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The Old Tory
by [?]

One man alone,

Amid the general consent of tongues.

For his point’s sake bore his point–

Then, unrepenting, died

The first time I ever saw the Old Tory, he was scurrying down the street of the Radical village where he lived, with a score of men after him. Clods and stones were flying, and the Old Tory had his hand up to protect his head. Yet ever as he fled, he turned him about to cry an epithet injurious to the good name of some great Radical leader. It was a time when the political atmosphere was prickly with electricity, and men’s passions easily flared up–specially the passions of those who had nothing whatever to do with the matter.

The Old Tory was the man to enjoy a time like that. On the day before the election he set a banner on his chimney which he called “the right yellow,” which flaunted bravely all day so long as David Armitt, the Old Tory, sat at his door busking salmon hooks, with a loaded blunderbuss at his elbow and grim determination in the cock of one shaggy grey eyebrow.

But at night, when all was quiet under the Dullarg stars, Jamie Wardhaugh and three brave spirits climbed to the rigging of the Old Tory’s house, tore down his yellow flag, thrust the staff down the chimney, and set a slate across the aperture.

Then they climbed down and proceeded to complete their ploy. Jamie Wardhaugh proposed that they should tie the yellow flag to the pig’s tail in derision of the Old Tory and his Toryism. It was indeed a happy thought, and would make them the talk of the village upon election day. They would set the decorated pig on the dyke to see the Tory candidate’s carriage roll past in the early morning.

They were indeed the talk of the village; but, alas! the thing itself did not quite fall out as they had anticipated. For, while they were bent in a cluster within the narrow, slippery quadrangle of the pig-sty, and just as Jamie Wardhaugh sprawled on his knees to catch the slumbering inmate by the hind-leg, they were suddenly hailed in a deep, quiet voice–the voice of the Old Tory.

“Bide ye whaur ye are, lads–ye will do bravely there. I hae Mons Meg on ye, fu’ to the bell wi’ slugs, and she is the boy to scatter. It was kind o’ ye to come and see to the repairing o’ my bit hoose an’ the comfort o’ my bit swine. Ay, kind it was–an’ I tak’ it weel. Ye see, lads, my wife Meg wull no let me sleep i’ the hoose at election times, for Meg is a reid-headed Radical besom–sae I e’en tak’ up my quarters i’ the t’ither end o’ the swine-ree, whaur the auld sow died oot o’.”

The men appeared ready to make a break for liberty, but the bell-mouth of Mons Meg deterred them.

“It’s a fine nicht for the time o’ year, Davit!” at last said Jamie Wardhaugh. “An’ a nice bit pig. Ye hae muckle credit o’t!”

“Ay,” said David Armitt, “‘deed, an’ ye are richt. It’s a sonsy bit swine.”

“We’ll hae to be sayin’ guid-nicht, Davit!” at last said Jamie Wardhaugh, rather limply.

“Na, na, lads. It’s but lanesome oot here–an’ the morn’s election day. We’ll e’en see it in thegither. I see that ye hae a swatch o’ the guid colour there. That’s braw! Noo, there’s aneuch o’t for us a’, Jamie; divide it intil five! Noo, pit ilka yin o’ ye a bit in his bonnet!”

One of the others again attempted to run, but he had not got beyond the dyke of the swine-ree when the cold rim of Mons Meg was laid to his ear.