The late Duke of Hamilton,
with many excellent qualities, possessed some peculiarities of character
better calculated, perhaps, to afford amusement than to support the
dignity of his rank. He was fond of fun and frolic, and much delighted in
specimens of good practical joking.
It was in this spirit that
the merry Duke, on one occasion, invited his worthy ground-bailie, at
Smerly Baya harbour in a certain island on the west coastto dine on
board his yacht, which was then lying in the bay above-mentioned. Too
proud of the honour to hesitate about accepting so flattering a mark of
his Graces favour, Mr. Mathieson, who was a stout, elderly, little
personage, with many becks, and bows, and "wreathed smiles," at once
expressed his readiness to attend his Grace, at the time appointed, on
board the Charlotte.
Punctual to his engagement,
and dressed in his best, the worthy Bailie presented himself, in the hour
of cause, on the little quay of Smerly Bay, where, agreeably to previous
arrangement, he was to find the yachts pinnace waiting to convey him on
board. The boat, with two stout fellows in it, was there. The Bailie was
shipped; and, after about a fifteen minutes pull, found himself standing
on the deck of the little Charlotte, to which he was welcomed by the Duke
himself, and two or three waggish friends of his Grace, who were, at the
time, on a tour with him, in the yacht, through some of the Western Isles.
As hospitable as facetious,
the Duke lost no time in priming his humble friend, the Bailie, from a
case-bottle of brandy, which he ordered to be brought on deck for that
special purpose. Nothing loath, the honest man took a jorum or two of the
stimulating liquorjust enough to put him in spirits, and to inspire him
with the confidence necessary to an entire enjoyment of his present happy
By and by, the
partyincluding, of course, the Bailie were summoned. to the cabin to
dinner. It was an excellent one, and the guests were just the men to do it
justice. The worthy Bailie, amongst the rest, played a capital knife and
forka sort of thing in which he rather excelled at all times. Dinner
over, drinking materials were produced, and the party set fairly in for a
merry bout; and a merry bout they had. The Bailie cracked away like a
pen-gun, and fell as happy as a man could do.
When the revels had thus
continued for some time, the Duke, as if suddenly struck with a good
thought, proposed, as it was a fine afternoon, they should get the yacht
under way, and make a run as far as Campbelltown, which, being only, as
his Grace said, about twenty miles distant, they would easily make out
before nightfallthe wind being quite fair. To this proposal all,
excepting the Bailie, at once acceded. But the Bailie demurred. He had
matters of his Graces to attend to (he said), that would by no means
allow of his absence.
"Besides," continued the
worthy man, "I couldna think o gaun awa frae hame in this abrupt manner,
and withoot giein my family some notice o my proceedings. They wad think
I was drowned."
"Bailie!" exclaimed the
Duke, slapping him jocosely on the shoulder, "as to any neglect of my
affairs which your absence might occasion, I give you a full quittance
before-hand; and as to your abrupt departure alarming your family I shall
provide for that by sending the boat on shore, to give them satisfactory
information regarding the case. So, go you must, Bailie."
"Weel, weel, your Grace, on
thae conditions; and since you insist ont, Ill offer nae mair
objections. But I maun be back by the morns nicht at farthest."
"I promise you shall,"
replied the Duke.
This matter adjusted, the
party proceeded in their revels for some time, and then all in a great
flow of spirits ascended the deck, to see the vessel getting under way.
This was a proceeding very
soon accomplished; for the yacht was well manned. In a very few minutes
her anchor was up, and her white canvas spread to the gale. It was blowing
a fine fresh breeze, and the party, including Bailie Mathieson, had the
satisfaction both of seeing and feeling the lively little craft bounding
over the waves.
Our good friend the Bailie,
who was, by this time, himself a little in the wind, stood with spectacles
on nosefor his sight was very indifferentlooking with such interest at
the receding shores of his native place. Gradually they disappeared from
his view; amongst the last objects he saw being his own house, a very
pretty little white one, that stood conspicuous on the high ground that
overlooked the bay.
Having spent some time on
deck in looking around them, the party, at the Dukes suggestion, again
descended to the cabin, and again commenced their revels. These they now
kept up to a late hour of the night, and until they could carry on no
longerat least some of them; and amongst whom was our worthy friend the
Bailie, who, in the joy of his heart, got so completely sewed up that he
had to be carried to bed by the steward and the mate.
"Faith, man, but shes gaun
throught cleverly!"said the Bailie, in very thick, and all but
unintelligible English, to his bearers, as they pitched him into his bed;
the remark being elicited by a sudden plunge of the vessel, and the
gurgling noise of the water on the outer wall of his sleeping berth.
"Well be in Campbelltown in the twinklin o a bed-post, an we carry on
at this rate," he added, at the same time turning himself round in his
bed, and settling himself for a luxurious snooze. In half a minute after,
a loud snoring from the Bailies berth announced that all was well, and
that the worthy man was now oblivious of all earthly concerns.
Leaving the Bailie thus
comfortably disposed of, we shall ascend the deck, and see how the little
Charlotte is getting on. Had the reader been there, and being unaware of
what was going forward, he would have been a little surprised to find that
the Dukes yacht, in place of holding on her course for Campbelltown, was
scudding right back again for Smerly Bay.
This was the case, then;
and therein lay a certain practical joke, which the merry Duke and his
friends purposed playing off on the worthy Bailie. Their joke was to carry
the unconscious voyageur back to the precise spot from whence they had
taken him; and, as they hoped, to enjoy some amusement from his mistaking
his locality when he should get on deck in the morninga design in which
they calculated on being favoured by his short-sightedness, and by the
confusion of head which the nights debauch must occasion.
In furtherance of this
plot, the vessel had been put about the moment the Bailie was put to bed,
and hence came it that she was now retracing her way. Long ere daylight,
the Charlotte was again at anchor, and in precisely the same spot from
which she had departed some three or four hours before.
On awaking in the morning,
the first thing the worthy Bailie did was to raise himself up in the bed,
the next to thurst his head, garnished with a red cowl, out of the narrow
crib, to listen for sounds that might convey to him some idea of what the
vessel was aboutwhether sailing, or at anchor. All was still. There was
no sound but the list-less tramping of two or three feet on deck, and no
motion whatever. The vessel, then, the Bailie concluded, was at anchor.
She was in Campbelltown harbour.
Under this impression, the
worthy man got up; and, in his curiosity to see the placehaving never
been there beforehurried on deck in his shirt and trousers.
"Hech! a bonny place,"
exclaimed the Bailie, scanning the scenery around him, and shewing clearly
that the nights sleep he had got had not altogether overcome the effects
of the prior evenings potations.
"Is is not, Bailie!" said
the Duke, who at this moment joined his worthy officer on deck.
"Just as bonny a place,
your Grace, as I hae seen," repeated the Bailie, still continuing his
delightful survey of the shore. "Theres a bit white house there on the
hill," went on the Bailie, pointing to his own domicile; "that maun be a
bit pleasant place to leeve in."
"Why, your own, Bailie, is,
I think, just as good. It is as well situated, and looks as well," said
"Ou, deed ist, your
Grace," replied the Bailie; "but that seems fully a mair roomy-lookin
house than mine, and staunts a hantle higher; but theres a wunnerfu
likeness between them, after a. Most astonishin."
"Yes; I think there is a
sort of resemblance," said the Duke; "but not a very striking one."
"Deil o me, beggin your
Graces pardon," said the Bailie, who had now taken a more comprehensive
survey of the land around him, "if I ever saw twa places so like as this
and Smerly! Theres a hill precisely whar we hae ane, and o the very same
shape; and theres anither just whar Ben Moran stauns; and theres a water
exactly whar we hae ane; and, Gudes my life! theres twa houses staunin
exactly whar our ministers and the doctors staun. Od, its amazin!"
"The resemblance of the two
places has been often remarked," said the Duke carelessly; "and I do think
there are two or three points in which they have a distant likeness to
At this moment, the steward
announced breakfast on the table, when the Duke and his officerthe latter
having previously dispatched one of the men for his coat and
waistcoatdescended to the cabin, where the rest of the party were now
assembled, none of them having yet been on deck.
A wink from the Duke
intimated to them that the Bailie had bitten, and was under the desired
illusion. Taking the hint"Well, Bailie, what think you of Campbelltown?"
said one of the gentlemen. "Isnt it a pretty place?"
"Very bonny place, sir;
very bonny place," replied the Bailie.
"Have you observed its
resemblance to Smerly, Bailie?" said another.
"Indeed have I, sir,"
replied the latter; "I was just remarkint to his Grace. Its just
uncommon the likeness."
Breakfast over, it was
proposed that the party should go on shore for an hour or two. The
proposal was agreeable to all; and accordingly on shore they went, or at
least towards itfor we must not land them until we have mentioned that,
ere they quite reached their landing-place, the Bailie was surprised by
another extraordinary point of resemblance between his new quarters and
his old. This was the astonishing likeness of the two little quays. They
appeared perfect counterparts of each other, and the Bailie said so.
"Never saw ony twa things
sae like in my life," he said. "They maun hae been built by the same man,
after the same plan, at the same time, and o the same materials; for deil
a grain o difference is between them that I can see. Its really queer."
"Chance coincidences, mygood friend," said the Duke, in a tone of indifference; "but I
certainly agree with you in thinking that there is a very odd
correspondence between the two quays."
The boat having reached the
quay, the party landed. There was only one solitary person on it at the
time but this person happened to be an intimate friend of the Bailies.
The latter, on coming near, very near himfor hbe could not discern any
but large objects at a distance of a score of yardsat once recognised
him, and, advancing towards him with extended hands
"God bless me, Mr. Tamson,
are you here too? What in a the worlds brought ye here, and whan
did ye come?"
Mr. Thomson looked at his
friend, the Bailie, with an expression of the utmost surprise; while the
Duke and his friendsunable to restrain their mirth at the oddity of the
scene, and yet desirous of concealing itkept at a little distance, one
after the other turning round every instant, to give way to those bursts
of laughter which they could not control. Attracted by this additional
perplexing circumstance, Mr. Thomson continued for some seconds to look
from the Bailie to the Duke and his party, and again from the latter to
the former, without answering his friends query. At length
"What do ye mean, Bailie?"
he said, with a look of undiminished surprise. "Whan cam I here, and
whats brocht me here! What ist ye mean? Thaes funny questions to put to
a man thats at hame." It was now the Bailies turn to be puzzled.
"Whan did this become your
hame, Mr. Tamson?" said the Bailie with a smile of great perplexity. "Ye
hae shifted your camp unco quickly. Its no four-and-twenty hours since I
left ye in a different place, that I aye understood was your hame."
"Yere for bein jokey this
morning, Bailie," said Mr. Thomson, somewhat angrily, and pushing past his
friend, without saying another word, believing himself to be the butt of
some jest which he could not understand. The Bailie looked after him in
great perplexity and amusement; but, at length, came to the conclusion
that his friends intellect must have had a shake from some deranging
cause or other; and it crossed the Bailies compassionate mind that it
would be well done to have the unfortunate man seized and carried home
to his friends in the Dukes yacht. This, on reflection, however,
appearing rather a violent proceeding, he abandoned the idea.
As it would be tedious to
both reader and writer to repeat the subsequent illusory experiences of
the worthy Bailie, seeing that they were all nearly the same in detail,
suffice it to say, in conclusion, that the honest man now met several
friends, one after the other; and that their manner towards him, on his
expressing his surprise at seeing thema surprise that greatly increased
with every additional friend he metvery nearly convinced him of two
things that all his acquaintance had gone mad, and had all, by some
unaccountable unanimity of purpose, come to Campbelltown.
In short, it was not until
the Duke and his party had enjoyed a series of scenes with the worthy
Bailie of the most ludicrous character, and until a series of
circumstances which he could not possibly mistake, had forced themselves
on his notice, that he became aware of the trick that had been played upon
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