Mr. McGillivray had desired, when old age should have rendered him incapable of his priestly charge, to be allowed to retire from active work, and end his days in the quiet seclusion of his native district—a strath shut in by hills, many miles to the north of Ardmuirland. But the family from which the priest had sprung were no great favorites there, and his wish, when made known, had not been cordially received by the people. This had been sufficient to excite the wrath of the Ardmuirland folk; they had risen up as one man against any such arrangement. An appeal was made to the Bishop to prevent their beloved pastor from leaving his flock to die among comparative strangers. So it had been settled by authority that Mr. McGillivray should continue his ministrations among them as long as he was able, and should then receive a helper; thus he was never to take leave of Ardmuirland except to receive his heavenly reward. As we have seen, he died in harness, before there could be any question of retirement.
And now another difficulty arose. His own native district naturally laid claim to his mortal remains, and his relatives had speedily made arrangements for his burial in the family grave. Then, indeed, Ardmuirland was stirred.
“They wouldna’ tak’ him leevin’; they’ll nae get him deid!” was the universal cry.
So in the bright springtime, after a late fall of snow had clothed the countryside in dazzling whiteness, his people bore him to the grave. An immense gathering—of both Catholics and Protestants—had assembled; in Bell’s expressive phrase—“the country wes full o’ men!” Every man took his turn in helping to bear the coffin shoulder-high all the five miles which lay between the priest’s house and the ancient burial-ground of St. Michael below the hill. There, surrounded by the flock he had tended so long and so faithfully, the body of the pastor awaits with them the general awakening to life eternal.
A SPRIG OF SHAMROCK
“Amid the roses fierce Repentance
Her snaky crest.”
“Shamrock in Scotland!” I seem to hear some captious critic exclaim. I do not attribute Scottish birth to the particular sprig of shamrock which is to figure in these pages, dear reader. Like all true shamrock, it was grown in the Emerald Isle. Nevertheless, it was by its means that the subject of this story migrated to Ardmuirland; hence it is responsible for my narrative.
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