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Scotland's Book of Romance
Chapter XV. Across Strathmore


Below the Woods of Birnam Hill - The Chantrey Bust of Sir Walter Scott - I Arrive at Perth - The Cobbler's Story-Ships on the River - The Bandy-legged Smith of St. Johnston - The Sheep-farmer from Ross-shire - Early Morning at the Ram Sale.

WILLOW-HERB is a lovely weed; its pale purple colour made bright the sunlit side of the road, but was sombre in the shadow. Around me was a sea of green trees, which I hoped would spread south for many miles and give me shelter in the heat of the forenoon. I have often tried to put myself in the place of people who have lived all their lives in the heart of a forest. A horizon of tree-tops that is no more distant than a stone's throw has within a few days a powerful effect upon the mind of a man, and some are gripped with a queer terror in a wood. I know a Caithness man who hates the sight of a tree; his ideal scenery is a bare rolling upland. In his Edinburgh University days, he went long country walks, and would rather make a detour of miles than take a short cut through a belt of woodland. If, like his ancestors, he had looked upon every gathering of trees as a sacred grove through which a man may not carelessly wander, he could not have paid the oak a more deliberate and sinister tribute. Probably people worshipped in a grove before they built temples, for the Greek word for a temple meant originally a forest-clearing, and I have read somewhere that the old Irish word for a chapel came from the same root as the Latin for a grove. Although the name Druid may not have been derived from the Greek word for an oak, the gathering of the mistletoe from the oak was certainly an important rite in Druidic religion. Mistletoe is not often found growing upon the oak; it is far more frequent on the apple, the poplar, and the willow; and this may have given a special sanctity to the few oak trees on which it was found. Some say that in Britain the oak was venerated in the Bronze Age, which is a far enough cry from the twentieth century, and we still venerate it for the almost uncanny length of life of its timber. In the room where I write these words, the oak beams are as strong as when they were built into a tithe-barn for a parson's use more than five hundred years ago. But little wonder the oak tree is a tough fellow, for his growth is so leisurely and confident that he does not trouble to produce an acorn until he is three score years of age ; it is wasteful to cut him for timber before he has passed his second century ; and I have heard of an oak tree from which the woodmen stripped a thousand pounds weight of bark. But for beauty I maintain he cannot be compared with the beech, and I wish Shakespeare had written a sonnet about the silver birches of Arden.

Dr. Johnson grumbled about the lack of trees in Scotland, and if he had made his tour a couple of hundred years before, he would have had even better reason to complain. In the sixteenth century, the southern part of Scotland was a- bleak and treeless place. Under James IV, the shore of the Firth of Forth resounded like an arsenal ; even in the night, ships of war were being built by the light of candles; and James stripped nearly all Fife of big trees for his Great Michael. It was not until well after the 'Forty-five that tree-planting in Scotland was seriously begun, and there was opposition from many of the country people, who declared that trees and hedges gave shelter to birds that ruined their crops. Often, the tenants on an estate would steal out in the dark and pull up the saplings put in by the Laird. But in spite of opposition, tree-planting soon became an epidemic. The enthusiastic Grant of Monymusk put in fifty million trees in his lifetime; the "planting Duke" of Atholl - the son of Lord George Murray of the .'Forty-five-was responsible for nearly thirty million larches; and several others passed the ten-million mark. No longer could Sir Anthony Weldon's old sneer be repeated in Scotland: "Had Christ been betrayed in this country, Judas had sooner found the grace of repentance than a tree to hang himself on." But after a- vigorous beginning in the eighteenth century, tree-planting in Scotland fell out of fashion, until to-day we have a Government Forestry Commission carrying out the work that a previous generation of lairds should have undertaken; and if they had done their duty, we would probably have been spared the sight of hillsides laid out in draughtboard patterns of unbroken Sitka and Douglas Fir, so that in a few years' time some of the loveliest scenery in Scotland will be spoiled by trees grown for wood-pulp : the ugly utilitarian forestry of the shopkeeper.

Out of that lovely glen of birches I tramped, and passed another walker who was going northward ; and soon I could see ahead of me the low blue outline of the Sidlaw Hills, which creep down from Angus into Perthshire, with the Ochils making a rampart further south. Before noon I was looking at a blaze of climbing roses in a village that had christened itself Waterloo in a glow of military pride, and I was a little startled to catch sight of a reproduction of one of the Chantrey busts of Sir Walter Scott in a window on my left. Sir Walter was gazing reflectively out into the roadway, and I wondered why he had been stuck up in such a position. The problem worried me all the way to Bankfoot, so prone is one's mind to seize upon a trivial thing when the body is engaged upon some rhythmic and monotonous task. I painted a fanciful picture of the owner of that bust: he had placed it there to proclaim to passers by his devotion to Sir Walter, and in a bookcase behind were the Waverley novels, the ten volumes of poems, and the twenty-eight volumes of the miscellaneous prose works, and he excelled even the late Lord Birkenhead in the zeal with which he read them. He was a ruddy-faced portly man, I decided, with thoughtful eyes and a humorous mouth ; he went fishing on the Ordie with a volume of Guy Mannering in his pocket to sweeten his thoughts if the trout were shy; and he liked old-fashioned things, and solitary evenings by the fire, and good strong hot toddy. His picture faded, and his place was taken in my fancy by an old maid who had put the bust there as a gesture of defiance: if her neighbours refused to read the works of her literary hero, at least they would look upon his features every time they walked down the street ; she was thin and spectacled, that old maid, with a cat she had christened Di Vernon, and she had taught her parrot to say Pro-dee-gious! . . . But perhaps I was wrong : perhaps there was not a single Waverley novel in the house, and the bust may have been placed in the window merely because the curtains did not quite meet in the middle!

Bankfoot is a long low village, rather like Lauder in the Lammermuirs, but there is a red tinge in the stone with which it has been built, and the place has not the darkly Scottish look of Lauder. I noticed that the saddlers called themselves on their signs "Sporran Makers," and with the increasing popularity of the kilt, and the equally rapid increase of machinery on the farms, I wondered how far distant was the day when these saddlers would be making two sporrans for every set of harness they now repaired. It was a low smiling land I walked through that day as I went into Strathmore : the fields were cultivated and rich-looking; and the sun came out again, making the world green and gold as I ate my lunch on a gate by the roadside.

The Ochil Hills, twenty miles to the south, were much in my mind that afternoon. I remembered wistfully the green folds of those hills that for two years were my home, and I pictured Craigfarg where as a small boy I used to play cricket with the Laird's son, and the Chapel Burn where I "guddled" for trout. And then I thought of the little grey kirk where my father preached every Sunday morning, with a precentor in a box below the pulpit. Mr. Ogilvie was his name, a little, quick, bird-like man; and while the psalm was being announced he produced from a mysterious box at his side a big strip of cardboard inscribed with the name of the psalm-tune and stuck it on a little swivel in front of him, moving it slowly round so that everyone could see it. Then his tuning fork went ping ! and he began to lead the praise. As I slowly lessened the distance between me and his grave on a hillside in the Ochils, I wondered if they still had a precentor in Pathstruie kirk, or if they now had an organist to play what old-fashioned folk used to call a "kist of whistles:"

For the last hour or more I had been tramping through the parish of Auchtergaven, and I realised that I had passed the place where the great house of Lord Nairne had stood in the 'Forty-five. Nairne's father had begun to build it thirty-five years previously, and, indulging a quaint fancy, had ordered the builder to give it as many windows as there were days in the year. But the elder Nairne came "out" in the 'Fifteen Rising, the house was never finished, and some years after the 'Forty-five it was pulled down. Here the Prince paused to dine on Wednesday 4th September, then continued on his march past the site of the battle of Luncarty, fought about seven hundred and fifty years before, between the Scots and the invading Danes. I like the old yarn about the Hay family, the ancestors of the Earls of Errol: how the Hays founded their fortune in this battle. It was going badly with the Scots, so runs the story, when a man called Hay hurried from his plough with his two sons and rallied his countrymen. Their only weapons were plough-yokes, and King Kenneth was so delighted that he called the peasant before him, and as a reward promised him all the lands over which his falcon would fly before alighting. The falcon was released on Kinnoull Hill, and flew for six full miles before coming down on the Falcon Stone at Errol. And so the peasant became a great landowner; and to-day the Earl of Erroll has for his crest a falcon, with two men bearing plough-yokes as supporters. I like the yarn, I say, but there is probably no more truth in it than in most yarns devised to explain the armorial bearings of other old families.

I came down into Perth through an open strath with many trees. The St. Johnstone football ground was on my left : my feet were at last on the pavements of the city ; and weary and contented, I settled down with a large whiskey-and-soda in a deep leather armchair in the Salutation Hotel.

I have no idea what name the "Salutation" bore in the days before the 'Forty-five. The story goes that during his week in Perth the Prince shook hands with the landlord, a man called John Burt, who was so delighted at the honour that thereafter he called his inn the "Salutation." There is not the slightest evidence the Prince ever slept in this inn; and I have no hesitation in saying that for at least part of the time his quarters were in the "King's Arms," the principal hostelry in the town. It no longer exists, but it stood behind Lord Stormont's house, which was in the High Street on the present site of the National Bank, l next door to the City Chambers. At nine o'clock at night on 3rd September, Locheil and Lord Nairne had arrived in the town; they took over the King's Arms Inn for the Prince's use; and afterwards the landlord was arrested and charged with helping the rebels. He attempted to commit suicide, and then turned King's evidence. Lord Stormont, who cleared out of the town when he heard of the Prince's approach, was a Jacobite, and brother of the Prince's one-time tutor James Murray, but he lacked the courage of his inclination, and played the usual game of leaving his womenfolk behind him to do the honours. His sister helped to entertain the Prince, and threw open the house to the attendants and officers.

At the time of the 'Forty-five, the inn that is now called the "Salutation" was a third-rate place, but it is an uncommonly good hotel to-day ; and after I had finished my drink, I lit my pipe and set out to look for a cobbler who would put a thicker sole on my Fort William shoes, which had served me well enough on the Corrieyairack, but were too light for the roads.

A cobbler was not difficult to find in this town that once had a Corporation of Shoemakers and a street called the Shoegate. The man, into whose dark little cavern I penetrated, evidently thought himself a bit of a wag. He sat working under a tiny gas jet; and although he was a small man, he had as huge and capable a pair of hands as I have ever seen, hands that appeared to regard leather as their natural enemy. When I seated myself on a bench and took off my shoes, he seized one of them as if he were about to throttle a weasel. I told him I had walked that day from Dunkeld, and I wondered if he could do something to make the soles more serviceable. He gripped the other shoe and proceeded to wring its neck. "Thae's nae guid," he said, "nae guid for a hard road-you'll soon knock hell oot o' them. I'll put on a clump." I told him to fire ahead with a clump, whatever that was, and I would wait until he had finished, for I was to leave Perth the next day.

"Ye're in a hurry to get awa'," he remarked. "What's wrong wi' Perth?"

I told him that, so far as I could see, Perth was a most admirable town, a town of honest-looking men and good-looking women.

"The bonniest lassies in Scotland," he agreed, and began to wreak his vengeance on my shoes. "Thae shoes werenae made in Perth, I'll warrant," he continued. "It's guid shoes ye'll get here - as guid as the gloves they used to make."

I assured him I had heard about the old Glovers of Perth: their gloves were famous.

He nodded. "Their buckskin riding-breeks forbye. Once upon a day, every shop in the Skinnergate was a Glover's. When a Glover could make breeks, he put out a sign wi' a pair of breeks on it and the likeness of a buck between the legs. But there's been nae Glovers in Perth since my grandfather's day." And then he began to chuckle, and he told me one of his grandfather's favourite stories about a Glover in Perth who was well-known for two things, his skill in cutting breeches and the amount of food he could eat at a sitting. An officer of a cavalry regiment ordered a pair of buckskin breeches from him, but they were so tight he could hardly get them on his legs, and in the George Inn he was telling his brother officers what he thought of the Glover. He said he had a good mind to make the fellow eat his damned breeches, and the landlord (who disliked the Glover) overheard the remark. A plot was hatched, the Glover was told to come round the next day for his money, and he was brought up into the room where the officers were assembled. He was duly paid, and then asked to have a drink. "And of course you'll have something to eat?" said the officer. The landlord blandly remarked that he had just finished cooking an excellent dish of tripe. "Bring it in," said the officer, "and another glass of brandy." And so the gormandising Glover sat down and made a hearty meal of his buckskin breeches, now cut into shreds. "My grandfather kenned him fine," added the cobbler, "and folk never let down the joke on him till his dying day."

In my new clump soles, I wandered round Perth. It is a city full of surprises. Every now and then, you are pulled up in -a modern street with a delightful glimpse of a long cobbled vennel through a low archway ; and of all the streets in Scotland I have seen, the one that comes next in my estimation to Edinburgh's Princes 'Street is Tay Street beside the river in Perth, with the backs of the houses on the eastern bank, and the arched bridge three hundred yards long that put more than two dozen ferry-boats out of action when it was built. It was odd to think that I was walking upon streets that were now six or eight feet higher than they had been in the seventeenth century, for the Tay and the Almond had a habit of overflowing their banks, and sometimes in rainy seasons the townsfolk went downstairs in the morning to find themselves up to the waist in water. But it was the river that helped to make Perth prosperous, and a thirteenth-century Abbot of Exeter wrote: "Go on, great Tay, through fields, through towns, through Perth: the wealth of that city supports Scotland." To-day it is difficult to believe that Perth was once a prosperous port. Though it lies a full twenty-five miles from the North Sea, ships of four hundred tons burden sailed from it to America and the West Indies, and the Customs revenue on the cargoes that went downstream was over twelve thousand pounds annually. The Perth shipbuilding yards were famous, and the first iron steam vessel made on the east coast of Scotland was launched here by Macfarlane from a slip-way in this inland city. For some time, the pearls from river-mussels brought in 3000 a year; and not long after the Rising of 'Forty-five, there was an annual turnover of 150,000 from the linen bleached on the fields beside the river.

For Sir Walter's sake, I walked down Curfew Row and looked at the Fair Maid's House with its bottleglass window panes and the empty niche that had once held an image of St. Bartholomew, the patron saint of the Glovers. Then I strolled over the green turf of the North Inch, where Robert the Bruce presided over a combat between an English and Scots knight who had quarrelled over their coats-of-arms, and where eighty-four years later the crippled Robert III watched with horror the fierce battle in which thirty picked warriors of two clans fought to a finish within an enclosure of timber and iron which cost 14 2s. 11d. to erect. Sir Walter makes Hal o' the Wynd, the bandy-legged smith of St. Johnstoun, the hero of this combat. One of the clansmen had bolted before the fight began; Hal took his place ; and when the battle was over he confessed he had not been quite certain on which side he had been fighting and had laid about him with impartial vigour. But whether the bandy-legged smith of St. Johnstoun ever existed is doubtful: the earliest chronicle of the fight does not mention him, and perhaps Fordun got the yarn from a romantic spae-wife.

Looking across the green Inch to the river are the windows of Perth Academy, a school that was founded a few years after the 'Forty-five. The folk of Perth thought their town a particularly suitable place for a big school because, as they frankly announced, Perth was the most sober and industrious town in Scotland, "so that the manners of youth," they said, "are here in less danger of being corrupted." That it was industrious I am confident ; that it was relatively sober we will accept, in spite of the fact that there were sixty public-houses in Perth in those days, and ale was two-pence a Scots pint, which was equal to half an English gallon, while whiskey cost one and four-pence a Scots quart.

Back at the hotel, I had the good luck to dine at the same table as a tall sheep-farmer from Ross-shire, who had come down to buy "tups" at the Ram Sale next day. He was a good fellow, the sheep-farmer, and he offered to take me with him to the market. "But we'll have to be up early," he warned me. "I want to look at the tups before the bidding, and we'll need to leave here by eight o'clock." I promised to be ready in good time, and went off to bed early, but before going to sleep I got out from my pack some of the notes I had made before leaving home, and I spent a pleasant half-hour conjuring up pictures of the Prince's week in Perth.

Perth was then a town of eight or nine thousand people, a quarter of its present size; and Prince Charles spent a busy time there. He entered it with but one louis d'or in his pocket; he raised 500 of public money, took arms and ammunition from Dundee and elsewhere, and travelled up to the Sma' Glen on the river Almond to inspect a body of men that had been raised there 'for his service. James Crie, the Lord Provost, who had bolted to Fife before the Prince's arrival, wrote a letter to the Lord Advocate (Craigie of Glendoick, who owned the house next door to Lord Stormont's) and told how the city wrights had been pressed by Locheil's men to make targets for the Highlanders. On the North Inch the troops were drilled; and for the first time since the Standard had been raised at Glenfinnan the army was organised in a soldier-like manner. This organisation was put in the hands of Lord George Murray, who came to Perth from Tullibardine. Next to Charles himself, I doubt whether there is any figure in the 'Forty-five about whom people argue more hotly. The Prince distrusted him, although he recognised that Lord George Murray was the best soldier in his army, a fearless leader in battle, and a good tactician. He has been called a mediocre strategist because more than once the Prince's instinct proved to be better than the advice of his lieutenant-general, and I am one of those who believe that the retreat from Derby-upon which Lord George insisted-was a vital blunder.

The Prince's distrust of Lord George was largely the work of John Murray of Broughton, who hated him ; and his position was not improved by his impatient manner at the council-table. He had a stern heavy face with a slight cast in one eye, and he spoke his mind as gruffly as though he were reproving a stupid ensign. His presence was often the cause of muttering and strife ; but of his loyalty to the Prince there can be no doubt.

In the Rising of 1715, at the age of twenty-one, he had commanded a regiment and fought at Preston; at Glenshiel in 1719, he is said to have been wounded, and he lurked for ten months in the Highlands before escaping to Holland. Later, when he was pardoned and came to Scotland, he lived quietly in Fife and afterwards at Tullibardine, the old home of the Murrays, and he kept out of politics. At the time of the 'Fortyfive, he had a sixteen-year old son at Eton who held a commission in Loudoun's regiment and was eager to leave school and fight for the Government (this was the boy who afterwards became the "planting Duke" of Atholl). Lord George himself had just accepted the post of Sheriff depute for Perthshire, and from Dunkeld on 20th August he wrote about the Rising in a letter to his old friend Craigie, the Lord Advocate. In this letter one can see no enthusiasm for the Whig cause; he merely gave some information, partly wrong, which Craigie could have got from other sources ; and on the next day, he went with his brother and Glengarry to visit Sir John Cope at Crieff. Andrew Lang calls him an "informant" of Cope, but Glengarry was the informant. Lord George's conduct has been described as two-faced; but at this time, I do not think he had finally decided to join the Prince, though his mind was certainly made up by the end of the following week. Three things may have helped to hold him back; the dangerous illness of his wife, his uncertainty about what was happening in the North, and his frankly acknowledged fear of disaster. The letter to his brother James Duke of Atholl, written on the evening of Tuesday 3rd September and laid aside while his sick wife was being bled, tells of his resolve to join Charles and reveals his mood of desperation: "Suppose I were sure of dieing in the attempt, it would neither deter nor prevent me." One might criticise him for having hesitated to do what he knew in his heart to be his duty ; but from the moment he joined the Prince at Perth until his dying day, he was a loyal adherent to the Jacobite cause. The temperaments of Prince Charles and Lord George Murray were antagonistic; vintage claret will not mix well with Scots whiskey, and whiskey is the more potent liquor.

Other men had joined by this time, Oliphant of Gask and his son, as loyal Jacobites as there were in Scotland; Lord Strathallan, who died at Culloden and on the field received the Blessed Sacrament from the hands of an Episcopalian chaplain who used for the sacred elements oat cake and whiskey; and Lord Ogilvy, who later commanded a regiment in France; and among other accessions was that of the Duke of Perth, who six weeks before had escaped capture after entertaining to dinner his treacherous friend Sir Patrick Murray of Ochtertyre with Campbell of Inverawe, both captains in the Black Watch. The Duke of Perth had lived so long in France that he could with difficulty speak English, and conversed as a rule either in French or the broad Scots tongue. He was a tall slender man of fair complexion with a constitution ill-fitted for a hard campaign. His spirit was stronger than his fragile body, and after Culloden he escaped from Scotland, a sick man, to die on board the ship that was carrying him to France. At Perth, the Prince made him lieutenant-general, the same rank as that of Lord George Murray, retaining in his own hands the supreme command of the army.

The fourth day after his arrival in the town was a Sunday, and the Prince attended the Episcopalian service at one of the city churches. Nominally he was a Roman Catholic, although five years afterwards during a secret visit to London he was received into the Anglican Church at St. Mary le Strand by a clergyman who did not know that Mr. Charles Stuart was Prince Charles Edward. So complete was his "renountiation" of the Church of Rome after his London visit that he even sent away his mistress because she was a Papist. He died in the Catholic Faith, but one would gather from Elcho's remark that religion did not occupy much of the Prince's thoughts in the 'Forty-five, and there is no evidence that he attended a single Roman Catholic service either in Scotland or England. Major Eardley-Simpson in Derby and the Forty-five suggests that Charles may have thought of renouncing the Roman faith on his arrival in Scotland, but hesitated when he saw that this would probably have offended his Catholic supporters not only in Britain but in France and Spain. The Clanranalds were Catholic, so were the Macdonells of Glengarry and the majority of the Keppoch men; but the Camerons, the Macdonalds of Glencoe, and the Appin Stewarts were Episcopalian, and all the others of much account were Presbyterian. Thus the notion that the Rising of 'Forty-five was mainly a Catholic affair is absurd, for most of the Prince's army was Protestant ; and from the crudely material point of view, if Charles had played the Protestant card in 1745, he would have swept into his ranks a large number who held back. As for the three Catholic clans, they would have fought for a Protestant Prince as loyally as the' Episcopalian Camerons fought for a Papist.

As I sat up in bed that night looking through my notes, I realised that even a superficial glance at Perth would occupy me for a full week. A hundred yards away from me was the site of the Dominican monastery where the first and best of the Stewart kings called James was murdered, and a woman used her arm as a doorbolt in an effort to save his life ; and in this monastery the Wolf of Badenoch, bare-footed and clad in sackcloth, did penance for his savage destruction of the town and cathedral of Elgin. A few minutes' walk from me was the church where an English king stabbed his brother to death at the high altar; in the same church the spirit of the Reformation burst into flame after an incendiary sermon by John Knox. Within a stone's throw of my bedroom there had stood Gowrie House, where - if one could believe James VI, which one cannot - another Scottish king was all but done to death. Across the river at Scone had stood the abbey where the kings of Scotland were crowned, and where the Stone of Destiny had lain until it was stolen and taken to Westminster. I fell asleep thinking about that stone. There was a mild hullabaloo over it in Parliament a few years ago, and folk have believed it was Jacob's pillow at Bethel and St. Columba's pillow in Iona, which is about as credible as the suggestion that it was Rip Van Winkle's pillow in the Katskill Mountains. Around it there has been woven a legendary history of the early Scots, and it has become the symbol of Scottish greatness : this in spite of the fact that there is no evidence of its having been used more than twice at the coronation of a king of Scotland.
I was up early next morning, but by the time I got into the dining-room the sheep-farmer from Rossshire was finishing his breakfast. I could see he was impatient to be off, so I made haste with my bacon and eggs. To keep me company, he ordered a pint of beer, a breakfast drink which I thought had died out with the eighteenth century, but it seemed to give a flavour to his pipe' of strong tobacco. A little after eight o'clock, we were in the auction market, away from the bright autumn sunshine.

Under the glass roof the light was pale and cold. Both the sheep-pens and cattle-pens were filled with rams, fifteen hundred of them, and the little tickets pinned above the pens told me they had come from all parts of the north country. I read names I had never heard of before, strange names like Rannagulzion, Glendamph, Corrychrone, Stronchrubie, Ascreavie, Muirpearsie, Derculich. Men were brushing the long thick wool of the rams, and fluffing it up with their small walking-sticks ; others were anointing with whale-oil the horns that swept round in a gorgeous curl like the inverted mustachios of a circus-master. I had not realised what a noble-looking animal a ram is until I gazed into these big liquid eyes set back in their dark patrician faces. Some of them returned my scrutiny with contempt, others with a stare of satanic insolence. A few were lying down, and every now and then my friend would lean over into a pen and jerk one of them by a horn to make him rise and show himself. What a wild panegyric the late D. H. Lawrence could have written about the throbbing masculinity of these fifteen hundred male animals imprisoned under the glass roof of that market ! Many of the shepherds had slept all night in the straw, and I began to wish I had been there when the first light of dawn broke up the darkness among the enclosures, and men and rams rose and shook themselves. At a quarter past nine I went with my friend to watch the bidding.

The auctioneer sat in a little square pulpit, while we took our places on raised benches that reminded me of a university lecture-room. The rams entered through a low swing-door, and I thought of bulls coming into an arena under a blazing Spanish sun. Round the floor they skipped, sometimes almost jerking a brawny young drover off his feet; the bidding was quick and decisive; and then out went the ram through another swing-door, his place being quickly filled. I liked the look of the men around me, brown-faced healthy fellows with quiet eyes and cautious gestures. They moved with the same slow swing of the body as my friendly sheep-farmer from Ross-shire, and there was none of the excited talk that one wrongly associates with a farmers' market-place. It must have been a great day for most of them, that Ram Sale in Perth, but they did not seem to be enjoying themselves, although perhaps they felt a quiet rapture that I failed to detect in their placid faces.


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