Rough Scan
 






 
       
        V
         
        MISTRESS MIKAVER’S TEA PARTY.
         
        I’LL 
          swag, mind ye, but the men’s no’ far wrang when they say that weemin 
          have most dreedfu’ lang tongues.  Dod, 
          mind ye, but it’s ower troo; it’s ower troo!
        Mistress 
          Mikaver wud hae me alang to a cup o’ tea lest Teysday efternune; so 
          I gae my hands an’ face a bit dicht, an’ threw on my Sabbath goon, an’ 
          awa’ I gaed.  I fell in wi’ Mistress Kenawee on the road, 
          an’, gin we landit, there was a gaitherin’ o’ wives like what you wudda 
          seen ony mornin’ at the Mossy Wall afore the noo water supply was brocht 
          in aboot the toon.
        Mysie 
          Meldrum was there wi’ a braw noo print frock on.  Haud your tongue!  Five bawbees 
          the yaird!  I saw the very marrows 
          o’t in Hantin the draper’s remmindar winda.  But, faigs, Mysie was prood o’t, an’ nae mistak.  It was made i’ the first o’ fashion, a’ drawn 
          i’ the briest, an’ shuders as big’s smokit hams, wi’ Mysie’s bit facie 
          lookin’ oot atween them, like’s she was sittin’ in an auld-fashioned 
          easy-chair.  But, of coorse, 
          I never bather my heid aboot what wey fowk’s dressed.
        Mistress 
          Moilison was juist as assorted as uswal.  
          She’d as muckle on as wudda dressed twa or three folk, an’ she 
          was ill-cled at that.
        “What’ll 
          hae come o’ her seal jeckit?” says Mistress Kenawee to me, wi’ a nudge, 
          when we gaed ben the hoose to get oor things aff; but I said naething, 
          for, the fac’ o’ the maitter is, I thocht Mistress Kenawee a fell sicht 
          hersel’.  There was a great target o’ black braid hingin’ 
          frae the tail o’ her goon, an’ the back seam o’ her body was riven in 
          twa-three places.  An’ if the 
          truth be tell’d, I wasna very braw mysel’.  
          Thinks I to mysel’, as I’ve heard the Gairner’s wife say, them 
          that hae riven breeks had better keep their seats.
        Gairner 
          Winton’s wife was there, lookin’ as happy an’ impident as uswal; an’ 
          Ribekka Steein cam’ in juist as me an’ Mistress Kenawee were gettin’ 
          set doon amon’ the rest.  Mistress 
          Mikaver was quite my leddy, an’ was rinnin’ frae the teen to the tither 
          o’s juist terriple anxious to mak’s a’ at hame, an’ makin’s a’
        meesirable.  I windered that the cratur didna gae heidlang ower some o’ the stules 
          she had sittin’ aboot; but she got through wi’ a’ her fairlies an’ the 
          tea maskit withoot ony mishap, an’ we got a’ set roond the table for 
          oor tea.
        Mistress 
          Mikaver had oot her mither’s cheenie, an’ a braw tablecloth, o’ her 
          mither’s ain spinnin’ she tell’d’s.  
          She has an awfu’ hoosefu’ o’ stech, Mistress Mikaver; press efter 
          press, an’ kist efter kist fu’.  I 
          ashure you, the lass that gets young Alek ‘ill no want for providin’.
        She 
          had a’thing in fine order; it was a perfeck treat to sit doon; an’ I 
          noticed a braw noo pentin’ o’ the scone-baker hung abune the
        chumla.  He maun hae left a fell feck o’ bawbees, for 
          I ashure ye his weeda has a fu’ hoose, an’ aye plenty to do wi’.
        Weel-a-weel, 
          we had oor tea, as I was tellin’ ye, an’ a fine cup it was.  Eh, it’s a nice thing a cup o’ fresh tea.  
          There’s naething I like better; it’s that refreshin’, especially 
          if you’ve somebody to crack till when you’re at it.  
          An’, I’ll swag, we didna weary for want o’ crackin’ that
        efternune.  
          The Gairner’ s wife an’ Mysie Meldrum are twa awfu’ tagues for 
          tongue; an’ some o’ the rest o’s werena far to the hent, I’m dootin’.
        “Noo, 
          juist see an’ mak’ yersels a’ at hame,” said Mistress Mikaver, in her 
          uswal fizzy kind o’ wey.
        “An’, 
          as the auld sayin’ is, gin ye dinna like what’s set doon, juist tak’ 
          what ye brocht wi’ ye,” says Mistress Winton, an’ set’s a’ to the lauchin’.  You never heard sic a cratur for thae auld-farrant 
          sayin’s; an’ Mysie’s no’ far ahent.  Dod, they pappit ane anither wi’ proverbs juist like skule laddies 
          wi’ snawba’s.
        “There’s 
          Moses Certricht’s wife awa’ by there,” says Mistress Kenawee, pointin’ 
          oot at the winda.  “She’s a
        clorty, 
          weirdless-lookin’ cratur.  I’m 
          dootin’ Moses hasna muckle o’ a hame wi’ her, the gloidin’ tawpie ‘at 
          she is.”
        “Eh, 
          haud your tongue!“ said Mistress Mollison.  
        “The puir man’s juist fair hudden doon wi’ her, the lazy, weirdless 
          trail.  But it’s the bairns I’m 
          sorra for.  Ye’ll see them i’ 
          the mornin’ gaen awa’ berfit to the skule, an’ a seerip piece i’ their 
          hand, wi’ fient o’ hand or face o’ them washen, an’ their claes as greasy 
          as a cadger’s pooch.  It’s a winder to me ‘at Moses disna tak’ to 
          drink.”
        “He 
          has himsel’ to blame,” brook in the Gairner’s wife.  “She cam’ o’ an ill breed.  He 
          kent what she was afore he married her.  Ye canna mak’ a silk purse oot o’ a soo’s lug.  Eh, na!  Gin 
          ye want a guid sheaf, gang aye to a guid stook.”
        “You’re 
          richt there, Mistress Winton,” said Mysie.  
        “Tak’ a cat o’ your ain kind an’ it’ll no’ scart ye, my mither 
          used to say; an’ I’m shure I’ve seen that come true of’en, of’en.”
        “They 
          tell me,” said Mistress Kenawee, ”that Moses gie’s her seven-an’-twinty 
          shillin’s every week to keep her hoose wi’.  
          What she does wi’t it beats me to mak’ oot.  Mony a mither wud be gled o’ the half o’t i’ the noo, an’ wud feed 
          an’ cleed half a dizzen bairns on’t.”
        “But 
          Moses is a fooshinless, hingin’-aboot kind o’ a whaup,” says I.  “The blame’s mibby no’ a’ on ae side o’ the
        hoose.  There’s lots o’ your 
          braw billies ye wudna need to follow ower their ain doorstap.  When there’s din an’ dirt i’ the hoose, the 
          wife aye gets the dirdum.  Moses 
          has ower muckle to say aboot the wife.  
          She may be ill, but he’s no’ the pairty to saw’t like neep seed 
          ower a’ the countryside.”
        “You’re 
          richt there, Bawbie,” said Mistress Winton.  
        “I’ve tell’d Moses that till’s face afore the day.  They’re scarce o’ noos that tells their father 
          was hanged.”
        “He’s 
          an ill man that blackgairds his wife, altho’ she were the deevil’s sister,” 
          says Mysie, an’ even Ribekka gae her moo a dicht, an’ whispered to hersel’, 
          “Eh, aye, that’s a troo sayin’.”
        “I’ll 
          no’ say a wird again’ men,” said Mistress Mikaver, “for Wellum was a 
          guid man to me”; an’ she took a lang breth throo her nose, an’ lookit 
          up at the picture abune the chumla.  
        “I think I’ve seen Moses the waur o’ a dram; but he looks a quiet 
          eneuch stock,” says she.
        “He’s 
          some like my man,” I strak in.  “He’s 
          gey an’ of’en oot aboot when he shud be at hame.  There’s no’ muckle hertnin’ for a woman when she’s left to trauchle 
          day oot day in wi’ seven litlans, an’ a thrawn-gabbit footer o’ a man 
          juist comin’ in at diet times, rennyin’ aboot first ae thing an’ syne
        anither, threapin’ that his porritch is no’ half boiled, simmerin’ an’ 
          winterin’ aboot haen to wait a meenit or twa for his denner or his tea.  Moses Certricht’s a soor, nyattery bit body, 
          an’ he tarragats the wife most unmercifu’ aboot ilky little bit
        kyowowy.  She may be nae better than she’s ca’d.  She has nae throwpet wi’ her wark, an’ she’s 
          terriple weirdless wi’ her hoose; but she get’s michty little frae Moses 
          to mend her—that’s my opinion.”
        “Muckle 
          aboot ane, Bawbie, as the deil said to the cobbler,” says Mysie.  “I wudna say but you’re mibby richt
        eneuch.”
        “Dawtit 
          dochters mak’ daidlin’ wives,” said the Gairner’s wife.  “She was spoilt at hame, afore Moses saw her.  
          Her mither thocht there was nae lassies like hers, an’ I’m shure 
          she saired them hand an’ fit.  But you’ll of’en see’t, that wirkin’ mithers 
          mak’ feckless dochters.  At the 
          same time, as my mither used of’en to say, an ill shearer never got 
          a guid heuk, an’, I daursay, Moses an’ his wife, as uswally occurs, 
          baith blame ane anither.”
        We 
          feenisht oor tea, an’ got set doon at the winda wi’ ocr stockin’s an’ 
          oor seams, juist to hae a richt corrieneuchin, as Mistress Winton ca’d 
          it.  Mysie an’ me were baith at ribbit socks, so 
          we tried a stent wi’ ane anither.  But 
          Mysie’s tongue gaed fully fester than her wires, an’ I’d raither the 
          better o’ her.  She forgot a’ 
          aboot her intaks, an’ had her stockin’ leg a guid bit ower lang when 
          she cam’ to the tnot on her wirsit.
        “A 
          thochtless body’s aye thrang,” said the Gairner’s wife, as Mysie began 
          to tak’ doon what she’d wrocht.
        “Toot 
          ay,” said Mysie.  “Gin a budy 
          be gaen doon the brae, ilky ane ‘ill gie ye a gundy.”
        The 
          twa keepit at it wi’ their proverbs till I got akinda nervish, d’ye 
          ken.  They were that terriple wyze, that, as fac’s
        ocht, mind you, they near drave some o’ the rest o’s daft.
        “Did 
          you hear tell that Ribekka here was genna get Jeems Ethart?” said Mistress 
          Mollison to the Gairner’s wife, juist to get her on to Beek’s tap.
        Ribekka 
          blushed like a lsssie o’ fifteen, an’ bringin’ her tongue alang her 
          upper lip, she shook her heid an’ says, “Juist a lot o’ blethers.  Jeems wudna hae a puir thing like me.”
        “Ye 
          diana tell me!“ said Mistress Winton, never lattin’ wink she heard
        Ribekka.  
        “That’s the wey o’t is’t?  Imphm!  What 
          d’ye think o’ that, na?  Weel 
          dune, Ribekka.  He’s a fine coodie 
          man, Jeems; an’ he’ll tak’ care o’ Ribekka, the young taed.  Wha wudda thocht it?”
        Ribekka 
          had her moo half fu’ o’ the lace on her saitin apron, an’ was enjoyin’ 
          the raggin’ fine, altho’ she was terriple putten aboot, wi’ her wey 
          o’t.
        “Better 
          sit still than rise up an’ fa’,” said Mysie.  
        “Gin I were Ribekka I’d bide my leen.  
          I wud like to see the man that wud tak’ me oot o’ my present 
          state.”
        “He 
          wudna need to be very parteeklar,” says I, juist to gie Mysie a backca’; 
          for she was sailin’ gey near the wind, I thocht.  
        “When I was young,” I says, says I—
        “Auld 
          wives were aye gude maidens,” the Gairner’e wife strak in; an’ I saw 
          I was cornered, an’ said nae mair.
        “An’ 
          a weeda man too!“ said Mysie wi’ a grumph.
        “Better 
          keep the deil atower the door than drive him oot o’ the hoose.”
        “‘Saut,’ 
          quo the souter, when he ate the soo, an’ worried on the tail,” was the 
          Gairner’s wife’s comment; an’ Mysie didna like it, I can tell ye.
        “You 
          wasna in that wey o’ thinkin’ when Dossie Millar, the skulemester, used 
          to come an’ coort you, when you was up-by at the Provost’s,” said Ribekka 
          to Mysie.  “If it hadna been 
          for the lid o’ the water-barrel gien wey yon nicht, you michta been 
          skelpin’ Dossie’s bairns the day—an’ your ain too.”
        We 
          a’ took a hearty lauch at Ribekka’s ootburst.
        “Eh, 
          that was a pliskie,” said Mistress Kenawee.  
        “Dossie got a gey drookin’ that nicht.  
          They said it was ane o’ the coachmen that was efter Mysie that 
          sawed the lid half throo; an’ when Dossie climbed up to hae his crack 
          wi’ Mysie at the winda, in he gaed up to the lugs.  
          The story was that Mysie fair lost herr chance wi’ him, wi’ burstin’ 
          oot lauchin’ when he climbed oot o’ the barrel soakin’-dreepin’ throo 
          an’ throo.  He never got ower’t, for it got oot aboot, 
          an’ the very bairns at the skule began to ca’ him the Drookit
        Dominie.  He got a job at the Druckendub skule, an’ never 
          lookit Mysie’s airt again.”
        “You’re 
          grand crackers,” said Mysie.  “Ye 
          ken a hankle mair than ever happened; but, the man that cheats me ance, 
          shame fa’ him; gin he cheat me twice, shame fa’ me.  
          That’s my wey o’ lookin’ at things.”
        This 
          kind o’ raggin’ at ane anither gaed on for the feck o’ the
        forenicht, 
          an’ we were juist i’ the thick o’ a’ tirr-wirr aboot the best cure for 
          the kink-host, when the doonstairs door gaed clash to the wa’, an’ in 
          anither meenit in banged Sandy in his sark sleeves, an’ his hair fleein’ 
          like a bundle o’ ravelled threed.
        “Michty 
          tak’ care o’ me, Sandy,” says I, I says; “what’s happened?”
        “Aye 
          the mair the merrier, but the fewer they fess the better,” says Mistress 
          Winton.
        “Wha’s 
          been meddlin’ wi’ you, Sandy?”
        But 
          fient a wird cud Sandy get oot.  He 
          was stanin’ pechin’ like a podlie oot o’ the watter, an starin’ roond 
          him like a huntit dog.
        “Fiddlers’ 
          dogs and fleshers’ flees come to feasts unbidden,” said Mysie; but Sandy 
          gae her a glower that garred her steek her moo gey quick.
        “What 
          i’ the earth’s wrang, Sandy,” I says, gien him a shak’.
        “Wh-wh-whaur’s 
          the g-grund ceenimin, Bawbie?” says Sandy.  
        “There’s a tinkler wife needin’ a bawbee’s-wirth, an’ I’ve socht 
          the shop heich an’ laich for’t.”
        “Keep 
          me, Sandy,” says I, “is that what’s brocht you here?  You’ll get it in a mustard tin in the pepper drawer.  But wha’s i’ the shop?”
        “Oo, 
          juist the tinkler wife,” says Sandy.
        “Weel, 
          did you ever?” said Mistress Kenawee, haudin’ up her hands.
        “No!” 
          said Sandy, turnin’ to her gey ill-natured like.  “Did you?”
        “That’s 
          a type o’ what ye ca’ your men,” says Mysie.  
        “Weel, weel; they’re scarce o’ cloots that mend their hose wi’
        dockens.”
        “Bliss 
          my hert, Sandy, she’ll he awa’ wi’ the till afore ye get back,” I said.  “Rin awa’ yont as fest as your feet’ll cairry 
          ye.”
        “The 
          fient a fear o’ that,” Sandy strak in.  
        “I gae the pileeceman tippence to stand at the door till I cam’ 
          back.  I’m no’ juist so daft’s 
          a’ that, yet.”
        “An’ 
          the tinkler wife wants a bawbee’s wirth o’ grund ceenimin?” said the 
          Gairner’s wife.  “That fair cows 
          the cadger.”
        “I’ll 
          rin than,” said Sandy.  “I’ll 
          fa’ in wi’t a’ richt noo; ye needna hurry, Bawbie,” he added, as he 
          made his wey oot; an’ syne wi’ the door in’s hand, he says, “The pileeceman’s 
          in a hurry too, ye see.  He has 
          to hurl hame Gairner Winton.  He’s 
          lyin’ aiang in Famie Tabert’s public-hoose terniple foo”; an’ awa’ he 
          floo, takin’ the door to ahent him wi’ a blatter like thunder.
        If 
          you had seen Mistress Winton’s face!  
          It was a picture.  She 
          shogit her heid frae side to side, wi’ her moo shut, as if she wud never 
          open’t again, but efter a whilie she spat oot twa-three wirds, juist 
          like’s they’d been burnin’ the tongue o’ her.  
        “A dog’s tongue’s nae scandal,” she yattered oot.
        ‘Better 
          the end o’ a feast than the beginnin’ o’ a pley,” said Mysie.  “We mauna lat onybody get cankered.  Come awa’ and sit doon, Mistress Winton.  
          Bawbie’s man juist wantit a dab at ye.  
          Dinna mistak’ yersel’; the Gairner’s as sober’s a judge, I’se 
          warrant.”
        But 
          the crackin’ wudna tak’ the road somewey efter this.  There was a fell feck o’ hostin’, an’ ow-ayin’, an’ so on; so I 
          cam’ my wa’s hame afore aucht o’clock, for I was juist sittin’ on heckle-pins 
          thinkin’ ilka meenit Sandy wud be comin’ thrash in on’s, roarin’ he’d 
          set the parafin cask afeyre.  I 
          was gled when I got hame an’ fand a’thing in winderfu’ order; although 
          Sandy was gien Nathan coosies i’ the shop jumpin’ ower the coonter wi’ 
          ane o’ his hands in his pooch.  It’s juist his wey, the cratur.  He canna help it.
        “Was 
          the tinkler wife here when you cam’ bank?” I said to Sandy.
        “Oo, 
          ay,” says he.  “I gae her her 
          ceenimin.”
        “There 
          wudna be muckle profit oot o’ that transaction, efter deduckin’ the 
          pileeceman’s tippence,” I says, says I.  
        “Hoo did ye no’ juist say that the grund ceenimin was a’ dune?”
        “‘Cause 
          that wudda been a lee,” said Sandy.
        “Weel, 
          ye cud sen ye didna ken whaur it was,” says I.
        “That 
          wudda lookit ridic’lous, an’ me the mester o’ the shop,” said Sandy.
        “Weel, 
          but d’ye no’ see that it was ridic’lous to gie a pileeceman tippence 
          to watch a tinkler wife that wantit only a bawbee’s-wirth o’ grund ceenimin,” 
          I says gey sharp till him.
        “Better 
          gie the pileeceman tippence than tak’ the cratur afore the shirra for 
          stealin’, an’ mibby hae the toon peyin’ a lot o’ bawbees for keepin’ 
          her in the gyle, forby railroad tickets for her and twa peelars up to 
          Dundee.  That wudda been fully main gin tippence,” said 
          Sandy.
        Argeyin’ 
          wi’ Sandy’s juist like chasin’ a whitterit in a drystane dyke.  When ye think you have him at ae hole, he juist 
          pops throo anither.  Tach!  When he’s in thae argey-bargeyin’ strums o’ 
          his, I canna be bathered wi’ him!