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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 200 pages of information about Records of a Family of Engineers.

Strange that, after his long experience, my grandfather should have learned so little of the attitude and even the dialect of the spiritually-minded; that after forty-four years in a most religious circle, he could drop without sense of incongruity from a period of accepted phrases to ‘trust his wife was getting up her spirits,’ or think to reassure her as to the character of Captain Wemyss by mentioning that he had read prayers on the deck of his frigate ‘agreeably to the articles of war’!  Yet there is no doubt—­and it is one of the most agreeable features of the kindly series—­that he was doing his best to please, and there is little doubt that he succeeded.  Almost all my grandfather’s private letters have been destroyed.  This correspondence has not only been preserved entire, but stitched up in the same covers with the works of the godly women, the Reverend John Campbell, and the painful Mrs. Ogle.  I did not think to mention the good dame, but she comes in usefully as an example.  Amongst the treasures of the ladies of my family, her letters have been honoured with a volume to themselves.  I read about a half of them myself; then handed over the task to one of stauncher resolution, with orders to communicate any fact that should be found to illuminate these pages.  Not one was found; it was her only art to communicate by post second-rate sermons at second-hand; and such, I take it, was the correspondence in which my grandmother delighted.  If I am right, that of Robert Stevenson, with his quaint smack of the contemporary ‘Sandford and Merton,’ his interest in the whole page of experience, his perpetual quest, and fine scent of all that seems romantic to a boy, his needless pomp of language, his excellent good sense, his unfeigned, unstained, unwearied human kindliness, would seem to her, in a comparison, dry and trivial and worldly.  And if these letters were by an exception cherished and preserved, it would be for one or both of two reasons—­because they dealt with and were bitter-sweet reminders of a time of sorrow; or because she was pleased, perhaps touched, by the writer’s guileless efforts to seem spiritually-minded.

After this date there were two more births and two more deaths, so that the number of the family remained unchanged; in all five children survived to reach maturity and to outlive their parents.

CHAPTER II:  THE SERVICE OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

I

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