Uncle Tom


"And efter ye've had yer smoke," interjected Mrs Goudie, "maybe ye'll tak the trouble to write oot the invitations and we can drap them intae the pillar. Ye can write weel enough whan ye pit yer mind tilt, but see that ye mak nae bloats on the paper; bloats is no' genteel. Jist write doon : 'Mister and Mistress Goudie invites the pleesure o' So-an'-so's compny on the evenin' o' Friday the ninth October at five o'cloke sherp. R.S.V.P. and No Cairds.'"

"And whit's R.S.V.P. for?" asked Goudie.

"Never you heed whit R.S.V.P.'s for. Just you dae whit yer wife tells ye, like ony sensible man that's mairrit."

"I've hit it noo," said Mr Goudie. "R.S.V.P. staunds for' Rump-steak-an'-veal pie' - but whit's the 'no cairds' for? Are ye no gaun tae gie the dacent folk a roon at 'catch-the-ten,' or maybe some o' the younger yins micht like tae tak a turn at 'grab.'"

"Deed an' there's owre mony playin' at 'grab' aready," responded his spouse, "withoot encouragin' ony mair. It's playin' at 'grab' has set the worl' on fire time an' agane, but everybody that's onybody puts 'no cairds' on their avertisments whan they expec' their freens-if they canna come wi' the lave-just to look in in a freenly way, whan it comes up their back. Do ye no see?

"Besides ye micht as weel be oot o' the worl' as oot o' the fashion," continued Mrs Goudie, whose words were as the law of the Medes and Pensians that altereth not.

"It taks a lot o' wark to get a' the things ready that are needed at a big pairty like this, but I'll dae ma best and put ma best fit forrit. John Macmoney, the flesher, gets a great name for steak-an'-veal pies, and wee Wullie Peel, the baker, is weel up and quite a dab, so they say, at pie-crust. And we'll need to get some awmonds and raisins and hauf-a-pund o' carvey and some conversation lozens for whan the tea's bye. My, oh! do ye no' mind, at the Kirk serees, the nice yins ye used to fling at me, wi' the bonnie words on them: 'Oh, you sweet, sweet deary,' 'Will ye be mine?' 'Be happy wi' me.' And then I would write back on a wee scrap o' paper: 'You're a muckle gomeral,' although I didna jist mean it, or 'A kiss an' a drink o' watter maks a wersh brekfast.' Maybe kinna impident o' me, but nae harm was ever intendit, and nae ill ever cam oot o't that I ever heard o'.

"Noo, Goudie, can I trust ye to look oot ma best tea-set? Mind ye, it's rale cheeny frae China. It was brocht hame in a tea-clipper frae the faur seas whan auld Grandfaither Macringle was next to the Captain o' The Fleein' Limpet. My, the stories we used to hear aboot sharks an' fleein' fish an' pirates, an' the fechts they had wi' sea-serpents an' sea-lions that had long teeth like a coo's horns, only upside doon, an' hairy mistashes like-like that auld man that the wee weans thocht couldnae eat wi nae road intae his mooth, an' mind, if ye brek wan dish o' ma best cheeny tea-set, whit-whit am I to say, an' hoo could ye look me in the face, John Goudie, withoot me greetin'?

Time flees, and Time flees faster than ony Fleein' Limpet that ever brocht the first tea hame to the Broomielaw, an' the ninth o' October cam on like winkie.