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The Long Glen
Chapter X - Am Fuadach


WHILE expecting a Crown presentation, backed by a unanimous Call to his northern parish, the minister was innocently led into a scrape, which caused him a great deal of vexation.

On a misty autumnal morning, when potato shaws were turning yellow, and the drowsy bees were murmuring among the red and white blossoms of clover foggage, an elopement party of three women and two men came to the manse, asking that one pair of them should be forthwith joined in matrimony with the blessing of the Kirk. One of the men was advanced in years—an old shepherd from the other side of the hills, who was pretty well known in the Glen. The others were the bride and her sister—nieces of the old shepherd—and the bridegroom and his sister. They had come twenty miles, and so had been during most of the night on the path of the heath.

Now, on getting to the manse, they were much disappointed to be told that the minister was not just then at home, because he had gone early to his little farm on the further side of the river, to see about the thatching of his haystack, and other things needing supervision—for a very good farmer was the minister. They were invited to sit down and wait his return; and, indeed, all about the manse, the minister's wife included, were much impressed by the good looks of the bride and bridegroom, and not at all shocked by what they had done. And in the old-fashioned way, the hospitality of the manse was pressed on them, but they frankly said they feared pursuit and interruption, and they were accordingly sent on their way to find the minister, with the manse herd boy to guide them.

They found the minister on his farm field, and there and then the runaway couple were married in presence of the minister's man, the herd boy, and a few persons from the nearest houses.

Elopements were not uncommon. Nor were they condemned by public opinion. Usually a girl that made up her mind to run away to get married broke some chain of unduly exercised authority which ought to be broken. It was so in this case also, but the broken chain had a twist of its own, which was quite exceptional, and which, on being discovered when too late, much troubled the minister. Once upon a time, and that not long before this time either, the old minister of Kilmachaoide, whenever he or his elders knew the runaways, would marry them without "lines," on their promising to pay the proclamation fees afterwards to the Session-Clerk, and a fine to the Session for the Poors' Fund. This practice was peremptorily forbidden by the Presbytery ; but the old minister, who had made a runaway marriage himself, would now and then, when he knew the runaways, brave the wrath of the Presbytery to the last day of his life.

Our couple from the mist had their "lines" right enough, showing that their purpose of marriage had been duly proclaimed in their own Parish Church, for the first, second, and third times, on the preceding Sunday—this being Wednesday morning. And the preceding Sm clay was one of the stormy, wet days on which a runaway proclamation -would be likely to pass quietly in a large parish, since the weather, aided by other means, would keep the person or persons who were to be kept "dark" away from Kirk. It was wonderful with what zest and co-operation the keeping dark process was sometimes effected. When it could not be trusted, the bride had no choice but to compromise herself irretrievably, by running off with her man first, and getting the banns then defiantly proclaimed, in face of her indignant parents or guardians. Since the old minister of Kilmachaoide's death, there was no escape from the "banns."

But the couple from the mist had their "lines" all right, and the old shepherd uncle, although not well known to the minister, was a tower of strength, because he was known to the minister's man, and to the people of the Glen generally. Well, the old shepherd's bonnie niece was married to the "hero of her heart," and the party of five turned their faces at once to the hills, and disappeared in the white mist.

They disappeared in the white mist, following the pass that led back to their own country. But they did not follow it long. When they came to the top of the range they slanted away in another direction to the lonely house of that respectable shepherd, far up the heather, where they were welcomed by a piper and a band of lasses and shepherds, who had gathered to make a night of it, and see the young couple wedded and bedded. It was, in fact, necessary in their case that the marriage should be perfected by the avowal of contract before witnesses; for certainly there was a most unusual hitch in the ecclesiastical proceedings, as intimated in the following song, made (in Gaelic of course) by one of the wedding guests, before .the night ended, on

CROMBIE'S DAUGHTER.

One lover was dark, one lover was fair:
And whom to choose was the puzzle sair
To Crombie's daughter.
Sheep, home, and cows had the lover fair,
Than his plaid the dark had naething mair
For Crombie's daughter.
Said father and mother—
"Take the fair,
The poor gillie-dubh I must never pair
With Crombie's daughter."

They're cried at the kirk, betrothed and a',
"I'll get me new gouns to mak me braw,''
Said Crombie's daughter.
"Bedding and airneis
I'll get them a',
But faith, the contract's not worth a straw,"
Said Crombie's daughter.
"Sure I'll make me a hole in the wa',
Steal the lines, be off and awa,"
Said Crombie's daughter.

The gillie-dubh was the true love still,
She kilted her goun, and off to the hill,
Did Crombie's daughter.
The heath she did take with right good-will,
And the fair man's lines did deftly steal—
Did Crombie's daughter.
She cheats the Kirk her wish to fulfil—
"To lie for my love is nothing ill,"
Says Crombie's daughter!

The minister was tricked by the "lines" or certificate of proclamation of banns given by the Session-Clerk of the parish to which the runaways belonged. The "lines" were genuine enough, but the gillie-dubh was not the man whose purpose of marriage with Crombie's daughter had been regularly proclaimed on the preceding Sunday. The girl got the "lines" from her fair betrothed, and next night ran off with her gillie-dubh. In other respects, too, she managed matters so artfully that her indignant parents and deceived lover went in pursuit in the wrong direction.

When the faulty religious ceremony—faulty because the gillie-dubh was married in the gillie-ban's name—was made good by promise and consummation, the bride and bridegroom re-appeared professing contrition, and readiness to be rebuked by the Kirk-Session of their parish. But their sin sat lightly on them, and public opinion readily condoned their misdemeanour. The young woman had schemed the whole affair, and who could be hard on a vivacious, good-looking girl of twenty-two, who had risked all for "the hero of her heart?"


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