(Taken from Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush by Ian Maclaren)
During a pause in the sermon I glanced up the church, and saw the
same spell held the people. Donald Menzies had long ago been caught
into the third heaven, and was now hearing words which it is not
lawful to utter. Campbell in his watch-tower at the back had closed
his eyes, and was praying. The women were weeping quietly, and the
rugged faces of our men were subdued and softened, as when the
evening sun plays on the granite stone.
But what will stand out for ever before my mind was the sight of
Marget Howe. Her face was as white as death, and her wonderful grey
eyes were shining through a mist of tears, so that I caught the
light in the manse pew. She was thinking of George, and had taken
the minister to her heart.
The elders, one by one, gripped the minister's hand in the vestry,
and, though plain, homely men, they were the godliest in the glen;
but no man spoke save Burnbrae.
"I a' but lost ae fairm for the Free Kirk, and I wud hae lost ten
tae be in the Kirk this day."
Donald walked with me homewards, but would only say:
"There was a man sent from God whose name was John." At the cottage
he added, "The friend of the bridegroom rejoiced greatly because of
the bridegroom's voice,"
Beneath the honeysuckle at his garden gate a woman was waiting.
"My name is Marget Howe, and I'm the wife of William Howe of Whinnie
Knowe. My only son wes preparin' for the ministry, but God wanted
him nearly a year syne. When ye preached the Evangel o' Jesus the
day I heard his voice, and I loved you. Ye hev nae mither on earth,
I hear, and I hae nae son, and I wantit tae say that if ye ever wish
tae speak to ony woman as ye wud tae yir mither, come tae Whinnie
Knowe, an' I'll coont it ane of the Lord's consolations."
His aunt could only meet him in the study, and when he looked on her
his lip quivered, for his heart was wrung with one wistful regret.
"Oh, auntie, if she had only been spared to see this day, and her
But his aunt flung her arms round his neck.
"Dinna be cast doon, laddie, nor be unbelievin'. Yir mither has
heard every word, and is satisfied, for ye did it in remembrance o'
her, and yon was yir mither's sermon."