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thereafter were on their way with their guns and dogs, to the Glen of Ogilvy and the Sidlaw Hills.
Looking out in the evening to welcome the sportsmen home, I thought I could descry in the distance, coming along the white dusty road, a dark group of people huddled together in a manner such as I had never
seen before. My father coming out of the house at the same time, I called his attention to the circumstance.
As we intently gazed, the strangely grouped living mass gradually approached until we could distinctly discern what appeared to be a bier covered with a white sheet, supported on the shoulders of several men who seemed to stagger under their heavy burden.
“Something has happened to David,” wildly exclaimed my mother who had come behind us unobserved. This exclamation brought the whole household to the garden gate, from which the road through the glen could, for some distance, be distinctly seen.
It was an anxious group that which looked out in affectionate longing to the glen, the most tender solicitude being strongly marked in every countenance, save that of the tailor, on which was depicted that sinister, eager expression which desired anything but good news.
Nearer and nearer the mysterious procession came slowly along the rugged, winding road. At the junction of the turnpike with the bye-road leading to Airniefoul, the west shoulder of the Hunter-Hill with its dark and sombre wood, hid it for a time from our sight. Soon, however, it emerged again with awful distinctness. There was no mistaking the nature of that ominous procession now !
Amidst the most oppressive, death-like silence, the sad assemblage with their white-covered bier, slowly, and measuredly approach the farm. One of the group is seen to disengage himself from his fellows, and advance with a quicker pace to the place where we stood in the most painful state of suspense and expectancy. My father, unable to move, remains rivetted to the spot. All eyes are bent, all hearts are turned to the coming messenger. Hush ! we hear the ominous sound of his fast approaching footsteps ! A moment more, and my
father and he are in earnest converse. “David shot !”_huskily screeched the tailor, who had, with his usual cunning, contrived to hear every word that had passed between the messenger and my father.
True it was, my brother was shot, and that was his body now borne on a shutter into the house of mourning on the shoulders of his youthful and sorrowing comrades. Eager in pursuit of game, he was somewhat carelessly carrying his loaded gun, yet keeping it in a position to fire at a moment's notice, when a rut in the hill caught his foot, and on falling heavily, the charge went off, lodging as it was supposed in his left side.
When laid upon the bed, the first thing that my father did was to feel his pulse, while my mother clasped his brow. A moment of dread suspense—and the joyful words are heard alternately from their lips—“He lives!” “ He lives !”
Tenderly undressing him, we soon discovered the rugged wound, all clotted with crimson gore.
“Staunch the wound,” calmly said my father—“Bathe his brow with water—be guided by circumstances what to do until my
return." A few minutes more, and he was on his swift-footed horse on the road to Forfar, to fetch with all speed the family doctor.
Fortunately he found Dr Steele at home; who, in an almost incredibly short space of time was at the bedside of his patient.
The ugly wound was thoroughly examined by the doctor, and to our great relief, pronounced, emphatically, not to be dangerous.
“The ball has passed,"—said Dr Steele, “ clean through the fleshy part of the thigh, leaving only a rather serious fleshwound to receive my attention and care. With the probing and dressing it has now got, should the patient keep free from fever, I have no fear of the result.”
All now breathed more freely, and a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty Preserver, with one exception, pervaded every heart. I was at this time but a stripling, and not much given to serious reflection. It did not, however, escape my notice, that whereas all others seemed overjoyed at the happy turn the untoward event had taken, a shadow of disappointment rested darkly on the cadaverous countenance of the tailor.
My brother passed a good night without exhibiting any symptoms of fever, and when the worthy doctor paid his visit next afternoon, his patient, though weak from the loss of so much blood, was able to converse with him as to the particulars of the accident, and how he now felt as giving good hopes of his
recovery. The day following being the market day, my father wishing to superintend some rather particular drainage operations himself, despatched my brother John to Dundee to transact the necessary business there ; remaining at home to meet the factor and land-surveyor before commencing the work which was then quite new, and almost unknown in the glen or Howe.
The day had throughout been oppressively sultry and warm; and towards afternoon, dark, murky thunder-clouds swept ominously across the troubled sky. Darker and darker grew the lurid heavens, the lightning flashes momentarily lighting up the deepening gloom ; and the rattling thunder bellowing in its wrath among the hills, startlingly breaking the awful silence of the scene, and shaking, so as to be felt, the very depths of the now trembling foundations of the rocky glen. The rain now fell in torrents, and wildly swept along by the howling winds, every glack and runnel in the Sidlaws became a leaping cataract, or a rushing stream.
The storm abated not. The shadows of evening overspread the troubled glen—and my brother came not. The deep darkness of the dismal night succeeded—but he came not. The midnight hour had passed-yet he came not !
“The second part of my prediction fulfilled "—triumphantly whispered the ever-watchful tailor. The remark fortunately was not overheard by my father or mother whose minds were too much occupied to bandy words with such a base disturber of their peace.
At day-break my father was on his way to Lumleyden to endeavour to gather some tidings of his missing son at the hostelry in the pass which romantically unites the glen of Ogilvy to the lowland region beyond. The storm had now spent its fury, and calmness reigned again throughout the glen.
To my father's anxious enquiries, the reply at the toll-gate was, that
my brother had not passed on his way home. He had not been seen by any of the inmates since the previous morning when he rode past on his way to market !
Anxiously awaiting my father's return, we heard from his lips, with dismay and grief, the unwelcome tidings. My father, however, being a man of action, his horse was kept ready saddled at the gate; and after having partaken of an early and hurried breakfast, he was soon thereafter on his way to Forfar.
The day passed without any tidings having reached us as to the lost brother. Towards evening the tailor—who had finished his work at the farm, and gone to Hayston that morning, to commence an engagement there,—was, to the surprise of everyone, observed, coming at a rapid rate down the road to Airniefoul. His visit, it was universally surmised, boded no good, and every one was prepared for the reception of evil tidings.
“Read that, lassie"-hurriedly exclaimed the tailor to Annie Glen, one of the servant-maids, as he advanced to the middle of the kitchen where she stood amongst the eager, expectant group of domestics, holding out to her at the same time, a tattered and well-thumbed copy of a local newspaper, more than a fortnight old.
Annie, as was to be expected, eagerly perused the paragraph pointed out to her. She uttered a wild, hysteric scream, and fell senseless on the floor!
Unheeding the piteous state of poor Annie, the tailor snatched the paper which she still held firmly in her grasp, and read aloud as follows—“Wreck of the Ocean Queen. This vessel was totally wrecked on the 5th instant, on a coral reef in the South Seas, and it is feared that all on board have perished."
Jamie Langlands, the betrothed sweetheart of Annie Glen, was a sailor on board the ‘Ocean Queen,' and this circumstance conclusively accounts for the sudden and distressing effect which the unexpected intelligence had upon her sensitive nature and feeling heart.
The stricken maiden, was not long, however in recovering consciousness. Staggering to the open window, which looked out upon the garden, she gazed long and anxiously, her attention apparently rivetted and fixed upon some object in the far distance. Another scream, but of a different kind, escaped from her pallid lips. It was a scream of joy--pure, unmitigated, triumphant joy!
“ There's either Jamie Langlands or his ghaist ”—she cried “It is—it is himsel—my ain dear Jamie !”
And, sure enough, as we eagerly gazed, there, on the road to the farm, came rocking along the well known form of Jamie Langlands. A few minutes more, and he and Annie Glen were clasped in true sailor-like fashion, in each other's warm and tender embrace !
The unreflecting tailor, in his eager anxiety to be the messenger of ill news, had apparently forgotten, that there might be more than one Ocean Queen’amongst the mercantile navy of Britain ; and that, sometimes, good news travels with as great rapidity as bad !
Notwithstanding the uncertainty of my brother's fate, and the consequent gloom still brooding over our spirits, we could not refrain from sharing in the general joy, and joining with that of other's, our congratulations to the happy lovers with the most fervent wishes for their future welfare.
Scarcely had these expressions of kindness and good will