From The Scrapbook By Rev. Bill Randall

From The Scrap Book 

Ella Swan’s Devil

The late Ella Swan (1877- 1967) claimed the Devil tempted her – in Church.

Ella, one of the six daughters of Jim and Margaret Swan of Tweedside was very keen about school, however, the schoolhouse was quite a distance away and it was hard for her to get there. Ella’s grandfather, John Stuart Thompson-who had been the first school teacher in Harvey, persuaded her parents to let her come and live with him as his home was located close to the school. This arrangement also provided company for Ella’s maiden aunt Margaret who lived with them and kept house for her grandfather.

Now that she was living in such close proximity to the schoolhouse Ella was able to at tend school regularly. Apart from her academic schooling, Ella was also exposed to a sound religious education as her grandfather and her maiden Aunt Margaret always went to church every Sunday. Ella’s aunt Margaret was a very disciplined person and in part this was the way that the devil got to the young girl in church. There were occasions when Ella felt like giggling in church, however, you never giggled when you were sit ting beside Aunt Margaret.

Unfortunately the Devil invented a game and put it in Ella’s imagination: the game was called “Spin the Marshall”. You see, Marshall Robison (1824- 1897) and his wife Mary (Herbert) Robison (1834-1915) were stalwart church goers and always at tended the Sunday service at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church with their entire flock of thirteen children in tow. It was understand able that this very large family would arrive at church at the last minute: when the rest of the congregation had already been seated.

The doors would suddenly fling open and the Robison family, led by Marshall, would ceremoniously parade down the aisle to their reserved front row pews on the north side of the church. Standing by the pew Marshall would usher his entire family into their preassigned positions as efficiently as any parade marshall. When they had been appropriately and solemnly seated he would then turn to the pews behind him and “count-the-house”. While doing this he would slowly re move his muffler.

Mr. Robison wore a muffler both in the winter to keep out the cold, as well as in the summer, to keep out the dust. A muffler was a very, very long scarf and was a useful piece of clothing in that it could be wrapped snugly around the neck several times and then tucked in thus keeping the wearer comfortable in all seasons.

Time-after-time young Ella observed Mr. Robison’s performance at church and her thoughts invariably turned to an earlier time in her life when she had seen a top. In order to set the toy spinning you would wrap a length of twine several times around the spindle and then holding the top of the top under a light thumb pressure you quickly pulled the twine and the top went spinning across the floor.

What the Devil pictured for Ella was that someday she would jump out of her seat, run up the aisle, firmly grasp Marshall’s muffler, give it a quick jerk and send the Marshall spinning across the floor.

Source: Rev. Bill Randall’s “From The Scrapbook

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