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Our Children in Old Scotland and Nova Scotia
Part II - Chapter IX - How they got there


As I told you in a former chapter, I had come to the conclusiou, in 1885, something must be done to feed and provide for the ever-increasing numbers of our children, and went again to Canada to see what could be done for them there.

As I could not make up my mind to resign them to the hands of strangers for the selection of their future homes, I preferred going with them and buying a farm, where I could make a home for the little ones, and headquarters for those who had already been placed; for it would obviously be worse than useless to send boys and girls across the sea, without a home within reach of them, with their own people there to look after their interests, and to hear constantly how they are getting on. One great trouble to us all in this was, that it divided the work and divided the workers, and in great measure broke up what had been for so many years a happy and useful Home party in Scotland. Still, for the sake of our children, we will do a great deal. I felt it was for the best to go and transfer my efforts to the new farm, where I could feed the little ones at a cheaper rate than in Scotland. I told the directors eighteen months before this was the only way I could see of continuing the work, and left it to them whether they would continue to co-operate with me or not. As I said before, they decided to do so. Some of my most active workers joined the party, which was divided into two sections. I may mention that complete lists of children were formally submitted to the directors before starting.

In the end of May, 1886, I sailed with twenty-five children and sufficient helpers to take care of them, leaving the rest to follow when we were ready to receive them.

It is said, "He that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about" ; and so it was with us. We set out, not knowing exactly where we should find a home, but trusting in the same God who has led us and fed us all these years, and He has not disappointed us.

Kind friends in Edinburgh asked us to breakfast the morning we started for Liverpool, and wished us God speed. After breakfast they sang with us the grand old words beginning

"God is our Refuge and our Strength,
In straits a present aid,
Therefore, although the hills remove,
We will not be afraid;"

and read the ninety—first Psalm, the Traveller's Psalm, as some one has called it; and ever since, if anxious or perplexed on land or sea, we seem to hear the words again, so that we have been kept from ever being afraid. It seemed very hard to leave so many kind friends that morning. It seemed as if they were sorry to have us go; but still for " our children" what cannot one do ? And the necessity was the same as it was in the olden time to Jacob’s sons, when they heard there was corn in Egypt. Wae’s me, there seemed to be little bread in Scotland, especially for "our children "; and so, when we had heard the last "good-bye" and "God bless you" on the railway platform, and had seen the last friendly face at the carriage window, we could only feel thankful that so many would think of and pray for us and our little ones, and would carry on the work of caring for our children while we were far away doing what we could.

But we did not leave all our friends in Edinburgh, for at Liverpool a dear friend and constant helper suddenly appeared, to the great delight of our children (who had not expected to see her); and as Liverpool was to them a "far-awa-place," almost beyond human ken, her appearance on the stair of our resting-place seemed little short of supernatural; "no a'thegither canny !" but the reality soon proved itself in the embodied spirit, full of kindness and help, and an immense stock of sweeties. Our children were soon all put to bed. The older folks had still various arrangements which kept us busy till late.

The next morning saw us early up and away to the Alexandra Dock, where all went smooth, and very soon we found ourselves on board the big ship Caspian. Our children attracted a good deal of attention, with their Scotch tongues, neat cloaks, and bright fisherman’s caps, which I devised as a means of keeping them in sight; for when we saw the red knitted cap, we knew the little head inside must belong to one of "our children." Remember, so many were under eight years old, four below four years. I took the very little ones with us, for I knew those to follow would have enough to do without such a heavy handful. The youngest of the party, a fat, good-natured baby of two years, seemed to enjoy the whole thing as well as any one.

Everything comes to an end; so does even waiting in dock for a ship to sail. At last all is ready; our last friend says good-bye; we say good-bye too, the children give a cheer for her; some of us feel a little as if we could cry; ropes, chains, etc., seem to make a little more noise, and we are off!

There is plenty to do to look after our children. The matron and girls are busy doing everything; I relapse into uselessness, feel ashamed of doing nothing, but I can’t help it; I am a shocking sailor. It is said somewhere, "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it." I often think that that is a good thing; for if they could, the waters of the Atlantic would certainly quench mine for our children. As it is, and there is no other way to Nova Scotia, I do my best. The others are very kind to me, and do all they can for me; it is not much, and their efforts are better bestowed on our children, who are extremely ill to begin with, and then, with the fickleness of youth, become lively and active, and used to the ship as if they were old sailors. They come and see me in detachments; by-and-by I am able to be dragged on deck, and we have great times; mercifully, the rest of our party are excellent sailors. The passengers are very kind to the children, and like to hear them sing: so they had a frequent resource in singing their Scotch songs and school rhymes, as well as the hymns of which they are so fond. Of all this I knew nothing for many days, but on Sunday we had a lovely day, and I was able to be at service in the morning. We had a children’s service in the afternoon, and I was asked to let them stay up a little to sing hymns with all on board in the evening, which they enjoyed extremely.

Next day we began to see ice, and then our progress became slow, owing to the fog being more dense than usual.

On Wednesday we reached St. John’s, Newfound


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