Janet, she had no way of indicating the correc-
tions but by again writing the whole poem out in
a neat print hand on the edge of the proof, and
underscoring the words which were to be altered
48 "THE HEATHER LINTIE."
This, when you think of it, is a very good way,
when the happiest part of your life is to be spent
in such concrete pleasures of hope, as Janet's were
over the crackly sheets of the printer of Drum.
Finally the book was produced, a small, rather
thickish octavo, on sufficiently wretched gray
paper which had suffered from want of thorough
washing in the original paper-mill. It was bound
in a peculiarly deadly blue, of a rectified Reckitt
tint, which gave you dazzles in the eye at any dis-
tance under ten paces. Janet had selected this as
the most appropriate of colours. She had also
many years ago decided upon the title, so that
Reckitt had printed upon it, back and side, " The
Heather Lintie," while inside there was the ac-
knowledgment of authorship, which Janet felt to
be a solemn duty to the world : " Poems by Janet
Balchrystie, Barbrax Cottage, by New Dairy."
First she had thought of withholding her name
and style ; but, on the whole, after the most pro-
longed consideration, she felt that she was not
justified in bringing about such a controversy as
divided Scotland concerning that "Great Un-
known " who wrote the Waverley Novels.
Almost every second or third day Janet trod that
long lochside road to New Dairy for her proof-
sheets, and returned them on the morrow corrected
in her own way. Sometimes she got a lift from
some farmer or carter, for she had worn herself
with anxiety to the shadow of what she had once
been, and her dry bleached hair became gray
"THE HEATHER LINTIE. 49
and grayer with the fervour of her devotion to
By April the book was published, and at the end
of this month, laid aside by sickness of the vague
kind called locally " a decline," she took to her bed,
rising only to lay a few sticks upon the fire from
her store gathered in the autumn, or to brew her-
self a cup of tea. She waited for the tokens of her
book's conquests in the great world of thought and
men. She had waited so long for her recognition,
and now it was coming. She felt that it would not
be long before she was recognised as one of the
singers of the world. Indeed, had she but known
it, her recognition was already on its way.
In a great city of the north a clever young
reporter was cutting open the leaves of "The
Heather Lintie" with a hand almost feverishly
" This is a perfect treasure. This is a find in-
deed. Here is my chance ready to my hand."
His paper was making a specialty of " ex-
posures." If there was anything weak and erring,
anything particularly helpless and foolish which
could make no stand for itself, the " Night Hawk "
was on the pounce. Hitherto the junior reporter
had never had a " two-column chance." He had
read it was not much that he had read Ma-
caulay's too famous article on " Satan " Montgom-
ery, and, not knowing that Macaulay lived to
regret the spirit of that assault, he felt that if he
could bring down the "Night Hawk" on "The
50 "THE HEATHER LINTIE."
Heather Lintie," his fortune was made. So he sat
down and he wrote, not knowing and not regard-
ing a lonely woman's heart, to whom his word
would be as the word of a God, in the lonely
cottage lying in the lee of the Long Wood of
The junior reporter turned out a triumph of the
new journalism. " This is a book which may be
a genuine source of pride to every native of the
ancient province of Galloway," he wrote. " Gal-
loway has been celebrated for black cattle and for
wool, as also for a certain bucolic belatedness of
temperament, but Galloway has never hitherto
produced a poetess. One has arisen in the person
of Miss Janet Bal something or other. We have
not an interpreter at hand, and so cannot wrestle
with the intricacies of the authoress's name, which
appears to be some Galwegian form of Erse or
Choctaw. Miss Bal and so forth has a true
fount of pathos and humour. In what touching
language she chronicles the death of two young
lambs which fell into one of the puddles they call
rivers down there, and were either drowned or
choked with the dirt:
" ' They were two bonny, bonny lambs,
That played upon the daisied lea,
And loudly mourned their woolly dams
Above the drnmly flowing Dee.'
How touchingly simple ! " continued the junior re-
porter, buckling up his sleeves to enjoy himself, and
"THE HEATHER LINTIE. 51
feeling himself born to be a " Saturday Reviewer."
" Mark the local colour, the wool and the dirty
water of the Dee without doubt a name applied
to one of their bigger ditches down there. Mark
also the over-fervency of the touching line,
" ' And loudly mourned their woolly dams,'
which, but for the sex of the writer and her evident
genius, might be taken for an expression of a
strength hardly permissible even in the metropolis."
The junior reporter filled his two columns and
enjoyed himself in the doing of it. He concluded
with the words : " The authoress will make a great
success. If she will come to the capital, where
genius is always appreciated, she will, without
doubt, make her fortune. Nay, if Miss Bal
but again we cannot proceed for the want of an
interpreter if Miss B., we say, will only accept a
position at Cleary's Waxworks and give readings
from her poetry, or exhibit herself in the act of
pronouncing her own name, she will be a greater
draw in this city than Punch and Judy, or even
the latest American advertising evangelist, who
preaches standing on his head."
The junior reporter ceased here from very ad-
miration at his own cleverness in so exactly hitting
the tone of the masters of his craft, and handed his
manuscript in to the editor.]
It was the gloaming of a long June day when
Rob Affleck, the woodman over at Barbrax, hav-
ing been at New Dairy with a cart of wood, left
52 "THE HEATHER UNTIE. 1 *
his .horse on the roadside and ran over througii
Gavin's old short cut, now seldom used, to Janet's
cottage with a paper in a yellow wrapper.
" Leave it on the step, and thank you kindly,
Rob," said a weak voice within ; and Rob, anxious
about his horse and his bed, did so without another
word. In a moment or two Janet crawled to the
door, listened to make sure that Rob was really
gone, opened the door, and protruded a hand
wasted to the hard, flat bone an arm that ought
for years to have been full of flesh and noble
When Janet got back to bed it was too dark to
see anything except the big printing at the top of
the paper. "_
"Two columns of it!" said Janet, with great
thankfulness in her heart, lifting up her soul to
God who had given her the power to sing. She
strained her prematurely old and weary eyes to
make out the sense. " A genuine source of pride
to every native of the ancient province," she read.
" The Lord be praised ! " said Janet, in a rapture
of devout thankfulness ; " though I never really
doubted it," she added, as though asking pardon
for a moment's distrust. "But I tried to write
these poems to the glory of God and not to my
own praise, and He will accept them and keep me
humble under the praise of men as well as under
So clutching the precious paper close to her
breast, and letting tears of thankfulness fall on the
"THE HEATHER LINTIE,," 53
article, which, had they fallen on the head of the
junior reporter, would have burned like fire, she
patiently awaited the coming dawn.
" I can wait till the morning now to read the
rest," she said.
So hour after hour, with her eyes wide, staring
hard at the gray window-squares, she waited the
dawn from the east. About half-past two there
was a stirring and a moaning among the pines,
and the roar of the sudden gust came with the
breaking day through the dark arches. In the
whirlwind there came a strange expectancy and
tremor into the heart of the poetess, and she
pressed the wet sheet of crumpled paper closer to
her bosom, and turned to face the light. Through
the spaces of the Long Wood of Barbrax there
came a shining visitor, the Angel of the Presence,
he who comes but once and stands a moment with
a beckoning finger. Him she followed up through
They found Janet on the morning of the second
day after, with a look so glad on her face, and so
natural an expectation in the unclosed eye, that
Rob Affleck spoke to her and expected an answer.
The "Night Hawk" was clasped to her breast
with a hand that they could not loosen. It went
to the grave with her body. The ink had run a
little here and there, where the tears had fallen
God is more merciful than man.
A DOCTOR OF THE OLD
A DOCTOR OF THE OLD SCHOOL 1
BY IAN MACLAREN
A GENERAL PRACTITIONER
T\RUMTOCHTY was accustomed to break
JL/ every law of health, except wholesome food
and fresh air, and yet had reduced the psalmist's
furthest limit to an average life-rate. Our men
made no difference in their clothes for summer or
winter, Drumsheugh and one or two of the larger
farmers condescending to a top-coat on Sabbath,
as a penalty of their position, and without regard
to temperature. They wore their blacks at a
funeral, refusing to cover them with anything, out
of respect to the deceased, and standing longest in
the kirkyard when the north wind was blowing
across a hundred miles of snow. If the rain was
pouring at the junction, then Drumtochty stood
two minutes longer through sheer native dourness
till each man had a cascade from the tail of his
coat, and hazarded the suggestion, half-way to
1 From " Beside the Bonnie Brier-bush," copyrighted,
1894, by Dodd, Mead & Co.
58 A DOCTOR OF THE OLD SCHOOL.
Kildrummie, that it had been " a bit scrowie," a
" scrowie " being as far short of a " shoor " as a
"shoor" fell below "weet."
This sustained defiance of the elements provoked
occasional judgments in the shape of a " hoast "
(cough), and the head of the house was then ex-
horted by his women folk to " change his feet " if
he had happened to walk through a burn on his
way home, and was pestered generally with sanitary
precautions. It is right to add that the gudeman
treated such advice with contempt, regarding it as
suitable for the effeminacy of towns, but not seri-
ously intended for Drumtochty. Sandy Stewart
" napped " stones on the road in his shirt-sleeves,
wet or fair, summer and winter, till he was persuaded
to retire from active duty at eighty-five, and he
spent ten years more in regretting his hastiness and
criticising his successor. The ordinary course of
life, with fine air and contented minds, was to do
a full share of work till seventy, and then to look
after " orra n jobs well into the eighties, and to
" slip awa' " within sight of ninety. Persons above
ninety were understood to be acquitting themselves
with credit, and assumed airs of authority, brush-
ing aside the opinions of seventy as immature,
and confirming their conclusions with illustrations
drawn from the end of last century.
When Hillocks's brother so far forgot himself as
to "slip awa'" at sixty, that worthy man was
scandalised, and offered laboured explanations at
A DOCTOR OF THE OLD SCHOOL. 59
"It 's an awfu' business ony wy ye look at it,
an' a sair trial tae us a'. A' never heard tell o' sic
a thing in oor family afore, an' it 's no easy ac-
coontin' for 't.
"The gudewife was sayin' he wes never the
same sin' a weet nicht he lost himsel' on the muir
and slept below a bush ; but that 's neither here nor
there. A' 'm thinkin' he sappit his constitution thae
twa years he wes grieve aboot England. That wes
thirty years syne, but ye 're never the same aifter
thae foreign climates."
Drumtochty listened patiently to Hillocks's apo-
logia, but was not satisfied.
" It 's clean havers aboot the muir. Losh
keep 's, we 've a' sleepit oot and never been a hair
" A' admit that England micht hae dune the job ;
it 's no canny stravagin' yon wy frae place tae
place, but Drums never complained tae me as if he
hed been nippit in the Sooth."
The parish had, in fact, lost confidence in
Drums after his wayward experiment with a potato-
digging machine, which turned out a lamentable
failure, and his premature departure confirmed our
vague impression of his character.
" He 's awa' noo," Drumsheugh summed up,
after opinion had time to form ; " an' there were
waur fouk than Drums, but there 's nae doot he
wes a wee flichty."
When illness had the audacity to attack a
Drumtochty man, it was described as a " whup,"
60 A DOCTOR OF THE OLD SCHOOL.
and was treated by the men with a fine negligence.
Hillocks was sitting in the post-office one afternoon
when I looked in for my letters, and the right side
of his face was blazing red. His subject of dis-
course was the prospects of the turnip " breer," but
he casually explained that he was waiting for
"The gudewife is keepin' up a ding-dong frae
mornin' till nicht aboot ma face, and a' 'm fair
deaved [deafened], so a' 'm watchin' for MacLure
tae get a bottle as he comes wast ; yon 's him
The doctor made his diagnosis from horseback
on sight, and stated the result with that admirable
clearness which endeared him to Drumtochty :
" Confoond ye, Hillocks, what are ye ploiterin'
aboot here for in the weet wi' a face like a boiled
beet? Div ye no ken that ye Ve a tetch o' the rose
[erysipelas], and ocht tae be in the hoose? Gae
hame wi' ye afore a* leave the bit, and send a
haflin' for some medicine. Ye donnerd idiot, are
ye ettlin tae follow Drums afore yir time? " And
the medical attendant of Drumtochty continued
his invective till Hillocks started, and still pur-
sued his retreating figure with medical directions
of a simple and practical character :
" A' 'm watchin', an' peety ye if ye pit aff time.
Keep yir bed the mornin', and dinna show yir face
in the fields till a' see ye. A' '11 gie ye a cry on
Monday, sic an auld fule, but there 's no ane o'
them tae mind anither in the hale pairish."
A DOCTOR OF THE OLD SCHOOL. 6 1
Hillocks's wife informed the kirkyard that the
doctor " gied the gudeman an awfu' clearin'," and
that Hillocks "wes keepin' the hoose," which
meant that the patient had tea breakfast, and at
that time was wandering about the farm buildings
in an easy undress, with his head in a plaid.
It was impossible for a doctor to earn even the
most modest competence from a people of such
scandalous health, and so MacLure had annexed
neighbouring parishes. His house little more
than a cottage stood on the roadside among the
pines toward the head of our Glen, and from this
base of operations he dominated the wild glen that
broke the wall of the Grampians above Drum-
tochty where the snow-drifts were twelve feet
deep in winter, and the only way of passage at
times was the channel of the river and the moor-
land district westward till he came to the Dun-
leith sphere of influence, where there were four
doctors and a hydropathic. Drumtochty in its
length, which was eight miles, and its breadth,
which was four, lay in his hand; besides a glen
behind, unknown to the world, which in the night-
time he visited at the risk of life, for the way
thereto was across the big moor with its peat-holes
and treacherous bogs. And he held the land east-
ward toward Muirtown so far as Geordie. The
Drumtochty post travelled every day, and could
carry word that the doctor was wanted. He did
his best for the need of every man, woman, and
child in this wild, straggling district, year in, year
62 A DOCTOR OF THE OLD SCHOOL.
out, in the snow and in the heat, in the dark and
in the light, without rest, and without holiday for
One horse could not do the work of this man,
but we liked best to see him on his old white mare,
who died the week after her master, and the pass-
ing of the two did our hearts good. It was not
that he rode beautifully, for he broke every canon
of art, flying with his arms, stooping till he seemed
to be speaking into Jess's ears, and rising in the
saddle beyond all necessity. But he could ride
faster, stay longer in the saddle, and had a firmer
grip with his knees than any one I ever met, and
it was all for mercy's sake. When the reapers in
harvest-time saw a figure whirling past in a cloud
of dust, or the family at the foot of Glen Urtach,
gathered round the fire on a winter's night, heard
the rattle of a horse's hoofs on the road, or the
shepherds, out after the sheep, traced a black speck
moving across the snow to the upper glen, they
knew it was the doctor, and, without being con-
scious of it, wished him God-speed.
Before and behind his saddle were strapped the
instruments and medicines the doctor might want,
for he never knew what was before him. There
were no specialists in Drumtochty, so this man had
to do everything as best he could, and as quickly.
He was chest doctor, and doctor for every other
organ as well ; he was accoucheur and surgeon ;
he was oculist and aurist; he was dentist and
chloroformist, besides being chemist and druggist.
A DOCTOR OF THE OLD SCHOOL. 63
It was often told how he was far up Glen Urtach
when the feeders of the threshing-mill caught
young Burnbrae, and how he only stopped to
change horses at his house, and galloped all the
way to Burnbrae, and flung himself off his horse,
and amputated the arm, and saved the lad's life.
"You wud hae thocht that every meenut was
an hour," said Jamie Soutar, who had been at the
threshing, " an' a' '11 never forget the puir lad lyin'
as white as deith on the floor o' the loft, wi' his
head on a sheaf, and Burnbrae haudin' the bandage
ticht an' prayin' a' the while, and the mither
greetin' in the corner.
" ' Will he never come ? ' she cries, an' a' heard
the soond o' the horse's feet on the road a mile
awa' in the frosty air.
" ' The Lord be praised! ' said Burnbrae, and a'
slippit doon the ladder as the doctor came skelpin*
intae the close, the foam fleein' frae his horse's
" ' Whar is he? ' wes a' that passed his lips, an' in
five meenuts he hed him on the feedin' board, and
wes at his wark sic wark, neeburs! but he did it
weel. An' ae thing a' thocht rael thochtfu' o' him :
he first sent aff the laddie's mither tae get a bed
" ' Noo that 's feenished, and his constitution 'ill
dae the rest,' and he carried the lad doon the ladder
in his airms like a bairn, and laid him in his bed,
and waits aside him till he wes sleepin', and then
says he, ' Burnbrae, yir a gey lad never tae say,
64 A DOCTOR OF THE OLD SCHOOL.
" Collie, will ye lick? " for a' hevna tasted meat for
" It was michty tae see him come intae the yaird
that day, neeburs; the verra look o' him wes
Jamie's cynicism slipped off in the enthusiasm of
this reminiscence, and he expressed the feeling of
Drumtochty. No one sent for MacLure save in
great straits, and the sight of him put courage in
sinking hearts. But this was not by the grace of
his appearance, or the advantage of a good bedside
manner. A tall, gaunt, loosely made man, without
an ounce of superfluous flesh on his body, his face
burned a dark brick colour by constant exposure
to the weather, red hair and beard turning gray,
honest blue eyes that look you ever in the face,
huge hands with wrist-bones like the shank of a
ham, and a voice that hurled his salutations across
two fields, he suggested the moor rather than the
drawing-room. But what a clever hand it was in
an operation as delicate as a woman's! and what
a kindly voice it was in the humble room where the
shepherd's wife was weeping by her man's bedside !
He was " ill pitten thegither " to begin with, but
many of his physical defects were the penalties
of his work, and endeared him to the Glen. That
ugly scar, that cut into his right eyebrow and gave
him such a sinister expression, was got one night
Jess slipped on the ice and laid him insensible eight
miles from home. His limp marked the big snow-
storm in the fifties, when his horse missed the road
A DOCTOR OF THE OLD SCHOOL. 65
in Glen Urtach, and they roiled together in a drift.
MacLure escaped with a broken leg and the frac-
ture of three ribs, but he never walked like other
men again. He could not swing himself into the
saddle without making two attempts and holding
Jess's mane. Neither can you " warstle " through
the peat-bogs and snow-drifts for forty winters
without a touch of rheumatism. But they were
honourable scars, and for such risks of life men
get the Victoria Cross in other fields. MacLure
got nothing but the secret affection of the Glen,
which knew that none had ever done one tenth as
much for it as this ungainly, twisted, battered
figure, and I have seen a Drumtochty face soften
at the sight of MacLure limping to his horse.
Mr. Hopps earned the ill-will of the Glen for
ever by criticising the doctor's dress, but indeed it
would have filled any townsman with amazement.
Black he wore once a year, on sacrament Sunday,
and, if possible, at a funeral ; top-coat or water-
proof never. His jacket and waistcoat were rough
homespun of Glen Urtach wool, which threw off
the wet like a duck's back, and below he was clad
in shepherd's tartan trousers, which disappeared
into unpolished riding-boots. His shirt was gray
flannel, and he was uncertain about a collar, but
certain as to a tie, which he never had, his beard
doing instead, and his hat was soft felt of four
colours and seven different shapes. His point of
distinction in dress was the trousers, and they
were the subject of unending speculation.
66 A DOCTOR OF THE OLD SCHOOL.
"Some threep that he 's worn thae eedentical
pair the last twenty year, an' a' mind masel' him
gettin' a tear ahint, when he was crossin' oor
palin', and the mend 's still veesible.
" Ithers declare 'at he 's got a wab o' claith, and
hes a new pair made in Muirtown aince in the twa
year maybe, and keeps them in the garden till the
new look wears aff.
" For ma ain pairt," Soutar used to declare, " a'
canna mak' up my mind, but there 's ae thing sure :
the Glen wudna like tae see him withoot them ;
it wud be a shock tae confidence. There 's no
muckle o' the check left, but ye can aye tell it, and
when ye see thae breeks comin' in ye ken that if
human pooer can save yir bairn's life it 'ill be
The confidence of the Glen and tributary
states was unbounded, and rested partly on long
experience of the doctor's resources, and partly on
his hereditary connection.
" His father was here afore him," Mrs. Macfad-
yen used to explain ; " atween them they 've hed
the country-side for weel on tae a century ; if Mac-
Lure disna understand oor constitution, wha dis, a'
wud like tae ask? "
For Drumtochty had its own constitution and a
special throat disease, as became a parish which
was quite self-contained between the woods and
the hills, and not dependent on the lowlands either
for its diseases or its doctors.
" He 's a skilly man. Dr. MacLure." continued
A DOCTOR OF THE OLD SCHOOL. 67
my friend Mrs. Macfadyen, whose judgment on
sermons or anything else was seldom at fault;
"an' a kind-hearted, though o' coorse he hes his
faults like us a', an' he disna tribble the kirk
" He aye can tell what 's wrong wi' a body, an'
maistly he can put ye richt, and there 's nae new-
fangled wys wi' him ; a blister for the ootside an'
Epsom salts for the inside dis his wark, an' they say
there 's no an herb on the hills he disna ken.
" If we 're tae dee, we 're tae dee ; an' if we 're
tae live, we 're tae live," concluded Elspeth, with
sound Calvinistic logic ; " but a' '11 say this for the
doctor, that, whether yir tae live or dee, he can aye
keep up a sharp meisture on the skin.
"But he 's no verra ceevil gin ye bring him
when there 's naethin' wrang," and Mrs, Macfad-
yen's face reflected another of Mr. Hopps's misad-
ventures of which Hillocks held the copyright.
" Hopps's laddie ate grosarts [gooseberries] till
they hed to sit up a' nicht wi' him, an' naethin'
wud do but they maun hae the doctor, an' he
writes ' immediately ' on a slip o' paper,
" Weel, MacLure had been awa' a' nicht wi' a
shepherd's wife Dunleith wy, and he comes here
withoot drawin* bridle, mud up tae the een.
" ' What 's adae here, Hillocks? ' he cries ; ' it 's
no an accident, is 't? ' and when he got aff his
horse he cud hardly stand wi' stiffness and tire.
" ' It 's nane o' us, doctor ; it 's Hopps's laddie ;