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yoke and snubbing. An intimation from his brother that he contemplated improving the farm and making some addition to the house, and that he would in these circumstances raise the rent, determined Laurence to remove his family from the old place in which he and they had been born. It was a melancholy undertaking, but he saw no other course open to him, and his friend the laird having a brother in America, who could put him and his children in the way of employment there, it was proposed that there he should go. Still he hung on in his old quarters, until his brother should seriously proceed to put his threat into execution.
Some time before matters had come to this pass, the community of Grevavoe had received an unexpected and strange addition to its members. It was rumoured one day that the laird was about to let or sell a portion of his remaining property to "a gantleman frae da suddard," and only the week after this "gantleman" was reported to have arrived on a visit at "The Ha'," as the laird's house was still called. Soon afterwards the stranger made himself visible in public, walking about with the laird, and evidently inspecting the different farms with interest. He was a short, stout, red-faced personage, with a seafaring air about him, dressed in a rough monkey jacket with bright buttons, and a cap with a faded gold band. It was at once understood he was an offisher," and the laird soon set all doubt at rest upon this point, by stating publicly that his guest's name was Lieutenant Tomkins, of his Majesty's navy, and now on half-pay.
People who had been in Lerwick recently then recollected that Lieutenant Tomkins had for two or three years in succession come to that town in command of the revenue cutter sent down to try and prevent smuggling at the time of the annual visit of the Dutch herring fishermen, that he had been noted there for eccentricity and a predilection for the bottle, and that he had latterly, on being put on half-pay, and superseded in the command of the cutter by a younger man, returned to Lerwick by one of the Leith traders, and taken up his residence there, bringing with him his family, consisting of a daughter and two sons. Here, however, he soon got into hot water. He was very dictatorial and overbearing, especially when he was drunk, which was, on an average, four entire days in the week, and every evening after dinner; and he frequently had cardparties at his place of abode, which were almost invariably broken up by the host accusing one or more of the guests of cheating, and throwing a pack of cards, or a glass of grog, or some other light portable missile across the table into the countenance of the offending individual. This, of course, frequently led to a row, wherein Lieutenant Tomkins did not always come off the victor. Then the gallant officer assumed the right in virtue of his rank as a commissioned officer in H.M.S. of interfering continually in municipal affairs. He was constantly thrusting himself into public meetings without invitation, for the purpose of blowing up the bailie for some imaginary heinous offence, or writing letters to the latter functionary and the other town authorities, threatening, if they persisted in their wicked ways, to address communications on the subject to the Board of Admiralty and the Times newspaper. The natural consequence of all which was, that Lieutenant Tomkins's circle of acquaintance was in a few months confined to his own children, his servant, and the tradesmen whom he honoured with his patronage, for he paid regularly, and was understood to have "lots of money," in addition to his half-pay.
At this crisis of affairs, Lieutenant Tomkins suddenly determined to quit the ungrateful town which had rejected the dictatorship he had magnanimously offered to give it, and to go and live in the country. Hearing that Mr. Murray, the laird of Grevavoe, was parting with some of his property, he wrote that gentleman, whom he had met once or twice, stating that he would be disposed to take a lease of some portion of the property at a liberal rent, and erect a house thereon at his own expense. Mr. Murray had heard no favourable accounts of the lieutenant, but he did not find himself in a position to reject this offer, and he hoped that solitude and a rural life would tend to render the officer a more agreeable neighbour than the Lerwick people had found him. So the lieutenant came to Grevavoe, and, after a careful survey of the estate, he fixed on a place known to the people by the very startling name of "Purgatory." Why it had got this name we are unable to tell; probably because it was rather bleak and retired. However, Lieutenant Tomkins did not mind the name very much, and he merely remarked, "Purgatory-haw! haw! might have been worse, you know-might have been worse. Might have been hotter than that even, you know; keep us in mind of religion and that sort of thing, you know, since it's so far to go to church-ha! ha! We can call it something else by-and-by." There was a good deal of ground about Purgatory capable of improvement, and it was prettily situated near the mouth of the voe, with a nice sea-view, though rather exposed to the north winds in winter. There was an old cottage on the place, unoccupied and roofless. This, of course, soon disappeared, and in its place Lieutenant Tomkins's new mansion arose rapidly, for money can accomplish much, and he brought to the work the best masons and wrights he could get in the islands. It was a moderate sized house, just large enough for a small family, and as soon as it was habitable, Lieutenant Tomkins brought to it his children, his goods and chattels, and took possession. He bought cattle and sheep, and horses and pigs, &c. &c., hired a man to plough for him, sowed corn and turnips, planted potatoes and cabbage, enclosed grass-fields, and, as he said, "got the place to look ship-shape in a pig's whisper." And then he bethought himself of changing the name of his residence. Purgatory did not describe the place at all in its improved circumstances; some other name must be fixed upon, and it must be impressed upon the minds of the people. This he set about in his own eccentric fashion. He decided that the place should be called Trafalgar Hall, and he immediately had a board stuck up at the principal gate in the stone wall with which he had surrounded his land, having painted on it, in large characters, "This is Trafalgar Hall; Lieutenant Tomkins, Royal Navy." However, this bold innovation did not by any means have the effect of altering the time-honoured appellation, and although the people made a point in the hearing of the new tenant of talking of the new mansion as "Tirfliggir Hall," yet amongst themselves it was always alluded to as Purgatory Ha'," or "Lootenan' Tunkins," or simply, by way of abbreviation, as "Tunkins," while some of the wits amongst the lads and lasses of the neighbourhood, having ascertained that Lieutenant Tomkins's christian name was Nicholas, dubbed the edifice "Nick's Ha'," and irreverently named the gallant occupant "Auld Nick." He was not by any means very popular, "Auld Nick." There was no open hostility to him, for, as the sage and worldly-wise schoolmaster wrote for his pupils to copy, "Money com
mands respect;" but he was always worrying the people in his vicinity. He had a harsh code of laws in his little kingdom, to which he required from those with whom he came in contact rigid obedience. He delighted in "pounding;" and as somehow or other his gates were frequently left invitingly open, and the interior was very tempting to poor weak-minded cattle and horses, the lieutenant constantly had some of these misguided animals in pound, from which they were by no means permitted to emerge until the unfortunate proprietor had "paid the uttermost farthing."
This was not the way to gain popularity, but popularity was a thing Lieutenant Tomkins did not desire. He sought to be feared rather than loved, and had a great contempt for the "rag-tag and bob-tail," as he called the peasantry. And it did not tend to increase the affection with which he was regarded that he thought proper, soon after his arrival, to form an alliance, "offensive and defensive," with Mr. Eric Sweynson. It so happened that Purgatory was near this gentleman's habitation, and Mr. Eric and Lieutenant Tomkins were thrown a good deal together, for the lieutenant must have some one to talk to on politics, and foreign places, and such-like subjects; and Mr. Murray lived some two or three miles off, and occupied himself now in reading and sedentary pursuits, while "the minister" lived even farther away, and although fond occasionally of a "leetle drop" of whisky himself, yet thought it necessary to look upon Lieutenant Tomkins as a heathen almost unapproachable, on account of his habits and his avoidance of church. So Lieutenant Tomkins and Mr. Eric Sweynson became great friends, and shortly it was stated that the lieutenant proposed joining the latter in mercantile pursuits. The people were never very certain as to the exact time when this compact was concluded, or the precise extent to which Lieutenant Tomkins was empowered to interfere in the management of Mr. Eric Sweynson's business. Indeed, it was not intended that they should know; and both Lieutenant Tomkins and Mr. Eric Sweynson possessed talents for secrecy and diplomacy which would scarcely have disgraced Prince Metternich or Louis Napoleon Bonaparte-we beg his pardon, the Emperor Napoleon III. It was presumed that Lieutenant Tomkins had no direct interest in the affairs of the shop. No one ever saw him even behind the counter, although Mr. Eric Sweynson was not above standing there, and selling with his own hands, with the assistance of his miserable little nephew Tammie, who for the services he rendered-and they were many and laborious, poor fellow-got scarcely as much victuals as he could eat, and two suits of moleskin clothes per year. But "the Lootenan'" evidently took an interest in the fish. During the season, he was very active in visiting the fishing station, some miles off, and also in poking about the large beach between his house and Sweynson's, where a portion of the fish was dried and salted. Also on summer nights, when the wind had suddenly risen, after the departure of the six-oared boats to the deep water, he would walk for miles along the north coast, and ascend every height with his spy-glass. And when the deep-sea fishing was over for the year, when the men had broken up the temporary establishments at the fishing station, where they lived each week of the season, from Monday to Saturday, and bringing home their boats on the final Saturday, and drawing them up high and dry, had proceeded there and then, as was their wont, to hold their "foy," or merry-making, on the occasion along with all their relatives and friends, Lieutenant Tomkins was sure to make
his appearance, and, partaking of a friendly glass of whisky (or perhaps two, or perhaps three, or perhaps more), would give cheerful toasts, and talk on haaf-fishings, past, present, and to come, with the ease and knowledge of a born native of Shetland. In all of which wanderings Lieutenant Tomkins was sure to be accompanied by his two interesting sons, Messrs. Bob and Horatio Nelson (his father called him Nelson, and the people called him "Messter Rashy"), youths of twelve or fourteen, who were universally considered to be the pests of the neighbourhood; in fact, as little Tammie Sweynson in his Scripture phraseology said, "Shildren o' da deevil." Boys are not uncommonly mischievous, but the Master Tomkinses were especially so. Tripping up old women, breaking old men's "sillock wands," abstracting the fish from the "bevdies" when an opportunity offered, and substituting crabs, torturing the latter animals to an unprecedented extent, putting soot and earth into pots containing victuals being cooked for meals,-those were amongst the innocent and mild amusements of these popular youths. Of course, on the principle of "give a dog a bad name, and hang him," everything in the way of mischief concocted in the neighbourhood was ascribed to the instrumentality of the Tomkinses, or the "peerie* Nickies," as they were nicknamed. Complaints were occasionally made to the lieutenant, but seldom with any success. Not that the gallant officer was a too-indulgent parent; he frequently amused himself by administering a little wholesome eastigation to his hopeful boys; but he preferred doing this, irrespective of their conduct, at the moment, and just when it suited himself. Sunday afternoon, or just after post-day, or when the weather was rather wet, and confined people to the house, and similar seasons of an irritating description, were generally observed by him by a little thrashing of the youngsters. Hence he was naturally very much loved by the dear lads; and Mr. M'Candle, the minister, told with pious horror how he had once been asked by Mr. Bob Tomkins, whether Scripture required us to love our parents; how, feeling interested in the thirst for religious information displayed by one so young, and anxious to assuage it, he had eagerly replied in the affirmative, when Mr. Bob had remarked energetically, “Well, I don't love pa; do you, Nelson?" And Mr. Nelson had as energetically returned, "No; I hate him. He's an old beast. I wish he was dead." How unlike," Mr. M'Candle added, "to their sweet
The fact was, that M'Candle was rather "spooney" in this "sweet sister" quarter. Miss Julia Tomkins was several years older than her brothers; in fact, was almost marriageable when she came to Grevavoe. She was an exceedingly interesting young person, wore ringlets (rather red they were, but they were none the worse for that), had very large black eyes, and was altogether, as the people said, "a boannie lass." She went to church pretty regularly on her little Shetland pony, which Mr. M'Candle could not fail to remark with admiration, and was exceedingly affable and agreeable with every one, especially-the reverend gentleman thought-with him. She read lots of novels, privately, whenever she could get hold of them-which M'Candle did not know-and had a very extensive correspondence with female friends with whom she had become acquainted at school in Edinburgh and elsewhere, to whom
* Peerie-little, small.
she wrote, by every mail, several sheets of sentimental remarks on things in general, and M'Candle and matrimony in particular. Not that she cared a bit about M'Candle, at whom she frequently laughed when closeted with her confidential maid, Miss Christina (otherwise Kirsty) Sweynson, Tammie's sister. But M'Candle was better than nothing; he was somebody to flirt with, after his heavy fashion; if she was shut up all her life at Grevavoe she might never meet another suitor; and at all events her correspondents in the south didn't know anything of M'Candle, and to them he could be represented as a paragon of beauty and manly excellence. Two things were in his favour-he was six feet high, and he could play the fiddle; these facts enabled her to talk of him without very far going beyond truth, as being of "noble form," and "a worshipper of the Muses," "an adorer of music," and a little touching up of the picture quite filled the fair correspondents with envy, who were divided in opinion as to whether M'Candle would be most like the Apollo Belvidere, the Admirable Crichton, or the Marquis of Anglesey. All which time Miss Julia was quizzing the infatuated M'Candle behind his back, wondering whether a cruel fate would oblige her to give her hand to this wretched swain, and praying that it might not.
M'Candle was, to tell the truth, not at all very prepossessing. He was gaunt, and he was bony; he had very big feet and hands, and a bald head, with little bumps over the crown, which looked as if he had been from childhood under the professional treatment of that eminent phrenologist, Midshipman Easy's father. As to his intellectual qualificationswell, there were differences of opinion on that point. Lieutenant Tomkins told Mr. Eric Sweynson confidentially, that he thought that M'Candle was "a great fool." However, most of the people agreed that he was a "bewteefil pretcher." There wasn't much variety in his preaching, certainly, but some people don't like that. His sermons were principally historical, the subjects for the most part being from the Old Testament. He would get hold of David, or Abner, or Eli, or Gehazzi, or some such character, and repeat the unfortunate person's history over, and over, and over again, in every possible shape and form, backwards and forwards, and beginning at the middle, delicately insinuating how much better he would have filled the positions of these individuals, had circumstances permitted it, and every now and then pulling up to give vent to a few incoherent moral reflections, commencing with, "Oh, my dear braythren!" delivered in a loud whine, at all of which episodes the old women who were deaf and sat near the pulpit, and who had gone sleep comfortably as soon as the text was given out, wakened up, groaned, shook their heads, said "Amen!" audibly, wept a little, ate a few carraway seeds, and relapsed to sleep just as the pastor returned to David or Gehazzi.
There was, as we have hinted, not much cordial feeling between Tomkins and M'Candle at first. But Miss Julia's diplomacy smoothed matters somewhat, for she was her father's favourite. So, by-and-by, M'Candle was invited by the lieutenant to "look over some afternoon;" then, having "looked over" once, to "look over" again; then to stay and have a tumbler of toddy, then to have another tumbler of toddy; then, the night being dark, and the road bad (and the toddy rather strong), to remain all night; and, finally, the reverend gentleman frequently came and had tumblers of toddy along with Lieutenant Tomkins and Mr. Eric Sweyn