| CHAPTER XVII.
TOWN DRUMMERS, BELL RINGERS,CRIERS, ETC.
Town Drummers, Bell Ringers, Criers, etc. : Old Hunter—Young
Hunter, better known as Puddock Wull—As a Swimmer—Lost at
Haddington—A bit of a Glutton—A brief Wooing—Tricked by Tranent
Bell Ringer—Wull enlists for a Soldier—Geordie Muir—Davie
Storie—Robbie Smith and the Dishcloot—Robbie Smith's Marriage—Sandie
Kedzlie and the Barrelless Gun—Sandie and his Siller—The Old
Flint Gun—Rob Tamson's Prayer.
PRESTONPANS, like other country villages, has always had its
quota of curious characters, in the form of town criers, drummers,
bell ringers, kirk beadles, etc. In many districts the kirk
officer held all the aforenamed offices, but in Prestonpans
the beadle as a rule always held himself superior to these
things. There have been town criers here from a very early
period, but we draw the line at old Hunter, who is still well
remembered among the more ancient of the villagers.
Old Hunter was a genuine native of the soil, and a shoemaker.
He became town bellringer, town drummer, and town crier at
an early age, and ceased to make a din only when his tongue
would no longer waggle or his fingers hold a drumstick. He
was succeeded in office by his son William, better known as
Wull, like his predecessor, went in for "cobbling," and if
he succeeded his father in the art of using his awl, he also
succeeded him in the office of town drummer. Along with these
he inherited many of his father's peculiarities, and possessed
no end of whimsicalities very much his own.
The new town drummer was a strong-bodied man, with not altogether
uncomely features, but he was very much malformed in his nether
limbs. His knees were flattened outwards, and his heels came
in till they met together. He walked, or bounded rather, with
the aid of a pair of crutches. His youthful tormentors maintained
that he leapt like a frog, and they nicknamed him " Puddock
Wull." Wull was a powerful swimmer. He was far ahead of all
comers in the district, and his aquatic powers were said to
be owing to the malformation of his limbs. A boat in distress
excited him terribly, through eagerness to rush to the rescue.
He liked to be among the wild waves revelling. He ventured
into the most dangerous places, and it became a common saying,
"There is nae droonin' o' Wull."
If a " wild beast" show arrived in the village, if a concert
or soiree was to be, or if a sale by auction was about to
take place, Wull's services were sure to be in request, and
with his big drum fixed in front of him, and surrounded by
noisy children, he was in his glory.
Thus accompanied, off he would bound, halt betimes, and sound
his drum. He was gifted with a most stentorian voice. His
words could be heard distinctly from one end of the village
to the other. After proclaiming his news towards the west
end of the village, he would set off by way of Tranent, where
he was very well known, then making his way down by Cockenzie
and Preston Links he would re-enter the village at the east
end, and by this means he maintained that he was for Prestonpans,
" Disseminator of news
That ever stood before
In a pair of leather shoes."
HUMOUR OR SPLEEN.
One day, during a fit of humour or spleen, Wull, by one of
his announcements, rather surprised the natives. Arrayed m
all his glory, he took his place in front of the principal
inn. "What's up the day, Wull ? " inquired a lounger.
"Sad news! Sad news!" was the reply; "but halt and
And after sounding his drum, he bawled out at the top
of his voice, . „
"Lost! Lost! Lost!'
"Ay, lost at Haddington the other day-a lawyers con-