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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 137, 10 August 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
'■ THE DISRUPTION: A TALE OF TRYING TIMES. CHAPTER Vl— continued. “ I think, then,” rejoined Mr. Aspen, t you labor under a great mistake. All ve have to do is to make it appear that ve are prepared for that extremity, and ve shall never need to resort to it. I .rant you that if but a few, perhaps inly the prominent leaders in our cause, ivere to hold themselves ready to depart Tom the Establishment in the event of jur claims being refused, they might be allowed to go without anything being conceded to detain them. But let all who igree with them in principle take up the name firm resolution to stand or fall by the Independence of the Church, and declare their intention openly and boldly, and, depend on it, our difficulties will be removed without any need to give up a Single chalder of meal or a single shilling of stipend.” “ There cannot be a doubt of it”— “Nothing can be more certain,” were the simultaneous remarks of Messrs. B. and C. “ The greatest obstacle to our success,” continued Mr. Aspen, who was chief spokesman—“ the greatest obstacle to our success is to be found in opposition to the voluntary Dissenters, and the next in magnitude is the fear which many young men who are rising to the ministry, such as you Mr. Duncanson, entertain that the sacrifice of temporalities may be the unavoidable result of being pledged to the principles for which we contend. But that fear is groundless, at least it would be so were there sufficient courage and unanimity among us. The only danger of any needing to withdraw from the Establishment, if such danger arise at all, will be owing to the fewness of those showing determination to leave it should certain circumstances occur. ” “Butyou don’t mean,” said Mr. Duncanson, “that those who may be secretly unwilling to take that step, in any circumstances, should make a demonstration as if they were prepared for it, for the purpose of producing an impression on the Government ? ” “ Oh, not at all,” replied Mr. Aspen. “Far be it from me to recommend any such course. Only I say the more who pledge themselves to sacrifice everything for principle, the less chance will there be that any sacrifice will be necessary ; and I hold it to be of the utmost importance that in the ensuing Assembly there should be no wavering in our ranks, for on the front we show will greatly depend the issue of the struggle.” James Duncanson only sighed when he saw so much stress laid on tactics of this nature in a contest which he deemed too sacred for strategy. He said nothing further in reply ; but after receiving an invitation from Mr. Aspen to dine with him on an early day, he took leave of him and his reverend friends, to keep his appointment with Robin Afleck. Exactly at the time agreed on, he found Robin at the corner of the Register Office, resisting sturdily the pushing and shouldering of the passing crowd at that busy thoroughfare, and looking with a sharp eye in all directions for his approach. His first words on meeting were —“ Fegs, maister Jimes, ye did weel to leave me to seek for a ludging—we’ve fa’n on our feet at last. ” “ Ay, Robin, have you seen any place that’ll fit us 1 ” “ ’Deed have I sir. I’ve seen a place that’ll fit us to a vera hair. A snug bit room wi’ geran’ums in the window, and twa peacock’s feathers abune the brace.” “ But what neighborhood is it in ! ” “ On, it’s in a heartsonie place on the ootside o’ the toun, next door to a smiddy, and the wife keeps cocks and hens, and a sow and a mangle. ” “ I am afraid, Robin, it will never do then. By your description it must be in a very noisy bustling place, where it would be impossible to study.” “ Noo, Maister Jimes, ye maunna say that, for I’ve as gude as bargained wi’ the wife already. And a grand bargain I’ve made. We’re just to pay three shillings a week, but I’m to sort the wife’s garden, and ye’re to learn a bit bubbly wean o’ hers to read.” CHAPTER VII. There’s kauld kail in Aberdeen, And custocks in Strathbogie. POPULAR RHYME. The first time that Mr. Duncanson called at his old lodgings to enquire if anything had been left there for him, ho found his letter to Miss Montgomery returned unopened. It was enclosed in a cover, addressed in a hand which he knew was not hers, but supposed to be that of her father. His heart sank within him when he received this new proof that an insuperable bar was placed between him and the object of his moat ardent affections ; but he consoled himself with the conviction that Agnes was true to him, and that his letter had never reached her hand. Resolving these thoughts in his mind, he began to feel extremely anxious to open up some channel of communication with her on which he could depend, so as to ascertain her real situation and the true state of her feelings. On this important subject he consulted his trusty friend, Robin Afleck. When he had stated the cause of his uneasiness and the wish he had formed, Robin, after some preliminary humming, hawing, and head-scratching, said—“ The fack is, Maister Jimes, I just see ae way o’ hearing ought about Miss Migummery or gettin’ ony word sent till her, and that’s to get Jean Broun to be messenger; for auld Migummery may stand between you and the ycung leddy till the morn-come-never if ye send word to her through the post.” It was accordingly arranged that Robin should write to his own sweetheart, and request her, if possible, to see Mis,s Montgomery and put into her hands a letter from Mr. Duncanson. Robin immediately set about carrying the project into effect, and, after a fashion of his his own penned the following lines : “ erabro 02th may 18402
“ dear Jeenie, —this Comes for to lett you no i Have gott save to embro And that mister dimes cam with Me we have gott fine chep ludgings for Us both in The self and same plais but i had a very narrow escaip from Dr. Snapperdudgeon the Ist night after wee came in the Very house hee fudges in at the Sembly time dimes and mee are going On with owre studdys already like winkie and Would shoon be fitt for any thing for hee teatches me too Hours a day and i do a heap of things Both for him and mee which he would not Like to do for himself But i am very sorrow to say hee is getting himsilf Yext desperately About miss Migummerie more nor ever i whs about you Jeen and that was not littel before hee came heer hee tryd to see her but her father Would not lett him into the House and a letter he rote to her from embro was sent Back with the seel not Broken now Jeen ye see i want you for to goe And try for to sea miss Migummery and give Her the letter that is with this and tell her that mister dimes kalled at her house but was tolld he could not see her if She is not at burncrook it is possible she May be away at some other place and you must try to fynd for i will gett no good of my studdys till mister Junes gets sum Word from her When i fell in love with you Jeen i had an Awful stomak for meat and the more i was vext with You i just ate the More as ye may have mind of Noticing yourself but mister dimes has gone clean out of his meat And if he sleeps ony it is but in blinks of half
n hour at a time You may tell Miss ligummerie this if she be vexing herelff about him But if shee is giving herelff no Consern tell her knothing but hat she is a crewal littel gipsey 111 e Yourelff i mean Jean like what you were ranee—and nott very long agoe my last ias never cum yet i have bailed every Day ,t the carriers kwarters but have goott no irard of it i wish you would sea whatt is he reason oft' this for i am beginning to y eed a change of klothos i hop you have lot forgotton your promise to mend my rig fc fur sinkings Before the last was Sent .way for though i can Darn myself you me it would hardly Doo for me to be een darning after beginning to be a tewdent. i hop two you Would also nind the breeks though you noe you dways put your hand on my mouth When began to Speak about them i have nott Keen forgettin you since i came hear i have seen looking a heap at the furnitur shopps md have seen many things thatt would mswer us fine Wane of them is a nice iradel i have priced it more than wunce but it is two dear i am sure Jeen it would make your teeth waiter this leeves mister jimes and me quite well hopping it will find you in the same and that you will mind all i have said & send good news about my kist and miss migumraery i remain yours til death “ Robeet Afleck ” About a week after the despatch of this letter, Robin received the following reply : “ Whinnyside 03th May 81402 “ deer Robin, —i hav Dun al i couldeto gett seaing miss Migummerie but i Hav nott bean abble she is Never to be seen now cep at the curch and then her father is always with her soe that no body Can get speeking to Her by herselff their servant is a skinnie old crab just the Kind off wife you should gett rob bin and she will neither speek About the young leddy Nor let anie wan see her but i Will not be bait yet for i have a plan that i am going to tri which i think will doo i cannot tell you about it in rite for it iz nott eezy for me to rite with penns i need to mend with the gully nyffe and i have a grate dail to say You May tell mr jimes that if he Has lost his lass his antie has gotten A lad wha doo ye think is to be Mr Duncansons unkle—just Mr mak wurkie now Dont lach robbin for its true that the mistress is Kealing aboot it like a klokin hen if ye saw hoo she dresses herselff it would make you split And wee Mr mak wurkie is just a pawtron of a coorter if ye could coort like him ye might cum on yet for al your faults Your kist was sent Away with the karrier a week agoe i mended all your things but the breeks but I was not going for to be affronted With them the taylior gott them to mend and when he brot them bak i took them from him With the tangs to learn you for your impidence and mind robbin this is no fun iam very angry at you for what you rote about the Cradel if i was near your chafts with a dish clout i would maybe Mak them as red as ye made mine With your nonsense if you cannot rite dissent letters you must not rite to me againe when i Manage to see miss Migummerie you may xpec another letter from yours “ Jean Beown ” The contents of this grotesque epistle greatly surprised Mr. Duncanson and his fellow-lodger. The former, after a little consideration, concluded that the report regarding his aunt and Mr. M’Quirkie must be groundless, or founded on circumstances which, if rightly understood, would bear a very different construction. He thought it probable enough that his old acquaintance might be inclined to follow' up the advantage which he conceived himself to have gained at Sir John Baldwun’s table, and, with this view, might have been making new visits to the neighbourhood, and among other places to Whinnyside, in the hope of obtaining further notice from the Baronet; but that he could be courting Mrs. Renshaw, except for her influence and hospitality, he could not believe. Moreover, he thought it probable that the whole story was a fiction created by the fancy of the fun-loving Jean Brown. Not so, however, thought Robin Afleck. “ I’ll wager my head against a cabbage stock,” said he, “there’s nae fun in the story. Man, it’s bee-like. Your auntie is no past the time o’ day yet for jumping at a man if she just has the offer. There’s nae fules like auld fules, and tak’ ye my word for’t, maister Jimes, neither your lass nor mine cares half as muckle aboot mautrimony as your auntie. And, then, yon pawky, greedy-looking wee chiel, Makwurkie —fegs, he’s just ane o’ the kind that wad seek sic a weal-gathered auld hen ; ’specially noo, when he kens that ye’re out o' favour, and that a’ she has in the hugger may be his ain,, if he just tak’ her alang wi’t. It’s my opinion, Maister Jimes, ye may coont on havin’ Mr. Makwurkie for an uncle just as sure as Mrs. Renshaw’s your auntie.” Mr. Duncanson did not incline to dispute the point ; for his mind was far more deeply engrossed with anxiety regarding Miss Montgomery. It appeared plainly from Jean Brown’s letter that she was subjected to close surveillance ; and it was too probable she was the victim of severel domestic tyranny. At all events her situation was one of such restraint as might crush her gentle spirit and blight her happiness. These reflections made him very miserable ; for he now had little doubt of the steadfastness of her attachment to him, or of the fact that she was suffering deeply on that account. With feelings much depressed, and half remorseful, he proceeded to the house of his friend, the Rev. Mr. Aspen, where he had been invited to dine.
It was the day immediately after the breaking up of the Assembly—that memorable Assembly of which patronage was voted a nuisance, and the claim of the Church to Spiritual Independance was asserted by a large majority. The company at dinner consisted only of the minister’s own family, and the two clergymen whom Mr. Duncanson met on the Calton Hill with Mr. Aspen, as formerly described. These gentlemen were now more serious looking and excited than before. Previous to entering the diningroom, they had some animated conversation in an adjoining apartment, from ■ft Inch it was evident they all felt deeply sensible that a momentous crisis in their interests, corporate and personal, had arrived. The lady of the house, a staidlooking, thoughtful woman, seemingly about middle life, received them al graciously on arrival, but took little share in the conversation which ensued. She was, however vigilantly attentive to all that was said. An appearance of mystery hung about the reverend host himself. He spoke with an air of abstraction, and like a man charged with some important purpose, which he felt at a loss how either to conceal or disclose.
When the company had entered the dining-room and taken their places at table, Mr. Duncanson was called on to ask a blessing, which he did with due solemnity. No sooner had he opened his eyes than he saw that something strange was about to take place. Mrs. Aspen, at the same moment fixed a scrutinizing look, not unmixed with fear, on the countenance of her husband, who was beginning to take a survey of the viands provided for the repast. The removal of the dish-covers disclosed to him the astounding fact that a sheep’s-head and trotters at one end of the table, and a tureen of tripe at the other, with an ashlet of mashed potatoes between, composed the entire display. “ What kind of a dinner is this ? ” exclaimed Mr. Aspen, with a voice and look of astonishment. “An experimental dinner, my dear,” answered his wife, with a smile in her eyes and a quiver on her lips.
“A what, Rachel'?” rejoined Mr. k.spen ; “ you don’t mean to say that ,his is the whole dinner ? ” “ It is,” replied Mrs. Aspen, “ the first md only course I have provided for dialer to-day. We have the prospect of beng put to our shifts very soon, you know, md I thought it might bo worth while to nake a trial of such humble fare just row, to see how we could relish it. I old you, my dear, it was just an experinental dinner. Mr. Aspen looked not daggers but reproaches at his lady as she spoke, but he was restrained by prudential considera:ions from giving expression in words to die vehemence of his feelings. He merely said, in a sulky manner, as he stuck his knife and fork into the sheep’s head, “ I think, my .dear, you might have reserved the experiment for another day and had something comfortable, when you knew our friends here were to be with us.” The guests felt |uneasy, and tried to laugh off their embarrassment, but it would not do. They commenced to eat with the best grace they could, but seemed not to relish the homely feast. Mr. Aspen was less successful in carving the sheep’s head than he expected, for, after digging and hacking at it for a while he found it to consist of little else than bones, and his ill-humor increased with his disappointment. At length, flinging the knife and fork from him pettishly, he darted a look of anger at his lady, such as she had never seen him assume before, and said, “Positively, Rachael, this is too bad for a joke. I hope you will not try such experiments again, at least when we have company. You need not bo so very much afraid of being put to shifts. Keep your mind easy about my stipend. It is not thrown to the winds yet and perhaps may not be in a hurry. At any rate, you ought to be content with the opportunities you have of giving your opinion, in the curtain lectures you bestow on me, without demonstrating in such a style as this. I think I have reason to he much displeased indeed.” Saying this, Mr. Aspen got up from the table and strutted through the room in a towering passion, leaving his guests to make the best they could of the tripe and trotters, which they unanimously declared to be very good ; but there was more civility than heartiness in the commendation. [to be CONTINUED.]
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 137, 10 August 1880
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