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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPomona's Travels - Letter Number Twenty-one
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Pomona's Travels - Letter Number Twenty-one Post by :runtonk Category :Long Stories Author :Frank R Stockton Date :May 2012 Read :3303

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Pomona's Travels - Letter Number Twenty-one

EDINBURGH

Jone being just as lively on his legs as he ever was in his life, thanks to the waters of Buxton, and I having the rheumatism now only in my arm, which I don't need to walk with, we have gone pretty much all over Edinburgh, and a great place it is to walk in, so far as variety goes. Some of the streets are so steep you have to go up steps if you are walking, and about a mile around if you are driving. I never get tired wandering about the Old Town with its narrow streets and awfully tall houses, with family washes hanging out from every story.

The closes are queer places. They are very like little villages set into the town as if they was raisins in a pudding. You get to them by alleys or tunnels, and when you are inside you find a little neighborhood that hasn't anything more to do with the next close, a block away, than one country village has with another.

We went to see John Knox's house, and although Mr. Knox was pretty hard on vanities and frivolities, he didn't mind having a good house over his head, with woodwork on the walls and ceilings that wasn't any more necessary than the back buttons on his coat.

We have been reading hard since we have been in Edinburgh, and whenever Mr. Knox and Mary Queen of Scots come together, I take Mary's side without asking questions. I have no doubt Mr. Knox was a good man, but if meddling in other people's business gave a person the right to have a monument, the top of his would be the first thing travellers would see when they come near Edinburgh.

When we went to Holyrood Palace it struck me that Mary Queen of Scots deserved a better house. Of course, it wasn't built for her, but I don't care very much for the other people who lived in it. The rooms are good enough for an ordinary household's use, although the little room that she had her supper party in when Rizzio was killed, wouldn't be considered by Jone and me as anything like big enough for our family to eat in. But there is a general air about the place as if it belonged to a royal family that was not very well off, and had to abstain from a good deal of grandeur.

If Mary Queen of Scots could come to life again, I expect the Scotch people would give her the best palace that money could buy, for they have grown to think the world of her, and her pictures blossom out all over Edinburgh like daisies in a pasture field.

The first morning after we got here I was as much surprised as if I had met Mary Queen of Scots walking along Prince Street with a parasol over her head. We were sitting in the reading-room of the hotel, and on the other side of the room was a long desk at which people was sitting, writing letters, all with their backs to us. One of these was a young man wearing a nice light-colored sack coat, with a shiny white collar sticking above it, and his black derby hat was on the desk beside him. When he had finished his letter he put a stamp on it and got up to mail it. I happened to be looking at him, and I believe I stopped breathing as I sat and stared. Under his coat he had on a little skirt of green plaid about big enough for my Corinne when she was about five years old, and then he didn't wear anything whatever until you got down to his long stockings and low shoes. I was so struck with the feeling that he was an absent-minded person that I punched Jone and whispered to him to go quick and tell him. Jone looked at him and laughed, and said that was the Highland costume.

Now if that man had had his martial plaid wrapped around him, and had worn a Scottish cap with a feather in it and a long ribbon hanging down his back, with his claymore girded to his side, I wouldn't have been surprised; for this is Scotland, and that would have been like the pictures I have seen of Highlanders. But to see a man with the upper half of him dressed like a clerk in a dry goods store and the lower half like a Highland chief, was enough to make a stranger gasp.

(Illustration: "Jone looked at him and said that was the Highland costume.")

But since then I have seen a good many young men dressed that way. I believe it is considered the tip of the fashion. I haven't seen any of the bare-legged dandies yet with a high silk hat and an umbrella, but I expect it won't be long before I meet one. We often see the Highland soldiers that belong to the garrison at the castle, and they look mighty fine with their plaid shawls and their scarfs and their feathers; but to see a man who looks as if one half of him belonged to London Bridge and the other half to the Highland moors, does look to me like a pretty bad mixture.

I am not so sure, either, that the whole Highland dress isn't better suited to Egypt, where it doesn't often rain, than to Scotland. Last Saturday we was at St. Giles's Church, and the man who took us around told us we ought to come early next morning and see the military service, which was something very fine; and as Jone gave him a shilling he said he would be on hand and watch for us, and give us a good place where we could see the soldiers come in. On Sunday morning it rained hard, but we was both at the church before eight o'clock, and so was a good many other people, but the doors was shut and they wouldn't let us in. They told us it was such a bad morning that the soldiers could not come out, and so there would be no military service that day. I don't know whether those fine fellows thought that the colors would run out of their beautiful plaids, or whether they would get rheumatism in their knees; but it did seem to me pretty hard that soldiers could not come out in the weather that lots of common citizens didn't seem to mind at all. I was a good deal put out, for I hate to get up early for nothing, but there was no use saying anything, and all we could do was to go home, as all the other people with full suits of clothes did.

Jone and I have got so much more to see before we go home, that it is very well we are both able to skip around lively. Of course there are ever and ever so many places that we want to go to, but can't do it, but I am bound to see the Highlands and the country of the "Lady of the Lake." We have been reading up Walter Scott, and I think more than I ever did that he is perfectly splendid. While we was in Edinburgh we felt bound to go and see Melrose Abbey and Abbotsford. I shall not say much about these two places, but I will say that to go into Sir Walter Scott's library and sit in the old armchair he used to sit in, at the desk he used to write on, and see his books and things around me, gave me more a feeling of reverentialism than I have had in any cathedral yet.

As for Melrose Abbey, I could have walked about under those towering walls and lovely arches until the stars peeped out from the lofty vaults above; but Jone and the man who drove the carriage were of a different way of thinking, and we left all too soon. But one thing I did do: I went to the grave of Michael Scott the wizard, where once was shut up the book of awful mysteries, with a lamp always burning by it, though the flagstone was shut down tight on top of it, and I got a piece of moss and a weed. We don't do much in the way of carrying off such things, but I want Corinne to read the "Lady of the Lake," and then I shall give her that moss and that weed, and tell where I got them. I believe that, in the way of romantics, Corinne is going to be more like me than like Jone.

To-morrow we go to the Highlands, and we shall leave our two big trunks in the care of the man in the red coat, who is commander-in-chief at the Royal Hotel, and who said he would take as much care of them as if they was two glass jars filled with rubies; and we believed him, for he has done nothing but take care of us since we came to Edinburgh, and good care, too.

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KINLOCH RANNOCH.It happened that the day we went north was a very fine one, and as soon as we got into the real Highland country there was nothing to hinder me from feeling that my feet was on my native heath, except that I was in a railway carriage, and that I had no Scotch blood in me, but the joy of my soul was all the same. There was an old gentleman got into our carriage at Perth, and when he saw how we was taking in everything our eyes could reach, for Jone is a good deal more fired
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EDINBURGHWe have been here five or six days now, but the first thing I must write is the rest of the story of the lovers. We left Buxton the next day after their flight, and I begged Jone to stop at Carlisle and let us make a little trip to Gretna Green. I wanted to see the place that has been such a well-spring of matrimonial joys, and besides, I thought we might find Pomeroy and Angelica still there.I had not seen old Snortfrizzle again, but late that night I had heard a row in the hotel, and I expect it
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