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Legends and Traditions
Boasting Punished


A HIGHLANDER’S glory and felicity consisted in the extent of his fold, and the number of his family.

He could never have too many children, or too many cows; however great the difficulty might be of rearing the first to maturity, or providing winter fodder for the last. But to parade either one’s cows, or one’s children, in any unnecessary display, or for a stranger to make any remark on the abundance of them, is by no means safe.

Of this superstition numberless instances might be given. Of these, the most signalised which I recollect derives interest from the royal and beautiful personage concerned in it; it is said to have happened when Queen Mary made that memorable excursion to the North, which proved so fatal to the Gordons.

She stayed for some days at Inverness, in the castle (so well known as the scene of King Duncan’s murder), and received there the homage of all the neighbouring gentry and nobility.

There lived at that time in Ross-shire a wealthy and powerful family of the name of Monro, whose title I do not remember.

The laird had been attending his sovereign with all due loyalty on her expedition. The lady had twelve sons, and twelve daughters, many of whom were married, or otherwise detached from the family.

She was at much pains, however, in collecting them, wherever they were dispersed, to adorn her train, in the presence of royalty.

The sons were all dressed in "Lincoln green," the wonted costume of knights and hunters, and led the procession in gallant array, mounted upon sable steeds. Next, their mother, decked no doubt in her best array, followed attended by her daughters, attired in white, and mounted on horses of the same colour. This goodly train was ushered into the royal presence, after being duly announced. The matron, dropping on one knee, made obeisance, and told her sovereign she had here brought twelve squires and twelve damsels, ready to devote themselves to her service. The queen started from her seat, overwhelmed with astonishment and admiration, and cried, "Madam, ye sud tak this chair, ye best deserve it." After this exclamation, the ceremonial was properly adjusted, and the family returned home, enchanted with the grace and loveliness of their accomplished sovereign. It was, however, remarked, that from that day they were never again seen together, and that this imprudent mother was the sad survivor of the far greater number of the children thus rashly exhibited.


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