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Black Spider

The Forth Brig

But I maun tell ye aboot oor trip tae the Forth Brig the next day. We got on tae a coach wi' fower bonny horses. Leezie ca'd it a Sherrybang, an' be guid luck I got a sait aside the driver, and he crackit an' jokit a' the road an' telt me a' aboot the places o' interest as we gaed alang. It was rale enjoyable, an' when we got tae Cramond he pood up his horses an' a lot o' the men jumpit doon.

"Is this the Forth Brig," says I.

"No, no," says he; "we stop here only a few minutes to give the horses a drink, that's all."

But when he got on tae his box again an' I got a waft o' his braith I sune fund oot what gi'ein' the horses a drink means. Men hae sic cunnin' weys wi' them. No that I care, but if they wad jist ca' a spade a spade an' be dune wi't, but they're nearly a' the same. They talk aboot women's frailty, but, ma sang, a lot o' them hae little room tae speak.

Weel, we landed a' richt at Queensferry an' saw the wonderfu' brig; the driver telt me it's the maist enormous engineerin' feat in the world, an' it micht easy be that, for a' I ken; it's far ayont onything I've ever seen. There was a train rinnin' ower jist as we landed, an' I thocht, mercy, what if it was tae gang doon, an' I fair shook wi' fricht at the thocht o't, but they tell me sich a thing's hardly possible. A' the same the man's no born yet that wad tempt Betty tae cross yon brig. Leezie wanted me tae gang oot wi' a wee steamer tae get a richt look at it, but I daurna for ma life gang on tae the water ever sin' I got sic a fricht in a wee boat when I was a lassie. Twa young lads took anither lassie an' mysel' oot in a boat on the loch at hame tae show us in their wey o't hoo they could skull, as they ca'd it. Yin o' them catched a "crab," the ither yin catched haud o' me, the boat went heels ower heid, an' we were a' splatterin' in the the water like a lot o' frichtened wild duicks. Luckily the water wasna deep enouch tae take us ower the heid, an' we a' managed tae scramble oot, but my word, nae mair sea-farin' for me.

We got a fine denner at Queensferry an' waited till the sherrybang was ready tae start. A peppery wee body tried tae collar the sait aside the driver, but the dirver telt him the sait was mine, an' the mean body wad hardly shift till the driver thraitened tae throw him off the coach. I wanted tae hae a dab at him, but Leezie wadna let me, an' maybe it was better, but, my certy, he deserved a guid drubbin'.

There was nae stoppin' tae gie the "horses a drink" on the hamegaun, an' efter a maist enjoyable day we were jist stannin' waitin' for a car at the fit o' the Mound when up comes a muckle polisman. I think he was a foreigner.

"What wad she'll do standin' there blockin' up the pavement," says he, "take yourselves away out o' that or she'll have ta come to the office whatever."

"Come away, mother."

"What's the maitter wi' the man, Leezie," says I, but Leezie had walked away when he spoke, an' she was wavin' for me to follow her. Deil a fit, says I tae masel', I'm no' the wuman tae be insulted wi' a muckle blue bottle like that.

"I daursay ye'll think ye're a smert kind o' a birkie," says I, "interferin' wi' a respectable woman wha's only waitin' for a car?"

"She'll have to walk up an' down when she's standin' waitin' for a car in a public thoroughfare, an' she'll not be allowed to give back answers to a member of the force moreover."

The crood that had gathered tae see what was wrang bursted oot lauchin', an' his face turned as red as a boiled lobster, an' Leezie, wi' a face jist aboot as red, gied me a tug by the airm an' dragged me away tae the car afore I had time tae get anither dicht at him, or I'd hae gi'en him polis office, I can ashare ye.

"What wey did ye rin away, Leezie," says I, when we got intae the car, "an' leave me tae be insulted by the muckle vagabond. I micht hae been lockit up an' guid kens what for a' ye seemed tae care."

"Weel, mother," says she, "the policeman was only doing his duty, and it would never do for me to be seen holding an altercation with an officer of the police force in the public street, You ought to have followed me and taken no notice of his remarks, seeing that we were committing an offence."

"Committin' an offence," says I; "they're shairly hard up for an offence if they ca' that yin. The like o' that I never heared. I'm vexed that the neb had got broken off ma keelyvine or I'd hae marked his number on the back o' the auld envelope, but I think I'll ken him again by his feet, an' someday when I'm oot masel', if I come accross him, he'll rue the day he insulted me, or ma name's no' Betty, but I'll no' stand next time. I'll walk alangside o' him till I tell him what I think o' him. My faith will I, an' I hope he'll be pleased wi' his character."

"Well, mother, you had better take my advice; think no more of the matter. You upset yourself over small trifles, and especially when you are at fault; it's very foolish. We shall be home in a few minutes, and after a nice cup of tea you will feel in a different mood."

Weel, wad ye believe it, the very mention o' the word tea had soothin' effect and changed the whole aspeck o' affairs. No that I mean tae let him off. Na, na; when I say a thing it maun be dune, whatever happens, but if the tea's extra guid he may get off a wee bit lichter.

Speakin' o' tea, I'm gled Joe Chamberlain's no' gaun tae make it ony dearer when he changes the fickle policy, an' if he can make it ony cheaper he will get the blessin's o' a' the auld folk in oor pairt. Bein' a wuman body, I ken naething aboot politicks, but sometimes I hear John an' some o' the neebours crackin' aboot Joe Chamberlain's policy, an' John sticks up for't through thick an' thin. He says we're jist a lot o' donnert idiots playin' second fiddle an' the big drum tae the foreigners, but I ken naething aboot it, as I was sayin', an' I daursay it'll no make muckle odds tae me, seein' I've warsled through the best pairt o' ma life. Some o' them's been makin' an awfu' sang aboot the big loaf an' the wee loaf, but it has nae terrors for us country folk, as we bake a' oor ain breed.

Weel, Leezie was as guid as her word; she made a cup o' rale fine tea, an' Jeanie, her dauchter, was gi'ein' a pairty tae her young freends, an' it wis rale lichtsome tae see the wey they enjoyed theirsel's dancin' an' playin' forfeits an' a heap o' ither games that I kenned naething aboot, an' tae see the wey they kissed yin anither every time there was a forfeit! There was a kind o' kissin' match a' roond, an' they werena the least bashfu', kissin' yin another afore folk; it fair took ma braith away. There was naethin o' that sort in ma young days, but I was rale gled tae see them a' sae happy.

The Penny Laddie was there, of coorse, an' sic a swell; I didna ken him till I asked Leezie, seein' him payin' sae muckle attention tae Jeanie, then the bit laddie blushed tae the roots o' his hair when he saw me lookin' at him. Fine he wad ken me, but I just gied him a bit smile an' said naething, an' he looked rale pleased.

The pairty broke up at twelve o'clock. Leezie wanted me tae gang tae bed at nine o'clock as we dae in the country, but I waited till the feenish an' didna feel the least tired, the fun was sae guid.