Leith Walk a few year ago. Noo, afore ye start cryin me a morbid auld craw let me stop ye richt there. Things were different back in the 1750s. Ye've got tae mynd we had nae pictures, nae telly, nae 'Edinburgh Festival' in thon days. Nae fitba matches tae shout at, nae Big Brother evictions tae tak sides oan. We had the penny gaffs aye, if ye wantit a wee laugh, an' there were aye the balladeers up the Mercat Cross if ye wantit tae hear the news, but if ye enjoyed a big crowd an' lots o' bawlin an' shoutin, then the hingins were yer thing.
Certain things tho nivver chynge, an' certain crimes were aye seen as beyond the pale. Murder obviously wis nivver luikt kindly oan, an' cannibalism neither, but we'll get tae that in time. First ah want tae tell ye aboot how ye can mak somethin sae bad as murder even worse by tryin tae spin a yarn tae cast a better licht oan yersel.
It didnae tak ower lang tae apprehend wee Norrie, an' he wis broucht back tae Embra tae staun trial fer his lady's murder. Here he made a grave error. He tried tae mak oot that the auld wife wis in the habit o' invitin him intae her bed, an' that wis why he had left his shoes at her door. Says he discovered his lady deid in her bed that nicht an' jumped oot the windae tae chase her attacker. Noo murder's a bad enough crime, but castin aspersions oan an auld wumman's guid name in the process wis seen as doublin the sin, an' tae mak the punishment fit the crime Norrie wis sentenced tae hing, but no afore his right haun had been cut aff, an' the murder-knife driven through it, baith tae be hung abune his heid oan the gallows.
Ah wis a wee bit pit oot, ah will admit, when this couple moved intae oor close up the High Street. The Broons were a rough couple nae mistake, him a butcher an' the baith o' them heavy drinkers. He cam fae Cramond an' she fae Ireland, need ah say mair? Ah nivver liked tae run intae him in the common passage, mair sae if it wis a dark nicht, ah couldnae help but think it might be him fae the story ah'd heard, an' her? Well, ye couldnae help but run intae her, she wis aw ower the shop! Fae the luik o' her she could gie as hard as she got, an' ye could hear it o' a nicht. The rammie's the twa o' them wid hae if they'd had a drink in them were legendary up oor stair. Bangin an' shoutin an' sweerin an' crashin. It wis comical tae hear them an' used tae draw a wee crowd oantae the stair tae listen at their door.
'Murder! help! fire! the rogue is murdering me! help, for Christ's sake! '
Weel that made us sit up! Ah rapped oan the door. "Mrs Broon! Are ye awricht in there?"
Nothin, sae ah hammert hard. "Mr Broon! Let us in! Come oan! Mr Broon!"
By the time the polis got there an' we'd forced the door, Mrs Broon wis lyin hauf-deid oan the flair wi a big gouge oot o' her shooder, an' he wis lyin sleepin in his bed, wi gravy aw ower his lips. When we grabbed him an' he cam tae, he tried tae act oblivious, sayin he didnae ken how it had happened an' she must've fell intae the fire. Weel, ah kent whit ah had seen, that picture'll nae lang leave me, an' we were aw witness tae whit Mrs Broon had screamed. He wisnae gettin aff wi it that easy. Luckily ah wis staunin near enough him tae get in a guid slap or twa afore the polisman pu'ed me back.
A few days efter they hung Broon his body went missin fae the gibbet. It wis found a couple o' days later in the Greenside burn, taken back ower tae the Gallowlee an' hung up again. A few days efter that it went missin again, but this time they nivver found it...
Are ye sure ye dinnae want anither pancake?