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Memoirs of a Highland Lady
Chapter XIII. 1814


IN years long gone by a certain William Grant had enlisted as a soldier and gone off to foreign parts, never to return in his former station among his people. He rose early from the ranks, and during a prosperous career in India won for himself fame, and rupees to balance it. A curious kind of narrow-minded man, he had, however, the common virtue of his race—he never forgot his relations; in his advancement he remembered all, none were neglected. There was a deal of good sense, too, in the ways he took to provide for them. One brother was never more nor less than a common soldier; we knew him as Peter the Pensioner, on account of sixpence a day my father got him from Greenwich, in lieu of an eye he had lost in some engagement. He lived in one of the cottages on the Milltown muir, with a decent wife and a large family of children, all of whom earned their bread by labour. We had a son in the wood-work and a daughter as kitchenmaid during the time their uncle the General was paying a visit to us. The next brother rose to be a major, and retiring from the army in middle life, settled on the farm of Craggan some miles down Speyside. His two sons, educated by the uncle, were both lieutenant-colonels before their death. The daughter, to whom he was equally kind, he took out to India, where she married a civilian high in the service. The rest of his relations he left in their own place, merely befriending them occasionally; but for his mother, when she became a widow and wished to return to Rothiemurchus, where she was born, he built a cottage in a situation chosen by herself, at the foot of the Ord Bain, surrounded by birch trees, just in front of the old castle on the loch. Here she lived many years very happy in her own humble way on a little pension he transmitted to her regularly, neither "lifted up" herself by the fortunate career of her son, nor more considered by the neighbours in consequence. She was just the Widow Grant to her death.

After she was gone, no one caring to live in so lonely a spot, the cottage fell to ruin; only the walls were standing when my father took a fancy to restore it, add to it, and make it a picture of an English cottage home. He gave it high chimneys, gable ends, and wide windows. Within were three rooms, a parlour, a front kitchen boarded, and a back kitchen bricked. He hoped my mother would have fitted it up like to her Houghton recollections of peasant comfort, but it was not her turn. She began indeed by putting six green-painted Windsor chairs into the front kitchen, and hanging a spare warming-pan on the wall, there being no bedroom in the cottage; there her labours ended. The shutters of those cheerful rooms were seldom opened, stones and moss lay undisturbed around its white-washed walls, hardly any one ever entered the door; but it had a good effect in the scenery. Coming out of the birch wood it struck every eye, and seen from the water when we were in the boat rowing over the loch, that single habitation amid the solitude enlivened the landscape. We young people had the key, for it was our business to go there on fine days to open the windows, and sometimes when we walked that way we went in to rest. How often we had wished it were our own, that we might fit it up to our fancy.

This spring I was furnished with a new occupation. My mother told me that my childhood had passed away; I was now seventeen, and must for the future be dressed suitably to the class "young lady" into which I had passed. Correct measurements were taken by the help of Mrs Mackenzie, and these were sent to the Miss Grants of Kinchurdy at Inverness, and to aunt Leitch at Glasgow. I was extremely pleased I always liked being nicely dressed, and when the various things ordered arrived, my feelings rose to delight. My sisters and I had hitherto been all dressed alike. In summer we wore pink gingham or nankin frocks in the morning, white in the afternoon. Our common bonnets were of coarse straw, lined with green, and we had tippets to all our frocks. The best bonnets were of finer straw, lined and trimmed with white, and we had silk spencers of any colour that suited my mother's eye. In the winter we wore dark stuff frocks, black and red for a while—the intended mourning for the king. At night always scarlet stuff with bodices of black velvet and bands of the same at the hem of the petticoat. While in England our wraps were in pelisse form and made of cloth, with beaver bonnets; the bonnets did in the Highlands, but on outgrowing the pelisses they were replaced by cloaks with hoods, made of tartan spun and dyed by Jenny Dairy, the red dress tartan of our clan, the sett originally belonging to the Grants. Our habits were made of the green tartan, now commonly known by our name, and first adopted when the Chief raised the 42nd regiment; it was at first a rifle corps, and the bright red of the belted plaid being too conspicuous, that colour was left out in the tartan woven for the soldiers; thus it gradually got into use in the clan, and still goes by the name of the Grant 42nd tartan.

I now burst out full-blown into the following wardrobe. Two or three gingham dresses of different colours very neatly made with frills, tucks, flounces, etc. Two or three cambric muslins in the same style with embroidery upon them, and one pale lilac silk, pattern a very small check, to be worn on very grand occasions —my first silk gown. A pink muslin and a blue muslin for dinner, both prettily trimmed, and some clear and some soft muslins, white of course, with sashes of different colours tied at one side in two small bows with two very long ends. In the bright, glossy, pale auburn hair no ornament was allowed but natural flowers. The gowns, very much flounced some of them, were not unlike what we wear now, only the petticoats were scanty and the waists short, so short as to be most extremely disfiguring. The best bonnet was white chip trimmed with white satin and very small, very pale, blush roses, and the new spencer was of blush-rose pink. Then there were pretty gloves, neat shoes, silk neckerchiefs, and a parasol. Fancy my happiness—I that had been kept so completely a child, was in fact so young for my age! It might have turned my head but for two or three circumstances. The drawing-room was so dull that, after a few stately days passed there in my new dignity, I slid back to my sisters in the schoolroom, undeterred from pursuing such studies as I liked by the foolish sneers and taunts of poor Miss Elphick, who, with the weak jealousy of an inferior mind, chafed extremely at losing a pupil; and after all, it was losing only the unlimited authority over her. Next, it was not easy to dress myself in my finery up in my corner of the barrack-room, and it was very difficult to carry myself and my flounces safely down the narrow turning stair which led to the passage opening on the front staircase. Also, having no wardrobe, my dresses were kept in a trunk; the one I wanted seemed generally somehow at the bottom of it, and so troublesome to get at.

A good deal of quiet gaiety took place this autumn. We had our usual relay of guests. Glenmoriston married this year; he and his bride were with us nearly a week on their way to Invermoriston after the wedding. Logie and Mrs Gumming were not with us; Alexander was for some time; he rode up on his pony, a fine boy, in deep mourning for his father, who had died suddenly under painful circumstances.

A public meeting had been held at Nairn, to be followed by a dinner; Logie was expected, and not arriving, the meeting had to proceed without him, and so had the dinner. The master of the hotel was a capital cook, famous for dressing mushrooms well. This was a favourite dish of Logie's, and Logie himself being a favourite, the landlord reserved a portion for him, keeping it hot in the copper skillet he had cooked it in. Logie did come, accounting in some way for his delay; he ate the mushrooms, was taken ill, every symptom that of poison, and he died in agony before the morning. His head was no great loss, but his heart was, for he was kind to everybody, and was long regretted by his neighbourhood.

Mr and Mrs Dunbar Brodie came as usual from Coulmonie, she riding on her grey pony, he driving all the luggage in a gig, flageolet included; and we went to the loch and rowed on the water and played to the echo, and then she measured all the rooms.

The Marquis and Marchioness of Huntly arrived at Kinrara. We gave them a few days to settle before calling, but might have spared our delicacy, for the following morning a great racket was heard at the ferry close to the house, and presently the peculiar laugh of the Marquis; soon he appeared at the window in his old shabby shooting-dress and one of his queer hats, without gloves, calling to my father and mother to come out, he had brought his wife to visit them; and there she was, like another Cinderella, in a beautiful baby phaeton drawn by four goats. The pretty animals were harnessed with red ribbons, and at every horned head there ran a little foot-page, these fairy steeds being rather unruly.

The whole equipage had been brought over in our small passenger boat. No sylph stepped out of this frail machine, but a stout bouncing girl, not tastefully attired, and with a pale broad face, fair—which he never liked—and stiff—which he could not endure. He grew very fond of her, and so did I; the rest of the family never took to her, and my father and mother remembering her predecessor, the beautiful brilliant Duchess, could not avoid making disadvantageous comparisons.

Kinrara too was different, a more elevated and very stupid society, dull propriety, regularity, ceremony. There was a feast of food, but not of reason; a flow of wine, but not of soul. I cannot wonder that they sighed over the change and thought with regret over the bright spirits departed.

They came and dined with us; we were alone. She was very timid. She never had the gift of conversation; she could talk well on a subject that interested her, and with a person she liked, otherwise she was silent. Buonaparte would not have chosen her for the wife of one of his marshals; she did not shine in her reception rooms. We did not get on well at this dinner, we ladies by ourselves in the drawing-room. I was of no use, having only just been brought out of the schoolroom; besides, it was not then the custom for young persons to speak unless spoken to. At last Lady Huntly proposed music, and on the pianoforte being opened she sat down to it to let us hear some Swiss airs she had picked up in her travels. The first chord was sufficient, the touch was masterly. In every style she played well, but her Scotch music, tender or lively, was perfection. Sir Walter Scott immortalised this delightful talent of hers in his Halidon Hill, and she merited his highest praise. I have never heard her surpassed or even equalled, as I do not reckon that wonderful finger-work now in fashion as worth listening to. Her lord, who was very little sensible of the power of harmony, was always pleased with her music, listening to it with evident pleasure and pride, particularly when she gave him the reels and strathspeys he danced so well, when he would jump up gaily and crack his fingers, and ask did any one ever hear better playing than that.

Of course we were to dine at Kinrara, a visit the idea of which frightened me out of my wits. I was not afraid of Lord Huntly, I knew him well and he was my cousin besides; but she was so stiff, and I knew there would be company, strangers, and I had never dined out. Young people did not slide into society then. They strode at once from pinafores, bread and butter, and the governess, into long petticoats and their silent, young-lady place. They did not add to the general sociability, most of them could not; unpractised as they were in all that was going and doing and saying, their little word would most likely have been put in out of season. In the ordinary run of houses company was anything but pleasant. Everybody seemed to assume an unnatural manner; they did not follow their customary employments; the books, and the drawings, and the needlework were all put carefully out of sight. All were put out of their way too by a grand fatigue day of best glass, best china, best linen, furniture uncovered, etc., making everything look and feel as unlike home as possible. It was not a welcome we gave our friends, but a worry they gave us.

In great houses there were skilful servants to take all this trouble and to prevent mistakes or fuss; in lesser houses it was annoying. There was little of this sort of troublesome preparation in our house, but there was a degree of formality, it was the manner of the day; and happily and easily as we lived with our parents when alone, or when only intimate friends were with them, we knew we were to keep at a respectful distance from company; it was a distasteful word, and the having to encounter all it meant in a strange house among strangers was far from agreeable.

After dressing myself in the blue muslin frock, with wild roses in my hair, I should have felt more at ease had not my mother thought it necessary to read me a lecture on proper behaviour, so depriving me of all self-possession; I was thoroughly uncomfortable during an evening that might have afforded me pleasure. Lord Huntly, too, increased this agitation by calling attention to me most unpleasantly. It was during dinner, that great long table filled with guests, covered with plate, brilliantly lighted, and a servant behind every chair. He was the greatest fidget on earth. He had a set of rules for his household, any infringement of which was visited by rigorous punishment. He used to be up himself to call the maids in the morning, in the kitchen at odd times to see what was doing; at no hour of the day, or the night indeed, was the family safe from the bright—very bright—eyes of my lord, peering here, there, and everywhere. So during the dinner he was glancing about all round the room, talking, laughing, apparently only intent on being agreeable; yet he knew all that was going on at the sideboard behind him better than Wagstaffe who presided there. The gentlemen-sportsmen between whom I was placed found very little to interest them in the shy replies made by a young girl, hardly beyond childhood, to their few civil speeches. They busied themselves elsewhere and left me to the use of my eyes, and for them there was abundant amusement. I was accustomed to long dinners with all their tiresome courses, therefore bore the tedium of this very patiently. At last we reached the "sweets," and I took some jelly; not finding a fork beside my plate I asked my attendant for one, very gently too—I hardly heard my own voice. But Lord Huntly heard it right well—out he burst: "No fork for Miss Grant! A fork for Miss Grant Rothiemurchus directly! Wagstaffe, pray who attends to these things? Who sees the covers laid? Great inattention somewhere! This must not happen again. Lizzy, have you got your fork? Now for the jelly, ha! ha! ha!" How I wished I had made shift with the spoon. I would gladly have sunk under the table, for the storm had hushed every voice and turned every eye on poor me. I hardly ever remember feeling more miserable. Certainly bashfulness is very near akin to vanity. Jane would have gone through the whole unmoved, and would have thought Wagstaffe and suite fully deserving of the reproof they got.

My next public appearance was much happier. It was the house-warming at the Croft. The family had already taken possession of the pretty new cottage, and the old had been turned into offices. Mr Cameron had promised us a dance to commemorate the change; he now determined to give a dinner first, a dinner superintended by Mrs William, who had been invested by her father-in-law with all power over the new premises.

My father and mother and William went to the dinner, the rest of us followed to the tea in our favourite equipage, a cart filled with hay. We always went in a cart to the Dell when we could, because of the seven streams of the Druie we had to ford; it was so charming to be close to the water and to hear ourselves rumble over the stones ; the hay prevented our being hurt by the jolting, and plenty of plaids kept us warm. Even Miss Elphick enjoyed this manner of visiting. We generally sang all the way, bursting into screams of laughter when a big stone under the wheel cut short a holding note. We had a rough enough road to the Croft, a mere cart-track past the Fairy's Knowe to the Moss Riachan, and so on into the birch wood. William Cameron afterwards made a good approach to his house by this route, admired by every one but me; I had something of my aunt Lissy in me, and liked it all in the wild state. The gates were all open for us—a lucky thought, as they had no hinges; they were merely tied by two withes on one side and one on the other, and had to be pulled back by a strong arm.

Between parlour, kitchen, and barn we had nearly all Rothiemurchus at the Croft house-warming; Duncan Macintosh playing his best, his son Johnnie in tartan, and our Johnnie in his frightful short-waisted nankin frock and trousers, dancing the fling with all their hearts and cracking their small fingers. Old Mr Cameron danced too, and called for his tune The Auld Wife ayont the Fire, and instead of kissing his partner went up and kissed the old lady where she sat by the hearth in the old chair, and in the bonnet and shawl and green shade as usual. We were all so merry except her; she was neither graver not gayer than was her wont.

This merry dance there was the end of the old times. Whether the old lady had caught cold when moving, or whether her ailing frame had simply been worn out, she never seemed to thrive after leaving the little "but and ben" she had so long lived in. Before the winter set in Mrs Cameron died without any suffering. She was buried with the rest of us in the small enclosure in the kirkyard, her husband appearing at the funeral, in the house, and at the refreshment table, just as if it had been any other person's. He came in to visitors afterwards with his calm manner unaltered; there was no change in him to common eyes, nor in the proceedings of the family. There was only her chair empty, and a shade over his benignant countenance that never left it. Before the spring he was laid beside her. We were far away when we lost him. Many many years have passed since I last heard him try Crochallan—he never touched the "trump" after his wife's death—but I shall never forget Mr Cameron, a real Highland gentleman, loving us with the love of kin, teaching us all wisdom, piety and a lively fancy glowing through his clear, sound sense.

Before these melancholy events, we proceeded this pleasant autumn with the usual merry-makings. There was more company at the Doune, though I cannot remember who they were, and there were more dinners at Kinrara, no longer formidable, and a party at Belleyule during some days, when for the first time to my recollection I saw him whom by courtesy for many years we continued to call young Charles Grant. Writing that once familiar name again is pleasant to me, recalling so much that was enjoyable, although some little that awakens regret. He was no ordinary man, and to be so thoroughly estranged from one who had been quite a son of the house, a dear elder brother, is cause for grief in a world where few of us ever suit sufficiently for intimacy. There was no fault on either part, it was merely that our paths through life lay differently. His father had been with us most summers; he was our county member, so had to come to look after political interests. He was now intending to introduce his son to the electors against the time when he should himself, from age or weariness, disincline to continue in Parliament. The north country owed him much; we got canals, roads, bridges, cadetships, and writerships in almost undue proportion. My father, his firm friend and most useful supporter, seldom applied in vain for anything in the old Director's power to give. We had reason to be grateful for all his many kindnesses, but he was never to any of us the delightful companion that we found his son.

Young Charles was at this time deeply in love with Emilia Cumming. She was a lovely-looking woman— not a regular beauty, but more attractive than many handsome persons. Old Charles Grant had reasons for forbidding a marriage between them, and they were good ones, acquiesced in by his son, who yet had not the resolution to avoid her society. Year after year he dangled about her till her youth and her beauty went, and he found absence no longer a difficulty. Neither of them married.

Mrs Macpherson, who had known him from a child, was really absurdly attached to him. She was anxious we should make an agreeable impression on each other. I do not remember that he spoke ten words to me, nor looked a second time at the childish girl quite overpraised to him. On my part, half a look was enough; I thought him hideous, tall, thin, yellow, grave, with sandy hair, small light eyes, and a shy awkward manner, though nearly as old as my father and already of some note among clever men. These were the dear friends of after-days! We have often laughed over our introduction.

Then came the Pitmain Tryst. It was an old custom to hold a cattle market yearly in the month of September on a moor between Kingussie and Pitmain. Instead of as in Ireland, the farmers flying about on cars to fairs, dressed in old clothes and with bank-notes in an inside pocket, to buy a lot of beasts from the small rearing farmers, choosing them here and there according to their fitness for the quality of grass they are destined to fatten on, our Highland proprietors reared large stocks of young cattle, disposed of regularly once a year at the current price. Belleville had a hundred cows, thus he had every year a hundred stots, sold generally for from £7 to £8 apiece. If any died during their period of growth he made up his number by buying from the cottar farmers, the only way these little bodies had of disposing of their single beast. Balnespick kept up fifty store cows, my father thirty. There was great emulation among them as to which reared the finest cattle. I must confess that though my father boasted of his superior breeding, great pains being taken to improve the stock, Belleville generally got the top price at the Tryst. The buyers were drovers, such men as Walter Scott most faithfully describes in Rob Roy. It was a separate trade. The drovers bought, and paid for, and carried off their purchase in large herds to the south, either to be privately disposed of or resold at Falkirk for the English market.

A few substantial yeomen farmers were gradually establishing themselves in the country, some of whom were also drovers, who tried hard by patient industry to rival the produce of the laird's fuller purse. They probably made more of the business in the end. Our fine Staffa bull was choked by an uncut turnip. His price swallowed up a deal of profit.

After the market in the morning, there was a dinner in the evening, drovers, farmers, and lairds all meeting in the large room at Pitmain to enjoy the best good cheer the county afforded. Lord Huntly presided, and sent a stag from Gaick forest. My father was croupier, and very grand speeches he and others made after the punch began to circulate.

This year it was proposed that the ladies should be invited to shine on the assemblage—not at the dinner, but to prepare tea in another room, which would break up the punch party earlier, and allow of the larger apartment being meanwhile prepared for dancing. Both Lord Huntly and my father were promoters of this sort of mixed meeting, so consonant to the spirit of feudalism still cherished throughout our mountains. They themselves were the life and soul of such gatherings, courteous to all, gay in manner, and very gallant to the fair. The ball was received with much favour, and in future always followed the Tryst, doing more in the way of improving the country than any one at first sight would suppose. Besides the renewal of intercourse between the ranks, leading to a continuance of kind feeling, a sort of stimulus was given to the spirits of those whom Belleville called the bodies. They had hardly finished talking over the pleasure of the one meeting before the preparations for the next had to be begun. Husbands were proud of producing handsome wives nicely dressed; mothers looked forward to bringing with them pretty daughters to be introduced to grander friends. The dress and the manners of the higher portion of the company had a sensible effect on the lower. Mrs John Macnab's first cap was greatly moderated on her second appearance, and Janet Mitchell's boisterous dancing fined down into a not unbecoming sprightliness of movement.

All this is over now. The few grandees shut themselves up rigorously in their proud exclusiveness. Those who could have perpetuated a better tone are gone, their places know them no more. Our former wise occasional reunions are matters of history; each section appears now to keep apart, unnoticed by the class above, and in turn not noticing the class below.

Lady Huntly did not do her part with all the charming kindness of her lord. She kept up at the head of the room among her own Kinrara guests, laughing so frequently that nothing could persuade the Laggan and Badenoch farmers that she was not ridiculing them. Her dancing did not quite redeem her character, though it was good, in the old reel and strathspey style. The sort of thing did not suit her, it was plain her being there at all was an effort.

The Lady Belleville was known of old to keep herself very distant, but she was a Southron, and little was expected from her. She sat up in her big red turban amid the great, and there she, and such as she, were allowed to sit; all the rest of the room were in high glee, dancing, old and young, almost without a rest.

One of the ladies most in repute as a partner was a very old Mrs Macintosh of Borlam, who lived in the village of Kingussie with her daughter, the widow of a Major Macpherson, and a comely widow too. The Leddy Borlam was said to be not far from ninety years of age, upright, active, slender, richly dressed for her station, and with a pleasant countenance. Her handsome silks caused many a sly remark. She was the widow of a celebrated freebooter whom Sir Thomas Lauder endeavoured to portray as "Lochandhu." There were many tales current of his doings in our part of the country. A cave he hid his treasures in was still open on the hill at Belleville, for he did not deal in black cattle only; no traveller was safe when Borlam wanted. His wife was said to have been frequently occupied in picking out the marks in the fine holland ruffled shirts it was his especial coxcombry to appear in, and it was more than whispered that he had given her braws enough to last beyond a lifetime; seemingly a true suspicion, for the Lady Borlam's silks would stand alone, and she had plenty of them. With them she wore the Highland mulch (the high clear cap of fine muslin, trimmed, in her case with Flanders lace), and then, calm as a princess, she moved about in her ill-gotten gear. She was a wonderful old woman, keen, merry, kindly, and as cute as an Irishwoman, never tripping in her talk, or giving the remotest hint of the true character of her lamented husband.

The Northern Meeting was to all of our degree as important a gathering as was the Badenoch Tryst to our humbler acquaintance. It had been set agoing soon after my birth by her who was the life of all circles she entered, the Duchess of Gordon. She had persuaded all the northern counties to come together once a year about the middle of October, and spend the better part of a week at Inverness. There were dinners and balls in the evenings; the mornings were devoted to visiting neighbouring friends and the beautiful scenery abounding on all sides. She had always herself taken a large party there, and done her utmost to induce her friends to do likewise—stray English being particularly acceptable, as supposed admirers of our national beauties! while enacting the part of lion themselves. No one with equal energy had replaced her; still, the annual meeting went on, bringing many together who otherwise might not have become acquainted, renewing old intimacies, and sometimes obliterating old grudges.

New dresses had come for my decoration, and beautiful flowers chosen by dear Annie Grant, her last kind office for a while for any of us. There were white muslin with blue trimmings, shoes to match, and roses; white gauze, pink shoes and trimmings, and hyacinths; pearl-grey gauze and pink, and a Bacchus wreath of grapes and vine leaves, for we had three balls, dinners before the first two, and a supper after the last. With what delight I stepped into the barouche which was to carry us to this scene of pleasure! I had no fears about partners, Pitmain had set me quite at ease on that score. We went through the ford at Inverdruie, every one we met bidding us godspeed, and looking after us affectionately—for it was an era in the annals of the family, this coming out of Miss Grant—and we stopped at Aviemore to have a few pleasant words with Mrs Mackenzie. It had been a beautiful drive so far, all along by the banks of the Spey, under the shade of the graceful birch trees, the well-wooded rock of Craigellachie rising high above us to the left after we had crossed the river. Just at the foot of this, our beacon-hill, there lies, quite close to Aviemore, a little loch shrouded in the wood, and full of small sweet trout, which during the earthquake at Lisbon was strangely agitated, dashing about in its small basin in a way not soon to be forgotten. It is the last bit of beauty on the road for many a long mile. A bare moor, with little to mark on it or near it, leads on to the lonely inn at Freeburn, a desolate dirty inn, where never was found a fire, or anything comfortable. A short way from this abode of despair, a fine valley far below opens on the view, containing a lake of some extent, the banks artificially wooded, a good stretch of meadowland, and a new house built by the Laird of Mackintosh, the Chief of his Clan," my uncle Sir Eneas." The planting was then so young that even in that wilderness this solitary tract of cultivation was hardly worthy of much praise. Later on it grew into a fine place—roads were made, and shrubberies and gardens, and the trees grew to a goodly size, but the succeeding Mackintosh did not live there; he preferred Divie Castle near Inverness, and Moy, the ancient residence of his family, was let to sportsmen. From Freeburn the moor extends again, another dreary waste till we reached a wild scene I always admired. The Findhorn, an unsheltered, very rocky stream, rises somewhere beyond the ken of travellers, and tumbles on through a gully whose high banks give only an occasional glimpse of fair plains far off. A new road has been engineered along the sides of this "pass of the wild boars," Slochd Mor, thought a wonder of skill when viewed beside the narrow precipitous pathway tracked out by General Wade, up and down which one could scarcely be made to believe a carriage, with people sitting in it, had ever attempted to pass. My mother had always walked those two or three miles, or the greater part of them, the new route not having been completed till some years after her marriage. A third now puts to shame that much-praised second, and the planting, the cottages with gardens, and the roadside inns have all given a different character to this once bare region. There is no change, however, near Inverness; there could be no improvement. It breaks upon the eye weary of the monotony of the journey as a fairy scene on drawing up a curtain. On rising the hill at the Kirk of Divie—where the curious belfry is ever so far from this desolate place of worship-.---the whole of the Moray Firth, with the bounding Ross-shire hills, the great plain of Culloden, Loch Ness, the mountains beyond that fine sheet of water, the broad river, and one of the prettiest of towns scattered about its banks just as it meets the sea, open before wondering eyes. That vale of beauty must have been a surprise to the first discoverer—no Roman; their legions crept along the coast to reach their fort at Euchiass, they never tried the Grampians.

We put up at Mr Cooper's good house in Church Street, where we were made very welcome and very comfortable; and being tired with our day's work, we enjoyed a quiet evening with Mrs Cooper and her girls. We had come purposely the day before the first ball for the rest. The next morning I was sent with some of the children to Castle Hill, a very pretty farm of Mr Cooper's three miles from Inverness. We came back in time for me to get my toilet laid out ready, and my mother's too, with help, and to have my hair dressed by Mr Urquhart.

Probably all young girls have felt once in their lives, at least, as I felt on mounting the broad, handsome staircase of the Northern Meeting rooms on my father's arm. The hall was well lit, the music sounded joyously, and my heart beat so high, it might have been seen to palpitate! My mother and I passed into a suite of waiting-rooms, where poor Peggy Davidson's aunt attended to take care of the wraps, then rejoining my father we entered, through the large folding-doors, our fine assembly rooms. All was noise and blaze and mob. I could neither see nor hear distinctly. A pleasant voice sounded near, it was Glenmoriston's; he was there with his wife, and his sisters, and her sisters, and their husbands and cousins, a whole generation of us. A little farther on we encountered relations I did not know, Colonel and Mrs Rose of Holme, just returned from India; she was a little plain woman loaded with diamonds; he was delightful, although he did introduce to me a very ugly small, pock-marked man, the captain of the Indiaman who brought them home, and with this remarkable partner I joined the long country dance then forming. My captain danced well; he was very pleasant too, and much amused at the shaking of hands that took place between me and half the room. We were really acquainted with almost everybody, and of kin to a great number.

Lord and Lady Huntly were there with a large party. Old Lady Saltoun ditto, dancing away in an open frock almost as lightly as her pretty daughter Eleanor—who afterwards married young Mr Grant of Arndilly—and she near eighty. Charlotte Rose, now Lady Burgoyne, was very pretty, and danced beautfully; but the beauties of the room, I thought, were the two Miss Duffs of Muirtown—tall, graceful girls with a pensive air that made them very attractive. My next partner was Culduthel—poor Culduthel !—a fine, gay, good-natured, rattling young man. Then Lord Huntly in a reel vis-â-vis to his wife, then Sir Francis Mackenzie of Gairloch, then one or two of the Kinrara gentlemen, and all the rest of the evening Applecross—Mackenzie of Applecross, the last of his clever line. He was the catch of the north country from the extent of his property, and though very plain, sickly, and no great use as a dancing partner, he would have been, without a penny, a catch for any one worthy of him. Had he lived, he would have ably filled his position, but he and his only sister both died of consumption a few years after this, and before their parents. A writer in Edinburgh, with a large family, succeeded to that fine Ross-shire property.

Mr Cooper told us at breakfast that my first appearance had been a decided success. I was perfectly aware of it, and not one bit elated, though my mother was, and her maternal anxieties had gone farther than mine; I had stopped at abundance of dancing.

This evening's ball was pleasanter than the first; the third and last, with the supper, was best of all, even in spite of a drawback. Every joy has its attendant sorrow, every rose its thorn, and I had the persevering assiduities of a good-natured and rather vulgar person quite unable to see that his company was disagreeable. In no way could I escape two or three dances with this persistent young man, to my extreme annoyance, and, as it seemed to me, the unreasonable amusement of my new friend, Mr Mackenzie of Applecross.

The mornings had hung heavy to many, but not to me. Most people lounged about the narrow ill-paved streets, paid each other visits, or congregated in our northern emporium of fashion, Mr Urquhart the hairdresser's shop. My father took my mother, Mrs Cooper, one of the girls, and me for charming drives in several directions; it was impossible to turn amiss, the whole surrounding scenery is so enchanting. We had visitors too, people calling early, before luncheon; Mrs Rose of Kilravock, the dowager, was one of them. An extraordinary woman, once a beauty and still a wit, who was matronising two elderly young ladies, West Indians of large fortunes, and amusing them and every one else with her clever eccentricities and tales of her brilliant youth. She had been often at Kinrara in former days with Jacky Gordon, the particular friend of the Duchess.

It was after our return home that Mrs Cameron of the Croft died,


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