Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk

Author(s): Alexander, Mr William


ABOUT A.D. 1843.
With a Glossary.

IN the Preface to the previous editions of this small book
an attempt to indicate its character and scope was made
in these words: —
"The intention of the writer was to portray, as faithfully
as he could, some forms of character not uncommon in the
rural life of Aberdeenshire a quarter of a century ago, at least;
the effort being to make the purely ideal persons introduced
literally true to nature, as it had manifested itself under his
own eyes, or within his own experience, in their habits of
thought and modes of speech.
"Illustrations of real life, mainly of an old-fashioned sort,
and of a local dialect, which is getting gradually pushed into
the background, or divested of some of its more characteristic
forms of expression, have been attempted, rather than anything
in the nature of a formally constructed story."
The only remark that it seems necessary to offer, in addition
to the foregoing sentences, is that the present edition
contains a Glossary for the benefit of English readers and
others unacquainted with the peculiarities of the Aberdeenshire
dialect. To what extent aid is to be expected from
the Glossary will be found more fully stated in a Note prefixed
Free Press Office,
Aberdeen, June, 1873.
V. LIFE AT THE WELLS,....... 30
IX. PEDAGOGICAL,........ 53
XI. THE KIRK ROAD,....... 64
XVI. A START IN LIFE,....... 93
HEELY, heely, Tam, ye glaiket stirk — ye hinna on the
hin shelvin' o' the cairt. Fat hae ye been haiverin
at, min? That cauff saick'll be tint owre the back door afore
we win a mile fae hame. See't yer belly-ban' be ticht aneuch
noo. Woo, lassie! Man, ye been makin' a hantle mair adee
about blaikin that graith o' yours, an' kaimin the mear's tail,
nor balancin' yer cairt, an' gettin' the things packit in till't."
"Sang, that's nae vera easy deen, I can tell ye, wi' sic a
mengyie o' them. Faur'll aw pit the puckle girss to the
"Ou, fat's the eese o' that lang stoups ahin, aw wud like
tae ken? Lay that bit bauk across, an' syne tak' the aul'
pleuch ryn there, an' wup it ticht atween the stays; we canna
hae the beast's maet trachel't amo' their feet. Foo muckle
corn pat ye in?"
"Four lippies — gweed mizzour — will that dee?"
"We'se lat it be deein. Is their trock a' in noo, I
"Nyod, seerly it is."
It was in the latter part of June, 1839, and Johnny Gibb
was preparing to set out on his annual journey to"the Walls
at Macduff." He was, at the moment of the reader's introduction
to him, employed, with the assistance of his servant
man, Tam Meerison, in "yokin' the cairt," preparatory to
starting en route. The time was 4.30 A.M.
Johnny Gibb was the tacksman of Gushetneuk, a two-horse
"haudin," on the property of Sir Simon Frissal of Glensnicker;
and he and his wife had spent the greater part of a
very industrious lifetime on the place.
Mrs. Gibb, in personal appearance, looked to be a woman
somewhere approaching sixty, in an exceedingly good state of
preservation. Dumpy in figure, inclining slightly to obesity
in "condition," and with cheeks of the exact hue of a high-coloured
apple, she was, nevertheless, understood to be "far
fae stoot;" she was, indeed, "nervish," and apt to take
"drows." Hence this yearly resort to the Wells at Macduff,
renowned for their restorative and invigorating virtues, had
come to be a necessity for her. When Johnny Gibb had got
the "neeps doon," he took his carts to the mill-dam, had them
backed into the water, where they were first well soaked and
then scrubbed clean, after the defilement of driving out the
"neap muck." And then one of the first things, ordinarily,
was to prepare for the journey to the Wells.
In the district where Johnny Gibb lived, they believed in
the Wells, old and young of them. Elderly people, male and
female, went to Macduff to benefit by the bracing effects of
sea-bathing, combined with a course more or less rigorous of
sea water taken internally, followed up by the mineral water
of Tarlair; sturdy bairns were taken thither in troops for the
cure of "scabbit faces" and "sic like;" youths and maidens,
whose complaints seemed often not of a deadly nature, went
to the Wells as they could contrive to get; Jamie Hogg went
there for the benefit of his "sair een;" Peter Tough to mitigate
the "rheumatics;" Mains of Yawal, when he had occasion
to "gae doon throu" on business, actually drove his
square wooden-looking gig five miles out of his direct route
in order that he might have the opportunity of merely once
"dookin" at Macduff. He "lows't" the gig and put his horse
in to rest and feed, and I recollect distinctly seeing his tall
gaunt figure in bottle-green surtout, as, despising ceremony,
he strode away straight down from the fisher town, or rather
the ropery, through hillocks of slippery ware and "knablick
stanes" till he found water enough to "dook" in; and a
tedious walk he had, for the tide was out. The modus
operandi of Mains's "dookin" was, that he first laid aside his
hat and the bottle-green surtout, and, by the aid of a good
handful of "sea-ware" scrubbed the upper part of his person.
He then resumed the hat and surtout, and, divesting himself
of the remaining part of his garments, completed the operation
in the like fashion. The farm servants even, were fain to
follow the prevailing custom; and this, their belief, had not
been discouraged by the physician in ordinary, the elder Dr.
Drogemweal. The doctor had a semi-military reputation, inasmuch
as, when the first Bonaparte was disturbing people by
threats of invading our Island and so on, the doctor had been
attached to the local militia; and he was wont to accompany
the "fencibles" to Fraserburgh at the time of their annual drill.
It was related of him how he would make the delinquent
soldier drink a quart-bottle of sea water by way of punishment,
believing that, while the thing had a penal effect, it also
conserved the man's constitution. To his latest day, when a
"chap" went to him for advice, he would prescribe "twa
unce o' salts," and, if the case were grave, would take out his
"lance" and bleed him; winding up by a general exhortation
to go to the Wells the first opportunity. And thus, in the
very year before that of which I am about to write, when
Johnny Gibb went over to Pitmachie to "fee" a man, he encountered
a "stoot young folla," from the Upper Garioch,
who would suit his purpose admirably well, but was determined
to have "sax poun' ten" of fee. Johnny offered "sax
poun'" and a shilling of "arles," after much "threepin," as
his ultimatum. They "tuggit an' ruggit" to no purpose, till
at last a compromise was reached, and the bargain concluded,
on the "chap" throwing in this stipulation, "Weel, weel,
than, aw'll tak' the siller; but ye maun gi'e's an ouk at the
Walls aifter the neep seed."
Such was the repute of the Wells at Macduff in my day,
but that is long ago; and to me the modern Macduff is a
place all but totally unknown.
"Come awa', noo; come awa', an' nae loss the mornin',"
continued Johnny Gibb, in an impatient tone — patience was
not Johnny's prime virtue, — when he had satisfied himself that
the cart was properly packed and adjusted. His words were
addressed, in the first place, to Mrs. Gibb, who had been
"hoverin" between the door and the kitchen for some time,
one part of her thoughts resting on Johnny and the cart, and
another on Jinse Deans, the servant girl, to whom she continued
still to address another and another exhortation, to be
sure "an' plot 'er milk dishes weel, in this byous weather;
an' get the kye pitten oot ear'," so that they might "get a
caller mou'fu', an' win in afore they ran aheat;" to see that
"the caufies warna negleckit," and give due heed to sundry
other matters that concerned the proper ongoing of the place
during the absence of its mistress.
Mrs. Gibb was dressed in a home-made grey wincey
gown, a very precisely made up and very well starched close
"mutch" (they were old-fashioned people the Gibbs), and a
tartan plaid that had been in the family for at least a generation.
She was assisted into the cart with due ceremony, and
with the help of a chair — Jinse, the trusty, bareheaded, bare-armed
maid, handing up after her a reticule basket, crammed
with provisions for consumption on the way, and a big blue
"Faur's the lassie noo?" quoth Johnny.
"Ou, I gart 'er rin roun' the neuk o' the wood a filie syne, to
Smiddyward, to see 'at Eppie was up, an' nae keep's wytin."
"That'll dee. Go on, Jess," and Johnny pulled the whip
from the britchen as he spoke. "Ye may be luikin for me
hame afore sindoon the morn's nicht."
"Weel, weel, tak' care o' yersel's," replied Tam Meerison,
as he turned leisurely away to complete his stable operations,
and "tie his points," before he and the servant "loon," who
was not yet out of bed, should call on Jinse for their "pottage."
I have not yet described Johnny Gibb's personal appearance,
and, if the reader in the least cares to know, let me say
that he was a short, thick-set man, or "mannie" rather, with
broad, sun-tanned countenance, whereof the shaggy eyebrows,
and somewhat large, but well-set mouth, were not the least
prominent features. He was slightly bow-legged, which rather
added to the stability of his appearance; his dress was blue
home-spun, crowned with a blue bonnet, for though Johnny
was not a man who would altogether ignore the deference
due to the conventionalities of society, he averred that "that
hats is a perfect mertyreesin to the heid, oonless them 't 's
wearin' them daily day." And so it came to pass that, except
on the occasion of a funeral, or the Communion Sunday,
Johnny's hat was seldom to be seen. And my private opinion is
that, even on these occasions, it had been better left in its
usual limbo. It was such an uncouthly shaped, brown, and
hairy structure, that Johnny was hardly recognisable under it;
he certainly looked much better and more "gatefarrin" in his
blue bonnet.
As Johnny strode stoutly on alongside of his bonny bay
mare, Jess, "ilka blade o' grass" tipped with its "air drap o'
dew," and the "orient sun" just beginning to struggle through
masses of grey cloud, and to gild the tree tops with occasional
glimpses of his face, while the lark poured forth his song
overhead in streams of rich melody, and a stray hare now and
then hirpled up the dykeside — the scene was, undoubtedly,
one fresh enough, and lovely enough to stir the blood of any
but the most mouldy and ungrateful of human beings.
Round the corner of the wood from Gushetneuk, and a
little beyond where a trotting burnie came down the hollow,
there stood a small hamlet, consisting of about half-a-dozen
unpretending edifices, scattered here and there, and including
the smith's and shoemaker's places of abode and workshops,
with an old-fashioned "toon loan" fringed by a few large ash
and plane-trees. At the top of the loan there was a very
rustic-looking schoolhouse, and one or two small "rapethackit"
cottages. This was Smiddyward. By the road side
here, there stood waiting the arrival of the cart, Eppie Will,
"a widow 'oman," and friend of Mrs. Gibb, her only son,
Jock, a "fite heidet" youth of fourteen or thereby, tender eyed,
with a bandage round his head longitudinally, and tightly
encased from head to foot in a suit of grey moleskin, garnished
with abundance of brass buttons. With them stood a
girl of about Jock's age, dressed almost as quaintly as Jock,
though, with feminine tact, she had set off her primitive gingham
frock for the occasion with a fresh nosegay pinned in the
front. In point of physical features, too, she had the advantage
of him; in contrast to Jock's rather flabby face and
sheepish look, "the lassie," as Johnny and Mrs. Gibb invariably
called her, had a face which, though somewhat high
in point of colour, possessed that regularity of feature, and
pleasantness of contour, which, in a different rank of life,
would have been held to give promise of ultimately maturing
into unmistakable womanly beauty. "The lassie," whose
name was Mary Howie, was the niece of Mrs. Gibb; and
being the daughter of parents whose poverty, if not their
wills, could very well consent to spare her, she had become,
in a sort, the adopted child of the Gibbs, who had no family
of their own.
Johnny Gibb stopped Jess, got the whole "hypothec" into
the cart; and then, mounting the "forebreist" himself, started
again, fairly under way for the Wells.
IF need were, I could describe the entire course of the
journey from Gushetneuk to the Wells at Macduff.
But perhaps to do so would be an undue trifling with a busy
public, whose manner of travelling, for health and pleasure,
as well as for business, is so different now. The "railway
system" had not penetrated to Aberdeen even, then. Long
strings of carrier's carts jogging on night and day, each with
its creel atop, and here and there a jolly carrier lying in the
same half or wholly asleep, and, perhaps, a more watchful
mastiff under the axletree — these did the heavy and slow part
of the business; and then there was the mail coach, and the
rattling "Defiance," and now and again such a vehicle as the
"Tallyho," for speedy conveyance of passengers, at the average
rate of eight miles an hour, stoppages not always included;
also the "Flyboat," or "Swift Gig Boat," plying on
the Aberdeenshire Canal, whose sideway draught, to the unfortunate
horses that ran on the bank, with a "laddie" rider,
dexterously "joukin" inward and downward at every villainously
low bridge under which they went, was the extreme of
cruelty to animals.
These things are not only obsolete, but almost completely
forgotten, and the idlest, laziest man in the shire grumbles
loudly at the unconscionably slow rate of those trains that do
not run faster than twenty miles an hour.
Such is the progress of the human race; not to speak of
the electric telegraph which threatens to land us in a material
millennium before we have had time to abrogate the Ten Commandments,
and do whatever else advanced minds may think
needful to getting our moral equilibrium steadied at a point
commensurate with the advance of natural science.
However, I must return to Johnny Gibb, who, in taking a
"near cut" at the outset, had guided his cart and its freight
through one or two "yetts," the bars of which he took painfully
out, and put as painfully in again, and after gaining the
high road, had received the salutations of sundry servant lads,
early out on their way to the peat moss, from which they were
already returning with loaded carts. By-and-by, the "voyagers"
had passed out of "kent bounds" — bounds "kent" to
the junior passengers, that is to say, for to Johnny Gibb the
whole way was as familiar as his "oxter pouch;" and great
was the delight of the lassie and Jock Will, as the scene
changed and changed, and first one gentleman's seat, and
then another, came in view. And Johnny would tell the
names of these, and. in sententious phrase, give a brief sketch
of the owners.
"Ay, ay, the fader o' 'im was a lang-heidit schaimin
carle, an' weel fells the sin for that," was the remark in one
case, and in the next, "A braw hoose that, isnint? But, an'
ilka ane had their nain, I wudna say nor the laird wud hae to
forhoo 's bit bonny nest."
"Eh, sirs: sic a weary wardle," said Eppie Will. "Fa
cud 'a thocht it?"
"The tae half o' oor lairds is owre the lugs in a bag o' debt.
I wud hae them roupit oot at the door, and set to some eesefu
"Na, sirs," ejaculated Eppie; and Mrs. Gibb put in a deprecatory
"Hoot man!"
"Stechin up a kwintra side wi' them, wi' their peer stinkin'
pride," pursued Johnny, "an' them nedder able to manage
their awcres themsel's, nor can get ither fowk that can dee 't
for them. Ye're luikin, Jock; gin ever ye be a factor, loon,
see an' leern the eese o' the grun, an' keep baith laird an'
tenan' straucht i' the theets."
"Eh, John Gibb; for shame to the laddie," quoth Eppie
Will. Jock himself gave a soft laugh, looked askance, and
rubbed the chaff sack with the palm of his hand.
And thus they moved on mile after mile.
"Gi'e the bairns a bit piece noo, 'oman," continued Johnny,
changing the theme, when they had journeyed for a matter of
three hours; "the like o' them 's aye yap, an' it'll be twall
o'clock ere we win doon to Turra to lowse."
"Hear ye that noo, Eppie?" said Mrs. Gibb, affecting the
jocular. "That's to lat 'imsel' get a gnap no!"
"Aweel, sae be 't. It's an ill servan' 't's nae worth's maet.
Here's a bit coblie o' fine clear caller water; we'll gi'e the
beast a drink, an' lat 'er get a mou'fu' o' girss till we see fat's
i' that bit basketie."
And so Jess was set to the grassy bank, with a wisp of
half-dried hay strewn before her, and the "bearin' reins"
thrown loose. Mrs. Gibb produced an abundant store of
cakes and butter ready spread, and the cakes placed face to
face, with several "kneevlicks" of tempting blue cheese. The
party regaled themselves sumptuously on their wholesome
fare, and drank of the caller water to which "Jess" had been
And, verily, he hath but an imperfect acquaintance with
the true philosophy of locomotion, who shall affect to sneer
at the mode in which Johnny Gibb and his charge journeyed.
Grant but fitting company, favourable weather, a fair allowance
of fresh straw, and the art of man hath not yet devised
a more rational and truly enjoyable method of "voyaging" by
land than by the use of a common cart, drawn by a willing
and intelligent cart horse. Of this truth all practised visitors
to the Wells had an intuitive perception; if reliance on it was
not, indeed, essential to the integrity of their belief in the entire
institution. And how well they could furnish out the cart
for the comfortable accommodation and sustenance of those
who journeyed therein! Time would fail me to speak of the
compendious outfit they could stow away within and about
the vehicle. I recollect well seeing one arrival of a large
family, the head of which had "boxed up" the sides of his
cart with rough boards till he had achieved a kind of two
storeys, the ground floor containing sundry kitchen utensils,
and the upper one the live passengers; and he had actually
built in a fixed stair in the hind part of the cart! But this
was an extreme experiment, and the usual mode was simply
to pack well on the basis of the cart itself.
Resuming their journey, the party plodded on through
the romantic den of Gask, and down on the handsome little
town of Turriff, with its bleachfield along the quiet burn side,
and its common herd, who "touted" his horn as he wended
along and gradually gathered out the town's kine to feed on
the pleasant haughs adjoining.
At Turriff, Johnny "lows't" the mare, and put up for refreshment
at the Black Bull Inn, where he and the hostler
discussed a gill of the national liquor, very amicably, between
them. As the "gentlest" drink for the ladies, he called a
bottle of "mulled" porter: and, leaving them to sip and sip
of the same in the little back parlour of the Inn, with its
sanded floor and crockery-shop statuary, he sallied forth to
exhibit the lions of the place to the youngsters, not omitting
to point out to them the "Toon's Hoose;" and the "Cross,"
the geographical position of which he took care to explain, as
equally distant from Aberdeen and Elgin. As saith the
popular distich —
"Choose ye, choise ye, at the Cross o' Turra,
Either gang to Aberdeen, or Elgin o' Moray."
That was a delightsome road down by Knockiemill, and
along the pleasant banks of the Deveron, in full view of Forglen
House, Denlugas, and so forth. This Johnny Gibb
knew, and he preferred it to "the toll road" accordingly. I
do not know that he escaped a toll by adopting this route,
for there was a passport system in force in those days, whereby
the man who went through the Turriff bar was armed with
a ticket that gave him the privilege of passing the next bar
without pecuniary mulct. However that may be, the waterside
road was chosen as the more picturesque — a most legitimate
consideration surely with those who travelled for health
and pleasure. Up they came again near by Eden, along the
turnpike road for some miles, and again diverging to the
right, on Johnny and his cart went under the westering sun,
till the hill-top was reached; when, lo! there lay before them
the calm blue sea, with slight ripples of white here and there,
and here and there on its bosom a brave schooner scudding
along the Firth, with fully spread canvas, or a boat, with
brown sail newly hoisted, speeding away from the harbour
mouth; wherein lay sundry craft, the top-masts of which were
fully visible as the eye wandered inward over the irregular
field of red-tiled roofs, and settled on the vista afforded by
the long steep street leading down to the shore.
"Eh, that's the sea!" exclaimed the lassie in a rapture of
"Is 't the sea, mither?" said Jock, not quite assured. "It's
surely nae that colour?"
"'Deed an' it's jist the saut sea, whaur mony ane's gotten
a watery shrood."
"Divnin ye see the ships sailin' on 't?" said the lassie.
"Weel, they're nae vera muckle anes," replied Jock.
"But they're mavbe hyne awa'."
"Ho! but a muckle ship sud hae three masts," said Jock,
desirous of vindicating his nautical knowledge, "an' nane o'
that has mair nor twa."
"Will we get a sail on 't?" was the lassie's next question.
"'Serves, lassie, ye little ken fat ye're speakin' o'. Lat
alane the fear o' the boat coupin an' you gyaun to the boddom
o' the sea, ye wud seen be as deid 's a door nail wi' sea-sickness."
And Mrs. Gibb, as a warning to the young people to
beware of trusting themselves on the bosom of the heaving
deep, related how, long ago, when Johnny and she were
young, and Johnny headstrong and reckless, he would have
himself and his wife conveyed from Macduff to Banff by
water; and what of peril and fright the voyage involved, the
boat rising up and down on its very ends, and leaning over
till the spray actually "skirpit" her face, while, to crown all,
the monster of a skipper sat coolly at his helm laughing at her
As this crack went on in the cart, Johnny stumped along
by Jess's head, scanning the countenances of those he met, in
search of any stray "kent face." By-and-by his eye caught
a formal inscription, in the usual street-corner style, "Duff
Street." "Fat whigmaleerie's this noo?" quoth Johnny.
"The fouk o' this place wud ca' their vera tykes aifter the
Yerl o' Fife. This is fat we hed ees't to ca' the 'Main Street'
— Duff Street; fat sorra ither."
The explanation was that, since Johnny's last journey to
the Wells, the good people of Macduff had adopted the
modern practice of systematically naming and numbering
their streets. It was then in the region of Market Street, I
do not say that it was in that particular thoroughfare itself,
that Johnny found a lodging-house for his charge. Their
landlord was Donald M'Craw, a blind old pensioner, who had
followed the gallant Abercromby into Egypt, and whose industrious
helpmeet occupied her leisure time in keeping a
dame's school in the kitchen of their habitation. And while
she energetically pursued her pedagogical duties among her
noisy charge, the blind Donald was wont to sit in his arm
chair in the corner, a not uninterested listener to what was
going on, and always ready at an emergency to come in full
shout with his military word of command to enforce obedience
or silence, as the case might be.
TAM MEERISON had been servant to. Johnny Gibb only
from the term of Whitsunday, that is to say, for about
three weeks previous to the date of which I have been writing.
He was a stout fellow of six or seven and twenty, with
a broad, good-natured face, and straggling, but very promising
whiskers of light complexion fringing his cheeks. On
his head he wore a sort of nondescript blue bonnet, and going
downward on his person you found a remarkably substantial
sleeved vest of moleskin and a pair of cord trousers, narrow
at the knees, and spreading somewhat about the ankles, with
about half-a-dozen buttons at bottom overhanging the heavy
"beetikin" on either foot. The servant lass, Jinse Deans, a
sedate-looking, red-haired damsel of fully Tam's age, had
been a resident at Gushetneuk for a couple of twelvemonths
by-gone; and when Johnny had set out for the Wells the
two were master and mistress of the place for the time being.
Tam pursued his work industriously afield through the day,
along with the "orra man," Willy M'Aul, a youth of sixteen
or seventeen, and son of the souter of Smiddyward. When
six o'clock p.m. had come, Tam incontinently "lows't." Then
came supper of kail and kail brose, of which the three partook
in company, amid no little badinage, consisting mainly
of equivocal compliments to Jinse on her housekeeping capabilities,
from Willy M'Aul, or, as he was more commonly designated,
"the loon," who was of that particular character
fitly described as "a roy't nickum." Tam next lighted his
pipe and blew clouds of smoke to the kitchen roof, as he
watched Jinse "washing up" her dishes, an operation which
Jinse invariably performed with an amount of clattering and
noise that made the beholder marvel how it happened that
she did not break at least one half of the crockery as it passed
through her hands. Whether Tam was admiring Jinse's dexterity
and vigour in going through her work or not I cannot
say; I rather think, at any rate, that Jinse was not altogether
unconscious that she was making a considerable display of
these qualities before the new ploughman. At last she had
finished, when, addressing "the loon," she said —
"Gae 'wa', ye haveril, an' fesh hame the kye, till I get them
"An' fat'll aw get for that, Jinse?"
"Gin ye get fat ye deserve, ye winna braig aboot it."
"Wud ye gi'e 's a kiss gin aw war to dee 't?"
"Ye're a bonny ablich to seek a kiss. I 'se rug yer lugs t'
ye gin ye dinna gae this minit."
"Hoot man, ye've nae pluck ava," exclaimed Tam, as "the
loon" retreated towards the door to escape from Jinse, who
had shown a distinct intention of suiting the action to the
word. "Canna ye tak' a grip o' 'er?"
"I wudna advise you to dee that, Tam, or ye'll maybe
fin' 't she's a sauter," replied Willy, as he marched off for
the cows.
Later in the evening, when the cows had been milked,
the calves properly attended to, and the work of the day fully
concluded, Johnny Gibb's three servants were to be seen
loitering about the kitchen door, and talking over the "countra
clatter." Tam, who was seated on the big "beetlin" stone
by the door cheek, had spoken once and again of going to
bed, and had given "the loon" emphatic warning of the expediency
of his immediately seeking repose, as he might depend
on it that he, Tam, would pull him out of the blankets
by the heels if he were not up by five o'clock next morning.
Notwithstanding his urgency with "the loon," Tam himself
did not give any distinct indication of hurrying to bed. But,
as "the loon" failed to "obtemper" his repeated hints, he at
last started to his feet, and went clanking across the causeway
and up the trap stair to the "chaumer" over the stable.
And, while "the loon" proceeded to undress, Tam yawned
once and again portentously. He then, very deliberately,
wound up his watch, and, seating himself on his "kist," began,
by-and-by, to "sowff" over "My love she's but a lassie
yet." When he had got Willy fairly into bed, Tam next rose,
and, under pretence of going to the stable, slipped down the
trap and out by the door, which he quietly locked to make
sure that Willy M'Aul would not follow him. In somewhat
less than two minutes thereafter, Tam Meerison and Jinse
Deans were seated side by side on the "deece" in Johnny
Gibb's kitchen.
I don't know all what Tam Meerison said to Jinse Deans
that summer "gloamin." How should I? The whispers of
lovers are hard to catch. Nor am I able to say how far
Johnny Gibb would have approved of the sort of sederunt
that took place on this occasion, in his absence, between his
servant maid and his servant man. But certain it is that
this was not the first time that Jinse had been wooed in a
similar manner, and in that same place. Not by the same
wooer certainly, for until three weeks ago she had been
utterly unaware that such a man as Tam Meerison existed.
At any rate, if Jinse saw no harm in receiving a little attention
from an additional sweetheart, Tam, evidently, found
her company the reverse of disagreeable. The time fled
swiftly past, as it is wont to do in such circumstances. It
had worn on to twelve o'clock, to one o'clock, and the lonely
corncraik, which had so long kept up its rasping, yet cheery
note, to break the stillness of the summer twilight, had at last
ceased its cry, and gone to sleep. It was still and quiet as
quiet could be, when footsteps were surely heard approaching
the house of Gushetneuk.
"Wheesht!" exclaimed Jinse, in a low whisper. "Fat's
that? — I hear a fit."
"Nonsense," said Tam, "It's some o' the horse i' the park
at the back o' the house."
"It's naething o' the kin'. Here, I say — there's somebody
comin' up the close! In aneth the deece wi' ye this
minit!" whispered Jinse, in great excitement.
Tam felt there was nothing for it but to do as he was bid;
not that he liked the idea of doing it, or that his judgment
was fully convinced of the propriety of the course prescribed,
but he failed in getting up any valid negative to oppose to
Jinse's urgency; and so, giving way to the force of her exhortation,
Tam proceeded to squeeze his inconveniently-bulky
person under the "deece," among a horde of old shoes, dilapidated
brooms, and "sic like," with all the celerity he could
achieve. And he was not a moment too soon, for the head and
shoulders of some person were already dimly discernible at
the front window. The deece stood opposite to this window,
at the back wall. A tap or two on the pane were immediately
heard, followed by a loudly-whispered "Jinse!"
Now, Jinse's position at the moment was a little awkward.
With womanly tact she had remained by the deece to cover
Tam's retreat, which had been accomplished with tolerable
success; but here there were one, if not two pairs of eyes
staring through the uncurtained window, and there was yet
light enough to enable the owners of those eyes to follow the
movements of any one inside, and even to discover their
whereabouts, if they happened to be fully in view of the window,
which the occupant of the deece unluckily was. She
hesitated, yet remained still; but the call was persistently
kept up, "Jinse, I'm sayin', Jinse!" Jinse's wits could
scarcely have been calmed to the point of keeping continued
silence under the increasingly-violent demand of the assailants
of the window to have audience of her; to pretend that
she was in bed was hopeless, and so, starting up in a fashion
to knock over one or two chairs and stools — not a bad feint
either — Jinse advanced to the window, and indignantly demanded
what the midnight brawlers wanted.
"Ou, Jinsie, 'oman, dinna tak' the huff — nae fear o' the
aul' cock the nicht. We ken brawly that Gushets an' 's wife
tee 's awa' fae hame."
"Futher they be awa' fae hame or no, ye hae nae bizness
comin' here at this time o' nicht disturbin' fowk."
"Wus ye sleepin' terrible soun', Jinse?"
"Sleepin'!" exclaimed a second voice; "the fowk o'
Gushetneuk sleeps noo oot o' their beds, an' wi' a' their claes
on!" And at this sally of wit the two men laughed loudly.
"Gae 'wa' this minit, I tell ye," exclaimed Jinse, with increased
"I wauger she has a man wi' 'er, the jaud," was the only
reply that proceeded from the first speaker.
Jinse, who either did not hear, or pretended not to hear,
this remark, then, in a rather less indignant tone, asked, "Fat
are ye wuntin here, I'm sayin'?"
"Fat are we wuntin! Wuntin in tae see ye, Jinse; fat
ither," said the voice that had spoken most.
"Gae awa' hame, I tell ye."
But, at this juncture, Jinse, to her great horror, heard the
latch of the door softly lifted, and the door itself, which of
course had never been locked, evidently opening — a doubtful
illustration, I daresay, of the saying that "love laughs at
locksmiths." Before she could hinder it the two men were
inside, and advancing towards the kitchen. They were quite
well known to Jinse to be two of the servants at the farm of
Mains of Yawal — one of them, indeed, averred that he had
been "here afore" — but, for all this, it was decidedly inconvenient
to have them in the house with the avowed intention
of searching out the man who, as they asserted, was there before
them, and all to see "fat like" he was.
"Faur hae ye pitten 'im noo, Jinsie?" exclaimed the more
demonstrative of the two; "jist tell's, 'oman — we winna hurt
"I say!" cried Jinse, excitedly, endeavouring to push him
"Jock, min," continued the man, addressing his friend.
who had not yet emerged from the "trance;" "Jock, canna
ye come ben an' gi'e Jinse the fawvour o' yer company. Oh-ho!
he'll be i' the bed, I wauger," and the fellow darted
across, and opened the doors of the "bun" bed in which
Johnny Gibb's servant maid slept. Partly through vexation
and excitement, partly perhaps as a stroke of policy, Jinse
had now resort to a woman's last defence — her tears. Her
tormentor failing to find the man he had groped for in the
bed, and with his compunctions slightly stirred, perhaps, seized
her round the neck.
"Weel-a-wuns, than, Jinsie," exclaimed the equivocal
comforter, "we'se lat 'im rest's banes in peace an' quaetness;'
saying which he swung Jinse round, and they both together
came down on the deece with ponderous force. Now,
Johnny Gibb's deece, though a substantial piece of furniture
on the whole, did yield slightly, perhaps, under severe pressure;
and, moreover, in the process of pushing himself under
it, Tam had unsettled the deece from the two fragments of
thin slate on which its front legs stood. The result of this
was that, inasmuch as Tam Meerison was bulky enough to
require in any case all the accommodation he could find between
the deece seat and the floor, the "doosht" of the two
persons falling on it had the effect of bringing his person into
such violent contact with a three-cornered ironing "heater."
which happened to be under him, that Tam uttered an involuntary
" Go-ch!" with considerable emphasis. The general
noise going on fortunately prevented this exclamation
being heard; but, as Tam lay there a very close prisoner indeed,
without the power of stirring a hair's-breadth, the sweat
gathered on his brow plentifully, and he began seriously to
reflect what was to be the end of it, for the second man had
now also taken his seat on the deece, and horrible pictures of
being squeezed as flat as a skate rose in his mind; still he
hoped the deece would hold out, and so long as it did so, he
might hold out too, seeing he certainly had not more than
half the super-imposed burden to sustain.
No doubt it.was a weary lie for Tam, for a full hour and
a half had elapsed before Jinse managed to get rid of the two
intruders. In the course of the conversation overhead of
him, Tam had the pleasure of hearing his sweetheart questioned
in a very direct and unceremonious fashion about
himself, under the title of "Gushets' new man," the interrogator
adding, as his own private opinion, "He's a queerleukin
hurb, at ony rate." It need hardly be said that Jinse
answered discreetly in the circumstances.
When the unsought visitors had left, I daresay she and
her companion exchanged some words of mutual congratulation
and comfort; but day-light was already showing itself,
and the feelings of both Tam and Jinse had been too rudely
disturbed to admit of their settling down again at that time
to a quiet and loving conference. Tam hung about for a
little after he had risen from below the deece, and spoke
widely of giving the two disturbers of his enjoyment their
"kail throu' the reek some day," and then he slipped out to
the stable, and crept cannily up the "chaumer" stair. Tam
had hoped to get quietly to bed, at any rate; but, just as he
had deposited the last article of his removable garments on
his "kist" lid, and stood in nocturnal attire, ready to creep
in amongst "the plaids," his bed-fellow, Willy M'Aul, turned
himself with a drowsy "grane," and muttered, "Ay, ay!
ye're a gey boy comin' to yer bed at three o'clock i' the
"Haud yer jaw, min!" was Tam's abrupt response.
THE reader who has followed me thus far has, I hope,
obtained a sort of general notion of Johnny Gibb's
character; but, while the worthy farmer of Gushetneuk is
jogging leisurely home from Macduff in the cart all alone,
leaving his charge to enjoy their eight-days' bathing till he
should return again for them, I may be allowed to indicate a
little further the stamp of man that Johnny was.
In point of worldly circumstances the goodman of Gushetneuk,
by dint of honest industry and the possession of a
reasonably-conditioned old "tack," had come long ago to be
very comfortable. He had the repute, indeed, of being rich;
but to what figure his wealth really reached nobody could
exactly say, or even very definitely guess, because he and his
goodwife belonged to that worthy and unsophisticated order
of people — now becoming rare, I fear — with whom increase
of wealth brings no change either in tastes or habits of life.
Johnny's table was not, in any noticeable degree, more sumptuously
furnished than it had been thirty years before, when
he began life on little beyond the mere "lawbour o' his
han's." He still duly every morning sat down by the little
back table on the kitchen deece, whereof I have already
spoken, and, having put aside his bonnet and said grace, took
up his horn spoon and "suppit" his porridge from a dainty
wooden "caup," the milk that seasoned it being contained in
a smaller "timmer luggie." The only difference between him
and the lads at the front "dresser" was, that Johnny had tea,
and oat cakes and butter daily, whereas the lads got "butter
an' breid" only on Sabbath mornings. At Klyack, Yule, and
other festivals, master and servant feasted loyally together at
the same table, along with sundry invited guests, usually from
among the residenters at Smiddyward. Johnny's clothing,
moreover, was of exactly the same type as it had ever been;
indeed, some pieces of it still extant and in use had been worn
since he was a young man. What is yet more wonderful,
when we think of the general habit of the prosperous part of
society in this particular, Johnny had never once dreamed of
"cutting" an old acquaintance because of the stigma attaching
to him on account of his poverty. There was he, a man
perfectly "independent" in pecuniary matters (and not less
independent in his opinions and feelings), who certainly had
a very good balance at his banker's, and, as was pretty broadly
hinted, had, under a strong appeal, at one time actually lent
money to his laird, and who yet, at kirk or market, would
accost any "dyker" or "ditcher" in the parish on terms of
perfect equality. The odd thing, too, was that all this did not
seem in the least to lower Johnny in the respect of these poor
folks, who accepted his opinions with greater deference than
they were sometimes disposed to accord to people making
much higher pretensions.
In politics, Johnny Gibb was what would be called an
advanced Liberal, — only the term, I rather think, had not
been invented then. When the first Reform Bill was under
discussion, he became conspicuous by his vehement declarations
in its favour. The smith and the souter of Smiddyward
had been wont to meet and discuss the subject, and to read,
for mutual edification, all the Radical opinions they could find
in print in the serial literature of the time. Johnny became a
casual hearer, and, by-and-by, a not inapt pupil. And thus,
when the Bill had passed, and a contested election had come,
Johnny went down to the polling place at the "Broch," and
threw up his blue bonnet among the excited burghal crowd,
who had rigged out the "toon's" drummer to head their scattered
procession and beat for victory. He stoutly shouted
"Bruce for ever! Gordon never!" and, in place of accepting,
like the other newly-enfranchised tenants "in the Ian'," the
directions of his laird, Sir Simon Frissal of Glensnicker, to
vote for "Captain Gordon," he resented the hint given, and at
the polling place reminded Sir Simon, in very plain terms,
that they two stood now, politically, on an equality.
"Step forward, John," said the rather pompous laird, when
they met at the front of the polling-table. Sir Simon was
inclined to hang on and see whether his presence would not
overawe his refractory tenant even at the eleventh hour.
"Savin' yer presence, sir," said Johnny, "I wud raither
gi'e you the prefairence."
"Step forward," said the laird, severely.
"Weel, weel, sir," was the reply, — "to please you. We're
a' voters alike noo, ye ken, Sir Seemon — ay, ay, we're a'
alike noo. Fa is 't, said ye? — Sir Mykaeal Breece!" shouted
Johnny, in the ears of his astonished neighbours, and under
the nose of his frowning laird. Then Johnny clapt on his
bonnet, and strode away out unconcernedly.
Johnny Gibb's political opinions undoubtedly damaged
his ecclesiastical prospects. The eldership in the parish,
apart from Jonathan Tawse, the schoolmaster, had worn down
to two members, whereof one was much incapacitated by old
age and deafness, and the other was but an unstable pillar at
best, seeing that he not unfrequently got publicly tipsy on the
market-day, and had been known to ride his pony belly-deep
in a neighbour's dung-hill on his way home, and then, when
the animal could get no further on, sit up in the saddle and
shout to some supposed waitress, "Anither half-mutchkin,
lassie!" The necessity of recruiting the eldership was patent,
and the eyes of not a few were directed to Johnny Gibb as
one fit and suitable person for the office. Others hinted at
Roderick M'Aul, the souter; but, in those days, in the parish
of Pyketillim, we liked to select men of substance for the eldership.
Besides, the souter was reckoned very wild in his religious
opinions, inasmuch as he had agitated the question of
a Sunday-school, and was believed to maintain family worship
in his household.
The parish minister, the Rev. Andrew Sleekaboot, was a
very peaceable man in the main, albeit a man that liked extremely
well to have his own way, which, indeed, he generally
got, amongst his parishioners. The idea had been suggested
to him before by Jonathan Tawse that, in order to keep
Johnny Gibb docile and submissively attached to the Kirk, he
should have him made an elder; and Mr. Sleekaboot was not
indisposed to think that this might have prevented certain
aberrations on the part of Johnny, who had been guilty of the
irregularity of hearing and even entertaining as his guest a
"missionar" minister, that came to the quarter occasionally
on the invitation of the souter — a thing which no elder, so far
as known in that region, had ever presumed to do. But now
the daring course taken by Gushetneuk in setting his laird's
political opinions and wishes at defiance fairly staggered Mr.
Sleekaboot, and he determined to try the effect of indirect
discipline in the matter. So he preached a sermon ostensibly
on the qualities of those fitted to hold office in the Church,
but in which his main strength was expended in picturing the
dreadful offence of which they were guilty who refused "in
any manner of way" to be subject to "the powers that be."
The allusions, though rather laboriously roundabout in their
putting, were clear enough to the meanest capacity. The
laird, Sir Simon Frissal, who, being in the quarter, had come
to countenance the occasion, and who, from his boxed-in, or
"pumphel" seat, as it was called by the irreverent youth, had
nodded approval frequently during the delivery of the sermon,
pronounced it "an excellent discourse," and spoke vaguely of
getting it published. The general remark among the parishioners
was of this sort, "Nyod, didnin he tak' a gey fling
at the 'lectioneerin' the day?" "Aw doot Gushetneuk cam'
in for a bit scaad yon'er."
Johnny Gibb met Mr. Sleekaboot in a day or two after the
delivery of this famous discourse, when Johnny bluntly accosted
him thus: —
"Weel, I daursay ye thocht ye hed me o' the steel o' repentance
on Sunday, sir?"
"John! John! what do you mean by that?"
"Ou, brawly ken ye that, sir; ye're nae so blate — yer discoorse
was mair like a hash o' Tory poleetics, nor an expoondin
o' the Gospel."
"John! let me warn you, — these Radical and irreverent
notions of yours can end in no good."
"That's preceesely fat ye taul me fae the poopit on Sunday,
"I simply deduced from the passages of Scripture founded
upon, those general principles that ought to guide men in certain
relations of life."
"Maybe; but I think, wi' a' respeck, it cudna be countit
muckle short o' a wrestin' o' the Word o' Gweed to apply
some o' the remarks as ye did."
"Mr. Gibb," said the Rev. Mr. Sleekaboot, with some
severity, "that's a style of remark I have not been accustomed
to from any parishioner."
"Sae muckle the waur for ye, maybe," was the undaunted
"Will you be kind enough to condescend upon any remarks
of mine that were not warranted by the Scripture?"
added the minister.
"Weel, sir," replied Johnny, "ye made a hantle o' the
poo'ers that be, an' the duty o' absolute subjection to them.
Noo, sir, lat me tell ye that the Apos'le never inten'et to set
up either the laird or the minaister as ane o' the poo'ers ordeen't
to bear rowle owre's i' the fashion that ye seem't to
approve so muckle o'. The laird jist sets me a bit grun, an'
as lang as I keep my bargain an' pay my rent, he has nae
bizness wi' maitters o' conscience, temporal or spiritooal. As
for the minaister, I gi'e him a' due deference as my spiritooal
instructor, gin he pruv 'imsel' worthy o' 't; but fat mak' ye o'
the text that he s'all be 'servant of all'?"
Mr. Sleekaboot did not stay to make much of it one way
or another, at that time at any rate. He mumbled out something
about people being "opinionative" and "impracticable,"
and with a face expressive of a good deal more than he said,
bade Johnny Gibb "Good day."
A few Sundays thereafter it was announced from the pulpit
that a batch of three new elders had been chosen; by
whom was not stated, but the electing body was believed to
consist of Mr. Sleekaboot and the office-bearers already referred
to. Anyhow the batch did not include the name of
John Gibb. The new pillars of the church were our old
friend Mains of Yawal, Braeside (who was the brother-in-law
of Peter Birse of Clinkstyle, hereafter to be introduced), and
Teuchitsmyre. They were all men of reputable substance,
and gifted with the minimum of liability to do or say anything
original or remarkable.
As was fully to be anticipated, several expectant elders
(and their wives) were highly exasperated at being passed
over, and canvassed the gifts of the newly-ordained with some
asperity. Johnny Gibb said nothing, though his unexpected
exclusion caused more talk in the parish than even Mr.
Sleekaboot altogether liked. And thus it came about, by-and-by,
that, in quarters in amicable affinity with the manse, the
confidentially-whispered averment was freely circulated that
the unhappy tenant of Gushetneuk, greatly to the distress of
his excellent pastor, had been found to be a good way from
"soun'" on various fundamental points of doctrine; indeed,
a man of violent and somewhat dangerous opinions generally.
MY last note of Johnny Gibb's excursion to the Wells
left Johnny and his good mare Jess plodding on their
way homeward. They reached Gushetneuk in due time, safe
and sound; and there we shall leave them meantime, while I
describe shortly the habits of the bather and water-drinker.
The daily round was uniform and systematic. You were
expected to drink the salt water as an aperient once in two
days at least, and to bathe every day. The water was drunk
in the morning — the patients helping themselves out of the
Moray Firth at such spot as they found most convenient, and
then walking along the bare, bluff beach to the valley of
Tarlair, where they supplemented the salt water by drinking
of the mineral stream that discharged itself at the little well-house,
covered with several large Caithness flags, that stood
there. There was a little house, too, at the foot of the north
bank, where a drop of whisky could be got somehow in cases
of emergency, as when the patient got "hoven" with the
liberal libations of salt water previously swallowed, or where
the taste lay strongly in that direction; but this was no part
of the recognised regimen.
Then about mid-day was the season for bathing. The
women — perhaps I should say ladies — bathed at the part
nearest the town, and the men further eastward; and, on the
whole, very excellent and safe bathing ground it is; with, I
rather think, the addition of baths built for public accommodation
since the date of which I write. But I speak of the
old fashion of things. Bathing served to whet the appetite
for dinner, as water-drinking may be supposed to have
whetted the appetite for breakfast; and the former important
meal over, the bathers spent the latter part of the day in
pleasure; dandering about the quays observing the operations
going on there amongst the gallant tars and hardy fishermen,
at the risk of having an uncomplimentary designation referring
to their present mode of life occasionally applied to
them; sauntering out to the hill of Doune to watch the ceaseless
breakers on "the bar of Banff," and wonder how the
waters of the Deveron ever managed to make their way into
the sea through the sandy deposits that all but shut up its
mouth; or perhaps an excursion would be undertaken to
Banff or beyond it; and, in those days everybody made a
specialty of visiting Duff House, wandering about the fine
grounds at pleasure, and, if ill luck forbade it not, contriving
to get some good-natured domestic to guide them over the
interior of that noble mansion.
The circumstances being as I have said, Widow Will set
herself to find out a prudent and experienced person of the
male sex to whose care she might entrust Jock, her son, for,
at any rate, the bathing part of the course.
"An' deed tat'll no be ill to get," quoth Mrs. M'Craw, "for
there's a vera discreet, weel-livin' man fae the parish o' Marnoch
bidin at my gweedbreeder's sister's, near the Buchan toll yett."
"Eh, but aw cudna think o' tribblin a body that kens nae
mair about me an' mine nor the man o' France," said the
"Och, an' he'll be muckle waur o' tat! Maister Saun'ers
'll no be so easy fash't I 'se warran'. For a won'er he'll be in
for a crack wi' Donal', an' we'se see."
"He's an acquantens o' your goodman's than?"
"Fat ither," said Mrs. M'Craw. "An' a weel-leernit man
he is. There'll be few as I've seen cud haud the can'le to
Donal' at argifyin about Kirk maitters; but I b'lieve ye he'll
no loup the stank so easy wi' Maister Saun'ers."
"Na, sirs!" sagely observed Widow Will.
"An' aw b'lieve he's here o' te vera word," added the
good woman, as a ruddy-cheeked well-conditioned man of
middle age, dressed in a comfortable suit of grey, and a cloth
cap of large dimensions on his head, passed the window and
entered. The stranger, who proved to be in reality Maister
Saun'ers from Marnoch, at once agreed to take charge of
Jock, both for water-drinking and "dookin;" and, finding
that his friend Donald had crept out to the garden to enjoy
the soft air of a fine summer evening, and feel the declining
beams of the sun which he had long ceased to see, he went
in search of him; no doubt to hold high debate on some of
their favourite topics, in preference to wasting his time with
mere women's chatter.
And thus Jock was intrusted to the responsible care of
the gentleman from Marnoch.
Maister Saun'ers, as the Celtic landlady had called him,
had enjoined on the lad the necessity of being out of bed betimes
to accompany him. By six o'clock next morning, accordingly,
the two were stalking leisurely along the beach on
the east side of the town. At a convenient point they picked
their steps down, as other people of both sexes were doing, to
where the tide was washing fresh and clear into sundry irregular
rocky pools. At the margin of one of these Jock's
guide, philosopher, and friend, stooped down, filled a tin jug
of the salt water, and then, standing bolt upright, solemnly
drank off the whole quantity. The jug contained a pint,
ample measure; and when Maister Saun'ers had emptied it,
he observed to Jock — "Noo, laddie, I'm easy physicket. I'll
need no more; but an ordinar' dose for a stoot healthy man's
about half as muckle again as I've ta'en. Here noo, I'll full
the juggie to you." And, suiting the action to the word,
he filled the tin jug and presented it to Jock, who lifted the
vessel to his head with a dubious and tardy sort of movement.

"Drink hardy, noo!" cried Maister Saun'ers, as Jock made
a gruesome face, and threatened to withdraw the jug from his
He made a fresh attempt, but could get no further with the
process of drinking.
"Hoot, toot, laddie, that'll never do. That wud hardly be
aneuch for a sookin bairn."
The jug was hardly half emptied.
"But it's terrible coorse," pleaded Jock, with a piteous
and imploring look.
"Coorse! awa' wi' ye, min. Gweed, clean saut water. Ye
sud gae at it hardier, an' ye wud never think aboot the taste
o' 't. Come noo!"
Jock made another and not much more successful attempt.
"Hoot, min, dinna spull the gweed, clean, halesome water
— skowff't oot!"
"Weel, but aw canna — it'll gar me spew," said Jock, in a
tone approaching the "greetin."
"An' altho', fat maitter?" argued his more experienced
friend; "that'll help to redd your stamack, at ony rate. Lat
me see ye tak' jist ae ither gweed waucht o' 't, and syne we 'se
be deein for a day till we see. But min' ye it's nae jeesty to
tak' owre little — speeshally to begin wi'."
Jock made a portentous and demonstrative gulp, which, I
fear, had more show than effect, so far as swallowing the remaining
contents of the tin jug was concerned. However,
he was reluctantly allowed to spill the remainder.
"Come awa' noo, an' pluck a gweed han'fu o' caller dilse,
an' tak' a bite o' them — they're a prime thing for the constitution,"
continued Jock Will's new guardian.
This order was more grateful than the former had been,
and Jock floundered over the slippery tide-washed boulders
with alacrity, to gather dulse. "Tak' the shally anes aye fan
ye can get them noo," said Maister Saun'ers, as Jock came
up towards him with a bundle of rather "rank" looking
material. "They're a vera halesome thing ta'en wi' the water.
Luik at that noo!" And he exhibited a bunch of short, crisp
dulse, powdered about the root ends with clusters of tiny
shells of the mussel species. "That's the richt thing;" and
Maister Saun'ers, after dipping the dulse afresh in a little
briny pool, swung them into his mouth. As the shells cracked
and crunched away between his excellent grinders, he added,
"That shalls has a poo'erfu effeck o' the stamack. We'll
awa' roon to Tarlair noo."
When they had walked on to Tarlair, Jock was exhorted
to drink as much of the mineral water as he could be persuaded
to have thirst for, and to "gyang aboot plenty," but
to "tak' care an' keep awa' fae the edges o' that ooncanny
The scene at Tarlair was pretty much what I daresay it
often was. About the Well-house were gathered a cluster of
visitors, male and female, of various ages, mostly country
people, but including a couple of well dressed sailors, who
had evidently been out the night previous "on the spree," and
had come there to shake off the effects of their debauch, if
one might judge from the disjointed exclamations of one of
them, who lay stretched at full length on his face on a long
stone seat, occasionally complaining of the physical discomfort
he was suffering, cursing the day of his return to Macduff,
and cursing himself as an unmitigated fool. At a little distance
along the valley was a group of sturdy water-drinkers of the
male sex, with their coats off, playing at putting the stone;
others, male and female, were to be encountered walking
hither and thither, or returning to the Well for another drink;
and some lay sluggishly on the brow of the steep grassy
banks that shut in Tarlair on the landward side, enjoying the
pleasant morning sun, watching any craft that might happen
to be in view, or trying to make out as much as they could of
the blue hills of Caithness across the Firth. And thus it
went on till the several water-drinkers found themselves
ready to go home to breakfast.
Of Jock Will's bathing experiences, I daresay, I need say
nothing. His guardian was admitted by his compeers to be
himself "a hardy dooker," a quality in which, notwithstanding
his utmost exhortations, Jock continued to be rather deficient,
I fear. The first "gluff" of the cold water, when it
crept up on his person, was a trial which his nerves could
hardly withstand, and the oft-repeated injunction to "plype
doon fan the jaw's comin'" embodied a lesson which Jock
invariable shrunk from, unless the iron grasp of his preceptor
happened to be on his shoulder. Truth to say, Jock had
always the feeling that the reflux of the wave would carry him
away into some deep unfathomed cave of the Moray Firth.
Nevertheless, there are hundreds of nice convenient baylets
about the Macduff bathing ground, where even the most inexperienced
may safely take a dip; and at any rate no harm
came to Jock Will during the period of his stay at the Wells.
IN the quiet region about Gushetneuk, comparatively unimportant
events attracted no inconsiderable amount
of public attention; and furnished topics of news that would
circulate for a wonderful length of time. And thus the annual
visit of Johnny Gibb's family to the Wells was naturally known
to the neighbourhood, and formed the topic of conversation
for the time being. It was also a means of getting a certain
amount of useful news direct from "the Shore."
And so it came about that, on the evening after his return
from Macduff alone, Johnny had a visit from his neighbour,
Peter Birse, the farmer of Clinkstyle. Peter's errand was
partly one of friendship, and partly one of business. But
here it will be proper shortly to define, somewhat more exactly,
who Mr. Peter Birse was.
Clinkstyle, next to Mains of Yawal, which lay on the west
as it did on the east side of the road, and a little nearer to
the Kirktown of Pyketillim, was the largest farm in the vicinity.
The tenant of Clinkstyle kept two pairs of horses and
a stout "shalt " or orra beast which ran in the gig, the latter
being a recently-added voucher for the respectability of Peter
Birse, or rather, I should say, the respectability of his wife.
She was a managing woman, Mrs. Birse, a very managing woman;
extremely desirous of being accounted "genteel;" moreover
for thrift none in the parish could beat her. Perhaps it
would be wrong to say that she boasted of her thrift; but at
any rate the unapproachable sums she realised off her cows
every summer in the shape of butter and cheese, in addition
to fostering the calves, were no secret. Yet it was understood
that Mr. Andrew Langchafts, the new "merchan'" at the Kirktown,
who, with the intention of distancing all his rivals in
the district, and securing the lion's share of the custom going,
had prominently avowed his intention of giving "the highest
prices for butter and eggs," did not altogether admire her
mode of transacting business. When the sturdy sunburnt
servant damsel from Clinkstyle, in "chack" apron and calico
"wrapper," came to his shop deeply freighted with a basket of
butter weighing thirty-six pounds for which he paid at the
rate of eightpence a pound — (a halfpenny in excess of the
other shops) — and when Mrs. Birse, by her messenger, bought
in return "an unce o' spice, a pennyworth o' whitet broons,
half a peck o' saut, an' a stane o' whitenin'," one can easily
imagine that the "merchan'" did not deem it encouraging.
And it would be difficult to believe that he could feel greatly
flattered when the girl, having got her "erran's," and her
goodly nugget of shillings in her hand, added, "The mistress
bad 's seek some preens fae ye. Ye gyauna's neen last — she
says she never saw a merchan' 't cudna affoord to gi'e 's customers
"Well," quoth Andrew Langchafts, gravely, "I have really
no margin — I'm afraid I'll have loss, for the butter's declining."
"That's fat she said at ony rate," answered the damsel,
"an' she said she expeckit there wud be some ootgang o' the
butter, forbye 't ye sud say 't it 's scrimp wecht."
"I tell you, young woman, if I press the buttermilk out of
each of these lumps, I would lack well nigh a pound avoirdupois."

"Weel, weel, ye better come awa' wi' oor preens at ony
rate an lat 's be gyaun, or I'll get up my fit for bidin sae lang."
The merchant, a stiff "gousty lookin' stock," who had but
recently begun business in the shop at Pyketillim, whose experience
heretofore had, it was understood, been mainly in a
tolerably populous back street in Aberdeen, and who was thus
not quite conversant with the peculiarities of thrifty country
life, had no help but to comply with the request.
Mrs. Birse had a family of three sons and one daughter,
whose ages ran from ten to seventeen, and she had already
begun to lay plans for their future establishment in life. The
elder son, Peter, junior. was destined to succeed his father as
farmer of Clinkstyle; the second, Rob, must be provided with
a farm as soon as he was ready for it; the youngest, Benjamin,
was to get "leernin;" and the daughter would, of course,
be married off in due season to the best advantage.
Well, as I have said, Peter Birse called at Gushetneuk on
the gloamin after Johnny Gibb's return. Along with him
came his collie dog, and his eldest son; and Peter's conversation
took somewhat of this turn —
"Weel, Gushets, ye've wun redd o' the goodwife noo, hae
"I' the meantime, Clinkies — mithna ye try something o'
the kin' to get on the breeks yersel' for a fyou days, jist for a
Clinkies did not altogether relish the retort seemingly, so
he gave up the jocular vein, and continued —
"Weel, foo's the crap lyeukin doon the wye o' Turra?"
"Ou brawly; bits o' the corn wud be neen waur o' a
gweed shooer, but the feck o' 't's settin' for a gey fair crappie."
"D' ye think that, though, Gushets? — it's blate, blate, a
hantle o' 't, hereaboot."
"Ou ay, ye've a gey puckle i' the laft, an' twa 'r three aul'
rucks to thrash oot, Peter; but I wudna advise you to keep up,
expeckin an ondeemas price for 't — the corn's comin' doon,"
said Johnny.
"Eh, man, is 't?" exclaimed Peter Birse. "An' fat are they
gi'ein at the Shore?"
"Four-an'-twenty for gweed, weel-colour't stuff; an'
gettin' slack at that," said Johnny Gibb. "There's sic cairns
o' 't pourin' in sin' the neep seed was finish't."
Peter Birse, senior, could scarcely conceal his chagrin at
this announcement, the truth being that he had been sent
over by Mrs. Birse to find out from Johnny what was being
paid for the quarter of oats at Macduff; and also what was
being charged for the boll of lime and coals, the object of
these inquiries being to obtain the necessary data for deciding
whether it would be prudent and advantageous to send
off a couple of cartloads of grain from Clinkstyle, for sale at
that port, and to bring the carts home laden with either of the
articles just named.
"An' divnin ye think four-an'-twenty a terrible little simmer
price, Gushets?" pleaded Peter.
"'Deed, Peter, it's aboot daar aneuch for them that has 't
to buy. Dinna ye be keepin' up, lippenin till a muckle price
afore hairst, — ye may get a less, an' nae blessin' wi' 't."
"Aweel, a' the toosht aboot oor toon'll mak' little odds.
We wusna jist seer gin we wud thrash oot the bit huickie or
twa 't we hae, or no. Is there mony fowk at the Walls this
"Muckle aboot the ordinar'."
"There'll be mair neist month, I daursay, — the water
winna be at its strength till near aboot Lammas, ye ken.
Fan div ye gae doon again to fesh hame the goodwife?"
"This day ouk."
"An' ye 'II tak' a day or twa o' the water yersel', like?"
"Fae Wednesday till Saturday lickly, — we'll come hame
on Saturday."
"Jist that. They'll be begun to the herrin' gin than?"
"I kenna."
"Sawna ye nae appearance o' the fishers gettin' the muckle
boats hurl't doon to the water aff o' the chingle, or the nets
rankit oot?"
"Weel, I really tyeuk little notice, Peter; but I 'se keep
my een apen fan I gae back."
"Jist that," added Peter. "It's a sturrin place Macduff;
speeshally aboot the time o' the herrin'."
Peter had an object in all the questions he had put. He
had got a commission of inquiry from his spouse, and his
business, when he had fulfilled it, was to go home and report
to her. When he had done so faithfully, Mrs. Birse pronounced,
almost with indignation, against the idea of selling
corn at twenty-four shillings a-quarter; and more than hinted
that if Johnny Gibb's granary and stack-yard had not been
pretty well emptied, he would not have been so communicative
of the sort of advice he had tendered to the goodman of
Clinkstyle. "Man, ye're a saft breet; cudna ye 'a speer't fat
he wud tak' for a dizzen o' quarters oot o' the bing on his barn
laft?" added Mrs. Birse in the way of personal compliment to
Peter; and, having delivered herself of her sentiments on the
grain question, she next heard Mr. Birse's statement about
the general run of things at Macduff, and the fishing in
The truth was, Mrs. Birse contemplated troubling Johnny
Gibb with a small order when he returned to the sea-port just
named to fetch home his own. And on the evening before
Johnny set forth on that journey, the lad Rob Birse was entrusted
with the delivery of this order to the person who was
to be honoured with its execution. Rob came across to
Gushetneuk accordingly, and, having found Johnny, discharged
his trust in these words —
"My mither bad 's tell ye — gin ye wud be good aneuch —
fan ye gang to Macduff, to fesh hame till her fan yer comin'
back twa dizzen o' fresh herrin'. An' gin there binna herrin',
gin ye cud get a gweed chape skate till her, an' twa three-bawbee
"An' is that a', laddie — has she nae ither bits o' erran's?"
asked Johnny, with a slight tinge of sarcasm, which the youthful
Birse hardly appreciated.
"No, aw dinna think it," answered the lad. "She was
gyaun to bid ye fesh half-a-gallon o' dog-oil till her, but she
hedna a pig teem that wud haud it."
During these eight days of temporary celibacy, while his
wife was absent at the Wells, Johnny Gibb persisted in taking
most of his meals with his three servants. He partook along
with Tam Meerison and "the loon" of whatever Jinse Deans
saw fit to make ready; and when Jinse ventured to ask his
advice about some part of her household work, Johnny got
something very like crusty, and said he "kept nedder aucht
nor ocht aboot it;" and that if she "didna ken better aboot
hoosewifeskip" than he did, she "wud mak' a peer bargain"
to the man that got her; at which Jinse giggled, tossed her
head slightly, and professed that there "was fyou seekin' 'er."
But Jinse was a competent servant as well as a "gate-farrin"
damsel; and, though she had consulted Johnny once
out of deference to him, she was quite capable of discharging
her household duties satisfactorily without special guidance;
and, in point of fact, she did so discharge them at this time,
in so far as both Johnny and the other members of the
household were concerned.
JOHNNY GIBB'S return visit to the Wells, in 1839, was
to him a somewhat memorable one; not for any remarkable
events by which it was distinguished, but in this
wise. Johnny had the fortune then to make the incidental
acquaintance of two men, each in his way not a little after his
own heart. These were Donald M'Craw, and the gentleman
from Marnoch, of whom the reader has already heard somewhat.
Donald, like many another Celt, was a keen hand in
the discussion of all questions of a theologico-polemical cast,
and a staunch upholder of the Church's exclusive jurisdiction
in matters spiritual. And while the Marnoch man held similar
sentiments with Donald theoretically, the progress of events
was just then bringing to his own door the opportunity of
illustrating his theory by a practical testimony.
And thus it was that when Johnny Gibb, Donald M'Craw,
and "Maister Saun'ers," as Mrs. M'Craw called him, had got
"fairly yokit" on the subject of the Kirk, a lengthened and
engrossing "confabulation" was the result. When general
principles had been sufficiently expounded — Donald and the
Marnoch man being so thoroughly well up in the subject that
Johnny was reduced to the position very much of a listener
and learner — Maister Saun'ers entered on the history of the
Marnoch case with all the exactitude of personal knowledge.
Johnny had heard of it in a general way before, and sympathised
with the protesting parishioners, but as his information
grew through the communications of Maister Saun'ers, his
sympathy also waxed in intensity, till it merited the name of
righteous indignation against those who had sought to deprive
them of their rights and privileges.
"Ay," said Maister Saun'ers, "whaur's the richts o' conscience
there, I wud like to ken? A man wi' nae gifts fittin'
'im for the wark forc't upon an unwillin' people i' the vera
teeth o' the Veto Act."
"An' was there naebody in fawvour o' this Edwards?"
asked Johnny.
"Judge ye, Maister Gibb — oot o' three hunner heids o'
faimilies, members o' the congregation, nae less nor twa
hunner an' sixty-one protestit against his bein' sattl't."
"An' the lave sign't for 'im?"
"Deed no — I dinna like to speak oot o' boun's: but I 'm
seer there's nae half-a-dizzen, that hae ony richt to meddle i'
the maitter, in fawvour o' him — leavin' oot Peter Taylor, the
innkeeper at Foggieloan, I ken hardly ane."
"Dear me, man: but lat yer Presbytery be fat they like,
the Assembly'll never thole sic ongaens."
"Ay, Maister Gibb, but that 's jist whaur the creesis
lies. The Assembly o' last year — Thirty-aucht, ye ken —
ordeen't the Presbytery to throw the presentee oot: aweel,
that's been deen sinsyne. But nae doot ye've heard o'
the Auchterarder case, whaur the Coort o' Session was
call't into play, an' the vera Presbytery o' Dunkeld brocht
till it's bar in person — it's aneuch to gar ane's bleed boil
to think o' 't, aifter the noble struggles and sufferin's o'
oor covenantin' forebears to mainteen spiritooal independence."

"It luiks like a joodgment o' ta lan' for oor oonfaithfu'-
ness," said Donald.
"Aweel," continued Maister Saun'ers, "the Apostle says,
evil communications corrupt good menners,' an' so although
the Presbytery hae been prohibitet fae takin' ony forder steps
fatsomever to induck this 'stranger' that the flock will never
follow, fa sud hin'er him to gae to the Coort o' Session
neist an seek a decree authoreesin the Presbytery to gae on
wi' the sattlement?"
"I' the vera teeth o' the Assembly?" exclaimed Johnny.
"Ay, Maister Gibb, that's the pass we're brocht till at
Marnoch noo."
"An' has the airm o' ta secular poo'er raelly been streetch't
oot to touch ta ark o' ta Kirk's spiritooal independence?"
asked Donald, with an air of solemnity.
"Judge ye, Donal' — This vera ouk this Edwards has
gotten a legal dockiment fae the shoopreme ceevil Coort, requarin
the Presbytery forthwith to tak' 'im on his trials."
."Alas! alas!" said the blind pensioner, shaking his head,
"sic unhallow't wark bodes ill for oor coontra. We may some
o' us leeve to see ta day whan the faithfu' people o' God maun
worship on the hill-sides again."
"But," interposed Johnny, "your Presbytery — they'll see
you richtit. They winna daur to disobey the Assembly."
"Oor Presbytery! Jist wait ye," said Maister Saun'ers.
"We've hed owre gweed preef o' their quality in the times
byegane. They've deen ocht but befrien'et the people; an'
I'll gi'e the lugs fae my heid gin they dinna gae on noo, neck-or-naething,
to cairry oot this sattlement — that's to say, the
majority; for aiven in Stra'bogie we've a faithfu' minority
protestin' against sic iniquity."
"An' will ye stan' to hae this man Edwards forc't upo' ye,
neck an' heels?" said Johnny Gibb warmly.
"Never! — I tell ye the fowk o' Marnoch'll never submit
to that, come fat will. They'll leave the kirk wa's to the
owls an' the bats seener, an' gae forth oonder the firmament o'
heaven to worship."
"Praise to Him that rules ta hearts o' men that we hae
faithfu' witnesses i' the lan'?" quoth Donald M'Craw, with
something of the fervour of an old Covenanter.
"Ay," replied Johnny, "it wud be a gran' sicht to see a
congregation mairch oot, and leave the bare wa's o' the desecratit
kirk, raither nor bide still, un'er the minaistry o' ane
that hed nae better call till's office nor fat the poo'ers o' this
earth can gi'e 'im by dint o' the strong airm o' the law — owreridin'
the saacred richts o' men's consciences."
"Mark my words weel," said Maister Saun'ers, "if ye
dinna see sic a sicht as fat ye speak o' in Marnoch, afore ony
o' 's is muckle aul'er, I'm far mista'en."
"Wae, wae, to ta men that forder sic unsanctifiet wark,"
said Donald, "an' may ta Christian people nae be foun' faintheartit
i' the day o' trial."
"Never fear," exclaimed Maister Saun'ers, stoutly, "we
hae stood to oor prenciples as yet, an' we'll dee't still, i' maugre
o' an Erastian Presbytery, wha ken nae heicher homage nor
renderin' to Cæsar the things that are God's."
"Ay, ay, man," said Johnny reflectively, and I rather think
the image of Mr. Sleekaboot crossed his mind. "There's
owre mony o' them tarr't wi' the same stick — war'dly, time-servin'
characters; mair concern't aboot pleasin' the lairds
nor sairin their Maister."
"Weel, weel," added Maister Saun'ers, "depen' ye upon 't,
though it may begin at hus, it canna en' there. There maun
be a clearin' oot, an' an estaiblishment o' the true prenciples
that oor forefathers focht and suffer't for, afore the Kirk o'
Scotlan' can be set on her richt foondations."
"Ah, but ye're speakin' ta Gospel truth noo," exclaimed
Donald M'Craw, who delighted in sombre prediction. "'I
will overturn, overturn, overturn,' saith ta prophet. An' ta
Kirk has been too lang sattl't on her lees — her day o' joodgment
must come."
As may be imagined, the spirit of Johnny Gibb was not a
little stirred within him by the discourse he had held with
Maister Saun'ers and Donald M'Craw. For the day or two
that he remained at Macduff, Maister Saun'ers was his constant
companion. They took their walks together, and Jock
Will trotted behind; they sat on the braes in the sun, and
talked together, and Jock traversed the pebbly part of the
beach in search of "bonny buckies," half of which Jock had
destined for the adornment of his mother's mantlepiece at
home; the other half — well Jock was gallant enough to meditate
a surprise for "the lassie," by presenting to her, should a
favourable opportunity occur, as they journeyed home, a
choice collection of the finest shells that the Macduff beach
afforded. When the two new-made friends parted there was
a vigorous handshaking, and Johnny Gibb avowed, as indeed
turned out to be the case, that from that day forward his zeal
in the Non-intrusion cause would be quickened in a degree
that should bear no relation to his previous state of hazy,
half-informed rebellion against Moderate domination as it had
been attempted to be exercised by Mr. Sleekaboot.
The journey home from the Wells was necessarily very
much of the character of the journey thither; only that the
patients were a little more tanned, if possible, by the sun, and
the stores they now carried were chiefly of a maritime nature
— a few dried cod; herrings; partans; dulse, and a bottle of
sea water taken along by Widow Will to perfect her son's
cure. In due course they arrived at Gushetneuk.
"Hae, lassie," quoth Johnny Gibb, handing out a decrepit-looking
wicker basket, "that's the wife o' Clinkstyle's herrin'.
Ye'II better tak' them owre at ance, or we'll be hearin' aboot
"Wudna ye sen' a puckle o' the dilse to the goodwife,
man — an' a partan!"
"Please yersel', 'oman; but I sud partan neen wi' 'er.
They war owre dear bocht till agree wi' her constiteetion."
"Hoot, ye sudna be sae nabal wi' fowk," answered the
Johnny gave an expressive "pech," and proceeded with
the dismantling of the cart.
The compromise made was to send along with Mrs. Birse's
parcel of herrings a goodly bundle of dulse; and the lassie
went off to Clinkstyle freighted accordingly.
"An' that's my herrin' is 't, Mary?" said Mrs. Birse, on
seeing the basket. "An' dilse, nae less? Na, sirs, but ye'll
be a far-traivel't 'oman noo. Did the wifie Wull come hame
wi' yer aunt an' you, no?"
"An' Jock, nae doot — Is his sair chafts better noo?"
"I think they are," said the lassie.
"An' ye've bidden a' thegither at Macduff, I 'se warran'?"
"Na; auntie an' me bidet oor lanes in ae hoose, an' Widow
Wull at anither."
"Ou yea, I thocht ye wud 'a maetit a' throu' ither — 't wud
'a made it chaeper for Jock an' 's mither, maybe. They cam'
in files to see you, an' bade throu the aifterneen?"
"Ay, files."
"An' fa did yer aunt an' you bide wi' syne?"
"They ca'd them Mr. and Mrs. M'Craw."
"A muckle hoose, I wauger, an' braw fowk? — brawer nor
the fowk that Jock Wull an' 's mither bade wi'."
"Ay, it was middlin' muckle."
"It wusna neen o' the fisher tribe 't ye bade wi' than?"
"Na, the man was an' aul' sojer."
"An' aul' sojer! He's keepit ye in order no."
"But he was blin'."
"An' 's wife made a livin' by keepin' lodgers — she wud hae
mair nor you?"
"Na, she keepit a skweel for little littleanes."
"An' lodg't you i' the room en'? — jist that. She wud mak'
a gweed penny i' the coorse o' the sizzon that wye, I 'se
As the goodwife of Clinkstyle leisurely undid the basket,
she plied the girl with these arid sundry other queries marked
by the like laudable intention of finding out the inner history
of the journey to the Wells; and in particular, whether
Widow Will had not only been conveyed to and fro by the
Gushetneuk folks, but had also shared in their bounty while
at Macduff. At last the basket was emptied and its contents
"Ay, lassie, an' that's my twa dizzen? They're some saft,
an' nae gryte sizes, weel-a-wat — Hoot, lassie, there's only sax
an' twenty there! Keep me, there sud 'a been foorteen to the
dizzen — I never tyeuk less nor foorteen fae aul' Skairey the
cadger, lat aleen Macduff itsel'. Aweel, tak' ye hame yer
creelie noo. I sanna be speerin' the price o' them eenoo, but
fan I see yer uncle I sall lant him the richt gate. He's a het
buyer o' fish — nae to ken the cadger's dizzen."
It is not quite certain that Mrs. Birse had any matured
intention of ever asking the price of the herrings, if no one
else stirred the question. Anyhow she deemed it politic to
let it rest meanwhile; and politic also, in a wider sense, to
dismiss the lassie graciously.
"Na, Mary, but ye are growin' a lang lassie. Oor 'Liza
an' you ees't to be heid-y-peers, but ye're tynin her a'thegither.
I dinna believe but ye're near as heich's Peter there.
Come 'ere, min," continued Mrs. Birse, addressing the young
gentleman in question, who had applied himself industriously
to the mastication of the dulse. "Awat but ye mak' a winsome
pair. Gae 'wa' noo, Patie, an' convoy Mary a bit; tak'
'er basket i' yer han', and see 't ye help her owre the stank
afore ye turn."
Peter, a thriving but on the whole slightly softish-looking
lad, "hirsled" off his seat with rather evident reluctance, and
after groping about for his bonnet, proceeded to do as his
mother ordered him. And with this lesson in gallantry to
her eldest born, the goodwife of Clinkstyle turned her to the
continued prosecution of her domestic duties.
THE style of life that prevails at such places as Gushetneuk
would not, I can well believe, suit the taste of the
sensational story-teller. He might wait a very long time for
"thrilling incidents" of any sort, and wait in vain; and the
sober realities of every day life, as there exemplified, would
be certain so to conflict with his spasmodic conceptions of
human existence as to drive him to distraction. Nevertheless,
I am prepared, after full trial, to deny that such a style of
life is in reality, or necessarily, either dull or uninteresting.
But, what is more to the point, it is just the very thing that
suits my present purpose, inasmuch as I can take my narrative
in the most leisurely way, and jump over twelve months
or so, which I now do, with the bare remark that I have performed
that exploit, fully trusting to pick up my characters in
statu quo just as I left them.
When the Martinmas term of 1840 was drawing near,
Johnny Gibb wanted to know of Tam Meerison whether he
was disposed to remain as his servant through the winter.
Tam's answer to this question, addressed to him while he was
busy currying the bay mare, was not decisive either way.
"Aw cudna say," quoth Tam drily; "aw wudna care a
great heap, gin we can gree aboot the waages, an' a' ither
thing confeerin."
"Confeerin or no confeerin," said Johnny testily, "I wunt
a mair direck answer — fat siller are ye seekin'?"
"It depen's a gweed hantle on a body's neebours tee,"
continued Tam.
"Ou ay, I ken the loon an' you's been aye haein bits o'
sharries noo and than; but he's a weel-workin', weel-conduckit
loon, an' ye winna pit an aul' heid upo' young shou'ders."
"Will he be bidin?" asked Tam.
"Lickly, though he hasna been speer't at yet; an' Jinse's
bidin — hae ye ony faut to fin' wi' her?"
"I've naething adee wi' women's wark, an' never meddles
wi' 't," said Tam, pursuing his grooming very industriously.
"Roun', Jess — wo — still, you thing." The latter part of the
sentence was of course addressed to the animal then undergoing
its daily trimming.
"Weel, weel, but tell me, ay or no, an' fat fee yer seekin',"
insisted Johnny Gibb.
"I cudna say foo the fees 'll be rinnin this term; an' aw
wudna like to name siller till the mornin' o' the market."
"A puddin' lug, min," exclaimed Johnny. "That's aye the
gate wi' you chiels; tum'le aboot a haill kwintra side, sax
month or so here, sax month or so there, for half o' your life
time, an' never save a saxpence to bless yersel's wi'."
"I cudna dee 't though," said Tam, who still carried in
his mind Johnny's demand to know what fee he wanted.
Johnny at once turned him about and left the stable.
Now the truth of the matter was that Tam Meerison did
not wish to leave Gushetneuk. The "loon," of whom the
reader has formerly heard, and who was still Tam's fellow-servant,
was just a little of a thorn in his side occasionally, by
his lack of reticence in speech on certain subjects; but then
there was much seemingly to balance this very partial grievance.
If Johnny Gibb was occasionally a little hasty, he was
on the whole a kind and indulgent master. The horses Tam
drove were handsome, well appointed, and well fed — an important
consideration, and properly so, with every man in
Tam's position. Tam admitted that the servants were "weel
ees't" in the way of food; and then the presence of Jinse
Deans had come to be something that seemed to be essential
to Tam's perfect serenity of mind. But for all that Tam was
so far the slave of habit that he could not clearly see his way
to departing one jot from what, among his compeers, had
come to be considered the correct mode of bargain-making
in covenanting for their services; he had a kind of general
idea that it was on the whole an effeminate sort of thing to
"bide owre lang i' the same place," and he had now been
eighteen months at Gushetneuk.
On the morning of the feeing market day, Johnny Gibb no
doubt asked, once more, what wages Tam required, but evidently
Johnny was in a decidedly more indifferent mood than
when he had previously mooted the subject. And, accordingly,
when Tam, who by that time had begun seriously to
doubt his previous policy, "socht," he somewhat curtly "bade"
ten shillings less than the sum Tam mentioned. With few
more words, they separated, and each went away to the market
in his own interest, but with a vague notion on Tam's part that
they "wud lickly meet afore they were lang there." Early in
the day, however, Johnny had a "stoot gudge," anxious to
"work a pair o' horse," pressed on his notice and easily arranged
with him. Tam hung in the market for good part of
the day receiving only indifferent offers, and the upshot was,
that he at last, reluctantly enough, engaged himself to be
"foreman" at Clinkstyle. Peter Birse, as was not an unusual
case with him, was about to make what is understood by "a
clean toon" of his servants, and, according to his invariable
practice, had been endeavouring to fill up the vacancies in his
establishment at the cheapest rate; so he managed to pick
up Tam Meerison at an advanced period of the market, at a
crown less fee than Johnny Gibb had offered Tam on the
morning of the same day.
The change from Gushetneuk to Clinkstyle was one that
Tam Meerison did not find exactly conducive to his comfort.
In explaining his reasons for making the change, Tam, to put
the best face upon it, told his friends that he was desirous of
getting to "a muckler toon" than Gushetneuk, where he would
have more "company" and so on. But, poor lad, the company
he got were a cause of no little trouble to him. It so happened
that Mrs. Birse's notions about the proper mode of
feeding servants were not such as to command the approval
generally of those servants who had had practical experience
of them, or to procure for Mrs. Birse herself a favourable reputation
among that class where she was known. The new
servants — second horseman, orra man, and cow baillie — were
disposed not merely to grumble but to break out into open
insurrection, on the ground of the unsatisfactory character of
the victuals supplied to them. And they expected Tam to
vindicate their rights in the matter; a duty which he found
by no means easy or pleasant. So far as mere inarticulate
growling, or the utterance of an incidental anathema against
the victuals in the hearing of the servant maid went, Tam
found no difficulty in going fully along with his companions.
But a crisis came by-and-by. The goodwife, in her thrifty
way, had, for a good many nights in succession, supplied
boiled turnips and "turnip brose" to the lads as the staple of
their supper. And in testimony of their appreciation of the
fare thus furnished, they latterly had no sooner smelt the
odour thereof as they entered the kitchen night after night,
than they duly commenced to "low" like as many oxen. Then
it was that Mrs. Birse seized the occasion to catch them
flagrante delicto, by bursting into the kitchen as they were
bellowing away; and a very stiff onset she gave them about
this unbecoming behaviour.
"An' fat hae ye to say against gweed sweet neeps to yer
sipper, I sud like to ken?" demanded the irate matron.
"Oh weel, it's owre af'en to-hae them ilka nicht 'cep Sunday
for a haill ouk," said Tam.
"Owre af'en! birst the stamacks o' ye; fat wud ye hae!"
"A cheenge files."
"For fat, no? There's fowk maybe 't kens their place
better nor set their servan's doon at the same table wi' themsel's;
and gin ye hinna leern't that muckle gweed breedin'
yet, the seener ye're taucht it the better; fat sorra div ye
"We wunt naething but a fair diet," answered Tam.
"A fair diet! An' weel 't sets ye — aw wud thank ye to
tell me fan your fader — the roch dyker," and here Mrs. Birse
looked directly in Tam Meerison's face, "was able to gi'e's
faimily aneuch o' onything to ate. But that's aye the gate;
them that's brocht up like beggars 's aye warst to please."
This outburst took the wind so considerably out of Tam
that he utterly failed to make any reply; and Mrs. Birse, after
a brief pause, went on, "Deed they're but owre gweed for ye
— wi' weel hir't brose, an' plenty o' as gweed milk to yer kyaaks
as ever cam' oot o' a byre."
"Sang, it needs 't a' — near aucht days aul', an' as blue as
blaeworts; — but it's nae the milk 't we're compleenin o'
eenoo," said the second horseman, after another pause.
"Na, an' ye wud be baul' to compleen, ye ill-menner't pack;
but ye'll jist tak' yer neeps there, an' nae anither cheep oot o'
the heids o' ye; or gin ye dinna, we'll ken fat wye to tak' an
order o' ye."
"Tak' an order o' the aul' Smith, an' ye like; neeps sax
nichts oot o' the seyven winna stan' law at ony rate," said the
former speaker.
"An it's muckle ye ken aboot law" replied the goodwife
scornfully. "Jist gae ye on till I need to gar yer mister tak'
ye afore the Shirra, an ye 'll maybe hae some diffeekwalty in
stannin yer grun for refeesin a gweed halesome diet."
With this deliverance, and unheeding the rejoinder,
"Aweel, aw daursay ye've had the chance o' hearin' the Shirra
afore noo," Mrs. Birse turned, and bounced away "ben" to the
parlour, where she proceeded to make tea for her husband
and hopeful progeny, now gathered round the table, at the
same time letting the unspent balance of her wrath blow off
in a general way, to ease her mind; the head of the household
getting a slight accidental scorching, when he happened
to come in the way.
"I'm sure, man, I'm jist keepit in a fry wi' ae coorse pack
aifter anither; ye seerly wile the vera warst that ye can get
fan ye gae to the market."
"Hoot, 'oman, ye sudna vex yersel' about them."
"Easy to ye; but an' ye hed the maetin o' them's I hae,
ye wud tell anither story. A vulgar, ill-fashion't set."
"Fat 's been adee eeno?" asked Peter.
"Adee! refeesin their neeps, an makin' a din like as
mony nowte fan they cam' in."
"Hoot awa'."
"Yes," interjected Miss Eliza Birse, "an' I heard the
second horseman cursin' about the kitchie cakes."
"An' fat did he say, my dear?" asked Mrs. Birse.
"He bann't at Betty an' said they werena fit for swine to
"An' fat did Betty say, 'Liza?"
"She said 't hoo 't she cudna help it; that it was your
orders to mak' them weet i' the hert to keep the men fae eatin'
owre muckle."
"The dooble limmer!" exclaimed Mrs. Birse. "An' her
luikin a' the time 't a bodie speaks till 'er as gin butter wudna
melt in her cheek."
"Weel, I heard 'er at ony rate; for I was jist gaen up the
stair, an' stoppit and hearken't at the back o' the inner kitchie
"The oongratefu ill-menner't jaud 't she is," continued
Mrs. Birse. "But I'll sort 'er for that. She'll be expeckin
to get some leavin's i' the taepot, to be a cup till 'er fan the
men gaes oot to sipper the beasts, as eeswal; but she'll luik
wi' clear een ere she see that again, I doot. That's the reward
't fowk gets for their kin'ness to the like o' 'er."
While this conversation was going on, the tea was proceeding
apace. The three young Masters Birse and Miss
Birse, with their respected parents, were seated round a
somewhat clumsily set out table, containing in the way of
solids, an ample store of bread, oatcakes, cheese, and butter.
The "olive plants" were all at school, except Peter, junior,
who, being designed for agriculture, was understood to have
the literary part of his education about finished, and was
taking to farming operations, including some minor attempts
at cattle dealing at which he had been allowed to try his
hand, very kindly. Suddenly Peter, senior, called across the
table to his youngest born, Benjamin —
"Benjie! fat are ye deein pirlin aboot at yer breid that
"Weel," answered Benjie, sulkily, "'Liza's gi'en's a nae
gweed bit, an' winna hae 't 'ersel'."
"The breid's a' perfeckly gweed — ate it this moment, sir!"
said Peter Birse, senior, severely.
Benjie put on a look more dour and dolorous than before,
but failed to fulfil the parental mandate.
"Fat is 't, my pet?" asked Mrs. Birse, in her most sympathising
tones, addressing Master Benjamin.
"Weel, it's nae gweed," answered Benjie, proffering his
mamma the unacceptable bit of cakes — a thick, rather sodden-looking
"piece." The worthy lady examined it for a second,
and said — "'Liza! that's a bit o' the kitchie kyaaks — fat wye
has that come here?"
"I dinna know," answered Miss Birse; "it was upo' the
"Is there mair o' 't? Eh ay — here 's twa korters! Betty
cudna but a' kent that she was pittin 't upo' oor maun. I
sudna won'er nor she's stown as muckle o' the parlour breid
till hersel'. Sic creaturs wi' oonhonesty. Lay that twa korters
by, 'Liza, till we see better in till 't. I 'se be at the boddom
o' that, though it sud cost her 'er place." The careful mother
added, "There's a better bittie to ye, my dautie," and as she
said this, she handed to Benjie a full half of one of the
"quarters" of parlour cakes, which bore about the same
relation to the "kitchie kyaaks," that a well-browned biscuit
does to a lump of dough.
"Hoot, 'om — an," Peter Birse had commenced to utter,
in the way of deprecation of this proceeding, when Mrs. Birse
cut him short by tossing the lump of "kitchie kyaaks," towards
him and exclaiming —
"Weel, weel, try 't yersel', gin ye hae onything to say. But
ye canna expeck the bairn's stamackie to be able to disjeest
the like o' that."
"Humph, I cud ate it bravely," said Peter Birse, senior;
and in proof of the truth of his assertion he did eat it. Only
his next helping was taken, not from the remaining bit of
kitchie kyaaks," but from the parlour cakes.
The result of the turnip controversy was that Tam Meerison
and his companions did get an occasional supper of "kail,"
very purely prepared with salt and water; only as the three
lads coincided in holding decidedly that Tam ought to have
"stuck'n up better to the aul' soo," his influence and authority
as foreman were correspondingly diminished. And the less
Tam was disposed to renew the quarrel with his mistress, the
more did the others swear "at lairge" when they happened
to be about the kitchen. Not seldom was this done, with
the evident intention of provoking warfare, as well as of
manifesting the slight degree of respect they entertained for
Tam, and for everybody else connected with Clinkstyle; the
general result being that Tam would sit, mainly dumb, a good
part of the evening, hearing no end of jibes indirectly launched
at himself; while Betty, the hard-wrought be-draggled kitchen
damsel would at one time giggle and laugh with the rough
fellows, and be at next turn coarsely tormented till she was in
a state of the highest wrath, or be made the butt of their oaths
and obscene allusions. As for Mrs. Birse, "bauld" woman as
she was, even she found it to her comfort to make as few
errands to the kitchen as might be, while "the boys," as her
husband termed them, were about.
And here, good reader, I bethought me of giving utterance
to a few "moral reflections" on the degraded character of our
farm-servant class; and how blame-worthy they are for being
such immoral and unmannerly boors. But somehow my line
of vision came always to be obstructed by a full-figure image
of Mrs. Birse of Clinkstyle, who, you will perceive, is a very
particular and intimate acquaintance of mine. Mrs. Birse
would come into the forefront, and her husband, Peter, was
vaguely discernible in the background. So I gave up the attempt.
You may make it on your own account; but I doubt
whether you will be able to search thoroughly into the causes
of this social evil without being also troubled with the image
of Mrs. Birse of Clinkstyle.
THE parish which forms the theatre of the principal scenes
in this history, if not amply furnished with the means
of education, had, at any rate, the advantage of a couple of
schools. There was, first of all, the parochial school; a
sample of that noble institution which is understood to have
done so much for the enlightenment of our native country.
And I should be the last to depreciate the value of the parochial
school, though I have a strong opinion that the statutory
dominies of a quarter of a century ago, up and down, were, as
a rule, highly inefficient for educational purposes. The improvement
in the general style of teaching since that time is,
I also believe, much greater than is imagined by many people.
The Rev. Jonathan Tawse, of the parochial school of
Pyketillim, whose name has been previously mentioned, was
considered, on the whole, a superior educationist, as compared
with his brethren throughout the Presbytery. What
the parishioners said about him in the early part of his career
was, that his ambition lay too much toward the pulpit to admit
of an efficient discharge of his duties as a teacher. And
certain it is that the Rev. Jonathan Tawse was not destitute
of a desire to wag his pow in some particular "poopit" which
he could call his own, as his prompt readiness to officiate for
any absent or sick brother of the Presbytery testified. And
he usually sought opportunity to air his gifts still farther afield
about the time of the annual vacation. It had even been
bruited that he made bold, on one occasion, to offer himself
in this way to the suffrages of a vacant town's congregation.
But whether it was that the people were inappreciative, or
patrons unaccommodating to the influence that he could command,
the Rev. Jonathan Tawse settled clown as a dominie,
and a confirmed old bachelor, and took rather kindly and
freely to toddy and snuff. I don't think that the Church lost
much in respect of the Rev. Jonathan Tawse's failure to reach
the dignity of formal ordination. For even in my time he
preached at rare intervals in Mr. Sleekaboot's absence; and
we juniors liked him; only it was for reasons which I greatly
fear did not tend to edification. Firstly, his "sneeshinie"
habits were a sort of pulpit novelty that tended to liveliness
as contrasted with the stiff and demure solemnity of the usual
minister. And then Mr. Tawse's services were short as compared
with those of Mr. Sleekaboot. Not that he said less,
either in prayer or in the sermon, but he had remarkable
rapidity of utterance. There are religionists, I believe, in the
East at any rate, who pray by machinery. Now the Rev.
Jonathan Tawse, in prayer, behaved exactly like an instrument
which had been wound up, and must run down. With
an exactitude that was remarkable, the well-worn phrases fell
in in rapid succession to each other, each in its own due order
as cog answers to cog in the mill wheel and pinion. Thus
were daily mercies, and the weekly returning day of rest with
gratitude acknowledged; thus was our beloved Queen (a recent
change from his Majesty the King) prayed for, with the
high court of Parliament, the Assemblies of our national Zion,
and all judges and magistrates of the land, that we (the
parishioners of Pyketillim), under them might lead quiet and
peaceable lives, that they might be a terror to evil doers, and
a praise and protection to such as do well. Then when Mr.
Tawse came to the sermon, he tackled it with corresponding
impetus. They were not new sermons that he used, but productions
of a long by-gone time, when he had considered himself
a probationer, and they were framed after the manner of
Blair, though marked by an occasional juvenile efflorescence
of style that was rather out of keeping with the now mature
age of the preacher. Such as they were Mr. Tawse read them
off with a monotonous rapidity that did great violence to all
those principles of elocution and punctuation which he was
wont to exemplify with impressive emphasis in the audience
of his pupils. The only breaks in the discourse were, when
he made a halt to take snuff, or when the exigencies of the
case compelled him to lift his head for the purpose of blowing
his nose with his speckled silk handkerchief.
But as I have said, Mr. Tawse was reckoned an able
teacher; and he laboured away in his vocation with tolerable
assiduity, the monotony of the ordinary routine being broken
by occasional outbursts of a rather irritable temper, and the less
frequent corruscations of a sort of dry humour that lay within
him. He had usually a class of two or three "Laitiners,
on whom he bestowed much pains, and a good deal of
chastisement. These were intended to be the parsons and
lawyers of the future; only the results did not always fulfil
the expectations cherished, for I could point to sundry of the
Latiners of my time who, at this day, are even less reverend
and learned than myself, which is saying a good deal. As to
his classes generally, Mr. Tawse had not much that deserved
the name of method in their management; and still less was
there of thoroughness in the little that he had. English grammar
was one of the modern improvements which he prided
himself on having introduced, and against which not a few of
the more practical sort of parents loudly protested, as implying
an unwarranted curtailment of the time that should have
been devoted to the more useful branches, particularly "coontin."
And I know of one pupil at any rate, who, being much
more earnestly bent on play than work at that period of his
life, managed to maintain a decent grammatical reputation
and a respectable position in the class, without his having
ever possessed a copy of any Grammar whatever of his own,
or ever looked in the most cursory way at the day's lesson out
of the imperative school hours. The mode adopted was to
keep one's acquirements modestly in subordination, and of
set purpose avoid being inconveniently near the top of the
class. Then when lesson time drew near one could ordinarily
manage to obtain a furtive glance of some other body's
"buik," and hastily scan the lesson. With the thing very
fresh on the mind, and a deft calculation, based on the
number between you and the top, of the particular bit you
would have to repeat, you stood a fair chance of getting over
the first round creditably; and that accomplished, it was your
own fault if you could not get sufficiently up in the subject
by the time the whole class had been gone over to enable
you to meet with impunity any further demands on your
erudition at the hands of the dominie. This was a practicable
course with both the Grammar and "Catechis;" and in
the arithmetic department it was quite possible, by judicious
guesswork, and "copying" from others as opportunity offered,
to have gone well through the inevitable "Gray," rule by rule,
and yet be unable to face a very plain question in "Proportion"
or "Practice" without heartfelt dread, if it happened to lie
outside of Mr. Gray's "examples." The annual Presbytery
examination has been said to be very much of a farce. In
my day it was felt to be anything but that; for we had one
vehement member of Presbytery who broke freely out in
scolding fits, which were much dreaded; while another had
an appalling facility in scribbling down arithmetical problems
that made the hair stand on end to think of, much more to
face in the way of attempting their solution; and thus the
yearly appearance of "the minaisters" came to be the most
formidable ordeal to which we were subjected. In the ordinary
course we dozed away very comfortably, and the pupil
who was alive to the current dodges of the time might have
as much trifling and remain about as ignorant as he chose,
for there was no real system of testing his acquirements, and
he only needed to dread being "brought to the scratch"
when some extreme aberration on his part had put Mr. Tawse
in a thorough rage. Then he might expect a severe overhaul,
with a certain amount of punishment by having his
"lugs ruggit," the sides of his head cuffed, or a few strokes
with the "tawrds" implanted on his palms; and thereafter
things settled down again to the ordinary routine.
Now, as I have indicated, it had been felt by many
judicious parishioners that the parochial school of Pyketillim,
under Mr. Tawse, was too much of a mere high-class academy.
The complaint was not that Mr. Tawse's system, as administered,
was lacking in general efficiency and thoroughness, but
that he "took up his heid owre muckle wi' that Laitin an'
Gremmar, an' ither buik leernin — a mixter-maxter o' figures
wi' the letters o' the A B C, aneuch to turn the creaturs' heids."
And indeed it was cautiously averred by some, that the
dominie had really driven one pupil doited by the distance
he had endeavoured to lead him into the abstruse region of
Mathematics. Mr. Tawse himself said the lad was a natural
born dunce; that he had hoped to make a decent scholar of
him by dint of hard drilling, but that his "harns," after deducting
the outer case, might have been contained in an eggshell,
and that his own muddled stupidity was the only disaster of
an intellectual kind that was ever likely to befall him. The
boy was the elder son of Mains of Yawal. Of course, Mains
did not relish the insinuation, and complained to Mr. Sleekaboot
of Jonathan's rude style of speech.
"Oh, well, you know his temper is a little hasty; but he
is a man of sterling principle, and a very competent teacher,"
said Mr. Sleekaboot.
"Still an' on," replied Mains, "it's nae ceevil eesage to
speak that wye aifter he gat 's nain gate wi' the laddie."
"In what branches has the boy failed?"
"Weel, aw cudna say; he hisna been makin' naething o' 't;
he's jist a kin' o' daumer't i' the heid like."
"He has perhaps increased his tasks too much for the
boy's capacity."
"I cudna say aboot 's capacity — ye canna pit an aul' held
upo' young shou'ders, ye ken. I suppose he's jist like ither
"H—m, yes; well, I'll speak to Mr. Tawse, and get him
to modify his tasks."
"My rael opingan is," said Mains of Yawal, resolved to
have a hit at Mr. Tawse, "that the dominie's nae gryte
deykin at the common coontin 'imsel'; an' that mak's 'im
sae fond to get them on to some o' that rowles that works by
a kin' o' slicht o' han'."
"Sleight of hand!" said Mr. Sleekaboot, with a smile,
"what works by sleight of hand?"
"Weel, I'll tell ye, sir," answered Mains, pulling up,
"fan I wuntit him to gi'e Sawney a raith at Ian' mizzourin,
to qualify 'im for a lan' stewart or siclike, gin it ever happen't
sae — there's naebody wud ken, ye ken — he begood aboot
deein't by Algaibra an' Jiggonometry, an' threepit owre me 't
it was sic an advantage to dee 't that gate. Noo, I'm seer fan
Dawvid Hadden, the grun offisher — an' there's nae a capitaller
mizzourer o' grun in a plain wye i' the seyven pairishes —
cam' owre to lay aff a bit o' oor ootfeedles last year, he not
naething but jist the chyne an' 's poles, an' a bit sclattie an'
skallie. An' him an' me keest it up in a han' clap."
Mr. Sleekaboot perceived that Mains was rather gratified
by his own success in the delivery of this speech. So, instead
of attempting further elaborate argument with him, he crept
up his soft side by ostensibly deferring to Mains's opinions on
the practical question of land measuring; and then promising
that he would talk the whole matter over with Jonathan
Tawse, and bring him to a right frame of mind toward the
younger Mains of Yawal. And Mr. Sleekaboot, without
much difficulty, succeeded in healing this breach. But he
failed in eradicating the opinion that obtained, especially in
the west side of the parish, that it was desirable to have a
school better adapted to meeting the wants of those who were
bent on a purely practical education — the "modern side" in
their view, in short.
And thus it came about that the side school of Smiddyward
was established. Sandy Peterkin was one of those
original geniuses who seem born with an extremely good
capacity for acquiring knowledge, and no capacity whatever
for turning the knowledge so acquired to any noticeable
account, so far as bettering their own position, or benefitting
other people connected with them is concerned. In his boyhood
he had sucked in knowledge with a sort of good natured
ease and avidity; and then, when he came within sight of a
practical application of the same, Sandy disappointed the
hopes of his friends by changing his mind, and turning out a
kind of "sticket doctor." I really don't think that Sandy could
ever have had sufficient nerve for the medical profession.
Then, in an equally erratic fashion, he had gone abroad to seek
his fortune, and, after twenty years, returned without finding it.
In a general way, then, Sandy had again made his appearance
in the locality, willing to settle down, but without any particular
vocation, or well-defined idea as to what he would desire
to apply himself to. Luckily for Sandy, the agitation on the
subject of Mr. Tawse's shortcomings was at that particular
time pretty keen, and the notion of another school rather
popular. I would not insinuate that it was because Mr.
Sleekaboot opposed the project that Johnny Gibb lent his aid
so zealously in patching up the old maltbarn at Smiddyward
— which they pierced with two windows of four panes each,
at the same time converting the ingle into a hearth — in order
to adapt the place as a school. But Johnny certainly did take
an active part in planning the structural works, and defraying
the cost of material and workmanship as well as in recommending
the new teacher as a "byous clever chiel, a feerious
gweed counter, an' a prencipal han' at mizzourin grun."
At the date of my story, Sandy Peterkin had conducted
his school for only a few years, the usual winter attendance
numbering about thirty pupils. In summer it naturally decreased,
and in order to eke out his stipend for that part of
the year, Mr. Peterkin was wont, when the "hairst play" came,
to hire himself out as a raker, or general errand man, to some
of the neighbouring farmers.
Such were the two schools and schoolmasters of Pyketillim.

IT was to Jonathan Tawse, such as I have described him,
that the goodwife of Clinkstyle took her youngest son,
Benjie, with the view of his addicting himself to the profession
of the law. She had unfolded to the dominie her plans regarding
the future of the young man, and wished his advice
as to the requisite curriculum of study.
"Ou, weel," said Jonathan, "we'll jist hae to set him on
for the regular coorse in classics."
"I wudna won'er," answered the goodwife. "An' foo mony
classes will he hae to gae throw' syne? — ye ken he's i' the foort
class, an' complete maister o' the muckle spell-buik, 'cep some
unto kittle words 't 's nain fader can mak' naething o'."
"Hoot-toot-toot, ye're wrang i' the up-tak' — it's classics —
nae classes. Mair plainly, an' he war a wee thing better
grun'it in English — through Mason's Collection may be — we
maun put him to Latin an' so on."
"Dis lawvyers need muckle o' 't, noo?"
"The mair the better, whan they want to bamboozle simple
fowk," said the dominie. "Like Davie Lindsay's carman, that
gat's grey mare droon't whan he ran to the coort: —
They gave me first ane thing they cah citandum,
Within aucht days I gat but libellandum;
Within ane month I gat ad opponendum;
In half ane year I gat inter loquendum,
An' syne I gat — how call you it? — ad replicandum;
But I cud never ane word yet understand him."
"Keep me, Maister Tawse! ye've sic a heid o' leernin
yersel'. I dinna believe but ye cud mak' up a prent buik an'
ye war to try. But mithnin he dee wi' the less coontin?"
"No; certainly not; he maun hae Mathematics confeerin."
"An' that be the gate o' 't, the seener he's begun the better,
I wud think, to nae loss time. Cudna ye begin 'im at ance
wi' a bit lesson? 'Leern ear', leern fair,' they say, an' Benjie's
a gran' scholar o' 's size. He wud bleck's breeder, that's twa
year aul'er nor him, ony day."
"Aweel, lat me see," said Mr. Tawse, who, having at the
time no Latin class, had begun to cast about as to the possibility
of setting one agoing for the winter, "I'll see if I can get
anither ane or twa, an' try them wi' the Rudiments — ye may
jist get a Ruddiman i' the meanwhile, or we see."
"That's the buik that they get the Laitin oot o', is 't?"
"No, no; jist the grammar — the rules o' the language."
"It cudna be deen wuntin, cud it? I dinna care aboot
owre muckle o' that gremmar, 's ye ca' 't.
"Care or no care, it's quite indispensable; an' it's utter
nonsense to speak o' wuntin 't," said Mr. Tawse, in an irritated
"They're sic a herrial, that buiks," pursued Mrs. Birse.
"Aye, aye needin' new buiks; but maybe ye mith hae an' aul'
Kroodymans lyin' aboot? I'm seer Benjie wudna blaud it —
he's richt careful' o' 's buiks, peer thing."
"No, no, Mrs. Birse. I'm nae a dealer in aul' buiks" —
"Eh, forbid 't I sud mint at that, Maister Tawse; but an'
ye hed hed ane 't ye cud a len't the laddie, I'm seer we wud
'a been richt muckle obleeg't."
"If ye dinna value yer son's edication sufficiently to think
it worth yer while to pay for the necessary buiks, jist train 'im
for the pleuch stilts at ance."
"'Deed, Maister Tawse, I'll dee naething o' the kin'.
There's neen o' 's fader's faimily requarin to work wi' their
han's for a liveliheid, an' it cam' to that, noo. Peter'll get
the tack at hame, 's breeder Robbie'll be pitten in till a place,
an' his sister sanna wunt 'er providin'; an' gin that war 't a' we
cud manage to plenish the best fairm i' the laird's aucht for
Benjie; but fan craiturs has pairts for leernin, it's a temp'in
o' Providence to keep them back."
"Oh, rara avis in terris!"
"Fat said ye?"
"Oh, that's only the Latin way o' expressin' my admiration
a' the boy's pairts," said Mr. Tawse, "an' it shows ye vera
weel what a comprehensive an' elegant tongue it is. It wud
be a perfect delight to ye to hear Benjie rattlin' aff sentences
fae Latin authors — I'm sure it wud."
"Is that Kroodymans a clear buik, Maister Tawse?"
"A mere triffle — a maitter o' twa shillin's or half-a-croon."
"Weel, I think ye mith jist get it the first time 't ye're
sen'in to the toon — they'll maybe gi'e some discoont to the
like o' you — an' we can coont aboot the price o' 't at the en' o'
the raith."
Ruddiman was procured in due course, and Benjie set to
the study of it, along with a lad whom Mr. Tawse had got as
a boarder, and who was understood to be the natural son of
— nobody knew exactly who. He was an idle boy, but quick
enough when he chose to apply himself. And thus he and
Benjie made, as Mr. Tawse confessed, an extremely bad team.
For if the truth must be told, notwithstanding Mrs. Birse's
eulogistic estimate of Benjie's literary capacity, as compared
with that of his paternal parent and elder brothers, none of
the Messrs. Birse, junior, had manifested exactly brilliant intellectual
parts; and any capacity or predilection they had
shown had been very distinctly in the direction of intermeddling
with cattle and horses, and concerning themselves with
the affairs of the farm. I don't think that Mr. Birse, senior,
was in the least disappointed at this, though of course he had
long ago reconciled himself to the idea that Benjie was somehow
to be the great and learned man of the family. Howbeit
Ruddiman agreed but ill with Benjie's tastes, and the consequence
was that when the first "raith" was almost ended, he
had scarcely got past Ego Amo, Tu Amas, and certainly had
not the remotest conception of what it was all about. But
this was not all. The effect of Benjie's studies had been to
drive him home from school, over and over again, and with
growing frequency, in a shattered state of health. Now it
was his head that was in a dreadful state, and next his
"wyme," and Benjie shed many salt tears over his deplorable
This state of things could not go on. Clinkstyle growled,
and averred that his youngest son would be killed by too much
learning; and the goodwife coaxed and coddled with no beneficial
result. Then she went to Mr. Tawse to ascertain
whether he was not tasking the excellent youth too severely,
as it was alleged he had done in the case of Mains of Yawal's
eldest son and heir; and she came back in a great rage, for
Mr. Tawse had been curt and uncomplimentary, and had
hinted very plainly something about Benjie "shamming," after
which he abruptly left Mrs. Birse standing outside the door,
and proceeded to the interior of the school to finish his day's
"Weel, weel, 'oman," said Peter Birse,senior, "they wud
need a heid o' iron 't could gae throu' that stuff; ye'll need to
pit a stop till 't some gate."
"Gae 'wa' wi' yer buff; it's muckle 't ye ken aboot it,"
answered Peter's dutiful spouse, determined not to be convinced
by him at any rate.
"Jist wyte than till ye see the upshot. I sudna won'er
nor he mak' the laddie an objeck for life — min' fat naar happen't
wi' Mains's laddie."
"Mains's laddie! Humph! An' my son hinna some mair
smeddum aboot 'im nor the like o' that gawkie trypal, it's
time 't he war set to herd the laird's geese instead o' followin'
aifter edication. Ye micht hae some regaird for ither fowk's
feelin's, man, gin ye hae neen for yer nain!"
"But I'm nae sayin' 't Benjie hisna a better uptak' nor the
like o' him," pleaded Peter apologetically.
"Better uptak'!" exclaimed Mrs. Birse. "Sma' thanks
t' ye for that! Foo af'en hiv I seen 'im, peer innocent, bleck you
an' 's breeders tee, readin' namie chapters oot o' the Word o'
Gweed. An' that's fat he gets for 's pains? I'm seer he sets
an example to aul'er fowk."
"Hoot, 'oman. I wusna meanin' to misca' oor nain laddie."

"An' foo did ye dee 't than, Peter Birse? Tell me that."
Peter had not an answer ready — in time at any rate — and
Mrs. Birse went on, "I'm seer ye ken brawly fat wye my uncle,
't deet Can'lesmas was a year, wan in to be a lawvyer aboot
Aiberdeen, an' made jist an ondeemas thing o' siller — as the
feck o' them does. Awat he len'it a hantle to the toonship, an
leeft a vast o' property forbye. Peer man, he did little gweed
wi' 't i' the hin'er en'; or some o' 's mith 'a been in a vera different
seetivation fae slavin' on till ony ane, takin' chairge o'
bestial, and milkness, an' a pack o' vulgar trag o' fairm
servan's. But 's wife's freens raive a heap o' 't aff o' 'im fan
he was livin', an' manag't to get the muckle feck o' fat was
leeft fan he weer awa'."
"But aw doot he hed a hantle o' enfluence, or he wudna
come on sae weel," said Peter.
"Aw won'er to hear ye speak, man. Fat enfluence cud
he hed; fan he'd gaed to the toon, as I've heard 'im tellin' a
dizzen o' times, a laddie wi' a tartan plaid aboot 's shou'ders,
an' a' 's spare claise i' the neuk o' 't? Forbye, isna there Maister
Pettiphog 't fell into my uncle's bizness, an' was oor awgent
fan ye pat awa' yer second horseman fernyear for stravaigin
fae the toon o' the Sabbath nicht, an' gyaun in owre's bed wi'
's sharnie beets on — a vera respectable man — didna he begin,
as he taul's 'msel', upo' the sweepin's o' the Shirra Coort.'"
"True, true," said Peter, in a half bewildered tone.
"Aweel, aw think it wud be ill's pairt, an' he wudna
tak' Benjie for a 'prentice at ance, an' pit 'im o' the road to
mak' a wye o' deein for 'imsel'. He made a brave penny aff
o' you at ony rate."
It was impossible for Peter to answer such powerful and
voluble reasoning; and he had virtually succumbed before
Mrs. Birse reached the concluding and more practical portion
of her discourse, which revealed a part of the plan of Benjie's
future, of which he had not hitherto got the faintest glimpse,
although as now presented it rather commended itself to him.
The effect upon Mrs. Birse herself of so fully expressing her
sentiments, was, on the whole, soothing. But on one thing
she was fully resolved, come what would — to give Jonathan
Tawse a snubbing. So, in addressing our promising young
gentleman next morning, she said, "Ye'll tak' my compliments
to Maister Tawse noo, Benjie, an' tell 'im to sen' the
account wi' ye — the raith's oot at the en' o' this ouk at ony
rate — an' gin he canna manage to behave wi' common ceevility
to them 't he's makin' 's breid aff o', and teach their
bairns withoot brakin' their health, maybe anither wull. Will
ye min' that noo?"
What this threat signified exactly, in the mind of the person
who uttered it, it would perhaps be difficult to guess. At
any rate, when Benjie brought the account Mrs. Birse's
thoughts took quite a practical shape. Jonathan Tawse's fee
for the ordinary curriculum of the school was 3s. 6d. a-quarter;
when Latin was included he made it two shillings more;
and when Mrs. Birse saw the enormous charge of 5s. 6d.,
followed by 2s. 6d. for a half-bound Ruddiman, it was some
little time before she could give adequate expression to her
feelings. She declared first that she would never pay such an
"extortion;" and next that ere she did pay she would certainly
make Peter Birse, senior, face the unconscionable
dominie before the "Shirra," where the account would be rigorously
"taxed," and the iniquity of its author exposed in the face
of the world. The actual result as regards the account itself
was that after a while Peter Birse, senior, was sent to pay it,
with orders to deliver certain sarcastic remarks bearing on
the combined greed and professional incapacity of Mr. Tawse;
and which orders Peter, as is usual in such circumstances,
did not carry out to the letter; but indeed, mumbled some
sort of awkward apology for the withdrawal of Benjie from the
school; for, of course, he had been instantly removed — a result
which Benjie seemed in no wise to regret, during the interregnum
that occurred until it should be determined what
should be done with him next.
HOW shall I describe the Kirk Road of Pyketillim? Of
course it is the Kirk Road when the Parishioners are
assembling for public worship that I mean.
It is a beautiful spring Sunday morning of the year 1842.
Samuel Pikshule has duly tolled his eight o'clock bell, which
sends its billows of pleasant melody rolling over bank and
hollow to the furthest end of the parish, amid the still, dewy
sunlight; then he has gone and deliberately discussed his
breakfast, and shaved off his beard, and washed his face, before
he would ring ten o'clock and turn the key in the kirk
It was at a quarter to twelve that Samie began to ring the
people in. But for good part of an hour before that they
were to be seen wending slowly onward in twos and threes
by this and that side path into the "'commodation road,"
which winds along by Smiddyward, Gushetneuk, and Clinkstyle,
and so on over the Knowe and down upon the Kirktown.
As they met on the main road they resolved themselves
into groups, larger or smaller, according to taste and
other circumstances. Here is a knot of three or four women,
including one sturdy old dame, with close mutch, ancient:
shawl of faded hue, and big umbrella planted firmly under her
arm, fine as the day is; there another couple, one of indefinitely
goodwifely aspect, the other evidently a thrifty
spinster, and a lassie clanking on in heavy "tacketie" shoes
at their skirts, anxious to get what comprehension she may of
the semi-prophetic gossip, and to discover the individualities
referred to in the confidentially-breathed "she says, says she,"
that occupy the tongues of her seniors. There Dawvid Hadden,
ground-officer to Sir Simon Frissal, pulls up, takes off
his hat, wipes his brow, lets his wife forgather with whom she
may, and the bairns scatter on in front, while he hooks his
one thumb in his waistcoat armhole, and puts the other hand
below his coat tail to wait for Hairry Muggart, the wright,
and get the news as they jog socially on, picking up a fit companion
or two by the way. At other points we have knots of
sturdy chaps, free from the plough for one day, and done up
according to taste in rough grey tweeds, and with the ends of
their brilliant neckerchiefs flying loose, tramping along by
themselves; and "skweel loons," on the alert for idle pranks,
and fully conscious that Jonathan Tawse's rule is intermitted
for the time, now loitering and next scampering on with
utmost speed.
When the journey is about accomplished, we have no end
of friendly inquiries to make as we cluster about the kirkyard
"yett;" then slowly filter inward to re-group ourselves on the
open space in front of the kirk door; to sit down with a few
cronies on the green slope under the venerable trees, or it may
be on a "lair stane" in God's acre itself, to take snuff and see
how far our notes about the weather and the crops agree.
Samie begins to ring at the quarter, but we let him ring on,
and it is only when Mr. Sleekaboot is seen coming up the
long walk in full canonicals (we had no vestry in those days)
that we betake ourselves to the interior of the kirk, crushing
in in a somewhat ramshackle and irreverent fashion it must
be allowed, and planting ourselves in attitude to sleep, or
observe, as the case may be.
But I will not describe the church services farther than
has been already done. Our profiting usually was pretty
much, I presume, what might have been expected. At the
close Mr. Sleekaboot sat down composedly, and the elders
seized the "ladles" — substantially built ladles they were, and
had served their purpose for generations past — and perambulated
the kirk. We gave our "bawbees" like loyal Presbyterians;
that is to say, the head of the family always gave
one, and sometimes his wife another, or one of the elder
bairns — a habit and practice which have been most faithfully
adhered to in most congregations, town and country, till this
day; insomuch that hundreds of worthy people of fair wealth
and position, who would be ashamed to offer less than sixpence
to any other good object, proclaim their veneration for
the usages of these ancient Christians by carefully abstaining
from ever dropping into the "brod" aught else than a copper
"counterfeit presentment" of her Majesty. Well, we did this
in the parish church of Pyketillim; and I do not recollect
more than once seeing a man — it was up "i' the laft" — put a
penny into the "brod" as it was pushed round, and then adjust
his offering to the statutary amount by taking out a "bawbee."
When the "kirk skail't," the scene was different from the
gathering. To be sure, if Samie Pikshule had a roup to
"scry," or a strayed stirk to "adverteese," there was a general
and eager clustering about him at the kirk gable, as Samie
"yabbled" out the particulars. But otherwise we put on double
steam to what was in use when we were dandering up to the
"courts of the sanctuary," as Mr. Sleekaboot phrased it.
Before we were clear of the Kirktown some half dozen of the
male parishioners (usually elderly ones, familiar with the
dwellers in the Kirktown, and who cared not to carry "fleerish
and flint" in their "Sunday claes") had availed themselves
of "a het sod" to light their pipes; and the result was
seen in a cloudlet of blue smoke rising here and there over
the streams of people as they moved on in steady flow east
and west; everybody now marching onward with something
of the air of those who have serious business on hand.
Now, it so happened that on the particular Sunday morning
to which I have made reference, Peter Birse had living
with him over the day, as a visitor, a particular friend from
"up-throu'," an ardent agriculturist like himself. The two had
been out betimes in the morning and had enjoyed a saunter
over Clinkstyle's fields, discussing matters relative thereto as
they went. After the ten o'clock bell had rung in, and long
after breakfast, it occurred to Peter as they stood at the top
of the garden walk, not knowing well how to occupy themselves
further, that a profitable use might be made of the
spare time yet between them and the hour of public worship.
"Nyod, fat wud ye say to takin' a stap roon b' the back o'
the wuds gyaun to the kirk. The laird has a puckle fine
stirks i' the Upper Holm park 't the grieve's aye blawin'
"Oot already?"
"Ou ay. They war some scant o' strae, ye see; they
keep sae mony horse beasts aboot the place. But they're fine
lythe parks, an' ear' tee; beasts mith live o' them throu' the
winter naar."
"I wud like freely weel to see them, man," said the
"Weel, jist heely till I gi'e a cry in 't we're awa'."
And they went by the back of the woods — it was a long
way round — where the stirks were duly seen, criticised, and
admired. Then they stumbled on a field of the laird's which
the grieve was preparing to be laid down in turnips, and took
a "skance" of what was going on there.
"It's easy deen for them 't yauchts the grun to try protticks
wi' 't," observed Peter.
"He's been trenchin', seerly," said his friend.
"Ou na; but they hed a gryte strength o' beasts rivin''t up
wi' fat they ca' a subsoil pleuch."
"The stibble Ian', likein?"
"Ay, ay, stibbles."
"Weel, I cudna say; aw wud be some dootfu' aboot it. A
bit faugh across the rig i' the en' o' the year, an' syne a gweed
deep fur's better nor turnin' up the caul' boddom."
"Oh, loshie, ay, man," said Peter Birse. "But than, ye see,
it's a' ae thing to him fat he pit into the grun gin he can raise
a crap; an' he'll baud on the manure to the mast-heid, fatever
it may cost. They war sayin' he hed gotten a curn o' that
ga-ano stuff 't they speak aboot."
"Yea, man!" replied the stranger, in a wondering tone.
They approached the corner of a field off the road, and
stood up on the top of the "backit dyke," when Mr. Birse
exclaimed, "Aw div not believe but here's a hillockie o' that
ga-ano i' the neuk o' the park."
Peter was right. Guano was then a newly-introduced
manure, which he and his friend, who understood the virtues
of bone dust perfectly, had not yet seen. The grieve had got
a consignment of the Ichaboe variety, whereof he had deposited
a small parcel in the corner of the field to await turnip
sowing. In a twinkling our worthies had Ieapt off the
dyke and were busy examining the guano.
"Eh, man, but it's fushionless-like stuff," said Peter
Birse's friend, after inquiringly crushing a sample or two between
his finger and thumb.
"Isnin't a mervel fat wye that cud gar onything grow?"
was Peter's reply.
"But does 't raelly dee 't, man?"
"Weel, I've nae rizzon to misdoot the grieve's word; an'
he taul' me that it sent up some cabbage kail 't he try't it on
fernyear like the vera shot o' a gun."
"Man, aw wud like richt weel to try a pucklie o' 't. Mithna
a body gae the length o' takin' the fu' o' a sneeshin pen?"
"Awat ye may tak' a nievefu' on-been miss't," said Peter.
"Gin they wudna think it greedy-like, an 't were kent."
"Feint a fears o' that," answered Peter Birse. "But fat
wye 'II we cairry 't?"
"Ou, that'll be easy deen," said Peter's visitor, shaking
out his crumpled cotton pocket handkerchief, "the dud 'll
haud it fine."
"Weel, it's keerious I didna think o' that, no."
"But wunnin ye tak' a starn yersel'?" asked the stranger.
"Weel — aw dinna differ. I 'se tell the grieve 't we wus
tryin' the quality o' 's ga-ano."
And so Peter next spread out his handkerchief, into which
he put a handful of guano. The samples were duly bestowed
in the coat pockets of the two friends, who then resumed their
journey to the kirk, at which they arrived in due time, highly
pleased with their experiences by the way.
I do not know how far the suggestion may be necessary
that the olfactory nerves of Peter Birse and his friend would
not seem to have been particularly sensitive. But had the
fact been otherwise, it would appear to me highly probable
that the two gentlemen would have had some indications before
they entered the kirk of the likelihood of a perfume
rather more powerful than pleasant proceeding from their
pockets. It would appear, however, that nothing of the sort
had disturbed their reflections; at any rate, the two had
entered and gravely seated themselves before the guano had
cost them a second thought. Things did not remain long in
this quiescent state, however. Mrs. Birse, who seldom came
early, entered next, with Miss Birse. Peter and the stranger
did not rise to put the ladies into the pew, but, according to
use and wont, simply "hirsled yont," and made room for them
at the end of it. Miss Eliza Birse seated herself and sniffed;
then her mother sniffed, and looked first at the floor and then
at her husband. And all at once the situation flashed upon
poor Peter's mind! Yes, he did feel the odour of the guano;
and the man before him, who had turned half round and
looked into Peter's pew, evidently felt it too. Samie Pikshule,
who was going along the "pass" to shut the door, felt
it, and stopped short with an inquiring glance around him, and
it was said by those near him that Samuel uttered something
about "some chiel comin' there wi' a foumart in 's pouch,
stechin up the kirk." But what could Clinkstyle do? There
he was, shut into the top of the pew, and the service going
on. To rise and force his way out would be to proclaim his
predicament more widely; for he would without fail perform
the function of censer to the congregation all the way to the
door. And then it would be of no use unless he took his
friend with him.
I have no real delight in cruelty to animals, and will not
enlarge upon the agony endured by Peter Birse during the
sermon. He had no doubt whatever that Mrs. Birse knew
him to be guilty — his own imploring look had betrayed him
there. He fancied that the eyes of the whole congregation
were fixed upon him, and he verily believed that Mr. Sleekaboot
was directing part of his observations towards him
personally. The stranger, who seemed to be a placid man,
sat perfectly unmoved. On the whole, the incident, which of
course, got abroad pretty generally among the people of
Pyketillim, did not tend to secure increased respect for
Peter; and it may be added that he was once or twice
thereafter judiciously reminded of it by his spouse, as an
illustration of the necessity for a more discreet head than his
own to decide, at any rate in all matters of breeding and
etiquette. Thus far on the social aspect of the question.
Peter's sole defence when put to it was, that he never for a
moment supposed he could be wrong in following the example
of his visitor, who, moreover, was a distant relative of Mrs.
Birse; and that neither of them dreamt that "the ga-ano cud
hae hed sic a rank kneggum."
To his surprise Mrs. Birse replied, with not a little solemnity,
"Weel-a-wat, ye needna be supris't nor it be a jeedgmeat
o' ye for brakin' the Sabbath."
EVER since the time of his visit to the Wells in 1839,
Johnny Gibb had been applying his mind more actively
than before to the current ecclesiastical questions. The conversation
of his Marnoch friend had given him an impetus in
that direction, which occasional epistolary communications
from the same quarter, with accounts of the exciting intrusionist
scenes enacted there, as recorded in the newspapers, had
served to prolong and intensify. And whereas Johnny's
"burden" against a jolly and ease-loving clergy had previously
partaken very much of the nature of a general denunciation
of them as "dumb dogs who cannot bark," he had
now learnt clearly to distinguish between "Moderates" and
"Evangelicals," and these words were frequently on his lips.
In the person of Mr. Sleekaboot, moreover, Johnny deemed
that he found the very incarnation of moderatism. This fact
set the worthy man terribly on edge, and as the sounds of
controversy in the church courts fell ever and anon on his
wakeful ears, he felt it only the more incumbent on him to
stand boldly up for the good cause. His right-hand man in
this crisis was Roderick M'Aul, the souter at Smiddyward,
and it so happened that about the date now reached in my
narrative, the Rev. Alister Macrory, whom the souter had
known in his youth, and of whose gifts and piety he had
a good opinion, but who, by some mischance, had hitherto
failed in getting tied to any parish in particular, was passing
through the region, and felt that he could not do less than
call upon his old acquaintance, by whom he was hospitably
entertained. Johnny Gibb, of course, was asked over to enjoy
the visitor's conversation; and it then occurred to the two
friends that as the Rev. Alister Macrory was not particularly
pressed for time they might retain his services for a few weeks,
and give the parishioners of Pyketillim the opportunity for
once of hearing the Gospel preached. It was an easy matter
to secure the use of Sandy Peterkin's school for the purpose,
and it was secured accordingly.
The school at Smiddyward was not an imposing structure,
either as regards external appearance or interior decoration.
It was straw-thatched, with the door halved transversely, and
not longitudinally; and inside there were desks and seats of
a very plain sort for about forty pupils. The roof was an
"open" one, with the "wood work" quite "visible" (so far as
the accumulation of soot thereon admitted), and not less so
the "divots" that overlaid it. There Sandy Peterkin bore
rule. His school, let me say, was thriving in a way that fully
equalled Sandy's most sanguine expectations. I don't think,
however, that these were very extravagant. The first of Mr.
Macrory's services had been held in the school on a week-day
evening, with an audience that half filled the place; and the
event had caused no little talk in the parish. Johnny Gibb
"presented," a service which the older parishioners could recollect
his having occasionally performed, on emergencies, in the
parish kirk, many long years ago; and the energetic oratory
of Mr. Macrory, without any "paper" to aid him therein, was
fitted to startle, apart altogether from the matter, by the very
contrast it presented to the perfectly unimpassioned performance
of Mr. Sleekaboot, as he read over once more the
well-thumbed MS., which the more attentive parishioners
knew so well by head-mark that they could give you day and
date of its last preaching, and also predict, with tolerable accuracy,
the next time it would be put to the same use. But
the Rev. Alister Macrory, albeit a little uncouth and violent
in his manner, and given to shaking his fist and staring
directly forward at a particular point in his audience, as if he
wanted to single you out individually to be preached at, was,
to all appearance, a man really in earnest, and the general
impression made by his discourses was something new in the
Now, it so happened that at the very time Mrs. Birse withdrew
her hopeful younger son, Benjie, from the pedagogic rule
of Jonathan Tawse, one or two little incidents had occurred
fitted to stagger that eminently prudent matron, and even to
some extent to shake her belief in the human race generally.
Miss Birse had spent the winter in Aberdeen, in attendance
on a fashionable ladies' seminary; and, let me say it, had been
wonderfully successful in picking up that uneasy polish, and
those stilted conventional phrases that lend such a charm to
the manner of our proper and properly trained young ladies.
She was coming home "finished" in a style that should make
her an acquisition in the best society in the parish. So thought
her mamma; and the idea had occurred to her, that, as
Eliza had boarded with a distant relative whose hospitality
was deemed amply repaid by the presentation of a "half-stane
kebbuckie," once for all, with a dozen of eggs, and a pound or
two of butter every month, when fresh linen was despatched
to the interesting young lady, Benjie might be sent to some
school of classic repute, and fill his sister's vacated place as a
lodger on the same terms. Mrs. Birse was scandalised when
the ungrateful people made it known that they "cudna tak' a
countra loon on nae accoont — they had owre mony mou's to
fill o' their nain;" and she was more than scandalised at the
"dryness" exhibited by them towards Eliza at parting, when
the goodman of the house, as it seemed, had had to carry her
"things" past Kittybrewster to the "Flyboat" house, and to
supplement for Miss Birse the sixpence she was short of her
fare homeward by that admirable medium of communication.
"I'm seer fowk wudna ken fat to dee to keep doon the ill
crap o' some creaturs. Fan they war onfeelin aneuch to try
a pawrent's hert b' refeesin the laddie, peer innocent, they
notna 'a latten oot their breath upo' her; mony a bare aneuch
day has she kent wi' them; an' weel may seem — her vera
frocks needin' takin' in to keep them onfa'en aff o' her body.
An' she hedna bed bawbees to get pieces till'ersel' files, oot
o' sicht o' their bairns, aw div not believe but she wud 'a gotten
a mischief o' hunger."
So said Mrs. Birse, in her indignation.
However, as Benjie could not be transferred to Aberdeen,
a dilemma had occurred; and during its continuance Master
Benjamin, as has been said, seemed in nowise indisposed to
enjoy rural life; in such forms as, for example, those of walking
with Tam Meerison at the plough for hours, and riding the
pony to water and back, and grooming it, despite the warnings
of his mother as to the degrading tendency of such occupations
on a young man destined to learned pursuits. His
next elder brother being intended for the farm, it mattered
less how his education was picked up. So things had gone
on for some weeks, when all of a sudden Mrs. Birse announced
that Benjie was to be sent to Sandy Peterkin to continue his
studies. Peter Birse, senior, shook his head dubiously and
protested. But Mrs. Birse was firm. Finding sundry other
arguments unavailing, Peter urged —
"But, ye ken, Sandy disna preten' to be claer o' the Laitin
'imsel', 'oman; an' ye cudna expeck him to leern't weel till
"An' fat for no? There's fowk preten's to be claer upon 't
that mak's but a peer shot at leernin ithers."
"Ou, but ye ken Maister Tawse hedna Benjie lang."
"An' hedna he Jock Ogg, the gauger's loon, haill twa year
at it; an' aifter a', his peer fader was forced to pack 'im awa'
to the sea. The fient a flee hed he leern't but a lot o' ill tricks
an' lees; for 's nain gweed-mither taul' me out o' 'er ain mou.
An' that aul', greedy, sneeshinie howffin gaen on chairgin an
ondeemas soom for skweel fees a' the time. A bonnie story
to say that the peer innocent was feingyin fan he tyeuk a
drow. Jist his nain strunge mainner an' ill natur' 't flegs the
"Weel, I'm maist seer the minaister'll be ill pleas't," continued
"An' fat raiks? It'll be lang ere ye be made fat aff o' him!
I'm seer they gat twa as gweed hens as ever swally't black
dist fae this toon at Aul' Yeel. But I b'lieve, though they hed
a' the upsettin' trash i' the pairis at the Manse i' the coorse o'
the winter, we never bruik breid wi' them."
"But it wudna dee to offen' the minaister, ye ken — gin
fowk war in tribble or onything" —
"Peter Birse, fat are ye raelly thinkin' aboot? Fat has that
to dee wi' the edication o' fowk's bairns? Maister Sleekaboot
may be a gweed aneuch man in 's ain place, an' he war latt'n
aleen b' 's nain 't ocht to ken better. Leddies! — they wud need
it! But the peer man 's siclike led, 't aw raelly believe it 's
the trowth that Gushetneuk says that he does not preach the
"Keep me, 'oman, I won'er at ye speakin' that gate. His
preachin' 's a hantle better nor we practeese."
"Ou, I daursay some fowk's but speakin' the trowth fan
they say that; but he's a rael wor'dly-min'et person."
"Hoot, I'm seer ye ken he's a weel-meanin' man, an' a
"Aweel, gin he get's nain cronies a' richt, he winna care
fat the affcasts dee! — hm! So ye'II jist gae doon wi' me the
nicht to the skweel at Smiddyward. We can see Sandy Peterkin
aboot Benjie; an' there's to be a preachin' i' the skweel i'
the evenin', by ane Macrory fae the wast kwintra. They say
he's weel worth the hearin', an' we 'se jist bide an' get a word
fae 'im."
It was in vain for Peter to remonstrate. Mrs Birse had
found cause of offence in both Mr. Sleekaboot and Jonathan
Tawse, and she was resolved to open a campaign against
both. Jonathan would be punished by the conclusive withdrawal
of her sons from his school, and sending them to that
of his rival; and she knew that by their going to hear an
itinerant preacher, Mr. Sleekaboot would be at once incensed
in a high degree, which would be likely to give opportunity for
at least reminding him, as she knew how, of his shortcomings
in tending his flock.
It was on the evening appointed for the second sermon or
address that the goodwife of Clinkstyle led her reluctant
spouse down to Smiddyward. Their business with Sandy
Peterkin was easily despatched, Sandy, who honestly confessed
that his classics were a little rusted, undertaking to do
the best he could with Benjie; and they were then free to attend
the meeting.
"Ou ay, it's a prayer meetin' the nicht," said Sandy Peterkin,
when Mrs. Birse had announced her intention. "I'm
gaen awa' to pit up the lichts — they'll he gedderin eenoo.
Ye'll jist sit still at the fireside here. I winna be a minute in
bein' back."
Sandy groped in his aumry till he got hold of two penny
candles, one of which he put in a tin candlestick, while he
stuck the lower end of the other into a turnip suitably excavated.
He lighted one of them, and when he had sidled
away out, endeavouring to keep the wind from it until he
should reach the school, Peter Birse made a last despairing
appeal to his wife.
"Keep's, 'oman, did ye hear that?"
"Hear fat?"
"Sandy says it's a prayer meetin', an' nae a preachin'."
"Weel, an' fat for no?"
"Ye seerly winna gang till 't than?"
"There'll naebody tak' a bite o' 's though we dee."
"Hoot, 'oman, it's owre sairious for jokin'. It's as ill's
the vera missionars. There wus never the like heard o' in
this pairis."
"This pairis! humph! This pairis is some mark or than no."
"Fat will the minaister say, an' my airs gweed-breeder ane
o' his el'ers?"
Peter's remonstrances were cut short by the return of
Sandy Peterkin, who announced that they were now "feckly
gedder't." So at his goodwife's beck and bidding, and in the
circumstances, as to public facts, and general feeling, which he
had accurately described, Clinkstyle had to do his conscience
the direct violence involved in attending a prayer meeting.
When they entered, the audience was found to consist
mainly of women and young people, though, as far as might
be seen by the dim candle light, there were six or eight grownup
men present.
Mr. Macrory conducted the opening services, and then
read and expounded a chapter, making sundry very pointed
applications; and leaving it to be clearly understood that the
cold morality which was droned into the ears of the people
from Sabbath to Sabbath, was of no avail to save either the
teacher or the taught from everlasting perdition. The sort of
direct onslaught, both in word and look, in which the speaker
indulged, made Peter Birse feel a good way short of perfectly
comfortable; and, judging by appearances, others of his
neighbours could have dispensed with some small part of Mr.
Macrory's energy, without complaining. As for Mrs. Birse,
she at once adopted an air of edifying demureness; and took
care to sidle up far enough to be full in sight of Johnny and
Mrs. Gibb, who were seated near by the preacher, their
servants, Jinse Deans and Willy M'Aul, with "the lassie,"
occupying the seat next behind them. Mr. Macrory had
finished his exposition; he gave out a psalm to be sung, and
then, when the singing was concluded, in a very audible and
deliberate tone announced that "Our brother, Mr. M'Aul, will
engage in prayer." There was a sort of electric start among
a considerable part of the audience at this intimation, as much
as to say, "The souter engage in prayer!" And, no doubt, if
they had known the ancient adage primarily applying to men
of his calling, they would have mentally repeated it. All the
same they felt the sentiment therein expressed. It had beforetime
been bruited abroad that Roderick M'Aul kept up
family worship daily, and two or three customers who had at
sundry times accidentally stumbled in when he was about to
commence, had gone through sensations which they were shy
of attempting to describe, on being asked by Roderick to join
in the devotions. But that Roderick M'Aul should stand up
before a public audience, and offer up prayer — Roderick
M'Aul, who was just a souter, and with not a shred of clerical
character about him — the thing was so utterly beyond the
scope of the most fervid imagination among the general body
of the parishioners of Pyketillim, that not only did several of
the audience at the meeting, besides Peter Birse, feel in some
doubt whether they stood with their heads or their heels uppermost,
but the news of what had occurred spread rapidly
through the parish next day. The deed was declared by
several to be "daurin," and by quite as great a number to be
Nevertheless, the example set by the souter did not, I
think, fail in having its effects. If the simple and fervent,
albeit slightly ungrammatical, utterance of the devotional
feelings within him had the effect of dumfoundering and
scandalising some, there were others of his audience that
were impressed in a more wholesome way; and among these
was Johnny Gibb, who went home with the honest conviction
in his breast that Roderick M'Aul was a better man than
himself. "For," said Johnny, "he 's ready to confess Christ
afore men aifter a fashion that I hae never mintit to dee yet."
OF course, Mr. Sleekaboot was speedily made acquainted
with the operations of the Rev. Alister Macrory at
Smiddyward; but he took it all very coolly. There had been
ranting fanatics in the world long before now, and there
would no doubt be so to the end of time, said the Rev. Mr.
At the quarterly "distribution," when all the bawbees
gathered by the "brod" for the by-gone three months were to
be fully reckoned and apportioned, the elders met at the
Manse; and each got his share to pay over to the various recipients
— quiet, and not particularly uncomfortable old "bodies"
of both sexes; real old residenters, not your modern paupers of
the clamorous, thriftless, and unsatisfied sort. And this part
of their duty the Session discharged with creditable assiduity,
and even more than creditable humanity. Have I not seen
Mains of Yawal, who lived farthest from the kirk, time after
time, carrying home his portion of the offering, all too bulky
to go into any pouch he had, carefully enclosed in his blue-spotted
"pocket-napkin," and dangling in his hand with solid
weight? And he would thereafter go his round, be it fair
night or foul, to see Saun'ers Tapp, and Lizzy Glegg, and
their ancient contemporaries, and all to give to each his or
her due share of the offering bawbees.
But, meanwhile, I am not concerned with the details of
the distribution. Sometimes when the elders met to arrange
for it at the Manse — though, I daresay, this formed no part
of the res gestæ to be minuted by Jonathan Tawse — the sederunt
would be wound up by a quiet glass of toddy. Such
was the case at the distribution meeting that occurred just
two nights after Mr. Macrory's meeting at Smiddyward.
And the elders were all present, with the exception of Clinkstyle's
sister's husband, Braeside. Of course the subject of
the prayer meeting came up.
"An' fa div ye think sud 'a been there hearin' this ranter
but Clinkstyle an' 's wife?" said Mains of Yawal.
"Poor man, poor man," answered Mr. Sleekaboot, with a
smile. "I fancy he had hardly been left to the freedom of
his own will in the matter."
"Deed I can believe yer richt there, sir," said Mr. Tawse,
taking a heavy pinch of snuff. "That wife o' his is a perfect
"Oh — I presume she heckled you when she withdrew her
precious son from the school."
"For that maitter I can usually gi'e as gweed as I get,"
said Mr. Tawse. "But she's a rude, vulgar hizzie, natheless;
an' for the loon, I never ruggit the lugs o' a more complete
"Did you venture to tell that in the audience of the maternal
ears, Jonathan?" asked the minister, the jocularity of
the query being shared in by only the dominie and himself,
as the rest of the company failed to catch its flavour, couched
in such refined English.
"Deed, I believe I fell little short o' 't. But what was that ye
was sayin', Mains, aboot this fanatic, Macrory, settin' the souter
to gi'e a prayer at the meetin' in Sawney Peterkin's hovel?"
"Oh, it was fat they ca' a prayer meetin'; an' aifter he
hed roar't on for a file 'imsel', he cries oot 'Some broder 'll
engaige noo;' fan up startit the souter an' gya them a screed
o' 't by ordinar'. Severals o' them hed been sair pitten oot
aboot it, aw'm thinkin'."
"An' little won'er," quoth Teuchitsmyre, the other new
elder, who was a fat, red-nosed man, with a very thick neck.
"Ta'en a fup to them wud 'a sair't them richt."
"An' heard you who all were present?" asked Mr. Sleekaboot.

"Weel, aw'm thinkin' Gushetneuk an' 's wife, forbye, 's I
was sayin', the fowk o' Clinkstyle. The lave wud be feckly
the aul' wives aboot the Ward, an' maybe a fyou young fowk."
"Did John Gibb take any part?"
"Eh — aw didna hear that said; but he's been ane o' the
heid deesters aboot feshin this Macrory to the pairt."
"A fractious, heidstrong creatur," said Jonathan Tawse.
"But there's some brains in 'im tee; that was aye my
"He's too anxious to make himself and his opinions prominent,"
answered Mr. Sleekaboot.
"It was a great mistak' in you, Mr. Sleekaboot — savin'
the presence o' Mains an' Teuchitsmyre — to keep Gushets
an' the souter oot o' the el'ership."
"How, how — men who act thus?"
"Ou ay, but an' they hed been made pillars i' the kirk, like
the lave o' 's, ye wud hae heard less o' ony sic divisive coorses,
depen' ye upon 't," said the dominie.
"I don't know; we" —
"My dear sir, fan did ever ye hear o' an el'er in the parish
o' Pyketillim gaen aboot a kwintra side cantin' an' prayin', as
this souter does, it seems? An', tak' ye my word for 't, ye'll hae
Gushetneuk followin' 's example neist."
"Well, but Mr. Tawse," said the minister, evidently disposed
to get very serious on the point, "as I was saying, and
as you know, we must take good care for the order of the
Church. There can be nothing more perilous to the peace of
our Zion than the presence of unbridled spirits in office within
her bosom. And I, in the position of spiritual head of this
parish, I being responsible alike to the Presbytery and the
patron, Sir Simon Frissal, I would never for a moment brook
the revolutionary opinions held by those men."
"Ye're vera richt, Maister Sleekaboot — vera richt," said
Mains, with great emphasis. He was getting hot and red in
the face; and I think had by this time based his opinion on a
tolerably wide induction, when, suddenly changing the theme,
and emptying his glass, he added, "Nyod that's capital
Teuchitsmyre nodded approvingly, and said, "It's the
rael Glendronach, seerly."
"Weel, weel, as ye please, sir," replied Mr. Tawse. "I
was half jokin', ye ken. But ye canna won'er though a sair-dung
dominie sud try to save 's nain credit by sayin' that it
mitha been worth while, as a stroke o' policy, till hae latten
Clinkstyle on to the el'ership."
"He would have been in nowise a more efficient member
of session than his excellent relative, Braeside."
"Neen, neen — jist sax i' the ane an' half-a-dizzen i' the
ither. Baith hairmless breets. But ye see Braeside hasna an
ambitious wife — 'D' ye see my drift? Hooever, to pass fae
that point, I think ye raelly ocht, in some way, to tak' an order
o these fanatics."
"Of Gibb and M'Aul?"
"Na, na; ye had better lat ill aleen there. But it mithna
be difficult to frichten Peterkin fae gi'ein' that bit hole to lat
them meet in."
"Well; it'll die out. There has been in all ages of the
Christian Church, as I have said, an ever recurring tendency,
especially among the unlearned, to lapse into fanaticism;
though the admirable organisation and discipline of our own
Church have effectually repressed serious outbreaks at all
"An' may it be for ever sae," said Jonathan Tawse. "But
fat are ye to mak' o' a' this uncanny steer o' the Non-intrusion
pairty i' the kirk? Ye'll hae some difficulty cæteris paribus,
in disciplinin' the major pairt o' the Kirk itsel'."
"Ay, Mr. Tawse," said the minister, with a half chuckle,
"but it's not a case of cæteris paribus, my good friend. There
is such a thing as the law of the land, and the civil power.
With that at our back, we need never fear the hot-headed
party in the Church. Keep yourself easy."
"Ou, it winna brak' my rest, sir. But I dinna muckle like
the luik o' these bits o' collisions atween the spiritual poo'er,
as they ca' 't, an' the civil: siclike as in the by-gone case o'
Lethendy; an' syne, nearer han' hame, at Marnoch; whaur, in
the first case, the Coort o' Session steps in to interdict a sattlement
by a Presbytery; an' in the neist its aid is requir't to
force an unacceptable presentee on a congregation. An', of
course, I needna speak o' the starshie sinsyne still nearer oor
ain door, at Culsalmond, wi' the goodman o' Teetaboutie."
"Well, I have you there, Jonathan. General arguments
are never so convincing as special facts. I'm glad that the
brethren in Strathbogie had the firmness to endeavour to
vindicate the just rights of presentees. Here you have an instance
in my own case. When I had the honour of receiving
a presentation from Sir Simon to the Parish of Pyketillim, I
met a very cold reception, let me tell you, from the people. I
don't believe that, but for the personal presence of Sir Simon
— with whom, though I say it myself, I stood high from the
first — half-a-dozen people in the parish would have signed
the call then. Now, I'm sure, there's not half-a-dozen in the
whole parish who would not sign it."
"I'm seer o' that, sir," said Mains of Yawal; and Teuchitsmyre's
whole body gave a confirmatory "hitch."
"So much for the popular voice — nothing could be more
delusive," added Mr. Sleekaboot, with an air of something
like triumph.
I do not know that the Rev. Jonathan Tawse would have
disputed this last sentiment at any rate; but inasmuch as he
in his own case had not been so fortunate as Mr. Sleekaboot
in finding a backer to enable him to get over the initial unpopularity
incidental to him as a preacher, there was not
exactly identity of feeling between him and his respected
minister on this particular point. Therefore Jonathan took
snuff afresh, refilled his tumbler, and incontinently turned the
conversation to topics more congenial to Mains and Teuchitsmyre,
who, being unable to follow the high argument that the
two divines had got into, had contented themselves by listening
with as much of an elderlike and interested air as they
could manage to assume.
The weather, and the markets for grain and live stock,
subjects of common interest, and on which the whole party
could speak with practical intelligence, were discussed ad
longam, during the latter part of the evening.
The case put by Mr. Sleekaboot, and which had brought
the ecclesiastical part of the conversation to a close, had
been, all through the early part at least of the Ten Years'
Conflict his standing illustration of the utter fallaciousness of
the Non-intrusion principle. He had quoted it repeatedly to
his brethren, as well as to outsiders, and had even ventured
to direct the attention of Sir Simon Frissal to it. Sir Simon
had signified his approval, and added, "Yes, yes, your style
was very poor, indeed," whereat Mr. Sleekaboot was much
Now, it so happened in course of this very spring of 1842,
and not many weeks after the "distribution," that Johnny Gibb
was jogging home on a market night on his trusty grey pony,
and whom should he overtake but the Rev. Andrew Sleekaboot,
jogging home too, from the Presbytery. Johnny's
principle of action, as regarded differences between himself
and others, was always to "dunt it oot" as he went along. Consequently,
when he and Mr. Sleekaboot met, Johnny hailed
the minister as freely and frankly as if they had never "cas'en
oot" in their lives. And Mr. Sleekaboot, who had a lingering
suspicion that it might be otherwise, felt once more somewhat
warmed towards his parishioner, of whom he, under the mild
impulse of the moment, almost thought there might be hope
even yet. Johnny was keen on ecclesiastical matters, at any
rate, and perhaps his disposition toward debate had not been
lessened by his share in a friendly gill with a neighbour at
the stabler's, before he took out his "shalt." His questions
about what the Presbytery had been doing, did not elicit
much information, but Mr. Sleekaboot could not help being
dragged into a discussion on the general Church question,
when it became more and more evident to him that Johnny
Gibb was a very distinct and confirmed specimen of the Non-intrusionist.
So he determined for once to floor Johnny.
They had just got to the point where their roads separated,
and they and their "shalts" paused in the gloamin light.
"I tell you it's the greatest delusion in the world. A veto
law against a presentee involves the greatest fallacy as well as
the greatest injustice," and then Mr. Sleekaboot began the
irrefutable illustration, "When I was settled at Pyketillim I
don't believe that I would have got almost any of the parishioners
to have signed the call" —
But here Johnny broke in abruptly —
"An' ye kent it weel, sir; feint a vera mony wud ye get
Mr. Sleekaboot was grievously taken aback. In place of
finishing the statement of his favourite illustration, he said
something about the "insolence of ignorant, uneducated persons,"
whereat Johnny, who had at least equalled his pastor
in the rapidity with which he managed to get up his temper,
retorted in words perhaps more vehement than respectful.
And so they parted — Mr. Sleekaboot riding off toward
the Manse, while Johnny turned the head of the grey "shalt"
in the direction of Gushetneuk.
SIX months after the date of his removal from Gushetneuk,
Tam Meerison had once more to decide on the
question of renewing his engagement with his master, or
seeking a new one. His experiences at Clinkstyle had not
been altogether of the most pleasant sort, whether as regards
his master or mistress or his fellow-servants, and the natural
conclusion would have been that Tam certainly would not
stay longer there. But conclusions in such cases are sometimes
affected by circumstances which it is not so easy to guess
at. A day or two before the feeing market day it had leaked
out that Tam was "bidin," and the fact considerably intensified
the feeling of contempt that his fellow-servants had
been in the habit of occasionally exhibiting towards him.
They had hoped to leave Clinkstyle with "a clean toon"
again, and they were angry at being disappointed. While
Peter Birse manifested his satisfaction by talking more than
usual to Tam, or stalking along for a bit with him at the
plough, the lads lost no opportunity of throwing out a taunt
at his craven resolution; or reminding him of those by-gone
interludes when Mrs. Birse had chosen to express her private
opinion of him and his. Doubtless these taunts were not
pleasant; but I don't know that they weighed most on Tam's
mind at that particular juncture. In point of fact, the state
of Tam's affections, combined with the adverse influences
that seemed to be arraying themselves against him, kept him
in a state of no little anxiety. Tam now bitterly regretted
that pig-headed sense of self-importance on his part, which
had made him, without the shadow of a valid reason, decline
Johnny Gibb's first overture to re-engage him at the previous
term; and thus had earned for him a bad situation in place
of a good one — precisely the course that I have seen many
more of Tam's class follow, to reach exactly the same end.
But this was not all. Tam was seriously in love with Jinse
Deans. Whether Jinse had hitherto reciprocated his passion
in any true sense, I would be loth to venture an opinion. It
was certain she received Tam as a suitor; but it was equally
certain that Tam was not the only person so favoured. Tam
knew this. Nay more, while he had over and over again
met with what he reckoned "slichts" at the hands of his enchantress,
he had an agonising suspicion that Johnny Gibb's
new man, his own successor, and whom Johnny had described
at first sight as a "stoot gudge an' a gatefarrin" was
also "stickin' up" to Jinse. Ah! poor Tam, thou wert truly
out of the frying pan into the fire! Tam had writhed under
and sought to resent the slight scorchings he had to endure
from the youth Willy M'Aul on the subject of his courtship;
next, he had assumed the high horse with Johnny Gibb, and
then left Gushetneuk, a half-repentant man, allowing his
successor to come in and court his sweetheart at leisure.
Whereas, had he remained there still, he would have had
opportunities for baulking competitors which none other could
have had. It was like abandoning a strongly defensive position
in face of the enemy.
So thought Tam Meerison, and his meditations were not
sweet. When the next term approached, Tam accordingly
contrived to get early information about Johnny Gibb's arrangements.
Unhappily for him, his successor at Gushetneuk
was "bidin." "Jist like 'im; inhaudin scoonrel,"
thought Tam. However that might be, Tam had got a little
"bocht wit" on the subject; and he felt that, if he stood at a
certain disadvantage with Johnny Gibb's "stoot gudge," inasmuch
as the gudge, being at Gushetneuk, had so much
readier access to Jinse than he had, being at Clinkstyle; then
if he left Clinkstyle, and ran the risk of having to transport
himself several miles farther off, his position and prospects
would be yet further damaged in proportion to the increased
Therefore it was that Tam Meerison made up his mind to
bear the ills he had, and to remain at Clinkstyle.
Another six months had passed, and left his courtship
much in the same state; but by that time Tam had put his
foot in it, by talking disrespectfully of Master Benjamin
Birse. It was in the kitchen, and, though Tam was not
aware of it, Miss Birse was behind the "inner door," where
we have heard of her being before. What Tam had said
was to the effect that "Benjie was an orpiet, peeakin, little
sinner;" and that he was "fitter to be a dog-dirder, or a
flunkey, nor to gae to the college;" sentiments which —
although they seemed to meet with a rather hearty response
from the audience immediately before him — when retailed to
Benjie's mother, were productive of a storm, that thereafter
burst with no little fury about Tam's ears. Tam's mood, I
fear, had been desperate at any rate, and he now retorted on
Mrs. Birse by somewhat bluntly telling her she "mith be
prood to see 'er loon wi' a pair o' yalla breeks an' a stripet
waistcoat on; it wud be ten faul better nor be a muckle goodman,
wi' a wife that wudna lat 'im ca' 's niz his ain." Mrs.
Birse took this as personal. And when the term came, Tam
left Clinkstyle, half reckless, as it seemed, of his fate; for
surely Jinse's heart was too hard to win, and what else need
he care for!
Tam Meerison had gone off to a distance of over a dozen
miles, and for the next twelve months the region of Pyketillim
saw nothing, and I really believe heard very little of,
and still less from, him. For Tam was not a man of the pen.
He had, indeed, learnt to write a sort of decent small text at
school, but the accomplishment was of wondrous little use to
him. He never wrote letters, except on very pressing emergencies,
and not more than three or four of these had occurred
since he became a man. It was not the mere writing that
dismayed him, it was the composition — "foo to begin" — and
the "backin'." These were the grand obstacles; and Tam's
chief exercise in penmanship had been the occasional copying
of some approved receipt for the composition of blacking for
horse harness, in the way of friendly interchange with a
At the Martinmas of 1841, Johnny Gibb changed his
principal man-servant. The gudge, whose ambition it was to
rise, was leaving on a friendly understanding, with a view to
go to school for a quarter with Sandy Peterkin, to rub the
rust off his literary and arithmetical acquirements, and then
learn the business of a mole-catcher when spring came, and
Johnny promoted Willy M'Aul, now grown a stout lad of over
nineteen, to his place. The gudge had been at the feeing
market, from which he came home at a pretty late hour, and
in high spirits, with sweeties in his pockets, not merely for
Jinse, but for Mrs. Gibb as well, when fit opportunity should
occur for presenting them.
"An' fat's the news o' the market, min?" asked Jinse of
the gudge, who had seated himself at the top of the "deece"
to eat his supper.
"Little o' 't; slack feein'; an' plenty o' drunk fowk."
"The waages doon?"
"Doon! Ay are they. Gweed men feein' at seyvenpun
ten; an' women for oot-wark hardly winnin' abeen a poun'
note. An' dizzens never got an offer."
"It's braw wardles wi' them 't disna need to fee," said
Jinse, with a sly reference to the gudge's hopeful prospects.
"Weel, Jinse, fat encouragement is there to the like o' me
to bide on an' loss my time at fairm wark? Ye may be the
best han' 't ever gaed atween the pleuch stilts, but ye can
never get an ondependent, or sattlet wye o' deein."
"Div ye mean a place o' yer nain?"
"Weel, gin a body cud hae the chance o' gettin' a bit
craftie. But I'll appel to yersel', Jinse — Fat comes o' maist
ilka fairm servan' 't gets a wife?" — (and the gudge looked
sweetly on Jinse) — "they're forc't to tak' to the dargin, an'
gae awa' an' bide aboot the Broch, or some gate siclike."
"But hinna ye nae mair news?" said Jinse, desirous of
turning the conversation.
"In fack, there's nae chance but slave on to the en' o' the
chapter; unless ye win in to some ither wye o' deein in
time," continued the gudge, whose own scheme naturally
occupied a favourable place in his thoughts at the time.
"Hoot, min, gi'e's the news o' the market," said Jinse.
"Weel, fat news wud ye like?"
"Fa's bidin or flittin'?"
"Weel, I didna hear particular. Ye see I was oot o' the
throng a gey file arreengin some things o' my nain."
"Gweeshtens, ye've seerly been sair ta'en up. Didna
ye traffike neen wi' common fowk the day?"
"Ou weel, ye see, fan a body has some bizness o' their
nain to atten' till they're nae sae sair ta'en up wi' fat's gaen
on in general."
"Sawna ye nae bargains made ava?"
"Weel, the only bargain 't aw cud say 't aw saw was Mains
o' Yawal feein' a third horseman. I was in 'o Kirkie's tent
gettin' a share o' a gill wi' a cheelie 't I was ance aboot the
toon wi', fan Mains cam' in, skirpit wi' clubs to the vera neck,
o' 's kwite. I didna ken the chap, naething aboot 'im, but fan
they war jist aboot bargain't, Mains luiks owre an' refars
to me. 'That's an aul' servan' o' mine,' says he to the chap,
'an' ye can speir at him aboot the place.' They hed threepit
on a lang time; but an coorse wus comin' nearer 't afore.
Mains socht the drink, an' at length he bargain't wi' 'im for a
croon oot o' seyven poun' to ca' 's third pair, an' that was the
only bargain 't I saw."
"Did ye see ony o' oor fowk — or hear onything aboot
"I didna see neen o' yer breeders."
"I wud like richt to ken gin they be flittin' or no. Neen o'
Clinkstyle's fowk's bidin, aw reckon?" asked Jinse.
"That's weel min'et," exclaimed the gudge, with some
vivacity. "Bidin! na, nae lickly; but fa div ye think's
comin' there again?"
"Comin' there again? Fa cud tell that — somebody hard
up for a place, seerly?"
"Jist guess."
"Ha! fa cud guess that? like aneuch somebody 't I min'
naething aboot — fowk't's cheengin the feck 't they hae at ilka
"Weel," said the gudge deliberately, "it's jist Tam Meerison!"

The light of Johnny Gibb's old iron lamp, with its one
rush wick, was not brilliant at best; and it had been getting
worse in consequence of the protracted sederunt in which the
gudge had indulged. Therefore, though I rather think Jinse
did start slightly, and colour a little at the intimation just
made by the gudge, I don't think the gudge observed it; and,
truth to say, the gudge himself was a very little agitated.
"Gae 'wa' to yer bed, than, this minute," said Jinse;
"see, ye've keepit me sittin' wytein ye till the vera nethmost
shall o' the lamp's dry."
And the gudge went to his bed accordingly.
THE occasion of a "muckle scholar" coming to the
Smiddyward school was an event of some importance.
And, therefore, when the embryo mole-catcher presented
himself on a Monday morning to meet the scrutiny of the
thirty odd urchins under Sandy Peterkin's charge, there was
a good deal of commotion and whispering. He wore a pair
of moleskin leggings, which extended up to the very thigh
tops, and were there suspended by a little tag of the same
cloth to the side button of his trousers. When he took off his
bonnet his head was seen to be "huddry;" that is, noticeably
huddry for such a civilised place as the inside of a school.
He had been to Andrew Langchafts' shop at the Kirktown,
and had there furnished himself with a "sclate" and skallie,"
a pennyworth of "lang sheet" paper, unruled, and two quills
for pens. These, with an old copy of "the Gray," were the
furnishings for the ensuing scholastic campaign that was to
fit him for entering on the practical study of mole-catching.
"Weel," said the new scholar, laying down his equipments
on the side of the "maister's" desk, "aw'm jist gaun to be the
raith; an' aw wud like to win as far throu' 's aw cud."
"Coontin ye mean?"
"Oh ay; in fack a body canna weel hae owre muckle o'
it at ony rate."
"Fat progress hae ye made in arithmetic?" asked Sandy
The gudge scratched his head for a little; and then,
wetting his thumb, proceeded to turn over the dog-eared
leaves of his "Gray." "Fack I dinna jist min' richt. It's
half-a-dizzen o' year sin' I was at the skweel. That was wi'
Maister Tawse; an' I daursay your wye winna be the same's
his wi' the coontin, mair nor ither things; so it winna maitter
"Ye've been through the simple rules at ony rate," suggested
"Hoot ay; aw 'm seer aw was that. Nyod, I think it was
here-aboot," and the aspirant mole-catcher pointed to the
place on the book.
"Compound Division?" said the "maister," looking at
the page.
"Ay," said the scholar, with a sort of chuckle, "but aw'm
nae sayin' 't aw cud work it noo — aw wud better begin nearer
the beginnin'."
"Weel — maybe Reduction."
"That wud dee fine. It's an ill-to-work rowle, an' I
never oon'ersteed it richt wi' Maister Tawse. Aw won'er gin
aw cud win as far throu's wud mak' oot to mizzour aff an
awcre or twa o' grun, or cast up the wecht o' a hay soo?"
"That'll depen' o' your ain diligence," said Sandy Peterkin,
with a smile.
"Weel, I ance was neepours wi' a chap 't cud 'a deen that,
as exact's ye like; an' he not nae leems till 't, nedderin, but
jist a mason's tape line 't he hed i' the locker o' 's kist."
"It's quite possible to dee that wi' a marked line," answered
the dominie.
"It's richt eesefu' the like o' that," said the gudge, "an
fan a body's gyaun aboot like, they wud aye be gettin' 't adee
noo an' than, and cudna hardly foryet the wye. Noo, Maister
Tawse wud never lat's try naething o' that kin', 'cep we hed
first gane throu' a great heap o' muckle rowles; an' that
disna dee wi' the like o' huz 't hisna lang time at a skweel."
"An' fat ither lessons wud ye like to tak'?" asked the
"Ye ken best; only it was for the coontin 't I cam'; an'
leernin to mak' oot accoonts maybe."
"We hae a grammar class noo — wud ye try it?"
"Na, na; aw winna fash wi' 't," said the gudge, with a decisive
shake of the head. "It's nae for common fowk ava
that gremmar."
"Maybe geography than. I've a gweed chart on the wa'
here 't ye cud get a skance o' the principal countries upon
vera shortly."
"Weel, but is 't o' ony eese to the like o' me, that geography?
I wunna lickly be gyaun to forrin pairts."
If there was one branch more than another on which
Sandy Peterkin set a high value, and on which, as a travelled
man, he loved to descant, it was geography. So he pressed
its importance, and a dubious consent was given to trying an
hour at it once a-week, it being understood that the future
mole-catcher would not be subject to the "catechis" lesson
on Saturdays. Then, as he had a suspicion that his new
pupil was not too well up in his general literature, Sandy
suggested the propriety of his taking a reading lesson.
"Na; aw hardly think 't I'll fash wi' that edder," was the
reply. "I was never that deen ill at the readin', an' I was i'
the muckle Bible class afore aw leeft the skweel."
"But ye maybe hinna read muckle sinsyne; an' ye wud
get a lot o' usefu' information i' the Collection lesson."
"But the like o' me's nae needin' to read like the minaister,"
said the muckle scholar, with a laugh, "an' it wud gar 's
loss a hantle o' time fae the coontin. An 'oor at that, an'
syne the vreetin — the day wud be deen in a han' clap, afore
a body cud get oot mair nor a question or twa."
However, Sandy succeeded in persuading him to take the
"Collection" lesson. When the lesson came, he did not like
to bid him stand up among a dozen urchins so much smaller
than himself. The muckle scholar sat with his sturdy legs
crowded in below the incommodious desk. He floundered
through his turn at reading in a style at which his junior
class-fellows did not always conceal their mirth. But he was
too self-centred to be particularly thin-skinned, and Sandy
Peterkin was indulgent, even to the extent of taking care that
the graceless young rapscallions should spell every hard word
in the muckle scholar's hearing, while Sandy spared him
such trials; albeit he improved the time when the gudge's
turn came by a short homily on the importance of attention
to correct spelling. Then would our mature class-fellow
seize his "sclate," and gravely set on to the piecemeal solution
of "the Gray," from which occupation it was found that
none of the ordinary devices would distract him. And at
writing time, when the dominie sat in his desk, knife in hand,
with a chevaux de frise of quill feathers, held in idle or mischief-loving
hands, surrounding his nose as he diligently
mended, or new-made, pens for a score of writers, the muckle
scholar spread himself to his task, and grimly performed his
writing exercise. He would also at times stay after the
school was dismissed, and get the benefit of Sandy Peterkin's
private instructions for an hour or so.
In short, there could be no doubt that the gudge would
pass into the world again, accomplished beyond many of his
contemporaries; and thereafter he could hardly fail of attaining
something of distinction in his destined walk, and with
that distinction the attendant emoluments.
As Johnny Gibb's late servant moved about Smiddyward
(he had got boarded and lodged, for the time, with Widow
Will), he could not help reflecting on these things; and it
occurred to him that in his own person he presented a very
eligible matrimonial bargain for any well-disposed young
woman. And why should he not look over occasionally to
Gushetneuk, to keep up his friendly relations with Johnny
and Mrs. Gibb, and let Jinse Deans know how expansive a
place the world was to men of enterprise. I rather think that
Jinse still needed a little contrivance now and then to prevent
undesirable rencontres between certain of her sweethearts.
And this was the real explanation which the gudge, who was
a simple soul, and still loved to indulge in late sittings, ought
to have got to account for the peremptoriness with which he
had been once or twice ordered to his home. But Jinse condescended
to no explanations on what seemed her capricious
treatment of the lad. And, of course, Jinse could not help
what might emerge beyond the range of her influence.
So it happened that on a certain evening when the gudge
had got himself comfortably "fixed up" on the smiddy hearth,
and was talking away full swing in a half-oracular sort of
style to several other lads, his old rival Tam Meerison came
in with a long stack of plough irons on his shoulder to be
sharpened. Tam first threw off his burden with a heavy
clank; then after saluting the smith, lifted it into the glowing
light of the fire at the edge of the hearth, and, with a hammer
he had laid hold of, proceeded to knock the piled coulters
and socks out of connection with each other. He next
glanced across the hearth, and, without addressing any body
very directly, exclaimed — "'Wa' oot o' that; ye've been
birslin yer shins lang aneuch there." The gudge's lessons
probably required his attention about that particular period
of the evening. At any rate he soon found that his time
would not permit further loitering in the smiddy just then.
Tam took the vacated place on the hearth, and lighted his
pipe with every appearance of satisfaction. He had just done
so when the smith, who was not unaware apparently of the
relations between the two, wickedly endeavoured to blow the
flame of jealousy, by waggishly informing Tam of the hopeful
prospects of his rival.
"Tak' moles!" quoth Tam, whose manner had evidently
progressed of late in the direction of brusqueness. "I wud
as seen ca' stinkin' fish wi' a horse worth auchteenpence."
"Hoot, min, but he's gyaun to get Jinse Deans for 's wife
fanever his apprenticeship's throe'," said the smith.
"Hah, hah, ha-a-a," roared Tam, with a loud laugh.
"It's been to help 'im wi' that that he heeld in wi' Johnny
Gibb sae lang."
"I wudna won'er," said the smith. "But she's a muckle
thocht o' 'oman, Jinse. They speak o' lads comin' back to
the place, aifter they've gane hyne awa', jist for her sake —
that's a greater ferlie seerly. Fat wud ye say to that?"
"Fat! That they're great geese. Na, na, smith, 'The
back o' ane's the face o' twa;' that's the style for me. Hah,
hah, ha!"
"An' ye hinna been at Gushetneuk than, sin' ye cam' back
to the quarter?"
"Nane o' yer jaw, min. Min' yer wark there, an' gi'e that
sock a grippie o' yird. Clinkies likes his stibbles weel riven
up; an' the set 't he hed hed wi' 'im afore the term's been
makin' bonny wark till 'im i' the back-faulds."
"Ou, I thocht young Peter an' him atween them wud a'
manag't to keep them richt — nae to speak o' yer aul' freen the
"I wuss ye hed jist seen the place than. Nae the vera
pattle shafts but wus broken, an' the harness grey an' green
for wunt o' cleanin'. I b'lieve the wife was at them aboot
that, an' got jist a richt nizzen for ance i' the wye o' ill jaw."
"Ye wudna dee the like o' that, Tam?"
"Sang, she'll better nae try 't though. But a body's mad
to see the wye 't they hed been guidin' the beasts. Yon's a
snippit horsie 't was i' the secont pair — yon young beastie —
jist clean spoil't. He was some skittish at ony rate, an' the
chap hed laid upon 'im an' twistet 'im wi' the ryne till he's a'
spoil't i' the mou' completely; an' I'm seer he hed latt'n 'im
oot amon' 's han's i' the theets, for ye cudna lippen till 'im as
lang's ye wud turn yer fit. Clinkies gar't me tak' 'im an' pit
'im on to the muckle broon horse, to try an' steady 'im. But
I can tell ye it's nae gryte job haein' to dee wi' ither fowk's
botch't wark."
"Deed no, Tam; but I've nae doot ye'll dee yer best
wi' 't. I' the meanwhile ye mith gi'e me a chap to tak' doon
the point o' the coulter a bit."
Tam put his pipe in his waistcoat pocket, and started to
the fore-hammer with the greatest promptitude.
ON a certain afternoon, about a week before the Whitsunday
term of 1842, Johnny Gibb, who had been busy
afield, came toddling home when the afternoon was wearing
on, and went into the "mid-house," to look out sundry blue-checked
cotton bags with turnip seed, for he meditated sowing
of that valued root. He was hot and tired, and his spouse
invited him to rest for a little on the deece. Would he take a
drink of ale?
"Ay will aw, 'oman," said Johnny, "an' ye hae 't at han'.
Lat's see the caup there."
Mrs. Gibb obeyed the command, and Johnny drank of the
reaming liquor with evident satisfaction.
"Rest ye a minit than, an' drink oot the drap; for ye've
never devall't the haill day,"said Mrs. Gibb; and saying so,
she "lean't her doon," with some intention apparently of
entering on a confab with her husband.
"Are ye thinkin' o' gyaun doon to the market on Wednesday?"
asked she, with that kind of air which seems directly
to provoke an interrogatory answer; and Johnny at once exclaimed

"No; foo are ye speerin that? Ye ken 't baith the boys
is bidin: I've nae erran'."
"Ye never think o' speerin aboot Jinse," replied Mrs.
Gibb, still in the key that suggested the necessity for an explanatory
"Jinse Deans!" exclaimed Johnny. "Fat's the eese o'
speerin at her? An' she binna pleas't wi' 'er waages, she wud
seerly 'a tell't ye lang ere noo."
"I doot it's nae the waages a'thegither, peer 'oman. But
Jinse's needin' awa'."
Mrs. Gibb had evidently made up her mind now to give
some further explanation about this new movement, when,
as Fate would have it, the colloquy was broken in upon by
Jinse (who had been unaware of her master's presence there)
herself at the moment stumbling into the kitchen, from which
she had been temporarily absent.
"Fat haiver 's this 't ye've ta'en i' yer heid noo?" demanded
Johnny, addressing Jinse. "Are ye gyaun clean gyte to
speak o' leavin' yer place; and it only an ouk fae the term
tee? Faur wud ye gae till?"
"Hame to my mither's," answered Jinse, exhibiting somewhat
of discomposure at Johnny's vehemence.
Jinse's mother lived not far off Benachie, in a very unpretentious
"An' fat on the face o' the creation wud ye dee gyaun
hame? — yer mither's but a peer 'oman; she has little need
o' you wi' 'er," said Johnny.
Jinse who was making, on the whole, an uneasy defence,
averred that her mother "wasna vera stoot."
"But is she wuntin you hame?" was Johnny's demand.
"Tell me that."
Here Jinse gave symptoms of breaking into tears, and
Mrs. Gibb interposed with a "Hoot, man! ye're aye sae
ramsh wi' fowk."
"Weel, weel," quoth Johnny, as he seized his bonnet and
marched towards the door ; "ye're a' alike. Fa wud ken fat
ye wud be at!"
I don't know that Johnny Gibb meant to include his wife.
The reference was rather to the class to which Jinse belonged,
though, no doubt, he went away with the conviction that
womenkind in general are absurdly impracticable in their
ways. But be that as it may, Johnny found that he had to
provide a new servant lass.
In private audience Jinse Deans revealed to Mrs. Gibb,
with many sighs and tears, that Tam Meerison had "promis't
to marry her." What more I don't know; but the worthy
goodwife, after scolding Jinse as severely as it was in her
nature to do, told her to "wash her face, an' nae mair o' that
snifterin. An' gae awa' and get ready the sowens. I'se say
naething mair aboot it till the term day's bye. Nae doot
ye'll be i' yer tribbles seen aneuch wuntin that."
Poor Jinse, the prospect of marriage did not seem a cheerful
one to her, notwithstanding the number of candidates
there had been for her hand. Of her reputed sweethearts
Tam Meerison was the one for whom she had at any rate
affected to care the least; and since the time Tam had begun
seriously to court her, his jealousy had been again and again
roused by the undisguised preference given to others his rivals.
And yet Tam Meerison was to have her to wife. It would be
wrong to say that Tam had not a certain feeling of satisfaction
in the thought of this; for, notwithstanding his adoption
latterly of a more seeming-reckless style, Tam had been from
an early date severely smitten by Jinse's charms. Indeed his
satisfaction was presumably considerable, else he had probably
not formed the laudable resolution to marry. But then
there were counter-balancing considerations. The idea of
marriage as an actual event had been forced upon him with a
kind of staggering suddenness, which caused the approach of
the reality itself to awaken a rather uncomfortable feeling of
responsibility. Tam began to see that it would be troublesome
to go about, and he had but a dim notion of the indispensable
technicalities. Then there was the question of a
house and home for his wife; and here Tam's case no doubt
merited commiseration. There was no house whatever available
within a circuit of several miles; for the lairds in the
locality in the plenitude of their wisdom, and foreseeing the
incidence of a poor law, had, as a rule, determined that there
should be no possibility of paupers seeing the light on their
properties. They would rather knock down every cottage on
their estates. What could poor Tam do? Jinse said she
would go to her mother's. Where Jinse's mother lived was
three miles off; and with her mother Jinse could only get
what share she might of a hovel that very barely afforded
room for two beds in its dark and diminutive "but" and "ben."
And there also an unmarried sister and two brothers, all in
farm service, claimed to have the only home they possessed.
It was not greatly to be wondered at if Tam felt perplexed,
and began to consider marrying really a stiff business. It was
under this feeling of perplexity that he succumbed once again
to Clinkstyle's offer of a renewed engagement, and in order
to get one foot at least planted down without more trouble,
agreed to "bide" with Peter Birse for another six months.
Tam had ventured across to Gushetneuk at a suitable
hour on the night of which we have been speaking, to talk
over with his affianced what most nearly concerned him and
The two sat on the deece again; and this time nobody
disturbed them. Jinse was sobbing. Tam put his arm about
her; and there was genuine feeling in the poor chap's words,
I have not the least doubt, as he said in his tenderest tones,
"Dinna noo, Jinse — Ye 'se never wunt a peck o' meal nor a
pun' o' butter as lang 's I'm able to work for 't."
By-and-by Jinse's emotion moderated, and they got into
a more business strain; and then Tam asked —
"Does Gushets ken yet?"
"Eh, aw dinna ken richt, aw never got sic a gast 's aw got
the nicht i' the aifterneen, fan aw haumer't into the kitchie
upo' the mistress an' him speakin' something or anither aboot
me gyaun awa'."
"But an' coorse she kent aboot it afore?"
"She jist kent the streen 't I wudna be here aifter the
term; I gyauna 'er muckle audiscence fan she speer't foo I
was leavin'. But an' ye hed heard the maister fan he brak
oot — I cudna 'a haud'n up my heid, Tam, nor been ongrutt'n,
deen fat I hed liket!"
"An' did ye tell him onything mair, than?"
"Geyan likely! Fa wud 'a deen that, noo? But I tell't
her aifter he was awa' — it was rael sair, Tam," and Jinse
threatened "greetin" again.
"Did she say ony ill upo' me?"asked Tam.
"No; but though the maister was in a terrible ill teen
jist, aboot's gyaun awa' an' that, I was waur, gin waur cud
wun, fan she scault's, an gya's sae muckle gweed advice,
"Ou weel, Jinse, we're nae waur nor ither fowk, nor yet
sae ill 's plenty."
With this comforting reflection the conversation turned,
and Jinse asked —
"But fat are ye gyaun to dee a' simmer?"
"I'm bidin again."
"Bidin at Clinkstyle?"
"But it's a coorse place to bide in, isnin 't?"
"Weel," answered Tam, slowly, and not quite willing, in
the circumstances, to make that admission, "the wife's some
roch an' near b'gyaun, but there's little tribble wi' the maister
"Didna ye hear o' nae ither place at the market?"
"But I wasna there. I bargain't the day afore, and didna
seek to gyang. Ye see, I taul' the maister 't I wud tak' a day
for 't fan the neeps is laid doon."
Tam evidently considered this a stroke of management,
and Jinse, brightening up a little, asked —
"An' fan wud it need to be?"
"Jist as seen 's things can be sattl't. We maun be cried
on twa Sundays, at ony rate."
"Twa Sundays?"
"Ay, there's nane but puckles o' the gentry gets 't deen in
ae Sunday, aw b'lieve."
"Weel, ye maun come up to my mither's on Saturday's
"Ou ay, an' we can speak aboot it better than. Your
mither 'II ken a' aboot the wye o' 't, I 'se warran'. But I doot
she'll be pitten aboot wi' 's bidin there. I wus we cud 'a
gotten a hoose ony wye."
"Weel, we maun jist pit up wi' things like ither fowk, I
"But it'll mak' sic a steer in her hoose, ye ken."
"Oh, we 'll manage fine for that maitter. There's her but
bed, it's nae vera sair in order eenoo; but I've twa fedder
pillows o' my nain, an' a patch't coverin', forbye a pair o'
blankets 't the mistress helpit 's to spin, an' gya 's the feck o'
the 'oo'. There'll be plenty o' room for my kist i' the but, an'
ye maun hae yer ain kist aside ye, ye ken."
"But yer mither winna hae gweed sparin' 'er room constant,
it's nae 's gin 't war only a fyou weeks. She winna
get nae eese o' 't hersel'."
"Ou, but ye ken there's nane o' oor fowk comes hame
eenoo, 'cep Rob, an' Nelly at an antrin time; Jamie's owre
far awa'. An' ony nicht 't Rob's there, gin ye chanc't to be
the same nicht, you twa cud sleep thegither, seerly; an' I
cud sleep wi' my mither, an Nelly tee, for that maitter."
"Foo af'en does Rob come?"
"Aboot ance i' the fortnicht or three weeks."
"I think I'll win near as af'en 's that mysel',"said Tam,
upon whose mind the general effect of this conversation had
been rather exhilarating than otherwise. His sweetheart had
not merely contrivance; she had also foresight and thrift,
evidently, as the general inventory given of her "providin'"
testified. Still he hankered after a house that he could call
his own. It was not that Tam's ambition on this point was
extravagant. If he could get one end of a "but an' a ben"
cottage, about such a place as Smiddyward, with a "cannasbreid"
of a garden, and the chance of going to see his wife
once a-week, he would have been well content.
But this Tam found to be impracticable. He made full
inquiry; and even invoked the aid of his aquaintance the
smith, whose banter was turned into hearty sympathy with
the statement of the case now laid before him. The smith
tackled Dawvid Hadden, the ground-officer, and urged the
reparation of part of the old erections of which Sandy
Peterkin's school formed the main wing, as a dwelling for
Tam. As the manner of sycophants dressed in a little delegated
authority is, Dawvid's answer was a kind of echo of
what he imagined Sir Simon would have said,"Na, na,
smith, it's a very fallawshus prenciple in fat they ca' poleetical
ecomony to encourage the doonsittin' o' the like o' them in a
place. — Ou, it's nae the expense. Na, na, the biggin o' a
score o' hooses wud be a mere triffle, gin Sir Simon thocht it
richt in prenciple — a mere triffle. But there they sit doon,
an' fesh up faimilies till they wud thraten to fill a destrick wi'
peer fowk — the brod cud never keep the tae half o' them.
No; I 'm weel seer they'll get nae hoose i' the pairish o' Pyketillim."

It was not a kindly speech that of Dawvid Hadden; albeit
it expressed, firstly, the newest view of political economy in
the locality, which was just then beginning to be practically
carried out; and, secondly, an accurate statement of Tam
Meerison's chances of getting a house within the parish. In
this particular, Tam had his strong wish and reasonable
desire completely defeated. It may be difficult for the man
who lives in a comfortable home with his family about him to
estimate with precision either the keenness of feeling, or the
deteriorating effects involved in such disappointment. I
don't think it should be difficult for any one to make up his
mind as to giving a hearty condemnation to the too common
land policy which has entailed the like cruel hardship upon
hundreds of honest hard-working men in the class to which
Tam belonged.
But my business is not to moralise, I daresay; and I
have only to add to this chapter that, as better could not be,
Tam Meerison and Jinse Deans had no help for it but get
married, and commence their career of wedded bliss under
the slenderly equipped conditions already indicated.
WHETHER the unceremonious home-thrust administered
to the Rev. Andrew Sleekaboot by Johnny
Gibb, had anything to do with the matter or not, I am not
prepared to say, but so it was, that very speedily after that
occurrence, the patron of the parish and lord of the manor
"had his attention directed" to the current state of opinion,
and recent on-goings at Smiddyward School. Sir Simon
was one of those lofty individuals whose attention requires to
be directed to this or that; or they might for long overlook
many common-place events transacting themselves before
their view; and, in the present case, it was surmised, rightly
or wrongly, that the Rev. Mr. Sleekaboot, in his own quiet
way, had, on second thoughts, taken means to stir up the
dignified baronet. Anyhow Sir Simon was stirred up; and
he made it known, through his ground officer, Dawvid Hadden,
that the "conventicle" held in Sandy Peterkin's school
must forthwith "cease and determine."
It would not have been in accordance with Sandy Peterkin's
antecedents had he exhibited as much worldly prudence
and policy as to "jouk an' lat the jaw" of Sir Simon's wrath
"gae owre." So, although the Rev. Alister Macrory was just
about finishing a second spell of preaching in the school, and
there was no immediate prospect of the place being further
occupied in the same way, Sandy chose to return an abrupt
and rebellious answer to Sir Simon's orders to have the conventicle
stopped. Sandy, without consulting any one, replied
that he was a citizen of a free country, and would give the use
of the school to anybody he pleased.
"Yea, Saun'ers, man,"answered Dawvid Hadden."Ye
better ca' canny; aw wuss that bit mou'fu' dinna craw i' yer
crap or a' be deen."
"We'II tak' oor risk o' that, Mr. Hadden; for even Sir
Simon hasna the poo'er o' pot an' gallows noo."
"Maybe no; but it'll be cheeng't wardles an' he binna
able to haud's nain wi' them 't 's obleeg't till's leenity for
haein' a reef o' ony kin' abeen their heids. I 'se jist warn ye
ance mair to be cowshus; or ye'll hear mair aboot it."
Dawvid Hadden, with an abundance of toadyism towards
those he reckoned above him, exhibited not a little of the
spirit of the petty tyrant on the side seen by people who, he
imagined, came fairly within the compass of his particular
authority, and it is not to be supposed that the version given
to Sir Simon of Sandy Peterkin's behaviour toward Dawvid
as Sir Simon's representative, suffered that behaviour to lose
anything of its offensiveness. At any rate, Dawvid very
speedily began to let mysterious hints drop about the general
connection between attendance at the Smiddyward services
and brevity of tenure on the lands of Sir Simon Frissal, and
he did not scruple to let it be understood that Sandy Peterkin
had put himself entirely at his, Dawvid's, mercy.
I don't know that either the souter or the smith, if they
had been consulted, would have advised Sandy Peterkin to
do the rash thing he did in contemning Dawvid Hadden;
nevertheless, they were both roused at the idea that "the
creatur" should insult a man who was so much his superior
as they agreed in considering the dominie of the Ward to be.
Probably, however, their indignation would have subsided
without any particular result, had it not been that just about.
the time when it was hottest, Johnny Gibb, who had been
advised of Dawvid's general ongoings, but not of this particular
act, came across to the smiddy on some lawful errand.
The smith was going on at the hearth, for Hairry Muggart,
the wright, had come across from the "Toon-en'," carrying a
plough beam, which he wanted the smith to "strap," on his
shoulder. Hairry was a ponderously built man, with feet
much bigger than they were shapely, and a bluish tint in the
red with which his face was amply splashed. He was deliberate
in his movements, and delivered himself of what he
had to say with a certain copious and opinionative egotism
which was rather enjoyable to listen to when Hairry was
going on full swing. The "strappin'" of Hairry's beam had
been completed, when a breathing space occurred, during
which the conversation turned upon Dawvid Hadden and his
"Fat div ye say?" quoth Johnny Gibb. "Did the creatur
raelly gae the length o' thratenin the maister?"
"Or to dee 'im nae oonjustice, we sall suppose that he
only deliver't the laird's orders," said the smith.
"Laird or nae laird, he ocht to keep a ceevil tongue in 's
"Weel, I winna say but Sandy spak back in a wye 't was
lickly to gar the body cantle up. Ye ken we've a' oor wyknesses,
"I maun see Sandy aboot this at ance. I'll tell ye fat it
is, smith, things is comin' till a heid in this countra, 't fowk
can-not pit up wi'. I 'se be at the boddom o' this, though I
sud gae to the Place an' see Sir Seemon 'imsel' the morn."
"Aw'm dootin ye winna fin' 'im there, John,"said Hairry
Muggart, in an oracular way.
"An' fat for no?"
"He's awa' to the Sooth yesterday. Dawvid cam' up to
me afore sax o'clock i' the mornin'. She was jist up an' the
bar aff o' the door, an' was o' the road oot wi' the ais-backet,
an' her nicht mutch nae aff, fan he comes roon by the stack
mou' like a man gyaun to redd fire. 'Is the vricht up?' says
David. ''Serve me, fat are ye on sic a chase for at this oor
i' the mornin'?' says my wife. I heard the clatter o' them,
an' throws on my waistcoat an' staps my feet in'o my sheen,
an' gin that time he was at the door. 'Ou, ye've wun oot
owre yer bed,' says he. 'Fan did ever ye get me i' my bed
at this time i' the mornin'?' says I, an' wud 'a ta'en a bit fun
wi' 'im, ye see. But Dawvid rebats, an' says he, 'That's
nedder here nor there, Hairry, man, ye 'll need to get your
sma' borin' brace an' a fyou ither teels this moment an' ca' a
bit framie thegidder, 't's wuntit to keep the loggage steady o'
the cairt.'"
"An' heard ye onything aboot Sandy Peterkin an' the
skweel?"asked Johnny Gibb, who had listened not too
patiently to Hairry.
"I'm comin' to that eenoo, Gushets. Ye see, they sud 'a
been at me the nicht afore. Hooever, the butler forgat a'
aboot it, an' the cairt hed to be awa' at aucht o'clock i' the
mornin'. But I b'lieve gin Dawvid didna soun' them aboot it
for ance. Weel, as aw was sayin', the cairt was a' in order in
fine time. An' Dawvid was i' the gran'est humour 't cud be.
Oh, he wud hae nae na-say, but I wud gae up by the Wast
Lodge faur Meg Raffan the henwife bides, an' tak' my brakfist
wi 'im. Aweel, this fares on, an' we hed oor dram thegidder,
like ony twa lairds; an' syne Dawvid got rael crackie aboot
this an' that. An' it was than 't he taul me that the laird was
gyaun awa' to the Sooth aboot some faimily affairs, an' 't he
wudna lickly be hame for a puckle months at ony rate."
"An' Dawvid was to reign in 's stead, nae doot!" suggested
the smith.
"Weel, he was gey lairge upo' that. 'Ye see it's nae a
licht responsibility at nae time,' says he, 'till conduck the
buzness o' an estate like this. An' it's aiven mair seriouser
at a time like this; for Sir Simon has naebody but mysel'.
But I hae full poo'er to ack accordin' to my nain joodgment.'"
"But he saidna naething aboot the skweel than?"
"He jist did that, John. Says he 'They've been haein' a
gey on-cairry doon at the Ward, wi' that non-intrusion meetin's.
An' that creatur Peterkin gya me the grytest o' ensolence
the tither nicht. But jist bide still, till I get 'im richt i'
my poo'er, gin I dinna gi'e 'im a grip that he hisna gotten the
like o' 't for some time.'"
"An' ye didna tell Dawvid 't ye hed been a regular hearer
at the meetin's yersel'?" said the smith, who was now going
on at the light and easy job of sharpening the prongs of a
graip for Johnny Gibb.
"Ou na," replied Hairry, with a "fozy" laugh."Fan he
didna appear to ken, I keepit my thoom upo' that. But I'm
maist seer that he has nae orders fae Sir Simon to meddle wi'
Sandy Peterkin, fatever he may thraten."
"That wud only mak' maitters waur an' waur," said
Johnny Gibb. "But at ony rate, it's high time to tak' some
decidet step to lat oor opingans be kent, an' tak mizzours for
gettin' the commoonity instrucket aboot the richts an' preevileges
o' the Kirk o' Scotland, as weeI's fat belangs to the
ceevil poo'er. That's gaen on in a hantle o' places throu' the
"At public meetin's? Weel, foo sudna we hae a public
meetin'?" asked Hairry.
The smith and Johnny seemed a little taken aback at the
novelty of the idea. At last the smith said —
"We're nae vera public kin' o' characters, Hairry, an'
mith mak' but a peer job o' 't — Wud ye tak' the cheer yersel'?"
"Eh — weel, failin' a better, aw dinna differ."
"Cudnin we get Sandy an' the souter in aboot, an' try
an' sattle upo' something, as lang's we're thegither?" asked
Johnny Gibb.
"Naething easier nor that, at ony rate," answered the
smith, who speedily had a juvenile messenger despatched for
the two worthies named.
And so they resolved to have a public meeting. It was
the opinion of Roderick M'Aul, the souter, that they should
follow up the Rev. Alister Macrory's evangelical services by
inviting some prominent members of the non-intrusion section
of the clergy to address them on the principles involved
in the great controversy now going on within the Church of
Scotland. But while there was a general agreement that this
ought to be kept in view as an ultimate object, Johnny Gibb
expressed a strong opinion in favour of some more immediate
demonstration on their own account, as a sort of embodiment
of their protest against tyranny and oppression, in whatever
shape, or from whatever quarter. Hairry, as in consistency
bound, supported his own idea of a public meeting. Of course,
the only place where it had entered anybody's head that it
could be held, was in Sandy Peterkin's school. The souter and
the smith, in view of what had occurred, indirectly suggested
a little caution on that point. This the other two deemed
quite out of place in the circumstances — (Johnny in his heat,
even defined Dawvid Hadden as a "pushion't ted") — the
only point was, would Sandy Peterkin be willing to give
them the use of the school?
"Weel-a-wat ye winna hae 't twice to seek," said Sandy,
cheerfully. "I'm only sorry that my desk's nae a bit wider
an' heicher. It does fine wi' me; but for a public speaker it's
unco crampit; an' Mr. Macrory compleen't wil' ill upon 't.
Only there's great principles at stake, an' nae doot the man
that feels their importance 'll mak' nae words to speak in a
gey hameo'er place. I'll be richt prood to think that I can
accommodat' a meetin' for sic a gweed purpose."
So there only remained the duty of "adverteesin" the
meeting, as Hairry phrased it, which was to be done by every
man personally inviting those within his own circle, to attend
at the proper time, when the day and hour had been finally
agreed upon.
IT would not be correct to say that the promoters of the
Smiddyward meeting omitted preliminary consultation
as to the order of business that should be observed when they
had got the public assembled in the school; they deliberated
and debated much thereanent, only their ideas on the subject
were not very definite.
"We maun get the prenciples for which the Kirk o' Scotlan'
's conten'in' expoon'it in a wye 't they can oon'erstan," said
Johnny Gibb. "It's a sair pity that Maister Macrory's awa';
but ye've heard a hantle o' 's discoorse, an' ye've a gweed
memory, souter, mithna ye try an' rin owre the heids o' 't?"
"I wud be richt willin', Gushets, to dee onything within my
poo'er; but ye ken I'm nae gremmarian, an' cudna conneck
it nae gate nor ither 't the fowk cud follow me," said the souter.
"Get Sandy Peterkin 'imsel' to pit a bit narrative thegidder,"
interposed the smith. "He's weel acquant wi' the
subject, an' aiven though he war to jot doon bits an' read."
"I'm nae in wi' that ava," answered Hairry Muggart.
"Fat expairience cud he hae? never oot owre 's skweel door
to ken fat's been gyaun on. 'Seein' 's believin',' as they say.
Lat some ane 't 's been a wutness to the ootrages o' the ceevil
poo'er, as Gushets says, tak' up the leems. Gushets, I've
seen you at vawrious Presbytery meetin's; forbye't ye was
up at Culsalmon', tee, at the fawmous intrusion case. — Ay,
yon knowe-heid saw a sicht that day 't I wunna foryet in a
hurry. Fat for sudna ye gi'e's a word?"
"'Wa' wi' ye, Hairry; fa' i' the wardle wud ever think o'
me makin' a speech? I mith haud in a back chap till anither;
but to attemp' a discoorse — I wud be owre the theets
ere we got weel streiket."
"Bless me; fat are we argle-barglin aboot, Rory?" said
the smith, who saw the drift of things at a glance.
As the smith spoke, Hairry Muggart hirsled half round —
"There's Hairry, 't 's to be oor cheerman. It fa's to him
o' richt to apen the subject; an' fit fitter to gae owre the haill
heids an' partic'lars?"
"Weel — no, I mith try a fyou remarks aboot fat I've seen;
but I wunna promise to gae owre the haill subject."
"Never min', Gushets 'll tak' up fat ye leave oot," said
the smith.
The truth was, Hairry desired the opportunity of figuring
as a public speaker, and had kept that enviable distinction
clearly in view from the outset.
So the meeting was called. Johnny Gibb and all his
household were there, with the souter, the smith, Sandy
Peterkin, and other residenters at Smiddyward, including
Widow Will, her son Jock, now developing into a long, lanky
loon, and her lodger, the mole-catcher, who had gone through
his first campaign, and become a fully-qualified practitioner;
also, Andrew Langchafts, the merchan', and a few people from
the Kirktown. Mrs. Birse was there, and Miss Birse, with
Peter, junior. Peter Birse, senior, was absent, and the fact
was sufficiently remarkable to warrant a sentence in explanation
thereof; so Mrs. Birse, with affable frankness, informed
Johnny Gibb that he "hedna been vera stoot, an' was cornpleenin
war nor eeswal the nicht."
As was fit and proper, the meeting was opened with devotional
exercises, the souter taking the chief part, and Johnny
Gibb precenting with edifying "birr." Then a slightly embarrassing
silence ensued, which came to an end when the smith
whispered something to Sandy Peterkin, and Sandy, with his
wonted readiness to oblige, stood up, and said he had much
pleasure in moving that their respected friend Mr. Muggart
take the chair.
Hairry, who was encumbered with his bonnet, and a big
stick, laid these articles aside, and, with some trouble, forced
his way into the "maister's dask." He did not seem to be
very certain whether it was the right thing to sit or to stand,
and ended by a sort of compromise in leaning over the desk.
Without the usual prefatory acknowledgment of the honour
conferred upon him "in asking him to preside," Hairry went
into the heart of his subject at once — "As ye a' ken we've
met this evenin' to be instrucket aboot the veto law an' the
non-intrusion pairty, as far as oor nain expairience, an' the
proceedin's o' the kirk courts 'll cairry us; all which it behoves
this countra to lay to hert." Hairry then proceeded
to give what summary he could of the principles involved in
the "Ten Years' Conflict," referring, more or less lucidly, to
the cases of Auchterarder, Lethendy, and Marnoch. "An'
noo," he continued, "the conflick 's comin' nearer oor ain
door; the Garioch's seen the veto law trampl't oonder fut.
My fader was an upper Garioch man, an' I 've heard him tell
o' a minaister o' Culsalmon' i' the aul' time 't gaed oot o' the
Sunday aifterneen wi' a fup in 's han', an' fuppit the fowk up
to the kirk; fan they wud 'a been sittin' in bourachs aboot the
lan'stells o' the brig. Hooever, things maybe hedna gane far
i' the wye o' men's. An' fat kin' o' a state o' haithen ignorance
cud they but be in wi' sic a man as Ferdie Ellis i' the
poopit? Ou weel, as I was sayin', the creesis cam', as ye a'
ken, i' the en' o' the year; fan the Presbytery made a fashion
o' sattlin' this Maister Middleton, that hed been helpener afore
to Ferdie. But I'm occupyin' owre muckle o' your time, an'
wud request John Gibb to fawvour the meetin' wi' his expairience
o' that oonhallow't proceedin'."
"Ye'll dee 't better yersel', Hairry," said Johnny Gibb.
"Ye was there as weel's me, an' kent a hantle mair o' the
heid deesters. Say awa', an' I 'se gi'e ony sma' help 't I can i'
the wye o' ekein' 't oot."
"Weel," answered Hairry, deliberately wiping his spectacles
and putting them on, and thereafter pulling a somewhat
crumpled piece of paper from the tail pocket of his coat.
Up to this time the chairman had endeavoured to keep up a
sort of didactic style; but he now, despite his notes, merged
himself in what was more natural to him, and, I humbly
think, more "entertaining" to his audience whether more
instructive or not — the direct narrative style. "Weel, ye see,"
continued Hairry, "there's naething, as the Presbytery-clark
said, 'like dockimentary preef' fan ye come to particulars — I
leern't that muckle fae the Presbytery meetin' on the twenty-aucht
o' October last past. It was than that they met first
i' the kirk o' Culsalmon', an' resolv't to gae on wi' the sattlement
o' this bodie, Middleton; an' they carriet it, seyven to
five. Hooever, I markit doon a fyou particulars aifterhin, to
be siccar wi' 't — aw'm nae gyaun to read them, but jist keep
the heids afore me. Aweel, this fares on, an' fan the day
cam' — Gushetneuk an' mysel' hed hed the maitter throu' han'
— says John to me, 'Mithna we tak' a stap owre to the kirk
o' Culsalmon', man, an' see wi' oor ain een fat wye the boots
'll row?' It was a slack sizzon, an' I hed promis't to gae up
to Colpy to see some aul' acquantances at ony rate. Oot we
sets. Awat it was a snell mornin'; Benachie as fite's a
washen fleece, an' oorlich shoo'ers o' drift an' hail scoorin'
across the kwintra. We wusna weel past the neuk o' the
wuds o' Newton till we sees the fowk gedderin fae here an'
there, some gyaun up the Huntly road afore 's, some comin'
fae the Glens, an' some hyne doon as far 's we cud see, cumin'
fae the Ba'dyfash wan. They war feckly o' their feet, though
there wus twa three ridin' an' siclike; I kenna gin they war
minaisters — (by their wye o' sittin' their beasts some o' them
luiket fell like it no) — or gin they war lawvyers, or shirras, or
fat. But I doot I'm wan'erin' fae the pint immedantly oon'er
consideration. Amnin aw, John?"
"Gae on, gae on, Hairry; they'll cry oot fan they tire o'
ye," answered Johnny Gibb.
"Allow me to speak for the general owdience," answered
Andrew Langchafts, in a solemn key. "We're vera deeply
interestit in the whole subjeck, Maister Cheerman. Ye canna
be owre minute in the details, lat me assure you. We're
arriv't at a creesis, as ye've weel observ't in the Church's
history; an' the facts o' the case canna be too strongly imprentit
on the min's o' the risin' generation especially."
Previous to the night of meeting, it had hardly been known
on what side the sympathies of Mr. Langchafts, who was not
a talkative man, lay; and this explicit declaration raised him
not a little in the estimation of Johnny Gibb, who exclaimed,
"I'm glaid to hear ye, merchan'. Gae on noo, Hairry."
"Aweel,'s aw was sayin', we was steppin' on as eident's
we cud. It was ill road, an' we lied a gweed stoot stick the
piece, but John was gey souple for me, an' the strap o' ane
o' my queetikins brak, an' was like to trachel me waur.
'Heely, Gushets, draw bridle a minit,' says I; an' wi' that I
lootit doon to fes'n my spat wi' a bit twine. That an' coorse
tyeuk 's up a fyou minits; an' fan we're settin' to the road
again there comes up a bit gey kibble, fersell mannie, wi' blue
claes an' a braid bonnet, gyaun at an unco flaucht.' 'Weel,
ye're for the hill-heid,' says he. 'Ou, ay. There'll be twa-three
there the day — Is there to be ony din?' 'Gin there
binna nae thanks to them for 't,' says the mannie, meanin'
the Presbytery like, an' wi' that he daccles a bit, an' keeps on
wi' Gushets an' me. 'An' will they raelly gae on till a settlement
wi' this Middleton?' says Gushets. 'An' they dinna
their han'iwark winna be confeerin wi' their teels,' quo he.
'Ye mean the Presbytery?' The mannie gi'es a lauch, 'Ay,
the Presbytery's ill aneuch their leens. But bide ye still till
we win up to the kirk. Gin ye dinna see a turn oot o' the
ceevil poo'er the day 't the Garioch hisna seen the like o' i'
the memory o' leevin' man, or aiven fae the days o' Black
Jock o' Pittodrie, it's a ferlie to me. The Shirra o' the coonty,
Maister Murray, they tell me's been there sin' yesterday, an'
the fiscal, Maister Simpson, 's there; forbye Shirra Lumsdell,
fae Pitcaple, an' I believe the Captain, fae Logie, tee. Of
coorse, the Presbytery's legal awgent 's up fae Cromwellside,
an' they say anither lawvyer or twa. An' mair nor a' that,
there's a batch o' that new rural constaabulary, as they ca'
them, up the road, nae fyouer nor aboot foifteen o' them oon'er
their captain, ane An'erson, a muckle blawn-up red-fac't-like
chiel, wi' a besom o' black hair aboot 's mou', 't hed been i' the
airmy, they say; an' fudder or no he said it, some o' them was
lattin 't licht 't he did say 't he sud sattle the minaister to them
at the point o' the baignet.' Isna that aboot the rinnins o' fat
the Culsalmon' mannie taul 's, Gushets?"
"Ye're weel within boun's, Hairry, man; an' fat we saw
aifterhin clinch't the feck o' 't to the ootside."
"Ye maun aye keep in min', my freen's," continued the
Chairman, inspecting his MS., "that fan the Presbytery met
on the twenty-aucht o' October to moderat the Call — an' a
lang meetin' it was; fat wi' objections and interjections, they
were aff an' on at it for aboot a haill roon' o' the knock — fan
they met ye maun recolleck 't a' the names pitten to the Call
in fawvour o' the presentee, wus only forty-five; an' nae fyouer
nor auchty-nine heids o' faimilies exercees't their veto against
'im. Thase were the circumstances oonder whuch the sattlement
was forc't on wi' a' this mengyie o' shirras, an' lawvyers,
an' constaables. — It's a very stiff brae, an' ere we wan up to the
kirk, it was gyaun upon eleyven o'clock. 'Hooever,' says the
mannie, 'We'll be in braw time; it's twal ere the sattlement
begin, an' I 'se warran they sanna apen the kirk doors till's
till than.' So we tak's a luik roun' for ony kent fowk. They
war stannin' aboot a' gate roun' aboot the kirk, in scores an'
hunners, fowk fae a' the pairis'es roun' aboot, an' some fae
hyne awa' as far doon's Marnoch o' the tae han' an' Kintore
o' the tither, aw b'lieve; some war stampin' their feet an'
slappin' their airms like the yauws o' a win'mill to keep them
aheat, puckles wus sittin' o' the kirkyard dyke, smokin' an
gyaun on wi' a' kin' o' orra jaw aboot the minaisters, an' aye
mair gedderin in aboot — it was thocht there wus weel on to
twa thoosan' there ere a' was deen. An' aye a bit fudder was
comin' up fae the manse aboot fat the Presbytery was deem
— they war chaumer't there, ye see, wi' the lawvyers an' so on.
Nyod, they maun be sattlin 'im i' the manse,' says ane,
we'll need 'a gae doon an' see gin we can win in.' 'Na, na,
says anither, 'a bit main bather aboot their dissents an' appales
bein' ta'en; muckle need they care, wi' sic a Presbytery,
fat they try. But here's Johnny Florence, the bellman, at
the lang length, I'se be at the boddom o' fat they're at noo.'
An' wi' that he pints till a carlie comin' across the green, wi'
a bit paper in's han', an' a gryte squad o' them 't hed been
hingin' aboot the manse door at 's tail. 'Oo, it's Johnny
gyaun to read the edick,' cries a gey stoot chap, an' twa three
o' them gya a roar o' a lauch. It seems Johnny's nae particular
scholar, so the Presbytery hed been in some doots aboot
the edick. 'Noo,' says they, 'ye'll read that at the most
patentest door o' the church — the wast door.' 'Yes,' says he.
'Can ye read vrite?' 'An' it be geyan plain,' says John; so
the edick was read owre an' owre again till 'im, an' Johnny
harkenin' 's gin he un'ersteed it — (We heard aboot a' this
aifterhin, ye ken). But they gya 'im a gey time wi' 's readin'
o' 't. Johnny was far fae claer upon's lesson. 'Speak oot,
min!' cries ane. 'I think ye mith pronunce some better nor
that, Johnny,' says anither; an' they interrupit 'im fan he was
tryin' to read wi' a' kin' o' haivers, takin' the words oot o' 's
mou, an' makin' the uncoest styte o' 't 't cud be. 'Weel, hae
ye ony speeshal objections to Maister Middleton?' cries
Johnny, fairly dung wi' the paper. 'Haena we than! A hunner
o' them, an' mair!' roars severals. Wi' ae put an' row,
Johnny wan throu' the edick in's nain fashion, an' syne cuts
awa' back to the manse, wi' a lot o' them aifter 'im, leavin' 's
faur we wus afore. — Sae far o' the edick," continued the Chairman,
pausing to gather himself again. "Gin that was to be ca'd
readin' 't, jeedge ye. Hooever aw b'lieve the Presbytery wus
content wi' the bellman's endeavour, an' pat it upo' their bulks
that 'objections were called for an' none offer't.' The multiteed
wus tynin patience gey sair fan the sough gat up 't they
war 'comin'!' The Shirra o' the coonty, Murray, Shirra
Lumsdell, the Fiscal — an' neen there hed a mair maroonjous
face that day — Captain Da'rymple, an' this An'erson, the heid
o' the constaabulary, came up wi' them, ackin' as a bodyguard
appearandly to defen' the shepherds fae the flock oon'er
their chairge. An auncient poet hath said —
The hurly burly noo began,
Was richt weel worth the seein'.
An' gin it war lawfu' to be vyokie owre sairious maitters o' that
kin', it's a rael true wye o' descryvin the thing. Oh, they war
a roch an' richt set gey puckles o' them, and a sad ongae they
made o' 't; only they war but ignorant kwintra fowk, an'
little to be expeckit fae them, by'se fae the set o' leern't men 't
hed ta'en 't upo' them to provoke them to mischief, tramplin'
the richts o' the people oon'erneath their feet. They war
makin' for the wast door: but several hunners hed congregat
there, an' puckles at the tither door a' ettlin for into the kirk
fanever the doors sud be apen't. This Captain An'erson, wi' 's
constaabulary, an' a fyou shirra-offishers, tried to birze throu'
an' make an apenin. 'Stan' back noo, my men: stan' back
noo.' But, instead o' that, they're jammin tee at their heels, wi'
cairns o' them rinkin up upo' the dyke. The Presbytery wus
stoitin here an' there: ane gat's hat ca'd owre's een, an' Maister
Middleton, though the Shirra was takin' speeshal care o' his
safe-aty, gat a bit clink or twa, it was said, wi' bits o' snaw
ba's; an' there's a story, though I sanna vooch for 't, that fan
they were fairly stuck'n for a minit or twa, a lang airm was
rax't owre atweesh the shou'ders o' twa three o' them, an'
a han' that naebody kent fa 't belang't till gat a grip o' the
nose o' ane o' the heid deesters an' gya 't sic a thraw that it
didna tine the purpie colour nor come back to the aul' set
for a file. But the trowth o' the maitter was, naebody
wud 'a kent sair fat was deein or fa was maist to blame.
Some o' the ceevil authorities begood to repree an' thraten,
but a chap or twa, naar grippit braid i' the crood themsel's,
spak' back, 'Fat wye can ye help it?' an' ithers, maybe nae
owre weel inten'it, roar't 'Fat are we deein?' 'We're nae
touchin' naebody; we're nae brakin' the law:' an' some
o' them 't cudna see speer't gin the 'police hed strucken
yet!' But aw wat they keepit their temper byous weel:
though it was said that some gey roch and win'y words pass't
atween ane o' the heid deesters an' some orra chiels ere
a' was deen. Hoosomever, ae chiel wi' the key wins at
the door in coorse, an' apens 't, an' in they gaed, jist like
the jaws o' the sea, cairryin minaisters, shirras, an' a', like
as muckle wrack, alang wi' them. I tint sicht o' Gushets in
a minit, an' hed muckle adee to hand o' my fit ava. An'
fan I'm jist at the door cheek, fa sud be dirdit into the neuk
fair afore me but Geordie Wobster, the shirra's offisher, fae
Mel'rum. Ye'll min' upo' him, some o' ye, sin' the time 't he
hed sic a pilgit huntin' up aul' Lindsay for stealin' bees.
The raither him nor me, for he gat a yafu yark against the
door cheek. Wobster gi'e 's a guller oot o' 'im, and some ane
cries, 'Ye're killin' a man!' But fa cud help it; ye mith as
weel try't to stop the north win' comin' throu' the Glens o'
Foudland; an' in they gaed. Only the like o' 'im's siclike
ees't wi' sharries 't they're nae easy fell't — they say he gat a
broken rib, or siclike. Aweel, in we gets to the kirk, an' I'se
tell you I was blythe to edge into the first seat 't I cud win
at. The shirras an' the fiscal manag't to win up to the laft,
an' in o' the heritors' seat i' the forebreist; the Presbytery
wus seatit at the fit o' the poopit. But sic a noise ye heard
never in a kirk nor oot o' 't. Some ane said the moderawtor
wud preach — that was Maister Peter, o' Kemnay, a weelfaur't
young chap — but aw b'lieve he never wan in'o the
poopit yet, nae mair nor he wud 'a heard's nain word gin he
hed wun. 'Keep 'im oot, the Tory!' cries ane; some wud 'a
jokit wi' this Captain An'erson to 'gae up an' preach,' 'cause
he wud 'dee 't better,' an' there was a gryte lauch that nane o'
them hed brocht a Bible wi' them; and fan the shirras, first
ane and syne ane, deman'it quaetness, they only cried oot,
'Hoot, never min' 'im; keep up the din;' an' a' the time they
war flingin' aboot bits o' skelbs o' stickies and siclike. Weel,
this gaes on for I 'se warran' an oor, fan Captain Da'rymple —
he's an el'er, aw b'lieve — he stan's up an' says, 'I noo claim
the protection o' the shirra, the Presbytery being deforc't in its
duty.' An' oot they forces, the haill body o' them, awa' back
to the manse, faur it was said a sermon was preach't fae the
words, 'I have planted, and Apollos watered' — (a mannie
says to me, 'Ay, he tyeuk the words oot o' Paul's mou', but
Paul hed naething adee wi' sic plantin'; he sud 'a said Peter
plantit at ance' — 't wusna that oonwutty o' the carlie). Weel,
the din gaed on i' the kirk; oh, there was a set o' roch-like
breets up aboot the poopit, an' ane in 't haudin a terrible
hyse; an' aw b'lieve ere a' was deen they war singin' stags
an' smokin' their pipes intill't. Ane cries oot o' 't, 'Will ye
hae Culsalmon' psalms?' an' anither mak's answer, 'Gi'e's
Holy Willy's Prayer.' Of coorse the Presbytery an' the lawvyers
concludit the sattlement i' the manse again' a' sponsible
objections; an' syne they drappit aff name ane an' ane, some
ca'in i' their gigs, some ridin'; but though bourachs o' fowk
wus stannin about the place nae a tell wud they tell gin it
was a' deen or no. The fowk i' the kirk bade still; some
thocht they wud come back — some said that they be't a pit
the minaister throu' the kirk afore twal at nicht, or he wudna
be richt sattl't — some said ae thing, some anither, but aye
the reerie gaed on wi' a' kin' o' orra jaw. Fan it was beginnin'
to gloam they war jowin' the bell like a' thing, an' declairin they
wud see the en' o' 't tho' 't sud be three o'clock i' the mornin'.
An aw b'lieve some o' them raelly bade till aboot midnicht
an' nail't up the kirk doors ere they leeft — the gey feck o' the
lozens i' the windows hed been broken ere that time; an' fa
sud be brakin' amo' the lave but ane o' the bellman's ain
loons — so they said. But we thocht it time to be stappin
hamewuth afore we tint the daylicht a'thegither, an' that wye
sawna the hin'er en' o' 't."
At this point the Chairman again paused; and, gathering
his MS., attempted an enforcement of the "moral reflections"
to be drawn from what he had so fully stated. (It will not
be a very serious loss to omit this part.) He then called upon
Johnny Gibb to follow up his speech; and Johnny did so in
a brief address, wherein he recounted how the Justices called
a great meeting at Pitmachie, at which Sir Robert presided,
and how the Captain reported, ad longam, all the horrors of
the day at Culsalmond; and that not only windows were
broken, and seats torn up, but that the "rioters" had made
considerable progress towards toppling down the gallery,
body bulk! — "Jist like 'im to tell that," exclaimed Johnny,
with vehemence. And how the Justices gravely agreed that
"a riot" did take place, that "a spirit of resistance to the
law" had been gaining ground in that unhappy region; and
that the Justices considered it their duty to intimate all this
to "Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department,"
and a host of other high dignitaries, including the
Lord Advocate; and to request that "such measures should
immediately be taken as will lead to the detection and punishment
of the offenders, and the effectual prevention of
similar outrages in future; as otherwise, the powers and influence
of the Magistrates will be completely set at defiance,
and the expensive establishment of the rural police, into
which the county has lately entered, will be rendered worse
than useless." "An' that's the bonny upshot o' a meetin' o'
a score o' Sirs, an' Generals, an' Captains, an' common lairds,
heeld in Maister Cooper's on the thirti'et day o' November
last past," said Johnny throwing down a sadly chafed newspaper,
from which he had been endeavouring to read. "A
set o' brave birkies they are, I 'se asseer ye! Rinnin peeakin
to the heid authorities o' the kwintra, like as mony chuckens
't hed tint their wither; an' a' for a bit stramash 't their nain
deeins hed brocht aboot. Jist jeedge ye noo fat kin' o' spiritooal
guidance ye may expeck fae that quarter, fan ye see foo
they ack wi' them that comes oon'er their merciment in ceevil
maitters. Nae less nor five fowk 't was there that day wus
ta'en to Edinboro', to gang afore the Lords, as ye're a' weel
awaar. Of coorse, they wudna miss oot Dr. Robison o'
Williamston — he hed come owre sair forrat o' the non-intrusion
side — but the ither four, they mith 'a as weel ta'en up
Hairry or me, I suppose. An' aiven at the trial afore this
Lord Joostice Clark, the doctor, as ye a' ken, was pruv't Not
Guilty; the lads Walker and Spence wan aff unproven, an'
the tither twa, they war fley't till try ava. That 's the wye
that yer joostices an' kirk pawtrons wud rowle the kwintra — a
bonny set or than no. But fat syne — gin the law o' the Ian'
alloo't, little to them wud jail ilka ane o' 's at their nain
pleesour! That's nae maitter o' guess wark, but fairly
pruv't by fat they've deen ere this time. Noo afore we sin'er,
I've nae mair to say, but jist this, that it's vera necessar' for
ane an' a' o' 's to tak' a side, the side o' richt prenciple an' be
ready to mainteen 't till the Kirk o' Scotlan' establish her
richts owre the croon o' 'er oppressors."
When Johnny Gibb had ended, there was a silence of
some duration, till first Andrew Langchafts, and next Sandy
Peterkin, expressed their sense of the high value of the
speeches delivered. Very little more was said, and the meeting
closed with the understanding that another would be
called when circumstances seemed to demand it.
I may have occasion hereafter to note other results of this
meeting. Meantime let me say that it served in reality as a
sort of basis to such non-intrusion movement as distinguished
the parish of Pyketillim. A few months previously the newspapers
had had the benefit of a very long advertisement,
containing the names of a great many farmers in the Formartine
district, and a few lairds, all zealous and godly
churchmen, addressed in sympathetic terms to the noble
brethren who formed the majority of the Presbytery of Strathbogie,
and setting forth how the "Scripture" enjoins obedience
to the law, and so on. Several of the leading men in
Pyketillim, including Mains of Yawal and Teuchitsmyre had
thought it would be a creditable thing to follow this example;
and they had spoken thereof to Jonathan Tawse. Jonathan
being in ill temper at the time, gave them little "audiscence,"
and so the thing fell flat. But now this whole section of the
community seized the occasion of the Smiddyward public
meeting to turn the public laugh and scorn, as far as might
be, against those who had attended it. And, in particular,
every individual who had been there, young or old, had attached
to him or her the designation of a "Non," which, of
course, signified non-intrusionist, but was understood to carry
with it a deal of rustic wit or sarcasm, inasmuch as the
"Non" was accepted as a sort of weak fanatic, whom it was
right and proper to sneer at, or affect to pity, according to
ON the lands of Sir Simon Frissal it had been the practice
from time immemorial to bind every tenant to pay
yearly to the laird a "reek hen." In former days, however,
the fowl in question had never been really exacted; it was
merely a symbol of vassalage as it were. But in the modernised
form of lease to which the tenants who had renewed
their tenure within a score of years by-gone had been made
subject, the figurative reek hen had, by the practical sagacity
of Sir Simon's agents been converted into half-a-dozen, nine,
or a dozen "properly fed fowls," according to the size of the
holding. These had to be paid over at the barn-yards in full
tale; and when the damsels went thither with their arm-baskets
covered with such convenient piece of calico as they
could fit on — the heads of the imprisoned birds bobbing up
and down under the limp roof — it was seldom that Dawvid
Hadden failed to be present to see their freights delivered.
It was no part of Dawvid's duty to be there. Meg Raffan,
the henwife, was quite fit to attend to her own business.
But then Dawvid was a zealously diligent official; and a
man's zeal may be expected to exhibit itself in the direction of
that which is congenial to his nature. So it was that notwithstanding
the uncomplimentary sneers of Meg Raffan, Dawvid
would stand and not only count the fowls as they were discharged
from the creels, but in so far as he could catch sight
of them, scrutinise every separate fowl with the eye of a
connoisseur. His observations on the birds were oftener of a
disparaging sort than otherwise; and he had incurred the
lasting enmity of Mrs. Birse, by remarking to her servant, on
one occasion in the audience of the henwife — "Nyod, lassie,
the tae half o' that creaturs's never seen meal's corn seerly sin'
they war oot o' the egg shall; an' the lave, gin they ever laid
ava maun be poverees't wi' sax ouks clockin'; an' some o'
them actually luiks as gin they hed been in Tod Lowrie's
cluicks, an' wun awa' wi' the half o' their claes aff. We maun
raelly tell the laird about that."
It was an insolent speech that of Dawvid, to be sure,
though the last sentence was uttered in a half jocular tone;
and when the servant damsel rehearsed it in the ears of Mrs.
Birse, on her return to Clinkstyle, Mrs. Birse was naturally
much incensed; but it readily occurred to her that Meg
Raffan, the henwife, was a much higher authority on gallinaceous
matters than Dawvid Hadden, and her communications
with Meg had hitherto been of a friendly nature. So
as Lowrin Fair was at hand, when Peter Birse, senior, Peter
Birse, junior, and others — including Dawvid Hadden himself
— would naturally be drafted off to the market, why not have
Meg Raffan down to tea in a quiet way, and at any rate take
hostages against any possible hostile operations on the part
of Dawvid. Only Miss Birse and herself would be privy to
the transaction, and as secrecy was known to be an integral
part of Meg's very nature, there was no risk of Clinkstyle
gentility being tarnished by any sinister report going abroad;
and then the possible advantages to be derived from the interview
were obvious.
"Mrs. Birse's compliments," &c., and would Meg Raffan
come to tea? Eh, Meg would be delighted; and Meg came
How hospitable Mrs. Birse of Clinkstyle and her amiable
and accomplished daughter were, it needs not my pen to set
forth. The henwife felt, and declared it to be "rael affeckin;"
and how could she but indignantly rebut the aforesaid
vile insinuations of Dawvid Hadden. "Awat they war a'
richt snod, sizeable foolies," quoth Meg. "But he's jist a
sneevlin, ill-fashion't creator, 't maun be meddlin' wi' a'thing.
'Serve me, d' ye think 't the laird wud hear ony o' his ill-win'
aboot respectable fowk; Sir Simon's mair o' a gentleman nor
dee onything o' the kin'. Jist luik sic an ongae's he's been
haudin' aboot the Nons, an' that meetin' 't was doon i' the
skweel at the Ward — aw'm seer that was nane o' his bizziness."
"Weel, Mistress Raffan, fat kin' o' a conscience can he
hae, fleein i' the face o' the vera word o' Gweed?"
"The word o' Gweed! It's muckie't he'll care for that,
gin he cud get haud'n in wi' gryte fowk."
"Sir Seemon hed gi'en 'im orders to thraten Sandy Peterkin,
than?" suggested Mrs. Birse.
"Weel, aw'm nae thinkin' 't he hed not mony orders, no.
But the vera nicht aifter the meetin' — (aw div not believe but
the creator hed been lyin' at the back o' the dyke seein' them
gedder) — faur'a my gentleman awa' till, think ye?"
"Eh, but aw cudna say; ony wye but faur respectable
fowk wud gae."
"Faur but dominie Tawse's! Ye see," continued Meg,
attuning her voice to the very confidential pitch, "I gat a'
this fae her hersel'. Eh, she has a sad life o' 't wi' 'im, the
tyrannical, naisty, ill-livin' creatur; an' that vera nicht he
cam' hame fae the dominie's bleezin — he's takin' sair to the
drink, an' isna 't a rael scunnerfu' thing to see the like o'
Maister Tawse, a man o' leernin' an' pairts, colleagin wi' sic
"Jonathan Tawse! — an' aul', sneeshinie, drucken slype.
Leernin or than no!" said Mrs. Birse, scornfully. "It's jist
sic mannie sic horsie atween the twa for that maitter."
"Deed awat an' ye never spak a truer word," answered
Meg, bethinking herself. "I'm weel seer Maister Peterkin's
a muckle mair discreet man to hae chairge o' onybody's
"He's seen a great deal more of the wordle; and been in
better society than Tawse," interposed Miss Birse.
"Weel, 's aw wus sayin'," continued Meg Raffan, "Mrs.
Hadden says to me at the time, says she, 'Dawvid was up b'
cairts the streen, wusnin he?' 'But fan was Dawvid onything
else wi' his tale?' says I. 'Gin we war to believe a' 't
we hear, there's some fowk wud never mak' nor mell wi' naething
less nor gentry.' I wudna lat 'er aff wi' ocht nor flee 't
aw cud help; for they 're that upsettin', baith o' them. 'Ay
but,' says she, 'that was nane o' yer dog dirders an' ostlers
forgedderin to get a bit boose fan they gat their maister oot
o' the road.' This was lattin at me, ye ken, for inveetin the
coachman an' the gamekeeper up bye, aifter Sir Simon gaed
awa'; aw 'm seer decenter or mair neebourly fowk ye wudna
get i' the seyven pairis'es. But, aw b'lieve, I hed 'er there
no. 'Keep me, Kirsty,' says I, 'ye dinna mean to say 't
Dawvid actually was fou at this braw pairty than? There
wus fowk 't ye ken weel i' the Lodge this vera nicht, 't wud 'a
threepit owre me that they saw Dawvid stoiterin as he gaed
hame the streen. But I wud not latt'n them say 't.' Gin that
didna tak' the stiff'in oot o' Kirsty's cockernony, I 'se lea'e't."
"I'm rael glaid 't ye chappit 'er in aboot the richt gate,"
said Mrs. Birse. "Settin' up their noses that wye, they wud
need it — vulgar pack."
"Wi' that she pits 'er apron till 'er een, an' shak's 'er heid.
'Oh, Meggy,' says she, 'aw kent ye was aye my true freen;
dinna mention't to nae leevin. But Dawvid, though he was
weel to live, was richt gweed company, an' wus not nabal wi'
me the streen.' 'It hed been a humoursome pairty than, as
weel's a braw ane?' says I. 'Weel an' it was a' that,' says
she; an' Dawvid was that newsie aifter he cam' hame 't I
thocht never to get 'im till's bed.' An' foo that she sud say
that Mains o' Yawal was there, an' Teuchitsmyre, an' severals
o' the muckle fairmers."
"An' that was Dawvid's braw fowk — I wuss 'im luck o' sic
mainnerly company — Han' up the kyaak basket wi' the shortbreid,
Eliza," said Mrs. Birse.
"They're stupid and ignorant people," observed Miss
Birse; "and if Jonathan Tawse were accustomed to good
company, he wudna ask them till 's hoose."
"Na — nae mair, aw thank ye," quoth Meg. "I've deen
byous weel. I'll jist drink oot my drap at leasure. The
third cup sudna be the warst, ye ken; an' awat ye 'ye gi'en 's
't richt gweed."
Meg Raffan paused; and, with the facts as they actually
were, Mrs. Birse was too shrewd a woman not to comprehend
the significance of the last remark.
"Noo, Mrs. Birse, ye wull not pit fusky in amo' my tae;
na — nae the fu' o' that gryte muckle gless; ye wall mak' me
licht-heidit gin ever a body was 't."
It was evidently worth doing, however; and, truth to say,
Meg Raffan offered no very strenuous resistance to the emptying
of the glass into her cup. Neither did the emptying of
the cup itself seem to produce very much of the effect she had
dreaded. Meg only got more talkative, and went onto describe
fully how she had "pumped" out of Mrs. Dawvid Hadden all
that had been transacted at Jonathan Tawse's party concerning
which Dawvid had been so mightily uplifted. It appeared
that in addition to Pyketillim people, there had been present
Jonathan's friend, the younger Dr. Drogemweal, who had
settled "doon throu'," so as to be beyond the limits of his father's
"sucken;" and that Dawvid had enumerated to the
company the entire list of those who had been present at the
Smiddyward meeting, the result thus far being a sort of critical
analysis of each individual's character and position. Johnny
Gibb, the smith, and the souter, had been classed together
as hopeless incorrigibles, compounded in pretty nearly equal
parts of the fanatic and the radical; and it was deemed prudent
to say little more about them. Sandy Peterkin was denounced
very severely; and it seemed that Dawvid, in his
elevation, had freely avowed his intention, and even boasted
of the power he possessed, to "sort him, at ony rate." And
not less was Dawvid incensed at that "fair-tongue't howffin,
Hairry Muggart," by whom the zealous ground-officer all but
confessed he had been fairly led on the ice, and on whom he
declared his intention to be revenged. And then they had
come nearer home.
"Noo, Mrs. Birse, aw wudna tell 't to my nain sister for
warl's gear; but aw'm seer she 'II never ken that it cam' fae
me;" and Meg looked inquiringly toward Miss Birse, and
next toward her mother, as much as to say, "Would it not be
wise to remove her at any rate?"
"Eliza's been taucht breedin' owre weel to cairry clypes,"
said Mrs. Birse a little haughtily.
"Eh, forbid 't I sud mint at onything o' the kin', Mrs.
Birse. She wudna he your dother to dee onything like that
— weel, the mair shame to them that sud speak aifter sic a
fashion. 'An' hed they naething to say aboot the goodwife
o' Clinkstyle?' says I to Kirsty, in a careless-like mainner.
'Weel, Meggy,' says she, speakin' aneth 'er breath — an' she
gar't my vera flesh creep fan she pat up 'er han' like a distrackit
person — 'I ken I can lippen onything to you,' says
she, 'but Dawvid wud fell me gin he thocht 't I war to apen
my lips aboot it to my nain mither — Maister Tawse sud say
to Dawvid, "Weel, Davie, fat are ye to dee wi' that randy o'
a wife o' Clinkstyle?"' — noo, Mrs. Birse it's a Gweed's
trowth 't aw'm tellin' ye. Eh, he's a haiveless man; nae
won'er nor ye was obleeg't to tak' yer innocent bairns awa'
fae 's skweel."
"Mamma," exclaimed Miss Birse, in great excitement,
"I wud gar papa prosecute him."
"'Liza, gae an' see that Betty's nae mislippenin 'er jots i'
the kitchie," said Mrs. Birse, addressing her daughter with
unwonted peremptoriness. Miss Birse, with very evident reluctance,
obeyed, so far, at any rate, as to leave the parlour;
and her mother continued, "I'm nae su'pris't at onything 't
that creator wud say; but fowk maun hae regaird for the edification
an' richt upfeshin o' their affspring, as Mr. Macrory
taul 's, weel-a-wat; an' I cudna lat the lassie sit an' hear 'er
nain pawrents wilipenit wi' the like o' 'im. Weel?"
"'Oh,' says Dawvid, 'aw'm thinkin' nedder you nor Mr.
Sleekaboot made yer plack a bawbee by tiggin wi' her. So
I 'se lat sleepin' tykes lie there.' An' trow ye me, Dawvid
thocht he hed gi'en them a gey clever cut wi' that — impident
smatchet that he is. An' Maister Tawse sud 'a said some
rael roch words, rebattin on 'im like. Eh, but aw cudna
come owre them, Mrs. Birse, on nae accoont."
"Far be 't fae me to hear their coorse langige," said Mrs.
Birse, "but it's richt that fowk sud ken fat kin' o' characters
they are."
"Deed awat that 's richt true; for as sair 's it is to mention
't. 'Weel' says they, 'an' fat comes o' a' your blawin
aboot fat ye cud dee 't na ither man cud dee?' 'Oh,' says
Dawvid, 'Peter 'imsel' 's a saft breet; he made oot to win free
o' the meetin' by feingyin a drow. Jist bide ye still, fan the
neist meetin' comes, gin I dinna mak' oot to fesh back's drow
till 'im as ill 's ever.' An' wi' that they lied haud'n the saddest
hyse 't cud be. Tawse an' this young docter — he was aye
a weirdless blackguard — i' the lang rin o' 't, made o' Dawvid,
an' swall't the creatur's heid, till he was as prood's oor aul'
turkey cock, an' blawin at the rate o' nae allooance about fat
he cud and sud dee. An' I'm seer, fae fat I gat oot a' Kirsty,
that they hed eikit 'im up till as muckle mischief aboot this
kirk wark 's they cud."
"I dinna doot that neen,"said Mrs. Birse, with an air of
grave self-satisfaction. "An' fat ither cud we expeck fae sic
a weirdless mengyie makin' a teel o' an oonprencipl't, drucken
"Eh, he's a coorse ill-gate't ablach," continued Meg.
"Hooever, that's the rinnin's o' the haill affair; an' aw 'm
seer I cudna hed a licht conscience to keep it out o' yer sicht,
though I was jist richt sair owrecome ere I cud mak' up my
min' aboot tellin' ye 't."
Here Meg Raffan exhibited outward tokens of "owrecomeness,"
for which, happily, Mrs. Birse knew the practical
remedy and applied it. And on the whole she concluded
that her trouble as the entertainer had been tolerably well repaid
by the henwife's visit. The glimpse of Jonathan Tawse's
party, and the sort of estimate she had been enabled to form
of Dawvid Hadden's position in relation to matters polemical
had put her in possession of information which she did not
doubt of being able to use with good effect afterwards.
IT was a fact incapable, I fear, of being successfully disputed,
that Peter Birse, senior, had never profited as he
ought by the exhortations of his wife, ably seconded of late
years by her accomplished daughter, Miss Eliza Birse, in respect
to the necessity of cultivating the virtue of gentility; and
taking care to be select in the choice of his company. At any
rate, had Peter been sufficiently perspicacious he would certainly
not have given Mrs. Birse the too candid narrative he did
of his ongoings at Lowrin Fair. Peter had gone to the Fair,
accompanied by his promising elder son. He had first visited
the "nowt market" at the top of the brae, and cheapened
several stirks; then he had come down to the "fit market,"
and perambulated the same from Barreldykes to the Cross;
and whereas he wanted a bandster for the harvest, he and
Peter, junior, had, after due selection, set on to a regular
haggle with an ancient-looking man, in threadbare blue, with
a green head of oat-straw stuck within the band of his old
stuff hat, signifying that he was a candidate for harvest work.
And by-and-by he had engaged the ancient man for thirty-two
shillings and sixpence of fee, and given him a penny of
arles. This done, Peter had no other business on hand; but
he would, of course, have a look at the horse market, before
he would go home, were it only to give Peter, junior, the
opportunity of increasing his knowledge of the equine race,
and of those who traffic therein. It was then that Peter Birse
met Dawvid Hadden, with whom he had long been on terms
of somewhat close and confidential intimacy; and that Dawvid
being in an uncommonly genial and hospitable humour
they two resolved to be social together, while Peter Birse,
junior, forgathered with certain young men of his own age,
and went off to see life for a little in the thick of men and
But why should Peter Birse, senior, be so very soft as to
tell out bluntly to his wife on the morning after the market
how Dawvid Hadden and he went away together into that
canvas erection by the roadside, with the signboard,
how Dawvid should have no sooner called out, "A halfmutchkin
here, lassie," than they discovered Mains of Yawal,
and one or two acquaintances in a corner; and how they
forthwith beckoned Mains over to bear them company, which
Mains, who was settled down in the tent for the afternoon,
affably did. It was all very proper and necessary to tell Mrs.
Birse, as he was in duty bound, about the character of the
market and the terms of the engagement made with the
bandster; but why not keep to safe generalities about his
own movements thereafter? Of course, Peter Birse wanted
to bring out with impressive effect the gist of certain warnings
delivered by Dawvid Hadden, in presence of Mains, as
aforesaid, for behoof of all who were in danger of following
divisive courses in kirk affairs at that juncture; but, poor
man, he did not perceive that he was taking the very method
to prevent his having the slightest chance of a respectful
"Man, aw div won'er to hear ye speak o' takin' drams fae
the like o' that creatur!"
"Hoot, 'oman, ye wudna hed me to pay't mysel', wud ye?"
said Peter.
"Peter Birse; will ye ever leern to conduck yersel' as
ony weel-menner't person wud? Gin ye hae nae regaird for
yersel', ye mith hae some for yer faimily, peer things."
"I wusna deein nae ill, I'm seer," replied Peter, in a bewildered
"Nae ill! gaen awa' sittin' doon drinkin' in a hovel o' a
tent, wi' a leein, ill-win'et creator like that, an' a drucken
slype like Mains o' Yawal. A bonny example 't ye set to the
risin' generation; an' your ain son tee — Faur was Patie a' the
time 't ye was blebbin an' drinkin' at this rate?"
"Peter? Ou weel he mitha been wi' 's an' he hed like't,
but he gaed aff up the horse market fanever Dawvid an' me
begood to speak."
"Mitha been wi' ye! A fine wye o' deein, leernin ony
young creator sic drucken haibits! — an' ye sat still there the
feck o' the aifterneen?"
"Ou, na, we satna nae time. There was only the halfmutchkin
't Dawvid got, an' the boddom o' a gill 't Mains
feish owre in's han' i' the stoup. I wudna lat 'im ca' nae
mair, though he threepit owre an' owre again 't he wud dee't."
"Humph; an' ye never luikit owre yer shooder for Peter,
to fesh him hame wi' ye, but came awa' wi' this low-life't
"Oh, 'oman, dinna speak that gate. Dawvid's a rael perjink,
weel-leern't body; we've been obleeg't till 'im mony a
time, an' may be 't again; an' he has a gweed hantle o'
poo'er fae the laird, I'se asseer ye."
"Haud yer tongue, Peter Birse! Poo'er or than no — a
grun-offisher glaid to gae aboot an' tell fowk fan to pay their
hens to the laird; the thing that the vera flunkey wud scorn
to dee. That's his poo'er; an' he mak's 'imsel' a muckle man
meddlin' wi' the henwife's wark; an' syne comin' hame ilka
ither nicht fae this an' the neist orra company as fou 's a
"Weel, I never saw the man hae drink upon 'im, an' aw 'm
seer he was freely sober o' the market nicht."
"Dinna ye tell me; the tae corbie winna pyke oot the
tither's e'e. Fan fowk comes hame wi' a face like a Halloweven
fire, there's rizzons for't. Fat kin' o' a pawrent's hert can
ye hae, to come oot o' a market wi' the like o' him, an' leave
them 't 's sibbest t' ye to be pran't, or ill-guidet ony gate?"
"Keep me, 'oman, Peter's nae a littleane noo; fat wud
come owre him?"
"Ay, ye may speer that noo. Gin ye hed been atten'in'
till a fader's duty, ye wudna hed nae sic questions to speer.
I suppose yer freen was needin' a' the help that ye cud gi'e 'im
gin that time to get him hame."
"Forbye that, Dawvid an' me ca'd up an' doon the fit
market for naar an 'oor luikin' for Peter — I 'se warran' he
hedna been seekin' to come hame wi' 's."
"An' little won'er; nae gryte heartnin till 'im, peer man,
to see's nain fader takin' up wi' sic company."
Now, this last remark of Mrs. Birse was scarcely fair.
For she very well knew what, she was fully aware, Peter
Birse, senior, at that moment, did not know, namely, that his
eldest son, Peter Birse, junior, had come home on the previous
evening, not only at a late hour, but, furthermore, with a
broken nose; which, on being caught by his mother as he
was unobtrusively slipping away to bed without showing himself
in the parlour, he accounted for by saying it had been
caused by "something fleein up an' strikin' 's face" as he left
the market. The rational theory on the subject was, that
Peter had got into a quarrel more or less, as young men of
gallant and amatory dispositions will sometimes do on such
occasions, and that he bore the marks of his chivalrous daring
on his countenance. A very few particulars in support
of this theory were, with difficulty, extracted from him by his
fond mother, when she had returned a second time to the
charge; whereupon her reflections took this shape: — that, it
being evident that Peter had got into a vulgar fight with two
or three farm-servant lads, and all about a farm-servant girl
whom Peter had desired, but had not been permitted, to accompany
to her home, it was also evident that she must forthwith
charge herself even more directly than hitherto, with the
duty of developing and directing the young man's matrimonial
intentions. In her maternal solicitude she had not overlooked
this part of her duty, and had, indeed, been fondly hoping
that the little scheme of affection she had endeavoured to
promote between Mrs. Gibb's niece, Mary Howie, and her
own son, Peter, had been gradually ripening all this while.
But the facts that had now partly emerged rather staggered
Mrs. Birse thought on the subject for days, with much
frequency, turning it in her mind first in one shape, then in
another. If she had known who the girl was, but this Peter
stubbornly refused to tell — and, indeed, generally remained
in a sulky state of mind — her feelings would certainly have
carried her the length of seeking the damsel out on set purpose
to upbraid and snub her for the audacious impertinence
which, in such a sphere of life, could allow itself to be the
object of admiration on the part of a wealthy and genteel
farmer's son. Then would her thoughts revert, with a sort of
angry feeling, to Peter Birse, senior, as she remembered all
his vulgarities; and I fear she sometimes audibly hinted at
his baleful responsibility in this whole matter; and Peter
slunk silently away to escape the heinous imputation. Towards
Peter Birse, junior, her feelings had nothing of acrimony
or heat in them. The notion of evil existing in her
excellent son, otherwise than that it might have come by inevitable
inheritance, from his father, had not, in the least,
entered her head. How then could she be angry with him?
The general result of these Lowrin Fair transactions then,
was, first, to leave Mrs. Birse in a state of some dubiety about
her son. That dubiety, however, she had made up her mind
should be removed before long. Only a little more of explicitness
on the part of Peter, junior, was needed to enable
her to institute whatever proceedings the case might demand;
and she knew a little time was required to allow the amiable
young man to get over his present sullen mood. When he
had so far relaxed, she knew it would require only a little
"tycein" to induce him to pour forth all that was in his heart.
So she would bide her time. Then, in so far as her husband
was concerned, she had got, as she believed, most righteous
cause for putting her ban on any further intercourse of a
friendly nature between him and Dawvid Hadden. Peter
had, as he imagined, been working up to the point when he
could, with telling practical effect, bring in Dawvid Hadden's
authority to impose a check on the headlong course his wife
seemed determined on following in kirk matters. But, lo,
his hopes were blasted at once and conclusively; for slow
"i' the uptak'" as Peter was, he could not but feel that, after
the recent morning's overhaul, the quotation of Dawvid's
name in support of his position must be a good deal worse
than useless. Poor Peter; his state of mind was far from a
comfortable one. How willingly would he have given vent
to his perplexities and regrets to Mains of Yawal, to Mr.
Sleekaboot, even to Jonathan Tawse, or anybody who could
sympathise in his sentiments and concurrently deplore with
him what was likely to happen if things went on in the direction
in which his non-intrusion neighbours were driving them.
But then the thought that Mrs. Birse might find it all out,
haunted him, and he could only obtain a solace for his
troubled mind by turning to his own servant, Tam Meerison,
now a staid married man, and, as opportunity offered, disclosing
to Tam the burdened state of his feelings.
THE uniform and deep interest which Mrs. Birse of
Clinkstyle manifested in the welfare of her family was
clearly seen in her anxious desire to reach a full acquaintance
with those causes that had led to her eldest son, Peter, coming
home from Lowrin Fair slightly damaged in person, and
considerably soured in spirit; and not less so in the course
she adopted with a view to setting the young man up again,
and inducing him to go on in the path chalked out for him
by maternal wisdom and solicitude. In the first place, with
a view to stimulate in Peter that sentiment of grateful confidence
which was likely to lead to a full disclosure of the
troubles that had been weighing on his spirit, she resolved to
surprise him with a very handsome present. About that
date, plush waistcoats were an object of strong desire with
many young men of Peter's years and tastes: plush waistcoats,
double-breasted, and with many pearl buttons on them.
Such a waistcoat of blue plush was a garment of high attractions,
but one of red plush fairly outdid it, and put its owner
In a position of singular distinction. There was just a little
doubt in Mrs. Birse's mind whether a plush vest was to be
reckoned genteel. Miss Birse had pronounced it vulgar;
but then it was well enough understood that the heart of
Peter Birse, junior, was set upon having that very article of
clothing, and it was not to be expected that Peter should
change his mind for anything his sister might say; indeed,
the contrary effect was certain to be produced. Therefore, to
gratify his wish now was very much in the nature of making
a virtue of necessity — not to speak of the object to be directly
attained in so doing. Mrs. Birse went to the Kirktown, and
ascertained through Jock Will, now promoted to the dignity
of apprentice to Andrew Langchafts, that the merchan' had
on his shelves a piece of red plush, which he might be concussed
into selling on very reasonable terms, inasmuch as it
had proved hitherto to be dead stock, being an article quite
beyond the mark of the ordinary beaux of Pyketillim.
"The merchan' 's nae in, is he, laddie?" asked Mrs. Birse,
turning over the pieces of plush on the counter.
"No, nae enoo," was Jock's reply.
"But ye say the reid bit 's never been price't?"
"I heard 'im sayin' that."
"Weel, aw dinna won'er at it — lyin' tooshtin aboot there
till it 's fooshtit and half ate'n wi' the mochs. Cut ye aff a
yaird an' a finger-length than, an' gi'e me a dizzen o' pearl
buttons, an' we'll sattle aboot the price wi' 'imsel'. Na, Jock,
but ye are a braw man noo," continued Mrs. Birse, as Jock
went on to fulfil her orders in a business-like style. "Nae
less nor cairryin a shears i' yer waistcoat pouch already; aw
wudna won'er to see ye wi' a chop o' yer nain yet."
Jock laughed his own quiet laugh, and went on with his
The announcement of the red plush vest had a highly
salutary effect upon Peter Birse, junior. He now relaxed
with a suddenness that made the muscles of his face feel the
thaw almost uncomfortably; he would have desired that the
severity of his countenance should have disappeared more
gradually, but the sight of the red plush was too much for
him — his mother had taken care to bring the unmade piece
home with the pearl buttons to display them before his eyes.
It was in the parlour, and they two were alone by themselves.

"Noo, Patie, man," said Mrs. Birse, with affecting emphasis,
"fa 'll dee as muckle for ye as yer nain mither? Gin
her heid war caul' i' the mools, aw doot there 's fyou wud luik
aifter ye as she wud dee."
Mrs. Birse endeavoured to look pathetic. Peter certainly
did look sheepish for some minutes — and, in so far as he was
able to distract his eye and his consciousness from the piece
of red plush, he let his thoughts dwell next on what his
mother had said, as he blurted out "Hoot, fat 's the eese o'
speakin' that gate — I'm sure I'm nae af'en on an ill teen."
And then Peter became confidential, and informed his mother
how, failing to find his attentions duly reciprocated by Mary
Howie, he had gone to Lowrin Fair in a somewhat desperate
mood; how, at an advanced period of the fair, the determination
had seized him to exhibit his gallantry independently,
by walking home with a servant girl who was a mere casual
acquaintance; so Peter said, the truth being that the girl was
a former servant of Mrs. Birse's own; and how, as she happened
to have another beau, certain little unpleasantnesses
had occurred, and Peter in addition to the slight amount of
damage he had sustained, writhed greatly under the idea that
he had been laughed at, a sort of ordeal he greatly disliked.
"Ay weel, weel, Patie, man: that's jist a bit lesson to
ye," said Mrs. Birse, who had now dismissed her charnel-house
tone. "Them 't sets to coortin the lasses maun temper
their nose to the east win' as weel 's the south."
"I wasna wuntin her!" quoth Peter, bluntly.
"Na, I'm richt weel seer 't ye wud never luik owre yer
shooder at nae servan' quine. But, my laddie, min' ye're nae
to be bauch and chucken-heartit though Mary Howie sud gi'e
her heid a bit cast files at the first. That's nae mark; she
may be rael prood to be name't to ye. An' min' ye that
Mary's grown a strappin, weel-faur't lass: an' though she
hisna the menners nor edication o' yer sister — "
"Hah, I dinna care a tinkler's curse for menners," exclaimed
Peter, candidly, "gin aw cud get 'er."
"An' she's a richt servan'," continued his mamma, not
heeding the interruption; "an' fan the aul' fowk wears awa'
ye wud be seer to get the muckle feck o' fat they hae gin ye
play'd yer cairts the richt gate — for Gushets has nae near
freens o' 's nain. An' ye mith aiven, in coorse o' naitur, come
in to Gushetneuk itsel', tee. It's a likeable spot, an' richt weel
in heart kin'ly grun'ie."
"But fat wud aw dee wi' Gushetneuk? Aw thocht I was
to get oor ain toon; amnin aw?"
"Seerlv; but hear me oot. Ye cud manage baith pairts
brawly. Though fowk grows aul' in coorse o' time, your
fader an' me maun hae some gate to bide. An' wi' Robbie
intil anither place, an' Benjie at 's buzness, we cud live there
fine; awat it 's a richt gweed hoose, gin it hed but a back
chimley bigget; only there 's little eese o' that as lang's the
like o' Mr. an' Mrs. Gibb has 't. Your fader cud trock
aboot at 's leasure on a placie like Gushetneuk — he wud be
aye worth 's breid — an' lat you tak' chairge an' mak' market
for baith places."
"Weel, that wud dee fine," said Peter Birse, junior,
brightening up at the brilliant prospect thus opened up to
him. His countenance fell, however, as he added, "But I
dinna ken gin she cares for 's ava."
"Care for ye? Fat wud pit that styte i' yer heid?"
"Weel, at ony rate, ye ken, I bocht sweeties at St. Saar's
Fair, an' fuish till 'er" —
"Weel, an' didna she tak' them?"
"Ou ay, but I'm maist sure 't she hed taul' Jock Wull,
for they war lauchin at 's aboot the chop, upo' Saiterday's
"Lat them lauch that wins, Peter, man. Jock Wull wud
need it. Fat's he — the sin o' a peer nace nyaukit beggar
creatur, 't hisna passin' a gweed barrow load o' wardle's gear
to bless 'ersel' wi'! Set himsel' up wi' the like o' you, though
ye warna my son! The impidence o' creaturs is a perfect
scunner. But never ye min' Jock Wull; an' he gae far that
road they'll seen get their sairin o' him, an' 's mither tee; an'
little maitter, weel-a-wat. — Gin I had bit kent that afore I gaed
to the chop, no!" added Mrs. Birse, in a subdued key.
"But he gaes hame wi' 'er mony a time; an' fan I try't to
get her to come hame wi' me fae the Ward at Yeel, she made
fun o' 's a file an' syne, aifter aw thocht she wud dee 't, gaed
aff wi' aul' marriet fowk."
"'Fant hert never wan fair dame,' Peter," said Mrs.
Birse, with a half scornful laugh. "That's been the gate wi'
mair nor Mary Howie, as your nain fader cud tell, an' he
war willin'. Mony was the 'put an' row' wi' him ere he gat
muckle audiscence, I can tell ye. But though he wusna the
young man o' a braw fairm than, he made it oot at the lang
length, by dint o' patience an' perseverance."
"Weel, but gin she like Jock Wull better," argued Peter,
upon whom the "green-eyed monster" was operating so sensibly
that the image of his, as he believed, more successful
rival, would not leave his mind.
"Gae 'wa' wi' ye!" exclaimed his mother, with some impatience.
"Fear't at Jock Wull, an apprentice loon in a bit
orra choppie, an' you as weel plenish't a fairmer's sin as there
is i' the pairis. — For shame to ye, Peter, man, 't ye hae so
little spunk."
"Cudnin ye fesh 't about nae wye to Mrs. Gibb than?"
asked the gallant youth.
Mrs. Birse, after a moment's reflection, assented to this
suggestion, and agreed to do her best with both Johnny and
Mrs. Gibb, to pave the way more directly for Peter's matrimonial
campaign. Meanwhile, she further exhorted Peter to
pursue the same resolutely on his own account.
TO Johnny Gibb, the summer of 1842 was a season of unusual
mental activity. The great kirk controversy was
waxing hotter and hotter, and a crisis, in some shape, seemed
certain at no distant date. The spring of that year had seen
the settlement of a minister in a Strathbogie parish, in anticipation
of which it had been deemed prudent, after what had
occurred at Culsalmond, actually to have a company of soldiers
conveyed from Aberdeen to the neighbourhood. The
settlement took place quietly enough, but the fact that the
moderatism of the Church had indicated its temper in this
militant fashion could not fail to arouse still more deeply the
belligerent element in a nature like that of Johnny Gibb. He
declared that things could not stop short of a rebellion,
which would put that of the "Forty-five" in the shade.
Then, at the General Assembly, the deposed ministers of
Strathbogie both presented commissions for those of their
own number whom they chose to send up, and also offered at
the bar of that right reverend house a Court of Session interdict
against those of the minority of their brethren from the
Presbytery, who had been elected commissioners, and who,
according to the Assembly's own previous decision, were the
only true representatives of the Presbytery. When the news
of this had travelled north to Gushetneuk, through the medium,
in the latter part of its journey, of a steady-going
Aberdeen newspaper, which Johnny Gibb, notwithstanding
that its opinions differed toto cælo from his own, continued
to peruse with regularity, Johnny hastened down in the
gloamin to Smiddyward to relieve his overwrought mind by
some conversation with the souter and the smith.
"I tell ye fat it is,"said Johnny, "they winna halt till the
earth open an' swallow up a batch o' them, like Korah,
Dathan, an' Abiram."
"Nae doot we 're comin' upo' times o' trial," answered the
souter, "but it cheats me sair gin a' this heemlin creengin
to the Coort o' Session binna jist i' the wye o' plantin' a
saplin' to grow the stick that 'll brak their nain heids some
day yet."
"That means 't punishment winna owretak' the Moderates
in a han'-clap, as it cam' upo' Korah an' 's company," said
the smith. "But hae the Stra'bogie Moderates actually been
alloo't to tak' their seats i' the Assembly, you that's seen the
"Na, man: I hinna wull o' 't. Ill that we are, we're nae
come to that yet,"said Johnny. "But nae fyour nor eighty-five
votit for them, an' twa hunner an' fifteen against; an'
their enterdick to keep oot Maister Dewar, Maister Leith, an'
this Mawjor Stewart, the rowlin el'er, was cas'n by a hunner
an' seventy-three votes to seventy-sax."
"Gweed fair majorities that, Gushets; they're sair i' the
backgrun, ye see."
"Ay, but luik at oor parliamenters, the heid deesters
amo' them ken so little about richt prenciples in kirk matters.
This Graham's nae sair to ride the water on wi' that nor nae
ither thing; an' Lord Aberdeen's bit milk-and-water schaime
's far fae the richt thing."
"Jist like ither half-an'-half mizzours," said the souter."
"It'll dee mair ill nor gweed i' the lang rin. Ye canna serve
God an' mammon, aiven wi' a bull oot o' Parliament. But
ye 're comin' unco near it there, Gushets. The fattal thing's
nae that there's a camp o' Moderates to conten' against: lat
them stan' upo' their nain shee soles, an' they wud be scatter't
like cauff afore the win'; but dinna ye see that they're playin'
into the han's o' a set o' men that hae poo'er o' their side, an'
owre af'en but little o' the fear o' Gweed afore their een?"
"The Government, ye mean?" said the smith.
"An' the Coort n' Session," added Johnny.
"Ay," continued the souter, "an' the pawtrons."
"True, true," interposed Johnny Gibb, "the thing's rotten,
reet an' crap."
"Nae doot o' that; but luik at this," and the souter took
up a newspaper containing a report of the General Assembly,
which he had carefully conned. "Here's the debate on pawtronage
— 'Mr. Cunningham moved that the Assembly resolve
and declare that patronage is a grievance, has been attended
with much injury to the cause of true religion in the Church
and kingdom, is the main cause of the difficulties in which
the Church is at present involved, and that it ought to be
abolished;' that was sec-ondit by ane Mr. Buchan o' Kelloe,
an extensive lan'it proprietor i' the Border coonty o' Berwickshire,
Mr. Macrory taul' me. Foo cud ony richt-thinkin' man
backspeak a motion like that noo?"
"I daursay Gushets winna dee 't, but aw b'lieve him an'
Maister Sleekaboot raither differs aboot the benefits o' pawtronage,"
said the smith, with a sly twinkle in his eye.
"I see brawly fat ye're lattin at," answered Johnny. "An'
nae thanks to Maister Sleekaboot to fawvour pawtronage, 't
wud 'a never gotten a kirk ava haud awa' fae 't. But I 'se gae
nae farrer nor 'imsel' for preef o' the evils o' that system; an
ill-less, gweedless creatur, ye may tell me, but nae mair fit to
be minaister o' a pairis nor a blin' man is to herd sheep. An'
syne fat d' ye mak' o' sic ootrages as Marnoch an' Culsalmon',
to keep near han' hame?"
"Weel, takin' a' that's come an' gane intill accoont, fat
sud actually happen noo, but that nae less nor a hunner an'
forty-seyven members o' Assembly sud vote against Mr. Cunningham's
motion — an' some nae far fae oor ain quarter spak'
their warst against it?" said the souter.
"It was cairriet though?" queried the smith.
"Ou ay, by a sma' majority: twa hunner an' fifteen votit
for 't. But see sic a han'le as that state o' maitters gi'es to
them that 's but owre weel-will't to be lords owre God's
spititual heritage, fan they can say, 'Oh the tae half o' the
kirk wants pawtronage.' But the rowle obteens throu' a' —
'whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap.' An' tak'
ye my word for 't, the day 'll come yet that this pawtronage 'll
be a bane that 'll stick i' the thrapple o' the Moderate pairty o'
the Kirk o' Scotlan', seein' that they hed it in their poo'er to
sweep it clean aff the face o' the Ian', but refees't to len' their
assistance. An' it's waefu' to see the num'er o' men that
better things micht hae been expeckit o' takin' that timesairin
coorse. To them, also, may the words be appliet that
oor freen sae af'en quotit: —
The sons of Ephraim, who nor bows
Nor other arms did lack;
When as the day of battle was,
They faintly turned back.
Hooever, the Kirk's coorse has been made perfeckly clear.
Her 'Claim o' Rights,' mov't by Dr. Chalmers, an' sec-ondit
by Dr. Gordon, 's been cairriet by twa hunner an' forty-one
to a hunner an' ten; an' we 'll see ane o' twa things — the true
Kirk o' Scotlan' restor't till her richtfu' claims, or leavin' her
manses, kirks, an' stipen's for the sake o' her spiritual liberties."
"It's a perfeck trowth, souter!" exclaimed Johnny Gibb.
"Ye never spak' mair to the pint i' yer life. There'll be a
winnowin' o' the cauff fae the corn yet, wi' a vengeance."
When Johnny Gibb took his yearly journey to the Wells
at Macduff, he could not fail to visit his friend, Maister
Saunders, at Marnoch, who gave him a spirit-stirring narrative
of how the miniature Disruption there had been carried
through; how they had worshipped in a quarry for a time;
how about twelve months previous to the date of Johnny
Gibb's visit they had commenced to build a church and
manse, to cost, together, well on to £2000; and how subscriptions
had come to them from east and west, from
north and south, some even from across the Atlantic, insomuch
that they had a goodly surplus, which they had trusted
to invest as a partial endowment for their minister, who was
now about to be inducted. On one point Johnny and Maister
Saunders were quite clear — that there must now be a separation
of the wheat from the chaff; that is to say, of the non-intrusion,
or rather the evangelical from the moderate element.
Johnny returned, indeed, fully of opinion that the
Kirk throughout would be rent in two, even after the manner
of that which he had now seen with his own eyes on a small
scale. "Lat it come," said Johnny; "onything to roose the
countra fae the caul' morality o' a deid moderatism." Of
course Johnny spoke strongly; but in that particular he was
not singular; strong language was common on both sides.
Even able editors on the side to which he was opposed, as
Johnny heard and read, designated the leaders and clerical
party in whom he believed by such choice designations as
"Edinburgh popes," "Candlish & Co.," "highflyers," "wild
men," "agitators," "reckless disturbers of the peace of the
Church," and so on; and in point of warmth and "personality"
the addresses of the fathers and brethren when they
met were at times rather well worth hearing by those who
relished anything in that vein. At the meeting of the Synod
of Aberdeen, in October of this year, the moderate party had
the upper hand — they carried their candidate for the moderatorship
(Mr. Watt, Foveran) by 79 votes to 58 for Mr.
Simpson, Trinity Church, Aberdeen, proposed by the other
side; and also, after a fair amount of rather pointed talk,
carried a resolution to admit to the sittings of the Synod the
ministers of the Garioch Presbytery, suspended for their part
in the Culsalmond business. In a subsequent discussion, one
rev. brother observed that "the blighting influence of moderatism
had been thrown over all their institutions; and
even its corrupting hand had been thrown over their colleges
and universities, rendering them rather the schools of hell
than of heaven;" whereupon two other rev. brethren suggested
whether the speaker's words should not be taken
down, with a view to ulterior proceedings, while a third
rather thought it might "be better to hear them with silent
WITH the November "Convocation" of 1842, the ferment
within the Kirk of Scotland reached about as
great a pitch of intensity as it was possible for it to attain.
While on the one hand the results of the gathering of over
400 ministers of the evangelical section in Edinburgh was
held to give great encouragement to the non-intrusion party,
it was predicted on the other "that the reign of fanaticism
was near an end, and the triumph of moderatism and rational
religion at hand." In a few weeks thereafter meetings began
to be held here and there in the interest of the non-intrusion
party, for the purpose of giving all who were desirous of receiving
it, information "on the present state of the Church;"
and affording to the people the opportunity of subscribing
papers declaring their adherence to the resolutions of the
Convocation. The attempt to hold such meetings in parishes
where the ministers leant to the moderate side was denounced
in language more vehement than polite. Jonathan Tawse
was only re-echoing in a strictly literal way what he had read in
very legible print in a Tory newspaper, when he characterised
it as "a dirty and disgusting" proceeding. "But," added
Jonathan, "the fanatics winna try that here — they'll never
come this length."
"Cudna they be ta'en an order o' gin they war to dee 't?"
asked Mains o' Yawal, to whom Jonathan had addressed the
foregoing remark, as they walked amicably home, one Sunday
afternoon, after counting the bawbees.
"Nae doot o' 't," answered Jonathan promptly. "It's
against baith ecclesiastical an' statute law."
"An' wud it be a fine or jilein than?"
"That depen's o' the form o' trial — there might be discipline,
inferrin' censure, an' deprivation o' status an' privileges;
or a process i' the ceevil coorts."
"An' filk o' them wud be warst likein?" inquired Mains,
who was anxious to be informed, but rather bewildered by
Jonathan's learned deliverance.
"Ou, that's jist as ye set maist store o' yer pride or yer
purse; a bit canny joukin to lat the jaw gae owre 's nae
thrown awa' wi' presbyteries eeswally; nor heritors either,"
added Jonathan, with a slight tinge of bitterness, as he
thought how scantly his own merits had been appreciated by
that class.
"Weel, aw dinna ken: it 's an unco time,"said Mains,
'''t peaceable fowk canna be latt'n aleen. I kenna fat they
wud hae; there's been nae ane meddlin' wi' the kirk cep
some o' that Edinboro' fowk, an' noo they're begun aboot
Aiberdeen tee, they say."
The truth was that Mains had suffered one or two assaults
from Johnny Gibb on this subject; when, being an elder, it
was, of course, needful to be able to give a reason for the
faith that was in him. There was no want of will on his part
to do so, but while Mains's zeal in defence of "rational religion"
had been growing, his stock of polemical argument had
not correspondingly increased, so that he had felt a little hard
pressed in the matter; and he therefore desired to avail himself
as far as might be of the dominie's superior knowledge.
Mains had now, as he believed, got such an insight into the
law of the case as ought to stand him in some stead, if he
could bear in mind the phrases "ecclesiastical" and "statute"
law. As his question indicated; he was not quite so
confident as Jonathan that the "wild men" might not even
invade Pyketillim, if they were not frightened off betimes; and
he now articulately expressed his apprehensions on that head.
"Fat!" exclaimed Jonathan Tawse, "tell me that that
ettercap, Gushetneuk, 's been thratenin that the faces o' some
o' them 'll be seen here ere lang?"
"I'm nae biddin' ye tak' my word for 't, Maister Tawse,
though he fell upo' me comin' oot o' An'ersmas Fair like a
thoosan' o' divots, an misca'd the minaister, and said that he
sud seen hae ane here that wud lat the fowk ken fat like he
was — but speir ye at Dawvid Hadden."
"I'm nae misdootin yer word, Mains; he's a disaffeckit
creatur, an' likes to be i' the heid o' things. An' fan the like
o' 'im's amo' them that canna keep 'im in aboot, they'll gae
gryte lengths."
The last remark was not exactly complimentary to Mains,
who did not see its application clearly, however,but went on, "Ou
weel, ye see, I wud 'a fun't wi' 'im a bit; only he wudna haud
a word o' me; but was up i' my witters like a fechtin cock."
"Was Dawvid wi' ye?"
"Na, na; sin' ever that skweel meetin' i' the spring,
Dawvid's been i' the black buiks wi' 'im, an' wudna gae within
a rig-length o' Gushets an' he cud help it."
"Hoo cud he ken o' 's projecks than?"
"Weel, ye 'll min' o' the cheelie that was wi' me fernyear
was a year, that leern't to be a mole-catcher."
"Brawly — a settril, braid-fac't chappie."
"Ay, ay, jist that. He was at Gushetneuk a' hairst, an' 's
been takin' moles i' the neebourheid throu' the en' o' the year.
Weel, Gushets 's pitten him as heich 's himsel' aboot this
non-intrusion wark. He's aye eikin 'im up, an' Dawvid, fan
he's on's roun's, lats at him fanever they meet aboot the kirk;
an' syne Molie canna hae't an' haud it, ye ken."
"Ou ay, an' Dawvid acks the moudiewort wi' him."
"Weel, ye ken, Molie's a simple cheelie, an' Dawvid gets
onything that's gyaun on wi' Gushets, aw b'lieve, seener
throu' him nor he cud dee ony ither gate."
"Vera like Dawvid's sneck-drawin'; he was aye a straucht-oot-the-gate
callant!" said Jonathan, with a very obvious
sneer at the zealous ground-officer's proclivities.
But although Jonathan could be sarcastic about Dawvid
Hadden in friendly conference with his brother elder, he was
far from being averse to availing himself, as opportunity
served, of Dawvid's gossip about the local feeling in kirk
matters. Jonathan had, in fact, begun to regard himself as a
sort of guardian of "rational religion" in the parish. The
Rev. Andrew Sleekaboot held opinions more orthodox than
his own, probably, anent the sacred rights of the patron, and
the pernicious fanaticism which would question the powers of
the Civil Court; but what then, if the Rev. Andrew Sleekaboot
— with the exception of a quiet thrust from the pulpit
occasionally — was rather studious to avoid collision, than desirous
of enforcing his authority upon those of his parishioners
who were manifesting a tendency to follow divisive courses.
Mr. Sleekaboot believed in patient waiting; the spirit of
fanaticism, he still said, would die out. But even although
"the whirligig of time" might bring about a properly sobered
state of mind among these people, the process was altogether
too tedious for the Rev. Jonathan Tawse's temper. And he
had become fully determined to strike a blow for Kirk and
State, whenever and wherever occasion offered.
Therefore it was that, when, on a certain evening not
many days after the occurrence of the foregoing conversation,
Jonathan Tawse caught sight of Dawvid Hadden passing the
end of the school homeward, he hailed him with the utmost
frankness, and invited Dawvid in to take sneeshin and a drink
of ale.
"An' fan saw ye Gushetneuk?"asked Jonathan.
"Weel, I foryet noo," said Dawvid thoughtfully. "It's nae
time syne; but I'm seein' sae mony daily day."
"Is he as keen o' the kirk sin' ye gae 'im sic a fleg aboot
Hairry Muggart's meetin'?"
"Weel, they've never daur't to try the like o' 't again; an' I
gar't Hairry 'imsel' shak' in's sheen aboot that at ony rate."
"An' Gushets — I've nae doot he wud be o' the steel o'
repentance aboot it tee?"
"Hairry was a kin' o' heid deester there, ye see, an' it
wusna worth my pains min'in' the lave."
"O-oh. I thocht ye gae Gushets up's fit — Fat's this 't he's
been bullyraggin Mains aboot than — anither meetin' that he's
to haud at the Ward wi' some o' the highflyers?"
"I could maybe tell ye that tee, Maister Tawse," said
Dawvid with an air of some consequence.
"I dinna doot it, Dawvid; I dinna doot it. Ye've a gran'
scent for fin'in' oot the like o' that, man."
"It maitters na fat wye I fan 't oot, but I'm quite awaar
't they've set the nicht for a meetin' wi' ane o' the rovin' commission,
doon at Peterkin's hole o' a skweel."
"So the mole-catcher creatur was sayin', I believe,"remarked
Jonathan, wickedly.
"Maybe," said Dawvid, in a half offended tone; "an' nae
doot he wud tell ye a hantle mair nor the like o' me cud dee
aboot it."
"Na, na; he only said that Gushets sud say that he was
quite prepar't to set the laird's delegate, Dawvid Hadden, at
"An' did he tell ye fat authority the 'laird's delegate'
hed fae Sir Simon 'imsel' to enterdick ony sic meetin', an' fat
mizzours he hed ta'en ere noo to pit a stop till't?" asked
Dawvid, promptly.
These were points that Jonathan really desired to know
definitely about, so he gave up the bantering tone, and by a
little judicious flattery induced Dawvid to explain to him how,
on the evening of next Friday, which was fixed for the meeting,
he proposed being down with a body of men and some
dogs absolutely to prevent the assembling of a non-intrusion
meeting in the Smiddyward school. A letter he had received
from Sir Simon gave him full authority to adopt that course
(as Dawvid interpreted it); and Jonathan Tawse, who, as the
conversation went on, had latterly waxed warm on the subject,
not merely approved of the scheme, but declared he
would be present himself, along with some of his trusty personal
friends, to give what aid might be required.
"Friday nicht at seven o'clock — we 'se gi'e Gushets an' 's
non-intrusionists as snell a nizzen as they've gotten yet.
Gweed nicht, Dawvid," said the dominie.
"Gweed nicht, sir: an' I'll be stappin," answered Dawvid.
And so they parted.
WHEN the Rev. Jonathan Tawse was to have a dinner
party, the "laddies" at the school were sure to become
quite aware of what was about to take place. The external
symptoms of the coming event were visible in Jonathan's person
and movements. He "sowffed" more to himself than
usual, in an abstracted way, on these days; one or other of
the lessons were sure to be curtailed, and more of them were
slurred over, for Jonathan had to go out repeatedly to the
kitchen through the middle door to confer with Baubie, his
housekeeper; then, though we might be taken into school
sharp at the end of the play hour, we knew that this would
be more than made up by the promptitude with which we
should be dismissed at a quarter after three, in place of an
hour later. And above all — just as it was wont to be in the
years before, on the days when Lord Kintore, and that great
hero of our youthful imagination, Joe Grant, the huntsman,
came round on a fox hunt — we knew perfectly well there
would be no risk of "lickin," unless for offences of the most
outrageous kind.
On this side of it, Jonathan's character called forth my
warmest admiration at the time; and, indeed, I don't know
that I am called upon to qualify that admiration in any
material degree even yet. At any rate, that he was a jovial
and kindly host on those occasions was not to be doubted.
It was testified by the very countenances of his visitors as
they were sometimes seen by us assembling about the entry
door, ere we began to take our loitering departure homeward.
It was on the forenoon of the Friday on which, as Dawvid
Hadden had informed Jonathan Tawse, Johnny Gibb and
his non-intrusion friends were to have their evening meeting,
that Jonathan's pupils were set agog by symptoms of the
nature of those referred to. Jonathan was fully bent on
carrying out the resolution he had announced to Dawvid, of
going down to Smiddyward school, and interposing an authoritative
check to the proceedings of the fanatics, against
whom his "gorge" had been gradually rising for many
months. And he deemed it suitable to assemble a few of his
friends, staunch and true champions of moderate religion,
who should accompany him in the guise of faithful witnesses.
The company included Mains of Yawal, Teuchitsmyre, and
Braeside, who, of course, as his fellow-elders, could not be
omitted, and Dr. Drogemweal, junior, to whom he had written
a note, specially explaining the object of the meeting.
The doctor, as may be here said, was a great fleshy-looking
fellow, about thirty, or a few years beyond it. He was not to
be termed brilliant as a professional man. His grand characteristics
seemed to be the enjoyment of robust animal health,
and love of good fellowship; and his present zeal for the Kirk
of Scotland was somewhat difficult to account for, seeing his
attendance at church on Sundays did not average much over
once in twelve months.
The dinner was a capital dinner, for Baubie's capabilities
as a cook were unimpeachable, and she served no less efficiently
than she cooked. Her master spoke familiarly to her,
and Baubie, in turn, spoke just as familiarly to the guests.
And thus, as Braeside sat masticating, long and seriously,
with his knife and fork in either hand, set in a perpendicular
attitude on the table, she would coaxingly urge him to "see
an' mak' a denner o' 't, noo — an' nae min' fowk 't eats as gin
they war on a waager, "while to Drogemweal's mock profession
of his sense of obligation to her for the numerous good
dinners she had provided for him, she retorted promptly,
"Oh, it's weel kent that at'en maet 's ill to pay."
"Ye hae 'im there, Baubie, at ony rate," quoth the
dominie. "If ye had been wise, doctor, ye wud 'a keepit by
the aul' proverb that says, 'Dit your mou' wi' your meat.'
Isna that the wye o' 't, Mains?"
Mains, who had been acting on the proverb by keeping
perfect silence, and attending to his dinner, declared his belief
that the dominie was quite right, and added something
about Jonathan's "leernin," giving him such an advantage,
in a wide comprehension of these "aul', auncient byewords."
When the dinner was finished, they had their toddy. It
was yet two hours to the time of meeting; and in the interval
they would discuss the general aspect of affairs. So, after
they had concocted the first tumbler, and duly pledged each
other, Jonathan took up an Aberdeen newspaper, wherein
were recorded certain of the proceedings of the evangelical
ministers, who were visiting different parishes, for the purpose
of holding meetings. First he put on his "specs," and next he
selected and read out several paragraphs, with such headings
B—," and so on, winding up this part with the concluding
words of one such paragraph, which were these — "So ended
this compound of vain, false, and seditious statements on the
position of the Church, and which must have been most offensive
to every friend of truth, peace, or loyalty who heard it."
"I say Amen to ilka word o' that," said Dr. Drogemweal.
"Sneevellin hypocrites. That's your non-intrusion meetin's.
It concerns every loyal subject to hae them pitten doon."
"Here's fat the editor says in a weel-reason't, an' vera
calm an' temperate article," continued Jonathan "he's
speakin' o' the fire-raisers — 'How much reliance could be
placed on the kind of information communicated by these
reverend gentlemen will be readily imagined by such of our
readers as have read or listened to any of the harangues
which the schismatics are so liberally dealing forth. If
simple laymen, in pursuing objects of interest or ambition,
were to be guilty of half the misrepresentation of facts and
concealment of the truth which are now, it would seem,
thought not unbecoming on the part of Evangelical ministers,
they would be justly scouted from society.' That's fat I
ca' sen'in' the airrow straucht to the mark."
"Seerly," interposed Mains, who had been listening with
much gravity.
"A weel-feather't shaft tee," said Dr. Drogemweal.
"An' it 's perfectly true, ilka word o' 't. They're nae better
o' the ae han' nor incendiaries, wan'erin here an' there to
raise strife amo' peaceable fowk; an' syne their harangues — a
clean perversion o' the constitutional law, an' veelint abuse o'
the institutions o' the countra."
"Did ye hear sic a rouse as they hed wi' them doon in
Fintray last week?" asked the doctor.
"No; the paper disna come till the morn," answered
"I wud 'a gi'en a bottle o' black strap till 'a been there;
an it was jist the barest chance that I didna hear o' 't in
time," said Dr. Drogemweal.
"Was there a row?"
"Row! ay was there. An' maugre the leather lungs o'
them, the fowk roar't them doon whan they try't to get up a
meetin' in a mannie Knicht's barn; an' fan they saw 't it was
like to be a case o' physical force they war forc't to skulk oot
o' the parish, like as mony tykes wi' their tails atween their
legs. That's the style for the non-intrusion fanatics, Mr.
"Weel, I never thocht they wud be ill to beat at argument;
but they dinna deserve a hearin', it maun be alloo't.
They hinna a fit to stan' upon i' the licht o' logic and common
sense, lat alane statute law."
"Na, na; a 'staffy-nevel job,' 's aul' Skinner has 't," exclaimed
the doctor, with emphasis, refilling his tumbler.
"Physical force is the argument for them."
Mains and his fellow-elders had been rather thrown out
in this discussion, and while it still went on, Braeside, whose
attitude had been purely that of a listener, now ventured to
ask his neighbour quietly, "Fat dis he mean, Mains, by aye
speakin' o' 'feesikle force' — is 't ony kin' o' drogs?"
"Na, na," answered Mains, who was gratified to find
himself in a position to give instruction on this occasion.
"'Feesikle force' jist means to lay fae ye a' 't yer able."
"Keep's an' guide's," said Braeside, "that seerly canna
be fat he means; there's never been nae ill neepourheid amo'
the fowk roon hereaboot."
"Weel, it's their nain blame," answered Mains, vaguely.
"Fat is 't, boys?" shouted Drogemweal. "Keep the
bottle gaen there — thank ye. Ye'll need to lat the fanatics
see that they winna come here for naething."
"We wus jist speakin' aboot 'feesikle force,' doctor,"
answered Mains confidently.
"Ou ay; physical force, if it be necessary. Mr. Tawse'll
gi'e them jaw; an' I think for wecht at the ither style o' argument
'we three' sud haud oor ain. But they're to hae nae
meetin' here at ony rate."
"Dawvid Hadden'll dee that pairt o' 't, dootless," said
Jonathan, "if he be as gweed's his word."
"Yon bit pernicketty wallydraggle! He'll dee some service,
or than no."
"He's airm't wi' poo'er fae the laird, though — so I b'lieve
— to keep them oot o' their conventicle. But jist pit roun' the
kettlie there, an' haud gaen. We'll need to start in a few
"My certie, yer richt; it's the quarter past six," said Dr.
Drogemweal, looking up at Jonathan's eight-day clock.
"We maun start at ance, or they may be a' gather't afore we
win there."
The doctor then gulped down the remaining contents of
his tumbler, and Jonathan having given Baubie orders to
have a haddock ready by the time Dr. Drogemweal and he
should return, an hour and a half or so thereafter, the valiant
Church defenders set out for Smiddyward school — Jonathan
and the doctor marching in front, the latter with a big stick
in his hand, and Mains, Teuchitsmyre, and Braeside, who
had begun to be a little uncertain of the part they were
expected to play, following behind.
WHILE Jonathan Tawse and his friends plodded down
towards the hamlet of Smiddyward, they had, as I
have indicated, separated into two groups, Jonathan and Dr.
Drogemweal going in front, while Mains of Yawal and the
other elders gradually fell behind, to the distance of about ten
yards. It was a cloudy evening in February, though partial
moonlight helped somewhat to lighten the darkness of the
way. When they had reached to within about a furlong of
the Ward, at the point where the road leading from the hamlet
joined the kirk road, some one passed them going in the
opposite direction.
"Eh, man!" exclaimed Braeside, after stopping and looking
for a second or two in the direction in which the figure
had gone, "an' that binna Dawvid Haddon, it's seerly his
"It canna be Dawvid," answered Mains, "for we ken 't
he'll be doon at the Ward skweel afore 's."
"That's as lucky at ony rate," said Braeside, "for I'm
nae jist vera keerious aboot that doctor's protticks, an'
Dawvid's hed a hantle o' expairience — 'serve's, it wud be an
unco thing to gar fowk get ill-willers amo' their neebours."
"Weel, but ye see they're brakin' the staito law o' the
kwintra," replied Mains, "speer ye at Maister Tawse an'
he'll tell ye the same."
"It's a terrible daurin thing to gae on in sic a menner,"
said Teuchitsmyre.
"Ou, aw'm nae misdootin' 't; but it disna weel to mak'
fash amo' kent fowk," replied Braeside.
In short, Braeside only deprecated conflict the more the
nearer he and his friends came to the scene of action. They
had passed Widow Will's cottage, and also the cottages of the
smith and souter, where the lights were burning cheerily inside.
They had met two or three more people — but there
was no great appearance of a meeting gathering. When they
got up to the school, the windows were quite dark, and the
door still fastened.
"Owre early, ye see," said Jonathan. "We had better
step oot the loan a few yairds."
"Countra fowk 's aye late," replied the doctor; "but
whaur's your advanc't guard wi' 's dogs? He mitha been
here at ony rate, by this time."
"Nae fear; he's owre croose o' the subject nae to be here
in time," said Jonathan.
"Was that Dawvid Hadden?" inquired Mains, after a
pause of some duration. "'Cause Braeside threepit owre huz
that yon was him 't we met at the glack o' the roads."
"Dawvid Hadden!" exclaimed the dominie, "Dawvid
Hadden gyaun the conter gate?"
"I'm fell seer it was him at ony rate," said Braeside.
"Ye've mista'en the hour; an' we're here afore the time,"
said Dr. Drogemweal. "What's to be done?"
"Mithna we speer some gate?" suggested Mains.
Sandy Peterkin's school remained suspiciously dark and
silent, and so, for that matter, did Sandy's house, too; for
when Dr. Drogemweal, who had gone off to ask about the
meeting, came to the front of it, Sandy's modest window had
the blind down, and there was no appearance of light within.
The doctor rapped loudly on the door with his cudgel, and
was in the act of rapping again, when "a fit" was heard
coining down the loan, by the doctor's companions, who
stood a little way back. The new arrival, who was walking
rapidly, slackened his pace, and, as he approached the group,
seemed to hesitate whether or not to stop. Stop he did, and
a voice asked "Is that you, Mains?"
"Ay," answered Mains, with that tone of dry reserve
which a man adopts when he is in doubt about the identity or
respectability of his questioner.
"Aw doot yer mista'en, as weel's some mair."
"Ou, it's you is 't, Molie," said Mains, in a mightily altered,
and more humane tone.
"Ay, it's a' 't 's for me," answered our old friend the gudge,
cheerfully. "Ye wud be gyaun to the meetin'?"
"Weel" — replied Mains, speaking very slowly, "Weel,
Maister Tawse an' ane or twa o' 's jist tyeuk a stap doon the
howe i' the gloamin — it's a fine nicht."
"It wus till 'a been i' the skweel, but they cheeng't it, ye
ken," said the simple-minded gudge, not heeding Mains's
rather obvious attempt at finesse.
"Cheeng't it?" exclaimed Jonathan Tawse, "an' that
creatur Hadden never to hint at sic a thing to me:"
"But aw doot Dawvid's gotten 's nain leg drawn a wee
bittie," and the gudge laughed quietly. "It was only the
streen that the meetin' was cheeng't; an' I tyeuk a rin roun'
to tell some o' the fowk aifter aw was laid bye for the day.
Dawvid was doon in gran' time, aw b'lieve, as big's the vera
Sir 'imsel' — ye've seerly met 'im. He's hame nae time syne
in a terrible bung."
The gudge's information was rather more copious than
palatable. But while Jonathan Tawse and his other friends
were endeavouring to ruminate thereon, Dr. Drogemweal,
who had returned from his ineffectual assault on Sandy
Peterkin's door, asked, in a peremptory tone, "An' when's the
meetin' to be held noo?"
"Ou, the nicht, the nicht,"said the gudge.
"An' where 's it to be?"
"I' the barn at Gushetneuk. There cudna be a better
place. Aw 'm seer ye ken, Mains, sic scouth 's there is i' the
strae en' ahin the thrashin' mull. An' ye mitha seen 's fae yer
nain toon biggin oot the strae i' the aifterneen." The gudge
paused; and, there being no reply, he continued, "Weel, I'll
need to be stappin; for aw hinna wull 't aw war late, an'
they're feckly a' up fae this side a filie syne. Aw'm sure it'll
be a capital meetin'."
And the mole-catcher moved briskly on his way.
It was not altogether a pleasant predicament into which
Jonathan Tawse and his friends had been led. The way in
which things had taken the turn that had brought them into
it was this. During the week, Dawvid Hadden had been
unusually demonstrative not only in letting it be known what
he was to do in the way of stopping the meeting, but also the
authority by which he was to do it. Dawvid's object, of
course, was to frighten the timid and wavering from showing
face at the school. So far he had been successful, for not
only was Peter Birse in a state of helpless agony, but even
Hairry Muggart, when down at the Ward on some professional
business, had left the impression on the souter and smith
that there was really ground for Dawvid's boast that he had
made Hairry "shak' in his sheen." The two friends, therefore,
had begun to have some fears that the meeting might be
spoilt in this way; and, moreover, the souter raised the
question strongly whether it was altogether fair to Sandy
Peterkin to make him voluntarily invite ejection from his
school by holding the meeting there. He would go to Johnny
Gibb, and suggest to him the propriety of transferring the
meeting to his own barn. At first blush of the proposal
Johnny got hot, and denounced it as mere truckling to petty
tyranny, but he speedily saw the matter in a different light,
and set zealously about "reddin' up" the barn as a place to
meet in.
The change in the place of meeting had been intimated
during the day as widely as possible, and probably none of
the well affected, who were likely to attend, had been left in
ignorance of it. Nor was there any desire to keep others in
the dark on the subject. Dawvid Haddon, even, had been indirectly
informed very early in the afternoon; but unhappily
for himself, Dawvid had concluded it to be a ruse to throw
him off the scent; so Dawvid had observed that he was
'owre aul' a sparrow to be ta'en wi' cauff."
And the meeting in Johnny Gibb's barn was highly successful.
Thither came the majority of the residenters at
Smiddyward, including the souter, the smith, and Sandy
Peterkin; Andrew Langchafts, the merchan', was there, and
his apprentice, Jock Will. And Mrs. Birse brought with her
Miss Birse, along with Peter, senior, and Peter, junior;
Hairry Muggart, too, under the feeling that Dawvid Hadden
was likely to keep at a respectful distance from Gushetneuk,
also put in an appearance; and the zeal of the mole-catcher
had operated to the bringing out of a considerable number of
farm servants, including his old rival, Tam Meerison, so that
the available space in the barn was fully occupied. It had
been intended to re-instate Hairry Muggart in the chair, but
Hairry being rather shy of the honour on this occasion, the
smith proposed Johnny Gibb as the fittest person to be chairman
in his own barn, and the proposal was "carried by
This point had just been settled when the door was pushed
open, and the head and shoulders of Dr. Drogemweal thrust
in. "Come awa' an' tak' seats, we're jist gaen to begin," said
the chairman in a somewhat emphatic tone. "Ou that's you,
Maister Tawse; a sicht o' you here's gweed for sair een.
See, there's a bit bole akin the shakker 'll haud you; ye're nae
gryte bulk mair nor mysel'. Mains an' the lave o' ye'll get
edge't in aboot the en' o' the furms."
After the mole-catcher had left the gentlemen just referred
to, they had debated among themselves what was to be done.
Jonathan Tawse, who had managed to get into a great rage, and
did not know exactly upon whom to vent his anger, would have
turned and gone home in disgust, and it need hardly be said
that his fellow-elders would have been extremely happy to
follow that example; but, as Mains of Yawal thereafter
averred, Dr. Drogemweal "bann't feerious" at this proposal,
and hinted 'that the zeal of the Pyketillim eldership must
really be at a low ebb if it did not incite to pursuit of the
fanatics wherever they went; in short, he persuaded Jonathan
to go along with him to the meeting, albeit his temper continued
in a ruffled state; and, on the whole, it was not improved
by the reception he met with from Johnny Gibb on
entering the barn.
The meeting was formally opened by singing part of a
psalm (which Johnny Gibb "precented") and prayer, a proceeding
the like of which not a few of the rustics there
assembled had not before dreamt of as possible in a barn,
and they felt correspondingly queer in the circumstances.
The chairman then abruptly announced that, "We're to get
addresses fae twa respeckit minaisters fae a distance, settin'
forth the prenciples o' the evangelical pairty. As ye a' see,
the skweelmaister o' the pairis' is here tee; an' he'll be waur
nor 's word an' he binna wuntin' to mak' a speech to defen' the
Coort o' Session Kirk. We'll hae nae objection to gi'e 'im a
hearin'; but lat me tell ye ane an' a', that I'll keep order i'
my nain hoose; an' gin ony horse-cowpin doctor, or ony ither
ane try to mak' disturbance here, we'll lat 'im see the bonny
side o' the door raither seener nor he wud like maybe."
The chairman's remarks naturally drew rather more attention
to Jonathan Tawse and Dr. Drogemweal than these
gentlemen seemed to relish, but without allowing time for
either of them to put in a word, he continued, "Noo, ye'll
get an address fae the Rev. Mr. Nonem — come forret aside
me here, sir." The platform consisted of a wooden threshing-floor,
on which had been placed the chairman's seat and a
small table with a lighted candle on it and a pair of snuffers.
The rev. gentleman announced at once commenced an
earnest, though, perhaps, somewhat verbose address, wherein
he dwelt at length on "the doctrine of the headship;" and
then proceeded to expound the right of the christian people
in the choice of their ministers, calling upon his auditors,
with much emphasis, to say whether they were prepared to
hand over their consciences to patrons who might be prelatists,
or papists, or worse, and let the judges of the Court of
Session in the last resort decide all such questions for them,
for that was the pass things were coming to now?
During the delivery of this address there was marked
attention generally; they had not yet learnt the mode of giving
expression to their approval by "ruffing" with their feet,
or otherwise, in Pyketillim, and the one demonstrative individual
in that direction was the chairman, who once and
again very audibly emphasised the sentiments of the speaker
by such utterances as "Owre true, sir;" "We a' ken fat kin'
o' caul' morality we get fae your law-made minaisters," and so
on. It was evident that Dr. Drogemweal and Jonathan
Tawse were on edge; and the doctor had once or twice attempted
an interruption by such exclamations as "Not true,
Nonem," and "Question," but getting no support from the
meeting, he had found himself uncomfortably individualised
by the chairman's "Seelence, sir!" and "Wheesht, sir!" and
had given up these attempts.
"Noo, Maister Tawse, we'll hear ye," exclaimed Johnny
Gibb, "an' dinna deteen 's owre lang." Jonathan Tawse
started to his feet, and curtly declared, "I did not want to
speak." "Dinna dee 't, than," quoth the chairman, promptly.
But Jonathan continued, "An' there's been vera little said
here this nicht that deserves a reply." "Hear, hear," cried
Dr. Drogemweal. What were they to think, Jonathan proceeded
to ask, of men like those of the present deputation,
who had vowed to uphold the Established Kirk, and were
now trying to pull it down? What were they to think of men
who had trampled an interdict of the Court of Session under
foot? Could temerity further go? And why all this insensate
hubbub about the interference of the civil magistrate?
Had the civil magistrate ever sought to enter their pulpits —
he would like to know that? Had he ever done aught but
his duty in controlling the actings of a set of hot-headed
zealots, who set all law, civil and ecclesiastical, at defiance,
whose language was seditious, and whose actings directly
tended to anarchy and insurrection?
During his speech, Jonathan not merely waxed warm
himself; he also roused the feelings of the audience. The
chairman once and again abruptly expressed himself in a
fashion somewhat short of chairman-like calmness and impartiality;
his excitement infected the mole-catcher, who also
cried "Keep to the pint;" "Nane o' yer ill-natur'," and so
on; and when Dr. Drogemweal cheered Jonathan on by
thumping with his stick on the edge of the "furm," and
shouting "Hear, hear," "Good," "That's it," and so forth,
Andrew Langchafts, seconded by Sandy Peterkin, very
audibly suggested to "Pit 'im oot!"
Jonathan finished abruptly, and, while the "steam" was
still fully up, the second deputy rose, and endeavoured, by a
few sensible words to recall the audience to a state of calmness.
It so happened that this gentleman had not only been
an old college companion of Drogemweal, but the medical
practitioner in question had for a short time been a
parishioner of his. And so, Drogemweal's blood being now
up, he forthwith commenced a somewhat coarse personal
attack, charging the minister with habitually neglecting his
own pastoral duties, while he, forsooth, had the presumption
to invade the parishes of better men than himself. "I lived in
his parish more than a year, and he never once visited me —
that's the man to tell other men their duty!" exclaimed the
doctor. "Yes, my friends," was the reply, "and there may
be parishioners whose faces we have little chance of getting
familiar with, except in the way of private inquiry." Dr.
Dogemweal was about to attempt a retort, when Andrew
Langchafts stood up and solemnly protested against any one
being allowed to interrupt a speaker; and the chairman, with
an emphatic shout, ordered, "Seelence, sir, this moment, or
I'll get ye pitten oot!" What might have happened in this
way had not become apparent, when Jonathan Tawse got to
his feet, hat in hand, and unceremoniously made for the door.
Dr. Drogemweal, with a muttered malediction, and a great
amount of noise, caused by his stick and feet, as he pushed
past some of his neighbours, followed. Mains of Yawal
and his brother elders looked as if they would have liked
to go too; but, their presence of mind failing them at the
moment, they had not moved when their friends were clean
gone; and then, as they did not like to be conspicuous, they
kept their seats.
"A gweed reddance; a gweed reddance, weel-a-wat" said
the chairman, as he snuffed the candle beside him, after the
barn door had been once more closed. "Noo, sir, we'll tak'
the lave o' yer discoorse." The speaker resumed accordingly,
and spoke at length, and with a force and seriousness
that evidently told on the more intelligent part of his audience,
after which opportunity was given for persons present
to signify adherence to non-intrusion principles, by signing
their names to a paper to that effect.
Johnny Gibb was in his most exalted mood as he marshalled
the forces to this part of the business, which seemed
to him a process very nigh akin to signing the Solemn League
and Covenant. Mains of Yawal and his brethren, who saw
that the case was getting desperate, now rose and slipped to
the door, while Johnny shouted, "Gweed nicht, men, we're
muckle obleeg't for your peaceable company." Some of the
younger people had left while the preparations for signing
were going on; but most of the prominent members of the
meeting were still there, including Mrs. Birse, who now sat
on the front "furm," with her husband close at hand.
"It's nae a thing to be lichtly deen, sirs. Ye're pittin
your names till a dockiment that concerns oor ceevil an' religious
leeberty. Come awa', souter, ye're weel fit to set's a'
an example; ye winna pit yer han' to the pleuch an' luik
back." The souter had no choice but do as he was bid,
though the suggestion was made that the chairman's name
ought to go first. "It'll be lang to the day that I'm fit to step
afore Roderick M'Aul," said Johnny Gibb. Johnny had an
appropriate word for each several adherent as he came up;
and I don't think there was the least shade of conscious irony
in the remark he addressed to Peter Birse, when Peter rose
from his wife's side, and came slowly up to the table, "Come
awa', Clinkstyle; I'm glaid to see ye takin' pairt for defence o'
the' trowth set afore 's this nicht. I'm weel seer ye'll never
see rizzon to be o' a different min' fae fat yer in eenoo, aboot
fat yer deein here afore wutnesses."
Peter signed with very much of the feeling that might
have been supposed to animate the traditional "John" when
his wife desired him to put his neck into the mink to please
the laird. Then Mrs. Birse, with a becomingly solemn
countenance, rose, and after doing her best at a curtsey, and
addressing an impressive "Good nicht, sir," to each of the
deputies, left for home.
When men get into the position of public characters, they
have in some cases, as it appears to me, a considerable
reluctance to allowing that aspect of their lives to get obscured,
or be lost sight of. With Johnny Gibb this was not by any
means the case; for although the barn meeting had brought
Gushetneuk greatly more into prominence than before, while
his handling of Jonathan Tawse and Dr. Drogemweal, junior,
had made all Pyketillim "ring from side to side," with his
fame as chairman, nothing more readily nettled Johnny than
any allusion to the proceedings above narrated in the light of
his own share in them. He was rather pleased that Dawvid
Hadden had been, as it were snuffed out for the time, and
that the other two just named had been driven from the field,
but the question before which they had succumbed was a
question of great principles, in relation to which he, Johnny
Gibb, was a mere entity of only the smallest dimensions, and
not once to he named as a power in the case at all. In short,
he was just Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk, as he had been for
the last thirty and odd years; an inconsiderable person,
speaking and acting as the impulse moved him, in accordance
with what he believed at the time to be right. It was in
Church affairs, as it was in other things; Johnny followed
his own path of duty, quite irrespective of the state of opinion
round about him, and he was honestly unconscious of any
claim to merit in so doing.
IN the parish of Pyketillim the great event of the Disruption
was not seen in any of its grand or striking features.
Inasmuch as the Rev. Andrew Sleekaboot was a firm supporter
of the authority of the powers that be, there was there
no exodus from the Manse; the minister, for conscience' sake,
leaving the comfortable home of by-gone years, where his
children had grown up about him, sending his family away
many miles, and himself finding the home where he was to
spend solitary months on months in a poor cottage, which
afforded him the accommodation of only an indifferent "but
and ben." And, of course, if the entire body of the parishioners
of Pyketillim would only have been guided by his advice, the
Disruption, so far as Pyketillim was concerned, would have
been a nonentity. It was curious to note how the three men
of highest learning and position connected with the parish,
viz., the Rev. Mr. Sleekaboot, the Rev. Jonathan Tawse, and
Sir Simon Frissal, in their several ways, denounced the
approaching event, or prophesied evil, and evil only, as its
result, while they predicted disaster to all who might be aiding
and abetting in bringing about its accomplishment. Nevertheless,
I doubt very much whether it would have been for
the advantage of Pyketillim, even, at this day, that the event
referred to had remained unaccomplished.
As it was, there was a small knot of the parishioners, most
of whom have been introduced to the reader, who had committed
themselves definitely to the other side on the question
at issue. As to the varying degrees of intelligence and
sincerity with which they had done so, we need not here
speak; one thing is certain, that they had all more or less to
learn from the circumstances under which they were placed;
only we need not hastily call them "slow in the uptak'," for if
I mistake not there are such singular examples in existence
still, as people who took the same side as they did in 1843,
and in 1870 have not more than half learnt the significance of
the lesson taught by their own professed principles, and the
stand they took twenty-seven years ago.
But to my story. — It was on a Saturday afternoon in the
last week of April, 1843, that Dawvid Hadden came down to
Smiddyward, evidently on business. He was accompanied
by a man with bare cheeks, wearing a long-bodied waistcoat,
and trousers tight about the ankles, betokening that his function
lay in dealing with horses. Dawvid strode away past
the smiddy without deigning to stop and converse with the
smith, who was shovelling up a load of coals that had just
been emptied for use. "Fine nicht, Dawvid," said the smith,
and Dawvid gravely replied, "Fine nicht," but did not "brak
his space." Of course, Dawvid did not hear the smith's semi-audible
ejaculation, as he resumed his shovelling, "Fat's i'
the creator's noddle noo ava?"
Dawvid went straight up to Sandy Peterkin's, and without
stopping to knock, thrust the door fully open. "Ony bodie
here?" shouted Dawvid.
"Ou, ay, I'm here," answered Sandy Peterkin. Sandy
lived mainly alone, the kindly matrons in the hamlet taking
a general oversight of his domestic arrangements. He had
been enjoying a quiet cup of tea by himself, and rose up to
open his "inner door," as he asked, "Is that you, Dawvid?
Come awa' ben. I'm some tribble't wi' reek, but fan yer lootit
doon it's nae sae ill."
"Na, na; I canna pit aff time, fan I've buzness adee."
"Hoot, ye mith jist tak' a seat a minit," said Sandy. "It's
nae af'en 't we see you here."
Dawvid made no reply, but fumbled in his breast pocket
for a bundle of papers.
"I'm owthereest, as awgent for Sir Simon Frissal, to
summons you, 'Alexander Peterkin, residenter, furth of the
dwelling-house and adjoining premises at Smiddyward, and
to quit the same at the ensuing term of Whitsunday.'"
Dawvid held conspicuously in his hand an official-looking
letter, with a seal upon it, and he read from another of his
bundle of papers. And as Sandy stood and looked with an
uncertain stare, he waved the letter toward him with a sort of
flourish, and added, "Ye thocht-na muckle o' oor words,
Saun'ers, man, fan we gya ye a bit warnin', but that's vreet
upon 't noo; foo does that please ye?"
"Ou, weel, an it come to that, I've haen to flit afore noo,"
said Sandy, complacently.
"Weel, ye'll tak' notice 't ye've been regular summons't i'
the presence o' a lethal wutness, Peter M'Cabe, to remuv at
the proper time. Ye may go noo, Peter," said Dawvid, turning
to the horsey-looking man, whose company he did not
seem to be desirous of having longer than duty required.
"I'm obleeg't to ye, Dawvid, for your great pains i' the
maitter," replied Sandy Peterkin.
"Ay, Saun'ers, man, an' ye may be thankfu' that ye've
gotten so lang warnin'. It wasna necessar' to gi'e a day's
notice. Ye ocht to ken that ye've been at oor merciment ilka
minit sin' ever ye sat doon here. Ye've nae proper possession
o' the premises, accordin' to law; an' cud be turn't oot at ony
time. But Sir Simon Frissal's mair o' a gentleman nor tak'
advantage o' the vera peerest incomes on 's estates."
"Muckle obleeg't to Sir Simon; he'll nae doot be turnin'
the place till a better purpose ance he war redd o' 's."
"It maitters-na to you; he's enteetled to hae's wull respeckit
by them 't's behaud'n till 'im for a biel' to pit their heid
in. An' nae less to see 't the premises on 's nain property
sanna be ees't to herbour malcontents, an' gi'e encouragement
to oonlawfu' gedderins. That's fat yer non-intrusion comes
till — ye mitha leern't mair wut ere noo, man, an' ye cud 'a
ta'en a tellin' fae fowk wi' mair gumption nor yersel'."
"Oh, weel, gin Sir Simon be to clear aff a' the non-intrusionists
upo' the place, I'll suffer in gweed company. Ye'll
be gyaun owre bye to summons Gushets neist, nae doot?"
"Jist leern ye to keep a ceevil tongue i' yer heid, Saun'ers,
man. That's nedder here nor there; but I've something
ither adee nor waste time nyatterin on wi' the like o' you,"
and with this the ground-officer turned and passed away, and
Sandy Peterkin shut the door and proceeded to finish his tea.
On his homeward route, Dawvid Hadden took care to
make a call at the shop of Hairry Muggart, the wright;
where, in an "overly" way, as Hairry said, he turned out the
famous summons he had just professed to serve on Sandy
"An' will he raelly be pitten oot?" asked Hairry, with
some earnestness.
"Pitten oot!" exclaimed Dawvid. "Div ye mean to say
that Sir Simon Frissal wud mak' a feel o' 'imsel' or gae back
o' 's word, aifter sen'in' 's nain awgent to summons ony ane oot.
Ay, Hairry, man, that's but the beginnin' o' 't," said Dawvid,
pocketing his papers. "The langest livers sees maist ferlies.
Aw wudna won'er nor there may be mair summonses, ere lang
On that very evening, after "droppin'" time, Hairry
Muggart was away to Smiddyward to see the smith and the
souter. Hairry's statement was the first intimation they had
received of what Dawvid Hadden had really been about; and
the question naturally enough arose what had become of
Sandy himself that he had not been down with the intelligence.
The readiest way to solve this question seemed to
be to call on Sandy; and the trio accordingly went up to his
house, where they found the honest dominie deeply engrossed
in the perusal of a newspaper, which, he at once informed
his visitors, contained a deal "o' vera interaistin" intelligence
about current ecclesiastical affairs. It was this, in fact, that
accounted for his not having got down to tell the souter and
the smith of his fate. The proceedings recorded were of some
length, and Sandy had read the speeches made by several
popular divines with extraordinary satisfaction and edification,
as he now proceeded to set forth. When he had got round to
the less lofty but more practical subject of Dawvid Hadden's
visit, he narrated the circumstances much as they have been
set forth, and seemed rather pleased that he had been able to
keep Dawvid tolerably well "in aboot" in the long run.
It was evident that Dawvid Hadden's visit was seriously
meant. Sandy Peterkin's three friends felt it to be so; and I
am verily persuaded in full view of the somewhat awkward
consequences it involved to him personally, Sandy was the
least deeply concerned of the group. When Johnny Gibb
had been told of it he stormed fiercely, and talked of employing
a lawyer to set at defiance Dawvid Hadden's irregular
summons. But of course this passed off, though Johnny retained
his determination to give "Sir Seemon" a few lines of
his mind, so soon as he should return to the quarter. The
settled conviction of the smith, in which the others concurred,
was that the ejection of Sandy Peterkin was the joint performance
of the Rev. Mr. Sleekaboot, Jonathan Tawse, and
Dawvid Hadden; that is to say, their united wisdom had
settled it as the judicious and proper thing to be done, with
the view of striking terror into the fanatics, it being evident
that things were coming to a head; and this once agreed
upon, there was no difficulty in obtaining Sir Simon Frissal's
authority for carrying it out in the fashion adopted by Dawvid
The result was that, when Whitsunday came, the humble
school door was locked for good and all. Sandy Peterkin's
scholars took their several ways homeward, after a parting
advice and much kindly "clappin" on his side, and not a few
tears on theirs; and Sandy Peterkin was once more a gentleman
at large in the world, a proposal to engage him as
private tutor to his classical pupil, Benjie Birse, having fallen
through, not because Sandy would have asked unreasonable
terms, but because Mrs. Birse felt there was some force in
Miss Birse's objection to admitting a person like him to the
parlour society and parlour fare of Clinkstyle, while it would
have been at the same time degrading to Benjie to have his
tutor herding with the farm servants.

BY the time that Sandy Peterkin had been summoned
out of the school, Johnny Gibb was quite prepared for
seeing the venerable Kirk of Scotland rent asunder. One
thing that had strongly excited his feelings was the meeting
of the Aberdeen Synod. Hitherto in the parish of Pyketillim,
apart from the gathering and distribution of the offering, the
office of the "ruling elder," as already stated, had been very
much of a sinecure. The Rev. Andrew Sleekaboot rode to
the Presbytery meetings with great regularity, but he had not
up to this time felt it necessary to have the intelligent laity of
the parish represented in the rev. court. Now, however,
great questions were at stake, and votes had come to be of
importance. So, by the unanimous voice of the Session,
Mains of Yawal was appointed ruling elder for Pyketillim.
Mains went to a meeting of Presbytery, and sat out the affair
in a wearied sort of way, but as the "ait seed" was just beginning,
he loudly grudged the waste of time which his new
dignity had entailed on him. The Synod met in the second
week of April, and at the kirk next Sunday, Mains had an
onset from the minister and the dominie, as to the absolute
necessity of his accompanying the former to the meeting of
"Hoot, I haena been in Aiberdeen this three towmons;
an' forbye, I cud be o' nae eese at Kirk maitters," urged
"Buff an' nonsense," said Jonathan Tawse. "Ye can
seerly say 'Ay' or 'No,' whichever the minister bids ye."
"An' it's jist the heid hurry o' the sizzon; I've byous ill
wunnin awa'. Fegs an I hed kept, I sud 'a latt'n some ither
ane be rowlin' el'yer, I can tell ye."
Mains's objections were speedily overborne; and the next
point to settle was the mode of transit to Aberdeen. As the
newspapers had just announced, the Aberdeenshire Canal was
"again open for navigation," after some temporary stoppage,
and Mains was decidedly favourable to going by the "swift
gig boat," as the cheapest means of conveyance. So next
day he had his old-fashioned gig "a-yoke" to convey himself
and the minister to the "Canal Head," in time for the leaving
of the boat for Aberdeen; one of Mains's lads had been
sent on an hour before on foot to bring back the gig. Rev.
Andrew Sleekaboot, as became his dignity, took his passage
in the cabin of the "flyboat;" but this course his ruling elder
resolutely declined to follow. He could save a shilling by
going in the steerage, and why should he not do so? Then,
as was his wont, the minister would put up at that well-reputed
hostelry, the Lemon Tree. Mains demurred somewhat at the
idea of going thither, being convinced that they might be accommodated
at some "stabler's" at less cost. But, as his
knowledge of "the city" had got rusted, he was unable to
specify the particular inn where he would desire to take his
ease, and, under a sort of protest, he agreed at last to go with
the minister, provided Mr. Sleekaboot would undertake to
devote part of next morning to assisting him in looking up
certain shops where he wanted to make safe purchases, including
that of Coutts, the cutler, in Gallowgate, who, as
Mains believed, was unequalled in the production of a reliable
pocket "gullie."
The great question in which the services of Mains of
Yawal and his lay brethren were called into requisition at the
Synod was, whether the ministers of quoad sacra churches
should be allowed to sit as members of the rev. court. There
was long debate on the point, during which a well-known
leader declared that he objected to the General Assembly admitting
the quoad sacra brethren to sit in the church courts,
"not only on civil, but on religious grounds likewise;" and
another less prominent member, no doubt feeling acutely
where the shoe pinched him, observed that protesting against
their admission, "had cost him many a shilling." When
the grand division was taken, it carried by 101 to 55,
that the quoad sacra brethren should not be recognised as
members of the Synod, whereat, amid no little noise and excitement
the whole evangelical party left the Synod House, viz.,
the West Kirk, and thereafter met in Melville Church. Of
this sweeping majority, close upon one-half were elders, the
Moderate party having succeeded in rallying a force of these
zealous gentlemen from the country of rather more than
double the number of elders who came up to vote for their
opponents. As a very natural result, Mains of Yawal returned
from the Synod somewhat elated at the part he had played.
The "ait seed" had gone on favourably in his absence; he
had furnished himself with a trusty Coutts' gullie; had hunted
up in inconceivable places sundry remarkable bargains, including
fully half a hundredweight of iron goods, consisting
chiefly of a parcel of second hand "sells and thrammels,"
one or two "backchynes," and similar chain work, got at a
mere "wanworth;" all of which he brought with him by way
of luggage. Above all, he had done his duty by Church and
State, and for once had seen his name printed in the newspapers.

Mains had his weak points like other people; and though
the least like it of all men, there was not altogether wanting
a slight touch of vanity in his composition. He had some
time after his return related his experiences of this his first
grand ecclesiastical campaign to Braeside and Dawvid Hadden,
and by both had been eulogised for his unflinching
faithfulness, in as high terms as their natures allowed, Braeside
remarking "Goshie, man!" while Dawvid Hadden with
a proper allusion to his own recent doings, observed, "Weel,
it's jist as I've aye said. Fowk 't 's in a public an' 'sponsible
wye maun tak' the lead an' ack o' their nain heids, but ithers
canna be on-taen pairt accordin' to their capacity — ye sud
be prood o' bein' alloo't to vote, Mains. I sanna foryet to
mak' mention o' 't fan I vreet to Sir Simon." And, fortified
by all this, Mains felt that a man who had buckled on his
armour and gone forth at the call of duty amid the gathered
hosts, could afford to be aggressive in some degree against
disaffected stragglers. It was with some dim notion of this
sort that, when he was next down at the smiddy, he fell on to
the smith with —
"Nyod, aw b'ieve we sortit yer nons at the Seenit."
"Maybe that," said the smith, with great gravity. "An'
fat did ye wi' them syne? Fowk canna b'lieve a' 't they
hear, far less a' 't they see i' the newspapers. But fan ye hed
a han' in 't yersel', ye'II be able to tell 's a' aboot it."
"Ou weel, it was jist to keep oot that quord saccra minaisters
— they've nae bizziness there."
"Oh, aw thocht it was the non-intrusionists 't ye wus
settin' doon."
"Weel, an' arena they the very warst kin' o' them ?"
"Na, Mains; some o' them 's as gweed 'constitutional'
kirk men as yersel'."
"Hoot, dinna ye try to gar me believe that. Foo wud they
be pitten oot than? An' they war pitten oot, an' a bonny din
yon Aiberdeen nons made, cryin' a' kin' o' orra jaw i' the vera
kirk; stan'in' up o' the seats, an' aiven brakin' some o' the
timmer wark."
"Ay, man, it's a serious case, it's like. But I was taul
that the day aifter ye hed fleggit them awa', ane o' the Seenit
inform't the meetin' that he hed that nicht offer't up his
'sincere prayers' for the misguidit fowk. Nae doot ye've a'
been as min'fu' at yer private devotions."
The smith spoke this very deliberately, and when he
paused, Mains merely said, "Ou ay, they heeld a prayer fan
they met, an' the blessin' ere they brak' up."
"Jist that; an' though we canna hae Seenits sittin' aye,
fowk't 's been there'll be able to gi'e's a word in sizzon as
weel's the benefit o' their prayers gin we be lickly to gae owre
the bows."
Mains did not altogether relish this train of remark, and
would not unwillingly have allowed kirk matters to drop
again. But, unhappily for him, Johnny Gibb entered the
smiddy at that moment. It was not necessary for the smith
to apply his match to the tinder in Johnny's breast; and
Mains himself seemed to have an uncomfortable dread of an
explosion. He tried not very skilfully or successfully to be
"cheery," and to lead a conversation on other subjects. The
smith simply did not back him, and Johnny Gibb was something
very like snappish. At last he put to Mains the rather
unceremonious interrogation —
"Hae ye repentit o' that oonrichteous vote yet? Or is
your conscience as sear't as though the smith hed scaum't it
wi' that reid-het sock plate?"
"Hoot, Gushets, ye tak' a'thing owre sair in eernest," replied
Mains, who was disposed rather to be amicable than
the reverse.
"Owre muckle in eernest!" exclaimed Johnny, "owre
muckle in eernest! An' you gyaun an' makin' a teel o' yersel'
to sair the purposes o' a set o' carnal, wor'dly-min'et
rascals; gi'ein' your vote at the biddin' o' a peer seecophant
to deprive ten times better men nor him or the like o' him o'
the preevileges that belangs to them, gin there be ony trowth
i' the Word o' Gweed, or ony vailue i' the conten'in's o' oor
"Ou weel, it wunna hairm nae ane i' this pairt o' the
kwintra, at ony rate," said Mains, with hardly an attempt to
defend his position.
"Dinna tell me, min. It's accurs't, reet an' brainch.
There's yersel', 't kens nae mair aboot the prenciples o' the
struggle nor that turkis i' the smith's sheein box, gyaun awa'
to Aiberdeen like a wull chucken, an' preten'in' to tak' pairt
in decidin' the question, fan ye're jist han'in' yersel' owre, sowl
an' body, to dee mischief. That's the tae pairt o' 't; an' we
see the tither fan that vicious, ill-gateit ablach, Hadden, mak's
'imsel' the willin' enstrument to cairry oot the tyranny o' yer
kirk pawtrons an' moderate minaisters."
Mains had got very hot in the face and even angry by the
time Johnny had finished this extremely violent speech. He
did not give any formal reply, however, but in a rather loud
tone declared that he "wudna stan' that fae nae man!"
"Stan' 't or no's ye like, it's the trowth," said Johnny
Gibb, as he turned away to direct the smith about some bit of
After this passage, the Kirk question was allowed to rest
for the time being. But from that date onward Mains of
Yawal entertained a pretty distinct grudge against his neighbour,
A month thereafter the Disruption had occurred, and
Johnny Gibb had at no little expenditure of energy got arrangements
made for a Free Kirk service in his barn, to be
kept up, if not regularly, as frequently as "supply" could be
IT was not Johnny Gibb's intention to be a Disruption
leader, yet he had become so de facto. The small body
of Pyketillim non-intrusionists not merely conceded that position
to him, but without him it may be doubted whether
they would have gathered into any compacted form at all.
To say that he felt his leadership to be an onerous burden
would not be true; because Johnny did not feel it in one way
or another, did not indeed know that he was leader. When
he prepared his barn as a place of meeting, when he travelled
on foot six or seven weary miles to a Presbytery of the "Free
Presbyterian Church of Scotland," to negotiate for a supply
of preachers, and, to promote that, boldly undertook to raise
a certain sum in contributions — though Johnny in all this was
carrying out a work which very likely no one else among his
friends could or would have carried out, he was simply doing
what seemed to lie naturally to his hand to do. Of course
Johnny had all the time the firmest possible conviction that
he was doing what was right, while, perhaps, his patience was
not very ample with those who had less decided opinions than
his own. And I daresay it would have tended greatly to the
comfort of Peter Birse, senior, if he could have been inspired
with a tithe of Johnny's belief in, and fervency for, the
"cause." Peter had, perforce, been riven away from the
"auld kirk;" and, as he accompanied Mrs. Birse and family,
Sabbath after Sabbath, to "the conventicle," as Jonathan
Tawse wittily called it, at Gushetneuk, many a wistful glance
did he cast in the direction of the kirk road, along which the
forms of his old familiar friends were to be seen wending in
the distance. As a last despairing effort, Peter had pleaded —
"Keep 's, 'oman, it wud be a byous thing to brak' aff fae
the hoose o' Gweed freely — mithna I gae up bye files?"
"To gae yer leen, no ?"
"Weel, it wudna luik sae glaurin like, ye ken."
"An' muckle better ye wud be o' that; it'll be lang ere ye
hear the Gospel there," said Mrs. Birse.
"Weel, but ye ken Hairry, 't was sic a han', 's been gyaun
maist pairt sin' there was word o' Sir Seemon comin' hame."
"Humph, Hairry! He's some mark, or than no. An' ye
wud lat Dawvid Hadden fley you back to the hoose o' bondage
"Ou, it's nae him; but ye ken Hairry Muggart gaed a
hantle forder a-lenth nor ever I did aboot that kirk wark."
"Ah, weel, ae turnkwite's aneuch," said Mrs. Birse, scornfully.

Peter's statement was mainly correct in point of fact. It
was true that Hairry Muggart, in a sore strait how to carry
out his convictions, and at the same time avoid calling down
on his head the wrath of Sir Simon Frissal, had come to the
conclusion that the Disruption was rather a hasty and ill-considered
step. His principles? Oh, yes, they were as staunchly
held by as ever — so Hairry loudly averred — but why not keep
within the walls of the national Zion, and at same time stoutly
assail the citadel of Erastianism? — it would be gained "come
time." So said Hairry: and I am not sure whether a similar
proposal was not even mooted in much higher quarters, at the
last meeting of the "Convocation," by some who have since
laid claim to being distinctively the true representatives of
Free Church principles. Besides, Hairry was an adept in
theology, and those fledgling parsons of Johnny Gibb's, while
he was pleased to hear the lads at a chance time doing their
best, were hardly prepared to supply the strong meat that he
desiderated. Accordingly, Hairry left it to be understood that
he, in his own person, was a sort of concrete embodiment of
the establishment principle combined with the theory of independent
spiritual jurisdiction. So he generally countenanced
the Rev. Andrew Sleekaboot at the delivery of his hebdomadal
discourse, and then, in an unofficial way, would step quietly
down to Gushetneuk to hear a sermon preached in the barn
at such irregular hour as might happen, week-day or Sunday.
Johnny Gibb's other friends stuck together wonderfully;
and thus it came to pass that after a summer of preaching in
the barn, Johnny took it in his head that a permanent place
of worship must be had. It was autumn; Sir Simon was now
at home, and wherefore should he not be called upon to give
a site? It was argued, in reply, that the man who had sanctioned
the turning out of their teacher, because he was, in his
estimation, a schismatic, was not in the least likely, in this
practical way, to promote the establishment of a congregation
of schismatics. "He ocht to be taul's duty at ony rate; an'
lat oor consciences be clear't," said Johnny Gibb, and the sentiment
was re-echoed by none more warmly than by the gudge,
and Sandy Peterkin, whose season's labour, in default of anything
in the pedagogue way, had consisted chiefly in hoeing
turnips at Gushetneuk, and officiating as raker during harvest.
So Johnny Gibb and the souter were deputed to wait upon
Sir Simon. This they did without loss of time, and were received
by the stately baronet in his library, with great dignity.
"We're here, Sir Seemon, to see gin we can get a bit seet
ony gate."
"A what, John?" asked Sir Simon, severely.
"A reed or twa o' grun to be a stance for a place o'
worship," answered Johnny.
"John Gibb, let me tell you, once for all, that the course
you have been following for some time past has my strongest
disapprobation. I understand, on credible information, that
you have been a ringleader in this most mischievous and
schismatical movement —"
"It's been that creatur, Dawvid Hadden, 't 's taul ye that,
sir. Only that's nedder here nor there."
"I'll allow no interruptions, sir! Disturbing the peace and
good order of a quiet, well-conducted parish, by bringing a
set of fanatics into it, to delude ignorant people."
"We've been deein fat we cud to get them taucht, Sir
Seemon, baith in buik leernin an' the prenciples o' the Gospel."
"You teach them!"
"Na, na; dinna tak' me up till I fa', Sir Seemon," said
Johnny, who was now fighting his way to a broader issue
than he had at first meant to raise. "But we hed set up a
gweed skweel; a thing that there was muckle need for, as a'
the pairis kens; though maybe naebody's been kin' aneuch
to tell ye that; an' that aisp never haltit wi' 's ill win' an' 's
clypes, till he gat the man turn't oot that was o' mair eese ten
times owre nor the pairis dominie ever was — speer at ony
ane 't ye like."
"I cannot argue with you, sir, about the management of
my property," said Sir Simon.
"Weel, weel; it 's but richt 't ye sud ken the haill heids
an' particulars for ance, fan we're at it. An' aw 'm thinkin'
ye're nae lickly to get owre correct news fae them 't ye lippen
maist till here."
"I suppose your business with me is at an end?" said Sir
Simon, with dignity, rising as if to show his visitors, who had
been standing in the library floor all the while, out.
"Deed, it doesna luik like bein' weel begun, Sir Seemon,"
answered Johnny Gibb, in no way abashed. "We've gotten
nae answer, mair or less."
"Answer to what, sir?"
"We made a ceevil request, Sir Seemon, for a stance at
ony convainient spot to big a bit kirk upon."
"Build a church? What do you mean, sir? Do you suppose
that I'll allow people following fanatical and divisive
courses to erect a meeting place within the parish. I would
as soon forfeit my allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen."
"Ou weel," answered Johnny Gibb, "there's aye been
persecutors o' the trowth fae the days o' Herod an' afore't.
But it winna be pitten loon wi' you nor nae ither ane, ye
needna think it, Sir Seemon. A good day."
And so Johnny and the souter — who had found no opportunity
to open his lips during the interview — made their
obeisance, which called forth no response whatever from Sir
Simon Frissal, and withdrew.
The deputation had thus no favourable report to give; and
it would have been a hopeless case with the Pyketillim nonintrusionists
had it not so happened that at the very extreme
corner of the parish there was a bit of land of no very great
extent, but on which there were a few houses, that belonged
to a laird of more plebeian extraction than Sir Simon, and
who lived at some distance. The plebeian laird had at one
time made advances to Sir Simon and been snubbed for his
pains. He therefore bore the baronet no great goodwill; and
on learning the position of affairs, was not sorry to find that,
by ceding to the Free Church folks a little bit of barren
ground with some old buildings upon it, he could have the
opportunity of materially annoying Sir Simon Frissal. It
was not that he loved the Free Kirk more, but that he loved
Sir Simon less, and therefore he gave the site on reasonable
enough terms. Upon this very inconvenient spot, which was
nearly two miles distant from Gushetneuk, it was resolved to
build. Next spring the building was set about, the goodman
of Gushetneuk devoting a deal of toil and trouble to the completion
of the kirk, the design of which was a good deal less
elaborate and costly than has become common since. The
incidents of the kirk building were very much of the kind
common at the time.
Sir Simon Frissal, the lord of the Manor, had again left
the locality before it was known that a site had been got, and
Dawvid Hadden naturally felt the responsibility that lay upon
him of looking after the ongoings of the "nons." In the
plenitude of his good nature, Braeside, though an elder of the
national kirk, had gone to Gushetneuk, and offered to give a
"yokin" of his horses and carts to assist in the heavy business
of driving material: "For," said Braeside, "the fowk 's
been aye richt gweed neebours." And the offer had been accepted
with great frankness by Johnny Gibb, who added, "I
wudna wo'ner to see you in oor kirk yet, man," at which Braeside
shrugged his shoulders and "leuch." No sooner had
Braeside's friendly deed become public, than Dawvid Hadden,
rousing himself to a sense of duty in the matter, communicated
with Mains of Yawal. Mains, who, from about the
date of the Synod, had, as already mentioned, remained in a
state of considerable sourness towards his Free Kirk neighbours,
agreed that the act was extremely unprincipled on the
part of Braeside, and readily undertook to speak about it
quietly to his brother elder, Jonathan Tawse, who, he had no
doubt, would "sort" Braeside in proper style for what he had
been about. But the greatest explosion on Dawvid's part
occurred when he discovered that Johnny Gibb's carting force
was actually employed driving sand for the masons from a
heap of that material, the accumulation of "spates," in the
march burn between Sir Simon's property and that of the
laird aforesaid. He now boldly went and ordered them to
stop. It was Tam Meerison, who still remained Clinkstyle's
"foreman," who was loading his carts at the time; and Tam
said —
"Na, sang aw, Dawvid. As lang's I've Gushetneuk's
orders to full san', it's nae you 't'll stop me, nor a' the grunoffishers
i' the kingdom."
It was in vain that Dawvid vapoured about an "enterdick."
Tam said he might get "a dizzen o' enterdicks," if his
taste lay that way, but he would take his loads of sand in the
meantime. The result was that Dawvid at once wrote Sir
Simon, and, as Jock Will, from his public position, was able
to say, put on the outside of his letter the word "Hast." Jock
was observant, and could put this and that together pretty
shrewdly, and his conclusion by-and-by was that the answer
Dawvid received from Sir Simon was something in the nature
of telling him to mind his own business, and not be perpetually
meddling with what did not lie in his way. At any rate,
nothing more was heard of Dawvid's interdict, and the new
kirk was finished and occupied in due course, as will be noticed
in its proper place.
A PERIOD of three years had elapsed without bringing
any very material alteration in the general aspect of
affairs, although Pyketillim had seen one or two changes in
its peaceful community. Our old acquaintance, Andrew
Langchafts, had disappeared from the locality. The truth
was that Andrew had not found the business of "merchan'"
at the Kirktown altogether such a lucrative one as he had at
one time anticipated it might be. Probably the people of the
place were too staid and sober to appreciate the enlightened
commercial principles on which his business was conducted,
or to avail themselves sufficiently of the resources of his
"entrepot." though they had been in the habit, some of them,
besides Mrs. Birse, of setting on somewhat resolutely on the
"leading articles" which Andrew offered at a manifest "sacrifice."
The misfortune was that he never succeeded in leading
them very far in that department of superior soft goods which
he had endeavoured to cultivate. The primitive character of
their wants, as well as their practical and economic habits
forbade it. And so this department came in course to be more
replete than fashionable. Jock Will, too, who had reached
the status of a fully matriculated shopman, left Andrew, to
push his way further south, which was a great blow to the
merchan', seeing Jock had acquired an aptitude for business
considerably greater than his own. In short, Andrew Langchafts,
finding that things did not meet his expectations, had
been gradually tending to greater slovenliness in his habits.
He took a deal of snuff, and, it was said, a little whisky sometimes,
though nobody ever saw Andrew drunk; and he was
apt to let the shop run out of this or the other commodity.
Mrs. Birse, with her wonted sagacity, had a clear comprehension
of the situation, and in a quiet communing with Miss
Eliza Birse she expressed herself thus: —
"Ah weel, they may say fat they like; but I 'se warran' that
loon Wull hed ta'en's nain o' the peer stock afore he leeft 'im"
"Mamma, fat makes ye think that?" asked Miss Birse.
"Speer at Widow Wull fat wye she paid for that braw
French merino 't she's been skyrin in this towmon noo; an'
a velvet bonnet — she wud need it!"
"But he was shopman, an' would get them at prime cost."
"Weel, weel, I'm seer he's weel oot o' the road at ony
rate; for that saft breet, Peter, wud 'a never made it oot wi'
Mary Howie as lang's he was i' the gate, wi"s sleekit tongue."
"Oh, mamma, don't be always speakin' of Peter in that
"Lat that gang than. At ony rate, Meg Raffan taul me
nae langer syne nor the nicht afore the streen that An'ro
Langchafts was jist at the gae-lattin, and wud lickly need to
gi'e up the chop a'thegither ere lang. Noo, ye ken, he has a
hantle o' rael gweed claith upo' yon back skelfs; an' I'se
warran' gin a body war to gae in wi' a poun' note or twa i'
their han' he sudna be that mealy mou't about the best that's
yon'er, gin he gat the offer o' siller."
"But fat wud be the use o' buyin' pieces o' cloth?"
"Ou, ye ken, yer breeders's never oot o' the need o' new,
claes. There's Benjie, noo that he's livin' i' the toon, leernin
a genteel buzness, maun hae a spare stan' or twa; an' forbye
I've been thinkin' 't that grey fer-nothing o' yer fader's, that
the tailor docket the tails o' the ither year, 's list growin' some
aul' fashion't, aiven for him; ye see genteel fowk notices the
like o' that. Awat it's been a richt thrifty coat, for it was
bocht the very winter that Benjie was spean't; and though
there's little eese o' a gweed thing for the like o' him, it's jist
eenoo 't fowk's lickly to get a rug o' something that wud
answer the purpose."
There is no reason to doubt that Mrs. Birse had at any
rate attempted to carry out the proposal here outlined. But
what took her, as well as sundry others of the people of
Pyketillim by surprise, was to learn in a few months that
Andrew Langchafts had come to terms for his whole stock-in-trade
and the goodwill of his business, the purchaser being
none other than his old apprentice, Jock Will. And Jock,
something smartened in manner since he left the locality, but
still retaining his undemonstrative aspect, and his quiet, soft
chuckle as of old, was speedily settled as the merchan' of the
Kirktown. How it was nobody could have told probably, but
from the day Jock Will commenced business and Andrew
Langchafts retired, the shop had more of the aspect of business
about it; and very soon the public were compelled to
recognise in Jock, who had "flitted" his mother to the Kirktown
as the head of his domestic establishment, a capable,
obliging, and thriving business man.
At Gushetneuk, too, some changes had taken place. Willy
M'Aul had acted as Johnny Gibb's principal servant for several
years, and then, as Johnny averred, he had got to the
stage that he "wud nedder haud nor bin' wi' tryin' new protticks,"
in the way of farming and farm implements.
"Ou, weel, man, an' foo sudna he get an iron pleuch as
weel's anither ?" asked Mrs. Gibb.
"A timmer ane's sair't me for therty year an' mair; an'
Hairry Muggart's as gweed a pleuch-vricht's there is i' the
kwintra side," replied Johnny.
"Ou ay, but it's the fashion, ye ken; an' Hairry an' you
tee's grown some aul' style, maybe."
"Weel, weel; I'll be naething but deav't aboot it," said
Johnny, "you an' the lassie's jist as ill's he is — it's a keerious
thing that ye sud baith tak' 's side to argue me oot o' 't."
This meant that Johnny had conceded the iron plough,
just as he had been induced to concede other things under
the same combined influence. But while Johnny would not
yield a point in this way without something very like a
grumble, he was secretly not ill pleased to witness the spirit
of enterprise manifested by his servant, who really conducted
things very much according to his own mind. In due course,
however, Willy M'Aul announced his intention of seeking enlarged
experience in husbandry by obtaining an engagement
with a leading farmer in another locality.
"An' fa'll I get i' yer place, laddie?" asked Johnny Gibb.
"Ou, Tam, maybe?" said Willy M'Aul, tentatively.
"Tam Meerison, ye mean — wud he be willin' to come
"Willin'! jist gi'e 'im the chance, an' ye'll see."
"Weel, we've seen Tam saucy aneuch aboot bidin here
ere noo."
"Oh ay, but Tam's turn't owre anither leaf sin' him an'
me sleepit i' the aul' chaumerie thegither, an' Jinse aboot the
"Faur is he?" asked Johnny.
"Dargin, an' livin' in a bit hoosie near the fit o' the hill.
I'll speak aboot it till 'im, gin ye like."
Tam Meerison and Jinse, his wife, were "liftit" in no
ordinary degree, at the prospect of Tam getting back to
Gushetneuk, for which they were indebted to Tam's old tormentor.
And thus the matter had been settled. Willy M'Aul
had left on amicable terms to push his way in life, and his
place had been supplied by Tam Meerison, who was now the
father of a family of three. Tam was a really affectionate
husband, and esteemed Jinse just as highly as the day she
became his wife. Therefore it seemed to him to be in a
measure Paradise regained, when he had the kind of work
day by day which he liked and was fully competent to do,
and when Johnny Gibb not merely did not grudge his going
once a-week to see his family, but made Jinse Deans and her
offspring heartily welcome to spend a day at Gushetneuk at
all times when they chose to do so.
It came about after this that a certain portion of the
"tacks" on Sir Simon Frissal's property ran out; and amongst
these was the farm of Gushetneuk. Conjecture, therefore,
was naturally rife on the subject of Johnny Gibb's "haudin."
Some wondered whether Johnny Gibb would wish to retake
it, some whether Johnny, in that case, would have the hardihood,
after what had come and gone, to moot the subject to
Sir Simon. At any rate, it did not seem likely that Sir Simon
would have much difficulty, in the circumstances, in deciding
how to deal with such a troublesome character.
TO say that Mrs. Peter Birse was a careful and far-seeing
matron is perhaps hardly necessary at this stage of
affairs. Her capacity for management was felt to some extent
in connection with the Free Kirk congregation of Pyketillim,
for had she not once and again got the dog-cart sent from
Clinkstyle to bring forward the preacher when they had only
chance "supply;" had not certain of the supplies obtained
been privileged to pass a night or more under her roof; and
now that the congregation had the stated services of a promising
and well-favoured young probationer, the Rev. Nathaniel
MacCassock, was not Miss Birse, with the concurrence
of her sagacious mother, the first to come forward and give
her aid as a zealous lady collector. Mrs. Birse made much
of Mr. MacCassock, the probationer, and failed not, as she
felt moved thereto, to remind the people that they were highly
privileged in having amongst them a man of such gifts. But
it was in the more private or domestic phase of her life that
Mrs. Birse's talent for diplomacy was best seen. It is known
to the attentive reader, that she had some years ago contemplated
a very judicious arrangement for the establishment in
life of her eldest son, Peter, and, as subsidiary to that, the virtual
retirement from active life of herself and her husband. The
plan involved, too, the retirement of Johnny Gibb from his
possession at Gushetneuk. And now that Johnny's lease was
about to expire, the time to carry out the scheme was at hand.
So thought the goodwife of Clinkstyle, and she considered
it right to take measures accordingly.
A little before the Lammas rent time, Meg Raffan had
once again the pleasure of drinking a quiet cup of tea with
Mrs. Birse, and on the evening of the day when the rents
were intimated as payable, Dawvid Hadden, as he passed on
his way homeward, found Meg's hospitality so cordial and
pressing that, before he well knew what he was about, he
occupied the rather unwonted position of guest to the henwife,
sitting in the arm-chair in the furthest "ben" corner of her
house, while Meg busied herself in ministering to his physical
"Yer health, aw wuss, Dawvid," said Meg, when she
had emptied a bottle of reaming home-brewed ale into a
couple of tumblers, whereof she lifted one in her hand, having
set the other handy for Dawvid Hadden; "aw'm richt glaid
to see ye. I'm seer ye hinna faul't yer fit i' my hoose this
towmon," continued the henwife.
"Weel, it's but seldom that I gae ony gate cep faur buzness
tak's me. Yer vera good health, Mrs. Raffan, an' luck
to the fools. N-ay !" quoth Dawvid, after a goodly pull at
the ale, "that's worth ca'in' ale — that gars a body's lugs
"Weel, ye see, I can nedder dee wi' a jilp o' treacle bree,
nor yet wi' that brewery stuff that some fowk mak's eese o'.
There's naething like a starn gweed maut, maskit i' yer nain
bowie, an' a bunchie o' wormit to gi'e 't a bit grip — tak' oot
yer drap noo. Aw'm seer ye maun be thristy as weel's tir't
toitin aboot amo' that rent fowk a' day. Ye raelly wud need
a bit shalt to cairry you no."
"It's nae little traivel that tak's a body owre the grun, I'se
asseer ye," said Dawvid. "I've nae fyouer nor twa-an'-foorty
entimations to gi'e ilka time."
"Eh, ay; that's weel min'et," replied the henwife, "an'
foo mony o' yer tacks rins oot at this turn?"
"Lat me see — a'thegither there's only aboot half-a-dizzen,
encloodin Hairry Muggart's craft an' the smith's an' souter's."
"Dear me, aw thocht the crafts hedna tacks, but jist gaed
on superannuat like?"
"Ay, but that's oon'er nae lethal obligation," answered
Dawvid, dryly.
"An' fat'll ye be deein wi' the bodie Gibb's placie at
Gushetneuk?" pursued Meg. "It's oot, aw b'lieve."
"Weel, I hinna jist luiket at the maitter vera particular
yet, I've hed so muckle on han'. But an' the crap war aff o'
the grun, I'll need 'a be at the road wi' the chyne to mizzour
aff some o' that bits o' places, an' lat Sir Simon ken fat to dee."
"It's sic a noughty little bit haudin. Sudna ye jist pit it
tee to the like o' Clinkstyle, an' mak' a richt fairm at ance?"
"Weel, ov coorse there'll be a cheenge at it at ony rate —
but there's a fyou year o' Clinkstyle to rin yet; an' fat eese
wud Peter Birse hae for mair grun? The man 's lang past 's
"Keep me, Dawvid, ye're foryettin that he has twa strappin
lads o' sins at hame."
"Ou, weel, lat them luik oot some ither gate. To tell the
trowth, Meg, though I ees't to think Peter Birse a saft weel-dispos't
breet — an' wud 'a been owre bye to hae a newse wi'
'im ilka either gloamin — that wife o' his has sic a swye owre
'im an' 's so contermin't that I hinna been naar the place for
years, cep fan my buzness tyeuk me."
"Na, Dawvid, to hear ye say 't!" exclaimed Meg Raffan,
shaking her head with much solemnity. "That's the wye
that ill-will begins. Dear me, didna I jist hear 'er the tither
nicht oot o' 'er nain mou' speakin' aboot you, and remorsin
sair that they sud never see ye owre bye, 'Ay,' says she, 'he's
a richt able creatur, Maister Hadden, an' a richt humoursome.
There's fyou o' yer buik-leern't fowk like him,' says she. An'
fa 's a better jeedge, Dawvid, nor Mrs. Birse — ye winna say
that black 's the fite o' her e'e."
"Ou weel," said Dawvid, whose vanity was visibly flattered,
"I never hed nae ill-wull at the 'oman. But ye ken foo
they gaed on aboot that non-intrusion — "
"Hoot, Dawvid, fowk sudna keep up um'rage. 'Them
that buys beef buys banes,' as the aul' by-word says."
"Ou ay; but I 'm perfeckly seer Sir Simon 'll gi'e nae
fawvour to nane o' that Free Kirk fowk. Ye ken foo he
order't that creatur Peterkin to be turn't aff, 't 's been gaen
aboot like a supplicant sin' sync; an' there's severals 'll hae to
gae yet; lat me tell ye that; or than my name's nae Hadden."
"Hear ye me, Dawvid Hadden," said the henwife, with
the air of one who has something important to communicate,
and drawing a little nearer as she spoke, "Ye maunna lat
licht that I taul ye. But it's true that ye say that Peter
Birse 's growin' an' aul' fail't stock. Noo, Mrs. Birse mintit
to me as muckle's that they sud be thinkin' o' gi'en owre the
place to the aul'est sin, Peter — yon stoot chap, wi' the fite
fuskers — an' themsel's gyaun to some lesser wye o' deein, or
a genteel hoose wi' a bit craft, for easedom i' their aul' age.
'Awat fat needs fowk forfecht themsel's fan they hae plenty,
says she. An' for that maitter the sin 's nae a Free Kirker
"Ou nae!" exclaimed Dawvid, incredulously.
"Na, weel-a-wat no. He's never been a commeenicant
at nae kirk, though the Miss is a gryte Non, an' 's said to be
weel on wi' that fair-hair't chappie, MacCassock, that preaches
to them."
"Ou yea; a bonny bargain the like o' 'im wud be. Better
till 'er tak' ane o' 'er fader's pleughmen."
"Weel, weel, Dawvid. Ye ken 'an 'oman's wut's in her
foreheid,'" said Meg, jocularly. "Ye maunna be owre hard
on 's; we're a' feelish main or less fan men fowk comes i' the
wye;" and Meg bridled up like any other interesting female.
When Dawvid Hadden had left for his home, Meg Raffan
thought with herself that she had succeeded in serving the
ends of her friend, Mrs. Birse, pretty fairly. She had not,
perhaps, convinced Dawvid of the propriety of attaching the
possession of Gushetneuk to the farm of Clinkstyle, but she
had a shrewd notion that she had brought Dawvid into that
state of mind in which he was not unlikely to yield himself to
the furtherance of Mrs. Birse's design so soon as that astute
matron might have opportunity of more directly operating
upon him, and that she would in due season find such opportunity
there was not the least reason to doubt.
Meanwhile, Johnny Gibb plodded on in his wonted style
unconscious of the arrangement that was in contemplation to
relieve him from the cares of active life as farmer of Gushetneuk.

WHEN the Free Kirk congregation of Pyketillim had
got in a measure consolidated, and had begun to
think of calling a pastor, it was considered desirable to form
a regular kirk-session, for hitherto they had merely had the
services of two elders as occasion required, one of these being
the souter, Roderick M'Aul, who had been ordained at a bygone
time before he came to Pyketillim, and whose "orders"
had quite safely been accepted as "indelible," and another
elder belonging to a neighbouring parish who had turned
Free Churchman. So Mr. MacCassock, the probationer, exchanged
pulpits for a Sunday with the moderator of the Free
Presbytery, who read "the edict" for the election of three
new elders and five deacons, and invited the congregation to
meet on the succeeding evening to nominate fit and proper
The election was a new experience in the quarter, and it
caused a good deal of speculation. Jonathan Tawse declared
that it would be a very ludicrous farce if it were not that the
thing so nearly bordered on profanity, and his friend, Dr.
Drogemweal, swore at this aspect of it even in the presence
of the Rev. Mr. Sleekaboot, under whose hospitable roof the
two friends were at the time. Nevertheless, there was a
goodly turn-out of the congregation at the nomination meeting,
females as well as males. Mrs. Birse was there, and
Peter Birse, senior, along with her. There had evidently
been some pains bestowed on Peter's toilet; he was understood
to be arrayed in ecclesiastical black, and, in particular,
the upper part of his person was uncommonly carefully done
up, with a shirt "neck" of formidable dimensions and stiffness
threatening his ears, and his hair combed into a sort of clerical
flatness very different from its ordinary ragged state. The
only other member of the Clinkstyle family present was the
second son, Rob Birse, who has simply been mentioned in
this history previously. Indeed, it would be difficult to say
anything more of Rob than simply mention his existence.
He was a lad who was content to vegetate on in an entirely
undemonstrative way at Clinkstyle — a sort of new and somewhat
duller edition of his father, so far as he had hitherto exhibited
any character whatever. He was rarely stirred into
anything like mental activity, except it might be through the
aggressive action of his mother and sister. It was by their
orders that he came to the congregational meeting, grumbling
somewhat at the hardship of being obliged to do so.
Mrs. Birse maintained a demonstratively devout attitude
during the opening devotions. She and her husband sat in a
pew well to the front, and behind them sat Hairry Muggart —
who had come up to the meeting in their company — and the
The Moderator, in opening the business, pointed out the
duties required of the elders and the qualities that fit a man
for that office, and then asked the meeting to nominate such
as they deemed suitable. Forthwith, the smith rose and nominated
Johnny Gibb, then somebody nominated the smith
himself, and both the nominations were duly seconded. Then
there was a pause; and the Moderator invited further nominations
of men of known piety and zeal, and of unblemished
life, no matter how poor they might be, or how humble their
station. Another pause; and Mrs. Birse sighed with impressive
solemnity, and laid her head on one side. Then the
mole-catcher started up, and with a preliminary "hem," said —
"Maister Moderawtor, there's ane that I think 't we canna
pass owre fae eleckin to be an el'yer. He's vera weel kent
to a' here present; an' weel-wordy o' siccan a office, though
he's nae ane that wud pit 'imsel' forrit. But my opingan is
that he 's been aye owre bauch in 's nain beheef." (Here Mrs.
Birse kicked Peter, who had been looking very uneasy, in the
ribs with her elbow, making him sit upright and show himself.)
"But ae wye or ither," pursued the mole-catcher,
"though he hasna ta'en muckle direck paint, he's been a great
freen to the cause in this neebourheid." (Mrs. Birse modestly
looked to the floor, and shook her head.) "Moderawtor,
aw'm sure I needna mak' a speech, though aw cud dee 't; ye
a' ken Maister Peterkin as weel 's me — I beg till propose
Maister Alexir Peterkin."
At this announcement Mrs. Birse drew herself up with a
severity approaching to violence, and Peter, who had kept
watching her movements with the "tail" of his eye, looked more
uncomfortable than before. The general audience signified
their approbation of the mole-catcher's proposal, and Johnny
Gibb starting to his feet said, "I sec-ond the motion."
Then there was another pause; and the Moderator reminded
the meeting that though the number of elders absolutely
required had now been nominated, yet it was quite
open to anybody to propose one or more additional candidates;
and he had no doubt there were other members of
the congregation well qualified to discharge the duties of the
eldership. Upon this, Hairry Muggart, who for some short
space back had evidently been meditating a speech, swung
himself to his feet by the aid of the pew desk, and said: —
"Maister Moderawtor, I perfeckly agree wi' your opingan
that there ocht to be ane or twa owre an' abeen, to wale
amon'; or else fat 's the eese o' the prenciples o' spiritooal
oondependence, whuch I 've aye mainteen't, an' for whuch oor
forefaders conten'it. Moderawtor, I beg hereby to exerceese
the preevilege wherewith you have inveetit every one present
to be a partaker; an' in doin' so I have to bring one oonder
the fawvourable attention o' this meetin'; for the valuable
services render't to this congregation, which speaks for itsel';
an' also his excellent partner in life." Hairry, who had found
it more difficult than he had expected, to face his rather unsympathetic
audience, and speak, ended abruptly with, "I will
add no more at present, but muv that Maister Peter Birse,
fairmer at Clinkstyie, be elecklt."
They waited a little, but nobody seconded. But the Moderator
said this was not necessary; so the name of Peter
Birse was added to the list of elders elect. The next business
was to nominate deacons, which was speedily done, the name
of Jock Will coming first, and that of the mole-catcher second
in order; and in all some seven or eight, chiefly of the
younger men, were named. When all this was done, the
meeting was brought to a close in the usual way, after the
Moderator had conducted another "exercise" in which the
souter, who at his request, took part, prayed earnestly that
He who knew the hearts of all might show them which of
these men He had chosen; and that there might be close
dealing with conscience on the part of the elders elect, to
make sure that the carnal man had no place in moving them
toward this spiritual office.
"An' that's yer meetin' no!" exclaimed Mrs. Birse addressing
Hairry Muggart, who had kept as close by her as
his ponderous style of locomotion would allow whilst the
goodwife flung through the people as they loiteringly dispersed
from the door of the place of meeting. "I wud like to
ken fat kin' o' a moderawtor he is; or foo they sud 'a pitten
him into Maister MacCassock's place. A man that ken's nae
ane there fae the orraest creatur i' the congregation?"
"Weel," said Hairry, "aw b'lieve they maun hae ane 't 's
been ordeen't to be moderawtor, accordin to the rowles o' the
Kirk. But he's nae gryte deykn at it, weel-a-wat."
"Humph! deykn at it! It was seerly his duty as a
minaister o' the gospel to warn them to luik oot for fowk o' respectable
character, instead o' gaen oot o' 's gate to tell them
that they mith eleck ony wil' ranegill, or ca'd aboot ne'er-do-weel,
though he hinna three bawbees i' the wardle to bless
'imsel' wi'."
"Nae doot," said Hairry, "nae doot. But ye ken they're
nae eleckit yet. Fan the votin' comes that 'll turn the guise wi'
them, or than I won'er at it. Ye see I hed it weel i' my min'
till objeck to Sandy Peterkin, an' request the meetin' to exerceese
the veto on 'im at ance. But as I was sayin', fan ye
cam' owre the streen i' the gloamin to see her, an' spak' aboot
it, I hed my nain doots futher or no aw wud be latt'n nominat'
Peter — Maister Birse, ye ken. An' it was jist as weel 't the
moderawtor didna ken 't aw wusna a regular maimber; but
gin I hed latt'n at Sandy, Gushets or the souter wud 'a been
seer to hae their horn i' my hip, an' they mith 'a refees't 's a
hearin' a'thegither syne, ye see."
"Weel, seerly Gushetneuk mith 'a latt'n aleen there no; fan
he hedna the menners to apen 's mou' for 's nearest neebour
nor nane belangin 'im — fowk 't 's lickly to be near conneckit
wi' 'imsel' — I kenna fat he hed adee speakin' for ony ane."
"I thocht Gushets unco dry the nicht," replied Hairry.
"An' a bonny smiddy they wud mak o' 't," continued Mrs.
Birse. "Mak' an el'yer o' the like o' Sandy Peterkin, 't 's
livin' fae han' to mou' o' the wull o' Providence, an' a deacon
o' that peer simple vulgar creatur o' a mole-catcher; it's
raelly nae fair to Maister MacCassock to bid 'im sit doon wi'
the like o' them."
"Weel, no," said Hairry. "The like o' the merchan', Jock
Wull, mith dee, but —"
"An' aw wud like to ken fat Jock Wull's deen to gi'e him
ony preevilege," exclaimed Mrs. Birse. "Aw'm seer Gushetneuk
kens weel that oor Robbie hed a muckle better richt to
be nominat', oot o' regaird for fat 's sister's deen. Peer thing,
mony a sair fit has she traivell't for the gweed o' the Free
Kirk, and that's fowk's thank."
Hairry could only express concurrence in this sentiment.
But as he and Mrs. Birse had now reached the point where
their roads separated, they pulled up to wait for Peter Birse,
senior, who had fallen some little way into the rear, he having
actually staid to converse for a minute or two with the mole-catcher
and some of his friends. When he came up, Hairry
assumed the jocular vein, and begged to congratulate Peter
on his personal appearance in his "stan' o' blacks," so very
suitable to the new dignity that awaited him.
"Ah aw dinna ken, Hairry," said Peter, glancing toward
his wife. "The lave's seer to be eleckit, an' Sandy Peterkin
may aiven be pitten on afore me."
"Hoot, Clinkies, that winna bide a hearin', man," said
Hairry, confidently.
"Bless me, man, keep yer han's oot o' yer breek pouches;
dinna ye see 't yer rivin' that black claith doon the seam;
there's naething wud leern ye menners," said Mrs. Birse.
Peter withdrew his hands from the pockets of his ecclesiastical
unmentionables accordingly. Then they bade each
other good night, and went on their separate ways homeward.
IN the autumn of 1846, Dawvid Hadden was laboriously
at work on certain parts of the lands of Sir Simon
Frissal, with his measuring chain and sundry poles, one of
which had a small bit of square board nailed on the top of it.
A rough-looking "gurk ov a loon" carried the end of the
chain, and fulfilled Dawvid's orders in running here and
there as Dawvid took a sight over the square-headed pole,
and then shouted and waved his hand to the loon. This
process was what Dawvid called "layin' aff the awcres." The
results, it was understood, were all to be laid before Sir
Simon; but in what particular shape it might be hazardous
to guess, for there is reason to believe that Dawvid could do
nothing whatever in the way of making a plan, and though he
was great at "castin' up" the contents of a piece of land, that
operation did not seem of very essential importance in the re-letting
of the farms, seeing Sir Simon had their various sizes
all carefully booked already. However, it was enough that
Dawvid deemed the "layin' aff" of consequence.
His operations at this time included, of course, the farm
of Gushetneuk, and on the day that Dawvid was expected to
be at work there, Mrs. Birse addressed her husband in this
wise: —
"Noo, man, ye 'll jist mak' an erran' owre bye to the
smiddy, an' cast yersel' in Dawvid's road fan he's aboot the
heid o' the faul'ies; an' see an' get 'im to come owre edder
till's denner, or than afore he lowse."
"I was jist gyaun awa' to tirr that bit huickie that we wus
takin' into the barn to thrash," said Peter, not over anxious to
undertake the mission. "Cudnin some o' the boys gae ?"
"Peter Birse, will ye dee's ye 're bidden? A het invitation
that wud be to ony ane ackin oon'er yer laird. Sen' a laddie,
an' you gyaun aboot the toon the neist thing to han' idle!"
"Weel, gin Dawvid 'll come. But we 're nae needin' the
smiddy. I was there the streen. I'll rather gae owre to
Gushets wi' the probang that we hed the tither nicht fan the
yalla feeder worried on a neep. Aw 'se warran' the fowk 'll be
needin' 't."
"Geyan lickly gae to Gushets! As muckle 's ye wud gi'e
Dawvid to oon'erstan that we're as gryte 's creel heids wi'
them. Some eese o' seekin' 'im at that rate. Fan will ye
leern rumgumption, man?"
Peter did not see it clearly even yet. Only he knew it
was needless to maintain further debate. So he went away
and searched out a hayfork that had got lamed of one prong,
and started for the smiddy. It was only after he had been
there and was on his way home again that he found Dawvid
Haddon at a point where he could be conveniently approached.
Rather to Peter's surprise, Dawvid proved to be affable in a
high degree. Mrs. Birse could have given Peter a probable
reason for this; but it was not to be expected that Mrs. Birse
would feel it in the least necessary to do anything of the sort.
Dawvid could not by any "menner o' means" come to Clinkstyle
that day; for he had got to finish his "layin' aff," and
then go home and write Sir Simon; and he even hinted that
that might not exhaust the "buzness" before him; but Peter
was authorised to give Mrs. Birse assurance that he would be
"athort the morn's gloamin," without fail.
Dawvid Haddon was essentially a man of his word in so
far as fulfilment of his engagements was concerned, and accordingly
he duly made appearance at Clinkstyle as he had
promised. I rather think that Mrs. Birse was not disappointed
at his putting the visit off for a day. It gave her
leisure to mature things more fully. It was just a fortnight
after the meeting for the nomination of elders; the election
had taken place in the interim, and Peter Birse, senior, had
stood at the bottom of the poll. On this occasion (it was on
a Wednesday evening) Peter, who had no clerical character
now to maintain, had been instructed to wash his face and
shave (which he sometimes did, if anything happened to be
going, when the week was only half run), and then to put on
his grey "journey claes," and step up the loan and meet
Dawvid. All this he did, and then he, with due ceremony,
conducted the ground-officer round by the "entry" door and
into the best parlour. The room in question was finished
much in the usual style, the front wall carrying oil portraits
of the master and mistress of the house, done at a former date
by an itinerating artist; when Peter Birse was assumed to be
a sprightly young man given to sticking his hand into the
breast of his black vest, and Mrs. Birse, a blushing beauty,
who manipulated a rose in her slender fingers; the other
pictorial decorations of the parlour were the framed print of a
man who was either Sir William Wallace or Rob Roy attitudinising
with a sword and shield, and the traditional "sampler."
It was laid out for tea. An enormous old-fashioned
urn, which lay under the disadvantage of leaking so badly as
to compel its presence there to be purely ornamental, occupied
the centre of the table, while the multiplicity of crockery
of all sorts surrounding it was enough to bewilder any ordinary
mortal. Mrs. Birse was dressed in her black silk, with a
collar spreading over her shoulders, and a most formidable
black lace cap, perfectly ablaze with branches of "gum-flowers"
of very pronounced colours and uncertain botanical
character. She met Dawvid Hadden at the half-opened
parlour door with a gracious, yet not too familiar "I howp
yer weel the nicht, Maister Hadden — jist leave yer hat i' the
lobby an' step in — alloo me." When Dawvid had stept in
he was a little taken aback, and would perhaps have felt
slightly embarrassed, as Peter Birse, who had shuffled in at
his heels, had stopped his discourse, and seemed to feel the
need of walking gingerly till the introduction should be over;
but Mrs. Birse came to the rescue.
"My daachter; Maister Hadden, an aul' freen." Miss
Eliza Birse, who had sat stiffly in the corner of the room till
that moment, rose, and, with the air of a polished lady, bowed
to Dawvid Hadden. "Glad to see you," said Miss Birse.
Dawvid Hadden was not easily put out; but he did not
expect all this, so much in advance of what he had been wont
to see aforetime at Clinkstyle; and by the time that he had
been duly introduced to Miss Birse, and had got seated on
the chair placed for him, he almost fancied that his face did
manifest a slight tendency toward perspiration. Dawvid had
not quite understood that he came there to tea, but tea was
ordered in at once. The want of a bell to call the servant
was a great defect in the appurtenances of the house at Clinkstyle,
against which Miss Birse had repeatedly protested.
Mrs. Birse's device in lieu of the bell was to open the parlour
door half-way, cough in an incidental sort of tone, and then
shut the door with a sharp snap. To "cry ben" was so
horribly vulgar that it could not be once thought of.
So the damsel brought the tea in a huge, ancient, china
tea-pot. Miss Birse dispensed it with infinite grace, and
Mrs. Birse showed no end of attentions to her guest. Even
Peter Birse had latterly got to be demonstrative in this way,
and urged Dawvid to take several more of the small biscuits,
for the reason that "ane o' that's but a bite, man," at the ungentility
of which saying Miss Birse looked shocked; only
her father was too pleasantly occupied at the time to observe
this very particularly.
When tea was over, Miss Birse, according to arrangement
or otherwise, left the party, as she had to go and make
some visits.
"Ye see she's jist like yersel' there, Maister Hadden —
though there be a gryte differ atween a man o' lang expairience
an' a lassie — that she has aye some bizziness or anider
on han'. Oor youngest laddie, Benjie, 's been i' the toon,'s
ye've maybe heard, for several year?"
"I wusna awaar," said Dawvid.
"Ou ay; he 's wi' a Maister Pettiphog, ane o' the heid
lawvyers o' Aiberdeen — I've nae doot ye 'll ken him?"
"Weel, no, aw cud hardly say that — we're jist speakable
"Aweel, at ony rate he's an aul' servan' o' my uncle's
that was the lawvyer, and has a braw bizziness o' 's nain noo.
An' Benjie's been wi' 'im for mair nor twa year, leernin the
law; an' aw 'm seer aw canna but think that he lippens owre
muckle till sic a young creatur — actooally vreetin o' dockiments
an' fat they ca' progresses. Fat was that 't he said, man, fan
we hed him and Mrs. Pettiphog oot here veesitin for an ouk
fernyear? Ou ay, says he, 'Lat ye Maister Benjamin alone;
it's a sharp client that 'll tak' mair nor the worth o' 's siller
oot o' him.' Weel, as aw was sayin', Maister Pettiphog hed
gotten chairge o' that peer breet An'ro Langchafts' maitters;
an' ye wud raelly won'er, Dawvid; An'ro hed len'it oot triffles
here an' there 't 's nae paid till this day's date."
"Ye dinna mean siller o' 's nain?"
"So it wud appear; though a'body thocht vera different.
An' fat does Maister Pettiphog dee, but get Benjie to vrite
oot here to mak' inquaries."
"Ye see he thocht we mith 'a kent something aboot it,"
observed Peter Birse.
"Noo dinna ye begin to speak aboot things 't ye ken
naething aboot, man," said Mrs. Birse. "Ye see though we
be tellin' Maister Hadden, 't 's sic an aul' freen, a' this, fat's
deein in a lawvyer's office maunna be claickit aboot to ilka
body. So 'Liza wudna pit aff nae longer, but jist vrote
back to Benjie the nicht, an' nae doot we'll hear mair aboot it."
Dawvid Hadden's curiosity, it must be owned, was not a
little aroused by the dose of information so judiciously and
skilfully administered by Mrs. Birse, and which seemed to
give good promise of something more yet to come. From
the point now gained, the conversation flowed on easily and
naturally to a discussion of the character and credit of the
neighbourhood generally. Johnny Gibb came in for some
notice, Mrs. Birse purposely letting fall the remark that
Johnny had not treated them altogether in the way they were
entitled to expect. "He's jist owre bitter no," said the goodwife,
"an' I 'm thinkin' that oor nain Patie's nae sae far
wrang," added she, with a laugh. "It's a pity that he's nae
at hame the nicht; but he 's sic a bricht fairmer that he 's
aye o' the ootleuk for bargains, an' he's awa' at the Hawkha'
market, faur he bocht a byous chape coo fernyear, an' half-a-dizzen
o' stirks — for he has af'en naar dooble the beasts 't oor
boun's 'ill keep. Patie's a stainch Aul' Kirk man, ye ken, an'
says he till's sister, 'Ah, Lizzie,' says he, 'the Free Kirk may
dee for women creaturs, but ye needna think that mony men,
at ony rate young chaps, wi' ony spunk i' them, wud thole yer
psalmin' lang.' Peer 'Liza tyeuk it unco het, but fient a flee
care't Patie."
When Mrs. Birse had repeated these sentiments of her
son approvingly, Peter Birse, senior, brightened up, and
showed some disposition to pursue the same line of thought
on his own account, but his better half promptly and adroitly
turned the conversation, and the rest of the evening was
passed chiefly in the narration of examples of the prudence,
sagacity, and administrative capability of Peter Birse, junior,
his father, Peter Birse, senior, being freely used in illustration
as a sort of foil to set off the young man's merits. At parting,
Mrs. Birse ventured to say, "Weel, weel, Maister Hadden;
it's a gryte feast to see you for an evenin'; an' ye maun come
back shortly an' see Patie, for he 's to be at ye to gi'e 'im
mair grun noo, fan some o' yer tacks is oot. Him an' you
can sattl't atween ye. We sanna enterfere — aul' fowk, ye see,
maun gae oot o' the gate o' the young. It's their pairt to be
thinkin' aboot ither things."
"Aweel, I'll be thinkin' aboot the new arreengements, an'
aw'll lat ye ken fat a' 's to be done vera shortly," said Dawvid
JOCK WILL'S career as merchant in the Kirktown of
Pyketillim, although every way creditable to Jock himself
as a man of enterprise and business habits, furnished in
so far an illustration of the saying that a prophet hath no
honour in his own country. There were people in Pyketillim
who had not been able to make up their minds as to the how
and wherefore of Jock's position, and who manifested a disposition
to treat him in his mercantile capacity accordingly.
They had failed quite in finding out how Jock Will obtained
the pecuniary means that had enabled him to become successor
to Andrew Langchafts, and it was a natural solace to hint a
doubt now and then as to the bona fides of particular transactions,
or the soundness of the footing on which his business
was conducted generally. No matter though Jock was steady,
pushing, and obliging to all, what business had he to be
reticent on what concerned himself, and did not concern
other people? And if he would have his own way of it he
must not take it amiss if some of those whose natural curiosity
he chose so unfeelingly to baffle should also use his shop
simply in the way of a secondary convenience; that when
they had a pretty large order they should go to "the Broch"
or elsewhere for it, and apply at the Kirktown shop only in a
casual way, for any temporary eke that was needed to complete
their supplies. And all under the implied belief that
Jock's goods were not exactly of the highest character; or else
that his prices were open to question. It was somewhat in
this way that Mains of Yawal had been affected when taking
in his stock of spring seeds. Jock had advertised the neighbourhood
of his readiness to supply all these of guaranteed
quality at the best prices going, and had solicited early orders
to enable him to select his quantities. "Na — na," quoth
Mains, "aw'm nae keerious about lippenin muckle to the like
o' 'im — Fa kens but he may be at the gae-lattin? We'll maybe
get a starn clivver seed to mak' up, gin we rin out, for convainience;
but we'll get better and chaeper seed fae ither fowk."
And Mains did run out; and he came to Jock Will's shop,
and not merely insisted on having his deficiency in clover
seed supplied, much to Jock's inconvenience, who feared falling
short of the quantity that customers of a less suspicious
turn had ordered, but "threepit" hard to induce Jock to let
him have it at a halfpenny per pound less than he had paid
for his stock elsewhere.
Mrs. Birse, it must be owned, had never been quite at ease
on the subject of the inner history of Jock Will's start in business;
and the letter from her son Benjie, to which reference
has been made, seemed unexpectedly to open the way to light
on the subject. She instructed Miss Birse how to frame a reply
to her brother, the young lawyer, accordingly; and the epistle
addressed to Benjamin took the following shape: —
"DEAR BROTHER, — Your welcome letter was duly received, and
we are glad to hear that you are quite well. This leaves us all the
same at present. Your letter was very interesting, particularly about
Andrew Langchafts' money, which he loaned to Dr. Drogemweal, by
signing a bill for him, and getting it to pay. Mamma bids you tell Mr.
Pettiphog that he is always in is bag of debt, and always promises to
pay his debt, and never does it. So there is no use of craving him, she
says, except a sheriff-officer do it, and reest his horse, which he cannot
want, having so long roads to travel. Mamma would like if you can
tell us more about anybody that has not paid; and the most particular,
to know if Mr. Will got all the shop things on credit, and has paid any
of them yet. Mamma thinks he is in debt, because he had no money
at the first; and I would like to know as well as her. Don't tell Mr.
Pettiphog that we was asking this. But the shop is so nice now, and
everybody says that Mr. Will is a good business man.
"Father was not elected an elder, but Mr. Will was the highest
among the deacons. Mamma was very angry when father lost; but
says he has himself to thank for it. Last Sabbath, Peter and him was
both at the parish church. Mamma said he could go, but I was grieved.
She thinks we must not offend Sir Simon too much, and it is father's
own conscience that will accuse him if he does not to right. But she
would not give him a halfpenny to give to the brod, because the Established
Kirk has no right to that now, when it is Erastian.
"Just fancy — they elected Sandy Peterkin to he an elder; 'and
him is not doing nothing but living mostly upon charity! Mr. MacCassock
could not be pleased about it. He is to be called for our
minister soon.
"With kind love from all,
"Your affectionate sister,
"P.S. — Write soon, and tell me all the Aberdeen news, and
especially if you have got any new acquaintances, and been at any
With this note in her bag, Miss Birse, leaving the "party"
at which Dawvid Hadden was guest, had set out to make
some calls as collector, and to post the note at Jock Will's
shop at Kirktown of Pyketillim.
To the news-"gizzened" rustic, a lounge about the merchant's
shop door of a gloamin, as he purchases his ounce of
tobacco, or other needful commodity, is inexpressibly grateful.
He can see and hear as much as will furnish topics to keep
himself and his cronies "newsin" for several days. And thus
it was that when Miss Birse got to the post-office, she found
good part of the available space in Jock Will's shop occupied
by customers of the class of farm servants, and amongst them
Tam Meerison, Gushetneuk's man and ex-foreman at Clinkstyle.
She could have posted the letter at the customary slit
in the window, but Miss Birse chose to take it inside. At the
counter was Jock himself, with bland countenance, attending
to the more important orders, while the apprentice, dight in
an ample white apron, measured out tobacco, whipcord, and
siclike. And — could she believe it — at the desk sat Sandy
Peterkin, pen in hand, and with a long narrow day-book before
him! Miss Birse tripped through the parting group of rustics,
and, with extended arm, gracefully dropped the note from between
the tips of her gloved fingers into Mr. Will's hand.
"D' ye do to-night?" asked Miss Birse, with an engaging
"Vera weel, thank ye: hoo d' ye do ?" answered the merchant,
Then she asked particularly after the welfare of his
"mamma;" and then she seemed at a loss whether she should
recognise Sandy Peterkin or not; but Sandy put an end to the
dilemma, thus far, by nodding familiarly to her as he lifted
down the merchant's big ledger. He could not speak at the
moment, because he held the quill pen with which he had
been writing in his lips in a horizontal position. Miss Birse
smiled graciously in return to Sandy's nod. Jock Will invited
her into his dwelling to see his mother, and as the apprentice
was adequate to any business now going, he opened the counter
gateway, stept out, and gallantly escorted her from the
shop to the house.
"She disna ken you nor me the nicht, Tam," said a red-haired
chap with a very freckled face, and an enormously
ample sleeved moleskin waistcoat, as soon as Miss Birse and
the merchant had gone out.
"Na, na, Archie," answered Tam, "fat wye cud a leddy
ken a Jock Muck like you?"
"Weel, weel, Tam, you an' me tee kens fat kin' o' gentry
bides at Clinkstyle; an' faun 'll ye get a rocher, coorser breet
nor young Peter, 'er breeder?"
"Sang, ye may say 't," answered Tam. "Div ye min', fan
we wus aboot the toon thegither there, twa year syne, oor
needin' to fesh 'im hame ae nicht late, that drunk that he didna
ken faun he was?"
"Ou ay; that was the nicht, was 't, 't we fell in wi' 'im
stoitin aboot o' the road atween this an' Clinkstyle, plaister't
wi' clubs to the very croon o' 's heid. Weel, man, I thocht aw
wud rive my yirnin lauchin at 'im that nicht, fan he begood
an' grat an' taul's aboot that deemie that they said hed the
bairn till 'im."
"Weel; it was keerious. He had aye a terrible notion o'
you, Archie; an' leet ye win farrer ben wi' 'im aboot 's lasses
nor ony o' the lave o' 's."
"Ou ay," said our red-haired friend; "ye see the wye 't I
was orra man, I wasna never fess't wi' beasts at even; an' cud
tak' a roun' amo' the deems ony nicht; an' I ees't to lat 'im
gae wi' 's files. Mony a roun' han' did the jauds play 'im —
he's a saft gype — but Peter was jist as redd to gae back's
ever for a' that."
"Noo lads, noo lads, min' ye that's nae discoorse to yoke
till here," interposed Sandy Peterkin, suspending his operations
at the ledger for a moment, and trying to look severe.
"Hoot, never ye min', Sandy," answered Archie, "though
ye be made an el'yer ye maunna be owre snappus wi' fowk. —
Weel, man, he was an awfu' munsie that nicht. We hed to
lay 'im doon upon a puckle strae i' the chaum'er for a file, an'
skirp water in 's face till he cam' some till 'imsel'."
"Ay, an' d' ye min' foo fear't he was 't we sud tell ony o'
the neepours sic a feel's he hed made o' 'imsel'."
"Weel, it wasna the first time, though he was never freely
so ill's that nicht. But they say he's gyaun to get your
maiden yon'er, an' that Gushetneuk's to be pitten tee to
Clinkstyle, to mak' a richt fairm to them."
"Aw dinna believe a word o' 't," said Tam, decisively.
"Divnin ye?" asked Archie. "Man, ye wudna ken.
She's a terrible wife yon."
"Ay, she's a coorse ane," interjected another of the group.
"Coorse!" exclaimed Archie. "That's a' that ye ken
aboot it, min. An' ye hed been wi' 'er, like Tam an' me, ye
wudna not till 'a been taul that there's nae the marrow o' 'er
atween this an' Tamintoul, for an unhang't limmer, wi' a' kin'
o' greed, an' twa-fac't cheatry."
Sandy Peterkin looked up again with a remonstrating
look, but, not heeding this, Archie went on —
"An' yon peer, simple idiot o' a man o' hers, she canna
haud fae ill-guidin' an' makin' a feel o' him afore fowk's faces,
though for that maitter he's far owre gweed for 'er."
"The dother's nae far ahin the mither wi' some things,"
said Tam Meerison.
"Ho, there she goes!" said Archie, as he happened to
glance outside. "My certie, the merchan' 'll better tak' care o'
'imsel' wi' 'er — Weel, are ye gyaun to be stappin, boys?"
These last words were uttered as Jock Will re-entered the
shop. Jock bade his customers good night very affably as
they left, and then proceeded to arrange for closing his place
of business.
The reader has not been informed how it came to pass
that Sandy Peterkin had come to occupy a position in Jock
Will's establishment. It came about very simple in this wise.
That Sandy Peterkin was in need of some suitable employment
was a fact patent to anybody, and it weighed particularly
on the minds of his three friends, the souter, the smith,
and Johnny Gibb. Johnny even declared that the idea of a
man of Sandy's "pairts an' leernin" hoeing "neeps," or raking
in "hairst" to him, was "degraadin," which Sandy did not in
the least seem to feel, but did the work contentedly. They
did not, like Job's friends and others, proceed to comfort him
in a critical way, but having met and considered his case —
"Weel," said the smith, "I canna think o' onvthing better nor
tryin' the merchan' to set him to dee his clarkin; he has owre
muckle adee till 'imsel', an' Sandy winna be ill to say till wi'
the waages."
"Man, that's the vera thing; aw'm seerly dottl't or I wud
'a thocht o' that ere noo," exclaimed Johnny Gibb.
"He vreets a bonny han'," said the souter.
"Bonny! it 's like the vera copperplate," added Johnny
Johnny at once undertook to see Jock Will in Sandy
Peterkin's interest. Jock, like a sensible man, readily fell in
with the proposal of his seniors, and Sandy was forthwith put
on trial as clerk, much to his own satisfaction, and with no
disappointment to the expectations of his friends.
IF Johnny Gibb's farm of Gushetneuk was to be reft from
him, and he, Johnny, sent adrift from the lands of Sir
Simon Frissal, as an incorrigible disturber of the peace, civil
and ecclesiastical, it was very evident that the prospect before
him gave Johnny no manner of trouble or anxiety whatever.
When Dawvid Hadden, in the plenitude of his power as
ground-officer, had deliberately stalked about for a day or
two on the possession of Gushetneuk, climbing over fences,
and "sten'in" through turnip and potato drills, or kicking up
hillocks among "new girse stibbles," as he went on "layin' aff
the awcres," it had seemed to Dawvid a settled matter that
the obstinate "bodie" would feel the necessity of making up
to him in a somewhat more deferential spirit than that which
had marked their later intercourse about the date of the Disruption.
But in this Dawvid was disappointed. Johnny was
to be seen jogging leisurely about, "snoddin up" the "corn
yard," turning out his young stock to pick up the "natur' girse"
by the margins of the now cleared fields, or directing the operations
of Tans Meerison and the orra man as they laid on a
substantial coat of "top-dressing" on the old lea that was to
be broken up; but he heeded Dawvid just as much and no
more than if Dawvid had been some insignificant interloper
whom it was not worth while to turn off the land.
"Fat's that preen-heidit ablach deein there, Tam?" said
Johnny, as he saw Dawvid Haddon cross the fence with his
attendant carrying the measuring "chyne."
"Ou, he's been at it yesterday, an' the day baith, layin'
aft the grun," answered Tam Meerison.
"Humph!" quoth Johnny, as he turned away homeward.
"a bonny layin' aff, or than no; he mith 'a sav't himsel' that
tribble at ony rate."
"The maister has a richt ill-wull at that mannie," said
the orra man, when Johnny Gibb had got beyond ear-shot.
"Ill-wull!" answered Tam Meerison. "Man, he disna
think 'im worth haein an ill-wull at: peer win'y smatchet,
gyaun aboot preten'in' that he's Sir Seemon's awgent. Little
to me wud set the dog at 'im: ye wud shortly see foo he wud
tak' owre the dyke, chyne an' a'thegither."
Tam did not set on the dog, however, but pursued his
"Nabal vratch," soliloquised Dawvid Hadden within himself.
It was not that he had heard the sentiments uttered by
Johnny Gibb, for the two were a couple of hundred yards
distant from each other at the time that Johnny had spoken;
but, as Dawvid fixed his squaring pole, he had allowed the
"tail" of one eye to wander toward Johnny in the hope that,
in place of going away in contemptuous disregard of his,
Dawvid's, presence, he would come towards him, if not in a
supplicating, then in a bellicose spirit; and Dawvid flattered
himself that he knew the precise attitude which, as a man in
authority, it was becoming to assume in either case. Johnny
simply turned in the other direction to attend to some trifling
concern affecting the temporary convenience of his stirks.
"Nabal vratch; hooever, they gae far aboot that disna meet
ae day — Fat can he mean cairnin on the tap-dressin' that
gate? He winna get the gweed o' that in ae crap, nor twa.
Weel, it 'll pit the grun in gweed hert for somebody, ony wye."
In this mood had Dawvid Hadden begun his "layin' aff:"
in this mood he continued it. It has been already narrated
how Dawvid paid a friendly visit to Clinkstyle, and what
communings took place on that occasion. Thereafter, the
ground-officer set about the onerous duty of reporting to Sir
Simon Frissal the result of his land-surveying labours. The
statement was fully more verbose than lucid; yet Dawvid
contrived to make it abundantly apparent what he conceived
should be done with the farm of Gushetneuk, at least. Of it
Dawvid reported thus: —
"The pleace is two small and John Gibb has not led it
owt according to plan which is allways very disrespectfull to
supperiors and obstinat small farms is bad for increasing
pauppers under the new poor law i have been applied too by
severals but told them the new plan had not been decided
which it was likely you would not need no new tenant when
you could get quiet well behaved people among the old
tenants the supperficies off the new farm is 173 acres arrable
encloodin the commodation road and the smal belt which is
not more nor an acre and a half. the fire howse at Gushetneuk
would stand and with improvements which they is
willing to do at their own coast would be shootable for Mr.
and Mrs. Birse. there sun which is also called Peter is to be
the farmer and is a remarkable good marketman and steady
and is much respected by Mr. Sleekaboot and considers him
one of the best disposed young men that comes to the parish
church and never a sunday out of it I also noes off tenants
for the smith's and shoemaker's crofts. no more at present."
To the ground-officer's laboured production Sir Simon's
reply was brief; and these were its terms: —
"DAVID, — I intend coming home per mail coach on 23rd inst.
Please give the gardener your assistance in making the approach tidy
and clearing it of dead leaves and rubbish. Also intimate to the
people whose holdings are out that Mr. Greenspex, my agent, and I
will meet them on 25th. John Gibb, the smith, and shoemaker, are
to wait on me the previous night.
"October 10th. "S. FRISSAL."
With the contents of this note Dawvid Hadden was highly
pleased. It was now past doubt that his plan of re-letting
was approved, and he carried in his pocket a warrant of expatriation,
as it were, against the three men, who of all Sir
Simon's tenantry had set most lightly by his authority. Yet
Dawvid was not void of magnanimity.
"Weel, Hairry, man," said he, addressing our friend the
wright, "I'm a kin' o' sorry for the souter an' the smith — the
smith in particular — he's a gweed tradesman, an' a humoursome
chiel — though he hae a gey sharp tongue in's heid files
— but ye see they hedna ither till expeck. I warn't them
weel fat it wud come till lang syne."
"Ou ay; they war baith owre heidie, ye see. Prenciple's
ae thing, but jist to rin yersel' clean intill a snorl disna dee."
"Ye was a wise man that drew in yer horns a bit, aw can
tell ye, Hairry."
"Weel, weel," said Hairry, with a somewhat forced laugh,
"it disna dee to bide at Room, an' strive wi' the Pape. An'
I'm a kin' o' mair oonder the Sir nor aiven the like o' them."
"Be thankfu' 't ye are 's ye are, Hairry; for Sir Simon
was onything but pleas't about you gaen aboot makin'
speeches at some o' that non-intrusion meetin's, I can tell ye.
An' though I say 't mysel', that maybe sudna say 't, it wud 'a
requar't only twa scraips o' the pen fae me fan aw was makin'
out my report to gar Sir Simon tak' a vizzy backar't; an' syne
I wudna gi'en a goupenfu' o' sheelocks for yer chance."
"Muckle obleeg't to ye, Dawvid," said Hairry, in a tone
indicative of earnestness, not unmixed with anxiety. "It's nae
fae you 't I've kent sae lang 't I wud 'a dreadit an ill turn,
though I ken weel ye 've a hantle i' yer poo'er."
"Ay," continued Dawvid, quite observant of Hairry's state
of feeling, "fan ye was gaen clampin doon to that bit hole o'
a skweel ilka ither nicht, an' jawin awa' amo' yer nons, Sir
Simon says to me, 'Dawvid,' says he, 'do you know that that
fellow Muggart's been repeatedly down haranguin thaese
poor ignorant fanatics?' 'I'm not awaar hoo af'en, sir,' says
I, tryin' to mak' as licht o' 't 's aw cud. 'Well,' says he, 'keep
your eye upon him, an' let me k-now.'"
"Eh, did he raelly say that, Dawvid? Weel, ye ken, I
never tyeuk nae active pairt, cepin twice. I was in fawvour
o' the prenciple, ye see; but the like o' Gushetneuk an' them
carrie't things owre gryte a lenth."
"Weel, weel, Hairry, ye better lat sleepin' tykes lie noo.
The places is to be set aboot the twenty-foift, so ye 'll need 'a
be owre bye. My plan's been afore Sir Simon this aucht
days, an' I hed 's letter the streen, fully approvin' o' 't; so
there'll be little adee but get the lawyer to tak' oor enstructions,
and vreet oot the dockiments."
"An' will there be ony cheenge than, Dawvid, forbye fat
ye 've mention't?" asked Hairry.
"Ye'II see; ye'll see. We maunna cairry clypes oot o' the
skweel. Hooever, aw'm gaen up to the Manse to call upo'
Maister Sleekaboot, an' converse wi' 'im about ane that he
was recommen'in' to me. — Gweed nicht wi' ye."
Dawvid went on to the Manse accordingly, and knocked at
the front door. "Ou, jist say it's Maister Hadden that wunts
'im for a minute," said Dawvid, in answer to the inquiry of
the damsel who opened the door to him. Mr. Sleekaboot
came down from his study, and found Dawvid seated in the
parlour, dangling his hat between his knees.
"I'm glad to see ye, David; your wife is quite well, I hope;
and the children?" said Mr. Sleekaboot.
"We're a' vera muckle aboot the ordinar', sir," answered
Dawvid. "Gweed be thankit. I've call't up aboot yon that
ye mention't — the settin' o' the crafts, ye ken."
"Oh! Sir Simon returns this month?"
"We've arreeng't things jist as I taul ye, an' ye can lat
me ken whuch craft, the smith's or the souter's, it would be
maist agreeable to get for this person that ye're interaistit in."
"Indeed!" exclaimed Mr. Sleekaboot. "I'm really much
obliged to you, David."
"Dinna mention't, sir."
"It's not that I would desire to dispossess any man; far
from it; but as you said Sir Simon could not allow these
people to remain after what had come and gone, I thought
I might as well recommend a most respectable man to you —
a most respectable man."
"Fat's his name, sir, aw'll better book it at once," said
Dawvid, putting down his hat on the carpet, and pulling out
a crumpled book of the penny diary order, together with a bit
of black lead pencil, the point of which he dipped into his
mouth, in preparation for writing.
Mr. Sleekaboot gave Dawvid the name of some unknown
person, a sister's daughter's husband of Jonathan Tawse, and
Dawvid booked it in proper style. "It will be a particular
favour," added the minister, "and he will be entirely indebted
to yourself for it, David."
"Ou, I'm aye willin' to dee a fawvour to them that 's enteetl't
till onything o' the kin'. Ye'll maybe adverteese 'im
to luik in aboot upo' me at 's convainience."
"And don't mention my name, you know, David, in connection
with the matter; being of a secular nature, my motives
might be misunderstood."
"I un'erstan' ye perfeckly, sir," said Dawvid; then he
again put up his diary and black lead pencil; and soon thereafter
bade the minister a formal good night, and went away
THE settlement of the Rev. Nathaniel MacCassock, as
Free Kirk Minister at Pyketillim, was an event that
afforded an altogether new experience in the place. To the
younger people the "placin" of a minister was something
which they had never witnessed in any shape. Their seniors
could remember the time when Mr. Sleekaboot was ordained
as minister of the parish. But that was a different style of
thing altogether. Sir Simon Frissal had, of his own good
will and pleasure, "presented" the Rev. Andrew Sleekaboot,
without consulting any individual more or less; and the Presbytery
had mainly carried the matter through, without anybody
in the parish being a bit the wiser. When the ordination
"trials" were completed, and the settlement was to take
place, they fixed it, as the use and wont is, for a week day,
whereat certain of the parishioners grumbled, because the
Presbytery had been unmindful of the fact that the "neeps"
were pressing for hoeing at the time. And one or two doubted
whether a week-day service was constitutional.
"Aw'm fell dootfu' aboot gyaun naar them ava, fader,"
said Mains of Yawal, then a promising young man, addressing
his male parent; "the neeps is spin'lin up till they'll be
connach't; an' they've nae poorer to gar fowk gae to the kirk
on ouk days, cepin o' the fast-day."
"It'll be siccarer to gae, loon," said the judicious senior.
"Ye wudna ken fat mith happen. Sir Seemon 'II be there
'imsel', an' the factor wi' 'im, nae doot, an' they wud seen see
gin oor seat war freely teem. Tak' ye a stap owre bye an' see
fat like a birk he is. As the aul' by-word says, 'It's aye
gweed to hae yer cog oot fan it dings on kail.'"
Like an obedient son, Mains of Yawal had obeyed his
father's injunctions, and patiently witnessed the ordination
services. Then the Presbytery had the ordination dinner,
from which, it was said, every individual member of the reverend
court departed in a more or less "glorious" state. Mains
of Yawal did not say this, but on that very evening he had
occasion to witness a part of the tail of the ordination programme
for which he had not bargained. The old man, as
his custom was, before retiring to rest, went out in the quiet
summer gloamin to the hillock at the western end of his cosy
"stobthacket" house, and cast his eyes abroad over as much
of the farm of Mains of Yawal as they could take in from that
point of vantage. He gazed and gazed again in the direction
of the lower part of the farm, past which the road from the
Kirktown of Pyketillim led.
"Jamie!" cried he, "fat 's that makin' sic a reerie amo'
the stirks doors i' the Shallhowe? Seerly the tod, or a set o'
cairds rinkin aboot the pumphel. Rin awa' doon, man, an'
see fat's oonsattlin the beasts fae their lair."
He was a "notionate" old fellow the elder Mains of
Yawal, and would be obeyed. So when Jamie went down
till he had full command of a point a little beyond where his
father could see to, what should he behold but a gentleman
in white neckcloth, with his hat far back on his head, and
seated on horseback, completely locked into the corner of
the lower field among the growing corn. He had deliberately
ridden off the road, in at the "yett;" there could be no doubt
that the rider was responsible for this aberration and not the
horse; and after traversing the field in various directions to
the infinite astonishment of Mains of Yawal's stirks, who had
some dim notion, evidently, that the proceeding was not in
proper ecclesiastical form, he had got as it were jammed into
the "neuk" of the field. There the rider, who, on finding
further progress impossible, had been thrown back on the
previous proceedings, was hilariously reciting part of a speech
he had delivered in the manse that day, and the horse was
occupying his time by nibbling grass off the top of the "fealdyke."
Our young farmer, who knew perfectly well the name
and local habitation of the reverend brother of the Presbytery
who had been caught straying in this odd fashion, was naturally
incensed, and rated his "obfuscated" reverence severely
for "blaudin the corn" in such an unwarrantable fashion.
And his reverence, in tones of serene contentment, replied,
"Ho-ot, min, hoot; jist lead ye my horsie oot; I 'll pay all
damages. We hae-na or-dination dinner every day, min'. ye."
I fear this digression is hardly to be justified; only let the
indulgent reader bear in mind that the habits of Pyketillim
are to me of perennial interest, whether the date be a quarter
or half a century ago, or more.
Well, while the scheme, of which the reader knows, relative
to the possession of Gushetneuk had been maturing, the subject
that specially occupied Johnny Gibb's thoughts was not
the renewal of his lease, but the settlement of Mr. MacCassock.
Johnny had been at pains to stir up the people of the Free
Kirk to a sense of their privilege in electing a minister; and
he had had the satisfaction of seeing a full meeting present on
the day of election, when Mr. MacCassock was unanimously
chosen. Then Mr. MacCassock had his "trials," and, albeit
the souter was Presbytery elder at the time, Johnny felt it incumbent
upon him too to travel to the Presbytery's place of
meeting, and sit through a five hours' "sederunt," in order that
he might lose nothing in the procedure that was fitted to edify.
Some parts of the exercises to which Mr. MacCassock was
subjected were confessedly beyond Johnny Gibb's intelligent
comprehension; yet he and the souter returned from the
Presbytery with the steadfast conviction that he was a "gran'
scholar," and "poo'erfu' i' the original langiges;" and the congregation
readily accepted their report on this point. That
Mr. MacCassock was an able preacher they all knew of their
own knowledge. Mr. MacCassock had now passed his
"trials" with approbation, and following on that they had
next settled the details of the ordination. They did not
reckon brevity the soul of wit, nor attribute to it any desirable
character whatever in such a matter, and so Johnny Gibb
and the souter, who had got a remit on this head from the
congregation, had pleaded it almost on the ground of a personal
favour that three of the fathers and brethren would take
part in the services; the moderator to preach the sermon,
then one brother to "address the newly-ordained pastor," and
another to "address the people." This was all agreed to, and
the 23rd of October was fixed for the ordination.
"The vera day 't Sir Seemon comes hame!" exclaimed
Mrs. Birse, addressing her daughter, who had just returned
from some piece of visiting. "I' the face o' fortune, fa said
that, 'Liza?"
"I heard it at the shop."
"The chop! Fowk'll get a' ca'd aboot clypes there; I
think they mith get something ither adee nor turnin' owre a'
the claicks i' the kwintra."
"Well, mamma, if it please ye any better, it was Mr.
Gibb himself that told me."
"Gushetneuk 'imsel'? It wud set 'im better to bide at
hame, an' luik aifter that sweer fangs o' servan' chiels o' his."
"An' he bade me say that there'll be a great turn-oot, for
the ablest speakers i' the Presbytery's all to tak' part; an' he
wud expect to see every one o' us there that day."
"To see's a' there! Weel, weel! Easy till 'im that has
naething to loss nor win. But it's jist aye the gate wi' them
't hisna faimilies o' their nain; there's nae en' to their selfitness.
Fat wye cud he expeck Patie an' yer fader there fan
the tacks is to be set immedantly aifter?"
"Well, mamma, ye know well aneuch that if Peter offen'
Mr. Gibb, he needna think to get Mary Howie to be 's wife.
An' ye've helpit a' 't ye cud to get 'er till 'im yourself."
"Peter! Peer man, aw doot he hisna sol't 's beets wi' 's
transack amo' the lasses. But an' he war goodman o' Newtoon,
's Dawvid ca's 't, an' Mary Howie needin' to gae awa' to
the frem't, she maybe winna be sae saucy, aiven though an
inhaudin, unedicat taupie chiel in a kwintra chop sud be
garrin 'er troo that he's wuntin' 'er — Fat sorra wud he wunt
'er for but to get 's han's o' the siller that Gushets 's len'it 'im,
or I'm sair mista'en?"
"Mamma!" exclaimed Miss Birse, with vehement emotion.
"That's not a proper way to speak of Mr. Will; and him one
o' the deacons too. I'm sure he don't deserve that fae no one
belongin' to the Free Church," and Miss Birse flung herself
on the parlour couch in a state midway between sobbing and
"Hoot, 'Liza," said Mrs. Birse, in a cooler tone, "I wasna
meanin' to lichtlifie him — Gweed forbid. We a' ken weel fat
kin' o' an' upfeshin he gat; an' gin he be able to hae a chop
noo it's the mair till's credit; only, ye ken, the like o' 'im
canna hae the same respeck 's a man o' edication like Maister
MacCassock, 't 's been weel brocht up a' 's days, an' gane
throu' the College, like yer nain broder, Benjamin. But aw
was provokit at that bodie Gushets gaen on that gate, 's gin
he war enteetl't to rowle the roast owre a'body."
"He only wantit 's a' to be there, because there'll be gran'
preachers; and Gushets' ain people'll hae some strangers wi'
them," said Miss Birse.
"Weel, ye ken, Patie has a gryte prefairrance for the
Pairis Kirk, an' it winna dee to swye nae creatur's conscience,
'Liza, ye ken that yersel'. An' yer fader is not stoot. I was
thinkin' 'im luikin jist rael wainish't-like aboot the queets the
tither day; it's raelly a gryte harassment to the like o' 'im to
be gar't shave an' cheenge his claes on an ouk day."
Of course, Mrs. Birse had it her own way; although, with
the exception of Peter Birse, senior, and Peter Birse, junior,
the members of the family at Clinkstyle did attend the ordination
services. The Free Kirk of Pyketillim was crammed
on this occasion; and Johnny Gibb looked altogether like one
who reckoned it a high day. There had been a promise of
long standing on the part of his friend "Maister Saun'ers" at
Marnoch to pay him a visit, and now Johnny had pressed fulfilment
of the promise. Mrs. Gibb was not improved in
pedestrian power, so Johnny made Tam Meerison yoke the
cart, and in that useful vehicle Mrs. Gibb, himself, Maister
Saun'ers, and Jock Will's mother rode pleasantly enough to
the Free Kirk. The merchan', carefully done up in a "stan' o'
blacks," came on behind in the company of Mrs. Gibb's niece,
Mary Howie, who was also escorted by Willy M'Aul, whose
muscular frame, and ruddy, open face, formed a good contrast
to the merchant's careful style and semi-demure air. Willy,
who had been for a time a stranger in Pyketillim, was there to
hit at least two dogs with one bone, if he might, by visiting his
home, and at the same time attending the ordination services.
And if one might judge, it was no unpleasant experience to
him again to meet certain of his old acquaintances, in whose
company he now found himself. He had moreover been
specially invited to take tea at Gushetneuk with his old master
and mistress, and in company with the perspicacious
Maister Saun'ers from Marnoch.
It is needless to say how impressive the ordination services
were; how closely, for three long hours, they were listened
to by a crowded congregation; and how the psalmody
swelled up beyond its wonted volume. It was the mole-catcher
who now occupied the precentor's desk, but the mole-catcher
was a modest man, and on great occasions he would
always have Johnny Gibb in the "lateran" also, to give him
assurance, for Johnny's presence of mind never deserted him.
And Johnny's voice had a grip in it. At the points in the
metre he could ring out with a penetrating "birr" that set
straggling elements in the general body of sound at defiance,
and when occasion required overbore in its prolonged twang
even the shrill piercing note of the principal female voice.
When the service had ended, and Mr. MacCassock had received
the usual "cordial welcome," the congregation betook
themselves to their several homes. Mr. MacCassock having
as yet no manse, and there being no other suitable accommodation
available, it had been found necessary, reluctantly, to
give up for the present the idea of "entertaining" the brethren
of the Presbytery.
As the congregation were in process of gradual dispersion
by the various routes leading to and from the Kirk, the
carriage of Sir Simon Frissal came along the highway with
that dignified baronet, who had just arrived on his autumn
visit to the locality, in the interior. Johnny Gibb's mare,
Jess, which was already under way, manifested an evident
disposition to keep pace with Sir Simon's fleeter steeds as
they passed, and Johnny. who was in command of Jess at
the time, did his best simultaneously to check the vivacity of
the animal, and accord the customary recognition to his laird
by lifting his hat. Whether Sir Simon deigned to return the
salute of the tenant of Gushetneuk was not clearly determinable;
at any rate, Jess by her capers made very sure that the
baronet should not pass without having his special attention
fixed on her master.
IT was an honourable feature in the policy of the Frissal
family that within the memory of living man or woman
no old tenant had ever been turned off the property. No
matter that adverse fortune had overtaken a man, nor even
that his own sloth or mismanagement had reduced him to
straits; if unable to continue in his existing "haudin," some
smaller place, or at least a "bield" to put his head in, was
found for him, and he was allowed to end his days with the
centre of his wonted orbit as little disturbed as might be.
Though Sir Simon had been from his youth upward what
would have been rightly described as a "hard-up" laird, and
though the more industrious of his tenants evidently made a
very comfortable living, the rents remained easy, and no
foreign influences had hitherto been permitted to inflame them.
Perhaps the system had its drawbacks. I recollect one or
two tenants, for example, of a type that could certainly never
be developed under the more modern system, by which the
lands, erstwhile of Sir Simon, as well as other properties, are
now regulated. Their laziness and capability of mismanagement
were positively of the nature of genius at any rate in
so far as genius can achieve results without effort. Here was
Ga'in Tamson now — Who could have told from Ga'in's pastures
that Italian ryegrass was a plant known to the British
farmer; or said with certainty from his "green crop" that the
turnip was other than an exotic of doubtful growth in our
severe climate? In point of fact, Ga'in allowed a large "screed"
oftener than once, to "lay" itself "out," without his troubling
it with anything in the shape of clover or grass seeds; and he
objected to "bone manure" on principle. His patches of corn
bloomed a bright yellow with the ancient "skellach;" and the
aspect of his kine, and of his old "brown" mare did not belie
the fare on which it was their fortune to be sustained. Ga'in
was a "fine stock," with a fluent and compendious power of
"newsin;" yet he got into difficulties, and latterly ceased to
pay rent. But even Ga'in Tamson was not sent adrift. He
merely "roupit aff" at Claybogs, and being transferred to a
croft near by, placidly cultivated the same, or refrained from
cultivating it, as he had a mind, for the remaining period of
his life. Well; if Sir Simon's system had its drawbacks, I
am not sure that the system which has succeeded it is quite
Anyhow, things being thus, the report that Johnny Gibb,
the souter, and the smith were to be turned off, caused no
little sensation in the neighbourhood, as the 25th October,
1846, being the day of letting, approached.
"Na; but it's keerious no that Dawvid sudna been owre
bye ere this time to gi'e 's the rinnins o' the maitter."
The speaker was Mrs. Birse, and she addressed her husband
and her eldest son, Peter, when they had finished their
breakfast on the morning in question.
"Hooever, he has sae mony things to deteen 'im; ye'll
baith rank yersel's eenoo an' be ready in richt time to gae up
to the Hoose."
"Fat wud be the eese o' that; we'll be in gweed time this
twa 'oors," quoth Peter, junior, rising and making his way
toward the parlour door. "Aw'm gyaun awa' to lat oot the
stirks an' ca' them to the Backhill, faur Mains's orra man's
reddin out the mairch stank, till aw see foo he's gettin' on."
"Noo, Patie, fat eese has the like o' you to be gyaun
treeshin an' ca'in' aboot at nowte beasts eenoo."
Peter went, however; and as Mrs. Birse could do no better,
she called after him, "Min', noo, and nae bide owre lang.
Ye ken Sir Seemon's vera punctooal, an' 's nain words to
Dawvid wus to bid 'every one lie there by twel' o'clock.' —
Na, man, but aw mitha bidden you pit on yer claith breeks i'
the mornin'! There ye hae them skaikit wi' skirps o' sharn
bree to the vera waisthan'."
"Hoot, 'oman, it's naething o' the kin'; ye ken they've
hed that marks o' them this three towmons," and Peter Birse,
senior, wetted his thumb and proceeded to rub at certain
spots on the rather shrivelled-looking rusty-black unmentionables
in which the lower part of his person was enclosed.
"Noo, min' yer nae to gae throu' yer gremmar gin Sir
Seemon speer onything aboot the Free Kirk at ye, fan ye're
sattlin aboot Gushetneuk; as it's nait'ral that he will."
"Weel, gin he speer, aw maun jist tell 'im the trowth; ye
ken brawly that I never was a weel-wuller till gyaun awa' fae
the Pairis Kirk."
"There's mair wyes o' tellin' the trowth nor ane, man;
ye 're seerly aul' aneuch to ken that ere noo. Sir Seemon kens
fae ithers nor you that Maister MacCassock's come o' genteel
respectable, weel-livin' fowk, an' that he's vera intimat' in oor
faimily. An' gin he speer aboot ony ither transack that
there's been, there's nae occasion for you to say ocht or flee,
but jist, 'Weel, Sir Seemon, the best wey's joost to refar ye
to yer nown awgent, Maister Hadden.'"
"But foo sud aw dee that?"
"Foo sud ye dee that! Foo sudna ye dee 't fan yer bidden?"

"Dawvid hisna naething adee wi' 't."
"An' fat for hisna Dawvid naething adee wi' 't? He gya
you a braw fleg aboot it af'ener nor ance. Jist hear ye fat I
say — 'It wusna for naething that the cat licket the stane,' 's
the fowk says; an' aw think it wud be ill Dawvid Hadden's
pairt nae to dee a' that he cud for them that's countenanc't
him as we've deen."
"Hoot, but ye lippen owre muckle to Dawvid," argued
Peter; but Mrs. Birse, who had begun to give her attention
to some household matters, did not think it worth while to
keep up the discussion, knowing, as she did, that though
Peter was disposed to regard the occasion as one on which
he might not inopportunely remind Mrs. Birse, in a friendly
way, of his own safe instincts in matters ecclesiastical, he would
undoubtedly fall in, and act according to his instructions.
In due course, Messrs. Birse, senior and junior, set forth
on their important errand. I rather think there had been
some slight qualms of conscience in the case of the former;
else he need not have proposed to his son that, in place of
taking the straight road, they should go along the dykeside
through the field, and round by the Backhill, so as to steer
quite clear of Gushetneuk. At any rate they reached the
precincts of the great house in good time. Then they were
puzzled somewhat. The prefatorial part, as it were, had been
solely entrusted to Dawvid Hadden, and Dawvid they had
not yet seen; and notwithstanding they had hung about
where it seemed likely they might catch the vigilant ground-officer's
eye, there had been no sign of his appearing. So
they would go past his house. Oh! that very morning Dawvid
had had to leave post haste for "door throu'," on business of
Sir Simons. There was nothing for it then but walk up to
the "Hoose" alone. And when they had done so the butler
told them that Sir Simon and Mr. Greenspex had been going
on for a while.
"The parson 's been here, no less, for the last half hour,"
quoth the functionary aforesaid.
"We wus expeckin to see Dawvid Madden; will there be
ony chance o' 's bein' in aboot shortly?" asked Peter Birse,
"Davie?" said the butler, "not if he's a wise man; there's
been a awful kick up about some promise he had made to his
reverence to give the smith's croft to a prodigee of his."
"Raelly!" answered Peter.
"And the upshot's like to be to unship poor Muggart."
"Eh, fat wye, man?"
"Well, you see," said the butler, who was not a much less
important official in his own way than Dawvid Hadden, — "so
far as I gather, Sir Simon at the preliminary audience last
night, settled to give both the smith and shoemaker their
crofts — so I gathered from the conversation of the agent when
we had a glass of wine together. Sir Simon put on his most
severest look — and he can do it in style — when he heckled
them about the Free Church. But, as you Scotch say, he
gave them the bit and the buffet with it — and quite right,
quite right, they're both very good tradesmen. Ah! but his
reverence comes up with this prodigee of his; a parson's not
to be denied, you know; besides, Sir Simon was very angry
at Muggart for making such a botch of that new gate at the
bottom of the lawn; and I gather that Hairry's to get the
sack to make way for this person."
"lsnin that byous!" said Peter Birse, senior. "Ye see we
cam' up about Gushetneuk."
"Gushetnook! what about it?" said the butler.
"Weel, we wus thinkin' o' takin' it tee to oor pairt for him
here;" and Clinkstyle canted his hat half-way over in the
direction of his son.
"Takin' Gushetnook! Bless your 'art, didn't you hear
that it's took already? Old Gibb was here last night; sich a
row with Sir Simon and he; might 'a heard them half-way
down the lawn — not Sir Simon, of course, he's too much of
a gentlemen to speak loud. But Gushetnook's let — not to old
Gibb, mind ye, but to some friend o' his, I didn't gather who.
Excuse me, gentlemen," continued the butler, who was also
discharging the office of footman. "His reverence is just
The butler went to open the door, and Peter Birse, senior,
looked at Peter Birse, junior, uneasily.
"Nyod, I dinna think 't we sud bide langer, laddie."
"Please yersel'," said Peter Birse, junior. "Fat 'll my
mither say to ye, gin ye gae hame onseen the laird?"
"We canna be nae better o' seein' 'im noo, fan it's ta'en
oot amo' oor vera fingers."
"This way, gentlemen — leave your hats," said the butler
returning with a pompous swing.
"Weel, we wusna thinkin' o' tribblin Sir Seemon aifter fat
ye've taul's," said Peter Birse, senior.
"I've announced you — please don't keep Sir Simon waiting,"
was the response, uttered with some sharpness.
So the Messrs. Birse were ushered into the presence of
Sir Simon Frissal and Mr. Greenspex. The interview was
not a long one, yet Peter Birse, senior, I am sure, could have
honestly said he did not want it further protracted. He had
only endeavoured to perform his "boo," in answer to Sir
Simon's "Well, Birse, what do you wish?" and got a sentence
or two muttered to the effect that "We wus gaen to speer
aifter Gushetneuk," when the lawyer interposed, "Oh, yes,
yes; supposing that it might be in the market. Very natural.
Anything about your own farm? No; that's right. Well, I
suppose this finishes — allow me" — and Mr. Greenspex opened
the door to give him the opportunity of whispering to Peter
Birse, "That's another piece of Dawvid Hadden's han'iwork,
I presume. Oh, Dawvid, Dawvid! Ye may thank your stars
that I've ta'en you oot without wakenin' the old gentleman's
wrath again. Good-day."
When the tenant of Clinkstyle and his son left the
"Hoose," after a voluble "good-bye" from their friend the
butler, there was an aspect of considerable blankness on both
their faces; and had the senior of the two been asked at that
moment in what shape he was to report proceedings to his
wife, I do believe that he would have been a good deal at a
loss for a reply.
AS Messrs. Birse, senior and junior, pursued their way
homeward to Clinkstyle, the conversation between
them could hardly be described as animated. The elder
Peter moralised in his own way on the "keeriousness" of the
whole thing: how it should have come about that Dawvid
Hadden's plan so elaborately got up should have gone, for
nothing; how Dawvid himself should have been to seek of
all times at the very time that the "possessions" which he
had so laboriously "laid out" were a-letting; and how, above
all things, Gushetneuk could have been let to any friend of
Johnny Gibb — a man of such unconstitutional opinions. Peter,
junior, was not less sulky than his wont in addressing his
father: so he merely said —
"Humph! ye was near as ill's him yersel'."
"Ou na, Peter, man, I never votit against the laird," said
Peter Birse, senior.
"Hoot, that's lang syne; an' aw 'm seer ye jist conter't
'im as muckle aboot the kirk, though ye didna mak' oot to be
pitten on for a Free Kirk el'yer."
"Weel, Peter, it was maybe as lucky for 's a' 't yer mither
didna get 'er nain gate there. It's cost me mony an 'oor's
sleep that wark."
"Ye'll needa get a pairt till's some wye at ony rate," said
Peter Birse, junior.
"A pairt? Ye ken ye'll get oor nain pairt in coorse; but
it wud 'a made a hantle better a place gin Dawvid's plan hed
been carrie't oot — There wud 'a been richt scouth for the sax
shift gin we hed hed a swype across a' the braes, an' doon to
the burn side yon'er."
"That's nae fat I'm speakin' aboot ony wye."
"Ou, weel, ye ken, your name 'll be in'o the neist tack o'
Clinkstyle; an' that's only four year come the time."
"Ye needna think that I'll wyte the half o' that time,"
replied the amiable Peter, junior.
Peter Birse, senior, looked at his son enquiringly. He
would have liked to get at the young man's mind with a little
more of definiteness, but was far from clear about the proper
method of reaching that end. The thought, however, occurred
to him that if Johnny Gibb himself was to leave
Gushetneuk, "the lassie," Mary Howie, Peter's future wife,
would have to leave it too, and naturally enough Peter's
chivalrous nature might lead him to desire that his marriage
and settlement in life should be then, so that Mary might be
saved the hardship of going to the "frem't," which had been
hinted at in a quarter not unknown to Peter, as a possibility.
Peter Birse, senior, regarded this conception of his brain as
an unusually happy inspiration; and he answered with
spirit —
"Weel, weel, Patie, man, we'll see fat yer mither says;
only I wud not like to be chaumer't up in a toon. — Eh, man —
fa'll that be gyaun aboot wi' Gushets there at the back faul'ies?"
and Peter Birse, senior, put his hand over his brow to get a
better view of three figures which were discernible in one of
Johnny Gibb's fields.
"Fa cud ken fowk mair nor half a mile awa'?" inquired
Peter Birse, junior.
"Weel, but I'll waager something it's that mannie fae
Marnoch — ane o' them — wud he hae onything adee wi' the
takin' o' the place?"
"Lickly aneuch. Fat ither wud he be wuntin here, trailin'
a' the road fae that."
"Fa cud that tither ane be ava?" said Peter Birse, senior,
stopping to fix his eyes as steadily as possible on the objects
of his scrutiny. In this his example was followed by Peter
Birse, junior, who incontinently exclaimed, with a sort of
sneer, "Hah! it's Willy M'Aul, the souter's sin. He's doon
here eenoo, au' preten's till hae leern't fairmin at some o'
that muckle places 't he 's been sairin aboot."
"An' wud this new man raelly be takin' 's advice b' wye
o'?" queried Peter Birse, senior.
The father and son passed on, till Clinkstyle was full in
view, when the former suggested —
"Nyod, Peter, ye mith jist gae in aboot, an' tell yer mither
siclike speed's we've come; an' aw'll gae roon an' see Hairry
Muggart, peer stock; he's lickly heard some sleumin o' fa it
is that has raelly gotten Gushetneuk — tell 'er 't aw'll be hame
in nae time."
"There is no reason to doubt that Peter Birse, senior,
looked upon this as a happy mode, so far as he was concerned,
of getting the news broken to Mrs. Birse.
When Peter Birse, junior, had reached home, he was met
at the door by his mamma, who was in the mood described
as "vokie."
"Weel, Newtoon," exclaimed Mrs. Birse, with affable
jocularity, "fat's the rent o' yer fairm, no?"
"Stoit, mither; fat needs ye aye gae on that gate!"
answered Peter Birse, junior, with some emphasis.
"Noo, noo, Patie that winna dee to be so short i' the trot.
Gin ance ye war marriet, an' hed a muckle chairge o' yer
heid, as ye'll seen hae, ye'll need 'a leern to hae mair patience
wi' fowk."
"Weel, aw hinna gotten Gushetneuk, ony wye."
"Hinna gotten 't! Fat d' ye mean?"
"It's ta'en till some freen o' Gushets's nain."
"Freen o' Gushets's nain! Fat wye o' the face o' the
wardle's earth's that? Did yer fader speak in a discreet
menner till Sir Seemon?"
"Hie didna say hardly naething ava."
"Tchuck-tchuck! Was ever an 'oman tried this gate? I
mitha socht till arreenge things an' expeck that he wudna ca't
a' to the gowf i' the hin'er en'? Far is 'e?"
Peter Birse, junior, had just answered this question, and
informed his mother of the position Hairry Muggart stood in,
when that gentleman and Mr. Birse, senior, passed the window
outside. As they came in, Peter Birse, junior, stalked away
out to attend to his "beasts," merely remarking to Hairry
Muggart, "Weel, Hairrv, aw b'lieve ye're not o' the craftie."
A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind, 'tis said; and
it so happened that while Peter Birse, senior, was on his way
to seek out Hairry Muggart for the purpose of mutual condolence,
Hairry was pursuing his way to Clinkstyle with the
like object in view; and so they had met midway.
"Come awa', Maister Muggart, aw'm vera glaid to see you
— foo 's yer goodwife the nicht?" said Mrs. Birse.
"Thank ye, muckle aboot the ordinar'," said Hairry.
"Isna this fine apen weather ?"
"Raelly, it is so."
"It lats fowk get the young beasts keepit thereoot; an' that's
an unco haenin o' the strae at the beginnin' o' the sizzon." After
a pause, during which Hairry sat in a pensive attitude with
his hands on his knees, Mrs. Birse went on in a calm and
cheerful tone, "Ay; an' fat 's the news aboot your gate en', no?"
"Nae muckle 't 's gweed," said Hairry. "There's some o' 's
gettin' the bag, aw b'lieve."
"Eh!" exclaimed Mrs. Birse, "an' wusnin Patie jist tellin'
me something that he hed heard about that — aw never was
mair vex't i' my life nor to hear 't ye was to be oot o' yer
"We've a' been — sair't oot o' the same caup — " Peter Birse
was about to say, in a half dolorous tone; but Mrs. Birse, by
a glance which Peter sufficiently comprehended, checked the
sentence, and herself went on —
"Raelly, Maister Muggart, it's a heemlin thing to think
fat wye fowk sud be pitten upon in sic a menner. There was
that bodie Hadden trailin here ilka ither nicht aboot the
time 't they war plannin' oot the grun; an' he never haltit till
he sud say that we wud be willin' to tak' tee Gushetneuk till
oor place. Aw b'lieve I begood funnin' wi' 'im about it mysel'
first — fowk wud needa tak' care o' the frivolousest word that
they speak to the like o' 'im, weel-a-wat. Aweel, this fares on,
till Dawvid sud come here an' tell them that Sir Seemon hed
sattl't to gi'e them 't; an' disna they gae up to the hoose the
day; but my lad 's awa' fae hame, an' nae a cheep aboot
"Weel," said Hairry, "I never thocht Dawvid Hadden a
man o' prenciple, but aw did not expeck this o' 'im."
"Ah, weel," replied the goodwife, "it was only their
traivel. Forbid 't it sud be said that we socht to pit ony ane
oot o' their pairt."
"But Gushets is lea'in' 't ony wye," said Peter Birse,
"Ay," added Hairry, "that 's the keerious pairt o' 't. Depen'
ye upon 't there's been mair joukry-pawkry wi' Dawyid nor
ye 're awaar o'."
"An' fa 's gettin' 't syne?" asked the goodwife.
"Weel," answered Hairry, "some says it'll be that mannie
't 's been wi' them fae Marnoch. I cudna say."
"Fat ither," said Mrs. Birse, with a complacent nod. "Ah,
weel, weel, I'll hae a craw to pluck wi' Maister Hadden for
this, noo. Trystin' fowk to tak's places to fawvour him, an'
syne lea'in' them wuntin hae or haud again." She said this
with a forced laugh; and then recollecting the impropriety of
merriment in Hairry's depressed circumstances, she continued,
"But aw 'm richt sorry, Hairry, man, to think aboot sic a
gweed neebour 's yersel' bein' pitten aboot — fa's been hertless
aneuch to tak' your craft owre yer heid?"
"Some ane 't the minaister recommen'it, we wus taul,"
blurted out Peter Birse, senior, without reflecting on the implications
of the remark.
"Ou ay!" said Mrs. Birse, in an impressive tone. "This
wordle has an unco haud faur there's an Erastian speerit."
Neither Hairry nor Peter Birse, senior, had any observation
to offer on this statement of a principle; and the interview
ended with little beyond a general condemnation of
Dawvid Hadden, whose conduct it was unanimously agreed
called loudly for explanation.
Peter Birse, junior, had gone away in the gloamin to discuss
the question with his old friend the red-haired orra man,
at this time in service at Mains of Yawal; and his doubts
about the new tenant of Gushetneuk were solved forthwith.
"Gosh-be-here, man," said the red-haired orra man, "Tam
Meerison taul huz the streen that it was ta'en to the chap
M'Aul — ye mitha been seer he wasna there for naething."
"Dozen 't, min, I never thocht o' that," said Peter Birse,
junior. "Fat ither but that's fesh'n 'im here. But the like
o' 'im 'll never be able to pay the inveetor forbye to pit a
cover upo' the place."
DAWVID HADDEN — Fat's come o' 'im said ye? Ou,
didna ye hear that Dawvid's been a perfect laimiter
wi' a sair fit, sin' ever the day that the tacks wus settin'."
It was Meg Raffan who spoke. She had gone across to
the Kirktown to do some needful business at the shop, and
was in conversation with Sandy Peterkin, who had asked how
it came to pass that Dawvid, who was wont to be a frequent
caller, had not been seen there for over a week.
"That's nae sae gweed," said Sandy. "Fat's come owre's
fit; naething sairious. I houp?"
"Dear only kens," answered Meg; "aw sudna won'er nor
it'll be a fit till 'im a 's days!"
"Hoot, fye!"
"Ou ay!'" answered the waggish henwife. "But fat better
cud ye expeck. Fat's this that you Free Kirk fowk's been
deem till 'im, aifter he hed ye a' pitten oot o' the Ian'?"
"Weel," said Sandy, "he ettl't sair to get some o' 's awa'.
But aw'm seer I wuss 'im weel."
"The main credit to ye, Sandy, man. But, weel-a-wat, it
sair't 'im richt, puchill, upsettin' smatchet, 't things sud gae
the gate 't they've gane."
"Was 't a hurt; or fat?"
"Augh! A hurt or than no! Gin a' bools hed row't richt
wi' 'im we wud 'a never heard a word o' a' this scronach aboot
it strain't queet, an him nae able to gae fae hame."
"We wus missin' 'im, ye see; he af'en calls for the letters,
fan the dog-dirder chappie's occupiet," said Sandy Peterkin.
"Ay, ay; but ye see gin he cam' this lenth he beed 'a be
thocht unco saucy gin he didna ca' on 's freen's at Clinkstyle
i' the byegaein," said Meg, with a cackling laugh. "An' Mrs.
Birse mithna be jist sae couthy eenoo's gin Dawvid 's gryte
promises hed come true, an' a' ither thing gane richt wi' 'er,
peer 'oman. The best fun wi' Dawvid was wi' Sir Simon
'imsel' the tither day. He sees Dawvid comin' for's orders,
clenchin awa' wi' a bit staffie in 's han'. Sir Simon was o' the
Greens at the side o' the braid walk — an' says he, 'What's the
matter now, Hadden?' says he. 'Ou, sir,' says Dawvid, 'I've
strained my quiyte.' 'Your what?' says Sir Simon. 'One o'
my cootes,' says Dawvid, turnin' up the side o' 's fit. 'Oh,'
says Sir Simon. 'sprained your ankle — How did that come
about ?' 'Weel, sir,' says Dawvid, 'I cudna richtly tell; it
was the day 't aw was doon throu', it cam' o' me a' at ance —
jist a kin' o' income.' 'I wanted to send you some errands,
but I must get some one else — you'll not be able to go.' 'I
mith manage, keep aff o' braes an' kittle road, siclike's owre
by the Kirktoon,' says Dawvid, an' fan my lad kent that it was
to the Broch, disna he set oot like a five-year-aul': nae word
o' the strain't queet syne, fan he cud win awa' doon an' get a
boose wi' some o' 's cronies."
It was the temporary absence of Jock Will himself from
the shop, and the fact that Meg was being served by the
'prentice, aided by Sandy Peterkin, that had given her full
scope for indulging in all this pleasant gossip.
"Is that a' noo ?" asked Sandy, in the usual business way.
"Weel, I dinna min' upo' naething mair, but my puckle
preens, an' a stan' o' wheelin' weer; the lang evenin's 's
drawin' on noo, an' it 's tiresome nae to hae a bit shank to
tak' i' yer han' files. An' I've a pair or twa o' stoot moggans
't aw think'll be worth fittin."
Meg got her "preens" gratis, and closed a bargain about
the "stan' o' wires" accordingly. This concluded her purchases,
but she was not yet quite spent of talk, and as no
other customer had happened to come in, she held the good-natured
Sandy Peterkin a little longer with her tongue.
"Ay," said Meg, "leanin'" herself leisurely "doon" on a
seat by the side of the counter, "an' so ye'II be haein' nae
ordinar' o' mairriages amo' ye in a han'-clap."
"Aw dinna ken," said Sandy Peterkin, blandly.
"Dinna ken! Hoot, fye. Ye are a peer set, you an' the
merchan' baith. Fat sud 'a gar't him lat the chappie M'Aul
rin awa' wi' Mrs. Gibb's lassie. Aw 'm seer there 's nae a
blyther, better-luikin lass i' the pairis.'
"I'm weel seer o' that, Mistress Raffan; an' gin she get
Willy M'Aul she'll get a richt clever, weel-deein lad, an' a
"Ou, aw dinna misdoot that; an' he'll get a brow doonsit
at Gushetneuk — lickly Maister Gibb 'II be lea'in' 't an'
biggin' a bit cottage till himsel' about the Broch, or siclike.
But wudna 't 'a been unco handy for Johnny Wull to get her,
an' the bit clossach that 'll come fan 'er aunt wears awa'?"
"It was raither thocht that young Peter Birse was to get
Mary, wasnit?" said Sandy in his own simple way.
"Na, Sandy Peterkin, man," exclaimed Meg Raffan, lifting
both her hands, "an' that's a' that ye ken aboot it! We
expeck to get the news fan we come to the merchan's chop;
ye mith lea' 't to the like o' me to be speerin aboot Peter
Birse — he's wun in till a bonny snorl, aw doot, peer stock."
"Hoot awa'; his fowk 'll be vex't aboot that."
"Weel, ye may jist say that, Sandy. His mither hed inveetit
me owre bye to get the news, the gloamin aifter a' the
places wus set. She 's a byous aul' acquantance o' mine, ye
see; an' awat I've been aye vera fawvourable till 'er, an' never
loot on aboot 'er fools, though she 's sent them, owre an' owre
again, half-nyaukit, stairv't creaturs, 't ye wudna fin' i' yer
han', forbye to sen' them in to Tibbie, the kyeuk, for the table.
Aweel, nae wottin o' fat hed been brewin', though I was weel
awaar that Dawvid hed gi'en them a' a begeck, I steps my
wa's up by to Clinkstyle. The goodman 'imsel' was pirlin
aboot the byre doors wi' a bit graipie in 's han', an' 's breeks
row't up, an' cryin' at the men. He was unco dry like, fan I
leet at im in a mainner, nae meanin' nae ill, ye ken, 'Na,
Clinkies, ye've seerly younger fowk,' says I, 'to luik aifter the
beasts — fat needs ye be aye hingin i' the heid o' things?'
Wi' that he mum'l't oot something aboot fowk makin' themsel's
eesefu' as lang's they not the bit an' the dud. Only he
was aye a sauchen, saurless breet; an' I thocht little o' that,
but gaed awa' into the hoose, an' meets hersel' at the vera
door. 'Weel, Mistress Raffan,' says she, 'I'm glaid to see
ye; na, but foo the ouks rins by, I didna think that it was
near the time o' gi'ein' in the fools; ye'll be haein' mair company
wi' the laird bein' at hame.' 'Deed no, Mistress Birse,'
says I, 'it's nae upo' that precunnance 't I cam' here the
nicht, at ony rate; I 'm nae sae dottl't 's that, though some
fowk's memories is nae vera gweed.' 'Keep me, Marget,'
quo' she, 'fat am aw speakin' aboot, my heid's in a creel,
seerly; come awa' in an' rest ye;' an' wi' that she tak's me
awa' ben to their hole o' a parlour; they've gotten a seconthan'
rickle o' a piano in o' 't noo for Miss Birse, an' twa three
bits o' bulks laid doon here an' there. The dother was there
'ersel', a vera proper Miss, nae doot. 'Will ye take a seat,
please?' says she, an' wi' that her mither says, "Liza, wud ye,
gae to the kitchie an' tell Eppie' — that wud be the servan'
lass, nae doot — 'to pit in jist a jimp full o' the timmer ladle o'
yesterday's mornin's milk an' a starn meal amo' the kail to
the men's sipper — I canna win ben eenoo.' Wi' a' this, no,
I notices brawly that the quine hed been greetin. An' thinks
I, 'For as sharp's ye are, ye hinna hodd'n that, no.' Aweel,
Mrs. Birse begood wi' a fraise aboot foo aw hed been keepin',
an' this an' that, sittin' as stiff's a clockin hen upon a dizzen
o' turkey's eggs. But brawly kent I that a' this was but a
scoug to keep some ither thing oot o' sicht. Aw cudna think
that the lossin' o' Gushetneuk was the occasion o' 't a', but she
was nae main like fat she hed been afore nor caul' sowens is
like het aleberry. Hooever, thinks I, 'Madam, I 'se be at the
boddom o' this, no.' I sits awa' a fyou minutes, nae to luik
oonceevil like for a' this — I hed lows't the strings o' my mutch
an' ta'en the preen oot o' my shawl. 'Ye're het,' says she.
Deed awat I am that,' says I, 'it's jist a feerious fortiggin
road atween oor place an' this;' but, wud ye believe 't, Sandy
Peterkin, an' 't hedna been 't aw socht a drink o' water, I wud
'a gaen oot o' that house onbeen bidden kiss a caup! 'Eh,'
says she, 'aw'm richt sorry 't oor ale is not drinkable, it's jist
new aff o' the barm.' 'Ou, weel, Mistress Birse,' says I,
'we're nae ill aff wi' a drap clean water. I've kent ither fowk
ere noo 't hedna mony choises.' Wi' that she gya 'er heid a
bit cast. 'We're nae jist come to that yet, no,' quo' she; an'
out wi' twa three o' that bits o' braid-boddom't bottlies fae the
aumry — their sideboard, nae less — an' pooers a drap in'o a
wee shall o' a glessie. 'This is a vera nice cordial, recommen'it
by Maister Pettiphog, that's a streck teetotaller an' a
byous gweed man,' says she. Aweel aw cudna but drink it for
ceevility's sake — a jilp o' fushionless, tasteless trash; it is not
gweed for a body's inside, they may say fat they like aboot it.
Hooever, there wasna as muckle's dee naebody gryte skaith;
an I tribbletna them wi' lang o' my company, aw can tell ye."
Meg Raffan had gone on all this while with only a barely
audible ejaculation now and again from Sandy, who on the
whole, felt rather embarrassed at being made the depository of
her narrative, and flitted backward and forward in the short
space between his desk and the counter; while the apprentice,
with his elbows on the counter, his cheeks and chin resting
on the palms of his hands, and his check-sleeved forearms
forming a support between, hung rather than stood, a fixed
and interested auditor. After a pause Meg proceeded —
"Weel, weel, I gat it a' gin four-and-twenty 'oors, no."
"Raelly," said Sandy Peterkin, vaguely.
"She's idolees't that faimily o' hers aneuch to fesh a jeedgment
o' them. Aw 'm seer for a file back it was aye 'oor
Patie's' this, an' 'oor Patie's' that, till it wud 'a scunner't a
tyke; but she'll maybe hae less to braig aboot Patie for the
neist towmon."
"Has Patie deen ony ill," queried Sandy.
"Ou, na na; naething but fat was to be expeckit o' 'im.
He's been aye a nasty lowlif't kin' o' a slype, wi' a' 's fader's
gawketness, an' a gey gweed share o' 's mither's greed. Ye've
heard, nae doot, that a creatur o' a deemie that was wi' them
twa three year syne hed a bairn till 'im?"
"Eh, but it seerly wasna true!" exclaimed Sandy. "It
wasna heard o' hardly."
"True! 'Wa' wi' ye. Gin 't hed been a peer servan' lad,
a' the pairis wud 'a kept o' 't in an ouk's time. That's the
wye't your walthy fairmers all' fairmer's sins keeps their bastards
oot o' sicht — sen' the mithers o' them awa' oot o' the
pairt; an' you that's el'yers never sees their faces i' the session:
till aifter-hin, fan they've marriet i' their nain set, an'
grow douce el'yers themsel's, like aneuch."
Sandy Peterkin could not stand this, and protested eloquently
against the Free Kirk being chargeable with any such
laxity of discipline.
"Ah weel, we'll see," said Meg Raffan. "Hooever, Mrs.
Birse's Patie 's throu' 't again. The same deemie 's i' the
faimily wye till 'im ance mair. Patie, it wud appear, made
oot to keep it a' quate, expeckin' to get Gushetneuk, an' pit's
fader an' mither there to lat 'im mairry the creatur. Fan
that gaed owre them, he grew as sulky's a wil' bear; the
pooder was not immedantly; an' Patie bann't 's sister fat was
her bisness; the creator o' a deemie has an unco poo'er owre
'im, it seems, an' they're to be marriet at the term."
"An' fat's the lassie's fowk?" asked Sandy.
"Weel, but I canna tell ye that," answered Meg; "only
aw ken that the aul' cadger mannie that ees't to ca' fish up this
gate fae Collieston, wi' a grey horsie an' a cover't cairtie was 'er
gran'fader, an' fuish 'er up feckly. So ye may guess that the
gentry o' Clinkstyle winna be jist owre prood o' their new
That any formal assurance should be necessary to certify
the accuracy of the intelligence conveyed to Sandy Peterkin
by Meg Raffan is not once to be thought of. Meg had all
incisive and unerring instinct in such matters. Where, or
how, she obtained the information which formed the subject
matter of her gossip it would often have been in vain to inquire;
but on this you might rely that, in matters of domestic
history in the neighbourhood, and particularly if the subject
approached the borders of scandal, Meg was certain to be informed;
and, moreover, if you were pleased to accept a statement
of the case in hand more Raffanico you obtained a
narrative with such collateral references as carried its authenticity
home to the weakest capacity. Poor Sandy Peterkin
was at a loss what to think about it. He doubted whether he
should have allowed Meg to go on, and after she had left the
shop he began to wonder whether it was favourable to the
morals of Jock Will's apprentice that he had been allowed to
stand by and hear Meg gossiping away as she had done.
But it was past and gone now; the apprentice did not seem,
personally, to have either compunctions or apprehensions on
the subject; and he certainly failed to show the like interest
in the region of polemics into which Sandy, with a view to
fortify his mind, endeavoured incontinently to lead him by an
easy transition.
Sandy Peterkin took the subject of the two marriages to
avizandum. In three days after it was noised abroad in the
general community of Pyketillim that Willy M'Aul, the son
of the humble souter, was to marry Mary Howie, and be
farmer of Gushetneuk, vice Johnny Gibb; as also that Peter
Birse, junior, farmer's son, Clinkstyle, was to be married to
the grand-daughter of a fish cadger, and that the aid of Mr.
Pettiphog, the celebrated lawyer, had been invoked to get a
settlement legally made, whereby the said Peter Birse, junior,
would be deprived of his right as heir of the tack of Clinkstyle,
and sent adrift to somewhere undetermined, to follow fortune
on his own account, with his low-cast wife.
IT was a natural enough result of the maternal policy
adopted in his case that Peter Birse, junior, should,
in a sort of reckless "wudden dream," determine that his
marriage should not pass over otherwise than in the form of
a regular out-and-out demonstration. The news fell on Mrs.
Birse with a shock that made her hardy frame vibrate from
head to heel. She had hoped that it might be smuggled
through in a way that would hardly admit of its attaining the
dimensions of a public event at all. But to be told that Peter
and his bride had actually invited a company of fully thirty
persons, consisting chiefly of farm servants, male and female,
and residents in the Kirktown, whose gentility was more than
questionable; and that, of all places in the world, the marriage,
was to come off at the house of Samuel Pikshule, the bellman
of Pyketillim, was more than the heart-broken mother could
well be expected to bear up under.
Peter was deaf to all entreaty, however. In the matter of
the recent settlement, forced on by his mother, he had shown
himself a man of safe instincts, inasmuch as, despite the
"legal acumen" of Mr. Pettiphog, he had stubbornly refused
to sign a renunciation of the lease of Clinkstyle until he had
got formally awarded to him what he considered a sufficient
equivalent in the shape of a good round sum of money.
With the capital thus provided in store, Peter felt as independent
and confident as a man would naturally do in the circumstances,
his purpose being, as his father phrased it, "to lay
moyen for a placie come time; an' gin naething dinna turn
up ere simmer, tak' a girse parkie or twa, an' trock aboot amo'
nowte beasts." And as the marriage festivities were frowned
down and ignored at Clinkstyle, what more appropriate than
that they should receive their legitimate development under
the hospitable roof of Samie Pikshule, who had been discovered
to be a remote relative of the bride, and had accordingly
readily given her a sheltering bield when he heard of
her excellent prospects.
In carrying out his arrangements, Peter Birse, junior, went
to work in quite a business-like style. True, he was a little
perplexed as to form; but in this Samuel Pikshule was able
to "post him up" in a very satisfactory measure; and Peter
had called on Tam Meerison, in a friendly way, with a "Hoot,
min, ye've gaen throu' 't a' yersel' nae lang syne; an' you an'
Jinse maun come an' help's to keep up the spree." The invitation
was not to be resisted, and the mole-catcher was
pressed into the service, it being left to him and the red-haired
orra man, who has been mentioned as an old friend of
Peter's, to settle who should be "best," and who "warst"
young man; and they "drew cuts," whereby it was decided
that the mole-catcher was not to have the higher post of
honour. Peter had gone to Jonathan Tawse with his best
young man on the "buikin nicht," and got the publication of
banns duly arranged. Jonathan, to encourage him, had remarked,
"Ye'll better come an' get yersel's session't the
Sunday aifter the mairriage." Peter did not seem to see the
propriety of this, and demurred, whereat the dominie went on
to say, "Ah-wa, man, it winna hin'er ye lang. Fan ance
fowk 's pitten their necks aneth the yoke thegither, fat 's the
eese o' a lang say-awa'. I wat I'm muckle o' aul' Mr. Keith's
wye o' thinkin'. Mony was the pair that cam' up to him to
be rebukit that he made man an' wife afore they wan owre
the kirk door again, though they had nae mair thocht o'
mairryin fan they cam' there nor I hae o' gaen to Botany Bay
the morn. She'll be an uncommon suitable wife, an' yer
faimily 'll be weel at the road shortly, Peter, man."
The bridegroom's party mainly assembled at Hairry
Muggart's. Clinkstyle was forbidden; yet Hairry lent the
occasion his countenance on the calculation that Mrs. Birse
would in due course soften down, and it would then be a
pleasing recollection to have befriended Peter in his need.
Peter Birse, senior, had been absolutely forbidden to attend
the marriage; but Rob, who had so recently become as it
were heir-apparent, and who had been taking counsel with
the red-haired orra man, sadly to the disgust of Mrs. and Miss
Birse, was not only determined to attend the marriage, but
highly up in spirits at the thought of it. And lucky it was
that this proved to be the case. For, as it turned out, the
unsophisticated mole-catcher had failed altogether to realise
the extent of the responsibilities laid upon him as "warst
young man." When the red-haired orra man called him
quietly aside at the end of Hairry's peat-stack to arrange for
the proper performance of their duties, it was found that
Molie had made no provision for doing anything beyond the
part of a simple layman on the occasion.
"Bleezes, min," exclaimed the red-haired orra man,
"wasnin ye never at a mairriage i' yer life? Nae fusky, nor
a pistill nedderin!"
The red-haired orra man hitched half-way round and exhibited
the necks of a couple of quart bottles; one peeping
from under the ample flap of each of his goodly coat pouches;
and he dragged from the interior of the same garment a formidable
flintlock horse pistol, considerably the worse for
wear, which he not quite accurately designated his "holster."
The mole-catcher, whose sole attention had been given to the
decoration of his own person, and who did not feel quite
at ease in his high shirt neck and long hat, looked foolish,
and said: —
"But I never cud sheet neen ony wye."
"Buff an' nonsense, min! Aw say, Rob!" shouted the
red-haired orra man, stretching forward, and addressing Rob
Birse round the corner of the peat-stack, "man, ye 'll needa
gi'e Molie yon bottle 't I gied you to cairry; he hisna fesh'n a
drap wi' 'im."
Rob did not seem quite willing to comply with this suggestion;
and the mole-catcher by a happy thought at once
extricated them from all difficulty.
"Mithna he dee 't 'imsel'?"
"Ay wull aw," said Rob, brightening up and fumbling in
his pocket to show that he was not behind in the matter of
"Dozen 't; it lea'es us terrible bare o' the stuff," said the
best young man.
Now the red-haired orra man had given Rob the third
bottle to carry simply as a reserve for him, seeing he had not
three available pouches. So the thought was a natural one.
But he was a man of prompt action.
"Weel, weel, we canna better dee, aw suppose. Come on,
Rob;" and away they went full swing, leaving the mole-catcher
alone at the "stack mou'."
Ten minutes after, and the party was marshalled, Peter
Birse, junior, being consigned pro tem. to the care of a couple
of sturdy bride's-maids, set out in the "loudest" rustic fashion.
"Noo, heelie, till we wun awa' twa-three rig lenths at ony
rate," said the red-haired orra man. And he and Rob set off
in the character of "Sen's" to Samie Pikshule's, duly to inquire
if there was a bride there. "Are ye load?" queried the
orra man. "We needna pit in primin' till we hear some o' them
sheetin." They were right opposite Clinkstyle at the moment,
and just heaving in sight of Mains of Yawal. Mains's "boys"
had determined to give them a regular fusillade, and the
words had scarcely escaped the red-haired orra man's lips
when a faint crack was heard in that direction. The orra
man stopped, pulled the powder horn from his breek pouch,
seized the cork in his teeth, primed his "holster," and handed
the horn to Rob, with a nod to follow his example quickly.
Then they fired; then they marched again, reloading as they
"Sang, we winna lat them far awa' wi' 't," said the red-haired
orra man, and Rob, with a loud laugh, declared it was
Had they been in the interior of the parlour at Clinkstyle
at that moment, they would have heard these words faintly
uttered —
"Ah, 'Liza, 'Liza, that sheetin will be the deeth o'
me. Mony's the trial 't we maun endure fan we're i' the
path o' duty. Maister MacCassock never spak' a truer
"My certie, hiv aw tint my gless!" exclaimed the red-haired
orra man. "Na, na; it's here i' my oxter pouch.
Tak' care an' nae brak yours; we're seer to meet somebody
in a han'-clap; an' 't wud never dee nae to be ready wi' the
leems for nor first fit. An' some o' Mains's boys 's sure to be
within cry."
The orra man was perfectly right in his forecast; for they
had not gone over a hundred yards farther, when, turning a
corner, whom should they encounter but the excellent henwife,
proceeding homeward from the Kirktown.
"Hilloa, Meg!" roared the red-haired orra man. "Heth,
that's capital. Fa wud 'a thocht it! Oh, Meg, Meg, aw
thocht you an' me wud mak' something o' 't aye."
"'Serve me — the 'Sen's'!" exclaimed Meg, lifting her
hands very high.
"Haud my holster here noo, Rob," said the best young
man, in a thoroughly business key. He pulled out one of
his bottles; then drew the glass from the recesses of his oxter
pouch, and after shaking out the debris of dust and "caff"
that had lodged therein, and blowing into the interior to insure
its being perfectly clean, poured out till the whisky ran
over the edge and over his fingers.
Meg wished them "muckle joy," primly kissed the glass,
and offered it back.
"Oot wi' 't," shouted both the "Sen's."
"Eh, my laddies; it wud gar me tine my feet a'thegither
— I wud seen be o' my braid back amo' the gutters."
"Feint a fears o' ye," said the red-haired orra man.
"Wheep it oot; yer garrin huz loss time."
"Weel, aw'm seer I wuss ye a' weel," said Meg, as she
demurely returned the glass to her lips and took it empty
"See, I kent ye wudna thraw yer face at it," said our
energetic friend.
Then they made Meg promise, as "first fit," to turn and
walk back a space when she met the marriage party, which
Meg assured them she would do. The "Sen's" hurried on;
and after the next volley they made a detour through a bit of
"red lan'" to meet Mains of Yawal's men half-way, and give
them their dram. The orra man did not do things by halves,
and not a single wayfarer that they met but had the hospitalities
of the bottle thrust on him or her; and in very few
instances would less than emptying the glass, as in Meg
Raffan's case, suffice. No wonder if the orra man should say,
"We'll need 'a see an' get a drap mair at the Kir'ton; aw
never was naarer nicket i' my life nor wi' that creatur, Molie.
It disna maitter, we're a hantle better wuntin 'im."
And thus they went on to Samie Pikshule's.
Meg Raffan pursued her onward way, passing the marriage
party with many hilarious exclamations on both sides.
"Na, Hairry, but ye are a feel aul' breet," said Meg to our
friend the wright, who was bringing up the rear in his own
ponderous style, with a blooming young damsel by his side.
"Aw thocht your daft days wus deen as weel 's mine. Ye've
leeft Mistress Muggart at hame, no. But bide ye still, gin I
dinna tell 'er fat wye ye cairry on fan ye win awa' oot aboot
amo' the young lasses!"
In point of fact, Meg had already made up her mind to be
across next night, and have a "hyse" with Hairry on the subject
generally, when she would, without the least trouble, get
the full details of the wedding at first hand.
"OU ay, Hairry, man! This is a bonny wye o' gyaun on!
Dinna ye gar me troo 't ye wasna dancin' the heilan'
walloch the streen. Fa wud 'a thocht 't ye wud 'a been needin'
a file o' an aul' day to rest yer banes aifter the mairriage?"
Such was the form of salutation adopted by Meg Raffan
as she entered the dwelling of Hairry Muggart early in the
afternoon of the day after Patie's wedding, and found Hairry
stretched at full length on the deece.
"Deed, an' ye may jist say 't, Hennie," answered Hairry
Muggart's wife. "Come awa' ben an' lean ye doon. Fat time,
think ye, came he hame, noo?"
"Weel, but it's a lang road atween this an' the Broch, min'
ye," said Hairry. "An' ye cudna expeck fowk hame fae a
mairriage afore it war weel gloam't."
"Weel gloam't!" exclaimed Mrs. Muggart. "I 'se jist
haud my tongue, than. Better to ye speak o' grey daylicht i'
the mornin'."
"Hoot, fye!" answered Hairry. "The souter's lamp
wasna oot at Smiddyward fan I cam' in'o sicht o' 't fae the
toll road."
"Ou, weel-a-wat, ye've deen won'erfu', Hairry," said the
henwife. "Ye hed been hame ere cock-craw at ony rate.
An' nae doot it wud be throu' the aifterneen afore ye gat
them made siccar an' wan awa' fae the Kir'ton."
"Ay, an' dennerin an' ae thing or ither."
"Hoot, noo; aw mith 'a min'et upo' that. An' coorse the
like o' young Peter Birse wudna pit's fowk aff wi' naething
shabby, Hed they a set denner, said ye?"
"Weel, an they hedna, I 'se haud my tongue. Aw b'lieve
Samie's wife was fell sweir to fash wi' the kyeukin o' 't. Jist
fan they war i' the deid thraw aboot it the tither day, I chanc't
to luik in. 'Weel, I'se pit it to you, Hairry,' says she. 'Fan
Samie an' me wus mairriet there was a byowtifu' brakfist set
doon — sax-an'-therty blue-lippet plates (as mony plates as
mony fowk) nately full't o' milk pottage wi' a braw dossie o'
gweed broon sugar i' the middle o' ilka dish, an' as protty
horn speens as ever Caird Young turn't oot o' 's caums lyin'
aside the plates, ready for the fowk to fa' tee. Eh, but it was
a bonny sicht; I min' 't as weel's gin it hed been fernyear. An'
the denner! fan my lucky deddy fell't a hielan' sheep, an' ilka
ane o' the bucks cam' there wi' 's knife in 's pouch to cut an'
ha'ver the roast an' boil't, an' han' 't roun' amo' the pairty. He
was a walthy up-throu' fairmer, but fat need the like o' that
young loon gae sic lenths?' says she. 'Ou, never ye min',
Mrs. Pikshule,' says I, 'gin there be a sheep a-gyaun, it'll be
hard gin ye dinna get a shank o' 't — It'll only be the borrowin'
o' a muckle kail pot to gae o' the tither en' o' yer rantletree.'"
"Na, but there wud be a richt denner — Nelly Pikshule
wasna far wrang, it wudna be easy gettin' knives an' forks for
sic a multiteed."
"N— , weel, ye see, puckles o' the young fowk wudna kent
sair foo to mak' eese o' them, though they hed hed them.
Samie 'imsel' cuttit feckly, bit aifter bit, on a muckle ashet,
wi' 's fir gullie,'t I pat an edge on till 'im for the vera purpose;
ithers o' 's han't it roun'; an' they cam' a braw speed,
weel-a-wat, twa three o' them files at the same plate, an' feint
a flee but their fingers — a tatie i' the tae han', an' something
to kitchie 't wi' i' the tither."
"Eh, wasnin't a pity that the bridegreem's mither an' 's
sister wusna there to see the enterteenment," said Meg, rather
wickedly. "Weel, ye wud start for the Broch syne?"
"Aifter we hed gotten a dram; an' wuss't them luck. But
jist as we wus settin' to the road, sic a reerie 's gat up ye heard
never i' yer born days! Aw'm seer an there was ane sheetin'
there was a score — wi' pistills an' guns o' a kin kin'. The
young men hed been oot gi'ein drops o' drams; an' they hed
their pistills, an' severals forbye; an' the tae side was sheetin,
an' the tither sheetin back upo' them, till it was for a' the
earth like a vera battle; an' syne they begood fungin' an'
throwin' aul' sheen, ding dang, like a shoo'er o' hailstanes."
"Na, sirs; but ye hed been merry. Sic a pity that ye
hedna meesic. Gin ye hed hed Piper Huljets at the heid o'
ye, ye wud 'a been fairly in order."
"Hoot, Meg; fat are ye speakin' aboot? Isna Samie Pikshule
'imsel' jist a prencipal han' at the pipes fan he likes?
Aweel, it was areeng't that Samie sud ride upon's bit grey
shaltie, an' play the pipes a' the road, a wee bittie afore — he's
ill at gyaun. ye ken, an' eeswally rides upon a bit timmer kin' o' a
saiddlie wi' an aul' saick in aneth't. But aul' an' crazy though
the beastie be, I'se asseer ye it was aweers o' foalin' Samie i'
the gutter, pipes an' a', fan a chap fires his pistill — crack! —
roun' the nyeuk o' the hoose — a gryte, blunt shot, fair afore
the shaltie's niz! Samie hed jist begun to blaw, an' ye cud
'a heard the drones gruntin' awa', fan the sheltie gya a swarve
to the tae side, the 'blower' skytit oot o' Samie's mou', an' he
hed muckle adee to keep fae coupin owre 'imsel'."
"Na; but that wusna canny!" exclaimed both Hairry's
auditors simultaneously.
"Samie was fell ill-pleas't, I can tell ye," continued Hairry
Muggart. "'Seelence that shottin this moment!' says he,
'or I'll not play anoder stroke for no man livin'.'"
"Eh, but it wusna mowse," said Mrs. Muggart.
"Awat Samie was on 's maijesty. 'Ye seerly don't know
the danger o' fat ye 're aboot,' says he. 'It's the merest
chance i' the wordle that that shot didna rive my chanter wi'
the reboon o' 't.' An' wi' that he thooms the chanter a' up an'
doon, an' luiks at it wi' 's head to the tae side. 'Ye dinna
seem to be awaar o' fat ye 're aboot. I once got as gweed a
stan' o' pipes as ony man ever tyeuk in 's oxter clean connacht
the vera same gate,' says Samie."
"Weel?" queried Meg.
"Hoot! Fa sud hin'er Samie to hae the pipes a' fine
month. wi' red an' blue ribbons. An' ov coorse it was naitral
that he sud like to be ta'en some notice o'. Nae fear o' rivin
the chanter. Weel, awa' we gaes wi' Samie o' the shaltie,
noddle-noddlin aneth 'im, 's feet naar doon at the grun, an'
the pipes scraichin like onything. For a wee filie the chaps
keepit fell weel in order; jist gi'ein it bit 'hooch,' an' a caper
o' a dance ahin Samie's they cud win at it for their pairtners;
for ye see the muckle feck o' the young chaps hed lasses, an'
wus gyaun airm-in-airm. But aw b'lieve ere we wan to the
fit o' the Kirktoon rigs they war brakin oot an' at the sheetin
again. Mains's chiels wus lows't gin that time, an' we wus
nae seener clear o' the Kir'ton nor they war at it bleezin
awa'; an' forbye guns fat hed the nickums deen but pitten
naar a pun' o' blastin' pooder in'o the bush o' an aul' cairt
wheel, syne culf't it, an' laid it doon aneth the briggie at the
fit o' the Clinkstyle road, wi' a match at it. Owre the briggie
we gaes wi' Samie's pipes skirlin' at the heid o' 's, an' pistills
crackin' awa' hyne back ahin, fan the terriblest platoon gaes
aff, garrin the vera road shak' aneth oor feet!"
"Keep's an' guide's!" said Meg. "Aw howp there wasna
naebody hurtit.
"Ou, feint ane; only Samie's shaltie snappert an' pat 'im
in a byous ill teen again. But aw'm seer ye mitha heard the
noise o' 's sheetin an' pipin', lat aleen the blast, naar three
mile awa'."
"Weel aw was jist comin' up i' the early gloamin, fae
lockin' my bits o' doories, an' seein' that neen o' the creaturs
wasna reestin the furth, fan aw heard a feerious lood rum'le —
an't hed been Whitsunday as it's Mairti'mas aw wud 'a raelly
said it was thunner. But wi' that there comes up o' the win'
a squallachin o' fowk by ordinar', an' the skirl o' the pipes
abeen a'. That was the mairriage — Heard you! Aw wat aw
heard ye!"
"Oh, but fan they wan geylies oot o' kent boun's they war
vera quate — only it disna dee nae to be cheery at a mairriage,
ye ken."
"An' fat time wan ye there?"
"Weel, it was gyaun upo' seyven o'clock."
"An' ye wud a' be yap aneuch gin than!"
"Nyod, I was freely hungry, ony wye. But aw wat
there was a gran' tae wytin 's. An aunt o' the bride's was
there to welcome the fowk; a richt jellie wife in a close mutch,
but unco braid spoken; aw'm thinkin' she maun be fae the
coast side, i' the Collieston wan, or some wye. The tables
wus jist heapit at ony rate; an' as mony yalla fish set doon as
wud 'a full't a box barrow, onlee't."
"An' was Peter 'imsel' ony hearty, noo?"
"Wusnin 'e jist! Aw wuss ye hed seen 'im; an' Rob his
breeder tee, fan the dancin' begood. It wudna dee to say't,
ye ken, but Robbie hed been tastin' draps, as weel's some o'
the lave, an' nae doot the gless o' punch 't they gat o' the back
o' their tae hed ta'en o' the loon; but an he didna tak' it oot
o' twa three o' the lasses, forbye the aul' fishwife, 't was bobbin
awa' anent 'im b' wye o' pairtner, wi' 'er han's in 'er sides an'
the strings o' 'er mutch fleein lowse. It's but a little placie,
a kin' o' a but an' a ben, an' it wasna lang till it grew feerious
het. I 'se asseer ye, dancin' wasna jeestie to them that try't it."
"Weel, Mistress Muggart, isna yer man a feel aul' breet to
be cairryin on that gate amon' a puckle daft young fowk?"
"Deed is 'e, Hennie; but as the sayin' is 'there's nae feel
like an aul' feel.'"
"Ou, but ye wud 'a baith been blythe to be there, noo,"
said Hairry, "an' wud 'a danc't brawly gin ye hed been
"An' Samie ga'e ye the meesic?"
"Maist pairt. They got a haud o' a fiddle — there was a
cheelie there 't cud play some — but the treble string brak, so
that wudna dee. An' files, fan they war takin' a kin' o'
breathin', he wud sowff a spring to twa three o' them; or
bess till 'imsel' singin', wi' the fiddle, siclike as it was. Only
Samie eeswally sat i' the tither en' to be oot o' their road, an'
mak' mair room for the dancers, an' dirl't up the pipes, wi' a
fyou o' 's that wusna carein' aboot the steer takin' a smoke
aside 'im."
"Na, but ye hed been makin' yersel's richt comfortable.
Hedna ye the sweetie wives?"
"Hoot ay; hoot ay; till they war forc't to gi'e them maet
an' drink an' get them packit awa' — that was aboot ten
o'clock. An' gin than," continued Hairry, "I was beginnin'
to min' 't I hed a bit traivel afore me. Aw kent there was
nae eese o' wytin for the young fowk to be company till's, for
they wud he seer to dance on for a file, an' than there wud
lickly he a ploy i' the hin'eren' at the beddin' o' the new-marriet
fowk; so Tam Meerison an' me forgathered an' crap
awa' oot, sin'ry like, aifter sayin' good nicht to the bride in a
quate wye — Peter was gey noisy gin that time, so we loot him
be. We made's gin we hed been wuntin a gluff o' the caller
air; but wi' that, fan ance we wus thereoot, we tyeuk the road
hame thegither like gweed billies."
LIKE most events of a similar character, the marriage of
Peter Birse, junior, served as a nine days' wonder to
the people of Pyketillim — neither more nor less than that.
Yet to the diplomatic mind of Mrs. Birse, the nine days had
not expired, when it seemed good that means should be taken
to certify the world of the fact that, despite the untowardness
of recent events the family of Clinkstyle had suffered neither
in social status nor ecclesiastical character. It was not very
long before this that that "big beggar man," the Rev. Thomas
Guthrie, had perambulated Scotland in behalf of the Free
Church Manse Scheme. In the course of his travels he had
visited the Broch and addressed a public meeting in the recently
erected Free Kirk there. To that meeting Johnny
Gibb, the souter, and the smith had tramped all the way from
Pyketillim. They had listened with profound interest to the
speaker's graphic story of parish kirks in the highlands, where
the scant handful of worshippers sat "like crows in the mist;"
kirks through which at their fullest you might not merely fire
a cannon ball as some one had said, but "a cart load of whins,"
without hurting anybody; their indignation had burned keenly
as there was set before them the picture of the minister's
family forced to leave the comfortable manse, the pleasant
home of many years, and go away, the mother and children
to the distant town, while the persecuted minister himself was
fain to take up his abode in some miserable out-of-the-way
hut that the laird had no power to keep him out of; a hut so
miserable that summer rains and winter frosts and snows
alike visited him through the roof and sides, till the poor man
had almost, or altogether, sunk physically under the discomforts
of his cheerless abode. After all this, set forth with
mingled humour and pathos, while the deep, eloquent tones of
the speaker told with hardly greater force on the ear than the
gleam of his singularly expressive face did on the eye, it
needed but the faintest indication in the way of direct appeal
to make Johnny Gibb determine to put down his name as a
subscriber of £5 to the Manse Fund. The subscriptions
asked were payable in one year, or in five yearly instalments,
and Johnny Gibb said, "Ou, we 'se pay 't aff at the nail; fa
kens fat may happen ere five years come an' gae."
It was not that Johnny made a boast of his subscription
to the Manse Fund; far from it. As he knew that the souter
and smith had other claims which emphatically forbade their
following his example, he was at pains to make it appear to
them that the sum he gave was in a manner a representative
contribution from the Free Kirk in Pyketillim.
"Ye see we'll need a manse oorsel's," said Johnny. "Nae
doot we'Il get it a' back, an' mair wi' 't; an' still an' on there'll
be a hantle adee till 's a'. But fa cud hear the like o' yon
onbeen roost to the vera itmost? Oh, but he's a gran' speaker,
Maister Guthrie; keepin' awa' fae's droll stories, he's like
some o' the aul' ancient woorthies 't we read o'; an' aw was
vera glaid to hear 'im crackin wi' oor nain minaister, an'
speerin aboot the kirk an' siclike."
Nevertheless, Johnny Gibb's subscription to the great
Manse Scheme became the subject of talk among the Free
Kirk folks in Pyketillim, and of laudatory talk, too; inasmuch
as it was deemed a very liberal act, following on sundry
very liberal acts done by Johnny in the building of the kirk.
Would anyone else do the like? was the question asked by
various people at various other people; and these latter
doubted it, although they could give no conclusive reply.
A few days after the events recorded in the last two chapters,
Miss Birse had raised the question with her mother,
when Mrs. Birse took occasion to enlarge on the merits of
Mr. MacCassock and not less on the zealous services already
rendered in the interest of the Free Kirk and that of the
minister by the family at Clinkstyle. A manse Mr. MacCassock
should have; but, while anybody might gain a certain
éclat by a "supperscription to an Edinboro Fond," Mrs.
Birse desired to give her valuable services, in the shape of a
social meeting to be held at Clinkstyle, in direct promotion
of the local Manse Scheme.
The proposal was one that, on the whole, commended itself
to Miss Birse. Both mother and daughter felt that the
intended soiree — to give it the correct designation — could not
fail from its novelty and splendour, to excite attention, and
dazzle the intellect of Pyketillim in a way that would tend,
among other things, to wipe out all recollection of Patie's
unhappy wedding.
The success of the soiree for inauguration of the proposal
to erect a manse to the Rev. Mr. MacCassock was, on the
whole, gratifying. The persons invited to attend it included
Johnny Gibb, the souter, the smith, the merchan', and Sandy
Peterkin, even. The mole-catcher was not asked. It was
necessary to stop somewhere in the social scale, and Mrs.
Birse resolved to draw the line just over the head of the
"It's nae 't we wud wuss to lichtlifie the creatur," said
Mrs. Birse. "He's gweed aneuch in 's nain place; an' sma'
blame till 'im though he ken little aboot menners, fowk wud
need to min' 't 's upfeshin wasna vera lordlifu' — Willna we
seek Hairry Muggart? Deed we'll dee naething o' the kin',
'Liza. That's jist like ane o' yer fader's senseless projecks.
He may be never so aul' a neebour, an' never so weel-will't to
mak' 'imsel' eesefu' noo; but yer fader sud ken brawly, that
he hisna been gryte spyauck for him ony wye. He's jist been
a rael oonstable man, though he has aye a fair tongue in 's
heid; an' he's been owre ready to be goy't owre wi' 'im — little
won'er nor he was defate o' bein' made an el'yer. The fowk
kent owre weel fa it was 't was proposin' him; a man 't hed
made 'imsel' so kenspeckle at the first ootset, an' syne for love
o' the wordle turn't aside in sic a Judas-like menner."
In point of fact, Hairry Muggart had no claim to an invitation
to the soiree on the ground of principle; and although
Hairry, after he knew his fate in so far as his croft was concerned,
had once more pronounced himself an adherent of the
Free Kirk, it was a weak thing in Peter Birse to suggest that
he should be invited. Peter, for his own part, would have
felt Hairry's presence comforting, and he urged that his friend
was a "gran' speaker." He was reminded that his chief care
ought to be to improve the occasion in the way of re-establishing
his own somewhat obscured ecclesiastical reputation.
The exclusion of Hairry Muggart was unlucky in this
wise. Our old friend Dawvid Hadden, in returning from one
of his business journeys in the late gloamin, and in excellent
spirits, had observed the unusual brilliancy of the lights at
Clinkstyle, and "jalousin" that something must be going on,
Dawvid, as he passed the henwife's door, with a levity of tone
meant to arouse sore recollections in the henwife's breast,
but which he speedily had reason to repent, cried in —
"Fat's been adee wi' yer braw bohsom freen, the wife o'
Clinkstyle, the nicht ava — Is she gettin' 'er dother marriet
"Dear be here, Dawvid, fat wud gar the like o' you speer
a question o' that kin'?" said Meg Raffan.
"Ou," answered David, "ilka window o' their hoose is
bleezin o' licht like a new gless booet. There maun 'a been
fowk there."
"Fowk there!" exclaimed Meg. "Weel, an there hinna
been that, ye 're nae mark. Oh, Dawvid, Dawvid, it's a
gweed thing for some o' 's to hae the markness o' nicht to
fesh us hame files. — Nae doot fan fowk meets in wi' company
moderate things is exkeesable, but seerly it's gyaun owre the
bows to forget faur ye've been."
"Fat div ye mean?" said Dawvid, sharply, "I wasna there,
I tell you, woman!"
"Hoot, noo," answered Meg, with provoking persistency,
"I'm nae refleckin o' ye, Dawvid, man; mony ane plays waur
mistak's, an' lies doon i' the gutter, or tynes their road a'thegither,
comin' fae their freen's hoose."
"They're no freers o' mine; an' I 'm not i' the haibit o'
goin' there," said Dawvid, with rising dignity.
"Dinna be sayin' 't noo, Dawvid. Fa sud be inveetit to
Clinkstyle but Maister Hadden, Sir Seemon's awgent; fan
fairms has to be mizzour't aff an' arreeng't for them 't 's to get
them, fa can dee 't but him? Wow, sirs — wasna there!"
"It's a lie, I tell ye!" roared Dawvid, and as he roared
he marched abruptly off, shutting Meg Raffan's door with a
"There maun hae been something or ither gyaun on,
that's seer aneuch; the creatur has a drap in, or he wudna
been tiggin wi' 's. But he's nae sae far on but he wud 'a
notic't onything oot o' the ordinar' as he cam' bye." So mused
Meg Raffan with herself. And Meg resolved to find out all
about it on the morrow. Her first movement was to catch
Hairry Muggart as he went past in the morning to his work,
but all Hairry could tell was that there had been "a pairty —
some kin' o' a kirk affair," whereupon Meg suggested that, all
things considered, it was extreme ill-usage to Hairry to have
failed of inviting him; and Hairry hardly denied that he was
disappointed, seeing he had some services to speak of, not
the least considerable of which were the friendly lift he had
endeavoured, against his better judgment, to give Peter Birse,
senior, when he wanted to be made an elder; and the element
of respectability thrown into the initial stage of Peter Birse,
junior's, wedded life by his presence at his marriage. However,
Hairry bore it with what resignation he could.
The same afternoon found Meg Raffan at the Kirktown
shop. Her object this time was to gather news, not to distribute.
It did not tend to promote success in this operation
that Jock Will was in the shop along with Sandy Peterkin.
Had Sandy been alone, Meg felt confident she could have
pumped him to the extent of his knowledge. With Jock Will
present, Sandy was not accessible, and to pump Jock himself
was a different matter. Jock was bland and civil, and his
replies to Meg were candid and literal; but he could not be
drawn out by leading questions, and as little would indirect
thrusts in a bantering style serve to betray him into inadvertent
admissions. Meg was somewhat nonplussed. She had got
very little beyond the point to which Hairry had been able to
advance her, and now, with her artillery almost exhausted,
and Jock Will giving distinct indication that his time and
patience were also exhausted, she felt the difficulty of hanging
on longer.
"An' yer mither is keepin' middlin' stoot?" asked Meg, as
she made to leave, with an emphasis indicative of special concern
for Mrs. Will's state of health.
"Ou, she's fine," answered Jock, who was unaware of any
cause that Meg had to doubt a previous assurance she had
got on entering that Mrs. Will was " vera weel, thank ye."
"I thocht she was luikin warsh like fan I got a went o' 'er
the tither ouk; but't 's so seldom 't we see ither noo-a-days."
Meg's drift thus far was obvious; and Jock Will could not
do less than invite her in to see his mother. Once into the
house, Meg "lean't her doon" for a crack. The merchan'
naturally had to return to his business, and so soon as he
was gone the henwife came to the point at once, with the
exclamation —
"Ou, they war tellin' 's there was a feerious interaistin
meetin' about the kirk at Clinkstyle the tither nicht. An' it's
nae ca'd about clypes, Mistress Wull, fan aw say 't yer nain
sin was richt muckle thocht o', an' 'll seen be ane o' the heid
deesters. Awat he needna wunt the maiden o' Clinkstyle, an'
he wulls to tak' 'er."
With this preface, Meg speedily got out of the unsuspecting
widow every particular that she knew about the Clinkstyle
manse meeting, and had asked several searching questions
bearing on the subject collaterally, to which Mrs. Will had
been unable to give any answer whatever, when Jock, who
had been scarcely ten minutes absent looked in again.
"Noo, merchan'," exclaimed Meg, with an air of perfect
satisfaction, "ye're fear't that we sit owre lang gin ance we
begin an' clatter aboot oor nain transacks. But we're aul'
acquantances, min' ye, an' mony's the cheenge 't we're seen
sin' we kent ither. I was jist o' my fit fan ye cam' in — Eh
na, aw cudna bide langer; nae the nicht."
That same gloamin, as Hairry Muggart plodded on his
way homeward, after finishing his day's work for Sir Simon,
Meg Raffan, by the purest accident, turned up in his way, as
he passed between the "offices" and the Lodge gate. Dawvid
Hadden was walking alongside Hairry, "newsin," the two
being now, as Hairry put it, only "freens fae the teeth ootwuth."
Hairry stopped at once to converse with Meg, and
Dawvid made a sort of broken halt too, though his disposition
evidently was to step on.
"Na, Dawvid," said Meg, "ye gaed aff in a bung the
streen fan I wuntit ye to tell's aboot yer pairty at Clinkstyle.
Fa wud 'a thocht it o' ye, noo — a braw new hoose to be biggit
for a manse till this lad MacCassock. Nae word o' enterdickin
them noo. Na, na: they'll be gettin' a stance for 't at
the boddom o' the Greens, gin they like, a' throu' fawvour, an'
haein a freen i' the coort. That is cheeng't wardles."
Dawvid was taken aback by the audacity of Meg's address;
but in the presence of Hairry Muggart it was necessary to
assume an air of nonchalant knowingness, and so Dawvid replied

"Weel, Meg, ye 're the ae best han' at gedderin a' the
claicks o' the kwintra side 't I ken. Fat for sudna the man
get a manse, gin's fowk be willin' to big it till 'im? That's
nae buzness o' yours nor mine nedderin, seerly?"
"Keep's an' guide 's, Dawvid, ye 're dottlin a'thegither.
Hinna we a' seen fowk lang ere noo rinnin aboot preten'in' to
hae buzness, layin' doon the law to a' kin' o' kirk fowk, bun'
an' Free alike?"
"Is Sir Simon raelly gi'ein' a stance than?" asked Hairry,
with a good deal of earnestness.
"Speer at Dawvid there," said Meg. "He's aye the
funtain-heid o' buzness."
Dawvid looked somewhat embarrassed, when Hairry
turned to him inquiringly; but recovering his composure and
dignity, he said, with some asperity, "Gin ye be edder to gi'e
heid to a' the idle jaw 't ye hear, Hairry, or till imawgine that
naething adee but reel aff to you aboot fat Sir Simon
inten's to do; an' mair sae gin ye think that I wud dee onything
o' the kin' without ony regaird to fa mith be in oor company
at the time, ye maun be sair leeft to yersel', man; that's
a' that I 'se say aboot it."
"Ou, dinna be sae sanshach, Dawvid," said Meg, with great
composure. "Hairry disna need me to tell 'im aboot the begeck
that the goodwife o' Clinkstyle gat aboot the fairm o'
Newtoon;' an' nedder o' 's wud coont 'er sic a saunt as to
think that she cud 'a forgi'en you for that yet; forbye 't it leet
the haill kwintra ken foo kin' she was to be, luikin oot for
some o' 'er neebours; only 't they war raither farrer ben wi'
the laird nor some fowk 't we ken wus awaar o'. Hooever,
she 's managin' to coort the fawvour o' this minaister lad wi'
makin' a fraise aboot a manse till 'im. An' fat think ye has
she garr't Peter dee, but pit's han' i' the moggan, an' gi'e a
five poun' note, nae to be ahin your freens, Gushetneuk an'
the merchan'. An' the Miss is to be at it colleckin amo' them,
to gi'e something a' owre heid. Jist bide ye still noo, an' gin
ye dinna see a manse bigget ere this time towmon, an' the
minaister lad waddit till the quine Birse or some ither ane,
my name's nae Raffan."
Good part of this was certainly meant to be heard by
Dawvid Hadden, but by the time the last sentence was
uttered, Dawvid had gradually moved on till he was almost
beyond earshot, when Meg, lowering her key, and in a considerably
altered tone, said —
"Ye see we canna dee ither nor lat at 'im files; an' there's
naething nettles Dawvid waur nor to be lickened wi' the wife
o' Clinkstyle — Was he there? Ah-wa, Hairry. As seen speak
o' 'im bein' socht to dine wi' Sir Simon. Na, na; they've
hed their sairin o' ither — an' chaep o' them. But awat ye
loss't-na muckle yersel' o' nae bein' there. It's a gweed thing
fan near-b'gyaunness an' gentility rins thegither; but aw'm
thinkin' Gushetneuk hedna miss't 'er for settin' the fowk 't she
inveetit doon a' roon 'the parlour' — fat ither — like as mony
born dummies. The wife 'ersel' was bleezin' in a mutch an'
floo'ers, makin' oot the tae, in gryte style, an' the Miss sailin'
aboot like a very duchess amo' them. Aul' Peter hed been
set on to mak' a speech; but did little, peer stock, but swat
an' pech't, till some o' the lave tyeuk up the sticks. Hooever,
a manse they're to hae; that's the short an' the lang o' 't.—
Noo be toddlin, Hairry, for Dawvid 's wytein ye oot at the
yett there; nae doot he'll be sayin' we're speakin' aboot 'im —
Gweed nicht."
WHEN Sir Simon Frissal was about to leave his ancestral
seat at Glensnicker for a two months' sojourn in
Edinburgh, during the "dead of winter," he called for his
ground-officer, Dawvid Hadden, to give him such instructions
as he considered needful for the guidance of that zealous
functionary during his absence. The footman had carried
down the message that Sir Simon wished to see him next
morning at ten o'clock, and Dawvid manifested his wonted
enlarged desire to fulfil his patron's behests.
"Aw'm sayin', 'oman, ye've seerly been lattin that bairns
ay tee their han' to my vreetin dask: that'll never do.
There's the cork o' the ink-bottle oot; an' I div not believe
but the lid o' the penner's been amo' the aise, an' my vera
memorandum book blottit oot o' ken. Ye sud be awaar gin
this time that I'm nae responsible to gae afore Sir Simon onhed
my papers upo' me."
Dawvid Hadden's wife had heard similar addresses before;
and, despite the pleasing haze which connubial fidelity interposes
between the wife and her husband in such cases, was
able to apprehend, with tolerable distinctness, what it all
meant. Dawvid, it was clear, was too well pleased with himself
meanwhile to be really angry; so she did not even think
it necessary to express regret for the raid made on the "dask"
by the band of junior Haddens, but said, "Weel, man, I
canna hae the bairns aye preen't to my tail."
Dawvid got the memorandum book stowed away in his
"oxter pouch" after duly scanning the more recent part of its
contents and gravely adding one or two pencil jottings. Then
he started for the appointed interview with Sir Simon Frissal.
"You are quite aware, then, Hadden, of the changes that
take place during the ensuing season among tenants?" said
Sir Simon.
"They're a' vrote doon here, sir," answered Dawvid, tapping
the board of his memorandum book.
"There — What do you mean by that?"
"My book, sir; they're reg'lar enter't.
"H—m. There's a change in the occupation of Gushetneuk,
and a new tenant comes to the wright's croft. Then
the old house, occupied as a side school at Smiddyward, is
still vacant?"
"They're all here, sir; with the full heids an' particulars,"
said Dawvid, again tapping the memorandum book.
"That is the only vacant cottage at the hamlet?"
"The only one 't can be said to be clean vawcant. There's
been nobody there sin' the creatur Peterkin was turn't oot.
Hooever, there's only a fairm servan', John Gibb's ploughman,
i' the hoose that Widow Will hed — he needna stan' i'
the road gif the place be wuntit for anoder."
"I wish you to bear in mind, with respect to the farm and
croft, that you will get written instructions hereafter from the
factor, Mr. Greenspex, about getting some reliable person to
take all necessary measurements of the extent of land in new
grass, and other things; but I want you, in the first place, to
attend to one or two other matters. Have you seen Birse at
Clinkstyle recently?"
"No, sir; but I was hearin', on gweed authority, that he's
fairly owre to the non-intrusions noo, as weel's his wife an'
daachter. They're proposin' byuldin a hoose for a manse to
the Free Kirk minaister chappie."
"Who told you that?"
"It was a vera parteeclar acquantance 't hed it fae some
o' themsel's."
"I want you then to ascertain certain particulars without
any loss of time."
"I do k-no a good dale already, sir; but nae jist sae
authentic maybe as gin it war a maitter o' buzness — but I'm
quite awaar hoo I can get first-han' information."
"Taking the house first —"
"I'll jist mak' a bit memorandum at once," said Dawvid,
pulling out his black-lead pencil.
"Put that aside — your memory may serve for once," said
Sir Simon, in a tone that made Dawvid look blank. "The
labour and expense of putting a fresh roof on this school-cottage,
and other repairs, were borne, you told me at the
time, by John Gibb. — Is that so?"
"Ou, certaintly, sir, certaintly," answered Dawvid, in a
perplexed sort of way.
"Well, as it seems very likely the house will be required
for occupation again, you'll go and ascertain from Gibb what
he would consider an equivalent for his outlay — get it from
himself personally."
"Yes, sir. An' wud it need to be shortly."
"At once. The other matter, about which you have to
see Birse, is the march at the lower end of his farm between
Clinkstyle and Gushetneuk. The old bauk there is very
crooked and runs off from the Clinkstyle side with a long
point into the other farm, does it not?"
"You're quite richt, sir," said Dawvid, brightening up at
the idea of his topographical knowledge being consulted, "I
k-no the spot perfeckly, Clinkstyle's wastmost intoon shift
rins in wi' a lang nib, an' a gushetie o' finer lan' there is not
upo' the place."
"The extent, I am told, is about an acre and a half?"
"Fully that, sir, fully that. I never pat the chyne till't, but
b' guess o' e'e I'm sure it's about an awcre an' three reed, forbye
the bit o' naitur girss at the burn-side."
"Well, it's very awkward to have a pendicle of that sort
belonging to one farm and lying into another — it goes against
good husbandry. And now, when a new lease is to be
entered on, I intend to have the march straightened — you
will inform Birse of this."
"An' wud ye gi'e 'im an' excamb like? I doot he winna
be keen aboot lossin' the grip o' that piece for the same breid
farrer up the brae."
"He'll get an equivalent reduction of rent, fixed by competent
valuers — tell him so. Mr. Greenspex agrees with myself
in holding that the march ought to be straightened, and
as Gushetneuk is the smaller farm of the two, it is advantageous
otherwise to make the addition to it."
"Weel, sir," said Dawvid, who was beginning to see rather
more than he desired of somewhat unpleasant work cut out
for him, "I wud hae raither a different idea aboot the squarin'
aff o' that nyeuk —"
"I daresay," answered Sir Simon, dryly.
"An' wudna it be better to pit aff for a little, till it cud be
gotten mizzour't, afore ye proceedit feenally? I cud — "
"It may be measured as well after as before. Go you to
Birse, and tell him my mind, and make sure that you adhere
literally to your instructions — tell him the valuation will be
fairly made for this acre and a half or two acres that are to
be cut off his farm, and put to Gushetneuk, and that he will
be allowed a deduction of rent per acre according to valuation."

"Will Mr. Greenspex vrite 'im to that effeck, sir?"
"No; certainly not at this stage. Attend to what I say —
I want you to go first, without loss of time, and inform him
of my wish, and get his formal consent. Then Mr. Greenspex
will carry out the arrangement. You understand then that
what you have to do is to ascertain from John Gibb the
amount of his outlay on this house, and then to get Birse's
consent to cede this bit of ground?"
"Perfeckly weel, sir," said Dawvid, in a slightly dubious
"Well, see that you lose no time about it. You may go
now. If I've got anything else to say, I'll leave a message
with Piggles, the butler."
There were various thoughts coming and going in the
mind of Dawvid Hadden when he left the presence of Sir
Simon Frissal at the close of the interview briefly narrated.
He asked himself what in the name of wonder Sir Simon intended
to do with Sandy Peterkin's old cottage and school?
He did not half relish the idea of going to Johnny Gibb even
for the purpose of offering him the prospect of payment for
his outlay on these structures. He felt morally certain that
Johnny would not omit calling up reminiscences of his,
Dawvid's, previous connection with the school buildings, and
that not for the purpose of complimenting him on the part he
had taken. And then Dawvid saw for the first time that he
had committed a strategic mistake when he got Sandy Peterkin
turned out, in not also getting his "premises" levelled
with the ground. But the most ticklish business was that of
the Clinkstyle march. It is known to the reader how Dawvid
contrived to plan a notable addition to the farm of Clinkstyle,
how that scheme gained him high favour and repute with
Mrs. Birse and her husband, how it disastrously fell through,
and how Dawvid had, since that date, fought shy of Clinkstyle,
and those who dwelt there. And now here was an imperative
command to face Peter Birse — Dawvid would have been glad
if he could have felt assured that facing Peter would be all —
with a direct proposal not to enlarge, but to curtail, his farm.
Dawvid was very keenly alive to all the difficulties and adverse
contingencies of the case. He came at once to the conclusion
that the hand of Mr. Greenspex was to be traced in it
all, and the indignation to which the thought of the lawyer's
unwarranted intrusion on what he felt to be his own domain
gave rise, afforded a temporary diversion to his feelings. But
the reflection soon came up again that in any case, Sir
Simon's instructions must be carried out. And because, when
he returned to his home. he found his eldest son employed
quite harmlessly sketching a flight of crows on the slate on
which he used to "cast up" land-measuring operations, and
"siclike," he gave the lad a very vigorously laid on "sclaffert"
on "the side of the head."
"Canna ye haud the han's o' ye ?" said Dawvid. "It's
a keerious thing that creators winna keep fae meddlin' wi' fat
disna lie i' their gate. Aw think aw wud need 'a get every
article belangin' me lockit up fanever aw gae owre the door."
SIR SIMON FRISSAL'S instructions were a subject of engrossing
cogitation with Dawvid Haddon, or rather the
adverse reception he was likely to meet in carrying them out
was so. "But," thought Dawvid with himself, "it's joost fat
we maun expeck. There's naebody that's in a public wye
need think to please a' body. Upo' the tae han' we 're nae
accountable gin we dinna tak' an order wi' them that 's owregyaun
the laws o' the Ian', an' fleein i' the vera face o' Parliament
itsel', lat aleen the grytest nobility i' the kwintra; an'
syne the best that is canna dee mair nor they may. Sir
Simon may prefar the advice o' an Aiberdeen lawvyer, that
never tyeuk a squarin' pole in's han', about the layin' out o' 's
lan', to the advice o' them that k-no's the contents o' every
feedle upo' the estate, ta'en aff wi' 's nown chyne, but he'll
maybe ken i' the long rin fa 's cawpable o' layin' oot a place
in a gatefarrin wye an' fa's nae."
Thus far of Dawvid's cogitations; but though Dawvid
knew perfectly that under a broad and enlightened view it
would be found that his sagacity and prudence had been unimpeachable,
and his principles of action unassailable, he
knew also that it behoved him to proceed without loss of time
to carry out Sir Simon's orders. And he could not get rid of
the reflection that the petty details of the thing would, it was
more than likely, turn out to be a little annoying. In the case
of Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk, it was true, Dawvid had
nothing in the shape of unpalatable proposals to make, yet
he could not avoid having a slightly uncomfortable feeling at
the thought of the explosion that might occur when he took
up the subject of the old schoolhouse. However, the offer of
an addition to the farm of Gushetneuk could hardly fail, as
Dawvid Hadden sought to persuade himself, of mollifying
Johnny Gibb's temper, and the happy idea occurred to Dawvid
of smoothing his way by playing that card first. And on the
whole he felt rather pleased at the prospect in this case. With
the Birses of Clinkstyle his task was entirely different. What
he had to communicate there would undoubtedly awaken feelings
the reverse of pleasant; and in the remembrance of what
had occurred so recently in connection with his plan for remodelling
the farm of Clinkstyle, Dawvid was to be excused
if he did not see clearly how he was to get through the business
comfortably. While Dawvid was perplexing himself by
turning the question over and over again in his mind, he felt
a very strong tendency to get confidential on the subject
with Meg Raffan. They had had their small encounters;
but Dawvid knew that Meg meanwhile was really incensed
against her friend, Mrs. Birse, and he somehow felt that her
sympathy was worth having.
"Aweel, Dawvid," said Meg, cheerfully, when she had got
the ground-officer's "gloss" on the matter in hand, "we've
baith been weel aneuch ta'en in-owre wi' that carline o' a wife
o' Clinkstyle; but ye hae the chance o' bein' upsides wi' 'er
this time at ony rate. Na, sirs, but she will be in a rampauge
fan she hears Sir Simon's projeck aboot takin' aff a piece o'
their grun. — Aw wauger onything she'll come doon upo' aul'
Peter's heid aboot it; as gin he cud help it, peer gype. Noo,
dinna be mealy mou't, Dawvid, man, fan ye tell them. Aw
declare aw wud gi'e my best brodmil o' Mairch chuckens
naarhan' to be aside an' hear foo she 'll brak oot aboot it wi'
that rauchle tongue o' hers."
Dawvid thought within himself that he could forego this
coveted opportunity for a slighter "consideration" than that
mentioned by Meg; yet, under the inspiriting words of the
henwife, he felt his courage sensibly rising, as he said, "Ou,
weel, I winna flench a hair's breid for nedder man nor 'oman;
that's ae thing seer aneuch. I've stan't mony a roch hotter
afore noo i' the wye o' duty, as ye ken brawly, Meg."
"Weel-a-wat ye never spak' a truer word, Dawvid.
Mony 's the bodie that's hed their gullie i' ye aboot yer bits o'
transacks; but gin I war you I sud set up my bonnet a hack
fan I gaed owre to Clinkstyle this time."
"Ou, weel, aw'm seer she's been at your merciment as
weel's mine, mony a day ere noo," said Dawvid.
"Nae doot aboot it," said Meg. "An fowk hed wuntit
to sclaive'er throu' the kwintra they wud 'a not nae mair nor
the wye 't she 's been gyaun on wi' that peer simple minaister
lad to get 'im insnorl't wi' 'er dother. An' fat sud be upo' go
noo, but a braw new 'viackle,' 's she was ca'in' 't — we sanna
say fa till. But it 's order't fae the coachmakker's, no — Jist
bide ye still till the spring day comes in again, gin ye dinna
see a braivity at Clinkstyle that hardly beseems fowk 't 's sib
to fish cadgers an' siclike! Eh, but she has muckle need o'
something to lay the pride o' 'er the richt gate!"
"An' dinna ye min' o' the fools?" interjected Dawvid.
"Fat like trag she's sent here owre an' owre again. Awat
she was ill deservin' o' oor leenity for that."
"Ay, but bide ye still, I hae the hank i' my nain han' for
that maybe."
"Hae ye gotten this sizzon's hens yet?"
"Feint a feather, no; though the time's lang owregane;
an' aw was that ill aff ere the laird gaed awa' that I hed to fell
some bonny yearocks 't aw was keepin', an' 't wud 'a been
layin' haill on the feck o' the winter."
"I must see aboot that, though," said Dawvid, in a lofty
and half magisterial tone of voice.
"Weel, will ye jist gi'e 'er my remem'rances," added Meg,
"an' say 't though we canna be but sair obleeg't to them that
tak's sic lang pains feedin' the laird's fools, I'm raellv fley't
that they may rin 'er oot o' black dist an' potawto skins? I
wud be unco fain to pit my thooms across their craps — an'
gin they binna freely at the point o' perfection, I'll sen' them
back till 'er for a fortnicht o' her raffy keep wi' the grytest
"Weel, Meg, it does raelly set ye to speak," said Dawvid,
It was after he had been thus instructed and fortified that
Dawvid Hadden set out on his important mission of carrying
out the orders of Sir Simon Frissal at Gushetneuk and
TO Johnny Gibb, the autumn of 1847 had been a season of
varied and engrossing business. There was first the
erection of Mr. MacCassock's new manse. So long as the
project had remained a matter merely to be talked about and
resolved upon, there had been no lack of people to express
their ideas and give their advice, but when it had assumed
the practical aspect of settling contracts for the building,
some of those who had talked most fluently became remarkably
vague, and did not seem in haste to commit themselves
to any specific action. Johnny Gibb's course was the reverse
of this; the erection of the manse was not his proposal, but
once it had been resolved upon, Johnny declared that it must
be carried out forthwith. "We maun hae the wa's up, an'
the reef on immedantly, an' lat 'im get marriet, an' win in till't
fan simmer comes roon again." Everybody admitted that
this was expedient and desirable, and everybody felt how
naturally it fell to Johnny Gibb to push the necessary operations
on. And Johnny pushed them accordingly, taking no
end of pains in getting materials driven, and kept to the hands
of the workmen. Then there were the private arrangements
at Gushetneuk, in view of Johnny Gibb ceasing to be "tacksman."
The general belief was that Johnny would flit down
to the Broch, buy half-a-dozen acres of the unfeued land, and
settle down in a sort of permanent attitude as a small laird,
cultivating his own land. Johnny meditated much on the
point but said little, until one day, addressing his wife on the
question of their future arrangements, he ran over one or two
points that had come up to him, and, without indicating any
opinion, abruptly finished with the query, "Fat think ye,
"Hoot, man," replied Mrs. Gibb, "fat need ye speer at
me? I've toitit aboot wi' you upo' this place naar foorty year
noo, an' never tribbl't my heid the day aboot fat ye micht
think it richt to dee the morn; an' aw sanna begin to mislippen
ye noo at the tail o' the day."
"Weel," said Johnny, with an air of more than his ordinary
gravity, "I've been thinkin' 't owre, a' up an' doon. It's a
queer thing fan ye begin to luik back owre a' the time byegane.
The Apos'le speaks o' the life o' man as a 'vawpour
that appeareth for a little, and than vainisheth awa';' an'
seerly there cudna be a mair nait'ral resem'lance. Fan we
begood the pilget here thegither, wi' three sticks, an' a bran'it
coo 't cam' wi' your providin', the tae side o' the place was
ta'en up wi' breem busses an' heather knaps half doon the
faul'ies, and the tither was feckly a quaakin' bog, growin' little
but sprots an' rashes. It luiks like yesterday fan we hed
the new hooses bigget, an' the grun a' oon'er the pleuch,
though that's a gweed therty year syne. I min' as bricht 's a
paintet pictur' fat like ilka knablich an' ilka sheugh an' en' rig
"An' ye weel may, man, for there 's hardly a cannas breid
upo' the place but 's been lawbour't wi' yer nain han's owre an'
owre again to mak' it."
"That's fat aw was comin' till. Takin' 't as it is, there's
been grun made oot o' fat wasna grun ava; an' there it is,
growin' craps for the eese o' man an' beast — Ou ay, aw ken
we've made weel aneuch oot upon't; but it's nae i' the naitur'
o' man to gang on year aifter year plewin, an' del'in', an'
earin, an' shearin' the bits o' howes an' knowes, seein' the
vera yird, obaidient till's care, takin' shape, an' sen'in' up the
bonny caller blade in its sizzon, an' aifter that the 'fu' corn i'
the ear,' as the Scriptur' says, onbeen a kin' o' thirled to the
vera rigs themsel's."
"Weel a bodie is wae tae think o' lea'in' 't."
"Ay, ay; but that's nae a'. Gin fowk war tae lyeuk at
things ae gate we wud be wae to pairt wi' onything 't we hae
i' the wardle. But here 's oorsel's noo't 's toil't awa' upo' this
place fae youthheid to aul' age, an' wi' the lawbour o' oor nain
han's made it's ye may say — Gushetneuk the day's nae mair
fat Gushetneuk was fan we cam' here, nor my fit 's a han' saw.
Sir Seemon ca's 'imsel' laird o' 't; but Sir Seemon's deen nae
mair to the place nor the man o' France. Noo, you an' me
can gae roon an roon aboot it, an' wi' a' honesty say o' this
an' that — 'Here's the fruit o' oor lawbour — that 'Il bide upo'
the face o' the earth for the eese o' ithers aifter we're deid an'
gane.' Noo, this is fat I canna win at the boddom o' ava.
I'm weel seer it was never the arreengement o' Providence
that the man that tills the grun an' spen's the strength o' 's
days upon 't sud be at the merciment o' a man that never laid
a han' till 't, nor hardly wair't a shillin' upon 't, to bid 'im bide
or gyang."
"Hoot, man, ye 're foryettin seerly 't Sir Seemon gae ye an
offer o' the tack yersel', an' that it 's ta'en to oor young fowk,"
said Mrs. Gibb.
"Vera true," answered Johnny. "Sir Seemon, peer man,
's made little o' 't, ae gate nor anither. He's jist as sair in
wunt o' siller the day as he was fan the aul' factor gat the first
hun'er poun' 't ever we scraipit thegither in a quate wye to len'
till 'im. But it's nae oorsel's nor Sir Seemon 't aw 'm compleenin
aboot in particular. It 's the general run o' the
thing. Fat for sudna lawbourin the rigs in an honest wye for
beheef o' the countra at lairge gi'e a man a richt to sit still
an' keep the grip, raither nor hat the haill poo'er o' traffikein
wi' the grun, for gweed or ill, be leeft wi' a set o' men that
nae only never laid a han' till 't, but maybe never hardly leet
their een see 't."
"Is that the lairds?"
"Ay, ay."
"Eh, but ye ken they gat it fae their forebears."
"An' fat aboot it! Fa gyau 't to their forebears, aw wud
like to ken? A set o' reivin' scoonrels that tyeuk it wi' the
strong han', an' syne preten't to han' 't doon fae ane till anither,
an' buy 't an' sell 't wi' lawvyers' vreetin on a bit sheep's
skin. Na, na; there's something clean vrang at the boddom
o' 't. We're taul that the 'earth is for the use o' all: the
king 'imsel' is served by the field.' The Government o' the
countra sud tak' the thing i' their nain han' an' see richt deen;
an' the best teetle to the grun sud be the man's willin'ness to
lawbour 't, and grow corn an' cattle for the susteenance o'
In this high flight Mrs. Gibb did not attempt to follow
Johnny. She merely smiled and said, "Weel, aw 'm seer,
man, ye div tak' unco notions i' yer heid. Hairry Muggart
wud be naething to ye for a politician."
"Ou, weel, aw daursay Hairry wudna differ wi' me aboot
that. But that 's nedder here nor there. Fowk canna mak'
owre seer that there's a richt an' a vrang in a'thing; an' lang
eesage 'll never gar oonjustice be richt nae mair nor it 'll
mak' black fite, say fat they like. Only we wus speakin' aboot
oor nain sma' affair — I div not think that there wud be muckle
thrift in you an' me gyaun awa' buyin' a twa three rigs o'
grun an' sittin' doon wi' a'thing unco aboot 's to fecht upon 't
for a fyou years. Fan ance fowk 's at oor time o' life they sud
be willin' to lat the theets slack a bit; an' gin they've ta'en
up their yokin' straucht an' fair, they can luik back wi' a kin'
o' contentment upo' the wark that's deen, min'in' a' the time
that ithers sud be layin' their shooders to the draucht, raither
nor themsel's hingin' i' the heid o' things as gin this wardle
wud lest only as lang as they keepit fit wi' 't. Noo, I'm fell
sweir to think o' a cheenge fae this place, an' I'll tell ye foo."
"Loshtie man ye 're seerly gyaun gyte — "
"Na, na. I see fat ye 're ettlin at. — I'm nae foryettin 't
the place is set to the young fowk, 's ye ca' them; nedder wud
I wunt to stan' i' their road a single hair's-breid, nor to meddle
wi' them ae gate nor anither. Fan ance they're waddit we're
sooperanniwat, that's a doon-laid rowle. But there sudna be
nae gryte diffeekwalty aboot gettin' hoose-room for twa aul'
fowk. The hoose is a byous size for length; an' yer neebour
'oman, ye ken, 's taul ye a dizzen o' times owre that it wud be
a spawcious hoose for a genteel faimily gin it hed a back
kitchie wi' a lang chimley biggit. It winna be in oor day
that Willy M'Aul an' the lassie 'll be so far up b' cairts as be
needin' a castell to haud their braw company, an' wi' little
contrivance an' nae muckle biggin' we with get a snod aneuch
beil' by partitionin' off the wast en' an makin' a sinry door to
"Weel, fa wud 'a minet upo' that but yersel', noo," exclaimed
Mrs. Gibb, lost in admiration of her husband's inventive
genius. She was not in the habit of ever seriously disputing
his will, yet Johnny was evidently gratified to find that
his project was not merely acceptable to Mrs. Gibb, but that
the prospect it opened up, as the good woman phrased it,
"liftit a birn aff o' her min'," and would, she was sure, be
welcomed by all concerned.
"Weel, we 'll see," said Johnny, "we maun jist a' leern to
ken that the wardle can dee wuntin 's. We a' get oor day,
an' oor day's wark; the time slips bye like the mist creepin'
seelently up the howe. 'What thy hand findeth to do, do
with thy might' is the lesson we ocht aye to bear in min',
though we af'en, af'en foryet it; an' fan we luik back fae a
point like this o' the lang track o' years streetchin into the
saft mornin' licht o' oor days, an' a' croon't wi' blessin's, it's
like a dream, but a pleasant dream tee, an' foreshaidowin' a
better time to come to them that 's faithfu' to their trust.
But, ye ken, an' aul' tree disna seen tak' reet again, nor yet
haud the grun weel fan it 's liftit. An' aw'm thinkin' gin
they're to get ony mair gweed o' me, they 'll hae maist chance
o' 't by lattin' 's stick faur we are. An' though Sir Seemon
may ca' the rigs o' Gushetneuk his, I 'm maistly seer gin the
rigs themsel's cud speak they wud ca' me maister raither nor
him. But it mak's na muckle back or fore. They'll be mine
to the sicht o' my een maybe as lang's I 'm able to see the
sproutin' blade or the yalla corn sheaf; and Sir Seemon's
lairdskip canna gi'e 'im mair."
I think Johnny Gibb had about finished his moralising,
but he had scarcely ceased speaking when "the lassie," Mary
Howie, opened the room door, in which Johnny and Mrs.
Gibb had been seated all the while, and, under the impression
apparently that she had interrupted their conference, asked
"Was ye speakin', uncle?"
"Ou ay, lassie, but never heed. Fat was ye needin'?"
asked Johnny.
"Naething," said Mary, with a comical side glance toward
her aunt. "It was only Dawvid Hadden that's wuntin to
speak to ye."
"Faur is he?" asked Johnny, with a hard, abrupt sort of
snap that contrasted very oddly with his previous tone of
"Oh, he's at the door, but he canna come in on nae accoont;
he's in a hurry — he has 'more calls to mak'."'
Johnny Gibb rose with a kind of half grunt, and went
away toward the door to speak with Dawvid Hadden.
"THERE's a fine nicht, Maister Gibb," said Dawvid
Hadden, in a tone of much affability, on Johnny Gibb
showing himself at the door of Gushetneuk at the time already
mentioned. "No — aw canna bide to come in. I've forder
to gae, ye see. Aw was jist wuntin a fyou minutes' discoorse
on a maitter o' buzness."
"Weel, ye 'll jist sit as chaep 's stan'," said Johnny, sententiously.
"But please yersel'."
"A-y," exclaimed Dawvid, with a prolonged sound, and
searching his breast pocket deep down. "That's vera keerious.
Aw thocht aw hed a' my material here. Hooever, ye can
maybe gi'e 's pen an' ink gin we requar't — an' as ye say,
Maister Gibb, we'll sit as chaep 's stan'."
With this Dawvid went inside without more ado. After
graciously saluting Mrs. Gibb, and making some further demonstrations
in the way of professing to produce papers,
Dawvid said —
"Well, I joost cam' owre bye as seen 's aw cud get some
oder things arreeng't aifter Sir Simon leeft to forquant ye
that we hed resolv't to straucht the mairch atween you an'
Clinkstyle, clippin' aff that lang heugh an' the bit burnside fae
him, an' pitten 't tee to Gushetneuk. There 's jist — lat me see,
I hae 't here till an ell — twa awcre an' aboot half a reed — It's
prime intoon grun, ye ken."
Dawvid had not been so definite about the measurement
with Sir Simon; but it would not do to indicate weakness on
that point to a mere tenant. He would have gone on to
descant on the advantages that would acrue to the farmer of
Gushetneuk from the proposed addition, but at this stage,
Johnny Gibb, who had been a little taciturn hitherto, broke
in —
"An' ye 're nae tir't yet meddlin' wi' fat ye ca' the layin'
oot o' fowk's grun? I thocht ye hed gotten aboot as muckle,
short syne, as wud 'a sair't maist fowk at that trade. Hooever,
it maksna futher ye he leein' or tellin' the trowth this time;
a' that I hae to say is, that I 'm nae tacksman langer nor the
term, an' hae naething adee wi' 't. An' I'se only tell ye that
ye mith be a hantle better employ't nor makin' dispeace amo'
neebour fowk — feint ane 'll thank ye for cheengin the mairch."
Dawvid evidently had not expected this style of retort.
He was put out accordingly, and only managed to blurt out —
"It's Sir Simon's enstructions to me at ony rate."
"Maybe," said Johnny, curtly. "We've heard fowk speak
o' 'Sir Seemon's enstructions' lang ere noo, fan Sir Seemon
beheev't to be haud'n on the ill gate that he was gyaun b' them
that ackit the pairt o' mere seecophants till 'im, or tyeuk a
pride in rinnin Sawtan's erran's onbidden."
"Weel, Maister Gibb," said Dawvid, with a forced attempt
at hilarity, "we sanna cast oot aboot aul' scores; fowk sudna
keep up um'rage aifter things is ance past, ye ken. Sir
Simon's mair o' a gentleman — "
"It's nae Sir Seemon 't we're speaking aboot eenoo," interjected
Johnny, abruptly.
"Weel, Gushets, I 'm only Sir Simon's — servan'," pursued
Dawvid, in a nonplussed sort of way.
"I'm weel awaar o' that; an' gin ye hed been aye content
to dee an honest servan's pairt ye wud 'a been a muckle mair
respeckit man nor ye are this day."
Whether it was in accordance with proper etiquette in
Johnny Gibb to invite Dawvid Hadden into his house, and
then "heckle" him after this fashion, I shall not pretend to
say; but of this I am certain that the proceeding was in entire
accordance with the whole tenor of Johnny's general procedure,
and could not be construed into anything of the nature
of intentional rudeness. That it was rudeness at all could
be admitted only on the principle that it is rude in a man to
utter his honest opinion in plain words. Anyhow, the collapse
on Dawvid Hadden's part was somewhat marked.
Fairly dismounted from his high horse, he found refuge for
once in the literal truth.
"I'm nae here o' wull, I 'se asseer ye; but to cairry oot
Sir Simon's doon-laid orders. He wuntit to ken immedantly
fat was auchtin you for fat ye laid oot upo' that — place at
the Ward."
"Fat place? The skweel? Little won'er nor ye think
shame to mak' mention o' 't, man. Haud'n you an' the like o'
ye awa', it mith 'a been a blessin' to the pairt at this day, an'
for generations to come. Tell Sir Seemon that it stan's there
the reproach o' 's estate, an' 'll rise up in jeedgment yet against
them 't has the swick o' makin' 't a desolation."
"I must go, ony wye," said Dawvid, rising to his feet, and
taking out his memorandum book. "Will ye obleege b' jist
gi'ein' 's the figure o' fat ye laid oot on 't?"
"I nedder can nor wull," replied Johnny, in a decisive
tone. "Fan ye carriet things, 's ye did, the black gate, that's
a sma' affair, an' the tow may gae wi' the bucket. It'll be
time aneuch to speak o' that fan anither tenan' comes till 't."
"There'll be no oder tenan' there — it 'll be knockit doon;
but Sir Simon wunts to vrang no man o' 's money ye better
mention a soom."
"I'll dee naething o' the kin'. Gin ye gi'e Sir Seemon a
true account o' fat I've said to ye this minit, I 'se be content."
When Dawvid Hadden had left Gushetneuk, and had got
time to glance calmly at the situation, the temper of mind in
which he found himself was the reverse of amiable. He had
an uncomfortable impression that the representative of law
and authority had after all come off not exactly "first best"
in the interview that had just ended, and then what was he to
report to Sir Simon? That Johnny Gibb had snubbed him,
and sent him away without any proper answer to the inquiry
that had brought him there? Dawvid felt irritated in a high
degree; and I daresay there was a certain advantage in this,
after all, for as he toddled across the fields toward Clinkstyle,
the feeling of irritation merged into a sort of savage resolution
to march right on, and fearlessly beard the Birses in their own
den. This thought carried Dawvid on rather briskly for a
space; yet I think he was on the whole somewhat relieved
mentally when he suddenly stumbled upon Peter Birse, senior,
stalking along the end rig of one of his fields, at the distance
of nearly a couple of hundred yards from the "steadin'."
Dawvid strode firmly up to Peter, with the intention of at once
announcing Sir Simon's proposal, and securing Clinkstyle's
assent to it.
"There's a mochie nicht, Clinkies," said Dawvid, gravely.
"A mochie nicht, Dawvid," answered Peter, in an uncertain
kind of tone.
"I've gotten a bit dockiment here to get yer percurrence
till, than," continued Dawvid, thrusting his hand into his
"I howp it's nae neen o' that duty papers — about rinnin
horse, nor coach kin' o' viackles, nor naething?" asked Peter
Birse, uneasily.
"No, no," said Dawvid. "I dinna enterfere wi' fat 's nae
buzness o' mine. — I've to do only wi' the lan'. Sir Simon's
resolv't to rectify the boondary atween you an' Gushetneuk.
Luik here (and he pointed down the brae), takin' a swype
clean doon fae that bit elbuck at the back o' your infeedle, to
the burn side, an' cuttin' aff twa awcre odds o the lang point."
"Nae the ootwuth nyeuk o' fat we ca' the Pardes park —
we hinna grun like it upo' the place?"
"That's the spot," said Dawvid, decisively.
"An' fat wud he be gi'ein' 's b' wye o' excamb like?"
"Nothing, nothing," answered Dawvid. "An coorse
there'll be an allooance ta'en aff o' the rent fan we get it calculat."

"Man, that's sair," exclaimed Peter Birse, in a pitiful
"Weel, it's not my arreengement, ye k-no," said Dawvid
Hadden, "but that's fat I've to get your consent till. So
ye 'll better jist say that ye 're agreeable at ance; an' nae deteen
me nae langer."
"Na — na; aw cudna dee 't upon nae accoont," and Peter
began to move away as he spoke. "Ye wud need to come in
aboot to the toon at ony rate, Dawvid, man, afore we cud
speak aboot onything o' the kin'."
"Oh, I've nothing ado gaen to yer toon," said Dawvid, as
he slowly followed his retreating interlocutor. "It's you that
I hae to sattle wi' as fairmer o' the place, that 's the short an'
the lang o' 't. — Fat am I to say to Sir Simon, than?" added
Dawvid, in a louder and more imperious tone.
"She's jist at han'; it winna hin'er ye nae time," replied
Peter, moving on rather faster than before.
Dawvid Hadden knew perfectly well what it all meant;
only if Mrs. Birse had to be faced — why he was just the man
to do it. "It's a keerious thing," said Dawvid, "that some
fowk cudna ca' the niz o' their face their nain withoot speerin
To this sarcasm Peter Birse made no reply.
Mrs. Birse had happily observed the approach of her husband
and Dawvid Hadden from the parlour window, and it
was but the work of a moment to call her servant maid and
say, "Gae to the door there, an' gar yer maister tak' that —
person — to the kitchie!"
It was in the "kitchie," then, that the present interview
between Dawvid Hadden and Mrs. Birse took place. When
the lady was sent for she sailed majestically "ben" to that
apartment, took her stand near the door, and, with a becoming
toss of the head, uttered the monosyllable "Weel?"
Dawvid Hadden had succeeded this time in restraining
his impulse to mention the state of the weather; and in so
doing, left himself barren of a topic for the moment.
"Noo, ye better jist say awa', Dawvid, an' tell her fat ye
was speakin' aboot," remarked Peter Birse.
With a sort of bravado air, Dawvid then repeated Sir
Simon's proposed "rectification of the frontier" of Clinkstyle.
"Onything mair, noo?" asked Mrs. Birse, with a look that
would like enough have "withered" Dawvid, had that process
not been pretty effectively performed on his hard, skinny
person previously. "Ye 're seerly owre modest the nicht i'
yer thiggin!"
"Gin there's onything mair ye 'll lickly hear o' 't in 'ts nain
time," answered Dawvid, sharply. "Lat the thing that we
cam' here aboot he sattl't i' the first place."
"Indeed! I sud think I ken my place better nor be forespoken
by ony oon'er — servan' — at ony rate."
"I dinna k-no fa ye refar till," said Dawvid; "but gin ye
gae muckle forder a-lenth ye 'll maybe gar me lowse o' ye the
richt gate; that's a'."
"Noo — noo, dinna come to heich words, sirs," interposed
Peter Birse.
"I'm only wuntin a plain, ceevil answer till a vera legible
question to tak' back to my maister," continued Dawvid, "an'
that I'll hae."
"My compliments to yer maister, than," said Mrs. Birse,
"an' tell him that there's people that k-no's their richts, an'
foo far the law o' the lan' 'll cairry him or the like o' 'im; or
than the best lawvyers in Aiberdeen 'll be sair mista'en.
We're nae at that yet that we're needin' to be trampit upon
aiven b' them that ca's themsel's nobility."
Having uttered this speech, Mrs. Birse turned and sailed
away to the parlour again in even a more stately style than
before. Dawvid, who had just been getting up steam, and
who felt that, with the hints afforded him by Meg Raffan, he
would speedily get into good trim for sustaining a continued
onset with Mrs. Birse, was thus suddenly left high and dry,
with only Peter Birse, senior, in a powerless, half-frightened
state, before him. He could get no approach to a definite
reply, of course, from Peter, who was able only in a faint
way to deplore and deprecate a rupture with the laird, which
seemed so imminent. And Dawvid departed with the
terrible threat to Peter Birse, senior, "Weel, weel, ye 'll jist
hae to stan' the consequences," but otherwise little enough
satisfied with the results of his visit, and slightly at a loss as
to the terms in which he was to report to Sir Simon.
It was in vain that Dawvid Hadden, on his way home,
bothered his brains to devise a way of avoiding Meg Raffan
till the events of his afternoon's journey should be stale news,
or at least until he had fully collected his thoughts on the
subject. What mattered it that he stole quietly up to his
house through the old fir-trees, so as to steer clear of the
Lodge where Meg dwelt. He had barely been five minutes
under his own roof when Meg, with leisurely step, entered,
conscious of her right on this occasion to get the news in full
tale. And Dawvid, when fairly put to it, gave a narrative,
the distinguishing characteristic of which, as Meg Raffan
herself would have expressed it, was the disposition indicated
to "Mak' a' face that wud be face."
"H—m, weel, Gushets was fell nabal at the ootset — mair
sae nor ye wud a' luiket for, aw daursay. But i' the lang rin,
aifter I hed latt'n 'im get oot 's breath a bittie, he cam' tee
won'erfu'; an' fan I cam' to the prencipal thing — fat was
yawin 'im for the reef o' the skweel, he ackit like a gentleman.
"Naething, Dawvid,' says he, 'naething; mak' yer best o' 't.'
Nothing cud be mair rizzonable in a menner nor that. — Na,
's ye say, 't 's nae lang till Gushets gi'e ye edder alms or
answer. Ou, weel, Birse was jist like 'imsel'. I hed hardly
apen't my mou' till 'im, fan we forgedder't at the fit o' the
loan, till he was hingin' 's lugs like ony supplicant. To the
hoose he wud be, an' to the hoose he gaed. No, no, it was i'
the kitchie 't I saw 'er — I wasna wuntin naar their parlour,
I'se asseer ye. Weel, gin she wasna ensolent, my name's
nae Dawvid Hadden. Hooever, 't 's Sir Simon 't she'll hae
to be answerable till for that. But gin I didna grip 'er in aboot,
I did naething to the purpose, that 's a'. Aw b'lieve she
sochtna lang o' my company, at ony rate."
Meg's advice to Dawvid was to report very adversely of
the Birses to Sir Simon Frissal, and Dawvid was nothing
loth, merely adding the remark that of course one could not
give so full and effective a narrative as might be wished in a
"vrutten dockiment."
WHEN "the spring day" came round, it found Johnny
Gibb still occupied in attending to the completion of
the fabric of Mr. MacCassock's new manse; and then he had
begun to carry out his idea of preparing a separate habitation
for himself at Gushetneuk. It had been suggested to Johnny
that this operation would be in good time, as he need not be
disturbed in his occupancy of the whole house as tenant till
Whitsunday. Johnny's reply was that "the thing that 's deen
the day winna be adee the morn, an' I may be deid an' buriet
gin Whitsunday." In short, Johnny had resolved to push forward
the arrangements connected with his quitting the position
of tenant.
Hairry Muggart was architect-in-chief in the adjustment
of Johnny Gibb's residence. It was Hairry's practice to
season the dry details of labour with abundance of wholesome
discourse, and he accordingly expatiated amply to both
Johnny and Mrs. Gibb on the various conveniences that
might be combined in their new dwelling. And then Hairry's
thoughts reverted to his own pitiful prospect of being out of
his house and croft at Whitsunday.
"Man, gin I could get but four wa's an' a bit reef ony wye
i' the neibourheid!" said Hairry.
"An' fat sud hin'er ye?" asked Johnny Gibb. "There's
the aul' skweel roon at the Ward 's stan't teem till a gweed
hoose 'll be connach't."
"Ou, but they wudna gi'e 't to nae ane, Gushets. It's
gyaun to be dung doon."
"Fa taul ye that, Hairry?"
"Weel, it 's nae ca'd aboot story," answered Hairry. "It
was jist Dawvid Hadden 'imsel'."
"An' foo muckle dee ye believe o' fat he says?" said
Johnny. "Win'y, leein' bodie."
"Weel, I hae kent Dawvid slide a bittie files. An' aw 'm
seer I 'm neen obleeg't till him."
"Slide, Hairry, man! It's i' the vera natur o' 'im to lee b'
word o' mou', an' haudin 'imsel' oot to be fat he's nae — dinna
ye think the tane jist as ill's the tither?"
The result of Johnny Gibb's advice was that Hairry
Muggart took coach next morning for Aberdeen to see Mr.
Greenspex, the factor. And Hairry returned in great spirits,
inasmuch as the factor, without once mentioning the name of
Dawvid Hadden, had said if Johnny Gibb, the only man who
had any claim on the fabric of the old schoolhouse, agreed to
the arrangement, Hairry was at full liberty to occupy it from
Whitsunday onward; indeed his acceptance of it would fall
in opportunely with a proposal of Mr. Greenspex's own, and
would relieve both the factor and Sir Simon from the uncomfortable
thought of turning an old tenant off the estate. Then
Hairry had a perfect budget of general news to unfold; but
as Johnny Gibb was not a patient listener, except on certain
subjects, he did not get his "crap" fully cleared, until a
favourable opportunity occurred when Johnny was absent.
With Mrs. Gibb and Mary Howie for his auditors, Hairry,
who had set himself down on the deece for a rest, proceeded —
"Ay, but I wauger ye winna guess, Mary, fa I met i' the
toon, the vera first kent face? Na, it wasna the minaister,
though I gat a went o' him tee. Weel it was jist aul' Peter
Birse, o' Clinkstyle. As I cam' up the Green, fa sud be stannin
there gowpin an' luikin at the antic mannie o' the Wall,
but Peter. 'Loshtie me, Hairry, man,' says he, 'fan cam' ye
in?' 'Jist fan the coach lichtit,' says I — 'Fan cam' ye?' Ou
weel, Peter begood to tell 's that they hed been in sin' the
streen. 'Is the goodwife wi' ye,' says I. 'Ou ay, an' they're
awa' eenoo luikin aboot some furniture an' things.' I didna
like to catecheese 'im forder, 'cause aw saw 't he was some
bauch kin' o' the subjeck. Hooever, him an' me staps aboot
i' the market a filie, an' syne I tyeuk 'im in an' gya 'im the half
o' a bottle o' ale, an' he grew a gweed hantle crackier. 'We're
in aboot a new viackle kin' o' a thing, Hairry,' says Peter.
'Oor aul' gig was some sair awa' wi' 't, an' noo fan the creators
is growin' up an' ae thing or anther, she thocht it wud be
better to get it niffer't for a kin' o' box't-in concern — ye mith
come up to the coachmakker's an' see 't.' So awa' we goes,
an' jist 's we cam' up to Union Street fa sud we meet fair i'
the chafts, but Mrs. Birse paraudin awa', an' an aul' doowager
wi' 'er, haudin a curryborum 's gin they hed been sisters —
awat she was stickin' to the doowager; an' a wee bittie awa'
I sees the loon Benjie Birse — dress't like a laird — hingin in to
Maister MacCassock, airm-in-airm wi' 'im. Peter gya a kin'
o' skair't glent, an' daccl't, an' says he, 'Na, that's her, an' oor
Benjie, tee — they hinna notic't 's.' 'Nae lickly,' says I, but
wi' that I saw brawly that Madame was takin' a vizzy o' Peter
an' me wi' the tail o' 'er e'e a' the time — Ou na, aw daursay
the minaister sawna's; the loon Birse 't was atweesh him an'
huz strade past 's fader an' me like a bubblyjock wi' 's tail up,
on-winkit 's e'e. Hooever, aw got oot o' Peter that this doowager
sud be some aunt, or siclike, o' the minaister's 't bides
i' the toon; an' 'her an' her,' 's Peter said, wus wylin furniture
to Maister MacCassock. Awa' up we gaes to the coachmakker's
an' sees the new 'viackle.' — Fat like is 't? Weel,
Mary, it wud bleck an unctioneer to tell you that. It's a kin'
o' muckle box-barrow i' the boddom pairt, set on upo' four
wheels, an' syne it has a closin'-in heid-piece concern that
min's me, for a' the earth, upon a match that my wife hed
ance wi' a byous muckle squar' kell — awat it's a close carriage,
wi' a dickey for the driver. Jist bide ye noo, fan there's nae
ither body to ca', aul' Peter 'imsel' 'll be set up o' the dickey.
Oh, it's nae new, an' the man hed ta'en back the aul' gig for
pairt paymen'. 'It cost a gey penny, I can tell ye,' says Peter.
'Ay, but ye see fat it is to be braw i' yer aul' age,' says I.
Peter an' me toddl't aboot a lang time; an', at lenth, fan we
wus wearin' up the wye o' the stabler's, i' the Back Wynd, up
comes Mrs. Birse wi' a byous fraise — 'Keep me, Hairry,' says
she, 'fa wud 'a expeckit to see you in Aiberdeen.' 'Weel,
we're nae very easy seen files, though we 're nae jist a mote
a'thegither,' says I. 'I'm jist worn aff o' my feet gyaun o' the
hard stanes,' says she. 'Ye see we tint him there i' the foraneen,
an' I've been seekin' 'im this file, an' was growin' rael
eargh aboot 'im, Hairry; for there's sae mony mishanters 't
we hear o' happenin' wi' the like o' 'im 't 's kent to be fae the
kwintra, wi' ill company an' that, gowin' them owre, an' takin'
siller aff o' them.' An' wi' this she cheenges her key. — Ou,
ay, the loon Benjie was wi' 'er, an' as frank 's frank, noo. Ye
see we wus aff o' the prencipal street wi' the braw fowk on 't,
an' naebody but a fyou ostlers an' cabmen, an' a man wi' a
san' cairt seein' 's. 'Weel, Maister Muggart,' says she, 'it's
not an easy thing to hae the upfeshin o' a faimily fan fowk
tries to dee their duty an' get them sattl't i' the wordle. Oh,
it's nae you, Benjamin, your buzness requares a muckle ootlay
— (the loon hed scowl't at her, ye ken) — but though I say't
mysel', Hairry, his nain maister says he wudna pairt wi' 'im
for goold. It's 'Liza, peer thing, that I was mintin at; she 'II
hae a solemn chairge on 'er heid, nae doot. But ye winna
differ wi' me, Hairry, fan aw say 't it wudna 'a luikit weel to
lat her come in eenoo. An' fan Maister MacCassock loot
licht that he was thinkin' o' buyin' the furniture to the manse
I cudna dee less nor offer to come wi' 'im.' This was as
muckle 's lattin oot the pooder aboot the mairriage to me, ye
see; so I tak's 'er up, an' says I, 'Aw'm vera glaid 't yer
dother's gettin' sic a bargain; we wus luikin at the new viackle;
it'll jist be ooncommon weel confeerin to the new connection.'
— Foo cud aw say that? Gae awa' wi' ye, Mary, 'oman; yer
nain waddin 'll be here in a crack, an' aw'm seer ye wudna
like to hae neen o' the bucklin's mislippen't. 'Weel, Hairry,
it's been a muckle thocht to me,' says she. 'For ye see it's
a Gweed's trowth that we're nae the rowlers o' oor nain acks
oon'er Providence; an' fan fowk 's call't till occupee a parteeclar
spear ('s we've been af'en taul oot o' the poolpit) they
maun tak' the responsibility alang wi' 't; aiven though they
sud become a mark for the envious speeches o' the people o'
this wordle.' 'Vera true, Mrs. Birse,' says I, 'but that's a
spawcious machine; an' I 'll be boun' Sir Seemon 'imsel'
canna turn oot ane wi' a mair jinniprous heid-piece.' So she
gya a bit keckle o' a lauch, an' says she, 'Ah, weel, Hairry,
it beheeves ither fowk to ken fat belangs them as weel's Sir
Seemon.' By this it was vera naar coach time, so I staps
awa' doon, nae to loss my seat. Peter an' her tee wud 'a fain
made oot fat I was deein' i' the toon; but aw b'lieve I madena
them muckle wiser. Ou, weel, aw dinna doot nor they'll
be come hame i' the new viackle by this time. An' jist bide
ye still, gin ye dinna see a turn-oot worth the pains, I sanna
bid ye b'lieve my word again."
It was not long till Hairry Maggart had permitted his
journey to Aberdeen to become publicly known in its main
features. What had previously been little more than vague
conjecture concerning the marriage of Mr. MacCassock to
Miss Birse, seemed then to have grown into a matter of certainty,
and the community of Pyketillim speculated and criticised
THE new domiciliary arrangements at Gushetneuk had
barely been completed when Johnny Gibb's health began
to give way. For many years, Johnny had not had a
single day's sickness, but now he had, to use his own expression,
"grown as dwebble an' fushionless as a wallant leaf."
What the precise nature of his complaint was nobody knew:
unless the doctor did, which was doubtful, but certain it was
that Johnny was not thriving physically, and he felt it his
duty to put his house fully in order. He hastened on the
marriage of his wife's niece, Mary Howie, to enable him to
quit the active management of the farm of Gushetneuk; and
he then set about the settlement of his worldly affairs generally.
"Ou, we winna dee a single day seener o' haein' ony bit
tes'ment that we're needin' made," said Johnny, in discussing
the point with Mrs. Gibb. "Ye'll get the souter an' the
smith owre bye — an' Sandy Peterkin. Sandy's gweed at the
pen; an' they 'll be the executors — Hoot, 'oman, dinna be
snifterin that gate, aw 'm nae awa' yet. But there's nane o' 's
has a siccar tack o' life, ye ken; an' aw'm seer it 's a gryte
comfort to you an' me tee, to hae fowk so weel wordy o' bein'
lippen't till in oor sma' affairs."
"An' the merchan'," suggested Mrs. Gibb, who found
some difficulty in maintaining her composure, as Johnny
wished her, "wudnin he be ta'en in?"
"Ye're foryettin the triffle that 's lyin' wi' 'im," said
Johnny. "There's him an' Willy M'Aul baith weel aneuch
fit to be trustit. But it's aye best to keep clear accoonts, aiven
wi' yer nearest freens. Noo, ye ken, the tae half o' the savin's
o' oor time 's lyin' oot wi' the merchan' an' Willy."
"But ye wudna seek to tak' it up!"
"Never, never. Fat better eese cud ye mak' o' 't. But
nedder the tane nor the tither o' them wud wunt to be trustee
owre fat 's i' their nain han'."
"An' ye wud need the minaister tee."
"The minaister!" exclaimed Johnny Gibb. "Aw won'er
to hear ye, 'oman. Only fat need aw say that? It's the thing
that we wus a' brocht up wi'. The minaister to mak' yer tes'-
ment an' 'say a prayer,' fan it comes to the push an' ye canna
better dee. An' syne tak' an oonwillin' fareweel o' the wardle.
That min's me upo' aul' Sprottie, fan he was makin' 's will;
tes'mentin' this an' tes'mentin' that, 'an' syne there's the twal
owsen pleuch ;'but aye he pat aff sayin' fa wud get it — sweir
to think aboot pairtin wi' 't. An' at the lang lenth, fan a'thing
else was will't awa', an' the minaister speer't again, 'Weel,
there's the ploo now?' an' says Sprottie, 'Ou, weel, Doctor,
aw think aw 'll keep the pleuchie to mysel' aifter a'.'"
"Hoot, man," said Mrs. Gibb, half shocked at Johnny's
apparent levity in the circumstances.
"Weel, weel, a body canna help a bit idle thocht rinnin
i' their heid. There's nae ill o' speakin' o' the aul' man —
peer ignorant stock. He 's awa' mony a day sin' syne; but
there's mony ane jist as oonwillin to tyne the grip's him,
till this day. Hooever, that's nedder here nor there, we're
nae to coontenance settin' the minaister on to ony sic thing.
He's oor spiritooal guide, an' ochtna to be made a mere convainience
for the sattlement o' oor war'dly affairs. Fat cud
that be but tryin' to entangle him wi' the things o' this life —
wastin' 's time, that sud be gi'en to the office o' the ministry.
I won'er fat the Apos'le Paul wud hae said to be socht to dee
the buzness o' a screevener, or lawvyer, vreetin oot papers fa
was to get this an' fa was to get the tither thing? Wudnin he
taul the man that spak' o' sic a thing that his ministry o' the
gospel deman'it ither things o' 'im? Ah, weel, wee], I daursay
there 's twa three points o' difference atween Paul an' a time-servin'
moderate like :Mister Sleekaboot — an' a body cud weel
believe that the like o' oor pairis' minaister wud be the best
han' o' the twa to seek in aboot fan a puckle gear hed to be
Johnny Gibb then had his own way in the making of his
will. Sandy Peterkin, who modestly rated his legal knowledge
and clerkly capabilities a good deal lower than Johnny did,
was diffident of undertaking the duty asked of him; but Johnny
would have no "na-say." So the will was made out, Johnny
taking care to make Mrs. Gibb's comfort secure in the first
place. He then did by every relative he had according to his
own idea of justice; and in every case Johnny took into
account the use that had been made of such previous assistance
as he had given them. "It's nae eese to gi'e siller till a
man gin it be only to gar 'im grow lazier; or gae awa' an' mak'
ill bargains," said Johnny. "We sud try to keep it rinnin
faur it 'll be paymen' for honest, eesefu' wark, an' gi'e industrious
fowk the means o' makin' a liveliheid; aye keepin' in
min' the claims o' charity an' the gospel." And on these
principles Johnny Gibb based the ultimate settlement of his
worldly affairs, the Free Church of Pyketillim being set down
for a future special donation; as well as the general funds of
the Free Church.
The making of Johnny Gibb's will was an event that cast
a sombre shade over the small community amongst whom
Johnny moved; and all the more that after it had been done,
Johnny's state of health worsened considerably, so that he was
unable to make his appearance at church, or indeed leave his
home at Gushetneuk to go anywhere.
"Eh, but he'll be a sair-miss't man, Maister Peterkin,"
said Meg Raffan, addressing our old friend, whom she had
been fortunate enough to catch in Mr. Will's shop alone.
"Fat he's deen for your Free Kirk ae gate or anither! An'
nae doot a gweed man like him winna foryet ye i' the tes'ment."
"He's been a vera upricht, honest man, an' an eesefu',"
replied Sandy. "There's fyou like 'im, I can tell ye, Mistress
"Fowk will speak, ye ken," pursued Meg, "an' there was
that bodie Dawvid Hadden gabbin awa', as though he sud
ken that Gushets's lost sae muckle wi' len'in' triffles to peer
kin' o' fowk, an' muckier sooms to them that it wudna be easy
to uplift it fae again, that the goodwife 'll be leeft a hantle
barer nor fowk wud think — But though I be sayin' that to
you, Maister Peterkin, aw wudna for the wardle turn owre a
word that mith pass atween 's ootside o' this chop door; — Eh,
forbid it! but I was jist richt ill pay't to hear onything o' the
kin' gyaun aboot fowk 't aw respeckit sae weel."
"Ou na, it wudna dee to speak aboot ither fowk's affairs,"
said Sandy, with the utmost simplicity. "We've naething
adee wi' that, ye ken, ava."
"Na, but aw wudna mention't it till a leevin' creatur but
yersel', that Gushets hed aye sic a reliance till."
"I'm muckle obleeg't; but I was ill wordy o' bein' lippen't
till b' sic a man — It 'll be a sair loss to the pairt fan it losses
John Gibb."
"Weel, weel, that 's the stories that's gyaun," said Meg,
baffled in her purpose of drawing information from Sandy
Peterkin. "But aw'm richt glaid to hear ye say that the
goodwife's stan'in' oot sae wee'; for I was byous anxious to
hear aboot'er, aifter aw kent that Gushets was thocht to be
wearin' awa'."
WHEN Peter Birse, senior, went down to the Broch at
the January market, in 1848, it being a sort of
feeing-market, and Peter being in want of a man to fill a
vacancy in his staff of servants, caused by a recent quarrel
and dismissal, he had received this instruction —
"Noo, ye'll see an' get a smairt, genteel lad; an' tell 'im
that he 'll be expeckit, gin the spring day war in, to drive a
fawmily convaiyance to the kirk every Sabbath; an' to be
providit wi' a silk hat o' 's nain, an' claith breeks; he'll get
glives an' a licht neckcloth fae 's employers."
In short, Mrs. Birse, acting with her usual foresight,
wished to arrange, by anticipation, for the proper driving of
the new vehicle. What she aimed at was a servant set out in
a sort of subdued livery.
Peter Birse diligently endeavoured to carry out his wife's
behest, but received from several likely-looking chaps whom
he sounded an unceremonious rebuff. "Na, sang, gin we
work sax days i' the ouk we dee brawly; ye can ca' yersel' to
the kirk, laird. Ye 'll need-a try some ither ane to be a flunkey
to ye; we're nae come to that yet freely." So said number
one; and numbers two and three repeated it with slight
variations. The day was wearing on, and Peter getting the
reverse of hopeful, when he encountered the red-haired orra
man who had officiated as best young man at the marriage of
Peter Birse, junior. The red-haired orra man, who had been
offering himself to fee in a free and easy sort of way, but had
not encountered anybody who met his terms, was approaching
the state known as "bleezin." Peter Birse, senior, averred
that he, personally, was "chilpy stan'in' aboot amo' the
gutters," whereupon the red-haired orra man declared they
ought to go inside, and they did so. As they sat in Kirkie's
tent, and refreshed themselves with the gill which the orra
man had called, Peter proceeded to lay out the difficulties of
the mission he had presently in hand. It was not that he
thought of asking the red-haired orra man to undertake the
duties of the situation, but that the latter, in his somewhat
elevated condition, conceived the notion that it would be a
good "rig" to engage himself to Peter as the "genteel" lad
wanted. Peter Birse, senior, had some hazy doubts, which,
however, a second gill dispelled, and the red-haired orra man
was engaged to return once again to Clinkstyle, and there to
officiate as coachman as required.
Naturally the announcement that Peter Birse, senior, had
to make as to the result of his efforts in the market ensured
for him a somewhat "snell" reception on his return. However,
there was no use in declaiming against accomplished
facts. All that could be done was to make the best of things
as they were. And Mrs. Birse was fully determined that this
should be done.
She had made sundry tentative excursions here and there
in the new "viackle," but it was only when Sir Simon Frissal
had returned to the locality in the beginning of the month of
April that she resolved to turn out in full style. Sir Simon,
as was well known, drove along to the parish kirk at the same
hour precisely, every Sabbath day that he was at home and
in health; and the modest scheme devised was to time the
departure of the Clinkstyle carriage, so as that it should at
any rate cross Sir Simon's carriage at a favourable spot, if it
were not found possible even to drive half alongside the laird
a little space where the two kirk routes concurred. To accomplish
all this Mrs. Birse judiciously coaxed and flattered
the red-haired orra man, giving him assurance how well he
looked when properly "cleaned," and his coat buttoned. She
would fain have had sight of his Sunday wardrobe, but had
to be content with the general statement that it was "spleet
new fae the nap o' the bonnet to the point o' the taebit."
Sunday came, the carriage was trundled out, and it was with
a kind of dignified satisfaction that Mrs. Birse saw the red-haired
orra man bustling about, minus his coat and hat,
"yokin'" the carriage horse. The family had taken their
seats, not without a kind of protest from Miss Birse, who, to
her mother's great disappointment, had as yet failed to exhibit
any symptoms of satisfaction with the carriage scheme.
They were ready to start, when Mrs. Birse was horrified by
seeing the red-haired orra man mount the dickey with an unmistakable
sample of the broad blue bonnet on his head. It
was one of those substantial bonnets that were wont to be
manufactured on big knitting wires, and the "nap," or top,
was formed of a huge bunch of worsted, wrought up right in
the centre of the bonnet. The orra man spoke truly in saying
it was "spleet new," for the bonnet had evidently been
purchased for that very occasion, as its extraordinary circumference
and bulk testified. Mrs. Birse started indignantly,
and uttered an exclamation which was a sort of half protest
against the orra man, and half reproach to Peter Birse, senior,
who had crammed himself into one of the back corners of the
"viackle," and wore an extremely uncomfortable look. But
the carriage was already in motion, and the driver seemed
noway disposed to interrupt his progress for any mere incidental
utterance. He rattled on mercilessly over the roughly-causewayed
road leading out from the steading of Clinkstyle
to the highway proper. Then in a trice they were into the
head of the stream of kirk-going people, many of whom the
red-haired orra man saluted with great familiarity, nodding
his portentous bonnet, and flourishing his whip, while once
and again he called out to an old cronie, "Hilloa, lad; there 's
the style for you!" Attempts at remonstrating and checking
this reckless course were, it need not be said, utterly out of
the question in the circumstances. Mrs. Birse strove hard to
cover her wrath with an air of sanctimonious resignation,
while Peter Birse, who timidly watched her face with a lively
apprehension of the after consequences, looked increasingly
ill at ease, and Miss Birse and her brother Rob, in so far as
they could make themselves heard, concurred, though on
different grounds, in the folly of ever setting a fellow like the
red-haired orra man to drive. Rob, who kept his equanimity
better than any of the others, seized the opportunity of reminding
his mother that he had been perfectly willing to act as
driver, adding, with a feeling of satisfaction, that he "kent a
hantle better aboot ca'in' horse nor that gype did. — An' here's
the laird's carriage," added Rob, as sure enough it was. And
the orra man rattled on. To cross Sir Simon's carriage in
proper style had been Mrs. Birse's highest ambition. But the
vision of that horrible "braid bonnet" with its big "nap"
passing in view of the dignified baronet lying back on his
velvet cushion was enough to make one faint away, without
the addition of those deplorable vulgarities on the part of the
red-haired orra man in cracking his whip, and shouting to
Sir Simon's coachman to "Ca' awa', min, or gae oot o' ither
fowk's road."
Mrs. Birse did not faint away; but when the "viackle"
reached the church, and pulled up in the midst of many
loitering, eagerly-gazing onlookers, she threw open the door
and preceded her daughter into the church with a severely
devotional air.
Next day the duty devolved on Peter Birse of informing
the red-haired orra man that his services were no longer required
at Clinkstyle. The orra man did not much mind.
He swore a little, and demanded wages for the time he had
laboured, which was conceded, and Peter Birse, in filling his
place, was not asked to look out for another coachman.
"Eh, but that was a precious discoorse 't we gat on
Sabbath," said Mrs. Birse, addressing her daughter two days
after the incidents last recorded. "There 's naething to be
luikit for in this wordle but cheenges an' disappointments.
Sic a blessin' 's it is to be near conneckit wi' a man like
Maister MacCassock. Aw cud not 'a been on-min'et upo'
Gushetneuk, peer man, fan he spak' so edifyin' aboot foo little
wor'dly riches cud dee for 's fan the day o' affliction or the oor
o' deeth cam'."
"Mr. Gibb 's not dyin', he's some better," said Miss Birse.
"Eh, 'Liza, fat cud gar ye think that — the man 's been
gi'en owre this aucht days near. An' forbye that, didna ye
hear 'm pray't for wi' yer nain — ears?"
"Well; the minister pray't for his recovery."
"Oh, 'Liza,'oman, fan did ever ye hear a person pray't for
that wusna dyin'; tell me that?"
Miss Birse was evidently unconvinced of the futility of
prayer for the sick except when the subject of it was, as the
doctors say, in articulo mortis, or certainly entering on that
state. As little was her mother to be shaken in her belief on
the point, which indeed was the popular belief in Pyketillim.
But Mrs. Birse had a lingering suspicion of the quarter from
which her daughter's information had come, and she had just
put the question, "Did ye see Mrs. Wull i' yer roun's the
streen?" when the servant girl knocked at the parlour door,
and handed in a letter, with the remark, "That's a letter to
the Mistress, 't the merchan's laddie fuish jist eenoo."
"Letter to me, 'Liza! It 's fae yer nown broder Benjamin.
Foo i' the wordle hisna he vrutten to you as eeswal.
I howp he 's weel aneuch — See, read it there — I hinna my
The latter sentence was a sort of euphemism which, literally
explained, would have helped to account for Benjamin Birse
ordinarily addressing his sister directly in place of his mother.
Miss Birse broke open the note, and read as follows:—
"DEAR MOTHER, — I hope father and you will open this — not Eliza.
What a precious ass you've made of me, saying that MacCassock was
to marry Eliza; and me going toadying them like this till yesterday,
when his aunt offered to introduce me to a Miss Catchbands, 'her
nephew's intended wife.' The old hag says it 's all settled to be in
a month.
"That's what I call doing the greenhorn and no mistake. However,
it's easy enough to cut them here; and just shave my head if
you catch me at Clinkstyle till this idiotic affair blows over.
"Your affectionate son,
"P.S. — MacCassock's not a goose — no more than the rest of your
parsons — she has plenty of tin."
Mrs. Birse managed somehow to hear out Master Benjamin's
note to the last word. She then expanded her arms,
and with a huge screech went off in what was meant for
THE first thought struggling in the mind of Mrs. Birse
was, whether etiquette demanded that she should faint
and give way to utter unconsciousness under the blow which
Benjie's letter had inflicted upon her, or whether grief, in a
more demonstrative form, could be properly exhibited. But
human nature quickly asserted its sway, and, rising to the
occasion at once, she exclaimed —
"The Judas-like person! Fa in this wordle cud 'a believ't
onything o' the kin'. Eh, but it 's aneuch to fesh the vera
jeedgment o' Gweed upo' the place. Aifter fat we've deen
for 'im, late an' ear'! An' you, my peer innocent lamb! But
I'll gar 'im swate for 't no, as lang 's there 's gweed lawvyers
in Aiberdeen. Get your vritein desk, this minute, 'Liza."
Miss Birse, who had maintained her equanimity in a
wonderful manner, obeyed her mother's injunction without
uttering a single word.
"Noo, ye'll jist vreet aff at ance to your broder, Benjamin,
an' tell him to forquant Meister Pettiphog wi' a' the haill
rinnins o' the maitter; an' I 'm sair mista'en gin he binna as
weel up to the quirks o' the law as can vreet a letter that 'll
gi'e 'im a fleg that he hisna gotten the like o' sin' he leeft's
mither's awpron-strings."
To Mrs. Birse's utter surprise, her daughter, with perfect
composure and equal explicitness, answered, "No, mother,
I 'll do nothing o' the kin'."
"'Liza! are ye i' yer senses ?" exclaimed Mrs. Birse.
"Mr. MacCassock never asked me to marry him; an'
though he had I didna want him. It's all been a plan o' your
own. I am sure he was not wantin' to deceive you."
The explosion that ensued was violent, and the sound of
Mrs. Birse's voice could be heard even outside the parlour in
a higher key than well accorded with the rules of genteel
society. It was soon over, however, and at the close Miss
Birse had retreated to her bedroom in tears. but without
having written, or consented to write, the letter to her lawyer
brother. Mrs. Birse stalked out of the parlour and to the
kitchen with a face that spoke of combustion, and a sensation
in her breast of groping after the proper object on which she
might expend her feeling. "Fat 's come o' yer maister?" said
she, addressing the servant girl. "That was his fit that aw
heard nae mony minutes syne."
"Ou, he cam' into the kitchie, an' aifter hoverin' a minute
makin' to gae ben, turn't, rael swyppirt, an' said he wud awa'
to the back faul's an' see foo the mole-catcher was comin' on."
Peter's instinct was quite correct; but the reader, who
should imagine that this sudden elopement saved him his full
share in the stormy ebullition that followed the collapse of the
MacCassock matrimonial project, would have formed even yet
but an imperfect idea of his astute spouse's character and
views of duty. Those who have really understood that amiable
matron, as she lived and moved, will have no difficulty whatever
in realising for themselves the agonising ordeal through
which Peter Birse, senior, had to pass on this subject.
It was even as Mr. Benjamin Birse had written; and Mr.
MacCassock's marriage had speedily to be numbered among
accomplished events. Who could wonder that the succeeding
Sabbath should see the Clinkstyle "viackle" on its way
to the Free Kirk at the Broch, and not to the Free Kirk of
Pyketillim? It was occupied by Mrs. Birse and Peter Birse,
senior, and Rob Birse was the driver. For several succeeding
Sabbaths the "viackle" pursued the same route.
"Aw div not won'er nor ye canna be edifiet wi' sic a man,"
said Meg Raffan, on whom Mrs. Birse had conferred the unexpected
honour of a visit at the Lodge. But Meg Raffan
checked her utterance, for she had an impression that Mrs.
Birse and her daughter were not of one mind on this question.
Therefore Meg confined herself to the safe ground of a moral
and social dissection of the newly-arrived Mrs. MacCassock,
and to discreetly answering the leading questions put by Mrs.
Birse with a view to find out what was being said of herself
in connexion with recent events. "Eh, Mrs. Birse, ye needna
gi'e yersel' twa thochts aboot that," said Meg; "ye're owre
weel kent i' the pairt. It's nae orra claicks that blaud your
But Meg Raffan was rather at a loss now for news concerning
the Free Kirk and sundry other matters. Whitsunday
had come and gone, and Hairry Muggart, who had "flitted"
down to Smiddyward, was no longer available as a regular
medium, seeing he had ceased to be the "laird's vricht," and
had no occasion to pass the "Wast Lodge," statedly. The
claims of her feathered charge at that season — multiplied in
number by a succession of "brodmils" of young turkeys,
ducks, and other poultry — absolutely prevented Meg leaving
home for more than a very short space of time. Yet when
one is "gizzen't" for want of news some shift must be made,
and she had at last taken a "rin owre" to see Hairry Muggart
in his new abode.
"Ou ay," said Hairry, who was in the highest spirits on
the subject of his change of residence. "We live here like
prences, wi' oor kailyard for a kingdom. Gin we wunt the
rigs, we're free o' the cost an' tribble o' earin' them. Hoot,
fye! is Dawvid gyaun throu' 't wi' the new vricht already?
Weel, weel, lat 'm drink 's he's brew't; gin the man binna
cawpable o' 's wark the laird 'll ken fa he's obleeg't till."
"Weel-a-wat, Dawvid an' him was at the knag an' the
wuddie ere he was an ouk there; an' Dawvid keest up till 'im
that he was only an incomer, a peer freen o' the dominie's, an'
main nor muckle obleeg't to the minaister for winnin there
ava — aw div not believe but they 'll hae the creatur afore the
session for 's ill win'. 'But,' says Dawvid, 'ye 'll k-no' that,
dominie, or no dominie, it 's only at my merciment gin ye be
lang here.'"
"Aye the aul' man, Hennie," said Hairry. "He hed been
roun' aboot the Kirktoon, it wud seem, lattin licht foo that he
sud be instrucket to 'lay aff' Clinkstyle in coorse afore the
tack rin oot, 'cause Sir Seemon 's to pit Peter Birse awa'."
"Weel, weel; lat them b'lieve 'im that 's nae better employ't,"
said Meg; "but fat 's this that you Free Kirkers's
been deein' mairryin yer minaister bye the maiden o' Clinkstyle?"

"Keep me, Meg; an' that's a' that ye ken aboot it. That's
piper's news! Speer at Lucky Birse hersel' fat garr't the Miss
leave the toon last ouk aifter a throu'-the-muir that dreeve
aul' Peter naarhan' dementit, an' refeese ever to lat 'er face be
seen there again oonless the 'viackle' — saw ye ever sic a
monument o' a thing, Meg? — sud be sent back faur it cam'
fae, or pitten o' the hen-reist, never to be ta'en doon again."
"Na, Hairry, but ye dee gar me ferlie; an' me hed 'er in
aboot at the Lodge nae passin' aucht days syne. 'Fat neist?'
thinks I. 'The gryte goodwife callin' o' oorsel', a peer indwaller
i' the hirehouse!' Hooever, she camna wuntin' 'er
erran'. She thocht to get me to tak' half-a-dizzen o' peer stilperts
o' cock chuckens at the price o' grown fools; but I beheeld'er;
an' than she lows't the richt gate aboot the minaister
an' a' 's ation. But wi' a' 'er ootbearin' an' pride, aw cud
see 't she was jist a kin' o' made like, an' wud 'a unto fain hed
a bodie's 'sempathy,' 's yer freen Dawvid, wi' 's muckle words,
wud say. But the Miss daurin to flee in 'er mither's witters
that gate! Na, sirs!"
"Ah," said Hairry, with a sage smile. "It's a' a maitter
o' 'sympathy,' Meg; nae doot ye 'll oon'erstan' 't perfeckly.
Your mither's wull wud be a law to ye sae lang, i' yer bairnheid;
but fan ye cam' fae lassie to lass, maybe ye wud come
to hae a bit o' a saftness an' a drawin' oot to some ither ane
nor yer mammy, an' a wull fae the tither side o' the hoose wud
begin to hae swye wi' ye. — Ou ye needna luik, 'oman," said
Hairry, addressing his wife.
"For shame to ye Hairry Muggart," exclaimed Meg
Raffan, assuming as much of the affronted-maiden air as she
"Deed, ye may say 't; isnin he a feel aul' man, Hennie?"
said Mrs. Muggart, in her usual fashion.
"That's mair nor lickly," answered Hairry, with great
composure. "Hooever, the Miss is oot o' 'er mither's leadin'-
strings, aw doot; an' it cheats me sair gin the peer lassie
hedna a man bodie wi' a wull o' 's nain at the back o' 't, ere
she cud mak' it a doon-Iaid rowle that the curricle sud be
disabolish't. There's to be nae mair ca'in' awa' to hyne awa'
kirks; an' forbye that, 'er fader 's to be latt'n gae to see his
gweed-dother — young Peter's wife, ye ken — an' 'er bairns, o'
the market days."
"Na, sirs, an' the Miss 's gotten some ane to help 'er to
coup the creels o' the aul' 'oman ?"
"Aw sudna won'er," said Hairry, with a half careless, half
mysterious air.
"Cud it be the merchan', no?" asked the henwife, with
growing interest.
"Weel, I've seen fowk blater at guessin', Meg," answered
Hairry; "we 'll see; we 'll see, come time."
"Na, but didna I tell 's nain mither that, near twa two-mons
syne?" said Meg Raffan.
"Noo, man," said Mrs. Muggart, putting in her word with
something of decision in her tone, "ye winna need to sit
there a' aifterneen lyaugin wi' fowk, an negleckin yer erran'.
It's time that ye war owrebye to meet Gushetneuk."
"Eh, but that's weel min'et," said Meg. "Peer man; an'
Gushets 's aye to the fore, is he? Aw was dreamin' aboot 'im
the tither nicht richt sair."
"Ye live at the back o' the wardle, seerly, noo, Meg.
Dinna ye ken that Johnny Gibb 's fairly cantl't up again?"
"Eh, but aw 'm richt blythe to hear 't. Aw heard that he
was feerious far gane in a swarf the tither day, an' hardly
expeckit to come a-list again? But he 's winnin to the gate
a bittie?"
"Hoot; he was able to be doon at the kirk last Sunday,
on 's nain feet, an' I 'm jist gyaun awa' owrebye that gate to
see 'im aboot some jots o' wark at the Manse offices, that 's
been lyin' owre sin' he fell bye; and nae ither ane cud gi'e me
orders aboot them. — Ou ay, he's gotten a bit o' a shak'; but
he 's nae that oonfersell again growin'. He has a free han'
noo, like the lave o' 's, an' young fowk aboot him as prood o'
atten'in' 's comman's as gin he war the laird. Na, na, Gushets
is courin up fine; an' him an' the goodwife 's makin' ready
to gae doon to the Walls for an aucht days or siclike; an'
that's a hantle better for the constiteetion nor a' the doctor's
drogs that ye can pit in o' yer inside."
[THE purpose of a Glossary being simply to facilitate intelligent
reading, it has not been sought either to trace the words explained
below to their etymological sources, or to give all the meanings that
may be attached to them.
The language of Aberdeenshire is so peculiar that many of its
words will hardly be intelligible even to the inhabitant of the southern
and western districts of Scotland. It is, however, tolerably consistent
in its peculiarities; and, therefore, while the Glossary presents
the meaning, a remark or two may be allowed with the view of enabling
the reader to arrive at the pronunciation of the words.
In certain present participles, and participial nouns, the only
difference between them and the same words in English is the
dropping of the terminal g: thus workin' for working; and, therefore, it
has not been thought necessary to cumber the Glossary by the insertion
of such words. In many of the words the digraph ch has been substituted
for gh in the spelling, in order to indicate the guttural sound:
thus, nicht for night. Wh is changed into f, to express the actual
pronunciation: thus, wha (who), fa; whip, fup.
Oo, in the south of Scotland, has the sound of the French u: as,
in shoon, moon, spoon; but the philologist, by the time he has crossed
the Dee, will find the oo changed into ee, sounded precisely as in the
name of that beautiful river, and thus we get sheen, meen, speen.
There are, however, various exceptions to this rule: look, for example,
becomes leuk, not leek; and book, beuk, not beek. Th gets changed
into d: as, fader, for father; breeder, for brother, and so on. The
change of wh into f, and of th into d, both find illustration in one
word, fudder (sometimes father), whether.
Diminutives, in which Aberdeenshire Scotch is peculiarly rich, are
generally formed by adding ie to the noun, as lass, lassie; dog, doggie.
Ock, supposed by some to represent the Gaelic og, young, is not however
uncommon, as lass, lassock. And, frequently, as indicating a still
greater degree of diminution, both are employed, thus: lass, lassock,
lassockie. But, not satisfied with this, the natives carry the diminution
yet farther, by two or three degrees. And so we have a bit
lassockie, a wee bit lassockie; and lastly, a little wee bit lassockie, in the
fifth degree of comparison. Examples of such kindly diminution
occur in the lines —
There was a wee bit wifockie, an' she gaed to the fair,
She gat a wee bit drappockie that bred her muckle care.
D, t, and l at the end of words are often dropped: thus, respect
becomes respeck; wind, win'; and wall, wa'. V is also frequently
omitted wherever it occurs: thus have becomes hae, and harvest,
In the spelling of certain words y or c has been introduced to indicate,
as near as might be, the veritable pronunciation: as gyaun,
nyeuk, leuk. G and k are always pronounced before n, as in German,
thus: knife, gnash, gnap.]
Ablach or ablich, n., an insignificant
Aboot, prep., about; concerning
Adee, adv., ado; to do
Aff, adv., off
Ahin, prep., behind
Aifter, prep., after
Aifterneen, n., afternoon
Ain, adj., own
Aitm, n., arm
Aise, n., ashes
Aise-backet, n., a box for ashes
Aisp, n., asp; serpent
Aiven, adv., even
Aleberry, n., oatmeal boiled in ale
and sweetened with sugar
Aleen, adj., alone
Amo', prep., among
Amnin, v., am not: amnin aw? am
not I?
Aner'smas, n., Andrewmas
Aneth, prep., beneath
Aneuch, n., enough; a sufficiency
Anidder, pron., another
Antrin, adj., occasional
Argle-bargle, v.i., to chaffer; to
Arreenge, v.t., to arrange
Asseer, v.t., to assure
Aten, part. adj., eaten
A'thegither, adv., altogether
Athort, prep., athwart; across
Ation, n., generation; family connections

Atween, prep., between
Aucht, n., possession; power
Aucht, v.t.. to owe: auchtin, due
Aucht nor oucht, nothing at all;
neither one thing nor another
Audiscence, n., audience; encouragement
to speak; a hearing
Aught, adj., eight
Aul', adj., old: aul'er, older or elder
Aumry, n., a cupboard
Ava, adv., at all
Aw, pron., I
Awa', adv., away
Awat, v.i., I wot
Awcre, n., acre
Aweel, adv., well
Aweers o', prep., on the point of
Back-chap, n., back-stroke, or blow:
to haud in a back chap, to play the
part of a second or assistant.
Backin, n., the address on a letter
Bairnheid, n., childhood
Bairns,, children
Bandster, n., one who binds sheaves
Basketie, n., small basket
Bather, n., bother
Bauch, adj., sheepish; backward
through bashfulness
Bank, n., uncultivated strip of land
between fields; cross beans uniting
the rafters of the roof
Baul, adj., bold
Bawbee, n., a halfpenny
Behaud'n, past part., beholden;
behaud'n to, favoured by
Beheef, n., behoof
Be't, v.i., behoved
Bess, v.i., to play, or sing bass (in
Beet, n., boot
Beetikin, n., bootkin; halfboot
Beetle, v.t.. to beat clothes with a
heavy wooden mallet
Beetlin-stane, n., the stone on which
clothes are beetled
Begeck, n., disappointment
Begood, v. i., began; pret. of begin
Ben v. but, the two ends of a cottage
Bestial, n., cattle
Bield, n., shelter; a house
Billie, n., a companion
Bing, n., a heap
Binna, v.i., be not
Birkie, n., a smart, roguish fellow
Birn, n., a burden
Birst, v., to burst; to split
Birsie, v.t., to toast
Birr, n., force; energy
Birze, v., to push; to crush through,
as in a crowd
Blaewort, n., blue corn-flower
Blaik, v.t., to blacken
Blate, adj., sheepish; bashful
Blaud, v.t., to spoil; to destroy
Blaw, v. i., to blow; to boast of
Bleb, v.i., to sip or guzzle; to beslabber

Bleck, v.t., to puzzle; to surpass
Bleed, n., blood
Bleezes,, flames! fire!
Bleezin, part. adj., (literally) blazing;
(conventionally) hilariously tipsy
Boddom, n., bottom
Blythe, adj., glad; cheerful; joyous
Booet, n., a lantern
Bools,, bowls
Boose, n. or v.i., a bout of drinking;
to drink freely
Boun's,, bounds; limits
Bourach, n., knot or group, as of
Bow, n., an arch; the part of the
harness bent under the neck of the
ox to fasten the yoke: owre the
bows signifies acting in a disorderly
Bowie, n., a cask
Brae, n., sloping ground; acclivity
Braig, v.i., to brag; to boast
Braivity, n., show; splendour; finery
Brakfist, n., breakfast
Braw, adj., fine; elegant: in braw
time, in good time
Brawly, adv., bravely; finely; prosperously

Breeder, n., brother
Breeks,, breeches
Breem, n., broom
Breid, n., bread; breadth
Breet, n., brute; wonderfully attenuated
in signification when
applied to a person: peer breet,
poor fellow
Britchen, n. breeching; harness on
breech of horses
Broch, n , burgh; the broch, emphatically
applied to the nearest
Brocht, v.t., brought
Brod, n., the collecting-box in church,
v. ladle
Brodmil, n., brood of chickens
Bruik, v.t., broke
Buckies,, univalve whorled shells
Bubblyjock, n., turkey cock
Bucklin's,, marriage paraphernalia

Buff, n., idle talk; nonsense
Buik, n., book
Buikin-nicht, n., the night on which
the names of the persons about to
he married are given in to the
Session Clerk to have the banns
Bull, n., bill
Bullyrag, v.t., to treat in a bullying
Bun, adj., bound: bun-bed, a wooden
bed shut in with folding or sliding
Bunchie, n., dim. of bunch; a small
Bung, n., ill-humour; pet; huff
Burn, n., a small stream; dim.,
But-bed, n., a cottage is divided into
two apartments, the but and the
ben; the but-bed, therefore, is the
bed in the but, or semi-parlour
Byous, adj. and adv., out of the common;
extraordinary; exceedingly
Byre, n., a cow-house
By'se, adv., besides
Byoutifu', adj., beautiful.
Caff, n., chaff
Cairt, n., cart
Cairnin', pr. part., laying on in cairns
or heaps; spreading thickly.
Caller, adj., cool; fresh
Canna, aux. v., can't; cannot
Can'lesmas, n., Candlemas
Cannas, n., canvas; especially that
used in winnowing grain: cannas
breid, the breadth or size of such a
piece of canvas
Canny, adj., prudent; cautious; sly;
Cantle-up, v.i., to brighten up, as on
regaining health
Carlie, n., dim of carle; churl
Carline, n., fem. of carle; a rough,
vociferous woman
Catechis, n., Catechism
Caums,, moulds for balls, spoons,
Cauf, n., calf; dim. caufie
Caup, n., a bowl turned out of a single
piece of wood
Cept, or cep, prep., except
Chack, n., blue and white chequered
linen or calico cloth
Chafts,, chops; jaws (used
Chanter, n., the flute-like part of the
bagpipes on which the tune is
Chap, n., a young fellow: v.t., to
knock; to strike with a hammer
Chape, adj., cheap
Chaum'er, n., a chamber, applied to
sleeping place for farm servants in
out-houses: v.t., to shut up in a
Cheenge, v.t., to change
Cheer, n., chair
Chiel, n., a proper fellow: dim.,
Chimley, n., chimney
Chop, n., shop
Chuckens,, chickens
Chyne, n., chain
Claer, adj., distinct; ready
Claes,, clothes
Claikit, part., idly tattled
Claiks, n. pl., clacks; gossip
Clivver, n., clover
Clampin', pr. part., walking noisily,
as with hobnailed shoes
Cluik, n., a claw or talon; the hand
Clypes, n., tattle; tell-tale gossip
Clench, v.i., to limp
Clossach, n., a mass; sum of hoarded
Coblie, n., dim. of coble; a wayside
watering place
Cockernony, n., the starched kell or
crown of a woman's cap
Conter, adj., contrary: v.t., to oppose
Contermin't, adj., couuterminded;
Connach, v.t., to spoil; to destroy
Confeerin, adj., suitable; corresponding

Count, v.t., to count
Coontin, n., arithmetic
Coorse, adj., coarse; harsh: n.,
Coort, n., court
Coup, v.t., to upset; to tilt up; to
overturn: to coup the creels, meta.,
completely to upset a plan or project

Cour, v.i., to recover (said of health)
Corters,, quarters (of an oaten
Cowshus, adj., cautious
Crackie, adj., talkative; pleasingly
Craft, n., croft; dim., craftie
Crap, n., crop, particularly of cereals;
dim., crappie; also the crop of a
Craw, v.i., to crow: to craw in your
crap, to prove indigestible, used
meta., of what will give trouble
Creelie, n., dim. of creel, an osier
Creengin, pr. part., cringing; obsequious

Croon, n, crown
Cronies,, familiar companions
Cudna, v., couldn't; could not
Culph't, v.t., drove home the wadding,
or culphin
Curryborum, n., confidential conversation,
of a quiet, earnest, and
semi-gossiping sort
Daar, adj., dear; expensive
Daccle, v.i., to slacken one's pace
Daily-day, adv., every day; continually

Dargin, pres. part., working as a day
Daumer't, adj., stunned; stupified
Daurin, pr. part., daring
Daursay, v., daresay
Dawtie, n., a pet
Deave, v.t., to deafen; to annoy, by
Dee, v.t., to do: v.i., to die
Deece, n., a long wooden seat in the
form of a sofa, with panelled back,
and no padding
Deed, adv., indeed
Deem, n., dame; lass: dim. deemie
Deen, past part. of dee, to do: deen
ill, very ill
Deesters, n., doers; actors; promoters;
Deeth, n., death
Deid, adj., dead
Del'in, pr. part., delving; cultivating
with the spade
Dementit, adj., mad; unreasonable
Dennerin, pr. part., providing or
serving dinner
Descryve, v. t., to describe
Deval, v.i., to cease
Deykn, n., deacon; one who excels in
his profession
Didnin, v., didn't? did not?
Diffeekwalty, n., difficulty, accented
on the second syllable
Dilse, n., dulse
Ding-on, v., to rain, or snow
Dinna, aux. v., don't; do not
Discoont, n., discount
Disjeest, v.t., digest
Dird, v.t., to drive or cast violently
Disabolish, v.t., to abolish
Dist, n., dust; the pollen of oats detached
in grinding, used for feeding
poultry, &c.
Dit, v.t., to close; to fill
Div, v.t., do: fan div ye gae?
when do you go?
Divnin, v.t., do not?
Divot, n., a flat turf
Dizzen, adj., dozen
Dog-dirder, n., whipper-in; kennel
Dog-oil, n., oil extracted from the
livers of dog-fish
Doited, adj., stupid; stupified
Dooker, n., one who ducks, or bathes:
dook, v.t., to bathe
Dominie, n., a schoolmaster (from
Doon, adv., down
Doot, n., doubt: nae doot, without
Dossie, n., a small quantity in the
form of a knot or cluster
Dother, n., daughter
Dottl't, adj., forgetful (chiefly through
age): dottlin, pr. part., becoming
stupid or forgetful
Dozen't, int., exclamation equivalent
to confound it! stupify it!
Drap, n., drop: dim., drappie
Dreeve, v.pret., drove
Drogs,, drugs
Drows,, fits of sickness
Dud, n., cloth: duds, clothes
Dummie, n., one who is dumb; a mute
Dunt, v.t., to knock, strike with a
hollow sound: to dunt it oot, to
settle a dispute by a stand-up encounter

Dwebble, adj., feeble; bending with
Dyker, n., a builder of rough stone
fences or dykes
Ear', adv., early
Eargh, adj., frightened; superstitiously
Easedom, n., ease; relief
Edder, conj., either
Edick, n., an edict
Een,, eyes
Eenoo, adv., even now; just now
Eese, n., use: v.t., to use
Eesefu', adj., useful
Eeswal, adj., usual: war nor eeswal,
worse than usual
Eident, adj., industrious; diligent
Eik, v.t., to make an addition: to eik
him up, to egg him on
El'ers or elyers,, elders (in the
Presbyterian Church)
Erran', n., errand; message
Ettercap, n., a poisonous spider; a
person of an irritable disposition
Ettle, v.i., to endeavour; to aim at
Excamb, n., one piece of ground
exchanged for another
Exkeesable, adj., excusable
Expeckit, past part. expected
Expoon, v.t., expound
Fa, pron., who?
Fa', v.i., fall
Fader, n., father
Fae, prep., from
Fan, adv., when
Fangs,, louts; lumpish fellows
Fant, adj., faint
Fash, v.t. and n., trouble
Fat, pron., what
Fatsomever, pron., whatsoever
Faugh, v. t., to plough stubble land
in wide, shallow furrows
Faul', n. or v.t., fold: to faul' your
fit, to sit down
Faulies,, dim. of faulds; orig.,
folds for cattle or sheep, applied to
the fields where these had been
Faur, adv., where
Fawvour, n., favour
Feck, n., the greater part; the majority

Feckly, adv., chiefly; for the most
Fedder, n., feather
Feal-dyke, n., a fence made of turf
Feedle, n., field
Feelish, adj., foolish; thoughtless
Feerious, adj., furious; used in comparisons
for exceedingly
Fegs, interj., a minced oath, presumably
for faith!
Feingyin, pr. part., feigning
Ferlie, n., wonder; oddity
Feint, interj., exclusively used in
strong negatives: feint ane, never
a one
Fer-nothing, n., fear-nothing; dreadnought

Fernyear, n., last year
Fersell, adj., forceful; energetic
Fesh, v.t., to fetch
Fess't, part., fast; engaged
File, n. while: dim., filie, a little
Filk, pron., which?
Fit, n., a foot: to give one up his fit,
to reprove
Fite, adj., white
First-fit, n., the first person that
meets a marriage party or other
Flaucht, n., flight
Flee, n., fly: nae a flee, not a particle

Fleerish, n., a steel for striking fire
from flint, by which match, or touch
paper, is kindled
Fleg, v.t., to frighten
Fley, v.t., to frighten
Foifteen, adj., fifteen.
Folla, n., fellow
Fond, n., fund
Fools,, fowls: dim., foolies
Fooshtit, adj., fusted
Foraneen, n.,forenoon
Forbears or forebears,, ancestors

Forder, adj. and adv., further
Foort, adj., fourth
Forebreist, n., front seat of a gallery;
front of a cart
Forfecht, v.t., overdo; overtask
Forrit, adv., forward
Forgather, v.i., to meet together
Forquant, v.t., to acquaint; to intimate

Fortiggan, pr. part., fatiguing; tiresome

Foryet, v.t., to forget
Fou, adj., full; drunk
Foumart, n., pole-cat
Fowk, n., folk; people
Fozy, adj., spongy (as a turnip);
hollow (as a laugh)
Fraise, v.i., to use phrases; to speak
flatteringly, with a desire to ingratiate

Frem't, n., strangers; those not related
by blood
Freely, adj., particularly: freely fine,
remarkably fine
Fudder, conj., whether
Fuish, pret. of v.t., fetched; brought
I fuish, I brought
Full, v.t., to fill
Fup, n., whip
Futher, conj. and adv., whether
Fung, v. t., to throw, with a jerking
Furm, n., form, a long seat or bench
without a back
Fuskers,, whiskers
Fusky, n., whisky
Fusion, n., power; strength
Fusionless, adj., powerless; weak
Fyou, adj., few: comp., fyouer
Gae, v.t., gave: v.i., to go; pr. part.,
gyauin (going), or gaen
Gae-lattin, pr. part., letting go:
meta., at the gae-lattin, on the eve
of bankruptcy
Ga'in, n., Gavin, proper name
Gang, v.i., to go; to walk
Gar, v.t., to force; oblige
Gast, n., fright; what takes one suddenly
Gatefarrin, adj., wayfaring; fit to be
seen on the road
Gawkie, n., a silly, loutish person
Gawketness, n., uncouth silliness
Gedder, v.t., to gather; to collect
Gey, adj., rather
Geyan, any., used in comparisons;
rather; somewhat: geyan stoot,
rather stout
Geylies, adv., pretty well
Gi'e, v.t., to give: pr. part., gi'ein,
Gin, conj., if
Girss, n., grass
Gizzen't, adj.,shrunk through drought
Glack, n., ravine; point where two
things separate or branch off
Glaid, adj., glad; happy
Glaiket, adj., idle; thoughtless
Glives,, gloves
Gloamin, n., evening twilight
Gluff, n., an inhalation of air; sensation
experienced on plunging into
cold water
Go-och, interj., oh!
Gnap, n., a snatch
Goshie, interj., an expression of surprise

Gowff, n., ruin; destruction
Gow, v.t., to gull; to decoy
Goupenfu', n., the fill of the two
hands hollowed and placed side by
side; two neivefu's
Graith, n., harness
Graip, n., three-pronged dung fork
Grane, n., groan
Greet, v.i., to cry; to weep
Grieve, n.. farm overseer
Grippie, adj., inclined to greed; also
dim. of grip: a grippie o' yird,
bending the point of the sock
slightly to the yird or earth
Gruesome, adj., frightful; horrible
Grun, n., ground; land
Gryte, adj., great
Gudge, n., a stout, thick-set fellow
Guller, n., sound in the throat, as of
Gullie, n., knife, commonly of large
Gumption, n., common-sense
Gurk, n., stout lad
Gushet, n., anything shaped like a
gusset; triangular bit of land
Gweed, adj., good; n., God
Gweed-breeder, n., good-brother;
Gweeshtens, interj., exclamation
expressive of surprise
Gyaun, v.i., going
Gyana, v.t., gave not
Gya, v.t., gave
Gype, n., simpleton
Gyte, adj., mad; demented
Hack, n., a notch
Hae, v.t., to have: imperative, hae,
take it
Haill, adj., whole
Hain, v.t., to save; to husband
Hairst, n., harvest
Haiveless, adj., unmannerly; reckless

Haiver, v.i., to talk foolishly, incoherently.
or nonsensically
Hamewuth, adv., homeward
Han'fu', n., handful
Hantle, n., a considerable quantity or
number; a deal
Harns,, brains: harn pan, the
Harassment., n., fatigue
Haud, v.t., hold
Haudin, n., holding; possession
Haugh, n., alluvial ground on the
margin of a stream
Haumer, v.i., to walk clumsily
Ha'ver, v.t., to halve; to lay open
Havril, a person that talks foolishly;
Hay-soo, n., haystack
Heeld, v., held
Heely, interj., slowly; leisurely
Heich, adv., high: comp. heicher,
Heid, n., head
Heidy-peers,, persons of equal
Helpener, n., minister's assistant
Heemlin, pr. part., humbling; fitted
to humble
Henwife, n., woman who has charge
of poultry
Heidie, adj., headstrong; opinionative
Herrial, n., means of harrying; ruin
Het, adj., hot
Heth, interj., exclamation equivalent
to faith!
Heugh, n., a crag; a rugged steep
Hennie, n., familiar appellation for
Henwife, n., woman who has change of poultry
Hillockie, n., dim. of hillock: an
instance of double formation-hill,
hillock, hillockie
Hin', adj., at the end, or behind
Hinna, v.t., have not
Hirehoose, n., place of servitude
Hirsle, v.i., to draw one's-self along
as on a seat, without rising: hirsle
yont, more a little farther off
Hir't, adj., (lit. hired) seasoned, made
palatable by the addition of butter,
Hisna, has not
Hizzie, n., hussy
Hodd'n, p. part., hid or hidden
Hoo, adv., how
Hoot, interj., expressive of surprise,
irritation, or sometimes doubt; also
implying remonstrance: Hoot, min!
Why, man!
Hoose, n., house
Hoosewifeskip, n., housewifery
Horsie, n., dim. of horse
Hotter, n., a rough shake
Hoven, adj., heaved; swollen
Howiffin, n., a clumsy, senseless fellow
Huddry, adj., towsy; disordered
Huickie, n., small rick or stack
Humoursome, adj., affably disposed;
Hunner, adj., hundred
Hurb, n., clumsy, awkward person
Hurl, v., to be driven in any sort of
carriage, also to drive
Huz, pron., us; otherwise hiz
Hyne, adv., afar: hyne awa', far off
Hyse, n., banter; boisterous play, or
Ilka, adj., each; every
Ill-win', n., coarse or abusive language
Immedantly, adv., immediately
Income, n., an infirmity whose cause
is unknown
Induck, v.t., to induct
Intill't, into it
Insnorl, v.t., to entrap
Intoon, adj., originally the land
nearest the toon or farm-house;
the best land on the farm
Inveetor, n., inventory; value of
goods inventoried
Isnin't, v.i., is not it? or, is it not?
Ither, pron., other
Itmost, adj., utmost; to the greatest
Jalouse, v.i., to suspect; to surmise
Jaud, n., jade
Jaw, n., wave; abusive language
Jaw, v.i., to talk continuously and idly
Jeedge, v.t., to judge
Jelly, adj., jolly; buxom
Jeesty, adj., matter for jest; used
ordinarily in the negative form: it's
nae jeesty, it is not to be trifled with
Jilin', n., jailing; putting into jail
Jilp, n., an indefinite small quantity
of any liquid, applied contemptuously,
e.g. to inferior liquor
Jinniprous, adj., ingenious; natty
Jinse, n., Janet
Jist, adv., just; merely
Jouk, v.i., to stoop: to jouk an' lat
the jaw gae owre, to yield to circumstances

Joukry-pawkry, n., underhand dealing;
trickery; deception
Jow, v., to move from side to side;
to ring (said of) a bell
Juggle, n., dim. of jug
Kail, n., colewort (greens)
Kaim, v.t., to comb: n., a comb
Kebbuck, n., a cheese: dim., keb-buckie

Keepit, v.t., kept
Keerious, adj., curious; strange
Keest, v., cast
Kell, n., caul; the puckered part of
a woman's mutch that rises over
the back part of the head
Ken, v.t., to know; to recognise:
kenna, know not
Kenspeckle, adj., easily recognisable
Kettlie, n., dim. of kettle
Kibble, adj., strong and active; compactly
Kirktoon, n., a hamlet near, or
around the church
Kist, n., chest
Kitchie, n., kitchen; whatever seasons
Kittle, adj., difficult; critical
Klyack, n., the conclusion of reap
ing: klyack supper, the harvest,
home feast
Knablick, adj., an irregularly formed
loose stone
Knag, n., a knob or pin
Kneggum, n., sharp or disagreeable
smell or flavour
Kneevlick, n., a roundish piece of
anything that may be cut or broken,
as cheese
Knoweheid, n., top of a hillock
Kwintra, n., country
Kwite, n., coat
Kyaaks,, oatmeal cakes
Kye,, cows
Kyeuk, n., cook
Laddie, n., dim. of lad; a boy
Ladles,, small oblong boxes
attached to long handles for the
purpose of collecting the offering
or offertory
Laft, n., loft; the gallery in a church
Laimiter, n., one who has been
lamed; a cripple
Lair, n., place of repose; bed; grave
Laird, n., squire; proprietor of land
Lairdskip, n., lordship; right as proprietor

Lairstane, n., gravestone
Lane or leen, adj., lone: adv., alone:
yer leen, by yourself
Lang, adv., long
Langiges,, languages
Langheidit, adj., longheaded; knowing;
Lanstells,, parapets of a bridge
Lant, v.t., to jeer
Lassie, n., dim. of lass; a girl
Lat, v.t., to let; to permit
Lave, n., the rest; the remainder
Lawvyers,, lawyers
Lee, n., a lie: v.i., to lie
Leeft, left
Leems,, implements; apparatus
Leet, v.i., let; allowed: leet at him,
struck or assailed him
Leern, v.t., to learn; also to teach
Leernin, n., learning: leern't, adj.,
Leevin, n., living (being); a person
Legible, adj., intelligible, according
to Dawvid
Lethal, adj., legal. Dawvid misapplies
the word in the display of his learning

Leuch, v.i., laughed
Leuk or luik, v.i., to look
Licht, v.i., to alight
Lichtlifie, v.t., to undervalue
Lickly, adv., likely; probably
Liftit, adj., elevated; overjoyed
Likein, part. as adv., like as; for
Limmer, n., a worthless woman; a
term of reproach
Lippen, v.i., to trust; to put confidence
Lippie, n., the quarter of a peck
Littleanes,, little ones; children:
little littleanes, small children
Liveliheid, n., livelihood
Loan, n., a piece of uncultivated land
about a town or homestead
Locker, n., a small compartment in
the end of a chest
Loon, n., a lad; a boy
Loot, v., let; to stoop
Lordlifu', adj., lordly; bountiful to
Loshie, interj., expressive of wonder
Loss, v.t., to lose
Loup, v., to leap; to jump
Lowrin, n., Lawrence
Lowse, v.t., to loose or loosen; to
leave off work
Lozen, n. a pane
Lugs,, the ears; handles
Luggie, n., a small wooden vessel for
table use, with lugs or handles on
the sides
Lyaug, v.i., to talk idly and copiously
Lythe, n., shelter: adj., sheltered
Maet, n., meat; victuals
Mainteen, v.t., to maintain
Mair, adj., comp., more
Mairch, n., march; boundary
Maister, n., master
Maitters,, matters; affairs
Maksna, v., makes not; matters not
Mammy, n., mamma; mother
Mannie, n., dim, of man: sic mannie
sic horsie, like master like man
Maroonjous, adj., harshly stern
Marrow, n., equal; companion
Mealy-mou't, adj., nice; squeamish
Mear, n., mare
Meesic, n., music
Mell, v. i., to meddle
Mengyie, n., a multitude; a huddled
Menners,, manners
Merciment, n., mercy; tolerance
Mertyreese, v.t., to torture one as a
Milkness, n., the business of caring
for and preparing milk; milk
Min', v.t., to mind; to care for; to
Min, n., man; used chiefly in the
Minit, n., minute
Mint, v.i., to endeavour feebly; to
insinuate; to allude to
Mink, n., a noose; the noose of a
hangman's halter
Misca', v.t., to miscall; to vilify
Misdoot, v. t., to doubt, apparently
intensified by mis
Mishantor, n., accident; disaster
Mislippen, v.t., to neglect; mistrust
Missionar, n., missionary
Mith, aux. v., might: mithna, might
Mithnin, might not?
Mither, n., mother
Mixter-maxter, n., a confused mass
Mizzour, n., measure
Mochs,, moths
Mochie, adj., misty, the idea of moistness
and warmth being implied
Moderate, v.i., in the Presbyterian
Church, to moderate in a call is to
hold a meeting of Presbytery at
which the congregation sign the
call to a preacher to become their
Moggans,, stockings without
Molie, n., familiar designation of mole-catcher

Moniment, n., anything conspicuous
by its oddity
Mools, n,pl., moulds; earth cast out
of a grave
Morn, n., to-morrow
Mou', n., mouth
Moudiewort, n., mole
Moufu', n., mouthful
Mowse, adj., (used neg.) nae mowse,
Moyen, n., influence; means: to lay
moyen, to use means
Multiteed, n., multitude
Munsie, n., droll or contemptible
Mutch, n., a woman's cap
Mutchkin, n., a liquid measure of
four gills
Na, adv., no; nay
Na-say, n., nay-say; refusal
Nabal, adj., ill-natured; churlish
Nace, adj., destitute; threadbare
Nae, adj., no
Naething, n., nothing
Nain, adj., own: nown is a more refined
Naitral, adj., natural
Nane, pro., none
Natur-girss, n., natural herbage
Near-b'gyaunness, n., niggardliness
Nedder, Nedderin, pro. and conj.,
Neeps,, turnips
Neen, pro., none
Negleck, v.t., to neglect: part. neqleckit,
Neibourheid, n., neighbourhood
Neist, adj., next
Nervish, adj., nervous
Neuk or nyeuk, n., nook; corner
Newse, v.i., to talk or gossip
Newsie, adj., full of news; communicative

Nicket, adj., disappointed; put in a
Nickum, n., mischievous or roystering
Nievefu', n., handful
Niffer, v.t., to exchange
Niz, n., nose
Nizzin, n., nosing; a sharp reception;
a drubbing
Noo, adv., now
No, adv., now. at the end of sentences,
especially when interrogative
Non-intrusion, adj., not intruding a
minister on a reclaiming congregation

Nor, conj., than (after a comparative)

Not, v.t., needed; required
Notionate, adj., opinionative; obstinate

Nowto, n. nolt; cattle
Nyatter, v.i., to talk peevishly; to
Nyod, interj., semi-profane exclamation,
equivalent to ods or od, with
the characteristic negative prefixed
Ochtna, ought not
On-been, v., without being,
On-carry, n., ongoing
Ondeemas, adj., enormous; extraordinary

Onfeelin', adj., unfeeling
Ongaens,, ongoings; transactions;
Ongrutten, part. adj., without shedding
tears; from greet, to weep
'Oo', n., wool
Ooncanny, adj., uncanny; mischievous;
Oor, pron., our: oor nain, our own
'Oor, n., hour
Oorlich, adj., shivering with cold and
rain: oorlich nicht, a cold, raw night
Ootfeedles,, outfields
Ootgang, n., outgo; excess over
weight or measure
Ootwuth, adv., outwardly; fully
Opingan, n., opinion
Ordeen, v.t., to ordain
Orpiet, adj., peevish; querulous
Orra, adj., unappropriated: orra
man, one who does odd jobs not
appropriated to the other servants
Ouk, n., week
Oxter, n., the armpit; the bosom
Overly, adj., incidental
Owdience, n., audience
Owre, prep., over
Owsen,, oxen
Pairis, n., parish
Pairts,, parts; abilities
Pape, n., The Pope
Parkie, n., dim. of park; a small
enclosed field
Partan, n., a crab
Pass, n., passage
Peeak, v.i., to complain peevishly;
to cry like a chicken
Pech, n., forcible emission of the
Peer, adj., poor
Penner, n., penholder; cylindrical
wooden case for holding pens
Percurrence, n., Dawvid meant concurrence

Perjink, adj., precise
Pernickity, adj., precise; fastidious
Piece, n., a bit of oatcakes, given as
extemporised lunch
Pig, n., a jar
Pilgit, n., contest
Pirl, v.i., to stir or poke
Pit, v.t., to put; past part., pitten,
Place, n., the laird's residence, by
Placie, n., dim. of place; a small
Plaids,, blankets
Pleuch, n., plough; dim. pleuchie
Plype, v.i., to plump, or fall into
Points,, shoe-strings or shoe-ties

Poleetics,, politics: politician is
applied to one given to discussion
or the expression of opinion, whether
political or not
Pooder, n., powder: lattin' oot the
pooder, divulging the secret
Poo'er, n., power: poo'er o' pot an'
gallows, the old feudal power to
hang or drown
Poopit, n., pulpit
Pow, u., poll; head: wag his pow in
a poopit, periphrasis for to preach
Pran, v.t., to crush; to hurt
Preen-heidit, n., pin-headed; of
diminutive mental calibre
Prent, n., print
Preceesely, adv., precisely; exactly
Precent, v.i., to lead the Psalmody
in a Presbyterian kirk
Precunnance, n., condition; footing
Preen, n., pin
Progresses,, processes: Mrs.
Birse meant the legal means of
bringing the defendant into court
Protticks,, rash or idle experiments

Puchil, adj., self-important; consequential

Puckle, n., a quantity or number:
dim. pucklie
Pumphel, n., enclosure or pen for
cattle; the laird's seat being "boxed
in," by the greater elevation of the
panelling, suggested the comparison
to "irreverent youth"
Pun' and poun', n., a pound; when
used for weight, pronounced pun',
but for money poun'
Put an' row (wi' a), adv., with difficulty;
perhaps from putting the
stone, where the goal is reached only
by the stone rolling after it falls
Purple, adj., purple
Quaetness, n., quietness; peace
Queetikins,, spatterdashes
Queets,, ankles
Quine, n., quean; sometimes implying
moral delinquency, and sometimes
Raffy, adj., abundant; liberal; generous

Raik, v.i., to reck; to care: what
raiks? what does it signify?
Raith, n., quarter of a year
Raither, adv., rather
Rampauge, n., fury; rage
Ramsh, adj., hasty; rash
Ramshackle, adj., thoughtless; headstrong

Randy, n., a scold; a loose-tongued
Ranegill, adj., renegade
Rantletree, n., the beam across the
chimney by which the crook is suspended

Rape, n., a rope, especially one made
of straw
Rauchle, adj., noisy; clamorous
Rave, v. t., pret. of rive, to tear
Reamin', adj., creaming; mantling;
Rebat, v.i., to retort; to speak again
Redd, v.t., to clear out: redd up, to
put in order
Reek-hen, n., a hen exacted for every
reeking chimney or inhabited house;
later, hens exacted in proportion to
rent of farm
Reerie, n., uproar; clamour
Reest, v.t., to arrest; to put an arrest
upon: v.i., to roost
Reet, n., root
Reef, n., roof
Reed, n., rood; land measure
Reek, n., smoke; to give one his
kail through the reek, is to punish
him, as by fisticuffs
Refeese, v., to refuse
Reive, v. t., pret. of rive; tore
Remorsin', part., expressing regret
Repree, v.t., to reprove
Requair, v.t., to require
Richt, v.t., to right: richtet, righted
Rickle, n., a structure put loosely together,
or getting dilapidated
Rig, n., a ridge; a practical joke or
Rin, v.i., to run: pr. part., rinnin',
Rink, v.t., to scramble, as over a
Rinnins,, outlines; principal
points; beads
Robbie, n., dim. of Robert
Roch, adj., rough; coarse
Roon, adv., round
Roose, v.t., to rouse; to stir up
Row, v., to roll
Rowle, n., rule
Royt, adj., wild; full of rough frolic
Ruck, n., a corn-stack: dim., ruckie
Rug, v.t., to pull
Rumgumption, n., common-sense;
Ryn, n., rein
Sae, adv. and conj., so
Saick, n., sack
Sair, v.t., to serve: sairin, serving
Sair, adj., sore; painful; oppressive
Sang, n., expletive, possibly from
sanguis, blood
Sanna, v., shall not
Sanshach, adj., saucy; disdainful
Sattle, v.t., to settle: sattl't, settled
Sauchen, adj., still and unsociable
in manner
Saun'ers, n., Alexander
Saurless, adj., tasteless, or spiritless
Saut, n. and adj., salt
Sauter, n., salter; one who can do
sharp or severe things
Sawna, v.t., saw not
Sax, adj., six
Scaad, n., scald
Scabbit, adj., scabbed
Scaum, v.t., to scorch; to burn or
heat slightly
Sclaittie, n., dim. of sclate, a slate
Sclaffert, n., a stroke with the palm
of the hand
Sclaive, v.t., to proclaim sinister
reports open-mouthed
Scoon'rel, n., scoundrel
Scoug, n., a shelter; a pretence
Scouth, n., room; accommodation
Scraichin', pres. part., screaming;
Scronach, n., a querulous outcry
Scry, v.t., to cry; to proclaim, as an
Scunner, n., disgust
Scunnerfu', adj., disgusting; loathsome

Seelent, adj., silent
Seen, adv., soon: seener, sooner
Seenit, n., Synod
Seerly, adv., surely
Seet, n., site; ground on which to
Seetivation, n., situation
Selfitness, n., selfishness
Sells an' thrammels,, the fastenings
of cattle. The sell goes round
the neck. The thrammel is a chain
with swivel in it for attaching the
sell to the stake
Sen's,, those sent as forerunners
Serve's, interj., contraction of preserve
Settril, adj., slightly stunted in growth
Seyven, adj., seven
Shall, n., shell: shally, adj., shelly,
abounding in shells
Shalt, n., a pony
Shakker, n., part of a threshing mill
which shakes out the straw
Shank, n., a stocking in process of
being knitted; the leg
Sharnie, adj., besmeared with sharn
or cow's dung
Sharries,, contentions; quarrels
Sheelocks,, the shells or husks
of ground oats
Sheet, v., to shoot
Shelvins,, slipboards to increase
the capacity of a cart
Sheen,, shoes
Sheugh, n., a ditch; a small ravine
Shirra, n., sheriff
Shoo'er, n., shower
Shou'ders or shooders,, shoulders

Shrood, n., shroud
Sib, adj., allied by blood
Sic, indef. pron., such
Siccan, adj., such
Siccar, adj., sure; secure
Siclike, adj., such-like
Siller, n., silver; money in general
Simmer, n., summer
Sin', adv., since
Sindoon, n., sundown
Sin'er, v., to sunder; to separate
Sin'ry, adj., separate; apart
Sinsyne, adv., since that time
Sizzon, n., season
Sipper, n., supper
Skaikit, past part., bedaubed; besmeared

Skail, v.i., to break up or dismiss, as
a congregation
Skaillie, n., slate-pencil
Skair't, adj., frightened
Skance, n., glance; cursory examina-

Skelbs,, splinters; broken pieces
Skelf, n., shelf
Skellach, n., charlock, wild mustard
Skirp, v.t., to throw out water or any
liquid matter in drops
Skirps,, splashes: skirpit, p.
part. splashed
Skowff, v.t., to quaff; to drink off
Skweel, n., school
Skyrin, adj., shining glaringly, obtrusively,
or ostentatiously
Sleicht, n., sleight
Sleumin, n., hint; surmise; faint intimation

Slights,, slights
Slype, n., contemptible fellow; a peculiarly
opprobrious epithet
Smatchet, n., a contemptible child;
an insignificant person
Smeddum, n., shrewdness; intelligence

Snapper, v. i., to stumble, as a horse
Snappus, adj., snappish
Sneeshinie, adj., snuffy, from sneeshin,
Snell, adj., keen; piercing
Snifterin, past part., drawing air
through the nose
Snippet, adj., having a white streak
down the face
Snod, adj., neat
Snorl, n., a difficulty; a scrape
Soo, n., sow
Sook, v.t., suck
Sorra, n., sorrow; the devil (in profane
Soun', adj., sound; in religion, orthodox

Sough, n., an indistinct sound; a rumour

Souter, n., shoemaker
Sowens, n., oatmeal flummery
Spats,, abbreviation of spatter-dashes

Spean, v.t., to wean
Speer, v.i., to ask; to question
Spin'lin', pr. part., to spindle; to
grow up as a spindle
Sprots,, coarse grass
Spull, v.t., spill
Spyauck, n., example; guide
Squallachin, n., clamorous noise;
Stafty-nevel, adj., staff-in-hand:
staffy-nevel job, fight with cudgels
Stainch, adj., staunch
Staito, n., statute
Stamack, n., stomach: dim. stamàckie

Stan, n., a set
Stance, n., a station, or site
Stane or steen, n., stone
Stank, n., a ditch
Starn, n., a star; a very small quantity

Starshie, n., uproar; quarrel
Stappin', part., stepping
Steadin', n., farm-house and its appurtenances

Stech, v.t., to cram; to satiate; to
Steel, n., stool
Sten'in, pr. part., stending; walking
with long strides
Sticket, past part. of to stick: sticket
minister, one who, after a certain
extent of study, has failed to get
licence as a preacher
Stickie, n., dim. of stick, a piece of
Stibble, n., stubble
Stiffen, n., stiffening; starch
Stilperts,, stilts; meagre, long-legged
Stobthacket, adj., thatched by driving
in the straw with a stob
Stock, n., a good-natured fellow
Stoit or styte, n., nonsense: stoit,
v.i., to walk jerkingly or staggeringly

Stoot, adj., stout; healthy
Stoups,, props; supports; the
two pieces of the frame of a cart
that project beyond the body, and
support it when tilted up
Stramash, n., disorder; broil
Strae, n., straw
Strap, v.t., to bind as with an iron
Strappin, adj., tall, handsome, and
Straucht, adj. or v.t., straight; to
Stravaig, v.i., to wander about idly
Streak, adj.. strict
Streetch, v.t., to stretch
Streek, v.t., to stretch: streekit,
stretched; begun, applied primarily
to ploughing
Streen, n., yesternight
Strunge, adj., sour; surly
Stur, n., stir: sturrin, adj., stirring
Succur, n., sugar
Sucken, n.. the district thirled to
a mill; generally the district in
which anyone carries on business
Superannuat, adj., annually, according
to Mrs. Raffan
Supplicant, n., a beggar
Suppit, pret. and part. of to sup; to
eat with a spoon
Swarf, n., fainting-fit; swoon
Sweer, adj., lazy; indolent
Sweetie-wives,, women who
attend marriages to sell confections
Swick, n., blame
Swyppirt, adj., swift; sudden; abrupt
Syne, adv., since
Swye, n., sway; influence
Swype, n., sweep
Tack, n., the lease of a farm; the
farm so leased
Tacket, n., a hobnail: tacketie, full
of hobnails
Tae, n., tea; toe: taebit, toepiece
Tak', v.t., to take
Tatie, n., potato
Taupie, n., simpleton; a slatternly
Taul, v.t., told
Ted, n., toad; a term of contempt, as
applied to a man: the dim. teddie,
is used as a term of endearment,
however, as O you bonnie teddie,
addressed to a child
Tee, adv., too; likewise
Teels,, tools; implements
Teem, adj., empty
Teen, n., tune; humour; temper
Terrible, adv., this word is very
frequently used in the sense of
exceedingly, as terrible little, or
terrible bonnie
Tes'ment, n., testament
Thack, n., thatch
That, adv., used instead of so: that
drunk, so drunk, &c.; nae that ill,
not so bad (haud ita male)
Theets,, the traces by which
cattle draw in a plough, &c.: oot o'
theets, or owre the theets, is acting
disorderly or extravagantly
Thegither, adv., together
Thereoot, adv., outside; in the open
Thig, v.i., to beg, generally applied
to the olden practice of begging
seed oats to sow first crop on entering
a farm
Thirl, v.t., to astrict or bind
Threep, v.i., to insist pertinaciously
Thole, v.t., to suffer; to endure; to
Thoom, n., thumb: to keep one's
thoom upon, to conceal
Throu-the-muir, n., quarrel; contention

Ticht, adj., tight
Tig, v.i., to touch lightly; to dally;
to meddle playfully
Tine, v.t., to lose; past part. tint,
Tinkler, n., tinker: tinkler's curse,
something of no consideration or
Toitin', part., trotting; moving about
ploddingly, or submissively
Toon, n., a town; a farm steading
Tout, v.t., to sound as a horn
Toosht, n. and v.i., an untidy quantity
of anything; to handle carelessly
Tow, n., rope
Towmon, n., twelvemonths
Trachel, v.i., to draggle; to abuse
through slovenliness
Trag, n., trash; worthless stuff
Trance, n., the entrance; the lobby
or passage
Transack, n., transaction; affair
Treeshin, pr. part., calling cattle
Tribble, n. and v.t., trouble; distress;
affliction; to trouble
Trock, n., small ware; goods of little
value: v., to exchange; to trade in
a small way
Truncher, n., trencher
Trypal, n., tall, lank, or slovenly
Tryst, v.t., to appoint a time or place
of meeting: n., an engagement
Tyeuk, v.t., took
Turkis, n., nippers or pincers
Turnkwite, n., turncoat; backslider
Turra, n., Turriff, the name of a town
Twa, adj., two
Twall, adj., twelve
Tycein, pr. part., enticing; coaxing
Um'rage, n., umbrage
Unce, n., ounce
Unco, adj. or adv., strange; uncommon:
an unco man, a stranger
Un'ersteed, v., understood
Upfeshin, n., upbringing; training
Upsettin', adj., pretentious
Uptak, n., apprehension
Up-throu', prep. used as a noun;
upper part of the country
Veelent, adj., violent
Vera, adv., very,
Veto-law, n., Scotch ecclesiastical
term, signifying a law to empower
a congregation to object to the
ordination of a minister over them,
should they consider him unsuitable
Viackle, n., vehicle; conveyance
Vizzy, n., look: vizzy backart, retrospect

Vokie, adj., jocular; in exultant
Vrang, adj., wrong
Vratch, n., wretch
Vreet, vreetin, n., writing
Vrote, v.t., pret. and part., wrote;
Wale, v.t., to select
Walloch, n., a characteristic Highland
Walls,, wells
Warna, v.i., were not
Wanworth, n., unworth; an insignificant
Warsh, or warsh-like, adj., insipid;
Wa's,, walls
Wainish't-like, adj., vanished-like;
thin; meagre-looking
Wallydraggle, n., an insignificant,
untidy person; an ill-grown animal
Waur, adj., worse
Walthy, adj., wealthy
Wan, adv., way; direction: Ba'dyfash
wan, in the direction of Baldyfash

Waucht, n., draught
Wauger, v.i., to wager; to bet
Wear-awa', to wear away; to die
Wecht, n., weight
Weel, adv., well
Weel-faur't, adj., well-favoured;-
Weel-a-wuns, interj., exclamation
expressive of soothing and endearment

Weer, n., wire; knitting-needles
Weet, adj., wet
Weesht, interj., whist! silence!
Weirdless, adj., worthless; thriftless
Went, n., glance; blink
Whigmaleerie, n., whim; fancy
Whitet, or whitie-broons,, unbleached
lint thread
Wi', prep., with
Wifie, n., a little woman, whether a
wife or not
Wil', adj. or adv., wild, or wildly
Wile, v.t., to wale; to select
Wilipen', v.t., vilipend; vilify; to
Win'y, adj., windy; boastful
Winsome, adj., attractive; comely
Witter, n., barb of a dart or hook:
witters (withers), the throat
Wordle, n., world
Won'er, n., wonder
Woo, interj., call to a horse to stand
Wordy, adj., worthy; deserving
Wormit, n., wormwood
Wraith, n., apparition of a person,
supposed to be seen immediately
before or after his death
Wud, aux.v., would; wudna, would
Wud, adj., mad
Wuddie, n., withie, i.e., the withe by
which the criminal is hanged, hence
the word is popularly used for the
gibbet itself
Wudden, adj., wild; mad
Wunt, v.t., to want; to seek
Wup, v.t., to bind round, as with
thread, &c.
Wusna, v.i., was not
Wuss, v.t., to wish
Wye, n., way; manner
Wyme, n., stomach; belly
Wyte, v.i., to wait; n., blame
Yabble, v., to speak loudly and rapidly
with indistinct utterance
Yalla, adj., yellow
Yap, adj., hungry
Yaucht, v.t., to own
Yauws,, arms, e.g., of a windmill

Yawfu', adj., awful
Yearock, n., a hen not exceeding a
year old; a pullet
Yer, pron., your
Yerl, n., earl
Yett, n., a gate
Yirnin, n., rennet; the stomach of a
Yokit, v.t., yoked
Yule and Yeel, n., Christmas
"Were I more confident of my title to speak with authority
on a literary question, I would not scruple to dilate upon its
merits as a most vigorous and truthful delineation of local character,
drawn from a portion of the country where that character
is peculiarly worthy of careful study and record." — Right Hon.
W. E. Gladstone.
"It is a grand addition to our pure Scottish dialect; and
. . . it is not merely a capital specimen of genuine Scottish
northern dialect; but it is a capital specimen of pawky characteristic
Scottish humour. It is full of good hard Scottish dry
fun." — Dean Ramsay.
"A most admirable book, representing dialect and character
most truly to nature; one of the cleverest books of district description
and district narrative that has ever been published." —
Professor Masson.
"In this little book, we have a picture of Aberdeenshire rural
life which, for truthfulness to nature, rivals photography. The
different grades of the population, their pursuits, their manners
and morals, their ways of thinking, and the peculiarities of their
speech, are reproduced, in the minutest detail, with almost startling
reality. At the same time, it is not a mere chance huddle
of images that is presented. The book is a real work of art. . .
A distinct element of interest in the book is the dialect in which
it is written, which we have never seen so fully and accurately
represented . . . . We commend the book on this score to
all who are curious in such matters. The Philological Society
should treasure it up as one of the most authentic documents for
their forthcoming dictionary." — Scotsman.


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APA Style:

Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk. 2024. In The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 18 July 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk." The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 18 July 2024.

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The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk

Document Information

Document ID 128
Title Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk
Year group 1850-1900
Genre Imaginative prose
Year of publication 1873
Wordcount 115230

Author information: Alexander, Mr William

Author ID 207
Title Mr
Forenames William
Surname Alexander
Gender Male
Year of birth 1826
Place of birth Garioch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Mother's place of birth Old Rayne, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Occupation Journalist, editor, author
Father's occupation Blacksmith, farmer
Locations where resident Aberdeen