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Betty Grier   By:

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BETTY GRIER

BY JOSEPH LAING WAUGH

Author of 'Robbie Doo,' 'Cracks wi' Robbie Doo,' &c.

WITH FRONTISPIECE BY Henry W. Kerr, R.S.A.

LONDON: 38 Soho Square, W. W. & R. CHAMBERS, LIMITED EDINBURGH: 339 High Street

Edinburgh: Printed by W. & R. Chambers, Limited.

First printed, Nov. 1915. Reprinted, Dec. 1915.

[Illustration]

BETTY GRIER.

CHAPTER I.

When I look round my little bedroom and note the various familiar items that make up its furnishings, when my eye lights on much that I associate with the days o' Auld Langsyne, I am conscious of a feeling of homeliness, a sense of chumship with my surroundings, and I can scarcely realise that fourteen years have come and gone since last I laid my head on the pillow of this small truckle bed.

So far as I can recall the arrangement of its old fashioned, ordinary looking plenishings, everything remains exactly as I left it. My trout and salmon rods, all tied together each cased in its own particular coloured canvas stand there in the corner beside an old out of date gaff and a capacious landing net which that king of fishers, Clogger Eskdale, gifted to me when the 'rheumatics' prevented his ever again participating in his favourite sport. My worn leather school bag, filled with the last batch of books I used, is still suspended from a four inch nail driven into a 'dook' at the cheek of the mantelpiece. It is a long time ago, but it seems only yesterday since I stood in the middle of this room, unstrapping that bag from my shoulders for the last time. My schooldays were over; with eager, anxious feet I was standing on the threshold of a new life, and to satchel and lesson book I was bidding farewell.

I well remember Deacon Webster, at my mother's request, inserting that dook and driving home that nail; and he laughed unfeelingly when she explained to him the purpose it was to serve. The deacon could not understand the sentiment which prompted her to assign the bag a place upon the wall; and when, after the nail was secure, he made to hang my 'boy's burden' upon it in much the same callous spirit in which he would screw the last nail in a coffin lid, my mother stepped forward.

'One moment, Webster,' she said. 'Allow me.' With her own hands she placed the bag where it hangs now. My old nurse, Betty Grier, straightened it and wiped it with her duster; and the deacon took a pinch of snuff, blew his nose in a big spotted handkerchief, and muttered sotto voce , as his nostrils quivered, 'Well, I'm d !'

Against the back wall, in the centre, between the door and the corner, stands the old black oak chest of drawers which for sixteen years held the whole outfit of my boyhood's days; while the mahogany looking glass, with the grooved square standards and the swivel mirror, monopolises still, as it always has done, the whole top shelf thereof.

To the left is a framed photograph of my father and mother, and to the right a rosewood framed sampler, worked long ago by my grandmother, on which, in faded green, against a dull drab background, are still decipherable the words of Our Lord's Prayer. And there, between the fireplace and the window, is my book rack, and from its shelves old friends look down upon me. The gilt titles are tarnished and worn, but I know each book by the place it occupies, and I feel that, even after the long, long years that have separated us, Tom Brown , Robinson Crusoe , and David Copperfield will speak to me again, laugh with me, cry with me, as they did in days of yore.

Often has Betty, I know, swept and tidied this little room. Every article has been lifted, dusted, and carefully returned to its place. I know with what feelings of reverence the dear old soul has fingered every ornament. I am conscious of the loving care she has exercised on all my old belongings, and somehow I feel consoled and comforted, my physical weakness depresses me less, my mother's presence seems nearer me, and unbidden tears of thankfulness come to my eyes and trickle from my cheek to my pillow... Continue reading book >>




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