'Twas up at the tree near the heid o' the glen
I keppit a tinkler chiel,
The cauld wind whistled his auld duds through,
He was waesomely doon at the heel;
But he made me free o' his company,
For he kent that I wished him weel.
He lookit me fairly 'tween the een,
He cam' o' an auncient clan;
He gae me gude-day in a freendly way,
While he spak me man to man,
Though my gibbles were a' for the human frame
An' his for kettle an' pan.
"Ye're oot i' the warst that the weather can dae,
Ye're free o' the road, like me,
I palmer aboot for kettles to cloot,
Wi' an orra-like weird to dree;
An' oor job's to men' whativer'll men',
Wi' luck to fix oor fee!
Brithers baith o' the auld high road-
Yet the Deil hae General Wade
For learnin's the shauchle instead o' the step
Wi' the weary wark o' his spade,
Till the Jew an' the Sassenach lord it noo
Owre the hills whaur the heroes gaed!"
"O, gang ye East," quo' I, "or Wast,
Or whither awa' gang ye?
Will ye come to a hoose whaur a gude man bides,
For a tastin' o' barley bree?
Ye can howk i' the kebbuck an' howk again
As lang as there's kebbuck to pree.
Or seek ye a saxpence to slocken your drooth?
Ye needna be langer in doot;
Ye can hae a bit hurl to help ye on,
An' I'll get ye a pan to cloot.
I'se warrant I'll freely lat ye in,
An' as freely lat ye oot."
A tuft o' the broom was knotted wi' tow,
An' a rag on't fluttered free,
While he shook his heid owre some ferlies there,
That I'm bathered if I could see,
Though I kent my soul was sib to his
In a queer free-masonry.
"The wife's a mile on the road afore's,
An' the bairnies farther still;
I canna keep tryst wi' doctor folk,
But I'll borrow the price o' a gill,
An' I'll pay ye back when we've finished oor tack
O' a' that's gude an' ill."
He spat on the siller an' pooched it syne,
An' quately winked an e'e;
"The road's a bond that we canna deny,
An' its linkit you an' me
In the kindly yoke o' the gaun-about folk,
Whauriver they chance to be!"
On the bowl o's cutty he scartit a spunk,
An' he leggit it doon the wind;
Gin his claes would hae fleggit a bubbly-jock,
Guid Lord! he'd an easy mind!
An' oor forebears maybe were near-hand freen's
For a' that I can find.