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The Lade

A reading of an Antrim story The Lade by James Fenton.
The Scots transcription uses the traditional literary conventions described in Wir Ain Leed, it is a transcription of what was said, not an attempt at phonetic accuracy and may differ from that of the author.

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By Dinsmore's brig, whaur the big watter turnt nixt the caraidh, the lade begun, cut wi spade and sweit tae cairy drivin watter tae the cornmill and lintmill doun at Killagan. The lade, the leevin hert o it, run throu the warld o thon wee chield's endless days and endless years, warld and years lang lost. By thon wee pepane's fields it gane, wee fields weel gairdit wi feat stane dykes rinnin back tae gaird as weel as the slaw, hirdit rowtin o his black plums, agin the scholar's glaumin haunds. And we thocht o the wey the wee knir maun hae wunnert, jumpin again aptly, whit come o the feat hey coles, swam aff in a babbin raw, the day, jumpin and squaverin, he cam aff Bab's howkin dug a snite wi the blackthorn. (Wee chield's cawin: he wis whit he wis.) The first streetch o the lade, on its shuir wey back tae the big watter; the first streetchin o aw we haurd o richt and wrang, on wir wey we niver yit thocht whaur.

Pouin and pechin thegither wi aw wir micht, we wund the sloosh up at the first rin-aff intae the big watter, sendin the watter thunnerin and frothin doun ower the heich roond stanes; cogged it back a wee; luit it faw again; and leukt for a troot whippin and spalderin aboot whan, lik thon, the watterfaw turnt tae puddles. Lik the wey ye'd whiles find ane in the wat meidae whaur the faulty brou, forenenst the fawin face o the bank-field, wad brust - o its ain accord maistly. And it wis nixt the bank-field, tae, whaur the lade run graivelly, we sunk the sheets o roustit zinc, held up wi binged sods and stanes, and taen tae the watter wirsels, and swam, or flailed and splasht and spaldert, onywey. (The wey thon ither thochts, shaidaes yet, raw, hauf-shapit, war jynin, roond thon time tae, tae flail and spalder aboot somewhaur in wir heids, wattin the brous.)

Frae the bank-field tae the watterin bay cut oot o the brou behint Bab's hoose (staundin yit, mair or less, wi the ither ane ower the road, twa crummlin heidstanes), the lade run quater, deeper a wee thing, whaur we sent wir ships aw roond the warld. Troots hung trimmlin in watter as clear as gless, snecks maistly, for the real troots war ower in the big watter whaur, aulder, we suin maistert the heich airts o ginnlin, dullin and baggin. Big troots swam whiles in the lade, tae, but belly-up and gaupin, cairit doun frae abuin the brig whan the lint-watter wis luit aff - near nicht, maistly, men likin the daurk mair nor the licht. But the eels war big, that cam ravenish, quate, quick, daurk shaidaes, whan the herrins war guttit and reinged by the stane staps. Thonder, tae, we catched the stricklies and farder doun, whaur the watter ran shallae ower a stany bottom, the wee soukin-eels, stuck tae the stanes, and - cannie, cannie, efter the stoond o thon first sicht! - the beardit grunts. And whaur the brainches boued ower the watter, twa fechtin men wad speel up and ower, or swing haund-ower-haund, tae drap fierce-ee'd amang trimmlin German sodgers; or twa droukit grilse wad sprauchle up the brou and jouk tae dry thair claes in the byler-hoose afore thay war capturt and taen in.

Whaur the lade gane unner the road tae Knockahollet, stuid the wee shap (a modren business, nou) and the proota store (awa nou): the wee shap, whaur we bocht sparklin speicial (it wis the war time) and sweeties (whan we haed ony Ds or Es) wi wir twa-three coppers and, afore ower lang, the first single Widbines; the proota store, whaur thay cairtit bings o blues and whites war waled on the chute and baggit in hunderwechts and whaur on wat days, a wheen wad gaither, wi us wunnerin (baith weys, whiles), tae regulate the weys and waes o mankynd, frae Killagan tae Spinyorra and back. Behint the store, the heidrace run tae the cornmill, baith lang awa, and anither quate streetch brocht the lade unner the Belnaloob road and doun tae the big dam at the lintmill, the ane lang buiried, the ither quate this mony years.

The lade's journey throu oor warld (and, we niver jaloused, throu time as weel) wis geyly ower. By the last sloosh, unner the mill-roddin, it raced and tummelt doun the back-faw, splashin and chitterin and jibblin unner the hingin brainches, tae rin thegither wi the lintmill's tailrace back intae the watter it cam frae, tae rin on and on throu wir shortenin days, wir quate myndin.

By Dinsmore's brig, whaur the big watter bends, palin-stabs and barbed wire merk oot whaur the lade ance run.