Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
The Little Minister
J. M. Barrie (1860–1937)
Little Minister, The, by J. M. Barrie (1891). A love story, the scene of which is laid in the little Scotch weaving village of Thrums at about the middle of the present century. Aside from its intrinsic interest, there is much skillful portrayal of the complexities of Scotch character, and much sympathy with the homely lives of the poverty-stricken weavers, whose narrow creed may make them cruel, but never dishonorable. The hero, Gavin Dishart, is a boy preacher of twenty-one, small of stature but great in authority, and given to innocent frolic in exuberant moments. Grouped about him are his people, who watch him with lynx-eyed vigilance, ready to adore, criticize, and interfere; while an all-pervasive influence is the mother love and worship of “soft-faced” Margaret Dishart.  1
  Across the narrow path of the Little Minister, and straight into his orthodox life, dances Babbie the Egyptian, in a wild gipsy frock, with red rowans in her hair. Against the persuasiveness of her beautiful eyes and her madcap pranks, even three scathing sermons against Woman, preached by Gavin in self-defense, are of no avail; and the reader follows with absorbed interest his romantic meetings with the reprehensible Babbie, and the gossip of the scandalized community. The rapid unfolding of the story reveals Babbie’s sorrowful and unselfish renunciation of Gavin, and her identity as the promised bride of Lord Rintoul, who is many years her senior. A false report of Gavin’s death brings the lovers together again on the eve of Babbie’s marriage. Fearing pursuit, she consents to a hasty gipsy marriage with Gavin in the woods; and the climax is reached when a flash of lightning reveals the ceremony to Lord Rintoul, two stern elders of the Kirk, and Rob Dow, who is seeking to save the Little Minister from his wrathful people by killing the Egyptian. In the flood that follows, the chief actors in this dramatic scene are scattered; but Gavin and Babbie, after many adventures, are reunited, a deed of heroism on the part of the Little Minister having reinstated him in the love of his people.  2
  The story is recounted by Dominie Ogilvy, who is at last revealed as the father of Gavin. It is lighted by touches of quaint humor that soften what might otherwise seem stern and forbidding in the picture. An instance in point is that of Tibbie Craik, who would be “fine pleased” with any bride that the minister might choose, because she “had a magenta silk, and so was jealous of no one.”  3
  In 1897 the book was dramatized, with a violent wrenching of the plot to meet dramatic necessities.  4

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