IF a man
wants to cultivate the virtue of patience, let him go in for litigation; '
but let him first consult the condition of his purse. The case of Dempster
v. Dempster was lengthened and postponed to such
an extent that Sir Ludovic became quite infuriated, only dourer than
ever—more determined that the thing should be fought out. It was not settled
till the spring, but the result was worth the waiting for. Sir Ludo's side
won, and Gavin Dempster had to retire to his farm at Magus Muir to chew the
cud of disappointed greed. So Miss Dempster, though not a great heiress,
would come very well dowered to the Beild Manse.
Bowman was not in Edinburgh when the case was decided, but Sir Ludo
obligingly telegraphed the result to him, and bade him be over at Wester
Cairn by a certain time the same night to receive them. The minister was
full of thought as he walked over in the clear, sharp March evening, being
in truth not particularly elated over the result. What had he to offer her
for all she would bring to him ? Nothing, as he had said, but himself and
his love. He was not therefore able to enter fully into the exuberance and
jubilation of Sir Ludo, who was as proud as a peacock over the whole
business, especially his own share in it. Miss Dempster was of course
quietly pleased also, though rather compassionate towards her cousin, who
had cut a sorry figure that morning under the judge's contemptuous
Leslie, kindly and thoughtful for the two, gave them a few minutes together
before dinner, and it was then that Miss Dempster noticed more especially
the minister's quiet, rather depressed air.
" You are
not so pleased as I think you ought to be, Hugh," she said. "Tell me what it
is that is in your mind. Maybe I could guess, were I to try, but you can
just as well tell me."
thoughts are not difficult to understand or to follow, Euphame," he said. "
I was but wondering anew at my own presumption. You are a rich woman now;
what have I to give you ? Perhaps I ought in honour to withdraw."
you ought," she replied, with a touch of girlish coquetry which did not sit
ill upon her. " If you do, there might be another case before the Session—a
breach of promise. Would that do the Beild minister much good, think you, or
increase his usefulness ? "
not been so sure of him, trusted him so implicitly, she could not have
spoken so lightly. He smiled slightly, and, being near her, bent his head
and kissed her hand.
consider, dearest, my poverty. I am ashamed, not of it, but of my own
presumption in offering it to you. It is a curious position for a man,
especially if he be a trifle proud. They will call me a fortune-hunter,
thought we discussed all this before, Hugh," she said, a trifle hurt, " and
that we had dismissed it. I am the same woman I was before this law-suit was
spoken of. Take me or leave me as you will."
humility, which only a woman who truly loves can wear with such a matchless
grace, conquered him; and he took her to his heart.
" I will
never leave you ; only let us be married soon, Euphame—otherwise I shall
never feel sure. I will be selfish for once, and think of nothing but what
is going to make me happy."
" I am
ready to marry you to-morrow, if you like, Hugh," she made answer, and he
took her, if not exactly at her word, very soon after. They were cried in
the Airn kirk three weeks from that date, and married from Wester Cairn on
the following Thursday, Bruce Rymer tearing himself away for two days from
his beloved studies to attend his still more dearly beloved friend. There
never had been such a tremendous upheaval in the Beild; everything else
paled before the excitement of the minister's wedding.
away for a month's honeymoon on the continent, and as the time drew near for
their return great were the speculations as to Where the minister would take
up his abode. If Easy knew anything, she did not let on; but the general
idea was that Mr. Bowman was practically lost to the Beild. A grand fallacy
that turned out to be, for at the end of the month the couple came home, and
stepped quietly into the Beild Manse, which was just as it had been in the
minister's bachelor days. It was his wife's express desire.
you see, Hugh," she said, when it had been talked over, " I want to live
just as you have lived, so that I can understand all those Beild years ; and
I want to learn to know the folk as your wife, and if we begin to make ever
so many changes, they'll stand off from me, so I shall never be the helpmeet
to you I wish and hope to be."
not tell you his answer; maybe it was a foolish one for a middle-aged man
and a minister, but the most of us suffer from that sort of foolishness at
some period of our lives, and ought to thank God for it. So everything
remained unchanged, even Easy, who had been sorely troubled in her mind,
having grown to the Manse, as it were, and loving it as she could never love
any other place; only she got a smart young woman to help her and to wait
upon Mrs. Bowman when she required waiting on, which, considering her
upbringing, was but seldom. We hear and read of homes which are like little
heavens below, and sometimes smile thereat; but if such a thing is possible
in this world of care and sorrow, it was to be found in the Beild Manse
after Euphame Dempster went to it. I shall not attempt to tell you what she
was and is to Beild folk, because they can tell you a great deal better than
I. But she made a
great difference in the place after being a year or two in it.
this happened a good while ago, and if you go to the Beild—that is,
supposing you know where it is—you'll find a good many things I have not
told you about, though I might some day, if you care to hear more of that
at the west end, which still reckons itself the best end, you'd find Binns
and his wife getting some frail, Shoosan a good deal humbler-spoken than of
yore. And you might see there too a big, good-looking, old-young man, if you
know what that is, who is sometimes pointed at on the sly by the irreverent
as " the stickit minister." So have Erskine Nicoll's castles in the air
toppled to the ground.
longer sits at her little window, keeping her soul green and her eyes tender
with glimpses of the moss, and the sky which is the veil of heaven, because
she has passed within it now, to the land she aye longed for, "where there
shall be no more pain." Andra, sore hauden down with rheumatism, and more
lonely than is known to any save himself and God, and the spirit of Nanse
which sometimes abides to comfort him, waits "till the day break and the
shadows flee away."
solemn-faced married man is still in the schoolhouse, and has a big sma'
family; but he doesn't like the Beild any better than the day he came. You
see, he will never get over the fact that he is not Beild-born.
Pitbladdo still carries the letters, acts as minister's man, and keeps the
shop, weighing as jimply as of yore. And he is just the same to look at as
the day he carried up the Book to Erskine Nicoll, after having threepit with
him in the vestry to wear the old gown. The Morisons, Big and Wee, flourish
still; but Jeanie has gone away from the east end, leaving "an unco hole,"
as her mother says—a hole that'll never be filled. But she is filling, right
nobly too, her place by her young husband's side in the great city where he
carries on the practice of the profession which he loves, next to Jeanie,
above everything on earth. The world is waiting to hear of Bruce, and it
will. He is biding his time. He is a wise man who does not utter the name of
Bruce Rymer before Erskine Nicoll, or within the gates of the Binns. It's a
sore, sore subject there; for the " puirs-hoose laddie " has vindicated his
right to rise, and shown that there are few obstacles which a noble soul,
rightly directing its gifts, cannot overcome.
you will not find in the Beild— that is a kent face in the Manse. For the
day came when another and a richer parish cast covetous eyes on the Beild
minister, and after much persuasion bore him away.
far, however, but that he can still drive—and always with the face at his
side which has been to him a veritable glimpse of the love and goodness of
God—to the old place to see the old friends.
none like the old, after all. What we have known earliest and longest we
cling to, and go back to in love even in our dreams.
my quiet times, when all is still, and I think of heaven, it is of a place
where all those early aspirations, early loves, early hopes, will have their
grand fulfilment. To Nanse, heaven was a place without pain. To me it is a
place without disappointment, where we shall rise to our full height, and be
the men and women of our earliest and our holiest dreams.