Rough Scan








 
      JEEMS A BACHELOR
      I‘M a bachelor enoo, BAILIE. Let 
        me explain mysel’; Betty’s doon the watter. In my young days it wis a 
        vera weel-tae-dae bodie could manage tae get a fortnicht in a room and 
        kitchen at the Lairgs or Millport. Noo, bless ye! the vera puirest maun 
        hae their month—aye, a hale month, and whiles twa—in a cottage. The women 
        are the principal getters up o’ this, as they are the principal
      benefiters; 
        and ye ken, BAILIE, when a woman wants onything ye may as weel gie in 
        first as last, for ye hae tae gie in some time; I’ve learned that, sae 
        I meekly gie in, and mak’ up my mind for a month’s cheerlessness and solitude, 
        sitting unseen and unsympathised wi’ at my empty kitchen fire.
      Aye as May comes roon I hae tae begin 
        and read the advertisements o’ coast and country hooses tae let. The column 
        begins wi’ "A" :—" Arran,—Three rooms wi’ nine beds tae 
        let at Corrie. Apply tae Dugald Mackenzie, ferryman, Pirnmill"; then 
        on tae mair aristocratic places— "Kilcreggan.—Neat villa, wi’ the 
        use o’ a boat and the run o’ the garden, near the pier"; and me on.
      I tried Arran ance. The landlady o’ the 
        hoose retired for the fortnicht tae a shakedoon in the hen-hoose, and 
        we took possession. Providence has wisely ordained it’s a place for stopping 
        at in summer time, when ye can be oot a’ day; for I min’ the twa rooms 
        were sae wee that when we wanted tae get oot we had tae shove the table 
        oot afore us, as we couldna get roond it; and when I wis shaving in the 
        morning I had tae open the skylicht and shove my heid up through the window—an 
        I’m no a vera big man; but it was maybe an extra wee hoose.
      This year we’re at Millport—that is, the 
        family are. I am aye at the auld address except frae Saturday at 2 o’clock 
        till Monday morning at 10: but it’s a wearisome business tae middle-aged 
        men like me, wha ken the comforts o’ a hoose o’ their ain; tho’ I suppose 
        I’m just like thoosan’s o’ ithers at the present minute. Whiles I think 
        I wid hae made a gran’ martyr; I bear up sae nobly in the face o’ troubles 
        and anxieties combined—one time I’m troubled trying tae blacken my boots 
        wi’ the blacklead, an’ then for onything I ken my bairns hae been coupit 
        frae a wee boat and are being fished oot o’ the water wi’ a hay fork, 
        while Betty is only saved frae a watery grave by her crinoline keeping 
        her afloat till they hae time tae turn their attention tae her—but I bear 
        up, and, making the toddy a wee stronger, I say to mysel’ "I maun 
        jist put up wi’t."
      One day’s experience is as guid as twenty, 
        as they are a’ much alike. Last Thursday, after a hard day’s work, I went 
        tae bed, end fell into a fine sleep. I slept an’ slept an’ dreamed—I dreamt 
        Betty an’ me an' the bairns were oot in a wee boat; Ii wis oaring awa’ 
        at the neb o’ the boat, an’ Betty wis in the hin’ en’ o’t, while the bairns 
        were hereawa, thereawa, some in the neb, some at the helm. As we were 
        paidlin’ aboot, a pelican or a porpoise or something whummeled ower the 
        boat, end we were sent intae the water; I jumped up on a rock and grippit 
        Betty by the oxter and roared oot for assistance. Jist then I heard the 
        thud o’ a steamer’s paddles in the distance an’ I gied a’ up for lost, 
        an’ wi' an unearthly squeel I wakened tae find I wis in bed, an' Miss 
        M’Fee in the hoose below dauding up wi’ the poker, dootless thinking I 
        wis being murdered in my ain hoose. After getting my breath I jumped up 
        an' set aboot getting breakfast. I discovered there were nae spunks, so 
        putting my nichtcap intae the next door, I got the len’ o’ twa or three, 
        an’ cam’ back tae my fire; getting it a’ nicely built up—paper first, 
        sticks crosswise abin, next a nice layer o’ roond cinders, then a wheen 
        sme’ coal, a’ crooned wi’ a fine layer o’ big bits. I got doon on my knees 
        an’ struck the match against the wa’, but feint a licht; anither strike 
        an’—"Paugh, it’s damp," I said as I threw it awa’, an’ tried
      anither, but wi’ nae better success. I scraped awa’ till I nearly skinned 
        my fingers, but not a licht. I cam’ tae my last match. Pu’ing doon my
      nichtcap, an’ pursing my lips, I made my calculations carefully, an’ picking 
        a nice rough bit o’ the wa’, I began—gently at first, but aye getting 
        the firmer, an’—knocked the hale match tae pieces. "Confoond it," 
        I says, ‘1’ll bate a penny thae’s the patent safety matches that’ll strike 
        nae place but on the box—blame them!" An’ sae it wis; I had tae go 
        in next door again an borrow box an’ a’, Mrs Pinkerton apologising for 
        the mistake.
      Back I comes an’ got the fire set aga’ing, 
        an’ then got the tablecloth laid, an’ a wee bit smoked ham looked
      oot, 
        an’ the frying pan in order, an’ then retired tae dress while the fire 
        wis ken’lin’ up. In ten minutes I cam’ ben, shaved, an’ dressed wi’ a 
        fine big stauning-up collar that nearly sawed my ears aff; but what wis 
        ma grief tae find the fire—black oot. As the paper wis a’ burned, I had 
        tae get on my knees, tak’ it a’ oot, an’ begin ower again, shoving in 
        a bit coal, an’ then gieing my collar a pull up, so ye can easily jalouse 
        by the time the fire wis lichted the collar wisna vera white. Syne wi’ 
        blawing up the fire, as I couldna get the bellowses, I got sich a taste 
        o’ cinders an’ sulphur in my mooth as wid have alarmed even Dauvit Macrae 
        himsel’. Next I had nae milk, an’ jist as I had poored oot my tea, an’ 
        ta’en up the frying pan, I discovered that I hadna a clean plate in the
      hoose, so it wis a case o’ either pooring the tea back intae the teapot 
        till I washed a plate, or letting it get cauld. I did neither, but I turned 
        the plate upside doon, an’ then dished the ham on the bottom o’t.
      Breakfast ower, I awa’ tae my business, 
        got my dinner in the Cooking Depott, an’ then, buying the five 
        o’clock edition o’ my evening paper, back tae my lonely, an’ for the time 
        being desolate, hearth—an’ it wis desolate. Being summer, there 
        wis nae use lichting a fire, and a fire’s aye cheery. I tried tae heat 
        some water for my toddy ower the gas, but it was wearisome wark, first 
        stauning on ae fit, and then on the tither, like a hen on a het girdle; 
        and even when a’ wis done, the water wis smoky tasted; and although I 
        put a wee drap mair spirits in, I didna enjoy it at a’.
      Then I tried tae mak’ the bed, but it 
        wis an awfu’ job. I never could get the blankets tae lie square. I either 
        flung them richt tae the back o’ the bed, and had tae jump in tae draw 
        them oot, or else I pulled pillows an’ a’ oot on the floor; and then when 
        a’ wis dune, the bed wis fu’ o’ hichts an’ hows an’ humplucks, sae that 
        nae mortal bodie could lie easy in’t.
      But I needna weary ye—your readers a’ 
        hae a notion of this same sort o’ work in summer.
      And then the rinning tae catch’ the train 
        on the Saturdays, and then the fleeing doon tae the boat, as if she wid 
        gie awa’ withoot us, and the smoke wi' yer heid in at the engine-room 
        door tae shelter frae the win’. Then the race tae catch the boat on Monday 
        mornin', an’ then tae fin’ the first boat sailing awa’ oot jist as ye 
        arrive; and the polisman wi’ a sweet smile on his face tellin’ ye the 
        boats aye start five minutes earlier on Monday mornin’s-the vera mornin' 
        they should gie ye five minutes mair; an’ then tae come back and find 
        ye’ve left the water rinning in the kitchen for three days, and the folk 
        below flooded, and talking aboot an action o’ damages; and then-BAILIE, 
        I wish oor month wis up.