It wis a howlin' nicht o rain ootside, bit i the garret it wis warm an ah wis ripin thro the auld kist for wint of somethin' better tae dee. A bittie o yalla paper frae the intimmers of a fooshty buik lichtit at ma feet. On the back ot wis scribbled,"Bridgefoot, Dinnet, Howe of Cromar" - naethin' else.Doon the stair ah gaed an pit the scrappie o paper in frunt o' auld auntie wha wis toastin' her taes at the fire.She wad hae been aboot ninety at the time an' hid dwellt in the past for a gey wheen o years bit there wis naethin' wrang wi 'er min.'
"Wid ee like tae hear aboot Caffie?" says she. "Weel ah'll tell ee fit ah min'.
Ah drew ma cheer tae the bleeze an prepared tae gie er ma ful attention.
"The first ah' heard o him wis fan ah' traivelled frae Auld Reekie tae Dinnet ae day in the month o'July. Ah wis gaun tae veesit ma granfaither's birthplace on Donside bit wantit tae see the auld places far' ma faimly hid bin brocht up. Ah wisna sure of the wey sae fan ah got aff the train at Dinnet station ah spiered an wis tellt tae tak the road ower the meer. Ah passed some biggins on the wey an' spak tae a chiel tae fin oot whit they wer ca'd. He lookit up, took the clay pipe frae 'is moo an' pintit.
"That's the Ordie," says he "Bit it's better kent as Timmer Lum Street.'
Ah keepit gaen for ah wisna sheer jist fu far ah hid tae ging past the Blelack wids, by McRobbs' kyarn an syne up the braes an roon the neuks 'til a sa Briggies. Ah knockit saftly on the half door an' statet ma reason for ma visit.
"Dod",said the auld man fa hid cam tae the door,"Ye've cam a lang wey;come awa ben an' hae a bite tae eat an' a suppie tea. Jean. come ben an' meet the veesitor'.
File ah sat an' ett bannocks an' crowdie an' washed 'em doon wi gey near black tea ah wis entertained tae a flow of news frae a' ower the howe.It wis queer tae hear the Scot's tongue aifter sae mony yeers awa ...an' then cam the maist biordinar pairt of ma veesit.
We heard fitsteps, saw a figer pass the winda the sneck of the ootside door scraiched an a body entered the kitchen. Ah sat dumfoonert at the sicht - he wis aboot 5ft 4ins in hicht,bit that muffled wi claes that ah couldna richtly see ony shape. On is heid wis three tile hats,each fittin, ane intae the tither an' tied aneth 'is chin wia bit of string.
Twa piercin, een glowred at me unner the shaggy broos, file 'is lang uncamed hair hid niver seen sicht o' a barber fer eers. Bits o' guana bags were wippet roon 'is waist an' faistened wi binder twine. The same wis roon 'is hans an, 'is shimmel trams an, frae 'is knees tae 'is queets there wis jist fit lookit like the stuffin o' a tattie boodie; bit 'e wis clean an' the claes as far as ye cood see aneth the extras wer' clean. The maist winnerful thing aboot him wis his hans! Lang an' taperin' like a body that disna muck the coos an swipe the greeps nor meat the nout frae yokin, tae lousin'.An' then the guid man stairtit tae spik tae 'im.
"Come awa in Davie;an' fit hae ye gotten the day?"
''0h,'' said Davie,"Yavel frae Davan. An' 'e tappit ane o' 'is hats,''breed an, cheese frae Ordie , an egg frae auld Mistress Leslie."
''Och aye Davie,ye've bin daen fine an' ah suppose ye'd like somethin, frae Briggies? Here's a pie an' a penny tae buy a pipe spunks an' tobacca frae the Ordie shoppie.''
Davie took aff the tapmaist hat an' pit the pie in't an' then withoot a wird he noddit an shuffled oot o' the door. Nae seener hid Davie walkit oot than the guidwife stairtit on the mysterious tale o' "Caff Davie's" life. Och! bit his life 'as bin a sair trauchle. At ae time he wis a scholar - aye 'is hans tell ye that.Weel there wis twa o a faimly, himsel an a yunger brither. It wis unfortunate bit they were baith attrackit tae the same lassie an Caffie there hid the misfortune tae lose oot. Aweel he wis sair disappinted an' seemd tae mak up 'is min, tae be different frae a'body in the future. He lost aa zeal fer life an this is fit 'e's become - a wannerin' figer, kent a' thro the Howe,a man wi a hert like gowd bit preferrin tae dree his ain weerd. Ye wis lookin gey queer like fan 'e wis tappin' 'is hat; weel believe it or no bit 'e keeps 'is vittals an siller in that an' wi the penny that ee got fae us, he'll gang tae Ordie an' ask for a pennyworth o pipes, spunks an, tobacca.
He wanners a' roon the countryside an' bides in a caff hoose at the Davan. Ee dis 'is washin' in the burn an' wid dae onybody a gweed turn if it wis not. I niver saw Caffie agen", said auntie, "bit ah aye keepit the bittie paper tae remin' me o him an' noo ye ken the story tee."
This story is built on fact and my mother actually knew him.We also have a snapshot of him at the door of the Smiddy at the Ordie.He lived around early 1900s.