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   Chapter 5 A PARTING.

A Daughter of Fife By Amelia Edith Barr Characters: 19195

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


"Each on his own strict line we move

And some find death ere they find love,

So far apart their lives are thrown

From the twin soul that halves their own."

"Oh, nearest, farthest! Can there be

At length some hard-earned heart-won home,

Where-exile changed for Sanctuary-

Our lot may fill indeed its sum,

And you may wait and I may come?"

About twelve o'clock the wind rose, there was a rattling breeze and a tossing sea all night; and David did not return until the early morning tide. Allan was roused from sleep by young Johnson singing,

"We cast our line in Largo Bay."

and soon after he heard David greet Maggie in an unusually cheerful manner. He was impatient to tell him the good news, and he dressed hurriedly, and went into the house place. Maggie was scattering the meal into the boiling water for breakfast; and David, weary with his night work, sat drowsing in his father's big chair. Maggie had already been out in the fresh, wet breeze, and she had a pink kerchief tied over her hair; but she blushed a deeper pink, as she shyly said, "Gude morning, sir."

Then David roused himself-"Hech, sir!" he cried, "I wish you had been wi' us last night. It was just a joy to feel the clouds laying their cheeks to the floods, and the sea laying its shouther to the shore; I sat a' night wi' the helm-heft in my hand, singing o'er and o'er again King David's grand sea sang-

"The floods, O Lord, hae lifted up

They lifted up their voice;

The floods have lifted up their waves

And made a mighty noise.

But yet the Lord, that is on high,

Is more of might by far

Than noise of many waters is,

Or great sea-billows are."

[Footnote: Psalm 93. Version allowed by General Assembly of the Kirk of

Scotland.]

"And I couldna help thinking," he continued, "that the Angels o' Power, doing His will, wad be likely aye to tak' the sea road. It's freer o' men-folk, and its mair fu' o' the glory o' God."

"I am glad you had such a grand night, David. It is well to take a fine farewell of anything, and it was your last fishing. Dr. Balmuto sends you this word about Glasgow University-'go, and the Lord go with thee.' He has given me a letter to a professor there, who will choose the books you want, and set you the lessons you are to learn between now and the opening of the classes in September. The books are to be the doctor's gift to you. He would hear tell of nothing else."

David was as one that dreams for a moment; but his excitement soon conquered his happy amazement. He had to put his breakfast aside.

"I dinna want to eat," he said, "my soul is satisfied. I feel as if I ne'er could be hungry any mair." He was particularly delighted at the minister's kindness, and said fervently, "I thank him for the books, far mair for the blessing." He took all the favors to be done him without dispute or apology, just as a candid, unselfish child, takes what love gives it. He was so anxious to get to work, that he would liked to have left at once for Glasgow; but Allan was not ready to leave. Indeed he was "swithering" whether, or not, he should take this opportunity of bidding farewell to Pittenloch.

After breakfast they went to the boat together. The decks were covered With a mass of glinting, shimmering fish, that looked like molten silver in the sunshine. "David," said Allan, "make the boys clean her thoroughly, and in smooth water you can now use her as a study. Maggie dislikes men about the house all day; you can bring your books and papers to the boat and drift about in smooth water. On the sea there will be no crying children and scolding mothers to disturb you."

The idea delighted David; he began at once to carry it out; but Allan took no further interest in the matter, and went strolling up the beach until he came to the spot where the quarrel of the preceding evening had taken place. Here he stood leaning against the rock unconscious of outside influences for neatly two hours. He asked himself "did he love Maggie Promoter?" "Did she love him?" "Was there any hope in the future for their marriage?"

Then he acknowledged to his soul that the woman was inexpressibly dear to him. As for Maggie's love of himself, he hoped, and yet he feared it; feared it, because he loved her so well that he did not like to think of the suffering she must bear with him. He felt that no prospect of their marriage could be entertained. He loved his father, and not only respected, but also in some measure shared his family pride. He felt that it would be a sin to desert him, and for his own private pleasure crumble the unselfish life-work of so many years to pieces. Then also, beautiful as Maggie was in her cot at Pittenloch, she would be sadly out of place in the splendid rooms at Meriton. Sweet, intoxicatingly sweet, the cup which he had been drinking, but he felt that he must put it away from his own, and also from Maggie's lips. It would be fatal to the welfare of both.

Thinking such thoughts, he finally went back to the cottage. It was about ten o'clock; Maggie's house work was all "redd up;" and she was standing at her wheel spinning, when Allan's shadow fell across the sanded floor, and she turned to see him standing watching her.

"You are hame soon, sir. Is a' well wi' you?"

"No, Maggie, all is not well. If all had been well, I had never been in Pittenloch." She stopped her wheel and stood looking at him. Then he plunged at once into the story, which he had determined to tell her. "I had a quarrel with my father and I left home. He does not know where I am."

"You hae done very wrang I'm fearing, sir. He'll hae been a gude fayther to you?"

"Yes, very good. He has given me love, education, travel, leisure, wealth, my own way, in all things but one."

"Then, you be to call yoursel' a bad son. I didna think it o' you, sir."

"But, Maggie, that one thing includes all my future life. If I obey him, I must always be miserable."

"It will be aboot some leddy?" asked Maggie, and she spoke in a low restrained voice.

"Yes, about my cousin. She is very rich, and if I marry her, Maggie, I shall unite the two branches of our family, and take it back to its ancient home."

"Your fayther has the right to ask that much o' you. He's been lang gude to you."

"I did not ask him to be good. I did not ask for my life, but life having been given me, I think I have the right to do as I desire with it."

"There is nane o' us, sir, hae the right to live for, or to, oursel's. A tree doesna ask to be planted, but when it is planted, it bears fruit, and gies shadow, cheerfully. It tholes storms, and is glad in the sunshine, and if it didna bear fruit, when it was weel cared for, it wad deserve to be cut doon and burnt. My bonnie rose bush didna ask me to plant it, yet it is bending wi' flowers for my pleasure. Your fayther will hae the right to say what you shall do to pay back his love and care."

"But when I do not love the lady I am desired to marry?"

"Tuts!" She flung her head back a little scornfully with the word.

"There's few folks ken what love is."

"Do you, Maggie?"

"What for wad I ken? Is the leddy bonnie?"

"Very sweet and gentle and kind."

"Does she like you?"

"We have been long together. She likes me, as you like David."

"Will she want to be your wife? That's what I mean, sir."

"I think not. A man cannot know such a thing as that, until he asks."

She looked sharply at him, and blushed crimson. "Then you hae never asked her?"

"I have never asked her. My father wants me to do so, and I refused."

"You are feared she'll tak' you?"

"Just so, Maggie. Now what would you advise me to do?"

"You wouldna do the thing I told you. Whatna for then, should I say a word?"

"I think I should do what you told me. I have a great respect for your good sense, Maggie. I have never told my trouble to anyone but you."

"To naebody?"

"Not to any one."

"Wait a wee then, while I think it o'er. I must be sure to gie you true counsel, when you come to me sae trustful."

She set the wheel going and turned her face to it for about five minutes. Then she stilled it, and Allan saw that the hand she laid upon it trembled violently.

"You should gae hame, sir; and you should be as plain and trustful wi' your cousin, as you hae been wi' me. Tell the leddy just hoo you love her, and ask her to tak' you, even though you arena deserving o' her. Your fayther canna blame you if she willna be your wife. And sae, whether she says 'na,' or 'yes,' there will be peace between you twa."

"That is cutting a knot with a vengeance, Maggie."

"Life isna lang enough to untie some knots."

Then with her head still resolutely turned from Allan, she put by the wheel, and went into her room, and locked its door. Her face was as gray as ashes. She sat with clenched hands, and tight-drawn lips, and swayed her body backwards and forwards like one in an extremity of physical anguish.

"Oh Allan! Allan! You hae killed me!" she whispered; "you hae broken my heart in twa."

As she did not return to him, Allan went to his room also, and fell asleep; a sleep of exhaustion, not indifference. Maggie's plan had struck him at first as one entirely impracticable with a refined, conventional girl like Mary Campbell; but when a long dreamless rest had cleared and refreshed his mind, he began to think that the plan, primitive as it was, might be a good one. In love, as well as geometry, the straight line might be the easiest and best.

But he had no further opportunity to discuss i

t with her. David's trip to Glasgow was a very important affair to him, and he stayed at home in the afternoon to prepare for it. Then Maggie had her first hard lesson in self-restraint. All her other sorrows had touched lives beside her own; tears and lamentations had not only been natural, they had been expected of her. But now she was brought face to face with a grief she must hide from every eye. If a child is punished, and yet forbidden to weep, what a tumult of reproach and anguish and resentment is in the small pathetic face! Maggie's face was the reflex of a soul in just such a position. She blamed Allan, and she excused him in the same moment. The cry in her heart was "why didna he tell me? Why didna he tell me before it was o'er late? He kent weel a woman be to love him! He should hae spoken afore this! But it's my ain fault! My ain fault! I ought to think shame o' mysel' for giving what was ne'er sought."

David noticed the pale anguish of her cheeks and mouth, and the look of terror in her eyes, but he thought her trouble was entirely on his own account. "Dinna fret aboot me, Maggie," he said kindly, "I am going where I hae been sent, and there's nae ill thing will come to me. And we sall Hae the summer thegither, and plenty o' time to sort the future comfortable for you. Why, lassie, you sall come wi' me to Glasca', rayther than I'll hae you looking sae broken-hearted."

It was not a pleasant evening. Allan was packing his best pictures and Some clothing. David was also busy. The house was upside down, and there was no peace anywhere. Maggie's one hope was, that she would be able to bear up until they were gone. Fortunately the tide served very early, and almost at daylight she called the travelers for their breakfast. They were both silent, and perhaps no one was sorry when those few terrible minutes of approaching farewells were over. At the last, with all her efforts, Maggie could not keep back her tears, and David's black, shiny eyes were dim and misty also.

"Few men hae sae kind-hearted a sister as I hae," he said gratefully. Scotch families are not demonstrative in their affections; very seldom in all her life had Maggie kissed her brother, but when he stood with his bonnet in his hand, and the "good-bye" on his lips, she lifted her face and kissed him tenderly. Allan tried to make the parting a matter of little consequence. "We shall be back in a few days, Maggie;" he said cheerily. "David is only going for a pleasuring"-and he held out his hand and looked her brightly in the face. So they went into the boat, and she watched them out of harbor; and Allan long remembered how grandly beautiful she was, standing at the very edge of the land, with the sunshine falling all over her, the wind blowing backward her hair and her plaid, and her white bare arm raised above her head in a last adieu. He saw her turn slowly away, and he knew how her heart ached by the sharpness of the pain in his own.

She went back to the desolate untidy house and fastened the door, and drew the curtains, and sat down full of misery, that took all light and hope out of her life. She did not lose herself in analysis; the tide of sorrow went on rising, rising, until it submerged her. Accustomed to draw all her reflections from the Bible, she moaned out "Lover and friend thou hast put far from me." Ah! there is no funeral so sad to follow as the funeral of our first love, and all its wonderful hopes.

In a little while there was a knock at the door, and she had to dry her eyes and open to the neighbors, who had many curiosities to satisfy. David and "Maister Campbell" were gone, and they did not fear Maggie. She had to enter common life again, to listen to wonderings, and congratulations, and wearisome jokes. To smile, to answer questions, and yet, to hear amid all the tumult of words and laughter, always one voice, the sound of which penetrated all other sounds; to be conscious of only one thought, which she had to guard jealously, with constant care, lest she should let it slip amid the clash of thoughts around her.

Oh, how she hated the sunshine and the noisy babble of it! How feverishly she longed for the night, for the shadows in which she could weep, for the darkness in which she could be herself, for the isolation in which she could escape from slavery! It was an entirely new, strange feeling to her. In that simple community; joys and sorrows were not for secrecy. A wedding or a funeral was the affair of every one. Women were expected to weep publicly, and if they wore sackcloth and ashes, to wear it in the sight of every one. Love affairs were discussed without ceremony, and often arranged in full family conclaves. All married strictly within their own rank; not once in a generation did a fisher-girl marry "out of the boats."

Maggie would have been really afraid to speak of her love for a gentleman like Allan Campbell. She knew well what a storm of advices, perhaps even of scorn and reproaches, her confidence would be met with. Yet she would talk freely enough about Angus Raith, and when Christie Buchan told her Raith's version of their quarrel, she did not hesitate to fly into a passion of indignation, and stigmatize him freely as "a liar and a cowardly ne'er-do-weel."

"You'll mak' it up," said Christie, "and marry him when the year is oot.

Deed you'll be kind o' forced to, for he'll let nae other lad come

Speiring after you."

"I'll ne'er mak' it up wi' him; no, not for a' the gold in Fife; and you may tell him if he ever speaks o' me again, I'll strike the lies aff his black mouth wi' my ain hand." She found a safe vent for her emotions in the subject, and she continued it until her visitors went. But it was an unwise thing. Raith had kin and friends in Pittenloch; all that she had said in her excited mental condition was in time repeated to them, and she was eventually made to feel that there was a "set" who regarded her with active ill will.

In the meantime, Allan and David had a pleasant sail to Leith; and during it Allan made David's position perfectly clear to him. "Dr. Balmuto has taken for himself the pleasure of buying your first books, David," he said; "you must let me select your first scholastic wardrobe; or rather we will go together to my tailor, for he will know exactly what is necessary for you. The square cap of your college, and its scarlet gown, we shall procure best in Glasgow."

"I'll do whate'er you say, sir." "You see, David, the respectability of the theological class must be kept up, and it will be better that Professor Laird sees you first dressed as a student, rather than as a fisher. Then, as one never knows what may happen, I shall deposit to your credit in the Western Bank of Glasgow, the sum of £400. It will be for your fees, and board, and books, and dress. You will have to be very careful, David. I wanted to make it £500, but Dr. Balmuto said you would like better the idea of economy. Not one word, David. I know all you feel. I am happier than you are; and if the obligation ever becomes a painful one to you, why pay me back when you get a kirk and a good stipend."

"I hear you, sir, and I'm gratefu' as man can be."

"Very likely Professor Laird may wish you to stay a week with him. He will want to find out what you know, and what studies you can be pursuing this summer. If he does so, I shall take that opportunity to visit my friends. Then we can return to Pittenloch until the classes open. I look forward to some calm, happy weeks, David; and perhaps I shall be able to help you with your Latin and Greek. I wasn't a bad scholar two years ago."

"Is your hame far awa', sir?"

"I dare say, David, you think it strange I do not ask you to go with me there."

"It wad ill set me to hae such thochts, sir. I hope you dinna put them to me."

"The truth is, David, I have had a little trouble with my family. If you won't mind my secrecy, I should prefer not to speak of it."

"I hae naething to do wi' your private affairs, sir. I wad think it the height o' dishonor to mak' any inquiry concerning them."

Then the subject was readily turned, for David's mind and imagination was full of the lovely and grand city in which he found himself. He had never been beyond the small fishing towns of Fife, and the ancient castle and palace, the fine terraces of handsome houses, the marching to and fro of soldiers, the streets and kirks made sacred by the sufferings of the Covenanters and the voice of Knox, filled his soul with unspeakable emotions. Glasgow, at first, almost terrified him. "It's the City o' Human Power," he wrote to Maggie. "It is fu' o' hurrying crowds, and harsh alarms, and contentious noises. And the horses and the carriages! They are maist fearsome! Also the drivers o' them are a fierce and insolent race o' men; and I tak' credit to mysel', that I hae not been quite dumfounded wi' the noise o' it."

Allan had a private interview with Professor Laird before he introduced David to him; and doubtless satisfactory arrangements were made, for David received a cordial welcome to his house. He had taken naturally to his black clothes; never for a moment had he felt or appeared out of place in them; and the professor, after a keen look at his new student, said in an aside to Allan-

"A born ecclesiastic, a natural theologian; where did you find him, Mr.

Campbell?"

"Where Christ found some apostles, in the fishing boats. He will do, I think."

"Do! He is one of those men who will walk up to fame as they would to a friend in their own home."

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