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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

Mills, and Silver Mills; nor Bedford Burn of pleasant
memories; nor yet, for all its smallness, that nameless
trickle that springs in the green bosom of Allermuir, and
is fed from Halkerside with a perennial teacupful, and
threads the moss under the Shearer's Knowe, and makes
one pool there, overhung by a rock, where I loved to sit
and make bad verses, and is then kidnapped in its infancy
by subterranean pipes for the service of the sea-beholding
city in the plain. From many points in the moss you may
see at one glance its whole course and that of all its tribu-
taries ; the geographer of this Lilliput may visit all its
corners without sitting down, and not yet begin to be
breathed ; Shearer's Knowe and Halkerside are but names
of adjacent cantons on a single shoulder of a hill, as names
are squandered (it would seem to the inexpert, in super-
fluity) upon these upland sheep-walks; a bucket would
receive the whole discharge of the toy river ; it would take
it an appreciable time to fill your morning bath; for the
most part, besides, it soaks unseen through the moss;
and yet for the sake of auld lang syne, and the figure of a
certain genius loci, I am condemned to linger awhile in
fancy by its shores ; and if the nymph (who cannot be
above a span in stature) will but inspire my pen, I would
gladly carry the reader along with me.

John Todd, when I knew him, was already ' the oldest
herd on the Pentlands,' and had been all his days faith-
ful to that curlew-scattering, shesp-collecting life. He
remembered the droving days, when the drove roads, that
now lie green and solitary through the heather, were
thronged thoroughfares. He had himself often marched
flocks into England, sleeping on the hillsides with his
caravan ; and by his account it was a rough business not
without danger. The drove roads lay apart from habita-
tion ; the drovers met in the wilderness, as to-day the deep-
sea fishers meet off the banks in the solitude of the Atlantic;
and in the one as in the other case rough habits and fist-law
were the rule. Crimes were committed, sheep filched, and
drovers robbed and beaten ; most of which offences had a
moorland burial and were never heard of in the courts of
justice, John, in those days, was at least once attacked,