The Champion Stone Cutter
David Fraser was a famous Scotch hewer.
hearing that it had been remarked among a party
of Edinburgh masons that, though regarded as
the first of Glasgow stonecutters, he would find
in the eastern capital at least his equals, he
attired himself most uncouthly in a long-tailed coat
of tartan, and, looking to the life the untamed,
untaught, conceited little Celt, he presented
himself on Monday morning, armed with a letter
of introduction from a Glasgow builder, before
the foreman of an Edinburgh squad of masons
engaged upon one of the finer buildings at that
time in the course of erection.
The letter specified neither his qualifications
nor his name. It had been written merely to
secure for him the necessary employment, and
the necessary employment it did secure.
The better workmen of the party were engaged,
on his arrival, in hewing columns, each of
which was deemed sufficient work for a week - and
David was asked somewhat incredulously, by the
foreman, if he could hew.
"Oh, yes, HE THOUGHT he
"Could he hew columns such
"Oh, yes, HE THOUGHT he
could hew columns such
A mass of stone, in which a possible column
lay hid, was accordingly placed before David, not
under cover of the shed, which was already
occupied by workmen, but, agreeably to David's
own request, directly in front of it, where he
might be seen by all, and where he straightway
commenced a most extraordinary course of antics.
Buttoning his long tartan coat fast around him,
he would first look along the stone from the one
end, anon from the other, and then examine it in
front and rear - or, quitting it altogether for the
time, he would take up his stand beside the other
workmen, and, after looking at them with great
attention, return and give it a few taps with the
mallet, in a style evidently imitative of theirs, but
monstrously a caricature.
The shed all that day resounded with roars of
laughter - and the only thoroughly grave man on
the ground was he who occasioned the mirth of
all the others.
Next morning David again buttoned his coat -
but he got on much better this day than the
former. He was less awkward and less idle,
though not less observant than before - and he
succeeded ere evening in tracing, in workmanlike
fashion, a few draughts along the future column.
He was evidently greatly improving!
On the morning of Wednesday he threw off his
coat - and it was seen that, though by no means in
a hurry, he was seriously at work. There were no
more jokes or laughter - and it was whispered in
the evening that the strange Highlander had made
astonishing progress during the day.
By the middle of Thursday he had made up for
his two days' trifling, and was abreast of the
other workmen. Before night he was far ahead of
them - and ere the evening of Friday, when they
had still a full day's work on each of their
columns, David's was completed in a style that defied
criticism - and, his tartan coat again buttoned
around him, he sat resting himself beside it.
The foreman went out and greeted him.
"Well," he said, "you
have beaten us all. You
certainly CAN hew!"
"Yes," said David, "I
THOUGHT I could hew
columns. Did the other men take much more than
a week to learn?"
"Come, come, DAVID FRASER," replied
foreman, "we all guess who you are. You have had
your week's joke out - and now, I suppose, we
must give you your week's wages, and let you go
"Yes," said David, "work
waits for me in
Glasgow - but I just thought it might be well to
know how you hewed on this east side of the