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CHAPTER XXXVIII. — continued. Push bauldly on and win the day— Ramsay.

Stiffriggs luckily made his appearance in time to relieve Robin Afleck from his perilous situation ; for, at sight of the honest farmer, Doctor Snapperdudgeon, for reasons which the reader will be at no loss to guess, silently and sulkily drew off and vanished from the scene; and the Rev. Mr. Aspen only remained to have a few words in private with Mr. Bacon.

‘ Now, Mr. Stimperton,’ said Robin, as soon as he had collected his mind sufficienty to speak, ‘ye see what a pretty job we’ve made o’ our meetin’, Pegs, things couldna ha’e happent better if that auld thief, Dr. Snapperdudgeon hadna come across us. But it’s nae matter, ye did as weel as the tup, and cam’ just in the nick o’ time. The Laird has shurely gotten the daft conceit shaken fairly oot o’ him at last.’

And Mr. Bacon had in truth got a salutary lesson, though he felt it hard to swallow. When he saw the ludicrous end of his efforts ‘to save the Church,’ he bolted himself into the room where he had awaited the assembling of the meeting, and gave way to a fit of disappointment and anger. He vented his vexation in hot tears —yes, he wept like a spoiled child—and plucked passionately at his long tangled whiskers. ‘ I have been befooled, betrayed, and insulted,’ he exclaimed to himself. ‘ The infatuated idiots ! they have been jealous of me as a layman. Because I happen not to be of the cloth, they have spurned my aid. Well, let them take the consequences ! Let them find who else will do for them what I was prepared to do. I gave them a last chance, and it was the last —the very last.’ His soliloquy was interrupted by the request of the Rev. Mr. Aspen to be admitted to a private audience. When he entered, Mr. Bacon demanded of him sternly what he wanted. ‘ I came ■ here, sir,’ said Mr. Aspen, ‘by your invitation, and it remains with you to explain your pleasure.’ ‘ Oh, my purpose was to do the Church a service, by assembling a numerous meeting of the clergy and propounding to them my views. But see how I have been treated ! You are a most ungrateful pack, and richly deserve the calamities that have come upon you. There has been a conspiracy among you to insult me and thwart my intentions.’ ‘ I at least, sir,’ replied Mr. Aspen, ‘ am not chargeable with such conduct towards you.’ * You are all alike. You are a bad set, the whole of you.’ ‘ Why, if you have been thawrted in your intentions, I have no share in the blame. I have complied with your request in coming here; and if other? had done the same you would have no reason to complain.’ ‘ Well, well, that may be true enough, but I wish to have no more to do with any of your fraternity. From this day forth, I renounce all interest in the affairs of the pestilent body you belong to.’

Mr. Aspen attempted to smooth down the wrath of the baffled projector, but it would not do. He insinuated softly that he was not to be identified with any particular Church at the time, as recent events had shaken his old attachments and thrown him into a state of suspense. But this explanation had no effect. Mr. Bacon was too much exasperated by his disappointment to listen with patience to anything relating to the subject. His crafty selfseeking visitor was therefore obliged to depart without having had any opportunity of currying favor or edging in a single word regarding his patronage. A grave consultation now took place between Stiffriggs and Factor Afleck as to the best means of soothing the Laird’s irritable feelings, and confirming him in the rational tastes he had begun to acquire before the crisis of the Church affairs had sent his wits a wool-gathering. Robin proposed a visit to Stiffrigg Mains as likely to produce the best effects. ‘lt wad put Mr. Bacon fairly richt again,’ said he, ‘ if ye wad just be sae gude as inveet him home wi’ you for two or three days to see your way o’ farmin'. And fegs ! if ye happen to inveet me alang wi’ him, I’m no shure if I wad refuse.’

Stiffriggs took the hint with characteristic frankness and good_ nature. The invitation was cordially given and accepted, and the following Monday was fixed for the journey; for Ringan did not choose to leave Edinburgh till he had witnessed the first proceedings of the Free Church Assembly.

In preparing for the journey and speculating on,the pleasure it would afford him, Mr. Bacon soon forgot his disappointed ambition, and was again rational and cheerful. His fancy for Miss Stimperton revived with new vigour, and he set himself most assiduously to render himself as agreeable in her eyes as possible. His outer man underwent an entire. renovation, by the joint efforts of the hair-dresser, the tailor, and the bootmaker; and Factor Afleck was not slack in following his example. Robin was determined that both Mr. Bacon and himself should show off to advantage, and that much more should be made of the visit to Stiffrigg Mains than a mere inspection of the mode of tillage practised there. The following letter, which he wrote to Jean Brown, will explain his views. It must be explained that Robin had made considerable improvement in spelling and cyphering during the interval not recorded m this history. : ‘Edinburgh, 20th May, 1843. * Dear Jean —Here am I aga : n within twenty miles of you as the craw flys, and just about ready to make the distance less than arms length. This disruption business drave Mr. Baccn nearly as far gleed as ever, and nothing would hinder him from coming here to save the Kirk. By good luck he wish t to have me with him, and I expeck to make the journey good both for himself and me, and may be some folk for ye that I could name. Mr. Bacon has gotten himself vext and affronted _ so much with his magot about the Kirk, that I think he will never try ought of the kind again, at least as lang as he has me for his factor; but to make shure wark shurer, I have gotten Ringan Stimperton to bid him out on a

visit to Stiffrigg Mains. It may do him good to see the way the grund is managed there, but a sight of Saft Shusie has a chance of doing him more good than ought else. It’s my opinion, Jean, if they would just match o’t at once, it would be the very saving of Mr. Bacon, and a very good bargain for Shusie. And I expeck nothing less to be the upshot of bringing them thegether again. At ony rate I count it no small matter to get him to Stiffrigg Mains, for. forbye this chance it will give me an opportunity of making a race to Whinnyside and having a crack with somebody. The prospect of the jaunt had raised Mr, Bacon’s spirit, and made him brush up so much that you would hardly ken him now. The only daft thing I see about him is that he has begun to write metre; but as it seems to be Shusie, I think it’s no a bad sign after all. Here is one of his blethers— Fair lady, now ’tis summer tide, The land is all one bed of flowers ; In giddy rings the swallows glide, And songbirds warble in the bowers ; The western winds stir scented waves,. And fragant blossoms, red and white ; The rivers flow, the ocean heaves, Like joyous things, in dazzling light; No speck is on the azure sky, But trilling lark, or golden cloud ; The laden bee goes humming by, And children in the meadows crowd. ’Tis holiday with all save me, My heart alone in shadow lies ; I pine and languish far from thee -• My summer beams but from thine eyes. Now, Jean, if Mr. Bacon was not in a sense, daft, he would not write such nonsense about bum-bees and scented leaves and fragrant blossoms. It’s counted a great brag to raise metre ; but 1 think it’s no brag ava, unless it be sense forbye. But maybe you think I couldna do onything o’ the kind myself, for I keen ye never thought I had much in my head—except, maybe, a nievfu’ or twa o’ gey coorse common sense. So, just to let you see that you are mistaken, here’s a sang I’ve made on you, worth a dozen o’ Mr. Bacon’s havers :■ —

Now Whusunday is come, and Whusunday is gane, And the busy flitting day is in view ; But flitt wha like, and sit wha like, I’ll flitt, Jean Brown, to you. The tittling it follows the laigh-fleein’ gowk, An’ the calf it trots after the cow ; It’s the time o’ year o’ chasin’, an’ nane will I chase But you, Jean Brown, but you. The lang springin’ corn it is saft and green ; An’ weel may ye say, for it’s true, I’m saft and green mysel’, for I green For you, Jean Brown, for you. O 1 bonny is the peony, an’ bonny is the rose Hingin’ wat wi’ the blabs o’ dew ; But the bonniest flower in the worl’ that grows, Is you, Jean Brown, is you. If Mr. Bacon ever raises the like of that ye may ca’ me Cuddy. Now, Jean, ye’re no to be feart orblate when ye see me, for I havena grown the least proud. Ye’ll ken but little difference of me, except that I ha’e grown more genteeler, and can knop English when I like as correckly as the Laird or Mr. Duncanson. Bye-the-by, when I mind to speak of James, I may tell you he is sure of getting Miss Montgomery now ; for he has made up matters with her father, and is as far in his favor as he was out before. The old man has been at death’s door since he came intill the town, as ye would hear when Agnes and her sisters were sent for; but he is getting better, and I understand is to leave the town with his family on Monday. Mr. James, and Mr. and Mrs. Calmsough are to go with them to see the auld roan safely at Burncrook ; and your Mistress, and me, and Stiffriggs, and Mr. Bacon are to take the road at the same time. Your mistress has every chance,to stop at Stiffrigg Mains in the byegaun; and if she does I’ll slip away by myself to Whinnyside to see You, Jean Brown — just you. It’s no easy to say what will come of all this coming and and ganging, but there is one thing, Jean, maun come out o’t afore lang, or you and me will cast oot, and that is But I’ll tell you when we meet, and aforehind it will be the precentor’s business to tell everybody in the parish. ‘I am, dear Jean,

‘ The same as ever. And to alter never. Till my latest quiver, Yours truly,

Robert Afleck.’ (To be continued—commenced on July 56.)

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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 181, 1 November 1880

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THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 181, 1 November 1880

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