The Ayrshire Legatees (Chapter 10, page 2 of 7)


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Chapter 10

The season was far advanced; but the sun shone at his setting with a
glorious composure, and the birds in the hedges and on the boughs were
again gladdened into song. The leaves had fallen thickly, and the
stubble-fields were bare, but Autumn, in a many-coloured tartan plaid,
was seen still walking with matronly composure in the woodlands, along
the brow of the neighbouring hills.

About half-past four o'clock, a movement was seen among the callans at
the braehead, and a shout announced that a carriage was in sight. It was
answered by a murmuring response of satisfaction from the whole village.
In the course of a few minutes the carriage reached the turnpike--it was
of the darkest green and the gravest fashion,--a large trunk, covered
with Russian matting, and fastened on with cords, prevented from chafing
it by knots of straw rope, occupied the front,--behind, other two were
fixed in the same manner, the lesser of course uppermost; and deep beyond
a pile of light bundles and bandboxes, that occupied a large portion of
the interior, the blithe faces of the Doctor and Mrs. Pringle were
discovered. The boys huzzaed, the Doctor flung them penny-pieces, and
the mistress baubees.

As the carriage drove along, the old men on the dike stood up and
reverently took off their hats and bonnets. The weaver lads gazed with a
melancholy smile; the lassies on the carts clapped their hands with joy;
the women on both sides of the street acknowledged the recognising nods;
while all the village dogs, surprised by the sound of chariot wheels,
came baying and barking forth, and sent off the cats that were so doucely
sitting on the window soles, clambering and scampering over the roofs in
terror of their lives.

When the carriage reached the manse door, Mr. Snodgrass, the two ladies,
with Mr. Micklewham, and all the elders except Mr. Craig, were there
ready to receive the travellers. But over this joy of welcoming we must
draw a veil; for the first thing that the Doctor did, on entering the
parlour and before sitting down, was to return thanks for his safe
restoration to his home and people.

The carriage was then unloaded, and as package, bale, box, and bundle
were successively brought in, Miss Mally Glencairn expressed her
admiration at the great capacity of the chaise. "Ay," said Mrs. Pringle,
"but you know not what we have suffert for't in coming through among the
English taverns on the road; some of them would not take us forward when
there was a hill to pass, unless we would take four horses, and every one
after another reviled us for having no mercy in loading the carriage like
a waggon,--and then the drivers were so gleg and impudent, that it was
worse than martyrdom to come with them. Had the Doctor taken my advice,
he would have brought our own civil London coachman, whom we hired with
his own horses by the job; but he said it behoved us to gi'e our ain fish
guts to our ain sea-maws, and that he designed to fee Thomas Birlpenny's
hostler for our coachman, being a lad of the parish. This obliged us to
post it from London; but, oh! Miss Mally, what an outlay it has been!"

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