The Ayrshire Legatees (Chapter 10, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 10

On Friday, Miss Mally Glencairn received a brief note from Mrs. Pringle,
informing her, that she and the Doctor would reach the manse, "God
willing," in time for tea on Saturday; and begging her, therefore, to go
over from Irvine, and see that the house was in order for their
reception. This note was written from Glasgow, where they had arrived,
in their own carriage, from Carlisle on the preceding day, after
encountering, as Mrs. Pringle said, "more hardships and extorshoning than
all the dangers of the sea which they met with in the smack of Leith that
took them to London."

As soon as Miss Mally received this intelligence, she went to Miss
Isabella Tod, and requested her company for the next day to Garnock,
where they arrived betimes to dine with Mr. Snodgrass. Mrs. Glibbans and
her daughter Becky were then on a consolatory visit to Mr. Craig. We
mentioned in the last chapter, that the crying of Mrs. Craig had come on;
and that Mrs. Glibbans, according to promise, and with the most anxious
solicitude, had gone to wait the upshot. The upshot was most
melancholy,--Mrs. Craig was soon no more;--she was taken, as Mrs.
Glibbans observed on the occasion, from the earthly arms of her husband,
to the spiritual bosom of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which was far
better. But the baby survived; so that, what with getting a nurse, and
the burial, and all the work and handling that a birth and death in one
house at the same time causes, Mr. Craig declared, that he could not do
without Mrs. Glibbans; and she, with all that Christianity by which she
was so zealously distinguished, sent for Miss Becky, and took up her
abode with him till it would please Him, without whom there is no
comfort, to wipe the eyes of the pious elder. In a word, she staid so
long, that a rumour began to spread that Mr. Craig would need a wife to
look after his bairn; and that Mrs. Glibbans was destined to supply the
desideratum.

Mr. Snodgrass, after enjoying his dinner society with Miss Mally and Miss
Isabella, thought it necessary to dispatch a courier, in the shape of a
barefooted servant lass, to Mr. Micklewham, to inform the elders that the
Doctor was expected home in time for tea, leaving it to their discretion
either to greet his safe return at the manse, or in any other form or
manner that would be most agreeable to themselves. These important news
were soon diffused through the clachan. Mr. Micklewham dismissed his
school an hour before the wonted time, and there was a universal interest
and curiosity excited, to see the Doctor coming home in his own coach.
All the boys of Garnock assembled at the braehead which commands an
extensive view of the Kilmarnock road, the only one from Glasgow that
runs through the parish; the wives with their sucklings were seated on
the large stones at their respective door-cheeks; while their cats were
calmly reclining on the window soles. The lassie weans, like clustering
bees, were mounted on the carts that stood before Thomas Birlpenny the
vintner's door, churming with anticipated delight; the old men took their
stations on the dike that incloses the side of the vintner's kail-yard,
and "a batch of wabster lads," with green aprons and thin yellow faces,
planted themselves at the gable of the malt kiln, where they were wont,
when trade was better, to play at the hand-ball; but, poor fellows, since
the trade fell off, they have had no heart for the game, and the
vintner's half-mutchkin stoups glitter in empty splendour unrequired on
the shelf below the brazen sconce above the bracepiece, amidst the idle
pewter pepper-boxes, the bright copper tea-kettle, the coffee-pot that
has never been in use, and lids of saucepans that have survived their
principals,--the wonted ornaments of every trig change-house kitchen.

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