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The Biography Of An "Inefficient"
by [?]

White as early roses, girt by daffodillies,

Gleam the feet of maidens moving rhythmically,

Roses of the mountains, flowers of the valley,

Hill rose and plain rose and white vale lilies
.

Dewy in the meadow lands, clover blossoms mellow

Lift their heads of red and white to the bride’s adorning;

Sweetly in the sky-realms all the summer morning,

Joyeth the skylark and calleth his fellow
.

In the well-known precincts, lo the wilding treasure

Glows for marriage merriment in my sweetheart’s gardens,

Welcoming her joy-day, tenderest of wardens–

Heart’s pride and love’s life and all eyes’ pleasure
.

Bride among the bridesmaids, lily clad in whiteness,

She cometh to the twining none may twain in sunder;

While to marriage merriment wakes the organ’s thunder,

And the Lord doth give us all His heavenly brightness
.

Then like early roses, girt by daffodillies,

Goes the troop of maidens, moving rhythmically,

Roses of the mountains, flowers of the valley,

Hill rose and plain rose and white vale lilies
.

PART I

There is no doubt that any committee on ministerial inefficiency would have made short work of the Reverend Ebenezer Skinner, minister of the Townend Kirk in Cairn Edward–that is, if it had been able to distinguish the work he did from the work that he got the credit for. Some people have the gift, fortunate or otherwise, of obtaining credit for the work of others, and transferring to the shoulders of their neighbours the responsibility of their blunders.

Yet, on the whole, the Townend minister had not been fairly dealt with, for, if ever man was the product of environment, that man was the minister of the “Laigh” or Townend Kirk. Now, Ebenezer Skinner was a model subject for a latter-day biography, for he was born of poor but honest parents, who resolved that their little Ebenezer should one day “wag his head in a pulpit,” if it cost them all that they possessed.

The early days of the future minister were therefore passed in the acquisition of the Latin rudiments, a task which he performed to the satisfaction of the dominie who taught him. He became letter-perfect in repetition of all the rules, and pridefully glib in reeling off the examples given in the text. He was the joy of the memory-lesson hour, and the master’s satisfaction was only damped when this prodigy of accurate knowledge applied himself to the transference of a few lines of English into a dead language. The result was not inspiring, but by perseverance Ebenezer came even to this task without the premonition of more egregious failure than was the custom among pupils of country schools in his day.

Ebenezer went up to Edinburgh one windy October morning, and for the first time in his life saw a university and a tramcar. The latter astonished him very much; but in the afternoon he showed four new comers the way to the secretary’s office in the big cavern to the left of the entrance of the former, wide-throated like the portal of Hades.

He took a lodging in Simon Square, because some one told him that Carlyle had lodged there when he came up to college. Ebenezer was a lad of ambition. His first session was as bare of interest and soul as a barn without the roof. He alternated like a pendulum between Simon Square and the Greek and Latin class-rooms. He even took the noted Professor Lauchland seriously, whereupon the latter promptly made a Greek pun upon his name, by which he was called in the class whenever the students could remember it. There was great work done in that class-room–in the manufacture of paper darts. Ebenezer took no part in such frivolities, but laboured at the acquisition of such Greek as a future student of theology would most require. And he succeeded so well that, on leaving, the Professor complimented him in the following terms, which were thought at the time to be handsome: “Ye don’t know much Greek, but ye know more than most of your kind–that is, ye can find a Greek word in the dictionary.” It was evident from this that Ebenezer was a favourite pupil, but some said that it was because Lauchland was pleased with the pun he made on the name Skinner. There are always envious persons about to explain away success.