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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 136, 7 August 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
THE DISRUPTION: A TALE OF TRYING TIMES. CHAPTER Y — continued. “Faith, there’s three questions abreast, nae less and, though there’s nano o’ them very kittlie,* like Effectual Callin’, it’ll no be easy to answer them a’ at ance. But, ye see, I have aye had a notion o’ doctoring horse and cattle, and it’s allooed I ha’e some talents for the job. Then, sir, though ye maybe wadna think it, I have some bawbees in the bank ; for I got the feck o’ fifty pound left me by a far-awa’ frien’, and I’ve gathered my fee since ever I cam’ to your auntie ; so I’m no bare o siller. For a’ that, I micht maybe ne’er ha’e thocht o’ spendin’t on yedication if I had only had mysel’ to please ; but, ye ken. there’s somebody else I whiles fash mysel’ a wee aboot 1 ”
“ O, Jean Brown, you mean 'I ” “Ay, yea, exackly, just her. We el, ye see. I’ve been makin' some progress wi’ her since - ye cam’ hame, for her and me had a heap o’ talk aboot you and Miss Migummery—and fegs, sir, I fand it was a grand opportunity to get something said for mysel’. But the little gipsy’s as ambitious as she’s bonnie, and she’s keen, as the Gentle Shepherd says, to Change her plaiden coat for silk. She tanld me plainly that as lang as I was but a plewman she wad ha’e nathing ado wi’ me. This was plump and plain and a wee provokesome, but it let me see that I micht come on wi’ her after a’, if I just could get abune days dargingt at the plewtail. She kent brawly o’ the pickle siller, but that made nae difference. She was sharp eneuch to see that it was owre little to gang far in the way o’ house plenishin’, or house haudin, no to speak o’ stockin’ a farm. And fegs, sir, she tauld me to geek for a wife wi’ siller —or, if naebody wad please me but hersel’, to gang and get intil some comfortable way o’ leevin’, and then she wad maybe think about takin’ my case into consideration. That was encouragement !—was’t na ? The cutty skirl’d and lauched when she said this, but I saw she was in earnest for a’ ; so I rummaged amang my head till I fand out this vet—vetinary scheme (hang that word!)—and fegs, sir, she’s highly pleased wi’t, and I’m shure, noo, but I may consider her as gud as trystit. ” X “ Well, Robin, I’m glad to hear it ; but you have not told me yet why you are in such a hurry, or how you have got away from my aunt in such a short notice ? ” “That’s easy explained. Ye see Jean and me made it a’ up yestreen, the time your auntie was in her tantrums. Forbye ither reasons for being in a hurry, we thocht it as weel for me to gi’e 'Whinnyside the wind o’ my heels withoot loss o’ time, in case I should be brocht owre the coals by Dr. Snapperdudgeon for his whumble intil the midden. No to say that I own I set the tup on him, but then if he should happen to prure’t on me, it might be a black business. And faith, sir, I have my fears o’ him, for he was at Whinnyside the time your auntie and you were at the Big House, and though I keepit oot o’ his gate, he questioned every ane aboot the place and examined a’ the fitsteps in the yard, and coonted and measured every stedd, baith o’ the tup’s feet and my tackety shoon. They tell me he was lookin’ grimmer thpn ordnar, and ye ken that’s grim eneucK, so Jean and me thocht it best for me to get a bit oot o’ his reach withoot loss o’ time. Everybody kens it’s uncanny to ha’e a plea wi’ him. The vera judges on the bench, I’m tauld, are nae matches for him at the law. And then as to the mistress, I kent fine how to manage her. Man, I would gar you laugh about your auntie if she didna just happen ta be your auntie ! I had nae mair ado to get my leave than to pretend to steal a kiss frae Jean Broun this morning, just after ye gaed away, and when I kent the mistress saw me. That’s a kind o’ fault your auntie canna forgie—partly, maybe, because naebody tries how she would like it hersel’. At ony rate she brake out ten times angrier than she was last night at you, paid doun my fee on the dresser-head at ance, and ordered me aboot my business. And fack, sir, she wad hae dune the same to Jean if she hadna had the sense to misca’ me weel, and let on to be just as ill pleased as her mistress. So ye see, Maister Jimes, I’m here just as free as yoursel’, and I think ye’ll own I’m no just sic a confoonded fule a folk wad tak’ me for. ” “You have certainly, Robin, 'shown more of the rogue than fool in this business.” “ Ou, no that muckle roguery, neither; gif ye please. Ye see the mistress can easy get anither hand in my place whenever she likes. But ye do think I’m a wee daft like, no to be just a fule, divna ye !” said Robin, stopping short and looking Mr. Duneanson gravely in the face. “What puts that into your head, Robin ? I’m sure I never said so,” replied the student. “ Ou, I just think by the kind o’ way folk speaks to me that I’m considered maybe to want a penny o’ the shilling. But if I had ance my vet—veter—veterinarary learning, I’ll be thocht mair o’ by a’ body. Jean Brown hersel’ may drap makin’ fun o’ me. She’ll Robin me nae mair I’m thinkin’, but ca’ me Mr. Afleck, just the same as she ca’s you Mr. Duncanson.”
CHARTER VI. Edina, Scotia’s darling seat. All hail thy palaces and towers ! , BURKS. Eoot-sore and weary did James Duncanson and Robin Afleck reach Edinburgh late in the evening. It was now the month of May ; the weather pleasant and the days long. The travellers, till fatigue overtook them, enjoyed their walk exceedingly, and experienced that glow of soul which makes the most reserved communicative, and breaks down the conventional barriers which render differences of condition, education, and other adventitious circumstances, obstacles to the free interchange of sentiment between people naturally constituted to understand and sympathise with each other. The student had begun to feel that his companion, in spite of ignorance and want of culture, was not, as he had formerly thought him, a bluntminded, half-witted oddity, but a shrewd, warm-heaned lad, worthy of any man’s confidence. Accordingly, they had come to a thorough understanding, and among other matters, had settled that they should lodge together in more humble apartments than James had formerly occupied, though it was agreed that they should go first to his old quarters, and remain there till they should succeed in finding lodgings more suited to their limited means. It was nigh ten o’clock and almost quite dark when they knocked at the door of Mrs. M’Glunchagain in Nicholson Street. Great was that lady’s astonishment when she saw her old lodger return so soon, without luggage, in such unusual company; his shoes and clothing bearing the dust marks of a long pedestrian journey. The every-day sour expression of her face was almost obliterated by the marks of surprise which took possession of her features as she puzzled herself in vain to account for Mr. Duncanson’s unexpected return in such unpromising-looking circumstances. Stingily and with same appearance of reluctance she admitted that she could accommodate him and his companion. She confessed that his former apartments were unoccupied, but hinted that she expected that the approaching meeting of the General Assembly would enable her to turn them to good account. * ticklish t toiling } betrothed
Mrs. M’Glunchagain was just the sort of person to live by letting furnished lodgings, and making the most of them. She had little sense of delicacy and no regard to other people’s feelings, hut had the knack of keeping a sharp eye on Number One. She knew positively “ how many beans make ten.” But she was a genteel woman, and felt horrified at the vulgar appearance and homely apparel of honest Robin Afleck. Robin, however, took no notice of her dislike, but made himself so perfectly at home in the house that after taking some refreshment with Mr. Duneanson in a private parlour, he stammered into the kitchen there to enjoy the luxury of a smoke of tobacco. In that humble region he felt more comfortable than in nicely furnished rooms, the refinements of which gave him rather annoyance than gratification. In doing this he acted in conformity with Mrs. M’Glunchagain’s secret and hardly concealed opinion of what was proper for him in every respect, except the tobacco smoking ; and even this she permitted without challenge, in consideration of having such a homespun visitor in the place, suitable to his manners and appearance. This movement afforded Mr. Duneanson an opportunity, which weary though he was, he gladly seized, to write to Miss Montgomery. His letter was long and warmly affectionate. He detailed in it, as minutely as he could in the excited state of his feelings, the circumstances which led to his late visit to her father’s house ; and in speaking of the treatment he there met with, he assumed that she had not only not been accessory to it, but must have been a fellow-sufferer with him from the harshness of her father. On the answer he might receive to his letter’, he felt that the continuance of his attachment to Miss Montgommery would depend. Meantime, Robin Afleck, seated at the kitchen fire, was subjected to a searching ordeal of questions and cross-questions from Mrs. M'Glunchagain on the one side, and her maid-of-all-work on the other. Robin, in his simple honesty, was perfectly frank and open on all subjects, except as to one of the motives for coming to Edinborough which related to Dr. Snapperdudgeon. But the stress of the examination turned not on his own affairs, except in as far as they were connected with Mr. Duneanson, concerning whose recent proceedings both mistress and maid manifested the most extreme curiosity. When his final rupture with his aunt was mentioned, they both held up their hands in amazement at his imprudence, and declared that he was a lost young man. As to his project of living by "teaching, Mrs. M'Glunchagain treated it with scorn. She never knew one of them who could afford to live genteelly after coming to that pass. No, no; it was not by teaching, even in the best season of the year, that any young man could pay for the use of her second-best bed-room and parlor, and she was afraid after what she had heard, that Mr. Duncanson must look but for other lodgings. Griselda, the house-maid, seized on a different point of attack. She was by no means satisfied that Mr. Duneanson had given proof of good sense in his romantic attachment to Miss Montgomery. There must be something strange about that young lady, she said, for she never saw Mr. Duneanson, for as long as he was about the House, look as if he knew the difference between one woman and another. Dr. Snapperdudgeon himself, she added, though a man who might be his father, was another kind of person for a woman to servo. One had to have their best looks on when ho was in the house.
“Dr. Snapper—what!” exclaimed Robin, starting to his feet in perturbation.
“ Dr. Snapperdudgeon,” replied Griselda. “ D’ye ken him ! ” “ Ou aye, yes—no ; at least no particularly,” said Robin, in a confused manner that betrayed his uneasiness. He proceeded with some caution to inquire how the Doctor happened to be known there. “It wad be strange,” rejoined Griselda, “ if he werena well kent here, when this is the hoose he puts up in, every time he comes to the General Assembly, and that’s jmt as often as the Assembly bauds its meetins.”
Worse and worse, thought Robin : he, however, said nathing in the kitchen on the subject, but went straight to the parlor and broke in upon Mr. Duneanson just as he was finishing his letter to Miss Montgomery. “ Oh, Maister •Times !” he exclaimed, “ye ha’e fairiy brocht me intil the corbie’s nest. Man, what for didna ye tell me that Dr. Snapperdudgeon stops in this verra hoose over year at the ’sembly time 1 ” “ Upon my word, Robin, I had entirely forgotten that circumstance, for though I have seen the Doctor here, I came but little in contact with him, as he stayed only a few days at a time, and was scarcely ever in the house except at night. ” “ Weel, ye see, I’m in a pretty scrape, for though we should flit the morn he may be here on us afore we get awa’ ; and at ony rate he'll be sure to hear that we’re in the toun, and then there’ll be naething but law and vengeance, black-hole and finin’ without stint or measure.”
“You speak, Robin, like a man with a guilty conscience. 1 thought you were prepared to stand on your innocence.” “ Guilty conscience! innocence ! Fegs, I’ll never tak’ muckle guilt to mysel’ for yon business, though they could pruve’t on me. I’ll ne’er alloo that the tup or me did an ill turn, though the bully-ragging Doctor had been deeper laigered and made ten times clartier than lie was, for I ken how he used you Maister dimes. I heard it a’ and saw the maist of what took place between you, thanks to a hole in your auntie’s winnock-shutters. But, ye see, tho’ I mainteen my innocence to the last, it’ll mak’ nae difference if the Doctor gets me under the harrow teeth o’ the law. He’ll rive me to bits, and jist be vext that it’s no lawfu’ to eat me. So if ye please, we maun be aff frae this hoose by the screigh o’ day. and try to find some tod-hole whaur the Doctor can ne’er get his clauts owre me.” “ You know we have already agreed to seek a cheaper lodging, so we can remove from this as soon as you like to-morrow, only we had better wait till we fix on other quarters.” “Ha, na, Maister .Times; I’m clean against that. We’ll get ither quarters ready eneuch, I doot na ; and as we hae nae bag or baggage wi’ us, there’s naething to gar us bide a minit after we come owre the bed-stock in the mornin’.” With great difficulty Mr. Duncanson managed in some measure to allay tho fears of his rustic companion, and to postpone their departure from Mrs. M'Glunchagain’s till after breakfast next day. At that time, they sallied forth in quest of new lodgings, and the student being bent on cheapness and Robin on obscurity, their objects were in perfect harmony. Robin, though country-bred, was by no means destitute of knowledge of the town, or diffident of his own capabilities for managing business matters. He accordingly, after some inquiries (which they made jointly) had proved fruitless, undertook the search himself, and arranged to meet Mr. Duncanson a few hours afterwards at tv given place, and report progress. This left the student at leisure for a while, and he employed the time in strolling round the brow of the Calton Hill, and reposing on the crest of that fine eminence, to enjoy the magnificent view it commands. While there, he was approached by three gentlemen in black, walking arm-in-arm, discussing some subject in which they all seemed to take the most intense interest. As they drew near, Mr, Duncanson recognised them all as clergymen of the Established Church, and of what was termed the Nonintrusion party. With one of them, the
Rev. Mr. Aspen, he was a little acquainted and to the others—-whom we shall call Messrs. B. and o.—he had been introduced on a former occasion. He was immediately accosted by Mr. Aspen, and was soon in conversation with the whole party. ‘‘You are early returned from the country this season, Mr. Duneanson,” said Mr. Aspen. “I suppose the immense importance of the approaching Asscmby has drawn you back to Edinburgh. Well,” ho proceeded, assuming his conjecture to be correct, “ I give you credit for your zeal. The time has come when every friend of the Church must buckle on his armour, and probationers are specially called upon to take a decided part in the great contest which is now going on.” Mr. Duneanson was admitted into free conversation with the reverend trio, for he was known to have a pretty strong learning to the same side in the great ecclesiastical controversy. He listened with deep attention to their discussions, but seldom put in a word except to ask a question for his own satisfaction, or to answer one when his opinions were appealed to. He heard enough to convince him, had he needed any new x>roof, that the men were warmly in earnest in believing the privileges of Non-intrusion and Spiritual Independence to be essential to the efficiency of the Church, and due to it by right. But he was grieved to discover that their hopes were strongly fixed on having these claims conceded by the Legislature—so strongly indeed that he was afraid they were not prepared to make the sacrifices which, in case of their demands being refused, consistency would call for. They talked no doubt, of abandoning all the advantages of connection with the State, and flinging their endowments to the winds, rather than continue in bondage of the civil courts, and see the Church ruined by Erastianism and unbridled patronage. But they spoke so confidently of compelling Government to listen to their claims, and seemed so earnest for a united demonstration in favour of them for the purpose of influencing men in power, that Mr. Duncanson feared they did not contemplate the possibility of a disappointment. He was confirmed in this apprehension by the manner in which some of the doubts he threw out were met.
When he ventured to hint that he had little hope of any legislative embodiment of the claims of the Church, and lie was afraid that the Tory Government of Sir Robert Peel would even be less favorable to the principle of Non-intrusion, owing to the popular character and tendency of that principle, than the Melbourne Cabinet had been, he was answered by his friend, Mr. Aspen, “ Never fear that Mr. Duneanson. No Conservative Government can afford to disregard the Church of Scotland. We have only to show our strength to secure attention. It is impossible that statesmen (especially such a statesman as Sir Robert Peel) can be indifferent to the consequences of allowing the influence of the Church to be impaired. We, the clergy, are the most efficient of all Conservatives, and that our rulers very well know. It was little wonder that the Whigs betrayed us. They were the promoters of the great political changes which first brought the Church into difficulty by strengthening the hands of Dissenters. They made it imperative on us to move from our old and strong defensive position and adopt the aggresive measure of Church extension and the veto. The Whigs have been the authors of all our calamities, and it is little wonder we found no help in them ; but surely something better is to be expected from the present men. They know that we cannot retreat from our present position with honor, and they can neither wish to see our influence destroyed by our dereliction of principle, nor the Establishment rained by our secession. They will not—cannot —even for their own sakes, leave us only the choice of being ruined in character or in wordly possessions.” “It is quite impossible,” said Mr. B.
“Utterly,” responded Mr. C. “Trust not in princes nor man’s son, In whom there is no stay,” was Mr. Duncanson’s only answer to these united expressions of confidence in the Peel administration.
“ True,” said Mr. Aspen, “we must look higher than to the most exalted of earthly rulers, but we must treat with men according to the power with which they have been entrusted ; and next to a patient waiting upon Providence, I see nothing better we can do than prove to Government and the Legislature that we are too strong in influence, numbers, and unanimity to be trifled with.” ‘ ‘ But what if they should prove obdurate ?” asked James, with a view to sound the resolution of his seniors.
“Why, then,” answered Mr. Aspen, “ our duty will lie plain. We must give up all for the sake of principle. If our forefathers sacrificed life itself to vindicate the great principle of Spiritual Inependence, shall we think it too much for us to renounce temporal comforts in the glorious cause 1 We cannot turn back without incurring ruin in a different and more important sense—ruin of character ; and the ministers of the Church of Scotland are not the men to prefer riches to reputation. ”
“ Well, well,” replied Mr. Duncanson, “I am satisfied since this is the case. I was only afraid that many who are embarked in this cause were too sanguine of a favorable issue for the Church in her controversy with the civil powers, and net prepared to take the proper course should their hopes of legislative interference be ultimately blasted, as I fear they will. ” “ Then you anticipate that the only solution of the difficulty in which we are placed must be our renunciation of the endowments ?” inquired Mr. Aspen. “I do,”answered Mr. Duncanson. [to be continued.]
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 136, 7 August 1880
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