A FISH STORY

Frae: R. De Bruce Trotter, Galloway Gossip (1901), pp. 466-469

FISHERS gets the name o’ bein fearfu for coinin awfu whuds, an A’m reckonin them in Carsephairn’s as gude at it as ye’ll fa in wi onygate.

Yae year Dickson o’ Drumness had yin Rory McMurdo bidin wi him, an he wus a great fisher.

Drumness, as it’s name tells ye, ’s on a bit drum aside a linn, an there’s a verra deep pule aneath the linn aboot a hunner yairds lang.

Weel, Rory saw an awfu muckle salmon in this pule, an he try’t a’ he could tae grup it, tae sen’ hame tae Rochdale an astonish his aquantances. He try’d every flee he had brocht wi him, an inventit twunty mae yt nae salmon had ever seen the like o’ afore, an never wud again ; an he uset every kin o’ worm he could get a haud o’, but it wudna be temptit, an he had tae alloo yt there wus only yae wey o’ gruppin’t, an that wus tae leister’t ; no joost the richt thing tae do, but better not wantin’t.

Weel, Drumness didna think there wus sic a thing as a leister aboot the bit, but he set McMurdo on turnin ower a lot o’ aul’ airn in the shed, tae see gin he could fa in wi ocht yt wud answer. He harl’t oot aul’ bowts, an coulters, an socks, an powney kaukers, an airn flails an aul’ swords an spear-heids yt had been at Bothwell Brig an Killiecrankie ; an at lang an last he fell in wi an aul’ leister heid, sair etten wi rust, an of coorse there wus nae shank till’t.

Noo, timmer’s unca scare aboot Drumness, naething o’ the kin but an aul’ plumtree in the yaird, an twa-three aul’ crookit birks an aiks aboot the linn, yt wus nae use for a leister shank or ocht else, or they wudna ’a’ been there. Hooever, he wus dauneran awa doon the pow side, wunneran whut wus tae be dune, for he had tae gang back tae Rochdale the neist day ; an whun he gat tae the aul’ village of Polmaddy he wus rejoic’t tae see in yin o’ the aul’ yairds a saugh buss wi a stick on’t big eneuch for whut he wantit.

He cut it an gaed back rejoicin, an fittit it intae the sock o’ the leister, an sherpen’t up the whutters o’ the leister wi a bit sklate, an back tae the pow tae try his han at spearin.

It wusna lang or he fell in wi the salmon in the shaul water naur the fit o’ the pule, an he slinkit up tae’t as close as he could, an drave the leister wi a’ his strength intil its back.

The fish gat an awfu fley, and gied a sudden spang, an gaed scrievin up the pule like aul’ evermore, puin McMurdo richt on tae his face amang the water an stanes wi sic a brainge yt he had tae let gae the leister shank afore he gat time tae think whut he wus doin. Whun he got hissel gether’t up, an gat redd o’ a wheen extra fine English expressions, he up the powside efter’t, but a’ he ever saw o’t wus aboot a fit o’ the leister-shank sailin up the the pule afore him, an inta the verra deepest corner o’t, whaur it sunk oot ‘o sicht.

He wrocht a’ the efternune an maist o’ the nicht wi a stan’ o’ cairt-raips, trying tae fish’t oot, but he never gat a glisk o’t, an he had tae content hissel like ither folk, wi tellin the English aboot the immense salmon, aboot ten fit lang, an weighin abune seeventy pun, yt he verra nearly gruppit.

Aboot a year efter, Rorie cam back again an he wus daunerin doon the pow yae day, wunneran whut had come o’ the salmon he had lost the leister wi, an whuther onybuddy had gotten’t.

Doon in the shauls at the fit o’ the pule he notice’t a green buss he didna min’ o’ seein afore, an whun he got close up tae whaur it wus, he thocht he saw’t mudgin. Whun he got closer he notcied’t a muckle salmon ablow’t, an as sune as it saw him it sail’t quaitly up the pule, buss an a’.

“Gude guide us!” says he tae hissel, “that fish haes gotten hankit up in that buss, an canna wun gae. If A had a raip noo, A think A could grup it.”

Aff he gaed tae the hoose, an gat a lang raip, an Drumness gaed tae the Largerie side o’ the water wi the tae en’ in his han’, an McMurdo keepit the Drumness side wi a haud o’ the tither en’ o’ the raip, an they cam doon the pow wi the bicht o’ the raip tailin on the tap o’ the water, an it wusna lang or the raip hankit on the buss ; an the fish ran this wey an that wey, an warsel’t an focht, that viciously, yt it wus a’ they could do, wi the help o’ the laird’s sister an the herd, tae harl the hailwor on tae the lan’ an get the fish kill’t.

Whun they turn’t ower the fish tae get it oot o’ the buss, they wur amaze’t tae fin the aul’ leister stickin in’t, an mair nor ever whun they saw yt the green saugh han’le had taen root in the salmon’s back, an that wus whaur the green buss cam frae.

Maybe ye’ll no can believe’t, but McMurdo declare’t, an the herd swure it wus a fack, yt Drumness gat as mony saugh wan’s aff that buss as made him a patata skep, an the wattling o’ a peat-creel forbye.

McMurdo said he sent a bit o’ the back wi the leister an the stump an roots o’ the saugh-buss in’t, tae the Rochdale Museum, an it’s maybe there yet, for ocht A ken tae the contrar.

Some folk thinks it’s as weel tae tell a roosin whud whun they’r leein onywey ; or as the Ayrshire proverb says : “Yin may as weel hing for a coo as a cuddy.”

A’m thinkan, that’ll be a big aneuch lee tae finish up wi. But if onybuddy’s no setisfy’t, let them fin a bigger yin for theirsels.

FINIS.

CAREFU EXAMINERS

Partial Glossar

Definitions frae DSL (links are tae the relevant entries).

  • Whud ‘A lie, exaggeration, fib.’ [WHID]
  • Onygate ‘Anywhere.’ [GATE]
  • Leister ‘A spear with three or more barbed prongs, used (now illegally) for striking at and catching salmon, a trident.’ [LEISTER]
  • Harl ‘To drag, pull, trail behind, haul.’ [HARL]
  • Coulter ‘The coulter of a plough.’ [Culter] OED s.v. coulter haes, mair helpfully: “The iron blade fixed in front of the share in a plough; it makes a vertical cut in the soil, which is then sliced horizontally by the share.”
  • Sock ‘A ploughshare.’ [SOCK]
  • Kauker ‘The after parts of a horseshoe turned down and sharpened to prevent slipping, esp. on ice-covered roads ; the iron point inserted in a horse-shoe to prevent slipping. Also used of the whole shoe.’ [CAUKER]
  • Shank ‘The stem or shaft of any instrument, as a spoon, fork, garden tool, brush, tobacco pipe, drinking-glass, golf-club, etc.’ [SHANK]
  • Whutter ‘The barb of a fish-hook, fishing-spear, gaff or similar implement.’ [WITTER]
  • Shaul ‘Shallow, not deep.’ [SHAULD]
  • Fley ‘A fright, a scare.’ [FLEY]
  • Spang ‘A pace, stride, long vigorous step, a bound, leap.’ [SPANG]
  • Scrieve ‘To move, glide, bowl swiftly along, to speed on smoothly.’ [SCRIEVE]
  • Brainge ‘A violent or clumsy rush, a dash, a plunge’ [BREENGE]
  • Glisk ‘A glance, a cursory look, a peep, a glimpse. [GLISK]
  • Grip (past tense gruppit) ‘To seize, catch, lay hold of.  Specif.: to catch (fish).’ [GRIP]
  • Mudge ‘To (cause to) move, to stir, to budge, to shift.’ [MUDGE]
  • Hank ‘To entangle, catch or be caught, as by a loop, to hold up’ [HANK]
  • Bicht ‘Used with the same meanings as bight in Eng.’ [frae OED ‘ a loop in a length of rope.’] [BICHT]
  • Warsle ‘To wrestle’ [WARSLE]
  • Hailwor ‘The whole of something, esp. of a company or of a number of things.’ [HAILWARE]
  • Skep ‘A basket of wickerwork or straw for carrying e.g. grain, meal or potatoes’ [SKEP]
  • Aneuch ‘Enough.’ [ANEUCH]