The Rose Among the Heather by C. and J. Sobieski

From Lays of the Deer Forest (1847).

One day in Glen Garry we sat on the bank of a deserted cottage, long grown over by the mantle of the strath and scarcely distinguished in the humble undulation which it lifted in the heather; as the sun brightened in the old fail dyke, a glowing spot of crimson glistened against the dark moor. I rose to examine what could give such colour there. It was a cankered garden rose: the stem was gouted and doddered by the continual nibbling of the sheep; but one green shoot from the last spring had shot from its top, and the red blossom hung heavy on its slender stem, as if too weighty for the weak branch of its decaying strength.

I showed it to the old black forester, Alasdair MacDhomhnuill who had seen eighty summers, spring and fall upon the high Garry. [He was 3 years old in 1745 -Ed.]. He shook his head, and his bushy brow knit more closely: “Ou aye,” in the deep, sonorous, but composed tone of Gaelic melancholy accustomed to the object of surprise and regret. “There were many of them when I was a bairn; many the one I brought in to my mother from the dikes, when I would be herding the cattle, for I never saw their like in the glen: And whiles the tears came into her eyes, and she would make me lead her out to the place – she was blind, ye ken – and then she would bend down her face to the flower and feel it with her hands, and the tears would come down her cheek; and when I asked about it –

“Ou, ye need na mind,” she would say. “There were many of them once, but they died out and the wind took the seed awa’ to the banks and the dikes, where they got earth and shelter from the sheep, and whiles they come up between the stones and the heather.”

After I had returned to my seat Alasdair stood long by the flower, and I saw him brush his hand across his face, and turn away and cut the tops of the heather with his oak-stick.

I met afterwards various other traces of the horticulture of the glens, and pointed them out to the old forester.

“Ou, they were there before the people went to the hill in the Forty-five,” he replied. “They loved the flowers and the gardens then, but after, when they came back from the carns, they had no the heart for them: They had lost ower many flowers by the hearth, to mind the flowers of the gardens.”