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Morven
by Robert Sellar, 1911


This is how we who dwelt on Deir, which is one of the islands on the west of Scotland, came to leave and, being taken to Virginia, suffered much until we found homes in Canada. We dwelt in peace until the winter of 1769. One day, when the sea was calm, we saw a boat coming from the mainland. It had four rowers and when it drew near, we could see that the man in the stern was dark-faced, whom none of us knew. He told us his name was John Campbell, that he was the new factor, and had been sent by our chief to get our rents. We sickened at the word rent.

Then up spake Hamish. "I am the oldest man here and rent was never asked from this island. When the first frost came we would send half a score of sheep, or may be a steer, as a present to our chief, and those who took them never came back empty-handed, for the old chief and his good lady remembered our widows and orphans. We never paid rent and never shall, for our fathers dwelt here since time began and the island is ours."

The man answered his master had been to Edinburgh and had got a title-deed for the island, so it was now his to do with it as he liked. If we would not pay rent we would have to leave. Hamish replied, though he was now old, he could still fight, and would not go from the land of his fathers. With an oath, the factor said we would either pay rent or he would bring the soldiers from Fort William and drive us into our boats. This, after much talk not here set down, was his last word, as his men set the sail, for there was now a breeze from the west.

And there was great sorrow among us. The men cursed and shook their fists at the boat but the women cried. It had been a sore season. Drouth in July and August withered the grass and our corn, the cattle and sheep were too thin to kill, and there was small store of meal or of butter and cheese when the winter set in. Had it not been for the herring we would have perished. When Yule was near a boat went to the mainland with what little oats we had to be made into meal, and the men brought back word that the crofters who lived near the mill were being made to pay rent. Those who would not promise to pay, had been driven from their houses by the soldiers and their homes burned.

Candlemas passed and three days later the factor’s boat was sighted. We gathered at the landing-place and when he asked if we would pay rent, we answered No. He said his master would let us off easy and be content with a small rent. Hamish answered we would pay any honest debt, but would not pay for the use of the land that belonged to us. Then the factor spoke smoothly and said we doubtless had our rights and his master had respect to them, and seeing the island was now too small for so many families he would provide for us if we would agree to go where there was land in plenty.

"Where would he take us?" asked Harnish.

"Over the sea, where it is warm and there is plenty to eat."

"You mean America?" said Hamish.

"Yes, the laird will pay your passage and you will never know cold nor hunger any rnore."

He talked smooth and promised much. We said we wanted time to consider. He answered he must carry back our answer, for if we agreed to go the chief would hire the ship he had offer of, and whose owner was then at the castle waiting our reply. Hamish said we would talk it over by ourselves, and the factor said he would stay till the shadow came over the east side of our cow hill. When he left us, walking over the island, looking it all over, every tongue was loosed. Some were for taking the offer but most were for staying: the old did not want to leave. Sandy Ruadh’s wife rocked herself and wailed she would never leave the Highlands, and two women older than her joined in her lament. Hamish asked the men each one what they would do. They were in a swither, and spoke one way at whiles and another way a minute after. They were lost in trying to think. Then came a cry from the house of Ian More, which was nighest to us. His wife rose. "It’s my bairn," she said. "I put him to sleep with promise of breakfast and I have none to give him," and she burst out crying. The thought of all the cold and hunger we had undergone came to us at her words, and we knew there was worse to come, for there were homes where the last bite had been eaten, and they were borrowing where there was little left. Harnish raised his voice. "If we stay we perish: better go to America and live," and no one said him nay. Then the talk was of the terms to be made, and many asked what they knew could not be got. In the end it was settled to leave Hamish to make the best bargain he could and he said he would surely do that, and asked four of the oldest men to be with him when he spoke to the factor, whom we saw coming back. When told we were willing to go to America, the factor said we did what was wise, and when terms were come to be promised everything Hamish and the Men asked, until they had their doubts of him. While they stood, the factor took a flask from the boat and passed it round twice, and they shook hands. As the boat shoved off, he was asked when the ship would come. She was lying at Troon with her cargo on board, and would sail for our island with the first wind to suit. The next day a boat came from the mainland, fetching two bags of oatmeal, a gift from the laird, and the cry of the children was not heard that night.

It was in the dead of night the noise of a ship coming to anchor woke us, and we wondered she had come so soon, though it was the tenth day since the factor left. We had done nothing in preparation, and when the skipper came ashore at sunrise and asked if we were ready to go on board, he was angry when Hamish answered, we were not and might not be for a week. He cursed us for a lazy lot and declared we must go on board at once, for he was not going to miss the S. E. wind that was blowing from the mainland. Going back to his ship he sent all its boats with the mate in charge. Going into the houses the sailors carried out our bits of things, even the pots that were hung over the fire with the children’s porridge. Katie McEachran was milking. They wrenched the cogie from her, kicked the stool away, and drove off the cow. It was all confusion: children crying and women entreating the strangers to begone. Hamish and the Men swore at them, but the sailors heeded not, for they were English and understood not what was said. When they had taken the plenishing they lifted the children into the boats, hereupon the women set up a cry that was lamentable to hear. The children gone, they followed them the next trip. The Men were talking among themselves and saying they would fight, but not one would strike the first blow, and they obeyed the bidding to get into the boats. When Donald Bane made to enter they thrust him aside, and when Hamish asked the reason, the mate did not answer him, for he knew not Gaelic. Hamish cried to Morven to speak to them, and the mate answered, Donald was of no use, for he had only one arm. His right arm had been hacked off by a cavalry man at Culloden, whither he had gone when a lad with his father. On being told what the mate said, Hamish declared he would not move a foot, unless Donald was taken. When Donald stepped towards the boat, the mate flung him aside. Hamish gripped the mate by the throat and the Men moved to help him. The mate thereupoü signed to Donald to get into the boat and we followed. A collie swam after the boat. A sailor, with a blow of his oar, smashed its skull On boarding the ship, we found the children eating biscuits that had been thrown to them, and the sailors heaving the anchor. As the ship began to move, smoke rose from the shielings we had left. Before jumping into the last boat a sailor had set fire to them with peats from their own hearths. When the flames got above the thatch we thought our hearts would break The mother of Donald Bane, who had second sight, pushed her way to the captain's deck, when, stretching her arms upwards, she put the curse on the chief and his sons’ sons to the fourth generation Our flesh crept as we listened the Men said it was good for them.

To round the foot of the island after which she could lay her course for the west, the ship had to make short tacks and as we neared the mainland a boat was spied making for us with flowing sail. Hamish said it was the minister’s boat, and as she drew nearer we saw him in the stern with his plaid round him and his white hair flowing in the breeze. As the ship was brought up in the wind for another tack, the boat came up and a rope was thrown her. The minister came on board and his boat with her two men towed astern. He spoke with the captain, who was heard to say he could tell nothing, he must see the chief. Then he came forward and we gathered round him. He had a kind word for all, to the smallest child, and he gave advice to the Men. Then, as the time was short, for another tack would bring the ship to the open between the islands, he had worship, and when in his prayer he committed us to God, seeing man had no mercy upon us, the women rocked and wept and the children, crying, held on to them. The mate touched the minister’s arm and told him it was time to go Taking Morven aside and speaking to him in English the minister said, "I fear the worst, Morven, (for I will call you by the name we gave you from where you came to us, an orphan child) and am powerless to help. You know English and must do your best to help them. The cloud that is leaving the top of yonder mountain will never see it again, but God has ordained its pathway. If He watches the vapor that will be melted in the sunshine in a few moments, think you not He will watch you? Fail not in doing what is right by your people. Live for them and, if the call so be, die for them. ‘ Take this to keep in remembrance the chargé I now give

you," and he thrust a book into Morven’s hands. He shook hands with us all, as we pressed round him, to the youngest child, and, standing on the taffrail to step into his boat, he blessed us. His men bent to their oars and we watched the boat as it breasted the waves until we could see it no more. The ship’s head was laid for the west and before dark we had cleared the last of the islands.

On the night of the sixth day the wind rose to a gale. In the morning the sailors said it would break by noon, but it did not, growing worse, so that the ship labored heavily and was swept by the waves. The next day the storm was wilder, and the waves higher. To hold her bow to the wind sail was hoisted on the mizzen. When growing . dark the yard snapped, and, breaking the stays, the mast went too. The ship broached sideways to the waves and for a time it seemed she would founder, and she would, had the wreckage not been swept to the lee and dragged her bow toward the wind. cry arose from those below that the ship had sprung a leak. The pump was set agoing with little hope. Towards midnight the gale broke, and the captain spoke to the men at the pump, saying they would yet make land. Daylight showed the wreck of the mizzen -mast and of the piece of the lee bulwark, which the weight of water had carried away when she broached-to at the snapping of the mast. The tearing away of the bulwark posts had caused the leak. When the sailors saw the leak was above and not below the water-line they

made light of it, and taking canvas and old cloths stuffed them into the cracks, for the waves kept on sweeping over the deck. As the gale broke the waves went down, and the second day there was a calm, the ship rocking on a glassy swell. Haste was made in repairs. A furnace was set on the foredeck and over it was swung a cauldron to melt pitch to caulk the leaks. Unnoticed, while all were busy, the sun . in burning away the haze that covered the sea revealed a ship within a few cables’ length. That she was a French privateer there could be no doubt. She fired no shot, knowing her prey was secure entire so soon as there was wind enough to give her steerage way. It was an hour or more before a slight air came up and filled her sails when she bore down upon us, her deck. crowded with armed men ready to ‘eap when she came alongside of us. We felt our hour had come. Morven stood on the forecastle. As the two hulls grazed, he caught the guy-rope of the boom on which hung the cauldron of melted pitch, and swinging it outwards the rigging of the privateer caught and upset the tar on its deck. There was a dreadful shriek from the men .on whom it poured, the grap-. pling irons were not thrown, and the privateer drifted astern. Seven of her crew had leaped from her as she moved past: these Hamish and the Men sprang upon and stabbed with their dirks. From the privateer, as she slowly drifted away, there rose a smothering smoke, which suddenly flashed into flame.. The port fires that had. been lighted at her guns, had set the pitch in a blaze. At noon a breeze came up when the flames rose higher than her masts, until suddenly they reached her magazine and with a loud noise she disappeared. We could not make sail, for the wind was on our starboard, and in heeling over with it our wrecked side would have been under water. In our perplexity top-sails were seen rising on the horizon. They proved to be those of a man-of-war, and when she came up she loosed the British flag and sent a boat on board. The officer who came said they had seen the smoke and had changed their course. On returning to his ship, there was sent a cutter towing a spar to be rigged as a jurymast for our broken mizzen, with carpenters and sailors to make repairs on our splintered quarter that would do until port was reached. She stood by until noon of next day, when signal was made recalling her men. They left and soon after she filled, heading southward.

Nothing more out of the ordinary happened. Six weeks out land was sighted and next day, doubling the cape, the ship sailed into Chesapeake bay, holding on until abreast of Jamestown. The captain went ashore to report to the agent, taking Morven to carry his packages. Sitting outside the agent’s office he could not help overhearing what was said, for the day was warm and doors and windows were open. He was dumb with astonishment on learning his people were bound for service on a tobacco plantation. On the captain’s coming out and they were walking along the street, Morven asked if what he had heard was true, and the captain told him they had been sold by their chief to a tobacco-lord in Glasgow for their passage, and that the factor got the sheep and cattle they left for his services. "How many years will they have to serve?" asked Morven.

"The manager will see to it that they will not get away so long as it pays him to keep them. Don’t fear, Morven, for yourself; you will not go with them."

The houses and the people swam before the eyes of Morven, for he saw his neighbors were to be as slaves. The captain had many places to visit and many people to speak to. On being rowed back to the ship there was a schooner alongside and the women were carrying their plenishing into it and the children were playing on its deck. On the ship Hamish and the Men were seated round a stranger, who held in his left hand a big jar. He politely addressed Morven in English, and invited him to drink a glass to America, but he would not touch the rum held out to him. Turning to the men, Moryen told what he had come to learn, how they had been sold by their chief to work as slaves on a tobacco plantation, and with a piercing cry of entreaty, called on them not to go. To his astonishment, the stranger answered what he had said in Gaelic. He reminded Hamish and the Men that he was a Highlander like themselves and wished them well. Where they were going they would be well treated, have good houses and plenty to eat, and never know what cold was.

The young man was mistaken. Then he passed the glass round. Hamish spoke. The stranger who had come to welcome them to America must not mind what the boy said, for he was an upstart, who, because he had got the English put himself before his elders and gave his advice when it was not asked. The Men knew a friend when they met one and thanked this true Highlandman who had come aboard to welcome them to their new home. And the Men mocked Morven. "Young man," added Hamish, "your day is over, we are here in America and do not need you to speak for us to the English. We have now a friend who can do that and who means well by us." And the stranger swore he was their friend, and filling the cup shook hands with them in a pledge. Morven would not hold his peace, but told them what he had said was truth, that if they went on the schooner it would be to slavery.

"You, who have no beard, are to tell us what to do!" replied Hamish in scorn. "You are the wise boy who knows everything! Nobody can do anything except yourself! It was you who pushed yourself before your elders when the minister came to bid us Men good-bye, and it was you who took the book and made yourself out to be a minister by reading out of it to the children. It was you who pretended to the captain to be in charge of us Men. It was you who tried to make the warship officer believe it was you who had defeated the French boat. What impudence! But you will have your nose now rubbed in the mud." The men laughed and said things that stung. Still Morven ceased not to entreat they should not go. The women and children were all on the barge, which was waiting for the Men. The stranger rose. Hamish said they would have a parting-glass.

As the first of the Men lifted his foot to step into the barge, Morven gripped his arm and implored him not to go. Hamish staggered forward and struck Morven on the side of the head. As he was falling one of the Men caught him with his left arm and dealt him another blow. And as he lay on the deck one kicked him. When Morven came to himself, his head ached. He was in his bunk and by the noises he knew the ship was being unloaded. He tried to rise, when his head swam and he sank back, sick at heart. It was long before the sailors entered the forecastle. One came to him and shook him. "Hillo my hearty; all right again?" Morven opened his eyes and swooned again. "Better than doctor’s stuff," said the sailor, as he returned with a wet cloth and re- placed the one that bound his head. Sunshine was streaming down the scuttle when Morven next awoke. The sailors were asleep in their bunks and all was quietness. "It must be the Sabbath," said Morven to himself, and he thought of summer Sabbaths he had known and yearned for the freshness of the breath of the land of loch and hill. He felt better, the heat and soreness had left his head. He lay until the clash of church bells awoke the cook and sent him to his galley. It was his call to breakfast that roused the crew. The sailor who had kept wet cloths on his head spoke first. "Never you meddle with people: mind your own business," he said.

"If you don’t, you will get many a clout," was the saying of another.

"I wanted to save them," said Morven.

"Save them!" exclaimed the boatswain, "planting tobacco is good enough for them, the beggars."

"But they will be no better than slaves," said Morven.

"Better men than them have come through the mill of being planters’ redemptioners. You follow your own nose, youngster, and thank your stars Hamish was drunk when he fetched you that blow; had he less rum on board you would have been in your grave instead of your bunk."

Next morning Morven went on deck when the captain called him aft, and told him to keep tally of the cargo that was being unloaded, for the second mate was off duty. The hold was cleared and the ship sailed up the coast for a cargo. Said the captain, "I am ready to sail and would send you to the hospital for the nuns to nurse, but I will take you with me. You saved my ship from the French pirate and I am not going to leave you as bones for yellow jack." Morven asked about Hamish and the rest. The captain knew nothing more than that they were taken up the river to a distant plantation. "Well for you I had rated your name with the ship’s crew or you would have been taken with them."

The ship cast off from Baltimore, where she had loaded, and began her voyage to Boston, which she reached, and on unloading took on a cargo for Jamaica. Morven was not strong. His bead reeled with the least over-exertion. "I will leave you here," the captain said the day before sailing, "for you are not fit to go to sea. I have got a place for you with a man who keeps an office and a sort of agency," and he took him to the man, who was Samuel Adams by name, and who agreed to hire him for a year for his board and a suit of clothes. As Morven was leaving the ship with his bundle, the captain took him aside. "Here’s your pay, it will help you to buy some long-shore togs," and shook his hand.

Morven had found a hard master, who had no pity on him, but kept him at work from early morn to bedtime. Morven strove hard to please him. One afternoon his master said, "I am short to meet a bill that is due, lend me the money you had from the captain," and he got it. Next morning, on Morven’s coming to take down the shutters, he found the door still locked. He went to his master’s house for the key, to find he was not there. Before noon the sheriff came and took possession. Adams was a bankrupt and could not be found. Morven was sick at heart. He had no money, and he knew that his master had not paid his board. He could not face his landlady and walked to the Common. The day was warm and bright and the leaves had come, for it was springtime. As he sat on the grass some one spoke from behind. "You are feeling bad: what ails you?"

It was a man in sailor’s clothing and of purple face. Morven told him all. They sat and talked. When the day wore late the man asked, "What are you going to do?" Morven said he would sleep under a, tree, he dare not go to his boarding-house for he had no money and his master had not paid what was due. The man asked the name of the woman he had boarded with, and being told he became curious and asked many questions. "Come with me," said the man. They walked towards the harbor. They: halted at a baker’s shop, and then went on to a deserted sailmaker’s loft. "You can sleep here and this will do for supper and breakfast," said the man, pushing a loaf into Morven’s hand and going away.

In the morning Morven set out to seek work, and had many refusals. Had he had a trade he would have found employment, but he had none. On going into a shop near that of his old master he was taken on, for the storekeeper said he had taken observation of his industry. Morven went to his boarding-house, told the woman he had got a place, and if she would wait he would pay her every shilling his runaway master was due her. And he denied himself in every way until he had done so.

It was in the fall, when his master came into the store late in the afternoon holding a letter in his hand. "Morven, this letter must be sent after the Jasper Daggett; she is wind-bound at the mouth of the harbor. Get a horse at once." In ten minutes Morven was on his way. As he left Charlestown be-. hind it grew dark, and a mist blew in from the sea. On nearing the hook behind which he knew several ships rode at anchor, he could not see how he was to get to the Daggett, but on alighting at the tavern he found many sea-faring men who had come on shore, to have a social time awaiting a change of wind. Among them was the captain of the Daggett, who, on reading the letter, thanked Morven and bade him stay, for the night was dark and the road bad.

After supper he regretted staying, for the company set to drinking and there was clamor and vile talk. Getting into a corner he at last fell asleep. On awaking all was silence in the house and he was alone in the room. By the pale light he knew it was morning and from a distance came the choruses of sailors. They were heaving anchor. The wind had changed with the turn of the tide, when the captains hurried to their ships which were now putting out to sea. Watching the loosening of sail as one after another got under way, Morven walked along the shore The sun was rising. The last land it shone on was my own dear land he said to himself, and as he thought the waves that burst at his feet may have kissed the strand of the island he loved, he stood and wished the glittering pathway with which the sun spanned the ocean was one by which he could return. The scenes of dear old Scotland fleeted past his mind's eye and he strove then and afterwards in his lone lodging to fix these pictures in rude couplets—

Far yont the hills the comin morn doth break,
The sun slowly opes his een aboot to wake;
Wi mony a blush upon her bonny broo
His fair partner, Nicht, doth awn ‘tis true,—
Sune ower the hills he keeks wi cheerfu glower
Kissing frae glen and brae the darkness dour.
Through gloom the loch nae langer sullen gleam,
But glints fu brichtly in the gowden streams.
Wi’ flowin tide and caller breeze, wave chases wave
Till, wi refreshin soon, the shore they lave.
Frae craggy couch the eagle eddying flies,
The lark mounts singing to the skies,
Frae grey dikeside ilk lintie sprucely haps,
Far ower the hills the shepherd lanely stalks.
Upon the muir, whaur heathbells glint wi dew,
The paitricks whirring rise, a scraichin crew,
An sheep, wi wonderin een, scan the glowin sky,
An lammies a’ their sorrows tell wi plaintive cry.
But let me noo unto yon village turn
That sits aneath the hill, aside the burn,
Past the auld grey kirk aroon whose waas
Sleep mony, for the first time, free o’ sorrow’s caas.
As lanely doon the silent street I gang—
It has only ane, but that ane's lang—
Aslant the hoosetaps the brichtin sunbeams glide,
In chill blue shade the dreepin kaleheeds hide.
Few soons or signs o' life the sense doth reck:
Amang the stour a chuckie scarts and pecks—
A waukrife beastie. I hear nae human ca—
But smother’d rowts and orra craw.
The hinmost mist has left the hill in gauzy swurl
Afore frae lum o’ Howdy Jean the reek gin curl.
At ilka door poke heeds o’ auld wives sneeshie,
In flannen mutches baith black an creeshie,
An Souter Tam steps by wi furtive e’e
To slip into Luckie Lammie’s door agee
For mornin dram—a shifless, drucken body—
Red-cooled, in body gaunt as ony atomy.
Noo puir men drap by wi grape and shool
To seek their wark, sair boon by poortith’s rule—
Their life the teughest fecht aneath the sun—
The puir man’s darg is never done.
Cleekit high ower fire the parritch pechs an reeks
Watcht sharp by girnin lads withoot their breeks,
Till sharp, frae bickers fu to bickers scartit,
The skudgie weans for shore an quay hae startit;
Barefitted, wi scraich an mickle din, they rin
To see the herrin-boats come boundin in.
The village morn is done,
It’s day’s life's begun.

The picture faded of the happy days he had spent in the manse on the mainland, and Morven woke to his duties in Boston. In the spring his master extended his shop, and with keen eye Morven watched the workmen, anxious to learn their trade. His spare minutes he spent with them and they were willing to have his help. So handy did he show himself with tools that the foreman encouraged him. With what money he could spare, he bought tools, and his reading of books in the evening he varied with attempts at cabinet-making.

It was an afternoon in November when returning from an errand he found his master with a crowd of people gathered on the street. They were watching a row going on in front of the adjoining tavern. The roadway was filled with fighting men and the air resounded with their curses. The fracas ended as suddenly as it had begun and when those engaged in it had disappeared a man was left outstretched. Going up to him it was seen he was unconscious. The door of the tavern being barred, Morven was told by his master to give a hand in carrying him into the shop, until the constable came. On drawing near, Morven recognized the man he had met eighteen months before on the common, who had given him a loaf and had found him shelter for the night. There were bruises from blows but no blood. A blue mark on his forehead showed where he had been hit with the bottle found beside him. Morven told his master what he knew of him, and he agreed to let him remain until he came to his senses, instead of the constable dragging him to prison. On going to his supper Morven spoke of what had happened, and when he was ready to go back to see if he had wakened, his landlady said she would go too. His master, waiting for his return to go to his home, said there was no change—the man was still unconscious. Lifting the candle Morven led the way to the backstore, where the wounded man was stretched on a pile of bags. As the light fell on his face, the woman gave a shriek, and rushing forward clasped the impassive head and gave vent to hysteric weeping that shook her frame. When she had recovered herself she told Morven the man was her son. Left a widow while he was a baby, she had brought him up with painful sacrifice, for she had to work out for both. She had striven to guard him from evil and had comforted herself with a happy future, when he would provide for her and be the joy of her old age. And so he would, for he was affectionate and biddable. All was well until he went into a shop to learn his trade. A fellow apprentice taught him what was wrong, led him into bad company, and before she knew of his full peril he had got a craving for drink. In lisening to all she had done to save him, the swelling of his heart often choked Morven. It was useless, she said. He could not rid himself of the desire for the liquor that had a stronger hold of him than mother, reputation, and life. He had gone from bad to worse until, six years ago, he had shipped as a sailor and she had lost all trace of him. Morven told of his meeting him and of his kindness, and the mother listened eagerly. The weary hours of watching crept by and Morven fell asleep. The sound of a voice nearby woke him. It was the mother in her agony praying that God would pardon her boy’s sin and accept him. At a glance, young as he was, Morven saw a change had come, and that he was in the face of death. The mother’s arms clasped the dying man’s neck, and kissing the whitening lips, she implored for one word, one sign of recognition. None came— he was dead After the funeral Morven asked, "Will I keep the bottle that struck him?" "Cast it away," she replied. "I try to forget everything; to forgive even the man who tempted my boy to drink his first glass, and the wretch who, for a few pennies, sold it to him. It was they who murdered him, not that bottle."

One night that winter, when the snow crunched under the feet of passers-by, two neighbors dropped in to see his landlady and Morven left his bench to join in the talk. The wind whistled, they gathered closer to the fire and one remarked it was an awful night for the poor. Just then Morveri cried, "I think there is somebody at the door," and they halted in their pleasant talk to listen. "It is a knock," they exclaimed as a faint sound was heard. Morven hurried to the door and saw, by the moonlight, a little boy standing in the snow. He spoke to him, but the boy’s teeth were chattering with cold, so that his words could not be made out. "Come in," said Morven. The boy moved forward, stumbled, and fell. Morven lifted him in his arms and carried him to the fire that was blazing on the hearth. The boy looked round with frightened gaze and swooned. They saw he was perishing with cold. While one woman took off his boots and chafed his icy feet another bustled to make a warm drink. In loosening his coat, a paper was seen to be pinned to the inside. It was handed to Morven to read. It was dated Portsmouth, and in a few lines told that the boy was the grandchild of his landlady, that hearing his father had been killed and there would be no more money to pay for his keep, he was sent to her. The woman was astounded. Taking the child from Morven she held him in her lap as she scanned his face in the firelight "My God," she cried, "he is my grandson; he is the picture of my son," and pressing him to her bosom she sobbed and kissed his pinched features. It was long before he opened his eyes and as he did he shivered, but did not complain The neighbors left and when Morven went to his bed, the grandmother was clasping the boy as she rocked before the fire. Next day he was feverish and his mind wandered. He seemed to be in fear, and would moan, "Please don’t," "Oh, do not hit me," and his grandmother understood the marks on his shrunken body. When he was able to speak rationally he could tell little. He never remembered anywhere else except Portsmouth and the woman who starved and beat him. No, she was not his mother and he never saw his father. A man took him into the stage and left him at his grandmother’s door. With decent care he might have grown to be a hearty boy, but his body was dwarfed for lack of food, and his spirit broken by cruelty. The grandmother lavished loving care upon him. It had come too late: she saw with sorrow he was too delicate to grow to be a man. To Morven he took at once, clinging to him as if he were his father, and he made him blocks and toys, and with these, when not lying down in weariness, he played. In the evenings he sat and watched, as Morven wrought with plane and chisel. When spring came, he carried him on his shoulder to the Common, where he watched the birds, the cows, the people until the chill of evening came. In getting into his little nightgown be cuddled in Morven’s arms with the order "Sing," and be crooned Gaelic songs until the eyelids drooped. Month succeeded month, and season, season. They hoped for the best and deceived themselves he was growing stronger. Instead he was wasting away. It was the end of September that Morven came home from his work and saw the white face pressed against the window watching for him. Rising from his little stool he would have run to him, but was too weak. Morven had brought him a bunch of grapes. He shook his head and put them aside. He sat on Morven’s knee while he took his supper. He said he felt cold and Morven got a blanket and wrapping it round him gathered the child to his bosom He was very quiet, the noise of children playing on the street was heard; he did not move "Sing" he said. Morven began a lullaby he had heard "No the Highland song," the little man whispered One Gaelic song after another and the door opened, the grandmother had been visiting a neighbor in trouble "How is my pet?" and she touched him. There was no reply. She drew the blanket from his face. He was dead.

A fortnight later the grandmother said she would go and visit her people in the Berkshire hills, whom she had not seen for years. She stayed so long Morven was growing anxious, when a letter came from her. She would not return. A widowed brother insisted on her remaining to keep house for him. She directed what he was to send to her and to sell the furniture, which would more than pay the rent. When he had done as directed he was homeless. He had no heart to stay longer in Boston. As he went each morning to his work at the cabinet-maker’s shop he passed the burying-ground where the body of the child had been laid, and he reflected, as he had never done, on death and eternity. The one thought that burned into his soul was the need of doing what duty called for before Death knocked, and his conscience accused him of making no effort to save the company of men and women on the tobacco plantation in Virginia. The figure of the white haired minister was often before his eyes and. his charge sounded in his ears.

The afternoon Morven left Boston he passed a crowd of excited people near the wharf. A speaker was calling upon them to strike a blow for their liberties, denouncing the attempt of the king to make them pay any part of the debt incurred in the war that had overthrown French rule in America. Morven thought he recognized the voice. Moving to where he could see, he saw the speaker was his old master who had cheated him of his wages and his savings.

Landed in New York at the battery Morven was at once in the throng and carried past the fish market. He caught his breath; could he believe his eyes? There, over baskets of fish, was a one-armed man trying to make sales to two women. There was the iron grip of hands; the thrill of that clasp neither ever forgot. It was Donald Bane. "Sit beside me till I sell my fish," he cried, and Morven waited. The baskets emptied, Donald took him to his room, and then a flood of questions came alternately from both. Dona4ld’s story was this—The barge on which Morven saw them go on board carried them a long way up the Potomac. It was dark when they reached their journey’s end, and were led to a row of huts. Next morning they found they were on a tobacco plantation and all who were fit to work were taken along with a gang of negroes to the fields to hoe the sprouting plants. They were well fed but the Men did not like steady work, and resented being ordered about. They did not understand English and there was no interpreter. The man who had coaxed them on to the boat had suddenly disappeared. When Sabbath came the Men refused to go to the fields. The manager was sent for, and the only word he under-stood was Sabbath, so he comprehended their desire. Seeing they were determined, he left them alone. In Scotland we would have gone, if sea and wind suited, in our boats to the Kirk on the mainland, but there was no Kirk here. Hamish prayed and we sang psalms in that lonesome place, where we had nobody

to speak to, for even the black men could speak English only. Talking among themselves the Men said they must get wages and know what they were, but when the horn sounded at daylight they would fall in, saying they would see about it next day, and it was always next day. The work was not hard had it not been for the heat. Having only one arm I was of no use in the field and was sent to help round the kitchen and yard until they found I understood how to manage boats and cast nets. The fishing in the Potomac is just splendid. Going up and down the river with the barge helped me more than any other chance to learn English, and I was keen to learn. All went on as usual until the tobacco was stripped. It was now October and the Men said they must have their pay, and one morning refused to go to work, making known to the foreman they wanted their wages. The manager coaxed and then threatened, but it was of no use: they would not work without wages. They sat round their houses and had much talk. The next day four men came riding to the manager’s house—it was the sheriff with three helpers. I was made to go with them to explain to the men that if they would not work, the strangers would take them to jail. Hamish answered they had worked eight months and had not got a penny. The sheriff took no notice of what he said. Pulling a string of handcuffs from the bag he carried, he asked again if they would go to the fields. Hamish shouted,

"No, I am not a slave but a freeborn Scotchman."

The sheriff made a spring to snap handcuffs on him, when Hamish caught him by the head and threw him down. The Men rushed to help him and the three officers joined to back the sheriff. It was a wild fight for a few minutes, ending in the four

lowers lying senseless on the ground. As they recovered they staggered to the manager’s house. So badly hurt were they that when they left, late in the day, they went in a wagon, being unable to mount their horses. There was rejoicing among the Men. Their blood was up and they were declaring to one -another they would not do another handsturn until paid their wages. For two days we were left alone, for the manager and the overseer had left with the sheriff. The Men made no stir, waiting anxiously for what was to come. The afternoon of the third day the lad sent to keep a lookout, came running in. There was a lot of horsemen in sight. There were fifty and more, planters with their servants, and all armed. They never drew rein, but galloped to the huts, where the Men awaited their coming. Pushing their horses among them the Men had no chance to resist. Several were knocked down, falling under the horses’ hoofs. Hamish was one: of those. He sprang to his feet and catching hold of the boot of one of the horsemen tried to pull him from the saddle. He fired a pistol at his head and Hamish dropped dead. Before the Men knew where they were, they were handcuffed, crowded together and long ropes passed below their armpits. The women screamed and the children cried as they saw the Men yoked up as if they were cattle. When ordered to move they stirred not a foot. The leader shouted to two of the horsemen, who must have been slave-drivers, for each drew a long black-snake lash and snipped the Men on the head. At the same time the planters pressed their horses behind them and they had to move or be trampled. It seemed a long time before a town was reached, when the Men were thrust into the jail, sore in body from cuts and bruises, but sorer in spirit. A week passed and they were led into a court-room. A lawyer explained to the judge that the Men were charged with resisting officers of the law, of riot, and assault. The sheriff and his three helpers were witnesses, and told how they had been received, and identified four of the Men who had struck them. The lawyer then called to the box a gentleman who had come from Jamestown. He held up a long document which he read to the judge. It was a contract, giving the owner of the plantation the labor of the Men for advancing the cost of their passage and of their families to America. The manager produced an account, showing the labor of the men had only paid a small part of the sum they were due. The judge asked if the Men had anything to say before he passed sentence. They did not understand him. I spoke up and ex plained as well as I could they were due the planter nothing. That it was the chief who had sent them to America, and the sheep and cattle, boats and fishing tackle, they had left would more than pay their passage. They were free-born Scots and were not slaves to be held as prisoners on a plantation and be made to work for nothing. The lawyer asked how I came to lose my arm, and I told him. Speaking to the judge, he said, allowing what I stated applied to the case, it was the evidence of a confessed rebel who had fought against the king. The judge nodded, "Very true, Patrick Henry." The sentence was that all should be imprisoned one week and that the four Men who the sheriffs officers had sworn had struck them get twelve lashes each. One of the planters rose, a tall gentleman, and asked permission to speak "It is granted, Colonel Washington." The gentleman said, while it was necessary the law be carried out to protect the rights of the planters and the great industry of Virginia, he would rather have the whipping left out. They were white, and had already been taught a severe lesson as to their place and duty to the colony The lawyer objected the sheriff could not get helpers if they were not protected Instead of twelve, these men deserved twenty lashes At this the planters clapped their hands and cried "Good." Seeing their voice was with him, the judge said he would not change the sentence. The men were taken back to prison, except the four who were chained to a block in front of it When all was ready one was tied to a post, his back bared, and the lash laid on. Oh, it was a cruel sight. The Men quivering with pain and humiliation were thrust in with the rest of us. When the week was up, a mounted guard appeared to take us back to the plantation. There was no need of a guard, for the Men were so weak from starvation and so broken in spirit that they could not resist. On reaching the huts we saw a barge at the landing, and next morning when casting off the manager shoved me aboard her, telling me not to come back, that I might go to the devil. My saying what I did in court had made the planters angry. The boat was bound for Jamestown, and when we tied up, there was hardly anybody to be seen, for the fever had broken out. In the stream were ships that could not leave for want of sailors. I saw my chance to get away. Telling the captain of a schooner I could steer, he took me, and that very evening we cleared for New York. I might have stayed with the boat, but did not care to go to the West Indies, which was her next voyage. The only calling I knew and was fit for was fishing, which I followed until I had saved enough to start selling on the market.

This, put connected form, is what, then and in subsequent conversations, Donald told. What could be done to save the Men and their families? Donald replied, if Morven had the money to redeem them he could go and settle with the agent of the planter and bring them north: seeing he had not the money, he could do nothing. If he went to see them and tried to get them away, he would be put in jail, and probably lashed.

Morven tried to find work in New York and failed. There had been many arrivals of immigrants and every shop had all the hands needed. Hearing of a chance in Albany he said he would go there. Donald implored him not to leave, that he had saved enough to keep them both, but he went. On landing he went straight to the shop he had heard of and was engaged. The master had a contract for the furniture of a new hotel.


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