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CHAPTER XXXI — continued.

‘ls it your duty as a Christain minister to be any one’s enemy ?’

‘ Pooh! don’t bother me with such cant. I understand it, man. I know its value to a scruple. Duty as a Christain minister ! Enemy ! Yes; it is the duty of a Christain minister, even in the fanatical sense of the term, to be the enemy of all hypocrisy. There you have it! You see, young man, I’m not to be taken in with claptrap. I can make myself felt either as friend or foe, and depend on it, I’m not to be trifled with. I have suffered too much from the sanctimonious malice of the party you have attached yourself to to stick at trifles in opposing them; and if you will be a spoke in such wheel, take care I don’t give you a twist—that’s all? ‘ Doctor, I have suffered your insolence too long; but I can bear it no longer. For your threats, I regard them as little as I do your offers of frienship and protection; so, if you please, relieve me immediately of your presence, and walk down stairs? ‘ Do you presume to speak to me, sir ? Is this your gratitude for my disinterested inclination to befriend you ? Well, you shall repent of this conduct; depend upon it, you shall. If you think you can insult me— 7ne ! —with impunity, you will find yourself mistaken, young gentleman. I will make an example of you to all other presuming puppies who forget the respect due to their seniors and superiors. I will blast your character even among those of j 7 our own stamp. I will shut the doors on all sides of the Church against you. Even the Nons will have none of you. I will make you too dirty to be of use to them. It will be of no consequence to you whether the Establishment hold together or not, for you shall never have a minister’s place in it. No ! You must sneak through life in a seedy coat as an obscure pedagogue. I shall never permit you even to get a parish school. And let me know, ten years hence, if you continue to despise me as an enemy, you smooth-faced, cold-blooded, conceited simpleton ?’ The ferocious divine turned before he reached the door, and said in a tone less violent but more malicious— ‘ It will not be .worth your while to trouble a certain family at Burncrook any longer. You know how unwelcome you are there already, and I shall take care to spoil your chance of imposing on Miss Montgomery, or any other respectable young woman. It’s my duty, sir —my duty as a Christian ministct. Aha, ha ! I have you there. You will feel that, I daresay.’

The servant girl of the house had overheard enough of what the Doctor said to raise her indignation. She was washing the stair at the time, or perhaps rather making that an excuse for remaining where she . could listen to the conversation above reported; and like a true woman, so incensed was she against Dr. Snapperdudgeon for the language he held to the youthful in-; valid, that she determined he should not get away unpunished. Accordingly, when she heard him about to depart, : 6he placed her washing pail at an obscure turn of the stair, in a manner the most accidental-looking in the world. And her kindly intentions were not altogether frustrated, for the Doctor bolted out with great haste, and had not descended many steps till he put one of his feet into the pail, and, losing his balance, was precipitated head foremost to the bottom of the stair. The girl called loudly to him to take care, but took care herself not to call till she saw her stratagem had taken effect. The Doctor got up, shook himself, and swore terribly—yes, he actually swore, but perhaps only in some authorised form of words. In reply to his imprecations, the girl waggishly said—“ If I say naething, I’m shure ye may baud your tongue, for it was yoursel’ and no the pail that was in the fau’t. But it’s a gude stout pail, and there’s nae harm dune.” Seeing he could make nothing of such an antagonist, the Doctor limped off, muttering curses not loud but deep, and with no greater damage than a sprained ankle.

When the student was left alone, he experienced a revulsion of feeling that almost unmanned him. The fortitude with which he had sustained the irritating remarks of his numerous visitors gave way to morbid reflections on the injurious light in which his character was placed by the errors and exaggerations of popular rumor. The more he thought on the subject, the more unfortunate did his position appear, and the more painfully agitated did his mind become, till he was almost in a state of frenzy. His mind throbbed and burned, the skin of his forehead felt stretched almost-to bursting; his throat tightened, and his whole nervous system was spasmodically excited. Giddiness, ringing in his ears, and dimness of sight succeeded, and he only managed to alarm the servant by calling for a glass of water, before he swooned away. On his return to consciousness, the first sight that met his eyes was the best of his few real friends, honest Stimperton of Stiffriggs, bending over him with a face in which the glow of robust health, high animal spirits and good humor, were shaded by an expression of deep concern. ‘ Eh, whow ! Jimes, my man,’ exclaimed the warm-hearted farmer, ‘what is this that’s come owreye now?’ It was some time before Mr. Duncanson could make any reply; meanwhile his rustic friend eloquently expressed his sympathy, by repeating the question in the tenderest tones he could articulate, and ever and anew squeezing his feverish hand. A long conversation ensued, in which the student explained all the circumstances which had placed him in such a painful situation, and insisted that his friend would take back the money he had so generously lent him. Stiffriggs looked surprised at first at this proposal, and then became seriously offended. ‘ Tak back the siller, did ye say ? ’ he exclaimed ; ‘ I’ll just as soon tak’ aff your head. Od, I reckon ye think that because ■ I hae nae schule learning to speak o’, I have neither common sense nor common feeling ; but ye are mista’en. Tak back the siller! I’ll finger neither plack nor bawbee o’t till I see you

through the College, and fit eneuch to pay me. And don’t think it is to tether you ae way or anither. Ye may grow an Evangelical, or a Moderate, a Eire-School-Hat and White-Sark Minister o’ the Prelatic English Kirk; or a Papist, an Arian, an Arminian, a Unitarian, or a Grammarian for ought 1 care—at least for ought I care about the siller. I’m dull eneuch in the head, but I’m no sic a dooms idiot as no to ken that ye maun hae your free wull in the matter, or you canna be a faithfu’ minister. I houp ye havena seen ony reason to change your side ; but if ye have, sorr be in me if ever I say ill did ye; for there’s ae thing I ken ye’ll never be, and that is an unconscionable scooneral like Doctor Snapperdudgeon —a hireling for the sake of the hire, and no for the wark’s sake —a doundrught to the Kirk—a reproach to religion. Neither will ye scunge after the gentry like M’Qurkie, and keep your creed in your hand ready to swap it for ony ither that may happen to be mair profitable. ' r his I ken ye’ll never do, nor ack ony way but conscientiously. And trowth, sir, it’s no easy doing that, as the worl’ gangs now-a-days. There, in my case, I find it’s hardly possible to be an honest man and keep my ain in bargain making. Nae farrer gane than mornin’, sin, I came intil the market, I have sinned mysel’ in the way o’ telling lees mair than ance or twice.’ ! Nonsense ! Mr. Stimperton ; it’s not possible.’ ‘Ay, but it’s owre true though. Ye see the case was this—l had a beast to sell that I wanted twal pound ten for at least; but I kent brawly that if I sought nae mair I wad get naething like that price. So to gi’e mysel’ room to come doun a bit, I askit fifteen pound as the lowest fardin I could . tak’; and just as I expeckit, but after lees eneuch on baith sides, a customer me within a least trifle o’ the twal pound ten and I took him at his word. And the like o’ this is no chance thing, for it is dune every day o’ the year by every man that has to buy and sell. Odd, I think I could be honest to the death in ony matter touching my creed. I wad swing at the grass market frae the wuddie, as Guthrie and Renwick did, rather than wrang my conscience by denyin’ my belief or playin’ fause to the glide Kirk o’ Scotland; but I’m free to own I canna manage to buy or sell a horse or cow withoot tellin’ lees as fast as my neebors. If our ministers were worth their lugs, they would instruck us hoo to avoid this besettin’ sin; and not only teach us hoo to stick by the yea, yea, and the nay, nay, in a’ kinds o’ dealin’s, but set us the example. But they are just like oursel’s whanever they have a bargain to mak’ or a shillin’ to catch. I dinna ken ane o’ them to mend anither in the matter o’ truth speaking, or sterling honesty, except Mr. Calmsough; and he, puir man, is sae simple in a’ his dealin’s that it’s a mercy he’s no in business, for a wean o’ sax year old could impose on him. But bless me, Jimes ! what ails you ? Are ye in a dwam again ? ’

CHAPTER XXXII. Hark I’ll tell ye o’ a plot, Though dinna ye be speaking o’t; I’ll nail the self-conceited sot As dead’s a herring ! DEATH AND DR. HORNBOOK.

- The student had indeed fainted again, for during the rambling discourse of Mr. Stimperton his mind had insensibly reverted to his wounds with a poignancy of feeling too intense for his enfeebled state of health. Stiffriggs, though not the most impressionable of mortals, became seriously alarmed; medical advice was instantly sent for, and the usual restoratives were successfully administered. The surgeon, considering the nervons irritation of his patient, insisted strongly on his removal without delay into the quiet of the country, and had a warm seconder in honest Ringan, who would fain have carried Mr. Duncanson off with him at once. ‘Ye maun jist come awa’ wi’ me, J imes, this vera afternoon,’ he said ; “ for there’s a coach to start frae Prince’s street within an hour o’ this that’ll tak’ ye to my vera door, and ye’ll mend at Stiffrigg Mains, if ye’ll mend ava.’

‘ Many thanks to you, Mr. Stimperton,’ replied the, student, ‘ but for the present I must decline your kind invitation.’

‘ Ay, what for maun ye do that ?’

‘ I have already promised to visit Mr. Bacon as soon as I can stir abroad, and I think I shall set out for Auchterbardie to-morrow morning.’ ‘ How far is Auchterbardie away ?’

‘ Indeed that’s more than I can tell; but I understand I can get there in a day. Most of the way is by sea, and the steamers go very rapidly.’ ‘ Aweel then, Mr. Jimes, if ye ha’e nae objections, I’ll bear yc company, and see ye safe at the place ; for I’m no clear if it wad be a’thegither safe to let you awa’ sic a distance by yoursel’.’ ‘ I should be extremely glad to have your company, if you could conveniently go so far with so little warning 3 but I feel quite well enough to go alone, and I cannot think of your being at so much trouble on my account.’

“ Trouble! the fient a trouble it’ll be, ’specially if the steamboat keep weel in by the side. The sea’s the only thing that gies me the least concern, for I never crossed it at a broader place than between Leith and Kinghorn, and trowth I just had plenty o’t. It’s a camstrary thing the sea—waur than ony ill-broken cowt that e’er I had to fecht wi’ by a hantle. Still an’ on, I’ll risk it the morn wi’ ye, man, unless ye say positively ye dinna want my company.’ Mr. Duncanson felt that it would be ungracious to remonstrate further against the generous offer of his friend. The necessary arrangements for the journey were soon made, and next morning saw Stiffriggs and the student duly embark for the north. (To be continued—commenced on yuly sb. )

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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 167, 15 October 1880

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THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 167, 15 October 1880

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