Weel, I'll tell ye what it
is, an' what it's no'--I thocht the ither nicht that Sandy had gotten to the
far end o' his ongaens. If ever a woman thocht she was genna hae to don her
weeda's weeds, it was me. I never expeckit to see Sandy again, till he was
brocht in on the police streetchin' buird. But I'll better begin my story at
the beginnin'. What needs I care whuther fowk kens a' aboot it, or no'? I've
been black affrontit that often, I dinna care a doaken noo what happens.
I've dune my best to be a faithfu' wife; an' I'm shure I've trauchled awa'
an' putten up wi' a man that ony ither woman wudda pushon'd twenty 'ear syne!
But that's nether here nor there.
Weel, to get to my story. Aboot a week syne I was busy at the back door,
hingin' oot some bits o' things, an', hearin' some din i' the back shop, I
took a bit glint in at the winda. Fancy my surprise, when here's Sandy i'
the middle o' the flure garrin' his airms an' legs flee like the shakers o'
Robbie Smith's "deevil."
"What i' the earth is he up till noo?" says I to mysel'. He stoppit efter a
whilie, an' syne my lad quietly tnaks twa raw eggs on the edge o' a cup, an'
doon his thrapple wi' them. He brook up the shalls into little bitties an'
steered them in amon' the ase, so's I wudna see them. Atower to the middle
o' the flure he comes again, an', stridin' his legs oot, he began to garr
first the tae airm an' syne the tither gae whirlin' roond an' roond like the
fly wheel o' an engine. It mindit me o' the schule laddies an' their
bummers. Weel, than; I goes my wa's into the hoose.
"Ay, it's a fine thing an egg, Sandy," says I; "especially twa." I turned
roond to the dresser-heid, no' to lat him see me lauchin'--for I cudna keep
it in--an' pretendit to be lookin' for something.
"It is so, Bawbie," says he; an' I noticed him i' the lookin'-gless pettin'
his thoom till his nose. I whiskit roond aboot gey quick, an' he drappit his
hands like lichtnin', an' began whistlin' "Tillygorm."
"I've heard it said," says I, "that a raw egg's gude for a yooky nose."
"You're aye hearin' some blethers," says he; "but there's Robbie Mershell i'
the shop"; an' but he ran to sair him.
I kent fine there was something up, so I keepit my lugs an' een open, but it
beat me to get at the boddom o't. Pottie Lawson, Bandy Wobster, an' Sandy
have juist been thick an' three faud sin the Hielant games toornament, an' I
kent fine there was some pliskie brooin' amon' them. They've hardly ever
been oot o' the washin'-hoose, them an' twa-three mair. Great, muckle,
hingin'-aboot, ill-faured scoonges, every ane o' them! I tell ye, Sandy
hasna dune a hand's turn for the lest week, but haikit aboot wi' them,
plesterin' aboot this thing an' that. Feech! If I was a man, as I'm a woman,
I wud kick the whole box an' dice o' them oot the entry.
I gaed by the washin'-hoose door twa-three times, an' heard the spittin',
an' the ochin' an' ayin', an' some bletherin' aboot sprentin', an' rubbin'
doon, an' sic like; but I cud mak' nether heid nor tail o't. But, I can tell
ye, baith heid an' tail o't cam' oot on Setarday nicht.
Sandy, as uswal, put on his goshores on Setarday efternune, an' awa' he gaed
aboot five o'clock, an' I saw nae mair o' him till the lang legs o' him----
But you'll learn aboot that sune eneuch. It was a sicht, the first sicht I
got o' him, I can tell you.
I was takin' a bit cuppie o' tea to mysel' aboot seven o'clock, for I had
been terriple busy a' forenicht. Nathan was stanin' at the table as uswal,
growk-growkin' awa' for a bit o' my tea biskit. "I dinna like growkin'
bairns," I says to Nathan, juist as I was genna gie him a bit piece an' some
noo grozer jeel on't.
"I'm no' carin'," he says, blawin' his nose atween his finger an' his thoom,
an' syne dichtin't wi' his bonnet. "I wasna growkin'; but at ony rate I'll
no tell ye aboot Sandy. He said he wud gie me a letherin' if I was a
clash-pie; but I was juist genna tell you, but I'll no' do't noo," an' oot
at the door he gaed. I cried on him to come back, but, yea wud!
I saw nae mair o' him for half an 'oor, when in he comes to the back shop wi'
a bundle o' claes an' flang them i' the flure. "There's Sandy's claes," says
he. "I got them frae Bandy Wobster at the tap o' the street. He got them
lyin' oot the Sands, an' he disna ken naething aboot Sandy."
"O, Alick Bowden," I says to mysel', says I; "I kent this would be the end
o't some day! He's gane awa' dookin' an' gotten himsel' drooned. O, my puir
man! I howp they'll get his body, or never anither bit o' fish will I eat!
There's Mistress Mertin fand a galace button in a red-waur codlin's guts
lest week; an' it's no' so very lang syne sin' Mistress Kenawee got fower
bits o' skellie i' the crap o' a colomy. Puir Sandy! I winder hoo they'll do
wi' the bural society bawbees?"
"Is Sandy deid, Bawbie?" says Nathan.
"Ay; I doot he's deid, Nathan, laddie," says I.
"An' will you lat me get a ride on the dickie at the bural, Bawbie?" says
Nathan, clawin' his heid throo a hole in his glengairy.
"Haud your tongue, laddie,"
says I; "ye dinna ken what you're speakin' aboot."
I gaithered up the claes. There was nae mistakin' them. They were Sandy's!
The breeks pooches were foo o' nails an' strings, an' as muckle ither
rubbish as you wudda gotten in Peattie Broon's, the pigman's, back shop.
There was a lot o' fiddle rozit i' the weyscot, an' a box o' queer-lookin'
ointment ca'd auntie stuff. But what strack me first was that his seamit an'
his drawers werena there. "Cud he gane in dookin' wi' them on?" thocht I to
mysel'. I cudna see throo't ava.
I gaed awa' to the shop door juist to look oot, an' I sees Pottie Lawson,
Bandy Wobster, an' twa-three mair at the tap o' the street lauchin' like ony
thing. I throo the key i' the door in a blink, an' up the street I goes.
Pottie was juist in the middle o' a great hallach o' a lauch, when I grippit
him by the collar. He swallowed the rest o' his lauch, I can tell you.
"What hae ye dune till my man, ye nesty, clorty, ill-lookin', mischeevious
footer?" I says, giein' him a shak' that garred him turn up the white o' his
"Tak' your hand off me, you ill-tongued bissam," saya he, "or I'll lay your
feet fest for you."
"Will you?" says I; an' I gae him a shuve that kowpit him heels-ower-heid
ower the tap o' Gairner Winton's ae-wheeled barrow, that was sittin' ahent
him. When he got himsel' gaithered oot amon' the peycods an' cabbitch, he
was genna be at me, but Dauvid Kenawee stappit forrit, an' says he, "Saira
ye richt, ye gude-for-naething snipe 'at ye are. Lift a hand till her, an'
I'll ca' the chafts o' ye by ither."
"What bisness hae you shuvin' your nose in?" says Pottie Lawson. "There was
naebody middlin' wi' you."
"Juist you keep your moo steekit, Pottie," says Dauvid, "or I'll mibby be
middlin' wi' you. You're a miserable pack o' vagues, a' the lot o' ye, to
gae wa' an' tak' advantage o' an' auld man! Yah! Damish your skins, I cud
thrash the whole pack o' ye." He up wi' his niv an' took a hawp forrit.
Pottie gaed apung ower the barrow again, an' sat doon on the tap o' the
Gairner, wha was busy gaitherin' up his gudes.
"Come awa', Bawbie," says Dauvid, takin' a haud o' my airm, "Sandy 'ill turn
up yet." So awa' we gaed, leavin' the fower or five o' them wammlin' awa'
amon' the cabbitch, juist like what swine generally do when they get in amon'
a gairner's stocks.
"Sandy's a fulish man," said Dauvid, when we landit at the shop door.
"Ye micht as weel tell me that twice twa's fower, Dauvid," says I. "Fulish
is no' the wird for't."
"There's been some haiverin' amon' them aboot rinnin'; an' Sandy, like an
auld fule, had been bouncin' aboot what he could do," gaed on Dauvid,
withoot mindin' what I said. "Sandy's fair gyte aboot fitba' an' harryin'
an' sic like ploys. Weel-a-weel, Pottie Lawson an' twa-three mair o' them
got Sandy to mak' a wadger o' five bob that he wud rin three miles in
twenty-five meenits oot the Sands, an' they tell me Sandy's been oot twa-three
times trainin' himsel'. To mak' a lang story short--Bandy Wobster gae me the
particulars--the race cam' aff the nicht. Sandy strippit juist doon at the
second slippie on the Sands yonder. He keepit naething on but his inside
sark, an' his drawers, an' a pair o' slippers, an' aff he set to rin ootby
to the targets an' back. He wasna fower meenits awa' when the lot o' the
dirty deevils--that I shud ca' them sic a name--gaithered up Sandy's claes
an' cam' their wa's in the road, leavin' Sandy to get hame the best wey he
cud. Bandy Wobster gae the claes to Nathan at the tap o' the street, an'
tell'd him he fand them on the Sands."
"But whaur'll Sandy be?" says I.
"That's mair than I can tell, Bawbie; but I'll rin doon for the mistress,
an' she'll look efter the shop till we gae oot the Sands an' see if we can
fa' in wi' him," said Dauvid.
Dauvid gaed awa' for Mistress Kenawee, an' I ran up the stair to the garret
to throw on my bonnet, takin' Sandy's claes wi' me. Preserve's a', when I
lookit into the garret, here's the skylicht open, an' twa lang, skranky
legs, wi' a pair o' buggers at the end o' them, wammlin' aboot like twa
rattlesnakes tryin' to get to the fluir. I drappit the claes, oot at the
door, an' steekit it ahent me. I keekit in aneth the door, juist to see what
wud happen. Sandy landit cloit doon on the flure, an' sat sweitin', an'
pechin', an' ac'ually greetin'. What a picture he presentit! I cudna tell ye
a' what he said. There were a lot o' wirds amon't that's no' i' the
dictionar'; an' I can tell ye, if Pottie Lawson an' Bandy Wobster get the
half o' what Sandy promised them, baith in this world an' the next, they'll
no hae far to find for a sair place.
"Man, gin ye'd haen the brains o' a cock spug," I heard him sayin' till
himsel', "ye michta jaloosed they were to play ye some prank. You muckle,
dozent gozlin'," he says; an' he took himsel' a skelp i' the side o' the
heid wi' his open luif that near ca'd him on his back. In his stagger his
feet tickled amon' his claes, an' he gaithered them up, an' lookit fair
dumfoondered like. He put them a' on; an' gyne--what think you? Puir Sandy
ac'ually sat doon an' claspit his hands, an' I heard him sayin', "I'm an
awfu' eedeit, a pure provoke to a' 'at belangs me! but if I'm forgi'en this
time, I'll try an' do better frae this day forrit. An' I'll gie Pottie
Lawson a killin' that he'll no' forget in a hurry. He'll better waurro, if I
get a haud o' him. I'll lat Bandy Wobster awa' wi't, 'cause he's no' near
wyse, an' he's an' objeck a'ready."
Juist at this meenit Mistress Kenawee cries up the stair, "Are you there,
Bawbie?" an' I had to rin doon. I tell'd them Sandy was hame a' richt.
Dauvid wantit to see him. But, na na! I keepit what I kent o' Sandy's story
to mysel'; an', puir cratur, I was raley sorry for him. He gaed aboot a'
Sabbath rale dementit like; an', i' the efternune, I cam' in upon him i' the
back shop dancin' on the tap o' a seek o' caff, an' sayin', "Ye'll poach
neen this winter, ye----" an' so on.
Atween you an' me, it'll no' be a bawbee's-wirth o' stickin' plester that'll
sair Pottie if Sandy gets his fingers ower him.
"Ay, you cam' in withoot chappin' on Setarday nicht, Sandy," I says, says I,
at brakfast time on Munanday mornin', 'cause I saw fine he wantit to speak
"I'll do the chappin' when I get a grab o' Pottie Lawson," says Sandy. "But
I'll tell you this, Bawbie; when I was jookin' alang by the roppie, tryin'
to get hame, it's as fac's ocht, I thocht twa-three times o' gaen plunk in
amon' the water, an' makin' a feenish o't. I was that angry an' ashamed.
But, man, I ran up throo the yairds, without onybody seein's, an' got in at
the skylicht. I'll swag, Bawbie, I never was gledder than when I cam' cloit
doon on my hurdies on the garret flure. But, as Rob Roy says, there's a day
o' rekinin'; an', by faigs, there'll be some fowk 'ill get the stoor taen
oot o' their jeckits when it comes roond, or my name's no Si Bowden!"