LIBRARY

University of California,
BOUGHT WITH FUND GIVEN BY

SCOTTISH SOCIETIES OF CALIFORNIA.
Class

?°C]2>

The Queer Folk of Fife
Tales

from

the

Kingdom

BY

DAVID PRYDE,

M.A.,

LL.D.

AUTHOR OF "PLEASANT MEMORIES OF A BUSY LIFE" "THE HIGHWAYS OF LITERATFRE" "GREAT MEN IN EUROPEAN HISTORY," ETC.

GLASGOW

M ORISON BROTHERS
52

RENFIELD STREET
1897

CONTENTS.
PAGE

THE BREACH OF PROMISE,

9

HER DEAD
GOD
S

SELF,

.

33
.

OWN SCHOLAR,

52

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP, THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE,
.

84
123
167

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD,

THE BOY HERETIC,

198

HOW THE DEACON BECAME AN

ABSTAINER,

240

INTRODUCTION.
Fifty
years
ago,

the

little

burgh-town

of

Sandyriggs was led, what they themselves
life."

a sleepy place.

The
"

inhabitants

called,
in

So

little

stir

was there

an easy-osy the life of the

small shopkeeper or tradesman, that he might be

He grew and flourished where he had been born, and among his own schoolmates
said to " vegetate."

and

his parents' cronies,

who

still

called
"

him by
Johnny,"

the fond familiar

name

of his boyhood,

or " Jamie," or " Robby," as the

case might be.

and between during the day he the front shop and the back parlour. There was little competition, and very little anxiety about his trade. His customers were his friends, and
His place of business was part of his
;

home

oscillated comfortably

It he could rely implicitly on their support. happened, therefore, that even in what he called his busiest time, he had many intervals of leisure

during which he was at a loss what to do.

Of
hood.

a similar complexion

was the
in

life

of the

small farmers

who abounded
farmer,
it

the neighbour-

The

or

called, toiled,

is

true,

gudeman," as he was in the fields by the side
"

6

INTRODUCTION,
own
servants
;

of his

but he had

little

of the

endless anxiety of the
time.

husbandmen of the present
Lords and
it

In those halcyon days of Protection, he
especial care of the

was the

Commons
his

of Great Britain

and

Ireland.

They were
matter to

guardian angels.

What

did

him

though the drought burned up his turnips, and the drenching rains blackened his barley ? The prices rose at once to guard him against loss.
Consequently, after his day's
" darg,"

and when

he had exchanged his muddy boots for slippers, and taken his " four hours " of tea and buttered scones, he could sit down, snuff-box in hand and
free

from

care,

and take
fire.

his ease

by the
the

side of

the
like

blazing

kitchen

Thus

peasantry,

the townsfolk, had their intervals of leisure,

during which they were open for any entertain-

ment that might come before them. Now, the important question came
were these intervals There were no daily few books to satisfy Their minds were,
of leisure to be
their craving for

to be,
filled

How
up? and
feed

papers, few magazines,

knowledge.
to

therefore,

obliged
;

upon the gossip of the country side and so it came about that the gift of story-telling was cultivated, and that there were men and women

who were
district.

recognised as the chroniclers of

the

These were the public entertainers, and constantly called upon to use their gifts, were
especially for the delight of the young.

INTRODUCTION.

7

Two
of
"

of these chroniclers, a couple of the
I

name
be

of Steedman,

chanced to know. auld-farrant Scotch bodies
In

Better samples
"

could not

no other habitat than a quaint burgh like Sandyriggs could they have grown up. For many years they had "gathered gear" in a grocer's "shoppie," and had then retired on
imagined.
a competence.

They now

lived

in

a

cottage,

crooked, grey, and time-worn like themselves.
favourite niece waited

A

upon them,
kin,

for

they pre-

ferred, after the patriarchal fashion, to

be served

and not by the Their religion, too, was of the olden frem'd. type. They were Original Seceders, would not enter an Established Church, travelled miles to
their

by

own

kith

and

attend a Dissenting Chapel, believed every iota

of the Bible and the Confession of Faith, kept
the Sabbath strictly, abhorred novels as "parcels
lees," and looked upon food that had not been consecrated by a long grace as absolute
o*

poison.
it

Yet
be

their religion, straight-laced
called,

though

them what more fashionable religions sometimes fail to do for their It made them far more cheerful, and adherents. far more appreciative of the blessings of life. The snow of winter was on their head, but the warmth of summer was in their heart. A brighter, cantzer, and cosier pair could not be
might
did
for

seen.

They

delighted in

all

their surroundings

their work, their religious exercises, their pipe of

8

INTRODUCTION.
They

tobacco, and their nightly glass of toddy.
incidents of the Past,

were particularly fond of recalling the scenes and and as I was an appreciative listener, I was always a welcome guest, and in fact was invited to drop in upon them as often
as
I

could.

I write, the old couple are before me, one on each side of the hearth he, in a brown suit with a cloth cap covering his grey hair, and with a most intelligent countenance she, a tidy little body, with clean-cut features and with coloured ribbons in her cap he, recalling with unction some bygone event she, interpolating occasionally to add some little detail to complete and both radiant with pleasure, the narrative as if the light of other days were warming their hearts and brightening their faces. " What a blessing," he would say, " is a good memory one of the most precious gifts of God."

As

— —

After

the

fashion

of old people, they
did not object, as
incidents

often

repeated the stories which they had told

me
I

former occasions

;

but

I

on was
I

thus enabled to realise them more thoroughly.

Some
truthfully

of

the

scenes and
I

which

acquired in this way,

now proceed
I

to give as

and

clearly as

can.

or

UH

\

fY
J

THE BREACH OF PROMISE.
After
That
a long dearth of news, an event happened

to revive the interest of the gossips of Sandyriggs.

snug,

substantial

villa,

Townhead Lodge,
a
tenant,

which stood within a garden, large and sloping
to

the

south,

had got

at

last

a

Mr
a

Callendar,
son,

whose family consisted of a

wife,

and two daughters.

And what was most
all

interesting, there

was a mystery about them
from,

Where they had come
of their income, and
apart,

what was the source

why

they kept themselves

no one knew.
father

The
often

drove a gig of his

own and was
a recluse,
walls.

from home.

The mother was

and rarely ventured beyond her own
the one
elder
streets

But

who
of

attracted the most notice

was the
in

daughter,
the

who was frequently seen
town attended
girl

the

by her
or

brother.

She was a mere

of

sixteen

seventeen,

but she was exceedingly beautiful.

Regarding

io

THE QUEER FOLK OF FIFE.
I

her special charms,

never

could learn

much,
figure,

except that she had a straight and lissome

dark

hair,

clear

blue

eyes,

and a modest and
all

winning expression, and above
a sort of glamour about her

that she had

which bewitched
family altogether

everyone

who looked

at her.

The
at the

seemed so distinguished, and

same so mysteriall

ous, that the gossips of the

town were

agog

to

know more about them. But how was this knowledge to be got? The newcomers were
little

evidently bent on keeping themselves aloof, and

having as

to

do as possible with the
even
in

natives.

There was

difficulty

approaching them.
this
difficulty

The one who overcame
late minister's sister,

was the
as she

Miss MacGuffog, Miss Phemie."

or,

was familiarly

called, "

During the

lifetime of her brother,

who was

a bachelor, she

had taken a motherly interest and went out and
relation. in

in all the parishioners,

among them

like a

blood

After her brother's death, she kept up

the practice.
as a

Uncharitable people sneered at her
their

busybody; but they might have spared

sneers.
is

They might have known
It

that a

busybody

not necessarily bad.

was not

selfish curiosity,

but kindly interest that was her motive.

She was
friend.

not a scandalmonger, but a sympathetic

THE BREACH OF PROMISE.
her brother's parish, she was

n

Having a high idea of everything connected with
prepared to find
it.

good everywhere, and generally found
matter of course,
it

As

a

had been her custom to
order to give them

call

upon strangers
welcome.
that

in

a hearty

In this
to be
it

was

way she came to know all known about the Callendars and
;

as she held

to be selfish

and unneighbourly to

keep anything to herself, she freely communicated
her information to the town gossips afternoon
tea.

who met

over

The
as

information which she had gathered was
:

follows

— Mr

Callendar

was

a

partner
did

in

a

firm

of English
all

merchants who

a large

business

over the kingdom, and he had

come
Mrs
elder

to Scotland to establish a connection in Fife.

Callendar was somewhat of an invalid, and passed
the

most of her time

in

reading.

The

daughter, Phoebe, was evidently the pride of her
life.

" Isn't

she

handsome

and

graceful,"

the

mother had said as she fondly watched her going
out of the room, "and would she not look
at
It

home

in the highest

mansion

in

the land?"
to

was evident that they expected her
great marriage.

make

a

Meanwhile Miss Calendar's transcendent

love-

12

THE QUEER FOLK OF
was seriously
affecting the

FIFE.

liness

male population

of the village.

What was

afterwards called "the

Callendar fever" broke out

among

the bachelors,
fits

both old and young.
delirium

And
train a

during their
absurdly.
;

of

they

behaved

most

One
another
lines of
till

began laboriously to

moustache

shaved off his beard to show the
his
it

fine

face
fell

;

another allowed his hair to grow

in ringlets

on

his shoulders

;

while gouty
tuft

Major Mustard (half-pay) dyed the
chin, and, looking
I

on

his

into his mirror, said, "

Begad
of

don't

think that she can

refuse an

officer

the British

Army."
had
the

But the one who
town lawyer, and the
of Cowslip Brae.
poetical
;

epidemic

in

the

most aggravated form was Charles Raeburn, the
laird

of the small estate

Charles was

nothing

if

not

and

his

ravings about Miss Callendar

took the form of quotations from his favourite
bards.

He compared
Portia

her to Spenser's

Una, to
the

Shakespeare's
four

drawing suitors from
world,
to
to
Virgil's

quarters of

the

Venus

descending

upon

earth

fascinate

mankind.

One day (oh, ecstasy !) she came to make some inquiries for the
her father
;

into his office

information of
lost

but (oh, horror

!)

he

his

head,

THE BREACH OF PROMISE.
and gave the information
in

13

such an incoherent
difficulty in

manner

that she

had some

under-

standing him.

He
;

wished to appear to her as a

man
like

of genius

but he had conducted himself
All that he could do after
this,

an
to

idiot.

was

wander round her house on moonlight
like

nights,

a

silly

moth

(as

someone

said)

fluttering

round a

wax

candle, or like a forlorn

planet
a

(as

he

himself

said)

circling
his

round
cousin,

central

luminary.

At

length,

Dr Raeburn, thought
by
rating
that he

to bring

him

to his senses

him soundly and

telling

him

plainly

was "carrying on

like a lunatic."

And,

to the doctor's utter astonishment, Charles agreed

with him.

"Yes,"
right.
I

said

the

poor

fool,

"you

are

quite

am

a

lunatic
idea,

—a

monomaniac.
It

I'm

haunted by one

one image.

appears in
Position,

my
I

dreams.

It fills

my

waking hours.

friends,

relations,

are

dross compared

with her.
estate,

would rather have her than the largest

than a whole county, than a continent, than a
bright

new planet
it

all

to myself."

But

was

in

the church

on Sunday where

the hopeless infatuation the town was noticed.

of the young

men

of

During the whole of the

14

THE QUEER FOLK OF
their

FIFE.

service,
girl.

eyes were fixed upon this
pulpit,

young

Her pew was the

and she herself

was both the preacher and the sermon.
one

And

Sunday a strange phenomenon happened.
church, which was dingy and dark even at
to be lighted
this to

The

midsummer, appeared
mysterious way.

up

in

some

How came
the eyes

pass?

On

the previous Sunday, one of the

many

rivals, in

order to

attract

of

his

goddess, had

appeared

in white waistcoat and white necktie

and
suit.

all

the others had lost no time in following

How
all

did Miss Callendar conduct herself under
idolatry?

this

Most modestly.
streets

When
little

she

appeared on the

with

her

brother

by her
and

side, she saluted

everybody with a good-

natured smile.

She smiled on Major Mustard, She
also

set his well-worn heart palpitating.

smiled on Peter Samuel the mercer's apprentice,

when coming
asked
to
all

into

the

shop
;

unexpectedly she

see

some

gloves

and

when

Peter
the
still

shook
gloves,

over while he was

showing her

and answered confusedly, she smiled

more

sweetly.
" Bright as the sun her eyes all gazers strike,

And

like the

sun they shine on

all alike."

THE BREACH OF PROMISE.
One Sunday
there

15

appeared

in

the church a

stranger, like a being from another sphere.

That
an

he was an aristocrat was evident.
elegant
figure,
;

He had
and
"

clean-cut

features,

easy

manners

and, as Peter

Samuel remarked,
if

was

dressed up to the nines, and looked as

he had

come out of a bandbox."
regular
swell."

In

fact,

he was a

London-made
Nor was
of his
visit.

exquisite,

"a dandy," "a

there

any mistake about the
during the service his

object

All

eyes were fixed on Phoebe Callendar, the village
beauty.

That evening,
seen
indeed,

too, in the

Orchard Lane

he

was

walking

with

her.

Her

little

brother,

was

there.

But the exquisite,
society gives,
acquire,

with

that

ease

which

high

and
was
she

which

local

beaux
her
face

can

never

looking into

and

talking,

while
In
?

blushed

and

held

down

her head. she eloped

a few

days she disappeared.
riggs

Had

Sandy-

was
last

in

a ferment.
the

At

Miss Phemie MacGuffog solved

mystery.
heir to a

Miss Callendar's young lover was the

dukedom.

Her

parents, alarmed at the
it,

intimacy, and thoroughly disapproving of
sent her to a boarding-school in

had and
In a

England

;

she was never seen again in

Sandy riggs.

16

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.

few months the family gave up their house and
departed southwards.

The

one

who was most

affected

by

Miss

Callendar's departure was Charles Raeburn.

He
like

grew melancholy,

lost his appetite

and

his sleep,

and wandered about
the traveller,

like

a ghost.

He was
and

when

the moon, which has lightened

and

beautified

his

path

over

hill

dale,

suddenly goes down and leaves him to stumble

on

in

the dark.

In a short time he vanished

;

and when months elapsed without bringing any
intelligence

regarding him, his neighbours gave

him up

for lost.

A

few years passed, and the inhabitants had

almost forgotten the Callendars, when they were
startled

by a
to

short

paragraph
effect

in

the

county

newspaper,
Callendar

the

that

Miss

Phoebe
for

was

about

to

bring

an

action

breach of promise of marriage against the
of
talk
.

Duke
to

Here
!

was an
breach

interesting

subject

about

A
they

of

promise against a

duke by a former inhabitant of Sandyriggs, a
girl

whom
in

all

knew!

The whole

district

was

a flutter of excitement.
in

When

the

trial

came on
Chronicle

London, the editor of the County
special

employed a

correspondent

to

THE BREACH OF PROMISE.
give

17

a report of

it

;

and when the newspaper
trial

containing the account of the

arrived,

it

was

devoured

with

breathless

interest,

and handed

about from house to house.
After describing the appearance of the Court,

and naming the famous

barristers

and attorneys

employed on both

sides,

the

reporter went on

to say that the plaintiff, seated in a

prominent

place beside her legal advisers, was " the cynosure

of every

eye,"

and her

exquisite

beauty,

and
at

modest but melancholy expression, captivated

once not only the ordinary onlookers, but even
the gentlemen of the jury themselves.

"The Attorney-General
all

stated

her case

with
for
said,

that

romantic
is

and
'

touching

eloquence

which he
'was
a

famous.

The
the

plaintiff,'

he

young lady

of

greatest

personal

attractions.

When

first

she drew the attention
in in

of the defendant, she was living
at

retirement
Fife.

the small

town of Sandyriggs
girl,

She

was a mere

attending to her lessons under

the watchful care of her mother, and thinking of

nothing but her daily duties and her innocent

amusements.

She was, indeed, the

life

of her

parents' hearts, the idol of her

young companions,
village.

and the delight and pride of the whole

1

THE QUEER FOLK OF
this

FIFE.
last

But
this

golden age was not to

long

;

into

innocent paradise the serpent was soon to

find his

way.

The

defendant, then the Honourable

Algernon Colenutt, an Oxford student, happened
to be spending his vacation at a

mansion
this

in the

neighbourhood.

He

heard

of

charming

young creature
she was called,

— —and

this

beauty of Sandyriggs, as he resolved to see
her.
It

was no mere

idle

curiosity.

He was

one

of
is

those golden youths

who

think that everything

made

for their

amusement, that women especially

are but toys that

may

be played with

for

a time,

and then cast aside

for ever.'

"'On
there

a particular

Sunday

this

gay Lothario
His presence
;

attended the Sandyriggs

church.

was noticed by most of the congregation
it

and
were

was
and

particularly

remarked that
during

his

eyes

upon

Miss
that,

Callendar
in
fact,

the

whole

service,

he

was

completely

spellbound.
talking
to

Then

in

the evening he was seen

her in a lane near her
her,

own
it

house.

He

had waylaid

and

it

was then,

seems,

that he gained her affections.

By

such a lover
in

young, handsome,

aristocratic,

elegant

dress

and manners, polished
flattery

in

speech and adroit in

—was

it

surprising that the simple country

THE BREACH OF PROMISE.
maiden was won?
her troth to him
the poor
girl
;

19

Ere they parted she plighted
and, proud

of her conquest,

lost

no time

in

making her mother
you
very

her confidante/
"
'

Now, Gentlemen of the
be told by
defence,

Jury,

will

likely
for

my

learned brother, the counsel

the

that

Miss

Callendar's

parents

were

artful

schemers, using every device to entrap

an unwary nobleman.
soon as they heard

But what did they do as
of
this

courtship?

They
to

immediately

sent
in

their

daughter

away

a
to

boarding-school

England, and

afterwards

France, to be out of the

way

of this aristocratic

wooer.

They were

too sensible not to see that

such a connection would be unequal, and likely
to

prove dangerous

to

the happiness of

both

parties.

But

their

precautions were unavailing.

The defendant was
trived to to
find

not to be denied.

He

con-

out where his beloved

was, and
after after

continue the
to

correspondence

;

and

he
the
at

had succeeded
Callendars

the dukedom, and

had

settled

down
miles

in

England,
his

Woodhurst, about
castle,

sixty

from

ducal

his

attentions

became

more

assiduous.

He

visited

her at her father's house, and

sent

many

letters,

—some

of which

I

now

produce,

20

THE QUEER FOLK OF FIFE.
all

and

of which are

full

of the warmest pro-

testations
affection. for

and

the

most
the

endearing

terms

of

At

length

wedding
and

was
her

fixed

July,

and Miss Callendar

mother

set themselves to
tions.

make

all

the necessary prepara-

Up

to this time, there

had not been the and
to be

slightest hitch, the slightest misunderstanding,

the happiness of the
assured.

young couple seemed
the

But
the

ere

appointed

day

arrived,

what
to

was
in

consternation of

the

Callendars

read

the

newspaper
of

the

announcement
married
to

that the

Duke

had

been

Miss Fortescue Devlin.
believe

At
but

first

they could not
inquiry

the
it

statement

;

after

they

found that

was only too
I

true.

And, Gentlemen
to

of the Jury,

can only leave you
effect this

imagine

what a disastrous
had on

sudden perfidy has

my

client.
fair

Her
young

loving heart has been
life

broken, and her
blighted.'
"
'

has been for ever

I

believe that

my

learned brother

is

to take

up the bold and desperate position that these
facts

are

not true, and that the written
is

corre-

spondence

a forgery.

What

!

a young, timid,
deliberately

and unsophisticated

girl sitting

down

to forge, not one letter, but a

whole bundle of

THE BREACH OF PROMISE.
letters,

21

and doing

it

so accurately

that

she has

deceived those
defendant's
idea
is

who

are best acquainted with the

handwriting!
it is

Why, Gentlemen,
it is
! '

the

preposterous,

inconceivable,

wholly

and

absolutely ridiculous

(Derisive laughter,

which was immediately suppressed.)

"The Attorney-General then proceeded
sister

to call

witnesses in order to prove his statements.

The
house,

of the plaintiff told that she had seen the
at

defendant several times

her
sister,

father's

and

in the

company

of her

and mentioned

one occasion particularly, the 20th of May, which
she had good cause to remember, because
the
fair
it

was
of

day

at

the the

neighbouring

village

Woodhurst,

and

defendant
fairing.

presented

her

with a sovereign as a

The mother gave
letters in reply

evidence as to the receiving of the defendant's
letters,

and about her daughter's

being posted.

An

old clergyman,

who had been
former
pupil.

the defendant's tutor, swore that the handwriting

of

the

letters

was

that

of

his

These witnesses

were

severely

cross-examined,

but their evidence
shaken.

on the whole remained un-

"Then Mr
arose.

Ridley, the counsel

for

the

Duke,

He was

famous as a defender of abandoned

22

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.

criminals,

and generally as a cunning handler of
It

the most desperate cases.

was no uncommon
browbeat

thing for him

to

bully witnesses, and

even the judge himself.

Everybody, therefore,
him, but few

expected strong statements from

were prepared for the merciless terms which he

now
1

used.

Standing up, and looking round with
air,

a confident, triumphant

he began his speech.
said,
'

The Attorney-General/ he

in

referring to

the ground which was to be taken
defence, had scouted

up
a

for the

the idea of such

young
But
the
as

and delicate creature perpetrating

forgery.
in

my

learned

friend

ought to know that

history of crime there have been
delicate

young

girls

and

as refined as the plaintiff,

who have
I

been

guilty

of

this

heinous

offence.

have

only to refer to the cases of Elizabeth Canning

and Mary Glen.
the learned
assert,
plaintiff,

In

spite,

therefore,
said,

of
I

what

Attorney-General has

now
the
looks,

and

am

prepared

to

prove,
as

that

guileless

and
of

modest
the

she

has perpetrated

one

most

daring

and

elaborate forgeries in
history.'

the whole of our criminal

"At

this assertion, uttered

in

a slow, distinct,

and severe tone, Miss Callendar burst into tears,

THE BREACH OF PROMISE.
and was so completely overcome that she had
leave the Court.

23

to

Cries of 'Shame, shame/ were

hurled at the

head

of the

counsel.

But

he,

nothing

abashed,

looked
with

round

defiantly,

and

repeated the

phrase
in

greater

incisiveness

and went on

the

same remorseless way

to

maintain that his client had scarcely ever seen

Miss Callendar, had scarcely ever spoken to her,

had scarcely ever written to
never

her,

and had certainly
marriage.

made

any

promise

of

The
all

audience

glanced occasionally at the Attorneyflat

General to see what effect this
his

denial of
;

assertions

would have upon
if

him

but

he

remained quite calm, just as

nothing unusual

had been
"

said.

Mr

Ridley then proceeded to
in

examine
style
;

his

witnesses

the

same peremptory

and
bit of

ever as he drew from

them some important

evidence, he gave a triumphant look at the jury,
as

much

as to say,
I

'

What do you
you true ?
'

think of that

?

Wasn't what
to

told

One was made
seen
title

confess

that

the

defendant had never

Miss Callendar since his accession to the
another, that the
letters

which had
as to

been

read

swarmed with
fact
;

ridiculous errors

matter of

and

another,

that

the

handwriting

was

24
totally

THE QUEER FOLK OF
unlike
that

FIFE.

of

the

defendant.

These
care

witnesses

were

cross-examined,

but

took
this,

not to contradict themselves.
Callendar's partisans, of

At

all

Miss

whom

there were

many
even
all

amongst the audience, were puzzled
confounded
relatives,
'

and

;

but an audible whisper, they are

and have got up the story/ restored
It

their

confidence.

was evident,

too, that the

Attorney;

General

felt

that something

was wrong

because

he turned round to talk with the agent.

But the

audience was again perplexed by what followed.
"

An

innkeeper from Welldon,

fifty

miles from In

Woodhurst, was put into the box.
to

answer
the

examination,
of
;

he
that

said,

'

that

he

knew

Duke
was

on the 20th of May, the

day of Woodhurst
said

Fair,

and the day when he
at
in
;

to

have

been
arrived

the house

of

the

plaintiff,

the
to

Duke

a post-chaise on

his

way

Market Bruton
this, for

that there could be

no mistake about
for

here were the receipts
these
receipts

the post horses.'

And

were

handed to the jury to examine.
"

But the most

startling

bit

of evidence was

yet to come.

A

young lady entered the witness-

box, kissed the Book, and was subjected to the
following questioning
:

(Q.)

You

are Miss

Iron-

THE BREACH OF PROMISE.
side?
(A.)
I
I

25
?

(A.) Yes.
do.

(0.)

You You know
(Q.)

live

at

Woodhurst

the plaintiff?
a ball
(Q.)

(A.)

do.

(Q.)

You remember
(A.)
I

taking place
the

at

Lyndcaster?

do.
in

What was

date?
(Q.)

(A.) Last

year,

the

month of

April.

Who
In

went with you to the ball?
(Q.)

(A.) Miss
?

Phoebe Callendar.
{A.)
(<20

How
red

was she dressed
rose that
{A.)
in

white,

with

one

her hair.

Was
.

there

any

person

she

wished

particularly to see at the ball?

The Duke
that?
letter.

of

(Q.)

How
(Q.)

did you

know
that
(A.)

(A.)

She
you

told

me.
the
it?

Look

at

Do
(Q.)

know Whose is
to

handwriting?
(A.) Miss

Yes.
(0.)

Calendar's.

You
the

are sure?

(A.)

Quite sure.
jury,

Then Mr
he would

Ridley,

turning
letter,

the

said
:

read

which was as follows

"'April
"
'

18.

My dear Lord
You

Duke,
are,
I

I

hope that you

will

excuse
for

a stranger giving you a bit of information which

may be

your advantage.
to

understand, going to the public

ball at Lyndcaster.

Well, you will see there a young lady

your heart some years ago, and who has remained constant to you ever since. She is more graceful and beautiful than ever, and fit to be the bride of a prince.

whom

you

lost

You

will recognise

her at once, for she will be dressed in

white, with a red rose stuck in her raven hair.

I

am,

my

dear Lord Duke, your sincere well-wisher.

C

26
"

THE QUEER FOLK OF
This
letter
fell

FIFE.
like

upon
But

the

audience

a

bombshell, and created the greatest excitement

and consternation.
whispers of
that the
'

it
'

was evident from the

got up/ and

bribed by the relations,'

audience had not even yet

given

up

Miss

Callendar.

And

they
the

were

very

much

relieved
rise.

when they saw

Attorney-General
to put a stop to

He
for

was evidently going

this

wholesale slander and forgery.
their

Alas,

how-

ever,

hopes

!

Instead of hearing him

expose the evidence that was being given, they

make an admission seldom been made in a court
heard him
perfectly
this
letter

that

has very
In
a

of

law.

calm voice and manner he said

that

had come upon them as a and

surprise,

that they had neither the time nor the

means of
therefore,

throwing any light upon

it,

that,

with the concurrence of his learned friends, the
attorneys for the plaintiff, he
to

now begged
be
;

leave
cir-

withdraw from the contest.
the
plaintiff

Under these

cumstances

would

non-suited.

Accordingly the case was dismissed

the letter

was

impounded
be

in

order
for

that

Miss Callendar
;

might

indicted

conspiracy

and

the

audience dispersed
ment.

amid

murmurs of

astonish-

But

it

was noted that while the elder

THE BREACH OF PROMISE.
members of the crowd muttered

27

their detestation

of Miss Callendar's shameless forgery, the young

men were " What

louder than ever in their admiration."
a fascinating girl she

must

be,"

said

one, " to be able to take in the sharpest attorneys

and the most learned counsel
a clever
little

at the bar

!

what

witch
cried

"
!

"By

Jove,"

another,

in

a strong

Irish

accent, "she's

too good for a duke's wife.

She

ought to be a queen.

She

is

a queen, the queen

of love and beauty, and should be classed with

Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, and Mary Queen of
Scots
;

and, bedad,

it's

meself that should loike
or Bothwell."
in

to be Paris or

Antony

Next morning a note appeared

one of the

London newspapers
but

stating that

Miss Callendar

had been apprehended on a charge of forgery
it

was not

true.

She had vanished, and no

one knew where she was.

Imagine
after
this

the

excitement

now

in
!

Sandyriggs

report

had

been read

The town
Whispers

became

a fermenting vat of scandal.
as fast as

swarmed

gnats in August, and, like

gnats, they flew abroad

and buzzed

in

the ears

of the public.

The
at

case was discussed at every

shop-counter,

every tea-table, at every street

28

THE QUEER FOLK OF
in

FIFE.
every turnip

corner,
field.

every

public-house,

on

People
before,

who had
exclaimed
a
to

never spoken to
as

each

other
other,

they

passed

each
it

"Isn't this

dreadful
find

affair?"

And

was

astonishing
nay,

that

everyone
a

had

foreseen,

had hinted

such

catastrophe.

So many people pose
fact!

as true prophets after the

Even Miss Phemie MacGuffog was
that

forced to

forego her usual charitable views, and to confess the poor unfortunate girl had been
training.
her.

ruined
said,

by her
was

Every circumstance, she

against

Her
mother,

father

was

a

worldly

man, engrossed with money-making, and seldom
at

home.

Her
to

a

silly

woman, was
and neglected
a world of

abandoned

romance

reading,

her everyday duties, and lived
unreality.

in

The poor
be
clever

girl

herself

got no solid
told

education.
her,

She had no need, her mother
or
far

to

accomplished.
better,

She
would

was
un-

lovely,

which

was

and

doubtedly make a grand match and be a
lady.

titled

To

look

handsome,

and
that

graceful,

and

fascinating, therefore,

was

all

she required
of

to

do.

And

the

despatching

her

to

a
in

boarding-school,

and

then to the Continent,

THE BREACH OF PROMISE.
order to escape her
aristocratic

29

admirer, was a

mere

device.

She was sent
she
afterwards

to a boarding estab-

lishment near Oxford because he was a student
there,

and

went

to

France

to

continue
there.

her

education

because

he
told at

had
that

gone
the these

And

Miss

Phemie

was

education
places

which

she

received

both

was of the

flimsiest kind,

being limited to

the singing of one or two songs, the

hammering

out on the piano of one or two classical pieces,

and the copying of one or two drawings.
most
of
the
pupils'

The
was

time

and

attention

devoted to talking about
balls,

fine dresses,
"

equipages,

and

aristocratic

admirers.

In fact," con-

cluded Miss Phemie, "they were evidently taught
to look

upon the world, not as a sphere of duty
cookie shine?
still

and labour, but as a big

The worthy people of Sandyriggs were
discussing this strange catastrophe,
surprise claimed their notice.

when a new
came
His

Intelligence

regarding
cousin,

the long-lost
doctor,

Charles

Raeburn.

the

received

a letter from him,

bearing the postmark of a town in Spain, and

empowering him
mit the
price.

to sell Cowslip Brae

and

trans-

Before the gossips had ceased to

puzzle their brains over this extraordinary sacrifice,

30

THE QUEER FOLK OF
In the
frankest

FIFE.

another letter arrived and explained the whole
mystery.

and most

straight-

forward language, Charles Raeburn told his cousin
the following romantic tale
" I
felt
:

that

I

could not remain in Sandyriggs

after
I

the object of

my

adoration had gone.
to

So

followed her to

Oxford and

France, and

back again to England, and was present at the
trial.

From my
terrible

professional

experience

I

very

soon saw how judgment was

likely to go,

and

what a
of
the

fate

was hanging over the head
girl.

unfortunate
merciless
I

So,

when stung by
left

Ridley's

language, she

the

Court

abruptly,

followed her, and in presence of her

mother

told

her

that

the

verdict

was
it

almost

certain to be against her,

and

that, if

were

so,

she would be apprehended for forgery.
she stood aghast and
I

While

dumb

at

this

intelligence,
it.

offered

my

assistance,

and they accepted
hotel,

I

went with them
bill,

at

once to their

paid

their

packed
for

their
flight.

luggage, and had every-

thing ready

As soon

as

the

result

which
off,
I

I

had anticipated was announced, we were

and by next morning were on the Continent.
took

rooms
for

for

them

in
far

this
off,

town, and a

lodging

myself not

and

here

we

THE BREACH OF PROMISE.
remained
done.
"
till

31

we could

see

what ought

to

be

One morning, Miss Callendar
she wanted she told
to

sent
I

to

say-

that
her,

see me.

When

went

to

me

with tears in her lovely eyes

that
in

her mother must go back to her husband
herself

England, but that she
;

must remain
?

abroad

and what could she do
I,

to earn her bread

Would
her?

the only

friend
I

she

now

had, advise
as

What
life.

could

do

but

offer,

her

husband, to protect and cherish her for the rest
of her
that

She

started back in horror, declared

she was a criminal, a felon, a forger
in prison,

who
to be

ought to be

and

utterly

unworthy

the wife of an honest man, and that she would

not bring disgrace on one

whom

she esteemed so

much,

whom —and
bitterly.

here she gave

way and
:

cried

most

Then

there flashed through

my

brain and heart Spenser's exquisite lines
"
'

Nought is there under heav'n's wide hollownesse That moves more deare compassion of mind Than beautie brought t' unworthy wretchednesse Through envy's snares, or fortune's freaks unkind.
I,

whether lately through her brightnesse blind,

Or through alleageance and fast fealtie, Which I do owe unto all womankind,
Feele

my hart
such
I

perst with so great agony,

When

see, that all for pity I could die.

32
"

THE QUEER FOLK OF
These
were
the

FIFE.
that

very
I

feelings

were

thrilling

through me.

lost control

of myself.

Dropping down on
hand,
said
I

I

poured

my knees and seizing her What I out my whole soul.
;

cannot
to

recall

but at last she reluctantly

consented

marry

me,

on

condition

that

I

would do

my

very best to teach her to be a
dutiful
wife.

good woman and a
hearted
darling,

Poor brokenagainst

she

was

more sinned
really to

than sinning.
her

The persons
father

blame were

mercenary

and

her

novel-reading

mother,

who

neglected her education, and that
aristocrat

hollow-hearted
innocence.

who

trifled
it
is,

with
to see

her

And most

touching

is

how

humble and yet how loving she
face
is
still

and how her
smiles.'

'combating with tears and
to

If she

is

not

be forgiven, there can be no

such thing as forgiveness on earth.
that
her,
I I

have done what

is

right.

am Away
I

sure

from

would
I

have

been

in

outer

darkness.

Beside her,

am

in Paradise."

HER DEAD
The
narrative which
at
I

SELF.
about to give was a
firesides

am

prime favourite
parish.
it

the winter

of

the

Its chief incident is so extraordinary, that

has often been scouted as an
it

improbability.

But

is

literally true, as

may

be ascertained by
to

those

who
the

will

take

the

trouble

investigate

the chronicles of the period.
In
early

years
in

of the

present

century,
Alister
five

the principal

baker

Sandyriggs
son,

was

Gow.
Marjory,

He

had

one
four

Donald,

and

daughters.

The
and

elder girls,

Flora,

Ellen,

Nora,

were

good-looking,
;

with

bright complexions and red cheeks

the youngest,
features

Mysie,

was

plain,

with
four

irregular

and

dingy colour.

The
"

soon found husbands,

thriving tradesmen in the place,

what
but

was
no

called

a
to

good
court
to

setting

who gave them down "
and

;

one
at

came

Mysie,

she

remained

home

to

attend

the comfort of

34

THE QUEER FOLK OF
parents,

FIFE.
take

her

and

specially

to

charge

of

the shop.
"

And when
when

are you gaun

aff,

Mysie," said old

Wull Spears, the most impudent
parish, "

man

in

the

are

you gaun
"
?

to be

knocked doon

to the highest bidder
"

Oh

!

"

said

Mysie,
"

in

the

bright
;

manner
there's

peculiar to her,

I'm no in the market
like me."
"

nae demand
" I

for

gudes

wadna wonder," continued Wull,
to be an auld maid."

that ye're

gaun
"

And what for no ? "
years
rolled

replied Mysie.

"

Maids, like

Scotch whisky, improve by growin' auld."

The

by

and
sisters,

brought

changes.

While Mysie's married
ceaseless
rearing,

harassed by the

worries

of

housekeeping

and

child-

became more and more careworn, Mysie
and willing
for
all

herself, able

her duties, grew

cantier

and cantier every day.

While they began
though
practical

to lose their
plainness.

good

looks,
is,

she began to lose her
that she

The
she
;

truth

was,

probably

did

not
in

know
and

it,

a

philosopher

and

a business-like

manner she
of

weighed the
her
"
lot.

advantages

disadvantages

What have

I

kept," she said to herself, "

by

HER DEAD
remaining
single
?

SELF.
health,

35

Good

good

spirits,

home
friends

comforts,

congenial

employment, pleasant
have
?

and neighbours.
!

And what
is

I

lost

?

A
but

husband

And what

a husband

A

pig

in a poke, a lottery ticket that
is

may

take a prize
If I'm not

far

more
I

likely to get a blank.

happy now,

never deserve to be."

So she

resolved to keep a contented mind, to

dwell on the blessings she had, and not on those

which she had

not, to

make

the most of her
in

life,

and to

find

something good
all

everything.

She

was cheerful under

circumstances, and had a
all

smile and a kind word for

her fellow-creatures.
it,

As

the old people expressed

"

she was every-

body's body."

However

dull

and cheerless the
of
the

weather might be in the
there

streets
in

town,

was always sunshine

the baker's

shop

at the corner of

Water Lane.

And
tell

this

genial,

kindly disposition soon began to

upon her
her com-

own
(as

appearance.

It

actually cleared

plexion, brightened her eyes,

and made her look
"

an old

woman remarked)

halesome, wicelike,

and bonny."
truth of the
is

She became a walking proof of the
proverb that " a kindly disposition

the best cosmetic."

And

thus

it

happened, that

not only old people and children were attracted

36

THE QUEER FOLK OF
her,

FIFE.

by

but even wooers

;

and among them came

(wonderful to relate) the dandy draper, the
killer,

womanof
his

the gay Lothario of the town.

This was

Bob

Dallas.

The worship

mother and

sisters
;

had convinced him that he
"

was an Adonis
village

and the bright smiles of the
this
belief.

maidens had confirmed

A'

the lasses," his sisters would remark
"

to a friend,

are in love wi' oor

Bob

;

"

and

his

her strong idiomatic Scotch, would

add —

mother,
"

in

Toots,

ye ken,

they'll

no

lie

aff 'im."

Accordingly, he

wore on

his

countenance a constant

smirk
as
if

of
to

satisfaction, and he entered a

company
captivate,

the

tune,

"

See the

Conquering

Hero comes."
not
it.

He
sue,

sought female society to
to

to

receive
girl

admiration,

not to give

A
for

pretty

was a plaything to be taken up

a short time,
else.

and then changed

for

something

Some

people called this conduct cruelty;
it

but he thought

kindness,

A

smile from him,

he believed, was a favour which every

woman

would
It

prize.

was

this

notorious

flirt

that

now

fixed his

eye upon Mysie.

She was
but

different

from

the

pink-and-white damsels with

whom
was

he had been
very
differ-

accustomed to

trifle

;

it

this

HER DEAD
ence that fascinated him.
her
attention "
at

SELF.

37
"

He

began to
to

show
walk

every opportunity,

home

with her from church, and to go frequently

to her shop in the evening.

At
if

first,

Mysie was

surprised

and not a

little

amused.

She joked
hate

with him, telling him that

he was often seen

with

her his

many

admirers

would

her,

and, what would be more dreadful, his reputation
as

a judge of

female

beauty would
after

be

gone.

And

when,

one

evening

the

shop

was

closed,

he actually went

the

length of

asking

her to be his wife, she laughed outright in his
face,

and told him that he didn't know
tire

his

own

mind, that he would
in a fortnight,

of her plain

features

and that she could never be any
sincere well-wisher.

more

to

him than a

But when,

like a spoilt child

unaccustomed to
about the

be balked, he
streets

sulked

and

mooned

with a pale and

miserable face, and at
letter,

the end of a few weeks sent her a frenzied

vowing that

if

he could not win her he would
in

drown himself

the loch, she

relented.

She
in

was too charitable

to believe that he

was not

dead earnest, and what could she do but ask

him

to call

upon her?

And

when, dropping on

his knees,

he shed tears and vowed that she was

38

THE QUEER FOLK OF
love, she yielded

FIFE.

the only one he had ever loved, the only one he

would ever
his wife.

and promised

to be

Mysie was now happier than

ever.

Though
exclusive

she had been quite content to remain single, she

was

delighted

to

have

gained

the

devotion of a man.
to fight the battle of

Though
life,

well able
felt

by

herself

she

that her happi-

ness

would

be

made more
side

sure

by
she

having
could

constantly by
call

her

one
self.

whom

her own, her other

There was also a

special eclat in

having won the prize which so

many had

in vain

competed

for.

"My
wife,

certie,"

said

Mrs

Patullo,
in

the

minister's

when she looked
her
"

at

the

shop,
to

along
con-

with

husband and her son Tom,

gratulate her,

my

certie

!

it's

something to have

killed the Lady-killer."
"

Yes

!

Mysie," said

the

minister,

"

you have

caught and tamed the roving zebra of the desert,

who

has hitherto been thought untamable."

"Ay," added Master Tom, who had contracted
the abominable habit of punning,

"and you are
marriage

now going
Mysie

to lead

him

to the halter!'
for her
in.

set

about preparing

a business-like way.

Very

little

time was spent

HER DEAD
in
for

SELF.
early

39

billing

and cooing.

An

day was

fixed

the ceremony.

A

small

house was

taken,

and suitable furniture ordered.
might have her trousseau ready
in her cousin, Bessie

And

that

she

in time, she called

Gayley, to assist her.

Bessie

was a good-looking, bright damsel, ready with her
tongue, with her wits, and with her hands,
to anything, equal to

any emergency.

up She made
in

herself generally useful

and agreeable, helped

the house and in the shop, and

when Mysie was

specially occupied of an evening, entertained

Bob
for

with her chit-chat.
It

was

just

two days before the date fixed

the wedding.

Mysie had closed the shop, and
back parlour.

was

sitting in the

She was
in

alone,

for her

father

and mother were

the

kitchen,

and Bessie and Bob had gone out on some errand
of their own.

She

felt

rather depressed,
her,

—a

state

which was very unusual with
could not account
for.

and which she

In a short time she heard
in.

Bob and

Bessie

come

Then

there occurred a

few awful moments which she never forgot for
the rest of her
throb.
life,

and which made her heart

First, there

was an earnest whispering

in

the passage, then a strange silence, and at last the

door opened.

She rose

instinctively to her feet,

40
for she

THE QUEER FOLK OF
saw by
their

FIFE.

faces

that

some calamity

had happened.

"What
you
tell

is

it?"
"

she exclaimed.

"Why

don't

me ?

Bessie looked at

Bob
but
I

as

if

urging him to speak,
said,
it.

and Bob, blushing and stammering,
very sorry, Mysie
;

"
I

I'm
like

I

can't

help

you very much, but

don't feel towards

you as

a husband should do.

The

fact

is

that Bessie
for

and

I

have discovered that we were made

each other."

Mysie stared
that
it

at

them

for a

moment, thinking
;

might possibly be a joke
it

but their guilty
reality.

looks showed that

was a stern

Clutchall

ing the back of her chair, and mustering

her

natural strength of character, she said, in a voice

preternaturally calm
"

:

So,

Mr

Dallas,

you have found out that you
!

can't give
I'll

me
to

the affection of a husband

Well,
rate
for

manage
you

do without

it

;

and

at

any

I'm glad that you have told
you,
I'll

me
form

in time.

As

serpent
to

in

the

of

a

woman,

leave you

the punishment of your
if

own
such

conscience.

And

you

have
it

not
will

got

an article, as seems very likely,

be punish-

ment enough

to be tethered for

life

to that fickle

HER DEAD
fool

SELF.

41

that

stands beside

you."

So

saying,

she

passed out of the room, leaving the pair standing
with guilt-stricken countenances.
It is well

known
sick

that the lower animals often

attack and even torment one of their

own kind

when he

is

or

wounded.

A

good deal of

this bestial habit still lingers

among men.
not

When
perhaps,

distress falls

upon

us,

our friends often aggravate

that

distress.

They
it,

do
but

know,
they do

that they are doing

still

it.

Had
sense

Mysie been

left

to herself, her

own good
her
up,

and courage would have

buoyed

and
foot.

enabled her to trample her sorrow under

But when she went abroad, people would not
allow her to
forget

that

sorrow.
her.

Those

were her friends condoled with

who Those who
felt

were not her friends stared at

her.

She

that

the town was in a buzz about her
at

affairs.

And
fallen

home
the

the tormenting process was even worse.
slight that

Her mother bemoaned the
on
family.

had

Her

brother
features

breathed

forth

threatenings against the
the culprit.
raising

and limbs

of

Her

father talked incessantly about
for

an action

breach of promise.

In vain

she told her mother and brother that they would
best keep

up the family honour, not by bewailings

42

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.
if

and threatenings, but by looking as

they thought

the rupture of the engagement a blessed release.

In vain she told her father that legal proceedings

were not to be thought

of,

and that while they

might be a punishment to Dallas, they would
be a
far greater

punishment to

herself.

Morning,

noon, and night, the worrying went on.

At

length her

highly-strung

nervous system,
all

which had buoyed her up above
troubles, fairly broke

her other

down.
her

She

lost the

power
strange

of sleeping.

She

lost

appetite.

A

nausea took possession of her, and

everything

grew

distasteful,

and

life

itself

became
been

an
the

intolerable

burden.

From

having

embodiment of happy good-nature, she changed
into

a woe-begone hypochondriac.

And

people

unknowingly aggravated her disease by expressing
astonishment at her altered appearance, by telling
her
forth

that

she

looked very

ill,

and by bursting

afresh into recriminations against the

man

that had jilted her.

Then

there

came a morning
a note upon

when her room was found empty, and

the dressing-table told her parents that she could

bear the atmosphere of Sandyriggs no longer, and
that she
her,

was

off to a place

where no one knew

and where she would have perfect peace.

HER DEAD
Blank
consternation

SELF.

43

fell
little,

upon

the

family.

When
of
to
all

they recovered a

the brother swore

that he would go
their

and smash Dallas, the author

woe

;

and the mother's impulse was
and
advice

run

abroad and get sympathy

from her neighbours.

But the

father,

with far
insisted

more

tact

and knowledge of the world,
first

that the

thing to be done at

all

hazards,

was to prevent any scandal.
their

They must not of own accord say anything about the matter,
any question should be asked, they must
gone
to

and

if

answer that she had
complete
find her.
rest.

a

friend's

for

a
to

Meanwhile

they

must

try

This was no easy task.
they
could
getting

The very
it

fact that

not

talk

about

prevented them
the
outside
brother,

from
world.

any assistance from
two
or

For

three

days

the

Donald, under pretence
calls,

of paying ceremonious
all

made
villages

the round of
in

their intimate friends

and
and
out,

relatives
;

the

neighbouring farm towns

but every night he returned worn-

and with a despairing shake of the head

intimated that he had got no trace of the lost
one.

Then

there flashed into the father's

mind the

44

THE QUEER FOLK OF FIFE.
in

thought that she would likely be

Edinburgh
to

and he wondered that

it

had never occurred

him
place

before.

Why,

a large town was the very
at

where a person, sick of being stared
inquisitive neighbours,

and worried by
rest
;

would
in

find

and
she

they had

a

cousin
likely

there
get

whose

house

would
the
the

very
father

a
set

lodging.

Accordingly,
once,

and

son

out

at

crossed
to

Firth in

the ferry-boat

from

Pettycur

Leith,

and then walked up Leith

Walk

to Edinburgh.

They went

to the cousin's

address in Broughton Street, but found that she

had moved
neighbours

at

the last term, and
tell

none of the had
gone.
at

could

where

she

Wearied out and disheartened, they put up
a
hotel
at

Greenside, where they both
restless night.

passed

an anxious and a

Next morning, for want of a better plan, they
resolved to look for Mysie in the thoroughfares, the father taking the

New Town and
day
in

the brother
old

taking the Old Town.

The unhappy
in

man
the

spent

most
the

of

the

wandering up and
vain

down
those

streets,

looking

amid

throng of strange and unsympathetic faces for
familiar

kindly

eyes

that had

been the

light of his

home.

Jaded and perplexed, he had

HER DEAD
returned
to
his

SELF.
the

45

hotel

in

early afternoon,

when the
confidence

landlord,

whom

he had taken into his
laid

the night

before,

the advertise-

ment sheet of a newspaper before him, and pointed
to a paragraph

headed
it,

"

Found Drowned."
and to
his
his horror
lost

He
saw

glanced rapidly over
that
it

was a description of

daughter.

There could be no mistake.
plexion, the features, the hair,

The
all

age, the

com-

corresponded.

Like

one

stunned by a heavy blow on the

head, the old

man

sat

still

for

a moment.

Then,
fear,

driven by a feeling

made up
traffic

of hope and

he hurried to the police
all

office in the

High

Street,

unconscious of the

that rumbled

and

buzzed around him.

In a short time he found

himself in the death-chamber, in presence of a
prostrate
still

and shrouded form, lying so
;

terribly

and quiet

and

in

another second the facehis
stiff

cloth

was

removed,

and
the

worst

fears

were

realised.

Yes

!

in

waxen

mask he

recognised that countenance which had so lately

been the joy of everyone

He
till

stood gazing at
his
it

it

who looked upon it. like a man in a trance,
found
vent
in
tears.

pent-up

feelings

Then

was that there occurred a most extra-

ordinary circumstance

— what

would be deemed

46
incredible,

THE QUEER FOLK OF
were
it

FIFE.
for

not

vouched

by

the
and,

chroniclers of the time.
in

The door opened,
son,

company with

his

there

appeared

the

very

woman whose
forward,

fate

he was bewailing and
gazing
upon.

whose dead form

he

was
face

She

came
"

and her

took on a look of

intense surprise at

what she saw.
exclaimed,
"

Father

"
!

she

what's

wrang

wi'

ye?
it

be
!

And me ?

what's this? mercy!

what's this?
like,

can

No

!

and yet

it's

awfu'

but,

no

no

Father, that's no'

me

!

this is me."

And
own

she took both his hands and kissed him, and in
this

way convinced him
this

that

she was his

daughter.

And who was
double?

dead

woman

that

was Mysie's

The

question was never answered.

She

went

to a pauper's grave unclaimed

by anyone.

And how had Mysie
the critical
brother.

chanced to arrive just at

moment?

This was explained by the

On

returning to the hotel, Donald had

seen the advertisement, and had surmised where
his

father

had gone.

Hurrying up the North
sister,

Bridge, he

saw
meet

his

whom
her

he had been
office,

picturing as a corpse lying at the police

coming
manner.

to

him

in

usual
like

dress

and
in

For an instant he

felt

one

a

HER DEAD
dream.

SELF.
be
she?
in

47

Could

it

really

His

next

thought

was

that

she had

been

some way

brought back to
relieve their fears

life,
;

and was hurrying down to

and when he heard that she
the police
office,

had never been

in

he told her

about the advertisement, and the two together

made
face,

all

haste to see their father.
for

Mysie stood

some time gazing
for

at the

dead

and

feeling

that

poor young creature,

who was
she

so like her, a sort of kinship.

And

as

gazed,

she
her

read

herself
trouble,

a

severe

lesson.

What was
trasted with
this

own

she thought, con-

the terrible fate that

had befallen

unknown one ? A small trouble indeed cast off by a man who had proved himself Not a trouble at all, but a unworthy of her

To be

!

blessed

relief!

And

as

these thoughts

passed

through her mind, her

spirit rose

with a sudden

impulse and threw off the incubus of melancholy
that

had so long weighed
leaving,

it

down
her

;

and
dead

she
self

came away,
behind
her.

as

it

were,

And

when,
till

after staying for a

month
by

with her

cousin,

the

sensation

caused

"the wonderful case of mistaken identity" subsided, she returned

home and resumed

her duties,
spirits.

she had recovered

her health and good

48

THE QUEER FOLK OF FIFE.
in the shop,

Taking her place

she devoted herself

to the helping of her parents
their

and the serving of
of
the

customers.
gossips

And when any
referred
to

more

inveterate

her late painful

experiences, she would

stop them short with a

good-natured smile, and the remark
auld sang noo, and
it's

" that's

an

no'

worth the mindin'."
see that

Everybody was delighted
her old self again.

to

she was

"Why,"
mother,
"

said

old

Mrs

Raeburn, the
itsel

doctor's

the toon wasna like

withoot ye."

One day
and
"

the

Rev.

Mr

Patullo,

with his wife
return.

son, called in, to

welcome her on her
I

You

see," said the minister, "

could not want

you,

Mysie.

You

are

my

best

specimen of a
are as good

cheerful

practical

Christian.

You

as a sermon."

"My
"

certie,"

said

Mrs

Patullo, "far

more

in-

teresting than the

most of sermons."
added Tom, pointing

Though

rather floury"

to her hands.

But the best proof that Mysie's good-natured
equanimity was restored, was
her faithless lover, her treatment of

Bob

Dallas.

His scandalous

treatment of her had brought him into disgrace.

Many

of his friends had cut his

acquaintance.

HER DEAD
Even
herself
his

SELF.

49

betrothed, Bessie

Gayley, ashamed of
in

and ashamed of him, had refused

the

end

to

marry him.

He was now

completely

humiliated, and

when he met Mysie

in the street in

soon after her return, he could not look her
the face.
sensible
to

But Mysie was too good-natured and
keep up any
ill-feeling

towards

this

weak

creature.
said, "

So, the next time that she

saw

him she

Good morning "

;

and by and by

she got into the habit of stopping to have a chat

with him.

At

the same time, she took care to

keep

his familiarity within proper bounds.

When,
his
in

encouraged by her frankness and deluded by

own
to

conceit, he

imagined that she was

still

love with him, and actually had the infatuation
refer

to

past

times,

she caught him

up

at

once.
"

Mr
:

Dallas

!

remember we
a friend
let

are friends, nothing

more.
advice

And

as

me

give

you

this

Don't think of marrying in

this country.

One

wife would not be

enough
and

for you.

Go

out

to the Salt

Lake

City,

there, as
will

soon as you

are tired of one spouse,

you

be able to take

another.

Or
you

perhaps, you as well as myself are
I

doomed
married
;

to remain single.

am

too ugly to be
It

are

too good-looking.

would

50

THE QUEER FOLK OF
selfish
in

FIFE.

be

anyone to monopolise a man who
pleasure to
all

gives

so

much

the

girls

in

the

place."

At
Mysie

the end of

many

years,

Bob
an

Dallas and

Gow

were

respectively

old

bachelor

and an old maid.

Bob winced keenly under

the marring finger of
paint,
its

Time, and, by means of wig,
a jaunty manner, tried to hide

powder, and

ravages and to
still
it

make

the people believe that he was
;

young.
is

He
that,

did not convince the people

but

said

sometimes at

least,

he managed to convince

himself.
his

On
and

one occasion, while talking about
said,
" he's

infant

nephew, he
running

a fine

little

fellow,"

his

fingers
"

through

his

luxuriant

artificial

locks,

he added,

with a head

of hair as thick

and as black as
seen
like

my

own."

Conse-

quently
bearing

he

was

at

every gay gathering, Adonis,

himself

an
the

and
ladies

paying
;

assiduous attention

to

young

and

when

they, fooling

him

to the top of his bent,

gathered round

him

and bandied compliments
air

with him, he put on a youthful
congratulated

and
still

silently
"

himself

that

he

was

Bob

Dallas, the Invincible."
"

An

auld donnert eediot," said the indignant

HER DEAD
Mrs
Chatteris, the

SELF.

51

town-clerk's

widow, "deckin'

himsel up like an antic for the lasses to giggle
at."
"

You're too hard upon him," said her son Joe.

"

He's

more

useful

than

that.

He's
girls as

an

old

battered figurehead, used
for practising their

by the

a butt

arrows on."
received

Mysie, on

the other hand,

the

first

touches of age in the most cheerful

spirit,

and

wore her grey hair

like

a

becoming ornament,
;

and made her wrinkles shine with good humour
and, as her years

grew fewer, she
them, with

tried

more

and

more

to

fill

grateful

feelings

towards her Maker and kind words and deeds

towards her fellow-creatures.

GOD'S

OWN SCHOLAR.
new
class of preachers started

Many
the

years ago a
in

suddenly up

the country.
school,

They were
were

called

sensational

and

not unlike

a

certain section of the clergy in the present day.

Their motto seemed to be
dignified

:

"

Catch the public, by
but by
all

means

if

you

can,

means
were

catch the public."
these
:

Their rules for doing

this

"

Choose as the subject of your sermon
vice
;

some prevalent
and
strongest
it,

denounce
;

it

in the plainest

language

threaten
it,

those
all

who
the

practise

or even

encourage
all

with

misery of

this

world and

the eternal woes of

the next; draw your illustrations hot from ordinary
life
;

if

they are vulgar or grotesque, and excite
never mind
;

a

titter,

one great end

is

gained

if

by any means they arouse the
audience."

interest

of the

The most promising member
was
the

of

this

school

Rev.

Jeremiah

MacGuffog,

the

new

.

~RS!

GOD'S
parish

OWN SCHOLAR.
Sandyriggs.
his office.

53

minister

at

most solemn view of
there,

He took the He was placed
were
lifting their

he

felt,

as an

ambassador of the Most High

to

denounce

the iniquities that
side.
It

heads on every
words.

was no time

for

smooth

Like the martyred prophets and reformers
tell

of old, he must boldly face the transgressors,

them of
them.

their sins in

the

most

direct language,

and warn them of the

terrible

doom

that awaits

While he was a student
often

in

Glasgow, he had
root

heard that the
in

most

productive

of

immorality

the rural districts was
to

the Bothy
it,

System.

Everyone seemed

condemn
its

and
It

not one word had been said in

defence.
it

was clearly
without
long

his duty, therefore, to strike

down
his

delay.
his

Accordingly,
settlement,

one

Sunday not
up

after

he

wound

afternoon

sermon with a most merciless attack

upon the farmers.
"

The

farmers," he said, " are a
I

most respectable

class

of men, and

am

deeply grieved to be
feel-

compelled to say anything to wound their
ings
;

but

I

am
for

here to

tell

them that they are
the

responsible

what

I

call

running

sore,

which

is

draining the life-blood of morality and

54

THE QUEER FOLK OF
in

FIFE.
I

religion

the rural districts.

refer

to

the

Bothy

System.

You,

my

brethren,

are

really

treating your fellow-men

like

your

cattle.

You
Did
For

lodge them in a dirty and uncomfortable outhouse,

and leave them there to corrupt each
I I

other.

say that you treated them

like

your cattle?
cattle.

should have said worse than your
for

you do not prepare food
tie

them, you do not
in

them

up,

you do not lock them
at

and prevent

them from roaming abroad
into mischief.
I

night and falling
I

am

sorry that

am

obliged to

use strong language, but in the faithful discharge

of

my

duty

I

am

called

upon

to say that these
pit,

bothies are nurseries of the infernal

and that you may

you who keep them up
not
It

are,

though

know
feeling

it,

really serving the devil."

would be impossible to describe the volcano
which
this

of

onslaught

roused within

the souls of the farming population.
scarcely keep their seats
then,
their
till

They could
was over

the service

when they went way homewards
and
!

out of church and took
in

the

grey winter dusk,

the turmoil within them
for expression
;

was almost too strong
a time they could only

for

vent
o'

it

in

such explosive epithets, as "nurseries
pit
"
"

the

infernal

servants

o'

the deevil

!

GODS OWN SCHOLAR.
"ill-tongued
" set

55

cratur!"
!

"empty-headed puppy!"
certie
!

him up

"

"

my

"

But by the time

they reached the foot of the

Long Dykes, where
to

the road divided into three, a group of them, both

men and women,
" Sic

stood
o'
;

still

compare
!

notes.

a desecration

the

poopit

"

said

Mrs
the

Dowie of Seggie Den
"

" instead o' preachin'

gospel, misca'in honest folk."

woman " exclaimed Mrs Caw of Blawearie, "ye may say that Him to turn up his nose at
Eh,
!

bothies, that

was brocht
in the

up, they

tell

me, in a

one-roomed hoose
word,
" " to
it

wynds

o'

Glesky.

My
Hill,

doesna set a soo to wear a saddle."
said

Low-born smaik,"

Mrs Proud of the
!

scandaleese his betters
I

"
"

dinna ken," said Tarn Bluff of Cuddiesknowes,
at college, but
it's

what they teach them

evidently

no' mainners."

"Settin' servants
Stables,
school.
"

against

their

maisters,"

said

the horse doctor,

a

Tory
asked

of

the

old

What

could

ye

expect,"

Ure,

the

innkeeper at Blawearie Yetts, " from a teetotaller ?

Did ye hear hoo he blackguarded onybody that
had
onything to
o'

dae

wi'

makin' or
!

sellin'

an

honest drap

drink.

Haith

it's

my

opinion

56

THE QUEER FOLK OF FIFE.
when
the

that

Maister comes to the warld a

second time, they'll steek in His face the door
o'

His ain

kirk,

because

He

ance turned water

into wine."

Then
forth
his

Manson of
resentment.
greedy,

the

Hole,

standing by, red with rage,

who had been now began to splutter
a

He was
miserly,

cantankerous
If

old

bachelor,
in

and wealthy.

any bothy
tabooed,
his
it

the neighbourhood deserved to be
his.

was

That was the reason
"

for

feeling the

most aggrieved.
"
I'll

By

the

Lord
cratur.

Hairy," he said,
I'll

astonish

the

dirty

hae a ring
I'll

in

his

nose before he's a week

aulder.
if

ceet

him before the Presbytery, and
before

that

wunna
gang

dae,
;

the
I

Synod

and the

General Assembly
there,
richt,
I'll

and

if

canna get Justice

to the

Law.

Don't ye think I'm

Gilbert

Strang?"

The man who was thus addressed, and who now came up, was evidently somewhat inferior
in

station to the rest of the group.

In

fact,

at

first

sight

he

looked

shabby.

His

hat

was

weather-stained, his clothes

were threadbare and

even darned

in

some

places,

and

his boots

were

rough and clumsy.
his

But

his well-developed figure,
features,

clean-cut

and healthy

and

his

big

GODS OWN SCHOLAR.
blue eyes, gave him, in spite of his
a look of superiority.
his coat

57

mean

apparel,

Nay, the neat patches on
to be badges

seemed,

in

some odd way,

of respectability.
laird
;

He was
;

the son

of a small

but his father had recently died, a heartthe property had

broken bankrupt
he had been
left

been sold

the sole support of his

widowed

mother, and had been obliged to hire himself out
as

an ordinary ploughman

;

and

it

was under-

stood that he was

now pinching

himself to save
little

money,

in

order, if possible, to

redeem the

family inheritance.
Gilbert Strang, in fact,

was one of those hardy
flourish mentally

human

plants that can
in

grow and

and morally

any

soil.

He

had been but a few

years under the village teacher.

The

school in

which he had learnt most was the world, where
the lessons are undoubtedly very
difficult, but, if

once mastered, are most salutary.

In the few

books which he had,

in

the weekly sermons to

which he

listened, in

the ever-varying shows of

earth and sky, and in the rustic gatherings and

merrymakings, he got

abundant food both

for

mind and

heart.

Then, during the long quiet
in

days when he was guiding the plough

the

meadow, he

found

a favourite

opportunity for

58

THE QUEER FOLK OF
forming his notions of
way, he had

FIFE.

thinking over what he had
for
this

seen and read, and

men and
his

things.

In

made up

mind on most of
life,

the subjects that crop up in rural

and was
good

able to express his views, not only in the broad
vernacular, but also,

when occasion

called, in

English.

Altogether, he was a

fair

specimen of

a

man

of Nature's

own

training, or

what pious

people used to
scholars."
a

call "

one of God Almighty's own

Don't

you

think

I

wad be

richt,

Gilbert

Strang, to ceet
if I

him before the Presbytery, and

canna get redress there to try the

Law

"
?

"

Ye wad

be just playin' into his haunds,
"
?

Mr

Manson."

"In what way, Gilbert

"Ye wad mak him
as a martyr,
to
be.

staund oot before the public

and
I

that's

what

a'

thae kind want
be,

What

would advise wad

to

gie

him
"

rope."

"What dae ye mean,

Gilbert?"
;

He

kens the bothies only by hearsay
lot
o'

and

he has spoken a

nonsense

aboot

them.

Let him alane.
into

He'll

gang deeper and deeper
he'll

the

mess.

Then

find

himsel

in

a

habble and be obleeged to apologeese."

GODS OWN SCHOLAR.
"

59

Apologeese
!

!

"

cried
!

Manson,

"

catch a minister

apologeese
the time
doctrine

Dod man
infallibility
;

they're never wrang.
jist

At

o' o'

the Reformation, they

shifted the

from the Pope's shouthers
o'

on to

their ain
o'

and now, instead

ane,

we hae

thousands
"

Popes."
be," replied Strang, " only ca' canny.

That may

Look maks

before ye loup.
waste.'

Mind

the proverb,

'

Haste

"Dod that's true," replied Manson. man I wad gie a gude roond sum
!

"But eh
to see the

gabbie body obleeged to tak back and swallow
a'

the nonsense he
"

's

been

talkin'."

Weel

!

" said Gilbert, " ye'll

soon see

it."

Two

days after

this conversation
all
its

on the road,
severity.
It

winter weather had come, in

was seven o'clock

at night.

Outside the farmhouse

of Pitlour, the cold round

moon looked down upon
icicles

snow-clad roofs and stacks,
the eaves, the
straw,

hanging from
in

pump
But

in the

barnyard sheathed
in the

and the ploughs hard bound
frost.

meadow

by the

inside in the bothy,
all

which was

attached to the house,

was bright and warm.
coals
oil

A

fire

made
;

of

wood and
the

blazed in

the

chimney
cruisie,

an

old-fashioned

lamp
;

called

a
the

hung from

mantelpiece

and

60

THE QUEER FOLK OF
light of these

FIFE.

combined

two

fell

upon three

well-

fed, well-conditioned, rustic faces.

On

one side of

the chimney was Gilbert Strang, deeply interested
in the

weekly newspaper

;

on the other side was
laboriously

his fellow-ploughman,

Sandy Downie,
"

scraping out of his fiddle the tune of

Auld Lang

Syne

"
;

and

in front

of the blaze was Jim Lochty,

the cattle boy, with a copy of Burns in his hand,

crooning over the words of a familiar song.

In

the background, two bedsteads made of rough

wood, but with white pillows and sheets, looked

snug

and

comfortable.

The
at

occupants
the
door,

were

interrupted

by

a

knock
in

and

who

should

walk

but

the
for

Rev.

Jeremiah

MacGuffog.
be called
held
friend
"

He
opinion

apologised
visit."

what
he

might
said

a surprise

But

he
the

the

that

the

minister
parish,

was

of everyone in

the

and that he

should be able to drop in upon his parishioners

unceremoniously
as

at

any

time,

and
said

take
that

them
they

he

found

them.

Strang

were glad
a
seat.

to see

him, and

asked him to take

Sitting

down and scanning
:

the place carefully,

the minister said

"
I

on Sabbath that

You heard from my sermon am deeply interested in the

GOVS OWN SCHOLAR.
bothy question
acquainted with
;

61

and
it."

I

want

to

be thoroughly

Strang smiled and said to himself:
Justice.

"Jeddart
us

He condemned and
is

executed
us."
w

on

Sunday, and now he
" I

going to try
the

must

confess,"

said

minister,

that

I

am

surprised to see your place look so tidy and

comfortable.

You

heard,

I

suppose, that

I

was

coming."

"No,"

said

Strang.

"The
this

goodwife,
as

Mrs
her
it

Wedderspoon,

looks
is

upon
rooms
could

part

of

own
she
sleep.

house, and
is

just as particular about

as

about

the
place

where
be

her two sons
or

No

cleaner

more
" Is

comfortable."
"

But your food
!

?

"

asked the minister.

it

not rather coarse?"
"

Well,

sir

"

replied

Strang,

" it

would

be

coarse to the like of you.

But

for

hard working,
air,

healthy, country folk, out in the open

could

anything be better than well-boiled porridge and
sweet milk for breakfast and supper, and kail and

meat and potatoes

for

dinner

?

And

looking at
us."

us,

you would say that our food agrees with
"Then," said the minister,
pause,
" I

after a thoughtful

am

sorry to

see

that

you

have

no

62

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.

means of improving your mind.
have no books."

You seem

to

"Oh
Brown's

yes,"
"

said Strang, opening the door of a
few.

cupboard,
'

we have a

Look
'

!

here are

Dictionary of the Bible,'
Sir

Shakespeare,'

some of
1

Walter Scott's works
hand.

;

and Jim has
all

Burns

'

in

his

Anyone who masters
most people."

these
"
"

is

better educated than

I'm surprised," remarked the minister gravely,

that

you

read

'

Burns.'

He

has

some

very

objectionable passages."
"

He's

a

mixture of good and bad," replied
like

Strang,

"just

every other author.
is

If

read
shall

no author
read none
can't pick

that
at

not absolutely pure,

we we

all.

He's a poor creature

that

out the good

and throw away

the bad."
" I

suppose,"
is

remarked

the

minister,

"

that

there

a good deal of whisky consumed here
?

sometimes
"

For months," said Strang,
see," said

"

we never

taste

it."

"When you
of

the minister, "so
it,

many
alto-

your fellow-creatures abuse
"
?

why

not set
it

them a good example and abstain from
gether

"Well,

sir,"

replied

Strang,

"I've

thought of

GOD'S
that,

OWN SCHOLAR.
if
I

63

and

I

have also thought that
is

were to
I

abstain from everything that

abused,

would

soon, like the Irishman's horse,

come
"

to the last

straw and die of starvation."
"

Of

course,"

said

the

minister

you
"

have

none of the salutary influences of a home ?
"

Oh
the

yes, sir,"

answered Strang,
every
night,

"

we go down

to

kitchen

and have a crack

and snuff with the goodman, a gossip with the
goodwife, and

a

game

at

'

catch the ten

'

with

the sons, and finish up with family worship.
all

To

intents

and purposes we are members of the
minister, " that there
in

family."
" I

am

told," said the

is

a good deal of loose talk

bothies,

and that

one bad
" I fault,

man

often corrupts the whole lot."
replied

fear,

sir,"

Strang,

"

that that's the

not of bothies, but of

human

nature

itself.

In
will

almost every company objectionable persons

be found.

They

are to be
I

met with

in the

most

select society,

and even,

am

told, in the

rooms of divinity students.
I

You'll correct

me

if

am

wrong.

There was

Mr

Joram's

son

of

Kilbaigie, a divinity student, rusticated last year
for

being tipsy and uproarious at a gathering

in

his

own

lodgings."

64

THE QUEER FOLK OF
Then
after a
little,

FIFE.

Mr MacGuffog said—"this
Is
it

bothy of yours seems to be an exception.
not
"
"
?

No," said Strang,

" all

in

this

neighbourhood

are very much alike." "Then I'm afraid,"

said the minister, looking

very uncomfortable,
justice."
"

" I've

done the farmers

in-

Indeed you have,
feel it

sir,"

replied Strang earnestly,

"and they
Nurseries

very keenly.

The country
church
in

folk

are talking of leaving your
'

a body.

of hell

'

and

'

servants

of the devil

are

uncommonly strong
informed,

terms."
I

"But such terms,"
rightly
it

said the minister, "if
to

am

must apply

the system as

exists elsewhere."
"

Not

so

far

as

I

am

aware,"

said
this

Strang.

"

Besides,

your

remarks referred to

neigh-

bourhood."

Then
"

after a

long pause the minister said in a
"

tone of great embarrassment,
Well,
sir,"
I

What am
I

I

to

do

"
?

replied Strang, "
do.

think you
to

know
the

better

than

But what seems
plan
it

me

only straightforward

is

this

:

if

you have you have

been

wrong, confess

frankly.

If

done

injustice to the people, apologise."

GOD'S
"

OWN SCHOLAR.
minister, "
I

65
first
I

Well," said

the

shall

visit

the

other bothies in the parish, and

shall

be

guided by what

he said

I

see there."

Then

after a

pause
"

"

But how do you account

for the great
?

outcry that has been raised against bothies
"

Partly in this way,

sir,"

said Strang.

"

There
saying

are
it)

some

ministers (you will excuse

me
If

for

that are like our sporting lairds.

They must
they start
gives

have the excitement of the chase.
a heresy case, that's their highest

game and

them
upon

their
that,

best sport.

But not always lighting

they have no difficulty in finding what
evil.
it

they consider some social

Then they
in full cry

give

the view halloo, and are after
thick and thin."
"

through

Ah

!

"

said the minister, rising, "
;

you are hard
be a
little

upon us poor clergy
truth in

but there

may

what you

say.

Good

night."

And away
a
great

he went.

Next
were

Sunday

morning

there

was

gathering of country folk at the church.
discussing
the

They
while

rumour, that the minister

was going to apologise.
others thought that
it

Some

believed

it,

was too good

to be true.

Among
"

the latter was old Manson.
" no,

Apologeese," he sneered,

no.

A

black

66

THE QUEER FOLK OF
When
by the
bethal, he can say

FIFE.

coat never surrenders.
in

he has been steekit

what he

likes,

and

no'

ane daur utter a cheep.

Na, na, the poopit
o'

has been ower lang the seat
no'

an

oracle.

It's

gaun

to

become the

stule o' repentance."

But old Manson was wrong.

Towards the end
"

of the sermon, which was on the text,

Bear ye

one another's burdens," the minister came to a

dead pause.

There was a

terrible

stillness

all

over the church.

Every ear was on the

alert to

catch what was coming, and nervous people held

down
said
"

their

heads.

Then

the

minister,

looking

ghastly pale, and speaking with slow deliberation,
:

Brethren,

my

great desire

is

to find out

what
;

your burdens
but
last

are,

and to help you to bear them
I

Sabbath

must admit that

I

failed.

I

had always heard that the Bothy System was
one of the curses of
this

country
its

;

and

I

had

never heard a word said in
naturally,
in

defence.

Very
of
this

calling

upon

the

people
evil

neighbourhood to put away the

thing from

among
this

them,
I

I

used

very

strong

language.

Brethren,

have since discovered
is

that, as far as
;

parish

concerned,

I

was wrong

and

I

now

apologise to the farming people in particular

GOUS

OWN SCHOLAR.
in

67

and the congregation
a warning to us
all

general.

May

this

be

—to

you as well as me

—not

to be too hasty in forming

judgments regarding

our fellow-creatures."

Here was an event altogether unprecedented

No

one had ever heard of a minister confessing
It

from the pulpit that he had made a mistake.

was the
but had

result of the purest
it

Christian
it

candour

proceeded from policy

would have

been a master-stroke.
minister turned

With one sentence the
of
the

the hearts

people from

the

fiercest

indignation

right

round to

an

en-

thusiastic love.

The women-folk
"

especially were

loud in his praises.
"

Oh

"
!

they exclaimed,

wasn't

it
;

like

a real
didn't

Christian to

own

that he

was wrang
he was
it

and
daein'

he look rale

bonny when
agreed that

it?"

And

they

all

was Gilbert Strang,
was

who by
his

his

wonderful cleverness had opened the

minister's

eyes,

and made him see that

it

duty to confess.
the

On

Monday
it

afterwards, Gilbert

was plough-

ing the Five-Acre Lea.
associations

To one

fond of rustic
;

was a pleasant picture

the pair

of horses sleek and well-fed, bending their heads

over their strong chests, lifting their legs leisurely

68

THE QUEER FOLK OF FIFE.
together,

and

and

pulling
;

the

plough

slowly
coulter

through the

stiff

loam

the

knife-like

evenly cutting a narrow strip of the green turf;
the

shining share turning

it

over and forming
;

another long ridge of fresh earth
steadily

the

man

holding

the
;

plough-tails

and looking contented
the sombre sky of a

and happy

and over

all,

winter afternoon gradually darkening towards the
dusk.
headrig,
voice.

As he was
he
heard

turning the

plough
in

at

the

himself hailed

a cheery

He

looked round, and there was Manson
with his face
in

of the
delight.

Hole,

a

broad grin of

Shaking the ploughman's hand, and then
out, "

slap-

ping him vehemently on the shoulder, he roared

Eh, man, ye're an awfu'
novelties,
o'

billy.

This

is

an
o'

age

o'

and ye've brocht aboot ane
a'.

the greatest the poopit

them

A

minister standin' in
to
his

and
!

confessin'

folk

that

he
It's

had been wrang
an event
in

Wha
the

ever heard the like?
o'

the

history

the kirk.

And
tongue

the
to

man

that
a'

had
this

head
he

and
is,

the

manage
on wark
dae.

— here

wastin'

himsel
could
!

that

the

stupidest
!

clod-happer
no' richt
settin'

By

the Lord Hairy

it's

You

should hae been a minister yersel,

them a

GOD'S

OWN SCHOLAR.
;

69
I

lesson o' straightforwardness

and as sure as
it.

am
lend

a

livin'

sinner they require
dae.

Man

!

I'll

tell
I'll

ye what
ye
;

I'll

I'm

no' a rich

man, but

twa

hunder

pounds
it

to

gang

to

the
it

college

and

ye can pay

back whenever

suits ye.

Ye needna
taken
silent,

hurry."

Strang was

aback

;

and

for

about

a

minute was

fascinated

evidently

by the
called

prospect which had thus

suddenly been

up before him.
"

At
!

last

he said
It's

Mr Manson
generous
;

dae ye really mean that ?

awfu'

and

I'm

half
is

inclined

to
;

tak
the

yer

offer.

But

no, the kirk
sit

no'

my
tear

trade

harness

wadna
required
Besides,
life.

easy.

Nor yet the schule
a'

my

nerves

wadna stand
to
I

the
a'

and wear
o'

that's

stir

up

kinds

young
air
I

brains.

canna gie
a'

up an

open

country

It

has nearly

the advantages

care aboot.

We
sleep.

get the great natural medicines

—fresh

air,

sunlight,

pure water, perfect quiet,

and sound

We
fresh

hae the best food

;

for

what could be mair nourishin' than milk, eggs,
and oatmeal,
all

and unadulterated?
(if

And

we hae
the

the best opportunities
to
live

we only hae
o'

gumption

tak
in

them) of improvin' oor
the workshop
nature,

minds, for

we

70

THE QUEER FOLK OF
see

FIFE.

and
" " to

the
a'

coontless

wonders

which

she

is

producin'

the year roond."
no' think
it

But dae ye
raise

richt,"

asked Manson,
dune, to a

yersel

as

sae

mony hae
"

higher position in society?"
"

Weel," replied

Strang slowly,
It

I'm
a

no'

jist

sure

aboot

that.

seems

to

me

kind

o*
?

selfishness.

Should we no' think
to oorsels,

o' raisin'

others

We
to

owe a duty
those

nae doot, but also

up.

That's
to

wha hae produced us and brocht us the true way in which the masses

are
their

be raised

—not

by being patronised by
led

superiors,

but by being
their

onwards and

upwards by men of
I

own

class.
;

Not
I

that

think

I

could ever lead

them

but

could

assist
"
is

them that are

really able to lead them."
"

Weel," said Manson, going away,
afore ye,

my

offer

still

whenever ye

like to tak

it."

Year
that he
to a

after year passed

away, and Gilbert Strang

continued most religiously to save every penny
could.

When

his

hoardings
for

amounted

handsome sum, he looked

some way of
there was in
Melville, a

laying them out at interest.

Now,

Mr

MacGuffog's congregation a

Mr

lawyer and banker of unquestionable respectability,
a prominent elder in the
kirk,

and the brother

GOD'S

OWN SCHOLAR.
To many

71

of a celebrated D.D.

of the church

members he had become
and
friend.

the guide, philosopher,

Besides giving them his advice, he
in-

took charge of their spare cash and got an

vestment

for

it.

To
in

this

gentleman Strang had
his

no

hesitation

committing
injunction,

hard-earned
the
interest

money,

with
fell

the

that

when
cipal,

it

due was to be added to the prinin this

and the aggregate sum

way allowed
years,
his

to

accumulate.

At

the

end of

five

affairs

had prospered so well that he saw a pros-

pect of buying back his inheritance.

He would
in return

borrow a sum from Manson, giving him
a

bond upon the property

;

and that sum added

to his savings

would make up the purchase money.

He had
structed

got Manson's hearty consent, he had in-

Mr

Melville

to
his

realise

his

investments,
tell

and he had written to
joyful tidings,
at her

mother to

her the

and

to say that he

would be over

house on Saturday evening to discuss the

whole matter.
It

was a beautiful day

at

the

end of June,
in
all

and Strang was busy among the haymakers
the Bog.

The

occasion was important
the farm

;

and

the inmates of
old

— master

and

servants,

and young, men and women, and even the

72

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.
ripple

dogs

—were

engaged.

Amidst a perpetual
up

of gossip, joke, and laughter, they merrily turned

over the tanned grass, put
it

it

in cocks (or, as

was called
the

in that district, coles),

and

carefully

raking
tidy

cleared

space,

made

the

field

look

and

fresh.

The sight of the abundant and
crop
;

well-conditioned
arose from
it
;

the delightful

scent that

the twitter of the swallows that
;

wheeled

around

and

above

all

the

glorious

weather, exhilarated every soul.
cart,

And when
field,

the

driven

by Jim Lochty and containing the
they
in

dinner,

appeared at the gate of the
aloud
their

laughed

joy

;

for

what can be

more
the

delightful to a

hungry human creature than
seated
in

prospect

of

being

on

a

heap

of

fragrant

hay with a large bap

one hand and

a tankard of nut-brown ale in the other.

But
all

what was
excitement.
to
tell
;

the

matter with Jim

?

He was

He had

evidently something startling

and, like your ordinary bearer of sensa-

tional news, even

when
in
:

it

is

bad, he had a sort
it.

of grim

pleasure

delivering

Before he

came up he

cried out

"Gilbert Strang, yer banker,
cut his throat and has
left

Mr

Melville, has

a letter to say that

he has made awa

wi' a' the folks' siller."

GODS OWN SCHOLAR.
Strang was stunned, and
for

73

some time could
wondering
if

do

nothing but

stare

at

Jim,

he

were

telling the truth.
last

At
ye."
"

he

said
!

:

" I

don't

believe

it.

Mr

Melville

o' a'

folk

Somebody has been hoaxing
" it's

Na," said Jim,

perfectly

true.

It

was

the

polisman that
stiff

tellt

me
it.

;

and he had seen
letter.
!

him quite
folk

and had read the
aboot

A' the

were
o'

talkin'

Look

there's

Mr
at

Proud
him."

the

Hill

passin'.

Gang and
his

speir

Mr Proud had
beckoning
to

stopped
;

gig

and

was

Strang
it

and

when Strang went

over to him, of
the

was only
report.

to hear a confirmation

terrible

But that was not
down,
is

all.

Misfortune seems to take a savage delight not

only

in

knocking

her

victim

but

in

trampling

upon

him

after

he

down.
tell,

Mr

Proud had another sad calamity
that

to

namely,

Mr Manson had
in bed.

been found that morning

dead

Here was the end of
had
lighted

all

Strang's labour.

This

double loss dispelled at once the dream which

up

all

his

future

— the

hope of
that

regaining

the

inheritance

of his

ancestors,

74

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.

white two-storeyed house, with the sunny garden
in front,

and the snug farm buildings behind, on
where

whose walls the history of the family seemed to
be written, and
the
associations

of

his

own happy boyhood, like the bright and fresh dewdrops of a summer morning, hung upon
every bush and
fell

tree.

A

cloud of despondency
it,

upon him

;

and, seen through

the sunny

landscape and the merry faces of the haymakers

seemed incongruous and almost unbearable.
His
spirit,

however, was too robust to be long

weighed down.
his

Towards evening he threw
if

off

load,

and asked himself
for

he had, on the

whole,
had,
a

any good reason
lost

complaining?
of

He
of

indeed,

the

opportunity
chiefly

realising

happiness
;

which

was

made up

sentiment

but,

on the other hand, what blessings
to

were

still

spared

him

?

Health,

strength,

congenial
sleep,

employment, wholesome
air,

food,

sound

fresh

the

glories

of

the

universe,

appreciative friends, and a kind Providence.

He
all

who

could

mope and mourn

in

the face of
at
all,

these advantages

was not a man

but a

cowardly

cur.

Then
mind.

the thought

of his mother arose in his
it?

How

would she bear

Beneath the

GOD'S
double

OWN SCHOLAR.

75

blow of her husband's bankruptcy and

death, the poor body's courage

had given way.

Thoroughly demoralised, she considered herself a
victim,
friends

and expected

restitution, not

only from her

and the public

at

large,

but even from

Providence.

She had,
upon
the

therefore, staked her

whole

happiness
steading
that

recovery
at

of

the

pleasant

and

fields

Sunnybrae.
impossible,

And now
most
bitter

the

recovery was

would be her disappointment, and endless would
be her grumbling against society at large and
even against Providence.
Strang's

mother

lived

at

Cauldale,
It

a solitary

place four miles north of Pitlour.

stood far

apart from

other dwellings, on
hill.
;

the side of

an

uncultivated

It

had once been a row of
the

thatched

cottages

but with

exception of

the one at the east end, they had been allowed
to
fall

into

decay, and

now

stood roofless and
lit

empty.

The

hearths

which had once been
fires,

up by warm household

and the

still

warmer

smiles of family affection, were

now

covered with
In the one

rubbish and overgrown with weeds.

which was

still

habitable,

allowed by the Laird to

Mrs Strang had been take up her abode and
;

by the

aid

of her son and

some kind

friends

76

THE QUEER FOLK OF
managed
to get the

FIFE.

she had

means of making a
braes, a

scanty living.
pig fed
bee-hives

A
a

cow grazing on the
flock

on the refuse of the garden, a row of

and

of

poultry,

gave

her

a

supply of milk, butter, cheese, pork, honey, and
eggs
use,

— part
the

of which

she devoted

to

her

own

but the most of which she carried into the

nearest town and sold for hard cash.
utilised

She even
the

crops that grew beyond
In early
to

range

of cultivation.

summer
kail.

she culled the
In

young
her

nettles

make
and

gathered the
afternoon

brambleberries
tea
;

a
in

autumn she make jam for bed of wormwood
to

growing
supplied
took.

on the
her

hillside
all

front

of

her house

with

the

medicine

she

ever

On

the Saturday evening
visit,

when she expected
She was
in

her son's

she was seated with her knitting

on a chair in front of her cottage.
high
the
spirits,

and anticipated with great pleasure
with
Gilbert
all

discussing

the details of

taking possession of Sunnybrae.

Soon she saw

him
went

in the distance
Still

coming

striding through the

pasture land.

working at her stocking, she
the
hill

down the face of But when he drew near,

to

meet him.

instead of that jubilant

GOUS OWN SCHOLAR.
smile

77

which she had expected

to

see

on

his

face, there

was a look of depression.
she has

"Gilbert,"

exclaimed,

"what's

wrang?
hide
it

Something

happened.
Tell

Ye canna
at ance."

from yer mither.

me

He
she

told

her

;

and with a cry of lamentation
the

dropped
her
I

on

ground

and

sat

there,

wringing

hands
dune,

and

bemoaning her
I

fate

"what
afflickit

hae
in

what hae

dune,

to

be

this

way — blow
after
slavin'

after

blow — blow
starvin'

after
savin'.

blow

— and
folk.
it

and
his

and

But that man (what's
siller.

name?) canna
hae spent
socht oot and

hae swallowed the
it

He maun

on some
to

They should be
back."
it

made

pay

Strang

thought
to

best

not

to

answer

his

mother, but
feelings.

allow her to give vent to her
raising her gently up, taking her
telling her that she
tea, as

Then

by the arm, and
he led

must come
was a

and give him a cup of
faint,

he was ready to
It

her

into

her cottage.

poor place, but the care which had been taken
to

make

it

comfortable in honour of his coming
heart.

touched

his

A

clear

fire

was burning
for a grate.

behind the two iron bars that served

The cracked

hearthstone

and

rough

earthen

78
floor

THE QUEER FOLK OF
bits
;

FIFE.

had been swept and whitened.

The most

was made of the scanty

of furniture, the

wreck of her former household

and everything

was clean and was

in

its

proper place.

A

snowy

cloth covered the

frail

round table
in

;

the marriage
his

china

arranged

order
in

;

favourite

brambleberry

jam

was

a

glass

dish

;

his
fire;

favourite buttered toast

simmered before the
in

and the only armchair
for

the house was placed

him

in his favourite

chimney-corner.

Wiping her eyes
"

occasionally,

and

moaning
for

Oh

dear," she poured out a

cup of tea

him

;

but refused to take any herself, and sat rocking
herself to
"

and

fro.

Then came another

outburst,
I

Why
"

did ye ever trust that
'im."

man ?
in

I'm sure

tellt

ye weel aboot

Mother, mother," he

said

a

deprecating

tone,
"

"hoo can ye say so?
I

Ye
out.

never did."
"

That

did," she
I

moaned

But ye never
forget."
;

listen to

what

say.

Nae wonder ye

Strang saw that reasoning would do no good

and so he

sat silent while she continued to give

vent to her feelings.

And

to his great

relief,

a

knock came to the door, and a gentleman,
dressed and well-mannered, entered.
"

well-

Mr

Strang,

I

presume," he said.

"

I

must

GOD'S
beg
your

OWN
for

SCHOLAR.
I

79

pardon

intruding.
here."

called

at

Pitlour,

and they sent me on

Catching fresh alarm, and seeing

in this visit

a

continuation of the coil of troubles in which they

had got involved, the mother cried

out, "

Oh

sir

what are ye gaun to dae

wi' 'im

?

The gentleman, with
"

a

kindly

smile,
;

said,

There's
I

nothing

to

cause

alarm

quite

the

reverse.

am Mr Kemp, Mr
in

Manson's lawyer."
if it

And
sort

then

a calm manner, as

was the

of thing that occurred

every day, he told

that

Mr Manson had

left

his

money and

other

belongings to Gilbert Strang.

Mrs Strang
"

burst into
!

a
It's

rapture of delight

Eh, dae ye hear that
I

an answer to

my
mak
At
sir."

prayers.

aye said that Providence wad

up

to us

what

He had made

us suffer."
silent.
it,

But Strang himself was strangely
length he
" said, " I don't see
!

how

I

can take
"

No' tak

it

"

screamed

his mother.

Are ye

mad ?
"

No, mother

!

" said

Strang, quietly,

" this

money

should have been given to
"

Mr

Manson's

relatives."

He

has got no relatives," said

Mr Kemp, " and
it

he expressly says that he leaves

to

you
will "

as the

man whom he most

respects,

and who

guide

80

THE QUEER FOLK OF
money
best "
;

FIFE.
it,

the
it

and

if

you don't take
;

why,

must go to the Queen
it

and

in

the ocean of
will

her wealth

will

be a mere drop, and

do

good
"

to nobody."

Dae ye hear Queen indeed
;

that " said the mother.
!

"

The

set

her

up

!

She's

got

ower

muckle already.
"

She would tak everything."
" if
I

Then," said Gilbert,
it

maun

tak

it,

I

canna

spend

on mysel.

I'll

pay

my

father's debts,

and wipe
"

off the family disgrace."

Gilbert
!

Strang

!

"

said

his

mother,

"

are

ye

mad ? Sir ye'll The money wasna
"
is

no'
left

allow

him

to

dae

this.

for this."
"

Mother," he said, quietly,
o'

my

father's

memory
to

ane
it,

oor dearest possessions.
o'

There's a blot
I

on

the blot

bankruptcy.

want

rub

that

aff,

so that you and

me may
is

hae nae cause

to blush

when

his

name

mentioned."
collapsed, saying

Utterly foiled, the poor
in

woman

a tone of resignation, "Weel, weel, gang yer

ain gait,

and leave
Ye'll

me

here to slave, and starve, yer faither's debts

and

dee.

maybe wipe
but
ye'll

aff yer conscience,

sune hae yer mither's

death in their place."
Gilbert

now

rose to go back with

Mr Kemp.
;

His mother refused to shake hands with him

GOD'S
but
"

OWN
on
there

SCHOLAR.
the

81

he

clapped

her
!

back,

and

said,
siller

Courage,

mother

may

be

some

left,

after payin' a' the debts, to

buy Sunnybrae
"if

yet."

When

they were outside,
this
left."

Mr Kemp

said,

you carry out
have nothing
" I

Quixotic plan of yours, you'll

can't help that," returned
right."
lost

Strang

;

"

I

must

do what's
Strang

no time

in carrying out his resolve.

Ere a few weeks had passed,
very
full

his father's creditors,

much

to their astonishment,

were paid the

amount of what was owing them, along with

interest.

On

the next

Sunday morning, Sunday
his

as he put

on
a

his old

and

faithful

clothes,

he

felt

satisfaction

which he had
stain

never
father's

experienced

before.

The
felt

on

memory

memory
almost

otherwise bright
that
his

—was
the

removed, and he
near,

deceased parent was

smiling approval of what had been done.

His appearance among

loungers

at

the

church door created quite a

stir.

Every eye was

upon him.
forward to

The farmers and their wives pressed shake him cordially by the hand.
nothing, for their limited vocabulary

They

said

contained no form of words suitable for such an

82

THE QUEER FOLK OF
;

FIFE.

extraordinary occasion
their
feelings.

but their looks expressed

Though they would not very
yet they

likely, if

placed in his circumstances, have done
;

what he had done
admiring him.
well-worn
antique
attire,
;

could

not

help

As he
and

stood before them in his

he looked like a hero of the
the

type

patches
like

on

his

coat

appeared more than ever

badges of honour.

Meanwhile
Cauldale,

his

mother, on the lonely slopes of

moped and grumbled.

She
and

felt

herself

a poor, forlorn wretch, deserted not only by her

son but by Providence also

;

she

took a

morbid pleasure
ever been so
ill

in

thinking that

no

one

had

used as she.

But one afternoon,
her son

as she sat at her solitary " four-hours,"

burst

in,

with every feature beaming.

She was

then quite prepared for the good news that he
brought.
his

The

creditors

were so delighted with

unexpected conduct, that they had met and

agreed to return to him half the money.
that,

With

and the remainder of Manson's legacy, he
be

had bought back Sunnybrae.
"

So by next Martinmas," he
glowed
the

said, " yell

in

yer ain auld house, mither."

Bright

ben -end,

or
1

parlour,

of

Sunnybrae on the evening of the

2th November.

GOD'S

OWN SCHOLAR.
They had come
to
richts."
in

83

Bright, also, were the occupants, Gilbert Strang

and

his

mother.
of
the

on
hard

the
at

forenoon

nth, and had been

work

"pittin'

things

Mrs
in

Strang

had complained

bitterly

about the state
;

which
last

everything had been

left

but she had at

arranged things so that they could
with some

now
a'
I

sit

down
auld

degree of comfort.
said,
I

"Looking round," she
dreamin' aboot
that
I

"on

the

things in their auld places,
livin'

feel as if

had been

in

a

strange country, and

had waukened up
is

to find mysel at

hame.
o'

There

only ae great

want,

—the
a'

presence

yer faither.
is

But

I

canna help thinkin' that he
in

here in
!

spirit,

and shares

our joy.
his

And

oh,

Gilbert
paid,
lost

glad he

maun be

that

debts are

and that naebody can say that they hae
onything by him.

You were

richt,

and

I

was wrang."

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
JOHN FAIRGRIEVE,
name
better

known

as Hillend, the

of his farm, had been born with a strong

appetite for knowledge.

Had

his education

been

attended to in his youth, he would very likely

have been a great reader.
got into the

But as he had never
facility,

way

of using books with
his
;

he

was driven to seek
world around him
greatest assiduity.

mental food
this

in the actual

and

he

did

with

the

In plain language, he was a a
collector

notorious
"

newsmonger,

of

all

the

clashes

"

of the neighbourhood.

In bright sumon,

mer weather, before the hay harvest came
and when
"

there

was naething
at his

pushin',"

it

was

his delight to stand

farm gate, under the

large plane tree, with his snuff-box in his hand,

and exchange news with
did not matter
his
gig,

all

the passers-by.

It

who they
the

were.
his

The farmer
cart,

in

the

ploughman on

the baker

driving his van,

beggarwife with her brats

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
and her
deliver."

85

wallets,

were

all

obliged to

"

stand and

In

fact,

Hillend was a sort of informal
toll

turnpike man, levying mental

on the king's

highway.

Very
tattle

like

him

in this inveterate love for tittlesisters,

were his two
for

kept house
separate.

him.

Lizzie and Grizzie, who They were seldom seen

prey was generally
into the

They hunted in couples. And their some country laddie that came farmyard for milk or butter. They took

complete possession of the unlucky urchin.

He
The
cross-

had no more chance of escape than a gooseberry
which has
fallen

before two greedy hens.

one examined him, and then the

other

examined him,

or (to use the old Scotch phrase-

ology) the one speired and the other back-speired,
until the

poor child was turned inside out,
it,

or, as

Geordie Faw, the cattleman, expressed
flypeit."
It

" fairly

was eight

o'clock

on a wild October night.

Outside, in

the farmyard, were darkness

and a

fierce gale that rattled at the

windows and howled
the

at the

chimney

tops,

and swirled round the stacks
Inside, in

and into every hole and corner.
on

farm kitchen, were light and warmth and bright
dishes

the

walls,

and

still

brighter

faces

86

THE QUEER FOLK OF
fire.

FIFE.

grouped round the blazing
ception of Collie the

With the excat, all

dog and Mottie the

were
Lizzie

busy

in

their

own

different

ways.

Miss
at

was

at

the

churn,

and Miss
Foster

Grizzie

the

spinning-wheel.
the

Willie

and

Pate
at

Mackie,
draughts,

two

ploughmen, were
it,

playing

or, as

they called
cobbling

"

the dam-brod."
shoes.

Geordie
itinerant

Faw was
tailor,

his

The

John Glen, seated

cross-legged
coat.

on a

chair,

was mending the farmer's

And

Hillend himself, what was he doing?
ing the place of honour at the
fire,

Occupy-

left

side of the
in

and, with the usual snuff-box

his hand,

he was keeping up the conversation,
words,
" ca'in

or, in

other

the

crack."

As

the
in,

corn

and
in

the potatoes were safely gathered
capital spirits,
self

he was

and bent upon making both himthought that there was very
to

and the others happy.

You would have
little

entertainment
;

be

got

in

that

quiet

homely scene
taken.

but you would have been misall,

First of

there was

Glen,

the
as
his

tailor,

with a tongue as sharp and slick
shears,

own
Then
visit

and with odds and ends of scandal as
varied
as
his

many and
in

own

clippings.

came Sandy Livingstone,

fresh

from a

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
to the smithy,

S7
"

and bursting with

all

the " clavers

of the parish

—who

was dead, who was going to
failed,

be married, who had
last

who had been

fou

July

Session,
leave,

who had been up before how Grangemire Mary had got
fair,

the

her

and Geordie Clephane had

lost his

watch
still

at Kirkcaldy market.

And
their

while they were
rolling

enjoying

these

tit-bits,

and

them

like

sweet morsels under

tongue,

who

should

appear but a mysterious stranger, foot-sore and
tired

with

travel.

All

grew quiet to look

at

him.

This was no ordinary tramp.
cut,

His clothes were fashionably
bare and soiled
thin
;

though thread-

and

his features

and hands were

and

delicate,

though tanned by the weather.
to hear that he

The company were prepared
once seen better days
;

had

but they broke into a

murmur

of astonishment

when he

told

them that

he had been an Oxford

man and
all

town, and that he had tramped

man about the way from
a

London.

"An
"

Oxford
all

swell!"

"A

London

man

!

"

Tramped
and
in

the

way

"
!

Hillend's face

glowed with the anticipation of hearing a wonderful story,
his

excitement he took four

or

five

snuffs

consecutively.

Miss

Lizzie

and
their

Miss Grizzie stopped their work, rose to

88
feet,

THE QUEER FOLK OF
drew near to the
They, indeed,
stranger,

FIFE.
devouring him

with their eyes, and eager to
speir."

" speir

and back-

set

him down
;

to a supper

of bread and cheese and milk
at the

but they began

same time

to question

him about himself
if

and

his

adventures.

However, he said that
till

they would kindly wait
strengthened
placed

he had refreshed and
the

himself with

meal

they

had
full

before him,

he would give
his

them a

and true account of

strange career.

They

were therefore obliged, meanwhile, to satisfy their
curiosity

by watching him while he stowed away
celerity.
;

the
his his

viands with wonderful

At length
and, wiping

ravenous appetite was appeased

mouth with
for

his
so,

coat

sleeve,

and

begging

pardon

doing

and giving as an excuse that
the

he hadn't a pocket-handkerchief, he began
story of his
often

adventures.
first
I

In after days

it

was

repeated,

by himself and
able to give
it

then

by

others, so that

am

for the

most

part in his
"

own

words.
rich,

My

father

was

but

I

am

almost ashamed
in a

to confess that

he did not make his money

very nice way.
in

He

was, you see, a pawnbroker

the High

Street of Edinburgh.
often
to

When

I

was
a

a

boy

I

used

be

in

the shop on

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
Saturday night, and, upon

89
I

my

soul,

used to

pity the poor quivering wretches
raising

that

came

in,

money on

their

furniture, their
I

very bed,

and even the family

Bible.

have seen a poor

woman,
All

half-stripped herself, take off the clothes
in her arms,

from a puny child
kinds
of

and pawn them.
haggling

scenes

went

on,

and

arguing, and cursing and swearing.

The words

of one customer, especially,

I

can never forget.

He was He was
upon
"
'

a broken-down author, puffy and shaky.

angry because he had not got enough

his silver watch.

'

You
tell

cursed old Jew/ he said to

my

father,

I'll

you what you
for

are.

You're a wrecker.
are
cast

You

wait

those

who

ashore

by
the

the waves

of misfortune, and
their property.'

rob them of

remnants of
"
'

No,

no,' said

my

father,

'

I

accommodate them
and
in

with

money

to

keep them

alive,

return

take only the things they can spare.'
"

My

father himself did not like the trade, for
it

he gave

up,

and went to

live

in

a

villa

at

Eskbank.
in private
;

He
but

continued, however, to lend
it

was on a large
swells,

scale.
call

money Young
at

gentlemen, regular

used

to

the

house and be closeted with him, and had

difficulty

90
in

THE QUEER FOLK OF
coming
5

FIFE.
heard one say
per
cent,
all
is

to

an agreement.

I

as

he was leaving, 'one
'

hundred
risk,'

tremendous.

So

is

the

was

my

father's answer.
"

My

mother was of an easy-going
for figures,

disposition,

had no head
of
all

and

left

the

management

money

matters to her husband.

Her whole
I

care

was devoted

to me, her only child.

was
I

the apple of her eye.

Dear old mother

!

how

wish that
"

I

had appreciated her more
sat
at
'

As we

the
!

fire

on a winter evening,
lad,

she would say,

Ben

my
I

we must
like to

give

you

the best education.

would

see

you a

gentleman before
"'Nonsense!'
waste any
rubbish of

I

die/ father

my

would

say,

'I'll

not

money upon Latin and Greek, and that kind. The training I got will be
for him.'

good enough
"

However, to our great astonishment, he came

round to mother's view.
that
I

You

see,

he intended

should carry on the money-lending business,
if I

and he thought that
school,
I

were sent to a high-class

would form a wide connection among
spendthrifts,

young

aristocratic

which would be

of great service to me.
to

So the question came
school

be discussed, 'to

what

should

I

be

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
sent
?
'

91

and to

settle this question
us.

our next door

neighbour assisted
"

This

man was
'

Captain

Beaumont, but was

popularly called

the Earl.'

He

was, as he told

everybody,

'a.

real

gentleman that had taken a

thousand years to be produced, not a shoddy one
that can be turned out

nowadays

in

a few weeks.'

He was
was

tall,

grey,

and scraggy, with a backbone and with a head that
but
that
'

as stiff as a walking-stick,

uncommonly

small,

was
for

'

large

enough,' as
ideas he

our minister remarked,
it.'

all

the

had got to put into

His house was,

like himself, cheerless
it

but pretentious.

He

called

Dunmore, which, you must know, was the name

of the castle where his ancestors had lived, heaven

knows how long

ago.

He

had a doited old servingthe family livery, and

man, who was dressed

in

waited at table, and served the thin broth and

scraggy mutton on the family
also

silver.

There was
his genea-

above the dining-room mantelpiece

logical tree, with

many
it

branches and leaves, and

each leaf had on
fathers,

the

name

of one of his fore-

and on the topmost
'

leaf

was written

his

own name,
present
"
earl.'

Reginald Algernon Beaumont, the

For some time the Earl was very haughty

92

THE QUEER FOLK OF
us,

FIFE.
occasionally,

towards

throwing

us
it

a word

just as he

would throw

to a neighbour's dog.
for calling

But by and by he made an excuse
on us
;

and

in

a few weeks he came in regularly

every night to have a
fireside.
'

game
nose,'

of draughts at our

His hungry

my
he

father said,

'

had

scented the havannas and the Glenlivet.'
first

In the

part

of
if

the

evening

was

silent

and

grumpy, as

he looked down upon our society,
for

and was half angry with himself
But when the whisky and
the table, he brightened

being in

it.

cigars were placed

on

up and grew pleasant
talk for hours about his

and

sociable,

and would

ancestors,

and would

tell

that he

was the

lineal

descendant of Reginald de Beaumont,
into

who came

Scotland in the

reign

of David the First,

and that he was,

therefore, the Earl of

Abernethy

;

and then he would blackguard the House of Lords
for

not acknowledging his
'

title,

and would

call

them

Brummagem

peers,

mostly made out of

lucky lawyers, brewers, and cotton-spinners.'

On
make
and,

one of these occasions,

my

mother took courage

to talk about me, saying that she wished to

me
what

a

gentleman, and
should

asked

his

advice as to
startled,

be

done.

He was
:

screwing up his nose, said

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP,
'

93

'

My

dear

a gentleman.

Madam, you can't make your son You can't put blue blood into his
him a pedigree a thousand years

veins and give
long.

But

you

may

give

him a

gentlemanly

education, and

make him
to

as

good a gentleman

as ninety-nine out of every

hundred who assume
a high-class

the

name.

Send him
the

English
will

school and then to Oxford.

There he

get

up
"

the

classics,

only branch worthy of a

gentleman.'

So by the
Vere

Earl's advice
in

I

was sent
:

to

Vere
the
as

de

College,

Yorkshire

Principal,

Rev. Augustus

Caesar,

LL.D.

The

doctor,

he was

called,

received

me

in

a very friendly

manner.

So did the
riotous,

pupils, after their

rather a rollicking kind of way, however.

own way They

were healthy,

and as

full

of mischief as

monkeys.
pulling

Surrounding me, staring at me, and
about, they plied

me
tin?
I

me

with

all

sorts

of questions
lots

— what
in

was

my

governor?

had he

of
did

was Scotland such a wild place?
trousers?

how
kilt

feel

had

I

brought

my

with

me?
from

Then they began
it.

at

home,' as they called

'to make me One borrowed a

sixpence
could

me

;

another,

learning

that

I

not

box, showed

me

the

way and gave

94

THE QUEER FOLK OF
a bloody nose
;

FIFE.

me

and

all

of them joined in
I

crying out, that, as a
footing

new boy,
jolly

must pay

my

and stand them a

spread of pies

and
"

tarts

and rum-shrub.
first
I

For the

few days

I

had rather a

lively
it

time.

As

was a new boy, they thought
all

only right to practise

their

tricks

upon me,

such as putting a bunch of thistles in
filling

my
me

bed,

my

boots

with

hot water, and
seat,

putting
fast

cobbler's

wax upon my
called

which held

when the doctor
for
'

me

to get up.

They

also

exercised their ingenuity in

inventing nicknames
as
(

me, and

I
'

was addressed
'

Scotty,'

'

Haggis,'

Jew,'

and

Balls

(for

they had ferreted out that
a

my

father

had been

pawnbroker).

But

at

length Lord Gulpington,

who was

the trump card

of the college, being the heir to a marquisate,

claimed

me

as his fag,

and would allow no one

to torment

me

except himself.

He

slept in

the
in

same room with me, and generally awoke me
the morning by throwing his slipper at

my

head.

Then
went

I

got

up,
for
I

and, after
his

dressing hurriedly,

down
at

boots

and

his

hot water.

During the day

did anything that he required,

and

night
as

I

often

had to smuggle
it.

in

'grub

and

lush,'

he called

We

got on well

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
together.
in
I

95

was quite delighted
lord
;

to be connected
after a while

any way with a

and

he

said that next to his bull dog, Griffin,

which he

kept at the butcher's in the village, he liked
best of any creature about the place.
"

me

As

far as the

body was concerned, the

pupils

got on very well.

They had

capital appetites,

which

they

constantly attended

to

;

and they

were not content with the abundance that was
placed
before

them, but

they were

constantly

devouring apples, oranges, hardbake, and gingerbeer.

Most hearty were
exercise.

they also

in

taking

physical
football,
if

They

played

cricket

and and

and talked about them incessantly, as

they had been the chief end of
at

man
if

;

they ran

hounds and hares

as

they had
little

been

hunting a fortune, and not a dirty
scraps.

boy with a bag of paper
"

The
I

physical

training, indeed,

was splendid,

but

can't say as

much

for the
little

mental training.

With the exception of a
that
Latin.

Greek, the thing

we always seemed to be grinding at was Our grammar book was in Latin. Our reading book was in Latin. The very grace
was
in Latin.
it
I

said at table
in

tried to fix Latin

my

head, but

came out again

as fast as

I

96

THE QUEER FOLK OF
it

FIFE.
to

put

in.

They endeavoured
giving

improve

my
In

memory by
to despair,

me

several

hundred

verses

commit, but that only made

me

worse.
I

one day

I

told the doctor that

would
that

never be able to learn Latin.
I I

He
to

told

me

must learn
then

it,

if

I

wished

be

educated.

had the presumption to ask him what
it.
'

was the use of
"
'

Oh/ he

said,

it

is

the best instrument for
Besides,
it

training the faculties.

is

the "open

sesame" into good
"

society.'
I

Had

I

been the only backward pupil,
fault lay in

might

have thought that the

my

stupidity.

But with the exception of two or

three, the other

pupils were nearly as bad as myself, and detested
their lessons.
If

a knowledge of Latin was to
into

be

the

'open sesame'

good
in.

society,

I'm

afraid they
"

would never get

At

the end of four years
;

my

course at school

was
I

finished

and before proceeding to Oxford

spent a few weeks at home.
in

One evening my

father,

his

business-like

way, asked
items
laid
I

me
in
I

to
in

return for the

make up an account of the money he had
tell

had got

out,

other

words, to
learnt.

him

distinctly

how much

had

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
'Afraid to go into
least,

97

details,

I

said,

'Well,

at

I've

learnt

the ways

and

manners of a

gentleman.'
"
'

Ah,'
all

replied

my

father,

'

to

be

sure,

that's

worth

the

book knowledge.

You'll be better

able to do business with gentlemen.'

"In
but in
night,

this

way I had staved off an ugly question my own room, before going to bed that
;

I

ran over in
I

my mind
and

what
at

I

had learnt
I

and what
learnt

had not learnt
cricket

school.
to

had
to

to

play

football,

run,

leap, to box, to
bets.
I

smoke, to drink beer, and make
learnt to write a

had not

good hand,
and
to

to

spell correctly,

to count correctly,

know

something of the history and geography of
native country.
"

my

My

mother came

to

have some notion of the

true

state

of matters.

She

had asked

me

to

write to the minister, inviting

him

to our house
friends,
a.

on

a

certain

night to
I

meet some

and

unfortunately

had

spelt meet with an

The

minister was a great humorist, and this was an

occasion for a joke which he could not neglect.

Consequently, he called next morning, with
letter
in

my

his hand, to

ask what kind of meat he
or

would bring

beef,

mutton, or pork.

My

98

THE QUEER FOLK OF
when she understood
So, one

FIFE.
felt it

mother,
keenly.

the mistake,
fireside,

evening at the

while

the Earl and

my
I

father were having their

game

of draughts, she said
"
'

Well, Ben,
all

hope you
your

will get

on

at Oxford,

and correct

deficiencies,

and come out

a perfect scholar.'
"
'

My

dear

madam/
the

said the Earl,
is

if

any place
place.

can make him a scholar Oxford
It

that

has got

all

means

;

it

has the most money,

the best teachers, and the greatest reputation.'
"

My

mother, however, although she

knew

it

not,

was cruelly deceived.

To men who were
But
to

in

love with learning,

Oxford gave every

facility for

maturing their scholarship.

those

who
Into
to

had no such love she could do nothing.
this
fall.

latter

class

I

was

unfortunate

enough

Lord Gulpington was there before me, and

introduced

me

to his set,

which consisted of the

sons of the aristocratic and the wealthy.
youths,

These

though passing through the

curriculum

of the University, were students merely in name.

They
you
!

did

almost everything but

study.

Bless
?

how

could you expect them to do otherwise
find
?

What charms could they

in

musty, out-of-

date Latin and Greek works

They were young,

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
healthy, spirited, and rich
;

99

and the bright and
Everything

breathing world lay around them.
within

them and without them
of attending chapel

called

upon them
morning,
their

to enjoy themselves.

They, indeed, went through
in

the

farce

the

and

lectures in the forenoon.

But everyone,

teachers as well as themselves,
farce.

knew

it

to be a
their

As soon

as

they
their

went

back to
aside,

rooms, they tossed
their
river,

gowns

donned
to

sporting habiliments, and
or

were

off

the the

the

road,

or

the

hunting-field,
in the

or

racecourse.

Then back they came

evening

with a keen relish for other kinds of enjoyment.

They
on as

feasted, they caroused, they

gamboled, they
in fact rattled
feast,

sang jovial glees and choruses, and
if life

were to be a perpetual
as duty, or
I

without
In

any such thing
all

trial,

or suffering.
jolly

these

frolics

mingled.

The
were

fellows,

though they knew

my
'

origin,
Balls,'

and called
free

me by

no other name than

and easy

with me, played practical jokes upon me, borrowed

my
"

money, smoked

my
rooms

cigars,

drank

my

wine,

and even used
But
all

my
the

for their parties.

things

come

to

an end
of

;

and the time
devotees
of

arrived

when

most

these

pleasure had to lay aside their

frivolities,

and, in

ioo

THE QUEER FOLK OF
their degree, or, as

FIFE.

order to please the old folks at home, had to go
in

for

they called
it

it,

'their
called,

smalls.'
(

Many

of them were, as
!

is

plucked,'

and no wonder

Their feathers were

not home-grown, but were borrowed plumes stuck

on with
therefore,

infinite

labour and
off easily.

skill

by

tutors, and,

came
stick,

On me

they would

not even

and so

I

could not go up for the

degree, and had not

even the honour of being

plucked.
"

My

poor parents were spared the chagrin of

seeing the failure of their efforts to

make me

a

gentleman.

Before
in

my
the

Oxford career was

finished,

they died, both

same week, the victims of
its

the terrible Asiatic cholera, during
to this country in 1832.

first

visit

As
saw

I

now came
no

into a
for

considerable

fortune,

I

necessity

adopting a profession, or doing any useful work.

To

enjoy myself was,
;

I

thought, to be
for

my

only

business

and the proper place
all
I

enjoyment was
pleasant and
affairs in

London, the centre of
grand.
So, as soon as
I

that

is

had wound up

Edinburgh,
" I
it is

hastened to the metropolis.

put up at the Golden Cross, and proceeded, as
called,
s

to

do the

sights of London.'

I

visited

picture galleries,

museums,

theatres, concert rooms,

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
until
I

101

was

tired out
terrible

and disgusted.
feeling
I

Then came
people
I

on the most

ever experienced,

a feeling which you
never had.

busy and

healthy
to

/ did not know what
to
stroll

do.

did the

not

care

about

the

streets,

for

everlasting din and endless throng grew intolerable.
I

could not

sit

all

day

in the

coffee-room
entered,

of the hotel, staring at everyone that

and pretending to read the newspaper.
got up in the morning,
it

When

I

seemed as

if I

would

never manage to get through the

day.

Time
present,
I

was

my

great enemy.

It

loaded

the

and blocked up the
it?

future.

How

was

to kill

To do

this

I

would have been inclined to
I

try almost

anything.

now understood how

men committed
I
is

suicide through sheer weariness.

also felt the truth of the saying that idleness

the cause of nearly every crime, and that the

idle

man

does not wait to be tempted, but of his
the
devil.

own accord tempts
appeared.
" I

My

devil

soon

had noticed among the inmates of the hotel

a middle-aged, stout, and grey-headed gentleman,

whom
seemed

the waiters
to

addressed

as

Colonel.

He
he

me

to be round
jollity.

and

oily with health,

good nature, and

One

day,

when

io2

THE QUEER FOLK OF
idle,

FIFE.

appeared to be
with me.

he sat down and had a talk

Without

telling

me much
officer

about himself,
the Spanish

except that he been an
service,

in

he managed to extract from
myself;

me

a good

deal

about

and

when he

heard

me

complain about feeling
his services at
"
'

dull,

he at once placed

my
!

disposal.

London

dull

'

he

said,

'

why,
I,

it's

a paradise,
bee,

a garden

full

of flowers, and

like a
all

or

rather a bumble-bee, have visited

of them.'

"And

certainly

no

idle

man

could

have a

pleasanter companion than the Colonel.

He was
never
the

stimulating and enlivening, like the morning sunshine.

His animal

spirits

and

relish for life

flagged,

and

he

was

always

ready,

when

occasion turned up, to joke, to laugh, to eat, or
to drink.
'

Every day he had some novelty
'

to

offer.

Now,' he would say,

I'll
;
'

give

you

a

treat

that

you never had before

and then he

would drive

me

to

a

racecourse or

some other

resort of fashion, or

he would take
in

me

to

some
the

famous
city, or

old

chop-house

the recesses

of

some new and gorgeous
;

hotel in one of

the fashionable thoroughfares

and, while
little

we

sat

down

to

what he

called,

c

a nice
dish,

dinner,'

he

would introduce some new

or

some new

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
blend of whisky, or some

103

new brand of wine

;

and while we discussed
lips,

it

he would smack his

rub his hands, and look at
'

me

as

much

as to

say,

Did

I

not

tell

you so

?

'

His enjoyment of

the pleasures of the great city never seemed to
fail.

The only

thing,

in

fact,

that

ever failed

with him was money.
change, or had
forgotten

He
his

sometimes had
purse
;

no

but

I

was

only too glad to pay his expenses
his

in

return for

company.
life

I

could not do without him.

He

had made
"

like a

dream, a

little

feverish per-

haps, but exceedingly pleasant.

One

night after the theatre, he took

me
we

to a

house

in the

Haymarket, where, he

said,

could

sup cosily together.
to
his

As soon

as

we had

entered,

great

surprise,

he found two old friends

who had

just arrived from the Continent.

They

were middle-aged, fashionably dressed, and wellmannered, and were introduced to
Spurr and Count Lago.

me

as Captain

At my
all

invitation they

joined us in a private room, where
lobster

we supped on
of whist
I

and champagne, and
as

grew as sociable

and as pleasant

you

like.

A

game
and

was proposed, and the

Colonel

played

against the other two for small stakes.

We

had

astonishing

luck,

and

won game

after

game

104

THE QUEER FOLK OF
at the

FIFE.

and

end of several hours, rose the winners

of a considerable

sum of money.
after

Of

course,

we

continued
there,

the practice of meeting and playing

and

night

night the

same
always

results

happened.

The Colonel
had
never
it

and
been

I

won.
before.

Such a thing

known
and

They

all

attributed

to

me

;

even

the

landlord and the waiters complimented me, and

wondered that

I

did not back
far
;

my luck
I

sufficiently.

This was pleasant so
idea of winning so

but

did not like the

much money, and feared that we might completely clean out our opponents,
and
I

frankly

told

the

Colonel
that

my

feelings

on the matter, and
stop.
"
'

suggested

we should
stop

Stop

!

'

he

exclaimed,
their

'

we

can't

;

we

must

give

them

revenge.

Oh, don't be
they have plenty

afraid that you'll beggar

them

;

of the needful/
"

So on we drove

in

our career of victory, until
to

our winnings amounted

a

large sum.

Then
until

fortune changed, and, strange to say, went on as
steadily against us
as
it

had done

for

us,
all

our

opponents had not only regained
lost,

they

had

but had

won some

of our money.
that

"While on our way home

night

I

said

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.

105

— As to the Colonel
'

our opponents have recouped
stop.'
k

themselves,
"
'

we must now
!

Hang
please.

it
I

'

said the Colonel,

not just yet

if if

you you
so

can't afford to lose
this

any money

can.

Let us adopt

method.

We

are

much money out of pocket. On our first game to-night, let us stake the double of that. If we lose, let us double it again and let us go
;

on

doing

this
it
!

;

and whenever
it

the

luck

turns,

and, hang

you know,

must turn very soon,
all

we

shall,

at

one go, have won

our

money
I

back, and then

we can cry
a

quits.'

"This
that

seemed

dangerous
it.

plan,

but

felt

we must

follow

So on we went, night
and always
piling

after night

losing our games,
till

up the money,

the stake had
I

become some-

thing tremendous, and

became almost mad with
I

excitement.

To

provide funds,

kept selling out

my

investments

and
and

lodging
to

the

money

in

a
I

London
drank
crash
"
I

bank

;

keep

up

my

nerve

champagne

incessantly

— and

then

the

came

woke up one day with
mouth

a head a mass of

pain, a

as dry as a lime-kiln,

and a con-

fused
in

memory

of exciting scenes, to find myself

a bed in our nightly resort.

On summoning
II

106

THE QUEER FOLK OF
I

FIFE.
I

the waiter,

learnt from

him that

had been
me, and

very tipsy, and that the Colonel and his friends

had had some
getting

difficulty
I

in

managing
no time
in

me

to bed.

lost

going to

the Golden Cross Hotel to see the Colonel, but
to
left

my

horror

I

was

told that
all

the

Colonel had
I

that morning with

his luggage.

under-

stood

now
still

the

hellish

plot
I

which

had

been

devised for
I I I

my
ten

ruin

;

but

thanked God that
in
;

had

thousand pounds

the bank.

hurried to the bank to

make

sure

but there

was met with the

intelligence that a gentleman,

that morning, had presented

whole amount, and that
paid
to

all

my cheque for the my money had been
see

him.
it

I

asked

to

the
;

cheque,

thinking that
there was

must have been forged
!

but no,

my

undoubted signature

I

had been

drugged, and while in a stupor

made

to sign

my
The
but

name

;

and

my
it

whole fortune was gone.

Colonel, who,

seems, was notorious as a most
advertised
for,

accomplished blackleg, was

was never caught.
" I

had now
all

to give

up

my

rooms
take

in the hotel, in

and

my

refined

habits,

lodgings
for

a

street near

Drury Lane, and seek

some way
I

of earning

my

bread.

Surely,

I

thought,

can't

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
starve
:

107

in

this

immense community

there

must

be

many thousands

of vacant situations.

But

I

did not take into account, that for every single

vacancy there must be at

least

ten

applicants.

And
I

I

very soon found that the education which
at

had got

school and at the university, and
useless.
in

which had cost so much, was practically
In
fact, it

was now the great stumbling-block
It

my
and
for

way.

had not
I

fitted

me

for

the higher

situations, for
it

could not

even spell correctly
lower situations,
for

had ^fitted me

for the

no one would engage an Oxford scholar
office.
I

a menial

could not even compete with

the ragged street boys in running on an errand,

holding a horse, or sweeping a crossing.
education, picked up the
streets,

Their

amid the mud and
far

jostle of

had

been

more

practical

and

effective

than mine.
labour,
I

Instead, therefore, of living

by

my

was obliged
and
bit

to

subsist

by

pawning
finery,

my

valuables,

after bit

of

my

like

the plumes of a
till

moulting peacock,
left

dropped from me,

I

was

almost

bare.

Then
" I

I

was obliged to give up
streets.

my

lodgings,

and

go out on the

was now an outcast

in

London.

It

seemed

strange that in the midst of so

many thousand

108

THE QUEER FOLK OF
I

FIFE.

houses,

should be without a corner to lay
in the

my

head
I

in,

—that

midst of millions of people

should not have a single one to help me, or

take an interest in me.

Such was
I

my

condition
shillings

on a night of August
in

last.
I

had a few

my

pocket, but as
I

did not see any
it

way by
to

which
be

could earn money,
economical.
I

was necessary
for

rigidly

applied

a night's

shelter at a

cheap lodging-house

in the

Borough,

but

it

was so crowded with shabby,
I

dirty,

and

noisy lodgers that
to leave.
I

turned sick, and was obliged

then tried the casual ward in one of
it

the infirmaries, but

was even more
I

disgusting.

Quite at a loss to know what to do,
aimlessly up and

wandered

down
the

till

I

found myself on

London

Bridge,

when

steeples

were pealing

out the hour of midnight.
I

Footsore and weary,
in

threw myself down on the hard stone seat
;

one of the recesses

but shortly, a poor, slouching

tatterdemalion squatted
laying his
disgust,
city.
I

down

beside me, actually

unkempt head
started up,
after

upon

my

legs.

In

and crawled away into the
I

Hour

hour

dragged

my
I

weary limbs
looking

along the solitary, interminable
for

streets,

some covered doorway where
sleep.

might lay

me

down and

Twice

I

had found a suitable

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
spot
;

109
it,

but before

I

could take possession of

a
I

policeman's lantern was seen approaching, and

was obliged
to break
I

to

move

on.

When morning

began

found myself close to Regent's Park,
green sward appeared a temptation
resist.
I

and the
which
I

soft

could not

Climbing the fence
for

with some difficulty,
tree,

made

a large beech

and

pillowing
roots,

my
grass,

head

on

one

of
legs

its

extended
the
soft

and stretching out
I

my

on

delightful

fell

at

once into a

deep slumber.
"

After several hours of absolute unconsciousI

ness,

had a dream, and thought
Scotland,
in

I

was back

again in

our

garden at Eskbank.
I
;

and heard somebody

calling to me.

gradually

came

to myself,

and opened

my

eyes

and there
in

was a working-man standing over me, and,
accent unmistakably Scotch, calling

an

me by

name,

and asking why

I

was

there.

I

cannot describe

the gush of delight that ran through

me when

I

heard the kindly tones of
realised that here at least

my

native land, and

was a man who took
I

an interest

in

me.

Raising myself up,
to

asked

him how he came
that he belonged
to

know me?

He

told

me

Eskbank, that he used to
that

know me by

sight,

he was on his way to

no
his

THE QUEER FOLK OF
work
in

FIFE.

Regent Park Gardens, and that he

was astonished to see
there.

me

lying like an outcast

story?
before

What could I do but tell him my sad He said that it might be a long time
I

could get any suitable berth in London,

and that

my

best plan would be to go

home

at

once, and that he would lend
all

me

five shillings

that he

had on him

—to

help

me on my

way.

My
and

heart bounded with delight at the suggestion,
I

wondered that
So, taking
his

I

had never thought of
offered
loan,

it

before.

his

and along

with

it

address, and promising to repay him
I

as soon as

was
and

able,

I

shook hands with
once to prepare
to

my
for

humble

friend,

set off at

my
on
I

journey.

Not having enough money
I

pay

the fare either by coach or boat,
foot,

resolved to go

and hoped that by taking every precaution,
find
it

would not

too

much

for

me, and that

I

might be able to get some odd jobs by the road,
which would
assist

my
in

expenses.

So

I

packed

up

all

my

effects

a napkin, and bravely set

my
"

face to the north.

When, from the top of Highgate, I had taken my last look of the smoky wilderness called
London, and when
the rich
I

turned to go forward through
I

autumn landscape,

felt

really

happy.

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
After

in
rows of

my

bitter experience of the endless

brick houses, and the everlasting stone pavement,
I

enjoyed the long lines of leafy trees and hedges,
soft,

and the

fragrant wayside grass.

The very

thought that every step was taking

me

nearer

home was
four

a delight in

itself.

That the distance was
hounds and

hundred miles did not seem to matter much.
school's sports, especially that of

Our
hare,
all

had taught

me

to hold

in,
I

and not expend

my

resources at once.

So

moved along
hot,

at

a steady, regular pace, taking care not to strain

my

muscles.

When my
did

feet

grew

I

refreshed
faintness
;

them by walking

into a brook.

When

came

on,

I

not seek the ale-house
loaf,

but

I

bought
wayside

a penny
well,

and

sitting

down by a
For
dessert,

found that plain bread and water

were both palatable and invigorating.
I I

sometimes had a young Swedish turnip, which
found more sweet and juicy than any pine-apple
ever tasted.

I

At

night, as the weather continued
I

remarkably dry and warm,
air to the

preferred the open
;

tramp's lodging-house
in
I

and under the

newly-cut corn sheaves, or
haystack,
I

the recess of a

slept soundly

till

was wakened by

the rising sun.
"

With

all

my

economy,

however,

my

little

ii2

THE QUEER FOLK OF
money melted
if
I

FIFE.
;

stock of

fast

away
be

and

I

soon
the

saw

that

wished

to
I

saved from

degradation of begging
I

must earn something.
which
I

therefore hit

upon a plan
to

thought

would be sure
This was to

get

me some employment.
clergymen through
tell

call
I

upon the
passed, to

whose parishes
cause of

them frankly the them
in the

my

degradation, and to ask

name

of Christian charity to allow
for

me

to

do

some work

them, by which

I

could earn a
But, unfortun-

meal or a small sum of money.
ately,
this

patent plan of mine

failed.

Without

exception, the parish priests listened to

my
I

story

with an incredulous look, shook their heads, and
shut their doors in
to ask one
"
'

my

face.

At length

ventured

why he

disbelieved
said,

me
'

?

My

good man,' he

I

can't help

it.

I

have been so often taken

in

by people
is,

like you.

The more
it

plausible your story
false.'

the more likely

is

to be

"'You
crime?'
"
'

look upon poverty, then,' said

I,

'as a

No,' he replied,

'

not exactly, but as one of
I

the marks of a criminal.
can't help
"
I
it.'

may be

wrong, but

I

saw, too,

that

my

fellow-tramps

had

the

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
same
opinion

113

about

me.
I

One

evening,

at

a

sudden turn of the road,
face with one of a most

found myself face to

villainous type.

There

was no mistaking him.

He was

a real London-

made

rough, spawned in the gutter, bred in the

slums, moulded in the jostle of the streets, with

plunder
tongue.
"

in

his

look

and

blasphemy

on

his

Planting himself right before me, and devour-

ing
'

me
I

with his rat-like eyes, he croaked out,

Well,
"

my

bloomin' cove

!

what lay are you on

'

?

told

him that
in

1

was a gentleman who had
London, and was now on
native country.
?
'

been unfortunate

my way " Oh
'
1

back to
!

my
fork

a gent are you
,

he

said,

with a sneer
;
'

;

then,

by

out like a gent

and he

seized

me by "And now,
off

the coat collar.
for

the

first

time,

I

found

I

had

been taught at school something that was

useful.

Throwing
myself
in

his

hand,

I

leapt
;

back, and

put
a

a boxing attitude

and, as he

made

furious assault
letting

upon me,
left

I

parried his blows, and

go

my

straight

from

the

shoulder,

landed on his jaw a crashing blow which sent

him

to the grass

;

and there he lay half-stunned,
heap of
filthy clothes.
I

and looking

like a

asked

ii4

THE QUEER FOLK QF
if

FIFE.
getting
reply,
I

him

he would have

any more, and
in

nothing but a terrible imprecation
left

him, and went on
this

my
I

way.
I

"By
was
without

time

I

had passed Newark, and

in a sorry plight.

was without shoes and

a waistcoat, and
all

my
I

hat was

crushed

and battered out of
feet

shape.

With bleeding

and empty stomach,

was limping along
Touching

painfully,

when
reapers
I

I

came
near

to a farmer superintend-

ing

his

the
if

roadside.

my

forehead,

asked him
a job

he could not give a

starving

man
lad,'

by which he could earn a
(

bite of bread.
"
'

No
I

he

said,

but
I

if

ye had coomed when

the taters were
job.

young

could have given you a

might have employed you as a scare-

crow.'
"

Thereupon

all

the workers laughed, especially
skirl

the

women, who sent up a loud
I

of delight.
also heart-

So
"

had to crawl

on, footsore,

and

sore at the cruelty of

my

fellow-creatures.
I

But

relief

was

at hand.

had not gone
I

far,

when, turning a corner of the road,
a strange sight
:

came upon
coat,

a fat

little

man, with a red

and a red

face,

both discoloured by the weather,
his dinner,

sitting at the

edge of a wood, eating

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
with his
perties
little

115

dog

in front of

him, and his pro-

—a

Punch and Judy show, a big drum,
pipes

and

Pandean
which

— indistinctly
He was
with
a

seen

in

the

foliage

behind him.

eating bread and
clasp-knife,

cheese,

he

cut

and

Toby was eyeing him
occasional
so hearty,
bit.

greedily, ready to snap his

Everything about the
so suggestive

man was
the

and

of

sunshine and

country roads, that he seemed to
landscape.

warm up

"As soon
out,
'

as he caught sight of
!

me

he called

Hallo, mate
bit.

you seem done

up.

peck a
big

Sit down.'

And

he

Come and handed me a
and when at
produced
a

hunk of bread and another of
I

cheese, looking
;

on beamingly when
length
flask.
"
'

devoured

it

I

could

eat

no

more, he

Here
of
!

is
it
;

some of the
it

right sort

;

take a good
works.

swig

will

oil

your
to see

digestion

Man
grub.

it I

does

me good
yarn.'
I

you enjoy your
pipe and

feel as if I

were eating a second dinner.

Now
"
'

for

your

Then he

lit

his

smoked while
Ah,' he
is

gave an account of myself.

said,

knocking out the ashes,
I,

'

my

case
a

not altogether unlike yours.

too, got

good education, or what was intended

to be a

n6

THE QUEER FOLK OF
But
I

FIFE.

good education.
place.

I

could never settle in any
rolling stone, or rather

By

nature
ball

was a
;

a rolling

of fat

and Fortune, mistaking

me
to

for

a football, began to kick

me

about,

and

has been playing with

me

ever since.

But thanks

my
!

fat, I
!

always

fall

soft

and always rebound.
his

Ha

ha

'

and he laughed
his

till

face puckered
steel

up and
beads.
"

showed

eyes

like

two small

While he was
pipes,

talking,
I

I

had taken up the
a

Pandean
them.
"
'

and

now played

tune

on

Ah

!

'

he
I

said,

'

can you work that
'

'

?

"
'

Yes,'

replied

;

when

I I

was a boy
so

in

Edin-

burgh, there was nothing
in

much

delighted

as a

to loiter

I Punch and Judy performance. used for hours at the foot of the Mound, and

see

it

repeated

again and again

;

and coming

upon
«
<

a

set
I

of

Pandean pipes
Greener
his
it

in

my
as
I

father's

pawnshop,

used to practise upon them.'

Why,' said

Joe

(for,

learnt

afterwards, this

was
Aint

name), 'you're the very

man

I

want.

lucky?

To

tell

you the two

truth, I'm in a bit of a fix.

days ago with
at the price.'

all

the

swag.

My A

pal bolted

good riddance

(And here Joe abandoned himself

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
to his
all

117

peculiar

snigger.

He seemed
it

to
if

laugh
with

his trouble

away, and blow

off as

a gust of merriment.)
"
'

I

have written/ he continued,

'

for

an

old

partner in London, but he can't

come
for

for

some
All

weeks.
I'll

Meanwhile

you'll
in
is

do

a

substitute.

soon coach

you up

the

business.

that

you have got to do
begins,

to play the overture
it

before the drama

and while

is

going

on to

collect the

money and keep
are six

the imps of

children from pulling aside the baize and peeping
in.

The terms
;

bob a week and your
rig

grub

and

I'll

advance something at once to

you
"

out.'

The bargain was

struck

;

and that evening,

in

the inn yard of the neighbouring village,
rehearsals,

we

had several

and

I

felt

that I

would

manage
"

to get through

my

part fairly well.

Behold

me

now, an Oxford man, and formerly
swells,
It

the

chum

of lords and

degraded into a

Punch and
life.

Judy

assistant.
in

was a bustling
all

We

were out
fairs,

the road in
in the
fact,

weathers,

performing at

and
In

evenings in small

towns and

villages.

wherever we saw

groups of people hanging about on the outlook
for

amusement, we

set

up our

stage.

Once we

n8

THE QUEER FOLK OF FIFE.
my
old school,

were hired to amuse the boys at

Vere de Vere College.
feelings

I

cannot describe the
character,
I

with

which,

in

my new
I

entered the well-known scenes.
feeling

My
my

uppermost

was the

fear lest

should be identified
infinite
relief,

as a former scholar.
I

But, to

saw that

all

the pupils and the servants were
doctor, indeed, stared at

strangers.

The
as
if

me

for

a

moment

he recognised
'

me

;

but he turned
!

away, muttering

No, no, impossible

'

He

could

not believe that anyone

who had had
being
taught

the

un-

speakable
could

advantage

of

by him

possibly have fallen so low.

His conceit

saved me.
"

This vagrant
;

life

had

its

drudgery and

its

difficulties
it

but there were certain things about
liked

that

I

very

much
the

:

the

quiet

country

roads,

the

resting

on

green

grass

under

hawthorn hedges, the palatable dinners of bread

and

cheese and

cider

at

rustic

inns,

and

the

merry faces that clustered round us when that

abandoned
pranks.

rascal at

Punch

began

to

play

his

But,

the end of a few weeks, Joe

Greener's former pal arrived

from London, and

my

occupation was gone.
to

So, bidding a hearty
I

farewell

my

merry benefactor,

turned

my

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
face

119

northwards

again,

and
I

partly

by walking
far.

and partly by coaching,

have come thus

"When
listened

I

arrived

at

your gate to-night, and

to

the well-remembered

sound of the

wind

in

the big plane tree, the past
I

came back

upon me, and and as
if

felt

as

if

I

were a boy again,

my

strange experiences at Oxford and
the medley of a dream."

London were but
live

"Bless me," cried Miss Grizzie, "did you ever

here?" and she and her

sister

were on their

feet scrutinising the face of the stranger.
"

Yes," he said quietly
I

;

" I

once lived

in this
it.

very house, and

can give you a proof of
fireplace there,

Look

at the

back of the

on the

left-hand side,

and you

will see the letters B. L.

cut in a stone."
to

They

all

crowded round the

fire

look

;

and, surely enough, they detected the
indistinct,

initials,
still

badly formed and rather

but

recognisable.
Lizzie, turning

Then Miss
intently
at

round and looking
out,

the

stranger,
!

called

"Are you

Ben Levy ?

Eh

I

thocht that there was someI

thing about yer face that

should ken.

Ah!

I

mind ye weel
and

—a

bit

laddie, comin'

ower here

in

yer vakens, and introducin' yersel as oor coosin,
steyin' for three or four weeks."

120
"

THE QUEER FOLK OF
But yer
I

FIFE.
"

faither,"

said
I

Miss Grizzie,
o'

was a
bein'

gentleman,

thocht.

never heard

him

a pawnbroker."
"

No," said Ben,
the
three

"

he had retired by that time

from

balls,

and wished

them

to

be

forgotten."

Hillend,

now
fain

putting his hand on the shoulder
said,
"

of

the stranger,

Oh man
I

!

is

this

you

?

Man, I'm

to see ye.

mind ye weel

— an
the

auld-farrant loon, dour at the readin', writin', and
coontin', but

ready with yer haunds, and

in

thick of everything

—howin',
a'

shearin',

and

threshin',

— and
really
"
tell

wi'

an awfu' wark

wi' bease.

An' have ye
:

been through

thae ups and doons

and

what are ye gaun

to dae

noo?"
what
I

Well," said Ben,

" that's just
I

want

to
all

you.

You

see

have had

my

chances

the advantages which a
tion, society,

man

could have

—educaa curse
evident

money.

I

could not use them, and

they nearly did for me.
to me.
I

They have been
again.
It is
is

don't

want them

that

my
to

proper sphere
I

a humble lot in the
if

country.

shall

be content

anybody allows

me

work

in the fields,

and gives

me

in return

bed and board and a

suit

of clothes once a year.

A

man who

has frequently supped on a turnip

THE GENTLEMAN TRAMP.
and
of
slept

121

under a hedge,

will

look upon a cog
in

oatmeal porridge and a bunch of straw

the barn as real luxuries."
Hillend's eyes glistened.
"

"

Well," he thought,
fireside,

here's

something new at a farmer's

a

man
o'

that has gaen

up and doon the hale ladder
a'

Fortune, and

kens

the

changes

o'

Life.

What
nichts

a companion he
!

will

be for the long winter
livin'

A' the tales
!

o'

the Borders in one

edition

A

well

that can
!

always be pumped,
I

and

will

never gang dry

think

we must ask
sisters,

him

to stey for a

week

or

twa at

least."

He

gave a significant glance at his
it.

they returned

Then he
till

said

and

"

Ye

micht stey

on here
It

for

a wee

ye can look aroond ye.

happens that Jamie Doo, oor orra man, has
left.

just

Ye

can tak his place, and
that's

pit

oot your
ye'se get

haund
and

to

ony job

wanted

;

and
o'

a bed in the bothy, and your share
kail that's

the parritch

gaun

in the kitchen."

Weeks, months, and even years passed, and

Ben Levy
is

still

remained at the farm.

The
the

truth

that they could not do without him.

He was
two
and
of work
;

the factotum
sisters.

of Hillend, and also of
if

During the day,
he was the

any
it

stress

arose,

man

to push

through

122

THE QUEER FOLK OF
the evening,
if

FIFE.
in,

in

any

visitors

dropt

he was
startling

the

man

to

entertain

them with

his

experiences.

One remark he always made
his

at

the end of

story.

" It's

strange that a few weeks ex-

perience of country labour in

my

boyhood should
all

have been more useful to

me
It
it's

than

my

school

and university education.
earn

has enabled

me

to

my
in
it.

bread.

I

believe

because

my

heart

was

"

'

The

heart's aye the part

aye
:

That maks us

richt or wransr.'

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
In

my

boyhood

I

was

familiar

with
seen

a
in

thin

emaciated

man, that

used

to

be

the

streets of Sandyriggs.

Consumption had wasted
quenched
his spirit.

his body,

and

utterly

Wan
faces

and dumb, he moved among the healthy
of
the

town
sight
led

folk

like

a ghost

;

and

it

was a
outside

painful
stair

to to

see
his

him crawl up the
solitary

that

room above the

butcher's

shop.

People called him "a blighted

being" and "a living wreck," and associated his

name with
talk

a tragedy which had long been the Yet, twenty years before,

of the county.

he began his career under the most favourable
auspices.

When Malcolm

Blair

entered the University

of St Andrews, he might have been considered

a favourite of Fortune.

He was

the only son

and the pride of

his father, a prosperous farmer.
his

His body was healthy and handsome, and

124

THE QUEER FOLK OF
agile

FIFE.

mind
relish,

and

enthusiastic.

He

had a keen
but for

not

only for

material
It

blessings,

knowledge of every kind.

was as pleasant to
morning walk.
in
classics,
all

him

to study as to take a bracing

Without

any

difficulty
literature,

he

drank
science.

mathematics,
college
place,

and

In

the
first

competitions

he

easily

took

the

and

at the

end of every session came out

the

first

man

of his year.
time, his learning did not
unsocial.
"

At

the

same

make
use a

him moody and
homely phrase)
promoted
spirits.

He
good

put

it

(to
It

into

a

skin."

was

thoroughly digested, became part of his being,
his general health,

and fed
for

his

buoyant
aside
rioted
"

When

the

time came

tossing

his
in

books, mirth danced in his eyes and
his laugh.

His motto seemed to be

Taste

life's

glad

moments."

At

all

the

students'

recreations
night, the

— the

social gatherings

on the Friday

Saturday excursions into the country,
junketings
at
life

the

jolly

Guardbridge

and

at

Leuchars

—he

was the
tell

of the company.

He

could sing,

recite,
it

stories,

make

a speech or

" screamer," as

was

called,

and give the most
" is

ludicrous imitation of the different professors.
" Blair,"

said one of his friends,

irrepressible.

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.

125

How
food

does he keep up that vivid tone, both of
?

body and mind
and
gas."

One would imagine
his

that his

was ambrosia and
the
air

drink was

nectar

which he

breathed was laughing-

Altogether Blair was a youth

full

of promise,

and

apparently

destined

for

a

popular

and

successful career.

But

it

was

this highly-strung excitable

tempera-

ment that brought him
St Andrews,

into danger.

The time

came, towards the end of his Arts curriculum
at

when

"

the

young man's fancy
If

lightly turned

to thoughts of love."
in

he had
life,

been privileged to mix
his fancy

cultured

family

might have settled on a suitable
the

object.

But
caste

in

St Andrews, where

distinctions

of

are

strongly defined, the students are un-

fortunately placed.

They
or

are regarded as being
class
;

beneath

the

upper

professional

and

they consider themselves as above the under or
trading
family
class.
life,

They
thus

are, therefore, shut

out from
in their

and are

left to
it

herd together
to pass that

lodgings.
Blair's
till

And
on

came

Malcolm

fancy was unable to find a resting-place
settled
his landlady's daughter.

it

Grace

Bourhill,

daughter

of

Mrs

Bourhill,

126

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.

lodging-house keeper in College Street, had no
special

charms beyond a fresh complexion and

a pair of bright eyes.

But she was ambitious,
fascinations

and

tried

all

her

little

on

Mr

Blair.

When
tidy

she brought in his meals, she was always
as

Hebe

herself

or

neat-handed
she would

Phyllis.

When
eyes.

he spoke to

her,

blush

and

smile and

look at him from

the corner of her

When

she ran against him in the lobby,

she would show the prettiest confusion, and after

begging pardon, would
fawn.

trip

away

like a startled

As

a matter of course, he soon

saw that
not help

the girl

was fond of him, and could
her

appreciating

good
in

feeling

and

taste.

He

found a pleasure
ing
to
her,

looking upon her and speak-

and when he was singing Burns's

songs, he would often call

up her image

to help
all

him

to realise the poet's heroines.

Yet

the

while he never once thought of her as a suitable
partner for him.

He

considered the whole affair

as an innocent flirtation.

Miserable delusion

!

He
close.

soon found out his mistake.
Blair's

curriculum

was

drawing

to

a

He

was about

to take farewell of St

Andrews'

University.

As he was preparing

himself for

the Dissenting Ministry, his divinity studies were

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
to be prosecuted in

127

Edinburgh.

It

was a time

of great excitement
winter, with
its

among

the students.
its

The

dull

days and
its

hard work, had

gone
its

;

and the spring, with

bright hours and

prospect of country holidays, had come.
in the air,

Song

and laughter were
one
to
;

and infected every

and the evenings were entirely given up
merry-meetings.
these

farewell

One

of

the

most

important of

was the Gaudeamus of the

Literary Society, held in the Cross

Keys Hotel.
and a galaxy

The

chair

was taken by an honorary member, a
;

divinity student of jovial tendencies

of youthful faces,

all

glowing with intelligence and

good humour, was grouped before him.

What
with
its

could be the result but an utter abandonment to
the influence of the
its

time?
;

The
for

past,

all

trials,

was forgotten

the future, with

pro-

mised happiness, was taken
present, with
its

granted

;

and the

grateful pleasures, engrossed their

whole

souls.

Prominent among the company was Malcolm
Blair.

He

was, in

a certain
just

sense, the hero of
literary

the evening.

He had

completed his

course with the greatest distinction, having taken
his

degree of Master of Arts with special comfirst

mendation, and come out the

man

of his

128

THE QUEER FOLK OF
every branch
;

FIFE.
had, therefore,

year in

and
in

he
the

every reason for being

highest

spirits.

During dinner
a constant

his jokes

and anecdotes kept up
sang
songs
style.

roar.

After dinner he

and proposed

toasts in the
all,

most

effective

And
the

then to crown
voice of

he was called upon by

the whole

company
on

to

give

his

imitation of

Tammy,
and

the mathematical professor.

Standing
grimaces,

up,

putting
gestures,

the well-known

awkward
to

and

broad

Scotch

accent, he delivered a speech

on elocution, urg-

ing them

all

cultivate a correct

and refined

style of speaking,

and

to take

an example from

him, the speaker, who, though born and brought

up

in

Fife,

had so

thoroughly got
of

rid

of his
that

native peculiarities

phrase

and

accent,

he defied any stranger to detect even his nationality.

He
;

sat

down amid

a prolonged shout of

applause
cries of "
calls

and on every

side he

was saluted with

Health and Imitation," and with pressing

from dozens of his admirers to drink with

them.

Replying to these on the spur of the moment,
he imbibed more than he was aware of;
thus
it

and

happened, when the meeting broke up,

that he was in a state of the highest excitement.

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
This
state

129

of

excitement
another

was,

indeed,

very

unfortunate.

But

unfortunate

circum-

stance was fated to happen.

On
was

that particular
it

night, of all nights in the year,
his

chanced that
seized
his

landlady,
fit
;

Mrs
a

Bourhill,

with a

sort of

and when he reached
most
distressing

lodgings,

he

witnessed
lying

plight
sofa,

— the
in

mother
daughter
despair.

insensible

on

the

and the

wringing

her

hands

and

crying

Alarm and
and
after

pity took possession of his

heart

;

uttering a few words of

sym-

pathy and comfort, he rushed away and brought

back

a

doctor.
practice,

The
was

doctor,

a

young
and

man

beginning

solemn

taciturn.

Asking a few questions, and

feeling the pulse of
tried

Mrs
one

Bourhill,

he looked very grave, and
after
;

restorative

another

until

at

length

she opened her eyes
the daughter, he led

and

then, with the aid of

her to her bedroom

and

shut the door.
Blair
result.

retired

to

his

own room
the

to

wait

the

The minutes passed
sound
to

slowly without a
oppressive
silence.

single

break

At

last

he heard the doctor go, and shut the
;

outer door

but he waited in vain for any other
all

sound.

Sick of suspense, and imagining

sorts of

130
evil,

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.

he crept quietly out of his room and entered
;

the parlour

and there he found Miss Bourhill
"

seated on a chair, the picture of silent misery.
"

What

has happened

?

he asked,

in

a voice of

alarm.

She answered by breaking down
of weeping.
"

into a

paroxysm
what

For God's sake, Miss
?

Bourhill," he cried, "
"
?

has happened

Is

your mother dead

Then she

rose,

and with her hair streaming

over her shoulders, and the tears running
her cheeks, she clasped his hands, and said,

down
"

Oh,

Mr am

Blair!
I

you have been so
I

kind.

But what

to

do? what am

to
is

do?

The

doctor

says that mother's condition
that another attack
left

very serious, and

may

be

fatal,

and

I

shall

be

alone in the world with

nobody

to care for

me."

And

here she broke
this

down

again.

Now, what could

unsophisticated

lad

do,

wrought up as he was by various causes into a
high state of excitement?

What

could he do

but take her hand, and pat her on the shoulder,
and, in his anxiety to soothe her, protest that

he would take care of her?
promises he

And

other tender

made which he was

afterwards told

about, but which he did not remember.

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
Next morning he awoke with a
the confusion, however, there fused feeling which cannot be described.
all
still

131

curious, con-

Amid
up

started

the impression that he had said to Miss Bourhill

many
sion
to

things which he ought not to have said.

He

feared, in fact, that

he had given her the impresher
;

that he really loved

and he resolved
her mind.

lose

no time

in
it

disabusing

He
and
for

would represent

as an ordinary flirtation,

would apologise most earnestly and humbly
trifling

with her feelings.

He was

not going to
blighted,

allow his future

prospects to be

and
all

he must set himself right at once, and at
hazards. But,
unfortunately,
this

resolute

plan

of his was
stances.

utterly foiled

by unforeseen circumMiss

No
into

sooner had he stepped out of his
the

bedroom
both

passage than

Bourhill,

radiant with

the consciousness of one

who was
really
his

loving

and

beloved,

and

looking

beautiful,

had thrown her arms around
;

neck

and was embracing him

and her mother, glow-

ing with recovered health,

came up and

saluted

him

also.
is

"Mother," said the daughter, "this
husband."

my

future

And

the mother, blessing

them

fervently, pro-

132

THE QUEER FOLK OF
was the very one

FIFE.
she herself

tested that he

whom

would have chosen, and congratulated him upon
his

having secured such a priceless jewel.
canna," said she, "strum on the pianny,

"She
but
she
She'll

can

darn

stockins

and

mak

shirts.
she'll

no

be able to jabber French, but

scrub and cook and keep yer manse comfortable.

And

she's high-spirited
o'

too,

and

she'll

keep the
proper

members
places.
wife."

the

congregation
jist

in

their

She was

born to

be

a

minister's

Now
as he
if

what could the fated Malcolm
in

do, involved

was

such a witches'

coil

!

He

felt

that

he didn't speak out and protest at once he
lost
;

was

but the smiles, caresses, and blandish-

ments that were rained upon him, drugged and
chloroformed his
powers, and literally shut his

mouth
less.

;

and he remained speechless and helpdays afterwards, Malcolm Blair
left

Two

St

Andrews an engaged

man.

The one

fatal

mistake had been made.

During the six months of the summer vacation
that Scotch

students enjoy, Malcolm
his

Blair

had

been accustomed to continue
the

studies

under
a

most exhilarating circumstances.
it

What

pleasant change

was from the closeness and

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
monotony of St Andrews' lecture-rooms
airy
to

133

the

canopy and ever-changing team
;

glories of nature

And man

oh, the delight, at daybreak,

when

the plough-

drove

his

afield

amid the

thousand

melodies of morn

or at

noon,

when a golden
cornfields,

haze brooded over the pastures and

and the
the bee
flowers
;

silence

was broken only by the
the evening,

hum

of

or

in

when

the

scent of

was

in the air
firry

and the coo of the cushat
woodland

came from the
to dwell

—oh,
"

the delight

upon the country scenes of the Mantuan
roll

Bard, or
or
trill "

out the winged words of Homer, of the

the native wood-notes wild

Swan

of

Avon.

Standing on the same green earth,

under the same glorious sky, and amid the same
perennial
influences,
their

he

was

able

to

look
in

at

things
spirit,

from

point of

view

and

their

and
to

thus virtually to

realise

— to

make

real

himself

their

thoughts

and

feelings

regarding Nature.

But now, what a
the
fields

difference

!

He moped
being.

about

and hedges a blighted

The

consciousness of his calamity, like a frosty cloud,

enveloped
this

his

imagination

;

and,
lost
its

seen

through

cloud, the

world had

glory.

And
came

before he had been a

week

at

home

there

134

THE QUEER FOLK OF
betrothed

FIFE.

from his

a letter which brought the

blush to his cheek.
spelling, the

With unsteady pen and bad
girl

poor

had laboured
!

to

express

her affection, but, alas

had only betrayed her

meagre and undeveloped mind.
epistle

As he

read this

at

breakfast,

his

mother was

watching

him
his

;

and he knew that she was wondering who
illiterate

correspondent

could
for

be

;

and

to

give her no

more ground
to bribe

suspicion, he

was

mean enough

Marjory, the servant, to

bring his letters in future directly to himself, and not to lay them on the breakfast table.

One

day, however,
it

when he was superintending
was
called) the
brain,

(or "grieving," as

haymakers,
instantly
his

an idea struck

across

his

and
filled

changed

his

whole

mood, and

heart

with delight.
just

Grace, he thought, was uneducated
it

now, but was

necessary that she should
clever,

remain so ?

She was naturally bright and
to learn.
?

and without doubt would be eager
earn some

Why
would

should she not have the opportunity

He

with this
class

money by going out money he would send
where

as a tutor,

and
first-

her to a

boarding-school,

she

would
;

learn

the accomplishments, manners, and graces

and

thus she would become a young lady of

whom

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
anyone
in his position

135

might be proud.
easily be realised!
letter,

A

fond

dream which might so
But when,
his
in his

next

he had propounded
it

plan to Grace, she, instead of accepting
it

gratefully, rejected

with the utmost scorn.
in

She

had some
none

difficulty

expressing her love, but

in giving

vent to her indignation.

So (she

wrote) he was ashamed of her because she could

not jabber a few French phrases, and
the piano
;

hammer on

and he wanted her

to

go to one of

those boarding-schools, where nothing but what

was bad could be learned.

She would not go
;

to

one of these dens of wickedness

but as he was

ashamed of

her,

she would poison herself, and
lie

her murder would
Blair's
first

at his door.

Thus ended
educate
his

and

last

attempt

to

betrothed.

Three years had passed without altering the
state of matters.

His parents had come to know

of his engagement, and he saw,

by

their looks,

how deeply

disappointed and chagrined they were.
;

He had

frequently visited Grace

and although
affec-

he could not help being pleased with her

tionate greeting, yet her frequent vulgar remarks,

and her mother's coarse

style

of joking, stung
there happened a

him

to the quick.

And now

136

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.

change of circumstances which

stirred

up within
delight.

him a strange mixture of vexation and

The
and

letters

of Miss Bourhill

came

to

be short

far

between.

He

suspected that there was

some new
ascertain
correct.

attraction

engrossing
in

her

;

and

he
to

asked a confidential friend
if

St

Andrews
suspicion

this

was

so.

His

was

She was frequently seen with a

divinity
after

student,
sort,

by name Harker, good-looking
In

a

but notoriously self-indulgent and even loose
fact,

in his principles.

his

very

name
girls

at the
;

University seemed
his

redolent of dissipation

and

presence

among
deemed
snowy

innocent young
absolutely

would

have

been

blighting.

He

would have looked
a troop of

like

an obscene raven among
This
it

doves.

man was now
upon
him.

Mrs

Bourhill's

lodger,

and

was evident that

Miss Grace was trying her charms

The
clear.

reason of

this

double-dealing was equally

As

a student of the Established Church,

he had the prospect of a better manse, and a
larger

and surer stipend, than Blair would ever

possess.

This

revelation
;

threw
various
:

Blair

into

a fever of
within

excitement

and

feelings

him

struggled for the mastery

Indignation at being

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
jilted for

137

such a worthless
into
;

rival

;

shame

at having

been

inveigled
flirt

tying

himself

to

such

a

mercenary

determination to do his utmost

to free himself;

and exultation
so.

at the prospect of

being able to do
whirlpool

Under the
he
set

influence of this

of

emotion

out

to

walk

to

St Andrews, and was carried along at a great
pace, scarcely noticing the objects that he passed,

and making

little

of the long distance.

As he
into
his

drew near
his

to the

ancient city, there
that
instantly

came
revived

view two figures
feelings

flagging

— Harker
dogged

and

Miss
links.

Bourhill

returning from

a walk

on the

Keeping
and

well behind them, he

their footsteps,

watched with a fiendish

gratification

how they

talked, looked into each other's faces
until
in

and laughed,

they reached College Street and disappeared
Bourhill's house.

Mrs

Then he entered
the
surprise

with-

out

much ceremony,
a

received

and
in

the salutation

of the two
cold

women, who were

the lobby, with
that he wished

and stern manner, said
Grace alone, and
the door

to speak with

following her into the parlour, locked
to

keep the mother

out.
in

Malcolm
feelings.

lost

no time
told

giving vent to
reports

his

He

her

the

that

had

K

138

THE QUEER FOLK OF FIFE.
;

reached him
acter of

he exposed the deplorable char-

Harker; he demanded that she should
all

break

off

correspondence

with
a

this
;

man
and
on

whose
he

touch

was an

insult

to

woman
she

wound up by saying
for
all,

that

must,

the spot, and once

choose between him

and

this

new

admirer.

He

spoke with great

vehemence and determination, and expected to
see her completely
confusion.

overwhelmed with shame and

But what was
this

his

astonishment to find

that

uneducated

girl,

with nothing but her animal
all

cunning, was more than a match for

his culture,

and was prepared to defend her conduct out and
out.

With

the air and

smile of one

who was
Did he

dealing with a testy and unreasonable child, she

proceeded to argue the matter with him.
really

mean

to blame her, because she spoke to

her mother's lodger, and because she allowed him,

when he met her
her ?

in the street, to

walk home with

And

did he really wish her to promise not

to speak to to turn
in their

Mr Harker?
as

They could not
insult him.

afford

him away, and

long as he remained

rooms they could not

Then,

waxing righteously indignant, she demanded why
he employed sneaks to
tell

tales of her,

and why

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
he came raging and locking the door as were going to murder
her.
if

139

he

The
for

fact was, that

he was ashamed of
quarrel,
off.

her,

and wanted to pick a
throwing her

and to get an excuse

But, thank

God

!

although she was a poor

girl,

she was not without friends.

Her

uncle, the

solicitor in

Edinburgh, would see that she was

not wronged.

And

having said

all

this

calmly,

she unlocked the door and went out.
After a rest and slight repast at the Star Hotel,

Malcolm returned
thoughts.

home

full

of the

gloomiest
in

This wretched

girl

had come out

her true character
less.

cunning, unscrupulous, heartliberty of throwing

While she claimed the
off,

him
her

he was not to have the liberty of throwing

off.

That reference
that
if

to her uncle, the solicitor,

showed

the terrors
necessary,

of
to

the law would be

employed,
bargain.

keep

him

to

his

It

was

a

gloomy
;

future

that

was

opening up before him

and

for several

days he

wandered aimlessly about, the most melancholy
of men.

But Nature takes care that a healthy young
soul
shall

not droop for
it

long.

Like a down-

trodden daisy,

revives

under the influence of
its

sunshine and shower, and opens

heart to the

i4

o

THE QUEER FOLK OF
When
letter

FIFE.

brightness of Spring.

weeks had passed

without bringing a

from Miss Bourhill, he
confident.

became sanguine, nay, even
flirtation

Her new

was evidently prospering.
;

Harker would

soon be licensed

and, as he was glib and clever

enough, he would soon get a church and marry
her
;

and then, oh
from his

!

what an ominous cloud would
life
!

be

lifted
!

He would

then be a free

man

And

so a miraculous

change now came
;

over him.

His youth seemed to be restored

and

he began to look with a new and fresh interest

on

all

the old familiar scenes.

His mother noticed
;

the transformation, and knew the cause

and, as

she said to her husband,

"

Now

that the

boy was

himself again, the farmyard and the fields seemed
brighter

and pleasanter."
this exultation

But unfortunately

was premature.

One
sat

evening towards the end of March, as he
in

the

parlour

reading

the

county paper,

his eyes fell
like

upon a paragraph which struck him
shock.

an

electric

He
given

tried

hard to fancy
all

that the

narrative might
details

not be true after
in

but the
stantial

were

such a circum-

and confident manner, that he was com-

pelled in the end to believe them.
as follows
:

They were

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
"Sad Death of a Student.
"

141

last, two divinity students, Harker and Johnstone, set out from St Andrews for a As they passed through Strathkinwalk in the country.

On

the afternoon of Friday

ness, they stopped for refreshment at a small inn.

After

a time they seemed to have grown reckless, and to have and in rapid succession they set in for serious drinking
;

ordered tumbler after tumbler of whisky toddy ; and when the landlord, becoming alarmed, refused to supply them
left and went to another public-house, When they where they had several glasses of brandy. started to go home, they were both unsteady, especially Some of the villagers saw them staggering Johnstone. down the street, and overheard Harker abusing his comNext morning, Johnstone was panion for being drunk. found lying dead by the roadside near Denbrae, between Strathkinness and St Andrews and when Harker, who had arrived at his lodgings late on the previous night, was asked what had become of his companion, he grew confused, and could only say that he could not get him to come along, and had been obliged to leave him. On Monday, the Senatus Academicus summoned Harker before them, and, after due deliberation, passed upon him the extreme sentence of expul-

with any more, they

;

This is a severe punishment, blighting as it does his sion. whole future career but a still more terrible punishment must be the reflection, that he took a poor unsophisticated youth into a public-house, deliberately set to work to make him tipsy, and then in the end left him to perish by the
:

wayside."

As
of
life

Blair read this passage, he

fell

back again
the delight
that the

into the

Slough of Despond, and

all

vanished once more.

He knew

siren,

whom

he now loathed and had hoped to

142

THE QUEER FOLK OF
of,

FIFE.

get rid
cling to

would
;

fall

back upon him and again

him

and, just as he had foreboded, in
hateful scrawl,

a few days

came the well-known
say,

appealing in a vulgar manner to his affections.

What, she went on to

had come over him

?

Had he

fallen

in love with
little

some milkmaid and
She had been
;

forgotten his

poor

Gracie.

breaking her heart, waiting for a letter from him

and

all

the

neighbours had been noticing that

she had fallen away from her clothes.
that a dreadful

Was
got

not

scrape

Harker had
at
it,

into?

She was

not

surprised

knowing what a

bad character he was.
obliged to be
civil to

Though she had been

him, she had always hated

him.

of his attentions

Thank goodness she would now get rid With a whole lot of kisses,
!

and waiting

for a

letter

from him, she was his

own

Grace.
this,

After reading

he gnashed his teeth with
letter

vexation and disgust, tore the

to

pieces,

and threw
it
;

it

in

the

fire.

He

did

not answer

and he vowed that from that time he would
contempt she deserved.

treat her with the silent

At

the end of another year, Blair was licensed

to preach,

and became what

is

called a probationer.

He had

looked forward to

this as the great

epoch

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
of his
life,

143

the turning-point of his career,

when

he was to become the accredited legate of heaven,
to bear the

message of salvation to

his perishing

fellow

-

creatures.

Could anyone have a nobler

work?

But, unfortunately, this sacred office

was

hampered by
felt
first

preliminary

conditions
humiliating.

which he

to
to

be

exceedingly
;

He had
get a uncertain

get a church

and

in

order to

church, he

had

to

please

that

very

thing called the popular taste.

In this perplex-

ing task, the great stores of learning which he

had been piling up
little

for so

many
sat

years gave him

or

no

assistance.
his

He

down doggedly
after

and

constructed

sermon
method.
it

the

most

approved
reiteration

conventional

By
and

persistent
for

he committed
fluttering

to

memory, word

word.

With

heart

trembling

knees he went up to the pulpit on Sunday and

began to give
cess,

it

off.

During

this

unwinding pro;

he did not see the congregation before him

but he was looking at the image of his manuscript

and
line

his mind's

eye was running over line after
after

and page

page.

It

was a

recitation

exercise,

and not a

living speech

coming warm
the while,

from the heart of the speaker and going direct
to the heart of the hearers.

And

all

144

THE QUEER FOLK OF
feel

FIFE.
his

he did not

that he

was pleading with

fellow-creatures to accept the
felt

Word

of God.

He
effec-

that

he was really begging them to notice

how

ably he was treating the subject,

how
fact,

tively

he was delivering
creature he was.
theological

it,

and what a promising
was, in

young
of

He

a sort
his

itinerant

hawker,

hawking

spiritual

wares from town to town.
as time

And
were
ship.

went

on, he found himself beaten

in the bid for
far

popularity by fellow-students

who

inferior to

him

in

ability

and scholarlife

Sim,
a

who

could

not for the

of him

construe

Latin

sentence,

and

Macfarlane
to

Macdonald, who was
single idea in his

never

known

have a

head on any subject whatever,

found no

difficulty in tickling the ear of the

many-

headed

beast,

and became ordained ministers while
soon became evident that Malcolm
his time,

he continued to wander about, an uncalled probationer.
Blair, the
It

most distinguished student of
"

was

in

danger of becoming
this

a stickit minister."

But

universe

is

constructed on the grand

principle
inflicts

of

compensation.

Providence
supplying a

seldom
soothing

a

wound without
That want of

plaster.

success,

which lands us

in

poverty and hardship, scares

away our

false

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
friends.

145

Miss Grace Bourhill thought herself too
be a
stickit

good

to

minister's wife

;

and while

Blair's fate

hung

in the balance,

ceased altogether
at

to correspond with
infinite
relief,

him

;

and

length, to

his

he heard that she was married to
her own, a

a cousin

of

prosperous
at
last
! !

brewer

in

St

Andrews.
in

Freedom

and

brought
gloried

about

an unexpected way
in his

He now

exceedingly

failure

as a preacher.

What
had

was the want of manse and stipend compared
with
the

escape from

that

incubus which
!

pressed the very spirit out of him

The world

now
go

lay bright before

him, and he was free to

his

own way by

himself.

As

the church did

not want him, he would adopt some other calling

and he was actually preparing himself
take either literary or scholastic work,
received

to under-

when he

an invitation to engage

in

one of the

most striking enterprises of the day.

Those that knew
such wonders

Fife

more than
of

fifty

years

ago must remember Miss Singleton, who worked
in

the

way
and
;

evangelising

the
to

mining village of Coaltown.
that

She belonged
combative
class

strongly-marked

of

female social reformers

and certainly she was
class.

one of

the best

specimens of the

She

146

THE QUEER FOLK OF
not, like

FIFE,

was

some of her

sisterhood, conceited,

arrogant, and masculine.

Though she was
was
in

strong-

minded, she was also strong-hearted.
bold and aggressive,
it

If she

was

urging the claims

of the oppressed, and not in exhibiting her
cleverness.

own
she

Her plan

for

raising

the

sunken

masses was direct and

drastic.
all

"Get

rid,"

said to the missionary, " of

that priestly parade

and formality which have concealed so long the
true
living

face

of religion.

Return to Christ's
is

sublimely simple plan, which

founded on the

two everlasting

facts of the

Fatherhood of God
Imitate

and the Brotherhood of man.
far

Him

as

as the circumstances of the time

will allow.

Go down among
man-millinery,

the lapsed

masses, not

with
of

patronising
soup, but

airs,

and

doles
in

blankets

and

with wisdom

your

head and

real love in

your heart.

Live amongst

them, become one of themselves, and help them
in their difficulties

and sorrows."

Such was the
had carried

method which Miss Singleton
out
;

herself

and the

results

were said to be marvellous.

This was the lady
Blair.

who now wrote

to

Malcolm

"She had listened to

his preaching," she

said,

"and had heard of him from some other
and she thought that he might be able

friends,

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
to assist her in her labours.

147

She could not give
reward in
favourably
call

him very much
the

in

the

form of money, but he
his

might be able to find some of

work

itself.

Should

he he

think

of this

proposal,

would

kindly

upon

her?"
After considering this matter long and carefully, Blair

came
he

to the conclusion that

he could

not

do better than wait upon Miss Singleton.

And when

had

once seen

her and talked
offer.

with her, he could not refuse her
Singleton's whole personality
revelation to him.

Miss

was

like a pleasing

Instead of the bold-featured,

masculine-looking
see,

woman
gentle

that

he expected to
beautiful

he

beheld
secret
tact

a

and

young
in

lady,

the

of

whose

power

lay

her

feminine

and

sympathy.

And when
of

he

saw her
seemed
spirit

moving about among the poor, she
to

him

the

very embodiment

the
sick-

of Christianity.
or

Wherever there was
was
her

ness

sorrow

—that
in

chosen

abode.

There was comfort

the sound of her voice

there was healing in her very touch.

Her

smile

was the highest reward, and her look of painful
disapproval was
the heaviest

punishment.
felt

In

her presence the coarsest miner

ashamed of

148

THE QUEER FOLK OF
conduct,

FIFE.
to

his

and

silently

vowed

give

up

swearing and drinking.

Like the
Singleton's

rest of those

who came under Miss
soon

influence,

Blair

caught

her

enthusiasm.
into the

He
of

threw himself heart and soul
visiting

work of evangelising Coaltown,
the

the

houses
in

poor

miners,

talking
to

with
their

them

a

brotherly

way,

listening

troubles

and ailments, and helping them

to help

themselves.
filled

There were many experiences which

his senses with disgust,
soul.

and even sickened
surhis

his

very

But

there

were also many
for
all

prising
pain.

results

which amply atoned

What

sight could be

more pleasing than

to see a ragged

and red-faced drunkard gradually

being transformed into a well-clad and intelligent

man
for a

;

and what sound could be more

delightful

than to hear the thanks of a wife and children

husband and father reclaimed, and a home
circumstance was a

made happy ?
But the most
change
in

gratifying

his

own

nature,

which

may seem
This
the
"

almost miraculous, but which has happened to
others,

and which can

easily be explained.

new

evangelising

work

actually

remedied
;

defects

of

his

theological

training

and

the

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
Back

149

Raw"

of

Coaltown became a school of

eloquence, and did for

him what the University
to do.

and Divinity Hall had been unable
intimate

The
fuller

knowledge which he there acquired of
nature
;

human
his

filled

his
fuller

heart

with

a
let

sympathy

and

this

sympathy

loose

power of utterance.

Out of the abundance

of his heart his
to

mouth spoke.
his
its

He was
his

so eager

supply comfort and

guidance that he

gave

no thought to

language, and

language
preparing

came
his

readily of

own

accord.

In

Sunday

discourses, there

was no longer any

need of slavishly writing them down and committing every word.
All

he had to do was to

think out the subject, to arrange the details, and
to trust to the inspiration of the

moment

for the

language.

The consequence
fame

was, that he

drew

large audiences, that his

as a preacher soon
least

spread abroad, and that,

when he
call

expected
dis-

such a thing, he received a

from a large

senting congregation in the town of Easterton.

Though
his

this

call

gratified

him exceedingly
it

for

several reasons,

and
a

chiefly because

vindicated

character as

preacher,

and took him out
ministers,
it.

of the

black

list

of

stickit

yet

he

hesitated before he accepted

He

found him-

150

THE QUEER FOLK OF FIFE.
bound
and
to

self

Coaltown
life
itself.
it

by a

feeling
its

almost
dismal-

stronger than
ness

In spite of

poverty,

had

become

to

him an

enchanted ground.

There was a presence which
;

brightened the landscape

there

was a voice which
;

diffused a holy calm through the air

and

this

presence and this voice belonged to Miss Singleton.

She was the daybreak
with light and melody

that

had arisen upon
filled

his

night of despondency, and had
;

the world

and

to

part

from her

was

to

go back into darkness again.
his

And when
he found he was.

he spoke about
that she

dilemma

to herself,

was
in

just as

much

affected as

With

tears

her eyes, she confessed that she

would miss him very much.
However, just when he was on the point of
asking

why

they

should

part,

and

why

they

should not continue to work together as husband

and

wife, she rallied

both herself and him to a
call,

sense of duty.

This

she said, had brought

a great opportunity of applying the system to
the degraded classes of a large town, which might

never occur again.
it

It

was an epoch

in his life

might be an epoch

in the history of Christianity.
all

He

must, therefore, throw

other considerations
at
least,

aside,

and accept

it.

Meanwhile

they

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
must deny themselves
denial
all

151

other pleasures.
their
spiritual
life.

SelfIt

was necessary

to

was the manna which kept them
wilderness of a world.

alive

in

this

Malcolm
native than

Blair, accordingly,

had no other
;

alter-

to accept the call

and

at the

end

of a few weeks had to tear himself

away from
it

Coaltown.
great one,

His only consolation (and
filling his soul

was a

with the highest hopes)

was that Miss Singleton had shown that she was
most tenderly attached to him.

The 27th of
tion

April was set apart for his ordinain the dissenting

by the Presbytery
It

church
to

of Easterton.

was a day that was doomed

be memorable to him for ever.

At

the beginning

of the ceremony he was in a melancholy mood.

He

had been overworking himself, had fainted
felt

more than once, and

weak and nervous.
in

As

he sat under the pulpit, looking out upon the

crowded pews, he saw nothing
his

the faces of
;

new congregation save staring curiosity and away to the right was a dark countenance full of
settled hate.

He knew who

it

was.

It

was the
fellow-

Rev.

Ewan Murdoch, who had been

his

student at St Andrews, and had been
"

known

as

Dark Murdoch," and who had been one of the

152

THE QUEER FOLK OF
candidates
for

FIFE.
pulpit

unsuccessful

the

of

the

present congregation.
" If
I

have

a

mortal enemy," said the
sits,

new

minister to himself, "there he

one of those

wretched beings who look upon the success of a
fellow-creature as an unpardonable injury."

Towards the conclusion of the
ever,

service,

how-

Malcolm passed

into a better
text,

mood.

The

preacher's

sermon on the

"Fellow-workers

with God," spoke words of encouragement that

went to

his

heart.
"

The

first

line

of the conlight

cluding psalm was,
rise,"

Unto the upright
it

doth

and no sooner was

read than an outburst

of sunshine flooded the building.

Then, when

the congregation in a long line passed before him
to give

him the
in

right

hand of

fellowship, there

was warmth

every smile and in every grip.

And amongst
face

them, what should he see but the
Singleton
!

of Miss

He was

so

delighted

that he

compared her

to an angel bringing with

her the atmosphere of heaven.

"Miss Smeaton and
morning.

I,"

said

she,

"came
to

this

We

must make some
drop

calls in the

town,

and then we

shall

in at the

manse

have

a cup of tea and a long chat."

He

left

the church

full

of hope and happiness.

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
As he walked up
the

153

High

Street,

it

was with

a springy step, so that the gossips standing on
the stairheads remarked what a pleasant-looking,
active

man he

was.
at

And when

he entered the

manse garden

Highfield, he thought that he
place. The commanding an extensive

had never seen a more charming
house stood on a
site

view of the Firth of Forth, with the castle and
spires of

Edinburgh

distinct against the horizon

;

and the garden

in front,
trees,

with

its

green gooseberry

bushes and apple
south.

sloped towards the sunny
the

There, too, in

doorway of
in

his

new
to

abode, stood his mother,

now

widow's weeds,
furniture
u

who had brought make a home for
lines

herself

and her

him.

Truly he thought,
in pleasant places."

the

had

fallen to

him

And
confi-

after a comfortable lunch, they

had a long

dential talk, in which he told about Miss Singleton's

intended

visit,

and gave a glowing account of Miss

Singleton herself, and hinted that he intended to

ask her to be his wife.
"

Then, oh

!

happiness," he said,
!

" for

us three
a blessed

to live in this paradise together

What
will

helper she will be in

my

work, and what a kind

housekeeper and guardian you

make

!

It is

a prospect almost too good for this world."

154

THE QUEER FOLK OF
still

FIFE.

They were
in to

talking

when

the servant

came

say that two ladies were in the drawing-

room
"

wishing

to

see

the
joy.

minister.

Malcolm

started up, radiant with

Bring them
will see

in here,"

he

cried.

"

Now, mother,
I

you

my

dearest friend, and,

hope,

my

future wife."

But, horror of horrors

!

who

should be announced

and ushered

in

but Mrs and Miss Bourhill, the

mother and daughter who had been such familiar
figures
terrible
in

his

nightmare of the

significance of this
it

As the reappearance dawned
past.

upon him,
and he
fell

seemed
in

to strike

him

to the heart,

back

a swoon.
consciousness, he

When
four
silent

he

recovered

found

himself propped

up

in

an easy

chair,

and saw

women

standing round him in a state of

excitement.

Miss

Singleton,
at

pale
;

and

pensive,

was gazing

intently

him
and

the two

Bourhills were staring at Miss Singleton with an

expression of indignant surprise
full

;

his mother,

of

keenest

anxiety,

divided

her

attention

between him and the

others.

Miss Singleton broke the silence by saying
" I

must

go.

We

strangers had better leave the
his mother."

invalid to quiet

and the care of

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
"

155

Thank

you,

my

dear lady," said his mother,

" for

that sensible remark."

"But," said Miss Bourhill, "that remark does
not apply to me, his betrothed."
"

Nor

to me,"

added Mrs

Bourhill, " his mother-

in-law to be."
"

Dear me,"

said

Mrs

Blair to Miss Bourhill,

"

you are married, you know.
"

We

saw

it

in the

papers."

A

mistake," replied Miss Bourhill, " a cousin

of the same name, not me."
"
fell

But,"

pleaded Mrs

Blair,

"

the

engagement

to the ground.

The correspondence stopped
Miss Bourhill quietly.

years ago."
"

Malcolm's
last."

fault," replied

"I wrote

"A

promise," added

Mrs

Bourhill,

"can't be
parties.

broken but by the consent of both
bargain's a bargain."

A
in

These
the

replies, curt

and remorseless, sounded and closed

young

minister's ears like his death-knell,
in his

and

he lay back

chair

his eyes in

mute agony.
But Malcolm was too brave
Blair,

enfeebled

though he was,
In a few

to

be crushed at once.
regained
its

days his mind had

strength,

and

156

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.
in

was calmly looking the

difficulty

the

face.

He

had, he saw, just two alternatives.

One was

to hold himself

bound by

his

blindfold engage-

ment, to marry Miss Bourhill, and so to blight
his

whole future career

:

the other was to break

his

promise and bravely take the consequences
suit,

a law
affairs,

a public exposure of

all

his private

the

payment of heavy damages, and the

resignation of the position to which he had just

been appointed.

The

latter

course was the one
take.

which

he

was

inclined

to

But

before

definitely deciding,

he wrote to Miss Singleton

stating his resolution,
it.

and giving
between

his reasons for

The

engagement

him
in

and

Miss
of

Bourhill, he

argued, was

made

a

moment

excitement, and
thoughtless.
for

when they were both young and
affection they

Any

might have had

each other was a mere fancy, and very soon

vanished.

By

a tacit agreement

they ceased to

write to each other, and for years there had been

no correspondence between them.
the solemn

To go

through

and binding

rite

of marriage under

these circumstances would be to lay the crime of

perjury upon their souls.
to

This argument seemed

Malcolm

to be so unanswerable, that he felt

sure of the approval of Miss Singleton.

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
Great,
therefore,

157

was

his

surprise

when

he

received

a letter from her expressing her deep

regret that she could not approve of his resolution.

The exchange of the heart's affection, she said, between a man and a woman was a serious and
solemn engagement.
life

It

was often a matter of

and death.

Not only the happiness of the
It

individuals themselves, but the welfare of society

might depend upon
as the marriage
tion,

it.

was

really as binding

vow

itself.

No

cooling of affec-

no

temporary estrangement, nothing
be a reason for setting
it

but

infidelity could

aside.

And

as for his future happiness, he should

not

despair.

By

the use of

tender and

assiduous

sympathy he had succeeded
affection in

in rekindling healthy

many

a degraded soul.

Why

should

the influence which had been so effectual in the

slums of Coaltown

fail

at his

own
right,

fireside.

Let

him keep

his

promise like an honourable

man and
trust in

a Christian.

Let him do the

and

God
felt

for the result.

When Malcolm
Had anyone
his
else

Blair

was reading

this letter,

he

like a criminal

receiving

sentence of death.
this

than Miss Singleton offered
it.

opinion, he would have spurned

But she was
belief,

guardian angel, one who, in his

had

158

THE QUEER FOLK OF
err.

FIFE.
Besides,
if

never erred, and could never

he

did what she considered a dishonourable action,

he would
the world

forfeit

her approval

;

and that was
felt

all

to

him.

He
it.

therefore

himself

bound
to take

to

follow her advice, although he broke

his heart in

doing

He

even forced himself
future,

up her sanguine view of the

and

hoped that by kind and sympathetic treatment,
he would succeed
in

making Grace
elapsed

Bourhill into

a useful minister's wife.

Four
years.
fast.

years

have

— four
his

momentous

Mr and Mrs Blair are seated at breakHe is wan and wasted, and stoops over
weak
and
tea

his

cup and plate as he drinks

and

eats his thin toast.

She

is

stout, red,

restlessis

eyed.
to the

A

pervading

air

of discomfort

given

room by the

dirty discoloured tablecloth,

the disarranged furniture, and the careless diess

of the two occupants.

The

following

is

the con-

versation which passes between them.
"

There

!

"

says she, tossing to her husband a

letter

which she has just opened and

glanced

over, "there's Goodsir's, the grocer's account."
"

Good heavens
Don't swear."

!

" replied he,

staring at

it

and

turning pale.
"

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
and of
really
that, thirty

159

"Sixty-four pounds seventeen and eightpence

pounds odd

for

wine

!

We

must

do with

less wine."
I

"You
most of

say we, meaning that
it.

have consumed

You grudge me
have
I

the glass of port

which the doctor ordered."
"

My
You

dear

!

not often

pressed you to

take it?"
"

forget the wine

you give away

to your

paupers."
" I

can't

see

my

poor

sick

fellow- creatures

perishing without
that
"
I

sharing with

them

the

best

have."
bottles

You smuggled two
Yes, and
if
I

away

last night in

your greatcoat pocket."
"

can save poor widow

Slight
to

to
his

her

young

family,

and

Robbie
reward

Stark
will

distracted

parents,

my

be

great."

"You
them
us
;

forget,

too,

the bottles which you sent
is

to your mother.
all.
I

She

the greatest pauper of

She wanted
kind,

to live here to sorn

upon

but

soon sent her to the right about."
is
it

"

My
You

dear,

is

it

Christian-like to use

such language ?
"

never send any to

my

mother."

160

THE QUEER FOLK OF FIFE.
is

"Your mother
" If I

strong.
I

Besides,

you forget
being

the yearly allowance that

pay

to her."
it

do forget
to me.

it, it's

not for want of
don't

cast

up

Why
could

you ask

for a rise

of stipend?"

"My

dear,

I

not,

through sheer shame,

do such a

thing.

My

poor people are severely

taxed already to make up

my
a

salary.

There's
six

Sandy

Slack, with ten shillings a

week and

children,

giving

one

shilling

month toward

my

maintenance.

to look the

Upon my poor man in the
you
look

word, I'm ashamed
face."

"Why
situation
"
?

don't

out

for

a

better

No, no, no

!

I

could

not

go about

like

a

hireling,
I

offering
forfeit

myself to the highest

bidder.

would

my own

self-respect

as well

as

the respect of every one in
"

my

congregation."

Much

respect they have for

you when they

insult
"

your wife as they do."
insult."

No, no, not

"You
tears)

know they do. when I came here
I

I'm
I

sure

{shedding

tried to

do

my

duty

as

a minister's wife.

went

among

the poor

and gave them the benefit of

my

advice.

And

what

was

my

reward?

That

man,

Kinnell,

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
because
children
I

161

found

fault

with him for giving his
turned

tea

instead
I

of porridge,

me

to

the

door,

and

became the laughing-stock of
you away.

the whole congregation."
"

Unfortunately, your zeal

carried

In

dealing with
to
their

these

people

we must come
from

down
"

level,

and

look at things

their point of view."

Come down

to their level, indeed
so.
!

!

I

should

be sorry to do

your congregation
not

And You

then the big folk of
can't

say that

I

did
I

come down

to their level.

And what
her
friends,

did

bring upon
at

myself?
I

One day
heard
call

at afternoon

tea

Lady

Brockie's,

Mrs
I

Soutar and Mrs Stables,
followed
suit.

her Sarah, and

You

should have seen her
;

face.

She was never the same afterwards
she never invites

and now
I'm not

me

along with you.
friends."

good enough
"

for

your grand

My

dear,

be like
mission

we all receive slights. You should those who have given themselves up to work. They look upon such slights as

part of the cross they have to bear."
" I

know what you mean.

You were

about to

say

I

should be like your precious Miss Singleton.
are constantly casting her up."

You

1

62
" "

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.

My

dear

!

I

never mentioned her name."
it

That makes you

all

the

more

suspicious.

You
it.

are constantly thinking of her.
I

Don't deny

tell

I

know

it

;

and

I

know your ongoings
told

with her at Coaltown.

Mr Murdoch
the

me.

And

I

know

that on the

day of your ordination

you were waiting

for her, in
I
!

manse
in,

here, to

propose to her, when
spoil

dropped
ha
!

in

time to
I

the sport.

Ha

you wonder how
let

found that out.
of the bag.

Your mother

the cat out

And you

got a letter from her this
If there's

morning.

I

detected the handwriting.

nothing wrong,
"
it
I

why do you
it.

hide it?"
just going to
it."

did not hide

I

was

show

to you.
"

There

it

is.

Read

What ? coming
;

here to-day at eleven {starting

to

her feet)

she sha'n't
I'll

come
the

here.

Not so long
not to
let

as

I'm
in."
I

here.

tell

servant

her
"

will certainly
I'll

countermand that

order."
it

"Then
"

go to the door myself and slam

in her face."

And

I

will

certainly take

means

to prevent

you.

Listen to me.

I'm speaking quite calmly.
told

That venomous

man, Murdoch, who

you

about the ongoings of Miss Singleton and myself,

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
is

163
in

a slanderer.

Our whole

souls

were

our

mission work.
us was about
to
it,

Every word exchanged between
and might have been published

the

world.

She

comes

here

to-day

as

a
I
I

servant of God, interested in God's work, and

would
allowed
let

be

a

heartless,

graceless

coward
face.

if

my
be

door to be shut in her
understood.

Now
under-

that

Let

that

be

stood."

Mr

Blair

sits

waiting for a reply.

His

wife,
sits

however, preserves an unusual silence, and
staring into vacancy with a fixed look.

He

does

not like

this, as it is

so

uncommon
But

with her, and
to his infinite

he anticipates a stormy scene.
surprise,

when

the door bell sounds, she does not
is

get up

;

and when Miss Singleton
and shakes hands with

ushered

in,

she

rises

her,

and goes

out of the room saying that she will bring her
a cup of tea.

And

then comes a scene which

can never cease to haunt his

memory

!

He

feels

himself to be in a sort of trance, seeing horrible

deeds swiftly done before him, desiring to prevent
them, but utterly unable to do
visitor
so.

He and

his

have scarcely exchanged the usual inquiries

regarding health, before he sees his wife enter
with a cup.

He

sees her give

it

to Miss Singleton

164

THE QUEER FOLK OF
it

FIFE.
with a smile
it,"

he sees Miss Singleton receive

before he can cry out to her, "Don't drink

he sees her take several sips

;

he sees her

fall

back

lifeless

;

he sees his wife throw her arms

into the air with a

demoniac gesture of delight

and he sees and hears no more.

When
of the
Sir

he comes to his senses, he
presence
of
several

is

conscious
hears

people, and

Benjamin Brockie's
full

voice, very

much broken

down and

of tears.

This hard, unsympathetic

man, generally so replete with narrow opinions,

and so stubborn

in

maintaining them,

is,

by some
rock

strong influence, quite softened.

The

flinty

has been touched as

if

by the prophet's

rod,

and

the pure waters of Christian charity flow forth.
"

This excellent woman," he
a martyr.

is

saying,
'of

"

has

died

She had heard
life,

Mr

Blair's

unhappy married
to try to see

and she came over expressly
right.

and put things

She

called

upon me

how
we

the land lay, and she thought that
in

we

had been lacking
All that
is

sympathy towards Mrs

Blair.

want, she said, to regenerate mankind

enough of sympathy.
enough measure,
the

Sympathy

is

the great

sanitary agent in the moral world.
large
it

If applied in

will neutralise

every

evil,

and sweeten

social

atmosphere.

She had

THE ONE FATAL MISTAKE.
great hopes that she would
I

165

make

all

right

;

and

believe that she

would have succeeded had she

not been so suddenly cut off by the unfortunate

woman whom know how it
defective

she was trying to save.
was, but her

I

don't

to be a mirror in which other people

they were.

own example seemed saw how For my own part, I felt
I

to-day, after seeing her, that

and

my
;

family,

and the
in

rest of the congregation,

had been remiss
Blair

our duty towards

Mr and Mrs

and

I

hurried over to lose no time in atoning for
mistake."

my

The
the

sight of the best

and purest being

whom

he had ever known, murdered before his eyes by

woman who

bore his name, was never to be
Blair.
It

forgotten

by Malcolm
away.

haunted his soul
rest,

like a spectre,

would give him no
For

and wasted
lay

his

strength

many weeks he
life

prostrate, hovering

between

and death

;

and

during his hours of delirium, when his judgment

no longer kept the door of wandered forth
and
at will,

his heart, his feelings

and those waiting

at his
his

bedside heard him express repugnance
wife,
call

for

in

agonising tones for a glimpse

of Julia Singleton's face.

He

recovered enough

of strength to be able to rise from his bed, but

166
it

THE QUEER FOLK OF
was only to

FIFE.

find himself alone

and
in

helpless.

His wife was a hopeless

lunatic

a

private

asylum

;

his

aged mother, crushed by the mis-

fortunes of her dear son,

was dead

;

and he

felt

himself called upon to resign his pleasant manse,

and
in

to retire to the solitary lodging at Sandyriggs
I

which

knew
he

him.
that his Divine Master

At
for

first,

felt

had no

more work
him was

for him,

and that

all

that remained

to lie

down and

die.

But by and by

Milton's noble lines occurred to
"

him

Who

best
:

Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best His state thousands at His bidding speed, Is kingly And post o'er land and ocean without rest
:

They

also serve

who

only stand and wait."
till

And
remover

thus he waited patiently of
all

Death, the
all

burdens and the solver of
to his release.

difficulties,

came

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST

FIELD.
by a

A
of

LARGE
all

field
;

of ripe wheat surrounded

fringe of trees

a long line of sun-brown reapers,

ages and of both sexes, stretching across
field,

the whole breadth of the
their

and bending to

work

;

the golden shocks falling before the
;

gleaming
haze.
It is

sickles

and over

all

a

warm autumnal

a great occasion, a sort of annual festival

to

which people have flocked from every quarter
country.

of the

There are solid-looking

High-

landers in garments rough-spun, and smelling of

peat reek

;

canny Aberdonians asking
;

" far

is't

and

" far

was't "

Edinburgh wives, with tongues
" clip

so slick and sharp that (to use a vulgar phrase)

they could almost

a clout

"

;

well-favoured

matrons and maidens from the cottages
about
(as
;

round

and chubby boys and
call
it)

they

who glean, or "gather" among the stooks,
girls

making up

their gatherings into " singles."

Even

1

68

THE QUEER FOLK OF
is

FIFE.
his elder
sister,

the infant

there, attended his heels

by

and kicking
sheaves.

as he lies

on a couch of

There

is a feeling of hilarity in the air.

The thought
dinner, the

of the higher wages they are earning,

the prospect of scones
sight

and

ale

for

lunch

and

of the abundant harvest they

are reaping, the scent of the aromatic herbs they
are treading upon, and the glorious weather,
all

combine

to

gladden their hearts and

let

loose

their tongues.
sing.
spirits

They

talk,

they laugh, and they

And

sometimes, in the superfluity of their
to

and strength, they take
is

what

is

called

"kemping," that
or division
others.

to say, each rig or
tries

company
the

of shearers

to
is

get a

before

In

other words, there

competition

as

to

which
!

band

will

do

the

most

work.

Strange
this?

will

workers of the present day believe

High above
of

all

the clamour

is

heard the voice
virago,

Peg Jackson, a broad-beamed, brawny
is

who

known by the expressive name of "The Bummer." She is one of that class who bring
and a bold and brazen countenance.
is

themselves into notice by virtue of a loud and
glib tongue,

In

her remarks she
satire

no respecter of persons.
all

Her

glances at

sorts

of game, from

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.
Dave, the herd boy, up to

169

Mr

Stocks, the master.
;

Many
like

of her phrases also are very graphic
are

and,

burrs,

prickly

and apt to
they are
in
cast.

stick to the

persons against
elected oracle
local
is

whom

This

self-

engaged

disposing of some
for her

scandal that has been brought up

judgment, when she catches sight of the farmer,
along with a gentleman and several
ing the
field.

ladies, enter-

"Oh," exclaims

Peg,

"there's

Stocks himsel
;

comin' to keep us at
brocht
jist

oor wark

and
glower

he
at

has
us,

some
if

friens

wi'

him

to

as

we were wild
bonnie
sicht

beasts in a show.
we'll

My
and

certie!

a

mak,

raxin'

sweatin' like pownies in a mill."

"But wha's thae
a
girl

wi'

him," asked Kate Corby,

from the Nethergate at Sandyriggs, who,
few days' acquaintance, had become Peg's

after a

admirer and toady.
"Tuts,
lassie,

whaur hae ye been
that,"

cleckit that

ye dinna ken
in

replied Peg.

"That thing

a white frock, and wi' a face
cheese,
is

made
Miss

o'

skim-

milk

Stocks's
ca'

sister,

Tammy
to
a'

(Thomasina

they

her
that
o'

when they want
lanky shaver,
for

speak proper).

And

the warld like a pair

tangs oot for a daunder,

M

170
is

THE QUEER FOLK OF
o'

FIFE.

her sweetheart, young Tosh
little

Lammert's

Mill.
is

That

black-e'ed

cratur in

a red jacket

Miss Winnie Laverock, a veesitor from East the
Coast.

She's

as

bonnie and lively as a robin,
they say, to

and

is

briskin' up,
she'll

Mr

Stocks.

But,

my
like

word,

no nab him withoot a

warstle.

Dae ye

see that

cummer

in black, for a' the sair

warld
That's

a howdie craw wi' a

gaby?

Magdalen Jaap, the

maister's

cousin,

but awfu'

anxious to be the maister's wife."

Miss Winnie Laverock, whose appearance and
character

have

thus

been touched

off

by the

irrepressible Peg,

was the daughter of the minister
father

of Pitlochie.

Her
was

was a man of great

accomplishments and strong character.

Winnie
it

was
his

all

that

left

of his family

;

and

was

ambition to teach her everything he knew.

And most amply was
She had a merry

he repaid

for

his trouble.

heart,

and a keen and active
;

mind took an
;

interest in everything

and mastered
true,

every subject.

Ill-natured people,

it is

some-

times said that "if she was quick to learn, she

was

also quick to

show

off."

But, as her father

remarked,
herself?

why

should her intelligence be kept to

If she

was

witty,

how

could
real

she help

expressing her wit?

She was a

gem, and

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.
it

171

was

her

nature to

sparkle
If

even

amid
a

the
of

dullest
light

surroundings.

there

was

ray

to

be

got under the whole
it

horizon, she

was sure

to catch

and

reflect

it.

As they
in

entered the harvest

field,

Winnie was
delightful

high

spirits

and

full

talk.

"

How
!

this is," she said.

"What

a glow from the hawI

thorn hedges and from the ripe grain
feel

actually

myself getting warmer and

brighter

every

minute."

"Not
"

brighter,"

said

Mr
!

Stocks, "that would

not be possible."

No

irony,

Mr

Stocks

"

she replied.

"

But here

comes
of the

Collie to
field."

welcome us and do the honours

" Collie,"

said

personage here.

Mr He

Stocks,

" is

an

important
is

fancies that he

superin-

tending the shearers."

"Superintending the universe,
replied

I

should

say,"

Miss Laverock, "judging from the way
Controlling the laws
gravity
itself.

he looks above and around.
of gravity
!

In

fact,

he

is

But,

Mr Tosh

!

why

does he put out his tongue, as
?

he stands staring at you

"Bad manners,

I

suppose," said

Mr

Tosh.

"No," replied Miss Laverock, "he takes you

172 for

THE QUEER FOLK OF
the

FIFE.
to

family

doctor,

and wants you
" I

pre-

scribe."
"

Then," said

Mr

Tosh,

shall

prescribe

a

little

more

bark."
said

"Oh, Mr Tosh!"
what a
delightful

Miss Laverock.
is
S

"But

scene this
their

The

sight of

the shearers with

bright

faces

and strong

arms, the clatter of their sickles, and the rustle of the falling corn, have a strange effect upon

me.
is

I

feel

inclined to share their work.

Such

the influence of good example."
" It's like

the measles, infectious," said
the

Mr

Stocks.

"Or
But
all
I

like

moral

leaven,"

replied

Miss
lump.
before

Laverock,

"which
really

leaveneth

the

whole
idle

am

ashamed

to stand

these industrious people.
us.

They must have

a

low opinion of
that
stout

Look
in

at the

glances which
is

woman
us
!

the striped shortgown
pities

casting at

She evidently
idler,

me

as

a

poor feckless

and thanks Providence that

she has got a pair of strong arms and plenty
of honest work to do."

"That's Peg Jackson," said

Mr

Stocks,

"the

randy of the parish
is

;

and

I

don't think that she

much

given to thank Providence for anything."
I

"Oh," said Miss Laverock, "I don't know.

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.
muscular

173

should say that she belongs to the sect of the
Christians.

And

she

really

looks

a

good
"

all

round woman."

She goes by the nickname of The Bummer,"

explained

Mr
;

Stocks.

"That
Laverock

means
"

the

Queen

Bee,"

said

Miss

and

a

very appropriate name, for

she has got a fine
her.

swarm of busy bees around

But look
!

at that big black
illustration

man

in tattered

attire

What an

of

Shakespeare's

phrase, 'looped and windowed raggedness.'"
"

Yes," remarked

Mr Mr

Stocks.

" In

one way at

least

he attends to ventilation."
Tosh, "what a villainous

"But," exclaimed
look he has
all
!

That means murder, robbery, and
Miss Laverock.

the other seven deadly sins."
at
all,"

"Not
black

said

"These
handed

beetle
to

brows

were
his

very

likely

down

him from
full

grandmother, along with

a stocking

of her savings.
;

The

stocking he

has squandered
beetle brows."
"

but he couldn't get rid of the

Yes," remarked
if

the stocking,

Mr Tosh, " he has squandered we may judge from the bare toes
the ventilating
holes
in

peeping out from
shoes."

his

174

THE QUEER FOLK OF
little

FIFE.

"That
" is his

man

beside him," said

Mr

Stocks,

inseparable companion, although he looks

a being of a different stamp.

He

has not been

used to this kind of labour.
refined,

His features are
delicate."

and

his

hands are white and

two.

"Oh!" said Mr Tosh, He reminds me
like
!

"he's the worst of the

of

a

portrait
rat-like

I

once

saw of Jack Sheppard
fingers

— keen,
to

eyes,
his

and
prey.

claws

itching

clutch

But, look

Laverock.

how he is darting glances at Miss By Jove, Miss Laverock, you have
!

made

a conquest

I

congratulate you."
reply.

But Miss Laverock did not

She was
sight of
in

dumb
life
;

with amazement and horror.

The

that face

had recalled a painful episode
the
coarse guise of a

her

and, under

reaper,

she had recognised one

who had
to

formerly been

very dear

to

her.
far,

After a few
tried

moments she
were gone.

recovered so
versation
;

and

resume the con-

but her

spirit

and

elasticity

All the
collapse.

members

of her party noticed the sudden

Mr Tosh

asked

if

she had been hurt
offered to

by the rude staring of that man, and
give the fellow a wigging

on the
the

spot.

And
too

Mr

Stocks,
for

remarking
her,

that

heat was
into
his,

much

drew

her

arm

and

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.
suggested
house. that

175

they

should

all

return

to

the

But there was one person who did not take
such a lenient view of the incident.

This was

Miss Jaap.

She had already expressed to her

chosen confidante, the tablemaid, her opinion of Miss Laverock.
" People," she

had

said, "

admire what they
is

call

her brightness. Well, forwardness
for cleverness.
I

often mistaken

might even use a stronger word
I

than forwardness.
old-fashioned

might

call

it

by the good

name
make

of impudence.

And

the

way
dis-

she ogles men, and jokes with them, and leads

them on
reputable.

to

idiots
it

of themselves
is."

it's

That's what

And

now, here was an incident which seemed

to justify all Miss Jaap's suspicions,

and to give
rival.

her an opportunity of supplanting her

Her

excitement was so great that she could scarcely

walk home quietly along with the others.

And

when she reached
"

the farm-house, she

rushed,

bursting with confidence, to the tablemaid.

Oh, Kirsten
in

!

"

she cried,

"

such a scandal to
!

happen
well cry,

any respectable community
is't ?'

Ye may

'What

Your

precious Miss Laverock

exchanging glances with a

common

shearer on the

176

THE QUEER FOLK OF
field,

FIFE.
pale.

harvest

and turning deadly
shearer
!

Yes

!

a

common

dirty

Some poor

unfortunate
!

wretch with

whom

she has had an intrigue

That

of a man.

woman would intrigue You must

with anything in the shape
help

me

to find out

more

about him.
I'll

He
;

is

the companion of Black Morgan.
I'll

expose her

and

see that your poor deluded

master's eyes are opened."

Talk about vivisection

!

There are human beings
some-

who
day

are vivisected

by

their fellow-creatures,

times consciously, sometimes unconsciously.
at dinner,

That

Miss Winnie Laverock was one of

these hapless victims.

The

operators were Miss
;

Thomasina Stocks and Mr Tosh
spectator of the operation.
First,

and Miss Jaap,

with her bold black eyes, was a keen and gratified

Miss Stocks insisted upon leading back
to

the conversation
field,

the

incident in the harvest

and again and again expressed her astonishat Winnie's
ill,

ment
it

sudden

faintness.

"What was
the heat, do

made you
?

I

wonder?

Was

it

you think

For,

you know, you were so well
before."
turn,
after

and bright a minute

Then Mr Tosh,
he
said,

in

his

headlong,

haphazard manner, took up the subject.

He

had,

been instituting inquiries about that

ruffian

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.
who The
was
insulted
fellow,
it

177
ill.

Miss Laverock and made her

seemed, called himself Riley, for

the nonce at

least.

Whether

it

was

his real

name

very

doubtful.

Blackguards

kept

several

names, just as decent folks kept several changes
of

garments, and as soon as one

became too
was
the

soiled,

they

put

on

another.

Riley

inseparable pal of Black

Morgan, who had the
"

words

"

burglar

"

and

"

garrotter
in

written on his
Devil's

countenance
handwriting.
lot
;

—yes,

written

the

own

Altogether, this

Riley was a bad

and those keen eyes and greedy hands must
line of thieves.

have been inherited from a long

He was some
What
if

desperate

criminal

in

disguise.

he should turn out to be Crouch, the
for

Glasgow murderer, that they were searching
everywhere ?

Under
sat

this

ruthless talk, poor Miss

Laverock
at

wincing

and

quivering

and

answering

random.
relief;

At

length her host interfered for her

and oh! how she thanked him inwardly

from the bottom of her heart.

Mr

Stocks was,

what
tian

I

may be

allowed to

call,

a natural Chris-

—one

who had an
for

instinctive

sympathy and
of his
fellow-

consideration
creatures.

the

sufferings

Without the

slightest fuss

he adroitly

178

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.
if

diverted the conversation,

by asking

they had

heard of the

last

escapade of Rory Brand, the
:

converted shoemaker
ludicrous
incident,

and then he told a most

—how

Rory had been
;

at July

Fair on an evangelising mission

how, when he

was returning

in

the gloaming, near Inverarden,

he had met a shabby old man, apparently a tramp

how he had
less
life

addressed him at once as a lost sheep,

exhorting him to give up his wandering and law;

how he had
"

pressed upon him a tract

entitled

Hoary

Sinner,

Stop

!

"

and

how

this

hoary sinner had turned out to be the saintly Dr

Gowans, an ex-Moderator, and Convener of the
Church's Missionary Society.
attention of the

In this

way

the

company was

diverted from Miss

Laverock, and during the remainder of the dinner
she was
left in

comparative peace.
retired

But
her
see

after

she had

from the table to
rest.

own room,
this

she could

not

She must
ascertain

infatuated

young

man, and

the

reason of his

extraordinary condition, and

implore him to spare her.
dangerous, but at
So, without
all

The proceeding was
it

hazards

must be done.

more

consideration, she put on her

hat and went out.

When

Miss

Laverock

passed

through

the

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.

179

farmyard, the shearers had emptied their large
basins of oatmeal porridge, and were lapped in
that

most delicious

of

all

luxuries

rest

after

a

long day of

hard labour.

On

the

heap of

fragrant grass at the stable

door reclined three

or four Highlanders, passing the snuff-mull,

and
in

exchanging
their

their

rather

stinted

sentiments

native

Gaelic.

On

a seat improvised by

the laying of a plank on two upright stones, sat

some pawky Aberdonians enveloped
cloud
of

in

a small

tobacco

fumes.

And

outside

on the

road, under a tree,

was a group of women, mend-

ing their linen as they rested their weary limbs

on the cool green
Winnie's
her to

turf.

On

another occasion,

quick

sympathy would
this

have

enabled

appreciate

picture of

honest well-

earned content.
ing right and

But now, her eyes were searchleft

for

one

figure

;

and there he

was, seated on a stone opposite the garden gate,

and attended by

his

evil

genius, Black

Morgan.

As
he

she passed him, she gave him a glance, which
understood,
for

he

rose

and

followed

her

and when she had walked a short distance, she
turned round, and the two stood
face to
face,

ready

for

an explanation.

But

there

seemed to

be no

chance of the

180

THE QUEER FOLK OF
girl

FIFE.

poor

escaping
to ask

had only time
of
all

—"Why

from

her

perplexity.

She
here,

do you come

places, to disgrace

time

to

answer

me?" and he had
;

only
shall

"

Don't be alarmed

I

not disgrace you,"

when out from
talking
in

the farmyard
his
act,

appeared

Mr

Stocks,

with

grieve.

Like
turned

one

surprised

a criminal
into

Winnie
gate.

aside

abruptly

the

garden

And

there

inside the wall
to

was Miss Jaap, who
the fact that she
air

made no attempt

conceal

had been eaves-dropping.

With an
said,

of the

most righteous indignation she

"Really, Miss Laverock, for the sake of public

decency, you should not be seen talking to that

man."
into

And

then she went out of the garden
as
if

the road

to

get

hold of Riley and

question him.
"

How

dare you

!

"

was

all

that poor

Winnie

could answer, and then escaped hurriedly to her

own room.

There her vexation found vent

in

a

tempest of tears and bemoanings.

"Oh, why," she sobbed, "has
just

this

happened

when

I

was so happy, and everything was

going so

well.

And what

will

Mr

Stocks think?
opinion.
I
is

I'm anxious to

stand well

in

his

have such a sincere admiration for him.

He

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.
not a genius, but he
large-hearted,
fail
is

181

something

far

better


I

shrewd-minded

man, who
life.

cannot

in

any of the duties of

And
for

to-day,

have liked him more than

ever,

the tender

and

clever

way he

protected

me
is

from

these
to

babbling

fools.

And
me.

he

is

really beginning
it

show that he
this

likes

Oh,

provoking that
turn

hapless
all

ne'er-do-well
in

should
to

up

here
everyI

of

places

the
I

world

spoil

thing.

What
I

should

do?

What
at

should
?

do?
that

Should

run away

home
besides,

once
to

No
is

!

would draw more
circumstance
done.
;

attention

the
evil

unfortunate

and
is

the

already

No!

there
;

another course, a very disI

agreeable one
I

but

will
I

face

it.

Why

should

not?

Why
Mr
;

should

not

confess

the whole

thing to

Stocks?

He

will

place himself in
bit the

my
of

position

and may not think a

worse

me.

My
after

mind

is

now made
I

up.

In the
the

morning,

breakfast,

shall

explain

whole matter to him."
In the morning, however, she did not see
Stocks.

Mr

He
till

had been summoned away

to

meet

the factor on important business, and would not

be home
her
;

the evening.
felt

Her

heart sank within

and

she

that

she would

never

get

182

THE QUEER FOLK OF
intensified

FIFE.

through the long weary hours.

And

her misery

was
in

by the contrast which she saw
around
her.

everything

There was

merri-

ment, as well as excitement, in every countenance.
It

was

to be the last

day of

harvest,
to

and
"the

the great question

was,

who was
this,

get

maiden," that

is,

the last handful of grain that

was

reaped.

To

determine

it

is

true,

a

well-known

device

was

generally

practised.

Some

of the

young men conspired, before the
was reached,
it

end of the

field

to leave a shock

of grain uncut and cover

up with

a

stook.

Then when
was

the close

came, and

every ear

of
lass

corn apparently was reaped, the

favoured

taken to the spot,
revealing the

the

stook was cleared
it

away
and
"

unreaped shock, she cut
"the
maiden,"
"
;

thus

secured

and

became

the

Queen of the Harvest
to

but this device
in

required

be cleverly carried out

order to

be successful.

Meanwhile,

Miss

Laverock
a

was
of

passing

the

weary

hours

under

cloud
she

apprehension.

Some What
but
it

great calamity,

feared,

awaited

her.

shape

it

was

to take she could not divine,

was

in

some way connected with
man.

that

unfortunate

young

And

when,

in

the

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.
afternoon, she walked out with Miss Stocks

183

and
felt

Mr Tosh

to see the

end of the harvest, she

as if she were going to her

doom.

Accordingly,

she was not surprised, when, in approaching the

Five Acre Park, they became aware of a great

hubbub.

The end of
;

the harvest had evidently

been reached
in

the reapers were clustering together
at the

a noisy

mob

end of the
in

field
;

;

groans

mingled with shouts arose

the air

and pro-

minent

in

the turmoil were

seen the figures of
"

Peg Jackson and Black Morgan.
Winnie, "it has come at
last.

Now," thought
disgrace has

My

been discovered, and
the world."

will

now be

held up before

But on

this occasion, at least, she

was alarming

herself needlessly.

The commotion was caused
Peg Jackson,
it

by no

serious matter.

seems, at

the dinner hour had noticed three or four stalks of corn that had been
the
field.

left

uncut by the side of

She had squatted down upon them,
flat,

and had beaten them
under
her

and concealed them
;

capacious
first

person

and

as

she was

always the
up,

to sit

down and

the last to rise
till

no one had seen them.

She waited
and

the

device for securing "the maiden," which

we have
Grace

explained

above,

was

carried

out,

184

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.
proclaimed

Fleming, the favoured

damsel, was

"the Harvest Queen."

Then she came forward and
in
ful

protested
;

that

the last of the harvest was not yet reaped

and

proof of the statement she went to the handof grain which she had concealed in such a
it,

grotesque way, cut

and held
;

it

up

in triumph.

Many

loudly demurred

but others declared that
that she

The Bummer was
her shoulder high.
trifled

right,

had got "the
to

maiden," and a proposition was

made

carry

Peg, however, was not to be

with; and

when Black Morgan advanced
him a
cuff

to lay hold of her, she gave

which

sent

him backwards

into a stook.

This cloud of alarm melted away without doing

any damage

;

but a more ominous one was gather-

ing on the horizon.

That evening, the shearers
in

were to be entertained

the barn to a supper

and a dance

;

and

the farmer and his friends

were expected to be present at a part of the
entertainment.
in

At

eight o'clock, the ladies were
to

their

rooms making ready
arose, that

go

into

the

barn,

when a cry
stolen.

Miss Stocks's jeweltime
it

case was

The
dinner

last

had

been

seen was at the
day.

hour of the
just arrived

previous

Mr

Stocks,

who had

from

his

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.
journey,
servants,

185

summoned
and
all

the whole household
ascertain
if

—to

—guests,
it

any clue could
Jaap, who,

be got to the mystery.
definite

No

one could give any

information.
to
all,

Then Miss

was evident
struck in
" It's
:

was bursting with something,

that

man

Riley.

He

was hanging about

the garden gate last night.

You saw
left

him, Miss
and,

Laverock, and you were speaking to him;

by the
of

by,

you must have
ajar,

the garden door
this

the house

for

it

was found open

morning, and that was the
thief
guilt his

way by which

the

must have got
is,

in.

that he has disappeared.

And what confirms his He wasn't at
where he
is,

work to-day.
"

Do you know
Mr

Miss Laverock ?

"Magdalen," said

Stocks sternly,

"there

must be no rash accusations.
got to do
shall
is
till

What we have
I

not to suspect, but to detect.

wait
is

to-morrow morning, and
it

if

the

matter

not cleared up by that time,
police.

must

be put into the hands of the

Meantime,

Magdalen, don't introduce Miss Laverock's name.

She has got nothing
that."

to

do with

it

:

depend upon
were
during

What

Miss

Laverock's

feelings

N

1

86

THE QUEER FOLK OF
ordeal

FIFE.
but
over, can't

this

may

be
it

imagined

be
only
she

described.

When
she

was

all

the
that

remark
could
Stocks,

that

could

make
and

was,

not

go to see the shearers.
her
aside,

But
kissing

Miss

taking

and

coaxing
cat

her, said, "
It

Don't mind what that spiteful
is

insinuates.
for

all

jealousy.
as

Show your
usual,
set

contempt
going

her
as

by appearing
usual."

and
out

about

And Winnie

with her friend to the barn.

When
over,

they reached the barn, the supper was

and the tables and forms were being cleared
to

away
to

make room

for the dance.

Whether
beverage,

it

was owing
a

to the solid

nature of the viands, or
I

scanty
say, but

supply of inspiriting
the

can't

men and women were
their

dull

and dumb, and the sight of
the big house only tended to

betters from

make them

look

more sheepish and awkward.
to be entertained

How

they were

seemed

to be a great difficulty.

But a remedy was
There

at hand.

was

present

an

Orpheus

who

could

animate the stocks and the stones.
the
old,

This was
Wilkie.
clodsitting

bandy-legged

fiddler,

Geordie

On

ordinary occasions

he was a simple
plough
tail,

hopper, trudging at the

or

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.
upon
his

187

muddy
a

cart

;

but at a foy, a penny

wedding, or any other merrymaking, he was a
potentate,
will,

magician

swaying

the

crowds

at

as the
this

moon sways
" in

the waters of the deep.

On

particular night, he was, as
it,

he himself

expressed
after a

fine fettle."

No
reel,

sooner did he,

few preliminary tunings and squeakings,

strike

up an old-fashioned
to

than the dead

mass of humanity began
leap.

move, and throb, and

The

music,

like

electricity,

had and

flashed

through

their

nerves
life.

and

muscles

made

them jump
into sets

into

In a trice they had fallen
in

and were involved

the mazes of the

dance, thumping the floor with their hob-nailed
shoes, cracking their

horny

fingers,

grinning and

grimacing

to

their

partners,

"hooching,"

and

wheeling nimbly about, shaking off their cares
as a

dog shakes
world, and

off the hail-drops,

and looking
in

as if there
this

was to be no more worry or want
all

was to be peace and plenty

for

evermore.

On

another occasion, Winnie, with her sunny
disposition,

sympathetic
thoroughly

would

have

entered

into

this
full

scene,
all

and

would

have

enjoyed

to

the

its

escapades
frozen

and

humours.

But now

her

heart was

by

1

88

THE QUEER FOLK OF
and could not
feel

FIFE.

despair,

anything like pleasure.
its

Their bright merriment by
her despondency
all

contrast only
It
it

made

the darker.

seemed a
intensely.

mockery of her
She looked
on

grief,

and aggravated

in

agony, and was wondering

where she should go and what she should do,

when she saw

the

unwonted
;

sight of a policeman
after-

at the door of the barn

and immediately
in

wards a servant whispered
Miss,

her ear,

" Please,

you are wanted
that

in the parlour."

Then she
hand,

knew

the
to

catastrophe was
it.

at

and

went away

meet

But a strange change had come over her
change

which

surprised

herself.

Despair
felt

had

become desperation, and
perfectly calm

she

now

herself

and

collected.

She was eager to
matter,

make
and

a

full

explanation of the whole

to abide the consequences.

Therefore,

when

she entered the parlour, and saw a policeman,

with

the

official

calmness on his countenance,

and

Riley well dressed

and

bright,

and

Mr

Stocks

anxious and

perplexed, and

Miss Jaap flushed

and giving her evidence, she was not surprised,
but quietly took a seat and listened.
tones was telling

Miss Jaap
story — how

in

excited

her

she had seen Riley last night about

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.
seven o'clock watching the garden gate,

189

how

she

had gone back half an hour afterwards and found

him
one

still

lurking there, and

how
and

she was sure
it

it

was he who took the
else.

jewels,

could be no

Then turning
is

to Winnie, she said, "
for

You
and

know
came
door,

that this

true,

Miss Laverock,
to

you saw

him and were talking
in

him on the

road,

through the garden and did not lock the

and that was the way he got into the house."
this

At
visibly

venomous

speech

the

hearers

were
in-

fluttered.
;

Mr
and
if

Stocks

looked

stern

dignation

the policeman condescended to smile
;

contemptuously

Riley,

producing

a

box,

asked Miss Jaap
"
I

that
!

was the stolen
" cried

article.
;

Ah, look there now

Miss Jaap

"

was
is

not right?

He's obliged to confess that he

the thief."
"

No, Miss

!

there you

are

wrong.

But,"

he

added, after listening to footsteps coming along
the passage,
thief."
" here,
if I

mistake not, comes the

And two
in charge.
"

policemen entered with Black Morgan

So,"

growled

out

Morgan, regarding
"

Riley
split

with a murderous look,

you hound, you

upon your pal

after all

your

gammon

!

But look

190

THE QUEER FOLK OF
smaik
is

FIFE.

here, policemen, this

the real boss of

the plant.
"
it

He

has got the jewel-case on him."
replied Riley coolly
"
;

Right so

far,"

but

I

took

from you

in the

way
you

of business.

I

am Macnab,
Morgan.
that,
I

the detective."
"

The

d

are,"
,

exclaimed
I

"Whew
would
low
"
!

by
d

if

had known
for

have spoilt your

mug
"
!

you.

Mean
don't

mean

!

d mean

Come
is

now, Morgan," said Riley,

"

be

uncharitable.

Every man

to

his

trade.
is

Your

trade
officer.

wholesale criminal.

Mine

detective

You
to

prosecuted

yours with
to

unflagging
I

enthusiasm.

Allow me
look
after

do the same.

was

asked

you.

From

information

received you were thought to be the
for

man wanted
Now,
fact,
I

a notorious crime.
to

It

was a

difficult job, for

you were up

no end of dodges.
In

had

always been fond of play-acting.

I

was
dress

once upon the boards.

So
I

I

resolved

to

up

as a brother pal,

and

stuck to you like a

brother and followed
confess that
to perfection.
I

you

here.

And you must
the part
I

made up and performed

And
I

what's more,

have got the
are

evidence

that

wanted.

You
are

not

Will
are

Morgan.

You know you

not.

You

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.
James
for the

191

Crouch, that

has

been wanted so long

Trongate murder."
intelligence
startled

This
like

the

little

company

the

shock of an earthquake.

The thought

that

they were in the presence of that ruthless

cut-throat, Crouch,

who
in

for

so

many weeks had
for all

been advertised
country,

for

and sought

over the

and

also

the presence of
detective,

Macnab,

the

famous

Glasgow
do

produced what

journalists

call "

a sensation."

For several minutes
their

they could

nothing

but devour with

eyes the criminal,

who

returned their stare with
their

a scowl of defiance.
interrupted
rising

But

amazement was
policemen
their charge.

by the

detective and the

and preparing to leave with
so,

While doing

the detective glanced
" I'll

at

Miss

Laverock, and said,

call

here and see you

to-morrow morning."

The company
denouement.

in the parlour sat for

some time
Miss
fairly

expressing their astonishment at this wonderful

Then Winnie,
regarded
her

noticing that
suspicion,

Jaap

still

with

turned on her.

"You
tion
tell

are wondering, Miss Jaap,

what connecWell
!

this

detective has with me.

I

shall

you.

This

man

is

not

my

husband.

He

is

192

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.

not even

my
is

discarded lover, a statement which
to Kirsten the table-

you were overheard making
maid.

He
time

only
son,

my
and

brother,

nothing more.

He was
whole

an only
to

my

father devoted his

his

education, and

resolved to
(that's
is

make him
brother's

a scholar.

But when Eric
middle name

my

name, and
for the

his

Macnab)
and

was ready

University, he refused to go.
taste for learning,

He

said that he

had no

that his whole heart was for acting, and that he

would go upon the
passionate, imperious,

stage.

Now,

my

father

is

and accustomed
there
it

to get his

own way.
styles
if

Besides,

if

is
is

one calling that
play-acting, as he

he considers disreputable
it.

He

therefore solemnly declared

that

Eric went upon the stage, he would from that

moment disinherit and disown who had inherited his father's
into a profession

him.

But
and
be

Eric,
wilful

hot

temper, declared that he would not

forced

which he hated, that he himself
fitted

was the best judge of what he was best
for,

and that
off,

if

his

own

father chose to throw

him

he would fend for himself.
;

So he went
years,

away and disappeared
yesterday in
of him.
fact,

and

for

up

till

we have seen and heard nothing
it

Now, Miss Jaap, was

not natural that

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.
I

193

should be disturbed when

I

came unexpectedly
the harvest field?

on

my
it

long-lost

brother
I

in

Was
when

not natural that

should blush for him,

I

saw him

in
it

the garments of a hireling

reaper?

And was

not natural that

I

should
it

try to have a talk with

him

?

And was

not

very cruel, Miss Jaap, when you had only these

grounds to go upon, to jump to the conclusion
that
I

was an abandoned

girl,

and actually

to

accuse

me

of aiding and abetting in this robbery
I

of the jewel-case?

ask you, Miss Jaap, has
?

your conduct not been very, very cruel
Miss Jaap sat
silent,

"

and only replied by a look
the most earnest manner
will

of inveterate hatred.

But
said,

Mr

Stocks, in
else

"If nobody

reply,

I

will,

Miss

Laverock.

You have been
invited

used

most

cruelly.

You were

to

the house as a guest, and
like a criminal.

you have been treated
master of the house
I

As
;

the

humbly apologise

and
her

as for Miss Jaap, she ought to

go down on

knees and ask your pardon for her

vile suspicions

and accusations."

But

this

only brought Miss Jaap's hate to a

climax, for she rose up in stern silence and went

out of the room.

194
"
" is

THE QUEER FOLK OF
That woman's unamiability,"
a most pitiable spectacle.
;

FIFE.
said

Mr

Stocks,

She was always

irritable

but latterly her bad temper has become
It
is

chronic.

a madness, a monomania, which

she takes a morbid pleasure in nursing.

Almost

every person

is

looked upon as an enemy, and
insult.
I
I

almost every act as an
to
will
I

myself

am

afraid

move

or to speak lest
it

offend her.
shall

But

I

stand

no longer.
her."
I

She

go at once.

have done with
"

Don't,

Mr

Stocks,

entreat you, cast her

off,"

said
I

Miss Laverock.

understand.

than blamed.
moral.
It
is

You are her only friend, The poor thing is more to be pitied Her infirmity is more physical than
"

the result of biliousness, and can

only be

cured
I

by medical

treatment.

But

I

believe that

am
I

partly to blame.
chatter

My

presence
her.

and
I

my

incessant
that

have aggravated

know

talk too

much.

Ever since
his

I

was

a child,

my

father has

made me
to give
in

companion,
opinion on
I

and has encouraged me
every subject
;

my

and when

company,

am

apt

to forget that other people are not so partial as he
is,

and

I

allow

my

tongue to go

like a bell.

And

poor Miss Jaap, along with others, has suffered.

My

everlasting gabble

must be a great nuisance."

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.
"

195

Well
all

!

"
I

replied

Mr

Stocks, "
is

if that's
I

gabble,

then

have to say

that

don't wish to

hear anything better than gabble during the rest
of

my
"

life."

There's no accounting for taste," said Winnie
"

laughing.
you'll

But,

Mr

Stocks, to

speak seriously,

not cast that poor thing off?
friend.
I

Remember
do,
I I
it,

that

you are her best

If

you

shall

be very miserable, for

shall

feel

that

have
will

been the

cause of

it.

You'll

not

do

you

"
?

"Well, Miss Laverock,
I

if

it's

to give

you

pain,

will

not do

it."

"Now!

that's

like

you.

And

you'll

find that

everything will

now go
to

right.

I'm going

home

to-morrow, and Miss Jaap will then become quiet.

This (pointing
has
the

her jackef)

is

the red rag that
this
is

made
cow

the

cow mad.
settle

When
to

removed

will

down

chew the cud

yes,

the cud of sweet and bitter memories."

now aghast. " Miss Laverock," he stammered, "you can't mean it. No, no it
Stocks was

Mr

will

never do

—why, you
to

have only been here two
stay a
is,

days, and
I

you came

month

at

least.

was looking forward

— that

we were

all

looking
here

forward

—to

a happy time, and

now

"

—and

196

THE QUEER FOLK OF
good man's
feelings

FIFE.

the

overpowered him, and

fairly carried

him away.
;

What he
but

said he never

could exactly remember

he

gave her

to
her,

understand that he could not

do without
life

and

that,

deprived of her presence,
living.

would not

be worth

Then

she,

blushing very much, yet unable to
in her eye, said that this

repress a

merry twinkle
It

was dreadful.

was

just another proof that she
there.

had been too long
fairy
that,

She was the wicked
it,

without
into

meaning
family.

had introduced

confusion
persist
in

the

She must, however,
She wished But

going

home

to-morrow.

to be present at the meeting between her father

and brother, and

to try to reconcile them.

{and here she looked down and faltered
if

in her speech)

her father approved, and she had no doubt he
;

would, she would come back

and

after all

the

proper forms had been gone through she would
stay.

She could not bear the idea of having
the

his

death upon her conscience, or even his unhappiness

all

more so

as she

had always admired
late trouble,

and liked him, especially during her

when he had shown her
good
feeling.

so

much sympathy and

Would he

agree to this arrange-

ment?

A ROMANCE OF THE HARVEST FIELD.
Of
course,

197

he was only too delighted to agree

and he was anxious that there should be witnesses
to the agreement.

So he

led her into the drawing-

room, where Miss Stocks
sitting,

and Miss Jaap were
his affianced bride.

and introduced her as

Miss Stocks rushed to her, and took her in her

arms

;

Miss Jaap bounced out of the room.
wonderful chemical properties
" I
I

"What

must

have," said Winnie.

possess the power both

of attraction and repulsion."
"

No

wonder," said
to look

Mr
in

Stocks,

"

that

she

is

ashamed
you of
" But,"
theft.
I

you

the face, after accusing

theft."

said
stole

Winnie,

"

I

was

really

guilty

of

your heart; but you punished me,

for

you

stole mine."

THE BOY HERETIC.
The
parish

of Sandyriggs
its

had been, time out
In the days

of mind, noted for
of the Covenant
the good cause
its
;

orthodoxy.

its

inhabitants had suffered for
at the Battle of

and

Tippermuir
their testi-

most prominent men had sealed
with their blood.
It

mony

had also been blessed

with a long succession of faithful ministers, both
Established and Seceding,
held
the

men who had
doctrine,

not only

form

of

sound

but also of
parish,

sound words.
this

The
all

minister of

the

at

time,

was the Rev. Jeremiah MacGuffog, a
over the land for his per-

preacher famous
sistent

and deadly attacks upon organs, images,

printed prayers,
tations

human hymns,

private interpreall

of Scripture, intemperance, and

the

other backslidings of the day.
that while
parts

The

result was,

heresy was breaking out in various
country,
it

of the

never was

known

in

Sandyriggs.

The

theological

atmosphere

was

THE BOY HERETIC.
house plant.
Imagine,
reported
then,
at

199

evideqtly too keen and bracing for such a hot-

the
last,

sensation

when
had

it

was

that,

heresy

appeared
inhabitants

among

the rising

generation.
at first
;

The

were struck

dumb

but gradually recoverit.

ing themselves, they began to talk about

It

was discussed
Sunday,
hours
tea.

by the men
by
the

at the church door

on

and

women
?

over

their
it,

four

What
;

could be the cause of

was was

a question frequently asked

One

suggested bad
that
it

education
too

while

another

asserted

much
of

education, and the

boldly wished for the

return

good old time when the
knowledge
as
oil,

young
their

bolted

their

they

bolted

monthly dose of castor
of complaining that
it

and never thought

disagreed with them.

The fama

clamosa

became so

great that

it

could no longer be ignored in his pulpit messages

by that faithful minister, the Rev. Mr MacGuffog. With bated breath he told his hearers that this
was only one instance among many of the was making a desperate attempt
kind.
"

fact

that the spirit of evil had rallied his powers and
to ruin

man-

Yet," he added,

" this
is

incident which has
also

taken

place in

our midst

fraught with

200

THE QUEER FOLK OF
;

FIFE.
of the
their

comfort

because

it

is

the

fulfilment

prophecy that children
parents
;

will rise

up against

and, taken with the wars and rumours
it

of wars that prevail in the world at present,
is

a sign

that

the

glorious

time
for

is

at

hand

when
years."

Satan

shall

be

bound

a

thousand

Who

was

this arch heretic, this

chosen emissary
?

of Satan, at

whom

the parish turned pale

Little

Willie Torrance, aged seven, the son of George

Torrance, a small

farmer.
this

What were

the in-

fluences under which
it

heresy was developed,

is

now our
was

task to describe.

Willie
laddie,"

what

his

mother

called

"a

fell

and

his father
liked,

"a

fair

heartbreak."

Do

what they
behave
like

they could

never

make him

other boys.
;

His dull red hair was
face

always in disorder

his

seemed a favourite
;

resting-place for dust

and smut

his

hands were
;

soiled with the stroking of rabbits

and pigeons

and

his corduroys
trees.

were torn and worn with the

climbing of

A

book was a thing which

he never of his own accord touched.
should have

When

he

been

learning

his

lessons,

he was

outside watching the ducklings and the chicks

and on Sabbath evenings, when

all

the

members

THE BO Y HERETIC.
of
the

201

family were questioned on

the

Shorter

Catechism, he mixed up the answers in the most
profane and ludicrous manner.
tried

Every

effort

was

to

reclaim

him.

His

brother and

sister,

who were much
in

older than he, were most faithful
all

holding

up before him
and
order
applied
; ;

his

sins at

against
intervals

cleanliness

his

father

conscientiously

Solomon's
his mother,

educative in-

strument, the rod
to be kind

and

though longing

and sympathetic, frowned upon many But
effect.
all

of his ways.

these measures seemed to
all

produce no

He, indeed, endured

their

treatment without a
felt

murmur

or protest,
lot

and

really

at times that

he was a bad
;

and would

come

to

a bad

end

but his patience was un-

hesitatingly

pronounced to
to his
list

be

" dourness,"

and

was added on
But
been
in

of crimes.

spite

of
boy,

all

this,

he could

not have

a

bad

for

he

had

some devoted
in the

friends.

The moment he appeared
was
hailed
brute."

farm-

yard, his presence

by both "the fowl

and the

In the sound of his voice and

the touch of his hand there was that miraculous

power, sympathy, which at once

won

their hearts.

He

understood them and they understood him.
cat,

Sweep, the

rubbed and purred against

his

O

202

THE QUEER FOLK OF
;

FIFE.
;

leg

Rover, the dog, jumped up to kiss his face
its

Blaze, the bob-tailed horse, turned round
in its stall to
its

head

neigh to him

;

the brown calf put
;

nose over the fence to be scratched

and the

pigeons settled on him like a small cloud to eat
the corn from his hand.

But

Willie's greatest blessing
friend,

was

his
is

staunch
dear at

bosom
any
hood,
clean,

Bob
is

Fortune.

A

friend

time, but he

especially dear in our childis

when

the

heart

fresh,

the

conscience
pleasures.

and the world
is

full

of untasted

Not only

he another

self,

doubling our delights
is

and lessening our troubles, but he
speare calls
"

what Shakeshedding a

an earth-treading

star,"

new
this

light

on everything.

Answering exactly to
nine years of

description was

Bob Fortune,

age,
in,

and a neighbour farmer's

son,

who

called

every morning, for Willie and accompanied
to school.
It

him

He was

a healthy, hearty, intelif

ligent boy.

seemed as

his soul

were made

of sunlight, which

warmed every limb and shone

through every feature.
soft

He

had a smile and a
;

word

for

every living creature

and

it

was

only when he witnessed cruelty that he was ever
out of
spirits

temper.

Overflowing, too, with animal

and

all

kinds of boyish accomplishments,

THE BOY HERETIC.
he was ever ready to run,
imitate
all

203

leap, sing, whistle,

and

sorts of sounds.

He was

also clever

with his hands and with his tongue, and, therefore,

well fitted

to

be not only a friend but a

protector to Willie.

Your ordinary boy
as

is

apt to be cruel.
all

He

is

Dickens remarks,

"

an enemy to

creation."

He
he

stones cats, beats the
nests,
it,

dumb

driven cattle, robs
" his

birds'

and

in

general gets

sport,"

as

calls

at the

expense of the lower animals.
fellow-sportsmen,
"

Like

his

full-grown

when

he
kill

wants to be happy, he says,
something."

Let us go and

This habit

is

not the result, as

some

suppose, of the cruelty inherent in

human

nature,
It

but rather arises from sheer thoughtlessness.

never occurs to him that the lower animals
the

feel

same pain

as

we do
is

;

and, strange as

it

may

seem, in this age of education, sympathy towards

our fellow-creatures

not taught at school.

From

this

savage habit our two lads had been

saved by a painful accident.
bright, playful

young
been

spaniel,

One day a pretty, named Spring, which
darted
killed.

they

had

just

fondling,

before

a

carriage,

and was run over and

Willie,

especially,

was dreadfully shocked, and could not

get rid of the sight of the poor animal writhing

204
in

*

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.

the death throes on the hard road, looking
pitifully into his face as if struggling to tell
it

up

what
in

was

suffering,

and venting

all

its

agony
stated

one

long, pitiful whine.

Next day he
to torment
like hiz."

to

Bob

that

it

was wrong
"they

animals,

"for," he said,

suffer jist

They

both resolved that they would not be cruel to

any

creature,

and that they would no longer rob
}

nests.

They might take one egg but

that would

not matter, as the bird could not count and would
never miss
it.

Then they wondered where Spring
he was sure to be
in
;

was now

;

and Bob, whose imagination was always
heaven.
for their

active, declared that

Good

dogs, he said, must go to heaven

masters,

when they went

there, could not

be happy

without them.
clusive, for

To

Willie this reasoning was con-

he could not fancy any perfect state
there

of happiness where
favourites.

were

no

four-footed

Our
when

story begins on a bright

summer morning,
for school.

the two boys set out together
as
their

Delightful
particular
usual.

walks

always

were,

this

walk was to be more delightful than
scarcely
left

They had

the farm buildings

and were
there

passing a whinny
in

knowe, when out
state

came running

a great

of flutter

THE BOY HERETIC.
and anger, as
if

205

to attack them, a

hen partridge.

Knowing by
searched

this

that her brood

was

near, they

among

the furze, and found instead of

young
on
at

partridges, five barn-door chickens.

There

they were

—yellow,

black,

and white

—staggering
they

their wire-like legs,
this

and wondering very much
into

strange

world

which

had
still

evidently just newly come.
further,
shells.

On

searching

they came upon a nest with the empty
It

was evident that the pair of partridges,

having been robbed of their

own

eggs,

had come

upon
of
it,

this

neglected

nest,

had taken possession
brood

had
like

hatched

the

and were
to

now
up

trying,
their

good

foster-parents,

bring

adopted family.
object before which the boys stood
at the foot of the avenue.
nest,

The next

was a well-grown larch

On

it

was

their

favourite

a chaffinch's, a

perfect

specimen of

able to

They had been examine and admire it by climbing a
bird-craft.
it.

neighbouring tree and looking into
snugly and
larch,

It

was
the

securely

placed with

in

a
hair,

fork

of

was

cosy

inside

wool,
skilfully

and
all

feathers,

and

outside

was

covered

over with lichen so as to look like a bit of the
tree.

They had

also

taken an interest in the

206

THE QUEER FOLK OF
birds,

FIFE.

two

and by feeding them every day with

seed had
ing,

made them

quite tame.

On

this

morn-

the boys
;

saw that something unusual had

happened

for the hen-bird

was

flitting

excitedly

between the ground and the

nest,

and the cock

was singing
his

his

favourite
;

song with more than

usual briskness
tree,
little

and on climbing the neighfull

bouring

they saw that the nest was
bills.

of

gaping

No wonder
father proud
!

that the

mother

was busy and the

But the most exciting event was seen when
they were passing along the pathway that skirts
the back of the Gibbet

Wood.
that

Out

in

the air

above the

field,

a beak-and-claw fight
birds

was going

on between two
be a wood-pigeon
pigeon
feathers

were discovered to
sparrow-hawk.

and
the

a

The
its

was
were

having
falling

worst

of

it,

and

fast,

when
to let

some
go

crows,

happening
foe,

to

pass,

darted
it

upon the

common
its

the hawk, and forced

hold.

The pigeon

alighted on a wall to recover itself
retreated,

and then disappeared, and the hawk
pursued and harassed by
its

black enemies.

Then without
weather.

further adventures they sauntered

along by the loch side under the blue unclouded
Bright and sympathetic, they formed a

THE BO Y HERETIC.
part of the general joy that
earth.

207

was abroad on the

They

carolled with the lark, whistled with

the

blackbird,

and

sported

with

the

butterfly

among
full

the flowers.

And
:

in

the intervals

Bob,

of bright fancies, told

what he was to do
to be

when he was a man
flowers,
rabbits,

how he was going
full

a farmer, and have a garden

of the bonniest
horses,

and and

keep
birds.

all

kinds

of

dogs,

But when the boys reached the
looked

village

and

down

the Overgate where the school was
their

situated, a

sudden change came over

mood.

There was a dreadful silence which struck terror
into

them.

The

school
for

"

was
late.

in "

and

they

would be punished

being

With

flutter-

ing hearts they mounted the outside

stair,

went

through the

"

pend
door,

"

that led to the school building,

opened

the

stood

before

the

indignant

teacher and

the

expectant
took

and

by no means
punishment
to

sympathetic
bravely,

scholars,
sat

their

and

down with smarting hands
was
about
the

their work.

This humble institution

last

specimen of

its

class.

It

was an instance of the

comparative ease with which, not so long ago,
schools could be set up, and schoolmasters could

208

THE QUEER FOLK OF
The
schoolmaster,

FIFE.
Sloan, had been

be made.

Mr

a house-carpenter.

When

old age began to steal

upon him, and he found manual labour too much
for his strength,
in

he was advised by his fellow-elders

the small sect to which he belonged to start

a school.
said, "
o'

"You've a gude haund
ye' re
;

o' write,"

they

and

no a bad coonter and the members

oor body will send their bairns to ye."
it

He

took their advice, and carried
greatest ease.
First of
all,

out with the

there was no difficulty

about getting a schoolroom.

Choosing

his

own
down

workshop, he cleared out the benches and the
shavings, scrubbed the earthen floor, swept

the bare

walls,

put

in

a

few plain
his

desks and

forms which he had

made with

own hand

;

and the thing was done.

According to

his idea,

no more furnishings, such as
pictures,

maps, globes, or
there was just as

were required.

Then

little difficulty in

converting himself into a school-

master.

He

laid aside his

working-man's clothes,

wore

his

Sunday

best every day, bought a bit of
it

old leather and fashioned

into tawse

;

and

lo

the

transformation
in

was

complete.

The house-

carpenter

one day had been changed into a

teacher of youth.

Equally simple and easy was

his

method of

THE BOY HERETIC.
education.

209

All

he required his

pupils

to

do,
to

besides

their

writing

and

arithmetic,

was

commit
good

to

memory
;

the Shorter Catechism, Proofs,
satisfied

and Psalms

and he rested

that these

words,

when swallowed,

like

a

blessed

medicine would purify the heart, and enlighten
the head.
to

And
to

all

that he, the teacher, needed

do

was

direct
;

and stimulate
for did

them

by

means of the tawse

not the wise

man
"

say that the scourge was the great instrument
to be used in the education of the

young

!

He
His

that

spareth

the

rod

hateth

the child."

scholars were placed on the plain, beaten highway,

and

his

whole duty was to drive them forward.
drover.

He

was an educational

He was

never

known

to have given a single explanation of

any

kind on any subject whatever.

On

this

particular

day,

it

chanced
hard

that

the

work of the school
Willie Torrance.

bore
first

very

on

poor
called

The
a

lesson he
in

was

upon

to

say
"

was

question

the

Shorter
in

Catechism.

Wherein,"
"

asked

the

teacher,

slow and solemn tones,
of
that
estate

consists

the sinfulness
fell ? "
"

whereinto

man

The
fell

sinfulness,"

answered Willie,
"

in a lugubrious, sing-

song voice,

of that estate whereinto

man

2io

THE QUEER FOLK OF
" said

FIFE.
"

—and
sir
!

then he came to a dead stop.
the teacher, sternly.
again,

Go
in

on,

Willie could only
etc.,

run

over

"The
that

sinfulness,"

the

desperate

hope

he

would

thus

gain

an
re-

impetus which would carry him through the

mainder of the answer

;

but

it

was

all

in

vain.

Leather was applied smartly to the palm of his

hand

;

but

this,

while

it

gave a keener realisation

of the feeling of the sinfulness, did not contribute
at all to
his seat
its

theological conception.

He was
to

sent to

in

disgrace,

and sentenced

be kept

in during
task.

the dinner-hour to learn his neglected

The reading
and
girl

lesson

came

next, and every

boy

was

called

upon

in turn to read a verse.

The chapter was
names.

in the

Old Testament, and conof jaw-twisting

sisted chiefly of a long

list

Hebrew
Gallio,
hatteril

Easy-going teachers used to skip such

a chapter,

—one

of

them, an
it

irreverent
"

alleging as a reason, that
o'

was

a

mere

nick-names."

But

Mr

Sloan, a strictly orthodox
letter,

man, held that every word and
jot

nay, every

and

tittle,

were

" profitable for instruction in

righteousness,"

and would not

tolerate this play-

ing fast and loose with the inspired record.
it

As

was,

these

Jewish

names

stuck

in

Willie's

THE BOY HERETIC.
throat.

211

In

the

supple jaws

of

old

Orientals,

without doubt, they were as a sweet morsel to be
rolled
stiff

under the tongue

;

but, in the

narrow and

jaws of a Scotch boy, they were hard nuts

which could neither be cracked nor swallowed.

A

smart box on the ear was suddenly administered,
but
it

did not contribute to the clearing of the

head, or the loosening of the vocal organs.

There
in

was no help

for

the lad.

He was
class

left

the
in

midst of the verse, like a lamb entangled
thicket of brambles,

a

and the

proceeded with

the remainder of the task.

The
dipped

writing lesson followed.

Willie, grasping

the pen tightly between the forefinger and thumb,
it

in
full,

the ink
and, on
fall

;

but alas

!

the ink bottle

was too
let

bringing out the pen, he

a big blot

upon the paper.
his

He

licked

the ink

up with
left

tongue

;

but a very ugly

mark was
tried
blot.

upon the copy.

And when

he

to

make a stroke he only made another The master gave him a smart rap on the
;

knuckles with the ruler
his hand, his

but

this

only shook

and

flustered him.

He

could not keep
;

fingers

free

from the black liquid

and, in

his desperation,

he wiped them sometimes on his

corduroys, sometimes on his hair, and sometimes

212

THE QUEER FOLK OF
his
face, until

FIFE.
if

on

he looked as
ink.

he had been

exposed to a shower of

The dinner-hour now

intervened, and he
all

was

locked up in the schoolroom

alone to get up

the Catechism lesson which he had been unable
to repeat.

By

dint

of

sheer

hammering,

he

managed
his

to fix the words, not the meaning, in

memory.

Yet
hill

all

the while he was looking

out on a green

opposite, where a

boy of
!

his

acquaintance was herding a cow.
envied that boy
!

Oh how
it

he
if

How
for

delightful

would be
school,
air,

he

could

get

free

ever

from

and

pass the long

summer day

in the

open

rolling

on the grass among

his favourite

animals
difficult

After the dinner-hour came the most
task of
all.

A
He

column of

figures

on the
told to to

slate

was put before him, and

he

was

add
;

them

up.

did

not

know how

add

he

did not

know even
it

the meaning of the word, and

no explanation was vouchsafed to him.
wondering how

He

sat

should be done, and feeling

that his brain was

becoming a mass of confusion.

Casting a stealthy glance upon his neighbour's
slate,

he found that his neighbour was putting
quite
easily

down

under the column a row of

figures.

He

concluded that the whole thing was

THE BOY HERETIC.
a puzzle, and was

213

only

to

be

found
first

out

by
set

experiment.

Accordingly, he tried

one

of figures and then another, but every time he

was wrong.

At

last

the master, losing patience,

was driven to the use of sarcasm.
boy's ear, twisting

Seizing the
to a

him round, and pointing

stucco bust which was over the door, and which,
indeed, was the sole ornament in the school, he
said, in

withering tones,
little

"

There's your brother."

Then, tapping the
"

confused skull, he added,
pin."

You've a head, and so has a

school

laughed at these sarcasms.

The whole They were

well known.

They were

the master's only jokes,
often.

and, therefore, did
Willie had
lessons

duty very
the

now run
all

gantlet

of

all

the
to

and

the

punishment.
to

The road

knowledge had not been

him

a green and

flowery lane, along which he was led with ease

and

delight.

It

had rather been a thorny brake,
dragged by

through which he had been
force,

main

and from which he issued
It

hot, dishevelled,

and bleeding.

never occurred to him to ask,
of
all

"What

is

the

use

this?"

He had

a

vague impression that

this education, like

measles

and whooping cough, was one of those serious
dispensations

of

Providence

which

all

must

214

THE QUEER FOLK OF FIFE.
through,

go

and

which

must

be

borne

with

patience.

But now came a

relief.

Mr
;

Sloan, soothed

by

the good dinner which he had just eaten, sank
into his

usual afternoon nap

and the scholars
slates

immediately turned from their books and
to

subdued

fun

and

talking.

Willie,
tell his all

greatly

relieved, stood

up and began

to

neighbour,

Button Bowie, as they called him,
sights

the strange

which he and Bob Fortune had seen that
:

morning

the partridge with the brood of chickens,
nest,

the chaffinch's

and the

fight

between the

wood-pigeon and the sparrow-hawk.

But
In

this interval of relief
in

was not
every

to last long.

every school, just as
beings, there
is

company

of

human
and

always to be found a bully

this

bully requires two persons near him,

a victim to be tormented by him, and a toady to

laugh at his cleverness.
years of age, was the bully

Christopher Bain, nine
;

poor, harmless Willie

was the victim

;

and Button Bowie, whose father
father,

was foreman to Bain's

was

the

toady.

Bain founded his superiority on the fact that his
father

was the
and

largest farmer in the

neighbourconceited,

hood,

kept

a

gig.

He was
Coming

brazen-faced,

and

loud.

forward,

he

THE BOY HERE TIC.
cried,
"

21

Weel, what's

that

little

numskull, that

dunce

o'

the hale schule, been sayin' noo?

He's

gettin' stupider

than ever."

Button, eager to curry favour with the son of
his father's

employer, told him.
beggar," said Bain to Willie, as
"
if

"Ye
in

lee'in

righteous indignation,
?

hoo daur ye

tell

sic

stories

Why,
;

ye're sae stupid that ye

wadna ken
a

a pigeon frae a hawk.
a bull's
fit

Ye wadna ken

B

from
little

"

and, so saying, he gave the

fellow a push
floor.

which sent him sprawling on the

While some of the
"

girls

cried

out

"

Shame,"

and Button Bowie sniggered, Bob Fortune exclaimed,
o'

Stop
size.

that,
I

ye big coward.
the

Strike ane

yer ain

tell

same story that Willie
Ca'

telt

aboot what he saw
!

this mornin'.

me

a

leer
"

Try 't
I'll

"
!

Ay,

try

't,"

retorted Bain in a blustering

voice.

"Just try't," repeated Bob.

"Ay,

I'll

try't,

and

dae't tae."

But now an explosive snore proclaimed that
the master was waking, and in
scholars
just as

an instant the

were intent on their
if

slates

and books,
;

they had never stopped their studies

216

THE QUEER FOLK OF
tried

FIFE.
look as
if

and the teacher himself
had never been
asleep,

to

he

but had

only shut his

eyes to think out some deep problem.
bit of acting

A

fine

on both sides

!

After the scholars

were

dismissed,

Bob and

Willie went to do some errands at the village
shops, and then they took their

way homewards.

When

they came to the foot of the avenue,

whom

should they see but Bain and Bowie looking up at
the chaffinch's nest
this
is
?

"

Oh, ho
;

!

"

cried Bain, " so,

yer precious nest

"

and before they had
to happen, the wretch

any idea of what was going

had shot a stone with unerring aim, and the ruins
of the nest and the young birds, gasping out their
little lives,

were lying on the hard ground.
;

Willie

burst into tears
rascal,

but Bob, rushing at the heartless

thrashed him soundly, and ended by throw-

ing him

down

in a

bed of

nettles.

Bain, starting

up, ran to a distance,

and then threw a big stone

which, had not

Bob smartly ducked, might have
Bob, crying out,
"

done serious damage.

Twa

can

play at that game," sent after him a missile which
hit

him on the small of the back, and he went

howling round the corner, followed by his sympathising spaniel, Button Bowie.

Bob and

Willie

sorrowfully gathered up the murdered birds, and

THE BOY HERETIC.

217

buried them in a tuft of moss, while the parents,
fluttering round, filled the air with their distressful

notes.

The next

day, Thursday, was the annual

fast,

which, in this primitive village of Sandyriggs, was

most rigidly observed.

As

the preparation for
it

the solemn rites of the communion,
sidered even

was conitself.

more sacred than the Sabbath

Any

secular

work or any amusement on such a
to be an act of desecration.

day was considered
There
is

a story

still

handed down, that a
the village on
whistle, to run

stranger,

who was passing through Day, and who chanced to
the
natives,

a

Fast

was stoned by
for

and obliged

his

life.

I
I

myself distinctly remember

my

horror

when

saw two boys on such an occasion playing
marbles.
I

at
fall

trembled

lest

lightning should

from heaven, and strike them dead.
there were

But of

late,

some bold

spirits

who regarded

this

day

as a

mere human

institution, and,

therefore,

not binding upon them.

Bob

Fortune's father

was one of
his children

these.

On

principle, neither he nor

went

to church

on a Fast Day.

And
big

thus

it

happened that Bob had told Willie that
to

he was going on the morrow
brother fish in the loch.

see

his

P

2i

THE QUEER FOLK OF
On
the

FIFE.
Day, George

forenoon

of

the

Fast

Torrance, silent and serious, like a
living

man

bent on
all

up

to

a high ideal, set out
It

with

his

family to church.
day, and
as

was

a

brilliant

summer

they went along Willie could not

help occasionally giving vent to his delight, when
a golden butterfly wavered across his path, or a
lark sprang
field.

up singing from a neighbouring grass
his

But

unseasonable
;

joy

was

frowned
"

down by
ony

his father

and

his

mother
it

said,
is."

For

sake, laddie,

mind whatna day

When

they came to the loch, there was
in

Bob Fortune

the distance.

He had
his

taken off his shoes,

and was lying on
luxuriating in

back on the grass, and

the sunshine.

On

seeing them,

he rose up and waved to them.

Willie had soon
action.

good reason

for

remembering that
life,

For

the rest of his

the image of the bright boy
left his

waving

his

hand never

memory.
were solemn and

The
long.
tion,

services that

day

in

the church, in which

George Torrance was an
First of
all,

elder,

the minister of the congrega-

Mr

Peden, went up into the pulpit, gave

out a psalm to be sung, and offered up a long
prayer.

Then, while a second psalm was being
place to a

sung, he gave

reverend brother,

Mr

THE BOY HERETIC.
Herd, of the Byres, who, not
prayer
already given, thought
in

219

satisfied
it

with the
to

necessary

engage

another of equal length.

The sermon
and a psalm
Torrance, in
in a private

came
tailed

next, severely doctrinal, many-headed, long;

and then a short prayer

concluded the forenoon service.
the interval, led his family to a

Mr
room

house, where they silently lunched on baps and
ale.

The
of

afternoon
the

service

was a
one

repetition

of

that

forenoon,

with

of

the

long

prayers

left out.

Some

people of the present day

may

be inclined
flat,

to sneer at this service as " weary, stale,

and

unprofitable/'
rustics

But to the
books,

intelligent
it

and pious
intellectual

who had few
spiritual treat,

was an

and a
them.

which edified and refreshed

Their most heartfelt associations clustered
its

round the church and

worship, and they could
:

sing with genuine feelings the lines of the psalm
" Blessed are they in

Thy

courts that dwell,
praise."

They ever

give

Thee

A

great mistake, however, was

made

in subjectIt

ing mere children to these ordinances.

was

thought, indeed, that the preaching of the Word,

though not understood, was bound to touch them

and

foster within

them a love of

religion.

The

220

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.
result.

very reverse, however, was often the

Their

bodies were wearied out, their minds were stupefied,

and they formed disagreeable associations with the
church, which were sometimes never dispelled.
Willie

Torrance, in the

afternoon

especially,

passed through a very disagreeable ordeal.
sat

He
in

on a high, hard seat with his
air.

feet

dangling

the

Under the
church,

influence of the heat of the

crowded

and the monotonous tones of
fell

the minister, he

fast

asleep.

Then he was
and
his

roughly awakened by a nudge from his father,

and a kick from
whispered to him,
minister."

his

brother
up,

;

mother
to

" Sit

and

listen

the

The poor

lad,

rubbing his eyes, tried

to

obey

her,

but he could not understand a single
It

scrap of the sermon.

was

as meaningless

and
east

depressing to him as the

moaning of the
wild

wind
night.

at

the

kitchen

window on a
he
do,

winter

What

could
his

therefore,

but

sit all

wearily,

and allow

thoughts to stray to
all,

sorts of things, and,

above
loch

wonder what Bob
until

was
"

doing

at

the

side,

the
at

word
last

Amen "

told

him that the sermon was
end
of
his

done, and the

imprisonment

near.

What
been
!

a welcome sound had that word always
It

was the only part of a discourse that

THE BOY HERETIC.
ever stirred him
;

221

and even

in

a dead sleep he

could
that

hear

it,

and waken up

with

the feeling

a wearisome ordeal

was passed.

Yet on
into

that particular

day when he came out
upon

the

sunshine,

he did not

experience his usual joy.
lay
his
spirits.

A

strange depression

He
with

could not help feeling that

God was angry

him

for not listening to the

sermon, and for not

liking the church.

He had

also the apprehension

that a

punishment was hanging over him, and
occasion that apprehension was fated to

on

this

be realised.

On

their

way home, when they came near

the

loch, he saw that something unusual had happened.

A

group of people were standing on the bank,
;

and talking excitedly
towards the
father,
village,

and two men, hurrying

whispered something to his
front.

who was
and

in
in

He

heard the name,

" Fortune,"

another

minute he

became

conscious that a terrible

calamity had befallen

him.

His boy friend and protector was drowned.

Two young
come

men,

in the course of the day,

had

to the loch,

and had got hold of a boat to
they were at some distance

have a row, and had invited Bob to go along
with them.

When

from the land, the two young

men

fell

into

a

222

THE QUEER FOLK OF FIFE.
and
after the

dispute,

foolish

manner of gawks,

stood up in the boat and had

some

horse-play.

In an instant the boat was upset, and tne three

occupants were in the water struggling for

life.

The young men managed, with difficulty, to reach the shore but the boy, who was not a swimmer,
;

could only cling to the bottom of the boat.

For

some time he struggled
on to the
for help.

to get out of the water

keel, crying desperately all

the while

But

his

brother could not swim, and
either too tired or too
;

the two

young men were

timid to venture to rescue him

and while they

were standing wondering what they should do,
the

poor

lad,

worn

out

with

his

ineffectual
after-

struggles,

sank out of

sight.

A

minute

wards,
in

men from
now was
it

the neighbouring farm arrived
it

another boat, but

was too

late.

All they

could do

to recover the body.

After an

hour's dragging, door,

was found, placed on a barn
to

and covered with a cloak

be

carried

home.
side,

The

Torrances, on

arriving

at the loch

saw the melancholy procession proceeding

up the road by the Mill Farm.
This
a
blow,
terrible

disaster

fell

upon
His

Willie

like

and

stunned him.

powers were

paralysed, and he could neither speak nor weep.

THE BOY HERETIC.
He saw
and the muffled
disappearing
in

223

the loch, the excited groups on the shore,
figure, lying

on the barn door,
;

the

distance

but

the

whole
This
sat

scene appeared to be a terrible nightmare.
stupor continued
silent

as

he

walked home, and

by the

fire.

But

after

he had gone to bed,
in

his

mother heard him sobbing, and,

a voice

half-choked with tears, praying that
restore to
life

God would
morning

his lost friend.

And
the

in the

he was really hopeful that his prayer would be
answered.
times,

God had

raised

dead

in

past

and why should

He

not do the same

now ?

And

he actually waited

for his daily
in

companion,

looking up the pathway

the

Back Planting,
coming

and expecting
bounding down
looked
in vain,

to see

him, as

formerly,

like a deer.

But he waited and
set

and was obliged to

out for

school alone.

As he went along
broke out afresh.

the familiar road, his grief

Almost every object reminded

him of
never,

his best friend,

who was

gone, and would
lingered

never

come

again.

He
still

awhile

with a strange, melancholy feeling over the ruins
of the chaffinch's nest that
lay on the road.

There was one
not
face,

object,

however, that he could
cruel loch

and that was the

which had

224

THE QUEER FOLK OF
his

FIFE.
it

drowned

friend

;

and to escape

he went
links.

round by the

My re

Farm, and down the
village, the
:

Then

as he

came near the

thought
if

suddenly flashed across his brain
should be there,
for
if

What

Bob

he should have recovered, and,

some

reason,

gone to school by another way,
for

and
alas
!

should

be sitting waiting

him

?

But
him,

no such joyful

experience

awaited

but another of a very different kind.

There

is

a

set

of well-meaning but

narrow-

minded

Christians,

who

take a very paltry view

of God's government of this vast and complicated
universe.

They imagine
it

that every calamity

is

a judgment, that
particular sin,

is

the punishment of
this sin
it

some

and that

can be identified.
is

They

are also convinced that
to this calamity,

their

duty to
it

call attention

and hold

up as
they

a warning
call

to their fellow-men.

And

this

"sanctifying the dispensation of Providence."

Mr

Sloan was one of these

;

and when Willie
his

entered,

he was beginning to read to

awe-

struck scholars a speech which his minister, the

Rev.

Mr

Moodie,

of

the

Original
:

Protesting

Church, had prepared for him
"

They were

met," he said,

"

under the gloom

of a sad calamity.

One

of their number, while

THE BOY HERETIC.
been drowned.

225

playing by the loch side on the Fast Day, had

His heart bled

for the

poor boy

cut off in the springtime of his days.

But while

he owed a duty to the dead, he also owed a duty
to the living.

He

had now

to tell

them that God

was reading

to

them a

terrible warning.

Had

this

unfortunate boy been attending to his duty, had

he been at church, had he been observing the

day
still

set

apart by God's

own

people, he

would

have been

in the land of the living

and the
fell

place of hope.

As

it

was, the

punishment
sin,

upon him

in
for

the midst of his

and without

any time

repentance he was sent before the
It

Great Judge.

was an awful thought, but
it

if

they believed the Bible

was a thought that

they could not help having, that their unfortunate

schoolmate was now bitterly repenting his neglect
of ordinances in the place of woe."

At
fell

the sound of these last three words, horror
listeners,

upon the young

and a

childish voice

was heard
"

calling out, " It's a lee."
? "

Who

said that

cried the master, white with

rage.

"William Torrance," cried the

officious
;

Chris-

topher Bain, in a tone of exultation
the culprit

and, seizing

by the

collar,

he dragged him forward.

226

THE QUEER FOLK OF
the child
sir
!

FIFE.
the throat, and

The master took
shook him.
are saying?
"

by

Now,

do you know what you
not only

you are

calling,
lie.

my

word,

by the Word of God a
that

Do

you

still

say

what
no

I

said

was a

lie ?

" It's

true," said

Willie, with flashing eyes,

and

a

look

of

determination

on

his

childish

features.
"

Then," said the master, taking off his coat
" I

and pulling out the tawse,
first
till

must punish you,
I

for

the offence, and then

must

flog

you

you express your regret

for

what you have

said."

Then was witnessed

a spectacle which was not

uncommon
to

in that class

of schools

—a

man

trying

beat what he called

"human depravity"

out

of a child, just as a housemaid beats the dust

out of a dirty carpet.
failed
in

But, in this case, the

man
he

his

task.

The boy
fell

frequently writhed
;

as

the

cutting

stripes
tear,

upon him
his

but

shed not a single
solutely

and kept
at

teeth re-

clenched

;

and

every interval when
not
sorry,

he

was

asked

if

he was
" it's

he

kept
the
to

repeating the phrase,
master,
give
in

no

true."

At
small

last

puffing

and perspiring, was

obliged

and

sit

down

;

and

the

culprit

THE BOY HERETIC.
stood
before him,
red

irj

and dishevelled, but un-

subdued.

"Go

out of this school," panted forth, at
;

last,

the defeated pedagogue

and the

little

lad,

with

a dignity beyond his years, took up his cap and
books, walked to the door, and deliberately shut
it

behind him.

He
in

took the same

way by which
;

he

had

come

the early morning

and
till

he
at

carried out his determination not to cry,

the turning of the road, he unexpectedly caught

a glimpse of

the

loch.

Then, before he was

aware, an uncontrollable paroxysm of grief
on,

came

and when he arrived

at

home he was sobbing
tell his

hysterically.

At

first,
;

he could not
it

mother

what was wrong

and

was only by

persistent
all

questioning that she extracted from him
details

the

of the disaster.

She was struck dumb

with consternation, and she could only wash his
face,

brush his

hair,

and lay him down to

rest

on her own bed.
at

But when the family assembled
his

dinner,

the horror which
" It

crime
like

excited
thing,"

found expression.
said the mother,
"
"

was an awfu'

" to

contradick the maister."
maister,"
;

Contradickin' the

said

the

father,

that

was the
o'

least o't
"

it

was contradickin' the

Word

GodJ

228
" I

THE QUEER FOLK OF
wonder what the neibours
sister,

FIFE.

will say," skirled
I'll

the

"and

Sawbath the Sacrament.
forrit."

never be able to gang
" It

should be threshed oot

o*

him," growled

the brother.
"

And
;

that's
"

exactly what

I'll

dae," said

the

father

bring the strap."
instantly

The mother, however, was
She was
" ye'll

up
;

in arms.

in

general an obedient wife
its limit.

but here
she cried,

her obedience found

" 'Tweel,"

dae naething

o'

the kind.

The

bairn's

been

hashed enough already.
his skin,

The

bluid's

barkened on

and

his serk's stickin' to his
if

back

;

"

and

she took him in her arms as

to protect him.

Next morning

his father told

him that he must
to the master

go back to the school and apologise

but that look of determination came again into
his youthful face,

and he

said, "

No,

I'll

no gang."

The

father got hold of the strap, seized

him by

the collar, and was about to flog

him

;

but stopped

when he

said,

"Ye may
startled

kill

me, but

I'll

no gang."
at this
eerie

The

father

was

and half
It

afraid

unprecedented rebellion.

was something

and uncanny.
lead
to.

He

did not

know what

it

might

He

therefore desisted,

and throwing the

boy

aside, said

THE BOY HERETIC.
"Weel, I'm through
I

229

wi' ye.

I've

dune

a'
it's

that

can for ye
faut.

;

and
ye'll

if

ye gang to the bad,
o'

yer

ain

But

no eat the bread

idleness

here.

If ye wunna learn ye maun maun gang and herd the sheep in

work.
the

Ye
Back

Park."

And now was
for his
sin.

this little fellow
life

made

to suffer
like

His

must have been very

that of an
times.

excommunicated one

in the Catholic

His own father would not speak to him,
to attend church

and would not permit him either
or family worship.

shook their

The neighbours stared and heads when he passed. His former
must
have
been
told
to

school-fellows

avoid

him, for they never

came near him.
it

The only

sympathy he
was from
"

got, if

could be called sympathy,

auld Wull Crabbie," the stone-breaker,

who

plied his

hammer

near the entrance to the

village.

This wayside philosopher, shaggy-browed

keen-eyed, hook-nosed, perched upon a seat

made
before
all

of an upright stone with a bunch of straw on
the top of
it,

knapped away at the

"

bing

"

him

;

and

in the intervals of labour

watched

that was going

on.

From

every stranger that

passed he levied some bit of information, and to
every acquaintance that came near he imparted

230

THE QUEER FOLK OF
sarcastic

FIFE.
he was a cynic,

some

comment.

In

fact,

a true follower of Diogenes, scorning the luxuries

which never came to him, and finding
luxury
in

his true

criticising

severely the failings of his

fellow-creatures.

One morning when
sae,

Willie was passing, Wull,

fixing his ferret-like eyes
laddie,
leer.

upon him,
enough

said,

"And
auld

ye were

bold

to

ca'

Sloan a
that

Ye

stupid shaver, dae ye no ken
ministers

dominies

and

never

tell

lees.

They're perfeck.
that
to

Did ye ever hear them confess
?

they were ever wrang
that

Na

!

Dod
awa

I

come
them
into

think

they must have been present at
wi'

the creation, and that they brocht

the Mawker's plans, and hae packed them
the twa buirds
toots,
o'
I

a'

the Confession
?

o'

Faith.

But,

what am
to
sit

sayin'

I'm

jist haverin'.
o'

Wha
?

am
It's

I,

in

judgment upon men
ceevil, as
;

that kind

aye best to be
to

the auld wife said
"

when she bobbit
he made a
more.
fierce

the deevil

and with that

blow at a stone and said no

For several months Willie continued
herd-boy.
father
;

to

be a
his

It

was thought a degradation by
felt
it

but he himself
the

to be the reverse.

After

bondage

and

oppression

of

Sloan's

THE BO Y HERETIC.
school,

231
it

what an unspeakable

relief

was

!

He

had now the freedom
be
the
birthright

—a

freedom which should
creature

of

every young

—to
and

wander about over the green earth and

under

the blue sky, to drink in the fresh air and sunshine,
bird,

to

notice
flower,

all

the
to

beauties

of
in

beast,

and

and

share

the general

banquet of joy provided by nature.

And

another

pleasure altogether unexpected awaited him.

One Sunday
for

morning, as he was setting out
Park,
the
his

the
as
his

Back
it

mother

said

to

him

that,

was

Sabbath

day,

he
it

should
as

take

Bible with

him

and

read

he

herded the sheep.

To

please her, although the

method
he put
as

of

his

education

had

given

him

un-

pleasant associations connected
it

with
in

the Book,

in

his

pocket

;

and

the afternoon,

he lay on the grass in a
it

listless
it

mood, he

took

out and opened

it.

Now,

chanced that

the passage which caught his eye was the history

of Abraham, and

before he was
it

almost aware,

he was reading

attentively.

He

could

not

master some of the hard names and allusions
but

he

knew enough
the
narrative.
all,

to

understand

and

ap-

preciate

Here was a discovery
collection of hard

The

Bible, after

was not a

232

THE QUEER FOLK OF
and
difficult

FIFE.
fitted

names

passages

only
It

to

puzzle and

torment school children.

was a

delightful story-book.
it

day

after

day.

So he continued to read Surrounded as he was with
he
dwelt
scenes
in

pastoral

associations,

with

especial

delight on
fact,

the pastoral

Genesis.

In

he was never tired of reading them.
lies

What

a wonderful magic
this

in a

book which enabled
in

Scottish

shepherd

lad

the

nineteenth

century to enter into the lives and feelings of
those primitive shepherd kings of the East
his
!

In

own

little

way he
speak.

fancied he

saw them and
found
himself

heard
placing

them
the

He
of
the

often

scenes

principal

events in

the pastures that lay before him.

For instance,

a large beech standing

by

itself

was the
his

tree
;

under

which

pleasant

Abraham meadow in the
was
lifted

pitched

tent

a

distance was
at

the

field

where

Isaac

meditating

the

eventide,

when
behold,

"he
the

up

his

eyes

and
;

saw,

and
the

camels
at

were
foot

coming
of
the

"

and

watering-place

the

Back Park

was the well where "Jacob kissed Rachel, and
lifted

up

his voice

and wept."

This was
to him. on,

liter-

ally bringing ancient history

home

When

the

winter

was

coming

Willie's

THE BOY HERETIC.
mother saw that something must be
his

233

done

for

education.

Now,

there

was

in

Sandyriggs
than

another school of
Sloan's,

much

higher
it,

standing

and the master of

Mr

Fairful,

was

college-bred, and had the very highest character
for intelligence

and Christian philanthropy.
to

She,

therefore,

resolved

apply to

him.

He was

very

likely,

she thought, to refuse to take her

scapegrace,

through
;

fear

of

his

contaminating
rate

the other children

but at
the

any
So,

she must

do something
with Willie in

for

boy.

one morning,
at

her

hand, she

knocked

the

door of the school and asked to see the master.

When
him
"
I

he came out, he looked so frank, genial,
in

and kind, that she had no hesitation
all

telling

about her
all

child.
said.
"

know

about the case," he
;

No

doubt the lad was wrong

but those that proto

voked
are that

him were
they should

still

more

blame.
so

There

certain

religious

questions

mysterious

never

be handled, especially
got to do,
is

before the young.

What we have

to set people on the right road in this world

we should never attempt
destiny in the next."

to fix their everlasting

Then, taking Willie by
:

the hand, and looking at him kindly, he added

Q

234
"
I'll

THE QUEER FOLK OF
him."

FIFE.
I

be happy to receive him, and do what
for

can

Mrs

Torrance

thanked

him

warmly, and went away very much relieved.

As

time passed on, Mrs Torrance fancied that

she saw a change for the better in Willie.

He
hair

became
and
on

tidier,

and was more particular

in

wash-

ing his face and hands and

brushing his

Sabbath
the
Bible.

evenings
But,

he was often

seen

reading

on

the

other

hand,

very

little

time seemed to be devoted by him
of his lessons.

to the preparation

On

the long

winter nights

he was usually engrossed with a
"

book, entitled

Natural History of Beasts, Birds,
its

and Fishes," poring over
on paper
its

pages, and copying
;

pictures of animals

and when the

lightsome evenings of spring came, he was almost

always out of
of the
in

doors,

playing with the tenants

farmyard, or roving through the woods
nests.

search of

His

big

brother,

in

that

masterful tone generally assumed
often

by big

brothers,

asked him,
schule
"
?

"

Hoo
the

are

ye

gettin'

on at

the

"

But

invariable

answer was
fine
? "

" fine."

What dae ye mean by
"

the

brother demanded.
reply.

Ou,

jist

fine,"

was

all

the

At length came

the

time when

the

school

THE BOY HERETIC.
was a great event
to

235

year was to be closed with the public examination.
It
;

for
in

not only were

the pupils

be examined

presence of the

public, but the prizes

were to be decided on the
of
the scholars

spot

by the

voices

themselves.
in

This method, though

common enough
Yet
it

those
to to

days, seems to us rough and ready,

and apt
failed

lead

to

favouritism.

seldom

arrive at the right decision.

The

fact was, that

the

best
;

pupils

generally stood

out unmistakcase,

ably
the

and when there was any doubtful

teacher

had ways

and

means

of

turning

opinion in the right direction.

The
present
solved

parents were respectfully invited
at
this

to

be
re-

ceremony.
but
it

Mrs
was
that

Torrance
fear

to

go

;

with

and
would

trembling.
fail

She was

afraid

Willie

in his

examination, and bring disgrace upon
public.

her before the
laddie,

He was

such a queer

and

had

never

brought them anything
she went into the school-

like credit.

And when
saw
to

room,
feeling
wife,
sister,

and
rose

the
alarm.

company assembled,
There were the
the
parish

her

laird's

Mrs

Campion, and
MacGuffbg,

minister's

Miss

and

the

wife

of the

principal

grocer and of the principal baker,

Mrs

236

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.
others.

Figgins and Mrs Cook, and

many

There

were several
tied,

ministers, black-coated, white-neck-

Above all there was the Rev. Mr MacGuffog, who had denounced Willie
solemn-faced.

from the

pulpit.

Oh, what a countenance he
holy without doubt, but

had, self-denying and
oh, so hard

and so devoid of ordinary sympathy
this

There was no saying what
might think
this
it

fanatical

man
seize

his

duty to do.
catechising
before

He
the

might
son

opportunity
his

of

her

and

exposing

deficiencies

assembled

company.

The examination, however, went on and when Willie's class came forward a
surprise awaited her.
top,

quietly

pleasant
at the

There was her boy

happy and
from
the

intelligent,

catching encourageeye,

ment

teacher's

and

answering
it

every question.

She could not believe that

was the same lad who was so silent, and often so stupid-looking, at home. With flushed cheeks
and
bright

eyes

he

actually

appeared

goodred, his

looking.

His very hair seemed no longer

but auburn.
class-fellows

And when
to award the
their lips,

the time

came

for

prizes, there

was

just

one name on
Torrance
"
;

and that was "William
for

and the three rewards,

English,

THE BOY HERETIC.
Bible
all

237

Knowledge, and
to him.

Arithmetic
shall
I

respectively,

went

And how

describe her
all

emotions when the exhibition was over, and
the principal people

— Mrs Campion, Mrs
—came
in

Figgins,

Mrs Cook, the
MacGufTog
her
!

ministers,

and among them Mr

himself
tears

up
her

to

congratulate

The
in

were

eyes,

her

heart

was

her mouth, and she could scarcely frame

words wherewith to thank them.

Then
shaking

the teacher,

Mr

Fairful,

came

up,

and

her

hand, told
success.

her

was by
said,

Willie's

how gratified he " The poor boy," he

"had been very much misunderstood.
to

He
about

had within him a keen desire
the
natural
objects around
birds.

know

all

him

—human
known
that he

beings,
this

beasts,
desire,

and
those

Instead

of

gratifying

who should have

better
interest

tried to
for

cram him with tasks that had no

him.

The consequence was
look.

became
sullen

disgusted,

and wore what was considered a But when he came

and stupid

to us,

we

gave him lessons that were not only interesting,
but referred to the familiar scenes around him.
Therefore, he devoured

them

eagerly,

and became
it

a most diligent scholar.

And

then

was that

the information about country sights and sounds,

238

THE QUEER FOLK OF
his

FIFE.

which of

own accord he had

collected,

became
a
it

of use to him and gave him an advantage over
his fellows.

A

young human

soul,

in

fact,

is

rosebud

full

of delightful

possibilities.
it

Keep

in a chilly
itself

atmosphere, and

will

never develop
a
in-

properly,

and
it

will

very likely become

canker.
fluences,

Surround

with bright and genial

and

it

will

gradually open wide
its

its petals,

and delight the world with
and splendour."
"

grace, fragrance,

But,

sir,

he did not spend much time over

his

lessons at night."
"

No," replied

Mr

Fairful, "

we do not approve
their

of long

home

lessons.

If children give all

attention at school for four or five hours a day,
that should nearly be enough.

They should then

be allowed to enjoy their own freedom, to run about and use their eyes, their limbs, and their
lungs,

and to learn what

their parents

and Mother

Nature herself can teach them.

You need have
himself,

no anxiety about your

son.

Leave him to

and he
and
you."
if

will

develop his talents in his
is

own way,

he

spared he will yet be a credit to

The
years

master's prophecy was
afterwards,

fulfilled.
"

Twenty
of

a lecture

on

The Poetry

THE BO Y HERETIC.
Science
"

239

was given

in

Sandyriggs.

The

lecturer

was the eminent
from Canada
;

professor,

Dr William Torrance,
was that very

and the

lecture-hall

church where he had been denounced as a
Heretic.

Boy

HOW THE DEACON BECAME AN
ABSTAINER.
ABOUT
burgh,
sixty years ago a stranger arrived in the

who

at

once attracted notice.
;

His name
but every-

was Mitchell Roper, wholesale brazier
one called him
so,
"

The Deacon." Why he was called nobody knew and, indeed, nobody inquired,
;

for

it

was

felt

that such a special

man

required a

special

title.

The
fortune.

truth

is

that

it

was

his face

which at once
his

struck public attention.

His face was really
I

What
by

his character was,
it

cannot describe

better than
able.

saying, that
all

was ineffably respectall
it.

Not only

the ten

commandments, but

the Christian doctrines, seemed to be written on

As a natural result, there came very soon to be a demand for it. Those who were getting up a public meeting said to him, " You must give us At every public gathering, your countenance."
therefore,
it

was seen

in

a prominent place, like

THE DEACON AN ABSTAINER.
the
full

241

harvest

moon

in the sky, or rather (to

be

more

correct) like

one of

his

own copper

kettles

on a farmer's kitchen
strength of
it,

wall.

And on

the

mere

and

for

no other reason, the Deacon

was made,

in a

very short time, a

member
last

of the

parochial board, a town councillor, and an elder
in

the

parish

church.

In

this

capacity
it

especially, his influence

was potent.

Whenever

was

his turn to stand at the plate, the collection
;

was nearly double
religious visage

for

when such

a sublimely

was regarding them, the members
in the regulation halfpenny.

were ashamed to put

At

funerals, too, his presence lent solemnity.

The

very

way

in

which he partook of the wine that

was handed round, gave the company the impression, that

he was paying a tribute of respect to

the deceased and showing his
survivors.

sympathy with the

In spite of his popularity, the Deacon, like every
other great man, was modest and conciliatory.

He

had a good word to say about
in

all,

especially those
sir,"

high places.

"An

excellent man,

was the

comment which he
these was
position

invariably passed

when one of
influential

mentioned.

With him an
:

was

like charity

it

covered a multitude
to the

of

sins.

He was

particularly obsequious

242

THE QUEER FOLK OF
Mr
as

FIFE.

minister of the parish,

Patullo, for he regarded

him

the local

representative of Church and
institutions generally.
institution (if

State,

and national

There was one national
be allowed to
call it so)

we may

which the Deacon assidu-

ously kept up, namely, the practice of closing the
labours of the day with a tumbler of toddy.
evening,

Every
family

punctually at

ten,

as

soon

as

worship was over and the Bibles were removed,
the servant lassie, Eesie, put

down on

the table

whisky, sugar, and hot water.

This operation was

gone about

in

such a serious way, that a stranger
it

might have fancied that
rite

was another

religious

which was about to be performed.

And

if

we may judge from the grave manner in which he proceeded to mix the elements, the Deacon evidently thought so too. His wife, indeed, who
had not the same reverence
for

her great husband

as the outside world had, tried to limit his allow-

ance of

spirits

to "

one glass and an

eke!'

But,

as he whispered to himself, he

was a sound Whig

and could not abide any but Liberal measures.
Accordingly, as soon as her back was turned, he

dexterously tilted up the bottle and swelled the
quantity of spirits
;

and

if

she chanced to remark

that the colour of the toddy was stronger than

THE DEACON AN ABSTAINER.
usual,
"

243

he would asseverate in his gravest manner,
y

only one and an eke
it

my

dear."

He
To
his

did

not

think
in
it

necessary to explain that they differed
of the word
eke.

their notions

her mind

meant merely half a

glass,

to

mind

an

addition

ad
!

libitum.

A

wonderfully accommodat-

ing term
In

fact,

the

Deacon belonged

to the old school

of worthies

commemorated by Lord
as

Cockburn

and Dean Ramsay, who practised drinking as a
virtue,

and who considered whisky
life,

an indis-

pensable necessary of

—a

salve for the body,
for the

a balm for the heart, a
solder of friendship, a

clarifier

mind, a

good omen
at

at

births

and
In

marriages,

and

a

consolation

funerals.
relic

other words, he was about the last

of those

thorough-going topers
circumstance of
life

who found
a

in

almost every

reason for drinking.
" It

As
is

he was mixing his toddy he would say,
fine old

a

custom,

sir,"

and then

(altering

Shakespeare
'

to

suit his

meaning) he would add,
in

A

custom
in

more honoured
breach."

the observance than

the

He

had heard of a new-fangled

set of

men

called teetotallers,

who condemned

drinking

on any occasion whatever, but he classed them
with those poor creatures

idiots

and savages

244

THE QUEER FOLK OF
not yet

FIFE.
use of
all

who had
was good

come

into

the

the

blessings of civilisation,
for

and did not know what
he think that he

them.

Little did

was destined to become a member of that very

body which he so much despised.

The New Year
called
in

festivities,

or,

as

they were

Scotland, "the daft days," had come.

In Fife, the great day of the feast was Handsel

Monday,
Year's

that

is,

the

Monday
care,

after

old

New

Day.

It
toil

was
and

dedicated

to

complete

relaxation from

and to the kindly

interchange of good wishes and hospitality.

Men

forgot for a time that they were rivals struggling
for

existence,

and

remembered only that they
off the

were Christians.

They threw

hard armour

of selfishness, and appeared in the guise of charity.

Every mansion, every farm-house was turned
a sort of banqueting
hall,
:

into

and was well supplied

with comforting viands
for the

oatmeal cakes and cheese
loaves,

children,
spirits

and currant

shortbread,
invitations

wine and

for the adults.

No

were sent
welcome.

out, but

everyone was made heartily
a pleasant sight
it

And what

was

to

see the merry, chubby-faced tackety-shoed jockies

and jennies going

their rounds,

—the boys
in

in their

well-darned corduroys, the

girls

their

white

THE DEACON AN ABSTAINER.
daidlies, the infants of a

245

year old hoisted on the
all

backs of their brothers,
hold
the

and

carrying pokes to

quarter cakes

and whangs of cheese,
to

which
town.

they

were

sure

get

at

every farm-

Of

the adults
there

who kept up

these old-fashioned
faithful

festivities,

was none more
at

than the

Deacon.
time, he

For several years,

Handsel Monday
travel ten miles

had been accustomed to

into the country, starting

on Sunday at mid-day,
His osten-

and returning on Tuesday forenoon.
sible

purpose was to eat his Handsel

Monday
another

dinner with one friend,

and

his

Mr Stark Monday supper Handsel
Piper of Hallyetts
;

of Kingswell,

with

friend,
it

Mr

but he also
at

made

his business to call

by the way

many
to

houses,

both public and private.

Some

irreverent

wag

compared him on these occasions
but he

a

Dutch

lugger, putting in at every available port for the

purpose of victualling

;

felt

himself to be

a sort of missionary going forth to promote goodwill

and good-fellowship among men.

Sociality,

he held, was a virtue which ought to be encouraged
for the

sake of the dispenser as well as of the
" It
is

receiver.

twice blessed

:

it

blesseth

him

that gives,

and him that

takes."

246

THE QUEER FOLK OF
the

FIFE.

On
refers,

the particular occasion to which this story

Deacon
Slater.

was

accompanied

by

his

nephew,

Sam

As they

set out after fore-

noon service on a sombre Sunday, they presented
a striking contrast.
full

The Deacon was
;

stout,

and

and red

in the face

Sam was
dignity
;

little,

and had

a lean and hungry look.

The Deacon was heavy

with a sense of his

own

Sam was

light

and airy as a bird upon the
refreshment by the
to

tree.

The Deacon
the alert

was bent upon taking advantage of every possible

way

;

Sam was on
which
It

mark the solemn
by

excuses

would be

given for this indulgence.
led on

was Bully Bottom

tricksy Puck.
far

They had not gone
process

before

the

refreshing

commenced.

At

the

outskirts

of

the

town,

when they were passing a small change" I

house, the Deacon, giving a shiver, said,
cold
;

feel

prevention

is

better than cure

;

let

us fortify

ourselves against a chill
this accordingly

by a timely dram."
and

And

they did.
after

They had
a steep
hill

travelled four miles,

climbing

they had arrived at Baidlin Toll Inn,
his perspir-

when

the

Deacon stopped, and, wiping

ing forehead, said, "
ourselves with a

We

must go

in here,

and cool

little

of the national beverage."

THE DEACON AN ABSTAINER.
When
twinkle

247

they
in

were

drinking
" It's

it,

Sam, with

a

his

eye, said,
first

strange that
us,

we

should take our

dram

to

warm

and our

second to cool us."
"

No," replied the Deacon, gravely,
;

"

not at

all

strange

good whisky,
It's

sir,

is

a cure for

almost

every complaint.
friend that
fits

a sympathetic, comforting

fits

into all our wants.
;

Yes

sir

!

it

into

all

our wants

"

and he took a large

gulp,

and smacked
place

his lips.

The next
Cross

of entertainment was at the

Roads, three miles farther on.
to
it,

As they

came up
door
in
is
;

Sam

hurried on and passed the

but the Deacon, telling him to stop, said,

a voice quavering with emotion, "This house
kept,
sir,

by a decent woman, Mrs
It

Dowie,

who
call,

has just lost her husband.

was a sudden
This
is

and

my
in,

heart bleeds for her.

not

a time to forget the widow and the fatherless.

Let us go

and give her our sympathy."

The

sympathy was expressed by quaffing two
to her very

glasses

good

health.

The known house

only other inn on the
at

way was
Bridge,

the well-

Inverarden

near

the

church and manse.
"Surely," said Sam, as they

came up

to the

248
inn, "

THE QUEER FOLK OF
we need not go
in here.

FIFE.
is

This house

not

kept by a widow."

"This house/' said the Deacon, ignoring the
gibe,

"was used by
for

my

honoured father during
for

his journeys

twenty years, and

his

son
his

to pass the door

would imply disapproval of
sir,

conduct.

In these radical times,
paths.
"

we should
he added,
is

not desert the old
rising

Besides,"

into

a

higher tone,

an inn

a public

institution,

sanctioned

by the

magistrates,

and

paying taxes to uphold the Church and State.

As
it."

loyal

subjects of the King,

we must support
by what they

So

in

they went, and,

fortified

imbibed, were able to reach Kingswell, an oldfashioned farm-house surrounded by ancient trees.

That evening the Deacon, with
personality,
fairly

his impressive

took possession of the house

and

its

inmates.

At

tea

his

face,

under

the

influence of buttered toast, scones, savoury ham,

and new-laid eggs,
self- feeding

literally

shone

like a

lamp,
in

and

self-adjusting.

Then, seated
fire,

the farmer's easy chair beside the

he directed

the conversation to famous preachers, as a subject

appropriate

for

the

evening

;

and

when

one

minister after another was mentioned, he signified

THE DEACON AN ABSTAINER.
his approval of each

249

by saying,
or, "

"

A

workman

not

needing to be ashamed,"
temple."

A polished

shaft in the

There was, perhaps, a want of variety
they were
uttered

about these judgments, but
with such an
perfectly
air

of

wisdom

that they appeared

conclusive.

At

nine

he

"took

the

Books," and conducted family worship in a manner

which

satisfied

everybody.

The
u

servant, Kirstie

Clash, whispered to
that deacon
o'

Sam,

He's a wonderfu'
has eneuch
o'

man
haill

yours.

He

unction
a

and

Presbytery."

command o' Scripter to And when he retired
of
a

sair

for the night,
it

after partaking of a liberal

tumbler,

was with
no
duty

the

air

man

that

had

left

unperformed.

Next day was one
gleams that sometimes
of
winter,
like

of those mild
fall

and sunny
landscape

on the
of

sterile

the

memory
like

some youthful

pleasure on the face of an old man.
rose in the

The Deacon

morning

a giant refreshed, and

with a giant's appetite.
After a breakfast of
fowl,

he said to his

ham and eggs and cold host, Mr Stark, " By the by,
at

you

have
I

a

new neighbour
call
?

Myreside,

Mr

Potter.
"

should like to

upon him."
asked

Do you know Mr

Potter

"

Mr

Stark.

250

THE QUEER FOLK OF my
!

FIFE.
is

"Not
"

exactly," replied the Deacon, " but he
friend, Councillor
"

a relative of

Tawse."

Your

friend
;

exclaimed

Sam

Slater, in a tone

of

surprise

"

why, Councillor

Tawse

is

your

greatest enemy."
" "
it

Municipally, but not socially," said the Deacon.
disagree at the council board, but
at

We
up

we make

the

festive

board

;

and even although
not, especially at
?

he were

my

enemy, should we

this season, return

good

for evil

There

was no gainsaying
so the

this

high

religious

reasoning, and
his host

Deacon, accompanied by
at

and Sam, called

Myreside

;

and there
currant
like

they were entertained
loaf,

with

shortbread,

and whisky

;

and there the Deacon,

a

well-oiled

machine, performed the
health
it

conventional
to

task

of wishing

and

prosperity

the

household.

But

was

at the dinner,

which took

place at mid-day at Kingswell, where the great

man came
turkey

out in

his

full

strength.
soul

After the

and

plum-pudding, his
in

seemed to
expression.

melt and flow forth

benevolent
toast,

He

proposed toast after
after sentiment,

he uttered senti-

ment

he christened each toast and

sentiment with a liberal libation of toddy, and he
got into such a
full

flow of sociality that

it

was

THE DEACON AN ABSTAINER.
a difficult task to stop him.

251

At

last,

when

the

gloaming was coming on,
said that they
to

Sam

started

up and

must

set out at once.

They were
road,

return
all

homewards by a

different

and
Piper

stay

night with a hospitable friend,

Mr

of Hallyetts,
their journey.

who

lived at a village half

way on
Stark

After a most impressive farewell to

Mr

and

his family, the

Deacon took Sam's arm, and

proceeded on his way.
so tightly

He had
;

been wound up

by the

festivities

of the day that he

was not yet nearly run down
on,

and as he went

he descanted warmly upon the hospitalities
virtues

and

of the people they had
in his

left.

And

when Sam,
to

own mischievous mood, began
and
to

sneer
the

at

toast-drinking,

wonder

how
effect

swallowing

of liquor could have any

upon the health and prosperity of other
the

people,

Deacon

grew

red

with

righteous

indignation.
"

Sam," he explained,

" I
sir,

am

astonished at your

ignorance.

The

Bible,

says that wine maketh In other words,
it

glad the heart of man.

fills

the heart with kindly social feeling.

This feeling

finds its legitimate outlet in kind wishes

towards

our fellow-men

;

and what are kind wishes but

252

THE QUEER FOLK OF
;

FIFE.
sir,

prayers

and are you such an unbeliever,
have no effect?"

as

to hold that prayers

There was only one public-house by the way
nounced by the Deacon to be
he told

;

and the whisky which they got there was prodisgraceful.

But

Sam

to cheer

up, for

they would soon

be at a house
comfort.

where

they

would

have

every

And
his
his

then he went off into a eulogy
"

on
sir,

his friend

Piper.
is

He

is

a good Samaritan,
;

and
for

home

a perfect haven of rest
it's

and

as

whisky,

the

balm

of

Gilead,

soothing the wounds of both soul and body."
But, alas for

human

expectations

!

When

they

arrived at Hallyetts,

and were welcomed warmly
their family,

by Mr and Mrs Piper and
they

and when

had

been

ushered

into

the

dining-room

where the table was
stood aghast.

laid for supper, the

Deacon

So stands
to

the country gentleman

when he
and

steps

out of his
see

mansion on a
nothing
but

May

morning expecting
warmth, and

beauty

finds

the

landscape under a
the

sheet of chilling snow.

Instead of
that were

warm,
to

heart-cheering decanters
there, the

wont

be

Deacon beheld nothing but

cauldrife

bottles

of soda water.
?

Was
it

it

possible?
!

Was
The

he not mistaken

No,

was too true

THE DEACON AN ABSTAINER.
gone

253

well-remembered, much-comforting Glenlivet was
!

He

sank speechless into a

chair.

He
alarm
ill.

turned red and then white.

His friends
if

in

gathered round him, asking him

he were
for

He
sake
"

could only whisper,
!

"Brandy,

heaven's

I'm very sorry," said

Mr

Piper, " but

we have
Did

not a drop of spirits or wine in the house.

you not hear that we have become abstainers?
I

thought that

all

our friends had heard

it."

The Deacon could only answer with
"

a look,—

a look of pity not unmingled with contempt.

The

fact

is,"

continued

Mr

Piper, "

we were
Venters,
his

so appalled
r

when our

cousin, poor

Ned

w hile under the influence of drink,
wife, that
"

murdered

we took

the pledge at once."

Your

cousin's vile disposition," said the Deacon,

in feeble tones, "

was the cause of the crime,
it

—not

the drink, unless
can't

was bad.
a

Good sound whisky
It

make

a

man

murderer.

makes him

more amiable."

"As

Christians," said
to

Mr

Piper,

"we

felt

that

we were bound

give

up strong

drink, which

causes our brother to

err."

"As
feebly,

Christians,"

retorted

the
to

Deacon,
celebrate

still

"we

are

commanded

the

254

THE QUEER FOLK OF
and
while

FIFE.
the

communion,

celebrating

com-

munion, we are commanded to drink wine.
appeal to Christianity won't hold water."

Your
"have

"Come, come, Deacon,"
a cup of
tea.
It

said

Mr

Piper,

will

do you more good than
go to bed and
you'll

brandy, and then

you'll

be

all

right in the morning."

"No
I

bed
to

for

me,"
to

murmured
sleep

the Deacon.
in
in

"If

was

try

here

my

present

condition, there

would be a corp
I'll

your house

before
we'll

morning.

go

home.

Come,

Sam,

find

the needed medicine in
the wayside."

some humble
saying,

change-house by

So

the

Deacon
(it

rose,

got his hat, and in a dignified, but

must be confessed) rather a staggery manner,

went out of the house, closely followed by Sam.

Next
feeling

morning
that
his

the
in

Deacon awoke with

the

he was
eyes,

unknown
saw
a
"

quarters.

He
in

opened
strange
flashed

and
For

that

he was
the
this

a

room.

moment
Can
well-known

thought

through his brain,
sight

be

me ?
plight,

But

the

of

his

pantaloons

lying on a chair, and in a rather
restored
his

muddy

consciousness of

personal

identity.

He
saw

rose

and

looked

out at the window, but
a

nothing

except

few

outhouses

and

a

THE DEACON AN ABSTAINER.
strip

255

of

garden,

all

of

which were

unfamiliar.

He
of

dressed himself hastily, and opened the door
the

room, but found

himself

in

a passage

where there was no sight or sound of anybody.

He

crept quietly along, and finding a
it.

room door
in
it.

open, entered

There was no one
parlour, bright
in

It

was evidently a
with a clear
covered
fire

and comfortable,

the grate, and with the walls
pictures

with

numerous
this

and sketches.
It

And what was
he
believe
it

paper on the table?

was

a sketch of a figure.
his

He
?

took
!

it

up

;

and, could

eyes
it

Yes

rough

and

hasty

though

was,

was a representation of himself

in a state of stupor

—hair dishevelled, eyes
distorted,
it

swollen

and
"

closed, features
;

mouth open, jaw
was written
be the countenance

hanging down

and underneath
Could
this

A

Drunken

Sot."

of which he was so proud, and which, his admirers
said,

was the embodiment of respectability
it,

?

As

he looked at

he

felt

that his
fell

good name was
drops from his
?

gone, and the perspiration
forehead.

in

What enemy
still

could have done this

He was

wondering, when steps were heard
just time to

approaching, and he had
the picture,

push away

when

there stood in the
at

doorway the

very

last

man whom

that

moment he would

256

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.
Patullo.

have wished to see
this

—the

Rev.
in

Mr
an

And
give.

gentleman

behaved

extraordinary-

manner.

Not a smile of recognition did he
utter.

Not a word did he

He

merely sat down

and gazed sorrowfully on the Deacon.
ings were evidently too

His

feel-

strong for words.
It
felt

The

silence continued for about a minute.

was an
that he

awful

minute

for the
;

Deacon.

He
it

ought to speak
till

but he

really could not
;

do

it

he knew where he was

and

would be a
"
I ?

most humiliating question

to ask, "

Where am

At

last the minister

broke the oppressive

silence.

In that slow, deep, and funereal tone for which he

was famous, he repeated again and again

word

just

one

"

Lost

!

Lost

!

Lost

"
!

and then stopped.
his,

This was a favourite method of

which he

often used at the beginning of his

sermon, and

which

at

once riveted and solemnised his con-

gregation.

And

on

this

occasion

it

sounded

in

the Deacon's ears like the voice of
after

Doom.
:

Then

an awful pause, the minister continued
is

"This

terrible,

Mr

Roper, terrible for me,
for

and

still

more

terrible

you.

I

came here

yesterday to dine and
friend,

stay the
artist.

night with

my

Mr

Virtue,

the

We

were sitting

at supper,

when

intelligence arrived that a gentle-

THE DEACON AN ABSTAINER.
man
of respectable appearance had dropped
roadside,

257

down
with

by the

and

that his friend

who was

him was unable
brought
horror
friend
in,

to take

him any

farther.

He was

and you may imagine what was
I

when

found that the gentleman was
elder,

my my
as
I

and chief
I

and that he was

in a plight

which

can't trust
this

must bring
"

— matter before the Kirk Session
you surely
will

myself to describe.

Now,

Oh

!

Mr

Patullo,

never

do

that."
" I

must.
if
I

I

would be quite unworthy of
not do
it.

my
You
But

place

did

If

it

were not your
that.

own
Flett,

case,

you yourself would advise

remember how severe you were upon poor Willie
before

who was up before us I make up my mind

last

month.
I

definitely,

shall

listen to

any explanation you have

to give."

The Deacon,

fortunately for himself, had long

cultivated the faculty of putting the best face

on

every matter, and this faculty
in

now
he

served him

good

stead.

So, shaking

Mr

Patullo's hand,
said, "

and wiping a tear from
you,
sir,

his eye,

Thank
you
I

you

are

acting as
I

my
Sam

best friend, as

you have always done.
frankly the whole

will, therefore, tell

matter.

Slater

and

were keeping our Handsel

Monday

at Kingswell.

258
I

THE QUEER FOLK OF
used
the

FIFE.

am

not an abstainer, as you know, and have
gifts

always

of
I

Providence

without

abusing them.

At dinner

had

my

share of the
I

punch, but no more, and when
perfectly well.

we

set out

was

But, unfortunately, at a half-way

house where

whisky was bad.
felt
ill,

we stopped As soon

for

refreshment,
I

the
it,

as

had taken

I

and said so to Sam.
it

It
it
!

before
sick

acted

;

but at length

was some time made me quite
it

and

helpless.

Mr
ill,

Patullo

was poison

and not drink that put
dition
!

me

into such a sad con-

I

was

really

not intoxicated."

Mr
"

Patullo

Would you
"

object to

hummed and hawed, and said, me hearing what Mr Sam
"
?

Slater has got to say

Nothing would

gratify

me

more," said
if

the

Deacon, although he did not look as
gratified.

he were

The

fact

is,

that he

was not sure on
get.

what

line the

whimsical
in

Sam

might

When Sam came
by
the minister, "
in

and was asked point blank
do you account
last

How

for
? "

the
it

state

which
if

Mr Roper was

night

seemed as
it.

he were going to put his foot into
said, "

Blushing and hesitating he

Well

!

really

I

could not undertake to say."

But when the

minister asked

him

if

they got anything at the

THE DEACON AN ABSTAINER.
he saw what cue he was to take.
"

259

roadside public-house which disagreed with them,

Ah

!

yes,"

he

said,

brightening up,

"

I

rememafter

ber

now
bad

— the
it,

bad whisky.
that
first
I

The Deacon,
atrocious.
It

drinking

said
at

it
;

was

had
in

no

effect

but when
that

we were
the

Mr

Piper's

house,

noticed

Deacon

turned as white as a sheet, and
out into the open
air,

when we came
Yes,

he became so sick that he
the wayside.
it

had to

sit

down by

must

have been the adulterated drink that
him."
"

poisoned
"
?

But how was

it

that

you were not poisoned
"

asked the minister.
"
I

For the simple reason," answered Sam,

that

merely put the stuff to

my

lips

and did not take

off
"

my

glass."

Well," said

the

minister,

after

some anxious
I

consideration, "as a Christian pastor

must take

the most charitable view

;

and even as a humane
is

man,

I

must, where there

a doubt, give the
I

accused the benefit of a doubt.
agree to

therefore will

make no charge
such

against you.
to

But you
yourself

must take means instantly
ever falling into
again."

prevent

suspicious

circumstances

260
"
"

THE QUEER FOLK OF

FIFE.

How
By

can

I

do that ?

"

asked the Deacon.

taking the pledge," replied the minister

"

not publicly

—just

now
but

at least, that

might rouse
myself.
I

people's
shall
will

suspicion,

privately

to

draw up a paper here to-day, which you
sign,

and to which
as a witness.

Mr
I

Slater will

append

his

name

shall

then explain to
ill,

the people of the house that you were
intoxicated,

not

and that
the

to prevent the uncharitable

world

putting

worst

construction

on

the

circumstance, they must mention this lamentable

occurrence to nobody."

But the Deacon demurred, and turned
the idea of taking the pledge.

sick at

What

!

he who

had upheld moderate drinking as the right use
of the mercies of Providence, and had branded
total

abstainers

as

casting
into wine

a

reflection

on

Him

who turned water
"

Mr Patullo, however, in Mr Roper, if you could
saw you
last

a resolute voice said,

have seen yourself as

others

night

—but

what

is

this?"
table,
"

He
is

had caught sight of the sketch on the
it

had taken
the

up and was looking

at

it.

This
is

work of Tom, Mr Virtue's
was too bad of him

son.

He

an

art student,

and sketches everybody and everyto take advantage

thing.

It

THE DEACON AN ABSTAINER.
of you in your unfortunate plight

261

But

its

turn-

ing up just now, at this

critical

moment, serves

a good purpose.

It

gives
for

you the power which

Burns so much desired

mankind
me.

—the
Look

power
at
it,

of seeing yourself as others see you.

Mr

Roper, and

listen

to

What happened
own town.

yesterday

may happen
one
that

again in your

You may
like

take a glass too much, and that glass,

the

has
will

made you
be the result

ill,

poison.

And what
your

?

may be You will

appear before your fellow-townsmen, your fellowChristians,

own
ruin

wife,
will

in

this

disgusting

condition.

Your

then be instant and
character

irretrievable.

The
for

high
so

which

you
to

have maintained
pieces
;

many

years will

fall

and from being the respected and admired
a drunken

of Sandyriggs society, you will become, what you
are represented here to be,
'

sot.'

The Deacon shuddered at the prospect thus
held

up

before

him, and
that

seizing

Mr

Patullo's

hands, declared

he was

ready to

sign

a

promise, renouncing drink for ever.

The Deacon was
for,
if

able

to

keep

his

promise;
his

he ever

felt

tempted to stretch forth

hand towards the enchanted cup, the thought of
that horrible sketch appalled

him and quenched

262

THE QUEER FOLK OF
He now
the florid
so

FIFE.
countenance
to

the desire.

gave
;

his
if

every teetotal platform

and

that countenance
at
it

had

lost

complexion which

one
still

time had been

much admired,

yet

beamed with wisdom.
his

He

seldom
expressive

spoke, but

silence

was

far

more

than

his

speech would have been.
attended him.
fine

His usual luck also
pointed out as a
Christian,

He was now
all

specimen of a
given up

self-sacrificing

one

who had
society,

the delights of convivial
favourite,
in

of which

he was a great

order to set an example to his weaker brethren.

THE END.

Printed by

M'Kaklane & ERbKiNE,

Edinburgh..

MORISON BROTHERS' PUBLICATIONS,
FIRST SERIES.
Third and Popular Edition.

The Auld Scotch Sangs.
Arranged and Harmonised by SINCLAIR DUNN.
Containing 96 Scotch Songs with Pianoforte Accompaniments.

Paper Covers,

.

.

2/6
.

I

Cloth

(Gilt Boards),

3/6

I

Leather, Limp (Gilt Edges), 7/6 Silk Clan Tartan, 10/6
.
.

(Special Tartans

bound

to order.)

SECOND

SERIES.

Just Published.

Auld Scotch Sangs and
Paper Covers,

Ballads.

Arranged and Harmonised by SINCLAIR DUNN.
Containing 96 Scotch Songs with Pianoforte Accompaniments.
.
.

.

2/6

I

Leather, Limp (Gilt
Silk Clan Tartan,
bound
IN
to order.)

Edges),
. .

7/6

Cloth

(Gilt Boards),

.

3/6

I

10/6

(Special Tartans

COMPLETE EDITION

ONE VOLUME OF

Auld Scotch Sangs
AND

Anld Scotch Sangs and Ballads.
Arranged and Harmonised by SINCLAIR DUNN.

Containing
192 Scotch

Songs with Pianoforte Accompaniments.

CLOTH

(Gilt Boards), 6/-

LEATHER
(Special

(Limp), 10/6
15/-

SILK CLAN TARTAN, Tartans Bound to Order.)

Complete Illustrated Catalogue Post Free on Application.

Morison Brothers,

52

Renfield Street, Glasgow.

MORISON BROTHERS' PUBLICATIONS.
JUST PUBLISHED.
Fcap. 4to.

Art Linen Illustrated Boards, Gilt Top, with 16 Illustrations, 237 pages.
Price 6/-

SKETCH-BOOK OF THE NORTH.
By
Illustrated

GEORGE EYRE-TODD.
Monro,
S. Reid,

by A. S. Boyd, A.

and
Mr
Todd's

Harrington Mann.
handsome and beautifully illustrated book, worthily preserving graceful and pleasant prose from oblivion."— Scotsman.
"

"A
A

very handsome book." Glasgow Herald. "We cannot imagine a more acceptable gift to an exiled Scot or an artistically inclined Sassenach."— North British Daily Mail. " It would not be too much to say that an Englishman, desiring an intimate knowledge of Scotland and its people, would gain it more readily by reading Mr Eyre-Todd's book than he would by becoming a student of the Kailyard

Academy."— Academy.

"An

" The book is one home in Scotland."

exceptionally delightful book." New Saturday. that is likely to find its way into every patriotic and cultured Scottish Society.

Works of

Scottish

Humour and Pathos.
2s.

By NICHOLAS DICKSON.

NEW EDITION.
an "

Cloth,

Postage, 4|d.

THE ELDER AT THE PLATE
A
Collection of Anecdotes and Incidents relating to Church-door Collections.

One
Vol.

THE KIRK BEADLE.
A
Collection of Anecdotes and Incidents relating to the Minister's Man.

THE AULD SCOTCH MINISTER
anc
j

As sketched

in

Anecdote and Story.

One
Vol.

THE AULD SCOTCH PRECENTOR.
As sketched
in

Anecdote and Story.

Morison Brothers, 52 Renfield Street, Glasgow.

>

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY

BERKELEY DATE THIS BOOK IS DUE ON THE LAST BELOW STAMPED
-r™!^ not returned on time are subject
to a fine of

expiration of loan period.

193V

FEB

Frutdz-

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