24 o THE OLD LAIRD AND THE NEW.
suspicious laird could overhear the talk in the kitchen beneath. Above the sitting-room was another story divided into small rooms, the bed-chamber of the family. So solidly had the roof been built, that unrepaired it withstood all the blasts of heaven, till that terrible storm burst upon it and brought it clown, which swept away the Tay Bridge.
In these two upper stories there were, no doubt, cheerful rooms, but they were reached through gloomy doors and iron grates, UD dark staircases, with rough sides and well-worn steps, past the gloomy dungeon. Everything shows signs of danger and alarm. " It was sufficient for a Laird of the Hebrides," as Johnson says, " if he had a strong house in which he could hide his wife and children from the next clan." At the present day, as I was told by my guide, no one thinks of locking his door at night-time. My bag and great-coat and travelling rug were left in perfect safety for a couple of hours by the road-side while I wandered about. Of the modern mansion Johnson would never have said what he said of the second house, that " it was built with little regard to con- venience, and with none to elegance or pleasure." He would have been delighted not only with it, but with its large garden full of flowers and vegetables and fruits that testify to the mildness of the climate. The peaches ripen on the walls, though they do not attain to a large size. The hot-houses were full of choice plants, and clustering grapes. One bunch, I was told, had weighed nearly five pounds. But there are far greater changes than those worked by builders and gardeners. Here, where the rough old Laird in his out-of-the-way corner of the world used to rule his people with the help of gallows, pit and dungeon, I found a money-order office, a savings bank, a telegraph office, and a daily post. There is a good school, governed by a School Board, and a large reading room where the dulness of the long winter nights is relieved by various kinds of entertainments. There is besides an infirmary under the management of a qualified nurse, the daughter of a medical man, who has learnt her art by some years' study in a hospital. She is provided with a chest of surgical instruments and a large stock of drugs. On her little pony she sometimes has to attend sick people at a distance of eight miles. Forty-three cases of measles had lately been under her care and none of them ended fatally. There is a salmon-hatching house, and a museum both of antiquities and natural curiosities. In it I saw a thumbscrew, with an