There's been great
gaitherin's in oor washin'-hoose this while back--"Nochties-an'-Broziana,"
Bandy Wobster ca'd the meetin's to Sandy. The ither Wedensday i' the
forenicht--the shop was shut i' the efternune, of coorse; I'm a great
believer i' the half-holiday, you see. I think it's a capital idea. It gi'es
a body a kind o' a breath or twa i' the middle o' the week, an' it pits
naebody aboot. The fowk juist come for their things afore you shut. It disna
mak' a hair o' difference. If you didna open ava, they wud juist come the
Weel, but, as I was sayin', the ither Wedensday nicht I flang my shallie
ower my heid, an' took a stap oot at the back door i' the gloamin'. It was a
fine nicht, an' I sat doon on the simmer-seat at the gavel o' the
washin'-hoose, an' heard the argey-bargeyin' gaen on inside. I stuid up an'
lookit in at the bolie winda, juist abune whaur the skeels sit, an' here was
Sandy an' his cronies a' busy crackin' an' smokin', an enjoyin' themselves i'
the middle o' a great steer o' reek an' noise.
Juist as I lookit in, Bandy Wobster said something to Dauvid Kenawee, an'
Dauvid raise, an' takin' his pipe oot o' his moo, says, "Order! I pirpose
Mester Wobster to the chair."
"Hear, hear," said a' the rest; an' wi' that Bandy got up on the boiler-heid
on his belly, an' turnin' roond, sat wi' the legs o' him hingin' ower the
front o' the boiler, juist like a laddie sittin' on the dyke at the Common.
Watty Finlay, the weaver, shuved anower a tume butter kit for Bandy to set
his feet on, an' then a'body sat quiet, juist like's something was genna
Bandy took a bit tarry string, or tabaka or something, ooten his breeks
pooch, an', nippin' aff a quarter o' a yaird o't, he into his moo wi't. Syne
he swallowed a spittal, an' said--"Freends an' fella ratepeyers." Bandy
never pey'd rates in's life. He bides in a twa-pound garret i' the Wyndies,
an' hardly ever peys rent, lat aleen rates. "Freends an' fella ratepeyers,"
Bandy was stan'in' up on the boddom o' the butter kit gin this time, an' a'
the billies were harkenin' like onything.
"Freends an' fella ratepeyers," says Bandy again. "See gin that door's on
the sneck, Sandy, an' dinna lat the can'le blaw oot."
Sandy raise an' put to the door, an' set the can'le alang nearer Bandy a
bit, an' then sat doon i' the sofa again.
"I hinna muckle to say," says Bandy. Bandy was brocht up in Aiberdeen, you
ken, an' he has whiles a gey queer wey o' speakin'. "I hinna very muckle to
say, you ken," says he, "an' konsequently, I'll no' say very muckle."
"Hear, hear," roared Watty Finlay.
"The Toon Cooncil elections is leemin' in the distance," continued Bandy,
"an', as ceetizens o' the Breetish Empyre, we maun look oot for fit an'
proper persons to reprisent the opinions o' the democracy in the Hoose
o'--in the Toon Hoose, an' on the Police Commission. Gentlemen----"
This garred a' the billies sit back in their seats, an' dicht their moos wi'
their jeckit sleeves, an' host. Watty Finlay nearhand cowpit ower the bucket
he was sittin' on; but he got his balance again, an' sayin', "Ay, man,"
heich oot, he got a' richt sattled doon again.
"Gentlemen," says Bandy, "the time for action draws at hand. Oor watter is
no fit for ki drinking; an' there's fient a thing but watter in the weet
dock. My heart bleeds when I go roond the shore an' see all the ships sailin'
oot o' the herbir, an' no' a livin' sowl comin' in. Gentlemen, that herbir's
growin' a gijantic white elephant."
"An' so's the Watter Toor, an' the Lifeboat too," roared Dauvid Kenawee.
"The toon's foo o' white elephants, a' colours," said Moses Certricht. "The
Toon Cooncil's made it juist like a wild beast show."
"Hear, hear," cried the whole lot; an' Stumpie Mertin, gettin' a little
excited, roared "Order," an' set them a' a-lauchin'.
"Gentlemen," said Bandy again, "it's as plen's a pikestaff that a' oor
municeepal affairs is clean gaen to the deevil a'thegither; an' I have much
"Hear, hear," said Watty Finlay, "he's the very man." There was a bit lauch
at this, an' Watty added, "I mean Sandy, of coorse--no' the deevil 'at Bandy
was speakin' aboot."
"I was genna say," said Bandy, "when I was interrupit by the honourable
"O, gie's a rest," said Watty; an' Bandy had to begin again.
"I was genna say," he said, "that we maun get a hand o' a puckle men o'
abeelity an' straucht-forritness, an' I have much pleasure in proposin' a
vote of thanks to oor worthy freend, Mester Bowden, for comin' forrit to
abolish the Toon Cooncil o' every rissim o' imposeeshin, till taxation shall
vanish into oblivion, an' be a thing o' the past. Mester Bowden is a
"Hear, hear," says Watty again.
"Mester Bowden is a man that will never do onything----"
"Hear, hear," Watty stricks in again. He juist yatter-yattered awa' like a
parrot a' the time.
"Onything below the belt," proceeded Bandy. "Give him your votes, gentlemen.
I can recommend him. Sandy--I mean Mester Bowden, will stick to his post
like Cassybeeanka, or whatever they ca'd the billie that was brunt at the
battle o' the Nile. He'll no' be like some o' them that, like Ralph the
An' scoored the sea for mony a day.
Gentlemen, let everywan here do his very best to
get every elektor to vote for Sandy, Mester Bowden, the pop'lar candidate.
Up wi' him to the tap o' the poll!"
Bandy cam' doon wi' his tackety buit on the boddom o' the butter kit, an' in
it gaed, an' him wi't, an' there he was, clappin' his hands, an' stanin'
juist like's he'd on a wid crinoline. You never heard sic a roostin' an'
roarin' an' hear-hearin' an' hurrain'! I had to shut my een for fear o' bein'
knokit deaf a'thegither. Stumpie Mertin jumpit up as spruce as gin he had
baith his legs, instead o' only ane, an' forgettin' whaur he was, he
glowered a' roond the wa' an' says, "Whaur's the bell, lads?"
It was Sandy's turn noo; an' efter Dauvid Kenawee, auld Geordie Steel, an'
Moses Certricht had gotten the chairman pu'd oot o' the butter kit, an' on
to the boiler-heid again, Sandy raise ooten his seat wi' a look on his face
like a nicht watchman. They a' swang their airms roond their heids, an'
hurraed like onything, an' Sandy took lang breaths, an' lookit roond him as
gin he was feard some o' them wud tak' him a peelik i' the lug.
When they quieted doon, Sandy gae a host, an' Watty Finlay said, "Hear,
"Fella elektors," said Sandy, "let me thank you for your cordial reception."
Sandy had haen that ready aforehand, for he said her aff juist like "Man's
Chief End." Syne he lifted his fit an' put it on the edge o' the sofa. He
rested his elba on his knee, an' his chin on his hand, an' lookit quite at
hame, like's he'd been accustomed addressin' meetin's a' his born days.
"I think oor worthy chairman spoke ower high aboot my abeelity," said Sandy;
"but as far as lies in my pooer, I will never budge from my post, but stand
firm." At this point, Sandy's fit slippit aff the edge o' the sofa, an' he
cam' stoit doon an' gae Moses Certricht a daud i' the lug wi' the croon o'
his heid, that sent Moses' heid rap up again' Dauvid Kenawee's.
"What i' the world are ye heavin' aboot that heid o' yours like that for?"
said Dauvid, glowerin' like a wild cat at Moses: an' Bandy kickit his heels
on the front o' the boiler, an' roared, "Order, gentlemen. Respeck the
I was juist away to cry--"Ye micht respeck my boiler, raither, an' no' kick
holes i' the plester wi' thae muckle clunkers o' heels o' yours"; but I
keepit it in.
Sandy got himsel' steadied up again, an' pulled doon his weyscot, syne gae
his moo a dicht, an' buttoned his coat. I cud see fine that he was tryin' to
keep up the English; but it wasna good enough. "I am no' a man o' learnin',"
said Sandy. "I'm a wirkin' man, an' if I tak' up my heid wi' publik affairs,
it's 'cause I've naething else ado, and it'll keep me oot o' langer. As oor
respeckit chairman says, I'm no' like Ralph the Rover, sailin' awa' an'
scoorin' the sea for mony a day. That looks like a pure weyst o' soap--juist
like what goes on i' the Toon Cooncil daily-day. You may lauch, freends, but
it's ower true; an' wha is't peys for't?"
"It's his! It's his, lads!" roared a' the billies i' the washin'-hoose.
"It is so," said Sandy. "Oor Toon Cooncil's juist like this Ralph the Rover,
gaen awa' scoorin' the sea for nae end--for the sea's no' needin' scoorin'--when
he michta been at hame helpin' his wife to ca' the washin'-machine. It's
usef'u' wark we want. Neen o' your Bailie Thingymabob's capers, wi' his
donkey engines, eksettera. Echt thoosand pound for a noo kirkyaird! Did ye
ever hear the like! What aboot the grand view you get? A puckle o' thae
Cooncillors crack as gin they were genna pet bow-windas into a' the graves,
to lat ye hae a grand view efter you was buried. Blethers o' nonsense!
That's juist what I ca' scoorin' the sea like Ralph the Rover."
By faigs, lads, Sandy garred me winder gin this time. Ye never heard hoo he
laid it into them, steekin' his nivs an' layin' aboot him wi' his airms.
"Echt thoosand pound!" he roars again. "That's seven shillin's the heid--man,
woman, and bairn i' the toon o' Arbroath. What d'ye think o' that? But
that's no' a'. There's the toon's midden, too; that's needin' a look intil."
"Hear, hear," put in Watty as uswal; an' Bandy added, "It has muckle need,
as my nose can tell ye."
"What d'ye think o' a midden i' the very middle o' your toon?" Sandy gaed
on. "I paws for an answer," he said in a gravedigger's kind o' a voice. He
crossed his legs ower ane anither, an' put ane o' his hands in ablo the
tails o' his coat; an', gettin' akinda aff his balance, he gaed spung up
again' Bandy Wobster. There was a crunch an' a splash, an' there was the
chairman's bowd legs stickin' up oot o' the boiler, an' his face lookin'
throo atween his taes, wi' a pair o' een like a wild cat. He was up to the
neck amon' the claes I had steepin' for the morn's washin'. The nesty footer
that he was, I cudda dune I kenna what till him.
"Ye great, big, clorty, tarry beast," I roared in at the winda; "come oot
amon' my claes this meenit, or I'll come in an' kin'le the fire, an' boil
ye." Sandy bloo oot the can'le; an' by a' the how-d'ye-does ever was heard
tell o', you niver heard the marrow o' yon. Stumpie Mertin roared "Order!
Feyre!" at the pitch o' his voice; an' the chairman was yowlin', "For ony
sake, gie's a grip o' some o' your hands till I get oot o' this draw-wall,
or I'm a deid man."
I think he had gotten haud o' a shelf abune his heid, an' giein' himsel' a
poo up; for there was a most terriple reeshel o' broken bottles, an' beef
tins, an' roarin' an' swearin', you never heard the like.
"What i' the face o' the earth was ye doin' blawin' oot the can'le, Sandy?"
said Dauvid Kenawee. "Hold on a meenit till I strik' a spunk, an' see wha's
a' deid," he says; an' wi' that he strak' a match an' lichtit the can'le.
Bandy had gotten himsel' akinda warsled oot o' the boiler, but Stumpie
Mertin had tnakit his wid leg ower by the ankle, an' there he was hawpin'
aboot, gaen bobbin' up an' doon like a rabbit's tail, roarin' "Murder!"
"I think we'll better lave ower the rest o' the meetin' till anither nicht,"
said Moses Certricht, "an' we can look into the toon's midden some ither
"Juist tak' a look roond aboot ye," says I, in at the winda, "an' ye'll see
midden eneuch. Wha's genna clean up that mairter? I paws for a answer," says
I, in a voice as like Sandy's bural-society wey o' speakin' as I cud manish.
"Speak aboot pettin' Sandy Bowden at the tap o' the poll. He'll be mair use
at the end o' the bissam shaft, I'm thinkin'."
"C'wey, you lads," says Bandy. "I'm soakin' dreepin' throo an' throo, an'
it's time I was oot o' this."
"Hear, hear," says Watty again; an' oot the entry they a' merched withoot a
wird. If I'm no mista'en that'll be the end o' Sandy's Toon Cooncillin'; an'
time till't, I think. The man's no' wyse to think aboot ony sic thing.
Sandy an' me were oot the Sands enjoyin' a bit walk juist yesterday
efternune, an' we were dreedfu' quiet. There didna appear to be onything to
speak aboot ava. So I juist said in a kind o' jokey wey, "Ay, Sandy, an' hae
ye seen the Ward Committee yet, laddie, aboot that Toon Cooncil bisness."
As shure's ocht, he grew reed i' the face; but he got richt efter a whilie,
an' he says, "We're genna be like the Skule Brod efter this, Bawbie. We'll
hae oor meetin's in private, an' juist lat you an' the publik ken aboot bits
o' things ya can mak' naething o'. D'ye see? If ye pet your nose in aboot
ony bolies harkenin', you'll mibby get the wecht o' a bissam shaft on the
end o't. That'll learn ye to slooch an' harken to ither fowk's bisness."
"Keep me!" says I, I says. "Ye're terriple peppery the nicht, Sandy. Wha's
been straikin' you against the hair, cratur? It wasna me that shuved Bandy i'
the boiler; but he'd been neen the waur o' a bit steep, for he trails aboot
a clorty-like sicht. Him speak aboot the watter supply! It's no' muckle he
kens aboot the watter supply, or the soap supply ether."
"Look here, Bawbie," says Sandy, "if you're genna rag me ony mair aboot
that, it's as fac's ocht, I'll rin awa' an' join the mileeshie. I wud
raither be blawn into minch wi' an' echty-ton gun than stand ony mair o'
"Tut, tut, Sandy," says I, "keep on your dickie, man. Ye're no' needin' to
get into a pavey like that. Keep me, fowk wud think ye was discussin' the
auld kirk questin, the wey you're roarin'. The mileeshie wudna hae you at
ony rate, an' we're no' juist dune wi' ye at hame yet. But neist time you're
makin' a speech, Sandy, dinna try an' stand on ae leg. That's what put ye
aff the straucht. Ye see----"
I lookit roond, an' Sandy wasna there. When I turned, here's him fleein' in
the Sands wi' his fingers in his lugs, like spring-heeled Jeck. I tell ye,
that man winna heed a single wird I say till him.