The man who made that kindly human prayer knew the meaning of white heather. And I dare to hope that I too have known something of its meaning, since that evening when the Mistress of the Glen picked the spray and gave it to me on the lonely moor. “And now,” she said, “you will be going home across the sea; and you have been welcome here, but it is time that you should go, for there is the place where your real duties and troubles and joys are waiting for you. And if you have left any misunderstandings behind you, you will try to clear them up; and if there have been any quarrels, you will heal them. Carry this little flower with you. It’s not the bonniest blossom in Scotland, but it’s the dearest, for the message that it brings. And you will remember that love is not getting, but giving; not a wild dream of pleasure, and a madness of desire—oh no, love is not that—it is goodness, and honour, and peace, and pure living—yes, love is that; and it is the best thing in the world, and the thing that lives longest. And that is what I am wishing for you and yours with this bit of white heather.”
Dr. Paley was ardently attached to this amusement; so much so that when the Bishop of Durham inquired of him when one of his most important works would be finished, he said, with great simplicity and good humour, ’My Lord, I shall work steadily at it when the fly-fishing season is over.’—Sir Humphry Davy: Salmonia.
The boundary line between the Province of Quebec and New Brunswick, for a considerable part of its course, resembles the name of the poet Keats; it is “writ in water.” But like his fame, it is water that never fails,—the limpid current of the river Ristigouche.
The railway crawls over it on a long bridge at Metapedia, and you are dropped in the darkness somewhere between midnight and dawn. When you open your window-shutters the next morning, you see that the village is a disconsolate hamlet, scattered along the track as if it had been shaken by chance from an open freight-car; it consists of twenty houses, three shops, and a discouraged church perched upon a little hillock like a solitary mourner on the anxious seat. The one comfortable and prosperous feature in the countenance of Metapedia is the house of the Ristigouche Salmon Club—an old-fashioned mansion, with broad, white piazza, looking over rich meadow-lands. Here it was that I found my friend Favonius, president of solemn societies, pillar of church and state, ingenuously arrayed in gray knickerbockers, a flannel shirt, and a soft hat, waiting to take me on his horse-yacht for a voyage up the river.