It was on the day before
the flitting, or removal, that John Armours 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 husbands 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 cushats 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 tomorrows 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 settlehe could not eathe 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 faithers stanin 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 mothers answer. She went out,the
case had become extreme,and she ventured to argue with and reprove him.
"Ye do wrang, Johnthis is no like yoursel ;the worlds fu of
afflictionithers ken that as weel as youye maunna hae a things your
ain way: theres 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 yell 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 neckclothand
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 manhoods 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 earthhe leaned
upon his wifes bosom, and she lavished on him the riches of a womans
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
antiquityof mysterybelong 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
"That press has been there, Ill warran, this fifty years; it was his
mothers, and cam on her blithe marriage-day; the like ot ye`ll no see
now-a-daysits 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 ot.
"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.