BURNS AN THE WHUSKEY-WIFE

Frae: R. De Bruce Trotter, Galloway Gossip (1901), pp. 248-250

THERE wus a whusky-wife they ca’t Peggy McPirran leeve’t at the Bruntstick Towel-Bar, or the Beeswing, or somegate, an she wus yin o’ the best customers o’ aul’ Davie Black o’ Almorness, yin o’ the maist desparate smugglers on the north o’ the Solway.

Peggy dealt a gude deal in stuff yt they forgat tae pey the duty on, an made nae secret o’t; an mony a time the gaugers had try’t tae catch her, but couldna, for she had ey somebuddy on the lookout for them, tae warn her in time tae hide it.

Yae mornin Davie had left her a keg o’ gin, an yin o’ thae meeserable crowls o’ Dumfreisians had been aboot the bit – a mongrel kin o’ footer, like the maist o’ them, half Eerish, half English, an half Scotch, an maybe a dash o’ Ayrshire forbye; but onywey he set aff for Dumfries as hard as his muckel flounder feet wud let him, tae inform on the aul’ wife an get the reward.

He happen’t tae meet wi Burns on horseback, an gied the information tae himm, an gaed hame, rejoicin yt he had made aneuch tae keep him half-fu for another fortnicht, withoot workin for’t.

Burns wusna an ill kin o’ man, although he came fae Ayrshire, an he fell in wi a lad aboot fifty yards fae the hoose, an he stood an talkit wi him a while, tae let Peggy see wha wus gaun ‘a visit her.

Whun he gaed in, Peggy wus sittin in the parlour wi her wheel afore her, thrang spinnin lint, an she shook hans wi him, an apologeese’t for no risin tae receive him, for she had hurtit her leg, an it wus a’ swall’t, an awesome sair; deed, she wus fear’t she had gotten St. Anthony’s Fire in’t, an should ‘a been in her bed wi richts.

Burn’s tell’t her he had come on a disagreeable duty, for he had got information yt she had a keg o’ contraband gin in the hoose, an he wud hae tae rype the hoose for’t.

“Certy me!” says she, “that’s a gude yin! me hae smuggle’t gin in my hoose? it’s horrid hoo lees rises; but joost haud awa through an rype the hoose an satisfy yersel, an A’ll hae a gude stiff tumler o’ toddy ready for ye whun yer dune – ye’ll no be oot o’ need o’t.”

Weel, he rypit an better rypit, an progit the beds, an the meal airk, an the corn kist, an the hay neuk, an the strae hoose, an the stacks, an every ither place he could think o’, but a’ tae nae purpose, an than he cam an sat hissel doon aside Peggy, an had a tumler o’ toddy wi her, an awa aboot his business.

As sune as he wus oot o’ sicht she gat up, an took the keg o’ gin yt she wus sittin on a’ the time, an put it oot o’ sicht; an the next time that Dumfries dyvour cam that wey, maybe he didna happen something tae keep min’ o’.

They ca’ her descendants Porteous noo.

BURNS

THE WHITE HARE

Partial Glossar

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

  • Somegate ‘Somewhere.’ [SOME]
  • Gauger ‘An exciseman.’ [GAUGE]
  • Crowl ‘A dwarf, a diminutive person. Used as a term of derision or contempt.’ [CROWL]
  • Footer ‘A term, orig. of gross abuse or contempt, for a hateful, objectionable person, now much toned down in force, a tedious, exasperating person.’ [FOUTER]
  • Forbye ‘Besides, in addition, as well, what is more.’ [FORBY]
  • Aneuch ‘Enough.’ [ANEUCH]
  • Thrang ‘Of persons (or animals): fully employed in any task or affair, actively and pressingly occupied in work, busy.’ [THRANG]
  • Rype ‘To search thoroughly, examine, esp. for stolen property; to hunt (through), grope, rummage.’ [RIPE]
  • Prog ‘To stab, pierce, prick; to poke, prod, jab.’ [PROG]
  • Dyvour ‘A rogue, a rascal, a good-for-nothing fellow.’ [DYVOUR]