"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
"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
"By faigs, Sandy," says I, "that's waur than exy-oey yet. What was't you
"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
"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
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.