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Part First

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Part First.

Folk hae aften wondered what for our place is ca'd Craigielinn when it is maistly fine open land wi' no a craig or a linn en't. Weel we just gave it the name out o' richt-doun love and affection for the auld house at hame, where I was born and dwelt till the event happened that I hae set forth to relate. A bonnie bit spot was auld Craigielinn, an' it was no misca'd; for about a mile, or aiblins a bittock mair, aboon the house, there was a grand fall o' water comin' doun through the rocks. The burn that wimpled in the strath came a long way frae the mountains, danderin' and singin' amang the bracken an' the heather; some said it came trae the tapmost crown o' the Carricks. I canna say how that may be; but it was sic a weary way that it seemed glad to fall intil a sma' loch in the upper glen, and to rest a white in its peacefu' bosom. Then it creepit quietly out again, and keepit on its appointed course, atween tall owre-hangin’ craigs where the sun never got siebt o' it, till, wi' a great leap, it spang oot o' the darkness, and owre the grey rocks intil the strath wi' a great burst o' song, as if it rejoiced in its deliverance frae bondage. Aboot half-way doun it dunted on a big stane which pairted the page 2 waters, and made twa fine showers o' spray that mounted up again, glintin' like rainbows in the sunlicht. On account o' this particularity it was ca'd the Twasome Linn; and sketcher bodies aften travelled up the glen to mak' pictures o' the scene. Ance out in the strath, the Linnburn went saftly on its way—its waters clear as the lift, and sweet as mornin' dew, and just aboon the house it was joined by anither stream that we ca'd the Birkburn, on account o' the bonnie sweet-scented birks that sat upon its banks. Aften in the dead o' nicht hae I lain in my bed, listenin' till the music o' thae twa burns as they brattled owre the peebles, croonin' and swellin' wi’ delightsome murmurs, an' aye sendin' up praises till the Creator. No but I'm fain to confess that it was to ither things, sic as sangs an' frolicsome reels, that I maistly even'd it till in thae days. An' what for no? I was but a slip o' a lassie, an' youth is the proper season for enjoyment. Age is aye the time for reflection, an' the remembrance o' a weel-spent, canty youth is the finest cordial in a' the world to ease the earkin' cares o' life, when the e'en grow dim, and the ears grow dull, and we feel that the end o' our earthly pilgrimage is near at hand.

Farther down, the burn was joined by ither streams that came boundin' and brattlin' frae the hillsides wi' gladsome sounds; and the hail went dancin' through the strath, laughin' and daffin' like a wheen weans at the skailin' o’ a schule, till they fell in with the Doon, aboon the Loch, just where the hills an' glens o' Carrick melt awa intil the fertile leas and bonnie haughs o' Kyle. Ye'll hae heard the auld sayin'—“Kyle for a man, an' Carrick for a coo.” Weel, I got my am page 3 gudeman frae Carrick, an' I'm bauld to say, there's no a better or a brawer in Kyle or Cunningham.

Craigielinn wasna muckle to speak o' as a house. Mr. McGelpin, the minister wha visited wi' us at orra times, an' was unco fu' o’ learnin', used to say it was just “a parallelogram in stane.” But it was a cosy beild for a' that, an' my faither—James Cranston—held house and lands in his ain rich as his forbears had done for mony generations. He was a grand auld man, aye tender and thochtfu' in his ain dealin's wi' his bairns, an' wi’ folk aboot him, an; much respectit by the neighbours; but he was awfu' stiff in his religious opinions, an' very strict in matters o' discipline. The Bible was his guide an' councillor in a' things; and onything that couldna be justified by reference to the Book, he reckoned o' sma’ account. I mind bein' much impressed by his manner on one occasion when some o' the harvest folk conceited they were no sae weel paid as they should be, an' pit forward Willie Caird, the tinkler, as spokesman. Willie, he says—” Ye ken, laird, it's writ—’ The labourer is worthy o' his hire.’ “—” Eh, man,” quo my faither, “I'se gie ye a better text than that in your loof. Is't no also writ—’ Be content wi' your wage?’ “—An’ he wadna bide mair contention aboot it. He was a dour man wi' wrang-headed folk, an' such as thrawed him, or wadna tak a rich view o' matters, like himself'.

I canna mind onything about my mither, for she passed out o' the warld when I was a wee wean. Au I had nae brither, but only ae sister who was just twa years mair advanced in age than mysel. Maggie was promised to young Robin Grant, the eldest son an' page 4 heritour o' Gowanbraes, whose lands marched wi Craigielinn, an' the weddin' was fixed to tak' place after the ingatherin' o’ the hair'st. On the strength o' her promotion. Maggie used to tak maist amusin' matronly airs upon hersel', just by way o' gettin’ her hand in. I dinna cast up ony blame till her for that. It is weel to be prepared aforehand for a' emergencies; but her meddlin' ways sometimes brought about unexpected consequences, as ye will see in the course o' my story. I maun tell ye, we were baith o' the same stature, an' much alike in features, only Maggie had brown hair an' mine was licht. Gowden the laddies ca'd it in thae days, but there's mair siller than gowd intilt noo, as is only richt. Folk said I favoured maist o' the mither's side, an' Meg o' the faither's. I canna tell; but it was settled that she was to hae house an' land as her portion, an' mine was to be in siller. My faither thocht to mak' a fine lairdship by combinin' Craigielinn wi Gowan-braes. Whiles I hae had a notion that he was disappointed in no haein' a son to carry on the family; but he never sought anither wife. He wadna pit a step-mither owre us when we were weans for our ain sake, an' when we grew up he was raither auld, an' owre sensible to fash himsel' wi’ the cares an' responsibilities o' matrimony. He said an auld body wadna suit him, an' as for a young lassie, he wadna suit her, sae he wad just bide his lane like the gudeman o' Uz.

We were a sma' family. Sae far as I kent, our only near kinswoman was Madam Cranston—my faither's aunt—an ancient lady, wha faithfully preserved the manners and virtues o' her youth. She page 5 was a grand auld dame o' majestic proportions, wi' strongly-marked features, an' a firm but pleasin' expression o' countenance. I mind her weel, elad in a handsome gown o' pearl-grey silk, sae stiff that it could stand its lane, an' rustled like autumn leaves when she moved. She aye wore a fine white muslin kerchief owre her shoulders, drawn in tight till the waist, an' lang sleeves o' rich auld yellow lace reachin' down till her fingers, a' covered wi' rings. Her cap was trimmed wi' mair o' the same bonnie lace, an' fastened wi' braid bands under the chin. She had auld-fashioned high-heeled shoon wi' siller buckles; and though very upright and active for her age, she aye walked wi' a gowden-headed cane, as it seems was the custom o' ladies in her youthfu' days. An' she carried a torty-shell snuff-box a' mounted wi' gowd; but it was mair for ornament than use, though whiles she wad mak a great pretence o' takin’ a sneeshin wi' a ivory spoon that was laid intil't. In fact Madam Cranston was just the same as a picture that had gotten awa frae the frame an' steppit out for a bit walk. But she was a kind hearted couthy auld leddy, an' we lassies were aye weel pleased to gie her a welcome at Craigielinn.

An’ noo that I bae made ye acquent wi' the auld house-place, and a' things needfn' for the richt understan in' o’ my story, I shall gae on till the relation o' what befel me in the maist eventful pairt o' my life.