Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter XII.: A WAKING DREAM. - Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Chapter XII.: A WAKING DREAM. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 2 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1832). Vol. 2.
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
A WAKING DREAM.
Not a drawback to the happiness of Angus and Ella now remained, and a more cheerful family party was never seen than assembled before the cottage the next morning to arrange the few preparations necessary before the marriage, which was to take place in two days.
Angus had finally given up his charge at the farm, and received security tor the payment of what was due to him out of the growing crops which had been sown and tended by him. He was now about to make the circuit of the island, and to touch at some others in the Sound, to make known the time when he should take his first trip, in order that the commissions of his customers might be ready. Ronald was his companion in this excursion, from which they hoped to return by the middle of the next day, before proceeding to meet the new boat. Fergus would accompany them then to share the honour of bringing home the vessel which was to he the first regular medium of the commerce of the island; and the next morning, Ella and Archie were to be received on board and to proceed to Oban, where the marriage was to take place.
Fergus and Ella were to occupy themselves during Angus's present excursion in improving their arrangements within doors. Angus's goods had been stored in a safe place; they were now unpacked, and served not a little to ornament the dwelling and add to its conveniences. With what a light heart did Ella pursue her employments this day! How gentle was now her accustomed song, and how tender the glance she cast upon Archie, from time to time, as he followed her to watch her proceedings and make his strange remarks upon every new object he: saw! Fergus waited upon them both with all the quiet heedfulness of a girl, while his manly spirit was eager to be busy upon the tossing sea.
“Ella! What can this be?” he cried, as he unpacked a bag of green baize which contained some short tubes which seemed meant to fix into each other.—Archie immediately snatched one and looked through the ends.
“He takes it for a telescope,” said Ella, smiling. “It is a flute; Angus told me he would play to us, some day. It is played by blowing through those holes, I believe, and not at the end, like the mouth-piece of a bag-pipe.”
Fergus tried, and succeeded in producing a tremendous screech. Archie first started then laughed, and employed himself for the rest of the day in applying a piece of alder wood to his mouth and screeching in like manner.
“His music is as good as mine,” observed Fergus laughing. “I cannot think how any body can fetch pleasant music out of those holes. I like a bag–pipe far better.”
“Wait till you hear Angus play to-morrow,” said his sister. “He tells me that he has heard some musicians play airs that would almost win the eagle from her prey.”
“I wish he were such a one,” replied Fergus. “I would fain have an eagle within reach, and pin her carcase to our wall as Angus has done at the farm.”
“You would be a keen sportsman, Fergus, if you lived within reach of better game than wildfowl that lie still to be shot. But, come, lay aside the flute, and leave off handling your gun, if you wish to be on the steep to hail their return to-morrow. There is much to be done yet, and I have a fancy that they will be home earlier than the hour they bade us look for them.”
The boat was in earlier; but Fergus was already watching on the steep, with Ella sitting by his side.
“All well?” cried Angus, as he sprang on shore; “why then, everything is well, for we shall have as much business to manage in this first trip as if our boat was bound for the port of London, instead of suet, a poor place as Oban.”
“A poor place!” exclaimed Ronald. “Well, I suppose travelling abroad makes one saucy. I never saw Oban, to be sure; but I should judge from the number of things you are to be desired to buy, that almost any traffic may be carried on there. Can ye tell Ella some of the articles you will have to bring back?”
“There are more than I can remember now. One neighbour is going to try his fortune with a flock, and I am to bring over some ewes with their lambs. Then a rare housewife wants needles, and her husband hemp to make nets; and many need barley-meal to make out till harvest. I am glad you are going with me, Ella, for I am to have a commision for some woman's finery that I know less how to bargain for than for sheep and hemp. I shall often have such articles in my freight, for shall women be within reach of caps and ribbons and not buy?”
“You may reckon on beginning with me,” said Ella, smiling. “I purpose trafficking for caps,”
There was more in this to delight Angus than would have met an English ear. The Highland women wear no caps till they can assume the matronly curch with which it was now Ella's purpose to provide herself. She led the way into the dwelling to show how she and Fergus had been employed.
“You have been as busy as we, Ella; so now let us make holiday for the two hours that we are waiting for the tide. It is full soon to start again: but the better we use the tide, the sooner we shall come back for you and Archie. Where is Archie?”
“On the Storr since day-break. Would ye let him hear the flute?—that is, if ye can make it heard so far, for we shall not win him home while day lasts.”
Angus went out upon the beach, and his companions seated themselves round him upon the shingle; and now, how astonished was Fergus to hear what music might be brought out of a flute! Its clear sweet notes reached Archie on his rock. He came out to the mouth of his hole at the first sound, and stood intently listening while Angus played a slow air, and danced merrily when it was changed to a jig. As often as it ceased, he clapped his hands impatiently for more.
“O Angus,” cried Ella, “ye have brought a new pleasure to Archie!” and Angus took this as it was meant,—as a strong expression of gratitude.
“How piercing the note is!” cried Ronald. “If you played among the dells higher up, Ronald. the rocks would be long in letting the music drop.”
“And if this sea were smooth water like an inland lake,” said Angus, “I could make the people in Scarba hear me. I have heard it as far over water where there was no ripple and when not a breath was stirring.”
The lads had seldom known so serene a state of the air as this, and could not even conceive of waters that had not more or less swell.
On looking round, Ella perceived that the musician had other auditors than Archie and themselves. The tenants of the farm were peeping over the ridge behind, and the Murdochs were stationed at the point of the promontory to the left which separated their cove from Ella's. Though Angus put up his instrument, they still lingered, at first hoping to hear it again, and then being curious to see the preparations for embarking.
“Take care of yourself and Arehie till the morn,” said Ronald, “and then be up with the sun,—bright may he shine!—and see us cut across the Sound; and be sure ye await us at the quay, for that is where ye must get on board.”
“It will save us a circuit if we push off from the quay now,” said Fergus, “since we have to bear down due south some way, and we can easily carry the boat over the bar.”
Angus thought the same. Just as they were hoisting the bark on their shoulders, the young Murdochs came up; Rob to ask a passage a little way down the Sound, and the girls to keep Ella company for a while.
“Archie is in his merriment to–day,” said one; “he has scarce ceased dancing since he heard the music.”
“He knows what is doing now,” observed the other,; “see him climbing to the top to see them push off.”
The girls and Ella then walked slowly up the path from the beach to a point whence they might watch the boat set off, to and trace it for a considerable way. It was a bright and serene afternoon; there were no rough gales abroad, and the swell of the sea was no greater than in the calmest days of that region. The air was so clear that the mountain lights and shadows were distinctly visible as their peaks rose one behind another on the eastern horizon. Within the shadow of the Storr, the water was of the deepest green, while beyond, long streaks of glittering light extended from island to island, and grew broader as the sun descended.
The little boat pushed off from the quay in good style, with two pair of off oars, the three boatmen of Ella's household having waved their bonnets and cheered before they stept in, in honour of the spectators. It was necessary to pull strongly and evenly till they should have crossed the rapid current which flowed round the Storr: but Rob, heedless of this, and remembering that he had not cheered and waved his bonnet, suddenly started up, threw down his oar, destroyed the balance, and upset the boat.—What shrieks rang from rock to rock, as the bark tumbled in the current, and the rowers were borne, in spite of their struggles, down, down, far and fast by the sweeping waters! Ella clasped her hands above her head, and uttered no sound after the first shriek. Her companions ran hither and thither with loud lamentations. The people at the farm did what these girls should have done; they ran down with all speed to desire Murdoch to get out his boat.
“There's one safe!” cried Meg; “the rock is but just above the water, but he is sitting upon it.”
“O God!” groaned Ella, “save me from praying which it may be!”
Another soon appeared on the same point; but nothing could yet be seen of the other two.
Archie had beheld all this, and more: he could overlook Murdoch's proceedings also from his pinnacle. He was strongly wrought upon; for no one understood better the signs of emotion, whether or not he understood the cause. He acted with rapidity and strength, as if suddenly inspired by reason; but alas! his energy could only manifest itself in the way of imitation. The moment he saw Murdoch's boat hastily launched, he ran down to his “floating place,” as he called it, rolled his cask into the water and got into it. Murdoch alone saw him standing up and waving his bonnet, before he reached the eddy, which could not but be fatal to him.— The cask came up again,—empty—and floated round the point, as Archie had no doubt foreseen it would, and at length arrived within Fergus's reach, and was the means of saving him. He clung to it. not aware of the nature of the friendly support, till taken up by Murdoch's boat. The two who had reached the rock were Angus and Ronald; and Rob had had his wits so sharpened by the plunge, as to perceive that he had better not leave hold of the oar he had clung to at first. He too was taken up; so that Ella believed that all had come safe out of this awful peril,—she alone being ignorant of what had happened at the Storr. When she joined her brothers on the beach, they stood a moment aloof from her embrace, with countenances in which there was as much of solemn compassion as of grief. Angus was down upon his face; Murdoch alone uttered a few broken words. It was some time before she could comprehend or would believe what had happened, and then she was the only one who retained her self-command.
An expression of unspeakable anguish passed over her countenance as Fergus mourned that he had been saved by Archie's loss.
“Nay, Fergus,” said she, “let us leave it to Him who guides us, to show whose life had best be taken and whose left. God knows I strove for this before I knew his pleasure; and now that we do know it, let us question neither the purpose nor the means.—Let us devoutly bless Him that you are here.”
While Angus took her home, the neighbours dispersed in search of the body, which could not, however, be found, and was supposed to have been carried by the current far out of reach. When all had gone home for the night, and her companions had for some time retired to hide their grief, or to forget it for a while in sleep, Ella stole out alone, and passed the night among the rocks,—a night, whose natural beauty was worthy to succeed to that of the day that was gone. It was light; and this it was which, giving the faint hope of recovering the body, took Ella abroad. The red lights of the west had not wholly vanished when the grey dawn began to glimmer, while, in mid sky, the stars twinkled as if in rivalship of the sparkles below. The sea was, as it often is in that region, highly luminous; and as Ella sat watching the eddy within which Archie had sunk, her eye marked, and not without pleasure even now, the gleam which broke on the crest of every wave, and was scattered in showers of sparkles as far as the spray could reach.
There she was found by Angus, at day-break.
“You have not been in his cave?” said he.
“No,” replied Ella. “I will go there first when you and the lads have left me.”
“Left you! and when will that be?”
“In a few hours, I hope,” she replied, smiling. “I must see that Archie is still honoured by being kept apart from that in which he had no share. The business of our days went on without him while he lived, and it shall go on now, if it were only to show that he bore no part in it. You must perform your promises to our neighbours, Angus, and discharge their business, and then you can come back to me with an easy mind.”
“I will,” replied Angus; “and I will not ask you to go with me this time. It is for you to say whether there is cause for your remaining behind.”
“There is; this once,—not longer, Angus. I cannot give up the hope of laying Archie beneath the cross beside my father. This will either be done or given up before your next voyage, and then I will go.”
For some hours of the morning of their intended marriage-day, Angus and Ella were wandering along the shores engaged in the most melancholy search in which eye and heart can be employed. At length Angus pointed to a sign which could scarcely be misunderstood. He had observed an osprey winging: its flight for some distance over the sea, and now perceived that it was joined by another, and that both were hovering as if about to stoop. Endeavouring to scare them with cries, he hastened onwards, followed by Ella, for somc distance towards the south-west, and succeeded in finding the object of their search. Archie lay, as if asleep, on a beach of fine sand, still grasping the bosom of his plaid which contained the gathered treasures of the day.—Long were those weeds and feathers kept as memorials of Archie's pleasures: they were Ella's only hoard.
Angus returned from his first voyage with the lads in safety, and in time to lay Archie's head in the grave. This done, Ella acknowledged that no duty remained to prevent her fulfilling all her promises. She accompanied him, the next week, to Oban, and returned his wife.
Having illustrated the leading principles which regulate the Production of Wealth, we proceed to consider the laws of its Distribution.
The classes concerned in production are (as we have seen) two, Labourers and Capitalists; but the latter class is usually divided into two, viz.—
Those who hold in possession the natural agents of production, as Land-owners; and
Those who employ these natural agents, as Farmers, or others who apply capital to land or water.
Of these three classes, among whom distribution takes place,
Labourers receive their share as Wages,
Capitalists receive their share as Profits,
Land-owners receive their share as Rent.
We proceed first to Rent, for reasons which will appear when we treat of Wages and Profits; and, for sake of clearness, shall confine our Summary to the explanation of Land-Rent.