MASON enjoyed the reward of her exertions, and of
Grizzel's labour, in a night of sweet and
uninterrupted repose. She was awakened at early dawn
by the farmer calling his sons to get up to prepare
for the labours of the day; and looking out beheld
the clouds already decked in the colours of the
morning, inviting her to the most glorious sight on
which the eye of man can look. The invitation was
not given in vain, she rose and dressed herself: and
taking her staff and crutch, she sallied from her
room, earnestly wishing to escape observation.
The young men, in no hurry to obey their father's
summons, were still in bed. On passing through the
dark passage where they slept, she could not help
wondering at the perverted ingenuity which could
contrive to give the sleeping rooms of a country
house all the disadvantages which attend the airless
abodes of poverty in the crowded lanes of great and
From the length of time that the outer door had been
shut, the closeness of the house had become very
unpleasant to her lungs. Welcome therefore was the
reviving breeze of morning ! Welcome the freshness
of the coming day, which now burst upon the senses.
It was not, indeed, until she had removed some paces
from the house that she fully felt its influence;
for while near the door, the smell of the squashy
pool, and its neighbour, the dunghill, were so
powerful as to subdue the fragrance of earth's
fruits and flowers.
Having taken the road towards the river, she, on its
first turning, found herself in full view of the
waterfall, and was arrested by admiration at the
many beauties of the scene. Seating herself upon a
projecting rock, she contemplated the effulgent
glory of the heavens, as they brightened into
splendour at the approach of the lord of day ; and
when her eyes were dazzled by the scene, turned to
view the living waters, pouring their crystal flood
over the craggy precipice, shaded by the spreading
boughs of birch and alder.
The good woman's heart glowed with rapture: but it
did not vainly glow, as does the heart or the
imagination of many a pretender to superior taste;
for the rapture of her heart was fraught with
gratitude. She saw the God of nature in His works,
and blessed the goodness which, even in the hour of
creation, ordained that they should not only
contribute to the use, but add to the enjoyments of
the human race. ' The eye is never satisfied with
seeing, nor the ear with hearing ;' and He who
implanted these desires, has He not mercifully
provided for their gratification? What are all the
works of man, what all the pomp and splendour of
monarchs, compared with the grandeur of such a
scene? But the sights that are designed by man as
proofs of his creative skill, are only to be seen by
the rich and great; while the glorious works of God
are exhibited to all. Whilst she pursued this
thought a little farther, it occurred to Mrs Mason
that all that is' rare is in general useless; and
that all that is most truly valuable is given in
common, and placed within the reach of the poor and
lowly. ' Let the poor then j praise Thee !' she
exclaimed. ' Let the lowly in heart rejoice in Thy
salvation. Let us rejoice in the light which shines
from on high to illumine the soul, as Thy sun
illumines the earth ! O that men would praise the
Lord for His goodness, and for His mercies to the
children of men.'
While Mrs Mason was thus indulging the grateful
feelings of her heart by sending up her tribute of
praise to the Almighty Giver of all good, her ears
were suddenly assailed by the harsh sound of
discord; and on moving a few steps she discovered
that a violent dispute had taken place between the
farmer and his eldest son. In the hope of making
peace she advanced towards them, but before she
turned the corner she paused, doubting whether it
were not better to take no notice of having heard
the fray. The voices stopped; and proceeding, she
saw the farmer hastily unsaddling a horse; and the
son at the same moment issuing from the door, but
pulled back by his mother, who held the skirt of his
coat, saying, ' I tell ye, Sandy, ye mauna gang to
anger your father.'
'But I sal gang,' cried Sandy, in a sullen tone. ' I
winna be hindered. I sal gang, I tell ye, whether my
father likes it or no.'
'Ye may gang, ye dour loon,' says the father; ' but
if ye do, ye sal repent it as lang as ye live.'
'Hoot na,' returned the mother, ' ye'll forgi'e him
; and ye had as weel let him gang, for ye see he
winna be hindered!'
'Where is the young man going to?' asked Mrs Mason.
'"Where sud he be for gain' to, but to the fair?'
returned the mother; 'it's only natural. But our
gudeman's unco particular, and never lets the lads
get ony daffin.'
'Daffin !' cried the farmer; ' is druckenness daffin
T Did na he gang last year, and come hame as drunk
as a beast ? And ye wad have him tak the brown mare
too, without ever speiring my leave: saddled and
bridled too, forsooth, like ony gentleman in the
land ! But ye sal baith repent it: I tell ye, ye'se
'O, I did na ken o' the mare.'
'But is it possible,' said Mrs Mason, addressing
herself to the young man, 'is it possible that you
should think of going to any place in direct
opposition to your father's will? I thought you
would have been better acquainted with your duty
than to break the commands of God, by treating your
parents in such a manner.'
'I am sure he has been weel taught,' said the
mother; but I kenna how it is, our bairns never mind
a word we say !'
'But he will mind you,' said Mrs Mason, ' and set a
better example of obedience to his brothers and
sisters, than he is now doing. Come, I must
reconcile all parties. Will you not give me your
'I'll no stay frae the fair for naebody,' said the
sullen youth, endeavouring to pass; 'a' the folk in
the Glen are gain', and I'll gang too, say what ye
Mrs Mason scarcely believed it possible that he
could be so very hardy, until she saw him set off
with sullen and determined step, followed by his
mother's eye, who, on seeing him depart, exclaimed,
'Hech me ! ye're an unco laddie.'
The farmer appeared to feel more deeply, but he said
nothing. Grasping the mane of the mare, he turned to
lead her down the road to his fields, and had
advanced a few steps, when his wife called after
him, to inquire what he was going to do with the
saddle which he carried on his shoulders? ' Do wi'
it!' repeated he, 'I have naething to do wi' it!'
Then dashing it on the ground, he proceeded with
quickened pace down the steep.
'Wae's me!' said Mrs MacClarty, 'the gudeman taks
Sandie's dourness mickle to heart!'
'And is it any wonder that he should take it to
heart?' said Mrs Mason. 'What can be more dreadful
to a parent than to see a son, setting out in life,
with such dispositions? What can be expected of one
who is capable of such undutiful behaviour?'
'To be sure,' said the goodwife, ' the lad's unco
wilfu'. There's nae gude in hindering him, for he
maun ay tak his ain gait. But a' lads are just the
same, and the gudeman shou'd na be sae hard on him,
seeing he's yet but young.'
'Mistress !' hallooed the voice of Grizzel from the
house; ' I wish ye wad come and speak to Meg. She
winna be hinderit putting her fingers in the kirn,
and licking the cream.'
'If I were at you,' cried Mrs MacClarty, ' I'd gar
She was as good as her word; and in order to show
Mrs Mason the good effect of her advice, she ran
that moment into the kitchen, and gave her daughter
a hearty slap upon the back. The girl went a few
steps further off, and deliberately applied her
tongue to the back of her hand, where part of the
cream was still visible.
'Go, ye idle whippy!' said her mother, ' and let me
3ee how weel ye'll ca' the kirn.'
'I winna kirn the day,' returned Meg; ' I'm gain' to
milk the kye. Jean may kirn; she has naething else
'I'm aye set to kirn,' says Jean, whimpering. ' I
never saw sic wark. I tell ye, I winna kirn mair
than Meg. Grizzy can milk the cows hersel'. She does
na' want her help.'
'But, girls,' said Mrs Mason, ' when I was a little
girl like either of you, I never thought of choosing
my work; I considered it my business to follow my
mother's directions. Young people ought to obey, and
not to dictate.'
'Hear ye that!' said Mrs MacClarty : ' But Jean will
gang to the kirn I ken, like a good bairn; and she
sal get a dad o' butter to her bread.'
'But I winna hae't frae the hairin' knife,' said
Jean, ' for the last I got stack i' my throat.'
'Bless me!' cried Mrs Mason, in amazement, ' how
does your butter come to be so full of hairs? where
do they come from ?'
'O, they are a' frae the cows,' returned Mrs
MacClarty. 'There has been lang a hole in the milk
sythe, and I have never been at the fash to get it
mended; but as I tak ay care to sythe the milk
through my fingers, I wonder how sae mony hairs win
'Ye need na wonder at that,' observed Grizzel, ' for
the house canna be soopit but the dirt flees into
'But do you not clean the churn before you put in
the cream?' asked Mrs Mason, more and more
'Na, na,' returned Mrs MacClarty, 'that wadna be
canny, ye ken. Naebody hereabouts would clean their
kirn, for ony consideration. I never heard o' sic a
thing i' my life.'
Mrs Mason found it difficult to conceal the disgust
which this discovery excited; but resolving to be
cautious of giving offence by the disclosure of her
sentiments, she sat down in silence, to watch the
farther operations of the morning. While Jean was
slowly turning the churn with unwilling hand, her
mother was busily employed in making the cheese.
Part of the milk destined to that purpose was
already put upon the fire, in the same iron pot in
which the chickens had been feasting, and on which
the hardened curd, at which they had been picking,
was still visible towards the rim. The remainder of
the milk was turned into a large tub. and to it that
upon the fire was added, as soon as it was of a
proper heat. So far, all was done well and cleverly.
Mrs MacClarty then took down a bottle of rennet, or
yearning, as she called it; and having poured in
what she thought a sufficient quantity, tucked up
the sleeve of her gown, and dashing in her arm,
stirred the infusion with equal care and speed.
'I believe, cousin,' said Mrs Mason, hesitatingly, '
I believe—you forgot to wash your hands.'
'Hoot!' returned the good wife, ' my hands do weel
eneugh. I canna be fashed to clean them at every
'But you go about your work with such activity,'
rejoined Mrs Mason, 'that I should think it would
give you little trouble, if you were once accustomed
to it; and by all that I have observed, and I have
had many opportunities of observation, I believe
that in the management of a dairy, cleanliness is
the first, the last, the one art needful.'
'Cleanly!' repeated Mrs MacClarty; 'nae ane ever
said that I wasna' cleanly. There's no' a mair
cleanly person i' the parish. Cleanly, indeed ! Ane
wad think ye was speaking to a bairn.'
Mrs Mason offered a few words in explanation, and
then retired to her own apartment, to which she saw
it would be necessary to confine herself in order to
enjoy any tolerable degree of comfort. She therefore
began to consider how it might be rendered more airy
and commodious; and, after dinner, observing that
the farmer's mind still brooded on his son's
behaviour, she gladly introduced the subject of her
projected alterations, hoping thus to divert his
thoughts into another channel. The first thing she
proposed was to have hinges for the frame of the
window, that it might open and shut at pleasure. To
this the farmer said he should have no objection,
but that ' he ken'd it wad soon be broken to pieces,
blawin' wi' the wund.'
'O, but you mistake me,' said Mrs Mason. ' I intend
that it should be fastened when open w ith an iron
hook, as they constantly fasten the cottage windows
'And wha do ye think wad put in the cleek?' returned
he. ' Is there ane, think ye, about this hoose, that
wad be at sic a fash ?'
'Why, what trouble is there in it?' said Mrs Mason.
' It is only teaching your children to pay a little
attention to such things, and they will soon come to
find no trouble in them. They cannot too soon learn
to be neat and regular in their ways.'
'Ilka place has just its ain gait,' said the
goodwife, 'and ye needna think that ever we'll learn
yours. And, indeed, to be plain wi' you, cousin, I
think you have owre mony fykes. There, didna' ye
keep Grizzy for mair than twa hours yesterday
morning, soopin' and dustin' your room in every
corner, and cleanin' out the twa bits o' buird, that
are for naething but to set your feet on after a'.'
'But did you know how dirty they were ?' said Mrs
'Hoot! the chickens just got their meat on them for
twa or three weeks, pour wee beasties ! the buirds
war a wee thought clarted wi' parritch, but it was
weel dried on, and ye wadna' been a bit the waar.'
'But are the boards the worse for being scoured ?'
asked Mrs Mason; 'or would they have been the worse,
if they had been scoured when you took them from the
chickens, or, while they were feeding on them?'
'O to be sure it wad ha' been an easy matter to ha'
scour't them then, if we had thought of being at the
fash,' returned Mrs MacClarty.
'In my opinion,' rejoined Mrs Mason, ' this fearoj
being fashed is the great bar to all improvement. I
have seen this morning that you are not afraid of
work, for you have exerted yourself with a degree of
activity that no one could excel; yet you dread the
small additional trouble that would make your house
cheerful, clean, and comfortable. You dread the
trouble of attention, more than the labour of your
hands; and thus, if I mistake not, you often bring
upon yourself trouble which timely attention would
have spared. Would it not be well to have your
children taught such habits of attention and
regularity, as would make you more easy, and them
more useful, both to themselves and you ?'
'As for my bairns,' returned Mrs MacClarty, ' if
they pleasure me, they do weel eneugh.'
'There's a great spice o' good sense in what Mrs
Mason has said, though,' said the farmer; ' but it's
no easy for folk like us to be put out o' their ain
In truth, Mrs MacClarty was one of those seemingly
good-natured people who are never to be put out of
their own way; for she was obstinate to a degree ;
and so perfectly self-satisfied, that she could not
bear to think it possible that she might in any
thing do better than she did. Thus, though she would
not argue in favour of sloth or dirt in general, she
nevertheless continued to be slothful and dirty,
because she vindicated herself in every particular
instance of either; and though she did not wish that
her children should be idle, obstreperous,
disobedient, and self-willed, she effectually formed
them to those habits, and then took credit to
herself for being one of the best of mothers !
Mrs Mason had discernment enough to see how much
pride there was in that pretended contentment, which
constantly repelled every idea of improvement. She
saw that though Mrs MacClarty took no pains to teach
her children what was truly useful, she encouraged,
with respect to them, an undefined sentiment of
ambition, which persuaded her, that her children
were born to rise to something great, and that they
would in time overtop their neighbours. Mrs Mason
saw the unhappy effects which this would infallibly
produce upon minds brought up in ignorance ; she
therefore resolved to do all in her power to obviate
the consequences ; and from the opinion she had
formed of the farmer's sense and principles, had no
doubt of his co-operating with her in the work of
While musing on the subject, as she sat by her
window in the twilight, she saw the two younger lads
run hastily past; and soon heard from their mother
such an exclamation of sorrow as convinced her they
had been the messengers of bad news. She therefore
speedily proceeded but 1 and there she found the
poor woman wringing her hands, and lamenting herself
bitterly. The farmer entered at the same moment; and
on seeing him she redoubled her lamentations, still
calling out, ' O Sandy ! Sandy ! O that I should ha'
lived to see this day! O Sandy ! Sandy !'
'Sandy !' repeated the alarmed father, ' what is the
matter wi' Sandy ? for God's sake, speak ! Is my son
gane ! is he killed?'
'No, no, he's war1 than killed ! O that I should
have seen this day !'
'Speak Robert,' said Mrs Mason, 'you can tell what
has befallen your brother ; let your father know the
truth.' Robert was silent; but the youngest boy
eagerly came fonvard, and said, ' that Jamie Bruce
had brought word that Sandy was aff to be a soger.'
'And where did you see Jamie Bruce?' asked his
'It was Rob that spoke wi' him ; it wasna' me,' said
the little boy, hanging down his head.
'Where could you, Rob, meet Jamie Bruce?' said the
farmer. ' Did not I send you to the West Craft ? how
could you then see ony ane comin' frae the fair ?
Speak, sir! and tell truth, I desire you.'
'I just thought I wad gang a wee while up to the
road to see the folk coming frae the fair before I
gied to the Craft,' returned Robert. ' I kent there
wad be time eneugh.'
'Aye,' said the father, sighing; ' it's just the way
wi' ye a' ! ye just do what ye like yoursel's ! Now,
see what comes o' it! Here's Sandy done for himsel'
wi' a vengeance ! He too wad do naething but what he
liked ! see what he'll make o't now, but to be tied
up to a stake and lashed like a dog ! a disgrace, as
he is, to us a' I wou'd rather he had ne'er been
'Alake ! gudeman,' cried the poor mother, weeping
bitterly; alake ! hae pity on me, and try to get him
'It will do nae gude,' says her husband, in a
softened accent, and wiping a tear which stole down
his cheek; ' it will do nae gude, I tell ye. We
shall never have comfort in him while we live, for
he is ane that will never be advised. Ye ken he
never minds a word we say—yet I canna think o' his
being made a reprobate.'
'He need not necessarily be a reprobate in the
army,' said Mrs Mason. ' I should hope his
principles will preserve him from that; and if he
behaves well, he will be treated kindly, and may
come in time to be promoted. But you are not yet
certain that he is enlisted. The person who gave the
information may himself have been misinformed. Make
inquiry into the fact, and then take the steps that,
on consideration, appear to be most prudent and
The gleam of hope which was presented in these
words, revived the spirits of the disconsolate
parents ; and the father in haste set off for the
village, to learn to a certainty the fate of his
Evening was now far advanced. The cows, which the
boys should have brought home to be milked, were
still lowing in the West Croft; and when Mrs
MacClarty desired Robert to go for them, she
obtained no other answer, than that ' Grizzy might
gang as weel as him.' Grizzel was busy in washing up
the dishes wanted for supper, and which had remained
unwashed from breakfast time till now. They had been
left to the care of Meg, who had neglected them, and
by this neglect made the task more difficult to
Grizzy, who was, therefore, in very bad humour, and
began loudly to complain of Meg and Rob; who, in
their turns, raised their voices in defence and
mutual accusation. The din of the squabble became
insufferable. Mrs Mason retired from it with horror,
and shut herself up in her room, where she
meditated, with deep regret, on the folly of those
who, having been placed by Almighty God in
situations most favourable to the enjoyment of peace
and the exercise of virtue are insensible to the
blessing; and by permitting their passions to reign
without control, destroy at once both peace and