79 angling sketches his own story of what he had been

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Unformatted text preview: f grass, which came away easily enough, and revealed the entrance to no more romantic hiding-place 78 ANGLING SKETCHES than an old secret whiskey "still." Private stills, not uncommon in Sutherland and some other northern shires, are extinct in Galloway. Allen had probably found this one by accident in his wanderings, and in his half-insane bitterness against mankind had made it, for some time at least, his home. The smoke-blackened walls, the recesses where the worm-tub and the still now stood, all plainly enough betrayed the original user of the hiding-place. There was a low bedstead, a shelf or two, whereon lay a few books--a Shakespeare, a Homer, a Walton, Plutarch's "Lives"; very little else out of a library once so rich. There was a tub of oatmeal, a heap of dry peat, two or three eggs in a plate, some bottles, a keg of whiskey, some sardine-tins, a box with clothes--that was nearly all the "plenishing" of this hermitage. It was never likely to be discovered, except by the smoke, when the inmate lit a fire. The local shepherd knew it, of course, but Allen had bought his silence, not that there were many neighbours for the shepherd to tattle with. Allen had recovered strength enough by this time to reach his den with little assistance. He made me beat up the white of one of the eggs with a little turpentine, which was probably, under the circumstances, the best styptic for his malady within his reach. I lit his fire of peats, undressed him, put him to bed, and made him as comfortable as might be in the den which he had chosen. Then I went back to the shepherd's, sent a messenger to the nearest doctor, and procured a kind of sledge, generally used for dragging peat home, wherein, with abundance of blankets for covering, I hoped to bring Allen back to the shepherd's cottage. Not to delay over details, this was managed at last, and the unhappy fellow was under a substantial roof. But he was very ill; he became delirious and raved of many things--talked of old college adventures, bid recklessly for imaginary books, and practised other ecce...
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