On one occasion, however,
it happened that Walter found it inconvenient to accompany Dick on a
certain predatory expedition of high promise, of which the latter had
given him the hint; and Dick was therefore under the necessity of going
alone. This he did; and the result, after all, was most satisfactory. He
secured a score of excellent, well-conditioned sheep. These, Dick drove
homewards during the night, from a distance of a good many miles; but,
notwithstanding all the expedition he could use, morning threatened to
break upon him before he could reach his own house; and in this dilemma,
he determined, though not without much reluctance, to quarter them with
his friend Walter, whose domicile lay in the way, until the following
It was with great
reluctance, as we have said, that Dick came to this resolution; for he had
sore misgivings with regard to their safety in Walter’s
possession—in other words, he by no means felt sure that he would ever get
them out of his hands again, as he had the highest opinion of his friend’s
ingenuity in appropriating other people’s goods, and of his tenacity in
holding them when once in his grasp, whether they belonged to friend or
foe. But on this occasion, there was no other course left him; so he
deposited the sheep with Walter, who congratulated him on his success, and
promised to keep them snug and safe for him till he came for them on the
On the following night,
Dick came and demanded his sheep.
"Sheep!" exclaimed Walter,
with well-affected astonishment. "What sheep, Dicky, my man, do ye mean?"
"What sheep, Watty, do I
mean?" said Dick, in real amazement. "The sheep I left wi’ ye last night,
to be sure."
"Sheep ye left wi’ me,
Dicky!" replied Walter. "The deil a cloot o’ sheep o’ yours ever I saw.
The man’s gite!"
"Are ye in jest or earnest,
Watty?" inquired Dick, with increased amazement.
"Never was mair in earnest
in my life," said Watty, coolly.
"Do you mean to deny that I
left a score o’ sheep wi’ ye last night, and that ye promised to keep them
safe for me till I cam for them? Do ye mean to deny that?" said Dick,
"Most stoutly," replied
Watty, with the utmost composure. "I canna confess to what’s no
true. My conscience forbids me to do that. I haena now, nor ever had a
tail belanging to ye, Dick."
"And ye mean to stan’ by
that, through thick and thin?" said Dick, with one of the blankest looks
imaginable; for he saw that his sheep were gone gear.
"That I do," replied the
other. "Tak my word for that. The deil a sheep yese get frae me on ony sic
silly pretence as that ye hae mentioned."
By this time, Dick had
recovered a little; and, moreover, by this time, also, a bright idea had
"Vera weel, Watty—vera weel,"
he said with a sudden cheerfulness of manner, that not a little surprised
Watty himself: "you and I’ll no quarrel about twa or three sheep. Keep
them, in gude’s name, and muckle grid may they do ye!" And during the
short time that the friends remained together, subsequently, Dick made no
further allusion to the sheep, but spoke on indifferent matters, as if
nothing whatever had happened.
For some weeks after this,
matters went on with the two friends precisely as before. They went on
several expeditions together, and were, to all appearance, on as friendly
terms as ever; neither of them making the slightest allusion to the small
matter of the sheep that was between them. About the end of this period,
however, Dick again appeared, one morning early, at Walter’s door, with
another score of sheep, and besought a similar favour with that he had
asked on the former occasion—namely, that Walter would quarter them till
the following night. With this request, the latter readily complied. But,
on this occasion, Dick was accompanied by two or three assistants of the
same kidney with himself, who counted over the sheep in Walter’s presence,
and saw them delivered to him.
On the following evening,
Dick called for, and at once obtained his sheep, for there had been
witnesses to the delivery; and Watty, aware of this, did not attempt a
denial, as he had done before, as he felt such a proceeding would endanger
his reputation with the craft.
Having got possession of
his sheep, Dick bade his friend good night, and went rejoicing on his way.
Next night, however, Dick
again called on his friend, Watty, and carefully concealing all expression
of consciousness of having been there on the preceding evening, demanded
his sheep over again.
"Your sheep, Dick!" said
Watty, in amazement. "Did ye no get them a’, every tail, last night?"
"Sheep ye delivered to me,
Watty!" said Dick, with imperturbable gravity. "Deil a cloot ye gae me,
last night. The man’s gite."
"Come now, ye’re jokin’,
Dicky," exclaimed Walter, with a most rueful expression of countenance.
"Never was mair in earnest
in my life," replied Dick.
"What! do ye mean to deny
that I gied ye a score o’ sheep, last night?"
"Most stoutly," answered
his persevering, immovable, and determined assailant. "I canna confess to
what’s no true. It would gang against my conscience. Whar’s yer witnesses
that I got the sheep? Ye’ve nane; while I can prove that I put a score
under yer charge, last night, and ye canna shew that they’ve been returned
to me. Thae sheep, therefore, Watty, I still claim; and if ye refuse them,
I’ll expose ye, and ye’ll lose a’ credit wi’ the craft. Sae, freen, just
gie me up another score, without mair ado, and then you and I’ll be quits,
and no a bit waur freens than ever we war."
Wat o’ the Dykes saw at
once that he was in a dilemma—that Dick’s ingenuity had fairly reversed
their relative positions, and that he must refund. On this fact becoming
evident to him, he thought for a moment, then burst out a laughing, in his
friend’s face, and confessed that he was "clean dune for." This admission
he followed up by restoring Dick’s sheep to him, and it was never
understood that this little breach of confidence had the slightest
injurious effect on the sincere friendship which subsisted between the two