Uncle Tom


"Noo, you leddies, jist sit doon on the chair that's nearest ye. I never likes tae mak step-bairns o' the neebors that's sae freendly tae us. Jist leave room for a man on each side o' ye, for I've oaften noticed that it tak's twa men tae speak as much common sense as ony wan wuman on ony subjec' that's ever brocht up. That was ma ain mither's opeenyin as long as she leeved, an' it's mine, an' ma Granny's before me."

"The wife's a great coamic," says Mister Goudie. "She kens fine that it's his guid common sense that keeps a man quate whan his wife's oot tae gie an opeenyon aboot a' that's gaun on, frae Dan tae Beershebie, an' that's a guid bit oot o' Paisley. But naebody ever lookit for common sense at ony social pairty I ever heppent to be et. An' hiv ye never noticed that plenty o' folk wid never ken whit tae dae wi' common sense yince they had it?

"But, pitten common sense tae yae side, the wife and me's the prood wuman tae gie ye a' a herty welcome tae oor fire-en', an' that minds me that a fire-en' wis the first thing I thocht aboot efter I had said tae Janet: 'Whit a fine nicht for twa folk tae hiv a bit walk.' 'Havers!' says Janet. 'Dinna forget the auld saw that says "Never mairry a wife till ye hae a hoose and a fire to pit her in."' It wis maybe a wee bit nebby o' Janet, but I had jist to work awa, like Jerico that we read aboot, and lay by a bit saxpence every ither week. And in rayther less than the seeven year here wis Janet and the 'hoose and the fire tae pit her in,' a' tae order as naetral as ye like, and a pickle plenishin' intae the bargain. It's winderfu' the works o' natur' an' the innocent wiles o' weemen-folk, bless their herts every yin, and espaishly the leddies o' the praesent compny."

"An' noo that Mister Goudie has had his say, ye a' tak sugar an' cream, I sippose?" says Mistress Goudie. "Jist speak oot. An', gudeman, dinna be sae scrimpit wi' the steak-an'-veal pie; it's no' every nicht we hae oor neebors at the tea-table. But here's the Smeddums comin'. I can mak' oot the pechan at the turn o' the stair. Will ye jist excuse me, leddies, till I gie a bit haun tae help Mrs Smeddum aff wi' her new pownie-fur tippet.

"And, Mistress Tawpie, will you jist poor out the tea till sich time as I can get back.

"Come awa, Mrs Smeddum; thae stairs taks the win' frae folk. I heard your hamely pech comin' roon the corner. It jist reminded me o' the vice o' an auld freen, so I says tae the compny 'Here's the Smeddums' fit on the stairs,' and jist as I said it the door opens and in ye baith popes. And very welcome ye are. And noo, will ye jist sit yoursels doon in the chairs that's been left for them that's been taigelt?

"Ye'll be sair forfochan, Mistress Smeddum, an' Mister Smeddum tae, and I'll no' bother ye wi' interductions tae freens that ye hae kent a' yer days, an' maybe faur longer. And hoo are ye yersel', Mister Smeddum?"

"No' sae bad at a', Mrs Goudie, thenk ye. The roomatics is gowpin' noos and thans, an' I'm whiles fashed wi' whit the doctor says is spine in the back. The doctor says it's a very common complent, and the only folks that dinna tak it is the common gairden worm, and a wheen feckless craiturs like that."