Rough Scan
~XVIII~
 
THERE'S been a wave of releegious excitement (as they ca' it) at the Church the young ladies worships in at Inchmakenneth, and a minister belongin' the English Church has been preachin' in season and out of season, Wednesdays and Fridays inclusive. He's visitin' the laird, and I'll no' deny that he's a fine preacher-Irish-they've got the gift of the gab. It's what they ca' The Patronal Feastable at the Church, something ado with St Ninian; it started with an evenin' service they ca' "Feastable Even-on" on the Setterday night, and they've been at it ever since; it's a mercy that "Meat and Mass never hindered work." Last Sabbath the minister announced that there would be a sermon to Women only, come Wednesday. Miss Jean said, when she was tellin' me, that if he hadna said "Women only" there would likely no' have been a man there, for many and many a time there's naething but ladies on week-days, or else nobody. But sure enough, when we got there at five meenits to seven, here a man in the very front row; and, afore the service began, two or three more fellies drifted in, mair by good luck than good guidin'. The hymn afore the sermon was a warnin' to sleepers- "Christian, seek not yet repose," and many's the time I've heard it sung, but I dinna think that ever I saw a Christian seek, and find, repose efter it as quick as that felly in the front row! The text was hardly out of the minister's mouth afore he settled hissel' and went to sleep; maist affrontin'. He missed a grand sermon anyway; he never woke up till the end when the minister said, "Finally, I would ask all you women, and especially those among you that are men, to think seriously on the solemn questions which I have laid before you." I dinna believe the sleepy gentleman knew what the subjeck of the discourse was-no' him-and it was just as weel sooted for men as for women, for when you come to original sin they're just six and sax. There was no collection-no' even a plate at the door. Miss Celandine said it was little short o' a miracle, and I must say I dinna mind of ever bein' in an Episcopal Church afore without a gentleman comin' round for the pennies; it would mebbe just be a forget.
Miss S. is away. (Miss Celandine said I was just to say "S" and then naebody would ken who I mean.) It was a lady from London, her that was governess to the young ladies when they were bairns; she aye pays them a visit in the summertime. Miss Celandine and her never was very chief, and now she's eighteen Miss Celandine doesna like bein' guided, and Miss S. canna forget that she's no' the governess yet; so Miss Jean and me are aye thankfu' when they get through the visit without a rippat. Miss Celandine says that this is a bit of the book that I'm no' fit for; the departure of "Miss Elizabeth S." is a subjeck that's beyond me, and she'll undertake it! She's an awfu' lassie, and she aye gets her own way, but I'm no' responsible for her havers-mind you that.
"Elisabeth S. is gone, and my heart is dancing with joy. She went this morning by the quarter to nine boat, to catch the London express. To be sure I can see no reason why she might not have gone a week ago; but, on the other hand, there was nothing to show that she did not intend to stay for another fortnight. But Elisabeth is gone, and all nature rejoices with me.
"Strange and touching it is to trace this unconscious sympathy. The tender lettuces lift their heads and rejoice in the autumnal sunshine (Elisabeth was mercilessly fond of salads). The daisies tilt the dew from their shining eyes, and spread their cheery faces out to dry. The turnips-the turnips- well, strange as it may appear, the turnips look much as usual. They may not have realised yet that Elisabeth really is gone; she spoke of going days before she went.
"Meditating on the joy of speeding a parting guest-one of the purest, loftiest pleasures of our fallen human nature-I wander towards the arbour. How cool, how calm, how damp a thing is an arbour! The light filters greenly through the eccremocarpusses arched above the rustic seat; the merry earwig trickles between the pebbles on the walk with a fluency of motion that even a fish might envy; and I seat myself carefully, so as not to disturb the quiet and estimable avocations of the industrious spider.
"The sound of wheels! an early visitor? I reluctantly rise and take the path towards the house. The nasturtiums look gayer than ever; the daisies 'wink their golden eyes' almost as if they meant something, bless them! How delicious the warm gun is: how deli- Bertram's cab at the door; boxes on the cab; 'E.S.' on the boxes; Elisabeth on the step! In an instant the truth flashes across my mind- '10 a.m. d (Saturdays only).' And this is Tuesday!"
And it was a Friday, as sure as I'm here! And the train goin' every day from Glasgow to London, rain or fair, and no wee "d" conneckit with it; but I doubt these wee "d's" has given rise to many a big one; they're awfu' annoyin' whiles.