MAKING PLANS 101
And by the way what church did you attend? Presby-
terian, I hope." '"There's not a Presbyterian church
within three miles, but I went to the English church.
S. James the Less I liked the best; but S. John's is the
nearest. Mr. Leslie is churchwarden at S. James."
"Very well then, we will try S. James. Have they free
seats?" "A few." "I'll stick to the Scots Kirk," said
Tom, "if I have to walk ten miles."
On the Sunday morning accordingly he walked three
miles there and three miles back, with a good stiff dose
of his native religion in the interval. Margaret, James,
John and Maggie went to S. James the Less and there
met the Leslies. Mrs. Leslie fluttered round Margaret
and told her how happy she had been to have her big
handsome son with her, and Peter, turning himself for
the moment into the spokesman of the Anglo- Scots com-
munity, delivered a little speech of welcome. Selina
meanwhile made herself very pleasant to Maggie and
tried in vain to draw her out of her shyness. Poor Mag-
gie had been very upset by the Anglican service, which
had seemed to her trivial and perfunctory. Her great-
est pleasure in life had been the Sabbath when she could
quake before the Lord and imagine that at any moment
the earth might open and swallow her up for her exceed-
ing wickedness. The English performance had to her
been hardly more exciting than an afternoon call. And
she was more than a little inclined to regard Selina as
frivolous, if not improper, because she was so gaily
dressed. Selina knew that Jamie had returned and had
got herself up in her best and brightest, but, with her
eye on Margaret, hardly permitted herself to smile at
him. John stared at her and Tom, who had come to
meet them, stood dourly looking on at the group of Les-
lies and Lawries blocking the pathway for the crowd of
102 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
stovepipe-hatted gentlemen and full-skirted ladies as they
came streaming out of church "for all the world,"
thought Tom, who possessed an inward wit of his own,
"like the animals coming out of the Ark." Not such a
bad simile either, for it was one of those genuine Thrigs-
by days when air and earth seem to be saturated with
water, dirty water at that, and its pale inhabitants have
the wan vacant stare of fish in an aquarium, with some-
thing also of their odd alacrity. Mr. Leslie knew almost
everybody and had continually to be taking off his hat.
"He's like a pump," thought Tom. Very stiff and
straight was Peter Leslie in his Sunday broadcloth and
he had the air of saying to all the congregation : "I am
talking to these people. They are to be known." And
indeed when at last the Lawries and the Leslies parted
Mrs. Lawrie was the object of a friendly interest. Tom,
lagging, heard whispers: "Scotch! Yes. Related to
Keith Bros. & Stevenson." '"Really?" "Those boys are
lucky, but the Scotch do always fall on their feet."
"The girl would be pretty if it weren't for something
rigid about her." "Proud? Oh, well, / should be proud
if I had three sons like that. The eldest has such dignity,
hasn't he?" "They don't look at me," thought Tom, and
his eyes followed Jamie's tall figure. "Oh, the moudie-
warps ! I don't wonder Uncle Andrew's rich."
Outside the church gate Selina managed to catch Jamie
and with her prettiest smile she asked Mrs. Lawrie if he
might accompany her home. She gave Jamie her Prayer
Book to hold. It contained a note which he extracted and
thrust into his waistcoat pocket. That also did not escape
Tom and his thoughts coincided with his brother's:-
"Aye, she'll do for a manager's wife." The thought
pleased Tom but not Jamie who was set in revolt by it,
both against Selina and his apparent destiny. "I'm
MAKING PLANS 103
hanged if I'll be a manager," he said to himself. "And
have done with this feckless philandering. I am not
nor will I be in love." This resolution made him all the
more polite to Selina who found him more attractive
than ever since she had seen how in church he had drawn
attention to himself. '"Did you have a pleasant holi-
day, Mr. Lawrie?" she asked. "It was excited and dis-
turbing," replied Jamie, "but I was glad to see Scotland
again." '"Is it very beautibul?" "So beautiful that no
one can describe it." She smiled: "Did you did you
keep your promise ?" Jamie turned cold with fear. She
was dragging him back into the foolish past. "I I did
not," he stammered. There were two girls walking up the
street in front of them. He was overcome by the absurdity
of their outline : little stiff bodies rising out of a semicircle
of draperies. Love and that? He became suddenly
self-conscious and aware of his own incongruity, of the
wild free impulse in his own heart, here in the wet, dull,
greasy street. He could not bear it. He plucked the
note out of his waistcoat, slipped it back into the Prayer
Book, thrust that into Selina's hands, raised his hat and
bolted. When he was out of sight he stopped. "Losh !"
he said, "what must she think of me !"
He was crest-fallen and ashamed when he reached
home. He had a miserable afternoon, for a number of
ladies called and he was enraged to see their eyes taking
in the furniture of the dining-room and his mother's rai-
ment and Maggie's wig. ''"'Stare on! Stare on!" he
raged. "We're like any other folk. Aye, that's my father
over the chimney-piece and he was a good man though
he was never in any city but Edinburgh." "Yes," he
heard his mother's voice saying, "yes, I think we are
going to like Thrigsby, though we are hardly strangers
to it for we have had relations here for generations now."
104 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
Or Tom booming: "A man's place is in the city now.
Only a clod would till the soil." (O ! Uncle Shiel ! Uncle
Shiel!) And the women's tongues were as busy as their
eyes. They told Margaret where to get the best cakes,
the best clothes, the best coffee, the best wine, the best
shoes. They recommended butchers, bakers and milk-
men. Why should they not ? Perhaps even Jamie would
not have minded if he had not made such a fool of him-
self with Selina. Margaret was happy and contented.
She was led on to talk of her husband and her long
widowhood, though not of her poverty, that was for
ever interred. And Tom induced the ladies to talk of
their husbands so that he might gauge what manner of
society they had come among clerks, managers, munic-
ipal servants. '"They'll do for a while," he thought.
Jamie was increasingly miserable until the ladies had
gone. He hated himself for his reserve and his inability
to break it down. All that evening he spent writing to
his sister Mary with whom he had begun a regular corre-
A LETTER FROM EDINBURGH
MARY was a born letter-writer. She could be frank,
intimate and charming on paper as she could not
be in actual relations in which she always acquiesced too
much in her disadvantages of short stature and plain
looks. She had two styles, both good, one official and
literary: this she used for her general family epistles:
the other easy, light and mocking which she used for her
letters to Jamie. They came not regularly but as the
spirit moved her, generally when she had got some new
light on the world as it shaped itself before her. Her big
brother, she knew, had need of her, and she was not
going to let distance deprive her of the happiness of
supplying it. His first weeks at the mill were desperate.
He thought he would never be able to go on with it, but
not a soul was allowed so much as a glimmer of the fury
that blew in him like a hot wind. He was parched and
cracked with it when there came a letter to say that she
too was a little, ever so little, unhappy.
"It was grand at first" (she wrote) "to be in the
streets where Sir Walter walked, to go past the house
where he used to visit Marjorie Fleming. It was fine
to meet people who had seen Sir Walter and some other
(old) people who remembered poor Burns. But now Sir
106 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
Walter is a shadow and the little pride of the world fades
before its great unhappiness. Who can walk through
the streets of this great city unmoved by the hopeless
misery and the drunkenness caused by the misery? You
would think that the great rock standing there above the
city would make for strength, but I think sometimes that
no idea, no symbol, has any power against the effect
human beings have on each other. That alarms and sad-
dens me. If we could only realise it and know some-
thing about it. But, dearie me, I'm being encouraging!
I should rather talk of my pleasure and I would but that
it lies all among thinking men, and is therefore just a little
rarefied. You would be surprised at the amount of
thinking that goes on in this town, the better parts of
it, that is. It is as common as drunkennees in the lower
quarters! O! a deal o' thinking! Uncle Andrew, no
not the Queen of England couldn't buy it. It is a
natural force like a current of air or a whirlpool and I,
your wee sister, am caught up in it. There's a thing,
though you may not know it, called the chemistry of the
mind. It is going to do a deal for the world without
interfering with religion. Scotland, little though we sus-
pected it in the Glen Kens, is the centre of the world's
thought. O ! but we have great men here. There have
not been greater since the Frenchmen of Paris and we too
are to have our Encyclopaedia. England must and shall
be educated. Cheap too! I say we because I am to be
in it. Just as Diderot made his Encyclopaedia out of an
English book so we are to make ours out of a German
one. And I am learning German. Why not? There
are Germans on the throne. It is a thoroughly respect-
able language and, they tell me, has a great literature.
There are other poets beside our Shelley and our Words-
worth and our little Keats. But poetry they tell me
A LETTER FROM EDINBURGH 107
is mere intuition. All the building is done by philoso-
phers. I don't profess to understand this yet and when
I complain, as I do sometimes, B. laughs at me and asks
how many people understand Newton and if I know
where the world would be without him. Then I learn
that it is something terribly Mathematical and, as you
know, the Lawries never were any good at arithmetic.
It is very exhilarating but it makes the ordinary world
almost intolerable and, after all, as millions of people
live in the ordinary world it can't be so very bad, can
it? Shall we call it so-so? Between the two I find
and it is such a comfort my own dear brother. I like to
think of him in the ordinary world though he is not and
never could be so-so. Indeed, who can ? And yet so-so
describes the sum of it all. England seems very remote.
There are thinking minds there too but all separate and
isolated. Here there is a school, another Athens. Alas !
I know now that I shall never be a poetess. Scotland
is not to have, this time, her Sappho. But you, I think,
could write. Your descriptions of Thrigsby are sombre
but not depressing. I suppose, as you say, that civilisa-
tion is marching through its streets, though I think you
are a little hard when you say you wish it would knock
some of them down. Surely the poor people regard
themselves as better off in them or they would not go
there. You know our philosophers will not hear of
anything that goes against common-sense unless it can
be mathematically proved like the earth going round
the sun, which is philosophy's one great smack in the
eye for the So-soishness of things. Short of proof, how-
ever, we have no right to interfere, however indignant
we may be. You will have had all my eloquent descrip-
tions of the beauties of Edinburgh in my family letters.
In my letters to you I like to describe only the Inside of
io8 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
Me, and I want in your letters the Inside of You at least
more than just peeps in your account of things generally
I am glad Mother is so happy and so settled with
plenty of people to make a fuss of her. She would get
that anywhere. Tom never writes to me. John's letters
are amusing, but yours are You and I feel you growing
into a wonderful beautiful MAN which I and the world
would far rather have than all the philosophers that ever
was. Rare ! Only the world and women know how rare,
and perhaps only the plain women really know. Write
She had the effect of bracing Jamie up so that he could
more easily bear the weight of circumstance and look
about him with more kindliness. He was incapable of
understanding many of the ideas with which she played
and was left oddly jealous of philosophers in general and
the shadowy figure which he divined behind her letters,
though whether it was Professor B. or R. W. or K. L.
he did not know. He inclined to think it must be Profes-
sor B. and Mary's growing insistence on her plainness
made him furious with him for a conceited dolt. Mary,
of all of them, ought not to be unhappy. She must not
be. His eagerness to help her, if she should need help,
set him working with keenness and vigour so that he
was able almost to conquer his detestation of the mills.
He told himself that it was absurd and unreasonable,
that without the mills there would be no business, but he
hated the long rooms with the machines clattering and
the threads dancing, the shuttles bobbing, and the rows
of women standing there for hours at a stretch, to gain
so little. He was glad to escape in the evening and to
read or write to Mary or, if it was his turn, to play
backgammon with his mother. (He and Tom took it
A LETTER FROM EDINBURGH 109
in turn week by week.) For many months after their
arrival their existence was quiet, monotonous, unevent-
ful, happy and solid. Jamie's imaginative and emotional
life was away with Mary in Edinburgh.
JOHN ASTONISHES THE FAMILY
SO absorbed was Jamie in his effortless acquiescence
in this regular existence that he became rather absent-
minded and hardly noticed what was happening around
him. John was there and his mother was there and Tom
was there and of their goings out and comings in he
knew nothing at all. Tibby woke him up in the morn-
ing and had his breakfast ready. This he gulped down
and then rushed off to catch the train before the others
were stirring. John had home work to do in the eve-
nings and Tom would often bring a ledger back with
him and sit at work on it. Margaret had the tale of the
day's doings but she was never able to make it interest-
ing. It was almost as though the world outside Keith
and Lawrie could not justify its existence and because
it made no apparent effort to do so she bore a grudge
against it. She was aggressive in talking even of her
So little did Jamie notice what was happening that
it was a week or so after the event before he noticed that
Tibby no longer had her meals with them. He did not
comment on her absence but one night, having occasion
to go into the kitchen, he said : "Why do you take your
meals alone, Tibby?" "It was my wish. It was not
. . ." "But I don't wish you to be a servant." "I
JOHN ASTONISHES THE FAMILY 111
am a servant, Jamie. Who does the work of the house
but me?" "But it doesn't seem right." "It is right.
I asked for wages." "I'm sorry you did that. You
had only to ask for any money you need." "Indeed I
would not ask. And it is not the same here as it was at
home." "How is it different?" "It is different. I'm
older for one thing and you are getting on so nicely, you
and Mr. Tom. You'll take your position in the world
and you can't have a half-and-half in the house." "Your
father and my father were friends." "Aye," she said
with her queer wistful humour, "but your mother and
my mother were not." That finished the argument.
"For your father's sake," said Jamie, "I can't altogether
acquiesce in that. You shall be a servant if you insist on
it, but you shall be a friend to me." "I will that."
"Then why do you call me Jamie and my brother Mr.
Tom?" 'Tibby smiled : "He is Mr. Tom." "How much
are they paying you?" "Six shillings a week." " 'Tis
little." "It's enough. I've no face to be vain of or to
spend money on. I can save." "Indeed," said Jamie.
"I think you in Thrigsby are the most extraordinary of
all." "Watch out for yourself, Jamie," said she with
a strange oracular gesture, so that her words seemed
almost a warning or a prophecy.
She had shaken Jamie out of his musing so that he
was prepared for the disturbance which soon came upon
the household. One night he came home from Hyde
Bridge, like Tom, with a ledger. He was not altogether
satisfied with the way the books were kept and he dis-
liked the manager whose chief assistant he had become,
mainly, as he knew, through the man's obsequiousness and
desire to flatter him as a nephew of the head of the firm.
"How you two boys do work!" sighed Margaret,
thinking she was not going to have her game of back-
112 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
gammon. '"We'll have to work a deal harder before
we've done, the way competition is springing up on all
sides. I'm thinking Uncle Andrew must have had an
easy time of it," said Tom. "Oh, no," protested Mar-
garet. "He had his hard work too."
John had come home without books. "No work to-
night?" said his mother. "You must learn to work too.
Look at your brothers."
"I'll work all right," said John. "I've left school."
He was very nervous and in his effort to put a bold
front on it became rather impudent in tone.
"Left school?" cried Tom.
"Leastways I'm no' going back. I've found a post
and I begin on Monday."
"The devil you do," said Tom. "And where? Has
Uncle Andrew made you a buyer?"
"Uncle Andrew's not the only door- 1 can knock on.
I'm going to Murdoch's the ironmongery for ten shillings
a week. Two of us is enough for Uncle Andrew's maw
and I'm not going to make a third."
"Maybe," sneered Tom, "you are thinking of getting
"I am not," snapped John. "When I do go with a
lassie 'twill be wi' a lady." Tom winced and John showed
pleasure at the hit, though neither Jamie nor Margaret
Jamie took the matter in hand : "But there's no rea-
son," he said, "why you should work yet awhile. You
should wait till Tom or I can help you." "That's the
reason," replied John, "that I want to, and if I can live
without help I will, so help me God." He was not at
all sure of his ground and, knowing his Jamie, trusted to
bluster. Tom, he saw, had retired hurt from the fray.
"I don't want to annoy Uncle Andrew," he said, "but he
JOHN ASTONISHES THE FAMILY 113
doesn't like me." "How can you say such a thing?"
protested Margaret. John was nettled and plunged : "If
you want it straight out," he said, "there is not room for
me and Tom in the same business. So it's Murdoch's
or America. I told you in the beginning that I would
not go to school, but I had not the courage then to look
out for myself. Now I've done it and if you don't like it
I can find somewhere else to live." "But you don't know
anything about Murdoch's, whether they are solvent, or
whether they are on the up or the down," suggested
Jamie. "Murdoch's is all right," said Tom. "John's
no fool." "I should think not," cried Margaret, out-
raged at the mere suggestion of such a thing in her family.
So John had his way, and Jamie, at heart rather pleased
with him, gave him a sovereign, and took him out to buy
him a new suit of clothes.
These declarations of independence excited him, and
made him envious that Tibby and John should both have
so clear an idea of their positions. His own seemed mud-
dled. When John said "I" he had a very definite notion
of what he meant, with none of the aggressiveness that
was often so distasteful in Tom. He was enraged at
his young brother's coolness and his already extensive
knowledge of Thrigsby and its ways. "I'm glad we came
here," said John. "There can't be another place in the
world like it, for getting on, I mean. Look at the way
it's growing." "In a way," replied his brother, "that
seems to me to make it more difficult if you haven't a
solid position in the beginning. That is what makes me
anxious about you." "Oh ! I'll be all right," said John.
"Never fear. I wouldn't be stopped from getting on not
by fifty uncles." "Queer you should have that dislike
of Uncle Andrew." '"Dod, I hated him at sight. He's
so like mother." That really shocked Jamie. "John!"
114 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
"And Tom." "Hush!" "He's not a bit like you.
Tom was always telling me what I should do and I won't
take it from him. Thrigsby isn't all Keith Bros. & Ste-
venson and Thrigsby 's a big place. I'll go my own way
even if it's only to sell matches in the street." "You
won't need to do that while we've a roof over our heads."
"No, but I tell you what, as soon as I can I shall live
in lodgings." "Mother won't like that." "Mother won't
like what I'm doing now." "Oh! she'll get over it."
"I'll be surprised if she does." "What's come over
you?" "I dunno: a sort of fright I think." "It seems
unnatural in a lad like you." "It's taken me weeks and
weeks to get over it." 'I'm glad to have had this talk
with you, Johnny. I feel I know you better." John took
his brother's arm and said : "You're a good old sort ;
and if it was going to the mill I think I wouldn't mind
being in the business." "Indeed? What is it you mind?"
"Well, it isn't Uncle Andrew and it isn't Tom. It's
the two together. I'd hate it worse'n school. Ooh ! I'm
glad I haven't got a father or I'd never have dared to
leave." "I believe I'm in loco parentis." "You're not a
bit like a father anyway."
Now Jamie began to feel uncomfortable, knowing that
his affections were running away with him, making him
take his colour from this young brother of his and see
things very nearly from his point of view. That was
pleasant but very much against his training which had
instilled into him that if he was to allow any point of
view but his own, it must be the Lord's and no other.
This had frequently landed him in awkward places and
aggravated in him that conflict between self-knowledge
and self-conceit in which so many Scotsmen spend their
miserable days. Feeling this conflict now strong in him,
Jamie took it to be an essential part of his character and
JOHN ASTONISHES THE FAMILY 115
not, as it was, a condition of the phase of development
through which, without disturbance from outside, he
was passing. Alarmed at himself, therefore, he fell back
on the Lord's point of view. From that John was seen
to be behaving abominably, flouting his duty and treat-
ing the respectable with disrespect. Though this aspect
was distressing it was easy and made Jamie feel that
if he chose to exert it, there was authority on his side.
However, John, innocently chattering on, plunged his
brother in even greater perturbation. "You should," he
said, "have a crack with Tibby. She's sized us all up.
You're to be a great man, Tom's to be a rich man, and
I'm to be a wanderer on the face of the earth." "Tibby
in the character of a wise woman is new to me," said
Jamie. John replied: "She is wise, at least, she is
queer, and I wouldn't be in Murdoch's now but for her."
"Did you talk it over with her?" "I did not, but it
was what she said."
Jamie's thoughts swung back to Tibby in her kitchen
insisting on the definition of her position by wages and
he felt vaguely envious of her and yet angry to be en-
vious. It was what he wanted himself, definition, and
he had but the most confused notion of his position with
regard to the persons immediately surrounding him, un-
less he fell back on the support of the Lord, when they
became clear but also reduced and remote. His affec-
tions would not have that and yet, without renouncing
the Lord, he could not have it otherwise. O! this was
too involved. He encouraged John in his chatter, and
in the funny little swagger which he was every moment
more patently assuming, and visited his resentment on
Tibby. If John came to grief through going into Mur-
doch's, it would be Tibby's fault. But of course John
would not come to grief. That fate was not for any
ii6 THREE SONS AND A MOTHER
Lawrie, or any Keith. They were out for the conquest
of England, though England might not know it, even
when conquered. That was the cleverness and the joke
of it. "I don't think you'll wander far, Johnny."
"Not if I can get my way, without/' '"What is your
way?" "I don't know yet, but I can imagine just get-
ting it and feeling fine." Jamie laughed: "I'm think-
ing there'll be some shocks in store for us." John gave
a whoop : "Doesn't this great city make you feel strong
and whirling?" They were passing down a street in