Rough Scan








 
      A CONVERSAZIONE
      DEAR BAILIE,—We held an annual 
        conversazione in the kitchen o’ oor Stra’bungo residence on Hogmanay. 
        As it wis getting late, Betty says, "Bairns, ye had better awa’ tae 
        yer beds. Jeems, ye usually address a few words o’ advice on the last 
        day o’ the year; jist say awa’ an’ we’ll a’ be quiet. Whist,
      bairns, an’ 
        pay attention; noo, Jeems!"
      "Bairns," says I, "this is the 
        last time your auld father’ll see you "—
      "This year, ye mean," says Betty.
      "Ay, ay, of course—I wis jist comin’ 
        tae that—this year, bairns. When ye wauken to-morrow the knell will have 
        struck"—
      "Wha struck ye wi’ a mell, Mr Kaye?" 
        says Mr Meiklejohn—he’s a mason, an’ a wee deaf,
      "The knell, Mr Meiklejohn, the knell—there’s 
        naebody speaking aboot mells—the knell will have struck, an’ ye’ll a’ 
        be ushered intae—intae"—
      "Oblivion," suggested Mr M’Cunn.
      "No, that’s no’ the word," says 
        I; "intae—intae—huch, never mind—to-morrow we’ll turn ower a new 
        leaf, an’ we’ll a’ be a year aulder—a source o’ rejoicin’ tae you young
      anes, but, alas, alas!"—
      "What are ye saying aboot lasses?" 
        says Betty.
      "Tut, tut! it wis poetry; ye’ve put 
        it a’ oot my heid noo. I wis going tae gie ye a few words o’ advice: Aye 
        be contented an’ thankfu’ for your privileges, for they are mony. Born 
        in the maist enlightened country in the world—the land o’ Wallace, an’ 
        Bruce, an’ John Knox, an' Burns—ye hae naething tae be ashamed o’. While 
        being thankfu’ for your privileges, never be envious, an’ be wishing for 
        things ye hae nae need for. I’ll tell ye a story aboot that. A travelling 
        menagerie once visited Kilbarchan; the collection, though sma’, had one 
        vera big elephant. Trade wis bad, an’ the show wis seized by a sheriff-officer 
        for debt. Tae raise money the proprietor raffled the elephant at sixpence 
        a ticket, an’ a Kilbarchan weaver wis the fortunate winner; so he put 
        a string roon its neck an’ led it awa’ behind him quite prood. When he 
        got hame he couldna get a hoose tae pit it in; it couldna go intae the
      washing-hoose or the coal cellar, or ony ither place, so as he didna ken 
        what tae dae wi’t, he jist took it doon the Kilma’colm road an’ wandered 
        it. This wis an instance o’ a man getting what he had nae need for.
      Noo, bairns, there’ll be nae purridge the morn; so, Betty, gie them a bit shortbreid 
        tae eat in below the claes, an’ let them rin awe.
      The bairns were in bed, an’ we were a’ 
        sitting roond the fire wi’ oor noses nearly meeting, an’ the gas screwed 
        doon tae mak us mair cosy like, an’ Mr Pinkerton was telling us a ghost 
        story—
      "Weel, ye see the ghost says tae my grandfather"—
      Here a terribul smash o’ crystal made 
        us a’ jump an’ look roon; a’ the glesses an’ decanters, an’ the plates 
        wi’ the finnan haddies, were lying on the floor. Being the owner o’ the 
        glesses I wis speechless; but the rest no’ being affectit in their pockets, 
        could speak bravely.
      "Spiritualism," says Mr Meiklejohn.
      "I doot it’s dynamite," says 
        Mr M’Cunn.
      "Or an earthquake," says Mr 
        Pinkerton.
      "Jist some freak o’ nature," 
        says I, as we gathered up the fragments; "it’s nonsense tae try tae 
        accoont for everything in this worl’. I believe some o’ ye tramped on 
        the en’ o’ the tablecloth an’ drew it doon. Gang on wi’ yer story, Mr 
        Pinkerton."
      "Weel, as I wis saying, the ghost 
        said tae my grandfather"—
      Crash went the glesses again, an’ a fearfu’, 
        piercin’ cry wis heard; in fac’, the folk abin tell’t me the next day 
        they thocht I had murdered some o’ my weans. We a’ jumped up and held 
        on by the backs o’ oor chairs, when tae oor consternation, a ghost stood 
        in the middle o’ the floor. It had on a white nightgoon, an’ nae troosers 
        that I could see, an’ its face wis jist the colour o’ the electric
      licht. 
        It walked slowly ower tae me, an’ gaed me a clap on the back an’ says, 
        "Aha! my auld cockalorum."
      "Gracious guidness," says Mr M'Cunn, 
        "I never heard the like o’ this."
      "It bates a’," says I, "ca’in 
        me—an elder—an auld cockalorum."
      The ladies were fentin’ one by one, an’ 
        Mr Pinkerton got the decanter an’ began to pour water on them.
      "Tak’ care that’s no the wrong ane 
        ye hae got," says I.
      "Aha!" says the ghost, making 
        a dash at the decanter.
      This made them a’ rin in below the table, 
        or up on the dresser, while Mr Pinkerton got intae the press amang the 
        pots an’ goblets, an’ brandishing a frying-pan he declared he wid brain 
        the first body cam’ near him.
      Then jist, I suppose, by way o’ imitatin’ 
        him, oor auld black cat jumped up on the shelf, an’ flew aboot, knockin’ 
        doon ashets an’ sugar bowls at sich a rate that it roused my bluid, an’ 
        I made a dash at the ghost, but I tripped up an’ fell headlong. For the 
        meenit a’ the breath seemed oot o’ my body; I’m stoot, as ye ken,
      BAILIE, 
        an’ a tummel’s nae better then it’s ca’ad at the best o’ times—far less 
        on a Hogmanay nicht!
      "There’s anither ane fented," 
        I heard Mr M’Cunn say, as I lay prostrate. I thocht tae mysel’, I’m no 
        ane o’ yer fentin’ kin’; fechtin’s mair in my heid the noo than fentin’.
      As I cried, "I’ll get tae the bottom 
        o’ a’ this," I seized a smoothing-iron aff the mantelpiece an’ made 
        a rin at the ghost, when it gaed a lood craw like a peacock, an’ grippit 
        me by the shoother an’ tore aff its nicht-shirt! Noo, wha wis this but 
        a young sailor lad—a mate nae less—mate o’ the "Queen o’ the Seas," 
        or the "Queen o’ the Shaws," or something like that. We a’ emerged 
        frae oor hiding-places; an’ efter I had got my breath an’ a gless o’ toddy, 
        I took him tae task gey strongly; but as he promised tae buy a new set 
        o’ cheenie, an’ tak’ us a’ tae the pantomime the next nicht, I didna say 
        ower much. Ye see, BAILIE, he whiles brings me a stick o’ thick tobacco, 
        an’ Betty wis telling me she thocht he wis efter oor Jennet, so as son-in-laws 
        are no sae easy got a haud o’ noo-a-days, I thocht it best tae let on 
        it wisna a bad joke; only I warned him never tae ca’ me "an auld 
        cockalorum" again.