Speaking In Tongues
Scribbling In Voices



Translated into Scots by Brian A. Holton 
Reprinted with permissioin.

Paip Zhang gies mass an mait agin the pest
Marischal Hong gangs agley wi bogles
I the mixter-maxter o the Five Dynasties’ sturt an stour
Ae day the sindert clouds ance mair lat keek the lift;
Nou hunder year auld gress lies daggit wi new rain
An mensefu leir retours ti the valleys ance again.
Gaucie silk is skailt owre ornar loans an wynds,
Pipe an thairm in ilka haa an chaumer ring;
The haill lythe warld nou taks the play in peace,
An palace orchids wi nae devaul dover i the sun.
Aweill, this echt-line stave wis screivit bi Shao Yaofu, whase halie-name wis Maister Puritas. A weill-kent scholar at the court o King Shenzong o the umqhile hous o Song, he wis vext at the Five Dynasties, yon hinner-en o the Tang times whan there wis naethin but weir an brulyie: in thae days whit wis Jin’s i the mornin wad be Liang’s bi nicht, an richtlie wis it said:
Zhu, Li, Shi, Liu, Guo;
Liang, Tang, Jin, Han, Zhou:
Fifteen kings thegither
Skailt fiftie year o stushie!
Syne whan the birlin o Heiven’s courses wis by, King Taizu wis born i the Destrier Barracks. Whan yon sanct cam intil the warld a reid scaum spreid owre the lift an ferlie oams hung aa nicht ondwynan, for he wis the michtie Fireflaucht Immortal cam doun frae the warld abune. Spunkie an bauld, guid-willie an wyce, there wisna the like o yon Son o Heiven amang aa the langsyne princes an kings afore him. He wis a human stauf for dingin doun the fower hunder wardenries, an his forename wis Zhao! Yon Son o Heiven soupit the warld clean an muckit out the Middlin Plains, his line wis cryit michtie Song, he biggit his capital at Meiklehoo, an heidmaist o aa the kings an princes he steidit the kinrik for fower hunder year. Yon’s hou Maister Puritas spak o him wi sic respeck, sayin "Ae day the sindert clouds lat keek the lift", acause for ornar fairmin chiels it wis juist like gettin a glisk o the sun again.
In thae days there wis a hermit hecht Chen Tuan bydin on the Wastlin Tap o Mount Glore: he wis a kennin an gracie sowl at bi glamourie cud guide the wind an wather. Ae day whan he wis striddlin his cuddie doun the brae ti the Gloresheddae Road he heard an outlan bodie sayin "Richt nou in the Eastren Capital Chai Shizong hes reteirit an Gaird-Marischal Zhao hes taen the throne".
Whan he heard this, Maister Chen fand sic blytheness in his hairt at he clappit his haun ti his brou an laucht out loud ti he tummelt aff o his cuddie. The bodie speirit him whit for an the Maister tellt him "The warld’ll be weill fettelt nou! It’s juist the mellin o Heiven’s Will abune, Yirth’s Array ablow, an the Greement o Men in atween!"
Frae the Abdication o the year gengshen whan King Taizu first tuik the throne, the warld kept peacefu for seiventeen year. Efterhaun succeedit the Royal Brither Taizong, wha reignit twenty an twa year or Zhenzong cam on, an efter him cam Renzong.
Nou this King Renzong wis the michtie Barefuit Immortal o the warld abune. Whan he wis born here ablow he roared an he grat bi nicht an bi day wi nae rest ataa, ti the Court pit out a placket cryin on fowk ti come an gie the Royal Bairn remeid. This gart the Heivenlie Court tak peitie, sae they sent doun the speirit o the Gloamin Staur i the mak o an auld carl. He steppit forrit, yerkit the placket doun, an said he cud stop the Royal Bairn frae greitin. The sarjants wi the placket led him inti the haa ti hae a hearin i the presence o King Zhenzong. The Son o Heiven decernit at he suid gang intil the benmaist court ti inspeck the Royal Bairn, sae the auld carl gaed richt in, fauldit the Royal Bairn in his airms, souchit a wheen words in his lug - an the Royal Bairn grat nae mair.
Whit wir the words he souchit?
They wir "For policy ye’se hae the Policy Staur, and for weir ye’se hae the Weir Staur."
Richtsae it wis tae, for the Jade King abune hed sent doun the speirits o thae twa stern frae the Crammasie Haa, aa ti succour an forder an gie heizin ti this Son o Heiven. The Policy Staur wis Chief Justiciar o the Southron Office in Cantelfeus, Lord Collegiar o the Registry Bao Zheng, an the Weir Staur wis him at herried the kinrik o Wester Somir, Earl Marischal Di Qing. Thir twa wyce meinisters cam forth ti ser a king at held his throne forty an twa year an chynged his entitule nine times.
Frae the time o his ascendin the throne i the first year o the entitule Heivenlie Sages on ti the nint year o the same wis a time o peace i the warld whan hairsts wir guid an fowk blythe at their darg, whan whit wis tint wis left lyin on the road an yetts wir never steikit at nicht - thir nine years is hecht The First Stent. Frae the first year o the entitule Bricht Wey ti the third year o Kinglie Blessins wis nine growthie years tae, an is hecht The Saicont Stent. Frae the fourth year o Kinglie Blessins ti the saicont year o Happie Blessins there wis a by the ornar rowth o corn i the parks, an thir nine years is hecht The Third Stent. Thrie nines, twenty-seiven year thegither, maks The Thrie-Stentit Age. For smaa fowk thae years wis blythe an cheerie.
Whae thocht owremuckle pleisur wad bring on sorra? I the spring o the third year o Happie Blessins the pest cam spreidin owre the kinrik - frae South the Watter ti the twa capitals, there wisna the ae place whaur fowk wisna smittlt wi this ill: frae ilka stewartry an sheriffdom cam notandums in, thick as flauchts o snaa.
Aweill, baith in an ayont the Eastren Capital the feck o the lieges wir deein. Chief Justiciar Councillour Bao wi his ain haun gat Letters o General Merciment, an he spent his ain stipend on feesick ti bring the commontie remeid - but hou cud he cure them aa? The pest gaed spreidin on.
The Officiars o Policy an o Weir tuik avisement an forgaithert i the Clepsydra Haa ti wait on the Early Hearin whan they’d come afore the Son o Heiven. On this day, the third o the third month o the third year o Happie Blessins, at thrie meinits efter the fift hour the Son o Heiven muntit the throne i the Purpour Palace, an whan the officiars hed gien in the mornin bethankfu, the Palace Betheral raired out "Whasae hes cause, step forrit nou an propone! Whasae hes nane, rowe up the hingins an reteir!"
Sae it wis at furth o the thrang steppit the Councillour-in Chief Zhao Zhe an the Saicont Secretar Wen Yanbo, wha proponit thus:
"Afore our een the pest owrerins the capital, an monie’s the lieges at’s fordune thereby. It’s our hummil askin at the King’s Hieness furthshaw his luvin mercie bi the lowsin o felons, the lichtenin o unlaws an the dilutin o the cess, wi mass an mait ti be gien agin this ill dispensation, an remeid sae brocht ti the commontie."
The Son o Heiven lissent an straucht decretit at the Hanlin Collegiars sud draucht a Dictamen:
item fylit felons o the kinrik ti be assoilyeit, an aa fowk to be exonert o ilka levy an cess;
item ordainit at i the temples o the Forbidden City, Halie Exercises ti be institute ti forfend unchance.
Yet yont aa thocht, that year the pest aye ran on. Whan King Renzong gat ti ken, his regal brou wis troubled, an ance mair he tuik avisement o his officiars. Frae the raw steppit forrit a hie meinister ti gie his proponance in, an the Son o Heiven spied Commissioner o State Fan Zhongyan. He lowtit doun, than he up an spak:
"Afore our een an ill dispensation rins its course, an the leiges are that trampit i the glaur wi’t at, be it nicht or be it day, they canna weill fend for theirsels. Yir Meinister hes this bit notion: gin this unchance is ti be forfendit, the Paip Hereditar micht be summonsed ti the Court incontinent, ti gie the Thrie Hunder an Saxtie Michtie Synoptic Masses - as a petitour ti the Lord Abune he’ll can aiblins sain the fowk o the pest at’s amang them."
King Renzong, Son o Heiven, ratifeed this proponance, an straucht gied word to the Hanlin Collegiars at a Dictamen be drauchtit. Wi his ain haun he subscryvit it, an giftit forby a spirlie o the Royal Incense. He appointit Hong Xin, the Marischal o the Inby an Outby Haas o Supervision, ti be Royal Messager, ti mak ti Dragon-Tiger Brae in Faithlands o Wast the Watter an bid His Halieness Paip Hereditar Zhang come ti the Court incontinent an gie mass an mait agin the pest. Than he gaed ti the Gowden Haa ti kennle the Royal Incense, an wi his ain haun he gied the reid-sealed Dictamen ti Marischal Hong.
Takin the Royal Orders, Marischal Hong gied his fareweills ti the Son o Heiven, an wi the Dictamen on his back an the Royal Incense in his haun he backit his post-horse, led his menyie o sindrie score out o the Eastren Capital, an gaed smairtlie ti Worthieburn County o Faithlands. They wan or lang gaed by ti Faithlands Toun whaur officiars o hie an laich degree cam out ayont the burgh dykes ti walcome them in. Men wir affhaun sent ti lat ken the Abbeymaister an the priests o Sublimitie Abbey on Dragon-Tiger Brae, ti gar them busk theirsels ti get the Dictamen.
Neist day, the officiars aa convoyed the Marischal ti the fuit o Dragon-Tiger Brae, an doun there cam a wheen o priests o Sublimitie Abbey ti see in the reid-sealed Dictamen, wi their bells an drums bangin, their censers sweetlie reikin, their braw canopies aa silk-spraingelt, an their rare musicianers in a raw. They lichtit doun ilkane afore Sublimitie Abbey itsel, an aabodie frae the sanctlie Abbeymaister doun ti the servitors an the novice-callants, wi walcomin afore an convoyin ahint, wan ti the Thriefauld Sublimitie Haa, whaur they bade tak the Dictamen ti the Worshippers’ Tenement.
"Whaur about’s the Paip the nou?" Marischal Hong speirs the Abbeymaister, an the Abbeymaister hummlie tells him: "An it please ye ti ken, Marischal, our Fundator hes for his byname Paip Vacuitranquillitas. Hie-mindit an clean bi naitur, he’s weariet o society an he’s awa ti his sprotten-theikit sheilin on the heid o Dragon-Tiger Brae ti care for his saul-heill an the nourishin o his divinitie - yon’s hou he disna bide here in our Abbey". "The Son o Heiven hes e’enou furthset a Dictamen: whit wey micht A get ti see him?" quo the Marischal, an the Abbeymaister reponit, "Sae please ye, pit the Dictamen by intil the Haa for the meinit. Us puir priests’ll no daur read it. Nou if it’s yir will, Marischal, come awa an tak tea in ma chaumers, an we’ll can think on it mair."