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Title: The Pawky Scot Author: Graham Moffat * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1402591h.html Language: English Date first posted: September 2014 Most recent update: SEptember 2014 This eBook was produced by: John Martin Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.
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Valentine & Sons, Ltd.
Dundee And London
A BLACK DAY
A BONNIE BAIRN
A DEATH CERTIFICATE
A "DEAD" HEAT
A FITTING MINISTER
A GRAND BUSINESS
A PERFECT MAN
A PLEASING PROSPECT
A SLOW TRAIN
A STAKE IN THE COUNTRY
A SUM IN PROPORTION
A TREAT IN STORE
AN ABERDEEN WAIL
AYE A SOMETHING!
BANG WENT TUPPENCE
"DAMN THAT FLY!"
EVERY MAN TO HIS TRADE
FEW ARE CHOSEN
"GUILTY" AS CHARGED
HE LEFT THEM TO IT
HOW TO DISPERSE A CROWD
LIVE AND LET LIVE
MY CANNY YOUTH
NO CANINE ARTISTES
NO ORANGE BLOSSOMS
NO USE FOR GEOGRAPHY
NO WONDER HE WAS GLOOMY
PLAYING THE GAME
SOMETHING IN HIS HEAD
SPOTTING THE DEVIL
TAKING NO RISKS
THE ABERDEEN WEDDING PRESENT
THE "CHOOCKIE" WAS GOOD
THE LONG WAY OUT
THE POWDERED LADY
THE TIP BELOW THE PLATE
THREE A PENNY
WHERE'S THE WHIP
WHISKY AND SODA
YANKEE SCOTTISH HUMOUR
Canniness grew up during the centuries of Scotland's poverty when extreme thrift was a necessity. To the present generation it comes as an inherited gift. In Aberdeen it almost amounts to genius.
The origin of pawkiness is less obvious, but it can be traced back to the stern preaching of the seventeenth century, when it was considered sinful to make a joke consciously, or to laugh at one. It was obviously dangerous even to see one. Determined to run no risks our cautious forefathers avoided all appearance of joking, but developed an earnest truthfulness of speech together with a self-revealing candour and quaintness of expression which never deserted them even in the more serious crises of life. This we call pawkiness.
Take equal quantities of pawkiness and canniness and you have the recipe for Scottish humour.
Though not an Aberdonian I confess that I have a modicum of canniness. When a boy, and living at Jedburgh, my brothers and I were allowed twopence each Saturday to buy ourselves mutton pies. One Saturday night my father discovered me sitting in a corner of the parlour absorbed in gloomy meditation, my week-end coppers still in my hand.
"What's wrong?" he asked, "haven't you bought your pie?"
"No!" was my tearful reply, "I've been round all the shops and I can't make up my mind which has the biggest ones."
When Rab Mathieson's wife Janet was given over by the doctor she called him to her bedside and said: "Rab, I want ye to promise me just ae thing afore I dee. Promise me!"
"Ye'll hae to tell me what it is or I'll no' promise," said Rab.
"Weel, it's just this. Ye must gi'e me yer solemn word that ye'll no' put anither in my place."
"Na! Na! I'll promise naething o' the kind," said Rab emphatically; "I've been sae weel content wi' my first bargain in wives that it's only reasonable I should repeat the order."
"If ye dare to tak' anither wife, Rab," declared Janet raising herself in bed excitedly, "I'll scratch mysel' oot o' the grave and haunt you and her till ye dee."
A year after Janet's death, Rab took a second wife.
On the wedding day a friend who was acquainted with the circumstances said to him:
"Man, are ye no feart?"
"No' a bit!" declared Rab: "Ye see I took precautions. She'll hae to scratch hersel' to Australia afore she bothers me again: I buried her face doon."
A canny Scot found himself beleaguered in New York during the Great War, his wife being still in Aberdeenshire.
"Why don't you go home to the wife, Sandy?" asked a friendly American.
"What!" exclaimed Sandy indignantly, "wad ye hae me riskin' my life crossin' the Atlantic Ocean wi' a' thae murderin' submarines aboot? Na! Na! I've sent for the wife tae come to me."
The story goes that when I was born a sour old maid called to see the new baby. At sight of my little red face she involuntarily ejaculated: "Eh me! Aweel-a-wat, he's no' bonnie!" Then observing my mother's resentful looks she added, "But they that the bonniest bairns generally grow up to be the ugliest men and women."
Upon which my eldest brother aged six looked up innocently at her wrinkled face and remarked: "You must have been a very bonnie bairn, Miss Pringle."
A Scotsman wishing to join the police force in Birmingham, was asked by the Inspector: "What would you do to disperse a crowd?"
"Weel," replied the Scot, "I dinna ken what ye wad dae in Birmingham, but if I were in Aberdeen, I'd pass round the hat."
At a recent International Football Match between Scotland and England, an Englishman had a bottle of whisky, while a Scotsman, who stood next to him, had none. The weather was hot and Sandy was dry.
"If ye were a sport ye'd pass the bottle," said the latter.
"There's only a mouthful left," replied the other.
"Ay!" agreed Sandy, "I see it's just a dribble. If ye were a player I'd say ye were a champion 'dribbler,' but ye're no good at 'passin'."
"Pass? No fear! Just you watch me 'shoot!'" And the Englishmen put the bottle to his mouth.
"Stop!" cried Sandy. "Ye should ken that it scores against ye to shoot into yer ain goal."
Sandy got his drink.
The following conversation was overheard by some mean spy at a Glasgow "close mouth."
"Jean, tell me wha's bonnie wee doo (turtle dove) are ye?"
"Uch awa'! Ye ken fine yersel', Jock."
"Then ye love me, Jean?"
"Ay, indeed! Twa pies last nicht and twa the nicht—wha wadna, Jock?"
A Scotsman and a Jew were brought up before a magistrate charged with being drunk and incapable. Both pleaded "Not Guilty."
"What reason have you, constable, for thinking that the accused were drunk?" asked the magistrate.
"Well, sir," replied the policeman, "Macdonald was throwing his money about."
"Um! yes—I see! But what about the other prisoner?"
"Isaacs was throwing it back at him."
One of the best Glasgow stories concerns two wives who were heard gossiping on a stairhead.
"So your Jean is married at last," said one. "And how is she gettin' on?"
"Oh, she's getting on fine—just fine!" replied her neighbour. "There's only wan thing the matter. She just canna bide her man—but there's aye a something!"
One hot Sunday a Highland minister opened his sermon thus:
"Ass I came into ta pulpit this mornin' I heard a member of my congregation, who is sitting toon there in the front pew, say to a poor, wee, small, innocent fly that wass annoying him, 'Damn that fly!' Now I know, my brethern, that it iss a fery warrum tay, put we must pe gentle with ta poor, wee, small, innocent flies that alight on our hot faces. We ought to put up a hand slowly and say, 'Co away little fly?" chust prushing it aside. Now there is a fly that has lighted on my own face chust now. I do not get angry with it and say 'Damn that fly!' No, my brethren, I chust raise my hand gently to my face and say—"Damn! It's a wasp!"
"To think o't, puir Bob M'Craw was fishin', and fell in the river and was drooned."
"Are you sure he's deid?"
"Oh, he's deid richt enough. They got him oot, and went through his pockets, and he didna move."
The sowing of wild oats generally takes the form of prodigal expenditure and even the Canny Scot is guilty at times of a lapse into extravagance.
It must have been an Aberdeen child who entered a little confectioner's shop, threw down a halfpenny on the counter, and, with the energy begot of despair sobbed out:
"A farthin's worth o' sweetie scrapins and a farthin' back. I've quarrelled wi' my mither and I dinna care what I spend."
A Scotsman bought a shilling ticket for a lottery, the first prize being a Pony and Trap. One night a knock came to the door and a voice called: "Are ye in, Tam?"
Tam went to the door and saw a village cronie standing there with a pony and trap.
"Weel, Tam, ye'll be pleased to hear that you've won the first prize."
Tam scratched his head, walked round and had a good look. "Aye," he said, "that's the pony and trap richt enough, but where's the whip?"
Seeing two men bathing on the Aberdeen beach a wealthy Englishman offered five pounds to the one who could stay longest under water. They are still searching for the bodies.
The roof of a certain kirk was in need of repairing, but the leading elder could not be convinced that such was the case. At a meeting convened to consider the matter a lump of plaster descended on this elder's head. When he had recovered from the shock he rose and said:
"I am now convinced that the roof must be redone immediately. In fact I'll give five pounds mysel!"
Upon which the minister closed his eyes and prayed fervently:
"Oh, Lord, hit him again!"
It was "Glasgow Fair" Saturday. Many rowing boats obstructed the passage of the Clyde steamers as they entered Rothesay Bay. One in particular seemed to be in imminent danger of being run down.
The steamer blew its siren, and an excited little girl was heard exhorting her perspiring father to pull harder at the oars:
"Poo, Paw, poo! Can ye no poo Paw?"
Which being interpreted signifies—"Pull Daddy pull! Can you not pull, Daddy."
Mr Harry Lauder (now Sir Harry) once invited me to lunch. Crossing Oxford Street, London, on our way to his hotel we were held up amid the busy traffic. Harry gripped my arm and said earnestly:
"Man, Moffat, if you and me was to get knockit doon thegither it wad be a black day for Scotland."
During the subsequent lunch Harry related some of his experiences.
"When I furst landed in America," he said, "I was met by a crood o' thae reporter men. Yin o' them says to me: 'Well, Harry,' says he, 'we've had a countryman of yours here doing great business in the music halls (Here Harry named another Scottish comedian)—He made piles of American dollars but he didn't leave many of them behind him.' 'Weel, I'll leave less,' says I, and wi' that I telt him yin aboot that same comedian and me. 'I was livin' up in a wee garret room in Leeverpool, for the nearer the slates the cheaper the rent ye ken, when wan day my freend T—— climbed the stairs to my room and says he to me, 'Harry, I've jist come for a wee bit consultation aboot how to save money.' I had been pittin' a bit sang thegither, but I laid my wark aside and says: 'Weel then, sit doon on the floor, and seein' that we're auld freends and can talk thegither withoot seein' I'll jist blaw oot the candle.'"
An Aberdonian, resident in London, once met a friend from the Granite City and on learning that he was in need of a square meal remarked—"Ye'll just come wi' me. I ken the very place, if you stand the drinks I'll stand the lunch." It was a free lunch bar.
At breakfast in a fashionable boarding-house at Strathpeffer an affected old maid from the South found a tribute of flowers on her plate, placed there by her friends in celebration of her birthday. Pressing them impulsively to her cheek, she exclaimed:
"How perfectly charming! All the beautiful flowers come to me!"
Thereupon an old Scottish lady who sat opposite to her remarked dryly: "Ay! A' except orange-blossoms."
Two members of the schoolboard were delegated to inspect a remote Highland school. They found that the discipline was not all that it should be, and decided to report accordingly.
The schoolmaster's wife was exceedingly hospitable and provided an excellent chicken dinner.
On their way home over the hills the following conversation took place:
FIRST INSPECTOR (doubtfully): "Umphum! Ay! Yes! I doot we will haf to report against him—the deecipline wass pad."
SECOND INSPECTOR: "Naw, man, we'll no' report unfavourably. True, the deecipline wass pad—but, och! the choockie wass goot!"
An Aberdonian sat at the bedside of his friend who was a patient in a nursing home.
"Ye seem to be a bit cheerier the day, John," said the visitor.
"Ay, man, I thocht I was gaun to dee, but the doctor tells me he can save my life. It's to cost a hunner pounds."
"Eh! that's terrible extravagance! Do ye think it's worth it?"
"Money breeds money," said a New York man to me the other day, "but the Scotsman who put two dollars into the canary's cage is still waiting for 'interesting' results."
The lot of the Day School Teacher is not always a happy one and the question of corporal punishment gives rise to many unpleasant scenes with irate parents. A mother accompanied her little girl to school one morning and addressed the teacher thus:
"What richt hae the likes o' you to thresh my wee lassie for no kennin' her geography? What's geography onyway? I never had nae geography and I got a man. My sister, Meg, had nae geography and she got a man; but you!—ye canna get a man wi' a' yer geography!"
As a concert artist I was present on one occasion at the "Coachmen's Annual Soiree Concert and Ball" held in St. Andrews' Hall, Glasgow. What proved to be the speech of the evening was delivered by a rough-spoken self-made man, then the largest cab-owner in the city. In the course of his remarks he said:
"Everybody wha wants to get on in this warld has to hae something in his heid. There's oor chairman, the Lord Provost, his heid's foo o' politics. Here's my minister sittin' aside me; his heid's foo o' theology. There's Mr Hunter yonder, his heid's crammed foo o' electreecity; and as for me mysel', ye a' ken that my heid's foo o' beasts."
Max O'Rell wrote a book about Scotland and tells this story as an illustration of Scottish density.
An Englishman living in Fife met the newly appointed Provost of the town and greeted him by exclaiming:
"Hail, MacBain! Thane of Fife!"
McBain considered a moment, and said, "Ay! that's a' verra weel, but yer quotation's wrang. It's not MacBain, it's Macbeth."
The Englishman left him in disgust, and meeting another native said: "Do you know, I met the new provost a minute ago and called to him, 'Hail! MacBain, Thane of Fife!' And what do you think he said?"
"I couldna guess."
"He said 'It's not MacBain, it's Macbeth."
The second Fifer considered this and said: "Dae ye ken man, I think he was right."
"I think Scotland won—two, nothing."
The tipping system is a problem which occasions many a heartache all over the world; but in no place more so than the breast of the Aberdonian.
An Aberdonian was doing London last year and having been told that it was customary to leave a tip below the plate in restaurants invariably left one. The waiter or waitress who cleared his table always found a little slip on which was written "Back 'Call Boy' for the Derby." When 'Call Boy' won, an Aberdonian, for the first time in history, felt that inward glow which comes of lavish generosity.
The captain of the old Clyde steamer The Marquis of Bute was a breezy old Highlander with a short temper. The Marquis, crowded with passengers from Dunoon, had just called in at Kirn one Monday morning. As the gangway was being taken off, a young man and woman were observed rushing down the pier. The Captain kindly had the gangway put on again, and the passengers were preparing to give "the last man aboard" the usual ironic cheer, when the young man paused to kiss his sweetheart "Good-bye." This was too much for the worthy captain.
"Throw off that gangway," he shouted. "You can chust kiss—kiss—kiss till I come pack."
A canny couple from the North when on a visit to London took a journey in "The Underground." While descending in the lift the old man was looking at a notice which read "Spitting strictly prohibited—penalty forty shillings." when his wife whispered to him:
"Eh, John! I think I'm gaen to be sick."
"No' here, woman! no' here!" cried John: "look at the notice! It costs twa pounds just to spit!"
An Aberdeen host was entertaining some friends to tea. When all were seated he said:
"For fat we are about to receive oh Lord, make us truly thankful. Fa's for cheese? I'm wantin' nane. Remove the cheese!"
"Guidsake, Jock," said a canvasser outside a polling booth, "what dae ye mean by wearin' the Tory colours when you've aye voted red?"
"I've got a coo noo!" said Jock.
A commercial traveller replied to his manager thus:
"In reply to your question as to the reason why I failed to get any orders for canned goods in Aberdeen, the reason is that they cannot eat the tins."
There is an Aberdonian grocer whose customers can never quite make up their minds whether he is very cute or only very stupid. His fellow citizens can quite sympathise with him when he halves a peppermint lozenge when weighing out a halfpenny-worth of "sweeties" for a bairn, for they would do it themselves. It is another matter when it comes to his mental arithmetic. He has been heard to sum up a cash customer's indebtedness thus:
"Ten and eleven are twenty-one. Two and a penny. Fivepence change—thank you!"
The story goes that a drunk fell into an open grave and lay unconscious till morning. He was awakened by the sound of a trumpet blown by a rag-and-bottle hawker. Scrambling out of his resting-place he looked about him, scratched his head in perplexity and exclaimed:
"Gosh! this is a puir turn oot for Kirkintilloch."
On a certain occasion the late Mr Mackenzie Murdoch after a magnificent display of violin playing received a vociferous encore which was not confined to hand-clapping. The chairman rose indignantly and rang his bell for silence.
"Stop that whustlin'," he shouted: "And ye're no' permitted to kick oor new toon hall tae bits wi' yer muckle feet. If ye wants an encore I tell ye this: ye'll no' get Mr Murdoch back by whustlin' on him. Artistes is not dugs!"
Many stories are told against the pulpit but here is one in which the pew figures and not to advantage. A Glasgow clergyman who on his way to the morning service overheard the conversation of three young men of his congregation. They had consulted their pockets and found that they had only two half-pennies among them.
The minister hurried on and waited for them beside the elder at the plate. As they passed in to the kirk, he said:
"There they go—three a penny!"
A newcomer had just settled in a small Ayrshire town. Determined to make himself popular he treated a local man, whom he met in the public-house, to a dram. Instead of calling for another round the new friend responded with:
"Man, I'm real glad ye've come to settle among us. I'll maybe be able to dae you a guid turn some day. Ye see I'm the sexton here. Dae ye like yer heid high?"
The greatest "original" I have ever run across was my fellow passenger on a railway journey from Glasgow to Paisley. He managed to give the wisdom of Solomon a modern twist that made it his own.
"I am prood to be a member o' the Established Kirk o' Scotland," he told me. "The Free Kirk has nae richt to exist. It was prophetically condemned by scripture three thoosand years ago."
"How do you make that out?" I asked.
"Easy enough," he replied. "Did not Solomon say 'let all thy ways be established'?"
"Are you married?" I asked him.
"Na! na! theres nae wife." He produced a large door key from his pocket. "There's my big key! I can gang hame when I like—the nicht, the morn's mornin', next week if I like. Naebody to say 'Where goest thou?' But look at my neebours!—everywhere the wife says 'Go!' and he goeth, 'haud (hold) the bairn' and he haudeth it."
"But," said I, "Solomon says 'whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing.'"
"Ay!" he agreed, a pawkie twinkle coming into his eyes. "But I'm thinkin' that Solomon said that before the Lord had given him wisdom!"
A village blacksmith named Andra Gow was so henpecked at home that he spent his evenings at the public house. His wife's brother determined to make an effort to cure Andra of his drinking habits. One Saturday night the blacksmith was staggering and singing along the road when a dark figure emerged from the kirkyard gate and addressed him in hollow tones: "Andra Gow, I come to warn you that drink is sending you straight to Hell."
"And wha may you be?" asked Andra.
"I am the Devil!" replied the black figure.
"I was thinking that," said Andra dryly, "Come and have a drink. I'm married to yer sister."
At a certain social party the daughter of the house had obliged the guests by singing the Jacobite song "Wae's me for Prince Charlie."
An Englishman being present the proud hostess asked him how he liked it.
"Oh, very much," he said. "So pathetic don't you know. I suppose it's a sort of Aberdeen wail? But, after all, you know, what's fourpence?"
"Why, what do you mean?" asked the surprised hostess.
"Well, didn't every verse finish up with 'Where's my fourpence, Charlie'?"
As my native town might as well get her share of the cheap publicity, I have no scruples in telling this one. I recently delivered a lecture from the pulpit of a fashionable West-end church in Glasgow. In the course of my address I said:
"At the performances of 'Bunty Pulls the Strings' our audiences, even in Scotland, laugh when they see the country folks of sixty years ago putting half-pennies and pennies in the kirk plate. Yet a moment's thought would have shown them that owing to the tremendous depreciation in the purchasing power of money our grandfathers were really contributing sums equal to threepence and sixpence in our present money."
When I entered the vestry after the service I discovered an elder seated at a table busily counting a mountain of coppers into shilling heaps. He looked sadly at me and said:
"Eh, man! What a pity we took the collection before the sermon."
To a person of thrifty habits the spending of money becomes in course of time a matter of mental agony. Two Scotsmen came to London with a cheap excursion and had to spend a night in a hotel. Waking at two in the morning one of them found the other sitting on a chair by his bed.
"What are ye sittin' there for, Donald? Can ye no' get in tae bed and gang tae sleep?"
"What's the use?" replied Donald. "They're chargin' five shillings' for the bed and I ken I'll never sleep for thinkin' o't."
An American tourist sat beside a working man on top of a Glasgow tramway car. Crossing the river by the Jamaica bridge the American asked:
"What do you call this trickle of water?"
"Oh, that's the River Clyde," said the worker.
"Gee-whiz! You call that a river? You should see our Mississippi."
"Did you Yankees make the Mississippi?" asked the Glasgow man. "Wall, n—o!"
"Weel, we made this vin."
An Aberdeen town councillor was asked the reason why the Aberdonians do not resent the canny stories that are told about them.
"Resent them! Na! na! The prosperity o' this city is bein' built up by haddies and jokes. Cannie stories have made this the best kenned place on earth. Aberdeen's a tourist centre now. Americans are drovin' in in their hunners. And it's a' dune withoot a farthin' on the rates. Man, it's grand cheep publeecity!"
The oldest tinker in Scotland died recently, having tramped the country till he was nearly ninety.
A Highland minister once tried to influence him.
"Have you ever been inside a kirk, Donald?" he asked.
"Naw! but I've seen the ootsides o' mony a braw kirk."
"Can you say the Lord's Prayer?"
"Naw! Every man to his trade. Can you sooder (solder) a tin can?"
The Scotsman in general is credited with a more than ordinary frugality but on occasion he is guilty of carrying the virtue to excess.
An Aberdonian sat on his bed one Sunday morning solemnly contemplating some money which he had taken from the pocket of his week-day trousers.
"Let me see," he said to himself, "fan I went oot on the spree wi' thae Englishers I had one and four-pence—a shillin', a thripenny bit and a penny. Noo I've only got the shillin' and the thripenny bit. What on earth did I do with the ither penny?"
A member of a country kirk had been absent for two weeks on holiday. On his return he asked the beadle if they had got any further towards appointing a minister.
"Naw, mun!" replied the beadle: "we've had twa student chiels tryin' their hauns. The first was a big man and I'd hae been vexed if he'd got the kirk. Fortunately he closed the Bible wi' sic a bang that they said he was wantin' in reverence. The second was a wee chap, and I thocht he wad dae, so I gied him a hint, but, man, he overdid it—he closed the Bible sae slowly and reverently that the elders smelled popery. It was an awfu' peety, for his auld claes wad jist hae fitted me."
A Canadian farmer of Scottish extraction kept up the religious traditions of his race by reading each morning to his family and his field workers a consecutive chapter of the Bible. One fine day in the harvesting season, when time was precious, he struck the sixth chapter of 1st Chronicles, which consists of eighty-one verses of genealogical names. He droned on till he came to:—
"And Shallum begat Hilkiah and Hillkiah begat Azariah, and Azariah begat Seraiah, and Seraiah begat Jehozadak."
There he paused and looked over the leaf.
"Weel, my freends," he said, "they begat ane anither richt doon to the end o' the page, and a lang way ower on the ither side, so we'll jist leave them to it. Off wi' ye to yer wark!"
There are people in this world to whom the outward show of social position makes no appeal, and less so when it comes between them and their rights.
One wet and stormy day an Edinburgh cabby, being dissatisfied with the fare offered him by a gentleman in kilts, was proceeding to argue the matter.
"Don't dare to bandy words with me," broke in his fare haughtily, "do you know who I am? I am a Mackintosh!"
"Ye'll pay me anither ninepence," said the cabby, "even if ye're a damp umbrella."
John's business in Glasgow was bringing him in a fine income, and he had bought a villa "doon the watter," to which he delighted to invite his friends for the week-ends. This is how he tried to persuade one who hesitated to accept:
"Hoots man, ye'll enjoy yersel. It's a fine place—come doon! There's baith flooers and vegetables in the gairden—come doon and taste the wife's kail. I've a boat and fishin' lines—come doon! There's a golf course and a bowling green handy—ye must come doon! I've twa pair o' boxin' gloves—come doon and I'll knock the face aff ye."
A certain old worthy had earned the reputation of being "sair on wives." At the funeral of his third spouse a friend condoled with him thus:
"It must be a vera great consolation to ye, John, that ye got a bit o' money wi' every ane o' yer late wives. Ye must be pretty weel aff noo?"
"Na, na!" replied the bereaved husband: "Man, to tell ye the honest truth, what wi' gettin' them into the hoose and oot o' the hoose there's been very little profit."
"What makes you so gloomy to-day, Angus?" asked a sportsman of his ghillie.
"Weel, ye see, sir," replied Angus, "Lord A—— went off to England without payin' me, and yesterday he sent me ane o' thae cheque things. It was for six pounds. I took it to the bank and they only gi'ed me five pounds nineteen and sixpence."
The trains on the North Highland line are notoriously slow.
Although our train was due to start in a few minutes I had left my sister on the station platform at Inverness and gone to the telegraph office, near by, to send off a business wire.
Meantime a Highland porter approached my sister and asked her to get into the carriage if she intended to travel.
Alarmed lest I should miss the train, she said:
"I am waiting for my brother! Where is the telegraph office?"
"Och!" said the porter. "Don't pe redeeckulus! You haf no time to telegraph. The train would be away long pefore he could get here."
The Glasgow barber who told me this one while I was having a hair cut assured me that it was the very latest from Aberdeen.
A bride in the northern city received from the best man the present of an umbrella. As she did not care for the handle she decided to have the umbrella changed for one of the same value, but more to her taste. Without consulting the giver she personally approached the Union Street firm whose name was on the tag.
The shop-keeper was all smiles. "With pleasure, madam," he said, unwrapping the parcel. But at sight of the umbrella his expression changed. "I am sorry, madam, but this was not bought in our shop."
"It must have been!" protested the bride. "Why, your label is on it!"
"Yes, but that is only our tag for re-covering."
At a Church annual Social the minister had taken for the subject of his address "The Perfect Man." Pausing after an eloquent passage he put this question to his audience: "Has anyone here ever seen or heard of a perfect man?" After a thrilling silence, a little man stood up at the back and piped:
"Yes sir, I have!"
"You mean to tell me that you have seen or heard of a perfect man?" demanded the incredulous minister.
"I've never seen him, sir, but I'm tired hearin' aboot him," piped the voice.
"And who is he?"
"My wife's first man!"
The beadle of a village kirk was showing me the "ladle" used in taking the collections when he told me this story.
"There used to be a leadin' elder here who was so fond of his dram that he brought a bottle with him to the kirk. One day, while in the vestry during the long prayer that preceded the collection, he filled up the bottle with soda water from the minister's siphon. When he heard the 'Amen' he hurried into the kirk, took the 'ladle' and began to rax it along the pews. Suddenly the cork came fleein' out of the bottle with a loud 'pop' and the contents sprayed from his frock-coat pocket, all over the folk at the back of him. The minister looked down at him and said: 'Ay, Donald, I always said that yer secret sin would find you out. Yer bottle would have remained quietly in yer pocket if ye hadna helped yersel' so freely to my soda water.'"
An Aberdonian approached a London bus and asked the conductor: "Fat's the fare frae here to the Strand?"
"Tuppence!" was the reply.
The cannie Scot ran to the next stopping-place and asked his question again.
"Still tuppence!" It was the same bus.
Determined to save his penny the Aberdonian ran on yet another stage. "Fat's the fare to the Strand?"
"Thrippence! You're going the wrong way!"
Among the residents of a charitable institution in Australia was an old Scotswoman named Janet. Never having seen a lady of rank Janet was intensely interested when the place was visited by a lady of title.
After the event was over the matron called Janet to her and said: "Now, Janet, you have seen a real lady. What do you think of her?"
"Yon wumman!" exclaimed Janet, "I could hae bakit a scone wi' the flour aff her face."
In order to eke out their scanty income a worthy couple in Innerleithen turned their ben parlour into a café.
Some weeks afterwards the male partner was asked how the new venture was succeeding.
"Oh, we're gettin' on grand—grand! A wee traveller body cam' in the ither day—but the wife had the kettle boilin'."
The "Millenium Dawn" evangelists were about to start a campaign in a Scottish town. One of their missionaries approached an elderly native who was standing in front of a hoarding studying one of their startling posters.
"My friend," said the evangelist, "I assure you it is perfectly true what you read there: 'Thousands living to-day will never die.' There may be some in this very town."
"Some?" replied the other. "It's my opinion they're nearly a' here. I've suspeckit something o' the kind sin' ever I was appointed gravedigger. The folk in this toon'll no' dee—they'll be too fell! They live but they'll no' let live."
We are living in the South of England and have a maidservant straight from the West of Scotland. She is totally unable to understand the local speech. Conversations like the following take place daily at the back door:
"Anythink for the byker."
"Guidsake, laddie, can ye no speak plain English?"
"I'm the byker."
"I ken fine ye're a biker, for I see yer bike."
"The byker—bread yer know!"
"Oh, ye mean the baker? Weel, send us twa—! I mean two—loaves at yince."
"Do you mean to-d'y?"
"Me? Was there ever sic impidence? Do I look like deein'? Aff wi' ye!"
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