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Annie o' the Banks o' Dee   By: (1840-1910)

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Annie o' the Banks o' Dee By Gordon Stables Illustrations by none Published by F.V. White & Co, 14 Bedford Street, Strand, London WC. This edition dated 1899.

Annie o' the Banks o' Dee, by Gordon Stables.




"It may not be, it cannot be That such a gem was meant for me; But oh! if it had been my lot, A palace, not a Highland cot, That bonnie, simple gem had thrown Bright lustre o'er a jewelled crown; For oh! the sweetest lass to me Is Annie Annie o' the Banks o' Dee?"

Old Song.

Far up the romantic Dee, and almost hidden by the dark waving green of spruce trees and firs, stands the old mansion house of Bilberry Hall.

Better, perhaps, had it still been called a castle, as undoubtedly it had been in the brave days of old. The many gabled, turreted building had formerly belonged to a family of Gordons, who had been deprived of house and lands in the far north of Culloden, after the brutal soldiery of the Bloody Duke had laid waste the wild and extensive country of Badenoch, burning every cottage and house, murdering every man, and more than murdering every woman and child, and "giving their flesh to the eagles," as the old song hath it.

But quiet indeed was Bilberry Hall now, quiet even to solemnity, especially after sunset, when the moon sailed up from the woods of the west, when only the low moan of the wind through the forest trees could be heard, mingling with the eternal murmur of the broad winding river, or now and then the plaintive cry of a night bird, or the mournful hooting of the great brown owl.

It was about this time that Laird McLeod would summon the servants one and all, from the supercilious butler down to Shufflin' Sandie himself.

Then would he place "the big ha' Bible" before him on a small table, arrange his spectacles more comfortably astride his nose, clear his throat, and read a long chapter.

One of the Psalms of David in metre would then be sung. There wasn't a deal of music in the Laird's voice, it must be confessed. It was a deep, hoarse bass, that reminded one of the groaning of an old grandfather's clock just before it begins to strike. But when the maids took up the tune and sweet Annie Lane chimed in, the psalm or hymn was well worth listening to.

Then with one accord all fell on their knees by chairs, the Laird getting down somewhat stiffly. With open eyes and uplifted face he prayed long and earnestly. The "Amen" concluded the worship, and all retired save Annie, the Laird's niece and almost constant companion.

After, McLeod would look towards her and smile.

"I think, my dear," he would say, "it is time to bring in the tumblers." There was always a cheerful bit of fire in the old fashioned grate, and over it from a sway hung a bright little copper kettle, singing away just as the cat that sat on the hearth, blinking at the fire, was doing.

The duet was the pleasantest kind of music to the Laird McLeod in his easy chair, the very image of white haired contentment.

Annie Lane sixteen years of age she was, and beautiful as a rosebud would place the punch bowl on the little table, with its toddy ladle, and flank it with a glass shaped like a thistle. Into the bowl a modicum of the oldest whisky was poured, and sugar added; the good Squire, or Laird, with the jolly red face, smiled with glee as the water bubbled from the spout of the shining kettle.

"Now your slippers, dear," Annie would say. Off came the "brogue shoes" and on went a pretty pair of soft and easy slippers; by their flowery ornamentation it was not difficult to tell who had made them.

A long pipe looked rather strange between such wee rosy lips; nevertheless, Annie lit that pipe, and took two or three good draws to make sure it was going, before handing it to her uncle... Continue reading book >>

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