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Eachen Dhu, or Black Hector.
of Israel shall never be collected into their own country, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and that veil of prejudice removed, under cover of which they still continue to reject the Deliverer. The irrevocable decree has
and “ Je. rusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, imtil the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
J. P. -Manse, June, 1819.
EACHEN DHU, OR BLACK HECTOR:
AN AUTHENTIC STORY.
TO THE EDITOR.
Sir, The following was sent me by a worthy clergyman in the west country some years ago,
who is now dead. As it is not devoid of interest, perhaps you may find a place for it in your Mirror. I am, &c. Glasgow, 7th June, 1819.
MY DEAR FRIEND, You have often urged me to commit to writing the account of an event which occurred in the days of my boyhood, and which after a lapse of four and twenty years, is as fresh in my remembrance, and often intrudes on my recollection with a feeling as distinct, as if it were a scene of yesterday. It is a task that but for the sake of friendship I certainly never would have attempted, and you must excuse me if I do not narrate it with that attention to minutiæ, which I may have done while in the society of my dear fellow-students; for in the recital of an event like the present, the interest expressed by the listening countenance, has a powerful effect upon the narrator, and may lead him to a prolixity in his detail, which to an uninterested hearer might appear to border on exaggeration.
My father was a farmer of some repute in the island of Skye. He had married twice, but had only one son by his first wife, who died in his sixth year. His mother perished in giving him birth. On her death, my father found himself possessed of
Eachen Dhu, or Black Hector .
soine little property, (no trifle at that time, and in that country) which had devolved to her on the death of a near relation. With this addition to his means he improved his farming stock, and rose in respectability among the neighbouring farmers to such a degree, that he was generally chosen umpire in their bargains, when the parties found any difficulty in coming to a conclusion.
Perhaps he found from experience that it was “not good for man to be alone,” and being in high favour with the laird, from his skill in agriculture, he paid his addresses to his daughter, and the marriage in due time took place. I am the only surviving fruit of this union, having successively lost two brothers and a sister. Being an only son, and having shewn an early inclination for the ministry, I was sent to the University of Glasgow to commence my studies in Divinity, which I prosecuted with interest and ardour, and where I obtained (not the least valued of my acquirements, my dear M.) your confidence and friendship.
I pass over a lapse of six months, in which nothing interesting took place; indeed what can be interesting in the recital of the routine of a student, excepting mayhap the circumstance of his having been twice invited to drink tea in one week.
It was with no common feelings that I looked forward to the month of May, which was to release me for a time from the shackles of study, and restore to me the delights of a paternal home. Add to which, the prospect of again viewing those scenes of romantic wildness, which however little they were appreciated during my native residence in their bosom, had now awakened as much curiosity from the inquiries inade to me respecting them while at the University, as a Southron would now a-days experience on reading the notes to Scott's Lord of the Isles.
On the fifth of May, 1795, I left Glasgow for Glenelg, intending from thence to take my passage in the usual ferry for my native island. My heart was all buoyancy, my spirits which from the nature and tendency of my studies, had during my stay in the city been imperceptibly crushed, now regained all their elasticity and vigour, as I advanced by degrees into scenes congenial with the impressions, which from infancy were stamped upon iny imagination.
On the night previous to my departure from Glenelg, I left the house in which I lodged to take a short walk, before re
Eachen Dhu, or Black Hector.
tiring to bed. For some days the atmosphere had been more sultry than is common at that season of the year, and it was not without alarm, that on returning towards the village, I observed a storm-threatening cloud overhanging one of the high mountains that overlook the glen, while the sea-birds sent forth à portentous screaming, and in large flocks seemed to be hastening to a place of shelter. I made the best of my way, but had not proceeded far, when the tempest burst forth with dreadful violence, and in a few seconds I was wet to the skin. It is impossible to describe the awful grandeur of the aspect which the reighbouring mountains assumed, as each vivid flash of lightening illuminated their lofty peaks, while the dreadful crash of the thunder, seemed only to cease, that the roar of the mountain-torrent might be heard in its turn.
By the time I regained the town it was very dark, and the storm had considerably abated; still I continued to run, and on suddenly turning the corner of a small lane, I came with such violence in contact with a man who was running in the contrary direction, that we were both nearly overthrown by the concussion. After he had recovered from the shock, he seemed
eye me very intently from under bis plaid which he had has. tily thrown over his face, and feeling somewhat alarmed, I endeavoured to pass him. He perceived my intention, and grasping me by the arm, exclaimed, “ Ye are him that I was seeking if ye
hae nae mair lives than ane, gang na till Skye the morn. So saying, he disappeared, round an abrupt angle of a ruinous hut, and considerably agitated, I pursued my way to the house in which I lodged. That night my sleep was much disturbed by unpleasant and foreboding dreams, and often I started from my restless slumbers with the mysterious warning ringing in my ears.
Next morning I sailed by day-break, and reached my father's farm without any untoward accident. Never shall I forget the delight with which my soul was filled, on beholding after an absence of six months, those whom I held so dear. My arrival having been expected, a few of the neighbouring farmers were met and hospitably entertained; the evening was spent in sociality and glee, and all the news from the “ great town,” were ten times told. At length our guests withdrew to their respective dwelling houses, and after a short conversation with
father and mother, our family retired to bed,
Eachen Dhu, or Black Hector.
my gate ye my bairn.
Being considerably fatigued I soon fell asleep, but still the person I had seen at Glenelg haunted my imagination, and seemed to take a pleasure in crossing me at every turn I took to get quit of his presence. Suddenly I was awakened by a loud bustling, as if from a number of people on the outside of the house. I leaped out of bed, and hastily throwing on my clothes, ran down stairs, to inquire the cause of such an unusual disturbance. I had scarcely descended, when I found myself roughly seized round the waist, and hurried with great rapidity from the house. On reaching the open air, I could perceive about half a dozen fellows who were clamouring in Gaelic with great volubility, and seemed to have fallen out on some point of importance, and taken opposite sides of the quarrel. Î had scarcely made these observations, when my rough companion was joined by another, and both together lifting me up, carried me rapidly to about a mile's distance from our dwelling. Haring set me down, one of them in breathless rage, exclaimed, “ I thought I had said as muckle as wud keep ye on the ither side o' the Sound last night. But gin e'er ye cum in again, I'll tak' anither way o' gettin' quat
So saying he and his companion set off with all the speed they were masters of, leaving me lying in the dark, and exposed to a drizzling shower, of a density somewhat greater than a common Scotch Mist.
I was so much overcome with surprise and terror, that for sometime I had not the power to get up, my limbs refused to perform their office, and I was so stupified, that next day it was not without considerable exertion of inind, I could recollect in what part of the farm I had been left. From the effects of the cold and wet, (for 1 had only hurried on a shirt and pair of trowsers) a lethargic sleepiness overcame me, and in this situation I must have lain a considerable time, for when I awoke day-light had begun to appear. I got up with difficulty, and on reaching a small eminence, at the bottom of which I had slept, I endeavoured to discover our dwelling, but in vain. I saw indeed the spot on which it had stood; for what was yesterday a first-rate farm house, was now reduced to a smokeblackened ruin. I shall not attempt to describe the horror which cized me on beholding this melancholy spectacle, or the anxiety which succeeded for the fate of the late inmates. I stood for sometime irresolute, but it at length occurred to me that if they
Eachen Dhu, or Black Hector.
survived they would most probably have taken shelter with my grandfather, or if on the contrary, the thought was agony, and with difficulty I banished it from my mind. To the laird's I proceeded, with a combination of feelings that I trust I shall never experience again, and thank God, found all in whom I was concerned safe from bodily injury.
My father had been awakened by a cry of fire proceeding from the apartment in which the servants slept, and on getting up found the flames breaking forth in every direction of the house, amid a confused sound of exultation from without. At this time Skye, and a number of the Hebridean isles, were much infested by strolling parties of marauding vagrants, whose habits of life were too unsettled to allow of any honest or steady means of support. They were therefore under the necessity of laying the industrious farmer under contribution; it was seldom however, that their depredations extended to such a degree of outrage as had been committed on my father's property, which had more the appearance of barbarous wantonness, than mere desire of plunder. He soon, however, had no cause to doubt the nature of the tumult
; and conceiving resistance useless, from the number of voices, and the dreadful means of conquest with which they had commenced, he and my mother dressed themselves as speedily as possible, and escaped by their bed-room window which was on the ground floor. It was evident their lives were not sought, for they had scarcely got clear of the house, when
my mother's recollection returning, she cried “her son was lost !” “ He's safe aneuch for this time, (cried a voice which my father thought he should have known)" if lyin' twa gunshot frae a fire ’ill keep him frae bein' brunt.” With this consolation sinall as it was, they were obliged to be contented, and accordingly they made the best of their way to the laird's, where I was received by them in the morning with inexpressible joy.
About four years previous to this, my father had turned away one of his herdsmen, who had been long with him, and indeed was in his service at the time I was born. He was well known through that part of the island by the name of Eachen Dhu, or Black Hector, and was allowed to be the most muscular and athletic man in our part of the country. He was an excellent herdsinan, and had always a strong partiality for me, perhaps on account of being his namesake. "His disposition