THE ESKDALE HERD-BOY
A Scottish Tale
FOR THE INSTRUCTION AND AMUSEMENT OF YOUNG PERSONS
BY MRS. BLACKFORD
Description of Eskdale.—History of Marion Scott and John Telfer.—He loses his Parents.—Mr. Martin, the Pastor, befriends him.—John engaged by Mr. Laurie as his herd-boy.—Helen Martin's first attempt at horsemanship.—Her mother points out the advantages of perseverance and self-command.
Excursion towards the Glen.—Beautiful scenery.—Account of the Borderers.—The Minister visits David Little's cottage—Rustic manners.—Canine sagacity.—The visitors take their departure.
John gains the approbation of the Pastor.—Visit to Mr. Elliott.—His cottage delightfully situated.—Helen cautioned by her father against affectation.—Arrival at Minkirk.—Visit at Craigie Hall.—Mrs. Scott's hospitality.—John dispatched on an errand.—His unlucky disaster.—The party returns by moonlight.—Their arrival at the Manse relieves Mrs. Martin's anxiety.
John's reflexions on entering service.—Receives advice from the Minister for his future conduct.—John's good intentions the cause of great anxiety.
Sunday morning.—The family assembled for morning prayer.—Interesting description of the villagers' manners on the Sabbath.—Serious illnesses.—John in an awkward dilemma.—Hateful effects of intoxication.—Miss Helen taken seriously ill.—A curtain lecture.
Uncertainty of human events.—News of Captain Elliott.—An agreeable present.—John gains the approbation of the Minister for his activity.
John enters Mr. Laurie's service.—New companions.—He receives instruction in his new employ.—Surprising sagacity of the shepherds' dogs.—Marion recovered.
Arrival of Capt. Elliott.—Unfavourable character of William Martin.—His hasty temper the cause of uneasiness to his parents.—He is placed under the care of Mr. Lamont.—Helen's amiability.—The party take their departure for Kelso.
Hospitable reception at Kelso.—Interview between Capt. Elliott and his nephew William.—The party return to the Manse.—Helen's attachment to home.—Capt. Elliott joins his vessel.—Alarm of the family at the sudden disappearance of William Martin.
Mrs. Martin greatly distressed by William's thoughtless and undutiful conduct.—Helen shrewdly guesses her brother's plans.—Information received from Capt. Elliott that William has joined him.—William solicits permission to accompany his uncle to sea.—His parents reluctantly consent.—Mrs. Martin's death ensues.
Helen's grandmother takes charge of the household.—Marion Scott resides with Helen at the Manse.—John Telfer gradually improves himself.—Capt. Elliott and his nephew arrive in England.—Their anxiety to visit Eskdale again.—Mrs. Elliott's repugnance at seeing her undutiful grandson causes her departure to Mr. Armstrong's.
William's arrival, and interview with his sister.—Affectionately received by his father.—Marion narrowly escapes perishing in a snow storm.—Intrepidity of William and John.—The departure of Capt. Elliott and William the cause of distress and fearful forebodings.—John accompanies them.
Their arrival in the metropolis.—And voyage to the Mediterranean.—Sudden disappearance of William and the boat's crew at sea.—A sea fight.—Capt. Elliott killed, the vessel taken by the enemy, and the crew made prisoners.—The news of these disasters cause the death of Mr. Martin.
Helen vacates the parsonage, and joins Miss Maxwell's millinery establishment.—They become greatly attached.—John Telfer, after several years' captivity, makes his escape.
John's unexpected interview with Marion.—They are married, and settle in Eskdale.—His interview with Helen.—She is induced to accompany him to Eskdale; and is finally married to Mr. Johnstone, the Minister of Eskdale.
The Author of this little Work, many years ago, spent a few weeks in Eskdale, the scene where she has placed the principal events of her tale. The beauty of the country made a deep impression on her mind, at the time; perhaps the more so, from its being the farthest excursion to the southward, that she had then made from her native home. She, however, by no means pretends to pourtray the scenery in the course of her narrative, with minute accuracy. Too long a period has since elapsed, and she has seen in the interval too great a variety of places, to retain an exact recollection of every spot in this delightful dale; but its general features remain strongly fixed in her memory; and she hopes that her young readers will not find her tale less interesting from any slight inaccuracy which they may discover in the local description.
The general character and manners of the inhabitants are, she believes, more correctly represented; for there is scarcely an incident, exemplifying these in the following pages, of which she has not known a counterpart in real life. The respect universally paid by the parishioners to their clergyman, and the familiar intercourse and great influence which the latter possesses, in forming their minds and morals, are circumstances which have fallen under her own observation, not only in Eskdale, but in various other parts of Scotland; and she has felt a peculiar satisfaction in describing the simple and useful life of MR. and MRS. MARTIN, from the remembrance of many worthy couples in similar situations, who might have sat for the resemblance. She has endeavoured, in relating the adventures of JOHN TELFER, the Eskdale Herd-boy, to impress on the minds of her young readers, the permanent advantages of early integrity and gratitude. In the short and unfortunate life of WILLIAM MARTIN, she has attempted to show the duty that is incumbent on all young people, to subdue that disobedient and self-willed temper, which may otherwise undermine, not only their own comfort and happiness, but those of their parents and friends, of all whom they love, and of all to whom they are dear. The character of HELEN is meant, on the contrary, to illustrate the inestimable value that a dutiful daughter may be of, both to father and mother; the prudence, the steadiness, and even the energy which Helen displays, on some trying occasions, will not, it is hoped, appear to be overstrained, when her conduct is considered as the result of an education conducted on these steady principles, which insure the love and obedience of the child, by inspiring a firm reliance on the justice and affection of the parent.
THE ESKDALE HERD-BOY
In the year 1807 there stood on the beautiful banks of the river Esk, in Dumfriesshire, one of the most southern counties in Scotland, a small cottage. The neat white walls, well-thatched roof, and clean casement-windows, ornamented as they were with honeysuckles and roses, attracted the admiration of a few strangers, who, from the uncommon beauty and grandeur of the scenery, were tempted to turn off the direct road from Langholm to Edinburgh, and follow the windings of the river to its source. The cottages in general, in that part of the country, present a very different appearance; having too frequently a look of neglect, the windows broken, the walls dirty, and instead of a pretty garden, a heap of mud before the door. The contrast, therefore, rendered this building the more remarkable; and led people to suppose, what indeed was the case, that its inhabitants were more industrious, and had seen a little more of the customs of other countries, than their less neat and cleanly neighbours.
The names of the couple who resided on this spot, were John and Marion Telfer: their history I am now going to relate. John was the only son of an honest, industrious couple, who lived in the neighbourhood of Langholm, but who unfortunately both died of a fever, when he was little more than ten years old, leaving him nothing but their blessing, and the virtuous habits of integrity and obedience, in which they had trained him from his earliest youth. On their death-bed they entreated that the excellent clergyman, who, in spite of the malignity of the disease, continued to comfort and pray by them in their last moments, would take compassion on their poor little orphan, and find him employment among the neighbouring farmers, either as a herd-boy to some of the numerous flocks of sheep which are common in Eskdale, or as a plough-boy in their fields. Mr. Martin, for such was the name of the pious pastor, assured them that he would do all in his power for their child: and he kept his word; for as soon as they were dead, he took the boy home to his own house, and there endeavoured, by kindness and sympathy, to console him for his great and irreparable loss. For some days, all his endeavours were unsuccessful. John, though sensible of the kind attentions of Mr. Martin, still felt miserable and unhappy. All his dear mother's care and tenderness; all the pains and trouble that his kind father used to take in teaching him to read his Bible, after, perhaps, a hard day's work; the delight with which they both watched his improvement—all, all rose to poor John's mind, and made him believe he never more could be happy.
Mr. Martin, at last, seeing the boy's melancholy continue, thought that a little employment might serve to rouse him. He therefore one morning called John into his study, and asked him if he would be so good as to assist in dusting and arranging some books, which were in a large chest in the corner of the room. John, from lowness of spirits, did not much like to be employed; but as he had been taught by his father always to be obedient, and to do at once whatever he was desired, he immediately set about dusting the books. The first two or three he merely wiped, and put them down without looking at them; but at last, in rubbing one, a leaf fell out, which obliged him to open the book to put it back again. The work happened to be a handsome edition of Robinson Crusoe, with very beautiful prints. Mr. Martin, who was watching him unobserved, called to him to bring the book, and then told him he might look at the pictures if he pleased. John, who had never seen any thing of the kind before, was delighted with this permission, and placing himself at a little distance, so as not to disturb Mr. Martin, began turning over the leaves; his eyes sparkling, and his little hands trembling with increased delight, at every new scene that was represented. At last he came to the one where Man Friday is saved from the savages. Here his curiosity got the better of the natural awe he felt for Mr. Martin; and he cried out, "Pray, Sir, be so good as to tell me what this means!"—for though John had been taught to read his Bible, as well as his poor father was capable of teaching, yet this was in so imperfect a way, that he could by no means read easily, and was obliged to spell more than half his words. Mr. Martin smiled good-naturedly, as John's exclamation made him raise his head from the book he was reading; and desiring him to come near his chair, he explained, at some length, what the print represented; after which he asked John if he would not like to be able to read the story himself. John immediately answered, "O dear! yes Sir, that I should; but," looking down, and the tears starting into his eyes, "that can never be now; for my dear father is dead and gone; and nobody else will ever take the trouble to teach so poor a boy as I am. And yet," continued he, looking in Mr. Martin's face, and brightening a little with a kind of hope, "don't you think, Sir, that if I succeed in getting a place, and if I am very, very attentive, and always take pains to please my master, I may in time be able to save, out of my wages, as much as a penny a week, for I know if I could do that, I might go to the school at Langholm. I remember hearing my poor dear father wish very much that he could afford to pay so much money for me; as he said he was sure that Mr. Campbell would teach me to read much better than he could."
John here stopped, and seemed to wait anxiously to hear what Mr. Martin would say to his little plan. After a few minutes' consideration, this worthy man replied, "my dear John, I am afraid it would be a long time before you would be able to save so much out of the very small sum that such a little boy as you can earn;" but, seeing the poor fellow look disappointed, he went on to say, that he had a little scheme to propose, which he hoped John would like as well as going to Langholm school. He then added, "my dear John, when your parents were dying, I promised them to take care of you, and to endeavour to find a master who would be willing to take you into his service, and treat you kindly. With that view, I have been inquiring all around, amongst my parishioners, whether any of them were in want of such a little fellow; and this morning my neighbour, Mr. Laurie, has called to ask me if I think you may be trusted with the care of a flock of sheep, up behind the hills, on the other side of the river. I told him you might certainly be trusted, as I was sure you were an honest boy; and that if you undertook the charge, after he had explained to your what your duty was to consist in, I had no doubt you would do all in your power to perform it. But, at the same time, I told him you must determine for yourself; as I would on no account press you to leave me sooner than was quite agreeable to your own feelings. Now," continued he, seeing John beginning to speak, "hear what I have to propose to you. It is, that if you go to live with Mr. Laurie, I will make an agreement with him, provided you are a careful and industrious boy in his service through the day, that he shall allow you, after you have penned your sheep, to come to me for an hour in the evening; and in that hour, if we both, my dear boy, make a good use of our time, I in teaching, and you in learning, I have little doubt but that in a very short time you will be able to read perfectly, both this book and many other useful and entertaining stories. Take time to reflect on what I have been saying to you," continued Mr. Martin, "and be sure that you are resolved in your own mind to be an honest and industrious servant to Mr. Laurie, so far as your strength and years will allow, before you engage with him; and if, after thinking over the subject, you believe that you can promise me to be very attentive, and strive to learn what I shall be most willing to teach you, then, my dear John, I shall consider the plan as nearly settled, and shall only wait till I have seen Mr. Laurie to make it completely so."
Mr. Martin then pointed to the green plat before the window, where his little daughter was standing looking at some beautiful crocuses, which had made their first appearance that season; and said, "Go, John, now; and let me see if you are a handy lad, and can get Master William's pony ready for Helen; as I have promised her a ride up the glen, if she has pleased her mother by attention to her morning lessons; and I think, by her merry face, she must have earned her reward. I am going a couple of miles to see David Little, who, you know, broke his leg last week by a fall from his horse; and if you will go and get the pony ready, I will desire Mrs. Martin to put up a loaf of wheaten bread, which will be a rarity to him, and which he may perhaps relish more than his oaten cakes whilst he is sick; and you, John, get your bonnet (boys always wear Highland bonnets, instead of hats, in the hilly part of Scotland) and come along with us; as you can carry the basket and open the gates for Helen. To-morrow morning will be time enough for you to give me your answer about Mr. Laurie." John made an awkward bow, and a scrape with his foot, and then set off in search of the pony, which was feeding on a green flat plain by the side of a river, which sort of meadow in that country is called a holm. The animal appeared very quiet, and suffered John to come close to him, without attempting to move; but the moment he tried to put out his hand to take hold of him, off went the pony as fast as he could scamper. When he got at a little distance, he stopped and looked back at John, who again approached and attempted to lay hold of him, but with no better success. All this was observed by Helen, for the green plat, where she stood, overlooked the holm; and though she could not help laughing at first, on seeing John's awkward attempts to catch the pony, yet, as she was a good-natured little girl, she soon ran into the house, and begged a little corn of her papa, and having put it in her pinafore, she skipped down the lane with it to the holm, where holding it out to let Bob (for that was the pony's name) see it, he instantly began trotting towards her, neighing with pleasure. She then told John to throw the halter over Bob's neck while he was eating, and he might jump on his back and ride him up to the stable, where he would find the side-saddle. John very soon appeared in front of the house with the pony neatly combed, brushed, and ornamented with a very pretty little white side-saddle and bridle, a present which Helen had received from her grand-mamma the last time she had visited Eskdale. "My dear Helen," said the old lady, when she presented them to her, "I have brought you this side-saddle, in hopes that it may induce you to conquer your fears of mounting a horse. I am very anxious, considering the part of the world in which you live, that you should learn to ride well; as it may be of essential consequences to you through life. Besides," added she, smiling, "you know, my dear, that unless you are a good horsewoman, I can never have the pleasure of seeing you at Melrose; for your dear papa cannot afford to send you by any other mode of conveyance. Nothing but practice will ever give you the confidence that is necessary to enable you to accomplish this; and I hope that, whenever you see pony dressed in his new saddle and bridle, it will remind you of the great delight that I shall have in seeing my dear girl riding up to my door at Melrose." Helen thanked her grandmother, and said she would try if she could learn; but she hoped her papa would walk close by her side, and make Bob go very slowly at first. Nothing, she was sure, would give her so much pleasure as to go and visit her dear grandmamma. Her mother took an opportunity of speaking to her when they were alone, and told her that if, in the course of the summer, she had gained a sufficient command of her pony and a firm seat in her side-saddle, she should accompany both her parents to Melrose in August, the time when they usually made their annual visit to the good old lady.
Helen was quite delighted with this promise, and for the moment forgot what she had to accomplish before her journey could take place. However, next morning, on going down stairs, after she had finished her lessons, she found that, though she had forgotten all about learning to ride, her father had not; for before the little glass door of the study stood Bob, the pony, ready saddled and bridled, and her papa waiting anxiously for his little girl's appearance. As soon as he saw her, he called out, "come Helen, my dear, I am quite ready to give you your first lesson in riding, and I hope I shall have an expert little scholar." Helen walked rather slowly towards her papa; and when he took her in his arms to put her on the pony, she looked a little pale, but as she had promised to try to learn, she endeavoured to conquer her fears, and suffered herself to be placed on the saddle very quietly. Her father took a great deal of pains to show her how to hold her bridle, and how to manage Bob; and after making him walk gently two or three times round the green, in front of the house, whilst he himself held her on, Mr. Martin ventured to leave her seated alone, and only walked by her side.
After repeating this for two or three days, Helen began to feel more comfortable, and even was glad when her riding hour arrived. In the course of a week she had ridden as far as the end of the green holm, and had begun to allow Bob to trot home. In another week she had ventured on a canter: and for the last month had improved so much as to become her father's constant companion in all his walks through the parish, when he went either to visit the sick, or comfort the afflicted; duties which are conscientiously performed by the Scottish clergy in general, and by none more regularly than they were by Mr. Martin. Helen now felt that she was rewarded for all the trouble she had had in conquering her fears; for, besides the pleasure she enjoyed in the exercise, she was by these means enabled to see much more of the beautiful country in which she lived, than she could ever have accomplished by walking; and besides, her dear father was always by her side, to point out and explain all the beauties of the surrounding scenery, as well as to relate to her many of the little local stories, which abound in that part of the country, and possess peculiar interest to the young mind. Her mother, on her return, quite delighted, from one of these charming excursions, took the opportunity of pointing out to her the advantages of perseverance and self-command, and Helen promised, and indeed firmly resolved, never again to allow herself to give way to foolish fears; nor ever to fancy it impossible to conquer what might at first sight appear difficult, until she had at least tried with her whole mind to overcome the difficulty.
We must now return to our little party, who were setting out on their excursions towards the glen, that is to say, a deep and narrow opening between the hills which bound the dale.
John had no sooner assisted Helen to mount Bob, than Mr. Martin made his appearance, accompanied by Mrs. Martin, who came to see them set off, she being detained at home that morning, arranging some household affairs, which required her presence, and which would not admit of delay. After wishing them good bye, and giving Helen many charges to be careful, and keep a firm hold of her bridle, Mrs. Martin returned into the house, and the travellers proceeded to follow the windings up towards the glen, where David Little's cottage stood. Nothing can exceed the beauty of this walk. The holm extends above a mile above Mr. Martin's house, divided by a large and rapid river, on each side of which hills rise, almost as high as the eye can reach, covered with rich, smooth verdure, up to the very top, and seeming to shut out the inhabitants of the valley from all communication with the rest of the world. As Mr. Martin and the young people proceeded leisurely along the road, he related to them several stories, which occurred to him at the moment, and which he thought would interest and amuse them. He told them that, in former times, before Scotland and England were united, there were continual wars between the Borderers, or inhabitants of the country on each side of the border dividing the two kingdoms; and that, in order to check the English from coming over, and plundering the Scotch of their sheep and cattle, one of the Scottish kings, named James, was said to have brought a family of seven brothers, of the name of ELLIOTT, from the Highlands, a stout and hardy race, whom he settled all along the borders of Scotland; "and the Elliotts," said he, "my dears, who, you know are now so numerous all through the Dale, are said to be descended from these seven brothers." Mr. Martin was going on to tell of Johnnie Armstrong, who was one of the great chieftains of those times, and was a sad enemy to the English, when John, who had been listening with great eagerness to all he had heard, cried out, "Oh! Johnnie Armstrong! I have heard of him sir, all the Dale knows about him. He was a great robber, was he not? I remember, my father used to sing some old songs about him to me; and I think I could repeat parts of the verses myself, if Miss Helen would like to hear them, and you, sir, would give me leave." "Certainly John," answered Mr. Martin, "I am sure Helen will like to hear them much."
John cleared his voice, and after considering a little while, began the following old ballad:—
Some speak of lords, some speak of lairds, And such like men of high degree; Of a gentleman I sing a song, Sometime called Laird of Gilnockie.
The King he writes a loving letter, With his own hand so tenderly, And he hath sent it to Johnnie Armstrong, To come and speak with him speedily.
The Elliotts and Armstrongs did convene, They were a gallant company; "We'll ride and meet our lawful king, And bring him safe to Gilnockie."
They ran their steeds on the Langholm holm, They ran their steeds with might and main; The ladies looked from their high windows, God bring our men well back again.
John stopped here and said, "he did not remember the whole ballad, for it was very long, but he knew that the story was that Johnnie was deceived by the king, who only wanted to get him into his power, by enticing him out of his own country; and having succeeded in this, he caused poor Armstrong and all his followers to be hanged. He would try," he said, and "remember the last two verses, which gave an account of Armstrong's death."
Farewell, my bonny Gilnockhall, Where on Esk side thou standest stout! If I had lived but seven years more, I would have gilt thee round about.
Because they saved their country dear From Englishmen, none were so bold, While Johnnie lived on the border side, None of them durst come near his hold.
Just as John had finished his ballad, they turned out of the main road, up a narrow path, into the glen. On their right hand a small clear brook, or, as it is called in Scotland, a burn, ran down among the brush-wood; now hid from view, now showing its white foam, bursting over the stones which obstructed its passage. The walk from this till our little party reached David's cottage was extremely beautiful, amongst natural woods, varied hills, and bold rocks, over which the burn kept continually pouring, with a loud but pleasing noise. A wooden bridge, which might, indeed, more properly be called a plank, was thrown across the burn at the narrowest part, and rested upon the rock on each side, a little above which stood the remains of an old watch-tower. Altogether the scene was so beautiful, that, whilst Helen dismounted, and John endeavoured to coax Bob across the bridge, Mr. Martin took out his sketch-book and made a drawing of it.
When they had crossed to the other side, the road took a winding turn amongst the hills; and their minds were so impressed with the grandeur of the scenery, that, from the time they quitted the bridge, they ceased speaking; only pointing out to each other, as they advanced, any new beauty that suddenly presented itself. The cottage was built about half a mile above the bridge, on a shelving bank, which they could only reach by ascending a little path with steps cut in the rock. At the bottom of these rude stairs Mr. Martin desired John to fasten Bob to the stump of an old tree, which grew conveniently near it. When they reached the top of this ascent, they found a small clay-built hut, thatched with furze, erected close under the shelter of an immense rock, which hung with frowning grandeur over it, and seemed to threaten to crush it and its inhabitants to pieces. About a hundred square yards of ground were cleared from the surrounding brushwood, part of which David had cultivated, as a little garden, and had planted it with vegetables, as an assistance in the support of his family. The rest formed a pasture, in the middle of which was feeding a goat, confined from ranging far by a cord fastened to one of its feet, and tied to a piece of wood driven into the ground.
On Mr. Martin's appearance, the shepherd's dog set up a loud and shrill bark. Two or three ragged children ran into the house, calling out, that "the Minister was come," (the name which the Scottish clergy generally receive from their parishioners). On hearing this joyful information, their mother soon appeared, and having obtained silence, both from the dog and the children, proceeded to welcome her visitors in the most hospitable manner, assuring Mr. Martin that her husband had greatly desired this favour. She added, that the surgeon had seen him that morning, and had assured her that, could he refrain from fretting, and be left undisturbed, he did not doubt of David's being able to walk in a few months as well as ever. "That, I fear," continued she, "is next to impossible; for when he sees his dear little children going without their usual food, which they are now obliged to do, as I cannot get more for my work than will supply them with one good meal a day, he must fret and regret his being laid aside, and prevented from going to the hill to earn their suppers for them. However, Sir, I am glad that you are come, for I am sure a word from you will comfort him, and make him easier than he has been since he met with this unlucky accident." Mr. Martin immediately went into the hut, desiring his daughter and John to wait for him on the outside.
While the worthy clergyman was with David, Helen remained talking with his wife. The children were so shy, that they could not be prevailed on to come forward and speak to her, but stood wrapping their little heads up in the corner of their mother's apron, taking a sly peep at the strangers, when they thought they were not observed. Helen at last recollected her basket, and asked John to give it to her. As soon as she began to unfold the snow-white napkin in which her present was wrapped, the little heads gradually approached nearer and nearer to the basket; and when Helen took out a few cakes of parliament(a kind of gingerbread very common in Scotland), and gave each of them one, the little creatures began jumping, shouting, and clapping their hands with delight. She then presented to their mother a loaf of bread and a bottle of currant wine, which last, she said, she was desired to tell her was for herself, as wine was not good for David. "No, no, Miss Helen," said Mrs. Little, "that will never do. I cannot think of drinking our good madam's wine myself, I assure you; I will just put it by the spence, (spence means cupboard) till David is beginning to get about again, and then I think it will help to strengthen him." "Do what will give you most pleasure, Mrs. Little," said Helen; "I dare say my mother will be satisfied."
She had scarcely finished speaking, when she felt a little hand take hold of hers. It was the eldest of the shepherd's children, a boy about seven years old. When he found that she observed him, he pulled her gently down, to whisper to her, that if she would like to see his hen and chickens, he would show them to her. "The chickens," he said, "were only two days old, and were very pretty creatures." Helen replied, that she should like to see them much. Away skipped Tom, as fast as he could run, to the end of the cottage, and lifting up an old rug, that lay over a coop, displayed the young brood and their mother to the admiring eyes of the visitors. Tom was quite delighted to find the lady amused with any thing he had to exhibit, and told her, that if he succeeded in rearing them, he would ask his mammy's leave to come down himself to the Manse (the name always given to the parsonage house in Scotland), and bring her a chicken as a present; for they were all his own; his daddy had given him the hen long ago, and he had watched and fed her, all the time she was sitting, with part of the porridge which he got for his own breakfast. Helen asked him how he could spare any of his porridge, as she supposed that, now his father was sick, he got nothing else to eat all day. "Oh," said he, "it is but little she eats; and though, to be sure, I am sometimes very hungry, and could eat it all myself. I keep thinking how happy I shall be if I can have some pretty chickens to give my mammy to lay eggs; for, then, you know she can sell them up at the hall, next August, when the English gentry come. The English," continued he, looking up at Helen with a very grave face, "must be very fond of eggs; for do you know they gave my mammy a whole white shilling for a dozen last year." Helen thought as Tom did, that the English must indeed be fond of eggs, if they gave so much money for them. She had never seen her mother give more than fourpence or fivepence a dozen; and she thought she would ask, when she got home, whether it could really be as Tom said.
Whilst they were looking at the chickens, the dog, that had been lying at the door, rose leisurely, shook himself, and walked after them. He stood close by Helen, wagging his tail and looking pleased; but when she stooped down to take one of the chickens in her hand, he began to growl at a terrible rate. "Down, Colly, down!" said Tom; "he won't bit you, Miss, for he is the best natured creature in the world; he is only afraid you may hurt the chicken. We always liked Colly very much, but now more than ever; for it was he, poor fellow, that came and told mammy that daddy had fallen down." "Stop, Tom," cried Helen, "take care what you say. How could a dog tell any body what had happened to your father? Do you know what a naughty thing it is to fib?" "Yes, I do know very well, Miss, that it is wicked to tell fibs;" answered Tom, stoutly, "but mammy can assure you, that what I am saying is true." "Yes, indeed," said his mother, "Tom speaks the truth; though perhaps he should not have used exactly the word told, for the dog certainly did not speak, he only barked. If you please, I will tell you what he did; and then I think you will believe Tom, and love poor Colly too."
"It was in the evening of last Wednesday se'nnight: David was just come home from the hill, where he had been with his sheep. He was wet and tired with being out in the rain all day; and I had just got him some dry clothes, and made up a nice blazing fire, to boil some potatoes for his supper. The two youngest children had climbed up on his knee, poor things! Tom and Colly were lying at his feet on the hearth. We were saying, what a dreadful night it was. The rain and wind were beating against the cottage, and making it almost shake; when, between the blasts, I thought I heard the sound of a voice, calling David. I listened, and very soon there came a violent knocking at the door. Who can be out at this time of night, and in such weather? said I, as I went to open it. 'Make haste, David,' said Peggy Oliphant, our master's little herd-girl, as she stepped into the house. 'Come away as fast as you can: there is a horse ready saddled for you, down at the farm; for our master is taken dangerously ill, and my mistress thinks, if he has not immediate advice, he will die before morning; so she begs you will lose no time in riding to Langholm, for Mr. Armstrong. It is a dreadful night, to be sure, she says, to send you out; but it is a work of necessity.' David scarcely waited to hear her out. He took his maude (a woollen plaid cloak which the shepherds wear), and wrapping it closely round him, set off as fast as he could run, telling me to put the children to bed, and he would be back as soon as he could. He would soon ride to Langholm; it was not more than four miles and a half; and he would gallop all the way. Well, Miss, away he and Peggy went; and I sat waiting and listening all night, but no David appeared.
"I had just dropped into a kind of sleep, when I was awakened by Colly barking most piteously. Up I jumped, glad to think that David was come back; but, on opening the door, only Colly was to be seen. The moment he beheld me, he took hold of my apron, and tried to draw me out of the house. I could not think what he wanted; and pulling my apron from him, went back towards the fire to stir it; but before I could get half way to the fire place, Colly had laid hold of me again, pulling very hard, and looking up in my face, howling. I then began to think that something must be the matter; so I determined I would go with him, and see what it was. He held me fast till he got me down the steps, and then he ran a little before me, looking back every minute, to see if I followed him, and running on again, till we were about half a mile down the glen. Oh, Miss! I shall never forget the fright I felt when I saw my master's horse standing grazing by the road side, and the saddle turned quite round under him. I began, then, to run after Colly, as fast as my trembling limbs would let me; and in about five minutes I came to the place where my poor husband was lying on the grass. Colly was standing close to him, licking his hand, just as if he had been telling him that help would soon come to his relief. David tried to make the best of his misfortune to me, and said he did not think he was very much hurt; only his leg was sprained, he believed, for he could not walk. He bade me go directly to the farm, and get some of the men to come and carry him home. I did as he desired me; and the men servants very readily went to his assistance. Just as I was leaving the farm, Mr. Armstrong, who had been up with our master, came out into the yard, and seeing the men running, asked me what was the matter. He very kindly said he would go with me to the cottage, and see where David was hurt; and very well it was that he did so, for when we got thither we found that David had fainted from the acute pain he felt when they began to move him. As soon as we got him into bed, he recovered himself a little, and Mr. Armstrong then found that his leg was broken, not sprained as he had told me. You may be sure that this was bad news for me. The setting of the bone put him to great torture, but he bore it better than could have been expected; and Mr. Armstrong now says he will do very well, if he be properly taken care of; and to help us to get what was necessary, he was so kind as to give us half a crown out of his own pocket; God bless him for his goodness to poor distressed creatures as we are! He has seen him every day since; and I am sure I do not know what David and I can ever do to shew our gratitude towards him."
"Now," cried Tom, "Miss Helen, what do you think of Colly? Did I not tell the truth?" "Yes, my dear, I think you meant to do so; but my mamma always bids me be sure to be very particular how I express myself when I am relating a story, for fear of being misunderstood; and if you had said Colly barked to let your mother know that your father was hurt, then I should have understood you better, and not have suspected you of an untruth, which I am very sorry for having done. I think Colly deserving to be loved very much, by every body that hears the story. I will tell it to papa and mamma; and I am sure they will admire Colly's sagacity and affection for his master."
Mr. Martin now made his appearance at the door of the cottage, and called to John to make haste and get the pony ready, as he thought they would have time to go up the river, as far as Craigie Hall, one of the oldest family seats in Eskdale. The gardener had promised to give him some curious flower seeds, and the time was now come for saving them. He therefore, took leave of Mrs. Little; Helen shook hands with Tom, and bade him be sure to remember his promise of coming to the Manse to see her. "That I will," cried Tom, "and bring my chicken with me whenever it is big enough to leave its mother, if mammy will give me permission."—
When Mr. Martin and the young folks had got to the bottom of the steps, Helen once more mounted her pony, and they proceeded down the glen till they nearly reached the beginning of the green holm, when they again turned up the public road, by the side of the river; Bob chose here to make a stop, to drink some of the clear sweet water of the burn, before he crossed it; and while he was gratifying his taste, John observing that the late rains had washed away some of the stepping stones, which served to prevent passengers from wetting their feet in getting to the other side, began to bring the largest he could carry, for Mr. Martin's accommodation; and by the time that Bob had finished his drink, had made quite a dry path for him to cross. As for himself, poor fellow, stepping stones were not necessary; for the boys in his rank in life in Scotland wear neither stockings nor shoes during the week; only on Sundays are they indulged with this piece of finery. Mr. Martin looked pleased with this attention. "Thank you, John," said he; "that is being both a useful and observing boy. Such little civilities to those around you, my dear, will make you beloved by everybody;" and turning to Helen, he continued, "This is what your dear mother calls natural politeness, and which she loves so much to see in young people; as she says it is the mark of a good disposition." Bob now moved on, Mr. Martin and John by his side, conversing upon different subjects. Just after they had crossed the burn, they reached the farm-house of David Little's master, Mr. Elliott, which stood on a rising ground, at no great distance.
There was nothing remarkable in the house itself; but its situation was extremely beautiful: the little burn running on one side of it, and the more majestic Esk on the other; the garden in front extending quite to the edge of the rock, at the bottom of which a narrow path had been cut, barely sufficient to allow the small carts of the country to pass along. "Here," said Helen to her father, pointing to it, "is the loveliest spot in the whole dale for a residence. Were I rich, I should like to buy that house and garden, and live in it with you and mamma; would you like to live there, papa?" asked she. "Why," returned he, "my dear Helen, I think you have certainly shown your taste by making choice, in the event of being rich, of Mr. Elliott's cottage; for I have often thought as you do, that it is the most beautiful situation in the dale; but I am not sure, for myself, that I should like to live there, in preference to the snug comforts of my own little manse. Custom has endeared my present home to me, and I own that to me it would be a painful sacrifice, to be obliged to move out of it; even were it to go to a rich home of yours. However, my dear," continued he, "though I may, with the blessing of God, hope to end my days in my present peaceful abode, yet, in the natural course of events, you probably will have to look out, at some future time, for another place of residence; and should you become rich, which at present is not very likely, you then may be able to gratify your ambition, if a knowledge of the world should not produce in you a change of mind, in regard to this object."
Helen was silent for some minutes, considering what was meant by saying she might be obliged to change her place of residence; and when her father's meaning broke upon her mind, the tears stole gently down her cheeks. Poor girl! it was almost the first painful thought her dear parent had ever raised in her mind; and it was with great difficulty she suppressed her emotion. She knew, however, that her kind mother was extremely anxious, and indeed had spared no pains to teach her the necessity of controlling her feelings, as she had a great dislike to that sickly kind of sensibility which many children are in the habit of indulging, by giving way to tears on trivial occasions; a habit which two years before she herself had found great difficulty in overcoming. The judicious management of her mother, aided by her own sincere desire to please so good a parent, had now nearly corrected this habit. Of what great and essential service this was to her happiness through life, will appear in the course of this little tale. John had heard all that passed, but did not quite comprehend what was meant. He walked on, however, in silence, considering in his mind how much he should like to be rich enough to gratify Miss Helen. Little did he think, poor boy, that the day would come, when, in that very cottage, he would receive Miss Helen, and watch over her declining health, with all the respect and affection of a brother.
Mr. Martin, observing that his conversation had thrown a little gloom over the faces of the young folks, said cheerfully, "Come, my dears! let us think of something that will amuse us. Helen! suppose you sing us a song! John has given us one already; and I heard you telling your mamma last night that you had learnt a pretty new one; I should like to hear you sing it very much." "Well, papa," said Helen, "I will try to please you; but I am afraid I am not quite perfect yet. I hope you will excuse me, if I make any blunders." She then began the following lines, which she sang in a sweet, clear and natural voice:
My brother's a shepherd, so artless and gay, Whose flock ranges over yon mountain, And sweet is his song at the close of the day, By the echoing rock of the fountain.
With him, how delightful, to stray o'er the lawn, When spring all its odours is blending! Together to mark the sweet blush of the dawn, Or the sun in his glory descending!
Soon after her little song was finished, Helen's attention was caught by a green plat of ground, about fifty or sixty feet in breadth, surrounded by circular earthen walls; and pointing to it, she asked her father what that was. He told her it was called a birren in that country, where there were several of them, and that they were supposed to have been intended for places of safety for the cattle at the time of the border wars. They were now arrived at Muirkirk, a small church, which belongs to the parish adjoining Mr. Martin's. It is pleasantly situated on the banks of the river, near a stone bridge, consisting of three arches. The building is very neat, and adds greatly to the beauty of the country. Near it is the mausoleum of the family of Craigie Hall, a very elegant piece of architecture. The manse stands at a little distance from the church. Mr. Martin called on his friend the clergyman, but found the family were all gone on a visit farther up the dale;—so our party did not stop, but went on to Craigie Hall to get the flower-seeds.
When they reached the hall, they fortunately found Mr. Scott, the gardener, at home, who received them with great pleasure, and invited them, as the family were not at home, to walk into his own house and take some refreshment before he showed them the garden and grounds. Our young people were glad to find him so considerate, for they began, particularly John, to be rather hungry. Mrs. Scott produced a nice bason of cream, some excellent butter, oaten cakes, and a beautiful large ewe-milk cheese. She invited Mr. Martin and Helen to sit down and partake of her humble fare, which they very readily complied with. John was not forgotten, for she had put a pretty good portion for him on a seat at the outside of the door, her small house not affording two sitting apartments, and she conceived it would not be respectful to the Minister to bring the herd-boy inside the house. Mr. Scott, as they sat eating their luncheon, told them that a curious thing had occurred that morning, about a mile up the dale, at the Roman camp. This is a place, the like of which is to be found in many parts both of England and Scotland, being a small grassy hill, on the top of which are long ditches and mounds of earth, seemingly intended for fortifications, and supposed to have been made by the Romans, when they first invaded Britain. Near this spot, some labourers had been employed digging a piece of ground, and one of them, in the course of his work, struck upon something hard, which, after much labour, he succeeded in raising, when it proved to be an urn, or large sort of earthen vessel, in which were a number of gold and silver coins and other rarities. Mr. Martin, who had found great amusement in his retired manner of living, in collecting whatever was curious in the neighbourhood, said, he should much like to see this urn, and inquired of Mr. Scott if he thought it were possible to get a sight of the labourer who found it. "Oh yes, Sir," answered Mrs. Scott, "that you may easily do, for it was Archie Kerr who found it, and his mother lives only about a mile and a half from this place; but I think, if your honour wants to see it, you had better send up to him at once, for it is most likely that some of the neighbouring gentry will buy it from him, as soon as they hear of it." Mr. Martin thought she was very right, and began considering how he could send a message, as he felt it was rather further than he liked to walk. At last he determined on sending John upon the pony, Mrs. Scott assuring him he could not miss his way to Jenny Kerr's, it being the first house he came to after passing the Shaw rigg, where a large stone stood on his left hand. John was no sooner applied to, than he willingly undertook to deliver the message, and taking Miss Helen's side-saddle off, and throwing one of Mrs. Scott's horse-rugs over the pony's back, jumped upon it very alertly, and trotted off with a grin of delight on his face, proud at heart in being trusted to ride Miss Helen's pony. As soon as it was gone, Helen asked her father what was the reason of calling the place where the great stone described by Mrs. Scott stood, the Shaw rigg? Her father told her the tradition of the country was, that it took its name from Shaw, a Pictish king, to whom that part of the land belonged. "I am glad, my dear," added he, "that you take care to ask about what you do not perfectly understand. Many children are so foolish as to be ashamed to let those they converse with discover that they do not comprehend every thing said to them, by which means they often imbibe erroneous ideas, and perhaps remain in a state of ignorance on many essential subjects, when, by questioning their relatives or friends, they might easily have obtained correct information."
Mr. Scott now proposed a walk in the garden, which was planted in the Dutch style of stiff walks with high hedges, and was, according to the present taste, any thing but admirable. Its appearance, however, was extremely curious, contrasted with the natural and luxuriant beauties of the country by which it was surrounded. The house was small, considering the rank and consequence of the family to whom it belonged. It is said that they originally came from Clydesdale, and brought with them a thorn, which still grows on a little mount before the door, though they have been settled there several centuries. The gardener, after leading them through the garden and grounds, took them into the greenhouse to notice some curious plants, such as the aloe, that blossoms only once in a century; the beautiful oleander, a native of Spain and Italy, which thrives in British greenhouses; the prickly pear, which is without a stem, the leaves growing out of each other; they are large, broad, and thick, and covered with prickles. In warm climates, this plant grows wild, and may be trained to form an almost impenetrable fence. It bears a sort of fruit somewhat resembling a pear, to which the natives are partial, but strangers generally consider it insipid, and not worth the trouble of getting at it.
On quitting the greenhouse, they began to wonder at John's not returning. Mr. Scott advised them, after their fatigue, to enter the house and seat themselves with his wife, while he would walk towards the Shaw rigg in search of John. On their entrance they found with Mrs. Scott a little girl, about seven years old, whom she introduced to them as her daughter Marion. Helen begged she would go on with her work, she having timidly risen to quit the room; and as a little encouragement to her, Helen asked what she was doing; Marion immediately came to her, and showed her part of a shirt she was making for her father. Helen was surprised to see it so neatly done, as needlework is very little practised by the peasants in that country; the children, both girls and boys, being employed till the age of sixteen or eighteen in tending their father's or their master's sheep. Mrs. Scott, observing Helen's surprise, said, "Marion is a good needle-woman, Miss; she has to thank the housekeeper at the hall for teaching her that and many other useful things. Mrs. Smith is an Englishwoman, and has taken a great fancy to Marion. She has persuaded her father and me not to send her to the hills, like the other children around; assuring us, that if Marion does not forget in the winter what she has learnt in the summer from her, she has no doubt, when she is old enough, to be able to get my lady to take her to wait on one of her daughters; and indeed, Miss, I shall like this much better, if we can make it out, for Marion is not strong; she is our only child, and it would break both her father's heart and mine should any evil happen to her; such as falling down the rocks, being frost-bitten, or lost in the snow, which happens sometimes to our neighbour's children, who are sent out herding in the winter." Helen said she was very glad that Marion was not to be sent to the hills; and Mr. Martin added, if Mr. Scott considered Marion able to undertake the walk to his house, he would lend her some improving books to read. For though Mr. Scott was competent to instruct his daughter in common reading, writing, and arithmetic, which sort of knowledge all gardeners in that country acquire while young, his collection of books was not altogether calculated to improve a child's taste or understanding.
Meanwhile, Mr. Scott had walked nearly a mile without seeing any thing of John. At last, on turning a corner of the road, he perceived him at a distance, not mounted in triumph as he had set off on his excursion, but walking slowly, and leading Bob, who did not seem at all inclined to quicken his pace. As soon as he thought he could be heard, he called to John to know what was the matter. John did not answer very readily, but waited till he had got quite close to Mr. Scott before he said a word. Then dropping his head, and looking very confused, he gave the following account of himself. He said that Bob trotted nicely about half a mile, after which he could not get him to go a pace faster than a walk; he tried all he could do to make him move, but Bob was so obstinate, that he became afraid of keeping Mr. Martin waiting. He then wished for a spur, and after thinking and thinking, he recollected having some large pins stuck in the sleeve of his coat. He thought they would do, could he contrive to fix them on his feet, but how to do this he did not very well know, as he had no shoes to fasten them to; at last he thought he would try to fix them on with a piece of twine which he had in his pocket, and after many attempts, succeeded so far as to drive one of his pins into poor Bob's side, who by no means relishing this method of coercion, set off instantly at a hand gallop. John courageously kept his seat, holding fast, first by the bridle, but, as the velocity of the motion increased, at last by the mane; when perceiving a good wide ditch cut in the road, he flattered himself that Bob would stop, and would content himself with going at a quieter pace the rest of the way. Scarcely had he formed this wise resolution, when Bob cleared the ditch at one spring; the jerk came so suddenly, and was so little expected by John, that he made the finest somerset in the world over Bob's head, and was set down quite safely on his feet, about four yards beyond the ditch. Bob, in the mean time, seemed quite satisfied with the revenge he had had, and stopped directly; and he was busy regaling himself on the fresh grass that grew around him by the time John had regained sufficient composure to know where he was.
As soon as he could think, he became convinced he had been a very foolish boy; and, therefore, determined he would mount Bob no more that day, as it was better for Mr. Martin to wait a little longer for him, than to risk giving him the trouble of nursing him with a broken leg, like poor David Little. He therefore took hold of the bridle and led Bob along the road, till he reached Jenny Kerr's, where he found that Archie was not at home, but gone up the glen as far as Mr. Hume's, to show him the urn and the coins. John thought he could not go back and have nothing to tell but his own disaster. He therefore begged Jenny to direct him towards Mr. Hume's; and, having fastened Bob up safely, he set out on foot in search of Archie. As he had to cross the water in order to get to Mr. Hume's house, Jenny advised him to take Archie's stilts, two long pieces of wood, with a sort of step fastened on each, about the middle, wide enough to hold a man's foot, and which are in common use among all ranks in that country for crossing the river, where the depth will not admit of stepping stones. She said, he must on no account attempt crossing the river without them, for the danger was increased by the rains which had swollen the river considerably.
John had never before stilted the water, as it is called, but he determined that, as he had acted very foolishly in the affair of Bob, he would take great care with the stilts, and, therefore, when he arrived at the edge of the river, he mounted cautiously, as Jenny had advised him to do. For the first half of the way, he went very well; but, when in the middle of the stream, he found her precautions very necessary, for the water was nearly above his feet, and the current was so rapid as to require all his strength to move the stilts. As the difficulty increased, he was obliged to stop and rest himself. "Aha!" said he, "a fall here would be worse than even over Bob's ears. Surely this is a bad beginning for my practice in service. I think if I meet with many days like this, I am likely to have but little comfort in it; however, my poor father has often told me, there is nothing like perseverance, and I am sure I found it in learning my letters; for, when I first began, I thought it nearly impossible that I should remember the names of those crooked ill-shaped things, and yet I became sooner acquainted with them than I thought I should; so I will even try again to get out of this scrape." So resolving, he began to move forward, and at last, by taking great care, reached the opposite side in safety.
He soon ran on to Mr. Hume's where he found Archie, and delivered Mr. Martin's message. Archie said he could not go down so far as Craigie Hall that day, being obliged to finish his day's work at the Roman Camp. He had already spent all his spare time with Mr. Hume; but he promised faithfully to bring his new-found treasure down to Mr. Martin's the next evening, after work hours; and he bade John tell Mr. Martin that he would not part with the urn, or any of the coins till he had seen them. He then good naturedly said he would see John over the river, for it was not safe for such a little boy as he to cross it alone, while it was so full and strong. As soon as John got over the water, he set off as fast as he could walk to Jenny's for the pony, and putting the bridle round his arm, he contrived to coax Bob into a gentle trot, which he kept up till he came in sight of Mr. Scott, when remembering what a story he had to relate of his own mishaps, he slackened his pace, and began to feel very foolish and unwilling to tell what had happened to him.
It is but justice to say, that, however unwilling he felt to have his folly known, he never once thought of disguising the truth. He had been too well taught for that. At the time when John's father was living, there was no race of men, of any rank or country, that took more pains, (if indeed so much,) as the Scottish peasantry did in instructing their children, both in their moral and religious duties; and John had been taught early, that the shadow of a lie was contrary to the duty of a Christian, and that a child who, in the slightest degree, deceived his parents, masters, or companions, would never merit or obtain the character of an honest and just man. "Well, my lad," said Mr. Scott, after he had heard his story, "I think you have got wonderfully well off, considering your rash conduct; you should be thankful to Providence that you are alive to relate it: I only hope it will be a warning to you never to be guilty again of the like folly: so, cheer up, we will say no more about it, if you promise to behave better the next time you are sent on an errand." John said, what he very sincerely thought at the time, he would never again try to wear spurs: he had had quite enough of them, and he hoped Mr. Martin would not be very angry, or that would be the worst thing he had met with yet, and what with the pony and the stilts, he had had quite enough for one day.
Mr. Martin and Helen now came to meet them, for they had become seriously alarmed for the boy: but when the disaster was related, Helen could not refrain from laughing at the comical figure John must have made when flying over Bob's head; and even Mr. Martin, though he tried to look grave, found it difficult to keep his countenance while he represented to him the impropriety and hazard of his late conduct. Little Marion, who had come out to the door to see the pony, was the only person that seemed to enter into John's feelings. She sidled up to him, and said, "never mind, John, Mr. Martin is not very angry, and you are not hurt; but," continued she in a whisper, "you have torn the sleeve of your coat; I don't think any of them have seen it yet; slip into the stable, and I will run and get a needle and thread, and soon mend it, so that it can never be seen. It will be done before the pony finishes his corn, that I saw my father taking to him."
John followed Marion's advice, who, from that day, was enthroned in his heart, and considered by him as the best little girl he had ever been acquainted with. Bob having eaten his corn, and Marion having mended John's coat, quite to her own satisfaction, John led him out, ready equipped, for Miss Helen, who mounted him directly. "Now, my dears," said Mr. Martin, "we must make a little haste, for I am afraid your mother, Helen, will be getting uneasy at our long absence. Only look! there is the moon rising. We shall be quite late before we reach home." By the time they got near the holm, the moon was shining in full grandeur. Her rays played beautifully on the sparkling waters of the Esk, occasionally intersected by the branches of the trees which grew on the banks of the river. The night was clear; the stars shone above their heads with brilliant splendor. Altogether Mr. Martin was so entranced, that, forgetting the children were his only companions, he broke silence, repeating the following lines: a translation of his own from Homer's Iliad:
As when around the full bright moon, in heaven, The stars shine glorious; breathless is the air; The lofty watch-towers, promontories, hills, Far off are visible; the boundless sky Opens above, displaying all its host Of fires; and in the shepherd's heart is joy.
Mr. Martin, when he had finished, smiled internally at his own enthusiasm: the children were too much fatigued with the various adventures of the day to offer any remark. They therefore continued silent till they arrived on the green plat before the Manse, where they found Mrs. Martin waiting most anxiously for their appearance. "Where can you have been, my dear Helen?" asked her mother, as she assisted her to alight. "I really began to be afraid some accident had happened to some of you." "No accident, my dear wife, at least none of any consequence," said Mr. Martin, glancing a look towards John, who made a hasty retreat with Bob into the stable. "But ask no questions to-night, Helen will tell you all her adventures to-morrow morning; at present she is too much fatigued to be kept out of her bed longer than is necessary to eat her supper; let her have it directly, if you please; and if you will give me a cup of tea, I think it will refresh me. I am almost tired myself, which is not a usual thing." Helen ate her supper, Mr. Martin had his tea; and, after a prayer by the Minister, at which, as was customary, the whole family were present, they all retired to bed.
As soon as John awoke in the morning, all the occurrences of the previous day passed in review through his memory; at last he recollected that he was to give Mr. Martin an answer as to Mr. Laurie. "Well," thought he, "I suppose I must go to the farm, but I would much rather stay with the Minister and Miss Helen; for it was very pleasant walking with them yesterday, and I liked very much to hear them converse and Miss Helen sing; she surely has a pleasing voice. I wonder whether Marion can sing. I am not sure whether I shall much like going to the hill every day, for it is a tiresome life to be so many hours alone; but then," continued he, "I cannot stay with Mr. Martin, for he has a herd-boy that has lived with him some time; and I am sure I should not wish to make him lose his place, for he, poor fellow, has no father any more than I have; and besides," added he, "I am to have leave to come home every night to learn to read. I shall take the place, if it be only for that; and again," continued he, after thinking a little, "if my poor father were alive, he would think it such an honour for the Minister himself to take the trouble of teaching his son, and, now that he is dead, I am determined never to do any thing, that he would have disapproved. However, I am glad that I have got summer weather to begin with: I shall understand the business better before the winter comes on, and, perhaps, be more reconciled to it."
After coming to this wise determination, John sprang out of bed and dressed himself as quickly as he could. When he came down stairs he was surprised to find that all the family were up and at work. The study bell rang, just as he got to the kitchen-door, and the maid said, "it is well, my man, you are down before the bell has rung for prayers. See what the Minister would have said, if you had been in your bed then? but come away now, for we must not keep our master waiting."—Accordingly he followed her into the study, where all the family were assembled, once more, to render thanks to their Creator for the blessings of a new day.
Helen gave her mother, during breakfast, an account of all she had seen and done the day before; and when she had finished her recital, she said, "Mamma, I have been thinking this morning that I have a half-guinea that my grandmamma Elliott gave me, when she was last here, to buy a new gown; at present I do not particularly want one, and I should like very much that you would allow me to go down the water as far as Langholm, to buy some coarse cloth to make frocks for poor David Little's children; they are almost naked, and I do not think their father will be able to procure them clothes for some time, while he is lying on a sick bed." "Helen," said her mother, "you may do exactly as you please with your half-guinea, it is your own; but I would have you think the subject well over before you act. You know I have promised that you shall go with your father and me to Melrose this autumn. Now, perhaps, you would like to have a new gown to wear whilst you are there. It is but fair to tell you, that I shall not be able to afford to buy you one this summer, having spent all I can conveniently spare, in fitting out your brother for school. Therefore, my dear, you must choose whether you prefer going to Melrose in your old gown, in order to have the pleasure of dressing these poor little creatures, or expend your money and appear smart, when you make your first visit from home." Helen looked very serious for some minutes, and then said, "my dear mamma, if you please, I will wait till to-morrow before I give you my answer; for, at present, I really do not know what to do. I should certainly like to be dressed neatly when I go to see grandmamma; because I know that that would give her pleasure; but when I think of the poor little naked children, they make my heart ache." "Very well, my dear, be it so, go now, and begin your morning lessons."
Mr. Martin then desired the servant, who was taking away the breakfast things, to send John into his study, and giving Helen a kiss, and telling her to be very attentive to her mother's instructions, left the room. On entering the study, he found John standing ready to receive him. "Well, John, what answer am I to give to Mr. Laurie?" asked Mr. Martin, "will you be his servant and my scholar, or have you any objection to the plan? Speak out, and don't be afraid. If you dislike being a herd-boy, I will endeavour to think of something else, that may suit you better." "Thank you, Sir, from my heart; I did intend only to say, yes, I will be Mr. Laurie's herd-boy; but since you ask me if I have any objection, I will tell you, Sir, all that has passed in my mind. I have been thinking how lonely it will be up in the hills all day, and how cold and dreary I shall feel when the winter comes on; but just as I had determined to tell you, I would rather not be Mr. Laurie's servant, I remembered my poor father, and how proud he would be, if he knew that you would teach me to read yourself. That thought put all about the hill quite out of my head; and, therefore, if you please, I will go to Mr. Laurie's whenever he wishes it." "That is acting like a good and sensible boy," said Mr. Martin, "and I hope you will have no reason to repent of your decision. I shall go now and call on Mr. Laurie, and make an agreement for your coming to me in the evening; and I think you had best come along with me and hear what he wishes you to do." John went for his bonnet directly, and walked after Mr. Martin, keeping near enough to speak to him, but still far enough behind, to show his respect. "Sir," said John, as he walked along, "do you think Mr. Laurie will give me a holiday on Handsel Monday?" (the first Monday in the year, and the only holiday the Scottish peasantry ever allow themselves, except, perhaps, in the case of a wedding). "Really, John, that is a question I cannot answer; but if he does, how would you like to employ it?" "The thing I should like best to do would be to take another walk with you and Miss Helen. Oh, indeed, Sir, I never was so happy in my life as I was yesterday; and besides, somehow it seems to have done me a great deal of good, for I felt so miserable and unhappy from the time I lost my father and mother, that I had no heart to do any thing; and it seemed quite a trouble to me to move. Yesterday, when you first showed me that great chest of books, and bade me dust them, I had nearly burst into tears; but now, Sir, I feel as brisk as ever, and am sure I would do any thing in the world to please you." "I am very glad to hear it, John; only I think if you take another walk with us, we must bargain to have no spurs." "No, no," said John, laughing, "you may be sure of that; I had enough of them yesterday."
They found Mr. Laurie at home; who very readily agreed to the proposal of John's learning to read at the Manse, and promised that he should attend regularly. He said, he must come into his service on the next Tuesday morning, and, as he required him to set off by four o'clock for the hill, he thought it would be best for John to sleep at the farm on Monday evening. He promised to send his own shepherd along with him, for the first day or two, to show him the method of managing the sheep; and also to train the dogs to obey him readily. John was greatly pleased with this promise, and returned to the Manse, in high spirits. Helen had finished her lessons and was walking out with her mother; but it being Saturday, Mr. Martin, as was his constant custom on that day, shut himself up in his study, to prepare for the duty of the Sabbath. John, therefore, amused himself as well as he could, by running down to the holm, and fishing with an old fishing-rod, he found in the stable; and though he was not very successful, he yet found sport enough to be pleased.
At dinner, Helen complained of a bad headache, and was obliged to go and lie down. Mrs. Martin was rather uneasy, as she had observed Helen's eyes to be heavy, and feared it might arise from fever. Helen, however, was much better after a short sleep, and got up to tea. As they were sitting round the table, John put his head in the door, and said, Archie Kerr was come down the dale, with the curiosities which he had found. Mr. Martin desired him to walk into the parlour; and added "John, my lad, you may come in, and see them too, if you like." Mr. Martin examined them, and found them exceedingly curious. He was looking at one of the coins at the window, when Mrs. Martin kindly enquired of Archie, how all his neighbours were, up the dale. "Thank ye, ma'am, all are well, excepting Mr. Scott's family at Craigie Hall, where poor little Marion is very ill. I am going, when I leave the Minister, to Langholm, for Mr. Armstrong; as her father was so distressed, that Mrs. Scott was afraid to let her husband come himself." "If that is the case, Archie," said Mr. Martin, coming forward, "I won't detain you another minute. Put up all your coins, and leave them in my care till your return; and if you find Mr. Armstrong at home, tell him he will oblige me by calling here, on his way, to let us know how the poor little girl is. For the sake of her parents, I trust she will shortly recover."
Archie set off immediately, and Mr. Martin and his family sat conversing together till the usual hour of going to supper, when one of the servants looked in, and said, "if you please, Sir, did you send John any where?" "No, indeed;" answered Mr. Martin. "is he not in the kitchen?" "No, Sir," answered the maid; "and I cannot find him any where; the herd tells me, that, as he was driving his sheep home, he saw John run down the lane as fast as he could, and then down the holm. Colin thought he had forgotten his fishing-rod, and was gone to fetch it, but he must have been back long before this time, had that been his errand." This account seriously alarmed both Mr. and Mrs. Martin; for it was very possible, that, in looking for the fishing-rod, he might have fallen into the river. Mr. Martin, therefore, anxiously took his hat and went in search of him. He had become most truly attached to the boy, and would have been grieved to the heart had any harm befallen him. After searching all along the river, for nearly a mile, he was on the point of returning to get some assistance to drag for him, when he heard the sound of feet as of some one running. He listened; for the moon was not up, and the night was too dark to enable him to see at any distance. The steps approached, and in a few seconds, he was convinced that it was John running as fast as he could. He called to him, but John was too much out of breath to answer. Mr. Martin's mind now felt eased on the certainty of the boy's safety. He sat down on the bank, to recover himself, being completely overpowered, and for some minutes could not articulate a word; but silently offered up his thanks to Providence for relieving him from such a state of misery, as well as for the boy's safety. John, who had stood still, when he reached Mr. Martin, could not think what was the matter, but seeing his master sitting on the damp grass, entreated him to tell him if he was ill, and wanted to run on to the house, for assistance. "No John," said Mr. Martin, "you have run enough for one night.—Where have you been to give us all such a fright?"—"Indeed, Sir, I am sorry if I frightened any of the family," replied John; "I did not think of that, but I will tell you the whole truth if you will only rise; for I am sadly afraid, you will catch cold by sitting on the grass."—"You are right, my dear, I will rise immediately; and do you tell me where you have been, for we thought you were drowned." "Why, Sir," he said, "I was looking at that curious urn which Archie found, when I heard him tell my mistress that poor Marion Scott was ill, and that he was going to Langholm for Mr. Armstrong. Now, sir, when I used to live with my father and mother, near Langholm, I many times observed Archie come down there, and though I should be sorry to be a tale-bearer, yet I cannot help explaining to you my reasons for acting as I did. I often saw him in the public-house, and my father used to say he was sure Archie would never do any good, if he did not mend his habits; for his custom was to stop and drink spirits at every place where a dram was to be had, all the way down the dale, and repeat the same on his return home again. I remember once he was a whole day and night getting from Langholm to the Shaw rigg. I thought, therefore, if Archie played his old trick of stopping by the way, perhaps poor Marion might be dead before Mr. Armstrong could get near her; so I determined that I would just run myself; for she was kind to me yesterday, much kinder than you know of; for, when you were all laughing at me, (which I very well deserved) Marion came and whispered to me that my coat was torn, and that, if I would go into the stable, she would mend it. I thought the least I could do, in return, now that she is in trouble, was to try to get her some advice.
"I luckily found Mr. Armstrong, and he assured me, that as soon as his horse was saddled, he would go to her; and only think, Sir, when I came back again, I saw Archie sitting in Robert Miller's house, drinking with another man, I was so happy that I had gone myself! but now, Sir, that I find I have frightened you and my mistress and dear Miss Helen, who was not very well before, I do not know whether I ought to be glad that I went or not." "You are a good-hearted grateful boy," said Mr. Martin, "and have acted very properly, only you should have told some of us where you were going, and then all would have been right." "I could not do that, Sir, for I did not wish to tell of Archie's tricks; and I made quite sure that I should be back long before the hour of prayer; I thought you would not miss me till then." "Very likely I should not, had not Nelly come in search of you; but it was very natural for her, and very proper, when she discovered you were missing, to inform me of it."
"Here we are, my dear wife, all safe," cried Mr. Martin, when he came near the green plat, where Mrs. Martin stood with a lantern prepared, and Nelly ready to search for her master and John also; "all is right. John has been on a very needful errand, and no harm is done, save the unnecessary alarm we have been put into; he has promised me, however, to be more careful, in future, in letting us know before he sets out on any of his errands; so let us go into the house for some supper, and give me a glass of raspberry whisky, to keep me from taking cold, as I have been out too long in the night air, and feel chilled with the damp of the river." Helen was gone to bed by her mother's advice, but she could not sleep till she heard that John had returned safely.
Next morning, when the family assembled in the study, for the morning service, Mrs. Martin observed, that Helen still looked pale and unwell; but Helen said she did not feel ill, only as if she was very tired, and had caught a cold. Her mother replied, "then my dear, you must not go to church this morning; for though I disapprove very much of people absenting themselves from the public worship of their Maker, upon every light and trivial excuse, I think it wrong, when they are really ill, to go out, even to church; as by that means they often endanger their lives. Such a sacrifice is not required of us; and we act much more wisely by remaining at home, in such cases, nursing ourselves, and taking care to spend our time, not in idleness, but in our own private devotions."
In Scotland, the observance of Sunday is strict, but nor morosely severe. It is considered by the peasants as their grand day of innocent recreation. Nothing that is trifling, or that can any how be done on Saturday, is left for the Sabbath. The men are all shaved on Saturday evening; and they would even scruple to gather a cabbage out of their garden, on the Lord's day.
Mr. Martin's parish church was about half a mile from the Manse. The walk to it was pleasant, and presented a most lively scene, as Mr. and Mrs. Martin set out, accompanied by the whole of their household, excepting only one maid, who was left at home with Helen. John walked at Mr. Martin's back, carrying the Psalm books and Bible.
As they turned down the holm, the path, as far as the eye could reach, was sprinkled with men and women, dressed in the usual costume of the country, which consists of a woollen plaid, of a black and white small checked pattern, very simply thrown round the women's shoulders, as a scarf. The men wear it over the right shoulder only, and tied loosely under the left arm. The women seldom wear bonnets; they have either a beaver hat, like a man's, or else wear a snow-white cap, tied under their chin, and usually ornamented with a showy ribbon.
As Mr. Martin's family passed, every group stood still, making their bows and curtsies in silence, for it would be reckoned rude to speak to the Minister on his way to church; their greetings of enquiry being always reserved till the service is over, when the older men and heads of families look upon it as a sort of privilege, which they possess, to shake hands with their pastor, enquire after his health, talk of the news of the day, and not unfrequently give their opinion of the sermon he has just been preaching. And indeed they are often much better qualified to judge of such subjects, than the same class of society in other countries; which arises from their having all been taught to read, as their fathers before them had been, for several generations; and what has a most material effect upon both their morals and conduct is, that their reading has been properly directed to the study of the Holy Scriptures.
After church, Mr. Martin having paid his compliments all around, and Mrs. Martin having enquired who was sick, and if any one required her particular attention, the family returned to the Manse, in the same order in which they left it. They there found Mr. Armstrong, who had called on his way from Mr. Scott's. He told them that Marion's complaint had turned out to be the measles; and that, at present, she was extremely ill; but that he hoped, in a few hours, there might be a favourable change. Mrs. Scott had desired him to inform Mrs. Martin of these circumstances, as she was anxious to know whether Miss Helen and John had had the disorder.
Mrs. Martin immediately became alarmed, for Helen had never had it. Having been rather a delicate child, she was kept out of the house, with a friend in Langholm, at the time the disease had affected her brother. She therefore begged Mr. Armstrong to step up to the bedroom, where Helen was lying down, as her headache had come on again very violently. Mr. Armstrong, on seeing her, pronounced that she had undoubtedly caught the infection, and ordered her to be put to bed. On enquiry about John, they fortunately found, that he had had the disease; which they were glad of, as an illness, at present, must have prevented his going to Mr. Laurie's.
The surgeon now took his leave, promising to call next morning at the same hour; and saying to John, who stood at the door holding his horse. "You must take another walk, my lad, to Langholm to-night, to bring some medicine for Miss Helen, for I cannot well manage to send up myself; and it is of consequence that she should take it in the evening." "I will do that, Sir, with the greatest pleasure; or any thing else that is in my power for Miss Helen; but I hope you do not think that either she or poor Marion Scott is likely to die," endeavouring to conceal the tears that were trickling down his cheeks; "I am sure I should feel as much, if that were to happen, as I did when my own dear father and mother died; and oh, Sir! that was a dreadful time." "I hope, my little fellow, there will be no such bad doings as that;" answered Mr. Armstrong, "at least, we must try all we can to prevent it; so do you come down to me when the evening-service is over, and I will have every thing ready, that you may not be detained. He makes a better messenger," continued he, turning to Mr. Martin, "than Archie Kerr, who has not yet returned from Langholm, though Mr. Scott sent him off yesterday morning. I suppose I shall meet him on the road as I ride down, for he will be sure to be home in time for his work to-morrow morning. To do him justice, he seldom forgets that; though, when he can find an excuse to leave it, he is a sad tippling fellow."
The family now went to dinner, which on Sunday seldom consists of any thing but eggs, bread and cheese, and such cold meat as may be in the house. When they had finished their simple meal, Mr. Martin and the servants returned to evening-service; but Helen's illness prevented her mother from leaving her. When the service was over, John set out to Langholm, promising to make all the haste in his power back to the Manse.
He soon arrived at Mr. Armstrong's, and receiving the medicine, set off on his return home. He walked very quick till he got upon the green holm, not having met a single creature the whole way; for walking is considered a very improper way of spending the Sabbath evening, unless when going upon necessary business, as that is the greatest portion of time the peasantry can bestow on catechising their children, and reading portions of Scripture to their families. John was, therefore, rather surprised to see a man walking before him, at a distance. As he himself went quick, he soon came near enough to perceive that the person, whoever he was, instead of going straight forward, kept moving from side to side of the road, in a very extraordinary manner. "I do believe," thought John, "that this must be Archie Kerr. Well! what will become of him, if, by any chance, the minister should come out to look for me? Though he is a tipsy fellow, and has behaved so ill about Marion, I should not wish any thing so bad as that to happen to him. I think I had best run as fast as I can and get up the lane, and then Mr. Martin, when he sees me, will never think of coming to the holm to-night." So saying, he began to hasten as fast as he could; but just as came within a stone's throw of Archie, to John's great alarm, Archie lost his balance, and fell, with his whole force, across the road. John ran to endeavour to help him up again, but, when he got close to him, he perceived that his head had struck against a stone, and that it was bleeding profusely. "What shall I do now?" said John. "Pray, Archie, try to raise yourself up, if you can; for I have not strength to move you, and I cannot leave you lying here; for if a horse or cart were to come by, you would be crushed to pieces." Archie spoke not, but John continued pulling him as hard as he could, without the least success; and now, becoming seriously alarmed, as he found his temple still bleeding in spite of the neckcloth which John had taken from Archie's neck and tied round his head, he thought the only thing he could do was to run home and prevail on old Sandy, the shepherd, to come and help to remove Archie to a place of safety. "But I will get as quietly as I can in at the back door of the manse," thought John, "that the minister may know nothing about it; for I don't know what would be the consequence, if he were to learn that there was such a disgraceful sight, just before his own door, on a Sunday evening."
With this intention, John ran up the lane, and had just got his hand upon the latch of the back door, which he was lifting gently up, when he heard the study bell ring for prayers, which on Sunday were always before supper, in order that the children and servants of the family might be examined on what they had heard at church; an excellent practice, as it induces them to be more attentive while there, and gives them an opportunity of being instructed on points which they may not have perfectly understood. John had no time to deliberate. He went in, and saw the tail of the shepherd's coat, just going into the parlour. He sprung forward, in hopes of drawing him back, without being observed; but Sandy was too intent on what he had to say to the Minister to understand any of the signs that John was making. He therefore only thought the boy was playing some monkey tricks; and being greatly scandalized at such conduct, so near the presence of his master, he, with one jerk, pushed poor John into the middle of the room. A shriek, from Mrs. Martin, made her husband, who was sitting at the table, with the large family Bible open before him, raise his head. A most terrific sight was presented to him—John standing directly opposite, as pale as death, his face and hands stained in various places with blood, his clothes in disorder, and trembling from head to foot. "What has happened, child?" asked they all with one breath. "What have you been doing?" John stood undetermined what to say. He stammered; and, at last, bursting into tears and turning to the shepherd, cried, "Oh, Sandy! why did you not stop, when I pulled your coat? then I should not have been obliged to tell upon poor Archie; but now I cannot save him from disgrace." "Speak distinctly, my dear," said Mr. Martin, taking hold of his hand, and bidding him compose himself. "Something serious must have happened. Don't think of Archie's disgrace: but tell me at once what it is." John now saw that he could not avoid unfolding his tale, and therefore began, in a very confused way, to relate what had happened. Mr. Martin, however, soon gathered that Archie had fallen down and was hurt. He therefore waited no longer than to get a lantern lighted, and with old Sandy, set out after John, who ran before them to show them where Archie was.
When they got near the place, they heard him groaning most piteously. They raised him up, and tried to get him to walk between them; but though he was sensible of the pain of his head, as they supposed by his groans, he was so completely overcome by liquor, that he could not assist himself in the least; and after various trials, Mr. Martin desired John, as the only method of getting their burden to the Manse that he could think of, to go and bring Bob down some difficulty they at last succeeded in conveying Archie safe to the house; and the maids, in the mean time, having made up a bed for him in the kitchen, Mrs. Martin proceeded to examine his wound. She found it was a pretty deep cut; but not likely to be of any serious consequence. She therefore, after dressing it, ordered Sandy to put her patient to bed, and leave him to sleep off the effects of his intoxication. The family then returned to the parlour, Nelly having first washed John's face and hands, and made him a little more fit to be seen; and Mrs. Martin observing that he was still pale from the fright, gave him a glass of currant wine before he began his catechism.
After the duties of the evening were over, the supper was brought in, which on Sunday evenings is usually the most abundant meal of any during the week, and in general the most cheerful; but this night poor Helen's illness through a damp over the spirits of her parents; and the nicely-roasted fowl, with fried eggs, Mr. Martin's favourite dish left the table almost untouched; to the great displeasure of Nelly the cook, who supposing it arose from a different cause, declared in the kitchen, that it was scandalous shame for that wicked varlet, Archie Kerr, to disturb her good master, and keep him from eating his wholesome supper after the fatigues of the day, by thinking on his great wickedness. "Was there no other place for him to break his head but just before the Minister's door?" She was sure if she had seen him fall she would have let him lie.
"Hush, Nelly," said Sandy, "you would have done no such thing. You are only angry because your supper has not been eaten to-night; but I dare say Archie has nothing to do with that; it is more likely to be Miss Helen's illness."
"I did not think of that, indeed," said Nelly. "May be Archie is not to blame about the supper, and he has enough to answer for without laying that to his charge; but, good night," continued she, "it is time we were all gone to bed. Remember, Sandy, that Archie must not leave the house till our master has seen and talked with him. I was desired to tell you to be very particular about this. I am thinking the Minister will read him a lecture. I am sure I would not be in his place for the best new gown in Langholm." So saying, they all separated for the evening.
Through the night poor Helen suffered considerably; and her anxious mother never left her till towards morning, when Mr. Martin took his wife's place, and insisted that she should lie down for a few hours. "We shall have you ill too, my dear, if you do not take care; and then what will become of us?" "Pray, mamma," said Helen, (who had heard what her father said,) "do go to bed. I promise you I will lie quite still, and give papa no trouble that I can help." Mrs. Martin was at last persuaded to leave them; and after a sleep of three hours, found, on her return to the room, that the measles had made their appearance, and that Helen felt rather better than when she had left her.
On going down stairs, Mr. Martin enquired for Archie Kerr, of Nelly, who was laying the cloth for breakfast. "He is pretty well, Sir, this morning, but wants sadly to get away to his work. At least, that is what he says; but I think he is afraid to see you, after what happened last night. When he discovered where he was, Sandy tells me, he grew quite pale, and said, 'This is the worst scrape I have ever got into. I think I would almost as soon have fallen into the river as have been brought to the Manse, for how shall I ever face the Minister?'" "Send him in to me, Nelly; and don't disturb us, till I ring the bell." Nelly did as she was ordered; and Archie made his appearance with his head bound up, and one of Sandy's woollen night-caps half drawn over his eyes, as if he wanted to hide them from the good man, who was now going to address him. As, however, the door was shut immediately, and there were none present but himself and the Minister, what Mr. Martin said to him never transpired; only when he left the study and passed through the kitchen, in his way to go home, Nelly observed that his eyes were red with weeping; and as he shook hands with John, he said, "I shall have reason, my little fellow, to bless the night you found me, and got me brought to the Manse, all my life long, if I can but remember what the minister has been saying to me; and, after his kindness, I shall be an ungrateful villain indeed, if ever I forget it; and that I would not be for all the whiskey in Eskdale. Farewell! And, my man, if ever you should be tempted to drink more than is good for you, think on Archie Kerr, last night, and I am sure that will restrain you."
When Mr. Armstrong made his appearance, after breakfast, he said, Helen was doing as well as he could wish. She was likely to have the disease very easily; and he hoped, in a few days, would be quite well. "I wish," added he, "that poor little Marion Scott may do as well. She is a delicate creature, and her fever ran very high when I left her yesterday." He added, he was going higher up the dale, and would not return till the evening, and that he would see Helen on his way back. He spoke this on the step of the door, as he was going out. John heard it, and, running up to Mr. Martin, asked him if he might go up with Mr. Armstrong as far as Mr. Scott's, "just to hear how poor Marion is, this morning, Sir." "Certainly, my dear, I am glad that you thought of it; for I am very anxious to hear of her myself. But, stop a moment, I will get you something for her that may be useful; as it is not likely that Mrs. Scott should have any herself." So saying, he went up to his wife, and asked her for a pot of black currant jelly, of which a country clergyman's wife always takes care to have a good supply, for the benefit of her poorer neighbours. John having got his affairs carefully packed by Nelly, in a wicker basket, set out at a good pace after Mr. Armstrong. As he walked along he could not help remembering in what very different circumstance he had walked that very road, only three days before. "Dear me," said he to himself, "who could have thought that so very happy a day should have produced such melancholy events? Here are we, all in sickness and anxiety, instead of singing and conversing so pleasantly as we then did. I may just as well be at the hill now, as with the Minister; for, even though Miss Helen should get well, (which I hope and trust she will,) there can be no long walks for a great while again. I remember, when I had this troublesome disease, I was not able to run about, strongly, for nearly three months." As he passed by Mr. Elliott's cottage, he gave it a look, and said, "Well, I wish Miss Helen could live at that pretty place, when she grows to be a woman; but I don't see how it can well happen, unless, indeed, Master William should become a great man, (as why should he not? He is my master's own son; and he is surely the best man in Eskdale;) then, to be sure, he may very likely buy the farm, to please his sister, and live at it with her; oh, dear! how I should like to see that day."