Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
In Which the Shepherd and Tickler Take to the Water
By John Wilson (Christopher North) (1785–1854)
From ‘Noctes Ambrosianæ’

Scene:  Two Bathing-machines in the Sea at Portobello.  Present: Shepherd, Tickler.

SHEPHERD—Halloo, Mr. Tickler, are you no ready yet, man? I’ve been a mother-naked man, in my machine here, for mair than ten minutes. Hae your pantaloons got entangled amang your heels, or are you saying your prayers afore you plunge?  1
  Tickler—Both. These patent long drawers, too, are a confounded nuisance—and this patent short undershirt. There is no getting out of them without greater agility than is generally possessed by a man at my time of life.  2
  Shepherd—Confound a’ pawtents. As for mysel, I never wear drawers, but hae my breeks lined wi’ flannen a’ the year through; and as for thae wee short corded undershirts, that clasp you like ivy, I never hae had ane o’ them on sin’ last July, when I was forced to cut it aff my back and breast wi’ a pair o’ sheep-shears, after havin’ tried in vain to get out o’t every morning for twa months. But are ye no ready, sir? A man on the scaffold wadna be allowed sae lang time for preparation. The minister or the hangman wad be juggin’ him to fling the handkerchief.  3
  Tickler—Hanging, I hold, is a mere flea-bite—  4
  Shepherd—What! tae dookin’?—Here goes.  5
[The Shepherd plunges into the sea.]
  Tickler—What the devil has become of James? He is nowhere to be seen. That is but a gull—that only a seal—and that a mere pellock. James, James, James!
  Shepherd  [emerging]—Wha’s that roarin’? Stop a wee till I get the saut water out o’ my een, and my mouth, and my nose, and wring my hair a bit. Noo, where are you, Mr. Tickler?  7
  Tickler—I think I shall put on my clothes again, James. The air is chill; and I see from your face that the water is as cold as ice.  8
  Shepherd—Oh, man! but you’re a desperate cooart. Think shame o’ yoursel, stannin’ naked there at the mouth o’ the machine, wi’ the haill crew o’ yon brig sailin’ up the Firth lookin’ at ye, ane after anither, frae cyuck to captain, through the telescope.  9
  Tickler—James, on the sincerity of a shepherd and the faith of a Christian, lay your hand on your heart, and tell me, was not the shock tremendous? I thought you never would have reappeared.  10
  Shepherd—The shock was naethin’, nae mair than what a body feels when waukenin’ suddenly durin’ a sermon, or fa’in’ ower a staircase in a dream. But I am aff to Inchkeith.  11
  Tickler—Whizz.  12
[Flings a somerset into the sea.]
  Shepherd—Ane—twa—three—four—five—sax—seven—aught— But there’s nae need o’ coontin’, for nae pearl diver in the Straits o’ Madagascar, or aff the coast o’ Coromandel, can haud in his breath like Tickler. Weel, that’s surprisin’. Yon chaise has gane about half a mile o’ gate towards Portybelly sin’ he gaed fizzin’ out ower the lugs like a verra rocket. Safe us! what’s this gruppin’ me by the legs? A sherk—a sherk—a sherk!
  Tickler  [yellowing to the surface]—Blabla—blabla—bla—  14
  Shepherd—He’s keept soomin’ aneath the water till he’s sick; but every man for himsel’, and God for us a’—I’m aff.  15
[Shepherd stretches away to sea in the direction of Inchkeith, Tickler in pursuit.]
  Tickler—Every sinew, my dear James, like so much whipcord. I swim like a salmon.
  Shepherd—O sir! that Lord Byron had but been alive the noo, what a sweepstakes!  17
  Tickler—A Liverpool gentleman has undertaken, James, to swim four-and-twenty miles at a stretch. What are the odds?  18
  Shepherd—Three to one on Saturn and Neptune. He’ll get numm.  19
  Tickler—James, I had no idea you were so rough on the back. You are a perfect otter.  20
  Shepherd—Nae personality, Mr. Tickler, out at sea. I’ll compare carcases wi’ you ony day o’ the year. Yet you’re a gran’ soomer—out o’ the water at every stroke, neck, breast, shouthers, and half-way doun the back—after the fashion o’ the great American serpent. As for me, my style o’ soomin’s less showy—laigh and lown—less hurry, but mair speed. Come sir, I’ll dive you for a jug o’ toddy.  21
[Tickler and Shepherd melt away like foam-bells in the sunshine.]
  Shepherd—Mr. Tickler!
  Tickler—James!  23
  Shepherd—It’s a drawn bate—sae we’ll baith pay. O sir! isna Embro’ a glorious city? Sae clear the air! Yonner you see a man and a woman stannin’ on the tap o’ Arthur’s Seat! I had nae notion there were sae mony steeples, and spires, and columns, and pillars, and obelisks, and domes in Embro’! And at this distance the ee canna distinguish atween them that belangs to kirks, and them that belangs to naval monuments, and them that belangs to ile-gas companies, and them that’s only chimney-heids in the auld toun, and the taps o’ groves, or single trees, sic as poplars; and aboon a’ and ahint a’, craigs and saft-broo’d hills sprinkled wi’ sheep, lichts and shadows, and the blue vapory glimmer o’ a mid-summer day—het, het, het, wi’ the barometer at ninety: but here, to us twa, bob-bobbin’ amang the fresh, cool, murmurin’, and faemy wee waves, temperate as the air within the mermaid’s palace. Anither dive!  24
  Tickler—James, here goes the Fly-Wheel.  25
  Shepherd—That beats a’! He gangs round in the water like a jack roastin’ beef. I’m thinkin’ he canna stop himsel’. Safe us! he’s fun’ out the perpetual motion.  26
  Tickler—What fish, James, would you incline to be, if put into scales?  27
  Shepherd—A dolphin—for they hae the speed o’ lichtnin’. They’ll dart past and roun’ about a ship in full sail before the wind, just as if she was at anchor. Then the dolphin is a fish o’ peace—he saved the life o’ a poet of auld, Arion, wi’ his harp—and oh! they say the cretur’s beautifu’ in death: Byron, ye ken, comparin’ his hues to those o’ the sun settin’ ahint the Grecian Isles. I sud like to be a dolphin.  28
  Tickler—I should choose to sport shark for a season. In speed he is a match for the dolphin; and then, James, think what luxury to swallow a well-fed chaplain, or a delicate midshipman, or a young negro girl, occasionally—  29
  Shepherd—And feenally to be grupped wi’ a hyuck in a cocked hat and feather,—at which the shark rises as a trout does at a flee,—hauled on board, and hacked to pieces wi’ cutlasses and pikes by the jolly crew, or left alive on the deck, gutted as clean as a dice-box, and without an inch o’ bowels.  30
  Tickler—Men die at shore, James, of natural deaths as bad as that—  31
  Shepherd—Let me see—I sud hae nae great objections to be a whale in the Polar Seas. Gran’ fun to fling a boatfu’ o’ harpooners into the air; or wi’ ae thud o’ your tail, to drive in the stern-posts o’ a Greenlandman.  32
  Tickler—Grander fun still, James, to feel the inextricable harpoon in your blubber, and to go snoving away beneath an ice-floe with four mile of line connecting you with your distant enemies.  33
  Shepherd—But then whales marry but ae wife, and are passionately attached to their offspring. There, they and I are congenial speerits. Nae fish that swims enjoys so large a share of domestic happiness.  34
  Tickler—A whale, James, is not a fish.  35
  Shepherd—Isna he? Let him alane for that. He’s ca’d a fish in the Bible, and that’s better authority than Buffon. Oh that I were a whale!  36
  Tickler—What think you of a summer of the American sea-serpent?  37
  Shepherd—What! To be constantly cruised upon by the haill American navy, military and mercantile? No to be able to show your back aboon water without being libeled by the Yankees in a’ the newspapers, and pursued even by pleasure parties, playin’ the hurdy-gurdy and smokin’ cigars! Besides, although I hae nae objection to a certain degree o’ singularity, I sudna just like to be so very singular as the American sea-serpent, who is the only ane o’ his specie noo extant; and whether he dees in his bed, or is slain by Jonathan, must incur the pain and the opprobrium o’ defunckin’ an auld bachelor. What’s the matter wi’ you, Mr. Tickler?  38
  Tickler—The calf of my right leg is rather harder than is altogether pleasant,—a pretty business if it prove the cramp; and the cramp it is, sure enough.—Hallo—James—James—James—hallo—I’m seized with the cramp!—James—the sinews of the calf of my right leg are gathered up into a knot about the bulk and consistency of a sledge-hammer—
  Shepherd—Nae tricks upon travelers. You’ve nae cramp. Gin you hae, streek out your richt hind leg, like a horse geein a funk,—and then ower on the back o’ ye, and keep floatin’ for a space, and your calf’ll be as saft’s a cushion. Lord safe us! what’s this? Deevil tak me if he’s no droonin’. Mr. Tickler, are you droonin’? There he’s doun ance, and up again—twice, and up again; but it’s time to tak haud o’ him by the hair o’ the head, or he’ll be doun amang the limpets!  40
[Shepherd seizes Tickler by the locks.]
  Shepherd—What language is that? Finnish? Noo, sir, dinna rug me doun to the bottom alang wi’ you in the dead-thraws.  42
  Tickler—Heaven reward you, James: the pain is gone—but keep near me.  43
  Shepherd—Whammle yoursel’ ower on your back, sir. That ’ill do. Hoo are you now, sir? Yonner’s the James Watt steamboat, Captain Bain, within half a league. Lean on my airm, sir, till he comes alangside, and it ’ll be a real happiness to the captain to save your life. But what ’ill a’ the leddies do whan they’re hoistin’ us aboard? They maun just use their fans.  44
  Tickler—My dear Shepherd, I am again floating like a turtle,—but keep within hail, James. Are you to windward or leeward?  45
  Shepherd—Right astarn. Did you ever see, sir, in a’ your born days, sic a sky? Ane can scarcely say he sees ’t, for it’s maist invisible in its blue beautifu’ tenuity, as the waters o’ a well! It’s just like the ee o’ a lassie I kent lang ago: the langer you gazed intil ’t, the deep, deep, deeper it grew—the cawmer and the mair cawm—composed o’ a smile, as an amethyst is composed o’ licht—and seeming something impalpable to the touch, till you ventured, wi’ fear, joy, and tremmlin’, to kiss it—just ae hesitatin’, pantin’, reverential kiss—and then, to be sure, your verra sowl kent it to be a bonny blue ee, covered wi’ a lid o’ dark fringes, and drappin’ aiblins a bit frichtened tear to the lip o’ love.  46
  Tickler—What is your specific gravity, James? You float like a sedge.  47
  Shepherd—Say rather a nautilus, or a mew. I’m native to the yelement.  48
  Tickler—Where learned you the natatory art, my dear Shepherd?  49
  Shepherd—Do you mean soomin’? In St. Mary’s Loch. For a haill simmer I kept plouterin’ alang the shore, and pittin’ ae fit to the grun’, knockin’ the skin aff my knees, and makin’ nae progress, till ae day, the gravel haein’ been loosened by a flood, I plowpt in ower head and ears, and in my confusion turnin’ my face to the wrang airt, I sworn across the loch at the widest at ae stretch; and ever after that could hae soomed ony man in the forest for a wager, except Mr. David Ballantyne, that noo leeves ower-by yonner, near the Hermitage Castle.  50
  Tickler—Now, James, you are, to use the language of Spenser, the Shepherd of the Sea.  51
  Shepherd—Oh that I had been a sailor! To hae circumnavigated the warld! To hae pitched our tents, or built our bowers, on the shores o’ bays sae glitterin’ wi’ league-lang wreaths o’ shells, that the billows blushed crimson as they murmured! To hae seen our flags burnin’ meteor-like, high up amang the primeval woods, while birds bright as ony buntin’ sat trimmin’ their plummage amang the cordage, sae tame in that island, where ship had haply never touched afore, nor ever might touch again,—lying in a latitude by itsel’, and far out o’ the breath o’ the tredd-wunds! Or to hae landed wi’ a’ the crew, marines and a’, excep’ a guard on shipboard to keep aff the crowd o’ canoes, on some warlike isle, tossin’ wi’ the plumes on chieftains’ heads, and soun’-soun’-soundin’ wi’ gongs! What’s a man-o’-war’s barge, Mr. Tickler, beautifu’ sicht though it be, to the hundred-oared canoe o’ some savage island-king! The king himsel’ lying in state—no dead, but leevin’, every inch o’ him—on a platform, aboon a’ his warriors standin’ wi’ war-clubs, and stane hatchets, and fish-bane spears, and twisted mats, and tattooed faces, and ornaments in their noses, and painted een, and feathers on their heads a yard heigh, a’ silent, or burstin’ out o’ a sudden intil shootin’ sangs o’ welcome or defiance, in a language made up o’ a few lang strang words—maistly gutturals—and gran’ for the naked priests to yell intil the ears o’ their victims, when about to cut their throats on the altar-stane that idolatry had incrusted with blood, shed by stormy moonlicht to glut the maw of their sanguinary god. Or say rather—oh, rather say that the white-winged Wonder that has brought the strangers frae afar, frae lands beyond the setting sun, has been hailed with hymns and dances o’ peace—and that a’ the daughters o’ the isle, wi’ the daughter o’ the king at their head, come a’ gracefully windin’ alang in a figure that, wi’ a thousan’ changes, is aye but ae single dance, wi’ unsandaled feet true to their ain wild singin’, wi’ wings fancifully fastened to their shouthers, and, beautifu’ creturs! a’ naked to the waist— But where the Deevil’s Mr. Tickler? Has he sunk durin’ my soliloquy? or swum to shore? Mr. Tickler—Mr. Tickler!—I wush I had a pistol to fire into the air, that he might be brought to.—Yonner he is, playin’ at porpuss. Let me try if I can reach him in twenty strokes; it’s no aboon hunder yards. Five yards a stroke—no bad soomin’ in dead water.—There, I’ve done it in nineteen. Let me on my back for a rest.  52
  Tickler—I am not sure that this confounded cramp—  53
  Shepherd—The cramp’s just like the hiccup, sir—never think o’t, and it’s gane. I’ve seen a white lace veil, sic as Queen Mary’s drawn in, lyin’ afloat, without stirrin’ aboon her snawy broo, saftenin’ the ee-licht—and it’s yon braided clouds that remind me o’t, motionless, as if they had lain ther a’ their lives; yet wae’s me! perhaps in ae single hour to melt away for ever!  54
  Tickler—James, were a mermaid to see and hear you moralizing so, afloat on your back, her heart were lost.  55
  Shepherd—I’m nae favorite noo, I suspeck, amang the mermaids.  56
  Tickler—Why not, James? You look more irresistible than you imagine. Never saw I your face and figure to more advantage when lying on the braes o’ Yarrow, with your eyes closed in the sunshine, and the shadows of poetical dreams chasing each other along cheek and brow. You would make a beautiful corpse, James.  57
  Shepherd—Think shame o’ yoursel’, Mr. Tickler, for daurin’ to use that word, and the sinnies o’ the cauf o’ your richt leg yet knotted wi’ the cramp. Think shame o’ yoursel’! That word’s no canny.  58
  Tickler—But what ails the mermaids with the Shepherd?  59
  Shepherd—I was ance lyin’ half asleep in a sea-shore cave o’ the Isle o’ Skye, wearied out by the verra beauty o’ the moonlicht that had keepit lyin’ for hours in ae lang line o’ harmless fire, stretchin’ leagues and leagues to the rim o’ the ocean. Nae sound, but a bit faint, dim plash—plash—plash o’ the tide—whether ebbin’ or flawin’ I ken not—no against, but upon the weedy sides o’ the cave—  60
  “As when some shepherd of the Hebride Isles,
Placed far amid the melancholy main—”
  Shepherd—That soun’s like Thamson in his ‘Castle o’ Indolence.’ A’ the haill warld was forgotten—and my ain name—and what I was—and where I had come frae—and why I was lyin’ there—nor was I onything but a Leevin’ Dream.  62
  Tickler—Are you to windward or leeward, James?  63
  Shepherd—Something—like a caulder breath o’ moonlicht—fell on my face and breast, and seemed to touch all my body and my limbs. But it canna be mere moonlicht, thocht I, for at the time there was the whisperin’—or say rather the waverin’—o’ the voice, no alang the green cave wa’s, but close intil my ear, and then within my verra breast; sae, at first—for the soun’ was saft and sweet, and wi’ a touch o’ plaintive wildness in ’t no unlike the strain o’ an Æolian harp—I was rather surprised than feared, and maist thocht that it was but the wark o’ my ain fancy, afore she yielded to the dwawm o’ that solitary sleep.  64
  Tickler—James, I hear the steamer.  65
  Shepherd—I opened my een, that had only been half steekit—and may we never reach the shore again, if there was not I, sir, in the embrace o’ a mermaid!  66
  Tickler—James—remember we are well out to Inchkeith. If you please, no—  67
  Shepherd—I would scorn to be drooned with a lee in my mouth, sir. It is quite true that the hair o’ the cretur is green—and it’s as slimy as it’s green—slimy and sliddery as the seaweed that cheats your unsteady footing on the rocks. Then what een! oh, what een! Like the boiled een o’ a cod’s head and shouthers! And yet expression in them—an expression o’ love and fondness, that would hae garred an Eskimaw scunner.  68
  Tickler—James, you are surely romancing.  69
  Shepherd—O dear, dear me!—hech, sirs! hech, sirs!—the fishiness o’ that kiss! I had hung up my claes to dry on a peak o’ the cliff—for it was ane o’ thae lang midsummer nichts, when the sea-air itself fans ye wi’ as warm a sugh as that frae a leddy’s fan when you’re sittin’ side by side wi’ her in an arbor—  70
  Tickler—O James, you fox—  71
  Shepherd—Sae that I was as naked as either you or me, Mr. Tickler, at this blessed moment; and when I felt mysel’ enveloped in the hauns, paws, fins, scales, tail, and maw o’ the mermaid o’ a monster, I grued till the verra roof o’ the cave let doun drap, drap, drap upon us—me and the mermaid—and I gied mysel’ up for lost.  72
  Tickler—Worse than Venus and Adonis, my dear Shepherd.  73
  Shepherd—I began mutterin’ the Lord’s Prayer, and the Creed, and the hundred and nineteenth Psalm—but a’ wudna do. The mermaid held the grup; and while I was splutterin’ out her kisses, and convulsed waur than I ever was under the warst nichtmare that ever sat on my stamach, wi’ ae desperate wallop we baith gaed tapsalteerie—frae ae sliddery ledge to anither—till, wi’ accelerated velocity, like twa stanes, increasin’ accordin’ to the squares o’ the distances, we played plunge like porpusses into the sea, a thousan’ fadom deep—and hoo I gat rid o’ the briny Beastliness nae man kens till this day: for there was I sittin’ in the cave, chitterin’ like a drookit cock, and nae mermaid to be seen or heard; although, wad ye believe me, the cave had the smell o’ crabs, and labsters, and oysters, and skate, and fish in general, aneuch to turn the stamach o’ a whale or a sea-lion.  74
  Tickler—Ship ahoy! Let us change our position, James. Shall we board the steamer?  75
  Shepherd—Only look at the waves,—hoo they gang welterin’ frae her prow and sides, and widen in her wake for miles aff! Gin we venture ony nearer, we’ll never wear breeks mair. Mercy on us! she’s bearin’ doun upon us. Let us soom fast, and passing across her bows, we shall bear up to windward out o’ a’ the commotion.—Captain Bain! Captain Bain! it’s me and Mr. Tickler, takin’ a soom for an appeteet!—stop the ingine till we get past the bowsprit!  76
  Tickler—Heavens, James, what a bevy of ladies on deck! Let us dive.  77
  Shepherd—You may dive—for you swim improperly high; but as for me, I seem in the water to be a mere Head, like a cherub on a church. A boat, captain—a boat!  78
  Tickler—James, you aren’t mad, sure? Who ever boarded a steamer in our plight? There will be fainting from stem to stern, in cabin and steerage.  79
  Shepherd—I ken that leddy in the straw-bannet and green veil and ruby sarsnet, wi’ the glass at her ee. Ye ho—Miss—  80
  Tickler—James, remember how exceedingly delicate a thing is a young lady’s reputation. See, she turns away in confusion.  81
  Shepherd—Captain, I say, what news frae London?  82
  Captain Bain  [through a speaking-trumpet]—Lord Wellington’s amendment on the bonding clause in the Corn Bill again carried against Ministers by 133 to 122. Sixty-six shillings!  83
  Tickler—What says your friend M’Culloch to that, captain?  84
  Shepherd—Wha cares a bodle about corn bills in our situation? What’s the captain routin’ about noo o’ his speakin’-trumpet? But he may just as weel haud his tongue, for I never understand ae word out o’ the mouth o’ a trumpet.  85
  Tickler—He says the general opinion in London is that the Administration will stand—that Canning and Brougham—  86
  Shepherd—Canning and Brougham, indeed! Do you think, sir, if Canning and Brougham had been soomin’ in the sea, and that Canning had ta’en the cramp in the cauf o’ his richt leg,—as you either did, or said you did, a short while sin’ syne,—that Brougham wad hae safed him as I safed you? Faith, no he indeed! Hairy wad hae thocht naething o’ watchin’ till George showed the croon o’ his head aboon water, and then hittin’ him on the temples.  87
  Tickler—No, no, James. They would mutually risk lives for each other’s sake. But no politics at present: we’re getting into the swell, and will have our work to do to beat back into smooth water. James, that was a facer.  88
  Shepherd—Dog on it, ane wad need to be a sea-maw, or kitty-wake, or stormy petrel, or some ither ane o’ Bewick’s birds—  89
  Tickler—Keep your mouth shut, James, till we’re out of the swell.  90
  Shepherd—Em-hem-umph—humph—whoo—whoo—whurr—whurr—herrachvacherach!  91
  Tickler—Whsy—whsy—whsy—whugh—whugh—shugh—shugh—prugh—ptsugh—prgugh!  92
  Shepherd—It’s lang sin’ I’ve drank sae muckle saut water at ae sittin’—at ae soomin’, I mean—as I hae dune, sir, sin’ that steamboat gaed by. She does indeed kick up a deevil o’ a rumpus.  93
  Tickler—Whoo—whoo—whoof—whroo—whroo—whroof—proof—ptroof—sprtf!  94
  Shepherd—Ae thing I maun tell you, sir, and that’s, gin you tak the cramp the noo, you maunna expeck ony assistance frae me—no, gin you were my ain faither. This bates a’ the swalls! Confoun’ the James Watt, quoth I.  95
  Tickler—Nay, nay, James. She is worthy of her name—and a better seaman than Captain Bain never boxed the compass. He never comes below except at meal-times, and a pleasanter person cannot be at the foot of the table. All night long he is on deck looking out for squalls.  96
  Shepherd—I declare to you, sir, that just noo in the trough o’ the sea, I didna see the top o’ the steamer’s chimley. See, Mr. Tickler—see, Mr. Tickler—only look here—only look here—HERE’S BRONTE!—MR. NORTH’S GREAT NEWFUNLAN’ BRONTE!  97
  Tickler—Capital—capital. He has been paying his father a visit at the gallant Admiral’s, and come across our steps on the sands.  98
  Shepherd—Puir fallow—gran’ fallow—did ye think we was droonin’?  99
  Bronte—Bow—bow—bow—bow, wow, wow—bow, wow, wow.  100
  Tickler—His oratory is like that of Bristol Hunt versus Sir Thomas Lethbridge.  101
  Shepherd—Sir, you’re tired, sir. You had better tak haud o’ his tail.  102
  Tickler—No bad idea, James. But let me just put one arm round his neck. There we go. Bronte, my boy, you swim strong as a rhinoceros!  103
  Bronte—Bow, wow, wow—bow, wow, wow.  104
  Tickler—Why, I think, James, he speaks uncommonly well. Few of our Scotch members speak better. He might lead the Opposition.  105
  Shepherd—What for will ye aye be introducin’ politics, sir? But really, I hae fund his tail very useful in that swall; and let’s leave him to himsel’ noo, for twa men on ae dowg’s a sair doundraucht.  106
  Tickler—With what a bold, kind eye the noble animal keeps swimming between us, like a Christian!  107
  Shepherd—I hae never been able to persuade my heart and my understandin’ that dowgs haena immortal sowls. See how he steers himsel’,—first a wee towarts me, and then a wee towarts you, wi’ his tail like a rudder. His sowl maun be immortal.  108
  Tickler—I am sure, James, that if it be, I shall be extremely happy to meet Bronte in any future society.  109
  Shepherd—The minister wad ca’ that no orthodox. But the mystery o’ life canna gang out like the pluff o’ a cawnle. Perhaps the verra bit bonny glitterin’ insecks that we ca’ ephemeral, because they dance out but ae single day, never dee, but keep for ever and aye openin’ and shuttin’ their wings in mony million atmospheres, and may do sae through a’ eternity. The universe is aiblins wide aneuch.  110
  Tickler—Eyes right! James, a boatful of ladies—with umbrellas and parasols extended to catch the breeze. Let us lie on our oars, and they will never observe us.  111
  Bronte—Bow, wow, wow—bow, wow, wow.  112
[Female alarms heard from the pleasure-boat.  A gentleman in the stern rises with an oar, and stands in a threatening attitude.]
  Tickler—Ease off to the east, James—Bronte, hush!
  Shepherd—I howp they’ve nae fooling-pieces, for they may tak us for gulls, and pepper us wi’ swan-shot or slugs. I’ll dive at the flash. Yon’s no a gun that chiel has in his haun?  114
  Tickler—He lets fall his oar into the water, and the “boatie rows—the boatie rows.” Hark, a song!  115
[Song from the retiring boat.]
  Shepherd—A very gude sang, and very well sung—jolly companions every one.
  Tickler—The fair authors of the ‘Odd Volume’!  117
  Shepherd—What’s their names?  118
  Tickler—They choose to be anonymous, James; and that being the case, no gentleman is entitled to withdraw the veil.  119
  Shepherd—They’re sweet singers, howsomever; and the words o’ their sang are capital. Baith ‘Odd Volumes’ are maist ingenious, well written, and amusing.  120
  Tickler—The public thinks so; and they sell like wildfire.  121
  Shepherd—I’m beginning to get maist desparat thursty and hungry baith. What a denner wull we make! How mony miles do you think we hae swom?  122
  Tickler—Three—in or over. Let me sound. Why, James, my toe scrapes the sand. “By the nail, six!”  123
  Shepherd—I’m glad o’t. It ’ill be a bonny bizziness, gif ony ne’er-do-weels hae ran aff wi’ our claes out o’ the machines. But gif they hae, Bronte ’ill sune grup them—wunna ye, Bronte?  124
  Bronte—Bow, wow, wow—bow, wow, wow.  125
  Shepherd—Now, Tickler, that our feet touch the grun’, I’ll rin you a race to the machines for anither jug.  126
  Tickler—Done—but let us have a fair start. Once, twice, thrice!
[Tickler and the Shepherd start, with Bronte in the van, amid loud acclamations from the shore.—Scene closes.]

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.