Uncle Tom


"But I canna get ower yer waiskit, Mister Blane. Ye're jist the shape o' a man tae weer a nice roomy waiskit; ye're that roon an' sonsie-like," says Mrs Goudie. "Ye wid be a perfec' ootset tae the Corporashun o' ony Burgh toon wi' a gold chain roon yer neck sittin' ablow the Lion an' the Unycorn in the Toon Hall-but whit noise is that on the stairs? Rin oot, John, an' see whit kinna stramash is gaun on."

"Me an' ma man," says Mrs Blane, "ne'er fashes oor thoom nooadays aboot noises. It's noises a' the time, frae mornin' till nicht, and through the nicht worse an' waur than it wis yestreen. In fac' we wid think there wis somethin' wrang if the constant hubble didna mak folk as deef's a door-nail; an' I've often noticed that whan ye're a mairrit wuman it's whiles no' a bad thing tae hae a deef side tae yer heed. Ma Granny yince telt me- Bit here's Mister Goudie come back."

"Doad, an' here's a fine dish o' fish! If Jamie Lang hisnae faun doon the stair an' broken his accordyon."

"Dear me," says Mrs Goudie, "whit bit o' his boady can that be? Is't no' a doctors' name for the shouther-bled? I'll need tae look oot a napeyin tae haud the bits thegither till sich time as the doctor comes. It's verra misfortunate for the pairty, and the steak-an'-veal pie beginnin' tae get cauld and the tea maskit."

"It his jist been rinnin' in ma heed," said Mrs Blane, "that the accordyon's no ony bit o' a man's natomy, bit a kin' o' thing like a concerteena that ye draw oot an' in tae bring oot the quivers an' the croatchits ye get at a coancert. I whiles sells them in the shope, an' altho' they tak up a lot o' room the prices is gaun up-but, Mrs Goudie, there's shairly somebody chappin' at the door."

"My, bit here comes Mistress Tawpie, an' Mister Tawpie tae. My, but A'm gled tae see ye baith. Jist dicht yer feet on the bass, an' step ben; we're a' John Tamson's bairns the nicht, an' hisn't it been a verra fine day, especially for the tim o' year? Mister Blane-Mistress Tawpie an' Mister Tawpie-Mistress Blane; but I daursay ye'll be well acquaint a'ready. I think A've met Mistress Tawpie in your shope, Mistress Blane," says Mrs Goudie. "She'll be wan o' yer best customers, I daursay; bit whit can be keepin' the Beekies? The tea's maskit this hauf-oure. Bit whit dae they say happens whan ye speak aboot angels, for I'll be cheetit if that's no Mistress Beekie's fit, or will it be her wings flappin' on the stair-heed? My! there she's chappin'.

"Come awa ben tae the kitchen an' tak' aff yer things, Mrs Beekie. My, but A'm gled tae see ye! Bit whit's come o' yer gudeman?"

"Oh, he had been keepit a wee late at the barber's. He had ca'ed at Tammy Taidrel's shope tae get a cow. An noo it seems that him an' that nesty nyaff o' a barber-buddy his faun oot. Mister Beekie had happen't tae say that he had nae time tae spare as he had to be at a pairty at five o'cloke sherp, an' the barber, nae doot in the hurry, gied the gudeman a nesty snick wi' the shears. But ye'll no heed an inch or twa o' stickin'-plester on the side o' Jeems's face, an' a bit want here an' there on wan o' his whuskers. That's him tryin' tae whustle comin' up the stair. Jeems aye tries tae whustle whan he feels tempit to say ony words he shouldnae say. Whustlin' seems tae let aff the steam, an' he's maistly quite pleesant efter a bit whustle tae's sel. He aye whustles if he happens to get cauld porritch at brekfast-tim. Here he is tae speak for hissel'. Come awa, Jeems; we've a' seen stickin'-plester afore, and ye neednae look sae sheepish-like."

"Deed and yer jist lookin' rale braw, Mr Beekie," says Mistress Goudie. "Come awa ben and jine the lave. This is Mrs Beekie an' Mr Beekie, Mrs Tawpie an' Mr Tawpie, an' Mrs and Mr Blane."

"Oh, I ken Mistress Blane fine," says Mister Beekie. "Me and Mistress Blane is auld freens. I buy a' oure blecknin' and spunks at her shope, and the wife oaften ca's there tae speir the lowest price o' Mistress Blane's poatit-heid; she gets a heap o' oure custom."

"Queer that Jamie Lang hisnae turned up; he's unco dreich. I hope his fa' on the stair's no' tae blame for a' this wait-waitin'," says Mrs Goudie. "I'll no' be surprised if I hear masel' whustlin' afore long."

"I wis jist gaun to say," says Mister Beekie, "that he'll no' be lang till he comes, but I see noo that I wid hae been wrang if I had said that he widna be lang before he comes, for he wid be Lang baith before and efter he comes, dae ye no see? Whit I should 'a' said, an' nae noansense aboot it, wis that I met Jamie Lang gaun intae the next close to get the lend o' Sandy Macdrone's bagpipes, seein' that an accordyon's no' tae be played wi'."

"So it cannae be mony meenits till he's here. And here he is withoot the bagpipes, and that's maybe no' a peety," says Mrs Goudie, as Jamie Lang poapit in at the door. "And noo that we're a' here but Mister and Mistress Smeddum-an' she's awfu' bothered wi' a pechan that keeps her back - I think we'll jist sit doon tae oor teas, for the kettle's been singin' for the last hauf-oure.