What's Mine's Mind - vol.1

Home - George MacDonald - What's Mine's Mind - vol.1

Prev | Next | Contents


The time was drawing nigh when the warning of ejection would doubtless begin to be put in force; and the chief hearing, through Rob of the Angels, that attempts were making to stir the people up, determined to render them futile: they must be a trick of the enemy to get them into trouble! Taking counsel therefore with the best of the villagers, both women and men, he was confirmed in the idea that they had better all remove together, before the limit of the earliest notice was expired. But his councillors agreed with him that the people should not be told to get themselves in readiness except at a moment's notice to move. In the meantime he pushed on their labour at the new village.

In the afternoon preceding the day on which certain of the clan were to be the first cast out of their homes, the chief went to the village, and going from house to house, told his people to have everything in order for flitting that very night, so that in the morning there should not be an old shoe left behind; and to let no rumour of their purpose get abroad. They would thus have a good laugh at the enemy, who was reported to have applied for military assistance as a precautionary measure. His horses should be ready, and as soon as it was dark they would begin to cart and carry, and be snug in their new houses before the morning!

All agreed, and a tumult of preparation began. "Lady Macruadh" came with help and counsel, and took the children in charge while the mothers bustled. It was amazing how much had to be done to remove so small an amount of property. The chief's three carts were first laden; then the men and women loaded each other. The chief took on his hack the biggest load of all, except indeed it were Hector's. To and fro went the carts, and to and fro went the men and women, I know not how many journeys, upheld by companionship, merriment, hope, and the clan-mother's plentiful provision of tea, coffee, milk, bread and butter, cold mutton and ham--luxurious fare to all. As the sun was rising they closed every door, and walked for the last time, laden with the last of their goods, out of the place of their oppression, leaving behind them not a cock to crow, a peat to burn, or a scrap that was worth stealing--all removed in such order and silence that not one, even at the New House, had a suspicion of what was going on. Mercy, indeed, as she sat looking from her window like Daniel praying toward Jerusalem, her constant custom now, even when there was no moon to show what lay before her, did think she heard strange sounds come faintly through the night from the valley below--even thought she caught shadowy glimpses of a shapeless, gnome-like train moving along the road; but she only wondered if the Highlands had suddenly gifted her with the second sight, and these were the brain-phantasms of coming events. She listened and gazed, but could not be sure that she heard or saw.

When she looked out in the morning, however, she understood, for the castle-ridge was almost hidden in the smoke that poured from every chimney of the new village. Her heart swelled with joy to think of her chief with all his people under his eyes, and within reach of his voice. From her window they seemed so many friends gathered to comfort her solitude, or the camp of an army come to set her free.

Hector and Rob, with one or two more of the clan, hid themselves to watch those who came to evict the first of the villagers. There were no military. Two sheriff's officers, a good many constables, and a few vagabonds, made up the party. Rob's keen eye enabled him to distinguish the very moment when first they began to be aware of something unusual about the place; he saw them presently halt and look at each other as if the duty before them were not altogether CANNY. At no time would there be many signs of life in the poor hamlet, but there would always be some sounds of handicraft, some shuttle or hammer going, some cries of children weeping or at play, some noises of animals, some ascending smoke, some issuing or entering shape! They feared an ambush, a sudden onslaught. Warily they stepped into the place, sharply and warily they looked about them in the street, slowly and with circumspection they opened door after door, afraid of what might be lurking behind to pounce upon them at unawares. Only after searching every house, and discovering not the smallest sign of the presence of living creature, did they recognize their fool's-errand. And all the time there was the new village, smoking hard, under the very windows, as he chose himself to say, of its chief adversary!

Prev | Next | Contents