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Book of Scottish Story
The Flitting


It was on the day before the flitting, or removal, that John Armour’s farm-stock, and indeed everything he had, excepting as much as might furnish a small cottage, was to he rouped. - to meet his debts. No doubt it was a heart-rending scene to all the family, though his wife considered all their losses light, when compared with her husband’s peace of mind. The great bustle of the sale, however, denied him the leisure which a just view of his condition made most to be dreaded; so that it was not till late in the evening, when all was quiet again,—his cherished possessions removed, and time allowed him to brood over his state,—that the deep feelings of vexation and despair laid hold of his spirit.

The evening was one of remarkable beauty; the birds never more rapturous, the grass never greener around the farmhouse. The turf seat on which old Hugh was wont to rest, in the corner of the little garden, was white with gowans; the willows and honeysuckles that overarched it all full of life; the air was bland, the cushat’s distant cooing very plaintive;—all but the inhabitants of the humble ,dwelling was tranquil and delighted. But they were downcast; each one pursued some necessary preparation for tomorrow’s great change, saying little, but deeply occupied with sad thoughts. Once the wife ejaculated—

"Oh, that the morn was ower!"

"Yes," said her husband, "the morn, and every morn o’ them!—but I wish I this gloaming had been stormy?

He could not settle—he could not eat—he avoided conversation; and, with his hat drawn over his brow, he traversed wearily the same paths, and did over and over again the same things. It was near bedtime, when one of the children said to her mother—

"My faither’s stan’in’ at the corner o’ the stable, and didna speak to me when I spak to him ;—gang out, mother, and bring him in.”

"If he wad but speak to me !” was the mother’s answer. She went out,—the case had become extreme,—and she ventured to argue with and reprove him.

"Ye do wrang, John—this is no like yoursel ;—the world’s fu’ of affliction—ithers ken that as weel as you—ye maunna hae a’ things your ain way: there’s Ane abune us wha has said, ‘In sorrow shalt thou eat thy bread all the days of thy life.’ Ye canna expect to gang free ; and I maun say it wadna be gude for ony o’ us. Maybe greater ills are yet to befa’ ye, and then ye’ll rue sair that ye hae gien way at this time; come. in, John, wi' me; time will wear a’ this out o’ mind.”

He struck his hand against his brow —he grasped at his neckcloth—and after choking on a few syllables which he could not utter, tears gushed from his eyes, and he melted in a long heart-rending fit of weeping. Oh, it is a sorrowful thing to see a strong hard-featured man shedding tears! His sobs are so heavy, his wail so full-toned! John Armour, perhaps for twenty years a stranger to weeping, had now to burst the sealed sluices of manhood’s grief, which nothing but the resistless struggle of agony could accomplish, ere relief could reach his labouring breast. Now it was he sought the dearest sanctuary on earth—he leaned upon his wife’s bosom, and she lavished on him the riches of a woman’s love. At length he went to rest, gentler in spirit, and borne down by a less frightful woe than what had lately oppressed him.

Next morning brought round the bustle of flitting. There is a deep interest attending a scene of this kind, altogether separate from the feelings of those who have to leave a favourite abode. Circumstances of antiquity—of mystery—belong to it. The demolition even of an old house has something melancholy ; the dismantling it of furniture is not less affecting. Some of the servants that had been at one time about the farm assisted on this occasion, and entered fully into the sentiments now described.

"That press has been there, I’ll warran’, this fifty years; it was his mother’s, and cam on her blithe marriage-day; the like o’t ye`ll no see now-a-days—it’s fresh yet. Few hae seen the back o’ thee, I trow, these twa days, but the wabsters and sclaters; they winna ken what to mak o’ this wark ; let me look into the back o’t.”

"I wad be a wee eerie," said another, feeling the gloomy appearance of the old empty dwelling suggest thoughts allied to superstition, "about gauging into that toom house at night; I wad aye be thinkin’ o’ meeting wi’ auld Hugh, honest man.”

The flitting set off to a cottage about two miles distant; two cart loads of furniture, one milk cow, and the old watch-dog, were its amount. John Armour lingered a little behind, as did his wife, for she was unwilling to leave him there alone. He then proceeded to every part of the premises. The barn and stable kept him a few moments ; the rest he hurried over, excepting the kitchen and spence. When he came to the kitchen (for it was the apartment he visited last), he leant his head for an instant against the mantelpiece, and fixed his eyes on the hearth-stone. A deep sigh escaped him, and his wife then took him by the hand to lead him away, which he resisted not, only saying, —

"I hae mind o` mony a thing that happened here ;”—then casting his eyes hastily round the desolate apartment,—"but fareweel to thee for ever!” In a few minutes they overtook the flitting, nor did he once turn again his head towards the desolate place which had firm a hold of his heart. … “Father’s Farm".


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