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Title: Barnharrow
Author: Josephine Tey (writing as Gordon Daviot)
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 1600251h.html
Language: English
Date first posted:  March 2016
Most recent update: March 2016

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Gordon Daviot

Cover Image


First Published in Plays by Gordon Daviot, Vol. 3, Peter Davies, 1954

This e-book edition: Project Gutenberg Australia, 2016


                    JANET LINTON
                    ROB LINTON, her father-in-law
                    SIMON LINTON, her son
                    ISHBEL GRIERSON, her niece
                    A SERGEANT

The living-room of a small farm in the South-west of Scotland on a
summer evening in the sixteen-eighties.

Against the back wall is a large dresser with plates and dishes. R. of
the dresser is a cask of ale, and L. of the dresser the door to the
passage. R., is the wide hearth with a peat fire burning. L., the
window, against which is a bare wood table.

The door at the back is wide open, and so is the outside door (to the
R. as one walks into the passage) so that both room and passage are
flooded with the light of the westering sun, through window and open
door, and anyone coming in by the front door casts a shadow in front of

There are two people in the room. At a smaller table, where the light
falls on it between the window and the fire, JANET LINTON is ironing.
She is forty; a dignified woman with an intelligent face, the remains of
what must have been a quiet rather than a flashing beauty, and grace and
good taste in her plain clothes. In a chair by the hearth is her
father-in-law, ROBERT LINTON. He is not much more than sixty, but he
is so crippled by rheumatism that he is physically an old man. Mentally
he is alert, and his face is a great deal livelier than his

JANET irons while she talks, and more or less throughout the play;
changing her iron at convenient moments. The clothes to be ironed are in
a basket on a stool to L. of the table. The finished articles she hangs
to air by the fire if they are garments, or folds and lays over the edge
of the basket if they are small pieces.

  JANET: (casting a glance at the other iron which is heating at the
fire) Put another peat on the fire, Father. That iron's not heating.

   [ROB reaches behind him for a peat, and lays it on the fire.]

  ROB: There are not many peats left. Simon was in such haste to get to
town he forgot to bring in a load this morning. Is it a girl, do you

  JANET: (more to herself than to him) If only it were!

  ROB: (carefully ignoring her reaction) He's got to an age now to be
looking them over; but you need not fear for his picking. All the
Lintons were good pickers. You never knew my Hannah, but when my son
brought you over the threshold to me that day, do you know what I
thought? I thought: Well, he had to go all the way to Dumfries to find a
woman as good as his mother, but he's found her. Trust a Linton. And
Simon will be the same. He may look them over down in Dalmeath, but he
won't bring one home until—

  JANET: (interrupting quietly) Father; don't bother to pretend. You
know as well as I do where he is.

  ROB: And where is that?

  JANET: Patrick Kennedy is preaching today at the back of the Tor hill.

  ROB: (as one says: Indeed!) A conventicle.

  JANET: (bitterly) Ay; a conventicle.... And my son's there.... I
think Will must be turning in his grave....

   [ROB searches in his mind for comfort to offer her, but finds none
      to hand.]

  JANET: ... Where have I failed, Father?

  ROB: Failed?

  JANET: What have I done, or not done, that Will's son should be up
there listening to the raving of fanatics?

  ROB: It's no fault of yours, Janet.

  JANET: I gave him a good education, that he might have a mind to reason
with.... Sending him to the minister to learn Latin and the like.... He
used to be very fond of old Mr Pierse, but now, it seems, he's a 'priest
of Baal'.

  ROB: It's nobody fault, Janet; neither yours nor good old Mr Pierse's.
Look out of the window there and tell me what you see.

  JANET: (glancing automatically out of the window without pausing in
her work) Moors.

  ROB: Ay. Moors. Go round the back of the house, and what do you see?
Moors. Bogs and mist in the winter, and bogs, plain bogs, in the summer.
And no moving thing, summer or winter, but the cloud shadows. What kind
of country is that for a young man?

  JANET: Will lived in it, and so did you.

  ROB: Will came back to it. He'd seen the world, and had something to
measure things by. And Will was a sober creature anyhow. As for me, I
made my own liveliness, God forgive me, before I met my Hannah. That is
what I say to you. A man must make his own excitement in a country like
this. Even if it is only listening to a bag of wind like Pat Kennedy.

  JANET: If it were only harmless as wind.... He makes them mad with
words. He plays with them the way he would play with chuckie-stones.
They have no wills or thoughts of their own by the time he's finished
with them.

  ROB: Ay. It was all he was ever good at: talking.

  JANET: It's a fearful thing that one man's tongue can have such a

  ROB: (amending her speech) A tongue and one man's vanity.

  JANET: (reflective) Ay; vanity. I sat on a school bench with Patrick
Kennedy. Even then he could never bear to come second—even in a game.
We used to play Hang-the-man on our school slates, and if he was losing
he would dash a wet rag over it before you could stop him.

  ROB: (dryly) He'll maybe make a successful hanging one of these days,
for all that. Give a cry to Ishbel, and perhaps she'll bring in a peat
or two.

  JANET: I would have to cry very loud. It isn't men like Pat Kennedy
that end on the gallows, but their poor dupes.

  ROB: Is Ishbel not out-by?

  JANET: She is not. The last bannock wasn't off her girdle (she tilts
her head to where, under a clean cloth on the table by the window, the
bannocks are lying) this afternoon but she was out of the door like the
flirt of a cat's tail.

  ROB: The conventicle, is it?

  JANET: Where else?

  ROB: Well, I could imagine better places. But I suppose listening to a
man with a price on his head preaching treason is more exciting than a
roll in the hay. That is what they want, Janet. Excitement.

  JANET: If she wasn't my sister's child she could search for excitement
under some other roof.

  ROB: It's what gives Patrick Kennedy and all his tribe their power in
the West. In Edinburgh no one would even pause to listen to them. And
why? Because in the East their days are full, and there is entertainment
for their eyes and their minds and their bodies. Every hour a new
fashion, a new idea, a new dance step. Europe and the great world washes
up on their doorstep, bringing its treasure like flotsam. And that keeps
their spirits lively and their spleens uncongested. But what new thing
ever comes into this country? Even the pedlar plodding up the road from
Dalmeath is the same one as last year. A new ribbon once a twelve-month
won't keep a girl happy or a lad interested.

  JANET: (casting him a slight smile) You sound as if you would have
liked to go to Edinburgh yourself, Father.

  ROB: Ay; I always had a notion to go east and see the world. But I
would no sooner get the length of Dalmeath than I would notice a pretty
girl. It might be a girl I had known for years, but I would notice for
the first time what a fine little curl came down in front of her right
ear, and I would have to stay in Dalmeath until I became better
acquainted with that curl. That was before I met my Hannah, of course.

  JANET: (going back to her preoccupation) I have thought often of
sending Simon away. But who would work the place if he left?... I did
ask Mr Pierse about it, once. He was very proud of Simon. A good brain
he had, he said. And when I asked him about finding work for Simon
somewhere in the East he said he would speak for him any time. To the
King himself, if need were. But of course that was before ... (Her
voice dies away)

  ROB: Before Simon decided that Mr Pierse was a 'spawn of Satan'. Or is
it 'a priest of Baal'? (As JANET makes no rejoinder) It's heady
stuff, the Old Testament. Full of cursings and malediction. I doubt if
any Covenanter has opened the New Testament since Tippermuir, way back
in Montrose's day.

  JANET: Why Tippermuir?

  ROB: There's direct evidence that they'd at least heard of it then.
Their watchword was: 'Jesus and No Quarter'.

  JANET: (contemplative) The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon. And never
the mention of a Cross.... Good old Mr Pierse preaches about being a
good citizen and respecting the rights of others, but I suppose it
doesn't sound as fine as the Sword of the Lord.

  ROB: No; there's no glory in being a good citizen. Not in Galloway.
Just think how dull life would be for Lady Kilenzie if she couldn't hide
Pat Kennedy in her cellar now and then. Or for Daft Davie Dunbar if he
couldn't run with messages about the whereabouts of the patrol, or

  JANET: (bitter) If Lady Kilenzie had a son she might see Patrick
Kennedy in a different light. Would I care about his shoutings and his
blasphemies if it were not for Simon!... Isn't every day I rise a burden
to me for fear of what he may be led into.... If only Will had lived he

  ROB: (interrupting) Now, Janet, now; you know that is not so. Will
could not have altered by one oat-straw anything that—

  JANET: (passionate) If Will had lived there would be someone to work
Barnharrow, and Simon could have gone away, and learned to judge things
with a better understanding in a wider world. To find worthier heroes
than Patrick Kennedy. And a finer creed than— (Her head turns to the

  ROB: Is that Simon now?

  JANET: No. It's Ishbel.

   [The girl's footsteps are not audible until she moves from the turf
      to the large flagstones that surround the door. As the flat,
      metallic sound of her feet on the stone is heard, one can see her
      shadow in the passage and she comes into the room.

   [She is not yet twenty; still slim, but with the promise of a mature
      opulence; her auburn hair and full mouth suggest warmth and
      temperament. She is, indeed, the antithesis of her aunt.

   [She is flushed with her long journey in the heat, and is carrying
      the small light-woollen shawl that she would normally be wearing
      as out-door garment.]

  ISHBEL: Whoa! Was there ever a summer like this one! The air on the
moor is dancing in the heat like a cloud of midges. (She picks up a
dipper and draws water from a pail just inside the door, and drinks it

  ROB: (watching her) If you drink like a calf you'll have to go to the
well again tonight.

  ISHBEL: (pausing in her drinking but not turning) I'll go to the
well. (She finishes her drink)

  JANET: (not nagging; merely casting her a glance and going on with her
ironing) Five miles is a long way to walk on a hot day for a sermon.
You were never as fond of walking the mile to kirk.

  ROB: (not archly; merely stating a fact) Och, at kirk she had only
the sermon, and a sideways keek of Johnny Stewart's black hair. At a
conventicle she can throw her eye over the likely lads of three
parishes. Indeed, if all they tell me is true, the young ones throw more
than their—

  JANET: (repressive) Father!

  ISHBEL: (equably) I didn't go for sermon or lads. I wanted to see
them drilling.

  JANET: (standing stock-still) Drilling!

  ISHBEL: (a little pleased now to be able to shock them) Yes. They
have pikes. And forty muskets besides.

  JANET: (to herself) God help us.

  ROB: (dryly) And what great truth are they going to prove with a

  ISHBEL: They're going to prove that they are better men than His
Majesty's troops.

  ROB: That won't be difficult. (As ISHBEL looks surprised) Nine to
one is good odds, by any reckoning. There's eighty men down yonder at
Kilmichael, and not another blink of a uniform in five hundred square
miles. If Patrick Kennedy is anything of a General he can pick them off
ten at a time—there are never more than ten in a patrol, because they
can never afford more—and in a week he will be lord of the West.

  JANET: Father! How can you take it so lightly? So—

  ROB: (soothing) Because he won't do it, my dear. Pat Kennedy never
had any stomach for a fight.

  JANET: (doubtfully) No; that's true.

  ISHBEL: Patrick Kennedy is a saint, and he has the courage of a lion.

  ROB: (ignoring ISHBEL) He wants to be a Gideon as well as a Moses.
But reviewing a private army is one thing, and facing the business-end
of a pike is another matter altogether.

  JANET: But, Father! Think. He preaches them daft and then puts muskets
into their hands.

  ROB: (reflective) Ay. I wonder where he got those muskets.

  ISHBEL: They came from Holland in a ship that put into Loch Ryan. Mr
Kennedy ordered them with money that godly folk subscribed.

  ROB: Folk who are too poor by their way of it to pay their taxes to the

  ISHBEL: What have the Government ever done for us?

  JANET: (tartly, rousing from her abstraction of worry) They sent
troops down to prevent our being rabbled by a crowd of hooligans because
we choose to go to our own kirk of a Sabbath. For that if nothing else
we are grateful to them.

  ISHBEL: Och, Barnharrow was never in danger of being rabbled.

  JANET: (bitter) Because my son stands well with the hooligans? It's a
poor outlook when one's peace and safety are dependent on one's standing
with the mob. Where is Simon, by the way?

  ISHBEL: I don't know. I haven't seen him.

  JANET: Was he not at the conventicle?

  ISHBEL: Oh, I expect so, but it was all over before I got there. (She
has taken a bannock from under the cloth on the table, and carried it to
the dresser, where she finds butter to spread on it) Someone had told
the troops at Kilmichael that there was going to be a conventicle
somewhere today. So it had to be cut short, and there was no drilling.
It was safer to leave the arms in their hidey-hole.

  ROB: (murmuring) Safer for who?

  ISHBEL: I met everyone on their road home.

  JANET: Why didn't you meet Simon, then?

  ISHBEL: (indifferent) I don't know. I suppose he had a ploy of his
own. The conventicle was ended by noon, and that would be much too early
to think of coming home.

  ROB: And who told the troops about the conventicle?

  ISHBEL: Lady Kilenzie says it was Dallas the grocer in Kilmichael.

  ROB: Oh, was she there?

  ISHBEL: I met her riding home, and she stopped and we had cake out of
her saddle-bag and a drink called claret. That's wine. Her saddle-bags
were stuffed full of food—chicken and things—because she had planned
for an all-day outing, and she wasn't pleased to be going home shortly
after noon.

  ROB: I suppose that means that old Dallas will wake tomorrow morning to
find his stock dumped in the river; or are they going to fire his place?

  ISHBEL: Oh, Lady Kilenzie just said it was Dallas because she doesn't
like him. He once said she ran round like a hen with its head cut off,
and she heard about it. No, it wasn't Dallas.

  ROB: Who, then?

  JANET: How can anyone know who it was?

  ISHBEL: They have a good idea. It had to be someone who knew about the
conventicle in the first place.

  JANET: The whole countryside knew about the conventicle.

  ISHBEL: And it had to be someone who wanted Mr Kennedy to stop
preaching; and who would want that as much as his rival?

  ROB: His rival?

  ISHBEL: The man whose congregation Mr Kennedy stole away. Mr Pierse the

  JANET: (sharply) What nonsense. Mr Pierse is too busy with the cares
God put on his shoulders to go traipsing to Kilmichael with tales.

  ISHBEL: His grieve was in Kilmichael yesterday, though.

  ROB: And why shouldn't he be?

  ISHBEL: What took him all the way to Kilmichael? He's always got all he
needed in Dalmeath.

  ROB: Is that what you call evidence?

  JANET: It's what Covenanters call evidence. But let me tell you, if you
harm old Mr Pierse by as much as ham-stringing his horses I'll see to it
myself that every—

  ROB: Och, Janet, don't worry. Even Pat Kennedy's crowd wouldn't rabble
an old man. (Stirring the peats on the hearth) And talking of old men,
if Simon doesn't come soon, I know one old man who will have to carry in

  ISHBEL: I'll get you a peat.

   [She goes out, still eating and carrying her bit of bannock. As she
      reaches the outer door we hear her greet her cousin as he
      approaches the house.]

  ISHBEL: (off) Oh, there you are, Simon. We were wondering what had
become of you. You forgot to take in peats this morning.

  SIMON: (off) I'll take them in after supper. (He sounds either sulky
or brusque)

  ISHBEL: (off) Did you see Mr Kennedy a bit of the way? (She sounds
as if she is walking away to the house-end)

  SIMON: (approaching) No, I didn't.

   [His shadow appears on the floor of the passage and he comes in. He
      is about twenty; pleasant to look at, but somehow too adolescent
      for his years; and there is an odd suggestion about him that the
      immaturity may become permanent. The combination of his mother's
      intelligence with the lack of humour of his good stolid father has
      produced SIMON, who has the wit to absorb ideas, but not the wit
      to sift them out.

   [He casts a glance round as he comes in, but says nothing. He is
      heated but pale, as if worn-out with exertion and emotion. He
      dashes some water with the dipper into a basin, sets it on a
      stool, and washes both hands and face.]

  JANET: (into the silence) Is that what you feel?

  SIMON: (washing) What?

  JANET: A desire to get clean.

  SIMON: I'm hot. It has been the hottest day for ten years.
(Towelling) I am sorry about the peats.

  ROB: (conversationally) And how are you shaping with your pike?

  SIMON: (pausing) Who told you about the pikes?

  JANET: (ironing) Is there any secret about it?

  SIMON: (scornfully) No, I suppose nothing can be kept secret in this
country. But it doesn't matter. The time cannot be far off when we fight
for our liberty.

  JANET: Liberty to do what?

  SIMON: To worship God in our own way.

  JANET: (calmly ironing) No one is stopping you. No one has ever
stopped you from worshipping God any way you please.

  SIMON: We will have no minister who bows the knee to a bishop.

  JANET: You and your silly phrases. Old Mr Pierse has never bowed his
knee to any one. But if he bowed it three times daily what has that to
do with your worshipping your God?

  SIMON: If he bows his knee to a bishop he acknowledges a temporal head
of the Church. We will have no mortal as head of the Church in Scotland.

  ROB: (dryly) That must be a sad disappointment to Pat Kennedy.

  SIMON: Patrick Kennedy is a saint, who would rather live from hand to
mouth in the wilderness than live fat under a bishop's patronage.

  JANET: He does not do so badly under Lady Kilenzie's.

  SIMON: Mock if it pleases you, but Patrick Kennedy will light a torch
that will burn the chaff of prelacy out of the land and make it sweet
and clean, as it was in the days of the Covenants.

  JANET: The Covenants! Always the Covenants! As if they were something
God-given and holy. Instead of some very worldly and bargaining
documents that have little to do with Christian teaching and nothing at
all to do with freedom of worship.

  SIMON: That is blasphemy.

  JANET: So, according to you, is the Lord's Prayer. We are not likely to
agree on blasphemy, my son. But one thing admits of no argument. The
punishment for attending a conventicle is a fine; but for carrying arms
it is prison. And—

  SIMON: And you think I would not go singing to prison for my faith!

  JANET: No doubt; but it takes more than singing to work Barnharrow, and
who is to do it while you are bearing witness to your faith in Wigtown?

  SIMON: If the Lord calls me to be an instrument of his will, the Lord
will provide a substitute.

  ROB: It's to be hoped the substitute will have a better memory for the

   [Enter ISHBEL carrying a few peats tucked under her right arm and
      in her hand; her left hand still holds her 'piece'.]

  ISHBEL: There are two soldiers coming to the house. (The remark is
mildly excited but not alarmed. She has paused to deliver herself of the
news, and now moves over to the fireplace and bestows her peats behind
her grandfather's chair)

  JANET: Soldiers? Coming here?

   [SIMON has made an abrupt movement of alarm, but recovered himself.
      JANET puts her iron down in the hearth without haste and with
      apparent self-possession; soldiers, being the police force of the
      time, upset her no more than a police officer on the doorstep
      upsets a law-abiding citizen.]

  ISHBEL: Two soldiers with horses. They look as if they had come a long
way. They are walking the horses up the hill.

  JANET: (slightly puzzled) Have they come up from the road?

  ISHBEL: No, from over the moor, I think. Here they are.

   [There is the faint jingle of horse's bits, and an educated voice
      can be heard saying: 'You wait here, Bill.' A shadow appears on
      the passage floor, and there is a knock on the outer door. A voice
      says: 'Anyone at home?' and a SERGEANT appears at the inner

  SERGEANT: (to JANET) Good evening, ma'am. (To the others generally)
Good evening. Forgive me for intruding, but I wondered if we could water
our horses at your well. In this weather the moors are burnt dry, and we
have not been able to give the poor beasts drink since the morning.

  JANET: But of course, sergeant. With pleasure. And you will drink some
ale yourself, perhaps. You must be thirsty, and Barnharrow ale is

  SERGEANT: Thank you, ma'am, that is kind of you. I'll just tell Bill
about the horses. Shall we use the bucket that is there?

  JANET: The wooden one, if you please.

  SERGEANT: Very good, ma'am.

   [He goes out to his companion and JANET draws two jugs of ale from
      the cask. ISHBEL peers from the window at the soldiers; and
      SIMON with an elaborate air of unconcern takes a piece of bannock
      from under the cloth, and sits down at the table to eat it, facing
      the centre of the room, his back against the wall and his feet
      thrust out.]

  SIMON: (as the SERGEANT comes back; unable to hold his tongue;
taunting) Did you have to ask for the water?

  SERGEANT: (good-humoured) I thought it safer.

  SIMON: Safer!

  SERGEANT: Both from the point of view of good manners and good policy.
In this drought you might not have had it to spare. That's manners. And
if I took it without asking you might have made a complaint. That's

  SIMON: (sneering) And what good would come of our complaining?

  SERGEANT: No good at all, believe me. It took me ten years to get me
these stripes, but it would take only a couple of minutes to lose them.
(Accepting the ale from JANET) Thank you, ma'am; and thank you for the
beasts' drink.

  JANET: (handing the second jug to ISHBEL) Take that out to the
soldier, girl.

                                                        [Exit ISHBEL.]

  SERGEANT: Your good health, ma'am.

  JANET: Have you come far?

  SERGEANT: We have been out on patrol all day. (With a little grimace
of self-mockery) I used to think there was nothing worse than a wet day
on patrol; with the rain running down the back of your neck and your
saddle like a sponge. But after today, give me rain!

  ROB: Ay, the moor's no place for man nor beast with the sun beating
like a flail. Have you far to go yet?

   [The SERGEANT has another swig from the jug.]

  SERGEANT: We were on our way back to Kilmichael, but we got word that
there was business for us here.

  JANET: (in half-alarm) Here?

  SERGEANT: (tilting his head to an imaginary village in the valley) In
Dalmeath. This is wonderful stuff, ma'am. If this is ale, I can't think
what it is they give us in mess at Kilmichael.

  JANET: (smiling faintly) The commissariat brew, I suppose.

  SERGEANT: That's so, ma'am; and plaguey thin, tasteless stuff it is,
believe me.

   [Since JANET has seated herself, he has dropped in a tired way on
      the stool at the up side of the table and put his mug on the
      board; with the unexpected result that SIMON has leaped to his
      feet at his end of the table. The SERGEANT looks at him,

  SIMON: (with the passion of the over-wrought) I sit at table with no
minion of a persecuting tyranny!

  SERGEANT: (getting up easily; with a contemptuous good nature that
makes SIMON'S gesture ridiculous) Sit down, son. I'll stand.

  JANET: (smoothly) You must forgive my son. He reads too much.

  SERGEANT: (politely) Ah, well, it's a lonely country to be young in.
(To SIMON, conversationally) Where have you been today, lad?

  SIMON: (who has sat down again) To market. (He sounds sullen)

  SERGEANT: Oh. Sell anything?

  SIMON: I took nothing to sell.

  SERGEANT: Oh. Bought something.

  SIMON: (losing control again) If you are going to arrest me, why
don't you do it without all this play-acting!

  SERGEANT: (in genuine astonishment) Arrest you!

  SIMON: (defiant) You think you have a reason, don't you?

  SERGEANT: My good lad, if I were going to arrest you I'd need more than
a reason. I'd need a warrant. I'm the humble representative of law and
order in this country. The only people who are free to do as they please
to anyone at any time are the Covenanters.... Though we aim to put an
end to that, sooner or later.

  JANET: You have done much as it is, sergeant; and we are grateful.
Before the Government sent you down we were helpless. No one who went to
kirk was safe. Now the Covenanters may still rabble us, but not with
impunity. It was the impunity that hurt.

  SERGEANT: We'll do our best, ma'am. Prevention's not easy, with just
the little handful of us in this big territory, but we'll provide the

  ROB: Isn't it time you laid that madman by the heels?

  SERGEANT: Kennedy? High time, sir. But he was born in this district,
and knows it like his own palm. We'll get him, though, and that cache of
arms too.

  ROB: Has he arms?

  SERGEANT: Forty muskets from Flushing, and about a hundred pikes that
the smith at Monigaff made for him. And who do you think is teaching the
pike drill, but old Tim Gantry, home from the wars in the Low Countries.
I remember Tim when he was with the Scots Brigade in Steenvoorde. He
wouldn't know one end of a Bible from the other, but he dearly loved a
neat squad. It must be the breath of life to him to be putting them
through it.

  SIMON: If you know so much, why have you not arrested the smith and Tim

  SERGEANT: (eyeing him) In law there is a thing called evidence. And
information received is not evidence. One day, if we patrol long enough,
we'll catch them red-handed; and then Patrick Kennedy won't seduce the
youth of this country with his tongue any more. (He looks reflectively
at the liquid in his jug) They say there's nothing like drink to
bedevil a man's judgement; drink, or gambling. But it's a fair amazement
what two hours of hell-fire preaching will do to a man. It makes him
wild, and daft, and furious, and powerful-feeling, and he must do
something at once to show off that power. It takes him one of three
ways: love-making, arson, or murder. If there's no lass handy he sets
fire to some stacks; and if there are no stacks to hand, he remembers
his enemy and goes looking for him.

   [As his voice, very quiet and somewhat fateful in the last five
      words, dies away there is a moment's silence. It is broken by the
      sound of ISHBEL coming back.]

  SERGEANT: Well, it is time I was on my way.

  ISHBEL: That is a fine chestnut you have, sergeant.

  SERGEANT: Yes, she's a good mare, Betsy. She has only one fault.

  ISHBEL: What is that?

  SERGEANT: She is too conspicuous. Three miles away they say: Here comes
that Sergeant and his chestnut mare. Thank you again, ma'am, for your
hospitality. We get so many frowns in our day's work that it is pleasant
to have a welcome. (To ROB) When we catch Kennedy, sir, perhaps you'll
honour me by having a drink with me.

  ROB: I'll do that, sergeant.

  JANET: Are you staying long in Dalmeath?

  SERGEANT: Some time, I expect. Some of the troop are moving up here
from Kilmichael.

  JANET: It must be serious business, yours, to warrant that.

  SERGEANT: Very serious. They shot the minister this afternoon.

  JANET: What minister?

  SERGEANT: The minister at Dalmeath.

  JANET: Mr Pierse?

  SERGEANT: Yes, old Mr Pierse. Shot him dead. On his own doorstep.

  JANET: (almost speechless) Murdered!

  SERGEANT: Well, I understand they don't use that word.

  JANET: They?

  SERGEANT: The Covenanters. They call it execution. It seems they blamed
him for giving information about the conventicle.

  SIMON: And didn't he? (He means the tone to be defiant, but there is
an awful fear at the back of it)

  SERGEANT: (quietly; looking him full in the eye) No. (He holds his
look for a full three seconds, and then his glance goes on to the
others) They'll have to 'execute' someone else. Good-day, ma'am, and
thank you again.

                                                      [Exit SERGEANT.]

                                         [There is a stunned silence.]

  JANET: (slowly) Good old Mr Pierse. Murdered. And in cold blood.

  SIMON: (with sudden vehemence) It was not in cold blood! He came to
the door with a pistol in his hand! How was anyone to know that— (He
becomes aware of what he is saying and stops, but it is too late)

  JANET: (looking at him with horror; whispering) Simon! (She puts out
her hand to the table for support, subsides on to the stool, and with
her elbows on the table buries her face in her hands. In a despairing
cry) Will!... Oh, Will!

   [ROB begins to struggle into a standing position, preparatory to
      going to her, and ISHBEL stands looking in bewildered dismay
      from SIMON to her aunt as the curtain comes down.]


[The end of Barnharrow by Gordon Daviot]


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