Jamie's Faith by Grace Greenwood
Margaret Grey was a widow, who, with three young children, lived in a
small cottage on the estate of Lord Dundale, in Scotland. When her
husband died, Margaret had been compelled to give up the land he had
farmed, with the exception of a little garden, and a patch of pasturage
on which she supported a cow and a shaggy Highland pony, called Rab.
This last was a very important member of the family, as without him the
widow could not have conveyed to market the butter and eggs, on the
proceeds of which the frugal little household subsisted. For his part,
Rab seemed fully conscious of his own important and responsible
position in the widow's family, gave up all frisking and frolicking
ways, and conducted himself in a staid and sober manner on his way to
and from the market-town, and assumed towards the children in their
little rides a sort of protecting, patronizing, paternal character,
which was really edifying to behold.
Lord Dundale was a young man, very handsome and stately, but gentle and
gracious, and much beloved by his family and tenants. The children on
his estate looked up to him with loving reverence, as to a superior
being, from whom nothing but good and happiness were to be expected by
the deserving. For them his youth, beauty, and elegance had especial
poetic charms; their sweet, simple affection, their timid, grateful
devotion, were laid at his feet,—so that when moving among them he
trod on unseen flowers. They loved to hear and to tell of the grand
and beautiful things at that fairy palace, the Castle,—a noble old
edifice, with massive towers, a moat, a lofty gateway, and an ancient
drawbridge and portcullis, which stood high in the midst of great
Lord Dundale, being in delicate health, was able to spend but a few
months of each year in Scotland, the climate being too severe for him;
but he loved the place of his birth, and was never so happy as when,
like Rob Roy, he could say, "My foot is on my native heath."
To his tenants his yearly visit to his Scottish estate was always a
season of festivity: they hailed the signal of his return, the running
up of a flag on the highest tower of the Castle, with shouts of hearty
The cottage of the Grey was on a shady lane, through which the young
lord often rode in the pleasant autumn mornings or evenings, sometimes
with a gay party of ladies and gentlemen, guests at the Castle,
sometimes, when the hour was early, quite alone, and sometimes with one
beautiful dark-eyed lady, fresh as a rose and proud as a lily, who it
was said was one day to be the mistress of Dundale Castle. The Grey
children, little Effie and Jamie, noticed that when the young lord rode
by himself, or with ever so large a party of riders, he never failed to
acknowledge their bows and courtesies with a nod and a pleasant word
and smile; but that when he and the dark-eyed lady together ambled
slowly past, he did not seem to see their wistful little faces at all.
So, in their secret hearts, they took something very like a spite
against the beautiful Lady Evelyn, and hoped their young lord would
change his mind.
One autumn evening, as Margaret Grey rode homeward from the
market-town, she noticed that Rab, the pony, was languid and slow, that
he hung his head dejectedly, and made no effort to browse along the
hedge-rows as usual. She supposed that he was tired with his day's
work, but trusted that he would be well in the morning. Alas! when the
morning came, poor, faithful old Rab was found dead, stretched out
stiff and cold in his paddock!
Effie and Jamie grieved passionately over their lost friend and
playfellow. They sat down beside him on the grass, and, looking at his
poor, helpless feet, worn in their service, wept bitterly that they
would carry them along the lane and up the hillside no more; they
patted half fearfully the shaggy neck; which would arch to their
caresses never again; they drew back with a shudder, after touching the
cold lips which had so often eaten the sweet clover from their hands,
and turned with a sense of strange wonder and awfulness from the
death-misted eyes, which had always shone upon them with an almost
Margaret Grey wept also,—fewer tears than her children, but sadder.
She had many sweet and mournful memories connected with poor Rab. Her
dear old father gave him to her on her eighteenth birthday. She
remembered many a joyful gallop on his back, through the lanes and over
the moors. She remembered how sometimes she rode him slowly, with his
rein on his neck; for young Angus Grey walked by her side and told her
pleasant news,—always pleasant and interesting, though always about
the same thing. She remembered how once he checked Rab's rein under
the shade of a hawthorn-tree, and asked her to be his wife. She
remembered, too, how Rab had borne her to the Kirk, to be married to
Angus Grey; and she thought of three other Sundays when he had carried
her and her baby to the christening; and of yet one other time, when he
had drawn slowly away from her door a hearse, whereon lay the beloved
husband and father. She thought, too, with tender anxiety, that now
the last help of the widow, her humble fellow-laborer, was taken from
her; and the grim wolf of want and hunger seemed to stand in poor dead
Rab's place. Even the baby seemed to feel something of her anxiety and
distress, and put up its pretty lip to cry; so to comfort it and to
calm herself by her usual household labor, she returned to the cottage,
leaving Effie and Jamie still sitting beside old Rab. Their grief had
somewhat moderated; yet they sobbed as they talked of the virtues of
the deceased, and wondered what life would be without him.
"Ah, Jamie," said Effie, "inna you wish the Lord was here now? You ken
mither told us how He cured sick folk, and how He once made a mon alive
again that had been dead four days. He could make our Rab alive wi' a
touch of His finger, gin (if) He would try, Jamie."
Wee Jamie was a simple-hearted child, scarcely four summers old: his
little brain was easily bewildered. For him there was but one Lord,
the good and generous young nobleman at the Castle. Of his power and
goodness Jamie could believe anything, and though he opened his eyes
wide at his sister's story, his face grew radiant with joy, as just at
that moment he caught sight of Lord Dundale trotting slowly down the
lane on his beautiful thoroughbred bay mare. In a moment he was over
the fence, in the road, in the very path of the rider, crying out in an
agony of entreaty, "Stop, stop, my lord! our Rab is dead; ye maun
(must) make him alive again!"
Lord Dundale checked his horse, and looked down on his little
petitioner in silent astonishment, while Mrs. Grey ran out of the
cottage, with baby in her arms, and, catching hold of Jamie, strove to
lift him out of the way. But the little fellow resisted sturdily,
crying still, "Let him make Rab alive! He maun make him alive!"
"But, my little fellow," said the Earl, smiling, "if Rab is really
dead,—and I am very sorry to hear it,—I cannot make him alive: how
could you think of such a thing?"
But Jamie stood his ground, answering, "My mither says you once made a
big mon alive after he had been dead four days. Rab is only a sma'
pony, and he's been dead but a wee bit while; so it's na a hard job for
you. Dinna say you will na do it."
"What can the little lad mean, Mrs. Grey?" asked Lord Dundale,
"I dinna ken (do not know), my lord," she replied, "unless, Heaven save
us! he takes you for the Lord of lords. I didna think the bairn was so
heathenish and so daft (foolish). You maun forgie (must forgive) the
Lord Dundale dismounted, and, taking the little fellow by the hand, by
a few simple questions, soon found that this was indeed Jamie's strange
"My poor little laddie," he said, "you are wofully mistaken. I cannot
bring your dear old pony back to life. You can never play with him, or
feed him, or ride him among the heather or along the burnside again.
Rab's work is done, and it is time he should rest. But, Jamie, I can
give you another pony in his place, one that I hope may serve your good
mother as well as Rab, and that you and Effie must love for my sake.
And now good by. I hope Jamie will yet know well the Lord most great
and good and loving, the only true Lord of life and death."
Taking a kindly leave of Mrs. Grey, the young Earl then rode on, but in
the course of the day the groom of the Castle galloped down to the
widow's cottage, leading the new pony, a handsome, sturdy little
animal, and so gentle and docile that not only Jamie but timid little
Effie could ride him with safety; and even the baby, when set on his
back, played with his mane and answered his whinny with a triumphant
So Jamie's faith, though mistaken, was rewarded; and his innocent,
fervent little prayer was answered, not by a Divine miracle, but by a
generous human heart, which also found its reward in proving the truth
of the Master's words,—"It is more blessed to give than to receive."