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infinite research, in a dusty corner, served for three or four hours; but when the finis of these came in view, our looks asked how we were to kill time for a few days longer.
The son of Germany brought to light from the recesses of his portmanteau a fresh pipe and a paper of tobacco, which he used so vehemently, that in a few minutes we were all in the same predicament as Achetes and Encus when they saw Venus on the mountain. Monsieur St. Faux, whistled all the cotillions fashionable in the time of Louis XVI., and Isaac of New Jersey grumbled excessively that he could not procure an extra bottle of cider on this trying occasion. But when all were tired of these important avocations, we were once more at a dead stand, and more than one of us recollected at the moment Thomson's two lines,
"Their only labour was to kill their time,
Fresh wood was added to the fire, more as a defence against the damp than the cold; and with melancholy faces we sat round the hearth, with whose every brick we were become familiar! When we had remained in silence (the silence of the tongue only, for our looks too plainly told what our feelings were) for some time, the Scot having given a loud hem! broke forth as follows: "Weel, here we are, gentlemen, and without doubt, here will we be much longer; and we have read all the literary productions in the tenement, and hae tried hard and lang to amuse ourselves. But we must do something new, I fear, to make our sojourn here agreeable and pleasant; and therefore I propose that we, each of us, relate some tale, adventure or story, either of himself or others, which, however indifferent in itself, may be tolerably amusing or interesting to us at present." "With all my heart, with the greatest pleasure imaginable," cried the polite M. St. Faux, "provided my very good friend, Monsieur M'Farland, set the example." "Ya, ya," (said the German) "it is put proper he shoot!" to which we all assented; and accordingly Mr. M'Farland having seen that his wife, who was indisposed, was sleeping, and prefaced his narration by laying another log on the fire, and informing us that he feared he could tell us little worthy of our attention, began as follows:
THE SCOTCHMAN'S STORY,
THE TALE OF SANDIE M'FARLAND.
"I think it really needless, to trouble you, gentlemen, with a long account of my progenitors, seeing, as Deacon M'Bride was wont to say, we are all, after all, but heirs of Adam, yet I must
observe, and with truth too, that Dumfrieshire could not boast of a better man than Allan M'Farland, when alive, poor man. When it pleased God to take him to himself from all the vanities of this world, I had just reached my twenty-first year; yet I trust that young as I was, no one can say that I neglected my father's affairs when too weak to attend to them himselfwithout boasting or vain glory be it spoken.
"When my father was decently laid in the kirk-yard, I found myself and two sisters somewhat younger than myself, left with but a little farm, and less money to support us, yet I felt not dispirited, for with God's blessing and my own industry, I believed we should be able to maintain ourselves on our paternal estate as my father and his did before us. We had been five years on the farm, our pecuniary matters bettering gradually, when we received a visit from a distant relation whom we had not seen since our infaney, who arrived barely in time to witness the marriage of my sisters to twa respectable farmers, who knew how to prefer modest usefu' lasses to those fantastic girls who had their heads turned giddy with visiting at Edinbo'ro', or London, maybe. The old gentleman, our guest, was thought poor, and now that my sisters were settled, I thought it my duty to maintain him during the remainder of his pilgrimage, which, poorman, was not long, for he was thrown from his horse a few months after, and lived but to squeeze my hand, and tell me where I should find his will.
"I thought nothing of the will until his funeral was over, and then you may think how surprised I was when I found myself left heir to £1000, in a banker's hands at Edinbo'ro', upon condition that if his nephew should ever return, it should be relinquished to him. This was an impossible event, as he had not been heard of since his departure for Canada, many years be fore, and having been from his brutal manners very unpopular, was little regretted, and soon nearly forgotten. Being after my return from the capital master of a sum which would with industry render me and mine independent, I made no delay in marrying my present wife, then a Miss Davies, whom I had long loved in the days of my poverty, and set out with her for a farm, I had purchased in the southern part of Ayreshire.
"What an immense difference a little gold makes in the opinion of men! I who had for years came unnoticed into G— kirk, was now received with bonfires and bell-ringing, in all the villages where the fame of my heirship had reached. "Wha is it? wha is it?" cried all the gossips to their neighbours at the next window! "Haugh! but the braw new gig," cried the patriarchs at the door sills. "And do ye see the bonnie laddie in it," yelled the youngsters farther out on the road, But when we arrived
at D, the nearest village to our new residence, the climax of honour appeared in the shape o' half a score o' broken heads owned by the unsuccessful champions for opening the turnpike gate-old fiddles of primitive construction, were brought out from behind old presses where they had lain in peace for at least three generations, and the price of rosin rose three per cent at the universal store of Donald M'Clenaghen.
"When we had got settled in our new farm, had visited all the visitable people in three parishes, attended balls and feasts without number, had driven the new gig through all the lanes and roads in the neighbourhood, and had spent a month at the watering-places of L- our desires and habits of living sunk nearly to their former level, though as Mr. Pope humourously and wittily observes,
"Now two puddings smoaked upon the board."
"We had lived thus for seven years in the quiet enjoyment of our prosperity, when the dark side of our picture turned up. I believe that I have not as yet mentioned to you, that we lived within sight of the ocean, just at a sufficient distance to enjoy its advantages without feeling our farm injured by the cold air which passes from it. There had not occurred a wreck on the coast since we had resided near it, when about the middle of November, 1810, a storm unequalled in the memory of the oldest resident, commenced. At sun-set the wind was heard in low moanings through the whole country. At midnight it increased to a tempest, accompanied with severe and continued lightning; and when the blasts bore tall oaks before it, and their crashing was heard, mothers thought of, and sighed for their own sons at sea, perhaps at that moment, perishing. When the day dawned, which was only known by the succession of a twilight to darkness, for the clouds obscured the whole Heavens and the Sun, numerous inhabitants rushed to the beach, some to render assistance to those whose fate it might be to be cast ashore on the coast, others for the hope of possessing the fragments of cargoes which the tide might cast on shore.
"On the cliffs and dryest rocks of the coast impervious to the dashing of the surf, the old fishermen were collected, each relating to his halo of listeners his own perils and dangers; yet it was universally owned that the present tempest was the severest that had happened in that part of the country since the memory of man. "The Lord forbid," suddenly cried old Davie Cameron, with whose group I was standing in a sheltered recess, "but unless these old eyes deceive me greatly, yonder to the right comes an ill fated vessel;" and instantly the cry of the mariners
above us, confirmed it. At first merely her lights hanging at her bow were dimly seen through the sheets of water which poured around us, but in a little time longer she appeared cleaving the waters with a dreadful velocity. She seemed an old square built vessel that had seen much service and was rapidly decaying, apparently one of those which pass regularly between Canada and Liverpool. Her mainmast was broken off close to the deck, and her tattered sails hung into the foam on each side of her. There was no one seen on the deck; but the cries, loud, long, and terrible, which were distinguished when the thunder ceased for a moment, proved that she was not untenanted. When within a mile of the mainland, the wind slightly shifted and drove her towards another part of the beach. Those who were collected near us ran on towards that part of the shore to which she appeared destined; and Davie and I followed after them about a mile, until we fell in with the Lord of who was in vain offering rewards to any one who would venture out to save those on board before the vessel should go to pieces. This she was expected to do instantly, for already was her keel heard scraping the hidden rocks, and her timbers sounded beneath the pressure of the billows.
"At length an immense mountain of water broke over her deck, a loud and desperate yell was heard, succeeded by the faint cries of drowning-then silence followed and nought was seen in the place where she had lately been, but fragments of wood, and floating barrels and bales of goods. Those on shore returned with sad looks and sad hearts, regretting that none was found daring enough to attempt the saving of human beings within sight-nearly within reach of us. Of those who had crowded the beach, none remained but a few professed wreckers, and some who hoped to save those whom the waters would wash to land. It was now past noon, and weary, wet, and sorrowful, I set out to return home, from which I had been absent for cight hours. When those who accompanied me on my return had proceeded about a quarter of a mile, our attention was attracted by a cry which we found to proceed from a person nearly within reach of the surf, who had fainted from the exertion of swimming to land from the wreck. His dress bespoke him as not a sailor, but there was a look about his eyes languid as they were, which proclaimed his ferocious temper. When we raised him we found him too much exhausted to move, and were obliged to carry him to Davie's cottage, where we procured a cart which conveyed him to my house. He appeared so ill with his sufferings that I had him immediately laid in bed, hoping that rest would recruit him. He awoke not until late on the following day, when his first effort was to cry out with a curse, demanding where he
was. He lay nearly insensible for three days, after which he regained his strength gradually, and in a month rambled all over the country, particularly on the cliffs which hung over the sea. Yet even when thus capable of exertion, he made no mention of departing, which we eagerly desired, as his company was far from agreeable.
"From one of his excursions he returned unusually late, and seemed still more ill-tempered than usual. He began, after a long silence, by inquiring in a dissembled tone of indifference, if I knew a John Duncan. I replied, I had known him when alive, but that he had been dead seven years. "He died poor, did he? continued our mysterious guest in an eager tone. "No!" answered I, "I have reason to believe not, for he left me, tho' only a distant relation, £1000, under condition of its reverting to his nephew, if he should ever return" "I am that nephew!" and starting up, he tapped violently at the window as a signal for the entrance of two old dames, who eager to make interest with the powers that be, readily identified him as Duncan's nephew, for which purpose he had placed them without the house. "I shall expect," continued he, "that you leave the place to-morrow, for I shall take possession immediately, and if any resistance is offered, your ejectment will be through force.”
We knew how useless it would be to resist, and being as unwilling as unable, to remain in a house where our stay would be through favor of one whom we disliked so much, on the following morning we set out on foot for Liverpool, leaving Ayreshire with far less ceremony than we entered it. We procured a passage for New-York, in which city and in Pittsburgh we have since supported ourselves, partly by the money procured from the sale of my paternal farm, but much more by our individual exertions. But lately being desirous of trying our fortune further west, we set out for a post about fifty miles beyond the Mississippi, whither we are now going.
Thus Mr. M'Farland concluded his narrative, to the truth of which his emotions, during the recital, bore sufficient testimony; and his account of the ship-wreck and of the return of his relation, furnished materials for waking and sleeping dreams, as we say, that night on our beds, to which, as it was growing late, we immediately betook ourselves.