[ocr errors]

En, ecce, hic, primum quartum quintumve re- me about myself as if I had been a stranger, quirunt,

and often with the humor which seemed never Heu petit et quintum, velut O, hei væque to leave him to the last. Even then, however, dativum.

the spirit of devotion never left him. Often

on going into his room I found him on his The dominie glanced them through, and knees, and as he was very deaf, I was obliged without a moment's hesitation gave this to touch him on the shoulder before he could rendering: 'En, ecce, hic, primum, - You be made aware that any one was near him. On see, my lord, I'm the first; quartum quin- such occasions the look which he turned upon tumve requirunt,

there will be four or me was invariably that of one lifted above the five seeking it; heu petit et quintum,

things of the earth. I shall never forget the Hugh asks five hundred marks for his expression -- it was so holy, and yet so bright

and cheerful. I was not with him when he good word ; velut 0, --- like a cipher as he died. The last attack of illness did its work is; hei væque dativum, — but wae worth

very speedily; but Miss Fulton told me that me if I gie it to him.' The lord advocate he slept his life away as quietly as an infant was so tickled with the schoolmaster's sleeps. ready wit, that he not only gave him the

It is characteristic of the unobtrusive living, but rebuilt both manse and kirk." Sunday with the bishop was always a that lives like those of Gleig and Jolly

work of the Scottish Episcopal Church, feast-day. He made a point of having lives which are capable of imparting a deep four or five members of his congregation lesson to a world that is not overburdened — poor, but gentle — to dine with him on that day. A half-pay lieutenant; a re

with earnestness and sincerity — should for duced militia officer, who eked out his the most part be hid within its own annals. small means by giving lessons in French; of lofty feeling and humble ambitions, have

Lives so simple and unpretentious, so full a couple of maiden ladies who made a

found a congenial chronicler in Mr. scanty living by selling tea; and others of

Walker. the same grade. Before these he would pour out his stores of humor and general talk as freely as when Dr. Parr and Mr. Ricardo, the political economist, were his guests. He took great delight, also, in

From Blackwood's Magazine. seeing young people happy; nor can we

THE GREAT UNLOADED. doubt that many, now grey-headed men and women, still look back with pleasure Johnstone, M.A. There are some grounds

He called himself the Reverend James on the little unpretending dances in which for believing that his Christian name was they took part under his roos, while the venerable man sat and smiled upon them James; on the other hand, there are the for an hour before retiring to his study, strongest grounds for doubting whether

his surname was Johostone. It matters and leaving them to the care of his faithful housekeeper and step-daughter, Miss Ful- not; he lives in my memory as “The

Great Unloaded." ton. In the account which his son gives of his last days we have beautifully por: in Scotland called Bogmore, not of great

My eldest brother Tom has a property trayed the closing scene of a well-spent life, ripe with years and honors; and a extent, but with very good mixed shooting. simple yet dignified dissolution as fitly ing; and when he took actively to politics

Personally he never cared much for shootcloses the career of a Christian bishop.

a few years ago, he practically handed over

the charge of the game to his younger The reverence which the people paid to the old man was very touching. A large stone

brothers. I usually appeared at Bogmore was placed on the footpath of the road which in the end of July or beginning of August, leads from the old Stirling Bridge to the vil. and remained until the middle of October. lage of Causeyhead. It was about half a mile, But in 187- I spent the whole of August or perhaps a little more, from his house. He on the Continent, and the first fortnight in used to rest upon it before returning. It was September with a friend in England, and called the Bishop's Stone; and if it be still in so did not reach Bogmore Castle until the existence, it retains, I have no doubt, the same 17th or 18th of September. By-and-by strength failed him even

I arrived in time for a late dinner. On for this, and for a year or so his only movement was from his bedroom to his study the entering the drawing-room I found that its one adjoining the other. Darkness set in sole occupant was a man who was standupon bím rapidly after this; and it is sad to ing at one of the windows. The evening look back upon, that though he knew me at was dark, and I could only see that he was first on my arrival, he soon began to talk to tall and bulky. He turned towards me,




[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and I bowed, and said something about just tennis. That he could play billiards I was arriving in time for dinner.

left in no doubt, as, during our conversa“Mr. Francis Douglas, I feel sure by tion, he gave me thirty in one hundred, and the voice," said the unknown. “ How like. beat me easily. your good brother's it is!” and he wrung “Do you shoot, Mr. Johnstone ?” I inme warınly by the hand.

quired, to exhaust the list of his accomFurther conversation was prevented by plishments. the arrival of the rest of the party, and in a “Ah! there,” he said, laying down his few minutes we were in the dining-room. cue, "you boys have the pull of the old “Mr. Johnstone,” said my brother, and the man. I love it, but I can't do it. Never unknown waved a hand over his glasses, can get my gun off in time; and if I could, muttered some words inaudibly, and we all there's usually nothing in it.

I'm a heavy sat down.

man, and slow at my fences; I draw my It was plain from the outset that dinner cartridges and forget to replace them. was a serious thing with Mr. Johnstone. But, Douglas, I must be off, or Linton and He adjusted his napkin as a man who has John will be dragging the Tay for me." a long, cold drive before him adjusts his And with these words he took his leave. rug, and at once possessing himself of the And now, Tom,” I said, “who is your nearest menu, read it diligently from be- friend ?” ginning to end. After a minute's anxious Tom thereupon made a somewhat disreflection he raised his head, and then for jointed statement to the following effect : the first time I had an opportunity of exam. He first met Mr. Johnstone in the beginning ining his face. It was massive and well- of August at a table d'hôte luncheon in shaped, and of a uniforın red, with the the hotel of S a neighboring village exception of the brow. The eyebrows which is rapidly being converted into a were shaggy, and the eyes, so far as visible fashionable summer resort. Mr. Johnstone, (for he wore enormous spectacles), were in the course of conversation, explained large and brown. He was clean shaven; that he was in holy orders, with a living in the lower part of the face was broad and the south of England (the name of which somewhat sensual, but when he smiled his was never revealed); and that following expression was very winning. He ap- high academic example he had come into peared to be between forty and fifty years the wilds for the purpose of coaching or of

age. He conversed little during dinner, grinding one young gentleman (who sat and ate almost incessantly, but with great next him) for his matriculation at Camdiscrimination. Once I saw an expres- bridge in the following October. He told sion of reproachful regret come over his Tom that this young fellow's name was face, like a cloud over a frosty sun, when, George Linton, and that he had a considerafter accepting and beginning operations able fortune, and was extremely well conon some grouse, he perceived that there nected, so highly and irregularly, indeed, was also woodcock. He murmured “Tut, that he (Mr. Johnstone) dared not whisper tut!” softly, looked again at the menu (in the quarter. Mr. Johnstone further stated which woodcock did not appear), and that he was in search of suitable lodgings glanced reproachfully at my sister-in-law but could find none in the overcrowded vilere he resumed his grouse.

lage. Now it so happened that at this Dinner over, on the motion of Mr. time there was standing empty a cottage Johnstone, instead of joining the ladies we belonging to Tom called “ The Nest." It adjourned to the billiard-room, where I was bad until recently been always occupied by formally introduced to him. In the course a watcher; but its last occupant having of conversation I mentioned that I had watched the game more on his own acbeen at Trinity College, Cambridge. count than that of his master, was in

Why, you're a Cambridge man, John- respect thereof dismissed; and Tom, who stone, are you not ? ” said Tom.

was very dilatory, had not filled up bis “Ah! those Trinity swells know nothing place. Before the end of luncheon “The of poor little Corpus, I suppose.”

was let for an indefinite number of I was forced to admit that I did not know weeks to Mr. Johnstone and his “beloved a single man in Corpus, whereupon he be charge,” as he was pleased to call him. gan to enlarge upon his university exploits. How the watcher's place was filled the By his own account he must have been in sequel will show. the university eleven, and one of the best On cross-examination Tom admitted that racket and tennis players of his day. He he had seen a good deal of his tenants spoke by name of several dons, whom I since the beginning of their lease ; that he knew, and asked if they still kept up their | had given young Linton (who did not care





for shooting) unlimited permission to fish "beloved charge,” who was currently be. both for salmon and trout; and that, in lieved to be a nobleman in disguise or temaddition to frequently asking Johostone to porary disgrace. shoot, he had given him leave to roam at To Tom he had become indispensalarge, with or without his gun (his “toy. ”ble. He was a good talker, and, when it he called it - it was as large as a howit-suited him, a better listener. He allowed zer), over the moor adjoining “ The Nest.” Tom to hold forth to him for hours upon At this statement I, as head keeper in his hobby for the time - politics, agriculvacation, gave a whistle of dismay. ture, the relations of capital and labor, or

“ You need not be alarmed,” said Tom, whatever it might be; and just spoke "he can't hit a haystack. As he said him- enough to show that he was listening intelself when he asked leave,' My toy is com- ligently. These conversations were utter pany to me, and can't hurt a living thing.' destruction to shooting, as not a bird withPoor old Johostone! you would have in earshot would sit; but then neither Tom laughed if you had seen him yesterday, nor his tenant cared much for shooting. with his gun at half-cock, and unloaded, While the return of October brings in hanging on to a bird till it went leisurely pheasant-shooting, it sends undergraduout of sight. But you can judge for ates (and their coaches) back to their la. yourself to morrow; I asked him to come bors; so, to accommodate Mr. Johnstone, and go out with you."

Tom good-naturedly agreed to shoot his And come he did, and again and yet best coverts in the second week of Octoagain ; and proved himself to be first-rate ber. The autumn shooting at Bogmore is company, but the worst of shots. He per- of a most enjoyable kind. The bags are petually drew his cartridges, and forgot not enormous, but there is a chance of to replace them. It was this ridiculous getting all kinds of game, including blackhabit which earned for him the title of game, woodcock (which breed there), and “The Great Unloaded.” But he was quite occasionally roe. safe; not merely owing to the frequent On the 10th of October - The Great absence of cartridges, but in the inan- Unloaded' arrived punctually, accom• agement of bis gun. And so Septem- panied by his man John (surname unber rolled away, and October came in. known), his “toy,” and a sack of cart. By this time Mr. Johnstone had become ridges, loaded, it may be here mentioned, universally popular, except in one quarter with sawdust-powder.

This same the Episcopalian clergyman of the place. dust-powder, which was at that time on its This gentleman tried again and again, but probation, Mr. Johnstone preferred to the without success, to induce Mr. Johnstone powder of commerce, because (as he exto take or assist him in his service. plained) it caused less concussion and less Mr. Johnstone said that he made it an smoke, and also (as he did not explain, invariable rule to refuse such requests, but as I now believe) because it made less and that his holiday would be no holiday noise. The beat before lunch was one of if he once gave in.

the best in the day's work; and special With this exception there were no pains were taken to post the best guns in bounds to his popularity. The young fel- the best places — and, of necessity, the lows liked him because he made them bad shots in the worst. Mr. Johnstone, laugh. He had been educated, I cannot accordingly, was relegated to a spot of doubt, at an English public school, and one great natural beauty, which was usually of the great English universities; and he unprofaned by a shot. He was not told had accordingly a fund of experiences to this, so he went to his post blithely. To relate. He had a way of interlarding his punish us for thus grossly deceiving a conversation with quaint words and phrases good man, no sooner were the beaters well that was very taking; and, but for his off, than it was seen that, contrary to cloth, he would doubtless have been a per- their usual custom, the inhabitants of the fect mint of strange oaths. Then bis wood, both furred and feathered, were, laugh, especially at his own jokes, was with one accord, flocking to “ The Great most infectious — a rich, gurgling laugh Unloaded's ” corner. It was necessary to expressive of deep enjoyment, and accoin. reinforce him at once. panied by a quivering of the whole frame. “Run, Frank,” shouted Tom

“run on By the ladies he was equally beloved; to the gate and head them! they are partly on account of his prowess at lawn- breaking away in scores, Poor old Johntennis, and partly (this was an instance stone is being mobbed.” Would that I of the converse of courting the child for had left him to his fate; he could have the sake of the nurse) for the sake of his / endured it. I at once hurried up the hill,


[ocr errors]

to the rescue, only to find that reinforce- derly on the turf. The sawdust seemed ments were neither desired nor required. scarcely to whisper as it slew the delicate Tom might have “stowed” his pity; poor morsel. John stepped forward to pick it old Johnstone was doing pretty well in his up. “John! John ! leave that bird alone ; painful position.

lay not your sacrilegious hand upon it.” As I rapidly approached the scene of He then advanced, picked it up,

stroked the reverend gentleman's labors I heard its feathers admiringly, and (oh, wonder !) the incessant report of the sawdust-cart- carefully deposited it in one of his pockridges; and on coming within twenty or ets, apostrophizing it thus, as he did so: twenty-five yards of the spot, a remarka. “You feathered joy, you condensed pleable sight met my view. “ The Great sures of the table, so succulent yet so Unloaded "

was transformed: he was portable, so young yet so thoughtful, flying spectacled and unloaded no longer; as he from the rash ignorance of youth to the would have said himself, “Spectacles wos experienced palate of age !”. out, cartridges wos in!” He stood with Cries of " woodcock” again. his back towards me, at one side of a ride, “Oh, James, this is too - too much !" with his great eyes, unobscured by glasses, Down came the bird ; and it was picked raking the covert opposite. The ground up, stroked, patted, apostrophized, and around was strewn with game. Just as I pouched in the same way as its deceased arrived a cock-pheasant came rocketing relative. Mr. Johnstone then extended over his head; he took it as it came, the fingers of his left hand, and thereon dropped it neatly at his feet, and reloaded with the forefinger of his right hand imin an instant. I was about to compli- pressively counted four. I now believe ment him on his success, when to my that the true meaning of this operation astonishment his man John, who had was that the reverend rascal had that day picked up the bird, proceeded to put it shot and pocketed four woodcock. Sudinto an enormous inside pocket in his coat. denly there came a wild cry of roe to the His master at once objected to this, but left;" Johnstone with the rapidity of lightnot on the ground I should have ex. ning changed his cartridges and tore off in pected and hoped. “Not him, John that direction. not him; how often must I remind you, I stood speechless with astonishment; he's as tough as old boots. No, no; give by degrees my bewilderment yielded to Mr. Douglas his dues. Oh, the forid indignation, and that again, as I took in taste of the uneducated and unrefined ! the true meaning of the scene, to a feeling Ha! my young and artless maiden, my of intense amusement. Neither Johnstone white-fleshed darling!”. and oh, shame! nor John had observed me — they were down came a young hen-pheasant - "this too much occupied - so I cautiously withis sad; here to-day, in the pot to-morrow: drew and returned to my old post. The pouch her, John; she's worth ten of her beat was soon over, and lunch appeared, worthy old sire."

and with it Mr. Johnstone, spectacled once And so he ran on, speaking partly to more and radiant from exertion and trihimself and partly to John, and killing umph. He had slain the roe; the news everything that showed itself with rapidity did not now much surprise me. and accuracy;

No protracted aim, no “ A game-bag for Mr. Johnstone,” cried empty barrels here. After killing a pheas. Tom; and Johnstone lowered himself on ant and an old blackcock right and left, he to it with a restful sigh, taking care, I exclaimed,

observed, not to sit down on the pockets " James ! James !” (this is my authority which contained his spoil. for believing his name to be James)“ “ this

“Well, how did the “toy' work to-day, is imprudent! but I must let out to-day. your reverence? There were not many Nothing more in your line, thank you. pauses in its discourse," said Tom. Monsieur le vieux Alphonse may proceed “I blush,” said Mr. Johnstone, “ from to the bosom of his family.'

the novelty of the situation; a few thought. The last remark was addressed to an old less birds and beasts have positively come hare which had hobbled on to the ride, and against my gun and hurt themselves.” sat up listening. At this point a cry of “ Did you see any woodcock?“ woodcock arose. If Mr. Johnstone You make me blush again, Douglas, was excited before, he was electrified now. but from another cause; I admit with He waited with admirable patience while shame that I not only saw but fired at the graceful bird wound its way through four.' the tops of the young trees; but as it This was indeed playing with fire ; but darted across the ride, he dropped it ten- | I think that, notwithstanding his reckless

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


effrontery, I should have spared him, had | Vickers has telegraphed to say that he be not gratuitously attacked me at random cannot take my duty next Sunday. So upon a sore subject.

cedant arma togæ,” down with the gun, “By the way, Master Frank,” (how fa. on with the surplice. My affections remiliar he had become !) “were you the main with you and your birds and bunnies. inhuman monster who shot off an old With many thanks for a most enjoyable cock's tail? He wobbled past me, and he summer from my beloved charge and mylooked so miserable without his rudder, self, I remain yours faithfully, that I put him out of pain."

JAMES JOHNSTONE. Now I had had a snap shot at a cock

P.S. - Remember me kindly to Frank. pheasant, and I had shot off his tail; but I hoped to escape exposure, and this was He was much lamented by the whole too much for my temper.

party, including myself; and his sudden " It's a pity you killed him," I said ; departure cast a gloom over the day's “he's not worth picking up — he's as sport, although perhaps more of the game

- tough as old boots."

shot was picked up than on the day before. At the moment I used these suggestive I frequently found myself during and words, Mr. Johnstone's mouth was full of since that day trying to form a dispassionsomething good. He looked reflectively ate estimate of this great man's character. at me, and swallowed his morsel very I firmly rejected the idea that he had acted deliberately before he replied.


any criminal motive. Indeed it would Well, that is the strangest reason for not have been easy to frame a charge not shooting a bird I ever heard; how far against him. He was neither trespasser does your prejudice extend, Frank ?" nor poacher; he had Tom's express per“I draw the line at woodcock.”

mission to walk over his ground and shoot “At woodcock, you young sybarite! his game if he could. And as to his apwhy, I don't believe you know what trail propriation of the game when shot - why, is.”

from a legal point of view, the birds were, “ As I was saying, Mr. Johnstone, I strictly speaking, his by right of capture, draw the line at woodcock. They are not Tom's. Turning then with relief from such feathered joys, so succulent yet so the at first sight criminal aspect of the portable »

case, what remained ? I could not disMr. Johnstone here dropped his plate guise from myself that there was a pretty and started to his feet. What had hap- perceptible dash of moral obliquity in the pened? Mr. Johnstone had, he said, been conduct of “The Great Unloaded." He sitting unawares on an ant's nest. He had beyond doubt pretended that he could shook himself, flicked himself, and mopped not shoot, while he could shoot like a himself all over; and then, shifting his Walsingham. What was the motive for game-bag nearer Tom, plunged into a polit- this duplicity? At one time I was afraid ical discussion which lasted until lunch I should have to answer this question in a

His were “fast colors," and as way very discreditable to my reverend he could not blush, so was he incapable of friend. In the course of a cautious investurning white or green. He showed no tigation which I instituted, I ascertained further signs of agitation or discomfiture. from the station-master at Sthat pack.

No sooner had I allowed the unmistak- ages labelled “perishable” were frequently able word “succulent” to escape me than despatched southwards by Mr. Johnstone I repented; I had (as I still have) a sneak. during his tenancy of “The Nest.” Mr. ing liking for “ The Great Unloaded," and Johnstone had been good enough to exfrom that moment I determined to screen plain that these mysterious consignments him if I could. Nothing worth recording were Scotch delicacies for the consumpoccurred during the afternoon; and as the tion of his aged mother. There was no last beat finished pear “The Nest,” we further evidence of their contents; and of bade Mr. Johnstone good night there. A this at least I felt sure, that if they did long good night, as I have not seen him contain game, no" feathered joys” found since.

their way into the London market or into I was not much surprised when, next the mouth of the dowager Mrs. Johnstone. morning, Tom received a note from “The And this leads me to the only conclusion Nest” to the following effect :

for which there seems to be some solid

foundation, — pamely, that even if profit MY DEAR DOUGLAS, — By the time formed a factor in Mr. Johnstone's little this reaches you I shall be in Edinburgh game, his leading motive was to provide on my way south. That disobliging ass constant material for the pleasures of the

was over.

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »