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Produced by Dagny; Emma Dudding; John Bickers




The Courting of T'nowhead's Bell J. M. Barrie
"The Heather Lintie" S. R. Crockett
A Doctor of the Old School Ian Maclaren
Wandering Willie's Tale Sir Walter Scott
The Glenmutchkin Railway Professor Aytoun
Thrawn Janet R. L. Stevenson


For two years it had been notorious in the square that Sam'l Dickie
was thinking of courting T'nowhead's Bell, and that if Little Sanders
Elshioner (which is the Thrums pronunciation of Alexander Alexander)
went in for her, he might prove a formidable rival. Sam'l was a weaver
in the tenements, and Sanders a coal-carter, whose trade-mark was a bell
on his horse's neck that told when coal was coming. Being something of
a public man, Sanders had not, perhaps, so high a social position as
Sam'l, but he had succeeded his father on the coal-cart, while the
weaver had already tried several trades. It had always been against
Sam'l, too, that once when the kirk was vacant he had advised the
selection of the third minister who preached for it on the ground that
it became expensive to pay a large number of candidates. The scandal
of the thing was hushed up, out of respect for his father, who was a
God-fearing man, but Sam'l was known by it in Lang Tammas's circle.
The coal-carter was called Little Sanders to distinguish him from his
father, who was not much more than half his size. He had grown up with
the name, and its inapplicability now came home to nobody. Sam'l's
mother had been more far-seeing than Sanders's. Her man had been called
Sammy all his life because it was the name he got as a boy, so when
their eldest son was born she spoke of him as Sam'l while still in the
cradle. The neighbours imitated her, and thus the young man had a better
start in life than had been granted to Sammy, his father.

It was Saturday evening - the night in the week when Auld Licht young men
fell in love. Sam'l Dickie, wearing a blue glengarry bonnet with a
red ball on the top, came to the door of the one-story house in the
tenements, and stood there wriggling, for he was in a suit of tweed for
the first time that week, and did not feel at one with them. When his
feeling of being a stranger to himself wore off, he looked up and down
the road, which straggles between houses and gardens, and then, picking
his way over the puddles, crossed to his father's hen-house and sat down
on it. He was now on his way to the square.

Eppie Fargus was sitting on an adjoining dyke knitting stockings, and
Sam'l looked at her for a time.

"Is't yersel', Eppie?" he said at last.

"It's a' that," said Eppie.

"Hoo's a' wi' ye?" asked Sam'l.

"We're juist aff an' on," replied Eppie, cautiously.

There was not much more to say, but as Sam'l sidled off the hen-house he
murmured politely, "Ay, ay." In another minute he would have been fairly
started, but Eppie resumed the conversation.

"Sam'l," she said, with a twinkle in her eye, "ye can tell Lisbeth
Fargus I'll likely be drappin' in on her aboot Mununday or Teisday."

Lisbeth was sister to Eppie, and wife of Tammas McQuhatty, better
known as T'nowhead, which was the name of his farm. She was thus Bell's

Sam'l leaned against the hen-house as if all his desire to depart had

"Hoo d' ye kin I'll be at the T'nowhead the nicht?" he asked, grinning
in anticipation.

"Ou, I'se warrant ye'll be after Bell," said Eppie.

"Am no sae sure o' that," said Sam'l, trying to leer. He was enjoying
himself now.

"Am no sure o' that," he repeated, for Eppie seemed lost in stitches.



"Ye'll be speerin' her sune noo, I dinna doot?"

This took Sam'l, who had only been courting Bell for a year or two, a
little aback.

"Hoo d' ye mean, Eppie?" he asked.

"Maybe ye'll do 't the nicht."

"Na, there's nae hurry," said Sam'l.

"Weel, we're a' coontin' on 't, Sam'l."

"Gae 'wa' wi' ye."

"What for no?"

"Gae 'wa' wi' ye," said Sam'l again.

"Bell's gei an' fond o' ye, Sam'l."

"Ay," said Sam'l.

"But am dootin' ye're a fell billy wi' the lasses."

"Ay, oh, I d'na kin; moderate, moderate," said Sam'l, in high delight.

"I saw ye," said Eppie, speaking with a wire in her mouth, "gaein' on
terr'ble wi' Mysy Haggart at the pump last Saturday."

"We was juist amoosin' oorsel's," said Sam'l.

"It'll be nae amoosement to Mysy," said Eppie, "gin ye brak her heart."

"Losh, Eppie," said Sam'l, "I didna think o' that."

"Ye maun kin weel, Sam'l, 'at there's mony a lass wid jump at ye."

"Ou, weel," said Sam'l, implying that a man must take these things as
they come.

"For ye're a dainty chield to look at, Sam'l."

"Do ye think so, Eppie? Ay, ay; oh, I d'na kin am onything by the

"Ye mayna be," said Eppie, "but lasses doesna do to be ower-partikler."

Sam'l resented this, and prepared to depart again.

"Ye'll no tell Bell that?" he asked, anxiously.

"Tell her what?"

"Aboot me an' Mysy."

"We'll see hoo ye behave yersel', Sam'l."

"No 'at I care, Eppie; ye can tell her gin ye like. I widna think twice
o' tellin' her mysel'."

"The Lord forgie ye for leein', Sam'l," said Eppie, as he disappeared
down Tammy Tosh's close. Here he came upon Henders Webster.

"Ye're late, Sam'l," said Henders.

"What for?"

"Ou, I was thinkin' ye wid be gaen the length o' T'nowhead the nicht,
an' I saw Sanders Elshioner makkin' 's wy there an 'oor syne."

"Did ye?" cried Sam'l, adding craftily, "but it's naething to me."

"Tod, lad," said Henders, "gin ye dinna buckle to, Sanders'll be
carryin' her off."

Sam'l flung back his head and passed on.

"Sam'l!" cried Henders after him.

"Ay," said Sam'l, wheeling round.

"Gie Bell a kiss frae me."

The full force of this joke struck neither all at once. Sam'l began to
smile at it as he turned down the school-wynd, and it came upon Henders
while he was in his garden feeding his ferret. Then he slapped his legs
gleefully, and explained the conceit to Will'um Byars, who went into the
house and thought it over.

There were twelve or twenty little groups of men in the square, which
was lit by a flare of oil suspended over a cadger's cart. Now and again
a staid young woman passed through the square with a basket on her
arm, and if she had lingered long enough to give them time, some of the
idlers would have addressed her. As it was, they gazed after her, and
then grinned to each other.

"Ay, Sam'l," said two or three young men, as Sam'l joined them beneath
the town clock.

"Ay, Davit," replied Sam'l.

This group was composed of some of the sharpest wits in Thrums, and
it was not to be expected that they would let this opportunity pass.
Perhaps when Sam'l joined them he knew what was in store for him.

"Was ye lookin' for T'nowhead's Bell, Sam'l?" asked one.

"Or mebbe ye was wantin' the minister?" suggested another, the same who
had walked out twice with Chirsty Duff and not married her after all.

Sam'l could not think of a good reply at the moment, so he laughed

"Ondootedly she's a snod bit crittur," said Davit, archly.

"An' michty clever wi' her fingers," added Jamie Deuchars.

"Man, I've thocht o' makkin' up to Bell mysel'," said Pete Ogle. "Wid
there be ony chance, think ye, Sam'l?"

"I'm thinkin' she widna hae ye for her first, Pete," replied Sam'l,
in one of those happy flashes that come to some men, "but there's nae
sayin' but what she micht tak' ye to finish up wi'."

The unexpectedness of this sally startled every one. Though Sam'l did
not set up for a wit, however, like Davit, it was notorious that he
could say a cutting thing once in a way.

"Did ye ever see Bell reddin' up?" asked Pete, recovering from his
overthrow. He was a man who bore no malice.

"It's a sicht," said Sam'l, solemnly.

"Hoo will that be?" asked Jamie Deuchars.

"It's weel worth yer while," said Pete, "to ging atower to the T'nowhead
an' see. Ye'll mind the closed-in beds i' the kitchen? Ay, weel, they're
a fell spoiled crew, T'nowhead's litlins, an' no that aisy to manage.
Th' ither lasses Lisbeth's haen had a michty trouble wi' them. When they
war i' the middle o' their reddin' up the bairns wid come tum'lin' aboot
the floor, but, sal, I assure ye, Bell didna fash lang wi' them. Did
she, Sam'l?"

"She did not," said Sam'l, dropping into a fine mode of speech to add
emphasis to his remark.

"I'll tell ye what she did," said Pete to the others. "She juist lifted
up the litlins, twa at a time, an' flung them into the coffin-beds. Syne
she snibbit the doors on them, an' keepit them there till the floor was

"Ay, man, did she so?" said Davit, admiringly.

"I've seen her do 't mysel'," said Sam'l.

"There's no a lassie mak's better bannocks this side o' Fetter Lums,"
continued Pete.

"Her mither tocht her that," said Sam'l; "she was a gran' han' at the
bakin', Kitty Ogilvy."

"I've heard say," remarked Jamie, putting it this way so as not to tie
himself down to anything, "'at Bell's scones is equal to Mag Lunan's."

"So they are," said Sam'l, almost fiercely.

"I kin she's a neat han' at singein' a hen," said Pete.

"An' wi' 't a'," said Davit, "she's a snod, canty bit stocky in her
Sabbath claes."

"If onything, thick in the waist," suggested Jamie.

"I dinna see that," said Sam'l.

"I d'na care for her hair, either," continued Jamie, who was very nice
in his tastes; "something mair yallowchy wid be an improvement."

"A'body kins," growled Sam'l, "'at black hair's the bonniest."

The others chuckled.

"Puir Sam'l!" Pete said.

Sam'l, not being certain whether this should be received with a smile
or a frown, opened his mouth wide as a kind of compromise. This was
position one with him for thinking things over.

Few Auld Lichts, as I have said, went the length of choosing a helpmate
for themselves. One day a young man's friends would see him mending
the washing-tub of a maiden's mother. They kept the joke until Saturday
night, and then he learned from them what he had been after. It dazed
him for a time, but in a year or so he grew accustomed to the idea, and
they were then married. With a little help he fell in love just like
other people.

Sam'l was going the way of the others, but he found it difficult to come
to the point. He only went courting once a week, and he could never take
up the running at the place where he left off the Saturday before. Thus
he had not, so far, made great headway. His method of making up to Bell
had been to drop in at T'nowhead on Saturday nights and talk with the
farmer about the rinderpest.

The farm kitchen was Bell's testimonial. Its chairs, tables, and stools
were scoured by her to the whiteness of Rob Angus's sawmill boards, and
the muslin blind on the window was starched like a child's pinafore.
Bell was brave, too, as well as energetic. Once Thrums had been overrun
with thieves. It is now thought that there may have been only one, but
he had the wicked cleverness of a gang. Such was his repute that there
were weavers who spoke of locking their doors when they went from home.
He was not very skilful, however, being generally caught, and when they
said they knew he was a robber, he gave them their things back and went
away. If they had given him time there is no doubt that he would have
gone off with his plunder. One night he went to T'nowhead, and Bell, who
slept in the kitchen, was awakened by the noise. She knew who it would
be, so she rose and dressed herself, and went to look for him with a
candle. The thief had not known what to do when he got in, and as it was
very lonely he was glad to see Bell. She told him he ought to be ashamed
of himself, and would not let him out by the door until he had taken off
his boots so as not to soil the carpet.

On this Saturday evening Sam'l stood his ground in the square, until
by-and-by he found himself alone. There were other groups there still,
but his circle had melted away. They went separately, and no one said
good-night. Each took himself off slowly, backing out of the group until
he was fairly started.

Sam'l looked about him, and then, seeing that the others had gone,
walked round the town-house into the darkness of the brae that leads
down and then up to the farm of T'nowhead.

To get into the good graces of Lisbeth Fargus you had to know her ways
and humour them. Sam'l, who was a student of women, knew this, and so,
instead of pushing the door open and walking in, he went through the
rather ridiculous ceremony of knocking. Sanders Elshioner was also aware
of this weakness of Lisbeth's, but though he often made up his mind to
knock, the absurdity of the thing prevented his doing so when he reached
the door. T'nowhead himself had never got used to his wife's refined
notions, and when any one knocked he always started to his feet,
thinking there must be something wrong.

Lisbeth came to the door, her expansive figure blocking the way in.

"Sam'l," she said.

"Lisbeth," said Sam'l.

He shook hands with the farmer's wife, knowing that she liked it, but
only said, "Ay, Bell," to his sweetheart, "Ay, T'nowhead," to McQuhatty,
and "It's yersel', Sanders," to his rival.

They were all sitting round the fire; T'nowhead, with his feet on the
ribs, wondering why he felt so warm; and Bell darned a stocking, while
Lisbeth kept an eye on a goblet full of potatoes.

"Sit into the fire, Sam'l," said the farmer, not, however, making way
for him.

"Na, na," said Sam'l; "I'm to bide nae time." Then he sat into the fire.
His face was turned away from Bell, and when she spoke he answered her
without looking round. Sam'l felt a little anxious. Sanders Elshioner,
who had one leg shorter than the other, but looked well when sitting,
seemed suspiciously at home. He asked Bell questions out of his own
head, which was beyond Sam'l, and once he said something to her in
such a low voice that the others could not catch it. T'nowhead asked
curiously what it was, and Sanders explained that he had only said, "Ay,
Bell, the morn's the Sabbath." There was nothing startling in this, but
Sam'l did not like it. He began to wonder if he were too late, and had
he seen his opportunity would have told Bell of a nasty rumour that
Sanders intended to go over to the Free Church if they would make him
kirk officer.

Sam'l had the good-will of T'nowhead's wife, who liked a polite man.
Sanders did his best, but from want of practice he constantly made
mistakes. To-night, for instance, he wore his hat in the house because
he did not like to put up his hand and take it off. T'nowhead had not
taken his off, either, but that was because he meant to go out by-and-by
and lock the byre door. It was impossible to say which of her lovers
Bell preferred. The proper course with an Auld Licht lassie was to
prefer the man who proposed to her.

"Ye'll bide a wee, an' hae something to eat?" Lisbeth asked Sam'l, with
her eyes on the goblet.

"No, I thank ye," said Sam'l, with true gentility.

"Ye'll better."

"I dinna think it."

"Hoots aye, what's to hender ye?"

"Weel, since ye're sae pressin', I'll bide."

No one asked Sanders to stay. Bell could not, for she was but the
servant, and T'nowhead knew that the kick his wife had given him meant
that he was not to do so, either. Sanders whistled to show that he was
not uncomfortable.

"Ay, then, I'll be stappin' ower the brae," he said at last.

He did not go, however. There was sufficient pride in him to get him off
his chair, but only slowly, for he had to get accustomed to the notion
of going. At intervals of two or three minutes he remarked that he
must now be going. In the same circumstances Sam'l would have acted
similarly. For a Thrums man, it is one of the hardest things in life to
get away from anywhere.

At last Lisbeth saw that something must be done. The potatoes were
burning, and T'nowhead had an invitation on his tongue.

"Yes, I'll hae to be movin'," said Sanders, hopelessly, for the fifth

"Guid-nicht to ye, then, Sanders," said Lisbeth. "Gie the door a
fling-to ahent ye."

Sanders, with a mighty effort, pulled himself together. He looked boldly
at Bell, and then took off his hat carefully. Sam'l saw with misgivings
that there was something in it which was not a handkerchief. It was a
paper bag glittering with gold braid, and contained such an assortment
of sweets as lads bought for their lasses on the Muckle Friday.

"Hae, Bell," said Sanders, handing the bag to Bell in an offhand way as
if it were but a trifle. Nevertheless he was a little excited, for he
went off without saying good-night.

No one spoke. Bell's face was crimson. T'nowhead fidgeted on his
chair, and Lisbeth looked at Sam'l. The weaver was strangely calm
and collected, though he would have liked to know whether this was a

"Sit in by to the table, Sam'l," said Lisbeth, trying to look as if
things were as they had been before.

She put a saucerful of butter, salt, and pepper near the fire to
melt, for melted butter is the shoeing-horn that helps over a meal of
potatoes. Sam'l, however, saw what the hour required, and, jumping up,
he seized his bonnet.

"Hing the tatties higher up the joist, Lisbeth," he said, with dignity;
"I'se be back in ten meenits."

He hurried out of the house, leaving the others looking at each other.

"What do ye think?" asked Lisbeth.

"I d'na kin," faltered Bell.

"Thae tatties is lang o' comin' to the boil," said T'nowhead.

In some circles a lover who behaved like Sam'l would have been suspected
of intent upon his rival's life, but neither Bell nor Lisbeth did the
weaver that injustice. In a case of this kind it does not much matter
what T'nowhead thought.

The ten minutes had barely passed when Sam'l was back in the farm
kitchen. He was too flurried to knock this time, and, indeed, Lisbeth
did not expect it of him.

"Bell, hae!" he cried, handing his sweetheart a tinsel bag twice the
size of Sanders's gift.

"Losh preserve 's!" exclaimed Lisbeth; "I'se warrant there's a shillin's

"There's a' that, Lisbeth - an' mair," said Sam'l, firmly.

"I thank ye, Sam'l," said Bell, feeling an unwonted elation as she gazed
at the two paper bags in her lap.

"Ye're ower-extravegint, Sam'l," Lisbeth said.

"Not at all," said Sam'l; "not at all. But I widna advise ye to eat thae
ither anes, Bell - they're second quality."

Bell drew back a step from Sam'l.

"How do ye kin?" asked the farmer, shortly, for he liked Sanders.

"I speered i' the shop," said Sam'l.

The goblet was placed on a broken plate on the table, with the saucer
beside it, and Sam'l, like the others, helped himself. What he did was
to take potatoes from the pot with his fingers, peel off their coats,
and then dip them into the butter. Lisbeth would have liked to provide
knives and forks, but she knew that beyond a certain point T'nowhead was
master in his own house. As for Sam'l, he felt victory in his hands, and
began to think that he had gone too far.

In the meantime Sanders, little witting that Sam'l had trumped his
trick, was sauntering along the kirk-wynd with his hat on the side of
his head. Fortunately he did not meet the minister.

The courting of T'nowhead's Bell reached its crisis one Sabbath about a
month after the events above recorded. The minister was in great force
that day, but it is no part of mine to tell how he bore himself. I was
there, and am not likely to forget the scene. It was a fateful Sabbath
for T'nowhead's Bell and her swains, and destined to be remembered for
the painful scandal which they perpetrated in their passion.

Bell was not in the kirk. There being an infant of six months in the
house it was a question of either Lisbeth or the lassie's staying at
home with him, and though Lisbeth was unselfish in a general way, she
could not resist the delight of going to church. She had nine children
besides the baby, and, being but a woman, it was the pride of her life
to march them into the T'nowhead pew, so well watched that they dared
not misbehave, and so tightly packed that they could not fall. The
congregation looked at that pew, the mothers enviously, when they sang
the lines:

"Jerusalem like a city is
Compactly built together."

The first half of the service had been gone through on this particular
Sunday without anything remarkable happening. It was at the end of the
psalm which preceded the sermon that Sanders Elshioner, who sat near the
door, lowered his head until it was no higher than the pews, and in that
attitude, looking almost like a four-footed animal, slipped out of the
church. In their eagerness to be at the sermon many of the congregation
did not notice him, and those who did put the matter by in their minds
for future investigation. Sam'l however, could not take it so coolly.
From his seat in the gallery he saw Sanders disappear, and his mind
misgave him. With the true lover's instinct he understood it all.
Sanders had been struck by the fine turnout in the T'nowhead pew. Bell
was alone at the farm. What an opportunity to work one's way up to a
proposal! T'nowhead was so overrun with children that such a chance
seldom occurred, except on a Sabbath. Sanders, doubtless, was off to
propose, and he, Sam'l, was left behind.

The suspense was terrible. Sam'l and Sanders had both known all along
that Bell would take the first of the two who asked her. Even those
who thought her proud admitted that she was modest. Bitterly the weaver
repented having waited so long. Now it was too late. In ten minutes
Sanders would be at T'nowhead; in an hour all would be over. Sam'l rose
to his feet in a daze. His mother pulled him down by the coat-tail, and
his father shook him, thinking he was walking in his sleep. He tottered
past them, however, hurried up the aisle, which was so narrow that Dan'l
Ross could only reach his seat by walking sideways, and was gone before
the minister could do more than stop in the middle of a whirl and gape
in horror after him.

A number of the congregation felt that day the advantage of sitting in
the loft. What was a mystery to those downstairs was revealed to them.
From the gallery windows they had a fine open view to the south; and as
Sam'l took the common, which was a short cut through a steep ascent, to
T'nowhead, he was never out of their line of vision. Sanders was not to
be seen, but they guessed rightly the reason why. Thinking he had ample
time, he had gone round by the main road to save his boots - perhaps a
little scared by what was coming. Sam'l's design was to forestall him by
taking the shorter path over the burn and up the commonty.

It was a race for a wife, and several onlookers in the gallery braved
the minister's displeasure to see who won. Those who favoured Sam'l's
suit exultingly saw him leap the stream, while the friends of Sanders
fixed their eyes on the top of the common where it ran into the road.
Sanders must come into sight there, and the one who reached this point
first would get Bell.

As Auld Lichts do not walk abroad on the Sabbath, Sanders would probably
not be delayed. The chances were in his favour. Had it been any other
day in the week Sam'l might have run. So some of the congregation in the
gallery were thinking, when suddenly they saw him bend low and then take
to his heels. He had caught sight of Sanders's head bobbing over the
hedge that separated the road from the common, and feared that Sanders
might see him. The congregation who could crane their necks sufficiently
saw a black object, which they guessed to be the carter's hat, crawling
along the hedge-top. For a moment it was motionless, and then it shot
ahead. The rivals had seen each other. It was now a hot race. Sam'l
dissembling no longer, clattered up the common, becoming smaller and
smaller to the onlookers as he neared the top. More than one person in
the gallery almost rose to their feet in their excitement. Sam'l had it.
No, Sanders was in front. Then the two figures disappeared from view.
They seemed to run into each other at the top of the brae, and no one
could say who was first. The congregation looked at one another. Some of
them perspired. But the minister held on his course.

Sam'l had just been in time to cut Sanders out. It was the weaver's
saving that Sanders saw this when his rival turned the corner; for Sam'l
was sadly blown. Sanders took in the situation and gave in at once. The
last hundred yards of the distance he covered at his leisure, and when

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