Angus had a little stone hut in which he distilled uisga, illegal whisky. The customs and excise man knew it happened but never found a drop in the place.
Then the law changed; it was not only illegal to be in possession of uisga but also the copper distillation coil. Angus was caught with a coil and brought before the magistrate. He was given a fine of £10 but Angus laid £20 down to pay. “The fine is £10, Angus. What is the other £10 for?”, asked the magistrate. “A rape, your worship”, replied Angus. “And have you committed rape, Angus?” “No, my lord, but I do have the equipment. (Duncan Williamson)
At a State Dinner the Prince was surprised to see the Prime Minster clean an antique gold spoon on his napkin, fold his arms and slide the spoon into his jacket pocket. How shocking, thought the Prince. But he considered what he had from all these dinners; usually a bunch of flowers, a vote of thanks and the National Anthem. A spoon would be something to show his grandchildren. He cleaned his spoon but when he nervously crossed his arms the spoon clattered against his wine glass, the international signal for silence and a speech. Everyone looked at him with the spoon in his hand. The Prince had no speech. so he said, "Here, Royal magic. I place the spoon here in my pocket and PRESTO, it appears here in the Prime Minister's pocket." The Prince reached over and plucked the stolen spoon from the Minister's pocket and the crowd clapped. Nobody ever saw either spoon again. (Universal)
A young Northern couple lived in town for the winter but in the hills all summer. They would take a cow, some chickens and a pig and both grow food for winter. But one summer Lief worked on his own; they had a new baby boy.
Lief came home tired one evening and found Inga sat down; with the baby to her breast, stirring the stew with her foot, churning the milk and drinking a beer.
“Look at you doing nothing — you have gone lazy since the baby!” “Oh, no I haven't,” she cried, “I am cooking the dinner, churning the milk, and feeding the baby — you couldn’t do all this.” They argued and in the morning she went to the fields and he stayed at home.
He only had to hold the baby, stir the pot and churn the milk. But there was something missing. The beer! He put the baby on the floor and went down the hatch to the cellar where Inga kept the barrel. He pulled the cork from the keg and beer soaked him from head to foot. A crash from above and a waterfall of milk showered him — the baby had overturned the churn. Lief went up and tried to catch the slippery child but he kept escaping until trapped with a broom. Lief tried to wring him dry and he yelled.
He put him into the empty churn and went to the cow. Lief milked into a bucket and poured the milk into the churn. The soaked baby yelled. Lief wrung him out, put the churn on his back and went to the well to get water for the cow. When he bent his back the milk fell down the well. Now he should take the cow to pasture but he had a better idea. The cottage roof was covered in lush grass, so he put a plank from hill to roof and pushed the cow over it. Worried that the cow may slide off he tied a rope to the cows’ leg and put the other end down the chimney. Inside he tied the rope to his leg and sat down with the baby to stir dinner.
Inga came home, saw the cow on the roof and shouted, “What are you doing up there?” The cow slipped and fell but stopped short of the ground dangling by one leg. Inga cut the rope and the cow dropped. Inside she found Lief with his legs up the chimney and his head in the cooking pot.
“Easy day?” asked Inga. “Never again”, said Lief. (Norwegian);
The Apple -Tree Man
Many years ago there was a good farmer who was the eldest of three brothers. When their father died the farm had been divided unevenly; the youngest boy had been left nearly everything. But the eldest inherited only an old donkey, an ox, a few ancient apple trees and the old family cottage.
The older brother didn’t grumble about his share; he just cut grass from the roadside for the donkey and fattened the animal up. Then he rubbed the old ox with herbs and said ‘the words’ and the ox grew livelier and full of health. He put them both to graze under the old apple trees and what they left behind made the fruit come again. But he was still using land that belonged to his younger brother who demanded monthly rent.
One mid-winter’s day the youngest brother came into the orchard and jealously admired the animals and fruit trees. He said to his brother, “Listen. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve; the one day in the year when at midnight the animals can talk. I remember our dad once saying there was treasure buried hereabouts and the donkey is so old that he may have seen it being hidden. I want to talk with them but you know me; I’m certain to be in the pub. So you wake me in time to ask them animals about the treasure. You do that and I’ll knock sixpence off your rent. Will you do that?” The older brother said he would.
The next day the donkey and the ox were given a little extra to eat and a bough of holly was fixed up over their shed. The older brother mulled the last of his cider and gave it to the apple trees. The animals watched he poured the cider over the roots and wished the spirits of the trees good health. As the brew sunk into the soil a strong deep voice was heard calling from all around;
“I am the Apple-Tree Man, the spirit of the trees. I thank you for the libation. Look under my great diddicky root and you will find a chest of much gold. ‘Tis yours and belongs to no one else.”
The farmer was at first frightened and then curious. He found a mattock and he had soon unearthed an old chest, which he took and hid carefully. When he returned to the trees to collect the animals the Apple-Tree Man spoke again.
“Now ‘tis nearly midnight and time to waken your brother. Farewell until the seasons do turn again.”
The animals were settled down for the rest of the night. The older brother went to the new farmhouse to rouse his brother. It was now nearly midnight. When the younger brother was awakened he rushed into the shed to hear what the animals might say. He heard the donkey talking to the ox,
“Eahaw. You know that greedy brother who is listening so rudely to us now? He wants us to tell him where his great grandfather’s gold is buried.”
“Is that so?” says the ox, “well, he’ll never get it. ‘Cos someone has taken it already.”
The elder brother used the fortune wisely and had a happy life, but the younger brother cursed and dug the land for the rest of his days. Now here’s an odd thing. All that digging improved his land too.
Mind your Language
It was Christmas Eve in the old farm. Mother Mouse gathered her tiny mouslets around her and told them to listen and remember.
“In a moment we shall all go to the kitchen to find some food. In the kitchen lives the farm cat who loves to eat up mice like we for her Christmas dinner. Do not be afraid but stay quietly behind me to watch and learn.”
The family of mice crept into the dark kitchen. A moonbeam outlined the fearsome shape of the cat upon the table. There was a hiss and a spit as the animal dropped in front of Mother Mouse. The brave rodent filled her tiny lungs and let loose a tirade of growling and barking. Every strand of cat-hair stood on end as the creature jumped out of the window and ran as if all the devils in Hell were chasing her.
“Eat your fill, children. Now you see the advantage of having a second language.