« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
“I," said Tom Watson, a brisk rattling lad ment to everyone-except the old laird who of fourteen, “I want to be a contractor for still believed in the quarry. Even when the great public works, Consulting Engineer to Her workings had been abandoned, he used to visit Majesty's Government, and that sort of thing. it day by day, and sit among its debris like I shall begin my career by buying up the old Marius among the ruins of Carthage. Plenty of quarry, as my father tells me Colonel Down- stone had indeed been got at, but it was found ward is anxious to sell the whole place. Here to be utterly useless for building purposes-soft, I'll settle down and be known, in the sweet by brittle, and inclined to crumble into sand after and bye,' as Sir Thomas Watson, Baronet, of a day or two's exposure to the atmosphere. Eildonlea--if not Lord Eildonlea.”
A strange affair happened one day at the old “Scarce soars ambition quite so high with quarry, and nearly resulted in the tragic end of me," replied his companion, Tony Wilky, a the poor old laird, who had left the disused would-be poet, journalist, or novelist. “I'll first workings only a few minutes before the following of all dispose of my mother's business, and get incident took place. On the summit of the rid of this infernal drudgery of paper delivering green hill containing the quarry workings there in the mornings, join the staff of The Border stood, once upon a time, a tremendous mass of Beacon, and settle down, as proprietor of the rock, round in shape, and of a totally different paper in a snug villa in the neighbourhood of geological composition from the soft and friable St. Johns.”
stone found in the quarry. Tradition named The speculations and dreams, here specially the enormous boulder “Samson's Putting-stone," reported, brought the prospective contractor to from the fact, probably, that Samson had never the door of his father's cottage where the seen it, or at all events that he had probably parting took place for the night, after arranging never thrown it. Geologists, of course, explained to see each other next day. The would-be the whole business by saying that the mighty journalist and newspaper proprietor then hurried water-rolled boulder had been dropped from forward to St. Johns, where his mother and some passing iceberg millions of ages before sister kept the Post Office, with its adjuncts of Samson was even thought of. book-selling, stationery, circulating library, and Be that as it may, Samson's Putting-stone was newspaper agency.
lying so provokingly close to the edge of a steep CHAP. II.
declivity on the top of the hill, that it had long
become a standing object of adventure on the THE OLD QUARRY.
part of the boys and young men of St. JohnsThe old quarry, which had given shelter to “What a go to set it rolling down the hill !” our two young friends, Tom Watson and Tony By dint of undermining, and coaxing, and Wilky, may be found on the northern slope of a shoving, the great boulder was actually set free. green hill on the fine old residential estate of Away she went thundering down the hill, until Eildonlea, a mile to the west of the town of she reached the great gap made by the quarry St. Johns. This estate, at the time of the boys' workings, into which she plumped and took up discovery in the quarry, was in the market, but her residence firmly embedded in the debris. though it had been twice exposed for sale, no The old laird had only left the quarry workings purchaser had as yet offered the low upset price a little while before the arrival of Samson's fixed by the local firm of writers. The head Putting-stone: had he remained a few minutes forester was the only person left on the estate, longer, the consequences may be far more easily and this forester was John Watson, the father imagined than reported here. of one of the prospective millionaires.
It was behind this tremendous piece of rock, There was a tradition in the county that this hereafter known as Samson's Putting-stone, that same old quarry had ruined the late laird of the boys sheltered themselves on the night of Eildonlea, and impoverished his successor. the hail-storm. It was on this same stone that Believing that a mine of wealth lay hidden in some one had cut the inscription : the hill, the old laird referred to tapped the
“ Blest be the man......... turns me.. hill on the northern slope and was satisfied that For underneath.........gold......... found.” the fine building material which lay stored up The author of the inscription was generally there was destined to yield untold wealth to his understood to be the old laird who, however heirs and successors for many generations to never experienced the blessing that was to come come. But though the hill was tapped, the upon the man who should turn the stone round mineral wealth had not yet been reached and find the wealth that lay concealed beneath. Year after year of excavation and spade-work. When the old laird of the quarry died, his had only resulted in utter failure and disappoint- only son, Colonel Downward, assumed the reins
of government at Eildonlea. Unfortunately for gamekeeper : “Forgive me, Ellison, I have never the Colonel, there was not much left to govern, forgotten the incident on the moor behind the for evil days had fallen upon Eildonlea, and Quarry Hill. I was not myself that day, nor am misfortune followed upon misfortune. Retiring I myself even yet. But to show you that I am from the army, Colonel Downward devoted anxious to atone for my most unjustifiable conhimself to the personal management of his duct and rudeness, let me inform you that a estate, and did what he could to restore the friend of mine in the North wants a thoroughly broken fortunes of his house by retrenchment reliable gamekeeper, and I have strongly recomand reform in many directions. Agricultural mended you for the situation. It is yours if depression, however, and a general fall in rents, you care to apply for it.” made the restoration of his fortune one of the “The dear Colonel !” said Ellison to his wise most difficult problems that had ever looked as he read the letter and laid it on the table, “I him in the face.
have never been mysel syne that day either. Keeping no company at Eildonlea, Colonel It's the only quarrel we ever had. But's it's a' Downward fell back upon himself. He became made up now, and I'm Andrew Ellison yince gloomy and depressed, allowed his sorrows to mair.” prey upon him, and fell an easy prey to despond Needless to add that the gamekeeper made ency and to despondency's brother, despair. application for the situation in the North, and Alone, and attended only by the gamekeeper that he at once obtained it. one day, the Colonel went shooting over the As already mentioned, the estate was left moorland that stretches away from the summit in charge of John Watson, the head forester, of the Quarry Hill. Meeting with but and it was in the condition here described when indifferent sport, he lost his temper over the the boys made their great discovery in the erratic conduct of the dogs, and abused the quarry on the night of the hail-storm. gamekeeper for having trained them so badly.
(To be continued.) Ellison, the gamekeeper aforesaid, was about to offer some explanation, but the Colonel blazed up. “Don't speak to me,” he yelled Dr. John Usber as a poet. out: “ I've a good mind to empty both barrels
BY SIR GEORGE DOUGLAS, BART. -one into you, and the other into these infernal dogs."
RR. JOHN USHER, late farmer of Stodrig, “Colonel !” replied Ellison, quite calmly but
and Laureate of the Borders, as I have resolutely, “Ye forget that your barrels are
heard him called, has passed away at baith emp'y, an' that mine's no'. Tak' my gun, Kelso, at the ripe age of eighty-six. In so long an' shoot the innocent dowgs if ye like-they're a life, it was matter of course that a man of his your ain property ; but by the livin' God that's strong vitality should find room for great and abune baith men an' dowgs, if ye take aim at me, varied activity ; and though well pleased to have I'll smash your arm before ye pu'a trigger.” the opportunity of laying my pebble on the
"Ah!” replied the Colonel, suddenly brought cairn of a respected neighbour and a well-liked to his senses, “I never thought I would live to friend, I cannot help wishing that the task of see the day when I would be spoken to in this writing about him for the Border Magazine had way by a-by-by a gamekeeper !”
fallen to one who knew him earlier and in a more - As little did I ever expect to be spoken to varied relation than I can claim to have done. by a-by-by a Colonel in the way ye ha'e just For I am sure there must be good stories to tell, dune, sir. But ye provoked me, Colonel ; if ye and interesting traits of character to record, of thocht I wad stand an' be shot down like a his early life, of his feats in horsemanship, of dowg, let me tell ye, that ye were never mair his life as a farmer, of his brilliancy and geniality mista'en in a' your life.”
as a boon-companion. That these will be Not a word did Colonel Downward utter in committed to writing some day, and the sooner reply. Throwing his own discharged gun the better, I sincerely hope, as I sincerely regret among the heather, he turned round and the circumstance which makes of them, as regards walked rapidly down to Eildonlea. Never myself, a sealed book. Owing to a difference of again did he shoot over the moor with Andrew nearly fifty years in our ages, it was as “ Old Ellison, or indeed with anybody else. Within Usher," as he was affectionately called by the two months after the incident here narrated, people hereabout, that I first knew him ; and, the Colonel removed his family to Edinburgh, later in life, when congeniality of taste drew us and Eildonlea was advertised to sell or let. closer together, it was of literary matters that we Before going, however, he left this note for the were eager to talk when we met. So it is only in old age and on the literary side that I curlers," and therefore not of merely local can pretend to have known him intimately, application. These last two are his most which side was, after all, the less characteristic finished, and probably his most lasting conside of his nature. He would himself have been tributions to Border literature. His remaining the last to overrate his poetic talents, and there poems are chiefly of a personal character, that is was no one whose self-respect would have they are inspired by themes, such as an old revolted sooner from the sickly over-praise which friend, a first grand-child, genial companionship, is the fashion of the present day.
the death of a favourite horse, suggested by his He may be said to have begun his connexion everyday life and which appealed directly to his with literature in earliest childhood, and under deeper feelings. In them he generally embodied circumstances in themselves sufficient to kindle his sadder thoughts, as opposed to the livelier the flame of inspiration in him. His father impulses which found expression in his convivial owned Toftfield, now Huntlyburn, a small songs. Coming straight from the heart, they property then adjoining Abbotsford, but after- express warm feeling sweetly, and bear upon wards acquired by Sir Walter Scott and added them the impress of a strong personality. In to the larger estate ; and as a little boy, Usher more sustained styles of poetry he accomplished had the honour of standing between the knees nothing, missing perhaps the stimulus of a direct of Sir Walter, and singing him a song, in reward personal interest, or the near prospect of a for which he received the present of a pony from sympathetic audience. Late in life, when the great man. Later in life, as an athlete and meditating the publication of his book, he and frequenter of Border Games, he became applied to me for a subject for a longer poem familiar with the Ettrick Shepherd ; and among which should serve to swell its bulk. I suggested other literary lights with whom he was acquainted Queen Mary's ride from Jedburgh to visit the were John Wilson, Henry Scott Riddell, and wounded Bothwell at Hermitage. The subject (of course) his fellow-Kelsonian, Stoddart. He suited him well enough, for it had to do with himself began to compose early, his first song two of the things which he liked best, namely being written in 1834, for a banquet given to a the Borders and a horse ; whilst he was also a defeated candidate for East Lothian at the first chivalrous admirer of beauty in the fair sex. parliamentary election after the passing of the But if he dreamed over it, he did no more. In great Reform Bill. This shows the poet to have knowledge of literature, while quite without lighted immediately on the style of composition pretension, he was qualified to hold his own in which suited him best. For he was at his best conversation with professional men of letters; as a song.writer, and perhaps especially at his and lest this assertion be thought to savour in best as a writer of “occasional ”and local songs; the least degree of patronage, let me ask how songs, for instance, written to celebrate such many men of letters exist who could hold their events as the Majority of the Marquess of own with practical farmers in conversation about Bowmont, or the Presentation of a Portrait to farming ? He retained his musical powers the Duke of Roxburghe, songs on the Kelso almost to the last, and when last I heard him sing, Volunteers, Kelso Mechanics’ Institute, and last three and four years ago, notwithstanding his not least, Kelso Curling Club, in which last- great age, he acquitted himself with perfect named composition he admirably hits off grace, winning hearty applause from all present. characteristics of the various players, and He was indeed one who bore his years lightly. humorous incidents of the season's play. His fine and plentiful silver hair, his well-knit Probably it was from this facility in occasional figure, the neatness of his attire, all harmonized pieces that he got his title of Laureate of the well with his native dignity and the courtesy of Borders. Of course the drawback of this style of his manners. Nor was his personality the less composition is that its interest is local and attractive for being somewhat subdued by age. ephemeral. However the poet also succeeded Throughout the Borders, his merits were widely admirably in songs appealing to a wider public. recognized; and I doubt not that at his funeral His four charming songs on Scotch proverbs to-day very many who, like myself, knew, valued, are an instance to which he himself composed respected and admired him, will assemble to pay melodies, and his singing of which was an the last tribute of respect to one who supplied a agreeable incident in many an evening's enter- rare (though not unique) instance of a vein of tainment. They are full of a mellow and tuneful poetic feeling and creative imagination combining wisdom which entitles them to be preserved. with the sturdy character and shrewd practical Then there is his “Pipe of Tobacco," a capital capacity of the typical Border Farmer. Smoker's Song, and his “Channel Stane,” an equally good song inscribed to "a' keen January 11, 1896.
A Border Boarding Scbool.
all a-giggling for a good quarter of an hour. In
the town, of which Friar Bank was an outlying UR young lady readers may probably feel villa, there was a firm of Millwrights and
interested in the following account of a Engineers known as Metcalf & Turnbull.
Boarding School as conducted some fifty These gentlemen formed the subject of the or sixty years ago in the Border Country by one following conundrum one evening : “Who is of the most beautiful and sensible women of her the braver man ofthe two-Metcalf or Turnbull?” day. Her husband had been a medical man, but When all had “given it up," the propounder lost his health in the hard work and long rides in of the riddle, a fair-haired beauty named Miss all kinds of weather. At his death, his young Harden, solved it by saying: “Mr. Turnbull, widow was left utterly unprovided for. Instead, for he turned a bull; while Mr. Metcalf only however, of sinking under her sorrows, Mrs. met a calf !” Beauly Hill, the lady referred to, opened a school After the consequent hilarious laughter and and soon began to feel in her experience how applause had subsided, Mrs. Beauly Hill, sweet had been the uses of adversity when borne colouring deeply, criticised it thus: “What a in the right spirit, and accepted without com- ridiculous guess, niy dear Miss Harden. But plaint or murmuring.
it's clever too." I fancy she would have said The course of instruction at Friar Bank was more, but the "colouring up” continued, for it of the simplest kind. There was “neither was well-known that Mr. Turnbull, the clever ginger-bread nor nonsense in it," as one of Mrs. young engineer, was one of Mrs. Beauly Hill's Beauly Hill's admirers used to say, and she had most devoted admirers. many admirers, but of these we have no narrative School work began at ten o'clock next morning to relate, in the meantime at least. Young ladies by the whole of the pupils, boarding and day, were admitted into this school not to be “finished," assembling in the school-room and repeating, but to be educated and prepared for creditably reverently and simultaneously, the Lord's Prayer. entering upon the path of life which should open Thereafter the young ladies broke off into their out for each after leaving Friar Bank. Reading, various class-rooms and began the work of the Writing, and Arithmetic—the three R's of day by attacking the perplexities of Arithmetic, modern education-Needlework, Cookery, and or “counting” as it was called then, English Household Management, were the main branches Grammar, Reading, Writing, Sewing, and so on. of instruction which Mrs. Beauly Hill took in Mrs. Beauly Hill's system of teaching was based hand to teach and not to “profess." All the on no system but her own, and that was simply other fashionable crazes of the day, such as “the evolved from the large stock of common sense use of the globes," how to sit on a high-backed and sound judgment which she naturally chair and carry a stiff back, and such like non- possessed, based, however, on the solid groundsense, were laughed out of court by this sensible work of education which she herself had received woman. The only extras she allowed at Friar in Edinburgh. Bank were Music and Dancing, but these were When once a pupil was able to read fairly taught by visiting masters at stated intervals. well, the practice of reading was transferred from
Out of the five-and-twenty young ladies the school or text-book to the real book of actual boarded at Friar Bank, one had to take her turn literature. It is impossible for the present for a week at a time to learn household manage- generation to realise the delightful charm which ment by actual practice. She had to consider the novels and poems of Sir Walter Scott gave herself, for the time being, at the head of an to our grand-parents in their young days. While establishment supposed to be her own. She a class was sitting engaged in needle-work, had to rise at seven, superintend the preparation sewing “samplers” with imitations of houses, for breakfast, give instructions as to the “doing trees, cocks and hens, one of the young ladies out” of the rooms, look after the luncheon, and would take “ The Antiquary” and read aloud to become responsible for the niost important event the others. There was, in this system, no such of the day-dinner at six o'clock. The evenings thing as listless reading : the interest was suswere spent in recreation and amusement. A tained throughout the lesson, and the proper favourite pastime then was the propounding of expression came out quite naturally. “Guesses” or Conundrums. When these were Arithmetic was taught in an equally practical original, so much the better, as the fun and way. After the preliminary and elementary rules hilarity they produced were allthe more enjoyable. had been thoroughly mastered, theory was carried Only one of these “Guesses” has been preserved into practice by the production of the household and it may be recorded here as a specimen of pass-books and the checking of the prosaic details what amused a lot of young ladies and set them furnished by the butcher, baker, and grocer,
Penmanship was carefully learned by copying were no gentlemen ever present, but that could into a book the strokes, hooks, letters and not be helped. Sometimes, however, a friend combinations of letters, which were engraved in of one of the young ladies was invited, but that copperplate and pasted on slips of pasteboard. friend was generally the mother, aunt, or sister Writing was not done then by steel pens, such of the pupil. Mrs. Beauly Hill took her place as are universally used now, but by quills which at the head of the table, and the young lady needed frequent mending. Mrs. Beauly Hill who acted as housekeeper for the week presided could do many things, but she could neither at the lower end. Let us suppose that this make nor mend a quill pen. Mr. Poynter, the latter was Miss Harden, the heroine of the banker, however, used to look after the pens, famous “guess " which alone has survived the and send one of his clerks up to Friar Bank wreck of time and change. A pretty creature every morning with a fresh supply. Mr. Poynter she was the making in her of a nice wife for was another admirer, and considered the matter the fortunate fellow who should woo and win of the pens simply as a labour of love on his her. Plenty of money, too, for she was an part.
heiress, and worth the running off with to ColdExcepting the endurance of an exceptionally stream, or Lamberton Toll, or Gretna Green, long service in the Parish Church, Sunday was some day. In the meantime, however, she was the pleasantest day of all the week at Friar Bank. too young for any such adventure, so we will It was a day of comparative rest and enjoyment only think of her as taking her place at the --the outcome of Mrs. Beauly Hill's own lower end of Mrs. Beauly Hill's table, and personal and living religion which was not a creating sunshine and enjoyment all around thing for Sunday only but for every day of the her. week. After breakfast at nine o'clock, family The servants bring in a thundering tureen of worship was conducted by the head of the sheep-head broth to begin with. Owing to the household. The “Exercise” consisted in the lengthened service in the church, the young singing of a Psalm or “Paraphrase," the reading ladies have had nothing since breakfast—except of a portion of Scripture, and a short extempore peppermint drops. Accordingly they were all prayer. Thereafter preparation was made for ready for dinner and full justice was likely to be going to church by all except the young lady meted out to it. The said sheep-head broth whose housekeeping for the week began on seemed to be greatly enjoyed, if evidence might Sunday morning.
be taken on that point from the rapidly emptied The remaining four and twenty young ladies plates and a second supply. As yet there is mustered in the dining room, and were there mar- not much conversation, for business was first shalled into church-going order. Some were fair, and pleasure afterward. The entrance of the and some were dark : some were tall, and some sheep's head itself, however, was the signal for were short : some were considered plain-looking, the conversation opening all along the dinnerwhile some were budding beauties. But they table. Flanked and supplemented by boiled all looked pleased and happy and bore on their fowl and roast-beef, the dinner began in earnest, faces a sort of trade-mark with the motto, and it was great enjoyment to see how heartily “Educated at Friar Bank." What odd dresses the young ladies could dispose of these “pieces these young ladies wore! Great open-faced of resistance." bonnets, locally called “ruskies” and made of Miss Harden slices down the fowls in beautifine leghorn or coarse plaited straw. In winter ful style, for carving was taught at Friar Bank they had each a cloak thrown over their short- by Mrs. Peacock of the Black Bull, who went waisted dresses with “gigot of mutton sleeves," up twice a week to teach the art. Such fun white stockings, and shoes with the long ends there is over the merry-thought ! Plenty of of the laces twisted neatly round the ankles. time allowed for dinner. Rice and other Each young lady carried a small Bible wrapped puddings follow, while biscuits, or “bakes” as in a neatly-folded white handkerchief, with a sprig they were then locally called, varied by short. of balm or “southern-wood," the fragrance from bread, cake, and dessert, wind up the entertainwhich was designed to keep drowsiness away in ment. church. Peppermint drops, however, were the So passed the Sunday evening at Friar Baukspecial favourites, and it was calculated that the pleasantest evening in all the week; all too there must have been at least a pound and a short, for every young lady had to retire early half of these confections consumed every Sunday to rest, as each and all had to be up half an in the Friar Bank pews during divine service. hour earlier on Monday morning in order to
Dinner at half-past four on Sundays-a cheery, fold away the dresses and ornaments that had genial, delightful family party. It is true there been worn on Sunday only.