A Scottish Packman in a Sad Plight.
Clutha Leader , Putanga 29, 28 Kohitātea 1875, Page 2
A Scottish Packman m a Sad Plight.
The first time that I clappit my een on the grand city o' Aberdeen was on a clear 1 ,, snell day m December. I was gaun to stay a week or sac to mak' up a gride big* pack to carry wi' me farrer north ; and after wandering through the braw streets, and admiring 1 the sweeping river, wi' its fine lovers' walks wp ilka side,, and a' the grand folk; students, and what not, I took my way to a' retired "and respectable street m search of my lodging for the week. I had the address of a Miss Katie Crosiecrum written on a card, which had been gien me by an acquaintance having a great respect for me j but what the name of the street written thereon was I will not here set doon, though m a confidental way I might tell it to ony o' my readers mair than twenty miles frae that city. The street wasna ill to find, seeing that nearly every window m it had a ticket wi' " Lodginos" or "Apartments" on it m big printed letters, thu3 indicating that a gey wheen puir bodies had been robuit of their main stay m life, and were thus reduced to that uncertain drudgery as a mean's of haudingin life. Miss Crosiecrum's I very soon pickit oot by simply searching oot the number, and then, according to the directions, climbing up to near the tap of a very long stair, which, young as I was then, made me pech like an auld coo. The lady hersel' gey auld for a Miss, I can tell ye ; but upon that we'll pit oor thoomb — when I rang the bell and presented my note of introduction, lookit at me' gey an sharply, as if I was rather countrifeed and heavy m the clutes for her fine carpets ; but, after a word or two from my captivating tonge, she got very friendly, and sune showed me into a very snug bit parlor, which she' placed at my disposal for the week, or such time as I choose to remain, Then I laid doon some bits o' parcels, and my plaid, and a pair o' new buits I had bought ; and she whuppit them up and ntowed them awa' m a press m the corner ; and then I ventured to say till her that I was gaen oot to see an auld freend, and wad not be back till it was late. " Then ye maun be very particular no to ring the wrang bell," she said, m warnicement. " The folk aboot this stair are onything but freendly wi' me, because I get mair lodgers than ony o' them ; so, as a' the dirdum wad fa' on me, I'll be obleeg'edto ye if yell be very careful on that point." " There's no the slightest danger o' me brin^in' ony sic stramash doon aboot your lugs, ma'am," I confidently made answer. "In fact, I'll no ring the bell ava, if ye like to lend me a passkey. I'm a sober man, as thoosands can testify, and will just open the door cannily, and slip m athoot disturbin' a moose.? This arrangement appeared to gie her the utmost satisfaction, and after telling her to set oot a wee bit chack of supper on the. table for me afore gaun to bed, and slipping the pass-key into my pocket, I left the hoose for the cosy firesidrt of my friend, where what with stories and sangs, and laughing and daffin^, it was gey weel on for twelve o'clock afore T could tear mysel' awa'. Oot m the cauld wintry air nay movements were quickened, not only by the chapping of some o' the toon clocks, but by a remorse of conscience at having maybe keepit Miss Crosiecrum twa hoors oot o' bed beyond her proper time. I reached the stair, and begond the climbing business — it's awfu' the length o'stairs thae toonsfolk mak' to their booses — which I accomplished m the dark much easier than I had dune m the morning- in broad daylight. Very cannily, when I reached the door, I felt for the keyhole wit he tae hand, while I slippit forrit the pass-key wi' the tither ; and then, having opened the door and softly sneckit it ahint me, I crossed the lobby and entered the wee parlour, which I "made , sure o' by its being the one nearest the door. . In«ide wos glad to see that Miss Crosiecrum had thought that muckle o' my arrival as to mak' some alterations and improvements on the room m my absence, by putting m a thicker and cosier hearthrug, and shading the gas wi' a nice glass globe, wi' : tangly-wangly crystal things honging at it, which. I; remembered wasna there when first T was shown m. But though pleased at this thoughtfulness on her part, and her regard for my comfort as shown m the addition of warm curtains to the bed, I lookit glum enough, when I turned my e'e on the table on which she had spread my bit supper. It was rery nicely set oot — there's nae doubt aboot that — a plate o' cauld meat, a bottle o' pickles/ a bit cheese, arid a wee dish of; champit tatties, standing on the hob to keep warmyand ac look at it, with the glittering trays, spunes, knives, and j what not, set my mouth watering 'on the instant. But it was the expense I was thinking on. Hooever muckle a bodie might like- to eaVthin'gs; ! it's ! np; just right to dae it when they're no able to pay for them. . ' " Go, tbis is right doon.axtravagant," I remarkit,. eyeing, the dainty supper, and gulpjng doon a mouthfu' o', water that had gathered mmy jftfoat. *' A wee platie o- parritch and a 'bawbee's •worth o' milk is' "a' that: Xieed jfor ordinal, and'l think I telt her sac w&eri engaging the room? *HooeW, ,as I'll hae to pay for this noo that- itVbfcen
procured and brought m, I may as weel eat it, and correct the mistake m the morning-. It's a' mv am faut for bidin' sac late oot on my" first night m a strange toon." Wi' that I drew m my chair and set to, the long talking and walking having made me yap enough to have eaten a cuddie to" the very tail, and very sune I had afore me naething but twa- three bones, some fragments of cheese, and a. wee r ta^t pickles which I couldna * rhanag^.l j couldna say but on the whole" I enjoyed it — though the pickle*^-v.ere^g«yan^nippy^an^that~ after a was owre, and my taes thrust into a pair of cosy slippers, which had I been --left r _on r theJße^br!^fo^m^uße^. ,and my^pipe in^my cheek; gaun like a" steam-engine, I-felt aV^peace~.wi' j^, mankind. ; I lqqkit rqond on -the com-' fortable furnism'ngs of* the "room, and after estimating -their cost, after a fashion of mine,-, I philosophised on hoo much mair scqdly I was then boused than I, had whiles-been r on mony, a far caiilder and" mair' tempiestuous injcht; and then, beginning to feel droWsy, 1 1 at last left the warm fire, slippit aff .my claes, put ;.my_, buits jthe door, to be brushed the morning, &nd after putting oot the -'light &nd saving my prayers, laydoon. to try and steep. But, alas, the "supper I had ta'eh did not prove so conducive to sle6p as the simple bit; platieo' pamtch to, which I was accustomed. I rowed abobt m, the saft and cosy bed—^-L; turned on every side — I repeated, the 119 th Psalm-^I coonted aboof twa thousand fmdginary sheep louping; owre a- dyke— but no a wink wad cros< my e'e. When this had gaen on for mair than an hour, and F was at last doveriug on the borders of dreamland, I was roused up , by hearing a staggering foot .ascend 1 the stane stairs, and stopping at last afore the door of the house m which I was : lodged. . "Hout awa'," says I to mysel', tl there's ne'er a bad but there micht be a waur. I thocht mysel' late ; but here's ane o' Miss Crosicrum's lodgers a hantle later— only he seems to be foo, while I cam' hame sober." I listened wtf muckle interest to a' his movements, having naething mair important to tak' up my attention j and after about five minutes' : fumbling and graping owre the door I heard him insert a pass-key, stotter into the lobby and close the door. This was a' very good and proper j but his next movement did not. gie me quite sac muckle satisfaction. Stotting.owre the lobby he begoud to feel with his hand owre the door o' my apartment till I started up on my arm, and keeking through the drawn curtains plainly saw him turn the handle; " Dog on it ! the eedit's comin' into my room !" cried I to mysel', and afore the words were weel ooten my mooth, he did come m and shut the; door ahint him as coolly and cannily as.. if the room had been- his am; Then did my momentary feeling at his stupid mistake cfiange to arie of concern and alarm, for nob if struck me that ha was m my room for nae gude, but as a robber having a long e'e to my siller and other property, and who wad not scruple gin I insisted even to tak' my life m the attempt. " My mannie, if ye think I'm sleepin' ye are far off yer eggs," thought I to mysel', wi a nicher to my am sharpness, keeping as quiet as a mouse, and edging the bed curtains closer, while . watching his every movement., lc Save us a', he canna be a robber either, for he's gaen to; licht the gas." He fumbled : aboot on the-brace for a wee, till "he got the spunks, ane of which he managed to strike); and then as the. light bleezed up I saw that he wasna an ill-faured chiei',but quite the reverse, and no unlike a student m appearance.; .Fou as he was, hooever, he nae suner, turned his. e'e on the table, where lay the remains of my supper, than a dark scowl crossed his gude-natured looking phisog, and a bit sharp oath escapit his lips. "Curses on her; what -does she /mean?" he 'cried, ans then, to/ my surprise his twa hands cam' tHegithehwi' a skelp, and he begohd sadly to shake, his pow. . . " Am T then so drunk?" he slowly askit himsel' as' "he sadly took a seat, "so drunk that I do hot remember having eaten my supper before I went .ont'f'il'' amj getting^ wcjrsß than I thought. Alas ? what would my. poor father say if '-he- knew how I am squandering 1 his mony ?". .^ It seemed to be a gie sair thought to him,,for he evengied his.een a bit dicht wi'; a braw silk hankie that he took frae his pouch ;, l?pjb after, a wee he took doon a grand meerschaum pipe whicli had been putonthe brace for my usej and was abopt to light it, when he suddenly stqpped-and^tuggit && ; hi^. buits," and then begond to poke aboot the hearthrug and under tne table, as if m search p* something. : ~Z :i ~. , ; < " Where's my slippers ?" I heard him pech pqt frae : under the table. " I'il ; swear I left them on tHe rug when I: went out.; ! Ohi? there they are, over beside the bed. /Sfie" has' lifted them over since I went out. Hang it, she might -haye 5 clia'ared away l - ;that mess from the table, at the same time. Hullo ! what, the d-^--l's f this V* and as he s"pqke ne pounced on my Greeks,- which 1 had left' on the 1 darp'et, instead of hanging them uj) at- the foot o* the bed im'.. the rest o' my claes. . Slpwljr, between his forefinger and-thopmb, jhe raised them frae the floor, handing them
oot as if they were no a harmless pail o' breeks. but a pair o' poisonous* rattlef snakes, and then another ungodly curs! at his landlady es,capitrhis lips. • I :" A pair old moleskin trousers," h| cried- with the greatest disgust, turn| ing them roond at arm's length, an# screwing.up his nose as if they werl waur than a midden to thole, " conl piderably frayed at the extremities, and' well patched at the seat curse her. J suppose she thinks this a fine practical joke to leave these m my room, and pYaps see me put them on m mistake' |rmlb^morjiing.;^7n^i>la#^prrbttr tha£ they are,,not. worth, much;, but here goes," anil rowing- them' uf> hard and r tig<h t-on.-the ta We^he-raf dy^slippiko wrei .to .the- window,- Jbangpdiit; up Jia> the tap| -and .bummed.. .them~oot l into, ihe-jdarkness as far as his strength' wad alloo. | And puir me! , What had come] owre me a,' this tinier Under ony other] I- maist certainly, wacf hae"^shouted Njo t i n time ' to v sa*ve my^ breeks^biitnow -I-Vwak convinced that an evil fortune had sent^ raying jpaniac Into my robm, r arid therefore £*, my thoughts wereta'e'n up wi' hW to escape unseen wi' my precious life.-- ; While he, therefore, was approaching ; the ' bed,; after getting .rid o' my; breeks, I was cannily slipping owre. ; at the, bacjto't, trembling m, every limb—not witty the cauld, ; which was bad .enoiigfy,, but wi' deadly ..terror, which* was, .far' There was just space, 'enough kt the other side' to let me doon'atwixt the bed an' the wa', and' "there T cruhkled dobn till my heid was nae higher >than the; bed-rdaesj and my ;bare:hurdies on the floors and; from. this, queer hidy.-hole I had the satisfaction, o'. seem' my jailor sit dopn and smoke as long W the fire lasted. 'It gaeii' oot' at last, 'however, ohd then' l s^whinl strip afFhis claes, pit oot the gas, and approach the bed, within which he was verysnuerly.'han. pit- • •:•?.■ :- :>..;:• : ■■ "Upon my word, I forgive the old ■ tormentor after all," I then - heard him mutter aloud as.he cuddled dobn m my warm place. I never knew her to warm the sheets so nicely before." Then he began a long dissertation' on other topic*, and botched, and fidgetted, but never ance seemed to think on sleep, which was the very thing I was maist ardently wishing him to set at/pot. The cauld wind cam' fuffihg through the chinks o' the floor under the bed, and gaed sliddering like icicles up: my, bare legs , and at last getting desperate, I made a stiff movement towards the front, when, as ill-luck would have it, I played dirl against something that gied oot a boss sound, and m a. moment the wakeful student was sitting bolt, upright m bed.. ( " There's a cat in ' the room," he hoarsely whispered, graiping ' his' way boten bed, and making for the fire-place. " Blast that woman, she, kno.ws I; hate cats, and she has put m her favo* | rite tabby to annoy me. Where's thai poker ? I'll tabby her ; she'll have no ] cat to-morrow to, torment me with!" I heard him reach the tongsj and: then come graiping back to the bedside crying " Pussie ! pussie !" m the maistj wheedling and endearing tone?, after' lifting the pawn and hurkling doori ready to strike, but it is needless to say that instead o' coming fomt I made every speed back towards the r wa Then, enraged beyond a'thirig at the retreating sounds, he swung: back the tongs^ crying, .•*• Oh;.* you won't. come won't you ?. You decline the iLvitajtion t Then, take that !". and m a.v in^fttjnt the tongs played crash m alow. the bed, not; on my puir shanks, but oh something far mair brittle. There was a crash and a splash ; but then, not wit he damage he had dune, . he. flung the tongs -m bodily and wi' unerring, aim right at my sark tail, which was rather shorter than .1. could hae wished,, end then for the first time I let-oot ayell like a baited ' bull,- and ; wi' cauld and terror, scurried ootTihint the bed, loupit -atour, and was oot o' the room like a' shot, wi'.'him_ahint me. ; In the lobby/ the tall white^figurejof a woman cam'.skirliDg oot o' a room opposite, and, rendered desperate and for^ getful of the shortness o' . my ; sark, I rushed up to her, crying pot— ; f Oh, Miss Crpsiecrum, save me, protect me, A manfac'has gotteri'irito my room, and nog seeks my life." A perfect hurricane o' skirling and squealing stoppit my . words. . "Miss Crosiecrum, , indeed !" she skaieghed out, shrinking back frae my trembling figure. " There's nae Miss Crosiecriim's here. Ye'U hae to gang a stair higher up to get her. But first we maun get a policeman. Seize him." Very speedily the hale noose was j upon me, and I was draggit this way :j that way, and a policeman sent for, ; and then at last the student himsel 1 , by 1 ane or twa questions, discovered that I j had gane into the wrang. lodging-^-my ane being m exactly the same "position, only a stair farrer up. And then there i was plenty o' laughing on a 1 sides, and i the bobby .himsel partook o' the whisky ) which the student produced *owre the ? heids o't,;and my breekswjore i brought : up frae the back green, anct we iad a i jolly niglit; o't; I can' tell ye. That student is now a doctor m Glasgow; and amang a' his grand acquaintances there is no sue: mair .welcome at his fim^ lioose than Johnny Geddea. ""