The Story o a Pier
Jist efter we got hame and had oor tea the bell rang, an' a Maister Sandy McNab, an auld freen' o' John's a' the wey frae Helensburgh, was "ushered" in - I think that's what it's ca'd, but it has naething tae dae wi' the "Usher Hall." Weel, he was a rale droll, cracky cratur; he keepit us lauchin' a' the time he was in the hoose. I was vexed when the body had tae leave for his train. He telt John a story aboot "Wee Jamie an' Lang Wullie," baith weel kenned worthies belangin' tae Helensburgh, an' right weel John kent them baith, but tae make a lang story short here's the story itsel' as far as I can mind it :-
Scene - Craigendoran Pier.
Characters - Wee Jamie and Lang Wullie.
Heavy gale blowing; water turbulent; Jamie and Wullie sevent-eighths under the influence.
Story as told by Jamie.
Man, Sandy, I had an awfu' experience last nicht.
Indeed, Jamie, what was up last night?
Weel, Sandy, ye see, Wullie and me met that big chap that travels for the Leith whusky folk ower in Tam's shop there, an' Tam, it seems, gied him an order for a barrel o' whusky, an', of coorse, he ca'd in a roond for the bar. It would appear this is a common practice wi' thae chaps when they get an order, or think there's a chance o' gettin' yin. At ony rate, roond after roond cam' in quick succession, an' the fun grew fast and furious. In fac', it wasna lang ere the hale establishment began to go roond. Then suddenly Tam says, "Noo, Mr M'Whusky, it's aboot time ye were awa' if ye want tae catch the boat tae Garelochhead."
"Richt ye are," says our freend, "I'll jist stand my hand again an' then I'm off."
"Deil anither drap," says Tam, "there's two or three can hardly stand on their feet."
Feelin' offended wi' Tam's remarks, I says, "Come on, Wullie, after the chap's kindness, we'll see him on tae the boat."
An' this is where the funny thing happened, Sandy! Man, it makes me shake frae heid tae fit when I think o't. We were just shakin' hands ower the side o' the boat an' sayin' guid nichts, an' wishin' him mony a guid New Year, when away went the pier an' left the boat standin'. I wis dumfoondert. "Wullie," says I, "this is an awfu' job."
"What's that, Jamie?"
"Can ye no see," says I, "the pier's awa' to Garelochhead instead o' the steamer. Preserve us a', what's tae become o' my wife an' bairns noo?"
But Wullie was quite oblivious to ma remarks, and he never seemed to realise the gravity o' the situation till he heard me say we wad be shipwrecked as sure as guns. Faith! that remark seemed to be ower strong for the whusky. His e'en seemed tae start oot o' his heid about half an inch.
"Ring the skipper's bell," says he, "an' get the chap doon below tae reverse the engines, an' let's back tae bonnie Craigen-
"Ma word, I want naething adae wi' the chap doon below," says I; "an' as for ringin' a bell, there's no even a bell tae ring for a bit gill tae strengthen the nerve in the trying circumstances."
Ye talk aboot Robinson Crusoe, or a life on the Ocean Wave, they dinna ken they're born. We couldna even find a bit rope tae lash oorsels tae the masts, or what remained o' them, for they seemed tae be a' broken aff about twa feet frae the deck, wi' the ragin storm. Hoo lang this gaed on, Sandy, I canna tell, but as if by magic the water settled doon tae rest for the nicht.
"Hullo!" says Wullie, "we're landed, Jamie."
"Waste nae time in gettin' ashore, then," says I; and we managed tae get ashore no sae bad. But oor troubles werena ower yet, at least speaking for masel. What cam' ower Wullie I've yet tae learn. Ye see, it was in ma heid that the pier had landed at Garelochhead, an' it's a guid lang walk, as ye ken, Sandy; and feelin' a bit hungry I slips into a wee shop awfu' like ma ain for twa pies, yin for Wullie and yin for masel, when tae my astonishment a woman appears the very image o' my wife, and wi' a look that wad hae frozen Australian mutton. Afore I had time tae mention ma extensive demands, she yells at the pitch o' her "delicate, sweet, melodious" voice, "What the mischief does this mean?" It fairly took ma braith away, an' hers tae, if appearances coont for onything. I thought she was gaun tae drap on the flare wi' fair passion.
"What's wra - wrang wi' ye, ma bonnie wuman?" says I, when I recovered ma braith.
"Dinna ca' me yer bonnie wuman, ye drucken ne'er-dae-weel. Whatever made me marry a thing like you I canna tell?"
"Weel," says I (ma monkey gettin' up), "Mrs, I'll no attempt tae help ye tae solve the mystery, but I wad just ask ye tae bear in mind that although ye may be married tae what ye ca' a thing like me, I hae as bonnie a wuman as you waitin' tae receive me wi' open airms, an' if you are no pleased wi' yer bit mannie, ye needna pit oot yer vile temper on me. If ye'll be guid enough tae gie me twa pies I'll be off oot o' yer sicht; an' wi' your permission, I wad leave the door open ahint me tae let some fresh air in tae purify the atmosphere, an' I'll send ye up a sheet o' sandpaper wi' the post the morn tae gie the rough corners o' yer temper a guid rub."
"Polis! Bigamist! Pies if they wid 'pieson' ye!" was a' that I remember, in addition tae seein' about fifty thoosin' stars a' at yince; an' it was only this mornin' that I was able tae convince masel that it was ma ain canna wife that I had been addressing a' the time. Hech, man, it's awfu'!"
"What cam' ower Wullie," dae ye say? Puir soul, he hadna been sae drunk as me, an' when he saw me gaun intae ma ain hoose, fine he kenned it was domino for me gettin' oot again, an' as weel he kenned the danger o' bein' seen in ma company be ma "angelic" wife, so I expec' he made a bee line for hame. He stops wi' his mother, and when he gangs hame seven-eighths on the sky, the puir auld body daurna say cheep. Ma word, he should hae yin like mine tae deal wi'. When she reads the Riot Act, there's trade for the crockery makers. But I maunna tell tales oot o' schule. Next time that chiel comes here sellin' his Scotch whusky, I'll tak' care he doesnae turn me into a walkin' advertisement. In fac', if it wisna' for wishing ma freens "guid health" in a kind o' respectable fashion, I believe I would join the teetotal. But I'll bid ye guid mornin', Sandy. Mind an' tell naebody what I've telt ye; but if ye meet Wullie, just ask him if he kens the difference between an apple an' a "pier", an' if his e'en begin tae come oot, rin for yer life.