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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 131, 27 July 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
THE DISRUPTION: A TALE OF TRYING TIMES. CHAPTER I. If’a tales be true that the neighbors can tell, It’s no her ain fault that she lives by hersel’; For 'a the fine lace-caps and ribbons she bought. Our braw maiden auntie has never been sought. ALEX. SMART. The college session of 1841-2 had just ended, when Simon M'Quirkie and James Duncanson, fellow students of divinity, left Edinburgh to pass the vacation at home. They both belonged to the same district, though the native village of the one was a short distance from the birthplace of the other. They had been acquainted with each other from infancy, and had passed much of their time together in maturer years, from the circumstance of being both attached to the venerable Church of Scotland, and both bred to the clerical profession in the same University; but strictly speaking they were not intimate friends. There was a difference of some years between their ages, and their dispositions'were so dissimilar as to render them little suited to be companions. But this will become apparent enough as our tale proceeds, so we shall not spend time in describing their distinctive characters.
The affairs of the Kirk were, at that particular time, exciting intense interest throughout the country, and it may be supposed they would form the chief subject of conversation between the two students. This, however, was not the case. Whether it was that they had discussed the question of Non-intrusion and Spiritual Independence till they had nothing further to say on them, or that the thoughts of home for the time absorbed all others, we shall not undertake to say. This, however, is certain ; they talked of little else but home,- and what they anticipated enjoying there. They travelled by coach, and, the day being fine, were both outside passengers. Mr M'Quirkie, after looking over the notes of engagements he had entered in his memorandum book, began to calculate how he should be able to get through all the visits he had promised, and to find time for indulging himself in his favorite amusement of trout-fishing. “I am afraid,” he said, “I have promised more than I can perform ; for here I have more than a dozen visits to pay all within the next week ; and how I am to get decently through them all, and yet find time to have a turn up at the burns this fine weather, I cannot see. ” “ There is one of your engagements,” said Duncanson, “which you must not break, whatever you may do as to the rest. Mind, you promised to come over to my aunt’s house on Wednesday afternoon, and I intend to hold you to your word. If nothing but fishing will please you, I will whip the water with you for an hour or to up the glen, and I darseay you will get a many nibbles there as any place but at all events you must make your appearance at Whinnyside at the time appointed.” Mr. M’Quirkie renewed his promise on the condition stipulated, and his companion soon after left the coach at a crossroad which led direct to the farm of his managing maiden aunt, Deborah Renshaw.
His luggage, though it was neither very bulky nor heavy, he left at the stagehouse, to be brought home by the Whinnyside milk-cart, which passed that way daily. Thus unencumbered, our hero strode lightly forward, and would have reachedthe end of his journey in little time, though it was two miles off, had he continued at the same rate. But at a turn of the road he slackened his pace, and good reason why. Just at that spot, as had been previously arranged by letter, he met a young lady with whom our readers will become acquainted by and by, but whom we shall not at present attempt to describe. The truth is, James Duncanson had committed the folly of falling in love before he had completed his curriculum, which is looked upon by prudent people as the worst of all the follies which a budding clergyman can commit. But James was not of a calculating nature, and his heart had yielded to an attachment as pure and disinterested as ever existed in the breast of man. The lovers met at a shady, secluded part of the road. Nobody observed them, and no record exists of the soft words or fond looks which passed between them on this occasion; so we must slip over this tender scene in the full assurance that it was very tender, as all the meetings of true lovers are. After the first flush of joy at meeting with the desire of his eyes, James Duncanson became somewhat grave and thoughtful. He recollected that he was wholly dependent on his aunt, and felt some misgivings regarding the reception she might give to the sweet girl he intended to introduce to her as his affianced bride. He knew his aunt’s peculiarities of temper, and was also aware that she had been informed of his amour; but lie thought it possible to carry her acquiescence in his choice by a coup de main, and with this view he ventured to introduce Miss Agnes Montgomery to her on the present occasion. He had hopes that the youth, beauty, and tenderness of Agnes would not only reconcile his aunt to the attatchment he had formed, but would interest her warmly in forwarding his views. How far he was mistaken, the sequel will show. ‘‘ Is your aunt prepared to expect a visit from me 1 ” asked Miss Montgomery. “ Not exactly,” said her lover, “ but I have apprised her that I am to have a friend with me, and I think she will likely guess pretty well that you are my companion, for she has heard of our correspondence. ” A slight shade, not of displeasure or disappointment, but of hesitation, came over the young lady’s features when she heard this announcement. Agnes seemed half unwilling to proceed, fearful that her welcome at Whinnyside would not be very cordial. She, however, became satisfied on receiving James’s assurance that he knew his. aunt’s disposition, and felt convince (Ltliey were taking the right way to please her by at once taking her into their confidence.
On they went, but in no great haste, for the weather was pleasant, and they had much to speak of. The direct road was too short to afford them a good opportunity for prolonging their conversation as they felt inclined, so they struck into a winding path which led along the banks of a stream flowing, though with many a loitering turn, towards Whinnyside.
Just as they left the the main road, a country lad on horseback passed them at a canter, and saluted them with a good broad stare. “ That’s Robin Afleck, one of my aunt’s servants,” said the student. “He knows me well, and has not failed to observe us, so aunt will have word in a few minutes of our approach, and perhaps it is just as well that we should not take her altogether by surprise.” The information did reach her very soon, for Robin immediately changed the canter into a hard gallop, and shouted out the mews before he had well dismounted.
“ Div ye mean to tell me,” asked his mistress, after she had heard what he had to say, “ that my nevvo is cornin’ doun the burnside wi’ a ledcly ? ” ‘ ‘ Deed do I, mistress; that’s my thought, ye see, but maybe I’m mista’en. There’s twa coinin’ doun by at ony rate, and ane ’o them’s Maister Jimes, beyont a doot. The person that’s wi’ him looks unco like ajUeddy ; that’s a’ I’ll say,” replied Robin; and then added in a lower key, intended only to be indistinctly heard, “and that’s mair than I wad say for every body dressed in leddy’s gear.” Whether or not Mistress Deborah heard the sarcastic remark with which Robin concluded, and applied it to herself, is uncertain ; but it is beyond a doubt that she turned into the house in a mood not the most auspicious for her youthful visitors. [to be continued. 1
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 131, 27 July 1880
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