David deceived the Philistines,
telling them a falsehood as to his raids. He read the narrative with a
solemnity of tone that would have graced the most righteous action: was
it not the deed of a man according to God's own heart?--how could it be
other than right! Casuist ten times a week, he made no question of the
righteousness of David's wickedness! Then he prayed, giving thanks for
the mercy that had surrounded them all the day, shielding them from the
danger and death which lurked for them in every corner. What would he
say when death did get him? Dawtie thought. Would he thank God then? And
would he see, when she spoke to him, that God wanted to deliver him from
a worse danger than any out-of-doors? Would he see that it was from much
mercy he was made more uncomfortable than perhaps ever in his life
At length his offering was completed--how far accepted who can tell! He
was God's, and He who gave him being would be his Father to the full
possibility of God. They rose from their knees; the laird took up his
parcel and book; his daughter went with him.
DAWTIE AND THE LAIRD.
As soon as Dawtie heard her mistress's door close, she followed her
master to the study, and arrived just as the door of the hidden room was
shut behind him. There was not a moment to be lost! She went straight to
it, and knocked rather loud. No answer came. She knocked again. Still
there was no answer. She knocked a third time, and after a little
fumbling with the lock, the door opened a chink, and a ghastly face,
bedewed with drops of terror, peeped through. She was standing a little
back, and the eyes did not at once find the object they sought; then
suddenly they lighted on her, and the laird shook from head to foot.
"What is it, Dawtie?" he faltered out in a broken voice.
"Please, sir," answered Dawtie, "I have something to confess: would ye
hearken to me?"
"No, no, Dawtie! I am sure you have nothing to confess!" returned the
old man, eager to send her away, and to prevent her from seeing the
importance of the room whose entrance she had discovered. "Or," he went
on, finding she did not move, "if you have done anything, Dawtie, that
you ought not to have done, confess it to God. It is to Him you must
confess, not to a poor mortal like me! For my part, if it lies to me, I
forgive you, and there is an end! Go to your bed, Dawtie."
"Please, sir, I canna. Gien ye winna hear til me, I'll sit doon at the
door o' this room, and sit till--"
"What room, Dawtie? Call you this a room? It's a wee bit closet where I
say my prayers before I go to bed."
But as he spoke his blood ran cold within him, for he had uttered a
deliberate lie--two lies in one breath: the bit closet was the largest
room in the house, and he had never prayed a prayer in it since first he
entered it! He was unspeakably distressed at what he had done, for he
had always cherished the idea that he was one who would not lie to save
his life. And now in his old age he had lied who when a boy had honor
enough to keep him from lying! Worst of all, now that he had lied, he
must hold to the lie! He _dared_ not confess it! He stood sick and
"I'll wait, sir," said Dawtie, distressed at his suffering, and more
distressed that he could lie who never forgot his prayers! Alas, he was
further down the wrong road than she had supposed!
Ashamed for his sake, and also for her own, to look him in the face--for
did he not imagine she believed him, while she knew that he lied?--she
turned her back on him. He caught at his advantage, glided out, and
closed the door behind him. When Dawtie again turned, she saw him in her
Her trial was come; she had to speak for life or death! But she
remembered that the Lord told His disciples to take no care how they
should speak; for when the time came it would be given them to speak. So
she began by simply laying down the thing that was in her hand.
"Sir," she said, "I am very sorry, but this morning I made a dirty mark
in one of your books!"
Her words alarmed him a little, and made him forget for the instant his
more important fears. But he took care to be gentle with her; it would
not do to offend her! for was she not aware that where they stood was a
door by which he went in and out?
"You make me uneasy, Dawtie!" he said. "What book was it? Let me see
"I will, sir."
She turned to take it down, but the laird followed her, saying:
"Point it out to me, Dawtie. I will get it."
She did so. It opened at the plate.
"There is the mark!" she said. "I am right sorry."
"So am I!" returned the laird. "But," he added, willing she should feel
his clemency, and knowing the book was not a rare one, "it is a book
still, and you will be more careful another time! For you must remember,
Dawtie, that you don't come into this room to read the books, but to
dust them. You can go to bed now with an easy mind, I hope!"
Dawtie was so touched by the kindness and forbearance of her master that
the tears rose in her eyes, and she felt strengthened for her task. What
would she not have encountered for his deliverance!
"Please, sir," she said, "let me show you a thing you never perhaps
happened to read!" And taking the book from his hand--he was too much
astonished to retain it--she turned over the engraving, and showed him
the passage which stated that the cup had disappeared from the
possession of its owner, and had certainly been stolen.
Finding he said not a word, she ventured to lift her eyes to his, and
saw again the corpse-like face that had looked through the chink of the
"What do you mean?" he stammered. "I do not understand!"
His lips trembled: was it possible he had had to do with the stealing of
The truth was this: he had learned the existence of the cup from this
very book; and had never rested until, after a search of more than ten
years, he at length found it in the hands of a poor man who dared not
offer it for sale. Once in his possession, the thought of giving it up,
or of letting the owner redeem it, had never even occurred to him. Yet
the treasure made him rejoice with a trembling which all his casuistry
would have found it hard to explain; for he would not confess to himself
its real cause--namely, that his God-born essence was uneasy with a
vague knowledge that it lay in the bosom of a thief. "Don't you think,
sir," said Dawtie, "that whoever has that cup ought to send it back to
the place it was stolen from?"
Had the old man been a developed hypocrite, he would have replied at
once: "He certainly ought." But by word of mouth to condemn himself
would have been to acknowledge to himself that he ought to send the cup
home, and this he dared not do. Men who will not do as they know, make
strange confusion in themselves. The worst rancor in the vessel of peace
is the consciousness of wrong in a not all-unrighteous soul. The laird
was false to his own self, but to confess himself false would be to
initiate a change which would render life worthless to him! What would
all his fine things be without their heart of preciousness, the one
jewel that now was nowhere in the world but in his house, in the secret
chamber of his treasures, which would be a rifled case without it! As is
natural to one who will not do right, he began to argue the moral
question, treating it as a point of casuistry that troubled the mind of
"I don't know that, Dawtie!" he said. "It is not likely that the person
that has the cup, whoever he may be--that is, if the cup be still in
existence--is the same who stole it; and it would hardly be justice to
punish the innocent for the guilty?--as would be the case, if, supposing
I had bought the cup, I had to lose the money I paid for it. Should the
man who had not taken care of his cup have his fault condoned at my
expense? Did he not deserve, the many might say, to be so punished,
placing huge temptation in the path of the needy, to the loss of their
precious souls, and letting a priceless thing go loose in the world, to
work ruin to whoever might innocently buy it?"
His logic did not serve to show him the falsehood of his reasoning, for
his heart was in the lie. "Ought I or he," he went on, "to be punished
because he kept the thing ill? And how far would the quixotic obligation
descend? A score of righteous men may by this time have bought and sold
the cup!--is it some demon-talisman, that the last must meet the
penalty, when the original owner, or some descendant of the man who lost
it, chooses to claim it? For anything we know, he may himself have
pocketed the price of the rumored theft! Can you not see it would be a
flagrant injustice?--fit indeed to put an end to all buying and selling!
It would annihilate transfer of property! Possession would mean only
strength to keep, and the world would fall into confusion."
"It would be hard, I grant," confessed Dawtie; "but the man who has it
ought at least to give the head of the family in which it had been the
chance of buying it back at the price it cost him. If he could not buy
it back--then the thing would have to be thought over."
"I confess I don't see the thing," returned the laird. "But the question
needs not keep you out of bed, Dawtie! It is not often a girl in your
position takes an interest in the abstract! Besides," he resumed,
another argument occurring to him, "a thing of such historical value and
interest ought to be where it was cared for, not where it was in danger
"There might be something in that," allowed Dawtie, "if it were where
everybody could see it. But where is the good if it be but for the eyes
of one man?"
The eyes she meant fixed themselves upon her till their gaze grew to a
stony stare. She _must_ know that he had it! Or did she only suspect? He
must not commit himself! He must set a watch on the door of his lips!
What an uncomfortable girl to have in the house! Oh, those
self-righteous Ingrams! What mischief they did! His impulse was to dart
into his treasure-cave, lock himself in, and hug the radiant chalice. He
dared not. He must endure instead the fastidious conscience and probing
tongue of an intrusive maid-servant!
"But," he rejoined, with an attempt at a smile, "if the pleasure the one
man took in it should, as is easy to imagine, exceed immeasurably the
aggergate pleasure of the thousands that would look upon it and pass it
"The man would enjoy it the more that many saw it--except he loved it
for greed, when he would be rejoicing in iniquity, for the cup would not
be his. And anyhow, he could not take it with him when he died!"
The face of the miser grew grayer; his lip trembled; but he said
nothing. He was beginning to hate Dawtie. She was an enemy! She sought
his discomfiture, his misery! He had read strange things in certain old
books, and half believed some of them: what if Dawtie was one of those
evil powers that haunt a man in pleasant shape, learn the secrets of his
heart, and gain influence over him that they may tempt him to yield his
soul to the enemy! She was set on ruining him! Certainly she knew that
cup was in his possession! He must temporize! He must _seem_ to listen!
But as soon as fit reason could be found, such as would neither
compromise him nor offend her, she must be sent away! And of all things,
she must not gain the means of proving what she now perhaps only
suspected, and was seeking assurance of! He stood thinking. It was but
for a moment; for the very next words from the lips of the girl that was
to him little more than a house-broom, set him face to face with
reality--the one terror of the unreal.
"Eh, maister, sir," said Dawtie, with the tears in her eyes, and now at
last breaking down in her English, "dinna ye _ken_ 'at ye _hae_ to gie
the man 'at aucht that gowden bicker, the chance o' buyin' 't back?"
The laird shivered. He dared not say: "How do you know?" for he dared
not hear the thing proved to him. If she did know, he would not front
her proof! He would not have her even suppose it an acknowledged fact!
"If I had the cup," he began--but she interrupted him: it was time they
should have done with lying!
"Ye ken ye hae the cup, sir!" she said. "And I ken tu, for I saw 't i'
"You shameless, prying hussy!" he began, in a rage at last--but the
eager, tearful earnestness of her face made him bethink himself: it
would not do to make an enemy of her! "Tell me, Dawtie," he said, with
sudden change of tone, "how it was you came to see it."
She told him all--how and when; and he knew that he had seen her see
He managed to give a poor little laugh.
"All is not gold that glitters, Dawtie!" he said. "The cup you saw was
not the one in the book, but an imitation of it--mere gilded tin and
colored glass--copied from the picture, as near as they could make
it--just to see better what it must have been like. Why, my good girl,
that cup would be worth thousands of pounds! So go to bed, and don't
trouble yourself about gold cups. It is not likely any of them will come
Simple as Dawtie was, she did not believe him. But she saw no good to be
done by disputing what he ought to know.
"It wasna aboot the gold cup I was troublin' mysel'!" she said,
"You are right there!" he replied, with another deathly laugh, "it was
not! But you have been troubling me about nothing half the night, and I
am shivering with cold! We really must, both of us, go to bed! What
would your mistress say!"
"No," persisted Dawtie, "it wasna aboot the cup, gowd or no gowd; it was
and is aboot my maister I'm troubled! I'm terrible feart for ye, sir!
Ye're a worshiper o' Mammon, sir!"
The laird laughed, for the danger was over!--to Dawtie's deep dismay he
"My poor girl," he said, "you take an innocent love of curious things
for the worship of Mammon! Don't imagine me jesting. How could you
believe an old man like me, an elder of the kirk, a dispenser of her
sacred things, guilty of the awful crime of Mammon worship?"
He imagined her ignorantly associating the idea of some idolatrous
ritual with what to him was but a phrase--the worship of Mammon. "Do you
not remember," he continued, "the words of Christ, that a man _can not_
serve God and Mammon? If I be a Christian, as you will hardly doubt, it
follows that I am not a worshiper of Mammon, for the two can not go
"But that's just the question, sir! A man who worships God, worships Him
with his whole heart and soul and strength and mind. If he wakes at
night, it is to worship God; if he is glad in his heart, it is because
God is, and one day he shall behold His face in brightness. If a man
worships God, he loves Him so that no love can come between him and God;
if the earth were removed, and the mountains cast into the midst of the
sea, it would be all one to him, for God would be all the same. Is it
not so, sir?"
"You are a good girl, Dawtie, and I approve of every word you say. It
would more than savor of presumption to profess that I loved God up to
the point you speak of; but I deserve to love Him. Doubtless a man ought
to love God so, and we are all sinners just because we do not love God
so. But we have the atonement!"
"But, sir," answered Dawtie, the silent tears running down her face, "I
love God that way! I don't care a dust for anything without Him! When I
go to bed, I don't care if I never wake again in this world; I shall be
where He would have me!"
"You presume, Dawtie! I fear me much you presume! What if that should be
"If it be, it will be the best. It will be to set me right. Oh, sir, He
is so good! Tell me one thing, sir: when you die--"
"Tut, tut, lass! we're not come to that yet! There's no occasion to
think about that yet awhile! We're in the hands of a reconciled God."
"What I want to know," pursued Dawtie, "is how you will feel, how you
will get on when you haven't got anything!"
"Not got anything, girl! Are you losing your senses? Of course we shall
want nothing then! I shall have to talk to the doctor about you! We
shall have you killing us in our beds to know how we like it!"
He laughed; but it was a rather scared laugh.
"What I mean," she persisted, "is--when you have no body, and no hands
to take hold of your cap, what will you do without it?"
"What if I leave it to you, Dawtie!" returned the laird, with a stupid
mixture of joke and avarice in his cold eye.
"Please, sir, I didn't say what you would do with it, but what would you
do without it when it will neither come out of your heart nor into your
hands! It must be misery to a miser to _have_ nothing!"
"A miser, hussy!"
"A lover of things, more than a lover of God!"
"Well, perhaps you have the better of me!" he said, after a cowed pause;
for he perceived there was no compromise possible with Dawtie: she knew
perfectly what she meant; and he could neither escape her logic, nor
change her determination, whatever that might be. "I dare say you are
right! I will think what ought to be done about that cup!"
He stopped, self amazed: he had committed himself!--as much as confessed
the cup genuine! But Dawtie had not been deceived, and had not been
thinking about the cup. Only it was plain that, if he would consent to
part with it for its money-worth, that would be a grand beginning toward
the renouncing of dead _things_ altogether, toward the turning to the
living One the love that now gathered, clinging and haunting, about gold
cups and graved armor, and suchlike vapors and vanishings, that pass
with the sunsets and the snows. She fell on her knees, and, in the
spirit of a child and of the apostle of the Gentiles, cried, laying her
little red hands together and uplifting them to her master in purest
"Oh, laird, laird, ye've been gude and kin' to me, and I lo'e ye, the
Lord kens! I pray ye for Christ's sake be reconciled to God, for ye hae
been servin' Mammon and no Him, and ye hae jist said we canna serve the
twa, and what 'ill come o' 't God only can tell, but it _maun_ be
Words failed her. She rose, and left the room, with her apron to her
The laird stood a moment or two like one lost, then went hurriedly into
his "closet," and shut the door. Whether he went on his knees to God as
did Dawtie to Him, or began again to gloat over his Cellini goblet, I do
Dawtie cried herself to sleep, and came down in the morning very pale.
Her duty had left her exhausted, and with a kind of nausea toward all
the ornaments and books in the house. A cock crew loud under the window
of the kitchen. She dropped on her knees, said "Father of lights!" not a
word beside, rose and began to rouse the fire.
When breakfast-time came, and the laird appeared, he looked much as
usual, only a little weary, which his daughter set down to his journey
the day before. He revived, however, as soon as he had succeeded in
satisfying himself that Alexa knew nothing of what had passed. How
staid, discreet, and compact of common sense Alexa seemed to him beside
Dawtie, whose want of education left her mind a waste swamp for the
vagaries of whatever will-o'-the-wisp an overstrained religious fantasy
might generate! But however much the laird might look the same as
before, he could never, knowing that Dawtie knew what she knew, be again
as he had been.
"You'll do a few of the books to-day, won't you, Dawtie," he said, "when
you have time? I never thought I should trust any one! I would sooner
have old Meg shave me than let her dust an Elzevir! Ha! ha! ha!"
Dawtie was glad that at least he left the door open between them. She
said she would do a little dusting in the afternoon, and would be very
careful. Then the laird rose and went out, and Dawtie perceived, with a
shoot of compassion mingled with mild remorse, that he had left his
breakfast almost untasted.
But after that, so far from ever beginning any sort of conversation with
her, he seemed uncomfortable the moment they happened to be alone
together. If he caught her eye, he would say--hurriedly, and as if
acknowledging a secret between them, "By and by, Dawtie;" or, "I'm
thinking about the business, Dawtie;" or, "I'm making up my mind,
Dawtie!" and so leave her. On one occasion he said, "Perhaps you will be
surprised some day, Dawtie!"
On her part Dawtie never felt that she had anything more to say to him.
She feared at times that she had done him evil rather than good by
pressing upon him a duty she had not persuaded him to perform. She spoke
of this fear to Andrew, but he answered decisively:
"If you believed you ought to speak to him, and have discovered in
yourself no wrong motive, you must not trouble yourself about the
result. That may be a thousand years off yet. You may have sent him into
a hotter purgatory, and at the same time made it shorter for him. We
know nothing but that God is righteous."
Dawtie was comforted, and things went on as before. Where people know
their work and do it, life has few blank spaces for ennui, and they are
seldom to be pitied. Where people have not yet found their work, they
may be more to be pitied than those that beg their bread. When a man
knows his work and will not do it, pity him more than one who is to be
ANDREW AND ALEXA.
Andrew had occasion to call on the laird to pay his father's rent, and
Alexa, who had not seen him for some time, thought him improved both in
carriage and speech, and wondered. She did not take into account his
intercourse with God, as with highest human minds, and his constant
wakefulness to carry into action what things he learned. Thus trained in
noblest fashions of freedom, it was small wonder that his bearing and
manners, the natural outcome and expression of his habits of being,
should grow in liberty. There was in them the change only of
development. By the side of such education as this, dealing with reality
and inborn dignity, what mattered any amount of ignorance as to social
custom! Society may judge its own; this man was not of it, and as much
surpassed its most accomplished pupils in all the essentials of
breeding, as the apostle Paul was a better gentleman than Mr. Nash or
Mr. Brummel. The training may be slow, but it is perfect. To him who has
yielded self, all things are possible. Andrew was aware of no
difference. He seemed to himself the same as when a boy.
Alexa had not again alluded to his brother's letter concerning George
Crawford, fearing he might say what she would find unpleasant. But now
she wanted to get a definite opinion from him in regard to certain modes
of money-making, which had naturally of late occupied a good deal of her
"What is your notion concerning money-lending--I mean at interest, Mr.
Ingram?" she said. "I hear it is objected to nowadays by some that set
up for teachers!"
"It is by no means the first time in the world's history," answered
"I want to know what you think of it, Mr. Ingram?"
"I know little," replied Andrew, "of any matter with which I have not
had to deal practically."
"But ought not one to have his ideas ready for the time when we will
have to deal practically?" said Alexa.
"Mine would be pretty sure to be wrong," answered Andrew; "and there is
no time to spend in gathering wrong ideas and then changing them!"
"On the contrary, they would be less warped by personal interest."
"Could circumstances arise in which it would not be my first interest to
be honest?" said Andrew. "Would not my judgment be quickened by the
compulsion and the danger? In no danger myself, might I not judge too
leniently of things from which I should myself recoil? Selfishly
smoother with regard to others, because less anxious about their honesty
than my own, might I not yield them what, were I in the case, I should
see at once I dared not allow to myself? I can perceive no use in making
up my mind how to act in circumstances in which I am not--probably will
never be. I have enough to occupy me where I find myself, and should
certainly be oftener in doubt how to act, if I had bothered my brains
how to think in circumstances foreign to me. In such thinking, duty is
of necessity a comparatively feeble factor, being only duty imagined,
not live duty, and the result is the more questionable. The Lord
instructed His apostles not to be anxious what they should say when they
were brought before rulers and kings: I will leave the question of duty
alone until action is demanded of me. In the meantime I will do the duty
now required of me, which is the only preparation for the duty that is
Although Alexa had not begun to understand Andrew, she had sense enough
and righteousness enough to feel that he was somehow ahead of her, and
that it was not likely he and George Crawford would be of one mind in
the matter that occupied her, so different were their ways of looking at
things--so different indeed the things themselves they thought worth
She was silent for a moment, then said:
"You can at least tell me what you think of gambling!"
"I think it is the meanest mode of gaining or losing money a man could
"Why do you think so?"
"Because he desires only to gain, and can gain only by his neighbor's
loss. One of the two must be the worse for his transaction with the
other. Each _must_ wish ill to his neighbor!"
"But the risk was agreed upon between them."
"True--but in what hope? Was it not, on the part of each, that he would
be the gainer and the other the loser? There is no common cause, nothing
but pure opposition of interest."
"Are there not many things in which one must gain and the other lose?"
"There are many things in which one gains and the other loses; but if it
is essential to any transaction that only one side shall gain, the thing
is not of God."
"What do you think of trading in stocks?"
"I do not know enough about it to have a right to speak."
"You can give your impression!"
"I will not give what I do not value."
"Suppose, then, you heard of a man who had made his money so, how would
you behave to him?"
"I would not seek his acquaintance."
"If he sought yours?"
"It would be time to ask how he had made his money. Then it would be my
"What would make it your business?"
"That he sought my acquaintance. It would then be necessary to know
something about him, and the readiest question would be--how he had made
Alexa was silent for some time.
"Do you think God cares about everything?" she said at length.
"Everything," answered Andrew, and she said no more.
Andrew avoided the discussion of moral questions. He regarded the thing
as _vermiculate_, and ready to corrupt the obedience. "When you have a
thing to do," he would say, "you will do it right in proportion to your
love of right. But do the right, and you will love the right; for by
doing it you will see it in a measure as it is, and no one can see the
truth as it is without loving it. The more you _talk_ about what is
right, or even about the doing of it, the more you are in danger of
exemplifying how loosely theory may be allied to practice. Talk without
action saps the very will. Something you have to do is waiting undone
all the time, and getting more and more undone. The only refuge is _to
do_." To know the thing he ought to do was a matter of import, to do the
thing he knew he ought to do was a matter of life and death to Andrew.
He never allowed even a cognate question to force itself upon him until
he had attended to the thing that demanded doing: it was merest common
Alexa had in a manner got over her uneasiness at the report of how
George was making his money, and their correspondence was not
interrupted. But something, perhaps a movement from the world of spirit
coming like the wind, had given her one of those motions to betterment,
which, however occasioned, are the throb of the divine pulse in our
life, the call of the Father, the pull of home, and the guide thither to
such as will obey them. She had in consequence again become doubtful
about Crawford, and as to whether she was right in corresponding with
him. This led to her talk with Andrew, which, while it made her think
less of his intellect, influenced her in a way she neither understood
nor even recognized. There are two ways in which one nature may
influence another for betterment--the one by strengthening the will, the
other by heightening the ideal. Andrew, without even her suspicion of
the fact, wrought in the latter way upon Alexa. She grew more uneasy.
George was coming home: how was she to receive him? Nowise bound, they
were on terms of intimacy: was she to encourage the procession of that
intimacy, or to ward attempt at nearer approach?
GEORGE AND ANDREW.
George returned, and made an early appearance at Potlurg. Dawtie met him
in the court. She did not know him, but involuntarily shrunk from him.
He frowned. There was a natural repugnance between them; the one was
simple, the other double; the one was pure, the other selfish; the one
loved her neighbor, the other preyed upon his.
George was a little louder, and his manners were more studied. Alexa
felt him overblown. He was floridly at his ease. What little
"atmosphere" there had been about him was gone, and its place taken by a
colored fog. His dress was unobjectionable, and yet attracted notice;
perhaps it was only too considered. Alexa was disappointed, and a little
relieved. He looked older, yet not more manly--and rather fat. He had
more of the confidence women dislike to see a man without, than was
quite pleasant even to the confident Alexa. His speech was not a little
infected with the nasality--as easy to catch as hard to get rid
of--which I presume the Puritans carried from England to America. On the
whole, George was less interesting than Alexa had expected.
He came to her as if he would embrace her, but an instinctive movement
on her part sufficed to check him. She threw an additional heartiness
into her welcome, and kept him at arm's-length. She felt as if she had
lost an old friend, and not gained a new one. He made himself very
agreeable, but that he made himself so, made him less so.
There was more than these changes at work in her; there was still the
underlying doubt concerning him. Although not yet a live soul, she had
strong if vague ideas about right and wrong; and although she sought
many things a good deal more than righteousness, I do not see what
temptation would at once have turned her from its known paths. At the
same time I do not see what she had yet, more than hundreds of thousands
of well-meaning women, to secure her from slow decay and final ruin.
They laughed and talked together very _like_ the way they used, but
"every like is not the same," and they knew there was a difference.
George was stung by the sense of it--too much to show that he was vexed.
He laid himself out to be the more pleasing, as if determined to make
her feel what he was worth--as the man, namely, whom he imagined
himself, and valued himself on being.
It is an argument for God, to see what fools those make of themselves
who, believing there is a God, do not believe _in_ Him--children who do
not know the Father. Such make up the mass of church and chapel goers.
Let an earthquake or the small-pox break loose among them, and they will
show what sort their religion is. George had got rid of the folly of
believing in the existence of a God, either interested in human affairs
or careless of them, and naturally found himself more comfortable in
consequence; for he never had believed _in_ God, and it is awkward to
believe and not believe at the same moment. What he had called his
_beliefs_ were as worthy of the name as those of most people, but
whether he was better or worse without them hardly interests me, and my
philanthropy will scarce serve to make me glad that he was more
As they talked, old times came up, and they drew a little nearer, until
at last a gentle spring of rose-colored interest began a feeble flow in
Alexa's mind. When George took his leave, which he did soon, with the
wisdom of one who feared to bore, she went with him to the court, where
the gardener was holding his horse. Beside them stood Andrew, talking to
the old man, and admiring the beautiful animal in his charge.
"The life of the Creator has run free through every channel up to this
creature!" he was saying as they came near.
"What rot!" said George to himself, but to Alexa he said: "Here's my old
friend, the farmer, I declare!" then to Andrew: "How do you do, Mr.
George never forgot a man's name, and went in consequence for a better
fellow than he was. One may remember for reasons that have little to do
with good-fellowship. He spoke as if they were old friends. "You seem to
like the look of the beast!" he said: "you ought to know what's what in
"He is one of the finest horses I ever saw," answered Andrew. "The man
who owns him is fortunate."
"He ought to be a good one!" said George. "I gave a hundred and fifty
guineas for him yesterday."
Andrew could not help vaguely reflecting what kind of money had bought
him, if Sandy was right.
Alexa was pleased to see Andrew. He made her feel more comfortable. His
presence seemed to protect her a little.
"May I ask you, Mr. Ingram," she said, "to repeat what you were saying
about the horse as we came up?"
"I was saying," answered Andrew, "that, to any one who understands a
horse it is clear that the power of God must have flowed unobstructed
through many generations to fashion such a perfection."
"Oh! you indorse the development theory--do you?" said George. "I should
hardly have expected that of you."
"I do not think it has anything to do with what I said; no one disputes
that this horse comes of many generations of horses. The development
theory, if I understand aright, concerns itself with how his first
ancestor in his own kind came to be a horse."
"And about that there can be no doubt in the mind of any one who
believes in the Bible!" said George.
"God makes beautiful horses," returned Andrew; "whether He takes the one
way or the other to make them, I am sure He takes the right way."
"You imply it is of little consequence what you believe about it."
"If I had to make them it would be of consequence. But what I think of
consequence to us is--that He makes them, not out of nothing, but out of
Himself. Why should my poor notion of God's _how_ be of importance, so
long as, when I see a horse like yours, Mr. Crawford, I say, God be
praised? It is of eternal importance to love the animal, and see in him
the beauty of the Lord; it is of none to fancy I know which way God took
to make him. Not having in me the power or the stuff to make a horse, I
can not know how God made the horse; I can know him to be beautiful"
"But," said George, "the first horse was a very common-looking domestic
animal, which they kept to eat--nothing like this one."
"Then you think God made the first horse, and after that the horses made
themselves," said Andrew.
Alexa laughed; George said nothing; Andrew went on.
"But," he said, "if we have come up from the lower animals, through a
million of kinds, perhaps--against which theory I have nothing to
urge--then I am more than prepared to believe that the man who does not
do the part of a man will have to go down again, through all the stages
of his being, to a position beyond the lowest forms of the powers he has
misused, and there begin to rise once more, haunted perhaps with dim
hints of the world of humanity left so far above him."
"Bah! What's the use of bothering! Rubbish!" cried George, with rude
jollity. "You know as well as I do, Mr. Ingram, it's all bosh! Things
will go on as they're doing, and as they have been doing, till now from
all eternity--so far as we know, and that's enough for us." "They will
not go on so for long in our sight, Mr. Crawford. The worms will have a
word to say with us."
Alexa turned away.
"You've not given up preaching and taken to the practical yet, Mr.
Ingram, I see," said George.
"I flatter myself I have not ceased to be practical, Mr. Crawford. You
are busy with what you see, and I am busy as well with what I don't see;
but all the time I believe my farm is in as good a state as your books."
George gave a start, and stole a look at the young farmer, but was
satisfied he "meant nothing." The self-seeker will walk into the very
abyss protesting himself a practical man, and counting him unpractical
who will not with him "jump the life to come." Himself, he neither
measures the width nor questions his muscle.
WHAT IS IT WORTH?
Andrew, with all his hard work, harder since Sandy went, continued able
to write, for he neither sought company nor drank strong drink, and was
the sport of no passion. From threatened inroad he appealed to Him who
created to lift His child above the torrent, and make impulse the slave
of conscience and manhood. There were no demons riding the whirlwinds of
his soul. It is not wonderful then that he should be able to write a
book, or that the book should be of genuine and original worth. It had
the fortune to be "favorably" reviewed, scarce one of those who reviewed
it understanding it, while all of them seemed to themselves to
understand it perfectly. I mention the thing because, had the book not
been thus reviewed, Alexa would not have bought a copy, or been able to
The review she read was in a paper whose editor would not have admitted
it had he suspected the drift which the reviewer had failed to see; and
the passages quoted appealed to Alexa in virtue, partly, of her not
seeing half they involved, or anything whatever of the said drift. But
because he had got a book published, and because she approved of certain
lines, phrases and passages in it; but chiefly because it had been
praised by more than one influential paper, Andrew rose immensely in
Alexa's opinion. Although he was the son of a tenant, was even a laborer
on his farm, and had covered a birth no higher than that of Jesus Christ
with the gown of no university, she began, against her own sense of what
was fit, to look up to the plow-man. The plow-man was not aware of this,
and would have been careless had he been. He respected his landlord's
daughter, not ever questioned her superiority as a lady where he made no
claim to being a gentleman, but he recognized in her no power either to
help or to hurt.
When they next met, Alexa was no longer indifferent to his presence, and
even made a movement in the direction of being agreeable to him. She
dropped in a measure, without knowing she had ever used it, her
patronizing carriage, but had the assurance to compliment him not merely
on the poem he had written, but on the way it had been received; she
could not have credited, had he told her, that he was as indifferent to
the praise or blame of what is called the public, as if that public were
indeed--what it is most like--a boy just learning to read. Yet it is the
consent of such a public that makes the very essence of what is called
fame. How should a man care for it who knows that he is on his way to
join his peers, to be a child with the great ones of the earth, the
lovers of the truth, the Doers of the Will. What to him will be the wind
of the world he has left behind, a wind that can not arouse the dead,
that can only blow about the grave-clothes of the dead as they bury
"Live, Dawtie," said Andrew to the girl, "and ane day ye'll hae yer
hert's desire; for 'Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after
Andrew was neither annoyed nor gratified with the compliments Alexa paid
him, for she did not know the informing power of the book--what he cared
for in it--the thing that made him write it. But her gentleness and
kindness did please him; he was glad to feel a little at home with her,
glad to draw a little nearer to one who had never been other than good
to him. And then was she not more than kind, even loving to Dawtie?
"So, Andrew, you are a poet at last," she said, holding out her hand to
him, which Andrew received in a palm that wrote the better verse that it
was horny. "Please to remember I was the first that found you out!" she
"I think it was my mother," answered Andrew.
"And I would have helped you if you would have let me."