They a’ Love Her

A Poem By James Hay: Flotta, Orkney.   Second Edition All New Poems (1926/ 1928)

The bairnies they a’ love her,
Aye the bairnies they a’ love her,
An’ their big brithers at hame they love her tae;
She’s the winsomest o’ lasses,
And she teaches a’ the classes
In the Flotta Junior Schoolroom day by day.

In the Sunday School she teaches
And the bairnies wee hearts reaches
Wi’ the magic o’ her smile and gentle voice,
As she tells to them the story
Of that Mighty One in Glory,
Till each little one’s made happy and rejoice.

At the picnic you will find her
And there never was a kinder
To the young folks over which she has the charge;
In the Concert Hall she’s leader,
One and all they seem to need her,
Prime favourite she is with small and large.

For the bairnies a’ love Milly,
Aye the bairnies a’ love Milly,
An’ their big brithers at hame they love her tae;
She’s the winsomest o’ lasses,
And she teaches a’ the classes
In the Flotta Junior Schoolroom day by day.

James Hay (Mr. & Mrs. Hay, Photograph)

‘Ada’s Lovers’ a Broughty Ferry Tale

By William Simpson Hay, 1901.

When Ada Whyte from Perth came down
To stay awhile with Uncle Brown,
A Broughty grocer, long retired,
Who much his handsome niece admired,
She took the young men’s hearts by storm­
So lovely was her face and form­
To none, however, she paid much heed
But Sandy Black and Peter Reid,
Who both for Ada would have died?
Each swearing she would be his bride.
Black was a teacher ­ led a choir ­
And aped the dandy in attire;

In socks his height was five feet four ­
In mind he stood eight inches more.
His rival, Reid, was six feet one,
And turned the beam at fifteen stone.
A soldier Pete might well have been,
And fought for country and for Queen;
But (why should such mistakes be made?)
Reid chose to learn the tailor trade ­
Well, stitching seams is safer, sure,
Than “hemming in” the ruthless Boer

It chanced on one choir practice night,
When homewards in the broad moonlight
Walked Ada and the raptured Black,

That tailor Pete came on their track;
And when the pair had gone inside
Reid, with vexation, almost died,
For with the utmost care he’d dressed
And donned his Sunday coat and vest,
Resolved fair Ada to waylay
And asked her straight to “name the day.”
He saw they had gone up the stair,
For on the blind their shadows were,
And swearing he’d eavesdropper be
For once ­ Pete scrambled up a tree
Whose branches scraped the wall, until
One almost touched the window sill.

He pressed his ear against a pane,
But had not heard a sentence when
A dog came barking right below ­
Whose “mangy cur” Pete did not know ­
But cursed beneath his breath the brute
As sure to bring some person out,
And made for down with utmost speed
To find alas! That he was “treed,”
For ere the tailor touched the ground
The dog towards him gave a bound,
And drove him up, just as the door
Flew wide ­ and faces half a score
Appeared ­ Fair Ada, Sandy Black,
Old Brown, and servants at his back!
“Why, what’s ado out here?” cried Brown
“Hey, fellow in that tree, come down;
I want to know your business there,
And who the dickens, sir, you are?”
“I’m Peter Reid, and wandering west,
I got up here to have a rest;
Call off your dog and down I’ll come,
For, faith , ‘tis time that I was home.”
“My dog !” said Brown, “why, I’ve got none!
As sure’s I live the dog’s your own;
You’re drunk, or off your balance clean ­
We’ll have to send you to Westgreen.”
Poor Reid, abashed beyond degree,
Without a word slid down the tree,
And skulked away while laughter loud,
Peal after peal, bust from the crowd.
With shame and rage nigh like to choke,
To think he’d be the “gaming stock”
Of all the town for weeks to come,
The tailor bent his steps for home;
He swore his vengeance yet would fall
On Sandy, whom he blamed for all,
And ere he went to bed that night
Reid thought upon a project bright
By which his purpose he might gain,
And on his foe revenge obtain,
Next night a concert would take place,
The Transvaal war fund to increase,
In which Black’s choir would lead the way,
And all their vocal skill display;
‘Twas Black’s rare chance to show his gift
Of training – and he hoped ‘t would lift
To soaring altitude his name,
And mightily increase his fame,
The house was packed when Reid came in,
The concert ready to begin;
Right in front, in view of all,
He placed himself, while through the hall
A titter ran, for far had spread
The tale of Peter’s escapade.
The choir upon their feet now got ­
Black seized his baton, cleared his throat ­
And led them off with smile serene
(The song was “Soldiers of the Queen”)
But scarcely had a start been made
When from his pocket tailor Reid
An extra large sized lemon took,
And vig’rously began to suck;
While, neith his foot a match he cracked,
The choir’s attention, to attract.
Peter saw the singers at him glance,
And smiled for now had come his chance,
Each mouth straightway with water filled.
“Don’t mind the fool, begin again!”
They re­commenced, but all in vain;
Although their eyes averted were
They knew Reid’s lemon still was there –
They could not sing and swallow too,
But tried somehow to flounder through
When Black convulsively cried “stay,”
And sprang at Reid like beast of prey;
They grappled ­ rolled upon the floor –
Got up and sparred – went down once more,
‘Till, bleeding both from many a “scart,”
The pair at length were dragged apart,
The concert came to sudden stop,
And in disorder great broke up.
Reid did not mind his damaged clothes,
Took cheerfully his swollen nose,
And smiled throughout his homeward walk
Te think he’d now got square with Black.
But scarcely was he in before
A sounding rap cam to the door
A note was left addressed to Pete,
To ask if Black he dared to meet
With pistols in a neighb’ring “den”
At break of rnorn at paces ten,
And finally adjust their feud
As ‘men of honour’ always should!
Poor Reid by turns grew cold and hot,
For he had never fired a shot
In all his seven and twenty years,
While Black was in the Volunteers,
And known to be a marksman skilled –
Reid felt for certain he’d be killed,
And swore awhile, then muttered low –
‘I’ll see him hanged before I go;
Let Black and all his friends be there,
And brand me “Coward” – I don’t care –
A few more years I want to see;
I’m off next morning to Dundee.
Reid sneaked on board the early train,
But barely had got seated when

The carriage door was darkened by
A man on whom the tailor’s eye
Turned with dismay – ‘t was Black – none else,
Reid fought against a wild impulse
To break his hated rival’s head,
But Black broke silence first and said
“What sort of a man are you, I pray?
You wretched cur, you’ve run away !”
“I’m brave as you” was Reid’s reply,
“For, you have run as well as I;
You’ve got your travelling bag I see,
And meant to hook ‘t to Dundee.”
Ere Black again could find his tongue
A gent and lady came along
The platform – both men looked aghast,
As, arm in arm, the couple passed ­
‘T was Ada and a strange young man;
Through Black and Reid a shiver ran,
The lady saw the rivals stare,
And stepped across with jaunty air;
“Dear friends,” said she in dulcet tones,
“This is my sweetheart Mister. Jones,
To part us many a plot’s been laid,
Now we’re eloping to get wed,
You’ll pledge me both ­ I know you will —
To say no word of this until
We’ve reached the other side of Tay,
And got well started on our way.”
Black’s face grew red ­ Reid’s pale as death,
Each muttered something ‘neath his breath,
But both agreed that they’d “keep mum,”
And left the train and held for home.
Wiser and sadder now were each,
As, wand’ring on the Broughty beach,
They vowed they had been neatly “sold,”
And hoped the world would ne’er be told.