Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 58 > Page 83 - Mary E. Blatchford's Letter from Beinn Bhreagh, 1891

Page 83 - Mary E. Blatchford's Letter from Beinn Bhreagh, 1891

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1991/8/1 (135 reads)

family cut from illustrated papers, and there we sat in solemn silence, broken only by an occasional remark. I did not know the mysteries of Cape Bre? ton etiquette but after a time I ventured to say something about the weaving, which did not at once move him, but before long he went upstairs, then he came down, and after another solemn wait he asked us to go up. Whether there was any preparation going on or whether it was all ceremony, I do not know. We went up a short flight of rough stairs into an open unfinished attic with one small window. Here were two wom? en, one spinning and one weaving. The spinner, Mrs. McNeil, shook hands with us, but the old woman at the loom went on with her work. Her face was strangely familiar, and I asked her name. "Mrs. McKenzie," Mrs. McNeil said. I spoke to her and she smiled, showing her toothless gums, and shook her head, for she knew no English. But she knew weaving perfectly, and I would have bought the homespun on the spot but they would not sell; they wanted it for "drawers and sheets." The stuff was part white cotton, but "the filling" was pure wool, white too, and it was twilled and firm and fine; about a yard wide. The old woman worked the loom with her feet. She wore thick woollen stockings and no shoes. There were four treadles and she shifted her feet with every stroke, and I thought that made the twill. She seemed a lively old woman and much amused at our interest and she fired off remarks--per? sonal evidently--in Gaelic, and at last Mrs. McNeil said, "Mrs. McKenzie wants to know if you were at Mr. Bell's picnic; she says she saw you there," and then I knew my old dancing woman, only she was so much Ltd. Island Crafts Old-Fashioned Charm Is Our Trademark IHandknit Fishermen's Sweaters - Kitchen Accessories Designer Mohair Sweaters - Cookboolcs Hats & Scarves for Every Age Group Intricate Designs in Pottery - IHand Appliqued Quilts Ruffled Cushions - Wide Selection of Baby Items The Mad Potters Collection - Boats in Bottles A Good Selection of Local Literature I Wholesale | | Full Line of Souvenirs Downtown Sydney OPEN YEAR ROUND: MONDAY TO SATURDAY, 9 TO 5; FRIDAY, 9 TO 9 329 Charlotte Street, Sydney - 539-4424 ~ less solemn. We grew very friendly, with Mrs. McNeil for interpreter, and when I came off she had promised to weave twenty yards of the same kind of stuff for me next winter; and Mabel is to send her wool from the Beinn Bhreagh sheep. I hope she will, but I am not too sure! Then we came home, and after an early tea we set out in the boats for Baddeck to hear Mr. Kennan lecture on "tent life in Siberia." It was a perfect night, warm, smooth, hardly a ripple on the water, and the stars bright above and almost as bright below. Annie, the cook, who lives in terror of drowning, was driven around by Perrin, and Charles had to stay at home, "in case of fire," and Mabel and Li- na were too deaf, and the children were too whoopy, but all the rest of us were there, and Mr. Bell presided. I am not fond of lectures but I could have listened to Mr. Kennan all night. In the profession he is technically called "a repeater," that is, he can draw an audience twice in the same town. I should say he could draw the same audience, for the same lecture, every night for a month! If I made an au? dience he certainly could. Then we all rowed home again and the moon was up and it was heavenly and so to bed. SepL28,1891: Like the Thane of Cawdor "noth? ing in our life (at Beinn Bhreagh) became us like the leaving of it," nothing was more characteristic. In planning our trip I had thought it would be a good opportunity to Rural living can be dangerous, too! Are you worried about break-ins? We can help you protect: • Yourself • Your Family • Your Home • Your Property For free estimate, contact us at 69 JOHNSTONE ST., SYDNEY, NS BIP 1T2 (902) 564-9408 REST SECURE! With UflRDMl ALARM & SECURITY SYSTEMSl CO-OP SERVICE STATION Kerosene Available Exhaust Repairs Complete Brake Service Motor Vehicle Inspection Minor Repairs Lube • Oil • Greases Top Quality Low, Gasoline... 562-2315 Low Prices 503 PRINCE ST. • SYDNEY, N. S.
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