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Our Little Scotch Cousin




     "HELLO! Sandy, what do you think I have got here?" called Donald, over the low wall which separated his garden from that of his chum. He was quite excited, so Sandy knew that something out of the ordinary had happened, and quickly leaped over the wall. He found Donald carefully holding his muffler, which was wriggling about in the most extraordinary manner.

     "What on earth is it, -- a rat?" asked Sandy, looking curiously at the muffler, which seemed trying to tie itself up in a hard knot.

     "A rat!" exclaimed Donald, with great scorn.

     "Do you suppose, Sandy MacPherson, that I'd be carrying a rat around like this? But you couldn't guess if you tried all day; look here."

     He carefully undid one end of the muffler, and out wriggled a little brown head.

     "Did you ever see a finer pup than that?" and Donald, with great pride, showed a little puppy, who was trying to chew up his fingers.

     "My! but he's a bonnie one; who gave him to you, Don?"

     "I found him," and Donald went on eagerly to tell the story. "You know that lane which leads to the widow Calden's house? Well, I came through there to-day, thinking I might catch Andy and Archie playing marbles. You know we thought they had been trying to dodge us lately. All at once I felt something tugging at my shoe, and there was the pup. I looked around for its mother, but there was no sign of any other dog about. The poor, wee bairn whined, and was so glad when I picked him up, I could not leave him there alone, could I?" Donald explained, in self-defence. "You can see he hasn't had his eyes open very long, and he might have starved to death; so I wrapped him up in my muffler, as he was all of a shiver from the cold. Then I ran to the widow Calden, but she did not know any pup like it in the neighbourhood. The baker's boy drove up just then in his cart, but he did not know any one who had a dog with a young pup, so I brought him home."

     "But you can't keep him," said Sandy; "he must belong to some one."

     "Perhaps they wanted to get rid of him," said Donald, hopefully. "I am going to show him to father, and he will know what to do about it. Perhaps he may advertise him in the paper, and then if no one claims him he will belong to me."

     The two lads ran across the garden and burst into the sitting-room where Doctor Gordon and Mrs. Gordon were having afternoon tea.

     "Well, laddies," called out the doctor, cheerfully, "you do not often neglect your tea like this. Hey! what is all this about?" he continued, as his son poured out his story.

     "Poor, wee doggie," said the doctor, petting the pup, who licked his hand and wobbled all over with delight, "and a fine collie pup he is, too; he comes of a good breed, if I am not mistaken."

     "Oh! then I shall have a fine dog when he grows up, father," cried Donald, with joy.

     "Gently, my son," said his father. "We must find out his owner if we can. A valuable puppy like that will be missed, and if we advertise him the notice will probably be seen by the right person. We must also give notice at the police station."

     "But if no one claims him I can keep him, can't I?" pleaded Don, who had grown dismal at the thought that he might be deprived of his new pet.

     "Surely," said the doctor, "we could not refuse to give him a good home."

     Mrs. Gordon had meanwhile poured out a saucer of milk, and, warming it a little, placed it in front of doggie. It was the funniest thing to see him. First he dashed into the middle of the saucer, and stuck his little nose deep in the milk; then such a sneezing and choking followed. Finally, he found that it tasted good, and that it was for his mouth, and not for his paws, and he lapped away in earnest, while everybody knelt on the floor and watched him.

     "He may stay in the armchair by the fire until I can find a basket for him to sleep in," said Mrs. Gordon, returning to the tea-table.

     The boys were soon there as well, for the tea at half-past four in the afternoon is the favourite meal of the four which the Scotch usually eat during the day.

     There are such good things to eat then! First, there is shortbread, a sort of crisp cake, made with a great deal of sugar and butter, and very little flour, which melts away in your mouth. Then there are hot buttered scones, which, if you know anything at all about Scotland, you must have heard of, for they are one of their best-liked dishes; and until you have eaten a scone, well-buttered, you will have no idea how good they are.

     Cakes, too; "layer cake," with chocolate between the layers; and nice little round cakes, fluted around the edge, -- all children know that pattern, -- hot from the oven, for Mrs. Gordon made her own cake and short-bread. Indeed, Scotch women consider it quite an accomplishment to make their own shortbread, which is far nicer than that which is bought outside.

     Then there is jam and preserved ginger. Perhaps you did not know that Scotch people were very fond of sweet things. They are, indeed, and they make many different kinds and they are all good.

     Of course the talk around the table was all about the little puppy.

     "Oh, father!" suddenly said Donald, with his mouth full of shortbread, "I can train him to be a sheep-dog, can't I? And we will take care of the sheep, like the herds and collies that Uncle Alan was telling us about."

     "You are ambitious, my son," laughed the doctor. "You must get your uncle to tell you some of the wonderful feats performed by the sheep-dogs and their masters, and the difficult work that they have to do, and then you will not think it so easy to turn yourself and the little doggie into shepherds. And that reminds me that I had a letter from your uncle to-day, and he wants us to make him a visit next month, in time for Marjorie's birthday-party. 'We must have a meeting of the Clans,' he says, 'to celebrate the day.'"

     "Oh, how jolly!" cried Donald, prancing about the room, and waving his napkin. "Uncle Alan's the best thing that ever lived; he lets you do just what you want when you go to see him."

     "He has invited Sandy, also; but I must warn him," said the doctor, trying to look severe, and shaking a finger at the boys, "that you laddies are not to do everything that you wish, such as wheedling old Dugald into letting you carry the guns, as happened once before when your uncle and I went shooting."

     The doctor's effort to be stern did not last long, for Donald nearly choked him with a big hug, and then subsided panting beside Sandy. Whenever Sandy was very much pleased he grew speechless and shy, but he nudged Don with his elbow and grinned, so every one knew he was as delighted as the more talkative Don.

     "But that is not all the news," said Mrs. Gordon. "Your cousins are coming to make us a visit first, and your Uncle Alan says we may look for them next week."

     "Hurrah! won't we have fun going about seeing things," and Don started another dance, for he was very fond of his two little cousins, Janet and Marjorie Lindsay, and thought them far nicer than most lassies, for they could keep up with him on a day's climb over the moors, and play games almost as well as Sandy.

     The boys were soon whispering together in a corner, and planning how much pleasure they could crowd into this wonderful week.

     Don told for the hundredth time of the marvels of Skylemore, his Uncle Alan's beautiful home in the Highlands.

     Uncle Alan Lindsay was a very wonderful person to Donald. He had gone to America when he was a young lad, and had made a great fortune in copper mines. He wanted to enjoy it in Scotland, his own country, however, for the Scotch are very clannish, and like nothing better than to be in their own land, and among their own people.

     So he came back to Scotland, and bought a fine estate with a beautiful house, into which he put handsome furniture and good pictures and books, -- everything that could make a home attractive. To Donald it seemed a palace, and he did not think the king himself had anything so grand.

     Around the house was a big park, with miles of rolling woodland well stocked with deer. Here one could shoot grouse and pheasants and small game of all kinds. There were several clear streams and a loch, as a lake is called in Scotland, where one could fish for salmon and trout, and catch them, too, if one only knew how.

     Many were the stories that Don had told Sandy of his adventures in company with old Dugald, the gamekeeper, who had taught him how to fish; and how together they had tramped miles over the wild moors covered with heather.

     Donald never tired of hearing his uncle tell of his life and adventures in the far-away Western States of America, which seemed always to him to belong to another world. The story of how he had lived among real Indians, and had been lost in great snow-storms, was like a recounting of adventures of the olden time to the lad.

       Donald was amazed, too, at the tales of the great cities that his uncle had seen in America, with big buildings so tall that they seemed like many houses piled one on top of another. Then again there were miles and miles of nothing but great wheat-fields. "Why, you could drop Scotland down in the midst of them and it would be so small that you would not be able to find it again if it were not for the mountains sticking up above the grain," Uncle Alan would say, with a twinkle in his eye. But he would always add: "It's a grand country, bonnie Scotland, if it is a wee one, my lad."

     For many days after he had found the puppy, Donald would rush home from school, not even stopping where the enticing rattle told him that a game of "boules" was going on. His heart would be in his mouth when he reached the gate of Kelvin House, as the Gordons' home in Edinburgh was called, for he was afraid that the doggie would be gone. But as day after day passed, and no one came to say that they had lost a little dog, Donald breathed easier, and the little puppy was looked upon as one of the Gordon family. Finally, even the doctor said it was time to give "doggie" a name.

     The whole family talked the matter over a long time, but it was Don who finally decided to name him after the hero of his favourite story, "Rob Roy," written by the great Scotch author, Sir Walter Scott, which his father was even then reading aloud to him evenings.

     The puppy's name was in time shortened to Rob. He loved the whole family, beginning with the doctor and ending with the stable-boy; but he adored Donald, and whined most dolefully each morning when he left him, and barked and wriggled about like an eel, with pleasure, when Donald came back again.

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