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Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XVI., December, 1880 online

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"Are you happy, Baubie?" asked Miss Mackenzie. "Will you try and learn
everything like 'Lisbeth Grant? See how well she sews, and she is no
older than you."

"Ay, mem," responded Baubie, meekly and without looking up. She was
still wearing 'Lisbeth Grant's frock and apron, and the garments gave
her that odd look of their real owner which clothes so often have the
power of conveying. Baubie's slim figure had caught the flat-backed,
square-shoulder form of her little neighbor, and her face, between the
smooth-laid bands of her hair, seemed to have assumed the same
gravely-respectable air. The disingenuous roving eye was there all the
time, could they but have noted it, and gave the lie to her compressed
lips and studied pose.

That same day the Rob Roy tartan frock made its appearance from the
wash, brighter as to hue, but somewhat smaller and shrunken in size, as
was the nature of its material for one reason, and for another because
it had parted, in common with its owner when subjected to the same
process, with a great deal of extraneous matter. Baubie saw her familiar
garb again with joy, and put it on with keen satisfaction.

That same night, when the girls were going to bed - whether the
inspiration still lingered, in spite of soapsuds, about the red frock,
and was by it imparted to its owner, or whether it was merely the
prompting of that demon of self-assertion that had been tormenting her
of late - Baubie Wishart volunteered a song, and, heedless of
consequences, struck up one of the two which formed her stock in trade.

The unfamiliar sounds had not long disturbed the quiet of the house when
the matron and Kate, open-eyed with wonder, hastened up to know what was
the meaning of this departure from the regular order of things. Baubie
heard their approach, and only sang the louder. She had a good and by no
means unmusical voice, which the rest had rather improved; and by the
time the authorities arrived on the scene there was an audience gathered
round the daring Baubie, who, with shoes and stockings off and the Rob
Roy tartan half unfastened, was standing by her bed, singing at the
pitch of her voice. The words could be heard down the stairs:

Hark! I hear the bugles sounding: 'tis the signal for the fight.
Now, may God protect us, mother, as He ever does the right.

"Baubie Wishart," cried the astonished mistress, "what do you mean?"

The singer was just at the close of a verse:

Hear the battle-cry of Freedom! how it swells upon the air!
Yes, we'll rally round the standard or we'll perish nobly there.

She finished it off deliberately, and turned her bright eyes and flushed
face toward the speaker.

"Who gave you leave, Baubie Wishart," went on the angry matron, "to make
yon noise? You ought to think shame of such conduct, singing your
good-for-nothing street-songs like a tinkler. One would think ye would
feel glad never to hear of such things again. Let me have no more of
this, do ye hear? I just wonder what Miss Mackenzie would say to
ye! - Kate, stop here till they are all bedded and turn off yon gas."

Long before the gas was extinguished Baubie had retired into darkness
beneath the bed-clothes, rage and mortification swelling her small
heart. Good-for-nothing street-songs! Tinkler! Mrs. Duncan's scornful
epithets rang in her ears and cut her to the quick. She lay awake,
trembling with anger and indignation, until long after Kate had followed
the younger fry to rest, and their regular breathing, which her ears
listened for till they caught it from every bed, warned her that the
weary occupants were safely asleep: then she sat up in bed. The
moonlight was streaming into the room through the uncurtained window,
and lit up her tumbled head and hot face. After a cautious pause she
stepped out on the floor and went round the foot of her bed to the
window. She knelt down on the floor, as if she were in search of
something, and began feeling with her hand on the lower part of the
shutter. Then, close to the floor, and in a place where they were likely
to escape detection, she marked clearly and distinctly eight deep, short
scratches in an even line on the yellow-painted woodwork. She ran her
fingers over them until she could feel each scratch distinctly. Eight!
She counted them thrice to make sure, then jumped back into bed, and in
a few minutes was as fast asleep as her neighbors.

The days wore into weeks, and the weeks had soon made a month, and time,
as it went, left Baubie more demure, quieter and more diligent - diligent
apparently at least, for the knitting, though it advanced, showed no
sign of corresponding improvement, and the rest of her work was simply
scamped. March had given way to April, and the late Edinburgh spring at
last began to give signs of its approach. The chestnuts showed brown
glistening tips to their branch-ends, and their black trunks became
covered with an emerald-colored mildew; the rod-like branches of the
poplars turned a pale whitish-green and began to knot and swell; the
Water of Leith overflowed, and ran bubbling and mud-colored under the
bridge; and the grass by its banks, and even that in the front green of
the refuge, showed here and there a red-eyed daisy. The days grew longer
and longer, and of a mild evening the thrush's note was to be heard
above the brawling of the stream from the thickets of Dean Terrace
Gardens.

Baubie Wishart waited passively. Every day saw her more docile and
demure, and every day saw a new scratch added to her tally on the
window-shutter behind her bed.

May came, and the days climbed with longer strides to their goal, now
close; on reaching which they return slowly and unwillingly, but just as
surely; and to her joy, about, the third week in May, Baubie Wishart
counted one warm, clear night fifty-nine scratches on the shutter.
Fifty-nine! She knew the number well without counting them.

Whether she slept or watched that night is not known, but the next
morning at four saw Baubie make a hasty and rather more simple toilette
than usual, insomuch as she forgot to wash herself, brush her hair or
put on her shoes and stockings. Barefooted and bareheaded, much as she
had come, she went. She stole noiselessly as a shadow through the outer
dormitory, passing the rows of sleepers with bated breath, and not
without a parting glance of triumph at the bed where her rival,
Elizabeth Grant, was curled up. Down the wooden stair, her bare feet
waking no echoes, glided Baubie, and into the school-room, which looked
out on the front green. She opened the window easily, hoisted herself on
the sill, crept through and let herself drop on the grass below. To
scramble up the trunk of one of the chestnuts and swing herself over the
wall was quickly done, and then she was once more on the flagged path of
the street, and the world lay before her.

As she stood for one moment, breathless with her haste and excitement,
she was startled by the sudden apparition of the house cat, who was on
his way home as surreptitiously as she was on hers abroad. He had one
bloody ear and a scratched nose, and stared at her as he passed: then,
probably in the hope of finding an open door after her, he jumped over
the wall hurriedly. Baubie was seized with a sudden panic lest the cat
should waken some one in the house, and she took to her heels and ran
until she reached the bridge. The morning sun was just beginning to
touch the tall tops of the houses, and the little valley through which
the Water of Leith ran lay still in a kind of clear grayish light, in
which the pale tender hues of the young leaves and the flowering trees
were all the more vividly beautiful. The stream was low, and it hurried
along over its stony bed, as if it too were running away, and in as
great a hurry to be free of all restraints as truant Baubie Wishart,
whose red frock was now climbing the hilly gray street beyond.

She could hear, as she strained herself to listen for pursuing voices,
the rustle and murmur of the water with an odd distinctness as it rose
upon the still air of the summer morning.

Not a creature was to be seen as she made her way eastward, shaping her
course for Princes street, and peering, with a gruesome fear of the
school-board officer, round every corner. That early bird, however, was
not so keenly on the alert as she gave him the credit of being, and she
reached her goal unchallenged after coasting along in parallel lines
with it for some time.

The long beautiful line of Princes street was untenanted as the Rob Roy
tartan tacked cautiously round the corner of St. David street and took a
hasty look up and down before venturing forth.

The far-reaching pale red beams of the morning sun had just touched and
kindled as with a flame the summit of the Rock, and the windows of the
Castle caught and flashed back the greeting in a dozen ruddy
reflections. The gardens below lay partly veiled in a clear transparent
mist, faintly blue, that hovered above the trees and crept up the banks,
and over which the grand outlines of the Rock towered as it lifted its
head majestically into the gold halo that lay beyond.

Not a sound or stir, even the sparrows were barely awake, as Baubie
darted along. Fixing her eye on that portion of the High School which is
visible from Princes street, she pushed along at a pace that was almost
a run, and a brief space saw her draw up and fall exhausted on the steps
that lead up to the Calton Hill.

Right before her was the jail-gate.

The child's feet, unused now for some time to such hardships, were hot
and bruised, for she had not stopped to pick her footing in her hasty
course, and she was so out of breath and heated that it seemed to her as
if she would never get cool or her heart cease fluttering as if it would
choke her. She shrank discreetly against the stone wall at her side, and
there for three long hours she remained crouched, watching and waiting
for the hour to chime when the grim black gate opposite would open.

The last tinge of crimson and purple had faded before the golden glories
of the day as the sun climbed higher and higher in the serene blue sky.
The red cliffs of Salisbury Crags glared with a hot lustre above the
green slopes of the hill, and in the white dust of the high-road a
million tiny stars seemed to sparkle and twinkle most invitingly to
Baubie's eyes. The birds had long been awake and busy in the bushes
above her head, and from where she sat she could see, in the distant
glitter of Princes street, all the stir of the newly-raised day.

It was a long vigil, and her fear and impatience made it seem doubly
longer. At last the clock began to chime eight, and before it was half
done the wicket in the great door opened with a noisy clang after a
preliminary rattle.

First came a boy, who cast an anxious look round him, then set off at a
run; next a young woman, for whom another was waiting just out of sight
down the road; last of all (there were only three released), Baubie,
whose heart was beginning to beat fast again with anxiety, saw the
familiar, well-known figure shamble forth and look up and down the road
in a helpless, undecided way. The next moment the wicket had clapped to
again. Wishart glanced back at it, sighed once or twice, and blinked his
eyes as though the sunlight were too strong for them.

Baubie, scarce breathing, watched him as a cat watches just before she
springs.

After a second of hesitation he began to move cityward, obeying some
sheep-like instinct which impelled him to follow those who had gone on
before. Baubie saw this, and, just waiting to let him get well under way
and settle into his gait, she gathered herself up and sprang across the
road upon him with the suddenness and rapidity of a flash.

He fairly staggered with surprise. There she was, exactly as he had left
her, dusty, barefooted and bareheaded. The wind had tossed up her hair,
which indeed was only too obedient to its will, and it clustered all the
more wildly about her face because of having been cropped to the
regulation length of the refuge.

"Lassie, is't you?" he ejaculated, lost in astonishment. Then, realizing
the fact, he gave expression to his feeling by grinning in a convulsive
kind of way and clapping her once or twice on the shoulder next him.
"Od! I niver! Didna the leddy - "

Baubie cut him short. "Sed I widna bide," she observed curtly and
significantly.

Gestures and looks convey, among people like the Wisharts, far more
meaning than words, and Baubie's father perfectly understood from the
manner and tone of her pregnant remark that she had run away from
school, and had severed the connection between herself and the "kind
leddy," and that in consequence the situation was highly risky for both.
They remained standing still for a moment, looking at each other. The
boy and the woman were already out of sight, and the white, dusty
high-road seemed all their own domain.

Wishart shuffled with his feet once more, and looked in the direction
of Princes street, and then at Baubie inquiringly. It was for her, as
usual, to decide. Baubie had been his Providence for as long as he had
memory for - no great length of time. He was conjecturing in his own mind
vaguely whether his Providence had, by any chance, got the desiderated
three shillings necessary for the redemption of the banjo hidden away in
the Rob Roy tartan. He would not have been surprised had it been so, and
he would have asked no questions.

Seeing that her eyes followed the direction of his with a forbidding
frown, he said tentatively, "Ye didn' - didna - "

"What?" snapped Baubie crossly: she divined his meaning exactly. "Come
awa' wi' ye!" she ordered, facing right round countryward.

"We'll gae awa' til Glasgae, Baubie, eh? I'm thinkin' to yer auntie's.
_She_" - with a gesture of his head backward at the prison - "will no' be
oot this month; sae she'll niver need to ken, eh?"

Baubie nodded. He only spoke her own thoughts, and he knew it.

The first turn to the right past the High School brought them out on the
road before Holyrood, which lay grim and black under the sun-bathed
steeps of Arthur's Seat. On by the Grange and all round the
south-eastern portion of the city this odd couple took their way. It was
a long round, but safety made it necessary. At last, between
Corstorphine's wooded slopes and the steeper rise of the Pentlands, they
struck into the Glasgow road. In the same order as before they pursued
their journey, Baubie leading as of old, now and again vouchsafing a
word over her shoulder to her obedient follower, until the dim haze of
the horizon received into itself the two quaint figures, and Baubie
Wishart and the Rob Roy tartan faded together out of sight.

_The Author of "Flitters, Tatters and the Counsellor_."




GAS-BURNING, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.


"It is remarkable what attention has been attracted all over the country
by the recent experiments with Edison's inventions," observed my friend
the traveller as our host turned a fuller flow of gas in the chandelier.
"Even in the little villages out West, of only one bank and _not_ one
good hotel, the topics which last spring generally excited most interest
in all circles were Edison's electric light and Bell's telephone."

"Very likely," replied our host, an elderly gentleman of fortune. "If we
had such impure gas as is found in many of the villages and small cities
not so very far West, I'd never light a burner in my library again. As
it is, I do so very rarely. The products of gas combustion act on the
bindings until firm calf drops in pieces, and even law-sheep loses its
coherency, as the argument of the opposing counsel does when your own
lawyer begins to talk."

"The effect on the upholstery and metallic ornaments is as bad as upon
the books," added our hostess. "This room will have to be refurnished in
the spring - all on account of the changes in color both of the paper and
the silk and cotton fabrics; and the bronze dressing on those statuettes
is softening, so that there are lines and spots of rust all over them."

"Perhaps, my dear, they would have suffered equally from the atmosphere
without gas," replied the old gentleman, looking at his wife over his
glasses.

"Our friend here has a hundred thousand more in gas stock than he had a
year ago, and I suspect that he is still a bear in the market," said his
neighbor a chemist, who had just dropped in.

"If I lose I shall lay it to your advice."

"You did well to buy - if you sell at once," said the traveller, who was
interested in the electric light to some unknown extent: "gas stock will
finally have to go down."

"When the sun shines in the night, not before," asserted a young
accountant from the gas-works who had been holding a private talk with
the daughter of the house at the other corner of the room.

"Gas companies can manufacture at less cost than formerly," said the
chemist.

"But yet gas has gone up again lately. You may thank the electric-light
boom for the temporary respite you have had from poor gas at high
prices."

"Yes; some of the companies put gas down lower than they could
manufacture it, in order to hold their customers at a time when people
almost believed that Edison's light would prove a success."

"But it _was_ a success. It proved an excellent light, displayed a neat
lamp, and gave no ill effects upon either the atmosphere or the eyes;
and the perfect carbons showed a surprising endurance. The only
difficulty is that the invention is not yet perfected so as to go
immediately into use."

"But the lower part of the glasses becomes dark with deposited carbon,"
returned the chemist. "If carbons could be made to last long enough to
render the lamps cheap, this smoking of the globes would set a limit at
which the lamps would cease to be presentable; and the cleaning, and the
exhausting of air again, are difficult and expensive."

"That remains to be proved. But coal is sure to grow dearer."

"That isn't likely within a century. Besides, by the fault of the
consumer gas-light costs now one-third more than it should for the same
light. The best English authorities state this to be the case in Great
Britain, and I have no question that such is the fact here."

"How would you remedy the evil of waste?"

"By the use of economical burners and of governors to regulate the flow
of gas."

"That is very easily said. What is the name of your economical burner?"

"I am not an advocate of any special burner, but of all that are
constructed on right principles."

"There are many kinds of burners. Do you not have some classification
for them?" inquired the young lady, who was fresh from Wellesley.

"The usual forms of the burner," replied the chemist " - or, more
properly, the forms of the tip - are the fishtail, the batwing and the
argand. In the first the gas issues through two holes which come
together at the top, so that the two jets of gas impinge and form a flat
flame; in the batwing the gas issues in a thin sheet through a slit in a
hollow knob; while in the argand the gas enters a short cylinder or
broad ring, escaping thence through numerous holes at the upper edge.
There are many varieties of each of these, differing in the construction
of the part below the tip. The argand has long been the favorite burner
for the table and desk. Its advantages are a strong, steady light, but,
as you know, it is apt to smoke at every slight increase in the pressure
of the gas, though there are recent improved forms in which this fault
is in a measure corrected. A properly-made argand burner will give a
light equal to three whole candles (spermaceti, of the standard size and
quality) for every foot of gas burned. Of the argand burners, Guise's
shadowless argand has been considered the best, but of late years Sugg's
Letheby burner has carried off the palm. Wood's burner has been a
favorite, as, being a fishtail, it could be used with a short chimney,
which gives the flame steadiness. By the arms on the chimney-frame the
flame is broadened at the bottom, with a smaller dark space at the base
than in any other flat-flame burner. It is so constructed that the
quantity of gas passing is regulated by turning a tap in the lower part
of the burner, which changes the size of the orifice in the tube. Ten
years ago this burner, with a regulator at the meter, was generally
thought to be the most economical contrivance possible. It is now little
used. Yet either the batwing or the fishtail tip can be used in any
common burner except the argand. The old brass and iron tips are mostly
superseded by those of "lava," being liable to an early change of the
orifice from incrustation and rust. In the flat-flame burners there are
differences in the internal arrangement. Perhaps our young
gas-manufacturer here can tell us what is now the most approved burner."

The young man confessed that he had specimens of the best kinds of
flat-flame burners in his pocket. He quickly brought from his overcoat
in the hall a small paper parcel from which he produced several bright
little brass tubes, explaining that he carried them because somebody was
always inquiring about the best kind of burner. "These save talk," said
he.

With a small wrench he removed one of the old burners, and the several
kinds were successively tested in its place. Some gave a better light,
but it was objected that they might consume more gas. Whereupon the
chemist tore a strip from his well-worn handkerchief, and, having damped
it, wound the ribbon several times around the top of the old burner
(which had been replaced), leaving the orifice uncovered. The new burner
was screwed down over this, making a gas-tight connection. "There," said
he, "we have a gauge. The new burner will receive the same amount of gas
that the old one consumed - no more, no less - but the current is slightly
checked."

The burner gave the same amount of light as before, so far as the eye
could perceive.

"In the combustion of gas for heating purposes," continued the chemist,
"seek the burner with free, rapid delivery through small holes. For
light you want something different. Suppose you send a current of gas up
into this sewing-thimble: it can find an exit only by turning backward.
Then suppose it escapes from the thimble only to enter a larger cavity
above it, whence it must issue through a burner-tip with an orifice of
the usual size. The current, you perceive, is twice completely broken.
It will be seen that only the expansive force of the gas, together with
its buoyancy, acts upon the jets, instead of a direct current. Now, it
will always be found that the burner which best carries out the
principles just illustrated - other points being equal - will give more
light with a less quantity of gas than any other. This also exhibits
the chief principle of most of the governors or regulators.

"You will observe that this checking of the current is attained in
various ways in different burners," continued the chemist as he
unscrewed and dissected the samples before him. "In some it is done by a
perforated metal disk in the orifice; in others, by a bit of wool, which
checks slightly a slow current, and by the pressure of a strong one
becomes compacted and forms a more effective obstacle. In most cases,
however, it soon becomes solid with condensed matters from the gas.
Another form of check is a small cap having perpendicular slits at the
sides. The cylinder of the cap, being smaller than the orifice of the
burner, screws down into it; the openings being shortened or lengthened
according as the cylinder is screwed up or down. One objection to this
is the trouble required in regulating. Here is another burner, in which
the orifice ends in a cap whose sides, near the bottom, are pierced with
four pin-holes directed downward. This reverses the direction of the
current of gas, which then escapes through the pin-holes downward into a
chamber, then turns upward along its sides to the tip, on entering which
it again turns. Each burner is able to consume economically a flow of
gas peculiar to itself, which can be ascertained by a minute's
experiment, and then regulated by the tap in the pipe. But this requires
much care, and is apt to be neglected. A very small tap in the burner
(as in the Wood and Ellis burners), which can be adjusted so as to
require no further attention, seems the best method of effecting this
graduation."

The chemist now pulled a manuscript from his pocket and read from it as
follows: "The quantity of light decreases with disproportionate rapidity
by reduced consumption; for, as experiments have shown, when consuming
only two feet per hour, eighty-five per cent. of the gas is lost; with


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Online LibraryVariousLippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XVI., December, 1880 → online text (page 13 of 20)