The Scots Reader — Bairns' Rhymes an Stories

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The Scots Reader — Bairns' Rhymes an Stories

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Helen B. Cruikshank


Clock-leddy, clock-leddy
flee awa hame,
Your lum's in a lowe,
Your bairns in a flame;
Reid-spottit jaiket,
And polisht black ee,
laund on ma luif and bring
Siller tae me!

Attercap, attercap,
Spinnin your threid,
Midges for denner, an
Flees for your breid;
Sic a mishanter
Befell a bluebottle,
Silk roond his feet-
Your haund at his throttle!

Mowdiwarp, mowdiwarp,
Howkin and scartin,
Tweed winna please ye,
Nor yet the braw tairtan,
Silk winna suit ye,
Naither will cotton,
Naething, ma laird, but the
velvet ye'v gotten.


Nancy Nicholson

Listen Tae The Teacher

He's five year auld, he's aff tae the schuil
Fermer's bairn wi a pincil and a rule
His teacher scoffs whan he says "hoose"
" The word is house, you silly little goose"
He tells his ma whan he gets back
He saw a "mouse" in an auld cairt track
His faither lauchs fae the stackyaird dyke
"Yon's a MOOSE ye daft wee tike"


Listen tae the teacher, dinna say dinna
Listen tae the teacher, dinna say hoose
Listen tae the teacher, ye canna say maunna
Listen tae the teacher, ye maunna say moose

He bit his lip and shut his mooth
Whit ane coud he trust for truith
He teuk his burden ower the hill
Tae auld gray Geordie o the mill
"And did thay mock thoo for thee tongue
Wi thaim sae auld and ye sae young?
Thay warna makkin a fuil o ye
Thay war makkin a fuil o thaimsels ye see"

Say hoose tae the faither, house tae the teacher
Moose tae the fermer, mouse tae the preacher
Whan yer young it's weel for you
Tae "do in Rome as Romans do"
But whan ye growe and ye are auld
Ye needna dae as ye are tauld
Dinna trim yer tongue tae suit yon dame
That scorns the langage o her hame

Than teacher thocht that he wis fine
He keepit in stap, he steyed in line
Faither says that he wis grand
He spak his ain tongue like a man
And whan he growed and made his chice
He chuise his Scots, his native vice
And A chairge ye tae dae likewise
Spurn yon puir misguidit cries




A canty wee lassie cried Menzies
Speirt, "Dae ye ken whit this thenzies?"
Her Maw, wi a gasp,
Reponed, "It's a wasp!"
And ye're haudin the end whaur the stenzies

Wee Willie Winkie

Wee Willie Winkie rins throu the toun,
Up the stair and doun the stair in his nichtgoun,
Tirlin at the windae, cryin at the lock,
Is aw the bairns in thair beds? it's past echt o clock!

Wee Willie Winkie, are ye comin ben?
The cat's singin gray thrums tae the sleepin hen,
The dug's speldert on the fluir and disna gie a cheep,
But here's a waukrif laddie that winna faw asleep.

Onything but sleep, ye rogue, glowerin like the muin,
Rattlin in an airn joug wi an airn spuin,
Rummlin-tummlin roond aboot, crawin like a cock,
Skirlin like A kenna whit, waukenin sleepin fowk.

Hey, Willie Winkie, the wean's in a creel,
Whammlin aff a body's knee like a verra eel,
Ruggin at the cat's lug and raivelin aw her thrums,
Hey, Willie Winkie, see here he comes!


Rashie-coat wis a keeng's dochter, and her faither wantit her tae be mairit; but she didna like the man. Her faither said she buid tak him; and she didna ken whit tae dae. Sae she gaed awa tae the hen-wife, for tae speir whit she shoud dae. And the hen-wife said: "Say ye winna tak him binna thay gie ye a coat o the beaten gowd." Weel, thay gied her a coat o the beaten gowd; but she didna want tae tak him for aw that. Sae she gaed tae the hen-wife again, and the hen-wife said: "Say ye winna tak him unless thay gie ye a coat made o the feathers o aw the birds o the air." Sae the keeng sent a man wi a great heap o corn; and the man cried tae aw the birds o the air: "Ilka bird tak up a corn and pit doun a feather; and thay teuk aw the feathers and made coats o thaim, and gied it tae Rashie-coat; but she didna want tae tak him for aw that. Weel, she gaed tae the hen-wife again, and speirt whit she shoud dae; and the hen-wife said "Say ye winna tak him unless thay gie ye a coat o rashes and a pair o slippers." Weel thay gied her a coat o rashes and a pair o slippers; but she didna want tae tak him for aw that. Sae she gaed tae the hen-wife again, and the hen wife said she coudna help her ony mair.
Weel, she left her faither's hoose, and gaed faur, and faur and faurer nor A can tell; and she cam tae a keeng's hoose and she gaed til't. And thay speirt at her whit she wis seekin, and she said she wis seekin service; and thay gied her service, and set her in tae the keetchen for tae wash the dishes, and tak oot the ess, and aw that. And whan the Saubath day cam, thay aw gaed til the kirk, and left her at hame for tae keuk the denner. And the fairy telt her tae gang, and she wad keuk the denner for her. And she said:

"Ae peat gar anither peat burn,
Ae spit gar anither spit turn,
Ae pat gar anither pat play,
Lat Rashie-coat gang til the kirk the day."

Sae Rashie-coat pit on her coat o the beaten gowd, and gaed awa tae the kirk. And the keeng's son fell in luve wi her; but she cam hame afore the kirk skailt, and he coudna find oot wha she wis. And whan sde cam hame she fund the denner keukit, and naebody kent she haed been oot.
Weel, the neist Saubath day, the fairy cam again, and telt her tae pit on the coat o feathers o aw the birds o the air, and gang til the kirk, and she wad keuk the denner for her. Weel, she pit on the coat o feathers, and gaed til the kirk. And she cam oot afore it skailt; and whan the keeng's son seen her gaun oot, he gaed oot and aw; but he coudna find oot wha she wis. And she wun hame, and teuk aff the coat o feathers, and fund the denner keukit, and naebody kent she haed been oot.
And the neist Saubath day, the fairy cam til her again, and telt her tae pit on the coat o rashes and the pair o slippers, and gang til the kirk again. Aweel, she did it aw; and this time the keeng's son sat naur the door, and whan he seen Rashie-coat slippin oot afore the kirk skailt , he slippit oot and aw and grippit her. And she gat awa frae him, and ran hame; but she tint ane o her slippers, and he teuk it up. And he gart cry throu aw the kintra, that onybody that coud get the slipper on, he wad mairy thaim. Sae aw the leddies o the coort ettelt tae get the slipper on, and hit wadna fit nane o thaim. And the auld hen-wife cam and fuish her dochter for tae ettle and get it on, and she nippit her fit and she clippit her fit, and gat it on thon wey. Sae the keeng's son wis gaun tae mairy her. And he wis taen her awa for tae mairy her, ridin on a horse, and her ahint him; and thay cam tae a wid, and thare wis a bird sittin on a tree, and as thay gaed by, the bird said:

"Nippit fit and clippit fit
Ahint the keeng's son rides;
But bonny fit and pretty fit
Ahint the caudron hides."

And whan the keeng's son haurd this, he flang aff the hen-wife's dochter, and cam hame again, and leukit ahint the caudron, and thare he fund Rashie-coat greetin for her slipper. And he tried her fit wi the slipper, and it gaed on fine. Sae he mairit her.

An thay leeved happy and happy,
And niver drank oot o a dry caupie.

Whippitie Stourie

A ken ye're fond o clashes aboot fairies, bairns; and a story anent a fairy and the guidwife o Kittlerumpit haes juist come intae ma mind; but A canna verra weel tell ye nou whauraboots Kittlerumpit ligs. A think hit's somewhaur in amang the debatable grund; Onygate A s' no pertend tae mair nor A ken, lik awbody nou-a-days. A wiss thay wad mind the ballant we uised tae lilt lang syne:

"Mony ane sings the girse, the girse,
And mony ane sings the corn;
And mony ane clatters o bauld Robin Huid,
Ne'er kent whaur he wis born."

But hou-sae-iver, aboot Kittlerumpit: the guidman wis a vaigin sort o a body; and he gaed tae a fair ae day, and no anely niver cam hame again, but niver mair wis haurd o. Some said he listit, and ither some that the wearifu pressgang cleekit him up, tho he wis claithed wi a wife and a wean forby. Hech-hou! that dulefu pressgang! thay gaed aboot the kintra lik rairin lions, seekin wha thay micht devoor. A mind weel, ma auldest brither Sandy wis aw but smuirt in the meal ark hidin frae thae limmers. Efter thay war gane, we poued him oot frae amang the meal, pechin and greetin, and sae white as ony corp. Ma mither haed tae pike the meal oot o his mooth wi the shank o a horn spuin.
Aweel, whan the guidman o Kittlerumpit wis gane, the guidwife wis left wi a smaw fendin. Little gear haed she, and a soukin lad bairn. Awbody said thay war sairy for her; but naebody helpit her, whilk's a common case, 'ser's. Housomeiver, the guidwife haed a sou, and that wis her ae consolation; for the sou wis suin tae farrae, and she howpit for a guid bairn-time.
But we aw ken howp's fallacious. Ae day the wife gaes tae the ree for tae fill the sou's troch; and whit dis she find but the sou liggin on her back, gruntin and grainin, and readies tae gie up the ghaist.
A trou this wis a new stoond tae the guidwife's hert; sae she sat doun on the knockin-stane, wi her bairn on her knee, and grat sairer nor iver she did for the loss o her ain guidman.
Nou A premeese that the cot-hoose o Kittlerumpit wis biggit on a brae, wi a fir-wid ahint hit, o whilk ye mey hear mair or lang gae. Sae the guidwife, whan she wis dichtin her een, chances tae leuk doun the brae, and whit dis she see but an auld wumman, awmaist lik a leddy, comin slaw up the gate. She wis buskit in green, and aw but a white cutty apron, and a black velvet huid, and a steeple crount beaver hat on her heid: She haed a lang walkin-staff, sae lang as hersel, in her haund - the sort o staff that auld men and auld weemen helpit thaimsels wi lang syne; A see nae sic staffs nou, 'ser's.
Aweel, whan the guidwife seen the green gentle-wumman naur her, she raise and made curtchey; an; "Mem," quo she, greetin, "A'm ane o the maist misfortunate weemen alive."
"A dinna wiss tae hear pipers' news and fiddlers' tales, guidwife," quo the green wumman. "A ken ye'v tint your guidman - we haed waur losses at the Shirra Muir; and A ken that your sou's unco seek. Nou, whit will ye gie me gin A cuir her?"
"onything your leddyship's mem likes," quo the witless guidwife, niver jalousin wha she haed tae deal wi. "Lat's weet thoums on that bargain," quo the green wumman: sae thoums wis weetit, A s' warrand ye; and intae the ree mem mairches.
She leuks at the sou wi a lang glower, and syne begoud tae mutter in til hersel whit the guidwife coudna weel lift; but she said hit soondit lik;

"Pitter patter,
Haly watter."

Syne she teuk oot her pootch a wee bottle, wi something lik ile in't, and rubs the sou wi't abuin the snoot, ahint the lugs, and on the tip o the tail. " Get up, beast," quo the green wumman. Nae suiner said nor duin - up bangs the sou wi a grunt, and awa tae her troch for her brakfast.
The guidwife o Kittlerumpit wis a blithe guidwife nou, and wad she hae kisst the verra hem o the green mem's goun-tail, but she wadna lat her. "A'm no sae fond o fashions," quo she; "but nou that A hae richtit your seek beast, lat us end oor siccar bargain. Ye'll no find me an unraisonable greedy body - A like aye tae dae a guid turn for a smaw rewaird - aw A aks, and will hae, is that lad bairn in your bosie."
The guidwife o Kittlerumpit, wha nou kent her customer, gied a skirl lik a stickit grice. The green wumman wis a fairy, nae dout; sae she prays and greets, and begs, and flytes; but aw wadna dae. "Ye mey spare your din, "quo the fairy, "skirlin lik A wis sae deif as a door nail; but this A'll lat ye tae wit - A canna, by the law we leeve on, tak your bairn til the thrid day efter this day; and no than, gin ye can tell me ma richt name." Sae mem gaes awa roond the swine's ree end, and the guidwife faws doun in a swarf ahint the knockin-stane.
Aweel, the guidwife o the Kittlerumpit coud sleep nane that nicht for greetin, and aw the neist day the same, cuddlin her bairn till she naur squeezed oot its breith; but the seicont day she thinks on takkin a walk in the wid A telt ye o; and sae, wi the bairn in her airms, she sets oot, and gaes faur in amang the trees, whaur wis an auld quarrel-heuch, growen ower wi girse, and a bonny spring wall in the mids o't. Afore she cam verra ney, she hears the birrin o a lint-wheel, and a vice liltin a sang; sae the wife creeps quatelike amang the busses, and keeks ower the brou o the quarrel-heuch, and whit dis she see but the green fairy kempin at her wheel, and singin lik ony precentor:

"Little kens oor guid dame at hame
That Whippitie Stourie is ma name!"

"Ah, ha!" thinks the wife, "A'v gotten the dorbie's wird at last; the deil gie thaim joy that telt it!" Sae she gaed hame faur lichter nor she cam oot, as ye mey weel jalouse, lauchin lik a madkep wi the thocht o begunkin the auld green fairy.
Aweel, ye maun ken that this guidwife wis a joco wumman, and aye canty whan her hert wisna unco sair owerlaiden. Sae she thinks tae hae some sport wi the fairy; and at the appintit time she pits the bairn ahint the knockin-stane, and sits doun on't hersel. Syne she pous her mutch ajee ower her left lug, creuks her mou on the tither side, as gin she war greetin, and a filthy face she made, ye mey be shuir. she haedna lang tae wait, for up the brae munts the green fairy, naither lame nor lazy; and lang or she gat naur the knockin-stane, she skirls oot: "Guidwife o Kittlerumpit, ye ken weel whit I come for - staund and deleever!" The wife pertends tae greet sairer than afore, and wrings her nieves, and faws on her knees, wi: "Och, sweet mem, mistress, spare ma ae bairn, and tak the weary sou!"
"The deil tak the sou for ma share," quo the fairy; "A comena here for swine's flesh. Dinna be contermacious, hizzie, but gie's the get instant!"
"Ochone, dear leddy mines," quo the greetin guidwife; "forbeir ma puir bairn, and tak masel!"
"The deil's in the daft jaud," quo the fairy, leukin lik the faur-end o a fiddle; "A'll wad she's clean dementit. Wha in aw the yirdly warld, wi hauf an ee in thair heid, wad iver meddle wi the likes o thee?"
A trou this set up the wife o Kittlerumpit's birse; for tho she haed twa blearit een, and a lang reid neb forby, she thocht hersel sae bonny as the best o thaim. Sae she bangs aff her knees, sets up her mutch-croun, and wi her twa haunds fauldit afore her, she maks a curtchey doun tae the grund, and, "In truith, fair mem," quo she " A micht hae haed the wit tae ken that the likes o me isna fit tae tie the warst shae-strings o the heich and mauchty princess, Whippitie Stourie!" Gin a fluff o gunpouther haed come oot the grund, it coudna hae gart the fairy lowp heicher nor she did; syne doun she cam again, dump on her shae-heels, and whirlin roond, she ran doun the brae, skreichin for rage, lik a houlet chased wi the witches.
The guidwife o Kittlerumpit leuch till she wis like tae rive; syne she taks up her bairn, and gaes intae her hoose, singin til't aw the gate:

"Aw gou and a gitty, ma bonny wee tyke,
Ye s' nou hae your fower-oories;
Sin we'v gien Nick a bane tae pike,
Wi his wheels and his Whippitie Stouries."