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Black Spider

The West Wind

Next day Leezie said we wad jist hae a quiet day in the toon an' take a rin roond on the cars, but she made me promise no tae loose ma temper wi' onybody an' leave her tae dae a' the talkin', an', of coorse, seein' I had promised, she got a' her ain wey an' we had nae trouble. She understands the toon folk an' their funny weys far better than me. Auld folk's a' alike, I think; they get a wee bit short o' the temper. I'm no' ill-natured, but I dinna like tae be ta'en a len' o' or made a fule o'.

Weel, when we gaed oot aboot ten o'clock. Leezie says it's too cold yet to sit on the tops of the cars; we can take a quiet walk around a few places of interest until dinner time, and leave the cars till the afternoon. So she took me to the museum, the picture gallery, an' a lot o' interestin' places, an' we feenished up at the Carnegie Free Library. What a grand place, an' tae think that onybody can gang in an' make themsel's at hame an' read tae their heart's content a' for naething; it's wonderfu', an' my word it's weel patronised, as it should be.

When we cam' oot o' the Library Leezie telt me it was five minutes tae one, an' I made a bee line for the first railin' I got ma eye on, an' took a firm grip wi' baith hands.

Leezie looked fair dumbfoondert an' excited. "Dear me, mother, I hope you are not seriously ill. Do you feel faint? Perhaps we have walked too far. Why didn't you take a rest in the Library when I wanted you to?"

"Dinna excite yersel', Leezie," says I, "I'll be a' richt in a minute."

Betty is sittin on a muckle stane on Calton Hill, her baggie on her knee, Edinburgh Castle and Scott Monument faur ahint. A wee laddie in short breeks an a tam o

"Take a smell of this," says she, haudin' oot a wee silver scent bottle, but just wi' that, bang went the Castle gun.

"I'm a' richt noo, Leezie," says I, an' she look'd richt angry.

"Dear me, mother, you make me quite ashamed of your extraordinary movements. I really thought you were taken seriously ill."

"Dinna vex yersel', Leezie, my wumin; it was better for me tae hing on than drap doon like a pancake on the street an' ha'e a' the folk glowerin' an' lauchin'. Did ye no see the look o' sympathy on their faces! I dinna like tae be lauched at, no' if I can help it.

She was rale angry, an' hardly spoke anither word till we got hame. What she ca'd the indignity seemed tae be the sair point, but whatever that may be it had nae terrors for me, as lang as that man keeps blazin' away at the Castle wi' his gun an' there's a railin' or onything handy I'll hae a grip o't, dignity or no dignity.

Efter a guid denner we had oor turn on the cars an' saw maist o' the toon, an' she wadna aloo me tae pay a penny, so what it cost her I dinna ken, but yon's the best an' handiest wey tae see the "city," as she ca'd it.

We feenished up at the Waverley Market, where there was a magnificent flooer show, the grandest sicht I ever saw in ma life. They had everything, frae the blue bells o' Scotland tae the palms o' India, an' a fine brass band tae keep the folk cheery, an' they a' seemed awfu' pleased wi' the music, but the only thing I kenned was "God Save the King" at the feenish.

When we left the Market it was blowin' a perfec' hurricane, an' jist as we got tae the tap o' the steps, afore ye could say Jake Robison I was birrled roond like a peerie an' blawn richt intae the middle o' Princes Street as fast as ma auld legs could carry me, an' as near as a toucher run ower wi' a motty car. Had it no' been for the smertness o' the chefoneer I wad hae been a deid wuman, as shair as I'm livin', an' if I had been killed nae doot the gigglin' brats wad hae lauched. I wasna the only yin that got a dandy birrel intae the middle o' the street. Nearly everybody that cam' up the steps got the same dose, but some o' them, Leezie included, were mair fortunate. They got haud o' a rope held oot by twa bang polismen, as if they were havin' a tug o' war, but the funniest thing tae me was hoo they aye catched the bonniest lassies. They didna seem tae exert theirsel's tae nab me! My certy, but I got a queer fricht, an' ma claes were nearly blawn ower ma heid. I didna mind that sae much. Bein' an auld body, I thocht naebody wad pey ony attention, but did they no. There was a crood o' young whupper snappers stannin' on the ither side o' the street fair yellin' wi' delight. It seemed tae be the grandest fun for them tae see puir auld craturs rinnin' for a' they were worth tae save their life or gettin' their limbs broken. A puir auld body got her leg broken that verra nicht I'm speakin' aboot.

The chefoneer, kind man, helpit me ower tae Leezie, an' she was gled tae get a grip o' ma airm an' help me alang tae the fit o' the Mound, where we got a car hame, an' I wasna sorry, I can tell ye.

"Hoo did it happen that the wind was sae strong at the tap o' the Station steps, Leezie?" says I, when I got ma braith.

"I don't know, mother," says she, "but it's been the same, when the wid is blowing from the west, ever since the North British Hotel was built, but I had forgotten for the moment, otherwise we should have left the Market at the other end."

"Was it no like that afore it was built?" says I.

"Oh, no," says she, "there were none of these extraordinary scenes prior to the present hotel being built."

"Weel," says I, "in my opinion it's a doonricht shame that they should ha' been alooed tae build a great monster like that tae 'raise the wind.' Wind's bad enough when it gets a clear coorse, but when it's bottled up an' let louse a' at yince ye micht as weel be shot oot o' a cannon as get mixed up in it. My word, nae mair station steps for Betty, as lang as the wind's in the west, onyway."

There's been a great sang aboot them no' buildin' what they ca' the Usher Hall since I cam' tae Edinbury, but if there's gaun tae be onything o' the wind-raisin' tricks aboot it it shouldna be alooed. It's nae business o' mine, of coorse, but if I was a toon body I wad raise ma voice aboot as high as the west wind tae prevent it, or ma name's no' Betty.