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Jeanie Lowrie, the Young Immigrant

by Miss F. E. Fryatt


It was early winter evening at Castle Garden, the scores of gas jets that light the vast rotunda dimly showing the great hall deserted by all the bustling throngs of the morning, save the few women and children clustered around the glowing stove, and closely watched by the keen-eyed officials who smoked and chatted within the railings near them.

Sitting apart from these, taking no notice of the gambols of the children, was a wee lassie of perhaps eight summers, her round, childish face drawn with trouble, and her great blue eyes brimful of tears. She was evidently expecting somebody, for her gaze was fixed on the door beyond, which seemed never to open.

It was little Jeanie Lowrie waiting for her grandfather's return. Old Sandy Lowrie, thinking to take advantage of their stay overnight in New York to visit his foster-son, who had left Scotland for America when a lad, had gone out in the afternoon into the great city, bidding Jeanie carefully guard their small luggage—a few treasures tied up in a silken kerchief, and Granny's precious umbrella, which was a sort of heirloom in the family.

While the great crowd surged to and fro, and the winter sunlight flooded the room, Jeanie had been content to watch and wait, half pleased and half frightened at the shouts and noises that fill the place on steamer day; but when the men, women, and children all went away, by twos and threes, save a few, and silence came with the increasing darkness, and the dim gas jets were lighted overhead, her heart, oppressed by a thousand fears, sunk within her, and she fell to sobbing bitterly.

Now there were not wanting kind hearts in the little groups around the stove; for there was Mary Dennett, with her five laddies, going to join her husband at the mines in Maryland; and Janet Brown, her neighbor, with her three rosy lassies; and Jessie Lawson, with her wee Davie; and not one of these three would see a child suffering without offering consolation. Kind Janet soon had her folded in motherly arms in spite of the bundle and the great umbrella, which the lassie stoutly refused to part with for a moment; and Mary Dennett, crossing over to the counter on the far side of the room, bought her cakes and apples; while the children, not to be outdone, made shy endeavors to beguile her into their innocent play.

But to each and all of these Jeanie turned a deaf ear, moaning constantly: "I want my ain, ain gran'daddie; he hae gaun awa', an' left me alane. Oh, gran'daddie, cam back to your Jeanie!"

The evening wore on into night, and still no Sandy came to comfort Jeanie; but there came that great consoler, sleep. Soon she slumbered in Janet's arms, and the kind soul, fearing to waken her, held her there till the beds for the little company were spread on the floor; then she laid Jeanie tenderly down, with her treasures still clasped in her arms, and covering her, stooped to print a warm kiss on the round tear-stained cheek, not forgetting to breathe a prayer for the missing Sandy's safe return.

The snow glistened on the walks and grass-plats of the park without; the wind roared down the streets and whistled among the bare branches of the trees, and rushing along, heaped up the waters in huge billows, dashing them against the great stone pier; men passed to and fro, but Sandy came not, for far off in the great city he had lost his way.

In vain he had asked every one to tell him where his foster-son Alec Deans lived. Meeting only laughter or rebuffs, he tried in the growing darkness to find his way back to Castle Garden, but could not. No one seemed to understand him, or cared to; so at last, worn out in mind and body, he sunk down on the stone steps of a house, unable to proceed a step further.

Bright and early the next morning at Castle Garden the women were roused from their sleep, for the beds must be rolled up, and the place cleared for the business of the day, and all must be ready for the early train.

In the confusion of preparing the children for breakfast and the journey, the women had forgotten Jeanie for the time, till suddenly Janet, spying her, with her bundle and her umbrella, standing and casting troubled, wistful glances at the door, ran over and brought her to where the women and children were drinking coffee from great cups, and eating rolls of brown-bread and butter. Seating her in the midst of them, she said, "Eat a bit o' the bannock, dearie. Gran'daddie will cam back wi' a braw new bonnet for Jeanie, and then we'll a' gang awa' i' the train togither."

"I dinna want a bonnet," cried Jeanie; "I on'y want gran'daddie."

"Dinna greet, bairnie; he'll no leave ye lang noo."

But the old man, contrary to their hopes, failed to appear, so there rose a troubled consultation among the women regarding Jeanie. They had all lived neighbors to the Lowries, a mile or so beyond the dike which is a stone's-throw from the duke's palace, near Hamilton; the "gudemen" of their families, hearing great reports of the mines in America, and the times being hard for miners at home, had gone out to verify them, Angus Lowrie among the rest. All four had prospered, and now sent for their wives and bairnies. Young Lowrie, however, was doomed to the bitter sorrow of never more seeing the bonny wife he had left behind him, for a fever had carried her off in her prime; so that Jeanie, her bairn, was left to the sole care of her grandfather, who loved her tenderly, as the old are wont to love the young.

While the women were in the midst of their dilemma, half resolved to carry off the "lane bairnie" privately, lest the officers should interfere, the superintendent, seeing some trouble was afoot, came over and soon settled the matter, for there was a law on the subject that he was bound to obey.

But we are quite forgetting old Sandy all this time. Seeing that he was lost, and there was no help for it, that he should sit down in the particular spot he did was a peculiar stroke of good fortune, for it was the very house he had been seeking, and what was most wonderful, just at that moment the door above opened, and down came Alec Deans in time to hear Sandy's faint cry, "God help my puir Jeanie!"

Alec Deans had not heard the dear Scottish accent in many a year, so straightway that sound went to his very heart-strings, making them thrill and tingle with a joy that was as suddenly turned to pain, when, stooping down, he found the old man fallen back as one dead.

With little ado—for Sandy was small and thin—he lifted him bodily, carried him up the steps, and rang a peal which soon brought his wife to the door. Placing the old man on a sofa in the warm sitting-room where the light fell on his poor, pale face, Alec Deans in a moment recognized his foster-father, and set to work to restore him. The long stormy passage, and the trials incident to emigrant life on shipboard, added to the fatigue and fright of his night's wanderings, had so told on the old man's feeble frame, that after much effort on the part of Alec Deans to revive him, he could do no more than move restlessly, murmuring, "Puir Jeanie! Puir wee bairnie Jeanie!"

Before he could well tell his story, the most of it became known to his foster-son, for the Commissioners, finding he did not return to Castle Garden, sending Jeanie weeping away to the Refuge on Ward's Island, and notifying the police, advertised the missing man in the papers.

It was on the second day after Sandy's falling into such good hands that Alec, reading the morning paper at his breakfast table, saw the advertisement describing Sandy to the very Glengarry cap he wore on his head when missing.

In short order he made his way to the Rotunda at Castle Garden, told the old man's adventure, and obtained a permit to bring Jeanie away from the Refuge.

There was an hour to spare before the little steamboat Fidelity would start for Ward's Island, so Alec, being a thoughtful man, employed it in purchasing a pretty fur hat and tippet and some warm mittens, lest Jeanie should suffer from cold, for it was a bitter day to sail down the East River.

When Alec, arriving at his destination, was taken into the long school-room, and saw the sad pale-faced little creatures bending wearily over their lessons, stopping only to lift timid glances to his friendly face, as if they would gladly pour out their little hearts to him, he was filled with a great pity and a sharp regret that he could not take the wee things away with him, and give them each the shelter of as happy a home as that in which his own Phemie bloomed and flourished.

"Jeanie Lowrie, step this way; you are wanted," exclaimed a teacher.

Poor Jeanie, as she came reluctantly forward with downcast eyes, looked as if she feared some new disaster. Pale and dejected, could this be the blooming lassie who so short a time since parted with her grandfather?

"Jeanie," said Alec, softly, "I've come to take you to your gran'daddie. Here's some warm things; put them on, and get ready."

"Oh, sir, may I gang awa' frae here to see my ain, ain gran'daddie once mair?" cried the lassie, the glow of a great joy dawning on her pale face and lighting her eyes.

"Yes, Jeanie," said Alec, brokenly, "home with my Phemie: he's there. There, do not cry; the trouble is all over," said Alec, soothingly, carrying her away in his arms, and trying to stay the sobs that convulsed her small body.

Arrived at Castle Garden, a new surprise awaited him and Jeanie, for who should be there, pacing up and down in his strong impatience to see the bairnie, but Angus Lowrie. He had left his Southern cottage, which was prepared for their arrival, and hastened on to know the fate of Sandy and Jeanie. And now he had his darling in his strong arms, and so great was his joy that he could do little but press her to his breast, then hold her off and look into her eyes again and again, seeing mirrored there the eyes of his girl-wife Elsie, whom he had loved with a love he would bear to his grave.

And now they must hasten to the dear old father who had braved the perils of the wintry deep that he might bring Elsie's one and only treasure to her husband, little recking that, far away from kith and kin, he should lay his old bones in a foreign land. If sorrow had had power to steal the roses from Jeanie's cheek, joy planted new and fairer ones there; and never did a brighter light dance in the blue eyes than when, a little later, with a soft sound of rapture, she flung her arms around Sandy's neck, crying, "My ain, ain gran'daddie, ye s'all never, never leave me ony mair!" Jeanie's presence did more to set old Sandy on his feet again than all the physic in the world; so in a few days the happy trio were whirling off to the mining village in Maryland, where they are living and prospering to-day.