Uncle Tom


"I thocht ye was speakin' as if ye was a wee kinna roopit," remarked Mrs Smeddum, "but I was hearin' lately that ye had startit tae learn Esperanty an' that micht accoont for't: thae new-fangelt words is sair on the throat."

"They tell me," chimed in Mr Beekie, "it's a winderfu' handy thing tae be able tae speak, an' faur better nor the Gallic if ye should heppen tae be shipwrecked in Africa or ony o' thae heathen countries. A' ye've got tae dae is jist tae ask wan o' the naekit savages for the man that speaks Espranty an' he's bound tae tak' ye tae the best hotel in the place an' gie ye free ludgins an' a bite o' meat till sich times as the next boat comes in for the Broomielaw."

"Doad, an' I maun hae a try at that!" interjected Mr Smeddum, who was something of an epicure, and in the role of a roving bachelor took occasional week-ends at Gourock. "Bit, Mrs Tawpie, are ye no' gaun tae gie us The Sang that Reached ma Hert, or maybe ye wid gie us something no sae high-set, seein' ye hae gotten a bit waif o' the cauld. Whit dis yer wife sing best, Mr Tawpie?

"Oh, it's no' for me tae say," replied Mr Tawpie timidly. "Before we wis mairrit the wife wis great on Whustle an' A'll come tae ye, ma Lad, but noo it's maistly Whit can a Young Lassie dae wi' an' Auld Man? Bit seein' she's kinna quate an' donsey the nicht, A'll try a verse or twa masel," and Mr Tawpie made several brave but unsuccessful attempts to clear his throat.

"Whit's yer sang, Mr Tawpie, an' maybe I could gae ye the key?" suggested Mr Smeddum, producing a flute from somewhere under the lining of his coat.

"I aye stick tae Burns," answered Mr Tawpie. "Ma auld favourite is O' a' the Airts the Win' can blaw. Doh-so-me-doh," hummed the songster, while Mr Smeddum got his flute into position for an effective blow-off; but the flute remained silent as an Egyptian sphinx.

"Talkin' aboot win'," remarked Mrs Blane, "an' while Mr Smeddum is clearin' oot his flit, maybe a peppermint micht gie ye a lift-up tae the tap notes; peppermints is awfu' guid for raisin' the win', an' that's a consideration whan ye want tae flee a draegon. An' whit, efter a', is the vice o' melody bit the souchan o' the win', if it's no exactly the howlin' o' the tempest. I never go oot in ony min' o wather masel withoot twa-three peppermints in ma poakit, an' ye're verra welcome, Mr Tawpie, tae a peppermint - or ony o' the rest o' the company for that maitter, although I sell them in the shope at fowerpence-happny the quarter an' that's up frae whit they wur at last week,"

"I doot A'll hiv tae gie't up efter a'," said Mr Smeddum ruefully. "Somebuddy's churtit a chuckie intae the bizness end o' ma flit, an' it's a waste o' preyshus time tae try tae draw it oot wi' that," as Mrs Goudie considerately handed him the ancestral corkscrew.