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Tales of the Scottish Peasantry
Three Hansel Mondays


O happy, happy holyday!
Though angry winter frown,
When friends, residing far away,
In country or in town,
Once more may meet around the hearth
Where all their early joys had hirth.

Among the country people of Scotland the custom of visiting their friends on Hanselmonday, like many other usages of the olden time, is fast wearing out; yet it is still a day towards which anticipation is turned, and I doubt not but to many the very mention of its name will bring back pleasing recollections of happy hours spent in the humble abodes of hardy industry, and friendly greetings, and glances of affection which left a long-living impression behind them. Tales, too, and reminiscences of joy or woe are inseparably connected with that day in the memories of many a humble individual. The beginning of a deep-rooted and lasting affection—the long sought and eagerly expected confession of a mutual passion—the first sight of a future husband or wife—the meeting of relations who had never met before—the solemn interview after death had made its inroad among early acquaintances — the first visit to a paternal home after man's last enemy had thinned it of its blessings,—these, and many other incidents, of common occurrence at this season of the year, have stamped Hanselmonday in deep and enduring characters on many a heart. "I did not see him after my father's death till Hanselmonday;"—"It was on Hanselmonday that I first met Peggy;"—"Mary and me went to her father's, for the first time, on a Hanselmonday;" —"It was three weeks before Hanselmonday when Johnnie was born;"—these, and many more of the same kind, are familiar words among the sons and daughters of "rustic toil;" and what a host of pleasing or painful recollections do they carry along with them !

Many years ago my father's family came to reside within a moderate distance of a small village, where lived an uncle whom I had never seen. Having resolved to pay him a visit on Hanselmonday, I set off early on Saturday morning, and, by dint of hard travelling, reached my destination a little after mid-day.

My uncle's family consisted of his wife, an only daughter, and an unmarried sister, familiarly known by the appellation of "Aunty Eppie." They all greeted me with a warmth which I had scarcely expected; but if one welcomed me more cordially than another it was my cousin Rose, an interesting girl about my own age, which then did not exceed eighteen. Having never known any relation save her parents and her aunt, she seemed to look upon me as an accession to the number of her friends and her stock of happiness. As I was to stay a week the elder females insisted that I should "rest myself" for the remainder of the day, but Hose would by no means agree to this. In the afternoon she led me out to see her little garden, —a small patch of ground overstocked with flowers of every description.

I was never an enthusiastic admirer of flowers. From a very early period my attention had been too exclusively engaged by other concerns to admit of its being thus divided. To look upon them in those repositories of art where they have been congregated by man, or to see them in wild luxuriance "bloom along the vale," or by the stream, or on the hill, without knowing any thing of their properties, or even their names,—was always enough, for me. But my pretty cousin was a lover of flowers, and a cultivator of them in her own way, and had, moreover, a smattering of botany. She spent many of her leisure hours in cultivating her little parterre, and on this occasion apparently took great delight in exhibiting her floral treasures. In return, I tried to learn the names of her favourites—extolled the beauties of some which I had neither seen nor before heard of—admired the neat and orderly appearance of her garden—racked my memory for all the professional slang I had ever heard used by gardeners and amateurs; and, in short, praised the whole with an enthusiasm which must have been very extravagant. To this senseless rhodomontade she listened with apparent satisfaction, occasionally giving me the history of several of her "mute friends," ind regretting that the season did not permit me to see them in all their loveliness.

Among them were some pinks and polyanthuses, which, had been the gifts of two female friends, Mary Auburn and Peggy Simpson. But the plant upon which she seemed to set the greatest value, and bestow most care, was a tuft of carnations which had been given her by a journeyman gardener called George Robertson, at that time residing at Corolla Castle, a gentleman's seat in the immediate neighbourhood. Of this individual, Rose gave me to understand that he was " reckoned very clever by the people about—-he knew a great deal about flowers, and was better acquainted with his trade than the master gardener—so the folk said." But she "knew very little of him—scarcely any thing at all; for though he sometimes came owre on an e'enin' to see her father, she had seldom spoken to him." This homily on friends and flowers was concluded by pulling away some weeds about the size of pins from the carnations, and carefully drawing the earth up to their roots,—all which appeared to me superfluous labour.

On the following day, which was the Sabbath, we went to church. She took my arm as we set out, and for half the distance appeared perfectly delighted with my company; and, if truth must be told, I was as well pleased with her as she seemed to be with me. But unfortunately for our conversation, three young fellows overtook and passed us on the road. Rose looked after them wistfully till they were at some distance, sighed two or three times, and then became unusually silent. For the remainder of the road, and during the service, she appeared distracted and thoughtful; but as we were coming out of the church, a person, whom I recognised as one of those who had passed us, spoke to her. I did not hear his words; but, in answering him, I heard her say, "He is my cousin." A few more words passed between them in a sort of half whispering tone, after which she again took my arm. On the road home, her liveliness returned, and our mutual happiness was restored. Had I been possessed at the time of only a tolerable knowledge of the workings and wanderings of the young heart, it is probable these little incidents might have given me feelings very different from those with which I was then occupied; but my knowledge was, like the knowledge of eighteen, neither extensive nor deep, and they gave me no uneasiness.

With the morrow came Hanselmonday. My uncle, or rather his wife, kept a small shop for supplying the neighbourhood with grocery and other wares of a promiscuous description. In the course of the afternoon, I sauntered into it, and being a holiday, I found him attending it in person. "When I entered, he was in the act of almost forcing a quantity of cheese and a small sum of money upon a rather elderly and poor, but decent-looking woman.

"Na, na," said she, in answer to his pressing, "I hae nae right to appear like ither folk at ither folk's expense; a throughbearin is a' I maun look for; an' if that be granted, I hae great reason to be thankfu'."

"Hout! havering body!" was the good-natured reply, "ye'll get a throughbearin; but od, woman, ye're aye wurkin to our guidwife, an' it's only pride that winna let ye tak payment!" With these words he thrust a home-made cheese, and a small sum of money, into her lap.,

"Deed, sir, I dinna ken what to think o' ye noo!" ejaculated the good woman; "at this rate, I'll no win out o' your debt as lang as I live."

"The woman's gaen clean crazed, I declare!" said the other, "to stand there an' ca' me ' sir!' as if I were either a knave or a knight; an' crack about debt, as if I were ane o' her creditors. If we're a' spared health we'll see ye gin supper-time, an' if there's onything owre after that, we can settle about thae accounts the morn. But, Marion, I maun e'en flyte wi' ye for that ill-faur'd custom ye hae o' mockin' little folk wi' great names—ca'in them ' sirs,' an' ' masters,' an' a' that. The sorrow confound ye if ever ye ca' me ought but ' David' after this."

"Ah, David!" I could hear her say, as she was going away, "we hae but few men like you. Though ye were to gie awa the half o' yer substance, ye wad aye mak it appear that ye was giein naething. . I can mak ye nae return for a' your kindness to me; but may the blessing o' the widow rest on your head, an' the head o' your bairn, an' your bairn's bairns, to the latest generation."

When she was gone, "That's Marion Simpson," said my uncle: "I was just giein her something, when ye cam in, to help her to appear like her neighbours when we a' gae to see her the nicht At her husband's death, she was left wi' twa sma bairns; an' though she has had a sair struggle wi' the warld, she's aye been honest, an' provided for hersei' an' them wi' her ain industry. They'll baith be a comfort to her yet, I hope: the lassie is sae already; but her son—God bless him—wha was as weel behaved a callant as ever breathed, had the misfortune to engage wi' the laird o' Rummlegairy ; and as his life was made perfectly miserable, in a fit of despair he ran aff to the sea. But I scarcely think he can like the wild life o' a sailor; and I hope he'll come hame after a', and be a blessing to his mother in her auld age."

In this hope, I, as a matter of course, participated, and made some half boyish observation about the pleasure it must give him thus to deserve and receive the blessing of the widow.

"I've wrought hard," said he, "for the little that I hae; and, as auld folk maun aye be giein advice to young anes, ye maun listen to me a wee. Tak gude care o' ony siller ye may get; an' if ye hae a shilling to spare, never try to imitate the rich, nor even the poor, in their dinners an' their dresses, their drinkings an' their vanities;—lay it by: it may be of mair use to you than a' your kin. And when you can fairly manage your ain ends, if ye can help an honest man or woman in their straits and struggles wi' poverty, never tie your purse-strings, nor turn a deaf ear to the complaints of those that are in distress: try to relieve them if ye can; and if your heart is what I wad hae it to be, ye'll derive mair pleasure from this than from counting over useless thousands."

The evening of Hanselmonday was one of general festivity. At first, the neighbours, with their families, to the number of a dozen, assembled in my uncle's house. Here they were plentifully served with bread and cheese, and good ale was handed round to "synd it doun," as they themselves phrased it. After this, a glass was offered to each, and the lasses were requested to sing; to which, after the usual show of reluctance, they consented. In reflecting on the subject since, I have often thought that, from the songs they selected, which were generally those they could sing best, a shrewd guess might have been made at the feelings of the respective singers.

There was one blue-eyed, mild, and rather melancholy looking girl, who was prevailed upon, with some difficulty, to contribute her share. This was Mary Auburn. She sang a mournful ballad, which told of disappointed affection, and desponding constancy. I had no skill in music, and never in my life knew one tune from another; but the low mellow voice of that girl thrilled my very heart. Hers was that sort of singing which a deep sympathy with the words of the poet, drawn from experience, and assisted by a voice naturally musical, alone can produce. The following are some verses of the song which I still remember :—

"With a face falsely smiling, while sad is my heart,
Among the gay circle I sit;
When the laugh rings around me, I suddenly start,
And laugh, though I cannot forget!

"Ah! think not that frowns were the cause of my anguish:
By smiles my fond heart was undone;
I trusted to kindness, and now I must languish,
Since far, far away he has gone!

"He knew not the thoughts that around him were twining,
As lonely I stray'd by the burn;
Nor knew that, when morning was blythsomely shining,
I wish'd for the e'enin's return.

"The gloaming aft brought him again to my sight,
The past fleeting hour to beguile;
And Love stole my heart, in his kindly "good night,"
As he parted from me with a smile.

"Though he breathed not the accents of love in my ear—
Yet now, when I fondly recall
His tones and his glances, the gathering tear
In my eye glistens, ready to fall.

"Those tones aye fu' tender—that look aye fu' kind—
Lang, lang in my bosom shall lie:
Though he left me nae promise nor token behind,
First love
with life only can die! "

As the fair singer breathed forth her soul in these simple verses, her voice faltered, and something very like a tear did glisten in her eye. I was struck by the girl's agitation. Could it be, that some deep-rooted attachment, formed and felt, but never confessed, such as often steals unperceived over the morning of life—some tender tie, which, in the flush and fulness of early feeling, had bound her to one by whom she was forgotte'n—some recollection of the past, cherished in silence, and changed into gloom by the hopeless aspect of the future,—was at the time withering her heart, and drying up the fountain of her enjoyment ?

Widely different was the strain sung by Peggy Simpson,—a fair-haired, light-hearted, laughing damsel of fourteen, and as widely different was her manner of singing it. Joy seemed to dance in every tone of her voice, and it was with difficulty she could suppress a laugh at the close of every line, as she sung—

Let the silly an' love-sick in silence draw nigh;
Nae laddie hae I, an' the less do I care,
Sin' I aftener langh, and seldomer sigh,
Than lasses wi' plenty o' lads,.an' to spare.

Thus she went on with a light-hearted and humorous strain, which seemed in a great measure to obliterate from the minds of her hearers the effects produced by the former singer. In her, it was evident that the ruling passion of youth was scarcely, if at all developed. To the notice and admiration of the other sex she might have, and no doubt had, a liking; but she had not yet arrived at that period when love becomes the engrossing subject of every thought—when the little pleasures, childish passions, and personal considerations of the girl, are exchanged for another and a dearer self—for that absorbing and disinterested feeling which characterises a woman's first affection. Of love she had heard, and of love perhaps she thought; but it was only as another name for happiness: of its solitary musings—its tormenting jealousies, and needless alarms,—she knew nothing; and she could laugh and sing of it with a face full of glee, and a heart which did not belie her look.

This scene of harmony and mirth was interrupted by one of the seniors of the company addressing my uncle.

"Noo, Mr. Pennyworth," said he, " when we hae a' partaken o' your guid choor, ye maun just honour us by gaun to see what my Luckie has provided for the haddin' o' Hansel-monday."

"Hout! awa, man, wi' your high names!" was the reply: "keep your mock-masterships for anither day. I've aye heen plain David ! sae am I yet. But, nae doubt, we maun gae an' tak vengeance on your guidwife's kebbuck an' her bottle; an' sae I think, if the company's agreeable, we had better commence the attack."

The business of the night was perfectly understood, and this proposal was responded to in the same strain of good humour in which it had been made. We went through the whole of the houses—eating and drinking, singing songs and telling stories in each. On reaching the abode of the widow who had benefited by my uncle's hounty, it was gratifying to see the look of satisfaction with which she placed her little store before her guests.

"Dear me, Marion, but matters are mendin wi' you," said one of them: "there's a hale kebbuck, I declare, an' no a bit heel, as I've seen ye hae."

"Ay, ay, lad, I'm able to get a hale kebbuck noo," was Marion's answer: "thanks be to Him wha sends us a' guid gifts, and His blessin' on some folk no far bye." As she spoke, she cast an arch look at her benefactor, and seemed on the point of disclosing the scene which had occurred at the little shop. But he shook his clenched fist, and she was silent.

From the manner in which this crusade of eating and drinking was conducted, it was evident that my uncle was regarded with a sort of respectful deference. He had, by dint of industry, acquired a little money, and in this, lay the secret of his superiority. Nor was he altogether ignorant of the power with which his wealth had invested him, though he did not choose to display it. His constant endeavour was to conceal his power, and for this very reason, perhaps, he possessed it in greater perfection.

"The daft days" were not yet done. As Monday night had been given to what might be called public, so Tuesday night, was to be devoted to domestic festivity. But upon this occasion the guests were more select] only Mary Auburn and her brother, and George Robertson were invited.

Up to this period I had enjoyed a principal share of Rose's attention, but now I was destined to meet a sad reverse. No sooner did the gardener arrive, than she entirely forgot me. It has been observed that "lover's eyes are sharp to see:" perhaps I had got enough of the disease to give me something of that quick perception which is meant by this phrase; for I soon became a more acute observer than I had ever been before, and more prompt at drawing inferences. I began to perceive that George Robertson was a stronger magnet to Rose's thoughts than I had ever been. She directed the whole of her discourse to him, and her eye was restless and uneasy when gazing on any other object. He possessed considerable liveliness of conversation, which her presence tended greatly to increase; and she was always the first to laugh at his sallies, though I, with less candour than ill-nature thought them very stupid. To the compliments which he occasionally bestowed on her she made no verbal reply; but I observed with mortification that they seldom failed to heighten the natural glow of her countenance, to impart a more fascinating lustre to her eye, and call into play a thousand nameless blandishments, which too plainly indicated the impression they had made on her mind.

A circumstance, however, occurred, which might have served to give me some satisfaction, though I do not recollect that it did so. Mary Auburn at last came in for a share of the gardener's attention. My uncle had been jesting her about giving him an invitation to her marriage, and she, to evade his good-humoured importunity, observed with a smile—the first I had seen on her face—"that she was going to the garret; for she wad never be married." The gardener overheard her words, and gallantly took up the subject.

"The garret!" said he, with well-affected astonishment; "na, na—nae garrets! I'll be caution for ye in ony sum no exceeding a Scots bawbee, that thae bonny een, that snawy neck, an' fair face o' yours, whilk ye spoil by haddin' down your head, hae gotten ye already mair than half-a-dozcn wooers, and among them, if ye wale weel, ye may get a guid husband ony day in a' the year."

Her only answer to this raillery was a sigh.

"But may I gang on crutches a' the neist owk," he continued, looking at her earnestly, "if I wad hae you for a wife, though I could get you wi' a word; for I'm certain I could neither work nor sleep if ye were mine, but look at ye a' day, an' caress ye a' night!"

At this sally we all laughed except Rose—an unwonted thoughtfulness overspread her countenance, and for the next half-hour she spoke but little, and did not laugh at all.

The horticulturist appeared perfectly aware of this sudden change in her manner, for he again exerted himself, with even more than his former assiduity, and again all his best sayings were exclusively addressed to her. For a time she answered him in a quiet tone, very unlike the clear and joyous accents of her natural voice, and without looking at him when she spoke. But her resolution, whatever it was, could not hold out against his good-humoured attention. At first her countenance was lighted up with a faint and half-reluctant smile— then she looked at him, then she laughed, and then her eye again grew bright in the reflection of his, a glow of satisfaction suffused her cheek, and she appeared supremely happy.

"But those that are true lovers run into strange capers." The company began to speak of breaking up, and hero one of those difficulties occurred which, though in themselves nothing, often perplex mortals sadly. Mary's brother had been unable to come; and as the night was dark, and she had nearly half a mile to go, it was indispensable that some one should escort her home. She was an interesting girl, in every respect as well deserving of attention as Rose, and I felt somewhat inclined to offer my services. But I was then little accustomed to the society of young women, rather bashful, and withal, at the time, rather discontented; so I. said not a word. My uncle was the first to start up and offer to be her conductor himself. But he had caught a slight cold, and my aunts would by no means hear of his going out. Rose, who was now all glee and gladness, was the next to take up the matter. "She would run," she said, "for Andrew Outerlands;" and she did run—but Andrew had gone to see his brother, and was not expected home till to-morrow. As she told' this, she looked at me in evident expectation that I would volunteer. But by this time I had some sort of a presentiment of where matters would end, and with unmannerly obstinacy I still forbore. Through the whole of this dilemma Mary had been protesting that she could go home herself, and begging them not to trouble themselves; but this she would not be permitted to do. After a considerable pause, my aunt put in her word.

"What are ye a' makin' sic a wark about?" said she, "canna G-eordie there, when he's sic a favourite wi' a' the lasses, gang an' see her safe hame ?"

At these words Rose changed colour almost as suddenly as the pigeon's neck changes its hue when the rays of light strike it in a new direction. This was the arrangement she had been labouring to avert, but the consummation of her fears had at last come upon her. Still, however, she affected to be cheerful, and tried to laugh—nor were her resources yet at an end.

"It's sae far out o' his road," she said, "and sae far for him to come back when he has to work hard next day; Tarn Brown, I'm sure, will be glad o' an opportunity to see Mary; I'll run and tell him, if he's no in his bed." She made her promise good, but to her disappointment Tarn was absent, and supposed to be with his sweetheart. This was her last resource. The man of carnations and cabbage, after a struggle between what appeared to be his inclination and his duty as a gallant, was forced to obey the latter; and after the usual "good nights," and being "wished weel hame'' by all and sundry, away he set with his protegd It should have been noticed, that during the latter part of the discussion he had become in a great measure passive, and spoke but little, so that had it hot been for that "index to the heart," his countenance, I should have supposed he did not dislike the part assigned him. But Rose was latterly too much taken up with her own thoughts to pay any attention to this.

On the following day, Rose was somewhat changed. On coming in' from the yard with some vegetables for the dinner, she spoke of "delving up" the violets she had got from Mary Auburn; and the carnations, she "didna think they , would flower," and wished she knew where to get something better to put in their place. Her buoyant spirits were gone: she went about the affairs of the house, and scarcely noticed any one—even I had some difficulty in getting a word from her. But what surprised me most was, that no one except myself seemed to notice the alteration.

That I was somewhat chagrined by the discovery I had made the previous night, will be easily believed, and at first I had almost determined to show that I cared nothing about her. But this determination did not hold long. Since I could not shine in her favour as the cynosure, I thought it might be best to come in for a secondary share, by endeavouring to be of some service to her. Here I had some difficulties and delicacies to encounter; but after reflecting on the matter, I resolved to commence by communicating my suspicions to her aunt, and taking her advice as to what it would be best to do, in order to bring the whole to a happy conclusion.

I, accordingly, with an impudence for which I cannot account, and to which I could never either before or since summon any thing similar, told her the whole story, heightened by all the observations and imaginations with which I then thought proper to crowd into it.

It is impossible to describe my surprise when she laughed heartily at my "delusions," as she called them.

"Na, na, laddie," said she, "ye ken little o' young women yet. D'ye think a lass maun aye be in love wi' ilka ane she laughs at, an' ilka ane she allows to speak nonsense to her Gude saufe us! if that were the case, what a warld it would be ! The lasses wad need a hantle mae hearts than ane to baud their love in; for there's no a lass in a' the country-side but may laugh at fifty fules, an' let fifty fallows she cares naething about crack havers to her in the course o' her lifetime. Hech, sirs ! Na, na ! I'll warrant the lassie is as deep in love wi' you as wi' Geordie, an' no ower the ankles wi' ony o' ye!" Here she took another hearty laugh, in which, maugre my disappointment and mortification, I was forced to join. "An' as to the lassie's being dull an' thoughtfu'," she continued, "a body canna aye be giggling an' laughing. I'm sure she cracked an' leugh as muckle yestre'en as might weel ser' for a hale owk."

With this assurance I was forced to be satisfied.

Throughout this and the following day, Hose's thoughtful disposition continued, though she made some efforts to conquer it. At dinner she was desired to bring some milk; she obeyed without speaking, and bringing an empty vessel, placed it on the table with great care.

"The lassie's gaen gyte," said her mother, "it was milk your father bade ye bring, an' no a toom dish!

"I'll wager my lug," said her aunt, "if her mind wasna chasin' mice, it was rinnin' after a new mutch, or a braw frock, or something o' that sort, that ye'll hae to gie her siller to get some day soon."

"Deed was't," said Rose, with a smile, which seemed to shine through a mortifying sense of the blunder she had committed,

After it was dark, a gentle tap was heard at the door; Rose answered it, and a short conversation in whispers ensued. Rose speedily returned, and addressing her mother said— "Peggy Simpson has been here, asking my assistance to shape a new gown. May I rin ower for half an' hour?"

"Far be't fae me, lassie, ever to say no," was the reply. "The widow an' the fatherless should aye be treated kindly. It might hae been your ain turn to want your father instead o' hers; sae e'en gang if ye like. But what for did the lassie no come in?" Without taking time to answer this interrogatory, Rose was off in an instant, and with a lighter step, and in better spirits, than she had exhibited for several days.

I was in bed, but not sleeping, when she returned, and I could hear her mother attempting to chide her for her protracted stay. But on her naming over several little acts which she had done, she was easily forgiven.

"Weel, weel, lassie," said her mother, "I'll never be angry at ye for takin' the lesson ye've often heard me repeat—aye to be kind an helpfu' to the poor, an' them that hae few helpers. But mind, Rose, ye are my only bairn: your father likes you aye to be i' the house at e'en; an' ye maun never stay out sae late again if ye can help it."

From this night Rose's sprightliness and loquacity returned in even a greater degree than formerly. I found myself again fully reinstated in her good graces; and her endeavours to amuse me were unceasing. In the exuberance of her glee she even charged me with dulness, and asked if I could not laugh and speak nonsense like her. The overflowing of a happy heart was evident in almost everything she said or did. The change was so remarkable that to account for it perfectly puzzled me, till toward night, when I accidentally overheard that Rose was not the only visitor at Mrs. Simpson's on the preceding evening. This confirmed me in my own opinion; and somewhat picqued at the jeering repulse which I had formerly met, I resolved again to mention the matter to her aunt. But when an opportunity occurred she did not permit me to break the subject, and saluted me with "Ye were thinkin' Rose was in love," said she, "because she was dull yesterday. If that was the case she's soon win ower her ill turn, as ye wad say. What think ye noo o' your nonsense about love? I'm sure she can laugh the day as weel as ever she did."

I would have said what I thought, but wanted resolution. The opportunity and the night passed over, and on the morrow at an early hour, after shaking of hands, and with hearty wishes for each other's welfare, as John Bunyan saith, "I went on my way, and saw them no more" for a twelvemonth.

If the reader will be pleased to direct his mind's eye over the period of his past years, he will find the images which his memory may retain so evanescent and unsatisfactory that I flatter myself he will easily he induced to pardon me for passing over one of the earth's entire revolutions without a single word.

The Hanselmonday returned, I renewed my visit, and Rose, who was still uppermost in my thoughts, was the first object to attract my attention. From the moment on which I saw her I lacked not a subject on which to think. She was indeed sadly altered. Pale and listless, the speaking lustre was gone from her eye, and her voice had lost its clear and thrilling melody. No object of sight, or topics of conversation, however uncommon or lively they might be, could attract her notice. Or if she did listen with a momentary interest, or try to speak, the effort appeared too painful to be sustained, and her mind soon wandered back to its melancholy haunts. Her little garden, and her flowers, seemed to be almost the only things on earth for which she cared : there she would sometimes work though it was winter, and stand and gaze upon its quiet occupants as if the world contained nought beside. And while thus employed in "idle reverie," the blood would occasionally rush to her cheek tempestuously, then slowly subside, leaving it paler than before. Anon a faint glow would succeed, followed by a deeper desertion. And when her spirits were exhausted and worn out in this apparently mental struggle the whole would end in a lasting fit of abstraction and melancholy silence.

Her parents complained of the lowness of her spirits, and spoke of her being in ill health. Like other parents, whose affections are centred in a single object, they alternately gave way to apprehensions and hopes of her recovery; hut they never once seemed to suspect that her heart could be in the least accessory to the melancholy change. With me it was otherwise, and I found Aunty Eppie had adopted my opinion, though she had never ventured to mention it to any one else.

I observed that she used some stratagems to get me by myself, and when she had accomplished her purpose, "Laddie," said she, "I'm fear'd ye guess'd ower true the last time ye were here; for, if I'm no far cheated, that gardener chield has ta'en awa Rose's heart wi' him, an' left the rest o' her here, poor thing! to wither like a geranium set out-bye in winter. She's never been like hersel' since Whitsunday, when he left the place. And yet, I ken na how it is, but I could never muster courage to speak o't either to her father or her mither: it wad vex them sae to think that their only Bairn wad tak' up wi' a fallow like him—here the tae day, and wha kens whar the next."

Many plans were thought of, and much was repeated which had been thought of before to no purpose, and we ended where we began, without eliciting anything which could be of the least service; only we both agreed that as her parents could do nothing, it was best to keep the secret from them still.

On this occasion there was no Hanselmonday festivities at my uncle's ; fear and anxiety prevailed where mirth and good cheer were wont to preside. But the widow and her daughter were still fresh in my memory ; the scene in the little shop, a twelvemonth before, had prepossessed me in their favour, and I could not leave the place without seeing them. I accordingly paid them a visit, and the conversation, naturally enough, turned upon Rose, her indisposition, and the probable cause of it. With this I found them much better acquainted than I had been prepared to expect; and from them I learned that George Robertson had left Corolla Castle for the Edinburgh nurseries, a practice not uncommon among young gardeners. After being there for a few days, he was offered an advantageous situation in Wales, which he at once accepted for a year. These circumstances, after his arrival in Wales, he narrated in a letter to James Wilson, another of the gardeners at the Castle, with whom he had been on very intimate terms, and who was also a great favourite with Marion. The letter, after inquiring for Rose, stated that he had anxiously wished an interview with her, on the night previous to his leaving the Castle, as he had something of importance to communicate; and that he had gone over to buy some articles which he did not need, in the hope' of being able to see her for a few minutes by herself. But there was such a flow of mirth in her manners, and contrary to his expectation, she misunderstood his hints so often, seemed to avoid being alone with him with so much care, and had so many jests about his "going to Edinburgh to get a wife," and "the worthlessness of the country lasses," that his resolution entirely failed him, and he went home, with feelings of the most painful disappointment, to spend his last night in her neighbourhood in a state of sleepless agitation. All this, Jamie Wilson had been enjoined to keep a perfect secret; and the letter concluded by desiring him to give the writer's "compliments" to Rose; and, if she. showed any signs of concern, or seemed to take this mark of attention kindly, to say that he intended, as soon as circumstances would permit, to come back and see her.

The compliments were accordingly given as directed, and poor Rose on receiving them—if one can be said to receive that which is nothing—almost fainted. But when she was told the sequel, she soon recovered so far as to be able to laugh, and to say, that "she doubted, if he had nae ither errand, it wad be lang afore he came back."

The evident agitation which the mere mention of the subject had occasioned her, made the people afraid to speak of it to her afterwards. A letter, however, was, by the advice of the kind-hearted widow, despatched with all possible speed to her distant admirer, informing him how matters stood, and requesting him to write to Rose direct, and state what were his intentions, or otherwise the consequences might be fatal.

Months passed on; no notice was taken of the letter, no accounts of her lover arrived, and Rose's melancholy and indisposition evidently increased, but still she spoke not. At last a stranger came to visit the place, and with him came the clearing up of the mystery.

Samuel Simpson, the widow's son, had sailed for some time in a vessel trading to the West Indies, and while his ship was undergoing repair, he had taken a trip down to see his mother. Several months before, he had met George Robertson, at one of the sea-ports on the west coast of England, and heard him state, that he had, by the unexpected death of an uncle, fallen heir to a valuable property in Jamaica, of which he was going to take possession, having been advised to do so by an eminent lawyer. This intelligence reached Rose before Marion could take any means to prevent its spreading, and from that time her melancholy abstraction became more painfully evident

Such is the substance of the information I received; and I was solicited to try my utmost for the relief of my dejected cousin, hut not to mention the news to her parents, which, I was assured, would only aggravate her distress. The propriety of this I could easily see; but alas! what could I do? The first part of the story promised, fair—the letter seemed to indicate a mutual affection; but what followed came like a death-blow to hope. The heir of a rich uncle—embarked on a long voyage, and gone to take possession of a valuable property!—the probability was, that he would think no more of Rose, or if he did think of her at all, it would be as a dream of the night, which is thought of only to be forgotten. I felt that it was a hopeless case, and I could not help saying so.

On returning to my uncle's, I found Mary Auburn there before me. She was endeavouring to cheer and comfort Rose, in such a manner as led me to suspect that she also was in the secret. "Your melancholy thoughts make ye ill," said she, as I entered, "but you should aye try to be cheerfu', an' hope the best. If ye only kent what mony a ane has suffered, an' how lang they've lived, an' how happy they hae been made after a', ye wad never despair." To this Rose listened with little attention. But it appeared to me that the two had done something more than exchanged hearts since I last saw them together. "Sing 'The Desponding Maiden' to me," said she, "I like to hear you sing, Mary."

Mary obeyed; but her singing was no longer the same. The music might be as accurate ; but to me it seemed to want that tone and feeling which on a former occasion had sent every word warm and thrilling to the heart. Her anxiety for her suffering friend was moreover evident; but it was the anxiety which is felt for another—her own melancholy was gone. Though her sympathy was sincere and unaffected, there was peace and quiet beneath, and her eyes no longer drooped, but beamed with a placid lustre on all they met, and had occasionally an expression of archness which appeared quite new, and almost foreign to her former nature. To have known her before, and seen her now, one would have thought that she had forgotten the cause of her own sadness in sympathising with the secret sorrows of her friend. Poor girl ! she had need of sympathy. But, alas ! in such matters what can sympathy avail % Her peace of mind was evidently gone, her beauty withering, and her frame hastening to premature decay. I felt that such was the case; and, with a heavy heart, I took my departure.

Distance, and I know not what, prevented me from hearing a single word of her for the year following. Nay, let the truth be told,—

Of such materials wretched men are made!

—though for nearly two months she was seldom absent from my thoughts for two hours together. As spring advanced, and the busy season of summer came on, I entirely forgot her; and it was only the approach of winter which brought back the image of the pale and interesting girl who had once attracted so much of my attention. Though the days were shortening, to me they seemed to lengthen; and as their number diminished, my anxiety on her account increased. At last the third Hanselmonday arrived, and I set out on my annual pilgrimage. During the tedious journey, many and varied were the thoughts which passed through my mind; but, I recollect well, that which affected mo most was the possibility—nay, probability— that my cousin, with all the buoyant spirits and gay fancies which characterised her at our first meeting, and that melancholy abstraction which pervaded her manner when I saw her last—that she—the young, the beautiful—might have sunk into an early grave,, the victim of unrequited love ! And then the grief of her parents for their only child—the joy of their hearts, and the light of their eyes—snatched away in the very opening bloom of her existence, presented itself to my imagination. I saw the look of deep sorrow with which they would meet me, and felt the pang which my presence would impart. Such were my feelings, as I stood before the doo,r, which that day twelvemonth I had been so eager to enter, and some minutes elapsed ere I could muster resolution to knock.

It is the lot of man to hope for things which can never be realised, and to fear that which may never come upen him ; and of these hopes and fears, more than "life's realities," his existence is made up. The door was answered by Rose herself; and I was welcomed with a smile as congenial as any I had ever seen play upon her countenance. In a moment she had me by the hand, and, without giving me time to make those inquiries which were rising to my tongue's end, she led me into the house, where, I need not say, my reception was most cordial.

The comfort and cheerfulness of the family were perfectly restored; and the smiles and blushes of Rose alternated in such a manner, that had my feelings been what they once were, it is probable I should have looked upon them as a happy omen, She seemed as happy and as free from care, as cheerful and as assiduous to please, as ever she had been; yet somehow she was net the same. There was an air of mystery about her, for which I could not account; and I did not fail to remark that certain significant looks and winks passed between her and her aunt. In about a quarter of an hour after my arrival, Mary

Auburn came in, and again the same telegraphic communications were made, and the same air of mystery prevailed; but it was only for a minute; for, as if anticipating an inquiry which they wished to escape, they kept chattering and asking me questions with such volubility, that I was completely cheated out of the explanation which I had intended to ask.

In the meantime the task of diverting me was an easy one; for, while my ears drank the music made by cheerful voices, my eyes lacked not subjects for pleasing contemplation. Rose, I have already said, was restored to perfect health and cheerfulness. The change in Mary was no less remarkable. From being a modest melancholy girl, with eyes oftener fixed on the earth than on any other object, and a complexion rather pale, she had brightened into exquisite loveliness. A lasting smile played around her mouth; her laugh seemed to rise direct from the heart, like waters from a fountain ; and there was an archness in her look, that bespoke the possession of a secret which she had no immediate desire to communicate.

"Ye've complimented baith Rose an' me," said she, "on being bonnier than when ye saw us last. When ye have na gotten a wife, an' we want husbands, whatfor dinna ye fa' in love wi' either her or me!"

"Because," I replied, "I'm fear'd neither her nor you would fa' in love wi' me."

"But ye ken," said she, "the men maun aye fa' in love first, an' tell their love too, an' bide our scorn awhile to the bargain; for though the lasses, puir things, should fa' ower the lugs in love, they daurna speak a word o't; an' then they may a' dee o' broken hearts, an' ne'er ane ken—no even their nearest freends."

"What might hinder them to let their love be kenn'd as weel as the men do?" quoth I, willing to hear what she would say.

"Maybe they wad mak an odd warld if they were aye able to tell o' their likings," was her reply; "but nature has ta'en care to keep that power for ither kind o' cattle. An' if ye only kenn'd the struggle a woman has afore she can tell the man she likes best some wee hints aboot her affections, after he has deaved her for years wi' his, ye wad never speer that question. A woman's heart is like a mouse-trap—love may get in, but it can never get out again, unless the minister len' a hand to open it."

"Hoot, lassie!" said Bose, loth to be silent while others had the privilege of speaking—"hoot, lassie! what gars ye tell him about women, an' their hearts or their heads either—let him learn for himsel'."

This tattle was interrupted by a tap at the door. Rose, who had been looking out at the window, did not answer the summons, but hastened into the other apartment, or "ran ben the house," as her aunt would have said. Her mother opened the door, and George Robertson was ushered into the house, or rather ushered in himself; for, in his impatience, he passed the hostess in the doorway. After casting his eyes around the apartment with a hurried glance, "Where is my wife?" he exclaimed. A titter from behind the room door, while it announced the person he sought, invited him to join her. We could still partially observe them through the half open door; and after a hearty embrace, and a kiss, to procure which seemed to be the object of "the base cutty's manoeuvre," as Aunty Eppie observed, they both returned to the kitchen.

This was surprise enough. The West India proprietor returned from his rich possessions—from his sugar plantations, his slaves, his rum, and his tobacco—and married to a country girl—the husband of my cousin! This was certainly "true love," as the popular ballad-makers say. The good people on all sides saw my wonder, and hastened to give an explanation, the substance of which is as follows :—

At my last visit, though I had despaired of being able to afford Rose any relief, the widow, with stronger faith, had deemed it her duty to make an effort. Accordingly, she charged her son, ere he set off for his vessel, with such a letter as she could write to the supposed West India proprietor. In this she set before him, in strong but simple language, the pains he had taken to gain Rose's affection, the stolen meetings which she herself, trusting to his steadiness, had assisted him to procure, and all those little flatteries which sink so deep into the heart of a female. She next depicted, in her own way, the unhappy effect which these had produced, and were likely to produce, on the poor girl. And, that nothing might be wanting which she could supply, she concluded by threatening him with the "widow's curse," if he should sacrifice, on the altar of his better fortune, the heart he had so earnestly sought, and forget, in the day of his prosperity, those who had loved him when he was poor and a stranger.

On entrusting this letter to her son, she instructed him, as he valued his mother's blessing, either to deliver it himself or see it put into such hands as would convey it to its destination. Fortunately his vessel was freighted for the same port; and, shortly after landing, he had an opportunity of delivering the letter into the hands of George Robertson himself, corroborating its contents, of course, by stating what he had seen.

By this time the brilliant prospects of the individual to whom it was addressed had totally vanished. Owing to a train of tricks and circumstances, which would be fruitless to detail, his uncle's property had proved little better than a delusion. He had, however, been offered a situation of trust and emolument on a neighbouring plantation; and that love of money which is natural to man in his civilised state, together with the uncertainty in which he had left his affair with Rose, had almost induced him to accept of it. "It might be," he argued, "that her supposed partiality for him was merely the creation of his own ardent wishes; and, as she was naturally kind to all, that he had been favoured with only a common share of her smiles." From these considerations he imagined that it would be better never to know the truth than to be shocked by a disappointment, and he was either determined, or determining, to stay where he was; but when he received Marion's letter, it needed not the fear of her curse to frighten him home. He left the scene of his delusive hopes without a sigh, and hastened to seek happiness in peaceful industry and domestic affection.

From the time of his arrival, Rose's health and spirits began to return. The state of her feelings at last dawned upon her parents; and, so far from forbidding, they facilitated the marriage. The bad conduct of a former master made an opening for the young gardener in his own calling; and everything appeared to promise happiness and prosperity.

Scarcely had these particulars been communicated, when in came "Sam Simpson, the sailor lad."

"What!" said Mrs. Robertson, as we must now call her, seeing she was no less a personage than the wife of the master gardener at Corolla Castle, and only come to spend Hansel-monday with her parents,—"whatfor dinna ye salute Mary's husband, an' wish them baith joy? Ye're but an unmannerly kind o' a cousin to stand and stare that gait at a new married couple."

Mary laughed: so did her husband; while I stood bewildered with accounts of weddings. The occasion of her downcast looks and dowie sangs was discovered at last. Samuel and her had been great cronies from the time they were children up to his running off to sea. During his short visit to his mother, they had renewed their former acquaintance; and he had then and there fairly asked her to be his wife, promising, at the same time, if she would accept him, to quit his present occupation, and settle himself at home as soon as possible.

"Yonder comes Jamie Wilson an' his sweetheart," said Mary, wishing to turn the conversation from herself.

In a few minutes, the said Jamie Wilson and Peggy Simpson arrived. He was a fine looking young man, and his companion, too, was improved. Her cheerfulness remained the same; but that thoughtless gaiety which, two years ago, gave lightness and music to her singing, was exchanged for a demeanour more sedate and womanly; and there was an expression in her bright eyes which bespoke deeper and maturer feeling.

"I like to see ye come that gait," said my uncle, as he welcomed them. "I hope I can prophesy whar this will end, an' God send my prophecy may be happily fulfilled ! See that ye dinna tempt an' torment ane anither wi' dortin' an' drawin' back, like young fools as ye are. Be kind, an' carefu' no to gie offence; but tak my advice, an' see that ye are able to provide a comfortable hame for yersel's afore ye gang thegither."

Peggy blushed as, they both took their seats. In a few minutes more, her mother arrived also. She had stayed behind on purpose to let the young folk get their crack; and as she looked upon her children — the one already married to an amiable and deserving woman, who had long loved him, and the other in the full prospect of being soon united to the man nf her affections—as she looked upon them, and contemplated the happiness of those whom she had been instrumental in bringing together, a glow of happiness suffused her countenance, which seemed to take many years from the past, and bring back to her care-worn features "the light of other days." Her satisfaction was, perhaps, augmented by a sense that where she had experienced kindness and received assistance she had also conferred some benefit.


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