Now lassie,” said Aggie, “ When a’ gie ye the call hunker doon an push wi aw yir might.”
JOHN AND RUTH
John ushered his heavily pregnant wife over the threshold of the cottage.
“Hello Mother,” he called.
From the next room came a tall, thin woman dressed in a plaid shawl.
“John,” the lady exclaimed. “And who may I ask is this bonnie wee lass?”
Before anyone could answer, the lady, John’s mother had rushed over to a chair by the fireplace and started to plump up the cushions. “Sit yir sell doon.”
He never told me he was from Scotchland, thought Ruth.
John settled himself by the fire.
“This is my wife, Mother,” he said.
“Yir wife eh, weel, she’s richt bonnie. And Oh Johnny, ye wir eye a quick worker; she’s in the wean’s way if I speer richt.”
At that moment, Ruth who was still standing by the door gave out a cry of pain as another contraction racked through her.
“Weel, Johnie lad, jist ye sit yir sel doon and lee this tae me. This is wumin’s work noo.”
With those words, the tall, Scotch lady took Ruth by the hand and led her through to the next room.
“Come a wa’ ben and we’ll hae ye couried doon in a whisket.”
What is she talking about, wondered Ruth? But she was too weak to resist, and Scotch or not, the lady seemed to know what she was doing.
“Ye best drap yir drawers lassie,” said John’s Mother to Ruth as she helped her out of her corsets and on to a bed.
Once in the bed, and comfortable, Ruth introduced herself, “Hi, my name is Ruth, what’s your name.”
“Mrs Stewart,” remarked the lady, “Ye kin caw me Aggie gan ye weskit. Mind we hae nae time fir the like noo. Yon bairn will be popping oot any meenit. Yir best to be breathing an when I ca’ ye, push doon, but no afore a speer, mind. And dinae ye fash yirsel, I ken fine whit I’m aboot. I hae fear bairn o ma aine and ha abetted money a bonnie bairn in tae this warold.”
Ruth was not sure what the Scotch woman, what Aggie was saying. But she thought it best to go along with what she was told. It wasn’t like she had much choice.
I wish John was here to help she thought.
“Here,” said Aggie, and pushed a beaker of liquid into Ruth’s hand. “Hae a wee dram tae tak the smart doon a wee smidgeon.”
Ruth took a sip; a warm, burning liquid flowed down her thought. My goodness, she thought, that tastes rough. But she had to admit it did help with the pain a bit.
“Noo lassie,” said Aggie, “gin a’ gie ye the ca, hunker doon an push wi aw yir micht.”
Ruth pushed, and the pain was excruciating. I could do with more whiskey, she thought, even if it is cheap gut-rot.
“Keep gawn, yir near there. Guid lassie, tak a wee breather. I kin spy the heid. Ance mair should dae the trick. Jist haud on til I gie the shout.”
Ruth, delighted that her ordeal was almost over, panted heavily.
From the doorway came John’s voice. “Is everything alright in there?”
Not it is not thought Ruth. But Aggie called out, “It’s aw fine, John.”
“I just thought I’d come in and see that Ruth was alright,” said John and popped his head around the door.
“Hae ye thought on names John,” asked Aggie.
“Oh yes,” said John. “Charles, I think, Charles Edward Stewart.”
“I thought William,” said Ruth.
“William,” said Aggie coldly, “is not a name suitable for a Stewart.”
“How about George?” asked Ruth.
Aggie just sniffed. Well, it is my child, thought Ruth, I should get to call it what I like. But she realised that perhaps now was not the best time to have this argument. Particularly as she could feel the next contraction ripple through her flesh.
“Push noo,” cried Aggie.
“Ahhhh” cried Ruth and as she pushed, John suddenly fainted right away.
“Och John,” called Aggie, “We’ve nae time fir yir clamjamfery. Here’s Ruthie lass yist you push away, the big galoot will jist hae tae lee there the noo.”
Ruth was beyond caring about John, she pushed and with rather an unpleasant sound not entirely unlike a drain being unblocked, the infant entered into the world.
“Michty me,” declared Aggie, “A bonnie wee lass. Wi hair as white as snaw. Wake yirsel Johnie and see yon bairn.”
John staggered to his feet, and reached to take the bairn, ahem I mean baby, from Aggie.
“Gentle noo Johnnie, I’ll need tae sort a few things ower by yir Missus.”
With that Aggie started to fuss around, but Ruth started to have more contraction.
“Haud on a whisket,” said Aggie. “A dinnae trow yir feenished yet lassie. There maun be aine mair in the basket tae unpack.”
“What?” asked Ruth.
“Twins, lassie. I’m sure you’ll have heard o’ sic a thing.”
“Weel Aye, I mean, yes of course. But twins!”
“Twins it is lassie, ye best brace yirsel. Ane mair push.”
John held the baby, Ruth’s baby and watched with a horrified expression on his face as Ruth pushed hard and out came the other child.
“Aneither lass,” said Aggie. “As bonny as the first yin. Twa bonny lassies as braw as ony in the hale kingdom.”
The girls were pretty, very pretty, but also very quiet.
“Are they alright?” asked Ruth. “Can I see them now?”
“Oh aye, they’re fine. They dinae need tae mak a racket. Here John pass them ower tae Ruthie, she’ll need to gie them a feed.”
John passed the two children over to Ruth. They still made no noise. But suckled silently looking up at Ruth with golden eyes.
“So, lassie’s names,” said Aggie.
“I was thinking Lisa and Louise,” suggested Ruth. “They are nice names. Lisa and Louise Grady Stewart.”
John shook his head. “Charlotte and Clementina,” he remarked.
The two girls looked up at Ruth their bright eyes shining. Ruth suppressed a shudder.
End of part Nine