What's Mine's Mind - vol.1

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A month passed, and the flag of their exile was seen flying in the bay. The same hour the chief's horses were put to, the carts were loaded, their last things gathered. Few farewells had to be made, for the whole clan, except two that had gone to the bad, turned out at the minute appointed. The chief arranged them in marching column. Foremost went the pipes; the chief, his wife, and his mother, came next; Hector of the Stags, carrying the double-barrelled rifle the chief had given him, Rob of the Angels, and Donal shoemaker, followed. Then came the women and children; next, the carts, with a few, who could not walk, on the top of the baggage; the men brought up the rear. Four or five favourite dogs were the skirmishers of the column.

The road to the bay led them past the gate of the New House. The chief called a halt, and went with his wife to seek a last interview. Mr. Peregrine Palmer kept his room, but Mrs. Palmer bade her daughter a loving farewell--more relieved than she cared to show, that the cause of so much discomfort was going so far away. The children wept. Christina bade her sister good-bye with a hopeless, almost envious look: Mercy, who did not love him, would see Ian! She who would give her soul for him was never to look on him again in this world!

Kissing Mercy once more, she choked down a sob, and whispered,

"Give my love--no, my heart, to Ian, and tell him I AM trying."

They all walked together to the gate, and there the chief's mother took her leave of the ladies of the New House. The pipes struck up; the column moved on.

When they came to the corner which would hide from them their native strath, the march changed to a lament, and with the opening wail, all stopped and turned for a farewell look. Men and women, the chief alone excepted, burst into weeping, and the sound of their lamentation went wandering through the hills with an adieu to every loved spot. And this was what the pipes said:

We shall never see you more, Never more, never more! Till the sea be dry, and the world be bare, And the dews have ceased to fall, And the rivers have ceased to run, We shall never see you more, Never more, never more!

They stood and gazed, and the pipes went on lamenting, and the women went on weeping.

"This is heathenish!" said Alister to himself, and stopped the piper.

"My friends," he cried, in Gaelic of course, "look at me: my eyes are dry! Where Jesus, the Son of God, is--there is my home! He is here, and he is over the sea, and my home is everywhere! I have lost my land and my country, but I take with me my people, and make no moan over my exile! Hearts are more than hills. Farewell Strathruadh of my childhood! Place of my dreams, I shall visit you again in my sleep! And again I shall see you in happier times, please God, with my friends around me!"

He took off his bonnet. All the men too uncovered for a moment, then turned to follow their chief. The pipes struck up Macrimmon's lament, Till an crodh a Dhonnachaidh (TURN THE KINE, DUNCAN). Not one looked behind him again till they reached the shore. There, out in the bay, the biggest ship any of the clan had ever seen was waiting to receive them.

When Mr. Peregrine Palmer saw that the land might in truth be for sale, he would gladly have bought it, but found to his chagrin that he was too late. It was just like the fellow, he said, to mock him with the chance of buying it! He took care to come himself, and not send a man he could have believed!

The clan throve in the clearings of the pine forests. The hill-men stared at their harvests as if they saw them growing. Their many children were strong and healthy, and called Scotland their home.

In an outlying and barren part of the chief's land, they came upon rock oil. It was so plentiful that as soon as carriage became possible, the chief and his people began to grow rich.

News came to them that Mr. Peregrine Palmer was in difficulties, and desirous of parting with his highland estate. The chief was now able to buy it ten times over. He gave his agent in London directions to secure it for him, with any other land conterminous that might come into the market. But he would not at once return to occupy it, for his mother dreaded the sea, and thought to start soon for another home. Also he would rather have his boys grow where they were, and as men face the temptations beyond: where could they find such teaching as that of their uncle Ian! Both father and uncle would have them ALIVE before encountering what the world calls LIFE.

But the Macruadh yet dreams of the time when those of the clan then left in the world, accompanied, he hopes, by some of those that went out before them, shall go back to repeople the old waste places, and from a wilderness of white sheep and red deer, make the mountain land a nursery of honest, unambitious, brave men and strong-hearted women, loving God and their neighbour; where no man will think of himself at his brother's cost, no man grow rich by his neighbour's ruin, no man lay field to field, to treasure up for himself wrath against the day of wrath.

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