"By no means but you must not swear. I
pay over the money for your scrip, and you pocket
a premium. It seems to me a very simple trans-
" But I tell you I have n't got the scrip! " cried
Sawley, gnashing his teeth, while the cold beads
of perspiration gathered largely on his brow.
" That is very unfortunate ! Have you lost it? "
" No ! the devil tempted me, and I oversold ! "
There was a very long pause, during which I as-
sumed an aspect of serious and dignified rebuke.
" Is it possible? " said I, in a low tone, after the
manner of Kean's offended fathers. " What! you,
Mr. Sawley the stoker's friend the enemy of
gambling the father of Selina condescend to so
equivocal a transaction ? You amaze me! But I
never was the man to press heavily on a friend "
here Sawley brightened up. " Your secret is safe
with me, and it shall be your own fault if it reaches
the ears of the Session. Pay me over the differ-
ence at the present market price, and I release you
of your obligation."
"Then I 'm in the Gazette, that 's all," said
Sawley, doggedly, " and a wife and nine beautiful
l6o THE GLENMUTCHKIN RAILWAY.
babes upon the parish! I had hoped other things
from you, Mr. Dunshunner I thought you and
"Nonsense, man! Nobody goes into the Ga-
zette just now it will be time enough when the
general crash comes. Out with your cheque-book,
and write me an order for four and twenty thou-
sand. Confound fractions! in these days one can
afford to be liberal."
" I have n't got it," said Sawley. " You have
no idea how bad our trade has been of late, for
nobody seems to think of dying. I have not sold
a gross of coffins this fortnight. But I '11 tell you
what I '11 give you five thousand down in cash,
and ten thousand in shares ; further I can't go."
" Now, Mr. Sawley," said I, " I may be blamed
by worldly-minded persons for what I am going to
do ; but I am a man of principle, and feel deeply
for the situation of your amiable wife and family.
I bear no malice, though it is quite clear that you
intended to make me the sufferer. Pay me fifteen
thousand over the counter, and we cry quits for
"Won't you take Camlachie Cemetery shares?
They are sure to go up."
" Twelve hundred Cowcaddens Water, with an
issue of new stock next week ? "
" Not if they disseminated the Ganges! "
"A thousand Ramshorn Gas four per cent
guaranteed until the act? "
THE GLENMUTCHKIN RAILWAY, l6v
" Not if they promised twenty, and melted down
che sun in their retort! "
" Blawweary Iron? Best spec, going."
" No, I tell you once for all! If you don't like
my offer, and it is an uncommonly liberal one,
say so, and I '11 expose you this afternoon upon
" Well then, there 's a cheque. But may the "
" Stop, sir ! Any such profane expressions, and
I shall insist upon the original bargain. So then,
now we *re quits. I wish you a very good-
morning, Mr. Sawley, and better luck next time,
Pray remember me to your amiable family."
The door had hardly closed upon the discomfited
coffin-maker, and I was still in the preliminary
steps of an extempore pas seul, intended as the out-
ward demonstration of exceeding inward joy, when
Bob M'Corkindale entered. I told him the result
of the morning's conference.
" You have let him off too easily," said the politi-
cal economist. " Had I been his creditor, I cer-
tainly should have sacked the shares into the
bargain. There is nothing like rigid dealing be-
tween man and man."
" I am contented with moderate profits," said I ;
" besides, the image of Selina overcame me. How
goes it with Jobson and Grabbie? "
"Jobson has paid, and Grabbie compounded.
Heckles may he die an evil death! has repu-
diated, become a lame duck, and waddled ; but no
doubt his estate will pay a dividend."
162 THE GLENMUTCHKIN RAILWAY.
"So then, we are clear of the whole Glen-
mutchkin business, and at a handsome profit."
"A fair interest for the outlay of capital noth-
ing more. But I 'm not quite done with the con-
"How so? not another bearing operation?"
" No ; that cock would hardly fight. But you
forget that I am secretary to the company, and
have a small account against them for services al-
ready rendered. I must do what I can to carry
the bill through Parliament ; and, as you have now
sold your whole shares, I advise you to resign from
the direction, go down straight to Glenmutchkin,
and qualify yourself for a witness. We shall give
you five guineas a day, and pay all your expenses."
" Not a bad notion. But what has become of
M'CIoskie, and the other fellow with the jaw-
" Vich-Induibh? I have looked after their in-
terests as in duty bound, sold their shares at a
large premium, and despatched them to their native
hills on annuities."
"And Sir Polloxfen?"
" Died yesterday of spontaneous combustion."
As the company seemed breaking up, I thought
I could not do better than take M'Corkindale's
hint, and accordingly betook myself to Glen-
mutchkin, along with the Captain of M'Alcohol,
and we quartered ourselves upon the Factor for
Glentumblers. We found Watty Solder very
shaky, and his assistant also lapsing into habits
THE GLENMUTCHKIN RAILWAY. 163
of painful inebriety. We saw little of them except
of an evening, for we shot and fished the whole
day, and made ourselves remarkably comfortable.
By singular good luck, the plans and sections were
lodged in time, and the Board of Trade very hand-
somely reported in our favour, with a recommen-
dation of what they were pleased to call "the
Glenmutchkin system," and a hope that it might
generally be carried out. What this system was, I
never clearly understood ; but, of course, none of
us had any objections. This circumstance gave
an additional impetus to the shares, and they once
more went up. I was, however, too cautious to
plunge a second time into Charybdis, but M'Cor-
kindale did, and again emerged with plunder.
When the time came for the parliamentary con-
test, we all emigrated to London. I still recollect,
with lively satisfaction, the many pleasant days we
spent in the metropolis at the company's expense.
There were just a neat fifty of us, and we occupied
the whole of a hotel. The discussion before the
committee was long and formidable. We were op-
posed by four other companies who patronised
lines, of which the nearest was at least a hundred
miles distant from Glenmutchkin; but as they
founded their opposition upon dissent from " the
Glenmutchkin system" generally, the committee
allowed them to be heard. We fought for three
weeks a most desperate battle, and might in the
end have been victorious, had not our last antag-
onist, at the very close of his case, pointed out
1 64. THE GLENMUTCHKIN RAILWAY.
no less than seventy-three fatal errors in the parlia-
mentary plan deposited by the unfortunate Solder.
Why this was not done earlier, I never exactly
understood ; it may be that our opponents, with
gentlemanly consideration, were unwilling to cur-
tail our sojourn in London and their own. The
drama was now finally closed, and after all pre-
liminary expenses were paid, sixpence per share
was returned to the holders upon surrender of
Such is an accurate history of the Origin, Rise,
Progress, and Fall of the Direct Glenmutchkin
Railway. It contains a deep moral, if anybody
has sense enough to see it ; if not, I have a new
project in my eye for next session, of which timely
notice shall be given.
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
THE REVEREND MURDOCH SOULIS
was long minister of the moorland parish of
Balweary, in the vale of Dule. A severe, bleak-
faced old man, dreadful to his hearers, he dwelt in
the last years of his life, without relative or servant
or any human company, in the small and lonely
manse under the Hanging Shaw. In spite of the
iron composure of his features, his eye was wild,
scared, and uncertain ; and when he dwelt, in pri-
vate admonitions, on the future of the impenitent,
it seemed as if his eye pierced through the storms
of time to the terrors of eternity. Many young
persons, coming to prepare themselves against
the season of the holy communion, were dread-
fully affected by his talk. He had a sermon
on i Pet. v. 8, "The devil as a roaring lion,"
on the Sunday after every iyth of August, and
he was accustomed to surpass himself upon that
text both by the appalling nature of the matter
and the terror of his bearing in the pulpit. The
children were frightened into fits, and the old
looked more than usually oracular, and were, all
that day, full of thosp hints that Hamlet depre-
1 68 THRAWN JANET.
cated. The manse itself, where it stood by the
water of Dule among some thick trees ; with the
Shaw overhanging it on the one side, and on the
other many cold, moorish hilltops rising toward
the sky, had begun, at a very early period of Mr.
Soulis's ministry, to be avoided in the dusk hours
by all who valued themselves upon their prudence ;
and guidmen sitting at the clachan alehouse shook
their heads together at the thought of passing late by
that uncanny neighbourhood. There was one spot,
to be more particular, which was regarded with
especial awe. The manse stood between the high-
road and the water of Dule, with a gable to each ;
its back was toward the kirktown of Balweary,
nearly half a mile away ; in front of it, a bare gar-
den, hedged with thorn, occupied the land between
the river and the road. The house was two stories
high, with two large rooms on each. It opened
not directly on the garden, but on a causewayed
path, or passage, giving on the road on the one
hand, and closed on the other by the tall willows
and elders that bordered on the stream. And it
was this strip of causeway that enjoyed among the
young parishioners of Balweary so infamous a
reputation. The minister walked there often after
dark, sometimes groaning aloud in the instancy of
his unspoken prayers ; and when he was from home,
and the manse door was locked, the more daring
school-boys ventured, with beating hearts, to " fol-
low my leader " across that legendary spot.
This atmosphere of terror, surrounding, as it did,
THRAWN JANET. 169
a man of God of spotless character and orthodoxy,
was a common cause of wonder and subject of in-
quiry among the few strangers who were led by
chance or business into that unknown, outlying
country. But many even of the people of the
parish were ignorant of the strange events which
had marked the first year of Mr. Soulis's ministra-
tions ; and among those who were better informed,
some were naturally reticent, and others shy of that
particular topic. Now and again, only, one of the
older folk would warm into courage over his third
tumbler, and recount the cause of the minister's
strange looks and solitary life.
Fifty years syne, when Mr. Soulis cam' first into
Ba' weary, he was still a young man, a callant, the
folk said, fu' o' book-learnin' and grand at the ex-
position, but, as was natural in sae young a man,
wi' nae leevin' experience in religion. The younger
sort were greatly taken wi' his gifts and his gab ;
but auld, concerned, serious men and women were
moved even to prayer for the young man, whom
they took to be a self-deceiver, and the parish that
was like to be sae ill supplied. It was before the
days o' the Moderates weary fa' them ; but ill
things are like guid they baith come bit by bit, a
pickle at a time ; and there were folk even then
that said the Lord had left the college professors
to their ain devices, an' the lads that went to study
wi' them wad hae done mair and better sittin' in a
peat-bog, like their forebears of the persecution, wi'
170 THRAWN JANET.
a Bible under their oxter and a speerit o 1 prayer in
their heart. There was nae doubt, onyway, but that
Mr. Soulis had been ower-lang at the college. He
was careful and troubled for mony things besides
the ae thing needful. He had a feck o' books wi'
him mair than had ever been seen before in a'
that presbytery ; and a sair wark the carrier had
wi' them, for they were a' like to have smoored in
the Deil's Hag between this and Kilmackerlie.
They were books o' divinity, to be sure, or so they
ca'd them ; but the serious were o' opinion there
was little service for sae mony, when the hail o'
God's Word would gang in the neuk of a plaid.
Then he wad sit half the day and half the nicht
forby, which was scant decent writin', nae less ;
and first they were feard he wad read his ser-
mons ; and syne it proved he was writin' a book
himseF, which was surely no fittin' for ane of his
years an' sma' experience.
Onyway, it behooved him to get an auld, decent
wife to keep the manse for him an' see to his bit
denners ; and he was recommended to an auld
limmer, Janet M'Clour, they ca'd her, and sae
far left to himseF as to be ower-persuaded. There
was mony advised him to the contrar', for Janet was
mair than suspeckit by the best folk in Ba'weary.
Lang or that, she had had a wean to a dragoon ;
she hadnae come forrit 1 for maybe thretty year ;
and bairns had seen her mumblin' to hersel' up on
1 To "come forrit" to offer one's self as a commu-
THRAWN JANET. i;i
Key's Loan in the gloamin', whilk was an unco
time an' place for a God-fearin' woman. Howso-
ever, it was the laird himseF that had first tauld the
minister o" Janet ; and in thae days he wad have
gane a far gate to pleesure the laird. When folk
tauld him that Janet was sib to the deil, it was a'
superstition by his way of it; an' when they cast
up the Bible to him, an' the witch of Endor, he
wad threep it doun their thrapples that thir days
were a' gane by, and the deil was mercifully re-
Weel, when it got about the clachan that Janet
M' Clour was to be servant at the manse, the folk
were fair mad wi' her an' him thegether ; and some
o' the guidwives had nae better to dae than get
round her door-cheeks and chairge her wi' a' that
was kent again' her, frae the sodger's bairn to John
Tamson's twa kye. She was nae great speaker;
folk usually let her gang her ain gait, an" she let
them gang theirs, wi' neither fair guid-e'en nor
fair guid-day; but when she buckled to, she had
a tongue to deave the miller. Up she got, an'
there wasnae an auld story in Ba'weary but she
gart somebody lowp for it that day ; they couldnae
say ae thing but she could say twa to it ; till, at
the hinder end, the guidwives up and claught
haud of her, and clawed the coats aff her back,
and pu'd her doun the clachan to the water o'
Dule, to see if she were a witch or no, soum or
droun. The carline skirled till ye could hear her
at the Hangin' Shaw, and she focht like ten ; there
173 THRAWN JANET.
was mony a guid wife bure the mark of her neist
day an' mony a lang day after; and just in the
hettest o' the collieshangie, wha suld come up (for
his sins) but the new minister.
" Women," said he (and he had a grand voice),
" I charge you in the Lord's name to let her go."
Janet ran to him she was fair wud wi' terror
an' clang to him, an' prayed him, for Christ's
sake, save her frae the cummers ; an' they, for their
pairt, tauld him a' that was kent, and maybe main
"Woman," says he to Janet, "is this true? "
" As the Lord sees me," says she, " as the Lord
made me, no a word o' 'to Forby the bairn," says
she, " I Ve been a decent woman a' my days."
" Will you," says Mr. Soulis, " in the name of
God, and before me, His unworthy minister, re-
nounce the devil and his works?"
Weel, it wad appear that, when he askit that, she
gave a girn that fairly frichtit them that saw her,
an' they could hear her teeth play dirl thegether in
her chafts ; but there was naething for it but the
ae way or the ither ; an' Janet lifted up her hand
and renounced the deil before them a'.
" And now," says Mr. Soulis to the guidwives,
" home with ye, one and all, and pray to God for
And he gied Janet his arm, though she had little
on her but a sark, and took her up the clachan to
her ain door like a leddy of the land, an' her
scrieghin' and laughin' as was a scandal to be
THRAWN JANET. 173
There were mony grave folk lang ower their
prayers that nicht ; but when the morn cam' there
was sic a fear fell upon a' Ba'weary that the bairns
hid theirsel's, and even the men folk stood and
keekit frae their doors. For there was Janet
comin" doun the clachan, her or her likeness,
nane could tell, wi' her neck thrawn, and her
heid on ae side, like a body that has been hangit,
and a girn on her face like an unstreakit corp.
By-an'-by they got used wi' it, and even speered
at her to ken what was wrang ; but frae that day
forth she couldnae speak like a Christian woman,
but slavered and played click wi' her teeth like a
pair o' shears ; and frae that day forth the name
o' God cam' never on her lips. Whiles she wad try
to say it, but it michtnae be. Them that kenned
best said least ; but they never gied that Thing the
name o' Janet M'Clour; for the auld Janet, by
their way o' 't, was in muckle hell that day. But
the minister was neither to haud nor to bind ; he
preached about naething but the folk's cruelty that
had gien her a stroke of the palsy ; he skelpt the
bairns that meddled her ; and he had her up to the
manse that same nicht, and dwalled there a' his lane
wi' her under the Hangin' Shaw.
Weel, time gaed by, and the idler sort com-
menced to think mair lichtly o' that black busi-
ness. The minister was weel thocht o' ; he was
aye late at the writing folk wad see his can'le doon
by the Dule Water aftertwal'at e'en ; and he seemed
pleased wi' himseP and upsitten as at first, though
174 THRAWN JANET.
a' body could see that he was dwining. As for
Janet, she cam' an' she gaed ; if she didnae speak
muckle afore, it was reason she should speak less
then; she meddled naebody; but she was an
eldritch thing to see, an' nane wad hae mistrysted
wi' her for Ba'weary glebe.
About the end o' July there cam' a spell o'
weather, the like o' 't never was in that country-
side ; it was lown an' het an' heartless ; the herds
couldnae win up the Black Hill, the bairns were
ower-weariet to play; an' yet it was gousty too,
wi' claps o' het wund that rummled in the glens,
and bits o' shouers that sleekened naething. We
aye thocht it but to thun'er on the morn ; but the
morn cam', an' the morn's morning, and it was
aye the same uncanny weather, sair on folks
and bestial. Of a' that were the waur, nane suf-
fered like Mr. Soulis ; he could neither sleep nor
eat, he tauld his elders; an' when he wasnae
writin' at his weary book, he wad be stravaguin'
ower a' the country-side like a man possessed,
when a' body else was blithe to keep caller ben
Abune Hangin' Shaw, in the bield o' the Black
Hill, there 's a bit enclosed grund wi' an iron yett ;
and it seems, in the auld days, that was the kirk-
yaird o' Ba'weary, and consecrated by the papists
before the blessed licht shone upon the kingdom.
It was a great howff, o' Mr. Soulis's onyway ; there
he would sit an' consider his sermons ; and inded
it 's a bicldy bit. Weel, as he came ower the wast
THRAWN JANET. 175
end o' the Black Hill, ae day, he saw first twa, an'
syne fewer, an' syne seeven corbie craws fleein'
round an' round abune the auld kirkyaird. They
flew laigh and heavy, an' squawked to ither as they
gaed ; and it was clear to Mr. Soulis that something
had put them frae their ordinar. He wasnae easy
fleyed, an' gaed straucht up to the wa's ; and what
suld he find there but a man, or the appearance of
a man, sittin' in the inside upon a grave. He was
of a great stature, an' black as hell, and his een
were singular to see. 1 Mr. Soulis had heard tell
o' black men, mony 's the time; but there was
something unco about this black man that daunted
him. Het as he was, he took a kind o' cauld grue
in the marrow o' his banes ; but up he spak' for a'
that ; an' says he, " My friend, are you a stranger
in this place? " The black man answered never
a word ; he got upon his feet, an' begude to hirsel
to the wa' on the far side ; but he aye lookit at the
minister; an' the minister stood an' lookit back;
till a' in a meenute the black man was ower the
wa' an' rinnin' for the bield o' the trees. Mr.
Soulis, he hardly kenned why, ran after him ; but
he was sair forjaskit wi' his walk an' the het, un-
halesome weather; and rin as he likit, he got nae
mair than a glisk o' the black man amang the birks,
till he won doun to the foot o' the hillside, an' there
1 It was a. common belief in Scotland that the devil ap-
peared as a black man. This appears in several witch-
trials, and, I think, in Law's " Memorials," that delightful
storehouse of the quaint and grisly.
176 THRAWN JANET-
he saw him ance mair, gaun, hap, step, an' lowp,
ower Dule Water to the manse.
Mr. Soulis wasnae weel pleased that this fear-
some gangrel suld mak' sae free wi' Ba'weary
manse ; an' he ran the harder, an* wet shoon, ower
the burn, an' up the walk ; but the deil a black man
was there to see. He stepped out upon the road,
but there was naebody there ; he gaed a' ower the
gairden, but na, nae black man. At the hinder
end, and a bit feard as was but natural, he lifted
the hasp and into the manse ; and there was Janet
M' Clour before his een, wi' her thrawn craig, and
nane sae pleased to see him. And he aye minded
sinsyne, when first he set his een upon her, he had
the same cauld and deidly grue.
" Janet," says he, " have you seen a black man? "
" A black man ? " quo' she. " Save us a' ! Ye 're
no wise, minister. There 's nae black man in a'
But she didnae speak plain, ye maun under-
stand ; but yam-yammered, like a powny wi' the
bit in its moo.
" Weel," says he, "Janet, if there was nae black
man, I have spoken with the Accuser of the
And he sat down like ane wi' a fever, an' his
teeth chittered in his heid.
"Hoots!" says she, "think shame to yoursel',
minister," an' gied him a drap brandy that she
keept aye by her.
Syne Mr. Soulis gaed into his study amang a'
THRAWN JANET. 177
his oooks. It 's a lang, laigh, mirk chalmer, per-
ishin' cauld in winter, an' no very dry even in the
top o' the simmer, for the manse stands near the
burn. Sae doun he sat, and thocht of a' that had
come an' gane since he was in Ba'weary, an' his
hame, an' the days when he was a bairn an 8 ran
daffin' on the braes ; and that black man aye ran
in his heid like the owercome of a sang. Aye the
mair he thocht, the mair he thocht o' the black
man. He tried the prayer, an' the words would-
nae come to him ; an' he tried, they say, to write
at his book, but he couldnae mak' nae mair o'
that. There was whiles he thocht the black man
was at his oxter, an' the swat stood upon him
cauld as well-water; and there was other whiles
when he cam' to himsel' like a christened bairn and
The upshot was that he gaed to the window an'
stood glowrin' at Dule Water. The trees are unco
thick, an' the water lies deep an' black under the
manse ; and there was Janet washin' the cla'es wi'
her coats kilted. She had her back to the minis-
ter, an' he, for his pairt, hardly kenned what he
was lookin' at. Syne she turned round, an'
shawed her face ; Mr. Soulis had the same cauld
grue as twice that day afore, an' it was borne in
upon him what folk said, that Janet was deid lang
syne, an' this was a bogle in her clay-cauld flesh.
He drew back a pickle and he scanned her nar-
rowly. She was tramp-trampin' in the cla'es,
croonin' to herseP ; and eh ! Gude guide us, but
178 THRAWN JANET.
it was a fearsome face. Whiles she sang louder,
but there was nae man born o' woman that could
tell the words o' her sang ; an' whiles she lookit
sidelang doun, but there was naething there for
her to look at. There gaed a scunner through
the flesh upon his banes ; and that was Heeven's
advertisement. But Mr. Soulis just blamed him-
seF, he said, to think sae ill of a puir auld afflicted
wife that hadnae a freend forby himseP ; an' he
put up a bit prayer for him an' her, an' drank a
little caller water, for his heart rose again' the
meat, an' gaed up to his naked bed in the gloam-
That was a nicht that has never been forgotten
in Ba'weary, the nicht o' theseeventeenthof August,
seventeen hun'er' an' twal'. It had been het afore,
as I hae said, but that nicht it was hetter than
ever. The sun gaed doun amang unco-lookin'
clouds ; it fell as mirk as the pit ; no a star, no a
breath o' wund ; ye couldnae see your han' afore