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DUNCAN CAMPBELL came from the Highlands, when six years
of age, to live with an old maiden aunt in Edinburgh, and attend the school. His mother was dead; but his father had supplied her place, by marrying his housekeeper. Duncan did not trouble himself about these matters, nor indeed about
any other matters, save a black foal of his father's, and a large sagacious colley, named Oscar, which belonged to one of the shepherds. There being no other boy save Duncan about the house, Oscar and he were constant companions, with his garter tied round Oscar's neck, and a piece of deal tied to his big bushy tail, Duncan would often lead him about the green, pleased with the idea that he was conducting a horse and cart.
Oscar submitted to all this with great cheerfulness, but whenever Duncan mounted to ride on him, he found means instantly to unhorse him, either by gallopping, or rolling himself on the green.
When Duncan threatened him, he looked submissive and licked his face and hands; when he corrected him with the whip, he cowered at his feet;-matters were soon made up. “Oscar would lodge no where during the night but at the door of the room where his young friend slept, and wo be to the man or woman who ventured to enter it at untimely hours.
When Duncan left his native home he thought not of his father, nor any of the servants. He was fond of the ride, and some supposed that he even scarcely thought of the black foal; but when he saw Oscar standing looking him ruefully in the face, the tears immediately blinded both his eyes. He caught him around the neck, hugged and kissed him,-"Good
b'ye Oscar," said he blubbering ;-"good-b'ye, God bless you, my dear Oscar;" Duncan mounted before a servant, and rode away-Oscar still followed at a distance, until he reached the top of the hill-he then sat down and howled ;-Duncan cried till his little heart was like to burst." What ails you?” said the servant. “ I will never see my poor honest Oscar again,” said Duncan, “an' my heart canna bide it.”
Duncan staid a year in Edinburgh, but he did not make great progress in learning. He did not approve highly of attending the school, and his aunt was too indulgent to compel his attendance. She grew extremely ill one day—the maids kept constantly by her, and never regarded Duncan. He was an additional charge to them, and they never loved him, but used him harshly. It was now with great difficulty that he could obtain either meat or drink. In a few days after his aunt was taken ill she died., All was in confusion, and poor Duncan was like to perish with hunger ;-he could find no person in the house; but hearing a noise in his aunt's chamber, he went in, and beheld them dressing the corpse of his kind relation ;-it was enough.-Duncan was horrified beyond what mortal breast was able to endure ;-he hasted down the stair, and ran along the High Street, and South Bridge, as fast as his feet could carry him, crying incessantly all the way. He would not have entered that house again, if the world had been offered him as a reward. Some people stopped him, in order to ask what was the matter; but he could only answer them by exclaiming, “O! dear! O ! dear!" and, struggling till he got free, held on his course, careless whither he went, provided he got far enough from the horrid scene he had so lately witnessed. Some have supposed, and I believe Duncan has been heard to confess, that he then imagined he was running for the Highlands, but mistook the direction. However that was, he continued his course until he came to a place where two ways met, a little south of
Grange Toll. Here he sat down, and his frenzied passion subsided into a soft melancholy ;-he cried no more, but sobbed excessively; fixed his eyes on the ground, and made some strokes in the dust with his finger.
A sight just then appeared, which somewhat cheered, or at least interested his heavy and forlorn heart-it was a large drove of Highland cattle. They were the only creatures like acquaintances that Duncan had seen for a twelvemonth, and a tender feeling of joy, mixed with regret, thrilled his heart at the sight of their white horns and broad dew-laps. As the van passed him, he thought their looks were particularly gruff and sullen ; he soon perceived the cause, they were all in the hands of Englishmen--poor exiles like himself ;-going far away to be killed and eaten, and would never see the Highland hills again!
When they were all gone by, Duncan looked after them and wept anew ;
but his attention was suddenly called away to something that softly touched his feet; he looked hastily about-it was a poor hungry lame dog, squatted on the ground, licking his feet, and manifesting the most extravagant joy. Gracious Heaven ! it was his own beloved and faithful Oscar! starved, emaciated, and so crippled, that he was scarcely able to walk! He was now doomed to be the slave of a Yorkshire peasant, (who, it seems, had either bought or stolen him at Falkirk,) the generosity and benevolence of whose feelings were as inferior to those of Oscar, as Oscar was inferior to him in strength and power. It is impossible to conceive a more tender meeting than this was ; but Duncan soon observed that hunger and misery were painted in his friend's looks, which again pierced his heart with feelings unfelt before. “I have not a crumb to give you, my poor Oscar!" said hem“ I have not a crumb to eat myself, but I am not so ill as you are.” The peasant whistled aloud, Oscar well knew the sound, and clinging to the boy's bosom, leaned his head upon his thigh, and looked in his face, as if saying, “O Dun. can, protect me from yon ruffian.” The whistle was repeated accompanied by a loud and surly call. Oscar trembled, but fearing to disobey, he limped away reluctantly after his unfeeling master, who, observing him to linger and look back, imagined he wanted to effect his escape, and came running back to meet him. Oscar cowered to the earth in the most submissive and imploring manner, but the peasant laid hold of him by the ear, and uttering many imprecations, struck him with a thick staff till he lay senseless at his feet.
Every possible circumstance seemed combined to wound the feelings of poor Duncan, but this unmerited barbarity shocked him most of all. He hasted to the scene of action, weeping bitterly, and telling the man that he was a cruel brute; and that if ever he himself grew a big man he would certainly kill him. He held up his favourite's head that he migħt recover his breath, and the man knowing that he could do little without his dog, waited patiently to see what would be the issue. The animal recovered, and stammered away at the heels of his tyrant without daring to look behind him. Duncan stood still, but kept his eyes eagerly fixed upon Oscar, and the farther he went from him, the more strong his desire grew to follow him. He looked the other way, but all there was to him a blank he had no desire to stand where he was, so he followed Oscar and the drove of cattle.
The cattle were weary and went slowly, and Duncan, getting a little goad in his hand, assisted the men greatly in driving them. One of the drivers gave him a penny, and another gave him
twopence; and the lad who had the charge of the drove, observing how active and pliable he was, and how far he had accompanied him on the way, gave him sixpence; this was a treasure to Duncan, who, being extremely hungry, bought three penny rolls as he passed through a town; one of these he ate himself, another he gave to Oscar; and the third he carried below his arm in case of farther necessity. He drove on all the day, and at night the cattle rested upon a height, which, by his description, seems to have been that between Gala Water and Middleton. Duncan went off at a side, in company with Oscar, to eat his roll, and, taking shelter behind an old earthen wall, they shared their dry meal most lovingly between them. Ere it was quite finished, Duncan being fatigued, dropped into a profound slumber, out of which he did not awake until the next morning was far advanced. Englishmen, cattle, and Oscar, all were gone. Duncan found himself alone on a wild height, in what country or kingdom he knew not. He sat for some time in a callous stupor, rubbing his eyes and scratching his head, but quite irresolute what was farther necessary for him to do, until he was agreeably surprised by the arrival of Oscar, who (although he had gone at his master's call in the morning) had found means to escape and seek the retreat of his young friend and benefactor. Duncan, without reflecting on the consequences, rejoiced in the event, and thought of nothing else than furthering his escape from the ruthless tyrant who now claimed him. For this purpose he thought it would be best to leave the road, and accordingly he crossed it, in order to go over a waste moor to the westward. He had not got forty paces from the road, until he beheld the enraged Englishman running towards him without his coat, and having his staff heaved over his shoulder. Duncan's heart fainted within him, knowing it was all over with Oscar, and most likely with himself. The peasant seemed not to have observed them, as he was running, and rather looking the other way; and as Duncan quickly lost sight of him in a hollow place that lay between them, he crept into a bush of heath, and took Oscar in his bosom ;--the heath was so long that it almost closed above them; the man had obe served from whence the dog started in the morning, and hastcd to the place, expecting to find him sleeping beyond the