A Bit o' Houghmagandie!

A Bit o' Houghmagandie!

Munro, Mary

Molly wis jist a thochtie ower acht year auld - a muckle thocht o' quinie - for she hid niver hid tae be pit in the 'stirkie's sta', bein an only bairn. She bade on a ferm on a steeny hill, an' in the simmer, hid ilka day tae rin the braes. She niver weariet for, bein a bairn o' the land, she wis in her element oot an' aboot roon the ferm an' the parks. She made hoosies amun the laricks ahin the henhooses, hunted for the odd egg laid amun the dry-steen dykes, climmed the rickety laidder up ane o' the rucks an' slid doon its sides, scrattin her bare legs on the coorse stibble. Mind ye, faither wid scone her dock for thon ploy, for it didna dee the ruck ony gweed! She likit tae clim the trees at the back o' the hoose, tae sit heich up amun the leaves, far the win could toosle her hair an' she could see for miles o'er the parks tae the far-aff toon. This wis her place an' time, an' she wis content.

Files, the rickle o' a shed at the end o' the cornyaird wis a favourite hidey-hole for Molly. In there, there wis secks o' hens' corn wi their roon metal ladle, ile drums, graips an' spads an' bits o' trock faither threw in oot o' the road. There wis aye ane or twa kittlens, cuddlin doon on the pile o' teem secks in the corner, an' Molly wid bosy them an' stroke their warm saft fur. There wis a fine foosty smell in yon shed - it aye felt secret an' safe in there!

This warm day, she tried tae lift the sneck on the shed door bit, try as she micht, it widna budge. Molly tchauved an' pulled at the sneck - she jist couldna fathom oot foo it wis stuck. Little did she ken it hid been wippet ticht shut wi binder twine on the inside! She heard reeshlin an' whisperin through the widden door. A voice whispered, "Is that you, Molly?" Molly kent thon voice - it wis Jock, the loon fa cam at the weekends tae help Faither wi odd jobs roon the ferm. "Awa ye go, Molly!" he hissed - "Dinna clype tae the Auld Man, an' I'll gie ye a shullin aifterhin!" Molly kent fine the Auld Man wis her faither an' fine she kent that faither wid land him a clour roon the lug or a gweed kick up his doup if she tellt on him. Bit there wis anither body in there - she could hear the safter whispers o' a quine - it wis fat Rosie, the kitchie deem. Gweed faith, fit were they hidin in the shed for on sic a fine day? Jock wis a bit o' a sharger, wi a plooky face an' a blin lump on his neck the noo. He hid a gley ee an' aye lookit abeen yer heid wi ae ee fan the ither ee lookit forrit-weys. He wis gweed eneuch hertit tae Molly fan he cam in aboot, sae she jist whispered back through the door, "Aricht, Jock, I'll nae let on tae faither, bit ye'll hae tae gie me the shullin like ye said!"

Leavin the door, she crept roon the back o' the shed. The nettles grew heich there an' she stung her legs sair on them. There wis a hole in the boords far there hid been a knot in the wid, sae, haudin her breath, Molly pit an ee tae the hole. In the murky half-licht o' the dark shed, she wis a file or she could see muckle ava, bit then she saw a fite, plooky, bare dock shinin in the dark. Funny-like soons cam muffled fae a rummle o' claes aneth this horrible sicht. Molly wis a quine o' the ferm an' hid seen the bull wi the coos an', jist the ither day, faither hid thrown a bucket o' waater o'er twa collie dogs stuck thegither doon the park road. She took it a' in her stride for it wis naitur, aifter a. Files, she did feel a bit affronted-like for the beasts as it wisna awfu dignified-like - it wisna a spectator-sport, fin a' wis said an' deen! It wis then she jaloused fit Jock an' Rosie were up till. Fit a pair o' feels! Rosie wis a saft, creeshy slorach o' a quine, nae ower bricht, an Mam ca'ed her 'hallyrackit'. She wis aye tellin Rosie tae 'pull her socks up' an' get the strangles o' her hair aneth her bonnet as she steered the pots. Bit beggars canna be choosers maybe, an fan she thocht back, Molly hid seen Jock makin sheep's een at Rosie, fan he slurped at his denner in the hoose.

"Gad sakes!" Molly thocht. Funcy the twa o' them rummlin aboot in thon fool, stewy shed fan they could be oot in the bonny fresh air this fine day. Molly didna ken onythin aboot 'hormones' loupin in yer bleed; she kent aboot beasts, bit naebody hid tellt her aboot fowk!

Wi her moo set in a curl o' scunner, she took her ee fae the hole in the shed. There wis a thoosan ither mair excitin things tae dee than watch thon pair at their 'houghmagandie'. She'd raither be in amun the berries in the gairden, 'walkin the plank' o'er the midden or at the burnie in the bottom park, guddlin an' puddlin for bandies, or watchin the butterflees an' flechs in the sun. Fit fine tae be her age, fan life wis jist a calm sough wi nae fever in her bleed tae trauchle her.

"I dinna wint tae be big," she thocht, as she waundert awa. Nae that it worriet her, for days are near everlastin fan ye're only aucht year auld. Jock an' Rosie were jist a couple o' gypes aifter a', an', at least, she wis a shullin better aff. Wi a toss o' her curly heid, she treetled aff throw the sun-het hay-park, her heid clean an' clear wi jist a bairn's thochts.