The white cavern, bare and chill, with small, deep windows looking out upon the hills of June, was but sparely set out with folk. Afternoon was not morning. Nor was there again the disciplinary vision of the forenoon. The sinners were not set the second time for a gazing-stock. It was just usual afternoon kirk. The prayer was made, the psalm was sung, Mr. M’Nab preached a strong if wintry sermon. Jarvis Barrow, white-headed, strong-featured, intent, sat as in some tower over against Jerusalem, considering the foes that beset her. Beside him sat his daughter Jenny, in striped petticoat and plain overgown, blue kerchief, and hat of straw. Next to Jenny was Elspeth in a dim-green stuff, thin, besprent with small flowers, a fine white kerchief, and a wider straw hat. Robin Greenlaw sat beside Elspeth, and the laird by Greenlaw. Half the congregation thought with variations:
“Wha ever heard of the laird’s not being in his ain place? He and White Farm and Littlefarm maun be well acquaint’! He’s foreign, amaist, and gangs his ain gait!”
Glenfernie, who had broken the conventions, sat in a profound carelessness of that. The kirk was not gray to him to-day, though he had thought it so on other days, nor bare, nor chill. June was without, but June was more within. He also prayed, though his unuttered words ran in and out between the minister’s uttered ones. Under the wintry sermon he built a dream and it glowed like jewels. At the psalm, standing, he heard Elspeth’s clear voice praising God, and his heart lifted on that beam of song until it was as though it came to Heaven.
“Lord, thou hast been
In generations all.
Before thou ever hadst brought forth
The mountains great or small,
Ere ever thou hadst formed the earth
And all the world abroad,
Ev’n thou from everlasting art
To everlasting God.”
“Love, love, love!” cried Glenfernie’s heart. His nature did with might what its hand found to do, and now, having turned to love between man and woman, it loved with a huge, deep, pulsing, world-old strength. He heard Elspeth, he felt Elspeth only; he but wished to blend with her and go on with her forever from the heaven to heaven which, blended so, they would make.
“... As with an
Thou carriest them away;
They like a sleep are, like the grass
That grows at morn are they.
At morn it flourishes and grows,
Cut down at ev’n doth fade—”
“Not grass of the field, O Lord,” cried Glenfernie’s heart, “but the forest of oaks, but the stars that hold for aye, one to the other—”