Rough Scan
 

 

 

 



 
        
       
        JEEMS LEAVES FOR EGYPT
        Egypt, September.
         
         
        I‘M here noo,
        BAILIE, so that at once accounts for my long silence, and puts an’ en’ 
          for ever tae the rumours aboot me haeing failed and ran aff tae America.  I wid hae written before, but I could hardly 
          get a minute awa’ frae Sir Garnet, explaining this tae him an’ advising 
          him aboot that.
        Hooever, tae 
          begin at the beginning.  When 
          this war broke oot, an’ you asked me tae go oot as your special correspondent, 
          so that you could be upsides wi’ the rest o’ the papers, I hesitated 
          a wee.  It wis sich an extr’ornary change o’ life for 
          me, ye see, that I must alloo I wis dubious o’ my fitness for the post.  
          When I wis considering ower the matter wi Betty, doon comes a 
          telegram to Maryhill tae see if they could recommend ony elderly, trustworthy, 
          an’ intelligent man tae go oot and keep an e’e on the Heelan’men, a 
          volunteer frae the Heelan’ regiment preferred, an’, if possible, ane 
          wha wis an officer wi’ some wecht an’ influence; an’ at a meeting o’ 
          the cornels o’ the volunteers I wis very near unanimously selected, 
          and I wis sent for tae Maryhill, an’ the post offered me.  When I consulted oor minister aboot it he said:  “It wid be a fine jaunt, forbye the twa pays 
          going on, an’ the honour — he only wished they wid mak’ him a chaplain, 
          tae go oot tae preach tae the black folk — an’ I should go.”  So I made up my mind, an’ a wheen o’ the neebors gathered ae nicht 
          tae wish me a safe voyage and a speedy return.  A bonnie nicht we had.
        The minister, 
          wha wis the kin’ o’ chairman, aye got intae the way o’ rattlin’ his 
          toddy laidle in his tumbler when onybody got up tae mak’ a speech, an’ 
          auld Mr Pettigrew, that sat next him, no being vera weel acquant wi’ 
          the usages o’ polite society, thocht that lie wis rattling tae let us 
          see his tumbler wis empty, so aye as the minister gaed a bit rattle 
          Mr Pettigrew took the bottle an’ filled up his tumbler, but the minister, 
          being earnest in keeping order, never once noticed it.
        Mr Pinkerton 
          rose in the course o’ the evenin’ an’ said: - 
        “Ladies an’ 
          gentlemen, it seems tae me as if Stra’bungo is being lifted up frae 
          the dust an’ put on a vera exalted pinnacle indeed, an’ a’ through oor
        freen, Mr Kaye.  As I look roon 
          on the weel-kent faces I see here the nicht, although I may see honesty 
          an’ intelligence in every one, it is only in freen’s, Mr Kaye-no’ coonting 
          the minister, of course—that I see onything abin the common.  
          I see in Mr Kaye a member o’ the Skuil Brod, an officer in the 
          Heelan’ regiment-a corporal, but still an officer—an’ an elder
        forbye.  A’ these qualities are combined in the body 
          o’ one man, an’ that body no’ vera big; but, as if they werena enough, 
          a new honour is noo tae be added tae oor freen; he’s tae be special 
          correspondent o’ the BAILIE, forbye being private secretary, if I’m 
          no’ mista’en, tae Sir Garnet Wolseley.  
          Yes, Mr Kaye, as I’m staunin’ behin’ my coonter weeing oot the 
          quarter a puns o’ smoked ham, or serving an auld wife wi’ a forpit o’
        taties, I’ll be thinkin’ o’ you awa’ oot in Egypt maybe riding aboot 
          on an elephant, wi’ a’ the black folk ‘salaaming‘ tae ye, an’ asking 
          ye tae tell them a’ aboot Stra’bungo, Crossmyloof, an’ the surrounding 
          district, an’ I only hope that when ye are oot there dining on the leg 
          o’ a crocodile an’ drinkin’ champagne, ye’ll no forget your auld freens 
          in Stra’bungo, working awa’ in their ain quiet way, an’ supping their 
          humble bowl o’ parritch.  Man, 
          Mr Kaye, if ye could only get the black folk tae try the parritch it 
          wid be daeing them a rale guid turn, for they tell me that oot there 
          they eat nothing but rice an’ yams — I suppose that’s the Italian for 
          hams, although whether they are the smoked hams at sixteenpence, or 
          only the common beef hams, I’m no sure.  At the thocht o’ my auld freen being separated 
          frae me by thoosan’s o’ miles o’ trackless sandy desert, my heart gets 
          full an’ my utterance choked — so I’ll sit doon, an’ maybe the minister’ll 
          gie a few words.”
        Then the minister 
          got up.  “Mr Kaye, I wish ye 
          a’ good speed.  Ye are going 
          oot tae an inhospitable land; as ye penetrate further up the country, 
          possibly ye may find the natives withoot troosers, but be not discouraged; 
          push on, you know the pen is mightier than the sword; so wi’ yer pen 
          in one hand and a copy o’ the BAILIE in the ither, push on, I say, an’ 
          carry the blessings o’ civilisation wherever you go, an’ so end this 
          war at once an’ for ever.  Ladies and gentlemen, withoot further preface I give you the toast 
          of the evening, ‘Correspondent an’ Private Secretary Kaye!’”
        After a lull 
          I says:  “Ladies an’ gentlemen, 
          this is a most affecting nicht for me.  
          When I think o’ leein’ Betty an’ the bairns for sich a lang time 
          it mak’s me sad; but duty calls me tae the front — only, between you 
          an’ me, if there’s much fechting ga’in on I’ll keep as faur frae the 
          front as I can.  An uncle o’ mine wha wis mony years in the army wis telling me that, 
          being a wee man, the safest place for me wid be tae creep awa’ in the 
          middle an’ keep my heid doon, advice I intend tae follow, for being 
          oot there in a civilian capacity, there’s nae occasion for me rinnin’ 
          ony risks.
        “I daursay whiles 
          when I am riding about in state on the elephant Mr Pinkerton was talking 
          about, my mind’s eye will wander awa’ frae a’ thae pomps and vanities, 
          an’ carry me back tae the coal ree, where I’ll see Dauvit, the
        laddie, 
          wha’ll hae full chairge when I’m awa’, gieing faur ower guid
        wecht, 
          an’ likely shutting up an ‘oor before the time.  
          But, gentlemen, when the sacred call o’ duty comes, am I tae 
          be deterred by a paltry hunnerwecht or twa o’ coals?  
          Never!  [Great cheers; 
          the minister empties a’ that’s left in the bottle intae his tumbler, 
          an’ Mr M’Cunn tramps on the cat.]  Gentlemen, 
          there’s a time when the heart gets too full tae speak, so I’ll jist 
          say that if, when I’m sitting behin’ a dyke writing oot despatehes for 
          the BAILIE, ane o’ thae black folk catches me an’ carries me awa’ tae 
          endless captivity in the Pyramids, ye’ll no’ forget my wife an’ family.”  [Great cheers.]
        A wee after 
          this we broke up, an’ next day I packed my bag.  It is said o’ Lord Clyde that he packed his bag an’ was aff in an 
          ‘oor.  Great minds are much alike.  I packed mine an’ was aff in 25 minutes.  
          After an affecting leave-taking wi’ Betty and the bairns, I grippit 
          my umbrella an’ started amid the “hurrahs” an’ nepkin-waving o’ the 
          hale population o’ Stra’bungo.  My first stage wis Stra’bungo tae Jamaica Street 
          by caur—tippence—an’ wis comfortable enough, as I’m accustomed tae travelling 
          that way; then tae Portsmouth; then tae Alexandria.  This last wis the worst pairt o’ the journey.  
          I never wis as faur in my life afore, an’ I earnestly hope I’ll 
          never be as faur again.  I’ll pass ower my voyage — it’s jist the same 
          as ye can read in ony book — “The noble vessel rising majestically over 
          the waves, an’ them mountains high, threatening to engulph her at every 
          bound; the timbers creaking and straining, and the wind through the 
          rigging; the courteous and able captain, the beau 
          ideal of what a sailor ought to be, with his spy-glass under his 
          arm an’ his sou’-wester on his head, never in his bed for nights and 
          days, and who assured us it was the worst voyage ever he made, and he 
          had been all his life at sea.“  This 
          is a bit copied out anither paper jist tae relieve ain dull description.  I’ll no’ speak o’ my bein’ sick, for it seemed tae me aboot a month; 
          an’ the bed I got tae sleep in, the size o’ a soap box, an’ me, every 
          time I put up my heid getting a clour on’t that nearly knocked my brains
        oot.  Oh! how I lay there an’ 
          groaned, an’ wished I wis hack again in my ain auld French bed in Stra’bungo.  The chiel next me wasna sae bad as me, an’ 
          whiles he would sit up an’ sing, “Oh! why left I my hame, why did I 
          cross the deep?” an’ then I would put out my nichtcap an’ say tae him, 
          “Ay, why ye, or me either, for that pairt o’t?”