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Leaves from the Journal
Laying the Foundation Stone of our New House 28 Sept. 1853


Monday, October 11, 1852.

This day has been a very happy, lucky, and memorable one — our last! A fine morning.

Albert had to see Mr. Walpole, and therefore it was nearly eleven o’clock before we could go up to the top of Craig Gowan, to see the cairn built, which was to commemorate our taking possession of this dear place; the old cairn having been pulled down. We set off with all the children, ladies, gentlemen, and a few of the servants, including Macdonald and Grant, who had not already gone up; and at the Moss House, which is half way, Mackay met us, and preceded us, playing, Duncan and Donald Stewart [One of the keepers, whom we found here in 1848. He is an excellent man, and was much liked by the Prince; he always led the dogs when the Prince went out stalking. He lives in the Western Lodge, close to Grant’s house, which was built for him by the Prince.] going before him, to the highest point of Craig Gowan; where were assembled all the servants and tenants, with their wives and children and old relations. All our little friends were there: Mary Symons and Lizzie Stewart, the four Grants, and several others.

I then placed the first stone, after which Albert laid one, then the children, according to their ages. All the ladies and gentlemen placed one; and then every one came forward at once, each person carrying a stone and placing it on the cairn. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson were there; Mackay played; and whisky was given to all. It took, I am sure, an hour building; and whilst it was going on, some merry reels were danced on a stone opposite. All the old people (even the gardener’s wife from Corbie Hall, near Abergeldie, danced; and many of the children, Mary Symons and Lizzie Stewart especially, danced so nicely; the latter with her hair all hanging down. Poor dear old “Monk,” Sir Robert Gordon’s faithful old dog, was sitting there amongst us all. At last, when the cairn, which is, I think, seven or eight feet high, was nearly completed, Albert climbed up to the top of it, and placed the last stone; after which three cheers were given. It was a gay, pretty, and touching sight; and I felt almost inclined to cry. The view was so beautiful over the dear hills; the day so fine; the whole so gemuthlich. May God bless this place, and allow us yet to see it and enjoy it many a long year!

After luncheon, Albert decided to walk through the wood for the last time, to have a last chance, and allowed Vicky and me to go with him. At half-past three o’clock we started, got out at Grant’s, and walked up part of Carrop, intending to go along the upper path, when a stag was heard to roar, and we all turned into the wood. We crept along, and got into the middle path. Albert soon left us to go lower, and we sat down to wait for him; presently we heard a shot — then complete silence — and, after another pause of some little time, three more shots. This was again succeeded by complete silence. We sent some one to look, who shortly after returned, saying the stag had been twice hit and they were after him. Macdonald next went, and in about five minutes we heard “Solomon” give tongue, and knew he had the stag at bay. We listened a little while, and then began moving down hoping to arrive in time; but the barking had ceased, and Albert had already killed the stag; and on the road he lay, a little way beyond Invergelder—the beauty that we had admired yesterday evening. He was a magnificent animal, and I sat down and scratched a little sketch of him on a bit of paper that Macdonald had in his pocket, which I put on a stone—while Albert and Vicky, with the others, built a little cairn to mark the spot.

We heard, after I had finished my little scrawl, and the carriage had joined us, that another stag had been seen near the road; and we had not gone as far as the “Irons,” [These “Irons” are the levers of an old saw-mill which was pulled down, and they were left there to be sold — between thirty and forty years ago — and have remained there ever since, not being considered worth selling, on account of the immense trouble of transporting them.] before we saw one below the road, looking so handsome. Albert jumped out and fired, the animal fell, but rose again, and went on a little way, and Albert followed. Very shortly after, however, we heard a cry, and ran down and found Grant and Donald Stewart pulling up a stag with a very pretty head. Albert had gone on, Grant went after him, and I and Vicky remained with Donald Stewart, the stag, and the dogs. I sat down to sketch, and poor Vicky, unfortunately, seated herself on a wasp’s nest, and was much stung. Donald Stewart rescued her, for I could not, being myself too much alarmed. Albert joined us in twenty minutes, unaware of having killed the stag. What a delightful day! But sad that it should be the last day! Home by half-past six. We found our beautiful stag had arrived, and admired him much.


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