• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Half Title
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Chapter I
 Chapter II
 Chapter III
 Chapter IV
 Chapter V
 Chapter VI
 Chapter VII
 Chapter VIII
 Chapter IX
 Chapter X
 Chapter XI
 Chapter XII
 Chapter XIII
 Chapter XIV
 Chapter XV
 Chapter XVI
 Chapter XVII
 Chapter XVIII
 Chapter XIX
 Chapter XX
 Chapter XXI
 Advertising
 Back Cover
 Spine














Group Title: Away on the moorland : a Highland tale
Title: Away on the moorland
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00066409/00001
 Material Information
Title: Away on the moorland a Highland tale
Physical Description: 256, 4 p., 6 leaves of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 18 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Chambers, A. C
Whymper, Josiah Wood, 1813-1903 ( Engraver )
Dickes, William, 1815-1892 ( Engraver )
Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (Great Britain) -- Committee of General Literature and Education
Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (Great Britain) ( Publisher )
Pott, Young, and Company ( Publisher )
Unwin Brothers (Firm) ( Printer )
Gresham Press ( Printer )
Publisher: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge ;
Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge
Pott, Young
Place of Publication: London
New York
Manufacturer: Gresham Press ; Unwin Brothers
Publication Date: [187-?]
Copyright Date: 1870
 Subjects
Subject: Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Animals -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Outdoor life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Heathlands -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Brothers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Accidents -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Moor animals -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1875
Genre: novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
United States -- New York -- New York
England -- Chilworth
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by A.C. Chambers ; published under the direction of the Committee of General Literature and Education, appointed by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
General Note: Date of publication based on binding indicating publication in the 1870's.
General Note: Added title page and frontispiece printed in colors; illustrations engraved by Whimper and Dickes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00066409
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: notis - ALF9560
alephbibnum - 002219378
oclc - 71439480

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Half Title
        Page 1
        Page 1a
    Frontispiece
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Chapter I
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    Chapter II
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
    Chapter III
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
    Chapter IV
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
    Chapter V
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
    Chapter VI
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
    Chapter VII
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
    Chapter VIII
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 78a
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
    Chapter IX
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
    Chapter X
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
    Chapter XI
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
    Chapter XII
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
    Chapter XIII
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
    Chapter XIV
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 154a
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
    Chapter XV
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
    Chapter XVI
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
    Chapter XVII
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
    Chapter XVIII
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 206a
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
    Chapter XIX
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
    Chapter XX
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
    Chapter XXI
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 240a
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
    Advertising
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
    Back Cover
        Page 261
        Page 262
    Spine
        Page 263
Full Text



































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AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;

A HIGHLAND TALE.

















































UNWIN BROTHERS,
PRINTERS.






















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AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;



A HIGHLAND TALE.






BY
A. C. CHAMBERS,
AUTHOR Or "LIFE IN THE WALLS," "ROBINo THE BOLD," &C. &C.


"Clear fount of light! my native land on high,
Bright with a glory that shall never fade,
Mansion of truth! without a veil or shade,
Thy holy quiet meets the spirit's eye."
LONGFELLOW, from Francisco de A Idana.




PUBLISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION F01 THE
COMMITTEE 01 GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION, APPOINTED BY
THE SOCIETY FOR PREOMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.




LONDON:
jocidtp for promoting Qfjriotian nolouIege.
Sold at the Depositories:
77, Great Queen Street, Lincoln's Inun Fields;
4, Royal Exchange; 48, Piccadilly;
And by all Booksellers.
NEW YORK : POTT, YOUNG, & CO.


JASt















AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;

A HIGHLAND TALE.




CHAPTER I.
"The lowly train in life's sequester'd scene,
The native feelings strong, the guileless ways."'
BURNS.
I T was a glorious day towards the end of'
January-such a winter's day as we
seldom see except in the Scottish High-
lands, combining the clear, bright sun-
shine of the south with the bracing cold of the north.
The moorland stretched its bleak expanse around.
Its stony soil, covered with withered bracken,
ling, and juniper bushes, was scarce concealed by a
thin coating of snow. It was some time since the
fall had taken place, and, for the most part, the
snow had drifted into the more sheltered spots,
lying in white powdery masses in the gullies an&d






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


little glens with which the moor was intersected.
There were also symptoms of the approach of a
gentle thaw, and in some parts, on the open ground,
it had disappeared underneath the sun's rays.
Enough remained to reflect them, and glitter like
diamond-dust under the clear, brilliant light.
Belting the moor on one hand was a dark fir
wood, which would have looked black beside the
whitened ground but that a slight frost the night
before had shed a grey tinge over the whole, as it
rested on each prickly branch. On the other side
lay an open country, broken up into hill and vale,
watered by a mountain stream gathering strength
and volume as it descended until it earned the name
of river, and dotted over with comfortable home-
steads which lay amongst fields redeemed by hard
labour from the barren moor. Beyond, the view
reached the western horizon, towards which the
winter sun was already sinking. Could they be
clouds, those white masses which formed a broken
line against the sky, and mingled with it as its pale
blue faded into lightest grey ? Some feathery clouds
doubtless rested upon them, but here and there the
clear outline of a mountain was plainly visible, and
you found you were gazing at the giant forms of the
western Highlands, clad in their winter robes of
snow. On the moor all was so still that one might
have thought no living creature existed within reach,
except some few sheep nibbling a comfortless meal
off some frozen turnips in a field at some distance.






A HIGHLAND TALE.


Nevertheless, just then a listener might have heard
the sound of footsteps on the road which crossed the
moor, and a boy and girl might have been seen wend-
ing their way hand in hand. The boy, the elder of
the two, was about twelve, clad in coarse, rough
garments. A strap was thrown across his shoulder,
one end of which he held, while to the other were
fastened his own and his sister's school-books. His
countenance was open, though the features were
plain, and wore an expression of good sense and
thoughtfulness, notwithstanding that his thick red-
dish hair, uncovered by hat or cap, was allowed
to stray over his brow in an unprepossessing fashion.
His sister, some two years younger, was a gentle-
looking child, and had stronger claims to good looks
than her brother, with large, soft, blue-grey eyes
and dark hair. It might easily have been guessed
she was more of a pensive, reflecting turn of mind
than active and clever. She was dressed in'a dark
stuff frock which had decidedly seen its best days,
and a small square worsted shawl was pinned round
her neck. Her hair fell loosely over her shoulders,
and, like her brother, she was bareheaded, for her
mother was of the old-fashioned class of matrons,
and thought hats and bonnets a ridiculous innova-
tion ; she had never worn any head-piece until her
marriage, and since that event only a white cotton
starched cap with a high crown and full frill, and
",why," she would ask, "should. her bairns be set
up wi' thae new fashions?" Without hazarding a






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


condemnation of hats or bonnets generally, we will
venture to say Jessie Ross was not the less happy
for being unafflicted with one of those strange erec-
tions which too often meet our astonished eyes
among a village population in both England and
Scotland. Both children had shoes, but this, we
may mention, was a recent promotion in con-
sideration of the length of their daily walk, and it
needed no persuasion to induce them to fling them
aside when at home.
The two were returning from the parish school of
Ardmonadh, three or four miles distant, which they
regularly attended, to their home. Another turn in
the road brought the latter in sight-a retired,
lonely spot; and as the adventures hereafter to be
related are more or less connected with it, it is as
well to say that it was a small hill farm, rather
larger than a croft," yet of very modest preten-
sions-a good specimen of a Highland steading. It
could not be seen from a distance, as it stood in a
hollow amongst surrounding hills, and from one of
these, under the shelter of which it was more
directly placed, it derived its name of Torrbuidhe
(the yellow hill). The hill had been so called from
its brilliant colouring in the flowering season of
the furze bushes which nearly covered it, and the
appellation was transferred to the house at its foot.
The dwelling-house of the farm was long and low-
roofed, built of stone and plastered and thatched
with heather. On the left hand of the chief






A HIGHLAND TALE.


entrance was the best room, always in order and
always cold, with a four-post bed in one corner.
The comfortable family room was, as in most farm-
houses, north or south, the kitchen on the other
side. There were sundry back premises and closets
in which the members of a numerous family might
be stowed away, besides an attic under the roof,
accessible by a ladder-like flight of steps in the
corner of the kitchen.
The "square," which in Scotland comprehends
all the outbuildings essential to a farmhouse-barn,
stabling, cow-house, &c. &c.-was attached to the
dwelling, for this was an old-fashioned steading,
built when convenience was more taken into account
than health or appearance. A stackyard, in which
were a few small stacks greatly out of the perpen-
dicular, and thatched with broom stalks, and a





AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


not very tidy garden redeemed from the moor,
and therefore bearing a plentiful and constantly
recurring crop of stones, completed the do-
main.
Torrbuidhe had been rented by the same family
from father to son for two or three generations. Its
present occupier, William Ross, was a worthy, true-
blooded Highlander of the old stamp. Shrewd and
energetic in his own limited sphere, his mind was
deeply imbued with religious feeling, and his
opinions on points both of doctrine and practice
were clear, strong, and inflexible, perhaps slightly
tinged with that severity which is a frequent charac-
teristic of the school of thought in which he had
been trained. A strict disciplinarian towards his
children, it would have broken his heart with grief
and shame if any one of them had departed from
the maxims of truth, honesty, and uprightness he
marked out for them both by precept and example.
His reputation was so deservedly high among his
neighbours that he held the office of elder in the
kirk.
His wife Mary, though of a softer type of
character than her husband, and not so clever, was
no less decided on all essential points, and their
home might have been taken as a model of a class
once widely prevailing among the Highlands, but
now fast diminishing, there is reason to fear. The
high standard of right set up in such a home was
strictly enforced by parental authority, the influence






A HIGHLAND TALE.


of which often lasted through life, and acted as a
salutary check under temptation.
Robbie and Jessie were not the only children of
this worthy couple. There were Jock and Willy,
the two elder boys, who now worked with their
father on the farm, and Lexie, who assisted her
mother in the house. Robbie and Jess were the
middle ones, who alone attended the school. Donald
and Rory, two boys of four and three, were not old
enough to be sent such a distance, and the latest
arrival, Mary, still spent most of her time in the
wooden cradle, which stood beside the fire and swung
violently when set in motion on its wooden rockers.
Thus it came to pass that Robbie and Jess were
thrown more alone together than the other children
of the family, and as their characters naturally
tended to attract them to one another, it is not sur-
prising that an unusual sympathy and affection
arose between the brother and sister. Robbie was
fearless and enterprising, and Jessie timid, yet
capable of appreciating his exploits. He was full
of schemes and inquiries she, a ready listener
and sympathiser. Moreover, they were bound
together by a strong love and admiration for all
natural objects, and by a tenderness for living
things. Although he had all a boy's delight in
active exploits, Robbie was too brave and generous
to be cruel, and if from heedlessness he ever did
inflict pain, Jessie, with her compassionate heart,
was ever at hand to plead for "the puir wee thing,"






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


and, with a moment's reflection, the hand or foot
was stayed that would have needlessly quenched
the little spark of life in bird or beast.
Besides, the turn of Robbie's intellect led him to
take a much greater interest in live animals than
dead ones; in discovering their habits and modes of
life than in strewing the ground with mangled tro-
phies of his prowess against the helpless ; and his
daily pilgrimage afforded abundant opportunities
for gratifying his taste. His quick eye could detect
the first nest of the peewit, however well disguised
against the dusky ground; his ear catch the first
note of the clacheran wheatearr), whose mysterious
clink is listened to with awe and dread by the
superstitious,* or follow the song of the stonechat as
it flitted through the furze-bushes. Nor did the bur-
row of the polecat nor the nest of the marten escape
his observation any more than the haunts of their
winged compatriots. If truth must be told, Robbie's
propensities, innocent though they were, sometimes
got him into trouble. He was a born naturalist,
and the bent of his genius was not appreciated
either at home or at school. It sometimes hap-

The wheatear is found chiefly among ruins; a cairn of stones
on a moor, or a burial-place where there are gravestones, equally
affording it the protection it seeks. Its note has a ringing sound,
like that of breaking stones, whence clacheran," from clac a
stone. For these reasons, the superstitious look on it as fore-
telling the near approach of death, and, both in the north of
England and Scotland, they persecute the pretty little bird, kill-
ing it and destroying its eggs.






A HIGHLAND TALE.


opened, therefore, at the latter place, that when Mr.
Mathieson, the schoolmaster, believed him to be
grappling with some abstruse lesson in geography or
arithmetic, he was engaged observing on the window-
pane the manceuvres of a spider with respect to a
fly, or reckoning the number of foraging excursions
made in the interest of their young by a pair of
sparrows which had their nest in the thatched roof;
and, when his turn came, he showed deplorable
ignorance of the task assigned him; whilst his class-
mate, Kennie Macphie, who took no interest in any
living thing unless he could compass its destruction,
felt a malicious pleasure in engrossing the magis-
terial approbation and witnessing the disgrace of
Robbie. At home, also, it unhappily occurred that,
if his father had set him to hoe or weed a certain
space in the garden, he might be found stretched
full length, with his face in close contact with the
ground, which unusual position he would explain by
saying he was "watching thae bastes," namely, in-
vestigating the peregrinations of ants, &c.; and
Jessie was always ready to atone for his deficiencies
to the utmost of her power, in return for which she
shared the full benefit of his scientific discoveries,
and entered with the liveliest sympathy into the
welfare of many a life on the moor, unsuspected by
ordinary observers.
See, Jess," said Robbie, as they neared their
home, "yonder's a bonnie white hare, new come oot
o' its snaw bed, na doot."






14 AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;

"Puir beastie," answered Jessie, "let's go by
canny, Rob, no to startle her."
It's good that Kennie's no here," replied her
brother; he's aye for chasing them wi' that good-
for-nothing tyke he has got."
True to their kindly nature, the brother and
sister diverged from the spot where the little hare
was crouching, and disappeared round the shoulder
of the hill, above which a thin wreath of smoke
arose, carrying with it the fragrant smell of a peat
fire, and indicating the position of the moorland
farm.






A HIGHLAND TALE.


CHAPTER II.

"Poor is the triumph o'er the timid hare,
Scar'd from the corn, and now to some lone seat
Retir'd-the rushy fen, the rugged furze
Stretch'd o'er the stony heath. * *
Vain is the best precaution, though she sits
Concealed with folding ears, unsleeping eyes
By nature raised to take the horizon in,
And head couech'd close betwixt her hairy feet."
THomsoN.
ND what of the object of their interest and
care ? It was indeed one of those beau-
tiful little creatures, the mountain hares.
There it sat, white as the ground on
which, it crouched, its long ears sometimes laid
back as if listening for some sound behind it,
sometimes raised erect, as it stood for a moment
with its fore paws in the air, trying to investigate,
with all its little powers, from which side the
danger would next arise which its short life is
spent in anticipating. It had only just emerged
from its snowy form, where it had lain in compara-
tive security for some time, partly under the shelter
of a juniper bush. If we may put its thoughts
into words, they were probably something of this
nature: "Yes, the sun is shining brightly, the
snow is melting and may soon be gone, the days
seem to grow a little longer, but of what use is it all






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


to me, poor, persecuted, helpless creature that I
am ? I have nearly escaped one season, and if I do
live into the spring, it is almost certain, between the
polecat, the fox, or the eagle, that I shall not see
the autumn. Why have I taken such pains to hide
myself ? Better to have met my fate at once, and
have done with it."
She had been looking back in her quiet nook
to some days long ago, when she first remem-
bered life on the heather moor. She was not
alone then; the days were spent in gambols with
four or five brothers and sisters like herself, re-
joicing in the care of their watchful little mother,
against whose soft furry side they nestled to sleep,
and who would take them on advantageous excur-
sions to meadows or woods where numberless
sweet wild herbs and flowers were springing up, not
to mention the delicate young shoots of heather and
furze that grew around their form. Then how
carefully would mother lead them home; not all
in a troop-that would have been too great a risk-
but each by a different path from that by which
they had gone abroad, watching and sniffing as she
crept along, lest perchance any enemy should be in
the wind. Then she thought of how they had all
dispersed, and she had got on pretty well while
there was plenty to eat, and the sun was bright and
the nights short, but at last came a time when all
was changed, and things had been getting worse
and worse ever since. Not only was it hard to find






A HIGHLAND TALE.


food and warmth, but life was an agony from daily
alarms. The moor was traversed by men and dogs,
the air resounded with the fierce cries of the latter
and the terrific reports of the guns. At first she
had not missed her own particular friends; it was
only their feathered neighbours that were the objects
of pursuit; but as time passed on, one after another
of her early companions disappeared, and she was
well assured they had fallen victims to the sport,"
so called. And now thick mists rested on the moor,
the nights were long and dark, and driving sleet
came along the hill-side. Every living thing had
been either shot or driven away, and the poor little
hare felt very lonely. Some of her neighbours,
whom she had been used to see during the summer,
had, she knew, gone to a far-off land, where, they
told her, the nights were almost always balmy and
the sea-breeze during the day was only cool enough
to prevent the sun's rays from being too oppressive,
and she longed that she too might escape to that
distant clime.
Can I not go with you ? she said to the land-
rail and the lark, who were about to follow their
companions.
Yes, if you can cross the sea," was the answer.
"I can swim a little," said. the hare, modestly;
" I crossed the river once."
"The river! my good friend," said the landrail.
" You would have to swim over a piece of water as
wide as from here to yon furthest mountain." So





AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


that scheme was given up, and she made shift to
live, feeding on the fresh heather seeds, now ripe,
and the refuse of various kinds of grain that had
been left on the ground after the shearing (reap-
ing). Occasionally she met with a few old com-
panions, showing she was not alone in misfortune,
but for the most part she spent her time by herself
under the juniper bush where we first beheld her.
Once only, during this dreary time, she met with a
discovery that greatly cheered her. When day
broke one morning, she was astonished to see that
the ground was perfectly white, covered with some
soft substance into which her feet sank when she
trod upon it.
"Now I'm done for," she thought. "On this
white ground I shall be a mark for anything, man
or beast," for hitherto she had worn a coat of dark
grey or slate-coloured fur.
A mountain burn ran past her form, in which she
was wont now and then to slake her thirst. Swelled
by the recent rains, it rushed by, a noisy rapid
torrent, too strong for her to drink from now, so
she went to a spot where, owing to a large stone
arresting its course, a pool was formed, so clear
and quiet that it reflected the herbs and stones
around it. Creeping down to it, what was her sur-
prise to view herself clothed in white from head to.
tail. "Can it be," she asked herself, "that this
change of coat is granted me expressly to make my
life safer at home because I cannot go to that






A HIGHLAND TALE.


beautiful land ? I will take courage then, and all
may yet be well! The snow fell thicker, and she
one day awoke from sleep under the bush to find
herself covered with it, and was conscious of feeling
warmer than she had done for some time. If this
be so, I cannot do better than stay where I am," said
she; so pushing gently backwards and to each side
she formed for herself a little one-roomed house, a
bothie, as she would have called it in the language
of the country, taking care to preserve an opening
at her mouth through which she could breathe. In
this position she had passed most of her time during
the snowstorm, often asleep and sometimes nibbling
the tufts of ling and bracken which rested close to
the opening of her hole. She had but lately issued
from 'it, attracted by the bright sunshine and wish-
ing for some variety in food. Her long isolation
had not raised her spirits, and she had just
indulged in the soliloquy we have mentioned when
she was startled by a voice behind her that seemed
to say, Gok, gok, gok-go back, go back, go back,"
and there strutted forward out of the firwood a bird
more than a foot long, covered with reddish brown
feathers spotted with black. It had a pretty brown
eye, above which grew a bright red comb, and its
legs and feet were adorned with feathers of a
whitish hue. He was followed by a smaller bird,
not unlike him, but of a darker shade, with white
spots on her breast and on the tips of some of her
wing feathers.






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


"A fine clay," began the grouse-cock, for he it
was. I congratulate you, my friend, on the ad-
vance of the season."
I don't see much cause, I'm sure," answered
the hare. Just as you came up I was reflecting
what an unsatisfactory thing life is, and am
astounded to find you have spirits left to crow."
Well, that's just as you please to take it," said
the grouse. "I rather go in for a short life and a
merry one, and how could it be so if I was always
thinking of contingencies that may never arrive ?
I'm sure we have as much right as anyone to be
apprehensive, haven't we, my dear ? he said, turn-
ing to his mate; "and yet here we are, you see,
alive and crowing," and he gave a few more struts
and a loud crow.
"I know the time isn't quite up yet," he con-
tinued, but it's close upon it, when we may call
our lives our own for a little space, and we may as
well enjoy it, so my wife and I feel our spirits up
this bright morning. Now you've been spending
too much time alone, I daresay, and have got low;
but I'll lay my red comb against that tuft of hair
you call your tail that you haven't as many hair-
breadth escapes to tell of as I have."
I don't know how to lay anything, not even an
egg," said the poor little hare.
That's not what he means," said the hen
grouse; "it's only a foolish phrase he has picked
up from poor human beings who have been about a






A HIGHLAND TALE.


good deal lately, and has no sense. You shouldn't
say it, my dear, for of course you wouldn't like to
lose your comb if you were found wrong."
"I'll lay-I mean, I'm sure," said the grouse,
"you don't know what the drive' is."
No," said the hare.
"I thought not. Well then, I'll tell you. It's
the shabbiest, nastiest trick that wretched creature
man has invented this long time. In good old days
there was something like fair-play between our race
and theirs. The odds were pretty well divided.
They had guns and dogs, to be sure, but they cared
for something more than merely killing us. They
wandered about over hills and through glens as much
to admire the scenery as anything else, and those of
us who kept our eyes and ears open had a chance
of escape. But now-why, it's murder, and nothing
less. I'll just tell you what happened last autumn.
One fine breezy morning, I and my party-for we
had been so bothered with being shot at we agreed
to divide into packs for mutual defence-I and my
party, I say, had taken our breakfast, and were
settled down comfortably for the day on a warm
hill-side amongst the heather. My grandfather, a
sharp old bird, was among us, and we trusted him
pretty much. He knew a dog's step thirty or forty
yards away, and in former days, with such as he to
lead us, we might have defied a field of men and
dogs, but now all his wits were of no more use than
if he had been in a cage. He gave the signal to fly,






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


and started himself, grandmother after him, then
the whole lot of us; but whichever way we looked,
there was the enemy-dogs, boys, or men behind
every bush and rock. On, on we went in the only
open direction, and what did we come to ? Actually
a partyof men sitting at their ease on the top of a hill,
each in a little bothie to shelter him from the wind
and rain, smoking and drinking wine and whisky,
with their guns all cocked beside them. Bang,
bang, they went. Of course, poor grandfather fell
first, and happily for him, as he was alone and
gave a good aim, he was shot dead, and so were a
few others; but by far the greater number of us
were only wounded, and fluttered painfully some
way further, out of the reach of men and dogs, and
sinking among stones or heather, lingered for a
time in hopeless agony, and died. We saw many a
one afterwards, as we made our way back next
morning to our usual haunts, the ravens and
crows picking their poor bones. I was at the tail of
the pack, and had time to see the whole trick, so I
dropt down behind a furze-bush, and signed to my
wife to join me : and do you think I'd stir for all
their efforts ? Not a bit; so here I am to this day.
I won't boast, but I do say it's half the battle to
know what they're up to, and I call it a very shabby
way of doing business."
It is really dreadful," said the hare. "I never
met with anything of that kind, certainly, but I
know numbers of my race are hunted singly, and





A HIGHLAND TALE.


I'm not sure if that is not as bad or worse than
being driven in flocks."
At this moment a loud rattling shot reverberated
over the moor. It was the keeper," who had been
out with his dogs, firing off his gun on going home
for the night.
I think we may as well go, my dear," said the
grouse-cock to his mate, and whirr! he went into the
wood, whilst the hare, as quick as thought, retreated
to her bush. The sun had sunk behind the purple
hills, whose irregular outline showed dark and clear
against the frosty sky. A few faint streaks of gold
were fast disappearing in the west, and as the
light rapidly faded, one diamond speck after
another became apparent in the heavens. It was
not till she heard the. .
woodcock's croaking
cry as he rose from ...-.--!.
his covert, and, -i''
wheeling in the air, "-
preparedfor his even "
ing visit to the feed-
ing ground, that our '
little friend again '
ventured to emerge '.' .'
from her place of
concealment.





AWAY ON THE MOORLAND


CHAPTER III.

Age is a dreary thing when left alone :
Left to the silent hearth, the vacant home,
Where no sweet voices sound, no light steps come,
Disturbing memory from its heaviness ;-
Wo for such lot !" L. E. L.

T so happened that the next day was Satur-
day, always a half-holiday at the school
of Ardmonadh as in most others, and
the children were expected home earlier
than usual. Owing, however, to their vagrant and
loitering propensities it was generally. an hour
after their time before Robbie and Jessie pre-
sented themselves at Torrbuidhe. To-day their
mother was on the watch for them, as she wished
to send them on an errand, and they were greeted
by her thus: Ye're owre late the day, bairns.
WVhat's hindered ye ? Ye'll be to be clever (quick),
.and go west with this to auld Maggie. I canna
want (do without) Lexy, an' the puir body's sair
troubled with the koch (cough); and she put
into their hands a tin can of barley bree, or broth,
a basket with half a dozen fresh eggs, and a wee
pailie of milk, which at that season of the year
is unusually scarce in the Highlands. Mary Ross's






A HIGHLAND TALE.


traditions dated from a time when parish relief was
unknown in the north, and the old and helpless, if
they had not their own to support them, were
considered a sacred charge by all who professed
and called themselves Christians." There were few,
however, to whom her children would not have been
more willing messengers of relief than the old
woman to whom they were now sent. Her name
was Margaret Munro, but she was commonly known
as Muckle Meg," from a tradition of her great
stature, which age had now considerably dimin-
ished. From the practice of carrying burdens of
wood, meal, &c., on her back, she was much bent,
and had won the new appellation of the auld wife
o' the Doune," her little black hut being situated at
the foot of the hill bearing that name.
Poor old Meg had once been happy with a guid-
man and bairns," but the former had long been
dead, and of the latter most had also been taken,
and the rest scattered from her-some married and
some beyond the seas." To all intents and pur-
poses she was alone in the world. She could claim
a distant relationship with the Rosses, for which
reason they were the more careful to supply her
with any little comforts she might need; but, as we
before said, their children, though they stood too
much in awe of their parents to show reluctance to
the errand, would have preferred any other twice
the distance, for-truth must be spoken-Meg bore
the character through all the country-side of tam-






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


pering with forbidden arts-in plain words, of being
a ban-bhuidseach,'"* namely, a witch. Hardly
anyone boldly avowed this belief, but mysterious
looks were interchanged when strange circum-
stances concerning her were alluded to, which all
agreed to be unaccountable from any natural
causes. Among other suspicious facts, a hare, all
draggled and travel-stained, had been seen entering
the byret at John Mackay's farm near Sith-
Bhruach, 1 and issuing forth after a certain time,
retreated in the direction of the Doune, and the
said John Mackay's best cow was found from that
time to have lost her milk. Again, Meg had bor-
rowed from James Macbean's wife at Torrunnach
a market basket in which that good woman
had been wont to carry to market unexceptionable
butter that had long borne away the palm in the
district for its quality. Meg had been seen gather-
ing and filling it with herbs whose properties were
best known to herself, and since the basket had
been returned to its owner, no butter conveyed in it
had ever been found fit for use. But, most decisive
of all, Meg had once allowed herself to be entrapped,
with, we must own, inexplicable heedlessness, whilst
disporting herself under the disguise of a large
black beetle, by James Macbean himself, who, to
punish her for her various acts of mischief, detained

Pronounced Ban-vootshae/c. t Cowshed.
+ Pronounced Shee-vrooach : The Fairies' Bank."






A HIGHLAND TALE.


her in this shape for some time in a wooden box.
After this, who could question the fact about which
the less that was said the better.
What had gained the old woman her reputation
in the first instance cannot be stated-possibly her
age, poverty, and lonely way of life : more likely,
in combination with these facts, the only bad spirit
with which she really was afflicted, viz. an evil
temper-one which, probably, she shared with
many of her accusers. Whether she was sufficiently
enlightened to be aware of her failing and struggle
against it, may be doubted, but it is certain that
it was co-existent with sincere religious belief and
much kindliness of heart, though the latter, we fear,
was chiefly manifested to those who befriended
her. Her faith was deeply tinged with superstition,
as is that of many of the most pious Highlanders,
and it was from no doubt of the -supernatural or of
the malignity of the powers of evil that she re-
mained without dread in her lonely hut through the
long dark nights of winter, listening to the wind
moaning through the pine woods or the rushing of
the mountain burns, swollen into torrents-sounds
that easily suggest, to minds trained in such beliefs,
the presence of invisible beings. Her feeling may
be described in words reported to have been used by
another lonely dweller on the mountains :*-" I am
no stranger to sights and noises of another world,

Scenes and Legends : Hugh Miller.






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND J


but I have been taught that God is nearer to me
than any other spirit can be, and so have learnt not
to be afraid." And so she stayed on, year after
year, in the old tumble-down hut. She loved it for
its own sake, and once, when a kind friend offered
to pay the rent of a comfortable room in the village
three or four miles off, if she would remove there
so as to be within reach of neighbours, she declined,
saying she "had passed through many sore places
and many sweet places in that bothie, and her
heart clung to the old spot." It is but just to
William and Mary Ross to say they did not share
their neighbours' opinion of poor old Meg. They
had known her in her happier days. She had a
distant claim on their friendliness, and as they had
been always good and kind to her, she had ever
shown them her most favourable side. Robbie and
Jess accordingly started on their charitable mis-
sion, and soon came in sight of the hut. It was a
lonely, weird-looking spot. Its mud walls were
still firm and water-tight, but the thatching was
very old, and had given way in various places, so
that the rain and snow were no strangers to the
interior. The two rooms of which it boasted were
dark, and crowded with sundry relics of better
days in the way of furniture. The winter store of
coals and potatoes lay in different corner heaps on
the floor; the whole rendered more indistinct to
any who might enter by the smoke, which the
wind would not always allow to ascend to the






A HIGHLAND TALE.


hole in the roof through which it was intended to
escape.
The children had just turned the shoulder of "the
Doune which hid the cottage from the view of the
road, when the yelping of a dog as if in pursuit
of something, attracted their attention. Turning
round they saw Kennie Macphie, and a man known
as "little Duncan," from his stature, the underkeeper
or trapper. The trapper was brother-in-law to the
boy, and nothing was more to Kennie's taste than
to be allowed to accompany him in his expeditions
after vermin," as they were called; and at this
late part of the season, bagging a few hares on their
own account was a recognized privilege.
They were watching with great interest the pro-
ceedings of Kennie's dog, a small, wiry-haired,
yellow animal, of by no means prepossessing ap-
pearance. It was hunting for something among a
clump of furze bushes, and uttering the short bark
given by such dogs in scenting any object of pursuit.
Suddenly a small white creature was seen to dart
from beneath the cover; no other natural place of
concealment was near, and finding itself hard
pressed by the dog, it rushed straight in at the half-
open door of old Meg's house.
Did na I tell ye it was the cailleach* herself' ? "
said Kennie, with a triumphant grin at his com-
panion.

Old woman.






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


"Oh, Robbie," said Jessie, "it's yon bonnie white
hare, or another like it; I hope Meg winna put it
out;" and forgetting her usual caution in approach-
ing the old woman's house, she ran up and reached
it before her brother or the abettors of the dog could
arrive. Meg was not ill-pleased to see the queani-
chan," as she called her. She knew Mary
Ross's bairns always came on some errand of
kindness to her, and she readily entered into her
wish that the poor little hare should be protected
from its pursuers. Independently of any humane
feelings, she had a special enmity to the "gamers,"
for had they not destroyed her poor "pushan?"-an
old grey cat who for eight long years had shared
her solitude, and made her feel there was one living
thing whose wants she could supply, and which gave
her affection and gratitude in return.
It did not at all astonish the new-comers to see
Meg appear in her natural form at the open door
in order to close it. Of course she had had time to
doff her transformation unseen by them since she
had run in, in the shape of. the hare; even Robbie
had his private suspicions on the subject, but it did
not become a man of Duncan Macquean's position
to recognize the fact; so he merely said-
There's a white hare run intil yer hoose, gude
wife ; ye'll let us see for her, I ken."
Na a bit," said the old woman sturdily, as she

Little girl.






A HIGHLAND TALE.


held the door in her hand. It's no me that '11 let
a puir craturie be hunted oot o' its life, when it
taks shelter under my roof."
Och! that's just nonsense, woman," said the
trapper, as he tried to pass her into the cottage.
"Duncan Macquean, I dar ye!" said Meg, some
of her old spirit rising at this attempt to oppose her
in her own domain.
The man stopped; he did not care to provoke one
reputed to have supernatural powers, and besides,
what was the use, when there could be no reason-
able doubt that he was confronting the lost hare
in the person of the old woman herself ?
Come awa, Kennie," he said to the boy; it's
unco late, and there's nae use bothering the auld
wife.-I did na mean to offend ye," he said depre-
catingly to Meg.
Meg acknowledged his apology somewhat gruffly,
but was too well satisfied to see them depart to
prolong the altercation, and only waited to admit
Robbie, who entered it cannot be denied with some
misgivings, before closing her door. Rob was
reassured, however, before they took their departure
for home, by seeing the poor little hare, who had
taken refuge in one of the darkest recesses of the
interior, and was crouched immoveable from terror,
whilst Meg was also present in proprid person.
Jessie's tender-hearted sympathy had overcome her
fears.






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


CHAPTER IV.

"He bursts the thickets, glances thro' the glades,
And plunges deep into the wildest wood;
His once so vivid nerves,
So full of buoyant spirit, now no more
Inspire the course, but fainting breathless toil
Sick seizes on his heart."
THOMson.
T was long before our little friend-for
it was she, indeed-could venture out
of her hiding-place, though Meg pur-
posely left a bit of her door open after
the children had departed, to allow of its going
west," as she expressed it. At length she sniffed
the fresh air coming in, and crept cautiously
towards it. The open moor having become, as she
thought, most insecure, she directed her steps
towards the fir wood, near her former home, and
reaching it by short stages from bush to bush,
arrived nearly spent with fatigue and terror. It
cannot be surprising that her thoughts reverted
longingly to the happy land which she imagined
afforded a safe refuge to all who had been fortunate
enough to reach it.






A HIGHLAND TALE.


She did not know it, but she could not have
chosen a much more secure asylum than the wood,
for there were not many licensed sportsmen within
reach likely to molest her during the daytime, and
at night its reputation was such that none of the
class who indulged unlawfully in hunting would
willingly go through it.
She had just settled herself to rest, after all her
agitation, under a clump of withered fern, when a
rustling among the underwood near again made
her heart beat. Looking out from her shelter, she
saw an animal a great deal larger than herself, but
of so gentle an aspect that her fear soon subsided.
It was a little more than two feet in height, and
was covered with a coat of fine but thick dark grey






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


hair.* Its legs were slender, its neck long and of
a very elegant,, graceful shape. Its head was orna-
mented, in addition to a pair of soft silky ears, with
two horns, which rose straight from its forehead;
but it was the expression of gentle melancholy in
its eyes which dissipated our little friend's alarm,
and encouraged her to accost the stranger.
The latter had sunk down among the ferns with
a sigh of mingled relief and sadness, when the hare
raised herself on her hind feet, thus discovering
herself to its view, and by that mysterious mode
of communication which undeniably exists among
animals, and which can in some measure be inter-
preted by those who view them as sentient beings,
endued with capacities for feeling pain or pleasure,
inquired if it was suffering.
Suffering, indeed! said the poor young roe,
"how can I but suffer ? This morning I was a
member of a happy, united 'bevy,' of deer; now I
am a lonely, weary wanderer in the woods."
Have you been hunted, then ? asked the hare,
in whose mind sportsmen were the most obvious
source of all the woes of existence.
"Yes," said the roe; "we were all five of us
browsing contentedly on what little herbage we
could find at this season, enjoying now and then-
and where's the harm ?-a nibble at some of the

This is the winter coat of the roe-deer; in summer its colour
is a bright reddish brown.






A HIGHLAND TALE.


young larches, though they are scarcely advanced
enough yet to be worth our notice, when we were
aware of the stealthy approach of the enemy. We
tried to escape in the only direction which, by our
sense of smell, we knew to be free from danger;
but, alas this was their stratagem. As soon as
we advanced we were conscious of being exposed to
some terrible danger. In fact, we were surrounded.
Some of us 'doubled back,' as we call it. We
separated, but I, being still young and inexperienced
-I am not yet twelve months old- "
Just my age," interposed the hare.
"I kept near my dam," resumed the deer, "for
though I am no longer dependent on her, the
tender anxiety she always showed for me induced
me to trust very much to her guidance. Now my
grief is that it has cost her her life."
How so ? asked the hare.
She saw me flying and heard the shouts of the
hunters, and, forgetful of her own safety, which she
might have secured, she bounded after me. A shot
was aimed at me, which no doubt would have been
fatal, but in her haste to rejoin me she came be-
tween me and the enemy, and received the charge
in her shoulder. I turned at that instant, hearing
her sharp cries of pain, and saw her halt, wounded
and bleeding. Never shall I forget the sad, de-
spairing look she gave me; I would have run to her
side, but another savage yell broke on my ear and
made me start aside into the thicket. I lost sight
c2






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


of her, and having found a sheltered spot, remained
concealed and afraid to move, until the sound of
the hunt died away and left me in darkness and
solitude. When I was sure all was still, I ventured
to seek a more comfortable resting-place, and have
only just arrived here."
This sad tale did not give the hare a more cheer-
ing view of life, but, as is often the case among a
higher race of beings, her efforts to cheer the
stranger reflected comfort on herself, and the two
were drawn together by a fellow-feeling in mis-
fortune and danger. Having mutually ex-
changed confidences, worn out by the terrors of
the day, they rested for some hours in their
several forms, lulled by the "sough of the
wind, which now moaned through the pine woods,
and enjoying the sense of security which the dark-
ness afforded.
The moon had not yet sunk to rest, and a
faint light gleamed through the wood, when they
were both aroused by a strange cry overhead, and
a shrill note, both of which proceeded from a bird
of rather a large size, which alighted beside them;
after describing various eccentric wheelings and
circles in the air. It was followed in a second or two
by several others of its own kind. Their plumage
was brown and black, speckled with grey; their
beaks very long and narrow in proportion to their
size, strong and rounded at the tip, their feet short
and stout. The hare had no difficulty in recognis-






A HIGHLAND TALE.


ing them as woodcocks, having often observed
them from her former resting-place, pursuing their
morning or evening flight. One remained near
after the rest had dispersed to their various retreats
for the day, and she ventured to remark on their
boldness in leaving the shelter of the woods and
wandering so far in search of food.
No great boldness," returned he, "when all the
world's asleep. It would be rash, I grant you, in
daylight, but our nature is shy and cautious, and
we have been trained to remain in concealment all
the daytime, and only go abroad in the evening.
Even this precaution does not save us at some
seasons of the year. We are watched for during
the long summer evenings, and many of us fall
victims to man's love of destruction. But where
or how can it be avoided ? We come from a far-
off and much colder country across the sea to the
north-most of us, that is to say-where the people
are not so fond of shooting us as they are here: but
we are subject there to another kind of persecution;
our nests are robbed of the eggs in such numbers
that we found we were likely to become what I
believe is called an extinct species.' This is a.
grand distinction, as in that case stuffed specimens,
of us would be greatly prized by a learned section
of the human race, known as 'naturalists;' but to
our minds it is far more satisfactory to perpetuate
our family, and therefore many of us have deter-
mined to stay here and bring up our children in






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


the more southern regions, which hitherto we have
only visited during the cold season."
"Alas then," said the poor hare, "no country,
however distant, can afford security to life. I
thought that you happy creatures, whose wings
could carry you over sea as well as land, had the
power of selecting a safe asylum."
No spot on earth where man can set his foot
can be deemed safe," returned the woodcock, but
some places are better than others ; for instance, at
a little distance from this wood there is a district
further removed from the haunts of men, where
you might enjoy comparative freedom from danger.
I observed it in the course of my journey hither.
It did not suit us to stay there, as there was not
much marshy ground soft enough for our bills to
penetrate and find the worms and insects needful
for our existence."
All eagerness and attention, the roebuck, as well
as the hare, besought direction how to proceed to
this desired spot, while the woodcock described in
glowing terms a retired hill loch, out of the ordinary
track, surrounded by woods and rocks; but there
are open patches of ground," he added, "where you
can find abundance of heather and fern, and on the
loch itself are many small islands to which you can
easily escape in the event of your retreat being
discovered."
No such refreshing tidings had reached our little
hare for a long time, and she was still more rejoiced






A HIGHLAND TALE. 89

when the roebuck said it recalled to his mind what
his recent terror had made him entirely forget, that
his mother had once told him of the existence of
such a place, to which, if hard pressed, she advised
him to resort.
"You had better stay a little longer where you
are, all the same," said their friend the woodcock.
" The wood is not likely to be beaten again soon,
and it's cold work travelling in this weather."
The first streaks of dawn were now taking the
place of the moonlight. The woodcock betook him-
self to his covert for the day, and the whole party
subsided into the stillness of rest.





AWAY O01 THE MOORLAND ;


CHAPTER V.

Of all the birds on bush or tree,
Commend me to the owl."

SIME passed on. The mild frosty weather
that brightened the early part of Febru-
ary, and which so often gives that month
a peculiar charm in the north, gave way,
and a dull grey sky and piercing east wind, often
bringing with it showers of sleet and rain, made
man, bird, and beast keep close to whatever shelter
they could find; so our poor little friends did not
feel disposed to try for new adventures, especially
as for the present they found sufficient sustenance
in the wood around them.
The mountain hare was not alone in her longing
visions of a brighter, happier country. Robbie and
Jess, in their observations on the habits of the
various birds they saw around them, had their
interest greatly excited by their yearly migrations.
They loved to hail the the first grating note of the
corn-rail, and listened with delight to the lavrock,"
when it anew hurled itself aloft to greet the sun.
The little redstart could not escape their detec-
tion, with all its innocent manceuvres to mislead
them from its nest; and the twitter and call of
the restless fly-catcher, as it skimmed through the






A HIGHLAND TALE.


air, was a challenge renewed to search out its
secluded abode, in a hole of a stone dyke, or under
the shelter of some thick clump of brushwood.
They knew that all these birds "flitted," to use the
term familiar to them as expressing a change of
residence, in the autumn, and returned in the spring
to their old haunts; but their knowledge being in
great measure limited to what their eyes beheld,
they were obliged to supplement it by speculation.
That there were lands ayont the sea," to which
their feathered allies were attracted during cold
gloomy days, they were well aware; but for what
they were like they had to draw on their imagi-
nation. Robbie's principal authority on foreign
travels was "Robinson Crusoe; and therefore there
arose before his mind's eye an island in mid-ocean,
covered with stately trees, which were peopled with
birds of magnificent plumage, whilst rocks and
caverns excited the curiosity of an explorer, and
afforded shelter when needed from the innumerable
savages, to whose visitations the country was
liable. Jessie, whose naturally poetic mind had
been greatly enamoured of the "Pilgrim's Progress"
-her father's favourite study next to his Bible,
and which he often read in Gaelic to his children,
pictured to herself a land "whose air was very
sweet and pleasant," where those who passed
through it "heard continually the singing of birds,
and saw every day the flowers appear in the earth,
and heard the voice of the turtle in the land;" where






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


"the sun shineth night and day," and there were
goodly vineyards and gardens, "the nature of the
fruit of which was to go down so sweetly as to
cause the lips of them that are asleep to speak."
Many were the amicable discussions carried on,
on the relative probability of these two pictures,
which generally ended in Robbie's asserting his
intention of testing it by personal investigation,
promising when he had discovered the blissful spot to
return and fetch Jessie, that they might enjoy it in
each other's society. Some such conversation had
been induced one evening, a few weeks later than
the period at which our story began, by a sorrowful
expedition undertaken in search of Jessie's cat, a
valued but, like many of its kind, unfortunate
animal, which could not take the air and exercise
its instinct led it to seek without exciting the
gravest apprehensions for its safety. Now one
charm which Robbie and Jess united in believing to
appertain to the land of their romance was the
comparative immunity from suffering and persecu-
tion enjoyed there by the animals that were so
happy as to reach it, and the fate they feared
might have befallen poor Thomie," naturally led
their thoughts to their favourite topic.
They had come to the usual conclusion, and were
passing near the wood in which our friends had
taken refuge, when they were startled by the cry of
some animal in pain.
"That's Thomie's voice, I'm certain sure," said






A HIGHLAND TALE.


Jessie, as she darted off in the direction from which
the cry proceeded, followed by Robbie.
"Kennie, ye'll no touch him," she shrieked, as
she saw that lover of mischief preparing to give a
coup) de grdce to an animal struggling in a trap.
The boy started at the voice; he had not been able
to resist the temptation of visiting the traps, some
of which were private arrangements of his own,
which he cared not to discover to his official brother-
in-law; but it had been a hard struggle to enter the
wood even in daylight, and he soon lost his pre-
sence of mind.
Haud, Jessie Ross, ye mauna hinder me; ye
ken the gentry's very partickler on Duncan to rid
the woods of a' thae wild cats, and he bid me kill
every one I catched."
"It's no a wild cat, ye ken that weel, Kennie;
our Thomie does na hurt the game, for we never
let him oot o' nichts. Be canny noo; my puir
beastie," she said to the luckless cat, which in
spite of its agony showed it knew her voice, and
ceased its self-tormenting efforts.
I dinna believe ye ken a marten frae a r.-i i t."
gin ye see them," chimed in Robbie, so it's no use
for ye pretending to be sae wise tending the game,
Kennie Macphie. Ye care for nothing but jest
destruction and cruelty."
The boys glared at each other, and there is no


* Stoat.






AWAY ON THE MIOORLAND;


telling how the dispute might have ended had not
Jessie and Rob been suddenly backed by an unex-
pected but powerful ally, in the person of Muckle
Meg. She had hobbled up to gather a few sticks
for her fire, and was attracted to the spot by the
children's voices.
Is that what ye're after ev'n noo, Kennie, ye
worthless loon ? said she. Let go the cratur
and be aff wi' ye.-D'ye hear me ?" she con-
tinued, raising her voice as the lad made a feeble
attempt to outbrave the party. It was a luckless
day brought them that owns ye to these parts, and
mony's the one that wishes ye were far away."
The uneasiness Kennie felt at Meg's sudden ap-
pearance, added to his previous superstitious fears
at being within the precincts of the wood, was at
this instant brought suddenly to a climax. From
the recesses of the wood beyond their view there
came forth a sound between a shout and a yell, so
unearthly and portentous that the children's faces
blanched with terror.
As the "Waugh-ho-waugh-ho was repeated,
the noise reverberated from the trees around,
and succeeding it arose a stifled shriek, as of
some human being in the agonies of suffocation.
Kennie was fairly vanquished. Not a doubt exist-
ing in his mind that if he stayed he should instantly
behold some of Meg's supernatural allies whom she


* Boy.






A HIGHLAND TALE.


had summoned to her aid against him, he turned
and fled with a speed it is not too much to say
could scarcely be rivalled by that of the roebuck or
the hare. And far and wide among the cottages of
Ardmonadh was it rumoured that night that Kennie
Macphie had been well-nigh catched by the
mischief in the wood east by the Doune, and no
wonder for an ill-conditioned lad as he was, speirin'
aboot whar he'd no call to be."
Kennie was unpopular with others besides Meg.
Robbie and Jess could scarcely resist the impulse
to follow him, though a second thought of the poor
animal at their feet restrained them.
"Bairns, bairns," said the old woman as she
detected the idea, "what call hae ye for to flee?
Let him gae, he carries wi' him a voice that '11 no
let him rest gin he does na mend his ways; but
oh, bairns, yon speerit has nae power to harm
them that's in the richt road."
In her own mind Meg had no more doubt than
Kennie that the yell arose from no earthly form;
but, as we before said, she had confidence in a
higher power, and being naturally a courageous
woman of strong nerves, she was not easily daunted.
She helped the children to release the unhappy cat,
which had been quiet from the moment it saw
Jessie, but when they took it up they found their
rescue had not been in time to save the poor foot,

An indefinite term for any species of malicious invisible agent.






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


which hung broken and bleeding. The iron prongs
of the trap were arranged so as to pierce and
fasten down the lower part of the limb in such a
manner, that independently of the suffering caused
by the animal's instinctive struggles to free itself,
it could not fail either to dislocate or break its
leg. It had been already a day and a night in this
hapless condition, and now that it was released
lay exhausted in Jessie's arms, uttering now and
then a plaintive mew, as if appealing for sympathy.
Cruel as was its lot, it was happiness compared
with that of many of its kind, since it was restored
to the tender care of its friends, by whom it was so
carefully nursed as to be able at length to limp
about its dwelling, though the poor foot never
regained its natural form.
But whence proceeded the sound which struck
terror so opportunely into the mind of its would-be
destroyer ?
"He's come, he's come," gasped the woodcock,
as he scuttled up to the spot in which the roebuck


This is no exaggeration even in lawful traps. Everyone knows
that the trapping on an estate is left to the discretion of the
keeper; where there are two, to the under keeper, called for that
reason a "trapper." If he should happen to be a careful, con-
siderate man, he will look at his traps every day and release his
victims, usually by putting them out of pain, to the vexation and
loss of their owners; but in many places it is notorious that the
traps are left unvisited for two or even three days, so that the
pangs of thirst and starvation are added to those of a pierced and
dislocated limb.





A HIGHLAND TALE.


and hare were --*-* ---" ---.-
crouching. "For :
your lives don't
stir."
"Who is come?" .
asked both at .1
once.
"Hush! don't
speak above your
breath, or you're -
dead beasts," f"
said he; and .
even as he spoke '
a sound so awful --
and tremendous
burst forth from
the tree above'
them, that their
hearts almost
ceased to beat.
It needed no ex- .
hortation from the
woodcock, now, to
induce them to be quiet. The voice was the
same that had overcome the renowned Kennie;
and when they could bring themselves to look
through the interstices of their covert, they saw
that it proceeded from a huge bird, which had
taken up its station on a branch of a fir-tree close
by. So strange and alarming was its appearance






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


that it fascinated their gaze. It was more than
two feet long, its plumage of a rich reddish-brown,
streaked with black, and of a lighter colour under-
neath ; but what gave it its portentous appearance
was its head, which was ornamented by two plumes
of feathers, shading its eyes, and drooping on each
side of its face. This gave it a look of stern, unre-
lenting fierceness, which made its beholders literally
quail with terror.
"It's the uhu-the great eagle owl," whispered
the woodcock. I've seen him before in the
north."
Strix bubo," said the bird in a deep hollow
tone.
What does that mean?" asked the hare of
her companions.
"Hush answered the woodcock.
Strix bubo," repeated the bird in a louder
voice. "Yes, that was the name he gave me.
He said I was a rare specimen, and he looked
at me for a long time. Strix bubo-it sounds
very grand."
At this instant the little party under cover heard
a suppressed chuck-chuck near them, and looking
round saw the grousecock and his mate. They
had crouched awestruck at the first sight and
sound of the uhu, but their natural vivacity was
irrepressible, especially when the owl began his
soliloquy.
"Pray, pray don't offend him," said the wood-






A HIGHLAND TALE.


cock. "Happily for us, he's somewhat through-
other* in his mind, as they say here. He has had
a great deal of attention paid him by a man who
passed through the wood to-day, looking at and
giving strange names to everything, and he's a
little 'carried off his feet,' so to speak, or he
-..:.11 be too absorbed to look for us. I can tell
you, in the far north I have seen and heard doings
of his that would make your blood run cold.
Many of my own kindred, and yours, my worthy
friend," turning to the grouse, "have had their
lives cut short by his talons-yes, literally cut short,
for he has but to take you in his claw, so "-
suiting the action to the word-" and your breath
is gone. You would have no chance, little one,".
he said to the hare, "and you," addressing the
roebuck, "might receive serious injury. In your
infancy he would have found you an easy prey."
"I couldn't help thinking how funny he would
look if he were driven,' said the grouse.
"I strongly advise you to take no liberties,"
said the woodcock, or you will bitterly rue it.
He's not accustomed to meet with any want of
respect, or with contradiction or rivalry except
from the eagle; for in his grand wild native
country he reigns almost supreme."
"And why does he come here, if he has such a
flue country of his own ? asked the hare.

Confused.
D





AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


"I really never had the opportunity of asking
him," answered the woodcock; and if I had,
should not probably be here to give you the
answer ; but you," he added, turning to the roebuck,
" might discover yourself without any risk, for
you're much -beyond the age at which he is
dangerous to your race, and gratify us all by
getting an answer to the question."
The roebuck, after a little reflection, consented if
he might address the uhu from behind, "for though
I don't suppose he can shoot me with his eyes," said
he, yet they look so very awful that I believe they
might quite take away my presence of'mind."
Accordingly he gently emerged from the thicket,
so as to stand at the back of the owl, and pro-
ceeded to address him. What, then, was his sur-
prise and consternation to see the head of the
gigantic bird slowly turn without any corresponding
movement taking place in the body, until its face
looked over its back as securely and comfortably
as if it had been in its natural position. This
unusual performance quite dispersed the train of
ideas in the roebuck's head, and he had to pause in
order to recollect the mode of address he had in-
tended to adopt.
"Well! said Strix Bubo, at length.
"I-we-that is-I," stammered the roebuck,
"have never seen you here before."
That's no reason you shouldn't see me now, is
it ? said the owl snappishly.






A HIGHLAND TALE.


"Oh, no! No," returned the roebuck, "but,
may I ask, do you like it ? "
If I didn't like it, I shouldn't have come," was
the answer. "I do pretty much as I like-not
always, though. I should like to eat you, but
you're a little too big, so I can't."
At this address the roebuck shrank into the
thicket, till little more than his nose was visible.
"I have often tasted little ones of your kind in
Norway and Sweden, and of the stag and reindeer
too; but you're the nicest," continued the uhu.
Young calves also, and dogs don't come amiss,
not to speak of the capercailzie, the buzzard, and
other large birds."
The poor roebuck was dumbfoundered at this
enumeration, and could not have resumed the
conversation had not the owl done so himself by
saying-
"You ask if I like this country. Well, no!
though it suits me to come just now because it's
rather warmer than my own. I do not like it as
well. The mountains here are not so grand, there
are not the same rocky precipices and inaccessible
ledges where I can bid defiance to all who would
molest me. The forests are not so dark and deep,
and my voice consequently does not sound nearly
so well."
"Let me venture to assure you," said the
roebuck, "that your voice sounds not only grand
but awful."






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


"Really," said the uhu, slightly flattered, "I
shouldn't have thought so in this little wood; but
I can tell you it's nothing to the echoes I can
awaken with it in my native land. There, I
believe, at least I have been told, by giving a
prolonged and doleful-sounding hoot, I can, aided
by the darkness of night and the depths of the
forests, inspire such terror in the minds of poor
weak men, that they dare not come within miles of
my habitation."
Oh, that I could produce the same effect! "
sighed the roebuck.
"I have been trying it a little to-night," said the
owl, and rather think I have given a start to
some people who came prying about here; not like
my old gentleman who called me Strix bubo.'
I am sure he is a rare bird himself, or he wouldn't
have recognized me so easily."
I wish you would drive away all who come in
the shape of men here," said the roebuck, who
began to feel quite familiar.
I have little doubt I could," said the owl,
" only give me notice; but I don't think I shall
stay here long. My mate is somewhere about,
gone to see what she can find; but there's wonder-
fully little choice here, so we begin to think we
may as well go back. I'll do my best, as I move
about, in the way of scaring people."
At this moment another loud prolonged "Waugh
ho-o-a echoed through the wood; and,






A HIGHLAND TALE. 53

answering with a shout which made the little
crowd of auditors in the thicket quail to the very
core of their hearts, the eagle-owl flapped his
heavy wings and. sailed away, till he was lost to
sight in the now deepening gloom of evening.






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


CHAPTER VI.

"Deep in the woods as twilight darkens
Glades are red with the scented fire."

RADUALLY the lengthening days told of
the advance of Spring, though the cold
wind blowing over the snowy mountains
did not yet allow the sun's increasing in-
fluence to be felt. Still there were pleasant tokens
of a brighter time.
The larch trees, of which the greater part of the
wood was composed, were putting forth their shoots
and delicate pink cones, and our friend the roebuck,
we fear, was not quite guiltless in his attentions to
them, and to the bark of the younger trees, while
the birches and oaks, whose buddings were as yet
scarcely perceptible, did not escape his observation.
The hare made excursions to the neighboring
moor, and found the tender blades of furze and
heather very acceptable after the winter's scarcity.
The grouse strutted about more triumphantly
than ever, knowing the time of security had come;
and the woodcock performed his evening circles and
flights with more impunity and leisure.
Occasionally the community were startled by a
red glare at a distance, which lighted up the moor






A HIGHLAND TALE.


at nightfall, and by the distant sound of voices
wafted on the air, but the danger was not near
enough to arouse them to make any effort at self-
protection. Alarms from various sources, however,
still made life far from peaceful, and obliged them
to be continually on the alert.
One evening they perceived a movement in some
of the bushes, as if some large animal was slowly
creeping towards them. As it approached and be-
came visible, they saw, dragging its weary weight
along, a creature between two and three feet in
length, covered with long thick reddish hair, not
without a tinge of black and white. It had a sharp
nose, three-cornered upright ears, and clever twink-
ling eyes; the latter, however, were now half-closed,
as if the animal was worn out with fatigue and want
of sleep. Trailing behind it was a large brush-like
appendage, which appeared to be its tail. Which
of the little party could mistake for an instant their
hereditary enemy the fierce and bloodthirsty fox?
The hare, who now congratulated herself that with
the turn of the year her coat was fast reassuming its
pristine hue of bluish grey, cowered out of sight
under a thick clump of heather. She could have
fled even faster than the fox could follow, and there-
fore trusted in the first place to remaining unseen.
The roebuck, rather more confident in his size, yet
could not look without a shudder on the marauder
who had not hesitated to attack and carry off some
of his young relations the previous spring. His






00 AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;

winged neighbours were about to seek safety in flight,
when to their surprise the new-comer, in weak and
trembling tones, appealed to them for compassion :
Be not afraid of me, good friends," he said; "I
own I deserve your suspicions. My former deal-
ings with your respective kinds have not been what
they should be, but adversity is a severe teacher,
and in me you behold one who has learnt its hard
lessons. How is it possible for me, having just
suffered the agonies of persecution, ever again to
inflict the same on those weaker than myself ? I
was resting in my peaceful home under a sandy
hillock, a long distance from this wood, when sud-
denly a blinding, suffocating blaze constrained me
to fly, and the moment I emerged I became the
object of hot pursuit by men and dogs. Nothing
but my fleetness saved me, and glad was I to get
within the friendly shelter of your wood. Let me
lay my aching bones beside you." And so saying
he threw himself full length and gasping on the
ground.
Can it be true that he is so changed ? whis-
pered the roebuck to the grouse.
"You don't mean you're taken in by all that
rigmarole," answered the latter; if so, you're
younger than I thought you. Just look at his eyes;
he can see as well through the slit he's keeping
open as you or I can at any time."
So you have been in trouble, have you ? said
a voice from a tree above. And a pine-marten






A HIGHLAND TALE.


could be seen peering down from between the
branches.
A sudden start and gleam from the eyes showed
that the weary fugitive was not so spent in energy
after all, but he directly sank back into his helpless
attitude, still squinting up into the tree where sat
the graceful little creature confident of safety. It
was a foot and a half long, without measuring its
tail, which was about two-thirds of its length, and
was covered with thick hair of a pretty brown colour,
excepting that on its throat and breast, which was
orange. Its eyes were black and sparkling, and all
its movements light and graceful.
That comes of taking up one's quarters on the
ground," it said to the fox. Now look at me; I
have sat in a comfortable hole in a tree all the
winter, and unless they burnt the wood down they
couldn't get at me."
The fox opened his eyes a very little, and said in
a faint voice, I can scarcely hear what you say,
nor speak loud enough to answer you at that dis-
tance, but if you will come down we might perhaps
converse."
I dare say," answered the marten; catch me
doing anything of the sort. If it was only your
size, I could easily manage if I got hold of you by
the nose; I've got the better of bigger beasts than
you in that way, but you know very well there's no
trusting you."
Of which of them have we most reason to be






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


afraid ? asked the hare of the woodcock, who was
just preparing to go out.
They're nasty things, both of them, as far as
we're concerned," was the answer. Six of one
and half a dozen of the other, I should say. The
little one is less of a humbug, perhaps; but then
it steals about so quietly, you have no warning.
It has been living in the hollow of a tree some
way off, I know, and a nice cosy nest it made
for itself with dried leaves and grass. It's well
for us all it didn't find us out before, but now
that it has begun to go about we shall need to take
care."
"Oh me," said the poor hare, "when shall we
get to the end of our list of enemies? "
At this moment the sound of distant voices on the
moor met their ears. Their place of retreat was
not in the depth of the wood, but on the outskirts,
where it opened on the moor. To the voices suc-
ceeded a strange unnatural glow, which increased
till all the trees around were made visible, and even
their leafless branches lighted up. Deeper and
stronger it grew, and then came a roaring, crackling
noise, and looking through the wood they beheld the
moor as if in flames.
Immediate general flight was the instinct of all.
The fox's weary limbs resumed their natural alert-
ness, for even he was not proof against the terror
inspired by the awful spectacle. The pine-marten,
by a series of surprising leaps, hastened back to his






A HIGHLAND TALE.


tree in the distance. The grouse and the woodcock
fluttered far from the scene, and our two timid friends
rushed headlong on the first path that presented
itself. They entered the same track along which
we shall presently follow them; but let it not be
thought their alarm was needless.
The event which so rudely broke up the com-
munity, though of almost annual occurrence, was













frightful in its appearance even to more reasoning
creatures. The practice of setting fire to the old
dry branches of furze and heather has its plausible
defence in the necessity for encouraging the growth
of the young shoots, which are valuable as food for
cattle ; but it is well known that this is generally
a pretext eagerly seized on by juvenile lovers of
mischief, to cause a conflagration which sometimes
gets beyond control, and causes considerable
damage to property.






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


So it was in the present case. Kennie Macphie,
who, when he had recovered his scattered senses,
keenly resented Meg's untimely appearance to frus-
trate the gratification of his tastes, was inspired
with the bright idea that the season was approach-
ing when the moor might be fired with impu-
nity, and then, if the bushes were judiciously
selected near her bothie, it would give the auld
wife a warming." He communicated his intention
of making a bonfire to some kindred spirits, who at
once entered into the plan, but he did not reveal
his ulterior object of frightening poor old Meg, for,
to do them justice, there were not many boys in the
district who would deliberately have seconded the
idea. They liked a famous blaze, that was all, and
it was delightful to feel it might be done without
fear of prohibition or reprimand from any authority,
for until the middle of the month of March it was
tolerated for the reason before mentioned.
Accordingly, one evening about dusk, the dwellers
on the low ground saw jets of red flame shooting
up from the dark moor in several different places,
like miniature volcanoes.
Everyone knew it was the scholars firing the
moor," as it was expressed, but they were not pre-
pared for what ensued. Two or three of the ignited
bushes became united in flame, and the wind sud-
denly rising, the fire spread for a considerable
distance along some valuable shootings, much to
the consternation of neighboring gamekeepers, and






A HIGHLAND TALE. 61

also of farmers, some of whose steadings were likely
to be endangered. Groups of men one after another
repaired to the neighbourhood, and dark figures
were seen moving about in relief against the flames,
but it was little that any could do to check their
progress. At last the welcome report was spread
that the fire was checked, how or by whom did not
at first appear. One by one the men dispersed,
after satisfying themselves that the conflagration
was indeed dying out, and two or three, including
the head gamekeeper at Monadail, the neigh-
bouring property, the shootings of which had been
so endangered, turned in to William Ross's house
in passing to have a talk over the occurrence.
Whilst they were resting and smoking their pipes
round the blazing peat fire in the kitchen or gene-
ral reception-room, Mary Ross was ben the
hoose," ordering her household matters, and send-
ing her children to bed.
"Whar's Robbie?" she suddenly asked, as she
missed that member of her flock.
He's comen, mother," answered Jessie, from
the door, where she had been straining her eyes to
see through the darkness. He's been to put oot
the fire."
"Put oot the fire! the lassie's daft," said
her mother. "How could Robbie put oot the
fire ? "
"He's done it, though, mother," was the reply;
an' he said he wud."






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


Almost at the same moment a hot weary figure,
begrimed with smoke, appeared in the doorway.
"Father," exclaimed Mary Ross, raising her
voice, and addressing her husband in the kitchen,
after a momentary inspection of Robbie; d'ye
ken wha put oot the fire ? "
Wha but itsel' ? answered the good man.
Jist oor Robbie," continued the mother, as she
pushed our hero into the kitchen before the asto-
nished company.
Robbie was too much of a real hero to like to
be his own trumpeter, and it was only by slow
degrees and many questions that his story was
extracted from him. It was very simple. He had
seen the commencement of the fire, and suspected
its author and its object. Although believing that
not more was intended than to frighten poor old
Meg, which indeed was the case, he saw from the
direction of the wind, together with his knowledge
of the geography of the moor, that there was great
risk of its doing more mischief than its author anti-
cipated, and that it might reach the thatch of her
old tumble-down hut, in which ease nothing could
save it from destruction. Taking counsel with
none but himself, and not confiding his intention
to anyone but Jessie, he obtained possession of one
of the sickles used in reaping, usually called a
"heuck," and having a good start of the fire, arrived
at the spot by a cross-cut long before there was any
possibility of its reaching it. Choosing a point






A HIGHLAND TALE.


where the furze and heather grew not in large con-
tinuous clumps, but in scattered bushes, yet near
enough to communicate the flames to one another,
he hewed and cut till he had effected a belt of clear-
ing sufficient to prevent the flames from extending
in that direction.
When Rob had finished his tale he retreated,
for his exertions made repose desirable to him, and
soon after the party separated, but not before the
keeper, Angus Macrae, had remarked : That's a
likely lad o' yours, Ross. I'd be proud if one of
mine had done what he has."
"Oo ay," was the answer; "he's weel eneuch,
an only he'd keep to his books."
"How's that ? replied Macrae. "Is he no
steady ? I'd ha thocht wi' that eye of his a lad
could na be wild."
Na, na the father hastened to add; as for
steadiness there's nothing to complain o', but he's
aye speirin aboot birds and bastes, and we canna
get him to set his mind on richt gude wark."
"Mebbe he's at wark all the same," said the
keeper, who was a superior man of his class, and
began to have an inkling of Robbie's disposition.
" However," he added kindly, "if I can do the lad
a good turn, mind you, I'll no forget the wark he's
done this nicht."






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


CHAPTER VII.

"The world is wide, the world is broad,
There's fish in the smallest river;
Deer leap on the hill, fowl fly in the air,
Was, is, and shall be ever."

T is time we should follow our bewildered
fugitives on their frantic course after
,, leaving the wood. Neither of them
stopped to take breath until they had
left the flaming moor far behind, and were
beyond the reach of sight and sound; even then
they wandered on, though more slowly, yet steadily
away from the terrible scene-indeed there was
little to induce them to linger. They soon reached
a high, open part of the district, exposed to the
wind, which still blew piercingly across the hill.
The moon had now risen, and as the sky was clear,
it revealed the barren, unsheltered ground they
were traversing. There were no trees, and very
few stunted bushes. The bleak waste was only
broken by the stony courses of one or two mountain
streams, which the recent dry windy weather had
reduced to a narrow channel. Along one of these they
pursued their way-the roebuck leisurely enough
sniffing the ground now and then to see if there was






A HIGHLAND TALE.


anything worth the trouble of a munch,while the hare
progressed after the fashion of her kind, a hurried
run here and there, then a stop and look behind.
But somehow they managed to keep within sight of
one another. At length they arrived at a more
rocky part of the watercourse, where the stream,
interrupted by some large boulders, fell over the
rocks in a cascade, which after rain was very con-
siderable, and the fall had worked out a hollow in
the stones below which formed a deep pool. After
slaking their thirst with the water they emerged
from the channel upon the moor beside it. This
at first looked like pasture-ground, but it proved to
be a peat moss, affording no food worth eating, and
in which their feet sank in water at every step.
Hastening over it they described in the distance
what looked like wooded hills, where they hoped at
last to find the longed-for resting-place.
With their eyes fixed on the desired spot, they
crossed over bog, moor, and heath, traversing a
few more stony channels, until they found them-
selves among high rocks, which towered above
them, and the path became very perplexing. Added
to this, a cold mist came on; whether it was rain-
ing, or whether the jagged peaks had caught a
passing cloud, it was difficult to say. The effect
was the same, and our friends, feeling uncertain of
their bearings, rested under the shadow of the rocks
to wait until the morning broke.
The first faint light had scarcely appeared when
E





AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


they were aroused by a hoarse voice, proceeding
from the rock above them, and they observed a
large bird sitting on a projecting ledge, and looking
down at them with anything but an agreeable as-
pect. Its plumage was a glossy black. It was
nearly as large as the uhu, and, like it, its eye
was remarkably expressive. Sad to say, at this
moment it plainly bespoke hostility, the feathers
about its head and neck being also ruffled in a
manner denoting extreme anger; whilst its beak
looked most formidable from its size and strength,
as the bird opened it to give vent to its feelings.
It was hard to have come so far, and to meet
with such a reception after all.
What right have you to be there ? asked the
bird. "This is my rock; I and my family have
dwelt in it these fifty years, and I will not allow
intruders."
The two poor travellers hastened to assure the
tenant of this stronghold that they had no intention
of usurping his domain. They were merely resting
before proceeding in search of a more congenial
locality; but whilst mollified by their respectful
manner, the raven (for it was that renowned bird)
felt a little huffed at the idea that anyone could
behold his abode, and at the same time wish for
a better.
You might travel far without meeting with one
like it for security and comfort," he said. I defy
mankind from this lofty precipice. A stray hunter





A HIGHLAND TALE.


'--"' : "I t -It ' t .



















shepherd or herdooy wanders up in search of

blasted tree and cro-o-ak, and oh, what fun it is
to see them turn and fly; for through an ancient
and venerated ancestry has descended to me the
reputation of foretelling evil to mankind, and they
would face any danger rather than listen to my
voice."
And do you really know what is going to
happen ? asked the roebuck.
That is as it may be," answered the corbie
shepherd : or l 'er -oywauteis. u in searh o
a isigsheo o an teIsi'no
blate tree,-; and croakan o watfu i i
to see. th,. em turn and fl foi : th-ouh -an ncien






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


oracularly. It's very convenient to me that they
should think so, and perhaps for you too, if you
stay in this neighbourhood; for it keeps the com-
moner kind of people at a safe distance, and sports-
men don't come up here often."
Fifty years did he say he had been here ? "
whispered the hare to her friend. "I can hardly
believe it; do ask him if we heard rightly, for he
looks quite young."
To be sure I do," answered the raven, who
overheard the remark, and was not ill-pleased.
"Fifty years with us is a trifling age. My father
lived till he was 120; my grandfather's age was
unknown; and many previous ancestors of mine,
who have been mentioned in history and song, at-
tained an almost fabulous term of years.
They were the favoured of the most powerful
of the human race;. and when the armies of the
North invaded these lands many hundreds of years
ago, they owed their success, it was supposed, to
the image of a raven that was borne aloft upon
their banners. For these reasons, we consider
ourselves entitled to maintain our hold upon the
fear and respect of mankind, and to encourage
those sentiments by frequenting the most inacces-
sible spots, terrifying the superstitious with our
voice, and, when brought into contact with the
bolder sort, playing them every trick in our
power.
"But I cannot stop talking any longer. I have an






A HIGHLAND TALE.


inkling that a sheep is lying dead somewhere on
the moor, and I hope for a good breakfast from it,
and to bring some home to my wife, who is hourly
expecting to hatch a young brood. If you like to
go on a little further, past those rocks, you'll find a
path across a hill that will lead you to a wood,
where you may find a lodging that will suit you."
The travellers thanked him, and now that the
daylight was every moment increasing and the mist
had risen, they advanced in the direction pointed
out. They crossed the hill, and saw just below
them a wooded dell; but it was not until they
arrived at the bottom of the descent, owing to some
high rocks on the other side, that, through an
opening between these and the wood, there ap-
peared before them a prospect of surpassing beauty.
They were on the shores of a mountain loch two
or three miles long. On one side rose a high, irre-
gular line of rocks, on which there was nevertheless
sufficient soil for birch and hazel trees to take root;
on the other, the moorland stretched away to the
horizon, while at the western end hill behind hill,
of varied shapes, formed a foreground to the distant
mountains, still streaked with snow, whose peaks
were just lighted up with pink by the rising sun.
The nearer rocks, hills, and woods threw their
shadows on the unruffled water deep and strong in
the light of dawn, and the clouds that had been
resting near the ground were drawn upward, and
" gathered midway round" the rocky heights, while






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


"Many a pinnacle, with shifting glance,
Through the grey mist thrust up its shattered lance."
We do not venture to say that our dumb wan-
derers fully appreciated all this beauty; but such
was the scene presented to them. They themselves
formed no despicable part of it; and had human
eye been there to admire, the roebuck, as he bent
his graceful neck to drink the water of the loch,
and the hare as she breakfasted on the refreshing
herbage near its brink, would have been welcomed
as adding to the wild picturesque beauty of the
landscape.
Loch NaDaone Shee was the name of this interest-
ing locality, which, on account both of its position
and reputation, was one of the least known and
most avoided of Highland lakes.
Daone Shee, or, according to strict Gaelic spell-
ing, Daoine Sith, signifies "men of peace," and is a
name given in the north to that mysterious race,
the fairies, who, for some reason best known to
themselves, appear to have favoured these wild dis-
tricts with their presence almost more than any
other part of the world. Various definite and in-
teresting theories have been adopted respecting
them, on which it does not concern us to enter;
suffice it to say, that the designation Daoine
Sith would appear to have been given in flattery,
and with some idea of deprecating their enmity,
rather than as strictly applicable ; for the tradition
of their resentment of any neglect shown them by






A HIGHLAND TALE.


the human race, and the supernatural power with
which they were supposed to give expression to
their anger, caused them to be held in such dread
that any spot said to be frequented by them was
almost unapproachable.
Such a reputation was enjoyed by the loch we
have described. Wonderful stories were prevalent
of the kelpies that were to be seen grazing
beside it, and of the fairy turrets surrounding it,
which in the daylight appeared to be masses of
rock, but after nightfall were seen to be elfish
"tomans," t resplendent with light, whence issued
such music and sounds of mirth that none who
were unprotected by special charms could resist
entering them, and having done so, they were lost
to earthly life and friends unless the affection and
faith of the latter were strong enough to carry
them through the forms necessary for the deli-
verance of the lost ones.
The precincts of the lake were further protected,
as we have seen, by the corbie, who had fixed its
eyrie in the rock near its shores. Thus guarded
by more effectual barriers than stone fences, what
wonder that it proved a sanctuary for countless
living creatures; for although it was on the estate
of Monadail, and its awful character would have
had no deterring effect on the sportsmen who
visited the neighbourhood every season, it was very


t A hillock or heap.


* Water-horses.






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


secluded, on the verge of the property, and was
therefore generally left unvisited by them also.
In addition to these advantages, there were scat-
tered over the surface of the lake several small
islands, on some of which grew only stunted grass,
and heather or rushes; but on others there were
trees of considerable size, so that nothing appeared
wanting to render it a zoological paradise.
We left our friends contemplating the scene at
which they had arrived, possibly questioning with
themselves whether this could be the locality
formerly recommended to them by the woodcock;
and if so, what good fortune had directed them to
it in their bewildered state. They agreed to re-
treat to the wood which lay on the left, offering a
most inviting shelter after the fatigues and terrors
of the night, and there meditate on the satisfactory
conclusion of their journey.






A HIGHLAND TALE.


CHAPTER VIII.

I hear the echoes thro' the mountains throng,
The winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
And all the earth is gay.
Land and sea
Give themselves up to jollity,
And with the heart of May
Doth every beast keep holiday."
WonDSwoTHn.
0OW shall I relate the wonderful discovery
That here awaited one of them? Softly
treading over the carpet of decayed
spines that had fallen from the larch
trees, of which a great part of the wood was
composed, the roe pressed towards a thicket of
hazels at a little distance, whose newly-formed
catkins presented an inviting appearance. He was
engaged in daintily nibbling the young shoots
off one of the long slender branches, when a sound
at a little distance startled him. Looking up,
what was his surprise and satisfaction to see in a
small clear space in the wood a number of crea-
tures of his own kind quietly grazing. One amongst
them specially drew his attention, and even as he
looked its head was raised, and its eye, full, gentle,
and soft, was fixed on him with a look of tender






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


recognition. Leaving the rest of the herd, she
approached him. We need not describe what
followed: the poor young roe had found its mother.
But, it will be asked, how could that be, when
she was shot in his sight in the wood near Ard-
monadh ? Let us hear the account in her own
words :-
"Yes, my child, you saw the cruel bullet strike
me, and I, too, thought my last moment had come,
My only longing was to know that you were safe;
and for this object I made a violent effort, and
sprang forward to a clump of trees. I lost sight
of you, and stumbled on till I could go no further.
A film overspread my eyes, a burning thirst con-
sumed me, and I lay down, as I thought, to die.
I revived after a time as if from sleep, and found
all was still; the dogs had lost my scent, my com-
panions were dispersed, and the darkness of night
had gathered around. I found my wound was in
a position where it was possible for me to lick it,
and I did so. After some time, though very weak
from loss of blood, I was able to proceed a little;
and as I remembered having told you of this place, I
indulged the hope that we might meet here at last."
Just now her eye rested inquiringly on our poor
little hare, who had witnessed the loving meeting.
She understood that her friend was no longer lonely,
and she began to realise her own solitary lot more
than for some time past. But the roes were too
gentle and kind to let her feel this long. The







A HIGHLAND TALE.


roebuck told his mother of the many days in the
wood they had spent together; how they had shared
the hopes, fears, and dangers of the time, and of
the lonely winter the hare had passed. What now
was the delight of the latter to hear that many of
her kind were sheltered on these hospitable shores.
Whether they belong to your particular family
or not," said the deer, "I cannot say; but you
certainly will not want companionship."
Cheered by this kindness, our little friend plucked
up heart again; and the three, sheltered from the
cold wind by a large piece of rock, and looking out
on the beautiful lake, gave themselves up to repose.
Suddenly a loud, harsh screech startled the new-
comers from their lair, and a huge form was seen
floating in the air above them. It had a long, thin
body, as straight as a stick, much longer than the
uhu or the raven; and the wings, which seemed of
still greater length, bore it rapidly but gracefully
along, gently waving as it went. They were about
to fly.
Don't put yourselves about," said the old roe,
"there's no occasion. It's only a neighbour of
ours, a harmless bird of perfect respectability,
though he is so large; indeed, they're all 'decent
folk,' as they say here, only they have a bad trick
of shrieking as they move about. When they don't
move, they sit for hours together without making
a sound. You have not seen a heron before, I
suppose ?"





AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


The roebuck and the hare answered they had
not; and as they felt somewhat curious on the
subject, the party moved towards the shore of the
lake, led by the elder deer. Here they found
among the lesser trees that grew near the loch,
a few very fine old withered trunks, the remains
of a vast forest which once overspread the country.
On the tops of these trees were seated a number
of birds like the heron they had seen in flight; and
on a point of rock jutting out into the lake, they
beheld an individual of the same species standing
on one leg, the other half drawn up, engaged in the
interesting occupation of fishing for his breakfast.
Owing to its perfect stillness, and its grey and
black plumage, only relieved by some long white
feathers which hung from its neck, they did not
at once perceive it as it stood against the rock.
Suddenly its head, which it had held between its
shoulders, was darted forward into the water,
whence it abstracted an eel, which it in vain tried
to swallow whole. This being an impossible feat,
it retreated inland, still clutching the eel in its
long, sharp, strong beak, and proceeded to despatch
it against a flat stone.
I don't like him at all," said the hare. What
if he were to do that to me ?"
No fear," said the roe, he would never molest
you or us. It is doubtless unpleasant for the eel;
but he does not get many, and the frogs, fish, newts,
and other water reptiles which he eats haven't time






A HIGHLAND TALE.


given them to feel. -Have you been successful
this morning ?" she asked, as she saw the heron
observed them.
"Pretty-well," was the answer, gulping the re-
mainder of the eel. I-don't-like to talk-while
-I'm eating."
"He's vexed it wasn't a trout," whispered the
deer.
Those detestable ravens said the heron, who
seemed to wish to give a more worthy explanation
of his testiness.
"Why ? Have they been at it again ?" asked
the roe.
That they have; but my wife will tell you more
about it than I can. There she is on our nest, on
the lowest of those trees. I can't stop to talk, for
she.'s waiting for me to go back before she can
leave it, and come to breakfast."
And, glad to conclude the interruption, the heron
returned with a stately mien to his position at the
water's edge.
In the direction to which he referred our friends
observed what looked like a large faggot of sticks,
more than a yard long, at the top of the broken
trunk of an aged oak, with a heron seated on it.
You must want some breakfast, too, my good
friend," said the deer, addressing her.
To be sure I do," was the answer; "but my
husband and I can't be long away together. I had
my first two eggs safe this morning, and that un-





AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


clean and unprincipled robber has taken one cf
them already. I caught him at it, and was only in
time to save the second. What aggravates me too
is that they pretend all this neighbourhood belongs
to them, and say we have no right to be here,
and talk of their ancient family claims, and so
forth-as if we couldn't boast the same."
"Why," said the roebuck, he gave us to under-
stand he had been established where he is for many
millions of years, figuratively speaking."
He'll say whatever suits his purpose at the
moment," said the heron. I don't know how long
they may have been in that exact spot, but I can
testify he and his party wanted to oust us from
these trees where we have been from time imme-
morial ; but we were too strong for them."
Alas sighed the hare, turning to her friends,
"this then is not, after all, the happy land I hoped
it was. There is no peace, I see."
"Take heart, my little friend," said the mother
deer. "We need not mix ourselves up in these
quarrels. You will hear many disputes of this
nature, for we are surrounded with living creatures,
and few are so timid and inoffensive as yourself and
we; but if you keep quiet and out of the way there
are few that will molest you, except the hawk and
the eagle, and they are quite as dangerous to most
other animals. You will meet with many also, I
hope, of whom you need have no fear, and some old
acquaintances who have not yet returned from their
























CIA




J-












0-f







f :._-z







em W,
A







A-z







N'TFr THE nERoxs. -Page 76.





A HIGHLAND TALE.


winter quarters, whom you will be glad to see, so
you need not trouble about the unpleasant ones.
There are the peewits, for instance."
Oh, I know them well! said the hare.
"And the curlews," said her friend.
"Yes, to be sure."
"Not to speak of the dotterel, and sandpiper, and
grebe, who live near the river and on the islands,
and all the little birds that flit about the woods. I
assure you it gets quite gay here in summer time;
but hush here comes the monarch of us all."
The hare looked up, and saw such a magnificent
presence that she felt ready to sink into the earth
under a sense of her nothingness.
"Don't be alarmed," said the roe. "It's only
the stag, noble old fellow, coming to drink."
The majestic creature who now slowly broke
through the thicket was about four feet in height
at its shoulders ; its colour a kind of brownish grey.
Its stately head was borne proudly on its arched,
graceful neck, as it looked around with its large,
soft, glistening eyes.
He does not look nearly so handsome just now
as he ought to do," said the roe. He has not yet
got on his fine red brown summer coat, and has
just shed his horns, and the new ones have not
grown. I fancy he's come here to wait till they
have. When he's in full trim, towards the end of
summer, carrying his .antlers with ten or twelve
branches on each, I assure you, though he is known






AWAY ON~ TIMl MOORLAND,


to be good-natured on the whole, he looks so terrible,
there are few that would care to cross him; and, if
anything does excite him to anger, his voice is not
the least awful part of him, When he gives a roar
at any of the younger stags on a dark night, among
the mountains, or the side of some rocky glen, it
would make the bravest of us tremble. Then the
others answer him; some from one part, some
from another, and the rocks give back the sound
till it is more like thunder than anything else. But
see, he is going to speak to us."
This description of the stag's voice had not en-
boldened our timid friend, and even the roe felt a
moment of alarm, as the stag, overlooking the deer,
fixed his eyes on the hare with a steady gaze.
"I never forget a benefit," he at length said;
"your mother saved my life."
Oh! said the hare, very much relieved.
Yes," continued the stag. One day we were
all-I and my herd-on the side of yon deep corrie.
It had been raining, and a curtain of mist had
covered us, and prevented our seeing anything at
a distance. Suddenly the sun burst forth, and it
rose, leaving us fully exposed to view from nearly
the end of the glen. Unsuspicious of danger, how-
ever, the wind being in our faces, we went on
feeding, when she ran in fearlessly among us, and
made us aware we were being stalked. Turning
round I saw, behind a point of rock, the muzzle of
a gun and the top of a Highland bonnet. My com-






A HIGHLAND TALE.'


panions were already on the move. It did not
become me to be the first to retreat, but after
taking a good look to make sure it was a true
alarm, I followed, for I saw no great courage in
standing to be shot at. Now, when I have an
enemy to settle matters with, I challenge him openly
to single combat, but these wretches are afraid to
show themselves to us. They crawl on their hands
and knees, and even wriggle like worms over bare
rocks and among heath and furze bushes, taking
care that the wind shall be against them, for in no
other way can they overcome us. They never dare
approach us boldly, and but for your mother's
warning, my head and horns might now have
been ignominiously hanging in the hall at Mona-
dail. Mind, I shall always be glad to do you a
good turn."





AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


Having delivered this oration, the stag slowly
turned away to finish his draught, and then retired
to a secluded part of the wood.
Yes, he's a good old fellow," said the roe, when
he was out of hearing. Once the red deer were
the sole occupants of these wilds, for though our
family, the roe-deer, are also natives of the country,
of course, owing to their greater size and strength,
we gave way before them; but since the magni-
ficent forests which covered all these parts have
been cut down, many of the red deer have disap-
peared, and left us more room; but, they're very
good-natured, and don't object to us as neigh-
bours."
Here she looked round for a response to all this
information, and was surprised to find the hare had
vanished.. The latter certainly had not profited by
the dissertation on the red deer, for while her friend
was speaking she had fallen into a very brown
study, as might have been seen by the rapid twitch-
ing of her nose, and the reflective position of her
long ears.
"If my mother did what he related," she said to
herself, it naturally follows she must have taken
up her abode in this vicinity, and some more of my
kith and kin are probably with her."
At this moment, on an open part of the moor,
which was comparatively dry and sandy, she felt
sure she perceived some small forms darting in and
out among some clumps of heather. Could it be






A HIGHLAND TALE.


that her long loneliness was ended, and her bright
visions of peace and companionship were about to
be fulfilled ? The result of her cogitation was a
resolve to turn the doubt into a certainty by per-
sonal inquiry, and swift as an arrow from a bow
her little feet carried her along the moor till she
made one of the company, Her hopes were abun-
dantly fulfilled, and here, having followed her to the
attainment of her many longings, we will leave her
and turn to some of the other subjects of our story.






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


CHAPTER IX.
"Once in the days of golden weather,
Days that were always fair,
Love was the life we lived together :
Oh, what love was there !
Fresh as a flower when the rain is falling,
Pure as a child that prays,
Oh, for the days beyond recalling !
Oh, for the golden days."

ERHAPS you are wondering all this time
what has become of our friends at Torr-
buidhe, and whether you are ever going
to hear of them again, especially as the
scene has been removed to such a distance.
The long, cold spring was gradually passing, and
the warm weather, whose advances in the north
are so fitful and coy, at last declared its presence.
The old pine woods emitted their resinous odours
under the sun's rays. The birches that nearly
covered the rocky sides of the loch, hung over the
water, their light feathery boughs decked in almost
transparent green. Nor was the moor lacking in
its tokens of spring : not only did the heather and
furze put forth their shoots, but the aromatic smell
of the bog myrtle, or sweet-gale, was shed around.
The cannach down waved its silky seed tufts in
Cotton-grass.






A HIGHLAND TALE.


the breeze, which also wafted the delicious scent
of the sweet orchis, growing luxuriantly among the
moss. The poor sheep, who had been feeding most
of the winter on little else than turnips, were
turned out, to their great delectation, to crop the
juicy shoots, and cattle of every kind made their
appearance on the pasture-land. Down at Torr-
buidhe farming operations proceeded diligently,
and ploughing and sowing were nearly over for the
season.
Robbie and Jess continued their daily pilgrimage
to school, but unsatisfactory reports reached home
of Rob's scholastic progress. His apparent indif-
ference to the lessons Mr. Mathieson deemed of
most importance, was such, that the schoolmaster
thought fit, one afternoon, to walk up and confer
with his father as to the expediency of removing
him for a while from school.
"I'm not saying but he's a steady lad, mind you,
Ross," he explained, douce* and quiet, as I'd
like them a' to be, but may be he's not just very
strong, and it would do him no harm, say, to take a
few months at the herding on some large farm. He
would be learning the business better than he would
at home, and the change would do him good."
Ross felt mortified, still he was grateful to the
schoolmaster, and not insensible to the fact that
his boy was charged with no misdemeanor or
obstinacy of disposition; therefore, when Robbie
Sedate or sober; not frivolous.






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND


came in he met with nothing worse than a grave
look, but the next afternoon saw his father march-
ing along in the direction of a large farm, named
Dal-na-Muileach,* which, as it happened, was
situated within a mile of our mountain loch.
If Robbie was to leave school for a time, his
father thought he might as well do so at once,
instead of waiting for the Whitsunday term at the
end of May, and that it was not advisable to put
off seeking a place until the day of the feeing,"
or hiring market, shortly before that time, when
all the farm servants, male and female, attend at
the nearest town and engage themselves for six
months. Besides, he knew the master at Dal-
na-Muileach, John Findlay. He felt almost sure he
would take Robbie out of kindness to himself, and
it was a more agreeable way of finding a place for
him than sending him to an ordinary hiring market.
He would also be within reach of home, and they
could see him from time to time, and know how he
was getting on.
It is not an uncommon practice in some parts of
the Highlands for the younger boys of small farmers
thus to take service on a large farm, where they
can learn more than they would at home, and pro-
bably be made to work more diligently. Accordingly,
when Findlay understood the object of William
Ross's visit, he good-naturedly accepted the por-


* The field or portion of the beloved.






A HIGHLAND TALE.


posal. He had not thought of taking on an extra
hand yet, but nae doot we'll find wark for him,
Willy," he said (Ross and he had known each other
the greater part of their lives, and were on familiar
terms), and I'd sooner hev ane o' your lads on the
place than another. Let him come up an' be at the
herdin', and it'll set Jemmie Fraser free to go
after the horses. We'll be needin' a' we can get, by
and by."
So it was settled that Robbie should enter on his
new place and duties as soon as he liked to come.
When the impending change was announced to him,
though he was somewhat taken by surprise, he felt
it far from being an unpleasant one. Perhaps the
most unwelcome part was the loss of the daily walks
with Jessie. The latter was so upset at the thought
of the lonely journey, day after day, that her mother
pleaded for her that, as there had been no want of
diligence on her part, and she might therefore be
supposed to be well on in her "learning," her
schooling also might be discontinued for the present,
and her time devoted to some of the home occupa-
tions of summer time. Be it remembered that
school boards were not yet in existence, and parents
of the Rosses' stamp could be trusted to use their
discretion well on such matters.
This arrangement removed the chief regret
Robbie would have felt at his change of life, for it
was soon a compact between him and Jessie that
.she should join him whenever it was possible, during






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


the long summer evenings, at Dal-na-Muileach,
when they would have even more leisure to follow
their favourite pursuits than during their daily
walks from school.
A few days after this time Robbie entered on his
new employment. His duties as herdboy were to
attend at the "byre every morning an hour before
milking time. If the dairy-maid came at six o'clock,
he must be there at five. If the milking took place
at five o'clock, the herd-boy must bestir himself at
four, sweep the floor of the cowshed clean, and lay
down fresh straw under each cow, where the milk-
ing-stool was placed. When the "dairy," as she
was called for short, had concluded her operations
and departed with her pails of milk (the idea of
any man or boy assisting in the work, as in England,
would have been treated with scorn and ridicule),
it was Rob's office to conduct the cows to their
pasture. If this happened to be in a field or
" park," at some distance, the dairy-maid followed
them thither at mid-day for the second milking,
and the "herd" had to collect them for her, but if
they grazed near home, it was his duty to bring
them into the byre at twelve or one o'clock, and
take them out again.
The evening milking took place at eight o'clock
or even later in the height of summer, when the
cows were always brought home and "sorted" or
settled for the night. He had also to attend to the
young cattle that were being reared on the farm,






A HIGHLAND TALE.


but as they were often left in the fields all night,
the work was less arduous than in the winter time,
when all the creatures had to be folded and fed, and
when it was usually necessary to employ a man.
It will be seen from the above sketch of the
duties of his office that Robbie's place was not a
sinecure. At the same time many hours of the
day were entirely at his own disposal, so long as he
kept his eye on the beasts," and took them in and
out at the proper time. For these matters he was
answerable to Kitty Macphail, the dairy," and
she was not one to excuse any dereliction of duty on
the part of the herdboy.
Happily Robbie soon got into her good graces, and
was pronounced a "decent laddie," who did not go
against her in regard to the coos," and her behests
were many and various. They were never to be
taken to pasture from west to east, but from east to
west, following the sun's course. To deviate from
this rule would have been, in Kitty's opinion, to
invite some malicious influence.
A sprig of mountain ash was always to be fas-
tened with a red thread to the horns of the leading
cow, and it made Kitty easier in her mind to insist
on Bobbie himself wearing a piece of buckthorn,
which she had been careful to cut at the full moon,
and dress without iron or steel, inside- his jacket.
She also enjoined him never to take the herd past
any of those round hillocks after sunset, which were
firmly believed to be fairy dwellings, since to do so






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


would be to expose the animals to a cast from a
fairy arrow. The cow that received it would be
" elf-shot," and would appear to turn sick and die,
but in reality would be turned into beef within the
" toman," whilst its unreal substitute, the fairy
stock, underwent the semblance of illness and death.
Kitty was a native of the south, but she had lived
in the Highlands from an early age, and had there-
fore a double stock of superstition engrafted on her
mind, with a mixture of Highland and Lowland
dialects in her speech.
She was a worthy, kind-hearted woman on the
whole, and knew her business well, and when any-
thing did go wrong either with the cows or the
poultry, which were also under her charge, it was
very convenient to be able to lay the blame on the
fairies, or the moon, or anything else that had not
been sufficiently propitiated, and was therefore in
an adverse mood. She could not help the grass
being green, but in no other form would she have
anything to do with that unhappy colour, which had
been appropriated by the good neighbours as
she flatteringly called them ;* and to set a hen so
that her brood should be hatched in the wane of
the moon was such a defiance of the known laws of
success, that it deserved to be punished by the
failure it was sure to entail.
As the JDaoine Shi, or men of peace, wore green habits, they
were supposed to take offence when any mortals ventured to
assume their favourite colour. (Note to The Lady of the Lake.")






A HIGHLAND TALE.


Her convictions on this point had recently re-
ceived indelible confirmation in a manner best
described by -relating what passed one morning in a
field near the farm.
A motherly-looking hen, equal to the charge of
thirteen chickens at least, was walking about fol-
lowed by a solitary nursling, when she encountered
a partridge who had just brought out her brood of
fifteen, and was conducting the little fluffy troop to
their feeding ground, there to initiate them into the
art of searching for grubs and insects.
The spectacle of a hen chaperoning a single
chicken was so unusual that the matronly partridge
could not resist a look which perhaps was not quite
within the limits of good breeding. Consciousness of
a peculiarity always makes us shrink from observa-
tion, and therefore after a second or two Mrs.
Chucky showed her annoyance by saying-
"Well, what are you looking at ? "
"You have one chicken," said the partridge.
To be sure I have, and why shouldn't I ? was
the reply.
Only one," said the partridge, turning away,
for she began to feel the position awkward.
Stop a minute," said the hen; "you no doubt
feel surprised, but you wouldn't if you knew all."
Kitty says it's because we came out in the wane
of the moon," interposed the young chicken.
You be quiet," said his mother. The man in
the moon knows just as much about it as Kitty






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND ;


does. Now I'll just tell you the plain truth," she
continued, addressing the partridge. "You are
a fortunate bird, independent of Kitty or anyone
like her, and at liberty to use the discretion nature
has given you; but I am called a 'domestic
fowl,' and am obliged to submit my private
arrangements to the folly of those who think
they know better than we do. Some time ago I
began to clock, and Kitty directly prepared me a
nest, which was so far right and proper of her. She
gave me thirteen eggs and placed me on them one
night when I was very sleepy. At the same time
and place she set on another nest of eggs a neigh-
bour of mine, a feckless* body who did not know her
own mind, and after she had sat a day and a night
got tired of it and left the eggs to themselves. Now
Kitty ought to have been quite sure she was going
to sit steadily before she gave them to her, but now
it was done it couldn't be helped. The eggs were
good for nothing else, and she didn't want to lose
them, so what should she do but give them to me-
that is, all but two that she and the hen had broken
between them in a struggle. Now, I just put it to
you as a person of experience, did you ever hear of
anyone being expected to hatch twenty-four eggs ? "
"Well, I have had twenty-one myself," said the
partridge.
Have you really ? Well, but they're a good deal


** Weak in mind or body.






A HIGHLAND TALE.


smaller than mine. It was just as if you had thirty
or so. I tried hard to do my duty by them, scarcely
coming off to eat my food. But I could not keep
them all as warm as they ought to be; and then,
what happened ? They were all a day or two late
in coming out owing to the number, and-I can
hardly bear to tell it."
"What was it ?" said the partridge. "Better
bring it out."
"It sounds as if I had been so careless," said
poor Chucky; Kitty said I was a bad sitter, and I
felt that very much, for I really couldn't help it.
There were so many eggs that one after another, as
they came out, the little darlings got jammed
between them, and-and--"
"Were squashed suggested the partridge.
A sad silence implied assent.
The eggs would keep rolling down on them, you
see."
"Ah," said Dame Partridge, "your nest was too
hollow. There is no danger of that on the ground,
where I sit."
"I told you it wasn't my fault," said the hen;
"I had- to sit where I was put. At last Kitty took
them away as they were hatched, and kept them
before the fire, and gave them back to me when
there were no more eggs. Between squashed
chickens and addled eggs there were only five
live birds left, and with these I was put to sleep
in an out-house near a stone dyke. Under my






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


wings you might have supposed they were safe,
but--"
"Don't speak of it," interrupted the partridge;
"I know what you would say : the weasels ?"
No," said the hen; the rats."
Ah, it's all one," replied the partridge. "What-
ever the cats may wish to do, we could fight them
off, but we have no chance with the others, the
villains."
They came in swarms, and took my three sweet-
est from under my bosom. Kitty ought to have
known the danger, and not have put me there."
"Well, but you had two still," said the par-
tridge.
Wait a bit. Kitty must needs, in order to save
the other two, put me under a coop on the grass,
away from any wall, and left a small opening at the
bottom to let them run in and out while I was impri-
soned and debarred from protecting them. What
was the consequence ? Early one morning my two
poor little ones ran out to pick the grass. No one was
astir, and a cruel hoody* passing over espied them,
and with one swoop carried off one of my remain-
ing nurslings. Had I been at liberty I should have
seen it and called them beneath my wings, but not
until the monster came down, and I heard the dying
shriek of my chicken, did I know what was happen-
ing. When Kitty came out to the milking and saw

The hooded crow.






A HIGHLAND TALE. 95

but one chicken, she .
only said she knew -
how it would be from
the first, ever since '.
she found out she had
made a mistake of 0, .,
a week, and fancied ...
the moon was older
than it was. But
from what I have '. ..
told you, you may .
plainly see she had
only herself to blame, though she must needs lay
it on me and the moon."
I have had my trials, too," said the partridge,
"though not exactly of the same nature as yours;
and I have the advantage of a kind, devoted com-
panion to share my cares-a comfort which I fear
you are without."
"Why, yes," said the hen; "our cock is an
excellent fellow, quite a champion, ready to fight
for us to the last drop of his blood, but he hasn't
much time to devote to the little ones. He's so
successful in society, you see."
"Oh, well, I'm glad," returned the partridge,
"I have a spouse who cares for no society so much
as for mine and our children's, and without his aid
I might often have met with disasters as well as
you. Even this very brood," turning with pride
to her little flock, "would have met with a still more






AWAY ON THE MOORLAND;


dreadful fate than yours but for his efforts coupled
with my own."
How so ? asked the hen, with interest.
It was soon after the eggs were laid," related
the partridge. I was peacefully sitting on the
nest which we had made on the ground, and lined
with some dried leaves and grass. Suddenly I
heard voices approaching. I could not see, for
there was broken ground round me, and some tufts
of grass sheltered me. They drew nearer and
nearer. I could not leave my eggs, and conceive
my feelings when two large horses walked by, drag-
ging after them an immense sharp piece of iron
which tore up the ground, and passed so close to
me that I was able to give it a peck for its audacity.
I saw that they were ploughing, and if I waited for
the next round all my sweet little brown eggs would
be smashed. What was to be done? Remove the
eggs, of course, and with me to decide was to
do. Calling my dear husband to my assistance,
we carried them all one by one to a safe place
under the hedge, and by the time the plough
came round again I was snugly seated on my new
nest."
Extremely fortunate," said Mrs. Chucky; but
I do not quite understand how you could remove
them."
Oh, with our beak and claws, to be sure; just
so," said the partridge, pushing a small pebble
before her. Of course, I couldn't have done it




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