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Reminiscences and Reflections of an Octogenarian Highlander Chapter XLII. - A Remove


I CAME out of the Assembly Hall that misty summer morning on which the surprise decision was given fully resolved to resign the mastership of the Fortingall School and to leave that neighbourhood. I could not acquiesce in the justice of that decision, and the contrary one a few hours later in the Kilmalcolm case made it certain to me that the Fortingall people would leave the Parish Church in a body and go over to the Free Church. It needed no prophetic spirit to guess at what was likely to happen in other respects. If I loved war, my position as parochial teacher made me independent as long as I did my duty in the school and did not lay myself open to libel on moral grounds, and the Presbytery had to deal with me in precisely the same way as a minister. But manse and school- house were near each other, and continual friction was abhorrent, and it was only fair to the new minister and to myself that I should go away and leave him a clear ground of action. After what had taken place I could not help being looked upon as the head of the party opposed to the minister. Well, I formed my resolution to go away, and stuck to it without any wavering. I thought of emigrating to Canada, where so many of my kith and kin were already settled. Being an unmarried man under thirty, "flitting" was comparatively easy. I had no misgiving about being able to make a living in Canada, as teacher, farmer, or by a mixture of both, with a dash of journalistic or magazine work besides. I never had wild dreams of wealth or wild ambitions. The dream which from youth to age best pleased my fancy was to be the owner of a one-farm little island where I could read books in the sunshine with my back to a rock and my face to the sea. Perhaps the modest scope of that island dream goes far to explain what is a puzzle to myself, namely, the constancy with which I adhered to principles and convictions accepted on what I thought sufficient reasons, and the drifting slackness by which I left to the unsolicited action of friends the determination of leading events in my life. Mr Drummond and my father's unauthorised sending in of my name as candidate led to my going to Fortingall. Mr Charles Stewart, Tigh 'n Duin, and the Laird of Chesthill were the ultroneous agents in sending me to Balquhidder. Chesthill remonstrated with me for thinking of emigrating to Canada, and on his return from a Falkirk tryst he met a crowd of Balquhidder people at the Kingshouse and gave them such a character of me that they were anxious to have me.


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