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can speak o' kelpies and the dwarfs that and say after me the Rune of the bide in the hill. The heron, the lang Heather and the Dew.” And before he solemn fellow, kens o’ the green-wood knew the man did as he was told, and fairies and the wood elfins; and the wild found himself speaking strange words, geese that squatter on the tap o' the while his head hummed and danced as Muneraw will croak to ye of the merry- if in a fever. maidens and the girls o' the pool. The “Now lay ye down and put your ear to wren-he that hops in the grass below the earth,” said the bird, and the man the birks—has the story of the lost did so. Instantly a cloud came over his Ladies of the Land, which is ower auld brain, and he did not feel the ground and sad for any but the wisest to hear; on which he lay or the keen hill-air and there is a wee bird bides in the which blew about him. He felt himself heather (hill-lintie men call him) who falling deep into an abysm of space, sings the Lay of the West Wind and the then suddenly caught up and set among glee of the Rowan Berries. But what the stars of heaven. Then slowly from am I talking of? What are these things the stillness there welled .forth music, to you, if ye have not first heard the drop by drop like the clear falling of Song of the Moor, which is the begin- rain, and the man shuddered, for he ning and end o' all things.”
knew that he heard the beginning of the “I have heard no songs,” said the Song of the Moor. man, “save the sacred psalms o’ God's High rose the air and trembled among kirk."
the tallest pines and the summit of “Bonny sangs!" mocked the bird. great hills. And in it were the sting of “Once I flew by the hinder end o' the rain and the blatter of hail, the soft kirk and I keekit in. A wheen auld crush of snow and the rattle of thunder wives wi' mutches and a wheen solemn among the crags. Then it quieted to the men wi' hosts! Be sure the Song of the low sultry croon which told of blazing Moor is no like yon.”
midday when the streams are parched "Can ye sing it, bird?” said the man; and the bent crackles like dry tinder. "for I am keen to hear it."
Anon it was evening, and the melody “Me sing," cried the bird, “me that dwelled among the high soft notes has a voice like craw! Na, na, I which mean the coming of dark and the canna sing it; but maybe I can take ye green light of sunset. Then the whole where ye may hear it. When I was changed to a great pæan which rang young an auld bog-blitter did the same like an organ through the earth. There to me, and sae began my education. were trumpet-notes in it and flute-notes But are ye willing and brawly willing, and the plaint of pipes. “Come forth,” for if ye get but a sough of it ye will it cried, “the sky is wide and it is a far never mair have an ear for other cry to the world's end! The fire music?"
crackles fine o' nights below the firs and “I am willing and brawly willing," the smell of roasting meat and woodsaid the man,
smoke is dear to the heart of man. “Then meet me at the Gled's Cleuch Fine, too, is the sting of salt and the Head at the sun's setting,” said the bird, risp of the north wind in the sheets. and away it flew.
Come forth, one and all, to the great
lands oversea and the strange tongues Now it seemed to the man that in a and the fremit peoples! Learn before twinkling it was sunset, and he found you die to follow the Piper's son, and himself at the Gled's Cleuch Head with though your old bones bleach among the bird flapping in the heather before grey rocks, what matter, if you have him. The place was a long rift in the had your bellyful of life and come to the hill, made green with juniper and hazel, land of Heart's Desire?” And then the where it was said True Thomas came to tune fell low and witching, bringing drink the water.
tears to the eyes and joy to the heart; "Turn ye to the west,” said the whaup, and the man knew (though no one told "and let the
on your face. him) that this was the first part of the Then turn ye five times round about, Moor Song, the Song of the Open Road,
the Lilt of the Adventurer, which shall women hear in the darkening of their be now and ever and to the end of days. days, and sigh for the unforgetable; and
Then the melody changed to a fiercer love-sick girls get catches of it and play and sadder note. He saw his
fore- pranks with their lovers. It is a song fathers, gaunt men and terrible, run so old that Adam heard it in the Garden stark among woody hills. He heard the before Eve came to comfort him, so talk of the bronze-clad invader, and the young that from it still flows the whole jar and clangor as flint met steel. Then joy and sorrow of earth. rose the last coronach of his own people, Then it ceased, and all of a sudden the hiding in wild glens, starving in cor- man was rubbing his eyes on the hillries, or going hopelessly to the death. side, and watching the falling dusk. "I He heard the cry of Border foray, the have heard the Song of the Moor,” he shouts of the poor Scots as they harried said to himself, and he walked home in Cumberland, and he himself rode in the a daze. The whaups were crying, but midst of them. Then the tune fell more uone came near him, though he looked mournful and slow, and Flodden lay hard for the bird that had spoken with before him. He saw the flower of the him. It may be that it was there and Scots gentry around their king, gashed he did not know it, or it may be that to the breast-bone, still fronting the the whole thing was only a dream; but lines of the South, though the paleness of this I cannot say. of death sat on each forehead. “The Flowers of the Forest are gone,” cried The next morning the man rose and the lilt, and through the long years he went to the manse. heard the cry of the lost, the desperate, "I am glad to see you, Simon," said the fighting for kings over the water and minister, "for it will soon be the Comprinces in the heather. “Who cares?" munion season, and it is your duty to cried the air. “Man must die, and how go round with the tokens." can he die better than in the stress of “True," id th man, “but it was fight with his heart high and alien blood another thing I came to talk about," and on his sword ? Heigh-ho! One against he told him the whole tale. twenty, a child against a host, this is “There are but two ways of it, Simon," the romance of life.” And the man's said the minister. “Either ye are the heart swelled, for he knew (though no victim of witchcraft or ye are a selfone told him) that this was the Song of deluded man. If the former (whilk I Lost Battles, which only the great can am loth to believe), then it behoves ye sing before they die.
to watch and pray lest ye enter into But the tune was changing, and at the temptation. If the latter, then ye maun change the man shivered, for the air put a strict watch over a vagrom fancy, ran up to the high notes and then down and ye'll be quit o' siccan whigmaleeto the deeps with an eldrich cry, like a ries.” hawk's scream at night or a witch's Now Simon was not listening but starsong in the gloaming. It told of those ing out of the window. “There was who seek and never find, the quest that another thing I had it in my mind to knows no fulfilment. “There is a road," say,” said he. “I have come to lift my it cried, “which leads to the moon and lines, for I am thinking of leaving the the great waters. No change-house place.” cheers it, and it has no end; but it is a “And where would ye go?" asked the fine road, a braw road—who will follow minister, aghast. it?" And the man knew (though no one “I was thinking of going to Carlisle told him) that this was the Ballad of and trying my luck
dealer, or Grey Weather, which makes him who maybe pushing on with droves to the hears it sick all the days of his life for South.” something which he cannot name. It is “But that's a cauld country where the song which the birds sing on the there are no faithfu' ministrations,” moor in the autumn nights, and the old said the minister. crow on the tree-tops hears and flaps his “Maybe so, but I am not caring very wing. It is the lilt which old men and muckle about ministrations," said the
man, and the other looked after him in or in the silence of a winter's night. horror.
But let none,” he added, “pray to have When he left the manse he went to a the full music, for it will make him who wise woman, who lived on the left side hears it a footsore traveller in the ways of the kirkyard above Threepdaidle o' the world and a masterless man till burn-foot. She was very old and sat by death." the ingle day and night waiting upon
JOHN BUCHAN. death. To her he told the same tale.
She listened gravely, nodding with her head. “Ach," she said, "I have heard a like story before. And where will you be going?”
From Blackwood's Magazine. “I am going south to Carlisle to try
THAKUR PERTAB the dealing and droving,” said the man,
SINGH: A TALE OF
AN INDIAN FAMINE. “for I have some skill of sheep." “And will ye bide there?” she asked.
PART I. "Maybe aye, and maybe no," he said.
THE VILLAGE. "I had half a mind to push on to the big town or even to the abroad. A man A wide plain, level as the face of the must try his fortune.”
ocean, fading away into the horizon. "That is the way of men,” said the Not a rise to break the dead even moold wife. “I, too, have heard the Song notony, except that ridge of hillocks of the Moor, and many women, who away to the east piled up from the now sit decently spinning in Kilma- sandy soil by the persistent efforts of clavers, have heard it. But a woman the hot west wind. The fields are a dull may hear it and lay it up in her soul
grey color. Even here where the and bide at hame, while a man, if he
earth is light and sandy it looks hard gets but a glisk of it in his fool's heart, and cruel. The short stubble shorn must needs up and awa’ to the warld's
with a sickle to the very root by a end on some daft-like ploy. But gang hand that can afford to waste nothing, your ways and fare ye weel. My cousin
not even an inch of barley straw, is on Francis heard it, and he went north wi’
the ground still. Amongst it are a few a white cockade in his bonnet and a
weeds; and they alone keep green, sword at his side, singing "Charlie's
how you may well wonder. There are come hame.' And Tam Crichtoun o' the
no hedges. The small fields, seldom: Bourhopehead got a sough o'it one sim
larger than half an acre, are marked mer's morning, and the last we heard o'
off from each other by low narrow Tam he was killed among the Frenchmen fechting like a fair deil. Once I ridges of earth a foot or two in width,
forming boundaries which
reheard a tinkler play a sprig of it on the pipes, and a’ the lads were wud to fol- spected by the plough. They bear a litlow him. Gang your ways, for I am
tle creeping grass, succulent and sweet, near the end of mine.” And the old good feeding for the cattle. Here and wife shook with her coughing.
there on these narrow margins, espe
cially where the So the man put up his belongings in a
thorny pack on his back and went whistling fields meet, are thickets of down the Great South Road.
shrub, and now and again a graceful
acacia whose feathery leaves hardly Whether or not this tale have a moral throw a shade. it is not for me to say. The king (who Far away, planted probably along a told it me) said that it had, and quoted road, you can see a straight avenue of a scrap of Latin, for he had been at large and spreading trees. Yes, it is Oxford in his youth before he fell heir the highroad, and on one side of it, the to his kingdom. “One may hear tunes side nearest to us, there is what looks from the Song of the Moor,” said he, like a thick plantation. It is a mango “in the chick of a storm on the scarp of grove, and you may be sure the village a rough hill, in the low June weather, is not far from it. You cannot discern
it, but if you look closely—the atmo- mango grove do not seem to feel the sphere is so dense with heat-haze and heat. They are green and fresh, and dust that every outline is blurred as by their shade is grateful, yet the hot a channel fog,-you will make out a wind comes off from them with white spire, obtuse in shape, rising a heavy sickly breath. Up there on that few feet above what appears to be a withered branch is a crow sitting with mound of earth. That is the village his beak wide open gasping for air; temple, and the mound is the collection there are more gasping crows on the of mud houses which form the village. trees beyond. In
weather It is quite two miles away. The after- feels pity even for an Indian crow. noon sun is beating fiercely down on Here on the outskirts of the village is the scorched earth. It strikes your a huge pipal-tree. How juicy and head just under the shade of your hat. fresh its polished leaves look! It seems The wind is blowing hotter and fiercer able to find moisture anywhere, even in than the blast from the stokehole of a the dry centuries-old bricks of that steamer. Now and then it is seized ruined wall from which another big with a fit of fury, and tears up the dust tree of the tribe is growing. But this and sand from the earth it hates and one has a whole territory to itself. Its casts them up in blinding cloud. huge trunk is like fluted column, There on the road, where it finds a spreading out at the base to grip the clear course marked out and given up earth, while the branches stretch out to it, the wind whirls up the finely wide and low on every side for sixty powdered earth into a dust devil and feet and more. A little shrine built of urges it along the track at racing bricks and smeared with red paint speed. To hell with you, it says, to stands close in to one side of the trunk, hell.
and from one of the lower branches No wonder that there is no sign of hangs a round pot of baked clay with life in the fields. Ah! but there is water in it. A small hole in the bottom some. There, four or five fields off, is with a bit of rag lets the water trickle a man scuffing away at the ground. A down drop by drop on a smooth cone of hasty glance might miss seeing him, black stone, the symbol of fertility. his color mingles so with that of the The road narrows now as we near the earth. He is naked to the waist; he is village, and takes a gentle slope downscraping up grass from one of the ward-not that there is much difference ridges between the fields. When he in the level, but it has been worn down has gathered enough, he will take by the tread of men and cattle and the from his head the big coarse cloth grinding of the heavy misshapen cartwhich serves him as a turban, and will wheels ever since the village became a carry his grass in it. Farther off are village in the far-off time. Earth, too, others, men and women, occupied in a has been stolen from it after each like way. Others are cutting branches rainy season, to restore those high narfrom the thorny bushes, to be chopped row banks that protect the fields on up as fodder for the beasts. Until the either side from the cattle as they come rain comes, what else can be done? and go. For these fields near the Those whitish specks away there homestead are the best. It is easier to towards the sand-hillocks are cattle. cart manure to them, and they get all There will be a boy or two herding the refuse from the houses. They can them, little black fellows with a scanty be watered, moreover, from wells and loin-cloth and a long bamboo, only you from the three or four slimy ponds or cannot see them.
holes from which the clay was taken to We will walk on to the village, where build the mud huts and to make bricks at least there will be shade and a drink for the better houses. Even now in of water to be had, although, if you are this furnace of heat these fields are wise, you will bear with your thirst un. fresh and green,—this one with the til the sun goes down. The trees in the bright shoots of the sugarcane, that
with the tender glossy leaves of the well is a huge pipal tree. You young maize. Here and there near the hear the peculiar whistling coo and the best wells are vegetables of various restless rustle of flock
of green kinds, or spices or tobacco in small pigeons in its upper branches. Behind neat plots, like the seed plots of a the tree is the big gateway of the headnursery-garden. For there is no waste man's house, which is built of small here. The rent of this land is high, burnt bricks. On the other side, on a and it repays care and skill.
high plinth of earth, is an open shed From the outside the village looks spacious and airy, without side walls. like a mud fort or prison. The walls That is the village choupal, which stand up dreary and blank, the outer serves the purposes of a town hall or skin of mud rising in blisters and peel- assembly rooms. There are quite ing off in the heat. Hardly a window number of people there already, allooks outward; here and there you though the cattle are not yet home, and may see one high up in the wall of the day's field-work has not ended. some of the bigger houses. Its wooden They are squatting in a circle round a doors or shutters are open to let in wizened grey-haired old man, who is light and air, perhaps to allow the in- evidently some one of note. He is the mates to peep out occasionally. The village accountant. He has huge roofs are flat. On some the big stalks oblong book bound in coarse red canof the giant millet are stored for fod- vas on the ground before him. It is der; on others are heaped pyramids of open, and the strong black characters cow-dung cakes, the ordinary and al- of the figures are clear and distinct most the only fuel.
even from where we stand. It is the Entering the village, the road be- village rent-roll, and he is explaining comes narrow and tortuous. It runs their accounts to some of the tenants. between the blank mud walls of the He has a rude pair of spectacles with small yards which shut in the huts of thick clumsy frames upon his nose. the peasants. Low and rude doors of His turban is large and white, and he rough unpainted wood, polished only wears a long white calico coat fairly by the hands that open and shut them, clean, with tight pantaloons of the give access to the road. Here and same material. The men round him there a higher wall with quite a large are cultivators. They are in their ordigateway marks the house of some nary working dress, a pagri or turban richer man-a trader perhaps, or one of coarse cotton stuff wound untidily of the landowners. Narrower lanes round tbe head. No jacket or coat; a now and again branch off to this side dhotee or cloth of a light brick or dirty and to that from the main road, which white color festooned over the legs, grows more and more crooked as it ap- giving the appearance of loose trousers. proaches the centre of the village. Their brown backs glisten in the light, Was it mere 'haphazard that made it so and their muscles and sinews, hardwinding, or were these twisting lanes ened by toil, show through the skin. and the blank walls outside designed They are strong, well-fed men for the for defence? It may well be, for less most part, but slight of limb compared than a century ago the Mabratta and with European peasants. the Pindari harried these plains.
There is a stir at the door of the
headman's house. A tall, handsome Landlord and Tenant.
man about fifty years of age comes out, But here we are close to the head- Thakur Pertáb Singh, the landlord of man's house. There is an open space, the village. He is dressed much as the cramped, it is true, but still open com- others, except that he wears a coat or pared to the lanes we travelled by. In tunic, and his clothes are cleaner and the middle a big well, with raised and of better texture. He has a fine face, cemented margin; with posts and pul- a well-formed nose,
almost aquiline, leys for the water-drawers: beyond the the features regular, so far as they can