Skip to main content

‹‹‹ prev (225)

(227) next ›››

  By the late Cuthbekt Bede.
  |fe|A NATIVE of Cantire, whose remiiiisoences
  ^Qaj of smuggling dated back to the close
  .^S£ of the past century, told me, in the
  following words
  Archibald Macnab was a Custom house officer
  in Cantire, in the latter part of the past century.
  He had a Government commission to seize
  smuggled goods, which were by no means
  scanty in those days; and it was even whispered
  that Archibald Macnab himself had discovered
  the art of doing a stroke of business iu that way
  on his own accoimt ; or at any rate, of appro-
  priating a portion of the seizure to his own
  private use. However, he was gifted with wit
  and surpassing ingenuity, which made his
  success the more sure and certain. In his
  personal appearance he was peculiar ; for, he
  was considerably under the ordinary stature of
  man, and was exceedingly broad and round.
  He wore luiee-breeches, with white stockings to
  his legs which were stout and shapely, and an
  ornament on any street path. He was also
  possessed of great strength, and has been known
  to half kill a man with the grasp of bis fingers
  about his neck. It was of no use to go to law
  with Archibald, for he was his own lawyer, and
  he was so cunning that he could always gain
  the plea.
  At this time Mr. Cameron was an excise
  officer in the town, and was very keen to
  apprehend smuggled goods. It was whispered
  to him, one day, that Ai'chibald Macnab had
  some rolls of smuggled tobacco in his house ;
  so Mr. Cameron went there to search for it.
  Archibald was a master of politeness, and he
  addressed his visitor in mild and friendly
  language. "How are ye, this day, Mr. Cameron?
  Is your wife pretty well, Mr. Cameron ? Are
  your bairns pretty well, Mr. Cameron i And
  is it well with all j-our kith and kiu, Mr.
  Cameron ? And it's kind of ye to be calling
  upon me, Mr. Cameron. Maybe, you've some
  particular business with me this day, Mr.
  Cameron 1 If so, I shall be glad to hear it of
  ye, Mr. Cameron: so, perhaps, you'll be pleased
  to take a seat, Mr. Cameron." He was always
  polite, was Archibald Macnab.
  Mr. Cameron took a seat, and said, " It is
  on business that I have come to you to day, Mr.
  Macnab: and rather important business, too.
  The fact is, that I have received information
  that you have a large quantity of smuggled
  tobacco concealed in your loft ; and I must
  search it, in order to prevent a fraud on the
  Government. "
  Archibald Macnab lifted up his hands and
  eyes in amazement. " Oh, Mr. Cameron 1 is it
  against me that you have suspicions I Me !
  Archibald Macnab ! a man bound in duty to
  protect the revenues of my country ! Ob,
  preserve me ! Surely, Mr Cameron, you have
  been sent on a fool's errand. How could
  tobacco be in my loft, and me not know it ?
  Preserve me ! "
  " However unpleasant my duty must be, Mr
  Macnab, both to you and to myself," said Mr
  Cameron, " still, it is my duty ; and I must
  obey it. I must, therefore, persist in my
  determination to search your loft ; and I hope
  that you will not throw any unnecessary
  obstacles in my way. I must request you to
  furnish me with a ladder and a light. "
  " You shall have as many as you wish for,
  Mr. Cameron. But no tobacco will you find.
  It's a fool's errand that j'ou'i-e come upon," said
  Archibald Macnab.
  But Mr. Cameron mounted the ladder, and
  had no sooner set foot iu the loft, than he kicked
  against a roll of tobacco ; and. holding out the
  light, he saw a pile of tbese rolls.
  "Ho, ho ! Mr. Macnab ! " he joyfully cried :
  " where is my fool's errand now ? My informa-
  tion was correct : the tobacco is here ! "
  " Preserve me ! " said Archibald. " It's a
  trick that some one has played upon me, Mr.
  Cameron. Are you sure it's tobacco, Mr.
  Cameron ? Is there much of it, Mr. Cameron ?
  Oh, is it not a sinful world, Mr Cameron ;■ In
  my loft, too, Mr. Cameron? and me bound to
  protect the revenues of my country. Oh, what
  shall I do, Mr. Cameron ! "
  " For the present, you can take charge of
  these rolls as I throw them down ; " said Mr.
  Cameron. And he began to pitch them down
  from the loft, counting one, two, thi-ee, as he
  did so. He counted up to thirty, and then said
  that was all ; and, getting on the ladder, came f
  down from the loft. When he had landed
  safely on the floor, there was Archibald Macnab
  standing there, and at his feet was a small ,
  half-rotten roll of tobacco. |
  " Why, where is my tobacco ? " cried Mr. f
  " Your tobacco, M r. Cameron '? " replied
  Archibald, quite poUtely ; " your tobacco is
  * Note. — The above story is reproduced from the
  MS. of an original work on Kintyre, entitled, An/i/ll's
  Hiijhlands. or the Land of Lnrne" by the late Cutlilnit
  Bede, author of Glenavr/gan, or a IliijUantl JJuiiu ,«
  Ganli/ri," etc., which ha.s never been published, and
  from whicli we intend quoting frequently in our pages.

Images and transcriptions on this page, including medium image downloads, may be used under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence unless otherwise stated. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence