MR TAWPIE RECITES
"Never heed The Airts the Win' can blaw," broke in Mr Beekie. "Gie us a bit recitation; ye're a gran' recitater, an' we'll tak Ma Name is Noarval on the Gramipan Hulls, or On London whan the Sun was Low, or jist yer pleshur."
"That wid be a nice variety an' verra welcome, I'm shair," remarked Mrs Goudie, and in this opinion the majority appeared to agree.
"Onything that's been rinnin' through ma heed," said Mr Tawpie, "is as auld's the hills, bit seein' we've been enjoyin' the loafs an' fishes, so tae speak, o' this woarl's passin' show it's every yin's duty tae dae his bit tae ile the wheels, so tae speak, o' the social faebric. I wid even go sae faur as tae say that it's a man's poasitive duty tae mak a doonricht fule o' himsel at an ode time if it's tae be for the benefit or the pleeshur o' his fellow-moartals; but of coorse that's only the opeenion o' a coammon Pairish Cooncillor, although I say't masel as shouldnae say't."
"Weel spoken!" ejaculated Mr Blane; "bit ca' yer girr an' get on wi' the story; the nicht's wearin' on an' there'll be nae word o' this in the moarnin'."
"Aweel," said Mr Tawpie, "A'll try whit I can mind o' The Minister's Cat, bit I whiles forget the tail end o't."
"Ye'll manage fine," remarked Mrs Goudie, amidst a general murmur of approval from the ladies and some stamping of feet and clapping of hands by the men.
"Doad, bit I've lost the threeds o't," confessed the Parish Councillor.
"Try a peppermint," suggested Mrs Blane. "It'll maybe bring it up."
"Tak a drink o' watter," said Mrs Goudie. "It wid clear yer heed a wee."
"Chap his back," suggested Mrs Beekie, who had an extensive experience in the rearing of a camsteerie family.
"Never heed, ye dune yer best," remarked Mr Blane, who was a kindly man, although something of a Job's comforter.
"Dae ye no' think it's aboot time we wis thinkin' o' daunerin' doon the road, wife?" said Mr Tawpie, gracefully backing out of an awkward position. "It'll shin be the moarn's moarnin', so maybe ye'd be better tae be gettin' on yer bonnet."
"I'm ready noo," replied Mrs Tawpie, who appeared to be in anything but a good humour.
"Toots, havers, noansense!" said Mrs Goudie. "The nicht's bit young yet, an' we're no' richt startit. I think it's Mr Beekie's turn for a sang," says Mrs Goudie. "Gie us Young Roger the Miller that coorted of late. It's a gran' sang for auld lads an' lassies at a pairty."
"Dear me!" says Mister Beekie, "ye're takin' me back tae auld lang syne. Young Roger the Miller was a sang that auld Wullie Yill, the precentor in the High Kirk o' Glesca', used tae sing in the time o' ma granfaither. But here it is, if I could only sing it as auld granfaither sang it:
"The Scots millers, although they're no' a' alike, hae oaften been blamed for being a wee bit grippy," says Mr Blane. "Whit wi' their dooble mooters, and their whiles forgettin' whether they had mootored at a', there wisna muckle tae come back tae the puir fermer, whan a' was done, but a pickle hauf-tim pokes. An' dae ye no' mind the auld saw:
So Young Roger was a fair sample o' the lave. But that wis a guid yin for Katie-'a-coortin' ma faither's grey mare,' says she; no sae bad, no sae bad."
"Noo, Mrs Blane, ye'll gie us wan o' the auld favourites, efter sic a fine sample frae the men-folk."
"I'm no' a singer," says Mrs Blane, "an' it's bit a timmer vice that's left tae me noo, bit I'll dae ma best wi' the lave. Ye've a' heard it hunners o' times before, bit here it's agane. We shouldnae forget the auld Scots sangs.
Mrs Blane sang with much expression and sympathy, her thin piping notes full of tenderness and a kind of suppressed emotion finding eager and appreciative listeners. And when the singer had finished, and the last notes had passed into the silence, nobody spoke. Was it the music or the words that had struck home so irresistibly and had recalled memories of thoughtless youth and of the many ups and downs of succeeding years, the trials and the joys of living, the love of friends and "the sangs ma faither loved to hear, the sangs ma mither sung"?
"And noo, Mistress Goudie," says Mrs Smeddum, "efter sich a pleesant nicht, everybody sae hamely and sich bonnie singin', and sae much kindness frae you and Mr Goudie, and a' the rest o' the freens here, it wad jist tak awa much o' the pleeshure tae sit ony later. So I think we should jist be gettin' on oor haps an' toadlin' awa hame."
"Aweel, aweel, if ye maun gang," says Mrs Goudie. "'A wilfu' man maun hae his wey, and wha will tae Cupar maun tae Cupar.' But ye'll tak some aumonds and some raisins, and twa-three aipples for the bits o' weans, an' haste ye back again, and 'we'll meet again some ither nicht for the days o' auld Lang syne.' So, guid nicht tae ye a', and don't be tumlin' the wulcat on the stairs."