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their appearance long after the proper time, the worthy farmer of the place thought it his duty to look for them with lanterns along the moorland path. By dint of hollaing among the hills, Jock and his father were at last found lying lovingly in each other's arms, like the Babes in the Wood, behind a juniper bush: Such affection had the two for each other. Old Johnie died first; and the poor innocent," heart-stricken from that hour, went maundering about his father's grave, and pined away, and very soon followed his parent to the dust.
I must notice another of our "innocents;" she being a maniac, however, and not an idiot. Poor Menie Bell! A beautiful girl was Menie! Going into our church-yard one day late in the gloaming, I heard the low, sweet, melancholy warbling of some bird, as I thought, in one of the dim shaded corners of the burying-ground. I was rather surprised, as it was past the hour for the music of our birds. On approaching to look at the grave of a peculiar acquaintance of my own, who was buried there, I beheld a female figure kneeling beside it, and evidently in the act of planting flowers upon it. She it was, too, who was singing like a bird. Up she started, as I advanced, and glided away with a shy wild look. It was Menie Bell-poor Menie! But let me tell how she lost her wits:Her mother, a widow of our Village, was milking her cow one evening in the dusk, when Menie, her only child, a lass of about sixteen, who had been at service, came hastily in, fell on her neck, and exclaiming "Mother! mother!" fainted away. The cause of it was this :-One or two articles had disappeared in her master's house, under somewhat suspicious circumstances; the poor lassie was blamed for it, and was turned off. Thus broken of heart, she came to her mother. Scarcely was she away from her service, when the missing things were found, and her innocence clearly discovered. Every apology and expression of regret was offered to her by her late employers, and eager was their desire to have her back again. But it was too late. The poor thing's mind was affected by the affront, and she became a moping
lunatic. As she gradually grew a little more settled and composed, she was employed to tend the Village cows, which were pastured for the summer in one general body on a coarse wide common which extended away up to a set of woody hills. In this lonely service, Menie learned to imitate the singing of all the birds she heard in the moor-lands, and among the woods that skirted the mountains. The little black-cap, certainly one of the very sweetest of these choristers, was her especial favourite; and it was after the manner of the black-cap she was singing when I went into the church-yard on the evening referred to. A bull grazed among the Village cows. afternoon he suddenly attacked poor Menie, and had her down among his feet, when a young gentlemen, who lived in a solitary manner in a retired cottage among the hills, saw it as he was crossing the common, and hasted to rescue the girl. He assailed the bull at once in the most fearless manner with a simple stick which he happened to be carrying, and drew the ferocious brute away Menie, and full The result of this encounter himself. upon was fatal to the gallant young man. He was dreadfully gored and trampled; and before some labourers, who were working in a distant field, could hear Menie's cries for help -for she had not been much hurt, and was now running towards them shrieking piteously-and could get to the spot and drive off the bull, her deliverer's own life was almost gone. By his faint directions, the labourers bore him to his cottage. A medical man was then sought for; and as there was no other about our Village at the time, I was hurried away to see him. He would let me do nothing for him, however, till I had destroyed all his papers. He then gave me instructions to have him buried in the most sequestered corner of our church-yard. No attempt was to be made to find out his relatives: He wished to pass from earth without leaving one trace of him behind. he had taken his cottage furnished, he had no property in the shape of furniture to dispose of: His only goods were his clothes and his money, and a mourning ring which he
After defraying the expenses of his funeral, and
paying his servant's wages, and his house rent, I was to give the rest of his money, and all his clothes, one-half to the poor girl whose life he had saved, and the other half to the paupers of our Village. He made me, as his executor in these matters, accept his mourning ring. Scarcely had he signified his wish on these points, when he died. In all respects I fulfilled his last injunctions; and he was buried in a shaded corner of our church-yard accordingly, where lie the bones of such unknown wayfaring strangers as have died suddenly in our parish. I may mention here that I afterwards found out who the unfortunate young man was. He had been an officer in the army. He had often shewn himself to be thoroughly brave. But in one of those sudden unaccountable moods which come over the stoutest hearts, he had flinched from his post in an important crisis of battle. He could not stand the result, and fled from the service. His hiding-place was in our quiet hills. Poor fellow! what heavy years he must have had of it! But the manner of his death proved he was no coward. I may add, that he was an Englishman, and a remarkably fine-looking young man. And now for
Menie:-Those who know the strange caprices of insanity will not be surprised to learn that the hurt which she got on the melancholy occasion referred to, and the excitement which it gave to her nervous system, had a salutary effect upon her mind, and almost restored her for a time to perfect reason. She still continued, however, shy and reserved. Gradually again her faculties became clouded. In reason, however, and in mental alienation, never did the sense of gratitude to her young deliverer leave the poor girl's heart. Constantly was she hovering about his grave, when she thought none saw her. Nettle, nor hemlock, nor any other unsightly weed had leave to grow there. Nor slug, nor snail, nor foul slimy worm was permitted to crawl there. In spring she planted snow-drops, primroses, daisies, and violets all about his place of rest; and she watered them every evening in the dry summer months. Ay, and at the shiest hours of midnight were the low plaintive warblings of the poor "natural," "innocent" Bird of Gratitude
heard over the young Englishman's grave, in that meek lonely nook of our church-yard.
"Daft Davie" must be chronicled also. His penchant, and his "small peculiar" of accomplishment, were likewise of a kirk-yard kind. Whenever there was a grave to be dug, Davie was the asthmatic old sexton's right-hand We know from 66 "The Grave," Hamlet," Bride of Lammermoor," &c., that the classic character of the sexton is a hard-grained one. This character is true to nature. But I would add to it, that your village grave-digger has all the oddities of idleness and dissipation in his neighbourhood for "helps" on burial occasions. "Daft Davie" was the one great indispensable of this class in our church-yard. In his train there was always a squad of boys. Besides the mere ploy, if the corpse was to come from a distance, they had the additional prospect of horses to hold, with the pleasures of a ride and remunerative halfpence. And there around the grave, aye as the fat friable earth was thrown out by the groaning old sexton, down bent the truant urchins, taking up handfuls of it, to see if the particles crumbled, disparted, and stirred with something almost like a creeping motion in the hand: If they did so, then it was the dust of the wicked, which, according to their popular belief, never could lie still for a moment. Meanwhile, "Daft Davie," by an inalienable monopoly of prerogative, was taking charge of the bones. All that were thrown out were carefully cleaned by him, and laid scrupulously together: First the yellow shanks, crossing each other; and over them the surmounting skull, which the creature not only cleaned, but even did his best to polish, that on the burial day it might be "decent-like" -so he phrased it. Inside the skull he put all the small splinters. The other bones were arranged by the sides of the central heap. And thus they were found on the funeral day, to the satisfaction of relatives, lying, in the graphic language of the Psalmist, like "cleft wood" at the grave's mouth. To ring the minute peals of the Kirk bell, as the bier approached, was Davie's crowning triumph; and, as he had learned to do the thing skilfully, he was
always indulged with the bell-rope. This indulgence proved fatal to himself at last, bringing him to a very characteristic end. The burial was that of a rich old gentleman of the parish, who had made rather a figure in the world. There was no thought that Davie could go wrong in the matter, and so the bell was entrusted to him as usual. The notion, however, seems somehow to have got into his weak brain, that here was a great man to be rung for, and that he must ring with a difference. He did not comprehend, at the same time, that greater pomp and solemnity must lie in greater slowness, but took the contrary idea; and so, when the intimation that the funeral was coming in sight was given him, he began to pull with might and main, tolling furiously. People were coming running to stop him, when the iron tongue of the bell, which had been known to be loose for some time, fell, half-a-stone in weight, on the poor old idiot's bald bare head, and killed him on the spot. "Strange!" said an inveterate punster of the Presbytery, at their next meeting, "that a man should be killed by a mere lapsus lingua!"
SPRING IN THE COUNTRY.
The older I grow, the faster, I find, does time slip away from me. But I am happier, upon the whole, now than ever I was before. Youth is restless, tumultuous, and dissatisfied; always longing for something yet to come, rushing into and through pleasure with such vehemence as to confound its own perceptions of it, and then sinking into deep but undefined melancholy. We are wiser as we grow older-sipping enjoyment more leisurely, and tasting it with a nicer relish; altogether more equable and more easy. Be mine the old age described by Cicero with all his Asiatic softness and fulness, "Quiete et pure et eleganter actæ ætatis placida ac lenis senectus !” Better still, in the words of THE BOOK, "The hoary head is a crown of