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A WALK IN EDINBURGH
JANET and Marjorie had arrived in Edinburgh, and one of the first of the pleasures was a walk around the city to see the sights, as Don expressed it.
"I know those lads will keep us waiting," said Janet, as she pinned on her tam-o'-shanter.
"I think I know where they are; around the corner playing 'boules,'" answered Marjorie, as she stood before the mirror, carefully tying her neck-ribbon. Marjorie was rather fond of getting herself up as nicely as possible. She must place her tam at just the right jaunty angle on her curly yellow hair; her ribbons must be made into just the proper bows; her tall boots neatly laced; her gloves and muff were always in the right place, and she liked to have a little posy pinned on to her jacket. The boys teased her, and called her the "Ladies' Fashion Page," but you know what boys are, and after all her little vanities were quite harmless.
Janet was quite her opposite. She dashed on her tam without ever stopping to look in the mirror. Her gloves were more often rolled up in her pocket than on her hands; she never could be made to see why one colour of ribbon was not as good as another, and always wondered why Marjorie made such a fuss over her curls and bows. But in spite of the difference in the two girls they were devoted chums, and never quite happy unless they were together.
Janet now stood looking at her sister impatiently. "Marjorie," she said, "how many times are you going to tie that bow; we must hurry up Don and Sandy."
"Now I am ready, ' Miss Flurry,'" said Marjorie, with a final pat to her bow, and the two little girls ran together into the garden.
"Here they are," said Marjorie, as she opened a little gate which led into a lane back of the house, where Donald and Sandy were playing "boules."
Boules and the button-game, where buttons are thrown toward a hole scooped out in the ground next a wall or a fence, in much the same manner that American boys and girls play marbles, are favourite games with Scotch children. Various sorts of buttons are used, each sort having a different value. A button from a soldier's coat is worth ten times as much as an ordinary button, and a coloured button more than a plain white one. So you see that loose buttons are very valuable property with a Scotch boy. Generally he goes around with his pockets full of them, and trades them off among his playmates for others that he fancies more; and one of the most acceptable gifts which a boy's mother m sister or aunt can give him is a long string of buttons.
"I can do that," declared Marjorie, as she watched Sandy make several successful shots.
"Lassies never throw straight," said Sandy, scornfully, flipping another button toward the hole.
"Marjorie can," said Donald, standing up for his favourite cousin; "let her try."
"Where are those children?" the doctor was heard calling, and the young people forgot all about games, and made a rush for the house.
It was the Saturday holiday, and Doctor Gordon had promised to take them for a walk through the old town of Edinburgh. The doctor enjoyed these walks as much as the children, for he was very fond of his city, and took a deep interest in its old buildings and the famous people who had lived in them.
The doctor, moreover, had written, in his spare moments, a valuable book on Edinburgh, and there was nothing that Donald enjoyed more than to spend his holidays tramping with his father through old and new Edinburgh. Edinburgh, you must know, was the capital of Scotland in the old days, and virtually is so to-day, and one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Donald knew most of the "sights" of the town as well as the doctor himself, but to the lassies all these marvels were much more of a novelty.
It was a gay little party that got off an electric car (the Scotch call it "electric," as do the Americans, and not a "tram," as do their English cousins just over the border), Doctor Gordon leading the way, with a niece on either side of him, and the boys walking before.
"Let us go to the castle first," said Don, who rather thought that he ought to help his father do the honours.
"I don't believe Marjorie and Janet have ever seen it really well. You know, father, you always tell me something new about it every time we go there," said Donald, eagerly.
So they crossed Princes Street Gardens, which divide Edinburgh into the "Old Town" and the "New Town." The "Old Town" is on a high hill, and on the highest part of all is Edinburgh Castle. It was not long before our party found themselves before its grand old walls.
"Don, there is your favourite Highland Regiment coming out of the castle now," said the doctor.
"Oh! they are going to drill; can't we stay and watch them awhile?" cried all the children, as with one voice.
I know that American children would think the Scotch regiments the most picturesque soldiers in the world, in their old-time Highland costume. Here is a picture of the piper, playing on the Scotch bagpipes, so you can see for yourself what a wonderful uniform it is.
THE HIGHLAND PIPER.
His kilt and stockings are made of the tartan which shows the Clan to which he belongs. In the olden time, each one of the great families of Scotland banded itself together, with its followers, into a Clan for protection, and thus each Clan was really a little kingdom and army in itself.
The piper's plaid, which is a sort of shawl, is pinned on his shoulder with a great silver brooch. In this brooch is set a "cairngorm" stone, which is the yellow stone called a topaz; the national stone of Scotland, one might call it, as it is found there in great quantities.
That funny-looking bag which hangs in front of him is called a "sporran," and by his side is a short sword called a "claymores" and in the olden time there was thrust into the stocking a dagger called a "skean-dhu." Would you not think he would be cold, with his knees bared to the cold east wind which blows over the castle high up on its rock? But no such thing ever enters his head, for Scotch children from infancy are used to going about with bare knees, winter and summer alike.
"Isn't the piper splendid, father?" said Donald, as the squad marched by. "I should like to be a piper in the Gordon Highlanders, for that is our regiment; and their uniform, white with the Gordon tartan, is the handsomest of all," and Donald tossed his head with quite an air of pride.
"It's just because you are a Gordon that you think so," grumbled Sandy. "What's the matter with the MacPhersons?"
"That's right, laddies, stand up for your own Clans," said the doctor. "You would be a very important man in the regiment if you were the piper," he continued. "When the regiment makes a charge on the battlefield it is the piper who marches in front playing the national Scottish airs on his pipes. Nothing inspires the men so much. The Scotch regiments are the bravest of soldiers, and their records are among the best in the world."
"You remember that story father told us, Marjorie," said Janet, "of the brave piper who was shot in one leg, and who kept on playing and marching until he was shot in the other, so that he could not move either; and then kept on playing just the same seated on the ground, with shot and shell falling all around him, until his regiment drove back the enemy. He was a brave man," continued Janet, and tears came into the little girl's eyes.
"He was indeed a brave man, and there are many like him," said her uncle, "but we must go on if we are to do everything which we have planned for to-day," and he led the way into the old castle, with its massive walls and dark, winding passages.
Our party viewed the Crown jewels of Scotland, not so many nor so magnificent as those of England, but more interesting, perhaps, for many of the pieces are much older.
The little girls were much interested in the crown of Robert Bruce, who was one of the greatest of Scotch kings.
"We have just finished reading ' The Days of Bruce,'" said Janet, "and that, you know, tells all about the Scottish king, Robert Bruce, and his little band of Scotch patriots, who, after great hardships and sufferings, finally drove the English invaders out of Scotland."
"They did have a hard time," chimed in Marjorie, "but still it must have been fun, living in caves and fixing them up with beautiful mosses and flowers, and having brave knights in splendid armour sing songs to you." Marjorie was of rather a romantic turn of mind.
"I'd rather read about the battles, and how they captured the standards from the enemy," said Sandy.
"I like the Scottish Chiefs' better," Don put in, "all about Wallace, who died so gloriously for his country."
They saw the tiny room, not much larger than a cupboard, where Mary, Queen of Scots, lived, and where her son, James VI. of Scotland, was born. It was James VI. of Scotland who afterward became James I. of England, and thus, for the first time, Scotland and England were united under one crown. Later the two countries were called The United Kingdom of Great Britain, and thus they have remained ever since.
However, in manners and customs, and in many details of their daily life, the peoples of the two nations are still very different. A Scotsman is very proud of being a Scotsman, and he does not like it a bit if you call him an Englishman.
Donald always took great pains to explain to his young English cousins, when they came to visit him, that Scotland had given a king to England, instead of England sending a king to rule over the Scotch.
"King Edward is Edward VII. of England, but he is Edward I. of Scotland, because we never had another king by the name of Edward before him; is it not so, father?" asked Donald, earnestly.
"All the same, I don't know any one who cheered louder than you, Don," said Sandy, "when King Edward came here to review the Scottish Volunteers last autumn."
"Of course, he is our king, and I like him very much," said Don, with dignity; which made them all laugh, and Janet said King Edward would feel complimented.
The doctor showed them where they could look over the parapet, and see how steep and straight was the wall of rock on which the castle stood; and pointed out the very steepest side, where he and his brother Clarke once climbed up the rock from the bottom to the top, when they were boys. "And a stiff climb it was, my lads," continued the doctor; "you need not be putting your heads together, and planning to do the same. It was a foolhardy thing to have done."
The children were always greatly interested in the "Dogs' Cemetery," where are buried all the dogs of the regiment, and each time they came to the castle they always looked to see if there was another little grave, though, as Doctor Gordon said, they could not expect dogs to die off so quickly as all that.
"Where are we going now, uncle?" said Janet, slipping her hand into the doctor's.
"How would you like to see Holyrood Palace, where Queen Mary lived?" he asked, as he led the little band down the Cannongate, the old winding street which leads down the hill from the castle, through the heart of the old town, to Holyrood Palace.
"Great things have happened on this narrow street, and many great people of Scotland have lived here," said the doctor, pointing to the tall old buildings, so close together that hardly any daylight gets between them, set back, as they are, in narrow courtyards and alleyways called "closes" and "wynds." On one side is the house where John Knox, the great religious reformer, lived.
"Do you see a heart carved on that stone yonder?" said Doctor Gordon, as he pointed out a stone in the pavement. "That marks the spot where once stood the old 'Tolbooth.'"
"Of which Sir Walter Scott wrote in 'The Heart of Midlothian,'" broke in Donald, anxious to show his knowledge. "Father has read several of Scott's novels to me; they are splendid stories, -- all about the old days in Scotland."
"And of other countries as well, Donald," said his father.
"When you children are older, you will enjoy reading for yourselves Sir Walter Scott's 'Waverley Novels.' Scott was a splendid story-teller, and his books are famous and read the world over. And this reminds me," continued the good-natured doctor, "that perhaps you young people would like to see Abbotsford, where the great Scotch author lived; and Melrose Abbey, which he loved so well."
"No need to ask," he laughed, as the children gathered about him, with delighted oh's and ah's!
"Well, I had half-promised Don that I would take him there this autumn. Perhaps we can persuade your father and mother to spare you girls another week, and we will all go together. Eh! what do you think?" and the doctor playfully pulled Marjorie's tam.
The children were so excited over this that they were in front of Holyrood Palace before they knew it.
Of course, the first part they visited were the rooms where once lived the beautiful Mary, Queen of Scots, who was beheaded by the order of her cousin Elizabeth, then Queen of England.
Queen Mary had many faults, no doubt; but surely she did not merit such a cruel death.
"Isn't it strange what wee bits of rooms kings and queens lived in? Why, this bedroom is not nearly so large as our room at home, and the little room out of it, which she used as a sitting-room, is hardly large enough for a doll," said Marjorie.
For a fact, they did seem small for a great queen. There was the very bed she had slept on and other furniture of her time. The children peered down the narrow stairs up which had stolen the murderers of poor Rizzio, the queen's faithful friend.
"I should not have liked to have lived in Queen Mary's time," said Janet, shaking her head, and the little girls shuddered when the guide pointed out what are said to be the blood-stains of Rizzio.
The girls would not go near the place, but Don and Sandy went boldly up, and declared that they saw the stains; but it is just possible that their imaginations helped them out a little, for it was many hundreds of years ago that all this happened, and, besides, it is too dark in that particular corner behind the door to see anything. Some day when you are older you will read about Queen Mary and her sad fate.
Afterward the little party went into the great hall of the palace, where are hung the portraits of all the Scottish kings. They all look alike, having been painted by some bold artist from imagination; which seems a strange thing to have done, does it not? Don said he could paint as good pictures himself.
Again Doctor Gordon led his little tourists up through the "old town," and this time they saw the great school of medicine of the University of Edinburgh, where Donald's father and uncle had taken their degrees to become Doctors of Medicine.
This great school stands higher in rank, perhaps, than any other similar school in the world, and many distinguished men have graduated from it.
"I am going to study there, too, some day, like father and Uncle Clarke, and be a great doctor," said Don.
"I thought you were going to be a piper a little while ago," laughed Sandy. "And it was a 'herd' you were going to be just the other day," echoed Marjorie.
"I don't care," retorted Don, stoutly, "I am going to do something great, anyway."
"That's the right spirit, my son; whatever you do, do it well," said his father, patting him on the shoulder. The children laughed, but his father was very pleased.
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