A quite original picture of West Highland life in a small country town, perhaps Inverary (the author's birthplace), as it might have been in 1850. The main current of the story is psychological, being the inward history of Gilian, the dreamer, the artist or poet, a plastic, ultra-sensitive, imaginative nature in whom action is, as in Prince Hamlet, sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought.
e they not of the clan, was not the Duke their cousin, as the way of putting it was, and by his gracious offices many a pock-pudding English corps got a colonel with a touch of the Gaelic in his word of command as well as in his temper. They went away ensigns--some of them indeed went to the very tail of the rank and file with Mistress Musket the brown besom--and they came back Majors-General, with wounds and pensions. "Is not this a proud day for the town with three Generals standing at the Cross?" said the Paymaster once, looking with pride at his brother and Turner of Maam and Campbell of Strachur standing together leaning on their rattans at a market. It was in the Indies I think that this same brother the General, parading his command before a battle, came upon John, an ensign newly to the front with a draft from the sea.
"Who sent you here, brother John?" said he, when the parade was over. "You would be better at home in the Highlands feeding your mother's hens."
In one way it might have b