Chapter Eleven

THE SCOTS ARE in many ways a singular people. For centuries they fought their nearest neiglibours, the English, and are still a trifle hostile toward them -- at least they treasure the memory of Bruce and Bannochburn as their proudest heritage. Inhabiting a small impoverished country, ridged by bleak mountains and ringed by rocky coasts against which rough seas sweep and surge, they are admittedly hardy, frugal, thrifty, resolute, and addicted to their own "usquebaugh" -- a Gaelic word vilely corrupted by the Saxons to "whisky."

Yet other peculiarities, not all of which are praiseworthy, have been attributed to them, and some of these are entirely without foundation in fact. Perhaps this injustice is self-inflicted -- it has been said that one of Scotland's minor industries is the export of stories pertaining to the oddity of her native sons. Be that as it may, there is one quality which is more often and more mistakenly applied to the northerner than any other: insensitivity. The general belief that the average Scotsman is a cold, phlegmatic, and unfeeling individual is a base aspersion upon the national character. During my sojourn in Tannochbrae, brief though it was, I met with an incident which brought this point home to me in an especially striking way.

One March evening, Willie Craig rang the bell of Arden House with his usual calmness.

"Good evening, Janet," he remarked in his slow, self-possessed voice. "Does the doctor happen to be at home by any chance?"

"Which of them were ye wanting to see, Mr. Craig?"

-92-

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