Uncle Tom


"Never heed The Airts the Win' can blaw," broke in Mr Beekie. "Gie us a bit recitation; ye're a gran' recitater, an' we'll tak Ma Name is Noarval on the Gramipan Hulls, or On London whan the Sun was Low, or jist yer pleshur."

"That wid be a nice variety an' verra welcome, I'm shair," remarked Mrs Goudie, and in this opinion the majority appeared to agree.

"Onything that's been rinnin' through ma heed," said Mr Tawpie, "is as auld's the hills, bit seein' we've been enjoyin' the loafs an' fishes, so tae speak, o' this woarl's passin' show it's every yin's duty tae dae his bit tae ile the wheels, so tae speak, o' the social faebric. I wid even go sae faur as tae say that it's a man's poasitive duty tae mak a doonricht fule o' himsel at an ode time if it's tae be for the benefit or the pleeshur o' his fellow-moartals; but of coorse that's only the opeenion o' a coammon Pairish Cooncillor, although I say't masel as shouldnae say't."

"Weel spoken!" ejaculated Mr Blane; "bit ca' yer girr an' get on wi' the story; the nicht's wearin' on an' there'll be nae word o' this in the moarnin'."

"Aweel," said Mr Tawpie, "A'll try whit I can mind o' The Minister's Cat, bit I whiles forget the tail end o't."

"Ye'll manage fine," remarked Mrs Goudie, amidst a general murmur of approval from the ladies and some stamping of feet and clapping of hands by the men.

"There was a presby-teerian cat sat watchin' for its prey,
An' in the hoose it coatch a moose upoan the Saw-bath day,
The minis-terr of-fended at sich a cat profane
Threw doon his book, the cat he took, an' bound her in a chain,
Then stracht for exe-e-cue-shy-on, puir baudrons, she wis drawn,
An' hanged wis she upon a tree,

"Doad, bit I've lost the threeds o't," confessed the Parish Councillor.

"Try a peppermint," suggested Mrs Blane. "It'll maybe bring it up."

"Tak a drink o' watter," said Mrs Goudie. "It wid clear yer heed a wee."

"Chap his back," suggested Mrs Beekie, who had an extensive experience in the rearing of a camsteerie family.

"Never heed, ye dune yer best," remarked Mr Blane, who was a kindly man, although something of a Job's comforter.

"Dae ye no' think it's aboot time we wis thinkin' o' daunerin' doon the road, wife?" said Mr Tawpie, gracefully backing out of an awkward position. "It'll shin be the moarn's moarnin', so maybe ye'd be better tae be gettin' on yer bonnet."

"I'm ready noo," replied Mrs Tawpie, who appeared to be in anything but a good humour.

"Toots, havers, noansense!" said Mrs Goudie. "The nicht's bit young yet, an' we're no' richt startit. I think it's Mr Beekie's turn for a sang," says Mrs Goudie. "Gie us Young Roger the Miller that coorted of late. It's a gran' sang for auld lads an' lassies at a pairty."

"Dear me!" says Mister Beekie, "ye're takin' me back tae auld lang syne. Young Roger the Miller was a sang that auld Wullie Yill, the precentor in the High Kirk o' Glesca', used tae sing in the time o' ma granfaither. But here it is, if I could only sing it as auld granfaither sang it:

"Young Roger the Miller he coorted of late
A fermer's young dochter called beautiful Kate,
An' whose worthy portion was full fifty pounds,
Wi' ruffles an' laces an' many silk gowns,
An' some house apperel, and some house apperel,
An' fifty fine things.
The day was appointed, the money was tolled,
It was a fair portion in silver an' gold,
But Roger unto the fermer had said:
'I will not marry this beautiful maid,
For though she be beautiful, charming an' fair,
I'll not have your dochter, I'll not have your dochter,
Withoot the grey mare.'
The fermer returned him an answer wi' speed.
'I thocht you would marry my dochter indeed,
But since that the matter has happened thus,
The money again I'll put back in my purse.'
Then Roger began his hair for to teer,
An' wished that he'd never, an' wished that he'd never
Spoke o' the grey meer.
A few days thereafter, a little above,
He met with sweet Katie, his only true love,
Said he: 'My fair creature, dost thou not know me?'
'If I'm not mistaken, I've seen you,' said she,
'Or wan in your likeness wi' lang yellow hair,
Who yince cam' a-coortin', who yince cam' a-coortin'
Ma faither's grey mare.'"

"The Scots millers, although they're no' a' alike, hae oaften been blamed for being a wee bit grippy," says Mr Blane. "Whit wi' their dooble mooters, and their whiles forgettin' whether they had mootored at a', there wisna muckle tae come back tae the puir fermer, whan a' was done, but a pickle hauf-tim pokes. An' dae ye no' mind the auld saw:

'It's good tae be merry an' wice
Quoth the miller whan he mootered twice'?

So Young Roger was a fair sample o' the lave. But that wis a guid yin for Katie-'a-coortin' ma faither's grey mare,' says she; no sae bad, no sae bad."

"Noo, Mrs Blane, ye'll gie us wan o' the auld favourites, efter sic a fine sample frae the men-folk."

"I'm no' a singer," says Mrs Blane, "an' it's bit a timmer vice that's left tae me noo, bit I'll dae ma best wi' the lave. Ye've a' heard it hunners o' times before, bit here it's agane. We shouldnae forget the auld Scots sangs.

"O sing tae me the auld Scots sangs
In the braid auld Scottish tongue,
The sangs ma faither loved tae hear,
The sangs ma mither sung
When she sat beside ma cradle,
Or crooned me on her knee,
An' I wadna sleep, she sang sae sweet,
The auld Scots sangs tae me.
An' I wadna sleep, she sang sae sweet,
The auld Scots sangs tae me.
Sing ony o' the auld Scots sangs,
The blithesome or the sad,
They mak me smile whan I am wae,
An' greet whan I am glad.
Ma hert gaes back tae Scotland yet,
The saut tears dim ma ee,
An' the Scots bluid leaps in a' ma veins
As ye sing thae sangs tae me.
An' the Scots bluid leaps in a' ma veins
As ye sing thae sangs tae me.
Sing on, sing mair o' thae auld sangs,
For ilka ane can tell
O' joy or sorrow in the past,
Where mem'ry loves tae dwell:
Tho' hair grow grey, an' limbs grow auld,
Until the day I dee
I'll bless the Scottish tongue that sings
The auld Scots sangs tae me.
I'll bless the Scottish tongue that sings
The auld Scots sangs tae me."

Mrs Blane sang with much expression and sympathy, her thin piping notes full of tenderness and a kind of suppressed emotion finding eager and appreciative listeners. And when the singer had finished, and the last notes had passed into the silence, nobody spoke. Was it the music or the words that had struck home so irresistibly and had recalled memories of thoughtless youth and of the many ups and downs of succeeding years, the trials and the joys of living, the love of friends and "the sangs ma faither loved to hear, the sangs ma mither sung"?

"And noo, Mistress Goudie," says Mrs Smeddum, "efter sich a pleesant nicht, everybody sae hamely and sich bonnie singin', and sae much kindness frae you and Mr Goudie, and a' the rest o' the freens here, it wad jist tak awa much o' the pleeshure tae sit ony later. So I think we should jist be gettin' on oor haps an' toadlin' awa hame."

"Aweel, aweel, if ye maun gang," says Mrs Goudie. "'A wilfu' man maun hae his wey, and wha will tae Cupar maun tae Cupar.' But ye'll tak some aumonds and some raisins, and twa-three aipples for the bits o' weans, an' haste ye back again, and 'we'll meet again some ither nicht for the days o' auld Lang syne.' So, guid nicht tae ye a', and don't be tumlin' the wulcat on the stairs."