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- The Marquis of Lossie - 95/95 -


his ninety-first year, it never crossed his lips. He died with the Lossie pipes on his bed, Malcolm on one side of him, and Clementina on the other.

Some of my readers may care to know that Phemy and Davy were married, and made the quaintest, oldest fashioned little couple, with hearts which king or beggar might equally have trusted.

Malcolm's relations with the fisher folk, founded as they were in truth and open uprightness, were not in the least injured by his change of position. He made it a point to be always at home during the herring fishing. Whatever might be going on in London, the marquis and marchioness, their family and household, were sure to leave in time for the commencement of that. Those who admired Malcolm, of whom there were not a few even in Vanity Fair, called him the fisher king: the wags called him the kingfisher, and laughed at the oddity of his taste in preferring what he called his duty to the pleasures of the season. But the marquis found even the hen pecked Partan a nobler and more elevating presence than any strutting platitude of Bond Street. And when he was at home, he was always about amongst the people. Almost every day he would look in at some door in the Seaton, and call out a salutation to the busy housewife--perhaps go in and sit down for a minute. Now he would be walking with this one, now talking with that--oftenest with Blue Peter; and sometimes both their wives would be with them, upon the shore, or in the grounds. Nor was there a family meal to which any one or all together of the six men whom he had set over the Seaton and Scaurnose would not have been welcomed by the marquis and his Clemency. The House was head and heart of the whole district.

A conventional visitor was certain to feel very shruggish at first sight of the terms on which the marquis was with "persons of that sort;" but often such a one came to allow that it was no great matter: the persons did not seem to presume unpleasantly, and, notwithstanding his atrocious training, the marquis was after all a very good sort of fellow--considering.

In the third year he launched a strange vessel. Her tonnage was two hundred, but she was built like a fishing boat. She had great stowage forward and below: if there was a large take, boat after boat could empty its load into her, and go back and draw its nets again. But this was not the original design in her.

The after half of her deck was parted off with a light rope rail, was kept as white as holystone could make it, and had a brass railed bulwark. She was steered with a wheel, for more room; the top of the binnacle was made sloping, to serve as a lectern; there were seats all round the bulwarks; and she was called the Clemency.

For more than two years he had provided training for the fittest youths he could find amongst the fishers, and now he had a pretty good band playing on wind instruments, able to give back to God a shadow of his own music. The same formed the Clemency's crew. And every Sunday evening the great fishing boat with the marquis, and almost always the marchioness on board, and the latter never without a child or children, led out from the harbour such of the boats as were going to spend the night on the water.

When they reached the ground, all the other boats gathered about the great boat, and the chief men came on board, and Malcolm stood up betwixt the wheel and the binnacle, and read--always from the gospel, and generally words of Jesus, and talked to them, striving earnestly to get the truth alive into their hearts. Then he would pray aloud to the living God, as one so living that they could not see him, so one with them that they could not behold him. When they rose from their knees; man after man dropped into his boat, and the fleet scattered wide over the waters to search them for their treasure.

Then the little ones were put to bed; and Malcolm and Clementina would sit on the deck, reading and talking, till the night fell, when they too went below, and slept in peace. But if ever a boat wanted help, or the slightest danger arose, the first thing was to call the marquis, and he was on deck in a moment.

In the morning, when a few of the boats had gathered, they would make for the harbour again, but now with full blast of praising trumpets and horns, the waves seeming to dance to the well ordered noise divine. Or if the wind was contrary, or no wind blew, the lightest laden of the boats would take the Clemency in tow, and, with frequent change of rowers, draw her softly back to the harbour.

For such Monday mornings, the marquis wrote a little song, and his Clemency made an air to it, and harmonized it for the band. Here is the last stanza of it:

Like the fish that brought the coin, We in ministry will join-- Bring what pleases thee the best; Help from each to all the rest.

THE END


The Marquis of Lossie - 95/95

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