A SAIR PREDICAMENT IT’S allooed, BAILIE, that in the hale toon o’ Saltcoats there’s no a minister like oors for naturalness and vivid description. He’s jist perfec’ly gran’. Ye wid think everything wis happening that he’s speaking aboot. When he waxes eloquent, an’ thumps the desk, an’ throws his arms aboot, an’ jumps frae ae side o’ the pulpit tae the ither, there’s no’ an auld wife in the hale kirk but is in raptures. The very precentor, instead o’ sleepin’, as maist o’ them dae, turns roon and looks up entranced wi’ the imagery, while the boys stop cutting their names oot on the bookboards, put their knives back in their pouches, an’ sit the vera picture o devout attention. Oor minister, hooever, is allooed tae be at his best when he appeals tae the feelin’s. I’ve seen when he tell’t us aboot hoo gratefu’ the puir heathen were tae us for sending oot missionaries, an’ hoo much they enjoyed cold missionary wi’ tomato sauce when they had a pic-nic, he drew tears tae every eye, and made us a’ dooble oor collection and put in tippence. He is bound tae dae a power o’ guid tae his hearers, is oor minister. Speaking for mysel’, I maistly aye fa’ asleep, for I ken he’s perfectly orthodox, an’ there’s nae need for me tae be watching him the way I dae when we hae a young ane preaching. In fac’, I jist hear the text an’ see him started — see him gie his goon a pu’ thegither an’ draw doon his cuffs — an’ then I fold my arms and fa’ ower. Last Sawbath he preached aboot the Flood, starting wi’ the building o’ the ark. When I heard this I let him an’ the rest coont up amang them hoo many cubics the ark wis lang, an’ hoo mony broad, an’ aboot hoo mony in circumference, an’ a’ things. Ye see, even though he had been wrang twa-three feet, it widna be worth contradicting him, an’ I lay back an’ fell ower as peacefully as a wee babbie. Weel, it seems that efter he got the ark built tae his satisfaction he began tae tell them aboot the rain, an’ he wis sae natural, an’ imitated the doonfa’ o’ the rain sae weel, that Betty, wha’s getting a wee absent-minded at times, forgot a’ aboot where she wis an’ put up her umbrella, an’ she sat ablow it, smiling awa’ quite content that no’ a drap wis fa’ing on her. The looder he rained the closer she held doon the umbrella, while I slumbered peacefully, little thinking that my wife wis making a spectacle o’ hersel’ in this way. Burns says, “Where ignorance is bliss ‘tis folly to be wise," so I slept an’ dreamed. Noo, oor sate is, as I tell’t ye before, in the front o’ the laft, an’ as we had a full muster o’ the bairns that day, it wis gey crooded, an’ I had put my hat up on the front, an’ Betty turning roon tae rebuke some o’ the weans, ane o’ the spikes o’ her umbrella grippit up my hat an’ sent it fleein’ awa’ doon on the tap o’ Mr Carmichael’s roon, bald heid, wi’ a great crack. Noo, ye’ll no’ hinder Mr Carmichael tae hae been asleep tae, bit he waukened up in a great fricht an’ rubbit his heid, an‘ looked a’ roon tae learn whaur he wis, till he saw the hat lying on his knees. Then he picked it up an’ looked at it a wee till he noticed my name stamped on the inside o’t. Weel, ye see, him an’ me are at daggers drawn, for he keeps the opposition coal ree, an’ tries tae undersell me; so when he saw whase hat it wis his face got quite red, an’ he cried oot— “Oh! ho! it wis you wis’t that wis trying tae disgrace me,” for he thocht that I had seen him asleep, an’ had flung my hat doon at him tae draw attention to his condition. So he rises up, an’ taking a guid aim at me, he flings the hat back, an’ jist as I wis waukenin’ up, an’ asking ane o’ the weans what saum it wis, I got it fair on my face. On the spur o’ the moment, an’ without thinking onything aboot it, or whase hat it wis, I grippit ‘it an’ threw it doon at I him again, an’ cried oot— “Ye sacreligious aul’ scoonrel, what d’ye mean by flinging yer hat at me?" By this time the kirk wis in a commotion, an’ a’ the bairns were quite in a state o’ delight, for it wisna often they got sich an entertainment. The minister wiped his broo, the precentor let on he wis looking up a new tune, an’ I don’t know hoo it wid hae a’ ended, if it hadna been that Betty fented, so I had tae turn my attention frae hat throwing an’ oxter her oot intae the session-house. Then the beadle cam’ in an’ explained it wis ma hat that we had been throwing aboot a’ the time. I wis quite dumbfoonered, BAILIE, I can tell ye, an’ indeed it wis an awfu’ humiliating position for an elder tae be in. It’s best, hooever, to put a stoot hert tae a stey brey; so tae smooth matters a bit I invited the minister tae a tea-party on Tuesday, an’ I got him to say nae mair aboot the maitter, particularly as it wisna me that began’t.