Page:Traditional Tales of the English and Scottish Peasantry - 1887.djvu/140

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


136 TRADITIONAL TALES.

as empty as a drunkard's drained cup; and that Sunday shall be as Saturday, and Saturday as Sunday ; that a silken gown, flounced and furbelowed, will rustle as common in a peasant's sheal as the plaiden kirtle of maid Margery ; and that Meg Milligan, in her linsey-woolsey, will be as good and as lordly as our madames with their perfumes and pearlins? No\v John, my man, should all these pleasant things come to pass, I will build a whisky-still as big as Wamphray kirk, with a distillation-pipe large enough to pour a flood of pure spirit over the land, in which we might float a revenue cutter.'

" Flooded as the brain of John Mackleg seemed to be with the spirit which his own industry had produced, he had intellect enough remaining to appear visibly delighted with this promised picture of enjoyment. But his natural want of courage withheld him from indulging in his comrade's strain of unguarded rapture. ' O Lord, send it soon and sudden, Mungo ! O man, soon and sudden ! But I conjure ye, by the pith and power of malt, to speak lowne; O man, speak lowne.' ' Then,' said his comrade, ' await the coming of the blessed time in silence. When it comes we shall have whisky-stills in every kirk, and he that drinks longest shall rule and reign among us. I will choose myself out a warm home in a fertile land. The justice of the peace shall be dumb, and the gauger silent, and his measuring rods regarded no more. Our young men shall drink, and our young maidens dance ; the minister of the parish shall fill our cups, and the pulpit and repentance-stool shall hold flagons and mutchkin stoups. I will go to bed with six pint stoups placed at my feet and six at my head ; and when I grow doited and dizzy, the sweetest lass in the country-side shall sit and hold my head.' ' And I,' said John Mackleg, in a low and cautious tone, ' shall be the first laird of my whole kin ; whisky-brose shall be my breakfast, and my supper shall be the untaken-down spirit, with strength enough to float a pistol- bullet. I shall be the first of the name of Mackleg who owned more land than they measured in the dowie kirkyard.'

" His companion eyed him with a look particularly merry and ironical. 'O thou ambitious knave,' said Mungo Macubin, ' dost thou long to be lord of all the land which \hou hast measured with thy drunken carcass? Why, man, thou hast meted out with that genealogical ell-wand half the land 'tween the sea-sand of Caerlaverock and the brown

�� �