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THE WAYS OF THE FARM FOLK
A Servant Lassie
THE Drumtochty farmers complained a good deal of hard times, and in the last few years their profits had undoubtedly been small; yet they were careful, hardworking men, and the majority of them had money laid aside. Most of the farmhouses stood some distance from the main roads, at the end of a lane. I naturally expected, when I followed up one of these lanes, that it would lead me to the front door of the house, but the farm buildings were not arranged on the American plan. The houses turned their backs on the public approaches, just as the mansions of the gentry do, and it was often a puzzle to find the front entrance at all.
I came to know many of the farmers, and among them one called "Hillocks," who was especially friendly, and at whose house I was a frequent visitor. He was in reality a Mr. Crockett, but Hillocks was the name of his farm, and locally that was always his title. It was the same on the other farms of the glen — Ballandee, Clashiegar, Drumachar, Shilligan, etc., — their names and the names of their owners were identical to the neighbors, and when there was a change of tenants the new occupant was known by the old farm name, quite regardless of his own.
Hillocks was a good farmer, and he was now very well-to-do, or, as the Scotch say, "had his pocket full o' bawbees" (halfpence). He was elderly and bent, and wore a bushy fringe of gray beard standing out about his face, and had a stiff jungle of hair, that seemed to have had no very intimate acquaintance with a brush and comb of late. Although still hale and hearty, he had begun to feel the weight of years, and there were days when he spent most of his time just digging about the garden, or sitting by the kitchen fire. Yet he continued to be the first one up and about in the morning, and the last one to get to bed at night. His cares were many, both indoors and out, for his wife had been long dead, and he was the sole head of the household.
I felt something like an explorer of strange lands on my initial visit to Hillocks. The first buildings I encountered, as I walked up the lane to the farmhouse, were a huddle of low stone sheds. Under the eaves of one of them, almost encroaching on the wagon-track of the lane, was a manure-heap with dark, slimy streams crawling away from it across the roadway to a green, offensive pool, where the farm ducks were nosing and paddling. By going between two of the sheds I entered the farm "close," a bare earth yard walled in on three sides by the house and its outbuildings. A pet lamb with a bell tied to its neck ran out of the kitchen door to investigate me, and some loitering hens sidled about doubtfully, ready to take flight if I proved aggressive. Several heavy, two-wheeled carts, with their shafts tilted skyward, stood idle at one side, and there was a scattering of other farm machines.
Near the back door was a heavy old pump, with an accompaniment of dirty puddles and a good deal of unsightly litter. I looked in vain for some other entrance. As a matter of fact, every one went in and out this rear door, except on the occasion of a wedding or funeral or a formal call from the minister, and I fancy that many of the farm folk were only half aware they had such an institution as a front door. Even for the minister, there was no way to approach it save by going up the lane past the byres and into the close. A narrow gate in a remote corner of the close gave admittance to a hedged garden, as I discovered later, and by following a gravelled path along the house wall one reached the front entrance. The garden was filled with vegetables and small fruits, and there was no lawn. But, to compensate, the walks were very tidy, and were bordered by box and flower-beds, while the gray stone sides of the house were relieved by vines and fruit trees trained to grow up on them.
While I was hesitating in the close on my first visit to Hillocks, the housekeeper, an intelligent young woman with tousled hair, appeared at the back door and ushered me and the pet lamb into the kitchen, explaining, as she did so, that the lamb ran all over the house, upstairs and down. The room I was in had a paved floor, a wide fireplace, and deep windows. A few lines of colored crockery on the shelves of the dresser brightened the apartment a little, but on the whole it was dingy and dark, and devoid of ornament. The tables and chairs were as plain as it was possible to make them, and the tops of the former were half worn away with use and scouring.
Some lumps of soft coal were burning in the fireplace, and to hasten the fire the housekeeper added several crooked sticks of wood which showed a perverse tendency to roll out half burned on the floor, keeping the room dusky with smoke. Suspended from the crane was a big girdle (a thin disk of iron sixteen or eighteen inches across, with a bail), on which the housekeeper was baking scones. Scones are great round cakes as large as a dinner plate and about three-quarters of an inch thick. They are something like soda biscuit, but are tougher, and are best eaten cold. In looks they are not at all dainty, nor even attractive, yet spread with butter and jam they are very palatable.
I went in search of Hillocks presently. He was at the barn where the threshing-mill was running. Power was furnished by a long-armed turnabout, outdoors, to which four horses were attached. A man sat high on the hub of the contrivance, and as he revolved, encouraged the horses with a long whip. Within the barn, up in a dusty loft, I found Hillocks, assisted by a boy and a wild-looking girl, putting unthreshed oats into the mill, while down below were several men taking care of the straw and oats as they came out. The work was nearly done, and soon Hillocks accompanied me into the house. He was hospitality itself.
Ye're as welcome as the mornin'," he declared, and when he discovered that the old dwelling interested me, he showed me all over it.
"If I veesited America," said he, "ye'd shaw me all o' your hoose, noo, wouldn't ye? Well, then, I'll lat ye see all o' mine."
It was an ancient and ill-arranged structure, and disorder and bareness reigned undisputed. The lives of the inmates seemed wholly given to getting a living, and if aught beyond that was gained, it was hoarded. I suppose in large part the lacks of the average Scotch farmhouse are explained by the fact that it is not owned by its farmer occupant. What he himself does to better it he counts as thrown away. Improvements are begged from the factor, not undertaken independently, and the factor apparently is not anxious to do much beyond making the place habitable. Between the thrifty desire of both tenant and landlord to save, not spend, little is done to make the home surroundings more convenient or to improve the house and add to the indoor comforts and amenities. Cottage kitchens often had some brightness, but in the farmhouses they were apt to be dull working-rooms that to New-World eyes were grim and repellent. Indeed, all the rooms were devoid of homelikeness, and our cosey American sitting-room seemed a thing unknown.
The farm fields, in pleasant contrast with the houses, were free from weeds and under the most perfect cultivation. The furrows turned by the ploughman were absolutely straight, and the rows of tatties and neeps could hardly have been more regular. These clean fields and the care bestowed on them would have been an object-lesson to the average Yankee farmer.
Hillocks was very proud of his housekeeper, and frequently, when I called, he had her wrap up several of her scones in a newspaper for me to take along to my boarding-place. He was convinced that she had no equal in all the region. "I was yon at the inn ane day to pay ma rent," said he, "and there was twenty and fower men there besides, and I thraws a five pun note onto the tawble, and I says, 'I'll aye wager ony mon here that I hae the best hoosekeeper i' the coon-try roond' — I did that! and they daurna ony mon tak' me oop."
He had another lass on the farm who was a good housekeeper too; but she was cross-eyed, "ane e'e glowerin' up the lum (chimney), the ither i' the kailpot"; and he was particular about his victuals, and did not feel sure that a person who saw so crooked would not get them mixed. So he kept her at field tasks usually. Still, she took the place of the housekeeper now and then, because the latter objected to being indoors all the time, and wanted to work in the open air for a change. There were women laborers on every farm in the district, some old, some young, and they did all sorts of work, except the very heaviest. The wage of a woman working by the day was ordinarily fifteen pence. A young girl, however, who hired out on a farm by the year would live at the farmhouse and receive six pounds for her first year's work, about ten for the second, and possibly fifteen the third year.
Besides the girls living on the farm, Hillocks for a part of the time had several feminine day-workers. I went with him on one occasion to visit a many-acred potato field where four such helpers were hoeing. Two of them were married women from the clachan; yet the fact they had homes and husbands to care for did not prevent their hiring out to the farmers when opportunity offered. With their wide straw hats, light aprons, and long-handled hoes the squad in the potato field looked very picturesque, and even attractive; for their attire had a neatness and freshness scarcely to be expected under the circumstances, and three of them had nosegays pinned to their gowns. Their tongues were running on with great animation, but they kept steadily at work just the same.
In my calls on Hillocks the old farmer never failed to emphasize his hospitality by offering to treat me, and the first time he was very insistent it should be whiskey. But I had been forewarned. "Aye, he'll be gaein' you a dram," the shoemaker's wife had said.
"He pretends to hae vera guid whuskey. 'Tak it oop,' he says, I it'll no hurt ye. It'll gae doon tae your vera taes.' Oh, aye, ye'll be haein' a nip o' 'the auld kirk' if ye gae tae Hillocks. Ye canna reseest him!"
When Hillocks found there was no stirring me out of my prejudices, he ordered the housekeeper to bring in milk, of which he was hardly less proud than of his whiskey. Like all the milk produced in the region, it was uncommonly rich and sweet. He accounted for its virtues by saying they were due to the "yarbs" the "coos" browsed on in the dens. He thought those luxuriant ravines were peculiar to the district, and, in cow pasturage, he doubted if any other portion of the earth was favored to a like degree. Hillocks himself chose to drink my health in the liquor to which he was used, and from a cupboard he brought forth a decanter and a wine-glass. He filled the glass, then raised it aloft and prefaced the draught with a stiff little speech full of good wishes.
His decanter contained "Irish whuskey," he told me. "Ah, but there's a difference in drinks," he continued. "I was ance in Glesca, and the whuskey there was juist poison. Twa-thirds o' it was water, and the lave was some stuff — you couldna tell what — that they had put in't. I bought a glass o' it, and aifter ane taste threw it unner the tawble. 'Twasna fit to drink. But the Irish whuskey — it is graund, mon! There was ane evening the doctor doon below invited me in to hae a taste, and he set oot some Irish whuskey, and we drank five or sax roonds. It was graund! The doctor couldna walk steady to the door aifter it, but I gaed awa' hame wi' nae mair tribble than if I had ta'en water."
An Upland Pasture
This affection for the social glass was nothing exceptional. The Scotch as a people are hard drinkers, and their favorite liquor, whiskey, is kept in nearly all the homes for occasional family drams and for treating friends who chance to call. The conviction is growing, however, that it is the curse of the country and drinking and drunkenness, which were once accepted as a matter of course, if not as an actual glory, are falling more and more into disrepute.
My host, at the close of his reminiscence showing his prowess as a consumer of Irish whiskey, got out his snuff-box, and with the little ivory spoon that was inside administered a good sniff to each nostril. The snuff-taking habit was not at all general among the women or the younger men; but the pungent dust was held to be one of the necessities by men who were middle-aged or elderly. When two such met, their cordiality was pretty sure to be accentuated by one or the other getting out his snuff-box, and each taking a companionable pinch. In case the box was offered to a non-snuff-taker, he was considered satisfactorily polite if he simply passed it under his nose.
Many visitors came to Drumtochty, drawn by the fame that had been given it by Ian Maclaren, and among them were a number from across the ocean. It's unearthly — "thae Americans comin' here," was the comment of one of the older village folk; for this interest shown by the outside world was to the average inhabitant something past understanding. The most notable of the visitors, while I was there, was a public reader, a woman, who made a specialty of Scotch stories. She gave a reading from Maclaren in the schoolhouse before she left, and the audience, which was entirely unused to exhibitions of the sort, was very much impressed. Hillocks, who had a front seat, was entirely overcome by the dramatic impersonations, and declared afterwards that he did not suppose there was such a thing in the world.
The next day, at the request of the reader, I took her and her father, who was travelling with her, to call on Hillocks. The old farmer considered this a great honor, and hastened to ask us what we would "take."
"Ye wull surely taste wi' me," he said. "Ye're no a' teetot'lars! Ah-ha! Weel, noo, I neever jined the teetot'lars masel', but I dinna drink, nevertheless. I juist tak' a bit noo and then wi' a neebor, to be social and friendly lak. Wull ye hae a glass wi' me? A bit whuskey 'ill no hurt a mon."
Later in our call he took hold of the reader's sleeve and remarked: "That's a fine goon, wuman. It maun hae cost a gude bit o' siller. But it's warum, too, aye, gey warum, and it's saft lak unner the feengers."
He mourned some over the contrast between himself and his visitors. "You can traivel a' aroon' the warld juist as you please," said he, "while I maun work on because I canna afford to stop." Yet he was worth forty or fifty thousand dollars.
I have said that in the matter of cleanliness the farmhouses of the region impressed me unfavorably, but there were exceptions. For instance, at Drumachar the dwelling was quite irreproachable. The scullery and the milkhouse had floors of asphalt and walls of whitewashed plaster, and there was no sign of dirt anywhere indoors. Outside, however, was the coal-heap close under the kitchen windows, and a great flock of hens, ducks; and turkeys made themselves at home in the neighborhood of the back door. On the day I was at Drumachar noon came just as I was leaving the house, and I met at the door two young women, the farmer's daughters, in wide, scoop-brimmed hats, coming in from hoeing. The lassies looked neat and attractive, their cheeks were rosy, and they seemed perfectly healthy and contented. Every year in haying time the older girl made all the stacks — no small task, for the farm was the largest in the district. Fifty cows were kept on it and the milk was sent off daily to Dundee.
Haying begins at Drumtochty the last of June. Mowing-machines are in common use, though scythes are by no means things of the past. Turning is done by hand, but every farmer has a horse-rake. The weather is so inclined to be dull and showery that it is difficult to cure the grass in a reasonable length of time, and it is therefore raked up while still rather green, and piled in cone-shaped stacks, each containing about a fair-sized load. The hay is left stacked in the field where it grew for several weeks until thoroughly dry, when it is loaded on carts and conveyed to the stackyard near the farmhouse. One mowing suffices, and in the fall the land is let for the winter grazing of the sheep from the moors.
The horse-rake employed in gathering the hay into windrows is a heavy iron affair, that looks as if it was meant for a harrow. A man walks along behind to manage it and drive the horse. A very different type of rake is used to bring the hay from the windrows to the stacks. It is a many-toothed wooden contrivance, like a double-edged comb. It slides along flat on the ground, and the horse is hitched a considerable distance in front, to allow as large a mass of hay as possible to gather on the teeth. When it is to be dumped, the man stepping along in its wake lifts the handles enough to make the teeth catch in the ground and force it to flop over. At Drumachar the younger sister rode the horse, sitting astride on a blanket.
In the centre of each haystack is a rough, wooden tripod eight or ten feet high, to serve as a support, and to help in ventilation. The person on the stack tramps the hay and places it as it is thrown up from below till it is piled well above the top of the wooden tripod. Special care is taken to arrange the final forkfuls so that they shall form a cap and shed the rain. That the top may not blow off, two ropes are adjusted over the stack. The ends dangle down the sides, and a man below weights them with stones. Then a ladder is set against the stack, and the worker up aloft descends.
The women do their full share of the haymaking, and their presence gives the mowing lots an air peculiarly domestic and social. I noticed at Drumachar that not only the farmer's daughters and several hired female helpers engaged in the work, but if callers came, whether men or women, they too went to the hayfield, and while they visited, partook in the labor, in spite of their best clothes. The children were there also, and the scene was a very pleasant and busy one.
What the everyday work of a Scotch farm is I can perhaps best make clear by describing it as it was at Hillocks, for it was there I became most familiar with its routine. Of course, allowance must be made for variations in details. Hillocks himself is out in the fields in summer at half-past four. But previous to leaving the house he rouses the rest of the farm family and does some of the preliminary kitchen work. First he attends to the fire, which, thanks to his mania for economy, still has a dim bit of life in it lingering from the day before. Each night, to save the expense of the match it would be necessary to use in relighting his fire if it went out, he covers the coals with clods — peelings of mossy turf from the moor. These peelings are chiefly used to cover the potatoes when they are piled up in the fields for winter storage, but Hillocks makes them do double service.
After he has replenished the fire, Hillocks hangs the porridge pot on the sway, with enough oatmeal in it for the household breakfast, and he sets a mess of milk heating for the calves. The farm help are supposed to be up and starring work at five, but, like a great many folk in other parts of the world, they feel their sleepiest at getting-up rime, and their response to the master's summons is not as ready as it might be. Most likely they nap until he comes in from his field work and calls again. The farmer begins to be disturbed now, and he cries up the stairway that the clock has struck five, "and the naxt one it'll chop'll be sax!" or he informs them, "the sun's gaein' roast, and the pay's rinnin' on."
The girls exasperate him by their dilatoriness in dressing, and to them he calls out, "It'll tak' ye five minutes to pit in every pin!"
Judging from the usual looks of their clothing, pins were the chief fastenings, and I suppose a secure adjustment consumed of necessity a good deal of time. The men, when they rise, go to the barn and take care of the horses, and the three lassies milk the cows and feed the calves and pigs. Toward seven, the breakfast hour, the men come in and wash. None of them use soap; neither do the lassies. It is a luxury of which Hillocks does not approve; and when one of his hired girls exchanged some farm produce with a pedler, for a cake of the toilet variety, he was very much shocked. She put it in a convenient place for family use; but Hillocks would not allow such extravagance. "Washin' hands with soap!" he exclaimed; "ye're enough to ruin ten men!"
The girl with longings for soap had a weakness for the esthetic in other directions also, and one day created a similar storm by whitening .the ash-hole, and going over the hearthstone with blue chalk. These things are quite customary among such Scotch housewives as take pains to beautify their kitchens, but to Hillocks it seemed a waste of valuable time and energy. "I've lived seventy and twa years i the world, and never seen the ash-hole whitened afore," was his disapproving comment.
The farm breakfast consists of porridge, milk, and a cup of tea. The girls gather at a table on one side of the room, and the men at a table opposite. As they sit down, Hillocks is wont to say, boastfully, "I had a drill (row) hoed afore ony o' ye came oot;" or if it is not the hoeing season, he mentions some other task he has accomplished while they were drowsing.
From breakfast till noon all the farm hands, with the exception of the housekeeper, are working in the fields. At "twal" they come in to eat dinner. The bill of fare is broth made of kail, carrots, pease, and cabbage, followed by meat and potatoes; and occasionally there is a dessert of rhubarb, stewed with milk. After the men go out, the women may make a cup of tea on the sly; but they all scurry out of sight if Hillocks appears in the midst of this clandestine indulgence, for he "doesna alloo much tea."
Just before dinner the lassies had driven in the cows, and now they resort to the byres and milk them, and then turn them out to pasture again. The men care for the horses, and sit about smoking and talking till two, when they are due in the fields. At half-past six they break off work, put up their horses, and are free to do what they please. The supper at seven is of tea and jam, with meat food in the form of ham, stewed rabbit, or eggs. Bread, scones, and oat cakes are on the table at every meal. Between eight and nine the women milk for the third time, and their work is not often done till toward ten.
Hens and ducks were plenty at Hillocks, but they were never served on the family table. They went to market instead, and were turned into "siller." The hens were the care of the housekeeper. They roosted on some poles under the eaves, in an old cow byre. They laid all around the buildings, sometimes in the corn, or under a hedge, and there was one biddy that walked up the back stairs every day, and laid an egg in the ploughman's bed.
The farmers hire their help by the year, and the year ends at Martinmas, the 28th of November. There are two hiring days, the first known as "Little Dunning Market," and the second as "Flit Friday." The former, which is by far the more important, is the great holiday of the year to the farm help. It comes on the third Friday of October, and they all go to Perth and stand along the chief street, and bargain with the farmers who come among them to hire.
"Are ye gaein' tae fee thae day?" asks the farmer.
If the reply is affirmative, and they can settle on a satisfactory wage, the farmer gives the man a shilling to bind the bargain, and each takes the other's address. So great is the crowd on the street that "it seems a won'er the women and bairns do not get crushed."
It is not a quiet crowd. The ploughmen are there for a holiday, and they are bound to celebrate, and "An awfu' lot o' them gets drunk — women tae."
Every Jockie has his Jeannie," and the men are giving all the girls they know fairings — that is, they treat them to sweeties (candy), fruits, and drink, and buy them ribbons, gloves, and other little things. For themselves the ploughmen invest in "great muckle paper roses," half a dozen on a branch, and this branch they stick in their hats. The hilarity waxes higher as the day advances, and men are seen parading around with their arms about their sweethearts' necks, and in the demonstrative sociability the women's bonnets are half torn off their heads, though the wearers are quite oblivious of the fact. But the day at length comes to an end, and the farm help scatters out into the country, and the next morning those who have recovered from the effects of their holiday are at work in their old places.
There they continue until Martinmas Day, the rime appointed for "flitting" to their new masters. Flit Friday is the Friday after Martinmas. It is a mild repetition of Little Dunning Market, and exists for those who failed to fee on the earlier occasion. Such go then to Perth, and stand for hire on the chief street, and bargain for places just as the others did a few weeks before.
Aside from these days that were peculiarly the ploughman's, there were various others sprinkled through the year that had more or less of a holiday flavor to the people of Drumtochty. To begin with, there was the "First Footin" that ushered in the new year. The young men did not go to bed on New Year's Eve, and at twelve o'clock they rang the Free Kirk bell, and started out for a tour of the village. As they went they made all the noise they could, shouting and singing, beating drums and playing on "melojeons" (accordions). They knocked on the doors and bade the house dwellers get up and let them in. Not so many respond to these summons as in former days; but where entrance is gained, the first man who crosses the threshold treats the family to whiskey, and the midnight callers all expect to be treated in return. The idea is that the "first foot" in a house on the New Year brings it good luck, provided there is an accompaniment of mutual treating.
But "First Footin" is only an incident at most, and the New Year's observance of Hansel Monday is of much more consequence. This is the first Monday of January, and translated into plain English it means "Present" or "Token" Monday. Bits of money, or small articles bought for the purpose, are given to the children, while good feeling among their elders is promoted by neighborly visits, in which they lunch and drink a friendly glass together. In old times it was the fashion with the arrival of each caller to get out a great kebbock (cheese) and hand it to the visitor, who put it on his knee and cut off what he wanted to eat. Now, all callers are treated to short-bread, and every housekeeper lays in a goodly supply of it the week preceding. Probably no one anticipates Hansel Monday with more pleasure than the lass who delivers the mail; for her faithful services during the year are then remembered by the bestowal of many little presents of money, when she makes her rounds. In the evening there is generally a dancing party in the schoolhouse, with a fiddler to furnish music, and the merriment continues till daylight.
The next notable day is one appointed in February for a ploughing match. At eight o'clock on the day selected, sixteen ploughs are ready for the contest in a big field on one of the large farms. No end of men are present from all the country around to look on and to partake of the refreshments, both solid and fluid, furnished the crowd by the farmer on whose land the match takes place. Each team is to plough a half acre, and the work continues well into the afternoon. At the close of the contest the judges make the awards and distribute the prizes. One prize is for the man who finishes first, another for the one with the best horses, another for the oldest, and one for the youngest ploughman, one for the tidiest dressed ploughman, one for the ploughman with the largest family, etc. If a man did not excel in one way he was likely to in another, and the list of prizes was long enough, so that every man had a fair chance to get something.
On April first the children celebrate in much the same way they do in our country. They fool each other and their elders, pin bits of paper on coats, and send the unwary on errands that are invented for the day. The errand trick is the one on which they most pride themselves, and it is that gives the day its Scotch title of "Gowk's Errant Day."
"Fastern's E'en," too, is the occasion of considerable curious celebrating in Drumtochty. I was a good deal puzzled to know what the term meant, for all that the villagers could tell me was simply that it was usually in February. First came Candlemas, and then you waited till you had a new moon, and the night of the next "Chuesday" after that was "Fastern's E'en." Finally I asked the Free Kirk minister, and he said it was the evening before Lent, an evening which in some countries would be celebrated as the climax of the carnival time preceding the Lenten quiet. It was a strange echo of these revels that had found its way to the Scotch upland. Some one in the village would make up a lot of small "treacle scones," and invite all the "folks" to come in for the evening. By young folks was not meant just the unmarried lads and lassies. "Oh, we wouldna like it," said the shoemaker's wife, "to gae after we marry. The young fowk are ony frae twal to fifty, married or unmarried. I hae seen a gude hooseful whiles i' this kitchen on Fastern's E'en. Soom sit on the chairs, soom on the bed and the table — oh, onywhere! The scones wad hae things stirred in wi' the batter, but ye couldna tell what you might get. We wad aye feel the scone wi' our feengers afore we ate it. Soomtimes there wad be ane thing in it, soomtimes twa, or it might be none at a'. If you found a reeng, you wad be the first to marry; or a button, you wad marry a tailor; or a thimmel, wad sew for a leevin'; or a threpenny bit, wad marry a reech mon. Then by and by, aifter the fun is ower, each lad wad be huntin' a lass an' speirin' wad she gae hame wi' him. 'Are ye ready to gae hame noo?' he wad say; and if she said, 'No, I am no ready,' he wad ken he couldna hae her, and then he wad speir soom ither lass, and aifter the lassies were a' seen hame the lads might pu' the kail stalks up in our gardens, or tie sticks across our doors so we couldna get oot naxt mornin'. Aye, it wad fair scunner ye, soom o' the things the laddies dae on Fastern's E'en."
In September a "flower show" is held in the schoolhouse, to which resort the people from all the region. They bring for exhibition flowers, both cut and in pots; garden vegetables, fruits, honey, butter, cheese; and the cooks each contribute samples of their culinary art in the shape of a certain number of scones and oat cakes and six boiled potatoes. A small charge is made for admission, a "sheddle" (schedule or catalogue) is printed, and various prizes are given.
Later in the fall the young folks find pleasure in the dusk of the chilly evenings gathering the hedge cuttings and rubbish into piles and making great shanacles (bonfires). Still later comes Hallowe'en with its "apple dookin'," burning of nuts, and other sports, and then there is a blank until Christmas. On that day, in the homes where there are young children, they "do up the hoose wi' greens," which means that the kitchen is trimmed with box, fir, ivy, and holly; and a final touch is furnished by a sprig of mistletoe, which is hung over the kitchen door to give the inmates the liberty to kiss whoever comes in. It is mainly the young people who do the kissing. If a man whose youth is past takes advantage of the mistletoe, the others deride him and say: "You've no need to be rinnin' aifter the lassies. You're up on the shelf a'ready." Inexpensive presents are given to the bairns at home and to some of their small relatives who live near by. The grownup folk take no notice of the day for themselves, except that the wife invites in several friends to an extra good dinner at seven after "he," as the wife calls the husband, has finished work. Plum pudding and tea cakes are the special features of this repast.
The year ends with "Hogmanay Night." "Hogmanay" is an ancient term of uncertain meaning, though some suppose its equivalent to be the hearty old-time greeting, "God be with you." On this last night of the year it is the custom of the children to go "guysin'." They start out, half a dozen or so in a company, just after they have eaten their supper, at about six o'clock. "Soom blacks their faces wi' soot," explained my landlady, "wi' perhaps a spot here and there o' whitening. 'thers hae false faces on. They wear auld coats, and tie their trousers up wi' strae. I gey often dress Jimmie as a wuman. I hae seen them no kennin' him at a'. Soom wull hae penny whustles, and they carry long sticks to pound wi' when they dance. They gae a' through the clachan to every hoose, and then to the farmhooses not too far awa'. They gae in wi' no muckle knockin', an' the fowk say, Why div ye no begin to sing and dance?' One o' their songs is this
"'Get up, auld wife, and shake your feathers,
And dinna think that we are beggars,
We're juist a wheen bairns come oot tae play
Rise up and gie us oor Hogmanay.'
Before they go, the fowk treats them to oranges, shortbread, or cake, and gies them usually a penny apiece. They wullna get hame till ten or eleven o'clock, and soomtimes Jimmie hae near twa shillings."
The grown people, too, go guysing occasionally. In that case two men dress up in women's clothes, and two women put on men's garments, and a third man goes along and plays an accordion. But such parties are only intent on having a lark, and do not make the extended tours the children do. They go simply to a few houses of their special friends and dance and perform, and with their masks and costumes try to mystify those on whom they call, as to who they really are.
Perhaps I should include among the holidays the two fast days of the year, but there is nothing recreative about them. One comes in June and the other in December, and they are kept much like the Sabbath, with cessation of work and long services in the churches that are very generally attended.
Of a character that has much more of the holiday air, are some of the customs connected with the weddings. The evening of the day preceding that set for the ceremony is one looked forward to with dread by the prospective bride, for that is the "footwashing" evening. A crowd of young people call at the bride's home, but she, often half distracted, has gone into hiding. The visitors search high and low, and never give up till they are successful. "I hae seen them," said the shoemaker's wife, "rinnin' a' through the toon aifter her. There was ane lass lived naxt door, and she came into oor hoose and went through the scullery and oot at the back window whiles the crowd was waiting at the door. But they juist saw her heels gaein' wast the road, and were aifter her; and she went doon the lane and in at Jean Robinson's, and hid in her garret; and when the crowd came, Jean tried to persuade them she wasna there, but they wouldna be persuaded. There were a guid mony, and Jean cried, 'For God's sake, dinna gae up my garret! If ye a' gae up, ye'll come doon through.'
"But they got the lass and took her hame. Then she was set in a chair, and her shoes and stockings pulled aff, and they wad rub their hands up the lum in the soot and then rub them on her feet, and use brushes, too, till her feet wad be juist shinin'. Whuskey was generally gaein' at the feetwashing, and soom o' the men wad be very rough. Clothes wad get dirty, and soomtimes torn, and if you wore your. best claes, so much the waur for you. I ken that ance Sandy Duncan came in unawares, late, and he had on his white cuffs, and they got a haud o' him wi' their soot, and he was a sight to behold.
"They use soap and cloths and brushes a', in the washin', and the flure wad be juist sailin' wi' water. Then at the end they'd hae a dance. We'd hae nae music, but we'd sing to dance by — nae words, only diddlin (humming). When we'd get gaein', we'd a' diddle thegither, soom o' us on ane tune and soom on anither; and aifter that the lads wad very likely carry the bridegroom aff on their shoulders to the public and make him stand treat a' aroond."
On the evening of the wedding a sharp watch is kept that the bridegroom may be seen on his way to the home of the bride, and if the night is rainy, it is thought to be a clever pleasantry to pelt him with flour. Wet or dry, many friendly shoes are thrown at him, though the friendliness is not so apparent if the aim proves true. One woman told me that on an evening when she was to act as bridesmaid, she accompanied the groom from the clachan to his intended's home on a neighboring farm, "and I walkit juist a wee buttie along," said she, "gaein' east on his arm, when soom ane threw a shoe, and it hit him side o' the heid and cut his face, and the blood poored doon, and I thought he was killed."
Feeding the Pet Lamb
If the bride's home was sufficiently distant, so that the bridal attendants rode to it in a brake, every one threw shoes and rice at the occupants of the vehicle as they were leaving the village. "I mind," said the bridesmaid before quoted, "I threw my mither's slippers ance, when I hadna time to find ony auld shoon, and they gaed into the machine (wagon) and I never saw them again."
The guests gather at the bride's in the best room. Just before the ceremony the bridegroom goes in, and there he is "talkin' awa'" when the bride enters a little later on her father's arm, preceded by her bridesmaids. The young couple now take their places before a window, and the minister reads the service. The minister's remuneration consists of a pair of gloves and a silk handkerchief supplied by the groom, who also is expected to give his best man, shortly before the wedding, a white shirt and collar and tie. The couple themselves have a variety of presents, including lamps, silverware, and other household furnishings, and a Bible, which is the regulation gift from the minister. These things are shown to calling friends on the two or three days that antedate the wedding, but are not exhibited the evening of the ceremony.
On a table in the room where the wedding takes place is the bride's loaf, frosted and fancy and, not unfrequently, three stories high. Near by are wine and wine glasses. As soon as the ceremony is over the bride cuts the loaf and the bridesmaids pass it about among the guests. At the same time the wine is poured and healths are drank. Then the company adjourns to an upstairs room and sits down to supper. This room has been cleared of its ordinary furniture, and two long tables improvised with boards give it the air of a dining hall. Dishes have been borrowed from the neighbors, and the girl friends of the bride have helped prepare the feast, and are present to wait on the tables. Roast beef, boiled ham, fowl, pastry, beer, and bottled lemonade are the chief items in the bill of fare.
The minister leaves at the conclusion of the supper, much to the relief of the company, whose spirits are not a little repressed in his presence. They now go downstairs, and the old people sit and talk in the best room, while the young folks dance in the kitchen. The scraping of the fiddle and the clatter of feet, with pauses now and then for some one to sing a song, go on rill midnight. Then there is an intermission, and tea and cakes are passed around, and such as choose take a drop of whiskey. At one dancing is resumed, and it is two or three hours later when the wedding party breaks up.