Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Morven
Part V


Next forenoon, while Morven was consulting with Sergeant Grant as to laying out the land in lots for the people, the major’s orderly came and told him to follow. The major was at his table. In addition to his books and papers there was a bottle and two glasses. "Before we proceed to the King’s business, let us drink to his health." So saying he filled the two glasses, and pushed one towards Morven. Lifting his own the major stood up, "The King, his royal majesty George Third, the best of Kings." He did not put it to his lips, for he saw Morven had not lifted his glass. "What do you mean? Are you such a dolt that you do not know when the King’s health is proposed?"

"If drinking what hurts men’s brains and bodies would help the King I might. I wish him well, but I taste not strong drink."

The major, who liked his glass too well, thought Morven was taunting him. He grew purple with rage and broke out in a torrent of curses. "Fellow, I will have you tied to the halberds and given fifty lashes; I shall whip the treason out of you. Dover, call the guard."

"Your servant is beyond call and there is no guard. I have come to attend to the affairs of the people I act for and to empty no bottle. Let us proceed with business."

"Dictate to rue, you beggarly Scot! I’ll kick you out of my door. I shall have no communication with a traitor."

"Let that word stick in your throat. I have heard it abused ever since I came to America. The loyalists called those who would not go with them traitors, and those who swore by the continental congress called their opponents traitors. Names are merely sound when they do not stand for principles."

"And what are your principles?" asked the major with a sneer.

"I love the country of my fathers, and therefore I opposed separation from it: I love my fellowmen and therefore shed no blood."

"You mean, you canting hypocrite, that you were too great a coward to fight to preserve the rights of your King to the ownership of the lands and people that were his"

"No King owns the land or people over whom he is set. He is only the head official of the government, and I hold, sir, that King George, in taking upon himself to insist that his wishes go before those of his parliament and ministers, is answerable for the loss of the thirteen provinces, and what is ever so much worse, for making men enemies whom, by speech and kindred, God meant to be brethren."

"That is worse than treason, that is blasphemy: what more have you to say?"

"That King George with his German ideas of royal rule and his wooden apprehension of passing events is accountable for the great crime of the century— the severance in anger of our race."

"Why, you are a philosopher. Go on"

"I speak from experience. I have been wakened at night by the howling of wolves as they prowled round our camp-fires, and could not sleep again for thinking how I might find food for the children and others entrusted to me. I have seen Whigs and Tories perpetrate deeds of cruelty upon each other that made my flesh creep. In the last seven years I have risked my life a hundred times in standing up for the Motherland. I have had my heart torn in twain and the joy of day turned into darkness, and why? Because an obstinate man with a crown on his head persisted in being blind to what everybody saw was inevitable, and which he himself last winter, when he could no longer help it, was forced to recognize, by acknowledging the independence of the United States."

"Spew out all your treason—you shall hang for this."

"If ever King betrayed his trust and brought untold and unspeakable suffering upon his people, it is George the Third. I have passed through the horrors and know whereof I speak. That he is a good man in private life and meant well, is no satisfaction to those who, by his conduct, have lost all they held dearest and, driven into exile, have to beg for bread."

"You shall beg for it in vain," interrupted the major, "but I shall provide a rope for your neck."

"I have seen men like you with the cant of loyalty continually in their mouths serve the cause of the enemy, by their greed for office, their exactions, their insulting claims to being better than their fellows, and to an exclusive loyalty. God save Canada from the breed who add office to office, make them hereditary, and, pretending they are the props of the empire, fatten on the people’s earnings! They helped to turn the thirteen provinces against British rule, and, unless kept down where they should be, will do the same here. I am no man-worshipper. Between one like yourself who makes loyalty stand for living on the public without serving it, lifting King George as your shield against complaint, and the American who makes a little god of Washington I see no difference."

"This is your dying speech: what more have you to say? The felon on the scaffold is heard to the end."

"That we sought out Canada in the belief that it was a land where men and women could enjoy what they earned in peace, where differences of opinion would not be made penal offences, where there would be no privileged class, and where the government would first consider the lot of the common people, whose labor maintains it, and not rule it according to the views of those who affect to be an aristocracy

and of the rich. I came hoping for that, and find in you a Jack-in-office-—."

"Dover," shouted the major, rising as if he would attack Morven, but quailed before his giant proportions. "Call Sergeant Grant."

On the sergeant’s appearing he was ordered to take Morven into custody and to hold him in close confinement until the boats left for Coteau: if he attempted to escape, to shoot him. To the sorrow of us all, and more to me who, standing near the door and hearing all that had passed, feared he was going to his death, Morven was taken away that afternoon. No word came back from Montreal, and the first we knew of what happened him was what he told us when he, at last, returned. He said little and did not care to tell of what he had undergone, but I made inquiry and learned what I here set down from those who knew. On arriving in Montreal he was put in jail. On the fourth day he was taken out of his cell, led through the streets by a file of soldiers to headquarters, and found himself in presence of Sir John Johnson. Asking the attendants to leave, no sooner had the last withdrawn than Sir John warmly grasped Morven’s hand and expressed his sorrow to find him in trouble. Then Morven told his story, from Hoover’s warning to the Highlanders to leave to their reception by Major Fenner. On hearing it, Sir John apologised to Morven for being kept a prisoner so long, explaining he was absent when his letter was delivered at his quarters. In the events of the journey over the Adirondack wilderness Sir John showed deep interest, for he had traversed it himself in flying to Canada with 200 followers in the spring of 1776, and, as he said, had suffered all save death. He wrote the order for Morven’s release and took him to the commissary, who paid him fifty guineas to buy whatever the refugees were most in need of. While waiting for a boat, he had frequent conversations with Sir John as to the best method of settling the loyalists, of whom over two thousand were in waiting. The boat that carried Morven brought a despatch to Major Fenner, ordering him to report at once at headquarters.

We were not idle while Morven was away, for Sergeant Grant carried out the plan he had suggested. The land had not been surveyed, and there was no prospect of lots being laid out for some time, for the crown land surveyors had begun at the foot of lake Ontario and were working eastward. The sergeant, as well as he could, staked off the lake front, allowing to each family what he considered would, when the surveyors came, secure a hundred acres, or double that, according to the depth they would make the lots. This was quickly done, and as each family was given its lot we started to work to make a clearance for a shanty. As we all worked together and had many good axmen, log-houses went up so quickly that by the time Morven returned he found seven. They were poor affairs, about the size of a big room, with sloping roofs, covered with slabs of bark, and chimneys made of poles plastered with clay, but they were homes, and proud was each family as it got one in turn. With our doings Major Fenner did not interfere, perhaps because the sergeant knew how to humor him. The major despised business and hated to be troubled about what he did not understand or care for. He spent his time fishing or hunting; on rainy days he played solitaire, with a bottle at his elbow. From the government storehouse Sergeant Grant, according to the instructions sent from Montreal, for each family drew 4 panes of glass and nails enough for frame and door. To make windows and doors Morven set to work, and the day after he came had a whip-saw going. It was the end of October before all were in their shanties, when a start was made to clear the land. At this all did not work. So long as the St. Lawrence was open many of the men earned wages by sailing the boats that were always passing between Coteau and Johnstown, for so our post came to be known, being named after Sir John Johnson. But the name did not continue, for it soon gave place to Cornwall. Others who were handy with tools were hired by the government on the erection of large buildings, for preparations had to be made for the settlers whom the spring would bring. With the last boat Sergeant Grant and the piper left to rejoin their regiment at Sorel, for altho it was disbanded, the men were in the barracks there and in that at Isle-aux-Noix, waiting until the spring, when they would come with their families to join us. When the river froze men went over to St. Regis and brought the two ponies we had left on the bank of Salmon river. Word had been sent the Indians on our arrival, and they had taken care of them, and we had prepared a stack of hay, cut in a beaver-meadow near one of the shanties. It was some time before they regained condition, but when they did they earned many a gold piece by carrying freight and passengers on the ice between Johnstown and Coteau. For food we did fairly well. Every quarter each family drew rations from the government store; mostly pork and biscuit, sometimes oatmeal and flour. The quality was not always good, the pork rusty, the biscuit maggoty, but we were thankful to get it. Deer were plentiful, and the Indians showed us how to cut holes in the ice and catch fish in the dead of winter. All the while, the clearances were growing larger and the felled trees rolled into heaps ready to be burned when spring came. It was a stormy cold winter, but we did not feel it as much as the winters after, for our shanties stood in the thick woods, which broke the blast. The end of March the Indians began to make sugar and we learnt from them and secured a little.

It was a late spring, and it was the third week in April when the ice left the St Lawrence, when preparations were started for receiving the discharged soldiers and their families. Our work was now disagreeable, burning the trees we had felled. As they were green, they burned imperfectly, and it was fullsome to gather and regather the partly consumed logs into heaps and set fire to them anew. The men who wielded the handspikes were half-naked, sweat furrowing channels through the soot that coated them, their eyes smarting from smoke. Seed potatoes, Indian corn, and turnip-seed, were supplied by the goverment, which were dibbled into the soil between the stumps with hoes.

With coming of spring we began to expect the arrival of refugees, like ourselves, from republican tyranny. It was not, however, until late in May that a letter came from Sir John Johnson ordering Morven to come to Montreal and lead the first party. As the boat that brought the letter would not go back for three days, Morven decided to go by canoe and told me to get ready. We left next morning, two Indians managing the canoe. When Coteau came in sight we got glimpses of the red coats of the soldiers, for it was a military post, with guns that commanded the channel of the river. Workmen were busy building storehouses, for trade had suddenly developed with the country to the west, and there was much coming and going. I had heard many tell of shooting the rapids, and now I was to experience the flight over them, with their thrill of danger. The trees, that clad shore and island, dipping their branches into the hurrying flood, were bursting into full leaf; above, the sky was mottled with fleecy clouds; it was, indeed, a glorious May day. In a few minutes we were at the head of the first rapid, which, to my alarmed glance, looked like a sheet of foam, with great billows tossing their crests, the spray glittering as it fell in showers in the dazzling sunlight. An Indian was at the bow with his paddle, the other at the stern —Morven and I lay low between them. In we dashed amid the roaring waters, were tossed wildly about for a few minutes, and, then, I was looking back from smooth water at the wild surges that sloped above us. My blood tingled with excitement, and I was now eager for the next rapid. It speedily came, and another, and another, until we leapt from the last on to the glassy bosom of lake St. Louis, along which we paddled until it grew dark, when we drew up to a house on the bank. We found the habitant and his family at supper, their sole dish one of bruised corn boiled in milk. We had brought our own provisions and after a hearty meal rested in the log stable to which we were made welcome. The Indians were stirring at the streak of day, Morven paid the habitant for his hospitality with a piece of pork, and the waters of the lake were crimsoning in the rising sun as we took our way to Lachine, of which I had heard much. It disappointed me, for it consisted of a few log huts and several long storehouses, filled with goods for the King’s posts. We parted with the Indians, who were at once hired for the return trip, and started for Montreal over a dreadful road, for such was the traffic that it was a succession of mudholes. Leaving me at an inn Morven waited on Sir John Johnson, who directed him to go to Chambly by one of the King’s boats that was to sail in the afternoon.

It was astonishing to me to find a good stone-fort at Chambly with a considerable force of soldiers, part in barracks and part in tents. Among them we had expected to find Sergeant Grant. He had gone to New York State to seek for his family and had not returned, but we got a hearty welcome from his companion, the piper. There were about fifty ready to go to their new homes, which the commandant of the fort said was too few, and to wait for more. In the days we were at Chambly we heard the stories of the refugees, and they were stories of cruelty and sore suffering. Several like ourselves had lived in the valley of the Mohawk. Because son or father had enlisted in the British army, they had their houses burned, everything they possessed seized, and themselves driven from their farms to shift as they might.

It was dark when the boats with a large party arrived from St. Johns. With them were Sergeant Grant and the members of his family. I listened while he told his experience to Morven and my cheeks were never dry. The sergeant had been a tenant of Sir John Johnson and enlisted in his regiment. When Johnson hall was robbed and burned by the republi cans he was among those who followed Sir John to Canada, and had served with him in all his raids. From the hour when he hurriedly bade his wife and children farewell, the sergeant had no word of them.

On peace being declared he had made enquiry without result, so, when raleased from duty at Cornwall, he had gone to the States in search of them. He found his wife in a small village on the Hudson, where she was keeping the body and soul of her younger children together by spinning. She told her husband that the night following the destruction of Johnson hall a band of Whigs came who turned herself and children out of their home and, after help-ing themselves to what they could carry away, set house and barn on fire. Their spoil they loaded in the cart that stood in the yard, to which they yoked the sergeant’s horse, and left driving his cattle before them. Before a match was put to the stable, the man who was in command told Mrs Grant the farm was confiscated, and she must not remain on it. Joining neighbors, who had been treated like herself, they took the Albany road, seeking work and shelter. So bitter was the feeling against the loyalists that several Whigs, altho those who asked for help were either very old or very young, all fit to carry a gun having gone to the war, refused even a crust to the babes crying from hunger, and drove them from their doors with curses and set the dogs upon them, while others took advantage of their necessities to hire them to work for a bare subsistence. Families thus got broken up, and in many instances members were lost sight of and never heard of again. The malignity of heartless men caused charges of giving information to the British army to be preferred against the wanderers, and white-haired fathers, who were innocent, were sent to prison and chained and kept through cold and heat until the set them free. Not a few died in prison. Mrs Grant tried to keep all her children together but was unable; the older ones went wherever work offered, until she was left with those of tender years. What she had endured, not only from want of food and shelter but from the cruel acts and crueller words of the people she had to live among, the sergeant had to guess, for she would not tell him all, How he found her I will relate in his own words:

"I had gone to every place where I supposed she might be, and each time was disappointed. I said to myself I will look another day and if I fail I will give up my search and go back to Canada, and the evening of the next day I would repeat the same words, yet, when morning came, start afresh in my weary hunt. I had come to a town on the Hudson, below Albany, and in the tavern had repeated my questions. One by one shook his head, when a farmer, going out at the door, to mount his wagon, cried there was a woman who spoke Highland talk at Moore's hollow. I jumped up to follow him, but the farmer was driving away, crackng his whip to hurry his horse. I had intended staying where I was that night, but could not rest. Told the road to take, I set out. The night was still and warm and the road bad, and longer than I expected, so it was dark when the lights of the little village came in view. I was tired and dispirited, when suddenly I heard singing. The sound came from a hut in a field I was passing. The tune I could not name, yet it made something within me dirl with long past memories. I jumped the fence and as I drew nearer the house it flashed on me the tune was the spinning-song I had heard when a boy my mother sing at her wheel. I listened closer, the words were Gaelic. My heart was bursting, for now I recognized my wife’s voice. The door was open, with no light. I rushed to the door with the cry, "Christy, I have come for you." The burr of the wheel ceased, there was a scream, and in a moment my wife was in my arms. Oh, Morven, I might live a hundred years and never have a thrill like that go through me. There was no candle in the house, so we lit some punk on the hearthstone, and my bairns came from their shakedowns on the floor to clasp my knees. All knew me except wee Sandy, who was a toddler when I left with the regiment, and he cried at the big, black man who wanted to cuddle him. There was delay in getting my three oldest children. They were here and there and their masters did not want to part with them at such short notice, and I had to forfeit their wages to get them away. When we were gathered together, and, God be praised, there was not one missing, we set out for lake Champlain, where the British government had arranged for the passage of loyalist refugees. The Americans we met on our way offered no opposition, being glad to see their country rid of Tories, though every one of my children had been born in America. On reaching the lake we found several families like ourselves, and not a few in worse plight, for, in going to Canada, they were leaving sons and daughters whom they could not find, were either dead or strayed afar without leaving a trace An old comrade of my own, who had accompanied me from Sorel to seek his family, had not discovered one of them, and was going back heart-broken and desolate. All he had learned was, that the year he had left her, his wife had died of fever in Albany. Others were more fortunate, and there had been reunions of fathers and sons, who had served in the army, with mothers and sisters, all the more joyous that they had never expected to meet again in this world. The sail up the lake ended at Ile-aux-Noix, where it was intended we should leave the boats and walk across the neck of land to Montreal. The road, however, was impassable from mud, and the boats were ordered to continue to Chambly."

Placed in charge of the party, Morven, with the aid of the military, speedily got all ready, and we sailed to Montreal, landing where there was a windmill. The walk to Lachine was hard, for we stumbled alongside a track of mud, laden with baggage and the children who were too young to get along. It was a relief when we reached the boats, of which there was quite a fleet in waiting. They were the same sort as the boats that had taken us from Salmon river to Cornwall—long and broad, sharp—pointed at each end, and too shallow, for they were flat-bottomed, to allow of any deck. The lake was rough and we could see rain was coming, but all were glad to get into them, for we sorely needed a rest. The wind being east, the boats cast off, hoisted sail, and made good speed, for by nightfall we reached the head of the lake, tying up at a point where there was a guard-house with a long log—storehouse, which, as it happened to be empty, was given for the Women and children as a shelter from the rain. The men spent the night in the boats or round the campfire, a big one being started. The rain ceased before daybreak and it was soon all bustle unloading the boats, while the women were cooking breakfast. The boats could only go up the rapids empty, so everybody fit to walk started on the road that ran along the river-bank and those who could, carried children or part of the lading of the boats. Being stronghanded, we could do all this and yet leave enough men to help at the tow-ropes. A few frail folk and women with infants were left in the boats. I would not have believed it possible to take a boat up the rapids had I not seen it. The way the task was managed was in this wise—two men were left in each boat, one to steer, the other at the bow with a long setting-pole to keep the boat’s head close to the bank. On the bank stool as many men as could be got, to whom a was passed, which they put over their shoulders, and, pulling with all their might, dragged the boat through the swirling current to the head of the rapid. There were four places where no strength of man could have pulled a boat, so wild and swift was the river, and at these places the British government had just completed cuts across the points with small locks to overcome the ascent. It was noon when we arrived at the Cedars, a village of a few log huts, and rested awhile and had dinner.

We needed both food and rest, for towing had proved exhausting to the toughest among us, not being used to it, and the sun all forenoon had beaten down with blistering heat. The boatmen telling us we had passed the worst, and a few hours more would see us on the lake, cheered us all in starting again. All went well with us and we had just overcome the Coteau, the last rapid, when what might have been a sad accident happened. It was at a point where the current is swift and sweeps out from the bank, that it took place, and it was to the boat Morven was helping to tow. The man at the bow had thrust his pike-pole to keep the boat from being swept into the cur-rent, when the pole snapped and he fell into the bottom of the boat, which, released from the pressure of the pole, swerved ontwards from the bank, jerking the men who had hold of its tow-rope off their feet.

Morven took in the danger at a glance. The bow of the boat was swinging outwards, and in another minute it would have been turned, and, rushing down stream, smashed into the boats that were behind. He plunged into the torrent, caught the bow of the boat and, bracing his feet on the rocks, held it until the man picked up the spare pole, and the men on the bank got on their feet and began pulling at the towrope with all their might. The excitement was all over in an instant, with Morven lying on the grass, with his breast throbbing with his exertion. We all agreed there was not another man in our company with the strength to do what he did or the courage that led him to attempt it. Soon after we moored at the Coteau, and saw we could go no farther, for there was a west wind, which had raised quite a sea. The boats could only use their sails in a fair wind, not being built for tacking, and it was too rough to row, so, reluctantly enough we had to wait overnight.

It was after supper, when we gathered on the green in front of the little fort, that a discussion took place which I, to whom was given the closing of this account of how the settlement of Glengarry started, think worth while setting down. It began with the remark of one of the number, that he did not think the government was doing all for us that we deserved; we had fought for the King and lost everything we possessed for doing so, and now were led into a wilderness where, unless we could live as did the wild beasts, for all he could see, we would perish. The man was a grumbler-born, but the next speaker was both a grumbler and a hypocrite, for he always put his complainings in pious words. "It is strange, indeed," he replied, "after all we have sufered Providence should be recompensing us with more suffering. Surely, the trials we have gone through deserved reward."

"Why, what right have you to expect reward? Was it not our own choice to take the loyalist side and we did so because we knew it was the right side. Nobody should complain who suffers in a good cause." It was Sergeant Grant who said this.

"Aye," interposed Ian McDonnell, "we fought because we did not want to be cut off from old Scotland, and, though beaten where we lived, we are going to secure our end here in Canada, which is British and we will hold against all-corners as British."

There was not one among the party more respected than Ronald Chisholm, whom we called "the elder," for he had been such in a church in Tryon county, and was the oldest man in our party. When he spoke we all listened. "The name of Providence is not to be lightly used. Who knows but, in his mysterious workings, we have been guided here to fulfil his designs, that in these woods we see on every side he means to raise a people who will serve him with a reverence and fear I saw not among the people who drove us from their midst. What do we know about our deservings, or who dare count his trials as something to be paid for? In all we have done we have followed the leadings of our consciences, and he who obeys the best light that is in him seeks neither recognition nor reward."

Sergeant Grant said it was not true the government had done little, for it had given the means to gather us from all over the States, had conveyed us so far on our journey, and, next day, would give to each family 200 acres of land and would supply provisions until crops were raised.

Morven said what the sergeant had told them was true and to pay no heed to grumblers. They were going to be given a chance to be independent, and if, in a few years, they were not as so many bonnetlairds, working the land they owned and calling no man master, it would be because they were lazy or shiftless. "You are given a great chance for yourselves and your children, and you may be sure this is going to be a great country, little as you may think of it just now." And then he sang a song which we called Morven’s song.

Britannia, from her island throne
Mark’d those who stood for her alone,
Who, rather than her rule deny,
Sought homes beneath the northern sky

We love her, we own her,
And for her we shall stand:
One in heart and mind
For Canada and Motherland.

When, ‘neath the woodsman’s sturdy stroke,
Our country fair to life awake,
No lordling dard to tithe her soils
It's fruits are free to all who toil.

We hold it, we keep it,
As Labor's honest fee;
A land forever open
To the peaceable and free.

Here Labor takes no scorn from Pride.
And here no class shall override,
For the people aye shall rule the State,
With Worth the title of their great.

We fear not, we crouch not,
To no man bend the knee;
True worth, good faith, and trust
Alone shall honor’d be.

While shrinking not when war is nigh,
May Peace abide, clear as our sky,
With calm Content, in Right secure;
Strong to defend, in purpose pure.

We wish it, we seek it
That Canada may be
A land of peace and plenty,
Goodwill and harmony.

O Thou! who never fail to shield
Those who to Thee their homage yield,
Be Thou our country’s guide and stay,
Her bulwark in the evil day.

We own Thee, we trust Thee,
In Hope we march along;
In faith we are building
Our country free and strong.

I have not set down all that was said, and more might have followed, had not the lads and lassies got the piper to tune up, and soon there were shouts and snappings of fingers as they danced reels and strathspeys, not forgetting the Highland fling.

Next morning, too soon we thought, for we were sore with fatigue, the bugle of the fort awoke us, and we got ready to finish our journey. The lake was calm; not a breath of wind. After breakfast, the boats were filled, and off we set with oars flickering in the sunshine and beating music to the forest that we swept by. We had to row all the way. There being plenty to relieve at the oars we made good speed up lake St. Francis, and when Cornwall was sighted we could see a bit of red, which we knew to be our flag, going to the masthead, and make out people hurrying from every quarter to receive us. Next came the log houses of Morven’s party, peeping out from amid the woods, and from the bank in front of one of these shanties darted a canoe paddled by a young maid who shouted her welcome, which we returned with a roar that made the lake echo again and again. Everyone of us took it as an omen of good luck that so fair and pure a creature should have been the first to greet us. And now we saw boats hastening all along the shore and from Cornwall itself to meet us, and our piper played and we shouted and cheered, and the blood coursed wildly in our veins, and we forgot the past in the joy of the moment, the palest cheek flushing and the most mournful face smiling. When we landed, what a shaking of hands and cries of welcome and mingling of tears of joy with laughter! How can I tell it all? I cannot, it was a day never to be forgotten. They had dinner ready and would have killed us with kindness had we eaten all they pressed upon us.

All Morven told the new comers the government would do for them was fulfilled. Each family was given land, with tools to clear it, help to build houses, and food to keep them until they could do for themselves. The choice, of course, was for lots along the water front, and before long there was a string of shanties extending from river Beaudette to far above the Soo rapids. Those who settled beside us were Highlanders with few exceptions. None, however, were from our part of Scotland, but from farther north, Glengarry and Lochaber. I might tell of our first schoolmaster, our first preacher, our first road and our first mill, of our steady progress in comfort, but that has nothing to do with the story of how our people left Scotland, and how, after enduring many afflictions in what is now the United States, they sought, by wandering through a dreadful wilderness, homes in Canada. And we found homes there, happy, contented homes, where peace and modest plenty prevail, homes where warm Highland hearts beat, homes where the stranger finds a Highland welcome and that is all there is any call to tell about.

It was in June, 1785, that Morven startled us by saying he was about to leave for Scotland. When Major Fenner sent him prisoner to Montreal he made inquiry about the family of Miriam, for it was his intention to have them join our settlement and to make his home with them. Following up some word he got, he went to Ile-aux-Noix, where he learned the boat they had embarked on to sail up lake Champlain to Canada had been caught in a squall, upset, and all drowned, except one of the boatmen, who clung to the wreck. It was this man who told him so there was no room for doubt. It was then a crav ing came upon him to see Scotland, and before he left Montreal he wrote to the minister in whose house he had lived when a lad. Next summer a letter reached him. It was not from the minister, for he had died, but from his widow. She was rejoiced, she wrote. to hear from him, and to learn of the people who went with him. A lawyer in edinburgh had written her about him, asking if she could give any information of the whereabouts of Morven, for he had fallen heir to what a client of his had willed him. His only aunt, the aged widow of a writer to— the signet, was dead. and had left everything to him It was not a great deal, a house and a few hundred

pounds, but enough to make it worth his while to go and claim. He spoke not of it at the time, for he would not leave until he saw we were able to do for ourselves and there was a prospect of a good crop. So, with the last ship of the spring fleet, he sailed from Montreal, and we sorrowed for him as we would for the loss of a father. We heard not from him for a year. He had reached Edinburgh, made good his claim, and then went to visit the ministers widow. He told how the island we had been torn from was given up to pasture, its only inhabitant the lowlander who attended the sheep, and he knew nothing of the past, not even the name of the island. The crofters on the mainland were all gone - grassy spots in the heather the only mark of where their cottages had stood. He had sought out the hearth stones round which he had spent many a happy winter’s evening, recalled the kindly faces he knew so well, and left with a sore heart. As for himself, he had sold the house in Edinburgh, and with its price, together with what money had been willed him, had bought a cabinet- maker’s shop in Glasgow. Adopting American methods he had extended the busi ness and was sure he was going to do well. To show he had not forgotten us, he sent a spinning-wheel for each widow in the settlement, a big roll of tartan to make dresses for girls under ten, and a plaid for each of the young women, whom he knew, when he left, were going to be married when our second crop was reaped. That was not the last time he remembered us by word and gift. He sent money to take Tim to Glasgow. We knew why he wanted him beside him—he was the last link that joined his memory to Miriam.


Return to Book Index Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast