Page:Lippincotts Monthly Magazine-94.pdf/366

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



“People here do not speak with nearly so broad an accent as the people in Scotland,” I remarked to my landlady the morning after my arrival in the Orkney Islands, “and I notice the names do not sound Scotch—Cutt, Twatt, Flett, Cursiter, and soon. How is that?” My hostess stiffened visibly.

“They are not Scotch we are not Scotch we did not come from Scotland have ye never heard of the Norsemen from beyond the seas we are the descendants of them we are not of Scotch blood ye do not call the English Irish ye do not to call us Scotch.” The utterance of the typical Orcadian, delivered as it is without a single pause or change of inflection, is very suggestive of saga-repeating ancestors. Of their Norse ancestry the natives are very proud, indignantly repudiating, as will be seen, the idea that their forebears were Caledonians.

“I beg your pardon,” I returned humbly, and to change the subject plunged into the theme of afforestation. The venture was an unfortunate one, as trees refuse to grow on the islands.

“Trees spoil the scenery,” declared my hostess. “We would not have them if we could if ye go to the Southland ye cannot see anything of the scenery for the trees we like to see the scenery.”

“I’ve heard there were Picts’ houses here,” I said desperately. “Can you tell me where there is one of these houses?”

“I’m not wanting ye to wander around among old stones it’s the truth I’m telling ye I’ll tak′ ye to see the Widow Flett′s new house it is bonny.”

“But it is the old things I am most anxious to see! I’ve seen new houses all my life, but I never saw anything that belonged to a Pict. I think I’ll go to-morrow and visit the ‘Maeshowe.’ Some people think the Picts built that, don’t they? And there’s a circle of ‘Standing Stones’ near by, I’ve been told.” There was some further talk about the Widow Flett′s house, but I carried my point. My companion volunteering to write on ahead and engage a night′s lodging for me at her sister′s mother-in-law’s cousin'′s in the village of Strom-