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Memoirs of a Highland Lady
Chapter X. 1570-1813


Rothiemurchus at this period contained four large farms—the Doune, where we lived ourselves, to which my father was constantly adding such adjoining scraps as circumstances enabled him now and then to get possession of; Inverdruie, where lived his great-uncle Captain Lewis Grant, the last survivor of the old race; the Croft, where now was settled his cousin James Cameron; and the Dell, occupied by Duncan Macintosh, the forester, who had permission to take in as many acres of the adjacent moors as suited his husbandry. Quantities of smaller farms, from a mere patch to a decent steading, were scattered here and there among the beautiful birch woods, near swiftly running streams, or farther away among the gloom of the fir forest, wherever an opening afforded light enough for a strip of verdure to brighten the general carpet of cranberries and heather. The carpenter, the smith, the fox-hunter, the saw-millers, the wheel-wright, the few Chelsea pensioners, each had his little field, while comparatively larger holdings belonged to a sort of yeomanry coeval with our own possession, or even some of them found there by our ancestor the Laird of Muckerach, the second son of our Chief, who displaced the Shaws, for my father was but the seventh laird of Rothiemurchus; the Shaws reigned over this beautiful property before the Grants seized it, and they had succeeded the Comyns, lords not only of Badenoch but of half our part of the north besides. The forest was at this time so extensive there was little room for tillage through the wide plain it covered. It was very pretty here and there to come upon a little cultivated spot, a tiny field by the burn-side with a horse or a cow upon it, a cottage often built of the black peat mould, its chimney, however, smoking comfortably, a churn at the door, a girl bleaching linen, or a guid-wife in her high white cap waiting to welcome us, miles away from any other spot so tenanted. Here and there upon some stream a picturesque saw-mill was situated, gathering its little hamlet round; for one or two held double saws, necessitating two millers, two assistants, two homes with all their adjuncts, and a larger wood- yard to hold, first the logs, and then all they were cut up into. The wood manufacture was our staple, on it depended our prosperity. It was at its height during the war, when there was a high duty on foreign timber; while it flourished so did we, and all the many depending on us; when it fell, the Laird had only to go back to black cattle again "like those that were before him." It was a false stimulus, said the political economists. If so, we paid for it.

Before introducing you, dear children, to our Rothiemurchus society, we must get up a bit of genealogy, or you would never understand our relationships or our manners or connections in the north country. In the reign of the English popish Mary and of the Scotch regencies, in the year 1556, I think, but am not quite certain, the Chief of the clan Grant presented his second son Patrick with the moor of Muckerach in Strathspey, on which he built a tower. The mother of Patrick was a Lady Margaret Stewart, daughter of the Earl of Athole, and cousin to the Queen. Whom he married I forget. He had been a clever enterprising man, for the Shaws having displeased the Government by repeated acts of insubordination, a common offence in those times, their lands were confiscated, and the Rothiemurchus portion presented to the Laird of Muckerach—"gin he could win it"—which without more ado he did, and built himself a house at the Dell, the door stone of which he brought from his tower on the moor, and to this day there it is, with the date cut deep into it. The Shaws, though removed, remaining troublesome, he repaired the ruins of an old castle of the Comyns on an island in Loch-an-Eilan in case of any extraordinary mishap, and he pulled down and quite destroyed an old fort of the Shaws on the Doune Hill, leaving his malediction to any of his successors who should rebuild it. He must have had stirring times of it, yet he died peaceably in his bed, and was succeeded by sons, for some generations of no great note, a Duncan, a James, a Patrick, etc., none of them remarkable except Duncan, who was surnamed "of the Silver Cups" from possessing two silver cups, probably a rare piece of splendour in a Highland household in those days. A second James inherited more of the qualities of the first Laird; his father, whose name I am not sure of, but called in the Gaelic the Foolish Laird, was but a poor body; he let the Shaws get rather ahead again, married badly, and was altogether so unfit to rule that his rather early death was not regretted. He either fell over a rock or was drowned in a hunting party—nobody inquired into particulars.

The reign of his son opened unpleasantly; the Shaws were very troublesome, and Laird James had to fight them; the Shaws, of course, got the worst of it, though they lived through many a fight to fight again. At last their chief was killed, which sobered this remnant of a clan, but they had to bury him, and no grave would suit them but one in the kirkyard of Rothiemurchus beside his fathers. With such array as their fallen fortunes permitted of, they brought their dead and laid him unmolested in that dust to which we must all return. But oh, what horrid times! His widow next morning on opening the door of her house at Dalriavert caught in her arms the corpse, which had been raised in the night and carried back to her. It was buried again, and again it was raised, more times than I care to say, till Laird James announced he was tired of the play. The corpse was raised but carried home no more. It was buried deep down within the kirk, beneath the Laird's own seat, and every Sunday when he went to pray he stamped his feet upon the heavy stone he had laid over the remains of his enemy.

Laird James took to wife a very clever woman, the daughter of Mackintosh of Killachy, nearly related to the Mackintosh Chief (Sir James Mackintosh, the famed of our day, is that Killachy's descendant). Her name was Grace, but on account of her height, and perhaps of her abilities, she was always called in the family Grizzel Mor. I do not know what fortune she brought beyond herself and the contents of a great green chest, very heavy, with two deep drawers at the bottom of it, which stood in the long garret as far back as my recollection reaches, and held the spare blankets well peppered, and with bits of tallow candles amongst them. She was the mother of Macalpine—Patrick Grant, surnamed Macalpine, I don't well know why, the great man of our line, who would have been great in any line. He removed from the Dell to the Doune, built what was then thought a fine house there, and had the family arms sculptured and coloured set over the door. I remember regretting the shutting up of that door, and the dashing over of the coat-of-arms with yellow mortar and stones. His brothers were Colonel William Grant, who married in 1711 Anne, a daughter of Ludovic Grant of Grant, and was the founder of the Ballindallochs, and Mr John Grant, who died unmarried. He had plenty of sons and daughters by his wife, who was a grand-daughter of the Laird of Grant, his Chief, one of whose sisters was married to Lovat. Macalpine ruled not only his own small patrimony, but mostly all the country round. His wisdom was great, his energy of mind and body untiring. He must have acted as a kind of despotic sovereign, for he went about with a body of four-and-twenty picked men, gaily dressed, of whom the principal and the favourite was his foster-brother, Ian Bain or John the Fair, also a Grant of the family of Achnahatanich. Any offences committed anywhere this band took cognisance of Macalpine himself was judge and jury, and the sentence quickly pronounced was as quickly executed, even when the verdict doomed to death. A corpse with a dagger in it was not infrequently met with among the heather, and sometimes a stout fir branch bore the remains of a meaner victim. I never heard the justice of a sentence questioned. Macalpine was a great man in every sense of the word, tall and strong made, and very handsome, and a beau; his trews (he never wore the kilt) were laced down the sides with gold, the brogues on his beautifully-formed feet were lined and trimmed with feathers, his hands, as soft and white as a lady's and models as to shape, could draw blood from the fingernails of any other hand they grasped, and they were so flexible they could be bent back to form a cup which would hold a tablespoonful of water. He was an epicure, as indeed are all Highlanders in their own way. They are contented with simple fare, and they ask no great variety, but what they have must be of its kind the best, and cooked precisely to their fancy. The well of which Macalpine invariably drank was the Lady's Well at Tullochgrue, the water of which was certainly delicious. It was brought to him twice a day in a covered wooden vessel, a cogue or lippie.

There is no end to the stories of Macalpine's days— was none rather, for old-world tales are wearing out in the Highlands as everywhere else, and since we, the old race, have had to desert the spot where our forefathers dwelt, there is less going to keep alive those feudal feelings which were concentrated on the Laird's family.

Macalpine had by his first wife, Lady Mary, several sons—James who succeeded him, Patrick who went into the army, married some one whose name I forget, and retired after some years of service to Tullochgrue, and John, surnamed Corrour, from having been born at the foot of the rock of that name up in the hill at Glen Ennich. The young cattle were always sent up in the summer to eat the fine grass in the glens, and the lady having gone up at this time to the sheiling (a mere but and ben which the herds inhabited), either to bleach her linens or for mere change of air, was suddenly taken ill in that wilderness. Without nurse or doctor she got as suddenly well, and brought her fine young son back with her to the Doune. The army was Corrour's destination of course; he saw a good deal of service, and I believe died somewhere abroad, a distinguished officer, though he began life by fighting a running duel, that is, challenging two or three in succession, rather than acknowledge his ignorance. He had brought with him to the south, where he joined his regiment, a horse accoutred; the horse died, and John Corrour went looking about for another to fit the saddle, which he insisted was the correct method of proceeding, and any one who questioned this had to measure swords with him. He had never seen asparagus; some being offered to him he began to eat it at the white end, which provoking a laugh at the mess table, he laid his hand on that terrible sword, and declared his undoubted right to eat what best pleased him. It is said that to his dying day he always put aside the tender green points of this vegetable. What marriages all the daughters of Macalpine made I never heard; one I know married Cameron of Glenevis. A few years after the death of Lady Mary, when her family had long been grown up and settled, Macalpine, then in his 78th year, took as his second bride a handsome woman, the daughter of Grant of Tullochgorm, a respectable tacksman. She bore him four sons, who were younger than some of his grandsons, Colonel William Grant, Captain Lewis Grant, George who was a sailor (a very uncommon profession for a Highlander), and died at sea, and Alexander who died young. Colonel William was a good deal abroad, he had been in the West Indies, Canada, etc.; he married in Ireland a widow of the name of Dashwood, who died childless, and the Colonel soon after retired to the Croft, where he lived happily, but not altogether respectably, to a good old age. His very handsome housekeeper, Jenny Gordon, bore him two children, our dearly-loved Annie and her brother Peter Macalpine Grant, whom my father sent out to India as a cadet. Being the eldest living member of the family, Colonel William was tacitly elected to conduct my mother to the kirk on her arrival as a bride in Rothiemurchus, and on this occasion he dressed himself in full regimentals, and wore a queue tied with very broad black ribbon which nearly reached down to his chair when he was seated. With cocked hat beneath his arm, he led her by the point of a finger, and walking backwards on tiptoe up the aisle in the face of the congregation, relinquishing her with a bow so low as made her feel much smaller than the little man who thus honoured her. He was the man of fashion of the circle, excelling in those graces of manner which belonged to the beau of his day. He piqued himself on the amount of noise he made when rinsing out his mouth after dinner, squirting the water back into his finger-glass in a way that alarmed his neighbours. I have no recollection of the Colonel, he must have died when I was very young. Captain Lewis I remember perfectly.

He had fought at the siege of Gibraltar, and was I daresay an excellent officer, a little, handsome, dapper man, very gentlemanly, gay in manner, neat in habits, and with all the pride and spirit of his race. He had been given Inverdruie when my father resolved to make the Doune his own residence, and there I remember him from my earliest days till the autumn of 1814, when we lost him. His first wife, a Duff from Aberdeenshire, a pretty little old lady, had lived very unhappily with him, particularly since the death of their only child, a son, who had also gone into the army. They lived together for many years without speaking, though occupying the same rooms and playing backgammon together every night; when either made a disputed move the adversary's finger was silently pointed to the mistake, no word was ever spoken. My mother and my aunts rather liked the Captain's lady. She was the picture of a little old gentlewoman, riding every Sunday to church in a green joseph and black bonnet, her pony led by a little maiden in a jacket and petticoat, plaid and snood. She also wore the hat perpetually, inside the house and out of it. The joseph was the habit of ceremony, put on when she made her calls or dined with the Laird. She wore a sort of shirt beneath the joseph with neatly plaited frills and ruffles. The Captain made a much happier second choice, Miss Grace Grant, Burnside, an elderly and a plain woman who had for some years kept house for her uncle, Macpherson of Invereshie, and whom the Captain had always liked and had toasted, as was the fashion of his day, whenever after dinner he had proceeded beyond his second tumbler. She was installed at Inverdruie when we came back in 1812 to make our real home of Rothiemurchus; and at the Croft, instead of the Colonel was the cousin James Cameron, the grandson of Macalpine, his mother having been the Lady Glenevis; and he had married his cousin, a granddaughter of Macalpine, her father being Patrick Grant of Tullochgrue, brother of Laird James.

But we must return to Macalpine himself, who died at the age of ninety-two, of some sore in his toe which the doctors wished to amputate; but the Laird resolved to go out of the world as he had come into it, perfect, so the foot mortified. His eldest son James succeeded him; he was called the Spreckled Laird on account of being marked with the smallpox; he had some of the sternness of his grandfather James, the Cruel Laird, and some of the talent of his father, for in very troubled times he managed to steer clear of danger and so transmit his property unimpaired. He had married highly, a Gordon, a relative of the Duke's, who brought him a little money, and a deal of good sense, besides beauty. She was of course a Jacobite, sent help to Prince Charlie, secreted her cousin Lord Lewis (the Lewie Gordon of the ballad) in the woods, and fed him and his followers secretly, setting out with her maid in the night to carry provisions up to the forest, which, while she was preparing, she persuaded the Laird were for other purposes. Mr Cameron showed us the very spot near Tullochgrue where the rebels were resting when an alarm was given that the soldiers were in pursuit; they had just time to go through the house at Tullochgrue, in at one door and out at the other, and so got off to a different part of the forest, before the little pursuing detachment came up to the fire they had been seated round. The Lady Jean, though so fast a friend, could be, Highland like, a bitter enemy. She was systematically unkind to the widowed Lady Rachel, whose marriage indeed had been particularly disagreeable, not only to the family but also to the people; and she upon every occasion slighted the four young sons of Macalpine's old age. Poor Lady Rachel, not the meekest woman in the world, bore this usage of her children with little placidity. Once after the service in the kirk was over she stepped up with her fan in her hand to the corner of the kirkyard where all our graves are made, and taking off her high-heeled slipper she tapped with it on the stone laid over her husband's grave, crying out through her tears, "Macalpine! Macalpine! rise up for ae half-hour and see me richted!" She had indeed, poor body, need of some one to protect her if all tales be true of the usage she met with. Her sons, however, were honourably assisted by their half- nephews, and helped on in the world by them.

Three sons and two daughters were born to the Spreckled Laird and the Lady Jean; Patrick, called the White Laird from his complexion, always known to us as our uncle Rothie; he married a daughter of Grant of Elchies, a good woman and a pretty one, though nicknamed by the people the "yellow yawling," their name for the yellow-hammer, because her very pale skin became sallow as her health gave way; they had no children. The second son, William, the doctor, was my grandfather. Alexander, the third, and quite his mother's favourite, with his Gordon name, was a clergyman, married to an English Miss Neale; she bore him seven sons, who all died before their parents. Grace, the eldest daughter, married Cumming of Logie, Henrietta, the younger, and a great beauty, married Grant of Glen moriston; both had large families, so that we had Highland cousins enough; but of the elder set, all that remained when we were growing up were Mr Cameron, his wife, and her sister Mary, and our great grand-uncle Captain Lewis. Mr Cameron, though only a lieutenant, had seen some service; he had been at the battle of Minden, and had very often visited my grandfather in London. Poor Mrs Cameron was nearly blind, worn down too by the afflicting loss of all her children save one, a merchant in Glasgow. Miss Mary, therefore, managed the establishment, and kept the household from stagnating, as very likely would have been the case had the easy master and mistress been left to conduct the affairs of the Croft.

The Dell was after a very different style, the largest farm of any, but tenanted only by the forester, a handsome, clever, active little man of low degree. He had gained the heart of one much above him, the very pretty daughter of Stewart of Pityoulish, a tacksman on the Gordon property, and of some account in the country; the father made many a wry face before he could gulp down as son-in-law, the thriving Duncan Macintosh. The marriage turned out very happily; she was another Mrs Balquhidder for management— such spinnings, and weavings, and washings, and dyeings, and churnings, and knittings, and bleachings, and candle-makings, and soap-boilings, and brewings, and feather-cleanings, never are seen or even written of in these days, as went on in those without intermission at the Dell. And this busy guid-wife was so quietly gentle, so almost sleepy in manner, one could hardly suppose her capable of thinking of work, much less of doing an amount of actual labour that would have amazed any but a Scotchwoman.

I have written these memoirs so much by snatches, never getting above a few pages done at a time since the idle days of Avranches, that I cannot but fear I often repeat myself, so many old recollections keep running in my head when I set about making notes of them, and not always in the order of their occurrence either. The two years and a half we spent in Rothiemurchus after giving up England don't always keep clear of the summer visits to the dear old place afterwards, and about dates I am sure I am sometimes incorrect, for there are no sort of memoranda of any kind to guide me, and with such a long life to look back through now, the later years passed in such different scenes, I can only hope to give you a general impression of my youth in the Highlands. It was well we were so very happy within ourselves, had so large an acquaintance of all ranks of our own people, for except during the autumn months, when we were extremely in a bustle of gaiety, we had not much intercourse with any world beyond our own. Up the river there was Kinrara deserted; Mr Macpherson Grant, afterwards Sir George, who had succeeded his uncle at Invereshie, never lived there; Kincraig, where dwelt Mr and Mrs Mackintosh of Balnespick, we had little intercourse with; they had a large family, he was a zealous farmer, and she a very reserved woman. Belleville and Mrs Macpherson were in England, Miss Macpherson in Edinburgh, Cluny and his wife nobody knew. Down the river Castle Grant was shut up, the old General Grant of Ballindalloch dead, and his heir, also the heir of Invereshie, we were never very cordial with, although he was married to the sister of Mrs Gillies. Having almost none, therefore, of our own degree to associate with, we were thrown upon the "little bodies," of whom there was no lack both up and down the Spey. They used to come from all parts ostensibly to pay a morning visit, yet always expecting to be pressed to stay to dinner, or even all night. The Little Laird, for so my father was called—in the Gaelic, Ian Beag—and his foreign lady were great favourites; my mother, indeed, excelled in her entertainment of this degree of company, acted the Highland hostess to perfection, suited her conversation to her guests, leading it to such topics as they were most familiar with, as if she had primed herself for the occasion. Betty Campbell used to tell us that at first the people did not like their Little Laird bringing home an English wife, but when they saw her so pretty, so tall, so gentle, they softened to her; and then when came the chubby boy (for I was not accounted of, my uncle Rothie's deed of entail cutting me and my sex off from any but a very distant chance of the inheritance), a fine healthy child, born at the Doune, baptized into their own faith, my mother soon grew into favour; and when, in addition to all this, she set up wheels in her kitchen, learned to count her hanks, and dye her wool, and bleach her web, "young creature as she was," she perfectly delighted them. At this time in the Highlands we were so remote from markets we had to depend very much on our own produce for most of the necessaries of life. Our flocks and herds supplied us not only with the chief part of our food, but with fleeces to be wove into Clothing, blanketing, and carpets, horn for spoons, leather to be dressed at home for various purposes, hair for the masons. Lint-seed was sown to grow into sheeting, shirting, sacking, etc. My mother even succeeded in common table linen ; there was the "dambrod" pattern, supposed to be the Highland translation of dame-board or backgammon, the "bird's eye," "snowdrop," "chain," and "single spot," beyond which the skill of neither old George Ross nor the weaver in Grantown could go. We brewed our own beer, made our bread, made our candles; nothing was brought from afar but wine, groceries, and flour, wheat not ripening well so high above the sea. Yet we lived in luxury, game was so plentiful, red-deer, roe, hares, grouse, ptarmigan, and partridge; the river provided trout and salmon, the different lochs pike and char; the garden abounded in common fruits and common vegetables; cranberries and raspberries ran over the country, and the poultry-yard was ever well furnished. The regular routine of business, where so much was done at home, was really a perpetual amusement. I used to wonder when travellers asked my mother if she did not find her life dull.

You will now be able to follow us in our daily rambles, to understand the places and people whom in our walks we went to see. On rainy days we paced about the shrubbery, up the river to the Green or West Gate, over the Drum, back again to the White Gate and so home or out at the White Gate and along Tomnahurich to turn at the burn of Aidracardoch. In fine weather we wandered much farther afield; when we went to Inverdruie we passed the burn at Aidracardoch, over which a picturesque wooden bridge for foot- passengers was thrown. The saw-mill and the miller's house were close to the road, too close, for the mill when going had often frightened horses fording the stream. The miller's name was again Macgregor, that dispersed clan venturing now to resume the name they had been constrained to drop. They had, as was usual on such occasions, assumed the patronymic of whatever clan adopted them, remembering always that loved one which was their own. James Macgregor's father had been known as Gregor Grant, so the son slid the easier back to that of right belonging to him. The road held on under high banks of fine fir trees, then came the lighter birch, and then a turn brought us to the Loist Mor, a swampy field of some size backed by the forest—the view of which, as he drained it year by year, was so pleasant to the Captain that he had built himself a covered seat among the birch in front of it, which used to be the extent of his walk on a summer's evening. Ten minutes more brought us up a rugged brae and past the offices upon the moor at Inverdruie, in the midst of which bare expanse stood the very ugly house my uncle Rothie had placed there. It was very comfortable within, and the kind welcome, and the pleasant words, and the good cheer we found, made it always a delight to us to be sent there.

The Captain and Mrs Grant lived in the low parlour to the left of the entrance, within which was a light closet in which they slept; the hail was flagged, but a strip of home-made carpet covered the centre, of the same pattern as that in the parlour, a check of black and green. The parlour curtain was home-made too, of linsey-woolsey, red and yellow. A good peat fire burned on the hearth; a rug knit by Mrs Grant kept the fireplace tidy. A round mahogany table stood in the middle of the room; a long mahogany table was placed against the wall, with a large japanned tray standing up on end on it; several hair-bottomed chairs were ranged all round. A japanned corner-cupboard fixed on a bracket at some height from the floor very much ornamented the room, as it was filled with the best tall glasses on their spiral stalks, and some china too fine for use; a number of silver-edged punch-ladles, and two silver-edged and silver-lined drinking-horns were presented to full view on the lowest shelf, and outside upon the very top was a large china punch-bowl. But the cupboard we preferred was in the wall next the fire. It was quite a pantry; oatcakes, barley scones, flour scones, butter, honey, sweetmeats, cheese, and wine, and spiced whisky, all came out of the deep shelves of this agreeable recess, as did the great key of the dairy; this was often given to one of us to carry to old Mary the cook, with leave to see her skim and whip the fine rich cream, which Mrs Grant would afterwards pour on a whole pot of jam and give us for luncheon. This dish, under the name of "bainne briste," or broken milk, is a great favourite wherever it has been introduced. In the centre of the ceiling hung a glass globe to attract the flies; over the chimney-piece was the Captain's armoury, two or three pairs of pistols safely encased in red flannel bags very dusty from the peats, several swords of different sorts in their scabbards crossed in various patterns, and a dirk or two. On the chimney-slab was a most curious collection of snuff-boxes of all sorts and shapes and sizes intermixed with a few large foreign shells. The Captain, in a wig, generally sat in a corner chair with arms to it, never doing anything that ever I saw. He was old and getting frail, eighty-five or eighty-six, I believe. Sometimes when he was not well he wore a plaid cloak, and a nightcap, red or white, made by his industrious wife in a stitch she called shepherd's knitting; it was done with a little hook which she manufactured for herself out of the tooth of an old tortoise-shell comb, and she used to go on looping her home-spun wool as quick as fingers could move, making not only caps, but drawers and waistcoats for winter wear for the old husband she took such care of. She was always busy when in the house, and out of doors she managed the farm, and drove the Captain out in a little low phaeton I remember my father buying for them in London. Occasionally this first summer they dined with us, and then the old great grand-uncle looked very nice in his best suit. Mrs Grant was really charming, full of Highland lore, kind and clever and good, without being either refined or brilliant, and certainly plain in person. She had a fine voice, and sang Gaelic airs remarkably well. My mother was extremely attached to this excellent woman, and spent many a morning with her; we used to watch them convoying each other home after these visits, turning and returning upon the Tomnahurich road ever so many times as each lady neared her own premises, wondering which would be first to give in and take final leave of the other.

It was a good mile beyond Inverdruie to the Dell, and we had to cross five streams of rapid running water to reach it, for into so many channels did the river Druie divide about a couple of miles below the bridge of Coylam. The intervening strips of land were all thickets of birch, alder, hazel, and raspberries, through which the well-trodden paths wound leading to the simple bridges of logs without a rail that crossed the water, a single log in all cases but one, where the span being very wide two were laid side by side. We skipped over them better than I at least could do it now, but poor Miss Elphick! to get her over the one with two logs was no easy matter, the others she did not attempt for many a day unless assisted by some of the saw-miller's lads who obligingly waded the water by her side. One day we had a charming adventure on Druie side;, just as we were preparing to cross the bridge an old woman in a high-crowned cap, a blanket plaid, and a bundle on her back, stepped on to it on the opposite side. We were generally accompanied by an immense Newfound- land dog called Neptune, an especial favourite; he happened to be marching in front and proceeded to cross the log; on he stepped, so did the old woman, gravely moved the dog, and quietly came on the old woman, till they met in the middle. To pass was impossible, to turn back on that narrow footway equally so; there they stood, the old woman in considerable uncertainty. The dog made up his mind more quickly, he very quietly pushed her out of the way; down she fell into the stream, and on he passed as if nothing extraordinary had happened. She was a good old creature, just as much amused as we were, and laughed as heartily, and she spread the fame of Neptune far and near, for everybody had the story before the day was over.

The Dell was an ugly place, a small low house, only two or three stunted trees in the garden behind it, and a wide, sandy, stony plain all round, never a bit the more fertile for the regular inundation at the Lammas tide, when the Druie always overflowed its banks. Here the first lairds of Rothiemurchus had lived after a fashion that must have been of the simplest. It then became the jointure house, and in it the Lady Jean passed her widowhood with a few fields and £ioo a year. Mrs Macintosh was a tidy guid-wife, but nothing beyond the thriving farmer's helpmate. She and her husband lived mostly in the kitchen, and each in their own department did the work of a head servant. The cheer she offered us was never more than bread and cheese and whisky, but the oaten bread was so fresh and crisp, the butter so delicious, and the cheese— not the ordinary skimmed milk curd, the leavings of the dairy, but the Saturday's kebbock made of the overnight and the morning's milk, poured cream and all into the yearnin tub; the whisky was a bad habit, there was certainly too much of it going. At every house it was offered, at every house it must he tasted or offence would be given, so we were taught to believe. I am sure now that had we steadily refused compliance with so incorrect a custom it would have been far better for ourselves, and might all the sooner have put a stop to so pernicious a habit among the people. Whisky-drinking was and is the bane of that country; from early morning till late at night it went on. Decent gentlewomen began the day with a dram. In our house the bottle of whisky, with its accompaniment of a silver salver full of small glasses, was placed on the side-table with cold meat every morning. In the pantry a bottle of whisky was the allowance per day, with bread and cheese in any required quantity, for such messengers or visitors whose errands sent them in that direction. The very poorest cottages could offer whisky; all the men engaged in the wood manufacture drank it in goblets three times a clay, yet except at a merrymaking we never saw any one tipsy.

We sometimes spent an evening at the Dell. Duncan Macintosh played admirably on the violin, it was delightful to dance to his music. Many a happy hour have we reeled away both at the Doune and at the Dell, servants and all included in the company, with that one untiring violin for our orchestra.

A walk to the Croft led us quite in another direction. We generally went to the White Gate, and through the new garden on to the Milltown muir past Peter the Pensioner's wooden house, and then climbing over the wooden railing wandered on among the birch woods till we reached the gate at the Lochan Mor; that passed, we got into the fir wood, refreshed ourselves in the proper season with blackberries and cranberries, then climbing another fence re-entered the birch wood, in the midst of which nestled the two cottages called the Croft. The houses were not adjoining; the upper one connected with the farm offices was the family dwelling, the lower and newer one at a little distance was for strangers. Old Mrs Cameron, who was by this time nearly blind, sat beside the fire in a bonnet and shawl as if ready for walking, talking little, but sighing a great deal. Miss Mary bustled about in her managing way as kind as her nature would let her be; there was little fear of any one getting a Saturday's kebbock at the Croft I a little honey with a barley scone was the extent of Miss Mary's hospitality. They had always a good fire and a kind welcome for the Laird's children. We liked going to see them, and when Mr Cameron was not too busy with his farm and could stay within and play on the Jew's harp to us, we were quite happy. He played more readily and better at the Doune, the tender airs which suited the instrument affecting his poor melancholy wife, of whom he was passionately fond. He was a constant visitor at the Doune, dining with us at least three times a week, but no weather ever prevented his returning to the old wife at night; well wrapped in his plaid he braved all weathers, walking his two or three miles in the dark winter weather as if he had been thirty-six instead of seventy-six. He was thoroughly a gentleman; no better specimen of a Highlander and a soldier ever adorned our mountains. Old and young, gentle and simple, all loved Mr Cameron. He and Mrs Grant, Inverdruie, were two flowers in the wilderness; other society could well be dispensed with when theirs was attainable. Almost all my stories of the olden time were learned either at Inverdruie or the Croft; they never wearied of telling what I never wearied of listening to. John Grant of Achnahatanich was also one of the chroniclers of the past, but he never interested me so much in his more fanciful stories as did my old aunt and my old cousin in their apparently accurate relations. They may have insinuated a little more pride of race than was exactly suited to the "opening day," yet it did no harm so far as I was concerned, and the younger ones had no turn for these antiquities. Jane in childhood was more taken up with the scenery than the people.

The small farms in Rothiemurchus lay all about in various directions, most of them beautifully situated; the extent of the old forest was said to be sixteen square miles, and it was reckoned that about ten more were growing up, either of natural fir, or my father's planted larch. The whole lay in the bosom of the Grampians in a bend of a bow, as it were, formed by the mountains, the river Spey being the string and our boundary. The mountains are bare, not very picturesquely shaped, yet imposing from their size. Many glens run up them all richly carpeted with sweet grass peculiarly suited to the fattening of cattle, one or two of these ending in a lake dropped at the bottom of a screen of precipices. One pass, that of Larrig, leads to Braemar, Lord Fife's country, with whose lands and the Duke of Gordon's ours march in that direction. Several rapid streams run through the forest, the smaller burnies rattling along their rocky beds to join the larger, which in their turn flow on to be lost in the Spey. The Luinach and the Bennie are quite rivers, the one rises north from Loch Morlich in Glenmore, the other south from Loch Ennich in Glen Ennich; they join just above the bridge of Coylam and form the Druie, an unmanageable run of water that divides, subdivides, and sometimes changes its principal channel and keeps a fine plain of many acres in a state of stony wilderness. The vagaries of the Druie were not alone watched by the crofters on its bank with anxiety. There was a tradition that it had broken from its old precincts on the transference of the property to the Grants from the Shaws, that the Grants would thrive while the Druie was tranquil, but when it wearied of its new channel and returned to its former course, the fortune of the new family would fail. The change happened In 1829, at the time of the great Lammas floods so well described, not by our pleasant friend Tom Lauder, but by a much greater man, Sir Thomas Dick Lauder of Fountainhall, the Grange, and Relugas, author of Lochandhu and the Wolf of Badenoch. We used to laugh at the prediction I

Besides the streams, innumerable lochs lay hid among the pine trees of that endless forest. On one of these was the small island completely occupied by the ruins of the Comyn fortress, a low long building with one square tower, a flank wall with a door in it and one or two small windows high up, and a sort of house with a gable end attached, part of which stood on piles. The people said there was a zigzag causeway beneath the water, from the door of the old castle to the shore, the secret of which was always known to three persons only. We often tried to hit upon this causeway, but we never succeeded.
A great number of paths crossed the forest, and one or two cart-roads; the robbers' road at the back of Loch-an-Eilan was made by Rob Roy for his own convenience when out upon his cattle raids, and a decayed fir tree was often pointed out as the spot where Laird James, the Spreckled Laird, occasionally tied a bullock or two when he heard of such visitors in the country; they were of course driven away and never seen again, but the Laird's own herds were not touched. It has been the fashion to father all moss- trooping throughout the Highlands on Rob Roy, but there was a Macpherson nearer to us, and a Mackintosh equally clever at the gathering of gear—Mackintosh of Borlam, of whom I shall have more to tell anon.

In a country of such remarkable beauty, and with so many objects of interest to add to the mere pleasure of exercise, our long walks became delightful even to such a Cockney as Miss Elphick; she was a clever woman, and soon came to appreciate all the worth of her new situation. She studied up to it, and though an innate vulgarity never left her, the improvement in her ideas was very perceptible. She corresponded occasionally with her only surviving sister, and regularly with a Mr Somebody, a builder; when she became more sociable she used to read to us her letters descriptive of the savage land she had got into, and what was worse for us, she recounted her love adventures. No beauty, no heiress, ever had been the heroine of more romances than had fallen to the share of this little bundle of a body, by her own account. It never entered our young heads to doubt the catalogue. Mr Somebody's replies did not come very frequently from the beginning, neither were they very long, and by degrees they ceased. She did most of the writing. I remember her description of her first kirk Sunday was cleverly and truthfully and most amusingly told; it must have astonished a Londoner.

The unadorned but neat small kirk is very different now, when hardly any one sits in it, from what it was then, when filled to overflowing. It was much out of repair; neither doors nor windows fitted, the plaster fallen from the roof lay in heaps about the seats, the walls were rough, the graveyard overgrown with nettles, even the path from the gate was choked with weeds in many places. Far from there being any ceremony about this Highland style of worship, there was hardly even decency, so rude were all the adjuncts of our "sermon Sunday." Mr Stalker was dead—the good man who drank so many cups of tea, whom my wicked aunt Mary used to go on helping to more, cup after cup, till one evening they counted nine, always pressing another on him by repeating that his regular number was three! It was a luxury that probably in those dear times the poor Dorninie could seldom afford himself at home, for he had a wife and children, and his income must have been economically managed to bring them all through the year. He had 65 from Queen Anne's bounty, a house and garden and a field and Lw from my father, and he taught the school. My mother got his wife £4 additional for teaching sewing, which they hailed as a perfect godsend. Well, he was gone, and he had not been replaced, so we had sermon only every third Sunday in our own kirk; the devout attended the neighbouring parishes on the blank days, some of the kirks being at no great distance, speaking Highlandly, two to five or six miles. Good Mr Peter of Duthil was gone, he had died in the winter; his widow and her school removed to Inverness, and another Grant had succeeded him, for of course the patronage was very faithfully kept in the clan. The new minister was a perfect contrast to his predecessor ; he was fat, thickset, florid, with a large cauliflower wig on his large head. Within the head was more learning than maybe half a dozen professors could boast of among them, but it was not in the divinity line ; his turn was acutely satirical he had been both a poet and an essayist, what he was now it would be hard to say; he seemed to have no particular employment; his wife managed the glebe, the parishes managed themselves, and he certainly gave himself little trouble about his sermons. What he did in Gaelic I cannot say; in English he had but two, although he altered the texts to give them an air of variety; the text did not always suit the discourse, but that was no matter. The sermons were by no means bad, though from constant repetition they grew tiresome; it was lucky we had six weeks to forget each of them in. One was against an undue regard for the vanities of life, and always contained a sentence on the lilies of the valley, and Solomon's glory; the other was on charity. A violent Tory, detesting the House of Hanover, yet compelled to pray for the reigning family, he cut the business as short as possible—" God bless the King, and all the Royal Family; as Thou hast made them great make them GOOD," with great emphasis, and then he hurried on to more agreeable petitions. The kirk was very near our house, on a height in the field below the Drum, prettily sheltered by planting, and commanding from the gate a fine view of the valley of the Spey. The bell tolled from time to time, and as the hour for the service approached the crowd began to pour in from either side, the white caps and the red plaids gleaming through the birch woods on the bank between the kirk field and the Drum, through which the path lay. Our farm people moved up from the low grounds to join them, and 3uch of the house servants as understood the Gaelic; the rest followed us an hour or more later to the English portion of the ceremony. We generally walked from the house along the flow-dyke by the only piece left of the backwater, under the shade of natural alder to the right and a thriving plantation of larch to the left; a small gate painted green opened on the road to the West lodge; we had to cross it into the field and then step up the long slope to the kirkyard. My father opened the gate to let my mother pass; Miss Elphick next, we three according to our ages followed, then he went in himself. We sat in a long pew facing the pulpit, with two seats, one in front for the laird, and one behind for the servants. There was a wooden canopy over it with a carved frieze all round and supporting pillars flat but fluted, and with Ionic capitals like moderate rams' horns. Macalpine's seat was at the end, nothing to mark it but his scutcheon on a shield; the Captain, his surviving son, sat there. There were one hundred and sixty years between the birth of that father and the death of that son, more than five generations.

The stir consequent on our entrance was soon hushed, and the minister gave out the psalm; he put a very small dirty volume up to one eye, for he was nearsighted, and read as many lines of the old version of the rhythmical paraphrase (we may call it) of the Psalms of David as he thought fit, drawling them out in a sort of sing-song. He stooped over the pulpit to hand his little book to the precentor, who then rose and calling out aloud the tune—" St George's tune," "Auld Aberdeen," "Hondred an' fifteen," etc.—began himself a recitative of the first line on the key-note, then taken up and repeated by the congregation; line by line he continued in the same fashion, thus doubling the length of the exercise, for really to some it was no play—serious severe screaming quite beyond the natural pitch of the voice, a wandering search after the air by many who never caught it, a flourish of difficult execution and plenty of the tremolo lately come into fashion. The dogs seized this occasion to bark (for they always came to the kirk with the family), and the babies to cry. When the minister could bear the din no longer he popped up again, again leaned over, touched the precentor's head, and instantly all sound ceased. The long prayer began, everybody stood up while the minister asked for us such blessings as he thought best: with closed eyes it should have been, that being part of the 'rubric"; our oddity of a parson closed but one, the one with which he had squinted a the psalm-book, some affection of the other eyelid rendering it unmanageable. The prayer over, the sermon began; that was my time for making observations, "Charity" and "Solomon's Lilies" soon requiring no further attention. Few save our own people sat around; old grey-haired rough-visaged men that had known my grandfather and great-grandfather, black, red, and fair hair, belonging to such as were in the prime of life, younger men, lads, boys—all in the tartan. The plaid as a wrap, the plaid as a drapery, with kilt to match on some, blue trews on others, blue jackets on all. The women were plaided too, an outside shawl was seen on none, though the wives wore a large handkerchief under the plaid, and looked picturesquely matronly in their very high white caps. A bonnet was not to be seen, no Highland girl ever covered her head; the girls wore their hair neatly braided in front, plaited up in Grecian fashion behind, and bound by the snood, a bit of velvet or ribbon placed rather low on the forehead and tied beneath the plait at the back. The wives were all in homespun, home-dyed linsey-woolsey gowns, covered to the chin by the modest kerchief worn outside the gown. The girls who could afford it had a Sabbath day's gown of like manufacture and very bright colour, but the throat was more exposed, and generally ornamented with a string of beads, often amber; some had to be content with the best blue flannel petticoat and a clean white jacket, their ordinary and most becoming dress, and few of these had either shoes or stockings; but they all wore the plaid, and they folded it round them very gracefully.

They had a custom in the spring of washing their beautiful hair with a decoction of the young buds of the birch trees. I do not know if it improved or hurt the hair, but it agreeably scented the kirk, which at other times was wont to be overpowered by the combined odours of snuff and peat reek, for the men snuffed immensely during the delivery of the English sermon; they fed their noses with quills fastened by strings to the lids of their mulls, spooning up the snuff in quantities and without waste. The old women snuffed too, and groaned a great deal, to express their mental sufferings, their grief for all the backslidings supposed to be thundered at from the pulpit; lapses from faith was their grand self-accusation, lapses from virtue were, alas! little commented on; temperance and chastity were not in the Highland code of morality.

The dispersion of the crowd was a pretty sight; the year I write of dreamed of no Free Kirk doings; the full kirk nearly filled the field with picturesque groups, so many filing off north, south, east, and west, up the steep narrow road to the Drum, by the path through the bank of birchwood to the garden gate, along the green meadow beneath the guigne trees to the Doune farm offices—the servants by the green gate under the crooked beech tree to the house ; the family, after shaking hands and speaking and bowing and smiling all round, returning by the flow-dyke and the alders. The minister dined with us, and thus ended our Sunday, but not our acquaintance with him. We got to like this eccentric man, his head was so well filled, and his heart, in spite of the snarl, so kindly, that old and young we took to him, and often prevailed on him to spend a few days with us. He was a disappointed man, equal to a very different position, and he was lost in the manse of Duthil, far from any mind capable of understanding his, and not fitted to go actively through the duties of his calling.

Far different, yet no truer or better divine, in one sense of the word, was his neighbour, our prime favourite, the minister of Abernethy, known through all the country as Parson John. He was a little merry man, fond of good eating, very fond of good drinking, no great hand at a sermon, but a capital hand at the filling or the emptying of a bowl of punch. He was no scholar; his brother of Duthil used to wonder how he ever got through the University, he had so little skill in the humanities—of learning. For good practical sense, honesty of purpose, kindness of heart, tender feeling combined with energetic action, Parson John could hardly have been surpassed. He found his parish a nest of smugglers, cattle-stealers, idlers, every sort of immorality rife in it. He left it filled by the best-conducted set of people in the country. He was all the more respected for the strictness of his discipline, yet a sly joke against the minister was much relished by his flock.

There was no very deep religious feeling in the Highlands up to this time. The clergy were reverenced in their capacity of pastors without this respect extending to their persons unless fully merited by propriety of conduct. The established form of faith was determinately adhered to, but the kit/lc questions, which had so vexed the Puritanic south, had not yet troubled the minds of their northern neighbours. Our mountains were full of fairy legends, old clan tales, forebodings, prophecies, and other superstitions, quite as much believed in as the Bible. The Shorter Catechism and the fairy stories were mixed up together to form the innermost faith of the Highlander, a much gayer and less metaphysical character than his Saxon-tainted countryman.

The other clergyman of our acquaintance was Mr Macdonald of Alvie, our nearest neighbour of the three. He was a clever worldly man, strictly decorous, not unfriendly, though most careful in his management, particular in ascertaining the highest price of meal, his stipend depending on the fluctuation of the market, the ministers being paid in kind, so many "boils of victual"—meaning corn. He preached well, rather at length, and made very fervent tiresome prayers and immensely long graces, and of all people in the world he was detested most heartily by our friend the minister of Duthil; his very name was an abomination, why we could never find out. He had been twice married, in neither case happily, both wives having become invalids. It never struck any one that the situation of his manse, nearly surrounded by water, could have affected the health of women not naturally strong. The second Mrs Macdonald was dying at this time. We often sent her delicacies, but never saw her; indeed we rarely saw any of the parsons' wives, they seemed to keep quietly at home, like Mrs Balquhidder, "making the honey."

We heard plenty, however, of the wife of Parson John, an excellent, managing woman, who kept her husband in great order. They had a large family, the boils of victual were not many, and the glebe lands were small. She had to keep her eyes open, and water the ash tree betimes in the morning. One of her most prolific sources of income was her dairy. She piqued herself on what she made of it, and was accused by the minister of a very economical use of its produce in the house, in order to send the more to market. Now, of all simple refreshments Parson John loved best a drink of fine milk, well coated with cream; this luxury his wife denied him, the cream must go into the churn, skimmed milk was fittest for the thirsty. In spite of her oft-repeated refusals and her hidden key she suspected that the minister contrived to visit the dairy, sundry cogues of set milk at times having the appearance of being broken into. She determined to watch; and she had not long to wait before she detected the culprit in the act, met him face to face in the passage as he closed the door. She charged him stoutly with his crime, he as stoutly denied it, hard words passed; but the poor minister! he had forgotten to take off his hat, he had put his mouth to the cogue, the brim of the hat had touched the cream—there it was fringed with her treasure before her eyes, an evidence of his guilt, and he denying it! What Highland wife could bear such atrocity? "Man," said the daughter of Dalachapple (ten acres of moor without a house on it), "how daur ye, before the Lord! and ye his graceless minister! see there!" He told the story himself, with remarkable humour, over the punch-bowl.

The Captain had another story of him; his sermons were mostly practical, he was unskilled in scholastic learning, and sometimes when he had gone his round of moral duties he would, for lack of matter, treat his congregation to a screed from the papers. They were stirring times, revolutions and battles by sea and land. The minister was a keen politician, his people by no means unwilling to hear the news, although they very earnestly shook their heads after listening to it. False intelligence was as largely circulated then as now, it came and it spread, and then it was to be contradicted. The parson gave it as he got it, and one Sunday delivered a marvellous narrative of passing events. Finding out during the week his error, he hastened honestly to correct it, so, on the following Sunday, after the psalm and the prayer and the solemn giving out of the text, he raised his hands and thus addressed his flock. "My brethren, it was a' lees I told ye last Sabbath day." How the minister of Duthil enjoyed this story!

The next incident that comes back on memory is the death of old George Ross, the henwife's husband; he caught cold, and inflammation came on; a bottle of whisky, or maybe more, failed to cure him, so he died, and was waked, after the old fashion, shaved and partly dressed and set up in his bed, all the country-side collecting round him. After abundance of refreshment the company set to dancing, when, from the jolting of the floor, out tumbled the corpse into the midst of the reel, and away scampered the guests screaming, and declaring the old man had come to life again. As the bet-caved wife had not been the gentlest of helpmates, this was supposed to be "a warning "—of what was not declared; all that was plain was that th spirit of the deceased was dissatisfied; many extraordinary signs were spoken of, as we heard from my mother's maid.

Before winter our cousin Patrick Grant of Glenmoriston died suddenly, while walking on the banks of his own beautiful river, of disease of the heart. I learnt a lesson from this event; some one told it to me, and I, very sorry, for Patrick had been kind to us, went straight to the drawing-room with my sad news. My mother immediately went into hysterics, was carried to bed, and lost her baby; all which was represented to me by my father as a consequence of my want of consideration. I had no nerves then (like the famous Duchess of Marlborough), and could not comprehend the misery caused by their derangement.

Our neighbour Belleville was the son of Ossian, the Mr Macpherson who pretended to translate Ossian, and who made a fine fortune out of the Nabob of Arcot's debts. Ossian Macpherson, Highland to the very heart, bought land round his birthplace, and built the fine house on the heights near Kingussie, which for many a year looked so bleak, and bare, and staring, while the planting on the hillsides was young. He had four children. To his eldest son, James, our friend, he left his large estates. The second, Charles, lie sent in the Civil Service to India, where he died. His two daughters he portioned handsomely. Our Belleville, who had also been in India, returned to take possession of his Highland property about the year 1800. He married the summer my sister Mary was born, and brought a young Edinburgh wife home to the two London sisters. Juliet Macpherson, the younger sister, very pretty and very clever, soon married Dr, after- wards Sir David, Brewster. Anne lived through many a long year with her brother and his somewhat despotic wife until he died, and she herself became the Lady Belleville. Our Belleville inherited many vexations. Ossian had got entangled in some law-suits, and his son knowing little of business left too much to his law- agents, and so it happened that after living handsomely for some years, he found it necessary to shut up Belleville, let the farm, and remove to the neighbourhood of London, where they watched the unravelling of their tangled skeins. Almost all their difficulties were over in this year of which I am writing. They had returned to Belleville, and from this time they were our kindest neighbours, living like ourselves, winter and summer, in their Highland home. We became naturally dependent on the resources of each other; never a shadow of disagreement came between us. The intimacy had the most favourable effect upon us young people; Belleville was thoroughly a gentleman, his tastes were refined, his reading extensive, his kindness unfailing. There was a harshness in the character of Mrs Macpherson that we could have wished to soften; her uncompromising integrity was applied sternly to weaker mortals. Her activity, her energy, and her industry, all admirably exerted in her own sphere of duties, rose up against any tolerance of the shortcomings in these respects of less vigorous temperaments. She measured all by her own rigid rules, her religious feelings partaking of this asperity. She was own sister to old Mause in the strength and the acrimony of her puritanism. I used so to wish her to say to herself, "God be merciful to me, a sinner," but she had no idea that there was a doubt of her being justified. She was right in principle, though ungentle, almost unchristian, in practice. This fault apart, a better woman never existed, anxious to help all around her of all degrees. She had a clear understanding, good quick abilities, and a warm heart. We owed much in many ways to Mrs Macpherson, and we ended the year with her, my father and mother, Jane and I, spending the Christmas—New style—with these good neighbours. We ourselves, who did everything Highland fashion, kept the Old style at home.

We had three harvest-homes to keep in Rothiemurchus: a very small affair at the Croft; luncheon in the parlour for us children only, and a view of the barn prepared for the dinner and dance to the servants. It was a much merrier meeting at the Dell; my father and mother and all of us, stuffed into or on the carriage, drove there to dinner, which was served in the best parlour, my father at the head of the table, Duncan Macintosh at the foot, and those for whom there was not room at the principal board went with at least equal glee to a side table. There was always broth, mutton boiled and roasted, fowls, muir-fowl—three or four pair on a dish—apple-pie and rice pudding, such jugs upon jugs of cream, cheese, oatcakes and butter; thick bannocks of flour instead of wheaten bread, a bottle of port, a bottle of sherry, and after dinner no end to the whisky punch. In the kitchen was all the remains of the sheep, more broth, haggis, head and feet singed, puddings black and white, a pile of oaten cakes, a kit of butter, two whole cheeses, one tub of sowans, another of curd, whey and whisky in plenty. The kitchen party, including any servants from house or farm that could be spared so early from the Croft, the Doune, or Inverdruie, dined when we had done, and we ladies, leaving the gentlemen to their punch, took a view of the kitchen festivities before retiring to the bedroom of Mrs Macintosh to make the tea. When the gentlemen joined us the parlour was prepared for dancing. With what ecstasies we heard the first sweep of that masterly bow across the strings of my father's Cremona! The first strathspey was danced by my father and Mrs Macintosh; if my mother danced at all, it was later in the evening. My father's dancing was peculiar—a very quiet body, and very busy feet, they shuffled away in double quick time steps of his own composition, boasting of little variety, sometimes ending in a turn-about which he imagined was the fling; as English it was altogether as if he had never left Hertfordshire. My mother did better. She moved quietly in Highland matron fashion, "high and disposedly" like Queen Elizabeth and Mrs Macintosh, for however lightly the lasses footed it, etiquette forbade the wives to do more than "tread the measure." William and Mary moved in the grave style of my mother; Johnnie without instruction danced beautifully; Jane was perfection, so light, so active, and so graceful; but of all the dancers there, none was equal to little Sandy—afterwards Factor—the son of Duncan Macintosh, but not of his wife.

Some years before his marriage the forester had been brought into our country by what was called the Glen- more Company, a set of wood-merchants from Hull, who had bought the forest of Glenmore from the Duke of Gordon for, I think, £20,000. They made at least double off it, and it had been offered to my uncle Rothie, wood and mountain, glen and lake, for £10,000, and declined as a dear bargain. Mr Osborne, the gentleman superintending the felling of all this timber, brought Duncan Macintosh from Strathspey as head of the working gangs, and left him in that wild isolated place with no companion for the whole winter but a Mary, of a certain age, and not well favoured. The result was the birth of Sandy, a curious compound of his young handsome father and his plain elderly mother. It was this Mary who was the cook at Inverdruie, and a very good one she was, and a decent body into the bargain, much considered by Mrs Macintosh. There was no attempt to excuse, much less to conceal her history; in fact, such occurrences were too common to be commented on. She always came to the Dell harvest-home, and after the more stately reels of the opening of the dance were over, when the servants and labourers and neighbours of that class came by turns into the parlour, Mary came among the others, and I have seen her figuring away in the same set with Mr Macintosh, his good wife looking on with a smile: too pretty and too good she was to fear such rivalry. At her marriage she had brought little Sandy home and as much as lay in her power acted a mother's part by him; her children accused her even of undue partiality for the poor boy who was no favourite with his father; if so, the seed was sown in good ground, for Sandy was the best son she had. It was a curious state of manners; I have thought of it often since.

We were accustomed to dance with all the company, as if they had been our equals; it was always done. There was no fear of undue assumption on the one side, or low familiarity on the other; a vein of good-breeding ran through all ranks influencing the manners and rendering the intercourse of all most particularly agreeable. About midnight the carriage would take our happy party home. It was late enough before the remainder separated.

The Doune harvest-home was very like that at the Dell, only that the dinner was at the farm kitchen and the ball in the barn, and two fiddlers stuck up on tubs formed the orchestra. A sheep was killed, and nearly a boll of meal baked, and a larger company invited, for our servants were numerous and they had leave to invite relations. We went down to the farm in the carriage drawn by some of the men, who got glasses of whisky apiece for the labour, and we all joined in the reels for the hour or two we stayed, and drank punch made with brown sugar and enjoyed the fun, and felt as little annoyed as the humbler guests by the state of the atmosphere.

We had no other ploy till Christmas Eve, when we started for Belleville. Even now, after all these years of a long life, I can bring to mind no house pleasanter to visit at. At this time the drawing-room floor had not been refurnished; they lived in their handsome dining-room and the small library through it. The company, besides ourselves, was only one or two of the young Clarkes and a "Badenoch body," but we had so kind a welcome; Belleville was a host in a hundred, Mrs Macpherson shone far more in her own house than she did in any other. Her lively conversation, her good music, and her desire to promote amusement made her a very agreeable hostess. We young people walked about all the mornings, danced and laughed all the evenings till the whist for the elders began, Belleville liking his rubber; and what particularly delighted Jane and me, we sat up to supper, a sociable meal, one we never saw at home where the dinner was late. At Belleville they dined at five o'clock, and as the card-playing was seldom over before midnight, the appearance of a well-filled tray was not mistimed. Roasted potatoes only, fell to our share, and a bit of butter with them. We were quite satisfied, so much so, indeed, that we privately determined, when talking over our happy evenings up at the top of that large house in one of the attic rooms no amount of peats could warm, that when we had houses of our own we would introduce the supper tray, and roasted potatoes should, as at Belleville, be piled on the centre dish.

Miss Macpherson, who liked all of us, was in great good-humour during our visit. We remained till after the New Year, and then returned home to make preparations for the passing of our Christmas-time—Old style—the season of greatest gaiety in the Highlands. It was kept by rejoicings and merry-makings amongst friends, no religious services being performed on any day but Sunday.


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