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thoughts if you will, as the trains, which “No me," answers the dark porter, go everywhere except to the one partic- marching off, dully surprised,- for why ular spot where you wish to go, rush should there be anything to see? And plunging, clanging, whistling past, or then silence falls upon Ladybank. Every stop with heavy jar and groan, and set ten minutes or so a feverish gleam of out again with slow reluctance as trains excitement arises, as with a compound of naturally do in Fife. For though the all horrible sounds, jar, screech, creak, country is rich and thriving, and though clang, and roar, demoniac and excruciatthere are factories, coal-pits, distilleries, ing, a coal train, or a cattle train, or a and iron-works all within reach, it is in- goods train, or, in short, any train except conceivable how leisurely the people are, the one you wait for, groans up to you and how little it seems to matter to any with many a puff and snort, and groans one that they have an hour or two to wait off again, leaving more smells and smoke at a junction - so much effort as would behind. The silence which intervenes is suffice to make the trains correspond with deep as death; it is the silence of useless each other, does not seem to be consid- and angry leisure, not knowing what to ered possible. The men of Fife shrug do with itself. In the distance there are their shoulders, as if they were so many three platelayers repairing something Italians, and laugh, and — put up with, and conversing at intervals ; and the the delay. And in the East of Fife Lady-i hose by which the trains are supplied bank is as much an institution as is the with water keeps dripping ; and the pasclub-house at St. Andrews, or the island sengers who keep up courage crush the of May.
gravel under their feet as they walk up There is a certain amount of permanent and down; and those who have given in though continually changing company at to despair glare each from his corner. Ladybank in all the different stages of The platelayers are the only beings on impatience and weariness. Here and earth whom we have soul enough to envy. there in the dark corners you will find a The spell of the place is not upon their man reduced to the lowest level of mis- souls ; they can laugh still, light-hearted anthropy, scowling at the world in gen-wretches, as they go on deliberately with eral from the depths of a despair which their work. is very far from being divine ; while Nor is there any literature to be found another walks up and down with a sickly in the Fife Limbo. The welcome booksmile trying to make the best of the cir- stand with volumes red and yellow exists cumstances, and get some amusement not here, though even the “ Headless from the very forlornness e his situation. Horseman ”or the “ Wild Hunter of the This philosopher looks shyly at you as Prairies,” or the “ Jumping Frog”itself you wait, with a wistful attempt to open would be welcome. At certain hours communications ; but he is too much indeed you may find newspapers — the subdued by circumstances to venture valuable “Scotsman,” the trusty “ Couupon any bold initiative ; all that he can rant,” the flying broadsheets of Dundee. do is to put dreary questions to the dark I do not know whether the “St. Andrews porter, who marches up and down master Gazette” or “Citizen” are current at of the situation, taciturn and solemn, yet Ladybank; but these are indeed literary full of business. “Will it be long, do prints such as rejoice the heart, containyou think,” the poor wayfarer asks in- ing tales of thrilling interest, splendid in quisitively, “ before the train for Perth sentiment, virtuous in feeling, and emcomes up?"
bracing a varied world of interest, from “She's due," says the dark porter. the modest narrative of how Anne kept
“ It has been due for half an hour,” the her place, and Ellen lost hers, up to the meek traveller replies. “I suppose the darkly romantic history of the “Heritage trains are often late at this time of the of Clanranald, or the Baronet's Secret,”
which now keeps the subscribers of one Ay - she's often late."
of these journals in an excitement more “ This is the right side for Perth ?” eager than ever was produced by Dick“ Yes."
ens or Thackeray; but only at rare inter“ You are quite sure ? And my boxes vals is such distraction procurable. Ladyare all labelled and cannot go astray ? ” bank promotes a more solid strain of re“ No."
flection. Sermons which we have all “ And — can't you tell me of anything heard without listening come back to us to see or do?" asks the traveiler in des- as we wait. How often have we been pair.
told of the flight of time, the waste of
opportunity, the loss of precious hours ! is, everybody knows, one of the chief how often — with small effect enough! historical interests of the neighbourhood. but here a thousand metaphors which It has various titles to our attention. It pass over us lightly in happier circum- affords in homely Fife a glimpse of stances, come home, as the preachers half-Highland scenery, dirk water sursay, to our hearts. The sunshine creeps rounded by hills, which, if small in actual along from one part of the grimy gravel, height, are yet respectable in their groupblack with coal-dust, to another. The ing, and picturesque enough to refresh morning grows into mid-day, ripens an eye weary of broad fields and waving towards the afternoon. Bethink your corn, not to speak of potatoes and self, gentle reader ! so does your life as turnips. It has the romantic interest of noiselessly, less slowly than the moments having been the scene of Queen Mary's at Ladybank; and as the day goes on imprisonment, and of the events chronifrom eleven to three, so goes our ex- cled in the “ Abbot.” Beyond these two istence from youth to middle age, from charms of nature and history, it has morning to afternoon, from curls of gold another, not to be lightly esteemed, a to scanty locks of grey. Reflect! and practical and modern attraction. It is bless the directors who thus provide a richly stocked with very fine trout, well “ retreat” for you in spite of yourself, a worthy of the angler's and of the epihermitage to repose in and think, a seclu- cure's regard ; and perhaps it is this last sion as good as monastic. Many, alas ! advantage which attracts most of the pilinstead of blessing do the other thing – grims to the austere little loch, which so gnashing their teeth. But bless ye or often veils itself in clouds and mists, give curse ye, it matters little at Ladybank. ing itself all the airs of a really Alpine You are planté là — till the hour of your lake, a pretension ridiculously incompatideliverance comes.
ble with its real position, so near the But if I were but to recapitulate the East Neuk. All these combined charms agonies we have all suffered - if my attract to it many wandering parties from whole purpose was to bring up before the neighbouring district, and it was in you in imagination the anguish you have one of these parties that the hero of this quite lately (as this is the season of trav- brief tale found his way to the scene of elling) been enduring in reality - I the story. The party with whom he should be heartless indeed. No, gen- travelled came from St. Andrews. It tlest reader! it is not to repeat with hor- was headed by a cheerful little dumpy rible colours all the shunting, the clang- woman, the mother of most of the little ing, the groaning, and snorting — or the crowd; there were girls in it pretty diabolical pause between these tortures enough, and boys riotous enough, for which distinguish the Junction - that I any party of pleasure — carrying sketchcall upon you to listen. What I have to books, fishing rods, shawls, cloaks, umtell is a brighter tale. And specially for brellas, and, not least in importance, the solace of the many sufferers who hampers for the refreshment of the exhave dree'd their weird at Ladybank, is pedition – in short, an ordinary picnic this authentic narrative penned. It is party, in no way outwardly differing the story of one, who, happy among a from other parties of the kind. Hali thousand unfortunates, did so improve of them meant to make daubs in their the shining hour as to gather much sketch-books, which their kind friends honey for himself in this barrenest of would call sketches ; the other half spots, and to restore its natural sweet- intended trout, but trembled lest their ness to the name, which to most of us intention should fail to be realized. is conjoined with everything that is disa- They were full, as was to be expected, greeable. Forget the tedium, dear read- of speculations about the weather. The er, forget the blackness, the smoke, the clouds were gathering ominously over heavy silence, the still
odious the Lomonds; in the distance the darksounds! There are moments of fate in ness was seen to be pouring down upon which ingenious nature can make even various parts of the landscape ; a swellsuch tortures as these into instruments ing chilly breeze was about, in short, of happiness. Listen while I sing to you it was exactly what an August day might the song of Edwin and Angelina over be expected to be in the circumstances. again - the happy story of the Junction, This, however, did not tame the spirits the romance of Ladybank !
of the group. They prognosticated evil, I have already spoken of Lochleven as and laughed at it. They drew their being one of the spots within reach, as it cloaks round them, and grasped their
umbrellas, and told each other, with out- | as little sentimental as a man could be, bursts of mirth, how wet the grass and his aspect on ordinary occasions was would be on the island, and how pleasant totally different from that of a man in it is to picnic in water up to your ankles ; love." Yet certain it is that he had been and on the whole, I think that, but for distrait - so much so, that his hostess one shivering lady in a corner, and the had felt stealing over her that curious dumpy mother, across whose mind there mixture of irritation and discouragement glimmered a horrible suspicion that the which overcasts the soul of the enterfeet of her progeny must be clothed in tainer when the entertained refuses to be thin boots — the probable advent of the satisfied. The good woman felt humbled rain was looked on by everybody as a in her amour propre,- indignant with her very good joke, and likely to promote children who did not amuse him, with fun, whatever effect it might have on the the scenery which did not excite his encomfort of the party.
thusiasm, with the weather which would There was one member of it, however, not shine to help her, and with him who who did not seem to share these lively would not look as if he were pleased. anticipations. When I mention the Some people are more subject to this name of Captain Reginald Cannon of the sense of failure than others ; and I supArtillery, I am sure that my readers will pose that stout women of cheerful dispoat once recognize one of the mo rising sition are specially apt to be moved by young officers of the day – a man des- that amiable vanity which cannot be tined probably to lead the next costly happy without the approbation of its surraid by which England will indemnify roundings. Poor Mrs. Heaviside did not herself for non-intervention, and to come like the abstract looks of her visitor. back decked with the title of Lord Can- She planned expeditions for him, which non of Zanzibar, or some other equally he declined to carry out; she led him interesting designation. In the mean poor soul ! – to such mild wonders of time he was only Captain Cannon of the scenery as were within her reach, and he Artillery, and as fine a young fellow as would not admire. What could she do? you could see. He was tall and strong, At the identical moment at which this as became his profession. He had the story begins she was following him along eye of a hawk or a true soldier, which is the platform at the Ladybank station, perhaps the more satisfactory descrip- seeing dissatisfaction in every line of his tion – quick to mark and wary to watch big and manly, form. He strayed along
- and a countenance full of laughter and drearily (she thought), not caring where pleasantness when he pleased, but clos- he was going — his plaid hung limp over ing down in clouds and darkness when his shoulder, as plaids only hang in symanother mood was on him. He was thus pathy with some mental limpness in their cloudy and doubtful sometimes in aspect, wearer. His sketch-book drooped from but he was not doubtful in mind, nor did his hand as if he did not want to carry it. he hesitate or vacillate, so far as purpose All the rest of the party had burst into and will were concerned. He was one of expressions of ecstasy on seeing the Kinthe men of whom people say that they do ross train ready in its siding, once in a not let the grass grow under their feet. lifetime ready to start, or pretending to No grass ever grew, I promise you, under be ready to start. But Captain Cannon those active steps. When he had done did not care ; what to him was the Kinall the work that was required of him, he ross train ? what to him were the clouds was fond of adding on activities of his own. gathering the Lomonds, about He sketched, he wrote, he travelled, he which all the others were speculating so observed, he threw himself into music freely? He turned round with mechaniand the fine arts, or into sewage and cal politeness, and put Mrs. Heaviside drainage, as might happen, with a happy into the carriage without looking at her determination not to be beat, - which as if she had been a basket, she said indoes as much for a man as genius. Thus, dignantly. He threw in his overcoat, his you will perceive, it was no dilettante sketching things. He stood vague, dreary, soldier, no young ignoramus dragged and indifferent, at the carriage-door; he headlong through an examination, with put one foot on the step. The train was whom we have to do. During his visit about to move - or gave out that it was in the north, however, his demeanour had about to move — and with one foot upon been remarked upon by his friends as the step, Captain Cannon, with brow as graver and more distraii than usual. No cloudy as the Lomonds, was about to one knew what was the cause. He was I jump in
What happened? Mrs. Heaviside nev-/chance as possible of an accident, the er could tell — at least not till long after, excellent woman burst suddenly into when the story was told her in detail. vituperation “ What a pity we did not The Lomonds continued dark as ever, make up our minds to walk!” she cried, but all of a sudden a lightning gleam with bitter irony, and sternly rebuked the came over the clouded countenance be- levity of the young people, who persisted fore her a gleam like lightning, but in their foolish determination to make a softer. With curious low exclamation joke of everything. When the ca he turned sharp round, though the train came once more peacefully along-side of was all but in motion. “Get in, get in, the platform from which Captain Cannon Captain Cannon!” shouted everybody. had gone off, she put herself half out of He closed the carriage-door violently with the window, and called impatiently to the his hand, and with one spring and plunge porter. It was the same solemn individacross the iron way, disappeared! Let ual of whom I have already spoken, and the reader imagine what were the sensa- it was not till she had called him repeattions of the picnic party convened chiefly edly and with many gesticulations that he for his gratification. They all rushed to put himself slowly under way and apthe windows and gazed out after him. proached. “Porter," said Mrs. Heari. “ He has forgotten something,” said the side, “ you saw the gentleman who was most charitable among them. “Now standing here just now -- the one that this beats all !” cried Mrs. Heaviside. rushed away just as the train got into In the excitement and irritation her usual motion ?” good-humour altogether failed her. “I 'Ay," said the dark official. trust, my dears, we can all enjoy our “Do you know where he has gone? selves without Captain Cannon!” she He left us just when we were going to cried, elevating her head with a flash of start. He has left his coat and things sudden displeasure. I don't know what behind. Do you know where he has better reason a woman could have for gone ?” being angry. “Let us say no more about “ No me." him," she said, as everybody began to “ Has he been killed ?” cried some one question and to wonder.“ But it is very else from the carriage. rude of him, aunty,” said the prettiest “No that I have heard tell o'. Naegirl of all, who was not fond of Captain body can be killed here without letting Cannon. “ I hope it is he who will suffer me ken," said the man, roused for a momost;" cried the offended lady. “I al- ment to a glow of indignant eloquence. ways prefer that people should please “ Nonsense ! how could he be killed ? themselves. Let us speak of him no Did any train start just now for anywhere more."
else ?''asked Mrs. Heaviside, more enerBut it must not be supposed that this getic than lucid. sentence was carried into effect, or that “Ou ay; there's aye plenty o' trains." the deserter was not spoken of. What “ Then please go and find out where could he mean by it? where could he the gentleman went. We must send his have gone? everybody asked. Mrs. things after him. Go and ask Heaviside alone let her indignation get “ I have nothing ado with the other the better of her natural good temper. platform," answered the man in office, She closed her lips tight, and put Cap- doggedly. tain Cannon down in the very blackest of But you can ask. I tell you we have black books, as indeed he deserved. I got the gentleman's things This disagreeable incident clouded the " I've plenty o gentlemen to look after outset of the expedition more even than here." the gloom of the sky. Mrs. Heaviside, " Jump out, George,” cried Mrs. Heavithough she refused to say any more of side in wrath, “and call the station-masthe deserter, threw the feeling which he ter. I will not be insulted by a porter ; had excited into every fresh channel and here, take Captain Cannon's things. which presented itself: when, for in- Is everybody in a conspiracy to be rude stance, it became apparent that the train, to me?' As for the Fife railways, I canin the promptitude of which they had all not trust myself to speak about them —." been exulting, had not in reality the least “ They're just as good as other railintention of going off to Kinross, but ways, if no' better,
said the porter, merely meant to amuse itself for half-an- moved to loquacity by injured patriothour by making little runs up and down, ism; and thereupon he stalked away, to try the points, and get as good a strong in the sense of right. George,
for his part, made a joke of his mother's even if a queen’s, might look upon worse anger with the provoking levity common things than those glimpses of hill and to youth. “If Cannon chooses to go off wood and water which shine upon you, like a rocket, never mind what he leaves framed in the ruined windows of the old behind — that's his own affair," said the hall. From one you have the rugged lad ; and just then the train started in side of Benarty, slope upon slope, with earnest, and went steadily on to Kinross, the loch gleaming dark at his foot, and a where the rain, so long anticipated, came clump of green foliage in the shape of. down with a will. Mists descended, an island, set like an uncut emerald foiding Lochleven in their white em- against his deep-toned purply browns and braces. Benarty disappeared, and so did greys. From another you see little Kinthe Lomonds, and Mary's prison hid it- ross straggled upon the beach, with its self in such a veil as the castle of ro- low protecting spire, not lovely, but almance puts on when the fated knight ap- ways gracious and beseeming — its big, proaches who is to liberate its captive. bare, ruinous, half-French chateau showBut by-and-by these glooms broke up, ing upon a line of emerald lawn — and the mist rose, the clear dark-gleaming the dim hills beyond, by which Forth water with here and there a boat softly meanders in links of silver. I do not swaying on its still surface, got itself despise this scenery for my part: I created as in a poem. And then came doubt whether Mary saw anything half a break to the right, and a mountain- so picturesque amid the trees of Vershoulder thrust itself through the va- sailles, far less in her English prisons. pours, and then something shone out on To be sure her taste for the picturesque the left, and lo! a ridge of purple hill ! was probably limited, like that of most
Lochleven is not grand, my gentle of her contemporaries, and one does not reader — you will believe this, as it is know how one would like to be imprisonly in Fife, and no one has ever cele- oned on an island for the sake of the brated the natural advantages of the an- most beautiful of prospects. I think, cient kingdom, so far, at least, as the pic- however, that, for, say a month in the turesque goes — but for lack of a better, year, I should not object to try. Cerwhen you cannot find broader waters or tainly there is something strange and higher mountains, there is all the senti- wildly pleasant suggested by the thought. ment of Alpine scenery in this little loch. The post comes and goes, it is true, and Those gentle Lomonds, whose twin peaks newspapers and bills reach you with seharmonize so softly with the corn-fields vere impartiality, whether the fosse that and plenty on the other side, show here surrounds your dwelling be yards or in one mass, with a certain rugged am- leagues in breadth ; but yet there is a plitude and dignity – giving well nigh as sense of seclusion, a sharp, yet sweet much scope for atmospheric changes as consciousness of separation, in the fastBen Nevis ; and Benarty glooms with a ness of an island. I who write would sullen frown, as suits the whilom jailor like to commit some petty treason for of a queen. Round about the wide cir- which I should be imprisoned by her cle of the horizon are other ranges dim- Majesty (whom in Scotland call ly seen, the Ochils stretching softly in Most Sacred, and I like the traditionary the distance, the Perthshire peaks com- flavour of the title) one month, say Auing in behind. The deep water gleams gust, in a comfortable habitable place black under the rude boat, with its sides on some island not far at sea. This isle high out of the water, at which river in Lochleven would serve my purpose, boatmen gaze aghast; and green islets, or one of those in Loch Lomond, or even green to the very water's edge, lie scat- the leafy little paradise with its soft contered over the gleaming surface, strewn ventual stillness in the Lake of Menabout as in some pastime of the giants. teith; but on the whole I think I should Away in the dimness yonder rises prefer Arran, loveliest of mountain faint the grey remnants of a monastery, fastnesses. This, however, is again a St Serf's, where once bells rang and digression, and a personal one, the most masses were chanted ; and nearer lies unpardonable of any. But, dear reader, the castle, Mary's prison, where strong you do not expect me to tell how the walls and deep waters, and bolts and Heavisides picnicked - how they made bars, all failed to keep the fatal Siren of bad sketches and bad jokes, and claretScotland from her doom. There is no cup, and enjoyed themselves, and forgot guide but imagination to tell you where Captain Cannon. That would be to proshe was lodged; but a captive's eyes, fane the pathetic Isle with its ruined