[Frontispiece: Cover Art—Sandy]
MY MAN SANDY
J. B. SALMOND
SANDS & CO.
EDINBURGH: 37 GEORGE STREET
LONDON: 15 KING STREET, COVENT GARDEN
These sketches are taken from a series written originally for newspaper purposes. Revision of them has made their author keenly conscious of their defects; but Bawbie and Sandy are characters who might be completely spoiled by improvement. The sketches are therefore presented as they were hastily "rubbed-in" for serial publication.
The "foo," "far," "fat," and "fan" of the Angus dialect have been changed into the more classic "hoo," "whaur," &c.; otherwise the sketches remain in the form in which they have gained quite an unexpected popularity amongst Scottish readers both at home and abroad.
ARBROATH, N.B., April, 1889.
I. SANDY SWAPS HIS POWNEY II. SANDY STARTS TO STUDY GEOMETRY III. SANDY AND THE DINNER BELL IV. A TALK ABOUT HEAVEN V. MISTRESS MIKAVER'S TEA PARTY VI. SANDY'S SECOND LESSON IN GEOMETRY VII. SANDY'S MAGIC LANTERN EXHIBITION VIII. SANDY AND THE RHUBARB TART IX. THE GREAT STORM OF NOVEMBER, 1893 X. SANDY AND HIS FAIRNTICKLES XI. SANDY STANDS "EMPIRE" AT A CRICKET MATCH XII. A DREADFUL DISASTER IN THE GARRET XIII. SANDY AND BAWBIE'S SPRING HOLIDAY XIV. LOVE AND WAR XV. SANDY MAKES A SPEECH XVI. SANDY'S CHRISTMAS PRESENT XVII. AT THE SELECT CHOIR'S CONCERT XVIII. SANDY RUNS A RACE XIX. SANDY REVENGED XX. SANDY'S APOLOGIA
MY MAN SANDY.
SANDY SWAPS HIS POWNEY.
He's a queer cratur, my man Sandy! He's made, mind an' body o' him, on an original plan a'thegither. He says an' does a' mortal thing on a system o' his ain; Gairner Winton often says that if Sandy had been in the market-gardenin' line, he wudda grown his cabbage wi' the stocks aneth the ground, juist to lat them get the fresh air aboot their ruits. It's juist his wey, you see. I wudna winder to see him some day wi' Donal' yokit i' the tattie-cairt wi' his heid ower the fore-end o't, an' the hurdles o' him whaur his heid shud be. I've heard Sandy say that he had an idea that a horse cud shuve far better than poo; an' when Sandy ance gets an idea intil his heid, there's some beast or body has to suffer for't afore he gets redd o't. If there's a crank wey o' doin' onything Sandy will find it oot. For years he reg'larly flang the stable key ower the gate efter he'd brocht oot Donal' an' the cairt. When he landit hame again, he climbed the gate for the key, an' syne climbed ower again an' opened it frae the ootside. He michta carried the key in his pooch; but onybody cudda dune that! But, as I was sayin', it's juist his wey.
"It's juist the shape original sin's ta'en in Sandy's case," the Gairner said when the Smith an' him were discussin' the subject.
"I dinna ken aboot the sin; but it's original eneuch, there's nae doot aboot that," said the Smith.
There's naebody kens that better than me, for I've haen the teuch end o' forty year o't. But, still an' on, he's my ain man, the only ane ever I had, an' I'll stick up for him, an' till him, while the lamp holds on to burn, as the Psalmist says.
* * * * * *
"See if I can say my geog, Bawbie," said Nathan to me the ither forenicht, as I was stanin' in the shop. He'd been sittin' ben the hoose wi' his book croonin' awa' till himsel' aboot Rooshya bein' boundit on the north by the White Sea, an' on the sooth by the Black Sea, an' some ither wey by the Tooral-ooral mountains or something, an' he cam' ben an' handed me his geog, as he ca'd it, to see if he had a' this palaver on his tongue.
I've often windered what was the use o' Nathan wirryin' ower thae oot-o'-the-wey places that he wud never be within a thoosand mile o'. He kens a' the oots an' ins o' Valiparaiso, but michty little aboot Bowriefauld. Hooever, I suppose the dominie kens best.
Nathan was juist busy pointin' oot the place to me in his book when there was a terriple rattlin' oot on the street, an' aff he hookited to see what was ado. He thocht it was a marriage, an' that there micht be a chance o' some heys aboot the doors. What was my consternation when the reeshlin' an' rattlin' stoppit at the shop door, an' I heard Sandy's voice roarin', "Way-wo, haud still, wo man, wo-o-o, will ye!"
"What i' the face o' the earth's ado noo?" says I to mysel'; an' I goes my wa's to the door. Sandy had been up at Munromont for a load o' tatties. When I gaed to the door, here he was wi' a thing atween the shafts o' his cairt that lookit like's it had been struck wi' forkit lichtnin'.
"What hae ye dune wi' Donal', Sandy?" I speered.
"Cadger Gowans an' me's haen a swap," says Sandy, climbin' oot at the back o' the cairt, an' jookin' awa' roond canny-weys to the horse's heid.
"Wo, Princie," he says, pettin' oot his hand. "Wo, the bonnie laddie!"
Princie, as he ca'd him, ga'e a gley roond wi' the white o' his e'e that garred Sandy keep a gude yaird clear o' him.
"He's a grand beast," he says, comin' roond to my side; "a grand beast! Three-quarters bred, an' soond in wind and lim'. I got a terriple bargain o' him. I ga'e Gowans Donal' an' thirty shillin's, an' he ga'e me a he tortyshall kitlin' to the bute—the only ane i' the countryside. He's genna hand it in the morn."
There was nae want o' soond in Princie's wind at ony rate. I saw that in a minute. He was whistlin' like a lerik.
"He sooks wind a little when he has a lang rin," says Sandy; "but that's nether here nor there. He's haen a teenge or twa, an' he's akinda foondered afore, an' a little spavie i' the aft hent leg; but I'll shune pet that a' richt wi' gude guidin'. He's a grand beast, I tell ye!"
Sandy stood an' lookit first up at the horse an' then doon at his cairt. "He's gey high for the wheels," he says; "but, man, he's a grand beast. He cam hame frae Glesterlaw juist like a bird. Never turned a hair. He's a grand beast."
"Hoo mony legs has he, Sandy?" says I, lookin' at the great, big, ravelled-lookin' brute. He was a' twisted here and there, an' the legs o' him lookit for a' the world juiat like bits o' crunckled water-hose. The cairt appeared to be haudin' him up, raither than him haudin' up the cairt; an' he was restin' the thrawn legs o' him time aboot, juist like a cock stanin' amon' snaw. "Ye shudda left that billie at the knackers at Glesterlaw, Sandy," says I, I says. "I'm dootin' ye'll ha'e back to tak' him there afore him or you's muckle aulder."
"Tyach! Haud your lang tongue," says Sandy. "Speak aboot things ye ken something aboot. Wait till the morn. Ye'll see I'll get roond my roonds an' a' my tatties delivered in half the time. I'll ha'e rid o' a' my tatties an' be hame gin ane o'clock, instead o' dotterin' awa' wi' a lazy brute like Donal'. I'll beat ye onything ye like, Gowans 'ill be ruin' his bargain gin this time; but he'll no' get him back noo. I'll go an' see an' get Princie stabled."
Sandy gaed inby to the shafts, but he sprang back when Princie ga'e a squeek an' garred his heels play tnack on the boddom o' the cairt.
"That's the breedin'," says Sandy, gaen awa' roond to the ither side o' the cairt.
"It soonded to me like the boddom o' the cairt, as far as I cud hear," says I, I says; but Sandy never lut on.
The brute had a nesty e'e in its heid. It turned roond wi' a vegabon'-like look aye when Sandy gaed near't. He got up on the front efter a while, an' ga'e the reinds a tit, an' Princie began to do a bit jeeg, garrin' Sandy bowse aboot on the front o' the cairt like's he was foo. Sandy ga'e him a clap on the hurdles to quieten him, but aye the hent feet o' him played skelp on the boddom o' the cairt, till I thocht he wudda haen't ca'd a' to bits. Syne awa' he gaed full bung a' o' a sudden, wi' Sandy rowin' aboot amon' the tatties, an' hingin' in by the reinds, roarin', "Wo! haud still," an' so on. Gin he got to the fit o' the street there was a dozen laddies efter him; screamin', "Come on you lads, an' see Sandy Bowden's drumadairy. By crivens, he's gotten a richt horse for Donal', noo."
Sandy didna come up frae the stable till near-hand eleven o'clock, an' I didna say ony mair aboot his braw horse. I've heard the minister say, it's the unexpectit that happens. That's aye the way wi' Sandy, I can tell you. I aye expect that something will happen wi' him that I'm no' expectin'; so I find it best juist to lat him aleen.
Next mornin' he gaed awa' gey early to get yokit, an' he took Bandy Wobster wi' him to gi'e him a hand. It was twa strucken 'oors afore he got to the shop door wi' the cairt, an' baith him an' the horse were sweitin' afore they startit on his roonds. Sandy was lookin' gey raised like, so I lut him get on a' his tatties an' said naething.
Stumpie Mertin cam' by, an', lookin' at Princie, gae his heid a claw.
"What are ye stanin' glowerin' at?" says Sandy till him, gey snappit like.
"Whaur did ye get that hunger'd-lookin' radger, Sandy?" says he. "That beast's no' fit for gaen aboot. The Cruelty to Animals 'ill nip you, as shure's you're a livin' man."
"Tak' care 'at they dinna nip you, for haein' a wid leg," says Sandy, as raised as a wasp. "Awa' oot o' that, an' mind your ain bisness."
"That's been stealt oot ahent some menagerie caravan," says Stumpie; an' awa' he gaed dilpin' like's he'd made a grand joke.
The policeman cam' doon an' settled himsel' aboot ten yairds awa' frae Princie, put his hands ahent his back, set forrit his heid like's he was gaen awa' to putt somebody, an' took a lang look at him. "That's a clinker, Sandy," says he. "That billie 'ill cover the grund."
I didna ken whether the bobbie meant rinnin' ower the grund, or coverin't efter he was turned into gooana or bane-dust; but I saw the lauch in his sleeve a' the same.
Gairner Winton cam' doon the street at the same time, an' the bobby an' him startit to remark aboot Sandy's horse.
"A gude beast, nae doot," says the Gairner; "but Sandy's been gey lang o' buyin' him.'
"He's bocht him gey sune, I'm thinking," says the policeman. "Gin he'd waited a fortnicht, he'd gotten him at twintypence the hunderwecht."
Sandy never lut dab 'at he heard them. The cairt was a' ready an' Sandy got up on the front and startit. A' gaed richt till he got to the Loan, when Princie startit to trot. The rattlin' o' the scales at the back o' the cairt fleggit him, an' aff he set at full tear, the lang skranky legs o' him wallopin' about like torn cloots atween him an' the grund. A gude curn wives were oot waitin' their tatties, an' they roared to Sandy to stop; but Sandy cudna. The tatties were fleein' ower the back door o' the cairt, an' the scales were rattlin' an' reeshlin' like an earthquake; an' there was Sandy, bare-heided, up to the knees amon' his tatties, ruggin' an' roarin', like the skipper o' some schooner that was rinnin' on the rocks. I'll swear, Sandy got roond his roonds an' a' his tatties delivered in less than half the time Donal' took! The wives an' laddies were gaitherin' up the tatties a' the wey to Tutties Nook; and gin Sandy got to the milestane his cairt was tume. By this time Princie was fair puffed out, an' he drappit i' the middle o' the road, Sandy gaen catma ower the tap o' him.
Donal's back till his auld job! Sandy lost thirty shillin's an' a cairt-load o' tatties ower the heid o' Princie; an' as for the he tortyshall kitlin', I've never heard nor seen hint nor hair o't.
SANDY STARTS TO STUDY GEOMETRY.
"Man, Bawbie, I think I'll see an' get into the Toon Cooncil some o' thae days," says Sandy to me the ither forenicht. "Me an' some o' the rest o' the chaps have been haein' a bit o' an argeyment i' the washin'-house this nicht or twa back, an' I tell you, I can gabble awa' aboot public questions as weel's some o' them i' the Cooncil. I ga'e them a bit screed on the watter question on Setarday nicht that garred them a' gape; an' Dauvit Kenawee said there an' then that I shud see an' get a haud o' the Ward Committee an' get a chance o' pettin' my views afore them. They a' said I was a born spowter, an' that wi' a little practice I cud speechify the half o' the Cooncil oot at the door."
I hit Sandy blether awa' for a whilie, an' syne I strikes in, "Ay, juist that, Sandy; but you'll mibby g'wa' an' get that tume saft soap barrel scraipit oot, an' the wechts gi'en a black lead; an' we'll hear aboot the Toon Cooncil efter your wark's dune."
"Oh, but I'll manish that, Bawbie," says he, gey snappish-like; "but still a man wi' brains in's heid canna juist be setisfeed wi' saft soap an' black lead a'thegither."
"Ow weel," says I, "you wud mibby fa' in wi' a fell lot o' baith o' them, even i' the Toon Cooncil. When you're wantin' a favour, a little saft soap—altho' it's only scraipins—is sometimes a very handy thing to hae; an' if you dinna get what you want, you can pet on the black lead syne. There's a fell lot o' that kind o' thing gaen on, an' nae mistak'. There's Beylie Thingymabob, for instance—but, of coorse, that's no' the point——"
"What I was sayin'," brock in Sandy, "was that when a man's heid's fu' o' brains, an' them wirkin' juist like barm, he maun hae some occupation for his intelleck, or his facilties 'ill gie wey. There's Bandy Wobster, for instance, tak's up his heid wi' gomitry an' triangles an' siclike, juist 'cause he has some brains in his heid, an' maun occupy them; an' what for no' me as weel?"
"Gomitry an' triangles!" says I. "Ye'll mibby be for into the flute band next, are ye? Weel, I'll tell you this—I ken naething aboot the gomitry, or what like a thing it is; but if you bring ony o' your triangles here, wi' there ping ping-pinkey-pingin', I'll pet them doon the syre; that's what I'll do. I like music o' near ony kind. I can pet up wi' the melodian or the concertina; but yon triangle thing I wudna hae i' the hoose. You can tell Bandy Wobster he can keep his triangles for his parrots swingin' on. We want neen o' them here."
"Tut, Bawbie, 'oman," says Sandy, "you're juist haiverin' straucht forrit. It's no' flute band triangles I mean ava. It's the anes you see in books—a' shapes an' sizes, ye know. Bandy learned a' aboot them when he was at the sea. Sailors learn aboot them for measurin' hoo far onywey is frae ony ither wey, d'ye know, d'ye see? Bandy tells me that gomitry—that's what they ca' the book fu' o' triangles—is a grand thing for learnin' you to speak; an' he offered to gi'e me a lesson or twa."
"That'll be whaur Bandy gets a' his gab," says I. "I think, Sandy," I says, says I, "that you've mair need to learn something to garr you haud your tongue. You've nae need for learnin' to speak, weel-a-wat, excep' it be to speak sense; an' I dinna suppose gomitry 'ill do you ony guid that wey. It's made but a puir job o' Bandy Wobster, at onyrate."
"That's a' you ken, Bawbie," says Sandy. "There's mair in Bandy than the spune pets in; mind I'm tellin' you. He was tellin's aboot some o' the exyems in gomitry lest nicht, an', I'll swag, he garred Cocky Baxter, the auld dominie, chowl his chafts."
"Exyems!" says I. "Is that the same as exy-oey we used to play at on oor sklates at the skule?"
"No, no, no, no, no," says Sandy. "What are you haiverin' aboot, Bawbie? It's a different kind o' thing a'thegither. The first exyem is that onything that's equal to the same thing as ony ither thing, is equal to the thing that's equal to the thing to which the ither thing's equal, d'ye know, d'ye see?"
"By faigs, Sandy," says I, "that's waur than exy-oey yet. What was't you said?"
"It's as plain as twice-twa's fower, Bawbie, if you juist watch," says Sandy. "If ae thing is equal till anither thing, an' the ither thing's equal to some ither thing that's equal to the thing that the first thing's equal till, then you can easy see that the ae thing 'ill be equal to the ither, as weel as to the ither thing that they're baith equal till."
I thocht Sandy was raley gettin' akinda lichtwecht, d'ye ken, for I cud nether mak' heid nor tail o' his confused blethers.
"Keep me, Bawbie, do you no' see through't?" he says, glowerin' at me wi' a queer-like look in his e'e. "Gie's three bawbees! Look now; there's thae three bawbees. Weel than, here's twa here, an' there's ane there. Noo, this ane here is equal to that ane there, an' this ither ane here is equal to that ane there too; so that, when they're baith equal to that ane, the teen maun be equal to the tither. A blind bat cud see that wi' its een shut."
Sandy set himsel' up like's he'd pey'd a big account or something, an', gien his heid a gey impident cock to the tae side, he says, "D'ye no' see't?"
"See't?" says I, I says. "What wud bender's frae seein't? An' is that what gomitry learns you?" says I.
"It is that," says Sandy. "That's the first exyem."
"Weel," says I, "it tak's a michty lang road to tell you what ony three-'ear-auld bairn in the G-O goes cud tell you in a jiffy."
"Ah, but it's the mental dreel that's the vailable thing," says Sandy. "It learns you to argey, d'ye no' see? If I had a glisk at gomitry for a nicht or twa, an' got a puckle triangles an' parilelly grams into my heid, I'll be fit to gie a scrieve on the watter question, or the scaffies' wadges, that'll garr some o' oor Toon Cooncillers crook their moos. Wait till you see!"
"Ay, Sandy," says I, "you'll go an' get the swine suppered an' your ither jobs dune, an', gin ten o'clock were here, you'll get a coo's drink, wi' plenty o' pepper in't, an' get to your bed. Thae washin'-hoose argeymints are affectin' your nervous system, I'm dootin'. Rin, noo, an' see an' stick in."
I raley thocht, mind you, the wey the cratur was haiverin', that he wantit tippence i' the shillin'.
"I wad juist like you to hear ane o' oor debates, an' you'd cheenge your opinion," says Sandy. "Bandy promised to tell's something the morn's nicht aboot the postylate in gomitry. I juist wiss you heard him."
"What wud there be to hear aboot that?" says I. "Oor ane's juist the very same; he's near-hand aye late."
"Wha?" says Sandy, wi' a winderin' look in his e'e.
"Oor postie!" says I; "he's aye late. You'll of'en hear his whistle i' the street when it's efter ten o'clock at nicht."
Sandy gaed shauchlin' oot at the door, chuck-chuck-chuckin' awa' till himsel' like a clockin' hen, an' I didna see hint nor hair o' him for mair than twa 'oors efter. But what cud ye expeck? That's juist aye the wey o' thae men when they get the warst o't.
SANDY AND THE DINNER BELL,
Crack aboot holidays! I tell you, I'd raither do a day's washin' an' cleaning', ay, an' do the ironin' an' manglin' efter that, than face anither holiday like what Sandy an' me had this week. Holiday! It's a winder there wasna a special excursion comin' hame wi' Sandy's bur'al. If that man's no' killed afore lang, he'll be gettin' in amon' thae anarkist billies or something. I tell you he's fit eneuch for onything.
We took the cheap trip to Edinboro, juist to hae a bit look round the metrolopis, as Sandy ca'd it to the fowk i' the train. He garred me start twa-three times sayin't; I thocht he'd swallowed his pipe-shank, he gae sic a babble.
We wasna weel startit afore he begude wi' his nonsense. There was a young bit kimmerie an' a bairnie i' the carriage, an' the craturie grat like onything. "I winder what I'll do wi' this bairn?" said the lassie; an' Sandy, in the middle o' argeyin' wi' anither ass o' a man that the Arbroath cricketers cud lick the best club i' the country, says, rale impident like to the lassie, "Shuve't in ablo the seat."
"You hertless vegabon," says I; "think shame o' yoursel! Gie me the bairnie," says I; an' I got the craturie cowshined an' quieted.
There was nae mair nonsense till we cam till a station in Fife wi' an' awfu'-like name. I canna mind what it was, an' never will, I suppose. The stationmester had an awfu' reed nose—most terriple.
"Is the strawberries a gude crap roond aboot here?" said Sandy till him, out at the winda; an' you never heard what lauchin' as there was on the pletform. The stationmester's face got as reed's his nose, an' he ca'd Sandy for a' the impident whaups that ever travelled.
Sal, Sandy stack up till him, though; an' when the train moved awa' the fowk hurrehed like's it had been a royal marriage. The stationmester didna hurreh ony.
Gaen ower the Forth Brig I thocht twa-three times Sandy wud be oot at the window heid-lang. I was juist in a fivver wi' him an' his ongaens. Hooever, we landit a' richt in Edinboro. An' what a day! I thocht when we got to a temperance hotel at nicht that I had a chance o' an 'oor's peace. But haud your tongue! Weesht! I'll juist gie you the thick o' the story clean aff luif.
It was a rale comfortable-lookin' hoose, and we got a nice clean-lookin' bedroom, an' efter a'thing was arranged, Sandy an' me gaed awa' doon as far as Holyrood, whaur Queen Mary got ane o' her fiddlers killed, an' whaur John Knox redd her up for carryin' on like a pagan linkie instead o' the Queen o' Scotland. Weel, it was gey late when we got back to oor hotel, an' we juist had a bit snack o' supper, an' up the stair we gaed. We were three stairs up. We had a seat, an' a crack an' a look oot at the winda, for we saw a lang wey ower the toun, an' it was bonnie to watch the lichts twinklin' an' to hear the soonds.
Twal o'clock chappit, an' we thocht it was time we were beddit. I was anower, an' Sandy was juist a' ready, when he cudna fa' in wi' his nichtkep. It was in a handbag o' Sandy's, and he had left it doon in the lobby. Sandy canna sleep without his nichtkep—no' him!
"What am I genna do?" says Sandy. He was in his lang white nichtgoon, and he gaed to the room door an' opened it. He lookit oot, but a'thing was as quiet's death.
"I'll rin doon for't," says he; "a'body's beddit. I'll juist rin doon, an' I'll bring up my umberell an' my hat at the same time, for fear they micht be liftit. You never can tell."
Awa' doou the stairs he gaed in his lang nichtgoon, for a' the earth juist like some corp escapit frae the kirkyaird. He wasna a meenit oot when I dreedit something wud happen, an' I juist sat up tremblin' in the bed.
Sandy got doon to the lobby a' richt; an' a'thing was dark, an' as still's the grave. He scrammilt aboot till he got the bag; syne he fand for his lum hat, an' put it on his heid. He got his umberell in his oxter, an' the bag in his hand, an' then he fand roond juist to see if there was naething else he had forgotten. By ill-fortune he cam' on the handle o' the denner bell, an' liftin't, it ga'e a creesh an' a clang that knokit a' the sense oot o' Sandy's heid, and wauken'd half the fowk i' the hoose. Sandy took till his heels up the stair; an' a gey like picture he was, wi' his lang, white sark-tails fleein' i' the air, a lum hat on his heid, an umberell in his oxter, the bag in ae hand, an' the denner bell i' the ither, bangin' an' clangin' at ilky jump. It wudda frichten'd the very deevil himsel'. The stupid auld fule had gotten that doited that he cam' fleein' awa' wi' the bell in his hand.
There was a cry o' fire, and a scream o' murder, an' in half a meenit the hotel was as busy as gin it had been broad daylicht. Sandy forgot hoo mony stairs he had to clim', and he gaed bang in on an auld sea captain an' his wife, in the room below oors. It fair paralised baith o' them, when they saw Sandy comin' burst in on them wi' his black tile, his white goon, his umberell an' bag, an' the denner bell.
"P'leece, p'leece," roared the captain an' his wife—an' Sandy oot at the door. Awa' alang a passage he gaed, fleein' like a huntit tod. I heard him as gin he'd been doon in the very bowels o' the earth cryin', "Bawbie, Bawbie! Oh, whaur are ye, Bawbie?"
"Wha i' the earth is he, or what's ado wi' him?" I heard somebody speer.
"Gude kens," said anither voice. "It's shurely some milkman wi' the bloo deevils."
"Milkman! What wud a milkman do wi' an umberell, a portmanty, an' a lum hat?"
Juist at that meenit Sandy cam' fleein' alang the passage again, an' by this time a' the fowk in the hotel were oot on the stairs. If you had only seen the scrammel. They scoored doon the stairs, into pantries, in below tables; the room doors were bangin' like thunder, an' Sandy's bell was ringin' like's Gabriel had lost his trumpet. You never heard sic a din. I saw him comin' leggin' up the stair. The stairheid was fu' o' fowk, a' oot in their nicht-goons to see what was ado; but, I can ashure you, when they saw Sandy comin' fleein' up, they shune disappeared. Six policemen cudna scattered them so quick. He came spankin' into my room, an' drappit intil a chair, fair oot o' pech.
"Oh, Bawbie, Bawbie!" he cried, "gi'e's a drink. Tak' that umberell," he says, haudin' oot the bell to me. "I've been fleein' a' roond Edinboro wi' naething on but my nicht-goon, an' my lum, an' a' the coal cairters i' the kingdom ringin' their bells at my tails. Sic a wey o' doin'! O dear me! I wiss I was hame again! O dear me!"
"That's no an umberell, you doited fule," says I. "That's the denner bell you've been fleein' aboot wi' i' your hand."
Sandy lookit at the bell; an' you never saw sic a face as he put on. He lut it drap on the flure wi' a clash like a clap o' thunder, an' I heard a crood o' fowk scurryin' awa' frae oor bedroom door.
I tell'd the landlord hoo the thing happened, an' next mornin' at brakfast time you never heard sic lauchin'. A' the chaps were clappin' Sandy on the shuder; an' ane o' them says—"Ay, man; it's no mony fowk that tak's their lum hat an' their umberell to their bed wi' them."
But the auld skipper was the king amon' them a'. Hoo he raggit Sandy aboot bein' a somnambulashinist or something.
"When you want to steal a denner bell," he said to Sandy, "carry't by the tongue, man. It's safer that wey. Bells an' weemin are awfu' beggars when their tongues get lowse."
The captain was rale taen wi' Sandy, an', mind you, he hired a cab an' drave Sandy an' me a' roond the toon. He said he was bidin' in Carnoustie, and he wadna hae a nasay but we wud come an' hae a cup o' tea wi' him. "An' if you'll bide a' nicht," he said, "we'll be awfu' pleased. An' I'll chain up the denner bell i' the dog's cooch juist for that nicht."
Ay, weel! it's fine lauchin' noo when it's a' ower. But if you'd been in my place, you wudna lauchen muckle, I'se warrant.
A TALK ABOUT HEAVEN.
Sandy got a terrible dose o' the cauld lest week. I never hardly saw him so bad. He was ootbye at the plooin' match lest Wedensday, an' he's hardly ever been ootower the door sin' syne. There was a nesty plook cam' oot juist abune his lug on Setarday, an' he cudna get on his lum hat; so he had to bide at hame a' Sabbath, an' he spent the feck o' the day i' the hoose readin' Tammas Boston's "Power-fold State" an' the "Pilgrim's Progress." Ye see, Sandy's a bit o' a theologian aye when he's onweel. If he's keepit i' the hoose wi' a host or a sair heid, Sandy juist tak's a dose o' medicin', an' starts to wirry awa' at Bunyan or the Bible. He's a queer cratur that wey, for as halikit a character as he is.
But we had a kind o' a kirk o' oor ain on Sabbath i' the forenicht, for Dauvid Kenawee cam' in, an' syne Bandy Wobster; an' they werena weel set doon when in cam' Jacob Teylor, the smith, an' Stumpie Mertin alang wi' them. Gairner Winton cam' in to speer what had come ower Sandy, for he hadna seen him at the kirk. Ye never saw sic a hoosefu'! Sandy was sittin' at the fireside wi' an auld greatcoat an' a hairy bonnet on, an' a' the sax o' them fell to the crackin', ye never heard the like. Ye wudda really thocht it was a meetin' o' the Presbitree—they were a' speaking that throwither.
"An' what was the minister on the nicht, Gairner?" I says, says I, juist to stop them yabblin' aboot politicks, an' a' the like o' that nonsense on Sabbath nicht.
"He had twa texts the nicht, Bawbie," said the Gairner. "He took the wirds in Second Kings, second an' elevent, an' in Luke, nint an' thirtieth, an' a fine discoorse he made o't, aboot Elijah bein' taen up to heaven in the fiery chariot, an' comin' again a hunder or a thoosand 'ear efter, juist the same billie as he gaed awa'. He made oot that we'd meet a' oor deid freends in heaven again, an' juist ken them the same as though they'd only been awa' frae hame for a cheenge for a while."
"I dinna haud wi' yon view o' the thing ava," said Bandy Wobster. "He wud hae's a' believe that fowk never grow a bit aulder in heaven. The thing appears to me to be ridic'lous. Elijah, a thoosand 'ear efter he was taen up, cam' back withoot being a bit cheenged ether ae wey or anither; that was his idea o't."
"It's a gey ticklish subjeck," put in the Smith; "but, faigs, lads, I haud wi' the minister."
He's an awtu' nice, cowshis man the Smith. Ye wud sometimes think he was meent for a minister, he says things that clever; an' a body aye feels the better efter a crack wi' him.
"Ye see," he gaed on, "I wadna like it to be ony ither wey. Ye mind o' my little Elsie? Puir lassie, it's—lat me see; ay, it's twal' 'ear come Mertimas sin' she was taen awa'. Ay, man; an' she taen mair o' my heart wi' her in her bit coffinie than she left ahent her. A bonnie bit lassie she was, Bawbie, as ye'll mind. She was juist seven past when she was taen awa'; an' when I meet her again, I wud like her to be juist the same bonnie bit lassokie that cam' in wi' her pawlie that Setarday efternune an' tell'd me she had a sair heid—the henmist sair heid ever she was genna hae. Ye see, lads, if Elsie was growin' aulder in heaven, she wud be a woman nearhand twenty gin this time, an' she wudna be the same to me ava." An' the Smith lookit into the heart o' the fire like's he had tint something; an' I saw his een fill.
"That's the minister's wey o' lookin' at the thing too, I think," said the Gairner; "but I canna juist fathom't, I maun admit."
"There's something in what the Smith says," said Bandy; "but if there's to be nae growin' ony aulder i' the next world, there'll be some fowk 'ill hae a gey trauchle. There was Mysie Wilkie's bairn that de'ed doon there i' the Loan a fortnicht syne. It was a puir wammily-lookin' cratur, an' was only but aucht days auld when it took bruntkadis an' closed, juist in an 'oor or twa. Mysie, puir cratur, never kent. She was brainish a' the time, an' she follow'd her bairnie twa days efter. D'ye mean to tell me that Mysie 'ill be dwanged trailin' throo a' eternity wi' a bit bairnie aucht days auld, an' it never gettin' even the lenth o' bein' doakit, lat aleen growin' up to be able to tak' care o'ts sel? The thing's no rizzenable."
"But there wud be plenty bit lassies to gie the bairn a hurl in a coach," said the Tailor. "I dinna see hoo Mysie cudna get redd o' her bairn for an' oor noo an' than."
"But that wud juist be a dwang to the lassies, syne," answered Bandy.
"That's a thing I've often thocht aboot mysel'," says Sandy; "an' the only wey I cud mak' it oot was that a'body in heaven 'ill be juist i' their prime. I've thocht to mysel' that a' the men folk wud be, say, aboot thirty-five 'ear auld, or atween that an' forty, an' the weemin mibby fower or five 'ear younger."
"An' wud they be a' ae size, d'ye think?" says Stumpie Mertin. Stumpie's a tailor, ye see, an' I suppose he'd been winderin' aboot hoo he wud manish wi' the measurin'.
"I canna say naething aboot the size," says Sandy; "it's the auldness we're taen up aboot i' the noo."
"Na, na, Sandy; your wey o't 'ill no' do ava," said the Smith. "There'll be bairns an' auld fowk in heaven as weel's here. Auld fowk 'ill no' get dune or dotal, like what they do i' this world, undootedly; but there'll be young fowk for them to guide an' advise. It wud be a puir wey o' doin', I'm thinkin', whaur naebody was wyzer than his neeper, an' whaur ye wud never hae the chance o' doin' a freend a gude turn."
"It's past my comprehension," said the Gairner. "Maist fowk thinks it'll be a braw place, whaur there'll be nae trauchle or trouble wi' onything; but I doot we maun juist tak' the Bible for't, lads, an' hae faith that it'll be a' richt, whatever wey it comes aboot."
"There's ae thing, though, that I dinna haud wi' the minister in ava," said the Smith. "I canna thole the idea o' great croods o' stoot men and weemin daidlin' aboot a' day doin' naething but singin' hymes. I've often thocht aboot that, an' raley, Sandy, I dinna think I cud be happy onywey if I didna hae my studio an' my hammer wi' me; for I'm juist meeserable when I'm hingin' aboot idle. As for singin', I canna sing a single bum. It's no' like the thing ava for weel-faur'd fowk to do naething but trail aboot sing-singin' week-in week-oot. It may do for litlans, an' precentir budies, like Mertin here; but able-bodied fowk, wi' a' their faculties, cudna pet up wi't for a week, lat aleen a' eternity."
Stumpie's an awfu' peppery budy, an' though the Smith leuch when he made his joke at the tailor's precentin', Mertin got as raised as a wasp, and he yattered back—"You'll maybe be better aff i' the ither place, wi' your auld horse shune an' your smiddy reek, ye auld acowder——"
"Toot, toot, Mertin; dinna get angry," says the Smith. "It was but a joke, man. I've nae doot that I wud hardly be i' the right place amon' angels an' sic like billies. But I tell ye what it is, I maun wirk for my livin' in heaven as weel's here, if ever I get there. I cud never pet aff my time gaen aboot doin' naething an' that's whaur I differ frae the minister."
"But I think we're tell'd that there'll be mony mansions," says I; "an' nae doubt there'll be mony kinds o' occupation too. There'll be a chance for's a' bein' happy in oor ain wey, I'm thinkin'. I only wiss we was sure we wud a' get there."
"Ah, Bawbie, lassie, that's whaur you're wyzer than the whole dollop o's," says the Smith. "We're takin' up oor heids aboot a place we may never get till; an', I'm thinkin', it'll be better for's a' to stick in here an' do what's fair an' richt. If we mak' shure o' that, we may lave a' the rest till a higher hand."
Mistress Kenawee landit in to see what had come ower Dauvid, an', dear me, when I lookit at the tnock, here, it was five meenits to ten. We'd been argeyin' that muckle aboot eternity, that we'd forgotten aboot the time a'thegither.
MISTRESS MIKAVER'S TEA PARTY.
I'll swag, mind ye, but the men's no' far wrang when they say that weemin have most dreedfu' lang tongues. Dod, mind ye, but it's ower troo; it's ower troo!
Mistress Mikaver wud hae me alang to a cup o' tea lest Teysday efternune; so I gae my hands an' face a bit dicht, an' threw on my Sabbath goon, an' awa' I gaed. I fell in wi' Mistress Kenawee on the road, an', gin we landit, there was a gaitherin' o' wives like what you wudda seen ony mornin' at the Mossy Wall afore the noo water supply was brocht in aboot the toon.
Mysie Meldrum was there wi' a braw noo print frock on. Hand your tongue! Five bawbees the yaird! I saw the very marrows o't in Hantin the draper's remmindar winda. But, faigs, Mysie was prood o't, an' nae mistak. It was made i' the first o' fashion, a' drawn i' the briest, an' shuders as big's smokit hams, wi' Mysie's bit facie lookin' oot atween them, like's she was sittin' in an auld-fashioned easychair. But, of coorse, I never bather my heid aboot what wey fowk's dressed.
Mistress Mollison was juist as assorted as uswal. She'd as muckle on as wudda dressed twa or three folk, an' she was ill-cled at that.
"What'll hae come o' her seal jeckit?" says Mistress Kenawee to me, wi' a nudge, when we gaed ben the hoose to get oor things aff; but I said naething, for, the fac' o' the maitter is, I thocht Mistress Kenawee a fell sicht hersel'. There was a great target o' black braid hingin' frae the tail o' her goon, an' the back seam o' her body was riven in twa-three places. An' if the truth be tell'd, I wasna very braw mysel'. Thinks I to mysel', as I've heard the Gairner's wife say, them that hae riven breeks had better keep their seats.
Gairner Winton's wife was there, lookin' as happy an' impident as uswal; an' Ribekka Steein cam' in juist as me an' Mistress Kenawee were gettin' set doon amon' the rest. Mistress Mikaver was quite my leddy, an' was rinnin' frae the teen to the tither o's juist terriple anxious to mak's a' at hame, an' makin's a' meesirable. I windered that the cratur didna gae heidlang ower some o' the stules she had sittin' aboot; but she got through wi' a' her fairlies an' the tea maskit withoot ony mishap, an' we got a' set roond the table for oor tea.
Mistress Mikaver had oot her mither's cheenie, an' a braw tablecloth, o' her mither's ain spinnin' she tell'd's. She has an awfu' hoosefu' o' stech, Mistress Mikaver; press efter press, an' kist efter kist fu'. I ashure you, the lass that gets young Alek 'ill no want for providin'.
She had a'thing in fine order; it was a perfeck treat to sit doon; an' I noticed a braw noo pentin' o' the scone-baker hung abune the chumla. He maun hae left a fell feck o' bawbees, for I ashure ye his weeda has a fu' hoose, an' aye plenty to do wi'.
Weel-a-weel, we had oor tea, as I was tellin' ye, an' a fine cup it was. Eh, it's a nice thing a cup o' fresh tea. There's naething I like better; it's that refreshin', especially if you've somebody to crack till when you're at it. An', I'll swag, we didna weary for want o' crackin' that efternune. The Gairner's wife an' Mysie Meldrum are twa awfu' tagues for tongue; an' some o' the rest o's werena far to the hent, I'm dootin'.
"Noo, juist see an' mak' yersels a' at hame," said Mistress Mikaver, in her uswal fizzy kind o' wey.
"An', as the auld sayin' is, gin ye dinna like what's set doon, juist tak' what ye brocht wi' ye," says Mistress Winton, an' set's a' to the lauchin'. You never heard sic a cratur for thae auld-farrant sayin's; an' Mysie's no' far ahent. Dod, they pappit ane anither wi' proverbs juist like skule laddies wi' snawba's.
"There's Moses Certricht's wife awa' by there," says Mistress Kenawee, pointin' oot at the winda. "She's a clorty, weirdless-lookin' cratur. I'm dootin' Moses hasna muckle o' a hame wi' her, the gloidin' tawpie 'at she is."
"Eh, haud your tongue!" said Mistress Mollison. "The puir man's juist fair hudden doon wi' her, the lazy, weirdless trail. But it's the bairns I'm sorra for. Ye'll see them i' the mornin' gaen awa' berfit to the skule, an' a seerip piece i' their hand, wi' fient o' hand or face o' them washen, an' their claes as greasy as a cadger's pooch. It's a winder to me 'at Moses disna tak' to drink."
"He has himsel' to blame," brook in the Gairner's wife. "She cam' o' an ill breed. He kent what she was afore he married her. Ye canna mak' a silk purse oot o' a soo's lug. Eh, na! Gin ye want a guid sheaf, gang aye to a guid stook."
"You're richt there, Mistress Winton," said Mysie. "Tak' a cat o' your ain kind an' it'll no' scart ye, my mither used to say; an' I'm shure I've seen that come true of'en, of'en."
"They tell me," said Mistress Kenawee, "that Moses gie's her seven-an'-twinty shillin's every week to keep her hoose wi'. What she does wi't it beats me to mak' oot. Mony a mither wud be gled o' the half o't i' the noo, an' wud feed an' deed half a dizzen bairns on't."
"But Moses is a fooshinless, hingin'-aboot kind o' a whaup," says I. "The blame's mibby no' a' on ae side o' the hoose. There's lots o' your braw billies ye wudna need to follow ower their ain doorstap. When there's din an' dirt i' the hoose, the wife aye gets the dirdum. Moses has ower muckle to say aboot the wife. She may be ill, but he's no' the pairty to saw't like neep seed ower a' the countryside."
"You're richt there, Bawbie," said Mistress Winton. "I've tell'd Moses that till's face afore the day. They're scarce o' noos that tells their father was hanged."
"He's an ill man that blackgairds his wife, altho' she were the deevil's sister," says Mysie; an' even Ribekka gae her moo a dicht, an' whispered to hersel', "Eh, aye, that's a troo sayin'."
"I'll no' say a wird again' men," said Mistress Mikaver, "for Wellum was a guid man to me"; an' she took a lang breth throo her nose, an' lookit up at the picture abune the chumla. "I think I've seen Moses the waur o' a dram; but he looks a quiet eneuch stock," gays she.
"He's some like my man," I strak in. "He's gey an' of'en oot aboot when he shud be at hame. There's no' muckle hertnin' for a woman when she's left to trauchle day oot day in wi' seven litlans, an' a thrawn-gabbit footer o' a man juist comin' in at diet times, rennyin' aboot first ae thing an' syne anither, threapin' that his porritch is no' half boiled, simmerin' an' winterin' aboot haen to wait a meenit or twa for his denner or his tea. Moses Certricht's a soor, nyattery bit body, an' he tarragats the wife most unmercifu' aboot ilky little bit kyowowy. She may be nae better than she's ca'd. She has nae throwpet wi' her wark, an' she's terriple weirdless wi' her hoose; but she get's michty little frae Moses to mend her—that's my opinion."
"Muckle aboot ane, Bawbie, as the deil said to the cobbler," says Mysie. "I wudna say but you're mibby richt eneuch."
"Dawtit dochters mak' daidlin' wives," said the Gairner's wife. "She was spoilt at hame, afore Moses saw her. Her mither thocht there was nae lassies like hers, an' I'm shure she saired them hand an' fit. But you'll of'en see't, that wirkin' mithers mak' feckless dochters. At the same time, as my mither used of'en to say, an ill shearer never got a guid heuk, an', I daursay, Moses an' his wife, as uswally occurs, baith blame ane anither."
We feenisht oor tea, an' got set doon at the winda wi' oor stockin's an' oor seams, juist to hae a richt corrieneuchin, as Mistress Winton ca'd it. Mysie an' me were baith at ribbit socks, so we tried a stent wi' ane anither. But Mysie's tongue gaed fully fester than her wires, an' I'd raither the better o' her. She forgot a' aboot her intaks, an' had her stockin' leg a guid bit ower lang when she cam' to the tnot on her wirsit.
"A thochtless body's aye thrang," said the Gairner's wife, as Mysie began to tak' doon what she'd wrocht.
"Toot ay," said Mysie. "Gin a budy be gaen doon the brae, ilky ane 'ill gie ye a gundy."
The twa keepit at it wi' their proverbs till I got akinda nervish, d'ye ken. They were that terriple wyze, that, as fac's ocht, mind you, they near drave some o' the rest o's daft.
"Did you hear tell that Ribekka here was genna get Jeems Ethart?" said Mistress Mollison to the Gairner's wife, juist to get her on to Beek's tap.
Ribekka blushed like a lassie o' fifteen, an' bringin' her tongue alang her upper lip, she shook her heid an' says, "Juist a lot o' blethers. Jeems wudna hae a puir thing like me."
"Ye dinna tell me!" said Mistress Winton, never lattin' wink she heard Ribekka. "That's the wey o't is't? Imphm! What d'ye think o' that, na? Weel dune, Ribekka. He's a fine coodie man, Jeems; an' he'll tak' care o' Ribekka, the young taed. Wha wudda thocht it?"
Ribekka had her moo half fu' o' the lace on her saitin apron, an' was enjoyin' the raggin' fine, altho' she was terriple putten aboot, wi' her wey o't.
"Better sit still than rise up an' fa'," said Mysie. "Gin I were Ribekka I'd bide my leen. I wud like to see the man that wud tak' me oot o' my present state."
"He wudna need to be very parteeklar," says I, juist to gie Mysie a backca'; for she was sailin' gey near the wind, I thocht. "When I was young," I says, says I——
"Auld wives were aye gude maidens," the Gairner's wife strak in; an' I saw I was cornered, an' said nae mair.
"An' a weeda man too!" said Mysie wi' a grumph. "Better keep the deil atower the door than drive him oot o' the hoose."
"'Saut,' quo the souter, when he ate the soo, an' worried on the tail," was the Gairner's wife's comment; an' Mysie didna like it, I can tell ye.
"You wasna in that wey o' thinkin' when Dossie Millar, the skulemester, used to come an' coort you, when you was up-by at the Provost's," said Ribekka to Mysie. "If it hadna been for the lid o' the water-barrel gien wey yon nicht, you michta been skelpin' Dossie's bairns the day—an' your ain too."
We a' took a hearty lauch at Ribekka's ootburst.
"Eh, that was a pliskie," said Mistress Kenawee. "Dossie got a gey drookin' that nicht. They said it was ane o' the coachmen that was efter Mysie that sawed the lid half throo; an' when Dossie climbed up to hae his crack wi' Mysie at the winda, in he gaed up to the lugs. The story was that Mysie fair lost her chance wi' him, wi' burstin' oot lauchin' when he climbed oot o' the barrel soakin'-dreepin' throo an' throo. He never got ower't, for it got oot aboot, an' the very bairns at the skule began to ca' him the Drookit Dominie. He got a job at the Druckendub skule, an' never lookit Mysie's airt again."
"You're grand crackers," said Mysie. "Ye ken a hankie mair than ever happened; but, the man that cheats me ance, shame fa' him; gin he cheat me twice, shame fa' me. That's my wey o' lookin' at things."
This kind o' raggin' at ane anither gaed on for the feck o' the forenicht, an' we were juist i' the thick o' a' tirr-wirr aboot the best cure for the kink-host, when the doonstairs door gaed clash to the wa', an' in anither meenit in banged Sandy in his sark sleeves, an' his hair fleein' like a bundle o' ravelled threed.
"Michty tak' care o' me, Sandy," says I, I says; "what's happened?"
"Aye the mair the merrier, but the fewer they fess the better," says Mistress Winton.
"Wha's been meddlin' wi' you, Sandy?"
But fient a wird cud Sandy get oot. He was stanin' pechin' like a podlie oot o' the watter, an' starin' roond him like a huntit dog.
"Fiddlers' dogs and fleshers' flees come to feasts unbidden," said Mysie; but Sandy gae her a glower that garred her steek her moo gey quick.
"What i' the earth's wrang, Sandy," I says, gien him a shak'.
"Wh-wh-whaur's the g-grund ceenimin, Bawbie?" says Sandy. "There's a tinkler wife needin' a bawbee's-wirth, an' I've socht the shop heich an' laich for't."
"Keep me, Sandy," says I, "is that what's brocht you here? You'll get it in a mustard tin in the pepper drawer. But wha's i' the shop?"
"Oo, juist the tinkler wife," says Sandy.
"Weel, did you ever?" said Mistress Kenawee, haudin' up her hands.
"No!" said Sandy, turnin' to her gey ill-natured like. "Did you?"
"That's a type o' what ye ca' your men," says Mysie. "Weel, weel; they're scarce o' cloots that mend their hose wi' dockens."
"Bliss my hert, Sandy, she'll be awa' wi' the till atore ye get back," I said. "Rin awa' yont as fest as your feet'll cairry ye."
"The fient a fear o' that," Sandy strak in. "I gae the pileeceman tippence to stand at the door till I cam' back. I'm no' juist so daft's a' that, yet."
"An' the tinkler wife wants a bawbee's wirth o' grund ceenimin?" said the Gairner's wife. "That fair cows the cadger."
"I'll rin than," said Sandy. "I'll fa' in wi't a' richt noo; ye needna hurry, Bawbie," he added, as he made his wey oot; an' syne wi' the door in's hand, he says, "The pileeceman's in a hurry too, ye see. He has to hurl hame Gairner Winton. He's lyin' alang in Famie Tabert's public-hoose terriple foo"; an' awa' he floo, takin' the door to ahent him wi' a blatter like thunder.
If you had seen Mistress Winton's face! It was a picture. She shogit her heid frae side to side, wi' her moo shut, as if she wud never open't again; but efter a whilie she spat oot twa-three wirds, juist like's they'd been burnin' the tongue o' her. "A dog's tongue's nae scandal," she yattered oot.
"Better the end o' a feast than the beginnin' o' a pley," said Mysie. "We mauna lat onybody get cankered. Come awa' and sit doon, Mistress Winton. Bawbie's man juist wantit a dab at ye. Dinna mistak' yersel'; the Gairner's as sober's a judge, I'se warrant."
But the crackin' wudna tak' the road somewey efter this. There was a fell feck o' hostin', an' ow-ayin', an' so on; so I cam' my wa's hame afore aucht o'clock, for I was juist sittin' on heckle-pins thinkin' ilka meenit Sandy wud be comin' thrash in on's, roarin' he'd set the parafin cask afeyre. I was gled when I got hame an' fand a'thing in winderfu' order; although Sandy was gien Nathan coosies i' the shop jumpin' ower the coonter wi' ane o' his hands in his pooch. It's juist his wey, the cratur. He canna help it.
"Was the tinkler wife here when you cam' back?" I said to Sandy.
"Oo, ay," says he. "I gae her her ceenimin."
"There wudna be muckle profit oot o' that transaction, efter deduckin' the pileeceman's tippence," I says, says I. "Hoo did ye no' juist say that the grund ceenimin was a' dune?"
"'Cause that wudda been a lee," said Sandy.
"Weel, ye cud sen ye didna ken whaur it was," says I.
"That wudda lookit ridic'lous, an' me the mester o' the shop," said Sandy.
"Weel, but d'ye no' see that it was ridic'lous to gie a pileeceman tippence to watch a tinkler wife that wantit only a bawbee's-wirth o' grund ceenimin," I says gey sharp till him.
"Better g'ie the pileeceman tippence than tak' the cratur afore the shirra for stealin', an' mibby hae the toon peyin' a lot o' bawbees for keepin' her in the gyle, forby railroad tickets for her and twa peelars up to Dundee. That wudda been fully mair gin tippence," said Sandy.
Argeyin' wi' Sandy's juist like chasin' a whitterit in a drystane dyke. When ye think you have him at ae hole, he juist pops throo anither. Tach! When he's in thae argey-bargeyin' strums o' his, I canna be bathered wi' him!
SANDY'S SECOND LESSON IN GEOMETRY.
Wi' a' his foiterin' weys, there's a winderfu' speerit o' independence aboot Sandy, d'ye ken? He disna care aboot being dawtit by onybody, especially by folk he disna like. Juist the ither day, for instance, Sandy was jumpin' doon aff the fore-end o' his cairt. His fit had tickled in aboot the britchin somewey, an' he cam' lick doon on the braid o' his back i' the gutter. The bobby was stanin' juist ower the road at the time, an' cam' rinnin' across wi' his moo wide open.
"Keep me, Sandy, cratur," he says, "what's happen'd? Did you fa' aff the cairt?"
"G'wa an' mind your ain bizness," says Sandy, jumpin' up, an' gien himsel' a shak. "The cairt's my nain; I can come doon afen't ony wey I like."
The bobby gaed awa' rubbin' his chin. "Dod," he saya to Stumpie Mertin at the corner o' the street "that man Bowden's the queerest jeeger ever I cam across. He cam' thrash doon on the kribstane there i' the noo, an' when I ran anower to see if he was ony waur, he juist gae me impidence, an' said he cud come doon aff his cairt ony wey he liket. Did you ever hear the like?"
"He's a queer chield, Sandy," said Stumpie. "There's some folk thinks he wants tippence i' the shillin', but it's my opinion there's aboot fourteenpence i' the shillin' o' him. He's auld wecht; mind I tell you."
That's exactly my ain opinion, d'ye ken; an' it akinda astonished me to hear Stumpie speakin' sense for ance in's life. He's uswally juist a haverin' doit.
But that's no' what I was genna tell you aboot. Sandy and Bandy Wobster have had a terriple fortnicht's colligin' thegither. Every ither nicht they've been ether i' the washin'-hoose or i' the garret; an' Sandy's been gaen aboot scorin' a' the doors wi' kauk, an' makin' rings an' lines like railroads an' so on a' ower them.
"What's this you an' Bandy's up till noo?" I says to Sandy the ither mornin', juist when we were sittin' at oor brakfast. "I howp noo, Sandy," I says, says I, "that you'll keep clear o' the eediotikal pliskies you played lest winter."
"You can wadger your henmist bodle on that," says Sandy, as he took a rive ooten a penny lafe. "There's to be ither kind o' wark on this winter. Bandy an' me's been busy at the gomitry. Man, Bawbie, it's raley very interestin'. You mind I spak to you aboot some o' the triangles an' things that it tells you aboot afore?"
"Weel, look here, Sandy," I says, "I notice you've been scorin' every door aboot the place wi' your triangles, an' they're juist the very shape o' the ane Ekky Hebbirn played in the flute band; an', as I tolled you afore, I'm no' to hae ane o' them aboot the hoose. Preserve me, man, you'll get as muckle music oot o' the taings, an' mair."
"Keep on your dicky, 'oman," says Sandy. "You're clean aff the scent a'thegither. There's nae music aboot gomitry triangles ava. They've naething to do wi' music. They're for measurin' an' argeyin' oot things till a conclusion. Flute bands! Sic a blether o' nonsense. I maun lat you see the triangle book. We was haen a bit rin ower the exyems again lest nicht juist. Noo, juist to gie you an idea, Bawbie! You mind I tell'd you the exyem aboot things bein' equal to ane anither when they're equal to some ither thing that's equal to the things that are equal to ane anither?"
"I mind aboot you haiverin' awa' some nonsense o' that kind," says I; an', as fac's ocht, I cud hardly haud frae lauchin' at the droll look on Sandy's face.
"Weel," he gaed on, "that was the first exyem; the henmist is that the whole is greater than its pairt. That means, d'ye see, for instance, that my cairt's bigger gin the trams."
"Hoo d'ye mak' that oot?" says I. "Michty me, man, if the trams were nae bigger gin the cairt, hoo wud Donal' get in atween them? The thing's ridic'lous."
"You're no' seein't," says Sandy. "Tak' the back door o' the cairt, for instance. The back door's only a bit o' the cairt, isn't? Weel, than, shurely the cairt's bigger than the back door."
"You're haiverin' perfeck buff," says I. "The back door's juist exakly the same size as the cairt, or you wud never get it fessend on. Ony bairn kens that, gomitry or no gomitry."
"Bliss my hert, Bawbie," says Sandy, gettin' akinda peppery, "shurely to peace a scone's bigger than a bit o' a scone."
"There's nae doot aboot that," says I, "if the scone that you have a bit o' is nae bigger gin the scone that's bigger gin the bit o' the ither ane."
"That's teen for grantit, of coorse," says Sandy.
"But I dinna see hoo that mak's ony difference to the back door o' the cairt," says I, I says.
Sandy took a gey wild-like bite at his row, an gae twa-three o' his chuck-chucks, an' then he says, "Man, Bawbie, you weemin fowk have nae rizzenin' faculty. Naebody wi' ony logic wud need twa looks to see brawly that onything's bigger than a bit o't, or, as the book says, that the whole's greater than its pairt. That's self-evident. Tak' the Toon Cooncil, say. It's shurely bigger than ony ane o' the Cooncillers."
"Is't na?" I brook in gey quick. "Juist you speer at Bailie Thingymabob, an' you'll shune find oot whuther he thinks the Toon Cooncil or him the biggest o' the twa."
"Auch, Bawbie; you're no wirth argeyin' wi'," says Sandy. "You've aye sic a desjeskit wey o' lookin' at things. What's the sense o' bletherin' aboot Bailie Thingymabob? Preserve me! if he's only an echteent pairt o' the Toon Cooncil, shurely common sense 'ill lat you see that the Toon Cooncil's bigger than he is. Ony bit loonie in the tower-penny cud see that in a blink."
"Very weel," says I; "juist speer at Bailie Thingymabob himsel'. I'll swag, if you tell him he's only an echteent pairt o' the Toon Cooncil, he'll be dealin' wi' anither tattie man gin neist mornin'. Sandy, loonikie, your exyems may do amon' your triangles an' sic like fyke-facks an' kyowows, but they're a' blethers you see brawly ony ither wey."
What a raise Sandy got intil! He was that kankered that he took twa or three ill-natured rives o' a shreed o' breed, an' a gullar o' tea, an' fair stankit himsel'. It gaed doon the wrang road, an' Sandy was nearhand chokit.
"Sairs me richt for argey-bargeyin' wi' a doited cratur that canna see a thing that's as plen's a pikestaff," he says, efter he had gotten his nose blawn. Syne he cowshined doon a bittie, an' says, wi' a bit snicker o' a lauch, "I maun hae you tried wi' the pond's ass anowerim."
"An wha micht he be?" says I.
"That's the fift proposition, Bawbie," says Sandy. "It's ca'ed the pond's ass anowerim. That's Latin for the cuddy's brig. If you canna get ower't, you're set down for an ass."
"Have you been ower't, Sandy?" I says, says I.
"No' yet," he says, never lattin' wink that he noticed the dab I had at him; "but I'm beginnin' to see throo't, I think. Gin I had anither glisk or twa at her I'll be on the richt side o' her, I'se wadger."
Fient a glint o' sense cud I see in Sandy's palaver; so I says, says I—"What is this fift proposition you're haiverin' aboot?"
"Weel, it's juist this," says Sandy; an' he began to mak' a lot o' fairlies wi' his finger amon' the floor aff the rows on the table. "Look sae, there's what ye ca' a soshilist triangle. Weel, you see the twa corners at the doon end o' her hare? They're juist the very marrows o' ane anither; an' if you cairry the lines at the side o' them here a bit farrer doon, an' get in ablo the boddam o' the triangle, ye'll find that the corners aneth the boddam are juist the very marrows o' ane anither too. D'ye see?"
"Ay, Sandy," I says, says I, "you'll better awa' an get Donal' yokit. I dinna ken what use thae soshilist triangles an' ither feelimageeries like hen's taes are genna be to you, but I howp they'll no' be learnin' ye to gie fowk jimp wecht, or it'll juist be the ruin o' your trade. I've nae objections to you haein' a hobby; but shurely you cud get a better ane gin a lot o' thae blethers o' Bandy Wobster's. Get ane o' thae snap-traps, or whativer ye ca' them, for takin' photographs; get on for the fire brigade or the lifeboat, join the Rifles or something. There wud be some sense in the like o' that. But fykin' an' scutterin' awa' amon' exyems, as you ca' them, an' triangles, an' a puckle things like laddies' girds and draigons, that nae livin' sowl cud mak' ether eechie or ochie o'——Feech! I wudna be dodled wi' them; juist a lot o' laddie-paddie buff."
Sandy jamp aff his seat an', rammin' on his hat, gaed bang throo the shop, yatterin', "Auch, haud your gab; that claikin' tongue o' yours mak's me fair mauchtless. I micht as weel argey wi' the brute beast i' the swine-crue till I was black i' the face." An' oot at the door he gaed, halin't to ahent him wi' a bang that garred the very sweetie bottles rattle.
SANDY'S MAGIC LANTERN EXHIBITION.
I was juist gaen oot at the back door on Wednesday nicht last week when I hears some crackin' gaen on i' the washin'-hoose, an' I lookit in to see wha was there.
"Man, that's juist the very dollop," says Sandy, as I lifted the sneck.
Dauvid Kenawee an' Bandy Wobster an' him were stravagin' roond aboot the place wi' a fitrool an' a bawbee can'le, an' I saw immidintly that there was something i' the wind. I was juist clearin' my throat to lat them ken there was to be nae mair o' their conspiracies in my washin'-hoose, when Dauvid slippit in his wird afore me.
"Come awa, Bawbie," he saya, says he, in his uswal quiet wey. "We were juist seein' aboot whuther we micht hae a bit magic lantern exhibition here on Setarday nicht. I have a class at the Mission Sabbath Schule, ye see, an' I was genna hae them at a cup o' tea on Setarday, an' I thocht o' gien them a bit glisk o' the magic lantern. Robbie Boath, the joiner, has a lantern he's genna gie's the len' o', an' Sandy here thinks he can wirk the concern a' richt."
"I've nae objection to onything o' that kind, whaur gude's genna be done," says I. "But it's no' nane o' your electric oxey hydropathic kind o' bisnesses, is't? I winna lippen Sandy wi' onything o' that kind, for I tell ye——"
"Dinna you bather yoursel, Bawbie," brook in Sandy. "This is a parafin lantern; juist as easy wrocht as your washin' machine there."
"Ay weel, Sandy," says I, "gin ye get on wi' your magic lantern as weel's ye generally manish wi' the washin' machine, when I'm needin' a hand o' ye, I'll swag Dauvid's bairns 'ill no' be lang keepit."
"Tach, Bawbie, you're aye takin' fowk aff wi' your impidence," says Sandy, gey ill-natured like.
But Dauvid an' Bandy juist took a bit lauch at him.
Weel, than, to mak' a lang story short, Setarday nicht cam', and the magic lantern wi't. Dod, but Sandy had a gey efternune o't. He was steerin' aboot, carryin' in soap boxes for seats to the bairns, an' learnin' up his leed aboot the pictures, an' orderin' aboot Nathan; ye never heard the like! I heard him yatterin' awa' till himsel' i' the back shop, "The great battle o' Waterloo was fochen in echteen fifteen atween the English an' the French, an' Bloocher landit on the scene juist as Wellinton was gien the order—Tuts, ye stupid blockheid, Nathan, that saft-soap barrel disna gae there—'Up gairds an' at them.'" He gaed on like this for the feck o' the efternune, an' even in the middle o' his tea, when I speered if it was het eneuch, he lookit at me akinda ravelled like, and says, "Although ye was startin' for that star the day you was born, stride-legs on a cannon ball, ye wudna be there till ye was mair than ninety 'ear auld."
"Wha's speakin' aboot stars?" says I; "I'm speerin' if your tea's het eneuch?"
"O, ay, yea, I daursay; it's a' richt," says Sandy. "I was mindin' aboot Sirias, the nearest fixed star, ye ken. I winder what it's fixed wi'?"
Seven o'clock cam' roond, an' Dauvid's bairns gaed throo oor entry like's they'd startit for Sandy's fixed star. They wudda gane through the washin'-hoose door if it hadna happened to be open. I had forgotten aboot them at the time; but, keep me, when they cam' oot o' Dauvid's efter their tea, I floo to the door. I thocht it was somebody run ower.
Sandy had on his sirtoo an' his lum gin this time, an' he was gaen about makin' a terriple noise, blawin' his nose in his Sabbath hankie, an' lookin', haud your tongue, juist as big's bull beef. He gaed into the washin'-hoose to cowshin the laddies, for they were makin' a terriple din.
"Now, boys an' loons—an' lassies, I mean," says Sandy, "there must be total nae noise ava, or the magic lantern 'ill no wirk."
"Hooreh! Time's up!" roared a' the laddies thegither; an' they whistled, an' kickit wi' their feet till you wudda thocht they wud haen my gude soap boxes ca'd a' to crockineeshin.
Dauvid appeared to tak' the whole thing as a maitter o' coorse, an' when I speered if this was juist their uswal, "Tuts ay," says he, "it's juist the loons in the exoobrians o' their speerits, d'ye know, d'ye see."
Thinks I to mysel', thinks I, I wud tak' some o' that exoobrians oot o' them, gin I had a fortnicht o' them. A Sabbath class! It was mair like a half-timers' fitba' club. But, of coorse, it's no' ilka day they see a magic lantern.
Mistress Kenawee, an' Mistress Mollison an' her man, the Gairner, an' the Smith, an' I cudna tell ye hoo mony mair, had gotten wind o't, an' the washin'-hoose was as foo as cud cram. There was a terriple atramush amon' the laddies when the can'le was blawn oot, an' syne Sandy strak a spunk an' lichtit his lantern, an', efter a fell lot o' fykin', he got her into order.
Sandy gae a keckle o' a host, an' syne he says, "Now, boys an' girls an' people, the first picture I'm genna show you is Danyil in the den o' lions. There he is sae!" an' he shot in the picture.
It was an awfu' queer-like picture. I cud nether mak' heid nor tail o't. It was a' juist akinda greenichy-yallichy like, like's somebody had skelt a pottal o' green-kail or something on the sheet whaur the picture was.
"I'm dootin' there's something wrang wi' the fokis," says Bandy Wobster.
"Juist you look efter your ain fokis, Bandy," says Sandy, gey peppery weys, "an' lat ither fowk's fokises aleen."
"Are ye share you're richt wi' the picture?" Dauvid Kenawee speered.
"There's naething wrang wi' the picture," says Sandy. "Ye see that kind o' a broon bit doon at the fit there? That's ane o' Danyil's feet."
"Look the number o' the slide, Sandy," said Bandy, "an' mak' shure you're richt. They're mibby oot o' order."
"You're oot o' order," said Sandy, as angry as a wasp. "Haud that lum hat, Bawbie!" he says; an' he oot wi' the picture, an' roars oot—"Number 2217! Look up 2217, Nathan, i' the book there, an' see what it says."
Efter kirnin' aboot amon' the leaves o' his book for a meenit or twa, Nathan got up his nose to the moo o' the lantern an' read oot—"A slice o' a drunkard's liver."
"What d'ye say?" says Sandy. "Lat's see't."
"A slice o' a drunkard's liver," says Nathan again.
Sandy grippit the book, an' efter a meenit, he says, "Ay, man; so you're richt. There's been some mixin' amon' the pictures. This is a slice or section o' a drunkard's liver," he continued, "showin' the effeks o' alcohol."
The laddies hurraed the drunkard's liver like onything, an' this gae Sandy time to get his breath, an' to dicht the sweit aff his face.
"That's the kind o' a liver ye'll get if you're drunkards," said Sandy. "The action o' the alcohol dejinerates the tishie until the liver becomes akwilly ransed, an' the neebriate becomes a total wreck." At this the laddies an' lassies clappit their hands like a' that.
"See that ye never get a drunkard's liver," said Sandy in a solemn voice; an' ane o' Dauvid's laddies says, "By golly, I wudna like a sowser o' a liver like that, onywey," an' set a' the rest a-lauchin'.
"Attention!" shouted Dauvid till his class; an' Bandy Wobster—wha was busy glowerin' at the drunkard's liver, an' windrin' what like his ain was, nae doot—strak in, without kennin', wi' "Shoulder arms!" an' the laddies roared an' leuch till you wud actually thocht they wudda wranged themsel's. Gin they stoppit, Sandy had fa'in' in wi' Danyil, an' there he was, glowerin' at's a', life-size, an' twenty lions wirrin' a' roond aboot him.
Sandy tell'd the story aboot Danyil, an' hoo he was flung in amon' the lions for no' bein' a vegabon'; an' faigs, mind ye. Sandy got on winderfu'. The laddies paid fine attention, an' ye cudda heard a preen fa'in' when Sandy was speakin'.
"There's no' nae lions' dens nooadays, ye see," say Sandy, to feenish up wi'. "What is't they do wi' creeminals or notorious fowk noo?"
"Pet them on for Toon Cooncillers," said ane o' the biggest o' Dauvid's laddies; an' Bandy Wobster lut oot a great ballach o' a lauch, an' roared at the pitch o' his voice—"Confoond it! Feech! I've swallowed a bit tobacco!"
Then there were pictures o' Joseph an' Moses, an' a great lot mair Bible characters, the loons roarin' oot the names generally afore the pictures were half in sicht. They were roid loons, an' nae mistak', but I can tell ye they had the Bible at their finger nebs. Dauvid was as prood's Loocifer aboot the laddies answerin' so smert; but Sandy hardly liked it.
They had a' the Bible stories as dare's dare cud be, an' whenever ony picture appeared they had a' the story roared to ane anither afore Sandy got his fokis putten into order. Bible knowledge is a grand thing, nae doot; but the laddies fair took Sandy's job ower his heid; an' he hardly liked it, as ye'll readily understan'.
But the local characters gae Sandy a better chance, an', I ashure you, he took full advantage o't. He gae a lang laberlethan aboot some o' the pictures—keep me, if he'd carried on like yon at ilky picture, he wudna been dune when the forenune bells wudda been ringin' for the kirk next day.
"I have noo some kapital pictures o' auld Arbroathians to show you," said Sandy to the bairns "the reg'lar rale Reed Lichties. An' I howp the laddies here 'ill tak' a lesson frae them, an' stick in an' get their pictures in magic lanterns efter they're deid too, an' get great big mossyleeums—that's thae great muckle sowsers o' gravesteens, juist like mill stalks, ye ken—oot in the Warddykes Cemetery, wi' their names chiseled on them in gold letters."
The loons riffed an' clappit their hands at this like's they were a' wishin' they were deid an' buried ablo a big gravesteen.
Efter a lot o' palaver, Sandy shot in his first local picture.
"This is Provost—— What was his name again? Be was wint to be a great lad at—— Man, what's his name again, Bandy?" says he.
"I dinna ken, Sandy," said Bandy; "but it strik's me you have him into the lantern upside doon. He's stanin' on his heid."
"He was a gey upside-doon character, at ony rate," said the Smith. "He was juist aboot as muckle use the tae wey as the tither."
Sandy got his Provost putten richt; but some o' the rest o' his notables were juist as pranky. They cam' in backside-foremost, upside-doon, lying alang the floor—ye never saw the like—until Sandy was near-hand at the swearin'. "Confoond thae Provosts and Bailies," says he, "I never saw sic a set."
"Ow, ow, Sandy," says I, "ye needna get angry at thae bodies; they're a' deid."
"Ay weel, we'll hae a whup at some o' the livin' anes," says Sandy. "Gie me up some o' thae slides in the green box," he cries to Nathan. "Whaur hae ye putten the Provosts an' the Bailies?"
"I have them a' in my breeks' pooch," says Nathan. "They're a' richt."
"An' whaur's the drunkard's liver?"
"O, I laid it on the boiler-heid, alang wi' Danyil an' some mair."
"See an' no' be mixin' them than," said Sandy, shovin' in another slide. "This, as you'll easily recognise, is Bailie Thingymabob."
The laddies gae the Bailie a roond o' applause, an' Bandy Wobster says, "Man, but he's awfu' indistink, Sandy. Ye can hardly mak' him oot."
"That's no' to be windered at," says Sandy. "I never fell in wi' onybody that cud mak' him oot. Ye canna expeck a magic lantern to do what ye canna do yersel'. It'll be a bad job for the Bailie, I can tell you, when fowk begin to mak' him oot. The next picture is Cooncillor Spinaway."
"Ay, I'll go doon the yaird an' hae a reek," says Bandy, gettin up frae his seat, an' settin' a' the loons a-lauchin'.
"Ye needna gae awa' i' the noo," says Dauvid. "Wait till you see the rest o' the pictures."
"Dinna mistak' yersel'," says Bandy in laich, "when that cove's gotten on his feet he'll no' sit doon for half an 'oor. I never saw him get up yet but he gae a'body mair than their sairin' o' sooage, an' main-drains, an' gas-warks, an' so on afore he feenisht. Wait till you see."
"Haud your haiverin' tongue," said Sandy. "Bliss your heart, he's in the magic lantern. He canna speak there."
"I daursay you're richt," says Bandy, clawin' his heid. "Weel, the Provost shud juist keep a magic lantern handy, an' gar him bide in't. That wud keep him quiet at the meetin's."
"We'll lat ye see a picture o' the whole Toon Cooncil, noo," said Sandy; an' in cam' the picture. "There's been some mair mixin' again," said Sandy, gey kankered like. "That's shurely no' the Toon Cooncil. What's number echteen, Nathan?"
"The pleg o' locusts in Egypt," says Nathan.
"Hoo's that gotten in there, ava?" says Sandy.
"O, they'd juist putten't amon' the ither plegs," brook in Bandy Wobster.
"Here's a very interestin' slide," says Sandy, as he put in the next picture. "This is a picture o' the deputation that waited on some o' the members o' the Toon Cooncil at lest election an' priggit wi' them to bide in, altho' they were awfu' anxious to hae dune wi't."
"That's like a picture o' a bunghole withoot a barrel roond it," said ane o' Dauvid's laddies.
"There's naebody there, Sandy," said Bandy Wobster.
"Ay, but that's the deputation tho'," said Sandy. "They're mibby inveesible, but that's them for a' that. The name's on the picture. You can look yersel', if you dinna believe me."
"Ay, Pepper's Ghost!" roars oot the Smith. "He waits on lots o' fowk aboot election times. He's juist a perfeck scunner, nominatin' fowk against their will, an' draggin' them into publicity when they wud far raither be kickin' up some ither kind o' a row."
He's an awfu' haiverin' body the Smith sometimes. When he's sensible, he's juist akinda ridic'lously sensible; an' when he's' no', he's juist as far the ither wey.
"Deputations is aye anonimous," says Sandy. "They aye turn up wi' a nomdy plum. It's juist the men's modesty that keeps them oot o' sicht. They pey a' their veesits throo the nicht, an' fient a cratur kens eechie or ochie aboot them. Man, I like modesty. I've a great respeck for a deputation that keeps oot o' sicht."
"C'wa wi' some mair pictures," roared some o' the laddies, an' Sandy's grand perrygrinashin ended a' o' a sudden.
"The next picture is a very interestin' ane," said Sandy, efter he'd gotten a breath. "This is ane o' the famous meal mobs. You see the crood o' men, sae, they're a' roarin' thegither. There's neen o' you loons 'ill mind o' the meal mobs," said Sandy, "but I mind o' them fine. A gey toon it was i' thae days. You'll notice the auld Toon-Clark i' the middle there, wi' his hands up, threatenin' to send for the pileece, an' a' the crood yalpin' at him like as mony dogs. I can tell you loons, ye may thank your stars that you wasna born when wey-o'-doin's like that was carried on i' the toon. You dinna ken naethin' aboot it. There's been naethin' like it i' the toon o' Arbroath sin'——"
"Hold on, Sandy," roared Nathan; "that's the wrang picture you have in again; here's the meal mob here. Look an' see what's on that ane."
"A Presbitree Meetin'!" read oot Sandy; an' you wudda thocht the Smith an' Bandy Wobster were genna ding doon the hoose wi' their noise an' roarin' an' lauchin'.
"I thocht they were gey black-lookin' gentry for a meal mob," says the Smith; an' Bandy nodded his heid an' leuch, an' says, "Man, Sandy's a perfeck genius as fac's ocht, I hinna heard onything like him."
I hinna time to tell you aboot a' the rest o' the exhibition. It was a treat in mair weys than ane. Sandy lut's see a lot o' notables like Mester Gladstone, an' Blind Hewie, an' Steeple Jeck, an' the Prince o' Wales, an' Burke an' Hair, an' the Jook o' Argile, an' Dykin Elshinder. But the crooner o' them a' cam' when Sandy says—"Noo, here's Snakimupo, the famous king o' the Cannibal Islands, an' his favourite squaw, that eats missionaries, an' Bibles, an' poopits whenever they can get a haud o' them"—an' in he shot—wha d'ye think? Juist Sandy an' me oorsels, life-size—ay, an' bigger!
"O, golly midgins!" says ane o' Dauvid's lassies, wi' her hands up, an' her moo an' her een wide open.
You never heard sic a riffin' as there was, the laddies a' roarin' "The King o' the Cannibal Islands," an' Sandy wirrin' like a perfeck terrier.
"That's some o' Robbie Boath's wark," he says in laich till himsel', wi' an awfu' girn on his face. "He gae me that picture special, an tell'd me the name o't, an' said to feenish wi't. But gin he disna get a stane o' diseased pitatties frae me the morn that'll mak' him onweel for a i'ortnicht, my name's no Si Bowden." Syne he added heich oot, "Noo, loons and lassockies, that's a'. It's aboot time you was toddlin' awa' hame noo; an' I howp you've a' enjoyed it."
Dauvid proposed a vote o' thanks to Sandy; an' you wudda thocht a' the steam-engines atween this an' Glesca had gotten into oor washin'-hoose, wi' their whistles on full-cock. The noise was something terriple. I had to pet my fingers in my lugs, an' rin.
SANDY AND THE RHUBARB TART.
Was ever a woman so provokit wi' a ramstam, dotrifeed gomeral o' a man? Sandy Bowden 'ill hae me i' my grave yet afore my time, as share's I'm a livin' woman. There's no' a closed e'e for me this nicht; an' there's Sandy awa' till his bed wi' his airms rowed up in bits o' an auld yellow-cotton apron o' Mistress Mikaver's mither's. Eh, sirce me; an' me was so happy no' mony 'oors syne!
We gaed awa' to hae a cup o' tea wi' Mistress Mikaver—that's the scone-baker's widow, ye ken. Her auldest laddie's been awa' oot amon' the Reed Indians, or some o' thae ither lang-haired, naked fowk 'at never wash themsel's; an' they say he's made a heap o' bawbees. He's a snod bit stockie—a little beld, an' bowd-leggit, an' wants a thoom. But, I'll swag, the young kimmers that were at the pairty didna see muckle wrang wi' him. There was as keen competition for him amon' the lassies as gin he'd been a gude-gaen public-hoose puttin' up for unction.
Me an' Sandy landed amon' the first o' the fowk. A'thing was richt snod, I assure ye. Mistress Mikaver had the stair noo whitened, an' every stap was kaumed an' sandit, ye never saw the like. An' there she was hersel' wi' her best black goon on, no' a smad to be seen on't, an' her lace kep an' beady apron. She was a dandy, an' nae mistak'.
Afore Sandy got up the stair he manished to mairter the feck o' his Sabbath claes wi' the whitenin'; an' I was akinda feard Mistress Mikaver micht mistak' him for the scone-baker's ghost. But we got him made gey snod, an' syne we gaed inby to the ben-hoose fireside, an' had a crack wi' young Aleck. That's the son's name. Sandy an' him got started aboot mustaings, an' Indeens, an' boomirangs, an' scoots an' ither scoondrils, till I cudna be deaved ony langer wi' their forrin blethers; so ben to but-the-hoose I gaed to hae a twa-handit crack wi' Aleck's mither.
When I opened the door, here's as mony lassies as wudda startit a noo mill. They'd been a' deckin' themsel's but-the-hoose afore they cam' ben to see Aleck, d'ye see? He made himsel' rale frank, an' speer'd for a' their mithers, an' a'thing; an' then we got roond the ben-hoose table, an' had a fine game at the totum for cracknets.
Sandy juist got gey pranky, as uswal, afore he was lang startit. He's aye the same when he gets amon' young lassies, the auld ass 'at he is.
"T tak's them a' but ane," he roared in the middle o' the game; an' he grippit up a nivfu' o' the crack-nets, an' into his moo wi' them. His een gaed up intil his heid, an' gin I hadna gien him a daud i' the back, that garred the nets flee oot o' his moo a' ower tha table, he'd been a chokit korp in a meenit or twa, juist as shure's the morn's Setarday.
But little did I think what was afore's! Gin I'd kenned, I'd latten him chok, the mairterin' footer 'at he is.
We a' gaed awa' doon the yaird aboot half-past seven, to see a noo henhouse 'at Aleck had been tarrin' that efternune. He maun be a handy earl, mind ye.
"Tak' care o' your frocks, for that tar's weet yet," says Aleck to the lassies.
"Ay, man, so it is," says Sandy, takin' a slaik o't aff wi' his fingers, an' syne dichtin't on the tail o' his sirtoo, the nesty character, 'at I shud say sic a wird!
"Man, Aleck," says Sandy, when we were a' on the green juist takin' a look roond aboot's, "it looks juist like the streen that you sat up 'on that very tree there, an' pappit Gairner Winton wi' oslins that you'd stealt ooten his ain gairden. I mind I was here when he cam' doon to tell your father aboot your ongaens. You was a wild tyke o' a laddie, I can tell ye. Your father gae you an awfu' paikin'; but fient a hair did you care. He wasna weel dune tannin' you when you was roarin' 'Hairy Grozers'—that was a by-name o' the Gairner's—in at Winton's shop door. You was a roid loon."
Aleck took a richt herty lauch at Sandy's blethers, an' the twa o' them were juist thick an' three-faud afore they were half-an-'oor thegither. Yet wudda thocht they'd kent ane anither sin' ever they were doakit.
Gin we cam' back, Aleck's mither had a fine supper a' ready on the table. She had a can'le here an' there, an' pucklies o' chuckinwirth an' persly scattered roond the rob-roys. It was awfu' nice. It would raley garred ye think ye was amon' braw fowk. I was juist sittin' admirin't when Aleck says, "Ay, then, are ye a' ready?"
We had to hover a blink till Mistress Mikaver ran ben the hoose for a knife to Mey Mershell.
"Mester Bowden 'ill say the grace noo," says Aleck; an' Sandy was on his feet like the shot o' a gun, hostin' to clear his throat. I dreedit he wud mak' a gutter o't somewey or ither, an' so I keepit my een open. Sandy shut his, an' so did a' the rest. He leaned forrit an' spread oot the muckle clunkers o' hands o' him on the tap o' the peat o' a big roobarb tert. "O Lord," was a' the len'th he'd gotten, when in he gaed, up near to the elbas amon' the het roobarb; an' by a' the skoilin' an' roarin' ever I heard, there never was the like! A gey grace it was, I can tell ye! It'll no' be the morn nor next day 'at I'll forget it. He roared an' yowled like I kenna what, an' black-gairded reed-het roobarb terts, till I thocht he wudda opened the very earth.
"O, haud your tongue, Sandy Bowden!" I cried, my very heid like to rive wi' his yalpin'.
"Haud my tongue?" says he. "Hoo can I haud my tongue, an' my airms stewin' amon' boilin' jeelie?"
Juist at this meenit Aleck aff wi' Sandy's coat syne he but the hoose wi' him an' garred him shove his airms ower the heid in his mither's floor pock. It deidened the pain in a wink, an' efter a whilie we got the airms rowed up. I cudna gae ben to bid the ither fowk guid-nicht, my hert was that sair; an' Sandy was hingin' his heid like a sick dog. Puir man, he has mibby mair than me to thole; but I wudda gien a five-pound note 'at I hadna left my ain hoose this nicht. I'll awa' to my bed, for my hert's perfeckly i' my moo.
THE GREAT STORM OF NOVEMBER, 1893.
Eh, sirce me, what a nicht we had on Setarday mornin'! O, haud your tongue! Though I should live lang eneuch to bury Sandy Bowden, an' hae a golden weddin' wi' my second man, I'll never forget it. It mak's me shaky-trimilly yet to think aboot it. Sandy's gaen aboot wi' a' the hair cut aff the back o' his heid, an' fower or five strips o' stickin' plester battered across his scawp. He got an awfu' mishap, puir man. I thocht his heid was a' to smash, but, fortunately, it turned oot fully harder than the biscuit tin it cam' into contact wi'.
It would be aboot ane o'clock or thereaboot when Sandy gae me a daud wi' his elba that garred me a' jump. I had an awfu' busy day on Friday; an' I was sleepin' as soond's a tap.
"'Oman," says he, "there's something fearfu' gaen on doon the yaird somewey. Wud that be the Dyed Wallop an' her man fechtin', or what i' the world's earth can it be? Harken, Bawbie! Did you ever hear sic yawlin'?"
"Bliss me, Sandy man," says I, "that's the wind soochin' throo the trees in the banker's gairden, an' fizzin' in amon' the pipes o' the water barrels. It's shurely an awfu' nicht o' wind."
Juist at this meenit you wudda thocht the very deevil himsel' had gotten grips o' the frame o' oor winda. He garred it rattle like the thunder at Hewy White's theatre; then he yawled, an' hooed, an' growled like five hunder cats an' as mony dogs wirryin' them, an' a' the fowk 'at echt them fechtin' at the same time. This feenisht up wi' a terrific yawl; an' Sandy dived doon in ablo the claes.
"Ye fear'd nowt," says I, "what are ye fleein' awa' doon there for? Ye'll hae my feet sterved to death wi' cauld. Lie up on your pillow an' lat the claes doon to the fit o' the bed."
For a hale strucken 'oor this gaed on, an' sometimes I akwilly thocht I fand the bed shakin'. Oor birdie (he hings at the winda) began to wheek-wheek wi' fear, an I wanted Sandy to rise an' tak' the puir cratur doon.
"The feint a-fear o' me," says he, the hertless skemp 'at he is. "If you want the canary i' the bed aside you, you can rise an' tak' him doon yersel'."
I raise an' took the puir craturie doon, an' hang him up on the ither side o' the room; an,' mind ye, ye wud raley thocht the bit beastie kent, for it gae a coodie bit cheep or twa, an juist cooered doon to sleep again. Juist as I was gaen awa' to screw doon the gas, it gae twa or three lowps, an' oot it gaed; an' afore I kent whaur I was, there was a reeshilin' an' rummelin' on the ruif that wudda nearhand fleggit the very fowk i' the kirkyaird. I floo to my bed, an' in aneth the claes, an' lay for a meenit or so expectin' the cuples wud be doon on the tap o's, an' bruze baith o's to pooder. Efter the rummelin' haltit, I fand aboot wi' my fit for Sandy; but he wasna there.