AT the time Andrew M’Farlane lived and drove the
shuttle, handloom weaving was the most lucrative of the handicrafts, the
result of four days’ labour sufficing to keep a family for
a week, and, with those who were provident, it left something over and
above. Andrew was rather particular in his living; animal food was
generally present on his table at dinner; on Sabbath it was never absent,
and, if possible, of a superior quality.
"I like," said Andrew, "to comfort myself and family on
the day of rest, and to see the kail-pot prinkling on the head as if
launner-beeds had been sawn on’t; my stamack is aye mair thankf a’ after a
platefu’ or twa o' them—no sae wi’ your thin, blue ruin-looking kail that
look just like meltit whunstane."
Mrs. M’Farlane was not so particular; she looked more
to the sum total in the expenditure, and the saving that could be
effected, than the quality of the butcher’s wares. One day the thought
struck her, and, like many a rib since the days of Eve, she broke out into
an exclamation against Andrew, because, forsooth, he had not thought of
the thing that had not previously occurred to herself.
"Man, Andrew, I wonder at you—you an eident, carefu’
man, that are aye sae particular about the meat you get, and dinna think
o’ the price—if it please ye—winna ye gang to Ruglen and buy a mart—cow or
ox ?—the verra brock o’ the beast wad sair our family for a haill month."
"Weel, guidewife," said Andrew, "I’se tak’ your bidding
for ance, and see what gude comes o’t."
Some time afterwards, Andrew was passing his butcher’s
stall, and was hailed by the man of the cleaver, who naturally inquired
what had become of his customer.
"It’s nae fau’t o’ mine, I can assure ye," replied
Andrew. "To tell you the truth, I was advised by a frien’ to gang to
Ruglen and buy a mart for mysel’, so I gaed out and coft a carcass wi’ a
hide on’t; nae doubt I got a living beast, but when my mart was hung up
and hided ye micht ha’e read Josephus through the ribs o’t."