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My Man Sandy
Chapter IV. 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.


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