Part 2 out of 4
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 and 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
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, were 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, and
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.
Chapter IX. Omnia presbyteria est divisa in partes tres.
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
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 have 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 dulness 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 every one recognises 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
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; and 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 fervour 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
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 worshippers 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 bonnets 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 the
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 heard
`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 Castlehill 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 recognised 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
Castlehill, 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
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 realisation; 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.'
Chapter X. Mrs. M'Collop as a sermon-taster.
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 realise 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
offence 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 Marriage.
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 22nd of 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 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 honour--"
"The gifted Miss Hamilton is always at the table of honour; 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 mistakes 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 harm 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 truth itself.
"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--AFF AN'
ON!' with an emphasis showing clearly that, in her estimation, the
times when he is `aff' outnumber those when he is `on' . . . "Ye
havena 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' ower, nae bit-
pickin's like the haverin' asseestant; it's my opeenion he's no
soond, wi' his parleyvoos an' his clishmaclavers! . . . Mr. C?"
(Now comes the shaking and straightening and smoothing of the first
blanket.) "Ay, he's weel eneuch! I mind aince he prayed for oor
Free Assembly, an' then he turned roon' 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 frae 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 guid 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 o' his ain
congregation. He's waur sin 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'nboro could `a' better spared the greetin' doctor than her, I'm
"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!"
Chapter XI. Holyrood awakens.
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 Inveraray).
"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 points:-
"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
"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
nought? 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
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 oot 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 them!
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 `cleaning 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 qua 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 Holy rood 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 Lee!
`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
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 M'Allister. 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
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 colour it was,
though the Lord High Commissioner would probably never note the
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 that 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-practised 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-coloured 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 or 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-
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 tortoise-shell 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 defenceless majesty; scanned
meanwhile by the maids of honour (who if they were truly honourable,
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 all 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, other 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 colour
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
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
neighbour through crossed eyes!"
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 can comprehend.
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 eclat of unexpectedness. She
despatched 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 trinket or
bit of frippery 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 injuries.
"It is really an ordeal, that presentation, no matter how strong
one's sense of humour 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. "And 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!"
Chapter XII. Farewell to Edinburgh.
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-bye 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 grey 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
grey 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 vigour and passion had my people been `out with
`The Esk was swollen sae red an' sae deep,
But shouther to shouther the brave lads keep;
Twa thousand swam owre 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.
`Wi' a hundred pipers an' a', an' a',
Wi' a hundred pipers an' a', an' a',
We'll up an' gie them a blaw, a blaw,
Wi' a hundred pipers 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 resist them.
"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, hesitating
outside the door for sheer delight, 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' Hazeldean' 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 poker.
"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.--
"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 noo 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 words--
`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."
Chapter XIII. The spell of Scotland.
"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,
duro, brutto! A gondola? Ah, bellissima! Let me float for ever
thus!' You bathed your spirit in sunshine and colour; 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
nought 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 flavour 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 braidsword, 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 favour of the victors
ever became popular?"
"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
"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 M'Vicar 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. M'Vicar 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 glory!'"
"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 favoured 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 colour
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 of Lindsay's
`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, whisky, 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 blethers
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 GIRL'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 bide 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 `Staiblished, 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 folk 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
M'Kinley'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'll fight!
An' (whiles) I'd fight for a' that's Scotch,
Save whusky 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, and would never be worn with a kilt!'
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 for ever 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 cairngorms."
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 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 lat a puir body
Gang aboot his business.'
Chapter XIV. The wee theekit hoosie in the loaning.
`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 travelled 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; Winnybrae 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' Fairlock' (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
"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 place, driver?"
"Pettybaw, mam; a fine toun!"
"Will there be apartments to let there?"
"I cudna 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 enamoured, 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
curved spire from the green trees, the manse next door was hidden in
vines, the sheep lay close to the grey stone walls and the young
lambs nestled 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 innkeeper'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--although 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 winceys, 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 favourably, 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 hearth-stone to
the summer visitor.
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
"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
"We hardly dare undertake regular housekeeping," I said; "do your
tenants ever take meals at the inn?"
"I cudna 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 despatched 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 we desired. The relationship was an
interesting fact, though we scarcely thought the information worth
the additional pennies 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 Callander for Francesca, and despatched 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 send for them until we were
settled," I said reflectively. "Jane Grieve may not prove a
"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
macintosh 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 laundry there."
"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, although 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 grey
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.'"
Chapter XV. Jane Grieve and her grievances.
`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
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 largest bath. We bought
housekeeping stores, distributing our patronage equally between the
two grocers; we purchased aprons and dust-cloths 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 babies.
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 her eye.
"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
"Salemina!" I expostulated, "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
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, although 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 for ever 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,
`especially 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 carolled 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 no exception.
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 grotesque 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, "although she may possibly be somebody's
grand-aunt. Doesn't she remind you of Mrs. Gummidge?"
Salemina returned in a quarter of an hour, and sank dejectedly on
"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
"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 you 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
"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 lintel."
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 she cannot be looked upon as a national
type. Everywhere we go we see fresh, fair-haired, sonsie lasses;
why should we have been visited by 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