Rough Scan
THE following biographical narrative was related to me by my old friend Robert Dow, or to give him the name by which he is more popularly known, Robbie Doo, in a series of fireside cracks, the interest­ing and pleasurable circumstances of which will not be readily effaced from my memory.
Some little time ago, during a short vacation spentin the "auld cauf countrie," I frequently came in contact with Robbie, and it was on reference being made by me to the late John Boyes, graduate of Edinburgh University, and pig dealer in Thornhill, that he, in the privacy of his wee back room, and with no other company save our pipes, drew aside the curtain and, in the beautiful native Doric, gave me these delightful glimpses of the auld lang syne of his eventful life.
In matters relating to the dear scenes and reminiscences, personal and otherwise, of my boyhood days I have, what Robbie would call, a "by ordinar" retentive memory. Association of ideas has been, to me, of the greatest possible service, and though the account of all that I heard is by no means verbatim, the gist of the matter is always present. and I have endeavoured to the best of my ability to retail these conversations with precision and as nearly as possible in the phraseology used by my worthy old friend. During the narration of the facts and events herein recorded it was Robbie's invariable custom when mentioning the name of any well-known local character to break off at a tangent and relate a story or stories illustrative of any particular trait.
As these interspersions were often very long-winded and outwith the subject on hand, I have in many cases curtailed and in others omitted them altogether; but in order to show how pointed and concise such illustrations were, I may be pardoned, I trust, for retailing the following: When the name of Dr. Mounsey cropped up for the first time in our crack, Robbie stopped for a moment and thoughtfully puffed at his pipe. "Aye," said he, "man, he was a queer body was the Doctor. He gaed stampin' aboot in clogs, and, simmer and winter, he had a foxskin bonnet on his heid and a checket plaid roon' his shooders. He was very methodical in a' his habits, and was rarely flustered or putten aboot. Nae maitter hoo serious the case was he was caa'd to, he, first o' a', on enterin' a seik-room, took oot his snuff mull, looked at his patient oot o' the tail o' his e'e as he tapped the lid, and efter takin' a guid lang nosefu', remarked, 'Juist so, noo. Imphm, an' what airt is the wun' blaain' the day?'
"I mind o' him aince bein' caa'd in to Peggy Hairstanes, that was Wullie Rodgerson's wife, ye ken, and dod, man, she was rael ill, or supposed she was, which is juist as bad. The Doctor had been lang eneuch in Thornhill to hae brocht her hame, and had been wi' her when a' her weans were born, so that they werena what yin wad caa' strangers to yin anither. Weel, efter speirin' ane or twa questions, and no' showin' muckle concern, he tell't her what to do and what to tak', and Peggy, thinkin' he was underratin' the seriousness o' her case, wailed frae the bed that she was awfu' ill arid that she was sure he didna understaun' her complaint.
"'Understaun' your complaint? Certie that's a guid yin,' an' he took anither snuff. 'Understaun' your complaint? Damn ye, Peggy, I ken ye as weel as I had been up through ye and doon through ye wi' a lichted caunnle.'"
Robbie laughed heartily in recounting this story, and naively remarked that "the X-Rays wad hae been nae use to a man o' Doctor Mounsey's stamp and penetration"
Readers whose perusal of this book may extend to the Conclusion will note that, standing with Bobbie on the Braid Burn brig, I was acquainted by him with the touching episode which took place there. So struck was I by the simple naturalness and by what I might call the dignified pathos of the narrative that, like Oliver Twist, I asked for more, and I lost no opportunity of encouraging Robbie to a more extended retrospect. Fortunately, I had time at my disposal. My frequent importunings were successful, and the result I now give to the public with pleasure and with Robbie's approval and acquiescence.
It may be these reminiscences will appeal to a very limited audience, and that by many the thread of the narrative will be considered too thin to endure the stress and strain of twelve long chapters.
I venture to trust, however, that popular interest will be such as will warrant the publication of these memoirs and prove an incentive to Robbie to give us in the near future his reflections and observations on local events of more modern times.