MoboReader> Literature > A Daughter of Fife

   Chapter 11 DRUMLOCH.

A Daughter of Fife By Amelia Edith Barr Characters: 22302

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


"Brown shell first for the butterfly

And a bright wing by and by.

Butterfly good-bye to your shell,

And, bright wings, speed you well"

In leaving the train Maggie had not yielded to a passing impulse. It was a deliberate act. David's indifference to her happiness, his subordination of all her likes and dislikes, her time, and work, and hopes, to his own ambition shocked and pained her. She had spent the night in thought and had reached a decided conclusion. As they walked about the cathedral and college, and up and down the High Street, while she looked with shuddering horror on the squalid, hopeless poverty of the inhabitants of those localities, she asked her brother where the rich people lived.

"At the West End," answered David. "On Sauchiehall Road, and the crescents further on, away maistly up to Kelvin Grove." And later on, as they were passing down Buchanan Street, he pointed out the stages which ran constantly to these aristocratic quarters of the city, and asked, "if she wished to see them?"

"Ay, I wad like too, but there's little time noo, it will do again."

Yet she took good note of everything, and David Promoter, as he sat that night at his own fireside with his tea and books, little dreamed that his sister Maggie had found herself a home within an hour's ride from the Candleriggs. It was not much of a home, but it satisfied the weary, heart-sore girl. A little back room on a fourth story, with a window looking into a small court; but it was clean and quiet, and the bit of fire burned cheerily, and the widow woman from whom she had rented it made her a refreshing cup of tea, and brought with it the good wheat loaf and the "powdered" butter for which Glasgow is famous; as well as a slice or two of broiled Ayrshire bacon. The food was cheap, and the ordinary food of the people, but it seemed a great treat to the fisher-girl, who had been used to consider wheat flour, fine butter, and bacon, very like luxuries.

And the peace! Oh how good, how good that was! No captious old woman flyting and complaining at every mouthful. No laughing noisy gossips. No irritating interferences. No constant demand on her attention or sympathy. She sat and drank and thanked God with every mouthful; and with grateful tears promised Him to live a good life, and do her honest, kindly duty every hour.

At last too, she could think of Allan without fear of any evil suspicious eye upon her. She had been in such excitement and anxiety for some days, that she had let him slip from her mind; for it was one of this loving woman's superstitions, never to mix his memory with angry or sorrowful thoughts. But in the peace and stillness that followed her meal, she called him back to her. With closed eyes and folded hands she remembered the words he had said to her, remembered the strength and sincerity of his promise, the glow and tenderness of his handsome face, the truth in the firm clasp of his hands, the glance of commingled love and grief which had been his farewell. "I'll never wrong him by a doubt. Never, never, never," she whispered. "If God has willed him to me, there's nane can keep him frae me. Oceans canna part us, nor gold, nor friends, nor time, nor death itself. Allan! Allan! Allan!"

At that moment Allan was in a pretty pleasure yacht idly drifting on the gulf of Mexico. Mardi Gras had taken him to New Orleans, and there he had hired the boat, and was leisurely sailing from one gulf town to another. The skipper was his only companion, but he was fore, and Allan lay under an awning, full of the afternoon's lazy content. The scent of orange blossoms was blown from the shore, the blue waters dimpled in the sunshine, and the flop of their ripple in the clincher-landings was an old and pleasant music to him. Suddenly he sat erect and listened: "Maggie called me. Three times over she called me." The impression upon his spiritual ear was so strong that ere he was aware he had answered the call.

He could dream no longer. His nobler part was on the alert. He was not, however, unhappy. The impression made upon him had been one of love and longing, rather than of distress. His eyes brightened, his face flushed, he walked rapidly about, like a man under a keener sense of life. Lovers see miracles, and believe in them. Allan thought it nothing extraordinary that Maggie's soul should speak to his soul. And why should we doubt the greeting? Do we any of us know what subtle lines are between spirit and spirit? A few years since, who dreamed of sending a message through the air? Is it not more incredible that flesh and blood in New York should speak with flesh and blood in Washington, than that spirits, rare, rapid and vivid as thought, should communicate with each other, even though the circumference of the world be between them? Allan did not try to analyze the circumstance; he had a conviction, positive and delicious, and he never thought of reasoning it away.

With a sense of infinite comfort and content, Maggie read her evening portion, and went to rest. She had determined to enjoy that evening's calm, without letting any thought of the future trouble her; and she awoke in the morning strong and cheerful, and quite ready to face the question of her support. She spoke first to her landlady. "Mistress Malcolm," she said, "I'm a dressmaker, and I want wark. Will you gie me your advice, for I'm not used to city ways?"

"You hae come to the city in a good time though. In the spring there is aye work in plenty. Tak' the 'Herald' and read the advertisements. I hae a paper ben the kitchen, I'll get it for you. See here now! Nae less than nine dressmakers wanting help! The first call comes frae Bute Crescent; that isna ten minutes walk awa'. Go and see the lady."

Half an hour afterward, Maggie was ringing at the door of Mrs. Lauder's house. It was a very handsome one, handsomely furnished, and the show-rooms were gay with the newest fashions. Maggie's beauty and fine figure was an instant commendation. "Can you sew well, and cut, and fit?" asked Mrs. Lauder.

"'Deed, ma'am, I think I can. I was wi' Miss Jean Anderson o' Largo for twa years. She'll say the gude word for me, every way."

"I shall want you to be part of the day in the salesroom; but I will provide you a suitable dress for that purpose; and I will give you ten shillings a week, at first. Will that do?"

"It will do weel, ma'am."

"What is your name?"

"Maggie Promoter."

"Come to-morrow, Miss Promoter."

"Folks aye call me Maggie."

"Very well. Come to-morrow, Maggie."

The dress provided by Mrs. Lauder was a long, plain, black merino, tightly fitting, with small turned back linen cuffs and collar; and Maggie looked exceedingly handsome and stately in it. Her work was not hard, but the hours were long, and there was no outlook. She could not lift her head and catch from the sea the feeling of limitless space and freedom. Still she was happy. It was better to live among strangers who always gave her the civil word, than to be with kin who used the freedom of their relationship only to wound and annoy her. And her little room was always a sanctuary in which she found strength and peace. Also, the Sabbath was all her own; and her place in the kirk to which she regularly went was generally filled an hour before service bells. That kirk was a good place to Maggie. She was one of those delightsome women, who in this faithless age, have a fervent and beautiful faith in God. Into His temple she took no earthly thought, but kept her heart, there,

"one silent space,

A little sacred spot of loneliness.

Where to set up the memory of His cross,

A little quiet garden, sacred still

To visions of His sorrow, and His love"

So the weeks went calmly, and not unpleasantly away. Now and then she had a restless heartache about David; and three times she walked all the way to the Barony kirk, where she knew he worshiped, to get a sight of her brother. She did not fear to do so. David Promoter, on Sabbath days, looked neither to the right hand nor to the left. In the kirk his pale grave face was bent toward his Bible, or lifted to the preacher. Maggie could have sat within the touch of his hand and he would not have seen her. But she got no comfort from these visits to David's kirk, and she missed all the comfort of her own kirk. So she finally said to herself-"I'll tak' my ain road, and I'll ne'er look his road, and when it will be the right time, the twa roads will meet again."

As the summer advanced there was less work to do, and she frequently was at home in sufficient time to stroll along Kelvin side, or visit the Botanic Gardens. Inland scenery, trees, and, above all things, flowers, greatly delighted her. It gave her a thrill of exquisite pleasure to tread among long, green grass, and feel the wavering sunshine and shadows of the woods about her; and in the midsummer month, when she was to have a short holiday, she promised herself many days of such pure and natural enjoyment.

But often fortune has better plans for us than we make for ourselves. One day, near the end of June, Maggie was standing at an upper window, gazing wistfully at the little park, full of pretty shrubs, which belonged specially to Bute Crescent. A handsome carriage rapidly took the turn, came dashing up the broad gravelled sweep, and stopped at Mrs. Lauder's house. In a few minutes there was a call for Maggie, and she went down stairs. The customer was before a long mirror with a mantle of black silk and lace in her hands. She was a young lady, slight and small, and as Maggie entered she turned toward her.

It was Mary Campbell, and Mary knew in a moment who the tall beautiful woman in the black dress was. She was very much astonished, but she did not in any way betray her surprise. On the contrary, she gathered her faculties quickly together and looked at Maggie critically, and at first without kindness.

Mary was at this time living at Drumloch, but a variety of business had brought her to Glasgow for a week or two. Her first impulse was to go to her uncle and tell him of her discovery. Her second was to keep it, at least for a little while, to herself. It was almost certain that there had been some great change in the girl's circumstances, or else she had come to Glasgow in search of her lover. Mary could not tell how much or how little Maggie knew of Allan's movements and intentions; she thought it likely the girl had grown impatient and left her home. If so, perhaps it was her duty to interfere in a life brought so directly to her notice. She almost wished she had not seen her; gratified curiosity is very well, but if it bring with it a sense of obligation, it may not be worth the price to be paid.

Such were the drift of Mary's thoughts; and yet for Allan's sake she felt that Maggie ought to be cared for. If she did not choose to assume the charge, she ought to tell her uncle. Mary's conscience had taken up the question, and Mary's conscience was a tyrannical one. It gave her no rest about Maggie. "Maggie!" She repeated the name with a smile. "I knew she would h

ave to come down to 'Maggie' or 'Jennie'. I said so. Oh, Theodora, what a fall! But she is handsome, there is no doubt of that. And she walks as a mortal ought to walk, 'made a little lower than the angels'. And she really has a ravishing smile, and perfect teeth also. I own I was afraid about the teeth, nature generally forgets that detail. And her hands, if large, are shapely; and her hair is a glory, as it ought to be in a woman -and I wonder who taught her to dress it, and if she herself chose the long, plain, black garment. Maggie is more of a puzzle than ever. I think I will find her out without Uncle John's help."

The next day, and every day afterward for a week, she went to Mrs. Lauder's on some pretext or other. She always saw Maggie. She made little plans to see her, and she went away from every interview feeling a greater bondage to her. "I suppose I shall have to take her back to Drumloch with me!" As her visit to Glasgow drew to its close she came to this conclusion. She felt that for Allan's sake Maggie had a claim on their care; either John Campbell or herself ought to find out if she needed help or friends, and after consideration Mary thought she had better assume the charge. John Campbell would go straight to her, tell her who he was, and invite her to Blytheswood Square, and, in fact, take the girl wholly on trust. Mary also meant to be kind to her, but how hard it is for a woman to do a kindness as God does it, without saying, "Whose son art thou?"

Just before her return to Drumloch, she said to Mrs. Lauder, "I want some one to sew in my house. Do you think Maggie would give me a couple of months. You cannot need her until September."

"I think she will be very willing. I will send her to you."

"Mistress Lauder says you wad like me to go wi' you, Miss Campbell. I'll be glad to do it. I am just wearying for the country, and I'll do my best to pleasure you."

"Oh, thank you. It is to sew table damask. I will give you. £5 a month."

"That is gude pay. I'll be gratefu' for it."

"Be ready by nine o'clock to-morrow morning. I will call here for you."

Drumloch was a very ancient place. The older portion was battlemented, and had been frequently held against powerful enemies; but this part of the building was merely the nucleus of many more modern additions. It stood in one of the loveliest locations in Ayrshire, and was in every respect a home of great splendor and beauty. Maggie had never dreamt of such a place. The lofty halls and rooms, the wide stairways, the picturesque air of antiquity, the fine park and gardens, the wealth of fruits and flowers quite bewildered her. Mary took her first real liking to the girl as she wandered with her through the pleasant places of Drumloch. Maggie said so frankly what she liked and what she did not like; and yet she had much graceful ingenuousness, and extremely delicate perceptions. Often she showed the blank amazement of a bird that has just left the nest, again she would utter some keen, deep saying, that made Mary turn to her with curious wonder. Individualities developed by the Bible have these strange contradictions, because to great guilelessness they unite an intimate knowledge of their own hearts.

Mary had been much troubled as to where, and how, she was to place this girl. As David had boasted, she belonged to a race "who serve not." "She may come to be mistress of Drumloch. It is not improbable. I will not make a menial of her. That would be a shame and a wrong to Allan." She had formed this decision as they rode together in the train, and acting upon it, she said, "Maggie, what is your name-all your name?"

"My name is Margaret Promoter. I hae been aye called Maggie."

"I will call you Maggie, then; but my servants will call you Miss

Promoter. You understand?"

"If it is your will, Miss Campbell."

"It is my wish, Maggie. You are to be with me entirely; and they must respect my companion. Can you read aloud, Maggie?"

"I wad do my best."

"Because I want you to read a great deal to me. There is so much fine sewing to do, I thought as we worked together one of us could have a needle, the other a book."

Following out this idea, she gave Maggie a pretty room near her own. Into one adjoining immense quantities of the finest linen and damask were brought. "I am just going to housekeeping, Maggie," said Mary, "and Drumloch is to have the handsomest napery in Ayrshire. Did you ever see lovelier damask? It is worthy of the most dainty stitches, and it shall have them." Still Maggie's domestic status hung in the balance. For a week her meals were served in her own room, on the plea of fatigue. Mary did not feel as if she could put her with the housekeeper and upper servants; she could not quite make up her mind to bring her to her own table. A conversation with Maggie one morning decided the matter. She found her standing at the open window looking over the lovely strath, and the "bonnie Doon," with eyes full of happy tears.

"It is a sweet spot, Maggie."

"It is the sweetest spot on earth, I think."

"If we only had a view of the sea. We might have, by felling timber."

Maggie shook her head. "I dinna like the sea. 'There is sorrow on the sea, it canna be quiet.' [Footnote: Jeremiah 49, v. 23.] I ken't a fisher's wife wha aye said, the sweetest promise in a' the Book, was that in the Revelations, 'there shall be nae sea there.'"

"Did you ever live near the sea?"

"Ay; I was born on the coast of Fife."

"Have you any kin living?"

"I hae a brother-he minds me little."

"Promoter, I never heard the name before."

"It is a Fife name. The Promoters dinna wander far. If my fayther hadna been drowned, I should hae stayed wi' my ain folk."

"But you are glad to have seen more of the world. You would not like to go back to Fife, now?"

"If my eye hadna seen, my heart wouldna hae wanted. I was happy."

"Promoter is an uncommon name. I never knew a Promoter before; but the

Campbells are a big clan. I dare say you have known a great many

Campbells?"

"The man whom fayther sold his fish to was a Campbell. And the woman I lodged wi' in Glasgow had a daughter married to a Campbell. And Mistress Lauder often sent me to Campbell's big store for silk and trimmings. And whiles, there was a minister preached in oor kirk, called Campbell-and there is yoursel', miss, the best o' them all to Maggie Promoter."

"Thank you, Maggie." Not in the faintest way had Maggie betrayed her knowledge of Allan, and Mary respected her for the reticence very much. "Now for our work. I will sew, and you shall read aloud. I want you to learn how to talk as I do, and reading aloud is an excellent exercise."

"I'll ne'er speak such high English as you, and I like my braid Scotch weel."

"But your voice is so delightful when you say the words as you ought to.

You can read 'high English,' why not talk it?"

"My ain tongue is mair homelike and kindly. But I'll try yours, an' you want me to."

After Mary had listened an hour, she suddenly interrupted Maggie. "You read that love scene with wonderful feeling. Had you ever a lover, Maggie?"

"Maist girls have lovers. I couldna expect to escape. You will dootless hae lovers yoursel', ma'am?"

"I had one lover, Maggie, not much of a lover, he wanted to marry

Drumloch, not me."

"That was a' wrang. Folks shouldna marry for gold. Sorrow comes that way."

"You would not, I am sure'"

"No, not for a' the gold in Scotland."

"Is your lover poor then, Maggie?"

"I ne'er asked him if he had this or that. He is a gude kind lad."

"Did he ever give you any beautiful things-precious rings or lockets-as the lovers in books do? The Sir Everard of whom you have just been reading gave Lady Hilda a ring of diamonds and opals, you remember?"

"The Fife lads break a sixpence in twa wi' their troth lass; and I hae my half sixpence. There can be no ring but a wedding ring for a lassie like me."

Then Mary laid down her work, and as she passed Maggie she touched her gently, and smiled in her face. She was rapidly coming to a decision; a few minutes in her own room enabled her to reach it. "The girl is a born lady; I gave her every opportunity, but neither to the text of 'Campbell,' nor 'lover,' did she betray herself or Allan. And really, when I think of it, I had almost a special direction about her. I did not intend to go to Mrs. Lauder's that morning. I should not have gone, if Madame Bartholemew had been at home. I should not have gone if Miss Fleming had been able to do my work. Maggie has evidently been put in my charge. Not to go any higher than Uncle John and Allan, I think when they demand her of me, they will say-'Where is thy sister?' not 'Where is thy servant maid, or thy sewing maid.' But I must be sure of myself. If I accept this obligation, I must accept it fully with all its contingencies and results. Can I be generous enough? Patient enough? Just enough? Loving enough?" And no wonder men honor good women! Who could have helped honoring Mary Campbell who saw her stand with honest purpose examining her own heart, and then lowly kneeling, asking God's blessing and help for the resolve so consecrated.

It was no light favor to be quickly given and quickly removed. Most good things are gradual; and Mary's kindness fell as the dew, a little in the morning, and a little in the evening. Here, a formality was dropped; there a tangible token of equality given. First, the evening dresses of white mull and pale merinos; then the meal at her table, and the seat in her carriage. And when this point had been reached, it had been so naturally and unobtrusively reached, that even the servants only remembered the first days of Maggie's residence at Drumloch, as a time when "Miss Promoter dootless had a sorrow o' her ain, and keepit much to hersel'."

With a more conventional girl, Mary might have had much difficulty in reaching this state of affairs; but Maggie took her kindness with the simple pleasure and gratitude of a child; and she certainly had not the faintest conception of Mary Campbell's relation to Allan.

Allan had distinctly spoken of his home as being in Bute; and of his cousin, as living in the same house with him from her childhood. Mary, in her own castle in Ayrshire, was certainly far enough away from all Allan's statements to destroy every suspicion of her identify. And the name of "Campbell" told her nothing at all. As Mary said, "The Campbells were a big clan." They abounded throughout the west of Scotland. Around Drumloch, every third man was a Campbell. In Glasgow the name was prominent on the sign boards of every street. In a Fife fishing village there are rarely more than four or five surnames. A surname had not much importance in Maggie's eyes. She had certainly noticed that "Campbell" frequently met "Promoter;" but certain names seem to have affinities for certain lives; at least certain letters do; and Maggie, quoting a superstition of her class, settled the matter to her own satisfaction, by reflecting "what comes to me wi' a 'C,' aye comes wi' good to me."

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