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their places, after much formal ceremony of scraping and bowing, blushing and curtsying, old, young, and middle-aged, of high and low degree, till in one moment all were hushed by the Minister shutting his eyes, and holding up his hand to ask a blessing. And “ well worthy of a grace as lang's a tether," was the MAY-DAY meal spread beneath the shadow of the GLORY OF MOUNT PLEASANT. But the Minister uttered only a few fervent sentences, and then we all fell to the curds and cream.
What smooth, pure, bright burnished beauty on those horn-spoons! How apt to the hand the stalk-to the mouth how apt the bowl! Each guest drew closer to his breast the deep broth-plate of delft, rather more than full of curds, many million times more deliciously desirable even than blanc-mange, and then filled to overflowing with a blessed outpouring of creamy richness that tenaciously descended from an enormous jug, the peculiar expression of whose physiognomy, particularly the nose, we will carry with us to the grave! The dairy at Mount PLEASANT consisted of twenty cowsalmost all spring calvers, and of the Ayrshire breed—so you may guess what cream! The
spoon could not stand in it, it was not so thick as that,for that was too thick,—but the spoon, when placed upright in it, retained its perpendicularity for a while, and then, when uncertain on which side to fall, was grasped by the hand of hungry schoolboy, and steered with its fresh and fragrant freight into a mouth already open in wonder. Never beneath the sun, moon, and stars, were such oatmeal cakes, pease-scones, and barley-bannocks, as at MOUNT PLEASANT. You could have eaten away at them with pleasure, even although not hungry—and yet it was impossible of them to eat too much—Manna that they were !! Seldom indeed is butter yellow on May-day. But the butter of the gudewife of Mount Pleasant-such, and so rich was the old lea-pasture—was coloured like the crocus, before the young thrushes had left the nest in the honey-suckled corner of the gavel-end. Not a single hair in the churn. Then what honey and what jam ! The first, not heather, for that is too luscious, especially after such cream, but the pure white virgin honey, like dew shaken from clover, but now querny after winter keep; and oh! over a layer of such butter on such barley bannocks was such honey, on such a day, in such company, and to such palates, too divine to be described by such a pen as that now wielded by such a writer! The Jam! It was of gooseberries—the small black hairy ones-gathered to a very minute from the bush, and boiled to a very moment in the pan! A bannock studded with some dozen or two of such grozets was more beautiful than a corresponding expanse of heaven adorned with as many stars. The question, with the gaucy and generous gudewife of Mount Pleasant, was not _"My dear laddie, which will ye hae—hinny or jam ?” but, “ Which will ye hae first ?” The honey, we well remember, was in two huge brown jugs, or jars, or crocks; the jam, in half-a-dozen white cans of more moderate dimensions, from whose mouths a veil of thin transparent paper was withdrawn, while, like a steam of rich distilled perfumes, rose a fruity fragrance, that blended with the vernal balminess of the humming Sycamore. There the bees were all at work for next May-day, happy as ever bees were on Hybla itself; and gone now though be the age of gold, happy as Arcadians were we, nor wanted our festal-day or pipe or song; for to the breath of Harry Wilton, the young English boy, the flute gave forth tones almost as liquid sweet as those that flowed from the lips of Mary Morrison herself, who alone, of all singers in hut or hall that ever drew tears, left nothing for the heart or the imagination to desire in any one of Scotland's ancient melodies,
Never had Mary Morrison heard the old ballad-airs sung, except during the mid-day hour of rest, in the corn or hay field—and rude singers are they all-whether male or female voices-although sometimes with a touch of natural pathos that finds its way to the heart. But as the nightingale would sing truly its own variegated song, although it never were to hear any one of its own kind warbling from among the shrubroots, and the lark, though alone on earth, would sing the hymn well known at the gate of heaven, so all untaught but by the nature within her, and inspired by her own delightful genius alone, did Mary Morrison feel all the measures of those ancient melodies, and give them all an expression at once simple and profound. People who said they did not care about music, especially Scottish music, it was so monotonous and insipid, laid aside their indifferent looks before three notes of the simplest air had left Mary Morrison's lips, as she sat faintly blushing, less in bashfulness than in her own emotion, with her little hands playing perhaps with flowers, and her
eyes fixed on the ground, or raised, ever and anon, to the roof. “In all common things,” would most people say, “she is but a very ordinary girl—but her musical turn is really very singular indeed ;"—but her happy father and mother knew, that in all common things—that is, in all the duties of an humble and innocent life, their Mary was by nature excellent as in the melodies and harmonies of song—and that while her voice in the evening-psalm was as angel's sweet, so was her spirit almost pure as an angel's, and nearly inexperienced of sin.
Proud, indeed, were her parents on that May-day to look upon her--and to listen to her—as their Mary sat beside the young English boy-admired of all observers--and happier than she had ever been in this world before, in the charm of their blended music, and the unconscious affection-sisterly, yet more than sisterly, for brother she had none- -that towards one so kind and noble was yearning at her heart.
Beautiful were they both; and when they sat side-by-side in their music, insensible must that heart have been by whom they were not both admired and beloved. It was thought that they loved one another too, too well; for Harry Wilton was the grandson of an English Peer, and Mary Morrison a peasant's child; but they could not love too well—she in her tenderness—he in his passion-for, with them, life and love was a delightful dream, out of which they were never to be awakened. For as by some secret sympathy, both sickened on the same day—of the same fever—and died at the same hour ;—and not from any dim intention of those who buried them, but accidentally, and because the burial-ground of the Minister and the Elder adjoined, were they buried almost in the same grave—for not half a yard of daisied turf divided them-a curtain between the beds on which brother and sister slept.
In their delirium they both talked about each other—Mary Morrison and Harry Wilton—yet their words were not words of love, only of common kindness; for although on their death-beds they did not talk about death, but frequently about that May-day Festival, and other pleasant meetings in neighbours' houses, or in the Manse. Mary sometimes rose up in bed, and in imagination joined her voice to that of the flute which to his lips was to breathe no more ; and even at the very self-same moment- -so it wonderfully was
did he tell all to be hushed, for that Mary Morrison was about to sing the Flowers of the Forest.
Methinks that no deep impressions of the past, although haply they may sleep for ever, and seem as if they had ceased to be, are ever utterly obliterated; but that they may, one and all, reappear at some hour or other however distant, legible as at the very moment they were first engraven on the memory. Not by the power of meditation are the long-ago vanished thoughts or emotions restored to us, in which we found delight or disturbance; but of themselves do they seem to arise, not undesired indeed, but unbidden, like sea-birds that come unexpectedly floating up into some inland vale, because, unknown to us who wonder at them, the tide is flowing and the breezes blow from the main. Bright as the living image stands now before us the ghost—for what else is it tha the ghost—of Mary Morrison, just as she stood before us on one particular day—in one particular place, innumerable years ago! It was at the close of one of those midsummer days which melt away into twilight, rather than into night, although the stars are visible, and bird and beast asleep. All by herself, as she walked along between the braes, was she singing a hymn,
" And must this body die ?
This mortal frame decay ?
Lie mouldering in the clay ?” Not that the child had any thought of death, for she was as full of life as the star above her was of lustre—tamed though they both were by the holy hour. At our bidding she renewed the strain that had ceased as we met, and continued to sing it while we parted, her voice dying away in the distance, like an angel's from a broken dream. Never heard we that voice again, for in three little weeks it had gone, to be extinguished no more, to join the heavenly choirs at the feet the edeemer.
Did both her parents lose all love to life, when their sole daughter was taken away? And did they die finally of broken hearts ? No—such is not the natural working of the human spirit, if kept in repair by pure and pious thought. Never were they so happy indeed as they had once been—nor was their happiness of the same kind. Oh ! different far in resig
nation that often wept when it did not repine-in faith that now held a tenderer commerce with the skies ! Smiles were not very long of being again seen at Mount Pleasant. An orphan cousin of Mary's—they had been as sisters—took her place, and filled it too, as far as the living can ever fill the place of the dead. Common cares continued for a while to occupy the Elder and his wife, for there were not a few to whom their substance was to be a blessing. Ordinary observers could not have discerned any abatement of his activities in field or market; but others saw that the toil to him was now but a duty that had formerly been a delight. Mount Pleasant was let to a relative, and the Morrisons retired to a small house, with a garden, a few hundred yards from the kirk. Let him be strong as a giant, infirmities often come on the hard-working man before you can well call him old. It was so with
dam Morrison. He broke down fast, we have been told, in his sixtieth year, and after that partook but of one sacrament. Not in tales of fiction alone do those who have long loved and well, lay themselves down and die in each other's arms. Such happy deaths are recorded on humble tombstones ; and there is one on which this inscription may be read—“HERE LIE THE BODIES OF ADAM MORRISON AND OF HELEN ARMOUR HIS SPOUSE. THEY DIED ON THE 1ST OF MAY 17—. HERE ALSO LIES THE BODY OF THEIR DAUGHTER, MARY MORRISON, WHO DIED JUNE 2, 17—,” The headstone is a granite slab—as they almost all are in that kirkyard—and the kirk itself is of the same enduring material. But touching that grave is a Marble Monument, white almost as the very snow, and, in the midst of the emblazonry of death, adorned with the armorial bearings belonging to a family of the high-born.
Sworn Brother of our soul! during the bright ardours of boyhood, when the present was all-sufficient in its own bliss, the past soon forgotten, and the future unfeared, what might have been thy lot, beloved Harry Wilton, had thy span of life been prolonged to this very day? Better-oh! far better was it for thee and thine that thou didst so early die ; for it seemeth that a curse is on that lofty lineage ; and that, with all their genius, accomplishments, and virtues, dishonour comes and goes, a familiar and privileged guest, out and in their house. Shame never veiled the light of those bold eyes, nor