DRAFT: this text is in good condition but is earmarked for further proofing.

Black Spider

The Journey tae Edinbury

Betty, an Edwardian wumman in shawl an hat stauns at a rail station ticket booth windae. She

Betty cautiously approaches booking office - "Third cless ticket tae Edinbury, ma man."

Booking Clerk: "Return or single!"

"Return, of coorse, I'm only gaun tae spend a day or twae wi' ma dauchter; she's mairrit tae the manager in Maister - Maister - ! Odd, I aye forget his name."

Booking Clerk: "3s 9 1/2 please."

"He's a rale dacent, canny chap, ma guidson, an' his maister thinks the world o' him, an' he's awfu' guid tae ma dauchter -"

Booking Clerk: "3s 9 1/2d."

"An' weel he micht, ma certy, for she's a clever yin; there's few like her. She's -"

Booking Clerk: "3s 9 1/2d if you want this ticket."

"Of coorse I maun hae the ticket; they wad hae me at the coort if I traivelled withoot yin. It's no' that lang syne ma ain canny man had a fine racket aboot his ticket whan he was in seein' them; he had puttin't where he couldna lay his fingers on't; men hae aye that mony pooches. Weel, onywey, they were gaun tae lock him up an' I dinna ken a' what, when -"

Booking Clerk: "Come away with your money, you are detaining other people."

"Oh, that's a peety; hoo muckle did ye say it was?"

Booking Clerk: "3s 9 1/2d."

"It's a heap o' siller, but John 'il likely pay ma fare when I get there. He's a rale kind-hearted -"

Booking Clerk: "For Heaven's sake put down your money."

"Is that half-a-croon?"

Booking Clerk: "No; it's a two shilling piece."

"Eh! are ye share. I thocht it was a half-croon; ma sicht's no sae gleg as it yince was, but I'm gettin' auld. I mind whan there wasna sic a thing as a train, lang an' mony a year afore you was born, ma man; an' if ye live tae be ma age ye'll maybe be mair ceevil wi' an auld body, when -"

Booking Clerk: "I want 1s 9 1/2d."

"Oh, aye, there's anither half-croon -"

Booking Clerk: "Two shilling piece only - 3s 9 1/2d and 1/2d, 3s 10d; and 2d is 4s. Thank you."

"That's the only ceevil remark ye've made, but ye're a smert coonter. Aye, but there wasna muckle edication in ma young days - where do I get ma train?"

Booking Clerk: "No. 2 platform."

"Where will that be, I wonder! Oh here's a ceevil lookin' man. Hey, maister, where's the train for Edinbury?"

Ticket Examiner: "This is it; be sharp, it's just going."

"Dear me, ye dinna gie folk muckle time; a body has tae rin like a lamp lichter tae hae hauf a chance wi' ye."

Ticket Collector: "Seats for Edinburgh. Tickets ready. Your ticket, mum."

"What d'ye want wi' ma ticket, I've only jist bocht it."

Ticket Collector: "I only want to check it,"

"Diel a fear o' ye checkin' ma ticket; it's in ma purse, an' there it stops till ye dump me doon in Edinbury. My word, I'll no forget the bather John had an' the impidence he got. Na, na, ma man, ye'll no' get yer nippers on ma ticket, tak' ma word for't."

Ticket Collecter: "Don't be stupid, my good woman; according to the Company's rules all tickets must be examined before the train is allowed to depart -"

"I care nae a doo's e'e for you an' yer fine English or yer Company's rules. I've paid for ma ticket, an' when ye land me safe at Edinbury ye'll get yer ticket, but oot o' ma purse it doesna come till then. Catch me; I've seen ower mony summers, ma man, for you tae come Paddy ower me."

Ticket Collector: "Guard, this stupid old body refuses to show her ticket; your time is up, and you can explain at the collecting station why it isn't checked." Guard gives his signal and the train moves off.

To fellow passenger: "Stupid old body! Did you hear him? They're an impident set thae railway folk; they think they can just bustle us auld bodies aboot an' dae as they like; but, ma certy, they needna try their tricks on me. I've had ower mony fechts in the battle o' life tae aloo they whipper snappers tae practise ony slight o' hand tricks on onything belangin' tae me."

"Pardon me, madam, but I think your suspicion of any dishonest intention on the part of the railway officials is quite unwarranted. They are merely executing their duties in compliance with the rules laid down by the Railway Company."

"Man, ye micht jist say that ower again, wull ye? If I could only get a grip o' a sentence like that I could fairly stagger ma auld freends when I get back. They wad think I had been at the College. My certy, but ye're a droll yin. Are ye yin o' thae members o' Parliment or what. Sometimes I get a bit squint at the bawbee weekly paper an' I often see langwadge o' that kind used by thae bits o' bodies in what they ca' the Hoose o' Commons, but the "Common" folk in oor quarter aye stick tae the mither tongue an' everything that's Scotch."

"Including Scotch whisky, I presume?"

"Deed aye, sir; an' can ye tell me onything tae bait it. An', if ye'll forgie me sayin' what I think, ye'll ken something aboot it, be the colour o' yer neb."

"Really, now, that's a very unkind retort. I need hardly assure you on the contrary, the slight discolouration of my nasal organ is due entirely to indigestion, to which, unfortunately, I have long been a perfect martyr."

"Slight discolouration! D'ye ken what Burns said - Slight discolouration! It's lucky for you ma man, that ye've never had a right look at it; it wad make a danger signal for a threshin' mill; an' what's yer fancy name for't again! Indigestion! By the piper that skirled tae King Dauvit, but I'll no' forget that yin in a hurry. When I gang hame tae ma ain countryside I'll set the cat amang the pigeons in the 'indigestion brigade,' an' there's ony number o' 'martyrs' yonder, a' decorated wi' the same varnish; aye, aye. Indigestion! Well, it bates a'."

"Madam, I fail, entirely, to perceive any valid reason for your excessive hilarity and extraordinary insinuations, but where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise. A generous nature enables me to treat with absolute indifference and feelings of sorrow, rather than anger, your reference to my personal appearance. This being my destination I wish you good-day and will leave you to your own meditations."

"Guid day, sir; guid day; but, man, ye micht jist scribble the fancy name on the back o' this auld envelope for fear it gangs oot o' ma heid. Ma memory's no sae guid noo as it used tae be, an' I wadna forget that yin for a shillin', an' as shair as daith I'll say nae mair aboot yer neb. Thank ye sir; thank ye. Now there's nae fear o' me forgettin't, an' if ye come oor wey jist ask onybody for Betty -, and I'll let ye taste a wee drap ten year auld strecht frae the distillery, untaendoon; the like o't ye'll no' get everyday, an' it'll dae ye nae mair herm than a gless o' new milk. Guid day, sir; guid day. Mind an' gie us a ca' if ye come oor wey.

"Odd, he's a rale respectable lookin' body, but, loch me, sic a nose as I never saw, an' aye drap, drappin'; it's maybe what they ca' a 'scarlet runner.' I've heard the name mony a time, but never saw yin afore."

"I wonder hoo far we're off Edinbury! What's station's this? Portobelly. It canna be far noo. I hae often heard ma dauchter speakin' aboot walkin' tae Portobelly tae gie the bairns a dook in the sea an' a ride on the donkeys on the sands in the summer time. My word, bairns are weel off nooadays -"

Ticket Collector: "Tickets, please."

"Ma ticket's for Edinbury."

"We collect them here."

"Weel, ma man, ye'll no get ma ticket till I land in Edinbury."

"Excuse me, mum, but I must have your ticket. You are detaining the train, and the matter will be reported."

"Ye needna blame me for keepin' yer train, but I mean tae keep ma ticket till I feenish ma journey, an' that's an' end o't."

Inspector: "Jump in and accompany this party to Edinburgh; take her name and address, and I will report the matter." Train departs.

Ticket Collector: "Now, you know, you might was well have saved me this bother by giving up your ticket like other people."

"It's nane o' ma business tae study your convenience, ma young freen'. When we reach Edinbury you'll get yer ticket, but no' till then."

"I will trouble you for your name and address, please."

"Deil a fear o' me gi'in' ye onything o' the kind. What next, I wad like tae ken. What d'ye take me for; d'ye think I'm in wi' a trip. Here's Edinbury. Now there's yer ticket, ma laddie; dae what ye like wi't, an' see if ye can be a wee bit mair ceevil wi' an auld body efter this. Here, porter, pit this portmanty intae a cab. Thank ye; there's tippence tae yersel', ma man."

"Where to, mum?"

"I'll tell the cabman masel', thank ye. D'ye think I want everybody tae ken where I'm gaun. Ye micht tell that chisel nebbit deevil o' a ticket collector, wha's still watchin' me like a thief, altho' he's got his ticket. Drive me tae the fit o' the Mound, cabby. I can get a car frae there tae Leezie's door an' cheat them a'."

When I landed Leezie was dumfoondered, as she telt me in a letter tae take a cab, bit when she heard my story she said it was a diplomatic move, whatever that means. Leezie's gettin' gey uppish an' genteel since she cam' tae Edinbury; she's no' like the same lassie ava. When I spoke tae her aboot it she said, "When you are in Rome you must do as teh Romans do." Now, the only kind o' doos I ever heard o' are common hoose doos an' cushey doos. There'll be Roman doos tae, likely, but I ken naething aboot them.

But, as I wis sayin', John wad expec' me hame a wheen days syne, but Leezie an' her man wadna let me gang withoot seein' the sichts, an' the best o'd I forget the biggest hauf o' them. Of coorse, she took me tae the pantomime amang ither places, an' I liket the pantomime best. There was a lot o' grand singin' an' dancin', but I think they micht hae been nane the waur o' a wheen mair claes on some o' the lassies!

What a queer caracter yon Mark Sheridan is. I "marked" his name doon on the back o' the auld envelope aside the "Indigestion," only for fear I forgot it, but when I come to think o't it's maybe no sae far oot o' place! I mentioned it to Leezie, but she lauched an' said his nose was only pented yon colour tae make folk lauch. Weel, says I, if a cherry blossom like that's a' they need tae gaur them lauch they should come roond oor wey; they'll get plenty lauchin' withoot gaun tae a theatre, an' his claes an' umbrella was a perfec' disgrace. I wudna gi'e thrippence for dish cloots for a' he had on, wi' the umbrella thrawn in. He jist reminded me o' yin o' thae gaun aboot bodies that come roond oor pairt cadgin' rabbit skins an' rags frae the bairns for a wee bit toffee, but a' the same he was a rale clever, droll cratur; odd, sic funny faces he made an' sic droll sayin's he had.

I was fair taen up wi' him, he made me lauch till the tears o' mirth fair ran doon ma cheeks, an' I couldna get ma lauch oot, for Leezie aye gied ma airm a poo an' whuspered in ma lug no' tae lauch sae lood; the folk wad think me vulgar, an' if I couldna control masel' she was have to leave the theatre. I didna think I was daein' ony herm, an' as a shair as daith I couldna help it, he was that komikal. If they had asked me tae sign ma daith warrant I cudna hae dain't for lauchin'. When he said he was gaun tae Chatsworth wi' his moty car tae see his freen' the Duke an' the car stuck an' started shootin' like yin o' thae gattlin' guns I've heard o', an' he got oot the family Bible tae fin' oot what wis wrang wi't an' helpit himsel' tae some o' the nose pent oot o' the lamp, I nearly exploded. Leezie wis sae disgusted she nearly tore the sleeve oot o' ma spleet new jacket, an' afore I kent where I was she had me oot o' the theatre an' intae a car an' hauf wey up Leith Street afore I gethered ma senses. I wanted her tae take me back tae see him again anither nicht, sae that I micht invite him tae gie us a ca; if ever he comes oor wey, but she fair lost her temper an' declared I'll no be asked or alloo'd tae come tae Edinbury again. But if I hear tell o' yon body comin' back again an' I can get John tae stump up the money I'll be in tae see him an' no' let her ken. A lauch like yon does a body guid, an' adds years tae an auld body's life.