Author(s): Brian Holton
Copyright holder(s): Brian Holton
bi Shi Nai’an
i the recension o Jin Shengtan
owreset frae the Chinese bi
Paip Zhang gies mass an mait agin the pest
Marischal Hong gangs agley wi bogles
I the mixter-maxter o the Five Dynasties’ sturt an stour
Ae day the sindert clouds ance mair let keek the lift;
Nou hunder year auld gress lies daggit wi new rain
An mensefu leir retours ti the valleys ance again.
Gaucie silk is skailt owre ornar loans an wynds,
Pipe an thairm in ilka haa an chaumer ring;
The haill lythe warld nou taks the play in peace,
An palace orchids, wi nae devaul, dover i the sun.
Aweill, this echt-line stave wis screivit bi Shao Yaofu, whase halie-name wis Maister Puritas. A weill-kent scholar at the court o King Shenzong o the umqhile Hous o Song, he wis vext at the Five Dynasties, yon hinner-en o the Tang times whan there wis naethin but weir an brulyie: in thae days whit wis Jin’s i the mornin wad be Liang’s bi nicht, an richtlie wis it said:
Zhu, Li, Shi, Liu, Guo;
Liang, Tang, Jin, Han, Zhou:
Fifteen kings thegither
Skailt fiftie year o stushie!
Syne whan the birlin o Heiven’s courses wis by, King Taizu wis born i the Destrier Barracks. Whan yon sanct cam intil the warld a reid scaum spreid owre the lift an ferlie oams hung aa nicht ondwynan, for he wis the michtie Fireflaucht Immortal cam doun frae the warld abune. Spunkie an bauld, guid-willie an wyce, there wisna the like o yon Son o Heiven amang aa the langsyne princes an kings afore him. He wis a human stauf for dingin doun the fower hunder wardenries, an his forename wis Zhao! Yon Son o Heiven soupit the warld clean an muckit out the Middlin Plains, his line wis cryit michtie Song, he biggit his capital at Meicklebrig, an heidmaist o aa the kings an princes, he steidit the kinrik for fower hunder year. Yon’s hou Maister Puritas spak o him wi sic respeck, sayin “Ae day the sindert clouds let keek the lift”, acause for ornar fairmin chiels it wis juist like gettin a glisk o the sun again.
In thae days there wis a hermit hecht Chen Tuan bydin on the Wastlin Tap o Mount Glore: he wis a kennin an gracie sowl at bi glamourie cud guide the wind an wather. Ae day whan he wis striddlin his cuddie doun the brae ti the Gloresheddae Road he heard an outlan bodie sayin “Richt nou in the Eastren Capital Chai Shizong hes reteirit an Gaird-Marischal Zhao hes taen the throne”.
Whan he heard this, Maister Chen fand sic blytheness in his hairt at he clappit his haun ti his brou an laucht out loud ti he tummelt aff o his cuddie. The bodie speirit him whit for an the Maister tellt him “The warld’ll be weill fettelt nou! It’s juist the mellin o Heiven’s Will abune, Yirth’s Array ablow, an the Greement o Men in atween!”
Frae the Abdication o the gengshen (1) year whan King Taizu first tuik the throne, the warld kept peacefu for seiventeen year. Efterhaun succeedit the Royal Brither Taizong, wha reignit twentie an twa year or Zhenzong cam on, an efter him cam Renzong.
Nou this King Renzong wis the michtie Barefuit Immortal o the warld abune. Whan he wis born here ablow he roared an he grat bi nicht an bi day wi nae rest at aa, ti the Court pit out a placket cryin on fowk ti come an gie the Royal Bairn remeid. This gart the Heivenlie Court tak peitie, sae they sent doun the speirit o the Gloamin Staur i the mak o an auld carl. He steppit forrit, yerkit the placket doun, an said he cud stop the Royal Bairn frae greitin. The sarjants wi the placket led him inti the haa ti hae a hearin i the presence o King Zhenzong. The Son o Heiven decernit at he suid gang intil the benmaist court ti inspeck the Royal Bairn, sae the auld carl gaed richt in, fauldit the Royal Bairn in his airms, souchit a wheen words in his lug - an the Royal Bairn grat nae mair.
Whit wir the words he souchit?
They wir “For policy ye’se hae the Policy Staur, and for weir ye’se hae the Weir Staur.”
Richtsae it wis tae, for the Jade King abune hed sent doun the speirits o thae twa stern frae the Crammasie Haa, aa ti succour an forder an gie heizin ti this Son o Heiven. The Policy Staur wis Chief Justiciar o the Southron Office in Firstenfeus, Lord Collegiar o the Registry Bao Zheng, an the Weir Staur wis him at herried the kinrik o Wester Somir, Earl Marischal Di Qing. Thir twa wyce meinisters cam forth ti ser a king at held his throne forty an twa year an chynged his entitule nine times.
Frae the time o his ascendin the throne i the first year o the entitule Heivenlie Sages on ti the nint year o the same wis a time o peace i the warld whan hairsts wir guid an fowk blythe at their darg, whan whit wis tint wis left lyin on the road an yetts wir niver steikit at nicht - thir nine years is hecht The First Stent. Frae the first year o the entitule Bricht Wey ti the third year o Kinglie Blessins wis nine growthie years tae, an is hecht The Saicont Stent. Frae the fourth year o Kinglie Blessins ti the saicont year o Happie Blessins there wis a by the ornar rowth o corn i the pairks, an thir nine years is hecht The Third Stent. Thrie nines, twentie-seiven year thegither, maks The Thrie-Stentit Age. For smaa fowk thae years wis blythe an cheerie.
Whae thocht owremuckle pleisur wad bring on sorra? I the spring o the third year o Happie Blessins the pest cam spreidin owre the kinrik - frae Besouth the Watter ti the twa capitals, there wisna the ae place whaur fowk wisna smittlt wi this ill: frae ilka stewartrie an sheriffdom cam notandums in, thick as flauchts o snaa.
Aweill, baith in an ayont the Eastren Capital the feck o the lieges wir deein. Chief Justiciar Councillour Bao wi his ain haun gat Letters o General Merciment, an he spent his ain stipend on feesick ti bring the commontie remeid - but hou cud he cure them aa? The pest gaed spreidin on.
The Officiars o Policy an o Weir tuik avisement an forgaithert i the Clepsydra Haa ti wait on the Early Hearin whan they’d come afore the Son o Heiven. On this day, the third o the third month o the third year o Happie Blessins, at thrie meinits efter the fift hour the Son o Heiven muntit the throne i the Purpour Palace, an whan the officiars hed gien in the mornin bethankfu, the Palace Betheral raired out “Whasae hes cause, step forrit nou an propone! Whasae hes nane, rowe up the hingins an reteir!”
Sae it wis at furth o the thrang steppit the Councillour-in Chief Zhao Zhe an the Saicont Secretar Wen Yanbo, wha proponit:
“Afore our een the pest owrerins the capital, an monie’s the lieges at’s fordune thereby. It’s our hummil askin at the King’s Hieness furthshaw his luvin mercie bi the lowsin o felons, the lichtenin o unlaws an the dilutin o the cess, wi mass an mait ti be gien agin this ill dispensation, an remeid sae brocht ti the commontie.”
The Son o Heiven lissent an straucht decretit at the Hanlin Collegiars sud draucht a Dictamen:
item fylit felons o the kinrik ti be assoilyeit, an aa fowk to be exonert o ilka levy an cess;
item ordainit at i the temples o the Forbidden City, Halie Exercises ti be institute ti forfend unchance.
Yet yont aa thocht, that year the pest aye ran on. Whan King Renzong gat ti ken, his regal brou wis troubled, an ance mair he tuik avisement o his officiars. Frae the raw steppit forrit a hie meinister ti gie his proponance in, an the Son o Heiven spied Commissioner o State Fan Zhongyan. He lowtit doun, then he up an spak:
“Afore our een an ill dispensation rins its course, an the lieges are that trampit i the glaur wi’t at, be it nicht or be it day, they canna weill fend for theirsels. Yir Meinister hes this bit notion: gin this unchance is ti be forfendit, the Paip Hereditar micht be summonsed ti the Court incontinent, ti gie the Thrie Hunder an Saxtie Michtie Synoptic Masses - as a petitour ti the Lord Abune he’ll can aiblins sain the fowk o the pest at’s amang them.”
King Renzong, Son o Heiven, ratifeed this proponance, an straucht gied word to the Hanlin Collegiars at a Dictamen be drauchtit. Wi his ain haun he subscryvit it, an giftit forby a spirlie o the Royal Incense. He appointit Hong Xin, the Marischal o the Inbye an Outbye Haas o Supervision, ti be Royal Messager, ti mak ti Dragon-Tiger Brae in Faithlands o Wast the Watter an bid His Halieness Paip Hereditar Zhang come ti the Court incontinent an gie mass an mait agin the pest. Then he gaed ti the Gowden Haa ti kennle the Royal Incense, an wi his ain haun he gied the reid-sealed Dictamen ti Marischal Hong.
Takin the Royal Orders, Marischal Hong gied his fareweills ti the Son o Heiven, an wi the Dictamen on his back an the Royal Incense in his haun he backit his post-horse, led his menyie o sindrie score out o the Eastren Capital, an gaed smairtlie ti Worthieburn County o Faithlands. They wan or lang gaed by ti Faithlands Toun, whaur officiars o hie an laich degree cam out ayont the burgh dykes ti walcome them in. Men wir affhaun sent ti let ken the Abbeymaister an the priests o Sublimitie Abbey on Dragon-Tiger Brae, ti gar them busk theirsels ti get the Dictamen.
Neist day, the officiars aa convoyed the Marischal ti the fuit o Dragon-Tiger Brae, an doun there cam a wheen o priests o Sublimitie Abbey ti see in the reid-sealed Dictamen, wi their bells an drums bangin, their censers sweetlie reikin, their braw canopies aa silk-spraingelt, an their rare musicianers in a raw. They lichtit doun ilkane afore Sublimitie Abbey itsel, an aabodie frae the sanctlie Abbeymaister doun ti the servitors an the novice-callants, wi walcomin afore an convoyin ahint, wan ti the Thriefauld Sublimitie Haa, whaur they bade tak the Dictamen ti the Worshippers’ Tenement.
“Whaur about’s the Paip the nou?” Marischal Hong speirs the Abbeymaister, an the Abbeymaister hummlie tells him: “An it please ye ti ken, Marischal, our Fundator hes for his byname Vacuitranquillitas. Hie-mindit an clean bi naitur, he’s weariet o society an he’s awa ti his sprotten-theikit sheilin on the heid o Dragon-Tiger Brae ti care for his saul-heill an the nourishin o his divinitie - yon’s hou he disna bide here in our Abbey”. “The Son o Heiven hes eenou furthset a Dictamen: whit wey micht A get ti see him?” quo the Marischal, an the Abbeymaister reponit, “Sae please ye, pit the Dictamen by intil the Haa for the meinit. Us puir priests’ll no daur read it. Nou if it’s yir will, Marischal, come awa an tak tea in ma chaumers, an we’ll can think on it mair.”
Sae wi aa reverence the Dictamen wis pit by in the Thriefauld Sublimitie Haa, an they gaed alang wi the officiars ti the chaumers. The Marischal sat hissel doun i the midmaist place an the kitchiefowk set in the tea. Lentren-mait cam on neist, an there wis aa the vivers at land or watter micht supply.
Whan that wis by, ance mair the Marischal speirit the Abbeymaister: “An the Paip’s in his sheilin on the braeheid, whit for can we no sen ti bid him come doun here an read the Dictamen?”
“Sae be the Paip’s on the braeheid” repones the Abbeymaister hummlie, “he’s byornar wyce an skillie. He can munt the mists an sclim the clouds an there’ll be fient the haet o him ti be fund. He’s ill eneuch ti fin even for us puir priests, sae whit wey will we can bid him come dounby?”
Quo the Marischal, “An yon’s the wey o’t, whit wey dae A fin him? This verra meinit the pest’s owrerinnin the capital. A bit officiar like masel’s been sent parteiclar bi the Son o Heiven ti cairry the Royal Dictamen, an wi His Ain Haun he’s traistit me wi the Royal Incense ti come an bid the Paip gie the Thrie Hunder an Saxtie Michtie Synoptic Masses for the fendin o unchance, an sae bring the commontie remeid. Whit wey will A dae it gin it’s aa ti be like this?”
“The Son o Heiven nae dout ettles ti bring the commontie remeid” says the Abbey-maister, “but athout ye’re something upricht an hairt-eident.......Ye’ll need ti bath yirsel, haud yirsel frae flesh an strang drink, an busk yirsel in hodden claes; tak nane o yir menyie, but shouther the Dictamen yir nainsel, kennle the Royal Incense, shank awa up the brae an gie a richt gentie an mensefu-like biddin - an ye dinna, it’ll be a tuim step ye tak, an he’ll be gey an ill ti fin.”
The Marischal lissent an said “Aa the road here frae the capital A’ve etten nocht forby lentren-mait, sae hou wad A no be hairt-eident? But gin sae it’s ti be, A maun e’en dae as ye bid, an up the brae the morn’s morn fell early.”
An wi that ilkane gaed ti their nicht’s rest.
Neist day at the fift hour the priests raise up, poured a perfumit bath, an bade the Marischal get up an wash hissel. Clean buskit in fresh hodden claes an wi strae shuin on his feet he ett his lentren-mait, rowed the Dictamen in yalla silk, shouthert it, an wi a siller censer in his haun he stertit ti kennle the Royal Incense. A wheen priests convoyed him ti the back brae ti airt him on his road, an ance mair the Abbeymaister said “Gin ye’re ti bring the commontie remeid, Marischal, dinna you be takin a back-gangin turn, but haud ye aye forrit wi an eident hairt.”
The Marischal quat the gaitherin, an aa his owrecome as he linkit up the brae wis the blissit name o god. He gaed awa his leelane a while owre twistit tracks, up fankled bankins, clauchterin as he gaed at bushes an brambles aa taiglt an snorled, til whan he’d wan a guid twa-thrie mile owre the braes, bit bi bit his legs begude ti fail, his feet begude ti stound, an he cud gang nae mair.
Niver the word did he speak, tho i his breist he wis switherin. “A’m a Court Officiar o hie degree” he thocht ti hissel, “thick-fauldit wis ma beddin i the capital, an dentie the board A ett aff. Ay, an there’ll be sweirtie intil’t tae - whan did A ever weir sic strae shuin an gae shankin owre sic hill-gaits?.....Fine they ken whaurabout their Paip is, but och, the wearie weys A’ve still ti thole!” An he’d gane nae mair as fifty steps afore he wis hotchin an pechin.
Then a flaff o wind raise up out o a corrie on the braeside, an whan it wis by, on a sudden frae in ahint the pine trees wi a gurl like thunner a muckle white-broued gowden-haired baistie wi bogglin een cam breingin out at him! Marischal Hong fair gat a fleg: he gied the ae skreich an cowpit owre backart. The muckle baist cam on at him, roun an roun wi gurlin an wi gowpin, til it turnt an skelpit aff doun the back bankin an awa. Marischal Hong wis left streikit out at a tree-fuit, that fleyed his thirty-sax teeth wis dirlin thegither an his hairt wis playin dunt-duntie like fifteen buckets in a wal, seiven o them gaun up an echt o them gaun doun. His haill body wis numb like he hed the paralytics, i the houghs he wis like a waurit fechtin-cock, an in his mou wis aye doulanee.
Wi the baistie awa, it tuik the time a cup o tea taks afore he cud staucher ti’s feet, lift the censer, an stert kennlin the Royal Incense: then he wis awa up the brae again, fair set on gettin ti see the Paip.
Ance mair he’d taen nae mair as fifty steps afore he wis sicherin, an he wis peingin: “Bi command o His Majestie A’m pitten here ti get frichts the like o yon!”. An he wis juist new dune sayin it whan anither flaff o wind he felt, an the fowsum reek o’t bladdit aa about him. The Marischal glowert roun an roun, then frae the bamboo-shaw on the braeface there cam a reishlin soun, an a muckle white-spreckled worm the size o a chein o wal-buckets burst ram-stam out at him!
The sicht o this gied the Marischal anither fleg; he flang awa his censer, an wi a roar o “Am killt this time!”, back he cowpit ti the side o a muckle clinty stane. But the worm cam richt up ti the stane an kinkit itsel up in a hott fornent the Marischal, its twae een leamin gowd, the tongue fliskin out o the unco mou o’t, an a fowsum pyzen spirtin i the face o Marischal Hong. It gied him a fleg at wandert his wits an clean dumfounert him. The baist hed a lang look at the Marischal, then snoovit awa doun the brae an wis seen nae mair.
Ance an he cud staucher ti’s feet he says “Guidsakes! A wis near killt wi the fricht o’t!”, an whan he spied he’d hen’s flesh on him the size o dumplins, he stertit in ti miscaa the priests: “It’s owre demmed menseless, makin sic a mock o me! An giein me sic flegs an frichts forby!....An A canna find the Paip on the brae, A’ll awa dounby an there’ll be mair said about it!” Sae he liftit his siller censer, gied a bit redd up ti the Dictamen, his claes an his bunnet, an wis set for up the brae ance mair.
He wis juist liftin his feet whan he heard ahint the pines a wee soun o whisslin comin near. The Marischal lookit an spied a novice callant comin on, striddlin a yalla stot backside foremaist, whisslin on an airn flute an keck-kecklin as he gaed owre the brae. Marischal Hong cried on him “Whaur hae ye come frae? Dae ye ken whae A am?”. The callant niver let dicht, tho, but gaed on wi his wheiplin. Twae-thrie times mair the Marischal speirit at him or the callant gied a rairin lauch, pyntin at him wi the airn flute an sayin “Ye cam here ti fin the Paip, didn’t ye no?” Unco fleyed, the Commander says “Ye’re but a herd-callant, hou gat ye ti ken?” an the callant leuch “A wis waitin on the Paip this mornin an A heard him say ‘The Son o Heiven’s eenou sendin some Marischal Hong bodie wi a reid-sealit Dictamen an Royal Incense ti bring up the brae, an he’ll summonse me ti the Eastren Capital ti gie the Thrie Hunder an Saxtie Michtie Synoptic Masses, an gie mass an mait agin the pest at’s i the kinrik. A’m awa nou ti munt the mists an sclim the clouds an gae.’ A dout he maun be awa bi this, for he isna at the sheilin. Dinna you gang upbye: the’r a byornar amount o worms an wild baists on the braes, an A’m feart they’ll aiblins dae ye ill.”
Ance mair the Marischal speirit him: “Ye wadna be tellin lees nou?” But the callant gied the ae lauch an niver answert back, juist wheiplin on his airn flute as he wan awa owre the braeface.
The Marischal thocht on’t: “Hou wad yon bairn ken aa about it? A dout it’ll be the Paip at commandit him.....Ay, sae it maun be.” An he’d a mind ti haud up the brae ance mair, but he thocht: “A’ve new been sair fleyed, an gey near losst ma life.....leifer doun the brae, A’m thinkin.”
Sae the Marischal tuik his censer, airtit out his auld gait, an skelpit doun the brae. The priest-bodies at cam out ti him bade him in ti sit doun i the Abbeymaister’s chaumers, an the Abbeymaister speirit him: “Did ye see the Paip?”
Quo the Marischal, “A’m a Court Officiar o hie degree: hou cud ye pit me owre sic hillgaits ti dree sic a wearie weird an gey near loss ma life? Firstlins, haufroads up the brae a muckle white-broued baist wi bogglin een cam breingin out an gied uis sic a fleg A tint ma wits; neist, whan A hedna gaen mair as haufroads owre the brae, out o a bamboo-shaw a muckle white-spreckled worm burst ramstam out at uis, kinkit itsel up in a hott, an wadna let uis gang forrit! This is aa you priesties makin a mock o me!”
“Whit wey wad us puir priests daur lichtlie Yir Honour?” quo the Abbeymaister. “It maun hae been Our Fundator preein yir hairt, Marischal, for tho there’s worms an baists eneuch on our braes, they’re no skaithfu at aa!”
“A cud juist gang nae mair” quo the Marischal, “but A wis set for up the brae again for aa that, whan this callant cam out frae in aside the pine wuids, an gaed owre the brae striddlin a yalla stot an whisslin on an airn flute. Sae A speirit him ‘Whaur are ye frae? Ken me?’. Quo he ‘A ken aa about it’, an he tellt me the Paip hed muntit his crane, sclimmed the clouds an awa ti the Eastren Capital this mornin. Sae back A cam.”
“Och, but it’s a shame, Marischal” quo the Abbeymaister, “for ye’ve mischancit! Thon herd-callant wis the Paip hissel!”
“Hou’s he sae ill-faured, then, gin he’s the Paip?” says the Marischal, an the Abbeymaister answert him.
“Our present Paip’s no ti be lichtliet: for aa he’s a bairn, he’s byornar wyce an skillie. He’s a loun at’s aathegither by the common, a sheinin luminance in ilka airt, an his prayers is effeckfu abune aa ither thing. Warldlie fowk cries him Fundator Viapervador”.
“A didna ken the verra Paip” rairs the Marischal, “an me wi een in ma heid! E’en forenenst him A’ve mischancit!”
“Dinna fash, Marischal. Sin the Fundator’s shawin us he’s gane, then bi time ye’ve wan ti the capital he’ll hae feinisht wi aa thae Halie Exercises.” An the Marischal wis fasht nae mair.
The Abbeymaister gart set out a braw denner ti the Marischal, biddin him pit the Reid-sealed Dictamen awa intil a kist o Royal Write an lea it at Sublimitie Abbey, an the Royal Incense wis brunt i the Thriefauld Sublimitie Haa. Meikle wis the lentren-mait set out thon day i the chaumers, wi feastin an wi drink; the soiree gaed on late, then ilkane tuik their nicht’s rest or the day it hed dawed.
The neist day efter brakfaist the Abbeymaister an the priests, alang wi sindrie o the wardens an siclike ither fowk, speirit the Marischal wad he tak a bit turn outowre the braes, an the Marischal wis fair delightit. Wi a wheen o the ither fowk followin ahint them, they quat the chaumers, an led bi a novice they divertit theirsels wi aa the sichts as they daunert about the Abbey. The riches an the braws o the Thriefauld Sublimitie Abbey wad be mair nor tongue micht tell: on the left-haun aisle wis the Nint Heiven Haa, Peerie Purpie Haa, an the Polestaur Haa. On the richt-haun aisle wis Michtie Monad Haa, Thrie Clerks Haa, an the Sainin o Ill Haa.
Ance an they’d seen aa about the biggins they landit at a bit in ahint the richt-haun aisle, an Marischal Hong spied anither biggin ti the Abbey. Cley waas it hed, as reid aa roun as champit chillie peppers, wi twa lang scarlet windaes i the face o’t. The yett wis steikit wi a pintle as lang’s yir airm, crossweys owre it wis clappit a dizzen or mair o the priests’ lang paper bands, an the bands wir owrestampit time an time again wi reid seals. Afore the easins wis hingin a reid-lacquered signbrod, the gowden letters o’t sayin
Dounhadden Demons Haa.
Pyntin at the door, Marischal Hong says, “Whit kin o a haa’s this?”, an the Abbeymaister answert him: “It wis i the time o the Michtie Hous o Tang at the bygane Paip Mysteriopervador lockit an sealed the King o Demons in. For generations it’s been haunit doun frae Paip ti Paip at ilkane wi his ain haun maun eik his band, sae nae son nor oe o theirs micht apen thon door. Byornar fearsome’s the Demon Princes at micht get out. Throu echt-nine generations nou they’ve swure an aith at apen it they winna daur. Yon sneck wis made o the rinnin bress cuisten in a mold - whae kens whit lies inben? Sin the time A cam for Abbeymaister here, mair nor thirty year sinsyne, A’ve kent nocht o’t forby the hearin”.
Marischal Hong gat a shog wi this, but he thocht ti hissel, “A’ll juist try a bit keek at thae demons.” sae ti the Abbeymaister quo he “Juist apen you the door an A’ll see whitlike’s the King o Demons.”
The Abbeymaister tellt him: “ Marischal Hong, we mauna dae it. It’s aye been the threipin an the tellin o bygane Paips: nae man in onie time maun get ti apen it unbidden.”
“Havers!” leuch the Marischal.” Ye’re juist cleckin ferlies ti begowk daicent fowk wi! Ye dae thae places out deliberate, lettin on ye’ve the King o Demons lockit up, an it’s aa ti glaik fowk wi yir warlockrie. Weill, A’ve read aa the Buiks o Leir, an ye’se niver finnd a wey ti lock demons up there, for demons an bogles o their kind an naitur is set ti byde i the Mirk Pit. A’ll juist no hae’t at the’r a King o Demons in yonder! Get it strecht apen for me, an A’ll see whitlike’s the King o Demons!”
Thrie times the Abbeymaister tellt him hummlie, an five times he tellt him mair “This haa mauna be apent, for fear o unco dreidour an ill amang men!”
The Marischal wis fair roused, tho, an pyntin wi his finger he cries: “An ye dinna apen it sae’s A can see, A’ll awa back ti the Court, an the firsten thing A’ll dae is ti depone at you priesties is fylit wi hinnerin the readin o the Dictamen, conterin the Halie Will, an no lettin uis see the Paip. The neisten thing A’ll dae is depone at ye’ve unleisomelie set up this haa an ye’re lettin on ye’ve the King o Demons sneckit up sae’s ye can begowk the lieges. A’ll hae yir priest’s lines aa cryit back, an the haill lot o ye buistit an banist ti dree a wearie weird in a foul an a farawa wardenrie!”
The Abbeymaister an them wir that feart the Marischal wad be owre weill infitten at the Court, they juist hed ti cry in a squad o warkin brithers ti teir aff the paper bands, an brak the muckle sneck wi mells o airn.
Aabodie burst throu the gantin doors thegither intil the haa, whaur it wis that pitmirk derk they cudna see a thing. The Marischal gart his menyie kennle up a dizzen torches, an whan they’d gotten a licht, there wisna a thing in onie airt forby a stane stoup i the middle, about five-sax fuit o hicht, wi a stane turtle squatted in ablow it. Whan they pit a licht ti the face o’t they fand it wis aa fancy curlicues o wryte an briefs o glamourie at nane cud read, an whan they pit a licht ti the back o’t, there wis fower muckle words scartit fairlie owre it:
APEN WHAN HONG COMES.
Weill, the Marischal wis fair delightit wi thae fower words, an ti the Abbeymaister he says: “You anes wad hae hinnert me, but hou monie year sinsyne wis ma name weirdit ti be here? APEN WHAN HONG COMES - it’s fell clear A’m ti apen it, sae whaur’s the hairm? A’m thinkin thon King o Demons maun be doun ablow the stoup. Here, men o ma menyie, cry ye in mair warkin brithers ti howk it out wi their spades an shuils o airn!”
The hattert Abbeymaister wis for checkin him : “ Marischal, ye mauna howk it out, for fear o unco dreidour an ill amang men - it isna safe!”
Fell roused nou, the Marischal rairs “Whit wad you priesties ken? It’s scartit clear on the stoup at it’s ti be apent whan A come - wad ye aye hinner uis? Cry in men the nou an get it apent!”
Thrie times the Abbeymaister hummlie tellt him, an five times mair, “A’m feart it’ll come ill!” - but wad the Marischal tak tent? They juist hed ti gaither their men, an first they cowpit the stoup owre,thenthey pit aa their pith an virr inti howkin out yon turtle o stane - an there wis a hauf-day’s howkin ti that! Neist they dellit doun a thrie-fower fuit or they cam on a muckle slab o grey stane, square, an compassin mebbes ten fuit. Whan Marischal Hong bade them keep howkin awa, the Abbeymaister tellt him sairlie, “It mauna be shiftit!”, but wad the Marischal tak tent? The men juist hed ti heize up the stane slab.
An whan they lookit doun ablow it they spied a hole i the grund thousans o feet deep. Frae doun the hole there cam a great steir o scruntin an scartin, a steir at wis aathegither by the common. It dee’d awa, an a black black reek cam bullerin up out o the hole! Brakin doun hauf o the waa-heids on its road, it gaed birlin up intil the lift, an i the mids o the air it spairkit aff hunders o gowden leams intil ilkane o the fower airts an the echt directions.
Aabodie wis unco fleyed: they flang awa their spades an shuils o airn wi a skelloch, an gaed skelpin ramstam out o the haa, the tane shovin the tither, staucherin an snapperin aa the wey. Goavin an glaikit, the Marischal wis that fleyed he kentna whaur he gaed, an his face wis ashie-grey. He scootit inti the aisle an cam on the Abbeymaister cryin his doulanee.
“Whit kin o bogles wis them at gat out?” speirit the Marischal, sae the Abbeymaister tellt him.
“Ye dinna ken, Marischal - whan in this haa our Halie Fundator Paip Mysteriopervador first passed on his warlockrie, his mandment wis this: ‘Inben yon haa are sneckit doun thirty an sax Stellates Celestial, alang wi seiventy an thrie Stellates Terrestial: aathegither that maks a hunder an echt Demon Princes in yonder. The ae stane stoup’s there wi the names o them scartit owre it in curlicues o warlock-wryte ti keep them hadden doun. Gin e’er they’re latten out intil the warld, there’ll shuirlie be sair fasherie for ilka craitur at’s quick an vivual.’ Nou ye’ve latten them out, Marischal, whit’ll we dae?”
Whan he’d lissent ti this, Marischal Hong’s haill bodie wis rinnin cauld wi sweit, an he’d stertit in ti knoiter an ti trummle. Smairtlie he stowed his traps awa, an smairtlie he led his menyie back doun the brae ti the capital. Ance they’d convoyit the officiars awa, the Abbeymaister an the priests gaed back ti redd up the biggins an staun the stoup up ance mair. But they’re in our tale nae mair.
Aweill, on the road hame Marischal Hong tellt his menyie niver ti let onie ither leivin sowl ken o the bogles gettin out, for fear the Son o Heiven wad hear o’t an faut him. O their time on the road we dinna tell, for they gaed wi aa speed back ti the capital.
As they wan ti Meiklebrig toun they heard a bodie say “I the Forbidden Citie o the Eastren Capital, the Paip’s held seiven days an nichts o Halie Exercises wi General Blessins an mass agin this unchancie smit, sae nou the pest’s clean vanisht an aathing’s lythe an lown wi the lieges. The Paip’s quat the Court, muntit on his crane an sclimmed the clouds back ti Dragon-Tiger Brae.”
Neist mornin at the Earlie Hearin, Marischal Hong deponit afore the Son o Heiven: “The Paip muntit on his crane an sclimmed the clouds ti the capital afore me: it wis bi the post-roads A cam, an A’ve juist new wan here.”
King Renzong gied his Approbate, rewairdit Hong, an pit him back ti his auld job. An he’s in our tale nae mair.
Efter this king Renzong ruled for forty an twa year or he eased awa. Wi nae Royal Son, the croun gaed ti King Taizong’s auldest oe - son o Prince Yunrang o Pu’an - wha tuik the style o Yingzong. Efter fower year the croun gaed ti the Royal Son Shenzong, wha wis echteen year on the throne or it gaed ti his Royal Son Zhezong. Yon wis a time o peace i the warld, wi no a steir in onie airt.
Haud on tho! Suppose it wis a rale peacefu time, wi nae steir at aa, gin we read the Historicals the day, whit is’t we spy?
Reader, ye needna be feart. Whit’s ti come efter is this: thirty an sax Stellates Celestial doun i the common warld, an seiventy an twa Stellates Terrestial mang men here ablow. Deed, there’s mebbes
Tigers an libbards dernt in the Waatoun o the Wynds,
An dragons gaithert i the Seggie Lair,
but i the hinner en o aa, gin ye’re ti ken whit it’s aa about, ye’ll need ti see the firsten chapter.
Leirsman Wang slees awa ti the Sheriffdom o Stentsaucht
The Nine-Gaired Dragon maks muckle steir in Shi’s Toun
Our tale gangs on nou ti tell hou, lang efter King Renzong, i the days o King Zhezong o the Michtie Hous o Song, there dwalt i the Eastren Capital i the Sheriffdom o Firstenfeus, i the Pro-Virtute Ward o Meiklebrig, a waster, a back-street keelie cried Gao. Saicont o his line, hameless an fendless aa his days, he loued the play o brodstaff an rung, an wis a bonnie fuitbaa player, tae, sae it wisna Gao Twa he gat frae the gleg-tongued fowk o the toun, but aye Gao the Baa: efter he’d gotten on, he chynged his name ti Gao the Braw. He’d sing or dance, this ane, play on pipe or thairm, rassle an daff, prog wi the brodstaff or play wi the rung, an he e’en kent a bit guddle o ballants an tales - but gin ye spak ti him o
CLEMENTIA, JUSTITIA, DECORUM, SAPIENTIA
INTEGRITAS, MORES, FIDELITAS, CONSCIENTIA
he wadna ken a thing about it. In an ayont the waas o the Eastren Capital he wis eident for nocht but idleset an wastrie.
Efter he’d been helpin the son o the weill-gaithert Baillie Wang i the spendin o his siller - gaun ilka day ti bordel-hous an gaillie ti play mune on the snaa or flouers i the wind - the laddie’s faither raised a blame on him i the Sheriff Court o Firstenfeus. The Sheriff Principal decernit Gao the Braw maun get twentie skelps o the tawse an be convoyed as weill ayont the burgh bounds, there ti be demittit, sae’s the lieges o the Eastren Capital michtna hae him sleepin or eatin in onie o their hames.
He cud dae nocht about it forby haud awa wast o Grashloch Watter ti the Stewartrie o Grashloch Watterside, an there seek a bield wi a waster cried Big Liu, at keepit a bettin shop. This wis Liu Shiquan, wha aye loued ti tak in gangrels an wasters, an wad walcome siclike dirt frae onie airt at aa.
Sae Gao the Braw yokit in wi Liu an bade there thrie year aathegither, ti the Son o Heiven King Zhezong, efter giein offrins at the Southlan Meiths an sae bringin hailsum winds an rain, raxit braid his Luvin Mercie ti exoner ilka felon o the kinrik.
Whan Gao the Braw kent he wis indemnifeed he thocht ti gae back ti the Eastren Capital. Nou, Big Liu wis sib ti ane Deacon Dong at keepit a herbshop in about the Gowdsyle Brig, sae he screivit a letter, pit out a praisent o traivlin siller, an sent Gao the Braw ti the Eastren Capital ti byde wi Deacon Dong. Gao the Braw gied his fare-ye-weills ti Big Liu, shouthert his pock an wan awa. He tuik the rounabout road back ti the Eastren Capital, whaur he wan strecht ti Dong’s the Herbalists at the Gowdsyle Brig.
Deacon Dong tuik the ae look at him, read Liu’s letter, an thocht ti hissel: “This Gao the Braw - hou will A can keep him i the hous? An he’d been aefauld an leal he cud aiblins gang in an out, an the bairns’d get a bit leir aff o him tae, but he’s a sillerless wastrel, no a bodie ti be lippent til! He’s an ill-daein fylit felon forby, at winna be willin ti mend his weys. Gin A ludge him in ma hous, he’ll shuirlie misleir the bairns......Gin A dinna, tho, it’ll juist affront Big Liu.....” Sae he juist hed ti bid him, wi aa pleisance an joy, ti stop there the meantime, an ilka day tak bite an sup.
Efter Gao he bidden a fortnicht, Liu thocht o a wey out o’t: he gat a suit o claes, screivit a letter, and says ti Gao the Braw, “Ma wee hous, wi nae mair glore as a glintworm, winna gar ye shine, an A dout ye’ll think the waur o’t ae day. A’m sendin ye on ti Wee Su the Collegiar’s place, guidsir, whaur ye’ll no be lang o gettin a stert. Whit’s yir will o this, sir?”
Gao the Braw wis fell pleased, an he thankit the Deacon, sae a bodie wis sent wi the letter ti tak him strecht ti the Collegiar’s.
The caddies at the yett gied the word in, an out cam Wee Su the Collegiar ti see him. But whan he lookit on the letter he kent Gao the braw for a waster, an he thocht ti hissel, “Hou’ll A can keep him here? A’d be better aff daein Deacon Dong a favour an sennin this ane for a servitor ti the Royal Guidson Wang Jinqing, at fowk cries Wee Marischal Wang, for he’s juist the kin o thing he’ll like.” Sae he sent a letter back ti Deacon Dong, gied Gao the Braw ludgin for the nicht, an the morn’s mornin sent a flunkie ti tak him ti Wee Marischal Wang’s.
Nou this Marischal wis guidbrither ti King Zhezong and Royal Guidson ti King Shenzong: gallivanters wis juist the kin o fowk he’d fee, for they wir aa his joy. He read the letter about Gao the Braw at the flunkie hed brocht frae Wee Su the Collegiar, he peyed his respecks ti Gao, an he wis fell pleased wi him, sae he screivit a letter affhaun back, an gied Gao housin for his servitor. Frae this it fell out at Gao the Braw gaed in an out at Marischal Wang’s like onie o the faimly.
It’s an auld speak:
yonter maks aye the faurer,
but nearhaun’s aye the nearer.
On a sudden ae day, it bein Wee Marischal Wang’s birthday, he gied the word ti his fowk at a soiree he maun hae, an a biddin maun be gien ti his eme Prince Duan. This Prince Duan, eleivent son o the Son o Heiven King Shenzong, Royal Brither, Heir Apparent, Nint Prince bi name, wis a mannie baith gleg an smairt. In ilka wastrife business o the ramstam lads, he kent it aa, he wis able for it aa, an maistlie he juist loued it aa: the fiddlin, the tables, paintrie an wryte, fuitbaa, shuitin, dancin, pipe an thairm - he’d the skeil o them aa.
Aweill, at Marischal Wang’s soiree yon day, whaur there wis aa the vivers at lan or watter micht supply, Prince Duan wis bidden ti the midmaist place an the Marischal sat doun forenenst him. Efter a twa-thrie glesses o wine an twa courses o mait, the Prince hed ti get up an wesh his hauns, an in the bygaun he stopt a meinit i the library, whaur he’d spied on a desk a pair o lion paper-wechts wrocht o burnist mutton-creishie jade. Gey weill-wrocht they wir, tae, trig-made an bonnie. Prince Duan liftit them up ti look at them, sayin ti hissel “Braw!”
Seein him fair taen on wi them, Marischal Wang says “A’ve a dragon pen-sock o jade tae, at’s wrocht bi this same craftsman’s haun, but A haena it by uis the nou - A’ll get it the morn an A’ll gie ye them baith thegither”. The Prince wis fair blythe at this, an says, “A’m fell thenkfu for yir guid hairt, an A’m shuir the pen-sock’ll be mair o a wunner yet”. “Ye’ll see the morn” says the Marischal, “whan A’ve gotten them out an sent them ti the Palace”. Sae the Prince thenkit him ance mair afore they baith gaed back ti the buird whaur they’d been, ti tak mait an drink ti the gloamin - an they didna twyne or the baith o them wis fou, whan Prince Duan gied his fareweills an gaed back ti the Palace.
The neisten day Marischal Wang gat out the dragon pen-sock an the twa lion paper-wechts, he pit them in a wee gowden kistie happit wi the yalla silk, he screivit a letter, an he sent Gao the Braw aff wi aathing.
Ance an he’d gotten his maister’s biddin Gao the Braw tuik the twa playocks o jade, pit the letter in his breist, an wan strecht ti Prince Duan’s Palace. He gart the caddies at the yett cry in word ti the chaumerlan, an in nae lang time the chaumerlan hissel cam out ti speir at him “Whase hous wad ye be frae?” Sae Gao the Braw peyed his respecks an answert “A’m sent parteiclar frae the hous o the Royal Guidson Wang wi playocks o jade for the Michtie Prince.”
“His Majestie’s i the midmaist yaird,” quo the chaumerlan, “playin at the baa wi some o the wee libbets. Juist gang ye ben.” “A’ll trouble ye for the road in, an ye please” says Gao the Braw, sae the chaumerlan tuik him ti the haa door, an there Gao the Braw spied Prince Duan.
He’d a curch o souple silk on his heid, he wis weirin a purpie-flourist dragon-goun kiltit up at his middle wi a double-tosselt Policy-an-Weir belt, an on his feet he wure Fleein Phoenix buits broidert wi gowden threid. He wis playin at keepie-uppie wi fower or five o the wee libbets, sae, no juist daurin ti gang breingin on in, Gao the Braw stude an waitit in ahint the Prince’s menyie.
An nou for Gao the Braw this wis the hithercome an the kythin o his fate, for up i the air the baa gaed fleein; Prince Duan cudna kep it; it cam hurlin richt throu the thrang, an it landit at his feet! He spied it comin, an wi the smeddum o the meinit he gied it the Deuk’s Birl an heelt it strecht back ti the Prince!
“Whae are you?” quo the Prince, unco pleased at the sicht, an Gao cam forrit, lowtit doun an said “A’m servitor ti Marischal Wang, bidden bi ma maister ti bring ye twa playocks o the jade, Yir Majestie”. “Ma nevoy’s aye that tentie” smiles the Prince as Gao the Braw tuik out the letter an gied it til him. The Prince liftit the lid o the kistie, hed a bit keek at the playocks, an then he gied aathing ti a chaumer-chiel ti tak awa.
Prince Duan tuik nae tent o whaur the playocks gaed, but spak insteid ti Gao the Braw: “Ye can fairly kick the baa, man. Whit is’t they cry ye?” “They cry me Gao the Braw” says he, lowtin doun an claspin his hauns. “But A juist ken a wee bit kick or twa.” “Grand” quo the Prince, “Come ye awa onti the pairk an we’ll hae a bit kick-about.” “Whit kin o chiel wad A be” says Gao the Braw, “ti daur pit ma fuit in about Yir Grace?” “Whaur’s the hairm o a bit kick? The club here’s the Rack o Clouds, an the pairk’s cried The Warld’s Roun.” “A wadna daur” says Gao the Braw, bouin an beckin ance mair.
Thrie times he wadna, an five times he wad nay-say, but Prince Duan wis set on him playin, sae he juist hed ti lowt doun an ask pardon, lowse his gramashes, an awa onti the pairk. He hedna kickt but twa-thrie times or the Prince wis heizin him on, sae he pit aa the ingyne at ever he hed inti hingin in wi him, an he’d sic a bonnie set an mak ti him, ye’d hae thocht the baa wis stuck til him wi fishie-glue! Prince Duan wis that by the ornar pleased wi him, wad he let him gae hame? Aa nicht he keepit him at the Palace, an the neisten day he pit on a denner for him, makin shuir ti bid Marischal Wang come ti the Palace an dine wi him.
Nou, whan he hedna seen Gao the Braw comin hame yon day, Marischal Wang begude ti wunner at it, but neist day there cam a caddie in ti say “The Nint Prince hes sent ti bid ye come dine at the Palace, Marischal”. Sae the Marischal gaed out ti see the flunkie, read the message, and affhaun backit his horse. Whan he cam ti the Palace he lichtit doun an in he gaed ti see the Prince, an the Prince, fell pleased, thenkit him for the playocks o jade, tuik him in ti dine, an says til him, “Yon Gao the Braw can kick the baa rarelie: whit about me gettin him for a servitor?” Sae Marischal Wang answert him “An he’s onie guid ti ye, Yir Majestie, juist you keep him on at the Palace an he’ll can ser ye fine”. Prince Duan wis blythe at this, an raised his gless in thenks; the twa blethert a while, an i the forenicht they twyned, whan Marischal Wang gaed back ti the Royal Guidson’s Residence. He’s in our tale nae mair.
Weill, ance an he’d gotten Gao the Braw for his man, Prince Duan gied him bite an sup i the Palace. Gao the Braw, frae the time he fell in wi the Prince, follaed him ilka day an gaed niver an inch awa frae him.
Efter twae months wis by King Zhezong passt awa, leavin nae Royal Bairn, sae the Officiars o Policy an the Officiars o Weir tuik avisement an infeftit Prince Duan as Son o Heiven, institutin him wi the style o Huizong an the halie-name o Dominus Doctrinapurissimus et Magister Viamirabilis.
He muntit the Throne an aathing gaed on quait-like, ti on a sudden ae day he says ti Gao the Braw “We’re ettlin ti see ye upheizit, but ye’se naither get fordert nor feed afore ye’ve sert on the Mairches: We’ll hae the Council Militar pit yir name on the leet, tho”. An no hauf a year efter, Gao the Braw wis upheizit ti the degree o Commander o the Palace Marischalry.
Nou he wis a Marischal, Gao the Braw gaed ti the Marischalry ti tak up his fee on the chancie day an the lucky hour he’d prefixt. His Capitanes o Staff, Metropolitans, Forbidden City Sodgers baith o Fuit an o Horse - aa the men set ablow him - cam thegither ti pey their respecks ti him, haunin in ilkane their cairds ti get their names registrate. Ane an bi ane Gao the Braw leetit them aff, til mang them aa there wis wantin but the ae name o Wang Jin, Leirsman o the Forbidden City Echt Hunder Thousan. A hauf-month afore this he’d pitten in a seik-line ti say he’d been taen bad an wisna better, an he hedna been in ti his devoirs sinsyne. This gat Marischal Gao fell roused, an he rairs out “Havers! The cairds is aa in, are they no? Yon tink wadna be gainstaunin the Officiars o State, an thinkin ti jouk ma will, wad he? He’ll juist be lyin by at hame, lettin on he’s seik! Get him here ti me nou!” Sae men wir sent affhaun ti kep Wang Jin at his hous.
Weill, Wang Jin hed naither wife nor bairn, but juist an auld mither o mair nor saxty year auld. The constable says til him, “Marischal Gao hes eenou taen up his fee, an he canna get ye on his leet; the Felt-Marischal’s tellt him at ye wir taen bad at hame, wi a seik-line in an richtlie registrate, but he’s that bleizin he winna hae it. He’s wantin ye keppit, for he says ye’re juist lettin on ye’re seik. Ye’ll hae ti gang this time, Leirsman, for it’s me at’ll get insnorled an ye dinna.”
Whan he heard this Wang Jin juist hed ti thole his ills an gang intil the Marischalry ti cam afore his Marischal. Fower times he lowtit doun, cryin out his “Here sir!”, an then he stude awa ti the side. “You! ye tink ye! Are ye the son o Wang Sheng at wis Leirsman o the Metropolitan Airmy?” quo Gao the Braw “Ay, sir, that’s me” hummlie answers Wang Jin.
“Ye tink ye!” cries Gao the Braw, “yir faither wis a packie at played cuddie-rung about the streets ti sell his physick-mixters - whit wad ye ken o Martial Leir? Yon last officiar at pit ye forrit for Leirsman wis shuirlie blinnd! Ye’d lichtlie me, wad ye, an ye winna thole ma inspectin? Whae div ye think ye are, whillywhawin me wi seikness, an you lyin by at hame pleasin yirsel?”
“A wadna daur” says Wang Jin, “ but it’s richt tho: A wis taen bad an A’m no better”. “Ye widdiefu reiver, ye!” Marischal Gao flytes at him, “Gin ye wir taen bad, hou cam ye here?” “A wadna daur no come whan the Marischal cries,” Wang Jin tellt him ance mair, an fell roused nou, Marischal Gao rairs out “Men o ma menyie, tak him! An gie the tink a guid leatherin!”
A the Ensigneers tho, wir that chief wi Wang Jin at they cam in wi the Felt-Marischal, wha said “It’s a chancy day the day, Marischal, an ye’ve new taen up yir fee - leifer ti lea him gae for the meenit.” “Ye widdiefu reiver ye!” rairs Marischal Gao. “A’ll let ye aff the day for aa thae officiars’ sakes, but A’ll fettle ye the morn, mind!”
Wang Jin awned his fauts, gat ti his feet, liftit his heid ti look, an kent it wis Gao the Braw. As he gaed out the Chambers he gied a souch: “Ma life’ll be ill ti keep this time! A wis thinkin it wis some ‘Marischal Gao’, an here it’s yon waster, the fuitbaa player Gao the Braw o the Eastren Capital! Ance langsyne whan he wis learnin the rungplay he gat felled bi ma faither wi sic a dunt he’d ti lay by thrie-fower month or he cud staun up strecht. His haterent’ll be frae this, nae dout. But he’s fairly gotten on the day, ti be Commander o the Palace Marischalry, an he’ll shuirlie be seekin ti get venged on uis. A niver thocht ti be at his command!...... It’s an auld speak, tae: Dreidna the maister - dreid ye his maistrie. Whit wey will A can staun up ti him? Whit’ll A dae?”
Dowie an wae he turnt back hame ti tell his mither about it aa, an the twa pit their heids i their hauns an they grat. Quo the mither “O sax an thirty ploys, son, rinnin’s aye the best, but A dout we’ve nae place ti rin til!” “Ye’re richt, mither” says Wang Jin. “Yir lad’s been thinkin on it, an that maun be the ploy. There’s H.E. Warden Chong the Elder at hauds the Border Mairches i the Stewartrie o Stentsaucht: monie’s the sodger o his command at veisits the capital, an fine they aye like my play wi brodstaff an wi rung. Whit for sud we no jouk awa an seek a bield wi them? It’s an airt whaur fowk are needit, an we’se get a guid dounsettin yonder”. An sae the twa, mither an son, concludit.
But the mither says “Son, A’ll slee awa wi ye fine, but there’s twa gairds at the yett at’s depute bi the Palace Marischalry ti mind ye. A dout, gin they get ti ken o’t, we shuirlie no get awa.” Nae maitter, mither, dinna fash: A’ve the wey ti fettle them” says Wang Jin.
Late on i the day, in about the gloamin time, Wang Jin cried Gairdsman Zhang an tellt him “Tak ye a bit denner nou, for A’ll be sendin ye a message efter”. “Whaur wad ye sen uis, Leirsman?” quo Zhang, an Wang Jin tellt him “Whan A wis taen bad a whylie syne A hecht incense ti the Chapel o the Halie Ben ayont Wersh Date Port. The morn’s morn early, A’m gaun ti kennle a spirlie or twa. Gang ye on afore uis the nicht an tell the betheral ti apen his yetts early on. A’ll be kennlin incense first, an neist A’ll gie the Thrie Offrins ti Lords Li an Liu. Juist byde ye at the Chapel an wait on me.” Zhang greed, an efter he’d etten his supper he cried in his guidnichts, an awa he gaed ti the Chapel.
That nicht mither an son rowed up their traivlin claes an their silks an their siller inti a shouther-pock an gat twae mealpocks ti hing on the pownie’s back. They waitit or the fift hour, afore the day hed dawed, whan Wang Jin waukent Gairdsman Li an tellt him “Tak ye this siller ti the Chapel o the Halie Ben for uis. A’ll get caunles an papers an come efter ye”
Sae Wang Jin graithit the pownie hissel an led it out the stable, he pit the mealpocks on the saiddle an tichtent aathing wi a raip, then he led the baist ti the back yett an gied his mither a heize up onti its back. Wi aa the wechtie plenishins an the coorse gear left ahint them, he steikit the yetts baith but an ben, shouthert his pockstang, an awa he gaed ahint the pownie. Sae it wis, i the derk o the fift hour, weill afore the dawin-time, they chanced their haun an sleed awa out the Wastlin Glore Port ti tak the gate for the Sheriffdom o Stentsaucht.
Weill, ance an the twa gairdsmen hed coft the offrin-maits an gat them bylt, they waited at the Chapel or the saxt hour, an naebodie cam. Gairdsman Li begude ti fidge an fash, but whan he wan back ti the hous he fand the yetts steikit but an ben, an he cudna get in. He gaed speirin about hauf the day but there wis naebodie there. It wis weirin late whan Gairdsman Zhang begude ti tak misdoutins i the Chapel, sae he skelpit back ti the hous tae, an reinged about wi Gairdsman Li ti the forenicht. Bi the time the derkness wis comin on the twa kent they wadna see him comin hame that nicht, nor his auld mither aither.
Nest day the twae gaed speirin at aa his kin, but cudna fin him. Feart they’d get insnorled, they gaed ti the Marischalry to lodge a dittay:
Leirsman Wang hes forletten his hous an fugied wi his mither ti airts unkent.
Whan Marischal Gao kent o this he raired in muckle teen “The widdiefu squaddie’s fugied! We’ll no be lang o seein whaur the tink can rin til!” An affhaun he subscryvit Letters o Caption on the fugitour Wang Jin an sent them out ti ilka Stewartrie an sheriffdom. The twae at pit the dittay in wirna chairged, sae they’re in our tale nae mair.
Nou, whan Leirsman Wang an his auld mither left the Eastren Capital, they’d juist ti eat whan they wir hungert an drink whan they wir dry, stoppin wi the nicht an awa wi the dawin. Mair nor a month they’d been on the road, Wang Jin gangin ahint the pownie wi his pockstang on his shouther, whan on a sudden ae day as the hour wis weirin late, he says til his auld mither “Heiven’s thocht peety o us! It’s a blessin the twae o us wan free o the mishanter at wis cuisten owre us like an unco net! It’s no faur nou ti the sheriffdom o Stentsaucht, sae een tho Marischal Gao sens his menyie ti kep us, he’ll no can dae it!” An mither an son wir baith that blythe, they passed the inn an niver kent it. Paddin on late, they cam niver near clachan nor mercat-toun: whaur wad they seek a ludgin?
Juist whan they didna ken whit ti dae there cam leamin throu the wuids the farawa glint o a lamp. “Fine then” says Wang Jin. “An we gang in yonder an we’re cannie an gentie, nae dout we’ll get ludgin for the nicht, an we’ll up an awa the morn’s morn early.”
Whan they held inti the wuids ti hae a bit look they seen a muckle fairmtoun wi cley waas aa about it, an roun the waas a twa-thrie hunder o muckle sauchtrees. Leirsman Wang cam afore the mains an chappit on the yett a guid whylie afore a cottar-bodie cam out. Pittin his pockstang doun he peyed his respecks, an the bodie says til him “Whit’s yir business here?” Wang Jin answers him “A’ll tell ye nae lee: ma mither an masel wir that gleg ti be gangin at we passt the inn an landit here, whaur there’s naither toun near afore us nor inn near ahint. We’re seekin the len o a nicht’s ludgin in yir guid hous, an we’re willin ti pey the ludgin, as accords o auld haunts. A howp it’s no aathegither misconvenient.” “Sae yon’s the wey o’t” says the bodie. “Juist byde ye here a bit an A’ll gang speir at the maister. Gin he’s willin ye’ll can stop here nae bother.” “It’s guid o ye, brither” quo Wang Jin.
The bodie gaed ben a whylie, syne cam out an said “The Auld Maister says the twa o ye’s ti come awa in”. Sae Wang Jin bade the auld wyfe licht doun, shouthert his pockstang an gaed leadin the pownie the lenth o the threshie-fluir, whaur he pit doun his pockstang an tethert the pownie ti a sauchtree. Then mither an son gaed strecht ti the theikit haa ti see the maister.
An auld bodie o mair nor saxtie years, wi baird an hair baith white, the Auld Maister wure on his heid a biggin-cap ti fend awa the heat an stour; about him wis happit a strecht-gaured braid goun girdit at his middle wi a black silk belt, an on his feet he wure buits o barkent leather. Wang Jin lowtit doun afore him, but quicklike the auld bodie says “Nae need o lowtin doun, ma guest! Ye’re traivlin bodies, wind-bufft an nithert wi the frost. Sit ye doun a whylie.” Ance an the common gentienesses wir by mither an son baith set theirsels doun, an the Auld Maister speirit o them “Whaur cam ye frae? Hou cam ye here i the pitmirk nicht?”
Wang Jin answert him “Yir sairvant’s cried Zhang an belangs the capital. Ma haill aucht an haddin wis tint a whylie syne sae, wantin ma keep, A’m for Stentsaucht ti seek a bield wi ma nainfowk. Owre gleg ti be gangin, we misst the inn the day an niver kent it. We’re seekin the len o a nicht’s ludgin in yir guid hous: we’ll be awa the morn’s morn early, an we’ll pey ye the lawin, as accords o auld haunts.”
“Nae need o that - whae i the warld cairries a hous about on his heid whan he’s traivlin?” quo the Auld Maister. “A daur say the twa o ye’ll no hae kennled a fire for yir denners?” An he gied word ti the haafowk ti set out vivers.
In nae lang time a buird wis set i the chaumer o deis. In cam the haafowk wi a tray wi fower sairins o greens an ane o beef, syne they set aathing on the buird, warmed the wine an syled it out. “We haena muckle ti trait ye wi in a wee fairmtoun like this: A howp ye winna tak it ill” quo the auld bodie, sae Wang Jin gat ti his feet an thenkit him: “The mither an me are distroublin ye for naethin - sicna guidwill isna easy peyed back”. “Nae need o a speak like yon” says the Auld Maister. “Juist tak ye a dram, an ye will”, an then he presst them ti sax-seiven bickers o wine an laid the vivers afore them.
Efter they’d etten aathing the ashets an coggies wir redd awa an the Auld Maister gat up ti tak Wang Jin an his mither ti the guesten chaumer whaur they wir ti lie. Wang Jin says til him “Gin a micht bother ye wi anither thing - the garron ma mither rid’ll be wantin suppert. We’ll pey ye for aathing at ance.” “Nae bother!” quo the auld bodie “We’ve cuddies an jauds o our ain: A’ll tell ma fowk ti tak it out ti the stable an corn it wi the lave.” Sae Wang Jin thenkit him, shouthert his pockstang an gaed ti the chaumer, whaur the haafowk hed kennlt lamps an brocht in het watter for washin their feet wi. The Auld Maister gaed awa ben, sae mither an son thenkit the haafowk, steikit the yett, an laid theirsels doun ti rest.
Neist mornin they slept ti the day hed dawed, sae whan naebodie hed seen them up, the Auld Maister cam afore the guesten-chaumer, whaur he heard Inbye the soun o Wang Jin’s auld mither greitin. “Ye’ve misst the dawin, ma guests” quo he, “it’s time ye wir up”. Wang Jin heard him an cam speedilie out ti pey his respecks, sayin “A’ve been up a fair whylie. Muckle’s the distroublance we’ve gien ye this past nicht - it’s fair misbehadden o us!” “Whae is’t at’s girnin like this?” “A’ll tell ye nae lee, maister” says Wang Jin. “It’s the auld mither at’s wearie an forfochen wi the saiddle. She wis taen bad last nicht wi the hairt-stounds.” “Aweill, ye needna fash then” quo the Auld Maister, “for yir auld mither’s juist ti stop here in ma dwallin for a day or twa mair. A’ve a line for a thing at’ll help the hairt-stounds, an A’ll sen a bodie ti the burgh-toun ti get the physick-mixter made up for her. See an get her ti lie quaitlike an rest hersel.” Sae Wang Jin thenkit him.
But our tale winna wearie ye. Frae this on Wang Jin an his mither bade on at the mains wi the Auld Maister. Sax or seiven days efter she’d taen the feesick Wang Jin thocht his auld mither wis on the mend, sae he buskit hissel ti be gaun. But as he gaed ti the stable yon day ti see ti the pownie, he spied on the green a laddie-loun wi his bare breist aa buistit owre wi blae dragons. He’d a face on him as roun as a siller dishie, he’d be about echteen-nineteen year auld, and he wis playin awa at the rung.
Wang Jin lookit a while an, niver thinkin, he let slip: “It’s guid rungplay, but there’s fauts intil’t, an it wadna staun up agin the rale braw lads”. The laddie heard him an wis muckle roused: “An whae are you” he rairs, “that ye daur come here an mak a mock o me? A’ve hed seiven or echt namelie dominies, an A wadna think you’d be onie better as them! Daur ye hae a bit cleik wi me?”
He wisna dune sayin it whan the Auld Maister comes by an rairs at him “Nae need for sic ill-fashions!” the laddie says “Aw, but A’ll no hae this tink makin a mock o ma rungplay!” “We haena a veisitor at kens the brodstaff an rung, hae we?” says the auld bodie, an Wang Jin answers him “A kin o ken a bittie. Micht A speir at ye, faither, whit’s this laddie ti the hous?” “It’s this auld bodie’s son” says the Auld Maister, an Wang Jin says “Gin he’s the young maister o the hous an he wants learnin, hou wad it be for me ti airt him onti the richt wey o the thing?” “Sic a thing wad juist be aathegither grand” says the Auld Maister, an ti his son he cries “C’wa here an pey yir respecks ti yir dominie!”
Wad the laddie tak tent? Mair maddent yet, he cries “Faither, tak nae tent o the tink’s blethers! Whan he can get the waur o me wi the rung, A’ll pey ma respecks an tak him for ma dominie!” Says Wang Jin “An the young maister winna tak it in earnest, we’ll try a bit shottie o the rungs, then”.
I the verra midmaist o the green the laddie gart his rung birl roun like a whirlie, an ti Wang Jin he cries “C’wa then! C’wa! Ye’re nae braw lad an ye’re feart!” But Wang Jin juist leuch, an niver liftit a haun.
The Auld Maister says “Ye’re willin ti learn the thrawart craitur, sae hou no gie him a bit rungplay?” Wang Jin leuch: “Gin A gang brashin in about yir son, A dout it’ll be naither weill taen nor bonnie ti see. “Nae bother” quo the auld ane, “Suppose ye brak his airms an legs, it’s aa his ain daein”. “Forgie me ma ill-fashions, then” says Wang Jin.
Frae the weaponsock he liftit a rung an forrit he cam onti the green, whaur he stude ready at the Drums an Standarts. The loun hed a bit look at him, syne cam walloppin in, gaun strecht for him. Wang Jin drew his rung back suddentlike an stept aside; birlin his ane, the loun cam breingin efter him. Wang Jin jinkit about an liftit his rung up i the air ti whang it doun, an the laddie, seein it come, socht ti kep it wi his ain, but Wang Jin didna ding throu, for he checkit his straik an gied the loun sic a dad on his breist at wi the ae clour he drave him erselins owre an gart him loss his rung! Wang Jin pit his rung by an gaed strecht forrit ti help the laddie up, sayin “Nae offense, nou, nae offense!”
The laddie-loun clam ti his feet, gaed for a stuil at stude nearhaun by, an set Wang Jin doun on it: “A rale thriftless prenticin A’ve hed frae aa thae dominies” says he, “for A’m richtlie no worth a haet! There’s nae ither wey o’t, dominie - A’ll juist hae ti ask ye will ye learn me!” “Me an the auld mither have gien yir hous sic distroublance thae days bypast, an we’ve nae ither wey o peyin ye back, sae A maun e’en dae ma best for ye” quo Wang Jin.
Fair pleased, the Auld Maister tellt the laddie ti chynge his claes, an they aa gaed thegither ti set theirsels doun i the haa ben the hous. He cried on the haafowk ti slauchter a yowe an ti set out mait an drink an aa kinkind o vivers, then he bade Wang Jin’s mither come an dine wi them. Whan the fower o them wir aa sittin doun wi glesses in their hauns, the Auld Maister gat ti his feet an presst them ti a dram: “Ye’re that skillie an sterk, dominie, ye maun shuirlie be a Leirsman. Ma laddie, tho he hes een, kensna Peace Hill”.
Wang Jin leuch an said “Nae skellum swicks anither, an bonnie men ilkither winna geck: Zhang isna ma name, for wha A am is Wang Jin, Leirsman o the Forbidden City Echt Hunder Thousan, at ilka day maun jouk an jink wi brodstaff an rung.
“There’s ane Marischal Gao at’s new taen up his fee - him at wis felled bi ma faither afore me, but is nou the Commander o the Palace Marischalry - an he wis ettlin ti see Wang Jin fettelt, for in his breist he bure an auld haterent. It wadna dae for me ti be at his command, an A’m no able for staunin up til him, sae the ae an ane thing for us baith wis juist ti slee awa up ti the Sheriffdom o Stentsaucht an lippen til H.E. Warden Chong the Elder for bield an fendin.
“We niver thocht ti come here an meet sic tentie care frae yirsel an yir son, guidsir. O yir ane guidwill, forby, ye helpit ma auld mither wi her bad turn, sae we’re fair behadden ti ye for the wey ye’ve seen efter us thir days bypast. Sin the young maister’s gleg ti be learnt, A’ll learn him wi aa ma hairt. The thing is, aathing he’s been learnt is yon fantoosh cuddie-rung at’s bonnie ti see but uiseless i the tulyie o weir. A’ll tak him owre it aa frae the verra stert.”
“Ye’ll ken bi this hou ye wir waurit, ma son!” says the Auld Maister. “Come ye here nou an pey ye yir respecks ti yir dominie”. An whan he’d dune that, the Auld Maister says “Leirsman, ye’re the owrepeer o us aa. Masel nou, ma fore-elders aye bade here in Gloresheddae County wi the Smaa Glore Hill forenent them. The toun here they cry Shi’s Toun, for there’s aathegither thrie-fower hunder faimlies intil’t, ilkane wi the eftername o Shi.
“Ma son, frae the time he wis a bairn, caredna by the fairmin wark, for brodstaff an rung alane he lous. His mither cudna talk him out o’t, an she dee’d for verra grief. Masel, A’d juist ti lea him ti his ain gate - A wadna ken hou muckle siller A’ve spent on dominies ti learn him. There wis a cannie-haunit craftsman A bade come, tae, at jaggit him aa owre wi thae bonnie flourist buistins: shouthers, airms, breist an wame - he’s buistit wi nine dragons aathegither. It’s the speak o the haill county: aabodie cries him Shi Jin, The Nine-Gaired Dragon.
“Ye’re here the day, tho, Leirsman, sae it wad be grand thing for him ti be brocht ti perfiteness aa at ance. Ye maun be shuir A’ll see ye weill thenkit.” Wang Jin wis blythe at this an says, “Niver you heed, maister! Efter aa ye’ve juist said ti me, A’ll no gang or A’ve learnt the young maister aathing.”
Frae yon day on, whan they tuik bite an sup galore, Leirsman Wang an his auld mither wir keepit on at the mains. Ilka day Shi Jin socht leir, sae ane an bi ane the Leirsman guidit him frae the verra stert in aa the echteen kin o Martial Leir. Auld Maister Shi gaed awa ti the burgh-toun o Gloresheddae ti gang on wi his burlaw-baillie’s devoirs, an we say nae mair about him.
Be little an bi wees the time wure in onkent sae’s mair nor hauf the year wis by. Ane an bi ane Shi Jin hed consaivit a verra perfiteness wi ilkane o the echteen kin o Martial Leir. Muckle an haill-hairtit wis the guidal he hed frae Wang Jin, wha learnt him ti he wis a verra wonder an a ferlie in ilka thing.
An here ablow’s the ECHTEEN KIN O MARTIAL LEIR:
the gisairn an heuk
the brodstaff an rung
Wang Jin seen the laddie wis perfite learnt, an ti hissel he begude ti think that, tho it wis aiblins braw yonder, it juist wadna dae. Ae day it cam owre him ti tak his leave an gang ti the Sheriffdom o Stentsaucht. Wad Shi Jin let him gae? Quo he “Gin ye’ll juist byde here, dominie, A’ll gie ye baith yir fendin an yir keep for aa yir born days, as muckle as ye like.” Says Wang Jin “Honest brither, we’re geylie behadden ti ye for yir guid hairt, for aathing here’s been braw. But A dout it wad be ill-convenient gin Marischal Gao wis ti speir uis out, for ye wad be accusable, an yon wad be a kittle thing for the baith o us. Wi aa ma hairt A’m set for the Sheriffdom o Stentsaucht ti lippen til H.E. Warden Chong for a fendin. Yonder’s the strenth at hauds the mairches - it’s an airt whaur fowk’s needit, an we’ll get a guid dounsettin there.”
Tho sair they besocht him Shi Jin an the Auld Maister michtna gar him byde, but juist hed ti mak dae wi pitten on a fare-ye-weill foy an giein him forby twae bowts o satin an a hunder unce o siller in thenks. Neist day, pockstang an pownie baith graithit an buskit, mither an son gied their fareweills ti Auld Maister Shi, Wang Jin bade his auld mither back the pownie, an they tuik the gate for the Stentsaucht Road.
Shi Jin gart a cottar-bodie cairry the pockstang, an for ten mile he convoyed them hissel, hairt-sair at the pairtin. At the wa-gaun he lowtit doun in fareweill, an he fair loot the tears doun faa whan they twyned.
Back he gaed wi the cottar, an the ither twa - Wang Jin ance mair ahint the pownie, his pockstang owre his shouther - tuik the gate for the Wastlin Mairches an wan awa.
Our tale tells naethin o Wang Jin an hou he gaed ti list for a sodger, but tells insteid o Shi Jin, wha gaed back ti the mains an wrocht ilka day ti strenthen hissel. A single man an sterk in his youthheid, he raise at the third hour, haufroads throu the nicht, ti play the Martial Leir, an ahint the mains he’d shuit his bou an ride aa the braid day lang.
It wadna be hauf a year efter at Shi Jin’s faither wis taen that bad wi seikness at for monie days he michtna rise frae his bed. Tho Shi Jin sent fowk faur an wide for medicinars ti trait him, he michtna leive, sae - wallaway! - the auld man dee’d.
Strechtawa Shi Jin seen ti the Graithin of the Deid-Kist an the Kistin; he invytit freirs ti haud Halie Exercises, an hissel he keepit the Seiven Septenae fasts for the Election o the Auld Maister’s saul. He gat priesties in tae, ti institute the Deid Mass ti speed the saul ti the Assumption Ayont; a dizzen Offrin Tables he furnisht for the Exercises o Merit at wad borrow the Auld Maister’s saul out o Hell, an he prefixt a chancy day an a lucky hour for the Takin Out o the Corp an for the Yirdin. Ilkane weirin their care-weeds, the thrie-fower hunder faimlies o Shi’s Toun cam ti see the corp awa, an the Yirdin itsel wis in the lairs o his fore-elders on the hill bewast the toun.
Frae this on there wis nane ti tak the guidal o Shi Jin’s hous, for he wis laith ti dae the fairmin darg; he socht alane for fowk ti play the weapons wi, or at the rung an brodstaff pree his skeill.
Thrie-fower months wisna lang o weirin awa efter Auld Maister Shi dee’d, an it wis sune the mids o the saxt month, whan simmer’s days are birstlin het. Ae bonnie day, wi nae ploys in haun, Shi Jin hed taen out a fauldin-bed an set hissel doun ablow the caller shade o the sauchtrees bi the threshie-fluir. A souch o wind cam ti him frae the pine wuids owre the wey an, walcomin it, he says “Whit a braw caller air!” But juist then he seen a bodie snowkin about an keekin aroun him: ti hissel he says “Whit cantraip’s this? Whae’s that yonder spyin out this mains o mines?” Sae he lowpit up an turnt in ahint a bit tree sae’s he cud tak a bit keek - an here he seen it wis Luckie Li, the poacher an rabbitman.
“Luckie Li!” says Shi Jin, “Whit are ye daein snowkin about on ma grund? Ye wadna be spyin out the taps an tails o aa ma gear, wad ye?” Luckie Li did him a service an says “Maister, A cam seekin a bit dram wi Midgie Qiu, but whan a seen ye takin the caller air A didna daur breinge in on ye.”
“Tell uis this, than,” quo Shi Jin. “Ance on a time whan ye cam here ye aye brocht a bit game ti sell us - an we didna lea ye the waur o’t, aither - sae hou is’t at this lang time ye haena brocht onie? Ye wadna be thinkin A’d nae siller, wad ye?” “A wadna daur, Maister” says Luckie Li. “There hesna been onie game this lang while, yon’s hou A dochtna come.”
“Havers! ye’re no tellin me there’s hills sae muckle as the Smaa Glore Hill, that lang an braid, an there’s naither hert nor mawkin there?” says Shi Jin, sae Luckie Li answert him: “Ye dinna ken Maister, sae A’ll tell ye: there’s been a cleckin o hardmen come ti the hill an taen haud o a strenth. They’ve a sax-seiven hunder o broken men convenit yonder, wi a hunder braw pownies an mair. The capitane at’s abune them aa is Zhu Wu, cried The Lang-Drauchtit General; saicont’s Chen Da, Tiger Lowp-the-Burn, an third’s Yang Chun, The Bawsent Worm. Thir thrie capitanes is spulyiein an herryin baith hous an haa, for there’s nane in Gloresheddae County can pit a stop ti them. Tho the’r thrie thousan string o cunyie pit out for a rewaird ti them at wad tak them, whae wad daur gang up an get them? Us smaa fowk daurna tak the hill for game wi aa this, sae we haena onie by ti sell ti ye, sir.”
“A’d heard there wis hardmen about, tae” says Shi Jin, “ but A niver thocht the tinks wad grow sae big: they’re shuir ti be a sair trauchle ti us aa.......Luckie Li, frae this on, see can ye get uis some game gin there’s onie.”
An back gaed Shi Jin ti the haa, thinkin ti hissel “The tinks are growin that big, they’re shuir ti come an distrouble the clachan here. An yon’s ti be the wey o’t.......”
Sae he tellt his fowk ti wale out an slauchter twa fat kye: guid wine he aye hed, for it wis made at the mains. Syne first he brunt a hunder blads o Gae-Weill paper for guid luck, and neist he cried ti his fowk an sent them roun aa the twa-thrie hunder cottar-bodies o the forename o Shi at bade i the clachan, an he gart them come ilkane ti the theikit haa o the mains an there set theirsels doun, rankit bi their ages.
Whan his fowk hed gien out bickers an presst aabodie ti a dram, ti aa the fowk forgaithert there he says: “A hear there’s thrie hardmen on the Smaa Glore Hill, an that they’ve gaithert sax-seiven hunder o broken men ti rype an herrie hous an haa. The tinks are grown that big at air or late they’ll bring sair trauchle ti the toun. A’ve asked ye here parteiclar the day ti think on’t: suppose thae tinks dae come here, we’ll need ti be buskit an readie for them. Whan A caa the clappie at the mains, come ye aa aheid ti help uis wi yir brodstaffs an yir rungs, an gin there’s onie bother at onie o yir ain houses, we’ll dae the same thing. Gin the tane fortifees the tither, atween us we’ll keep the clachan safe. Suppose they come here ti the mains, tho, juist you lea it ti me ti sort them out......”
“Us kintra bodies maun e’en lippen ti ye in aathing, maister” says the lot o them. “Gin e’er yon clappie souns, we’ll no daur no come”. An ance they’d thenkit him for the dram they aa gaed back ti their ain houses ti graith their gear. Frae this on Shi Jin begude ti redd up his waas an his dykes, his yetts an his doors, an ti sort out his steidins. He set clappies up in ilka airt, he hed his armour furbisht, an he seen ti it his pownies an his swords wis aa in guid fettle, sae’s he’d be able for ti gainstaun reivers. We’ll say nae mair about him, tho.
Our tale gangs nou ti the strenth o the Smaa Glore Hill whaur the thrie capitanes sat colloguin. Chief amang them wis Zhu Wu, the Lang-Drauchtit General, wha belanged Hynelawtie toun: weill cud he play the double-knifes, an tho he wisna the skilliest o fechters, he kent richt throulie the tactics o battle, an souple wis his craft i the pratticks o weir. The saicont, a braw lad wi the forename o Chen an the eftername o Da, wis a man frae Yester: he played a brodstaff o skinklin white steel. The third braw lad, wha hed the forename o Yang an the eftername o Chun, wis frae Menskland County o Mosscrop Stewartrie, an it wis a muckle lang-heftit bill he uised.
Yon day it wis Zhu Wu at said ti Chen Da an Yang Chun “A hear nou in Gloresheddae Toun they’ve pitten out thrie thousan string o cunyie ti him at wad cleik us - in trowth A dout there’s a set-tae comin, an the thing is, we’ve a want o siller an vivers here. Hou’s about gaun for a bit spulyie ti plenish our strenth? Gin we’ve vivers in an gaithert agin the time the Government Airmy comes, we’ll can brazen it out faur better!”
“Ye’re richt” says Tiger-Lowp-the-Burn, Chen Da. “We’ll awa doun ti Gloresheddae Toun an seek a len o vivers -thenwe’ll see whitlike they are.” “Ye dinna want ti gang ti Gloresheddae” says the Bawsent Worm, Yang Chun. “Juist gang ti Menskland, an we canna loss!” “Menskland fowk’s gey few, tho” says Chen Da, “an there winna be muckle gear. Gloresheddae wad be better ti tak, for they’re gey weill-gaithert fowk wi siller an vivers galore.”
“There’s a thing ye dinna ken, big brither” says Yang Chun. “Gin it’s Gloresheddae we tak, we’ll hae ti pass Shi’s Toun. Yon Nine-Gaired Dragon, Shi Jin, is a muckle baist o a man: it wadna dae ti be steirin him up. Dae ye think he’d be willin juist ti lea us gae by?” “Ye’re owre feart, wee brither!” quo Chen Da. “An we daurna staun up ti the ae wee clachan, hou’ll we daur tak on the Government Airmy?” “Dinna lichtlie him, brither! He’s a fell handie bodie!” says Yang Chun, an Zhu Wu says “Ay, A’ve heard he’s everie inch the bonnie fechter, an they say he’s fell skillie tae......We’ll no gang, then, brithers.”
But Chen Da begude ti rair, cryin “Will ye juist shut yir bluidie gubs, the twa o ye! Wi aa yir blawin about the ither fella’s smeddum, ye’ll smoor wir ain! He’s nae mair nor a man. He hesna thrie heids an sax airms, hes he? A wadna think sae!” an ti his henchmen he cries “Gae saiddle me ma pownie! We’re gaun ti tak Shi’s Toun, an efter that we’ll come at Gloresheddae Toun!”
Owre an owre Zhu Wu an Yang Chun besocht him sair, but wad he tak tent? He buckled on his armour an he backit his pownie, he walit out a hunder an fifty o the smaa fuit-fowk an syne wi drums bangin an gongs dirlin they gaed strecht ti Shi’s Toun.
Shi Jin juist happent ti be out afore the mains seein ti his pownie an his sword whan a cottar-bodie cam owre ti let him ken o this. Shi Jin lissent an stertit ti caa the clappies at the mains, syne bi east an bi wast, ahint an afore, the thrie-fower hunder Shis heard the clappie’s soun, an there forgaithert at the mains a guid thrie-fower hunder fowk, trailin their brodstaffs or pouin their rungs.
An there they seen Shi Jin: he’d a scairf on his heid, he wis weirin a scarlet jack wi a blue jaiket o the brocade owre it; on his feet he’d buits o hollin green, at his middle wis girdit a braid pouchie-sash o leather, an he wis happit in a breist-an-back o airn. He’d a full case o arras, an in his haun a thrie-broddit twa-edged bill wi fower bores an echt virls ti’t.
The cottars led him in a pownie as firie reid as the grieshoch: he backit it an in his haun he grippit his bill. Afore him wis arrayit thirtysome cottars sterk an strang, rankit ahint him wir ninetysome o the mair sumphish landart chiels, an at the verra back cam ilkane o the fairmin fowk o Shi’s Toun. Rowtin out aa thegither, they gaed strecht for the road-en benorth the clachan.
At the heid o his men an horse, Chen Da o the Smaa Glore Hill cam skelpin doun ti the braefuit an made formation o his henchmen. Whan Shi Jin lookit he seen Chen Da weirin on his heid a skyrie-reid scairf knottit intil a howe; he wis happit in a corslet o airn owrecled wi the gowd, an owre it he wure a reid twiltit jaiket: on his feet he’d lang buits turnt owre at the taps, an at his middle wis a seiven-fuit sash o cordit threids. He rade a hie-heidit white pownie, an cairried thwartlins about him an echteen-fuit lance o skinklin steel. The smaa fuit-fowk wis rowtin awa aa the while as the twa muntit chiefs cam face ti face, the tane wi the tither.
Frae his pownie Chen Da lookit at Shi Jin an lowtit doun ti dae him service, but Shi Jin raired out “Youse anes at wad murder an burn, at herries hous an haa: the meikle ill ye dae wad derken the verra lift - daith sud be yir fairin! Nae dout ye’ve lugs on ye, sae ye’ll ken o me? Deed, ye’ve a bonnie nerve, ti come strampin yir feet owre great Jupiter’s grund!”
Chen Da answert him frae his pownie: “We’ve a bit want o vivers i the strenth on the hill, sae we thocht ti gang ti Gloresheddae Toun an tak a len o some. We’ve ti pass throu the mains, guidsir, an tho we’re boun ti borra througang aff o ye, we wadna daur lift a single blade o gress. Gin ye cud lea us gae by, it wad be naitral ti see ye thenkit whan we cam back.”
“Howt awa!’ cries Shi Jin. “A’m a burlaw-baillie, an richt nou A’m ettlin ti see aa yir reivin gang cleikit. Thocht ye A wadna kep ye whan ye cam by the clachan the day? Wad A juist lea ye gae, think ye? Gin the burgh-toun kent o that A’d get rarelie insnorled!”
“Atween the fower seas, we’re brithers aa” says Chen Da. “Gie’s througang, for it’s nae bother ti ye.” “Blethers! E’en tho A wis willin, there’s ane here at isna - speir at him, an gang throu gin he’s willin!” says Shi Jin, an Chen Da speirs “Whae wad ye hae uis speir at, ma braw lad?” “Speir at the blade in ma haun an see gin it’ll lea ye gae!” cries Shi Jin, sae Chen Da rairs out, fell roused “Ye needna tak sic a guid conceit o yirsel! He at wad hirsle fowk mauna rin them owre, mind!”
Shi Jin wis roused tae. He hunkert hissel doun in his saiddle an cam brashin forrit ti fecht wi Chen Da, birlin his bill as he cam. Chen Da gied his pownie a skelp an cam forrit ti meet Shi Jin, his lance ready presentit. The twa horsemen yokit thegither a guid whylie, ti Shi Jin fenyied a Lowpen Steik at loot Chen Da tak a dab at his kyte wi the lance: Shi Jin, tho, gied a jee sae Chen Da landit, lance an aa, richt in his airms! Syne, wi a souple rax o airms as lang’s a monkey’s an an aisy twist o a middle as jimp as a wolf’s, Shi Jin tuik juist the ae oxter-lift ti cleik Chen Da lichtlie up out o his fancie inlaid saiddle. Hoolie an fairlie then he claucht him bi his broidert pouchie-sash an cuist him ti the grund, an his warhorse ran wind-flaucht awa!
Shi Jin cried on his fowk ti tak Chen Da an bind him in a tow, then wi the ae brash they drave the broken men awa. Shi Jin gaed back ti the mains, an hed Chen Da bund ti the midmaist pillar o the haa, ti wait on the time whan he’d cleikit the ither twa reiver chiefs an gotten his rewaird for takin them in. Neist, he rewairdit his ain men wi a dram, then for the meantime he sent them hame. They aa ruised him wi “Maister Shi isna cried a hero for naethin!”
O their joy an their dram-drinkin we winna tell, for our tale turns nou ti the strenth on the hill, whaur Zhu Wu an Yang Chun wir switherin an wonderin, for they didna richtlie ken whit wis gaun on. Syne the smaa fowk they’d sent doun ti fin out cam skelpin back up the brae wi a tuim horse, cryin “Wae’s me! Our big brither Chen wadna tak tent o his twa brithers, an he’s awa wi’t nou!” Sae Zhu Wu speirit at them an they tellt him aa about the yokin o the twa lances, sayin “Whit a bonnie fechter yon Shi Jin is!”
“He wadna tak a tellin frae me, an this mishanter’s the outcome o it!” says Zhu Wu, an Yang Chun says “ Whit for sud the haill jingbang o us no gang doun an fecht it out ti get him?” “That wadna dae aither” says Zhu Wu, “for gin Chen Da hissel wis waurit, whit wey wad you daunton the man? There’s but the ae an ane desperate ploy for us - gin it disna save him, it’s aa by for you an me!”
“Whit desperate ploy’s this?” speirs Yang Chun, sae wi a lown whisper close in ti his lug, Zhu Wu says “It maun be siclike.......an it maun be sae..........” “A rare ploy!” says Yang Chun. “A’ll gang wi ye, then. It winna dae ti hing about.”
Our tale turns back ance mair ti the mains nou, an ti Shi Jin. He wis rampin mad an still no settelt whan a cottar come fleein in ti tell him “Zhu Wu an Yang Chun are here frae the strenth on the hill!” “The tinks’re giein owre thegither - A’ll gar the twa o them tak law at ance! Gae bring the pownie!” quo Shi Jin. An whan he stertit ti caa the clappies, his fowk wirna lang o comin til him. He lowpit on his pownie an wis gey near out the yett whan he spied Zhu Wu an Yang Chun shankin up afore him: side for side the twa gaed doun on their knees an liftit up til him twa faces aa broukit wi fower streams o tears.
“You twa that’s on yir knees! Whit wad ye say ti me?” he cries, an a greitin Zhu Wu answers him wi this: “Us thrie, puir bodies at we are, wir aye that persecutit bi the law, time an time again, at we cud dae nocht else bar tak ti the heather, an at the verra stert o’t the thrie o us swure an aith: ‘Tho birth on ae day we canna weill seek, we sweir we’ll dee thegither’. Tho for honour an for richt we canna compare wi auldwarld heroes like Guan Yu, Zhang Fei or Liu Bei, in our hairts we’re the same as they wir.
“Our brither Chen Da at wadna tak a tellin frae us hes affrontit yir tiger-bauld dignitie wi his misgates, an at yir ain guid hous he wis claucht bi yirsel, bonnie fechter at ye are. Tho hummlie we besocht ye, ye’d niver lea him gae, sae we’ve come here the nou ti dee, aa thrie o’s thegither.
“We howp, bonnie fechter at ye are, ye’ll tak us in aa thrie ti get yir rewaird. A sweir at, gin ye dae, we winna lift an eebrou, for aa we seek is daith at sic a bonnie fechter’s haun, wi naither haterent nor ill-will in our hairts.”
“Here’s honestie, tho!” thocht Shi Jin ti hissel whan he’d heard aa this. “Gin A wis ti tak them in ti the officiars an seek a rewaird, ilka braw lad i the land wad lichtlie me, for A wad be nae hero.....the auld speak says, the tiger taks nae cabrach.......’ An Shi Jin says ti them “Come awa ben wi me, the baith o ye.”
Zhu Wu an Yang Chun gaed ben ahint him wi nae dreidour ti they cam afore the benmaist haa, whaur they kneelit doun an ance mair bade Shi Jin bind them in a tow. Thrie times Shi Jin bade them rise, an five times mair he besocht them, but wad thae twa tak tent?
There’s an auld speak: Mense lous mense, an braw lads aye ken braw lads.
Shi Jin says “Ye’ve an honestie about ye that’s deep an strang: A’d be nae braw lad at aa gin A wis ti turn ye in. Hou about me giein ye Chen Da back?” An Zhu Wu says til him “Dinna you get yirsel insnorled, ma hero, for that wad me ill-convenient. We’d liefer hae ye tak us in for yir rewaird.” “That maun niver be!” quo Shi Jin, syne, “Wad ye be willin ti tak bite an sup wi me?” “Tho it wis daith we’d hae nae dreidour, sae mait an drink winna fear us!” answers Zhu Wu.
Shi Jin wis that blythe he lowsed Chen Da, an in the benmaist haa gart set out denner an drink ti trait the thriesome wi. Zhu Wu, Yang Chun an Chen Da lowtit doun thegither in thenks for his meikle magnanimitie, then drink cam, wi monie’s the gless, an wi drink shortlies cam cantieness, an syne, whan aa the drams hed been taen, the thriesome gied Shi Jin their thenks an clam awa up the brae. Shi Jin convoyed them ti the yetts o the mains, an gaed awa back his lane.
Weill, whan the thriesome wan back ti the strenth an sat doun Zhu Wu says “An it hedna been for yon desperate ploy, hou wad we hae come out alive? Tho we’ve saved the ae man, we’ve hed the chance forby ti see the meikle honestie o Shi Jin at loot us gae. In a day or twa we’ll sen doun a bit praisent til him, in thenks for his magnanimitie at saved aa our lifes.”
We’ll no wearie ye wi the ins an outs o’t, tho. In ten days or sae Zhu Wu an them hed gotten thegither thirty unce o Syboe Threid gowden filigree, an i the derk o a muneless nicht they sent it awa ti Shi’s Toun wi twae o the smaa fuit-fowk. Undernicht they chappit at the yetts; in gaed the word wi the haafowk, an wi burnin haste Shi Jin pit on his claes an cam afore the yett. “Whit wad ye say ti me?” he speirit, an the fuit-fowk answert him: “The thrie capitanes mak ye ance mair their thriefauld services an compliments, an send us anes parteiclar wi a wheen puir things in thenks for yir meikle magnanimitie for no haein them killt, maister. Ye’re no ti nay-say them, mind. We beg ye ti juist keep it aa wi a smile.”
Firstlins he wis for nay-sayin, but then Shi Jin thocht ti hissel “It’s an orra thing, tae, at thae thrie sud gie me sic respeck....A’ll sen them a bit praisent an return ma compliments, tae.” Sae neist day he gart his fowk fin out a tailor an gang ti the burgh-toun ti buy thrie bowts o grosgrane silk for the shewin o thrie silken jaikets, thenhe walit out thrie sonsie sheep an hed them slauchtert. Syne aathing wis pitten intil a kist an he lippent it ti twa cottar-lads ti tak awa.
At the mains, chief amang Shi Jin’s cottars wis Quarto Wang, an he wis the boy ti answer back at onie officiars; he wis that snell-gabbit aabodie cried him Bodang’s Feir, efter a langsyne general at wis fell gleg o the tongue. Shi Jin sent him an anither cottar ti cairry the kist ti the braefuit on a stang atween them. Whan the smaa fuit-fowk there hed speirit out their tale, they wir taen in ti the strenth ti see Zhu Wu an them. The thriesome wir fair blythe ti hae the jaikets, the sonsie sheep an the lave o the things, sae they gied the cottars ten unce o siller in thenks. They aa tuik a dizzen or mair drams, an syne the twa gaed doun the brae thegither ti the mains, whaur they gaed ti see Shi Jin an tellt him “The’r meikle an meikle thenks returnt frae the capitanes o the hill.”
Frae this on, Shi Jin wis aye an aften back an forrit wi Zhu Wu an them, sae’s in ane lang time there wis niver a day gaed by but Quarto Wang wis awa at the strenth on some business or ither, an the heid anes o the strenth wis aye sendin fowk doun wi gowd or siller for Shi Jin as weill.
Bi little an wees the time wure in ti it cam ti the echt month, an Mid-Hairst Day. Shi Jin wis wantin a crack wi the thriesome, sae he’d trystit wi them ti meet at the mains on the nicht o the fifteenth for ti tak a dram an enjoy the mune, an the cottar Quarto Wang hed been sent out aforehaun ti the Smaa Glore Hill wi a letter o biddin for Zhu Wu, Yang Chun and Chen Da, cryin them doun ti the mains for their supper. Quarto Wang tuik the gate smairtlie, an at the strenth he cam afore the heid anes ti gie them the letter. Zhu Wu lookit in it an wis blythe, an sin they aa greed, he screivit a letter affhaun back. Ti Quarto Wang he gied five unce o siller an about a dizzen coggies o drink.
Nou whan Quarto Wang gaed awa doun the brae he fell in wi ane o the smaa fuit-fowk at hed aye convoyed the praisents, an ance thon billie grippit him an halsit him, wad he let him gae? He wis hoyed inti a kintra dramshop at the roadside, whaur he’d ti tak anither dizzen coggies. Bi time he gied his fareweills an wis set for gaun back ti the mains there wis a hill wind blawin about him, an the drink wis stertin ti owretak him sae’s he stauchert an snappert an at ilka step he stottit. Nae mair as thrie mile on he spied a bit wuid, sae intil’t he flang, an doun on a hott o grushie green seggan gress he foundert.
It sae fell out at Luckie Li the rabbitman wis out on yon same braeface efter the rabbits, an whan he seen it wis Quarto Wang o Shi’s Toun he skelpit in ti the wuids ti gie him a bit heize up. Cud he shift him? He spied the siller an the cash, tho, an he thocht ti hissel “The drucken tink! He’s fou! Whaur wad he cadge sae muckle siller?.....Hou no juist lift some o’t?”
Sae he lowsed the sash, giein it a shak sae’s the siller fell out, an alang wi’t there fell out a letter. He pickt it up an apent it, for he kent a wee bit spellin, an scartit owre the heid o’t he read Zhu Wu, Chen Da, an Yang Chun, the Smaa Glore Hill. there wis monie words o policy intil’t forby, an monie words o weir, but o them he cudna tell, for thae thrie names wis aa he kent. Quo Luckie Li “Gin A’m a huntsman ti ma trade, hou’ll A ever mak ma merk? Yet the spaeman says A wis ti get meikle gear this twalmonth - here it maun be! An in Gloresheddae Toun it’s bleizont out there’s thrie thousan string o cunyie ti him at wad tak in thae thrie caterans. Fancie yon tink Shi Jin, yon day A wis at the mains seekin Midgie Qiu, an him sayin A wis spyin out the taps an tails o his gear - an here he’s rinnin about wi reivers aa the time!” Sae he tuik baith the letter an the siller an gaed awa ti Gloresheddae Toun ti dae his clypin.
Weill, Quarto Wang sleepit richt on an wisna wakent or the saicont hour o the nicht. He seen the wee smaa licht o the mune sheinin owre him an he tuik a gliff. Lowpin ti this feet, he seen aa about him naithin bar the pinetrees. Then he pit his haun ti his middle an he fand the letter an his pouchie-sash baith awa. Roun an about him he gaed seekin, but he fand naethin forby his pouchie-sash lyin tuim on the gressie grund. He stertit ti cry his doulanee, thinkin ti hissel “The siller disna maitter, but whit’ll be the outcome o yon letter? A dinna richtlie ken whae’s taen it...” Wi runkled brou he thocht it aa out: “Gin A gang back to the mains an say A’ve tint the letter, the maister’ll get roused, an he’ll shuirlie chase uis out.....Liefer juist say there wisna onie answer back, for whae wad speir at that?” An sae, his mind made up, he tuik the gate back to the mains, for it wis gettin gey near the fift hour o the nicht.
Whan he seen Quarto Wang comin back, Shi Jin speirit at him “Whit wey is’t at ye’re juist new back?” “A maun lippen til yir fendin, boss, for nane o thae thrie heid anes o the strenth wad let me gae: for hauf the nicht they’ve keepit me at the dram-drinkin. Yon’s hou A wis hauden back” quo Quarto Wang.
“Wis there a letter back?” speirs Shi Jin, an Quarto Wang answers him “The thrie heid anes wad hae screivit a letter, but A says ti them ‘Seein ye’re aa thrie graithit ti be gaun, whaur’s the need? An me nou, A’ve taen a dram an A’d be feart A’d tyne a spaul or mebbes rack masel on the road, an yon wad be nae baur....’”
Nae wonder they cry ye Bodang’s Feir, for ye’re fell handie!” quo Shi Jin, fair blythe ti hear it. “It juist wadna dae ti be hingin about” says Quarto Wang “sae A cam strecht ti the mains an niver stopt aa the road hame.” “An yon’s the wey o’t, A’ll gar a bodie gang ti the burgh toun for eattocks ti ease the drams doun” says Shi Jin.
Mid-Hairst Day cam afore they kent it, an a braw day it wis, bricht an clear. Shi Jin gart his cottars slauchter a muckle yowe an a hunder-odd geese ti ease the drams doun at the soiree. Whan bi little an bi wees the day wis weirin late, Zhu Wu, Yang Chun an Chen Da, the thrie capitanes o the Smaa Glore Hill, bade their smaafowk keep the barmkin o the strenth. Syne wi nae mair as fower or five men ti keep them companie, they tuik their plain bills an pit their swords at their middles, than, backin nae pownies, the thriesome shankit it doun the brae ti the mains o Shi’s Toun.
Shi Jin cam out ti meet them an ance they’d made their services, the tane ti the tither, he bade them ben intil the gairden whaur a supper wis aa set out. Shi Jin bade the thrie capitanes set doun i the bunemaist place, then tuik his place forenent them an bade the haa fowk sneck the yetts baith but an ben. They settlt syne ti the dram-drinkin as the haafowk kept the coggies birlin, an the yowe wis cairved as he presst them ti their drams. They tuik a guid wheen o drams an syne yon roun bricht mune begude ti rise.
Sae there wis Shi Jin sittin i the back gairden takin his dram wi the thriesome ti haud the Mid-Haist Day, tellin owre auld tales an new, whan frae ayont the waa there cam a rairin an a rowtin an the wild flichterin leam o torches!
Muckle fleggit, up lowpit Shi Jin ti cry “Honest freins, sit ye whaur ye are the nou, ti A gang an see til this”. An ti his fowk he cries “Dinna you apen thae yetts!”
Sae he speilt the lether ti keek owre the waa, an he seen afore him the Constable o Gloresheddae County muntit on his pownie, wi his twa Ensigns at his side an a thrie-fower hunder o the local Fencibles at his command rinkit aa roun the steidin. Shi Jin an the thrie capitanes cud dae nocht but cry their doulanee, for yont the waa the leam o torches glintit owre steel fows, lang five-taed graips, bills an haud-a-bit heuks arrayit as ticht as rigs o hemp, as the twa Ensigns cried out “Dinna let yon caterans win free!”
Gin yon gang o men hedna come ti kep Shi Jin an the thrie capitanes, hou wad Shi Jin e’er hae killt ane an then twae men? Hou wad he e’er hae gotten acquent wi ten braw lads an mair?
Ye’d niver hae thocht it wad faa out sae’s
Deep amang the rashie-flouers the sodgers staun,
An i the shade o cambie-leafs the warboats rin.
But i the hinner-en o aa, gin ye’re ti ken hou Shi Jin an the thrie capitanes wan free, ye’ll need ti see the neisten chapter.
Maister Shi Gangs bi nicht frae Gloresheddae Toun
Owrancer Lu neivels the Wast Mairch Crusher
Our tale tells nou o Shi Jin an hou he cries “But whit’s ti be dune nou?” an Zhu Wu kneels doun an says til him, “Brither, ye’re a man at still unfylt, sae dinna get yirsel insnorled for our sakes. Tak a tow an bind the thrie o us up in’t sae’s ye can get yir rewaird: yon wey it’ll no be our daein at ye loss yir guid name”.
“That maun niver be!” says Shi Jin, for it wad seem like A’d been fleichin at ye ti come juist sae’s ti cleik ye for the rewaird - an wad that no gar aa the warld lauch?
“Gin daith it’s ti be, you an me’ll dee thegither: gin it’s life, thegither we’ll leive. Staun up an tak hairt, for we’ll no be lang o findin a wey roun this. Juist byde ye here the nou an A’ll gae speir out hou it cam ti be”
Up the lether gaed Shi Jin ti speir: “Whit’s brocht ye herryin ma hous at this third hour o the middle nicht?” an the twa Ensigns answert him wi “Dod, but ye’re brazent, maister! We’ve Luckie Li here, at wis the verra man at clyped on ye!”
“Hou cud ye sae sclander a daicent bodie, Luckie Li?” cries Shi Jin.
“A dinna ken a thing about it, but! A liftit Quarto Wang’s letter i the wuids an A brocht it ti the burgh-toun ti get it read - the haill thing juist stertit frae there,” says Luckie Li.
“Hou’s there a letter back nou whan there wisna ane afore?” cries Shi Jin ti Quarto Wang.
“Weill, A wis fou at the time” says Quarto Wang, “ an A forgot aa about it”.
Wi a muckle rair Shi Jin cries out, “Ye daft bruit, ye! Whit’ll we dae nou?”
Outbye, the twa Ensigns wis that feart at Shi Jin wad be owre handie for them, they didna daur breinge on inti the steidin ti cleik their men; inbye, the thrie capitanes wis pyntin wi their fingers like they wir meanin “Gie them outbye an answer!”: Shi Jin kent whit they wir at, sae frae the lether he cries, “The’r nae need for onie fash frae you twa: gin ye’ll juist draw back a wee, A’ll bind them in a tow ma nainsel, an A’ll gie ye them owre ti tak ti the baillies”
The twa Ensigns wis that feart, they juist boud ti agree: “It’s naethin adae wi us, this business - we’ll juist hing on or they’re brocht out in a tow, an we’ll aa gang in thegither for yir rewaird.”
Whan Shi Jin clam doun the lether an cam afore the haa, the firsten thing he did wis ti tak Quarto Wang ti the kailyaird at the back an kill him wi the ae straik, an the neisten thing he did wis ti cry on some o the haafowk ti pack awa aa the silks an the braw things o the hous an kennle a thirty-forty torches up. At the mains him an the thrie capitanes bucklt on their armour, tuik blades frae the weaponsock an pit them at their middles, an grippit their bills in their hauns. Syne they kiltit up their gouns an set licht ti the theikit sheds in ahint the mains. Ilka cottarbodie wis set ti rowe up his things inti his pock.
Whan them outbye seen the fires lowin inben the haas, they gaed skelpin roun the back ti look, sae Shi Jin gaed ti the midmaist haa an set it in a lowe, an then he apent braid the yetts of the mains an at a bang they aa breinged out rairin an rowtin.
Shi Jin wis at the heid o them, Zhu Wu an Yang Chun i the mids o them, an Chen Da at the hint-en, whan wi their cottars an their smaafowk they cam bashin out, eassla-wassla joukin, beltin wast an east. Och, but Shi Jin wis a muckle baist o a man tae! Whae wis there at micht kep or haud him back?
Ahint them the bleize wis weill alowe as they focht their wey out. On breinged Shi Jin or he cam up ti Luckie Li an the twa Ensigns, an fell roused wis he ti see them, for like fowk says
whan twa ill-willers meets, byornar shairp’s their een.
The twa Ensigns hed seen things wirna juist rinnin sae weill an wir jinkin about ti rin awa, an Luckie Li wis set ti turn on his heel an gang as weill - but Shi Jin wis on him owre sune: he liftit his blade, an wi the ae straik he cuttit Luckie Li in twa. Chen Da an Yang Chun cam up on the twa Ensigns as they ran, an ilkane tuik juist the ae straik o his bill ti end the lifes o thae twa Ensigns.
Nou, gin the County Constable wis that feart he’d turnt his horse hameawa at the gallop, hou wad the Fencibles daur advance? They gaed rinnin for their lifes, the lot o them, skailt ti kens-whaur-awa.
Shi Jin wis aye at the heid o the band slauchterin as he gaed, an it wisna ti he wan ti the strenth o the Smaa Glore Hill at he drew braith or sat hissel doun in peace. It wisna lang afore Zhu Wu an them wis commandin their smaafowk to fell them kye an cuddie for a supper o congratulations, but we’ll say nae mair o that.
A guid wheen o days drew in, an here wis Shi Jin thinkin ti hissel “This time A’ve kennlt a fire an brunt ma steidins doun, aa ti sauf thae thrie. Tho A’ve some silk thing an some braw thing left ti me yet, ma coorse gear an ma wechtie plenishins is awa entirely”. He wis switherin in his hairt, for whaur he wis juist wadna dae him. Ti Zhu Wu an the ithers he says:
“Ma dominie Leirsman Wang’s awa servin i the Wardenrie o the Wastlin Mairches, an it’s lang been a thocht o mines ti seek him out there. But wi ma faither deein, A juist niver got. This time ma faimly’s plenishins an ma faimly’s steidins is baith by wi’t, sae A’m for gaun ti seek him out”.
“Dinna gang, brither” says Zhu Wu, “but bide ye here at the strenth a day or twa mair an we’ll hae anither crack about it. Gin ye’re no willin ti tak ti the heather, ye’re brithers here’ll bigg up yir steidins ance aathing’s gane quaitlike, an ye’ll can be an ornar daicent bodie ance mair.“
“A ken it’s for freinship’s sake ye speak” says Shi Jin, “but ma mind’s made up ti gang, an A canna weill be kept. Gin A can speir out ma dominie A’ll see can A get a bit stert out there, an A’ll seek ti leive blythe an cheerie the rest o ma days.”
“But ye’d be chief o the strenth here, brither “ says Zhu Wu. “Is that no blytheness for ye?.....A dout our strenth maun be owre wee for ye, that ye’ll no come doun aff o yir hie horse!”
“A’m a braw lad, aefauld an unfylt“ says Shi Jin. “Wad A bemean the bodie ma faither an mither gied uis wi takin ti the heather? Dinna speak o’t onie mair!”
It wis a wheen o days efter at Shi Jin concludit he maun gae, an tho sair they besocht him, Zhu Wu an the ithers michtna gar him byde. The cottars he’d brocht wi him he left at the strenth, an he tuik juist some odd trantles o siller an the pock he’d rowed up for hissel - ilkither thing wis left ahint him there.
Weill, he pit on his heid a braid Southgress bunnet o the white felt buskit wi a tossil o reid, an ablow the bunnet a souple scairf o drumlie green bund inti the shape o twa horns; about his hass he’d a bricht yalla gravat o fine gauze; he wure about him a white serk o fine linen in ablow a double battlecoat at wis girdit at his middle wi a haunspang-braid pouchie-sash o ploum-reid cordit threids; he hed walkin-hose o bawsent blue on his feet, an thae monie-luggit strae shuin at’s sae guid for sclimmin bens or scliffin throu the stour. He bucklt at his middle his guse-pen bladit sword wi the bress chymie haunle, he pit his pock on his back, an he grippit his bill in his haun, an then ti Zhu Wu an them he gied his fareweills. Monie wis the smaafowk at convoyed him doun the brae, an monie wis the tears Zhu Wu an them loot faa at the pairtin, afore they turnt aa thrie back up the brae ti the strenth.
Our tale tells nou o Shi Jin an hou he grippit his bill an gaed awa out frae the Smaa Glore Hill an tuik the gate for the Stewartrie o Stentsaucht an the fift circuit o the Wastlin Mairches. He’d juist ti eat whan he wis hungert an drink whan he wis drouthie, stoppin at een an awa wi the dawin. Mair as hauf the month he’d been paddin the road like this whan he cam ti the toun o Weilands.
“The’r a Wardenrie here tae,” he thocht ti hissel.” Ma dominie Leirsman Wang wadna be here an aa, wad he?” Sae intil the waatoun he gaed, an fund aa the streets an mercats ye’d ever think ti see: on the ae corner he cam on a wee teahous, sae in he gaed, fund hissel a place, an sat doun. Owre cam the teamaister, speirin “Whitna tea will ye tak, guidsir?”
“A’ll tak steipit tea” says Shi Jin, an in nae lang time it wis maskit an set afore him.
“Whaur about’s the Wardenrie here?” he speirs.
“Juist richt fornenst ye - that’s it owre yonder” answers the Teamaister.
“Wad there be a Leirsman Wang Jin i the Wardenrie at’s no lang cam frae the Eastren Capital, gin A micht speir o ye?”
“The’r an awfu number o leirsmen i the Wardenrie here, an thrie or fower o them’s cried Wang, but A wadna ken wha’ll be Wang Jin” says the Teamaister.
An here, juist whan they wir at their crack, in cam a big lad, linkin inti the teahous wi muckle spangin steps. Shi Jin lookit, an seen he’d the look o an officiar o weir, for his heid wis happit in a swastika-plait gauze scairf the colour o sesamum at wis bund ahint his heid wi twa Meiklemuir rings o plaitit gowden wire; about him he wure a parrot-green battlecoat girdit at his middle wi a double policy an weir belt o corbie-craw black, an on his feet he’d a pair o bricht yalla fower-gaured buits o earn’s claw sheepskin. He’d a roun face, muckle lugs, a straucht neb an a square mou, wi a lang gash-baird hingin doun frae his chafts: sax feet o lenth an ten spans o girth, intil the teahous he cam ti set hissel doun.
“Gin it’s a Leirsman Wang ye’re seekin, guidsir” quo the Teamaister, “aa ye’ve ti dae is ti speir at the Owrancer here, for he kens aabodie”, sae Shi Jin wisna lang o gettin ti his feet an peyin his respecks, sayin: “Sit ye doun, guidsir, and dae me the honour o takin tea wi me, an ye please.”
Seein Shi Jin sae sterk an strang, an seein he’d the look o a braw lad about him, the bodie peyed his respecks an the twa sat doun.
“Gin it isna owre bauld o uis, daur A speir yir name, guidsir?” says Shi Jin, an the bodie answers “Me, A’m an Owrancer i da Wardenrie. Ma faimly name’s Lu, an ma ain name’s Da. An whit wad dy name be, brither, gin A micht speir it o de?”
“A belang Gloresheddae County in Glorelands, ma faimly name’s Shi, an ma ain name’s Jin. Gin A micht speir o ye guidsir, A’ve a dominie at wis leirsman o the Forbidden City Echt Hunder Thousan i the Eastren Capital, an his name’s Wang Jin. Ye wadna ken if he’s in this Wardenrie, wad ye?”
“Brither” says Owrancer Lu, “ye arena Maister Shi, da verra nine-Gaired Dragon o Shi’s Toun?”
“Ay, that’s me” says Shi Jin wi a bou, an the Owrancer bous richt back an says
“Da soun o dy name’s no like seein dy face,
For the sicht o dy face bates hearin dy name!
“Dis Leirsman Wang du’s efter - isna yon da Wang Jin at gat the haterent o Hie Constable Gao i da Eastren capital?”
“Juist him” says Shi Jin.
“Aweill, A’ve heard tell o him, but he isna hereawa. It’s H.E. Warden Chong da Younger at wairds our mairches here: dy mannie isna here.
Gin ye’re Maister Shi, tho, du his a guid name at A’ve aye an aften heard o: c’wa up da street an we’ll tak a dram”.
Sae the Owrancer tuik Shi Jin bi the haun an gaed out the teahous door, lookin back to tell the Teamaister “A’ll pey da siller masel”
“Nae bother, Owrancer” says the Teamaister, “Juist gang ye yir weys”.
The twaesome cleikit airms an gaed awa out o the teahous ti fortie-fiftie steps up the road they cam on a thrang o fowk staunin roun in a ring. “We’ll hae a look at this, brither” says Shi Jin, sae they pushed throu the thrang an spied i the mids o the ring a bodie wi a dizzen timmers in his haun an, spreid out on the grund afore him, a dizzen or mair eyntments an plaisters in ashets wi For Sale plackets on them: here it wis ane o thae physick-mongerin lads o watter an lochside at plays the rung an brodstaff ti sell their mixters. Shi Jin lookit an kent him for his firsten dominie, for it wis Li Zhong, at they cry General Toober-the-Tiger.
Inti the thrang gaed Shi Jin cryin, “Dominie! It’s a lang while sin A seen ye!”
“Honest brither!” cries Li Zhong, “Hou cam ye hereawa?”
“Gin ye’re Maister Shi’s dominie, come ye awa an tak a dram tae” says Owrancer Lu.
“Haud on or A’ve sellt ma plaisters an gotten a puckle siller, an A’ll come wi ye then” says Li Zhong.
“Wha’s waitin on you? Gin du’s comin, come awa!” cries Lu Da.
“It’s ma mait an claith, Owrancer, for A’ve nae ither fendin: gang ye on an A’ll seek ye out efter. Honest brither, awa you wi the Owrancer”.
Bi this Lu Da wis bleizin, an he stertit ti rug an ryve at the onlookers, flytin an cryin “Souk in the cheeks o yir erses, ye tinks, an piss aff out o here!”
Weill, whan they seen it wis Owrancer Lu they skelpit awa at his firsten rullion rair. Li Zhong seen hou wild an ramballioch Lu Da wis, but he dochtna say ocht, for aa he wis roused: he’d juist ti pit on a smile an say, “Wow, but he’s a spunkie chiel, eh no?” An then he’d ti redd his gear awa inti his physickpock an pit his rungs an brodstaffs bye.
Doun loans an roun corners the thriesome gaed, or they wan ti yon namelie dramshop ablow the Stewartrie Brig at belangs the fella cried Pan. A wisp wis stuck out afore the yett, an the pirlin dram-pennils wis flaffin an birlin i the wind as they gaed aa thrie up the stairs o Pan’s Dramshop ti choice out a trig wee chaumer an set theirsels doun. The Owrancer tuik the heidmaist place, wi Li Zhong forenent him an Shi Jin i the laichest place. The barman chiel did them a service, an whan he seen it wis Owrancer Lu he speirs, “Hou monie drams will ye tak, sirs?”
“Get ye in fower horns ti stert wi” says Lu Da.
An whan he’d setten out the fruits an the greens an ither eattocks ti ease the drams doun, the barman says “Whitna mait wad ye hae wi yir eattocks, sirs?”
“Whit’re ye aye speir-speirin at?” cries Lu Da. “Oniething ye hae, juist bring it out an ye’ll get da lawin! Ye’re aye makin sic a steir, ye tink!” Sae doun gaed the barman an up he cam wi hot toddies, an then aa kinkind o maits wis brocht in an spreid out owre the buird.
Nou, the thriesome hed taen a wheen drams an wir haein a bit crack, takin the meisur o their brodstaff leir an bletherin theirsels inti the street, they wir that hertie, whan frae an inbye chaumer there cam the soun o fowk roarin an greitin an bubblin. Lu Da wis that sair roused he juist soupit aa the ashets an cups doun on the fluir. Up cam the barman ti see whit wis gaun on - an whit he seen wis Owrancer Lu in a fair tirrivee o temper.
“Gin ye lack onie thing at aa, maister officiars, aa ye’ve ti dae is tell uis”.
“Whit wad we lack?” cries Lu Da. “Dos du ken wha A am, at ye let fowk mak sic a din greitin throu yonder, distroublin me an ma brithers at our drams? A’ve shuirlie niver left you short o drink-siller, hae A?”
“Maister officiar, caum yirsel” says the barman. “Hou wad we daur gar them greit an girn juist ti distrouble yir guid sels at yir drams? Them at’s greitin is a faither an his dochter at gangs singin roun the dramshops. They wadna ken ye wir at the dram-drinkin, sirs, an them greitin an girnin sae sair wi their trouble”
“Here’s an unco thing, tho” says Owrancer Lu. “Cry ye them in for me”.
An awa the barman gaed ti cry them in.
In nae lang time there cam in a quean o echteen-nineteen year auld, wi an auld mannie o fiftie-saxtie year auld ahint her, an the baith o them cairryin linkit chappie-sticks in their hauns. Whan they lookit they fund at, tho she wisna aathegither o the bonniest, the quean wis lousome ti see whan she lowtit doun in thrie deep an deep curchies, dichtin her tears awa. The auld mannie made hissel kent ti them as weill.
“Whaur d’ye belang, the twa o ye?” speirs Lu Da, “an whit’s aa yir girnin an greitin for?”
“Ye’ll no ken, maister officiar, sae A’ll tell ye, an ye gie me leave” quo the quean. “We’re Eastren Capital fowk at cam here ti Weilands, ma mither an faither an me, ti seek a bield wi our nainfowk, niver kennin they’d flittit awa ti the Southron Capital. Ma mither wis taen bad i the guesten-hous an she passt awa - me an the faither hes a wearie gangrel life ti thole here, baith the twae o us.
“The’r a walthie merchant here cried Great Maister Zheng, the Wast Mairch Crusher. He’d seen me an bi compulsion he gart the matchwyfe hae me bandit til him agin ma will, ettlin A’d be his bydie-in. We’d nae thocht o the letters Matrimonial at wis signed for thrie thousan in cunyie, but him, he let the siller gae by, tho he held ti the contrack, for it wis ma bodie he wis efter.
“Thrie month wisna by afore the mistress o his hous gat fell dour an turnt me ti the door. Nae gaun back wad she thole, an she gart the keeper o the guesten-hous staun guid for the herryin out o the thrie thousan at first A wis wadset for: ma faither’s that fushionless an saft, he canna pingle wi him at’s got baith walth an wecht ahint him.
“Frae the verra stert we hed niver plack nor bodle frae him, sae whaur wad we seek the siller ti pey him back nou?
“There wis nae ither wey out. Frae time A wis a bairn ma faither hed learnt uis some wee bits o ballants, sae ti the dramshops we gaed ti dae the rouns. The feck o the wee puckle siller we tak in a day maun gae ti pey him back, wi juist a bittie owre for our fendin.
“Thae twa days bypast, wi the dram-drinkin lads sae few an faur atween, we’ve mistrystit wi his siller, an A dout whan he comes seekin it we’ll hae an awfu snash ti thole frae him.
“For thinkin on thae unhappy sorras we’ve nae wey ti tell o, ma faither an me stertit ti greit an girn - we niver thocht at bi mischance we’d distrouble ye, maister officiars. A beg ye ti let the faut gae by, an haud hie yir worthie hauns abune uis!”
“Whit’s yir names?” speirs Owrancer Lu ance mair. “Whitna guesten-hous are ye stoppin in? An whaur does this Great Maister Zheng the Wast Mairch Crusher byde?”
“A’m juist an auld bodie, saicont o ma line” repones the auld ane. “We’re cried Jin, an the bairn’s name’s Emerant Lilly. This Great Maister Zheng nou, he’s Zheng the flesher at trokes in butcher-mait ablow the Dux Brig yonder - Wast Mairch Crusher is his byname. Me an the lassie’s lyin at the Hous o Lu inben the foremaist Eastren Port.”
“Howt man!” says Lu Da ti this. “It wis aa this ‘Great Maister Zheng’ A wis hearin, but it’s nae mair as Flesher Zheng at fells the grumphies! The dirty bleck! He cuist in wi freins o our ain H.E. Warden Chong ti be their flesh-merchant - sae this is the kin o cheatrie he’s at!” An he turnt his face ti Shi Jin an Li Zhong, sayin, “Byde ye here the nou, the twa o ye, an A’ll gang an gie the tink a leatherin at’ll be the en o him! A’ll be back!”
But Shi Jin an Li Zhong clappit a haud o him, tellin him “Caum yirsel, brither - ye’ll can fettle him the morn”. Thrie times they tried, an five times mair, afore they gart him byde at peace. Ance mair Lu Da spak out: “C’wa then, auld ane! A’ll gie ye siller for yir keep an ye’ll can awa back hame ti the Eastren Capital i da mornin. Hou wad that be?”
“Gin it wis possible for us ti gang back ti our ain toun, it wad be like haein ma faither an mither back in the warld ance mair, like mammie an daddie ti the fore again - but there’s aye the keeper o the guesten-hous. Whit wey wad he lea us gae? Great Maister Zheng’s got him staunin guid for the siller.”
“Niver fash - A’ve a wey ti fettle him” says Owrancer Lu. Inti the pouch at his side he gaes, spoachin for five-sax unce o siller at he pit on the buird. He lookit at Shi Jin an he says, “A haena muckle by me - du’s got siller, sae gie me da len o a puckle. A’ll gie it back i da mornin”.
“White’er the cost, brither, A wadna speir for it back!” says Shi Jin, an ti his pock he gaes, taks out a ten-unce siller lignate an lays it on the buird.
“Gie’s a len o a puckle tae” says Lu Da ti Li Zhong, an Li Zhong brings out twa unce o siller frae his pock. Whan Lu Da lookit an seen the wee pickle it wis, he says “He’s no sae gleg ti gie, this ane!” An thenhe tuik the fifteen unce o siller an gied it ti Auld Jin, sayin, “Tak this for yir fendin, the twa o ye. Awa wi ye nou an redd up yir gear: A’ll be roun i da mornin ti mak shuir ye’re baith up. An A’d like ti see da guesten-hous keeper at cud haud ye back!”
Sae Auld Jin an his dochter did them a service an wan awa.
Lu Da flang Li Zhong his siller back, an the thriesome drank aff a couple mair horns afore they gaed doun the stair. Ti the guidman o the hous Lu Da cries: ”A’ll pey da lawin i da mornin, guidman”, an the guidman answert him wi “Juist gang ye yir weys, Owrancer, for whit ye’ve hed’s a smaa thing - A’d niver think to see ye no come back wi the lawin!”
Sae out the door o Pan’s they gaed, an on the street they twyned: Shi Jin an Li Zhong held awa ti their ain guesten-houses, but Lu Da - an it’s o him our tale tells nou - gaed straucht back ti his ludgins forenent the Wardenrie, and gaed straucht ti his chaumer. He tuik nae denner, but gaed ti sleep bleizin mad. The guidman o the hous didna daur speir at him at aa.
Back ti Auld Jin, tho, ti tell hou he tuik his fifteen unce o siller ti the guesten-hous an seen his dochter settelt for the nicht. Then he gaed first ti an outlan bit ayont the burgh dykes ti fee a cairt, an neist he gaed back ti redd up aa their trammels, clear the rent-dues, an pey the lawin for their mait an their kennlin. Aa he’d ti dae nou wis wait on the dawin.
Naethin fell out that nicht. The morn’s morn faither an dochter wis up at the fift hour ti kennle the fire for their brakfaist, an ance it wis etten they gat aathing redd up ti win awa. Juist whan the lift wis growin a wee thing bricht, in cam Owrancer Lu, linkin inti the guesten-hous wi muckle spangin steps, rairin at the tap o his voice: “Number twae, whaurabout’s Auld Jin stoppin?”
“Maister Jin” cries the number twae, “here’s Owrancer Lu come seekin ye”.
Sae Auld Jin apent his door an said “Sit yirsel doun inben, Maister Owrancer:
“Sit naethin!” rairs Lu Da. “Gin du’s gaein awa, get awa! Whit’s du waitin on?”
Sae Auld Jin led his dochter out, an wi their pockstangs on their shouthers they baith gied the Owrancer their thenks. But juist whan they wir set ti tak the gait the number twae barred their road, sayin, “Whaur are ye gaun, Maister Jin?”
“Is du short o rent?” speirs Lu Da.
“Na, the rent wis aa peyed last nicht” says the number twae, “but they’re awin Great Maister Zheng the wadset siller yet, an it’s me at’s ti staun guid for it”
“A’ll gie Flesher Zheng his siller” says Owrancer Lu, sae juist you lea da auld ane ti gang awa hame”.
But wad the number twae lea them alane?
Muckle roused, Lu Da raxt out the five fingers o his haun an he gied the number twae a skelp i the face at brocht the bluid rinnin frae his mou, an then he gied him anither ane at knockit his twa front teeth out. The number twae clam ti his feet an gaed aff like a fuff o wind ti seek a hidie-hole inben, an there wis nae wey the keeper o the guesten-hous wis comin out ti hinder them, sae Auld Jin an his dochter wan smertlie awa an out the burgh dykes ti seek the cairt he’d fee’d yestreen.
Lu Da, nou, hed a bit think ti hissel. He wondert wad the number twae mebbes come rinnin efter them, ettlin ti kep them, sae he tuik a creepie frae out the hous an set hissel doun for a guid hour or twa. Ance an Auld Jin hed the time ti gang a guid road, he gat up an he tuik the gait for the Dux Brig.
Weill, Flesher Zheng hed a double-frontit shop wi twa binks, an hingin abune them wis fower-five muckle dads o butcher-mait. The mannie hissel wis sittin doun ahint the counter forenent the door, watchin his dizzen butcher-laddies trokin the flesh, whan here comes Lu Da, strecht up ti the door cryin “Flesher Zheng!”
Seein it wis Owrancer Lu, Flesher Zheng cam skelpin out frae in ahint the counter ti dae him a service: “Forgie me, Owrancer, A didna see ye”. An he cried on his helpeners ti bring a creepie, and he gart the Owrancer set hissel doun.
“A’m bidden bi His Excellencie’s gracious mandment” says Lu Da. “Dir’s ten pund o best butcher-mait wantit, it’s ti be minced smaa, an he’s no ti see a drap o creish intil’t”.
“Fine, sir” says the flesher, an ti his lads he cries, “Choice out a guid bit an mince ten punds o’t”.
“A’m no wantin thae dirty tinks touchin it” says Lu Da. “Du’ll dae it dysel!”
“As ye say, sir” A’ll juist e’en dae it masel” says the flesher, an ti the bink he gaed an choicit out ten pund o best mait at he hackit inti fine fine mince.
The number twae o the guesten-hous, nou, hed bund his heid in a hankie an wis on his wey ti the flesher’s ti tell him about the business wi Auld Jin whan he spied Lu Da sittin at the bink bi the door. He didna daur come nearhaun by, sae he stuid watchin frae in ablow the easins o a hous a guid wey aff.
Nait an exack, the flesher hackit awa a guid hauf hour afore he rowed the mait intil a lilly-leaf an he speirit, “Will A sen a man wi’t, Owrancer?”
“Sen naethin!’ quo Lu Da. “Juist du haud on - dir’s ten pund wantit an aa at’s ti be creish itslane, an he’s no ti see a drap o lean intil’t. It’s ti be minced smaa tae.”
“But creish itslane!” says Flesher Zheng. “A dout they maun be rowin puddins in’t, for whit guid’s ten pund o creish?”
“His Excellencie gied his mandment” glowers Lu Da. “Wha daur speir at him?”
“Gin it’s a thing at’ll get uised, then, A’ll juist e’en hack it” quo the flesher, an he choicit out ten sonsie pund o creishie mait, hackit it inti fine fine mince, an rowed it in a lilly-leaf. It hed taen the haill mornin, gey near up ti the denner hour.
Wad the number twae o the guesten-hous daur gang owre the street? E’en the customers at wir wantin their butcher-mait didna daur come near them.
“Will A get ma helpeners ti cairry it for ye, Owrancer, or will A sen it ti the Wardenrie?” speirs the flesher, an Lu Da answers him, “Dir’s ten pund o gowden girsle wantit tae, at’s ti be hackit inti fine fine mince, an he’s no ti see onie mait intil’t at aa.”
Flesher Zheng gied a lauch an said, “Ye haena come here ti tak a len o me, hae ye?”
An whan he heard this, Lu Da lowpit up, tuik the twa pocks o mince in his hauns, glowert at Flesher Zheng an said, “Ay, A cam here ti tak a len o ye!” An wi that he flang the twa pocks o mince in his face, an - weill, it wis juist like a blatterin storm o mait!
Flesher Zheng wis that roused an ire o wrath gaed hurlin in twae streams frae the howes o his feet richt up ti his croun, an the derk fire o anger in his hairt bleized up intil a bricht lowe a cudna weill be slockent: frae aff o the bink he claucht up a bane-scartin gullie, an on a sudden he lowpit ti’t! Owrancer Lu, tho, hed smertlie leggit it inti the street bi this.
Wha amang the neibours or the dizzen warkfowk wad daur step forrit an stop them? Fowk at wis passin on the street juist stuid whaur they wir, govin an dumfounert wi fricht, alang wi the number twae o the guesten-hous.
Wi the gullie in his richt haun Flesher Zheng claucht at Lu Da wi his left: Owrancer Lu tuik his chance, gat a haud o the flesher’s left haun, ran forrit, an gied him ae fuit i the wame at knockit him doun an sent him out inti the street wi a bang. Lu Da pit the fuit in ance mair, an trampit on his breist, then he liftit a muckle neive the size o a vinegar pig an he glowert an he said: “Here’s me at stertit out servin His Excellencie Warden Chong da Elder whan first A listit for a Procognitioner ida Fift Circuit Airmy - it wadna be for naethin gin A wis ti cry masel ‘The Wast Mairch Crusher’. But you, ye’re nocht but a bit flesher bodie at drives da knife ti sell dy butcher-mait – ye’re a man nae better as a tyke, an ye cry yirsel da ‘Wast Mairch Crusher’! Whit wir ye at, herryin Emerant Lilly wi yir jowkery-pokery?” An wi the ae neive he beltit him richt on the neb, sae’s the bricht bluid cam pourin out an the flesher’s neb wis skewit aa ajee - an it wis juist like he’d apent an uil an sauce shop, for out cam scoushin the nippy, the saut an the sour, aa in ane!
Flesher Zheng wis fechtin ti get up, but he cudna. His shairp gullie wis flung awa, an aa he cud say wis “A guid belt!” “Ye grannie-shaggin get!” sweirs Lu Da. “Wad ye answer back tae?” An liftin his neive he gaed him ane atween the eehole an the eebrou’s end at ryvit wide his winker an gart the baa o his ee lowp out - an it wis juist like he’d apent a draper’s shop, for out fell the reid, the black an the crammasie, aa in ane!
Aa the onlookers on aither side wir that feart for Lu Da, wha amang them wad daur step forrit an stop them?
Flesher Zheng cud tak nae mair an wis beggin ti be let aff, but Lu Da rairs at him “Howt man! Are ye guid for naethin? Gin ye’d fecht it out A’d mebbes let ye aff - but nou ye’re beggin, A shuirlie winna forgie ye!” An wi the ae neive he gied him anither ane richt on the brou - an it wis juist like he’d stertit a Full-Hous Land & Watter Deid Mass, for the chymies, the clatterbells an the haunbells gaed dirlin out aa in ane!
Whan he lookit Lu Da seen Flesher Zheng streikit out sterk an stiff on the grund, wi braith comin out o him but nane gaun in, an he wisna like movin, aither. Sae wi fause intent Lu Da says’ “Ye’re lettin on ye’re deid, ye tink! A’ll belt ye again!” But bit bi bit he seen the flesher’s colour chynge, an he thocht ti hissel: “A wis juist ettlin ti gie da tink a guid leatherin - A niver thocht ti feinish him wi thrie belts.....A’ll shuirlie get da court for dis, an A’ve naebodie ti bring ma mait ti da jyle.....A’d better get out o this quick!” Sae he steppit out, turnin as he gaed ti pynt at Flesher Zheng’s cauld corp an cry, “Ye’re lettin on ye’re deid! A’ll tak ma time an fettle ye, tho!” An awa he gaed, cursin as he ran.
Whae amang aa the neibours or the flesher’s warkfowk wad daur step forrit an hinder him?
Owrancer Lu gaed back ti his ludgins an in haste he rowed up his claes an some o his gear - juist the fine stuffs an the siller, for his auld claes an his courss gear he’d ti lea ahint him.thenhe liftit his ‘eebrou-lang’ rung an gaed skelpin out the Southron Port, awa like a fuff o wind.
* * *
Weill, the fowk o Flesher Zheng’s hous an the number twae o the guesten-hous at cam ti gie him warnin, they tried a lang while ti sauf him. He michtna leive, tho, sae - walaway! - he dee’d. The neibours auld an young wan straucht ti the Stewartrie Buildins ti pit their dittays in, an there they waitit or the Sheriff-Principal hed taen his seat in the haa abune an gotten in aa their dittays. Whan he’d read them owre he says, “This Lu Da’s an Owrancer o the Wardenrie.....” Sae he dochtna gie onie direck order ti kep the ill-daer athout mair nor his ain civil authoritie, the ill-daer bein an officiar o weir and him bein Sheriff on the policy side.
Sae the Sheriff-Principal gaed straucht ti the Wardenrie in his sedan-chair. He clam doun an he bade the sodgers at the yetts cry in word at he wis come, an the Warden hed him bidden intil the haa. The Warden peyed his respecks ti the Sheriff-Principal an says, “Whit cam ye for?”
“A thocht it best ti let Yir Excellencie ken” depones the Sheriff-Principal. “Lu Da, Owrancer in yir Airmy, hes for nae reason neivelt Flesher Zheng o the mercat ti his daith. A haena sent in a notandum, Yir Excellencie, for a dochtna hae him apprehendit on ma ain authoritie, him bein on the militar.”
This gied the Warden a shog, an he thocht ti hissel, “This Lu Da, for aa he’s guid wi the Martial Leir, hes a courss naitur. This time, it’s the takin o a life, an hou wad A hide sic a faut?.....A’ll hae ti let him tak the Interrogator, tho - that’ll mebbes dae it”. Sae ti the Sheriff-Principal he says, “This Lu Da, he stertit out as ane o ma faither the Elder Warden’s officiars: he wis disponit here ti be ma Owrancer acause A’d nae ither helpeners here. Nou he’s forfautit for slauchter, ye can tak him an gie him the Interrogator, as accords o law. Sae be he clearlie awns his faut an the sentence is set doun, ye maun let ma faither ken afore ye gie decerniture. A dout the day ma faither needs this ane on the border‘ll be an ill day ti see, tho”.
“Efter speirin inti the grunds o this, A sall depone here sae’s H.E. the Elder Warden kens, as accords o praticks, afore A daur gie a hornin decerniture” says the Sheriff-Principal.
Sae the Sheriff-Principal bade fareweill ti the Warden an wis cairried frae the yetts ti the Stewartrie Buildins, whaur he gaed in an ance mair tuik his seat i the haa. He cried in the Captioneer squad o the day, an subscryvit Letters o Caption i the case o the fautor Lu Da. Inspector Wang tuik the brieves an straucht awa led a dizzen or sae o his governmenters ti Owrancer Lu’s ludgins, whaur the guidman o the hous said til him: “He trailed out twa-thrie pocks, liftit his cutty rung, an awa he gaed. A thocht he’d been sent for, sae A didna speir at him”.
Inspector Wang lissent ti this, an whan he apent the chaumer door, he fand there wis naethin ti be seen, for there wis juist auld claes and auld clouts there-ben. Sae he tuik whit there wis an he tuik the guidman, an he gaed reingin aa about seekin out his man. Frae north ti south the Stewartrie he gaed, but niver the caption cud he mak: he’d juist ti cleik twa o the neibours an tak them back ti the Stewartrie Buildins, whaur he reponit in the haa: “Owrancer Lu is fugied ti airts onkent, in dreidour at his faut. The guidman o the hous an thae neibours here wis taen.”
Whan the Sheriff-Principal hed heard this, ti the jyle he bade them aa, an Flesher Zheng’s fowk he clappit in aside them. Crownrymen wis appointit an commands gien ti the Officiars o the Inbye Wards an Baillies o the Outlan wards ti double an treiple their speirins. Flesher Zheng’s nainfowk seen ti the coffin an the kistins, layin the kist awa intil a cloister.
Lu Da, tho, wis In Fugitation, sae Letters o Hot Trod wis sent roun for his apprehension in onie airt: a rewaird o a thousan in cunyie wis promist, an plackets wir ti be postit aa owre the place, giein out his years o age, his pairt native, an his description.
Aabodie wis dischairged efter the Hearin, an Flesher Zheng’s fowk gaed aff ti see ti the murnin - but nane o them’s in our tale onie mair.
We’ll tell nou o Lu Da rinnin frae Weilands, an hou he gaed fleein east-awa an lowpin wast, skelpin ramstam throu stewartries an sheriffdoms, fair a case o
Hungert men disna choice their mait,
Cauld men disna choice their claes;
Frichtit men disna choice their road,
An puir men disna choice their wifes.
Lu Da bashed on his road wi dreidour in his hairt, no richtlie kennin whitna road ti tak: dumfounert aathegither he ran for mair nor hauf the month afore he cam ti the burgh-toun o Gusegate in Speillands.
In he gaed, inti the waatoun, an he seen there aa the busy thrang o the mercatplace - fowk birlin alang throu the stour, cairts an horses clatterin up an doun, fowk buyin an sellin, an aa the hunder an twentie trades trokin their gear. It wis a trig laid-out place, for tho it wis but a burgh-toun, it wis grander as monie’s the sheriffdom or stewartrie toun. Sae he gaed aa about it or he seen a hiddle o fowk gaithert at a crossroads to look at a placket. They wir that stappit thegither he’d ti squeeze in amang the press o fowk ti hear - for Lu Da, ye see, kent nae letters, an juist hed ti lissen ti ither fowk readin out loud. Whit he heard wis this:
Gusegate Burgh o Speillands, as accords o the mandment o the Stewartrie o Meiklemuir, gies general chairge to Officiars an Agents for allouance ti the writ o Weilands in the apprehension o the fautor Lu Da for neivelin Flesher Zheng ti his daith, forenamit bein Owrancer o the Wardenrie.
Onie at wad gie him concealment, ludgin or buird in their hous ti be airt & pairt forfautit. Onie at apprehends or brings him forrit ti be giftit wi ane thousan in cunyie for rewaird.......
Lu Da heard this faur an nae mair, for he heard ahint him a bodie cry “Brither Zhang, whit brings ye hereawa?” an he wis claspit bi the middle an hoyed awa frae the crossroads.
Gin this bodie hedna seen him an harlt him awa or draggit him doun......
It’s ti be expoundit yet hou Lu Da hed the hair o his heid shaved aff an his whiskers scrapit awa, an hou, tho his killer’s name wis chynged, he still steired aa the Salvator’s sancts ti anger.
It wis aa sae
A meditation- staff micht warsle out o jeopardie
An a fastren-knife ding doun unrichteous men.
But in the hinner-end, gin ye’re ti ken wha it wis at pulled at Owrancer Lu, ye’ll need ti see the neisten chapter.
Profunditas Lu maks muckle steir i the Five-Bunker Hills
Lord Clerk Zhao mends ance mair the Courts o Miravirtus
Our tale tells nou o Owrancer Lu jinkin about ti see wha it wis at wis ruggin at him, an hou it wis naebodie else but Auld Jin at he’d saufed out o the dramshop in Weilands. The auld ane hoyed him awa ti an out the wey bit an says: “Here, ye’ve some nerve, ma benignitor! There’s plackets bleizont out clear an clear the nou, an they’re aa offerin a thousan in cunyie as a rewaird for cleikin ye - whit are ye gaun readin the placket for? Gin A hedna come on ye, puir auld bodie at A am, wad ye no hae been taen bi the governmenters, juist? The years o yir age, the set an the look o ye, yir pairt native - it’s aa screivit out on thae plackets!”
“A’ll tell ye nae lee” says Lu Da. “Acause o yon business wi you A gaed straucht ti da Dux Brig yon same day, an A met in wi Flesher Zheng, da tink. Thrie dunts frae me an he wis deid, sae that’s hou A’m fugied. A’ve been rummlin about aa owre the place for fortie-fiftie days nou, no thinkin ti land here. Hou did ye no gang back ti da Eastren Capital? Whit cam ye here for?”
“Benignitor, ye’re the owrepeer o us aa” says Auld Jin. “Efter ye’d seen us richt A fund a cairt an A wis set for gaun back ti the Eastren Capital, but then A wis feart yon tink wad come efter us, an us wi nae benignitor ti bield us, sae A didna gang there. We tuik the norlan road an ran inti an auld neibour frae the capital at wis comin here on business. He brocht the baith o us here, an - monie the thenks we’re due him for it - he trystit the dochter ti be haunfastit til a great landlord o this airt. She’s an outbye wife ti Lord Clerk Zhao, wi a rich plenty o claes an ither fendin - an it’s aa your daein, benignitor.
“Aye an aften the dochter tells her jo o yir meikle magnanimitie, Owrancer, an the Lord Clerk, wha likes fine the play o brodstaff an rung, is aye sayin hou grand it wad be for him ti meet in wi her benignitor juist the ance. Hou wad it aa cam ti be, think ye?
“But come ye awa hame wi me for a day or twa, benignitor, an we’ll can speak on it mair.”
Sae Owrancer Lu gaed nae mair as hauf a mile wi Auld Jin afore they cam til a fore-entry an Auld Jin liftit the hingers an cried “Dochter, yir benignitor’s here!” Then out frae inben the hous cam the lass, sheinin in her braws an wi jewels aa embleizont. She bade Lu Da sit doun i the midmaist place, then sax times doun she lowtit afore him, like a caunle on a chandler, daein him reverence: “Gin ye hedna been guid aneuch ti sauf us, benignitor, hou wad this day hae come ti be?” An her reverences dune, she bade him up the stair ti tak a sate.
“A canna thole this” says Lu Da. “A’m awa”.
“Nou ye’re here, benignitor” says Auld Jin, “hou wad we juist lea ye gae?” Sae the auld ane tuik his pock awa frae him, biddin him up the stair ti sit at peace. “Ma dochter’ll see ti while ye tak a seat, benignitor, an A’ll awa an sort out the eattocks.”
“Dinna fash yirsel - onie ordinar thing’ll dae” says Lu Da.
“Ye’re that kind an thochtie, Owrancer, we cudna weill pey ye back e’en tho we wir ti dee for ye” says the auld ane. “But it’ll juist be a courss bite an a wersh sup: A dout it’ll juist haurdlie be warth the preein.”
Sae the lassie tuik Lu Da up the stair an seen him settlt, then Auld Jin gaed doun ti cry on the servin-lass ti blaw up the fire. Neist he tuik the orra-lad up the street an coft a pickle caller fish, a pullet, some pottit guse an creishie kippers, new fruits o the season an ither siclike thing. Wi the wine warmt an the greens set out, it wisna lang or aathing wis redd up an taen up the stair. Thrie quaichs an thrie pair o chopsticks wis set on the wee Ware-time buird, an then the greens an the fruits an aa the ither eattocks wis pitten doun. In cam the servin-lass wi the siller kettle ti pour out the toddies, an syne faither an dochter tuik a quaich ilkane, an Auld Jin lowtit doun ti the grund out o respeck ti the Owrancer.
“Whit’s’ dis?” says Lu Da. “Sicna honour’ll be the daith o me!”
“Tak ye tent o whit A nou propone, ma benignitor” quo Auld Jin. “In days bypast whan first we cam here, A screivit out yir name on a reid paper placket: nicht an morn ma dochter an masel, we lowt doun afore it ti dae ye honour. Nou ye’re here yir ain sel, benignitor, hou cud we no honour ye?”
Nou, it wis comin on ti the derknin an the thriesome wir haein a quait dram, whan there cam the soun o chappin frae doun the stair! Lu Da apent the winnock for a bit look, an whit he seen wis a twentie-thirtie o men wi plain wuiden rungs intil their hauns, aa cryin out “Kep him!”, an amang them aa an officiar on a horse rairin out “Dinna let yon cateran win free!” Seein it hed come ti the bit, Lu Da tuik up a creepie an wis aa for fechtin his wey doun the stair, but Auld Jin gied a wave an cried “Dinna lift yir haun!” An then he gaed skelpin doun the stair an richt up ti speak a word wi the officiar on the horse. The officiar stertit ti lauch, then skailt his twentie-odd men, wha tuik the gait ilkane.
The officiar lichtit doun frae his horse an in the door he cam. Auld Jin bade Owrancer Lu come doun the stair, and the officiar flung hissel doun ti dae Lu Da a service, sayin
“The soun o yir name’s no like seein yir face
For the sicht o yir face beats hearin yir name!
Tak ye ma respecks, honest Owrancer”.
“Wha’s the officiar?” quo Lu Da. “A dinna ken the man - whit’s he daein me a service for?”
“This is the dochter’s officiar, Lord Clerk Zhao” says the auld ane. “Here he’d thocht A wis takin some huremongerin keelie up the stair for a bit dram, sae he brocht his fowk for a bit tulyie. He’s skailt them ance A tellt him, tho.”
“It’s nae blame o the Lord Clerk’s then, sin yon’s da wey o’t” says Lu Da.
Sae the Lord Clerk bade Lu Da come up the stair an sit doun, Auld Jin reddit up the bickers an the ashets, an ance mair they set in ti the eatin an the drinkin. the Lord Clerk bade Lu Da ti the heidmaist place, but he says “A wadna daur”, say the Lord Clerk repones, “It’s juist ti shaw ye a bit respeck, sir. Nou Heaven’s grantit a meetin ti us, it’s fair a blessin ti me, for A’ve monie an monie times heard whit a hero ye are”.
“A’m a courss kin o chiel, an A’m forfautit wi a daith-decreet” says Lu Da. “Gin the Lord Clerk winna lichtlie me because A’m owre hummle for him, an gin he’s willin ti be acquent wi me, A’ll gang wi him, an be whit uise A can til him”.
Blythe ti hear this, the Lord Clerk set in neist ti speirin out aa the business wi Flesher Zheng, an syne they blethert awa a guid whylie, takin the meisur o their brodstaff leir an drinkin drams for hauf the nicht, afore they gaed ilkane ti their nicht’s rest.
The morn’s mornin at keek o day the Lord Clerk says, “A dout this place maun be ill-convenient for ye. A’d like it fine an ye wad come an stop a wee while at ma bit fairm, Owrancer.”
“Whaur about’s yir guid hous?” speirs Lu Da.
“About ten mile frae here, at the bit they cry Seiven Gems Toun “.
“Grand” quo Lu Da.
The Lord Clerk sent a bodie ti the fairm ti fetch anither horse, an whan the bodie cam back later i the forenoon, the Lord Clerk bade Lu Da mount an gang, biddin his men cairry Lu Da’s gear. The Owrancer gied his fare-ye-weills ti Auld Jin an the dochter, an he tuik the gate wi the Lord Clerk, bletherin aa the lang road ti Seiven Gems Toun. In nae lang time they wir lichtin doun afore the mains, an the Lord Clerk wis grippin Lu Da bi the haun an leadin him intil the theikit haa, whaur they baith sat doun like host an guest. The Lord Clerk gies word ti slauchter a yowe an set out mait an drink ti Lu Da, an whan een cam on a guesten-chaumer wis redd out for him ti tak his rest. Neist day Lu Da wis treatit ti the best o mair an drink ance mair, an ti the Lord Clerk he says, “Yir freinship’s misreckont , Lord Clerk, for hou wad A repay ye?”
“Whae spak o peyin?” quo the Lord Clerk. “Atween the fower seas, we’re brithers aa”.
Our tale winna wearie ye: frae this Lu Da bade on at the mains wi the Lord Clerk Zhao for sax-seiven days mair, or the day the twa wis sittin about i the study bletherin, an in comes Auld Jin on a sudden, skelpin inti the mains in a hatter an gaun straucht ti the study ti seek Owrancer Lu an the Lord Clerk. Whan he seen there wis naebodie but them, he says ti Lu Da,
“It’s no that A’m owre easy frichtent, benignitor….it’s juist that, whan A bade ye come up for a dram an the Lord Clerk wis that mistellt wi ither fowk’s claik at he brocht his ain men ti steir up the haill gate-en, aabodie wondert about it efter ye wir awa, an they wis aa blether-bletherin, an then yestreen there wis thrie-fower govermenters speirin an speirin about our gate-en yonder – they’ll be comin ti kep ye, benignitor, A dinna dout. An suppose there’s onie wee slip-by – whit’ll we dae then?”
“An yon’s the wey o’t” says Lu Da, “A’m awa!”
“Gin A wis ti keep ye here, Owrancer” says the Lord Clerk, “A dout there wad be some sair heichs an howes ti win throu, an ye’d be left begrudgefu and fair letten doun. No keepin ye here, tho, wad be an ill affront for uis…A’ve mebbes gotten a wey roun it, tho, at ye winn tak a haet o hurt wi, a wey at wad lea ye siccar an bieldit frae aa yir troubles. But A dout ye’ll no be willin, Owrancer.”
“A’m a daith-decretit man – gin there’s a siccar bit A micht win til, whit wad A no dae!” quo Lu Da.
“That’s mebbes the best thing, then,” says the Lord Clerk. “Thirty-odd mile awa there’s the Five Bunker Hills, an in thae hills is the Court o Miravirtus, a halie-hous dedicate ti the Salvator Miravirtus: in the cloisters there’s sax-seiven hunder priest-bodies, an heidmaist o them aa is Elder Veritas, ma ain brither. A forebear o ours at ance gied a muckle awmous o siller wis the Fundator an Oblationer o that verra cloister, ye see. Nou, A ance made a vou masel at A’d hae a brither clippit owre an ordeinit inti the cloister: A’d een gotten the verra Quinquefloreal priest’s lines, but – weill, A juist niver hed the kin o hairt-thirlt frein at wad see throu this wiss o mines. Gin ye’re willin, Owrancer, it wad be me at wad pit out aa the siller. Are ye willin in trowth ti let faa the hair o yir heid an gang for a freir?”
“Gin A’m ti win free o this nou, whaur else cud A rin ti?” thocht Lu Da. “Better tak dis gate an be dune wi’t!” Sae ti the Lord Clerk he says, “An ye’re willin ti staun guid for uis, A’m willin ti be a freir. It’s you A lippen til ti see me richt, Lord Clerk”.
Sae there an then the twa concludit.
The nicht wis passt wi gaithrin claes, traivlin siller, wabs o claith, an praisents. Early the neist mornin they cried on cottars ti shouther the gear, an they tuik the gate for the Five Bunker Hills: no lang efter the fift hour, they cam ti the braefuit, an Lu Da an the Lord Clerk baith gat inti the sedan-chairs ti get cairried up the brae, an a cottar wis sent on afore them ti cry word o their comin.
Whan they cam afore the cloister, the Brither Cellarer an the Procurater hed come out ti bid them walcome, sae they gat doun frae their chairs an sate theirsels doun i the simmer-hous bi the Hill Yett. Elder Veritas wis lat ken, an out he cam ti bid them walcome, bringin the Praepositor an the Servitor wi him: whan Lord Clerk Zhao an Lu Da cam forrit ti pey their respecks, the Elder says: “It’s an irksome lenth ye’ve hed ti come, Largitor.” An the Lord Clerk answers him wi, “A’ve come ti yir halie sanctuarie to bother ye wi a wee thing”, sae the Elder says, “Come ye awa inti ma chaumer then, an we’ll tak some tea”.
Wi the Lord Clerk afore an Lu Da ahint they gaed to the chaumer, whaur the Elder bade the Lord Clerk sit i the guesten-seat. Lu Da juist gaed straucht ti the place o honour an set hissel doun i the meditation chair. The Lord Clerk whispert in a lown voice close ti this lug, “You at’s here ti quit the warld, whit are ye sittin doun afore the Elder for?” “A didna ken”, says Lu Da, an getting ti his feet, he stuid in ahint the Lord Clerk’s shouther.
Afore them the Praepositor, the Cantor, the Servitor, the Procurator, Brither Cellarer, the Guest-Maister an the Quair-Maister hed rankit theirsels in twae raws east an wast, ordert bi their degrees, an whan the Lord Clerk’s men hed taen awa the sedan chairs, they brocht in the kists an set them out afore the companie. “Whit are ye bringin mair praisents for?” says the Elder. “The’r plenty things about the cloister ye’ve been fashed wi alreadie”. “Juist a whein puir compliments, no warth the cunnin o thenks for”, says the Lord Clerk, as the brithers an prentices liftit aathing awa.
Then Lord Clerk Zhao gat ti his feet an he spak: “Ae thing A’d expone ti ye, meikle freir at’s heid o this haa: A made a vou langsyne to hae a brither clippit owre an ordeinit inti yir halie sanctuarie. Tho A haena dune it yet, lang afore this A hed the priest’s lines an indentures aa ready. Weill, here’s our kizzen Lu, at stertit out a sodger-lad on the mairches: he’s seen the sair doul an pyne o this stourie warld, sae nou he wants to quit the warld an pit temporalitie ahint him. It’s ma earnest howp ye’ll accep him, Elder, an that wi meikle merciment an meikle luve ye’ll hae him registrate, an that for ma puir sake ye’ll clip an cleid him for a brither. A’ll staun guid for ilka thing at’s needit, for it’s ma earnest howp ye’ll len yir illustir wecht ti this. Fair be the faa o’t!”
The Elder heard him out, then answert, “Bi this cause there’ll be glorie an there’ll be splendour brocht ti the yetts o our cloister – it’s easy dune, easy dune! But dae me the honour o takin tea wi me, an ye will.”
Sae the prentices brocht in tea, an ance it wis by, an aathing redd awa, Elder Veritas cried in the Praepositor an the Cantor ti tak avisement i the business o haein this bodie clippit owre an ordeinit, an he bad the Procurator an Brither Cellarer ti see ti the settin out o the lentren-maits.
But here the Praepositor wis awa colloguin wi some o the brithers: “He’s naethin like a bodie at wants ti quit the wrld, this ane: sic a fearsome look he hes in his een!”
“Guest-Maister” says the brithers, “awa you an bid our guests sit doun, an we’ll get onti the Elder about it.”
Sae the Guest-Maister bade Lu Da an Lord Clerk Zhao gang inti the hostlar-hous an sit doun, while ti the Elder the Praepositir an the brithers proponit, “This bodie here at’s for quittin the warld, nou – he hes an ill-faurd, ugsome look, an a contramacious cast about him. Ye’re shuirlie no gaun ti clip an ordein him, for there’ll be muckle adae brocht ti our yetts or lang gae by, an ye dae.” “He’s brither sworn ti our Largitor Lord Clerk Zhao,” says the Elder. “Hou cud we affront the Lord Clerk sae sairlie? Juist lay yir misdoutins by, aa o ye, or A’ve seen about this”.
Kinnlin a spirlie o Fidelitas incense, the Elder sat doun cross-leggit on the meditation chair, screedit aff his mantras, an gaed inti the pensefu fixitie o meditation. Whan the spirlie wis brunt out, he cam ti hissel an spak ti the brithers: “Juist get you on wi clippin an ordeinin him. He’s a man at’s sib ti the stern o heiven abune, this ane, an he’ s steive an siccar o hairt. He’s mebbes wilyart an contramacious for the meenit, an it’s a kittle, varyin weird he’ll dree, but he’ll win throu ti the Pure Cleansin at lang an at last. The Fruits an Evidents he beirs is meritorie far by the common – no the ae ane o ye ‘ll can come near him. Tak ye tent o ma speak: naither cast him out nor hinner him!”
“Ye’d owrelook his failins, Elder, sae we’ll juist hae ti dae the same thing, then,” says the Praepositor. “It’s seeminly misconvenient ti check him for his fauts!”
The Elder gied the word ti set out the lentren-mait an cry in Lord Clerk Zhao, an ance they’d etten it aa, the Procurator cuist the lawin up, an the Lord Clerk tuik out his siller for the gear they needit. Straucht awa the cloister fowk stertit on the makin o the priest’s shuin, the vestments, the cassock, the callet, an the hail staun o service-gear, sae’s in a day or twa it wad be aa feinisht an ready. Syne on the chancie day an lucky hour prefixt, the Elder gart the bells ring and the drums bang for them ti forgaither ane an aa i the Hous o the Law: ane an bi ane in guid order they cam, five-sax hunder brithers cassock-cled, up afore the Throne o the Law ti clasp hauns an mak obedience, afore they rankit theirsels out in twae lang raws.
Lord Clerk Zhao gat out the siller lignates, wi the full staun o claes an the Fidelitas incense, an wi reverence he offert aathing afore the Throne o the Law. Than, ance an the Exponance an Intimation wis by, a prentice led Lu Da afore the Throne. The Cantor tellt him ti tak aff his scairf, an then he tuik the hair o Lu Da’s heid, sheddit ti inti nine an stertit ti plait it; neist cam the barber, wha shavit him clean aa roun – but whan he cam ti the whiskers, Lu Da says, “Juist lea thae alane, an we’ll get on fine”, sae the haill companie cudna help lauchin.
“Lissen ane an aa ti this Halie Rhyme”, cries out the Elder frae the Throne o the Law, an he chantit this:
“Ne’er an inch o gress we lea:
Yir senselie ruits sae purifeit maun be.
Whan for thee we sned it awa,
Nae kemp nor differ may thee befaa.”
An wi a muckle roar he cries out, “C’wa man! Awa wi the lot o’t!”, sae wi the ae an ane straik the barber cuttit the lot aff.
Neist cam the Praepositor ti tak the priest lines afore the Throne an gie them ti the Elder for him to gie out the Halie-Name. The Elder grippit the blank lines an spak this Halie Rhyme:
“Ane blink o livin licht ti see
Is mair nor warld’s gear or fee;
The Salvator’s Law is braid ti see:
PROFUNDITAS is the name A gie.”
An whan the Giein o the Name wis by, the Elder haunit the priest lines ti Brither Quairmaister for him ti scrieve out the name an pass them on ti Profunditas Lu ti keep. The Elder gied out the cassock an the vestments for Profunditas ti pit on, an the the Procurator led him afore the Throne o the Law for the Layin on o Hauns, sae the Elder cud gie the Admonition:
“ANE bield ye in consent o the Enlichtencie o Divinite
TWA bield ye in observe o the Law o Veritie
THRIE bield ye in reverence o the freins an dominies o the Order
“Thir’s the THRIE PERFUGIA. The FIVE ABSTINENTIA is:
“ANE takna nae life
TWA reivena nor spulyie nane
THRIE deboshna nor hure nane
FOWER louna strank drink nane
FIVE tellna nae lees”
Kennin naethin o the SAE SALL A or the SAE SALL A NANE at maun be reponit afore the Offrin Table, Profunditas juist cam out wi, “Ay, A’ll mind o dat”, an aa the brithers laucht.
Ance an the Admonition wis dune, the Lord Clerk bade the brithers aa set theirsels doun i the Cloud-Gaithrin Haa, whaur incense wis kinnelt, a lentren-feast set out, an offrins gien. The chief brithers great an smaa cam forrit ti hansel Profunditas wi praisents, an Brither Cellarer led Profunditas roun ti mak obedience ti his brithers afore he tuik him ti the Bouer ahint the Haa o Brethren ti wale him out a bit ti sleep in. Naethin mair fell out that nicht.
Neist day, tho sair the Elder besocht him, the Lord Clerk wis set for hame. Efter breakfast the Elder convoyed him out ayont the Hill Yett wi aa the brithers, an there the Lord Clerk claspit his hauns an says, “Elder at’s the owrepeer o us aa, an brithers at stauns about us, in ilka thing be mercifu: Brither Profunditas is a common ignorant bodie, an in time comin his mainners winna be up ti the merk, his tongue’ll be a bother ti ye, an in his miskennins he’ll likely rin contrair ti the Pure Ordinances. It’s ma earnest howp ye’ll ha an ee ti no affrontin puir Zhao. Forgie him, will ye no?” “Never heed, Lord Clerk’, says the Elder. “Bit bi bit A’ll see he’s learnt ti read the Scripters an ti chant aff his chairms sae’s he’ll can forder the Doctrine an meditate wi the lave”.
“A’ll see ye peyed back for it aa ane day” says the Lord Clerk, an then he cried on Profunditas ti come awa out o the thrang, an he tuik him in ablow the pine trees, an laich laich doun he tellt him: “Honest brither: frae this day on, ye’ll no can be whit ye wis afore. Tak tent o the Abstinentia in aathing ye dae, for gin ye dinna, we’ll no easy look in ither’s een. Look efter yirsel, nou – A’ll sen a bodie whiles wi claes for ye”. “Du needna say a word, brither, for A’ll abide wi’t aa”, says Profunditas.
Sae then it wis at Lord Clerk Zhao bade fareweill ti the Elder Veritas an tuik his leave o the ithers. He muntit inti his chair, an ahint him cam his menyie cairryin the empty chair an the kists, as doun the brae an hameawa they gaed. The Elder led aa the brithers back inti the cloisters.
Our tale tells o hou Profunditas gaed back ti the Bouer an socht out the meditation bink i the Haa o the Lord for ti streik hissel out an tak a bit sleep. Here tho, the meditators on aither side o him yerkit him up, sayin, “This’ll no dae! An ye’re here ti quit the warld, hou are ye no meditatin?” “A wis sleepin”, quo Profunditas. “Whit’s it adae wi you?” “Ay, ye’re daein weill!” says the bodie. “Daimen eel?” rairs Profunditas. “Haive-eel A’ve etten, but whit’s a daimen eel?” “Och, it’s wersh wark”, says the bodie. “Wersh? It’s got a muckle belly, the haive-eel, guid fat sweet eatin – hou’s it wersh?” quo Profunditas. But the meditators never lat dicht, an left him ti sleep.
The morn’s morn they wir for gaun ti see the Elder ti tell him hou ill-gaitit this Profunditas wis, but the Praepositor, ettlin ti talk them out o’t, says, “The Elder tellt us the Fruits an Evidents he bears is meritorie far by the common, an that no the ae ane o us ‘ll can come near him, sae we’ve ti owrelook his failins, juist. Ye can dae nocht about it: juist hae naethin adae wi him”.
Profunditas fund naebodie was speak ti him, sae whan een cam on he wad juist cowp hissel doun on his back an sleep aa owre the meditation bink. His neb wad gang like thunder i the nicht, an gin he’d ti get up ti ‘wesh his hauns’, he’d gie nae thocht ti the gliffs an stounds he wis giein ither fowk: he’d juist gae straucht in ahint the Haa o the Lord an pish an shite aa owre the place. The waitin-men gaed ti the Elder about him: “Havers!” says the Elder. “Juist you think on the affront ti our Largitor! He’ll chynge for certain or aa’s by”. Sae efter this, naebodie wad daur ti say a thing.
For fower-five month mair, Profunditas gaed on unwittin wi aa his steirs an stramashes in the Five Bunker Hills, or it cam ae day ti the stert o the winter, an, owre lange idle, he thocht ti steir his fuit. On a braw day, caller an bricht, he pit on his lang-coat o black, festent his derk purpie belt, bucklt on his priest’s shuin, an wi muckle spangin steps gaed out the Hill Yett. He wandert whaur he pleased or he cam on a bit simmer-hous doun the brae, an there he set hissel doun on a guse-neckit haa-bink, an he thocht ti hissel, “Ye fucker, ye! Day an daily A aye hed guid drink an guid butcher-mait in ma mou, but sin they gart uis gang for a freir, A’m fair shilpit an cruppen-in wi hunger!”
Nou the verra meenit the thocht o the drink cam owre him, here he spied a lad awa doun the brae, an him comin up wi a sting owre his shouther, twa buckets weill broddit owre, an a toddie-kettle in his haun. An as he gaed the laddie sang:
“Afore the Nine-League Hills there wis a battle,
Whaur herd-lads nou finds spear an sword;
As sweet winds riffle owre the Blackadder Water,
E’en sae did Leddy Yu bid fareweill ti her lord.”
Profunditas lookit out frae whaur he sate i the simmer-hous, watchin him come up the brae wi his sting, an whan the laddie cam ti the simmer-hous he pit his sting doun for a rest, an ti him Profunditas says, “Hey, laddie! Whit’s in yir buckets?” “Guid drink”, says the boy. “Whit is’t the bucketfu?” “Ay, ye like yir joke, freir.” “Whit wad A joke wi ye for?” An the laddie says, “A bring the drink juist ti sell it ti the lay brithers, the porters, the servin-men an the ither warkin fowk at’s about the cloisters, for there’s aye been a mandment o our Elders: lat drink be sellt ti onie freir an we’ll get our capital indrawn an get herried out o our houses an hames for our paiks. Us at’s drawn in borrowgang ti the cloister, an us at bydes i the cloister’s houses, hou wad we daur sell ye drink?” “Ye willna sell it at aa?” speir Profunditas, an the laddie says, “A wad dee afore A’d sell ye it!” “A’m no gaun ti kill ye. A’m juist speirin o de, will ye sell me drink?”
Weill, the laddie seen it hed come ti the bit, sae out the simmer-hous he ran, wi his sting owre his shouther. Profunditas chased efter him, tuik a haud o the sting wi baith hauns, an wi the ae fuit gied the lad sic a clour i the ballop at doun he went on his knees haudin hissel – an it wis a guid whylie afore he raise up again. Profunditas liftit the twa buckets inti the simmer-hous, pickt up the toddie-kettle, liftit the bucket brod, an gat stuck in ti ladlin the drink up cauld. In nae lang time he’d feinisht ane o the twa buckets, an ti the lad he says “Come ye ti the cloister the morn an seek yir siller, son”. The stoundin o the lad’s pains wis hardlie passt bi this, an he wis that feart o the Elder getting ti ken, an him lossin his livin, that he’d ti juist swallie his temper an never let bug, for he wad niver daur gaun seekin his siller. He split the drink in twa haufs in his buckets, shouthert his sting, an gaed fleein awa doun the brae.
Our tale tells o hou Profunditas Lu wis sittin i the simmer-hous for a lang while, an hou the drink cam owre him. Out the simmer-hous ti the fuit o a pine tree he gaed, an he sat lang there, for mair an mair the drink wis owretakin him. He tirlt aff his lang-coat frae his shouthers an knottit his twa sleeves about his middle, shawin aff the bonnie floursit buistins at ran aa owre the rigbane o his back, then up the brae he gaed, birlin an flaffin his airms about him. In a wee while he cam afore the Hill Yett, but the doormen hed seen him lang afore, an wir staunin afore the Hill Yett wi their timmer kaims in their hauns, barrin him frae gaun in, and roarin at him, “You at’s a pupil in the Lord’s faith, whit are ye daein comin up the brae mingin fou? Ye’re no blinnd, ye’ll can see the’r an Intimation stuck up i the Chapter Hous: onie freir brakin the Abstinentia wi the takin o strang drink maun get fortie straiks o the timmer kaim an get herried out o the cloister. An gin the doorman gies a drucken brither leave ti come inti the cloister, he’s ti get ten straiks – Awa wi ye doun the brae, an save us aa a straik o the kaim!”
Nou the firsten thing wis, Profunditas Lu wis juist new come for a freir, sae the neisten thing wis, he hedna cheinged his auld weys. He glowert out o his twa een an he swure at the doormen, “Ye grannie-shaggin gets, ye! An ye’re baith wantin a fecht, A’ll leather the pair o ye!”
Weill, it hed come ti the bit, sae ane doorman gaed skelpin in ti tell the Procurator, an the tither tried ti bar Profunditas wi a thowless kin o cast o his timmer kaim. Profunditas shoved it by, an spreidin braid the five fingers o his haun, he gied the doorman a skelp on the face at sent him stottin. He wis still for strugglin on tho, sae Profunditas gied him another clour at caa’d him doun in front o the Hill Yett ti cry his doolanee. “A’ll let ye aff this time, ye tink,” quo Profunditas Lu as he stauchert an stottit awa inti the cloister.
Efter whit the doorman tellt him, the Procurator cried up twenty-thirty servin men, lay brithers, porters, an chairmen, aa wi plain timmers i their hauns, an whan they gaed brashin out the westren gallery, they ran sraucht inti Profunditas. He gied a muckle roar whan he spied them – it cam out o his mou like a verra thunner-clap – an he cam breingin at them wi muckle spangin steps. Nou, i the firsten place, there wis nane o them kent he’d been an officiar o weir ti trade, an i the saicont, they cud see fine the fearsome wey he wis gaun on – sae they skailit pell-mell inti the Scripter Hous, an scuddit the doors shut. Profunditas bashed up the steps, an wi the ae fuit an the ae neive he beltit the doors open: herried inti a corner, thae twenty bodies hed nae wey out til Profunditas, grabbin a rung, drave them afore him, out o the Scripter Hous. Aff gaed the Porcurator ti tell the Elder, an he lissent an brocht thrie-fower waitin men straucht owre ti the gallery, whaur he roared out, “Profunditas! Nae need for sic ill-fashions!”
Profunditas wis gey fou, but he still kent the Elder. Pittin the rung by, he cam forrit ti clasp his hauns an dae him obedience. But than he pyntit ti the gallery an says, “A’d taen ane gless, or twa, an A niver steirt them up at aa, but the haill croud o them wis for giein me a leatherin!” “For ma sake, awa you an sleep,” says the Elder, an we’ll speak about it the morn”. “Gin it wisna for dy sake,’” quo Profunditas, “A’d knock the lifes out o thae baldie-heidit cuddies!” Sae the Elder tellt the servitors ti caiiry him awa to the meditation-bink, whaur he cowpit doun, an lay in his sleep snoch-snocherin awa.
The chief brithers wir cooried roun the Elder, sayin, “Ance afore we fleicht at ye about this, an whit’s it come ti the day? Hou can the cloister haud siccan wullcat, at sae distrouble the Pure Ordinances?” “Tho the’r a puckle fie-gae-to afore our een the day,” says the Elder, “his real fruits’ll be ti the fore or aa’s by. There’s naethin else for it – thinkin on the affront ti Lord Clerk Zhao – but juist ti forgie him this ae an ane time. A’ll gang masel an lay the faut on him the morn, an we’ll be dune wi’t”. An “Here’s a braw thing” says the brothers, sneistie-like, as they gaed ti their nicht’s rest, “Elder Winna-Be-Tellt!”
The morn’s morn, efter breakfast, the Elder sent a servitor ti the meditation chaumer in the Haa o the Brethren for ti cry in Profunditas – an here he still wisna wakent! Ance an he wis up an hed his lang-coat on, the servitor seen him gae rinnin awa barefiut, aff ahint the Haa o the Brethren, quick as a fuff o wind. The servitor gat a gliff wi this, but Profunditas hed juist rin in ahint the Lord’s Hous for a shite, sae the servitor juist cudna help lauchin. Ance Profunditas hed wesht his hauns, the servitor says, “The Elder bids ye come an speak wi him”, sae Profunditas follaed him inti the chaumer, the Elder says ti him, “Tho ye stertit out a sodger-lad, Profunditas, our Largitor Lord Clerk Zhao hes hed ye clippit owre an ordeinit nou. An whan A gied ye the Layin On o Hauns an the Admonition, A tellt ye:
ANE takna nae life
TWA reivena nor spulyie nane
THRIE deboshna nor hure nane
FOWER louna strank drink nane
FIVE tellna nae lees
Thir Five Abstinentia is the lestin law o a monk’s haill life. Fowk at’s quit the warld first an foremaist lousna strang drink nane. Hou cud ye get sae muckle fou at ye dang doun the doormen, did muckle ill ti the braw reid cheeks o the Scripter Hous door, an wallopped the lay brithers ti they aa ran frae ye, wi aa yir skirlin an yir noise? Whit kin o wey is this ti gang on?”
“Frae nou on, A winna daur!” quo Profunditas, on his knees.
“Ye’ve quit the warld nou – hou cud ye brak the abstinentium o drink at the verra stert? An gae rinnin clean contrair ti the Pure Ordinances tae? An A’d nae thocht for the affront ti yir Oblationer Lord Clerk Zhao, A’d rin ye richt out o the cloister. There’s ti be nae mair fauts frae nou on, mind!” Sae Profunditas gat up, claspit his hauns an says, “A wadna daur!” An the Elder keepit him in his chaumer an gied him a breakfast. Wi fine words he ettlt ti perswad him, an he gat out a lang-coat o the finest cotton an a pair o shoes, at he gied Profunditas ti tak back wi him ti the Haa o the Brethren.
WHANE’ER DRINK’S TANE, ye mauna gang owre the score. Fowk aye says, Drink’ll mak a thing or it’ll mar it – sae gin a man o courage smaa taks drink an turns ram-stam bauld, hou muckle mair will drink no dae ti a man o spunk!
But back ti our tale: efter Profunditas gat sae fou an made sic a steir, he didna daur gang out the cloister door for thrie-fower month thegither. But the wather turnt fair mild ane day, it bein about the saicont month o the springtime, sae out his chaumer he gaed an shankit it smertlie out the Hill Yett ti see whaur he’d win til. He viewed the Five Bunker Hills wi joy a while, but then a wee ting-tinglin soun cam up the brae on the wind, sae back ti his chaumer he gaed for some siller at he pouchit, an doun the brae he slippit. Out ayont the Blissit Steid Bow he tuik a look about him, an he seen a wee tounship o sax-seiven hunder houses! There wis fowk sellin butcher-mait, he seen, an fowk sellin greens – ay, an noodle shops an dramshops tae. He thocht, “Ye demmed eedjit! Gin A’d kent this place wis here, A wadna hae needit ti warsle yon bucktfu o drink out the lad: A cud juist hae come doun here an bocht it….Och, the slaverin an rinnin at the mou A’ve hed ti thole thae days bypast, an will ye look at whit they’re sellin here!”
Ance mair the ting-tinglin soun o a smith warkin at the airn cam til him, an he seen the smiddy, throu the waa frae a hous wi FAITHER & SON INN screivit abune the door. Whan he wan ti the smiddy door, he spied thrie fowk warkin the airn, an he speirs, “Hey, guildbrithers! Hae ye onie guid steel?”
Whan the airn-warkers seen the new-scrapit stibble on the chafts of Profunditas Lu – a sicht ti gie ye hen’s flesh – they wir hauf feart o him at the first. But ane o the guildbrithers drappit his wark an says, “Sit yirsel doun, dominie, an ye please. Whit kin o gear are ye wantin wrocht?”
“It’s a meditation-knife an a fastren knife A’m wantin. Hae ye guid steel o the verra best?”
“A’ve guid steel, ay. Whitna wecht o meditation staff wad ye be wantin? An the fastern knife – A’ll dae that the wey ye want it an aa.”
“A’m wantin a hunner-pund ane”
“Some wecht, dominie. A can mak it for ye – A’d be feart no ti – but A’m wunderin hou ye‘d uise it. Langsyne, even Guan Yu’s sword wis juist echty-ane pund, an nae mair.”
Profunditas wis bleizin: “Sae A’m no up ti Lord Guan, eh? He wis juist a man!”
“It’s juist the common speak, sir. A’ll can dae ye a forty-fifty pund ane, an that’ll be juist fine an wechtie”
Like ye say: mak it echty-ane pund, like Guan Yu’s sword.”
”It’ll be a muckle ill-lookin thing, dominie, an nae guid ti uise: A’ll mak ye a saxty-twa pund watter-burnist meditation staff, an gin ye canna lift it, dominie, it’ll no be ma blame. The fastren knife ye spak o, A need nae tellin for – A’ll uise steel o the best, and A’ll mak a stert richt nou.”
”Hou muckle siller for baith the twa warklumes?”
”A’ll no cangle owre siller wi ye: it’ll be five unce, an nae mair.”
”There’s five unce ti ye, gin ye dae a guid job, A’ll gie ye mair forby that.”
“A’ll stert them nou, then”, says the guildbrther, takin the siller.
“A’ve some odd bit siller about me – A’ll staun ye a dram”, says Profunditas.
“It’s kind o ye, dominie”, says the airn-warker, “but A’m kin o thrang wi wark, sae A’m no up ti keepin ye companie”.
Awa frae the smiddy gaed Profunditas, an in nae mair as thirty steps he cam on a dram-wand stickin out the easins o a hous. He liftit the hingins, gaed inben, set hissel doun, an chappit on the buird, cryin, “Get the drams in!”
“Forgie me, dominie”, says the guidman, but ma hous belangs the cloister, an sae dis ma capital. An there’s the Elder’s mandment an aa: gin onie smaa fowk like us sells drink ti a freir o the cloister, our capital’s ti be ingaithert, an us driven frae our hames. Dinna blame me, sir!”
“Juist sell uis some on the fly, sae’s A can get a drink, an A’ll no say it wis dy hous A gat it frae”, says Profunditas.
“A canna dae’t on the fly”, says the guidman. “Gang someplace else for yir drink, dominie – an dinna blame me!”
Profunditas juist boud ti get up, but he says ti the guidman, “A’ll gang someplace else, then, but A’ll be back ti speak to ye about it!” An out the shop door he gaed.
Anither step on, an he cam ti a hous wi dram pennels fleein out afore the yett, an in he gaed to sit hissel doun, cryin out, “Guidman! Get the drams in – gie’s a drink”.
“Dominie”, says the guidman, “d’ye no ken? Shuirlie ye ken the Elder’s mandment – are ye ettlin ti ruin us aa, comin here?”
Profunditas wadna shift. Thrie times he tried, an five times mair, but wad the bodie sell him drink? Fine he cud see the bodie wisna willin, sae in the hinner en o’t, he gat up an steppit awa. Fower an five houses he gaed intil in a raw, but no the ae ane o them wad sell him drink. He thocht the ploy out: “Gin A canna come up wi a story, hou will A can get a drink?”
Far awa, in amang the almond blossom, in an out-the wey bit richt at the toun-en, there wis a wisp stickin out o a hous: whan he wan ti it, Profunditas seen it wis a wee kintra dramshop. In he gaed, an sat doun at the windae, cryin, “Guidman! A passin freir’s wantin a drink!”
The guidman hed a keek at him, an he speirs, “Whaur hae ye come frae, freir?”
“A’m a wanderin brither, juist gangin about on ma traivels, an A’m wantin ti buy a drink.”
“Gin ye’re ane o the dominies o the cloister on the Five-Bunker Hills, freir, A daurna sell ye drink.”
“A’m no”, says Profunditas, “sae get a drink in”.
This kintra chiel seen the style o Profunditas Lu, wi his queer norlan tongue, an he speirs, “Hou muckle drink are ye wantin?”
“Niver you mind. Juist syle out da muckle bowl.”
Efter he’d drunk aff a dizzen bowls, less or mair, he speirs, “Hae ye onie butcher-mait? Gie’s a dishie o’t”.
“There wis a bit o beef earlier on”, says the chiel, “but it's aa sellt”. A sudden waff o the smell o butcher-mait cam ti Profunditas, an when he gaed outbye to seek it, he spied a dug hotterin awa in a piggie pot. “It seems there’s dug-mait i da hous”, quo he. Sae hou’ll ye no sell it?”
“A jaloused, bein a bodie at’s quit the warld, ye wadna tak dug-mait. Sae A didna ask.”
‘Here’s yir siller”, says Profunditas, spoachin about for it an giein it ti him.. “Sell uis the hauf o’t.”
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The Mossflow. 2023. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 7 December 2023, from http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=1628.
"The Mossflow." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2023. Web. 7 December 2023. http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=1628.
The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "The Mossflow," accessed 7 December 2023, http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk/document/?documentid=1628.
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