James Ettrick Hogg considered, sourly, the pros and cons of whopping it on the table as he had before. It had raised a laugh in pubs across Scotland and even in England though he was unfond of going south of the Border where most people didn't understand him and that had led to a night in the cells when he had been in his cups on more than one occasion.
Why, laddie, came a soft insinuating voice, would ye no just pull it out and whop it on the table?
Tis a cheap laugh, said Hogg, contenting himself with making a face at the young woman sitting opposite him in the bothy.
And why, said the wee voice, would ye be averse to a cheap laugh? They go down well in Edinburgh.
nothing goes down well in Edinburgh, said Hogg. They laughed me out of town and had I not been able to bash one or two of them with my claymore I may have mutilated myself beyond all recognition. As it was i was down to nine stone seven, a kind of epilogue of Scottishness, by the time I left. Nae good aboot the hoose, quite unable to, for example, lift a sheep.
Baa, said Dolly the sheep, who had been nibbling her feed contentedly by the tableside all this time. Hogg scratched her back wool and she wriggled happily. A squirrel came to the window and chittered.
But you got better, said the voice.
That's not you, now is it, said Hogg to the young woman.
No ye utter pishwit, said the voice. You don't remember me, now do you Jamie?
Now you mention it, said Jamie Hogg, no I don't.
Well, cutnybaws, said the voice, you're in my funking Tardis.
I'm in Scotland, said Jamie Hogg.
Lots of planets have a Scotland, said the voice. A lean man leaning over a console as the lights came up.
Fixed the barsteward, said the man, turning to face the two at the table. And you, lass, you dinna recall me either, do you?
No, she said.
Aye, said the man. It's no happened yet then. I am a traveler in both time and space, see what I have been, laddie.
Kashmir, said the girl.
The man stared at her.
What did you just say, he said.
Kashmir, she repeated. Kashmir, when the boats burned.
Gallifrey, he said. When the walls fell.
Babur at Istalif, she replied.
Was he not an elephant, said Hogg.
No, both of them said.
Jamie, said the lean man. Why do you not do as you planned and whap it onto the table for all to see.
Reluctantly the Scotsman drew his mighty claymore and lay it upon the rough table between them.
And you lassie, said the lean man. Would ye put some clothes on? It can get chilly where we're going.
And that would be - she said.
Ahah, said the man. You'll see.