Rough Scan
POOR old Maggie's away. She's been in the cottage at the gate ever since I can mind the Auld House, and that's forty-five year come the elevent of November! She was here when I got my first place with the Mrs Murray that was the young ladies' grandmamaw. Maggie was old by me, though; she would be over eighty, I would say: but she never kent her age; poor folk doesna take the same nottice of birthdays as the gentry, and they look old sooner; it's the hard work that does it. But the Insurance has lifted them up a good bittie; it's wonderfu' what young-like septy-genariums looks now! it'll be the relief to their minds. And there's no' a few that didna ken their ages afore, that exclaims now with the Psalmist,
Three-score and ten years do sum up,
Our days and years, we see.
Maggie was real pleased to see the young ladies in their old home again, and many's the time they've been in and out this summer, and Master Barney and Samson efter them. Miss Jean allowed her a jug of sweet milk every day, and her Sabbath dinner Was aye carried to her from the house.
Last week she was washin' on the Tuesday, but on the Thursday she took to her bed, and when I went in to make her a drop arrowroot, she was done-like. Efter she took it I sat aside her and she seemed to dover. Suddenly, just when the sun set, and a cold greyness came over the room, she opened her eyes - they were bright and bonny - and she says, anxiously, "Is the henhouse door shut, Marget?" I'll never forget the words; little did I think they would be her last! but Maggie never spoke again. She slippit awa' without a sign when the dawn was creepin' white ower the water and the mist was liftin' from the land. I wished efter that she had said a text to feenish with, for the neebours a' asked me to tell them her dyin' words, and they didna seem content. But Maggie was thinkin' on doin' her plain duty to the last day of her life, and she never was one to make grand speeches, dead or alive.
The chestin' was on the Setterday evenin'. Maggie had nobody belongin' her, but we invited a few old friends to the tea - Mr Tosh was there, he was aye attentive in the way of taties, leeks, etc. - and the elder came and laid her head in the coffin with his own hands, while the minister was readin' "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want," and then they prayed time about. A queer thing happened just before the minister feenished his prayer. The door opened slowly, slowly, and a wee dirty lassie keeked in. I kent her fine; she comes from the Gipsies' camp at the point, and she was carryin' a cast-off Teddy Bear of Master Barney's that Miss Jean had given her. She stood a wee, doutsum, and then she said, "Where's Baggie." (She's aye a cold in her head, poor bairn.) Nobody spoke, and she came forret and looked into the coffin. "She'll catch the cauld," says she, speakin' to hersel' like; and then she stroked the bear's back-hair, and screwed round his head, and gave him a kiss, and laid him in the coffin aside Maggie, with one of his legs kickin' in the air. "He'll be comp'ny for her," says she, and away she went to the table to see if she could get a bit piece.
The funeral day was bonny-blinks o' sun, and saft showers-and Maggie would have been proud if she could have seen the cortage, as they ca' it. Miss Jean knew fine that if the poor old body had a wish left for anything on this side of the grave, it was for a handsome funeral, and she took care that she had it. The hairse came from Inchmakenneth-it was the one the cab-hirer stocked "to meet a long-felt want," as he said in the circular-and a very nice one it is, with a vawse on the top and four tappiloories at the corners. Then came no less than three murnin' coaches, with very near every man in the village in them, all in deep blacks and lum hats. The young ladies laid a beautiful white wreath on the coffin, and Lady Lindesay sent a cross of purple pansies a' the way from London, with a card hangin' on to it, with a message in her own hand of write. Maggie didna exackly make a will, but she left the milk she got every day to the lassie Bruce that's been lyin' since June, and she said that the ham Lady Lindesay aye sent her at Christmastime was to go to Betsy Syme; it was real mindfu' of her.
It's very near five mile to the old kirkyard, so the company gathered airly in the efternoon. And who do you think was in the first coach aside the chief murners? Samson. The young ladies, and Kirsty and me were in the cottage at the service, and Merran was walkin' to Miss Somerville's with Master Barney and the dog-as she thought. But he took advantage of a slight shower to turn back half-roads (he canna abide gettin' hissel' wet), and when he saw a carriage standin' at his own gate, in he got and took a seat to be ready. The chief murners, includin' the minister and the elder, thought he was Maggie's pet dog, and they said what beautiful it was to see such faithful affection in a poor dumb animal; Sam'el Tosh heard efterwards, from Peter M'Nab the carpenter, that they spoke about nothing else the whole road to the kirkyard; and they pinted out the tears in his pathetic eyes to one anither and said he would likely lie on the grave till he died of a broken heart. Catch him! He's no' a Grayfriar's Bobby. They were surprised that he didna folly to the grave: little did they ken that he was feared of lossin' the hurl back. But when the minister got out at the manse on the road home, Samson took the rue, and he got out too, and away home as fast as his legs would carry him. Sam'el Tosh saw him. He appeared, quite joco, about tea-time. The story's all over the place. Folk keekin' out below their blinds at the funeral saw the dog in the first coach, and maist o' them said it was a touchin' sight; but them that kent him (like auld Bertram) said it was just like his impidence. Well, it's all over now, and if Maggie never had much in her lifetime, she's been putten awa' very genteel.
Would you believe that the American lady that's bidin' at the hotel at Inchmakenneth, mentioned the subjeck to me this very day? She came and sat down beside me on the seat near the water, and gave me a long screed about the remarkable faithfulness and saggasity of Dandie Dinmont dogs, a' founded on fack; and she said it was an elegant funeral: I wished poor Maggie had heard her. Then she put up her pinchneb and she glowered at the yachts in the water, and efter she had considered the thing for a while, she said, "I think the people that go in these boats must be very dependent upon knowing how to manage the sails." I never heard a truer word; she'll likely be conneckit with the Admirality, or mebbe the Navy.
The place is no' the same wantin' Maggie. Miss Jean put a beautiful nottice of her in the papers: - "For fifty years a faithful friend and servant et cintera." Ever since I was a bit servant-lassie I ye thought I would like to see these very words on my tombstone, but Miss Celandine's prophesyin' that I never will, for she's sure I'll live to be a centenorium, and it'll need to be "seventy years" at least. But it'll no' seem long anyway: "Tout ce qui finit est si court." Miss Jean made me put that bit in; it's French, and it means "All that finishes is so short." Miss Celandine says it's no' true, for she never knew a long sermon that was short, even when it was done; but there's times when she would pick a quarrel wi' a stein wa'; and she has an awfu' ill-will at long sermons.