Joe Corrie


WHEN my brither Wull is sober he's the best plooman in Gallowa', but when he haes a dram in him he's the best plooman in the hale warld. But he'd be even a better plooman if he haedna sic a quick temper. He's been on hauf the ferms in the 'Shire, an haes worked to the best o maisters ; an yin day he'd tell ye that he was settled for life noo, but the next mornin you'd hear that he haed flitted to some ither term. Puir Jeannie, she's haed a maist uncertain life mairried to him. The times she haes seen her wheen sticks put in a cairt, an the times she haes follaed the flittin', wi her weans clinging to her skirts, an whiles nae job to gae to, or a hoose to put her things in. It juist needed Wull to be in a bad tid, an his maister to say something to him that he didna like, an Wull wad juist send him, an his job, an his hoose yonder, an put on his jaikit.

Sae when wee Tam McFooter, wha is mairried to a sister o Jeannie's cam aff his motor bike the ither mornin an knocked impatiently on my door, I sensed that puir Jeannie was in difficulties again. An I was richt. Jeannie wanted to see me at yince, an Tam was to tak me to the ferm on the back o his motor bike.

Tam is yin o thae speed-hogs, an is as blinnd as a bat as weel, but I'll say naething aboot that journey meantime.

When I got into thc cot-hoose puir Jeannie was sittin on the fender greetin like to brak her hert. "What's happened noo, Jeannie ? " says I, sittin doon in Wull's chair at the fire. "Oh, the auld, auld story, Tam," says she, wi twa sabs an three sniffs, "he's left his job an we're flittin' again." "What happened?" "Dinna ask me, Tam, in fact I dinna think he kens himsel; juist that temper o his again. An me in the best hoose I've ever haed." Mair sabs an sniffs when she put the kettle on to mak me a cup o tea.

But what she haed sent for me for I dinna ken for he haes never yince listened to my common-sense. But the idea struck me that I micht dae something this time. In the past I have aye opposed him an telt him what I thocht o him, but mibbie it I agreed wi him it micht hae some effect. It could dae nae herm, onywey, but I said naething to Jeannie.

I was juist sittin doon at the table to hae my cup when Wull cam stridin' into the hoose whistlin "Ower the Hills an Far Awa," the hairs o his heavy black moustache stickin' straucht oot, an his e'en fair fou o fire. He threw his jaikit on the fluir an leuked at me. He kept whistlin an leuked at the furniture before he spak.

"Come to gie me a hand wi the flittin' ?" says he. "That's what broucht me here," says I, much to Jeannie's astonishment. "Get your tea ower, then," says he, "for I'm in a hurry." He teuk aff his sleeved westkit an threw it on the bed. "I'm in a hurry, tae," says I, "for I want to get back hame for my denner." Sae up I got an teuk aff my jaiket, tae, an rowed up my sleeves. Puir Jeannie, seein that she was gettin' nae support frae me, gae a wee howl an went ootside.

"Where's the cairt ? " says I. "There's nae cairt," says he, "but the suiner we get this stuff ootside the better." "Richt," says I. "we'll juist put it oot in the gairden. It haes started to rain but that'll no maiter." "Damn the bit. We'll get the dresser oot first. You tak that end," an he spat on his big hands. "It disna maiter aboot this stuff on the tap, I suppose ?" says I. "Cheenie dugs are auld fashioned onywey, an ye could dae wi a new clock as weel." "Juist that," says he, an he gae the dresser a heave, jammin' me against the waa an knockin' the wind frae me. But I got my ain back gaun throu the door an dirled his ribs for him

Weel, the dresser was landed in the garden; there was a terrible clatter o crockery an jeely jars an whatnot when we turned it doon on its face, but that didna maiter aither. "What aboot your hens an jucks," says I when we got back into the kitchen. "I'll droon them," says he. "An I'll gie ye a hand," says I, wonderin' hoo I'd manage the jucks.

Wull got a haud o the table an cairried it oot to put on the tap o the dresser, an I follaed wi twa chairs. By this time the rain was comin doon gey hard. "The country needs that rain badly," says I. "Couldna hae come at a better time," says he. He went oot wi ither twa chairs an threw them doon on his brussels. I follaed him wi his fiddle-case an threw it doon on the chairs. "Hey!" he yelled oot, "that's my fiddle." "I ken damn fine it's no a peeani," says I, "but it was in my road in there." But Wull teuk the fiddle back an placed it on the mantle-piece. Noo, I wisna ower keen to put the bed claes ootside, akthough I did tell him that to sleep in a wet bed was the finest thing in the warld for rheumatics. Sae I teuk oot my pipe an telt him that I was hivin a blaw.

"What happened atween you an your maister this time ?" says I. "Wad you work to a man that believes in the tractor ?" says he. "I'd see him in the hot place first," says I. "That's where I sent him," says Wull. He leuked oot the windae; the rain was comin doon heeven's hard, an I could see that his temper haed cooled doon a guid bit. "We'll get the bed claes oot noo," says I, puttin' my pipe in my pooch. "They'll get wet oot here," says he. "I canna bide here till it dries, Wull," says I, "for I hae a hame life as weel as you, ye ken."

Sae I got haud o twa pillows an I went oot wi them, an threw them doon amang the cabbage. But Wull didna come oot that time, an when I got back an gethered the sheets an blankets in my airms he said, "Sit doon a minute, it's hard work flittin'." I could see that he was gettin' a lesson he'd never got before. He lichted his pipe, an I let the bed claes fa' on the fluir an sat doon on them. "It'll be a' richt," says he, "if I tak my things to Newton Stewart an bide wi you till I get anither place ?"

"I think I'm dain' eneuch, Wull." says I, "gi'in' ye a hand wi your fiittin'." "It used to be that bluid was thicker than watter," says he. "Changed days, Wull," says I, risin to my feet an getherin' up the claes again, "but we'll have to be gettin' on."

By this time he was leukin gey woriied, but to stop me gaun oot wi the claes wad hae been a sign o defeat an there was naething he could dae aboot it. But juist as I was strugglin' wi the claes in the lobby wha should come to the door but Jeannie, an the fermer himsel, John Morrison, an a big dacent man I mey say. Sae I struggled back into the kitchen wi the claes.

The fermer an Wull leuked at each ither, an fine I could see that Wull was a defeated man. "Sae you're for flittin', Wull?" said the fermer. "Weel, I hope I havena cairried that furniture oot for the guid o my health," says Wull. The fermer lauched. "If it's a maiter o money, Wull," says the fermer, "I wadna grudge ye anither twa shillin's on your week." "Then what wey did ye no say that this mornin ?" says Wull. "Ye didna gie me much time, did ye?" says the fermer. "I never dis" says Wull. "that's what mak's me the man I am." "Can we shake hands on that, then ?" says the fermer. "We can," says Wull. Sae they gripped hands an the fermer went oot again.

Jeannie sat on the iron frame o the bed an wiped the last teir frae her ee wi the bottom o her apron. Then the kettle went on the fire again efter Wull haed said, "Noo, we can get thae things back in the hoose again before they get ower wet." An did I no get him yin on the belly wi the dresser when we were in the lobby--mibbie I didna.

By the time we got everything back Jeannie haed a cup o tea ready. An when we sat doon tae it, efter Jeannie haed wiped the chairs, I says to Wull. "What aboot the tractor?" "What tractor?" says he. "I thocht ye left your job because your maister was gettin' a tractor." Wull lauched, a gey forced yin, then said, "Ye didna ken muckle aboot fermers. I haed to mak the tractor an excuise to get that twa extrae shillin's frae him. There's mair ablow my bunnet than hair, Tam," says he. "Juist that, Wull," says I, "juist that." Then I heard the motor bike comin, sae I said. "The next time you're gaun to flit, Wull, juist let me ken." I'll stand ye a dram the first time I'm in Newton Stewart," says he "if my fiddle's no damaged."