the Ninth Concession
Chapter LVI - Auld Peggys Gratitude
DURING the days that Colin remained in the
settlement, he went about among his old friends, and sought by every
means possible to have them realise that the changed conditions of his
fortunes had made no difference in the disposition of his mind. Indeed,
he sought to be plainer and more homelike than ever; for he realised how
sensitive his old neighbours would be, and how likely even to
misunderstand and exaggerate any act, however trifling, if they fancied
he was conscious of the position to which he had fallen heir.
The worst danger that he had to fear arose from the
national pride of the Scottish people. There were many whom Colin would
have liked to assist, but he did not dare to propose it, for fear of
offending them, and lest they should think he was seeking to make a
display of his newly acquired wealth. But he helped those whom he could
without risking any offence.
Meeting Auld Peggy on the road one day, he stopped
her to ask how she was getting along.
"Muckle bawd," replied Peggy, who conceived that her
expectations would be more likely to be realised by putting on what she
called "a poor mouth," when talking to Colin. "Ahm sair troubled wi th
rheumatiz; an as fr Dugal, ye can see hes waur crippled up nor masel.
Aye, aye," she went on, as if ruminating, "povertys an unco
inconvanient thing, thet it is, Coalin, lad. But yell naver hae ony
experiences yersel th noo, wi yer graun hoose an a yer servants
tae wait on ye, haun an fit. Aye, but twill be th lucky woman 11
get ye, Coalin. But iverybody unnerstauns thet thets a settled an
arranged fr, an thet yer gaun tae tak th wuddows Katie aff wi ye
whan ye start fr th auld countree agen."
Colin smiled good-naturedly, and told Auld Peggy not
to be too sure, as there was "many a slip twixt the cup and the lip."
"Aye, thet there is," answered Peggy, ruefully. "Whan
Ah marrit McCallum, ower fufty year ago, Ah little dreamt thet Ah wad
hae tae mak ma ain way thru th wand. Although Ah thocht thet he wis a
richt, an Ah wis anxious-like tae get marrit an hae a hame o ma ain.
Ah hae aye regrettit iver syne thet thar hadna hae been a slup twixt th
cup an th lup, an thet afore he marrit me, McCallum hed not rinned
awa wi yoan hussy thet he took aff wi hum tae Wast Constant. But Ahm
no complainin, fr, as ye know, th Laird is guid tae His ain, an
Auld Peggys no been thet bawd thru life es tae forfeit a claim tae
His protection. Ah hae aye been es guids ma neighbours, an sa langs
ma bonnet wis fut tae wear tae meetin, Ah wis aye tae be foon in ma
seat, whuch, es ye know, Coalin, wis th second ane till th back on th
It should be explained that in the old established
kirk in the settlement, the men sat upon one side of the aisle, while
the women sat upon the other side. The entire congregation remained
seated during the singing of the Psalms, and stood up with their backs
to the minister during prayer. Colin assented to the words of Auld
Peggy, and she proceeded : "Ah naver made
much noise aboot ma releegion; Ah wisna like they Methody folk wha tried
tae stairt a kirk in th settlement an wha aften thank Goad thet they
hae been regenrit fr th eleventh or twalth time. Ah dinna believe in
yoan, dae ye, Coalin, lad?"
Without waiting for an answer, Auld Peggy continued:
"It hes aye been ma opeenion thet were saved by grace, an no by ony
lang prayers an blitherin experiences, sic es auld Nathan Larkins
tawks aboot whan hes pittin up what Jock, th drover, cas ain o his
powerfu peteetions. Ah hae aye been thankfu thet Ah hae been
regenrit aince, tae say naethin o a dizen er twa o times. Ah canna
staun they blitherin Methodys, onyway, can ye, Colin?" said Auld
Peggy, appealing to the young man.
Colin did not share the old womans antipathy to the
Methodists, but knowing how mightily she was down on them ever since
they endeavoured to establish an organization in the neighbourhood, he
gave an evasive answer.
"Ma opeenion hes aye been," continued Peggy, anxious
to give a parting shot to the denomination which she so much disliked, "thet
they Methodys are entoorely tae familiar wi th Almichty. They tawk tae
Hum es uf He wis ain o theirselves. Th verra presumption o th
creatures. Ah hae aye felt like takin aff ma shoon whan Ah enter Goads
hoouse, but they presumptious people wad walk in wi their hats an caps
on, an Ahm no verra shaire thet they wadna wear moggasins uf they
hadna shoon. Ahm shaire th Loard hates presumption, Coalin, fr disna
th guid buik say, Blessed are th meek an lowly in hairt? Ahm
feart whan it comes tae distributin th rewards at th great white
throne, thet therell be some people whall come gae shoart."
It was with difficulty that Colin could switch the
old lady off her favourite theme, "the Methodys," and induce her to talk
about herself, for he wanted an opening to tell her what he had decided
upon. "Youll not be travelling the road this winter?" he asked.
"Losh, maun, an what wad Ah dae tae keep boady an
saul tegither? Ma bairns hae growed up an gane aff an left me tae fish
fr masel, an uf Ah didna stick tae th rawd, whatll become o us
Dugal an me fr
we maun jist stairve."
Here was Colins opportunity, and he told her that he
had arranged to give her a small allowance every month, sufficient to
provide for her wants. The poor old woman was so filled with gratitude
that for a time she could scarcely find words to express herself.
Instead of trusting herself to speak to Colin, she stooped down, and
patting Dugal, who wagged his stub tail industriously, she talked to him
"An were tae hae na mair trampin aboot th rawds
in th cauld, Dugal; na mair journeyins in th weet an slush an rain.
Were tae hae planty o wood an planty o meat an planty o averythin.
Aye, wont it be a graun day, Dugal, whan we can gang till oor ain
cupboard an fin planty thar tae eat an drink! Aye, Dugal," she added,
patting the faithful dog vigorously, "ye may weel wag yer bit tail, fr
its mony a bane thet Mother Hubbard 11 fin fr ye in th cupboard
after thus. Sae, Dugal, oor troubles are amost ended, fr th Loard hes
keppit His proamise tae provide fr th wuddows, an noo thet were
baith grown auld an no es able fr th rawd es we aince were, Hes
cam tae us in th person o oor auld frien Coalin, an He jist taks
th burden frae aff oor backs, sae thet were like Christian in Bunyans
"Proagress," whan th load wis lifted frum aff his shouthers. Ah can
scarcely believe its true, sae aften hae we been disappointit in th
years gone by. Its no thet Ah would like tae say thet Ah wis losin
coanfidence in th proamise, but Ah must freely admit thet Ah wis
beginnin tae think thet it wis lang aboot comin. But th airm o th
Loard isna shoartened, es we see th day, Dugal, an we musna forget th
means o deluverance. What wull we say, Dugal, tae oor frien an
benefactor wha stauns afore us, an through whase boonty oor troubles
are tae disappear?"
Dugal, the brief stub of his tail wagging vigorously,
turned his eye gratefully towards Colin, when the old woman pointed to
"Dont mind any thanks, Peggy," said Colin, in the
kindliest tone. "I have more than I need, and why should I not share it
with a poor old woman who was kind to the widows family in the days of
need? I would not be quite happy, Peggy, in my house in England, if I
felt that you and Dugal were in want in this settlement. I have arranged
with my lawyer in town to send you ten pounds every month. I think that
will help you to keep the wolf from the door."
"May Goad bless ye, Coalin, lad, fr this!" said Auld
Peggy with emotion; and Colin noticed that her withered eyes, which had
not known tears for perhaps two score years, were moist, and that her
voice, always strong and masculine, trembled. "Aye, an He wull bless
ye!" continued Peggy, "fr its happy ye hae made twa hairts th day! Me
an Dugal wull naver forget ye!" And followed by her abbreviated and
faithful though now crippled companion, the old woman, in her own
language, "daundered awa doon" the Concession line, talking to herself
and to Dugal, and calling down blessings on the head of her young
Colin watched her till she was out of sight and then,
quickening his pace, for the evening shadows were lengthening, he
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