It was market day, and our (railway train) compartment was filled with women and baskets, when at the last moment an old farmer scrambled in and squeezed himself into the nearest corner. Some of the women were known to him, and he kept up a ceaseless flow of jokes, at which I smiled, although I did not always catch the allusion.
Seeing my smile, he included me in the friendly circle by pressing my toe with his foot when he made a specially good point and at last leant forward on his staff to remark in a confidential tone, “Ye’re awfu quate. Ah dinna ken yer face. Whaur d’ye come frae?” I silently shook my head to intimate that I was a stranger; but he persisted. “Come on, na! Ah maun ken whaur ye’re gaun.”
“I like to hear your Scotch tongue,” was my evasive response.
He sat upright, pursed his lips, and shook his head slowly and gravely: “Ye dinna mean tae say ‘at ye’re English, d’ye? Sic speakers thae English folk are! Man, Ah dinna ken a word thae Yorkshire men say. It’s a peety ye’re English.”
“What if I’m Scotch? “ I asked.
“Ye’ll no be yin of thae yins wantin’ a vote. Ah’m no’ in wi’ thae hizzies.” And he shook his head in grave disapproval.
One of the women piped up that she “didna see what weemen wantit wi’ a vote. They should bide at hame an’ advise their men. A wumman can gie a man awfu’ guid advice. She should advise him weel, an’ stope at hame an’ atten’ tae her wark.”
But the man was not attending to her feminine discourse. His eyes were fixed enquiringly upon me. Again he leant forward: “An whaur hae ye left your man? Is he deid, or is he leevin’, or hae ye nivver gotten yin?”
“Whoever he is,” I said, “he is not keen at following my advice.”
“Ye dinna say that! An’ a dacent wumman like you! Bit ye has nivver telt me yet whaur ye’re gaun. E’ye gettin’ oot at Stewarton?”
I was not getting out at Stewarton, although I knew the place well in days of old.
“Ye ken Stewarton, d’ye? Ah weel, ye’ll mebbe ken D’lap. That’s whaur ah come frae. Are ye no getting oot at D’lap? Ah’ll gie ye a guid cup o’ tea if ye’ll get out an’ gang tae ma place.”
No. I knew the bonnie woods of Dunlop only from a distance.
“That’s a peety. An awfu’ braw place D’lap. Ye dinna mean tae say ‘at ye’re gettin’ oot at Lugton? A dacent-luikin’ wumman like you’ll no be gettin’ oot at Lugton?”
He was relieved to hear that I was passing the obnoxious Lugton and going further and his mind reverted to the beauties and distinctions of Dunlop.
“It’s that bonnie a wee toon. An’ ah’ll tell ye whit. The best creamery in braid Scotland. An ah wish ye saw ma bit place. Ah hae been in’t sin’ afore ye wur born. Ah hae py’et a hunder and fower rents. What d’ye think o’ that? Ah could ‘a’ bocht it twa-three times owre, bit we hae tae pit up wi’ thae things.”
When the train slowed down and he got out at Dunlop Station, he put his hand in at the carriage window and shook mine slowly and solemnly.
“Ah’ll tell ye this. Ah’m kinna guid at kennin’ folk by their faces, an’ ah see ‘at ye’re a wyse-like dacent wumman, an ah wad ‘a’ likit rale weel if ye had gotten oot an’ had a cup o’ tea wi’ me. Ye’ll no think on’t yet? Weel! Sit owre at the ither side o’ the cairrage whaur ye’ll be oot of the draught an’ guid-day tae ye.”