Page:Traditional Tales of the English and Scottish Peasantry - 1887.djvu/84
8o TRADITIONAL TALES.
pressing through the crowd : " it is a sand-glass and cut, too, on the headstone of thy own grandfather. Black will be thy end for this." The boor turned away with a shudder; while the dame of Airnaumrie, with the black hood and large Bible, exclaimed : "Take away that foul memorial of old Gomorrha Gunson. The cause can never prosper that borrows defence from that never-do-good's grave. Remove the stone, I say, else I shall brain thee with this precious book." And she shook the religious missile at the descen- dant of old Gomorrha, who carried off the stone ; and no further attempt was made, after this ominous circumstance, to augment the rampart.
Amid all this stir and preparation I had obtained but an indistinct knowledge of the cause which called into action all the grave, impatient, and turbulent spirits of the district. This was partly divulged in a conversation between two persons, to which there were many auditors. One was the male broad-bonneted disciplinarian who rebuked me for displaying the contents of my pack; and the other was the sour-visaged, shrilled-tongued dame who rescued my pack from the peril of pillage on the road, and with the true antique spirit of the Reformed Church lent her voice to swell the clamour of controversy. Their faces were inflamed and their voices exalted by the rancour of mutual contradiction ; and it was thus I heard the male stickler for the kirk's free- dom of election express himself: "I tell thee once, woman, and I tell thee again, that the kirk of Bleeding Heart there, where it stands so proud and so bonnie, by the side of that auld carcase of the woman of Rome I tell thee it shall stand empty and deserted, shall send forth on Sunday a dumb silence, and the harmony of her voice be heard no more in the land rather than she shall take, like a bride- groom, to her bosom that sapless slip of the soul-misleading and Latin-quoting university. Instead of drinking from the pure and fresh well-head, we shall have to drink from the muddy ditch which men have dug for themselves with the spades and shovels of learning. Instead of the downpouring of the frank and heaven-communicated spirit, we shall have the earthly spirit the gross invention and fancy of man ; a long, dull, downcome of a read sermon, which falls as seed on the ocean and chaff on the furrowed land. Besides all this, is not this youth, this Joel Kirkpatrick, a slip or scion from the poisonous tree of patronage, that last legacy from