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A Rose Of Glenbogie
by [?]

The American consul at St. Kentigern stepped gloomily from the train at Whistlecrankie station. For the last twenty minutes his spirits had been slowly sinking before the drifting procession past the carriage windows of dull gray and brown hills–mammiform in shape, but so cold and sterile in expression that the swathes of yellow mist which lay in their hollows, like soiled guipure, seemed a gratuitous affectation of modesty. And when the train moved away, mingling its escaping steam with the slower mists of the mountain, he found himself alone on the platform–the only passenger and apparently the sole occupant of the station. He was gazing disconsolately at his trunk, which had taken upon itself a human loneliness in the emptiness of the place, when a railway porter stepped out of the solitary signal-box, where he had evidently been performing a double function, and lounged with exasperating deliberation towards him. He was a hard-featured man, with a thin fringe of yellow-gray whiskers that met under his chin like dirty strings to tie his cap on with.

“Ye’ll be goin’ to Glenbogie House, I’m thinkin’?” he said moodily.

The consul said that he was.

“I kenned it. Ye’ll no be gettin’ any machine to tak’ ye there. They’ll be sending a carriage for ye–if ye’re EXPECTED.” He glanced half doubtfully at the consul as if he was not quite so sure of it.

But the consul believed he WAS expected, and felt relieved at the certain prospect of a conveyance. The porter meanwhile surveyed him moodily.

“Ye’ll be seein’ Mistress MacSpadden there!”

The consul was surprised into a little over-consciousness. Mrs. MacSpadden was a vivacious acquaintance at St. Kentigern, whom he certainly–and not without some satisfaction–expected to meet at Glenbogie House. He raised his eyes inquiringly to the porter’s.

“Ye’ll no be rememberin’ me. I had a machine in St. Kentigern and drove ye to MacSpadden’s ferry often. Far, far too often! She’s a strange flagrantitious creature; her husband’s but a puir fule, I’m thinkin’, and ye did yersel’ nae guid gaunin’ there.”

It was a besetting weakness of the consul’s that his sense of the ludicrous was too often reached before his more serious perceptions. The absurd combination of the bleak, inhospitable desolation before him, and the sepulchral complacency of his self-elected monitor, quite upset his gravity.

“Ay, ye’ll be laughin’ THE NOO,” returned the porter with gloomy significance.

The consul wiped his eyes. “Still,” he said demurely, “I trust you won’t object to my giving you sixpence to carry my box to the carriage when it comes, and let the morality of this transaction devolve entirely upon me. Unless,” he continued, even more gravely, as a spick and span brougham, drawn by two thoroughbreds, dashed out of the mist up to the platform, “unless you prefer to state the case to those two gentlemen”–pointing to the smart coachman and footman on the box–“and take THEIR opinion as to the propriety of my proceeding any further. It seems to me that their consciences ought to be consulted as well as yours. I’m only a stranger here, and am willing to do anything to conform to the local custom.”

“It’s a saxpence ye’ll be payin’ anyway,” said the porter, grimly shouldering the trunk, “but I’ll be no takin’ any other mon’s opinion on matters of my am dooty and conscience.”

“Ah,” said the consul gravely, “then you’ll perhaps be allowing ME the same privilege.”

The porter’s face relaxed, and a gleam of approval–purely intellectual, however,–came into his eyes.

“Ye were always a smooth deevel wi’ your tongue, Mr. Consul,” he said, shouldering the box and walking off to the carriage.

Nevertheless, as soon as he was fairly seated and rattling away from the station, the consul had a flashing conviction that he had not only been grievously insulted but also that he had allowed the wife of an acquaintance to be spoken of disrespectfully in his presence. And he had done nothing! Yes–it was like him!–he had LAUGHED at the absurdity of the impertinence without resenting it! Another man would have slapped the porter’s face! For an instant he hung out of the carriage window, intent upon ordering the coachman to drive back to the station, but the reflection–again a ludicrous one–that he would now be only bringing witnesses to a scene which might provoke a scandal more invidious to his acquaintance, checked him in time. But his spirits, momentarily diverted by the porter’s effrontery, sunk to a lower ebb than before.