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p. 176



N days long ago very little, and many a time no soap was used in washing. Cow-dung was frequently employed in the scouring and bleaching of "harn." A thick ley of it was made, and into it the web was first put. It lay in this mixture for some time. This process was called "bookin." After being taken from the "book," it was washed as clean as possible, then boiled, and spread on the grass. It was turned, and soaked with water day after day till the strong smell of the "book" had left it, and it had become pretty white and clear. Another ley was made of the droppings of the poultry, and went by the name of "hen-pen." Another common detergent was stale urine, "maister."

Once a year, in spring, there was the great yearly washing, when every piece of dress, every blanket, everything of bedding, and everything of cloth kind that could be washed, and required washing, were subjected to a thorough cleansing. A bank near the well, or a spot on the bank of a neighbouring stream or river or loch, was chosen. A hole was dug in the earth, and a few large stones were placed at the sides of the hole to confine the fire, and to serve as a support for the "muckle pot" or the kettle. A large fire of peat was kindled in this hole, and the pot or kettle, filled with water, was placed over it. Tubs were standing all round, some on stools for hand-washing the lighter articles that had to be washed by the hand, and some on the ground for washing by the feet the heavier articles, and of such as were more than usually soiled. From early morning till night the work went on, some busy washing with the hands, some treading with their feet, some spreading the washed articles to bleach and dry, watering them, turning

p. 177

them; and when dried, shaking them, folding them, and storing them up. Such of the articles as required more than one day to bleach and dry were left during night. To guard them from thieves a few of the young folks kept watch and ward, passing the night in song, or in telling ghost and fairy stories, or in listening to the sweet music of the fairies if the clothes happened to be near a fairy hillock, for the fairies were usually kind, and took delight in doing mortals good.

A washing rhyme was:--

"Her it washes oil Monanday
Gets a’ the ook t’ dry.
Her it washes on Tyesday
Is nae far bye.
Her it washes on Wednesday,
She is a dainty dame.
Her it washes on Feersday
Is muckle t’ the same.
Her it washes on Friday
Hiz little skeel indeed,
Her it washes on Satterday,
It's jist a dud for need."

In washing, if the soap did not "rise" on the clothes, there was a "fey" person's clothes in the tub.

Next: Chapter XXV. Farming