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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


98 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. minutes the young man breathed his last. And now, quivering in the pangs of dissolution, the old man lay on his back-his eyes fured-the death-film covering them-and the dead-rattle, as it is called, indicating the near approach of the end of his earthly troubles. His gaze for a moment seemed to acquire intelligence ; and with a keen piercing look, peculiar to the dying, he calls to his wife to come close to him, and says-‘Compauion of my youth and better days, take this clay-cold hand-it is already dead-and I am fast a-going.’ A few more inarticulate sounds issued from his livid lips, and he expired. ‘Merciful God 1 my husband-my child too !’ exclaimed the distracted mother, and sank on the body of her late partner in misery. The shriek of woe transfixed me, and all the man shook to the centre. When I had in some measure recovered from the stupor this awful event had thrown me into, I retired, in order to get them decently buried. To provide for the poor widowed thing and her youngest son, whose case seemed less malignant, came of course to be considered. The favourable symptoms appearing, and the proper means cautiously used, his recovery was soon effected ; which greatly alleviated the grief of his mother, who still continued free of infection, and escaped wonderfully till every apprehension of danger entirely vanished. “When a reasonable time had elapsed, I learned the story of this family from the unfortunate widow herself, the particulars of which, so far as I recollect, are nearly the following :-There was not a happier pair in the whole parish (which lay ou the banks of the Spey) than the father and mother of this poor family, till, by reason of the introduction of a new set of tenants from a distant part of the country, the small farmers were ejected ; among whom were the subjects of this simple narrative. To add to their misfortimes, their third son, a lad about fourteen, was affected with a white swelling (as it is called) in his knee-joint, which prevented him from walking ; and, when the family took their departure for the low country, the father and his other two sons were obliged to carry this poor lame one on a hand-barrow ; and thus travelled onward till they reached Aberdeen, where they got him put safely into the hospital of that city. But he was soon after dismissed incurable ; and their little all being nearly spent, they were at a loss what next to do for subsistence. They were advised to travel to Edinburgh, in order to procure medical assistance for +he lad, and get into BOme way of gaining an honest livelihood somewhere in or near the capitd. To Edinburgh, therefore, they directed their course ; and, after a tedious journey of many days, they found themselves within a short distance of the city. But, by this time, the little money they had saved from the sale of their effects, was gone ; and they now were reduced to a state of absolute want. To beg they were ashamed ; but starve they must, in the event they could find no immediate employment. But, from humane and charitably disposed persons they at last were obliged to implore assistance ; and by this means they found their way to Edinburgh, where, soon after, the unfortunate lad whom they had carried in the way already mentioned from Aberdeen, was admitted a patient into the Royal Infirmary. The high price of labour in the north of England, compared with that in the south of Scotland, induces many of our Highlanders to go thither, in order to earn as much as they possibly can, during the seaon of reaping in that quarter. This poor family, among other reapers, travelled southward-but it was a sad journey to them ; for, being soon seized with fever and ague, thus were they at once plunged into the deepest distress, far from their native home, and without a friend in the world to look after them. Not even suffered to remain any time in once place, they were barbarously hurried from parish to pariah, aa the custom is, till they reached Edinburgh, where, being safely placed in the hospital, they soon recovered. But, on making inquiry after the lad left behind when they went to England, they were informed of his death, which happened a few days before their admission into the Infirmary. They now were dismissed cured ; but where to take shelter they knew not ! for they had not a soul in the city to assist them in the smallest matter. Feeble, tottering, and faint with hunger, they wandered about the streets until the evening, Then they crept into that wretched hovel in which I found them, as already stated.” It was now the beginning of harvest. From this affecting incident sprung the institution of the Edinburgh “ Destitute Sick Society,” which has existed ever since, and been of incalculable benefit. Mr. Campbell ha-,+g made the case known to a few friends,’ a sum was collected amongst them for the widow and son ; and they entered into an They were, Mr. Robert Scott, teacher of Lady Glenorchy’s school and precentor in the chapel ; SIr. Rob& M‘Farlane, teacher, and author of a Gaelic vocabulary ; Mr. David Niven, teacher ; Yr. William Finlay, baker ; and Mr. Alexander Douglas, candlemaker.
Volume 9 Page 131
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