Castle and Cottage
by Grace Greenwood
It would seem that little Bertha Blantyre had everything that her heart
could wish. She was an only daughter, and a pretty, blooming, petted
darling. Her father was a rich lord, and, what was better, a good and
kind-hearted man. Her mother was a noble lady, and, what was more, a
gentle and loving woman, and even little Bertha had from her cradle the
title of "Honorable," which is as much as our great Congressmen can
boast. Yet I am sorry to say, this little lady was not always as happy
and grateful as she should have been, but was sometimes sadly
discontented, believing that other children were far happier than she.
All such little girls as had brothers and sisters to play with them,
and run about with them in the woods and over the moors, she envied
bitterly, even though they were the children of poor peasants,—never
thinking it possible that they might be envying her at the same time.
Lord Blantyre resided principally at Blantyre Castle, on a noble
estate, among the heathery hills of Scotland. The Castle was very
ancient, with towers, and turrets, and a massive gateway, but it had
many modern additions which beautified it, and gave it a cheerful,
almost home-like look. Through the old moat there slowly ran a bright,
clear stream, in which grew hosts of water-lilies, and other aquatic
plants. Beyond this were soft, green, close-shaven lawns and
shrubberies, and gardens full of fountains and statues and fairy-like
bowers; the stables, full of beautiful horses and ponies; the kennels,
where a pack of noble stag-hounds was kept; the dairy, the
poultry-yard, and the pretty little houses of the gold and silver
pheasants. Around all was a great wooded park, filled with fleet
In this park Bertha often walked with her mother, or was whirled along
in a small open phaeton, drawn by two lovely white ponies, which Lady
Blantyre herself drove.
In the wildest and most remote part of the park lived the gamekeeper,
who, with his wife, had been born and bred on the estate, and from
childhood had been in the service of the noble family. Lady Blantyre
never passed the cottage of Robert MacWillie in her drives without
stopping to inquire after the health of his wife, who had once been her
maid, and of their fine brood of little ones. During these visits
Bertha became acquainted with the young foresters, and as she was of a
simple and amiable disposition, and not a bit haughty or conceited, she
liked them all heartily. But she especially took to a little girl
about her own age, named Lilly, and a boy a year or two older, called
One day as Lady Blantyre and Bertha were driving along the shore of a
miniature loch or pond, near Robert MacWillie's cottage, they saw
Hughie and Lilly playing in a burn, or brook, which emptied into the
little loch. Hughie was constructing a dam, with stones and turf and
heather-branches cemented with clay, and Lilly was sailing a tiny boat,
loaded with pebbles and flowers. Both were barefoot, and plashing
fearlessly in the burn. Lady Blantyre checked her ponies, and after
watching the children awhile, called them to the side of her phaeton.
Hughie took off his Glengary cap, and held it in his hand, and Lilly
was about to pull from her head a wild-looking wreath of daisies and
purple heather-blooms, when Bertha exclaimed, "Don't take it off! it is
so pretty; who made it?"
"Brother Hughie," answered Lilly, blushing.
"How good he must be! Do you like playing and wading in the water and
"Yes," said Lilly, looking down, and drawing figures in the sand with
her rosy little toes. "Hughie is gude. I like playing wi' the burn,
and flowers are bonny wee things"; then, looking up timidly, she
offered to her friend a bunch of water-lilies, which Hughie had waded
far out into the pond up to his short kilt to obtain.
"Thank you," said Bertha. "O how sweet they are, a thousand times
sweeter than those that grow in the moat, are n't they, mamma?"
Lady Blantyre smiled, for there was really no difference, the lilies at
the Castle having been brought from this very pond.
"How long have you been at your great work there?" she asked of Hughie.
"For maist a week, my Lady; but for the last twa days Domine MacGregor
has been down wi' an ill turn, and I hae (have) lost na time at schule
(school), so I hae got on weel wi' it. It will soon be done noo."
"And what do you intend to do with it when it is finished?" asked the
"I canna say, but I think we 'll play flood-time wi' it."
"What is that?"
"Your ladyship sees that wee-bit island; weel, we'll put on it some
doggies and a cat."
"Not my wee puss, Winkie?" cried Lilly in alarm.
"No, auld black Tammy will do, and a chicken or twa, and we 'll watch
the water rise and rise, till the puir creatures huddle togither and
greet and cackle and howl, then I 'll loup (leap) intil the burn, and
one after anither rescue them a'."
"O, how grand that would be!" exclaimed little Bertha, her eyes
flashing with excitement.
"Rather cruel sport," said Lady Blantyre, shaking her head, yet smiling
in spite of herself.
"Is it?" said Hughie, his countenance falling, "then I 'll no do it. I
'll but drive a' the duckies and fulish geese down here, and see them
gae quacking and skirling over the dam. I hope they'll no object to
"Probably not," said her ladyship, pleasantly.
"O mamma," said Bertha, looking up wistfully into her face, "how I
should love to play so with water and pebbles, and little boats, and
ducks and geese, and dams, all day long! How happy they must be!"
"Perhaps little Lilly thinks it would be a very happy thing to be in
your place, my daughter," said Lady Blantyre.
"Do you think so?" asked Bertha, wonderingly.
"Ay," answered Lilly, in a low, almost awestruck tone, "I think that to
be Miss Bertha, and bide in a braw (fine) Castle, wad be next to being
an angel, or a bonnie fairy princess."
All laughed at this, but on the way home Bertha was very thoughtful and
sad. Every time she spoke, it was to bewail her hard lot in being
allowed to take the air only in walks with her governess, or drives
with her mamma, in being obliged to wear fine clothes, to learn music
and dancing, "and other tiresome things," and never being free to run
wild on the hills and heaths, wade in the ponds, and plash in the
burns, like the little MacWillies.
Her mother tried to show her that, as her station was different from
theirs, her education and habits should be different, and that she had
a great deal to be thankful for, and might be very happy, if she would.
"Well, I think I ought at least to have a little brother to play with
me. I think God might have given me that, and kept back some of the
At this little burst of petulance, Lady Blantyre sighed and was silent
for some moments. Then she said: "Would my little daughter like to try
living at the cottage of the MacWillies for a day or two, just like one
of their own?"
"O yes, mamma, and play with Lilly and Hughie?"
"With Hughie and the other children. I must have Lilly with me at the
Castle, to make up for the loss of my little Bertha."
"O!" said Bertha, looking a little disappointed; then she added,
eagerly, "But, mamma, may I indeed do just like them?—go without a
bonnet, take off my shoes and stockings, and wade in the burn, and
patter in the nice soft clay?"
"Yes, if Lilly will consent to take your place, and play the little
lady at the Castle."
In the afternoon Lady Blantyre sent for Mrs. MacWillie, and between
them they arranged that their little daughters should change places on
the morrow; and that night both Bertha and Lilly went to bed with their
hearts full of happy anticipations, and each pitying the other.
Early in the morning, Lilly was brought to the Castle, and Bertha
conveyed to the cottage. Lilly wanted to take with her her pet kitten,
but was told that poor little Winkle would be rather too vulgar a
visitor for Lady Blantyre's drawing-room. Bertha proposed to take her
pretty King Charles spaniel, but was told that the gamekeeper's rough
mastiffs and terriers would make nothing of taking him by the neck and
shaking the life out of him. So she concluded to leave Frivole behind.
When she reached the cottage, the little MacWillies came around her,
full of wonder and shy admiration. They said nothing to her, but they
whispered among themselves, and their eyes looked very big and watched
"Come here, Sandy and Effie!" she said to a little boy and girl, who
stood with their hands behind them, gazing at her as if she really had
been a fairy princess. "Do come to me; I am your sister now, don't you
But they only drew back, and as she started toward them, scampered away
and hid behind their mother.
"Come, Hughie," said the little lady, "let us go down to the burn. You
must make me a wreath like Lilly's, and play with me just as you do
with her, won't you?"
Hughie gladly promised, and away they went hand in hand. But the lad
could not quite forget that his playmate was the Honorable Miss Bertha
Blantyre, so he took the choicest roses from his mother's garden to
make a wreath for her, and for the life of him he could not be as free
and merry with her as with his sister. However, he was very kind and
amusing, and Bertha was in high glee. The first thing she did when
they reached the burnside, was to sit down and pull off her shoes and
stockings, then she ran up and down the sandy shore of the loch,
throwing pebbles and daisies into the water, sailing Lilly's little
boat, and laughing and singing like some wild creature. Then she
helped Hughie at his dam awhile, patting the soft clay with her dainty
"O dear!" she exclaimed at last.
"What's the matter, my bonnie leddie?" said Hughie, rather
"My feet smart so! See how big and red they look."
"Sae they do. You hae burned them. The sun is hot this simmer day,
and the sand as weel, and ye ken (know) ye are no used to gang without
your shoon (shoes); wade a bit, noo, and cool your small saft feet."
Bertha thrust one foot into the water, but drew it out instantly,
exclaiming, "Ugh, how cold!"
"Ay, gin (if) ye only dip the tips o' your toes, like a fearsome cat;
but gin ye rin bravely intil the water, like a spaniel dog, ye'll no
find it cauld," said Hughie, taking her hand and leading her in. But
Bertha still thought it cold; she caught her breath, and shrieked at
every step, frightened not only at the rising water, but at the tiny
fishes within it, and even at the insects skimming along its surface.
As Hughie was leading her out, she trod on a stone and cut one of her
delicate feet quite severely. Then, when she reached the shore, she
found that she could not get on her stockings and shoes, and with her
eyes full of tears she said, "Ah me! what shall I do? I can't walk
barefoot among the heather, my feet are so sore already."
Hughie and Bertha
"O, dinna fash yoursel' (don't trouble yourself) about that, I 'll
carry you in my twa arms," said Hughie; and the sturdy little fellow
took her and carried her to the cottage.
After having had her foot bound up, and her face bathed in cream, for
that was also burned, her pretty wreath having proved a very poor
protection from the sun, Bertha was invited to share the midday meal of
the children. Being very hungry, she gladly sat up to the table and
took her share of milk and oatmeal cakes, or bannocks. She liked the
milk, but the bannocks scratched her throat and almost brought the
tears to her eyes. She wondered how the others could eat them so
After dinner the children did their best to amuse their visitor, by
playing games, running, leaping, and tumbling about, all very kindly
meant, but rough, noisy, and almost terrifying to Bertha, who was not
sorry when the younger ones ran out of the house to play under the
trees. Hughie sat by her side on the settle, and told her stories,
till she fell asleep. She was very weary, and slept a long while,
against some cushions which Hughie placed behind her. When she awoke,
she looked around wonderingly, and, missing the dear faces of her
mother and nurse, burst into tears.
"What's the matter wi' my bonnie bairn?" asked Mrs. MacWillie, tenderly.
"I—want—to—go—home!" sobbed Bertha.
"And ye shall gae hame; sae dinna greet (weep), my lammie," said the
In a very few minutes the gamekeeper, who, by the way, had watched the
children all the morning, from behind some thick bushes by the loch, to
see that no harm befell them, came to the door with the family
carriage,—a two-wheeled vehicle, called a "dog-cart," drawn by a
shaggy old pony. Bertha was helped into this, and, having taken a kind
but rather hasty leave of her rustic friends, was driven, in a little
lazy, shuffling trot, towards the Castle. About half-way, who should
they meet but Lady Blantyre, driving Lilly MacWillie home in her
pony-phaeton! She did not seem to see the dog-cart at all, but dashed
by it at a furious rate.
Little Lilly had scarcely had a better day than Bertha. From the first
hour of her visit to the Castle she had felt ill at ease, and almost
homesick. Everything there was so strange and magnificent, that all
the kindness she met with failed to make her feel happy and
comfortable. Lady Blantyre devoted herself to her amusement; she
showed her the conservatories and the aviaries, and led her through the
long picture-gallery. This last was an awful place to Lilly; she was
frightened at the array of old-time Blantyres,—fierce soldiers in
armor, grim judges in enormous wigs, and grand ladies in vast hoops and
At lunch, Lady Blantyre had her little guest sit beside her, and
pressed her to eat of delicate wild-fowl and luscious fruit. But Lilly
was scared out of the little appetite she had, not by his lordship, who
sat opposite, but by the solemn footman who stood behind her chair.
After lunch, Lady Blantyre played and sung for her, and showed her
Bertha's books and toys.
At length she left her alone for a time, while she went to dress. When
she returned to the drawing-room she could not see the child anywhere;
but presently she heard a stifled sob behind the curtain of a window,
looking towards the gamekeeper's cottage. She went to Lilly, and put
her arms about her, saying, "What are you grieving about, my dear?"
"Let me gae hame! I maun gae hame!" (I must go home) said Lilly.
"So you shall, darling," replied the lady.
When Lady Blantyre returned from the cottage, she found Bertha in the
nursery, sitting on the lap of her kind nurse Margery.
"Well, has my little daughter learned content from this day's
experience?" said the lady, smiling.
"Yes, mamma," replied Bertha. "I find that one must belong to the
MacWillies, to do as they do, and like it; but somehow, I wish I had
been used to their ways from the first, that is, if you and papa had
been so too. It seems to me that God meant that all people should live
nearly alike, and only have houses just big enough to hold them
comfortably, like the nests of the birds; and that all children should
run among the hills, and play with the brooks. Did n't he?"
"Perhaps he did, my child."
As for Lilly, she spoke her mind that night, to her pet kitten, as she
hugged it in her arms before dropping to sleep. "Are ye na glad that
we are na fine ladies, eh, Winkie?"