DEAR SIR,--As I knew you once, and think you will remember me,--I having wrought on your farm for some months with William Colins that summer that Burke was hanged,*-- I am going to write you on a great and trying misfortune that has befallen to myself, and hope you will publish it, before you leave London, for the benefit of all those concerned.
You must know that I have served the last three years with Mr Kemp, miller, of Troughlin;* and my post was to drive two carts, sometimes with corn to Dalkeith market, and sometimes with flour-meal to all the bakers in Musselburgh and the towns sound about. I did not like this very well; for I often thought to myself, if I should take that terrible Cholera Morbus, what was to become of me, as I had no home to go to, and nobody would let me within their door. This constant fright did me ill, for it gave my constitution a shake: and I noticed, whenever I looked in my little shaving-glass, that my face was grown shilpit* and white, and blue about the mouth; and I grew more frightened than ever.
Well, there was one day that I was at Musselburgh with flour; and when I was there the burials were going by me as thick as droves of Highland cattle; and I thought I sometimes felt a saur* as if the air had thickened around my face. It is all over with me now, thought I, for I have breathed the Cholera! But when I told this to Davison, the baker's man, he only laughed at me, which was very ungracious and cruel in him; for before I got home I felt myself manifestly affected, and knew not what to do.
When I came into the kitchen, there was none in it but Mary Douglas: she was my sweetheart like, and we had settled to be married. 'Mary, I am not well at all to-night,' said I, 'and I am afraid I am taking that deadly Cholera Morbus.'