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Book of Scottish Story
How I won the Laird's Daughter


Chapter 1

SOON after I had obtained my diploma, and was dubbed M.D., an opening for a medical practitioner occurred in the pleasant village of St Dunstan, situated on the beautiful banks of the Tweed. Knowing well that I might be forestalled by a day's delay, I bundled up my testimonials and letters of recommendation, and departed at once for the scene of action. The shadows of a calm October evening were drooping over the Eildon Hills, and the Tweed was murmuring peacefully along its winding course, when I entered the principal street of the village, and took up my quarters at the inn. After refreshing myself with such entertainment as the house afforded, I called in the landlord, told him the object of my visit, and inquired if any other medical gentlemen had yet made their appearance. Mine host was a canny, cautious Scotsman, and manifested due deliberation in a matter of so much moment. Me surveyed me quietly for a short time, and did not reply until he seemed satisfied with his scrutiny.

"Na, sir." he said at length; "ye're the first that's come to the toun yet, and a' the folk are wearying for anither doctor. Ye see, we canna tell what may happen. The shoemaker's wife took unco onweel last nicht, and, frail as he is himsel, puir man, he had to gang a' the way to Melrose for medical advice. Ye look young like, sir; hae ye been in ony place afore?"

"No," I replied; "it is not very long since I passed."

"Ay, weel, that's no sae gude; we rather like a skeely man here. Dr Sommerville had a great deal o' experience, and we were a' sorry when he left for Glasgow."

"I am glad that the good people of St Dunstan liked their last doctor so well," I rejoined, somewhat nettled at the plain-spokenness of the worthy landlord of the Cross-Keys. "But although my youth may be against me," I continued, "here are some testimonials which I hope may prove satisfactory, and I have several letters of recommendation besides to gentlemen in the village and neighbourhood."

The landlord was a person whom I saw that it was necessary to gain over. He was vastly pleased when I recognised his importance by producing my testimonials for his inspection. It was amusing to observe the gravity and dignity with which he adjusted his spectacles across the bridge of his nose, and proceeded to carefully inspect the documents. At intervals as he read he gave such running comments as "gude —"very glide"— "excellent"—"capital sir, capital!" I was glad to see the barometer rising so rapidly. After mine host had finished the perusal of the papers, he shook me heartily by the and, and said, "You're the very man we want, sir; ye hae first-rate certificats."

So far, so good. It was a great tiling to have gained the confidence and goodwill of one important personage, and I felt desirous to make further conquests that evening.

"Do you think I might venture to call to-night upon any of the parties in the village to whom I have letters of recommendation?" I inquired.

"Surely, surely," responded the landlord; "the sooner the better. Just read me ower their names, sir, and I'll tak ye round to their houses. We hae a better chance o' gettin' them in at nicht than through the day."

Accompanied by the lord of the Cross-Keys, I accordingly visited the leading inhabitants of the village, and made wha! an expectant member of Parliament would consider a very satisfactory canvass. I was received with much courtesy and civility; and the minister of the parish, to whom I had a letter of introduction from a brother clergyman in Edinburgh, paid me the most flattering attentions, and pressed me to take up my abode immediately at St Dunstan. The ladies, married and unmarried, with whom I entered into conversation, were all unanimous in expressing their desire that I should remain in their midst. Indeed, I have observed that the female sex invariably take the greatest interest in the settlement of ministers and doctors. I could easily understand why the unmarried ladies should prefer a single gentleman like myself; but I could not comprehend at the time why their mothers seemed to lake so much interest in a newly-fledged M.D. It struck me that the landlord of the inn must have committed a great mistake in describing Dr Sommerville as the favourite of all classes.

From many of the people upon whom we called I received kind invitations to spend the night in their houses, and I could have slept in a dozen different beds if I had felt so inclined; but I preferred returning to the Cross-Keys, that, like the Apostle, I might be bur densome to none. It is a piece of worldly prudence to give as little trouble as possible to strangers; and medical practitioners, of all men in the world, require to be wary in their ways, and circumspect in their actions.

On our return to the inn, the landlord appeared to regard my settlement in St Dunstan as a certainty.

"Ye've got on grandly the nicht, Dr Wilson," he said, dropping the "sir" when he considered me almost installed in office. "Ye've carried everything afore ye—I never saw the like o't. Ye hae got the promise o' practice frae the hale lot o' them— that's to say, when they need the attendance o' a medical man; and, 'od doctor, but the womenkind are aften complainin'."

"Well, Mr Barlas," I said (such was the landlord's name), "I have experienced much kindness and civility, and in the course of a few hours I have far outstripped my expectations. If I only succeed as well with the ladies and gentlemen in the neighbourhood, I will not hesitate for a moment in settling down in the midst of you."

"There's nae danger o' that, doctor. What's sauce or senna for the goose is sauce or senna for the gander. I've seen aften eneuch that the grit folk are no sae ill to please as the sma'. If ye get ower the Laird,—an' I think ye've as gude a chance as ony ither body,—ye needna fear muckle for the rest."

"And who is the Laird, Mr Barlas?" I asked.

"Oh, just the Laird, ye ken—Laird Ramsay o' the Haugh; ye'll surely hae heard o' him afore you cam south?"

"Ramsay," I said; "Ramsay—oh, yes,—I have a letter of introduction to a gentleman of that name from a professor in Edinburgh. Does he rule the roast in this neighbourhood?"

"I'll tell you aboot him i* the noo; but wait a wee, doctor, till I bring ye something warm."

I did not disapprove of the medicine proposed by the host of the Cross-Keys of St Dunstan, as I was anxious to know as much as possible about the place and people; and the influence of hot punch in making even silent persons communicative is quite proverbial. Mr Barlas, after a brief absence, returned to the snug little parlour, bearing his own private blue bottle, capable, I should think, of holding a good half-gallon of Islay or Glenlivet; and we were soon sitting comfortably, with steaming tumblers before us, beside a blazing fire.

"This is something social like, noo, doctor," said the composed and considerate landlord. "Ye were wantin' to hear aboot the Laird. Weel, I'll tell ye what sort o' a being he is, that ye may be on your guard when ye gang to the Haugh the morn. Laird Ramsay has mair gear, doctor, than ony half-dozen o' his neighbours for mony miles roond, and he's a queer character wi'd a'. He's unco auld-fashioned for a man in his station, an' speaks muckle sic like as ye hear me speakin' i' the noo. He gets the name o' haudin' a gude grip o' his siller; but I've nae reason to compleen, as he spends freely eneuch when he comes to the Cross-Keys, no forgettin' the servant-lass and the ostler; an' I ken for a fac' that he slips a canny shillin' noo and again into the loofs o the puir folk o' St Dunstan. He's unco douce and proud,—ye micht maist say saucy,—until ye get the richt side o' him, an' then he's the best o' freends; an' nane better than the Laird at a twa-handed crack."

"And how do you get to the right side of him, Mr Barlas?" I interjected.

"That's the very thing I was gaun to tell ye, doctor. Lay on the butter weel. Butter him on baith sides, an' then ye easy get to the richt side. Praise his land, his craps, his nowte, his house, his garden, his Glenlivet, his everything; but tak care what ye say o' his dochter to his face."

"The Laird has got a daughter, then, it seems?"

"Ay, that he has, an' a comely quean she is ; but he'll be a clever man wha can rin awa wi' her frae the Haugh. The Laird just dotes upon her, an' he wouldna pairt wi' her for love or siller. If she has a sweetheart, I'm thinkin' he'll need to sook his thoomb, an' bide a wee."

In answer to my inquiries the landlord informed me that Miss Jessie Ramsay was the Laird's only daughter, and that her mother had been dead for several years. His information and anecdotes regarding the eccentric character of the old-fashioned proprietor of the Haugh, excited my curiosity so much that I resolved to pay him an early visit on the following day. After sitting for an hour or two, during which time Mr Barlas became more and more loquacious, I seized the first favourable opportunity to propose an adjournment, and receiving the reluctant assent of mine host, I retired to rest, and slept soundly in spite of all the crowing cocks of St Dunstan.

In the rooming the tidings were through the whole village that a new doctor had come, and several people became suddenly unwell, for the express purpose, I presume, of testing my skill. Three urgent cases I found to be ordinary headache, and, fearing lest my trip to the Haugh might be delayed for two weeks, I hired the best hack the Cross-Keys could afford, and made off for the domicile of the eccentric Laird. The owner of the hack was very anxious to accompany me, but I preferred making the excursion alone. The weather was mild and delightful; the trees seemed lovelier in decay than in the fulness of summer life; and the Tweed flowed and murmured softly as the waters of Siloah. Half-an-hour's riding brought me to the Haugh—an ancient edifice embosomed among trees. In the prime of its youth it would doubtless be considered a splendid mansion ; but in its old age it had an ungainly appearance, although not altogether destitute of a certain picturesque air. After disposing of my hack to a little Jack-of-all-work urchin, who was looking about for some work to do, or meditating mischief, I knocked at the door, and was ushered, by an old serving-woman, into a quaint apartment, crammed with antique furniture. The mantelpiece absolutely groaned under its load of ornaments, while a great spreading plume of peacock's feathers waved triumphantly over all. This must be the Laird's fancy, I thought, and not the taste of Miss Jessie. Several pictures illustrative of fox-hunting, and two portraits, adorned the walls. None of them could be considered as belonging to any particular school, or as masterpieces in art. On the window-blinds a besieging force was represented as assaulting a not very formidable castle.

While I sat amusing myself with the oddities of the apartment, the door opened, and the Laird entered. He was a gray-haired, ruddy-faced, shrewd-looking man of fifty or thereabouts. I was rather taken with his dress. He wore a blue coat of antique cut, knee breeches, long brown gaiters with metal buttons, and his vest was beautified with perpendicular yellow stripes. There was an air of dignity about him when he entered as though he were conscious that he was Laird of the Haugh, and that I had come to consult him about some important business. Being a Justice of the Peace, as I afterwards learned, he probably wished to impress a stranger with a sense of his official greatness. I did not know very well whether to address him as Mr Ramsay or the "Laird;" but he relieved me of the difficulty by saying in broad Scotch, "This is a grand day, sir; hae ye ridden far?"

"No," I replied, "only from St Dunstan."

"Just that—just that," said the Laird, with a peculiar tone. "I thocht as much when I met the callant Ieadin' awa the Cross-Key's charger,—puir beast!"

I handed the Laird the letter of introduction which I had received from one of the medical professors in Edinburgh-He read it very slowly, as though he were spelling and weighing every word, and he had perused it twice from beginning to end before he rose and welcomed me to the Haugh.

"He's a clever man, that professor," quoth Laird Ramsay; "an' he speaks o' ye, doctor, in a flattering way; but the proof o' the puddin' is the preein' o't, ye ken. Ye've shown some spunk in comin' sae quick to St Dunstan; but ye're young eneuch to be on your ain coat-tail yet."

"We must begin somewhere and sometime, Mr Ramsay," I rejoined.

"Ye're richt there," answered the Laird; and then added with a chuckle, "but patients dinna like to be made victims o'. However, we'll think aboot that. Ye'll be none the worse o' something to eat and drink, I'm thinkin'; an' to tell the truth, I want to weet my ain whistle."

So saying, the Laird o' the Haugh rose and rang the bell, and told the old serving-woman, the handmaiden of the household, to bid Jessie speak to him. In a short time Jessie, a tall, handsome, hearty, fresh-coloured, black-haired beauty, came tripping into the room. The Laird was not very ceremonious so far as the matter of introduction was concerned, but Jessie was one of those frank girls who can introduce themselves, and make you feel perfectly at home at once. The father and daughter were evidently strongly attached to each other.

"Bring us some wine first, like a gude lass," said the Laird, "an' then we'll tak something mair substantial when ye're ready."

Jessie, like a dutiful daughter, placed the decanters and glasses on the table. There was an elxsticity in her step, a grace in her every motion, and an irresistible charm in her frank and affectionate smile. The Laird did not seem altogether to relish the manner in which my eyes involuntarily followed her movements; and remembering what mine host of the Cross-Keys had told me on the previous night, I resolved to be as circumspect as possible, both in look and word. The laird o' the Haugh pledged the young doctor, and the young doctor pledged the Laird. Meanwhile, Jessie had disappeared to look after the substantials. A glass or two of his capital wine warmed Laird Ramsay into a fine conversational mood. and we got on famously together. After dinner, when the punch was produced. our intimacy increased, and I began to love the eccentric Laird for the sake of his beautiful and accomplished daughter. I discovered that he had a hearty relish for humorous stories and anecdotes, and I plied him with them in thick succession, until the fountain of laughter ran over in tears. I was determined to take the old gentleman by storm, and Miss Jessie, with quick feminine instinct, appeared to be more than half aware of my object. However, I carefully abstained from exciting his suspicion by conversing directly with Jessie, even when he appeared to be in the most genial and pleasant mood.

The evening was pretty far advanced when I left his hospitable board. "Mind, you're to be the doctor o' St Dunstan," he said, as I mounted the Cross-Key's charger. "We'll hae nae-body but yoursel, an' ye mun be sure an' come back soon again to the Haugh." I rode home to mine inn fully resolved to locate myself in the village, and firmly persuaded that if I had not captivated the Laird's daughter, I had at least conquered the Laird himself.

Chapter II.

"Weel, doctor, is it a' richt wi' the Laird?" inquired Mr Barlas when I returned to the Cross-Keys.

"Yes," I rejoined, "it's all right.

Laird Ramsay is now my warmest and staunchest supporter, and a most companionable old gentleman he is."

"I never heard the like o' that," said the landlord, lifting up his eyebrows in astonishment. "'Od, doctor, ye're jist like that auld Roman reiver, Caesar, wha gaed aboot seein' and conquerin'. Ye hae a clear coast noo, when ye hae gotten the gudewill o' the Laird and the minister. An' what think ye o' the dochter? Isna she a comely lass, Miss Ramsay?"

"She is, indeed, Mr Barlas," I replied. "The young lady seems to do her best to make her father feel happy and comfortable, and I have no doubt that many ' braw wooers' will frequently find their way to the Haugh."

"Na, doctor, na. As I tell't ye afore, the Laird is unco fond o' Miss Jessie, an' I dinna believe he would pairt wi' her to the best man i' the kintra-side. But ye hae sic an uncommon power o' comin' roond folk that I wouldna wonner to see ye tryin't yersel."

"Stranger things have happened, Mr Barlas," I rejoined. "Meantime, my mind is made up to settle down in St Dunstan. I like the place and the people, the Eiklon Hills, the Tweed, and Laird Ramsay."

"No to speak o' his dochter," interjected mine host with a knowing look.

"But where," I continued, "am I to take up my quarters?"

"Ye needna put yersel in a peck o' troubles aboot that, doctor. There's Dr Sommerville's cottage just waitin' for ye alang the road a bit. It's a commodious hoose, wi' trees roond it an' a bonny garden at the back, slopin' to the south. Dr Sommerville was fond o' flowers, an' I never saw a pleasanter place than it was in simmer. But the fac' is, ye'll hae to tak it, doctor, because there's no anither hoose to let in the hale toun."

"Such being the case, Mr Barlas, there is no choice, and the matter is settled."

"Just that—just that," responded the worthy landlord, and then added, with an eye to business, "Ye can mak the Cross-Keys yer home till ye get the cottage a' painted an' furnished to your mind."

"So be it, Mr Barlas; and now that the house is settled, what about a housekeeper? Was Dr Sommerville married?"

"Married? of course, he was married, an' had lots o' weans to the bargain. But just try yer hand wi' Miss Ramsay. I would like grand to see ye at that game, doctor."

"Nonsense," I rejoined. "I do not want to steal the Laird's ewe-lamb, and break with him at the very commencement of my course. Is there no quiet, decent, honest body about St Dunstan who would make a good and active housekeeper?"

"They're a* honest an' decent the-gither, except it be twa or three o' the canglin' mugger folk wha mend auld pans and break ane anither's heads-Let me see—stop a wee—ou, ay—I have ye noo, doctor; there's Mrs Johnston—a clean, thrifty, tidy woman o' forty or thereabouts ; she'll fit ye to a T, an' keep yer hoose like a new leek. Her gudeman was an elder; but he look an inward trouble aboot a year syne, an' a' the skill o' Doctor Sommerville couldna keep his life in when his time was come. I'll speak to Mrs Johnston the morn, so ye can keep yer mind easy aboot a housekeeper."

"We're getting on famously, Mr Barlas. The house and housekeeper are both disposed of. What next?"

"What next, doctor? The next thing, I'm thinkin', 'ill be a horse. Folk will be sendin' for ye post-haste to gang sax or seven miles awa, an' ye canna get on without a beast. Are ye onything skeely in horseflesh?"

"No," I replied, "not particularly. I would require to purchase a horse by proxy."

This reply appeared to give mine host considerable satisfaction. After a brief pause he said, "Weel, doctor, what think ye o' the beastie that took ye to the Haugh the day? It's fine an' canny, an' free frae a' kind o' pranks. It would never fling ye aff an' break your banes when ye were gaun to mend ither folk's bodies. It'll no cost ye muckle siller, and ye'll get a capital bargain wi' the beast."

I could not help smiling when the landlord detailed the excellent qualities of the Rosinante of the Cross-Keys— the superb steed which excited the compassion of Laird Ramsay.

"It is an admirable animal, Mr Barlas," I replied, always careful to avoid giving offence; "but the truth is, there is a friend of mine in Edinburgh who is great in horses, and who would never forgive me if I did not permit him to make the selection and the purchase."

"Vera weel, doctor — vera well," rejoined the landlord, professing contentment, although apparently somewhat chagrined. "Ye may get a stronger and mair speerity beast; but, tak my word for't, ye'll no get ane to answer yer purpose better. It's an cxtraordinar' sensible animal, an' kens a' the roads aboot the kintra-side. In the darkest winter nicht ye micht fling the bridle on its neck, and it would bring ye hame to St Dunstan safe an' soond. Ye can tak anither thocht about it, doctor, an' I mun awa an' gie the beast its supper."

A few weeks after the above confab with the sagacious landlord of the Cross-Keys, I was quietly domiciled in Oak-bank Cottage, on the outskirts of St Dunstan, and had commenced the routine work of a medical practitioner. Mrs Johnston was duly installed as housekeeper; and a capital riding-horse, which Mr Barlas was compelled to allow "micht do," arrived from the metropolis. I liked my cottage very much. It stood apart from the public road, and was quiet and secluded rows of poplar trees surrounded the green, and flower pots in front, and a tall beechen-hedge girdled on all sides the sloping garden in the rear. The high banks of the Tweed, adorned with many-tinted foliage, swept along close at hand, and the strong deep gush of that noble river was borne abroad on every swell of wind. Oakbank Cottage was, in my estimation, the sweetest residence in and around St Dunstan; and as I, like my predecessor, was fond of floriculture, I resolved to make the place look like a little paradise when the spring and summer months came round again. I was not long in getting into a good practice. There was not much opposition from other gentlemen in the district, and many miles I rode both by night and by day. It always vexed the heart of my worthy housekeeper, Mrs Johnston, when a special messenger called me away to a distance after nightfall, and there was no end to the instructions she gave me—M.D. though I was—about the best means of preventing sore throats and rheumatisms. Mrs Johnston had never listened to the learned prelections of medical professors at any of our universities; nevertheless, like many other sensible and sedate women, in her own sphere of life, she had managed to pick up no inconsiderable amount of sound medical knowledge.

I was soon on the best of terms with all the people of the village, for it will generally be found that while a clergyman has admirers and detractors among his own hearers, a doctor who is gifted with a modicum of amiability can easily make himself a favourite with all classes. Of course, when any person dies, the friends of the deceased will not unfre-quently declaim against the imperfection of the medical treatment; but grumblings such as these are natural and pardonable, and fail to shake the general esteem in which the practitioner is held. The minister of the parish was a frequent visitor at Oakbank, and in order to strengthen our good fellowship, I became a member of his congregation. He was an upright and honest-hearted man, although somewhat too polemical for my taste. I used to think that he was in the habit of airing his argumentative speeches in my presence before he delivered himself of them at Presbytery meetings.

None of the people in the district seemed better satisfied than Laird Ramsay o' the Haugh that I had located myself in St Dunstan. He called one day at Oakbank, soon after my settlement, just as I was preparing to set out on a rural ride. The Laird was attired in the ordinary dress which he wore at the Haugh. The brown hat, the blue antique coat, the knee-breeches, the long gaiters, and the yellow-striped vest, seemed to form a part of his eccentric character.

"Gude day t'ye, Dr Wilson—gude day," said the Laird, as he shook me by the hand. "What way hae ye been sae lang in comin' ower my way? I'm wearyin' sair to get anither firlot o' yon queer humoursome stories oot o' ye. Can ye come ower to the Haugh the morn, and tak a bit check o' dinner wi' some freends that I'm just on the road to inveet to meet you, doctor?"

"It will afford me much pleasure, Mr Ramsay."

"That's richt—that's richt. Gie a' yer patients a double dram o' medicine the day, an' that'll save ye trouble the morn. I'll no deteen ye langer i' the noo, since I see ye're for takin' the road. Man, doctor, that's a capital horse ye've gotten. I'll try ye a steeplechase some day, auld as I am."

Next day I did not forget to mount my horse, which I had christened Prince Charlie, and ride over to the Haugh. It was more the desire to meet again the handsome and black-haired Jessie, than the expectation of a good dinner,— in which the laird was said to excel, that made me keep my appointment with scrupulous care, although two or three of my distant patients thereby missed an expected visit. I found a goodly company assembled in the Laird's old-fashioned mansion. Several neighbouring lairds with their wives were present, my excellent friend the minister of the parish, and some of the "chief men" of St Dunstan. A few young ladies graced the company; but it struck me as something singular that I was the only young gentleman who had been honoured with an invitation. Does the Laird really think, I asked myself, that he will keep away the dangerous disease of love from his charming daughter's heart by excluding chivalrous youths from his dinner-table? What intense selfishness there may be in the warmest paternal affection ! Nor was selfishness altogether absent from my own heart. I began to feel a kind of secret satisfaction that the coast was clear, and that undivided attentions could be given and received. Jessie was all smiles, grace, and beauty; and before dinner was finished, I was more than charmed—I was bewitched with her manners and conversation. When the ladies retired from table I endeavoured, as on the former occasion, to keep the Laird o' the Haugh in good humour, being now determined, for a particular reason, to rise rather than fall in his estimation. When the minister introduced polemics I flung out a shower of puns; when oxen became the topic I spiced the talk with some racy stories. The ruse succeeded. Between the strong waters and the stories, Laird Ramsay was elevated into a hilarious region, and he would have forgiven his worst enemy on the spot. He was not aware that I was playing with him and upon him for a purpose. When my stock was getting exhausted I started the minister on his everlasting expedition to Rome, and managed, at the commencement of his narrative, to escape from table unperceived. I was not particularly anxious to "join the ladies;" but I was excessively desirous to have, if possible, some private conversation with Jessie Ramsay. There could be no denying the fact that I—the young medical practitioner of St Dunstan— had fallen in love, how or why it boots not to inquire, with the beautiful daughter of the Laird o' the Haugh. I felt it through every vein of my body, and every fibre of my heart, and I fondly imagined from sundry stealthy glances and sweet suggestive smiles that the dear creature had perceived and reciprocated my attachment. The golden silence of love is the highest eloquence, and the most entrancing song. As good luck and favouring fortune would have it, I had no sooner left the dining-hall than the object of my adoration came tripping down stairs alone. In looking over the drawing-room window a rich flower from her lustrous hair had fallen to the ground, and the lovely creature was now hastening to secure the lost treasure. Here was an opportunity little anticipated, but long remembered. It was impossible that I could be so ungallant as allow her to search for the fallen flower by herself, and we therefore went out into the open air together. There was no moon, but the stars were shining full and brilliant in the firmament. Tall holly bushes and other shrubs surrounded the house within the outer circle of trees. The only two sounds I distinctly heard were the beating of my heart, and the humming sound of the minister's voice as he narrated the incidents of his pilgrimage to the Eternal City. I blessed the good man for his unconscious kindness in granting me this opportunity. Jessie and I proceeded to the place where the flower was supposed to be. I saw it at once, and she saw it at once; but both of us pretended that we had not seen it, and so the sweet search continued. Need I describe, O amiable reader!

how in searching and stooping I felt the touch of her ringleted hair, the warmth of her breath, the delicate softness of her cheek, and imbibed the honey-balm of her lips? At last the flower was found,—I blessed it unaware, —and, under the starlight, replaced it on that lovely head from which it had not been untimely plucked, but had most opportunely fallen.

We returned to the house undiscovered. The Laird, I knew, was in that pleased and placid state when he could have listened for many hours to the Man of the Moon describing the incidents of his celestial travels and the wonders he had seen from his specular tower. I parted with Jessie at the foot of the staircase, pressed her soft warm hand, and re-entered the room which I had rather unceremoniously left. The minister had got upon the Pope, and all the symptoms of "tired nature" were apparent on the faces of most of the listeners. They had the look of a congregation when the thirteenth "head" is being propounded with due deliberation from the pulpit. The Laird had not seen me depart, but he saw me enter. He evidently placed in me the most implicit reliance, and there was no suspicion in his look.

"Hae ye been snuffin' the caller air, doctor?" he inquired.

I answered in the affirmative with a look of perfect innocence, and then the Laird added, wishing apparently to cut short the minister's harangue, "Ay, weel, let's join the leddies noo."

After that evening I was a frequent and welcome visitor at the Haugh. Prince Charlie soon knew the way to his own stall in the Laird's stables. Some golden opportunities occurred when the Laird was absent for interviews and conversations with Jessie. We plighted our mutual troth, and were devoted to each other heart and soul. The one grand difficulty in the way of our happiness was the removal of the Laird's scruples with regard to the marriage of his daughter. At last, when jogging leisurely homeward to Oakbank one evening, I hit upon a scheme which ultimately resulted in complete success, and gave me possession of the being whom I loved dearer than life.

A wealthy and winsome widow lady resided in the neighbourhood of St Dunstan, and the project entered my brain to make her believe that Laird Ramsay had some notions of her, and also to make him believe that she had a warm side of her heart to him. If I could only get the Laird to marry the widow, I knew that Jessie would soon thereafter be mine. The Laird was open to flattery; he was fond of what Mr Barlas called "butter;" and I did not despair of being able to make him renew his youth. Tact was required in such a delicate undertaking, and I resolved to do my spiriting gently. I began with the Laird first one evening when he was in his mellow after-dinner state. I praised the graces and winsome ways of Mrs Mackinlay, and drew from the Laird the confession that he thought her a "very gude and sociablelike leddy." I then tried a few dexterous passes before hinting that she had a warm side to the Laird o' the Haugh.

"Ye dinna mean to say that Mrs Mackinlay is castin' a sheep's e'e at me, do ye, doctor?"

"I can assure you, Mr Ramsay," I rejoined, "that she speaks of you always with great respect, and seems to wonder why you do not honour her with a visit occasionally."

"Ay, doctor, it's queer what way I never thocht o' that. She's a sensible leddy after a', Mrs Mackinlay. I think I could do worse than look ower at her hoose some o' these days."

"It's the very thing you ought to do, Mr Ramsay," I replied. "You will find her company highly entertaining. She has an accumulated fund of stories and anecdotes."

"Has she, doctor?—has she? Weel, I'll gang; but what would Jessie say, I wunner?"

I had now put the Laird on the right scent, and I tried my best also with Mrs Mackinlay. I made her aware of the Laird's intended visit, and hinted tenderly its probable object. After a lengthened conversation, in which I exercised all the ingenuity I possessed, I left her with the impression on my mind that Laird Ramsay's addresses when he called would be met half-way. The meeting did take place—it was followed by another and another—and the upshot of the matter was that the eccentric Laird and the wealthy widow were duly wedded, to the astonishment of the whole district. I allowed six months of their wedded bliss to slip past before I asked the Laird's consent to have Jessie removed from the Haugh to Oakbank. A sort of dim suspicion of the whole affair seemed to cross the Laird's mind when I addressed him. A pawky twinkle lit up his eye as he replied, "Ah, ye rogue!—tak her, an' my blessin' alang wi' her. Ye ken whaur to look for a gude wife, an' I daursav ye'Il no mak the warst o' gudemen. Thus I won the Laird's daughter, and the paradise of Oakbank, in the village of St Dunstan, was complete in happiness.


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