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David Elginbrod by George MacDonald

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ever there be an excuse for falling asleep out of bed, surely it is
when stretched at full length upon heather in bloom. When he awoke,
the last of the sunset was dying away; and between him and the
sunset sat Margaret, book in hand, waiting apparently for his
waking. He lay still for a few minutes, to come to himself before
she should see he was awake. But she rose at the moment, and
drawing near very quietly, looked down upon him with her sweet
sunset face, to see whether or not he was beginning to rouse, for
she feared to let him lie much longer after sundown. Finding him
awake, she drew back again without a word, and sat down as before
with her book. At length he rose, and, approaching her, said--

"Well, Margaret, what book are you at now?"

"Dr. Abercrombie, sir," replied Margaret.

"How do you like it?"

"Verra weel for some things. It makes a body think; but not
a'thegither as I like to think either."

It will be observed that Margaret's speech had begun to improve,
that is, to be more like English.

"What is the matter with it?"

"Weel, ye see, sir, it taks a body a' to bits like, and never pits
them together again. An' it seems to me that a body's min' or soul,
or whatever it may be called--but it's jist a body's ain sel'--can
no more be ta'en to pieces like, than you could tak' that red licht
there oot o' the blue, or the haill sunset oot o' the heavens an'
earth. It may be a' verra weel, Mr. Sutherland, but oh! it's no
like this!"

And Margaret looked around her from the hill-top, and then up into
the heavens, where the stars were beginning to crack the blue with
their thin, steely sparkle.

"It seems to me to tak' a' the poetry oot o' us, Mr. Sutherland."

"Well, well," said Hugh, with a smile, "you must just go to
Wordsworth to put it in again; or to set you again up after Dr.
Abercrombie has demolished you."

"Na, na, sir, he sanna demolish me: nor I winna trouble Mr.
Wordsworth to put the poetry into me again. A' the power on earth
shanna tak' that oot o' me, gin it be God's will; for it's his ain
gift, Mr. Sutherland, ye ken."

"Of course, of course," replied Hugh, who very likely thought this
too serious a way of speaking of poetry, and therefore, perhaps,
rather an irreverent way of speaking of God; for he saw neither the
divine in poetry, nor the human in God. Could he be said to believe
that God made man, when he did not believe that God created
poetry--and yet loved it as he did? It was to him only a grand
invention of humanity in its loftiest development. In this
development, then, he must have considered humanity as farthest from
its origin; and God as the creator of savages, caring nothing for
poets or their work.

They turned, as by common consent, to go down the hill together.

"Shall I take charge of the offending volume? You will not care to
finish it, I fear," said Hugh.

"No, sir, if you please. I never like to leave onything unfinished.
I'll read ilka word in't. I fancy the thing 'at sets me against
it, is mostly this; that, readin' it alang wi' Euclid, I canna help
aye thinkin' o' my ain min' as gin it were in some geometrical shape
or ither, whiles ane an' whiles anither; and syne I try to draw
lines an' separate this power frae that power, the memory frae the
jeedgement, an' the imagination frae the rizzon; an' syne I try to
pit them a' thegither again in their relations to ane anither. And
this aye takes the shape o' some proposition or ither, generally i'
the second beuk. It near-han' dazes me whiles. I fancy gin' I
understood the pairts o' the sphere, it would be mair to the
purpose; but I wat I wish I were clear o't a'thegither."

Hugh had had some experiences of a similar kind himself, though not
at all to the same extent. He could therefore understand her.

"You must just try to keep the things altogether apart," said he,
"and not think of the two sciences at once."

"But I canna help it," she replied. "I suppose you can, sir, because
ye're a man. My father can understan' things ten times better nor
me an' my mother. But nae sooner do I begin to read and think about
it, than up comes ane o' thae parallelograms, an' nothing will
driv't oot o' my head again, but a verse or twa o' Coleridge or

Hugh immediately began to repeat the first poem of the latter that
occurred to him:

"I wandered lonely as a cloud."

She listened, walking along with her eyes fixed on the ground; and
when he had finished, gave a sigh of delight and relief--all the
comment she uttered. She seemed never to find it necessary to say
what she felt; least of all when the feeling was a pleasant one; for
then it was enough for itself. This was only the second time since
their acquaintance, that she had spoken of her feelings at all; and
in this case they were of a purely intellectual origin. It is to be
observed, however, that in both cases she had taken pains to explain
thoroughly what she meant, as far as she was able.

It was dark before they reached home, at least as dark as it ever is
at this season of the year in the north. They found David looking
out with some slight anxiety for his daughter's return, for she was
seldom out so late as this. In nothing could the true relation
between them have been more evident than in the entire absence from
her manner of any embarrassment when she met her father. She went
up to him and told him all about finding Mr. Sutherland asleep on
the hill, and waiting beside him till he woke, that she might walk
home with him. Her father seemed perfectly content with an
explanation which he had not sought, and, turning to Hugh, said,

"Weel, no to be troublesome, Mr. Sutherlan', ye maun gie the auld
man a turn as weel as the young lass. We didna expec ye the nicht,
but I'm sair puzzled wi' a sma' eneuch matter on my sklet in there.
Will you no come in and gie me a lift?"

"With all my heart," said Sutherland. So there were five lessons in
that week.

When Hugh entered the cottage he had a fine sprig of heather in his
hand, which he laid on the table.

He had the weakness of being proud of small discoveries--the tinier
the better; and was always sharpening his senses, as well as his
intellect, to a fine point, in order to make them. I fear that by
these means he shut out some great ones, which could not enter
during such a concentration of the faculties. He would stand
listening to the sound of goose-feet upon the road, and watch how
those webs laid hold of the earth like a hand. He would struggle to
enter into their feelings in folding their wings properly on their
backs. He would calculate, on chemical and arithmetical grounds,
whether one might not hear the nocturnal growth of plants in the
tropics. He was quite elated by the discovery, as he considered it,

that Shakspeare named his two officers of the watch, Dogberry and
Verjuice; the poisonous Dogberry, and the acid liquor of green
fruits, affording suitable names for the stupidly innocuous
constables, in a play the very essence of which is Much Ado About
Nothing. Another of his discoveries he had, during their last
lesson, unfolded to David, who had certainly contemplated it with
interest. It was, that the original forms of the Arabic numerals
were these: {original text has a picture}

the number for which each figure stands being indicated by the
number of straight lines employed in forming that numeral. I fear
the comparative anatomy of figures gives no countenance to the
discovery which Hugh flattered himself he had made.

After he had helped David out of his difficulty, he took up the
heather, and stripping off the bells, shook them in his hand at
Margaret's ear. A half smile, like the moonlight of laughter,
dawned on her face; and she listened with something of the same
expression with which a child listens to the message from the sea,
inclosed in a twisted shell. He did the same at David's ear next.

"Eh, man! that's a bonny wee soun'! It's jist like sma'
sheep-bells--fairy-sheep, I reckon, Maggy, my doo."

"Lat me hearken as weel," said Janet.

Hugh obeyed. She laughed.

"It's naething but a reestlin'. I wad raither hear the sheep
baain', or the kye routin'."

"Eh, Mr. Sutherlan'! but, ye hae a gleg ee an' a sharp lug. Weel,
the warld's fu' o' bonny sichts and souns, doon to the verra
sma'est. The Lord lats naething gang. I wadna wonner noo but there
micht be thousands sic like, ower sma' a'thegither for human ears,
jist as we ken there are creatures as perfect in beowty as ony we
see, but far ower sma' for our een wintin' the glass. But for my
pairt, I aye like to see a heap o' things at ance, an' tak' them a'
in thegither, an' see them playin' into ane anither's han' like. I
was jist thinkin', as I came hame the nicht in the sinset, hoo it
wad hae been naewise sae complete, wi' a' its red an' gowd an'
green, gin it hadna been for the cauld blue east ahint it, wi' the
twa-three shiverin' starnies leukin' through't. An' doubtless the
warld to come 'ill be a' the warmer to them 'at hadna ower muckle
happin here. But I'm jist haverin', clean haverin', Mr.
Sutherlan'," concluded David, with a smile of apologetic humour.

"I suppose you could easily believe with Plato, David, that the
planets make a grand choral music as they roll about the heavens,
only that as some sounds are too small, so that is too loud for us
to hear."

"I cud weel believe that," was David's unhesitating answer.
Margaret looked as if she not only could believe it, but would be
delighted to know that it was true. Neither Janet nor Hugh gave any
indication of feeling on the matter.



So a small seed that in the earth lies hid
And dies, reviving bursts her cloddy side,
Adorned with yellow locks, of new is born,
And doth become a mother great with corn,
Of grains brings hundreds with it, which when old
Enrich the furrows with a sea of gold.

SIR WILLIAM DRUMMOND.--Hymn of the Resurrection.

Hugh had watched the green corn grow, and ear, and turn dim; then
brighten to yellow, and ripen at last under the declining autumn
sun, and the low skirting moon of the harvest, which seems too full
and heavy with mellow and bountiful light to rise high above the
fields which it comes to bless with perfection. The long threads,
on each of which hung an oat-grain--the harvest here was mostly of
oats--had got dry and brittle; and the grains began to spread out
their chaff-wings, as if ready to fly, and rustled with sweet sounds
against each other, as the wind, which used to billow the fields
like the waves of the sea, now swept gently and tenderly over it,
helping the sun and moon in the drying and ripening of the joy to be
laid up for the dreary winter. Most graceful of all hung those
delicate oats; next bowed the bearded barley; and stately and
wealthy and strong stood the few fields of wheat, of a rich, ruddy,
golden hue. Above the yellow harvest rose the purple hills, and
above the hills the pale-blue autumnal sky, full of light and heat,
but fading somewhat from the colour with which it deepened above the
vanished days of summer. For the harvest here is much later than in

At length the day arrived when the sickle must be put into the
barley, soon to be followed by the scythe in the oats. And now came
the joy of labour. Everything else was abandoned for the harvest
field. Books were thrown utterly aside; for, even when there was no
fear of a change of weather to urge to labour prolonged beyond the
natural hours, there was weariness enough in the work of the day to
prevent even David from reading, in the hours of bodily rest,
anything that necessitated mental labour.

Janet and Margaret betook themselves to the reaping-hook; and the
somewhat pale face of the latter needed but a single day to change
it to the real harvest hue--the brown livery of Ceres. But when the
oats were attacked, then came the tug of war. The laird was in the
fields from morning to night, and the boys would not stay behind;
but, with their father's permission, much to the tutor's
contentment, devoted what powers they had to the gathering of the
fruits of the earth. Hugh himself, whose strength had grown
amazingly during his stay at Turriepuffit, and who, though he was
quite helpless at the sickle, thought he could wield the scythe,
would not be behind. Throwing off coat and waistcoat, and tying his
handkerchief tight round his loins, he laid hold on the emblematic
weapon of Time and Death, determined likewise to earn the name of
Reaper. He took the last scythe. It was desperate work for a
while, and he was far behind the first bout; but David, who was the
best scyther in the whole country side, and of course had the
leading scythe, seeing the tutor dropping behind, put more power to
his own arm, finished his own bout, and brought up Hugh's before the
others had done sharpening their scythes for the next.

"Tak' care an' nae rax yersel' ower sair, Mr. Sutherlan'. Ye'll be
up wi' the best o' them in a day or twa; but gin ye tyauve at it
aboon yer strenth, ye'll be clean forfochten. Tak' a guid sweep wi'
the scythe, 'at ye may hae the weicht o't to ca' through the strae,
an' tak' nae shame at bein' hindmost. Here, Maggy, my doo, come an'
gather to Mr. Sutherlan'. Ane o' the young gentlemen can tak' your
place at the binin'."

The work of Janet and Margaret had been to form bands for the
sheaves, by folding together cunningly the heads of two small
handfuls of the corn, so as to make them long enough together to go
round the sheaf; then to lay this down for the gatherer to place
enough of the mown corn upon it; and last, to bind the band tightly
around by another skilful twist and an insertion of the ends, and so
form a sheaf. From this work David called his daughter, desirous of
giving Hugh a gatherer who would not be disrespectful to his
awkwardness. This arrangement, however, was far from pleasing to
some of the young men in the field, and brought down upon Hugh, who
was too hard-wrought to hear them at first, many sly hits of country
wit and human contempt. There had been for some time great jealousy
of his visits at David's cottage; for Margaret, though she had very
little acquaintance with the young men of the neighbourhood, was
greatly admired amongst them, and not regarded as so far above the
station of many of them as to render aspiration useless. Their
remarks to each other got louder and louder, till Hugh at last heard
some of them, and could not help being annoyed, not by their wit or
personality, but by the tone of contempt in which they were uttered.

"Tak' care o' yer legs, sir. It'll be ill cuttin' upo' stumps."

"Fegs! he's taen the wings aff o' a pairtrick."

"Gin he gang on that get, he'll cut twa bouts at ance."

"Ye'll hae the scythe ower the dyke, man. Tak' tent."

"Losh! sir; ye've taen aff my leg at the hip!"

"Ye're shavin' ower close: ye'll draw the bluid, sir."

"Hoot, man! lat alane. The gentleman's only mista'en his trade, an'
imaigins he's howkin' a grave."

And so on. Hugh gave no further sign of hearing their remarks than
lay in increased exertion. Looking round, however, he saw that
Margaret was vexed, evidently not for her own sake. He smiled to
her, to console her for his annoyance; and then, ambitious to remove
the cause of it, made a fresh exertion, recovered all his distance,
and was in his own place with the best of them at the end of the
bout. But the smile that had passed between them did not escape
unobserved; and he had aroused yet more the wrath of the youths, by
threatening soon to rival them in the excellencies to which they had
an especial claim. They had regarded him as an interloper, who had
no right to captivate one of their rank by arts beyond their reach;
but it was still less pardonable to dare them to a trial of skill
with their own weapons. To the fire of this jealousy, the
admiration of the laird added fuel; for he was delighted with the
spirit with which Hugh laid himself to the scythe. But all the
time, nothing was further from Hugh's thoughts than the idea of
rivalry with them. Whatever he might have thought of Margaret in
relation to himself, he never thought of her, though labouring in
the same field with them, as in the least degree belonging to their
class, or standing in any possible relation to them, except that of
a common work.

In ordinary, the labourers would have had sufficient respect for
Sutherland's superior position, to prevent them from giving such
decided and articulate utterance to their feelings. But they were
incited by the presence and example of a man of doubtful character
from the neighbouring village, a travelled and clever ne'er-do-weel,
whose reputation for wit was equalled by his reputation for courage
and skill, as well as profligacy. Roused by the effervescence of
his genius, they went on from one thing to another, till Hugh saw it
must be put a stop to somehow, else he must abandon the field. They
dared not have gone so far if David had been present; but he had
been called away to superintend some operations in another part of
the estate; and they paid no heed to the expostulations of some of
the other older men. At the close of the day's work, therefore,
Hugh walked up to this fellow, and said:

"I hope you will be satisfied with insulting me all to-day, and
leave it alone to-morrow."

The man replied, with an oath and a gesture of rude contempt,

"I dinna care the black afore my nails for ony skelp-doup o' the lot
o' ye."

Hugh's highland blood flew to his brain, and before the rascal
finished his speech, he had measured his length on the stubble. He
sprang to his feet in a fury, threw off the coat which he had just
put on, and darted at Hugh, who had by this time recovered his
coolness, and was besides, notwithstanding his unusual exertions,
the more agile of the two. The other was heavier and more powerful.
Hugh sprang aside, as he would have done from the rush of a bull,
and again with a quick blow felled his antagonist. Beginning rather
to enjoy punishing him, he now went in for it; and, before the other
would yield, he had rendered his next day's labour somewhat
doubtful. He withdrew, with no more injury to himself than a little
water would remove. Janet and Margaret had left the field before he
addressed the man.

He went borne and to bed--more weary than he had ever been in his
life. Before he went to sleep, however, he made up his mind to say
nothing of his encounter to David, but to leave him to hear of it
from other sources. He could not help feeling a little anxious as
to his judgment upon it. That the laird would approve, he hardly
doubted; but for his opinion he cared very little.

"Dawvid, I wonner at ye," said Janet to her husband, the moment he
came home, "to lat the young lad warstle himsel' deid that get wi' a
scythe. His banes is but saft yet, There wasna a dry steek on him
or he wan half the lenth o' the first bout. He's sair disjaskit,
I'se warran'."

"Nae fear o' him, Janet; it'll do him guid. Mr. Sutherland's no
feckless winlestrae o' a creater. Did he haud his ain at a' wi' the

"Haud his ain! Gin he be fit for onything the day, he maun be
pitten neist yersel', or he'll cut the legs aff o' ony ither man i'
the corn."

A glow of pleasure mantled in Margaret's face at her mother's praise
of Hugh. Janet went on:

"But I was jist clean affronted wi' the way 'at the young chields
behaved themselves till him."

"I thocht I heard a toot-moot o' that kin' afore I left, but I
thocht it better to tak' nae notice o't. I'll be wi' ye a' day the
morn though, an' I'm thinkin' I'll clap a rouch han' on their mou's
'at I hear ony mair o't frae."

But there was no occasion for interference on David's part. Hugh
made his appearance--not, it is true, with the earliest in the
hairst-rig, but after breakfast with the laird, who was delighted
with the way in which he had handled his scythe the day before, and
felt twice the respect for him in consequence. It must be confessed
he felt very stiff, but the best treatment for stiffness being the
homœopathic one of more work, he had soon restored the elasticity of
his muscles, and lubricated his aching joints. His antagonist of
the foregoing evening was nowhere to be seen; and the rest of the
young men were shame-faced and respectful enough.

David, having learned from some of the spectators the facts of the
combat, suddenly, as they were walking home together, held out his
hand to Hugh, shook his hard, and said:

"Mr. Sutherlan', I'm sair obleeged to ye for giein' that vratch,
Jamie Ogg, a guid doonsettin'. He's a coorse crater; but the warst
maun hae meat, an' sae I didna like to refeese him when he cam for
wark. But its a greater kin'ness to clout him nor to cleed him.
They say ye made an awfu' munsie o' him. But it's to be houpit
he'll live to thank ye. There's some fowk 'at can respeck no
airgument but frae steekit neives; an' it's fell cruel to haud it
frae them, gin ye hae't to gie them. I hae had eneuch ado to haud
my ain han's aff o' the ted, but it comes a hantle better frae you,
Mr. Sutherlan'."

Hugh wielded the scythe the whole of the harvest, and Margaret
gathered to him. By the time it was over, leading-home and all, he
measured an inch less about the waist, and two inches more about the
shoulders; and was as brown as a berry, and as strong as an ox, or
"owse," as David called it, when thus describing Mr. Sutherland's
progress in corporal development; for he took a fatherly pride in
the youth, to whom, at the same time, he looked up with submission,
as his master in learning.



Affliction, when I know it, is but this--
A deep alloy, whereby man tougher is
To bear the hammer; and the deeper still,
We still arise more image of his will.
Sickness--an humorous cloud 'twist us and light;
And death, at longest, but another night.
Man is his own star; and that soul that can
Be honest, is the only perfect Man.

JOHN FLETCHER.--Upon an Honest Man's Fortune.

Had Sutherland been in love with Margaret, those would have been
happy days; and that a yet more happy night, when, under the mystery
of a low moonlight and a gathering storm, the crop was cast in haste
into the carts, and hurried home to be built up in safety; when a
strange low wind crept sighing across the stubble, as if it came
wandering out of the past and the land of dreams, lying far off and
withered in the green west; and when Margaret and he came and went
in the moonlight like creatures in a dream--for the vapours of sleep
were floating in Hugh's brain, although he was awake and working.

"Margaret," he said, as they stood waiting a moment for the cart
that was coming up to be filled with sheaves, "what does that wind
put you in mind of?"

"Ossian's Poems," replied Margaret, without a moment's hesitation.

Hugh was struck by her answer. He had meant something quite
different. But it harmonized with his feeling about Ossian; for the
genuineness of whose poetry, Highlander as he was, he had no better
argument to give than the fact, that they produced in himself an
altogether peculiar mental condition; that the spiritual sensations
he had in reading them were quite different from those produced by
anything else, prose or verse; in fact, that they created moods of
their own in his mind. He was unwilling to believe, apart from
national prejudices (which have not prevented the opinions on this
question from being as strong on the one side as on the other), that
this individuality of influence could belong to mere affectations of
a style which had never sprung from the sources of real feeling.
"Could they," he thought, "possess the power to move us like
remembered dreams of our childhood, if all that they possessed of
reality was a pretended imitation of what never existed, and all
that they inherited from the past was the halo of its strangeness?"

But Hugh was not in love with Margaret, though he could not help
feeling the pleasure of her presence. Any youth must have been the
better for having her near him; but there was nothing about her
quiet, self-contained being, free from manifestation of any sort, to
rouse the feelings commonly called love, in the mind of an
inexperienced youth like Hugh Sutherland.--I say commonly called,
because I believe that within the whole sphere of intelligence there
are no two loves the same.--Not that he was less easily influenced
than other youths. A designing girl might have caught him at once,
if she had had no other beauty than sparkling eyes; but the
womanhood of the beautiful Margaret kept so still in its pearly
cave, that it rarely met the glance of neighbouring eyes. How
Margaret regarded him I do not know; but I think it was with a love
almost entirely one with reverence and gratitude. Cause for
gratitude she certainly had, though less than she supposed; and very
little cause indeed for reverence. But how could she fail to revere
one to whom even her father looked up? Of course David's feeling of
respect for Hugh must have sprung chiefly from intellectual grounds;
and he could hardly help seeing, if he thought at all on the
subject, which is doubtful, that Hugh was as far behind Margaret in
the higher gifts and graces, as he was before her in intellectual
acquirement. But whether David perceived this or not, certainly
Margaret did not even think in that direction. She was pure of
self-judgment--conscious of no comparing of herself with others,
least of all with those next her.

At length the harvest was finished; or, as the phrase of the
district was, clyack was gotten--a phrase with the derivation, or
even the exact meaning of which, I am unacquainted; knowing only
that it implies something in close association with the feast of
harvest-home, called the kirn in other parts of Scotland.
Thereafter, the fields lay bare to the frosts of morning and
evening, and to the wind that grew cooler and cooler with the breath
of Winter, who lay behind the northern hills, and waited for his
hour. But many lovely days remained, of quiet and slow decay, of
yellow and red leaves, of warm noons and lovely sunsets, followed by
skies--green from the west horizon to the zenith, and walked by a
moon that seemed to draw up to her all the white mists from pond and
river and pool, to settle again in hoar-frost, during the colder
hours that precede the dawn. At length every leafless tree sparkled
in the morning sun, incrusted with fading gems; and the ground was
hard under foot; and the hedges were filled with frosted
spider-webs; and winter had laid the tips of his fingers on the
land, soon to cover it deep with the flickering snow-flakes, shaken
from the folds of his outspread mantle. But long ere this, David
and Margaret had returned with renewed diligence, and powers
strengthened by repose, or at least by intermission, to their mental
labours, and Hugh was as constant a visitor at the cottage as
before. The time, however, drew nigh when he must return to his
studies at Aberdeen; and David and Margaret were looking forward
with sorrow to the loss of their friend. Janet, too, "cudna bide to
think o't."

"He'll tak' the daylicht wi' him, I doot, my lass," she said, as she
made the porridge for breakfast one morning, and looked down
anxiously at her daughter, seated on the creepie by the ingle-neuk.

"Na, na, mither," replied Margaret, looking up from her book; "he'll
lea' sic gifts ahin' him as'll mak' daylicht i' the dark;" and then
she bent her head and went on with her reading, as if she had not

The mother looked away with a sigh and a slight, sad shake of the

But matters were to turn out quite different from all anticipations.
Before the day arrived on which Hugh must leave for the university,
a letter from home informed him that his father was dangerously ill.
He hastened to him, but only to comfort his last hours by all that
a son could do, and to support his mother by his presence during the
first hours of her loneliness. But anxious thoughts for the future,
which so often force themselves on the attention of those who would
gladly prolong their brooding over the past, compelled them to adopt
an alteration of their plans for the present.

The half-pay of Major Sutherland was gone, of course; and all that
remained for Mrs. Sutherland was a small annuity, secured by her
husband's payments to a certain fund for the use of officers'
widows. From this she could spare but a mere trifle for the
completion of Hugh's university-education; while the salary he had
received at Turriepuffit, almost the whole of which he had saved,
was so small as to be quite inadequate for the very moderate outlay
necessary. He therefore came to the resolution to write to the
laird, and offer, if they were not yet provided with another tutor,
to resume his relation to the young gentlemen for the winter. It
was next to impossible to spend money there; and he judged that
before the following winter, he should be quite able to meet the
expenses of his residence at Aberdeen, during the last session of
his course. He would have preferred trying to find another
situation, had it not been that David and Janet and Margaret had
made there a home for him.

Whether Mrs. Glasford was altogether pleased at the proposal, I
cannot tell; but the laird wrote a very gentlemanlike epistle,
condoling with him and his mother upon their loss, and urging the
usual common-places of consolation. The letter ended with a hearty
acceptance of Hugh's offer, and, strange to tell, the unsolicited
promise of an increase of salary to the amount of five pounds. This
is another to be added to the many proofs that verisimilitude is not
in the least an essential element of verity.

He left his mother as soon as circumstances would permit, and
returned to Turriepuffit; an abode for the winter very different
indeed from that in which he had expected to spend it.

He reached the place early in the afternoon; received from Mrs.
Glasford a cold "I hope you're well, Mr. Sutherland;" found his
pupils actually reading, and had from them a welcome rather
boisterously evidenced; told them to get their books; and sat down
with them at once to commence their winter labours. He spent two
hours thus; had a hearty shake of the hand from the laird, when he
came home; and, after a substantial tea, walked down to David's
cottage, where a welcome awaited him worth returning for.

"Come yer wa's butt," said Janet, who met him as he opened the door
without any prefatory knock, and caught him with both hands; "I'm
blithe to see yer bonny face ance mair. We're a' jist at ane mair
wi' expeckin' o' ye."

David stood in the middle of the floor, waiting for him.

"Come awa', my bonny lad," was all his greeting, as he held out a
great fatherly hand to the youth, and, grasping his in the one,
clapped him on the shoulder with the other, the water standing in
his blue eyes the while. Hugh thought of his own father, and could
not restrain his tears. Margaret gave him a still look full in the
face, and, seeing his emotion, did not even approach to offer him
any welcome. She hastened, instead, to place a chair for him as she
had done when first he entered the cottage, and when he had taken it
sat down at his feet on her creepie. With true delicacy, no one
took any notice of him for some time. David said at last,

"An' hoo's yer puir mother, Mr. Sutherlan'?"

"She's pretty well," was all Hugh could answer.

"It's a sair stroke to bide," said David; "but it's a gran' thing
whan a man's won weel throw't. Whan my father deit, I min' weel, I
was sae prood to see him lyin' there, in the cauld grandeur o'
deith, an' no man 'at daured say he ever did or spak the thing 'at
didna become him, 'at I jist gloried i' the mids o' my greetin'. He
was but a puir auld shepherd, Mr. Sutherlan', wi' hair as white as
the sheep 'at followed him; an' I wat as they followed him, he
followed the great Shepherd; an' followed an' followed, till he jist
followed Him hame, whaur we're a' boun', an' some o' us far on the
road, thanks to Him!"

And with that David rose, and got down the Bible, and, opening it
reverently, read with a solemn, slightly tremulous voice, the
fourteenth chapter of St. John's Gospel. When he had finished, they
all rose, as by one accord, and knelt down, and David prayed:

"O Thou in whase sicht oor deeth is precious, an' no licht maitter;
wha through darkness leads to licht, an' through deith to the
greater life!--we canna believe that thou wouldst gie us ony guid
thing, to tak' the same again; for that would be but bairns' play.
We believe that thou taks, that thou may gie again the same thing
better nor afore--mair o't and better nor we could ha' received it
itherwise; jist as the Lord took himsel' frae the sicht o' them 'at
lo'ed him weel, that instead o' bein' veesible afore their een, he
micht hide himsel' in their verra herts. Come thou, an' abide in
us, an' tak' us to bide in thee; an' syne gin we be a' in thee, we
canna be that far frae ane anither, though some sud be in haven, an'
some upo' earth. Lord help us to do oor wark like thy men an'
maidens doon the stair, remin'in' oursel's, 'at them 'at we miss hae
only gane up the stair, as gin 'twar to haud things to thy han' i'
thy ain presence-chamber, whaur we houp to be called or lang, an' to
see thee an' thy Son, wham we lo'e aboon a'; an' in his name we say,

Hugh rose from his knees with a sense of solemnity and reality that
he had never felt before. Little was said that evening; supper was
eaten, if not in silence, yet with nothing that could be called
conversation. And, almost in silence, David walked home with Hugh.
The spirit of his father seemed to walk beside him. He felt as if
he had been buried with him; and had found that the sepulchre was
clothed with green things and roofed with stars--was in truth the
heavens and the earth in which his soul walked abroad.

If Hugh looked a little more into his Bible, and tried a little more
to understand it, after his father's death, it is not to be wondered
at. It is but another instance of the fact that, whether from
education or from the leading of some higher instinct, we are ready,
in every more profound trouble, to feel as if a solution or a refuge
lay somewhere--lay in sounds of wisdom, perhaps, to be sought and
found in the best of books, the deepest of all the mysterious
treasuries of words. But David never sought to influence Hugh to
this end. He read the Bible in his family, but he never urged the
reading of it on others. Sometimes he seemed rather to avoid the
subject of religion altogether; and yet it was upon those very
occasions that, if he once began to speak, he would pour out, before
he ceased, some of his most impassioned utterances.



Knowledge bloweth up, but charity buildeth up.

LORD BACON'S rendering of 1 Cor. viii. I.

Things went on as usual for a few days, when Hugh began to encounter
a source of suffering of a very material and unromantic kind, but
which, nevertheless, had been able before now, namely, at the
commencement of his tutorship, to cause him a very sufficient degree
of distress. It was this; that he had no room in which he could
pursue his studies in private, without having to endure a most
undesirable degree of cold. In summer this was a matter of little
moment, for the universe might then be his secret chamber; but in a
Scotch spring or autumn, not to say winter, a bedroom without a
fire-place, which, strange to say, was the condition of his, was not
a study in which thought could operate to much satisfactory result.
Indeed, pain is a far less hurtful enemy to thinking than cold.
And to have to fight such suffering and its benumbing influences,
as well as to follow out a train of reasoning, difficult at any
time, and requiring close attention--is too much for any machine
whose thinking wheels are driven by nervous gear. Sometimes--for he
must make the attempt--he came down to his meals quite blue with
cold, as his pupils remarked to their mother; but their observation
never seemed to suggest to her mind the necessity of making some
better provision for the poor tutor. And Hugh, after the way in
which she had behaved to him, was far too proud to ask her a favour,
even if he had had hopes of receiving his request. He knew, too,
that, in the house, the laird, to interfere in the smallest degree,
must imperil far more than he dared. The prospect, therefore, of
the coming winter, in a country where there was scarcely any
afternoon, and where the snow might lie feet deep for weeks, was not
at all agreeable. He had, as I have said, begun to suffer already,
for the mornings and evenings were cold enough now, although it was
a bright, dry October. One evening Janet remarked that he had
caught cold, for he was 'hostin' sair;' and this led Hugh to state
the discomfort he was condemned to experience up at the ha' house.

"Weel," said David, after some silent deliberation, "that sattles't;
we maun set aboot it immedantly."

Of course Hugh was quite at a loss to understand what he meant, and
begged him to explain.

"Ye see," replied David, "we hae verra little hoose-room i' this bit
cot; for, excep this kitchen, we hae but the ben whaur Janet and me
sleeps; and sae last year I spak' to the laird to lat me hae muckle
timmer as I wad need to big a kin' o' a lean-to to the house ahin',
so 'at we micht hae a kin' o' a bit parlour like, or rather a roomie
'at ony o' us micht retire till for a bit, gin we wanted to be oor
lanes. He had nae objections, honest man. But somehoo or ither I
never sat han' till't; but noo the wa's maun be up afore the wat
weather sets in. Sae I'se be at it the morn, an' maybe ye'll len'
me a han', Mr. Sutherlan', and tak' oot yer wages in house-room an'
firin' efter it's dune."

"Thank you heartily!" said Hugh; "that would be delightful. It seems
too good to be possible. But will not wooden walls be rather a poor
protection against such winters as I suppose you have in these

"Hootoot, Mr. Sutherlan', ye micht gie me credit for raither mair
rumgumption nor that comes till. Timmer was the only thing I not
(needed) to spier for; the lave lies to ony body's han'--a few
cart-fu's o' sods frae the hill ahint the hoose, an' a han'fu' or
twa o' stanes for the chimla oot o' the quarry--there's eneuch there
for oor turn ohn blastit mair; an' we'll saw the wood oorsels; an'
gin we had ance the wa's up, we can carry on the inside at oor
leisur'. That's the way 'at the Maker does wi' oorsels; he gie's us
the wa's an' the material, an' a whole lifetime, maybe mair, to
furnish the house."

"Capital!" exclaimed Hugh. "I'll work like a horse, and we'll be at
it the morn."

"I'se be at it afore daylicht, an' ane or twa o' the lads'll len' me
a han' efter wark-hours; and there's yersel', Mr. Sutherlan', worth
ane an' a half o' ordinary workers; an' we'll hae truff aneuch for
the wa's in a jiffey. I'll mark a feow saplin's i' the wud here at
denner-time, an' we'll hae them for bauks, an' couples, an' things;
an' there's plenty dry eneuch for beurds i' the shed, an' bein' but
a lean-to, there'll be but half wark, ye ken."

They went out directly, in the moonlight, to choose the spot; and
soon came to the resolution to build it so, that a certain back
door, which added more to the cold in winter than to the convenience
in summer, should be the entrance to the new chamber. The chimney
was the chief difficulty; but all the materials being in the
immediate neighbourhood, and David capable of turning his hands to
anything, no obstruction was feared. Indeed, he set about that part
first, as was necessary; and had soon built a small chimney, chiefly
of stones and lime; while, under his directions, the walls were
making progress at the same time, by the labour of Hugh and two or
three of the young men from the farm, who were most ready to oblige
David with their help, although they were still rather unfriendly to
the colliginer, as they called him. But Hugh's frankness soon won
them over, and they all formed within a day or two a very
comfortable party of labourers. They worked very hard; for if the
rain should set in before the roof was on, their labour would be
almost lost from the soaking of the walls. They built them of turf,
very thick, with a slight slope on the outside towards the roof;
before commencing which, they partially cut the windows out of the
walls, putting wood across to support the top. I should have
explained that the turf used in building was the upper and coarser
part of the peat, which was plentiful in the neighbourhood. The
thatch-eaves of the cottage itself projected over the joining of the
new roof, so as to protect it from the drip; and David soon put a
thick thatch of new straw upon the little building. Second-hand
windows were procured at the village, and the holes in the walls cut
to their size. They next proceeded to the saw-pit on the
estate--for almost everything necessary for keeping up the offices
was done on the farm itself--where they sawed thin planks of deal,
to floor and line the room, and make it more cosie. These David
planed upon one side; and when they were nailed against slight posts
all round the walls, and the joints filled in with putty, the room
began to look most enticingly habitable. The roof had not been
thatched two days before the rain set in; but now they could work
quite comfortably inside; and as the space was small, and the
forenights were long, they had it quite finished before the end of
November. David bought an old table in the village, and one or two
chairs; mended them up; made a kind of rustic sofa or settle; put a
few bookshelves against the wall; had a peat fire lighted on the
hearth every day; and at length, one Saturday evening, they had
supper in the room, and the place was consecrated henceforth to
friendship and learning. From this time, every evening, as soon as
lessons, and the meal which immediately followed them, were over,
Hugh betook himself to the cottage, on the shelves of which all his
books by degrees collected themselves; and there spent the whole
long evening, generally till ten o'clock; the first part alone
reading or writing; the last in company with his pupils, who,
diligent as ever, now of course made more rapid progress than
before, inasmuch as the lessons were both longer and more frequent.
The only drawback to their comfort was, that they seemed to have
shut Janet out; but she soon remedied this, by contriving to get
through with her house work earlier than she had ever done before;
and, taking her place on the settle behind them, knitted away
diligently at her stocking, which, to inexperienced eyes, seemed
always the same, and always in the same state of progress,
notwithstanding that she provided the hose of the whole family, blue
and grey, ribbed and plain. Her occasional withdrawings, to observe
the progress of the supper, were only a cheerful break in the
continuity of labour. Little would the passer-by imagine that
beneath that roof, which seemed worthy only of the name of a shed,
there sat, in a snug little homely room, such a youth as Hugh, such
a girl as Margaret, such a grand peasant king as David, and such a
true-hearted mother to them all as Janet. There were no pictures
and no music; for Margaret kept her songs for solitary places; but
the sound of verse was often the living wind which set a-waving the
tops of the trees of knowledge, fast growing in the sunlight of
Truth. The thatch of that shed-roof was like the grizzled hair of
David, beneath which lay the temple not only of holy but of wise and
poetic thought. It was like the sylvan abode of the gods, where the
architecture and music are all of their own making, in their kind
the more beautiful, the more simple and rude; and if more doubtful
in their intent, and less precise in their finish, yet therein the
fuller of life and its grace, and the more suggestive of deeper



And like his father of face and of stature,
And false of love--it came him of nature;
As doth the fox Renard, the fox's son;
Of kinde, he coud his old father's wone,
Without lore, as can a drake swim,
When it is caught, and carried to the brim.

CHAUCER.--Legend of Phillis.

Of course, the yet more lengthened absences of Hugh from the house
were subjects of remark as at the first; but Hugh had made up his
mind not to trouble himself the least about that. For some time
Mrs. Glasford took no notice of them to himself; but one evening,
just as tea was finished, and Hugh was rising to go, her restraint
gave way, and she uttered one spiteful speech, thinking it, no
doubt, so witty that it ought to see the light.

"Ye're a day-labourer it seems, Mr. Sutherlan', and gang hame at

"Exactly so, madam," rejoined Hugh. "There is no other relation
between you and me, than that of work and wages. You have done your
best to convince me of that, by making it impossible for me to feel
that this house is in any sense my home."

With this grand speech he left the room, and from that time till the
day of his final departure from Turriepuffit, there was not a single
allusion made to the subject.

He soon reached the cottage. When he entered the new room, which
was always called Mr. Sutherland's study, the mute welcome afforded
him by the signs of expectation, in the glow of the waiting fire,
and the outspread arms of the elbow-chair, which was now called his,
as well as the room, made ample amends to him for the unfriendliness
of Mrs. Glasford. Going to the shelves to find the books he wanted,
he saw that they had been carefully arranged on one shelf, and that
the others were occupied with books belonging to the house. He
looked at a few of them. They were almost all old books, and such
as may be found in many Scotch cottages; for instance, Boston's
Fourfold State, in which the ways of God and man may be seen through
a fourfold fog; Erskine's Divine Sonnets, which will repay the
reader in laughter for the pain it costs his reverence, producing
much the same effect that a Gothic cathedral might, reproduced by
the pencil and from the remembrance of a Chinese artist, who had
seen it once; Drelincourt on Death, with the famous ghost-hoax of De
Foe, to help the bookseller to the sale of the unsaleable; the Scots
Worthies, opening of itself at the memoir of Mr. Alexander Peden;
the Pilgrim's Progress, that wonderful inspiration, failing never
save when the theologian would sometimes snatch the pen from the
hand of the poet; Theron and Aspasio; Village Dialogues; and others
of a like class. To these must be added a rare edition of Blind
Harry. It was clear to Hugh, unable as he was fully to appreciate
the wisdom of David, that it was not from such books as these that
he had gathered it; yet such books as these formed all his store.
He turned from them, found his own, and sat down to read. By and
by David came in.

"I'm ower sune, I doubt, Mr. Sutherlan'. I'm disturbin' ye."

"Not at all," answered Hugh. "Besides, I am not much in a reading
mood this evening: Mrs. Glasford has been annoying me again."

"Poor body! What's she been sayin' noo?"

Thinking to amuse David, Hugh recounted the short passage between
them recorded above. David, however, listened with a very different
expression of countenance from what Hugh had anticipated; and, when
he had finished, took up the conversation in a kind of apologetic

"Weel, but ye see," said he, folding his palms together, "she hasna'
jist had a'thegither fair play. She does na come o' a guid breed.
Man, it's a fine thing to come o' a guid breed. They hae a hantle
to answer for 'at come o' decent forbears."

"I thought she brought the laird a good property," said Hugh, not
quite understanding David.

"Ow, ay, she brocht him gowpenfu's o' siller; but hoo was't gotten?
An' ye ken it's no riches 'at 'ill mak' a guid breed--'cep' it be
o' maggots. The richer cheese the mair maggots, ye ken. Ye maunna
speyk o' this; but the mistress's father was weel kent to hae made
his siller by fardins and bawbees, in creepin', crafty ways. He was
a bit merchan' in Aberdeen, an' aye keepit his thoom weel ahint the
peint o' the ellwan', sae 'at he made an inch or twa upo' ilka yard
he sauld. Sae he took frae his soul, and pat intill his siller-bag,
an' had little to gie his dochter but a guid tocher. Mr.
Sutherlan', it's a fine thing to come o' dacent fowk. Noo, to luik
at yersel': I ken naething aboot yer family; but ye seem at eesicht
to come o' a guid breed for the bodily part o' ye. That's a sma'
matter; but frae what I ha'e seen--an' I trust in God I'm no'
mista'en--ye come o' the richt breed for the min' as weel. I'm no
flatterin' ye, Mr. Sutherlan'; but jist layin' it upo' ye, 'at gin
ye had an honest father and gran'father, an' especially a guid
mither, ye hae a heap to answer for; an' ye ought never to be hard
upo' them 'at's sma' creepin' creatures, for they canna help it sae
weel as the like o' you and me can."

David was not given to boasting. Hugh had never heard anything
suggesting it from his lips before. He turned full round and looked
at him. On his face lay a solemn quiet, either from a feeling of
his own responsibility, or a sense of the excuse that must be made
for others. What he had said about the signs of breed in Hugh's
exterior, certainly applied to himself as well. His carriage was
full of dignity, and a certain rustic refinement; his voice was
wonderfully gentle, but deep; and slowest when most impassioned. He
seemed to have come of some gigantic antediluvian breed: there was
something of the Titan slumbering about him. He would have been a
stern man, but for an unusual amount of reverence that seemed to
overflood the sternness, and change it into strong love. No one had
ever seen him thoroughly angry; his simple displeasure with any of
the labourers, the quality of whose work was deficient, would go
further than the laird's oaths.

Hugh sat looking at David, who supported the look with that perfect
calmness that comes of unconscious simplicity. At length Hugh's eye
sank before David's, as he said:

"I wish I had known your father, then, David."

"My father was sic a ane as I tauld ye the ither day, Mr.
Sutherlan'. I'm a' richt there. A puir, semple, God-fearin'
shepherd, 'at never gae his dog an ill-deserved word, nor took the
skin o' ony puir lammie, wha's woo' he was clippin', atween the
shears. He was weel worthy o' the grave 'at he wan till at last.
An' my mither was jist sic like, wi' aiblins raither mair heid nor
my father. They're her beuks maistly upo' the skelf there abune yer
ain, Mr. Sutherlan'. I honour them for her sake, though I seldom
trouble them mysel'. She gae me a kin' o' a scunner at them, honest
woman, wi' garrin' me read at them o' Sundays, till they near
scomfisht a' the guid 'at was in me by nater. There's doctrine for
ye, Mr. Sutherlan'!" added David, with a queer laugh.

"I thought they could hardly be your books," said Hugh.

"But I hae ae odd beuk, an' that brings me upo' my pedigree, Mr.
Sutherlan'; for the puirest man has as lang a pedigree as the
greatest, only he kens less aboot it, that's a'. An' I wat, for yer
lords and ladies, it's no a' to their credit 'at's tauld o' their
hither-come; an' that's a' against the breed, ye ken. A wilfu' sin
in the father may be a sinfu' weakness i' the son; an' that's what I
ca' no fair play."

So saying, David went to his bedroom, whence he returned with a very
old-looking book, which he laid on the table before Hugh. He opened
it, and saw that it was a volume of Jacob Bœhmen, in the original
language. He found out afterwards, upon further inquiry, that it
was in fact a copy of the first edition of his first work, The
Aurora, printed in 1612. On the title-page was written a name,
either in German or old English character, he was not sure which;
but he was able to read it--Martin Elginbrodde. David, having given
him time to see all this, went on:

"That buik has been in oor family far langer nor I ken. I needna
say I canna read a word o't, nor I never heard o' ane 'at could.
But I canna help tellin' ye a curious thing, Mr. Sutherlan', in
connexion wi' the name on that buik: there's a gravestane, a verra
auld ane--hoo auld I canna weel mak' out, though I gaed ends-errand
to Aberdeen to see't--an' the name upo' that gravestane is Martin
Elginbrod, but made mention o' in a strange fashion; an' I'm no sure
a'thegither aboot hoo ye'll tak' it, for it soun's rather fearsome
at first hearin' o't. But ye'se hae't as I read it:

"'Here lie I, Martin Elginbrodde:
Hae mercy o' my soul, Lord God;
As I wad do, were I Lord God,
And ye were Martin Elginbrodde.'"

Certainly Hugh could not help a slight shudder at what seemed to him
the irreverence of the epitaph, if indeed it was not deserving of a
worse epithet. But he made no remark; and, after a moment's pause,
David resumed:

"I was unco ill-pleased wi't at the first, as ye may suppose, Mr.
Sutherlan'; but, after a while, I begude (began) an' gaed through
twa or three bits o' reasonin's aboot it, in this way: By the natur'
o't, this maun be the man's ain makin', this epitaph; for no ither
body cud ha' dune't; and he had left it in's will to be pitten upo'
the deid-stane, nae doot: I' the contemplation o' deith, a man wad
no be lik'ly to desire the perpetuation o' a blasphemy upo' a table
o' stone, to stan' against him for centuries i' the face o' God an'
man: therefore it cudna ha' borne the luik to him o' the
presumptuous word o' a proud man evenin' himsel' wi' the Almichty.
Sae what was't, then, 'at made him mak' it? It seems to me--though
I confess, Mr. Sutherlan', I may be led astray by the nateral desire
'at a man has to think weel o' his ain forbears--for 'at he was a
forbear o' my ain, I canna weel doot, the name bein' by no means a
common ane, in Scotland ony way--I'm sayin', it seems to me, that
it's jist a darin' way, maybe a childlike way, o' judgin', as Job
micht ha' dune, 'the Lord by himsel';' an' sayin', 'at gin he,
Martin Elginbrod, wad hae mercy, surely the Lord was not less
mercifu' than he was. The offspring o' the Most High was, as it
were, aware o' the same spirit i' the father o' him, as muved in
himsel'. He felt 'at the mercy in himsel' was ane o' the best
things; an' he cudna think 'at there wad be less o't i' the father
o' lichts, frae whom cometh ilka guid an' perfeck gift. An' may be
he remembered 'at the Saviour himsel' said: 'Be ye perfect as your
father in Heaven is perfect;' and that the perfection o' God, as He
had jist pinted oot afore, consisted in causin' his bonny sun to
shine on the evil an' the good, an' his caller rain to fa' upo' the
just an' the unjust."

It may well be doubted whether David's interpretation of the epitaph
was the correct one. It will appear to most of my readers to
breathe rather of doubt lighted up by hope, than of that strong
faith which David read in it. But whether from family partiality,
and consequent unwillingness to believe that his ancestor had been a
man who, having led a wild, erring, and evil life, turned at last
towards the mercy of God as his only hope, which the words might
imply; or simply that he saw this meaning to be the best; this was
the interpretation which David had adopted.

"But," interposed Hugh, "supposing he thought all that, why should
he therefore have it carved on his tombstone?"

"I hae thocht aboot that too," answered David. "For ae thing, a body
has but feow ways o' sayin' his say to his brithermen. Robbie Burns
cud do't in sang efter sang; but maybe this epitaph was a' that auld
Martin was able to mak'. He michtna hae had the gift o' utterance.
But there may be mair in't nor that. Gin the clergy o' thae times
warna a gey hantle mair enlichtened nor a fowth o' the clergy
hereabouts, he wad hae heard a heap aboot the glory o' God, as the
thing 'at God himsel' was maist anxious aboot uphaudin', jist like a
prood creater o' a king; an' that he wad mak' men, an' feed them,
an' cleed them, an' gie them braw wives an' toddlin' bairnies, an'
syne damn them, a' for's ain glory. Maybe ye wadna get mony o' them
'at wad speyk sae fair-oot noo-a-days, for they gang wi' the tide
jist like the lave; but i' my auld minny's buiks, I hae read jilt as
muckle as that, an' waur too. Mony ane 'at spak like that, had nae
doot a guid meanin' in't; but, hech man! it's an awesome deevilich
way o' sayin' a holy thing. Noo, what better could puir auld Martin
do, seein' he had no ae word to say i' the kirk a' his lifelang, nor
jist say his ae word, as pithily as might be, i' the kirkyard, efter
he was deid; an' ower an' ower again, wi' a tongue o' stane, let
them tak' it or lat it alane 'at likit? That's a' my defence o' my
auld luckie-daddy--Heaven rest his brave auld soul!"

"But are we not in danger," said Hugh, "of thinking too lightly and
familiarly of the Maker, when we proceed to judge him so by

"Mr. Sutherlan'," replied David, very solemnly, "I dinna thenk I can
be in muckle danger o' lichtlyin' him, whan I ken in my ain sel', as
weel as she 'at was healed o' her plague, 'at I wad be a horse i'
that pleuch, or a pig in that stye, not merely if it was his
will--for wha can stan' against that--but if it was for his glory;
ay, an' comfort mysel', a' the time the change was passin' upo' me,
wi' the thocht that, efter an' a', his blessed han's made the pigs

"But, a moment ago, David, you seemed to me to be making rather
little of his glory."

"O' his glory, as they consider glory--ay; efter a warldly fashion
that's no better nor pride, an' in him would only be a greater
pride. But his glory! consistin' in his trowth an'
lovin'kindness--(man! that's a bonny word)--an' grand
self-forgettin' devotion to his creaters--lord! man, it's
unspeakable. I care little for his glory either, gin by that ye
mean the praise o' men. A heap o' the anxiety for the spread o' his
glory, seems to me to be but a desire for the sempathy o' ither
fowk. There's no fear but men 'll praise him, a' in guid time--that
is, whan they can. But, Mr. Sutherlan', for the glory o' God,
raither than, if it were possible, one jot or one tittle should fail
of his entire perfection of holy beauty, I call God to witness, I
would gladly go to hell itsel'; for no evil worth the full name can
befall the earth or ony creater in't, as long as God is what he is.
For the glory o' God, Mr. Sutherlan', I wad die the deith. For the
will o' God, I'm ready for onything he likes. I canna surely be in
muckle danger o' lichtlyin' him. I glory in my God."

The almost passionate earnestness with which David spoke, would
alone have made it impossible for Hugh to reply at once. After a
few moments, however, he ventured to ask the question:

"Would you do nothing that other people should know God, then,

"Onything 'at he likes. But I would tak' tent o' interferin'. He's
at it himsel' frae mornin' to nicht, frae year's en' to year's en'."

"But you seem to me to make out that God is nothing but love!"

"Ay, naething but love. What for no?"

"Because we are told he is just."

"Would he be lang just if he didna lo'e us?"

"But does he not punish sin?"

"Would it be ony kin'ness no to punish sin? No to us a' means to
pit awa' the ae ill thing frae us? Whatever may be meant by the
place o' meesery, depen' upo't, Mr. Sutherlan', it's only anither
form o' love, love shinin' through the fogs o' ill, an' sae gart
leuk something verra different thereby. Man, raither nor see my
Maggy--an' ye'll no doot 'at I lo'e her--raither nor see my Maggy do
an ill thing, I'd see her lyin' deid at my feet. But supposin' the
ill thing ance dune, it's no at my feet I wad lay her, but upo' my
heart, wi' my auld arms aboot her, to hand the further ill aff o'
her. An' shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be
more pure than his Maker? O my God! my God!"

The entrance of Margaret would have prevented the prosecution of
this conversation, even if it had not already drawn to a natural
close. Not that David would not have talked thus before his
daughter, but simply that minds, like instruments, need to be
brought up to the same pitch, before they can "atone together," and
that one feels this instinctively on the entrance of another who has
not gone through the same immediate process of gradual elevation of

Their books and slates were got out, and they sat down to their
work; but Hugh could not help observing that David, in the midst of
his lines and angles and algebraic computations, would, every now
and then, glance up at Margaret, with a look of tenderness in his
face yet deeper and more delicate in its expression than ordinary.
Margaret was, however, quite unconscious of it, pursuing her work
with her ordinary even diligence. But Janet observed it.

"What ails the bairn, Dawvid, 'at ye leuk at her that get? said she.

"Naething ails her, woman. Do ye never leuk at a body but when
something ails them?"

"Ow, ay--but no that get."

"Weel, maybe I was thinkin' hoo I wad leuk at her gin onything did
ail her."

"Hoot! hoot! dinna further the ill hither by makin' a bien
doonsittin' an' a bed for't."

All David's answer to this was one of his own smiles.

At supper, for it happened to be Saturday, Hugh said:

"I've been busy, between whiles, inventing, or perhaps discovering,
an etymological pedigree for you, David!"

"Weel, lat's hear't," said David.

"First--do you know that that volume with your ancestor's name on
it, was written by an old German shoemaker, perhaps only a cobbler,
for anything I know?"

"I know nothing aboot it, more or less," answered David.

"He was a wonderful man. Some people think he was almost inspired."

"Maybe, maybe," was all David's doubtful response.

"At all events, though I know nothing about it myself, he must have
written wonderfully for a cobbler."

"For my pairt," replied David, "if I see no wonder in the man, I can
see but little in the cobbler. What for shouldna a cobbler write
wonnerfully, as weel as anither? It's a trade 'at furthers
meditation. My grandfather was a cobbler, as ye ca't; an' they say
he was no fule in his ain way either."

"Then it does go in the family!" cried Hugh, triumphantly.
"I was in doubt at first whether your name referred to the breadth
of your shoulders, David, as transmitted from some ancient sire,
whose back was an Ellwand-broad; for the g might come from a w or v,
for anything I know to the contrary. But it would have been braid
in that case. And, now, I am quite convinced that that Martin or
his father was a German, a friend of old Jacob Bœhmen, who gave him
the book himself, and was besides of the same craft; and he coming
to this country with a name hard to be pronounced, they found a
resemblance in the sound of it to his occupation; and so gradually
corrupted his name, to them uncouth, into Elsynbrod, Elshinbrod,
thence Elginbrod, with a soft g, and lastly Elginbrod, as you
pronounce it now, with a hard g. This name, turned from Scotch into
English, would then be simply Martin Awlbore. The cobbler is in the
family, David, descended from Jacob Bœhmen himself, by the mother's

This heraldic blazon amused them all very much, and David expressed
his entire concurrence with it, declaring it to be incontrovertible.
Margaret laughed heartily.

Besides its own beauty, two things made Margaret's laugh of some
consequence; one was, that it was very rare; and the other, that it
revealed her two regular rows of dainty white teeth, suiting well to
the whole build of the maiden. She was graceful and rather tall,
with a head which, but for its smallness, might have seemed too
heavy for the neck that supported it, so ready it always was to
droop like a snowdrop. The only parts about her which Hugh
disliked, were her hands and feet. The former certainly had been
reddened and roughened by household work: but they were well formed
notwithstanding. The latter he had never seen, notwithstanding the
bare-foot habits of Scotch maidens; for he saw Margaret rarely
except in the evenings, and then she was dressed to receive him.
Certainly, however, they were very far from following the shape of
the clumsy country shoes, by which he misjudged their proportions.
Had he seen them, as he might have seen them some part of any day
during the summer, their form at least would have satisfied him.



Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who
hath gendered it? The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face
of the deep is frozen.

He giveth snow like wool; he scattereth the hoar frost like ashes.

JOB xxxviii. 29, 30; PSALM cxlvii. 16.

Winter was fairly come at last. A black frost had bound the earth
for many days; and at length a peculiar sensation, almost a smell of
snow in the air, indicated an approaching storm. The snow fell at
first in a few large unwilling flakes, that fluttered slowly and
heavily to the earth, where they lay like the foundation of the
superstructure that was about to follow. Faster and faster they
fell--wonderful multitudes of delicate crystals, adhering in shapes
of beauty which outvied all that jeweller could invent or execute of
ethereal, starry forms, structures of evanescent yet prodigal
loveliness--till the whole air was obscured by them, and night came
on, hastened by an hour, from the gathering of their white darkness.
In the morning, all the landscape was transfigured. The snow had
ceased to fall; but the whole earth, houses, fields, and fences,
ponds and streams, were changed to whiteness. But most wonderful
looked the trees--every bough and every twig thickened, and bent
earthward with its own individual load of the fairy ghost-birds.
Each retained the semblance of its own form, wonderfully, magically
altered by its thick garment of radiant whiteness, shining
gloriously in the sunlight. It was the shroud of dead nature; but a
shroud that seemed to prefigure a lovely resurrection; for the very
death-robe was unspeakably, witchingly beautiful. Again at night
the snow fell; and again and again, with intervening days of bright
sunshine. Every morning, the first fresh footprints were a new
wonder to the living creatures, the young-hearted amongst them at
least, who lived and moved in this death-world, this sepulchral
planet, buried in the shining air before the eyes of its
sister-stars in the blue, deathless heavens. Paths had to be
cleared in every direction towards the out-houses, and again cleared
every morning; till at last the walls of solid rain stood higher
than the head of little Johnnie, as he was still called, though he
was twelve years old. It was a great delight to him to wander
through the snow-avenues in every direction; and great fun it was,
both to him and his brother, when they were tired of snowballing
each other and every living thing about the place except their
parents and tutor, to hollow out mysterious caves and vaulted
passages. Sometimes they would carry these passages on from one
path to within an inch or two of another, and there lie in wait till
some passer-by, unweeting of harm, was just opposite their lurking
cave; when they would dash through the solid wall of snow with a
hideous yell, almost endangering the wits of the maids, and causing
a recoil and startled ejaculation even of the strong man on whom
they chanced to try their powers of alarm. Hugh himself was once
glad to cover the confusion of his own fright with the hearty fit of
laughter into which the perturbation of the boys, upon discovering
whom they had startled, threw him. It was rare fun to them; but not
to the women about the house, who moved from place to place in a
state of chronic alarm, scared by the fear of being scared; till one
of them going into hysterics, real or pretended, it was found
necessary to put a stop to the practice; not, however, before
Margaret had had her share of the jest. Hugh happened to be looking
out of his window at the moment--watching her, indeed, as she passed
towards the kitchen with some message from her mother; when an
indescribable monster, a chaotic mass of legs and snow, burst, as if
out of the earth, upon her. She turned pale as the snow around her
(and Hugh had never observed before how dark her eyes were), as she
sprang back with the grace of a startled deer. She uttered no cry,
however, perceiving in a moment who it was, gave a troubled little
smile, and passed on her way as if nothing had happened. Hugh was
not sorry when maternal orders were issued against the practical
joke. The boys did not respect their mother very much, but they
dared not disobey her, when she spoke in a certain tone.

There was no pathway cut to David's cottage; and no track trodden,
except what David, coming to the house sometimes, and Hugh going
every afternoon to the cottage, made between them. Hugh often went
to the knees in snow, but was well dried and warmed by Janet's care
when he arrived. She had always a pair of stockings and slippers
ready for him at the fire, to be put on the moment of his arrival;
and exchanged again for his own, dry and warm, before he footed once
more the ghostly waste. When neither moon was up nor stars were
out, there was a strange eerie glimmer from the snow that lighted
the way home; and he thought there must be more light from it than
could be accounted for merely by the reflection of every particle of
light that might fall upon it from other sources.

Margaret was not kept to the house by the snow, even when it was
falling. She went out as usual--not of course wandering far, for
walking was difficult now. But she was in little danger of losing
her way, for she knew the country as well as any one; and although
its face was greatly altered by the filling up of its features, and
the uniformity of the colour, yet those features were discernible to
her experienced eye through the sheet that covered them. It was
only necessary to walk on the tops of dykes, and other elevated
ridges, to keep clear of the deep snow.

There were many paths between the cottages and the farms in the
neighbourhood, in which she could walk with comparative ease and
comfort. But she preferred wandering away through the fields and
toward the hills. Sometimes she would come home like a creature of
the snow, born of it, and living in it; so covered was she from head
to foot with its flakes. David used to smile at her with peculiar
complacency on such occasions. It was evident that it pleased him
she should be the playmate of Nature. Janet was not altogether
indulgent to these freaks, as she considered them, of Marget--she
had quite given up calling her Meg, "sin' she took to the beuk so
eident." But whatever her mother might think of it, Margaret was in
this way laying up a store not only of bodily and mental health, but
of resources for thought and feeling, of secret understandings and
communions with Nature, and everything simple, and strong, and pure
through Nature, than which she could have accumulated nothing more

This kind of weather continued for some time, till the people
declared they had never known a storm last so long "ohn ever
devallt," that is, without intermission. But the frost grew harder;
and then the snow, instead of falling in large adhesive flakes, fell
in small dry flakes, of which the boys could make no snaw-ba's. All
the time, however, there was no wind; and this not being a sheep
country, there was little uneasiness or suffering occasioned by the
severity of the weather, beyond what must befall the poorer classes
in every northern country during the winter.

One day, David heard that a poor old man of his acquaintance was
dying, and immediately set out to visit him, at a distance of two or
three miles. He returned in the evening, only in time for his
studies; for there was of course little or nothing to be done at
present in the way of labour. As he sat down to the table, he said:

"I hae seen a wonnerfu' sicht sin' I saw you, Mr. Sutherlan'. I
gaed to see an auld Christian, whase body an' brain are nigh worn
oot. He was never onything remarkable for intellec, and jist took
what the minister tellt him for true, an' keepit the guid o't; for
his hert was aye richt, an' his faith a hantle stronger than maybe
it had ony richt to be, accordin' to his ain opingans; but, hech!
there's something far better nor his opingans i' the hert o' ilka
God-fearin' body. Whan I gaed butt the hoose, he was sittin' in's
auld arm-chair by the side o' the fire, an' his face luikit dazed
like. There was no licht in't but what cam' noo an' than frae a low
i' the fire. The snaw was driftin' a wee aboot the bit winnock, an'
his auld een was fixed upo't; an' a' 'at he said, takin' no notice
o' me, was jist, 'The birdies is flutterin'; the birdies is
flutterin'.' I spak' till him, an' tried to roose him, wi' ae thing
after anither, bit I micht as weel hae spoken to the door-cheek, for
a' the notice that he took. Never a word he spak', but aye 'The
birdies is flutterin'.' At last, it cam' to my min' 'at the body
was aye fu' o' ane o' the psalms in particler; an' sae I jist said
till him at last: 'John, hae ye forgotten the twenty-third psalm?'
'Forgotten the twenty-third psalm!' quo' he; an' his face lighted up
in a moment frae the inside: 'The Lord's my shepherd,--an' I hae
followed Him through a' the smorin' drift o' the warl', an' he'll
bring me to the green pastures an' the still waters o' His
summer-kingdom at the lang last. I shall not want. An' I hae
wanted for naething, naething.' He had been a shepherd himsel' in's
young days. And so on he gaed, wi' a kin' o' a personal commentary
on the haill psalm frae beginnin' to en', and syne he jist fell back
into the auld croonin' sang, 'The birdies is flutterin'; the birdies
is flutterin'.' The licht deed oot o' his face, an' a' that I could
say could na' bring back the licht to his face, nor the sense to his
tongue. He'll sune be in a better warl'. Sae I was jist forced to
leave him. But I promised his dochter, puir body, that I would ca'
again an' see him the morn's afternoon. It's unco dowie wark for
her; for they hae scarce a neebor within reach o' them, in case o' a
change; an' there had hardly been a creatur' inside o' their door
for a week."

The following afternoon, David set out according to his promise.
Before his return, the wind, which had been threatening to wake all
day, had risen rapidly, and now blew a snowstorm of its own. When
Hugh opened the door to take his usual walk to the cottage, just as
darkness was beginning to fall, the sight he saw made his young
strong heart dance with delight. The snow that fell made but a
small part of the wild, confused turmoil and uproar of the ten-fold
storm. For the wind, raving over the surface of the snow, which, as
I have already explained, lay nearly as loose as dry sand, swept it
in thick fierce clouds along with it, tearing it up and casting it
down again no one could tell where--for the whole air was filled
with drift, as they call the snow when thus driven. A few hours of
this would alter the face of the whole country, leaving some parts
bare, and others buried beneath heaps on heaps of snow, called here
snaw-wreaths. For the word snow-wreaths does not mean the lovely
garlands hung upon every tree and bush in its feathery fall; but
awful mounds of drifted snow, that may be the smooth, soft, white
sepulchres of dead men, smothered in the lapping folds of the almost
solid wind. Path or way was none before him. He could see nothing
but the surface of a sea of froth and foam, as it appeared to him,
with the spray torn from it, whirled in all shapes and contortions,
and driven in every direction; but chiefly, in the main direction of
the wind, in long sloping spires of misty whiteness, swift as
arrows, and as keen upon the face of him who dared to oppose them.

Hugh plunged into it with a wild sense of life and joy. In the
course of his short walk, however, if walk it could be called, which
was one chain of plungings and emergings, struggles with the snow,
and wrestles with the wind, he felt that it needed not a stout heart
only, but sound lungs and strong limbs as well, to battle with the
storm, even for such a distance. When he reached the cottage, he
found Janet in considerable anxiety, not only about David, who had
not yet returned, but about Margaret as well, whom she had not seen
for some time, and who must be out somewhere in the storm--"the wull
hizzie." Hugh suggested that she might have gone to meet her

"The Lord forbid!" ejaculated Janet. "The road lies ower the tap o'
the Halshach, as eerie and bare a place as ever was hill-moss, wi'
never a scoug or bield in't, frae the tae side to the tither. The
win' there jist gangs clean wud a'thegither. An' there's mony a
well-ee forbye, that gin ye fell intill't, ye wud never come at the
boddom o't. The Lord preserve's! I wis' Dawvid was hame."

"How could you let him go, Janet?"

"Lat him gang, laddie! It's a strang tow 'at wad haud or bin'
Dawvid, whan he considers he bud to gang, an' 'twere intill a deil's
byke. But I'm no that feared aboot him. I maist believe he's under
special protection, if ever man was or oucht to be; an' he's no more
feared at the storm, nor gin the snaw was angels' feathers
flauchterin' oot o' their wings a' aboot him. But I'm no easy i' my
min' aboot Maggy--the wull hizzie! Gin she be meetin' her father,
an' chance to miss him, the Lord kens what may come o' her."

Hugh tried to comfort her, but all that could be done was to wait
David's return. The storm seemed to increase rather than abate its
force. The footprints Hugh had made, had all but vanished already
at the very door of the house, which stood quite in the shelter of
the fir-wood. As they looked out, a dark figure appeared within a
yard or two of the house.

"The Lord grant it be my bairn!" prayed poor Janet. But it was
David, and alone. Janet gave a shriek.

"Dawvid, whaur's Maggie?"

"I haena seen the bairn," replied David, in repressed perturbation.
"She's no theroot, is she, the nicht?"

"She's no at hame, Dawvid, that's a' 'at I ken."

"Whaur gaed she?"

"The Lord kens. She's smoored i' the snaw by this time."

"She's i' the Lord's han's, Janet, be she aneath a snaw-vraith.
Dinna forget that, wuman. Hoo lang is't sin' ye missed her?"

"An hour an' mair--I dinna ken hoo lang. I'm clean doitit wi'

"I'll awa' an' leuk for her. Just haud the hert in her till I come
back, Mr. Sutherlan'."

"I won't be left behind, David. I'm going with you."

"Ye dinna ken what ye're sayin', Mr. Sutherlan'. I wad sune hae twa
o' ye to seek in place o' ane."

"Never heed me; I'm going on my own account, come what may."

"Weel, weel; I downa bide to differ. I'm gaein up the burn-side;
baud ye ower to the farm, and spier gin onybody's seen her; an' the
lads 'll be out to leuk for her in a jiffey. My puir lassie!"

The sigh that must have accompanied the last words, was lost in the
wind, as they vanished in the darkness. Janet fell on her knees in
the kitchen, with the door wide open, and the wind drifting in the
powdery snow, and scattering it with the ashes from the hearth over
the floor. A picture of more thorough desolation can hardly be
imagined. She soon came to herself, however; and reflecting that,
if the lost child was found, there must be a warm bed to receive
her, else she might be a second time lost, she rose and shut the
door, and mended the fire. It was as if the dumb attitude of her
prayer was answered; for though she had never spoken or even thought
a word, strength was restored to her distracted brain. When she had
made every preparation she could think of, she went to the door
again, opened it, and looked out. It was a region of howling
darkness, tossed about by pale snow-drifts; out of which it seemed
scarce more hopeful that welcome faces would emerge, than that they
should return to our eyes from the vast unknown in which they vanish
at last. She closed the door once more, and knowing nothing else to
be done, sat down on a chair, with her hands on her knees, and her
eyes fixed on the door. The clock went on with its slow swing,
tic--tac, tic--tac, an utterly inhuman time-measurer; but she heard
the sound of every second, through the midst of the uproar in the
fir-trees, which bent their tall heads hissing to the blast, and
swinging about in the agony of their strife. The minutes went by,
till an hour was gone, and there was neither sound nor hearing, but
of the storm and the clock. Still she sat and stared, her eyes
fixed on the door-latch. Suddenly, without warning it was lifted,
and the door opened. Her heart bounded and fluttered like a
startled bird; but alas! the first words she heard were: "Is she no
come yet?" It was her husband, followed by several of the farm
servants. He had made a circuit to the farm, and finding that Hugh
had never been there, hoped, though with trembling, that Margaret
had already returned home. The question fell upon Janet's heart
like the sound of the earth on the coffin-lid, and her silent stare
was the only answer David received.

But at that very moment, like a dead man burst from the tomb,
entered from behind the party at the open door, silent and white,
with rigid features and fixed eyes, Hugh. He stumbled in, leaning
forward with long strides, and dragging something behind him. He
pushed and staggered through them as if he saw nothing before him;
and as they parted horror-stricken, they saw that it was Margaret,
or her dead body, that he dragged after him. He dropped her at her
mother's feet, and fell himself on the floor, before they were able
to give him any support. David, who was quite calm, got the whisky
bottle out, and tried to administer some to Margaret first; but her
teeth were firmly set, and to all appearance she was dead. One of
the young men succeeded better with Hugh, whom at David's direction
they took into the study; while he and Janet got Margaret undressed
and put to bed, with hot bottles all about her; for in warmth lay
the only hope of restoring her. After she had lain thus for a
while, she gave a sigh; and when they had succeeded in getting her
to swallow some warm milk, she began to breathe, and soon seemed to
be only fast asleep. After half an hour's rest and warming, Hugh
was able to move and speak. David would not allow him to say much,
however, but got him to bed, sending word to the house that he could
not go home that night. He and Janet sat by the fireside all night,
listening to the storm that still raved without, and thanking God
for both of the lives. Every few minutes a tip-toe excursion was
made to the bedside, and now and then to the other room. Both the
patients slept quietly. Towards morning Margaret opened her eyes,
and faintly called her mother; but soon fell asleep once more, and
did not awake again till nearly noon. When sufficiently restored to
be able to speak, the account she gave was, that she had set out to
meet her father; but the storm increasing, she had thought it more
prudent to turn. It grew in violence, however, so rapidly, and beat
so directly in her face, that she was soon exhausted with
struggling, and benumbed with the cold. The last thing she
remembered was, dropping, as she thought, into a hole, and feeling
as if she were going to sleep in bed, yet knowing it was death; and
thinking how much sweeter it was than sleep. Hugh's account was
very strange and defective, but he was never able to add anything to
it. He said that, when he rushed out into the dark, the storm
seized him like a fury, beating him about the head and face with icy
wings, till he was almost stunned. He took the road to the farm,
which lay through the fir-wood; but he soon became aware that he had
lost his way and might tramp about in the fir-wood till daylight, if
he lived as long. Then, thinking of Margaret, he lost his presence
of mind, and rushed wildly along. He thought he must have knocked
his head against the trunk of a tree, but he could not tell; for he
remembered nothing more but that he found himself dragging Margaret,
with his arms round her, through the snow, and nearing the light in
the cottage-window. Where or how he had found her, or what the
light was that he was approaching, he had not the least idea. He
had only a vague notion that he was rescuing Margaret from something
dreadful. Margaret, for her part, had no recollection of reaching
the fir-wood, and as, long before morning, all traces were
obliterated, the facts remained a mystery. Janet thought that David
had some wonderful persuasion about it; but he was never heard even
to speculate on the subject. Certain it was, that Hugh had saved
Margaret's life. He seemed quite well next day, for he was of a
very powerful and enduring frame for his years. She recovered more
slowly, and perhaps never altogether overcame the effects of Death's
embrace that night. From the moment when Margaret was brought home,
the storm gradually died away, and by the morning all was still; but
many starry and moonlit nights glimmered and passed, before that
snow was melted away from the earth; and many a night Janet awoke
from her sleep with a cry, thinking she heard her daughter moaning,
deep in the smooth ocean of snow, and could not find where she lay.

The occurrences of this dreadful night could not lessen the interest
his cottage friends felt in Hugh; and a long winter passed with
daily and lengthening communion both in study and in general
conversation. I fear some of my younger readers will think my story
slow; and say: "What! are they not going to fall in love with each
other yet? We have been expecting it ever so long." I have two
answers to make to this. The first is: "I do not pretend to know so
much about love as you--excuse me--think you do; and must confess, I
do not know whether they were in love with each other or not." The
second is: "That I dare not pretend to understand thoroughly such a
sacred mystery as the heart of Margaret; and I should feel it rather
worse than presumptuous to talk as if I did. Even Hugh's is known
to me only by gleams of light thrown, now and then, and here and
there, upon it." Perhaps the two answers are only the same answer
in different shapes.

Mrs. Glasford, however, would easily answer the question, if an
answer is all that is wanted; for she, notwithstanding the facts of
the story, which she could not fail to have heard correctly from the
best authority, and notwithstanding the nature of the night, which
might have seemed sufficient to overthrow her conclusions, uniformly
remarked, as often as their escape was alluded to in her hearing,

"Lat them tak' it They had no business to be oot aboot thegither."



Tell me, bright boy, tell me, my golden lad,
Whither away so frolic? Why so glad?
What all thy wealth in council? all thy state?
Are husks so dear? troth, 'tis a mighty rate.


The long Scotch winter passed by without any interruption to the
growing friendship. But the spring brought a change; and Hugh was
separated from his friends sooner than he had anticipated, by more
than six months. For his mother wrote to him in great distress, in
consequence of a claim made upon her for some debt which his father
had contracted, very probably for Hugh's own sake. Hugh could not
bear that any such should remain undischarged, or that his father's
name should not rest in peace as well as his body and soul. He
requested, therefore, from the laird, the amount due to him, and
despatched almost the whole of it for the liquidation of this debt,
so that he was now as unprovided as before for the expenses of the
coming winter at Aberdeen. But, about the same time, a
fellow-student wrote to him with news of a situation for the summer,
worth three times as much as his present one, and to be procured
through his friend's interest. Hugh having engaged himself to the
laird only for the winter, although he had intended to stay till the
commencement of the following session, felt that, although he would
much rather remain where he was, he must not hesitate a moment to
accept his friend's offer; and therefore wrote at once.

I will not attempt to describe the parting. It was very quiet, but
very solemn and sad. Janet showed far more distress than Margaret,
for she wept outright. The tears stood in David's eyes, as he
grasped the youth's hand in silence. Margaret was very pale; that
was all. As soon as Hugh disappeared with her father, who was going
to walk with him to the village through which the coach passed, she
hurried away, and went to the fir-wood for comfort.

Hugh found his new situation in Perthshire very different from the
last. The heads of the family being themselves a lady and a
gentleman, he found himself a gentleman too. He had more to do, but
his work left him plenty of leisure notwithstanding. A good portion
of his spare time he devoted to verse-making, to which he felt a
growing impulse; and whatever may have been the merit of his
compositions, they did him intellectual good at least, if it were
only through the process of their construction. He wrote to David
after his arrival, telling him all about his new situation; and
received in return a letter from Margaret, written at her father's
dictation. The mechanical part of letter-writing was rather
laborious to David; but Margaret wrote well, in consequence of the
number of papers, of one sort and another, which she had written for
Hugh. Three or four letters more passed between them at lengthening
intervals. Then they ceased--on Hugh's side first; until, when on
the point of leaving for Aberdeen, feeling somewhat
conscience-stricken at not having written for so long, he scribbled
a note to inform them of his approaching departure, promising to let
them know his address as soon as he found himself settled. Will it
be believed that the session went by without the redemption of this
pledge? Surely he could not have felt, to any approximate degree,
the amount of obligation he was under to his humble friends.
Perhaps, indeed, he may have thought that the obligation was
principally on their side; as it would have been, if intellectual
assistance could outweigh heart-kindness, and spiritual impulse and
enlightenment; for, unconsciously in a great measure to himself, he
had learned from David to regard in a new and more real aspect, many
of those truths which he had hitherto received as true, and which
yet had till then produced in him no other than a feeling of the
common-place and uninteresting at the best.

Besides this, and many cognate advantages, a thousand seeds of truth
must have surely remained in his mind, dropped there from the same
tongue of wisdom, and only waiting the friendly aid of a hard
winter, breaking up the cold, selfish clods of clay, to share in the
loveliness of a new spring, and be perfected in the beauty of a new

However this may have been, it is certain that he forgot his old
friends far more than he himself could have thought it possible he
should; for, to make the best of it, youth is easily attracted and
filled with the present show, and easily forgets that which, from
distance in time or space, has no show to show. Spending his
evenings in the midst of merry faces, and ready tongues fluent with
the tones of jollity, if not always of wit, which glided sometimes
into no too earnest discussion of the difficult subjects occupying
their student hours; surrounded by the vapours of whisky-toddy, and
the smoke of cutty pipes, till far into the short hours; then
hurrying home, and lapsing into unrefreshing slumbers over intended
study; or sitting up all night to prepare the tasks which had been
neglected for a ball or an evening with Wilson, the great
interpreter of Scottish song--it is hardly to be wondered at that he
should lose the finer consciousness of higher powers and deeper
feelings, not from any behaviour in itself wrong, but from the
hurry, noise, and tumult in the streets of life, that, penetrating
too deep into the house of life, dazed and stupefied the silent and
lonely watcher in the chamber of conscience, far apart. He had no
time to think or feel.

The session drew to a close. He eschewed all idleness; shut himself
up, after class hours, with his books; ate little, studied hard,
slept irregularly, working always best between midnight and two in
the morning; carried the first honours in most of his classes; and
at length breathed freely, but with a dizzy brain, and a face that
revealed, in pale cheeks, and red, weary eyes, the results of an
excess of mental labour--an excess which is as injurious as any
other kind of intemperance, the moral degradation alone kept out of
view. Proud of his success, he sat down and wrote a short note,
with a simple statement of it, to David; hoping, in his secret mind,
that he would attribute his previous silence to an absorption in
study which had not existed before the end of the session was quite
at hand. Now that he had more time for reflection, he could not
bear the idea that that noble rustic face should look disapprovingly
or, still worse, coldly upon him; and he could not help feeling as
if the old ploughman had taken the place of his father, as the only
man of whom he must stand in awe, and who had a right to reprove
him. He did reprove him now, though unintentionally. For David was
delighted at having such good news from him; and the uneasiness
which he had felt, but never quite expressed, was almost swept away
in the conclusion, that it was unreasonable to expect the young man
to give his time to them both absent and present, especially when he
had been occupied to such good purpose as this letter signified. So
he was nearly at peace about him--though not quite. Hugh received
from him the following letter in reply to his; dictated, as usual,
to his secretary, Margaret:--


"Ye'll be a great man some day, gin ye haud at it. But things
maunna be gotten at the outlay o' mair than they're worth. Ye'll
ken what I mean. An' there's better things nor bein' a great man,
efter a'. Forgie the liberty I tak' in remin'in' ye o' sic like.
I'm only remin'in' ye o' what ye ken weel aneuch. But ye're a
brave lad, an' ye hae been an unco frien' to me an' mine; an' I pray
the Lord to thank ye for me, for ye hae dune muckle guid to his
bairns--meanin' me an' mine. It's verra kin' o' ye to vrite till's
in the verra moment o' victory; but weel ye kent that amid a' yer
frien's--an' ye canna fail to hae mony a ane, wi' a head an' a face
like yours--there was na ane--na, no ane, that wad rejoice mair ower
your success than Janet, or my doo, Maggie, or yer ain auld obleeged
frien' an' servant,


"P.S.--We're a' weel, an' unco blythe at your letter.


"P.S. 2.--Dear Mr. Sutherland,--I wrote all the above at my father's
dictation, and just as he said it, for I thought you would like his
Scotch better than my English. My mother and I myself are rejoiced
at the good news. My mother fairly grat outright. I gaed out to
the tree where I met you first. I wonder sair sometimes if you was
the angel I was to meet in the fir-wood. I am,

"Your obedient servant,


This letter certainly touched Hugh. But he could not help feeling
rather offended that David should write to him in such a warning
tone. He had never addressed him in this fashion when he saw him
every day. Indeed, David could not very easily have spoken to him
thus. But writing is a different thing; and men who are not much
accustomed to use a pen, often assume a more solemn tone in doing
so, as if it were a ceremony that required state. As for David,
having been a little uneasy about Hugh, and not much afraid of
offending him--for he did not know his weaknesses very thoroughly,
and did not take into account the effect of the very falling away
which he dreaded, in increasing in him pride, and that impatience of
the gentlest reproof natural to every man--he felt considerably
relieved after he had discharged his duty in this memento vivere.
But one of the results, and a very unexpected one, was, that a yet
longer period elapsed before Hugh wrote again to David. He meant to
do so, and meant to do so; but, as often as the thought occurred to
him, was checked both by consciousness and by pride. So much
contributes, not the evil alone that is in us, but the good also
sometimes, to hold us back from doing the thing we ought to do.

It now remained for Hugh to look about for some occupation. The
state of his funds rendered immediate employment absolutely
necessary; and as there was only one way in which he could earn
money without yet further preparation, he must betake himself to
that way, as he had done before, in the hope that it would lead to
something better. At all events, it would give him time to look
about him, and make up his mind for the future. Many a one, to whom
the occupation of a tutor is far more irksome than it was to Hugh,
is compelled to turn his acquirements to this immediate account;
and, once going in this groove, can never get out of it again. But
Hugh was hopeful enough to think, that his reputation at the
university would stand him in some stead; and, however much he would
have disliked the thought of being a tutor all his days, occupying a
kind of neutral territory between the position of a gentleman and
that of a menial, he had enough of strong Saxon good sense to
prevent him, despite his Highland pride, from seeing any great
hardship in labouring still for a little while, as he had laboured
hitherto. But he hoped to find a situation more desirable than
either of those he had occupied before; and, with this expectation,
looked towards the South, as most Scotchmen do, indulging the
national impulse to spoil the Egyptians. Nor did he look long,
sending his tentacles afloat in every direction, before he heard,
through means of a college friend, of just such a situation as he
wanted, in the family of a gentleman of fortune in the county of
Surrey, not much more than twenty miles from London. This he was
fortunate enough to obtain without difficulty.

Margaret was likewise on the eve of a change. She stood like a
young fledged bird on the edge of the nest, ready to take its first
long flight. It was necessary that she should do something for
herself, not so much from the compulsion of immediate circumstances,
as in prospect of the future. Her father was not an old man, but at
best he could leave only a trifle at his death; and if Janet
outlived him, she would probably require all that, and what labour
she would then be capable of as well, to support herself. Margaret
was anxious, too, though not to be independent, yet, not to be
burdensome. Both David and Janet saw that, by her peculiar tastes
and habits, she had separated herself so far from the circle around
her, that she could never hope to be quite comfortable in that
neighbourhood. It was not that by any means she despised or refused
the labours common to the young women of the country; but, all
things considered, they thought that something more suitable for her
might be procured.

The laird's lady continued to behave to her in the most supercilious
fashion. The very day of Hugh's departure, she had chanced to meet
Margaret walking alone with a book, this time unopened, in her hand.
Mrs. Glasford stopped. Margaret stopped too, expecting to be
addressed. The lady looked at her, all over, from head to foot, as
if critically examining the appearance of an animal she thought of
purchasing; then, without a word, but with a contemptuous toss of
the head, passed on, leaving poor Margaret both angry and ashamed.

But David was much respected by the gentry of the neighbourhood,
with whom his position, as the laird's steward, brought him not
unfrequently into contact; and to several of them he mentioned his
desire of finding some situation for Margaret. Janet could not bear
the idea of her lady-bairn leaving them, to encounter the world
alone; but David, though he could not help sometimes feeling a
similar pang, was able to take to himself hearty comfort from the
thought, that if there was any safety for her in her father's house,
there could not be less in her heavenly Father's, in any nook of
which she was as full in His eye, and as near His heart, as in their
own cottage. He felt that anxiety in this case, as in every other,
would just be a lack of confidence in God, to suppose which
justifiable would be equivalent to saying that He had not fixed the
foundations of the earth that it should not be moved; that He was
not the Lord of Life, nor the Father of His children; in short, that
a sparrow could fall to the ground without Him, and that the hairs
of our head are not numbered. Janet admitted all this, but sighed
nevertheless. So did David too, at times; for he knew that the
sparrow must fall; that many a divine truth is hard to learn,
all-blessed as it is when learned; and that sorrow and suffering
must come to Margaret, ere she could be fashioned into the
perfection of a child of the kingdom. Still, she was as safe abroad
as at home.

An elderly lady of fortune was on a visit to one of the families in
the neighbourhood. She was in want of a lady's-maid, and it
occurred to the housekeeper that Margaret might suit her. This was
not quite what her parents would have chosen, but they allowed her
to go and see the lady. Margaret was delighted with the
benevolent-looking gentlewoman; and she, on her part, was quite
charmed with Margaret. It was true she knew nothing of the duties
of the office; but the present maid, who was leaving on the best of
terms, would soon initiate her into its mysteries. And David and
Janet were so much pleased with Margaret's account of the interview,
that David himself went to see the lady. The sight of him only
increased her desire to have Margaret, whom she said she would treat
like a daughter, if only she were half as good as she looked.
Before David left her, the matter was arranged; and within a month,
Margaret was borne in her mistress's carriage, away from father and
mother and cottage-home.




The earth hath bubbles as the water has.




A wise man's home is whereso'er he's wise.

JOHN MARSTON.--Antonio's Revenge.

Hugh left the North dead in the arms of grey winter, and found his
new abode already alive in the breath of the west wind. As he
walked up the avenue to the house, he felt that the buds were
breaking all about, though, the night being dark and cloudy, the
green shadows of the coming spring were invisible.

He was received at the hall-door, and shown to his room, by an old,
apparently confidential, and certainly important butler; whose
importance, however, was inoffensive, as founded, to all appearance,
on a sense of family and not of personal dignity. Refreshment was
then brought him, with the message that, as it was late, Mr. Arnold
would defer the pleasure of meeting him till the morning at

Left to himself, Hugh began to look around him. Everything
suggested a contrast between his present position and that which he
had first occupied about the same time of the year at Turriepuffit.
He was in an old handsome room of dark wainscot, furnished like a
library, with book-cases about the walls. One of them, with glass
doors, had an ancient escritoire underneath, which was open, and
evidently left empty for his use. A fire was burning cheerfully in
an old high grate; but its light, though assisted by that of two wax
candles on the table, failed to show the outlines of the room, it
was so large and dark. The ceiling was rather low in proportion,
and a huge beam crossed it. At one end, an open door revealed a
room beyond, likewise lighted with fire and candles. Entering, he
found this to be an equally old-fashioned bedroom, to which his
luggage had been already conveyed.

"As far as creature comforts go," thought Hugh, "I have fallen on my
feet." He rang the bell, had the tray removed, and then proceeded
to examine the book-cases. He found them to contain much of the
literature with which he was most desirous of making an
acquaintance. A few books of the day were interspersed. The sense
of having good companions in the authors around him, added greatly
to his feeling of comfort; and he retired for the night filled with
pleasant anticipations of his sojourn at Arnstead. All the night,
however, his dreams were of wind and snow, and Margaret out in them
alone. Janet was waiting in the cottage for him to bring her home.
He had found her, but could not move her; for the spirit of the
storm had frozen her to ice, and she was heavy as a marble statue.

When he awoke, the shadows of boughs and budding twigs were waving
in changeful network-tracery, across the bright sunshine on his
window-curtains. Before he was called he was ready to go down; and
to amuse himself till breakfast-time, he proceeded to make another
survey of the books. He concluded that these must be a colony from
the mother-library; and also that the room must, notwithstanding, be
intended for his especial occupation, seeing his bedroom opened out
of it. Next, he looked from all the windows, to discover into what
kind of a furrow on the face of the old earth he had fallen. All he
could see was trees and trees. But oh! how different from the
sombre, dark, changeless fir-wood at Turriepuffit! whose trees

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