'Twas the turn o' the nicht when a' was quate
An' niver a licht to see,
That Death cam' stappin' the clachan through
As the kirk knock chappit three.
An' even forrit he keepit the road,
Nor lookin' to either side,
But heidin' straucht for the eastmost hoose
Whaur an auld wife used to bide.
Wi' ae lang stride he passed her door,
Nor sign he niver gae nane,
Save pu'in' a sprig o' the rowan tree
To flick on her window pane.
"An' is this to be a' my warnin', Death?
I'm fourscore year an' four,
Yet niver a drogue has crossed my lips
Nor a doctor crossed my door."
"I dinna seek to be forcy, wife,
But I hinna a meenute to tyne,
An' ye see ye're due for a transfer noo
To the Session books frae mine."
"At ilka cryin' I'm handy wife,
Wi' herbs I hae trokit awa',
An' weel ye may dae's a gude turnie, lad,
That's dune ye ane or twa!"
"At the hin'er en' Fair Hornie then!
Fair Hornie lat it be!
An' Govy-dick! ye can tak your pick
O' the ways fowk chance to dee!"
He rattled them owre till weel on fowre
An' the cock gae signs o' life,
On ilka ill he spak' his fill-
But nane o' them pleased the wife.
"Wi' siccan a ch'ice ye're unco nice!
Hoots! came awa woman!" says Death,
"Gin ye canna wale ane o' the fancy kin's,
What think ye o' 'Want o' breath?'"
Noo, Faith! the auld jade was a humoursome taed,
As an auld wife weel can be,
An' she leugh sae sair at his fleechin' air
It fairly gar't her dee!
Wi' a gey teuch sinon in your neck
Ye'll lang keep clear o' skaith,
But the craftiest carle in a' the warl',
An' the kin'liest whiles, is Death.