DONALD MACPHERSON,

SMUGGLER.

HIS ADVENTURES IN AND AROUND DUFFTOWN.

CHAPTER VI
DONALD AND THE MILLER OF AUCHINDOUN.

We will now return to Donald whom we left enjoying himself in the miller’s company at Auchindoun.

Several hours had passed in the questionable amusement of determining whether the last glass of that preceding it had the better flavour, and in order to come to a direct decision he must needs try a third. His voice had become slightly husky, probably owing to the “descending dews of even,” and that important membrance connected with his visual organ – yclept the conjunctiva – seemed sadly out of order.

“Yes, I thing this last is the best,” said Donald, examining the last tumbler with the air of a connoisseur, and his nose immediately became invisible, while his eyes turned heavenwards – his little finger outstretched – a gurgling noise sounded in his throat, ending in a suffocating gasp, which he apparently enjoyed, succeeded by a hearty smack of the lips – “but d’ye no’ think it’s time I was moving?”

“Tuts, no,” said the miller, who had reached that stage when his friend just was “like a very brither.” “Ye’ll no’ gang hame the nicht. We’re a’ daein’ fine.”

“But I maun gang,” continued Donald, the dim image of Janet rising before his mental vision.
“Weel,” said the miller reluctantly, “if ye maun gang ye maun. Hooever, I’ll help ye wi’ the pony.”

Both now rose, Donald to get equipped for the road, and the miller to assist him. On his way to the door Donald’s eye caught sight of an old claymore hanging on the wall.
“My,” he exclaimed, “the very thing to protect me on my way hame the nicht. Wha kens what orra kind o’ cattle I may forgather wi’ on the road.”

“Very weel, Donald,” said the miller, who was holding on by the wall on one side and the table on the other, “ye can hae it, but, remember, bring it back, an’ if ye meet any o’ thae – thae – ye ken wha I mean – just gi’e him a clour wi’ it for auld lang syne.”

They now staggered to the stable where Meg was tied up, and after sundry tacks Donald hit upon a rump line (as a sailor would say) and determined upon great circle sailing; but not having allowed sufficiently for lee way, he landed at the opposite extremity of Meg to that which he intended. Meg, being accustomed to those erratic movements on the part of het master, refrained from any exhibition of her pedal extremities.

“My certie!” cried Donald as he got hold o’ Meg’s tail, “some of thae thievin’ billies hae been aboot and he’s gotten the beast’s head I’ the wrang place.” “Havers, man!” said the miller, who had approached Meg’s head and unfastened it, at the same time unconsciously turning the animal “aboot face.” “Havers, man! here, haud the rape while I strike a light.”

When the miller struck the light he raised it above his head and gazed at Meg’s hinder quarters, then towards where the door should have been had Meg not been turned, and seeing nothing but a blank wall, he shook his head mournfully, and, addressing Donald in a maudlin tone, said – “Donald, ye hae shifted the door! Ah Donald, Donald, I little dreamed ye wad play that cantrip on an auld frien’. We have been at school thegither, we’ve been in ploys thegither, an’ we’ve grippit troots I’ the burn thegither, but little did I ken ye wad try to mak’ a fool o’ me in auld age,” and he began shedding tears.

But why prolong the scene? It ended as all such scenes do – in a series of accusations, denials, retractions, and apologies, the curtain descending on two maudlin human beings embracing and mingling their tears amid protestations of eternal friendship.

With great difficulty they managed to get the sack of malt placed across the pony’s back, but this was as nothing compared with that of getting Donald himself placed in position. No sooner was the sack fairly balanced, and attempt made by Donald to mount, then the sack would topple off, sometimes on the “off” side of the pony and at others on the top of Donald himself. However, all things come to an end, and he was at last securely mounted, the claymore which he had stuck through his belt, hanging stiffly against the pony’s side, and very much resembling an additional prop of the rider. Thus arrayed, the sack of malt before him on the pony’s back and the claymore on one side he made a start for Dufftown, Meg carefully picking the way, as if conscious of the inability of her master to be of any service as a guide.

As was usual on such occasions, Donald burst forth into a song, or rather a discordant vociferation possessing any qualification but that of melody. When he had got as far as Sandyhillock on his way to Dufftown he was surprised to hear a clatter of hoofs coming at rapid rate in his direction, and immediately afterwards Jock Grant was abreast of him.

“Is that you, Donald,” cried Jock reining up his panting horse and peering through the darkness. “Ay, it’s a’ that’s for me’” responded that individual, gazing in the direction of the speaker, “an’ if I’m no far mista’en that’s the voice o’ my frien’, Jock Grant.” “It is, Donald,” returned the latter, “an’ its as weel I met ye. I hae galloped a’ the way frae Dufftown to tell ye that the gaugers are waitin’ for ye on the road. I passed them at Crachie, but they were moving very slowly as if they were afraid o’ missin’ ye. Hae ye only maut wi’ ye?” “Ay,” said Donald, the intelligence having a sobering effect on him, “but I’m armed as weel, an’ if they middle wi’ me some o’ them may get hurt.” “That will never dae, Donald,” said Jock, earnestly. “If ye resist them ye’ll be waur aff than ever, for not only will they tak’ the maut, but they’ll jail ye as weel.”

“An’ wha cares for them? I’ll just gi’e some o’ them a taste o’ this claymore,” returned Donald with bravado. “Na, na, that will never dee,” remonstrated Jock in alarm. “I’ll tell ye what we’ll dae, I hae two young pigs in this sack (they’re quiet noo for the guts are nearly shaken oot o’ them), suppose we change horses, and I’ll bring the maut roon by Pitglassie while ye meet them. They’ll search ye, but it will only gi’e ye a guid lauch.”

The idea tickled Donald immensely and he at once agreed. The exchange was made, Donald now considerably sobered, chuckling all the time. No sooner was Jock mounted on Meg than he disappeared in the direction he had indicated, while Donald moved slowly forward towards Dufftown.

He had not proceeded more than a hundred yards however, when he observed several mounted figures barring his path and he was commanded to halt in the King’s name.

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