JEEMS AND THE CENSUS "I‘M ga’en tae tak’ the Census, Betty," I says on Monday. "Whase senses are ye ga’an tae tak’ noo, Jeems?" says Betty. "It’s a Government office, Betty! I’ll be a Government official! I suppose I’ll get a gold band and brass buttons like the custom-hoose officers." "What is’t a’ aboot, Jeems, and what are ye havering at?" "Woman, d’ye no mind o’ me telling ye a’ aboot it before: every noo and again—some say it’s every ten years, but I think it’s jist as it comes intae their heids—the Government tak’ a note o’ a’ the men, women, an’ children in every toon an’ village in the country, even in the uttermost pairts o’ the land—naebody left out. It’s supposed tae be wi’ a view o’ seein’ if the females are aye keeping mair numerous than the males, and forbye it gies a heep o’ wark tae the Registrar General—it’s frae that he mak’s up yon lists ye see noo and then in the papers—lists that I canna see ony guid in at a’. For instance, he says something like this—’In Stra’bungo there were 98 widows above 30 years of age, and 76 widows below 30; 86 widowers above 30, and 44 widowers below 30; 23 of the widows above 30 married 24 of the widowers below 30, while 54 of the widows below 30 married 45 of the widowers above 30; then it goes on to say that there were 195 children born—the greatest number in any one mouth being in January, and two-thirds of them were born on Sundays.’ Noo, it’s tae assist at getting up that that I’ve volunteered my services; there’s a guinea o’ pay, an’ in thae bad times that’s aye something—it’ll buy a guid few puns o’ that twashillin’ tea they’re a’ advertising, forbye taking us intae the sixpenny place o’ the circus, or a trip tae Millport on the Spring Holiday." But it’s no an agreeable job, BAILIE, yon, and noo that it’s ower I’m gled it’ll no be roun for 10 years. My district wis a gey mixy-maxy yin—some streets I got through fine, and ithers no sae weel. The first hoose I went tae I chappit at the door, and a voice says— "Wha’s there?" "It’s me." "And wha are you?" "I’m the census man, come tae tak’ your census!" The voice replied, "Then, my man, ye’d better gang awa’ hame, for we’ve nae senses here-we’re a’ decent folk, and jist ga'ing awa’ tae oor bed." Athough I kickit at the door they widna open, so I had tae write in three or four names in my sheet and then gang up the stair. The next door I went tae they thocht I wis a sheriff-officer, and the man said he would brain me wi’ the poker if I didna clear oot, so as the guinea widna gang faur towards mending a broken heid, I jist wrote in a name or twa again. Then I cam’ tae a decent auld widow, and as she couldna write I said I wid fill up the paper, so I says, as I wet my pencil— "Wha’s the heid o’ this hoose?" "Weel, it wis Sandy, bit he’s deed and gane," she says. "I’m afraid ye dinna un’erstaun me! Are ye marrit, single, or a bachelor?" "Marrit," she replies. "Has ye been vaccinated ?—let me see! no, that’s no yin o the questions. Hae ye ever—no, that’s wrang again; that’s yin o’ my elder’s visiting lists I’ve got—aye, here it’s noo—What’s your occupation?" "Naething." Naething! Oh, but I must hae something tae put doon! Suppose I say ‘washerwoman.’ And, noo, d’ye smoke, snuff, or drink? Speak oot boldly—naebody but mysel’ and the Registrar-General will ever ken your answer, but answer me correctly, for mind ye I’m armed wi’ a’ the powers this great nation possesses tae cross-examine ye till I mak’ ye quake before me." Here the puir body began tae greet, so I says, "Never mind, jist sit doon and I’ll fill up your list oot o’ my heid far better than you could tell me." And I did it. There wis one column bided "Condition as to Marriage." Noo, neither the auld body nor me could mak’ oot what that meant, but as it must be filled up I wrote in it, "She says she wis aye puir, but she’s harder up noo since she got marrit than ever she wis before." The next close I cam’ tae there wis nae gas on the stairs, and being a very cautious man, as befits my time o’ life, I didna think I wis called upon tae risk being garrotted, so I went intae a public hoose at the close mouth, an’ getting three bawbees worth o’ ale, I sat doon an’ filled up a dizzen or twa o’ papers as conscientiously as I could. Puir folk aye haeing big families, I gied the Registrar-General lots o’ bairns in the sheets—it looked natural like, and wid mak’ them think I had a heavy district. Indeed, if it hadna been that the cost wid owergang the guinea fee I wid hae gaen into every public hoose I cam’ tae an’ made the lists up—it wid hae saved an awfu’ lot o’ argle-bargling. In my next close wis an auld woman I knew, and she put doon her age as "65." On looking ower the sheet I says— "Hoot toot, Mrs Paterson, this is no nicht; ye’re surely mair than 65—in fac’ I ken ye are." In reply she says, "I daursay I am a year or twa mair; let me see the paper," and when I handed it ower tae her she took a pen and said, "I’ll be honest wi’ ye; I’m aboot three years aulder," and she added a "3" to the "65." I paid nae attention to it at the time, but this morning the Stra’bungo Registrar got a letter frae the Registrar-General saying, "that in the sheets of Mr Kaye he observed one lady down as 653 years old; from the careful way Mr Kaye’s sheets were made up he was sure it could not be a mistake, still the Strathbungo Registrar was to make enquiry, and, if found correct, the old lady was to be offered a free lodging in the British Museum, while Mr Kaye would be rewarded with the Victoria Cross for bringing to light this wonderful instance of longevity." I’m a wee afraid, BAILIE, that the mistake ‘ll be seen; but there’s one blessing, it wis nane o’ my doing—it wis done by hersel’ spontaneously, so I canna be blamed. But I needna weary ye, BAILEE—it’s a’ ower noo, and I’m waiting patiently for ‘my guinea. A’ things considered, I dinna think I’ll bother wi’t when it comes roon again.