Spring holiday! Wheesht! I'll
no' forget it in a hurry, I can tell you. But I never saw't different.
Holidays are juist a perfeck scunner, as far as I've haen to do wi' them;
an' as for the rest--I'm shure I'm aye tireder efter a holiday than at the
tailend o' a hard day's wark. I'm juist a' sair the day wi' sittin' i' the
train; an' yesterday nicht I cud hardly move oot o' the bit, I was that
But I maun tell you the story frae the beginnin'. You've mibby heard me
speak aboot Meg Mortimer's mither that used to bide at The Drum. Meg's in a
big wey o' doin' noo in Edinboro; but I've seen the day, I'm thinkin'! Weel
div I mind when her mither flitted ower frae Powsoddie. She cam' along to
oor hoose to seek the len' o' twa kists, juist to gie her flittin' some
appearance on the cairts. Ay did she, noo-na-na! What think ye o' that? They
were as puir's I kenna what, an' mony a puckle meal did they get oot o' oor
girnil, for Dauvid Mortimer was a nice man, altho' he was terriple hudden
doon wi' the reums.
Weel, Meg gaed awa' to service, an' fell in wi' a weeda man wi' three o' a
faimly. I can ashure you there's nae tume kists in her hoose noo. She has a
big wey o' doin'. Her man's a kind o' heid pillydakus amon' a lot o' naveys,
makin' railroads, and main drains, an' so on. He's made a heap o' bawbees.
Mester Blair's his name. They bide in a big hoose doon about the Meadows in
Edinboro, an' they have a big servant, and twa dogs; forby a bit lassockie
to look efter the bairns.
Meg was throo seein' her fowk no' that lang syne, an' she wud hae me to
promise to come throo wi' Sandy an' see them. She wudna hae a na-say. She
was aye an awfu' tague for tonguein', Meg. I mind when she was but ten 'ear
auld, me, that was saxteen or seventeen 'ear aulder, cudna haud the can'le
till her. She was a gabbin' little taed. Weel, rizzen be't or neen, she fair
dang me into sayin' I wud come wi' Sandy an' see her at the spring holiday;
an' so we juist had to go.
Sandy gaed on juist like a clockin' hen a' Sabbath efternune an' nicht. He
had the upstairs bed lippin' fu' o' luggitch that he was thinkin' o' takin'
wi' him. A body wudda thocht he was settiu' aff for a crooze roond the North
Pole, instead o' on a veesit to Edinboro. He was rubbin' up his buits, an'
syne brethin' on them, an' rubbin' them up again, an' settin' himsel' back
an' lookin' at himsel' in them. He's a prood bit stockie, Sandy, mind ye,
when there's naebody lookin'. He had a' his goshore suit hung oot on the
backs o' chairs a' roond the hoose. It lookit like's there was genna be a
sale or a raffle or something.
He gaed doon to supper Donal' i' the forenicht, an' I took a dander awa'
doon ahent him, juist to get a moof'u' o' caller air. When I landit at the
stable door I heard Sandy speakin' to somebody. I took a bit peek in at the
winda, an' here's Sandy merchin' aboot wi' the horse cover tied up in a
bundle in ae hand, an' a stick i' the ither. He stoppit in the tume staw an'
laid doon his bundle rale smert like; syne he lookit ower the buird to Donal',
an' says, in an Englishy kind o' a voice, "Twa return tickets third-class
an' back to Edinboro!" I saw syne what he was at! He was practeesin' seekin'
the tickets at the station. Ow, ay; Sandy's like a' ither body! He's a gey
breezie carlie when he's awa' frae hame, an' his dickie on!
Sandy had his uswal argey-bargeyin' in the train, an' I thocht ae man an'
him, that cam' in at Carnoustie, wi' his wife, an' a pair o' nickerbucker
breeks on, was genna t'a' to the fechtin' a'thegither. An' faigs, Sandy
snoddit him geylies afore we got to Dundee.
There was a lot o' men' an' loons staiverin' aboot Carnoustie playin' at the
gowf; an' Sandy says--"Look at thae jumpin'-jecks o' craturs wi' their reed
jeckets on, like as mony organ-grinders' monkeys, rinnin' aboot wi' their
bits o' sticks, wallopin' awa' at Indeen-rubber ba's. Puir craturs!"
Man, the chappie wi' the nickerbuckers got up in an awfu' pavey, an'
misca'ed Sandy for a' the vagues--you never heard the like!
"Look ye hear, my bit birkie," says Sandy, gien a gey wild-like wink wi' his
richt e'e, "you speak when ye're spoken till! I dinna bather mysel' wi'
paper-mashie peeriewinkles like the likes o' you; but if you gi'e me ony o'
your sma' chat, man, I'll tak' an' thrapple you wi' that
fowerpence-happeny-the-dizzen paper collar ye've roond the wizand o' ye."
"Wud ye?" said the Carnoustie birkie, jumpin' till his feet.
The train gae a shoag juist at that meenit, an' he gaed doit ower on the tap
o' Sandy, and brocht a tin box doish doon on his heid. He got a gey tnap, I
can tell you. Sandy keepit his temper something winderfu', an' he juist
quietly set doon Nickerbucker Tammie on the seat an' says, "Ay, loonie;
juist you sit still there till your mither gie's your nose a dicht, an' ties
your gartins; an' you'll get a piece an' jeely on't when the trainie stops."
You never heard sic lauchin' as there was; an' Sandy's frien' lookit as gin
he'd haen a dram, an' gotten an awfu' dose o' cauld. He didna say "guid-mornin'"
when he gaed oot at the Toy Brig Station.
Sandy had twa-three mair pliskies atween Dundee an' Edinboro, but I hinna
time to tell you o' them. Peety the man that starts to write Sandy's
beebliographie. If he tells the hale truth, eksettera, he'll hae a gey job.
The faimly Bible 'ill be like a heym-book aside the volum. They'll need to
get up early i' the mornin' that reads Sandy's life, I tell you. The man
that writes it 'ill never win to his bed ava.
Weel-a-weel, we landit at Edinboro, an Meg was waitin's, an' as mony bairns
wi' her as wudda startit a raggit schule--although they were a' braw an'
snod, I ashure ye.
"Keep me, Meg," said Sandy, efter he'd shaken hands wi' her, "is thae a'
your litlans? Dod, sic a cleckin!"
The ass that he is! I saw Meg chowl her chafts gey angry like, an' I took
Sandy a doish i' the back wi' my umberell. "Say Mistress Blair, ye ill-mennered
whaup atyar," says I in his lug; an' he gleyed roond at me, an' says, wi'
anither o' his vegabon'-like winks, "Ay; that's Wattie Scott's monniment,
Bawbie. A great man, Wattie! It was him 'at wret Bailie Nickil Jarvie an'
the Reed Gauntlet an' so on. He bade a fortnicht wi' Luckie Walker at
Auchmithie. Bandy Wobster's grandfather sell'd him a dog when he was there.
He was a fine man, Wattie."
Meg an' the bairns an' me gaed into the cab, an Sandy, he wud be up on the
dickey aside the driver. As I cudda tell'd afore he gaed up, he wasna there
five meenits when he was nearhand at the fechtin' wi' the man aboot the wey
he drave his horse. I was gled when we landit at Meg's hoose, for I was
expectin' ilky meenit to see the cabby--he was an ill-faur'd, rossen-faced
lookin' tyke--fling Sandy heels-ower-heid into the cab amon' the bairns--he
was black-gairdin' the man's horse for an auld, hunger'd reeshil, an'
praisin' up Donal' that terriple!
"Man, you've juist to lay the reinds on's back, an' he's awa' like the
wind," I heard him sayin'. "There's naething a' roond aboot can touch him.
He can trot up the High Road wi' sasteen hunderwecht. He's a reg'lar topper!
You should send that hunger'd-lookin' radger o' yours to Glesterlaw"; an' so
on he gaed, an' the man girnin' an' skoolin' at him like a teegar.
When we cam' aff at the Meadows, Sandy gaed roond aboot the beast, chucklin'
awa' till himsel' juist like watter dreepin' intil a tume cistern; but he
keepit oot o' the reach o' the cabby's kornals. I expeckit to see him get
roond the linders wi' them for his impidence.
"If you cam' to Arbroath wi' the like o' that, the Croolty to Animals wud
grip you afore you was weel through the toll," he says to the man. "You'll
better g'wa' hame wi't as lang's it's het. If you lat that sharger cule,
it'll stiffen up, an' you'll never get it oot o' the bit, till you bring a
The cabby got his bawbees frae Meg, an' drave awa', gien Sandy a glower like
a puttin' bull; but Sandy juist gae a bit lauch, an' cried, "Ta-ta!"
We got into the house. Eh, sic a place for stech! Haud your tongue! Really
yon fair sneckit a'thing. Sandy could hardly get his hat aff for glowerin'
aboot him; an' when he did get it aff, he handit it to ane o' the loons;
an', afore you cudda sen Jeck Robison, they were oot at the back door scorin'
goals wi't throo' atween the claes-poles on the green. Meg was at the
hurdies o' them wi' a switch gey quick, an' sune had Sandy's lum hingin'
aside his greatcoat in the lobby.
We wasna lang set doon when in cam' Meg's man. A brisk-lookin' fellah he is,
I can tell you. He shook hands wi's as hearty's though we'd come to gie him
a job; an' in five meenits, tooch, you wudda thocht Sandy an' him had never
been sindered sin' they got on their first daidles. I'll swag, Meg's fa'in
on hex feet, an' nae mistak'!
I'm shure I'm no complainin', but Sandy Bowden's been an unsatisfaktory man
in mony weys; but, as the Bible says, we've a' a dwang o' some kind, an' if
I hadna gotten Sandy, weel, I michta haen a drucken son, or a licht-heided
dauchter. Wha can tell? We've a' a hankie mair than we deserve, nae doot. I
ken I have onywey; but that's nether here nor there.
We were sittin' enjoyin' a crack, an' lookin' oot at the windas, watchin'
the bairns in their coaches, an' the birds fleein' aboot as happy as
crickets, huntin' for wirms amon' the young girss.
"The Meadows look very pretty i' the noo," said Mester Blair. "The very
birds enjoy the fresh green grass."
"They do that," put in Sandy. "It's a treat to see them, puir things. They
are fond o' a bittie o' onything green. I tak' a bit dander oot the bunkers
on a Sabbath mornin' whiles for a pucklie chuckin-wirth to Dickie, an' you
wud really think the cratur kent. He gleys doon when I come in, as much as
to say, 'C'way wi't, Sandy; I ken fine you have't in your pooch!'"
"Bawbie here winna believe me," continued Sandy, gien Mester Blair a wink,
"but I've tell'd her twa-three times that when I've gane doon the yaird i'
the winter-time wi' my auld greatcoat--it's gettin' very green noo, but it
was a bit guid stuff aince in its day--the birds 'ill come fleein' doon an'
sit on the palin' aside me, an' wheetle-wheetle awa' for a whilie. It's
queer; but that's the effek the green appears to hae on them."
Mester Blair leuch till I thocht he wudda wranged himsel'. A richt hearty
laucher he is. The lauch gaed a' ower him, an' you could hardly sen futher
it was comin' oot o' his moo or his baits, there was that muckle o't.
Syne Sandy an' him got on to the crack aboot the tattie trade, an' you wudda
thocht Sandy was genna tak' him in for a pairtner, he had that muckle to
"An' do you do much wi' the Americans?" said Mester Blair.
"I do a' their trade," said Sandy. "There's only three o' them buys tatties
in Arbroath noo. The ither twa's gey queer that wey; they get a'thing
preserved in tins, frae aboot London they tell me."
Mester Blair didna appear to understand Sandy, an' he speered, "Do you get
cash again' Billy Lowden; or hoo d'ye get peyment?"
"If the bawbees is no' at the back o' the cairt, up goes the bawk, an' Donal'
ca's awa," says Sandy. "Na, na, neen o' your Billy Lowden tick for me. I
believe in the ready clink."
"Oh, I see," said Mester Blair. "You get cash at the ship's side. That is
the safe plan."
"As you say," said Sandy, "that's exakly Bandy Wobster's wey o' pettin't. I
believe in the bawbees afore the tatties leave the back door o' the cairt.
Short accounts mak' lang freends."
"Do you do onything wi' the Continent ava?" said Meg's man.
"I travel a' ower the toon," said Sandy, "frae Tootles Nook to Culloden, an'
frae the Skemels to Cairnie Toll. It disna maitter a doakan to me wha I sell
till. Seven pund to the half-steen, an' cash doon--thae's my principles; the
same price, and the game turn o' the bawk, to gentle and simple. When the
champions are gude I can manish twa load i' the day fine, an' if the disease
keeps oot amon' them, they pey no that ill."
Meg's man gey a kind o' a whistle in laich, an' I saw fine syne whaur he had
tint himsel'. Meg had tell'd him Sandy was a tattie merchant, an' he'd been
thinkin' Sandy had a big wey o' doin', an' sell'd tatties in shiploads an'
so on. I saw the whole thing in a blink, but never lut wink, an' Sandy was
fient a hair the better or the waur o' Meg's man's mistak'.
We got a grand denner--something specific. "This is a kind o' a haiver o'
buff, Mistress Blair," said Sandy, when we got set doon; but I gae him a
kick throo ablo the table that garred him tak' his tongue atween his teeth.
I needna tell you aboot a' we got to eat; Sandy ate that hearty that he gaed
oot to the simmer-seat efter, an' cud hardly steer oot o' the bit for half
an 'oor. Really ilky thing was better than anither, an' we feenished up wi'
ice-cream. Sandy took a gullar o't afore he kent, an' I think he thocht he
was brunt, for he nippit up the water bottle, an' took a sweech o' cauld
watter, an' then gae a pech like's he'd come ooten a fit. He was a' richt
efter a whilie, but the cratur had over-eaten himsel', an' he was gey uneasy
Efter we got oor tea, Meg got the bairns a' beddit, an' then her an' her
man, an' me an' Sandy set aff for the theater. It was a terriple grand
theater, wi' as muckle gold hingin' roond aboot as wud mak' a' the puir fowk
in Arbroath millionaires. We got a grand seat, an' a'thing gaed richt till
near the feenish.
Mester Blair had what they ca' an opera gless wi' him, an' he handed it to
me to look throo. Sandy in wi' his hand intil his greatcoat pooch, an' oot
wi' his spygless, a great lang thing' like a barber's pole, that he wan at a
raffle at the Whin Inn. There was a chappie deein' on the stage. He'd stuck
himsel' wi' his soord, because a lassie wudna mairry him, an' he was juist
lyin' tellin' a' the fowk aboot crooil weemin, an' peace in the grave, an'
a'thing, when Sandy cockit up his spygless to hae a glower at him afore he
gae his henmist gasp.
I saw the chappie gien a kind o' a fear'd-like start, syne he sprang till
his feet an' roared, "Pileece, pileece! there's an anarkist an' a feenyin's
bom in the theater," an' took till his heels aff the stage.
You never saw sic a wey o' doin'. You speak aboot peace in the grave. There
wasna muckle peace in the theater. We was a' winderin' what was ado, an'
Sandy was busy peekin' roond wi' his spygless, when twa bobbies cam' fleein'
anower an' grippit him an' roared till him to sirrender. I can tell you, he
nearhand sirrendered ane o' the bobbies wi' the spygless. If it hadna been
for Mester Blair gettin' a haud o' the wechty end o't, there wudda been a
noo helmet, an' mibby a new bobby needed in Edinboro.
The row was a' ower in five meenits, when Mester Blair explen'd things; but
if he hadna been wi's, I'm dootin' it wudda been a job. There was ane o' the
great muckle dosent nowts o' bobbies cam' an' gowpit in my face, an' says, "D'ye
think this ane's a woman?" I fand in ahent's for my umberell; but my chappie
gaed his wa's gey quick, or I'd gien him the wecht o't across his nose. It
was a gey-like wey o' doin' aboot naething; but efter we got hame an' had
oor supper we forgot a' aboot it, an' spent a very happy 'oor or twa afore
we gaed to oor beds.