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The Cairn Edward Kirk Militant
by [?]

Out of the clinging valley mists I stray

Into the summer midnight clear and still,

And which the brighter is no man may say–

Whether the gold beyond the western hill

Where late the sun went down, or the faint tinge

Of lucent green, like sea wave’s inner curve

Just ere it breaks, that gleams behind the fringe

Of eastern coast. So which doth most preserve

My wistful soul in hope and steadfastness

I know not–all that golden-memoried past

So sudden wonderful, when new life ran

First in my veins; or that clear hope, no less

Orient within me, for whose sake I cast

All meaner ends into these ground mists wan
.

“We’ve gotten a new kind o’ minister the noo at Cairn Edward,” said my cousin, Andrew M’Quhirr, to me last Monday. I was down at the Mart, and had done some little business on the Hill. My cousin is a draper in the High Street. He could be a draper nowhere else in Cairn Edward, indeed; for nobody buys anything but in the High Street.

“Look, Saunders, there he is, gaun up the far side o’ the causeway.”

I looked out and saw a long-legged man in grey clothes going very fast, but no minister. I said to my cousin that the minister had surely gone into the “Blue Bell,” which was not well becoming in a minister.

“Man, Saunders, where’s yer een?–you that pretends to read Tammas Carlyle. D’ ye think that the black coat mak’s a minister? I micht hae a minister in the window gin it did!” said he, glancing at the disjaskit-looking wood figure he had bought at a sale of bankrupt stock in Glasgow, with “THIS STYLE OF SUIT, L2, 10s.” printed on the breast of it. The lay figure was a new thing in Cairn Edward, and hardly counted to be in keeping with the respect for the second commandment which a deacon in the Kirk of the Martyrs ought to cultivate. The laddies used to send greenhorns into the shop for a “penny peep o’ Deacon M’Quhirr’s idol!” But I always maintained that, whatever command the image might break, it certainly did not break the second; for it was like nothing in the heavens above nor in the earth beneath, nor (so far as I kenned) in the waters under the earth. But my cousin said–

“Maybes no’; but it cost me three pound, and in my shop it’ll stand till it has payed itsel’!” Which gives it a long lifetime in the little shop-window in the High Street.

This was my first sight of Angus Stark, the new minister of Martyrs’ Kirk in Cairn Edward.

“He carries things wi’ a high hand,” said Andrew M’Quhirr, my cousin.

“That’s the man ye need at the Martyrs’ Kirk,” said I; “ye’ve been spoiled owre lang wi’ unstable Reubens that could in nowise excel.”

“Weel, we’re fixed noo, rarely. I may say that I mentioned his wearin’ knickerbockers to him when he first cam’, thinkin’ that as a young man he micht no’ ken the prejudices o’ the pairish.”

“And what said he, Andrew?” I asked. “Was he pitten aboot?”

“Wha? Him! Na, no’ a hair. He juist said, in his heartsome, joky way, ‘I’m no’ in the habit o’ consulting my congregation how I shall dress myself; but if you, Mr. M’Quhirr, will supply me with a black broadcloth suit free of charge, I’ll see aboot wearin’ it!’ says he. So I said nae mair.

“But did you hear what Jess Loan, the scaffie’s wife, said to him when he gaed in to bapteeze her bairn when he wasna in his blacks? She hummered a while, an’ then she says, ‘Maister Stark, I ken ye’re an ordeened man, for I was there whan a’ the ministers pat their han’s on yer heid, an’ you hunkerin’ on the cushion–but I hae my feelin’s!”