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of these men, among whom was Straw Hat and Yellow Waistcoat, were witnessed by those on shore with admiration, and when they saw that they had crossed the dangerous currents, just in time to save the Kerrs, who had now only about three feet of earth left to stand upon, they gave them three hearty cheers. They were in no small degree rejoiced to see Kerr, and his poor wife, and the little girl, stowed safely into the boat; but when, directly after, they saw the brave Yellow Waistcoat wading away, and sounding the depths with a pole, until he got to one end of the building, and then beheld him lay hold of a large pig, and throw it into the boat as easily as if it had been a rabbit, they were angry to think his life should have been risked for such a saving-but he must have been a good-natured fellow, for it seems that the pig belonged to a poor widow, and was all the property she had left.
When the frail boat, crossing again all the dangerous streams, arrived at the shore with the little party, they were received by many of their friends with so much heart and rejoicing, that even old Kerr, who was known for his firmness by the name of old Rodney, could not help shedding a few tears among the rest, exclaiming, in his homely Scotch, Hoot, toot, nonsense! Wha't this o't? Toots! I canna stand this mair than you, bairns. Od, I maun just greet it out.'
The boat next, with considerable difficulty, reached a cottage among alders, a little way above the bridge, in which were three helpless old women, one of whom had been for years bed-ridden. When the boat reached the hut, Yellow Waistcoat knocked in the window, and entered with another of the boat's crew. They found the inmates sitting on chairs, immersed in water, which was four feet deep in the house. They were nearly dead with cold, and could not have existed many hours longer. They were lifted through the window, and were soon placed in safety.
To reach another family, consisting of a poor invalid old man, his infirm wife, their daughter, and grandson, it was necessary to carry the boat some distance, in order to launch it on another part of the flood. By the time the boat with its crew reached the cottage, its western side was entirely gone, and the boat was pushed in at the gap. Not a sound was heard within, and they suspected that all were drowned; but, on looking through a hole in a partition, they discovered the unhappy inmates roosted, like fowls, on the beams of the
roof. They were, one by one, transferred safely to the boat, half dead with cold; but the old man's mind, unable to withstand the agonizing apprehensions he had suffered, had become utterly deranged.
A book might be filled with accounts of the wonderful escapes of the night when these families were exposed to the wind, and the rain, and the flood.
The miller of Dunphail was one of the most industrious and thriving persons in that part of the country, and, by his ingenuity and labour, had made his meal and carding-mills the pride of the neighbourhood. They were entirely ruined by the flood. The river Dorback, on which it stood, began, on the Monday afternoon, to send so much flood-water down the mill-run as to overflow it, and in a short time, before the miller could secure his pony and his cows, he and his family were hemmed in on all sides by deep water. In the night it rose still higher, and poured in at the doors and windows of the house. The miller ran to the bed where his little brother was sleeping, snatched him up, and carried him out to the meal mill, which was raised and dry, and he kindled a fire to keep the poor little fellow warm. had hardly got back to the house, before the south gable-end, against which the current was setting, gave way; and if the miller had not immediately knocked out the window in the north gable, to let the water run out, all would have been drowned.
When the light of morning came, the miller and his family saw some of their neighbours on the bank, not more than thirty yards from them; but so loud was the noise of the flood that they could not make themselves heard. The appearance of the river was awful. Every now and then large trees were brought down by it, which struck heavily against the carding-mill, and it seemed as if a great sea was coming down upon them, tossing its terrible waves in the air much higher than the houses. As they expected every moment that the walls of the house would give way, and that they all should be lost in its ruins, they watched the movements of their friends on the opposite bank with great anxiety. Sometimes they saw them consulting together, and their hopes were raised; and sometimes they saw them seeming to move away, and then they gave themselves up for lost. The miller made up his mind for death, and resigned himself to it; and his little brother said he was not afraid; but a girl and a lad who were with them did nothing but shriek and wring their hands; although that, of course, did no good.
At length, to their great joy, they perceived that those of their neighbours on the bank who had seemed to leave them to destruction, had really only moved away to get more help. They beheld them returning, along with fifty or sixty others, some of them carrying ropes. Of course, they watched all that was done anxiously enough, for every minute was precious. They saw the good people drive a post into the ground, and then throw the end of a thick rope across the deep stream to the mill. The miller and his people caught the rope, and fixed it to a strong beam which they jammed into the front window; whilst those on shore fastened the other end to the post. Then a smaller rope was thrown across, which the miller fastened to the boy, who was then drawn to the land, clinging all the way to the larger rope. The poor girl, when her turn came, lost her hold of the rope, and, but for the exertions of the other people, would have been drowned. Thus all their lives were saved. But, when the waters went down, it was found that the river had cut a new course to the mills; that the foundations of the walls were undermined; that the machinery was all destroyed; and all, even the very ground, so ruined, that it would be impossible ever to have mills there again.
During all these dangers, hardly any lives were lost along the whole course of the rivers affected by the flood; although, in such a widespreading visitation, some melancholy circumstances could not be prevented.
An unfortunate innkeeper lost his life, in a manner which will long be talked of as a melancholy tale for a winter's evening in the province of Moray. His name was Charles Cruickshanks. It happened that on the very Monday-night when the flood took place, there was a dance at his house. The sound of a lively fiddle is a thing that the Scotch country people are all fond of, and their dancing is very joyous and lively. Charley Cruickshanks was so particularly merry on that evening, that some of his neighbours, who are very superstitious, thought it was no good sign. His wife even expressed her fears that the good man was what the Scotch call fey; a word signifying a state of high spirits just before death.
The rapid rising of the river put a stop to the fiddle and an end to the dancing, and Cruickshanks, with two of his neighbours, became busily engaged in endeavouring to save a quantity of wood which be longed to him, and was lying near the mouth of the burn, or small
stream. The wood was already floating, and they got upon it, and did what they could to bring it to shore. But the stream increased so much, that the other two men would stay on the raft no longer, and, plunging over head into the water, saved themselves by making great efforts. They tried hard to persuade Cruickshanks to do the same, but he was accustomed to floating on the raft, and was quite without fear; indeed, although he had now only a few pieces of wood to stand on, he tried to catch at and save some of the hay-cocks of the neighbouring clergyman as they went past him down the water. The flood still kept on increasing, until at last even Cruickshanks himself began to see the great danger he was in. He called out to those who were on shore to get a horse and to ride in with a rope, or that he must be carried down the stream. Before a horse could be brought to the spot, he was carried out of their reach. Charles was a brave man; the greater the danger, the greater his courage. He grasped the pole which he held in his hand more firmly, and pushed boldly into the stream; but he had hardly done so before the strength of the water carried his pole away from him. His friends cried out with terror when they saw him shoot away upon his frail raft down the current, with the swiftness of an arrow shot from a bow, and with nothing in his hands to save or help him. They saw him collect his strength and stand firmly; and when the raft came to the point were it joined the broad and rapid river Spey, where some trees grew, now surrounded by water and far from the land, he made a desperate spring and clung to the boughs of one of them, whilst the raft was hurried on, and all its pieces scattered on the waters in a moment. His friends now shouted for joy, for they hoped he was safe; but he knew his danger, and gave no shout in return.
And now everybody was in motion to procure a boat, which was soon obtained from a neighbouring gentleman's grounds. Unfortunately none of the people knew very well how to manage it. However, some of them got into it, determined to help their neighbour if they could. They durst not go very near the tree to which he was clinging, on account of the extreme fierceness of the current there; but they tried to approach within such a distance of it as to throw a rope upon it. It was now between seven and eight o'clock in the evening, the rain still pouring, and the wind howling as has already been described. Many times did the people in the boat endeavour
to get near enough to Charley to throw the rope to him, and as many times did the rapid stream carry them too swiftly past him to enable them to do it. Again and again they were near him, and again and again the poor man's hopes were raised and lost. They saw him, as they passed, with no marks of fear in his countenance, and they even heard him encouraging their kind exertions; but they could not reach him, and they could not help him. They even began to think that something more than natural causes prevented their saving his life; and when night fell they gave up their efforts.
Terrible, indeed, must then have been the situation of Charley Cruickshanks; darkness around him; the roaring waters-so soon to be his grave about him; and nothing but a frail tree betwixt him and death! Yet, even in that dreadful situation, it was afterwards proved that this brave fellow had wound up his watch at night as usual. But alive they never saw him more. They heard his voice between the gusts of wind; and his cries for help long rung in their ears, and in those of his distracted wife. Then his voice ceased, and they thought he was lost. He had no more strength left to make his voice heard but after that they had heard his well-known whistle; and again and again they heard it, until it died away for ever, and then they knew that he must be gone. The water had gradually deepened about the tree on which he depended, and, when the morning light appeared, the tree was no longer there. The body of the poor man was afterwards found, four or five miles below the spot where his friends had last beheld him. His watch was in his pocket; it had stopped at eleven, the time when the tree was supposed to have given way; and it was also nearly full wound up, showing that the had retained his presence of mind to the last.
The loss of such a firm-minded man was the more painful to think upon, because it is not at all improbable that he might have been saved; and, strange to say, the means of saving him were mentioned by a poor boy, who was considered almost an idiot, when the neighbours were sorrowing over Charley's death. The boy ventured to say that he thought he could have taken him out. "You!" exclaimed a dozen voices at once, 66 what would you have done, you wise man?" The boy explained that he would have tied an empty cask to a long rope, and have floated it off from near about the place whence the raft was taken away by the stream; and that, perhaps, the cask would have