"Ay, Robin (his friend’s
name was Robin Roughead), ye’re a happy man—ye’re maister in your ain
house, and ye’ve a wife that adores and obeys ye; but I’m nae
better than naebody at my ain fireside. I’ll declare I’m waur; wife an’
bairns laugh at me—I’m treated like an outlan’ body an’ a fule. Though,
without me, they micht gang and beg, there is nae mair respeck paid to me
than if I were a pair o’ auld bauchels flung into a corner. Fifteen years
syne I couldna believed it o’ Tibby though onybody had sworn it to me. I
firmly believe that a gude wife is the greatest blessin’ that can be
conferred upon a man upon this earth. I can imagine it by the treasure
that my father had in my mither; for, though the best may hae words
atween them occasionally, and I’m no saying that they hadna, yet they were
just like passing showers to mak’ the kisses o’ the sun upon the earth
mair sweet after them. Her whole study was to please him and to mak’ him
comfortable. She was never happy but when he was happy; an’ he was just
the same wi’ her. I’ve heard him say that she was worth untold gold. But,
O Robin! if I think that a gude wife is the greatest blessin’ a man can
enjoy, weel do I ken that a scoldin’, domineerin’ wife is his greatest
curse. It’s a terrible thing to be snooled in your ain house—naebody can
form an idea o’t but they wha experience it.
"Ye remember whan I first
got acquainted wi’ Tibby, she was doing the bondage work at Riselaw. I
first saw her coming out o’ Eccles kirk ae day, and I really thocht that I
had never seen a better-faured or a more gallant-looking lass. Her cheeks
were red and white like a half-ripe strawberry, or rather, I should say,
like a cherry; and she seemed as modest and meek as a lamb. It wasna very
lang until I drew up; and, though she didna gie me ony great encouragement
at first, yet, in a week or twa, after the ice was fairly broken, she
became remarkably ceevil, and gied me her oxter on a Sunday. We used to
saunter about the loanings, no saying meikle, but unco happy; and I was
aye restless whan I was out o’ her sight. Ye may guess that the shoemaker
was nae loser by it during the six months that I ran four times a-week,
wet or dry, between Birgham and Riselaw. But the term-time was drawing
nigh, and I put the important question, and pressed her to name the day.
She hung her head, and she seemed no to ken weel what to say; for she was
sae mim and sae gentle then, that ye wad hae said ‘butter wadna melt in
her mouth.’ And when I pressed her mair urgently—
‘I’ll just leave it to
yersel, Peter,’ says she.
"I thocht my heart wad
louped out at my mouth. I believe there never was a man sae beside himsel’
wi’ joy in this warld afore. I fairly danced again, and cut as ninny
antics as a merry-Andrew. ‘O Tibby,’ says I.
"I’m owre happy now!—Oh, hand my
This gift o’ joy is like to be my dead.’"
"‘I hope no, Peter,’ said
she; ‘I wad rather hae ye to live than dee for me.’
"I thocht she was as
sensible as she was bonny, and better natured than baith.
"Weel, I got the house set
up, the wedding-day cam, and everything passed owre as agreeably as
onybody could desire. I thocht Tibby turnin’ bonnier and bonnier. For the
first five or six days after the weddin’, everything was ‘hinny,’
and ‘my love,’ and ‘Tibby, dear,’ or ‘Peter,
dear.’ But matters dinna stand lang at this. It was on a Saturday
nicht, I mind, just afore I was gaun to drap work, that three or four
acquaintances cam into the shop to wush me joy, and they insisted I should
pay off for the weddin’. Ye ken I never was behint hand; and I agreed that
I wad just fling on my coat and step up wi’ them to Orange Lane. So I gaed
into the house and took down my market coat, which was hingin’ behint the
bed; and after that I gaed to the kist to tak out a shilling or twa; for,
up to that time, Tibby had not usurped the office of Chancellor o’ the
Exchequer. I did it as cannily as I could; but she had suspected
something, and heard the jinkin’ o’ the siller.
"‘What are ye doing, Patie?’
says she—‘whar are ye gaun?’
"I had never heard her
voice hae sic a sound afore, save the first time I drew up to her, when it
was rather sharp than agreeable.
"‘Ou, my dear,’ says I,
‘I’m just gaun up to Orange Lane a wee while.’
"‘To Orange Lane!’ says
she—‘what in the name o’ fortune’s gaun to take ye there?’
"‘O hinny,’ says I, ‘it’s
just a neeber lad or twa that’s drapped in to wush us joy, and, ye ken, we
canna but be neebor-like.’
"‘Ay! the sorrow joy them!’
says she, ‘and neebor too!—an’ how meikle will that cost ye?’
"‘Hoot, Tibby,’ says I, for
I was quite astonished at her, ‘ye no understand things, woman.’
"‘No understand them!’ says
she; I wish to guidness that ye wad understand them though! If that’s the
way ye intend to mak the siller flee, it’s time there were somebody to tak
"I had put the silver in my
pocket, and I was gaun to the door mair surprised than I can weel express,
when she cried to me—
"Mind what ye spend, and
see that ye dinna stop.’
"‘Ye need be under nae
apprehensions o’ that, hinny,’ said I, wishing to pacify her.
"‘See that it be sae,’ cried she, as
I shut the door. "I joined my neebors in a state of greater uneasiness o’
mind than I had experienced for a length o’ time. I couldna help thinkin’
but that Tibby had rather early begun to tak the upper hand, and it was
what I never expected from her. However, as I was saying, we went up to
Orange Lane, and we sat doun, and ae gill brocht on anither. Tibby’s
health and mine were drunk; we had several capital sangs; and, I daresay,
it was weel on for ten o’clock afore we rose to gang awa. I was nae mair
affected wi’ drink than I am at this moment. But, somehow or ither, I was
uneasy at the idea o’ facing Tibby. I thought it would be a terrible thing
to quarrel wi’ her. I opened the door, and, bolting it after me, slipped
in, half on the edge of my fit. She was sitting wi’ her hand at her haffit
by the side o’ the fire, but she never let on that she either saw or heard
me--she didna speak a single word. If ever there was a woman
‘Nursing her wrath to keep
it was her that nicht. I
drew in a chair, and, though I was half-feared to speak—
"’What’s the matter, my
pet?’ says I—‘what’s happened ye?’
"But she sat looking into
the fire, and never let on she heard me. ‘E’ens ye like, Meg Dorts,’
thought I, as Allan Ramsay says; but I durstna say it, for I saw that
there was a storm brewing. At last, I ventured to say again—
"‘What ails ye, Tibby,
dear?—are ye no weel?’
‘Weel!’ cried she—‘wha can
be weel?’ Is this the way ye mean to carry on? What a time o’ nicht is
this to keep a body to, waiting and fretting on o’ ye, their lane? Do you
no think shame o’ yoursel’?’
"‘Hoot, woman,’ says I,
‘I’m surprised at ye; I’m sure ye hae naething to mak a wark about—it’s no
‘I dinna ken what ye ca’
late,’ said she; ‘it wadna be late among yer cronies, nae doubt; but
if it’s no late, it’s early, for I warrant its mornin’.’
‘Nonsense!’ says I.
"‘Dinna tell me its
nonsense,’ said she, ‘for I’ll be spoken to in na sic way—I’ll let you ken
that. But how meikle has it cost ye? Ye wad be treating them, nae
doubt--and how meikle hae ye spent, if it be a fair question?’
"‘Toots, Tibby!’ said I,
‘whar’s the cause for a’ this? What great deal could it cost me?’
"‘But hair by hair makes
the earle’s head bare,’ added she—‘mind ye that; and mind ye that ye’ve a
house to keep aboon your head noo. But if ye canna do it, I maun do it for
ye—sae gie me the key o’ that kist—gie me it instantly; and I’ll tak care
how ye gang drinkin’ wi’ ony body and treatin’ them till mornin’ again.’
"For the sake o’ peace I
gied her the key; for she was speakin’ sae loud that I thought a’ the
neebors wad hear—and she had nae suner got it, than awa she gaed to the
kist and counted every shilling. I had nae great abundance then mair than
I’ve now; and—
"‘Is that a’ ye hae?’ said
she; ‘an’ yet ye’ll think o’ gaun drinkin’ and treatin’ folk frae Saturday
nicht till Sabbath mornin’! If this is the life ye intend to lead, I wush
to guidness I had ne’er had onything to say to ye.’
"‘And if this is the life
ye intend to lead me,’ thought I, ‘I wush the same thing.’
"But that was but the
beginnin’ o’ my slavery. From that hour to this she has continued on from
bad to worse. No man living can form an idea o’ what I’ve suffered but
mysel. In a mornin’, or rather, I may say, in a forenoon, for it was aye
nine or ten o’clock afore she got up, she sat doun to her tea and white
scones and butter, while I had to be content wi’ a scrimpit bicker o’
brose and sour milk for kitchen. Nor was this the warst o’t; for, when I
cam in frae my wark for my breakfast, mornin’ after mornin’, the fire was
black out; and there had I, before I could get a bite to put in my mouth,
to bend doun upon my knees and blaw it, and blaw it, till I was half-blind
wi’ ashes—for we hadna a pair o’ bellowses; and there wad she lie grumblin’
a’ the time, ca’in me useless this, and useless that; and I
just had to put up wi’ it. But, after our first bairn was born, she grew
far worse, and I becam’ mair and mair miserable every day. If I had been
sleeping through the nicht, and the bairn had begun a kickin’, or whingin’—
then she was at the scoldin’, and I was sure to be started out o’ my sleep
wi’ a great drive atween the shouthers, and her crying—
"‘Get up, ye lazy body,
ye—get up, and see what’s the maiter wi’ this bairn.’
"An’ this was the trade
half-a-dizen o’ times in a nicht.
"At last, there was ae day,
when a’ that I had dune was simply saying a word about the denner no bein’
ready, and afore ever I kenned whar I was, a cracky-stool that she had
bought for the bairn cam fleein’ across the room, and gied me a din on the
elbow, that made me think my arm was broken. Ye may guess what a stroke it
was, when I tell ye I couldna lift my hand to my head for a week to come.
Noo, the like o’ that, ye ken, was what mortal man couldna stand.
"‘Tibby,’ said I, and I
looked very desperate and determined, ‘what do you mean by this conduct?
By a’ that’s gracious, I’ll no put up wi’ it ony langer!’
"‘Ye’ll no put up wi’ it,
ye cratur!’ said she; ‘if ye gie me ony mair o’ yer
provocation, I’ll pu’ yer lugs for ye—wull ye put up wi’ that?’
"It was terrible for a man
to hear his am wife ca’ him a cratur/—just as if I had been
a monkey or a laupdoug!
"‘O ye disdainfu’ limmer,’
thought I; ‘but if I could humble your proud spirit, I wad do it!’ Weel,
there was a grand new ballant hawkin’ about the country at the time—it was
ca’d Watty and Meg—ye have nae doubt scen’t. Meg was just such a
terrible termagant as my Tibby; and I remembered the perfect reformation
that was wrought upon her by Watty’s bidding her fareweel, and threatenin’
to list. So it just struck me that I wad tak a leaf out o’ the ballant.
Therefore, keeping the same serious and determined look, for I was in no
humour to seem otherwise—‘Tibby,’ says I, ‘there shall be nae mair o’
this. But I will gang and list this very day, and ye’ll see what will come
owre ye then—ye’ll maybe repent o’ yer conduct whan it’s owre late.’
"‘List! ye totum
ye!’ said she; ‘do ye say list?’ and she said this in a
tone and wi’ a look o’ derision that gied through my very soul. ‘What
squad will ye list into?— what regiment will tak ye? Do ye intend to list
for a fifer laddie?’ And as she said this, she held up her oxter, as to
tak me below’t.
"I thought I wad hae
drapped doun wi’ indignation. I could hae strucken her, if I durst. Ye
observe I am just five feet twa inches and an eighth, upon my stockin’-soles.
That is rather below the army standard—and I maun say it’s a very foolish
standard; for a man o’ my height stands a better chance to shoot anither
than a giant that wad fire owre his head. But she was aware that I was
below the mark, and my threat was of no avail; so I had just to
slink awa into the shop, rubbin’ my elbow.
"But the cracky-stool was
but the beginnin’ o’ her drivin’; there wasna a week after that but she
let flee at me whatever cam in the way, whenever I, by accident, crossed
her cankered humour. It’s a wonder that I’m in the land of the living; for
I’ve had the skin peeled off my legs—my arms maistly broken—my head cut,
and ither parts o’ my body a’ black and blue, times out o’ number. I
thought her an angel when I was courtin’ her; but, O Robin! she has turned
out—I’ll no say what—an adder!— a teeger!—a she fury!
"As for askin’ onybody into
the house, it’s a thing I durstna do for the life that’s in my body. I
never did it but ance, and that was whan an auld schulefellow, that had
been several years in America, ca’ed at the shop to see me. After we had
cracked a while—
"‘But I maun see the wife,
Patie,’ says he.
"Whether he had heard about
her behaviour or no, I canna tell; but, I assure ye, his request was
onything but agreeable to me. However, I took him into the house, and I
introduced him wi’ fear and tremblin’.
"‘Tibby, dear,’ said I—‘and
I dinna think I had ca’ed her dear for ten years
afore—‘here’s Mr. W—, an auld schulefellow o’ mine, that’s come a’ the way
frae America, an’ ca’ed in to see ye.’
‘Ye’re aye meetin’ wi’ auld
schulefellows, or some set or ither, to tak ye aff yer wark,’ muttered
she, sulkily, but loud enough for him to hear.
"I was completely at a loss
what to do or say next; but, pretending as though I hadna heard her, I
said, as familiarly and kindly as I could, though my heart was in a
terrible swither—‘Bring out the bottle, lass.’
"‘Bottle!’ quo’ she, ‘what
bottle? what does the man mean?—has he pairted with the little sense that
he ever had?’ But had ye seen her as she said this!—I’ve seen a cloud
black when driven wi’ a hurricane, and I’ve seen it awfu’ when roarin’ in
the agony o’ thunder; but never did I see onything that I was mair in fear
o’ than my wife’s face at that moment. But, somehow or ither, I gathered
courage to say—‘Hoots, woman, what’s the use o’ behavin’ that way? I’m
sure ye ken weel aneugh it’s the speerit bottle.’
"‘The speerit bottle!’
cried she, wi’ a scream; ‘and when was there a speerit bottle within this
door? Dinna show yoursel’ aff to your American freend for a greater man
than ye are, Patie. I think, if wi’ a’ that ye bring in, I get meat and
bits o’ duds for your bairns, I do very weel.’
"This piece o’ impudence
completely knocked me stupid, for, wad ye believe it, Robin, though she
had lang driven a’ my friends frae about the house, yet never did ony o’
her friends ca’—and that was maistly every Sunday, and every
Coldstream market-day—but there was the bottle out frae the cupboard,
which she aye kept under lock and key; and a dram, and a bit short-bread
nae less, was aye and to this day handed round to every ane o’ them. They
hae discovered that it’s worth while to make Patie the bicker-maker’s a
half-way house. But, if I happen to be in when they ca’, though she pours
out a fu’ glass a-piece for them, she takes aye guid care to stand in
afore me when she comes to me, between them and me, so that they canna see
what she is doing, or how meikle she pours out; and, I assure ye,
it is seldom a thimble-fu’ that fa’s to my share, though she hands the
bottle lang up in her hand—mony a time, no a weetin’; and, again and again
have I shoved ny head past her side, and said—‘Your health, Mrs.
So-and-so’—or, ‘Yours, Mr. Such-a-thing,’ wi’ no as meikle in my glass as
wad droun a midge. Or, if I was sae placed that she durstna but, for
shame, fill a glass within half-an-inch o’ the tap or sae, she wad gie me
a look, or a wink, or mak a motion o’ some kind, which weel did I ken the
meanin’ o’, and which was the same as saying—‘Drink it if ye daur!’ O
Robin, man! its weel for ye that no kens what it is to be a footba’ at
your ain fireside. I daresay, my freend burned at the bane for me; for he
got up, and—
"‘I wish you good day, Mr.
Crichton,’ said he; ‘I have business in Kelso to-night yet, and can’t
"I was perfectly overpowed
wi’ shame; but it was a relief to me when he gaed awa—and I slipped out
after him, and into the shop again.
"‘But Tibby’s isna the only
persecution that I hae to put up ‘wi’; for we has five bairns, and she’s
brought them a’ up to treat me as she does hersel’. If I offer to correct
them, they cry out—‘I’ll tell my mither! ‘—and frae the auldest to the
youngest o’ them, when they speak about me, it is he did this, or
he did that—they for ever talk o’ me as him! him! I
never got the name o’ faither frae ane o’ them—and it’s a’ her
doings. Now, I just ask ye simply if ony faither would put up wi’ the like
o’ that! But I maun put up wi’t. If I were offering to lay hands upon them
for’t, I am sure and persuaded she wad raise a’ Birgham about me—my life
wadna be safe where she is—but, indeed, I needna say that, for it never
"But there is ae thing that
grieves me beyond a’ that I hae mentioned to ye. Ye ken my mither, puir
auld body, is a widow now. She is in the seventy-sixth year o’ her age,
and very frail. She has naebody to look after her but me—naebody that has
a natural right to do it; for I never had ony brothers, as ye ken; and, as
for my twa sisters, I daresay they just hae a sair aneugh fecht wi’ their
ain families, and as they are at a distance, I dinna ken how they are
situated wi’ their guidmen—though I maun say for them, they sand her a
stane o’ oatmeal, an ounce o’ tobaooo, or a pickle tea and sugar now and
then, which is very likely as often as they hae it in their power; and
that is a great deal mair than I’m allowed to do for her—me
that has a right to protect and maintain her. A’ that she has to support
her is fifteen pence a-week aff the parish o’ Mertoun. O Robin, man!
Robin, man!—my heart rugs within me, when I talk to
you about this. A’ that I has endured is naething to it! To see my puir
auld mither in a state o’ starvation, and not to be allowed to gie her a
six-pence! O Robin, man !—Robin, man!—is it no awfu’? When she was first
left destitute, and a widow, I tried to break the matter to Tibby, and to
reason wi’ her.
"‘O Tibby, woman!’ said I,
‘I’m very distressed. Here’s my faither laid in the grave, and I dinna see
to come o’ my mither, puir body—she is auld, and she is frail—she has
naebody to look after or provide for her but me.’
"‘You!’ cried Tibby—‘you! I
wush ye wad mind what ye are talkin’ about! Ye have as many dougs, I can
tell ye, as ye hae banes to pike! Let your mither do as ither widows has
done before her—let the parish look after her.’
"‘O Tibby, woman!’ said I;
‘but if ye’ll only consider— the parish money is very sma’, and, puir
body, it will mak her heart sair to receive a penny o’t; for she weel kens
that my faither would rather hae deed in a ditch than been behauden to
either a parish or an individual for a sixpence.’
"‘An’ meikle they hae made
by their pride,’ said Tibby. ‘I wush ye wad haud your tongue.’
"‘Ay, but Tibby,’ says I,
for I was nettled mair than I durst show it, ‘but she has been a guid
mother to me, and ye ken yersel’ that she’s no been an guid-mother
to ye. She never stood in the way o’ you and me comin’ thegither, though I
was paying six shillings a-week into the house.’
"‘And what am I obliged to
her for that?’ interrupted my Jezebel.
"’I dinna ken, Tibby,’ says
I, ‘but its a hard thing for a son to see a mother in want when he can
assist her. Now, it isna meikle she takes—she never was used wi’ dainties;
and, if I may just tak her hame, little will serve her, and her meat will
ne’er be missed.
"‘Ye born idiot!’ cried Tibby. ‘I
aye thought ye a fule —but ye are warse than a fule! Bring your mither
here. An auld, cross-grained, faut-finding wife, that I ne’er could hae
patience to endure for ten minutes in my days! Bring her here, say ye! No!
while I live in this house, I’ll let ye ken that I’ll be
"‘Ay, and maister too,’
thought I. I found it was o’ nae use to argue wi’ her. There was
nae possibility of getting my mither into the house; and as to assisting
her wi’ a shillin’ or twa at a time by chance, or paying her house-rent,
or sending her a load o’ coals, it was perfectly out o’ the question, and
beyond my power. Frae the night that I went to Orange Lane to this moment,
I hae never had a sixpence under my thumb that I could ca’ my ain. Indeed,
I never hae money in my hands, unless it be on a day like this, when I hae
to gang to a fair, or the like o’ that; and even then, before I start, her
leddyship sees every bowie, bicker, and piggin, that gangs into the
cart—she kens the price o’ them as weel as I do; and if I shouldna bring
hame either money or goods according to her valuation, I actually believe
she wad murder me. There is nae cheatin’ her. It is by mere chance that
having had a gude market, I’ve outreached her the day by a shillin’ or twa;
and ane o’ them I’ll spend wi’ you, Robin, and the rest shall gang to my
mither. O man! ye may bless your stars that you dinna ken what it is to
hae a termagant wife.
"I’m sorry for ye, Patie,"
said Robin Roughead, "but really I think, in a great measure, ye hae
yoursel’ to blame for it a’!"
"Me!" said Patie—"what do
you mean, Robin?"
"Why, Patie," said Robin,
"I ken that its said that every ane can rule a bad wife but he that has
her—and I believe it is true. I am quite convinced that naebody kens sae
weel where the shoe pinches as they that hae it on, though I am quite
satisfied that, had my case been yours, I wad hae brought her to her
senses long afore now, though I had
‘Dauded her lugs wi’ Rab
or glen her a hoopin’
like your friend the cooper o’ Coldingham."
"Save us, man!" said Patie,
who loved a joke, even though at second hand, and at his own expense; "but
ye see the cooper’s case is not in point, though I am in the same line;
for, as I hae observed, I am only five feet twa inches and an eight in
height--my wife is not the weaker vessel— that I ken to my sorrow."
"Weel, Patie," said Robin,
"I wadna hae ye to lift your hand—I was but jokin’ upon that score, it
wadna be manly—but there is ae thing that ye can do, and I am sure it wad
hae an excellent effect."
"Dearsake! what is that?"
"For a’ that has happened
ye," said Robin, "ye hae just yoursel’ to blame, for giein’ up the key and
the siller to her management that night ye gaed to Orange Lane. That is
the short and the lang o’ a’ your troubles, Patie."
"Do ye think sae?"
inquired the little bicker-maker.
"Yes, I think sae, Patie,
and I sae it," said Robin; "and there is but ae remedy left."
"And what is that?"
asked Patie, eagerly.
"Just this," said Robin—"stop
"Stop the supplies!"
returned Patie—"what do you mean, Robin?—I canna say that I fully
"I just mean this," added
the other, "be your ain banker—your ain cashier—be maister o’ your ain
siler—let her find that it is to you she is indebted for every penny she
has the power to spend; and if ye dinna bring Tibby to reason and kindness
within a month, my name’s no Robin Roughead."
"Do ye think that wad do
it?" said Patie.
"If that wadna, naething
wad," answered Robin; but try it for a twelvemonth—begin this very nicht;
and if we baith live and be spared to this time next year, I’ll meet ye
again, and I’ll be the death o’ a mutchkin, but that ye tell me Tibby’s a
different woman—your bairns different—your hail house different—and your
old mither comfortable."
"O man, if it might be
sae," said Patie; "but this very nicht, the moment I get hame, I’ll try
it—and, if I succeed, I’ll treat ye wi’ a bottle o’ wine, and I believe I
never drank ane in my life."
"Agreed," said Robin; "but
mind ye’re no to do things by halves. Ye’re no to be feared out o’ your
resolution because Tibby may fire and storm, and let drive the things in
the house at ye—nor even though she should greet."
"I thoroughly understand,"
said Patie; "my resolution’s ta’en, and I’ll stand by it."
"Gie’s your hand on’t,"
said Robin, and Patie gave him his hand.
Now the two friends parted,
and it is unnecessary for me either to describe their parting, or the
reception which Patie, on his arriving at Birgham, met with from his
Twelve months went round,
Dunse fair came again, and after the fair was over, Patie Crichton once
more went in quest of his old friend, Robin Roughead. He found him
standing in the horse market, and— "How’s a’ wi’ ye, my friend?"
"Oh, hearty, hearty," cries
the other; "but how’s a’ wi’ ye?—how is yer family?"
"Come and get the bottle o’
wine that I’ve to gie ye," said Patie, "and I’ll tell ye a’ about it."
"I’ll do that," said Robin,
"for my business is dune."
So they went into the same
house in the Castle Wynd where they had been twelve months before, and
Patie called for a bottle of wine; but he found that the house had not the
wine license, and was therefore content with a gill of whisky made into
"O man," said he to Robin, "I wad
pay ye half-a-dizen bottles o’ wine wi’ as great cheerfu’ness as I raise
this glass to my lips. It was a grand advice that o’ yours—
stop the supplies."
"I am glad to hear it,"
said Robin; "I was sure it was the only thing that wad do."
"Ye shall hear a’ about
it," said Patie! "After parting wi’ ye, I trudged hame to Birgham, and
when I got to my house—before I had the sneck o’ the door weel out o’ my
"‘What’s stopped ye to this
time o’ night, ye fitless, feckless cratur, ye?’ cried Tibby—whar hae ye
been?—gie an account o’ yoursel’!’
"‘An account o’ mysel’!’
says I, and I gied the door a drive ahint me, as if I wad driven it off
the hinges—‘for what should I gie an account o’ mysel’?—or wha should gie
it to? I suppose this house is my ain, and I can com in and gang out when
"‘Yours!’ cried she; ‘is
the body drank?’
"‘No,’ says I; ‘I’m no
drunk, but I wad hae you to be decent. Where is my supper?—it is time that
I had it.’
"‘Ye micht hae come in in
time to get it then,’ said she ‘folk canna keep suppers waitin’ on you.’
"‘But I’ll gang whar I can
get it,’ said I; and I offered to leave the house.
"‘I’ll tak the life o’ ye
first,’ said she. ‘Gie me the siller. Ye had five cogs, a dizen o’
bickers, twa dizen o’ piggins, three bowies, four cream
dishes, and twa ladles, besides the wooden spoons that I packed up mysel’.
Gie me the siller,—and, you puir profligate, let me see what ye hae
"‘Gie you the siller!’ says
I; ‘na, na, I’ve dune that lang aneugh—I has stopped the supplies,
"‘Stop your breath!’ cried
she; ‘gie me the siller, every farthin’, or wo betide ye.’
"It was needless for her to
say every farthin’; for had I dune as I used to do, I kenned she
wad search through every pocket o’ my claes the moment she thocht me
asleep—through every hole and corner o’ them, to see if I had cheated her
out o’ a single penny—ay, and tak them up, and shake them, and shake them,
after a’ was due. But I was determined to stand fast by your advice.
‘Do as ye like,’ says I; ‘I’ll bring
ye to your senses— I hae stopped the
"She saw that I wasna
drunk, and my manner rather dumfoundered her a little. The bairns—wha, as
I have tauld ye, she aye encouraged to mock me—began to giggle at me, and
to mak’ game o’ me, as usual. I banged out o’ the house, and into the
shop, and I took down the belt o’ the bit turning lathe, and into the
house I goes again wi’ it in my hand.
"‘Wha maks a fule o’ me
now?’ says I.
"And they a’ laughed
thegither, and I up wi’ the belt and I loundered them round the house and
round the house, till ane screamed and anither screamed, and even their
mither got clouts in trying to run betwixt them and me; and it was wha to
squeel loudest. Sae, after I had brocht them a’ to ken what I was; I awa
yont to my mither’s, and I gied her five shillings, puir body; and after
stoppin’ an hour wi’ her, I gaed back to the house again. The bairns were
a-bed, and some o’ them were still sobbin’, and Tibby was sittin’ by the
fire; but she didna venture to say a word—I had completely astonished
her—and as little said I.
"There wasna a word passed
between us for three days. I was beginning to carry my head higher in the
house, and on the fourth day I observed that she had nae tea to her
breakfast. A day or twa after, the auldest lassie cam to me ae morning
about ten o’clock, and says she—
"Faither, I want siller for
tea and sugar.’
"‘Gae back to them that
sent ye,’ says I, ‘and tell them to fare as I do, and they’ll save the tea
"‘But it is of nae use
dwellin’ upon the subject. I did stop the supplies most effectually. I
very soon brocht Tibby to ken wha was her bread-winner. An’ when I
saw that my object was accomplished, I showed mair kindness and affection
to her than ever I had dune. The bairns became as obedient as lambs, and
she soon came to say—‘Patie, should I do this thing?’—or ‘Patie, should I
do that thing?’ So, when I had brocht her that far—‘Tibby,’ says I, ‘we
hae a butt and a ben, and it’s grievin’ me to see my auld mither starvin’,
and left by hersel’ wi naebody to look after her. I think I’ll bring her
hame the morn— she’ll aye be o’ use to keep the house--she’ll can knit the
bairn’s stockin’s or darn them when they are out o’ the heels.’
"‘Weel, Patie,’ said Tibby,
‘I’m sure it’s as little as a son can do, and I’m perfectly agreeable.’
"I banged up—flung my arms
round Tibby’s neck— Oh! bless ye, my dear!’ says I; ‘bless ye for that’!—
there’s the key o’ the kist and the siller—from this time henceforth do wi’
it what ye like.’
"Tibby grat. My mother cam
hame to my house the next day. Tibby did everything to mak her
comfortable— a’ the bairns ran at her bidden’—and, frae that day to this,
there isna a happier man on this wide world than Patie Crichton the
bicker-maker of Birgham.