pearance I would see, but the little Lawrie soul in you."
And John chanted: "Oh! ain't we a wonderful
Then they made Jamie tell of his life in Thrigsby
and the riches and power of it, and he described An-
drew Keith's great mansion, and the great mansion the
Greigs had, and the carriages and servants, and what
the Mayor looked like, and how enormous the warehouse
was; and he made them roar with laughter with tales
of Mr. Leslie diving under the table after crumbs and
of Mr. Wilcox reciting in the office, and the clerks
running and scurrying when Andrew Keith sent for
them or came through the rooms.
"And d'ye have to be just one with them?" asked
"Aye," said Jamie. "It takes a bit to laugh at their
jokes, but you get used to that."
"I would never laugh if I were not amused," said
And at last the subject of Maggie's wig cropped up.
Jamie wished to know if it was to be very costly. "Not,"
said his mother, "so costly as we thought it was going
to be." Maggie looked nervous and ashamed, and Tom
stole a glance round to the door. "Ye know," he said,
"Tibby had a magnificent head of hair and near Maggie's
colour." Maggie burst into tears: Mrs. Lawrie cried:
"Tom!" and Jamie thrust his hands into his pockets
and set his chin as he always did when his emotions
baffled him. He could not restrain himself. "I'm
danged!" he roared: "I'm danged if you aren't the
86 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
meanest lot!" '"Jamie!" cried his mother, and Maggie
wept and through her sobs stammered out : "Oh,
Jamie! and Tibby said you were such a fine figure of a
THE DESCENT UPON THRIGSBY
HALF the holiday was spent in living down that ex-
plosion: the other half in preparing for the jour-
ney of family and possessions by road and rail. For
three days the old policy of silence was adopted. Tibby
had her meals with the family and Jamie, ignored by the
rest, would address his few remarks to her, receiving
only "Yes" and "No" for answer. No one else spoke
to Tibby, who would keep her eyes fixed on Margaret's
face in the pathetic effort to anticipate her desires. It
was easy to see that she was frightened, and she was
very uneasy when at last the silence was broken and
Tom took to levelling heavy sarcasms at his brother,
whom he called "the philosopher." "Isn't it called
ethics, the philosophy of conduct ?" "It is." "There'll
be more talk of that in Edinburgh than in Thrigsby, I'm
thinking." "No doubt." "Ye'll like us better when
we've all been dipped in Thrigsby." "Dipped," retorted
Jamie, "is the word, for ye're all sheep." '"So!" cried
Tom in a white fury, "it's sheep now ! It was pigs lang
syne." Then Margaret asserted her authority: "Tom,
be silent." And Jamie slipped away.
He would spend his days with the dominie or going
from house to house, and shop to office, hunting up old
acquaintances and schoolmates, or he would walk out
88 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
into the country or along the shore with the happy com-
pany of his budding thoughts. One day he walked out to
the kirk which had been his father's and brooded among
the graves of the Keiths; and he saw Doctor MThail's
house standing empty and the death of that man
seemed to bring home to him his responsibility for him-
self, for his own life. He visited his Uncle Shiel and they
talked about the Doctor, what a man he had been, what a
rich character, filling the whole countryside with his
strong generosity. "No wonder," said Uncle Shiel, "the
women loved him, for he could make the heart in me as
soft as the heart of a woman, and I'm tough. And how
did you find Andrew?" "That," said Jamie, "is what I
didn't find. There was the outside of the man, his
great house and his business, but the man himself "
Uncle Shiel chuckled: "He was the eldest of us and
mysterious and secret. Losh! I used to go in greater
awe of him than of my father, and your mother was
just his slave. I'm only surprised he has not done bet-
ter, for he could make almost any man take him for a
wonder. But perhaps the English are not so easily de-
ceived." -"The English," replied Jamie, "seem to like
a man who can laugh." "Deed then," said Uncle Shiel,
" 'tis a pity it was not me went among them and not An-
drew. Remember, laddie, that when you're weary of
riches and all that ye can come to your Uncle Shiel and
snare a rabbit and tickle trout as you used to do." "I
might do worse," mused Jamie, "than come to live on
the farm." "That would not suit your mother. She's
ay girding at me for being and staying a humble man."
It was growing late and Jamie had to put his best leg
formost to reach home before dark. There was a mist
and the sun set red over the hills. A mile or so out of
the town by a bridge over a burn he met Tibby. She
THE DESCENT UPON THRIGSBY 89
had seen him coming, turned and walked swiftly away.
He caught up with her crying :
"Tibby! Tibby M'Phail!"
She turned on him and said:
"My name's Tibby. I have no other."
"I've been seeing the Doctor's house to-day."
"He was the best man that ever lived."
"So my Uncle Shiel was saying. Have you been walk-
"Do you always walk this way?"
"I can guess why."
She made no answer, only walked a little quicker.
"I hope you'll be happy with us, Tibby. Eh! But
you're a grand walker!"
"I hope I know my duty, Mr. James, wherever I go."
"But I meant really happy."
She stopped and said: "Will you walk on, Mr.
He stood still and tried in vain to catch her glance.
"If I've said anything to hurt you, I'm sorry. I've
been sorry ever since "
"Let me be, Mr. James, and walk on, please.
"Ah! What have they done to you now?"
"Please, please I'll run I'll run away if you will not
leave me be." And tears began to flow down her cheeks.
"You poor child !" cried Jamie and he took her in his
arms and kissed her, tenderly, pityingly on the lips. She
was passive, accepted the caress, the tenderness, the pity,
and when he loosed her stood with the tears still flowing.
She would neither move nor speak. He could say noth-
ing and at last he swept his hat from his head, bowed
90 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
low and walked away, beginning to understand why
she must be left alone and to feel ashamed of his strained
relations with his family. She must be left alone with
her grief and nothing must break in upon it. "If my
father had lived!" thought Jamie. "The Doctor loved
him, and mother too. He was friends with mother."
And he found that all his rancour had vanished. He
walked briskly home. In the street at the entrance to
the town he found a horseshoe. Dandling this in his
hand, he burst in on his mother crying: "Here's luck,
mother. We'll hang it over the door at the new house."
"Over the door?" said she. "Why, Thrigsby'll think
us daft." "They're not such gossips as they are here.
Thrigsby's not a place where everybody knows every-
body. However, if you'd not have it over the door
I'll give it to Maggie and she shall hang it over her bed,
to bring a handsome husband and great. riches." "Poor
Maggie!" sighed Margaret. "She won't have much
thought of husbands with that head of hers." "I'm
sorry I was hasty about that." "Ah! Jamie, that temper
of yours will be your ruin. I was hoping it would be
gone by you're a grown man." He protested : "But it
wasn't the same, mother. It was only that I cannot thole
injustice." "And that makes you unjust," said she.
Her logic startled and shocked him: "Dod, mother,"
he said. "You are a one to turn a man back on him-
self. "Aye," said Margaret calmly, pulling back the
widow's bands at her wrists, "and why for not?" Her
face, her whole manner was pugnacious and Jamie, smil-
ing down at her, muttered : "You'd make a bonny
fighter, mother." "The Lord be thanked," said Mar-
garet, "I have held my own."
Indeed she looked indomitable with her wide thin-
lipped mouth, her almost startled-looking alert eyes, her
THE DESCENT UPON THRIGSBY 91
blunt nose wide at the nostrils, her iron-grey hair parted
and neatly smoothed down under her mutch. Jamie
could remember her riding miles in the rain to fetch
a remote shepherd, who had become lax, to the kirk, and
he thought: "She'll be lost in Thrigsby." He said
aloud : "Well, I hope you'll be pleased with us, mother."
"Indeed," she said, "I will," and that seemed to settle
it. There were to be no two ways about it. Jamie felt
constrained to prepare her for any possible disappoint-
ment and, after giving her time to roll her resolution
round her tongue, he said: "You'll be surprised how
quietly things are in Thrigsby. You'll think the English
lazy, as I did." "All the more reasons for my sons to
work. It was work raised the Keiths up. The first
that went worked often with their own hands. My
Aunt Ann did, at the weaving, with her own hands,
though she would never have stooped to such a thing
here in Scotland where she was known." "It's got be-
yond hands now," said Jamie. "Aye," returned she.
"It's got to brains now, and brains you have." -" As to
that," interrupted Jamie, "I'm not so certain. I often
feel as if my brains had holes in them like a cullender."
"Aye," said Margaret, "it's a pity that Mary has the
best brains of the family, but she has small sense."
"Oh, well," said Jamie. "We are what we are and we
must hold together."
So the peace was made. Tom discarded his heavy
sarcasms and at meals even Tibby was drawn into the
conversation and partook of the general excitement,
which even in herself Margaret could not altogether sub-
due, though every night, by way of reminding her chil-
dren that they were in the Lord's hands, she read whole
chapters from the Old Testament and improvised elo-
92 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
quent prayers for her children in turn, with a little one
thrown in at the end for Tibby.
The wee house was slowly dismantled and the fur-
niture packed up, all except the beds and the kitchen
table sent away, and then into its emptiness the minister
was brought to call down a blessing upon its departing
inmates. In Thrigsby Jamie had never felt so near God
as he did in Scotland and the minister's miserable in-
timacy was at first rather a shock to him, but he quickly
slid back into the condition of his youth when at every
fervent mention of the wrath of the Deity he shivered
and quailed internally and felt that the divine Eye,
Cyclopean, was upon him: and when the minister lifted
up his voice and brayed of the perils and snares and dan-
gers lying in wait for the voyagers then he felt that it
was indeed a sin to break up the wee house and he
thought that perhaps they would have done better to
hold by their honest poverty in their native land than
to pursue the success of their kinsfolk amongst foreign-
ers. He sighed when the last Amen went ringing
through the house and almost laughed when Tom, with
his eye on the minister, got in another Amen as the rest
were rising from their knees. "Give the minister a drop
of whisky, Tom," said Margaret. "Nae, thank you!
Nae, thank you," said the minister. "Just to drink our
healths," protested Margaret. "A weel!" He took his
drop. "God's blessing on the house and on the new
house and may ye be appreciated as ye have been here,
Mrs. Lawrie." "I have been only too aware of my
shortcomings," said Margaret. "Might we all be that,"
responded the minister, reaching out for his hat. He
shook hands all round : "Ye'll be good God-fearing lads
and a credit to your mother and Scotland." "God bless
Scotland," thought Jamie, and "That I will," said Tom.
THE DESCENT UPON THRIGSBY 93
Thus the journey was consecrated and on the mor-
row they all drove in the carrier's cart across the border
over to Carlisle. It was a sweet, sad September day with
a soft light on the Cumberland hills as they drove to-
wards them. "Helvellyn, Scawfell and Skiddaw," said
Jamie, "one for Tom and one for John and one for me.
The three highest points in England." "That's right,
Jamie," said his mother. "Aim at the highest." "Aye,"
thought he, "a sight higher than she knows." He turned
to Tibby: '"This is England, Tibby. How do you like
it?" "I see no difference yet," she replied and at that
they all laughed and she, thinking they were laughing at
her, withdrew into herself and could not be induced to
say another word.
John had marked out a little hog-backed hill. "I'm
thinking," he said, "that yon'll be high enough for me,
yet awhile." "It was in yon hills," said Tom, "that
Mary used to say she would one day have her house. It
was reading Wordsworth made her say that. Her head's
turned with Goethe now, so maybe it's Germany."
"Good laud !" cried Jamie, exasperated with the sneer in
his brother's voice. "What's poetry to do .with where
you live or how? 'Tis the living breath of a man and as
free as air." "Don't wrangle, boys," said Margaret,
"and, Jamie, the Bible is poetry enough for any maa es-
pecially a minister's son." Jamie treasured that saying.
It marked for him the point at which some queer essence
in himself left her and would not be subdued in his affec-
tion for her.
At Carlisle they had some hours to wait for the train.
They visited the castle and the cathedral and then waited
in the station sitting by their furniture which had arrived
safely and was piled up on the platform. They sat for
nearly an hour until the train came in. None but Jamie
94 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
had seen such a thing before though all had seen pictures
of locomotives. They gaped and Maggie screamed
through the roar and clatter of the engine : "Oh ! Jamie !
I've left the horseshoe with John Carrier. Oh ! I'm that
sorry ! Oh ! our luck will be out !" "Havers !" said Tom.
"Speak for yourself. My luck's in and I'll not be losing
it with any bit of old iron." 'But Tibby was discovered
to have a parcel in her lap and in it was the horseshoe.
Maggie clutched it from her and never again relin-
Jamie and Tom waited to see every piece of furniture
and every box put on the train and then they climbed up
into the bare hutch which was a third-class compartment.
They had oatcake, scones, cheese, cold porridge and
whisky with them and had several meals to while away
the long hours during which they jogged on through the
closing day. They were excited to see the tall chimneys
and the gear of the collieries and when they stopped at
Wigan Margaret said : "It was near here that the Keiths
had their first mill." "I wish," said Tom, "I had been
the first. I would by now be the richest man in Lan-
cashire." 'And Jamie saw Tibby smile.
It was dark when they reached Thrigsby, near mid-
night when they entered 21 Murray Street, which Andrew
had ordered Mr. Leslie to take for them. Maggie had
been saying during the last stages of the journey : "Will
Uncle Andrew send his carriage for us?" "I've no doubt
he will," was Margaret's reply. But there was no car-
riage and no one to meet them. Only at the new house
there were fires lit and the beds were put to air and in
Margaret's room were dahlias in a glass jar. Jamie
guessed that Mrs. Leslie had put them there, but he said
nothing when his mother said how nice it was of Andrew
to send them. She was put out when she discovered
THE DESCENT UPON THRIGSBY 95
that the house was one of a row of eight and was over-
looked back and front. "I hope," she said, "I hope we
shall have nice neighbours. But your uncle is sure to
have inquired into that." "You need not know them,"
said Jamie, sitting on her bed after she had slipped into
it. "But I would like," she said, "at least to know all
about them." He remembered then that though he had
lived above a year with the Leslies he knew almost noth-
ing about the people who lived on either side of them.
The family adventure seemed to him then rather forlorn,
but he put a brave face on it and said : "Trust the Law-
ries to make their mark, mother." She replied, turning
her face to the wall, "I put my trust in the Lord." Jamie
realised that she was childishly disappointed and suddenly
he felt immeasurably older than she, and more responsible
for her even than for poor Maggie.
IT was some days before Andrew gave any sign and
then he wrote a stiff little note of welcome saying
that he would give himself the pleasure of calling on the
following Saturday afternoon. Tom and John were hard
at it making the house ready against his coming and in
the evenings Jamie took his coat off and walked about
with a hammer in his hand and nails between his teeth.
The house was roomy, large enough to provide a separate
bedroom for each member of the family and an attic for
Tibby. She had no possessions and was very proud and
pleased when Jamie gave her two pictures to hang on her
walls; more than that he hung them for her himself. As
in Scotland they had had only one living-room there
was hardly any furniture for the parlour. In the dining-
room the furniture was arranged exactly as it had been
in the old house. The portrait of the Reverend T. Law-
rie was hung above the mantelpiece and the family Bible
was placed in the window. In this room also the books
of the family were shelved, except for Tom's which he
insisted on having in his bedroom.
On the Saturday Andrew arrived in his carriage and
pair, and the neighbours' windows were crowded with
faces to look at him. Jamie received him and presented
"my brother, Tom" and "my brother, John." Maggie
MAKING PLANS 97
was overcome with shyness and refused to appear. She
was afraid of disgracing the family with her head, though
her wig was almost a masterpiece and only the closest
scrutiny could detect it. Margaret was upstairs com-
posing her nerves and her thoughts, for she meant to
have it out with Andrew and had given her sons a hint
that they must disappear. She sailed in presently just
when Andrew's grunts and snorts had reduced even Tom,
who in his desire to make an impression had maintained
conversation with an ingenuity and resource that to Jamie
seemed nothing short of miraculous. Planting herself in
front of her brother, she forced him to rise and kiss her.
He did so awkwardly and grunted as he sank into his
chair again: '"Well, Maggie," he said, "you're lucky
with your three fine sons." "Aye," she said, "they're
Keiths as well as Lawries." Andrew pointed to Tom:
"That's the Keith," he said and Tom gave a feeble
little grunt in imitation of his uncle. "You like your
house?" asked Andrew. "It's a bigger house than I had
when I first started housekeeping." "But you had no
family, Andrew," said Margaret." "I have no family
now," replied Andrew, "and yet I have a bigger house
than the Greigs." "Ah!" said Jamie, "but that is for
your position." 'Andrew quelled him with a look: "It
is because I like a big house," he said. And Jamie almost
pointedly left the room.
John followed him in a moment. Andrew called Tom
as he moved and said to him :
"So you're to come to my office?"
"Yes indeed, Uncle."
"Well, we'll see what room can be made for you, and
then you must make room for yourself, eh ?"
"Oh, yes, Uncle. Is there any book on the trade I
98 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
"There is my own book."
"Could I read that?"
"I'll send you a copy with my autograph."
"Oh, thank you, Uncle!"
Tom thought it time to retire on that and went for
a walk to ease his jubilation. When he had gone, Andrew
said : "You've done well, Margaret, though you would
have no help from us." "It has been hard," said she,
"but I would do the same again. I'm not asking help
now. I've brought up my sons and I'm offering them
to the family." Andrew gave something that sounded
like a chuckle, a cluck in his throat : "There's two sides
to a bargain. They've got to prove themselves. We can
get clerks here as plentiful as blackberries." "They'll
make their way with or without you," chimed Margaret,
settling her hands in her lap. "But I would prefer it to
be with you to keep them in the family though their name
is Lawrie." "They shall have their start," said Andrew.
"Jamie shall go now to the mills. He might make a good
manager. Tom shall begin under my own confidential
clerk. And for the boy he'll be the better of another
year's schooling. There's a good Grammar School here,
good and cheap. His brothers will easily be able to af-
ford his fees." '"I'm much obliged to you, Andrew."
"Oh, I'm brotherly, brotherly." So saying, he rose,
kissed her and walked out, she calling to John to take his
uncle to his carriage. John did so. Andrew extended
his fingers. John did likewise and their fingers crossed
like swords. "Gee," said John as he walked up the path
after the carriage had driven off: "I've done for my-
sel'." He had, and was glad of it.
He returned to Jamie and said : "Well, he's a disap-
pointment." "What did you expect?" asked Jamie.
"Something grand and lordly. You were grand and
MAKING PLANS 99
lordly when you came back and I thought you must hae
got it from him." "Oh ! Johnny, Johnny, a lordly man
must have a soul." "I could see he made you miserable
as soon as he arrived. But didn't our Tom make up to
him fine ? Our Tom'll have the best of him yet."
When Tom returned Margaret informed her sons of
the destinies marked out for them, and John only ex-
pressed rebellion: "School!" he cried. "Have I come
all these miles to go to school again?" "You're young
yet," answered Margaret, "and it's a good school. "-
"But I'll be living on you and my brothers!" cried John,
unable to express or indeed to understand his real griev-
ance, which was that he had expected to walk out of the
railway station into manhood. "You must not be un-
grateful. It is your uncle's wish, and after all you have
me to thank that you are not now in an English charity
school with yellow legs and a round blue bonnet like
Edward VI." "Very well, mother, but I will not learn
the Greek and if they try to put me to the mathematics
I'll turn on my doll-face. They won't do much with
that." "Don't be a young fool," chimed in Tom heavily.
"You'll have to learn what the others learn." But John
was not to be squashed : "Jamie's eldest. If I do what
anybody tells me it'll be Jamie shall tell it." "It's school
for a while, anyhow," said Jamie and John bowed to
Both Margaret and Tom kept silent as to Tom's future.
Margaret told Jamie how his uncle had said he would
one day be a manager. Jamie was not elated at the pro-
posal. "The mills are at Hyde Bridge. If I was a man-
ager I would have to live there. It's a dark hole. I
won't relish going out there by train every morning
neither. I'll have to be up early and back late." "But
you'll have a good practical knowledge," said Tom. "You
ioo THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
might even invent some new bit of machinery or a new
process would make your fortune or at least put the firm
under an obligation to you. That's how partners are
made. It's easy to see that Uncle knows how quick you
are, the way he moves you about." Jamie smiled :
"That's one way of looking at it and I suppose we can't
have things altogether to our liking." But he was dis-
appointed and hurt. He had been buoying himself up
with the hope that on his return his uncle would send
for him and, after his long probation, open up some defi-
nite prospect before him. He could not away with the
feeling that in being sent to Hyde Bridge he was shelved.
He had once or twice been to the mills and was left with
the strong impression that the work there was on a dif-
ferent plane. The men in that little office were of a dif-
ferent class. The brains of the concern were in Thrigsby.
The mill was only a machine. The idea of monotonous
day by day production repelled him. "The manager of
a mill," said Tom, "would get a fine salary."- "There's
more than salaries to be thought of," replied Jamie. "At
least that's how it seems to me. If I'm Andrew Keith's
nephew I'm not going to be his employee. My blood's
his and I back my blood wi' my brains for to help him
in his work." "Ou aye," retorted Tom, "but the busi-
ness is his and he has a say in that. Till you're as rich
as he is you're not as good, and fine airs are out of place."
"I measure no man by his purse, least of all my kins-
man," cried Jamie. "It's early days," said Tom, "to
talk of measuring men. You wait until they let ye.
That'll be your job when you're a manager." "At Hyde
Bridge," said Jamie relapsing into gloom.
Margaret laughed at them both. "It's soon to be
putting old heads on your young shoulders. Who's to
tell what will happen? It is all in the Lord's hands.