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Comic Tales
The Wee Bunnock


Listen to this in Real Audio
Many thanks to Marilyn Wright and the Flag in the Wind for this recording

"Some tell about their sweethearts, how they tirled them to the winnock, 
[Tapped at the window to bring them out]
But I’ll tell you a bonny tale about a guid aitmeal bunnock."

THERE lived an auld man and an auld wife at the side o’ a burn. They had twa kye, five hens and a cock, a cat and twa kittlins. The auld man lookit after the kye, and the auld wife span on the tow-rock. [Spinning-wheel] The kittlins aft grippit at the auld wife’s spindle, as it tussled owre the hearth-stane. "Sho, sho," she wad say; "gae wa’," and so it tussled about.

Ae day, after parritch-time, she thought she would ha’e a bunnock. Sae she bakit twa aitmeal bunnocks, and set them to the fire to harden. After a while, the auld man came in, and sat down aside the fire, and takes ane o’ the bunnocks, and snappit it through the middle. When the tither ane sees this, it rins all as fast as it could, and the auld wife after’t, wi’ the spindle in the tae hand and the tow-rock in the tither. But the wee bunnock wan awa’, and out o’ sight, and ran till it came to a guid muckle thack house, [Good big thatched house] and ben [In] it ran boldly to the fireside; and there were three tailors sitting on a muckle table. When they saw the wee bunnock come ben, they jumpit up, and gat in ahint the guidwife, that was cardin’ tow ayont the fire. "Hout," quo’ she, "be na fleyt; [Frightened] it’s but a wee bunnock. Grip it, and I’ll gie ye a soup milk till’t." Up she gets wi’ the tow-cards, and the tailor wi’ the goose, and the twa ‘prentices, the ane wi’ the muckle shears, and the tither wi’ the lawbrod; Ironing-board]; but it jinkit [Dodged] them, and ran round about the fire; and ane o’ the ‘prentices, thinking to snap it wi’ the shears, fell i’ the ase-pit. The tailor cuist [Cast] the goose, and the guidwife the tow-cards; but a’ wadna do. The bunnock wan awa’, and ran till it came to a wee house at the roadside; and in it rins, and there was a weaver sittin’ on the loom, and the wife winnin’ a due o’ yarn.

"Tibby," quo’ he, "what’s tat?" "Oh," quo’ she, "it’s a wee bunnock." "It’s weel come," quo’ he, "for our sowens [Pottage] were but thin the day. Grip it, my woman; grip it." "Ay," quo’ she; "what recks! That’s a clever bunnock. Kep, [Catch] Willie; kep, man." "Hout," quo’ Willie; "cast the clue at it." But the bunnock whipit round about, and but the floor, [Toward the door] and aff it gaed, and owre the knowe, [Knoll] like a new-tarred sheep or a daft yell cow. [A cow that has ceased to give milk] And forrit it runs to the neist house, and ben to the fireside. And there was the guidwife kirnin’. [Churning] "Come awa’, wee bunnock," quo’ she; "I’se hae ream [Cream] and bread the day." But the wee bunnock whipit round about the kirn, and the wife after’t, and i’ the hurry she had near-hand coupit the kim. [Overturned the churn] And afore she got it set right again, the wee bunnock was aff, and down the brae to the mill. And in it ran.

The miller was siftin’ meal i’ the trough; but, looking up, "Ay," quo’ he, "it’s a sign o’ plenty when ye’re rinnin’ about, and naebody to look after ye. But I like a bunnock and cheese. Come your wa’s ben, and I’ll gie ye a night’s quarters." But the bunnock wadna trust itsel’ wi’ the miller and his cheese. Sae it turned and ran its wa’s out; but the miller didna fash his head wi’t. [Didn't trouble his head with it] So it toddled awa’, and ran till it came to the smithy. And in it tins, and up to the studdy. [Anvil] The smith was making horse-nails. Quo’ he, "I like a bicker o’ guid yill [A stoup of good ale] and a weel-toastit bunnock. Come your wa’s in by here." But the bunnock was frightened when it heard about the yill, and turned and aff as hard as it could, and the smith after’t, and cuist the hammer. But it whirlt awa’, and out o’ sight in a crack, and ran till it came to a farm-house wi’ a guid muckle peat-stack at the end o’t. Ben it rins to the fireside. The guidman was clovin’ lint, [Separating lint from the stalk] and the guidwife hecklin’. [Dressing flax] "Oh, Janet," quo’ he, "there’s a wee bunnock; I’se ha’e the hauf o’t" "Weel, John, I’se ha’e the tither hauf. Hit it owre the back wi’ the clove." But the bunnock playt jink-about ["Catch me if you can] "Hout tout," quo’ the wife, and gait the heckle flee at it. [Let fly the comb at it] But it was owre clever for her. 

And aff and up the burn it ran to the neist house, and whirit its wa’s ben to the fireside. The guidwife was stirrin’ the sowens, and the guidman plettin’ spret-binnings for the kye. [Plaiting straw-rope for the cows] "Ho, Jock," quo’ the guidwife, "come here. Thou’s aye crying about a wee bunnock. Here’s ane. Come in, haste ye, and I’ll help thee to grip it." "Ay, mither, whaur is’t?" "See there. Rin owre o’ that side." But the bunnock ran in ahint the guidman’s chair. Jock fell among the sprits. The guidman cuist a binning, and the guidwife the spurtle. [Stick used for stirring porridge] But it was owre clever for Jock and her baith. It was aff and out o’ sight in a crack, and through among the whins, [Furze] and down the road to the neist house, and in, and ben to the fireside. The folk were just sittin’ down to their sowens, and the guidwife scartin’ the pat. [Scraping the pot] "Losh," quo’ she, "there’s awee bunnock come in to warm itsel’ at our fireside." "Steek [Fasten] the door," quo’ the guidman, "and we’ll try to get a grip o’t." When the bunnock heard that, it ran but the house, and they after’t wi’ their spunes, and the guidman cuist his bunnat. Bonnet, cap] But it whirlt awa’, and ran, and better ran, till it came to another house. And when it gaed ben, the folk were just gaun to their beds. The guidman was castin’ aff his breeks, and the guidwife rakin’ the fire. "What’s tat?" quo’ he. "Oh," quo’ she, "it’s a wee bunnock." Quo’ he, "I could eat the hauf o’t, for a’ the brose I hae suppit." "Grip it," quo’ the wife, "and I’ll hae a bit too." "Cast your breeks at it— kep—kep!" The guidman cuist the breeks, and had near-hand smoor’t [Smothered] it. But it warsl’t [Struggled] out, and ran, and the guidman after’t, wanting the breeks. And there was a clean chase owre the craft [Croft] park, and up the wunyerd, and in amang the whins. And the guidman lost it, and had to come his wa’s trottin’ hame hauf nakit. But now it was grown dark, and the wee bunnock couldna see; but it gaed into the side o’ a muckle whin bush, and into a tod’s hole. [A fox's hole] The tod had gotten nae meat for twa days. "Oh, welcome, welcome," quo’ the tod, and snappit it in twa i’ the middle. And that was the end o’ the wee bunnock.

"Now, be ye lords or commoners, 
Ye needna laugh nor sneer, 
For ye’ll be a’ i’ the tod’s hole 
In less than a hunner year."


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