29th October

Jack and the Recruiting Sergeant

One day a recruiting sergeant came through the village. Seeing Jack standing about idle, he fell into conversation with him and invited him to take the Queen’s shilling.

‘I’ll dae nae such thing,’ says Jack. ‘If she has a shilling, it’s hers, no mine.’

‘What I mean,’ says the sergeant, ‘is will you not join the army and serve the Queen? You’ll have all kinds of adventures in interesting parts of the world.’

‘Och, no,’ says Jack. ‘I could never afford the fares.’

‘You’ll not pay any fares,’ says the sergeant. ‘The Queen pays for all that.’

‘Does she?’ says Jack. ‘Weel, I still couldna go. How much wid a braw uniform like yours cost?’

‘Oh, you’d not pay for the uniform either,’ says the sergeant. ‘The Queen will pay for it.’

‘Whit a generous wifie she is!’ says Jack. ‘But I wid need a roof ower ma heid and my breakfast and dinner every day, and I get them here at hame frae ma mither.’

‘You would get three meals a day,’ says the sergeant, ‘and a roof to sleep under or a tent at least. The Queen pays for everything, and you could send your wage home to your mother to keep her content.’

‘Wage?’ says Jack. ‘Ye mean the Queen wid pay my fares, buy me a uniform and pit a roof ower ma heid and three meals a day, and forbye aw that she’d pay me a wage?’

‘Certainly,’ says the sergeant.

‘Whit for wid she pay me a wage?’ says Jack.

‘Why, for fighting for your country,’ says the sergeant.

‘Fechtin?’ says Jack. ‘I’m no a fechter.’

‘We’ll make you one,’ says the sergeant. ‘A big, strapping lad like

‘Ah,’ Jack says, ‘but if ye didna mak ony fechters there wid be nae fechtin, and if there wis nae fechtin the world wid be a better place. So will ye thank the Queen for me, but I’ll no tak a shilling frae her, and she’ll save aw the ither money she wid hae spent on me, and we’ll aw be happy.’

The sergeant marched off in a very foul mood.

‘Except yersel, that is,’ says Jack under his breath.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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