Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Raiderland, All about Grey Galloway
Chapter 24



  IT was that kindly and well-beloved man, the late Mr. Barbour of the Bogue, the son of  “Cincinnatus Caledonius," the author of so many interesting books, who first guided me to Jean's Waa's. His father was the man who had first written down and published the now celebrated tradition of Jean's love-trouble. The son, full of the most delightful humour and sympathy–alas, too early cut off !–repeated the story as we brushed through the little copses of oak and hazel which fringe Garpel-side. It was high summer. The young broods were scattering on every side, and the bum went murmuring on beneath as we scrambled. I think we agreed with William Gordon the younger, who in the time of his sickness was cared for here, that Jean's Waa's was indeed" a rare and heartsome place to bide in on a summer's day. There was the sound of the birch singing, the plash of the water into the pool beneath the Holy Linn, where the ministers held their great baptizing of bairns, when the bonny bum water dropped of its own accord on their brows as their fathers held them up. There were the leaves rubbing against one another with a pleasant soughing noise. These (says William Gordon) kept my heart stirring and content as long as I abode in the Glen of the Garpel.

  "There is in particular one little hill with a flat top, from which one may spy both up and down the glen, yet remain hidden under the leaves. Here I often frequented to go, though Sandy warned me that this would one day be my death. Yet I liked it best of all places in the daytime, and lay there prone on my belly for many hours together, very content, only chewing sorrel clacking my heels together, and letting on that I was meditating. But, indeed, I never could look at water slipping away beneath me without letting it hear my thoughts with it, and leave me to the dreaming. And the Garpel is an especially pleasant bum to watch thus running away from you. I have often had the same feelings in church when the sermon ran rippleless and even over my head.

Jean’s Waa.

  “The only thing that annoyed me was when on the Sabbath days the Garpel became a great place for lovers to convene. And above all, at one angle behind Jean Gordon's cot, there is a bower planted with wild flowers–pleasant and retired doubtless, for them that are equipped with a lass.” 1

  Not only cosy but safe was the abode of Jean Gordon in these perilous times and it was sitting on a stone, near that very Lovers' Bower, that Mr. Barbour told me over again the Tale of Jean's Waa's and of the faithless wooer who gaed up the Iang glen of the Ken–alas, never to return.

  “The cottage sat bonnily on the brink of a glen, and Almost from my very window began the steep and precipitous descent. So that if the alarm were suddenly given, there was at least a chance of flinging myself out of the window and dropping into the tangled sides of the Linn of Garpel. The

1 “The Men of he Moss-Hags,” p. 237 (Ibister & Co.)

thought of the comfort of Jean's cot made me the more willing to take the risk. For I knew well that if I had to venture the damps and chills of the glen without any shelter after my illness, it would fare but poorly with me. So all that night I lay and listened to the murmur of the water beneath, dashing about the great upstanding rocks in the channel.

  “But other sound there was none, and to this sweet sequestered spot came no one to seek us.

  “Here in the fastnesses of the Garpel, Sandy and I abode many days. And though the glen was searched, and patrol parties more than once came our way, not one of them approached near the fastness of thickets where in the daytime we were hidden. And each night, in all safety, I betook me to the cottage of Jean Gordon.

  "Jean's story has been a sad one, but she made little of it now, though it was well known to all the country side."

  “’The Lord has taken away the stang of pain out of my life,' she said. 'I was but a lass when I came to the Garpel, thinking my heart broken. Yince I loved a braw lad, bonny to look upon–and he loved me, or I was the mair deceived. Lindsay was his name. Doubtless ye have heard the common tale. He slighted my love and left me without a word. Waes me, but the very lift turned black when I heard it, and I cried out on the liars that said the like I But belief came slowly to me. The loch is very near to the Shirmers where at that time I dwelt, and the window looks down into the black deeps from among the ivy bushes on the wall. My thoughts ofttimes turned on that short and easy road to peace. But praise be to His marvellous name, I saw another way. So I biggit me this bit cottage on the bonny birk-grown sides of the Garpel, and e'en came my ways to bide here.

  “’Ye'll sune get a man, for ye're bonny! Never fash your thumb for Lindsay! ' said my kin.

  “’I'll get one man,' I threepit to them. ‘What one slighted shall never be given to another!' So forty year have I bidden here, and heard little but the mavis sing and the cushie complain. Think weel o' yesel', Willie lad, for ye are the first man body that has ever bidden the nicht within Jean's Waa's. Sandy, great as he thinks himsel', can tak' the Linnside for it. He is weather-seasoned like the red tod o' the hills; but ye are shilpit and silly, boy William, so ye had best bide wi' auld Jean when ye can." 1

1 “The Men of the Moss-Hags," p. 230. (Isbister & Co.)

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus