Reuben and Rachel, though as fond as doves,
Were yet discreet and cautious in their loves,
Nor would attend to Cupid’s wild commands,
Till cool reflection bade them join their hands;
When both were poor, they thought it argued ill
Of hasty love to make them poorer still.
Crabbe’s Parish Register.
While widow Butler and widower Deans struggled with poverty, and the hard and sterile soil of “those parts and portions” of the lands of Dumbiedikes which it was their lot to occupy, it became gradually apparent that Deans was to gain the strife, and his ally in the conflict was to lose it. The former was a Man, and not much past the prime of life — Mrs. Butler a woman, and declined into the vale of years, This, indeed, ought in time to have been balanced by the circumstance, that Reuben was growing up to assist his grandmothers labours, and that Jeanie Deans, as a girl, could be only supposed to add to her father’s burdens. But Douce Davie Deans know better things, and so schooled and trained the young minion, as he called her, that from the time she could walk, upwards, she was daily employed in some task or other, suitable to her age and capacity; a circumstance which, added to her father’s daily instructions and lectures, tended to give her mind, even when a child, a grave, serious, firm, and reflecting cast. An uncommonly strong and healthy temperament, free from all nervous affection and every other irregularity, which, attacking the body in its more noble functions, so often influences the mind, tended greatly to establish this fortitude, simplicity, and decision of character.
On the other hand, Reuben was weak in constitution, and, though not timid in temper might be safely pronounced anxious, doubtful, and apprehensive. He partook of the temperament of his mother, who had died of a consumption in early age. He was a pale, thin, feeble, sickly boy, and somewhat lame, from an accident in early youth. He was, besides, the child of a doting grandmother, whose too solicitous attention to him soon taught him a sort of diffidence in himself, with a disposition to overrate his own importance, which is one of the very worst consequences that children deduce from over-indulgence.
Still, however, the two children clung to each other’s society, not more from habit than from taste. They herded together the handful of sheep, with the two or three cows, which their parents turned out rather to seek food than actually to feed upon the unenclosed common of Dumbiedikes. It was there that the two urchins might be seen seated beneath a blooming bush of whin, their little faces laid close together under the shadow of the same plaid drawn over both their heads, while the landscape around was embrowned by an overshadowing cloud, big with the shower which had driven the children to shelter. On other occasions they went together to school, the boy receiving that encouragement and example from his companion, in crossing the little brooks which intersected their path, and encountering cattle, dogs, and other perils, upon their journey, which the male sex in such cases usually consider it as their prerogative to extend to the weaker. But when, seated on the benches of the school-house, they began to con their lessons together, Reuben, who was as much superior to Jeanie Deans in acuteness of intellect, as inferior to her in firmness of constitution, and in that insensibility to fatigue and danger which depends on the conformation of the nerves, was able fully to requite the kindness and countenance with which, in other circumstances, she used to regard him. He was decidedly the best scholar at the little parish school; and so gentle was his temper and disposition, that he was rather admired than envied by the little mob who occupied the noisy mansion, although he was the declared favourite of the master. Several girls, in particular (for in Scotland they are taught with the boys), longed to be kind to and comfort the sickly lad, who was so much cleverer than his companions. The character of Reuben Butler was so calculated as to offer scope both for their sympathy and their admiration, the feelings, perhaps, through which the female sex (the more deserving part of them at least) is more easily attached.
But Reuben, naturally reserved and distant, improved none of these advantages; and only became more attached to Jeanie Deans, as the enthusiastic approbation of his master assured him of fair prospects in future life, and awakened his ambition. In the meantime, every advance that Reuben made in learning (and, considering his opportunities, they were uncommonly great) rendered him less capable of attending to the domestic duties of his grandmother’s farm. While studying the pons asinorum in Euclid, he suffered every cuddie upon the common to trespass upon a large field of peas belonging to the Laird, and nothing but the active exertions of Jeanie Deans, with her little dog Dustiefoot, could have saved great loss and consequent punishment. Similar miscarriages marked his progress in his classical studies. He read Virgil’s Georgics till he did not know bere from barley; and had nearly destroyed the crofts of Beersheba while attempting to cultivate them according to the practice of Columella and Cato the Censor.
These blunders occasioned grief to his grand-dame, and disconcerted the good opinion which her neighbour, Davie Deans, had for some time entertained of Reuben.
“I see naething ye can make of that silly callant, neighbour Butler,” said he to the old lady, “unless ye train him to the wark o’ the ministry. And ne’er was there mair need of poorfu’ preachers than e’en now in these cauld Gallio days, when men’s hearts are hardened like the nether mill-stone, till they come to regard none of these things. It’s evident this puir callant of yours will never be able to do an usefu’ day’s wark, unless it be as an ambassador from our Master; and I will make it my business to procure a license when he is fit for the same, trusting he will be a shaft cleanly polished, and meet to be used in the body of the kirk; and that he shall not turn again, like the sow, to wallow in the mire of heretical extremes and defections, but shall have the wings of a dove, though he hath lain among the pots.”
The poor widow gulped down the affront to her husband’s principles, implied in this caution, and hastened to take Butler from the High School, and encourage him in the pursuit of mathematics and divinity, the only physics and ethics that chanced to be in fashion at the time.
Jeanie Deans was now compelled to part from the companion of her labour, her study, and her pastime, and it was with more than childish feeling that both children regarded the separation. But they were young, and hope was high, and they separated like those who hope to meet again at a more auspicious hour. While Reuben Butler was acquiring at the University of St. Andrews the knowledge necessary for a clergyman, and macerating his body with the privations which were necessary in seeking food for his mind, his grand-dame became daily less able to struggle with her little farm, and was at length obliged to throw it up to the new Laird of Dumbiedikes. That great personage was no absolute Jew, and did not cheat her in making the bargain more than was tolerable. He even gave her permission to tenant the house in which she had lived with her husband, as long as it should be “tenantable;” only he protested against paying for a farthing of repairs, any benevolence which he possessed being of the passive, but by no means of the active mood.
In the meanwhile, from superior shrewdness, skill, and other circumstances, some of them purely accidental, Davie Deans gained a footing in the world, the possession of some wealth, the reputation of more, and a growing disposition to preserve and increase his store; for which, when he thought upon it seriously, he was inclined to blame himself. From his knowledge in agriculture, as it was then practised, he became a sort of favourite with the Laird, who had no great pleasure either in active sports or in society, and was wont to end his daily saunter by calling at the cottage of Woodend.
Being himself a man of slow ideas and confused utterance, Dumbiedikes used to sit or stand for half-an-hour with an old laced hat of his father’s upon his head, and an empty tobacco-pipe in his mouth, with his eyes following Jeanie Deans, or “the lassie” as he called her, through the course of her daily domestic labour; while her father, after exhausting the subject of bestial, of ploughs, and of harrows, often took an opportunity of going full-sail into controversial subjects, to which discussions the dignitary listened with much seeming patience, but without making any reply, or, indeed, as most people thought, without understanding a single word of what the orator was saying. Deans, indeed, denied this stoutly, as an insult at once to his own talents for expounding hidden truths, of which he was a little vain, and to the Laird’s capacity of understanding them. He said, “Dumbiedikes was nane of these flashy gentles, wi’ lace on their skirts and swords at their tails, that were rather for riding on horseback to hell than gauging barefooted to heaven. He wasna like his father — nae profane company-keeper — nae swearer — nae drinker — nae frequenter of play-house, or music-house, or dancing-house — nae Sabbath-breaker — nae imposer of aiths, or bonds, or denier of liberty to the flock. — He clave to the warld, and the warld’s gear, a wee ower muckle, but then there was some breathing of a gale upon his spirit,” etc. etc. All this honest Davie said and believed.
It is not to be supposed, that, by a father and a man of sense and observation, the constant direction of the Laird’s eyes towards Jeanie was altogether unnoticed. This circumstance, however, made a much greater impression upon another member of his family, a second helpmate, to wit, whom he had chosen to take to his bosom ten years after the death of his first. Some people were of opinion, that Douce Davie had been rather surprised into this step, for, in general, he was no friend to marriages or giving in marriage, and seemed rather to regard that state of society as a necessary evil — a thing lawful, and to be tolerated in the imperfect state of our nature, but which clipped the wings with which we ought to soar upwards, and tethered the soul to its mansion of clay, and the creature-comforts of wife and bairns. His own practice, however, had in this material point varied from his principles, since, as we have seen, he twice knitted for himself this dangerous and ensnaring entanglement.
Rebecca, his spouse, had by no means the same horror of matrimony, and as she made marriages in imagination for every neighbour round, she failed not to indicate a match betwixt Dumbiedikes and her step-daughter Jeanie. The goodman used regularly to frown and pshaw whenever this topic was touched upon, but usually ended by taking his bonnet and walking out of the house, to conceal a certain gleam of satisfaction, which, at such a suggestion, involuntarily diffused itself over his austere features.
The more youthful part of my readers may naturally ask, whether Jeanie Deans was deserving of this mute attention of the Laird of Dumbiedikes; and the historian, with due regard to veracity, is compelled to answer, that her personal attractions were of no uncommon description. She was short, and rather too stoutly made for her size, had grey eyes, light coloured hair, a round good-humoured face, much tanned with the sun, and her only peculiar charm was an air of inexpressible serenity, which a good conscience, kind feelings, contented temper, and the regular discharge of all her duties, spread over her features. There was nothing, it may be supposed, very appalling in the form or manners of this rustic heroine; yet, whether from sheepish bashfulness, or from want of decision and imperfect knowledge of his own mind on the subject, the Laird of Dumbiedikes, with his old laced hat and empty tobacco-pipe, came and enjoyed the beatific vision of Jeanie Deans day after day, week after week, year after year, without proposing to accomplish any of the prophecies of the stepmother.
This good lady began to grow doubly impatient on the subject, when, after having been some years married, she herself presented Douce Davie with another daughter, who was named Euphemia, by corruption, Effie. It was then that Rebecca began to turn impatient with the slow pace at which the Laird’s wooing proceeded, judiciously arguing, that, as Lady Dumbiedikes would have but little occasion for tocher, the principal part of her gudeman’s substance would naturally descend to the child by the second marriage. Other step-dames have tried less laudable means for clearing the way to the succession of their own children; but Rebecca, to do her justice, only sought little Effie’s advantage through the promotion, or which must have generally been accounted such, of her elder sister. She therefore tried every female art within the compass of her simple skill, to bring the Laird to a point; but had the mortification to perceive that her efforts, like those of an unskilful angler, only scared the trout she meant to catch. Upon one occasion, in particular, when she joked with the Laird on the propriety of giving a mistress to the house of Dumbiedikes, he was so effectually startled, that neither laced hat, tobacco-pipe, nor the intelligent proprietor of these movables, visited Woodend for a fortnight. Rebecca was therefore compelled to leave the Laird to proceed at his own snail’s pace, convinced, by experience, of the grave-digger’s aphorism, that your dull ass will not mend his pace for beating.
Reuben, in the meantime, pursued his studies at the university, supplying his wants by teaching the younger lads the knowledge he himself acquired, and thus at once gaining the means of maintaining himself at the seat of learning, and fixing in his mind the elements of what he had already obtained. In this manner, as is usual among the poorer students of divinity at Scottish universities, he contrived not only to maintain himself according to his simple wants, but even to send considerable assistance to his sole remaining parent, a sacred duty, of which the Scotch are seldom negligent. His progress in knowledge of a general kind, as well as in the studies proper to his profession, was very considerable, but was little remarked, owing to the retired modesty of his disposition, which in no respect qualified him to set off his learning to the best advantage. And thus, had Butler been a man given to make complaints, he had his tale to tell, like others, of unjust preferences, bad luck, and hard usage. On these subjects, however, he was habitually silent, perhaps from modesty, perhaps from a touch of pride, or perhaps from a conjunction of both.
He obtained his license as a preacher of the gospel, with some compliments from the Presbytery by whom it was bestowed; but this did not lead to any preferment, and he found it necessary to make the cottage at Beersheba his residence for some months, with no other income than was afforded by the precarious occupation of teaching in one or other of the neighbouring families. After having greeted his aged grandmother, his first visit was to Woodend, where he was received by Jeanie with warm cordiality, arising from recollections which had never been dismissed from her mind, by Rebecca with good-humoured hospitality, and by old Deans in a mode peculiar to himself.
Highly as Douce Davie honoured the clergy, it was not upon each individual of the cloth that he bestowed his approbation; and, a little jealous, perhaps, at seeing his youthful acquaintance erected into the dignity of a teacher and preacher, he instantly attacked him upon various points of controversy, in order to discover whether he might not have fallen into some of the snares, defections, and desertions of the time. Butler was not only a man of stanch Presbyterian principles, but was also willing to avoid giving pain to his old friend by disputing upon points of little importance; and therefore he might have hoped to have come like fine gold out of the furnace of Davie’s interrogatories. But the result on the mind of that strict investigator was not altogether so favourable as might have been hoped and anticipated. Old Judith Butler, who had hobbled that evening as far as Woodend, in order to enjoy the congratulations of her neighbours upon Reuben’s return, and upon his high attainments, of which she was herself not a little proud, was somewhat mortified to find that her old friend Deans did not enter into the subject with the warmth she expected. At first, in he seemed rather silent than dissatisfied; and it was not till Judith had essayed the subject more than once that it led to the following dialogue.
“Aweel, neibor Deans, I thought ye wad hae been glad to see Reuben amang us again, poor fellow.”
“I am glad, Mrs. Butler,” was the neighbour’s concise answer.
“Since he has lost his grandfather and his father (praised be Him that giveth and taketh!), I ken nae friend he has in the world that’s been sae like a father to him as the sell o’ye, neibor Deans.”
“God is the only father of the fatherless,” said Deans, touching his bonnet and looking upwards. “Give honour where it is due, gudewife, and not to an unworthy instrument.”
“Aweel, that’s your way o’ turning it, and nae doubt ye ken best; but I hae ken’d ye, Davie, send a forpit o’ meal to Beersheba when there wasna a bow left in the meal-ark at Woodend; ay, and I hae ken’d ye.”
“Gudewife,” said Davie, interrupting her, “these are but idle tales to tell me; fit for naething but to puff up our inward man wi’ our ain vain acts. I stude beside blessed Alexander Peden, when I heard him call the death and testimony of our happy martyrs but draps of blude and scarts of ink in respect of fitting discharge of our duty; and what suld I think of ony thing the like of me can do?”
“Weel, neibor Deans, ye ken best; but I maun say that, I am sure you are glad to see my bairn again — the halt’s gane now, unless he has to walk ower mony miles at a stretch; and he has a wee bit colour in his cheek, that glads my auld een to see it; and he has as decent a black coat as the minister; and —”
“I am very heartily glad he is weel and thriving,” said Mr. Deans, with a gravity that seemed intended to cut short the subject; but a woman who is bent upon a point is not easily pushed aside from it.
“And,” continued Mrs. Butler, “he can wag his head in a pulpit now, neibor Deans, think but of that — my ain oe — and a’body maun sit still and listen to him, as if he were the Paip of Rome.”
“The what? — the who? — woman!” said Deans, with a sternness far beyond his usual gravity, as soon as these offensive words had struck upon the tympanum of his ear.
“Eh, guide us!” said the poor woman; “I had forgot what an ill will ye had aye at the Paip, and sae had my puir gudeman, Stephen Butler. Mony an afternoon he wad sit and take up his testimony again the Paip, and again baptizing of bairns, and the like.”
“Woman!” reiterated Deans, “either speak about what ye ken something o’, or be silent; I say that independency is a foul heresy, and anabaptism a damnable and deceiving error, whilk suld be rooted out of the land wi’ the fire o’ the spiritual, and the sword o’ the civil magistrate.”
“Weel, weel, neibor, I’ll no say that ye mayna be right,” answered the submissive Judith. “I am sure ye are right about the sawing and the mawing, the shearing and the leading, and what for suld ye no be right about kirkwark, too? — But concerning my oe, Reuben Butler —”
“Reuben Butler, gudewife,” said David, with solemnity, “is a lad I wish heartily weel to, even as if he were mine ain son — but I doubt there will be outs and ins in the track of his walk. I muckle fear his gifts will get the heels of his grace. He has ower muckle human wit and learning, and thinks as muckle about the form of the bicker as he does about the healsomeness of the food — he maun broider the marriage-garment with lace and passments, or it’s no gude eneugh for him. And it’s like he’s something proud o’ his human gifts and learning, whilk enables him to dress up his doctrine in that fine airy dress. But,” added he, at seeing the old woman’s uneasiness at his discourse, “affliction may gie him a jagg, and let the wind out o’ him, as out o’ a cow that’s eaten wet clover, and the lad may do weel, and be a burning and a shining light; and I trust it will be yours to see, and his to feel it, and that soon.”
Widow Butler was obliged to retire, unable to make anything more of her neighbour, whose discourse, though she did not comprehend it, filled her with undefined apprehensions on her grandson’s account, and greatly depressed the joy with which she had welcomed him on his return. And it must not be concealed, in justice to Mr. Deans’s discernment, that Butler, in their conference, had made a greater display of his learning than the occasion called for, or than was likely to be acceptable to the old man, who, accustomed to consider himself as a person preeminently entitled to dictate upon theological subjects of controversy, felt rather humbled and mortified when learned authorities were placed in array against him. In fact, Butler had not escaped the tinge of pedantry which naturally flowed from his education, and was apt, on many occasions, to make parade of his knowledge, when there was no need of such vanity.
Jeanie Deans, however, found no fault with this display of learning, but, on the contrary, admired it; perhaps on the same score that her sex are said to admire men of courage, on account of their own deficiency in that qualification. The circumstances of their families threw the young people constantly together; their old intimacy was renewed, though upon a footing better adapted to their age; and it became at length understood betwixt them, that their union should be deferred no longer than until Butler should obtain some steady means of support, however humble. This, however, was not a matter speedily to be accomplished. Plan after plan was formed, and plan after plan failed. The good-humoured cheek of Jeanie lost the first flush of juvenile freshness; Reuben’s brow assumed the gravity of manhood, yet the means of obtaining a settlement seemed remote as ever. Fortunately for the lovers, their passion was of no ardent or enthusiastic cast; and a sense of duty on both sides induced them to bear, with patient fortitude, the protracted interval which divided them from each other.
In the meanwhile, time did not roll on without effecting his usual changes. The widow of Stephen Butler, so long the prop of the family of Beersheba, was gathered to her fathers; and Rebecca, the careful spouse of our friend Davie Deans, wa’s also summoned from her plans of matrimonial and domestic economy. The morning after her death, Reuben Butler went to offer his mite of consolation to his old friend and benefactor. He witnessed, on this occasion, a remarkable struggle betwixt the force of natural affection and the religious stoicism which the sufferer thought it was incumbent upon him to maintain under each earthly dispensation, whether of weal or woe.
On his arrival at the cottage, Jeanie, with her eyes overflowing with tears, pointed to the little orchard, “in which,” she whispered with broken accents, “my poor father has been since his misfortune.” Somewhat alarmed at this account, Butler entered the orchard, and advanced slowly towards his old friend, who, seated in a small rude arbour, appeared to be sunk in the extremity of his affliction. He lifted his eyes somewhat sternly as Butler approached, as if offended at the interruption; but as the young man hesitated whether he ought to retreat or advance, he arose, and came forward to meet him with a self-possessed, and even dignified air.
“Young man,” said the sufferer, “lay it not to heart, though the righteous perish, and the merciful are removed, seeing, it may well be said, that they are taken away from the evils to come. Woe to me were I to shed a tear for the wife of my bosom, when I might weep rivers of water for this afflicted Church, cursed as it is with carnal seekers, and with the dead of heart.”
“I am happy,” said Butler, “that you can forget your private affliction in your regard for public duty.”
“Forget, Reuben?” said poor Deans, putting his handkerchief to his eyes —“She’s not to be forgotten on this side of time; but He that gives the wound can send the ointment. I declare there have been times during this night when my meditation hae been so rapt, that I knew not of my heavy loss. It has been with me as with the worthy John Semple, called Carspharn John,1 upon a like trial — I have been this night on the banks of Ulai, plucking an apple here and there!”
Notwithstanding the assumed fortitude of Deans, which he conceived to be the discharge of a great Christian duty, he had too good a heart not to suffer deeply under this heavy loss. Woodend became altogether distasteful to him; and as he had obtained both substance and experience by his management of that little farm, he resolved to employ them as a dairy-farmer, or cowfeeder, as they are called in Scotland. The situation he chose for his new settlement was at a place called Saint Leonard’s Crags, lying betwixt Edinburgh and the mountain called Arthur’s Seat, and adjoining to the extensive sheep pasture still named the King’s Park, from its having been formerly dedicated to the preservation of the royal game. Here he rented a small lonely house, about half-a-mile distant from the nearest point of the city, but the site of which, with all the adjacent ground, is now occupied by the buildings which form the southeastern suburb. An extensive pasture-ground adjoining, which Deans rented from the keeper of the Royal Park, enabled him to feed his milk-cows; and the unceasing industry and activity of Jeanie, his oldest daughter, were exerted in making the most of their produce.
She had now less frequent opportunities of seeing Reuben, who had been obliged, after various disappointments, to accept the subordinate situation of assistant in a parochial school of some eminence, at three or four miles’ distance from the city. Here he distinguished himself, and became acquainted with several respectable burgesses, who, on account of health, or other reasons, chose that their children should commence their education in this little village. His prospects were thus gradually brightening, and upon each visit which he paid at Saint Leonard’s he had an opportunity of gliding a hint to this purpose into Jeanie’s ear. These visits were necessarily very rare, on account of the demands which the duties of the school made upon Butler’s time. Nor did he dare to make them even altogether so frequent as these avocations would permit. Deans received him with civility indeed, and even with kindness; but Reuben, as is usual in such cases, imagined that he read his purpose in his eyes, and was afraid too premature an explanation on the subject would draw down his positive disapproval. Upon the whole, therefore, he judged it prudent to call at Saint Leonard’s just so frequently as old acquaintance and neighbourhood seemed to authorise, and no oftener. There was another person who was more regular in his visits.
When Davie Deans intimated to the Laird of Dumbiedikes his purpose of “quitting wi’ the land and house at Woodend,” the Laird stared and said nothing. He made his usual visits at the usual hour without remark, until the day before the term, when, observing the bustle of moving furniture already commenced, the great east-country awmrie dragged out of its nook, and standing with its shoulder to the company, like an awkward booby about to leave the room, the Laird again stared mightily, and was heard to ejaculate — “Hegh, sirs!” Even after the day of departure was past and gone, the Laird of Dumbiedikes, at his usual hour, which was that at which David Deans was wont to “loose the pleugh,” presented himself before the closed door of the cottage at Woodend, and seemed as much astonished at finding it shut against his approach as if it was not exactly what he had to expect. On this occasion he was heard to ejaculate, “Gude guide us!” which, by those who knew him, was considered as a very unusual mark of emotion. From that moment forward Dumbiedikes became an altered man, and the regularity of his movements, hitherto so exemplary, was as totally disconcerted as those of a boy’s watch when he has broken the main-spring. Like the index of the said watch did Dumbiedikes spin round the whole bounds of his little property, which may be likened unto the dial of the timepiece, with unwonted velocity. There was not a cottage into which he did not enter, nor scarce a maiden on whom he did not stare. But so it was, that although there were better farm-houses on the land than Woodend, and certainly much prettier girls than Jeanie Deans, yet it did somehow befall that the blank in the Laird’s time was not so pleasantly filled up as it had been. There was no seat accommodated him so well as the “bunker” at Woodend, and no face he loved so much to gaze on as Jeanie Deans’s. So, after spinning round and round his little orbit, and then remaining stationary for a week, it seems to have occurred to him that he was not pinned down to circulate on a pivot, like the hands of the watch, but possessed the power of shifting his central point, and extending his circle if he thought proper. To realise which privilege of change of place, he bought a pony from a Highland drover, and with its assistance and company stepped, or rather stumbled, as far as Saint Leonard’s Crags.
Jeanie Deans, though so much accustomed to the Laird’s staring that she was sometimes scarce conscious of his presence, had nevertheless some occasional fears lest he should call in the organ of speech to back those expressions of admiration which he bestowed on her through his eyes. Should this happen, farewell, she thought, to all chance of a union with Butler. For her father, however stouthearted and independent in civil and religious principles, was not without that respect for the laird of the land, so deeply imprinted on the Scottish tenantry of the period. Moreover, if he did not positively dislike Butler, yet his fund of carnal learning was often the object of sarcasms on David’s part, which were perhaps founded in jealousy, and which certainly indicated no partiality for the party against whom they were launched. And lastly, the match with Dumbiedikes would have presented irresistible charms to one who used to complain that he felt himself apt to take “ower grit an armfu’ o’ the warld.” So that, upon the whole, the Laird’s diurnal visits were disagreeable to Jeanie from apprehension of future consequences, and it served much to console her, upon removing from the spot where she was bred and born, that she had seen the last of Dumbiedikes, his laced hat, and tobacco-pipe. The poor girl no more expected he could muster courage to follow her to Saint Leonard’s Crags than that any of her apple-trees or cabbages which she had left rooted in the “yard” at Woodend, would spontaneously, and unaided, have undertaken the same journey. It was therefore with much more surprise than pleasure that, on the sixth day after their removal to Saint Leonard’s, she beheld Dumbiedikes arrive, laced hat, tobacco-pipe, and all, and, with the self-same greeting of “How’s a’ wi’ ye, Jeanie? — Whare’s the gudeman?” assume as nearly as he could the same position in the cottage at Saint Leonard’s which he had so long and so regularly occupied at Woodend. He was no sooner, however, seated, than with an unusual exertion of his powers of conversation, he added, “Jeanie — I say, Jeanie, woman”— here he extended his hand towards her shoulder with all the fingers spread out as if to clutch it, but in so bashful and awkward a manner, that when she whisked herself beyond its reach, the paw remained suspended in the air with the palm open, like the claw of a heraldic griffin —“Jeanie,” continued the swain in this moment of inspiration —“I say, Jeanie, it’s a braw day out-by, and the roads are no that ill for boot-hose.”
“The deil’s in the daidling body,” muttered Jeanie between her teeth; “wha wad hae thought o’ his daikering out this length?” And she afterwards confessed that she threw a little of this ungracious sentiment into her accent and manner; for her father being abroad, and the “body,” as she irreverently termed the landed proprietor, “looking unco gleg and canty, she didna ken what he might be coming out wi’ next.”
Her frowns, however, acted as a complete sedative, and the Laird relapsed from that day into his former taciturn habits, visiting the cowfeeder’s cottage three or four times every week, when the weather permitted, with apparently no other purpose than to stare at Jeanie Deans, while Douce Davie poured forth his eloquence upon the controversies and testimonies of the day.
1 John Semple, called Carspharn John, because minister of the parish in Galloway so called, was a Presbyterian clergyman of singular piety and great zeal, of whom Patrick Walker records the following passage: “That night after his wife died, he spent the whole ensuing night in prayer and meditation in his garden. The next morning, one of his elders coming to see him, and lamenting his great loss and want of rest, he replied — ‘I declare I have not, all night, had one thought of the death of my wife, I have been so taken up in meditating on heavenly things. I have been this night on the banks of Ulai, plucking an apple here and there.’"— Walker’s Remarkable Passages of the Life and Death of Mr. John Semple.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00