Its officer this and officer that frae mornin till nicht. Its peetifu tae see the helplessness o the bodies in their ain toon. And theyre freevolous, continued the figure, refreshing itself with a reminiscence.
He gied awa lauchin like tae split his sides, an the fac is theres no ane o them asks me a question but he lauchs. Theyre a licht-headed fouk, and no sair educat. But we maunna boast; they hevna hed oor advantages.
Weel, ye see, the first thing a did, of coorse, after settlin doon, was tae gae roond the kirks and hear what kin o ministers they hae up here. Ave been in saxteen kirks the last three months, an a wud hae been in mair had it no bin for ma oors.
Aye, aye, a ken ye ill be wantin ma judgment, interpreting a movement in the chair, an ye ill hae it. Some wes puir stuffplenty o water and little mealand some wesna sae bad for England. But ye ill be pleased to know, here the figure relaxed and beamed on the anxious minister, that am rael weel satisfied wi yersel, and am thinkin o sittin under ye.
Man, were Drumtochtys last words, a wish Elspeth MacFayden cud hear ye, her at prees (tastes) the sermons in oor Glen; a believe she wud pass ye, an if ye got a certeeficat frae Elspeth, ye wud be a prood man .
It was the birthright of every native of the parish to be a critic, and certain of them were allowed to be experts in special departmentsLachlan Campbell in doctrine, and Jamie Soutar in logicbut as an all-round practitioner Mrs. MacFayden had a solitary reputation. It rested on a series of unreversed judgments, with felicitous strokes of description that passed into the literary capital of the Glen. One felt it was genius, and could only note contributing circumstancesan eye that took in the preacher from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot; an almost uncanny insight into character; the instinct to seize on every scrap of evidence; a memory that was simply an automatic register; an unfailing sense of fitness, and an absolute impartiality regarding subject.
It goes without saying that Mrs. MacFayden did not take nervous little notes during the sermonall writing on Sabbath, in kirk or outside, was strictly forbidden in Drumtochtyor mark her Bible, or practise any other profane device of feeble-minded hearers. It did not matter how elaborate or how incoherent a sermon might be, it could not confuse our critic.
When John Peddie of Muirtown, who always approached two hours, and usually had to leave out the last head, took time at the Drumtochty Fast, and gave, at full length, his famous discourse on the total depravity of the human race, from the text, Arise, shine, for thy light is come, it may be admitted that the Glen wavered in its confidence. Human nature has limitations, and failure would have been no discredit to Elspeth.
They were sayin at the presbytery, Burnbrae reported, that it has mair than seeventy heads, coontin pints, of coorse, and a can weel believe it. Na, na, its no tae be expeckit that Elspeth cud gie them a aifter ae hearin.
Thats the laist, makin seeventy-four, and ye may depend on every ane but that fourth pint under the sixth head. Whether it wes the beginnin o the faith or the origin, a canna be sure, for he cleared his throat at the time.
Probationers who preached in the vacancy had heard rumours, and tried to identify their judge, with the disconcerting result that they addressed their floweriest passages to Mistress Stirton, who was the stupidest woman in the Free Kirk, and had once stuck in the chief end of man. They never suspected the sonsie, motherly woman, two pews behind Donald Menzies, with her face of demure interest and general air of country simplicity. It was well for the probationers that they had not caught the glint of those black, beady eyes.
But thae young birkies gie oot at they see naebody comin in, an cover their faces wi ae hand sae solemn, that if ye didna catch them keekin through their fingers tae see what like the kirk is, ye wud think they were prayin.
Am thankfu that a can see withoot lookin; an all wager nae man ever read his sermon in Drumtochty Kirk, an a didna find him oot. Noo, theres the new minister o Netheraird, he writes his sermon on ae side o ten sheets o paper, an hes that carried awa at the end o ilka page that he disna ken what hes daein, an the sleeve o his goon slips the sheet across tae the ither side o the Bible.
But Dr. Ferintosh wes cleverer, an it near beat me tae detect him, and Elspeth paused to enjoy the pulpit ruse. It cam tae me sudden ae Sacrament Monday, hoo dis he aye turn up twal texts, naither mair nor less, and that set me thinkin. Then a noticed that he left the Bible open at the place till anither text was due, an I wunnered ad been sae slow. It wes this wy: he askit the beadle for a glass o water in the vestry, and slippit his sermon atween the leaves in sae mony bits. Ave wished for a gallery at a time, but theres mair credit in findin it oot belowaye, an pleasure tae. A never wearied in kirk in ma life.