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THE WOOING OF A SERIOUS MAN.
THE story I am about to there was no reason why Duntell is true in the main facts of can should not go to college, it. One day, in looking over provided he was able to sup
portraits of departed port himself there, which, inworthies, I lingered over that deed, he was not backward to of an old Highland minister, attempt. The minister who who
may be written of as Mr was then in Rhu Rannoch gave Duncan M Coll; and I him great encouragement, and studied the grave careworn
told his mother that, if he were face, furrowed by many not greatly mistaken, her son wrinkles, the story of his life would come to be a namely was told to me by one who man. Now, of serious and knew it. I was struck by a namely men there was at the certain incongruity between time great need, for the Church the romantic nature of the tale was distracted by enemies withand the oft-repeated assertion out and within, and there were that the character of its hero few in her that kept the lamp was singularly and notably of the truth burning — most “serious."
Perhaps one is apt being sunk in a dreary Moderto forget that the flowers of atism, overcome by the love of romance grow not always in ease and the sunshine of prossmooth gardens, but sometimes perity. There was no likeli-like rare plants—in rocky hood that Mr M‘Coll should ground, and at a high altitude. ever be of this party. When As the story concerns one of the right time came he left the Gaelic people, and was Rhu Rannoch for college, settold to me in the Gaelic way, ting out one good dry autumn I have not attempted to strip morning, his clothes tied in a it of the Gaelic flavour.
bundle on his back, and his
brother Rory keeping company Mr Duncan M Coll
with him for the first few miles from his boyhood of a nota- of the way. He was tall and bly serious disposition. When powerful, even at that time, others were at play, he would and on the first day made such be at work. There was in him good speed that before dusk he neither foolishness nor idleness, had put near seventy miles beand when it began to be said tween himself and his native in his native place that he had place, and he slept that night set his heart on the ministry, in the hollow of a hill above the people of Rhu Rannoch Glenmoira, with no more for a agreed that he had been like pillow than the bundle he took no less than that from his from his back. young childhood. His mother, At college Mr M Coll showed Elspet M'Coll, was a widow; himself as powerful in mind as but as she had another son, in body, so that he soon made
himself a reputation. He was man, and, above all things, a the most serious student of his serious man, for I abhor the time, giving himself to no such lightness and frivolity of the follies or distractions as did the present-day youth, and I could other youths, and when he won wish there was less of it in honours in the different classes my own family.” he took them very modestly, The aged Principal conseeming to set no undue store by sidered for a few moments. them, and never so much as men “The man you want,” said he tioning them in Rhu Rannoch. then, “is Duncan M.Coll. I During the summer he was in will send for him, that you the habit of working at the may see him for yourself, and fishing with his brother Rory, if you get him for your tutor, and each winter he returned you will get a good man.” again to college, and every He sent for Duncan, and year he seemed to grow wiser when he came it passed through and more thoughtful, and there the Principal's mind that he was always something about had never before seen two men him that seemed to set him together of so fine an appearapart from others as one who
The notable looks of had a high calling. As he Aranmore were well known, grew more able in mind, so he for it was a sight to see him seemed each year to become every year at the Assembly, more powerful in body, until sitting not far from the Modthere was not a man in allerator; his large frame bent Rhu Rannoch to equal him for forward a little, his hair white strength, or one who had so and thick, his eyes glowering remarkable an appearance. He or gleaming from under his was greatly thought of in the brows, according as he was place, yet such was his disposi- pleased or displeased. Mr tion that when the young M‘Coll was at this time in lassies smiled kindly upon him, the prime of his youth; his he did not so much as observe hair was of a ruddy brown, it, his mind being continually his brow massive, his eyes set on more important matters. changeful in expression as a
Time went until Mr woman's, and yet full of a fire M‘Coll had been eight years and sternness that were most at his studies, and just as his manly. The Principal marked course in Divinity was about that the height of the two to come to an end, M‘Kenzie men was equal, and that the of Aranmore came one day to eyes of the one were on a level the Principal of the college with the eyes of the other. “It and asked whether he knew was not my intention to teach,” of any one among the students Duncan said, after Aranmore who would make a likely tutor had spoken; “it is my wish for his two young sons.
“Have to begin my work in the you,” said he, "a man who has ministry with as little delay some weight and authority as as possible,—and yet,” he conwell as learning ? I should tinued, looking at Mr M'Kenzie wish a sound orthodox sensible with a hesitation that was
unusual with him, “I am and he thought of the thing much drawn to your proposal.” a good deal, for it struck him Aranmore bent his grey brows as remarkable. A ship sailed
“St Paul,” he to Isle Aranmore once a month, said, in his harsh voice, that and he took the opportunity was like the grating of a of going by the next one. He saw—“St Paul went for three had never been to the island years into Arabia before he before, although it lay out in began to preach. It might the Atlantic only about thirtynot be unbecoming for you five miles distant from his own to hold back
back for few home in Rhu Rannoch, and he months.' Mr M.Coll stood had often seen the hills of it still, considering. “I will against the horizon on clear
he said in few days. The weather was somemoments, and they shook what stormy at the beginning, hands, and there was
but it calmed down on the last a word of terms or anything day of the voyage, and Duncan else between them at that had a good view of the island time. When Aranmore had as the vessel came near it. It gone the Principal looked after was evening, but the light was him musingly. “Duncan,” he good, and he stood for some said to the young man, for time in the fore part of the whom he had particular regard, ship admiring the fine wild " that is a great man, and a
Presently his mind great churohman, and a great turned to what had been tyrant, and I will give you puzzling him. “Surely God one piece of advice about him knows what took me here,” he for he will be either a powerful said aloud, "for I do not." He friend or a bad
was not aware that there was Don't oppose him, Duncan, if any one near him, and he was you can help it. "Bow to the surprised when some one spoke log,' as the old saying has it. from behind, saying, “ Are you In anything that does not going to Isle Aranmore?” touch the conscience, “Bow to Mr M-Coll looked round and
saw a young gentlewoman he When he came to reflect on had observed more than once the thing, Mr M‘Coll could since he came on board the hardly understand how he had vessel. She had a fair pale consented to go to Isle Aran- face, and there was something more. He had made all his in it and in her voice that arrangements differently, and seemed familiar to him, though he had now to alter them and he did not know how that could make others, and he had no be. Her hair was the colour of desire for teaching, but was bright gold, and she wore eager to begin the work on small thin chain of gold about which his heart had been so her neck, and had the air and long set. He seemed to have appearance of a great lady. been suddenly moved by an Mr M-Coll took note of all this, impulse, as he never remem- though he had never been used bered to have been before, to observe such things. “I am
going to Isle Aranmore,” he and his will must be obeyed, answered her. “What are you and there was not a man that going to do there?” said the dared to oppose him. If he young girl, looking at him once said a thing, it was of no very straight, and speaking use to appeal to him or to exas though she had the right to pect that he might be moved. put any questions she pleased. It would be as well to appeal “I am going to teach Aran- to the hard rock, and many a more's two sons,” said Duncan. man found that out to his cost. “Then how did I hear you say Had he not been on the whole that you did not know why a good and just landlord, the you came ?” said the young people of Isle Aranmore would gentlewoman. It was not usual have been badly off indeed. that a stranger should put such In his own household Mr questions, but it did not seem M-Kenzie's rule was strange to Mr M'Coll at the complete. His wife had been time; and neither did he feel dead many years, so that there it so, when he began to speak was no one to share it with to her more easily than he had him or to soften it. His two ever spoken to a woman be- young sons were afraid of him, fore, telling her how he had and in their hearts at war with not wished for such a thing, him, and as they could get and how he seemed to himself none of their own way openly, to have consented to it against were minded to take it secretly. his will. "Perhaps you were Mr M‘Coll got cold looks and afraid of Aranmore," said the forced courtesy from them at girl ; "many people are afraid the first; but before long things of him.” “I am not afraid of were changed, and there was Aranmore," Duncan answered not a hero in the world they to that; “why should I be would
compare with him. afraid of any one except my Such feats of strength he could Maker?” The girl looked at do as they had never seen behim for a moment, and then fore, and he had such fearlessout on the sea. "I do not
sea or land as they think,” she said, as if musing had never known the equal of. to herself, “that I am afraid of They were young foolish boys, God.” After a little she turned and being so strictly brought and held out a small white hand up had no liking for serious in a friendly way. “I am Aran- things; but Mr M-Coll might more's daughter, Mr M Coll," be as serious as he pleased, and she said.
they thought none the worse of Mr M-Coll had not been long him. And in this respect he in Isle Aranmore before he dis was the same in Isle Aranmore covered the truth of what the as he had been in college, workPrincipal had said to him. ing early and late at his books, Aranmore was without doubt and Sabbath evenings
great man and a great preaching to the people with churchman, but above all he extraordinary powerand acceptwas a great tyrant. In all the ance. There was no minister island his word must be law in this part of the island at the
time, for Aranmore and the haved herself towards him with session could not agree on one great coldness and pride. And that would please them. Aran- if she was cold to Mr Duncan, more was against the Patronage Mr Duncan was no less cold to Act, which gave to the land- her, for he found to his concern lord the power of choosing the that her fair proud face came minister, and this being so, he between him and everything he would never use his own right did, disturbing all his thoughts as heritor, but sat in the session and studies, and even his sleep. and voted with the other elders. This troubled him greatly, and Yet often the people could not be set himself to prevent it, but wish that he had kept to giving himself little time for the old way, bad as it was, for rest and thought, and working in the session everything must early and late, so that he might be done according to his will, fill his mind with more profitand no one dared to go against able images. At last things him. The people had the were so strained between them appearance of freedom in their that it seemed as though the choice without the reality, for young gentlewoman put herself as soon as they were satisfied to pains to show how small was with a minister and wished to her estimation of Mr M‘Coll, call him, Aranmore would come whom all else in the island down from Edinburgh or Lon- honoured so highly, and Mr don or wherever he would be, Duncan, being of a very proud and there would be a session nature, and conscious of the meeting, and he would overturn distance there between the whole thing, and the elders them, and knowing it was of would be full of bitterness, and no use for him to think of her, one would blame the other for showed a coldness and stiffness something done wrongly, and towards her which, to say the yet none of them had the cour least of it, matched her own. age to defy Aranmore. So it And even the servants noticed came about that the church how matters were, and wonwas vacant during this summer, dered that a gentlewoman, who and, as I said, Duncan preached; was like an angel of kindness and although Aranmore said to the poorest in the island, little, he was highly pleased, should treat Mr M Coll in and did not interfere with the such fashion, for, whatever the tutor in any way, which was family he was of, his ways were the method he had of showing the ways of a gentleman, and his regard.
there was not a grander-lookThere was one, however, in ing man to be seen in the whole the Great House who did not country, unless it were Aranseem pleased with Mr Duncan more himself. M'Coll, and that was Margaret Matters went on in this way -Aranmore's daughter. Al- till the time drew near at though she had spoken to him which Duncan was to leave with so much kindness on the Isle Aranmore; and as that ship, she showed him no more time came there were great favour, but from that day be- lamentations among the people