"Are ye there, Sandy? Sandy,
are ye there? Sandy! I winder whaur that man'll be? He'll gae awa' an' leave
the shop stanin' open to the street, as gin it were a byre, an' never think
naething aboot it! Are ye there, Sandy?" I heard Bawbie sayin' in her bed
the ither mornin'.
"Ay, I'm here," says I. "What are ye yalp-yalpin' at? What d'ye want? I had
throo to the cellar to rin for tatties to Mistress Hasties. What was ye
"See, look! Ye micht pet the pot on the fire there, an' warm that drappie
pottit-hoach brue; an' ye'll tak' it alang to Mary Emslie," said Bawbie. "Puir
cratur, she's gotten her death o' cauld some wey or ither, an' I think she's
smittit her bairnie; for when I was yont yesterday forenune, the puir little
thingie was near closed a'thegither. Juist poor the brue into the flagon,
Sandy, an' open the second lang drawer there, an' ye'll get some bits o'
things rowed thegither, an' tak' them alang an' gie them to Mary. Turn
the lookin'-gless roond this wey a bittie on the dresser there, an I'll
notice in't if onybody comes into the shop, an' tell them to hover a blink
till ye rin yont to Mary's. Rin noo, Sandy, an' speer at Mary if she has
coals an' sticks, an' tell her to keep on a gude fire. Puir cratur!"
"Mary's a fell lot better the day, she thinks, Bawbie," says I, when I cam'
back; "an' she tell'd me the nurse had been in an' snoddit up her hoose till
her, an' sortit the bairn. Puir cratur, she ac'ually grat when I gae her the
bits o' things for the litlan; an' tell'd me to thank ye. She was terriple
taen up when I said you wasna able to be up the day, an' howps ye'll be
better gin the morn."
"I think I'm better, but I'm awfu' licht i' the heid yet," says Bawbie. "Ye
micht get the pen an' ink, Sandy, an' send a scart or twa to thae prenter
bodies. Juist say I've taen a kind o' a dwam, but that I'll likely be a'
richt again in a day or twa. An' see an' watch your spellin'. Gin ony o' the
wirds are like to beat ye, juist speer at me, an' I'll gie ye a hand wi'
"A' richt than, Bawbie; I'll do that," says I. "Noo, juist try an' get a
sleep for a whilie, an' I'll go ben to the shop dask an' write a scrift for
So noo when I have the chance, I'll better juist mention that Bawbie got
terriple seek i' the forenicht yesterday, an' she hardly ever steekit an e'e
a' lest nicht. An' nether did I, for that pairt o't, for she byochy-byochied
awa' the feck o' the nicht, an' I cudna get fa'in' ower. But I didna say
onything, for I doot I'm to blame, although I've never lutten dab that I
jaloosed ony thing had happened.
Bawbie was juist gaen awa' to hae her efternune cup yesterday, an' I was
chappin' oot the dottle o' my pipe on the corner o' the chumla, when it flaw
oot an' gaed oot o' sicht some wey. I socht heich an' laich for't, but na,
na; it wasna to be gotten. I thocht syne it had gane into the fire. But it's
my opinion noo, it had fa'in' into Bawbie's teapot! She was sayin' ilky noo-an'-than,
"That tea has a dispert queer taste, Sandy. What can be the maitter wi't?" I
never took thocht; but when Bawbie fell seek, an' groo as white's a penny
lafe, thinks I to mysel', "That's your dottle, Sandy Bowden!" But I never
lut wink; for, keep me, if Bawbie had kent, I micht as weel gane awa' an'
sleepit on the Sands for the next twa-three nichts. She's a gude-heartit
budy; but, man, she gets intil an awfu' pavey whiles, an' she's nether to
hand nor to bind when she gets raised. But, for ony sake, dinna lat on I was
Bawbie's an awfu' cratur to tell fowk aboot me an' my ongaens. Weel, there's
a lot o' truth in what she says, I maun admit; altho' she mak's a heap o'
din juist aboot twa-three kyowows, noo-an'-than. I dinna ken hoo it is ava',
I canna help mysel' sometimes. Man, the daftest-like ideas tak' a haud o' me
whiles--juist like a flesher grippin' a sheep by the horns--a n', do what I
like, I canna get oot o' their grips.
For instance, I was gaen up the brae juist the ither nicht, an' the kirk
offisher was stanin' at the kirk door.
"Wud ye bide i' the kirk for ten meenits till I rin hame for a bissam
shaft?" says he. "I've broken the ane I have."
"Oo, ay," says I; "I'll do that."
Weel, man, I wasna twa meenits into the kirk when I windered what like it
was for size aside Gayneld Park, an' I thocht I wud see if I cud rin fower
times roond it in five meenits. I buttoned my coat, an' lookit the time, an'
aff I set up ae passage, ower the pletform, doon the ither passage, throo
the lobby, an' so on. I was juist aboot feenishin' when, gaen sweesh oot at
ane o' the doors, I cam' clash up again' the minister, an' sent him spinnin'
into the middle o' the lobby, an' the collection plate in his oxter.
"What in the name of common sense is the matter with you?" said he, gettin'
up, an' shakin' the stoor aff his hat.
"Man, ye shud keep aff the coorse," says I, forgettin' for the meenit whaur
I was. "I was tryin' to brak' the record."
"Break the record!" he says, in a most terrible fizz. "If it wasna for the
laws of the country, I'd break your head."
Man, the passion o' the sacket was raley veeshis. He ac'ually spat oot the
wirds; an', faigs, I steekit baith my nivs an' keepit my e'e on him, for
fear he micht lat dab at me.
Juist at that meenit the kirk offisher cam' in, an' the minister turned, an'
gleyin' roond at me gey feared like, said something till him, an' I heard
them crackin' aboot gettin' me hame in a cab. I saw in a wink what they were
"Ye needna bather your heids ahoot a cab," says I. "I'm wyser than the twa
o' ye puttin' thegither; so keep on your dickies. Gude-nicht," says I; an'
doon the front staps I gaed, three at a time, an' hame.
The beathel cam' doon afore he gaed hame, an' speered what i' the world had
"I was juist comin' oot at the kirk door," says I, "when the minister cam'
skelp up again' me." I didna mention 'at I was rinnin'. "The cratur drappit
i' the flure," says I, "like's he'd been shot; an' then to crack aboot me
bein' daft! Did ye ever hear the like?"
The kirk offisher gaed awa' hame, clawin' his heid, an' sayin' till himsel',
"Weel, it raley snecks a' thing. There's some ane o' the three o's no' very
soond i' the tap, shurely; an' whuther it's me or no', I raley canna mak'
But what I want to lat you see is that I do thae daft-like things sometimes,
I dinna very weel ken hoo. I canna tell ye what wey it comes aboot. Is ony
o' ye lads ever affekit like that? Man, I've seen me gaen to the kirk wi'
Bawbie sometimes, dressed in my sirtoo an' my lum, an' my gloves an'
pocket-hankie, an' a'thing juist as snod's a noo thripenny bit, an', a' o' a
sudden, I wud hae to pet my tongue atween my teeth, an' grip my umberell
like's I was wantin' to chock it, juist to keep mysel' frae tumblin' a
fleepy or a catma i' the middle o' the road amon' a' the kirk fowk, him hat,
sirtoo, an' a'thegither. What can ye mak' o' the like o that? It's my
opinion sometimes that I was never meent to behave mysel'; an' yet I'm
sensible o' doin' most terriple stewpid things of'en. It's a mystery to me,
an' a dreefu' dwang to Bawbie. But what can ye do? You canna get medisin for
that kind o' disease! As Bawbie says, I'll never behave till I'm killed; an'
the fac' o' the maitter is, I'm no' very shure aboot mysel' even efter that.
I ken it's an awfu' job for Bawbie tholin' my ongaens; but, at the same
time, if it wasna me, the neeper wives an her wudna hae onything to mak' a
molligrant aboot ava. As the Bible says, we're fearfu' an' winderfu' made,
an', I suppose, we maun juist mak' the best o't.