Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush
Ian Maclaren

Part 4 out of 4

MacLure had been slowly taking in the situation, and at last he
unburdened himself one night to Jamie.

"What ails the fouk, think ye? for they're aye lecturin' me noo tae
tak care o' the weet and tae wrap masel up, an' there's no a week
but they're sendin' bit presents tae the hoose, till a'm fair

"Oo, a'll explain that in a meenut," answered Jamie, "for a' ken the
Glen weel. Ye see they're juist tryin' the Scripture plan o' heapin'
coals o' fire on yer head.

"Here ye've been negleckin' the fouk in seeckness an' lettin' them
dee afore their freends' eyes withoot a fecht, an' refusin' tae gang
tae a puir wumman in her tribble, an' frichtenin' the bairns--no,
a'm no dune--and scourgin' us wi' fees, and livin' yersel on the fat
o' the land.

"Ye've been carryin' on this trade ever sin yir father dee'd, and
the Glen didna notis. But ma word, they've fund ye oot at laist, an'
they're gaein' tae mak ye suffer for a' yir ill usage. Div ye
understand noo?" said Jamie, savagely.

For a while MacLure was silent, and then he only said:

"It's little a' did for the puir bodies; but ye hev a gude hert,
Jamie, a rael good hert."

It was a bitter December Sabbath, and the fathers were settling the
affairs of the parish ankle deep in snow, when MacLure's old
housekeeper told Drumsheugh that the doctor was not able to rise,
and wished to see him in the afternoon.

"Ay, ay," said Hillocks, shaking his head, and that day Drumsheugh
omitted four pews with the ladle, while Jamie was so vicious on the
way home that none could endure him.

Janet had lit a fire in the unused grate, and hung a plaid by the
window to break the power of the cruel north wind, but the bare room
with its half-a-dozen bits of furniture and a worn strip of carpet,
and the outlook upon the snow drifted up to the second pane of the
window and the black firs laden with their icy burden, sent a chill
to Drumsheugh's heart.

The doctor had weakened sadly, and could hardly lift his head, but his
face lit up at the sight of his visitor, and the big hand, which was
now quite refined in its whiteness, came out from the bed-clothes with
the old warm grip.

"Come in by, man, and sit doon; it's an awfu' day tae bring ye sae
far, but a' kent ye wudna grudge the traivel.

"A' wesna sure till last nicht, an' then a' felt it wudna be lang,
an' a' took a wearyin' this mornin' tae see ye.

"We've been freends sin' we were laddies at the auld schule in the
firs, an' a' wud like ye tae be wi' me at the end. Ye 'ill stay the
nicht, Paitrick, for auld lang syne."

Drumsheugh was much shaken, and the sound of the Christian name,
which he had not heard since his mother's death, gave him a "grue"
(shiver), as if one had spoken from the other world.

"It's maist awfu' tae hear ye speakin' aboot deein', Weelum; a'
canna bear it. We 'ill hae the Muirtown doctor up, an' ye 'ill be
aboot again in nae time.

"Ye hevna ony sair tribble; ye're juist trachled wi' hard wark an'
needin' a rest. Dinna say ye're gaein' tae leave us, Weelum; we
canna dae withoot ye in Drumtochty;" and Drumsheugh looked wistfully
for some word of hope.

"Na, na, Paitrick, naethin' can be dune, an' it's ower late tae send
for ony doctor. There's a knock that canna be mista'en, an' a' heard
it last night. A've focht deith for ither fouk mair than forty year,
but ma ain time hes come at laist.

"A've nae tribble worth mentionin'--a bit titch o' bronchitis--an'
a've hed a graund constitution; but a'm fair worn oot, Paitrick;
that's ma complaint, an' its past curin'."

Drumsheugh went over to the fireplace, and for a while did nothing
but break up the smouldering peats, whose smoke powerfully affected
his nose and eyes.

"When ye're ready, Paitrick, there's twa or three little trokes a'
wud like ye tae look aifter, an' a'll tell ye aboot them as lang's
ma head's clear.

"A' didna keep buiks, as ye ken, for a' aye hed a guid memory, so
naebody 'ill be harried for money aifter ma deith, and ye 'ill hae
nae accoonts tae collect.

"But the fouk are honest in Drumtochty, and they 'ill be offerin' ye
siller, an' a'll gie ye ma mind aboot it. Gin it be a puir body,
tell her tae keep it and get a bit plaidie wi' the money, and she
'ill maybe think o' her auld doctor at a time. Gin it be a bien
(well-to-do) man, tak half of what he offers, for a Drumtochty man
wud scorn to be mean in sic circumstances; and if onybody needs a
doctor an' canna pay for him, see he's no left tae dee when a'm oot
o' the road."

"Nae fear o' that as lang as a'm living Weelum; that hundred's still
tae the fore, ye ken, an' a'll tak care it's weel spent.

"Yon wes the best job we ever did thegither, an' dookin' Saunders;
ye 'ill no forget that nicht, Weelum"--a gleam came into the
doctor's eyes--"tae say naethin' o' the Highlan' fling."

The remembrance of that great victory came upon Drumsheugh, and
tried his fortitude.

"What 'ill become o's when ye're no here tae gie a hand in time o'
need? we 'ill tak ill wi' a stranger that disna ken ane o's frae

"It's a' for the best, Paitrick, an' ye 'ill see that in a whilie.
A've kent fine that ma day wes ower, an' that ye sud hae a younger

"A' did what a' cud tae keep up wi' the new medicine, but a' hed
little time for readin', an' nane for traivellin'.

"A'm the last o' the auld schule, an' a' ken as weel as onybody thet
a' wesna sae dainty an' fine-mannered as the town doctors. Ye took
me as a' wes, an' naebody ever cuist up tae me that a' wes a plain
man. Na, na; ye've been rael kind an' conseederate a' thae years."

"Weelum, gin ye cairry on sic nonsense ony langer," interrupted
Drumsheugh, huskily, "a'll leave the hoose; a' canna stand it."

"It's the truth, Paitrick, but we 'ill gae on wi' our wark, for a'm
failin' fast.

"Gie Janet ony sticks of furniture she needs tae furnish a hoose,
and sell a' thing else tae pay the wricht (undertaker) an' bedrel
(grave-digger). If the new doctor be a young laddie and no verra
rich, ye micht let him hae the buiks an' instruments; it 'ill aye be
a help.

"But a' wudna like ye tae sell Jess, for she's been a faithfu'
servant, an' a freend tae. There's a note or twa in that drawer a'
savit, an' if ye kent ony man that wud gie her a bite o' grass and a
sta' in his stable till she followed her maister--"

"Confoond ye, Weelum," broke out Drumsheugh; "its doonricht cruel o'
ye to speak like this tae me. Whar wud Jess gang but tae Drumsheugh?
she 'ill hae her run o' heck an' manger sae lang as she lives; the
Glen wudna like tae see anither man on Jess, and nae man 'ill ever
touch the auld mare."

"Dinna mind me, Paitrick, for a' expeckit this; but ye ken we're no
verra gleg wi' oor tongues in Drumtochty, an' dinna tell a' that's
in oor hearts.

"Weel, that's a' that a' mind, an' the rest a' leave tae yersel'.
A've neither kith nor kin tae bury me, sae you an' the neeburs 'ill
need tae lat me doon; but gin Tammas Mitchell or Saunders be
stannin' near and lookin' as if they wud like a cord, gie't tae
them, Paitrick. They're baith dour chiels, and haena muckle tae say,
but Tammas lies a graund hert, and there's waur fouk in the Glen
than Saunders.

"A'm gettin' drowsy, an' a'll no be able tae follow ye sune, a'
doot; wud ye read a bit tae me afore a' fa' ower?

"Ye 'ill find ma mither's Bible on the drawers' heid, but ye 'ill
need tae come close tae the bed, for a'm no hearin' or seein' sae
weel as a' wes when ye cam."

Drumsheugh put on his spectacles and searched for a comfortable
Scripture, while the light of the lamp fell on his shaking hands and
the doctor's face, where the shadow was now settling.

"Ma mither aye wantit this read tae her when she wes sober" (weak),
and Drumsheugh began, "In My Father's house are many mansions," but
MacLure stopped him.

"It's a bonnie word, an' yir mither wes a sanct; but it's no for the
like o' me. It's ower gude; a' daurna tak it.

"Shut the buik an' let it open itsel, an' ye 'ill get a bit a've
been readin' every nicht the laist month."

Then Drumsheugh found the Parable wherein the Master tells us what
God thinks of a Pharisee and of a penitent sinner, till he came to
the words: "And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up
so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying,
God be merciful to me a sinner."

"That micht hae been written for me, Paitrick, or ony ither auld
sinner that hes feenished his life, an' hes naethin' tae say for

"It wesna easy for me tae get tae kirk, but a' cud hae managed wi' a
stretch, an' a' used langidge a' sudna, an' a' micht hae been
gentler, and no been so short in the temper. A' see't a' noo.

"It's ower late tae mend, but ye 'ill maybe juist say to the fouk
that I wes sorry, an' a'm houpin' that the Almichty 'ill hae mercy
on me.

"Cud ye ... pit up a bit prayer, Paitrick?"

"A' haena the words," said Drumsheugh in great distress; "wud ye
like's tae send for the minister?"

"It's no the time for that noo, an' a' wud rather hae yersel'--juist
what's in yir heart, Paitrick: the Almichty 'ill ken the lave (rest)

So Drumsheugh knelt and prayed with many pauses.

"Almichty God ... dinna be hard on Weelum MacLure, for he's no been
hard wi' onybody in Drumtochty.... Be kind tae him as he's been tae
us a' for forty year.... We're a' sinners afore Thee.... Forgive him
what he's dune wrang, an' dinna cuist it up tae him.... Mind the
fouk he's helpit ... the weemen an' bairnies ... an' gie him a
welcome name, for he's sair needin't after a' his wark.... Amen."

"Thank ye, Paitrick, and gude nicht tae ye. Ma ain true freend,
gie's yir hand, for a'll maybe no ken ye again.

"Noo a'll say ma mither's prayer and hae a sleep, but ye 'ill no
leave me till a' is ower."

Then he repeated as he had done every night of his life:

"This night I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take."

He was sleeping quietly when the wind drove the snow against the
window with a sudden "swish ;" and he instantly awoke, so to say, in
his sleep. Some one needed him.

"Are ye frae Glen Urtach?" and an unheard voice seemed to have
answered him.

"Worse is she, an' sufferin' awfu'; that's no lichtsome; ye did
richt tae come.

"The front door's drifted up; gang roond tae the back, an' ye 'ill
get intae the kitchen; a'll be ready in a meenut.

"Gie's a hand wi' the lantern when a'm saidling Jess, an' ye needna
come on till daylicht; a' ken the road."

Then he was away in his sleep on some errand of mercy, and
struggling through the storm.

"It's a coorse nicht, Jess, an' heavy traivellin'; can ye see afore
ye, lass? for a'm clean confused wi' the snaw; bide a wee till a'
find the diveesion o' the roads; it's aboot here back or forrit.

"Steady, lass, steady, dinna plunge; it's a drift we're in, but
ye're no sinkin'; ... up noo; ... there ye are on the road again.

"Eh, it's deep the nicht, an' hard on us baith, but there's a puir
wumman micht dee if we didna warstle through; ... that's it; ye ken
fine what a'm sayin'.

"We 'ill hae tae leave the road here, an' tak tae the muir. Sandie
'ill no can leave the wife alane tae meet us; ... feel for yersel',
lass, and keep oot o' the holes.

"Yon's the hoose black in the snaw. Sandie! man, ye frichtened us;
a' didna see ye ahint the dyke; hoo's the wife?"

After a while he began again:

"Ye're fair dune, Jess, and so a' am masel'; we're baith gettin'
auld, an' dinna tak sae weel wi' the nicht wark.

"We 'ill sune be hame noo; this is the black wood, and it's no lang
aifter that; we're ready for oor beds, Jess; ... ay, ye like a clap
at a time; mony a mile we've gaed hegither.

"Yon's the licht in the kitchen window; nae wonder ye're nickering
(neighing); ... it's been a stiff journey; a'm tired, lass ... a'm
tired tae deith," and the voice died into silence.

Drumsheugh held his friend's hand, which now and again tightened in
his, and as he watched, a change came over the face on the pillow
beside him. The lines of weariness disappeared, as if God's hand had
passed over it; and peace began to gather round the closed eyes.

The doctor has forgotten the toil of later years, and has gone back
to his boyhood.

"The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want,"

he repeated, till he came to the last verse, and then he hesitated.

"Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me.

"Follow me ... and ... and ... what's next? Mither said I wes tae
haed ready when she cam.

"'A'll come afore ye gang tae sleep, Wullie, but ye 'ill no get yir
kiss unless ye can feenish the psalm.'

"And ... in God's house ... for evermore my ... hoo dis it rin? a'
canna mind the next word ... my, my--

"It's ower dark noo tae read it, an' mither 'ill sune be comin'."

Drumsheugh, in an agony, whispered into his ear, "'My dwelling-place,'

"That's it, that's it a' noo; wha said it?

"And in God's house for evermore
My dwelling-place shall be.

"A'm ready noo, an' a'll get ma kiss when mither comes; a' wish she
wud come, for a'm tired an' wantin' tae sleep.

"Yon's her step ... an' she's carryin' a licht in her hand; a' see
it through the door.

"Mither! a' kent ye wudna forget yir laddie, for ye promised tae
come, and a've feenished ma psalm.

"And in God's house for evermore
My dwelling-place shall be.

"Gie me the kiss, mither, for a've been waitin' for ye, an' a'll
sune be asleep."

The grey morning light fell on Drumsheugh, still holding his
friend's cold hand, and staring at a hearth where the fire had died
down into white ashes; but the peace on the doctor's face was of one
who rested from his labours.



Dr. MacLure was buried during the great snowstorm, which is still
spoken of, and will remain the standard of snowfall in Drumtochty
for the century. The snow was deep on the Monday, and the men that
gave notice of his funeral had hard work to reach the doctor's
distant patients. On Tuesday morning it began to fall again in heavy
fleecy flakes, and continued till Thursday, and then on Thursday the
north wind rose and swept the snow into the hollows of the roads
that went to the upland farms, and built it into a huge bank at the
mouth of Glen Urtach, and laid it across our main roads in drifts of
every size and the most lovely shapes, and filled up crevices in the
hills to the depth of fifty feet.

On Friday morning the wind had sunk to passing gusts that powdered
your coat with white, and the sun was shining on one of those winter
landscapes no townsman can imagine and no countryman ever forgets.
The Glen, from end to end and side to side, was clothed in a
glistering mantle white as no fuller on earth could white it, that
flung its skirts over the clumps of trees and scattered farm-houses,
and was only divided where the Tochty ran with black, swollen
stream. The great moor rose and fell in swelling billows of snow
that arched themselves over the burns, running deep in the mossy
ground, and hid the black peat bogs with a thin, treacherous crust.
Beyond, the hills northwards and westwards stood high in white
majesty, save where the black crags of Glen Urtach broke the line,
and, above our lower Grampians, we caught glimpses of the distant
peaks that lifted their heads in holiness unto God.

It seemed to me a fitting day for William MacLure's funeral, rather
than summer time, with its flowers and golden corn. He had not been
a soft man, nor had he lived an easy life, and now he was to be laid
to rest amid the austere majesty of winter, yet in the shining of
the sun. Jamie Soutar, with whom I toiled across the Glen, did not
think with me, but was gravely concerned.

"Nae doot it's a graund sicht; the like o't is no gien tae us twice
in a generation, an' nae king wes ever carried tae his tomb in sic a

"But it's the fouk a'm conseederin', an' hoo they 'ill win through;
it's hard eneuch for them 'at's on the road, an' it's clean
impossible for the lave.

"They 'ill dae their best, every man o' them, ye may depend on that,
an' hed it been open weather there wudna hev been six able-bodied
men missin'.

"A' wes mad at them, because they never said onything when he wes
leevin', but they felt for a' that what he hed dune, an', a' think,
he kent it afore he deed.

"He hed juist ae faut, tae ma thinkin', for a' never jidged the waur
o' him for his titch of rochness--guid trees hae gnarled bark--but
he thocht ower little o' himsel.

"Noo, gin a' hed asked him hoo mony fouk wud come tae his beerial,
he wud hae said, 'They 'ill be Drumsheugh an' yersel', an' maybe twa
or three neeburs besides the minister,' an' the fact is that nae man
in oor time wud hae sic a githerin' if it werena for the storm.

"Ye see," said Jamie, who had been counting heads all morning,
"there's six shepherds in Glen Urtach--they're shut up fast; an'
there micht hae been a gude half dizen frae Dunleith wy, an' a'm
telt there's nae road; an' there's the heich Glen, nae man cud cross
the muir the day, an' it's aucht mile roond;" and Jamie proceeded to
review the Glen in every detail of age, driftiness of road and
strength of body, till we arrived at the doctor's cottage, when he
had settled on a reduction of fifty through stress of weather.

Drumsheugh was acknowledged as chief mourner by the Glen, and
received us at the gate with a labored attempt at everyday manners.

"Ye've hed heavy traivellin', a' doot, an' ye 'ill be cauld. It's
hard weather for the sheep, an' a'm thinkin' this 'ill be a feeding

"There wes nae use trying tae dig oot the front door yestreen, for
it wud hae been drifted up again before morning. We've cleared awa
the snow at the back for the prayer; ye 'ill get in at the kitchen

"There's a puckle Dunleith men--"

"Wha?" cried Jamie in an instant.

"Dunleith men," said Drumsheugh.

"Div ye mean they're here, whar are they?"

"Drying themsels at the fire, an' no withoot need; ane of them gied
ower the head in a drift, and his neeburs hed tae pu' him oot.

"It took them a gude fower oors tae get across, an' it wes coorse
wark; they likit him weel doon that wy, an', Jamie man"--here
Drumsheugh's voice changed its note, and his public manner
disappeared--"what div ye think o' this? every man o' them hes on
his blacks."

"It's mair than cud be expeckit," said Jamie; "but whar dae yon men
come frae, Drumsheugh?"

Two men in plaids were descending the hill behind the doctor's
cottage, taking three feet at a stride, and carrying long staffs in
their hands.

"They're Glen Urtach men, Jamie, for ane o' them wes at Kildrummie
fair wi' sheep, but hoo they've wun doon passes me."

"It canna be, Drumsheugh," said Jamie, greatly excited. "Glen
Urtach's steikit up wi' sna like a locked door.

"Ye're no surely frae the Glen, lads?" as the men leaped the dyke
and crossed to the back door, the snow falling from their plaids as
they walked.

"We're that an' nae mistak, but a' thocht we wud be lickit ae place,
eh, Chairlie? a'm no sae weel acquant wi' the hill on this side, an'
there wes some kittle (hazardous) drifts."

"It wes grand o' ye tae mak the attempt," said Drumsheugh, "an' a'm
gled ye're safe."

"He cam through as bad himsel tae help ma wife," was Charlie's

"They're three mair Urtach shepherds 'ill come in by sune; they're
frae Upper Urtach, an' we saw them fording the river; ma certes, it
took them a' their time, for it wes up tae their waists and rinnin'
like a mill lade, but they jined hands and cam ower fine." And the
Urtach men went in to the fire.

The Glen began to arrive in twos and threes, and Jamie, from a point
of vantage at the gate, and under an appearance of utter
indifference, checked his roll till even he was satisfied.

"Weelum MacLure 'ill hae the beerial he deserves in spite o' sna and
drifts; it passes a' tae see hoo they've githered frae far an' near.

"A'm thinkin'ye can colleck them for the minister noo, Drumsheugh.
A'body's here except the heich Glen, an' we mauna hike for them."

"Dinna be sae sure o' that, Jamie. Yon's terrible like them on the
road, wi' Whinnie at their head;" and so it was, twelve in all, only
old Adam Ross absent, detained by force, being eighty-two years of

"It wud hae been temptin' Providence tae cross the muir," Whinnie
explained, "and it's a fell stap roond; a' doot we're laist."

"See, Jamie," said Drumsheugh, as he went to the house, "gin there
be ony antern body in sicht afore we begin; we maun mak allooances
the day wi' twa feet o' sna on the grund, tae say naethin' o'

"There's something at the turnin', an' it's no fouk; it's a machine
o' some kind or ither--maybe a bread cart that's focht its wy up."

"Na, it's no that; there's twa horses, ane afore the ither; if it's
no a dogcairt wi' twa men in the front; they 'ill be comin' tae the

"What wud ye sae, Jamie," Hillocks suggested, "but it micht be some
o' thae Muirtown doctors? they were awfu' chief wi' MacLure."

"It's nae Muirtown doctors," cried Jamie, in great exultation, "nor
ony ither doctors. A' ken thae horses, and wha's ahint them. Quick,
man Hillocks, stop the fouk, and tell Drumsheugh tae come oot, for
Lord Kilspindie hes come up frae Muirtown Castle."

Jamie himself slipped behind, and did not wish to be seen.

"It's the respeck he's gettin' the day frae high an' low," was
Jamie's husky apology; "tae think o' them fechtin' their wy doon
frae Glen Urtach, and toiling roond frae the heich Glen, an' his
lordship driving through the drifts a' the road frae Muirtown, juist
tae honour Weelum MacLure's beerial.

"It's nae ceremony the day, ye may lippen tae it; it's the hert
brocht the fouk, an' ye can see it in their faces; ilka man hes his
ain reason, an' he's thinkin' on't, though he's speakin' o' naethin'
but the storm; he's mindin' the day Weelum pued him oot frae the
jaws o' death, or the nicht he savit the gude wife in her oor o'

"That's why they pit on their blacks this mornin' afore it wes
licht, and wrastled through the sna drifts at risk o' life.
Drumtochty fouk canna say muckle, it's an awfu' peety, and they 'ill
dae their best tae show naethin', but a' can read it a' in their

"But wae's me"--and Jamie broke down utterly behind a fir tree, so
tender a thing is a cynic's heart--"that fouk 'ill tak a man's best
wark a' his days withoot a word an' no dae him honour till he dees.
Oh, if they hed only githered like this juist aince when he wes
livin', an' lat him see he hedna laboured in vain. His reward hes
come ower late, ower late."

During Jamie's vain regret, the Castle trap, bearing the marks of a
wild passage in the snow-covered wheels, a broken shaft tied with
rope, a twisted lamp, and the panting horses, pulled up between two
rows of farmers, and Drumsheugh received his lordship with evident

"Ma lord ... we never thocht o' this ... an' sic a road."

"How are you, Drumsheugh? and how are you all this wintry day?
That's how I'm half an hour late; it took us four hours' stiff work
for sixteen miles, mostly in the drifts, of course."

"It wes gude o' yir lordship, tae mak sic an effort, an' the hale
Glen wull be gratefu' tae ye, for ony kindness tae him is kindness
tae us."

"You make too much of it, Drumsheugh," and the clear, firm voice was
heard of all; "it would have taken more than a few snow drifts to
keep me from showing my respect to William MacLure's memory."

When all had gathered in a half circle before the kitchen door, Lord
Kilspindie came out--every man noticed he had left his overcoat, and
was in black, like the Glen--and took a place in the middle with
Drumsheugh and Burnbrae, his two chief tenants, on the right and
left, and as the minister appeared every man bared his head.

The doctor looked on the company--a hundred men such as for strength
and gravity you could hardly have matched in Scotland--standing out
in picturesque relief against the white background, and he said:

"It's a bitter day, friends, and some of you are old; perhaps it
might be wise to cover your heads before I begin to pray."

Lord Kilspindie, standing erect and greyheaded between the two old
men, replied:

"We thank you, Dr. Davidson, for your thoughtfulness; but he endured
many a storm in our service, and we are not afraid of a few minutes'
cold at his funeral."

A look flashed round the stern faces, and was reflected from the
minister, who seemed to stand higher.

His prayer, we noticed with critical appreciation, was composed for
the occasion, and the first part was a thanksgiving to God for the
life-work of our doctor, wherein each clause was a reference to his
services and sacrifices. No one moved or said Amen--it had been
strange with us--but when every man had heard the gratitude of his
dumb heart offered to Heaven, there was a great sigh.

After which the minister prayed that we might have grace to live as
this man had done from youth to old age, not for himself, but for
others, and that we might be followed to our grave by somewhat of
"that love wherewith we mourn this day Thy servant departed." Again
the same sigh, and the minister said Amen.

The "wricht" stood in the doorway without speaking, and four
stalwart men came forward. They were the volunteers that would lift
the coffin and carry it for the first stage. One was Tammas, Annie
Mitchell's man; and another was Saunders Baxter, for whose life
MacLure had his great fight with death; and the third was the Glen
Urtach shepherd for whose wife's sake MacLure suffered a broken leg
and three fractured ribs in a drift; and the fourth, a Dunleith man,
had his own reasons of remembrance.

"He's far lichter than ye wud expeck for sae big a man--there wesna
muckle left o' him, ye see--but the road is heavy, and a'll change
ye aifter the first half mile."

"Ye needna tribble yersel, wricht," said the man from Glen Urtach;
"the'll be nae change in the cairryin' the day," and Tammas was
thankful some one had saved him speaking.

Surely no funeral is like unto that of a doctor for pathos, and a
peculiar sadness fell on that company as his body was carried out
who for nearly half a century had been their help in sickness, and
had beaten back death time after time from their door. Death after
all was victor, for the man that saved them had not been able to
save himself.

As the coffin passed the stable door a horse neighed within, and
every man looked at his neighbour. It was his old mare crying to her

Jamie slipped into the stable, and went up into the stall.

"Puir lass, ye're no gaein' wi' him the day, an' ye 'ill never see
him again; ye've hed yir last ride thegither, an' ye were true tae
the end."

After the funeral Drumsheugh came himself for Jess, and took her to
his farm. Saunders made a bed for her with soft, dry straw, and
prepared for her supper such things as horses love. Jess would
neither take food nor rest, but moved uneasily in her stall, and
seemed to be waiting for some one that never came. No man knows what
a horse or a dog understands and feels, for God hath not given them
our speech. If any footstep was heard in the courtyard, she began to
neigh, and was always looking round as the door opened. But nothing
would tempt her to eat, and in the night-time Drumsheugh heard her
crying as if she expected to be taken out for some sudden journey.
The Kildrummie veterinary came to see her, and said that nothing
could be done when it happened after this fashion with an old horse.

"A've seen it aince afore," he said. "Gin she were a Christian
instead o' a horse, ye micht say she wes dying o' a broken hert."

He recommended that she should be shot to end her misery, but no man
could be found in the Glen to do the deed, and Jess relieved them of
the trouble. When Drumsheugh went to the stable on Monday morning, a
week after Dr. MacLure fell on sleep, Jess was resting at last, but
her eyes were open and her face turned to the door.

"She wes a' the wife he hed," said Jamie, as he rejoined the
procession, "an' they luved ane anither weel."

The black thread wound itself along the whiteness of the Glen, the
coffin first, with his lordship and Drumsheugh behind, and the
others as they pleased, but in closer ranks than usual, because the
snow on either side was deep, and because this was not as other
funerals. They could see the women standing at the door of every
house on the hillside, and weeping, for each family had some good
reason in forty years to remember MacLure. When Bell Baxter saw
Saunders alive, and the coffin of the doctor that saved him on her
man's shoulder, she bowed her head on the dyke, and the bairns in
the village made such a wail for him they loved that the men nearly
disgraced themselves.

"A'm gled we're through that, at ony rate," said Hillocks; "he wes
awfu' taen up wi' the bairns, conseederin' he hed nane o' his ain."

There was only one drift on the road between his cottage and the
kirkyard, and it had been cut early that morning.

Before daybreak Saunders had roused the lads in the bothy, and they
had set to work by the light of lanterns with such good will that,
when Drumsheugh came down to engineer a circuit for the funeral,
there was a fair passage, with walls of snow twelve feet high on
either side.

"Man, Saunders," he said, "this wes a kind thocht, and rael weel

But Saunders' only reply was this:

"Mony a time he's hed tae gang roond; he micht as weel hae an open
road for his last traivel."

When the coffin was laid down at the mouth of the grave, the only
blackness in the white kirkyard, Tammas Mitchell did the most
beautiful thing in all his life. He knelt down and carefully wiped
off the snow the wind had blown upon the coffin, and which had
covered the name, and when he had done this he disappeared behind
the others, so that Drumsheugh could hardly find him to take a cord.
For these were the eight that buried Dr. MacLure--Lord Kilspindie at
the head as landlord and Drumsheugh at the feet as his friend; the
two ministers of the parish came first on the right and left; then
Burnbrae and Hillocks of the farmers, and Saunders and Tammas for
the plowmen. So the Glen he loved laid him to rest.

When the bedrel had finished his work and the turf had been spread,
Lord Kilspindie spoke:

"Friends of Drumtochty, it would not be right that we should part in
silence and no man say what is in every heart. We have buried the
remains of one that served this Glen with a devotion that has known
no reserve, and a kindliness that never failed, for more than forty
years. I have seen many brave men in my day, but no man in the
trenches of Sebastopol carried himself more knightly than William
MacLure. You will never have heard from his lips what I may tell you
to-day, that my father secured for him a valuable post in his
younger days, and he preferred to work among his own people; and I
wished to do many things for him when he was old, but he would have
nothing for himself. He will never be forgotten while one of us
lives, and I pray that all doctors everywhere may share his spirit.
If it be your pleasure, I shall erect a cross above his grave, and
shall ask my old friend and companion Dr. Davidson, your minister,
to choose the text to be inscribed."

"We thank you, Lord Kilspindie," said the doctor, "for your presence
with us in our sorrow and your tribute to the memory of William
MacLure, and I choose this for his text:

"'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life
for his friends.'"

Milton was, at that time, held in the bonds of a very bitter
theology, and his indignation was stirred by this unqualified

"No doubt Dr. MacLure hed mony natural virtues, an' he did his wark
weel, but it wes a peety he didna mak mair profession o' releegion."

"When William MacLure appears before the Judge, Milton," said
Lachlan Campbell, who that day spoke his last words in public, and
they were in defence of charity, "He will not be asking him about
his professions, for the doctor's judgment hass been ready long ago;
and it iss a good judgment, and you and I will be happy men if we
get the like of it.

"It iss written in the Gospel, but it iss William MacLure that will
not be expecting it."

"What is't, Lachlan?" asked Jamie Soutar, eagerly.

The old man, now very feeble, stood in the middle of the road, and
his face, once so hard, was softened into a winsome tenderness.

"'Come, ye blessed of My Father ... I was sick, and ye visited Me.'"


Back to Full Books