Donal Grant by George MacDonald

This etext was created by John Bechard, London, England ( Note from electronic text creator: I have compiled a word list with definitions of most of the Scottish words and phrases found in this work at the end of the book. This list does not belong to the original work, but is designed to help
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  • 1883
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This etext was created by John Bechard, London, England (

Note from electronic text creator: I have compiled a word list with definitions of most of the Scottish words and phrases found in this work at the end of the book. This list does not belong to the original work, but is designed to help with the conversations in Broad Scots found in this work. A further explanation of this list can be found towards the end of this document, preceding the word list.

Any notes that I have made in the text (e.g. relating to Greek words in the text) have been enclosed in {} brackets.




1905 edition



It was a lovely morning in the first of summer. Donal Grant was descending a path on a hillside to the valley below–a sheep-track of which he knew every winding as well as any boy his half-mile to and from school. But he had never before gone down the hill with the feeling that he was not about to go up again. He was on his way to pastures very new, and in the distance only negatively inviting. But his heart was too full to be troubled–nor was his a heart to harbour a care, the next thing to an evil spirit, though not quite so bad; for one care may drive out another, while one devil is sure to bring in another.

A great billowy waste of mountains lay beyond him, amongst which played the shadow at their games of hide and seek–graciously merry in the eyes of the happy man, but sadly solemn in the eyes of him in whose heart the dreary thoughts of the past are at a like game. Behind Donal lay a world of dreams into which he dared not turn and look, yet from which he could scarce avert his eyes.

He was nearing the foot of the hill when he stumbled and almost fell, but recovered himself with the agility of a mountaineer, and the unpleasant knowledge that the sole of one of his shoes was all but off. Never had he left home for college that his father had not made personal inspection of his shoes to see that they were fit for the journey, but on this departure they had been forgotten. He sat down and took off the failing equipment. It was too far gone to do anything temporary with it; and of discomforts a loose sole to one’s shoe in walking is of the worst. The only thing was to take off the other shoe and both stockings and go barefoot. He tied all together with a piece of string, made them fast to his deerskin knapsack, and resumed his walk. The thing did not trouble him much. To have what we want is riches, but to be able to do without is power. To have shoes is a good thing; to be able to walk without them is a better. But it was long since Donal had walked barefoot, and he found his feet like his shoe, weaker in the sole than was pleasant.

“It’s time,” he said to himself, when he found he was stepping gingerly, “I ga’e my feet a turn at the auld accomplishment. It’s a pity to grow nae so fit for onything suner nor ye need. I wad like to lie doon at last wi’ hard soles!”

In every stream he came to he bathed his feet, and often on the way rested them, when otherwise able enough to go on. He had no certain goal, though he knew his direction, and was in no haste. He had confidence in God and in his own powers as the gift of God, and knew that wherever he went he needed not be hungry long, even should the little money in his pocket be spent. It is better to trust in work than in money: God never buys anything, and is for ever at work; but if any one trust in work, he has to learn that he must trust in nothing but strength–the self-existent, original strength only; and Donal Grant had long begun to learn that. The man has begun to be strong who knows that, separated from life essential, he is weakness itself, that, one with his origin, he will be of strength inexhaustible. Donal was now descending the heights of youth to walk along the king’s highroad of manhood: happy he who, as his sun is going down behind the western, is himself ascending the eastern hill, returning through old age to the second and better childhood which shall not be taken from him! He who turns his back on the setting sun goes to meet the rising sun; he who loses his life shall find it. Donal had lost his past–but not so as to be ashamed. There are many ways of losing! His past had but crept, like the dead, back to God who gave it; in better shape it would be his by and by! Already he had begun to foreshadow this truth: God would keep it for him.

He had set out before the sun was up, for he would not be met by friends or acquaintances. Avoiding the well-known farmhouses and occasional village, he took his way up the river, and about noon came to a hamlet where no one knew him–a cluster of straw-roofed cottages, low and white, with two little windows each. He walked straight through it not meaning to stop; but, spying in front of the last cottage a rough stone seat under a low, widespreading elder tree, was tempted to sit down and rest a little. The day was now hot, and the shadow of the tree inviting.

He had but seated himself when a woman came to the door of the cottage, looked at him for a moment, and probably thinking him, from his bare feet, poorer than he was, said–

“Wad ye like a drink?”

“Ay, wad I,” answered Donal, “–a drink o’ watter, gien ye please.”

“What for no milk?” asked the woman.

“‘Cause I’m able to pey for ‘t,” answered Donal.

“I want nae peyment,” she rejoined, perceiving his drift as little as probably my reader.

“An’ I want nae milk,” returned Donal.

“Weel, ye may pey for ‘t gien ye like,” she rejoined.

“But I dinna like,” replied Donal.

“Weel, ye’re a some queer customer!” she remarked.

“I thank ye, but I’m nae customer, ‘cep’ for a drink o’ watter,” he persisted, looking in her face with a smile; “an’ watter has aye been grâtis sin’ the days o’ Adam–‘cep’ maybe i’ toons i’ the het pairts o’ the warl’.”

The woman turned into the cottage, and came out again presently with a delft basin, holding about a pint, full of milk, yellow and rich.

“There!” she said; “drink an’ be thankfu’.”

“I’ll be thankfu’ ohn drunken,” said Donal. “I thank ye wi’ a’ my heart. But I canna bide to tak for naething what I can pey for, an’ I dinna like to lay oot my siller upon a luxury I can weel eneuch du wantin’, for I haena muckle. I wadna be shabby nor yet greedy.”

“Drink for the love o’ God,” said the woman.

Donal took the bowl from her hand, and drank till all was gone.

“Wull ye hae a drap mair?” she asked.

“Na, no a drap,” answered Donal. “I’ll gang i’ the stren’th o’ that ye hae gi’en me–maybe no jist forty days, gudewife, but mair nor forty minutes, an’ that’s a gude pairt o’ a day. I thank ye hertily. Yon was the milk o’ human kin’ness, gien ever was ony.”

As he spoke he rose, and stood up refreshed for his journey.

“I hae a sodger laddie awa’ i’ the het pairts ye spak o’,” said the woman: “gien ye hadna ta’en the milk, ye wad hae gi’en me a sair hert.”

“Eh, gudewife, it wad hae gi’en me ane to think I had!” returned Donal. “The Lord gie ye back yer sodger laddie safe an’ soon’! Maybe I’ll hae to gang efter ‘im, sodger mysel’.”

“Na, na, that wadna do. Ye’re a scholar–that’s easy to see, for a’ ye’re sae plain spoken. It dis a body’s hert guid to hear a man ‘at un’erstan’s things say them plain oot i’ the tongue his mither taucht him. Sic a ane ‘ill gang straucht till’s makker, an’ fin’ a’thing there hame-like. Lord, I wuss minnisters wad speyk like ither fowk!”

“Ye wad sair please my mither sayin’ that,” remarked Donal. “Ye maun be jist sic anither as her!”

“Weel, come in, an’ sit ye doon oot o’ the sin, an’ hae something to ait.”

“Na, I’ll tak nae mair frae ye the day, an’ I thank ye,” replied Donal; “I canna weel bide.”

“What for no?”

“It’s no sae muckle ‘at I’m in a hurry as ‘at I maun be duin’.”

“Whaur are ye b’un’ for, gien a body may speir?”

“I’m gaein’ to seek–no my fortin, but my daily breid. Gien I spak as a richt man, I wad say I was gaein’ to luik for the wark set me. I’m feart to say that straucht oot; I haena won sae far as that yet. I winna du naething though ‘at he wadna hae me du. I daur to say that–sae be I un’erstan’. My mither says the day ‘ill come whan I’ll care for naething but his wull.”

“Yer mither ‘ill be Janet Grant, I’m thinkin’! There canna be twa sic in ae country-side!”

“Ye’re i’ the richt,” answered Donal. “Ken ye my mither?”

“I hae seen her; an’ to see her ‘s to ken her.”

“Ay, gien wha sees her be sic like ‘s hersel’.”

“I canna preten’ to that; but she’s weel kent throu’ a’ the country for a God-fearin’ wuman.–An’ whaur ‘ll ye be for the noo?”

“I’m jist upo’ the tramp, luikin’ for wark.”

“An’ what may ye be pleast to ca’ wark?”

“Ow, jist the communication o’ what I hae the un’erstan’in’ o’.”

“Aweel, gien ye’ll condescen’ to advice frae an auld wife, I’ll gie ye a bit wi’ ye: tak na ilka lass ye see for a born angel. Misdoobt her a wee to begin wi’. Hing up yer jeedgment o’ her a wee. Luik to the moo’ an’ the e’en o’ her.”

“I thank ye,” said Donal, with a smile, in which the woman spied the sadness; “I’m no like to need the advice.”

She looked at him pitifully, and paused.

“Gien ye come this gait again,” she said, “ye’ll no gang by my door?”

“I wull no,” replied Donal, and wishing her good-bye with a grateful heart, betook himself to his journey.

He had not gone far when he found himself on a wide moor. He sat down on a big stone, and began to turn things over in his mind. This is how his thoughts went:

“I can never be the man I was! The thoucht o’ my heart ‘s ta’en frae me! I canna think aboot things as I used. There’s naething sae bonny as afore. Whan the life slips frae him, hoo can a man gang on livin’! Yet I’m no deid–that’s what maks the diffeeclety o’ the situation! Gien I war deid–weel, I kenna what than! I doobt there wad be trible still, though some things micht be lichter. But that’s neither here nor there; I maun live; I hae nae ch’ice; I didna mak mysel’, an’ I’m no gaein’ to meddle wi’ mysel’! I think mair o’ mysel’ nor daur that!

“But there’s ae question I maun sattle afore I gang farther–an’ that’s this: am I to be less or mair nor I was afore? It’s agreed I canna be the same: if I canna be the same, I maun aither be less or greater than I was afore: whilk o’ them is’t to be? I winna hae that queston to speir mair nor ance! I’ll be mair nor I was. To sink to less wad be to lowse grip o’ my past as weel’s o’ my futur! An’ hoo wad I ever luik her i’ the face gien I grew less because o’ her! A chiel’ like me lat a bonny lassie think hersel’ to blame for what I grew til! An’ there’s a greater nor the lass to be considert! ‘Cause he seesna fit to gie me her I wad hae, is he no to hae his wull o’ me? It’s a gran’ thing to ken a lassie like yon, an’ a gran’er thing yet to be allooed to lo’e her: to sit down an’ greit ’cause I’m no to merry her, wad be most oongratefu’! What for sud I threip ‘at I oucht to hae her? What for sudna I be disapp’intit as weel as anither? I hae as guid a richt to ony guid ‘at’s to come o’ that, I fancy! Gien it be a man’s pairt to cairry a sair hert, it canna be his pairt to sit doon wi’ ‘t upo’ the ro’d-side, an’ lay’t upo’ his lap, an’ greit ower’t, like a bairn wi’ a cuttit finger: he maun haud on his ro’d. Wha am I to differ frae the lave o’ my fowk! I s’ be like the lave, an’ gien I greit I winna girn. The Lord himsel’ had to be croont wi’ pain. Eh, my bonnie doo! But ye lo’e a better man, an’ that’s a sair comfort! Gien it had been itherwise, I div not think I could hae borne the pain at my hert. But as it’s guid an’ no ill ‘at’s come to ye, I haena you an’ mysel’ tu to greit for, an’ that’s a sair comfort! Lord, I’ll clim’ to thee, an’ gaither o’ the healin’ ‘at grows for the nations i’ thy gairden.

“I see the thing as plain’s thing can be: the cure o’ a’ ill ‘s jist mair life! That’s it! Life abune an’ ayont the life ‘at took the stroke! An’ gien throu’ this hert-brak I come by mair life, it’ll be jist ane o’ the throes o’ my h’avenly birth–i’ the whilk the bairn has as mony o’ the pains as the mither: that’s maybe a differ ‘atween the twa–the earthly an’ the h’avenly!

“Sae noo I hae to begin fresh, an’ lat the thing ‘at’s past an’ gane slip efter ither dreams. Eh, but it’s a bonny dream yet! It lies close ‘ahin’ me, no to be forgotten, no to be luikit at–like ane o’ thae dreams o’ watter an’ munelicht ‘at has nae wark i’ them: a body wadna lie a’ nicht an’ a’ day tu in a dream o’ the sowl’s gloamin’! Na, Lord; mak o’ me a strong man, an’ syne gie me as muckle o’ the bonny as may please thee. Wha am I to lippen til, gien no to thee, my ain father an’ mither an’ gran’father an’ a’ body in ane, for thoo giedst me them a’!

“Noo I’m to begin again–a fresh life frae this minute! I’m to set oot frae this verra p’int, like ane o’ the youngest sons i’ the fairy tales, to seek my portion, an’ see what’s comin’ to meet me as I gang to meet hit. The warl’ afore me’s my story-buik. I canna see ower the leaf till I come to the en’ o’ ‘t. Whan I was a bairn, jist able, wi’ sair endeevour, to win at the hert o’ print, I never wad luik on afore! The ae time I did it, I thoucht I had dune a shamefu’ thing, like luikin’ in at a keyhole–as I did jist ance tu, whan I thank God my mither gae me sic a blessed lickin’ ‘at I kent it maun be something dreidfu’ I had dune. Sae here’s for what’s comin’! I ken whaur it maun come frae, an’ I s’ make it welcome. My mither says the main mischeef i’ the warl’ is, ‘at fowk winna lat the Lord hae his ain w’y, an’ sae he has jist to tak it, whilk maks it a sair thing for them.”

Therewith he rose to encounter that which was on its way to meet him. He is a fool who stands and lets life move past him like a panorama. He also is a fool who would lay hands on its motion, and change its pictures. He can but distort and injure, if he does not ruin them, and come upon awful shadows behind them.

And lo! as he glanced around him, already something of the old mysterious loveliness, now for so long vanished from the face of the visible world, had returned to it–not yet as it was before, but with dawning promise of a new creation, a fresh beauty, in welcoming which he was not turning from the old, but receiving the new that God sent him. He might yet be many a time sad, but to lament would be to act as if he were wronged–would be at best weak and foolish! He would look the new life in the face, and be what it should please God to make him. The scents the wind brought him from field and garden and moor, seemed sweeter than ever wind-borne scents before: they were seeking to comfort him! He sighed–but turned from the sigh to God, and found fresh gladness and welcome. The wind hovered about him as if it would fain have something to do in the matter; the river rippled and shone as if it knew something worth knowing as yet unrevealed. The delight of creation is verily in secrets, but in secrets as truths on the way. All secrets are embryo revelations. On the far horizon heaven and earth met as old friends, who, though never parted, were ever renewing their friendship. The world, like the angels, was rejoicing–if not over a sinner that had repented, yet over a man that had passed from a lower to a higher condition of life–out of its earth into its air: he was going to live above, and look down on the inferior world! Ere the shades of evening fell that day around Donal Grant, he was in the new childhood of a new world.

I do not mean such thoughts had never been present to him before; but to think a thing is only to look at it in a glass; to know it as God would have us know it, and as we must know it to live, is to see it as we see love in a friend’s eyes–to have it as the love the friend sees in ours. To make things real to us, is the end and the battle-cause of life. We often think we believe what we are only presenting to our imaginations. The least thing can overthrow that kind of faith. The imagination is an endless help towards faith, but it is no more faith than a dream of food will make us strong for the next day’s work. To know God as the beginning and end, the root and cause, the giver, the enabler, the love and joy and perfect good, the present one existence in all things and degrees and conditions, is life; and faith, in its simplest, truest, mightiest form is–to do his will.

Donal was making his way towards the eastern coast, in the certain hope of finding work of one kind or another. He could have been well content to pass his life as a shepherd like his father but for two things: he knew what it would be well for others to know; and he had a hunger after the society of books. A man must be able to do without whatever is denied him, but when his heart is hungry for an honest thing, he may use honest endeavour to obtain it. Donal desired to be useful and live for his generation, also to be with books. To be where was a good library would suit him better than buying books, for without a place in which to keep them, they are among the impedimenta of life. And Donal knew that in regard to books he was in danger of loving after the fashion of this world: books he had a strong inclination to accumulate and hoard; therefore the use of a library was better than the means of buying them. Books as possessions are also of the things that pass and perish–as surely as any other form of earthly having; they are of the playthings God lets men have that they may learn to distinguish between apparent and real possession: if having will not teach them, loss may.

But who would have thought, meeting the youth as he walked the road with shoeless feet, that he sought the harbour of a great library in some old house, so as day after day to feast on the thoughts of men who had gone before him! For his was no antiquarian soul; it was a soul hungry after life, not after the mummy cloths enwrapping the dead.



He was now walking southward, but would soon, when the mountains were well behind him, turn toward the east. He carried a small wallet, filled chiefly with oatcake and hard skim-milk cheese: about two o’clock he sat down on a stone, and proceeded to make a meal. A brook from the hills ran near: for that he had chosen the spot, his fare being dry. He seldom took any other drink than water: he had learned that strong drink at best but discounted to him his own at a high rate.

He drew from his pocket a small thick volume he had brought as the companion of his journey, and read as he ate. His seat was on the last slope of a grassy hill, where many huge stones rose out of the grass. A few yards beneath was a country road, and on the other side of the road a small stream, in which the brook that ran swiftly past, almost within reach of his hand, eagerly lost itself. On the further bank of the stream, perfuming the air, grew many bushes of meadow-sweet, or queen-of-the-meadow, as it is called in Scotland; and beyond lay a lovely stretch of nearly level pasture. Farther eastward all was a plain, full of farms. Behind him rose the hill, shutting out his past; before him lay the plain, open to his eyes and feet. God had walled up his past, and was disclosing his future.

When he had eaten his dinner, its dryness forgotten in the condiment his book supplied, he rose, and taking his cap from his head, filled it from the stream, and drank heartily; then emptied it, shook the last drops from it, and put it again upon his head.

“Ho, ho, young man!” cried a voice.

Donal looked, and saw a man in the garb of a clergyman regarding him from the road, and wiping his face with his sleeve.

“You should mind,” he continued, “how you scatter your favours.”

“I beg your pardon, sir,” said Donal, taking off his cap again; “I hadna a notion there was leevin’ cratur near me.”

“It’s a fine day!” said the minister.

“It is that, sir!” answered Donal.

“Which way are you going?” asked the minister, adding, as if in apology for his seeming curiosity, “–You’re a scholar, I see!”–with a glance towards the book he had left open on his stone.

“Nae sae muckle as I wad fain be, sir,” answered Donal–then called to mind a resolve he had made to speak English for the future.

“A modest youth, I see!” returned the clergyman; but Donal hardly liked the tone in which he said it.

“That depends on what you mean by a scholar,” he said.

“Oh!” answered the minister, not thinking much about his reply, but in a bantering humour willing to draw the lad out, “the learned man modestly calls himself a scholar.”

“Then there was no modesty in saying I was not so much of a scholar as I should like to be; every scholar would say the same.”

“A very good answer!” said the clergyman patronizingly, “You’ll be a learned man some day!” And he smiled as he said it.

“When would you call a man learned?” asked Donal.

“That is hard to determine, seeing those that claim to be contradict each other so.”

“What good then can there be in wanting to be learned?”

“You get the mental discipline of study.”

“It seems to me,” said Donal, “a pity to get a body’s discipline on what may be worthless. It’s just as good discipline to my teeth to dine on bread and cheese, as it would be to exercise them on sheep’s grass.”

“I’ve got hold of a humorist!” said the clergyman to himself.

Donal picked up his wallet and his book, and came down to the road. Then first the clergyman saw that he was barefooted. In his childhood he had himself often gone without shoes and stockings, yet the youth’s lack of them prejudiced him against him.

“It must be the fellow’s own fault!” he said to himself. “He shan’t catch me with his chaff!”

Donal would rather have forded the river, and gone to inquire his way at the nearest farm-house, but he thought it polite to walk a little way with the clergyman.

“How far are you going?” asked the minister at length.

“As far as I can,” replied Donal.

“Where do you mean to pass the night?”

“In some barn perhaps, or on some hill-side.”

“I am sorry to hear you can do no better.”

“You don’t think, sir, what a decent bed costs; and a barn is generally, a hill-side always clean. In fact the hill-side ‘s the best. Many’s the time I have slept on one. It’s a strange notion some people have, that it’s more respectable to sleep under man’s roof than God’s.”

“To have no settled abode,” said the clergyman, and paused.

“Like Abraham?” suggested Donal with a smile. “An abiding city seems hardly necessary to pilgrims and strangers! I fell asleep once on the top of Glashgar: when I woke the sun was looking over the edge of the horizon. I rose and gazed about me as if I were but that moment created. If God had called me, I should hardly have been astonished.”

“Or frightened?” asked the minister.

“No, sir; why should a man fear the presence of his saviour?”

“You said God!” answered the minister.

“God is my saviour! Into his presence it is my desire to come.”

“Under shelter of the atonement,” supplemented the minister.

“Gien ye mean by that, sir,” cried Donal, forgetting his English, “onything to come ‘atween my God an’ me, I’ll ha’e nane o’ ‘t. I’ll hae naething hide me frae him wha made me! I wadna hide a thoucht frae him. The waur it is, the mair need he see’t.”

“What book is that you are reading?” asked the minister sharply. “It’s not your bible, I’ll be bound! You never got such notions from it!”

He was angry with the presumptuous youth–and no wonder; for the gospel the minister preached was a gospel but to the slavish and unfilial.

“It’s Shelley,” answered Donal, recovering himself.

The minister had never read a word of Shelley, but had a very decided opinion of him. He gave a loud rude whistle.

“So! that’s where you go for your theology! I was puzzled to understand you, but now all is plain! Young man, you are on the brink of perdition. That book will poison your very vitals!”

“Indeed, sir, it will never go deep enough for that! But it came near touching them as I sat eating my bread and cheese.”

“He’s an infidel!” said the minister fiercely.

“A kind of one,” returned Donal, “but not of the worst sort. It’s the people who call themselves believers that drive the like of poor Shelley to the mouth of the pit.”

“He hated the truth,” said the minister.

“He was always seeking after it,” said Donal, “though to be sure he didn’t get to the end of the search. Just listen to this, sir, and say whether it be very far from Christian.”

Donal opened his little volume, and sought his passage. The minister but for curiosity and the dread of seeming absurd would have stopped his ears and refused to listen. He was a man of not merely dry or stale, but of deadly doctrines. He would have a man love Christ for protecting him from God, not for leading him to God in whom alone is bliss, out of whom all is darkness and misery. He had not a glimmer of the truth that eternal life is to know God. He imagined justice and love dwelling in eternal opposition in the bosom of eternal unity. He knew next to nothing about God, and misrepresented him hideously. If God were such as he showed him, it would be the worst possible misfortune to have been created.

Donal had found the passage. It was in The Mask of Anarchy. He read the following stanzas:–

Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words that ye Are, as God has made ye, free.

Be your strong and simple words
Keen to wound as sharpened swords, And wide as targes let them be,
With their shade to cover ye.

And if then the tyrants dare,
Let them ride among you there,
Slash, and stab, and maim, and hew– What they like, that let them do.

With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise, Look upon them as they slay,
Till their rage has died away.

And that slaughter to the Nation
Shall steam up like inspiration, Eloquent, oracular–
A volcano heard afar.

Ending, the reader turned to the listener. But the listener had understood little of the meaning, and less of the spirit. He hated opposition to the powers on the part of any below himself, yet scorned the idea of submitting to persecution.

“What think you of that, sir?” asked Donal.

“Sheer nonsense!” answered the minister. “Where would Scotland be now but for resistance?”

“There’s more than one way of resisting, though,” returned Donal. “Enduring evil was the Lord’s way. I don’t know about Scotland, but I fancy there would be more Christians, and of a better stamp, in the world, if that had been the mode of resistance always adopted by those that called themselves such. Anyhow it was his way.”

“Shelley’s, you mean!”

“I don’t mean Shelley’s, I mean Christ’s. In spirit Shelley was far nearer the truth than those who made him despise the very name of Christianity without knowing what it really was. But God will give every man fair play.”

“Young man!” said the minister, with an assumption of great solemnity and no less authority, “I am bound to warn you that you are in a state of rebellion against God, and he will not be mocked. Good morning!”

Donal sat down on the roadside–he would let the minister have a good start of him–took again his shabby little volume, held more talk with the book-embodied spirit of Shelley, and saw more and more clearly how he was misled in his every notion of Christianity, and how different those who gave him his notions must have been from the evangelists and apostles. He saw in the poet a boyish nature striving after liberty, with scarce a notion of what liberty really was: he knew nothing of the law of liberty–oneness with the will of our existence, which would have us free with its own freedom.

When the clergyman was long out of sight he rose and went on, and soon came to a bridge by which he crossed the river. Then on he went through the cultivated plain, his spirits never flagging. He was a pilgrim on his way to his divine fate!



The night began to descend and he to be weary, and look about him for a place of repose. But there was a long twilight before him, and it was warm.

For some time the road had been ascending, and by and by he found himself on a bare moor, among heather not yet in bloom, and a forest of bracken. Here was a great, beautiful chamber for him! and what better bed than God’s heather! what better canopy than God’s high, star-studded night, with its airy curtains of dusky darkness! Was it not in this very chamber that Jacob had his vision of the mighty stair leading up to the gate of heaven! Was it not under such a roof Jesus spent his last nights on the earth! For comfort and protection he sought no human shelter, but went out into his Father’s house–out under his Father’s heaven! The small and narrow were not to him the safe, but the wide and open. Thick walls cover men from the enemies they fear; the Lord sought space. There the angels come and go more freely than where roofs gather distrust. If ever we hear a far-off rumour of angel-visit, it is not from some solitary plain with lonely children?

Donal walked along the high table-land till he was weary, and rest looked blissful. Then he turned aside from the rough track into the heather and bracken. When he came to a little dry hollow, with a yet thicker growth of heather, its tops almost close as those of his bed at his father’s cottage, he sought no further. Taking his knife, he cut a quantity of heather and ferns, and heaped it on the top of the thickest bush; then creeping in between the cut and the growing, he cleared the former from his face that he might see the worlds over him, and putting his knapsack under his head, fell fast asleep.

When he woke not even the shadow of a dream lingered to let him know what he had been dreaming. He woke with such a clear mind, such an immediate uplifting of the soul, that it seemed to him no less than to Jacob that he must have slept at the foot of the heavenly stair. The wind came round him like the stuff of thought unshaped, and every breath he drew seemed like God breathing afresh into his nostrils the breath of life. Who knows what the thing we call air is? We know about it, but it we do not know. The sun shone as if smiling at the self-importance of the sulky darkness he had driven away, and the world seemed content with a heavenly content. So fresh was Donal’s sense that he felt as if his sleep within and the wind without had been washing him all the night. So peaceful, so blissful was his heart that it longed to share its bliss; but there was no one within sight, and he set out again on his journey.

He had not gone far when he came to a dip in the moorland–a round hollow, with a cottage of turf in the middle of it, from whose chimney came a little smoke: there too the day was begun! He was glad he had not seen it before, for then he might have missed the repose of the open night. At the door stood a little girl in a blue frock. She saw him, and ran in. He went down and drew near to the door. It stood wide open, and he could not help seeing in.

A man sat at the table in the middle of the floor, his forehead on his hand. Donal did not see his face. He seemed waiting, like his father for the Book, while his mother got it from the top of the wall. He stepped over the threshold, and in the simplicity of his heart, said:–

“Ye’ll be gaein’ to hae worship!”

“Na, na!” returned the man, raising his head, and taking a brief, hard stare at his visitor; “we dinna set up for prayin’ fowk i’ this hoose.” We ley that to them ‘at kens what they hae to be thankfu’ for.”

“I made a mistak,” said Donal. “I thoucht ye micht hae been gaein’ to say gude mornin’ to yer makker, an’ wad hae likit to j’in wi’ ye; for I kenna what I haena to be thankfu’ for. Guid day to ye.”

“Ye can bide an’ tak yer parritch gien ye like.”

“Ow, na, I thank ye. Ye micht think I cam for the parritch, an’ no for the prayers. I like as ill to be coontit a hypocrite as gien I war ane.”

“Ye can bide an’ hae worship wi’ ‘s, gien ye tak the buik yersel’.”

“I canna lead whaur ‘s nane to follow. Na; I’ll du better on the muir my lane.”

But the gudewife was a religions woman after her fashion–who can be after any one else’s? She came with a bible in her hand, and silently laid it on the table. Donal had never yet prayed aloud except in a murmur by himself on the hill, but, thus invited, could not refuse. He read a psalm of trouble, breaking into hope at the close, then spoke as follows:–

“Freens, I’m but yoong, as ye see, an’ never afore daured open my moo i’ sic fashion, but it comes to me to speyk, an’ wi’ yer leave speyk I wull. I canna help thinkin’ the gudeman ‘s i’ some trible–siclike, maybe, as King Dawvid whan he made the psalm I hae been readin’ i’ yer hearin’. Ye observt hoo it began like a stormy mornin’, but ye h’ard hoo it changed or a’ was dune. The sun comes oot bonny i’ the en’, an’ ye hear the birds beginnin’ to sing, tellin’ Natur’ to gie ower her greitin’. An’ what brings the guid man til’s senses, div ye think? What but jist the thoucht o’ him ‘at made him, him ‘at cares aboot him, him ‘at maun come to ill himsel’ ‘afore he lat onything he made come to ill. Sir, lat’s gang doon upo’ oor knees, an’ commit the keepin’ o’ oor sowls to him as til a faithfu’ creator, wha winna miss his pairt ‘atween him an’ hiz.”

They went down on their knees, and Donal said,

“O Lord, oor ain father an’ saviour, the day ye hae sent ‘s has arrived bonny an’ gran’, an’ we bless ye for sen’in’ ‘t; but eh, oor father, we need mair the licht that shines i’ the darker place. We need the dawn o’ a spiritual day inside ‘s, or the bonny day ootside winna gang for muckle. Lord, oor micht, speyk a word o’ peacefu’ recall to ony dog o’ thine ‘at may be worryin’ at the hert o’ ony sheep o’ thine ‘at’s run awa; but dinna ca’ him back sae as to lea’ the puir sheep ‘ahint him; fess back dog an’ lamb thegither, O Lord. Haud ‘s a’ frae ill, an’ guide ‘s a’ to guid, an’ oor mornin’ prayer ‘s ower. Amen.”

They rose from their knees, and sat silent for a moment. Then the guidwife put the pot on the fire with the water for the porridge. But Donal rose, and walked out of the cottage, half wondering at himself that he had dared as he had, yet feeling he had done but the most natural thing in the world.

“Hoo a body ‘s to win throuw the day wantin’ the lord o’ the day an’ the hoor an’ the minute, ‘s ‘ayont me!” he said to himself, and hastened away.

Ere noon the blue line of the far ocean rose on the horizon.



Donal was queer, some of my readers will think, and I admit it; for the man who regards the affairs of life from any other point than his own greedy self, must be queer indeed in the eyes of all who are slaves to their imagined necessities and undisputed desires.

It was evening when he drew nigh the place whither he had directed his steps–a little country town, not far from a famous seat of learning: there he would make inquiry before going further. The minister of his parish knew the minister of Auchars, and had given him a letter of introduction. The country around had not a few dwellings of distinction, and at one or another of these might be children in want of a tutor.

The sun was setting over the hills behind him as he entered the little town. At first it looked but a village, for on the outskirts, through which the king’s highway led, were chiefly thatched cottages, with here and there a slated house of one story and an attic; but presently began to appear houses of larger size–few of them, however, of more than two stories. Most of them looked as if they had a long and not very happy history. All at once he found himself in a street, partly of quaint gables with corbel steps; they called them here corbie-steps, in allusion, perhaps, to the raven sent out by Noah, for which lazy bird the children regarded these as places to rest. There were two or three curious gateways in it with some attempt at decoration, and one house with the pepperpot turrets which Scotish architecture has borrowed from the French chateau. The heart of the town was a yet narrower, close-built street, with several short closes and wynds opening out of it–all of which had ancient looking houses. There were shops not a few, but their windows were those of dwellings, as the upper parts of their buildings mostly were. In those shops was as good a supply of the necessities of life as in a great town, and cheaper. You could not get a coat so well cut, nor a pair of shoes to fit you so tight without hurting, but you could get first-rate work. The streets were unevenly paved with round, water-worn stones: Donal was not sorry that he had not to walk far upon them.

The setting sun sent his shadow before him as he entered the place. He kept the middle of the street, looking on this side and that for the hostelry whither he had despatched his chest before leaving home. A gloomy building, apparently uninhabited, drew his attention, and sent a strange thrill through him as his eyes fell upon it. It was of three low stories, the windows defended by iron stanchions, the door studded with great knobs of iron. A little way beyond he caught sight of the sign he was in search of. It swung in front of an old-fashioned, dingy building, with much of the old-world look that pervaded the town. The last red rays of the sun were upon it, lighting up a sorely faded coat of arms. The supporters, two red horses on their hind legs, were all of it he could make out. The crest above suggested a skate, but could hardly have been intended for one. A greedy-eyed man stood in the doorway, his hands in his trouser-pockets. He looked with contemptuous scrutiny at the bare-footed lad approaching him. He had black hair and black eyes; his nose looked as if a heavy finger had settled upon its point, and pressed it downwards: its nostrils swelled wide beyond their base; underneath was a big mouth with a good set of teeth, and a strong upturning chin–an ambitious and greedy face. But ambition is a form of greed.

“A fine day, landlord!” said Donal.

“Ay,” answered the man, without changing the posture of one taking his ease against his own door-post, or removing his hands from his pockets, but looking Donal up and down with conscious superiority, then resting his eyes on the bare feet and upturned trousers.

“This’ll be the Morven Arms, I’m thinkin’?” said Donal.

“It taksna muckle thoucht to think that,” returned the inn-keeper, “whan there they hing!”

“Ay,” rejoined Donal, glancing up; “there is something there–an’ it’s airms I doobtna; but it’s no a’body has the preevilege o’ a knowledge o’ heraldry like yersel’, lan’lord! I’m b’un’ to confess, for what I ken they micht be the airms o’ ony ane o’ ten score Scots faimilies.”

There was one weapon with which John Glumm was assailable, and that was ridicule: with all his self-sufficiency he stood in terror of it–and the more covert the ridicule, so long as he suspected it, the more he resented as well as dreaded it. He stepped into the street, and taking a hand from a pocket, pointed up to the sign.

“See til’t!” he said. “Dinna ye see the twa reid horse?”

“Ay,” answered Donal; “I see them weel eneuch, but I’m nane the wiser nor gien they war twa reid whauls.–Man,” he went on, turning sharp round upon the fellow, “ye’re no cawpable o’ conceivin’ the extent o’ my ignorance! It’s as rampant as the reid horse upo’ your sign! I’ll yield to naebody i’ the amoont o’ things I dinna ken!”

The man stared at him for a moment.

“I s’ warran’,” he said, “ye ken mair nor ye care to lat on!”

“An’ what may that be ower the heid o’ them?–A crest, ca’ ye ‘t?” said Donal.

“It’s a base pearl-beset,” answered the landlord.

He had not a notion of what a base meant, or pearl-beset, yet prided himself on his knowledge of the words.

“Eh,” returned Donal, “I took it for a skate!”

“A skate!” repeated the landlord with offended sneer, and turned towards the house.

“I was thinkin’ to put up wi’ ye the nicht, gien ye could accommodate me at a rizzonable rate,” said Donal.

“I dinna ken,” replied Glumm, hesitating, with his back to him, between unwillingness to lose a penny, and resentment at the supposed badinage, which was indeed nothing but humour; “what wad ye ca’ rizzonable?”

“I wadna grudge a saxpence for my bed; a shillin’ I wad,” answered Donal.

“Weel, ninepence than–for ye seemna owercome wi’ siller.”

“Na,” answered Donal, “I’m no that. Whatever my burden, yon’s no hit. The loss o’ what I hae wad hardly mak me lichter for my race.”

“Ye’re a queer customer!” said the man.

“I’m no sae queer but I hae a kist comin’ by the carrier,” rejoined Donal, “direckit to the Morven Airms. It’ll be here in time doobtless.”

“We’ll see whan it comes,” remarked the landlord, implying the chest was easier invented than believed in.

“The warst o’ ‘t is,” continued Donal, “I canna weel shaw mysel’ wantin’ shune. I hae a pair i’ my kist, an’ anither upo’ my back,–but nane for my feet.”

“There’s sutors enew,” said the innkeeper.

“Weel we’ll see as we gang. I want a word wi’ the minister. Wad ye direc’ me to the manse?”

“He’s frae hame. But it’s o’ sma’ consequence; he disna care aboot tramps, honest man! He winna waur muckle upo’ the likes o’ you.”

The landlord was recovering himself–therefore his insolence.

Donal gave a laugh. Those who are content with what they are, have the less concern about what they seem. The ambitious like to be taken for more than they are, and may well be annoyed when they are taken for less.

“I’m thinkin’ ye wadna waur muckle on a tramp aither!” he said.

“I wad not,” answered Glumm. “It’s the pairt o’ the honest to discoontenance lawlessness.”

“Ye wadna hang the puir craturs, wad ye?” asked Donal.

“I wad hang a wheen mair o’ them.”

“For no haein’ a hoose ower their heads? That’s some hard! What gien ye was ae day to be in want o’ ane yersel’!”

“We’ll bide till the day comes.–But what are ye stan’in’ there for? Are ye comin’ in, or are ye no?”

“It’s a some cauld welcome!” said Donal. “I s’ jist tak a luik aboot afore I mak up my min’. A tramp, ye ken, needsna stan’ upo’ ceremony.”

He turned away and walked further along the street.



At the end of the street he came to a low-arched gateway in the middle of a poor-looking house. Within it sat a little bowed man, cobbling diligently at a boot. The sun had left behind him in the west a heap of golden refuse, and cuttings of rose and purple, which shone right in at the archway, and let him see to work. Here was the very man for Donal! A respectable shoemaker would have disdained to patch up the shoes he carried–especially as the owner was in so much need of them.

“It’s a bonny nicht,” he said.

“Ye may weel mak the remark, sir!” replied the cobbler without looking up, for a critical stitch occupied him. “It’s a balmy nicht.”

“That’s raither a bonny word to put til’t!” returned Donal. “There’s a kin’ o’ an air aboot the place I wad hardly hae thoucht balmy! But troth it’s no the fau’t o’ the nicht!”

“Ye’re richt there also,” returned the cobbler–his use of the conjunction impressing Donal. “Still, the weather has to du wi’ the smell–wi’ the mair or less o’ ‘t, that is. It comes frae a tanneree nearby. It’s no an ill smell to them ‘at’s used til’t; and ye wad hardly believe me, sir, but I smell the clover throuw ‘t. Maybe I’m preejudized, seein’ but for the tan-pits I couldna weel drive my trade; but sittin’ here frae mornin’ to nicht, I get a kin’ o’ a habit o’ luikin’ oot for my blessin’s. To recognize an auld blessin’ ‘s ‘maist better nor to get a new ane. A pair o’ shune weel cobblet ‘s whiles full better nor a new pair.”

“They are that,” said Donal; “but I dinna jist see hoo yer seemile applies.”

“Isna gettin’ on a pair o’ auld weel-kent an’ weel men’it shune, ‘at winna nip yer feet nor yet shochle, like waukin’ up til a blessin’ ye hae been haein’ for years, only ye didna ken ‘t for ane?”

As he spoke, the cobbler lifted a little wizened face and a pair of twinkling eyes to those of the student, revealing a soul as original as his own. He was one of the inwardly inseparable, outwardly far divided company of Christian philosophers, among whom individuality as well as patience is free to work its perfect work. In that glance Donal saw a ripe soul looking out of its tent door, ready to rush into the sunshine of the new life.

He stood for a moment lost in eternal regard of the man. He seemed to have known him for ages. The cobbler looked up again.

“Ye’ll be wantin’ a han’ frae me i’ my ain line, I’m thinkin’!” he said, with a kindly nod towards Donal’s shoeless feet.

“Sma’ doobt!” returned Donal. “I had scarce startit, but was ower far to gang back, whan the sole o’ ae shue cam aff, an’ I had to tramp it wi’ baith my ain.”

“An’ ye thankit the Lord for the auld blessin’ o’ bein’ born an’ broucht up wi’ soles o’ yer ain!”

“To tell the trowth,” answered Donal, “I hae sae mony things to be thankfu’ for, it’s but sma’ won’er I forget mony ane o’ them. But noo, an’ I thank ye for the exhortation, the Lord’s name be praist ‘at he gae me feet fit for gangin’ upo’!”

He took his shoes from his back, and untying the string that bound them, presented the ailing one to the cobbler.

“That’s what we may ca’ deith!” remarked the cobbler, slowly turning the invalided shoe.

“Ay, deith it is,” answered Donal; “it’s a sair divorce o’ sole an’ body.”

“It’s a some auld-farrand joke,” said the cobbler, “but the fun intil a thing doesna weir oot ony mair nor the poetry or the trowth intil’t.”

“Who will say there was no providence in the loss of my shoe-sole!” remarked Donal to himself. “Here I am with a friend already!”

The cobbler was submitting the shoes, first the sickly one, now the sound one, to a thorough scrutiny.

“Ye dinna think them worth men’in’, I doobt!” said Donal, with a touch of anxiety in his tone.

“I never thoucht that whaur the leather wad haud the steik,” replied the cobbler. “But whiles, I confess, I’m jist a wheen tribled to ken hoo to chairge for my wark. It’s no barely to consider the time it’ll tak me to cloot a pair, but what the weirer ‘s like to git oot o’ them. I canna tak mair nor the job ‘ill be worth to the weirer. An’ yet the waur the shune, an’ the less to be made o’ them, the mair time they tak to mak them worth onything ava’!”

“Surely ye oucht to be paid in proportion to your labour.”

“I’ that case I wad whiles hae to say til a puir body ‘at hadna anither pair i’ the warl’, ‘at her ae pair o’ shune wasna worth men’in’; an’ that wad be a hertbrak, an’ sair feet forby, to sic as couldna, like yersel’, sir, gang upo’ the Lord’s ain shune.”

“But hoo mak ye a livin’ that w’y?” suggested Donal.

“Hoots, the maister o’ the trade sees to my wauges!”

“An’ wha may he be?” asked Donal, well foreseeing the answer.

“He was never cobbler himsel’, but he was ance carpenter; an’ noo he’s liftit up to be heid o’ a’ the trades. An’ there’s ae thing he canna bide, an’ that’s close parin’.”

He stopped. But Donal held his peace, waiting; and he went on.

“To them ‘at maks little, for reasons good, by their neebour, he gies the better wauges whan they gang hame. To them ‘at maks a’ ‘at they can, he says, ‘Ye helpit yersel’; help awa’; ye hae yer reward. Only comena near me, for I canna bide ye’.–But aboot thae shune o’ yours, I dinna weel ken! They’re weel eneuch worth duin’ the best I can for them; but the morn’s Sunday, an’ what hae ye to put on?”

“Naething–till my kist comes; an’ that, I doobt, winna be afore Monday, or maybe the day efter.”

“An’ ye winna be able to gang to the kirk!”

“I’m no partic’lar aboot gaein’ to the kirk; but gien I wantit to gang, or gien I thoucht I was b’un’ to gang, think ye I wad bide at hame ’cause I hadna shune to gang in! Wad I fancy the Lord affrontit wi’ the bare feet he made himsel’!”

The cobbler caught up the worst shoe and began upon it at once.

“Ye s’ hae’t, sir,” he said, “gien I sit a’ nicht at it! The ane ‘ll du till Monday. Ye s’ hae’t afore kirk-time, but ye maun come intil the hoose to get it, for the fowk wud be scunnert to see me workin’ upo’ the Sabbath-day. They dinna un’erstan’ ‘at the Maister works Sunday an’ Setterday–an’ his Father as weel!”

“Ye dinna think, than, there’s onything wrang in men’in’ a pair o’ shune on the Sabbath-day?”

“Wrang!–in obeyin’ my Maister, whase is the day, as weel’s a’ the days? They wad fain tak it frae the Son o’ Man, wha’s the lord o’ ‘t, but they canna!”

He looked up over the old shoe with eyes that flashed.

“But then–excuse me,” said Donal, “–why shouldna ye haud yer face til ‘t, an’ work openly, i’ the name o’ God?”

“We’re telt naither to du oor gude warks afore men to be seen o’ them, nor yet to cast oor pearls afore swine. I coont cobblin’ your shoes, sir, a far better wark nor gaein’ to the kirk, an’ I wadna hae’t seen o’ men. Gien I war warkin’ for poverty, it wad be anither thing.”

This last Donal did not understand, but learned afterwards what the cobbler meant: the day being for rest, the next duty to helping another was to rest himself. To work for fear of starving would be to distrust the Father, and act as if man lived by bread alone.

“Whan I think o’ ‘t,” he resumed after a pause, “bein’ Sunday, I’ll tak them hame to ye. Whaur wull ye be?”

“That’s what I wad fain hae ye tell me,” answered Donal. “I had thoucht to put up at the Morven Airms, but there’s something I dinna like aboot the lan’lord. Ken ye ony dacent, clean place, whaur they wad gie me a room to mysel’, an’ no seek mair nor I could pey them?”

“We hae a bit roomie oorsel’s,” said the cobbler, “at the service o’ ony dacent wayfarin’ man that can stan’ the smell, an’ put up wi’ oor w’ys. For peyment, ye can pey what ye think it’s worth. We’re never varra partic’lar.”

“I tak yer offer wi’ thankfu’ness,” answered Donal.

“Weel, gang ye in at that door jist ‘afore ye, an’ ye’ll see the guidwife–there’s nane ither til see. I wad gang wi’ ye mysel’, but I canna, wi’ this shue o’ yours to turn intil a Sunday ane!”

Donal went to the door indicated. It stood wide open; for while the cobbler sat outside at his work, his wife would never shut the door. He knocked, but there came no answer.

“She’s some dull o’ hearin’,” said the cobbler, and called her by his own name for her.

“Doory! Doory!” he said.

“She canna be that deif gien she hears ye!” said Donal; for he spoke hardly louder than usual.

“Whan God gies you a wife, may she be ane to hear yer lichtest word!” answered the cobbler.

Sure enough, he had scarcely finished the sentence, when Doory appeared at the door.

“Did ye cry, guidman?” she said.

“Na, Doory: I canna say I cried; but I spak, an’ ye, as is yer custom, hearkent til my word!–Here’s a believin’ lad–I’m thinkin’ he maun be a gentleman, but I’m no sure; it’s hard for a cobbler to ken a gentleman ‘at comes til him wantin’ shune; but he may be a gentleman for a’ that, an’ there’s nae hurry to ken. He’s welcome to me, gien he be welcome to you. Can ye gie him a nicht’s lodgin’?”

“Weel that! an’ wi’ a’ my hert!” said Doory. “He’s welcome to what we hae.”

Turning, she led the way into the house.



She was a very small, spare woman, in a blue print with little white spots–straight, not bowed like her husband. Otherwise she seemed at first exactly like him. But ere the evening was over, Donal saw there was no featural resemblance between the two faces, and was puzzled to understand how the two expressions came to be so like: as they sat it seemed in the silence as if they were the same person thinking in two shapes and two places.

Following the old woman, Donal ascended a steep and narrow stair, which soon brought him to a landing where was light, coming mainly through green leaves, for the window in the little passage was filled with plants. His guide led him into what seemed to him an enchanting room–homely enough it was, but luxurious compared to what he had been accustomed to. He saw white walls and a brown-hued but clean-swept wooden floor, on which shone a keen-eyed little fire from a low grate. Two easy chairs, covered with some party-coloured striped stuff, stood one on each side of the fire. A kettle was singing on the hob. The white deal-table was set for tea–with a fat brown teapot, and cups of a gorgeous pattern in bronze, that shone in the firelight like red gold. In one of the walls was a box-bed.

“I’ll lat ye see what accommodation we hae at yer service, sir,” said Doory, “an’ gien that’ll shuit ye, ye s’ be welcome.”

So saying, she opened what looked like the door of a cupboard at the side of the fireplace. It disclosed a neat little parlour, with a sweet air in it. The floor was sanded, and so much the cleaner than if it had been carpeted. A small mahogany table, black with age, stood in the middle. On a side-table covered with a cloth of faded green, lay a large family bible; behind it were a few books and a tea-caddy. In the side of the wall opposite the window, was again a box-bed. To the eyes of the shepherd-born lad, it looked the most desirable shelter he had ever seen. He turned to his hostess and said,

“I’m feart it’s ower guid for me. What could ye lat me hae’t for by the week? I wad fain bide wi’ ye, but whaur an’ whan I may get wark I canna tell; sae I maunna tak it ony gait for mair nor a week.”

“Mak yersel’ at ease till the morn be by,” said the old woman. “Ye canna du naething till that be ower. Upo’ the Mononday mornin’ we s’ haud a cooncil thegither–you an’ me an’ my man: I can du naething wantin’ my man; we aye pu’ thegither or no at a’.”

Well content, and with hearty thanks, Donal committed his present fate into the hands of the humble pair, his heaven-sent helpers; and after much washing and brushing, all that was possible to him in the way of dressing, reappeared in the kitchen. Their tea was ready, and the cobbler seated in the window with a book in his hand, leaving for Donal his easy chair.

“I canna tak yer ain cheir frae ye,” said Donal.

“Hoots!” returned the cobbler, “what’s onything oors for but to gie the neeper ‘at stan’s i’ need o’ ‘t.”

“But ye hae had a sair day’s wark!”

“An’ you a sair day’s traivel!”

“But I’m yoong!”

“An’ I’m auld, an’ my labour the nearer ower.”

“But I’m strong!”

“There’s nane the less need ye sud be hauden sae. Sit ye doon, an’ wastena yer backbane. My business is to luik to the bodies o’ men, an’ specially to their puir feet ‘at has to bide the weicht, an’ get sair pressed therein. Life ‘s as hard upo’ the feet o’ a man as upo’ ony pairt o’ ‘m! Whan they gang wrang, there isna muckle to be dune till they be set richt again. I’m sair honourt, I say to mysel’ whiles, to be set ower the feet o’ men. It’s a fine ministration!–full better than bein’ a door-keeper i’ the hoose o’ the Lord! For the feet ‘at gang oot an’ in at it ‘s mair nor the door!”

“The Lord be praist!” said Donal to himself; “there’s mair i’ the warl’ like my father an’ mither!”

He took the seat appointed him.

“Come to the table, Anerew,” said the old woman, “gien sae be ye can pairt wi’ that buik o’ yours, an’ lat yer sowl gie place to yer boady’s richts.–I doobt, sir, gien he wad ait or drink gien I wasna at his elbuck.”

“Doory,” returned her husband, “ye canna deny I gie ye a bit noo an’ than, specially whan I come upo’ onything by ord’nar’ tasty!”

“That ye du, Anerew, or I dinna ken what wud come o’ my sowl ony mair nor o’ your boady! Sae ye see, sir, we’re like John Sprat an’ his wife:–ye’ll ken the bairns’ say aboot them?”

“Ay, fine that,” replied Donal. “Ye couldna weel be better fittit.”

“God grant it!” she said. “But we wad fit better yet gien I had but a wheen mair brains.”

“The Lord kenned what brains ye had whan he broucht ye thegither,” said Donal.

“Ye never uttert a truer word,” replied the cobbler. “Gien the Lord be content wi’ the brains he’s gien ye, an’ I be content wi’ the brains ye gie me, what richt hae ye to be discontentit wi’ the brains ye hae, Doory?–answer me that. But I s’ come to the table.–Wud ye alloo me to speir efter yer name, sir?”

“My name ‘s Donal Grant,” replied Donal.

“I thank ye, sir, an’ I’ll haud it in respec’,” returned the cobbler. “Maister Grant, wull ye ask a blessin’?”

“I wad raither j’in i’ your askin’,” replied Donal.

The cobbler said a little prayer, and then they began to eat–first of oat-cakes, baked by the old woman, then of loaf-breid, as they called it.

“I’m sorry I hae nae jeally or jam to set afore ye, sir,” said Doory, “we’re but semple fowk, ye see–content to haud oor earthly taibernacles in a haibitable condition till we hae notice to quit.”

“It’s a fine thing to ken,” said the cobbler, with a queer look, “‘at whan ye lea’ ‘t, yer hoose fa’s doon, an’ ye haena to think o’ ony damages to pey–forby ‘at gien it laistit ony time efter ye was oot o’ ‘t, there micht be a wheen deevils takin’ up their abode intil ‘t.”

“Hoot, Anerew!” interposed his wife, “there’s naething like that i’ scriptur’!”

“Hoot, Doory!” returned Andrew, “what ken ye aboot what’s no i’ scriptur’? Ye ken a heap, I alloo, aboot what’s in scriptur’, but ye ken little aboot what’s no intil ‘t!”

“Weel, isna ‘t best to ken what’s intil ‘t?”

“‘Ayont a doobt.”

“Weel!” she returned in playful triumph.

Donal saw that he had got hold of a pair of originals: it was a joy to his heart: he was himself an original–one, namely, that lived close to the simplicities of existence!

Andrew Comin, before offering him house-room, would never have asked anyone what he was; but he would have thought it an equal lapse in breeding not to show interest in the history as well as the person of a guest. After a little more talk, so far from commonplace that the common would have found it mirth-provoking, the cobbler said:

“An’ what office may ye haud yersel’, sir, i’ the ministry o’ the temple?”

“I think I un’erstan’ ye,” replied Donal; “my mother says curious things like you.”

“Curious things is whiles no that curious,” remarked Andrew.

A pause following, he resumed:

“Gien onything gie ye reason to prefar waitin’ till ye ken Doory an’ me a bit better, sir,” he said, “coont my ill-mainnert queston no speirt.”

“There’s naething,” answered Donal. “I’ll tell ye onything or a’thing aboot mysel’.”

“Tell what ye wull, sir, an’ keep what ye wull,” said the cobbler.

“I was broucht up a herd-laddie,” proceeded Donal, “an’ whiles a shepherd ane. For mony a year I kent mair aboot the hill-side nor the ingle-neuk. But it’s the same God an’ Father upo’ the hill-side an’ i’ the king’s pailace.”

“An’ ye’ll ken a’ aboot the win’, an’ the cloods, an’ the w’ys o’ God ootside the hoose! I ken something hoo he hauds things gaein’ inside the hoose–in a body’s hert, I mean–in mine an’ Doory’s there, but I ken little aboot the w’y he gars things work ‘at he’s no sae far ben in.”

“Ye dinna surely think God fillsna a’thing?” exclaimed Donal.

“Na, na; I ken better nor that,” answered the cobbler; “but ye maun alloo a tod’s hole ‘s no sae deep as the thro’t o’ a burnin’ m’untain! God himsel’ canna win sae far ben in a shallow place as in a deep place; he canna be sae far ben i’ the win’s, though he gars them du as he likes, as he is, or sud be, i’ your hert an’ mine, sir!”

“I see!” responded Donal. “Could that hae been hoo the Lord had to rebuke the win’s an’ the wawves, as gien they had been gaein’ at their ain free wull, i’stead o’ the wull o’ him ‘at made them an’ set them gaein’?”

“Maybe; but I wud hae to think aboot it ‘afore I answert,” replied the cobbler.

A silence intervened. Then said Andrew, thoughtfully,

“I thoucht, when I saw ye first, ye was maybe a lad frae a shop i’ the muckle toon–or a clerk, as they ca’ them, ‘at sits makin’ up accoonts.”

“Na, I’m no that, I thank God,” said Donal.

“What for thank ye God for that?” asked Andrew. “A’ place is his. I wudna hae ye thank God ye’re no a cobbler like me! Ye micht, though, for it’s little ye can ken o’ the guid o’ the callin’!”

“I’ll tell ye what for,” answered Donal. “I ken weel toon-fowk think it a heap better to hae to du wi’ figures nor wi’ sheep, but I’m no o’ their min’; an’ for ae thing, the sheep’s alive. I could weel fancy an angel a shepherd–an’ he wad coont my father guid company! Troth, he wad want wings an’ airms an’ feet an’ a’ to luik efter the lambs whiles! But gien sic a ane was a clerk in a coontin’ hoose, he wad hae to stow awa the wings; I cannot see what use he wad hae for them there. He micht be an angel a’ the time, an’ that no a fallen ane, but he bude to lay aside something to fit the place.”

“But ye’re no a shepherd the noo?” said the cobbler.

“Na,” replied Donal, “–‘cep’ it be I’m set to luik efter anither grade o’ lamb. A freen’–ye may ‘a’ h’ard his name–sir Gilbert Galbraith–made the beginnin’ o’ a scholar o’ me, an’ noo I hae my degree frae the auld university o’ Inverdaur.”

“Didna I think as muckle!” cried mistress Comin triumphant. “I hadna time to say ‘t to ye, Anerew, but I was sure he was frae the college, an’ that was hoo his feet war sae muckle waur furnisht nor his heid.”

“I hae a pair o’ shune i’ my kist, though–whan that comes!” said Donal, laughing.

“I only houp it winna be ower muckle to win up oor stair!”

“I dinna think it. But we’ll lea’ ‘t i’ the street afore it s’ come ‘atween ‘s!” said Donal. “Gien ye’ll hae me, sae lang’s I’m i’ the toon, I s’ gang nae ither gait.”

“An’ ye’ll doobtless read the Greek like yer mither-tongue?” said the cobbler, with a longing admiration in his tone.

“Na, no like that; but weel eneuch to get guid o’ ‘t.”

“Weel, that’s jist the ae thing I grutch ye–na, no grutch–I’m glaid ye hae’t–but the ae thing I wud fain be a scholar for mysel’! To think I kenna a cheep o’ the word spoken by the Word himsel’!”

“But the letter o’ the word he made little o’ comparet wi’ the speerit!” said Donal.

“Ay, that’s true! an’ yet it’s whaur a man may weel be greedy an’ want to hae a’thing: wha has the speerit wad fain hae the letter tu! But it disna maitter; I s’ set to learnin’ ‘t the first thing whan I gang up the stair–that is, gien it be the Lord’s wull.”

“Hoots!” said his wife, “what wad ye du wi’ Greek up there! I s’ warran’ the fowk there, ay, an’ the maister himsel’, speyks plain Scotch! What for no! What wad they du there wi’ Greek, ‘at a body wad hae to warstle wi’ frae mornin’ to nicht, an’ no mak oot the third pairt o’ ‘t!”

Her husband laughed merrily, but Donal said,

“‘Deed maybe ye’re na sae far wrang, guidwife! I’m thinkin’ there maun be a gran’ mither-tongue there, ‘at ‘ll soop up a’ the lave, an’ be better to un’erstan’ nor a body’s ain–for it’ll be yet mair his ain.”

“Hear til him!” cried the cobbler, with hearty approbation.

“Ye ken,” Donal went on, “a’ the languages o’ the earth cam, or luik as gien they had come, frae ane, though we’re no jist dogsure o’ that. There’s my mither’s ain Gaelic, for enstance: it’s as auld, maybe aulder nor the Greek; onygait, it has mair Greek nor Laitin words intil ‘t, an’ ye ken the Greek ‘s an aulder tongue nor the Laitin. Weel, gien we could work oor w’y back to the auldest grit-gran’mither-tongue o’ a’, I’m thinkin’ it wad come a kin o’ sae easy til ‘s, ‘at, wi’ the impruvt faculties o’ oor h’avenly condition, we micht be able in a feow days to haud communication wi’ ane anither i’ that same, ohn stammert or hummt an’ hawt.”

“But there’s been sic a heap o’ things f’un’ oot sin’ syne, i’ the min’ o’ man, as weel ‘s i’ the warl’ ootside,” said Andrew, “that sic a language wad be mair like a bairn’s tongue nor a mither’s, I’m thinkin’, whan set against a’ ‘at wad be to speyk aboot!”

“Ye’re verra richt there, I dinna doobt. But hoo easy wad it be for ilk ane to bring in the new word he wantit, haein’ eneuch common afore to explain ‘t wi’! Afore lang the language wad hae intil ‘t ilka word ‘at was worth haein’ in ony language ‘at ever was spoken sin’ the toor o’ Babel.”

“Eh, sirs, but it’s dreidfu’ to think o’ haein’ to learn sae muckle!” said the old woman. “I’m ower auld an’ dottlet!”

Her husband laughed again.

“I dinna see what ye hae to lauch at!” she said, laughing too. “Ye’ll be dottlet yersel’ gien ye live lang eneuch!”

“I’m thinkin’,” said Andrew, “but I dinna ken–‘at it maun be a man’s ain wyte gien age maks him dottlet. Gien he’s aye been haudin’ by the trowth, I dinna think he’ll fin’ the trowth, hasna hauden by him.–But what I was lauchin’ at was the thoucht o’ onybody bein’ auld up there. We’ll a’ be yoong there, lass!”

“It sall be as the Lord wulls,” returned his wife.

“It sall. We want nae mair; an’ eh, we want nae less!” responded her husband.

So the evening wore away. The talk was to the very mind of Donal, who never loved wisdom so much as when she appeared in peasant-garb. In that garb he had first known her, and in the form of his mother.

“I won’er,” said Doory at length, “‘at yoong Eppy ‘s no puttin’ in her appearance! I was sure o’ her the nicht: she hasna been near ‘s a’ the week!”

The cobbler turned to Donal to explain. He would not talk of things their guest did not understand; that would be like shutting him out after taking him in!

“Yoong Eppy ‘s a gran’child, sir–the only ane we hae. She’s a weel behavet lass, though ta’en up wi’ the things o’ this warl’ mair nor her grannie an’ me could wuss. She’s in a place no far frae here–no an easy ane, maybe, to gie satisfaction in, but she’s duin’ no that ill.”

“Hoot, Anerew! she’s duin’ jist as well as ony lassie o’ her years could in justice be expeckit,” interposed the grandmother. “It’s seldom the Lord ‘at sets auld heid upo’ yoong shoothers.”

The words were hardly spoken when a light foot was heard coming up the stair.

“–But here she comes to answer for hersel’!” she added cheerily.

The door of the room opened, and a good-looking girl of about eighteen came in.

“Weel, yoong Eppy, hoo ‘s a’ wi’ ye?” said the old man.

The grandmother’s name was Elspeth, the grand-daughter’s had therefore always the prefix.

“Brawly, thank ye, gran’father,” she answered. “Hoo ‘s a’ wi’ yersel’?”

“Ow, weel cobblet!” he replied.

“Sit ye doon,” said the grandmother, “by the spark o’ fire; the nicht ‘s some airy like.”

“Na, grannie, I want nae fire,” said the girl. “I hae run a’ the ro’d to get a glimp’ o’ ye ‘afore the week was oot.”

“Hoo ‘s things gaein’ up at the castel?”

“Ow, sic-like ‘s usual–only the hoosekeeper ‘s some dowy, an’ that puts mair upo’ the lave o’ ‘s: whan she’s weel, she’s no ane to spare hersel’–or ither fowk aither!–I wadna care, gien she wud but lippen til a body!” concluded young Eppy, with a toss of her head.

“We maunna speyk evil o’ dignities, yoong Eppy!” said the cobbler, with a twinkle in his eye.

“Ca’ ye mistress Brookes a dignity, gran’father!” said the girl, with a laugh that was nowise rude.

“I do,” he answered. “Isna she ower ye? Haena ye to du as she tells ye? ‘Atween her an’ you that’s eneuch: she’s ane o’ the dignities spoken o’.”

“I winna dispute it. But, eh, it’s queer wark yon’er!”

“Tak ye care, yoong Eppy! we maun haud oor tongues aboot things committit til oor trust. Ane peyt to serve in a hoose maunna tre’t the affairs o’ that hoose as gien they war her ain.”

“It wad be weel gien a’body about the hoose was as partic’lar as ye wad hae me, gran’father!”

“Hoo’s my lord, lass?”

“Ow, muckle the same–aye up the stair an’ doon the stair the forepairt o’ the nicht, an’ maist inveesible a’ day.”

The girl cast a shy glance now and then at Donal, as if she claimed him on her side, though the older people must be humoured. Donal was not too simple to understand her: he gave her look no reception. Bethinking himself that they might have matters to talk about, he rose, and turning to his hostess, said,

“Wi’ yer leave, gudewife, I wad gang to my bed. I hae traivelt a maitter o’ thirty mile the day upo’ my bare feet.”

“Eh, sir!” she answered, “I oucht to hae considert that!–Come, yoong Eppy, we maun get the gentleman’s bed made up for him.”

With a toss of her pretty head, Eppy followed her grandmother to the next room, casting a glance behind her that seemed to ask what she meant by calling a lad without shoes or stockings a gentleman. Not the less readily or actively, however, did she assist her grandmother in preparing the tired wayfarer’s couch. In a few minutes they returned, and telling him the room was quite ready for him, Doory added a hope that he would sleep as sound as if his own mother had made the bed.

He heard them talking for a while after the door was closed, but the girl soon took her leave. He was just falling asleep in the luxury of conscious repose, when the sound of the cobbler’s hammer for a moment roused him, and he knew the old man was again at work on his behalf. A moment more and he was too fast asleep for any Cyclops’ hammer to wake him.



Notwithstanding his weariness Donal woke early, for he had slept thoroughly. He rose and dressed himself, drew aside the little curtain that shrouded the window, and looked out. It was a lovely morning. His prospect was the curious old main street of the town. The sun that had shone into it was now shining from the other side, but not a shadow of living creature fell upon the rough stones! Yes–there was a cat shooting across them like the culprit he probably was! If there was a garden to the house, he would go and read in the fresh morning air!

He stole softly through the outer room, and down the stair; found the back-door and a water-butt; then a garden consisting of two or three plots of flowers well cared for; and ended his discoveries with a seat surrounded and almost canopied with honeysuckle, where doubtless the cobbler sometimes smoked his pipe! “Why does he not work here rather than in the archway?” thought Donal. But, dearly as he loved flowers and light and the free air of the garden, the old cobbler loved the faces of his kind better. His prayer for forty years had been to be made like his master; and if that prayer was not answered, how was it that, every year he lived, he found himself loving the faces of his fellows more and more? Ever as they passed, instead of interfering with his contemplations, they gave him more and more to think: were these faces, he asked, the symbols of a celestial language in which God talked to him?

Donal sat down, and took his Greek Testament from his pocket. But all at once, brilliant as was the sun, the light of his life went out, and the vision rose of the gray quarry, and the girl turning from him in the wan moonlight. Then swift as thought followed the vision of the women weeping about the forsaken tomb; and with his risen Lord he rose also–into a region far “above the smoke and stir of this dim spot,” a region where life is good even with its sorrow. The man who sees his disappointment beneath him, is more blessed than he who rejoices in fruition. Then prayer awoke, and in the light of that morning of peace he drew nigh the living one, and knew him as the source of his being. Weary with blessedness he leaned against the shadowing honeysuckle, gave a great sigh of content, smiled, wiped his eyes, and was ready for the day and what it should bring. But the bliss went not yet; he sat for a while in the joy of conscious loss in the higher life. With his meditations and feelings mingled now and then a few muffled blows of the cobbler’s hammer: he was once more at work on his disabled shoe.

“Here is a true man!” he thought, “–a Godlike helper of his fellow!”

When the hammer ceased, the cobbler was stitching; when Donal ceased thinking, he went on feeling. Again and again came a little roll of the cobbler’s drum, giving glory to God by doing his will: the sweetest and most acceptable music is that which rises from work a doing; its incense ascends as from the river in its flowing, from the wind in its blowing, from the grass in its growing. All at once he heard the voices of two women in the next garden, close behind him, talking together.

“Eh,” said one, “there’s that godless cratur, An’rew Comin, at his wark again upo’ the Sawbath mornin’!”

“Ay, lass,” answered the other, “I hear him! Eh, but it ‘ll be an ill day for him whan he has to appear afore the jeedge o’ a’! He winna hae his comman’ments broken that gait!”

“Troth, na!” returned the former; “it’ll be a sair sattlin day for him!”

Donal rose, and looking about him, saw two decent, elderly women on the other side of the low stone wall. He was approaching them with the request on his lips to know which of the Lord’s commandments they supposed the cobbler to be breaking, when, seeing that he must have overheard them, they turned their backs and walked away.

And now his hostess, having discovered he was in the garden, came to call him to breakfast–the simplest of meals–porridge, with a cup of tea after it because it was Sunday, and there was danger of sleepiness at the kirk.

“Yer shune ‘s waitin’ ye, sir,” said the cobbler. “Ye’ll fin’ them a better job nor ye expeckit. They’re a better job, onygait, nor I expeckit!”

Donal made haste to put them on, and felt dressed for the Sunday.

“Are ye gaein’ to the kirk the day, Anerew?” asked the old woman, adding, as she turned to their guest, “My man’s raither pecooliar aboot gaein’ to the kirk! Some days he’ll gang three times, an’ some days he winna gang ance!–He kens himsel’ what for!” she added with a smile, whose sweetness confessed that, whatever was the reason, it was to her the best in the world.

“Ay, I’m gaein’ the day: I want to gang wi’ oor new freen’,” he answered.

“I’ll tak him gien ye dinna care to gang,” rejoined his wife.

“Ow, I’ll gang!” he persisted. “It’ll gie’s something to talk aboot, an’ sae ken ane anither better, an’ maybe come a bit nearer ane anither, an’ sae a bit nearer the maister. That’s what we’re here for–comin’ an’ gaein’.”

“As ye please, Anerew! What’s richt to you’s aye richt to me. O’ my ain sel’ I wad be doobtfu’ o’ sic a rizzon for gaein’ to the kirk–to get something to speyk aboot.”

“It’s a gude rizzon whaur ye haena a better,” he answered. “It’s aften I get at the kirk naething but what angers me–lees an’ lees agen my Lord an’ my God. But whan there’s ane to talk it ower wi’, ane ‘at has some care for God as weel’s for himsel’, there’s some guid sure to come oot o’ ‘t–some revelation o’ the real richteousness–no what fowk ‘at gangs by the ministers ca’s richteousness.–Is yer shune comfortable to yer feet, sir?”

“Ay, that they are! an’ I thank ye: they’re full better nor new.”

“Weel, we winna hae worship this mornin’; whan ye gang to the kirk it’s like aitin’ mair nor’s guid for ye.”

“Hoots, Anerew! ye dinna think a body can hae ower muckle o’ the word!” said his wife, anxious as to the impression he might make on Donal.

“Ow na, gien a body tak it in, an’ disgeist it! But it’s no a bonny thing to hae the word stickin’ about yer moo’, an’ baggin’ oot yer pooches, no to say lyin’ cauld upo’ yer stamack, an’ it for the life o’ men. The less ye tak abune what ye put in practice the better; an’ gien the thing said hae naething to du wi’ practice, the less ye heed it the better.–Gien ye hae dune yer brakfast, sir, we’ll gang–no ‘at it’s freely kirk-time yet, but the Sabbath ‘s ‘maist the only day I get a bit o’ a walk, an’ gien ye hae nae objection til a turn aboot the Lord’s muckle hoose afore we gang intil his little ane–we ca’ ‘t his, but I doobt it–I’ll be ready in a meenute.”

Donal willingly agreed, and the cobbler, already clothed in part of his Sunday best, a pair of corduroy trousers of a mouse colour, having indued an ancient tail-coat of blue with gilt buttons, they set out together; and for their conversation, it was just the same as it would have been any other day: where every day is not the Lord’s, the Sunday is his least of all.

They left the town, and were soon walking in meadows through which ran a clear river, shining and speedy in the morning sun. Its banks were largely used for bleaching, and the long lines of white in the lovely green of the natural grass were pleasant both to eye and mind. All about, the rooks were feeding in peace, knowing their freedom that day from the persecution to which, like all other doers of good, they are in general exposed. Beyond the stream lay a level plain stretching towards the sea, divided into numberless fields, and dotted with farmhouses and hamlets. On the side where the friends were walking, the ground was more broken, rising in places into small hills, many of them wooded. Half a mile away was one of a conical shape, on whose top towered a castle. Old and gray and sullen, it lifted itself from the foliage around it like a great rock from a summer sea, and stood out against the clear blue sky of the June morning. The hill was covered with wood, mostly rather young, but at the bottom were some ancient firs and beeches. At the top, round the base of the castle, the trees were chiefly delicate birches with moonlight skin, and feathery larches not thriving over well.

“What ca’ they yon castel?” questioned Donal. “It maun be a place o’ some importance!”

“They maistly ca’ ‘t jist the castel,” answered the cobbler. “Its auld name ‘s Graham’s Grip. It’s lord Morven’s place, an’ they ca’ ‘t Castel Graham: the faimily-name ‘s Graham, ye ken. They ca, themsel’s Graeme-Graham–jist twa w’ys o’ spellin’ the name putten thegither. The last lord, no upo’ the main brainch, they tell me, spelled his name wi’ the diphthong, an’ wasna willin’ to gie’t up a’thegither–sae tuik the twa o’ them. You ‘s whaur yoong Eppy ‘s at service.–An’ that min’s me, sir, ye haena tellt me yet what kin’ o’ a place ye wad hae yersel.’ It’s no ‘at a puir body like me can help, but it’s aye weel to lat fowk ken what ye’re efter. A word gangs speirin’ lang efter it’s oot o’ sicht–an’ the answer may come frae far. The Lord whiles brings aboot things i’ the maist oonlikly fashion.”

“I’m ready for onything I’m fit to do,” said Donal; “but I hae had what’s ca’d a good education–though I hae learned mair frae my ain needs than frae a’ my buiks; sae i wad raither till the human than the earthly soil, takin’ mair interest i’ the schoolmaister’s craps than i’ the fairmer’s.”

“Wad ye objec’ to maister ane by himsel’–or maybe twa?”

“Na, surely–gien I saw mysel’ fit.”

“Eppy mentiont last nicht ‘at there was word aboot the castel o’ a tutor for the yoongest. Hae ye ony w’y o’ approachin’ the place?”

“Not till the minister comes home,” answered Donal. “I have a letter to him.”

“He’ll be back by the middle o’ the week, I hear them say.”

“Can you tell me anything about the people at the castle?” asked Donal.

“I could,” answered Andrew; “but some things is better f’un’ oot nor kenned ‘afore han’. Ilka place has its ain shape, an’ maist things has to hae some parin’ to gar them fit. That’s what I tell yoong Eppy–mony ‘s the time!”

Here came a pause, and when Andrew spoke again, it seemed on a new line.

“Did it ever occur to ye, sir,” he said, “‘at maybe deith micht be the first waukin’ to some fowk?”

“It has occurrt to me,” answered Donal; “but mony things come intil a body’s heid ‘at he’s no able to think oot! They maun lie an’ bide their time.”

“Lat nane o’ the lovers o’ law an’ letter perswaud ye the Lord wadna hae ye think–though nane but him ‘at obeys can think wi’ safety. We maun do first the thing ‘at we ken, an’ syne we may think aboot the thing ‘at we dinna ken. I fancy ‘at whiles the Lord wadna say a thing jist no to stop fowk thinkin’ aboot it. He was aye at gettin’ them to mak use o’ the can’le o’ the Lord. It’s my belief the main obstacles to the growth o’ the kingdom are first the oonbelief o’ believers, an’ syne the w’y ‘at they lay doon the law. ‘Afore they hae learnt the rudimen’s o’ the trowth themsel’s, they begin to lay the grievous burden o’ their dullness an’ ill-conceived notions o’ holy things upo’ the min’s an’ consciences o’ their neebours, fain, ye wad think, to haud them frae growin’ ony mair nor themsel’s. Eh, man, but the Lord ‘s won’erfu’! Ye may daur an’ daur, an’ no come i’ sicht o’ ‘im!”

The church stood a little way out of the town, in a churchyard overgrown with grass, which the wind blew like a field of corn. Many of the stones were out of sight in it. The church, a relic of old catholic days, rose out of it like one that had taken to growing and so got the better of his ills. They walked into the musty, dingy, brown-atmosphered house. The cobbler led the way to a humble place behind a pillar; there Doory was seated waiting them. The service was not so dreary to Donal as usual; the sermon had some thought in it; and his heart was drawn to a man who would say he did not understand.

“Yon was a fine discoorse,” remarked the cobbler as they went homeward.

Donal saw nothing fine in it, but his experience was not so wide as the cobbler’s: to him the discourse had hinted many things which had not occurred to Donal.

Some people demand from the householder none but new things, others none but old; whereas we need in truth of all the sorts in his treasury.

“I haena a doobt it was a’ richt an’ as ye say, Anerew,” said his wife; “but for mysel’ I could mak naither heid nor tail o’ ‘t.”

“I saidna, Doory, it was a’ richt,” returned her husband; “that would be to say a heap for onything human! but it was a guid honest sermon.”

“What was yon ‘at he said aboot the mirracles no bein’ teeps?” asked his wife.

“It was God’s trowth ‘at,” he said.”

“Gie me a share o’ the same I beg o’ ye, Anerew Comin.”

“What the man said was this–‘at the sea ‘at Peter gaed oot upo’ wasna first an’ foremost to be luikit upon as a teep o’ the inward an’ spiritual troubles o’ the believer, still less o’ the troubles o’ the church o’ Christ. The Lord deals wi’ fac’s nane the less ‘at they canna help bein’ teeps. Here was terrible fac’s to Peter. Here was angry watter an’ roarin’ win’; here was danger an’ fear: the man had to trust or gang doon. Gien the hoose be on fire we maun trust; gien the watter gang ower oor heids we maun trust; gien the horse rin awa’, we maun trust. Him ‘at canna trust in siclike conditions, I wadna gie a plack for ony ither kin’ o’ faith he may hae. God ‘s nae a mere thoucht i’ the warl’ o’ thoucht, but a leevin’ pooer in a’ warl’s alike. Him ‘at gangs to God wi’ a sair heid ‘ill the suner gang til ‘im wi’ a sair hert; an’ them ‘at thinksna he cares for the pains o’ their bodies ‘ill ill believe he cares for the doobts an’ perplexities o’ their inquirin’ speerits. To my min’ he spak the best o’ sense!”

“I didna hear him say onything like that!” said Donal.

“Did ye no? Weel, I thoucht it cam frae him to me!”

“Maybe I wasna giein’ the best heed,” said Donal. “But what ye say is as true as the sun. It stan’s to rizzon.”

The day passed in pleasure and quiet. Donal had found another father and mother.



The next day, after breakfast, Donal said to his host–

“Noo I maun pey ye for my shune, for gien I dinna pey at ance, I canna tell hoo muckle to ca’ my ain, an’ what I hae to gang by till I get mair.”

“Na, na,” returned the cobbler. “There’s jist ae preejudice I hae left concernin’ the Sawbath-day; I firmly believe it a preejudice, for siller ‘s the Lord’s tu, but I canna win ower ‘t: I canna bring mysel’ to tak siller for ony wark dune upo’ ‘t! Sae ye maun jist be content to lat that flee stick to the Lord’s wa’. Ye’ll du as muckle for me some day!”

“There’s naething left me but to thank ye,” said Donal. “There’s the ludgin’ an’ the boord, though!–I maun ken aboot them ‘afore we gang farther.”

“They’re nane o’ my business,” replied Andrew. “I lea’ a’ that to the gudewife, an’ I coonsel ye to du the same. She’s a capital manager, an’ winna chairge ye ower muckle.”

Donal could but yield, and presently went out for a stroll.

He wandered along the bank of the river till he came to the foot of the hill on which stood the castle. Seeing a gate, he approached it, and finding it open went in. A slow-ascending drive went through the trees, round and round the hill. He followed it a little way. An aromatic air now blew and now paused as he went. The trees seemed climbing up to attack the fortress above, which he could not see. When he had gone a few yards out of sight of the gate, he threw himself down among them, and fell into a reverie. The ancient time arose before him, when, without a tree to cover the approach of an enemy, the castle rose defiant and bare in its strength, like an athlete stripped for the fight, and the little town huddled close under its protection. What wars had there blustered, what rumours blown, what fears whispered, what sorrows moaned! But were there not now just as many evils as then? Let the world improve as it may, the deeper ill only breaks out afresh in new forms. Time itself, the staring, vacant, unlovely time, is to many the one dread foe. Others have a house empty and garnished, in which neither Love nor Hope dwells. A self, with no God to protect from it, a self unrulable, insatiable, makes of existence to some the hell called madness. Godless man is a horror of the unfinished–a hopeless necessity for the unattainable! The most discontented are those who have all the truthless heart desires.

Thoughts like these were coming and going in Donal’s brain, when he heard a slight sound somewhere near him–the lightest of sounds indeed–the turning of the leaf of a book. He raised his head and looked, but could see no one. At last, up through the tree-boles on the slope of the hill, he caught the shine of something white: it was the hand that held an open book. He took it for the hand of a lady. The trunk of a large tree hid the reclining form. He would go back! There was the lovely cloth-striped meadow to lie in!

He rose quietly, but not quietly enough to steal away. From behind the tree, a young man, rather tall and slender, rose and came towards him. Donal stood to receive him.

“I presume you are unaware that these grounds are not open to the public!” he said, not without a touch of haughtiness.

“I beg your pardon, sir,” said Donal. “I found the gate open, and the shade of the trees was enticing.”

“It is of no consequence,” returned the youth, now with some condescension; “only my father is apt to be annoyed if he sees any one–“

He was interrupted by a cry from farther up the hill–

“Oh, there you are, Percy!”

“And there you are, Davie!” returned the youth kindly.

A boy of about ten came towards them precipitately, jumping stumps, and darting between stems.

“Take care, take care, Davie!” cried the other: “you may slip on a root and fall!”

“Oh, I know better than that!–But you are engaged!”

“Not in the least. Come along.”

Donal lingered: the youth had not finish his speech!

“I went to Arkie,” said the boy, “but she couldn’t help me. I can’t make sense of this! I wouldn’t care if it wasn’t a story.”

He had an old folio under one arm, with a finger of the other hand in its leaves.

“It is a curious taste for a child!” said the youth, turning to