Being Such Extracts from
the Commonplace Book
of Penelope Hamilton
As Relate to Her
KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN
Boston and New York
The Riverside Press
Boston And New York
Houghton, Mifflin and Company
The Riverside Press, Cambridge
Copyright, 1897 and 1898, by Houghton, Mifflin and Company
Copyright, 1898, by Kate Douglas Riggs
All Rights Reserved
G. C. R.
PART FIRST. IN TOWN
I. A Triangular Alliance 1
II. "Edina, Scotia's Darling Seat" 12
III. A Vision in Princes Street 18
IV. Susanna Crum couldna say 29
V. We emulate the Jackdaw 38
VI. Edinburgh Society, Past and Present 48
VII. Francesca meets th' Unconquer'd Scot 60
VIII. "What made th' Assembly shine?" 70
IX. Omnia Presbyteria est Divisa in Partes Tres 82
X. Mrs. M'collop as a Sermon-Taster 93
XI. Holyrood awakens 101
XII. Farewell to Edinburgh 117
XIII. The Spell of Scotland 124
PART SECOND. IN THE COUNTRY
XIV. The Wee Theekit Hoosie in the Loaning 137
XV. Jane Grieve and her Grievances 147
XVI. The Path that led to Crummylowe 161
XVII. Playing Sir Patrick Spens 168
XVIII. Paris comes to Pettybaw 182
XIX. Fowk o' Fife 190
XX. A Fifeshire Tea-Party 207
XXI. International Bickering 214
XXII. Francesca entertains the Green-Eyed Monster 224
XXIII. Ballad Revels at Rowardennan 234
XXIV. Old Songs and Modern Instances 244
XXV. A Treaty between Nations 255
XXVI. "Scotland's burning! Look out!" 260
XXVII. Three Magpies and a Marriage 265
PART FIRST. IN TOWN
"Edina, Scotia's darling seat!
All hail thy palaces and towers!"
Edinburgh, April, 189-.
22, Breadalbane Terrace.
We have traveled together before, Salemina, Francesca, and I, and we
know the very worst there is to know about one another. After this
point has been reached, it is as if a triangular marriage had taken
place, and, with the honeymoon comfortably over, we slip along in
thoroughly friendly fashion. I use no warmer word than "friendly"
because, in the first place, the highest tides of feeling do not visit
the coast of triangular alliances; and because, in the second place,
"friendly" is a word capable of putting to the blush many a more
passionate and endearing one.
Every one knows of our experiences in England, for we wrote volumes of
letters concerning them, the which were widely circulated among our
friends at the time and read aloud under the evening lamps in the
several cities of our residence.
Since then few striking changes have taken place in our history.
Salemina returned to Boston for the winter, to find, to her amazement,
that for forty odd years she had been rather overestimating it.
On arriving in New York, Francesca discovered that the young lawyer
whom for six months she had been advising to marry somebody "more
worthy than herself" was at last about to do it. This was somewhat in
the nature of a shock, for Francesca has been in the habit, ever since
she was seventeen, of giving her lovers similar advice, and up to this
time no one of them has ever taken it. She therefore has had the not
unnatural hope, I think, of organizing at one time or another all
these disappointed and faithful swains into a celibate brotherhood;
and perhaps of driving by the interesting monastery with her husband
and calling his attention modestly to the fact that these poor monks
were filling their barren lives with deeds of piety, trying to
remember their Creator with such assiduity that they might, in time,
Her chagrin was all the keener at losing this last aspirant to her
hand in that she had almost persuaded herself that she was as fond of
him as she was likely to be of anybody, and that, on the whole, she
had better marry him and save his life and reason.
Fortunately she had not communicated this gleam of hope by letter,
feeling, I suppose, that she would like to see for herself the light
of joy breaking over his pale cheek. The scene would have been rather
pretty and touching, but meantime the Worm had turned and dispatched a
letter to the Majestic at the quarantine station, telling her that he
had found a less reluctant bride in the person of her intimate friend
Miss Rosa Van Brunt; and so Francesca's dream of duty and sacrifice
Salemina says she was somewhat constrained for a week and a trifle
cynical for a fortnight, but that afterwards her spirits mounted on
ever ascending spirals to impossible heights, where they have since
remained. It appears from all this that although she was piqued at
being taken at her word, her heart was not in the least damaged. It
never was one of those fragile things which have to be wrapped in
cotton, and preserved from the slightest blow—Francesca's heart. It
is made of excellent stout, durable material, and I often tell her
with the care she takes of it, and the moderate strain to which it is
subjected, it ought to be as good as new a hundred years hence.
As for me, the scene of my own love story is laid in America and
England, and has naught to do with Edinburgh. It is far from finished;
indeed, I hope it will be the longest serial on record, one of those
charming tales that grow in interest as chapter after chapter unfolds,
until at the end we feel as if we could never part with the delightful
I should be, at this very moment, Mrs. William Beresford, a highly
respectable young matron who painted rather good pictures in her
spinster days, when she was Penelope Hamilton of the great American
working-class, Unlimited; but first Mrs. Beresford's dangerous
illness, and then her death, have kept my dear boy a willing prisoner
in Cannes, his heart sadly torn betwixt his love and duty to his
mother and his desire to be with me. The separation is virtually over
now, and we two, alas, have ne'er a mother or a father between us, so
we shall not wait many months before beginning to comfort each other
in good earnest.
Meantime Salemina and Francesca have persuaded me to join their
forces, and Mr. Beresford will follow us to Scotland in a few short
weeks, when we shall have established ourselves in the country.
We are overjoyed at being together again, we three women folk. As I
said before, we know the worst of one another, and the future has no
terrors. We have learned, for example, that:—
Francesca does not like an early morning start. Salemina refuses to
arrive late anywhere. Penelope prefers to stay behind and follow next
Francesca scorns to travel third class. So does Salemina, but she will
Penelope hates a four-wheeler. Salemina is nervous in a hansom.
Francesca prefers a Victoria.
Salemina likes a steady fire in the grate. Penelope opens a window and
Salemina inclines to instructive and profitable expeditions. Francesca
loves processions and sightseeing. Penelope abhors all of these
Salemina likes history. Francesca loves fiction. Penelope adores
poetry and detests facts.
Penelope likes substantial breakfasts. Francesca dislikes the sight of
food in the morning.
In the matter of breakfasts, when we have leisure to assert our
individual tastes, Salemina prefers tea, Francesca cocoa, and I,
coffee. We can never, therefore, be served with a large comfortable
pot of anything, but are confronted instead with a caravan of silver
jugs, china jugs, bowls of hard and soft sugar, hot milk, cold milk,
hot water, and cream, while each in her secret heart wishes that the
other two were less exigeante in the matter of diet.
This does not sound promising, but it works perfectly well in practice
by the exercise of a little flexibility.
As we left dear old Dovermarle Street and Smith's Private Hotel
behind, and drove to the station to take the Flying Scotsman, we
indulged in floods of reminiscence over the joys of travel we had
tasted together in the past, and talked with lively anticipation of
the new experiences awaiting us in the land of heather.
While Salemina went to purchase the three first-class tickets, I
superintended the porters as they disposed our luggage in the van, and
in so doing my eye lighted upon a third-class carriage which was, for
a wonder, clean, comfortable, and vacant. Comparing it hastily with
the first-class compartment being held by Francesca, I found that it
differed only in having no carpet on the floor, and a smaller number
of buttons in the upholstering. This was really heart-rending when the
difference in fare for three persons would be at least twenty dollars.
What a delightful sum to put aside for a rainy day; that is, you
understand, what a delightful sum to put aside and spend on the first
rainy day; for that is the way we always interpret the expression.
When Salemina returned with the tickets, she found me, as usual,
bewailing our extravagance.
Francesca descended suddenly from her post, and, snatching the tickets
from her duenna, exclaimed, "'I know that I can save the country, and
I know no other man can!' as William Pitt said to the Duke of
Devonshire. I have had enough of this argument. For six months of last
year we discussed traveling third class and continued to travel first.
Get into that clean, hard-seated, ill-upholstered third-class carriage
immediately, both of you; save room enough for a mother with two
babies, a man carrying a basket of fish, and an old woman with five
pieces of hand-luggage and a dog; meanwhile I will exchange the
So saying, she disappeared rapidly among the throng of passengers,
guards, porters, newspaper boys, golfers with bags of clubs, young
ladies with bicycles, and old ladies with tin hat-boxes.
"What decision, what swiftness of judgment, what courage and energy!"
murmured Salemina. "Isn't she wonderfully improved since that
unexpected turning of the Worm?"
Francesca rejoined us just as the guard was about to lock us in, and
flung herself down, quite breathless from her unusual exertion.
"Well, we are traveling third for once, and the money is saved, or at
least it is ready to spend again at the first opportunity. The man
didn't wish to exchange the tickets at all. He says it is never done.
I told him they were bought by a very inexperienced American lady
(that is you, Salemina) who knew almost nothing of the distinctions
between first and third class, and naturally took the best, believing
it to be none too good for a citizen of the greatest republic on the
face of the earth. He said the tickets had been stamped on. I said so
should I be if I returned without exchanging them. He was a very dense
person, and didn't see my joke at all, but then, it is true, there
were thirteen men in line behind me, with the train starting in three
minutes, and there is nothing so debilitating to a naturally weak
sense of humor as selling tickets behind a grating, so I am not really
vexed with him. There! we are quite comfortable, pending the arrival
of the babies, the dog, and the fish, and certainly no vender of
periodic literature will dare approach us while we keep these books in
She had Laurence Hutton's "Literary Landmarks" and "Royal Edinburgh,"
by Mrs. Oliphant; I had Lord Cockburn's Memorials of his Time; and
somebody had given Salemina, at the moment of leaving London, a work
on "Scotia's darling seat," in three huge volumes. When all this
printed matter was heaped on the top of Salemina's hold-all on the
platform, the guard had asked, "Do you belong to these books, mam?"
"We may consider ourselves injured in going from London to Edinburgh
in a third-class carriage in eight or ten hours, but listen to this,"
said Salemina, who had opened one of her large volumes at random when
the train started.
"'The Edinburgh and London Stage-Coach begins on Monday, 13th October,
1712. All that desire … let them repair to the Coach and Horses at
the head of the Canongate every Saturday, or the Black Swan in
Holborn every other Monday, at both of which places they may be
received in a coach which performs the whole journey in thirteen days
without any stoppage (if God permits) having eighty able horses. Each
passenger paying £4 10s. for the whole journey, alowing each 20 lbs.
weight and all above to pay 6d. per lb. The coach sets off at six in
the morning' (you could never have caught it, Francesca!), 'and is
performed by Henry Harrison.' And here is a 'modern improvement,'
forty-two years later. In July, 1754, the 'Edinburgh Courant'
advertises the stage-coach drawn by six horses, with a postilion on
one of the leaders, as a 'new, genteel, two-end glass machine, hung on
steel springs, exceeding light and easy, to go in ten days in summer
and twelve in winter. Passengers to pay as usual. Performed (if God
permits) by your dutiful servant, Hosea Eastgate. Care is taken of
small parcels according to their value.'"
"It would have been a long, wearisome journey," said I, contemplatively;
"but, nevertheless, I wish we were making it in 1712 instead of a
century and three quarters later."
"What would have been happening, Salemina?" asked Francesca politely,
but with no real desire to know.
"The Union had been already established five years," began Salemina
Salemina is used to these interruptions and eruptions of illiteracy on
our part. I think she rather enjoys them, as in the presence of such
complete ignorance as ours her lamp of knowledge burns all the
"Anne was on the throne," she went on, with serene dignity.
"I know the Anne!" exclaimed Francesca excitedly. "She came from the
Midnight Sun country, or up that way. She was very extravagant, and
had something to do with Jingling Geordie in 'The Fortunes of Nigel.'
It is marvelous how one's history comes back to one!"
"Quite marvelous," said Salemina dryly; "or at least the state in
which it comes back is marvelous. I am not a stickler for dates, as
you know, but if you could only contrive to fix a few periods in your
minds, girls, just in a general way, you would not be so shamefully
befogged. Your Anne of Denmark, Francesca, was the wife of James VI.
of Scotland, who was James I. of England, and she died a hundred years
before the Anne I mean,—the last of the Stuarts, you know. My Anne
came after William and Mary, and before the Georges."
"Which William and Mary?"
But this was too much even for Salemina's equanimity, and she retired
behind her book in dignified displeasure, while Francesca and I meekly
looked up the Annes in a genealogical table, and tried to decide
whether "b. 1665" meant born or beheaded.
The weather that greeted us on our unheralded arrival in Scotland was
of the precise sort offered by Edinburgh to her unfortunate queen,
"After a youth by woes o'ercast,
After a thousand sorrows past,
The lovely Mary once again
Set foot upon her native plain."
John Knox records of those memorable days: "The very face of heaven
did manifestlie speak what comfort was brought to this country with
hir—to wit, sorrow, dolour, darkness and all impiety—for in the
memorie of man never was seen a more dolorous face of the heavens than
was at her arryvall … the myst was so thick that skairse micht onie
man espy another; and the sun was not seyn to shyne two days befoir
nor two days after."
We could not see Edina's famous palaces and towers because of the
haar, that damp, chilling, drizzling, dripping fog or mist which the
east wind summons from the sea; but we knew that they were there,
shrouded in the heart of that opaque mysterious grayness, and that
before many hours our eyes would feast upon their beauty.
Perhaps it was the weather, but I could think of nothing but poor
Queen Mary! She had drifted into my imagination with the haar, so
that I could fancy her homesick gaze across the water as she murmured,
"Adieu, ma chère France! Je ne vous verray jamais plus!"—could
fancy her saying as in Allan Cunningham's verse:—
"The sun rises bright in France,
And fair sets he;
But he hath tint the blithe blink he had
In my ain countree."
And then I recalled Mary's first good-night in Edinburgh: that
"serenade of 500 rascals with vile fiddles and rebecks;" that singing,
"in bad accord," of Protestant psalms by the wet crowd beneath the
palace windows, while the fires on Arthur's Seat shot flickering
gleams of welcome through the dreary fog. What a lullaby for poor
Mary, half Frenchwoman and all Papist!
It is but just to remember the "indefatigable and undissuadable" John
Knox's statement, "the melody lyked her weill and she willed the same
to be continewed some nightis after." For my part, however, I distrust
John Knox's musical feeling, and incline sympathetically to the Sieur
de Brantôme's account, with its "vile fiddles" and "discordant
psalms," although his judgment was doubtless a good deal depressed by
what he called the si grand brouillard that so dampened the spirits
of Mary's French retinue.
Ah well, I was obliged to remember, in order to be reasonably happy
myself, that Mary had a gay heart, after all; that she was but
nineteen; that, though already a widow, she did not mourn her young
husband as one who could not be comforted; and that she must soon have
been furnished with merrier music than the psalms, for another of the
sour comments of the time is, "Our Queen weareth the dule [weeds], but
she can dance daily, dule and all!"
These were my thoughts as we drove through invisible streets in the
Edinburgh haar, turned into what proved next day to be a Crescent,
and drew up to an invisible house with a visible number 22 gleaming
over a door which gaslight transformed into a probability. We
alighted, and though we could scarcely see the driver's outstretched
hand, he was quite able to discern a half-crown, and demanded three
The noise of our cab had brought Mrs. M'Collop to the door,—good (or
at least pretty good) Mrs. M'Collop, to whose apartments we had been
commended by English friends who had never occupied them.
Dreary as it was without, all was comfortable within doors, and a
cheery (one-and-sixpenny) fire crackled in the grate. Our private
drawing-room was charmingly furnished, and so large that,
notwithstanding the presence of a piano, two sofas, five small tables,
cabinets, desks, and chairs,—not forgetting a dainty five-o'clock tea
equipage,—we might have given a party in the remaining space.
"If this is a typical Scotch lodging I like it; and if it is Scotch
hospitality to lay the cloth and make the fire before it is asked for,
then I call it simply Arabian in character!" and Salemina drew off her
damp gloves, and extended her hands to the blaze.
"And isn't it delightful that the bill doesn't come in for a whole
week?" asked Francesca. "We have only our English experiences on which
to found our knowledge, and all is delicious mystery. The tea may be a
present from Mrs. M'Collop, and the sugar may not be an extra; the
fire may be included in the rent of the apartment, and the piano may
not be taken away to-morrow to enhance the attractions of the
dining-room floor." (It was Francesca, you remember, who had
"warstled" with the itemized accounts at Smith's Private Hotel in
London, and she who was always obliged to turn pounds, shillings, and
pence into dollars and cents before she could add or subtract.)
"Come and look at the flowers in my bedroom," I called, "four great
boxes full! Mr. Beresford must have ordered the carnations, because he
always does; but where did the roses come from, I wonder?"
I rang the bell, and a neat white-aproned maid appeared.
"Who brought these flowers, please?"
"I couldna say, mam."
"Thank you; will you be good enough to ask Mrs. M'Collop?"
In a moment she returned with the message, "There will be a letter in
the box, mam."
"It seems to me the letter should be in the box now, if it is ever to
be," I thought, and I presently drew this card from among the fragrant
"Lady Baird sends these Scotch roses as a small return for the
pleasure she has received from Miss Hamilton's pictures. Lady Baird
will give herself the pleasure of calling to-morrow; meantime she
hopes that Miss Hamilton and her party will dine with her some evening
"How nice!" exclaimed Salemina.
"The celebrated Miss Hamilton's undistinguished party presents its
humble compliments to Lady Baird," chanted Francesca, "and having no
engagements whatever, and small hope of any, will dine with her on any
and every evening she may name. Miss Hamilton's party will wear its
best clothes, polish its mental jewels, and endeavor in every possible
way not to injure the gifted Miss Hamilton's reputation among the
I wrote a hasty note of thanks to Lady Baird, and rang the bell.
"Can I send a message, please?" I asked the maid.
"I couldna say, mam."
"Will you be good enough to ask Mrs. M'Collop, please?"
"The Boots will tak' it at seeven o'clock, mam."
"Thank you; is Fotheringay Crescent near here?"
"I couldna say, mam."
"Thank you; what is your name, please?"
I waited in well-grounded anxiety, for I had no idea that she knew her
name, or that if she had ever heard it, she could say it; but, to my
surprise, she answered almost immediately, "Susanna Crum, mam!"
What a joy it is in a vexatious world, where things "gang aft agley,"
to find something absolutely right.
If I had devoted years to the subject, having the body of Susanna Crum
before my eyes every minute of the time for inspiration, Susanna Crum
is what I should have named that maid. Not a vowel could be added, not
a consonant omitted. I said so when first I saw her, and weeks of
intimate acquaintance only deepened my reverence for the parental
genius that had so described her to the world.
When we awoke next morning the sun had forgotten itself and was
shining in at Mrs. M'Collop's back windows.
We should have arisen at once to burn sacrifices and offer oblations,
but we had seen the sun frequently in America, and had no idea (poor
fools!) that it was anything to be grateful for, so we accepted it,
almost without comment, as one of the perennial providences of life.
When I speak of Edinburgh sunshine I do not mean, of course, any such
burning, whole-souled, ardent warmth of beam as one finds in countries
where they make a specialty of climate. It is, generally speaking, a
half-hearted, uncertain ray, as pale and as transitory as a martyr's
smile; but its faintest gleam, or its most puerile attempt to gleam,
is admired and recorded by its well-disciplined constituency. Not only
that, but at the first timid blink of the sun the true Scotsman
remarks smilingly, "I think now we shall be having settled weather!"
It is a pathetic optimism, beautiful but quite groundless, and leads
one to believe in the story that when Father Noah refused to take
Sandy into the ark, he sat down philosophically outside, saying, with
a glance at the clouds, "Aweel! the day's jist aboot the ord'nar', an'
I wouldna won'er if we saw the sun afore nicht!"
But what loyal son of Edina cares for these transatlantic gibes, and
where is the dweller within her royal gates who fails to succumb to
the sombre beauty of that old gray town of the North? "Gray! why, it
is gray, or gray and gold, or gray and gold and blue, or gray and gold
and blue and green, or gray and gold and blue and green and purple,
according as the heaven pleases and you choose your ground! But take
it when it is most sombrely gray, where is another such gray city?"
So says one of her lovers, and so the great army of lovers would say,
had they the same gift of language; for
"Even thus, methinks, a city reared should be, …
Yea, an imperial city that might hold
Five times a hundred noble towns in fee, …
Thus should her towers be raised; with vicinage
Of clear bold hills, that curve her very streets,
As if to indicate, 'mid choicest seats
Of Art, abiding Nature's majesty."
We ate a hasty breakfast that first morning, and prepared to go out
for a walk into the great unknown, perhaps the most pleasurable
sensation in the world. Francesca was ready first, and, having
mentioned the fact several times ostentatiously, she went into the
drawing-room to wait and read "The Scotsman." When we went thither a
few minutes later we found that she had disappeared.
"She is below, of course," said Salemina. "She fancies that we shall
feel more ashamed at our tardiness if we find her sitting on the hall
bench in silent martyrdom."
There was no one in the hall, however, save Susanna, who inquired if
we would see the cook before going out.
"We have no time now, Susanna," I remarked. "We are anxious to have a
walk before the weather changes if possible, but we shall be out for
luncheon and in for dinner, and Mrs. M'Collop may give us anything she
pleases. Do you know where Miss Francesca is?"
"I couldna s—"
"Certainly, of course you couldn't; but I wonder if Mrs. M'Collop saw
Mrs. M'Collop appeared from the basement, and vouchsafed the
information that she had seen "the young leddy rinnin' after the
"Running after the regiment!" repeated Salemina automatically. "What a
reversal of the laws of nature! Why, in Berlin, it was always the
regiment that used to run after her!"
We learned in what direction the soldiers had gone, and pursuing the
same path found the young lady on the corner of a street near by. She
was quite unabashed. "You don't know what you have missed!" she said
excitedly. "Let us get into this tram, and possibly we can head them
off somewhere. They may be going into battle, and if so my heart's
blood is at their service. It is one of those experiences that come
only once in a lifetime. There were pipes and there were kilts! (I
didn't suppose they ever really wore them outside of the theatre!)
When you have seen the kilts swinging, Salemina, you will never be the
same woman afterwards! You never expected to see the Olympian gods
walking, did you? Perhaps you thought they always sat on practicable
rocks and made stiff gestures from the elbow, as they do in the Wagner
operas? Well, these gods walked, if you can call the inspired gait a
walk! If there is a single spinster left in Scotland, it is because
none of these ever asked her to marry him. Ah, how grateful I ought to
be that I am free to say 'yes,' if a kilt ever asks me to be his! Poor
Penelope, yoked to your commonplace trousered Beresford! (I wish the
tram would go faster!) You must capture one of them, by fair means or
foul, Penelope, and Salemina and I will hold him down while you paint
him,—there they are, they are there somewhere, don't you hear them?"
There they were indeed, filing down the grassy slopes of the Gardens,
swinging across one of the stone bridges, and winding up the Castle
Hill to the Esplanade like a long, glittering snake; the streamers of
their Highland bonnets waving, their arms glistening in the sun, and
the bagpipes playing "The March of the Cameron Men." The pipers
themselves were mercifully hidden from us on that first occasion, and
it was well, for we could never have borne another feather's weight of
It was in Princes Street that we had alighted,—named thus for the
prince who afterwards became George IV.—and I hope he was, and is,
properly grateful. It ought never to be called a street, this most
magnificent of terraces, and the world has cause to bless that
interdict of the Court of Sessions in 1774, which prevented the
Gradgrinds of the day from erecting buildings along its south side,—a
sordid scheme that would have been the very superfluity of
It was an envious Glasgow body who said grudgingly, as he came out of
Waverley Station, and gazed along its splendid length for the first
time, "Weel, wi' a' their haverin', it's but half a street,
onyway!"—which always reminded me of the Western farmer who came
from his native plains to the beautiful Berkshire hills. "I've always
heard o' this scenery," he said. "Blamed if I can find any scenery;
but if there was, nobody could see it, there's so much high ground in
To think that not so much more than a hundred years ago Princes Street
was naught but a straight country road, the "Lang Dykes" and the "Lang
Gait," as it was called.
We looked down over the grassy chasm that separates the New from the
Old Town; looked our first on Arthur's Seat, that crouching lion of a
mountain; saw the Corstorphine hills, and Calton Heights, and
Salisbury Crags, and finally that stupendous bluff of rock that
culminates so majestically in Edinburgh Castle. There is something
else which, like Susanna Crum's name, is absolutely and ideally right!
Stevenson calls it one of the most satisfactory crags in nature—a
Bass rock upon dry land, rooted in a garden, shaken by passing trains,
carrying a crown of battlements and turrets, and describing its
warlike shadow over the liveliest and brightest thoroughfare of the
new town. It dominates the whole countryside from water and land. The
men who would have the courage to build such a castle in such a spot
are all dead; all dead, and the world is infinitely more comfortable
without them. They are all gone, and no more like unto them will ever
be born, and we can most of us count upon dying safely in our beds, of
diseases bred of modern civilization. But I am glad that those old
barbarians, those rudimentary creatures working their way up into the
divine likeness, when they were not hanging, drawing, quartering,
torturing, and chopping their neighbors, and using their heads in
conventional patterns on the tops of gate-posts, did devote their
leisure intervals to rearing fortresses like this. Edinburgh Castle
could not be conceived, much less built, nowadays, when all our energy
is consumed in bettering the condition of the "submerged tenth"! What
did they care about the "masses," that "regal race that is now no
more," when they were hewing those blocks of rugged rock and piling
them against the sky-line on the top of that great stone mountain! It
amuses me to think how much more picturesque they left the world, and
how much better we shall leave it; though if an artist were requested
to distribute individual awards to different generations, you could
never persuade him to give first prizes to the centuries that produced
steam laundries, trolleys, X rays, and sanitary plumbing.
What did they reck of Peace Congresses and bloodless arbitrations when
they lighted the beacon-fires, flaming out to the gudeman and his sons
ploughing or sowing in the Lang Dykes the news that their "ancient
enemies of England had crossed the Tweed"!
I am the most peaceful person in the world, but the Castle was too
much for my imagination. I was mounted and off and away from the first
moment I gazed upon its embattled towers, heard the pipers in the
distance, and saw the Black Watch swinging up the green steeps where
the huge fortress "holds its state." The modern world had vanished,
and my steed was galloping, galloping, galloping back into the
place-of-the-things-that-are-past, traversing centuries at every
"To arms! Let every banner in Scotland float defiance to the breeze!"
(So I heard my newborn imaginary spirit say to my real one.) "Yes, and
let the Deacon Convener unfurl the sacred Blue Blanket, under which
every liege burgher of the kingdom is bound to answer summons! The
bale-fires are gleaming, giving alarm to Hume, Haddington, Dunbar,
Dalkeith, and Eggerhope. Rise, Stirling, Fife, and the North! All
Scotland will be under arms in two hours. One bale-fire: the English
are in motion! Two: they are advancing! Four in a row: they are of
great strength! All men in arms west of Edinburgh muster there! All
eastward, at Haddington! And every Englishman caught in Scotland is
lawfully the prisoner of whoever takes him!" (What am I saying? I love
Englishmen, but the spell is upon me!) "Come on, Macduff!" (The only
suitable and familiar challenge my warlike tenant can summon at the
moment.) "I am the son of a Gael! My dagger is in my belt, and with
the guid broadsword at my side I can with one blow cut a man in twain!
My bow is cut from the wood of the yews of Glenure; the shaft is from
the wood of Lochetive, the feathers from the great golden eagles of
Lochtreigside! My arrowhead was made by the smiths of the race of
Macphedran! Come on, Macduff!"
And now a shopkeeper has filled his window with Royal Stuart tartans,
and I am instantly a Jacobite.
"The Highland clans wi' sword in hand,
Frae John o' Groat's to Airly,
Hae to a man declar'd to stand
Or fa' wi' Royal Charlie.
Come through the heather, around him gather,
Come Ronald, come Donald, come a' thegither,
And crown your rightfu', lawfu' king,
For wha'll be king but Charlie?"
It is the eve of the battle of Prestonpans. Is it not under the Rock
of Dunsappie on yonder Arthur's Seat that our Highland army will
encamp to-night? At dusk the prince will hold a council of his chiefs
and nobles (I am a chief and a noble), and at daybreak we shall march
through the old hedgerows and woods of Duddingston, pipes playing and
colors flying, bonnie Charlie at the head, his claymore drawn and the
scabbard flung away! (I mean awa'!)
"Then here's a health to Charlie's cause,
And be 't complete an' early;
His very name my heart's blood warms
To arms for Royal Charlie!
"Come through the heather, around him gather,
Come Ronald, come Donald, come a' thegither,
And crown your rightfu', lawfu' king,
For wha'll be king but Charlie?"
I hope that those in authority will never attempt to convene a peace
congress in Edinburgh, lest the influence of the Castle be too strong
for the delegates. They could not resist it nor turn their backs upon
it, since, unlike other ancient fortresses, it is but a stone's throw
from the front windows of all the hotels. They might mean never so
well, but they would end by buying dirk hat-pins and claymore brooches
for their wives, their daughters would all run after the kilted
regiment and marry as many of the pipers as asked them, and before
night they would all be shouting with the noble Fitz-Eustace,
"Where's the coward who would not dare
To fight for such a land?"
While I was rhapsodizing, Salemina and Francesca were shopping in the
Arcade, buying some of the cairngorms, and Tam O'Shanter purses, and
models of Burns's cottage, and copies of "Marmion" in plaided covers,
and thistle belt-buckles, and bluebell penwipers, with which we
afterwards inundated our native land. When my warlike mood had passed,
I sat down upon the steps of the Scott monument and watched the
passers-by in a sort of waking dream. I suppose they were the usual
professors and doctors and ministers who are wont to walk up and down
the Edinburgh streets, with a sprinkling of lairds and leddies of high
degree and a few Americans looking at the shop windows to choose their
clan-tartans; but for me they did not exist. In their places stalked
the ghosts of kings and queens and knights and nobles: Columba, Abbot
of Iona; Queen Margaret and Malcolm—she the sweetest saint in all the
throng; King David riding towards Drumsheugh forest on Holy Rood-day,
with his horns and hounds and huntsmen following close behind; Anne of
Denmark and Jingling Geordie; Mary Stuart in all her girlish beauty,
with the four Maries in her train; and lurking behind, Bothwell, "that
ower sune stepfaither," and the murdered Rizzio and Darnley; John
Knox, in his black Geneva cloak; Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora
Macdonald; lovely Annabella Drummond; Robert the Bruce; George Heriot
with a banner bearing on it the words "I distribute chearfully;" James
I. carrying The King's Quair; Oliver Cromwell; and a long line of
heroes, martyrs, humble saints, and princely knaves.
Behind them, regardless of precedence, came the Ploughman Poet and the
Ettrick Shepherd, Boswell and Dr. Johnson, Dr. John Brown and Thomas
Carlyle, Lady Nairne and Drummond of Hawthornden, Allan Ramsay and Sir
Walter; and is it not a proof of the Wizard's magic art, that side by
side with the wraiths of these real people walked, or seemed to walk,
the Fair Maid of Perth, Jeanie Deans, Meg Merrilies, Guy Mannering,
Ellen, Marmion, and a host of others so sweetly familiar and so
humanly dear that the very street-laddies could have named and greeted
them as they passed by?
Life at Mrs. M'Collop's apartments in 22, Breadalbane Terrace is about
as simple, comfortable, dignified, and delightful as it well can be.
Mrs. M'Collop herself is neat, thrifty, precise, tolerably genial, and
Her partner, who is also the cook, is a person introduced to us as
Miss Diggity. We afterwards learned that this is spelled Dalgety, but
it is not considered good form, in Scotland, to pronounce the names of
persons and places as they are written. When, therefore, I allude to
the cook, which will be as seldom as possible, I shall speak of her as
Miss Diggity-Dalgety, so that I shall be presenting her correctly both
to the eye and to the ear, and giving her at the same time a
hyphenated name, a thing which is a secret object of aspiration in
In selecting our own letters and parcels from the common stock on the
hall table, I perceive that most of our fellow lodgers are hyphenated
ladies, whose visiting-cards diffuse the intelligence that in their
single persons two ancient families and fortunes are united. On the
ground floor are the Misses Hepburn-Sciennes (pronounced
Hebburn-Sheens); on the floor above us are Miss Colquhoun (Cohoon) and
her cousin Miss Cockburn-Sinclair (Coburn-Sinkler). As soon as the
Hepburn-Sciennes depart, Mrs. M'Collop expects Mrs. Menzies of
Kilconquhar, of whom we shall speak as Mrs. Mingess of Kinyukkar.
There is not a man in the house; even the Boots is a girl, so that 22,
Breadalbane Terrace is as truly a castra puellarum as was ever the
Castle of Edinburgh with its maiden princesses in the olden time.
We talked with Miss Diggity-Dalgety on the evening of our first day at
Mrs. M'Collop's, when she came up to know our commands. As Francesca
and Salemina were both in the room, I determined to be as Scotch as
possible, for it is Salemina's proud boast that she is taken for a
native of every country she visits.
"We shall not be entertaining at present, Miss Diggity," I said, "so
you can give us just the ordinary dishes,—no doubt you are accustomed
to them: scones, baps or bannocks with marmalade, finnan-haddie or
kippered herrings for breakfast; tea,—of course we never touch coffee
in the morning" (here Francesca started with surprise); "porridge, and
we like them well boiled, please" (I hope she noted the plural
pronoun; Salemina did, and blanched with envy); "minced collops for
luncheon, or a nice little black-faced chop; Scotch broth, peas brose
or cockyleekie soup, at dinner, and haggis now and then, with a cold
shape for dessert. That is about the sort of thing we are accustomed
to,—just plain Scotch living."
I was impressing Miss Diggity-Dalgety,—I could see that clearly; but
Francesca spoiled the effect by inquiring, maliciously, if we could
sometimes have a howtowdy wi' drappit eggs, or her favorite dish, wee
grumphie wi' neeps.
Here Salemina was obliged to poke the fire in order to conceal her
smiles, and the cook probably suspected that Francesca found howtowdy
in the Scotch glossary; but we amused each other vastly, and that is
our principal object in life.
Miss Diggity-Dalgety's forbears must have been exposed to foreign
influences, for she interlards her culinary conversation with French
terms, and we have discovered that this is quite common. A "jigget" of
mutton is of course a gigot, and we have identified an "ashet" as an
assiette. The "petticoat tails" she requested me to buy at the
confectioner's were somewhat more puzzling, but when they were finally
purchased by Susanna Crum they appeared to be ordinary little cakes;
perhaps, therefore, petits gastels, since gastel is an old form of
gâteau, as was bel for beau. Susanna, on her part, speaks of the
wardrobe in my bedroom as an "awmry." It certainly contains no
weapons, so cannot be an armory, and we conjecture that her word must
be a corruption of armoire.
"That was a remarkable touch about the black-faced chop," laughed
Salemina, when Miss Diggity-Dalgety had retired; "not that I believe
they ever say it."
"I am sure they must," I asserted stoutly, "for I passed a flesher's
on my way home, and saw a sign with 'Prime Black-faced Mutton' printed
on it. I also saw 'Fed Veal,' but I forgot to ask the cook for it."
"We ought really to have kept house in Edinburgh," observed Francesca,
looking up from "The Scotsman." "One can get a 'self-contained
residential flat' for twenty pounds a month. We are such an
enthusiastic trio that a self-contained flat would be everything to
us; and if it were not fully furnished, here is a firm that wishes to
sell a 'composite bed' for six pounds, and a 'gent's stuffed easy' for
five. Added to these inducements there is somebody who advertises that
parties who intend 'displenishing' at the Whit Term would do well to
consult him, as he makes a specialty of second-handed furniture and
'cyclealities.' What are 'cyclealities,' Susanna?" (She had just come
in with coals.)
"I couldna say, mam."
"Thank you; no, you need not ask Mrs. M'Collop; it is of no
Susanna Crum is a most estimable young woman, clean, respectful,
willing, capable, and methodical, but as a Bureau of Information she
is painfully inadequate. Barring this single limitation she seems to
be a treasure-house of all good practical qualities; and being thus
clad and panoplied in virtue, why should she be so timid and
She wears an expression which can mean only one of two things: either
she has heard of the national tomahawk and is afraid of violence on
our part, or else her mother was frightened before she was born. This
applies in general to her walk and voice and manner, but is it fear
that prompts her eternal "I couldna say," or is it perchance Scotch
caution and prudence? Is she afraid of projecting her personality too
indecently far? Is it the influence of the "catecheesm" on her early
youth? Is it the indirect effect of heresy trials on her imagination?
Does she remember the thumb-screw of former generations? At all
events, she will neither affirm nor deny, and I am putting her to all
sorts of tests, hoping to discover finally whether she is an accident,
an exaggeration, or a type.
Salemina thinks that our American accent may confuse her. Of course
she means Francesca's and mine, for she has none; although we have
tempered ours so much for the sake of the natives, that we can
scarcely understand each other any more. As for Susanna's own accent,
she comes from the heart of Aberdeenshire, and her intonation is
beyond my power to reproduce.
We naturally wish to identify all the national dishes; so, "Is this
cockle soup, Susanna?" I ask her, as she passes me the plate at
"I couldna say."
"This vegetable is new to me, Susanna; is it perhaps sea-kail?"
"I canna say, mam."
Then finally, in despair, as she handed me a boiled potato one day, I
fixed my searching Yankee brown eyes on her blue-Presbyterian,
non-committal ones and asked, "What is this vegetable, Susanna?"
In an instant she withdrew herself, her soul, her ego, so utterly that
I felt myself gazing at an inscrutable stone image, as she replied, "I
couldna say, mam."
This was too much! Her mother may have been frightened, very badly
frightened, but this was more than I could endure without protest. The
plain boiled potato is practically universal. It is not only common to
all temperate climates, but it has permeated all classes of society. I
am confident that the plain boiled potato has been one of the chief
constituents in the building up of that frame in which Susanna Crum
conceals her opinions and emotions. I remarked, therefore, as an
apparent afterthought, "Why, it is a potato, is it not, Susanna?"
What do you think she replied, when thus hunted into a corner, pushed
against a wall, driven to the very confines of her personal and
national liberty? She subjected the potato to a second careful
scrutiny, and answered, "I wouldna say it's no!"
Now there is no inherited physical terror in this. It is the
concentrated essence of intelligent reserve, caution, and obstinacy;
it is a conscious intellectual hedging; it is a dogged and determined
attempt to build up barriers of defense between the questioner and the
questionee: it must be, therefore, the offspring of the catechism and
the heresy trial.
Once again, after establishing an equally obvious fact, I succeeded in
wringing from her the reluctant admission, "It depends," but she was
so shattered by the bulk and force of this outgo, so fearful that in
some way she had imperiled her life or reputation, so anxious
concerning the effect that her unwilling testimony might have upon
unborn generations, that she was of no real service the rest of the
I wish that the Lord Advocate, or some modern counterpart of
Braxfield, the hanging judge, would summon Susanna Crum as a witness
in an important case. He would need his longest plummet to sound the
depths of her consciousness.
I have had no legal experience, but I can imagine the scene.
"Is the prisoner your father, Susanna Crum?"
"I couldna say, my lord."
"You have not understood the question, Susanna. Is the prisoner your
"I couldna say, my lord."
"Come, come, my girl! you must answer the questions put you by the
court. You have been an inmate of the prisoner's household since your
earliest consciousness. He provided you with food, lodging, and
clothing during your infancy and early youth. You have seen him on
annual visits to your home, and watched him as he performed the usual
parental functions for your younger brothers and sisters. I therefore
repeat, is the prisoner your father, Susanna Crum?"
"I wouldna say he's no, my lord."
"This is really beyond credence! What do you conceive to be the idea
involved in the word 'father,' Susanna Crum?"
"It depends, my lord."
And this, a few hundred years earlier, would have been the natural and
effective moment for the thumb-screws.
I do not wish to be understood as defending these uncomfortable
appliances. They would never have been needed to elicit information
from me, for I should have spent my nights inventing matter to confess
in the daytime. I feel sure that I should have poured out such floods
of confessions and retractations that if all Scotland had been one
listening ear it could not have heard my tale. I am only wondering if,
in the extracting of testimony from the common mind, the thumb-screw
might not have been more necessary with some nations than with
Invitations had been pouring in upon us since the delivery of our
letters of introduction, and it was now the evening of our début in
Edinburgh society. Francesca had volunteered to perform the task of
leaving cards, ordering a private victoria for the purpose, and
arraying herself in purple and fine linen.
"Much depends upon the first impression," she had said. "Miss
Hamilton's 'party' may not be gifted, but it is well dressed. My hope
is that some of our future hostesses will be looking from the
second-story front windows. If they are, I can assure them in advance
that I shall be a national advertisement."
It is needless to remark that as it began to rain heavily as she was
leaving the house, she was obliged to send back the open carriage, and
order, to save time, one of the public cabs from the stand in the
"Would you mind having the lamiter, being first in line?" asked
Susanna of Salemina, who had transmitted the command.
When Salemina fails to understand anything, the world is kept in
complete ignorance,—least of all would she stoop to ask a humble maid
servant to translate the vernacular of the country; so she replied
affably, "Certainly, Susanna, that is the kind we always prefer. I
suppose it is covered?"
Francesca did not notice, until her coachman alighted to deliver the
first letter and cards, that he had one club foot and one wooden leg;
it was then that the full significance of "lamiter" came to her. He
was covered, however, as Salemina had supposed, and the occurrence
gave us a precious opportunity of chaffing that dungeon of learning.
He was tolerably alert and vigorous, too, although he certainly did
not impart elegance to a vehicle, and he knew every street in the
court end of Edinburgh, and every close and wynd in the Old Town. On
this our first meeting with him, he faltered only when Francesca asked
him last of all to drive to "Kildonan House, Helmsdale;" supposing,
not unnaturally, that it was as well known an address as Morningside
House, Tipperlinn, whence she had just come. The lamiter had never
heard of Kildonan House nor of Helmsdale, and he had driven in the
streets of Auld Reekie for thirty years. None of the drivers whom he
consulted could supply any information; Susanna Crum couldna say that
she had ever heard of it, nor could Mrs. M'Collop nor Miss
Diggity-Dalgety. It was reserved for Lady Baird to explain that
Helmsdale was two hundred and eighty miles north, and that Kildonan
House was ten miles from the Helmsdale railway station, so that the
poor lamiter would have had a weary drive even had he known the way.
The friends who had given us letters to Mr. and Mrs. Jameson-Inglis
(Jimmyson-Ingals) must have expected us either to visit John o'
Groats on the northern border, and drop in on Kildonan House en
route, or to send our note of introduction by post and await an
invitation to pass the summer. At all events, the anecdote proved very
pleasing to our Edinburgh acquaintances. I hardly know whether, if
they should visit America, they would enjoy tales of their own
stupidity as hugely as they did the tales of ours, but they really
were very appreciative in this particular, and it is but justice to
ourselves to say that we gave them every opportunity for enjoyment.
But I must go back to our first grand dinner in Scotland. We were
dressed at quarter past seven, when, in looking at the invitation
again, we discovered that the dinner-hour was eight o'clock, not
seven-thirty. Susanna did not happen to know the exact or approximate
distance to Fotheringay Crescent, but the maiden Boots affirmed that
it was only two minutes' drive, so we sat down in front of the fire to
It was Lady Baird's birthday feast to which we had been bidden, and we
had done our best to honor the occasion. We had prepared a large
bouquet tied with the Maclean tartan (Lady Baird is a Maclean), and
had printed in gold letters on one of the ribbons, "Another for
Hector," the battle-cry of the clan. We each wore a sprig of holly,
because it is the badge of the family, while I added a girdle and
shoulder-knot of tartan velvet to my pale green gown, and borrowed
Francesca's emerald necklace, persuading her that she was too young to
wear such jewels in the old country.
Francesca was miserably envious that she had not thought of tartans
first. "You may consider yourself 'gey an' fine,' all covered over
with Scotch plaid, but I wouldn't be so 'kenspeckle' for worlds!" she
said, using expressions borrowed from Mrs. M'Collop; "and as for
disguising your nationality, do not flatter yourself that you look
like anything but an American. I forgot to tell you the conversation I
overheard in the tram this morning, between a mother and daughter, who
were talking about us, I dare say. 'Have they any proper frocks for so
large a party, Bella?' asked the mother.
"'I thought I explained in the beginning, mamma, that they are
"'Still, you know they are only traveling,—just passing through, as
it were; they may not be familiar with our customs, and we do want our
party to be a smart one.'
"'Wait until you see them, mamma, and you will probably feel like
hiding your diminished head! It is my belief that if an American lady
takes a half-hour journey in a tram she carries full evening dress and
a diamond necklace, in case anything should happen on the way. I am
not in the least nervous about their appearance. I only hope that they
will not be too exuberant; American girls are so frightfully vivacious
and informal, I always feel as if I were being taken by the throat!'"
"A picturesque, though rather vigorous expression; however, it does no
harm to be perfectly dressed," said Salemina consciously, putting a
steel embroidered slipper on the fender and settling the holly in the
silver folds of her gown; "then when they discover that we are all
well bred, and that one of us is intelligent, it will be the more
credit to the country that gave us birth."
"Of course it is impossible to tell what country did give you
birth," retorted Francesca, "but that will only be to your
advantage—away from home!"
Francesca is inflexibly, almost aggressively American, but Salemina is
a citizen of the world. If the United States should be involved in a
war, I am confident that Salemina would be in front with the other
Gatling guns, for in that case a principle would be at stake; but in
all lesser matters she is extremely unprejudiced. She prefers German
music, Italian climate, French dressmakers, English tailors, Japanese
manners, and American—American something,—I have forgotten just
what; it is either the ice-cream soda or the form of government,—I
can't remember which.
"I wonder why they named it 'Fotheringay' Crescent," mused Francesca.
"Some association with Mary Stuart, of course. Poor, poor, pretty
lady! A free queen only six years, and think of the number of beds she
slept in, and the number of trees she planted; we have already seen, I
am afraid to say how many. When did she govern, when did she scheme,
above all when did she flirt, with all this racing and chasing over
the country? Mrs. M'Collop calls Anne of Denmark a 'sad scattercash'
and Mary an 'awfu' gadabout,' and I am inclined to agree with her. By
the way, when she was making my bed this morning, she told me that her
mother claimed descent from the Stewarts of Appin, whoever they may
be. She apologized for Queen Mary's defects as if she were a distant
family connection. If so, then the famous Stuart charm has been lost
somewhere, for Mrs. M'Collop certainly possesses no alluring curves of
"I am going to select some distinguished ancestors this very minute,
before I go to my first Edinburgh dinner," said I decidedly. "It seems
hard that ancestors should have everything to do with settling our
nationality and our position in life, and we not have a word to say.
How nice it would be to select one's own after one had arrived at
years of discretion, or to adopt different ones according to the
country one chanced to be visiting! I am going to do it; it is
unusual, but there must be a pioneer in every good movement. Let me
think: do help me, Salemina! I am a Hamilton to begin with; I might be
descended from the logical Sir William himself, and thus become the
idol of the university set!"
"He died only about thirty years ago, and you would have to be his
daughter: that would never do," said Salemina. "Why don't you take
Thomas Hamilton, Earl of Melrose and Haddington? He was Secretary of
State, King's Advocate, Lord President of the Court of Sessions, and
all sorts of fine things. He was the one King James used to call 'Tam
o' the Cowgate.'"
"Perfectly delightful! I don't care so much about his other titles,
but 'Tam o' the Cowgate' is irresistible. I will take him. He was
my—what was he?"
"He was at least your great-great-great-great-grandfather; that is a
safe distance. Then there's that famous Jenny Geddes, who flung her
fauld-stule at the Dean in St. Giles's,—she was a Hamilton, too, if
you fancy her!"
"Yes, I'll take her with pleasure," I responded thankfully. "Of course
I don't know why she flung the stool,—it may have been very
reprehensible; but there is always good stuff in stool-flingers; it's
the sort of spirit one likes to inherit in diluted form. Now whom will
"I haven't even a peg on which to hang a Scottish ancestor," said
"Oh, nonsense! think harder. Anybody will do as a starting-point; only
you must be honorable and really show relationship, as I did with
Jenny and Tam."
"My aunt Mary-Emma married a Lindsay," ventured Salemina hesitatingly.
"That will do," I answered delightedly.
"'The Gordons gay in English blude
They wat their hose and shoon;
The Lindsays flew like fire aboot
Till a' the fray was dune.'
You can play that you are one of the famous 'licht Lindsays,' and you
can look up the particular ancestor in your big book. Now, Francesca,
it's your turn!"
"I am American to the backbone," she declared, with insufferable
dignity. "I do not desire any foreign ancestors."
"Francesca!" I expostulated. "Do you mean to tell me that you can dine
with a lineal descendant of Sir Fitzroy Donald Maclean, Baronet, of
Duart and Morven, and not make any effort to trace your genealogy back
further than your parents?"
"If you goad me to desperation," she answered, "I will wear an
American flag in my hair, declare that my father is a Red Indian, or a
pork-packer, and talk about the superiority of our checking system and
hotels all the evening. I don't want to go, anyway. It is sure to be
stiff and ceremonious, and the man who takes me in will ask me the
population of Chicago and the amount of wheat we exported last
year,—he always does."
"I can't see why he should," said I. "I am sure you don't look as if
"My looks have thus far proved no protection," she replied sadly.
"Salemina is so flexible, and you are so dramatic, that you enter into
all these experiences with zest. You already more than half believe in
that Tam o' the Cowgate story. But there'll be nothing for me in
Edinburgh society; it will be all clergymen"—
"Ministers," interjected Salemina.
—"all ministers and professors. My Redfern gown will be
unappreciated, and my Worth evening frocks worse than wasted!"
"There are a few thousand medical students," I said encouragingly,
"and all the young advocates, and a sprinkling of military men,—they
know Worth frocks."
"And," continued Salemina bitingly, "there will always be, even in an
intellectual city like Edinburgh, a few men who continue to escape all
the developing influences about them, and remain commonplace,
conventional manikins, devoted to dancing and flirting. Never fear,
they will find you!"
This sounds harsh, but nobody minds Salemina, least of all Francesca,
who well knows she is the apple of that spinster's eye. But at this
moment Susanna opens the door (timorously, as if there might be a
panther behind it) and announces the cab (in the same tone in which
she would announce the beast); we pick up our draperies, and are
whirled off by the lamiter to dine with the Scottish nobility.
It was the Princess Dashkoff who said, in the latter part of the
eighteenth century, that of all the societies of men of talent she had
met with in her travels, Edinburgh's was the first in point of
One might make the same remark to-day, perhaps, and not depart widely
from the truth. One does not find, however, as many noted names as are
associated with the annals of the Cape and Poker Clubs or the
Crochallan Fencibles, those famous groups of famous men who met for
relaxation (and intoxication, I should think) at the old Isle of Man
Arms or in Dawney's Tavern in the Anchor Close. These groups included
such shining lights as Robert Fergusson the poet, and Adam Ferguson
the historian and philosopher, Gavin Wilson, Sir Henry Raeburn, David
Hume, Erskine, Lords Newton, Gillies, Monboddo, Hailes, Kames, Henry
Mackenzie, and the Ploughman Poet himself, who has kept alive the
memory of the Crochallans in many a jovial verse like that in which he
describes Smellie, the eccentric philosopher and printer:—
"Shrewd Willie Smellie to Crochallan came,
The old cocked hat, the grey surtout the same,
His bristling beard just rising in its might;
'Twas four long nights and days to shaving night;"
or in the characteristic picture of William Dunbar, a wit of the time,
and the merriest of the Fencibles:—
"As I cam by Crochallan
I cannily keekit ben;
Rattlin', roarin' Willie
Was sitting at yon boord en';
Sitting at yon boord en',
And amang guid companie!
Rattlin', roarin' Willie,
Ye're welcome hame to me!"
or in the verses on Creech, Burns's publisher, who left Edinburgh for
a time in 1789. The "Willies," by the way, seem to be especially
inspiring to the Scottish balladists.
"Oh, Willie was a witty wight,
And had o' things an unco slight!
Auld Reekie aye he keepit tight
And trig and braw;
But now they'll busk her like a fright—
I think perhaps the gatherings of the present time are neither quite
as gay nor quite as brilliant as those of Burns's day, when
"Willie brewed a peck o' maut,
An' Rob an' Allan cam to pree;"
but the ideal standard of those meetings seems to be voiced in the
"Wha last beside his chair shall fa',
He is the king amang us three!"
As they sit in their chairs nowadays to the very end of the feast,
there is doubtless joined with modern sobriety a soupçon of modern
dullness and discretion.
To an American the great charm of Edinburgh is its leisurely
atmosphere: "not the leisure of a village arising from the deficiency
of ideas and motives, but the leisure of a city reposing grandly on
tradition and history; which has done its work, and does not require
to weave its own clothing, to dig its own coals, or smelt its own
We were reminded of this more than once, and it never failed to
depress us properly. If one had ever lived in Pittsburg, Fall River,
or Kansas City, I should think it would be almost impossible to
maintain self-respect in a place like Edinburgh, where the citizens
"are released from the vulgarizing dominion of the hour." Whenever one
of Auld Reekie's great men took this tone with me, I always felt as
though I were the germ in a half-hatched egg, and he were an aged and
lordly cock gazing at me pityingly through my shell. He, lucky
creature, had lived through all the struggles which I was to undergo;
he, indeed, was released from "the vulgarizing dominion of the hour;"
but I, poor thing, must grow and grow, and keep pecking at my shell,
in order to achieve existence.
Sydney Smith says in one of his letters, "Never shall I forget the
happy days passed there [in Edinburgh], amidst odious smells,
barbarous sounds, bad suppers, excellent hearts, and the most
enlightened and cultivated understandings." His only criticism of the
conversation of that day (1797-1802) concerned itself with the
prevalence of that form of Scotch humor which was called wut, and
with the disputations and dialectics. We were more fortunate than
Sydney Smith, because Edinburgh has outgrown its odious smells,
barbarous sounds, and bad suppers, and, wonderful to relate, has kept
its excellent hearts and its enlightened and cultivated
understandings. As for mingled wut and dialectics, where can one
find a better foundation for dinner-table conversation?
The hospitable board itself presents no striking differences from our
own, save the customs of serving sweets in soup-plates with
dessert-spoons, of a smaller number of forks on parade, of the
invariable fish-knife at each plate, of the prevalent "savory" and
"cold shape," and the unusual grace and skill with which the hostess
carves. Even at very large dinners one occasionally sees a lady of
high degree severing the joints of chickens and birds most daintily,
while her lord looks on in happy idleness, thinking, perhaps, how
greatly times have changed for the better since the ages of strife and
bloodshed, when Scottish nobles
"Carved at the meal with gloves of steel,
And drank their wine through helmets barred."
The Scotch butler is not in the least like an English one. No man
could be as respectable as he looks, not even an elder of the kirk,
whom he resembles closely. He hands your plate as if it were a
contribution-box, and in his moments of ease, when he stands behind
the "maister," I am always expecting him to pronounce a benediction.
The English butler, when he wishes to avoid the appearance of
listening to the conversation, gazes with level eye into vacancy; the
Scotch butler looks distinctly heavenward, as if he were brooding on
the principle of coördinate jurisdiction with mutual subordination. It
would be impossible for me to deny the key of the wine-cellar to a
being so steeped in sanctity, but it has been done, I am told, in
certain rare and isolated cases.
As for toilets, the men dress like all other men (alas, and alas, that
we should say it, for we were continually hoping for a kilt!), though
there seems to be no survival of the finical Lord Napier's spirit.
Perhaps you remember that Lord and Lady Napier arrived at Castlemilk
in Lanarkshire with the intention of staying a week, but announced
next morning that a circumstance had occurred which rendered it
indispensable to return without delay to their seat in Selkirkshire.
This was the only explanation given, but it was afterwards discovered
that Lord Napier's valet had committed the grievous mistake of packing
up a set of neck-cloths which did not correspond in point of date
with the shirts they accompanied!
The ladies of the "smart set" in Edinburgh wear French fripperies and
chiffons, as do their sisters everywhere, but the other women of
society dress a trifle more staidly than their cousins in London,
Paris, or New York. The sobriety of taste and severity of style that
characterize Scotswomen may be due, like Susanna Crum's dubieties, to
the haar, to the shorter catechism, or perhaps in some degree to the
presence of three branches of the Presbyterian church among them; the
society that bears in its bosom three separate and antagonistic kinds
of Presbyterianism at the same time must have its chilly moments.
In Lord Cockburn's time the "dames of high and aristocratic breed"
must have been sufficiently awake to feminine frivolities to be both
gorgeously and extravagantly arrayed. I do not know in all literature
a more delicious and lifelike word-portrait than Lord Cockburn gives
of Mrs. Rochead, the Lady of Inverleith, in the Memorials. It is quite
worthy to hang beside a Raeburn canvas; one can scarce say more.
"Except Mrs. Siddons in some of her displays of magnificent royalty,
nobody could sit down like the Lady of Inverleith. She would sail like
a ship from Tarshish, gorgeous in velvet or rustling silk, done up in
all the accompaniments of fans, ear-rings and finger-rings, falling
sleeves, scent-bottle, embroidered bag, hoop, and train; managing all
this seemingly heavy rigging with as much ease as a full-blown swan
does its plumage. She would take possession of the centre of a large
sofa, and at the same moment, without the slightest visible exertion,
cover the whole of it with her bravery, the graceful folds seeming to
lay themselves over it, like summer waves. The descent from her
carriage, too, where she sat like a nautilus in its shell, was a
display which no one in these days could accomplish or even fancy. The
mulberry-colored coach, apparently not too large for what it
contained, though she alone was in it; the handsome, jolly coachman
and his splendid hammer-cloth loaded with lace; the two respectful
liveried footmen, one on each side of the richly carpeted step,—these
were lost sight of amidst the slow majesty with which the Lady of
Inverleith came down and touched the earth."
My right-hand neighbor at Lady Baird's dinner was surprised at my
quoting Lord Cockburn. One's attendant squires here always seem
surprised when one knows anything; but they are always delighted, too,
so that the amazement is less trying. True, I had read the Memorials
only the week before, and had never heard of them previous to that
time; but that detail, according to my theories, makes no real
difference. The woman who knows how and when to "read up," who reads
because she wants to be in sympathy with a new environment; the woman
who has wit and perspective enough to be stimulated by novel
conditions and kindled by fresh influences, who is susceptible to the
vibrations of other people's history, is safe to be fairly intelligent
and extremely agreeable, if only she is sufficiently modest. I think
my neighbor found me thoroughly delightful after he discovered my
point of view. He was an earl; and it always takes an earl a certain
length of time to understand me. I scarcely know why, for I certainly
should not think it courteous to interpose any real barriers between
the nobility and that portion of the "masses" represented in my humble
It seemed to me at first that the earl did not apply himself to the
study of my national peculiarities with much assiduity, but wasted
considerable time in gazing at Francesca, who was opposite. She is
certainly very handsome, and I never saw her lovelier than at that
dinner; her eyes were like stars, and her cheeks and lips a splendid
crimson, for she was quarreling with her attendant cavalier about the
relative merits of Scotland and America, and they apparently ceased to
speak to each other after the salad.
When the earl had sufficiently piqued me by his devotion to his dinner
and his glances at Francesca, I began a systematic attempt to achieve
his (transient) subjugation. Of course I am ardently attached to
Willie Beresford and prefer him to any earl in Britain, but one's
self-respect demands something in the way of food. I could see
Salemina at the far end of the table radiant with success, the W. S.
at her side bending ever and anon to catch the (artificial) pearls of
thought that dropped from her lips. "Miss Hamilton appears simple" (I
thought I heard her say); "but in reality she is as deep as the Currie
Brig!" Now where did she get that allusion? And again, when the W. S.
asked her whither she was going when she left Edinburgh, "I hardly
know," she replied pensively. "I am waiting for the shade of Montrose
to direct me, as the Viscount Dundee said to your Duke of Gordon." The
entranced Scotsman little knew that she had perfected this style of
conversation by long experience with the Q. C.'s of England. Talk
about my being as deep as the Currie Brig (whatever it may be);
Salemina is deeper than the Atlantic Ocean! I shall take pains to
inform her Writer to the Signet, after dinner, that she eats sugar on
her porridge every morning; that will show him her nationality
The earl took the greatest interest in my new ancestors, and approved
thoroughly of my choice. He thinks I must have been named for Lady
Penelope Belhaven, who lived in Leven Lodge, one of the country villas
of the Earls of Leven, from whom he himself is descended. "Does that
make us relatives?" I asked. "Relatives, most assuredly," he replied,
"but not too near to destroy the charm of friendship."
He thought it a great deal nicer to select one's own forbears than to
allow them all the responsibility, and said it would save a world of
trouble if the method could be universally adopted. He added that he
should be glad to part with a good many of his, but doubted whether I
would accept them, as they were "rather a scratch lot." (I use his own
language, which I thought delightfully easy for a belted earl.) He was
charmed with the story of Francesca and the lamiter, and offered to
drive me to Kildonan House, Helmsdale, on the first fine day. I told
him he was quite safe in making the proposition, for we had already
had the fine day, and we understood that the climate had exhausted
itself and retired for the season.
The gentleman on my right, a distinguished Dean of the Thistle, gave
me a few moments' discomfort by telling me that the old custom of
"rounds" of toasts still prevailed at Lady Baird's on formal
occasions, and that before the ladies retired every one would be
called upon for appropriate "sentiments."
"What sort of sentiments?" I inquired, quite overcome with terror.
"Oh, epigrammatic sentences expressive of moral feelings or virtues,"
replied my neighbor easily. "They are not quite as formal and
hackneyed now as they were in the olden time, when some of the
favorite toasts were 'May the pleasure of the evening bear the
reflections of the morning!' 'May the friends of our youth be the
companions of our old age!' 'May the honest heart never feel
distress!' 'May the hand of charity wipe the eye of sorrow!'"
"I can never do it in the world!" I ejaculated. "Oh, one ought never,
never to leave one's own country! A light-minded and cynical English
gentleman told me that I should frequently be called upon to read
hymns and recite verses of Scripture at family dinners in Edinburgh
and I hope I am always prepared to do that; but nobody warned me that
I should have to evolve epigrammatic sentiments on the spur of the
My confusion was so evident that the good dean relented and confessed
that he was imposing upon my ignorance. He made me laugh heartily at
the story of a poor dominie at Arndilly. He was called upon in his
turn, at a large party, and having nothing to aid him in an exercise
to which he was new save the example of his predecessors, lifted his
glass after much writhing and groaning and gave, "The reflection of
the moon in the cawm bosom of the lake!"
At this moment Lady Baird glanced at me, and we all rose to go into
the drawing-room; but on the way from my chair to the door, whither
the earl escorted me, he said gallantly, "I suppose the men in your
country do not take champagne at dinner? I cannot fancy their craving
it when dining beside an American woman!"
That was charming, though he did pay my country a compliment at my
expense. One likes, of course, to have the type recognized as fine; at
the same time his remark would have been more flattering if it had
been less sweeping.
When I remember that he offered me his ancestors, asked me to drive
two hundred and eighty miles, and likened me to champagne, I feel
that, with my heart already occupied and my hand promised, I could
hardly have accomplished more in the course of a single dinner-hour.
Francesca's experiences were not so fortunate; indeed, I have never
seen her more out of sorts than she was during our long chat over the
fire, after our return to Breadalbane Terrace.
"How did you get on with your delightful minister?" inquired Salemina
of the young lady, as she flung her unoffending wrap over the back of
a chair. "He was quite the handsomest man in the room; who is he?"
"He is the Reverend Ronald Macdonald, and the most disagreeable,
condescending, ill-tempered prig I ever met!"
"Why, Francesca!" I exclaimed. "Lady Baird speaks of him as her
favorite nephew, and says he is full of charm."
"He is just as full of charm as he was when I met him," returned the
girl nonchalantly; "that is, he parted with none of it this evening.
He was incorrigibly stiff and rude, and oh! so Scotch! I believe if
one punctured him with a hat-pin, oatmeal would fly into the air!"
"Doubtless you acquainted him, early in the evening, with the
immeasurable advantages of our sleeping-car system, the superiority of
our fast-running elevators, and the height of our buildings?" observed
"I mentioned them," Francesca answered evasively.
"You naturally inveighed against the Scotch climate?"
"Oh, I alluded to it; but only when he said that our hot summers must
"I suppose you repeated the remark you made at luncheon, that the
ladies you had seen in Princes Street were excessively plain?"
"Yes, I did!" she replied hotly; "but that was because he said that
American girls generally looked bloodless and frail. He asked if it
were really true that they ate chalk and slate pencils. Wasn't that
unendurable? I answered that those were the chief solid articles of
food, but that after their complexions were established, so to speak,
their parents often allowed them pickles and native claret to vary the
"What did he say to that?" I asked.
"Oh, he said, 'Quite so, quite so;' that was his invariable response
to all my witticisms. Then when I told him casually that the shops
looked very small and dark and stuffy here, and that there were not as
many tartans and plaids in the windows as we had expected, he remarked
that as to the latter point, the American season had not opened yet!
Presently he asserted that no royal city in Europe could boast ten
centuries of such glorious and stirring history as Edinburgh. I said
it did not appear to be stirring much at present, and that everything
in Scotland seemed a little slow to an American; that he could have no
idea of push or enterprise until he visited a city like Chicago. He
retorted that, happily, Edinburgh was peculiarly free from the taint
of the ledger and the counting-house; that it was Weimar without a
Goethe, Boston without its twang!"
"Incredible!" cried Salemina, deeply wounded in her local pride. "He
never could have said 'twang' unless you had tried him beyond
"I dare say I did; he is easily tried," returned Francesca. "I asked
him, sarcastically, if he had ever been in Boston. 'No,' he said, 'it
is not necessary to go there! And while we are discussing these
matters,' he went on, 'how is your American dyspepsia these
days,—have you decided what is the cause of it?'
"'Yes, we have,' said I, as quick as a flash; 'we have always taken in
more foreigners than we could assimilate!' I wanted to tell him that
one Scotsman of his type would upset the national digestion anywhere,
but I restrained myself."
"I am glad you did restrain yourself—once," exclaimed Salemina. "What
a tactful person the Reverend Ronald must be, if you have reported him
faithfully! Why didn't you give him up, and turn to your other
"I did, as soon as I could with courtesy; but the man on my left was
the type that always haunts me at dinners; if the hostess hasn't one
on her visiting-list, she imports one for the occasion. He asked me at
once of what material the Brooklyn Bridge is made. I told him I really
didn't know. Why should I? I seldom go over it. Then he asked me
whether it was a suspension bridge or a cantilever. Of course I didn't
know; I am not an engineer."
"You are so tactlessly, needlessly candid," I expostulated. "Why
didn't you say boldly that the Brooklyn Bridge is a wooden cantilever,
with gutta-percha braces? He didn't know, or he wouldn't have asked
you. He couldn't find out until he reached home, and you would never
have seen him again; and if you had, and he had taunted you, you could
have laughed vivaciously and said you were chaffing. That is my
method, and it is the only way to preserve life in a foreign country.
Even my earl, who did not thirst for information (fortunately), asked
me the population of the Yellowstone Park, and I simply told him three
hundred thousand, at a venture."
"That would never have satisfied my neighbor," said Francesca.
"Finding me in such a lamentable state of ignorance, he explained the
principle of his own stupid Forth Bridge to me. When I said I
understood perfectly, just to get into shallower water, where we
wouldn't need any bridge, the Reverend Ronald joined in the
conversation, and asked me to repeat the explanation to him. Naturally
I couldn't, and he knew that I couldn't when he asked me, so the
bridge man (I don't know his name, and don't care to know it) drew a
diagram of the national idol on his dinner-card and gave a dull and
elaborate lecture upon it. Here is the card, and now that three hours
have intervened I cannot tell which way to turn the drawing so as to
make the bridge right side up; if there is anything puzzling in the
world, it is these architectural plans and diagrams. I am going to pin
it to the wall and ask the Reverend Ronald which way it goes."
"Do you mean that he will call upon us?" we cried in concert.
"He asked if he might come and continue our 'stimulating'
conversation, and as Lady Baird was standing by I could hardly say no.
I am sure of one thing: that before I finish with him I will widen his
horizon so that he will be able to see something beside Scotland and
his little insignificant Fifeshire parish! I told him our country
parishes in America were ten times as large as his. He said he had
heard that they covered a good deal of territory, and that the
ministers' salaries were sometimes paid in pork and potatoes. That
shows you the style of his retorts!"
"I really cannot decide which of you was the more disagreeable," said
Salemina; "if he calls, I shall not remain in the room."
"I wouldn't gratify him by staying out," retorted Francesca. "He is
extremely good for the circulation; I think I was never so warm in my
life as when I talked with him; as physical exercise he is equal to
bicycling. The bridge man is coming to call, too. I gave him a diagram
of Breadalbane Terrace, and a plan of the hall and staircase, on my
dinner-card. He was distinctly ungrateful; in fact, he remarked that
he had been born in this very house, but would not trust himself to
find his way upstairs with my plan as a guide. He also said the
American vocabulary was vastly amusing, so picturesque, unstudied, and
"That was nice, surely," I interpolated.
"You know perfectly well that it was an insult."
"Francesca is very like the young man," laughed Salemina, "who,
whenever he engaged in controversy, seemed to take off his flesh and
sit in his nerves."
"I'm not supersensitive," replied Francesca, "but when one's
vocabulary is called picturesque by a Britisher, one always knows he
is thinking of cowboys and broncos. However, I shifted the weight into
the other scale by answering, 'Thank you. And your phraseology is just
as unusual to us.' 'Indeed?' he said with some surprise. 'I supposed
our method of expression very sedate and uneventful.' 'Not at all,' I
returned, 'when you say, as you did a moment ago, that you never eat
potato to your fish.' 'But I do not,' he urged obtusely. 'Very
likely,' I argued, 'but the fact is not of so much importance as the
preposition. Now I eat potato with my fish.' 'You make a mistake,'
he said, and we both laughed in spite of ourselves, while he murmured,
'eating potato with fish,—how extraordinary.' Well, the bridge man
may not add perceptibly to the gayety of the nations, but he is better
than the Reverend Ronald. I forgot to say that when I chanced to be
speaking of doughnuts, that 'unconquer'd Scot' asked me if a doughnut
resembled a peanut! Can you conceive such ignorance?"
"I think you were not only aggressively American, but painfully
provincial," said Salemina, with some warmth. "Why in the world should
you drag doughnuts into a dinner-table conversation in Edinburgh? Why
not select topics of universal interest?"
"Like the Currie Brig or the shade of Montrose," I murmured slyly.
"To one who has ever eaten a doughnut, the subject is of transcendent
interest; and as for one who has not—well, he should be made to feel
his limitations," replied Francesca, with a yawn. "Come, let us forget
our troubles in sleep; it is after midnight."
About half an hour later she came to my bedside, her dark hair hanging
over her white gown, her eyes still bright.
"Penelope," she said softly, "I did not dare tell Salemina, and I
should not confess it to you save that I am afraid Lady Baird will
complain of me; but I was dreadfully rude to the Reverend Ronald! I
couldn't help it; he roused my worst passions. It all began with his
saying he thought international marriages presented even more
difficulties to the imagination than the other kind. I hadn't said
anything about marriages nor thought anything about marriages of any
sort, but I told him instantly I considered that every international
marriage involved two national suicides. He said that he shouldn't
have put it quite so forcibly, but that he hadn't given much thought
to the subject. I said that I had, and I thought we had gone on long
enough filling the coffers of the British nobility with American
"Frances!" I interrupted. "Don't tell me that you made that vulgar,
cheap newspaper assertion!"
"I did," she replied stoutly, "and at the moment I only wished I could
make it stronger. If there had been anything cheaper or more vulgar, I
should have said it, but of course there isn't. Then he remarked that
the British nobility merited and needed all the support it could get
in these hard times, and asked if we had not cherished some intention
in the States, lately, of bestowing it in greenbacks instead of gold!
I threw all manners to the winds after that and told him that there
were no husbands in the world like American men, and that foreigners
never seemed to have any proper consideration for women. Now, were my
remarks any worse than his, after all, and what shall I do about it,
"You should go to bed first," I murmured sleepily; "and if you ever
have an opportunity to make amends, which I doubt, you should devote
yourself to showing the Reverend Ronald the breadth of your own
horizon instead of trying so hard to broaden his. As you are extremely
pretty, you may possibly succeed; man is human, and I dare say in a
month you will be advising him to love somebody more worthy than
yourself. (He could easily do it!) Now don't kiss me again, for I am
displeased with you; I hate international bickering!"
"So do I," agreed Francesca virtuously, as she plaited her hair, "and
there is no spectacle so abhorrent to every sense as a narrow-minded
man who cannot see anything outside of his own country. But he is
awfully good-looking,—I will say that for him; and if you don't
explain me to Lady Baird, I will write to Mr. Beresford about the
earl. There was no bickering there; it was looking at you two that
made us think of international marriages."
"It must have suggested to you that speech about filling the coffers
of the British nobility," I replied sarcastically, "inasmuch as the
earl has twenty thousand pounds a year, probably, and I could barely
buy two gold hairpins to pin on the coronet. There, do go away and
leave me in peace!"
"Good-night again, then," she said, as she rose reluctantly from the
foot of the bed. "I doubt if I can sleep for thinking what a pity it
is that such an egotistic, bumptious, pugnacious, prejudiced, insular,
bigoted person should be so handsome! And who wants to marry him,
anyway, that he should be so distressed about international alliances?
One would think that all female America was sighing to lead him to the
Two or three days ago we noted an unusual though subdued air of
excitement at 22, Breadalbane Terrace, where for a week we had been
the sole lodgers. Mrs. Menzies, whom we call Mingess, has returned to
Kilconquhar, which she calls Kinyukkar; Miss Cockburn-Sinclair has
purchased her wedding outfit and gone back to Inverness, where she
will be greeted as Coburn-Sinkler; the Hepburn-Sciennes will be
leaving to-morrow, just as we have learned to pronounce their names;
and the sound of the scrubbing-brush is heard in the land. In corners
where all was clean and spotless before, Mrs. M'Collop is digging with
the broom, and the maiden Boots is following her with a damp cloth.
The stair carpets are hanging on lines in the back garden, and
Susanna, with her cap rakishly on one side, is always to be seen
polishing the stair rods. Whenever we traverse the halls we are
obliged to leap over pails of suds, and Miss Diggity-Dalgety has given
us two dinners which bore a curious resemblance to washing-day repasts
in suburban America.
"Is it spring house-cleaning?" I ask Mistress M'Collop.
"Na, na," she replies hurriedly; "it's the meenisters."
On the 19th of May we are a maiden castle no longer. Black coats and
hats ring at the bell, and pass in and out of the different
apartments. The hall table is sprinkled with letters, visiting-cards,
and programmes which seem to have had the alphabet shaken out upon
them, for they bear the names of professors, doctors, reverends, and
very reverends, and fairly bristle with A. M.'s, M. A.'s, A. B.'s, D.
D.'s, and LL. D.'s. The voice of family prayer is lifted up from the
dining-room floor, and Paraphrases and hymns float down the stairs
from above. Their Graces the Lord High Commissioner and the
Marchioness of Heatherdale will arrive to-day at Holyrood Palace,
there to reside during the sittings of the General Assembly of the
Church of Scotland, and to-morrow the Royal Standard will be hoisted
at Edinburgh Castle from reveille to retreat. His Grace will hold a
levee at eleven. Directly His Grace leaves the palace after the levee,
the guard of honor will proceed by the Canongate to receive him on his
arrival at St. Giles' Church, and will then proceed to Assembly Hall
to receive him on his arrival there. The Sixth Inniskilling Dragoons
and the First Battalion Royal Scots will be in attendance, and there
will be unicorns, carricks, pursuivants, heralds, mace-bearers,
ushers, and pages, together with the Purse-bearer, and the Lyon
King-of-Arms, and the national anthem, and the royal salute; for the
palace has awakened and is "mimicking its past."
"Should the weather be wet the troops will be cloaked at the
discretion of the commanding officers." They print this instruction
as a matter of form, and of course every man has his mackintosh ready.
The only hope lies in the fact that this is a national function, and
"Queen's weather" is a possibility. The one personage for whom the
Scottish climate will occasionally relax is Her Majesty Queen
Victoria, who for sixty years has exerted a benign influence on
British skies and at least secured sunshine on great parade days. Such
women are all too few!
In this wise enters His Grace the Lord High Commissioner to open the
General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; and on the same day there
arrives by the railway (but traveling first class) the Moderator of
the Church of Scotland, Free, to convene its separate Supreme Courts
in Edinburgh. He will have no Union Jacks, Royal Standards, Dragoons,
bands, or pipers; he will bear his own purse and stay at a hotel; but
when the final procession of all comes, he will probably march beside
His Grace the Lord High Commissioner, and they will talk together, not
of dead-and-gone kingdoms, but of the one at hand, where there are no
more divisions in the ranks, and where all the soldiers are simply
"king's men," marching to victory under the inspiration of a common
It is a matter of regret to us that the U. P.'s, the third branch of
Scottish Presbyterianism, could not be holding an Assembly during this
same week, so that we might the more easily decide in which flock we
really belong. 22, Breadalbane Terrace now represents all shades of
religious opinion within the bounds of Presbyterianism. We have an
Elder, a Professor of Biblical Criticism, a Majesty's Chaplain, and
even an ex-Moderator under our roof, and they are equally divided
between the Free and the Established bodies.
Mrs. M'Collop herself is a pillar of the Free Kirk, but she has no
prejudice in lodgers, and says so long as she "mak's her rent she
doesna care aboot their releegious principles." Miss Diggity-Dalgety
is the sole representative of United Presbyterianism in the household,
and she is somewhat gloomy in Assembly time. To belong to a dissenting
body, and yet to cook early and late for the purpose of fattening
one's religious rivals, is doubtless trying to the temper; and then
she asserts that "meenisters are aye tume [empty]."
* * * * *
"You must put away your Scottish ballads and histories now, Salemina,
and keep your Concordance and your umbrella constantly at hand."
This I said as we stood on George IV. Bridge and saw the ministers
glooming down from the Mound in a dense Assembly fog. As the presence
of any considerable number of priests on an ocean steamer is supposed
to bring rough weather, so the addition of a few hundred parsons to
the population of Edinburgh is believed to induce rain,—or perhaps I
should say, more rain.
Of course, when one is in perfect bodily health one can more readily
resist the infection of disease. Similarly if Scottish skies were not
ready and longing to pour out rain, were not ignobly weak in holding
it back, they would not be so susceptible to the depressing influences
of visiting ministers. This is Francesca's theory as stated to the
Reverend Ronald, who was holding an umbrella over her ungrateful head
at the time; and she went on to boast of a convention she once
attended in San Francisco, where twenty-six thousand Christian
Endeavorers were unable to dim the California sunshine, though they
stayed ten days.
"Our first duty, both to ourselves and to the community," I continued
to Salemina, "is to learn how there can be three distinct kinds of
proper Presbyterianism. Perhaps it would be a graceful act on our part
if we should each espouse a different kind; then there would be no
feeling among our Edinburgh friends. And again, what is this 'union'
of which we hear murmurs? Is it religious or political? Is it an echo
of the 1707 Union you explained to us last week, or is it a new one?
What is Disestablishment? What is Disruption? Are they the same thing?
What is the Sustentation Fund? What was the Non-Intrusion Party? What
was the Dundas Despotism? What is the argument at present going on
about taking the Shorter Catechism out of the schools? What is the
Shorter Catechism, anyway,—or at least, what have they left out of
the Longer Catechism to make it shorter,—and is the length of the
Catechism one of the points of difference? Then when we have looked up
Chalmers and Candlish, we can ask the ex-Moderator and the Professor
of Biblical Criticism to tea; separately, of course, lest there should
be ecclesiastical quarrels."
Salemina and Francesca both incline to the Established Church, I lean
instinctively toward the Free; but that does not mean that we have any
knowledge of the differences that separate them. Salemina is a
conservative in all things; she loves law, order, historic
associations, old customs; and so when there is a regularly
established national church,—or, for that matter, a regularly
established anything,—she gravitates to it by the law of her being.
Francesca's religious convictions, when she is away from her own
minister and native land, are inclined to be flexible. The church that
enters Edinburgh with a marquis and a marchioness representing the
Crown, the church that opens its Assembly with splendid processions
and dignified pageants, the church that dispenses generous hospitality
from Holyrood Palace,—above all, the church that escorts its Lord
High Commissioner from place to place with bands and pipers,—that is
the church to which she pledges her constant presence and enthusiastic
As for me, I believe I am a born protestant, or "come-outer," as they
used to call dissenters in the early days of New England. I have not
yet had time to study the question, but as I lack all knowledge of the
other two branches of Presbyterianism, I am enabled to say
unhesitatingly that I belong to the Free Kirk. To begin with, the very
word "free" has a fascination for the citizen of a republic; and then
my theological training was begun this morning by a gifted young
minister of Edinburgh whom we call the Friar, because the first time
we saw him in his gown and bands (the little spot of sheer whiteness
beneath the chin, that lends such added spirituality to a spiritual
face) we fancied that he looked like some pale brother of the Church
in the olden time. His pallor, in a land of rosy redness and milky
whiteness; his smooth, fair hair, which in the light from the
stained-glass window above the pulpit looked reddish gold; the
Southern heat of passionate conviction that colored his slow Northern
speech; the remoteness of his personality; the weariness of his
deep-set eyes, that bespoke such fastings and vigils as he probably
never practiced,—all this led to our choice of the name.
As we walked toward St. Andrew's Church and Tanfield Hall, where he
insisted on taking me to get the "proper historical background," he
told me about the great Disruption movement. He was extremely
eloquent,—so eloquent that the image of Willie Beresford tottered
continually on its throne, and I found not the slightest difficulty in
giving an unswerving allegiance to the principles presented by such an
We went first to St. Andrew's, where the General Assembly met in 1843,
and where the famous exodus of the Free Protesting Church took
place,—one of the most important events in the modern history of the
The movement was promoted by the great Dr. Chalmers and his party,
mainly to abolish the patronage of livings, then in the hands of
certain heritors or patrons, who might appoint any minister they
wished, without consulting the congregation. Needless to say, as a
free-born American citizen, and never having had a heritor in the
family, my blood easily boiled at the recital of such tyranny. In 1834
the Church had passed a law of its own, it seems, ordaining that no
presentee to a parish should be admitted, if opposed by the majority
of the male communicants. That would have been well enough could the
State have been made to agree, though I should have gone further,
personally, and allowed the female communicants to have some voice in
The Friar took me into a particularly chilly historic corner, and,
leaning against a damp stone pillar, painted the scene in St. Andrew's
when the Assembly met in the presence of a great body of spectators,
while a vast throng gathered without, breathlessly awaiting the
result. No one believed that any large number of ministers would
relinquish livings and stipends and cast their bread upon the waters
for what many thought a "fantastic principle." Yet when the Moderator
left his place, after reading a formal protest signed by one hundred
and twenty ministers and seventy-two elders, he was followed first by
Dr. Chalmers, and then by four hundred and seventy men, who marched in
a body to Tanfield Hall, where they formed themselves into the General
Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland. When Lord Jeffrey was told of
it an hour later, he exclaimed, "Thank God for Scotland! There is not
another country on earth where such a deed could be done!" And the
Friar reminded me proudly of Macaulay's saying that the Scots had made
sacrifices for the sake of religious opinion for which there was no
parallel in the annals of England. On the next Sunday after these
remarkable scenes in Edinburgh there were heart-breaking farewells, so
the Friar said, in many village parishes, when the minister, in
dismissing his congregation, told them that he had ceased to belong to
the Established Church and would neither preach nor pray in that
pulpit again; that he had joined the Free Protesting Church of
Scotland, and, God willing, would speak the next Sabbath morning at
the manse door to as many as cared to follow him. "What affecting
leave-takings there must have been!" the Friar exclaimed. "When my
grandfather left his church that May morning, only fifteen members
remained behind, and he could hear the more courageous say to the
timid ones, 'Tak' your Bible an' come awa' mon!' Was not all this a
splendid testimony to the power of principle and the sacred demands of
conscience?" I said "Yea" most heartily, for the spirit of Jenny
Geddes stirred within me that morning, and under the spell of the
Friar's kindling eye and eloquent voice I positively gloried in the
valiant achievements of the Free Church. It would always be easier for
a woman to say "Yea" than "Nay" to the Friar. When he left me in
Breadalbane Terrace I was at heart a member of his congregation in
good (and irregular) standing, ready to teach in his Sunday-school,
sing in his choir, visit his aged and sick poor, and especially to
stand between him and a too admiring feminine constituency.
When I entered the drawing-room, I found that Salemina had just
enjoyed an hour's conversation with the ex-Moderator of the opposite
"Oh, my dear," she sighed, "you have missed such a treat! You have no
conception of these Scottish ministers of the Establishment,—such
culture, such courtliness of manner, such scholarship, such
spirituality, such wise benignity of opinion! I asked the doctor
to explain the Disruption movement to me, and he was most interesting
and lucid, and most affecting, too, when he described the
misunderstandings and misconceptions that the Church suffered in those
terrible days of 1843, when its very life-blood, as well as its
integrity and unity, was threatened by the foes in its own
household; when breaches of faith and trust occurred on all sides,
and dissents and disloyalties shook it to its very foundation! You
see, Penelope, I have never fully understood the disagreements
about heritors and livings and state control before, but here is the
whole matter in a nut-sh—"
"My dear Salemina," I interposed, with dignity, "you will pardon me, I
am sure, when I tell you that any discussion on this point would be
intensely painful to me, as I now belong to the Free Kirk."
"Where have you been this morning?" she asked, with a piercing
"To St. Andrew's and Tanfield Hall."
"With the Friar."
"I see! Happy the missionary to whom you incline your ear,
first!"—which I thought rather inconsistent of Salemina, as she had
been converted by precisely the same methods and in precisely the same
length of time as had I, the only difference being in the ages of our
respective missionaries, one being about five and thirty, the other
five and sixty. Even this is to my credit after all, for if one can be
persuaded so quickly and fully by a young and comparatively
inexperienced man, it shows that one must be extremely susceptible to
spiritual influences or—something.
Religion in Edinburgh is a theory, a convention, a fashion (both
humble and aristocratic), a sensation, an intellectual conviction, an
emotion, a dissipation, a sweet habit of the blood; in fact, it is, it
seems to me, every sort of thing it can be to the human spirit.
When we had finished our church toilettes, and came into the
drawing-room, on the first Sunday morning, I remember that we found
Francesca at the window.
"There is a battle, murder, or sudden death going on in the square
below," she said. "I am going to ask Susanna to ask Mrs. M'Collop what
it means. Never have I seen such a crowd moving peacefully, with no
excitement or confusion, in one direction. Where can the people be
going? Do you suppose it is a fire? Why, I believe … it cannot be
possible … yes, they certainly are disappearing in that big church
on the corner; and millions, simply millions and trillions, are coming
in the other direction,—toward St. Knox's."
Impressive as was this morning church-going, a still greater surprise
awaited us at seven o'clock in the evening, when the crowd blocked the
streets on two sides of a church near Breadalbane Terrace; and though
it was quite ten minutes before service when we entered, Salemina and
I only secured the last two seats in the aisle, and Francesca was
obliged to sit on the steps of the pulpit or seek a sermon elsewhere.
It amused me greatly to see Francesca sitting on pulpit steps, her
Paris gown and smart toque in close juxtaposition to the rusty bonnet
and bombazine dress of a respectable elderly tradeswoman. The church
officer entered first, bearing the great Bible and hymn-book, which he
reverently placed on the pulpit cushions; and close behind him, to our
entire astonishment, came the Reverend Ronald Macdonald, evidently
exchanging with the regular minister of the parish, whom we had come
especially to hear. I pitied Francesca's confusion and embarrassment,
but I was too far from her to offer an exchange of seats, and through
the long service she sat there at the feet of her foe, so near that
she could have touched the hem of his gown as he knelt devoutly for
his first silent prayer.
Perhaps she was thinking of her last interview with him, when she
descanted at length on that superfluity of naughtiness and Biblical
pedantry which, she asserted, made Scottish ministers preach from
"I've never been able to find my place in the Bible since I arrived,"
she complained to Salemina, when she was quite sure that Mr. Macdonald
was listening to her; and this he generally was, in my opinion, no
matter who chanced to be talking. "What with their skipping and
hopping about from Haggai to Philemon, Habakkuk to Jude, and Micah to
Titus, in their readings, and then settling on seventh Nahum, sixth
Zephaniah or second Calathumpians for the sermon, I do nothing but
search the Scriptures in the Edinburgh churches,—search, search,
search, until some Christian by my side or in the pew behind me
notices my hapless plight, and hands me a Bible opened at the text.
Last Sunday it was Obadiah first, fifteenth, 'For the day of the Lord
is near upon all the heathen.' It chanced to be a returned missionary
who was preaching on that occasion; but the Bible is full of heathen,
and why need he have chosen a text from Obadiah, poor little Obadiah
one page long, slipped in between Amos and Jonah, where nobody but an
elder could find him?" If Francesca had not seen with wicked delight
the Reverend Ronald's expression of anxiety, she would never have
spoken of second Calathumpians; but of course he has no means of
knowing how unlike herself she is when in his company.
To go back to our first Sunday worship in Edinburgh. The church
officer closed the door of the pulpit on the Reverend Ronald, and I
thought I heard the clicking of a lock; at all events, he returned at
the close of the services to liberate him and escort him back to the
vestry; for the entrances and exits of this beadle, or "minister's
man," as the church officer is called in the country districts, form
an impressive part of the ceremonies. If he did lock the minister into
the pulpit, it is probably only another national custom, like the
occasional locking in of the passengers in a railway train, and may be
positively necessary in the case of such magnetic and popular
preachers as Mr. Macdonald or the Friar.
I have never seen such attention, such concentration, as in these
great congregations of the Edinburgh churches. As nearly as I can
judge, it is intellectual rather than emotional; but it is not a
tribute paid to eloquence alone, it is habitual and universal, and is
yielded loyally to insufferable dullness when occasion demands.
When the text is announced, there is an indescribable rhythmic
movement forward, followed by a concerted rustle of Bible leaves; not
the rustle of a few Bibles in a few pious pews, but the rustle of all
of them in all the pews,—and there are more Bibles in an Edinburgh
Presbyterian church than one ever sees anywhere else, unless it be in
the warehouses of the Bible Societies.
The text is read twice clearly, and another rhythmic movement follows
when the books are replaced on the shelves. Then there is a delightful
settling back of the entire congregation, a snuggling comfortably into
corners and a fitting of shoulders to the pews,—not to sleep,
however; an older generation may have done that under the strain of a
two-hour "wearifu' dreich" sermon, but these church-goers are not to
be caught napping. They wear, on the contrary, a keen, expectant,
critical look, which must be inexpressibly encouraging to the
minister, if he has anything to say. If he has not (and this is a
possibility in Edinburgh, as it is everywhere else), then I am sure it
is wisdom for the beadle to lock him in, lest he flee when he meets
those searching eyes.
The Edinburgh sermon, though doubtless softened in outline in these
later years, is still a more carefully built discourse than one
ordinarily hears out of Scotland, being constructed on conventional
lines of doctrine, exposition, logical inference, and practical
application. Though modern preachers do not announce the division of
their subject into heads and sub-heads, firstlies and secondlies and
finallies my brethren, there seems to be the old framework underneath
the sermon, and everyone recognizes it as moving silently below the
surface; at least, I always fancy that as the minister finishes one
point and attacks another the younger folk fix their eagle eyes on him
afresh, and the whole congregation sits up straighter and listens more
intently, as if making mental notes. They do not listen so much as if
they were enthralled, though they often are and have good reason to
be, but as if they were to pass an examination on the subject
afterwards; and I have no doubt that this is the fact.
The prayers are many, and are divided, apparently, like those of the
liturgies, into petitions, confessions, and aspirations; not
forgetting the all-embracing one with which we are perfectly familiar
in our native land, in which the preacher commends to the Fatherly
care every animate and inanimate thing not mentioned specifically in
the foregoing supplications. It was in the middle of this compendious
petition, "the lang prayer," that rheumatic old Scottish dames used to
make a practice of "cheengin' the fit," as they stood devoutly through
it. "When the meenister comes to the 'ingetherin' o' the Gentiles,' I
ken weel it's time to cheenge legs, for then the prayer is jist half
dune," said a good sermon-taster of Fife.
The organ is finding its way rapidly into the Scottish kirks (how can
the shade of John Knox endure a "kist o' whistles" in good St.
Giles'?), but it is not used yet in some of those we attend most
frequently. There is a certain quaint solemnity, a beautiful
austerity, in the unaccompanied singing of hymns that touches me
profoundly. I am often carried very high on the waves of splendid
church music, when the organ's thunder rolls "through vaulted aisles"
and the angelic voices of a trained choir chant the aspirations of my
soul for me; but when an Edinburgh congregation stands, and the
precentor leads in that noble Paraphrase,
"God of our fathers, be the God
Of their succeeding race,"
there is a certain ascetic fervor in it that seems to me the
perfection of worship. It may be that my Puritan ancestors are mainly
responsible for this feeling, or perhaps my recently adopted Jenny
Geddes is a factor in it; of course, if she were in the habit of
flinging fauldstules at Deans, she was probably the friend of truth
and the foe of beauty, so far as it was in her power to separate
There is no music during the offertory in these churches, and this,
too, pleases my sense of the fitness of things. It cannot soften the
woe of the people who are disinclined to the giving away of money, and
the cheerful givers need no encouragement. For my part, I like to sit,
quite undistracted by soprano solos, and listen to the refined tinkle
of the sixpences and shillings, and the vulgar chink of the pennies
and ha'pennies, in the contribution-boxes. Country ministers, I am
told, develop such an acute sense of hearing that they can estimate
the amount of the collection before it is counted. There is often a
huge pewter plate just within the church door, in which the offerings
are placed as the worshipers enter or leave; and one always notes the
preponderance of silver at the morning, and of copper at the evening
services. It is perhaps needless to say that before Francesca had been
in Edinburgh a fortnight she asked Mr. Macdonald if it were true that
the Scots continued coining the farthing for years and years, merely
to have a piece of money serviceable for church offerings!
As to social differences in the congregations we are somewhat at sea.
We tried to arrive at a conclusion by the hats and bonnets, than which
there is usually no more infallible test. On our first Sunday we
attended the Free Kirk in the morning, and the Established in the
evening. The bonnets of the Free Kirk were so much the more elegant
that we said to one another, "This is evidently the church of society,
though the adjective 'Free' should by rights attract the masses." On
the second Sunday we reversed the order of things, and found the
Established bonnet much finer than the Free bonnets, which was a
source of mystification to us, until we discovered that it was a
question of morning or evening service, not of the form of
Presbyterianism. We think, on the whole, that, taking town and country
congregations together, millinery has not flourished under
Presbyterianism,—it seems to thrive better in the Romish atmosphere
of France; but the Disruption, at least, has had nothing to answer for
in the matter, as it appears simply to have parted the bonnets of
Scotland in twain, as Moses divided the Red Sea, and left good and
evil on both sides.
I can never forget our first military service at St. Giles'. We left
Breadalbane Terrace before nine in the morning and walked along the
beautiful curve of street that sweeps around the base of Castle
Rock,—walked on through the poverty and squalor of the High Street,
keeping in view the beautiful lantern tower as a guiding star, till we
"The murmur of the city crowd;
And, from his steeple, jingling loud,
St. Giles's mingling din."
We joined the throng outside the venerable church, and awaited the
approach of the soldiers from the Castle parade-ground; for it is from
there they march in detachments to the church of their choice. A
religion they must have, and if, when called up and questioned about
it, they have forgotten to provide themselves, or have no preference
as to form of worship, they are assigned to one by the person in
authority. When the regiments are assembled on the parade-ground of a
Sunday morning, the first command is, "Church of Scotland, right about
face, quick march!"—the bodies of men belonging to other
denominations standing fast until their turn comes to move. It is said
that a new officer once gave the command, "Church of Scotland, right
about face, quick march! Fancy releegions, stay where ye are!"
Just as we were being told this story by an attendant squire, there
was a burst of scarlet and a blare of music, and down Castle Hill and
the Lawnmarket into Parliament Square marched hundreds of redcoats,
the Highland pipers (otherwise the Olympian gods) swinging in front,
leaving the American female heart prostrate beneath their victorious
tread. The strains of music that in the distance sounded so martial
and triumphant we recognized in a moment as "Abide with me," and never
did the fine old tune seem more majestic than when it marked a measure
for the steady tramp, tramp, tramp, of those soldierly feet. As "The
March of the Cameron Men," piped from the green steeps of Castle Hill,
had aroused in us thoughts of splendid victories on the battlefield,
so did this simple hymn awake the spirit of the church militant; a no
less stern, but more spiritual soldiership, in which "the fruit of
righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."
As I fell asleep on that first Sunday night in Edinburgh, after the
somewhat unusual experience of three church services in a single day,
three separate notes of memory floated in and out of the fabric of my
dreams: the sound of the soldiers' feet marching into old St. Giles'
to the strains of "Abide with me;" the voice of the Reverend Ronald
ringing out with manly insistence: "It is aspiration that counts, not
realization; pursuit, not achievement; quest, not conquest!"—and the
closing phrases of the Friar's prayer: "When Christ has forgiven us,
help us to forgive ourselves! Help us to forgive ourselves so fully
that we can even forget ourselves, remembering only Him! And so let
his kingdom come; we ask it for the King's sake, Amen."
Even at this time of Assemblies, when the atmosphere is almost
exclusively clerical and ecclesiastical, the two great church armies
represented here certainly conceal from the casual observer all
rivalries and jealousies, if indeed they cherish any. As for the two
dissenting bodies, the Church of the Disruption and the Church of the
Secession have been keeping company, so to speak, for some years, with
a distant eye to an eventual union. In the light of all this pleasant
toleration, it seems difficult to realize that earlier Edinburgh,
where, we learned from old parochial records of 1605, Margaret
Sinclair was cited by the Session of the Kirk for being at the Burne
for water on the Sabbath; that Janet Merling was ordered to make
public repentance for concealing a bairn unbaptized in her house for
the space of twenty weeks and calling said bairn Janet; that Pat
Richardson had to crave mercy for being found in his boat in time of
afternoon service; and that Janet Walker, accused of having visitors
in her house in sermon-time, had to confess her offense and on her
knees crave mercy of God and the Kirk Session (which no doubt was
much worse) under penalty of a hundred pounds Scots. Possibly there
are people yet who would prefer to pay a hundred pounds rather than
hear a sermon, but they are few.
It was in the early seventeen hundred and thirties when Allan Ramsay,
"in fear and trembling of legal and clerical censure," lent out the
plays of Congreve and Farquhar from his famous High Street library. In
1756 it was that the Presbytery of Edinburgh suspended all clergymen
who had witnessed the representation of "Douglas," that virtuous
tragedy written, to the dismay of all Scotland, by a minister of the
Kirk. That the world, even the theological world, moves with tolerable
rapidity when once set in motion, is evinced by the fact that on Mrs.
Siddons' second engagement in Edinburgh, in the summer of 1785, vast
crowds gathered about the doors of the theatre, not at night alone,
but in the day, to secure places. It became necessary to admit them
first at three in the afternoon, and then at noon, and eventually "the
General Assembly of the Church then in session was compelled to
arrange its meetings with reference to the appearance of the great
actress." How one would have enjoyed hearing that Scotsman say, after
one of her most splendid flights of tragic passion, "That's no bad!"
We have read of her dismay at this ludicrous parsimony of praise, but
her self-respect must have been restored when the Edinburgh ladies
fainted by dozens during her impersonation of Isabella in "The Fatal
Since Scottish hospitality is well-nigh inexhaustible, it is not
strange that from the moment Edinburgh streets began to be crowded
with ministers, our drawing-room table began to bear shoals of
engraved invitations of every conceivable sort, all equally unfamiliar
to our American eyes.
"The Purse-Bearer is commanded by the Lord High Commissioner and the
Marchioness of Heatherdale to invite Miss Hamilton to a Garden Party
at the Palace of Holyrood House, on the 27th of May. Weather
"The General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland admits Miss
Hamilton to any gallery on any day."
"The Marchioness of Heatherdale is At Home on the 26th of May from a
quarter past nine in the evening. Palace of Holyrood House."
"The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland
is At Home in the Library of the New College on Saturday, the 22d May,
from eight to ten in the evening."
"The Moderator asks the pleasure of Miss Hamilton's presence at a
Breakfast to be given on the morning of the 25th of May at Dunedin
We determined to go to all these functions impartially, tracking thus
the Presbyterian lion to his very lair, and observing his home as well
as his company manners. In everything that related to the
distinctively religious side of the proceedings we sought advice from
Mrs. M'Collop, while we went to Lady Baird for definite information on
secular matters. We also found an unexpected ally in the person of our
own ex-Moderator's niece, Miss Jean Dalziel (Deeyell). She has been
educated in Paris, but she must always have been a delightfully breezy
person, quite too irrepressible to be affected by Scottish haar or
theology. "Go to the Assemblies, by all means," she said, "and be sure
and get places for the heresy case. These are no longer what they once
were,—we are getting lamentably weak and gelatinous in our
beliefs,—but there is an unusually nice one this year; the heretic is
very young and handsome, and quite wicked, as ministers go. Don't fail
to be presented at the Marchioness's court at Holyrood, for it is a
capital preparation for the ordeal of Her Majesty and Buckingham
Palace. 'Nothing fit to wear'? You have never seen the people who go,
or you wouldn't say that! I even advise you to attend one of the
breakfasts; it can't do you any serious or permanent injury so long as
you eat something before you go. Oh no, it doesn't matter,—whichever
one you choose, you will cheerfully omit the other; for I avow as a
Scottish spinster, and the niece of an ex-Moderator, that to a
stranger and a foreigner the breakfasts are worse than Arctic
explorations. If you do not chance to be at the table of honor"—
"The gifted Miss Hamilton is always at the table of honor; unless she
is placed there she refuses to eat, and then the universe rocks to its
centre," interpolated Francesca impertinently.
"It is true," continued Miss Dalziel, "you will often sit beside a
minister or a minister's wife, who will make you scorn the sordid
appetites of flesh, but if you do not, then eat as little as may be,
and flee up the Mound to whichever Assembly is the Mecca of your
"My niece's tongue is an unruly member," said the ex-Moderator, who
was present at this diatribe, "and the principal mistake she makes in
her judgment of these clerical feasts is that she criticises them as
conventional repasts, whereas they are intended to be informal
meetings together of people who wish to be better acquainted."
"Hot bacon and eggs would be no bar to friendship," answered Miss
Dalziel, with an affectionate moue.
"Cold bacon and eggs is better than cold piety," said the
ex-Moderator, "and it may be a good discipline for fastidious young
ladies who have been spoiled by Parisian breakfasts."
It is to Mrs. M'Collop that we owe our chief insight into technical
church matters, although we seldom agree with her "opeenions" after we
gain our own experience. She never misses hearing one sermon on a
Sabbath, and oftener she listens to two or three. Neither does she
confine herself to the ministrations of a single preacher, but roves
from one sanctuary to another, seeking the bread of life, often,
however, according to her own account, getting a particularly
She is thus a complete guide to the Edinburgh pulpit, and when she is
making a bed in the morning she dispenses criticism in so large and
impartial a manner that it would make the flesh of the "meenistry"
creep were it overheard. I used to think Ian Maclaren's sermon-taster
a possible exaggeration of an existent type, but I now see that she is
"Ye'll be tryin' anither kirk the morn?" suggests Mrs. M'Collop,
spreading the clean Sunday sheet over the mattress. "Wha did ye hear
the Sawbath that's bye? Dr. A? Ay, I ken him ower weel; he's been
there for fifteen years an' mair. Ay, he's a gifted mon—off an'
on!" with an emphasis showing clearly that, in her estimation, the
times when he is "off" outnumber those when he is "on."… "Ye have na
heard auld Dr. B yet?" (Here she tucks in the upper sheet tidily at
the foot.) "He's a graund strachtforrit mon, is Dr. B, forbye he's
growin' maist awfu' dreich in his sermons, though when he's that
wearisome a body canna heed him wi' oot takin' peppermints to the
kirk, he's nane the less, at seeventy-sax, a better mon than the new
asseestant. Div ye ken the new asseestant? He's a wee-bit, finger-fed
mannie, ower sma' maist to wear a goon! I canna thole him, wi' his
lang-nebbit words, explainin' an' expoundin' the gude Book as if it
had jist come oot! The auld doctor's nae kirk-filler, but he gies us
fu' meesure, pressed doun an' rinnin' over, nae bit-pickin's like the
haverin' asseestant; it's my opeenion he's no soond, wi' his
parleyvoos an' his clish-maclavers!… Mr. C?" (Now comes the shaking
and straightening and smoothing of the first blanket.) "Ay, he's weel
eneuch! I mind ance he prayed for our Free Assembly, an' then he
turned roun' an' prayed for the Estaiblished, maist in the same
breath,—he's a broad, leeberal mon is Mr. C!… Mr. D? Ay, I ken him
fine; he micht be waur, though he's ower fond o' the kittle pairts o'
the Old Testament; but he reads his sermon from the paper, an' it's an
auld sayin', 'If a meenister canna mind [remember] his ain discoorse,
nae mair can the congregation be expectit to mind it.'… Mr. E? He's
my ain meenister." (She has a pillow in her mouth now, but though she
is shaking it as a terrier would a rat, and drawing on the linen slip
at the same time, she is still intelligible between the jerks.)
"Susanna says his sermon is like claith made o' soond 'oo [wool] wi' a
gude twined thread, an' wairpit an' weftit wi' doctrine. Susanna kens
her Bible weel, but she's never gaed forrit." (To "gang forrit" is to
take the communion.) "Dr. F? I ca' him the greetin' doctor! He's aye
dingin' the dust oot o' the poopit cushions, an' greetin' ower the
sins o' the human race, an' eespecially of his ain congregation. He's
waur syne his last wife sickened an' slippit awa.' 'Twas a chastenin'
he'd put up wi' twice afore, but he grat nane the less. She was a
bonnie bit body, was the thurd Mistress F! E'nbro could 'a' better
spared the greetin' doctor than her, I'm thinkin'."
"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, according to his good will
and pleasure," I ventured piously, as Mrs. M'Collop beat the bolster
and laid it in place.
"Ou ay," responded that good woman, as she spread the counterpane over
the pillows in the way I particularly dislike—"ou ay, but whiles I
think it's a peety he couldna be guidit!"
We were to make our bow to the Lord High Commissioner and the
Marchioness of Heatherdale in the evening, and we were in a state of
republican excitement at 22, Breadalbane Terrace.
Francesca had surprised us by refusing to be presented at this
semi-royal Scottish court. "Not I," she said. "The Marchioness
represents the Queen; we may discover, when we arrive, that she has
raised the standards of admission, and requires us to 'back out' of
the throne-room. I don't propose to do that without London training.
Besides, I detest crowds, and I never go to my own President's
receptions; and I have a headache, anyway, and I don't feel like
coping with the Reverend Ronald to-night!" (Lady Baird was to take us
under her wing, and her nephew was to escort us, Sir Robert being in
"Sally, my dear," I said, as Francesca left the room with a bottle of
smelling-salts somewhat ostentatiously in evidence, "methinks the
damsel doth protest too much. In other words, she devotes a good deal
of time and discussion to a gentleman whom she heartily dislikes. As
she is under your care, I will direct your attention to the following
"Ronald Macdonald is a Scotsman; Francesca disapproves of
"He is a Presbyterian; she is a Swedenborgian.
"His father was a famous old school doctor; Francesca is a
"He is serious; Francesca is gay.
"I think, under all the circumstances, their acquaintance will bear
watching. Two persons so utterly dissimilar, and, so far as
superficial observation goes, so entirely unsuited to each other, are
quite likely to drift into marriage unless diverted by watchful
"Nonsense!" returned Salemina brusquely. "You think because you are
under the spell of the tender passion yourself that other people are
in constant danger. Francesca detests him."
"Who told you so?"
"She herself," triumphantly.
"Salemina," I said pityingly, "I have always believed you a spinster
from choice; don't lead me to think that you have never had any
experience in these matters! The Reverend Ronald has also intimated to
me as plainly as he dared that he cannot bear the sight of Francesca.
What do I gather from this statement? The general conclusion that if
it be true, it is curious that he looks at her incessantly."
"Francesca would never live in Scotland," remarked Salemina feebly.
"Not unless she were asked, of course," I replied.
"He would never ask her."
"Not unless he thought he had a chance of an affirmative answer."
"Her father would never allow it."
"Her father allows what she permits him to allow. You know that
"What shall I do about it, then?"
"What shall we do about it?"
"Let Nature have her own way."
"I don't believe in Nature."
"Don't be profane, Salemina, and don't be unromantic, which is worse;
but if you insist, trust in Providence."
"I would rather trust Francesca's hard heart."
"The hardest hearts melt if sufficient heat be applied. Did I take you
to Newhaven and read you 'Christie Johnstone' on the beach for naught?
Don't you remember Charles Reade said that the Scotch are icebergs,
with volcanoes underneath; thaw the Scotch ice, which is very cold,
and you shall get to the Scotch fire, warmer than any sun of Italy or
Spain. I think Mr. Macdonald is a volcano."
"I wish he were extinct," said Salemina petulantly, "and I wish you
wouldn't make me nervous."
"If you had any faculty of premonition, you wouldn't have waited for
me to make you nervous."
"Some people are singularly omniscient."
"Others are singularly deficient"—And at this moment Susanna Crum
came in to announce Miss Jean Dalziel, who had come to see sights with
It was our almost daily practice to walk through the Old Town, and we
were now familiar with every street and close in that densely crowded
quarter. Our quest for the sites of ancient landmarks never grew
monotonous, and we were always reconstructing, in imagination, the
Cowgate, the Canongate, the Lawnmarket, and the High Street, until we
could see Auld Reekie as it was in bygone centuries. In those days of
continual war with England, people crowded their dwellings as near the
Castle as possible, so floor was piled upon floor and flat upon flat,
families ensconcing themselves above other families, the tendency
being ever skyward. Those who dwelt on top had no desire to spend
their strength in carrying down the corkscrew stairs matter which
would descend by the force of gravity if pitched from the window or
door; so the wayfarer, especially after dusk, would be greeted with
cries of "Get out o' the gait!" or "Gardy loo!" which was in the
French "Gardez l'eau," and which would have been understood in any
language, I fancy, after a little experience. The streets then were
filled with the debris flung from a hundred upper windows, while
certain ground-floor tenants, such as butchers and candlemakers,
contributed their full share to the fragrant heaps. As for these too
seldom used narrow turnpike stairs, imagine the dames of fashion
tilting their vast hoops and silken show-petticoats up and down in
That swine roamed at will in these Elysian fields is to be presumed,
since we have this amusing picture of three High Street belles and
beauties in the "Traditions of Edinburgh:"—
"So easy were the manners of the great, fabled to be so stiff and
decorous," says the author, "that Lady Maxwell's daughter Jane, who
afterward became the Duchess of Gordon, was seen riding a sow up the
High Street, while her sister Eglantine (afterwards Lady Wallace of
Craigie) thumped lustily behind with a stick."
No wonder, in view of all this, that King James VI., when about to
bring home his "darrest spous" Anne of Denmark, wrote to the Provost,
"For God's sake see a' things are richt at our hame-coming; a king
with a new-married wife doesna come hame ilka day."
Had it not been for these royal home-comings and visits of
distinguished foreigners, now and again aided by something still more
salutary, an occasional outbreak of the plague, the easy-going
authorities would never have issued any "cleansing edicts," and the
still easier-going inhabitants would never have obeyed them. It was
these dark, tortuous wynds and closes, nevertheless, that made up the
Court End of Old Edinbro'; for some one writes in 1530, "Via vaccarum
in quâ habitant patricii et senatores urbis" (The nobility and chief
senators of the city dwell in the Cowgate). And as for the Canongate,
this Saxon gaet or way of the Holyrood canons, it still sheltered in
1753 "two dukes, sixteen earls, two dowager countesses, seven lords,
seven lords of session, thirteen baronets, four commanders of the
forces in Scotland, and five eminent men,"—fine game indeed for Mally
"A' doun alang the Canongate
Were beaux o' ilk degree;
And mony ane turned round to look
At bonny Mally Lee.
And we're a' gaun east an' west,
We're a' gaun agee,
We're a' gaun east an' west
Courtin' Mally Lee!"
Every corner bristles with memories. Here is the Stamp Office Close,
from which the lovely Susanna, Countess of Eglinton, was wont to issue
on Assembly nights; she, six feet in height, with a brilliantly fair
complexion and a "face of the maist bewitching loveliness." Her seven
daughters and stepdaughters were all conspicuously handsome, and it
was deemed a goodly sight to watch the long procession of eight gilded
sedan-chairs pass from the Stamp Office Close, bearing her and her
stately brood to the Assembly Room, amid a crowd that was "hushed with
respect and admiration to behold their lofty and graceful figures step
from the chairs on the pavement."
Here itself is the site of those old Assemblies presided over at one
time by the famous Miss Nicky Murray, a directress of society affairs,
who seems to have been a feminine premonition of Count d'Orsay and our
own McAllister. Rather dull they must have been, those old Scotch
balls, where Goldsmith saw the ladies and gentlemen in two dismal
groups divided by the length of the room.
"The Assembly Close received the fair—
Order and elegance presided there—
Each gay Right Honourable had her place,
To walk a minuet with becoming grace.
No racing to the dance with rival hurry,
Such was thy sway, O famed Miss Nicky Murray!"
It was half past nine in the evening when Salemina and I drove to
Holyrood, our humble cab-horse jogging faithfully behind Lady Baird's
brougham, and it was the new experience of seeing Auld Reekie by
lamplight that called up these gay visions of other days,—visions and
days so thoroughly our mental property that we could not help
resenting the fact that women were hanging washing from the Countess
of Eglinton's former windows, and popping their unkempt heads out of
the Duchess of Gordon's old doorway.
The Reverend Ronald is so kind! He enters so fully into our spirit of
inquiry, and takes such pleasure in our enthusiasms! He even sprang
lightly out of Lady Baird's carriage and called to our "lamiter" to
halt while he showed us the site of the Black Turnpike, from whose
windows Queen Mary saw the last of her kingdom's capital.
"Here was the Black Turnpike, Miss Hamilton!" he cried; "and from here
Mary went to Loch Leven, where you Hamiltons and the Setons came
gallantly to her help. Don't you remember the 'far ride to the Solway
I looked with interest, though I was in such a state of delicious
excitement that I could scarce keep my seat.
"Only a few minutes more, Salemina," I sighed, "and we shall be in the
palace courtyard; then a probable half-hour in crowded dressing-rooms,
with another half-hour in line, and then, then we shall be making our
best republican bow in the Gallery of the Kings! How I wish Mr.
Beresford and Francesca were with us! What do you suppose was her real
reason for staying away? Some petty disagreement with our young
minister, I am sure. Do you think the dampness is taking the curl out
of our hair? Do you suppose our gowns will be torn to ribbons before
the Marchioness sees them? Do you believe we shall look as well as
anybody? Privately, I think we must look better than anybody; but I
always think that on my way to a party, never after I arrive."
Mrs. M'Collop had asserted that I was "bonnie eneuch for ony court,"
and I could not help wishing that "mine ain dear Somebody" might see
me in my French frock embroidered with silver thistles, and my "shower
bouquet" of Scottish bluebells tied loosely together. Salemina wore
pinky-purple velvet; a real heather color it was, though the Lord High
Commissioner would probably never note the fact.
When we had presented our cards of invitation at the palace doors, we
joined the throng and patiently made our way up the splendid
staircases, past powdered lackeys without number, and, divested of our
wraps, joined another throng on our way to the throne-room, Salemina
and I pressing those cards with our names "legibly written on them"
close to our palpitating breasts.
At last the moment came when, Lady Baird having preceded me, I handed
my bit of pasteboard to the usher; and hearing "Miss Hamilton" called
in stentorian accents, I went forward in my turn, and executed a
graceful and elegant but not too profound curtsy, carefully arranged
to suit the semi-royal, semi-ecclesiastical occasion. I had not
divulged the fact even to Salemina, but I had worn Mrs. M'Collop's
carpet quite threadbare in front of the long mirror, and had curtsied
to myself so many times in its crystal surface that I had developed a
sort of fictitious reverence for my reflected image. I had only begun
my well-practiced obeisance when Her Grace the Marchioness, to my
mingled surprise and embarrassment, extended a gracious hand and
murmured my name in a particularly kind voice. She is fond of Lady
Baird, and perhaps chose this method of showing her friendship; or it
may be that she noticed my silver thistles and Salemina's
heather-colored velvet,—they certainly deserved special recognition;
or it may be that I was too beautiful to pass over in silence,—in my
state of exaltation I was quite equal to the belief.
The presentation over, we wandered through the spacious apartments,
leaning from the open windows to hear the music of the band playing in
the courtyard below, looking at the royal portraits, and chatting with
groups of friends who appeared and reappeared in the throng. Finally
Lady Baird sent for us to join her in a knot of personages more and
less distinguished, who had dined at the palace, and who were standing
behind the receiving party in a sort of sacred group. This indeed was
a ground of vantage, and one could have stood there for hours,
watching all sorts and conditions of men and women bowing before the
Lord High Commissioner and the Marchioness, who, with her
Cleopatra-like beauty and scarlet gown, looked like a gorgeous
Salemina and I watched the curtsying narrowly, with the view at first
of improving our own obeisances for Buckingham Palace; but truth to
say we got no added light, and plainly most of the people had not worn
threadbare the carpets in front of their dressing-mirrors.
Suddenly we heard a familiar name announced, "Lord Colquhoun," a
distinguished judge who had lately been raised to the peerage, and
whom we often met at dinners; then "Miss Rowena Colquhoun;" and then,
in the midst, we fancied, of an unusual stir at the entrance
door—"Miss Francesca Van Buren Monroe." I involuntarily touched the
Reverend Ronald's shoulder in my astonishment, while Salemina lifted
her tortoiseshell lorgnette, and we gazed silently at our recreant
After presentation, each person has fifteen or twenty feet of awful
space to traverse in solitary and defenseless majesty; scanned
meanwhile by the maids of honor (who, if they were truly honorable,
would turn their eyes another way), ladies-in-waiting, the sacred
group in the rear, and the Purse-Bearer himself. I had supposed that
this functionary would keep the purse in his upper bureau drawer at
home, when he was not paying bills, but it seems that when on
processional duty he carries a bag of red velvet quite a yard long
over his arm, where it looks not unlike a lady's opera-cloak. It would
hold the sum total of the moneys disbursed, even if they were reduced
to the standard of vulgar copper.
Under this appalling fire of inspection, some of the victims waddle,
some hurry; some look up and down nervously, others glance over the
shoulder as if dreading to be apprehended; some turn red, others pale,
according to complexion and temperament; some swing their arms, others
trip on their gowns; some twitch the buttons of a glove, or tweak a
flower or a jewel. Francesca rose superior to all these weaknesses,
and I doubt if the Gallery of the Kings ever served as a background
for anything lovelier or more high-bred than that untitled slip of a
girl from "the States." Her trailing gown of pearl-white satin fell in
unbroken lustrous folds behind her. Her beautiful throat and shoulders
rose in statuesque whiteness from the mist of chiffon that encircled
them. Her dark hair showed a moonbeam parting that rested the eye,
wearied by the contemplation of waves and frizzes fresh from the
curling-tongs. Her mother's pearls hung in ropes from neck to waist,
and the one spot of color about her was the single American Beauty
rose she carried. There is a patriotic florist in Paris who grows
these long-stemmed empresses of the rose-garden, and Mr. Beresford
sends some to me every week. Francesca had taken the flower without
permission, and I must say she was as worthy of it as it of her.
She curtsied deeply, with no exaggerated ceremony, but with a sort of
innocent and childlike gravity, while the satin of her gown spread
itself like a great blossom over the floor. Her head was bowed until
the dark lashes swept her crimson cheeks; then she rose again from the
heart of the shimmering lily, with the one splendid rose glowing
against all her dazzling whiteness, and floated slowly across the
dreaded space to the door of exit as if she were preceded by invisible
heralds and followed by invisible train-bearers.
"Who is she?" we heard whispered here and there. "Look at the rose!"
"Look at the pearls! Is she a princess or only an American?"
I glanced at the Reverend Ronald. I imagined he looked pale; at any
rate, he was biting his under lip nervously and I believe he was in
fancy laying his serious, Scottish, allopathic, Presbyterian heart at
Francesca's gay, American, homoeopathic, Swedenborgian feet.
"It is a pity Miss Monroe is such an ardent republican," he said, with
unconcealed bitterness; "otherwise she ought to be a duchess. I never
saw a head that better suited a coronet, nor, if you will pardon me,
one that contained more caprices."
"It is true she flatly refused to accompany us here," I allowed, "but
perhaps she has some explanation more or less silly and serviceable;
meantime, I defy you to tell me she isn't a beauty, and I implore you
to say nothing about its being only skin-deep. Give me a beautiful
exterior, say I, and I will spend my life in making the hidden things
of mind and soul conform to it; but deliver me from all forlorn
attempts to make my beauty of character speak through a large mouth,
breathe through a fat nose, and look at my neighbor through crossed
Mr. Macdonald agreed with me, with some few ministerial reservations.
He always agrees with me, and why he is not tortured at the thought of
my being the promised bride of another, but continues to squander his
affections upon a quarrelsome and unappreciative girl, is more than I
Francesca, escorted by Lord Colquhoun, appeared presently in our
group, but Salemina did not even attempt to scold her. One cannot
scold an imperious young beauty in white satin and pearls,
particularly if she is leaning nonchalantly on the arm of a peer of
It seems that shortly after our departure (we had dined with Lady
Baird) Lord Colquhoun had sent a note to me, requiring an answer.
Francesca had opened it, and found that he offered an extra card of
invitation to one of us, and said that he and his sister would gladly
serve as escort to Holyrood, if desired. She had had an hour or two of
solitude by this time, and was well weary of it, while the last
vestige of headache disappeared under the temptation of appearing at
court with all the éclat of unexpectedness. She dispatched a note of
acceptance to Lord Colquhoun, summoned Mrs. M'Collop, Susanna, and the
maiden Boots to her assistance, spread the trays of her Saratoga
trunks about our three bedrooms, grouped all our candles on her
dressing-table, and borrowed any little elegance of toilette which we
chanced to have left behind. Her own store of adornments is much
greater than ours, but we possess certain articles for which she has a
childlike admiration: my white satin slippers embroidered with seed
pearls, Salemina's pearl-topped comb, Salemina's Valenciennes
handkerchief and diamond belt-clasp, my pearl frog with ruby eyes. We
identified our property on her impertinent young person, and the list
of her borrowings so amused the Reverend Ronald that he forgot his
"It is really an ordeal, that presentation, no matter how strong one's
sense of humor may be, nor how well rooted one's democracy," chattered
Francesca to a serried rank of officers who surrounded her to the
total routing of the ministry. "It is especially trying if one has
come unexpectedly and has no idea of what is to happen. I was agitated
at the supreme moment, because, at the entrance of the throne-room, I
had just shaken hands reverently with a splendid person who proved to
be a footman. Of course I took him for the Commander of the Queen's
Guards, or the Keeper of the Dungeon Keys, or the Most Noble Custodian
of the Royal Moats, Drawbridges, and Portcullises. When he put out his
hand I had no idea it was simply to waft me onward, and so naturally I
shook it,—it's a mercy that I didn't kiss it! Then I curtsied to the
Royal Usher, and overlooked the Lord High Commissioner altogether,
having no eyes for any one but the beautiful scarlet Marchioness. I
only hope they were too busy to notice my mistakes, otherwise I shall
be banished from Court at the very moment of my presentation.—Do you
still banish nowadays?" turning the battery of her eyes upon a
particularly insignificant officer who was far too dazed to answer.
"Did you see the child of ten who was next to me in line? She is Mrs.
Macstronachlacher; at least that was the name on the card she carried,
and she was thus announced. As they tell us the Purse-Bearer is most
rigorous in arranging these functions and issuing the invitations, I
presume she must be Mrs. Macstronachlacher; but if so, they marry very
young in Scotland, and her skirts should really have been longer!"
It is our last day in "Scotia's darling seat," our last day in
Breadalbane Terrace, our last day with Mrs. M'Collop; and though every
one says that we shall love the life in the country, we are loath to
leave Auld Reekie.
Salemina and I have spent two days in search of an abiding-place, and
have visited eight well-recommended villages with that end in view;
but she disliked four of them, and I couldn't endure the other four,
though I considered some of those that fell under her disapproval as
quite delightful in every respect.
We never take Francesca on these pilgrimages of disagreement, as three
conflicting opinions on the same subject would make insupportable what
is otherwise rather exhilarating. She starts from Edinburgh to-morrow
for a brief visit to the Highlands with the Dalziels, and will join us
when we have settled ourselves.
Mr. Beresford leaves Paris as soon after our decision as he is
permitted, so Salemina and I have agreed to agree upon one ideal spot
within thirty-six hours of our quitting Edinburgh, knowing privately
that after a last battle royal we shall enthusiastically support the
joint decision for the rest of our lives.
We have been bidding good-by to people and places and things, and
wishing the sun would not shine and thus make our task the harder. We
have looked our last on the old gray town from Calton Hill, of all
places the best, perhaps, for a view; since, as Stevenson says, from
Calton Hill you can see the Castle, which you lose from the Castle,
and Arthur's Seat, which you cannot see from Arthur's Seat. We have
taken a farewell walk to the Dean Bridge, to gaze wistfully eastward
and marvel for the hundredth time to find so beautiful a spot in the
heart of a city. The soft flowing Water of Leith winding over pebbles
between grassy banks and groups of splendid trees, the roof of the
little temple to Hygeia rising picturesquely among green branches, the
slopes of emerald velvet leading up to the gray stone of the
houses,—where, in all the world of cities, can one find a view to
equal it in peaceful loveliness? Francesca's "bridge-man," who, by the
way, proved to be a distinguished young professor of medicine in the
university, says that the beautiful cities of the world should be
ranked thus,—Constantinople, Prague, Genoa, Edinburgh; but having
seen only one of these, and that the last, I refuse to credit any
sliding scale of comparison which leaves Edina at the foot.
It was nearing tea-time, an hour when we never fail to have visitors,
and we were all in the drawing-room together. I was at the piano,
singing Jacobite melodies for Salemina's delectation. When I came to
the last verse of Lady Nairne's "Hundred Pipers," the spirited words
had taken my fancy captive, and I am sure I could not have sung with
more vigor and passion had my people been "out with the Chevalier."
"The Esk was swollen sae red an' sae deep,
But shouther to shouther the brave lads keep;
Twa thousand swam oure to fell English ground,
An' danced themselves dry to the pibroch's sound.
Dumfounder'd the English saw, they saw,
Dumfounder'd they heard the blaw, the blaw,
Dumfounder'd they a' ran awa', awa',
Frae the hundred pipers an' a', an' a'!"
By the time I came to "Dumfounder'd the English saw" Francesca left
her book and joined in the next four lines, and when we broke into the
chorus Salemina rushed to the piano, and although she cannot sing, she
lifted her voice both high and loud in the refrain, beating time the
while with a dirk paper-knife.
[Transcriber's Note: A brief musical score appears in the text here,
with the lyrics:: Wi' a hun-dred pi-pers an' a', an' a', Wi' a hun-dred
pi-pers an' a', an' a', We'll up an' gie them a blaw, a blaw, Wi'
a hundred pi-pers an' a', an' a'!]
Susanna ushered in Mr. Macdonald and Dr. Moncrieffe as the last "blaw"
faded into silence, and Jean Dalziel came upstairs to say that they
could seldom get a quiet moment for family prayers, because we were
always at the piano, hurling incendiary sentiments into the
air,—sentiments set to such stirring melodies that no one could
"We are very sorry, Miss Dalziel," I said penitently. "We reserve an
hour in the morning and another at bedtime for your uncle's prayers,
but we had no idea you had them at afternoon tea, even in Scotland. I
believe that you are chaffing, and came up only to swell the chorus.
Come, let us all sing together from 'Dumfounder'd the English saw.'"
Mr. Macdonald and Dr. Moncrieffe gave such splendid body to the music,
and Jean such warlike energy, that Salemina waved her paper-knife in a
manner more than ever sanguinary, and Susanna hesitated outside the
door for sheer delight, and had to be coaxed in with the tea-things.
On the heels of the tea-things came the Dominie, another dear old
friend of six weeks' standing; and while the doctor sang "Jock o'
Hazledean" with such irresistible charm that we all longed to elope
with somebody on the instant, Salemina dispensed buttered toast,
marmalade sandwiches, and the fragrant cup. By this time we were
thoroughly cosy, and Mr. Macdonald made himself and us very much at
home by stirring the fire; whereupon Francesca embarrassed him by
begging him not to touch it unless he could do it properly, which, she
added, seemed quite unlikely, from the way in which he handled the
"What will Edinburgh do without you?" he asked, turning towards us
with flattering sadness in his tone. "Who will hear our Scotch
stories, never suspecting their hoary old age? Who will ask us
questions to which we somehow always know the answers? Who will make
us study and reverence anew our own landmarks? Who will keep warm our
national and local pride by judicious enthusiasm?"
"I think the national and local pride may be counted on to exist
without any artificial stimulants," dryly observed Francesca, whose
spirit is not in the least quenched by approaching departure.
"Perhaps," answered the Reverend Ronald; "but at any rate, you, Miss
Monroe, will always be able to reflect that you have never been
responsible even for its momentary inflation!"
"Isn't it strange that she cannot get on better with that charming
fellow?" murmured Salemina, as she passed me the sugar for my second
"If your present symptoms of blindness continue, Salemina," I said,
searching for a small lump so as to gain time, "I shall write you a
plaintive ballad, buy you a dog, and stand you on a street corner! If
you had ever permitted yourself to 'get on' with any man as Francesca
is getting on with Mr. Macdonald, you would now be Mrs.—Somebody."
"Do you know, doctor," asked the Dominie, "that Miss Hamilton shed
real tears at Holyrood, the other night, when the band played 'Bonnie
Charlie's now awa'?"
"They were real," I confessed, "in the sense that they certainly were
not crocodile tears; but I am somewhat at a loss to explain them from
a sensible, American standpoint. Of course my Jacobitism is purely
impersonal, though scarcely more so than yours, at this late day; at
least it is merely a poetic sentiment, for which Caroline, Baroness
Nairne is mainly responsible. My romantic tears came from a vision of
the Bonnie Prince as he entered Holyrood, dressed in his short tartan
coat, his scarlet breeches and military boots, the star of St. Andrew
on his breast, a blue ribbon over his shoulder, and the famous blue
velvet bonnet and white cockade. He must have looked so brave and
handsome and hopeful at that moment, and the moment was so sadly
brief, that when the band played the plaintive air I kept hearing the
'Mony a heart will break in twa,
Should he no come back again.'
He did come back again to me that evening, and held a phantom levee
behind the Marchioness of Heatherdale's shoulder. His 'ghaist' looked
bonnie and rosy and confident, yet all the time the band was playing
the requiem for his lost cause and buried hopes."
I looked towards the fire to hide the moisture that crept again into
my eyes, and my glance fell upon Francesca sitting dreamily on a
hassock in front of the cheerful blaze, her chin in the hollow of her
palm, and the Reverend Ronald standing on the hearth-rug gazing at
her, the poker in his hand, and his heart, I regret to say, in such an
exposed position on his sleeve that even Salemina could have seen it
had she turned her eyes that way.
Jean Dalziel broke the momentary silence: "I am sure I never hear the
last two lines,—
'Better lo'ed ye canna be,
Will ye no come back again?'
without a lump in my throat," and she hummed the lovely melody. "It is
all as you say purely impersonal and poetic. My mother is an
Englishwoman, but she sings 'Dumfounder'd the English saw, they saw,'
with the greatest fire and fury."
"I think I was never so completely under the spell of a country as I
am of Scotland." I made this acknowledgment freely, but I knew that it
would provoke comment from my compatriots.
"Oh yes, my dear, you have been just as spellbound before, only you
don't remember it," replied Salemina promptly. "I have never seen a
person more perilously appreciative or receptive than you."
"'Perilously' is just the word," chimed in Francesca delightedly;
"when you care for a place you grow porous, as it were, until after a
time you are precisely like blotting-paper. Now, there was Italy, for
example. After eight weeks in Venice you were completely Venetian,
from your fan to the ridiculous little crepe shawl you wore because an
Italian prince had told you that centuries were usually needed to
teach a woman how to wear a shawl, but that you had been born with the
art, and the shoulders! Anything but a watery street was repulsive to
you. Cobblestones? 'Ordinario, dúro, brútto! A gondola? Ah,
bellissima! Let me float forever thus!' You bathed your spirit in
sunshine and color; I can hear you murmur now, 'O Venezia benedetta!
non ti voglio lasciar!'"
"It was just the same when she spent a month in France with the
Baroness de Hautenoblesse," continued Salemina. "When she returned to
America it is no flattery to say that in dress, attitude, inflection,
manner, she was a thorough Parisienne. There was an elegant
superficiality and a superficial elegance about her that I can never
forget, nor yet her extraordinary volubility in a foreign
language,—the fluency with which she expressed her inmost soul on all
topics without the aid of a single irregular verb, for these she was
never able to acquire; oh, it was wonderful, but there was no
affectation about it; she had simply been a kind of blotting-paper, as
Miss Monroe says, and France had written itself all over her."
"I don't wish to interfere with anybody's diagnosis," I interposed at
the first possible moment, "but perhaps after you've both finished
your psychologic investigation the subject may be allowed to explain
herself from the inside, so to speak. I won't deny the spell of Italy,
but I think the spell that Scotland casts over one is quite a
different thing, more spiritual, more difficult to break. Italy's
charm has something physical in it; it is born of blue sky, sunlit
waves, soft atmosphere, orange sails and yellow moons, and appeals
more to the senses. In Scotland the climate certainly has naught to do
with it, but the imagination is somehow made captive. I am not
enthralled by the past of Italy or France, for instance."
"Of course you are not at the present moment," said Francesca,
"because you are enthralled by the past of Scotland, and even you
cannot be the slave of two pasts at the same time."
"I never was particularly enthralled by Italy's past," I argued with
exemplary patience, "but the romance of Scotland has a flavor all its
own. I do not quite know the secret of it."
"It's the kilts and the pipes," said Francesca.
"No, the history." (This from Salemina.)
"Or Sir Walter and the literature," suggested Mr. Macdonald.
"Or the songs and ballads," ventured Jean Dalziel.
"There!" I exclaimed triumphantly, "you see for yourselves you have
named avenue after avenue along which one's mind is led in charmed
subjection. Where can you find battles that kindle your fancy like
Falkirk and Flodden and Culloden and Bannockburn? Where a sovereign
that attracts, baffles, repels, allures, like Mary Queen of
Scots,—and where, tell me where, is there a Pretender like Bonnie
Prince Charlie? Think of the spirit in those old Scottish matrons who
'I'll sell my rock, I'll sell my reel,
My rippling-kame and spinning-wheel,
To buy my lad a tartan plaid,
A braid sword, durk, and white cockade.'"
"Yes," chimed in Salemina when I had finished quoting, "or that other
verse that goes,—
'I ance had sons, I now hae nane,
I bare them toiling sairlie;
But I would bear them a' again
To lose them a' for Charlie!'
Isn't the enthusiasm almost beyond belief at this distance of time?"
she went on; "and isn't it a curious fact, as Mr. Macdonald told me a
moment ago, that though the whole country was vocal with songs for the
lost cause and the fallen race, not one in favor of the victors ever
"Sympathy for the under dog, as Miss Monroe's countrywomen would say
picturesquely," remarked Mr. Macdonald.
"I don't see why all the vulgarisms in the dictionary should be
foisted on the American girl," retorted Francesca loftily, "unless,
indeed, it is a determined attempt to find spots upon the sun for fear
we shall worship it!"
"Quite so, quite so!" returned the Reverend Ronald, who has had reason
to know that this phrase reduces Miss Monroe to voiceless rage.
"The Stuart charm and personal magnetism must have been a powerful
factor in all that movement," said Salemina, plunging hastily back
into the topic to avert any further recrimination. "I suppose we feel
it even now, and if I had been alive in 1745 I should probably have
made myself ridiculous. 'Old maiden ladies,' I read this morning,
'were the last leal Jacobites in Edinburgh; spinsterhood in its
loneliness remained ever true to Prince Charlie and the vanished
dreams of youth.'"
"Yes," continued the Dominie, "the story is told of the last of those
Jacobite ladies who never failed to close her Prayer-Book and stand
erect in silent protest when the prayer for 'King George III. and the
reigning family' was read by the congregation."
"Do you remember the prayer of the Reverend Neil McVicar in St.
Cuthbert's?" asked Mr. Macdonald. "It was in 1745, after the victory
at Prestonpans, when a message was sent to the Edinburgh ministers, in
the name of 'Charles, Prince Regent,' desiring them to open their
churches next day as usual. McVicar preached to a large congregation,
many of whom were armed Highlanders, and prayed for George II., and
also for Charles Edward, in the following fashion: 'Bless the king!
Thou knowest what king I mean. May the crown sit long upon his head!
As for that young man who has come among us to seek an earthly crown,
we beseech Thee to take him to Thyself and give him a crown of
"Ah, what a pity the Bonnie Prince had not died after his meteor
victory at Falkirk!" exclaimed Jean Dalziel, when we had finished
laughing at Mr. Macdonald's story.
"Or at Culloden, 'where, quenched in blood on the Muir of Drummossie,
the star of the Stuarts sank forever,'" quoted the Dominie. "There is
where his better self died; would that the young Chevalier had died
with it! By the way, doctor, we must not sit here eating goodies and
sipping tea until the dinner-hour, for these ladies have doubtless
much to do for their flitting" (a pretty Scots word for "moving").
"We are quite ready for our flitting so far as packing is concerned,"
Salemina assured him. "Would that we were as ready in spirit! Miss
Hamilton has even written her farewell poem, which I am sure she will
read for the asking."
"She will read it without that formality," murmured Francesca. "She
has lived and toiled only for this moment, and the poem is in her
"Delightful!" said the doctor flatteringly. "Has she favored you
already? Have you heard it, Miss Monroe?"
"Have we heard it!" ejaculated that young person. "We have heard
nothing else all the morning! What you will take for local color is
nothing but our mental life-blood, which she has mercilessly drawn to
stain her verses. We each tried to write a Scottish poem, and as Miss
Hamilton's was better, or perhaps I might say less bad, than ours, we
encouraged her to develop and finish it. I wanted to do an imitation
'Adieu, Edinburgh! thou heich triumphant town,
Within whose bounds richt blithefull have I been!'
but it proved too difficult. Miss Hamilton's general idea was that we
should write some verses in good plain English. Then we were to take
out all the final g's, and indeed the final letters from all the words
wherever it was possible, so that full, awful, call, ball,
hall, and away should be fu', awfu', ca', ba', ha', an'
awa'. This alone gives great charm and character to a poem; but we
were also to change all words ending in ow into aw. This doesn't
injure the verse, you see, as blaw and snaw rhyme just as well as
blow and snow, beside bringing tears to the common eye with their
poetic associations. Similarly, if we had daughter and slaughter,
we were to write them dochter and slauchter, substituting in all
cases doon, froon, goon, and toon, for down, frown,
gown, and town. Then we made a list of Scottish idols,—pet words,
national institutions, stock phrases, beloved objects,—convinced if
we could weave them in we should attain 'atmosphere.' Here is the
first list; it lengthened speedily: thistle, tartan, haar, haggis,
kirk, claymore, parritch, broom, whin, sporran, whaup, plaid, scone,
collops, whiskey, mutch, cairngorm, oatmeal, brae, kilt, brose,
heather. Salemina and I were too devoted to common sense to succeed in
this weaving process, so Penelope triumphed and won the first prize,
both for that and also because she brought in a saying given us by
Miss Dalziel, about the social classification of all Scotland into
'the gentlemen of the North, men of the South, people of the West,
fowk o' Fife, and the Paisley bodies.' We think that her success came
chiefly from her writing the verses with a Scotch plaid lead-pencil.
What effect the absorption of so much red, blue, and green paint will
have I cannot fancy, but she ate off—and up—all the tartan glaze
before finishing the poem; it had a wonderfully stimulating effect,
but the end is not yet!"
Of course there was a chorus of laughter when the young wretch
exhibited my battered pencil, bought in Princes Street yesterday, its
gay Gordon tints sadly disfigured by the destroying tooth, not of
Time, but of a bard in the throes of composition.
"We bestowed a consolation prize on Salemina," continued Francesca,
"because she succeeded in getting hoots, losh, havers, and
blathers into one line, but naturally she could not maintain such an
ideal standard. Read your verses, Pen, though there is little hope
that our friends will enjoy them as much as you do. Whenever Miss
Hamilton writes anything of this kind, she emulates her distinguished
ancestor Sir William Hamilton, who always fell off his own chair in
fits of laughter when he was composing verses."
With this inspiring introduction I read my lines as follows:—
AN AMERICAN LADY'S FAREWELL TO EDINBURGH
THE MUSE BEING SOMEWHAT UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF
THE SCOTTISH BALLAD
I canna thole my ain toun,
Sin' I hae dwelt i' this;
To hide in Edinboro' reek,
Wad be the tap o' bliss.
Yon bonnie plaid aboot me hap,
The skirlin' pipes gae bring,
With thistles fair tie up my hair,
While I of Scotia sing.
The collops an' the cairngorms,
The haggis an' the whin,
The 'Stablished, Free, an' U. P. kirks,
The hairt convinced o' sin,—
The parritch an' the heather-bell,
The snawdrap on the shaw,
The bit lam's bleatin' on the braes,—
How can I leave them a'!
How can I leave the marmalade
An' bonnets o' Dundee?
The haar, the haddies, an' the brose,
The East win' blawin' free!
How can I lay my sporran by,
An' sit me doun at hame,
Wi'oot a Hieland philabeg
Or hyphenated name?
I lo'e the gentry o' the North,
The Southern men I lo'e,
The canty people o' the West,
The Paisley bodies too.
The pawky fowk o' Fife are dear,—
Sae dear are ane an' a',
That e'en to think that we maun pairt
Maist braks my hairt in twa.
So fetch me tartans, heather, scones,
An' dye my tresses red;
I'd deck me like th' unconquer'd Scots
Wha hae wi' Wallace bled.
Then bind my claymore to my side,
My kilt an' mutch gae bring;
While Scottish lays soun' i' my lugs
McKinley's no my king,—
For Charlie, bonnie Stuart Prince,
Has turned me Jacobite;
I'd wear displayed the white cockade,
An' (whiles) for him I'd fight!
An' (whiles) I'd fight for a' that's Scotch,
Save whuskey an' oatmeal,
For wi' their ballads i' my bluid,
Nae Scot could be mair leal!
I fancied that I had pitched my verses in so high a key that no one
could mistake their burlesque intention. What was my confusion,
however, to have one of the company remark when I finished, "Extremely
pretty; but a mutch, you know, is an article of woman's apparel."
Mr. Macdonald flung himself gallantly into the breach. He is such a
dear fellow! So quick, so discriminating, so warm-hearted!
"Don't pick flaws in Miss Hamilton's finest line! That picture of a
fair American, clad in a kilt and mutch, decked in heather and scones,
and brandishing a claymore, will live forever in my memory. Don't clip
the wings of her imagination! You will be telling her soon that one
doesn't tie one's hair with thistles, nor couple collops with
Somebody sent Francesca a great bunch of yellow broom, late that
afternoon. There was no name in the box, she said, but at night she
wore the odorous tips in the bosom of her black dinner-gown, and
standing erect in her dark hair like golden aigrettes.
When she came into my room to say good-night, she laid the pretty
frock in one of my trunks, which was to be filled with the garments of
fashionable society and left behind in Edinburgh. The next moment I
chanced to look on the floor, and discovered a little card, a bent
card, with two lines written on it:—
"Better lo'ed ye canna be,
Will ye no come back again?"
We have received many invitations in that handwriting. I know it well,
and so does Francesca, though it is blurred; and the reason for this,
according to my way of thinking, is that it has been lying next the
moist stems of flowers, and, unless I do her wrong, very near to
somebody's warm heart as well.
I will not betray her to Salemina, even to gain a victory over that
blind and deaf but much beloved woman. How could I, with my heart
beating high at the thought of seeing my ain dear laddie before many
"Oh, love, love, lassie,
Love is like a dizziness:
It winna let a puir body
Gang aboot his business."
PART SECOND. IN THE COUNTRY
"Now she's cast aff her bonny shoon
Made o' gilded leather,
And she's put on her Hieland brogues
To skip amang the heather.
And she's cast aff her bonny goon
Made o' the silk and satin,
And she's put on a tartan plaid
To row amang the braken."
We are in the East Neuk o' Fife; we are in Pettybaw; we are neither
boarders nor lodgers; we are residents, inhabitants, householders, and
we live (live, mind you) in a wee theekit hoosie in the old loaning.
Words fail to tell you how absolutely Scotch we are and how blissfully
happy. It is a happiness, I assure you, achieved through great
tribulation. Salemina and I traveled many miles in railway trains, and
many in various other sorts of wheeled vehicles, while the ideal ever
beckoned us onward. I was determined to find a romantic lodging,
Salemina a comfortable one, and this special combination of virtues is
next to impossible, as every one knows. Linghurst was too much of a
town; Bonnie Craig had no respectable inn; Whinnybrae was struggling
to be a watering-place; Broomlea had no golf course within ten miles,
and we intended to go back to our native land and win silver goblets
in mixed foursomes; the "new toun o' Fairloch" (which looked centuries
old) was delightful, but we could not find apartments there; Pinkie
Leith was nice, but they were tearing up the "fore street" and laying
drain-pipes in it. Strathdee had been highly recommended, but it
rained when we were in Strathdee, and nobody can deliberately settle
in a place where it rains during the process of deliberation. No train
left this moist and dripping hamlet for three hours, so we took a
covered trap and drove onward in melancholy mood. Suddenly the clouds
lifted and the rain ceased; the driver thought we should be having
settled weather now, and put back the top of the carriage, saying
meanwhile that it was a verra dry simmer this year, and that the crops
sairly needed shoo'rs.
"Of course, if there is any district in Scotland where for any reason
droughts are possible, that is where we wish to settle," I whispered
to Salemina; "though, so far as I can see, the Strathdee crops are up
to their knees in mud. Here is another wee village. What is this
"Pettybaw, mam; a fine toun!"
"Will there be apartments to let there?"
"I couldna say, mam."
"Susanna Crum's father! How curious that he should live here!" I
murmured; and at this moment the sun came out, and shone full, or at
least almost full, on our future home.
"Pettybaw! Petit bois, I suppose," said Salemina; "and there, to be
sure, it is,—the 'little wood' yonder."
We drove to the Pettybaw Inn and Posting Establishment, and,
alighting, dismissed the driver. We had still three good hours of
daylight, although it was five o'clock, and we refreshed ourselves
with a delicious cup of tea before looking for lodgings. We consulted
the greengrocer, the baker, and the flesher, about furnished
apartments, and started on our quest, not regarding the little posting
establishment as a possibility. Apartments we found to be very scarce,
and in one or two places that were quite suitable the landlady refused
to do any cooking. We wandered from house to house, the sun shining
brighter and brighter, and Pettybaw looking lovelier and lovelier; and
as we were refused shelter again and again, we grew more and more
enamored, as is the manner of human kind. The blue sea sparkled, and
Pettybaw Sands gleamed white a mile or two in the distance, the pretty
stone church raised its carved spire from the green trees, the manse
next door was hidden in vines, the sheep lay close to the gray stone
walls and the young lambs nestled close beside them, while the song of
the burn, tinkling merrily down the glade on the edge of which we
stood, and the cawing of the rooks in the little wood, were the only
sounds to be heard.
Salemina, under the influence of this sylvan solitude, nobly declared
that she could and would do without a set bath-tub, and proposed
building a cabin and living near to nature's heart.
"I think, on the whole, we should be more comfortable living near to
the inn-keeper's heart," I answered. "Let us go back there and pass
the night, trying thus the bed and breakfast, with a view to seeing
what they are like,—though they did say in Edinburgh that nobody
thinks of living in these wayside hostelries."
Back we went, accordingly, and after ordering dinner came out and
strolled idly up the main street. A small sign in the draper's window,
heretofore overlooked, caught our eye. "House and Garden To Let.
Inquire Within." Inquiring within with all possible speed, we found
the draper selling winseys, the draper's assistant tidying the
ribbon-box, the draper's wife sewing in one corner, and the draper's
baby playing on the clean floor. We were impressed favorably, and
entered into negotiations without delay.
"The house will be in the loaning; do you mind, ma'am?" asked the
draper. (We have long since discovered that this use of the verb is a
bequest from the Gaelic, in which there is no present tense. Man never
is, but always to be blessed, in that language, which in this
particular is not unlike old-fashioned Calvinism.)
We went out of the back door and down the green loaning, until we came
to the wee stone cottage in which the draper himself lives most of the
year, retiring for the warmer months to the back of his shop, and
eking out a comfortable income by renting his hearthstone to the
The thatched roof on the wing that formed the kitchen attracted my
artist's eye, and we went in to examine the interior, which we found
surprisingly attractive. There was a tiny sitting-room, with a
fireplace and a microscopic piano; a dining-room adorned with
portraits of relatives who looked nervous when they met my eye, for
they knew that they would be turned face to the wall on the morrow;
four bedrooms, a kitchen, and a back garden so filled with vegetables
and flowers that we exclaimed with astonishment and admiration.
"But we cannot keep house in Scotland," objected Salemina. "Think of
the care! And what about the servants?"
"Why not eat at the inn?" I suggested. "Think of living in a real
loaning, Salemina! Look at the stone floor in the kitchen, and the
adorable stuffy box-bed in the wall! Look at the bust of Sir Walter in
the hall, and the chromo of Melrose Abbey by moonlight! Look at the
lintel over the front door, with a ship, moon, stars, and 1602 carved
in the stone! What is food to all this?"
Salemina agreed that it was hardly worth considering; and in truth so
many landladies had refused to receive her as a tenant that day, that
her spirits were rather low, and she was uncommonly flexible.
"It is the lintel and the back garden that rents the hoose," remarked
the draper complacently in broad Scotch that I cannot reproduce. He is
a house-agent as well as a draper, and went on to tell us that when he
had a cottage he could rent in no other way he planted plenty of
creepers in front of it. "The baker's hoose is no sae bonnie," he
said, "and the linen and cutlery verra scanty, but there is a yellow
laburnum growin' by the door: the leddies see that, and forget to ask
aboot the linen. It depends a good bit on the weather, too; it is easy
to let a hoose when the sun shines upon it."
"We hardly dare undertake regular housekeeping," I said; "do your
tenants ever take meals at the inn?"
"I couldna say, mam." (Dear, dear, the Crums are a large family!)
"If we did that, we should still need a servant to keep the house
tidy," said Salemina, as we walked away. "Perhaps housemaids are to be
had, though not nearer than Edinburgh, I fancy."
This gave me an idea, and I slipped over to the post-office while
Salemina was preparing for dinner, and dispatched a telegram to Mrs.
M'Collop at Breadalbane Terrace, asking her if she could send a
reliable general servant to us, capable of cooking simple breakfasts
and caring for a house.
We had scarcely finished our Scotch broth, fried haddies,
mutton-chops, and rhubarb tart when I received an answer from Mrs.
M'Collop to the effect that her sister's husband's niece, Jane Grieve,
could join us on the morrow if desired. The relationship was an
interesting fact, though we scarcely thought the information worth the
additional threepence we paid for it in the telegram; however, Mrs.
M'Collop's comfortable assurance, together with the quality of the
rhubarb tart and mutton-chops, brought us to a decision. Before going
to sleep we rented the draper's house, named it Bide-a-Wee Cottage,
engaged daily luncheons and dinners for three persons at the Pettybaw
Inn and Posting Establishment, telegraphed to Edinburgh for Jane
Grieve, to Callender for Francesca, and dispatched a letter to Paris
for Mr. Beresford, telling him we had taken a "wee theekit hoosie" and
that the "yett was ajee" whenever he chose to come.
"Possibly it would have been wiser not to send for them until we were
settled," I said reflectively. "Jane Grieve may not prove a suitable
"The name somehow sounds too young and inexperienced," observed
Salemina, "and what association have I with the phrase 'sister's
"You have heard me quote Lewis Carroll's verse, perhaps:—
'He thought he saw a buffalo
Upon the chimney-piece;
He looked again and found it was
His sister's husband's niece:
"Unless you leave the house," he said,
"I'll send for the police!"'
The only thing that troubles me," I went on, "is the question of
Willie Beresford's place of residence. He expects to be somewhere
within easy walking or cycling distance,—four or five miles at
"He won't be desolate even if he doesn't have a thatched roof, a pansy
garden, and a blossoming shrub," said Salemina sleepily, for our
business arrangements and discussions had lasted well into the
evening. "What he will want is a lodging where he can have frequent
sight and speech of you. How I dread him! How I resent his sharing of
you with us! I don't know why I use the word 'sharing,' forsooth!
There is nothing half so fair and just in his majesty's greedy mind.
Well, it's the way of the world; only it is odd, with the universe of
women to choose from, that he must needs take you. Strathdee seems the
most desirable place for him, if he has a mackintosh and rubber boots.
Inchcaldy is another town near here that we didn't see at all,—that
might do; the draper's wife says that we can send fine linen to the
"Inchcaldy? Oh yes, I think we heard of it in Edinburgh—at least I
have some association with the name: it has a fine golf course, I
believe, and very likely we ought to have looked at it, though for my
part I have no regrets. Nothing can equal Pettybaw; and I am so
pleased to be a Scottish householder! Aren't we just like Bessie Bell
and Mary Gray?
'They were twa bonnie lassies;
They biggit a bower on yon burnbrae,
An' theekit it ower wi' rashes.'
Think of our stone-floored kitchen, Salemina! Think of the real
box-bed in the wall for little Jane Grieve! She will have red-gold
hair, blue eyes, and a pink cotton gown. Think of our own cat! Think
how Francesca will admire the 1602 lintel! Think of our back garden,
with our own 'neeps' and vegetable marrows growing in it! Think how
they will envy us at home when they learn that we have settled down
into Scottish yeowomen!
'It's oh, for a patch of land!
It's oh, for a patch of land!
Of all the blessings tongue can name,
There's nane like a patch of land!'
Think of Willie coming to step on the floor and look at the bed and
stroke the cat and covet the lintel and walk in the garden and weed
the turnips and pluck the marrows that grow by our ain wee theekit
"Penelope, you appear slightly intoxicated! Do close the window and
come to bed."
"I am intoxicated with the caller air of Pettybaw," I rejoined,
leaning on the window-sill and looking at the stars, while I thought:
"Edinburgh was beautiful; it is the most beautiful gray city in the
world; it lacked one thing only to make it perfect, and Pettybaw will
have that before many moons.
'Oh, Willie's rare an' Willie's fair
An' Willie's wondrous bonny;
An' Willie's hecht to marry me
Gin e'er he marries ony.
'O gentle wind that bloweth south,
From where my love repaireth,
Convey a word from his dear mouth,
An' tell me how he fareth.'"
"Gae tak' awa' the china plates,
Gae tak' them far frae me;
And bring to me a wooden dish,
It's that I'm best used wi'.
And tak' awa' thae siller spoons
The like I ne'er did see,
And bring to me the horn cutties,
They're good eneugh for me."
Earl Richard's Wedding.
The next day was one of the most cheerful and one of the most
fatiguing that I ever spent. Salemina and I moved every article of
furniture in our wee theekit hoosie from the place where it originally
stood to another and a better place: arguing, of course, over the
precise spot it should occupy, which was generally upstairs if the
thing were already down, or downstairs if it were already up. We hid
all the more hideous ornaments of the draper's wife, and folded away
her most objectionable tidies and table-covers, replacing them with
our own pretty draperies. There were only two pictures in the
sitting-room, and as an artist I would not have parted with them for
worlds. The first was The Life of a Fireman, which could only remind
one of the explosion of a mammoth tomato, and the other was The Spirit
of Poetry Calling Burns from the Plough. Burns wore white
knee-breeches, military boots, a splendid waistcoat with lace ruffles,
and carried a cocked hat. To have been so dressed he must have known
the Spirit was intending to come. The plough-horse was a magnificent
Arabian, whose tail swept the freshly furrowed earth, while the Spirit
of Poetry was issuing from a practicable wigwam on the left, and was a
lady of such ample dimensions that no poet would have dared say "no"
when she called him.
The dining-room was blighted by framed photographs of the draper's
relations and the draper's wife's relations; all uniformly ugly. (It
seems strange that married couples having the least beauty to bequeath
to their offspring should persist in having the largest families.)
These ladies and gentlemen were too numerous to remove, so we obscured
them with trailing branches; reflecting that we only breakfasted in
the room, and the morning meal is easily digested when one lives in
the open air. We arranged flowers everywhere, and bought potted plants
at a little nursery hard by. We apportioned the bedrooms, giving
Francesca the hardest bed,—as she is the youngest, and wasn't here to
choose,—me the next hardest, and Salemina the best; Francesca the
largest looking-glass and wardrobe, me the best view, and Salemina the
biggest bath. We bought housekeeping stores, distributing our
patronage equally between the two grocers; we purchased aprons and
dusters from the rival drapers, engaged bread and rolls from the
baker, milk and cream from the plumber, who keeps three cows,
interviewed the flesher about chops; in fact, no young couple facing
love in a cottage ever had a busier or happier time than we; and at
sundown, when Francesca arrived, we were in the pink of order,
standing under our own lintel, ready to welcome her to Pettybaw. As to
being strangers in a strange land, we had a bowing acquaintance with
everybody on the main street of the tiny village, and were on terms of
considerable intimacy with half a dozen families, including dogs and
Francesca was delighted with everything, from the station (Pettybaw
Sands, two miles away) to Jane Grieve's name, which she thought as
perfect, in its way, as Susanna Crum's. She had purchased a
"tirling-pin," that old-time precursor of knockers and bells, at an
antique shop in Oban, and we fastened it on the front door at once,
taking turns at risping it until our own nerves were shattered, and
the draper's wife ran down the loaning to see if we were in need of
anything. The twisted bar of iron stands out from the door and the
ring is drawn up and down over a series of nicks, making a rasping
noise. The lovers and ghaists in the old ballads always "tirled at the
pin," you remember; that is, touched it gently.
Francesca brought us letters from Edinburgh, and what was my joy, in
opening Willie's, to learn that he begged us to find a place in
Fifeshire, and as near St. Rules or Strathdee as convenient; for in
that case he could accept an invitation he had just received to visit
his friend Robin Anstruther, at Rowardennan Castle.
"It is not the visit at the castle I wish so much, you may be sure,"
he wrote, "as the fact that Lady Ardmore will make everything pleasant
for you. You will like my friend Robin Anstruther, who is Lady
Ardmore's youngest brother, and who is going to her to be nursed and
coddled after a baddish accident in the hunting-field. He is very
sweet-tempered, and will get on well with Francesca"—
"I don't see the connection," rudely interrupted that spirited young
"I suppose she has more room on her list in the country than she had
in Edinburgh; but if my remembrance serves me, she always enrolls a
goodly number of victims, whether she has any immediate use for them
"Mr. Beresford's manners have not been improved by his residence in
Paris," observed Francesca, with resentment in her tone and delight in
"Mr. Beresford's manners are always perfect," said Salemina loyally,
"and I have no doubt that this visit to Lady Ardmore will be extremely
pleasant for him, though very embarrassing to us. If we are thrown
into forced intimacy with a castle" (Salemina spoke of it as if it had
fangs and a lashing tail), "what shall we do in this draper's hut?"
"Salemina!" I expostulated, "the bears will devour you as they did the
ungrateful child in the fairy-tale. I wonder at your daring to use the
word 'hut' in connection with our wee theekit hoosie!"
"They will never understand that we are doing all this for the novelty
of it," she objected. "The Scottish nobility and gentry probably never
think of renting a house for a joke. Imagine Lord and Lady Ardmore,
the young Ardmores, Robin Anstruther, and Willie Beresford calling
upon us in this sitting-room! We ourselves would have to sit in the
hall and talk in through the doorway."
"All will be well," Francesca assured her soothingly. "We shall be
pardoned much because we are Americans, and will not be expected to
know any better. Besides, the gifted Miss Hamilton is an artist, and
that covers a multitude of sins against conventionality. When the
castle people 'tirl at the pin,' I will appear as the maid, if you
like, following your example at Mrs. Bobby's cottage in Belvern,
"And it isn't as if there were many houses to choose from, Salemina,
nor as if Bide-a-Wee Cottage were cheap," I continued. "Think of the
rent we pay and keep your head high. Remember that the draper's wife
says there is nothing half so comfortable in Inchcaldy, although that
is twice as large a town."
"Inchcaldy!" ejaculated Francesca, sitting down heavily upon the
sofa and staring at me.
"Inchcaldy, my dear,—spelled caldy, but pronounced cawdy; the
town where you are to take your nonsensical little fripperies to be
"Where is Inchcaldy? How far away?"
"About five miles, I believe, but a lovely road."
"Well," she exclaimed bitterly, "of course Scotland is a small,
insignificant country; but, tiny as it is, it presents some liberty of
choice, and why you need have pitched upon Pettybaw, and brought me
here, when it is only five miles from Inchcaldy, and a lovely road
besides, is more than I can understand!"
"In what way has Inchcaldy been so unhappy as to offend you?" I
"It has not offended me, save that it chances to be Ronald Macdonald's
parish,—that is all."
"Ronald Macdonald's parish!" we repeated automatically.
"Certainly,—you must have heard him mention Inchcaldy; and how queer
he will think it that I have come to Pettybaw, under all the
"We do not know 'all the circumstances,'" quoted Salemina somewhat
haughtily; "and you must remember, my dear, that our opportunities for
speech with Mr. Macdonald have been very rare when you were present.
For my part, I was always in such a tremor of anxiety during his
visits lest one or both of you should descend to blows that I remember
no details of his conversation. Besides, we did not choose Pettybaw;
we discovered it by chance as we were driving from Strathdee to St.
Rules. How were we to know that it was near this fatal Inchcaldy? If
you think it best, we will hold no communication with the place, and
Mr. Macdonald need never know you are here."
I thought Francesca looked rather startled at this proposition. At all
events she said hastily, "Oh well, let it go; we could not avoid each
other long, anyway, though it is very awkward, of course; you see, we
did not part friends."
"I thought I had never seen you on more cordial terms," remarked
"But you weren't there," answered Francesca unguardedly.
"At the station."
"The station in Edinburgh from which I started for the Highlands."
"You never said that he came to see you off."
"The matter was too unimportant for notice; and the more I think of
his being here, the less I mind it, after all; and so, dull care,
begone! When I first meet him on the sands or in the loaning, I shall
say, 'Dear me, is it Mr. Macdonald! What brought you to our quiet
hamlet?' (I shall put the responsibility on him, you know.) 'That is
the worst of these small countries,—fowk are aye i' the gait! When we
part forever in America, we are able to stay parted, if we wish.' Then
he will say, 'Quite so, quite so; but I suppose even you, Miss Monroe,
will allow that a minister may not move his church to please a lady.'
'Certainly not,' I shall reply, 'eespecially when it is Estaiblished!'
Then he will laugh, and we shall be better friends for a few moments;
and then I shall tell him my latest story about the Scotchman who
prayed, 'Lord, I do not ask that Thou shouldst give me wealth; only
show me where it is, and I will attend to the rest.'"
Salemina moaned at the delightful prospect opening before us, while I
went to the piano and caroled impersonally:—
"Oh, wherefore did I cross the Forth,
And leave my love behind me?
Why did I venture to the north
With one that did not mind me?
I'm sure I've seen a better limb
And twenty better faces;
But still my mind it runs on him
When I am at the races!"
Francesca left the room at this, and closed the door behind her with
such energy that the bust of Sir Walter rocked on the hall shelf.
Running upstairs she locked herself in her bedroom, and came down
again only to help us receive Jane Grieve, who arrived at eight
In times of joy, Salemina, Francesca, and I occasionally have our
trifling differences of opinion, but in hours of affliction we are as
one flesh. An all-wise Providence sent us Jane Grieve for fear that we
should be too happy in Pettybaw. Plans made in heaven for the
discipline of sinful human flesh are always successful, and this was
We had sent a "machine" from the inn to meet her, and when it drew up
at the door we went forward to greet the rosy little Jane of our
fancy. An aged person, wearing a rusty black bonnet and shawl, and
carrying what appeared to be a tin cake-box and a baby's bath-tub,
descended rheumatically from the vehicle and announced herself as Miss
Grieve. She was too old to call by her Christian name, too sensitive
to call by her surname, so Miss Grieve she remained, as announced, to
the end of the chapter, and our rosy little Jane died before she was
actually born. The man took her curious luggage into the kitchen, and
Salemina escorted her thither, while Francesca and I fell into each
other's arms and laughed hysterically.
"Nobody need tell me that she is Mrs. M'Collop's sister's husband's
niece," she whispered, "though she may possibly be somebody's
grandaunt. Doesn't she remind you of Mrs. Gummidge?"
Salemina returned in a quarter of an hour, and sank dejectedly on the
"Run over to the inn, Francesca," she said, "and order bacon and eggs
at eight-thirty to-morrow morning. Miss Grieve thinks we had better not
breakfast at home until she becomes accustomed to the surroundings."
"Shall we allow her to become accustomed to them?" I questioned.
"She came up from Glasgow to Edinburgh for the day, and went to see
Mrs. M'Collop just as our telegram arrived. She was living with an
'extremely nice family' in Glasgow, and only broke her engagement in
order to try Fifeshire air for the summer; so she will remain with us
as long as she is benefited by the climate."
"Can't we pay her for a month and send her away?"
"How can we? She is Mrs. M'Collop's sister's husband's niece, and we
intend returning to Mrs. M'Collop. She has a nice ladylike appearance,
but when she takes her bonnet off she looks seventy years old."
"She ought always to keep it off, then," returned Francesca, "for she
looked eighty with it on. We shall have to soothe her last moments, of
course, and pay her funeral expenses. Did you offer her a cup of tea
and show her the box-bed?"
"Yes; she said she was muckle obleeged to me, but the coals were so
poor and hard she couldna batter them up to start a fire the nicht,
and she would try the box-bed to see if she could sleep in it. I am
glad to remember that it was you who telegraphed for her, Penelope."
"Let there be no recriminations," I responded; "let us stand shoulder
to shoulder in this calamity,—isn't there a story called 'Calamity
Jane?' We might live at the inn, and give her the cottage for a summer
residence, but I utterly refuse to be parted from our cat and the 1602
After I have once described Miss Grieve I shall not suffer her to
begloom these pages as she did our young lives. She is so exactly like
her kind in America that she cannot be looked upon as a national type.
Everywhere we go we see fresh, fair-haired, sonsie lassies; why should
we have been visited with this affliction, we who have no courage in a
foreign land to rid ourselves of it?
She appears at the door of the kitchen with some complaint, and stands
there talking to herself in a depressing murmur until she arrives at
the next grievance. Whenever we hear this, which is whenever we are in
the sitting-room, we amuse ourselves by chanting lines of melancholy
poetry which correspond to the sentiments she seems to be uttering. It
is the only way the infliction can be endured, for the sitting-room is
so small we cannot keep the door closed habitually. The effect of this
plan is something like the following:—
She. "The range has sic a bad draft I canna mak' the fire draw!"
We. "But I'm ower auld for the tears to start,
An' sae the sighs maun blaw!"
She. "The clock i' the hall doesna strike. I have to get oot
o' my bed to see the time."
We. "The broken hairt it kens
Nae second spring again!"
She. "There are not eneuch jugs i' the hoose."
We. "I'm downright dizzy wi' the thought,—
In troth I'm like to greet!"
She. "The sink drain is na recht."
We. "An' it's oh! to win awa', awa',
An' it's oh! to win awa'!"
She. "I canna thole a box-bed!"
We. "Ay, waukin' O
Waukin' O an' weary.
Sleep I can get nane,
Ay waukin' O!"
She. "It's fair insultin' to rent a hoose wi' so few convenience."
We. "An' I'm ower auld to fish ony mair,
An' I hinna the chance to droon."
She. "The work is fair sickenin' i' this hoose,
an' a' for ane puir body to do by her lane."
We. "How can ye chant, ye little birds,
An' I sae weary, fu' o' care?"
She. "Ah, but that was a fine family I lived wi' in Glasgy;
an' it's a wearifu' day's work I've had the day."
We. "Oh, why was I spared to cry, wae's me!"
She. "Why dinna they leave floo'rs i' the garden, makin' sic a
mess i' the hoose wi' 'em? It's not for the knowin' what they
will be after next!"
We. "Oh, waly waly up the bank,
And waly waly doon the brae!"
Miss Grieve's plaints never grow less, though we are sometimes at a
loss for appropriate quotations to match them. The poetic
interpolations are introduced merely to show the general spirit of her
conversation. They take the place of her sighs, which are by their
nature unprintable. Many times each day she is wont to sink into one
low chair, and, extending her feet in another, close her eyes and
murmur undistinguishable plaints which come to us in a kind of
rhythmic way. She has such a shaking right hand we have been obliged
to give up coffee and have tea, as the former beverage became too
unsettled on its journey from the kitchen to the breakfast-table. She
says she kens she is a guid cook, though salf-praise is sma'
racommendation (sma' as it is she will get no other!); but we have
little opportunity to test her skill, as she prepares only our
breakfasts of eggs and porridge. Visions of home-made goodies had
danced before our eyes, but as the hall clock doesna strike she is
unable to rise at any exact hour, and as the range draft is bad, and
the coals too hard to batter up wi' a hatchet, we naturally have to
content ourselves with the baker's loaf.
And this is a truthful portrait of "Calamity Jane," our one Pettybaw
"Gae farer up the burn to Habbie's Howe,
Where a' the sweets o' spring an' simmer grow:
Between twa birks, out o'er a little lin,
The water fa's an' mak's a singan din;
A pool breast-deep, beneath as clear as glass,
Kisses, wi' easy whirls, the bord'ring grass."
The Gentle Shepherd.
That is what Peggy says to Jenny in Allan Ramsay's poem, and if you
substitute "Crummylowe" for "Habbie's Howe" in the first line, you
will have a lovely picture of the Farm-Steadin'.
You come to it by turning the corner from the inn, first passing the
cottage where the lady wishes to rent two rooms for fifteen shillings
a week, but will not give much attendance, as she is slightly
asthmatic, and the house is always as clean as it is this minute, and
the view from the window looking out on Pettybaw Bay canna be
surpassed at ony money. Then comes the little house where Will'am
Beattie's sister Mary died in May, and there wasna a bonnier woman in
Fife. Next is the cottage with the pansy garden, where the lady in the
widow's cap takes five o'clock tea in the bay window, and a snug
little supper at eight. She has for the first scones and marmalade,
and her tea is in a small black teapot under a red cozy with a white
muslin cover drawn over it. At eight she has more tea, and generally a
kippered herring, or a bit of cold mutton left from the noon dinner.
We note the changes in her bill of fare as we pass hastily by and feel
admitted quite into the family secrets. Beyond this bay window, which
is so redolent of simple peace and comfort that we long to go in and
sit down, is the cottage with the double white tulips, the cottage
with the collie on the front steps, the doctor's house with the yellow
laburnum tree, and then the house where the Disagreeable Woman lives.
She has a lovely baby, which, to begin with, is somewhat remarkable,
as disagreeable women rarely have babies; or else, having had them,
rapidly lose their disagreeableness,—so rapidly that one has not time
to notice it. The Disagreeable Woman's house is at the end of the row,
and across the road is a wicket gate leading—Where did it lead?—that
was the very point. Along the left, as you lean wistfully over the
gate, there runs a stone wall topped by a green hedge; and on the
right, first furrows of pale fawn, then below, furrows of deeper
brown, and mulberry, and red ploughed earth stretching down to waving
fields of green, and thence to the sea, gray, misty, opalescent,
melting into the pearly white clouds, so that one cannot tell where
sea ends and sky begins.
There is a path between the green hedge and the ploughed field, and it
leads seductively to the farm-steadin'; or we felt that it might thus
lead, if we dared unlatch the wicket gate. Seeing no sign "Private
Way," "Trespassers Not Allowed," or other printed defiance to the
stranger, we were considering the opening of the gate, when we
observed two female figures coming toward us along the path, and
paused until they should come through. It was the Disagreeable Woman
(though we knew it not) and an elderly friend. We accosted the friend,
feeling instinctively that she was framed of softer stuff, and asked
her if the path were a private one. It was a question that had never
met her ear before, and she was too dull or too discreet to deal with
it on the instant. To our amazement, she did not even manage to
falter, "I couldna say."
"Is the path private?" I repeated.
"It is certainly the idea to keep it a little private," said the
Disagreeable Woman, coming into the conversation without being
addressed. "Where do you wish to go?"
"Nowhere in particular. The walk looks so inviting we should like to
see the end."
"It goes only to the Farm, and you can reach that by the highroad; it
is only a half-mile farther. Do you wish to call at the Farm?"
"No, oh no; the path is so very pretty that"—
"Yes, I see; well, I should call it rather private." And with this she
departed; leaving us to stand on the outskirts of paradise, while she
went into her house and stared at us from the window as she played
with the lovely undeserved baby. But that was not the end of the
We found ourselves there next day, Francesca and I,—Salemina was too
proud,—drawn by an insatiable longing to view the beloved and
forbidden scene. We did not dare to glance at the Disagreeable Woman's
windows, lest our courage should ooze away, so we opened the gate and
stole through into the rather private path.
It was a most lovely path; even if it had not been in a sense
prohibited, it would still have been lovely, simply on its own merits.
There were little gaps in the hedge and the wall, through which we
peered into a daisy-starred pasture, where a white bossy and a herd of
flaxen-haired cows fed on the sweet green grass. The mellow ploughed
earth on the right hand stretched down to the shore-line, and a
plough-boy walked up and down the long, straight furrows whistling "My
Nannie's awa'." Pettybaw is so far removed from the music-halls that
their cheap songs and strident echoes never reach its Sylvan shades,
and the herd-laddies and plough-boys still sweeten their labors with
the old classic melodies.
We walked on and on, determined to come every day; and we settled that
if we were accosted by any one, or if our innocent business were
demanded, Francesca should ask, "Does Mrs. Macstronachlacher live
here, and has she any new-laid eggs?"
Soon the gates of the Farm appeared in sight. There was a cluster of
buildings, with doves huddling and cooing on the red-tiled
roofs,—dairy-houses, workmen's cottages, comely rows of haystacks
(towering yellow things with peaked tops); a little pond with ducks
and geese chattering together as they paddled about, and for
additional music the trickling of two tiny burns making "a singan din"
as they wimpled through the bushes. A speckle-breasted thrush perched
on a corner of the gray wall and poured his heart out. Overhead there
was a chorus of rooks in the tall trees, but there was no sound of
human voice save that of the plough-laddie whistling "My Nannie's
We turned our backs on this darling solitude, and retraced our steps
lingeringly. As we neared the wicket gate again we stood upon a bit of
jutting rock and peered over the wall, sniffing the hawthorn buds with
ecstasy. The white bossy drew closer, treading softly on its daisy
carpet; the wondering cows looked up at us as they peacefully chewed
their cuds; a man in corduroy breeches came from a corner of the
pasture, and with a sharp, narrow hoe rooted out a thistle or two that
had found their way into this sweet feeding-ground. Suddenly we heard
the swish of a dress behind us, and turned, conscience-stricken,
though we had in nothing sinned.
"Does Mrs. Macstronachlacher live here?" stammered Francesca like a
It was an idiotic time and place for the question. We had certainly
arranged that she should ask it, but something must be left to the
judgment in such cases. Francesca was hanging over a stone wall
regarding a herd of cows in a pasture, and there was no possible
shelter for a Mrs. Macstronachlacher within a quarter of a mile. What
made the remark more unfortunate was the fact that, though she had on
a different dress and bonnet, the person interrogated was the
Disagreeable Woman; but Francesca is particularly slow in discerning
resemblances. She would have gone on mechanically asking for new-laid
eggs, had I not caught her eye and held it sternly. The foe looked at
us suspiciously for a moment (Francesca's hats are not easily
forgotten), and then vanished up the path, to tell the people at
Crummylowe, I suppose, that their grounds were infested by marauding
strangers whose curiosity was manifestly the outgrowth of a republican
As she disappeared in one direction, we walked slowly in the other;
and just as we reached the corner of the pasture where two stone walls
meet, and where a group of oaks gives grateful shade, we heard
"No, no!" cried somebody: "it must be still higher at this end, for
the tower,—this is where the king will sit. Help me with this heavy
one, Rafe. Dandie, mind your foot. Why don't you be making the flag
for the ship?—and do keep the Wrig away from us till we finish
"O lang, lang may the ladyes sit
Wi' their face into their hand,
Before they see Sir Patrick Spens
Come sailing to the strand."
Sir Patrick Spens.
We forced our toes into the crevices of the wall and peeped stealthily
over the top. Two boys of eight or ten years, with two younger
children, were busily engaged in building a castle. A great pile of
stones had been hauled to the spot, evidently for the purpose of
mending the wall, and these were serving as rich material for sport.
The oldest of the company, a bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked boy in an Eton
jacket and broad white collar, was obviously commander-in-chief; and
the next in size, whom he called Rafe, was a laddie of eight, in
kilts. These two looked as if they might be scions of the aristocracy,
while Dandie and the Wrig were fat little yokels of another sort. The
miniature castle must have been the work of several mornings, and was
worthy of the respectful but silent admiration with which we gazed
upon it; but as the last stone was placed in the tower, the master
builder looked up and spied our interested eyes peering at him over
the wall. We were properly abashed and ducked our heads discreetly at
once, but were reassured by hearing him run rapidly toward us,
calling, "Stop, if you please! Have you anything on just now,—are you
We answered that we were quite at leisure.
"Then would you mind coming in to help us to play 'Sir Patrick Spens'?
There aren't enough of us to do it nicely."
This confidence was touching, and luckily it was not in the least
misplaced. Playing "Sir Patrick Spens" was exactly in our line, little
as he suspected it.
"Come and help?" I said. "Simply delighted! Do come, Fanny dear. How
can we get over the wall?"
"I'll show you the good broken place!" cried Sir Apple-Cheek; and
following his directions we scrambled through, while Rafe took off his
Highland bonnet ceremoniously and handed us down to earth.
"Hurrah! now it will be something like fun! Do you know 'Sir Patrick
"Every word of it. Don't you want us to pass an examination before you
allow us in the game?"
"No," he answered gravely; "it's a great help, of course, to know it,
but it isn't necessary. I keep the words in my pocket to prompt
Dandie, and the Wrig can only say two lines, she's so little." (Here
he produced some tattered leaves torn from a book of ballads.) "We've
done it many a time, but this is a new Dunfermline Castle, and we are
trying the play in a different way. Rafe is the king, and Dandie is
the 'eldern knight,'—you remember him?"
"Certainly; he sat at the king's right knee."
"Yes, yes, that's the one! Then Rafe is Sir Patrick part of the time,
and I the other part, because everybody likes to be him; but there's
nobody left for the 'lords o' Noroway' or the sailors, and the Wrig is
the only maiden to sit on the shore, and she always forgets to comb
her hair and weep at the right time."
The forgetful and placid Wrig (I afterwards learned that this is a
Scots word for the youngest bird in the nest) was seated on the grass,
with her fat hands full of pink thyme and white wild woodruff. The sun
shone on her curly flaxen head. She wore a dark blue cotton frock with
white dots, and a short-sleeved pinafore; and though she was utterly
useless from a dramatic point of view, she was the sweetest little
Scotch dumpling I ever looked upon. She had been tried and found
wanting in most of the principal parts of the ballad, but when left
out of the performance altogether she was wont to scream so lustily
that all Crummylowe rushed to her assistance.
"Now let us practice a bit to see if we know what we are going to do,"
said Sir Apple-Cheek. "Rafe, you can be Sir Patrick this time. The
reason why we all like to be Sir Patrick," he explained, turning to
me, "is that the lords o' Noroway say to him,—
'Ye Scottishmen spend a' our King's gowd,
And a' our Queenis fee;'
and then he answers,—
'Ye lee! ye lee! ye leers loud,
Fu' loudly do ye lee!'
and a lot of splendid things like that. Well, I'll be the king," and
accordingly he began:—
"The King sits in Dunfermline tower,
Drinking the bluid-red wine.
'O whaur will I get a skeely skipper
To sail this new ship o' mine?'"
A dead silence ensued, whereupon the king said testily, "Now, Dandie,
you never remember you're the eldern knight; go on!"
Thus reminded, Dandie recited:—
"O up and spake an eldern knight
Sat at the King's right knee,
'Sir Patrick Spens is the best sailor
That ever sailed the sea.'"
"Now I'll write my letter," said the king, who was endeavoring to make
himself comfortable in his somewhat contracted tower.
"The King has written a braid letter
And sealed it with his hand;
And sent it to Sir Patrick Spens,
Was walking on the strand.
Read the letter out loud, Rafe, and then you'll remember what to do."
"'To Noroway! to Noroway!
To Noroway on the faem!
The King's daughter of Noroway,
'T is thou maun bring her hame,'"
"Now do the next part!"
"I can't; I'm going to chuck up that next part. I wish you'd do Sir
Pat until it comes to 'Ye lee! ye lee!'"
"No, that won't do, Rafe. We have to mix up everybody else, but it's
too bad to spoil Sir Patrick."
"Well, I'll give him to you, then, and be the king. I don't mind so
much now that we've got such a good tower; and why can't I stop up
there even after the ship sets sail, and look out over the sea with a
telescope? That's the way Elizabeth did the time she was king."
"You can stay till you have to come down and be a dead Scots lord. I'm
not going to lie there as I did last time, with nobody but the Wrig
for a Scots lord, and her forgetting to be dead!"
Sir Apple-Cheek then essayed the hard part "chucked up" by Rafe. It
was rather difficult, I confess, as the first four lines were in
pantomime and required great versatility:—
"The first word that Sir Patrick read,
Fu' loud, loud laughéd he;
The neist word that Sir Patrick read,
The tear blinded his e'e."
These conflicting emotions successfully simulated, Sir Patrick
"'O wha is he has dune this deed,
And tauld the King o' me,—
To send us out, at this time o' the year,
To sail upon the sea?'"
Then the king stood up in the unstable tower and shouted his own
"'Be it wind, be it weet, be it hail, be it sleet,
Our ship maun sail the faem;
The King's daughter o' Noroway,
'Tis we maun fetch her hame.'"
"Can't we rig the ship a little better?" demanded our stage manager at
this juncture. "It isn't half as good as the tower."
Ten minutes' hard work, in which we assisted, produced something a
trifle more nautical and seaworthy than the first ship. The ground
with a few boards spread upon it was the deck. Tarpaulin sheets were
arranged on sticks to represent sails, and we located the vessel so
cleverly that two slender trees shot out of the middle of it and
served as the tall topmasts.
"Now let us make believe that we've hoisted our sails on 'Mononday
morn' and been in Noroway 'weeks but only twae,'" said our leading
man; "and your time has come now," turning to us.
We felt indeed that it had; but plucking up sufficient courage for the
lords o' Noroway, we cried accusingly,—
"'Ye Scottishmen spend a' our King's gowd,
And a' our Queenis fee!'"
Oh, but Sir Apple-Cheek was glorious as he roared virtuously:—
"'Ye lee! ye lee! ye leers loud,
Fu' loudly do ye lee!
'For I brocht as much white monie
As gane my men and me,
An' I brocht a half-fou o' gude red gowd
Out ower the sea wi' me.
'But betide me weil, betide me wae,
This day I'se leave the shore;
And never spend my King's monie
'Mong Noroway dogs no more.
'Make ready, make ready, my merry men a',
Our gude ship sails the morn.'
Now you be the sailors, please!"
Glad to be anything but Noroway dogs, we recited obediently:—
"'Now, ever alake, my master dear,
I fear a deadly storm!
And if ye gang to sea, master,
I fear we'll come to harm.'"
We added much to the effect of this stanza by flinging ourselves on
the turf and embracing Sir Patrick's knees, with which touch of
melodrama he was enchanted.
Then came a storm so terrible that I can hardly trust myself to
describe its fury. The entire corps dramatique personated the
elements, and tore the gallant ship in twain, while Sir Patrick
shouted in the teeth of the gale,—
"'O whaur will I get a gude sailor
To tak' my helm in hand,
Till I get up to the tall topmast
To see if I can spy land?'"
I knew the words a trifle better than Francesca, and thus succeeded in
forestalling her as the fortunate hero:—
"'O here am I, a sailor gude,
To tak' the helm in hand,
Till you go up to the tall topmast;
But I fear ye'll ne'er spy land.'"
And the heroic sailor was right, for
"He hadna gone a step, a step,
A step but only ane,
When a bout flew out o' our goodly ship,
And the saut sea it came in."
Then we fetched a web o' the silken claith, and anither o' the twine,
as our captain bade us; we wapped them into our ship's side and letna
the sea come in; but in vain, in vain. Laith were the gude Scots lords
to weet their cork-heeled shune, but they did, and wat their hats
abune; for the ship sank in spite of their despairing efforts,
"And mony was the gude lord's son
That never mair cam' hame."
Francesca and I were now obliged to creep from under the tarpaulins
and personate the disheveled ladies on the strand.
"Will your hair come down?" asked the manager gravely.
"It will and shall," we rejoined; and it did.
"The ladies wrang their fingers white,
The maidens tore their hair."
"Do tear your hair, Jessie! It's the only thing you have to do, and
you never do it on time!"
The Wrig made ready to howl with offended pride, but we soothed her,
and she tore her yellow curls with her chubby hands.
"And lang, lang may the maidens sit
Wi' their gowd kaims i' their hair,
A waitin' for their ain dear luves,
For them they'll see nae mair."
I did a bit of sobbing here that would have been a credit to Sarah
"Splendid! Grand!" cried Sir Patrick, as he stretched himself fifty
fathoms below the imaginary surface, and gave explicit ante-mortem
directions to the other Scots lords to spread themselves out in like
"Half ower, half ower to Aberdour,
'T is fifty fathoms deep,
And there lies gude Sir Patrick Spens,
Wi' the Scots lords at his feet."
"Oh, it is grand!" he repeated jubilantly. "If I could only be the
king and see it all from Dunfermline tower! Could you be Sir Patrick
once, do you think, now that I have shown you how?" he asked
"Indeed I could!" she replied, glowing with excitement (and small
wonder) at being chosen for the principal rôle.
"The only trouble is that you do look awfully like a girl in that
Francesca appeared rather ashamed at her natural disqualifications for
the part of Sir Patrick. "If I had only worn my long black cloak!" she
"Oh, I have an idea!" cried the boy. "Hand her the minister's gown
from the hedge, Rafe. You see, Mistress Ogilvie of Crummylowe lent us
this old gown for a sail; she's doing something to a new one, and this
was her pattern."
Francesca slipped it on over her white serge, and the Pettybaw parson
should have seen her with the long veil of her dark locks floating
over his ministerial garment.
"It seems a pity to put up your hair," said the stage manager
critically, "because you look so jolly and wild with it down, but I
suppose you must; and will you have Rafe's bonnet?"
Yes, she would have Rafe's bonnet; and when she perched it on the side
of her head and paced the deck restlessly, while the black gown
floated behind in the breeze, we all cheered with enthusiasm, and,
having rebuilt the ship, began the play again from the moment of the
gale. The wreck was more horribly realistic than ever, this time,
because of our rehearsal; and when I crawled from under the masts and
sails to seat myself on the beach with the Wrig, I had scarcely
strength enough to remove the cooky from her hand and set her
a-combing her curly locks.
When our new Sir Patrick stretched herself on the ocean bed, she fell
with a despairing wail; her gown spread like a pall over the earth,
the Highland bonnet came off, and her hair floated over a haphazard
pillow of Jessie's wild flowers.
"Oh, it is fine, that part; but from here is where it always goes
wrong!" cried the king from the castle tower. "It's too bad to take
the maidens away from the strand where they look so bonnie, and Rafe
is splendid as the gude sailor, but Dandie looks so silly as one
little dead Scots lord; if we only had one more person, young or old,
if he was ever so stupid!"
"Would I do?"
This unexpected offer came from behind one of the trees that served as
topmasts, and at the same moment there issued from that delightfully
secluded retreat Ronald Macdonald, in knickerbockers and a golf cap.
Suddenly as this apparition came, there was no lack of welcome on the
children's part. They shouted his name in glee, embraced his legs, and
pulled him about like affectionate young bears. Confusion reigned for
a moment, while Sir Patrick rose from her sea grave all in a mist of
floating hair, from which hung impromptu garlands of pink thyme and
"Allow me to do the honors, please, Jamie," said Mr. Macdonald, when
he could escape from the children's clutches. "Have you been properly
presented? I suppose not. Ladies, the young Master of Rowardennan.
Jamie, Miss Hamilton and Miss Monroe from the United States of
America." Sir Apple-Cheek bowed respectfully. "Let me present the
Honorable Ralph Ardmore, also from the castle, together with Dandie
Dinmont and the Wrig from Crummylowe. Sir Patrick, it is indeed a
pleasure to see you again. Must you take off my gown? I had thought it
was past use, but it never looked so well before."
The counterfeit presentment of Sir Patrick vanished as the long
drapery flew to the hedge whence it came, and there remained only an
offended young goddess, who swung her dark mane tempestuously to one
side, plaited it in a thick braid, tossed it back again over her white
serge shoulder, and crowded on her sailor hat with unnecessary
"Yes, my gown; whose else could you more appropriately borrow, pray?
Mistress Ogilvie of Crummylowe presses, sponges, and darns my bachelor
wardrobe, but I confess I never suspected that she rented it out for
theatrical purposes. I have been calling upon you in Pettybaw; Lady
Ardmore was there at the same time. Finding but one of the three
American Graces at home, I stayed a few moments only, and am now
returning to Inchcaldy by way of Crummylowe." Here he plucked the gown
off the hedge and folded it carefully.
"Can't we keep it for a sail, Mr. Macdonald?" pleaded Jamie. "Mistress
Ogilvie said it wasn't any more good."
"When Mistress Ogilvie made that remark," replied the Reverend Ronald,
"she had no idea that it would ever touch the shoulders of the
martyred Sir Patrick Spens. Now I happen to love"—
Francesca hung out a scarlet flag in each cheek, and I was about to
say, "Don't mind me!" when he continued:—
"As I was saying, I happen to love 'Sir Patrick Spens,'—it is my
favorite ballad; so, with your permission, I will take the gown, and
you can find something less valuable for a sail!"
I could never understand just why Francesca was so annoyed at being
discovered in our innocent game. Of course she was prone on Mother
Earth and her tresses were much disheveled, but she looked lovely,
after all, in comparison with me, the humble "supe" and
lightning-change artist; yet I kept my temper,—at least I kept it
until the Reverend Ronald observed, after escorting us through the gap
in the wall, "By the way, Miss Hamilton, there was a gentleman from
Paris at your cottage, and he is walking down the road to meet you."
Walking down the road to meet me, forsooth! Have ministers no brains?
The Reverend Mr. Macdonald had wasted five good minutes with his
observations, introductions, explanations, felicitations, and
adorations, and meantime, regardez-moi, messieurs et mesdames, s'il
vous plait! I have been a Noroway dog, a ship-builder, and a gallant
sailorman; I have been a gurly sea and a towering gale; I have crawled
from beneath broken anchors, topsails, and mizzenmasts to a strand
where I have been a suffering lady plying a gowd kaim. My skirt of
blue drill has been twisted about my person until it trails in front;
my collar is wilted, my cravat untied; I have lost a stud and a
sleeve-link; my hair is in a tangled mass, my face is scarlet and
dusty—and a gentleman from Paris is walking down the road to meet
"There were three ladies in a hall—
With a heigh-ho! and a lily gay,
There came a lord among them all—
As the primrose spreads so sweetly."
The Cruel Brother.
Willie Beresford has come to Pettybaw, and that Arcadian village has
received the last touch that makes it Paradise.
We are exploring the neighborhood together, and whichever path we take
we think it lovelier than the one before. This morning we drove to
Pettybaw Sands, Francesca and Salemina following by the footpath and
meeting us on the shore. It is all so enchantingly fresh and green on
one of these rare bright days: the trig lass bleaching her "claes" on
the grass by the burn near the little stone bridge; the wild
partridges whirring about in pairs; the farm-boy seated on the clean
straw in the bottom of his cart, and cracking his whip in mere wanton
joy at the sunshine; the pretty cottages, and the gardens with rows of
currant and gooseberry bushes hanging thick with fruit that suggests
jam and tart in every delicious globule. It is a love-colored
landscape, we know it full well; and nothing in the fair world about
us is half as beautiful as what we see in each other's eyes. Ah, the
memories of these first golden mornings together after our long
separation. I shall sprinkle them with lavender and lay them away in
that dim chamber of the heart where we keep precious things. We all
know the chamber. It is fragrant with other hidden treasures, for all
of them are sweet, though some are sad. This is the reason why we put
a finger on the lip and say "Hush," if we open the door and allow any
one to peep in.
We tied the pony by the wayside and alighted: Willie to gather some
sprays of the pink veronica and blue speedwell, I to sit on an old
bench and watch him in happy idleness. The "white-blossomed slaes"
sweetened the air, and the distant hills were gay with golden whin and
broom, or flushed with the purply-red of the bell heather.
We heard the note of the cushats from a neighboring bush. They used to
build their nests on the ground, so the story goes, but the cows
trampled them. Now they are wiser and build higher, and their cry is
supposed to be a derisive one, directed to their ancient enemies,
"Come noo, Coo, Coo! Come noo!"
A hedgehog crept stealthily along the ground, and at a sudden sound
curled himself up like a wee brown bear. There were women working in
the fields near by,—a strange sight to our eyes at first, but nothing
unusual here, where many of them are employed on the farms all the
year round, sowing, weeding, planting, even ploughing in the spring,
and in winter working at threshing or in the granary.
An old man, leaning on his staff, came tottering feebly along, and
sank down on the bench beside me. He was dirty, ragged, unkempt, and
feeble, but quite sober, and pathetically anxious for human sympathy.
"I'm achty-sax year auld," he maundered, apropos of nothing,
"achty-sax year auld. I've seen five lairds o' Pettybaw, sax placed
meenisters, an' seeven doctors. I was a mason an' a stoot mon i' thae
days, but it's a meeserable life now. Wife deid, bairns deid! I sit by
my lane, an' smoke my pipe, wi' naebody to gi'e me a sup o' water.
Achty-sax is ower auld for a mon,—ower auld."
These are the sharp contrasts of life one cannot bear to face when one
is young and happy. Willie gave him a half-crown and some tobacco for
his pipe, and when the pony trotted off briskly, and we left the
shrunken figure alone on his bench as he was lonely in his life, we
kissed each other and pledged ourselves to look after him as long as
we remain in Pettybaw; for what is love worth if it does not kindle
the flames of spirit, open the gates of feeling, and widen the heart
to shelter all the little loves and great loves that crave
As we neared the tiny fishing-village on the sands we met a fishwife
brave in her short skirt and eight petticoats, the basket with its two
hundred pound weight on her head, and the auld wife herself knitting
placidly as she walked along. They look superbly strong, these women;
but, to be sure, the "weak anes dee," as one of them told me.
There was an air of bustle about the little quay,—
"That joyfu' din when the boats come in,
When the boats come in sae early;
When the lift is blue an' the herring-nets fu',
And the sun glints in a' things rarely."
The silvery shoals of fish no longer come so near the shore as they
used in the olden time, for then the kirk bell of St. Monan's had its
tongue tied when the "draive" was off the coast, lest its knell should
frighten away the shining myriads of the deep.
We climbed the shoulder of a great green cliff until we could sit on
the rugged rocks at the top and overlook the sea. The bluff is well
named Nirly Scaur, and a wild, desolate spot it is, with gray
lichen-clad boulders and stunted heather on its summit. In a storm
here, the wind buffets and slashes and scourges one like invisible
whips, and below, the sea churns itself into foaming waves, driving
its "infinite squadrons of wild white horses" eternally toward the
shore. It was calm and blue to-day, and no sound disturbed the quiet
save the incessant shriek and scream of the rock birds, the
kittiwakes, black-headed gulls, and guillemots that live on the sides
of these high, sheer craigs. Here the mother guillemot lays her single
egg, and here, on these narrow shelves of precipitous rock, she holds
it in place with her foot until the warmth of her leg and overhanging
body hatches it into life, when she takes it on her back and flies
down to the sea. Motherhood under difficulties, it would seem, and the
education of the baby guillemot is carried forward on Spartan
principles; for the moment he is out of the shell he is swept downward
hundreds of feet and plunged into a cold ocean, where he can sink or
swim as instinct serves him. In a life so fraught with anxieties,
exposures, and dangers, it is not strange that the guillemots keep up
a ceaseless clang of excited conversation, a very riot and wrangle of
altercation and argument which the circumstances seem to warrant. The
prospective father is obliged to take turns with the prospective
mother and hold the one precious egg on the rock while she goes for a
fly, a swim, a bite, and a sup. As there are five hundred other
parents on the same rock, and the eggs look to be only a couple of
inches apart, the scene must be distracting, and I have no doubt we
should find, if statistics were gathered, that thousands of guillemots
die of nervous prostration.
Willie and I interpreted the clamor somewhat as follows:—
[Between parent birds.]
"I am going to take my foot off. Are you ready to put yours on? Don't
be clumsy! Wait a minute, I'm not ready. I'm not ready, I tell you!
[Between rival mothers.]
"Your egg is so close to mine that I can't breathe"—
"Move your egg, then, I can't move mine!"
"You're sitting so close, I can't stretch my wings."
"Neither can I. You've got as much room as I have."
"I shall tumble if you crowd me."
"Go ahead and tumble, then! There is plenty of room in the sea."
[From one father to another, ceremoniously.]
"Pardon me, but I am afraid I shoved your wife off the rock last
"Don't mention it. I remember I shoved off your wife's mother last
We walked among the tiny whitewashed low-roofed cots, each with its
silver-skinned fishes tacked invitingly against the door-frame to dry,
until we came to my favorite, the corner cottage in the row. It has
beautiful narrow garden strips in front,—solid patches of color in
sweet gillyflower bushes, from which the kindly housewife plucked a
nosegay for us. Her white columbines she calls "granny's mutches;" and
indeed they are not unlike those fresh white caps. Dear Robbie Burns,
ten inches high in plaster, stands in the sunny window in a tiny box
of blossoming plants surrounded by a miniature green picket fence.
Outside, looming white among the gillyflowers, is Sir Walter, and near
him is still another and a larger bust on a cracked pedestal a foot
high, perhaps. We did not recognize the head at once, and asked the
little woman who it was.
"Homer, the graund Greek poet," she answered cheerily; "an' I'm to
have anither o' Burns, as tall as Homer, when my daughter comes hame
If the shade of Homer keeps account of his earthly triumphs, I think
he is proud of his place in that humble Scotchwoman's gillyflower
garden, with his head under the drooping petals of granny's white
What do you think her "mon" is called in the village? John o' Mary!
But he is not alone in his meekness, for there are Jock o' Meg, Willie
o' Janet, Jem o' Tibby, and a dozen others. These primitive
fishing-villages are the places where all the advanced women ought to
congregate, for the wife is head of the house; the accountant, the
treasurer, the auditor, the chancellor of the exchequer; and though
her husband does catch the fish for her to sell, that is accounted
apparently as a detail too trivial for notice.
When we passed Mary's cottage, on our way to the sands next day,
Burns's head had been accidentally broken off by the children, and we
felt as though we had lost a friend; but Scotch thrift, and loyalty to
the dear Ploughman Poet, came to the rescue, and when we returned,
Robbie's plaster head had been glued to his body. He smiled at us
again from between the two scarlet geraniums, and a tendril of ivy had
been gently curled about his neck to hide the cruel wound.
After such long, lovely mornings as this, there is a late luncheon
under the shadow of a rock with Salemina and Francesca, an idle chat,
or the chapter of a book, and presently Lady Ardmore and her daughter
Elizabeth drive down to the sands. They are followed by Robin
Anstruther, Jamie, and Ralph on bicycles, and before long the stalwart
figure of Ronald Macdonald appears in the distance, just in time for a
cup of tea, which we brew in Lady Ardmore's bath-house on the beach.
"To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays,
The lowly train in life's sequester'd scene;
The native feelings strong, the guileless ways."
The Cotter's Saturday Night.
We have lived in Pettybaw a very short time, but I see that we have
already made an impression upon all grades of society. This was not
our intention. We gave Edinburgh as our last place of residence, with
the view of concealing our nationality, until such time as we should
choose to declare it; that is, when public excitement with regard to
our rental of the house in the loaning should have lapsed into a state
of indifference. And yet, modest, economical, and commonplace as has
been the administration of our affairs, our method of life has
evidently been thought unusual, and our conduct not precisely the
conduct of other summer visitors. Even our daily purchases, in manner,
in number, and in character, seem to be looked upon as eccentric, for
whenever we leave a shop, the relatives of the greengrocer, flesher,
draper, whoever it may be, bound downstairs, surround him in an eager
circle, and inquire the latest news.
In an unwise moment we begged the draper's wife to honor us with a
visit and explain the obliquities of the kitchen range and the
tortuosities of the sink-spout to Miss Grieve. While our landlady was
on the premises, I took occasion to invite her up to my own room, with
a view of seeing whether my mattress of pebbles and iron-filings could
be supplemented by another of shavings or straw, or some material less
provocative of bodily injuries. She was most sympathetic, persuasive,
logical, and after the manner of her kind proved to me conclusively
that the trouble lay with the too-saft occupant of the bed, not with
the bed itself, and gave me statistics with regard to the latter which
established its reputation and at the same moment destroyed my own.
She looked in at the various doors casually as she passed up and down
the stairs,—all save that of the dining-room, which Francesca had
prudently locked to conceal the fact that we had covered the family
portraits,—and I noticed at the time that her face wore an expression
of mingled grief and astonishment. It seemed to us afterward that
there was a good deal more passing up and down the loaning than when
we first arrived. At dusk especially, small processions of children
and young people walked by our cottage and gave shy glances at the
Finding Miss Grieve in an unusually amiable mood, I inquired the
probable cause of this phenomenon. She would not go so far as to give
any judicial opinion, but offered a few conjectures.
It might be the tirling-pin; it might be the white satin ribbons on
the curtains; it might be the guitars and banjos; it might be the
bicycle crate; it might be the profusion of plants; it might be the
continual feasting and revelry; it might be the blazing fires in a
Pettybaw summer. She thought a much more likely reason, however, was
because it had become known in the village that we had moved every
stick of furniture in the house out of its accustomed place and taken
the dressing-tables away from the windows,—"thae windys," she called
I discussed this matter fully with Mr. Anstruther later on. He laughed
heartily, but confessed, with an amused relish of his national
conservatism, that to his mind there certainly was something radical,
advanced, and courageous in taking a dressing-table away from its
place, back to the window, and putting it anywhere else in a room. He
would be frank, he said, and acknowledge that it suggested an
undisciplined and lawless habit of thought, a disregard for authority,
a lack of reverence for tradition, and a riotous and unbridled
This view of the matter gave us exquisite enjoyment. "But why?" I
asked laughingly. "The dressing-table is not a sacred object, even to
a woman. Why treat it with such veneration? Where there is but one
good light, and that immediately in front of the window, there is
every excuse for the British custom, but when the light is well
diffused, why not place the table wherever it looks well?"
"Ah, but it doesn't look well anywhere but back to the window," said
Mr. Anstruther artlessly. "It belongs there, you see; it has probably
been there since the time of Malcolm Canmore, unless Margaret was too
pious to look in a mirror. With your national love of change, you
cannot conceive how soothing it is to know that whenever you enter
your gate and glance upward, you will always see the curtains parted,
and between them, like an idol in a shrine, the ugly wooden back of a
little oval or oblong looking-glass. It gives one a sense of
permanence in a world where all is fleeting."
The public interest in our doings seems to be entirely of a friendly
nature, and if our neighbors find a hundredth part of the charm and
novelty in us that we find in them, they are fortunate indeed, and we
cheerfully sacrifice our privacy on the altar of the public good.
A village in Scotland is the only place I can fancy where housekeeping
becomes an enthralling occupation. All drudgery disappears in a rosy
glow of unexpected, unique, and stimulating conditions. I would rather
superintend Miss Grieve and cause the light of amazement to gleam ten
times daily in her humid eye, than lead a cotillion with Willie
Beresford. I would rather do the marketing for our humble breakfasts
and teas, or talk over the day's luncheons and dinners with Mistress
Brodie of the Pettybaw Inn and Posting Establishment, than go to the
Salemina and Francesca do not enjoy it all quite as intensely as I, so
they considerately give me the lion's share. Every morning, after an
exhilarating interview with the Niobe of our kitchen (who thinks me
irresponsible and prays Heaven in her heart I be no worse), I put on
my galoshes, take my umbrella, and trudge up and down the little
streets and lanes on real, and if need be, imaginary errands. The Duke
of Wellington said, "When fair in Scotland, always carry an umbrella;
when it rains, please yourself," and I sometimes agree with
Stevenson's shivering statement, "Life does not seem to me to be an
amusement adapted to this climate." I quoted this to the doctor
yesterday, but he remarked with some surprise that he had not missed a
day's golfing for weeks. The chemist observed as he handed me a cake
of soap, "Won'erful blest in weather, we are, mam," simply because,
the rain being unaccompanied with high wind, one was enabled to hold
up an umbrella without having it turned inside out. When it ceased
dripping for an hour at noon, the greengrocer said cheerily, "Another
grand day, mam!" I assented, though I could not for the life of me
remember when the last one occurred. However, dreary as the weather
may be, one cannot be dull when doing one's morning round of shopping
in Pettybaw or Strathdee. I have only to give you thumb-nail sketches
of our favorite tradespeople to convince you of that fact.
* * * * *
We bought our first groceries of Mrs. Robert Phin, of Strathdee,
simply because she is an inimitable conversationalist. She is
expansive, too, about family matters, and tells us certain of her
"mon's" faults which it would be more seemly to keep in the safe
shelter of her own bosom.
Rab takes a wee drappie too much, it appears, and takes it so often
that he has little time to earn an honest penny for his family. This
is bad enough; but the fact that Mrs. Phin has been twice wed before,
and that in each case she innocently chose a ne'er-do-weel for a mate,
makes her a trifle cynical. She told me that she had laid twa husbands
in the kirkyard near which her little shop stands, and added
cheerfully, as I made some sympathetic response, "An' I hope it'll no
be lang afore I box Rab!"
Salemina objects to the shop because it is so disorderly. Soap and
sugar, tea and bloaters, starch and gingham, lead pencils and
sausages, lie side by side cosily. Boxes of pins are kept on top of
kegs of herrings. Tins of coffee are distributed impartially anywhere
and everywhere, and the bacon sometimes reposes in a glass case with
small wares and findings, out of the reach of Alexander's dogs.
Alexander is one of a brood, or perhaps I should say three broods, of
children which wander among the barrels and boxes and hams and winseys
seeking what they may devour,—a handful of sugar, a prune, or a
We often see the bairns at their luncheon or dinner in a little room
just off the shop, Alexander the Small always sitting or kneeling on a
"creepie," holding his plate down firmly with the left hand and eating
with the right, whether the food be fish, porridge, or broth. In the
Phin family the person who does not hold his plate down runs the risk
of losing it to one of the other children or to the dogs, who, with
eager eye and reminding paw, gather round the hospitable board,
licking their chops hopefully.
I enjoy these scenes very much, but alas, I can no longer witness them
as often as formerly.
This morning Mrs. Phin greeted me with some embarrassment.
"Maybe ye'll no ken me," she said, her usually clear speech a little
blurred. "It's the teeth. I've mislaid 'em somewhere. I paid far too
much siller for 'em to wear 'em ilka day. Sometimes I rest 'em in the
tea-box to keep 'em awa' frae the bairns, but I canna find 'em theer.
I'm thinkin' maybe they'll be in the rice, but I've been ower thrang
This anecdote was too rich to keep to myself, but its unconscious
humor made no impression upon Salemina, who insisted upon the
withdrawal of our patronage. I have tried to persuade her that,
whatever may be said of tea and rice, we run no risk in buying eggs;
but she is relentless.
* * * * *
The kirkyard where Rab's two predecessors have been laid, and where
Rab will lie when Mrs. Phin has "boxed" him, is a sleepy little place
set on a gentle slope of ground, softly shaded by willow and yew
trees. It is inclosed by a stone wall, into which an occasional
ancient tombstone is built, its name and date almost obliterated by
stress of time and weather.
We often walk through its quiet, myrtle-bordered paths on our way to
the other end of the village, where Mrs. Bruce, the flesher, keeps an
unrivaled assortment of beef and mutton. The headstones, many of them
laid flat upon the graves, are interesting to us because of their
quaint inscriptions, in which the occupation of the deceased is often
stated with modest pride and candor. One expects to see the
achievements of the soldier, the sailor, or the statesman carved in
the stone that marks his resting-place, but to our eyes it is strange
enough to read that the subject of eulogy was a plumber, tobacconist,
maker of golf-balls, or a golf champion; in which latter case there is
a spirited etching or bas-relief of the dead hero, with
knickerbockers, cap, and clubs complete.
There, too, lies Thomas Loughead, Hairdresser, a profession far too
little celebrated in song and story. His stone is a simple one and
bears merely the touching tribute:—
He was lovely and pleasant in his life,
the inference being to one who knows a line of Scripture, that in his
death he was not divided.
These kirkyard personalities almost lead one to believe in the
authenticity of the British tradesman's epitaph, wherein his
practical-minded relict stated that the "bereaved widow would continue
to carry on the tripe and trotter business at the old stand."
* * * * *
One day when we were walking through the little village of Strathdee
we turned the corner of a quiet side street and came suddenly upon
something altogether strange and unexpected.
A stone cottage of the every-day sort stood a little back from the
road and bore over its front door a sign announcing that Mrs. Bruce,
Flesher, carried on her business within; and indeed one could look
through the windows and see ruddy joints hanging from beams, and piles
of pink and white steaks and chops lying neatly on the counter,
crying, "Come, eat me!" Nevertheless, one's first glance would be
arrested neither by Mrs. Bruce's black-and-gold sign, nor by the
enticements of her stock in trade, because one's attention is knocked
squarely between the eyes by an astonishing shape that arises from the
patch of lawn in front of the cottage, and completely dominates the
scene. Imagine yourself face to face with the last thing you would
expect to see in a modest front dooryard,—the figurehead of a ship,
heroic in size, gorgeous in color, majestic in pose! A female
personage it appears to be from the drapery, which is the only key the
artist furnishes as to sex, and a queenly female withal, for she wears
a crown at least a foot high, and brandishes a forbidding sceptre. All
this is seen from the front, but the rear view discloses the fact that
the lady terminates in the tail of a fish which wriggles artistically
in mid-air and is of a brittle sort, as it has evidently been thrice
broken and glued together.
Mrs. Bruce did not leave us long in suspense, but obligingly came out,
partly to comment on the low price of mutton and partly to tell the
tale of the mammoth mermaid. By rights, of course, Mrs. Bruce's
husband should have been the gallant captain of a bark which foundered
at sea and sent every man to his grave on the ocean bed. The ship's
figurehead should have been discovered by some miracle, brought to the
sorrowing widow, and set up in the garden in eternal remembrance of
the dear departed. This was the story in my mind, but as a matter of
fact the rude effigy was wrought by Mrs. Bruce's father for a ship to
be called the Sea Queen, but by some mischance, ship and figurehead
never came together, and the old wood-carver left it to his daughter,
in lieu of other property. It has not been wholly unproductive, Mrs.
Bruce fancies, for the casual passers-by, like those who came to scoff
and remained to pray, go into the shop to ask questions about the Sea
Queen and buy chops out of courtesy and gratitude.
* * * * *
On our way to the bakery, which is a daily walk with us, we always
glance at a little cot in a grassy lane just off the fore street. In
one half of this humble dwelling Mrs. Davidson keeps a slender stock
of shop-worn articles,—pins, needles, threads, sealing-wax, pencils,
and sweeties for the children, all disposed attractively upon a single
shelf behind the window.
Across the passage, close to the other window, sits day after day an
old woman of eighty-six summers who has lost her kinship with the
present and gone back to dwell forever in the past. A small table
stands in front of her rush-bottomed chair, the old family Bible rests
on it, and in front of the Bible are always four tiny dolls, with
which the trembling old fingers play from morning till night. They are
cheap, common little puppets, but she robes and disrobes them with
tenderest care. They are put to bed upon the Bible, take their walks
along its time-worn pages, are married on it, buried on it, and the
direst punishment they ever receive is to be removed from its sacred
covers and temporarily hidden beneath the dear old soul's black alpaca
apron. She is quite happy with her treasures on week days; but on
Sundays—alas and alas! the poor old dame sits in her lonely chair
with the furtive tears dropping on her wrinkled cheeks, for it is a
God-fearing household, and it is neither lawful nor seemly to play
with dolls on the Sawbath!
* * * * *
Mrs. Nicolson is the presiding genius of the bakery; she is more—she
is the bakery itself. A Mr. Nicolson there is, and he is known to be
the baker, but he dwells in the regions below the shop and only issues
at rare intervals, beneath the friendly shelter of a huge tin tray
filled with scones and baps.
If you saw Mrs. Nicolson's kitchen with the firelight gleaming on its
bright copper, its polished candlesticks, and its snowy floor, you
would think her an admirable housewife, but you would get no clue to
those shrewd and masterful traits of character which reveal themselves
chiefly behind the counter.
Miss Grieve had purchased of Mrs. Nicolson a quarter section of very
appetizing ginger cake to eat with our afternoon tea, and I stopped in
to buy more. She showed me a large, round loaf for two shillings.
"No," I objected, "I cannot use a whole loaf, thank you. We eat very
little at a time and like it perfectly fresh. I wish a small piece
such as my maid bought the other day."
Then ensued a discourse which I cannot render in the vernacular,
more's the pity, though I understood it all too well for my comfort.
The substance of it was this: that she couldna and wouldna tak' it in
hand to give me a quarter section of cake when the other three
quarters might gae dry in the bakery; that the reason she sold the
small piece on the former occasion was that her daughter, her
son-in-law, and their three children came from Ballahoolish to visit
her, and she gave them a high tea with no expense spared; that at this
function they devoured three fourths of a ginger cake, and just as she
was mournfully regarding the remainder my servant came in and took it
off her hands; that she had kept a bakery for thirty years and her
mother before her, and never had a two-shilling ginger cake been sold
in pieces before, nor was it likely ever to occur again; that if I,
under Providence so to speak, had been the fortunate gainer by the
transaction, why not eat my six-pennyworth in solemn gratitude once
for all, and not expect a like miracle to happen the next week? And
finally, that two-shilling ginger cakes were, in the very nature of
things, designed for large families; and it was the part of wisdom for
small families to fix their affections on something else, for she
couldna and wouldna tak' it in hand to cut a rare and expensive
article for a small customer.
The torrent of logic was over, and I said humbly that I would take the
"Verra weel, mam," she responded more affably, "thank you kindly; no,
I couldna tak' it in hand to sell six pennyworth of that ginger cake
and let one and sixpence worth gae dry in the bakery—A beautiful day,
mam! Won'erful blest in weather ye are! Let me open your umbrella for
* * * * *
David Robb is the weaver of Pettybaw. All day long he sits at his
old-fashioned hand-loom, which, like the fruit of his toil and the
dear old graybeard himself, belongs to a day that is past and gone.
He might have work enough to keep an apprentice busy, but where would
he find a lad sufficiently behind the times to learn a humble trade
now banished to the limbo of superseded, almost forgotten things?
His home is but a poor place, but the rough room in which he works is
big enough to hold a deal of sweet content. It is cheery enough, too,
to attract the Pettybaw weans, who steal in on wet days and sit on the
floor playing with the thrums, or with bits of colored ravelings.
Sometimes when they have proved themselves wise and prudent little
virgins, they are even allowed to touch the hanks of pink and yellow
and blue yarn that lie in rainbow-hued confusion on the long deal
All this time the "heddles" go up and down, up and down, with their
ceaseless clatter, and David throws the shuttle back and forth as he
weaves his old-fashioned winseys.
We have grown to be good friends, David and I, and I have been
permitted the signal honor of painting him at his work.
The loom stands by an eastern window, and the rare Pettybaw sunshine
filters through the branches of a tree, shines upon the dusty
window-panes, and throws a halo round David's head that he well
deserves and little suspects. In my foreground sit Meg and Jean and
Elspeth playing with thrums and wearing the fruit of David's loom in
their gingham frocks. David himself sits on his wooden bench behind
the maze of cords that form the "loom harness."
The snows of seventy winters powder his hair and beard. His spectacles
are often pushed back on his kindly brow, but no glass could wholly
obscure the clear integrity and steadfast purity of his eyes; and as
for his smile I have not the art to paint that! It holds in solution
so many sweet though humble virtues of patience, temperance,
self-denial, honest endeavor, that my brush falters in the attempt to
fix the radiant whole upon the canvas. Fashions come and go, modern
improvements transform the arts and trades, manual skill gives way to
the cunning of the machine, but old David Robb, after more than fifty
years of toil, still sits at his hand-loom and weaves his winseys for
the Pettybaw bairnies.
David has small book-learning, so he tells me; and indeed he had need
to tell me, for I should never have discovered it myself,—one misses
it so little when the larger things are all present!
A certain summer visitor in Pettybaw (a compatriot of ours, by the
way) bought a quantity of David's orange-colored winsey, and finding
that it wore like iron, wished to order more. She used the word
"reproduce" in her telegram, as there was one pattern and one color
she specially liked. Perhaps the context was not illuminating, but at
any rate the word "reproduce" was not in David's vocabulary, and
putting back his spectacles he told me his difficulty in deciphering
the exact meaning of his fine-lady patron. He called at the Free kirk
manse,—the meenister was no at hame; then to the library,—it was
closed; then to the Established manse,—the meenister was awa'. At
last he obtained a glance at the schoolmaster's dictionary, and
turning to "reproduce" found that it meant "naught but mak' ower
again;"—and with an amused smile at the bedevilments of language he
turned once more to his loom and I to my canvas.
Notwithstanding his unfamiliarity with lang-nebbit words, David has
absorbed a deal of wisdom in his quiet life; though so far as I can
see, his only books have been the green tree outside his window, a
glimpse of the distant ocean, and the toil of his hands.
But I sometimes question if as many scholars are not made as marred in
this wise, for,—to the seeing eye,—the waving leaf and the far sea,
the daily task, one's own heart-beats, and one's neighbor's,—these
teach us in good time to interpret Nature's secrets, and man's, and
God's as well.
"The knights they harpit in their bow'r,
The ladyes sew'd and sang;
The mirth that was in that chamber
Through all the place it rang."
Rose the Red and White Lily.
Tea at Rowardennan Castle is an impressive and a delightful
function. It is served by a ministerial-looking butler and a
just-ready-to-be-ordained footman. They both look as if they had
been nourished on the Thirty-Nine Articles, but they know their
business as well as if they had been trained in heathen
lands,—which is saying a good deal, for everybody knows that heathen
servants wait upon one with idolatrous solicitude. However, from the
quality of the cheering beverage itself down to the thickness of the
cream, the thinness of the china, the crispness of the toast, and the
plummyness of the cake, tea at Rowardennan Castle is perfect in every
The scones are of unusual lightness, also. I should think they would
scarcely weigh more than four, perhaps even five, to a pound; but I am
aware that the casual traveler, who eats only at hotels, and never has
the privilege of entering feudal castles, will be slow to believe this
estimate, particularly just after breakfast.
Salemina always describes a Scotch scone as an aspiring but
unsuccessful soda biscuit of the New England sort. Stevenson, in
writing of that dense black substance, inimical to life, called Scotch
bun, says that the patriotism that leads a Scotsman to eat it will
hardly desert him in any emergency. Salemina thinks that the scone
should be bracketed with the bun (in description, of course, never in
the human stomach), and says that, as a matter of fact, "th'
unconquer'd Scot" of old was not only clad in a shirt of mail, but
well fortified within when he went forth to warfare after a meal of
oatmeal and scones. She insists that the spear which would pierce the
shirt of mail would be turned aside and blunted by the ordinary scone
of commerce; but what signifies the opinion of a woman who eats sugar
on her porridge?
Considering the air of liberal hospitality that hangs about the castle
tea-table, I wonder that our friends do not oftener avail themselves
of its privileges and allow us to do so; but on all dark, foggy, or
inclement days, or whenever they tire of the sands, everybody persists
in taking tea at Bide-a-Wee Cottage.
We buy our tea of the Pettybaw grocer, some of our cups are cracked,
the teapot is of earthenware, Miss Grieve disapproves of all social
tea-fuddles and shows it plainly when she brings in the tray, and the
room is so small that some of us overflow into the hall or the garden;
it matters not; there is some fatal charm in our humble hospitality.
At four o'clock one of us is obliged to be, like Sister Anne, on the
housetop; and if company approaches, she must descend and speed to the
plumber's for sixpenny worth extra of cream. In most well-ordered
British households Miss Grieve would be requested to do this speeding,
but both her mind and her body move too slowly for such domestic
crises; and then, too, her temper has to be kept as unruffled as
possible, so that she will cut the bread and butter thin. This she
generally does if she has not been "fair doun-hadden wi' wark;" but
the washing of her own spinster cup and plate, together with the
incident sighs and groans, occupies her till so late an hour that she
is not always dressed for callers.
Willie and I were reading "The Lady of the Lake," the other day, in
the back garden, surrounded by the verdant leafage of our own
kail-yard. It is a pretty spot when the sun shines, a trifle domestic
in its air, perhaps, but restful: Miss Grieve's dish-towels and aprons
drying on the currant bushes, the cat playing with a mutton-bone or a
fishtail on the grass, and the little birds perching on the rims of
our wash-boiler and water-buckets. It can be reached only by way of
the kitchen, which somewhat lessens its value as a pleasure-ground or
a rustic retreat, but Willie and I retire there now and then for a
On this particular occasion Willie was declaiming the exciting verses
where FitzJames and Murdoch are crossing the stream
"That joins Loch Katrine to Achray,"
where the crazed Blanche of Devan first appears:—
"All in the Trosachs' glen was still,
Noontide was sleeping on the hill:
Sudden his guide whoop'd loud and high—
'Murdoch! was that a signal cry?'"
"It was indeed," said Francesca, appearing suddenly at an upper window
overhanging the garden. "Pardon this intrusion, but the castle people
are here," she continued in what is known as a stage whisper,—that
is, one that can be easily heard by a thousand persons,—"the castle
people and the ladies from Pettybaw House; and Mr. Macdonald is coming
down the loaning; but Calamity Jane is making her toilette in the
kitchen, and you cannot take Mr. Beresford through into the
sitting-room at present. She says this hoose has so few conveniences
that it's 'fair sickenin'.'"
"How long will she be?" queried Mr. Beresford anxiously, putting "The
Lady of the Lake" in his pocket, and pacing up and down between the
rows of cabbages.
"She has just begun. Whatever you do, don't unsettle her temper, for
she will have to prepare for eight to-day. I will send Mr. Macdonald
and Miss Macrae to the bakery for gingerbread, to gain time, and
possibly I can think of a way to rescue you. If I can't, are you
tolerably comfortable? Perhaps Miss Grieve won't mind Penelope, and
she can come through the kitchen any time and join us; but naturally
you don't want to be separated, that's the worst of being engaged. Of
course I can lower your tea in a tin bucket, and if it should rain I
can throw out umbrellas. Would you like your golf-cape, Pen?
'Won'erful blest in weather ye are, mam!' The situation is not so bad
as it might be," she added consolingly, "because in case Miss Grieve's
toilette should last longer than usual, your wedding need not be
indefinitely postponed, for Mr. Macdonald can marry you from this
Here she disappeared, and we had scarcely time to take in the full
humor of the affair before Robin Anstruther's laughing eyes appeared
over the top of the high brick wall that protects our garden on three
"Do not shoot," said he. "I am not come to steal the fruit, but to
succor humanity in distress. Miss Monroe insisted that I should borrow
the inn ladder. She thought a rescue would be much more romantic than
waiting for Miss Grieve. Everybody is coming out to witness it, at
least all your guests,—there are no strangers present,—and Miss
Monroe is already collecting sixpence a head for the entertainment, to
be given, she says, to Mr. Macdonald's sustentation fund."
He was now astride of the wall, and speedily lifted the ladder to our
side, where it leaned comfortably against the stout branches of the
draper's peach vine. Willie ran nimbly up the ladder and bestrode the
wall. I followed, first standing, and then decorously sitting down on
the top of it. Mr. Anstruther pulled up the ladder, and replaced it on
the side of liberty; then he descended, then Willie, and I last of
all, amidst the acclamations of the on-lookers, a select company of
six or eight persons.
When Miss Grieve formally entered the sitting-room bearing the
tea-tray, she was buskit braw in black stuff gown, clean apron, and
fresh cap trimmed with purple ribbons, under which her white locks
were neatly dressed.
She deplored the coolness of the tea, but accounted for it to me in an
aside by the sickening quality of Mrs. Sinkler's coals and Mr.
Macbrose's kindling-wood, to say nothing of the insulting draft in the
draper's range. When she left the room, I suppose she was unable to
explain the peals of laughter that rang through our circumscribed
Lady Ardmore insists that the rescue was the most unique episode she
ever witnessed, and says that she never understood America until she
made our acquaintance. I persuaded her that this was fallacious
reasoning; that while she might understand us by knowing America, she
could not possibly reverse this mental operation and be sure of the
result. The ladies of Pettybaw House said that the occurrence was as
Fifish as anything that ever happened in Fife. The kingdom of Fife is
noted, it seems, for its "doocots [dovecotes] and its daft lairds,"
and to be eccentric and Fifish are one and the same thing. Thereupon
Francesca told Mr. Macdonald a story she heard in Edinburgh, to the
effect that when a certain committee or council was quarreling as to
which of certain Fifeshire towns should be the seat of a projected
lunatic asylum, a new resident arose and suggested that the building
of a wall round the kingdom of Fife would solve the difficulty, settle
all disputes, and give sufficient room for the lunatics to exercise
This is the sort of tale that a native can tell with a genial chuckle,
but it comes with poor grace from an American lady sojourning in Fife.
Francesca does not mind this, however, as she is at present avenging
fresh insults to her own beloved country.
"With mimic din of stroke and ward
The broadsword upon target jarr'd."
The Lady of the Lake.
Robin Anstruther was telling stories at the tea-table.
"I got acquainted with an American girl in rather a queer sort of
way," he said, between cups. "It was in London, on the Duke of York's
wedding-day. I'm rather a tall chap, you see, and in the crowd
somebody touched me on the shoulder and a plaintive voice behind me
said, 'You're such a big man, and I am so little, will you please
help me to save my life? My mother was separated from me in the crowd
somewhere as we were trying to reach the Berkeley, and I don't know
what to do.' I was a trifle nonplused, but I did the best I could. She
was a tiny thing, in a marvelous frock and a flowery hat and a silver
girdle and chatelaine. In another minute she spied a second man, an
officer, a full head taller than I am, broad shoulders, splendidly put
up altogether. Bless me! if she didn't turn to him and say, 'Oh,
you're so nice and big, you're even bigger than this other gentleman,
and I need you both in this dreadful crush. If you'll be good enough
to stand on either side of me, I shall be awfully obliged.' We
exchanged amused glances of embarrassment over her blonde head, but
there was no resisting the irresistible. She was a small person, but
she had the soul of a general, and we obeyed orders. We stood guard
over her little ladyship for nearly an hour, and I must say she
entertained us thoroughly, for she was as clever as she was pretty.
Then I got her a seat in one of the windows of my club, while the
other man, armed with a full description, went out to hunt up the
mother; and by Jove! he found her, too. She would have her mother, and
her mother she had. They were awfully jolly people; they came to
luncheon in my chambers at the Albany afterwards, and we grew to be
"I dare say she was an English girl masquerading," I remarked
facetiously. "What made you think her an American?"
"Oh, her general appearance and accent, I suppose."
"Probably she didn't say Barkley," observed Francesca cuttingly; "she
would have been sure to commit that sort of solecism."
"Why, don't you say Barkley in the States?"
"Certainly not; we never call them the States, and with us c-l-e-r-k
spells clerk, and B-e-r-k Berk."
"How very odd!" remarked Mr. Anstruther.
"No odder than your saying Bark, and not half as odd as your calling
it [)A]lbany," I interpolated, to help Francesca.
"Quite so," said Mr. Anstruther; "but how do you say [)A]lbany in
"Penelope and I allways call it Allbany," responded Francesca
nonsensically, "but Salemina, who has been much in England, [)a]lways
calls it [)A]lbany."
This anecdote was the signal for Miss Ardmore to remark (apropos of
her own discrimination and the American accent) that hearing a lady
ask for a certain med'cine in a chemist's shop, she noted the
intonation, and inquired of the chemist, when the fair stranger had
retired, if she were not an American. "And she was!" exclaimed the
Honorable Elizabeth triumphantly. "And what makes it the more curious,
she had been over here twenty years, and of course spoke English quite
In avenging fancied insults, it is certainly more just to heap
punishment on the head of the real offender than upon his neighbor,
and it is a trifle difficult to decide why Francesca should chastise
Mr. Macdonald for the good-humored sins of Mr. Anstruther and Miss
Ardmore; yet she does so, nevertheless.
The history of these chastisements she recounts in the nightly
half-hour which she spends with me when I am endeavoring to compose
myself for sleep. Francesca is fluent at all times, but once seated on
the foot of my bed she becomes eloquent!
"It all began with his saying"—
This is her perennial introduction, and I respond as invariably, "What
"Oh, to-day's argument with Mr. Macdonald. It was a literary quarrel
"'Fools rush in'"—I quoted.
"There is a good deal of nonsense in that old saw," she interrupted;
"at all events, the most foolish fools I have ever known stayed still
and didn't do anything. Rushing shows a certain movement of the mind,
even if it is in the wrong direction. However, Mr. Macdonald is both
opinionated and dogmatic, but his worst enemy could never call him a
"I didn't allude to Mr. Macdonald."
"Don't you suppose I know to whom you alluded, dear? Is not your style
so simple, frank, and direct that a wayfaring girl can read it and not
err therein? No, I am not sitting on your feet, and it is not time to
go to sleep; I wonder you do not tire of making these futile protests.
As a matter of fact, we began this literary discussion yesterday
morning, but were interrupted; and knowing that it was sure to come up
again, I prepared for it with Salemina. She furnished the ammunition,
so to speak, and I fired the guns."
"You always make so much noise with blank cartridges I wonder you ever
bother about real shot," I remarked.
"Penelope, how can you abuse me when I am in trouble? Well, Mr.
Macdonald was prating, as usual, about the antiquity of Scotland and
its æons of stirring history. I am so weary of the venerableness of
this country. How old will it have to be, I wonder, before it gets
used to it? If it's the province of art to conceal art, it ought to be
the province of age to conceal age, and it generally is. 'Everything
doesn't improve with years,' I observed sententiously.
"'For instance?' he inquired.
"Of course you know how that question affected me! How I do dislike an
appetite for specific details! It is simply paralyzing to a good
conversation. Do you remember that silly game in which some one points
a stick at you and says,' Beast, bird, or fish,—beast!' and you
have to name one while he counts ten? If a beast has been requested,
you can think of one fish and two birds, but no beasts. If he says
'Fish,' all the beasts in the universe stalk through your memory,
but not one finny, scaly, swimming thing! Well, that is the effect of
'For instance?' on my faculties. So I stumbled a bit, and succeeded in
recalling, as objects which do not improve with age, mushrooms, women,
and chickens, and he was obliged to agree with me, which nearly killed
him. Then I said that although America is so fresh and blooming that
people persist in calling it young, it is much older than it appears
to the superficial eye. There is no real propriety in dating us as a
nation from the Declaration of Independence in 1776, I said, nor even
from the landing of the Pilgrims in 1620; nor, for that matter, from
Columbus's discovery in 1492. It's my opinion, I asserted, that some
of us had been there thousands of years before, but nobody had had the
sense to discover us. We couldn't discover ourselves,—though if we
could have foreseen how the sere and yellow nations of the earth would
taunt us with youth and inexperience, we should have had to do
"That theory must have been very convincing to the philosophic Scots
mind," I interjected.
"It was; even Mr. Macdonald thought it ingenious. 'And so,' I went on,
'we were alive and awake and beginning to make history when you Scots
were only barelegged savages roaming over the hills and stealing
cattle. It was a very bad habit of yours, that cattle-stealing, and
one which you kept up too long.'
"'No worse a sin than your stealing land from the Indians,' he said.
"'Oh yes,' I answered, 'because it was a smaller one! Yours was a
vice, and ours a sin; or I mean it would have been a sin had we done
it; but in reality we didn't steal land; we just took it, reserving
plenty for the Indians to play about on; and for every hunting-ground
we took away we gave them in exchange a serviceable plough, or a
school, or a nice Indian agent, or something. That was land-grabbing,
if you like, but it is a habit you Britishers have still, while we
gave it up when we reached years of discretion.'"
"This is very illuminating," I interrupted, now thoroughly wide awake,
"but it isn't my idea of a literary discussion."
"I am coming to that," she responded. "It was just at this point that,
goaded into secret fury by my innocent speech about cattle-stealing,
he began to belittle American literature, the poetry especially. Of
course he waxed eloquent about the royal line of poet-kings that had
made his country famous, and said the people who could claim
Shakespeare had reason to be the proudest nation on earth.
'Doubtless,' I said. 'But do you mean to say that Scotland has any
nearer claim upon Shakespeare than we have? I do not now allude to the
fact that in the large sense he is the common property of the
English-speaking world' (Salemina told me to say that), 'but
Shakespeare died in 1616, and the union of Scotland with England
didn't come about till 1707, nearly a century afterwards. You really
haven't anything to do with him! But as for us, we didn't leave
England until 1620, when Shakespeare had been perfectly dead four
years. We took very good care not to come away too soon. Chaucer and
Spenser were dead, too, and we had nothing to stay for!'"
I was obliged to relax here and give vent to a burst of merriment at
"I could see that he had never regarded the matter in that light
before," she went on gayly, encouraged by my laughter, "but he braced
himself for the conflict, and said, 'I wonder that you didn't stay a
little longer while you were about it. Milton and Ben Jonson were
still alive; Bacon's Novum Organum was just coming out; and in thirty
or forty years you could have had L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, and
Paradise Lost; Newton's Principia, too, in 1687. Perhaps these were
all too serious and heavy for your national taste; still, one
sometimes likes to claim things one cannot fully appreciate. And then,
too, if you had once begun to stay, waiting for the great things to
happen and the great books to be written, you would never have gone,
for there would still have been Browning, Tennyson, and Swinburne to
"'If we couldn't stay to see out your great bards, we certainly
couldn't afford to remain and welcome your minor ones,' I answered
frigidly; 'but we wanted to be well out of the way before England
united with Scotland, knowing that if we were uncomfortable as things
were, it would be a good deal worse after the Union; and we had to
come home, anyway, and start our own poets. Emerson, Whittier,
Longfellow, Holmes, and Lowell had to be born.'
"'I suppose they had to be if you had set your mind on it,' he said,
'though personally I could have spared one or two on that roll of
"'Very probably,' I remarked, as thoroughly angry now as he intended I
should be. 'We cannot expect you to appreciate all the American poets;
indeed, you cannot appreciate all of your own, for the same nation
doesn't always furnish the writers and the readers. Take your precious
Browning, for example! There are hundreds of Browning Clubs in
America, and I never heard of a single one in Scotland.'
"'No,' he retorted, 'I dare say; but there is a good deal in belonging
to a people who can understand him without clubs!'"
"Oh, Francesca!" I exclaimed, sitting bolt upright among my pillows.
"How could you give him that chance! How could you! What did you
"I said nothing," she replied mysteriously. "I did something much more
to the point,—I cried!"
"Yes, cried; not rivers and freshets of woe, but small brooks and
streamlets of helpless mortification."
"What did he do then?"
"Why do you say 'do'?"
"Oh, I mean 'say,' of course. Don't trifle; go on. What did he say
"There are some things too dreadful to describe," she answered, and
wrapping her Italian blanket majestically about her she retired to her
own apartment, shooting one enigmatical glance at me as she closed the
That glance puzzled me for some time after she left the room. It was
as expressive and interesting a beam as ever darted from a woman's
eye. The combination of elements involved in it, if an abstract thing
may be conceived as existing in component parts, was something like
One half, mystery.
One eighth, triumph.
One eighth, amusement.
One sixteenth, pride.
One sixteenth, shame.
One sixteenth, desire to confess.
One sixteenth, determination to conceal.
And all these delicate, complex emotions played together in a circle
of arching eyebrow, curving lip, and tremulous chin,—played together,
mingling and melting into one another like fire and snow; bewildering,
mystifying, enchanting the beholder!
If Ronald Macdonald did—I am a woman, but, for one, I can hardly
"'O has he chosen a bonny bride,
An' has he clean forgotten me?'
An' sighing said that gay ladye,
'I would I were in my ain countrie!'"
It rained in torrents; Salemina was darning stockings in the inglenook
at Bide-a-Wee Cottage, and I was reading her a Scotch letter which
Francesca and I had concocted the evening before. I proposed sending
the document to certain chosen spirits in our own country, who were
pleased to be facetious concerning our devotion to Scotland. It
contained, in sooth, little that was new, and still less that was
true, for we were confined to a very small vocabulary which we were
obliged to supplement now and then by a dip into Burns and Allan
Here is the letter:—
East Neuk o' Fife.
TO MY TRUSTY FIERES,—Mony's the time I hae ettled to send ye a
screed, but there was aye something that cam' i' the gait. It wisna
that I couldna be fashed, for aften hae I thocht o' ye and my hairt
has been wi' ye mony's the day. There's no muckle fowk frae Ameriky
hereawa; they're a' jist Fife bodies, and a lass canna get her tongue
roun' their thrapple-taxin' words ava, so it's like I may een drap a'
the sweetness o' my good mither-tongue.
'Tis a dulefu' nicht, and an awful blash is ragin' wi'oot. Fanny's
awa' at the gowff rinnin' aboot wi' a bag o' sticks after a wee bit
ba', and Sally and I are hame by oor lane. Laith will the lassie be to
weet her bonny shoon, but lang ere the play'll be o'er, she'll wat her
hat aboon. A gust o' win' is skirlin' the noo, and as we luik ower the
faem, the haar is risin', weetin' the green swaird wi' misty shoo'rs.
Yestreen was a calm simmer gloamin', sae sweet an' bonnie that while
the sun was sinkin' doon ower Pettybaw Sands, we daundered ower the
muir. As we cam' through the scented birks, we saw a trottin' burnie
wimplin' 'neath the white-blossomed slaes and hirplin' doon the
hillside; an' while a herd-laddie lilted ower the fernie brae, a
cushat crooed leesomely doon i' the dale. We pit aff oor shoon, sae
blithe were we, kilted oor coats a little aboon the knee and paidilt
i' the burn, gettin' gey an' weet the while. Then Sally pu'd the
gowans wat wi' dew an' twined her bree wi' tasseled broom, while I had
a wee crackie wi' Tibby Buchan, the flesher's dochter frae Auld
Reekie. Tibby's nae giglet gawky like the lave, ye ken,—she's a
sonsie maid, as sweet as ony hinny pear, wi' her twa pawky een an' her
cockernony snooded up fu' sleek.
We were unco gleg to win hame when a' this was dune, an' after
steekin' the door, to sit an' taist oor taes at the bit blaze. Mickle
thocht we o' the gentles ayont the sea an' sair grat we for a' frien's
we knew lang syne in oor ain countree.
Late at nicht, Fanny, the bonny gypsy, cam' ben the hoose an' tirled
at the pin of oor bigly bower door, speirin' for baps and bannocks.
"Hoots, lassie!" cried oot Sally, "th' auld carline i' the kitchen is
i' her box-bed an' weel aneuch ye ken is lang syne cuddled doon."
"Oo, ay!" said Fanny, straikin' her curly pow, "then fetch me parritch
an' dinna be lang wi' 'em, for I've lickit a Pettybaw lass at the
gowff, an' I could eat twa guid jints o' beef gin I had 'em!"
"Losh, girl," said I, "gie ower makin' sic a mickle din. Ye ken verra
weel ye'll get nae parritch the nicht. I'll rin an' fetch ye a 'piece'
to stap awee the soun'."
"Blathers an' havers!" cried Fanny, but she blinkit bonnily the while,
an' when the tea was weel maskit, she smoored her wrath an' stappit
her mooth wi' a bit o' oaten cake. We aye keep that i' the hoose, for
th' auld servant-body is gey an' bad at the cookin' an' she's sae dour
an' dowie that to speak but till her we daur hardly mint.
In sic divairsions pass the lang simmer days in braid Scotland, but I
canna write mair the nicht, for 'tis the wee sma' hours ayont the
Like th' auld wife's parrot, "we dinna speak muckle, but we're deevils
to think," an' we're aye thinkin' aboot ye. An' noo I maun leave ye to
mak' what ye can oot o' this, for I jalouse it'll pass ye to untaukle
the whole hypothec.
Fair fa' ye a'! Lang may yer lum reek, an' may prosperity attend oor
Aye your gude frien',
"It may be very fine," remarked Salemina judicially, "though I cannot
understand more than half of it."
"That would also be true of Browning," I replied. "Don't you love to
see great ideas loom through a mist of words?"
"The words are misty enough in this case," she said, "and I do wish
you would not tell the world that I paddle in the burn, or 'twine my
bree wi' tasseled broom.' I'm too old to be made ridiculous."
"Nobody will believe it," said Francesca appearing in the doorway.
"They will know it is only Penelope's havering," and with this
undeserved scoff, she took her mashie and went golfing; not on the
links, on this occasion, but in our microscopic sitting-room. It is
twelve feet square, and holds a tiny piano, desk, centre-table, sofa,
and chairs, but the spot between the fireplace and the table is
Francesca's favorite "putting green." She wishes to become more deadly
in the matter of approaches, and thinks her tee shots weak; so these
two deficiencies she is trying to make good by home practice in
inclement weather. She turns a tumbler on its side on the floor, and
"puts" the ball into it, or at it, as the case may be, from the
opposite side of the room. It is excellent discipline, and as the
tumblers are inexpensive the breakage really does not matter. Whenever
Miss Grieve hears the shivering of glass, she murmurs, not without
reason, "It is not for the knowing what they will be doing next."
"Penelope, has it ever occurred to you that Elizabeth Ardmore is
seriously interested in Mr. Macdonald?"
Salemina propounded this question to me with the same innocence that a
babe would display in placing a match beside a dynamite bomb.
Francesca naturally heard the remark,—although it was addressed to
me,—pricked up her ears, and missed the tumbler by several feet.
It was a simple inquiry, but as I look back upon it from the safe
ground of subsequent knowledge I perceive that it had a certain amount
of influence upon Francesca's history. The suggestion would have
carried no weight with me for two reasons. In the first place,
Salemina is far-sighted. If objects are located at some distance from
her, she sees them clearly; but if they are under her very nose she
overlooks them altogether, unless they are sufficiently fragrant or
audible to address other senses. This physical peculiarity she carries
over into her mental processes. Her impression of the Disruption
movement, for example, would be lively and distinct, but her
perception of a contemporary lovers' quarrel (particularly if it were
fought at her own apron-strings) would be singularly vague. If she
suggested, therefore, that Elizabeth Ardmore was interested in Mr.
Beresford, who is the rightful captive of my bow and spear, I should
be perfectly calm.
My second reason for comfortable indifference is that, frequently in
novels, and always in plays, the heroine is instigated to violent
jealousy by insinuations of this sort, usually conveyed by the villain
of the piece, male or female. I have seen this happen so often in the
modern drama that it has long since ceased to be convincing; but
though Francesca has witnessed scores of plays and read hundreds of
novels, it did not apparently strike her as a theatrical or literary
suggestion that Lady Ardmore's daughter should be in love with Mr.
Macdonald. The effect of the new point of view was most salutary, on
the whole. She had come to think herself the only prominent figure in
the Reverend Ronald's landscape, and anything more impertinent than
her tone with him (unless it is his with her) I certainly never heard.
This criticism, however, relates only to their public performances,
and I have long suspected that their private conversations are of a
kindlier character. When it occurred to her that he might simply be
sharpening his mental sword on her steel, but that his heart had at
last wandered into a more genial climate than she had ever provided
for it, she softened unconsciously; the Scotsman and the American
receded into a truer perspective, and the man and the woman approached
each other with dangerous nearness.
"What shall we do if Francesca and Mr. Macdonald really fall in love
with each other?" asked Salemina, when Francesca had gone into the
hall to try long drives. (There is a good deal of excitement in this,
as Miss Grieve has to cross the passage on her way from the kitchen to
the china-closet, and thus often serves as a reluctant "hazard" or
"Do you mean what should we have done?" I queried.
"Nonsense, don't be captious! It can't be too late yet. They have
known each other only a little over two months; when would you have
had me interfere, pray?"
"It depends upon what you expect to accomplish. If you wish to stop
the marriage, interfere in a fortnight or so; if you wish to prevent
an engagement, speak—well, say to-morrow; if, however, you didn't
wish them to fall in love with each other, you should have kept one of
them away from Lady Baird's dinner."
"I could have waited a trifle longer than that," argued Salemina, "for
you remember how badly they got on at first."
"I remember you thought so," I responded dryly; "but I believe Mr.
Macdonald has been interested in Francesca from the outset, partly
because her beauty and vivacity attracted him, partly because he could
keep her in order only by putting his whole mind upon her. On his
side, he has succeeded in piquing her into thinking of him
continually, though solely, as she fancies, for the purpose of
crossing swords with him. If they ever drop their weapons for an
instant, and allow the din of warfare to subside so that they can
listen to their own heart-beats, they will discover that they love
each other to distraction."
"Ye ken mair than's in the catecheesm," remarked Salemina, yawning a
little as she put away her darning-ball. "It is pathetic to see you
waste your time painting mediocre pictures, when as a lecturer upon
love you could instruct your thousands."
"The thousands would never satisfy me," I retorted, "so long as you
remained uninstructed, for in your single person you would so swell
the sum of human ignorance on that subject that my teaching would be
"Very clever indeed! Well, what will Mr. Monroe say to me when I land
in New York without his daughter, or with his son-in-law?"
"He has never denied Francesca anything in her life; why should he
draw the line at a Scotsman? I am much more concerned about Mr.
"I am not anxious about that," said Salemina loyally. "Francesca would
be the life of an Inchcaldy parish."
"I dare say," I observed, "but she might be the death of the pastor."
"I am ashamed of you, Penelope; or I should be if you meant what you
say. She can make the people love her if she tries; when did she ever
fail at that? But with Mr. Macdonald's talent, to say nothing of his
family connections, he is sure to get a church in Edinburgh in a few
years, if he wishes. Undoubtedly, it would not be a great match in a
money sense. I suppose he has a manse and three or four hundred pounds
"That sum would do nicely for cabs."
"Penelope, you are flippant!"
"I don't mean it, dear; it's only for fun; and it would be so absurd
if we should leave Francesca over here as the presiding genius of an
Inchcaldy parsonage,—I mean a manse!"
"It isn't as if she were penniless," continued Salemina; "she has
fortune enough to assure her own independence, and not enough to
threaten his,—the ideal amount. I hardly think the good Lord's first
intention was to make her a minister's wife, but he knows very well
that Love is a master architect. Francesca is full of beautiful
possibilities if Mr. Macdonald is the man to bring them out, and I am
inclined to think he is."
"He has brought out impishness so far," I objected.
"The impishness is transitory," she returned, "and I am speaking of
permanent qualities. His is the stronger and more serious nature,
Francesca's the sweeter and more flexible. He will be the oak-tree,
and she will be the sunshine playing in the branches."
"Salemina, dear," I said penitently, kissing her gray hair, "I
apologize: you are not absolutely ignorant about Love, after all, when
you call him the master architect; and that is very lovely and very
true about the oak-tree and the sunshine."
"'Love, I maun gang to Edinbrugh,
Love, I maun gang an' leave thee!'
She sighed right sair, an' said nae mair
But 'O gin I were wi' ye!'"
Jean Dalziel came to visit us a week ago, and has put new life into
our little circle. I suppose it was playing "Sir Patrick Spens" that
set us thinking about it, for one warm, idle day when we were all in
the Glen we began a series of ballad-revels, in which each of us
assumed a favorite character. The choice induced so much argument and
disagreement that Mr. Beresford was at last appointed head of the
clan; and having announced himself formally as the Mackintosh, he was
placed on the summit of a hastily arranged pyramidal cairn. He was
given an ash wand and a rowan-tree sword; and then, according to
ancient custom, his pedigree and the exploits of his ancestors were
recounted, and he was exhorted to emulate their example. Now it seems
that a Highland chief of the olden time, being as absolute in his
patriarchal authority as any prince, had a corresponding number of
officers attached to his person. He had a bodyguard, who fought around
him in battle, and independent of this he had a staff of officers who
accompanied him wherever he went. These our chief proceeded to appoint
Henchman, Ronald Macdonald; bard, Penelope Hamilton; spokesman or
fool, Robin Anstruther; sword-bearer, Francesca Monroe; piper,
Salemina; piper's attendant, Elizabeth Ardmore; baggage gillie, Jean
Dalziel; running footman, Ralph; bridle gillie, Jamie; ford gillie,
Miss Grieve. The ford gillie carries the chief across fords only, and
there are no fords in the vicinity; so Mr. Beresford, not liking to
leave a member of our household out of office, thought this the best
post for Calamity Jane.
With the Mackintosh on his pyramidal cairn matters went very much
better, and at Jamie's instigation we began to hold rehearsals for
certain festivities at Rowardennan; for as Jamie's birthday fell on
the eve of the Queen's Jubilee, there was to be a gay party at the
All this occurred days ago, and yesterday evening the ballad-revels
came off, and Rowardennan was a scene of great pageant and splendor.
Lady Ardmore, dressed as the Lady of Inverleith, received the guests,
and there were all manner of tableaux, and ballads in costume, and
pantomimes, and a grand march by the clan, in which we appeared in our
Salemina was Lady Maisry,—she whom all the lords of the north
countrie came wooing.
"But a' that they could say to her,
Her answer still was 'Na.'"
"O haud your tongues, young men,' she said,
'And think nae mair on me!'"
Mr. Beresford was Lord Beichan, and I was Shusy Pye.
"Lord Beichan was a Christian born,
And such resolved to live and dee,
So he was ta'en by a savage Moor,
Who treated him right cruellie.
"The Moor he had an only daughter,
The damsel's name was Shusy Pye;
And ilka day as she took the air
Lord Beichan's prison she pass'd by."
Elizabeth Ardmore was Leezie Lindsay, who kilted her coats o' green
satin to the knee and was aff to the Hielands so expeditiously when
her lover declared himself to be "Lord Ronald Macdonald, a chieftain
of high degree."
Francesca was Mary Ambree.
"When captaines couragious, whom death cold not daunte,
Did march to the siege of the citty of Gaunt,
They mustred their souldiers by two and by three,
And the foremost in battle was Mary Ambree.
"When the brave sergeant-major was slaine in her sight
Who was her true lover, her joy and delight,
Because he was slaine most treacherouslie,
Then vow'd to avenge him Mary Ambree."
Brenda Macrae from Pettybaw House was Fairly Fair; Jamie, Sir Patrick
Spens; Ralph, King Alexander of Dunfermline; Mr. Anstruther, Bonnie
Glenlogie, "the flower of them a';" Mr. Macdonald and Miss Dalziel,
Young Hynde Horn and the king's daughter Jean respectively.
"'Oh, it's Hynde Horn fair, and it's Hynde Horn free;
Oh, where were you born, and in what countrie?'
'In a far distant countrie I was born;
But of home and friends I am quite forlorn.'
"Oh, it's seven long years he served the king,
But wages from him he ne'er got a thing;
Oh, it's seven long years he served, I ween,
And all for love of the king's daughter Jean."
It is not to be supposed that all this went off without any of the
difficulties and heart-burnings that are incident to things dramatic.
When Elizabeth Ardmore chose to be Leezie Lindsay, she asked me to
sing the ballad behind the scenes. Mr. Beresford naturally thought
that Mr. Macdonald would take the opposite part in the tableau,
inasmuch as the hero bears his name; but he positively declined to
play Lord Ronald Macdonald, and said it was altogether too personal.
Mr. Anstruther was rather disagreeable at the beginning, and upbraided
Miss Dalziel for offering to be the king's daughter Jean to Mr.
Macdonald's Hynde Horn, when she knew very well he wanted her for
Ladye Jeanie in Glenlogie. (She had meantime confided to me that
nothing could induce her to appear in Glenlogie; it was far too
Mr. Macdonald offended Francesca by sending her his cast-off gown and
begging her to be Sir Patrick Spens; and she was still more gloomy (so
I imagined) because he had not proffered his six feet of manly beauty
for the part of the captain in Mary Ambree, when the only other person
to take it was Jamie's tutor. He is an Oxford man and a delightful
person, but very bow-legged; added to that, by the time the rehearsals
had ended she had been obliged to beg him to love some one more worthy
than herself, and did not wish to appear in the same tableau with him,
feeling that it was much too personal.
When the eventful hour came, yesterday, Willie and I were the only
actors really willing to take lovers' parts, save Jamie and Ralph, who
were but too anxious to play all the characters, whatever their age,
sex, color, or relations. But the guests knew nothing of these trivial
disagreements, and at ten o'clock last night it would have been
difficult to match Rowardennan Castle for a scene of beauty and
revelry. Everything went merrily till we came to Hynde Horn, the
concluding tableau, and the most effective and elaborate one on the
programme. At the very last moment, when the opening scene was nearly
ready, Jean Dalziel fell down a secret staircase that led from the
tapestry chamber into Lady Ardmore's boudoir, where the rest of us
were dressing. It was a short flight of steps, but, as she held a
candle and was carrying her costume, she fell awkwardly, spraining her
wrist and ankle. Finding that she was not maimed for life, Lady
Ardmore turned with comical and unsympathetic haste to Francesca, so
completely do amateur theatricals dry the milk of kindness in the
"Put on these clothes at once," she said imperiously, knowing nothing
of the volcanoes beneath the surface. "Hynde Horn is already on the
stage, and somebody must be Jean. Take care of Miss Dalziel, girls,
and ring for more maids. Hélène, help me dress Miss Monroe: put on her
slippers while I lace her gown; run and fetch more jewels,—more
still,—she can carry off any number; not any rouge, Hélène,—she has
too much color now; pull the frock more off the shoulders,—it's a
pity to cover an inch of them; pile her hair higher,—here, take my
diamond tiara, child; hurry, Hélène, fetch the silver cup and the
cake—no, they are on the stage; take her train, Hélène. Miss
Hamilton, run and open the doors ahead of them, please. I won't go
down for this tableau. I'll put Miss Dalziel right, and then I'll slip
into the drawing-room, to be ready for the guests when they come in."
We hurried breathlessly through an interminable series of rooms and
corridors. I gave the signal to Mr. Beresford, who was nervously
waiting for it in the wings, and the curtain went up on Hynde Horn
disguised as the auld beggar man at the king's gate. Mr. Beresford was
reading the ballad, and we took up the tableaux at the point where
Hynde Horn has come from a far countrie to see why the diamonds in the
ring given him by his own true love have grown pale and wan. He hears
that the king's daughter Jean has been married to a knight these nine
"But unto him a wife the bride winna be,
For love of Hynde Horn, far over the sea."
He therefore borrows the old beggar's garments and hobbles to the
king's palace, where he petitions the porter for a cup of wine and a
bit of cake to be handed him by the fair bride herself.
"'Good porter, I pray, for Saints Peter and Paul,
And for sake of the Saviour who died for us all,
For one cup of wine, and one bit of bread,
To an auld man with travel and hunger bestead.
"'And ask the fair bride, for the sake of Hynde Horn,
To hand them to me so sadly forlorn.'
Then the porter for pity the message convey'd,
And told the fair bride all the beggar man said."
The curtain went up again. The porter, moved to pity, has gone to give
the message to his lady. Hynde Horn is watching the staircase at the
rear of the stage, his heart in his eyes. The tapestries that hide it
are drawn, and there stands the king's daughter, who tripped down the
"And in her fair hands did lovingly bear
A cup of red wine, and a farle of cake,
To give the old man for loved Hynde Horn's sake."
The hero of the ballad, who had not seen his true love for seven long
years, could not have been more amazed at the change in her than was
Ronald Macdonald at the sight of the flushed, excited, almost tearful
king's daughter on the staircase; Lady Ardmore's diamonds flashing
from her crimson satin gown, Lady Ardmore's rubies glowing on her
white arms and throat; not Miss Dalziel, as had been arranged, but
Francesca, rebellious, reluctant, embarrassed, angrily beautiful and
In the next scene Hynde Horn has drained the cup and dropped the ring
"'Oh, found you that ring by sea or on land,
Or got you that ring off a dead man's hand?'
'Oh, I found not that ring by sea or on land,
But I got that ring from a fair lady's hand.
"'As a pledge of true love she gave it to me,
Full seven years ago as I sail'd o'er the sea;
But now that the diamonds are chang'd in their hue,
I know that my love has to me proved untrue.'"
I never saw a prettier picture of sweet, tremulous womanhood, a more
enchanting breathing image of fidelity, than Francesca looked as Mr.
"'Oh, I will cast off my gay costly gown,
And follow thee on from town unto town,
And I will take the gold kaims from my hair
And follow my true love for ever mair.'"
Whereupon Hynde Horn lets his beggar weeds fall, and shines there the
foremost and noblest of all the king's companie as he says:—
"'You need not cast off your gay costly gown,
To follow me on from town unto town;
You need not take the gold kaims from your hair,
For Hynde Horn has gold enough and to spare.'
"Then the bridegrooms were chang'd, and the lady re-wed
To Hynde Horn thus come back, like one from the dead."
There is no doubt that this tableau gained the success of the evening,
and the participants in it should have modestly and gratefully
received the choruses of congratulation that were ready to be offered
during the supper and dance that followed. Instead of that, what
happened? Francesca drove home with Miss Dalziel before the quadrille
d'honneur, and when Willie bade me good-night at the gate in the
loaning he said, "I shall not be early to-morrow, dear. I am going to
see Macdonald off."
"Off!" I exclaimed. "Where is he going?"
"Only to Edinburgh and London, to stay till the last of next week."
"But we may have left Pettybaw by that time."
"Of course; that is probably what he has in mind. But let me tell you
this, Penelope: Macdonald is fathoms deep in love with Francesca, and
if she trifles with him she shall know what I think of her!"
"And let me tell you this, sir: Francesca is fathoms deep in love with
Ronald Macdonald, little as you suspect it, and if he trifles with her
he shall know what I think of him!"
"He set her on a coal-black steed,
Himsel lap on behind her,
An' he's awa' to the Hieland hills
Whare her frien's they canna find her."
The occupants of Bide-a-Wee Cottage awoke in anything but a Jubilee
humor, next day. Willie had intended to come at nine, but of course
did not appear. Francesca took her breakfast in bed, and came
listlessly into the sitting-room at ten o'clock, looking like a ghost.
Jean's ankle was much better,—the sprain proved to be not even a
strain,—but her wrist was painful. It was drizzling, too, and we had
promised Miss Ardmore and Miss Macrae to aid with the last Jubilee
decorations, the distribution of medals at the church, and the
children's games and tea on the links in the afternoon.
We had determined not to desert our beloved Pettybaw for the
metropolis on this great day, but to celebrate it with the dear fowk
o' Fife who had grown to be a part of our lives.
Bide-a-Wee Cottage does not occupy an imposing position in the
landscape, and the choice of art fabrics at the Pettybaw draper's is
small, but the moment it should stop raining we were intending to
carry out a dazzling scheme of decoration that would proclaim our
affectionate respect for the "little lady in black" on her Diamond
Jubilee. But would it stop raining?—that was the question. The draper
wasna certain that so licht a shoo'r could richtly be called rain. The
village weans were yearning for the hour to arrive when they might sit
on the wet golf-course and have tea; manifestly, therefore, it could
not be a bad day for Scotland; but if it should grow worse, what would
become of our mammoth subscription bonfire on Pettybaw Law,—the
bonfire that Brenda Macrae was to light, as the lady of the manor?
There were no deputations to request the honor of Miss Macrae's
distinguished services on this occasion; that is not the way the
self-respecting villager comports himself in Fifeshire. The chairman
of the local committee, a respectable gardener, called upon Miss
Macrae at Pettybaw House, and said, "I'm sent to tell ye ye're to have
the pleesure an' the honor of lightin' the bonfire the nicht! Ay, it's
a grand chance ye're havin', miss; ye'll remember it as long as ye
live, I'm thinkin'!"
When I complimented this rugged soul on his decoration of the
triumphal arch under which the schoolchildren were to pass, I said, "I
think if her Majesty could see it, she would be pleased with our
village to-day, James."
"Ay, ye're richt, miss," he replied complacently. "She'd see that
Inchcawdy canna compeer wi' us; we've patronized her weel in
Truly, as Stevenson says, "he who goes fishing among the Scots
peasantry with condescension for a bait will have an empty basket by
At eleven o'clock a boy arrived at Bide-a-Wee with an interesting-looking
package, which I promptly opened. That dear foolish lover of mine
(whose foolishness is one of the most adorable things about him) makes
me only two visits a day, and is therefore constrained to send me some
reminder of himself in the intervening hours, or minutes,—a book, a
flower, or a note. Uncovering the pretty box, I found a long,
slender—something—of sparkling silver.
"What is it?" I exclaimed, holding it up. "It is too long and not wide
enough for a paper-knife, although it would be famous for cutting
magazines. Is it a bâton? Where did Willie find it, and what can it
be? There is something engraved on one side, something that looks like
birds on a twig,—yes, three little birds; and see the lovely
cairngorm set in the end! Oh, it has words cut in it: 'To Jean: From
Hynde Horn'—Goodness me! I've opened Miss Dalziel's package!"
Francesca made a sudden swooping motion, and caught box, cover, and
contents in her arms.
"It is mine! I know it is mine!" she cried. "You really ought not to
claim everything that is sent to the house, Penelope,—as if nobody
had any friends or presents but you!" and she rushed upstairs like a
I examined the outside wrapper, lying on the floor, and found, to my
chagrin, that it did bear Miss Monroe's name, somewhat blotted by the
rain; but if the box were addressed to her, why was the silver thing
inscribed to Miss Dalziel? Well, Francesca would explain the mystery
within the hour, unless she had become a changed being.
Fifteen minutes passed. Salemina was making Jubilee sandwiches at
Pettybaw House, Miss Dalziel was asleep in her room, I was being
devoured slowly by curiosity, when Francesca came down without a word,
walked out of the front door, went up to the main street, and entered
the village post-office without so much as a backward glance. She was
a changed being, then! I might as well be living in a Gaboriau novel,
I thought, and went up into my little painting and writing room to
address a programme of the Pettybaw celebration to Lady Baird, watch
for the first glimpse of Willie coming down the loaning, and see if I
could discover where Francesca went from the post-office.
Sitting down by my desk, I could find neither my wax nor my silver
candlestick, my scissors nor my ball of twine. Plainly, Francesca had
been on one of her borrowing tours; and she had left an additional
trace of herself—if one were needed—in a book of old Scottish
ballads, open at Hynde Horn. I glanced at it idly while I was waiting
for her to return. I was not familiar with the opening verses, and
these were the first lines that met my eye:—
"Oh, he gave to his love a silver wand,
Her sceptre of rule over fair Scotland;
With three singing laverocks set thereon
For to mind her of him when he was gone.
"And his love gave to him a gay gold ring
With three shining diamonds set therein;
Oh, his love gave to him this gay gold ring,
Of virtue and value above all thing."
A light dawned upon me! The silver mystery, then, was intended for a
wand,—and a very pretty way of making love to an American girl, too,
to call it a "sceptre of rule over fair Scotland;" and the three birds
were three singing laverocks "to mind her of him when he was gone!"
But the real Hynde Horn in the dear old ballad had a true love who was
not captious and capricious and cold like Francesca. His love gave him
a gay gold ring,—
"Of virtue and value above all thing."
Yet stay: behind the ballad book flung heedlessly on my desk was—what
should it be but the little morocco case, empty now, in which our
Francesca keeps her dead mother's engagement ring,—the mother who
died when she was a wee child. Truly a very pretty modern ballad to be
sung in these unromantic, degenerate days!
Francesca came in at the door behind me, saw her secret reflected in
my telltale face, saw the sympathetic moisture in my eyes, and,
flinging herself into my willing arms, burst into tears.
"Oh, Pen, dear, dear Pen, I am so miserable and so happy; so afraid
that he won't come back, so frightened for fear that he will! I sent
him away because there were so many lions in the path, and I didn't
know how to slay them. I thought of my f-father; I thought of my
c-c-country. I didn't want to live with him in Scotland, I knew that I
couldn't live without him in America, and there I was! I didn't think
I was s-suited to a minister, and I am not; but oh! this p-particular
minister is so s-suited to me!" and she threw herself on the sofa and
buried her head in the cushions.
She was so absurd even in her grief that I had hard work to keep from
"Let us talk about the lions," I said soothingly. "But when did the
trouble begin? When did he speak to you?"
"After the tableaux last night; but of course there had been
"Of course. Well?"
"He had told me a week before that he should go away for a while, that
it made him too wretched to stay here just now; and I suppose that was
when he got the silver wand ready for me. It was meant for the Jean of
the poem, you know. Of course he would not put my own name on a gift
"You don't think he had it made for Jean Dalziel in the first place?"
I asked this, thinking she needed some sort of tonic in her relaxed
"You know him better than that, Penelope! I am ashamed of you! We had
read Hynde Horn together ages before Jean Dalziel came; but I imagine,
when we came to acting the lines, he thought it would be better to
have some other king's daughter; that is, that it would be less
personal. And I never, never would have been in the tableau, if I had
dared refuse Lady Ardmore, or could have explained; but I had no time
to think. And then, naturally, he thought by my being there as the
king's daughter that—that—the lions were slain, you know; instead of
which they were roaring so that I could hardly hear the orchestra."
"Francesca, look me in the eye! Do—you—love him?"
"Love him? I adore him!" she exclaimed in good clear decisive English,
as she rose impetuously and paced up and down in front of the sofa.
"But in the first place there is the difference in nationality."
"I have no patience with you. One would think he was a Turk, an
Esquimau, or a cannibal. He is white, he speaks English, and he
believes in the Christian religion. The idea of calling such a man a
"Oh, it didn't prevent me from loving him," she confessed, "but I
thought at first it would be unpatriotic to marry him."
"Did you think Columbia could not spare you even as a rare specimen to
be used for exhibition purposes?" I asked wickedly.
"You know I am not so conceited as that! No," she continued
ingenuously, "I feared that if I accepted him it would look, over
here, as if the home supply of husbands were of inferior quality; and
then we had such disagreeable discussions at the beginning, I simply
could not bear to leave my nice new free country, and ally myself with
his æons of tiresome history. But it came to me in the night, a week
ago, that after all I should hate a man who didn't love his
fatherland; and in the illumination of that new idea Ronald's
character assumed a different outline in my mind. How could he love
America when he had never seen it? How could I convince him that
American women are the most charming in the world in any better way
than by letting him live under the same roof with a good example? How
could I expect him to let me love my country best unless I permitted
him to love his best?"
"You needn't offer so many apologies for your infatuation, my dear," I
"I am not apologizing for it!" she exclaimed impulsively. "Oh, if you
could only keep it to yourself, I should like to tell you how I trust
and admire and reverence Ronald Macdonald, but of course you will
repeat everything to Willie Beresford within the hour! You think he
has gone on and on loving me against his better judgment. You believe
he has fought against it because of my unfitness, but that I, poor,
weak, trivial thing, am not capable of deep feeling and that I shall
never appreciate the sacrifices he makes in choosing me! Very well,
then, I tell you plainly that if I had to live in a damp manse the
rest of my life, drink tea and eat scones for breakfast, and—and buy
my hats of the Inchcaldy milliner, I should still glory in the
possibility of being Ronald Macdonald's wife,—a possibility hourly
growing more uncertain, I am sorry to say!"
"And the extreme aversion with which you began," I asked,—"what has
become of that, and when did it begin to turn in the opposite
"Aversion!" she cried, with convincing and unblushing candor. "That
aversion was a cover, clapped on to keep my self-respect warm. I
abused him a good deal, it is true, because it was so delightful to
hear you and Salemina take his part. Sometimes I trembled for fear you
would agree with me, but you never did. The more I criticised him, the
louder you sang his praises,—it was lovely! The fact is,—we might as
well throw light upon the whole matter, and then never allude to it
again; and if you do tell Willie Beresford, you shall never visit my
manse, nor see me preside at my mothers' meetings, nor hear me address
the infant class in the Sunday-school,—the fact is I liked him from
the beginning at Lady Baird's dinner. I liked the bow he made when he
offered me his arm (I wish it had been his hand); I liked the top of
his head when it was bowed; I liked his arm when I took it; I liked
the height of his shoulder when I stood beside it; I liked the way he
put me in my chair (that showed chivalry), and unfolded his napkin
(that was neat and businesslike), and pushed aside all his wineglasses
but one (that was temperate); I liked the side view of his nose, the
shape of his collar, the cleanness of his shave, the manliness of his
tone,—oh, I liked him altogether, you must know how it is,
Penelope,—the goodness and strength and simplicity that radiated from
him. And when he said, within the first half-hour, that international
alliances presented even more difficulties to the imagination than
others, I felt, to my confusion, a distinct sense of disappointment.
Even while I was quarreling with him, I said to myself, 'You poor
darling, you cannot have him even if you should want him, so don't
look at him much!'—But I did look at him; and what is worse, he
looked at me; and what is worse yet, he curled himself so tightly
round my heart that if he takes himself away, I shall be cold the rest
of my life!"
"Then you are really sure of your love this time, and you have never
advised him to wed somebody more worthy than yourself?" I asked.
"Not I!" she replied. "I wouldn't put such an idea into his head for
worlds! He might adopt it!"
"Pale and wan was she when Glenlogie gaed ben,
But red rosy grew she whene'er he sat doun."
Just here the front door banged, and a manly step sounded on the
stair. Francesca sat up straight in a big chair, and dried her eyes
hastily with her poor little wet ball of a handkerchief; for she knows
that Willie is a privileged visitor in my studio. The door opened (it
was ajar), and Ronald Macdonald strode into the room. I hope I may
never have the same sense of nothingness again! To be young, pleasing,
gifted, and to be regarded no more than a fly upon the wall, is death
to one's self-respect.
He dropped on one knee beside Francesca and took her two hands in his
without removing his gaze from her speaking face. She burned, but did
not flinch under the ordeal. The color leaped into her cheeks. Love
swam in her tears, but was not drowned there; it was too strong.
"Did you mean it?" he asked.
She looked at him, trembling, as she said, "I meant every word, and
far, far more. I meant all that a girl can say to a man when she loves
him, and wants to be everything she is capable of being to him, to his
work, to his people, and to his—country."
Even this brief colloquy had been embarrassing, but I knew that worse
was still to come and could not be delayed much longer, so I left the
room hastily and with no attempt at apology; not that they minded my
presence in the least, or observed my exit, though I was obliged to
leap over Mr. Macdonald's feet in passing.
I found Mr. Beresford sitting on the stairs, in the lower hall.
"Willie, you angel, you idol, where did you find him?" I exclaimed.
"When I went into the post-office, an hour ago," he replied, "I met
Francesca. She asked me for Macdonald's Edinburgh address, saying she
had something that belonged to him and wished to send it after him. I
offered to address the package and see that it reached him as
expeditiously as possible. 'That is what I wish,' she said, with
elaborate formality. 'This is something I have just discovered,
something he needs very much, something he does not know he has left
behind.' I did not think it best to tell her at the moment that
Macdonald had not yet deserted Inchcaldy."
"Willie, you have the quickest intelligence and the most exquisite
insight of any man I ever met!"
"But the fact was that I had been to see him off, and found him
detained by the sudden illness of one of his elders. I rode over again
to take him the little parcel. Of course I don't know what it
contained; by its size and shape I should judge it might be a thimble,
or a collar-button, or a sixpence; but, at all events, he must have
needed the thing, for he certainly did not let the grass grow under
his feet after he received it! Let us go into the sitting-room until
they come down,—as they will have to, poor wretches, sooner or later;
I know that I am always being brought down against my will. Salemina
wants your advice about the number of her Majesty's portraits to be
hung on the front of the cottage, and the number of candles to be
placed in each window."
It was a half-hour later when Mr. Macdonald came into the room, and
walking directly up to Salemina kissed her hand respectfully.
"Miss Salemina," he said, with evident emotion, "I want to borrow one
of your national jewels for my Queen's crown."
"And what will our President say to lose a jewel from his crown?"
"Good republican rulers do not wear coronets, as a matter of
principle," he argued; "but in truth I fear I am not thinking of her
Majesty—God bless her! This gem is not entirely for state occasions.
'I would wear it in my bosom,
Lest my jewel I should tine.'
It is the crowning of my own life rather than that of the British
Empire that engages my present thought. Will you intercede for me with
"And this is the end of all your international bickering?" Salemina
"Yes," he answered; "we have buried the hatchet, signed articles of
agreement, made treaties of international comity. Francesca stays over
here as a kind of missionary to Scotland, so she says, or as a
feminine diplomat; she wishes to be on hand to enforce the Monroe
Doctrine properly, in case her government's accredited ambassadors
relax in the performance of their duty."
"Salemina!" called a laughing voice outside the door. "I am won'erful
lifted up. You will be a prood woman the day, for I am now
Estaiblished!" and Francesca, clad in Miss Grieve's Sunday bonnet,
shawl, and black cotton gloves, entered and curtsied demurely to the
floor. She held, as corroborative detail, a life of John Knox in her
hand, and anything more incongruous than her sparkling eyes and
mutinous mouth under the melancholy head-gear can hardly be imagined.
"I am now Estaiblished," she repeated. "Div ye ken the new asseestant
frae Inchcawdy pairish? I'm the mon" (a second deep curtsy here). "I
trust, leddies, that ye'll mak' the maist o' your releegious
preevileges, an' that ye'll be constant at the kurruk.—Have you given
papa's consent, Salemina? And isn't it dreadful that he is Scotch?"
"Isn't it dreadful that she is not?" asked Mr. Macdonald. "Yet to my
mind no woman in Scotland is half as lovable as she!"
"And no man in America begins to compare with him," Francesca
confessed sadly. "Isn't it pitiful that out of the millions of our own
countrypeople we couldn't have found somebody that would do? What do
you think now, Lord Ronald Macdonald, of those dangerous international
"You never understood that speech of mine," he replied, with prompt
mendacity. "When I said that international marriages presented more
difficulties to the imagination than others, I was thinking of your
marriage and mine, and that, I knew from the first moment I saw you,
would be extremely difficult to arrange!"
"And soon a score of fires, I ween,
From height, and hill, and cliff, were seen;
Each after each they glanced to sight,
As stars arise upon the night.
They gleamed on many a dusky tarn,
Haunted by the lonely earn;
On many a cairn's grey pyramid,
Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid."
The Lay of the Last Minstrel.
The rain continued at intervals throughout the day, but as the
afternoon wore on the skies looked a trifle more hopeful. It would be
"saft," no doubt, climbing the Law, but the bonfire must be lighted.
Would Pettybaw be behind London? Would Pettybaw desert the Queen in
her hour of need? Not though the rain were bursting the well-heads on
Cawda; not though the swollen mountain burns drowned us to the knee!
So off we started as the short midsummer night descended.
We were to climb the Law, wait for the signal from Cawda's lonely
height, and then fire Pettybaw's torch of loyalty to the little lady
in black; not a blaze flaming out war and rumors of war, as was the
beacon-fire on the old gray battlements of Edinburgh Castle in the
days of yore, but a message of peace and good will. Pausing at a hut
on the side of the great green mountain, we looked north toward Helva,
white-crested with a wreath of vapor. (You need not look on your map
of Scotland for Cawda and Helva, for you will not find them any more
than you will find Pettybaw and Inchcaldy.) One by one the tops of the
distant hills began to clear, and with the glass we could discern the
bonfire cairns upbuilt here and there for Scotland's evening sacrifice
of love and fealty. Cawda was still veiled, and Cawda was to give the
signal for all the smaller fires. Pettybaw's, I suppose, was counted
as a flash in the pan, but not one of the hundred patriots climbing
the mountain side would have acknowledged it; to us the good name of
the kingdom of Fife and the glory of the British Empire depended on
Pettybaw fire. Some of us had misgivings, too,—misgivings founded
upon Miss Grieve's dismal prophecies. She had agreed to put nine
lighted candles in each of our cottage windows at ten o'clock, but had
declined to go out of her kitchen to see a procession, hear a band, or
look at a bonfire. She had had a sair sickenin' day, an amount of work
too wearifu' for one person by her lane. She hoped that the bonfire
wasna built o' Mrs. Sinkler's coals nor Mr. Macbrose's kindlings, nor
soaked with Mr. Cameron's paraffine; and she finished with the
customary but irrelative and exasperating allusion to the exceedingly
nice family with whom she had lived in Glasgy.
And still we toiled upward, keeping our doubts to ourselves. Jean was
limping bravely, supported by Robin Anstruther's arm. Mr. Macdonald
was ardently helping Francesca, who can climb like a chamois, but
would doubtless rather be assisted. Her gypsy face shone radiant out
of her black cloth hood, and Ronald's was no less luminous. I have
never seen two beings more love-daft. They comport themselves as if
they had read the manuscript of the tender passion, and were moving in
exalted superiority through a less favored world,—a world waiting
impatiently for the first number of the story to come out.
Still we climbed, and as we approached the Grey Lady (a curious rock
very near the summit) somebody proposed three cheers for the Queen.
How the children hurrahed,—for the infant heart is easily
inflamed,—and how their shrill Jubilee slogan pierced the mystery of
the night, and went rolling on from glen to glen to the Firth of Forth
itself! Then there was a shout from the rocketmen far out on the open
moor,—"Cawda's clear! Cawda's clear!" Back against a silver sky stood
the signal pile, and signal rockets flashed upward, to be answered
from all the surrounding hills.
Now to light our own fire. One of the village committee solemnly took
off his hat and poured on oil. The great moment had come. Brenda
Macrae approached the sacred pile, and, tremulous from the effect of
much contradictory advice, applied the torch. Silence, thou Grieve and
others, false prophets of disaster! Who now could say that Pettybaw
bonfire had been badly built, or that its fifteen tons of coal and
twenty cords of wood had been unphilosophically heaped together!
The flames rushed toward the sky with ruddy blaze, shining with weird
effect against the black fir-trees and the blacker night. Three cheers
more! God save the Queen! May she reign over us, happy and glorious!
And we cheered lustily, too, you may be sure! It was more for the
woman than the monarch; it was for the blameless life, not for the
splendid monarchy; but there was everything hearty, and nothing alien
in our tone, when we sang "God Save the Queen" with the rest of the
The land darkened; the wind blew chill. Willie, Mr. Macdonald, and Mr.
Anstruther brought rugs, and found a sheltered nook for us where we
might still watch the scene. There we sat, looking at the plains
below, with all the village streets sparkling with light, with rockets
shooting into the air and falling to earth in golden rain, with red
lights flickering on the gray lakes, and with one beacon-fire after
another gleaming from the hilltops, till we could count more than
fifty answering one another from the wooded crests along the shore,
some of them piercing the rifts of low-lying clouds till they seemed
to be burning in mid-heaven.
Then, one by one, the distant fires faded, and as some of us still sat
there silently, far, far away in the gray east there was a faint flush
of carmine where the new dawn was kindling in secret. Underneath that
violet bank of cloud the sun was forging his beams of light. The
pole-star paled. The breath of the new morrow stole up out of the rosy
gray. The wings of the morning stirred and trembled; and in the
darkness and chill and mysterious awakening, eyes looked into other
eyes, hand sought hand, and cheeks touched each other in mute caress.
"Sun, gallop down the westlin skies,
Gang soon to bed, an' quickly rise;
O lash your steeds, post time away,
And haste about our bridal day!"
The Gentle Shepherd.
Every noon, during this last week, as we have wended our way up the
loaning to the Pettybaw inn for our luncheon, we have passed three
magpies sitting together on the topmost rail of the fence. I am not
prepared to state that they were always the same magpies; I only know
there were always three of them. We have just discovered what they
were about, and great is the excitement in our little circle. I am to
be married to-morrow, and married in Pettybaw, and Miss Grieve says
that in Scotland the number of magpies one sees is of infinite
significance: that one means sorrow; two, mirth; three, a marriage;
four, a birth, and we now recall as corroborative detail that we saw
one magpie, our first, on the afternoon of her arrival.
Mr. Beresford has been cabled for, and must return to America at once
on important business. He persuaded me that the Atlantic is an ower
large body of water to roll between two lovers, and I agreed with all
A wedding was arranged, mostly by telegraph, in six hours. The
Reverend Ronald and the Friar are to perform the ceremony; a dear old
painter friend of mine, a London R. A., will come to give me away;
Francesca will be my maid of honor; Elizabeth Ardmore and Jean
Dalziel, my bridemaidens; Robin Anstruther, the best man; while Jamie
and Ralph will be kilted pages-in-waiting, and Lady Ardmore will give
the breakfast at the castle.
Never was there such generosity, such hospitality, such wealth of
friendship! True, I have no wedding finery; but as I am perforce a
Scottish bride, I can be married in the white gown with the silver
thistles in which I went to Holyrood.
Mr. Anstruther took a night train to and from London, to choose the
bouquets and bridal souvenirs. Lady Baird has sent the veil, and a
wonderful diamond thistle to pin it on,—a jewel fit for a princess!
With the dear Dominie's note promising to be an usher came an antique
silver casket filled with white heather. And as for the bride-cake, it
is one of Salemina's gifts, chosen as much in a spirit of fun as
affection. It is surely appropriate for this American wedding
transplanted to Scottish soil, and what should it be but a model, in
fairy icing, of Sir Walter's beautiful monument in Princes Street! Of
course Francesca is full of nonsensical quips about it, and says that
the Edinburgh jail would have been just as fine architecturally (it
is, in truth, a building beautiful enough to tempt an æsthete to
crime), and a much more fitting symbol for a wedding-cake,—unless,
indeed, she adds, Salemina intends her gift to be a monument to my
Pettybaw kirk is trimmed with yellow broom from these dear Scottish
banks and braes; and waving their green fans and plumes up and down
the aisle where I shall walk a bride, are tall ferns and bracken from
Crummylowe Glen, where we played ballads.
As I look back upon it, the life here has been all a ballad from first
to last. Like the elfin Tam Lin,
"The queen o' fairies she caught me
In this green hill to dwell,"
and these hasty nuptials are a fittingly romantic ending to the
summer's poetry. I am in a mood, were it necessary, to be "ta'en by
the milk-white hand," lifted to a pillion on a coal-black charger, and
spirited "o'er the border an' awa'" by my dear Jock o' Hazledean.
Unhappily, all is quite regular and aboveboard; no "lord of Langley
dale" contests the prize with the bridegroom, but the marriage is at
least unique and unconventional; no one can rob me of that sweet
So "gallop down the westlin skies," dear Sun, but, prythee, gallop
back to-morrow! "Gang soon to bed," an you will, but rise again
betimes! Give me Queen's weather, dear Sun, and shine a benison upon
my wedding morn!
[Exit Penelope into the ballad-land of maiden dreams.]
The Riverside Press
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