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Gilian The Dreamer His Fancy, His Love and Adventure   By: (1864-1930)

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Gilian the Dreamer, His Fancy, His Love and Adventure

By Neil Munro

Author of 'John Splendid' 'The Lost Pibroch' &c.





Rain was beating on the open leaf of plane and beech, and rapping at the black doors of the ash bud, and the scent of the gean tree flourish hung round the road by the river, vague, sweet, haunting, like a recollection of the magic and forgotten gardens of youth. Over the high and numerous hills, mountains of deer and antique forest, went the mist, a slattern, trailing a ragged gown. The river sucked below the banks and clamoured on the cascades, drawn unwillingly to the sea, the old gluttonous sea that must ever be robbing the glens of their gathered waters. And the birds were at their loving, or the building of their homes, flying among the bushes, trolling upon the bough. One with an eye, as the saying goes, could scarcely pass among this travail of the new year without some pleasure in the spectacle, though the rain might drench him to the skin. He could not but joy in the thrusting crook of the fern and bracken; what sort of heart was his if it did not lift and swell to see the new fresh green blown upon the grey parks, to see the hedges burst, the young firs of the Blaranbui prick up among the slower elder pines and oaks?

Some of the soul and rapture of the day fell with the rain upon the boy. He hurried with bare feet along the river side from the glen to the town, a bearer of news, old news of its kind, yet great news too, but now and then he would linger in the odour of the bloom that sprayed the gean tree like a fall of snow, or he would cast an eye admiring upon the turgid river, washing from bank to bank, and feel the strange uneasiness of wonder and surmise, the same that comes from mists that swirl in gorges of the hills or haunt old ancient woods. The sigh of the wind seemed to be for his peculiar ear. The nod of the saugh leaf on the banks was a salutation. There is, in a flutter of the tree's young plumage, some hint of communication whose secret we lose as we age, and the boy, among it, felt the warmth of companionship. But the sights were for the errant moments of his mind; his thoughts, most of the way, were on his message.

He was a boy with a timid and wondering eye, a type to be seen often in those parts, and his hair blew from under his bonnet, a toss of white and gold, as it blew below the helms of the old sea rovers. He was from Ladyfield, hastening as I say with great news though common news enough of its kind the news that the goodwife of Ladyfield was dead.

If this were a tale of the imagination, and my task was not a work of history but to pleasure common people about a hearth, who ever love the familiar emotions in their heroes, I would credit my hero with grief. For here was his last friend gone, here was he orphaned for ever. The door of Ladyfield, where he was born and where he had slept without an absent night since first his cry rose there, a coronach in the ears of his dying mother, would be shut against him; the stranger would bar the gates at evening, the sheep upon the hills would have another keel mark than the old one on their fleecy sides. Surely the sobs that sometimes rose up in his throat were the utter surrender of sorrow; were the tears that mingled with the rain drops on his cheek not griefs most bitter essence? For indeed he had loved the old shrunk woman, wrinkled and brown like a nut, with a love that our race makes no parade of, but feels to the very core.

But in truth, as he went sobbing in his loneliness down the river side, a regard for the manner of his message busied him more than the matter of it. It was not every Friday a boy had a task so momentous had the chance to come upon households with intelligence so unsettling. They would be sitting about the table, perhaps, or spinning by the fire, the good wife of Ladyfield still for them a living, breathing body, home among her herds, and he would come in among them and in a word bring her to their notice in all death's great monopoly... Continue reading book >>

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