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Elphinstone Kist   Folk-History, Family and Home

A Daith in the Faimly     by: Davidson, Margaret

Fin ma granda deed in the 1930s, aabody gaithered in the parlour an viewed the corp in its kist. Ma granny hid stoppit the clock as a merk o respeck, because his life wis deen, an she happit aa the mirrors. Lang syne in auld Scotland fin warlocks war gaun aboot it micht hae bin tae prevent ony evil spirits frae comin intae the room throw the glaiss.I dinna ken. Bit she happit the mirrors, onywye.

Aabody roon aboot me wis spikkin, wis shakkin hauns, huggin een anither, strauchtenin their ties, or smoothin doon their skirts. Aa aroon me, fowk wear movin. Bit thon figure wis jist lyin there, he wisnae movin. His lips war blue, his face wis fite, drained o bleed. Jist lyin still he wis, straicht as a boord, stiff an still, an aabody movin roon him. An ma een gaed till him. They cudna keep aff him. Twa auld pennies war clappt ower his een. Ma ma cam ower, and telt me tae kiss him on the chikk. I didna wint till, bit mam said, 'Jist dee't fur yer granny's sake'.

It's something I've niver forgotten. I wis terrifeed. Absolutely terrifeed. I'd niver seen a deid body afore. I wis only sivven year auld. The body lay in the parlour fur 3 days, because aa the neebors cam tae pye their respecks. Then the funeral procession left the hoose. They cairriet the coffin in relays, aa the wye tae the kirkyaird ,which wis a mile awa. Nae weemin accompanied the coffin. Weemin bedd in the hoose. Lowerin the kist inno the grave wis man's wirk.

It wis a bonnie Spring day. I can see it in ma mind's ee yet, the hale village turnin oot, the hale village, a black phalanx o fowk. It wis wechty, the kist, on their showders. And they shifted ower, whyles, them that war cairryin the load, drapped back, an fresh mourners steppit forrit tae takk ower, an heist the timmer kist on anither set o showders.

As the passed, they myndit me on a flock o geese, fleein in formation ben the sky. Foo, fin the leaders grow weariet, they drap back an ithers cam forrit tae thole the brunt o the win awhile. As I said, I wis only sivven year auld. It's something I've niver forgotten.



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