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clachan. He engaged to shew me the casts the first time I fished the Teith; and, from the character I had heard of him, I was not prepared to be prepossessed by his appearance. Drunkard, poacher, outlaw, (for he had been outlawed for non-appearance after thrashing several fellows in some broil,) I expected a mixture of cunning and ferocity, and had my doubts whether he would play me fair in pointing out the river. At a little distance, a tall, respectably dressed man, with his plaid slung over his shoulder, and a little terrier dog at his foot, seemed shaping his course towards me. When he approached, he looked me full in the face, took off his oil-skin cap, and made a respectful bow. I had appointed Gregor to meet me a little further down, and now thought, can this possibly be the man? He at once put me out of doubt by remarking upon a few flies round my hat, that they were too light for "oor water," but one or two might do. I looked at him with some curiosity; a nobler specimen of manhood I had never beheld. Upwards of six feet high, of the finest herculean proportions, and straight as an arrow, he seemed equally formed for activity and strength. There was nothing mean or sneaking about his manner. His face was open and manly, and, despite the sad discipline to which he had exposed both mind and body, he had not effaced the natural and sure marks of force and truth from his countenance. Although wan and emaciated, there was a coolness, a will to dare, in his eye, backed by his tremendous shoulders and still powerful frame, that I could not look at him without thinking on the words "majestic tho' in ruins.”
I had now no more qualms about Gregor's sincerityand well and faithfully did he repay my confidence-so
well, that he gained the ill-will of many of the Callandar fishers. One ungainly little bullet of a fellow especially, who gloried in a pair of fat stumps which he called "tight legs," and the bust of a man double his length, was particularly indignant that Gregor should have shewn all the good casts, "which a man micht hae ta'en lang eneuch to fin oot for himsel." Gregor told him at once that he would also guide me along the opposite side, whenever it was my "pleeshur to go."
But Gregor was equally knowing in the passes of the red deer as the haunts of the salmon. It was alleged against him by the foresters that he "kent" every favoured track as well as themselves. He was also a firstrate marksman with a ball, and generally carried off the prize at the St. Fillan's games. When talking to him, it was impossible not to be struck with the point of what he said; and his superiority in these sports over his fellows no doubt lay, in bringing to bear upon them the full weight of his original mind.
It was a constant remark in summer that, whenever you "kent whuskey on Gregor" you might be sure he had taken a salmon. To eat his fish was to say the least improvident, as bringing no supply when the fishing was over and he unable to work. But to drink them! Alas for poor Gregor in the winter. Want, of course, came then, and I was apprized of his destitute circumstances. I sent a man on whom I could rely to procure him food; but upon no account to give him the money to spend for himself. About new year, however, when whisky is free, Gregor and another man quarrelled about some flies, which the former had agreed to dress. Every one said that the man behaved shamefully, considering that Gregor's hands
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were in a manner tied. an awfu' tongue," till at last Gregor's blood boiled, and he chased him out of the house into the village. The constables apprehended Gregor; he was tried, and sentenced to be transported. But, poor fellow, his shattered frame pined in the confinement of a gaol. He soon broke completely down when deprived of the fresh air on the banks of his own Teith; and, before the time for his embarkation arrived, he was summoned to take a longer voyage, and to a country from which he should never return *.
Very unlike Gregor More was
Strange to say, he had once been a "placed minister of the Kirk,” (answering to a beneficed clergyman,) and, although he often returned late on the Saturday night, after being all the week poaching the deer, his sermons were both clever and popular. I met him once when traversing a wild range of hills, and was impressed both with his general information and the courtesy of his address. He had much to say and said it well; yet, notwithstanding the blandness of his manners, you could not help feeling that interest or passion were the main-springs of all his actions; as for principle, that he would inwardly sneer at the very name. He was an athletic, handsome man; but his expression, though bold and confident, was selfish and wily. The following anecdotes, illustrative of his character, are capital specimens of the man.
He had shot a deer in a very out-of-the-way recess
* To my shame and sorrow I record it—I did not see poor Gregor in his prison. It was eight miles distant, and, though I always meant to visit him, I never did. The remembrance has often grieved me. May
this be a lesson to all who read it, "Never to put off till to-morrow what ought to be done to-day."
among the hills.
While comfortably seated upon his
quarry, enjoying a pinch of snuff in all the luxury of success, an intrusive face, followed by a gun, poked over the adjoining dike*. "Leave that deer, or I'll blow your harns aboot your lugs." had neglected to reload his rifle; so, without a moment's hesitation, he shouldered it and paced slowly up the glen. As soon as he got a knoll between him and the unceremonious stranger, he loaded as quickly as possible-took a long circuit, and came down. behind the identical treacherous dike. Quickly shewing the same startling apparition of a face and rifle, he commanded his rival instantly to take himself off, but to leave his gun. The man was in the act of " gralloching❞+ the deer, and at once saw there was nothing for it but to obey. kept his gun for some time, and often said, had he asked for a bit of the deer as a favour, he would have been welcome to a side of the venison, as the other was all he needed; and, indeed, the stranger's assistance in conveying it was of far more consequence at that time than half of the deer.
The next adventure of this worthy licentiate is a melancholy one. He and a friend, equally partial to a bit of fat venison, had agreed upon a night expedition, for the purpose of stealing a deer. They were rather at a loss for a driver; so, partly by threats and partly by persuasion, they almost forced a young shepherd to accompany them. Their guns were loaded with "swan post," to make sure work; and they were each placed under the ridge of the hill, to command the sky line, and thus have the deer between them and the light. The shepherd appeared on the ridge, and, extending both his arms above his head, as * Stone wall without lime. + Cleaning.
a signal that the deer were coming below, was mistaken by for a stag's head and horns, and shot dead upon the spot. Quickly perceiving his mistake, he rushed up, and, carrying the dead man upon his shoulders, he pitched him over the adjoining precipice, and made his companion take an oath that he would never divulge the secret. The Highlanders are a quick-witted people, however, and it was whispered that there was a little round hole in the shepherd's bonnet, which corresponded with another in his forehead, that was never made by a dash against the rocks. Some time after, the quondam minister's friend let out, in his cups, the above particulars. But few care to deny that the "puir lad's" death was occasioned by a false step over the ravine, and the night wind still howls round his lonely cairn at the foot of the rocks.