"Na, na, mother; I’s
no gang my foot length. Ye sanna hae that to flyre about. Ye keep me
working frae the tae year’s end to the tither, an’ winna gie me a day
to mysel’. I’s no seek to be away again, as lang as I’m aneath your
"Whisht now, an’
haud your tongue, my bonny Flora. Ye hae been ower good a bairn to me, no
to get your ain way o’ ten times mair nor that. Ye ken laith wad your
mother be to contrair you i’ ought, if she wist it war for your good. I’m
right glad that it has come i’ your ain side o’ the house, to gang an’
see your auntie. Gang your ways, an’ stay a day or twa; an’, if ye
dinna like to sleep your lane, take billy Sandy w’ye, an’ leave little
cousin wi’ me, to help me wi’ bits o’ turns till ye come back."
This arrangement suiting
Flora’s intent equally well with the other, it was readily agreed to,
and everything soon amicably settled between the mother and daughter. The
former demurred a little on Sandy’s inability to perform the journey;
but Flora, being intent on her purpose, overruled this objection, though
she knew it was but too well founded.
Accordingly, the couple set
out on their journey next morning, but before they were half way Sandy
began to tire, and a short time after gave fairly in. Flora carried him on
her back for a space, but finding that would never do, she tried to cajole
him into further exertion. No, Sandy would not set a foot to the ground.
He was grown drowsy, and would not move. Flora knew not what to do, but at
length fell upon an expedient which an older person would scarcely have
thought of. She went to a gate of an enclosure, and, pulling a spoke out
of it, she brought that to Sandy, telling him she had now got him a fine
hors; and he might ride all the way. Sandy, who was uncommonly fond of
horses, swallowed the bait, and, mounting astride on his rung, he took the
road at a round pace, and for the last two miles of their journey Flora
could hardly keep in view of him.
She had little pleasure in
her visit, further than the satisfaction that she was doing what she could
to avert a dreadful casualty, which she dreaded to be hanging over the
family; and on her return, from the time that she came in view of her
father, she looked only for the appearance of Mattie running about the
door; but no Mattie being seen, Flora’s heart began to tremble, and as
she advanced nearer, her knees grew so feeble that they would scarcely
support her slender form; for she knew that it was one of the radical
principles of a dream to be ambiguous.
"A’s unco still
about our hame the day, Sandy; I wish ilka ane there may be weel. It’s
"Sandy no ken what
death is like. What is it like, Sistel Flola?"
"You will maybe see
that ower soon. It is death that kills a’ living things, Sandy."
"Aye; aih aye! Sandy
saw a wee buldie, it could neilel pick, nol flee, nol dab. It was vely ill
done o’ death! Sistel Flola, didna God make a’ living things?"
"Yes; he assured he
"Then, what has death
ado to kill them? if Sandy wele God, him wad fight him."
"Whisht, whisht, my
dear; ye dinna ken what you’re sayin’. Ye maunna speak about these
"Weel, Sandy no speak
ony maile about them. But if death should kill cousin Mattie, oh! Sandy
wish him might kill him too!"
"Wha do ye like best i’
this world, Sandy?"
"Sandy like sistel
"You are learning the
art of flattery already; for I heard ye telling Mattie the tither morning,
that ye likit her better than a’ the rest o’ the world put thegither."
"But yan Sandy coudna
help yat Cousin Mattie like Sandy, and what could him say?"
Flora could not answer him
for anxiety; for they were now drawing quite near to the house, and still
all was quiet. At length Mattie opened the door, and, without returning to
tell her aunt the joyful tidings, came running like a little fairy to meet
them; gave Flora a hasty kiss; and then, clasping little Sandy about the
neck, she exclaimed, in an ecstatic tone, "Aih, Sandy man!" and
pressed her cheek to his. Sandy produced a small book of pictures, and a
pink rose knot that he had brought for his cousin, and was repaid with
another embrace, and a sly compliment to his gallantry.
Matilda was far beyond her
years in acuteness. Her mother was an accomplished English lady, though
only the daughter of a poor curate, and she had bred her only child with
every possible attention. She could read, she could sing, and play some
airs on the spinnet; and was altogether a most interesting little nymph.
Both her parents came to an untimely end, and to the lone cottage of
Finagle was she then removed, where she was still very much caressed. She
told Flora all the news of her absence in a breath. There was nothing
disastrous had happened.
But, so strong was Flora’s
presentiment of evil, that she could not get quit of it, until she had
pressed the hands of both her parents. From that day forth, she suspected
that little faith was to be put in dreams. The fourteen days was now
fairly over, and no evil nor danger had happened to Matilda, either from
the hand of Sandy or otherwise. However, she kept the secret of the dream
locked up in her heart, and never either mentioned or forgot it.
Shortly after that she
endeavoured to reason her mother out of her belief in dreams, for she
would still gladly have been persuaded in her own mind that this vision
was futile, and of no avail. But she found her mother staunch to her
point. She reasoned on the principle that the Almighty had made nothing in
vain, and if dreams had been of no import to man they would not have been
given to him. And further, she said we read in the Scriptures that dreams
were fulfilled in the days of old; but we didna read in the Scriptures
that ever the nature of dreaming was changed. On the contrary, she
believed that since the days of prophecy had departed, and no more
warnings of futurity could be derived by man from that, dreaming was of
doubly more avail, and ought to be proportionally more attended to, as the
only mystical communication remaining between God and man. To this
reasoning Flora was obliged to yield. It is no hard matter to conquer,
where belief succeeds argument.
Time flew on, and the two
children were never asunder. They read together, prayed together, and
toyed and caressed without restraint, seeming but to live for one another.
But a heavy misfortune at length befell the family. She who had been a
kind mother and guardian angel to all the three was removed by death to a
better home. Flora was at that time in her eighteenth year, and the charge
of the family then devolved on her. Great was their grief but their
happiness was nothing abated; they lived together in the same kind love
and amity as they had done before. The two youngest in particular fondled
each other more and more, and this growing fondness, instead of being
checked, was constantly encouraged, Flora still having a lurking dread
that some deadly animosity might breed between them.
Matilda and she always
slept in the same bed, and very regularly told each other their dreams in
the morning— dreams pure and innocent as their own stainless bosoms. But
one morning Flora was surprised by Matilda addressing her as follows, in a
tone of great perplexity and distress— "AhI my dear cousin, what a
dream I have had last night! I thought I saw my aunt, your late worthy
mother, who was kind and affectionate to me, as she always wont to be, and
more beautiful than I ever saw her. She took me in her arms, and wept over
me; and charged me to go and leave this place instantly, and by all means
to avoid her son, otherwise he was destined to be my murderer; and on that
day seven-night I should be lying in my coffin. She showed me a sight too
that I did not know, and cannot give a name to. But the surgeons came
between us, and separated us, so that I saw her no more."
Flora trembled and groaned
in spirit; nor could she make any answer to Matilda for a long space, save
by repeated moans. "Merciful Heaven!" said she at length,
"what can such a dream portend? Do not you remember, dear Mattie, of
dreaming a dream of the same nature once long ago?"
Mattie had quite forgot of
ever having dreamed such a dream; but Flora remembered it well; and
thinking that she might formerly have been the mean, under Heaven, of
counterworking destiny, she determined to make a further effort; and, ere
ever she arose, advised Matilda to leave the house, and avoid her brother,
until the seven days had elapsed. "It can do nae ill, Mattie,"
said she; "an’ mankind hae whiles muckle i’ their ain hands to do
or no to do; to bring about, or to keep back." Mattie consented,
solely to please the amiable Flora; for she was no more afraid of Sandy
than she was of one of the flowers of the field. She went to Kirkmichael,
stayed till the week was expired, came home in safety, and they both
laughed at their superstitious fears. Matilda thought of the dream no
more, but Flora treasured it up in her memory, though all the coincidence
that she could discover between the two dreams was that they had both
happened on a Saturday, and both precisely at the same season of the year,
which she well remembered.
At the age of two and
twenty, Flora was married to a young farmer, who lived in a distant corner
of the same extensive parish, and of course left the charge of her father’s
household to cousin Mattie, who, with the old farmer, his son, and one
maid-servant, managed and did all the work of the farm. Still, as their
number was diminished, their affections seemed to be drawn the closer; but
Flora scarcely saw them any more, having the concerns of a family to mind
One day, when her husband
went to church, he perceived the old beadle standing bent over his staff
at the churchyard gate, distributing burial letters to a few as they
entered. He held out one to the husband of Flora, and, at the same time,
touched the front of his bonnet with the other hand; and without regarding
how the letter affected him who received it, began instantly to look about
for others to whom he had letters directed.
The farmer opened the
letter, and had almost sunk down on the earth, when he read as follows:-
"Sir, —The favour of
your company, at twelve o’clock, on Tuesday next, to attend the funeral
of Matilda A—-n, my niece, from this, to the place of interment, in the
churchyard of C—r, will much oblige, Sir, your humble servant,
"JAMES A—N. "Finagle, April 12th.
Think of Flora’s amazement and
distress, when her husband told her what had happened, and showed her this
letter. She took to her bed on the instant, and wept herself into a fever
for the friend and companion of her youth. Her husband became considerably
alarmed on her account, she being in that state in which violent
excitement often proves dangerous. Her sickness was, however, only
temporary; but she burned with impatience to learn some particulars of her
cousin’s death. Her husband could tell her nothing; only, that he heard
one say she died on Saturday.
This set Flora a
calculating, and going over in her mind reminiscences of their youth; and
she soon discovered, to her utter astonishment and even horror, that her
cousin Matilda had died precisely on that day fourteen years that she
first dreamed the ominous dream, and that day seven years that she dreamed
Here was indeed matter of
wonder! But her blood ran cold to her heart when she thought what might
have been the manner of her death. She dreaded, nay, she almost calculated
upon it as certain, that her brother had poisoned, or otherwise made away
privately with the deceased, as she was sure such an extraordinary
coincidence behoved to be fulfilled in all its parts. She durst no more
make any inquiries concerning the circumstances of her cousin’s death;
but she became moping and unsettled, and her husband feared for her
He went to the funeral; but
dreading to leave Flora long by herself, he only met the procession a
small space from the churchyard; for his father-in-law’s house was
distant fourteen miles from his own. On his return, he could still give
Flora very little additional information. He said he had asked his
father-in-law what had been the nature of the complaint of which she died;
but he had given him an equivocal answer, and seemed to avoid entering
into any explanation; and that he had then made inquiry at others, who all
testified their ignorance of the matter. Flora at length, after long
hesitation, ventured to ask if her brother was at the funeral? and was
told that he was not. This was a death-blow to her lingering hopes, and
all but confirmed the hideous catastrophe that she dreaded; and for the
remainder of that week she continued in a state of mental agony.
On the Sunday following,
she manifested a strong desire to go to church to visit her cousin’s
grave. Her husband opposed it at first, but at last consenting, in hopes
she might be benefited by an overflow of tenderness, he mounted her on a
pad, and accompanied her to the churchyard gate, leaving her there to give
vent to her feelings.
As she approached the new
grave, which was by the side of her mother’s, she perceived two aged
people whom she knew, sitting beside it busily engaged in conversation
about the inhabitant below. Flora drew her hood over her face, and came
with a sauntering step towards them, to lull all suspicion that she had
any interest or concern in what they were saying and finally she leaned
herself down on a flat grave-stone close beside them, and made as if she
were busied in deciphering the inscription. There she heard the following
dialogue, one may conceive with what sort of feelings.
"An’ then she was
aye say kind, an’ sae lively, an’ sae affable to poor an’ rich, an’
then sae bonny an’ sae young. Oh, but my heart’s sair for her! When I
saw the mortclaith drawn off the coffin, an’ saw the silver letters
kythe, AGED 21, the tears ran down ower thae auld wizzened cheeks, Janet;
an’ I said to mysel’, ‘Wow but that is a bonny flower cut off i’
the bloom!’ But, Janet, my joe, warna ye at the corpse-kisting."
"An’ what suppose I
was, Matthew? What’s your concern wi’ that?"
"Because I heard say
that there was nane there but you an’ another that ye ken weel. But
canna you tell me, kimmer, what was the corpse like? Was’t a’ fair an’
bonny, an’ nae blueness nor demmish to be seen?"
"An’ what wad an
auld fool body like you be the better, gin ye kend what the corpse was
like? Thae sights are nae for een like yours to see; an’ that subjects
are nae fit for tongues like yours to tattle about. What’s done canna be
undone. The dead will lie still. But oh, what’s to come o’ the
"Ay, but I’m sure
she had been a lusty weel plenished corpse, Janet; for she was a heavy ane;
an’ a deeper coffin I never saw."